updated 3/23/2006 11:08:10 AM ET 2006-03-23T16:08:10

Guests: Johnny Isakson, Brent Bozell, Flavia Colgan, Bob Jensen, William Fallon, Lindsay Martin, Jayne Weintraub, Tom O’Neil, Carmen Rasmusen, William Donahue, Richard Walter, Jim Garlow

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”:  Hey, thanks so much, Rita.  And right now in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY the president says the press is helping the enemy win in Iraq.  What do you think?  We’re going to debate that tonight.  And later, Christians say no to boycotts, but yes to truth squads as religious conservatives prepare for a P.R. war against Tom Hanks “Da Vinci Code.”

Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, no passport required, only common sense allowed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER:  From the pressroom, to the courtroom, to the halls of congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all.   Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome to the show tonight.  Those stories are coming up straight ahead.  Plus, is there a dangerous double standard when it comes to sex criminals?  Deborah LaFave had a long-running affair with a 14-year-old boy, but today prosecutors let her walk.  Tonight an angry victim’s mother talks.

And idol on the brink, as Paula Abdul’s behavior gets more bizarre by the minute.  Her new battle with Simon has some asking is this hit show at risk of taking a fall? 

But first, is the media aiding the enemy in Iraq by reporting bombings and bloodshed or ignoring the good news?  President Bush accused the media of being manipulated by the enemy in his press conference yesterday at the White House. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  But also is a realistic assessment of the enemy’s capability to affect the debate and they know that.  They’re capable of blowing up innocent life so it ends up on your TV show. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And while selling the war today in West Virginia’s town hall meeting that he held, President Bush once again suggested the media was biased in its war coverage.  The president’s words have obviously angered news executives across America and I predict it’s soon to spark a nationwide debate because I think the White House will continue its attacks on the press as part of a political strategy moving forward, a strategy that I think will resonate with millions of Americans.  Does the president have a point or a new scapegoat for his wartime woes? 

Let’s bring in Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center, we also have democratic strategist, Flavia Colgan, and Bob Jensen from the School of Journalism at the University of Texas. 

Professor Jensen, you’re a journalism professor, how do you respond to the president’s charges that the media is in effect aiding and abetting the enemy? 

PROF.  BOB JENSEN, UNIVERSITY OF Texas:  Well, I think the media has performed poorly, but not by aiding and abetting the enemy, by failing to aggressive in challenging the Bush rational for the war.  So in fact, the press is often falling down on the job, but not the way George Bush is saying.  What the press is doing is trying to report the reality of the disaster of this occupation.  It’s a phenomenal disaster.  It’s shown in the data.  Oil production is down, electricity production is down, deaths are up, car bombs are up and most importantly the percentage of the Iraqi people who want U.S. to set a withdrawal date is up.  So I think, to the degree the press is failing, it’s not the way George Bush would say. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And Brent Bozell, that brings up an interesting point, liberals have long accused the “New York Times” and other left-wing publications of being too conservative, of being lap dogs for the president and yet conservatives are now saying they’re too negative.  What’s the true story?

BRENT BOZELL, MEDIA RESEARCH CENTER:  I don’t think liberals has anything to worry about when it comes to the “New York Times.”  Look what your last guess just said is precisely what the president is talking about.  That’s not the reality of Iraq.  Iraq is a many fold stories.  Look at the numbers and the numbers tell you everything.  We did a study last year of the big three networks over a nine-month period.  Sixty-one percent of the stories were negative, only 15 percent of the stories were positive.  By the end of the nine month period it was 73 percent negative, seven percent positive.  Now you talk to people on the ground in Iraq, the soldiers and they are aghast that this kind of story is being reported.  Look, the enemy cannot defeat us militarily, they know that, but they can defeat us in the world of public opinion and that’s where the battle is and they’re winning that one because the media are helping whether they’re trying to or not the reality is they are helping the enemy. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well Brent, what’s the good news over there? 

BOZELL:  When you talk to soldiers there, they will talk about military accomplishments, they will talk about humanitarian accomplishments.  You talk about the people that—the children in the streets who are celebrating the G.I.’s who are there on a daily basis.  A day doesn’t go by—virtually a day doesn’t go by where I don’t get an e-mail passed directly or indirectly from someone on the ground in Iraq saying why won’t the media tell the full story about what is down—what is going on over here?  Look, it’s not perfect.  The media ought to report the bad news when it happens, I’m not saying they shouldn’t, but there’s an awful lot of good news and that’s not being reported because the media don’t want to report it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Flavia Colgan, there seem to have been two different theories that have been out over the past several months on why the media’s coverage is negative.  One is that they’re biased and the other is that old adage if it bleeds, it leads.  Why do you think media coverage has been overwhelmingly negative? 

FLAVIA COLGAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Unfortunately, for Brent and the administration, the facts are biased and I realize that facts are very stubborn and they’re enormously inconvenient.  One, I would echo Bob’s point that I’m happy the media decided to get a backbone.  They were too busy impersonating stenographers in the lead-up to the war, and I completely agree with that. 

There are a couple of issues here, No.  1 in terms of progress, 30 percent of the country has clean water.  Electricity is only up 10 hours a day, OK.  Incidents are up.  Bodies are coming home daily in body bags.  We have spent hundreds of billions of dollars and we have paid in tons lives.  So of course, am I surprised hospitals that hospitals are being built and schools are opening?  Well, heaven sake, I should hope so.  We have incredible Americans over there working very hard.  And I don’t know who Brent is speaking to, but 72 percent of our men and women on the ground feel that we should leave within the next year.  Is the administration going to start saying that they’re aiding and abetting the terrorists too?  Because almost half of them don’t even know what they’re mission is?  And another thing that I’d like to point out is, yes...

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second, Flavia—hold it Flavia, you’re talking about a poll.  What poll are you talking about that 72 percent of the soldiers want to come home? 

COLGAN:  The Zogby Poll last week, 72 percent said—this poll came out last week—that 72 percent said that we should come out within the next, you know, within the next year.  Forty-eight percent...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second.  Flavia you’ve made a few points. 

COLGAN:  Wait, Joe, Joe, I want to make one more point.  I need to move—no, hold on Flavia,

SCARBOROUGH:  I need to go back right now to Brent Bozell because last week Nick Christoff also wrote about this Zogby poll.  I think it’s important to talk about that Zogby has—I think Zogby himself may be biased on this issue regarding this war, regarding Middle East—the Middle East situation.  But Brent, what do you have to say about this poll?  It seems to turn everything I’ve heard from G.I.s on their—in its ear? 

BOZELL:  Go on the ground and ask the G.I.’s what they think?  You know, I’m so sick and tired of these polls that are coming out, these skewed, loaded polls, especially the ones—now, I’m not suggesting the president doesn’t have approval problems.  He does.  But the numbers where they are being put out in some of these polls where they’re skewing it overwhelmingly to democratic voters.  When you ask somebody on the ground do you want to come home in a year, what the hell do you think they’re going to tell you? 

JENSEN:  Now, Brent Bozell, this...

SCARBOROUGH:  Of course they’re going to say they want to go home.

JENSEN:  This...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I need to bring in, right now, Georgia—Georgia’s U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson.  He’s recently returned from Iraq and he joins us now. 

Senator, thanks so much for being with us. 

SEN. JOHNNY ISAKSON ®, GEORGIA:  Thank you, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You, obviously, from what I’ve heard, you obviously believe that the media is not reporting the facts on the ground.  Give us some hard evidence. 

ISAKSON:  Well, I’ve been to Iraq twice, once shortly after the election, a year ago and once two weekends ago.  And I can tell you—I don’t know where the 72 percent number from the Zogby poll comes from, but I’ve been on the ground in Balad, on the ground in Talial (ph), on the ground in Baghdad talking to the soldiers, 2,800 from the 48th Brigade in Georgia where reenlistments in Iraq are at an all-time high.  They’re proud of what they’re doing, they do know what they’re doing and they do understand why they are there.  So, I would dispute the Zogby poll from basically having been there and talked to the soldiers on the ground. 

SCARBOROUGH:  What about the chaos that goes on in the streets everyday?  I’m sure you and any other member of Congress that goes over there doesn’t feel safe to walk down the street in Baghdad.  How do you get the security situation better and how does the media not report that everyday? 

ISAKSON:  Well, you know, look, there is no question there is some civil disobedience.  There’s no question there’s some secular violence.  There’s no question that there are some random terroristic (SIC) acts.  We are fighting terrorists, we are not fighting the Iraqis.  And the terrorists don’t want to defeat us.  All they want us to do is to lose our heart, lose our will, and lose our determination to stay.  We must see the course.  This is the ultimate war between good and evil.  We have done the right thing for the right reasons in the right place at the right time.  Staying the course is essential. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Senator, do you believe as the president said yesterday in the press conference, that the United States media, and I got to ad Europe’s media also into this, but that the United States media is, in a sense, helping out our enemy on the ground by just showing these negative pictures day in and day out? 

ISAKSON:  I would never accuse them of knowingly doing it, but I would have to tell you, Joe, having been there twice in the last year, what I see on television and what I’ve seen in Iraq are two entirely different stories.  I don’t think there’s a balance in the presentation.  I’m not interested in having a media that sells whatever the government of America wants, but I am very much interested in a media that will give Americans a balanced picture of what’s really happening. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right Senator, thank you so much for being with us, we greatly appreciate it, appreciate your insight.  Let me go back now to journalism professor Bob Jensen. 

Bob, it seems that as you go across America and, obviously, as the senator (UNINTELLIGIBLE), as you go across Iraq, there just are people that have varied opinions on this war.  Why does it seem, though, that again, most of the images that we see coming back from Iraq are negative?  I mean, we won’t see schools being built, we won’t see the hospitals being built, we won’t see the interaction between the Iraqi troops and our soldiers and our Marines.  You know, I get e-mails from these guys all the time talking about all the positive things that are happening over there, but that never seems to make it through the media filter.  Why? 

JENSEN:  Well listen, there are positive things that go on in any war zone, in any chaotic situation you’ll find positive things.  I get e-mails from conservatives with pictures attached of U.S. soldiers giving candy to children as if this is evidence that the occupation is successful.  It’s a fracture because themed a station continued with arrogance that was stunning.  The occupation is in abject failure.  It’s a failure because the Bush administration proceeded with an arrogance and incompetence that was quite stunning.  Now that’s not—it’s not a question of balance, it’s a question of reality.  The reality is that the occupation is failing.  The reality is that 87 percent of the Iraqi people want the U.S. out and the reality of the Zogby poll no matter what the conservative critics want to says, is that the American troops on the ground, when they’re talking...

BOZELL:  Can I ask your guest a question...

(CROSSTALK)

JENSEN:  ...a pollster, not to a congressmen who’s got a stake in this, tell the truth. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I want to let Brent respond, but Brent, I think it’s also fair to say that only 26 percent of Americans believe this country’s headed in the right direction, and in a large part because of what’s going on in Iraq. 

BOZELL:  I think the administration has done a rather poor—not a rather poor job, but a dreadful job of selling the fact that we’re in a war right now. 

JENSEN:  You don’t sell a war.  A war is a reality.  It’s not a product to sell. 

BOZELL:  Wait, wait a minute.  Let me finish.  Let me finish here.  Some let me finish here. 

BOZELL:  What I’d like to ask your guest is this question:  Having talked about all these terrible things that you are happening over there, please tell me the last battle the terrorists won in this military conflict? 

JENSEN:  It’s not—terrorists don’t have to—first of all, it’s a mixture of insurgents, it’s nationalists. 

BOZELL:  OK, give me the last one.  Give me the last one. 

JENSEN:  It’s all sorts of things.  But, let me tell you...

BOZELL:  Give me one.

JENSEN:  In case you didn’t pay attention during the Vietnam War, resistance forces to an occupation didn’t win battle. 

(CROSSTALK)

BOZELL:  Give me one battle.  One the won.

JENSEN:  Did you learn nothing from the last 20 years of history. 

BOZELL:  Then how are we losing?

JENSEN:  We’re losing the war because... 

BOZELL:  They haven’t won a battle against us. 

JENSEN:  But, you know, we didn’t lose a lot of battles in Vietnam and what happened, Brent?  Come on, I mean, at least deal with reality. 

BOZELL:  It’s public opinion.  That’s the battle.  That’s my point. 

JENSEN:  No, no...

BOZELL:  It’s not militarily.  Militarily we’re winning, but nothing’s being reported. 

JENSEN:  You know, and militarily we’re...

SCARBOROUGH:  Let me say this—hold on professor, let me interject this, that if you look at PB—there were after the war, PBS, I remember, had a great mini-series of on Vietnam and they, I remember, the part of it that really struck me the most was when they had the north Vietnamese generals coming on the air saying we knew we would never win in the jungles of Vietnam, but we didn’t have to because all we had to was win in the streets of America.  Isn’t that the same thing that’s going on 30 years later?

JENSEN:  No, listen...

COLGAN:  You know what, I want to...

JENSEN:  Imperial occupation forces...

COLGAN:  Brent talks about—Brent talks about selling a war.  This is exactly the problem. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Professor...

COLGAN:  Bush is spending all this time on a campaign trial trying to convince the American people that his rhetoric somehow matches the reality on the ground, and the American public isn’t buying it.  I would prefer, as I’m sure a lot of other Americans would, for him to get back into the White House, sit down with people, start mapping out metrics and a plan for success in Iraq.  And I have criticized democrats also.  Rhetoric won’t win the war.  And the thing that we also don’t see reported, and I do talk to 30 or 40 or so, guys in Iraq daily, I’m leaving this set so that I can pack my bags and go to, yet again, another funeral.  And the images they send me are very gruesome.  We don’t see about the civilian deaths.  A lot of other things we barely saw coffins, for heaven sake. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, we’re going to have to leave there.  I want to thank my panel, Brent Bozell, Flavia Colgan, and Bob Jensen, we’ll be right back in a minute with more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  As we lead up to “The da Vinci Code,” right now Christians around America, according to a new report, are putting together truth squads that their liberal critics are calling “goon squads.”  Which one is it?  We’ll get to the bottom of it when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  She admitted to having sex with one of her 14-year-old students, but Debra LaFave will not see the inside of a jail cell.  And what she said to the cameras surprised many Americans, yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEBRA LAFAVE, HAD SEX WITH 14-YEAR-OLD STUDENT:  I believe that I—my mental illness had a lot to do with my actions and for someone—I’ve gotten—my passion was teaching.  That’s taken away from me.  I’ve lost family and I’ve lost friends and as you can see my face has been plastered on every internet address, every news outlet and that’s not easy. 

QUESTION:  What do you think about the double standard?  You were...

LAFAVE:  I don’t think there is one.  I think we all should check those statistics.  And I don’t think there is a double standard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, she may not think there is a double standard, but many out there tonight do believe that women get a slap on the wrist for raping younger children while men get thrown in jail for on average 15 years.  Let’s bring in a former sex crimes prosecutor, Bill Fallon, Lindsay Martin attorney who works with the Liberty Council and also criminal defense attorney Jayne Weintraub? 

Lindsay, why is this woman who raped this 14-year-old by repeatedly not in jail tonight? 

LINDSAY MARTIN, LIBERTY COUNCIL:  She’s not in jail tonight because she has a pretty face and had a real good attorney.  That’s the reason she’s not in jail tonight.  There is definitely a double standard out there.  This woman is getting away with a slap on the wrist.  She’s a sexual predator who blamed bipolar disorder and her hyper sexuality for praying on a teenage by who has had repercussion, nightmares, physical, emotional trauma from this woman’s behavior and she gets off with a slap on the wrist.  This sends the entirely wrong message to society.  And really, every man in America should be up in arms about this.  Because, as you said, if this was a 25-year-old man raping—statutory rape, there was no consent, a 14-year-old girl, this would be rape and if there was no sentence, all of Tampa and Florida would be up in arms about it.  It’s disgusting. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And Bill Fallon, in fact, a Kansas state study showed that a man who was guilty of statutory rape on average would face up to 15 years, where as women, female teachers will face one to three years in prison at the worst or probation at the best.  What’s going on here with this double standard and how do we fix it? 

WILLIAM FALLON, FMR.  SEX CRIMES PROSECUTOR:  Well, there’s a double, double standard here.  Not only is that the women standard versus the men’s standard, but the pretty standard, it is the pretty standard, which I think Lindsey just referred to.  You know, it’s so interesting that even as they had this press conference where we had the complaint by this woman who sounded like a victim, she called this a bump on the road and I guess the media should go to jail, we should go to jail, everybody should go to jail but she. 

Now, I think the interesting thing is here the judge said it all.  The judge said this was shocking to his conscience, and for that reason couldn’t give the sentence.  I think the judge was saying to the prosecutors, with—and it was easy for him to do because guess what, she was already a convicted child molester who, by the way, wants to be a journalist, nice for all of us to know, but he said this is a shocking sentence.  I think had the procession had the guts to come up for a year or two, at least, we would have sending some kind of message here.  This victim would still not have had to testify.  I know the victim’s mother is upset about this, but quite frankly this was a case of a prosecutor’s dream.  There was a witness to this case.  The kid’s face would never have been on television. 

JAYNE WEINTRAUB, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Bill...

FALLON:  And I think we would have sending a message that you would not have predatory males or females getting away with this type of crime.  This is like priest abuse, doctor abuse, teacher abuse.  It is right up there.  I think it should be mandatory sentences for these types of crimes whether you’re a man or a woman.  And women get away with it.  First they do get charged often, second when they do get charged they have lesser sentences or in this case, in my mind, dismissed charges... 

SCARBOROUGH:  No sentences at all.

FALLON:  Let the jury decide.

SCARBOROUGH:  Jane, shouldn’t this woman be in jail tonight? 

WEINTRAUB:  Absolutely not.  Three reasons, No.  1, in Florida under our constitution we have a privacy right and we have rights of victims spelled out very carefully.  In this particular case the victim—the victim did not want to go forward and testify and the prosecutor couldn’t go forward without a victim.  It’s one of the factors he or she has to consider when bringing the case.  No.  2, whether or not there’s a double standard in this country is a social issue, not a legal issue.  What’s important here is whether or not the sentence was given as a double standard.  And the answer is no.  It was a right result.  Why?  The case never would have gone forward anyway.  Normally what happens when there are two cases in two different jurisdictions, one is dropped when the other one is pled.  That was...

(CROSSTALK)

FALLON:  Sure they should have gone forward at light sentences.  They both should have been heavy.  That’s the problem here.

WEINTRAUB:  The judge...

SCARBOROUGH:  And they --- And I want to play you what the victim’s mother had to say, tonight. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOTHER OF VICTIM:  I just don’t see any remorse.  You know, I think she enjoys being in front of the camera.  I have yet to see here really take any responsibility for her actions.  And it’s been this way through this, you know, 18 months, almost two years leading up to this.  A lot of information that’s never been brought in front of the press that this, again, from the various interviews from psychiatrists and whatnot, that’s what kept coming out of this, you know, out of these meetings with, is she—it’s as if she were the victim. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And Lindsey, in fact, she hasn’t shown any remorse at all.  Shouldn’t the prosecutor, shouldn’t the judge also take that into account when determining whether to give her probation or sending her to jail? 

MARTIN:  Absolutely.  And you know, I want to touch on something that Jayne said.  She said that there wasn’t a double standard in the legal system.  Well justice is supposed to be blind.  It certainly wasn’t blind to the blond-haired, blue-eyed babe sitting in the courtroom yesterday and giving her testimony in front of the cameras.

(CROSSTALK)

WEINTRAUB:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

MARTIN:  Absolutely.  Listen, I worked for the public defenders office.  Time after time you see the little blonde-haired girls coming in, they have ecstasy in their back pockets, they get out with probation, they do a few community service hours.

Lindsey...

(CROSSTALK)

But I’m sorry it’s the black girls from ghetto who get the though sentences.  Put people from the ghetto get the tough sentences.  That’s exactly what happens.

FALLON:  It’s always the boyfriend.  Remember, and I think we said this at the beginning...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on one second.  Bill Fallon, I want talk—Hey bill, I want to talk about a double standard as we close this out and I’ll throw it to you.  I want to talk about a double standard I support.  I think if you’re a teacher, if you’re a bus driver, if you’re a principal, a guidance counselor, if you’re placed in a position you’re—where parents bring their children for you to take care of them and you rape those children, I think there’s got to be strict liability.  I say you go to jail for 15 years at the minimum.  Why can’t we...

WEINTRAUB:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) going to be on house arrest for three years.

(CROSSTALK)

FALLON:  That’s not a double standard.  That is taking all those people who are in that special position who are more likely to be more offensive predators, when you’re in that position you go away. 

(CROSSTALK)

WEINTRAUB:  She’s a first offender...

FALLON:  And what this prosecutor (UNINTELLIGIBLE) said was, you know what?  I’ll give you a break because it’s going to be hard to prove, but not impossible as Jayne said, because there was a witness to this case.  I’ll give you a couple of years in jail.  But, I’m with you, let’s have more mandatory sentences which I’m generally against, but when priests, when police officer, when doctors, when teachers rape, they shouldn’t getting off whether they’re beautiful or homely. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Bill Fallon, Lindsay Martin, and Jayne Weintraub thank you so much for being with us.  And as far as I’m concerned, and I agree with Bill, if you are placed in a position of authority, whether it’s a teacher, a judge, a priest, whatever and you molest a child, take advantage of that position to victimize a child, there has to be a minimum standard sentence.  I say you start with 10 or 15 years. 

Coming up next, is “American Idol” in jeopardy of falling apart at the seams?  Reports of Paula Abdul being out of control in big blowout with the show’s star, Simon Cowell?  Is the show in serious danger? 

And is “The da Vinci Code” movie part of Hollywood’s attacking of religion?  Find out why some Catholics are joining truth squads to take on the film and why some liberals are accusing them of being goon squads.  All that and more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Talking about an ounce of prevention.  In Texas, cops are arresting people for being drunk.  Where?  In bars.  It’s part of our “Flyover” of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  And it’s coming up.

But, first, here’s the latest news you and your family need to know. 

(NEWS BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “AMERICAN IDOL”)

SIMON COWELL, JUDGE:  This is a singing competition.  It’s...

(CROSSTALK)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Tonight, could America’s favorite show, “American Idol,” be falling apart at the seams, because the judges and because Paula Abdul is spinning out of control?  We have got the inside report coming up. 

And find out why one state is sending undercover cops into bars, looking for the obvious: drunks. 

Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  We are going to have those stories in just minutes. 

But, first, fighting back against “Da Vinci”—this summer’s expected blockbuster hit, “The Da Vinci Code,” has outraged millions of Christians across the world.  And now they’re fighting back.  According to “The Christian Science Monitor,” they are mobilizing truth squads to debunk “Da Vinci”‘s claims before the movie comes out. 

The truth-squad offensive includes a DVD by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called “Jesus Decoded”—and the bishops hope to air it on national TV the week “Da Vinci Code” premieres—a four-phase church strategy to educate non-believers, a new Web site being launched next month by evangelicals, and an army of books, DVDs, pamphlets, and other outreach material. 

Are these truth squads going too far, in the face of what some people say is just a movie? 

With me now, we have got Bill Donahue.  He’s the president of the Catholic League.  We also have Pastor Jim Garlow.  He has created a strategy for churches across the country to fight back against “Da Vinci.”  He’s also author of the book “Cracking Da Vinci’s Code”—MSNBC contributor Flavia Colgan, and UCLA film Professor Richard Walter. 

Pastor, let me start with you. 

Why are you doing this?

DR. JIM GARLOW, SENIOR PASTOR, SKYLINE WESLEYAN CHURCH:  Well, because a lot is at stake. 

There are people who read the book.  They believed it.  It was just a novel, is just a novel.  The movie is, of course, based on a novel.  But the fact is, they’re believing it as being true.  So, consequently, we are urging church members to learn about the novel and then learn the truth, so they can be in dialogue with other people, to help them understand what the truth really is. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, what’s—what’s not truthful about “The Da Vinci Code”?

GARLOW:  Well...

SCARBOROUGH:  Educate us. 

GARLOW:  Well, for starters, it claims that Jesus was not proclaimed to be divine until the year 325 in the Council of Nicaea, and, by then, a close vote.  The vote was actually 316-2, so hardly a close vote at that time. 

And they didn’t declare Jesus to be divine there in 325 A.D.  They only affirmed what Christians have been willing to die for, for hundreds of years. 

On top of that, they claimed that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene—not a shred of historical evidence to that effect.

And the New Testament, really, Matthew, Mark and Luke and John were not in the originals; in fact, in the year 325, a great switch was done to put Matthew, Mark, Luke and John where the original Gospels had been—again, no historical evidence at all for that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Bill Donahue, also, the book, at least—the book claims, I think, for the most part that Jesus was a fraud, Christianity was a fraud, and the Catholic Church is run by goons. 

Do you think this type of education campaign is going to help.  Or do you think it’s just preaching to the converted? 

WILLIAM DONAHUE, PRESIDENT, CATHOLIC LEAGUE:  Well, I always think you have to remember the base.  That is to say, you do have to educate the people who you think are on your side, because many of them are not well educated. 

But if you are really going to have an impact on the culture, you have to go into the dominant culture.  We took out an ad out in “The New York Times,” an ad I wrote, which was published on March the 6th, which laid out our strategy, asking for a disclaimer.

The important thing is this.  Ron Howard is apparently a good guy.  And I have nothing against him.  I’m very pleased to learn that Sony, this week, is calling it fiction.  I’m very pleased that Brian Grazer, one of the co-producers, went on a TV show the other day and said that the movie is informed fiction.  He said, it’s not factual, it’s not historic. 

So, why isn’t that enough?  The problem is not so much with the movie so far.  It’s with the fact that the movie is based on a book by an author who is deceitful, who has tried to play both sides of the street, saying it’s based on fact, when, in fact, it is not based on fact at all.  And it is, indeed, a fiction.  And it is malicious, the lies that he tells. 

So, I think we have got to get the word out to people.  Hoaxes are bad.  One hundred years ago, they—they had the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.  There are still some people, particularly in the Muslim world today, who believe this anti-Semitic screed against Jews.

We should—we should insist on truth in advertising.  That’s all the Catholic League is doing in regard to “The Da Vinci Code.” 

SCARBOROUGH:  Richard Walter, what’s wrong with educating Americans and people across the world that this book is, in fact, a work of fiction?

RICHARD WALTER, UCLA DEPARTMENT OF FILM AND TELEVISION:  You know, the place to get educated, Joe, is in the schools. 

If I want a tuna fish sandwich, I don’t go to the hardware store.  And I don’t go to the movie theater for a history lesson.  If I do, I’m going to get a lousy history lesson, and I’m going to see a really bad movie. 

Don’t—it doesn’t need to be asserted on the screen that it’s fiction.  It’s already given it’s fiction.  Nobody going to think that it’s a documentary.  It’s not the penguins movie.

If you go to buy the book in a bookstore, it is going to be found in the fiction section.  It’s outrageous that people, no matter how noble their intent, no matter how divine their—their desire, would try to force a film artist to include in the film something that he doesn’t want to include and something that he doesn’t need to include.  That’s just... 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, what about these truth squads, Richard, that a lot of these Christians, evangelicals, Catholics, are putting out, DVDs, books, pamphlets?  Any problem with that? 

WALTER:  Well, no.  They have the right to do that. 

I—I—I suspect they are on the payroll of Sony.  They are just going to be publishing this picture, promoting it, bringing more attention to it, and causing it to have even greater business. 

They have the right to try to get people to think about the movie, and even not to see the movie.  But they’re—it’s not in keeping with the tradition of—of American free enterprise and freedom of expression.  And it’s going to fail. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Flavia Colgan, you are a divinity student.  Have—after—after reading “The Da Vinci Code,” do you think there is any great danger in Americans going to see this work of fiction?  Or do you think that there need to be these truth squads out there to sort of whip up a Clintonesque type of war room against Ron Howard’s film? 

FLAVIA COLGAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, certainly, the truth squads are definitely going to sell a lot of tickets to this film. 

Ron Howard and Tom Hanks, both avid churchgoers, I might point out, have been very clear since the beginning of this that this is a work of fiction. 

You know, as a—as a Catholic myself, there’s tons of things that I take umbrage with, in terms of my sensibilities, that is put out there.  A film that has Sir Isaac Newton and da Vinci as some of the protagonists is not something I’m particularly concerned with children watching. 

And I think, if anything, in fact, when I read it, it made me just want to explore my faith even more.  I mean, of course I don’t agree with the bulk of what has been shown in this—in this book.  But, again, I might point out that none of us have seen the movie.

And Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church have been misrepresented, have been attacked throughout the ages.  And she and one of the greatest stories ever told have certainly prevailed and persisted.  So, I think that it—a little bit infantilizing almost, to think that this movie is somehow going to...

DONAHUE:  You know what?  You know what I love about this?

(CROSSTALK)

COLGAN:  ... going to take me or other people of faith.

SCARBOROUGH:  Bill—Bill Donahue?

COLGAN:  And, you know, as a Catholic—Bill...

DONAHUE:  The...

(CROSSTALK)

COLGAN:  As a Catholic, you know, it concerns me that the head of the Catholic League, Bill, doesn’t have other things...

DONAHUE:  Let me tell you something.

COLGAN:  ... to do with his time. 

DONAHUE:  You...

SCARBOROUGH:  Bill...

COLGAN:  All the important issues facing us.

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, let Bill respond.

DONAHUE:  You—you know what I find amazing?

In the late ‘70s, we had some radical Muslims in Washington, D.C. take 149 people hostage because they didn’t want to see a movie open up.  We have had gays crash the set of “Fort Apache,” a Bruce Willis movie, because they didn’t want the movie to be shown. 

Tonight, in New York City, an off-Broadway play that—“My Name Is Rachel Corrie,” is not going on, because they might offend some Jews.  Sony didn’t want to offend Muslims, so they wouldn’t put out the Albert—Albert Brooks movie.

Do you get the point?  Muslims and Jews get protection.  Catholics don’t.  I am so fed up.  That’s why people loathe Hollywood, because they have a double standard for Catholics, as opposed to Jews and Muslims. 

GARLOW:  And, Joe, if we would, again...

SCARBOROUGH:  Pastor...

GARLOW:  If we had been boycotting the movie, they would have been accusing us of being reactionary. 

WALTER:  What does...

(CROSSTALK)

GARLOW:  The fact is, we are not boycotting the movie.  We are encouraging people to go to it, watch it.

But we’re not afraid of truth.  We want to encourage people, as a result of going to the movie, to study some issues that the movie will raise, to help lead them to truth, the truth about Jesus and the truth about the New Testament. 

So, we are excited about the movie coming out.  I don’t know Sony’s particular objectives, or Ron Howard’s, or—or—or Dan Brown’s, or anybody else’s.  But I do know people have been deceived by the book.  And they may be deceived by the movie.

And we want to be there to encourage them to take a look at the truth and discover who Jesus really is. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right. 

I want to thank you all of you for being with us tonight.  Greatly appreciate it. 

And I have got to agree with Richard Walter that people at Sony have to be very excited about it, because, just like of all the controversy that preceded “The Passion of the Christ” last year helped to sell a lot of tickets, I suspect this controversy will also help “The Da Vinci Code.” 

I’m joined right now by Tucker Carlson.  He’s host of “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON. 

Tucker, what’s the situation tonight? 

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON”:  Well, Joe, you’re talking about religion tonight.  And so is Hillary Clinton. 

She breaks into preaching during a pro-illegal-immigration rally, quoting the scriptures, saying even Jesus himself is against the bill before Congress.  Amazing. 

Then, an important new study out by “GQ” suggests that conservatives, much better in the sack than liberals, much better, by a very wide margin. 

We are going to be talking about this...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Tucker... 

CARLSON:  ... in some great detail tonight—not news to you or me, but I think to our viewers. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I was—I was just going to say, Tucker, I mean, this comes as absolutely...

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... no surprise to you...

CARLSON:  It’s true.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... or me. 

Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Thanks, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  And make sure you—you really do—tonight, especially—you want to stay tuned to watch “THE SITUATION,” coming up next at 11:00.  It’s important.

Coming up next, is “American Idol” falling apart?  Wait until you hear how bad the fighting has gotten between two of the judges, and whether Paula Abdul is spinning out of control. 

And if you think you have had a tough day at work, imagine being the person working in this store. 

It’s coming up—when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY comes right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Is the runaway hit show “American Idol” about to break into a full-scale civil war? 

Well, Paula Abdul’s behavior is getting more bizarre with each episode.  And her fights with Simon Cowell are bordering on vicious. 

Take a look at what happened last night. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “AMERICAN IDOL”) 

COWELL:  Paula, Paula, Paula...

(CROSSTALK)

COWELL:  Paula, you’re talking rubbish. 

(LAUGHTER)

COWELL:  You are. 

PAULA ABDUL, JUDGE:  You—you can’t...

COWELL:  No, you are.  You are.

ABDUL:  You cannot dance.  You cannot dance, Simon.

COWELL:  Shh.  Shh.  Hold up.

ABDUL:  The whole world knows...

(CROSSTALK)

COWELL:  This is—this is a singing competition. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABDUL:  ... upbeat, instead of...

(CROSSTALK)

ABDUL:  ... downbeat.

COWELL:  It’s a singing competition.  It’s not a dancing competition.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Is Paula’s behavior hurting the show?  And will the all-powerful “Idol” allow it to continue, or is it just another smart publicity stunt? 

That was actually very mild, compared to some of the things she has been doing lately. 

With us now to talk about it, Carmen Rasmusen—she’s a former contestant on the show—and also Tom O’Neil from “In Touch Weekly.”

Tom, I guess the polite way to put it is, Paula Abdul has appeared to be plagued by personal demons throughout her “American Idol” run. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Is that becoming obvious on... 

TOM O’NEIL, SENIOR EDITOR, “IN TOUCH WEEKLY”:  I think it...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... the screen for American viewers?

O’NEIL:  I think it’s very obvious.

She rambles.  She’s incoherent.  And I think that is part of Simon’s real problem with her.  He is such a serious guy.  And she’s so frivolous and so, you know, silly.  And—and here’s a typical comment of hers.

One day, Ryan Seacrest asked her what—how she would compare it, the current group of panel—of contestants against a past group, and she said—quote, unquote—“There’s not a day that people don’t come up to me, and everyone has different favorites.  So, it’s anyone’s game.  And it’s exciting as it can be.”

Now, what does that mean? 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, it—it—it means she has trouble completing sentences.  I guess you could all accuse all of us of doing that.

But, at the same time, there is a buzz in—in Hollywood that Paula Abdul has had some problems, whether it’s with drinking or prescription drugs, or—or—or—or other addictive—let’s just say other—other addictive substances.  Is that a problem with her?  Or is she just a flake? 

O’NEIL:  We don’t know. 

But her behavior is now becoming so erratic that you really can’t blame Simon for popping off.  You know, it was three weeks ago he just turned to her on the air and said, “Shut up.”  And she jumped out of the chair and said: “I’m not taking this anymore.  I’m changing chairs.”  This whole big drama took place. 

It—she has personal demons.  Whatever is causing her disorientation, she needs to get professional help.  But now it’s reaching crisis proportions. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And—and you—you add to that some very bad decisions she allegedly made in the past with—with former contestants. 

At what point do the leaders of “American Idol”—and, I mean, it’s such a juggernaut that they can’t afford to go—to be derailed.  At what point do they say, enough is enough; Paula, thank you for your services to FOX; now go home? 

O’NEIL:  Well, there were rumors this week that they actually confronted her that directly, and that they wanted to begin talks with a replacement.  Jessica Simpson’s name was mentioned.

But, then, they all patched it up behind the scenes.  She has been in this kind of trouble before.  Now, Simon has a long-term contract, two more years on his deal.  But Paula is dispensable.  You know, I think America would love to see Jessica Simpson there instead.

They love Paula.  And that’s part of her charm, is, she’s so effusive and sweet, overly sweet, and almost to a fake degree, but I think they would certainly forget her fast if someone like Jessica came on the scene. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Carmen, does—I mean, you have been there.  You have been behind the scenes.  Can you tell us tonight...

CARMEN RASMUSEN, FORMER “AMERICAN IDOL” CONTESTANT:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  ... that Paula Abdul doesn’t have a problem with drinking, doesn’t have a problem with drugs, that, really, she’s just a flake? 

RASMUSEN:  You know what?  Honestly, I can’t comment on something I don’t know anything about. 

I hugged her yesterday.  I saw her today.  And she seemed absolutely fine.  I didn’t notice anything different about her.  Paula is an interesting personality.  She’s very quirky.

And the whole thing with Simon, with them kind of clashing, you have three judges on the show with very different personality types.  Paula is the very emotional, touchy-feely judge.  Simon comes from the music industry standpoint.  So, he’s very black and white.  He tells it exactly as it is.  He’s very blunt.  And those personalities... 

SCARBOROUGH:  But—but, I mean...

RASMUSEN:  ... kind of clash.

SCARBOROUGH:  I mean, look at—I mean, if you look at some of these images of her up there, she doesn’t just look quirky.

RASMUSEN:  But that makes good TV.

SCARBOROUGH:  She looks like she is disoriented.  She looks like she is on something. 

RASMUSEN:  And it makes good TV. 

In every reality show, there is an element of acting.  You would be naive not to know that.  So, I don’t know that some of this isn’t put on just to make the viewer say, “Hmm, I wonder what’s happening?” 

SCARBOROUGH:  Carmen, do you agree with Tom that this show can go on without Paula, but it certainly can’t go on without Simon? 

RASMUSEN:  Honestly, I don’t think so.  I think it needs all three judges, Paula, Simon, and Randy, to make “American Idol” work.  I don’t think it would be the same without her. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Tom, you disagree with that, don’t you, that...

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... if Paula left tomorrow, this—this huge runaway hit would just keep rolling down the tracks? 

O’NEIL:  Oh, absolutely. 

Simon is essential.  We tune in to see what dastardly thing he’s going to do next.  But he always does it with a twinkle in his eye.  And when they fought in the past, there were times—one famous show, when Paula screamed at him, “You obnoxious jerk.” 

(LAUGHTER)

O’NEIL:  And he came back at her.  Well, they kissed and made up before.

In the past, this conflict, very real between them, was modulated.  Now this whole season, you can see Simon sneering at her and scowling at her.  His patience is wearing thin.  It is starting to make us, as viewers, impatient.  Now, if—if they are not comfortable with each other, suddenly, it’s—we become uncomfortable with them, when we realize:  Wow.  This is real. 

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt it.  And...

RASMUSEN:  Well, they were very—they were very...

SCARBOROUGH:  Go ahead, Carmen.

RASMUSEN:  ... good friends tonight, talking on the show.  And they’re still sitting by each other.  So, I guess it’s still working for now. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It is for now.

Carmen, thanks so much.

Tom O’Neil, greatly appreciate you...

RASMUSEN:  Thank you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  ... being with us. 

And, straight ahead, undercover cops make a shocking find inside of bars.  Believe it or not, they found drunk people, and arrested them. 

And what does Wal-Mart have to do with sushi?  The answer is in “Flyover Country.”  And, well, it may scare you. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  It’s time for another “Flyover” of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, the stories that may have fallen under the mainstream media’s radar screen, but certainly not ours.

Our first up tonight, San Antonio, Texas, where, if you are drunk in a bar, you better watch out, because you could be arrested.  That’s right.  The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is actually putting undercover cops in bars.  And they are arresting people who are drunk.  Why?  They say they’re doing it so they don’t drink and drive.  The first sting operation was done in a Dallas suburb, where agents went into 36 bars and busted 30 people.  The commission says it’s the only way to tackle the state’s drunk-driving problem. 

And, in Plano, Texas, Wal-Mart opens its first upscale store, and will sell high-priced items like sushi and wine, instead of fabrics and guns.  There are 1,500 items at this Wal-Mart that you just can’t find elsewhere.  There’s a cafe, fitness equipment, organic food.  And you can even buy a hot tub in here. 

Many residents were opposed to having Wal-Mart open up in their neighborhood, but they have been working with the retail giant to make sure the store fits their lifestyle. 

And what a flashy lifestyle it is.  One resident said: “We’re sorry it’s there.  But we are hoping to make lemonade out of lemons.”

Hey, one more thing.  Here’s a story about the one that didn’t get away.   Tom Jones said he and his sons were fishing in a creek in Sugar Land, Texas, when a 10-foot poisonous—nonpoisonous python brushed across his elbow.  Jones grabbed it, tossed it on the toolbox on the back of his truck, and says he thinks the python was an abandoned pet. 

This wasn’t Jones’ first big catch.  He said he also caught an 11-foot alligator when he was hanging out in the swamps of Louisiana. 

Hey, and when we come back, we are going to explain what happened in this amazing video. 

And also crashing your way, “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Take SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY on the road wherever you go.  Just go to iTunes and get your free podcast. 

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I will never criticize my son’s parking abilities again. 

Look at this.  Talk about a bad parking job—a pickup truck slamming into a store in Ohio.  A security camera caught these pictures as the truck barreled straight for the counter and the people that were busy at work.  They—luckily, they got out of the way just in time.  Nobody was injured.  But the driver is facing drunk-driving charges. 

You know, those police officers in Ohio should start arresting people in bars. 

Hey, that’s all we have time we have for tonight.  Thanks for being with me.

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