The Fix

Carl Bernstein rips "radical" Bush, Ben Affleck puts in good word for gay marriage, and Daryl Hannah confesses to penchant for jogging ... naked.

By Salon Staff
Published March 19, 2004 3:04PM (EST)

Afternoon Briefing:

Bernstein bashes Bush: Carl Bernstein spoke in Florida last night and said George W. Bush was "the most radical president of my lifetime." That's a lot, coming from one half of the duo that brought down Nixon. He backed up his statement by reminding the audience that Bush favors the wealthy, supports a preemptive foreign policy, lacks concern for civil rights and is the most "ideological of any of our presidents." (St. Petersburg Times)

Ben busts Bush too! Ben Affleck may not want to get married himself, but he criticized the president for trying to stop gays from tying the knot. Said the actor, "I don't think the government should be involved in any way in people's bedrooms or lives. With so much hatred and unpleasantness in the world, why would you want to get in the way of people who love each other marrying each other? Anybody who wants to be able to get married to anybody else should be able to. It's not my business." (IMDB)

Are you crazy!? Neal Stutz thought Dr. Phil was a real shrink. Stutz, a mental health activist who had undergone treatment for manic depression, visited the show hoping to be part of the studio audience. But the required waiver says you can't do that if you are under psychiatric treatment. The waiver also warns people that Phil's advice "is not real medical, psychological advice at all." Said Stutz, "It is pure entertainment and he should stop insinuating that it is anything but that, especially not real counseling." (CBS)

Love thy spouse: After seeing Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ," Georgia couple Melissa and Sean Davidson started arguing over whether the "father" in the Holy Trinity was a human or a spirit. Then the discussion moved to the mental states of each others' parents (always a good idea) and soon fisticuffs ensued. Both reportedly received "light injuries" and were arrested on charges of simple battery. (UPI)

Daryl gets down: In a moment of unfettered honesty, actress Daryl Hannah shared two things about herself with Jane magazine, leaving it up to her fans to decide whether they are related: 1) She likes to jog naked and 2) She would be happy if she got pregnant tomorrow. (Ananova)

-- Karen Croft

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Burnett's reality
If you thought reality TV shows had simple inspirations -- comic books, say, or board games -- Mark Burnett, the creator of some of the most successful franchises ("Survivor," "The Apprentice," "The Restaurant") wants you to know otherwise. Think Stonehenge. Think Catholic "mind control techniques." Think Nazis. In an interview this month with Produced By, a magazine published by the Producers Guild of America with about 2,000 subscribers, editor Chris Green asked Burnett about how the elaborate rituals of the "Survivor" tribal council were developed. His response:

"I credit the drama of tribal council to a lot of thinking of what would make the best television. Clearly, someone's being kicked out. So how do you do it? ... So many people told me -- so-called experienced people -- said it was too tongue-in-cheek, too kitschy, everyone was going to laugh at me. My research said no, human beings are ritualistic creatures ... Going on beyond that, the occult and darker magics are very much based on rituals, going back into the psycho-genetics of human beings. Back to the pagan times way before Christianity, to Stonehenge, to the tribes of the Amazons, the tribes of the Mayans and their sacrifices in Mexico and Central America ...

"Then you look at what are the best mind-control practices in the world. No question, the Catholic Church has one of the greatest mind control techniques. Because they are trying to say, 'You can only speak to God through a priest.' And if you're resistant to that message, you're not as likely to respond to their ideas. But of course their chapels, their churches are only dimly lit, with candlelight. And they've proven that in dim light, firelight, your resistance is down, and you're more likely to do what you're told. The same principle works on a horrific level, like with Hitler. Hitler rallies were held predominately at night, by torchlight, making it easier to control the masses and weak people. So here we have a situation where our tribal councils are always dimly lit, firelight only. The same things are said, the same seating arrangements. It's very ritualistic, it's Masonic. And if you look and even go further, it's orange, predominately to represent fire. When someone's voted out, have you ever noticed how the lighting and the music change? The music changes from fairly dramatic to predominately funereal. And the light goes from orange to blue. Because they walk away into a blue light, to be received by death. And then there's a vacuum when no one is allowed to speak. Jeff [Probst, the host] doesn't speak. Otherwise it would break them out of their trance of feeling bad, that vacuum of killing off one of their own. Then when Jeff does come back, he says something profound and we're back to orange, we're back to Angel Voice -- the theme music as they walk off -- which is uplifting. And Jeff always says something that has to do with rebirth. Christianity wasn't the first religion to make the story up about Jesus dying and being reborn. That goes way back centuries earlier ... dying and being reborn. Back to Samara of Southern Iraq, thousands of years before Christianity was even thought of, the same stories throughout it all ... Pagan rituals and religious rituals of death and rebirth ... I bet you didn't think it was that big."

-- Kerry Lauerman

Morning Briefing:

FCC: F***ing Crackdown Commission? The Federal Communications Commission has overruled the finding that the F-word uttered by Bono on NBC during last year's Golden Globe Awards broadcast was not obscene due to context. The commission declared Thursday that the word -- used by Bono as an intensifier, not as a verb -- is always indecent, profane and inappropriate. According to the commission, which opted not to issue a fine in Bono's case, "The 'F-word' is one of the most vulgar, graphic and explicit descriptions of sexual activity in the English language. The fact that the use of this word may have been unintentional is irrelevant; it still has the same effect of exposing children to indecent language." (Associated Press)

F the N-word: Booted "Apprentice" contestant Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth is not backing down from her claim that certain racial epithets were hurled her way during the taping of her show, despite denials from her fellow contestants, producer Mark Burnett and even boss man Donald Trump himself. "Believe me, I know what I experienced," Manigault-Stallworth says. She also knows that she's got book and talk show deals in the works and is reportedly "interested in doing political commentary for the upcoming presidential election." (Associated Press)

More troubles for Tammy Faye: Tammy Faye Messner, who fought and won a battle with breast cancer, went on Larry King last night to announce that she has inoperable lung cancer. "God knows I'm scared, but it's not wrong to be scared," Messner, 62, told King. "I know I'm going to be with Jesus, but I just don't want to be on the next busload." (N.Y. Daily News)

Comedy tonight ... for four more years: Comedy Central has re-signed Jon Stewart for another four-year contract, extending the run of his "Daily Show" until at least 2008. The details of the deal were not discussed but Stewart's agent says the cable channel was "very aggressive" in going after his client. (N.Y. Times)

Someone's taking this all a little too personally: Devout Catholic and "Passsion" star Jim Caviezel told an interviewer on "The 700 Club" that when Mel Gibson called to ask him to play Jesus in his movie, "I said, 'Hey, my initials are J.C. and I'm 33 -- that sounds pretty good.'" (Page Six)

Anyone? Anyone? "Doonesbury" creator Garry Trudeau apparently got no valid entries in his "Bush Guard Service" contest, in which he offered $10,000 to anyone who could "corroborate" President Bush's claim that he'd served in the Alabama National Guard. After waiting four weeks for someone, anyone, to come forward with proof of Bush's service, Trudeau gave up and mailed the prize money to the USO. (Lloyd Grove's Lowdown)

Money Quotes:

Former MTV VJ Mark Goodman on finding out that his fellow original VJ J.J. Jackson died of a heart attack Wednesday night: "I was at home. I actually got a call from Martha Quinn. I almost couldn't understand what she was saying, she was so upset." (MTV News)

Courtney Love to the audience at New York's Bowery Ballroom, where she performed last night after her arrest for hitting someone on the head with a microphone she chucked into the crowd at another NYC club: "If any of you are planning on getting injured, please go outside and get yourself arrested now." (

-- Amy Reiter

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