updated 4/3/2007 9:54:29 AM ET 2007-04-03T13:54:29

Guests: Joan Walsh, Ryan Lizza, Courtney Hazlett, Pat Lalama, Bob Kohn, Steve Adubato, Robin Leach, Courtney Hazlett, Kim Serafin

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight: Is the most powerful pop culture force being undermined by a shock jock?  It‘s Howard Stern versus the multi-billion-dollar business of “American Idol,” and Stern has the upper hand.  That story coming up.

But first on deck, opening day for major league baseball, and the president of the United States is refusing to throw out the first pitch for the second year in a row.  Actually, Dick Cheney did the deed last year, but even he begged off this year out of fears of being booed off the field.

But off the baseball diamond, it is open season on the president of the United States, and the catcalls are hitting their targets.  In a stunning if unseemly break with White House ranks, a member of the president‘s inner circle attacked the president yesterday, saying he governs with, quote, “a my way or the highway mentality.”  The president‘s top campaign chief, Matthew Dowd, also told “The Times” that John Kerry was right in 2004 for calling for the end of the war.

Polls suggest American agree with Kerry and Dowd.  A “Newsweek” poll out this week finds that only 28 percent of Americans approve of the way the president is running the war, and 57 percent agree with the president‘s political enemies that .S. troops should be pulled from Iraq in less than a year.  Now the head of the Senate is ready to cut funding.

While baseball fans, top aides and the public leaves President Bush standing alone, the man Mr. Bush turned to for guidance on Iraq, uber-adviser Henry Kissinger, now says America can‘t win the war over there, and even losing the war in Iraq will be uglier than when America lost in Vietnam, a war he knows very much about.

Here to talk about the baseball boo-birds, rats jumping from the ship and the president standing alone against the world, let‘s bring in Ryan Lizza—he‘s senior editor for “The New Republic”—Joan Walsh from Salon.com and two-time presidential contender, former White House communications director and MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.

Joan, let‘s start with you, the top Democrats now suggesting that Democrats are going to cut funding for this war if George W. Bush doesn‘t work with Congress.  This political battle is about to get ugly, isn‘t it.

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM:  It‘s going to get very ugly, Joe, and I think the Democrats are going to stick to their guns.  You know, I‘m sure there‘ll be lots of negotiations about it.  I‘m sure this is not the last word.  But you know, last week, you and Pat were telling me that the Democrats were going to have to cave and give the president what he wants, and I‘m thinking that‘s not quite so clear.

You know, this Matthew Dowd story really is going to have legs, Joe.  I don‘t know why you called it unseemly.  I was kind of curious about that because...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, let me tell you.

WALSH:  Sure.

SCARBOROUGH:  I mean, you know, when I wrote about Newt Gingrich and other people that I served with in the House, I wasn‘t, you know, in any leadership capacity there.  I wasn‘t—Newt Gingrich did not select me to be his lieutenant on the floor of the House of Representatives.  There was no trust between us.  I mean, I just think it‘s unseemly, you have a guy that agrees to be the president‘s top campaign aide turning around a couple years later and knocking him in the press.  You don‘t have any problem with that?

WALSH:  No, I really don‘t, Joe.  You know, things have gotten to such a tragic point in this country, I think there are a lot of Matthew Dowds out there.  I mean, if you look back, he‘s kind of an historic figure.  And you‘ll find this hard to believe, but in 1999, I went to San Antonio to look at school reform efforts that Governor Bush was presiding over because it was a time when liberals actually thought this guy could do a few good things.  I didn‘t vote for him.  I‘m not going to pretend that I did.  But there were a lot of people that thought this is a man who‘s worked in a bipartisan way in Texas and could actually do good things for poor and minority children.  And he then turned around and became one of the most right-wing, divisive presidents in history.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I must tell you, Joan, there are a lot of...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Joan, there are a lot of right-wingers out there that would suggest to you that George W. Bush is far from being conservative.  I would suggest that...

WALSH:  I understand your...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  He is anything but conservative, anything but right-wing, unless you want to talk about Supreme Court appointments and tax cuts, two areas where Patrick Buchanan and I would suggest that he did very well on.

But Joan, let‘s continue with the fighting that‘s going to be going back and forth.  You had Dick Cheney today coming out and accusing congressional Democrats of undercutting U.S. troops by trying to impose these type of limits on the war.  Take a listen to what the vice president said, then I want to get your response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Time the self-appointed strategists on Capitol Hill understood a very simple concept.  You cannot win a war if you tell the enemy when you‘re going to quit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Joan, as a political strategist, I would not have the answer to this.  It‘s a tough question.  But you take a whack at it.  What‘s the Democrats‘ greatest political risk, being accused of hurting the troops by getting America out of Iraq, or by angering their Democratic base by doing absolutely nothing?  It seems to be a lose-lose situation, doesn‘t it?

WALSH:  I don‘t think it‘s a lose-lose situation, but I agree with you that there‘s a lot of risk.  I think there is a danger not just of abandoning their base but of abandoning the vast majority of people.  You talked about it in the top of the show.  Polls show that Americans want the troops out.  And so they‘re abandoning a lot of people, independents, perhaps even Republicans, who voted for their party believing that they were going to bring an end to this war.  So I think the risk of doing nothing is far greater than the risk of being called a traitor or anti-troops by Dick Cheney, who refuses to fix Walter Reed, et cetera, et cetera, and doesn‘t really care about the troops.

SCARBOROUGH:  OK...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  President Bush, let me ask you the same—let me ask you the same question, Pat, because it seems to me that Democrats have a very tough choice to make.  They can‘t ignore their base.  They can‘t ignore the American people that put them in power.  They‘ve got to do something.  But I just have to believe if they defund the troops, if they decide to have this timeline—I don‘t care what the polls say, Americans hate losing wars.  I think they really are setting themselves up for tough times ahead.  What do you think?

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, I think, Joe, you‘re exactly right.  Look, they‘ve gone and played to the base with these deadlines.  In the Senate, it‘s non-binding.  In the House, it‘s binding.  And as Barack Obama said over the weekend, and Charlie Rangel both, of course, when the president vetoes this, they‘re not going to defund the war.  They‘re going to fund the war without the deadlines.  And Harry Reid is running a very brief bluff.  The war is going to be funded without the deadlines, period, paragraph.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Pat, I expect Republicans, though, regardless of what he does—I‘ve just sensed it over the past several days.  I think Republicans are just going to start going on the attack...

BUCHANAN:  Right.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... in a way they haven‘t since Bill Clinton was president.  And I was thinking that over the weekend, and then I heard this clip of Newt Gingrich that I want you to listen to and respond to.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH ®, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  I believe it is a substantial mistake for Speaker Pelosi to go to Syria, and I want to publicly call on her to cancel the trip.  It is totally, utterly...

(APPLAUSE, CHEERS)

GINGRICH:  And furthermore, a San Francisco liberal sitting down with a dictator strikes me as the worst possible negotiating position.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Pat, I need to check the clock up on my wall because I swear it‘s 1994!

(LAUGHTER)

WALSH:  You better come to me with that San Francisco liberal one, Joe.

BUCHANAN:  Joe, look, she‘s—look, Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats—you hear they‘re going to go after Bush on this, that and the other.  If I were the president, I‘d say, Please, Nancy, bring it on after your trip to Damascus.  Who is that going to impress, that trip to see Bashir Assad?  And they‘re going to come after Bush on—they‘re going to organize the folks out at the airports that frisk you down.  They‘re going to unionize them, Joe.  Bush could not have it better than to have the Democrats go to their base, turn it into a liberal-conservative, left-right, Republican-Democrat battle because Bush is at 30 percent.  If he gets in these fights, these are 50 percent fights.

WALSH:  He can go to 15 percent.

BUCHANAN:  Bring it on!

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN:  Bring it on!

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, and it is—it is a sort of a “Bring it on” type strategy.  And this weekend, Ryan, it seems the president really found—found, again, sort of fighting words, going after the Democrats, saying they shouldn‘t defund the war.  And then in his speech this weekend, he talked about peanuts, and he said Hey—and this is his words exactly—I like peanuts as much as the next guy, but it shouldn‘t get in the way of funding our troops.  And of course, there he‘s talking about the all pork that Democrats have thrown into these packages to fund the troops.

Do you think that Democrats risk losing a substantial chunk of the people that put them in power if they move too aggressively to defund the war or to put a timeline on when we get out of the war, despite the fact that about 60 percent of Americans are saying, at least in this “Newsweek” poll, they want us out of the war in less than a year?

RYAN LIZZA, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”:  Yes, I don‘t see the argument that the Democrats are going to too far.  I mean, if you‘ve just been elected to Congress and the big issue is Iraq, and the president is at 30 percent in the polls and your approval is doing OK and the number one issue in the country, voters are on your side, I don‘t see how being aggressive on that issue is a political loser.

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Buchanan, answer that.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Ryan is correct to this extent.  The Democrats have done the right thing by putting the deadlines on here, and they‘ve appealed to their base, and it is a 50, 60 percent issue on their side...

LIZZA:  But Pat...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Hold it, Ryan!  Hold it!  When the thing is vetoed and it goes back, it is not a winner to defund the troops, and they will have to do it and antagonize their base at that point, as Barack Obama said he would do over the weekend.

SCARBOROUGH:  Ryan?

LIZZA:  You‘re saying that they‘re not going to defund the troops?

BUCHANAN:  They‘re not going to do it, no!

LIZZA:  Well, to be honest, I‘m surprised that Harry Reid did say that tonight. I‘m surprised that they‘re going there.  It‘s the one place...

BUCHANAN:  Don‘t worry, he‘ll back down, Ryan.

LIZZA:  Well, it is the one place—you‘re right.  Pat is right about this.  Defunding the troops has always been what the Republicans hoped the Democrats would start talking about, and judging by the polls, it‘s not a popular position.  So I‘m...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know...

(CROSSTALK)

LIZZA:  ... that Reid went there tonight, to be totally honest.

WALSH:  Well, who knows...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second, Pat.  We have our own resident San Francisco liberal...

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... as Newt Gingrich would suggest.  So let‘s bring her in.  Actually, I don‘t know that you‘re a San Francisco liberal.  I‘m sure, like Nancy Pelosi said when she was going to sworn in, she was born with a Bible in her hand and she spoke in a Baltimore accent.  I‘m sure that there‘s a Northeast Catholic in you somewhere there, Joan.  But we‘ll call you our San Francisco liberal, since you‘re in San Francisco.

WALSH:  I‘m proud.  Hey, I‘m proud...

SCARBOROUGH:  You‘re proud?

WALSH:  ... to be a San Francisco liberal.  I‘m proud to be a San Francisco liberal.  And I‘m not going to have Nancy Pelosi lectured by the likes of Newt Gingrich, the serial adulterer from Georgia.  I mean, San Francisco liberal is a slur.  It stands for a certain kind of personal values, and it‘s outrageous.  Plus, you guys, Frank Wolf, a wonderful Republican, went to Syria, as well.  It‘s not just Nancy Pelosi.  People are getting sick of the lack of diplomacy in this administration, and they are going to see with their own eyes...

BUCHANAN:  But hold it.  Now, Joan...

WALSH:  ... because they‘re tired of lies...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Before you get in, she was talking about slurs.  I just want to clarify this.  So “San Francisco liberal” is a slur, serial adulterer—is that...

(LAUGHTER)

WALSH:  I‘m responding in kind.  No, I‘m not pretending it‘s not a slur.  I‘m just saying that Newt Gingrich tries to take the moral high road...

SCARBOROUGH:  OK...

BUCHANAN:  But Joan...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second, Pat.  I‘m going to—Pat, I‘m going to let you out of the gate in a second here, but I‘ve got to ask Joan a follow-up.  Ryan is surprised that Harry Reid talked about the defunding of the troops.  I‘m also very surprised.  I would—I would suggest that that is a tactical mistake.  Joan, do you think that‘s not a tactical mistake to put that on the table, the defunding of our troops in the next year, if George W. Bush doesn‘t sit down and negotiate with Democrats?

WALSH:  Quite honestly, Joe, I think it‘s a bargaining position.  If they take that off the table absolutely, they have absolutely no weapons.  They have absolutely nothing in their hands.  They‘re going to argue about it.  They‘re going to bargain about it.  They‘re going to see how it flies.  And we‘ll see what they do.  I wouldn‘t put money on what they ultimately do, but I don‘t think it‘s wrong to threaten to do it.  I really don‘t.

LIZZA:  Why is it a good bargaining chip if you want—if you want to reach some accommodation with Bush?  And as far as I can tell, Bush wants the Democrats to say they‘re going to defund the war.

BUCHANAN:  But you know...

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH:  Because it‘s one of the few powers that you actually have, Ryan, so you have to be willing to use it.

BUCHANAN:  But look, the longer it goes on...

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Buchanan...

BUCHANAN:  But look, the longer the weeks go by without funding the troops, the more the Democrats will be damaged.  After the president vetoes it, they ought to get it out of the way and send the money for the troops.  As for San Francisco liberals, that‘s a term, Joan, that was picked up after the Democratic convention in San Francisco I was at.  They nominated Mondale, and are friend, Jeane Kirkpatrick, used the term at the Republican convention.  It‘s perfectly legitimate.  And Nancy Pelosi‘s from San Francisco, or Marin County, for heaven‘s sakes!

SCARBOROUGH:  Even worse in the eyes of Pat Buchanan.  I personally love San Francisco.

Anyway, Ryan, thank you for being with us.  Joan Walsh, thank you.  And Joan, if you want us to call you a San Francisco liberal, we will.  If you don‘t, we won‘t.  Whatever you want, Joan.  We love you.  Pat Buchanan, you‘re just mean.

WALSH:  Thank you, Joe.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  You‘re just a mean Chevy Chase...

WALSH:  I did not say that!

SCARBOROUGH:  ... renegade...

BUCHANAN:  Chevy Chase...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... reactionary...

(CROSSTALK)

LIZZA:  We all agree on that, I think!

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thanks a lot.

Coming up next: Are Howard Stern and Sanjaya taking down pop culture‘s most profitable and powerful star-making machine?  Now, this is a business that makes hundreds of millions of dollars.  We‘re going to talk about why “Idol” could be killed by the shock jock‘s kindness.  Plus: Sanjaya‘s not the only hack pretending to be a performer.  Why is ABC putting up with Heather Mills‘s diva demands?  It‘s ratings, baby.  That ugly truth ahead.

Plus, Rosie O‘Donnell fights back after Bill O‘Reilly slams her crazy conspiracy theories.  But can “The View” and Barbara Walters survive a full-on assault from Bill-o?  That‘s coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Is the most powerful and profitable show on television being taken down by a joke?  Well, every week, over 30 million Americans tune in to Fox‘s “American Idol,” turning the talent show into a cash cow, with advertisers paying roughly $745,000 for a 30-second commercial.  But this season, Howard Stern and the Web site Votefortheworst.com are urging viewers to vote for Sanjaya, the national punchline.

Stern says, quote, “We‘re corrupting the entire thing.  All of us are routing ‘American Idol.‘  It‘s so great.  The number one show on television, and it‘s getting ruined.”

So has Howard Stern found a way to derail what “Forbes” magazine calls “the most expensive airtime on television, period”?  Here‘s Pat Lalama—she‘s an investigative journalist who covers Hollywood—and Courtney Hazlett—she‘s senior reporter at “OK!” magazine.

You know, Courtney, this is not just about a joke, it‘s not about a hairdo.  “American Idol” is the most powerful pop culture phenomenon not only in Hollywood, but in America.  Talk about how big of a business this is, and what it would mean if it were undermined by this joke winning.

COURTNEY HAZLETT, “OK!” MAGAZINE:  Well, you can begin by just looking at just how much their ad spots go for.  A 30-second spot during “American Idol” is going to cost an advertiser close to three quarters of a million dollars.  That‘s not chump change.

You‘ve also got to look at the trickle-down effects that this show has, too.  If you take the show “House,” for example, one of Fox‘s fantastic runaway hits, this show got its start because “American Idol” was its lead-in.  So Fox is not just banking on this show, but they‘re banking on this show‘s success to bring success to other shows on the network, as well.

SCARBOROUGH:  And that‘s exactly what happens.  And recently, Simon Cowell said in an interview that he makes more money selling records through “Idol” than Bruce Springsteen.  Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SIMON COWELL, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  I sell more records than Bruce Springsteen (INAUDIBLE) yes.  I mean, in the last five years, I‘ve probably sold over 100 million records.  If he got 100, I should have got 500.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Lalama, it is a huge business.  Is this dangerous for “American Idol”?  Do you think it‘s a bad thing, what‘s going on?

PAT LALAMA, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST:  First let me tell you this.  I mean, is he proud of that?  I mean, is he saying, Gee whiz, we‘re all about real pure music?  Of course not!  I wouldn‘t be proud of that statement.  Bruce Springsteen puts out real pure rock-and-roll.

And you know what, Joe?  When this whole show first started, I applauded it whole-heartedly.  I said, Hey, refreshing, the antithesis of what the pop record industry has become.  We live in this age where Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan can make a record album overnight, based on what kind of talent?  If they had to perform live, they would suffer.  They would be—they‘d be out of the game forever.

And it started out that way.  But it becomes—it became such a cash cow.  Then it became about tawdriness.  Then it became about, Is Ryan gay?  Do Simon and Paula hate each other?  Is she on drugs?

SCARBOROUGH:  So...

LALAMA:  And then I said, You know what?  It‘s—go ahead.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  No, I was just going to say it‘s just become a sideshow.  And of course...

LALAMA:  It is!  It is.  And Joe, I was just going to say, I don‘t think...

SCARBOROUGH:  And Courtney, does this—Go ahead.

LALAMA:  I was just going to say I think Howard Stern makes an excellent point, but it‘s the irony that it‘s about.  I think he‘s a bit of a rock purist, and appreciate what he‘s trying to do, but I don‘t think the rest of the country really gets the irony of it.  And I also don‘t think he‘ll be able to bring the show down.  And let‘s also remember, Joe, they‘re both capitalizing.  Howard‘s capitalizing, and so is “American Idol.”

SCARBOROUGH:  Everybody is.  And Courtney Hazlett, of course, if Sanjaya wins, it could cost the show its most popular figure.  Simon Cowell, when asked about Sanjaya winning, said, quote, “Let me tell you this.  He‘s not going to win.  If he does, I won‘t be back.”

First of all, Courtney, do you believe that?  Secondly, do you think “American Idol‘s” producers will do something to make sure that this guy does not win?

HAZLETT:  Hey, I‘m going to demand a recount if Sanjaya wins, and I think a lot of people will agree with me on that front.  In terms of Simon Cowell—this is a huge income generator for him.  Let‘s not forget he‘s the executive—or one of the executive producers of this show.  He has a stake in every contract that‘s made as a result of this show.  For him to walk away from that, his investments must be doing great because this is a huge source of income for Simon.

I think what we all need to remember, though, is these sorts of Web sites have been germinating for quite some time, these Web sites that promote the underdog, promote the funny person to win.  And Howard Stern is really taking a little bit more credit than he‘s due for creating this movement.  It‘s been around for a while.  And I would actually argue that a lot of shows that have been around for multiple, multiple seasons need to come up with ways to keep viewers interested and keep the ratings up.

SCARBOROUGH:  And that‘s exactly why we have you on, Courtney Hazlett.  Thank you for being with us.  Same with you, Pat Lalama.  Greatly appreciate it.  We‘re going to see what happens with “Idol.”  It is very, very interesting.  And again, it is a multi-multi-million-dollar business.  I think they‘re going to be very careful and do what they can to stop Howard Stern from being able to continue undermining their efforts.

But coming up here: Rosie O‘Donnell takes on Bill O‘Reilly, saying he‘s a puppet of Rupert Murdoch and Fox.  But will Barbara Walters continue to be the puppet of Rosie O‘Donnell in her latest celebrity smackdown?  We‘re going to debate that.

But first, David Letterman shows us why you don‘t need to hear Dennis Kucinich to understand him.  “Must See S.C.” coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, it‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” some video you got to see.  First up: What happens when you mix Tom Cruise and the Iranian hostage situation?  Well, you get Bill Maher‘s new rules.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL MAHER, “REAL TIME”:  All right, new rule.  Iran and Tom Cruise must swap hostages, those 15 British sailors for Katie Holmes and her space baby.  It‘s a Shi‘ite Scientologist match made in heaven.  The Iranians get something they‘ve always wanted, the chick from “Dawson‘s Creek,” and Tom gets something he‘s always wanted, 15 British sailors.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And underdog Democrat Dennis Kucinich is facing a tough campaign, but David Letterman knows it‘s not what you say, but how you say it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, “LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN”:  The category tonight—I think this is a good one—candidate Kucinich, who needs audio?  Candidate Kucinich, who needs audio?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up next, the battle of the big mouths as Rosie O‘Donnell attacks Bill O‘Reilly, saying he‘s Fox‘s mouthpiece.

And later: Heather Mills‘s diva demands and why some fans say she‘s neither a dancer nor a star.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up, is Heather Mills really as bad of a dancer as “Idol‘s” Sanjaya is a singer?  Both contestants are still alive on their shows, but does that have to do more with ratings than talent?  That story and a lot more straight ahead, but first, the fighting Irish.

Move over trump, Rosie O‘Donnell has got a new mortal enemy:  Bill O‘Reilly.  The two were feuding after O‘Reilly went after her over her recent claims that September 11th was an inside job by the U.S. government and that the British hostages taken in Iran got what they deserved. 

Well, just about an hour ago, Bill O‘Reilly said on his show that he didn‘t call for Rosie to be fired.  But take a listen to what he said last week, because he certainly seemed to imply that ABC should give Rosie the axe.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST:  Rosie O‘Donnell has now reached critical mass, siding with Iran and implying the Bush administration caused 9/11.  What is ABC going to do? 

Rosie O‘Donnell is saying that our country—America, all right—attacked itself to launch the war on terror.  This is off the chart. 

This is targeted right at the ABC network, right at Disney.  That woman is hurting people.  That woman, Rosie O‘Donnell, is hurting these people directly, all right?  She has no right to do that, Janie (ph).  She has no right to be this irresponsible.  And ABC has got to be held accountable for her. 

Rosie is not going to be on that forum much longer because of what she‘s doing here. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Rosie fired back immediately, writing on her blog, quote, “I saw his Friday Rosie spin on YouTube, where he edited my statements to make it seem as he wanted, like 1984, molding the facts to suit the needs of Big Brother Rupert,” referring to FOX News chairman Rupert Murdoch.

So who comes out on top in this heavyweight battle?  Here now to talk about it, Bob Kohn.  He‘s the author of “Journalistic Fraud.”  And also MSNBC media analyst Steve Adubato.

Steve, O‘Reilly does seem to be suggesting that O‘Reilly should be fired, even though he said earlier tonight that he didn‘t think she‘d be fired.  What would be wrong if O‘Reilly or somebody like myself suggested ABC should get rid of her? 

STEVE ADUBATO, MEDIA ANALYST:  Well, Joe, no one has been more critical of Rosie O‘Donnell‘s insanity on the air than I have, other than you, but here‘s the problem.  I believe that we as journalists, as broadcasters, have absolutely no right and it is irresponsible to call for the firing of another broadcaster.  Here‘s why:  It is a slippery slope.

And if, in fact, O‘Reilly is calling for her being fired—by the way, it‘s different than you, Joe, and I‘ll explain why—if he‘s calling for her to be fired, then when about Ann Coulter?  Ann Coulter not only said that the 9/11 widows were somehow glad to have lost their husbands because they got money and fame, not only doesn‘t O‘Reilly challenge her, but O‘Reilly Ann Coulter on his program because it‘s good for ratings. 

Not only doesn‘t he challenge and go after Rush Limbaugh for making fun of someone with Parkinson‘s disease, Michael Fox, but they glorify him over there.  My problem is, it is ideologically based, it is intellectually dishonest on O‘Reilly‘s part, if, in fact, he is calling for Rosie O‘Donnell—as nutty as she is, she has every right to be that nutty.  It is the job of her employers to do something about it, not O‘Reilly, and not you, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Bob Kohn?

BOB KOHN, AUTHOR:  Well, I think Steve is wrong here.  She doesn‘t have a right to be nutty.  She has a privilege to be nutty, but that privilege only lasts for as long as she‘s there.  And ABC has every right to fire her for what she says. 

I think O‘Reilly hasn‘t called for her firing as much as he‘s been calling for ABC to do the right thing, and that is do what he does on his program, and what you‘re doing on your program right now, and that is having two points of view at the same time. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Bob, let me stop you for a second, because, you know, what‘s so fascinating here is we have people saying, oh, we should never call for the firing of anybody.  I think Rosie O‘Donnell should be fired.  I‘m going to say it right now.

Isn‘t it amazing, though, when somebody on the left is offended by, say, what Rush Limbaugh had to say on ESPN?  Man, everybody was calling for his firing the next day.  I would line up what Rush Limbaugh said about Donovan McNabb in football and line that next to Rosie O‘Donnell who said the United States government killed 3,000 of its own people to launch a war on terror, and I would say what Rosie said was a hell of a lot more offensive. 

KOHN:  Sure, the situation on radio and on cable television is quite different.  On radio, you have Al Franken on radio to respond to Rush Limbaugh.  On this show and cable television, Ann Coulter doesn‘t appear on this program and doesn‘t appear on FOX without somebody from the other side there at the same time to respond to what she‘s saying. 

ADUBATO:  Not true.  Not true.

KOHN:  On Rosie O‘Donnell, ABC has given her a platform with no suitable person there to correct her when she makes false statements, like accusing the British government of putting those sailors there on purpose.  She had no factual basis to back that up.  And all O‘Reilly is saying is...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I mean, that‘s the thing, that‘s what‘s so madding is, she doesn‘t anybody to call her down.  Well, actually, Barbara Walters is there.  Barbara Walters could say, “Hey, Rosie, you know what?  Khalid Sheikh Mohammed really wasn‘t innocent.  Rosie, you know what?  The United States government didn‘t really launch those attacks on September 11th to kill 3,000 of our people.  Hey, Rosie, you know what?  The British sailors didn‘t really ask for it.  They didn‘t ask for any”—but she just sits there as a mute.  And as O‘Reilly said on his show tonight, Barbara Walters has lost complete control. 

ADUBATO:  We agree, Joe.  We agree, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  She‘s lost complete control of Rosie.  Let‘s role this for a second.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O‘REILLY:  And I‘ll tell you what.  I‘m going to give Barbara Walters a pass, because I don‘t think Barbara Walters has any control over this woman at all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Oh, come on, she sits at the...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Why give her a pass until you just want to be a suck-up to Barbara Walters?  Don‘t give her a pass, but, Steve Adubato...

ADUBATO:  I don‘t give her a pass. 

SCARBOROUGH:  ... let me ask you.  You talk about a slippery slope.  OK, at what point do you call for somebody being fired, if you say we can‘t...

ADUBATO:  I won‘t do it, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  So, OK, did you call for Rush Limbaugh being fired back during in the ESPN brouhaha?

ADUBATO:  Joe, when we were—I‘ll tell you what I said about Limbaugh.  In fact, Bob was on that night.  I blasted Rush.  I said he was totally insensitive and irresponsible in the way he dealt with not Donovan McNabb, but that night we dealt with his making fun of Michael J. Fox and doing the Parkinson‘s dance.  It was disgraceful. 

But I didn‘t call for his being fired.  I don‘t say that Ann Coulter should lose her column.  She, in fact, appeared on the “Today” show a few months ago when, in fact she said the things she did about the 9/11 widows, and she was challenged by Matt Lauer. 

KOHN:  Yes, but let‘s back to the point here.  I mean, ABC News has Rosie O‘Donnell on one side.  I don‘t blame Barbara Walters for not getting into a mix up there.  But why doesn‘t ABC News hire Ann Coulter?  She says just as terrible things on the right as Rosie O‘Donnell does on left.  As a matter of fact, it might even be for good television.  It‘s like a Laurel and Hardy with them two, you know, on ABC. 

ADUBATO:  It would be a mud fight like that, people calling each other names, totally outrageous, people—listen, it may get ratings, but my point of view...

(CROSSTALK)

KOHN:  Oh, come on.  Ann Coulter can run circles around Rosie O‘Donnell when it comes to facts.  She‘s an attorney. 

(CROSSTALK)

KOHN:  She uses a lot of hyperbole, but Rosie O‘Donnell is making things up as she goes along.

ADUBATO:  Bob, one second.  I‘m not here to defend Rosie, what she said.  I‘m here to defend her right to say outrageous things on the air.

KOHN:  She doesn‘t have a right to say anything. 

(CROSSTALK)

ADUBATO:  By the way, Bob, did you criticize Ann Coulter for what she said?  And, by the way, what are her facts to back up that the 9/11 widows were glad to have lost their husbands?  What did you say about that?

KOHN:  Well, she doesn‘t have a right to say—Ann Coulter has no right to say it either, but she said it at some conservative convention, whatever.  This is a thing where Rosie O‘Donnell is working for ABC. 

ADUBATO:  She said it on the “Today” show, Bob Kohn.

KOHN:  There‘s nobody there sitting there at the table telling her that she‘s wrong.  Somebody should be sitting at the table.  This is about ABC; it‘s not about Rosie O‘Donnell.

(CROSSTALK)

KOHN:  Rosie should either put Ann Coulter or somebody like her or somebody willing to stand up to Rosie O‘Donnell there at the table.  Then you get both sides.  Or ABC should fire Rosie O‘Donnell and put somebody else there.  I‘m not calling for her resignation.  I‘m calling for ABC News to do the right thing. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s listen to Rosie O‘Donnell implying on “The View” that 9/11 was an inside job.  I want you guys to listen to this, along with what you already know about what she‘s written about it, and tell me why ABC should allow this woman to spew this venom everyday on TV.  Go ahead, run the tape.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSIE O‘DONNELL, HOST, “THE VIEW”:  I do believe that it is the first time in history that fire has ever melted steal.  I do believe that it defies physics for the World Trade Center tower seven, building seven, which collapsed in on itself, it is impossible for a building to fall the way it fell without explosives being involved, World Trade Center seven.  World Trade one and two got hit by planes.  Seven miraculously, the first time in history, steel was melted by fire.  It is physically impossible. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘ve got to go. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on, hold on.  Guys, we‘ve got to go.  I need a yes or no answer.  If you were the president of ABC, Steve, would you fire this woman? 

ADUBATO:  Yes, but I wouldn‘t call for it as a broadcaster.

SCARBOROUGH:  Bob Kohn, would you fire this woman? 

KOHN:  Absolutely.  You changed my mind. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I would fire this woman, and I will call for it as a broadcaster.  Steve, thank you so much.  Bob Kohn, thank you.

And you know what?  If somebody on the right did something, said something like that, I would call for their firing, too.  And anybody that watches this show knows that to be the case. 

Coming up next, Heather Mills, a tactless hack?  Well, a talentless hack perhaps.  Why fans accuse ABC of turning “Dancing with the Stars” into a celebrity freak show. 

And later in “Hollyweird,” if you think Tom Cruise is crazy, what do you call his alleged stalker?  More on the woman who was arrested outside TomKat‘s home and her story with another top star, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Is Heather Mills the Sanjaya of “Dancing with the Stars”?  Fans of the hit show are fighting mad that Paul McCartney‘s ex is still in the competition, with one writing on the ABC message board, quote, “Heather Mills is as good a dancer as Sanjaya is on ‘American Idol‘ a singer.  Actually, now that I think about it, Sanjaya is better as a singer than Mills is dancer, and that kid is certainly a better human being.”

So why‘s she there?  Are producers are exploiting her fake leg for real ratings?  And is she a dancing diva, as some British reporters are claiming?

Here now to talk about, TV host and celebrity editor for LasVegasMagazine.com, Robin Leach, and still with us, “OK” magazine‘s Courtney Hazlett.

So, Robin, is Heather Mills this terrible person, this dancing diva that we stateside have been reading about for sometime? 

ROBIN LEACH, LASVEGASMAGAZINE.COM:  Unfortunately, the answer is yes.  She is a very bad girl.  She is maybe a dancing devil.  And this attempt to rehabilitate her and make her sound like an angel or seem like an angel on “Dancing with the Stars,” it ain‘t working, because everybody really knows who and what she is. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, you know, Robin, Heather Mills and the “Dancing” producers are taking every step they can take to talk about her leg, even bringing other celebrities in to sing her praises.  I want you to take a look at this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMIE LEE CURTIS, ACTRESS:  The great example of the ability that everyone can live up to their dreams in every capacity. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The mambo is all about hip-shaking and bum-wiggling. 

HEATHER MILLS, “DANCING WITH THE STARS”  Great, sounds like my cup of tee. 

I‘m really excited about the mambo, because I work in such a serious environment, with land mines and animal rights, but my private side is always joking, always the prankster, always having fun. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Heather and I are not even focusing on her leg right now.  We‘re just working on her dancing well to win this competition.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Robin, they keep talking about this leg.  Is that all part of the P.R., let‘s talk about her disability and make her more loveable? 

LEACH:  I definitely think that they‘re trying for the sympathy vote, but I don‘t know that it‘s working, because it‘s turning people off. 

Let‘s make one thing very clear:  This woman keeps talking about the great work she does for land mine problems, and it shows the leg.  She did not lose the leg in a land mine accident; she lost part of the leg in a motorcycle accident.  So let‘s sort the difference between sympathy and reality and now deal with what the woman is really doing here.

She is trying to rehabilitate herself back to Britain by working in America and trying to prove that she‘s not the money-grubbing hussy in shaking down Sir Paul McCartney‘s large bank account.  And I don‘t think it‘s working. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I was going to say, which, of course, we all know she is. 

Courtney, today‘s British papers are highlighting Heather‘s diva demands on the set, whining that she needs her own private security, she needs an on-call dance studio so she can practice whenever she wants to practice.  They certainly didn‘t give that to Tucker.  She also insists the blinds be closed so nobody knows where she‘s practicing, on and on and on, everything but getting the green M&Ms out of the tray. 

The Brits are not being fooled by this little act, are they? 

COURTNEY HAZLETT, “OK” MAGAZINE:  I‘ve have been married to a man who‘s worth upwards of $10 billion, so I can‘t comment on what happens, habits you grow accustomed to when you‘re married to someone like that.  Maybe they qualify as diva.  I don‘t know.

But what I do take issue with is Robin keeps saying it‘s not working, it‘s not working.  Hello?  Yes, it is.  The ratings are through the roof.  She‘s doing back flips on one leg.  People are voting for you.  I don‘t understand how you can say it‘s not working. 

Nobody is saying she lost her leg in a mine accident.  She‘s been very public she lost her leg in a motorcycle accident.  In all the pre-interviews she talked about this.  I think Heather is doing a great thing for the show.  She‘s dancing better than people out there with two legs, and I don‘t understand how we can take that away from her. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But, Courtney, aren‘t they exploiting the fact that she only has one leg? 

HAZLETT:  I hate to keep beating this drum, because I mentioned it before, but you‘ve got to do certain things for ratings when your show has been around several seasons.  Yes, she‘s got one leg.  The knew everyone would tune into it.  It‘s not something that they‘re trying to hide, though, so you have to hand that to them.  If they were trying to be sneaky about it, that would be one thing.  But they‘re confronting the issue point-blank.  They‘re saying, hey, you‘ve only got one leg.  That must have been hard.  Yes, it was. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Robin, talk about her diva demands.  She was a diva long before she hooked up with Sir Paul McCartney, wasn‘t she? 

LEACH:  It depends on the definition of diva, Joe.  We do know that she‘s had a very unsavory past, and that past has come back to haunt her, with everything from photographs in rather explicit German sex catalogues, to being on the payroll of certain Saudi Arabian sheiks as a good time girl or a party girl who was involved in a number of different sexual escapades. 

That past was all hidden or all unknown until the lawsuit against Sir Paul McCartney for the millions.  And, Courtney, just so that you understand it, I was talking about, it‘s her rehabilitation that‘s not working.  The milking of the amputated leg is certainly working for the ratings, but it‘s not rehabilitating her image in Britain. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I certainly don‘t think that the British people will ever embrace somebody that‘s treated Paul McCartney the way she has. 

Hey, thanks a lot, Courtney.  Thank you, Robin.  Greatly appreciate it.

Coming up next, party girl Lindsay Lohan has some advice for Britney Spears, but will her words of wisdom turn the pop princess right back to rehab?  It‘s next in the appropriately titled segment “Hollyweird.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Tell your agent you want the top billing on next season‘s “Dancing with the Stars.”  You‘re no Tucker Carlson.  It‘s time for “Hollyweird.”

First up, Lindsay Lohan has some post-rehab advice for Britney Spears. 

Kim, what did Lindsay tell “InTouch”?

KIM SERAFIN, “INTOUCH WEEKLY”:  Yes, Lindsay says she wants to sort of pass on a message to Britney to just take it one day at a time.  You know, Lindsay also went through rehab herself.  And I heard you talking in the last segment about rehabilitating your image.  This is Hollywood.  This is what happens.  I mean, just a few mere months ago, Lindsay Lohan was known as the wild child, and now, here she is, sort of the old pro at it, giving advice to Britney Spears, saying, you know, just take it one day at a time, you can do it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, I don‘t know.  Robin Leach, I would guess you‘ve seen these rehabs come and these rehabs go.  I would not follow Lindsay Lohan‘s advice.  I mean, this is still a troubled little girl, isn‘t she? 

LEACH:  Well, I don‘t even call it advice, to say just take life one day at a time.  I mean, that happens to everybody, doesn‘t it?  We wake up tomorrow, and we take tomorrow as it comes.  And if that‘s the cure for alcoholism, God bless everybody. 

But, you know, here‘s what‘s really interesting.  Britney showed up in Vegas here last night, exactly five days after being released from the rehab clinic, Promises over in Malibu.  I don‘t exactly think that Sin City is the place for taking life one day at a time.  We take the whole year at once in this town, but you must do it not based on the fact that you just came out of rehab.

And, Kim, let‘s be honest.  Lindsay gives this advice last week after how many straight nights of partying until 6:00 in the morning in New York? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, Kim?

SERAFIN:  She was shopping, you know?  I mean, Britney was shopping in Vegas.  She wasn‘t apparently out partying.  So maybe there‘s hope for her yet.

(CROSSTALK)

SERAFIN:  Right, she was at the forum shops, I believe, too, also, so she was doing shopping, she was drinking iced tea...

SCARBOROUGH:  Shop by day, party by night?

(CROSSTALK)

SERAFIN:  We want them to succeed, so...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, but the bottom line is, you look at these two women, girls, actually, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan.  You know, Robin, they‘ve been bopping in and out of these rehab clinics for some time.  It‘s just an absolute joke.  Why are they even bothering? 

LEACH:  Well, I mean, I agree.  I think they get lost on the way to the next hot nightclub, so if they lose their way, they check into rehab, and then recover enough to go hit the next nightclub. 

I mean, this whole thing is really pathetic.  Hollyweird is absolutely the correct title for what you‘re talking about.  This behavior of 20-year-old, 21-year-old, 26-year-old, 27-year-old kids is for the birds.  They‘re all nuts.  They‘re all messing with drugs and alcohol, and they‘re setting the worst example in the world for kids that look up to them as heroes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it.  And somebody that probably doesn‘t do drugs, but is considered nuts by many, because of the way he jumps on couches, Tom Cruise, but an alleged celebrity stalker was arrested outside of Mr. Cruise‘s home.  What can you tell us about that, Kim? 

SERAFIN:  Yes, there‘s this woman.  She apparently showed up at Tom Cruise‘s Beverly Hills mansion and said that, you know, she was invited by his staff to come there.  Now, I don‘t know where these stalkers come from, how they find the houses, and what they expect to happen when they show up, like Tom Cruise is just going to invite her in and be like, “Hey, we‘re looking for a friend.”  You know, you wonder what goes through their minds.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know, and, Robin, this problem has also had problems before stalking other stars, too, but Tom Cruise, doesn‘t he have one of the tightest security details anywhere? 

LEACH:  I believe so.  You know, stalkers, it‘s really a frightening thing, because you do not really understand the state of the imbalanced mind.  I mean, unless this woman wants to be a Scientologist, she ain‘t getting anywhere close to TomKat and his people.  And maybe she should go down to the Scientology church, first of all, to get some help from the ions or the eons and then maybe she can meet all of the other wacko stars that are there pulling...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, we‘ve got to leave it there.  Thank you so much.  Good night in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

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

END   

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