It has often been proclaimed that Fox TV’s 24 glamorizes torture, and some have suggested that CIA agents and independent contractors who went beyond the authorized interrogation techniques on real life detainees were influenced by the fictional show.
Now it turns out that the country’s most powerful person was preoccupied with a show that many say featured “torture porn.”
Former President George W. Bush is evidently a big fan of the hit Fox network show that follows counter-terrorism agents in “real time” — so big, in fact, that when he ran into 24 co-star Carlos Bernard a few years back, he immediately wanted to know if Bernard’s character, Tony Almeida, was a goner for sure.
According to the UK’s Daily Express:
The actor [said], “He grabbed me at a baseball game in the US. A big guy came up to me and said, ‘Excuse me, the President would like to speak with you.’ I went over, and it was George W. Bush, and he said ‘Hey Carlos, when are you coming out of that coma? All I can do is watch that show of yours. Are you coming back?’ I was like, ‘You don’t have anything better to do?”
Bernard does seem to be a little confused about when the meeting transpired, since the only time his character was ever in a coma happened in Season 3, which was in late November, after the 2003 baseball season had already concluded. Almeida’s character was believed to be killed off in Season 5, but he later returned to become a triple agent villain in Season 7.
Fox’s 24 has taken some hits from observers who say the show has promoted torture. The Parents’ Television Council counted no less than 67 torture scenes in the show’s first five seasons.
But other observers have pointed out the show takes a balanced view towards the controversial practice. Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly argued that, while the show’s premise may be conservative, its politics are liberal.
MC: You liken Obama to Britney in your famous ad, while portraying yourself as the more serious candidate. Which celebrity would you like to be compared to? Bob Dylan? Jack Nicholson?
JM: Kiefer Sutherland. [laughs, imitates a voice from the show 24] “It’s Jack Bauer.” We have a lot in common because he escapes all the time.
MC: Um, he’s also a torturer.
JM: Yeah, that’s right. That’s where Jack and I disagree. He believes in torture, but I don’t. He says, “Tell me where the weapons are.” The person says, “I won’t.” Bam! “OK, I’ll tell.”
McCain told Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart in 2007: “I watch it all the time. I’m sort of a Jack Bauer kind of guy.”