Donahue stumps for Solomon
Originally published by The Press Democrat on Tuesday Jan. 10, page B1
By GUY KOVNER - THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Former TV talk show host Phil Donahue said Monday he is enjoying his first foray into congressional politics by stumping for fellow liberal Norman Solomon on the politically green North Coast.
"I am having a very exciting time," Donahue, 76, said at a meet-and-greet at Two Acre Wood, a co-housing community in Sebastopol.
Solomon, a Marin County author and activist, is one of 11 candidates seeking to represent the new coastal district in Congress, a wide-open race triggered by Petaluma Democrat Lynn Woolsey's decision to retire this year.
Donahue, white-haired and wearing rimless glasses, built a national reputation as host of an Emmy Award-winning syndicated talk show that ran for 26 years, ending in 1996, and that ranked 29th on TV Guide's list of the top 50 all-time best shows in 2009.
As long as he was on TV, Donahue said, he was precluded from political campaigning. He did back consumer advocate Ralph Nader's presidential bid in 2000. He said he did not support Nader in 2004.
But he jumped at the chance to back Solomon, whom he met at a media conference about six years ago in St. Louis.
"I thought, 'Wow, I want him to win,' " Donahue said. "It's nice to be in the company of a person who agrees with me."
Donahue said he was "knocked out" by Solomon's book and documentary film, "War Made Easy," chronicling government propaganda campaigns that led the United States into Vietnam and Iraq.
"I never realized what you could do with the politics of fear," Donahue said. President George W. "Bush did it brilliantly."
Solomon's book also covered the termination of Donahue's talk show on MSNBC, which started in July 2002 and was canceled in early 2003 before the March invasion of Iraq.
"Liberal was not good for business," Donahue said. "They did not want that voice on the air. It wasn't rah-rah."
Donahue, who lives in New York City with his. wife, Marlo Thomas, said he is dismayed by America's seemingly steady escalation into what he calls "a warrior nation."
Donahue cited Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum's strong words about Iran as a continuation of that trend.
"Rick Santorum can't wait to invade Iran," Donahue said. "He's convinced it will help him get elected. What worries me is he may be right."
Electing a liberal like Solomon to Congress will inspire others to speak out against a nation engaged in "perpetual war," Donahue said.
Donahue and Solomon will appear at 5 and 7 p.m. today at the Saturday Afternoon Club, 107 South Oak St., Ukiah, and on Wednesday in Redway and Eureka in Humboldt County.