CNN TALKBACK LIVE
Aired April 6, 2001 – 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZHAO YU, CHINESE FIGHTER PILOT (through translator): The U.S. side is fully responsible for this collision. I am an indignant at the actions of the U.S. spy plane crashing our plane right at our doorsteps.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I regret that a Chinese pilot is missing and I regret one of their airplanes was lost.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: But when you play chicken, sometimes you get hurt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You’ve got mail.
REP. JOHN MCHUGH (R), NEW YORK: The postal service is at the end of an era.
REP. BOB BARR (R), GEORGIA: I think if there’s one thing that the postal service could do that would guarantee its demise, it’s cut back or eliminate service on Saturday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We’ve probably confirmed that President Bush should have been the president of the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It confirms once and for all what we all knew, that Florida’s election system failed the voter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don’t think we’re ever going to reach agreement on who won Florida.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE SOPRANOS”)
JAMES GANDOLFINI, ACTOR: So where do we stand this month?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: “The Sopranos” constitutes communications that breach the individual dignity clause with respect to Italian- Americans. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We’re looking for a vindication of our reputation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE SOPRANOS”)
GANDOLFINI: Why do you do this to me?
DOMINIC CHIANESE, ACTOR: Because I’m the boss of this family. You forget.
GANDOLFINI: I forget nothing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BILL HEMMER, HOST: Talk fast before the bell; say what you have to say: It’s “Free-For-All Friday.”
Welcome to TALKBACK LIVE. It is Friday and it is “Free-For-All Friday,” where he or she who talks the fastest gets to say the mostest. I’m Bill Hemmer in today for Bobbie Battista. Today, our guest quickly in New York, Sam Greenfield, host of the “Sam Greenfield Show,” Newstalk 1050, WEVD.
Sam, nice to see you.
SAM GREENFIELD, WEVD RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Thank you.
HEMMER: From the West Coast, San Francisco, Jay Stone Shih, host and producer of the TV show, “China Crosstalk” on KTSF. Joyce Kaufman, a radio talk show host on WFTL in Miami, Florida.
Hey, Joyce. How are you?
JOYCE KAUFMAN, WFTL RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I’m doing great. Glad to be the only lady.
HEMMER: Excellent. Well, thank you. We’ll get the ladies first in a heartbeat. But first here in Atlanta, Royal Marshall, Royal T., host of the “Royal Treatment” on WSB Radio here in Atlanta.
A whole lot to cover today as you saw from the introduction a short time ago. First and foremost, though, the U.S. China standoff today. Colin Powell now quickly from a short time ago. Have a listen here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLIN POWELL, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: They were discussing a number of ideas as to how to exchange explanations, to use the term of art that I gave the other day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HEMMER: All right, again, Colin Powell from a short time ago.
Joyce, I said ladies first. If you listened to Colin Powell earlier, he said a few things that peaked my interest: “We’re exploring how to exchange explanations. We are talking about exchanging ideas.” Sounds to me, if you read between the lines, they’re trying to find some sort of language on which both sides can agree. Do you agree with that or not?
KAUFMAN: Well, I think it’s kind of like shades of Bill Clinton. And if we were really smart, what we’d do is we’d send the former president over there to make this apology, because then he could say, “Well, I’m here to apology, but it depends what you mean by the word ‘apology.’”
HEMMER: And Joyce, apologizing for what, though?
KAUFMAN: Well, I’m just being facetious.
HEMMER: I know you are, but take it a bit deeper.
KAUFMAN: There really is no need for an apology. An apology is an admission that you did something wrong. In inter — when we have countries that are spying on each other, which we know is routinely done, there is nothing wrong with observing the rules. As long as they’re in international airspace, they’re allowed.
Now you know you had a hot dog pilot who is in — has been known to try and intercept U.S. spy planes with various maneuvers and tactics. And while I would sorely regret if he were really lost and had died during his mission, that’s the risk when you do these kinds of things. Soldiers die in war all the time.
HEMMER: Yeah, Sam up in New York City, we’ve been talking about this apology throughout the week. Where do you stand right now what we’re hearing engaging between this matter?
GREENFIELD: Well, there’s two things I notice. Number one, there’s no State Department spokesman available except the secretary of state. I think that’s amazing that this is the person doing all the speaking. There’s no other spokespeople. He’s been reduced to the role of spokesperson, which I think is sad. Two, where are our allies? No allies are coming forth to help us with this. Let’s see why. Korea? Well, we put a shaft on them. They’re not going to help us. Japan? They don’t like us now. We ticked off Tony Blair. We ticked off Vicente Fox of Mexico. We’re in this alone.
HEMMER: And so it’s the U.S. against the world? Is that what you’re saying?
GREENFIELD: And which is not a smart move, because this thing about standing up and saying, “We’re not going to blink,” great. They’ve got 24 of our people.
HEMMER: Here in Atlanta, Royal T. what do you think?
ROYAL MARSHALL, WSB RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, I think that we do not owe them apology, as the previous lady, Joyce said. You have admit that something is wrong before we apologize to them. And when you’re dealing with diplomatic relations, especially with a country such as China where saving face is so important, it’s important that we recognize that if we apologize to them, that gives them the upper hand in any negotiations, and it would probably diminish our chances of getting our people back. Keep in mind when we did the accidental bombing in Belgrade, we apologized for that over and over and over again.
HEMMER: Over and over again.
MARSHALL: If you look at the sentiment of the Chinese people, our apology just was not enough for them.
HEMMER: Royal, I want you to hold that thought because we got some news upstairs. Donna Kelley, quickly. Donna, what do you have for us?
(INTERRUPTED BY CNN COVERAGE OF A LIVE EVENT)
HEMMER: Thank you much. Keep us posted on what’s happening out of Washington. And we are back now to San Francisco, Jay Stone Shih is with us.
And Jay, maybe you could give us a better understanding of how the Asian population or the Chinese people, rather, look at this apology. You were born in Shanghai, you were raised in Taiwan, been in the U.S. since 1976. Take us between the lines on the cultural differences here.
JAY STONE SHIH, “CHINACROSS” TALK HOST: Well, most of the audience in my program responded very — first of all, they are all very concerned about the outcome of the story. Secondly, they’re somewhat skeptical about the story presented by the U.S. government. As to the discussion that we just had about apology, I think we should wait for the truth to come out. I’m very glad to hear that the Chinese and the American has going to form somewhat of a joint committee to investigate the whole incident.
HEMMER: Stone, you say truth? What would be the truth? Which side have the truth, or would this be part of this joint investigation that’s been talked about yesterday?
SHIH: I think the truth should come out through the joint investigation. And President Jiang Zemin, when he first demand apology from the United States, he also mentioned that he has some evidence about the — about — he’s blaming — of course the fault is on the United States. He holds some evidence on that. And I’d like to urge President Jiang Zemin to publish the evidence. And the same token, I would like to see the United States government publish what they know about what happened before, during and after the incident took place.
HEMMER: Got it. Quickly here in our audience, I want to get some folks here who came down to our studios. For or against an apology?
Chris, what do you have there?
CHRIS: This is Brian (ph) from Alabama — Brian.
BRIAN: I think we need to apologize to the Chinese government and to the Chinese public, because if they were to do something like that to us, we would demand an apology and even more. And so I think that we should respect their rights if we want ours respected.
HEMMER: On the other side of the room here, Jason (ph), do you agree or not?
JASON: I disagree. I don’t think that we should apologize because we don’t have all of the facts yet. And based on what that pilot said this morning, it was all propaganda from the Chinese government. So I think the president needs to stick to his guns.
HEMMER: What you’re talking about is the Chinese pilot who was interviewed and broadcast earlier today.
By telephone from Connecticut. Go ahead, caller. What’s your point?
Do we have Mirio (ph)? Go ahead, please.
CALLER: Hi. Somehow all of the pieces aren’t falling in place here. You know, we’ve heard from Colin Powell, we’ve heard from Senator Warner, we’ve heard from the president. But it’s very curious to me that we have not heard from the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld. And I just — I’m just sort of getting the idea or I’m just getting a little suspicious here that they’re trying to smooth things over and they don’t want to shake the apple cart. I just wonder why he has not come forth and informed the American people about what our strategy would be in a situation such as this?
And I’ve also heard from other people on some other shows that stated that they thought there was some kind of friction between Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld. So are we trying to smooth things over and not inform the American people of what’s really happening here?
HEMMER: OK, I appreciate your phone call. Again, Mirio in from Connecticut.
Up to Sam in New York, you were twitching there a little bit. Go ahead.
GREENFIELD: Well, one of the reasons Secretary Rumsfeld hasn’t spoken is because he works at the behest of the president. If the president hasn’t said speak, he can’t commandeer a mike and start spouting off what he wants to say.
GREENFIELD: This is not a secretary of defense moment. This is negotiating a diplomacy moment, and the president correctly has kept this within those bounds.
HEMMER: OK, here online here at cnn.com. Chris Askew with us who is one of the finest men we have working on TALKBACK LIVE. Go ahead, Chris. What do we have? What’s the question today? What are you seeing?
CHRIS: Well, thank you, Bill.
Today, we want everyone watching to take the TALKBACK LIVE online viewer vote at cnn.com/TALKBACK. And the AOL key word is of course: CNN. Do you care if the postal service stops Saturday service? Log on, cast your vote. And the “Free For All Friday” is going to return right after these messages.
HEMMER: You got it, Chris. Thank you. Back with more after this. We’ve got to take a break now. When we come back, though, we will turn to Florida. There’s the bell, thank you. Who really won that presidential election? A new vote count might finally tell the tale. We’ll talk about it after a short timeout. Back after this on Friday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): By putting us in this situation, it makes me feel like the U.S. thinks we are weak. They shouldn’t be flying near Chinese coast in the first place and China should increase the security around its borders so as to not let the Americans fly so close.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no apology is necessary, because from what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard, I believe that it’s truly the Chinese’s fault. They provoked our aircraft, they got too close.
ANNOUNCER: Radio industry publication “Talkers” magazine lists the top five talk show topics of the week. The U.S.-China standoff is said to be number one. President Bush’s economic proposals, the stock market, Florida’s election recount, college basketball’s March madness and the beginning of the Major League Baseball season.
HEMMER: All right. Welcome back to “Free For All Friday,” TALKBACK. I’m Bill Hemmer again today in for Bobbie Battista. Before we get to our next topic, quick final thoughts from our guests on the U.S.-China situation up at San Francisco and Stone Shih.
Stone, jump in here quickly.
SHIH: Well, I think to discuss this apology issue, we also need to remember to put this whole thing in a bigger context, that this time, it’s the United States that’s spying on — you know along the China coast.
HEMMER: Got it.
SHIH: It’s not the other way around.
HEMMER: Got it.
Joyce in Florida, go ahead.
KAUFMAN: Well, I just want to ask a question of Stone. Is it true that there are actually people in China who apologize for a living that you can pay someone to go and apologize?
SHIH: Not that I know of, unless you know something that I don’t.
KAUFMAN: Well, it’s just something that I read in one of the alternative media recently, and I thought if that was so, then perhaps that’d be a nice way out if we were just able to purchase an apology that we didn’t really mean.
SHIH: Well, you know, I won’t be surprised if this thing happened in the United States, too.
HEMMER: Back here in Atlanta. Royal, quickly.
MARSHALL: Well, I think that in the end run, we will probably get our people back. The key to this whole thing is patience. Let the president and Colin Powell do the negotiations a slow, steady pace, and then that will ensure we get our people back.
One small thing I want to point out is I wonder what type of effect this will have on our arms sales to Taiwan in the future, which is supposed to happen some time later on this month.
HEMMER: Later this month, indeed. OK. We’re going to put China-U.S. on hold for a second here.
It’s possible we could have a resolution by the end of the day today or quite possibly the end of the weekend, but at this point, we just do not know.
MARSHALL: Let’s hope so.
HEMMER: Topic number two on Friday, the “Miami Herald” and “USA Today” have been looking at what would have happened in the presidential race if the hand count had gone forward in Florida. This week, they tallied up the under votes and reported that the president, George W. Bush, would still be president.
Sam, jump in here in New York. Are we the only ones who care about this at this point or do you feel the American people are still resonating?
GREENFIELD: Don’t throw me — what do you mean we? I don’t care.
HEMMER: Well, you got a mouse in your pocket?
GREENFIELD: Just one. No, and I’m not glad to see it. No, the thing is this.
HEMMER: Watch it.
GREENFIELD: All right, sorry. These guys are counting these…
KAUFMAN: There’s a lady present.
GREENFIELD: It’s over. He’s been sworn in. He’s the president. Unless you find out there are serious felonious shenanigans, just let this go.
HEMMER: You know what I found very interesting about this? If you look at the study and if you find out, based on the study the observers on the Democratic and Republican side, Democrats many times never even showed up to go ahead and verify what was and what was not a vote. Republicans took copious…
GREENFIELD: It’s over. It’s completely over.
HEMMER: The reason I’m making that point is because, clearly, with George Bush in the White House, they have a whole lot more to lose if the results came out other than they did this past week.
KAUFMAN: Bill, what’s really fascinating is that…
GREENFIELD: Not even a loss of face. Not even a loss of face, really.
KAUFMAN: What you have to understand here in Miami, we don’t take the “Miami Herald” that seriously. As a matter of fact, it is used…
HEMMER: What about “USA Today”? That was done in conjunction with one another.
KAUFMAN: Well, I will tell you this. The most interesting thing that came out of this was that there were 28,000 Floridians who came out to vote and didn’t vote for anyone. I think that’s rather remarkable that someone would go to the trouble to go to the poll and not register a vote for either candidate or any candidate for that matter.
HEMMER: I think Sam’s point is well taken, though.
And what you lead us into, Sam, is what do we do going forward? What about reform?
Royal, what do you think? Will things truly change or not?
MARSHALL: I doubt it. I seriously doubt it. But I do want to point out that the interesting thing about the whole recount that I thought was interesting was that if you go by Al Gore’s standards, then he would have lost by three times as much. If you went by George W. Bush’s voting counting standards, then he would have lost the election; Al Gore would have won by a measly three votes, which would throw this thing into a whole other recount debacle. I think the most important thing is, like you said, election reform and uniform standards and all that. There’s been a lot of talk about that. But the actuality of that coming to fruition as far as a uniform voting standard for all 50 states and all the counties, various counties across the United States of America, I don’t think it’s really feasible or even possible to happen.
GREENFIELD: We don’t care.
HEMMER: And if you watched the news out of Washington just this past week and last week, there was an effort that was going to look at election reform and it failed. It never even got to committee or form a committee anyway in the House.
MARSHALL: I do want to add, though, this is really good news for the George W. Bush team. I mean they haven’t really had too much of a battle with legitimacy but now they have even more evidence. There have been a couple of other recounts that confirmed him as president, and this is just more ammunition for his foundation to say, “Hey, you know what? This thing is over.” It’s to the point now, as you said before, who cares. It’s to the point that we’re beating a dead horse. He is the president. Some people like it, some people don’t, but you have to live with it. He’s been sworn in, as Sam said in New York. Let’s move on from there.
HEMMER: Stone, what you do think? What are you hearing out there in San Francisco? The same thing or not?
SHIH: I agree with what Eric said. I think this whole thing kind of reinforced Bush’s position as the president of the United States. I think as somebody that was born in China and grew up in Taiwan and came over here 20-some years ago, I was really proud of what took place, although it was kind of chaotic for a while. But for many other country, if this thing were to happen in many other countries in this world, probably you see tanks rolling down the street.
HEMMER: Yeah, indeed.
KAUFMAN: I have it tell you that we here in Florida were not particular proud of the results of this election, because it certainly didn’t make us look good. And one last point. The thing that came out of this “Miami Herald” and “USA Today” poll or whatever, review really was also important was that it wasn’t minority and it wasn’t elder people that tended to have trouble voting. It was people in general in the state of Florida.
HEMMER: And it’s not over just yet, because we do know there’s a consortium rather, of other media outlets, including CNN, that will produce their results. They’re going through the overvote as well in Florida. Could be out in a week, possibly in a month.
But Richard’s here in Florida. Go ahead with your thoughts. You’ve lived through this.
RICHARD: Yes, well, I think that as a resident of Florida, I think that we should move forward. And basically there’s many things that need to be fixed for the future.
HEMMER: Got it. By telephone, Laura (ph) from Florida is with us as well.
Laura, what’s your thought today?
CALLER: My thoughts are that the issue isn’t dead, that it’s very important that we remember that Bush did not get a mandate. And this is critical when we talk about what it is he plans to do as far as tax cuts, as far as gun control, as far as education and school vouchers. These are all extremely important issues that Bush cannot say, “Oh, I got the vote. I’m the president and that’s that.” In Florida, a lot of people didn’t get a chance to vote. The U.S. Civil Rights Commission is still doing its investigation about the people who were disabled, about the African-American voters, the African- American college students.
HEMMER: You know what that is, Laura? Laura, thank you much, Laura from Florida.
I want to talk about that in a second, Royal, but we’ve got to get to a break here. Coming up shortly here on TALKBACK LIVE, up next, it’ll be round three. You have mail but you might not have it on Saturdays much longer. Would you pay more to keep the postman coming? We’ll talk about it coming up shortly here.
HEMMER: All right, welcome back to TALKBACK LIVE. It is “Free For All Friday.” I’m Bill Hemmer again in today for Bobbie Battista. We just left off in the last round talking about the recount of the undervote in Florida. I want to talk about what many people consider disenfranchisement for the African-American community.
Royal, as an African-American, are you seeing evidence — I don’t mean to put you in the spot. I just want to get your opinion and reflections on this at this point. Is there a point to continue pursuing on this matter?
MARSHALL: Honestly, I don’t know. I’ve heard a lot of complaints from people who actually called my show and said that, you know, they believe that some people they know, someone that they know, someone they heard of was denied the right to vote. As far as actual people coming forward and saying that they were denied the right to vote, there haven’t been that many. And as a matter of fact, I don’t know if I can name one or two.
But along the same line, I think it’s important for African-Americans to realize that a lot of the reasons their votes didn’t count was because inside of the ballot box, there were some mistakes made in casting the votes, where they punched two people, two holes or didn’t punch the chad all the way through. That accounts for some of those undercounted votes. Whether or not — I would much rather reserve judgment until all of the investigations are through until they can come up with some actual evidence, some actual people who have been denied the right to vote. I’ve heard the stories about the police road blockades and this and that, but still, there haven’t been a number of — substantial number of people to come forward and say, “Hey, all of us were denied the right to vote.” There was some questions about the voter rolls, people being taken off the voter rolls. But from what I understand, those people if they showed up at the polls and they had any kind of card, they were allowed to vote anyway. So there is something to be concerned about there. As far as African-Americans, they need to be more diligent in the next election.
HEMMER: Very good. OK, we’re going to move on to another topic right now, because time is of the essence here. The postal service says it is in trouble now financially. It might need to raise rates again up from 34 cents to 35 cents or possibly higher and it may eliminate Saturday delivery. Does that sound like paying more and getting less?
Sam, what do you think? Are you willing to forgo Saturdays or not?
GREENFIELD: Before I say that, I love the fact the beginning of the show you had Bob Barr threatening the viability of the post office, a man who sends out his mail for nothing. I love that. Now let me move on. If there’s no Saturday service…
HEMMER: Do you feel better now?
GREENFIELD: Not really, not really. No, every time I look at him, I think there was a coin flip in North Carolina, not Barney Fife.
HEMMER: All right, get to your point.
GREENFIELD: But the point I’m trying to make is that when people think about no viable Saturday service, there’s nothing wrong with raising it to 40 cents. It’s the best bargain in the United States. You can send something from the tip of Florida to the top of Washington state for 40 cents?
HEMMER: You know, Sam…
GREENFIELD: The real problem real quick is that nobody writes letters anymore. People bank online.
HEMMER: That is true.
GREENFIELD: That’s the enemy.
HEMMER: You’ve got an economic downturn right now, and you’ve also got e-mail that continues to get more and more popular and more and more reliable. Joyce, the problem I have with this is that for the past five years, they’ve been quite profitable. In fact, last year, the post office was bragging about how profitable it is. What happened between last year and this year where the business went from what appeared to be a boom to what some people are describing as I bust right now?
KAUFMAN: Well, I think there’s a lot more competition in that space right now. You have mail being delivered by private businesses. And, you know, if a private business like FedEx or UPS were to cut back and to make some kinds of maneuvers that would actually make their business more profitable, shareholders would be applauding. But when the United States government has an agency that attempts to do the same thing, the public is outraged. I think that’s only in America would that happen.
HEMMER: All right, we got a phone call. We got Ken in our audience today.
Ken, go ahead in your thought.
CHRIS: Ken is a — he’s a postal worker right now.
KEN: That’s correct. I would like to have Saturdays off. They’re the same day that my wife has off. But there’s also a lot of workers that could lose their jobs. And as far as a rate increase, the board of governors are mandated by law that they can only raise the rate a certain percent and that was only one cent last year.
HEMMER: I don’t want to get you in trouble here. You do or do not have to answer this question. How do you believe the post office is managed? Do they do it well or not?
KEN: I think they do a good job overall with what all we have to do. We serve every individual address every day, six days a week at this point.
HEMMER: And for 34 cents, still a darn good bargain.
KEN: For 34 cents it can be delivered anywhere.
HEMMER: I’m told Danny is on the telephone.
Danny, go ahead. Jump in here.
CALLER: Well the 34 cents is a bargain by any means. And it’s not only the Saturday that’s going to suffer, it’s the Mondays and Tuesdays, because what you don’t get on Saturday, you’re liable not to get until Monday or Tuesday. And it’s a bargain. And the problem has been more with management and the upper end getting bonuses every year, year after year.
HEMMER: Ken is grimacing in our audience. You don’t have a microphone so hang on. Go ahead.
MARSHALL: I want to piggyback on that caller’s comment. He’s absolutely right. Fred Thompson (ph) said if the post office would cut the bonuses, then they would be well within their budget. Also keep in mind, a story was revealed earlier this week that you had a post office official who was paid $142,000 to move 15 miles down the street. Then add on top of that another $25,000 bonus for this mile — 15 miles down the street. He could have bought a house and had the house moved down the street for $167,000.
And then when you think about ending Saturday delivery, who’s that going to hurt? First of all, it’s going to hurt the morale of the ordinary postal worker because they’re trying to compete with the UPS and the FedExs. But also, what about the young lady — or the old woman waiting on their Social Security check? She doesn’t need to wait Saturday, Sunday and Monday to get her check; she needs that check on Saturday if it arrives on Saturday.
So — not only that — I mean, I don’t want to support welfare moms like everyone else, but the people who are waiting for the mail, the really important mail, they want it on Saturday and they don’t want to wait until Monday.
HEMMER: I heard a female voice in there; was that you, Joyce?
KAUFMAN: Well I was just going to say, you know, if you had an Internal Revenue letter that had to be made out and the post office was closed on Saturday, you’d get an extension. So there’s always an upside.
HEMMER: Let’s get — if we can grab Ken real quickly again — you’re listening to this and I don’t want to sit here and allow you to be bashed back and forth; go ahead.
KEN: Well, the main thing is we have holidays and so forth that really back up things. Yes, it would take a good bit of Mondays and Tuesdays to get the Saturday mails (sic) delivered, but there’s an awful lot of money that could be saved with fuel for all the vehicles that are running so…
HEMMER: We have some options, then, that we can look at.
HEMMER: Right on cue, there is the bell; again, the end of the round.
Up next: suing Tony Soprano — if you’ve seen the series on HBO — some people got a problem with that. We’ll talk about that when we come back; stay tuned.
HEMMER: I love Italians, too. Apparently some Italian-Americans are not so amused by the way HBO portrays mobsters. The American- Italian Defense Association is offended by the series “The Sopranos,” saying it suggests the quote, “criminality is in the blood or in the genes of Italian-Americans.” It is suing Time Warner Entertainment, the parent company of both HBO and CNN. Let’s talk about it. San Francisco — Jay Stone Shih, we’ve been ignoring you — well, not really ignoring you, but we haven’t gotten to you in a couple minutes.
As an Asian-American, how do you feel personally when you hear topics such as this?
SHIH: Before I answer that, could I say something regarding the post office issue, still?
HEMMER: If you want, sure. You got a problem with 34 cents?
SHIH: No I don’t, really.
HEMMER: I’m just kidding; please, go ahead.
SHIH: Personally, I always receive very good service from the post office, and I think this whole thing really is a reflection of the change of time — like it was mentioned, the e-mail and the DHL and the Federal Express and everything. The time has changed. If the post office doesn’t change its approach, then they’re going to get left behind; that’s the big picture.
The other thing is I wasn’t very concerned about stopping the service on Saturday. I was concerned about reducing the service; stopping service in the rural areas. I think something should be done about that.
HEMMER: Now, as an Asian-American, Stone, tell — where did you get the name “Stone,” first of all?
SHIH: “Stone” actually is a translation of my last name; my Chinese last name means “stone.”
HEMMER: I like that. What about this situation with “The Sopranos”? Do the people here have a point, or is it just noise in your opinion?
SHIH: I think, coming from a Chinese-American’s perspective, personally, when I see the program or when I see “Godfather” the movie, I look at it as a family that happens to be Italian. I don’t look at it as the portrayal of all of the Italian people. That’s just my point of view.
The other thing is, if people in the Italian community feels (sic) that they need to do something about it, I would say more power to them.
HEMMER: I see.
Joyce, what do you think? Jump in here.
KAUFMAN: Yes, I’ll tell you, there’s a much bigger issue than whether it paints a bad picture of Italian-Americans. The show has become so misogynistic; it is — it paints such a horrible picture of women; not just the women in those families, but now we’re having — they’re brutally murdering strippers on the show. The one sane sort of woman character, the psychiatrist, had to be brutally raped. There are nothing but women victims on this show, and I think it’s outrageous that NOW hasn’t mounted at least a PR campaign against this program, never mind a class-action lawsuit, which I would be glad to be a part of.
HEMMER: Haven’t heard that point.
Sam, what do you think? Does she have one or not?
GREENFIELD: This is self-centered, self-aggrandizing publicity- seeking garbage. This is the best TV show in the last 25 years. I’m going to get this out…
GREENFIELD: … no, no, no, no, I want to get this out. People don’t seem to understand something: The people portrayed on this show are bad people; that’s why they kill people, that’s why they cheat on their wives, that’s why they’re misogynistic. They’re not being portrayed an Marconi or Tesla. They’re thugs, they’re…
KAUFMAN: I disagree.
GREENFIELD: Well, you’re wrong. You’re flat wrong.
GREENFIELD: No they don’t. They glamorize a guy who gets shot at and has manic depression and has to see a shrink, are you serious? Who’s getting orally gratified in the back of a disease-ridden bar — that’s the life people ascribe to? Maybe in Florida, but not here in beautiful New York.
KAUFMAN: Well, I happen to be a New Yorker and there’s more of that going on in New York than in Florida.
GREENFIELD: But that’s in New Jersey. It — no, you want to check VD rates between the two states? We win. Don’t say it, you’re wrong.
KAUFMAN: Yes, I know you win, exactly.
GREENFIELD: No, more VD is not a victory. You’re getting this wrong.
But it’s a great show…
KAUFMAN: No, you’ve got it wrong.
GREENFIELD: No, it’s a great — no, you don’t know what you are talking about!
KAUFMAN: It’s a great show for men! I don’t know what I’m talking about?
GREENFIELD: It’s a great show for — ask Edie Falco if it’s a great show. Ask Lorraine Bracco, ask the casting…
HEMMER: Sam, you know what bothers me? If I could say, Sam, as a referee here? It took you 50 minutes to the warm up, what is the problem?
GREENFIELD: This is the topic I love! This is the best TV show in America…
HEMMER: In your audience…
GREENFIELD: … and these people are self-seeking…
HEMMER: … quickly, Morgan (ph).
MORGAN: I think that if they are thinking the Italians are being portrayed as badly as mobsters, then I don’t understand why they are doing now instead of doing it back when they had the movie “The Godfather” out.
HEMMER: We’re out of time. Back with more after this, though. We will continue the argument on Monday and beyond. Up next: the results of today’s interactive poll. Back with more after this.
HEMMER: All right. Just about a minute left. Quickly, before we leave “The Sopranos” topic, Royal, you have 10 seconds, my friend.
MARSHALL: I agree with Sam 100 percent up there in New York City. These people need to get a life. It’s a TV show. If we follow this train of thought, what is next? Are we going to have like inmates suing, because “Oz” didn’t portray real prison life? Give me a break. It’s a TV show.
HEMMER: All right, Chris, on-line, what do the polls say today?
CHRIS: The results of the vote are: 53 percent say it will inconvenience me, and 47 percent say it will not bother me at all.
HEMMER: That’s with regards to Saturday’s delivery.
CHRIS: Saturday delivery.
HEMMER: Jay Stone Shih in San Francisco, thanks for coming by today.
SHIH: You’re welcome.
HEMMER: Sam Greenfield in New York…
GREENFIELD: Thank you.
HEMMER: Royal Marshall here in Atlanta and Joyce Kaufman, the only woman today.
KAUFMAN: You go, Sam.
GREENFIELD: Happy Passover.
HEMMER: Thank you, everybody. Yeah, indeed. Have a great weekend.
That does it for our show today. Thanks for being with us today. Again, I am Bill Hemmer in today for Bobbie Battista. She is back on Monday. Thanks to all of our guests, the folks here in Atlanta.
And tonight, 10:00 Eastern on “CNN TONIGHT,” I’ll be back then. Hope to see you later this evening. TALKBACK LIVE, again, back on Monday. So long now.
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