Sawyer Celebrates Dixie Chicks: 'Roaring Back,' 'Spirited' and 'Unbowed'

A half hour after championing Al Gore's "comeback" on Tuesday's Good Morning America (see this earlier NewsBusters item), the show celebrated the Dixie Chicks and their new album, treating them as victims for the negative reaction to the lead singer's 2003 charge, from overseas, that she was "ashamed" to be from the same state as President Bush. Diane Sawyer fretted over how "suddenly country radio stations pulled their music, people destroyed the album, hounded their relatives and tracked them down with death threats." But, she touted, "they are roaring back. It is a new album called 'Taking the Long Way' and in it they dare to announce, at least when it comes to the haters, they're not ready to make nice. They are spirited, unbowed and they are back with a new single called 'Not Ready to Make Nice.'" Sawyer insisted that "among their biggest supporters were the soldiers fighting in Iraq who said they were fighting for the right to freedom of thought and speech." After highlighting how the group's video features a hit on Vice President Cheney -- "to talk without thinking is to shoot without aiming" -- Sawyer read a sympathetic e-mail to them: "Do you feel basically that you've been vindicated and that the American public moved to your position?" (Transcript follows)

This item in appeared in Wednesday’s MRC CyberAlert.

Sawyer set up the taped interview with the three members of the group which ran in the 7:30am half hour of the May 23 program. Transcript provided by the MRC’s Brian Boyd who caught the glowing segment:
Diane Sawyer: "And now the Dixie Chicks, the singing sensations. The three bold women who taught their fans to live big, let go and even take on Earl. All this of course while making the sweetest harmonies. And then three years ago, as everyone knows, lead singer Natalie Maines said about the impending war in Iraq said she was ashamed that President Bush was from her home state, Texas. The reaction to her words was seismic and from some people even vicious.

"Well, in the three years since they have been raising families and thinking while everybody wondered what they would say. The answer comes out this morning. They are roaring back. It is a new album called 'Taking the Long Way' and in it they dare to announce, at least when it comes to the haters, they're not ready to make nice."



"They are spirited, unbowed and they are back with a new single called 'Not Ready to Make Nice.'”

Sawyer to the Chicks on a sofa on the GMA set: "But you must have had a conversation about whether to just write about other things, move on, leave it alone."

Emily Robinson: "It would have felt very false to just kind of go, okay, nothing happened. And there's this, you know, obviously important issue that hasn't been dealt with."

Natalie Maines: "Are we suppose to lie about all of those feelings that we had? It's very vulnerable."

Martie Maguire: "For us, that [new single] is what we wanted to say and it was the perfect way to say it."

Sawyer: "Did you lose some friends forever?"

Maguire: "Yeah, sure. Emily always says it perfectly. Her Rolodex is a little neater and lighter."

Robinson as she pretends to scroll through a Rolodex: "They're gone, stay, they're gone."

Maguire: "You really do find out who really cares about you because at the end of the day it wasn't, for good friends it's not about what you do. People go to jail everyday and their friends and families support them, right? And they've actually done something wrong. So, it was interesting how quickly some people fled."

Sawyer: "That of course was three years ago when the biggest selling female artists in country were riding the wave of the giant hit 'Landslide.' Then lead singer Natalie Maines made her comment. Suddenly country radio stations pulled their music, people destroyed the album, hounded their relatives and tracked them down with death threats."

Sawyer to Chicks: "When you look back at March 10, 2003, how does it look from here?"

Maguire: "Really absurd, really strange, and then when I think back to what she said, she's ashamed our President is from Texas. It's like whamp, whamp. Where's the hoopla? How could, how does that make somebody so angry?"

Robinson: "Aren't there much more important things than what a country singer thinks about the President? It was just being caught in a moment when our country wasn't tolerant of those things."

Sawyer: "In an interview with me back then Natalie tried to explain that her words were simply about fear heading into a war she didn't think had been justified."

Natalie Maines in April 24, 2003 ABC interview: "It's not that I don't ever want you to clean things up and fix things, it's just why can't we find the chemical weapons first? Why can't we, just why tomorrow?"

Sawyer: "And we were surprised. Among their biggest supporters were the soldiers fighting in Iraq who said they were fighting for the right to freedom of thought and speech."

Soldier in Iraq: "Everybody has their right to their opinion."

Second soldier in Iraq: "I like them. They're pretty."

Sawyer: "But three years later their new album finds the President with poll ratings at an all-time low. Their lyrics, by the way, they say are aimed only at those who continue to hate."

Sawyer to Chicks: "'How in the world can the words that I said send somebody over the edge that they'd write me a letter saying I'd better shut up and sing or my life will be over?'"

Maines: "Singing the chorus brings tears to my eyes. I'm not, I look angry, but I'm angry at the hatred and what it felt like to have that hatred on you."

Sawyer: "There's also an inside joke at Vice President Cheney's shooting accident."

Sawyer to Chicks: "Tell me about the moment in the video 'Not Ready to Make Nice' when you go up to the blackboard."

Maines: "It was right after Cheney had (laughs) shot. We thought (laughs) we hit two issues at once. It was a little funny. Showing that we're not that different after all."

[Words on blackboard in music video: "to talk without thinking is to shoot without aiming"]

Sawyer: "We ask about e-mails you sent. The first one-"

Sawyer to Chicks, reading e-mail: "Do you feel basically that you've been vindicated and that the American public moved to your position?"

Maines: "This isn't the situation for an I told you so. It's just regret that more people didn't ask the questions that everyone just sort of blindly followed. And I think it was out of fear."

Sawyer to Chicks: "Another one said, 'if you could go back and do it again, would you?'"

Maines: "I don't regret anything and I'm so glad it happened because it reminded me of who I am."

Sawyer to Chicks: "Paid a price you think? Are you still paying a price?"

Maguire: "We paid a small price, but we gained so much more. We're way down on the suffering list, but all of us feel personally that this has changed us for the better. I would not change a thing."

Sawyer: "What about this tour?"

Robinson: "I think when you're just kicked in the gut and you have to take a few steps back everything now is almost like that first album where you're like, wow, that happened. Really? You know, not everybody hates our guts. I think it's more exciting now. And I'm excited to play the music again. I think we're all very proud of this album."

Sawyer: "By the way, even though a number of country stations are still boycotting their music, Time magazine says 'You probably won't hear a better adult pop album this year.' And it is number one on Amazon."
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center