The text below is an excerpt from Bill Donohue’s interview with Matt Lauer on the March 8 airing of NBC’s “Today” show. The two discussed the upcoming film release of “The Da Vinci Code.”
LAUER: Lots of buzz here, William. Obviously we’ve got a big book, we’ve got big star, big director, big movie company, lots of controversy. But the author, Dan Brown, has said it’s fiction; Ron Howard, the director, has said it’s fiction; the movie company, Sony, has said it’s fiction. Shouldn’t that be the end of the story?
DONOHUE: Dan Brown said on this show, the “Today” show, that it was based on historical fact. I have the record on this. Dan Brown opens his book with three facts, all of which are historically wrong. So he can’t have it both ways. He’s playing both sides of the street the way Oliver Stone did, the way Alex Haley did.
LAUER: All right, so let’s say, so—so Ron Howard, the director of the movie, has come out in interviews and said, `I know it’s fiction. But why should I have to put a disclaimer at the beginning of the movie?’
DONOHUE: Well, John Calley, his co-producer, said the movie’s anti-Catholic. That should be bad enough. At least accede to my request. I’m not asking for the moon here. If in fact Ron Howard is the great Opie man that everybody loves, then come out and accede to my request. Say it’s fiction and I’ll walk away.
LAUER: By the way, it’s not being released as a documentary, Bill, it’s being released as a movie, entertainment.
DONOHUE: Well—well first of all, my—my request is—is that. It’s not a demand, it’s a request. It’s up to Howard what he wants to do. A third of the people encountered in a scientific survey think—who read the book—think it’s authentic. This is a hoax. Jews would be upset if they made a movie out of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion…” Is there anybody in Hollywood who would boast, come out like John Calley did in the New York Times, and say that this movie is anti-Catholic? Would they say it’s anti-Semitic, if it’s a homophobic or a racist movie? How come somebody in Hollywood can boast about it being anti-Catholic?
LAUER: Isn’t this all about faith though, Bill? I mean, you know, when it comes right down to it, if your faith in your religion is so weak that one movie or one book is going to shake or shatter it, then that’s the problem, isn’t it?
DONOHUE: I—I’m not worried about the Catholic Church surviving, I want it to thrive. And I don’t want this book, which was built on a bunch of lies, to poison people’s minds in a time when it’s very seductive to think the worst about the Catholic Church because of some of the things the church itself has done.
LAUER: People are skeptical about you, Bill, because in part of the ad you plug a book that the—the—the Catholic League has put out, The Da Vinci Deception…
LAUER: …One Hundred Questions About the Facts and Fiction of “The Da Vinci Code,” selling it for 7 bucks. You’ve admitted you’re going to make about 4 bucks per book.
LAUER: So is this just a way to make money for the Catholic League?
DONOHUE: I’m a ca…
LAUER: By create—by creating this controversy?
DONOHUE: I love capitalism, and the more money I get, the more I can use it against the bigots.
LAUER: And—and some people say you’re going to help Ron Howard and Sony Pictures and their capitalism by creating more buzz, more people are going to go see this movie.
DONOHUE: Everybody knows about it. And by the way, why hasn’t Hollywood put out a rerun of “The Birth of a Nation”? The D—D.W. Griffith movie of 1915, which is so invidiously racist against blacks, which glorified the Ku Klux Klan? If it’s just a movie, how come gays complain about movies, like the one about “Jay and Silent Bob,” and said it’s dangerous to homosexuals? How come only when Catholics complain, it’s just—we’re supposed to lighten up?