Stars, money, and the tsunami: they are the subjects of this evening's "Talking Points Memo."
As Yogi Berra (search) once said, "it is deja vu all over again." You may remember that in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack, there was a celebrity-driven TV telethon that raised millions for the affected families. And now, there will be another telethon raising money for those hurt by those the tsunami.
And once again, our pal [actor] George Clooney (search) will be involved. You may also remember that Clooney strenuously objected to “The Factor” investigation that uncovered problems in distributing the 9/11 money, even though we proved our case and the Red Cross (search) revamped its entire operation because of it.
Clooney objected to many things, but one of them was my insistence that if celebrities ask for money, they have a moral obligation to see the donations go where they're supposed to go. -- Clooney disagreed.
So now we're back in the same spot. A national TV telethon will raise millions and “The Factor” will be watching to see if the money gets to the tsunami victims. If it does not, there will be trouble. And this time nobody can say they weren't warned.
If George Clooney and other stars go on TV and ask you to give, then they had better be involved all the way down the line. Now I don't expect the celebrities to audit the books, but if problems are brought to their attention, they must help solve those problems.
Sending billions of dollars into chaotic areas is fraught with danger, even if is the right thing to do. Americans must demand reasonable accountability. We expect some of the money to be stolen or wasted. But we also expect American authorities to hold people accountable and to let us know if bad things are happening.
"Talking Points" believes the American people are the most generous in the world. But it is our job here to make sure you are not taken advantage of. And we will do that job. We want the telethon to be a big success and we applaud the time and generosity of George Clooney and the other stars. But with power comes responsibility. And we expect all the telethon people to understand that.
And that's "The Memo."
The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day
Consumer Reports (search) magazine has rated the best and worst condoms. Don't ask me exactly how they did this because it might be ridiculous. Anyway, guess who's marketing the most ineffective condoms in America? Ready? Planned Parenthood (search). According to Consumer Reports, Planned Parenthood's Honeydew model is not up to snuff or something. Ridiculous? Could be.