updated 4/24/2007 1:06:45 PM ET 2007-04-24T17:06:45

Guests: John Ridley, Joan Walsh, Terry Holt, Tom O‘Neil, John Ridley, Craig Crawford, David Caplan, Kim Serafin

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  And tonight, Alec Baldwin‘s profanity-laced call to his, quote, “pig” of an 11-year-old daughter gets Rosie O‘Donnell running to his defense.  Yes, like that‘s going to help his image.  The latest on Baldwin‘s big problems ahead.

But first, excitement at the White House correspondents dinner, and no, we‘re not talking about Rich Little‘s Catskills comedy routine.  Instead, it was a blow-up between one of the Washington power types‘ most powerful men and two global warming-winning activists who also happen to be Hollywood heavyweights.  The battleground centered around “The New York Times” table at the Washington Hilton event, and what started as a citizen‘s request to take a closer look at global warming ended up in a verbal scuffle between Rove and Sheryl Crow.

Laurie David set the scene on the “Today” show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURIE DAVID, STOP GLOBAL WARMING COLLEGE TOUR:  We walked over to engage him.  I mean, the first thing I said, I urge to you maybe take another look at what‘s happening with global warming.  And he immediately got kind of, you know, just gruff and hostile with us.  And it kind of went downhill from there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Downhill was an understatement.  Laurie David wrote today, quote, “In his attempt to dismiss us, Mr. Rove turned his head toward the table.  But as soon as he did, Sheryl reached out to touch his arm.  Karl swung around and spat, Don‘t touch me.  Sheryl abruptly responded, You can‘t speak to us like that.  You work for us.  Karl quipped, I don‘t work for you, I work for the American people, to which Sheryl promptly reminded him, We are the American people.”

Now, the White House shot back today, defending Mr. Rove and taking a not so veiled swipe at Crow and David.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANA PERINO, ASST. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  I think Karl Rove just wanted to have some fun on Saturday night.  And I think he wasn‘t the only one.  And I just wish that they would channel some that Hollywood energy into something constructive, rather than baseless finger pointing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  White House observers say the showdown was a metaphor for a presidency under siege and out of touch and of a White House that‘s become used to having its way on everything from foreign wars to global warming.  So was this another example of White House arrogance or a few Hollywood types picking a political fight at a social event?

Here now to talk about it, John Ridley.  He‘s a screenwriter and frequent contributor to National Public Radio.  He‘s also the author of the book, “The American Way.”  Also Joan Walsh, editor-in-chief for Salon.com, and Terry Holt, former spokesman for President Bush‘s 2004 reelection campaign.

John, let me start with you.  I spent several hours with Sheryl Crow and Laurie David the day of this blow-up, and you know, they were very earnest, very energized about global warming.  And you know, they saw Karl Rove.  I mean, they saw a chance to talk about it with one of the most powerful men in America.  Is there anything wrong with that at a social event?

JOHN RIDLEY, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO:  I don‘t think there‘s anything wrong with it, but I don‘t know if these ladies actually thought they were going to get some kind of policy changed between the salad and the chicken.  So I think for them to feel as though something was actually going to be accomplished, particularly after six years of non-accomplishments, I think that was a little bit of a stretch.

On Karl Rove‘s side, I don‘t quite understand, at a dinner where everyone is mixing and mingling, why he couldn‘t have a photo op with, of all people, Sheryl Crow, for crying out loud.  I think that—you know, again, for an opportunity for these guys to at least get a photo op, to look good to the public, to say something nice and do what in Hollywood is sort of a typical blow-off, you know, Call my people later.  I think he could have done that, and everybody could have walked away and had a perfectly dull time with Rich Little afterwards.

SCARBOROUGH:  But you know, I know it was a perfectly dull time.  It was beyond dull.  It was Catskills dull.  But as always, you know, Mr. Bush was the butt of the jokes at this dinner.  I want you to take a look at what Mr. Bush and his wife had to sit through before the president gave his speech.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, “LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN”:  Number nine.

GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  If it feels good, do it.  If you‘ve got a problem, blame somebody else.

(LAUGHTER)

LETTERMAN:  Number eight.

BUSH:  The issue of immigration stirs intense emotions.  And in recent weeks, Americans have seen those emotions on display on the streets of major cities...

(LAUGHTER)

LETTERMAN:  Number seven.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  John, do you think Karl Rove and George Bush and the administration have simply had enough of being polite to these critics who‘ve gone after them for seven years, and are going to have a bunker mentality for the rest of the presidency?

RIDLEY:  I think they do.  I think that, clearly, they‘re tired of the critics.  On a more serious note, you can look at what President Bush said about Alberto Gonzales over the weekend, that he has more confidence in this individual after his testimony than ever before.  And even Newt Gingrich is saying it‘s time for Alberto Gonzales to go.  So I think that in general, yes, they do have a bunker mentality.  For whatever reason, they feel like they need to absolutely stay the course at this point.

But I think at the correspondents dinner, that‘s a little bit different.  Everyone knows going into it that both the president and the press are going to be made fun of.  It‘s meant to be sort of a light-hearted evening.  As someone said, I don‘t recall, you know, they‘re adversaries but not enemies.

So for Karl Rove—and again, I wasn‘t there, but as I understand, this thing blew up way out of proportion.  I think both sides probably could have handled it a little bit better.  I don‘t want to put it all on the administration.  I don‘t understand why, at a dinner where everyone is supposed to talk and try to get along, either side couldn‘t have been more polite about it.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Joan Walsh, a lot of people are suggesting that they should not have approached Karl Rove, certainly not to talk about policy on global warming.  But why do you think Mr. Rove went off like this in a very public place, when he had to know it would mean bad publicity for him and the White House?

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM:  Maybe he thinks he‘s playing to his base.  Maybe he thinks that he‘s going to win points by attacking two Hollywood women, Joe.  But I think it‘s just rank hypocrisy.  I mean, remember, last month, we were all laughing, or some of us were laughing at MC Rove and his homies in the press corps.  I mean, these dinners are, some people consider, the height of hypocrisy.  It shows how clubby the White House elite is.  The media hobnobs with the politicians, and the politicians hobnob, too.  And if you can get some Hollywood celebrities to come, you‘re ahead of the game.

And so for these two women to approach him, it‘s par for the course.  They did not ask him about the dead people—dead soldiers in Iraq.  They didn‘t ask him about Valerie Plame.  They didn‘t ask him about his missing e-mails.  They asked him about global warming.  That‘s perfectly fine Hollywood or Washington party conversation.  And he snapped.

And I think you‘re right, it shows an administration that is not used to hearing from its critics.  I think what John raised before was interesting.  Dana Perino said that the president has more confidence in Alberto Gonzales after his disastrous testimony, and then she had to admit he had not seen it.  That just blew my mind.  He‘s not even watching, but he has more confidence.  So they live in a bubble.  Now they‘re under siege, and they‘re behaving really badly at a nice Washington Hollywood dinner.  It‘s just silly.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Terry, Hollywood‘s attacked Republicans forever, and Republicans have reciprocated and won votes because of it.  I mean, you can look at “Rolling Stone” and other entertainment magazines that always run anti-Bush stories all the time.  You think this is a case, like Joan suggests, where both sides win by attacking each other?

TERRY HOLT, FORMER BUSH SPOKESMAN:  Well, maybe.  But this was smart versus stupid, not liberal versus conservative.  This is how you do it.  The White House correspondents dinner, it‘s like walking into a “Star Wars” bar.  I saw you there, Joe, probably the most normal guy I saw at the whole dinner.  But you know, I think that what we...

SCARBOROUGH:  Nice taste, Terry.

HOLT:  You looked great, too.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  Thank you.

HOLT:  But listen, this—these circumstances are where Washington, Hollywood, sports and entertainment collide.  There are hundreds of awkward moments, and most of us take it in great stride.  In this circumstance, the way that it should have been handled—and there are so many folks who come from Hollywood and don‘t understand that Washington‘s really easy and commonsensical in how you approach it.  You walk up to Karl.  You‘re nice.  You say, Hello, I‘m Sheryl Crow.  I‘m interested in global warming.  Have a nice dinner, and then you call the White House three days later and ask if you can have an appointment.  You don‘t corner the guy while he‘s sitting as a guest of “The New York Times” and ambush him.

It seems like if you‘re going to do this well, as people like Bono do, where you come to Washington with a level of seriousness, you don‘t get sucked into all the partisan stuff that happens here and you make progress on your issue.  I think that more people could take an example from someone like Bono and take a more sophisticated approach and not necessarily do your serious business at one of the oddest social gatherings in all of Washington.  It was wrong tactics.

(CROSSTALK)

HOLT:  ... you just sound like you‘re upset you didn‘t get invited. 

I‘m sorry.

WALSH:  And Terry, come on.  You think that Karl Rove is going to sit down with Sheryl Crow and Laurie David and invite them and have a nice lunch to talk about global warming?  Come on!

HOLT:  You never know, and...

WALSH:  He goes out on a Saturday night, he opens himself up, he‘s with the people...

HOLT:  I beg your pardon!

WALSH:  ... and then he complains that...

HOLT:  Listen to me, please.

WALSH:  ... he has to...

HOLT:  Just for a moment.

WALSH:  ... talk about politics.

HOLT:  Just for a moment.

WALSH:  Sure.

HOLT:  There are dozens and dozens of people that come to the White House or come to Washington every day that don‘t fit the natural mold.  In fact, what‘s interesting about Washington is that if you play it right, your argument can have power.  The global warming issue is an emerging issue among the middle class and among Republicans.

WALSH:  Absolutely.

HOLT:  And if you approach that issue in the right way, if you bring a level of seriousness to it—Karl Rove is not dumb about global warming.  He knows more about it than all of us on this panel combined.  If you deal with it...

WALSH:  I don‘t think so.

HOLT:  ... in a sophisticated way, then you‘re likely to have a chance.  And the example of that would be Bono.  Bono came to town in 1999.  In fact, I was there for the first visit, where Republicans weren‘t terribly sympathetic about the AIDS issue in Africa, and he has slowly won converts to the point where now, whenever he comes to town, he meets with Josh Bolten, he meets with Republican leaders on the Hill.  He‘s not getting sucked into the partisan bickering that happens here on Capitol Hill and in the executive branch.  We could all take an example from that.  You take a sophisticated approach, and you‘re friendly first and not confrontational.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I understand that, but John Ridley, though, also for Karl Rove, there‘s not a really big political down side to whacking a rock star like Sheryl Crow, right?

RIDLEY:  No, I don‘t think, at this point in his career, where the administration is, there‘s any down side.  But there are things that, in a slightly funny way, in a slightly serious way, that I don‘t quite understand about the way he handled the situation.  Reportedly, Sheryl just touched him on the arm, and he jerked away from her.  And I mean, quite frankly, what man in America doesn‘t want Sheryl Crow on his arm?  I mean, that...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  It is troubling to me.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘m not going to lie to you, it‘s very troubling to me that he would jerk away like that from her.  But you know, the thing that‘s interesting, though, John, is it seems to me—I mean, Karl Rove‘s a public servant.  One of my favorite political stories when somebody asks me if they should run for office is I tell them on Christmas Eve, I had my family together for a lunch, and it was one of the first days I‘d had off in a long time, and I had some guy come up, and he was talking to me for 15 minutes.  I kept kind of pointing over, Hey, I really need to get back to my young kids, but I stayed there and I had to talk to him because that was my job.  I was a public servant.  That‘s why I got paid to do it.

I guess that‘s what surprises me about Karl Rove, that—I mean, everybody‘s human, but the guy is a public servant.  He‘s got to know it‘s a lot easier for him just to say, You know what?  Thanks a lot.  I appreciate your insights, and why don‘t you give us a call?

RIDLEY:  But you know, Joe, you‘re right about this.  I mean, Republicans have been on the other side of Hollywood for a very long time.  There isn‘t a lot of give and take or opportunity to have a common conversation because often the partisan rhetoric that comes out of Hollywood is so viscerally angry, and frankly, judgmental about Republican policies that...

SCARBOROUGH:  But you‘ve got to work through that, though.

RIDLEY:  ... maybe there‘s not an opportunity to have that conversation.

SCARBOROUGH:  I mean, listen, you know, I was—listen, I was on the bus with Sheryl Crow and with Laurie David and Larry David, and a good part of that had to do with the fact that I sat there, had been listening to them.  You know,  a lot of—I‘ve had a lot of people in Hollywood say nasty things about me.  They‘ve been judgmental about me without knowing me.

RIDLEY:  Well, and...

SCARBOROUGH:  But you just sit there and—you talked about—you talked about being mature about this and being smart about it.  Well, it seems to me...

RIDLEY:  But it pays off.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... that cuts both ways.

(CROSSTALK)

HOLT:  But Joe, remember in the last campaign in 2004, there was an event up in New York where Chevy Chase and I believe it was Whoopi Goldberg...

SCARBOROUGH:  No, I mean...

(CROSSTALK)

HOLT:  ... had had way too much to drink...

SCARBOROUGH:  I know.

HOLT:  ... and they made...

SCARBOROUGH:  I understand...

(CROSSTALK)

HOLT:  ... in the Panhandle of Florida and they made fun of people in West Virginia.

SCARBOROUGH:  I understand, Terry.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, buddy, you‘re filibustering.  John, let me let you in.  Go ahead.

RIDLEY:  OK.  Yes, but listen, clearly, people have said things on both sides that nobody likes.  But what did Sheryl Crow say to him in the moment, whether it was the right time or not—and by the way, I‘m not necessarily saying it is the right time—she came up and said, Look, I want to talk about global warming.

I think there were a lot of ways for Karl Rove to defuse that situation without, you know, taking it to the nuclear level.  So to me—and I agree with Joe that that is part of being a politician.  It‘s being a diplomat.  And the fact that Karl Rove could not be diplomatic to someone, particularly when, again, as Joan is saying, this is not—you know, this is not AIDS in Africa, this is not people getting killed, it‘s simply global warming.  How hard is it to say, I appreciate that, give me a call, we‘ll talk about it?

SCARBOROUGH:  Boy, I‘ll tell you what, I think it just shows what a great divide there is, unfortunately, not just between Hollywood and Washington but between the left and the right, blue state, red state America, you name it.  Unfortunately, we‘re a divided country, and you go to one of these civil events and—you know, and it gets ugly there.

Joan Walsh, Terry Hold, John Ridley, thank you so much.  Greatly appreciate it.

Coming up, the Imus effect.  So why can politicians and rap moguls who rail against the former radio host make millions off of language that‘s even worse?  The double standard debate continues, and how it‘s going to impact the 2008 elections and those candidates that are taking rap dollars.

And later: Washington loses its sense of humor.  Stephen Colbert‘s edgy performance at last year‘s White House correspondents dinner leads to a night of yawns.  Plus, how Sanjaya stole the show.

But first: Rosie rushes to Alec Baldwin‘s defense after the actor is caught leaving a scathing voice-mail to his 11 or 12-year-old daughter.  Why Rosie thinks it‘s all right to call your daughter a pig.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s the voice we all heard around the world, Alec Baldwin‘s telephone tirade against his 11-year-old daughter, Ireland, calling her a “rude, thoughtless little pig.”  Take a listen to some of that call, obtained by TMZ.com.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR:  You have insulted me!  You don‘t have the brains or the decency as a human being.  I don‘t give a damn that you‘re 12 years old or 11 years old or that you‘re a child or that your mother is a thoughtless pain in the (DELETED) who doesn‘t care about what you do, as far as I‘m concerned.  You have humiliated me for the last time with this phone.

You are a rude, thoughtless little pig, OK?

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, everybody seems to have an opinion, including the ladies on “The View.”  Cue Rosie O‘Donnell.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSIE O‘DONNELL, “THE VIEW”:  He loves that kid.  There‘s no doubt about it.  And he flipped out.  There‘s no doubt about it.  But being kept from your child, I think, causes irrational rage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  So with friends like Rosie, who needs enemies?  Will her support help or hurt Alec Baldwin?  And is it curtains for his career?

Here to talk about it, along with the very latest update, is “In Touch Weekly‘s” Tom O‘Neil.  Tom, first of all, before we get into all of this,  give us an update.  What‘s happened in the Alec Baldwin-Ireland saga?

TOM O‘NEIL, “IN TOUCH WEEKLY”:  Well, just hours ago, less than two or three hours ago, Kim Basinger has finally spoken up, and she said she didn‘t release that tape.  Now, you might say, Oh, come on, give me a break.  But here‘s an interesting theory for us all.  Remember where this voice message was left, on a phone in Ireland‘s room that was ordered by the court—in the custody split-up in this family, Alec got visitation rights for two weekends a month and a phone specially installed in his daughter‘s bedroom just for scheduled phone appointments, which apparently, she wasn‘t keeping.  When she‘d hear that phone rang, it was Daddy.  Now, what if Ireland released these messages?  What if things are so bad between her and Dad that she did it?

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, I mean, that‘s a possibility.  But you know, Alec Baldwin has had a long history of having these anger problems.  Take a listen to Alec Baldwin when he unleashed on—it‘s like a 75-year-old congressman suggesting that he and his family be killed.  This is on Conan O‘Brien‘s show a while back.  Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN:  All of us together would go down to Washington and we would stone Henry Hyde to death!  We would stone him to death!

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

BALDWIN:  (INAUDIBLE)  we would stone Henry Hyde to death, then we‘d go to their homes and we‘d kill their wives and their children!

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Tom, a lot of people didn‘t find that funny.  Conan never replayed that interview again, he was so shocked by it.  But you know, the guy just lost it in front of a national audience, saying that a 75-year-old guy should be dragged out of his home and stoned to death, along with his family and other public officials.  I mean, what‘s wrong with this guy?  He‘s always had an anger problem, hasn‘t he.

O‘NEIL:  He has.  And I think that‘s what‘s going unreported in this story.  Just last year, exactly last April, a co-star of the show that he was on on Broadway withdrew from the show, sued the production because she said she was in such physical danger, the whole cast, that he was throwing things at them, punching walls.

He has in the last few years been ordered bay court judge to pay up money to paparazzi that he has physically attacked.  And let‘s keep in mind that Kim Basinger has accused him of such physical abuse, she says that she still has back trouble to this day.  She claims that she was so frustrated by the physical abuse, which she has never defined, that she thought of killing him and going on a murderous rampage herself.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, I was just going to he‘s been—she‘s—he‘s accused her of being a little bit crazy, too.  I mean, this is couple that‘s been very volatile through the years.

O‘NEIL:  Oh, yes.  And that‘s unfortunately what we‘re seeing now.  They split up in 2002.  Why is this custody fight still going on?  He dragged her into court for contempt of court charges because she wasn‘t following up on her terms of the custody fight, but she can‘t control whether or not Ireland answers that phone or not.

Now, there are reports, by the way, that on Friday, that he actually went to her school to confront her.  Remember, this broke on Thursday, and in the phone message we‘ve all just heard, there was a part that—unheard where he says, I‘m getting on a plane, I‘m coming out there and I‘m going to straighten out your blankety-blank-blank.  And he promised it was going to be on the 20th, which was Friday.  There‘s a report at Hollywoodwiretap.com, which I consider a very reputable site, that said he showed up at the school.  And when she wasn‘t there, that he started—she started—he started talking with the parents there, who were telling him sympathetic things.  He got on the plane, went back to New York.  Now Ireland has been spotted publicly with security guards.

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘ll tell you, it‘s a sad story.  Of course, Alec Baldwin has apologized, and we‘ll see what happens as we move forward.  Thanks a lot, Tom O‘Neil.  Greatly appreciate your insight.  I‘m a big fan of Alec Baldwin, certainly what he does on the TV and certainly what he does on “30 Rock,” one of the funniest guys on TV.  It‘s just a very sad chapter in a custody fight that‘s ongoing.  Hopefully, these parents can put it behind them.

Coming up, Hillary and Obama were quick to slam Imus for his slur, so why are they taking money from artists who profit over even more controversial language?  We‘re going to take a look at Washington‘s “Hip-Hop Hypocrisy” straight ahead.

But first, Sanjaya may be long gone, but the celebration‘s still going on.  “Must See S.C.” next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, put a big smile on your face, it‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” some video you got to see.  First up, David Letterman expands his comedy archives with more “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 also reminded him that—that...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, it‘s the gift that just keeps on giving.

And finally, it was such a sad day when Sanjaya was voted off of “Idol.”  Wait!  No, it wasn‘t!  Jimmy Kimmel shows us how it really went down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Sanjaya, you are going home tonight.

GERALD R. FORD, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  That means what?  Vote two times this week for Lakisha (ph).

Coming up: Rich Little could learn a little bit from “Must See S.C.”  We‘re going to show you his attempt at humor at the weekend‘s White House correspondents dinner and why Stephen Colbert is being blamed for the night the laughter died.

But first: Hip-hop tries to clean up its act after the Imus fallout, but will it work as long as politicians keep taking money from gangsta rappers?  And what kind of impact is that going to have on the 2008 election?  That‘s coming up next.  It‘s “Hip-Hop Hypocrisy.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up, Washington parties like it‘s 1984?  Thank you, Rich Little.  We‘re going to look at why Stephen Colbert is being blamed for one of the lamest White House correspondent dinners in recent memory.  He wasn‘t even there.  That story and more, minutes away.

But, first, the Imus fallout is continuing.  Now, two NYPD sergeants and an officer are under investigation for using the same racial slur that got the radio giant fired.  And while the NYPD is taking the moral high ground, a contributor to the “New York Times” is writing today that NBC and CBS fired Imus because it was business, pure business, saying, “Imus‘ freedom of speech was not restricted in any way that is prohibited by the First Amendment.  Congress did not abridge his freedom of speech.”  A corporate entity determined that his free speech, which it was paying for, wasn‘t worth the trouble. 

Also today—this is interesting—hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons announced the recording industry should start banning the b-word, the n-word, and the ho-word.  That was a huge change in position for the man who immediately said following Imus‘ firing that hip-hop, quote, “may be uncomfortable for some to hear, but our job is not to silence or censor that expression.” 

So will Imus‘ firing result in an examination of racist speech?  Or will the hypocrisy continue?  Will the double standard continue?  Will one race of people be able to say one thing that will get others fired?  Still with us, John Ridley and Craig Crawford, contributing editor and columnist at “Congressional Quarterly,” and an MSNBC political analyst.  And they keep writing in his intro, and they will probably for the next 67 years, he has appeared on Imus 67 times. 

CRAIG CRAWFORD, COLUMNIST, “CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY”:  Is that going on my tomb?  Are you going to put that on my tomb, as well? 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what?  If I outlive you, Crawford, damn right. 

CRAWFORD:  All right.

SCARBOROUGH:  John Ridley, let me start with you.  There are so many interesting things here.  I want to first ask you the big question, though.  I think you talked about this last week, “New York Times” columnist saying this wasn‘t about morals, you know, why Imus was fired.  It was all about money.  It was all about the bottom line.  Is that true? 

JOHN RIDLEY, COMMENTATOR AND SCREENWRITER:  I mean, for me, yes, I agree with that.  I think it was easy to fire Don Imus once all the sponsors, the majority of the sponsors had pulled out.  It would have been more difficult or more wrenching for CBS had the sponsors stayed in.  And they were staring down this big wad of cash. 

So I think CBS, and to a degree MSNBC, they liked to look like they did the right thing.  I‘m not saying that firing him was necessarily the right thing, but at the same time, how hard is it to fire a guy whose job is to bring in money for his corporate parent when there‘s no money there?  You‘re not firing him for anything.  He doesn‘t have a job.  Let him go. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, what‘s interesting about this, Craig Crawford, it started with Imus.  We saw today that now the hip-hop industry is starting to feel the heat, and they‘re saying, “Wait a second, each though white liberals like Bill Maher are saying there should be a double standard, maybe there shouldn‘t after all.”

But now it‘s getting into the presidential race.  Do you remember Barack Obama calling for Imus to be fired?  One of the first guys that did.  He said, “He didn‘t just cross the line, he fed into some of the worst stereotypes.  It was a degrading comment.  It‘s one that I‘m not interested in supporting.”  He even went so far as to compare what Don Imus said to the massacre at Virginia Tech, saying, quote, “There‘s also another kind of violence, though, that we‘re going to have to talk about.  It‘s not necessarily physical violence, but that‘s the violence that we perpetrate on each other in other ways.”  And he was talking about Imus. 

Last week, the big news, obviously, had to do with Imus and the verbal violence that was directed at young women who were role models for all of us.  But, Craig, Obama has no problem supporting that kind of language when it comes to taking campaign support from record producer David Geffen, who puts out Snoop Dogg albums that are filled with the n-word.  And last November, Senator Obama even invited rapper Ludacris to his Chicago office to talk about, quote, “lighting the way for the nation‘s youth.”

And let me read you really quickly.  This is what Ludacris sang about.  “You‘s a ho.  You doing ho activities with ho tendencies, but hos don‘t feel so sad and blue because most of us”—and then he used the n-word—

“is hos, too.”

RIDLEY:  Very rapid, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Not a double standard.  Yes, exactly, baby.  Yo, yo.  Not a double standard.  Is there such thing as a triple or quadruple standard by Barack Obama, who was so shocked and offended, and yet embraces these people, like David Geffen, who makes billions of dollars off of rap when they decide to support him? 

CRAWFORD:  Let me start doing rap, Joe.  That would put it out of business for good. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, exactly. 

CRAWFORD:  But, you know, Obama may change that tune down the road, because I think there is a growing movement among Washington lawmakers to really get serious, maybe not legislation, but hearings and pressure on that industry, on the hip-hop rap industry. 

I talked to an African-American congressman this week, David Scott, who actually saw our exchange last Friday night here on the show.  And what he was saying was that he really hoped this Imus episode would produce is a real serious focus on that and bring leadership...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  But let‘s talk about Obama, though.  And I think that‘s starting to happen, but let‘s talk about Barack Obama for a second.  Again, here is a guy who was so shocked and so deeply offended, and yet he‘s making so much money in his campaign off of people that make so much money dealing in these degrading stereotypes every day of their career. 

RIDLEY:  But, Joe...

CRAWFORD:  Well, I mean, like I always say, Joe, in Washington, I mean, if hypocrisy were a virus, we‘d all be dead. 

SCARBOROUGH:  John? 

RIDLEY:  Well, I agree with Craig on.  There‘s a lot of hypocrisy to go around. 

I would say this about Barack Obama.  First of all, with David Geffen,

I mean, David Geffen has been out of the music business since 1995, when he

stepped down from the head of Geffen Records.  I think that the issue here

and, Joe, as you know, I‘ve written about these images and these words. 

I think black people need to take more responsibility for these images and the words that we put out there ourselves. 

But here‘s the thing.  I don‘t think you can just stop at saying, “You‘ve got a problem with Ludacris.  You‘ve got a problem with Timbaland.  And Hillary Clinton taking money from him.”  Let‘s not forget that it‘s big business that puts these words and images out there.

And in the last election cycle, in 2006, you had the top 20 major media companies spending $23 million on campaigns.  So I think it‘s one thing to go after the kids who are saying it, but if you really want to cut this off, much like with Imus, you‘ve got to make the business environment such that these kinds of things will not survive.  Let‘s go after the big guys who are making the big money, not just the kids who are making good money. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I agree with you. 

CRAWFORD:  It‘s not just a black issue.  I mean, so other candidates need to be held to this spotlight, as well as Obama, because one thing I‘ve learned in this debate is how much of the audience of rap stars and some of the most offensive language in this music is white kids in the suburbs. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, white kids download all of this music so much, and I know that because I‘ve got a 19-year-old.  He doesn‘t download it, but all of his friends do. 

No, it‘s not just black kids that are buying hip-hop albums by Ludacris—or CDs.  That‘s how old I am, albums.  I mean, it‘s white kids.  It‘s everybody.

And speaking of other candidates, you know, a few weeks ago, Hillary Clinton, who‘s also calling for Don Imus to be fired, let me read you her remarks.  She said that “Imus showed a disregard for basic decency and it was disrespect and degrading to African-Americans and women everywhere.”

But according to the “Washington Post,” like you said, rapper Timbaland recently hosted a fundraiser for her which netted $800,000.  And his latest album is called “Timberland Presents Shock Value,” featured also degrading lyrics. 

We‘re just going to put them up on the screen so you guys don‘t mock me.  I‘m not going to read it. 

(LAUGHTER)

RIDLEY:  Come on, rap it, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  You guys read it.  I just can‘t do it any more. 

Again, we can talk about—John, we can talk about corporate entities, but don‘t you think that this is going to be an issue down the road, if Hillary Clinton and if Barack Obama and if any other candidates that receive money from guys that use this type of language, don‘t you think the debates change so much that they may have to give their money back? 

RIDLEY:  Well, I hope it becomes an issue for me and for us.  And when I say that, I mean black people, Joe.  I think this is a really important issue for us. 

I don‘t know that, in the overall scheme of things in what we‘re dealing with, it‘s the most important issue for America as a whole.  And I hope that these smaller issues, whether it‘s something like this or for another candidate, taking money from big tobacco, yes, these are things that we need to look at, but they‘re not the most important issues. 

I do think, for black America, you know, we‘ve moved on in the news cycle.  There are other things that are at the fore now.  But I would like to see a lot of the individuals who were calling for Imus to get fired, that they keep the charge going about the images we put out there. 

CRAWFORD:  Well, it‘s very easy, too.  What to do about it is the Sharpton model in the Imus case, is to pressure advertisers to stop advertising wherever this appears and companies, boycotts.  I mean, that‘s the test for the Sharptons of the world, whether they cross over from just criticizing this stuff to actually boycotting it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, of course, they are criticizing it strongly now.  And I think, from hearing it, what Al Sharpton has been saying the past couple of weeks, I think he is going to start to go more aggressively against these type of hip-hop artists.  It looks like this Imus debate, this so-called Imus effect is actually going to have an impact and, I think, in the end, an impact for the better.

John Ridley, Craig Crawford, thank you so much for being with us tonight and thank you for mocking my rapping abilities. 

Coming up next, you know it‘s bad when Sanjaya is the best thing about the White House correspondents dinner.  Why Stephen Colbert is being blamed for this year‘s humorless event. 

And later in “Hollyweird,” Justin Timberlake, good God, one of the sexiest men alive?  The results of a disturbing new survey that suggests all the masculinity has been sucked out of America. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICH LITTLE, COMEDIAN:  I took our little dog, Checkers.  I put him on the leash and took him for a walk in this field.  Damn it, it was a reporter.  He said, “What are you doing out there?”  So I said, “I‘m trying to win a Nobel Peace Prize.”  And he said, “I don‘t understand.”  I said, “Well, listen, if you want to win a Nobel Peace Prize, you have to be outstanding in your field.”

(END VIDEO CLIP)  

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, my god.  The comedic stylings of Rich Little!  Ladies and gentlemen, believe it or not, he was a comedic headliner for this year‘s White House correspondents dinner.  You heard me right.  I mean, I loved Rich Little like 20 years ago, but it was so bad that “Vanity Fair” columnist Christopher Hitchens told “The New York Times,” quote, “The event was disgraceful, so lame and mediocre that it is beyond parody.” 

So how did what‘s supposed to be like the hippest night in Washington become a bad joke?  Some are blaming Stephen Colbert.  I‘m blaming Stephen Colbert, who wasn‘t even there this year.  You know, his performance last year was so edgy and so anti-Bush that this year‘s dinner was forced into being like a bad episode of “Love Boat,” one that even included Sanjaya. 

So are we still paying for the sins of Stephen Colbert?  We‘re joined again by Craig Crawford, who was at Saturday night‘s dinner.

Craig, I must say—and I don‘t want to beat up on Rich Little.  I was a big fan of his, like, in 1942.  That was, without a doubt, one of the most painful, painful routines I‘ve ever seen in my life.  I mean, we were still paying for the sins of Stephen Colbert, weren‘t we? 

CRAWFORD:  Well, that might have been a factor, but he also had a lousy warm-up act, Joe.  I mean, the president decided to take a pass on the usual light-hearted speech because of the Virginia Tech tragedy and essentially almost was saying it‘s inappropriate to make jokes tonight.  And then, the next thing you know, Little was supposed to get up and make jokes.  So that wasn‘t much of a warm-up for him, for starters. 

But I actually liked the Reagan and Nixon impressions.  He‘s older now, and now he actually looks exactly like Nixon. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, he is getting there.  But, you know, you‘re exactly right.  For those that weren‘t at the dinner, the president always gets up and will tell jokes.  Usually they‘re self-deprecating jokes.  But...

CRAWFORD:  You almost had to wonder if that was a response to Colbert. 

I wondered about that. 

(CROSSTALK)

CRAWFORD:  The president was responding to—I mean, Colbert was pretty insulting to him.  At least that‘s how the White House viewed it last year.  And maybe they decided, well, heck, we‘re just not going to play this year. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, and it didn‘t look like he was going to play.  And you know, one of the highlights from Saturday night was Letterman‘s top 10 favorite George W. Bush moments.  And, again, that‘s something the president had to sit through and listen to.  And I don‘t know how much he and the first lady thought it was funny.  Let‘s play you the top three. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, “LATE SHOW”:  Number two...

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  ... doing a better job of talking to each other.  The left hand now knows what the right hand is doing.

(LAUGHTER)

LETTERMAN:  And the number-one favorite George W. Bush moment...

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

SCARBOROUGH:  Do you think this type of event has run its course, where the president has basically said, “Just, you know, forget you guys, I‘ve had enough.  You insult me all the time.  I‘m just not going to play along any more”? 

CRAWFORD:  Well, you know, but presidents also like this forum, Joe, when it‘s useful to them and their wives.  I remember Nancy Reagan at another dinner, a gridiron dinner, restored a bad image she had gotten for herself, singing a song.  And it does tend to diffuse stories now and then when presidents are in trouble, so they‘ve use it had to their advantage in the past. 

It‘s just that President Bush, for whatever reason the other night, the stated reason was about the Virginia Tech shootings, but I‘ve got to tell you, I just don‘t think he would have been criticized for doing some light-hearted stuff.  And then ending with a serious passage to talk about the tragedy.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, I mean, you know, Craig, though, I mean, the president has joked for four years, as many people pointed out, while young men and women were dying over in Iraq. 

(CROSSTALK)

CRAWFORD:  Yes, I mean, there was one night, at one of these dinners, they made a video making fun of the fact that they couldn‘t find weapons of mass destruction, and they were looking around the White House trying to find WMDs.  It was pretty funny, but then a lot of people were outraged by it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, a lot of people greatly disturbed.  Hey, Craig Crawford, thank you so much.  And let me just say again, for the record, I‘ve always liked Rich Little.  It wasn‘t Rich Little‘s fault.  They just took a guy out of the Poconos and brought him to Washington, D.C., and things got ugly fast. 

Hey, “Hollyweird” is coming up next, speaking of ugly.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, tell your agent you think you can go ahead and take a pass on “Lethal Weapon 8.”  It‘s time for “Hollyweird.”

First up, Britney Spears‘ dad says she‘s only got herself to blame for all of her recent troubles.  Here now to talk about everything “Hollyweird,” “Star” magazine‘s deputy New York bureau chief David Caplan and the senior editor for “InTouch” weekly, Kim Serafin.

Kim, what‘s going on with the Spears family?

KIM SERAFIN, “INTOUCH WEEKLY”:  Yes, beating up on Britney seems to be the thing to do these days.  Now her dad is joining in on this, joining a lot of other Hollywood dads who get into feuds with their Hollywood starlet daughters.

Britney‘s dad, Jamie, is saying that she only has herself to blame for her troubles and that she‘s out of control.  But Britney is fighting back.  She is saying, you know, I‘m going to pray for my father, and it‘s sad that all the men in my life do not know how to treat a real woman.  So it kind of makes you realize...

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, goodness gracious.

SERAFIN:  ... she‘s still a kid in a way.  She‘s not really a woman yet, and you wish they were more supportive around her, but, you know, maybe she needs some tough talking to.  Hopefully she‘ll turn things around.

SCARBOROUGH:  Speaking of being a real woman, maybe he did bring sexy back, Justin Timberlake has topped another sexy list.  David Caplan, come on.  Look at him.  Look, he‘s skinny.  He‘s scrawny.  He can‘t grow a weird.  I mean, he‘s a little weasel.  This is sexy in 2007? 

DAVID CAPLAN, “STAR” MAGAZINE:  According to Victoria‘s Secret, it is.  They issued a release of the sexiest people, and Justin Timberlake was labeled the sexiest musician.  You may not think he‘s a beacon of masculinity, but Victoria‘s Secret does, and they gave him this great honor.  But, you know, a lot of their rankings were a little bit odd.  David Beckham was the sexiest dad.  Eric Dane the sexiest actor.  So I think we can agree that their rankings were a little bit bizarre. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I mean, it‘s just bizarre.  And, Kim Serafin, is this guy sexy?  Help me out.  Is he sexy?

SERAFIN:  You know, if you ever see him perform live, he is very sexy. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, good god.

SERAFIN:  He commands the sage.  I mean...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Commands the stage?  Kim, I‘ll cut you off.  You‘re out of control. 

(CROSSTALK)

SERAFIN:  He‘s not my type.  He‘s not my type.  I like more of a man, but, you know... 

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly.  He‘s not a man.  That‘s not a man, baby.

Now, Jennifer Lopez was paid $2 million to perform at a private birthday party in England.  Tell us about it, David.

CAPLAN:  Well, things must be tough for Jennifer Lopez.  She was paid $1.2 million to perform at the birthday party of a Russian billionaire, who‘s worth $5 billion.  Plus, on top of the $1.2 million, he forked out $800,000 to send Jennifer, Marc Anthony and her whole entourage over to London. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Man.  Maybe that will pay for his tax bills.  Thank you so much, David Caplan.  Thank you, Kim Serafin.  I wish we had more time, but we don‘t.  We‘ll see you tomorrow 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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