updated 3/23/2007 11:29:22 AM ET 2007-03-23T15:29:22

Guests: Joan Walsh, Michael Crowley, Matthew Felling, Steve Adubato

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  And tonight, ABC‘s Rosie O‘Donnell suggests the U.S. government was responsible for the September 11 attacks.  Is Rosie presiding over Barbara Walters‘s sad demise?  That story coming up.

But first: Congress stares down George W. Bush and says enough is enough, declaring that the White House is no longer going to dictate the terms of the U.S. attorney crisis or any other matter with Congress.  Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee ignored White House demands and went ahead and drew up subpoenas to drag Karl Rove to Capitol Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE:  Why not take what we can get in the interests of...

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN:  No, we‘re told what we can get is nothing, nothing, nothing.  We are told that we can have a closed-door meeting with no transcript, not under oath, limited number of people, and the White House will determine what the agenda is.  That to me is nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Meanwhile, embattled attorney general Alberto Gonzales told Congress and the world he would not step down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALBERTO GONZALES, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL:  I‘m not going to resign.  I‘m going to stay focused on protecting our kids.  There‘s a lot of work that needs to be done around the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And while the attorney general is focusing on kids, his top aide, Kyle Sampson, voluntarily agreed to the Judiciary Committee‘s request to testify, certainly sending chills down the spines of more than one White House official.  But he requested more time to review the matter.  Now, tonight the White House is once again in crisis mode, having to decide whether to submit to what George W. Bush calls a “show trial” or risk being held in contempt of Congress.  There seem to be few good options for George Bush tonight.

Here now, Joan Walsh, editor-in-chief for Salon.com, Michael Crowley, senior editor for “The New Republic,” and MSNBC political analyst and two-time presidential contender and former White House communication director Pat Buchanan.  Now, Pat has a personal understanding of this fight.  He was called to testify about Watergate as a special assistant to Richard Nixon.  We‘ll ask him about that in a minute.

But first, Joan Walsh, I want to circle back around.  I just want to show you a clip, if we can do it—show you a clip of a visibly angry Patrick Leahy.  I want you to listen to him briefly again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEAHY:  ... is nothing, nothing, nothing.  We are told that we can have a closed-door meeting with no transcript, not under oath, limited number of people, and the White House will determine what the agenda is.  That to me is nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Joan Walsh, why is Patrick Leahy and the rest of the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee so angry at this White House?

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM:  Because they‘re tired of getting stonewalled,

and frankly, Joe, they‘re tired of getting lied to.  You know, television -

sometimes anger doesn‘t go very well on television.  But Pat Leahy—that was dramatic television this afternoon.  I had it on in my office, and I looked up, and was, like, Whoa!  This is...

SCARBOROUGH:  A lot of Democrats have been waiting a long time to see that, haven‘t they, Joan.

WALSH:  Absolutely.  Yes, we have, and not for vindictive reasons but because there really needs to be a lot more spine in the way the Congress deals with this White House.  Now you‘ve got Chuck Grassley today coming out and siding with the Democrats, so again this is not just a partisan thing.  This is not just a partisan witchhunt.  But I think you saw a very dignified older gentleman at the end of his rope with this White House, and it doesn‘t bode well for Karl Rove.  And the other thing (INAUDIBLE) interesting today, I think they have to be afraid of what Sampson is going to say.  Sampson is once again—there‘s always a fall guy.

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it.

WALSH:  I think it‘s going to be very interesting to hear what he decides to say under oath.  He‘s willing to go under oath.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, there‘s no doubt you‘re exactly right, Joan.  Kyle Sampson got thrown overboard, along with Harriet Miers, the second this story went south.  And for Kyle Sampson to say, Yes, I will go testify under oath...

WALSH:  That‘s scary.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... certainly does have to send some chills up and down the spines of people at the White House.

I want you all to take a look at White House press secretary Tony Snow.  This guy was under fire this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘ve seen some people in the House and the Senate are pretty well aware of what the deal is, and that is basically you‘ve offered a chat.  These guys can go—Karl Rove, Harriet Miers can go...

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  No.  No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No, no, no—go down to the Hill...

SNOW:  No, wait—wait, Harry.  Harry, first, you know, what you‘ve done is you‘ve framed the issue falsely, so let me help you out a little bit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh, no.

SNOW:  Then you can...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK, let‘s—let‘s find out...

SNOW:  ... because the American public needs to understand what...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, OK, let‘s cut to the chase.  Why not go down there and let these people testify under oath?  Even from a cursory look at these e-mails, it looks like it reaches much farther than the Justice Department.

SNOW:  No, it doesn‘t.  What it means—what—if you take a look at the e-mails, Harry, it appears that there was some communications like, Well, we‘re thinking about...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Karl Rove wasn‘t involved.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Harriet Miers wasn‘t involved.  Come on!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Michael Crowley, Tony Snow is out there trying to defend the indefensible, isn‘t he.

MICHAEL CROWLEY, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”:  Yes.  I think he‘s probably longing for his desk back at Fox News right about now.  I mean, that job was a little bit easier for him.  And you know, this is a White House that is just—I mean, it really has to be kind of a bunker mentality.  The only thing they‘re not apologizing for right now is, you know, Barney having fleas.  I mean, it just seems to be everything they touch goes sour.

But more seriously, I mean, I think they really do feel like—the Leahy thing was very interesting.  They don‘t respect this Congress.  I think, in some ways, they don‘t respect the Democratic majority, and they‘ve long had the feeling that they‘re not accountable, that there shouldn‘t—they don‘t have to be accountable to oversight.  They—we constantly see them end-running Congress, the FISA wiretap thing, where they just kind of don‘t tell Congress fundamental things.  And I think on some very important level, this White House does not feel like they really have to go to Congress and explain anything.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, and Michael...

CROWLEY:  So this is just yet another chapter in that.

SCARBOROUGH:  I think Congress also has just lost respect for the White House and they may not trust the White House, especially on this matter, because you actually again have Tony Snow today still refusing to speak for the Department of Justice because—I think because he was forced to go out and lie a couple of days ago about who was responsible for the firing of these U.S. attorneys.

Take a look at Tony Snow three days later, still saying he had no idea what the Justice Department was thinking.  Roll the tape.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW:  I have actually not been briefed by the Department of Justice, and I would suggest...

(CROSSTALK)

SNOW:  No, I actually have not spoken directly with DoJ.  But I‘m glad you asked.  You really need to ask them about it.  The answer we have gotten is that the documents that have been provided are fully responsive to the request from Congress.  But if you want a detailed answer, you really need to go there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Michael Crowley, he‘s the White House spokesman.  He speaks for the administration.  This is the third day he‘s been telling people in the middle of this crisis that he is not going to speak for the Justice Department.  Do we have a White House spokesman that doesn‘t trust the Bush administration?

CROWLEY:  Sure.  I mean, you know, I mentioned this the other night, but you know, Scott McClellan went out on a limb, and they totally sawed it out from under him with the whole Valerie Plame thing, when you know, he made statements to the press that were later no longer operative.  And I think this goes to why Democrats file like, Look, have these come people up, testify in public, because they feel like they‘re not getting straight answers, they‘ve been misled.  There‘s just no trust anymore.

And frankly, I have to say, you know, I‘m sympathetic to some of these broad principles about, you know, advisers to the president, there should be private process and consultation.  But this White House has burned its credibility.  It‘s burned the benefit of the doubt that it might have been entitled to at one point.  And at this point, I think, really, Democrats have a pretty good case to say, Come up under the klieg lights, in front of the cameras, testify, let the public see the bottom line of what‘s going on here.  You know, let‘s get this out in the open.

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Buchanan, is there no more good will between this White House and Congress?

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  I don‘t think there should be, frankly.  Look, the Congress of the United States...

SCARBOROUGH:  Why don‘t you believe that, Pat?  Explain why you don‘t think there should be.

BUCHANAN:  Well, because I don‘t think the Congress—I mean, the president should have much respect for this Congress.  Joe, they‘ve been fooling around with this thing.  These are political appointees.  They were politically removed.  There‘s been a lot of misstatements about why they were removed.  But if they‘re fired for political reasons, so what?  If I‘m the president of the United States now—look, this thing has gone on so long, it‘s gotten to the point where, in my judgment, the Democrats are trying to drag it out.  They want to bring Rove up and the rest of it.

If I were the president, I‘d say, Look, you got Sampson.  You have a right to him.  You have a right to anybody in the Justice Department.  Go ahead and send your damn subpoenas up to the White House.  We‘re going to reject the subpoenas.  We‘re going to go to the Supreme Court.  So go ahead with your hearings.  And just cut it off.

SCARBOROUGH:  And what if lose?  I mean, if they lose...

BUCHANAN:  Well, they‘re going to hold them in contempt...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... going to be in contempt of Congress.

BUCHANAN:  Well, I‘d say, I am in concept of Congress.  Send down the citation.  We‘re going to the U.S. Supreme Court with this.  Have a constitutional confrontation.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY:  What about the rule of law?

WALSH:  Pat, I understand...

BUCHANAN:  Well, it‘s the rule of law is...

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY:  How can you say, So what if these guys were fired for political reasons?  So what?  I mean, isn‘t that a shocking, you know...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Isn‘t that shocking.  Isn‘t that shocking that politicians...

WALSH:  It‘s not that...

BUCHANAN:  ... were fired for political reasons?  Look, the one in Idaho is so incompetent, she can‘t get a job.  The one in San Diego clearly didn‘t do what she was supposed to do.  And a lot of these folks—I mean, people are weeping and crying over these characters.  Look, they‘re political appointees.  The president has a right to fire them.

CROWLEY:  But the politics is not supposed to be...

WALSH:  Pat, you can only fire...

CROWLEY:  ... you indict the president‘s enemies and you‘re nice to the president‘s friends.  I‘m sorry, Joan.

BUCHANAN:  Well, OK.  It was done.  So what?

CROWLEY:  Well, it seems bad to me...

WALSH:  You can‘t say, “So what,” Pat.  If it was done for sort of garden variety political reasons, that‘s one thing.  If it was done to obstruct justice, that‘s another thing.

BUCHANAN:  Well, look...

WALSH:  And second of all, you say—no, let me finish.  You say every night, this happens all the time.  You know what?  Since 1981, only five of 500 U.S. attorneys have been removed mid-term, and one of them, it was for biting a stripper.

BUCHANAN:  All right.  Well, look—Joan—Joan...

WALSH:  So this doesn‘t happen all the time.

BUCHANAN:  All right, and you‘ve made your point.

WALSH:  This is not garden variety...

BUCHANAN:  You made your point.  You‘ve made your point.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  All right, now, look, let them send the subpoenas up, OK?  And only five—that really doesn‘t make any difference.  But let me just say...

WALSH:  It does make a difference.

BUCHANAN:  Look—look, these folks, I believe, were fired for justified reasons.  If they were not, go get the Department of Justice people up and quiz them for the reasons they were fired, condemn the folks that did it.  I don‘t know where this thing all leads.  The truth is...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I‘ll tell you what...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘re going to find out where it leads if Democrats get Karl Rove under oath, as Joan Walsh just said.  And last night, Jon Stewart asked why Karl Rove won‘t testify under oath.  Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  I don‘t know why Karl Rove can‘t just walk up to Congress, put his hand on the Bible and tell the (DELETED) truth.

(APPLAUSE)

JOHN OLIVER, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  Well, that is all very well, Jon, but I think we all remember what happened the last time he did that.  The room smelled like burnt bacon for three weeks.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, forget the joke there.  But Joan, why doesn‘t Karl Rove go up and testify on Capitol Hill?

WALSH:  Because I think that the evidence would show that if he told the truth—now Pat accused me last night of accusing Karl Rove of perjury.  He has not perjured himself yet, and he doesn‘t have to.  He can put his hand up and swear to tell the truth and actually tell the truth.  But I think if he does, Joe, you‘ll find out that politics, in a very bad way, was at the center of these decisions, not merely in, Let‘s reward some friends, but, Let‘s get rid of people.  We‘ve got four of these prosecutors who were in the middle of investigations of Republican lawmakers.  We‘ve got another two of them who would not be aggressive enough, according to Rove, in investigating Democrats...

BUCHANAN:  All right, Joan...

WALSH:  ... for voter fraud.  That‘s six.

BUCHANAN:  Joan, let me respond to that.  Now (INAUDIBLE) I have not seen a single e-mail, and even “The New York Times” said there do not appear to be any e-mails where folks are talking about interrupting investigations of Republican congressmen.  Let me agree with you...

WALSH:  Well, they kept that...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  If those e-mails are there and there is a deliberate interference, I would call for, myself, a special prosecutor to investigate somebody in the Justice Department who clearly tried to abort an investigation.  That has not been shown.

Rove is the president‘s closest confidant.  Congress cannot call up—if the president gives this up, let me tell you, you will never have a president get confidential information, if guys like Leahy can get on the phone and say, I want to know some answers, send up your top aides.  That is preposterous!

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Michael Crowley...

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY:  I mean, I think, look, it‘s not—you know, I don‘t think Democrats should dismiss that argument out of hand, especially because I think there‘s a very high likelihood that there‘s going to be a Democratic president very soon.  And so they do have to be mindful of how some of these precedents will be turned back against them.  But I don‘t think this is a crazy fishing expedition.  There‘s a lot of smoke here.  It‘s reasonable to try to find out whether there‘s fire.

Pat himself—I think he just said something to the effect of, You don‘t know where this goes.  Let‘s find out where it goes.  And the fact that this White House has been misleading, has said things that have turned out to be untrue, whether or not they were intentional lies—the whole thing just kind of smells funny.  I think, therefore, you can say, All right, the president is not great (ph), but this case, we got to look into it more carefully.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Michael Crowley, Pat Buchanan and Joan Walsh, thank you so much.  And you can check out Joan‘s blog at Salon.com.  And also, we‘re going to get a lot more answers when the gap of those e-mails from the Justice Department is explained better.  And when that gap is explained, we will know whether investigations were thwarted.  But again, we even have Tony Snow, the White House spokesman, refusing to speculate on that.  That means, I think, some more bad news is coming for this White House.

But coming up here, Matt Lauer‘s exclusive, a jailhouse confession from the man at the center of the deadly teacher love triangle.  We‘ll show you the emotional interview with the husband accused of killing a student who was having an affair with his wife and his shocking confession on camera.

Plus:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSIE O‘DONNELL, “THE VIEW”:  Wait, wait.  Elisabeth, you have to stop.  You have to stop.  You can ask a question, but you can‘t just blather on your opinion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  But that‘s exactly what Rosie does.  She crosses a line with her latest political rant, but this time, will she bring down Barbara Walters with her?  The latest “View” controversy ahead and how Rosie blames America for 9/11.

And later: Is America tone deaf?  We‘re going to look at one of the great mysteries of the modern age, how this guy lasted one more week on “American Idol.”  Did the producers manipulate the vote?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  A student/teacher sex scandal turns deadly.  It‘s a murder that rocked the city of Knoxville, Tennessee, leaving an 18-year-old high school senior dead.  It all started with an alleged affair between a high school teacher, Erin McLean, and her student, Sean Powell, and police say it ended with Erin‘s husband gunning down the student right in front of their home and taking off into the woods.

NBC‘s Matt Lauer got an exclusive jailhouse interview with McLean, and he revealed in great detail what happened and what drove him to kill the young man.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT LAUER, “TODAY” CO-HOST:  Did you hear anything about Sean Powell from your sons?  Did they ever mention that Erin saw him or that they met him?

ERIC MCLEAN, CHARGED WITH SHOOTING WIFE‘S TEENAGE LOVER:  Yes, a couple weeks ago, they did.

LAUER:  What did they say to you?

BRUCE POSTON, MCLEAN‘S ATTORNEY:  It‘s OK.

MCLEAN:  They said that they went to the park with her and with Sean, and that they were holding hands and stuff like that.

LAUER:  And so did you immediately confront Erin with that information?  I mean, the husband‘s next logical question would be...

MCLEAN:  Yes, I know.

LAUER:  ... Are you having an affair with Sean Powell?

MCLEAN:  Right.

LAUER:  And did you ask her that point blank?

MCLEAN:  I know.  I know.  I‘m just...

LAUER:  You knew that she was having an affair?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (INAUDIBLE)

LAUER:  Why not leave?  Why not leave her?

MCLEAN:  I know.  I just couldn‘t leave her.

LAUER:  Explain that.  Why not?

MCLEAN:  Because I love her!

LAUER:  So March 10, give me your state of mind, then, when Sean Powell comes over to your house.  Is this—you can‘t believe he‘s there?

MCLEAN:  Yes.  I‘d already told my wife that I didn‘t want him to come to the house, and she said that that was fine.  I said, I don‘t want him coming here.  And then I was outside loading stuff up because I was trying to move so we could finish remodeling our house.  And he pulled up, and I told him that he couldn‘t be here and I told him to leave.  And then he didn‘t.

LAUER:  So Sean Powell drives up to your house.  Did he get out of the car?

MCLEAN:  Yes.  He got out of the car, and I told him that he couldn‘t be here.  And then he just started ignoring me and walking through the yard, and I told him...

LAUER:  Did you say, Erin, make him go?

MCLEAN:  I can‘t talk about it.

LAUER:  Make him leave?  OK, well, let me talk about something that‘s already in the public domain, and that‘s quotes from a 911 call, where you basically call and you talk to a 911 operator and you say, There is an intruder in my house.

MCLEAN:  Right.  Right.

LAUER:  An intruder.  I mean, but this is someone you knew.

MCLEAN:  And I told them that.  They said, Do you know who it is?  And I told them.

LAUER:  That this is someone who I think has been stalking my wife.

MCLEAN:  Right.

LAUER:  What else did you tell them?

MCLEAN:  I told them that he had been sleeping in his car in front of my house for two days.

LAUER:  There was a second 911 call made about seven minutes later, and that one was made by Erin.  And during that 911 call, Erin told the dispatcher that, Eric has shot someone.  So I guess I have to ask, what happened in those seven minutes, Eric?

MCLEAN:  I can‘t...

POSTON:  That we can‘t go through.  That‘s going to be.  That‘s critical to the trial.  That‘s...

LAUER (voice-over):  Many of the details of what happened next in this deadly love triangle will be left for a jury to decide, but one critical fact is not in dispute.

(on camera):  And I‘ll ask you point blank, did you shoot Sean Powell?

MCLEAN:  Yes.

LAUER:  Your client, as you know, is facing a first-degree murder charge.

POSTON:  I‘m well aware of that.

LAUER:  Very different from a second degrees murder charge and or a voluntary manslaughter change in the penalties it could bring.  Can I ask Eric point blank, was this an accident?

MCLEAN:  Yes.

LAUER:  Have you had any contact with Erin at all?

MCLEAN:  No.

LAUER:  And if you could talk to her, I mean, what would you want to say to her?

MCLEAN:  I‘m sorry, and I love—you know, I‘m sorry, and I still love her.

LAUER:  And what about your boys?

MCLEAN:  I love them, and I hope I see them again some day.  I think about them all the time.

LAUER:  And finally, to the parents of the family of Sean Powell?

MCLEAN:  Every day, I, like—I think—I feel—I think about Sean‘s family, and I just feel really horrible.  I pray for (INAUDIBLE) for him and his family, and I just wish that—I wish that none of this had happened.  This is a total disaster.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  What a sad story.

Coming up next: Rosie O‘Donnell suggests that the government‘s to blame for September 11 and it was an inside job.  Should ABC muzzle her before she ruins Barbara Walters‘s reputation?  We‘re going to talk about that with some media analysts straight ahead.

But first: Al Gore proves he‘s a heavyweight contender for the presidency.  “Must See S.C.” coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, it‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” some video you just got to see.  First up: Thanks to the Academy Awards, Al Gore has officially hit rock star status.  But maybe you‘re wondering how will Hollywood‘s golden boy weigh in on 2008.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  In the current issue of “Newsweek,” associates of Al Gore say that any weight loss on his part is a likely indicator that he plans to run for president.  And judging from the most recent photos of the former vice president, we can only come to one conclusion: Al Gore will indeed seek the presidency in 2008.  But his enormous ass has chosen to remain in (INAUDIBLE)  Al Gore, fattest ass since Taft.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Holy cow!  It‘s tough!  David Letterman is tough!

And finally: President Bush is taking heat from the Hill, but nothing is more damaging than David Letterman.  He‘s going after both sides in “Great Moments in Presidential Speechmaking.”

(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:  They want us to leave.  That‘s what they want us to do.  And I think the world would be better off if we did leave—if we didn‘t—if we—if we left, the world would be worse.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh!

And coming up: Did Rosie O‘Donnell cross the line again, this time accusing the United States government of being part of a 9/11 conspiracy?  Her latest rant and what it means for Barbara Walters‘s deteriorating reputation.

And later: One of the weakest “Idol” contestants still hasn‘t been kicked off the show.  We‘re going to look at how producers at Fox may be affecting the outcome of the most popular pop culture phenomenon in America right now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  “American Idol” stunned fans by kicking off one of the best singers and keeping one of the worst.  But was the competition rigged from the beginning?  Truth behind the “Idol” shocker ahead.  That story and a lot more in just minutes.

But first, Barbara Walters handpicked co-host Rosie O‘Donnell is now suggesting the United States government was responsible for the September 11 attacks and willingly killed 3,000 Americans at the Twin Towers to protect George W. Bush‘s friends at Enron.  The ABC host said this.

Quote, “Firefighters withdrawing from the area stated the building was going to ‘blow up.‘  WTC-7 contained offices of the FBI, Department of Defense and IRS which contained prodigious amounts of corporate tax fraud, including Enron‘s.”

And on TV, Barbara Walters has allowed Rosie‘s radical rants to be broadcast front and center on Barbara‘s ABC show at the expense of herself and others.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSIE O‘DONNELL, “THE VIEW”:  Elizabeth, you have you to stop.  You have to stop.  You can ask a question but you can‘t just blather on your opinion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And who defends Rosie‘s radical rants?  Well, veteran journalist Barbara Walters.  Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARBARA WALTERS, “THE VIEW”:  Rosie‘s opinions, I‘m now going to say this every day.  Rosie‘s opinions are Rosie‘s opinions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  But are Rosie‘s unhinged ravings causing the sad demise of a once great journalist.

Here now is Matthew Felling, media director for the Center for Media and Public Affairs.  Also with us Steve Adubato, MSNBC media analyst.

I want to ask you first, Matthew Felling, about Barbara Walters.  We‘ve talked about how she had a great career, how she was a trail blazer, but you look at what she is doing now, you look at the fluff pieces for the Academy Awards.  You look at the softball questions that she threw to Hugo Chavez and then “The View.”

“The View” is a train wreck where you‘ve got Rosie O‘Donnell suggesting that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is innocent, misstating facts left and right and then coming out and suggesting that the United States government killed 3,000 of its own citizens to protect Enron.

How sad has Barbara Walters become?  Why is she allowing Rosie O‘Donnell to destroy her once great reputation?

MATTHEW FELLING, CENTER FOR MEDIA AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS:  Yeah.  And I grew up watching Barbara Walters and I grew up thinking, wow, she‘s really got it all put together and she is committed to getting out the truth.  And she is the grand dame of journalism.

And I think it is time that we announce a Barbara Wawa intervention.  Everybody needs to stop and just come to her and say Barbara, we understand what is happening but you really need to check yourself.  Get Hugh Downs, get John Stossel, gets some of the celebrities from the Academy Awards special.  Dig up Jack Palance.  He‘ll set her straight.

Somebody just needs to sit her down and say listen, we understand that you are really hungry for relevance and it‘s really tough to age on TV and you‘re afraid of being phased out.

But at the same time looking at what you‘re giving up, Rosie is off the reservation, and yes the food fight, yes, the cluster bomb that is every morning‘s program is good for ratings but also it‘s just, she used to be on a pedestal and it just gets hatcheted at and hatcheted at with every time Rosie O‘Donnell says something about 9/11 conspiracies or the fillings in your teeth being like a mind numbing government plot against you.  It‘s gone too far at this point.

SCARBOROUGH:  It really has and Steve Adubato, to think that this is a lady who really became a super star, a journalistic super star when she got in the middle and reported on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Now look at how low she‘s gone when she is getting between Donald Trump and Rosie O‘Donnell.  It‘s really outrageous, isn‘t it?

STEVE ADUBATO, MSNBC MEDIA ANALYST:  I have to tell you, Joe, it‘s disappointing as well because it seems to me that while Barbara owns half of “The View,” she is really not in control of “The View” and that‘s what 600,000 new viewers, if the numbers are right, Joe, 600 have come to “The View.”

That wasn‘t the case before Rosie got there.  When Meredith was there, it was flat, nothing was happening.  They need this moderator that is clearly out of control and Rosie is, she says all the things she said and she‘s worse because she‘s so rude.

Barbara sits back and says, you know what, I want to stand up to you but I‘m not going to.  You know why, Rosie, because I acknowledge that you‘re in control.  She‘s not going to articulate that publicly but it‘s an embarrassment to see someone like Barbara Walters and her career like this because it is going to end like this and she will be remembered for not standing up to Rosie and not saying Rosie‘s opinions are Rosie‘s opinions.  That‘s nice.  Stand up to her and be tough.

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s going to end this way, Steve.  Let‘s listen to some of these clips.  But as we‘re watching it, I want you two to ask what serious public figure would ever allow Barbara Walters to interview them again after you listen to some of the outrageous things which Barbara Walters show allows to be broadcast because of Rosie O‘Donnell.  Roll the clips.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  You don‘t think terrorists, you think that robs them of their humanity.  That name “terrorist” makes them not human anymore.

They‘ve been treating them like animals and not like human beings. 

They have hoods over their head.  They are tortured on a daily basis.

You know what I think Congress and I‘m sure this will make in some sort of celebrity feud or AOL poll.  But someone, I believe, should call for the impeachment of George Bush.

Danny DeVito, ching-chong-chong-chong-chong broke “The View.”  Ching-chong.

We‘re able to get the presidential seal on paper towels, but we still haven‘t cleaned up New Orleans.

Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam.

Everyone can be a tiny bit gay.  Do you think people are either 100 percent gay or 100 percent not?

The person who is charge of investigating all the allegations of pedophilia in the Catholic Church from the ‘80s until just recently was guess who?  The current pope.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know there is so many things here, Matthew Felling, we could talk about, blaming the pope for the pedophilia in the Catholic Church, saying that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed‘s humanity - the man who was responsible for 3,000 deaths on September 11 was somehow stripped because he was called a terrorist.

She insulted Asians there with that imitation that was extraordinarily offensive to so many.  Compared Christianity to radical Islam, Matthew Felling, I just wonder, how does Barbara Walters stand side by side with her and defend her for—forget George Bush‘s impeachment and conservative versus liberal.

This is just about offensive statements.  Siding with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and 9/11 conspiracy theorists, how does Barbara Walters stand by idly and allow her to do that.

FELLING:  You know what is really interesting is what we‘ve seen in the clips lately is that Barbara Walters, I mean, position-wise is not even next to her any more.

They have actually put Elizabeth Hasselbeck, the conservative soul on the panel right next to Rosie.  It‘s almost like they‘re trying to create even more fire and more conflict than they already were.

And I think that Barbara is just taking a look at Rosie and thinking, you know what?  Here‘s a meal ticket and that‘s not what Barbara Walters should be saying.

Rosie, it is always about her.  We saw on that clip where it said, oh, I bet there is going to be an AOL poll about me.

Rosie, get over yourself and she used to be talking, like Howard Dean to the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.  I mean, there was some rational thought going on, but now she‘s kind of sliding all the way to the lunatic fringe when she‘s talking about conspiracies and the government is behind 9/11.  Which I think—we might be at a jumping the shark point with Rosie.

ADUBATO:  Hey, Joe .

SCARBOROUGH:  I think she has jumped the shark.  And speaking of jumping the shark, yeah, Steve, in a second.  I want you to look at Barbara Walters‘ interview, with Hugo Chavez because when she‘s not at the helm of her dayside chat show she is giving softball interviews with a dictator.  Look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALTERS: As I talk with you, you are a very dignified man.  I want to ask some questions about your life.

Would you like some coffee first?

You are not married now.  Do you want to marry or are you married to the revolution?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Are you married to the revolution?  Steve, please, help me out here.

ADUBATO:  Joe, I want to give Barbara a pass because she likes the ratings.  Listen, we‘re in the ratings business.  Let‘s not be hypocrites about it but the fact is she has rolled over for Rosie because Rosie has got the numbers.

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second.  Steve, if you were my co-host and you defended Khalid Sheikh Mohammed .

ADUBATO:  You‘d better be on me, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  And you said the U.S. government had killed 3,000 Americans to defend Enron, I would say, Steve, I‘m sorry, you cannot co-host anymore, I would say that to my mother.  This is not about ratings.  This is about Barbara Walters losing control.

ADUBATO:  Joe, I want to make it clear.  I said she opted to roll over for that.  And by the way you should challenge someone on that stuff.  You should not only say it‘s their point of view, you should go after them like crazy.

The Hugo Chavez - the Chavez thing is nuts.  What we know about this guy, she has this opportunity to ask him specific questions about his connection to all sorts of oil interests and all sorts of things that he‘s done against the United States and she‘s doing the coffee thing.  It is so irrelevant in so many ways, it‘s so passe to see Barbara Walters, this person, this woman in the industry who was such a trail blazer to do this, going on a - I hate to say going out, I hope she has another five years and if she does, she makes the best of it.

But I don‘t see it right now, Joe.  It is a shame.  I wish her better than this, but her audience deserves better than she‘s giving.

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it.

ADUBATO:  And she just should stand up to Rosie big time but I don‘t think she‘s going to do it any time soon.

FELLING:  I don‘t think she is losing control.  I think she sold her soul, honestly, to the ratings race.

ADUBATO:  I think you‘re right, Matthew.

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘m afraid so.  Very sad indeed.  Matthew Felling, Steve Adubato, thank you so much.

Coming up next here, talking about selling your soul for ratings, “American Idol” is supposed to be about the singing but why is this guy still around.  We‘re going to look at why Fox producers may be to blame and how they may be rigging the votes.  Our little girls‘ tears.

And later in Hollyweird, why “Mean Girl” Lindsay Lohan is going to the dogs.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN SEACREST, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  After 30 million votes, Chris, you are staying.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  What about the tone deaf androgynous-looking kid with the hair who smiles all the time?  He‘s still around?  Say it ain‘t so, Sanjaya.

In fact, the contestant who has Simon threatening to quit wasn‘t even in the bottom two last night.  Instead “Idol” voters sent Stephanie packing, leaving critics to ask what is going on with Fox and why is “Idol” no longer a singing competition?

With us now to talk about it, former “Idol” Carmen Rasmusen and host of “Live from Hollywood Radio” and contributor to VH1‘s “Best Week Ever,” Cecily Knobler.

Carmen let‘s start with you, I guess last night settled it once and for all, “American Idol” is not about talent, is it?

CARMEN RASMUSEN, FORMER “IDOL” CONTESTANT:  It‘s about a lot many things.  It‘s about personality.  It‘s about getting the right votes.  I think that Sanjaya definitely has the vote of the little girls.

I even heard there is a Web site called voteforthebad one.com.  Maybe those people think it‘s funny to keep it on and some people may just want to see him last, see how long he can last on the show.  But for whatever reason, people are voting for him and that‘s what‘s on the show.

SCARBOROUGH:  But the thing is most people think this guy is still on the air because they put that little crying girl out there and the Fox producers knew exactly what they were doing.  They positioned her where they wanted her, right?

RASMUSEN:  Yes.  Exactly.  Of course they did.

SCARBOROUGH:  So voters would keep this guy on the show.

RASMUSEN:  They put her in the camera seat.  For whatever reason, they really like Sanjaya.  He‘s more of a personality than a talent.

And right now they‘re really putting him in the forefront, they‘re putting out in the spotlight for whatever reason.  I think that he‘s drawing people to the show and look at us, we‘re talking about it.  He‘s creating a controversy and it‘s getting more publicity.

SCAROROUGH:  Yeah.  Because he stinks.  I‘m not alone saying that. 

Fox may love the guy but Sanjaya has not been a judges‘ favorite.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RANDY JACKSON, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  When we first saw him, there was something special about him but he hasn‘t returned to form since then.

PAULA ABDUL, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  I just want you to kind of raise your game.

SIMON COWELL, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  It wasn‘t a very good vocal.  Maybe it‘s your hair that‘s keeping you in.

JACKSON:  Thank God for the background singers because that song was almost unlistenable for me, man.  It was really, really weak.

COWELL:  I think the little girl‘s face says it all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Cecily, the 17-year-old kid has really been turned into a national joke and I don‘t think he even knows it.  I mean, is the joke on him.

CECILY KNOBLER, “LIVE FROM HOLLYWOOD RADIO”:  Yeah, I think so but I don‘t think this would be the first time.  The vote for the worst campaign.  This has been going on for a couple years.  Some people think that‘s how Taylor Hicks even won.  That‘s a rumor that‘s going around.  It‘s sad for Sanjaya.  Because like you said, he‘s 17.  It must be really tough to get up there and do what he does, but come on, what are they going to do?

And I think the producers are just covering themselves putting a little girl out in the audience and saying oh, everybody loves Sanjaya when they know they can‘t control this joke “vote for the worst “campaign.

And do you think that‘s what it‘s about, Carmen, this vote for the worst campaign?

RASMUSEN:  I don‘t know whether it‘s people giving him sympathy votes like I said, whether it is a vote for the worst.  People are voting for him and that‘s why he‘s on the show.  But I have to say that or me being 17 .

SCARBOROUGH:  But is he still on the show because of the controversy?  Do you think Fox knew that it would drum up—they positioned the little girl crying because they knew it would help this guy with the American voters?

RASMUSEN:  Exactly.  “American Idol,” the producers know exactly what they‘re doing.  They know whoever gets the most limelight will be on the show longer.  Stephanie wasn‘t shown in the auditions, she didn‘t have much face time on the show, hence she was kicked off because she was forgettable.  She wasn‘t put in the limelight.

SCARBOROUGH:  Cecily, they totally manipulate it, don‘t they?

KNOBLER:  I think they do.  But to be fair, how could the producers really give the same amount of time to every single person who auditions.  It would be a 15-hour show.  And it‘s getting close anyway.

RASMUSEN:  They pick their favorites.

SCARBOROUGH:  Carmen, the top 10 go on tour.  So they just guaranteed that Americans are going to be terrorized by this 17-year-old kid for years to come, right?

RASMUSEN:  You know what?  Like I was saying, I was 17 when I was on the show.  It was really hard for me.  It took me a couple years to come into my own and to find my voice and maybe Sanjaya will surprise us and get better.

I think during the early auditions, he was much better than he is now.  It‘s like the criticism has hurt him so much that he‘s accepted the fact that well I guess I‘m a terrible singer, I guess I can‘t sing and now he did that awful rock version of that song.  Because he didn‘t really care anymore.

SCARBOROUGH:  Kind of like George Bush‘s speeches through the years.  You know, I started this cable news show when I was 17 and I keep waiting to come into my own but I keep losing more and more confidence.

RASMUSEN:  You‘re almost there.  Almost there.

SCARBOROUGH:  Almost there.  Girl, you really got me going.  What is that?  Don‘t sing the Kinks unless you can sing the Kings, brother.

Thanks a lot, Carmen.

RASMUSEN:  Thank you.

SCARBOROUGH:  Cecily, stick around.  Coming up next, “Hollyweird,” why Tom Cruise is stalking his new best friend David Beckham.  Beam me up.  “Hollyweird” is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, tell the plastic surgeon the botox just didn‘t take.  It‘s time for “Hollyweird.”

First up, Tom Cruise, his rep is denying it but “Us Weekly” is reporting the Scientology messiah is so committed to converting Posh Spice and David Beckham, he called their house 18 times in one hour.

Hear now E! Online columnist Ted Casablanca and still with us, Cecily Knobler.

Ted, I would guess that the Beckhams wish they were back in the United Kingdom right now, right?

TED CASABLANCA, E! ONLINE:  Oh, they can handle Tom.  But Tom is notoriously a control freak.  Katie has no idea what she‘s in nor.  Remember Andrew Morton who is writing a tell-all about Tom and has written about the royal family said he had never met anything like Tom Cruise before, that the royal family, no comparison to Tom Cruise, such a control freak.

SCARBOROUGH:  And Cecily, 18 times in an hour, my God, I think I would call the police or get an injunction against him.

KNOBLER:  I know.  How is that even possible?  I have been a psycho ex-girlfriend and I could never get numbers that high.  That is impressive.

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s the truth, and Cecily, you only called me 17 times last night between 10 and 11.  My wife didn‘t appreciate it.

CASABLANCA:  I haven‘t called you once, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  You only called me ones, I know.

Anyway, a British judge bans inside sources at Britney‘s rehab from selling stories to London‘s tabloid.  What‘s going on here, Cecily?  Are the Brits boffo for Britney?

KNOBLER:  Yeah, they‘re trying to get them to stop revealing all this rehab information and they want the source revealed.  And like we really need a source for why Britney spears is crazy.  I don‘t think we need Deep Throat to uncover this.  She‘s bald.

CASABLANCA:  This is all about Britney .

SCARBOROUGH:  Ted, they‘re so tough on everybody in the United Kingdom, why take it easy on Britney?

CASABLANCA:  This is about everything but about getting sober.  Britney is fighting getting sober.  She has just got to forget this.  So what if people write about her picking her nose in rehab or whatever she does?

She‘s just got to get back to the business of staying sober for her and for her kids.  That‘s what she should be doing.

And forget the lawyers.

SCARBOROUGH:  Get sober, walk into the studio.  One guy that I wish would stay out of the studio is Justin Timberlake.  He is not going to be bringing sexy back to Tennessee any time soon.  A resolution to honor the Memphis native is stalled in the state Senate and could it be Cecily because this guy is an unmitigated dork?

KNOBLER:  That could have something to do with it.  I think he‘s just scared to bring sexy back.  I think that‘s his issue because maybe he thinks sexy is Bill Clinton.  Maybe that‘s what he .

CASABLANCA:  Hey, Joe, I hate to interrupt but what‘s your problem with Justin Timberlake?  I hear you don‘t like this guy.  He‘s a rehabilitated dork.

SCARBOROUGH:  If I wanted to invite somebody over to my house to crochet at night, I would invite Justin over, maybe to play games but this is not the man who‘s going to bring sexy back.  Maybe the new James Bond, not Justin Timberlake.

CASABLANCA:  Hey, look.  He recovered from that hair.  Anybody who can do that, he‘s sexy in my book.

SCARBOROUGH:  Good point.  And Cecily, Lindsay Lohan is telling “GQ” magazine that she bought two dogs to keep her at home at night.  I didn‘t know schnauzers could do lines.  What‘s going on here?

KNOBLER  That‘s great, yeah.  She thinks that by having these dogs at home it will help keep her sober.  Apparently she‘s named the dogs Brooklyn and Dakota but I think she should name them Jack and Daniels, so she can call for them, “Hey Jack, Daniels,” and then she‘s covered.

SCARBOROUGH:  Ted, is that going to work?

CASABLANCA:  I think it‘s from dating Jude Law, you know, she‘s got a dog in who she‘s dating and she‘s got dogs at home.  It works both ways.

SCARBOROUGH:  It does work both ways.  Cecily, thank you, Ted, thank you so much and I was just joking about the schnauzer.

That‘s all the time we have in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Talk to you soon.

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

END   

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