updated 11/16/2006 12:02:49 PM ET 2006-11-16T17:02:49

Guests: Michael Crowley, Rachel Sklar, Bob Kohn, Matthew Felling, Jill Dobson, Dawn Yanek

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Well, the political world turns upside down on Capitol Hill as the Republican whose career George Bush buried four years ago gets his revenge today.  With Bush‘s ratings at record lows and Republicans stuck in the minority, Trent Lott is back.  And another senator stabbed in the back by his peers becomes the second post powerful man in Washington.  Joe Lieberman now decides the fate of both parties, who‘s in the majority, who are the chairmen and how the future of the war in Iraq is going to be debated.  The independent says he‘s keeping open the possibility of switching party loyalty while seeming to ask, Et tu, Dodd?  Snubbed by his party and left for dead, Joe Lieberman is back on the top in Washington, and the implications are explosive as it‘s payback time.

To discuss the return of the political dead, we have Michael Crowley -

he‘s the senior editor from “The New Republic”—A.B. Stoddard from “The Hill” and MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.

Michael Crowley, let me start with you.  “The New York Times” today says Joe Lieberman is keeping open all options.  That means he does decide the fate of every Senate chairman.  and just by reading his quotes, watching him on “Meet the Press,” it seems like he‘s enjoying this moment of revenge.

MICHAEL CROWLEY, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”:  Yes, Joe, I think that‘s what it is right now.  He‘s getting a little bit of revenge by kind of playing with the yo-yo of people‘s emotions.  I don‘t think he would actually go through with it, but I do think that he is, you know, bitter and angry about what happened to him in Connecticut, in the primary with Ned Lamont and the challenge that was thrown against him and the ferocity of...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  But if you‘re Harry Reid, though, you‘ve got to be very concerned that this guy tells “Meet the Press‘s” Tim Russert that he‘s keeping open all options.  When “The New York Times” talks about it, he says, Well, I hope I don‘t have to bring up this threat every time a major issue comes up.  I mean, again, I mean, after all, this guy got most of his votes from Republicans and independents.  Democrats have to be concerned.

CROWLEY:  That‘s right.  I mean, it‘s got to give them palpitations.  He could turn the town upside down in one fell swoop.  But I‘ll doubt he‘ll do it.  One reason, Joe, is that he campaigned saying pretty explicitly that he was going to stick with the Democrats.  I really think that it would be kind of a betrayal of the voters in Connecticut for him to switch now.  I mean, he would really become just an absolute pariah.  I just can‘t imagine the vitriol that people would direct to him.

And also, you know, if you look at the battleground for the next election in 2008, it‘s very promising for Democrats.  There‘s a great chance Democrats are going to pick up seats.  So he could sort of join the losing team, you know, at the exactly wrong moment.  I mean, if he...

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY:  ... Republican side and they lost the majority, he would be

in—just doomed.  His career would be over

SCARBOROUGH:  He would be like Mr. Jeffords, who quit the Republican Party in 2001, became a Democrat, put the Democrats in charge for about a year, and then Republicans took over.

CROWLEY:  Oopsie-daisy, yes.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  Hey Pat, let me show you this clip from “Meet the Press.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM RUSSERT, “MEET THE PRESS”:  Jim Jeffords of Vermont crossed over and joined the Democrats, and they gave him his committee chairmanship.

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT:  Yes.  Yes.

RUSSERT:  You‘re not ruling that out at some future time.

LIEBERMAN:  I‘m not ruling it out, but I hope I don‘t get to that point.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat, he‘s bitter.  And Lieberman says he hopes he doesn‘t have to bring this threat up on every issue.  He is swinging the biggest hammer in D.C. right now, isn‘t he.

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, he sure is.  I mean, he can get what he wants because he controls the Democratic majority.  If Joe walks, the Democratic majority is gone.  At the same time, this is a one-shot pistol, Joe.  If you make that move, you make it forever.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you call it a pistol, though.  It‘s a canon.  This guy...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Let me tell you something.  A great example today.  So we have hearings on Iraq and everybody‘s looking at Carl Levin, saying, Oh, he‘s going to be running Congress—Congress‘s approach to the Armed Services Committee.  Only if Joe Lieberman allows him to.

BUCHANAN:  Well, that‘s exactly right.  Look, Joe could walk across that aisle and he could take down the Democratic majority.  But as Michael said, then you bet your whole life and career.  You‘d have recall petitions in Connecticut for the recall of Joe Lieberman.  He‘s cast his lot with the Republican Party.  He can‘t go back.  They‘ll give him with what he wants, but he‘s in a party that considers him a turncoat, and the Democrats would consider him a turncoat.  I think that‘s one of these threats, Joe, that‘s better off left as a threat and not executed.

SCARBOROUGH:  We will see.  A.B. Stoddard, in the end, he got more votes from Republicans and independents.

A.B. STODDARD, “THE HILL”:  He sure did.

SCARBOROUGH:  Democrats deserted him.  He feels like he was betrayed by his own party.  Again, it‘s all got to be enough to make incoming chairmen like Hillary Clinton and Ted Kennedy very nervous, right?

STODDARD:  Hillary Clinton is glad that she was the last Democrat to do something for Ned Lamont right now.

SCARBOROUGH:  Gosh.

STODDARD:  She actually held a fundraiser for him in late October.  But they pretty much abandoned Ned Lamont once they figured out Lieberman was going to win.

I agree with Pat and Michael.  I don‘t think that, in his heart, Joe Lieberman could or would do this.  It is true that just shrewdly looking at the political landscape in terms of 21 Republicans being up next time—and as Pat says, you do it once, you can‘t take it back—I mean, just looking at it that way, making that calculation, it‘d be a mistake.

But You know, this is a man who was almost the vice president of the United States as a Democrat.  I think he—you know, he spent his career as a Democrat, and I think in his heart of hearts, he‘s a good man, a principled man.  I can‘t imagine him actually wanting to switch parties.  But he has earned the right to make everybody uncomfortable.

SCARBOROUGH:  He certainly has.  And what‘s so interesting in this case is you‘ve got Joe Lieberman angry at the Democratic majority, the power base.  You‘ve got people on the far left angry with the Democrat majority because they feel like they—people like Clinton and others—

Bill Clinton—abandoned Ned Lamont once the polls started breaking against him.

Now, speaking of near death experiences, Trent Lott is back in power after he said George Bush abandoned him in his time of need.  In his book, Lott wrote about a phone call he had with the president after he agreed to leave his post as leader back in 2002.  Is this bad news—this is what it said.  It said, “He said he felt bad about rumors that the administration was undermining me and was proud of how I handled my decision to surrender my office,” Lott writes.  “I will always remember my response clearly.  Thank you, Mr. President, but the rumors did hurt me and you didn‘t help me when you could have.”

Pat Buchanan, you remember how this went down.

BUCHANAN:  I sure do.

SCARBOROUGH:  George Bush stabbed Trent Lott in the back, as did the White House operation.  Is it bad news for the president?

BUCHANAN:  It is bad news for the president if he finds he wants something badly and he‘s got to depend on Trent Lott to help him out, I‘ll tell you!  Listen, Trent Lott is justifiably—he‘s a bitter man about what was done to him, and I would be bitter, too.  The president of the United States did something unnecessary.  He undercut this fellow when he was in trouble for no good reason at all.  He made a flub, and you should be at your friend‘s side in those kinds of problems.  And the president instead pandered to the media, pandered to all the folks that said, Well, he‘s just a Southern Republican, you know how they are.

And I think Trent Lott is justifiably bitter.  He‘s done a great job.  He‘s worked hard.  He‘s got this back.  But if I were talking to him tonight, I would say, Look, Trent, you won this battle, and they did you wrong.  The best thing you can do is do right and be straight and don‘t go for payback.

SCARBOROUGH:  Let me ask you, Michael Crowley, about the Democrats.  How are they going to play this?  Are they going to go back to 2002, take Lott‘s words and say, Look what the Republican Party still is four years later?

CROWLEY:  I don‘t know if they‘re actually going to try go after him and kind of run a campaign.  But I just do think it‘s funny that here you have a Republican Party that was repudiated on election day, they got a thumping.  What do they want to do?  You know, fresh start, clean slate, you know, win back the trust of the American people.  So you reach back and get the guy who was deposed as Senate leader, you know, three or four years ago.  I mean, it just—it just doesn‘t suggest that they‘re getting back on track.

SCARBOROUGH:  But look how—but Michael, look how badly his successor handled things over the next four years.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  I mean, this is sort of like one of those, in case of emergencies, break the glass and pull out the guy who‘s better at back room deals than anybody, right, Michael?

STODDARD:  That‘s right.

CROWLEY:  I guess, Joe.  But you know, he wasn‘t actually all that great.  I mean, remember when Tom Daschle was still up there, before they knocked him off.  The Daschle people used to crow about how they were constantly outmaneuvering Lott.

I mean, the one thing that I can Lott doing to get a little bit of revenge, actually, is because Republicans—the Democrats have such a narrow majority, Republicans have an opportunity to drive Harry Reid crazy.  And I do think Lott—yes, he knows how the Senate works pretty well, so he might—he might inflict some wounds.  But I will say Democrats always felt like they were getting the best of him when the roles were reversed.  So I don‘t know that they‘re so worried.

SCARBOROUGH:  And I‘ll tell you what, in the Senate, all Trent Lott has to do is count to 41, and he can stop anything Harry Reid wants.  Now, A.B., in calmer waters, don‘t you think the Republicans would have played it safe and maybe gone with Lamar Alexander, but since they‘re in trouble right now, they seem to be saying, We need our best political pros, so damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead, let‘s get Lott back out here?

STODDARD:  I would have been so shocked if they didn‘t.  Lamar Alexander—he chose as a sort of campaign message, I am the fresh face.  I don‘t have higher ambitions.  I just want to help everybody.  I want to help the party, want to help us, you know, be the best—do the best job we can right now.  And that was a compelling message in light of the election results, but what you really need is, you need Trent Lott if you‘re in the Senate with that slim margin.  Trent Lott has whipped the Senate.  Trent Lott has run the Senate.  Trent Lott has whipped the House.  Trent Lott knows how to run that game better than anybody.

And it really doesn‘t matter if he has this sort of baggage from 2002 because Trent Lott, you know, is unlikely to rise to higher office or national office in light of that.  It‘s a big political liability, I think, but it‘s not for being the whip in the Senate.  He‘s a fighter.  It‘s a great day for Trent Lott, a great day for Mitch McConnell.  It is a great day for John McCain, who is his former nemesis and now his very good friend, who is obviously right now the frontrunner in the presidential race on the Republican side.  It‘s a bad day for George Bush, bad day for Harry Reid.

SCARBOROUGH:  Really bad day for George Bush and bad day for Harry Reid.  And that‘s right, McCain did stand by him.  Pat Buchanan, I want to you talk briefly about this in man, though, Trent Lott.  In 2002, back when I was a practicing attorney after I got out of Congress, I went on “Hardball” and I predicted the first day that he was as good as gone because the White House was throwing him overboard and said some pretty tough things about Trent Lott.  And yet over the next four years, he remained gracious to me.  He remained gracious to people on Capitol Hill.

Really is a remarkable story about a guy who got kicked out, looked like his political career was over, but because of his graciousness and because he was able to swallow his pride and take a back seat and do a lot of things quietly behind the scenes, he now is the number two Republican in Washington.

BUCHANAN:  Yes, but you should not underestimate the hurt that Trent Lott felt...

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, he‘s angry, but he was able to work through it, right?

BUCHANAN:  He wasn‘t just angry, this was hurt.  And he was in there -

and there was a real question whether he was going to run again.  I mean, it‘s a terrible thing, Joe, to see his buddies, the guys he led up in the Senate, many of them taking a hike on him, and the neocons exulting in the fact that he was going down.  The president of the United States doing what he did and the White House doing what they did, pandering to the media, and the establishment showing how great they are on Civil Rights because they cut him for some little joke.  And I admire Trent Lott for his persistence and for sticking with it and for coming back and for winning.

And I would tell him some advice I would have given the former president, Richard Nixon.  Now that you‘ve won, forget all the other stuff.  Look ahead.  And I think he will and I hope he will.  And I think he‘ll be very good.  A.B.‘s exactly right.  This guy knows how to run the trains on time in there and run a good operation.  Republicans need that.  I don‘t think it‘s as a big a political battle or a—you know, a battle in the media as much as this Murtha fight, which is really big stuff in the House.

SCARBOROUGH:  Which, of course, is what we‘re going to be talking about next.  And it is getting ugly in the House, with the Democrats—with Democrats cannibalizing one another.  A.B. Stoddard, Pat Buchanan, Michael Crowley, thanks for being with us.  Hey, Michael, stick around because coming up next: anti-war hero John Murtha says he‘s being Swiftboated by his own party.  Will he overcome those corruption charges to lead Democrats in their fight to bring the troops home, or will he be—or will the race be an embarrassment for the next Speaker, Nancy Pelosi?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN MURTHA ®, PENNSYLVANIA:  I expect to be in the (DELETED) leadership of the House, and you have anything said against you, then you got a problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Then: Is Fox News really fair and balanced?  A new memo leaked from Fox has critics crying foul.  We‘re going to talk about the fight over Fox News next.  And later: O.J. Simpson doesn‘t say, I did it, in a new book, but he comes close.  His new book, “If I Did It, Here‘s How It Happened,” is enraging family members and prosecutors and reopening wounds 10 years later.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Democratic anti-war hero John Murtha is angry, angry at his own party, claiming that his rivals are Swiftboating him for bringing up corruption charges that date back over a quarter century.  Critics are raising questions about Murtha‘s relationships with lobbyists and his role in what may have been the biggest corruption takedown on Capitol Hill, Abscam.  With corruption as a top issue in last week‘s election, according to the NBC poll, the war over Murtha is not the way Nancy Pelosi wanted to spend her first week in the national spotlight.

NBC‘s senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LISA MYERS, NBC SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  John Murtha is a decorated Marine veteran from Pennsylvania who has led the Democratic charge to force the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq.  Over the years, he has also drawn criticism for allegedly cozy relationships with lobbyists and backroom deals.

FRED WERTHEIMER, ETHICS REFORM ADVOCATE:  Representative Murtha has

basically been on the wrong side of public integrity issues during his

career

MYERS:  Critics claim Murtha has amassed power in part by handing out taxpayer money to special interests and by rewarding defense lobbyists who gave him big campaign contributions.  He also helped secure $4 million for a company after it hired his brother as a lobbyist.

Then there is this video from an FBI sting in 1980, known as Abscam, one of the worst corruption scandals in history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Each packet contains $10,000 in $100 bills.

MYERS:  An undercover FBI agent offers a $50,000 bribe to Congressman Murtha, who is sitting on the right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I got—I went out, I got the $50,000, OK?  From what you‘re telling me, OK, you‘re telling me that that‘s not what you—you know, that‘s not what you—you know, that‘s not what you...

REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA:  I‘m not interested.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK.

MYERS:  Murtha turns down the money, but then seems to leave the door open.

MURTHA:  I‘m not interested.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK.

MURTHA:  At this point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK.

MURTHA:  You know, we do business for a while, maybe I‘ll be interested, maybe I won‘t, you know?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK.

MYERS:  Murtha also talks about his need to be cautious because of his ambitions.

MURTHA:  I expect to be in the (DELETED) leadership of the House, and you have anything said against you, then you got a problem.

MYERS:  Supports point out that was 26 years ago.

REP. MARTIN MEEHAN (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  Jack Murtha was never charged with anything, and I think it‘s irresponsible and indefensible to at the last minute bring something like this up 36 hours before the Democratic caucus votes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  But that‘s exactly what the Democratic Party‘s doing—at least some in the Democratic Party.  That was NBC‘s senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers reporting.

Back with us now, Michael Crowley.  Michael, as you saw by that NBC poll, cleaning up a corrupt Congress was the top issue in 2006.  So why did Nancy Pelosi get out front with a congressman who‘s been accused of all of these ethical lapses?

CROWLEY:  Well, it doesn‘t seem to make much sense.  I mean, the one thing people need to understand is that Pelosi and Murtha go way back, that he was really at her side as she rose up in the Congress.  I believe he managed one of her early leadership campaigns.  So she obviously feels a debt of loyalty to him.  Pelosi, I think, also, in her heart is totally appalled by the war in Iraq and was thrilled by the way Murtha was able to kind of change the debate in this town about it, and I think in some ways sort of feels like he should be rewarded for that, that he deserves a place in the leadership.

SCARBOROUGH:  But Michael, as you know, though, again, this is the first really major decision she‘s made.  By doing it, she appears to be going against, again, what the top issue was last week in the election.  It just doesn‘t seem—it‘s certainly not the safe play, is it.

CROWLEY:  No.  I mean, I think she probably didn‘t realize how big this was going to blow up.  It‘s totally blown up in her face.  It‘s been a terrible weeks for House Democrats as a result of this.  And I think she may have just underestimated how much of an appetite there was to talk about this.  You know, she may not have seen that video.  That video is incredibly powerful.  And as we know, when you have sort of visual images, they really drive something home much more than—I mean, there have been terrible stories about Murtha in the newspaper for a long time, and his ties to lobbyists.  But nothing really kind of slams it home the way it does seeing him across from a guy who‘s literally got wads of bills.  I mean, it‘s horrifying.  And you...

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, of course.  Even if that guy looks like Borat...

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... with the fake mustache.  But yes, of course, it is -

nice, nice!

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  This is—he‘s shoving, though, the cash in his pockets, and there‘s—they took out Republicans and Democrats alike.  But it‘s not just that.  I mean, of course, Nancy Pelosi‘s put an ethics bill out there that he helped defeat.  But now he‘s saying he‘s going to support it.  But this is what he calls her ethics reform bill that‘s supposed to clean up Congress.  Quote, “Total crap.  Even though I think it‘s total crap, I‘ll vote for it and pass it because that‘s what Nancy wants.”  I mean, again, another faux pas suicide.  You know, these Democrats are starting to sound a lot like Tom DeLay Republicans.  How‘s it happening?

CROWLEY:  Well, they may sound that way.  I won‘t go quite that far. 

I think that...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, no, no, no, no.  I‘m just saying a lot of misfires.  And again...

CROWLEY:  Yes, a lot of misfires.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... I‘m not saying that Jack Murtha‘s corrupt at all, but he certainly plays the K Street game better than any Democrat out there.

CROWLEY:  No, and that‘s exactly why this is a debacle, Joe, because Democrats came in.  They threw the bums out.  They promised to clean up the House, make reform their top priority.  And suddenly—you know, if somebody who‘s kind of—they follow the elections but they‘re kind of sick of politics and they‘re following from a distance, they may have a vague sense that the Democrats are in trouble for corruption, and you know, they‘re bad guys, too.  And that‘s a fiasco.

And I think it‘s really troubling also that Murtha, you know, is calling this reform bill crap, that he doesn‘t really seem to care about this.  His heart‘s not in it.  So you know, he‘s saying, I‘ll just go along with Pelosi‘s agenda, whatever she wants, so I can get up in the leadership.

But in his heart, he doesn‘t think that these fundamental problems in the institution that the Abramoff scandal‘s exposed—the Democrats were not—are not as bad as the Republicans, but the Abramoff scandal did expose fundamental systemic problems in the institution that have to do with the relationship between lobbyists and members of Congress.

SCARBOROUGH:  Right.

CROWLEY:  He doesn‘t seem to care about that, and I think that‘s a big problem.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, and again, it‘s legal, but he exploits it as well anybody else.  Hey, Michael Crowley, thanks a lot.

And it leaves me with the question, Does Nancy Pelosi lose if Murtha goes down and her man goes down, or does Nancy Pelosi lose if he actually wins and then there‘s news story after news story after news story in “The Washington Post” and “The Wall Street Journal” every day for the next three months?

Now, coming up: Fox News sends out a memo mining for proof that terrorists support Democrats.  Critics are claiming it‘s more proof that Fox News is biased, but we‘ll report and let you decide.

Then up next on “Must See S.C.”: Now that the mid-terms are done, it‘s time for the TV movie.  So who‘s playing who?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, wake up Aunt Ethel, it‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” some video you got to see.  Now, fist up, this week President Bush met with leaders of the Democratic Party to try to bring the two parties together.  Jon Stewart looks at why it may be an uphill battle.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  Have you noticed a change in the president‘s demeanor?

JOHN OLIVER, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  Yes, Jon.  He‘s definitely more open, sending signals he‘s more willing to compromise.  On Friday, he and the vice president wore blue ties to their meetings with Democrat leaders.  I mean, he altered his neckwear, Jon.  Unbelievable!  Do you know what they used to wear to those meetings?  Take a look at that, Jon.  Those are hand-made silk from Persia, triple weave!  They‘re not like those machine-made “Go (DELETED) Yourself” ties.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s kind of hard, you know, with the tie button (ph). 

And finally, they say Washington is Hollywood for ugly people, and I agree. 

I was there, after all.  But...

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Quit laughing!  It‘s funny because it‘s true.  But now Conan O‘Brien has the scoop on a new movie based on the mid-term elections.  So who is playing who?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONAN O‘BRIEN, “LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O‘BRIEN”:  The winner in Montana‘s Senate race, Jon Tester, will be played by Biff from “Back to the Future.”  Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be played by Martin Short.  I‘m very excited to see how that works out.  Defeated Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum will be played by Woody from “Toy Story.”  New York senior senator Chuck Schumer will be played by Grandpa Munster.  Donald Rumsfeld will be played by Skeletor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, it‘s funny, I saw that picture of Martin Short.  I don‘t know if you know it, but I had my Broadway debut today.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  No, seriously.  Would you like me to dance?  We‘ll do it in the break.

Coming up next: O.J. Simpson‘s set to tell how his ex-wife and friend were murdered.  It‘s all hypothetical, of course.  And later, proof of a Fox News bias.  We‘re going to show you their internal memo and what it says about the Democrats‘ victory last week and how it may have cheered on insurgents.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s the confession many have been waiting for.  The O.J. tells us how he killed his ex-wife and Ron Goldman, only saying—I don‘t know—it‘s just so damn confusing.  I‘ll tell you about it later on.  And it‘s just sleazy and obviously has the family very upset, talking about that later on tonight. 

But welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  We‘re going to be talking about those stories in minutes. 

But first, Memogate hits FOX News Channel.  Critics are howling tonight after “The Huffington Post” Web site obtained this internal memo written by FOX News Vice President John Moody. 

Now, part of the memo says, quote, “Let‘s be on the lookout for any statements from the Iraqi insurgents who must be thrilled at the prospect of a Democratic-controlled Congress.”

We called FOX News today to get their reaction to the leaked memo.  They said in a statement, quote, “FOX News Senior Vice President John Moody stands by his editorial note.”

Is this the smoking gun of right-wing bias that liberals have always known was there?  Here now is Matthew Felling.  He‘s director of the Center for Media and Public Affairs.  Rachel Sklar, she‘s the media for “The Huffington Post,” the Web site that obtained the FOX News memo.  And Bob Kohn, he‘s the author of the book, “Journalistic Fraud.” 

Let me start with you, Rachel.  You all broke this story.  Tell us all about the memo and what it means. 

RACHEL SKLAR, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM:  Well, essentially, it‘s a memo from the vice president of news for FOX News, and it‘s essentially talking points.  It‘s talking points saying that the FOX News team should stay focused that, even though the Democrats won the election, it‘s, quote, unquote, “not the end of the world,” and they should still focus on the fact that the war is still ongoing, and to keep a special lookout for any news reports that terrorists are rejoicing now that the Democrats are in power.

SCARBOROUGH:  How did you get the memo? 

SKLAR:  Oh, I‘m not going to tell you that.

SCARBOROUGH:  You can‘t reveal the source? 

SKLAR:  Of course not.  Our crack news team is honest.

SCARBOROUGH:  Are there more to come, more memos to come? 

SKLAR:  Like I said, our crack news team is always on the job. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  So, you know, comedians and pundits obviously love taking a shot at FOX News.  Here‘s a clip from “The Daily Show” that goes after FOX‘s not-so-liberal use of the question mark. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, HOST, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  Then there‘s FOX News.  It uses its question marks in a more focused way, asking queries, “Have Dems Forgotten the Lessons of 9/11?”  It‘s just a question.  Now, technically that‘s not really a question mark at the end of that. 

It‘s a similar punctuation symbol known as the “Cavuto.”  It‘s named for the “journalist?” who pioneered its use, in sentences like, “Why is Russia Doing Business with Nations that Hate America?”  “Why is America More Concerned About the Economy than Terror?”  “Media Preaching Hate in the Mideast?”  “Is the Liberal Media Helping to Fuel Terror?” 

Cavuto‘s not saying these things.  He‘s just asking, like, “Is Your Mother a Whore?” 

By the way, I do not want to give you the impression that Cavuto is biased.  He‘s not.  He doesn‘t just use the question mark on Democrats, but Republicans, too.  Like, “Number One President on Mideast Matters, George W. Bush?”  Or, “The Best President?”  I know the answer to that one. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Matthew Felling, some would say that FOX News really became parodies of themselves with this memo.  Talk about it and what it means. 

MATTHEW FELLING, THE CENTER FOR MEDIA AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS:  Oh, sure thing.  Well, greetings from Hollywood for ugly people, by the way, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, you and I fit in, baby. 

FELLING:  Yes, well, for years I have looked at fair and balanced, the big credo at FOX News Channel.  And it reminds me of that scene in “The Blues Brothers” where they walk into the saloon and they say, “What kind of music do you play?”  And the woman says, “We play both kinds.  We play country and western.”  Well, at FOX, they‘ll give it to you Republican, and they‘ll give it to you conservative, so you get a full balanced diet. 

And I thought it was very interesting today that this memo came out on the very same day that Al-Jazeera English comes out, and they had FOX News Channel on the air today just pillorying the idea that Al-Jazeera would dare have an English-language network, because they‘re pushing propaganda.  And propaganda, as far as I‘m concerned, is information that‘s directed at advancing an agenda, which is exactly what this note from Moody is telling people to go out and look for.

When he is saying, “Hey, be on the lookout, because we really would love a story about how the terrorists are dancing in the streets because the Democrats won,” that‘s not journalism.  It‘s advocacy and activism.  And it‘s really uncomfortable.  And it just confirms a lot of peoples‘ suspicions. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Bob Kohn, is that a fair assessment? 

BOB KOHN, AUTHOR:  I think that this whole segment has been not fair and balanced.  I mean, first of all, I think we have to agree that FOX News is the balance, OK?  But I don‘t—because the mainstream media...

SKLAR:  I‘m not going to agree with that, just so you know.

KOHN:  Well, I think we all have—they are the balance.  They‘re providing the balance.  The mainstream media has been liberal for years, and we‘ve proven that, OK?

(CROSSTALK)

FELLING:  OK, but then, Bob, they‘re not, by definition, “fair” then.

KOHN:  But the fact of the matter is that FOX News, most of its programming is news analysis and commentary.  Most of their programs let their stars, let the O‘Reilly or Hannity and Colmes, express their views, and they actually give both sides.  They very rarely distort the news when they do have news segments. 

And I don‘t think—I think you‘re taking this out of context.  That very same memo that you had on the screen, you didn‘t quote the part where they were dissing Rumsfeld, OK?  And what you just saw on the daily report I think was pretty fair and balanced.  I think you saw Cavuto going after the Republicans just as much in those questions that he was asking. 

I think FOX News is a lot more fair and balanced than the “New York Times.”  There‘s no question about it.

FELLING:  Well, I hate to be a data dork, a data seamhead here, but there was a study in 2004 by PIPA, and they did a study where they asked people what they were aware of, with regards to the war on terror.  “Have we found weapons on mass destruction?  Was Saddam Hussein affiliated with 9/11?”  And the people who watched FOX News Channel—they broke it down by where they got their news—the people who watched FOX News Channel scored worst out of all of the people who tune into the news. 

So it‘s not just that they have an agenda.  It‘s not that they‘re balancing out the counterweights of the “liberal media,” quote, unquote, but it‘s also that they‘re providing a disservice in the conservative agenda. 

KOHN:  No, no, they‘re providing—well, they‘re providing news analysis and commentary that, yes, is right-leaning.  For the most part, it is.  I‘ll agree with that.

SKLAR:  We can agree on that.

KOHN:  We will agree.  That‘s news analysis and commentary.  You know what it is, when O‘Reilly gets on and expresses opinion, it‘s his opinion, all right?  When you‘re reading the front page of the “New York Times,” you don‘t expect opinion, but that‘s exactly what you‘re getting all the time...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, let‘s look at another excerpt from that internal memo from FOX News.  Moody says this, quote, “The elections and Rumsfeld‘s resignations were a major event, but not the end of the world.  The war on terror goes on without interruption.  Just because Dems won, the war on terror isn‘t over.”

What‘s wrong with that?  Does that sound like it‘s a sort of a pep talk?  I‘m bringing Rachel in. 

SKLAR:  There‘s nothing wrong with that, per se.  There‘s nothing wrong with saying—with noting that the war on terror is ongoing.  It is.  I think it‘s an interesting choice of words to say that the Democrats won, it‘s not the end of the world.  That seems to put forth a pretty strong point of view. 

But I think that what it‘s saying is it‘s encouraging the focus to go in a certain area.  And it‘s fine if it belongs in that area, if events warrant it.  But that should be a function of responding to events; that should not be a function of going into it with a specific agenda. 

KOHN:  Come on.

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold it, Bob.  I‘ll go to you in a second, but critics of FOX News have been up in arms, of course, and they were up in arms when it was revealed that Vice President Dick Cheney demanded the TV in his hotel room be tuned into FOX News.  Here‘s “The Daily Show” and how they handled that one. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART:  Here‘s the detail that I found most interesting:  All television sets must be tuned to FOX News.  Wow!  Wow!  Because, God forbid, he walks into a hotel room and the TV is on another channel and he finds out what a (bleep) job he‘s been doing. 

(APPLAUSE)

You know, turn on MSNBC, you know, he‘s got it to avoid CNN, MSNBC.  He‘s also got to avoid—Animal Planet I think is doing stories about that now.  And there was one other detail on the bottom of the rider.  It was handwritten.  It was somewhat cryptic.  He also requests a rifle, ammo, and an old man‘s face. 

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  That is awful.  Rachel, what‘s wrong with Dick Cheney liking to watch FOX News? 

SKLAR:  Again, nothing wrong with it.  He‘s certainly open to choose

what he wants, but it is a clear reflection—actually, that‘s a good word

it‘s a clear reflection of what Cheney wants to see.  He‘s looking at FOX News, and he‘s seeing beamed back at him his policies and what his administration is doing. 

And I think that is reflective of this kind of editorial directive.  And this isn‘t the first time that Moody has sent these out.  I mean, he has sent out very strongly editorialized directives to the FOX News team on all manners of subjects.

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, Bob Kohn, you and I both agree on one thing tonight, and that is that certainly, over the past 30, 40, 50 years, networks have all leaned to the left.  They‘re coming a lot more down the middle of late, in large part because of FOX News.  It really has had a corrective effect and, I think, kept a lot of other news networks on their toes to make sure they are more down the middle. 

However, don‘t you think that sending out these type of memos at the beginning of the day smacks more of a political campaign than, say, a news network? 

KOHN:  Look, you know what happens in newsrooms.  At the “New York Times,” the editor says, “Here‘s what stories I think you should be going after during the day.”  That‘s all that happened at this particular juncture. 

Also, all of the people—there‘s no equivalent at FOX News of the editorial page of the “New York Times.”  They have their commentators.  You know, O‘Reilly can say what he wants.  Hannity can say what he wants.  Colmes can say what he wants.  But there‘s no—you know, Ailes doesn‘t come on and say, “Here is FOX News‘ opinion today.” 

But in the “New York Times,” there‘s the editorial page giving its opinion.  All of its reporters read that.  Don‘t they get a list of talking points for what news they should be going after each day? 

I don‘t think this is too much different.  And, frankly, I think this is being taken out of context.  I don‘t think it‘s really strange to ask your news staff, “Hey, the Democrats won.  They‘re trying to pull out of Iraq.  The insurgents want us to pull out of Iraq.  Let‘s see if there‘s any statements there made by the insurgents.”  What‘s the big deal?

FELLING:  But, Bob, it‘s a little bit different.  In this memo, it seems like John Moody is saying, “Scour the Earth and find the story that will support our agenda.”

KOHN:  No. 

(CROSSTALK) 

KOHN:  Where does it say that, “scour the earth”? 

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘re going to have to go, but they actually didn‘t have to scour the Earth.  All they had to do was look on Reuters report that actually wasn‘t about the insurgents in Iraq, but it certainly did say that the head mullah in Iran was celebrating the fact that the Republicans lost. 

KOHN:  Yes, be on the lockout.  That‘s all he says.

SCARBOROUGH:  Be on the lookout, all right.

KOHN:  Big deal.

SCARBOROUGH:  Matthew Felling, Bob Kohn, Rachel Sklar, great to have you in studio.  Thanks for being with us. 

When we return, the O.J. confession. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  If you thought you heard the last of O.J. Simpson, well,

you should be so lucky.  Now this guy‘s going public to speculate how he

would have murdered his ex-wife and friend if—and he‘s not admitting it

but if he had done the crime.  Here‘s NBC‘s George Lewis.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE LEWIS, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Twelve years ago, the nation was transfixed by O.J. Simpson. 

O.J. SIMPSON, ACCUSED OF MURDER OF WIFE AND FRIEND:  I did not, could not, and would not have committed this crime.

LEWIS:  His murder trial became a TV soap opera, with plenty of surprise twists. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  ... not guilty of the crime of murder...

LEWIS:  After the criminal jury set him free, a civil jury found him responsible for the deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole, and her friend, Ron Goldman, and ordered Simpson to pay $33 million to their families.  Throughout it all, he maintained his innocence. 

Now, Simpson is stirring things up once again with a book and a TV special provocatively titled, “If I Did It, Here‘s How it Happened.”  He says it‘s fiction, but his publisher, Judith Regan, tells the Associated Press, “I consider it a confession.”  This, as the promotional campaign goes into high gear. 

SIMPSON:  I don‘t think any two people could be murdered without everybody been covered in blood. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  O.J. Simpson, “If I Did It, Here‘s How it Happened.”

SIMPSON:  I can‘t do no more of this. 

LEWIS:  FOX TV picked up the Simpson special after NBC turned it down.  The sister of murder victim Nicole Brown Simpson, Denise Brown, released a statement saying, “It‘s unfortunate that Simpson has decided to awaken a nightmare.  We regret that Nicole‘s children, Sydney and Justin, will be exposed to Simpson‘s inexplicable behavior.” 

The family of the other murder victim, Ron Goldman, let their lawyer do the talking.

JONATHAN POLLACK, GOLDMAN FAMILY ATTORNEY:  O.J. Simpson is a killer, and killers are not supposed to be glorified by society. 

LEWIS:  The Goldmans say they‘ll do everything they can to prevent Simpson from making money from the book or the TV special. 

George Lewis, NBC News, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Here now is editor-at-large for “Star” magazine, Jill Dobson.  Jill, how low can this guy go?  I mean, this isn‘t the first time he‘s done something like this, right?

JILL DOBSON, “STAR” MAGAZINE:  Right, that‘s the amazing thing.  Not too many people know but he did a “Candid Camera” type of show called “Juiced,” where he did different pranks and tricks.  And one of them was the white Bronco that we just saw in the taped piece.  He was selling a Bronco that looked just like it and said, “This is a fast getaway car, and here‘s the bloodstain,” and just totally tasteless. 

I thought that was as bad as he could go, but now this is much worse.  He‘s basically confessing to the crime but phrasing it with air quotes and calling it a hypothetical and saying, “If I did it, here‘s what would have happened.  I would have been covered in blood, looking at the bodies of Nicole and Ron,” and I can‘t even imagine what the families of the two victims are going through.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, and the kids, too.  It‘s just got to be Hell on Earth for them.  Talk about—I would guess whoever‘s publishing this book has to be coming under intense scrutiny, right?

DOBSON:  Well, Judith Regan is publishing it, and she knows how to get a good deal.  And she‘s actually the one interviewing him for the special that will air on FOX later this month, so she knows that she‘s going to sell a lot of books, get a lot of attention.  And I‘m not sure that I can blame her for wanting to make—for her, it‘s a good business deal, but I don‘t understand why he would want to do this.  I mean, yes, he‘s reportedly getting $3.5 million, but he also had—he lost the civil lawsuit brought by Ron Goldman‘s family, so that money could potentially go to the victims. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, and he owes like 10 times that amount, I guess, with the verdict.  Well, what about FOX News?  Is this a risk for them?  Or not FOX News.  I‘m sorry.  FOX network, is this a risk for them? 

DOBSON:  I think it‘s going to be a win for them.  Everyone watched that car chase, and everyone tuned in for it.  We all watched the entire trial, including the verdict.  I remember exactly where I was when it came out, and I‘m sure everyone else does.  And people will probably tune in. 

We all want to know what really happened, and a lot of people have believed all along that O.J. was guilty, and now we have what appears to be a “confession,” in air quotes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And I remember I was flying on a plane out of Washington.  The pilot came on announcement.  The entire plane booed for about five minutes.

Hey, stay with us.  “Hollyweird” is coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, tell your plastic surgeon more Botox, because it‘s time for “Hollyweird.”

First up, Tyra Banks, the former model, stripped down to her underwear for today‘s show, not a shock since she used to work for Victoria‘s Secret, but this time she had the audience look on and join her.  Take a look. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TYRA BANKS, TALK SHOW HOST:  On the count of one, two, three, I want you to lose those under-the-canopy robes right now.  Freedom underwear, everybody!

(APPLAUSE)

Free it, free it, free it, free it, free it, free it, free it, free it!

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

SCARBOROUGH:  God, what are they doing?  With us, Jill Dobson.  And here‘s “Life and Style Weekly‘s” editor-at-large, Dawn Yanek.  There‘s something just so terribly wrong with that.  Do people watch this show? 

DOBSON:  I think that that‘s part of the problem, is Tyra is trying to get higher ratings.  Of course, this is sweeps time, and she figures, “Hey, a bunch of girls with their clothes off, what would be more alluring?”  But, of course, her audience is mainly women, so... 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, but, you see, OK, I see the dude out there, OK? 

Dawn, it‘s just freaking me out here. 

DAWN YANEK, “LIFE AND STYLE”:  You know, everybody is talking about it, and it‘s sweeps, and it‘s television.  And, if you notice, they‘re all kind of hot, so it probably kind of works. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, not a lot of overly obese people.  And also, of course, we‘ve got this Britney Spears story, where I hear that “Vogue” magazine blew off Britney Spears who wanted the baby to have the photo spread or something?  What‘s that about? 

YANEK:  Right, reportedly, “Vogue” did not want these Jayden James pictures, which Britney was basically giving away, reportedly.  I have to say, I kind of feel bad for little Jayden James.  This is so second-child syndrome.  You know, in a normal family, by the time you get to the second child, it‘s like, “Oh, we have enough photos.  We have enough home videos.”  This poor kid may need to end up in therapy because now “Vogue” does not want his picture. 

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s awful.  I mean, if you‘re a third child like me, you don‘t get a picture taken until you graduate from high school.  What about Britney?  I mean, she‘s in the news a lot more.  She‘s dumped K-Fed.  This is bad news for her, but she may be on the rebound, right? 

DOBSON:  Oh, yes.  I think Britney is posed for the comeback of her lifetime.  I‘ve been saying it for a while, and now she‘s lost the weight.  She looks fantastic.  She‘s lost the deadweight known as K-Fed, as well, and I think she‘s going to be just fine. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly.

All right, I‘ll tell somebody else who‘s going to be just fine is the new James Bond, Daniel Craig.  He got the royal treatment in London last night.  Queen Elizabeth attended the new Bond flick premiere, and, Dawn, this kind of looks pretty—this looks pretty interesting.  I mean, a little gritty, doesn‘t care how his martini is made.  Think it‘ll be a success, and then the queen loves him. 

YANEK:  Yes, absolutely.  I mean, Daniel Craig got a lot of criticism when he was first initially going to play Bond, but now reviews are in, and people are loving him.  They‘re loving the movie.  The queen, it seems like an odd mix, but, hey, the queen is a woman.  Even she has her little fantasies, and I guess James Bond is one of them.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, and James Bond—I mean, this series has been going on forever.  There really hasn‘t been—I‘m going to upset some people here—but there really hasn‘t been a real man in this part since Sean Connery. 

DOBSON:  Oh, wait a minute.

SCARBOROUGH:  There was a real man.  You know, you don‘t like that Remington Steele guy do you? 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  But there‘s a real toughness to this.  I mean, this Bond may actually work and move him in a new direction. 

DOBSON:  Yes, this guy‘s gritty.  He‘s not a pretty boy by any means.  He looks like he could take a hit to the face and maybe already has a couple times.  But he‘s in great shape and has a great body.  And we see those pictures of him coming out of the water, and I‘m sure the queen very much enjoyed the film. 

YANEK:  And he‘s a good actor. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Hot body, great actor. 

Madame Tussaud‘s Wax Museum in Las Vegas had planned to unveil a statue of Angelina Jolie being married to Brad Pitt, one of the statues, of course, but the wedding had to be called off after the real Pitt objected.  I mean, come on, Dawn.  I mean, is this guy taking himself too seriously these days? 

YANEK:  You know what?  Brad and Angelina a little bit concerned with their image right now.  I mean, they‘re off doing humanitarian missions in Africa.  So I suppose they can see where things can go wrong.  Just look at somebody like Tom Cruise, where his image has kind of spun out of control.  Of course, this is a little bit over the top, and, of course, you can just blame it on the publicist. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, and they just seem way, way too self-consumed with their image, right? 

DOBSON:  I think that they‘re trying to control their image.  They don‘t want to be like when Ben Affleck was with Jennifer Lopez and they were just out there everywhere and people got sick of them.  So then...

SCARBOROUGH:  But look how that story moved tickets for “Gigli.”

DOBSON:  Well, it didn‘t get them any Oscar nominations. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, OK, exactly. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thanks so much, Jill.  Thank you, Dawn. 

Greatly appreciate you be with us. 

And we appreciate you being with us.  That‘s all the time we have for tonight.  “UNDER SUSPICION” starts right now. 

END

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

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