Guests: Laura Schlessinger, Paul Waldman, John Stossel
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Right now in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY: Hillary and Condi square off as the Clinton war over Fox News revives the Democratic Party. Was it Bill Clinton at his fighting best or a shameless ploy to play to his base? We‘ll show you what Bill Clinton and Richard Clarke said four years ago and let you decide.
Plus, Bill O‘Reilly back in the top of the book charts, bringing out critics in full force. Why the war on Bill O‘Reilly? And why is it kicking into full gear now? John Stossel with his take and Media Matters O‘Reilly expert.
Then later, Dr. Laura takes aim at her new radio competitors, Oprah Winfrey and Jane Fonda. Plus, George Clooney for president?
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. No passport required, only common sense allowed.
But first up, Bill Clinton‘s war of words against Fox News. It‘s caused reverberations around the nation‘s capital today as the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, weighed in and fired back at the former president‘s finger-wagging exercise by pointing back at Mr. Clinton, telling “The New York Post” editorial board, quote, “The notion somehow, for eight months, the Bush administration just sat there is flatly false. What we did in eight months was at least as aggressive as what the Clinton administration did in the preceding eight years.”
But the politician who stands to gain the most from the Clinton outburst, his wife, has a slightly different view of her husband‘s performance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: My husband did a great job in demonstrating that Democrats are not going to take these attacks. You know, all you have to do is read the 9/11 commission to know what he and his administration did to protect Americans and prevent terrorist attacks against our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s so obvious! And that‘s why I was laughing at Bill Clinton‘s rant the other night because it was so obvious that he was saying to Democrats, Follow me. This is how you do it. This is how you fight back. And it‘s a message he‘s been giving for a while. You‘re not going to believe a quote that we dug up from 2002 that we‘ll play for you in a minute.
Meanwhile, the editorial same page that Condoleezza Rice spoke to fired shots against both sides, and “The New York Post” claimed that, quote, “Clinton effectively slept through it all, and now he‘s trying to rewrite history,” while the head of the Democratic Party said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD DEAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: A big morale booster, not that we needed one. I think we really believe that we can win this one. But Bill Clinton, as he often has in the past, showed us the way to win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: The man still has no neck. After all these years, no neck.
The Clinton camp sent out their shock troops today, with their most loyal street brawlers, James Carville and Paul Begala, showing up on the “Today” show to defend their former boss. They also mocked Fox, and they pressed a claim that the blame for 9/11 rests with nobody but George W. Bush.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CARVILLE, CO-AUTHOR, “TAKE IT BACK”: I‘m glad he did it. And I think he made a very good point, and I think people around the country are saying, We don‘t have to live under this regime anymore, where there‘s a blatant double standard. And I feel...
MEREDITH VIEIRA, CO-HOST: But James...
CARVILLE: ... very good about it.
VIEIRA: ... even he admitted—even he admitted that he did not do enough, when asked. He said he did not do enough, but he tried, as he put it. But...
CARVILLE: (INAUDIBLE) And he gave his answer. And everything that the president said was factual. Not one assertion of fact has been challenged. That‘s the...
CARVILLE: ... that we did more, but (INAUDIBLE) Fox in 34 different interviews has never asked a senior Republican why didn‘t they try to get bin Laden.
PAUL BEGALA, CO-AUTHOR, “TAKE IT BACK”: So he attacked us.
VIEIRA: Why would Clinton appear on this? First time he‘s appeared on “Fox News Sunday,” and even his own spokesperson said he felt that Chris Wallace had an agenda, that Fox News has an agenda...
CARVILLE: Oh, come on! Oh, no!
CARVILLE: Are you really asking me a serious question?
VIEIRA: Why would—I am asking you a serious question.
VIEIRA: No, no, no. I am saying what the spokesperson said, that, We believe that they have an agenda, we knew that going in.
CARVILLE: Well, of course.
VIEIRA: OK, so why would he go in?
VIEIRA: ... I‘m going to set the record straight. Absolutely.
CARVILLE: Rupert Murdoch, who is the head of Fox News, was at the Clinton Global Initiative. This was a deal that raised $7 billion. Bill Clinton is the most popular probably relevant human being on the earth today. So in this, he says, OK, they‘re coming up. I will do this. Does everybody know—is there a serious person out there that doesn‘t say Fox News has an agenda? So they come right out of the chute. And you know what? I feel so liberated that he did this.
CARVILLE: And he made—and by the way, not a single—Condoleezza Rice didn‘t have her facts. She just says (INAUDIBLE) She said she didn‘t want to retaliate for the Cole. We know there was a plan (INAUDIBLE) And they said, Well—you know, her answer in there is, Well, we were at least as good as the Clinton administration. No, you weren‘t. The Clinton administration...
VIEIRA: You said you felt liberated. I want to ask you because you guys have argued for a long time—I mean, you‘ve been hard on your own party, saying you need to get a backbone. Do you think, in a way, Clinton was giving this party a backbone, saying, When you‘re accused of not being tough on terror...
VIEIRA: ... you got to speak up?
BEGALA: And good Dr. Clinton gave us a spinal transplant on Sunday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Again, it‘s just so predictable! I love it!
So who has the story right? Here now to sort it out, we have Joe Klein—he‘s “Time” magazine columnist and the author of “Politics Lost (ph).” He‘s also the author of two books about Bill Clinton, “The Natural” and “Primary Colors.” Also Laura Schwartz, a former special assistant to President Clinton, and Richard Miniter, author of “Losing bin Laden: How Bill Clinton‘s Failures Unleashed Global Terror.”
You know, Joe Klein, back when I was on the Hill, we would always pull our hair out and say, Why can‘t Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey do what Bill Clinton does and plan two or three chess moves ahead? And it‘s so obvious, as you see these people coming out, they‘re parroting the same thing, that Bill Clinton‘s giving them a chance to fight back.
But let‘s talk about the substance of the matter. Who has it right here? Was Bill Clinton wonderful on fighting bin Laden and George Bush was terrible, or was it the opposite? Sort it out for us.
JOE KLEIN, “TIME” MAGAZINE: First of all, Joe, just watching that garbage that we just saw—I mean, we‘ve had 18 years of Bushes and Clintons in the presidency. We‘re doomed to have them for another two years. But please, God, not after that. No more Bushes, no more Clintons. Please, let‘s end that era.
SCARBOROUGH: And what has—I mean, that has done so much—I mean, it‘s really—the Bushes...
KLEIN: It‘s disgraceful! We‘re in the middle of a war, and these guys are acting like clowns!
KLEIN: Could I just say, to answer your question, Clinton was wrong about his administration and right about the Bush administration during the first eight months of the Bush administration. I mean, it was clear after our embassies were attacked in 1997, I think it was, that we had to have a really vigorous response to what was clearly a major threat growing in al Qaeda. And you know, the public wasn‘t ready for it at that point. You know, the World Trade Center hadn‘t been attacked.
But the president has a bully pulpit. Bill Clinton could have built support for the kind of vigorous military response that would have cleared out Afghanistan, cleared out Osama. He couldn‘t do that, however, in 1998 because you remember what happened, Monica Lewinsky. So I think that he is understating what his administration did, although I do know that Sandy Berger, Madeleine Albright, Bill Cohen, the secretary of defense, were all tremendously concerned about al Qaeda. It grew after the Cole was attacked. But they didn‘t do what they needed to do.
SCARBOROUGH: But Joe Klein, isn‘t it asinine that you have both camps pointing at each other, saying, It‘s his fault? No.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s his fault. Well, can‘t we just say—can‘t we all agree that it was Bill Clinton‘s fault, it was George W. Bush‘s fault, and it was the fault...
KLEIN: It was both their faults.
SCARBOROUGH: ... of the people who worked underneath them?
KLEIN: And you know who else‘s fault it was? It was our fault because we had gone through a period of peace and prosperity unlike any the world had ever seen. The cold war had just ended. We were kicking back. We were fat and happy and not ready to face the next threat. So I think, you know, all of us have some blame to carry here.
The question is, right now, the situation is getting worse. We have a National Intelligence Estimate that says that the war in Iraq is creating more—you know, more Islamist radicals, and the question is, How do we deal with it now? There are American kids who are losing their lives every day, and you know, I‘m getting really tired of this thing being played as a political minuet.
SCARBOROUGH: And let me just say, I was on the Armed Services Committee from 1994 to 2001, and I was concerned primarily with China and then Iran. And a lot of us on both sides of the aisle didn‘t see this Osama bin Laden threat coming any more than Bill Clinton or George Bush, regarding focus.
Now, four years ago, Bill Clinton told the Democratic Leadership Council what it would take to win in 2004. He gave this speech in 2002, after they lost the mid-term elections. Take a listen to what he told the Democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Last point I want to make is, we‘ve got to be strong. When we look weak in a time where people feel insecure, we lose. When people feel uncertain, they‘d rather have somebody that‘s strong and wrong than somebody who‘s weak and right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Rather have somebody who is strong and wrong. Isn‘t that what that was all about, Laura, that finally, a Democrat goes on national TV and he goes after the boogie man, Fox News. He goes after the vast right-wing conspiracy, and he hits them in the face. I mean, that‘s what we heard from Hillary, He taught us how to fight back, and that‘s what we heard from Carville and Begala, He gave us a spine transplant.
LAURA SCHWARTZ, FORMER ADVISER TO PRESIDENT CLINTON: And Democrats and a lot of independents all across this country. It‘s about time we learned that we can‘t take this lying down. Democrats have got to...
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, but—but...
SCARBOROUGH: But listen to what he said, though: It‘s better to be strong and wrong. So...
SCHWARTZ: Than weak and right, and that‘s what works with the media. That‘s exactly what this Republican administration has done since they came into office in 2000. And I don‘t think Bill Clinton was wrong. I thought he very succinctly put out a message that...
SCARBOROUGH: But is Bill Clinton‘s message...
SCARBOROUGH: ... the facts don‘t matter, that it‘s all about style over substance?
SCHWARTZ: You know what? Karl Rove has masterminded style over substance because, look, there is no substance to this administration, yet they won reelection. You know, Bill Clinton was very frustrated when John Kerry didn‘t come back after the Swift Boat Veterans attack. You know, President Clinton really believes that if we‘ve got the right message, we should be out there yelling it loud and clear so the country can hear what the Democrats are going to do to make it better. That‘s what he did on Sunday.
SCHWARTZ: His emotions definitely got involved.
SCHWARTZ: And of course, as a politician, you get your emotions in there, the story‘s going to be about the emotion and not the message, like we‘re talking about tonight.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, and Laura...
SCHWARTZ: It definitely makes a big difference.
SCARBOROUGH: Laura, I do think that, like the Bush White House, Bill Clinton has understood for a very long time that if you‘re going 90 miles an hour, people rarely try to stop you. And again, they will take—
Americans will take might, even if you‘re not right.
Hey, everybody stay with us. When we come back, much more with our all-star panel, including how Bill Clinton‘s blow-up‘s playing with late-night comics.
Also ahead, Bill O‘Reilly attacked by the left over his new book, which his critics say is filled with lies. We‘re going to ask John Stossel if they‘re being fair and balanced with Bill.
And later, Dr. Laura takes on Jane Fonda and Oprah in the radio wars. The original queen of talk radio tells us why her competitors are doomed to fail.
SCARBOROUGH: Welcome back. Bill Clinton‘s run-in with Fox News on Sunday provided plenty of material for late-night comedians. Here‘s a look at how they took aim at the former president and also took some shots at the media for good measure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, “LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN”: He got very upset. He went ballistic. He was loud. He was angry and confrontational. So Fox gave him a show.
JON STEWART, “THE DAILY SHOW”: Angry Clinton, informational Clinton.
I wonder which one the media focused on?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... Bill Clinton. Clinton became combative over the weekend...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... became very combative during the interview...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... very combative Fox News interview...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The former president was furious! He seemed to go on overload. It was—it seemed like a complete meltdown.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was really taken aback that he lost it.
STEWART: Really? Who the (DELETED) you?
JAY LENO, HOST, “TONIGHT SHOW”: Well, after Chris Wallace, Clinton then went over to Nickelodeon to do a kids‘ show where he was interviewed by, you know, a little kid journalist. But he was still pretty wound up. Show them that interview from Nickelodeon (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. President Clinton, welcome to “News for Kids.” It‘s only September and Christmas is already on my mind. Are you excited, too?
BILL CLINTON: There‘s a reason it‘s on people‘s minds because there‘s been a serious disinformation campaign to create that impression.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you mean? Don‘t you like Santa?
BILL CLINTON: I worked hard to try to kill him. I authorized a finding (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You tried to kill Santa?
BILL CLINTON: We contracted with people to kill him. I got closer to killing him than anybody‘s gotten since.
LENO: You know, I like Bill Clinton, but if he can‘t be pleasant and polite, I don‘t think he‘s going to be the kind of first lady Hillary‘s going to need.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, it‘s rough out there. Back (INAUDIBLE) Joe Klein, “Time” magazine columnist. Also Laura Schwartz, former special assistant to President Clinton. And also Richard Miniter, author of “Losing bin Laden: How Bill Clinton‘s Failures Unleashed Global Terror.”
Richard, obviously, you‘ve written a book on this subject, and you think Bill Clinton is wrong and George Bush‘s team is right. Tell me why.
RICHARD MINITER, AUTHOR, “LOSING BIN LADEN”: Well, not uniformly. I think Clinton had some successes. But I think, on balance, this episode of violent temper has hurt Clinton a lot because this is something that Clinton aides have always talked about, this incredible temper, this invasion of personal space. This is the first time the American public has seen it.
Then if you look at his record, you know, 38 days into his presidency, the World Trade Center was bombed, killing seven people. He never went to visit the site. He only mentioned it in his speech during a Saturday morning radio address and never referred to it again. Again, there were attacks every year of the Clinton presidency after that, ultimately claiming the lives of 59 Americans. And there was very little in the way of response. There was no attempt—and he‘s a formidable communicator—to rally the public, to...
SCARBOROUGH: And why is that, Richard? Why do you think he kept his eye off the ball?
MINITER: I think he was able to transform the Democratic Party on economics, to make it the party of prosperity and economics, but he wasn‘t prepared to take on the 1960s, ‘70s Vietnam syndrome inside the Democratic Party...
SCARBOROUGH: He did go—he did go into Bosnia and Kosovo, though, right?
MINITER: Air strikes mostly, yes. But look, these—Hezbollah and al Qaeda were in a neck-and-neck contest to see who could kill the most Americans. Al Qaeda‘s currently ahead. He did not take any serious military steps against them. And when presented by action plans by Richard Clarke, he and his cabinet vetoed them for the most strangest of reasons. They thought it was disrupt the Middle East peace process, or the attack on USS Cole, which took the lives of 17 sailors and injured another 39, that wasn‘t worth retaliating for, he said. So the inability to overcome that 1970s outlook of that particular wing of the Democratic Party limited his options.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Joe Klein, though, it seems to me there are a lot of Republicans that opposed Bill Clinton when he went into Bosnia and Kosovo, myself included. He actually—our complaint of Bill Clinton throughout the 1990s was that he was too internationalist, that he was too expensive, that he was sending our troops across the globe to more places than ever before. Of course, let‘s not talk about the 21st century. But if he was—if he did have that internationalist scope, was there a blind spot when it came to al Qaeda?
KLEIN: Well, there was a blind spot when it came to really tough military action. And in large part, that was because he was easily intimidated by the military, which in many cases, their, you know, reflex action is to say, Oh, no, we don‘t do mountains, as Colin Powell told the president when he—President Clinton—when he wanted to do Bosnia. You know, the appropriate response of Clinton, at that point, was, General Powell, if you don‘t do mountains, leave those four stars on my desk and good-bye.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, yes, the famous Abraham Lincoln quote, If you‘re not going to use your army, then, you know, I‘ll find somebody who will.
KLEIN: Right. But it‘s—but it‘s important to note that, you know, these were happening in dribs and drabs. By the time that the U.S. embassies were hit in 1997 and the Cole was hit, it was time, as Richard Miniter said, for Clinton to marshal his communications skills and send the orders to the military and say, Look, we got to get on the ground in Afghanistan and Pakistan and take action.
But I also think that we‘d be remiss if we just—you know, we‘re
doing ancient history here. We‘ve had a Bush administration which has been
you know, which has presented us with six years of utter incompetence and growing even more incompetent by the minute, the fact that, you know, Osama is still at large in Pakistan, that our supposed allies in Pakistan now have cut a deal with the—you know, with the tribes that are sheltering people like Osama bin Laden and the Taliban, and President Bush is just sitting beside—you know, sitting by, watching that, in spite of his—you know, his rhetoric about not—you know, not accepting the status quo in the Middle East.
SCARBOROUGH: And that‘s, of course, what Bill Clinton pointed out, that maybe he didn‘t find Osama bin Laden, but President Bush has had six years.
Laura, I want to play you a clip of what Rush Limbaugh had to say about Bill Clinton‘s comments, and then get your response.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I just can‘t get over this! All these Democrats running around now, yes, Clinton gave these Democrats a road map! He showed them how to put some spine back in their backs! He showed them how to go out and fight back and how to not take it, and so—anybody care to examine the lies told by Mr. Clinton? They don‘t matter!
You know, as far as the kooks are concerned, what Clinton said doesn‘t matter! How he said it is what matters. The content is irrelevant. The fact that he got there and wagged that finger, that—what is it, a six-inch finger in Chris Wallace‘s face—well, it looked like that to me. I mean, I thought I was watching a horror movie when I looked at it on the Internet Web. You know, the quality‘s not all that good. Looked like a combination of Frankenstein and Dracula.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: All right. But going to the bigger point there, Rush Limbaugh is right when he talks about Democrats loving this president because he fights back. And it‘s not always what he says but it‘s how he says it. And unlike any other Democrat out there, Bill Clinton knows how to win, doesn‘t he.
SCHWARTZ: Absolutely. I have to go back to what Richard said earlier, just about Clinton having this big temper. I worked with President Clinton for eight years, and many years since the White House. President Clinton does not have a temper or a negative (ph) temper or outbursts. Everyone is frustrated. Temper rises. But this is a man who stays level-headed because even during that interview, he was very succinct in his message.
As far as the Cole and not reacting to it, again, as he stated, the CIA was not able to certify that that was al Qaeda until the last two months of his administration. Plans were drawn up, but there was no actionable intelligence. But of course, during the eight months of the Bush administration, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush, Rice, they did nothing to go after that. If you want to talk about...
SCARBOROUGH: All right...
SCHWARTZ: ... actions speaking louder than words, in December ‘98, President Clinton got a Presidential Daily Brief that said Osama bin Laden was determined to attack inside the U.S. with commercial airliners. He had the CIA, talked to the FBI, put on high alert all up and down the East Coast, JFK, the international airports and the FAA, and I took action. And nothing...
SCARBOROUGH: All right...
SCHWARTZ: ... happened as a result of...
SCARBOROUGH: Lisa, we...
SCHWARTZ: ... August 6, 2001...
SCARBOROUGH: All right. All right.
SCHWARTZ: ... Presidential Daily Brief...
SCARBOROUGH: We got to go.
SCHWARTZ: ... to President Bush...
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Laura...
SCHWARTZ: He went golfing the day...
SCHWARTZ: ... that Osama bin Laden...
SCARBOROUGH: OK. You know what?
SCARBOROUGH: I have so much I want to talk about here. I know you do, too. I wanted to show the Richard Clarke quote in 2002, where Clarke said Bill Clinton didn‘t pass over a plan. But I‘ve got to—just very quickly, Joe Klein—and I‘m getting in so much trouble for extending this. Got to ask you very quickly to follow up on the Bill Clinton temper. I‘ve got a temper. Ask any cell phone I‘ve ever owned. I‘d be glad—I throw them when I feel like throwing them. Shut up, Mike! Just shut up!
SCARBOROUGH: But isn‘t it fair to say that Bill Clinton does have a temper? A lot of powerful men have tempers.
KLEIN: I‘d be very suspicious of a president who didn‘t have a temper.
SCARBOROUGH: Exactly! OK, very good. That‘s the answer. You see, that‘s why Joe Klein...
SCHWARTZ: But it‘s constructive. This is a man that can get frustrated and can talk about it, but he gives good message and it‘s in context, and I think...
SCARBOROUGH: All right. So there we go.
SCHWARTZ: ... it‘s completely justified.
SCARBOROUGH: Laura, I‘m going to lose my temper with you. The headline from Laura Schwartz: Bill Clinton give good message. Thank you, Joe Klein. Thank you, Laura Schwartz. Thank you, Richard Miniter.
Coming up next: Culture warrior Bill O‘Reilly does battle with the left. But which of his enemies does he consider to be the worst person in the world? It may be a guy that we‘re going to have on.
But next up, we‘ve got “Must See S.C.” First it was Tucker, now another (INAUDIBLE) personality tries to dance. Good God, when will these people ever learn? Stop it, David Gregory! Stop the madness!
SCARBOROUGH: Time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” video you just got to see. First up: Earlier this week, a French (ph) intelligence document called terror mastermind Osama bin Laden—or said he was dead. That information turned out to be false. And last night, David Letterman uncovered proof that Osama‘s actually making a comeback.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LETTERMAN: There were first rumors that he was dead, and people believe now that he will show up to prove those rumors wrong. Take a look at this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Recent rumors of Osama bin Laden‘s death are completely false. Al Qaeda‘s leader has not succumbed to typhoid fever in a remote region of Pakistan. In fact, he is very much alive, and tonight, he guest stars as Habib‘s wacky neighbor on an all-new “Two and a Half Martyrs.” Die laughing with us, only on Al Jazeera.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
And NBC‘s David Gregory was on with Conan O‘Brien last night, and the two broke down Stretch‘s, well, lack of dancing skills.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONAN O‘BRIEN, HOST: This is actually (INAUDIBLE) Was this a Chris Brown (ph) song was playing?
DAVID GREGORY, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Chris Brown.
O‘BRIEN: Let‘s play the clip and we can discuss afterward.
GREGORY: You know, it‘s funny. When I watch that, what I take away is that I—I only have one tie, apparently, because I was wearing the same one (INAUDIBLE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: (INAUDIBLE) white (ph) man overbite (ph). Coming up:
Bill O‘Reilly‘s new book is barely off the presses, but liberals are already attacking it. Is the left afraid of Mr. O‘Reilly‘s success? We‘ll ask another culture warrior, John Stossel, coming up. And later: Dr. Laura calls Jane Fonda‘s new radio channel “Air America on hormone therapy.” And that‘s just the beginning. Not going to want to miss this one. Stick around.
SCARBOROUGH: Much more ahead on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, including breaking news in the Anna Nicole Smith case. The father of her baby finally comes forward. We‘ll tell you who he is.
Plus, which celebrity scandal is “Law and Order” ripping from the headlines this time? The answer ahead in “Hollyweird.”
Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. We‘re going to be talking about those stories in minutes.
But first, Bill O‘Reilly is once again under attack from the left. Does the combative FOX News host deserve it or is the left angry that a conservative like O‘Reilly is given a chance to air his views every night and that that message makes him the undisputed cable news champ?
“The O‘Reilly Factor,” of course, wins the cable news rating battle by a landslide every night, and his radio show is heard on over 400 stations. But with the release of his latest book, “Bill O‘Reilly: Culture Warrior,” it appears the left has had its fill of the FOX News man and is now fighting back.
The liberal media watchdog group, Media Matters, offers this up about Mr. O‘Reilly‘s latest bestseller. They say, quote, “The book is replete with factual errors, rank hypocrisy and ad hominem attacks directed at anyone who has crossed swords with O‘Reilly.”
So is O‘Reilly on a cultural crusade to save America from who he calls secular progressives or is he just trying to sell books and get good ratings? Here‘s Paul Waldman. He‘s with a liberal watchdog media group, Media Matters. Also with us, ABC News‘ John Stossel, who‘s, of course, the author of “Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel: Why Everything You Know is Wrong.”
Paul, let‘s start it with you. Why are you and people on the left so offended by Bill O‘Reilly?
PAUL WALDMAN, MEDIA MATTERS: It‘s not that we‘re so offended by him, but we at Media Matters look at the conservative media, we look at the mainstream media, and O‘Reilly is a very important media figure. You know, he likes to portray himself as some kind of underdog but, in fact, he is really the media elite. He‘s got his own television show. He has a syndicated radio show, as you said, on 400 stations. He‘s got a syndicated newspaper column.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, what‘s wrong with that?
WALDMAN: Absolutely nothing, unless he goes on and says things that aren‘t true, which he does very often, makes all kinds of outrageous claims. You know, just to take one example, he‘s the only American I know who has actually advocated an Al Qaeda attack on a American city, as he did with San Francisco. So when he says things like that, we put up the video or the audio or the transcript...
SCARBOROUGH: OK. That‘s a good example, though, Paul, of you taking something that a conservative will say tongue-in-cheek and then coming on this show, and also talking about on your Web site, like Bill O‘Reilly really wants San Francisco to be nuked by Al Qaeda. You know that‘s not true.
WALDMAN: But, you know, that‘s his argument, too, that, oh, it was just satire. But if you listen to it...
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s not an argument. It‘s tongue-in-cheek. Do you really think that Bill O‘Reilly wants San Francisco to be nuked?
WALDMAN: But he has to take responsibility for when he says things like that.
SCARBOROUGH: For telling jokes?
WALDMAN: It wasn‘t a joke, if you listen to him say it. And what we did and what we do whenever he says something like that is we put it up on our Web site. We put the complete video, the audio, and the transcript, and the people can judge for themselves. And just for that, Bill O‘Reilly says we‘re a smear site, that we‘re defaming him because we put up his own words.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, but, Paul, listen, let‘s be honest here for a second, OK? Let‘s be straight down the middle and be fair, because you know I go after Republicans, I go after Democrats, I go after people on the right and on the left. And when it comes to Media Matters, when it comes to your job, you make a living by bashing Bill O‘Reilly. I mean, you won‘t survive and Media Matters won‘t survive if you say nice things about Bill O‘Reilly, if you say nice things about Sean Hannity, if you say nice things about Rush Limbaugh. You‘re supported by people like George Soros who want you to bash conservative commentators, right?
WALDMAN: Actually, we don‘t get any money from George Soros. It‘s a common myth. We‘d be happy if he gave us contributions, but he hasn‘t.
But the point is that we are there to monitor the mainstream media and to monitor the conservative media. So, yes, when Bill O‘Reilly says something that‘s false, we will put it up on our Web site and explain why it‘s false.
SCARBOROUGH: What‘s the last good thing you‘ve said about Mr.
WALDMAN: I don‘t really know when the last time I said something good about him.
SCARBOROUGH: Because you haven‘t.
WALDMAN: But, you know, Joe, there are plenty...
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s what intellectual honesty is all about. It‘s like, you know, I criticize Democrats, I criticize Republicans.
It‘s like, John Stossel, you do the same thing. I hear you go after Republicans and Democrats alike. Talk about Bill O‘Reilly and why he‘s such a lightning rod for liberals on America. Why do they hate the guy so much?
JOHN STOSSEL, AUTHOR, “MYTHS, LIES AND DOWNRIGHT STUPIDITY”: I think one reason is that he‘s so unbelievably successful. I mean, Joe, I think you do a great job. I love your show, but even O‘Reilly‘s reruns clean the clocks of everybody else on cable, including you. He is just...
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, that hurts, John Stossel. No, O‘Reilly—and explain this to people, because they don‘t know. I mean, it‘s only those of us in the media that look at these ratings everyday. Bill O‘Reilly is a runaway cable news champ. Nobody comes close, not even on his own network on most nights. So if O‘Reilly is this liar and this demon and this beast, then what‘s that say about all the Americans that tune in and watch this guy every night?
STOSSEL: And he isn‘t that.
SCARBOROUGH: Of course not.
STOSSEL: He‘s on the air for three hours, and I‘m sure he‘s made some mistakes, but I would trust what he says over the smear mongering done by Media Matters any time.
WALDMAN: I‘d like to respond to that, Joe. I‘d like to respond to that, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second. I‘m going to let John talk, and then I‘ll let you respond. The bigger point I‘m making though is, if Bill O‘Reilly is this villain that he‘s made out to be, my point is, what does that say about the American people who buy this guy‘s books, who watch him every night, who listen to his radio shows? I mean, could it be that liberal elites on the coast are once again attacking those in flyover space who may actually know what they believe and like what Bill O‘Reilly says?
STOSSEL: Yes, and I know what he means by being a culture warrior. Where we live in Manhattan, people just despise him. I mean, I get some of that. Someone came up to me on the street and said, “Are you John Stossel?” “Yes.” “I hope you die soon.”
But O‘Reilly gets far more of it than I do. And the culture here is that anyone who disagrees with the liberal slant is evil.
SCARBOROUGH: No doubt about it. I want to show you a clip from David Letterman. I‘ve been a huge Letterman fan since the early 1980s, but I was shocked when I saw, again, my hero, David Letterman, going after Bill O‘Reilly. It was pretty stunning.
And you know what, John, it shows exactly what you‘re talking about, that even comedians, even people who are paid to make us laugh, somehow go after this culture warrior. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, “LATE SHOW”: I‘m not smart enough to debate you point to point on this, but I have the feeling—I have the feeling about...
LETTERMAN: ... 60 percent of what you say is crap.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: “Sixty percent of what you say is crap,” and then, of course, Mr. Waldman, he goes on and really attacks him. Again, I mean, Bill O‘Reilly gets under the skin of people on the left, doesn‘t he?
WALDMAN: I think at times he does. But, you know, Mr. Stossel just did the same dishonest thing that Bill O‘Reilly does. Whenever Bill O‘Reilly talks about Media Matters, he calls us a smear site and says we‘re defaming him. One thing you never hear him say, never once, is what exactly we‘ve said about him that constitutes a smear.
We‘ve done literally hundreds of items on our Web site about him. He has never been able to point to a single thing that we‘ve said about him that wasn‘t true. And Mr. Stossel just said that we “smear” him. So I‘d like to ask you, Mr. Stossel, what have we said about Bill O‘Reilly that is a smear?
STOSSEL: Well, I don‘t know what you say about O‘Reilly. I haven‘t read your site.
WALDMAN: Well, you said we were smearing him, so what is it? You obviously must have some evidence for that charge.
STOSSEL: I just make the assumptions because I‘ve read your smears on me. You talk, truthfully, something I say clearly out of context.
WALDMAN: What did we say about you that wasn‘t true? What did we say about you that wasn‘t true? Explain.
STOSSEL: Well, I don‘t have it chapter and verse in front of me. Last time you did it, I would look it up and say, “Wow, could I have been wrong about this?” And, no, I find you take it way out of context.
SCARBOROUGH: And let me join in here, Paul.
WALDMAN: Well, I would invite you right now—I‘d invite you right now...
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Paul, hold on a second, Paul.
WALDMAN: ... to tell us specifically what we‘ve said about you that wasn‘t true...
SCARBOROUGH: Paul, let me jump in. Paul...
WALDMAN: ... and we can talk about it. But just saying we haven‘t been honest about you without any evidence...
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, Paul, are you going to let anybody talk? I‘ll give you some evidence.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, again, I mean, you ask Republicans, you ask the White House, there are a lot of people there that hate my guts. But you guys try to nail me as this conservative TV talk show host because, again, it sells whatever you sell on your Web site.
And you say things about me all the time that aren‘t true. In fact, I called David Brooks and told him that he had it dead wrong on me. And I actually got a couple of apologies from you guys. But that‘s with me taking the time out to sift through all of this stuff and call you up. Again, I think the bigger point is that...
STOSSEL: You mean David Brooks or this guy, Brock?
SCARBOROUGH: David Brock, David Brock, apologies to David Brooks.
But, you know, the bigger point is that, when you‘re just focused at attacking one side, sometimes it appears to be, if not a smear, at least intellectually dishonest.
WALDMAN: It‘s not dishonest at all. You know, we can say things about one side. And if they‘re true, they‘re true.
And, Joe, you just pointed actually to an important difference between you and O‘Reilly. There have been times when you‘ve looked at things at Media Matters has said, pointed out about what you‘ve said on your show, and you said, “OK, you have a point that maybe I didn‘t say that exactly in the right way,” and there have been other times when you‘ve disagreed with us and you‘ve had the integrity to say, “I disagree with you on this, and this is why I think you‘re wrong.”
O‘Reilly doesn‘t do that. He never says what he takes issue with. He just says, “Oh, they‘re smearing me. They‘re defaming me.” And this is what he says about anybody who opposes him.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. We‘ve got to go. John Stossel, I‘ll give you the last word.
STOSSEL: We need watchdogs like them. I hate a lot of what they do, but it‘s good. We have a free country with critics on the right and the left.
SCARBOROUGH: I agree with you, John Stossel. Thanks so much. Thank you, John. Thank you, Paul. Greatly appreciate it.
And coming up next, someone who can relate to Bill O‘Reilly, Dr. Laura is here to tell us why she thinks the mainstream media ignores her success and why new rivals Oprah and Jane Fonda are bound to fail.
And later in “Hollyweird,” will George Clooney join the growing ranks of celebrities-turned-politicians? What the actor is now saying about his political future.
SCARBOROUGH: Right there. All right, a big night in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. Oprah continues her takeover of the media world—we‘re waiting for her to buy us out—with a new channel called Oprah and Friends on the XM Radio dial.
And Oprah‘s not the only one. Jane Fonda has launched her own all-female network. So the big question is: Does radio need more estrogen? Dr. Laura Schlessinger, she‘s the host of the nationally syndicated radio show, “The Dr. Laura Schlessinger” program, and author of the book, “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands.”
Well, she came to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY with her own unique take, and I started by asking her whether she thought Oprah and Friends was going to be a big hit on radio.
DR. LAURA SCHLESSINGER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I have no way of guessing what‘s going to work. I‘ve got to tell you, some dozen or so years ago when I came out with my first book, “The Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives,” I was on her program two hours in a row, and she was very gracious in helping me launch that book, so I have that gratitude toward her.
SCARBOROUGH: What do you think about GreenStone Media, which is, of course, this communications corporation that started Jane Fonda‘s all-female radio network?
SCHLESSINGER: Well, pretty much I think it‘s Air America on hormone replacement therapy. I‘ve been on radio for 31 years. And you have the likes of Kim Commando (ph), and Laura Ingraham, and Tammy Bruce. None of us has ever been heralded in the “Ms. Magazine” crowd. None of us has been on the cover saying, you know, “Thank you for blazing the pathway.”
I mean, Jane Fonda, et al, are acting like we don‘t exist and they‘re inventing something. So I can‘t tell at this point, but I‘m just thinking that it‘s sort of ironic that these very important, in our society, female types have totally ignored the women who already have been successful in radio, in terms of touting us, thanking us, or even consulting with us, as to how we did it and how it can be done. We just don‘t exist, I guess.
SCARBOROUGH: So you‘re basically saying that you‘ve been a trailblazer in the field of radio, and yet you have not got any recognition from these same groups that are going to praising Jane Fonda, simply because they don‘t like your message, right?
SCHLESSINGER: Yes. So it isn‘t about women; it‘s about feminist women. I‘m the only woman to win a Marconi Award for a syndicated talk show host. There was barely a blip around that. You‘d think “Ms. Magazine” would have made me woman of the millennium on that. So it‘s not an issue of women; it‘s an issue of leftist, feminist mentality.
SCARBOROUGH: Some would say that you were being ignored because you‘re a conservative radio talk show host, but you don‘t consider yourself a conservative radio talk show host, do you?
SCHLESSINGER: No, because I don‘t do politics.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘m just curious, though. Since you don‘t talk politics, why have you been labeled—you, who consider yourself a reformed feminist—why have you been labeled a conservative by so many people?
SCHLESSINGER: Well, anything, frankly, that they don‘t approve of they try to destroy, and one way you destroy it is by giving it terms that you then say are degraded.
I remember one time a minister who was a professor in a religion Christian college called—this was like 20 years ago—and said, “I‘m so glad you‘re Jewish.” “Why?” I don‘t usually hear that. “Why?” And he said, “Because you can‘t be discounted as a Christian fundamentalist nutcase.”
Well, they found another way to try to do it, and that‘s by calling me conservative anyway, as though that were a bad thing, as though having traditional values and a real love of the power of morals, ethics, values and principals in your life, how they set you up for more success than just emotional chaos. To me, it‘s a very good thing.
SCARBOROUGH: Thanks so much, Dr. Laura. It is a good thing. And we‘ll be right back with breaking news from “Hollyweird.”
SCARBOROUGH: Breaking news from “Hollyweird,” friends. A new twist in the Anna Nicole story. Her attorney, Howard K. Stern, says he is the father of the new baby. With us now, “Star” magazine‘s editor-at-large, Jill Dobson, and “OK” magazine senior reporter Courtney Hazlett.
Courtney, manna from heaven for you, huh? Talk about this breaking news.
COURTNEY HAZLETT, “OK” MAGAZINE: This is huge. We are all atwitter here.
HAZLETT: You know, a lot of stories...
SCARBOROUGH: Michael, are you atwitter? We‘re all atwitter.
HAZLETT: Yes, exactly. Exactly.
SCARBOROUGH: Keep the camera off of Michael when we have them here.
HAZLETT: I actually did just speak to a source the other day who‘s really close to Anna Nicole, and he was saying, “You know what? The father was with her all along. He was in the delivery room. He was there when Daniel died, and this would not be, you know, by process of elimination the person who‘s been claiming to be the father, Larry Birkhead.” So Howard K. Stern has come forward, and maybe this is the truth.
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s big. “I Was With You All the While,” I think, is an ‘80s song. So talk about it. Big news.
JILL DOBSON, “STAR” MAGAZINE: It is very big news. And what‘s fascinating is that Anna Nicole has two men who have come forward and said, “I love Anna Nicole. I want to be with her, and I‘m the father of this baby.”
SCARBOROUGH: You think it‘s her personality (INAUDIBLE) What do they see in this woman?
DOBSON: Don‘t go there, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, I can‘t.
DOBSON: Anna Nicole is very alluring to men everywhere. That‘s why she‘s been a success, yes.
SCARBOROUGH: Really? I guess so.
DOBSON: But it‘s interesting that both of these men want to be with her. Larry Birkhead has been saying all along, “I still love her. How could you not love the mother of your baby?” And Howard K. Stern revealed that he‘s the father, according to himself, and that he wants to marry Anna Nicole.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s not hard to figure these things out, is it, why Anna Nicole is attracted to men, including 89-year-old men that...
DOBSON: J. Howard Marshall, yes. Exactly. Exactly.
SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s talk about a man who‘s alluring to women, George Clooney, maybe running for office, huh?
DOBSON: Well, that‘s the report. Of course, he was with Governor Schwarzenegger and they were talking about trying to save lives and end genocide in the Sudan. And while he was there, people were like, “George, run for office.”
SCARBOROUGH: And he says no, but they‘re going to keep pushing him.
I mean, it‘s in his blood, isn‘t it?
DOBSON: He‘s always been very interested in politics and very outspoken and well-spoken about his beliefs, so it certainly makes sense that people would want to see him run.
SCARBOROUGH: And his father ran for Congress in Kentucky a couple of years back.
HAZLETT: That‘s right. It‘s definitely in his blood. He‘s been so, so influential with the Save Darfur movement, which is fantastic. But I also like to say that I think it‘s nice to see a celebrity who actually knows their limitations for once...
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, yes.
HAZLETT: ... because he says, you know, every celebrity seems to want to be so many different things and wear so many hats, and it‘s hard to be a jack of all trades...
SCARBOROUGH: And that‘s what I like about him. He‘s like thinking, “OK, yes, I could save the world, or I could hang out in Italy. Let‘s see”...
HAZLETT: Or I can do a little bit of both and never overextend myself. That‘s pretty nice, too.
SCARBOROUGH: Hang out in Italy, hang out with women, and try to save some people in Africa. Not a bad job, if you can get it.
HAZLETT: Everyone‘s happy.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, forget the Malibu police. Mel Gibson is getting a whole new kind of law and order. NBC is planning an episode in November based on Gibson‘s drunk driving. This guy‘s in the news, right? I mean, this movie is coming out. “Law and Order,” Mel Gibson‘s star may be on the rise, huh?
DOBSON: Apparently. You know, he laid low for a couple of months, I‘m sure on his publicist‘s advice, and now he‘s out...
SCARBOROUGH: And also because he was very drunk.
DOBSON: Right, in recovery, Joe. In recovery.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘m joking. I love Mel.
DOBSON: And then he was at a screening recently and came out against the war in Iraq, which is only going to make him more popular among the industry types in Hollywood, and now this episode of “Law and Order” about a movie star who is pulled over for drunk driving.
SCARBOROUGH: And quickly, Courtney, I mean, this movie that‘s coming out is supposed to be great. Apparently, Oscar voters are going to be torn.
HAZLETT: Great if you know the ancient tongue that the Mayans spoke.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, yes, which, of course...
HAZLETT: How many movies in dead languages do we need? Let‘s call a spade a spade.
SCARBOROUGH: Of course, you know, you don‘t graduate from the University of Alabama unless you are well acquainted with that tongue. Speaking of tongues, let‘s leave with the Hoff. Good night, everybody. Thank you, Jill Dobson and Courtney Hazlett. We‘ll see you tomorrow night in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID HASSELHOFF, ACTOR (singing): Secret agent man, they‘ve given...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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