In 2003, citing disappointing ratings, MSNBC fired TV legend Phil Donahue. However, “Donahue” was the channel’s top-rated show, beating out “Hardball with Chris Matthews.”
The real reason for his dismissal from the network? His vocal opposition to the Iraq war.
Despite being hired to provide a liberal counterpart to Fox News’ Bill O’Riley, a study done by the network claimed Donahue created a “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war … He seems to delight in presenting guests who are anti-war, anti-Bush and skeptical of the administration’s motives.”
The report noted that the show could become “a home for the liberal anti-war agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity.”
Now, 11 years later, Donahue is taking the chance to say “I told you so.”
In an interview with Salon, he discussed his critically-acclaimed, anti-Iraq War documentary, “Body of War,” the current coverage of the situation in Iraq, and reflects on his choice to vote for President Obama.
On his frustration over the Iraq War:
“I’d very much like you to see the behavior of the congressmen [in my film]. They were summoned to the White House by WHIG, White House Iraq Group. This is a Karl Rove committee that included the advertising warriors who named our invasion “Shock and Awe,” and “Rolling Thunder,” like video games. And they gave them their talking points: “A smoking gun will become a mushroom cloud”; “The longer we wait, the more dangerous he becomes”; “Saddam has more weapons of mass destruction than Hitler ever had”; “I see Hitler in Saddam Hussein.” And they read this, they’re looking down at the piece of paper, in what was at most a shell debate, that led to the deaths of over 4,500 service people, men and women both, not to mention how many injuries, we’re not even sure, we’re not even sure how many Iraqis are dead, and the refugees are in the millions.”
On the coverage of the current situation in Iraq:
“…We still have Cheney, with the vice president identification historically, and so he becomes valuable. Media elite cover media power. That’s why you won’t see Amy Goodman on “Meet the Press.” That’s why people like Dennis Kucinich are marginalized. The liberal is “the political vision that dare not speak its name,” as Oscar Wilde said. It’s like, we’ve been so marginalized that we don’t call ourselves liberals anymore, we’re “progressives” now. Antiwar demonstrations are not really covered — they weren’t, certainly not with the gusto we heard when the bomb-throwers, at their rallies, they were all over the news. And now we have John McCain who seems ready to bomb everybody.”
On voting for Obama and what to expect in 2016:
“I very proudly voted for Obama … I mean, I interviewed Rosa Parks! … From that, to “I, Barack Obama, do solemnly swear.” Well, you know, that moved me. That really moved me. I went, “Wow.” And it’s been somewhat of a disappointment the last two years. But it certainly could be worse, and I’m not sorry I voted for him. I think he’s an honorable man. But as to who I’m going to vote for to replace him? I’m going to hold my cards there … I’ve been maybe a little too enthusiastic and jumped the gun the last several times, so we’ll see. Although, I got my eye on Bernie Sanders.”