updated 4/13/2007 11:32:56 AM ET 2007-04-13T15:32:56

Guests: Rev. Al Sharpton, Ana Marie Cox, John Ridley, Willie Geist, Carmen Rasmusen, Danny Bonaduce

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Breaking news tonight:  CBS silences Don Imus, the “Tiffany network” following NBC‘s lead, announcing hours ago that it had fired Imus, canceling the hugely popular “Imus in the Morning” radio program effectively, and doing it immediately, the president of CBS saying, quote, “From the outset, I believe all of us have been deeply upset and revulsed by the statements that were made on our air about those young women.”

Tonight‘s move leaves one of this generation‘s most powerful broadcasters silent.  At this moment, Imus is meeting with the Rutgers basketball team behind closed doors, with the women he insulted.  That meeting behind closed doors is going on with the team at the governor‘s mansion in New Jersey.  But this morning, Imus‘s tone was much different.  He was firing back.  On what would be his last CBS show, saying he apologized enough to the public, Don Imus then unleashed a tirade against the network that fired him, MSNBC, saying this.  Quote, “These bastards went after me.  They got me, but they didn‘t catch me asleep.”  Imus then commented that the situation had become, quote, “insane and out of control.”

Now, we‘re going to be talking to the man who led the charge to get Imus fired, the Reverend Al Sharpton.  That interview‘s coming up in a moment.  But first, let‘s bring in John Ridley—he‘s a frequent commentator on National Public Radio—Ana Marie Cox—she‘s the White House editor for Time.com and a frequent guest on Imus‘s show—Craig Crawford, a contributing editor and columnist at “Congressional Quarterly” and MSNBC political analyst.  He had an apartment above the I-man‘s studio.  He‘s appeared on Imus 67 times.  And Steve Adubato—he‘s MSNBC media analyst and a professor at Rutgers University, been there for 20 years.

Steve, let‘s talk to you first.  Obviously, you‘ve been around Rutgers University for a very long time.  This Imus firing—obviously, it came about because a lot of people were mad at him.  But he‘s the one who came out firing today.  I want you to take a listen as he takes on his critics this morning on his last show.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

DON IMUS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  I‘m not surprised at any of this, so

and I‘m not surprised at the hypocrisy Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson or any of these people.  But you can‘t whine about it.  I mean, Harold Ford, Jr., has been disgraceful in his lack of support because I endured death threats to support him in Tennessee, so—I mean, it‘s unfortunate that he has no courage.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Steve, this guy‘s going after Jesse Jackson, the Reverend Al Sharpton and Harold Ford.  Think that‘s a smart move?

STEVE ADUBATO, MSNBC MEDIA ANALYST:  Well, by the way, Harold Ford, he supported him in a run for the U.S. Senate.  Harold Ford did nothing wrong.  What he‘s saying is he was sorry for what he did.  He apologized many times.  But that he didn‘t get the outcome that he wanted and people didn‘t step up for him and excuse this mistake—by the way, not one, not two, not three, not 10 times, as you know, Joe, many, many insults over many years.  Anyone who didn‘t step up for Don Imus is the word he used before, the B-word, right?  The bottom line is this.  He‘s acting like a baby.  He should step up, he should take his medicine.  He had a 35-year run...

SCARBOROUGH:  Steve...

(CROSSTALK)

ADUBATO:  ... shocking that he got away with it for so long.

SCARBOROUGH:  Is the B-word “baby” or “bastard”?  I mean, we‘ve got the B-word, the N-word, the H-word.  There‘s so many letters for words, we‘re going to need a decoder by the end of the night to figure all this out.  Ana...

ADUBATO:  It‘s “bastard.”

SCARBOROUGH:  ... you were a guest...

ADUBATO:  I just want to (INAUDIBLE) it‘s “bastard.”

ANA MARIE COX, TIME.COM:  Excuse me?

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s “bastard.”  OK.  Thanks.  You just shocked a nation.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Ana, you were a guest of Imus‘s, and you wrote in “Time” magazine today that you regret that.  You said, quote,  “I found myself succumbing to the clubhouse mentality that Imus inspires and cultivates.  I‘ve said things on the show that cannot be printed here, but do I really want to give my approval to someone whose greatest gift of public discourse could be fairly described as allowing pundits to get potty-mouthed?”

Well, Ana, some people might say that‘s like a John Wayne deathbed conversion to—you know, to...

COX:  Well, if you‘re...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... Catholicism.  I mean, some...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Everybody scratched and clawed to get on Imus for years.  I saw grown men reduced to tears when he went after them.  What is it about this guy that made him so powerful that he got away with this and everybody loved being on his show?

COX:  Well, he was sort of president of the Washington boys‘ club, even though he was in New York.  It was something—it was very much a boys‘ club.  I was one of the few women actually to appear regularly on the show.  And I always felt a little bit compromised, and there was always kind of an aspect to being on the show that was like being the sort of—the girl invited into the back room to entertain the boys, and then as soon as you left, you were going to be talked about in maybe not so flattering terms.  But he was...

SCARBOROUGH:  Ana, did it make—did Imus—are you telling us that Imus made you feel dirty?

COX:  You know, it‘s funny.  Like, I wrote a little bit about that in my piece.  And it did make me feel a little uncomfortable, I have to say.  But as you know, Joe, I don‘t mind talking dirty.  I don‘t mind being potty-mouthed.  I‘m all for it, as a matter of fact.  But the fact is, that‘s not what Imus‘s problem was.  It wasn‘t that the politicians and pundits came on his show and got a little risque.  It‘s that he at times verged into sexism and racism.

ADUBATO:  Right.

COX:  And that‘s what I had a problem with.  You know, if you...

SCARBOROUGH:  Craig...

COX:  Go ahead.

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘m sorry.  No, you finish up.

COX:  Well, no, if he—if he had just sort of continued on a streak of, like, you know, calling Dick Cheney nicknames and calling Hillary names and all of these kinds of things, that would have been fine with me.  But he attacked individuals, private individuals.  And also, he did it—there was a continuing strain of bigotry on that program that always made me uncomfortable.  And in fact, as I wrote in “Time,” I‘m embarrassed that it took this to make me that I wouldn‘t go on again.  I should have said it long ago.

SCARBOROUGH:  Craig Crawford—Craig, you appeared 67 times.  Do you have any regrets about that, like Ana?

CRAIG CRAWFORD, “CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: 

Not at all.  I enjoyed talking to Imus.  We had, you know, a lot of conversations, and usually at 6:30 in the morning.  It was over a three-year period.  And you know, last time I was on, we talked about my electric razor.  I mean, we didn‘t get any potty-mouth.  We didn‘t talk about any of the, you know, racial stuff that Ana Marie referred to.  So I—you know, I just had a very different experience.

But what I come from on this show is I thought it served a very important public purpose in Washington, which is, you know, getting a lot of these newsmakers off their talking points.  He was an iconoclast in a sea of conventional wisdom, and I think it leaves a big hole here in Washington.

SCARBOROUGH:  I think it does, too.  You know, tonight, John Ridley, right now, you‘ve got Imus talking to the basketball team behind closed doors at the governor‘s mansion in New Jersey.  Well, this basketball team was also on Oprah Winfrey today.  You know when Oprah gets involved, somebody‘s in trouble.  The talk show queen interviewed the Rutgers University team today.  And listen to what she told them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST:  I speak for myself and every woman I know when I say that you all have made us so proud by the way you have handled this entire ordeal.  You‘ve handled it with such grace.  And I want to borrow a line from Maya Angelou, who is a personal mentor of mine, and I know you also feel the same way about her.  And she has said this many times, and I say this to you.  On behalf of myself and every woman that I know, you make me proud to spell my name W-O-M-A-N.  You‘ve really handled this beautifully.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  John, you know you‘re in trouble when Oprah gets after you.  Talk about what‘s going on, this media circus that‘s going on right now, and what good is going to come out of it?

JOHN RIDLEY, SCREENWRITER AND COMMENTATOR:  Well, two things.  One, you‘re absolutely right about Oprah.  I was talking to my wife this morning, and I said, Well, that‘s—that‘s it.  He‘s done now.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  He‘s screwed.

RIDLEY:  Well, no, I mean, it‘s Oprah, it‘s Don Imus.  You can‘t even compare it, you know?  It‘s the United States, our nuclear missiles against Togoland or something like that.

The media circus is the media circus that it is.  I mean, you have Don Imus—first of all, the journalists and all the excoriating that‘s been going on and everyone has been doing this soul-searching—after 30 years, they come to the conclusion that some of this stuff is inappropriate.  CBS and MSNBC have the guts to fire this guy after all of the sponsors have withdrawn their financial support.

I find it very odd to have this guy apologizing to Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, guys who‘ve demonstrated that they know their way around slurs and have never met an apology that they like.

The only people who really matter in all this are these Rutgers ladies.  If they had wanted him fired—and I believe one lady or her family has stepped forward and said that she would like him gone from his job—then he should have been fired.  If not, let them exact the toll that they think is adequate.

If he is being set aside because there isn‘t any money there, I‘m happy for that, too, because I think the market forces come to bear.  But these other people who‘ve been on his show, who‘ve benefited from his show, who‘ve used slurs, who are not doing anything about the rap music and the things that are out there—as I said before, Don Imus didn‘t get the phrase “nappy-headed ho” in his sleep.

To me, I‘m glad it‘s done because I think we can get back to the business of really addressing language and image in media.  And the question is, Are we ever going to do anything about it?

ADUBATO:  Joe?  Joe, can I...

SCARBOROUGH:  And that‘s the big question.  Well, hold on.  I want to play a brief interview I had with the Reverend Al Sharpton, talked to him just a short time ago.  And I asked him if he was surprised that Imus went after him on his radio show earlier this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK:  No, not at all.  And I think that he will probably continue to do that.  I think that he will find many Americans are going to say, Wait a minute.  We‘ve had our differences on many cases.  That‘s what happens (INAUDIBLE) A case (ph) is not what you were in the middle of, Mr. Imus.  What you were doing is taking some young ladies who were not accused of doing anything but getting above-average academic scores and excelled in bringing their school to the championship.  There‘s no sides there.  You created the sides, and I think that that is why it was appropriate he be held accountable for.

SCARBOROUGH:  Do you think he hurt himself when he went on your show and conducted himself in a way that a lot of people thought was not extraordinarily articulate, at one point saying, quote, “I can‘t win with you people.”  It sounded a lot like Ross Perot‘s address to the NAACP in 1992, “You people,” “You people.”

ROSS PEROT (I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Your people.  Your people do. 

I know that.  You know that.

SCARBOROUGH:  Do you think he hurt himself by going on your show?

SHARPTON:  I think that he did hurt himself because I think, rather than say that I have done this particular deed and I‘ve done it before, he tried to project he was a good person, that we just misunderstood him.  Now we find out in Bob Herbert‘s column today in “The New York Times” he had done this many times before, as well as we find that he‘s apologized before to the Chicago columnist Clarence Page.

So I think that when you match the record with what he was saying, he had the perfect opportunity to say, Listen, I should be held accountable, I‘ll see whatever the punishment is, and I‘m genuinely sorry.  He didn‘t.  He became very defensive, became very self-serving.  And then as you said, he made some statement that clearly suggested that he still didn‘t get it in terms of the power of words.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Steve Adubato, was it a mistake for Don Imus to go on Al Sharpton‘s show when he still didn‘t get it?

ADUBATO:  I do a seminar at Rutgers on crisis communication.  It‘s the next case study I‘m going to use.  It‘s one of the worst examples you‘ll ever see of someone going on, apologizing and making it worse, talking about the black kids who were in his camp, you know, where they take care of kids with cancer.  He blew it.  He made it worse.  He didn‘t understand, when you apologize, you say it and take the heat, and that is it.  I have to tell you, Joe, he blew it big-time.  He could have turned it around, but he just didn‘t understand how to just shut up at a certain point.

SCARBOROUGH:  Ana, was that the turning point?

CRAWFORD:  But you know, that‘s...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Is that when it got turned around?

COX:  No.  I actually think it was when the young women from Rutgers spoke on television.  That was really what sealed it for me, actually.  I think that when—the amount of class that they showed just really put into high relief how unclassy he had behaved.  And it made it very clear that this wasn‘t a question about whether—about free speech or about, you know, his right to say something or about what he brought to the national political dialogue, it was a case of—you know, of really going out of his way to insult these incredibly, you know, accomplished young women.  And I—I—that‘s what did it for me.

SCARBOROUGH:  Craig Crawford...

CRAWFORD:  You know, Joe—Joe...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on.  Hold on a second, Craig, baby.  Let me ask you the question first, then you can answer.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  You go back to Jimmy the Greek—you can talk about Jimmy the Greek, you can talk about Trent Lott, you can talk about—you can talk about Don Imus—these guys all go, they talk to Jesse Jackson, they talk to Al Sharpton, they bow, they scrape, they cry, they apologize, and then they‘re fired.  I mean, doesn‘t this send a message that the next time you screw up, just keep your mouth shut and don‘t talk to these people?

CRAWFORD:  Yes, maybe so.  I mean, that is what Imus doesn‘t do, and that‘s why he‘s popular with so many people.  He doesn‘t go to crisis communications classes.  He doesn‘t hire publicists.  He says what he thinks, right or wrong, and that‘s why so many people liked him.  I mean, he wasn‘t out there trying to save his job, I don‘t think...

ADUBATO:  Yes, he was, Craig.

CRAWFORD:  I mean, I think he—I think he genuinely felt that apology and knew...

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

ADUBATO:  ... not trying to save his job.  That‘s absurd!

CRAWFORD:  Phil Griffin—Phil Griffin said Imus knew what was coming.  He said that.

ADUBATO:  He still tried to save his job.  You live by the sword, you die by it, Craig.  You think that‘s a great philosophy...

CRAWFORD:  He believes...

ADUBATO:  ... I don‘t.

CRAWFORD:  But you‘re just contradicting yourself.  If you‘re...

ADUBATO:  No, I‘m not!

CRAWFORD:  No, if you‘re saying he didn‘t do what he needed to do to save himself, but he was trying to save himself, I mean...

ADUBATO:  No, I said...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Everybody, hold your thoughts!

CRAWFORD:  He said himself several times...

SCARBOROUGH:  Ana Marie—OK...

CRAWFORD:  ... I‘ve got enough money, I don‘t need this town.

SCARBOROUGH:  Step on the brake.  Step on the brake.  Just step slowly away from the microphone.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘ll be back with a lot more.  Stay with us.

Coming up next, we‘ve got a lot more with our all-star panel.  They‘ve got a lot to say on the cancellation of the Imus radio show.  Plus: It wasn‘t pretty when the I-man‘s radio colleagues heard the news.  You‘re going to hear their angry response next, saying they were ashamed to work for Imus‘s company.

And later, unseen clips of one of “DATELINE‘s” most shocking hidden camera predator investigations, the tape that gives a whole new meaning to raw footage.  That‘s coming up next.

Plus, Sanjaya survives!  But will “American Idol”?  The creators behind the hit show fight over just how far Sanjaya should be allowed to go.  Their candid comments next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If Don is watching or listening, we love you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Absolutely.  The way he was treated, it‘s unconscionable the way he was treated by this company.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There‘s no question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Unconscionable!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Can‘t do it to him like that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m embarrassed by the company.  I‘m embarrassed by their decision.  And it shows really the worst lack of taste I‘ve ever seen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Those are WFAN broadcasters reacting this afternoon right after the announcement that Don Imus had been fired.

Our all-star panel is back to talk about the fallout, John Ridley, Ana Marie Cox, Craig Crawford and Steve Adubato.  John, I want to read you a review from “The New York Times.”  Now, “The New York Times” wrote this review of a hip-hop group, Crime Mob, of their latest album.  This was written just three weeks ago, saying they were nostalgic for that, quote, “magical year this spectacularly unruly group emerged.”  In 2004, “The New York Times” called Crime Mob‘s debut album, quote, “addictive” and said it evoked “the gleeful mayhem of an out-of-control classroom.”

What gleeful lyrics fill the CD that “The New York Times” praised as “a marvelously titled anthem,” John?  Well, let‘s put them up on the screen for everybody.  “F-word N-word You‘re a Ho.  Pull the trigger on that ho.”

I mean, John...

RIDLEY:  Yes?

SCARBOROUGH:  ... everybody‘s talking about Don Imus.  The most powerful newspaper in the world, “The New York Times,” has been glorifying this type of crap, this type of garbage for years, since 2 Live Crew came out in the late 1980s.  Why doesn‘t Reverend Al Sharpton go and march on “The New York Times”?

RIDLEY:  Joe, as you know, I wrote an article in “Esquire” magazine about the images that black America puts out to the rest of America.  And a lot of the response was positive, but a lot of response—some of the response from some black people was negative.  Why are you talking about this?  How can you say these things?  And this is why, because of Don Imus.  People feel that it‘s appropriate.  And Don Imus feels like he gets a pass.

You talked about—you know, We saw this on rap music, I got it from here.  How come people don‘t go after it?  I don‘t know why Al Sharpton doesn‘t go after it.  Probably because there‘s not as much media coverage.  If MSNBC, NBC, CBS, CNN all were going to give the same amount of coverage to what‘s going on with rap music, I guarantee you Al Sharpton would be there.

My question is, I don‘t understand why anybody‘s going to Al Sharpton. 

He‘s not a black leader.

ADUBATO:  Absolutely right.

RIDLEY:  Despite the fact that I hear that phrase all the time, was not elected.  When he was running in 2004, blacks didn‘t vote for him.  He has said horrible things.  He has not apologized for the things that he‘s said.  So to me, by the most—the worst thing out of all these horrible things is that Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have been propped up.  They get another three or four years out of this.  Barack Obama...

(CROSSTALK)

RIDLEY:  Excuse me.  Barack Obama...

SCARBOROUGH:  Ana Marie Cox...

RIDLEY:  ... immediately stepped away from this.  Harold Ford stepped away from this.  Those are the guys we should be paying attention to.

ADUBATO:  Agreed.

SCARBOROUGH:  Ana Marie Cox, you talked about your concerns being on Imus‘s show.  But don‘t you feel there is an element of hypocrisy here by the mainstream media?

COX:  No.  In fact, I actually—I know you, Joe, and I know you‘re smarter than to make that direct comparison between Imus and “The New York Times”...

SCARBOROUGH:  Wait, wait, wait!  I‘m—I‘m smarter than what?

COX:  But you‘re—it‘s one—it‘s one thing—it‘s one—those are not—those are not parallel things.  For “The New York Times”...

SCARBOROUGH:  No.  No!

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  No, they‘re not, Ana, because “The New York Times”—

“The New York Times” is a hell of a lot more powerful than Don Imus.

COX:  But “The New York Times” is not...

SCARBOROUGH:  And when they glorify this type of music, I mean, they‘re propping it up more than Don Imus ever could.

ADUBATO:  Joe?  Joe, can I jump in real quick?

SCARBOROUGH:  No, I want Ana to answer.

ADUBATO:  OK.

COX:  OK.  Well, I just think—I mean, they‘re not propping it up. 

I mean, this was a review of an album.  I mean, you know, David Gregory and Tim Russert and Chris Matthews weren‘t sitting there with them while they wrote this review of this album.  Don Imus had a very special relationship with Washington media elite, and he used that in order to create some really wonderful conversations.  And I don‘t...

SCARBOROUGH:  I—I am...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I am floored.  I really am floored how you can look at “The New York Times” review, praise for this album of destructive lyrics that say the N-word over a hundred times...

COX:  Well, those...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... and somehow say that there‘s no harm in that.

COX:  It‘s a different context.  I mean, Joe, we can have an argument...

SCARBOROUGH:  The difference is...

COX:  We can have an argument about rap lyrics, if you want to.

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘m just...

(CROSSTALK)

COX:  ... because I don‘t know anything about rap...

ADUBATO:  ... the same discussion, Joe.

COX:  But we‘re having—we‘re having a discussion about Imus, and I feel...

SCARBOROUGH:  John...

(CROSSTALK)

RIDLEY:  I got to jump in here for a second, Joe, because you‘re right about hypocrisy, you‘re missing where the hypocrisy is.  Look at the masthead of “The New York Times.”  Look at who‘s delivering our news.  Morning, noon and night, we get it from white people.  And look, I‘m not trying to indict all white people, but of course it‘s hypocritical.  When you see this going on for so long—who was the first person to step up as a politician and say, I‘m not doing this show anymore?  It was Barack Obama.  You got John McCain saying it‘s no big deal.  You got Tom Oliphant saying it‘s no big deal.  Who‘s going to replace Don Imus?  Who‘s going to replace Don Imus?  Is it going to be another old white guy?  Is it going to be a Hispanic woman...

ADUBATO:  Joe...

RIDLEY:  ... an Asian man?  Who‘s going in there?

(CROSSTALK)

ADUBATO:  I got to defend “The New York Times”...

CRAWFORD:  ... only white people?  I don‘t—is that what...

ADUBATO:  Joe...

(CROSSTALK)

RIDLEY:  Yes, absolutely.  Yes.

ADUBATO:  Have whites cornered the market, John, on racism?  I‘m not -

I‘m not following your argument.  Are you saying—you just criticized...

RIDLEY:  It‘s hypocritical...

ADUBATO:  One second.

RIDLEY:  It‘s hypocritical...

ADUBATO:  One second.  You just criticized...

(CROSSTALK)

ADUBATO:  Just one second.  You criticized Al Sharpton.  Rightfully

so.  The Tawana Brawley affair, the “hymietown” of 1984 for Jesse Jackson -

never apologized.  Here‘s the question...

RIDLEY:  No, don‘t get up about what‘s being said...

ADUBATO:  One second.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  One at a time!

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  John—go ahead, John.

RIDLEY:  Don‘t get upset about Don Imus and then don‘t change things in—don‘t change the way that the news is delivered.  People would have done something differently.  And look, I‘m not saying that black people are immune to racism by any means.  But when you look at who‘s reacting and why they‘re reacting and why it‘s taken 30 years for people to react, it‘s not a surprise to us.

ADUBATO:  Point well taken...

(CROSSTALK)

RIDLEY:  It is not a surprise to us.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Everybody stay where you are.  We got to go to a break,

have a hard break right now.  Let me say this, though.  Again, I have been

consistent from the very beginning.  I‘ve condemned Don Imus‘s remarks.  I

can‘t understand why he would ever say it.  I would never say such things -

knock on wood somewhere here.  And I can‘t imagine why he would.  I never really got his humor, either.  It was mean-spirited humor.

At the same time, this is just such hypocrisy.  “The New York Times” writing editorials saying, Oh, my God, Don Imus should be fired for saying “nappy-headed hos,” and then three weeks ago, they‘re praising a destructive hip-hop album.  It—that is hypocrisy, any way you cut it.

Panel, stay with us.  We‘ll be right back with more.

Coming up, though: He may have had his fans, but is Sanjaya good for “Idol‘s” bottom line?  We‘re going to take a look at why some critics are blaming the non-hit wonder for “Idol‘s” ratings drop.

But first, it‘s Stephen Colbert‘s latest rantings.  That‘s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, friends, it‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” some video you just got to see.  Well, President Bush continues his assault on the English language in recent “Great moments in presidential speeches.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

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

GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I—a couple points, one that...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, good Lord!  And coming up next, infamous moments in “Predator” history, behind the scenes of NBC‘s hidden camera investigations.  But first, the greatest mystery facing America popular culture today.  is Sanjaya going to actually win “American Idol”?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And our all-star panel is back to discuss the Imus fallout.  Just had to hold them over to ask a couple more quick questions.

Craig Crawford, what‘s next for Don Imus? 

CRAWFORD:  Well, after a public stoning like this, I don‘t know that much would be left.  I think to call it a hanging would be dignified.  But he has a lot of fans out there.  I know from travels around the country and e-mails I‘ve gotten this week, and I imagine, if he wants it, after things settle down, people will realize—some people, anyway, that this was overkill, that he can find a home somewhere and probably make more money. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘ve got two letters for you:  XM.  They‘re going to make lots of money on Don Imus. 

Ana Marie Cox, you know, we‘ve talked about this basketball thing, but in the end, what took down Don Imus?

COX:  Well, I think, actually, I agree with John that it‘s really unfortunate that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton got to latch onto this and prop themselves up with it, because I don‘t think it‘s Al Sharpton that brought down Don Imus.  I think it‘s Al Roker. 

I think the fact that there are so many more women and blacks in media and in industry right now, this would have played out very differently 15, 20 years ago.  But the fact that you had a very well-respected on-air personality like Al Roker come out and express his upset about this, I think MSNBC and NBC couldn‘t really keep Imus on after something like that. 

And they wouldn‘t have had that problem, if you want to call it a problem -

I prefer to think of it as success—you know, 20 years ago. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, and I think you‘re exactly right.  In the end, when you‘re the president of NBC News, and you have African-American reporters and employees for NBC Universal/G.E. coming to you saying, “We‘re deeply offended by the words that Don Imus said,” I don‘t think if you‘re Steve Capus you have any other choice. 

Hey, John Ridley, Ana Marie Cox, Craig Crawford and Steve Adubato, thank you so much for being us with.  We greatly appreciate it. 

RIDLEY:  Thank you. 

ADUBATO:  Thanks.

SCARBOROUGH:  From the sad to the surreal, now to the national joke that is Sanjaya, who just won‘t go away.  Please, go away.  Once again, “American Idol‘s” most famous and least-talented contestant wasn‘t even in the bottom three. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN SEACREST, HOST, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  Who is going home?  This is “American Idol.” 

Sanjaya, sit down for the moment.  I‘ll get back to you. 

Sanjaya, would you please stand up?

SANJAYA MALAKAR, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  Hello again. 

SEACREST:  Hi there.  No, not yet, we‘re not ready.  Sit down.  We‘ll come back. 

Chris, would you stand up for us?  Sanjaya, please stand up.  Let‘s get into it now.  One of you is safe; the other is in the bottom three. 

Sanjaya, I‘ve been telling you to sit all night long.  Now, sit down again.  You‘re safe. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  As Sanjaya rolls on, the ratings for “Idol” are dropping.  The numbers hit a season low this week, and Sanjaya‘s “Idol” hijacking has the show talking out of both sides of its mouth.  “Idol‘s” music director saying, quote, “Sanjaya has a huge likeability factor.  I think it‘s possible for him to win, based on the way he‘s moved through the competition.”

Now, at the same time, one of “Idol‘s” executive producers is making this prediction:  “It‘s not going to happen.  Trust me.  Eventually America gets it right.  We‘re not worried.  We love Sanjaya, but he‘s not going to win.”

Oh, really?  Well, the national joke known as Sanjaya may have the last laugh and take down America‘s top show. 

Let‘s talk right now to former “American Idol” contestant Carmen Rasmusen.  Her new single is “Nothing like Summer.”  And Danny Bonaduce from “The Partridge Family” and VH1‘s “Breaking Bonaduce” and from the Adam Carolla Show on 97.1 FREE FM on the West Coast, a show I need to do very soon. 

Carmen, is Sanjaya going to win?  I mean, it could happen, right? 

CARMEN RASMUSEN, FORMER “AMERICAN IDOL” CONTESTANT:  You know what, Joe?  I didn‘t think it could, but at this point I‘m beginning to think he maybe could, and it‘s a little sickening.  I don‘t think that obviously he has the talent as the other competitors on the show. 

And he‘s a sweet kid.  He is extremely entertaining.  And I was at a radio show earlier this morning, and the deejay said, “My kid, my 6-year-old daughter is so in love with Sanjaya, she thinks of him like an Elvis.”  I mean, he said, if he walked in here, she would burst into tears and start crying, because she‘s so obsessed with him.  So he is getting so many votes from so many people. 

And at the other radio station I was at this morning in Huntsville, they were talking about they were voting for Sanjaya because they thought it was funny, and they were totally on the bandwagon, and they totally wanted to see him in the finals, whether or not he had talent. 

So the more I‘m out here and the more I‘m talking to people, I think he definitely could have a chance, whether he deserves to or not, to at least, I think, be in the bottom three, if not possibly take it all. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Danny, if he does win, what does that do to “American Idol”? 

DANNY BONADUCE, RADIO HOST:  Well, first of all, when you say, “I know a 6-year-old that thinks of him as Elvis,” I have a 6-year-old who I tried to teach to dial 911 and he can‘t get it.  He just (INAUDIBLE) phone.  So I don‘t think you‘re going to get a lot of votes from 6-year-olds that think you‘re Elvis. 

RASMUSEN:  A lot of little kids are very technically savvy texting. 

BONADUCE:  Then they‘re up on my kid or my 6-year-old.  But, anyway, I think what happens to “American Idol” is you change the rules.  You have to go by a judge, a jury, and a panel, because America will now make it their personal joke.  It will be their personal, private gag. 

And I feel bad for Sanjaya, because he‘s learning a lesson early on that you usually learn later and it‘s rather hard to take, and that is most performers are prostitutes.  I have been forced to say and do things there were not in line with my moral or ethical code, but it was my job.  I did it for a living.

This guy‘s a joke.  He‘s not as talented as the other contestants.  So is he going to continue to compete, possibly hindering the career of others, just in exchange for the fame and fortune?  And that‘s a hard and ugly lesson to be the national joke and decide to do it anyway. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, of course, the answer to that is yes.  And let‘s take a look at Sanjaya‘s performance and the judges‘ comments from Tuesday night.  And then let‘s talk about that. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RANDY JACKSON, JUDGE, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  That was actually really good. 

PAULA ABDUL, JUDGE, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  Nice.  It was very, very nice. 

SIMON COWELL, JUDGE, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  It wasn‘t horrible. 

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Carmen, what‘s happening?  It looks like spin control from politicians, saying, “This guy may win.  We better stop calling him an idiot.”

RASMUSEN:  I know.  And, you know, I actually agree with Danny when he said that “American Idol” can turn it into their own joke.  I mean, you saw how Ryan was playing off him the whole time, having him stand up and sit back down, and pointing to him before the show started and everything. 

And I actually agree with Randy.  I think that when he said that Sanjaya was one of the smartest contestants that had ever been on the show, he is.  He‘s known how to reinvent himself and to be wacky and crazy and to keep himself interesting week to week, and whether or not he‘s as talented as the other contestants. 

And, Joe, I wanted to ask you a question.  Do you think that Sanjaya is really as awful as everyone says he is?  Or do you think that the other contestants are so talented that he just pales in comparison?

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, I think Sanjaya is absolutely awful.  I‘ve been writing songs and singing since I was 13.  I‘m not saying I‘m great, but I‘ve been around a lot of people who are great singers and great musicians, and he‘s just absolutely awful. 

I think, though, this year‘s—a lot of contestants though were so much more boring than all the contestants of previous years, I just people are looking for a story line.  And, Danny Bonaduce, when have you no storyline if you‘re FOX, you make it up, and they‘ve made up this storyline, but it may be getting away from them.  In the end, does it destroy “Idol‘s” credibility if Sanjaya wins? 

BONADUCE:  I don‘t know, because I would think you would have to have credibility in order to lose it.  Did anybody really look at “American Idol” and think, “Well, this is all credible”?  This is exactly...

SCARBOROUGH:  They‘ve moved 100 million albums.  I mean, they‘ve sold so many albums.  They‘ve made careers.  Even their losers, Chris Daughtry, is on the cover of “Rolling Stone” this week.

BONADUCE:  I hate to burst your bubble, but I personally sold 28 million albums and never learned to play or sing.  So it really doesn‘t mean that much.  It‘s a money-making machine.  Don‘t get me wrong.  But so far, the real talent I‘ve seen from Sanjaya is he can stand and sit on Ryan‘s command, but so can my German Shepherd.  He shouldn‘t win “American Idol.”

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know, but, Danny, you could move and shake that tambourine.  You were good at that.

BONADUCE:  Thank you.

SCARBOROUGH:  Carmen, thank you so much.

RASMUSEN:  Thank you.

SCARBOROUGH:  Danny, stick around.  All right.  Are you in Huntsville, Alabama, by the way, Carmen?

RASMUSEN:  I said I‘d just like to add that I am not a performing prostitute, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, I will second that emotion, nor am I, unless it pays good money.

Coming up next, Mr. Bonaduce is going to join us for “Hollyweird” to talk about a topic he knows well, himself.  Danny talks about divorce, coming up. 

But first, it‘s a side of “Predator” you haven‘t seen.  And from the looks of this guy, there are parts nobody wants to see.  The never-before-seen footage, coming up.  And don‘t worry, we keep the gross stuff out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, you think you‘ve seen all of “Dateline‘s” shocking “To Catch a Predator” tapes in the series.  Think again.  For the first time, we‘re going to show you some of the outrageous hidden camera footage that was left on the cutting room floor.  Chris Hansen takes us behind the scenes of these busts in the “Predator” series.  It‘s called “Predator Raw:

The Unseen Tapes,” including the infamous predator we all know as the naked guy. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS HANSEN, CORRESPONDENT, “DATELINE NBC”:  John Kennelly is a guy who, in an online chat with someone he thought was a young teenage boy, said that he was a teacher at a prestigious high school in Virginia.  The chat is graphic.  At one point, the decoy said something about, you know, what would be really hot, strip down to your underwear in the garage and walk in.  Kennelly says, in the chat, I don‘t wear underwear.  Decoy says something to effect of, well, you know, come in how you are. 

And we really didn‘t think he was going to do it.  This is our second investigation.  And while we‘d seen some surprising things, you know, who‘s going to walk into a stranger‘s house naked?  Well...

Could you explain yourself? 

JOHN KENNELLY, CAUGHT ON CAMERA:  I‘m sorry.

HANSEN:  Go ahead and cover up. 

KENNELLY:  Certainly.  I‘m sorry.

HANSEN:  What‘s going on here? 

KENNELLY:  Your son IM‘d me, and he told me to come on over. 

HANSEN:  He IM‘d you?

KENNELLY:  Yes, sir.

HANSEN:  You can sit down.  How did he know to IM you?

KENNELLY:  I don‘t know, sir, honest.

HANSEN:  So he just chose you out of the blue, and said, “Come on over, get naked, and walk into my kitchen”?

KENNELLY:  Well, I sat there talking to him for a little bit, yes. 

HANSEN:  What did you guys talk about?

KENNELLY:  We were just talking about anything, sir. 

HANSEN:  How old are you? 

KENNELLY:  I‘m 29, sir. 

HANSEN:  Twenty-nine.  And what do you do for a living?

KENNELLY:  I drive a school bus. 

HANSEN:  You drive a school bus? 

KENNELLY:  Yes, sir. 

HANSEN:  And you thought it was appropriate to walk into the home of a 14-year-old boy, who you thought was alone, buck naked.  What was your plan? 

KENNELLY:  I don‘t know, sir. 

HANSEN:  What‘s your full name?

KENNELLY:  John Kennelly. 

HANSEN:  And you‘re a school bus driver or a teacher?

KENNELLY:  Teacher. 

HANSEN:  You‘re a teacher.  I‘m going to need to see some I.D.

KENNELLY:  (INAUDIBLE) I‘m sorry.

HANSEN:  I‘d like to see some I.D.

It turned out later that he was neither a teacher nor a bus driver. 

In fact, he was unemployed and had been for sometime. 

What kind of conduct is this for a high school teacher?

KENNELLY:  Sir, I‘ve never done this before. 

HANSEN:  You‘re going to tell me you‘ve never done this before?

KENNELLY:  No, sir. 

HANSEN:  So you just woke up this morning and said, “I‘m going to get involved in an Internet conversation with a 14-year-old boy.  I‘m going to go to his house, strip naked, and walk in with a 12-pack of beer”?  This was just something you thunk up today? 

KENNELLY:  No, sir. 

(CROSSTALK)

HANSEN:  Do you see how this looks, John? 

KENNELLY:  Yes, sir.

(CROSSTALK)

KENNELLY:  I‘m sorry. 

HANSEN:  Sorry doesn‘t cut it.  What would have happened?  What would have happened, John, if I wasn‘t here? 

KENNELLY:  I probably would have chickened out, sir. 

HANSEN:  Chickened out?  Do you see why that is hard for me to believe? 

KENNELLY:  I do, sir, but it‘s the truth. 

HANSEN:  You say to him, “Are you straight, bi or gay?”  He says, “Gay.  I just don‘t tell anyone.”  You said, “Sweet, I won‘t, I promise.”  You say, “You are so f-ing hot, bro, I want to be your boyfriend if will you have me, I‘m serious.” 

KENNELLY:  I was just chatting.  I was just...

HANSEN:  Chatting?  You‘re sitting in this kitchen naked, John. 

That‘s a step beyond chatting, isn‘t it? 

KENNELLY:  Yes, sir. 

HANSEN:  “I don‘t want to get you in trouble, bro.  I also don‘t want to get me in trouble, either.”  You knew this was wrong when you walked in. 

KENNELLY:  Yes, sir. 

HANSEN:  “I think I can learn real fast to love you,” 14 years old.  Do you know that it‘s illegal to have a conversation on the Internet with the intent to have sexual activity? 

KENNELLY:  Yes, sir, I do. 

HANSEN:  So you came here knowingly violating the law?

Kennelly was significant, because not only did he admit what he was doing was wrong, he also admits that he knew it was illegal and he showed up anyway. 

What do you think should happen to you? 

KENNELLY:  I don‘t know, sir. 

HANSEN:  Well, there‘s something you‘ve got to know.  I am not the father of the boy, but I am Chris Hansen of “Dateline NBC,” and we‘re doing a story on computer predators.  Anything else you‘d like to say to us, we‘d like to hear it.  If not, you‘re free to leave.

KENNELLY:  Thank you.

HANSEN:  You can take the towel to the garage and get dressed. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  You can catch “Predator Raw” tonight at 11:00 p.m.

Eastern, right here on MSNBC.

Coming up, “Hollyweird” with Danny Bonaduce.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, tell your assistant next time it better be a double shot of espresso or she‘s fired.  It‘s time for “Hollyweird,” baby.

First up, Danny Bonaduce‘s wife has filed for divorce after 16 years of marriage and is seeking custody of their two children.  And who better to talk about that than Danny Bonaduce himself?  We‘ve also got MSNBC‘s pop culture analyst Willie Geist, who‘s live in “Hollyweird” tonight.  That‘s exciting.

What‘s not exciting is divorce.  Danny, sorry about the bad news.  I was thinking about just bringing cameras into my house 24/7, but I guess that‘s probably not a good idea, is it? 

BONADUCE:  It‘s probably not a great idea.  But let me just correct the only thing that was even moderately wrong with that, is my wife has, indeed, filed for divorce, but she is not seeking custody of the children.  I‘m giving her custody of the children.  I love the woman.  She loves me.  It just didn‘t work out.  I will see the children whenever I‘m home.  We‘re not fighting about anything. 

SCARBOROUGH:  How much pressure (INAUDIBLE) having all the cameras around following you all the time add on your marriage? 

BONADUCE:  Well, I think it added a ton, but it was a fragile marriage.  You have to remember, I was a heavy drinker for a long, long time.  And I think what Gretchen believed was, after I had been sober long enough, she could forgive me for some my discretions, and she was wrong.  I had done so much damage in year‘s past that sobriety didn‘t fix them, and she just thought that kind of tension is not thing the best for the kids and we should separate. 

But I still live at home.  As a matter of fact, when I was talking to the producer of this show about what we were going to talk about, Gretchen was on the other line.  The three of us were all talking.  So it‘s very amicable.

Can I tell you something very strange about it?  I got a call from a bunch of different tabloids today saying, “We have paparazzi photographs of you doing this, this, this, and this.”  And I said, “OK.”  And one was me walking out of a liquor store with a brown paper bag, and another one was me fighting with Gretchen last night at a mall.  And they said, “Do you have a comment?”  And I said, yes, but I can‘t repeat it on television. 

And then I remember I was talking to my partner, Adam Carolla, and I said, “Only guilty people get indignant.”  So I said, listen, if there was booze in the bottle, I‘d lie to you.  Why don‘t you call the guy at the liquor store?  I buy the same thing every day, five days a week, at the exact same time, and he will tell you what I bought, which is, unfortunately, three packs of Marlboro and two packs of Halls cough drops. 

I said, as for the picture of me fighting with Gretchen last night at the mall, why don‘t you give her a call?  So they call, and she said, “I was nowhere near the mall.  I was buying furniture for Danny, because he lives downstairs now.  Danny was at the mall.”  But that‘s what I found weird.  Paparazzi are pretty...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  It is so weird. 

BONADUCE:  You know, paparazzi are for the a-list.  I‘m the b-list, man.  They‘re treating me like Ben Affleck and J-Lo, and I finally realized why.  They don‘t believe that we‘re breaking up over nothing.  They think there‘s a dead body in my trunk, and they want to find it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Danny, you‘re the a-list in “Hollyweird,” baby.  Always remember that.  And, listen, you and your wife are certainly in our thoughts and prayers, and we commend you for being amicable.  So many people know how difficult it is, including myself, and you always keep the kids first.  And that sounds like that‘s exactly what you‘re doing.

Willie Geist, we‘re not going to ask you about your state of affairs, but...

WILLIE GEIST, PRODUCER:  I‘m much less complicated. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, some would say a simpleton, but that‘s OK.  We‘ll get to that later.

TMZ is reporting that Katie Holmes, though...

BONADUCE:  Oh, come on, Willie, you can admit our affair.

SCARBOROUGH:  Not simple, exactly.  She‘s furious about a new book out called “Hollywood Car Wash.”  I guess she thinks it‘s about her, Willie.  What‘s going on?

GEIST:  Yes, this is a novel, Joe, about a young TV star who goes to Hollywood and enters into a contracted relationship with a movie star.  The author says it‘s based on “True Hollywood Stories,” and apparently Katie Holmes is furious about it.  And, of course, she is, Joe, because the truth hurts.  She has a contract that would make A-Rod jealous, with Tom Cruise.  I don‘t know how much she‘s making, but it‘s big paper to be married to him.

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it, baby.  And what about—what do you think, Danny, about this marriage, the Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes marriage?

BONADUCE:  Well, first of all, if it, in fact, is true that she‘s getting up to $10 million a year to be married to Tom Cruise, I‘m getting a divorce and losing half my money.  I will now marry Tom Cruise.  No problem at all.  I‘ll sign whatever you need.  Whatever favors you like, Tom, I think you‘re a very pretty man.  I really do.  So think about it.

SCARBOROUGH:  Willie Geist, not a bad deal, right? 

GEIST:  No, absolutely.  I‘d do it in a heartbeat.  In fact, Danny and I might be duking it out for Tom Cruise after the show. 

BONADUCE:  Oh, there‘s enough of Tom to go around.  We can share him, buddy. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly.  There‘s enough man there.

Danny Bonaduce, thank you and good luck.  Willie Geist, thank you, as always.  That‘s all the time we have in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  I‘ll see you later.

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

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2007 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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