updated 11/22/2006 10:00:56 AM ET 2006-11-22T15:00:56

Guests: Anne Kornblut, A.B. Stoddard, Steve McMahon, Frank Donatelli, Joe Mroszczyk, Arsalan Iftikhar

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Welcome to the show.  I‘m Tucker Carlson.

Has Hillary Clinton hit a pothole in the road to the White House?  Certainly she‘s the Democrats‘ frontrunner at this point, and she won a re-election to her Senate seat with 67 percent of the vote.  But at what cost?  Well, about $30 million, to be precise. 

Clinton‘s expenses ranged from $13,000 to flowers and $17,000 to valet parking, to $17 million for advertising and mailings.  All that to win a race that was never seriously contested. 

Hillary Clinton spent more than any other Senate candidate this year to do that.  The spending spree has left some of her donors annoyed and her presidential war chest seriously depleted.  Was it all a waste of money? 

Joining me now, the co-author of a piece on this very subject in this morning‘s “New York Times,” national political reporter Anne Kornblut. 

Anne, welcome.

ANNE KORNBLUT, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, “NEW YORK TIMES”:  Hi, Tucker.

CARLSON:  How could she spend this much money?  And more to the point, why would she, to win a race that she was never going to lose?

KORNBLUT:  Well, there have been two arguments here.  The defenders of the Clinton campaign say that a lot of the money was spent to build the infrastructure for a presidential campaign.  Building donor lists, putting together voter registration lists, and building up goodwill, building up a long list of all the people that she will need if she‘s going to run for president.  But there has been a lot of head-scratching, even from some of her staunchest supporters about, in particular, the $7 million that was—and it might turn out to be more than $7 million—that was spent on advertising in New York State. 

That‘s obviously not something that‘s going to transfer into a presidential race.  In addition to some of the sort of gold-plated events that she has held around the country raising money. 

CARLSON:  Well, you make the point in your piece this morning, written with Jeff Zeleny, a very smart piece, that a lot of her donors are people who have been tapped—almost tapped out.  I mean, there are people who were asked to contribute to both her husband‘s presidential campaign, to pay his legal bills, now to contribute to the Clinton foundation.  I mean, these people have given a lot of money to the Clintons and they‘re annoyed because it seems like Mrs. Clinton was not a terribly good steward of their money.

Is that a fair characterization?

KORNBLUT:  I think—I think people have been more than happy to give her money, but they have wanted to know, especially the people who were giving this year with the knowledge that it was really money that was going to be transferred into a 2008 campaign, that it was truly being used for the benefit of that 2008 campaign and not to—not, as I said, you know, pump up the advertising, not just to go to consultant fees, but to really lay that groundwork. 

At the same time, we‘ve spent the last year and a half listening the Clinton campaign say this is not about ‘08, this about ‘06, she‘s focused on winning ‘06.  That‘s been their line all this time.

So there‘s been a little bit of speaking outside of both sides of their mouths on this issue, and I think some of the donors want to know why does she have just about the same amount of money as Senator Evan Bayh, Senator John Kerry. 

CARLSON:  That is an excellent question.  One of the reasons this is a great piece is because it‘s filled with interesting details, little factlets (ph).  Among them $27,000 for valet parking.  That‘s a lot. 

KORNBLUT:  Right.  I‘m not sure it made it in to the piece at the end of the day, but we tallied up what you can do—Jeff and I went—went through all of the disbursements. 

You can just sit there with a calculator and see.  They‘re all public records.  You can see what was spent.  One of the other dollar amounts we found out was about $26,000 that was spent at Staples. 

Look, in their defense, a lot of this is legitimate.  People need office supplies.  She has a huge campaign staff.  Some 50 people have been on the payroll. 

And her events, obviously she‘s got a lot of very wealthy donors in cities like L.A. and New York, expensive places.  If these are donors, you don‘t want them parking on the street on 5th Avenue. 

CARLSON:  right.

KORNBLUT:  But when it all begins to add up, I think is—and when it looks at the end of the day like she‘s gotten down to $14 million, it has started to raise some questions. 

CARLSON:  Among the—or the one expenditure that you showed was not legitimate was, I think, about $37,000 to Maggie Williams, one of her closest aides, longtime aide and I think friend.  And it turned out that more than 30,000 of that was not meant to go to her. 

How do they lose track of 30 grand?  Why were they giving her that money? 

KORNBLUT:  It‘s something of a mystery.  They had—we—you know, we went to them with a long list of payments and said, you know, “What did this buy you?  What did that buy?” 

And one of the things we asked what was, what was this $37,000 and change payment to Maggie Williams, who was her chief of staff in the White House, obviously a very important consultant to her.  But we just wanted to know what—what kind of consulting was that.  And they came back and said, actually, no, we shouldn‘t have paid her that.  It was meant to be under $5,000 for travel reimbursements. 

Ms. Williams was not available when we tried to ask her about that.  But the fact—I guess the fact that we tried to point out is that that‘s a lot of money for anyone.  And to either lose track of it on the going out or the coming back in really struck us as—it‘s an indication of how much money they are dealing with. 

CARLSON:  Have you ever in your personal life given 30 grand to someone by accident? 

KORNBLUT:  Not yet.  I‘m hoping to some day. 

CARLSON:  So—I mean, put this in some perspective for us.  I mean, her candidacy seems inevitable.  She seems inevitably to be the frontrunner.  It seems like she could raise as much money as she wants, but is that true? 

I mean, is she going into this at a disadvantage because she doesn‘t—because she spent so much money already on this campaign?

KORNBLUT:  None of her supporters that I talked to said that she was at an actual disadvantage.  What they were concerned about is that she had an invulnerability before that they might—they worried might have come down somewhat.  And they had—the had hoped that she could go in with $20 million, $30 million.  Some people even threw out the number $50 million, which seems awfully high. 

They had hoped that she would be so far ahead of the pack that it would be intimidating to other candidates and it would give her clear frontrunner status without any openings for her opponents. 

CARLSON:  I bet she‘ll still have a lot of dough.

Anne Kornblut of “The New York Times”.

Thanks a lot.

KORNBLUT:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  Great piece.

We turn now to another headache for the Democrats: soon-to-be Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi‘s ongoing feud with members of her own party, the Democratic Party.  First among those is California Congresswoman Jane Harman.  Harman likely is to lose out on the chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee in favor of an impeached federal judge.  Not everyone in that party is impressed by the choice of Alcee Hastings of Florida. 

Joining me now to talk about that, A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of “The Hill.”

A.B., welcome.

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, “THE HILL”:  Thanks, Tucker.

CARLSON:  So to start at the end first, is Alcee Hastings going to get the chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee? 

STODDARD:  Well, that decision has not been formalized.  We are hearing that—you know, Pelosi‘s office is saying that she‘s going to make a decision before January.  And there are camps, you know, disagreeing over these two choices.

The Blue Dogs, who are the moderate Democrats in the caucus, and they number around 44, have written a letter right after Hoyer won the majority leader position with their backing, I might add.  They wrote a letter to Pelosi stressing how important Harman‘s credentials are for that job and that she should get it. 

The Black Caucus is backing Alcee Hastings and making their case as well.  I think their numbers—their membership might be around 43.  But anyway, it‘s similar population, these two different coalitions that are vying...

CARLSON:  So this is—this is kind of your basic Democratic Party interest group politics. The Black Caucus supports this guy because he‘s—because of the color of his skin.  They‘re powerful.  Pelosi feels pressure?  Is that—or is there more going on?

STODDARD:  You know, I want to say that the actual question of seniority which weighs heavily in these decisions...

CARLSON:  Yes.

STODDARD:  ... actually cuts against Jane Harman.  People should know that when she returned to the Congress in 2001, and to that committee she was promised her seniority but it was term limited and she was leapfrogged over Alcee Hastings and another black member, Sanford Bishop of Georgia, her time is out on that position. 

And unfortunately for Nancy Pelosi, she hasn‘t made the case in public that that is why she‘s considering dumping Harman.  She hasn‘t made that case strongly enough.

She‘s left the debate open for people to talk about how delicious it would be for the Republicans to have Alcee Hastings in that job and how much fun it would be for them to make commercials about it and posters and letters and lead fund-raising drivers about how tragic it would be to lose out on the credentials of Jane Harman.  I mean, they are really making it a Black Caucus issue versus Blue Dogs.

Nancy Pelosi, if she wanted to make this decision based solely on seniority, she should have said so a long time ago. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t think I‘ve ever seen a shorter honeymoon for anybody than for Nancy Pelosi, who—you know, I mean, in all fairness, her party won and they won decisively.  She is the first woman to ascend to this position, which I could care less about but a lot of people do care. 

I mean, there should have been a couple of weeks at least of celebration.  And instead, she seems to have picked a series of pointless fights with her own side. 

Is that what‘s going on?

STODDARD:  It really is interesting, because actually she had the full confidence and had really won over—you know, she had universal support in that caucus just, you know, on the night of the election.  She had impressed the Democrats from every different, you know, coalition among them.  And really—I mean, really, really proven this incredible party unity record that she has amassed working with Steny Hoyer in the minority these the last few years, the best in 50 years. 

She has raised money like a—I mean, she is the most ferocious fund-raiser, has been for a long, long time going back.  Many, many years, not just recently.

And she really—these—these bumps that have happened since November 7th have really surprised many people.  The Harman thing was obviously brewing beforehand...

CARLSON:  Right.

STODDARD:  ... but because of this whole situation with her pressing for Jack Murtha, trying to oust Steny Hoyer, losing it badly, people are now feeling like they can parlay that weakness into trying to maybe change her mind on the Harman thing.  And that‘s—you know, it‘s a big problem for her if she doesn‘t just put her foot down.

CARLSON:  She is living down to the Republican stereotype, by the way.  I mean, of Democrats as disorganized...

STODDARD:  You never want to do that

CARLSON:  No, of course not.  You never want to live down your own stereotype.

STODDARD:  Right.

CARLSON:  That‘s exactly right.

Hillary Clinton—quickly, Hillary Clinton spent, we learned this morning in “The New York Times,” $30 million to win a Senate race.  I mean, I could have gotten more points I think than Spencer got in the end.  This was a no-brainer.  She was going to win no matter what.

What do you think?  That seems like an awful lot of money.  What does that tell us about her?

STODDARD:  I think—you know, I think that‘s what cuts—presidential contenders really have to—they do have to stockpile their money these days and pretend they‘re for statewide races, or whatever.  But then they save it.

She spent it.  And I think that‘s what‘s a problem here, is that to the average American that‘s a lot of money.  It certainly is to me.  And it becomes sort of unseemly that in a race where you know you‘re going to break 55 percent and you‘re going to win, why are you going to spend all that money just to ensure yourself 65 percent?

CARLSON:  I‘ve got the answer.  I‘ve got the answer.  And I know...

STODDARD:  What is the answer?

CARLSON:  And I know you‘re not—I know you‘re a straight reporter, so you‘re not going to agree with me, but I know in your heart you‘re agree. 

STODDARD:  What is the answer? 

CARLSON:  Because she‘s a control freak.  That‘s why.  And she wanted not just to win, but win by, you know, an Albanian margin.  A North Korea margin. 

No, really.  I‘m serious.  That‘s what it is. 

STODDARD:  Well, I do think that this is—I don‘t think it‘s a lack of discipline, save for the enormous mistake in payment to Maggie Williams.  I don‘t think this isn‘t a lack of discipline.  I do think that everything—there is a master plan to everything. 

CARLSON:  Right.

STODDARD:  I don‘t think she‘s capable of a lack of discipline.

CARLSON:  Well, I think you‘re absolutely right there.  Totally.  No, they thought this through.

A.B. Stoddard, thank you. 

STODDARD:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  Still to come, Barack Obama‘s plan to the end war in Iraq.  Is Barack Obama now setting the national agenda?  Maybe. 

Will it make him a viable presidential candidates?  We‘ll tell you.

And will the real Republican frontrunner please stand up?  Another GOP luminary is on the verge of throwing his hat into the ring.

We‘ve got the story.  We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Barack Obama is calling for U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq beginning next year.  He says, “The time for waiting in Iraq is over.  It is time to change our policy.”  But is the freshman Democrat‘s plan for Iraq also the opening salvo in his campaign for the presidency?

Here to talk about that, Democratic strategist Steve McMahon.

Steve, welcome.

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Tucker, how are you?  Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  I‘m great.

I take Barack Obama seriously.  I think he‘s a smart guy.  I think he has a pretty good shot of winning the Democratic nomination. 

This announcement doesn‘t make sense to me, though. 

MCMAHON:  Why? 

CARLSON:  There‘s a—well, because there‘s a bipartisan consensus among people who really think about Iraq, even people who despise the war, like me. 

MCMAHON:  Are you talking about—are you talking about those big thinkers over at the White House, Tucker?  Those big thinkers?

CARLSON:  No.  No, no, no.  Actually, I‘m not simply talking about those big thinkers over at the White House.  I‘m talking about people in your party, for instance, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, people who think deeply about Iraq.  They are not concluding that we need to pull our troops out six months from now. 

Who is he talking to when he says this? 

MCMAHON:  Well, Tucker, you will remember last year there was a—there was a vote in the Senate.  It was 88-12 that 2007 was going to be the year of transition in Iraq and we were going to start to remove troops and redeploy them. 

CARLSON:  Right.

MCMAHON:  I think Barack Obama is just accelerating that a little bit.  And I think he‘s reacting, frankly, to what happened in the elections a couple of weeks ago. 

People desperately want to change course in Iraq.  They don‘t see a strategy to win.  They don‘t even know at this point what a win is. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

MCMAHON:  They don‘t see an exit strategy.  And what you see right now is a bunch of people running around town trying to come up with a plan that the president seems to want to ignore anyway.  So Barack Obama is trying to do what voters asked Democrats to do, and that is lead.  It‘s perfectly legitimate to have a different point of view...

CARLSON:  I sort of—look, I agree with you.  And I buy almost everything you said, people do want a different position on Iraq.  They‘re—it‘s not clear how we‘re going to achieve victory or what victory is.  You‘re right on all that. 

MCMAHON:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  I‘m talking very specifically about his plan to pull troops out pretty much right now.  That is not something...

MCMAHON:  No, no, no.

CARLSON:  Well, no, no.  Or six months from now.  That is not a conclusion that the people who run the Pentagon, for instance, or the leadership of the Democratic Party, much less Republicans, that‘s not a conclusion that they have come to.  This is a more radical position for a guy who could be president. 

MCMAHON:  Well, but, Tucker, 88 people just last year voted for 2007 to be the year in transition.  So—so, with the exception of 12 people, that‘s about what 88 of 100 senators thought last year. 

I think, again, what he‘s doing is he‘s reading the election results, he‘s trying to be responsive to the American people. 

It‘s one of the problems that the Bush administration, frankly, has had, is that the public is way ahead of the politicians, and certainly the president on this.  And Barack may be a little bit ahead of some of the other people in the party, but... 

CARLSON:  Well, but let‘s be honest, Steve.  The public has no idea what to do in Iraq.  Nobody has any idea what to do in Iraq right now.

MCMAHON:  You‘re right.

CARLSON:  And to say—hold on.  To say that the majority of Americans want a specific policy change in Iraq is wrong. 

People are upset about the war.  They know it‘s a colossal—they know we shouldn‘t be there in the first place.  And they‘re right.  But they are not saying pull out in six months.  They‘re actually not.

MCMAHON:  Well, Tucker, they are not saying stay indefinitely, or they‘re certainly not saying stay without a plan to have an exit strategy, stay without a plan for victory. 

Look, you can disagree with Barack Obama.  And that‘s perfectly legitimate.

CARLSON:  Right.

MCMAHON:  But at least he put a position out there, and it‘s something that people can debate.  I think if you asked most Americans, they would say, yes, it‘s time to start drawing down troops in six months.  I think if you asked most politicians, most of them would say yes, too. 

There‘s no unanimity in the Democratic Party, just as there isn‘t in the Republican Party.  But this is how the debate is going to have to go.  Someone is going to have to put out a position.  Someone is going to have to lead, and I think Barack Obama is trying to do that.

CARLSON:  “The New Republic” had a really interesting item today about Barack Obama as a cigarette smoker.  He smokes, which is actually a pretty interesting thing for a Democratic candidate—let‘s be honest, he‘s a candidate now—to do. 

Smoking is abhorred by Democrats.  I‘m not judging him for it.  I‘m not a Democrat.

But here you have Henry Waxman trying to outlaw smoke in the Capitol, so even members who smoke can‘t smoke.  And Barack Obama smokes cigarettes. 

That‘s pretty kind of out of tune with his party in an interesting way, don‘t you think? 

MCMAHON:  Listen, Barack Obama is an interesting character. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

MCMAHON:  If he wants to smoke, I think he has every right to smoke.  This is still America.  John Boehner smokes. 

CARLSON:  It‘s not still—actually, that‘s not true, Steve.

MCMAHON:  There are still people out there who smoke. 

CARLSON:  And amen.  And I‘m—as a libertarian, you know, that‘s the choice adults get to make in a free society. 

But liberals don‘t—aren‘t trying to create a free society, of course. 

They want to prevent you from smoking.

And how is it that Barack Obama can get away with that, surrounded, as he is, by lifestyle liberals who want to ram their—you know, their health regimens down the throat of strangers?  I mean, don‘t you think it‘s kind of—it is kind of a bold move for him to do that, don‘t you think, as a Democrat?

MCMAHON:  I think it would be a bold move if he smoked in places where smoking wasn‘t allowed.  But I think smoking in places where it is, is still fine, it‘s within the law, it‘s within his rights.

And, you know, there are still 20 percent of Americans out there who smoke. 

And, you know, presumably they know the risks and they‘re making a choice. 

And that‘s a choice that I think they ought to be able to make. 

CARLSON:  Well, let me just say, I liked him more reading it, because at least he‘s not like everybody else.  At least—I don‘t know, smoking is bad—is bad for you, but at least the guy thinks for himself and he‘s not a total trend whore like a lot of people are in the Democratic Party.

MCMAHON:  You‘re on the—you‘re on the—it sounds like you‘re on the Barack bandwagon, Tucker.

CARLSON:  No, but I think he‘s—I think he‘s more impressive than I

thought he was.  I read his book, and I have to say I was kind of impressed

by it.

I don‘t think I‘m going to be voting for him.  He‘s a lefty, and I‘m certainly not.  But, I mean, he‘s not your average Democrat.  And good for him.

MCMAHON:  He‘s a remarkable guy.  He was the first African-American to be the president of the Harvard Law Review.  He‘s incredibly well spoken, as everybody who has ever heard him speak knows. 

CARLSON:  Are you working for him?

MCMAHON:  No, I‘m not.  I‘m not actually working for anybody. 

I‘m just—I‘m just a sideline—a sideline quarterback, like you.  I get to kind of call them as I see them. 

CARLSON:  Amen.

MCMAHON:  This is great. 

CARLSON:  Well, I think he‘s more impressive than I thought he was. 

Anyway, thanks a lot, Steve.  I appreciate it.

MCMAHON:  All right, Tucker.  You take care.  Have a good holiday.

CARLSON:  Thanks.  You too.

Coming up, Newt Gingrich, he says he‘s not running for president, then he says if the American people want it he will run for president.  What is he doing? 

Also ahead, why were six imams ejected from a US Airways flight?  And why are Muslim activists outraged?  You know why they are outraged, but we‘ll tell you the full story.  We‘ve got it.

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  It looks like the Republican Party is playing a game of “Who is the real conservative?”  And in the latest round, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who is, in fact, no matter what you hear, running for president, accused frontrunner John McCain, Republican of Arizona, of being what he calls disingenuous on the question of gay marriage. 

Romney told the Washington, D.C., “Examiner” newspaper, “Look, if somebody says they‘re in favor of gay marriage, I respect that view.  If somebody says—like I do—that I oppose same-sex marriage, I respect that view.  But those who try and pretend to have it both ways I find to be disingenuous.”

In other words, John McCain disingenuous. 

Will conservative voters be impressed by this? 

Joining me to answer that question, Frank Donatelli, Republican strategist and former Reagan White House political director.

Frank, thanks for coming on.

FRANK DONATELLI, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Is—I mean, to the macro issue first, is gay marriage still a potent issue politically?

DONATELLI:  I think it‘s an important issue.  A lot of our party are social conservatives that gay marriage, abortion, these social conservative issues are very, very important to them.  And they do vote heavily in Republican primaries.  So it‘s a part of our party. 

I think to be effective in 2008, the winning Republican nominee is going to get a segment of social conservatives, a lot of libertarian conservatives, and maybe moderates that left our party in 2006. 

CARLSON:  I‘m struck by how unconservative the field so far is.  I mean, Mitt Romney, I think you probably have to say, is the most conservative, along with John McCain.  I‘m not sure who‘s more conservative.

But, I mea, you don‘t have a Gary Bauer running, you know, you don‘t have an Alan Keyes.  I mean, those were admittedly fringe candidates, but in every election in my adult lifetime you‘ve had a real conservative running.  You don‘t have that now. 

Why? 

DONATELLI:  Well, it‘s an interesting question.  The field, I think, Tucker, is yet to be fleshed out.  And I suspect you‘re going to see some of these candidates move to the right during the primary.  But, you know, it‘s a different time. 

I think that with regard to the midterm elections, a lot of candidates that were planning to run for president didn‘t make it through the ‘06 cycle, and so they were eliminated.  But I think whoever winds up being the Republican nominee, number one, is going to be center right, and number two, probably will have been able to unite most of the conservatives behind his candidacy. 

CARLSON:  Yes, I don‘t think there‘s any question.  I mean, conservatives like everyone else, always settle for what they get in the end. 

What about Newt Gingrich?  He‘s making noises about a potential run for the White House.  He‘s being coy about it.

Does he mean it?  Is he going to run? 

DONATELLI:  Well, no one knows for sure.  I think Newt—I don‘t even think Newt knows right now.  But the fact that he‘s put off until later in the year the decision about whether to be a candidate is significant. 

We‘re at a time when right now candidates are signing up activists, they are raising money, they are getting big fund-raisers to get behind them, they are developing their message.  And when you say you are still thinking about it for the first six months of 2007, I think you are putting yourself in a real hole. 

CARLSON:  What‘s the appeal?  Where does Newt Gingrich fit into the jigsaw puzzle that is the Republican field in 2008?  What—who is he?  Is he the big thinker, is he the conservative, is he the heir to Reagan?  I mean, what‘s the rationale for him? 

DONATELLI:  He‘s—well, he‘s led the third phase of the Republican Reagan

revolution.  The first phase was Goldwater, where the Republicans took over

the conservatives took over the Republicans Party.  The second phase was Ronald Reagan, where the Republican—the conservatives took over the executive branch.  And then Newt Gingrich was the third phase, where conservatives finally took over Congress. 

So there‘s a tremendous feeling of goodwill I think in the hearts of a lot of Republicans about what he did. 

That being said, you know, he has not been on the national stage since 1998.  And while he is a terrific thinker, I think what he would have to do to demonstrate that he‘s a real presidential contender is to demonstrate that he could actually run the federal government. 

CARLSON:  Yes. 

And quickly, back to Romney, I‘m just interested in your personal judgment.  There is a real question, I think, among many conservatives, you know, is this guy one of us, is Romney an actual conservative or not?

Is he?

DONATELLI:  He‘s trying to position himself that way.  Honestly, I don‘t know that he has deep roots in the conservative movement. 

And he does have, as Ricky Ricardo would say, some ‘splaining to do on the issue of abortion, where he seems to have changed his position.  But he‘s a very attractive candidate.  He‘ll have a chance to make his case in the primaries. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  He is—he has definitely changed his position, no doubt about that. 

Frank Donatelli, thank you very much. 

DONATELLI:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Still to come, a whites-only scholarship raises questions at a major university.  We‘ll talk to one of the people who organized it.

And the latest on celebrity apology tour, the one run by Michael Richards. 

He went on David Letterman‘s show last night to try and save his career. 

Did he?  We‘ll tell you.

We‘ll be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

CARLSON:  Muslim leaders are outraged over yesterday‘s removal of six Imams from the U.S. airwaves, playing in Minneapolis.  The men were attending a conference attended by over 150 Muslim religious leaders.  Returning to Phoenix a passenger expressed concern to airline personnel after seeing the six men praying.  The Imams were handcuffed, led off the plain and then questioned for several hours.  U.S. Airways issued a statement, saying it does not tolerate discrimination and is conducting an internal investigation. 

Joining me now Arsalan Iftikhar, national legal director of the council on American/Islamic Relations.  Arsalan, thanks a lot for joining us. 

ARSALAN IFTIKHAR, COUNCIL ON AMERICAN/ISLAMIC RELATIONS:  Thanks Tucker.

CARLSON:  I feel sorry for these guys, sounds like they didn‘t do anything wrong.  They got caught up in other people‘s concerns.  They were victims.  I‘ll concede that right from the outset.  But here‘s what I don‘t understand, it‘s the use of this sad event as a political tool by the organized Islamic community that I suppose bothers me.  Americans ought to be vigilant.  They ought to be reporting things that seem out of the ordinary in airports and on airplanes.  That keeps us safe.  And I think groups like yours are trying to convince people they have no right to do that. 

IFTIKHAR:  Well I think, Tucker, that this incident in Minnesota highlights the racial profiling in flying phenomenon that we‘ve seen for the last five years, where American Muslims, who are lawful peaceful, law abiding citizens of the United States, have been disparately caught up in the fear and stereotyping that unfortunately has become pervasive in our society.  And I think that, you know, just like you said, these six Imams were not guilty of anything.  And I think that it shows the American public that, you know, this is something that we really do need to address.  You know, obviously security concerns—

CARLSON:  Wait, I don‘t know what you‘re talking about.  Wait a second.  I know Muslim groups always make it sound like we live in a Fascist country that hates Muslims.  Actually, we live in a very tolerant country.  I know that it is popular to be anti-American, but the truth is most Americans are really sort of open minded and there isn‘t a lot of racial profiling going on.  I don‘t know what you‘re talking about.  I know you have got a vested interest in claiming that there is, but I don‘t think you‘re right.

IFTIKHAR:  Well, I mean, you know, the concept of racial profiling didn‘t begin yesterday, Tucker.  You know, African-American males have been pulled over disparately more than Caucasian males and, you know, the whole adage of driving while black was the racial profiling adage during the 1980s.  And now the now the millenial version of that has become flying while brown or flying while Muslim. 

CARLSON:  That‘s such a crock.  I mean that is—I fly more than anybody I know, practically.  There are always people from south Asia and the Middle East on planes I fly.  Nobody says anything.  These guys were praying, standing up praying and it freaked people out.  I‘m not defending that.  I‘m merely saying it‘s not just that they were brown or looked Muslim, they were doing something other people didn‘t understand and it spooked the other people.  I mean, don‘t you understand how that could happen? 

IFTIKHAR:  I think another case that‘s indicative of that, two months ago, in September, an Orthodox Jew was kicked off of an Air Canada flight because people saw him praying and they thought that he was a Muslim.  And the stewardess even came to him on the flight from Montreal to New York and said, listen I know you‘re not a Muslim, but we‘re going to have to kick you off this flight anyway.  I mean, I think it just shows the underlying stereotype and fear that is still pervasive in American society and for anyone to say that racism doesn‘t exist in the United States today is just plane naive. 

CARLSON:  Well, but this is not, of course, as you know, a question of racism.  This is a question of people being suspicious about a religion.  A religion is not a race.  It‘s not an ethnicity.  It‘s a belief system. 

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  So racism—for you to bring in black people and segregation and Jim Crown is not only disingenuous, but an offense to American history. 

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  This is not an attack on people who look a certain way, it‘s an attack on people who believe certain things. 

IFTIKHAR:  Tucker, Tucker, anti-Semitism which is, you know, having ill feelings for the Jewish people has always been debated under the specter of racism.  I mean this is just plane xenophobia and bigotry.  If you want to call it bigotry, if you want to call it xenophobia, if you want to call it racism, you can call it whatever you want.  The fact of the matter remains that this is still something that is prevalent.  

CARLSON:  You know what, that‘s so unreasonable.  I conceded at the outset.  These guys didn‘t do anything.  I felt sorry for them.  I feel sorry for anybody who gets hassled unfairly and these guys were, and I do feel sorry for them.  But for you to turn this into an indictment of American society is deeply unfair.  There are still literally millions of Muslims living in this country, untold thousands coming into this country every year, because they know this is a tolerant society, where they can have a better life, in contrast to countries that your group apologizes for every day, like Saudi Arabia, an essentially Fascist state, if you see what I‘m saying.  This is a good country that tolerates Muslims and I know that you raise money by pretending that‘s not so, but it is so. 

IFTIKHAR:  No, absolutely and I‘m proud to be an American and I would never have otherwise, but you also have to understand that this is something that we want to make our society even better.  We‘re not a perfect society.  I think the war in Iraq and other aspects of our domestic and foreign policy show that.  And this is just another aspect of that.  We‘re just trying to make our society even better than it is today. 

CARLSON:  Well wait a sec, will you also concede that specific religious practices, though they‘re totally legitimate and good, sometimes shouldn‘t be, or when they are practiced in public make others uncomfortable.  There are certain American Indian tribes that eat Peyoti as part of their religious (INAUDIBLE), fine.  If you do that in public though, it‘s kind of a problem.  There are—you know, Jews believe in circumcision, great.  You do that on an airplane, you‘re in trouble. 

Christians speak in tongues sometime.  You do that on an airplane it makes people uncomfortable.  Just because it‘s a decent and acceptable and legitimate religious practice doesn‘t mean that you should do it in public and expect no one to respond. 

IFTIKHAR:  Well most people know that Muslims pray five times a day.  I mean it‘s a regular part of Islamic practice and, I mean, it‘s the moral equivalent of, you know, a Catholic saying the Hail Mary while sitting on a plane.  I mean these guys were—they were not praying on a plane, first of all.  You know, they were just exercising their first amendment right to freely exercise their faith and I think that people of all faiths should be able to do that.  And yes I—you know, if people don‘t understand or they feel uncomfortable by it, I think that that‘s why dialogue and discourse like the one that we‘re having today is essential to make sure that, you know, when we do deal with credible security threats, we base it on credible intelligence and not just fear and stereotypes. 

CARLSON:  Dialogue and discourse is what you and I are engaging in.  What Muslim groups did was calling the FBI.  And in calling the FBI, as someone who has watched this for a long time, never results in increased dialogue and discourse, ever.  It results in men with guns coming in, like, hassling people.  You know what I mean, calling the FBI is not the first step in dialogue and discourse, in my view.

IFTIKHAR:  No, I mean—if you—I mean, even the Imam conference that they went to, they called the FBI—they want people—they want our society to know that American Muslims, the seven million American Muslims living here in the United States, are law abiding citizens, who just want to live their lives like peaceful American Muslims.  We‘re very proud to be Americans. 

CARLSON:  I agree with that.  I just think you need to understand that other people have worries that are rooted in reality.  Like they are afraid of radical Islam and that‘s fair. 

IFTIKHAR:  And I think that you need to concede the fact that racism is still alive and well in this country, as well.

CARLSON:  no, being anti-Muslim is not racism, by the way.  It‘s more than a semantic point.  But I don‘t think I‘m going to convince you.  Maybe later.  Thanks a lot Arsalon Iftikhar, I appreciate it. 

IFTIKHAR:  Thanks Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Earlier this month voters in Michigan passed a ban on affirmative action at the state‘s public colleges and universities.  Only four states have such measures, but groups across the country are finding ways to fight race and sex preference, that is bigotry, in college admissions.  A student group in Boston, at Boston University, has created a, quote, Caucasian achievement and recognition scholarship.  It requires applicants to be at least 25 percent Caucasian.  Is your skin crawling yet, well, it‘s supposed to.  The application asks for an essay on, quote, what it means to you to be a Caucasian-American today. 

Here to explain the controversial scholarship Joe Mroszczyk.  He‘s the president of the Boston University College Republicans.  He joins me from Watertown.  Joe, thanks for coming on. 

JOE MROSZCZYK, PRES. BOSTON UNIVERSITY COLLEGE REPUBLICANS:  Thanks, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  So people hear this, liberal, conservative, doesn‘t matter and everyone goes, wow.  What‘s the point of this?

MROSZCZYK:  Well, that‘s exactly the point Tucker.  I mean, a lot of people are getting upset at us, saying that we‘re racists.  And we‘re really just trying to point out that Boston University gives out a National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholarship, which is a scholarship based on race.  The recipients need to be at least one quarter Hispanic.  And we think that is ridiculous too.  So we‘re trying to point out the absurdity of racial preferences by giving out this white scholarship.

CARLSON:  Wait, you mean, I‘m not Hispanic, if I went to apply for that scholarship, I wouldn‘t be eligible for it?

MROSZCZYK:  If you were to try to apply for this National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholarship, you would not be able to apply for it unless you were a quarter Hispanic. 

CARLSON:  Well that‘s racist, isn‘t it? 

MROSZCZYK:  Well, that‘s exactly the point.  I mean, I think racism can exist in all sorts of forms.  I think there‘s a double standard here, where a scholarship is given out to a Hispanic or an African-American, that seems to be OK.  But if we give one out to white folks, then that seems to be racism.  We‘re trying to combat that and try to raise the awareness of racial preferences. 

CARLSON:  So you don‘t actually think it‘s good idea to have whites only scholarships? 

MROSZCZYK:  Of course not, of course not.  Like I said, we‘re just trying to point out how ridiculous it is to have any sort of scholarship based on race.  We‘re not advocating for Boston University to give out a white scholarship or any sort of institution to give out a white scholarship.  We‘re just trying to point out the double standard there. 

CARLSON:  I actually couldn‘t agree with you more.  I think it‘s immoral, but here‘s my question.  How can people who back race specific scholarships for people of specific races, how can they turn around and attack you for doing the same thing.  On what grounds can they attack you and have they attacked you?

MROSZCZYK:  Well, a lot of people, you know, this is a way to get, you know, minorities into Boston University, or help them to achieve at Boston University, or sort of increase diversity.  But, to me, I think diversity is more than just the color of your skin or your ethnicity.  I think diversity, especially at a university, should be a diversity of ideas.  And being a conservative at Boston University, you know, I‘m certainly in the minority here, but there‘s no conservative student scholarship.  I think the university and I think the American public needs to think about what diversity means.  Is it more than just the color of your skin or ethnicity or is it about what ideas and what you bring to the table? 

CARLSON:  Yes, I think that‘s too complicated for the morons in the diversity industry to understand.  Let me get back to my question though, have people who stand four square behind scholarships for minorities, so-called minority students, attacked you for offering a faux scholarship for white students? 

MROSZCZYK:  Not as of yet.  It seems like a lot of the arguments I‘ve heard is that, you know, Hispanics or some sort of minority, they need to have these special programs in order to help them achieve.  And I just don‘t think that‘s right.  I think that any scholarship, or any financial aid, should be based on financial need, and socio-economic affirmative action, so to speak.  If students can‘t afford to Boston University and achieve well in school, maybe they should have the scholarship.  I don‘t think any scholarship should be based on whether or not someone is Hispanic or any sort of—

CARLSON:  Well I think that the point that you make, and the point that they try to pretend doesn‘t exist, is whenever you narrow something down, you include some, but you exclude many others.  And so any race specific scholarship does help some people.  There‘s no doubt about that.  Affirmative action does help people, but it also hurts other people and keeps them out, because of the color of their skin, and that‘s wrong. 

MROSZCZYK:  Exactly, I mean, there‘s plenty of white people, you know, who come from lower class or lower income families that may need the help just as well.  But I think a lot of people just draw this inference that just because somebody is minority, that they need the economic—they need the scholarship, they need the financial help, which I don‘t think is the case.  I think there‘s plenty of African-Americans or Hispanics or any minorities that come from rich suburbia, that do just as well. 

CARLSON:  Why do you think it is, though—when I read this story, and one of the reasons I wanted to have you on, is I read this and, oh, I mean, literally my skin crawled.  It made me uncomfortable to read about the scholarship that you‘re offering.  I thought well, why is that?  We live in a society that is filled with this kind of stuff, you know, black‘s only, Hispanics only, Asians only, whatever.  Why is it that when there‘s a whites only scholarship, it makes all of us, me very much included, so uncomfortable?

MROSZCZYK:  I don‘t know.  That‘s the question.  I mean, at Boston University we have a Black Student Union as well.  A lot of people, they see these things and they say, oh, that‘s fine.  But if you do it for a white student, then all of a sudden there‘s this huge uproar.  And look, we‘re not doing this as a white supremacy sort of thing or anything like that.  We‘re really just trying to point out the absurdity of the whole thing about discriminating based on race, regardless of what race your. 

CARLSON:  Amen, I think you are taking a principled stand I hope you are not vilified as a racist.  I don‘t think you are.  

MROSZCZYK:  I‘ve got it.  I hope so too. 

CARLSON:  Good luck, thanks Joe. 

MROSZCZYK:  Thanks Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Former Seinfeld star Michael Richards goes on Letterman, speaking of racism, to apologize for his on-stage tirade.  Is Al Sharpton satisfied with that?  What do you think.  You‘ll hear what the Reverand Al has to say after the break. 

Plus, Nicole Brown‘s sister accuses Fox, Fox Broadcasting of offering hush money to quiet her protests about the O.J. Simpson, If I Did It Special.  Is it true?  We‘ll discuss that when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Time for meet the press.  Ladies and gentlemen it is getting uglier.  First News Corporation decided to air and publish O.J. Simpson‘s If I Did It story.  Then yesterday, after much criticism, it decided not to.  Then this morning we learned from Nicole Brown Simpson‘s sister Denise that News Corp may have been playing a much dirtier game even than we suspected.  Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DENISE BROWN, SISTER OF NICOLE BROWN SIMPSON:  News Corp contacted us

and what they wanted to do is they wanted to offer us millions of dollars -

millions of dollars for like, oh, I‘m sorry money, but they were still going to air the show.  We just thought, oh my god.  Well, what they‘re trying to do is trying to keep us quiet, trying to make this like hush money, trying to go around the civil verdict, giving us this money to keep our mouth shut. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  So News Corporation was trying to pay of the victims, the surviving victims of O.J Simpson‘s murder spree.  I don‘t know if this is true or not.  If it is true, kind of a big deal.  So maybe those self-appointed media watch dog groups, that spend all their time watching Fox News and otherwise wasting time, could actually track down this story and tell us, is it true?  Did News Corporation really offer to pay, quote, millions of dollars to Nicole Brown Simpson‘s sister?  It‘s worth finding out.

Next up, a frightening moment on the Fox News Channel.  Drunk football fans be aware of reporters who are doing live shots.  They don‘t like you getting in the way and they could be dangerous.  Watch this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Jim Backler (ph) was rushed to an area hospital after collapsing, but was pronounced dead.  A sad day for Michigan players and fans, who hope the team finds that inspiration in the death of a college football icon.   

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Whoa, notice her Ohio State immediately ended after she got body blocked.  Let‘s take a look at that again.  Watch this reporter‘s face as he checks this woman in the shoulder. 

Look at that.  He hears it.  He turns it.  What‘s that noise.  Look at the savage look on his face.  Boy, never fool with a reporter doing a stand-up.  That‘s the lesson there. 

And finally from another Fox News Channel, more news.  This one a slip of the tongue for Jane Skinner (ph), possibly the most charming woman in television, watch this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JANE SKINNER, FOX NEWS:  Six officers were killed, including the District‘s top cock—top cock—top cop, after the vehicle they were riding in was sprayed with bullets.  Three other officers were hurt in the attack.  And those are your latest headlines.  I‘m Jane Skinner.  Time now to send you back to Sheppard who is live, where?  Just outside of Memphis. 

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  It is hard not to like Jane Skinner, I have to say, but it‘s a good thing Sheppard Smith was around for support.  He is the master of on-air recoveries.  Remember this one?  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHEPPARD SMITH, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  J-Lo‘s new song, Jenny From the Block, all about Lopez‘s roots, about how she‘s still a neighborhood gal at heart, but folks from that street in New York, the Bronx section, sound more likely to give her a curb job than blow (EXPLETIVE DELETED) -- than a block party.  The “New York Post” --  Sorry about that slip up there.  I have no idea how that happened, but it won‘t happen again, and that‘s your news. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Sheppard Smith, he may be the coolest man in TV.  I‘m impressed.

Michael Richards goes on Letterman to apologize for his rant in a comedy club last week.  His Late Show interview may have been the only thing ever recorded on videotape that is more uncomfortable than the incident itself.  You have got to see this.  We‘ll show it to you when we come right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Well, with just three and a half minutes left in the show, we turn now for some fact based reporting.  For that, of course, we go to Willie Geist. 

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m short on facts, Tucker, but I‘m going to give you the stories anyway. 

Here‘s the first one I want to tell you about.  Your old friend David Blaine, the guy who was trapped in the fish tank for a few weeks. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

GEIST:  His latest trick, he is in Times Square, suspended from a gyro-scope.  He‘s going to be shackled in there Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, and he‘s going to have 16 hours to get out of it.  I don‘t even know what that means, but those are the facts of the story. 

More importantly, tonight, live on “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY,” Rita Cosby will perform a live interview with David Blaine.  How will she do it, you ask.  She will be lifted by a crane up to the gyro-scope to conduct her one on one interview.  That‘s Rita Cosby tonight live on “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.”  If you miss that, you‘re making a huge mistake. 

CARLSON:  Rita Cosby, will she be in a cage? 

GEIST:  I don‘t know if it‘s a cage.  We‘re hearing crane, but we‘ll check on that for you. 

CARLSON:  If it‘s a cage, I‘ll watch.  OK, good.

GEIST:  In other news, Tucker, Michael Richards has emerged from his post-Seinfeld obscurity with an unwelcome bang.  If you haven‘t seen the tape yet, here‘s how the actor who played the beloved Kramer responded to some black hecklers at a West Hollywood comedy club on Friday night. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL RICHARDS, ACTOR:  Shut up.  Fifty years ago you had your arms tied down with (EXPLETIVE DELETED) fork up your (EXPLETIVE DELETED).  You can talk, you can talk, you can talk.  You‘re brave now mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED).  Throw this man out, he‘s a (EXPLETIVE DELETED).  He‘s a (EXPLETIVE DELETED).  He‘s a (EXPLETIVE DELETED).  He‘s a (EXPLETIVE DELETED). A (EXPLETIVE DELETED) looks where‘s (INAUDIBLE).

All right you see, you see what‘s buried beneath your stupid mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That was uncalled for.

RICHARDS:  What was uncalled for?  It‘s uncalled for you to interrupt my (EXPLETIVE DELETED), you cheap mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED). 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  Now, if you thought that was hard to watch, and it was, you should have seen his long, painful apology on the Late Show With David Letterman last night.  Jerry Seinfeld was a guest on the show and he asked Dave to allow his friend and former Seinfeld co-star Richards the chance to apologize for that rant you just saw.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARDS:  I was at a comedy club trying to do my act and I got heckled and I took it badly and went into a rage, and said some pretty nasty things to some Afro-Americans, a lot of trash talk. 

I‘m not a racist.  That‘s what is so insane about this.  I don‘t—and yet, it‘s said, it comes through, it fires out of me. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  Somehow he‘s the victim in this.  I‘m not really sure how that works exactly.  Tucker, as any racial story goes, the narrative eventually comes to Al Sharpton‘s response, so here it is. 

CARLSON:  Sooner rather than later, by the way. 

GEIST:  “ It seems strange that one would insult African Americans in a long tirade and then go on a white television show, with a mostly white studio and viewing audience, to make a statement of apology.  If Mr.  Richards has something to say, he should say it to us, and let us respond to him. 

And Reverend Sharpton suggests he do so on his syndicated radio show, to help the ratings.  So the reverend now has invited Michael Richards on his radio show.  We‘ll see if he takes it.

CARLSON:  And we‘ve invited the Reverand Al on tomorrow. 

GEIST:  He will be here tomorrow and he will discuss this very topic, among other things. 

CARLSON:  Amazing, Willie Geist.  Thanks Willie.  That‘s it for us today.  Thank you for watching.  We‘ll be back here tomorrow at exactly the same time, hope to see you then.

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

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2006 NBC.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2006 Voxant, Inc.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon NBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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