updated 1/9/2007 11:43:11 AM ET 2007-01-09T16:43:11

Guests: Michael Crowley, Joan Walsh, Ron Haralson, Cristina Gibson, Jill Dobson, Steve Adubato, Tina Dirmann, Bob Kohn, Paul Waldman, Craig Crawford

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight: Bill O‘Reilly‘s obsession with NBC continues.  We‘re going to show you what he said earlier today, going after everything from NBC News to “Law and Order.”  And get this, breaking news out of southern California tonight.  Fire is racing across the exclusive enclave of Malibu, the LA enclave of Malibu.  Right, now 10 structures have been destroyed.  There are million-dollar homes up and down the coastline that are in danger.  A brush fire right now seems to be going out of control in parts of Malibu.

We‘re going to be keeping you up to date with the very latest out there.  It is now 6:00 o‘clock on the West Coast.  Of course, you see those other homes that are in danger.  And of course, this is a result—it happens all the time—as people out on the West Coast know, when the Santa Ana winds come in, and we have a dry situation.  It is very dangerous out there, and you can see the homes that are just being engulfed by this fire.  Again, as many as 10 structures have been burned down right now by this new Malibu fire.

They are obviously concerned that the fire will continue spreading because of the Santa Ana winds, because of the dry conditions.  There are evacuations that are being ordered in the area.  And like I said, we will be keeping you up to date.  These are, of course, million-dollar homes that you‘re watching now live going up in flames on the West Coast.

Again, that‘s in the exclusive LA coastal enclave of Malibu, where so many pop culture figures and so many Hollywood stars live.  This is actually—for those of you that know the area well, this is an area right by Pepperdine University.  Again, we‘ll be following this story throughout the hour.

But first tonight, we‘re going to be going from California to, obviously, the top story in Washington, D.C., Iraq.  The Iraq body count continues to skyrocket, with “The Washington Post” now reporting that bloodshed in Baghdad is worsening by the day.  Just as December saw record deaths for U.S. troops, reports are out today showing a staggering increase in the number of Iraqis killed in their country‘s civil war.

Amid this bloody and chaotic backdrop, Democrats are going to be launching their first congressional investigation in two days on this Iraq war, and it‘s going to be Condoleezza Rice and the new secretary of defense on the hot seat.

Meanwhile, the president prepares to deliver a mid-week speech that‘s certainly going to define his last two years in the White House and quite possibly this war that he began in 2003.  The newly Democratic Congress and an increasingly frustrated America will then decide whether this president is delivering a new way forward in Iraq, as he‘s promising he‘s going to do, or whether he‘s just delivering a prescription for disaster for America‘s men and women in uniform not only in Iraq but across the globe.

Here to talk about the new way forward in Iraq and new congressional hearings, Michael Crowley.  He‘s senior editor for “The New Republic.”  We‘ve got Joan Walsh.  She‘s editor-in-chief for Salon.com.  And MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.

Michael Crowley, let me begin with you.  Confirmation today—I know you heard it—Senator Gordon Smith came out saying that President Bush told him he‘s going to ask for 20,000 more troops from Congress.  Of course, Michael, as you know, this is even while his generals and 80 percent of Americans oppose that move.  The question tonight not only in Washington but across the world is whether the new Democratic Congress that we saw sworn in last week is going to give in to President Bush.  What do you think?

MICHAEL CROWLEY, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”:  Well, Joe, I don‘t think they‘re going to give in.  I think they‘re going to make it very clear that they think this is a terrible idea.  The problem is, they just don‘t have that much power.  There‘s actually a little bit of an argument among Democrats right now about whether they could actually cut off money to do this, and I think at the end of the day, they probably couldn‘t.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  So does that mean, Michael, that they get—does that mean the president gets his 20,000 new troops, despite the fact his generals, the Joint Chiefs and about 80 percent of Americans oppose this plan?

CROWLEY:  Yes, and despite the fact that everything else he‘s tried

has failed.  I mean, what has he done right?  That the thing that worries

me the most here.  You know, the metaphor I think of like the rat that

keeps going for the cheese and gets an electric shock every time and never

learns.  I mean, why do we have reason to think there‘s not going to be an

electric shock this time?  Why do we have any reason to think this is the -

this is, finally, the brilliant answer they‘ve come up with, after getting it wrong for three years?  There‘s no reason to think that.

All the benefit of the doubt, I think at this point, goes to the

critics and the skeptics.  And so Democrats have a very great public case -

case—public opinion case to make, but practically, there‘s not a lot they can do except stand by and say, Don‘t do it, please.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know, and speaking of public opinion, Michael, I want you to look at this new CBS poll that shows that 76 percent of Americans don‘t think this president has a clear plan for Iraq.  Now, Michael, let‘s keep that up while I ask you this question.  How can a commander-in-chief run a war in Iraq when most Americans, 76 percent, have lost faith that their leader actually has a plan to win that war and get our troops home safely?

CROWLEY:  Joe, if we weren‘t seeing it happen, you would think it literally wasn‘t possible.  But we‘re in uncharted territory now.  It‘s bizarre and it‘s a little bit scary.  There‘s—you‘re right, the bottom has fallen out.  There‘s almost no public support.  The support on the Hill is falling apart.  But realistically, there‘s not a lot that can be done.  Bush is the commander-in-chief...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... it sounds like—you know, you say he‘s the commander-in-chief.  It sounds like—when Democrats say, There‘s nothing we can do, I feel like saying, You really need to read the Constitution.  And I said, Listen—and I said the same thing to Republicans when they said there was nothing we could do to stop Bill Clinton in Kosovo or Bosnia or committing troops across the globe.  You look at the Constitution, it all starts in Congress.

Joan Walsh, Democrats can do something, if they want, if they have the political will to do it.  They just don‘t seem to have the political will to stop this president, do they.

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM:  Well, I‘m not sure yet, Joe.  I wrote about this last week.  While everybody was partying in Washington, I was back in San Francisco, actually trying to...

SCARBOROUGH:  You are so dedicated, Joan.

WALSH:  ... get some work done—I was really dedicated, so you could go out and party.  I wanted to do that for you.  But when I looked into it, what I saw was—I think that there‘s a gradual strategy here.  And although it‘s fun to be on TV and talk quickly about what they should do tomorrow, it‘s not going to happen that way.  But let me lay out what I think is going to happen...

SCARBOROUGH:  Wait a second, though, Joan.  These Democrats knew for quite some time they were going to be in charge.  They certainly knew in November they were going to be in charge.

WALSH:  They did.

SCARBOROUGH:  They knew this president for some time was going to be asking for additional troops in Iraq.  And Joan, I think that Democrats need to be more assertive.  This isn‘t about being on TV.

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH:  I agree, Joe.  I agree that they need to be more assertive. 

Go ahead.

SCARBOROUGH:  And I want you to respond to this because we showed you the bad news for the president.  Bad news for Democrats?  More Americans don‘t think the Democrats have a plan to win in Iraq.  Eighty-two percent of Americans don‘t think Democrats have a clear plan for Iraq.  Only 8 percent—only 8 percent think Democrats do have a clear plan in Iraq.  And of course, this becomes a problem less about party and more about leadership.

What‘s that say about our leaders in Washington, D.C., that Americans have lost faith that they don‘t even know how to run a war?

WALSH:  I said on your show a couple of week ago, Joe, and I said it again in the pages of Salon, I don‘t think the Democrats can sit back and say, Oh, it‘s too risky for us to say defund the war.  Oh, we don‘t have to come up with a plan, we didn‘t get into the war.  I have thought for a good long time that the Democrats did need to be aggressive and come forth with a plan and oppose the president‘s plans.

So what I think you‘ll see happen—and I‘m not saying that they‘re going to develop a unified position or spine tomorrow, but what I think will roll out in the next couple of weeks will be definitely hearings, and hearings sound namby-pamby, but hearings are important because hearings get to the bottom of certain questions about what is the surge—the escalation, let‘s call it the escalation—intended to accomplish.  Hearings get to the bottom—or potentially get to the bottom of the differences between different administration figures, and different Pentagon figures for that matter.

And hearings also let your friends, Republican senators and House representatives, ask their questions, because, Joe, this is not going to be a one-party solution.  And I think...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, it‘s not...

WALSH:  ... it might help strengthen the spine of Republicans who are going to be vulnerable if this continues.

SCARBOROUGH:  Joan, Republicans have sat back.  They haven‘t challenged this president.  They haven‘t challenged the Pentagon.  They haven‘t challenged leaders for quite some time, in fact, since the president of the United States—since George Bush became the president of the United States.

But my issue—and I‘ve got so many issues with the way this administration has run this war.  But Democrats can‘t come up and say, Well, you know what?  We need to do hearings, and we need to wait another six months to try to figure out how to get our arms around this Iraq problem.

They know we‘ve had an Iraq problem for years.  They‘ve known for the past year they were going to take the majority because of Iraq.  And so it just seems to me they need to step up, stand and deliver, at least tell Americans where they stand.

And Pat Buchanan, I want to ask you whether this Bush surge, these 20,000 troops that he‘s going to get because I don‘t think the Democrats are going to stand up and stop it—does this Bush surge effectively wrap the Iraq war around the necks of future presidents, basically making sure that other presidents will have to deal with this war, that we‘re not getting out of Iraq anytime soon?

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Yes, what Bush is saying with the 20,000 -- look, nobody thinks this is going to decisively win the war.  It‘s going to buy time, he hopes, so that the Iraqis can train their own forces, hopefully, and take over down the road.

But what the president is doing is saying, in effect, We‘re not losing the war on my watch, period.  I‘m going to send the 20,000 in.  The Democratic Party—the American people believe the Democrats have no solution because they have none.  I mean, if they wanted, if they had some guts and they thought the war was a mistake or the war failed, they could cut the funding from $100 billion to $50 billion, $25 billion the year after that.  They‘re not going to do that because they know very well, if they do it, Iraq will collapse and they will be held accountable.  What they want to do is—

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... president will get his way on this surge, right?

BUCHANAN:  Sure.  What the Democrats want to do is blather about how they don‘t like the surge and not be held responsible for stopping the surge.

WALSH:  I think some of them do, Pat, but I think others—I think Nancy Pelosi is talking tougher about using the budget process to really scrutinize what the money is going to be spent on with this 20,000, to set some conditions.  The thing that I haven‘t heard, though—she talked about attaching some conditions to the spending of the money.  What I haven‘t heard is what they‘ll do if the conditions aren‘t met.  And when you‘ve already said—and this is where you—I think, Joe, you and I agree, if you‘ve already said, Oh, take—defunding war is off the table, then you really don‘t have much of a stick to use, if the conditions that you set aren‘t met.

BUCHANAN:  But the truth is, they don‘t want to use a stick.  What you don‘t realize—or we ought to realize—is the Democrats want to talk and criticize and get credit for being against the president, but their solution, a gradual pull-out, and they know it, could lead to the greatest debacle in American political history, and Bush and Cheney would drape it around their necks rather than their own.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  ... do nothing!

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  So basically, the situation, though, is, Michael—the situation the Democrats are facing is this.  George Bush has got us into this war—this is what Democrats are saying.  We don‘t like the fact that we‘ve gotten into this war.  Some of us voted for it, but most of us knew that was a mistake soon after.  But we‘re left with two terrible options.  We can give the president his way, and by giving the president his way, we can guarantee that more troops will go to Iraq, there will be more bloodshed and more Americans will die, or we can pull the troops out of Iraq and we can guarantee that this civil war will probably spill over the borders and turn into a regional war.  And so therefore, what can we do but complain and launch investigations?  Is that really the terrible choice that Democrats find themselves with right now?

CROWLEY:  Absolutely.  I mean, the reality of what‘s happening in Iraq right now is that there are no good options.  I mean, Pat said something about Bush doesn‘t want to be the president who presides over losing a war.  I think you can argue, to some extent, that we have lost.  The question is whether we can kind of start it all over again.

But I think the loss is plain to see in everything but the final retreat, unless something really dramatic happens.  And so the problem is, yes, to the extent that Democrats now join the process, there‘s nothing they can do to save it or turn it around.

BUCHANAN:  All right, but...

CROWLEY:  And they don‘t want to get saddled with the party of retreat.  I mean, so as a political matter, you do want to see Republicans...

BUCHANAN:  But what you...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... take that hit.  But again, it‘s not clear to me—I just want to point out—that they really could, in the near term, do anything about the money.  The annual defense appropriations bill has already been passed.  Barney Frank and Joe Biden have both said that they don‘t think there‘s any ability to cut off money, at least in the coming months.  Maybe in the next...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  But what you‘re saying is that the Democrats believe the war is lost, but they lack the courage to cut it off and stop the killing and stop the dying because they lack the courage to take responsibility.  And I think you‘re dead right.

WALSH:  I think that some Democrats and some Republicans will be stepping up and will have the courage to take that responsibility.  But I really think framing this only as, Oh, those cowardly Democrats, is incredibly unfair.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Many Republicans are the same way.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY:  There are some Democrats who are stepping up and they say, Get out, and they don‘t make any pretense...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And let‘s be very clear about this before we leave.  The Democrats have been in power now for a number of days.

WALSH:  Right.

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s it.  As this war has started and has been on the Republican watch, it is a Republican war.  Last week, Democrats took partial ownership because the American people said, Please, get in there, do something.  The Democrats will, over the next two years, of course, be judged by what they do.  Right now, it looks like they don‘t have a lot of good choices, but we‘ll see.  Hopefully, they can get together with the president and try to solve this thing.

Michael Crowley, Joan Walsh, Pat Buchanan, thank you so much for being with us.  These are tough questions, friends, that we‘re going to be following obviously in the coming weeks and months, and unfortunately, it looks like years.

But coming up next, the latest out in Malibu, California wildfires sweeping across Malibu, already destroying 10 structures.  And it‘s now moving within a few acres of Pepperdine University.  We are going to have a live report coming out of southern California on these possibly deadly fires next.  And...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O‘REILLY, HOST, “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR”:  I have it in for NBC. 

I‘ll admit it.  I don‘t like you guys.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Bill O‘Reilly ramps up his crusade against NBC.  We‘re going to show you the latest attacks from the Fox Newshound and ask why he‘s now targeting not only the real news but fake shows like “ER” and “Law & Order.”  Why the rage against the peacock, Bill?  And later: She‘s back.  Rosie strikes back, going after the Donald with a new round of insults, and Barbara Walters ends up stuck in the middle.  Who‘s going to be left standing when that dust settles?  All that and a lot more coming up in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘ve got breaking news right now out of southern California.  You are looking at just a terrible scene.  In Malibu, California, wildfires have been sweeping across that area and going in, and it‘s already destroyed 10 structures and it‘s burned at least 10 acres, including what looks like from these pictures multi-million-dollar homes.  And of course, right now, these may be fueled by the Santa Ana winds.

To get more on this breaking news story out of southern California, let‘s bring on Inspector Ron Haralson.  He‘s of the LA County Fire Department.  Thank you so much for being with us, Ron.  Tell us, how did these fires begin?

RON HARALSON, LA CTY FIRE INSPECTOR:  Well, we got a—this call initially came in at just after 5:00 PM local time here, so we‘re about an hour-and-a-half into this fire.  We came in at Pacific Coast Highway and the Malibu Canyon Road area as a brush fire initially reported at two acres.  Once the engines got on scene, they did determine we had fire on both sides of PCH, the one side being, of course, where all the homes are lined up there on the ocean side, and the other side, where we had some brush involvement.

SCARBOROUGH:  Talk about the Santa Ana winds for Americans that aren‘t familiar with how those winds fuel these fires..

HARALSON:  Absolutely.  We are in red flag conditions, which means we are on a heightened alert and we have extra resources pre-deployed in the event of a brush fire because of the dry conditions, the high winds and the low humidity.  So this is something we definitely didn‘t want to see anywhere.  And unfortunately, we did have a start here and we‘re looking approximately eight homes that have been lost, or eight structures.  We have five that are damaged, and we do have several vehicles that have been lost due to this fire that we‘re putting at approximately 10 acres right now.

SCARBOROUGH:  And of course, it is in just an absolutely terrible area as far as where these structures are being burned, right?

HARALSON:  Absolutely.  We had a serious fire here in the ‘93, ‘94 area, firestorms that burned all the way down through in and around the areas of Malibu right now.  So we‘re very concerned with this.  And as far as the Santa Ana winds, they‘re very concerning and very troubling for us right now in and around this area.  We got erratic winds right now, and the winds are definitely of a concern.

SCARBOROUGH:  And talk about the problems that causes as far as containment.  I understand Pepperdine University is not too far away, and obviously, I guess your biggest fear, your biggest concern is that this fire could obviously jump into other areas and take off, right?

HARALSON:  Absolutely.  And fortunately, the fire is blowing—the winds are blowing and the fire itself are blowing towards the ocean, away from the Pepperdine University area.  We are utilizing that area to refill our helicopters.  They continue to work throughout the night on this fire right now.  We‘re working on the ground and from the air right now.  So we‘re very concerned with that area right now.

We do have evacuations, of course, in those homes right there and in the path of this fire.  So we‘re evacuating.  And we also have assistance from law enforcement, assisting with any road closures or diverting traffic.

SCARBOROUGH:  So how are you attacking the fire specifically at this time?

HARALSON:  We do have multiple units at scene, on the ground.  We do have structure protection in place, many resources that are assigned to any exposures, any structures that have not burned just yet, to pre-treat those structures and put water on them and get ready in the event that the wind direction changes or the fire starts to spread in the direction of the unburned.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Hey, thank you so much.  We greatly appreciate you being with us, Ron Haralson from the LA Fire Department.  Again, the scene out in Malibu, California.  Fires are sweeping across Malibu right by Pepperdine University.  As we heard from Ron, fortunately, the winds right now blowing away from the university and towards the ocean.  You just saw a small explosion there by that home which is being devoured by fire.  So we will be following this, obviously, throughout the hour.

But coming up straight ahead, Bill O‘Reilly‘s continued war with NBC.  What‘s driving his crusade not only against news programs like this but also against fake shows like “ER” and “Law & Order”?  We‘ll ask and find out.  But first, it‘s a battle of the censors Jimmy Kimmel-style.  “Must See S.C.” coming up next.  And later: Tan, rested, and ready to rumble, Rosie‘s back from vacation.  We‘re going to show you what she‘s saying about the Donald today and why neither side is ready to stop this smackdown.  Plus, David Letterman is now jumping into the nasty battle.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, it‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” some video you just got to see.  First up: These days, the Democrats aren‘t the only ones breathing down the president‘s neck.  David Letterman brings us another great moment in presidential speeches.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  ... that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself!

JOHN F. KENNEDY, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country!

GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  One, two, three, four...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  I love it!  And finally, Jimmy Kimmel reminds us what our favorite shows would look like if the censors ruled the world.  Take a look.  What‘s with that mustache?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  Jerry Ford was born and bred in the American heartland.  He belonged to a generation that measured men by their honesty and their (DELETED).

DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN, TRUMP ORGANIZATION:  You have a choice, (INAUDIBLE) You can sit back or you can (DELETED).  And you know, I‘m a (DELETED).  I chose to (DELETED).  And I think I‘ve done a very good job.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What do you think?  It‘s our “Showbiz Tonight” question of the day.  Britney‘s new year, is she blowing any (DELETED) for a comeback?

BARBARA WALTERS, “THE VIEW”:  You said that it‘s a question of (DELETED) him or killing him.

OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST:  This has been fulfilling, the most rewarding experience of my life.  It has (DELETED) me up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  I can‘t believe—can you believe Oprah would talk that way?  (INAUDIBLE) school.  Anyway, still ahead, Rosie is back from vacation and back on the attack, saying the Donald is obsessed with her.  She also said that about me.  And I think actually (INAUDIBLE) obsessed (INAUDIBLE) But we‘re going to show you her latest comments coming up.  But first, speaking of obsessed, more of Bill O‘Reilly‘s crusade against NBC News and now NBC entertainment shows like “Law & Order” and “ER.”  We‘re going to take a look at the real reason he‘s picking on the peacock.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Bill O‘Reilly‘s strange obsession with NBC continues.  He‘s already gone after everybody here, from David Gregory to Brian Williams, even throwing Al Roker under the bus.  His contempt for all things NBC even led him to go after the show “Law & Order” this afternoon on his radio show for a supposed left-wing agenda.  And tonight, he went after the hit NBC show “ER.”  Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST:  NBC is taking a sharp turn to the left, not only in their news department, but also in their entertainment programming.  Listen to this from ER.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE:  We might have been responsible for the attack, obviously.  We will do the...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I can‘t even look at her. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Do you think she‘s a role model? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Not for me...

(CROSSTALK) 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  If Shakita (ph) needs a role model, she can turn on Oprah. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Well, but what if Shakita wants to be secretary of state? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Well, then she can look up Madeleine Albright. 

O‘REILLY:  Now, that scene was completely unnecessary to the narrative in “ER.”  It was thrown in there simply to demean Secretary Rice.  This kind of thing is happening more at more at NBC, and these two men are the reason.  Programming chief Jeff Zucker presides over both news and entertainment and supposedly answers to Robert Wright, although many believe Wright is on his way out. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  So why has Bill O‘Reilly singled out NBC for rage?  Here now is Bob Waldman.  He‘s a senior fellow at the media watchdog group, Media Matters.  And Bob Kohn, he‘s the author of “Journalistic Fraud.”  Also, MSNBC political analyst Craig Crawford.  He‘s the author, appropriately enough, of “Attack the Messenger.”

Paul Waldman, let me begin with you.  You studied Bill O‘Reilly for an outfit that Bill would say obviously leans left.  Why is he obsessed with NBC?  Why has he now expanded it beyond NBC News?  Why is he now going after NBC Entertainment, when, of course, we could go after FOX Entertainment shows and movies all night that have their own liberal bias? 

PAUL WALDMAN, MEDIA MATTERS FOR AMERICA:  Well, maybe it‘s because his attacks on the NBC News division have become so ridiculous.  And this all started when NBC decided that they were going to call the civil war in Iraq a civil war. 

Now he‘s mad because an NBC reporter said that the execution of Saddam Hussein was a P.R. problem for the United States, which it is.  And so what we find is, when people actually state the facts but they happen to be facts that don‘t reflect too well on the Bush administration, he calls it “liberal bias.”  And there... 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, hold on a second.  You know what, though, Paul Waldman?  What we have to point out, too, is if NBC News is biased, then the guy who‘s really my favorite columnist, Charles Krauthammer, who works for FOX News, who‘s won a Pulitzer Prize, who‘s been long-called one of the smartest conservatives, a neo-con, this is what he had to say also about the hanging. 

He said, “It was a rushed, botched, unholy mess that exposed the hopelessly sectarian nature of the Maliki government.”  And, of course, Krauthammer was one of the reasons why I supported this war from the beginning, Paul.  And now he says the hanging has shown that this government in Iraq is not worth more troops. 

Why doesn‘t Bill O‘Reilly go after the “Washington Post”?  Why doesn‘t Bill O‘Reilly go after FOX News?  They have Krauthammer on their payroll, don‘t they? 

WALDMAN:  Yes.  And, you know, as they once said on “The Daily Show,” the facts have a well-known liberal bias.  And I think this is the problem that Bill O‘Reilly has. 

When things don‘t go well for the Bush administration, anybody who says that is obviously carrying water for the liberals or the Democrats, and so he‘s lashing out at NBC.  But, you know, I noticed, Joe, that you challenged him to a debate, which he has not yet said that he‘s going to meet that challenge. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, of course, here‘s my challenge.  My challenge to Bill O‘Reilly, because he said there wasn‘t a single conservative at NBC News—I think Tucker Carlson and I would both disagree.  And I said I would be very willing to debate Bill O‘Reilly anytime, any place, anywhere, and we can debate who the real conservative was and who the Republican suck-up was, because I‘m saying the same thing now that I was saying back in the 1990s when Bill Clinton was president, when everybody was calling me a right-wing lunatic.  I haven‘t changed; everybody else has. 

WALDMAN:  And, you know, Bill O‘Reilly likes to say that, if you attack somebody but you don‘t have the courage to face them, then you‘re a coward.  He calls people cowards when they won‘t come on his show.  He‘s attacked Media Matters.  We‘ve asked to appear on his show to answer his charges.  He won‘t do it.  He‘s criticized NBC.  You‘ve challenged him.  He‘s not going to do it, because the fact is that the coward is Bill O‘Reilly. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I‘m not going to call him a coward, but I will say this:  I‘ve always defended Bill O‘Reilly, and then he said that somehow NBC News, the people that I worked for, and myself, also, were aiding, basically, the enemy, that we were supporting the enemy when we called this thing a civil war. 

Hey, I called Bosnia and Kosovo a civil war back in ‘95, ‘96, ‘97, and the sectarian violence in Iraq is at least as bad as the sectarian violence right now—as it was in Kosovo as it is now.  Now, O‘Reilly tried to corner Andrea Mitchell into naming one conservative at NBC News.  Take a look at this exchange. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O‘REILLY:  Can you tell me one conservative thinker at NBC News? 

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT:  How do you define conservative? 

O‘REILLY:  Well, traditional values, maybe supports...

MITCHELL:  Are you talking about commentators or are you talking about...

O‘REILLY:  Anybody.  Give me anybody.  Is there anybody over there who‘s conservative, in your opinion? 

MITCHELL:  Yes, I think there are a lot of people who are...

O‘REILLY:  Give me one!

MITCHELL:  ... who are privately conservative or privately liberal. 

O‘REILLY:  Give me one.

MITCHELL:  But we don‘t judge ourselves by how we approach the news. 

(CROSSTALK)

O‘REILLY:  OK, I just look at all your on-the-air talent in “The Today Show,” and I love those guys, all right?  They‘re all liberal, every one of them. 

MITCHELL:  I disagree. 

O‘REILLY:  All right?  They all admit they‘re liberal, Andrea.  Have you asked Lauer, and Vieira, and Ann Curry?  They‘ll admit they‘re liberal.  And when Katie was there, she admitted she was liberal.  Come on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Bob Kohn, can you name one conservative that‘s employed by NBC News? 

BOB KOHN, AUTHOR:  Joe Scarborough. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Thank you, buddy.  Ding, ding, ding, ding, you win!  Why is Bill O‘Reilly doing this?  Is this really about the fact that he‘s very angry that he went after Keith Olbermann, Keith Olbermann went after him, and they started this feud that‘s going to make Keith Olbermann a very rich man? 

KOHN:  No, I think Bill O‘Reilly considers himself a media watchdog.  And there are a lot of media watchdogs out there, like Media Matters.  And when he sees something he doesn‘t like or where there‘s something that‘s biased, he calls them on the carpet. 

I think it‘s very clear that NBC News has become—has been leaning to the left very sharply over the—particularly over the past six months.  So he‘s just a media watchdog.  And, by the way, Bill O‘Reilly...

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold it. 

(CROSSTALK)

KOHN:  No, you hold on. 

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, go ahead. 

KOHN:  OK, one sec, because a minute ago I think I heard you say that he never criticizes FOX Entertainment.  Well, he has.  As you remember, he highly criticizes FOX Entertainment for trying to put on that O.J.  interview a few weeks ago. 

You know, I was on this show saying that FOX Entertainment made a mistake, that Murdoch should have allowed that interview, because in the furtherance of the truth.  You disagreed with that, but you and O‘Reilly agreed.  And O‘Reilly made a public battle, and I think he was responsible for Murdoch‘s not showing that interview.  And they dropped that O.J.  Simpson book.

So O‘Reilly does criticize both sides.  He does it all the time.  And because he‘s criticizing NBC for being biased—he‘s done that against “The New York Times”—I think you‘re making a big deal, really, out of nothing here. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Making something out of nothing?  The guy has basically said that we support terrorists in Iraq.  I think it‘s very significant.

KOHN:  No, look, I watched NBC News tonight, and Brian Williams this evening had a story about Bush‘s proposal to increase troops in Iraq.  He had three experts on the air discussing that proposal; not one of those experts supported Bush‘s plan.  They all were against it, so that‘s bias.  There‘s no...

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what, though?  Here‘s the problem.  Hold on a second.  You know what, Bob Kohn?  You and I for years have been attacking networks because they will take a position that 90 percent of Americans support and they‘ll always make sure that they get one person—if 90 percent of conservatives support it, they‘ll get one conservative then liberal supporting that 10 percent proposition.

And yet here we have a situation where a current “L.A. Times” poll—a recent “L.A. Times” poll shows only 12 percent of Americans support the Bush troop surge.  Well, it‘s kind of hard to get somebody that‘s going to go on as an expert that‘s going to support this troop surge with...

(CROSSTALK)

KOHN:  Oh, come on, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Come on.  Come on.

KOHN:  Tell me that NBC News couldn‘t find one person in Washington, one expert who could have supported the Bush administration.  Give me a break. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I guess the more important question is:  Should they? 

KOHN:  Come on. 

SCARBOROUGH:  When you‘re talking about a surge where all five Joint Chiefs are opposed to it, and only 12 percent of Americans support it...

KOHN:  Three of—no, that‘s not fair and balanced.  You have three experts on.  You can have one of them that supports it.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what?  I will remember this, Bob, the next time we have a position where conservatives are on the side of 90 percent of the American population, and you complain because NBC News puts one liberal and one conservative on there. 

KOHN:  Yes, when the public supported the tax cuts, they were railing against the tax cuts.  We‘re never going to see that happen.  We‘re never going to see NBC News—Andrea Mitchell is completely wrong.  You‘re never going to see fair and balanced at NBC News, particularly these days, because Brian Williams is losing out to Charles Gibson on ABC.  His ratings are going down.

SCARBOROUGH:  Losing out?  My god.  Give me a break.  I mean, listen, I‘m not going to debate NBC‘s ratings.  You can go on TV Newser every night and see how we do in the mornings, see how we do on “Meet the Press”...

(CROSSTALK)

KOHN:  Take a look at Brian Williams.

(CROSSTALK)

CRAIG CRAWFORD, COLUMNIST, “CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY”:  The argument that I‘m hearing here is a classic example of trying to say that to be objective you have to be neutral.  There‘s a very big difference between the two. 

I mean, sometimes the truth is just not neutral, because somebody is hurt by it.  Somebody gets hurt by the truth, and you can‘t be neutral.  I mean, the objectivity is to present what is the facts of a story. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Craig Crawford, you‘ve worked here for 10 years, Craiger.  Is NBC biased?

CRAWFORD:  And to say NBC is being partisan because the news it‘s reporting is not favorable to the Republicans, because it‘s not neutral, doesn‘t mean that they‘re not being objective.  Now...

KOHN:  I didn‘t suggest that. 

CRAWFORD:  I worked for this channel.  I‘ve worked for MSNBC for 10 years.  I‘ve known lots of people at this channel.  I‘ve talked to them many times off the air.  I know plenty of people who are conservative or who are liberal.

(CROSSTALK)

KOHN:  Oh, come on.  You‘re an NBC analyst.  You‘re getting paid to do this. 

CRAWFORD:  You know, it‘s a phony argument.  It‘s a red herring...

KOHN:  You‘re getting paid.  You‘re an NBC analyst.

(CROSSTALK)

CRAWFORD:  ... to say that somebody is not objective because they‘re a liberal or because they‘re a conservative.

(CROSSTALK)  

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Bob...

CRAWFORD:  And, you know, this guy doesn‘t even want to hear what somebody else has to say, which is typical. 

KOHN:  I want to see NBC News report the news and to at least give us fair and balanced experts telling us one side, why they think one person thinks it‘s a good policy, why another thinks it‘s a bad policy, and I‘ll make up my own mind. 

(CROSSTALK)

KOHN:  ... NBC News had three experts on saying that they all think the policy is...

CRAWFORD:  Not every story has two equal and opposite sides.  And that‘s what you‘re arguing...

(CROSSTALK)

KOHN:  Day after day after day, that‘s what‘s going on.  NBC is turning way to the left. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Day after day after day? 

(CROSSTALK)

KOHN:  ... their ratings are going down.  Yes, for years.  Come on, Joe, you agree.  You‘ve agreed, NBC, ABC, CBS...

SCARBOROUGH:  The ratings are going—you know what?  Not to blow our own horn, but if you go on TV Newser tonight and look at ratings, year to year—and I think it‘s the latest post—I think Olbermann is up 50 percent year to year.  I‘m up 48 percent year to year.  O‘Reilly is down 24 percent.  All of the FOX shows are down over the past year.  Who‘s going up and who‘s going down?  I don‘t think it‘s a close call. 

KOHN:  Oh, a close call?  Come on.  O‘Reilly has 2.5 million viewers every night.  Olbermann has what, 600,000? 

SCARBOROUGH:  You‘re the one that‘s talking about trends.

(CROSSTALK)

KOHN:  That‘s nearly five times the audience?

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Bob Kohn, no, but we‘re not talking about apples and oranges.  You‘re talking about NBC News is losing right now because they‘re going liberal.  What I‘m telling you is our ratings have gone up.  “Meet the Press” is still the king on Sunday morning. 

KOHN:  I‘m not talking about “Meet the Press.”  I‘m talking about Brian Williams.

SCARBOROUGH:  “The Today Show” is the kind, and Brian Williams is still holding his own.  He has been for quite some time. 

KOHN:  Just barely.  Just barely.  Charlie Gibson has been gaining on him. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, just barely, number one, just barely. 

(CROSSTALK)

KOHN:  You know.  You have to admit it.  Come on.

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘ll end up with you, Paul.  All right, Bob, we don‘t always agree, but we usually do, but tonight I just can‘t agree with you. 

Paul Waldman, finally, the question is—because Bob Kohn said NBC News needed to be fair and balanced.  Is Bill O‘Reilly fair and balanced? 

WALDMAN:  Oh, of course not. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I mean, Bill O‘Reilly said that he takes a position.

KOHN:  Bill O‘Reilly is a commentator.

WALDMAN:  And the fact is that NBC News isn‘t liberal.  I mean, at Media Matters over the past two years, we‘ve located over 1,100 instances of conservative misinformation being passed through on NBC News.  And NBC and MSNBC.  And you have conservative hosts—you don‘t have any liberal hosts... 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now this is a liberal organization?  Come on.

WALDMAN:  That‘s a way of not dealing with an argument that you don‘t happen to like.  And the fact that President Bush‘s voice is balanced by some people who disagree with President Bush is not liberal bias.  That‘s the facts. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  We‘ve got to go.  Bob Kohn, I‘m usually with you.  You‘re usually on the side of the angels.  Tonight, though, we knew that you were so powerful, we teamed up on you three to one, just to prove how liberal we really were.  Well, I‘m a conservative, right?  So I think it‘s two conservatives, two liberals.  But you did a great job.  I appreciate you being here tonight.  Sorry to team up on you. 

Thank you, Paul.  Thank you, Craig Crawford.  Greatly appreciate it. 

Coming up next, the very latest on the wildfires in Malibu.  We‘re going to give you an update right after the break. 

Plus, Rosie retaliates.  Trump stands his ground, and Barbara is caught in the middle.  We‘re going to show you the latest round in this increasingly nasty war of words. 

And later, the Britney and K-Fed custody battle.  It‘s the good news, it‘s been resolved for now.  Bad news, one of them gets to keep the kids. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You‘re looking at a live scene in Malibu, California, where a wildfire fanned by the Santa Ana winds has destroyed eight seaside mansions and damaged five others tonight, as it spread over more than 10 acres.  And, of course, as we said earlier, it is just acres away from Pepperdine University, as you go up the Pacific Coast Highway, just north of the L.A., in the very exclusive enclave of Malibu, California. 

We‘re going to continue giving you the updates on this throughout the hour and the night, only here on MSNBC. 

Well, also, talk about fire and fireworks, on the other side of the continent, Rosie is back from vacation, and she‘s picking up right where she left off:  bashing Donald Trump.  Today, Barbara Walters was forced to once again get in the middle of that feud.  Take a look. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARBARA WALTERS, HOST, “THE VIEW”:  I would like to just hope that, once and for all, we could rise above it. 

ROSIE O‘DONNELL, HOST, “THE VIEW”:  It‘s not we; it‘s him.  He‘s doing every show in America.  He‘ll be on QVC...

(CROSSTALK)

WALTERS:  We don‘t have to do that.

O‘DONNELL:  You know, today on QVC it‘s Donald Trump.  “Rosie is fat, and she‘s a loser.  She‘s a fat loser and degenerate.  She‘s a loser.” 

JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, “THE VIEW”:  “So buy this.” 

O‘DONNELL:  “So buy this.” 

BEHAR:  “So buy this toupee.”

O‘DONNELL:  Whatever. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  So are they both going at it to boost ratings for “The View” and “The Apprentice”?  And when will this nasty war of words end?  Here right now is Tina Dirmann.  She‘s “Star” magazine editor-at-large. 

And Steve Adubato, he‘s MSNBC media analyst. 

Ms. Dirmann, is Rosie in it for the ratings?  Is that what this war is all about?  Is that what it‘s about for Trump?

TINA DIRMANN, “STAR” MAGAZINE:  You know, it‘s odd that these wars do go into this ratings kind of hype, but you know what?  We‘re talking about two people with major egos here.  And I think, if their ratings happen to go up, that‘s a nice side issue, but this is ego versus ego.  And each one of them wants to have the last word here.  That‘s why it keeps going on and on and on.  One says something, the other one‘s got to answer back.  And so, you know, it‘s this monster that keeps on feeding and feeding. 

STEVE ADUBATO, MEDIA ANALYST:  Joe? 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Steve, obviously, Barbara Walters today was saying, “Enough,” but Rosie didn‘t listen. 

ADUBATO:  Well, it is clear that Rosie is not going to listen to Barbara.  My sense is Barbara is old school.  Barbara is one of these people who doesn‘t believe you should be critical of other people in the business so publicly in such a nasty way. 

But the fact is, it has been good for the ratings for “The View,” because the audience skews female.  Women don‘t like—nor should anyone like to be called—a fat pig.  And they really rallied behind Rosie. 

I believe that Trump has made a calculated mistake.  It hasn‘t helped “The Apprentice‘s” ratings out of the box.  And I have to tell you, he‘s losing it.  He‘s losing it bad.  I don‘t think Rosie should have opened her mouth today.  She wins by shutting up, but she‘s fueling it again. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Does Trump end it, Tina, with “The Apprentice” going out of the gates? 

DIRMANN:  I don‘t think he‘s going to end it because he thinks that maybe “The Apprentice” didn‘t do so well because of this war.  I happen to don‘t think that‘s true.  Anyway, I think “The Apprentice” has been weaning in interest for years anyway. 

You know, Donald Trump is a guy that‘s known to be a character.  He‘s going to say what‘s on his mind.  And we are going to hear from him.  You know, he is not going to let this go unanswered, mark my words.  If she‘s on her show, you know, mouthing off, at her bully pulpit, he‘s going to be right back at it.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, I apologize.  We‘ve had a lot of breaking news tonight out of California.  We‘re going to have to leave it there.  Tina Dirmann, Steve Adubato, you only answered once, but what an answer that was, Steve. 

“Hollyweird” is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Tell your agent you‘re mad because you didn‘t get enough time because of breaking news.  It‘s time for “Hollyweird.”

First up, Britney Spears.  “US Weekly” is reporting she reached a custody agreement with ex-husband Kevin Federline that works in her favor.  Here now to talk about it, Jill Dobson from “Star” magazine and Cristina Gibson, an online reporter for E!‘s The Awful Truth. 

Let‘s start with you, Jill.  I guess the bad news is these children have to live with one of them, right? 

JILL DOBSON, “STAR” MAGAZINE:  Exactly.  It looks like so far Britney is winning the custody war.  According to the terms of the agreement that have been published in several newspapers and magazines, Kevin can visit the children at Britney‘s home Monday, Wednesday and Friday from noon to 4:00.  So it sounds like it‘s very much in her favor, exactly what she wants is how it‘s going.  That‘s just for the month of January.  After January, who knows? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Cristina, give us the awful truth about this story. 

Britney behaves badly, still wins.  Why? 

CRISTINA GIBSON, E! ONLINE REPORTER:  This agreement was actually decided by Britney and Kevin.  This was not decided by the courts.  It‘s important to remember that they came to this agreement. 

This is not reflecting, you know, her bad behavior and perpetual partying.  If the courts did decide custody, they might, you know, not go in Britney‘s favor, considering her behavior.  But this is an agreement that the two of them came to.  So, of course, it‘s in Britney‘s favor.  But I mean, really, can you see Kevin Federline trotting around with two toddlers 24/7?  I don‘t think so.

SCARBOROUGH:  No, I think that would be very ugly, Cristina. 

Jill Dobson, and Kevin expects to make some money, too, off of Britney, doesn‘t he?

DOBSON:  That‘s what a lot of people are expecting.  I actually think Kevin‘s been shown to be a very good father to his previous two children that he had with Shar Jackson.  And I think that he wants to see his children, but a lot of people take the cynical view that you seem to have, Joe, which is that he wants these kids so that he can get the money that goes with having custody.  We‘ll have to see. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, I would never be so cynical.  Jill Dobson, Cristina Gibson, sorry for the breaking news.  We‘ll see you tomorrow in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

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

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2007 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2007 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 MSNBC 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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