Richard Dreyfuss on MSNBC Rails Against GOP Thieves, 'Tired of Being Called a Traitor'

August 27th, 2008 5:10 PM

Appearing on MSNBC Wednesday afternoon to promote his new movie, ‘America Betrayed,’ a left-wing screed produced by a former CNBC anchor that purports to be a “documentary” about the evils of the American government during the past seven years, actor Richard Dreyfuss slammed the Republican party as “corrupt through and through,” “adept at thievery,” and that “the rest of the country” abandoned New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Dreyfuss drew loud cheers from the liberal audience gathered around MSNBC's outdoor spot as he nonsensically declared: "I am tired of being called a traitor because I like my flag and I like -- and I support the troops."

His claim that New Orleans was "abandoned" is absolutely vapid: The Coast Guard responded rapidly, saving thousands from the rapidly rising flood waters. Millions of Americans donated money to help the victims. The federal government has pumped billions of dollars into reconstruction.

Even a clip from the film Dreyfuss narrated acknowledged billions of dollars in federal aid to Katrina victims, since he bemoaned “$2 billion of recovery money for Katrina was squandered due to waste, fraud, and abuse.”

And as for ‘America Betrayed,’ a July 24 article in Variety included a quote from the movie’s producer, Leslie Carde calling her film “a long, hard look at how this country handles disaster, which ones they indirectly cause and how corporate America and their friends in the White House profit from those disasters in the long run.”

Variety also gave some background on the producer: “Carde, a network TV journo and CNBC anchor, has made numerous visits to Iraq since 2003, including a trip for this doc.”

In today’s interview, O’Donnell herself seemed to buy into the loopy left-wing hype, at one point describing the hurricane as “a man-made disaster.” She quickly added a clarification: “because of the government’s response, some say.”

Dreyfuss played to the obviously left-wing crowd outside of MSNBC’s broadcast area, milking the applause and receiving cheers each time he bashed the Bush administration as corrupt or incompetent.

Here’s the exchange from about 3:25pm EDT:

NORAH O’DONNELL: And with the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina quickly approaching, a new documentary is shining a spotlight on our government's role in the worst man-made disaster in American history -- because of the government's response, some people say. Academy-award winning actor Richard Dreyfuss narrates ‘America Betrayed,’ a film that not only mentions Katrina but [drowned out by loud cheering of crowd outside MSNBC’s booth]....


DREYFUSS NARRATING: In August of 2007, a government audit of the $30 billion congressionally-approved budget for reconstruction in Iraq, now shows that $8 billion is unaccounted for. And according to the Government Accountability Office nearly $2 billion of recovery money for Katrina was squandered due to waste, fraud, and abuse.
SENATOR BARACK OBAMA, AT HEARING: I've asked many times whether the no-bid contracts that were handed out in the wake of the hurricane have been terminated, and unfortunately I still have not received a clear answer.


O’DONNELL: And joining us now, Richard Dreyfuss, who narrates this new documentary [more loud cheering. Dreyfuss stands and begs with his arms for the crowd to keep cheering.] Don't you get enough praise and adoration? You're here. You're obviously famous. A lot of people know you, of course, even from the ‘Jaws’ movies. But you are narrating this documentary and bringing attention to Hurricane Katrina. Why?

RICHARD DREYFUSS: Well, Katrina was a natural disaster and the first time in history that the rest of the country abandoned a city or a state that had been the victim of a national -- of a natural disaster. And watching that happen was awe-inspiring. In Europe -- I was in Europe at the time, and they have 6,000 years on us on how to oppress the poor -- but they were struck dumb by how awful our coverage was.

O’DONNELL: You told me something very interesting that FEMA meeting the night before Hurricane Katrina struck. That was seen on television here in the United States, very few times. And yet in Europe, how many?

DREYFUSS: It was shown all the time, five, six times a day for three months.

O’DONNELL: And so what do you think that makes Europeans think about American competence and our government?

DREYFUSS: I don't think Europeans have any confidence in our government. I think that the last eight years has destroyed 200 years of respect and [loud cheers], and dedication. And I think that we have been the point of meaning and admiration in the world for very specific reasons, and George Bush trashed it.

O’DONNELL: So, you don't think that John McCain would be able to manage this government well, would have a different response than George Bush to a Hurricane Katrina?

DREYFUSS: I think the Republican party is corrupt through and through [cheers] and even the Republicans, like, like Buckley before he died, said we should lose this election, go into the wilderness and get cleansed. And I believe that's true. I think that they have been in office too long. I think that they're too adept at thievery, at moving the Constitution into places it never meant to go. I think that they have an extraordinary ability to divide rather than unite. And I think that I am tired of being called a traitor because I like my flag and I like -- and I support the troops. [cheers from crowd outside MSNBC’s booth]