Fact Check

Denzel Washington

E-mail details actor Denzel Washington's TV appearance with Katie Couric.

Published Sep 12, 2007


Claim:   E-mail details actor Denzel Washington's TV appearance with Katie Couric.

Status:   Inaccurate.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2004]

Did you see the Denzel Washington interview with Katie Couric on NBC on August 13, 2004?

I'll bet this one will never see the light of day again. Not many people are talking about it. They are wishing it would go away and are trying to sweep it under the rug. Denzel Washington needs to get on FOX News or Meet The Press.... even Tim Russert would at least listen.

Meryl Streep and Denzel were on the today show "live" with Katie Couric to talk about the movie "Manchurian Candidate." At one point Katie asked Denzel, "have you seen Fahrenheit 9/11?" To which Denzel replied, "No, and I have no intentions on seeing it."

Katie and Meryl were "so noticeably" taken aback! It was so cool!

Then, a discourse (or more preferably, a fight!) began between all three of them with Denzel being barraged with all kinds of anti-Bush, anti-republican comments, but "the man stood his ground" and soon enraged the women so much that they couldn't get a word in edgewise.

Meryl Streep turned blood red and she sat with her legs crossed and her one leg shaking up and down, fuming! Then Katie uttered the words that put the final nail in her coffin, she said to Denzel "you see, that's the problem I have with you people."

She of course did not get to finish her sentence because Denzel pounced on her verbally by responding "YOU PEOPLE! YOU PEOPLE! Just what do you mean you people! Do you mean 'You People' as in me as a Christian, or do you mean 'You People' as in me as a REPUBLICAN?"

She then tap danced her way through the next minute of the show. But Denzel went out fighting and declaring that Fahrenheit 9/11 is nothing but propaganda and lies distorted to support a cynical democratic film director's views.

Denzel's a celebrity that deserves to wear the uniform in movies!

Origins:   In

Dateline NBC

On 28 July 2004 actor Denzel Washington, star of the 2004 remake of the film The Manchurian Candidate, was interviewed by Katie Couric on the Today show, and he also took part in a taped panel discussion on politics, along with Manchurian Candidate director Jonathan Demme and co-star Meryl Streep, which was hosted by Katie Couric and aired on Dateline NBC on 23 July 2004. Although the item quoted above does echo some of the discussion that occurred during the course of the latter program, this item appears to be someone's idealized version of what took place rather than an accurate representation of events.

As the transcript of the 23 July 2004 Dateline NBC episode demonstrates, the "you people" exchange referenced above had nothing to do with Republicans or Christians, nor was it prompted by Katie Couric's exclaiming that she had a "problem" with members of those groups, with Denzel Washington, or with anyone else. Ms. Couric simply asked Mr. Washington about his reaction to the idea that some people feel entertainers should not use their celebrity to promote their political views, and he responded by taking umbrage at the wording of her questions:

Couric: "Denzel, are you — do you feel — you know some people say Hollywood folks should stick to acting."

Washington: "I don't know what Hollywood folks are, first of all. Hollywood is a town that has some stars on the sidewalk. I don't know anybody from there. So, I don't — that's like saying — calling you a type of folks. I'm not a Hollywood folk. I don't know who they are."

Couric: "Okay, all right, well, let me rephrase the question. Are you one of those people that —"

Washington: "Ah, there you go. Am I one of those people? Hmmm, isn't that interesting?"

Couric: "Oh, stop, stop, stop."

Washington: "No, don't stop. I heard what you just said. 'Am I one of those people?' No, I'm not."

Couric: "No, are you an actor who would rather not —"

Washington: "No, I'm not that either. I'm a human being. My job is acting."

Couric: "Okay, are you somebody who would rather not express his political views publicly? I mean how do you feel about that? Some people are more outspoken than others. And what I meant, are you one of the people who would rather keep it private? Don't make my questions loaded when they're not."

Washington: "Would I rather keep it private? No, I'm not one of those people. I think I speak what's on my mind."

At no point in the exchange did anyone mention Republicans or Christians.

Moreover, there was no "barrage" of "all kinds of anti-Bush, anti-Republican comments" that left the two women present "fuming," nor did either of those women claim to have a "problem with you people." At one point, Ms. Streep and Mr. Washington engaged in an exchange about a speech the former had made at a fund-raiser for John Kerry, in which she questioned the propriety of President Bush's invocation of Jesus in the political arena:

Streep: "Oh, I was there" [at a fund-raiser for Senator John Kerry].

Couric: "I know you were there. And in fact, I read your quote. You said — you talked about President Bush and his invocation of religion and you said —"

Streep: "No, of Jesus."

Couric: "Of Jesus, sorry. 'Through the shock and awe, I wondered which of the megaton bombs Jesus, our president's personal savior, would have personally dropped on the sleeping families in Baghdad.'"

Streep: "It was a question about when you put Jesus on the campaign bus to stump for you, you have to really listen to what he says, because he says, 'If a man smite thee on the cheek, let you turn the other that he may smite it also.' And he says, 'He who lives by the sword dies by the sword.' And he says, 'Love thine enemy.' Jesus could have raised an army against the people that persecuted him. He didn't. So that's what I was pointing out in my speech, and I couldn't really imagine Jesus, like I couldn't imagine how Jesus would vote. Jesus was the Prince of Peace. Would the Prince of Peace vote for a war President?"

Washington: "And it's open to interpretation. Jesus also went into the temple and kicked everybody out."

Streep: "That's kicking the money-changers out of the temple."

Washington: "Well, you're right. So —"

Streep: "The money-changers should get out of Congress, I agree. And I agree, but he didn't —"

Washington: "He didn't. He didn't only say turn the other cheek though. You’ve got to read the whole book. That's not what all he said."

Streep: "Oh, I do read the whole book."

Washington: "I do too. And that's not all he said."

Streep: "What does he say that said 'pick up a stick and kill somebody?'"

Washington: "Like I said, he did go into the temple and cleared the place well —"

Streep: "Of money, yeah."

Washington: "Okay, well, we're all —"

Streep: "Money's bad."

Washington: "We all make money. So does that make us bad? Maybe he's talking about us?"

Streep: "Well, yeah, maybe."

Ms. Couric did not ask Mr. Washington directly whether he had seen Fahrenheit 9/11, nor did he denounce the film as "propaganda and lies distorted to support a cynical democratic film director's views." Ms. Couric made a general inquiry regarding how Mr. Washington felt about the "current political situation," and he responded by noting that he hadn't seen Fahrenheit 9/11:

Couric: "And how do you feel about the current political situation?"

Washington: "You know, I haven't seen 'Fahrenheit 9/11,' because I live in America. I grew up here. I'm an ex-slave. I'm a result of what this country can do. So it's nothing new to me. I'm not surprised at all. It's just business as usual. What I want to talk about is, what are we doing right now, today, for these young kids that are coming home? Are we embracing them? I don't hear about them being lifted up. I mean, I'm not just talking about a parade but —"

Couric: "Are they getting the support they need."

Washington: "Are they getting the support and love they need from us? And maybe that story's being told, but I sure haven't seen it that much in the news. Yeah, they're pointing fingers about who was right and whose wrong and who started what and where the weapons of mass destruction. But these kids are coming home."

Streep: "Uh-huh."

Washington: "You know, I have a son, 19, 19-year-olds are coming home completely different."

Although other topics that were not included in the excerpts aired on Dateline NBC may have been discussed by the panel members, the public saw only the portions encompassed by the transcript cited above. The message quoted at the head of this page is, therefore, a substantially misleading and inaccurate account of what Dateline NBC viewers actually saw.

Last updated:   23 August 2004

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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