Reed Irvine - Editor
|March A, 1987|
THE DONAHUE DONNYBROOK
Howard Rosenberg, the leftist TV critic of the Los Angeles Times, was depressed by the performance of Kris Kristofferson, the star of ABC's "Amerika," on the Donahue Show on February 16. Rosenberg wrote: "He was pathetic while inarticulately trying to defend the pro-Sandinista, anti-Nicaraguan rebel position in a satellite appearance from the Soviet Union on Monday's Donahue episode devoted to 'Amerika.' He sounded like a naive Soviet apologist while being destroyed in a mini-debate with that faster-talking right-wing demagogue Reed Irvine of Accuracy in Media."
Donahue, who himself had spent the previous week in the Soviet Union doing his program from there, invited Kristofferson, Irvine and William Colby, the former head of the CIA, to discuss "Amerika." AIM has been deluged with calls and mail from those who saw the program and loved what they saw. Since many of you missed it, here are some of the highlights from the transcript.
Asked by Donahue what was wrong with "Amerika," Irvine said one of the most serious flaws was the lack of a realistic explanation for Amerbloodless subjugation. He said it was important that the people understand that there is a realistic scenario. The formula is (1) external encirclement, (2) internal demoralization, and (3) nuclear blackmail. External encirclement is proceeding, some 211 countries having fallen to communism since 1939. Internal demoralization is helped by those who con- tend that the Soviets have no hostile intentions and that we ought to drastically cut the defense budget and do away with our nuclear weapons and the SDI. If they had their way, the Soviets would be able to declare "checkmate," saying, "Do what we tell you, or it's curtains for the United States."
DONAHUE: I have just returned from the Soviet Union.... The Russians are nice people.
IRVINE: Many of them are. But not those people that are beating up our reporters, the reporters that you yourself interviewed; that are beating up the refuseniks, that you yourself interviewed. Are they nice people? They represent the system, and the system is not a nice system ....
COLBY: I think Mr. Irvine... has it very well. The Russian system--anyone who knows anything about it despises it. It's a lousy system. But at the same time ... (it) is totally unreal to think of a Soviet occupation of the United States. It just couldn't happen. If you say where the people feel encircled, of all the people in the world that ought to feel encircled, it's the Soviets.... This program... adds to that anti- Soviet hysteria that is so much a feature of various bad points in our history: McCarthyism, the period after World War I of the Red-baiting, and all the rest. The problem we have as Americans is to live in the world with the Soviet Union, because we can't eliminate them; and the question is, how can we exist without destroying each other? The more hatred that we develop, on both sides, the worse we both are."
IRVINE: We're not asking for hatred. We're asking for realism. And you admit that the system is a terrible, despicable, and a threatening system. You say they're not threatening us. Tell that to the people in those 30 countries that have fallen to communism. Try to tell it to your friends, the Vietnamese ....
COLBY: It doesn't threaten the United States.
IRVINE: Try to tell those people that this is hysteria.... I've talked to Vietnamese who have said, "My God, we would rather have the atomic bomb than what has happened to us under the occupation by these people."
COLBY: If this program had a central theme of anti- Semitism, anti-black, anti-Hispanic, this country would be in an uproar. But if it's anti-Soviet, "Oh it's fine. It's just fiction." Well, it is fiction.
IRVINE: While you (Donahue) were there saying, "Let's love each other and we're just like each other," you had Peter Arnett (CNN correspondent in Moscow) telling you: "I read in the Soviet papers that we in the United States were responsible for creating the AIDS virus and spreading it around the world. I read that we, the CIA... was responsible for killing those 969 people down at... the People's Temple in Jonestown." And I just saw yesterday that the Soviets have produced a documentary saying that it was the CIA that was responsible for killing Prime Minister Olof Palme of Sweden. Where is the reciprocity?
COLBY: You get reciprocity in various magazines in this country that put out the same story about the Soviets being at the bottom of everything.
IRVINE: But this is official. Every thing that's published in the Soviet Union is official....
KRISTOFFERSON: (from Moscow) I think the general feeling is one of hurt and confusion as to why we continue to perceive the Russians as enemies. I have trouble answering that. IRVINE: Why don't you ask them why they put out this disinformation in their own press, why they make documentaries accusing us of killing Palme?
KRISTOFFERSON; We have enough disinformation in our own press. We have enough terrorism-by-proxy in Nicaragua, that I'm not anxious to be... critical of another government. IRVINE: Let's not point the finger at them. Let's not look accusatorily at them and what they're doing, huh? Is that it?
KRISTOFFERSON: Listen, if I were a Russian, I would be complaining about Afghanistan. Mikhail Gorbachev mentioned Afghanistan, along with Central America, today when he talked about the problems of the developing world.
IRVINE: Did he say they were going to get out and let those four million refugees come back home?
KRISTOFFERSON: ...I think from what I've seen today at the Peace Forum, from what I have been reading about the new democratization in Russia, Mikhail Gorbachev may be the most progressive leader since John Kennedy. It's a shame he hasn't got Kennedy working with him on the other side, so he might--
IRVINE: Who's he going to be running against in the next election, Kris?
COLBY: I wouldn't compare him with John Kennedy, but I would say he's the most progressive Soviet leader we've had in this generation.
DONAHUE: That's his point. That's what he's saying.
IRVINE: That isn't saying a hell of a lot.
IRVINE: Let's do a movie showing ten years after the United States occupies the Soviet Union.... I was in the occupation of Japan, and ten years after we had a country that was booming, that was free, had an elected government. People were free to go anywhere they wanted. Imagine what it would be like in the Soviet Union ten years after the occupation--
COLBY: Here he is proving that communism is bad and that America's good.
IRVINE: A free press, free elections, pull out of Afghanistan, private enterprise going all over the place, people owning their own land, the farmers able to farm.
KRISTOFFERSON: ...In the Soviet Union, they're calling for the demilitarization of the world and saying that communism can compete effectively, without military, with capitalism.... Why can't we say the same thing?.... I'm gratified by the amount of the debate (about "Amerika"), I just wish that real-life events could stir up a similar outcry. I wish that we had people protesting our own government's policy of terrorism-by-proxy in Nicaragua....
IRVINE: One of the great things in my movie scenario, Kris... is that ten years after we've occupied them, the Soviets would quit supporting terrorism in the Middle East. We wouldn't have all these kidnappings. It's Soviet state-sponsored terrorism. That's what's causing the trouble in the Middle East. Wouldn't it be great to get rid of that?
IRVINE: Kris, why don't you go down and demonstrate with those refuseniks down there and see if all the goons beat you up like they did the American reporters the other day. Try that. Are you in sympathy with the refuseniks? You know who they are?
KRISTOFFERSON: Yes, I know who the refuseniks are.
IRVINE: Are you sympathetic toward them?
KRISTOFFERSON: And--ahh, I have--I have-- I'm getting together with some refuseniks in a few days.
IRVINE: Will you go down and demonstrate for the right to ...
KRISTOFFERSON: Listen, will you go down and demonstrate with me against our involvement with the Contras in Nicaragua?
IRVINE: No, because I disagree with you. But you said you were sympathetic with the refuseniks. Therefore, I think you ought to go out on the streets and demonstrate with them ....
Irvine pointed out that on one of his broadcasts from Moscow. Donahue had as a guest Samuil Zivs, the head of the official Soviet anti-Zionist committee. Zivs had announced that 500 Jews were to be permitted to leave and that the number might be up to 5,000 by the end of the year. Irvine pointed out that a little over a year ago Zivs was on TV programs in this country (including Donahue's) saying that Jewish emigration was only 500 a year because that was all that wanted to leave. He asked Donahue why he hadn't said to Zivs: "Sam, how come in this period of 'glasnost' and easing up, how come we've got 5,000 Jews that want to leave, and last year you said it was only 500 that wanted to leave?"
Donahue replied: "Once again, I have failed you, Reed."
When Sandinista troops barreled across the Honduran border and attacked the bases of the Nicaraguan freedom fighters in Honduras on March 24, 1986, Richard Schlesinger, the CBS correspondent in Honduras, poured a large bucket of cold water on the reports. He said his sources had described it as a "propaganda ploy" and as part of an effort by President Reagan to sell his $100 million aid package for the "Contras." Schlesinger's sources were obviously different from those of other reporters, who provided accurate reports of the attack, which was subsequently admitted by Nicaragua's president, Daniel Ortega.
On February 10 and 11, Schlesinger again displayed what appeared to be a strong leftist bias in a two-part investigative report of charges that the FBI had carried out surveillance of groups opposing President Reagan's Central American policies. In introducing Schlesinger's reports, Dan Rather referred to these groups as "political and religious." He said there were "accusations that the FBI went beyond infiltration to actual break-ins, and even beyond that, to sharing information that possibly wound up in the hands of right-wing political assassination squads in El Salvador." Rather added, "The accusations come from a man who says he knows because he helped the FBI do it."
The man, a Salvadoran named Frank Varelli, told CBS News that he had been recruited by the FBI to infiltrate the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES). Varelli said that he had been told by the FBI that CISPES was a terrorist organization with ties to the Communists, but he found this to be untrue. He said, "CISPES is nothing of what the bureau had said, what the FBI had said. CISPES is a group of religious individuals, men, women, religious people, that want because of religious reasons... to help the Salvadoran people."
Schlesinger's report contained no hard evidence that the FBI had engaged in any break-ins. But Varelli said he had been told they had occurred and Schlesinger reported that CISPES members were somehow able to "confirm" that documents described as stolen had been stored in their office. The evidence for the FBI's link to right-wing Salvadoran death squads consisted of Varelli's claim that, after a trip to El Salvador on behalf of the FBI, he maintained contact by phone with a National Guard colonel there. The CBS Evening News featured copies of telephone logs of calls Varelli had made to El Salvador, some of which had been taped. In one conversation, played for dramatic effect on the CBS Evening News, Varelli and someone identified by CBS as a member of the Salvadoran National Guard conversed in Spanish. A translation showed that Varelli was giving this individual the name of the leftist Coalition for a New Foreign end Military Policy in El Salvador. "While he was working for the FBI," Schlesinger reported, "Varelli also gave the National Guard the Coalition's address and phone number." Schlesinger interviewed a spokes- man for the Coalition, who agreed that the matter was shocking.
Schlesinger reported that Varelli was suing the FBI, "charging the bureau didn't pay him full salary." But the CBS correspondent didn't explore the question of whether his allegations were designed to attract publicity for himself and his case against the bureau. Schlesinger concluded his second report saying that a congressional subcommittee was going to hold hearings on "covert FBI operations" and that Varelli, a scheduled witness, had a story that "may prove ex- plosive."
On February 12. after the CBS reports aired, CISPES held a news conference in front of the FBI building in Washington to charge the bureau with carrying out "illegal" activities against it. Although Schlesinger had not made the claim that the FBI had engaged in any illegalities. CISPES cited as "evidence" for its charge the information presented by Schlesinger. CISPES expressed support for the hearings on the subject that had been called by Rep. Don Edwards (D-Calif.) of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights.
The CBS News reports had made it appear as though the FBI could have absolutely no legitimate reason to investigate CISPES. Schlesinger ignored the fact that FBI Director William Webster, in 1986 testimony before the Edwards subcommittee, acknowledged that the FBI was "keeping track" of certain individuals within CISPES, in whom the bureau had "a legitimate independent foreign counterintelligence interest." This term refers to coping with a possible threat to U.S. national security from foreign sources.
The Edwards hearings, as Schlesinger predicted, did turn out to be "explosive." But they exploded in the faces of Schlesinger, CISPES and its supporters. In the introduction to Schlesinger's reports, Dan Rather had referred to charges that the FBI had been engaged in the "penetration" of not just CISPES but various "U.S. political and religious groups." These allegations had been made by the Center for Constitutional Rights, a leftist group whose attorney, Michael Ratner, had made an appearance in one of Schlesinger's reports. The Center had issued a 27-page compilation of "Incidents of Intelligence Gathering and Harassment" allegedly, directed against groups opposed to Administration policy in Central America. Many were said to involve break-ins, whose "victims" were to testify on the first day of the hearings.
But the steam was taken out of that day's hearings when, on the same day, the New York Times published a story by M.A. Farber knocking down the substance of the Center's charges. Of 50 such incidents, the Times said, two have been solved and "neither defendant appeared to have any political motivation." The Times said its detailed examination of all of them showed "some of the breakins seem just like routine crimes; others seem totally unlike ordinary burglaries. Still others were aborted and are difficult to assess."
In a reference to the hearings, the Times said, "Much of the testimony in the House today on burglaries had been arranged through the Center for Constitutional Rights, just as the Center is the major force behind publicity about the break-ins."
The Times highlighted the ludicrous nature of the charges by noting, "If pattern is important, there is a striking similarity between the break-ins cited by the Center for Constitutional Rights and a burglary unlikely to he cited in Congress today. The burglary occurred in December in Washington and had the usual hallmarks: no money taken, many organizational and financial documents rifled or missing. The victim was the Nicaraguan rebels' office." David Lerner of the Center was quoted as saying, "We're not putting that one on our list. Maybe they did it to themselves."
The second day of hearings featured Frank Varelli, the star of the CBS News reports, who repeated his allegations for members of Congress. After hearing his testimony. Rep. Robert W. Kastenmeier (D-Wis.) declared that it was "astounding" because, "if true, it would seem to implicate the Federal Bureau of Investigation really in a political operation of astounding proportions." However, even Kastenmeier seemed to have some doubts. He said although Varelli had quoted agents in the FBI as saying the bureau was out to get opponents of Reagan Administration policy in Central America, Varelli had actually been recruited by the FBI in November 1980, before the Reagan Administration took power.
Varelli's credibility really took a nosedive under questioning by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Minority Counsel Alan Slobodin. Sensenbrenner noted that Varelli's claims about CISPES being a harmless, innocent group clashed dramatically with statements he made in a document he claimed he wrote in 1984 which said, "During my investigation I discovered and duly reported several well- planned efforts by some members of CISPES with world-wide Communist coordination to make an attempt against the life of President Reagan at the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas." Asked if that statement was accurate, Varelli said, "To a certain degree, yes, because there were individuals posing as members of CISPES that were going to work in conjunction with other terrorist groups in the GOP convention and try to disrupt or (make an) attempt against the life of the president."
Sensenbrenner also noted that in the document Varelli had written, "CISPES is a Russian KGB 'active measures front' founded by Farid Handal, brother of Shafik Handal, the Secretary General of the Communist Party of El Salvador. Both are of Palestinian ancestry and closely related to the PLO of Yasser Arafat. The Communist Party U.S.A. played a key role in the founding and direction of CISPES." Varelli acknowledged having written this as well, but claimed that he was only following the "bureau line," what- ever that was. Sensenbrenner said the statements in the document were ample justification for an FBI investigation of CISPES.
Rep. Kastenmeier seemed to be caught off-guard by the revelation that Varelli had been responsible for two very different sets of allegations about the nature and activities of CISPES. He said the revelation of the document which Varelli wrote earlier raised questions about whether his current allegations were credible. Kastenmeier asked for an explanation from Douglass Larson, Varelli's attorney. Larson explained that Varelli's "point of view, politically, has somewhat altered." How far it has been altered became apparent when Varelli told Minority Counsel Slobodin that, "In El Salvador, the policies of the United States are wrong because the people (are) being killed down there... My people are being killed daily."
The document containing Varelli's allegations that CISPES had links to Communists and terrorists and had threatened the life of President Reagan had been mailed in April 1986 to James L. Tyson, author of Target America, and J. Michael Waller, an expert on leftist groups who works for the Council for Inter- American Security. At the time they received the document, both Tyson and Waller tried to check out Varelli's credibility. They eventually dismissed him as a "nut." At a news conference following the hearings, Waller and Tyson told of their contacts with Varelli and offered the opinion that he had been co- opted and manipulated by leftist groups.
It is apparent to anyone with an elementary knowledge of CISPES that Schlesinger's reports, described by Dan Rather as the result of "a ions investigation," were shamefully inadequate. In addition to not checking out Varelli, Schlesinger never mentioned that CISPES, in its own literature, is openly supportive of the FMLN-FDR, the military and political arms of the Communists in El Salvador. In an interview with AIM, Schlesinger claimed that he had seen CISPES literature, but he refused to concede the group supported the Salvadoran Communists. Schlesinger also claimed ignorance about a document, captured from the Salvadoran guerrillas several years ago, that describes how the Salvadoran Communist agent, Farid Handal, established CISPES with the help of the Cuban mission to the United Nations, the Communist Party U.S.A., and other U.S. political groups (see AIM Report, April 1, 1981). CISPES has helped spread disinformation helpful to the Communist cause in El Salvador, such as the story that U.S. military advisers there were teaching torture techniques.
After playing up Varelli's charses, CBS failed to report the hearing at which Varelli was discredited. Demand that CBS correct this smear of the FBI. Write to Howard Stringer, President, CBS News, 524 West 57th St., N.Y., N.Y. 10019.
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NOTES FROM THE EDITOR'S CUFF By Reed Irvine
THE LEAD STORY IN THIS ISSUE IS ABOUT THE DONAHUE SHOW OF FEBRUARY 16, TO WHICH Kris Kristofferson, the star of "Amerika," William Colby, the former head of the CIA, and I were invited to discuss the controversial ABC miniseries. We received a lot of comment from AIM members and others that saw the program. They loved it. I thought it was the best of the many discussions of "Amerika" in which I participated. I have been involved in a lot of them over the past two months, including one on "Good Morning America" and ABC's "Viewpoint." The media interest in this program was the most intense that I have ever seen. That calls for an explanation, since the series itself was generally agreed to be boring and badly done.
THIS WAS AN EXCELLENT EXAMPLE OF THE ABILITY OF A SMALL FRINGE ON THE FAR LEFT TO exploit and manipulate the media. The Communist Party, USA, which is the domestic voice of the Kremlin, was enormously successful in getting the party line widely publicized. This provides a good opportunity to show how the process works and the key role that is played by the Communist Party's daily newspaper, the People's Daily World (PDW). The PDW claims 9,400 subscribers, which is about a third as many as the AIM Report and less than a fourth as many as the conservative weekly, Human Events. Is it possible that a publication with such a puny circulation could have as much influence as I have suggested?
YES, AND DR. PAUL BUSIEK, A CLOSE STUDENT OF THE COMMUNIST PRESS EXPLAINS IT THIS WAY: "The Communist Party conducts many of its activities along military lines. Orders from the leadership of the Party to its adherents are directives which result in action. Since the Party cannot orally communicate to all its members the myriad operations underway in the country, directives must be published in the Party press. In the United States, current party line and directives are sent out on the operational level in such publications as the People's Daily World and the Communist Party journal, Political Affairs. These contain massive amounts of directives under the guise of 'news,' to be applied to concrete situations by the Communist readers and their allies. By observing what is played up in these publications, the trained Communist knows specifically what his orders are and what action he is to take. The disciplined Communist reads these publications for orders and guidance and ordinary news of the day."
FOR WEEKS BEFORE "AMERIKA" AIRED, THE PDW WAS giving the party activists their marching orders. Articles denouncing the program charged that it was "working up hatred for the Soviet people" and that it would "whip up anti-Soviet hysteria." Readers were instructed to write or telephone ABC executives, local affiliates of ABC, advertisers on the program. They were told to write letters to editors and join picket lines at ABC headquarters in New York and at ABC stations in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Daily instructions were given as in the box shown here. Readers were urged to use petition forms printed in the paper, gather signatures and send them to ABC. It took credit for Chrysler's decision to cancel its ads on "Amerika." They acknowledged the help they were getting from many other organizations and from Ted Turner and his cable channel, WTBS.
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THIS IS NOT TO SAY THAT ALL OF THE INDIVIDUALS AND ORGANIZATIONS THAT WERE criticizing "Amerika" were taking orders from the Communist Party and the PDW. What I do believe is that the PDW and its 9,000 subscribers are an extremely important and effective tool. They have influence far out of proportion to their numbers. We believe that the low key suggestions that we make to AIM members twice a month concerning letters that they should write generate several hundred letters and that these have a perceptible influence. Can there be any doubt that we could greatly increase our influence if we could communicate these suggestions daily? And what if AIM members were disciplined militants who could be mobilized to not only write those letters and make phone calls, but also to walk on picket lines in freezing weather, circulate petitions and distribute leaflets? This is the secret of Leninism's success--the use of a small, well disciplined group that can be relied upon to execute without fail the orders of the leadership and which is trained to influence and manipulate large numbers of people, directly and indirectly, who are not part of the group and subject to party discipline. It has been called "the organizational weapon." it seeks to increase its influence manyfold by getting its members into other groups, where they may hold key positions and wield great influence over the policies and activities of those groups.
AS A RESULT, MANY PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT COMMUNISTS AND MAY NOT EVEN BE PERSONALLY acquainted with a single Communist, end up helping spread the Communist Party line. I kept hearing the line in almost every discussion in which a liberal or leftist critic of "Amerika" participated. Note that in the transcript of the Donahue program excerpted in this issue, William Colby said: "This program...adds to the anti-Soviet hysteria that is so much a feature of various bad points in our history.... The more hatred that we develop, on both sides, the worse we both are." I didn't see any hysteria being developed by "Amerika." It generated a lot more boredom than hysteria. I am sure that Mr. Colby didn't pick up that language from the PDW, since I very much doubt that he reads it. I am equally sure that he didn't reach the conclusion that it would create hysteria by observing anyone growing hysterical as they watched the program. Mr. Colby was simply unwittingly repeating the line that the Soviets and their domestic spokesmen had been successful in planting in the minds of a lot of noncommunists.
THE COMMUNISTS HAVE FOUND A GREAT ALLY TO HELP THEM DISSEMINATE THEIR LINE. HE is the head of a very important media organization in this country, Ted Turner, who runs Cable News Network (CNN) and WTBS, a cable channel. In 1986 and 1987, WTBS has aired at least 14 leftist or pro-Soviet films. The People's Daily World was happy to announce that Turner had decided to give $500,000 of free air time on WTBS to air leftist or pro-Soviet films to counter ABC's "Amerika." Turner has been sending out personalized form letters to AIM members who have written to him in response to our suggestion in the AIM Report, "Turnercoat." He says in this letter that WTBS "has a firm, continuing commitment to present, and has presented, a variety of viewpoints on issues of public importance." He cites only three programs or series that could be considered as representing a conservative or anti-communist viewpoint, and all of these were aired years ago before Turner turned his coat. Questioned by Robert Novak on CNN's "Crossfire," Turner claimed that he had "cleared" for viewing Accuracy in Media's two documentaries on Vietnam.
THAT IS FALSE. WE TRIED TO GET BOTH OUR DOCUMENTARIES ON WTBS, BUT WE WERE REBUFFED. Ted Turner gave no sign of being at all interested in airing them. The American Security Council has also been rebuffed in its efforts to get pro-defense documentaries on WTBS.
TED TURNER'S APPEARANCES ON BOTH "CROSSFIRE" AND ABC'S "VIEWPOINT" ON FEB. 23, showed him to be ill-informed and extremely naive about communism. On "Viewpoint," he responded to a statement made by a Cuban exile critical of Castro's crimes against Cuba by equating the Cuban and Russian revolutions with the American Revolution! On "Cross- fire," Turner appeared to have been "Finlandized" by the Soviets. Asked if he had protested the beating up of his reporter in Moscow, Peter Arnett, the previous week, Turner responded that he had not been "officially notified" about it and had just heard about it "through the grapevine." Arnett had reported on CNN that he and his camera crew had been beaten by Soviet plainclothesmen as they were covering a peaceful protest by refuseniks, who were also beaten. Perhaps Turner thinks of CNN as a "grapevine." Explaining his failure to protest this outrageous treatment of his man in Moscow, Turner said, "I've been so damn busy I haven't had a chance to give it any consideration. But I will. I'll give it some thought." That must have reassured Peter Arnett greatly.
I THOUGHT I MIGHT GET TURNER TO FOCUS ON THE IMPORTANT DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE Soviet system and ours by asking him on "Viewpoint" to comment on my proposal that ABC produce a film that would show what life would be like in the Soviet Union ten years after it was occupied by the United States. I said this film could be based on our actual record in Germany and Japan, where we dismantled totalitarian regimes and gave the people freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly and free enterprise. I had tried without success to get Kris Kristofferson to comment on this on the Donahue show. Kristofferson just changed the subject. On "Viewpoint," Turner replied that he would rather not have any more movies about invasions and war, that he would prefer that we just focus on living together peacefully. Amb. Jeane Kirkpatrick, who was also on the "Viewpoint" panel, passed up the chance to comment on this, saying she wasn't in the business of making television programs.
DESPITE THE COOL REACTION TO MY SUGGESTION FROM KRISTOFFERSON, TURNER AND TED Koppel, I think it has great possibilities. Koppel interrupted me on "Viewpoint," pre- venting me from describing how the film would show the liberation of the Soviet colonies, and the revitalization of the economies of the countries that now make up the Soviet Empire as they moved to a free market system. I also would have pointed out that this would remove the threat of nuclear war, since the heavy burden of the Soviet's military establishment would be removed from the backs of the people, eliminating the greatest threat to world peace. Ben Stein, the writer who was responsible for the idea of "Amerika," reacted with great enthusiasm when I described the idea to him. Since ABC lost an estimated $10 million on "Amerika," due partly to disappointing ratings, they probably won't want to get involved in anything vaguely resembling it. However, I suggested to Brandon Stoddard, the president of ABC Entertainment, that if he did decide to do such a film, I hoped he would entrust the project to someone who believed in it. That was one of the reasons "Amerika" failed. Stoddard turned it over to Donald Wrye, who thought the whole idea was absurd. He didn't know what he was doing or why, and he ended up with what Steve Daley of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune called "a schizoid, melodramatic botch, disappointing to everyone."
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