updated 7/20/2007 10:52:21 AM ET 2007-07-20T14:52:21

Guests: Bill Press, Rosa Brooks, Maurice Hinchey

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:   Welcome to the show.  Senator Barack Obama is on the campaign trail.  He‘s talking about, of all things, sex education.  Senator Obama brought it up at Planned Parenthood‘s national conference. 

Here‘s part of what he said. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I remember Allen Keys. 

I ran against Allen Key‘s, I don‘t know if you guys remember Allen Keys.  But I remember him using this in a campaign—in his campaign against me saying, Barack Obama supports teaching sex education to kindergartners.  You know, which, I didn‘t know what to tell him.  But it‘s the right thing to do.  You know, to provide age appropriate sex education, science based sex education in the schools. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  In other words, I am for it, and I am proud of it.  Is this really a good idea?  Maybe if sex education for primary school kids would seem to provide Obama‘s political opponents with powerful fodder to deride him.  As Al Gore was once derided for inventing the internet, or Michael Dukakis was once for furloughing Willie Horton.  Today Obama‘s campaign tried to explain what he meant by the statement, telling MSNBC, that his approach would, among other things, quote, “help protect children from pedophiles.  A child‘s knowledge of the difference between the appropriate and the inappropriate touching is crucial to keeping them safe from predators.” 

OK, fine.  But it‘s still sex-ed for kindergartners.  Joining me now to explain if this is a good idea or a bad idea, “L.A. Times” columnist Rosa Brooks and nationally syndicated radio talk show host, Bill Press.  Welcome to you both.

BILL PRESS, NATIONALLY SYNDICATED RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Hey, Tucker.

ROSA BROOKS, “L.A. TIMES” COLUMNIST:  Hey, Tucker.

Rosa, if were running against Barack Obama.  Or if I were Chris Buckley I were and writing a novel about running against Barack Obama, I would include a scene in which Barack Obama outs himself as a man totally out of touch with everybody by espousing sex-ed for kindergartners.

BROOKS:  Right.  By supporting condom vending machines in American schools. 

CARLSON:  Exactly!  That‘s right!  It could go in tandem with sex-ed for kindergartners. 

BROOKS:  But, you know, Tucker, this is just absurd.  It is crystal clear that he is not talking about teaching kindergartners to use condoms.  It‘s crystal clear that what he is saying to them,  you know, is look, all he is talking about is supporting the right of teachers to explain to kids that if somebody touches you in a certain way, you want to call mommy or the cops pretty fast. 

CARLSON:  Oh, no. 

BROOKS:  That‘s not a bad thing.

CARLSON:  No.  That‘s not what he‘s saying. 

BROOKS:  The introduction of medically accurate information in an age appropriate way. 

CARLSON:  OK.  OK.  But, it‘s not just about protecting, he‘s not Chris Hansen here, it‘s not just protecting yourself from predators.  It‘s also explaining where babies come from, for instance.  He said point-blank, and I‘m not misquoting him by saying, if a child asks, says, do babies come from the stork, you can say, no they don‘t, in an age appropriate way explain why they don‘t.  It‘s still sex-ed for kindergartners.

BROOKS:  I don‘t think it‘s a good idea to have the schools in the business of actually lying to children.  I think, as he himself has said, it‘s a really tough question, you know, how much information is appropriate at that age.  But, the idea that we should actually be getting our schools to support total mythologies to kids doesn‘t seem like a very good idea to me. 

CARLSON:  But it‘s funny, I don‘t think its a tough question.  It‘s not a tough question for me.  I would physically assault ...

BROOKS:  What do you tell your kids?

CARLSON:  I would physically assault any adult who talked to my four-year-old about sex, period.  And I don‘t care if it‘s a teacher or what.  

BROOKS:  Wait a minute.  Wait a minute.  Wait a minute.  We are not talking about four-year-olds for one thing. 

CARLSON:  My six-year-old.  My six-year-old.  I don‘t think that is the role of anybody but me and my wife, to talk to my kids about sex.  

BROOKS:  Why don‘t you think it should be up to the local school districts to decide, given the sensibilities of their communities how parents want teachers to answer.  

CARLSON:  Because they are not their children.  You are a teacher, not a parent. 

BROOKS:  Sure.

CARLSON:  And there are some things that just aren‘t appropriate.  I would not think it was appropriate for my child‘s teacher to say what church we ought to go to.  I think that would be wrong too.

BROOKS:  That is a completely different issue. 

CARLSON:  It‘s not.

BROOKS:  The example that Obama gave was to a specific question.  What if a kid says, you know, do babies come from the stork?  Does the teacher say yes?  Maybe the appropriate answer is, you have to discuss that with your parents. 

CARLSON:  May be the appropriate answer.  I would say absolutely! 

Bill Press, I mean look, Bill you were in politics ...

PRESS:  You guys go back and forth, I‘m enjoying this.

CARLSON:  ... how hard is that?  How hard is that, Bill ...

BROOKS:  Stork.

CARLSON:  ... just like we don‘t talk about which church you ought to go to, what synagogue you ought to go to, what food you ought to eat.  I think we are going to leave that to your parents.  Why is that such a tough call for Barack Obama? 

PRESS:  Look, first of all, slow down.  I just got to say one thing, the big story about Barack Obama today, is that he is having a fund raiser that Oprah Winfrey is having a fund raiser for Barack Obama.  I think that‘s what we should be talking about, that is big news.

CARLSON:  Well that was yesterday‘s and that‘s news.  That‘s what Barack Obama wants to talk about, but he is exposing sex education for kindergarten.  Talk about living down to the stereotype.

BROOKS:  But, but, but ...

PRESS:  Wait a minute, Tucker.  Listen.  Let‘s put it straight.  Barack Obama is not campaigning on a platform of sex education for kindergartners. 

CARLSON:  Then why did he bring it up?  He brought it up.

PRESS:  Because he brought it up in the context, in front of planned parenthood, of an issue that he has worked on his entire public life.  Which is comprehensive sex education in public schools. 

CARLSON:  OK.

PRESS:  And of course, he said in response to a question, well in pre-school or kindergarten, rather, if someone asks a question about where do babies come from?  You don‘t lie to them and say they come from the stork. 

CARLSON:  But, but ...

PRESS:  You give them an age appropriate answer. 

CARLSON:  But, Bill ...

PRESS:  And I also want to point out, first of all, Tucker, that there is an—parents can opt out of any legislation that Barack Obama ever supported.  So you, as a parent, if you want to be the only one to ever talk to your kid about sex, you can opt out. 

CARLSON:  But wait a second.  Bill, why should I have to?  I think most people look ...

PRESS:  I‘ll tell you why.

CARLSON:  ... if you asked a cross-section of parents with young children, and I mean people who love Obama.  People who are liberal as hell, Kucinich voters.  They would say, you know what?  I‘m not that comfortable with adults who are not my relatives, talking to my six-year-old about sex.  I think they would say that, and you know that that is true.

PRESS:  That‘s a good question and I will give you an answer.  The answer is because a lot—most parents are not as good parents as you are, Tucker.  A lot of parents are afraid to talk to their kids about sex and never do.  And those kids are ignorant and they are the ones who end up not knowing where to start or where to end or what kind of protection to use or whatever. 

CARLSON:  But isn‘t that the parent‘s right?  Rather than having a member of the teacher‘s union make that decision for you.

BROOKS:  But, Tucker, you don‘t ...

PRESS:  The parents are making the decision.  The parents are making the decision and they are not doing it, and those kids are being hurt by that. 

BROOKS:  You are also, Tucker, you are not listening to Bill.  There is an opt out provision. 

CARLSON:  Right.

BROOKS:  If you don‘t want—if you want to say, instructions in my kid‘s file, if my kid asks you a question about this, I want you to just refer my kid to the parents and not talk to about it to my kid.  If you are having a classroom discussion, you can send my kid to the library.  That‘s fine. 

But you know, your analogy to questions about religion or what kind of food you eat, that actually—if you push that analogy, it shows what‘s wrong with the argument.  You know, if the kid says to a teacher, God created women to be inferior, isn‘t that right teacher?  You know, teachers shouldn‘t be saying you should be Jewish, you should be Catholic. 

CARLSON:  Wait a second, some people believe that.

BROOKS:  Some teachers should be able to say, hold on, schools are about teaching socialization ...   

CARLSON:  Wait.

BROOKS:  ... community values.  Local ...

CARLSON:  They are absolutely not about teaching religious values and you would be the person to stand up and say that loud and proud. 

BROOKS:  They are about introducing accurate information and challenging mythologies and lies. 

CARLSON:  Wait, hold on.  Who is to say why God created people? 

That‘s a matter of religious faith and I would think ...

BROOKS:  Absolutely.

CARLSON:  ... that you would be the first one to stand up and say teachers ought not to be indoctrinating on the questions of religion. 

BROOKS:  It‘s not a question of indoctrinating.

PRESS:  Hey, Tucker, here, yes ...

BROOKS:  If a kid says, my parent‘s tell me that McDonald‘s food is healthy, isn‘t that right, teacher.  Don‘t you want the teacher to have the freedom to say, actually no? 

CARLSON:  OK.  Why can‘t they just back off and leave it and stop patronizing parents?  I think parents are fully capable of making those decisions themselves.

PRESS:  Tucker.  Here‘s what‘s getting lost here. 

CARLSON:  OK.

PRESS:  What‘s getting lost here is the importance of comprehensive sex education for kids, that means not abstinence only.  Which is just a lie to kids and it doesn‘t work and it‘s a dangerous position. 

CARLSON:  OK.  All right.

PRESS:  That‘s where Barack Obama is coming from.

CARLSON:  I think we should just—you know what?  We should just respect parents enough to let them make those choices themselves. 

PRESS:  Barack Obama does. 

CARLSON:  He clearly doesn‘t. 

PRESS:  He does!  It‘s part of his legislation.

CARLSON:  If he respected them, he would say parents are better at that than unionized teachers.  That‘s not his position. 

PRESS:  You can‘t count on every parent giving their kid good education.

CARLSON:  All right.  All right.  Well, I can. 

Fred Thompson says he‘s conservative and opposed to abortion, but is he really?  Official records appear to tell a very different story.

Plus do Republicans have too much to say on talk radio?  Democrats think so, and they are trying to change that.  Congress is trying to tell you what you ought to watch on television and listen to on the radio.  Are you psyched?  You are watching MSNBC, the place for politics. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Fred Thompson is still not officially a candidate for the Republican nomination, and according to sources close to his campaign, he won‘t even announce until after Labor Day.  Yet according to a new poll, he is running even, if not ahead of front runner Rudy Giuliani.  That means that two out of three Republican front runners are effectively pro-choice.  The third front runner, of course, is none of the above, and he has not taken a stand on that issue.

Records show that Fred Thompson did in fact, work as a lobbyist on behalf of a pro-choice group.  He says he doesn‘t recall, which suggests that either he has a very bad memory, which is a concern, or he‘s not being honest, which is a problem, but not unprecedented.  Does Fred Thompson have a problem on the issue of abortion?  Back with me now, “L.A. Times” columnist, Rosa Brooks, and nationally syndicated radio talk show host, Bill Press. 

Now, Bill, I like Fred Thompson a lot, I think he is a charming guy and I think he is as great as people hope he is.  However, the billing records from the law firm he worked for in ‘91 and ‘92, says something that will be hard for him to overcome.  He spoke with the head of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, a pro-abortion group, 22 times on the phone.  And did three and half hours of lobbying administration officials.  If you talk to someone 22 times on the phone, you would remember it. 

PRESS:  Absolutely, Tucker.  I think Fred Thompson has to come forward and be honest on this issue.  I think the worst kept secret in Washington is, which I‘m sure you know, is that Fred Thompson is just not as conservative as some people are trying to paint him.  He never has been, and he is not today.  And, so, which tells me that Republicans don‘t really have a conservative other than John McCain among the top runners on the ticket.  Certainly Romney is not, neither is Giuliani, neither is Fred Thompson.

CARLSON:  Yes.  Romney is getting more, but that ... 

PRESS:  Only because he flip-flopped. 

CARLSON:  No, you are right.

PRESS: Yes.

CARLSON:  But he‘s conceded that, so you‘ve got to give him that. 

Here, Rose, is what Tony Perkins, an leading Evangelical conservative said in response to reports that Thompson may have lobbied on behalf of pro-choice groups.  “This is becoming so old.  They find someone who staked out a pro-life position, and the first thing they say is that he‘s supported a pro-abortion group.  People are considering the source.”

In other words, I don‘t believe it.  Who cares?  Now he has not responded, Mr. Perkins, to today‘s facts on this.  But, it seems to me, maybe Republicans don‘t care anymore.

BROOKS:  I think that by and large they don‘t care, Tucker.  And more power to them for not caring.  I mean, Tony Perkins actually should care if he believes his own literature.  But quite frankly, it‘s pretty clear that the vast majority of the American public supports some degree of abortion rights.  You know the disagreement at this point in time, among most Americans, is not over yes, no, no abortion under any circumstances versus yes, abortion all the time.  No.  The disagreement is over how much, under what circumstances, who funds it, etc., etc.  Only 20 percent of Americans poll after poll, support absolutely eliminating abortion. 

CARLSON:  Really?  I don‘t see any disagree—among the Democrats running for president, I don‘t think there is a single one, certainly among the front runners, who would put any limit on abortion at all, of any kind.  And in fact, they have all endorsed ...

BROOKS:  That‘s an interesting question, I don‘t ...

CARLSON:  ... having tax payers pay for it.  Having people who disagree with abortion, pay for abortion.

BROOKS:  But, I think that‘s actually a separate—I think that‘s a red herring.  I think that‘s also a separate question from how much late term abortion, etc., etc.  But I think Thompson would do better to simply say, you know what?  Like 80 percent of the American people ...

PRESS:  Right, right.

BROOKS:  I have a nuanced position on this.  Obviously, there are extremes on both sides.  I have a nuanced position.  I think it should be up to the states.  I am opposed in most circumstances, however in some circumstances, I‘m not.  That puts him in good company, frankly, and I don‘t think it poses any real electoral danger to him at all. 

CARLSON:  I think the real ...

BROOKS:  I think he will get in more trouble, by trying to pretend that he did not do what obviously did do. 

CARLSON:  Right.  Well, or he could just become a full blown extremist like the Democrats and I guess that would work in that party. 

PRESS:  Stop it.

BROOKS:  Tucker, you are in good form.

CARLSON:  Well, it‘s true.  They do take an extreme positions.  Tax payer funded abortion is an extreme position, it‘s just true.  It‘s also sick.

PRESS:  Tucker, it‘s the law of the land.  Democrats are pro-choice. 

Deal with it, if you don‘t want to be pro-choice, vote Republican. 

CARLSON:  You know, 50 years from now, we will all look back in shame I think. 

PRESS:  In 50 years, this will not be an issue, 10 years this will not be an issue. 

CARLSON:  But Fred Thompson‘s best position is no position at all.  Look at the numbers, Fred Thompson, Harrison Interactive poll July 6th to 13th.  This is of Republicans.  Who do you support?  Fred Thompson 29, Giuliani 28.  You know, who knows?  Maybe this poll is wrong, but it‘s pretty interesting that a guy who is not even in the race, is polling this high, Bill should he even enter the race?  Or can he win the presidency without even running for it? 

PRESS:  Well, first of all, Tucker.  If Fred Thompson is half as effective a candidate as a non-candidate, he will be the nominee of the party.  Right?  And I would say, for me this tells Fred Thompson, stay out as long as you can, baby, because once you get in, the only way you can go is down. 

BROOKS:  Yes.

CARLSON:  I think you are exactly right.  How long can he stay out? 

PRESS:  I was just going to say, I think he can stay out until the first of the year, if he wanted to. 

BROOKS:  Yes.  Absolutely.  Absolutely.  And I think, indeed, you know, Bill is absolutely right.  It‘s in his interest to stay out.  The sooner he gets in, the more he‘s going to be in danger.  I think Hillary Clinton may face a similar problem, the person who has got the most support early on, who is a serious candidate, more time for people to get sick of them, frankly, later on in this endless campaign season we‘ve got going on here.  I think he would be very well advised to stay on the distance and then jump in for real when everyone has had time to get really, sick of the candidates. 

CARLSON:  You may be right.  And in Hillary Clinton‘s case, that took place in 1992 for me.  So it‘s been a long time. 

BROOKS:  There you have it.

CARLSON:  Some Washington lawmakers say they know what you ought to be watching on television.  They call it equal time.  Others call it authoritarianism. 

Plus, the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad tells Senators that Iraq is gripped by fear, even as a top general says a fast shift in strategy now would put our troops in more danger.  What‘s the answer.  We will be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Conservative talk radio dominates the air waves and that bothers some liberal members of Congress.  They are trying to force stations to carry liberal talk as well.  They call it the Fairness Doctrine.  But is it fair or is it big brother run amok and does it challenge the first amendment?  I spoke earlier to Democratic Congressman from New York, Maurice Hinchey, he is among those hoping to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine.  I asked, if the federal government really ought to be in the business of controlling what people talk about on radio and TV?  Here is what he said. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REP. MAURICE HINCHEY, (D) NEW YORK:  They shouldn‘t.  Everybody should have the right to say what they want.  The federal government should not be controlling it.  It is just that we ought to do it in a way that is fair and open and honest.  

CARLSON:  How?  exactly is Congress‘ intervention going to make it more fair, open and honest?  As I understand it, you idea is, to force television stations to put certain political views on the air.  Am I misunderstanding that? 

HINCHEY:  Yes, I think you are, not understanding it completely.  The fact is, that the broadcast spectrum is owned by the general public, it‘s not owned by any individual or any corporation.  And when people turn on their television, not cable, but the broadcast system openly, they should have an opportunity to get all forms of ideas and various opinions.  All forms of opinions, so that people can make decisions for themselves, not have those decisions rammed on them by anyone else. 

CARLSON:  But, wait a second.  What if I own a TV station, and I want my opinion out there?  You are going to tell me as a member of Congress, I have to include your opinion, too? 

HINCHEY:  If you own a television station or a radio station, you have every right to put your opinion on.  But if somebody else has an alternative point of view or alternative opinion, because the broadcast spectrum is owned by the general public, not by you as the owner of a station.  Then you have the responsibility to put another points of view out there, too. 

CARLSON:  OK.  So if I say, the holocaust took place, many people in this country believe that it did not take place.  So I‘m required to put a holocaust denier on? 

HINCHEY:  Any particular point of view that you have, if somebody has an alternative point of view, then there is a responsibility to give that point of view an opportunity to be heard.

CARLSON:  Who is going to make these decisions? 

HINCHEY:  Well, these decisions are made by the agency that was set up in 1934 to make sure that we have a fair and open an honest broadcast system and that is the Federal Communications Commission. 

CARLSON:  So you can imagine a scenario under which the FCC would force a holocaust denier on a station.  Would say you have to give this guy airtime.  No, seriously.  That seems to be what you are proposing. 

HINCHEY:  No, you are just trying to appeal to a situation that is really not at issue here.

CARLSON:  Why wouldn‘t it be an issue?  There are people who feel very strongly about the fact that the holocaust doesn‘t exist.  So you as an officer of the federal government would force a station to put that person on? 

HINCHEY:  Anyone who feels that the holocaust doesn‘t exist, if they express that opinion, everyone is going to know that all the evidence points in the opposite direction.  We all know that the holocaust did exist.

CARLSON:  OK.  But the point is,  you would force a station to put that person on the air.  I think that‘s demented, I guess, that‘s what I‘m saying.. 

HINCHEY:  No, you I don‘t think you believe it‘s demented.  I think that you are a fair person.  You want fairness and openness and you want the people to have opportunities to hear other points of view. 

CARLSON:  Right, but I guess, it makes me very uncomfortable when government, when Congress decides what television stations ought to put on the air and what they can‘t put on the air.  That does seem kind of a violation of our basic first amendment right, doesn‘t it? 

HINCHEY:  No, no, no.  Quite the contrary.  We all have a first amendment right.  We all have the opportunity to express that right.  But we don‘t want that opportunity to be limited just to the six corporations that own 85 to 90 percent of all the television and radio broadcast companies all across the country.  There is no reason they should be the ones who have the right to express that opinion. 

CARLSON:  Well, but very—well for one thing, there is almost an endless number of other media through which people can express their opinions now, essentially for free online.  But this may be an irrelevant conversation.  But let‘s just get to the principal of it.  Why exactly does Congress have the right, and doesn‘t it make you nervous to determine which opinions need to be counterbalanced by other opinions? 

HINCHEY:  No, I think that all opinions need to be counterbalanced by other opinions.  Take for example, the way in which this administration fabricated the intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq.  That was done in a way that didn‘t allow opportunities for other points of view and other perspectives to be out there and to begin given to the American people. 

The consequences of that illicit, illegal invasion of Iraq and the subsequent disastrous occupation is just one example of what can happen if you have a government, such as this administration, which completely dominated the media on that particular subject. 

CARLSON:  But wait a second, Congressman.  As you know, most people don‘t get their news from broadcast television.  The majority of Americans don‘t. 

HINCHEY:  Ah, but many ...

CARLSON:  They get it front print, the internet, radio, from cable television.

HINCHEY:  No.

CARLSON:  And there were many opinions expressed, as you know, in the run up to war. 

HINCHEY:  No, no, no.  Most people get their information over the general news.  Most people, you know, out in the country, get their information over radio and television, normal broadcast systems.  News programs, things of that nature. 

CARLSON:  So you don‘t like the news that is broadcast, so you want to use federal power control it.  Why not just become my assignment editor, what do you think of my show?  Do you think I should have booked different guests?  You see how this is ripe for abuse.

HINCHEY:  Tucker, you are mistaken.  You are mistaken.

CARLSON:  I don‘t think I am. 

HINCHEY:  Well, I think you are.  I think anybody listening to this will see that you are.  It‘s not that we are trying to dominate what people say.  It‘s the just opposite.  We want a domination of information.  We want a broad array of information.

CARLSON:  But who is to decide? 

HINCHEY:  We want all of the information out there.  Well, the decision is made by the broadcasters, but they have to justify those decisions by going back to the Federal Communications Commission, which is supposed to be operating on behalf of the general public, the American people. 

CARLSON:  Boy, it‘s an idea I couldn‘t disagree with more, but I appreciate your coming on to express it, Congressman.  Thank you.

HINCHEY:  Oh, I can‘t believe that you disagree with that. 

CARLSON:  Well, see we have all sides on this show.  You don‘t need to regulate it.

HINCHEY:  OK.  That‘s good.  That‘s good.

CARLSON:  Thanks, Congressman.

HINCHEY:  Thank you, Tucker. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON:  Hillary Clinton sits comfortably atop of most polls of Democratic candidates, but how is she shaping up against the Republicans?  We will tell you, does the GOP have what it takes to beat Hillary? 

And nearly 100 members of Congress head to the Pentagon to find out what is happening in Iraq.  It was a cordial conversation, but did they learn anything they didn‘t already know?  You are watching MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

CARLSON:  Much to the dismay of college students everywhere, Hillary Clinton is keeping Barack Obama at bay in national polls.  A new Zogby poll shows her knocking off every Republican in head to head match ups.  that could be the least of the Republican‘s problems.  More on that in just a minute.

But first the push by some in Congress to regulate who controls what is said on television and radio.  Here again “Los Angeles Times” columnist Rosa Brooks and syndicated radio talk show host Bill Press.  Rosa, I know you and I know what a very smart, thoughtful—

BROOKS:  Don‘t try to butter me up, Tucker.

CARLSON:  -- decent person you are, so I know that there is no way you could be in favor of the federal government regulating political opinions. 

BROOKS:  You know, I think you‘ve got the wrong end of the stick here, Tucker.  I know you hate it when you feel like somebody is trying to tell you what to thick. 

CARLSON:  I won‘t have it, no.

BROOKS:  But I think the concern here is not about the government telling you what to think, but about whether the government has some role to play, as in the earlier sex education issue, in ensuring that people who occupy positions of public trust don‘t just spew out nothing but unbalanced garbage. 

That said, I think that perhaps Representative Hinchey is not the best champion for his cause.  I don‘t think he did a particularly good job of explaining the fairness doctrine, for one thing, which does, in fact, hinge on reasonable access to information about views that could reasonably be held.  So the holocaust is a non-issue here. 

But I also think that the fairness doctrine, frankly—it is tough.  It‘s tough.  Once you get the government in the business of even just making those calls—you know, what‘s a reasonable position.  You do run into problems, problems that liberals are concerned about too, quite frankly. 

CARLSON:  And, in fact, liberals ought to be leading the charge against this, Bill.

BROOKS:  I think the real issue here—the fairness doctrine kind of misses the point.  You know, the real problem that leads to lack of diversity and unbalanced opinions coming out on some of the major broadcasting outlets does have to do with monopolization in ownership.  Part of the legislation, as I understand it, Representative Hinchey is sponsoring, tries to get at that issue to try to prevent media monopolization, so that one person will own, you know, 80 percent of the broadcast outlets in one market. 

That‘s, I think, the root of the problem, not trying to control what‘s actually said on the outlets themselves. 

CARLSON:  Boy I‘ve been in the media all my—it‘s all I‘ve ever done.  I don‘t see that as the problem.  Bill, what kind of weird upside down world are we living in when liberals are espousing what is so clearly a challenge to free speech, the idea that the government ought to be deciding who can speak on television. 

PRESS:  Tucker, you keep casting it that way and you are dead wrong.  Here‘s what liberals are saying—or here‘s what I think Congressman Hinchey should have pointed out: we are talking about the public air waves.  They are owned by us.  Right?  They are there to serve and inform the public.  It‘s just like public road ways.

CARLSON:  But who is to decide what is informing the public?  That‘s the problem.

PRESS:  You would not tolerate a situation where only small cars were allowed on roads or only big cars or only pickup trucks.  I mean, you should have a diversity, if you will, of vehicles.  

CARLSON:  People can watch whatever they want—Hold on, I would love a situation in which we are free to choose.  If you want to watch Keith Olbermann, who is very liberal—he‘s the highest rated show on this network because there are a lot of liberal viewers.  They love Keith Olbermann.  

PRESS:  You are getting to it. 

CARLSON:  That kind of solves the problem. 

PRESS:  People do not have that choice.  Listen, this is my business.  I do talk radio three hours a day.  Let me tell you, as a liberal, there are 60 maybe top progressive stations in this country.  There are over 600 right wing stations.  And it‘s five companies that own them all.  And all members of Congress are saying there should be a little more opportunity.  Let the free market work, but the free market doesn‘t work if you don‘t have a level playing field. 

CARLSON:  Let me just inject a little common sense here.  Are you telling me with a straight face—we‘ve got to move on to other stuff, but this so blows my mind.  You‘re telling me with a straight face that these evil radio stations owners are acting against their own economic interests by putting programming on that people don‘t really want, this evil right wing programming just because they agree with it? 

BROOKS:  Shocking thought.

CARLSON:  If people wanted liberal radio shows they would exist. 

PRESS:  No, they don‘t.  They have not given progressive radio a chance.   

CARLSON:  I don‘t understand.  What‘s their motive?  They want to lose money? 

PRESS:  Look at Rupert Murdoch.  Why is Fox the way it is?  Because that is his point of view.  These are conservative people who want conservative talk.  They have saturated the nation with conservative talk and all the Congress is saying, if you have a free license for the public air waves, it can‘t all be right wing. 

CARLSON:  It‘s hardly free. 

PRESS:  It is so free.  They don‘t pay for these licenses.

CARLSON:  The spectrum is about to go to auction in 2009. 

BROOKS:  Maybe I should buy it.  Then I could control it. 

CARLSON:  The idea that corporate America is losing money so they can support the war in Iraq is so dumb, with all due respect, that I can‘t take it seriously. 

PRESS:  They are not even trying to make money on progressive talk radio.  They won‘t even open the door. 

CARLSON:  Yes they did.  Air America Radio tried and it failed. 

PRESS:  Air America had its own problems, a bad business plan from the beginning.  By the way, they are still out there.  And they‘re still doing good.  Randy Roads is a great talk show host, the number one talk show host in the country.  Air America.   

CARLSON:  She‘s going to beat Rush Limbaugh any century now. 

BROOKS:  Tucker, you are right about one thing—

CARLSON:  I‘m right about all of it, actually. 

BROOKS:  Only about one thing, which is that the introduction of the Internet does alter this debate pretty significantly, I think.  The fairness doctrine is doctrinal relic of an earlier age. 

CARLSON:  I‘m just amazed by how quickly go to government power.  I don‘t like the way the world is.  I‘m mad about the war in Iraq.  I‘m mad about the coverage leading up to the war.  So let‘s get Congress in there to tell people what they can watch.   

(CROSS TALK)

BOOKS:  -- have been somewhat concerned with the fairness doctrine. 

It was liberal Supreme Court justices—

CARLSON:  And they‘re not anymore, which is why they‘re no longer liberal.

PRESS:  Take it from a talk show host.  The answer is, let the free market work.  Give me a fair shot at Rush Limbaugh, and I‘ll beat his ass 24 hours a day. 

BROOKS:  Go Bill!  I‘ll listen to Bill.

CARLSON:  Bill Press, is it a good idea when you get an invitation from the White House to go listen to the general in charge of military operations in Iraq to blow off that invitation?  Members of Congress, over 200, were invited over to the Pentagon today to talk to David Petraeus via video link.  And most of them, as far as we can tell at this point, didn‘t bother to go.  Is that a good thing?  

PRESS:  Let me tell you something.  I think to get 50 members of the House and 40 members of the United States Senate to go to Virginia, to cross the river, is a phenomenal feet.  You can‘t get 90 members of Congress for free drinks in this building if you invited them.  I think it was a very good turnout. 

BROOKS:  -- good turnout given that a lot of them apparently never got the invitation. 

PRESS:  Yes.

CARLSON:  Yes, so 40 senators go, and Senator Dick Durbin, Senator Patty Murray of Washington say they were not aware of it because the invitation was faxed, rather than e-mailed or brought by airmail or whatever they expected.  Forty members of the Senate go, but somehow Dick Durbin missed that?  His staff just didn‘t notice that half the Senate was leaving to go somewhere, but they didn‘t know.  That‘s not a plausible explanation.   

BROOKS:  Now admittedly, one senator came up with a not terribly good justification for not getting an invitation, which was they mistakenly sent it on the fax machine which gets general constituent faxes.  Of course, senators should completely ignore those. 

CARLSON:  I love that. 

(CROSS TALK)

PRESS:  If you want the leadership of the Senate and the House at an event, the White House knows how to reach them.  Believe me, believe me.  They just didn‘t do a good job of it.  That was a good turn out.  You shouldn‘t knock it.

BROOKS:  I think that the other problem here—Who could blame members of Congress in either party, quite frankly, from thinking that this is part of the White House P.R. effort that they were not going to hear anything that they didn‘t already know, and anything that would genuinely add to the debate.  And for thinking, you know what, no thanks.  I‘ve got other important things.

CARLSON:  Well, it is.  Of course, they‘re right.  It is part of the White House P.R. effort.  But still, David Petraeus was confirmed unanimously by the U.S. States Senate.  He is not a hack.  He‘s a general.  He‘s well respected by everyone.  They‘re talking about Iraq ad nauseum.  It‘s the most important issue of our generation.  I don‘t know, why don‘t you go listen to what he has to say?  Why don‘t you get off your butt and go over to the Pentagon?  I know it‘s a long way.  It‘s like four miles, but go ahead and do it. 

PRESS:  It‘s part of the dog and pony show.  Given that, I‘m surprised as many showed up as did. 

CARLSON:  Well, you‘ve got a low opinion of the Senate.  Maybe I should have one too.  Here—Hillary Clinton‘s—these are interesting new numbers by the Zogby polling organization on Hillary Clinton and theoretical match ups between Senator Clinton and the Republican field. 

She‘s paired with Rudy Giuliani, Hillary 46, Rudy 41.  She‘s paired against John McCain; Hillary 45, McCain 43, which is within the margin of error.  Romney 38, Hillary 48.  Fred Thompson 41, Hillary 47. 

What‘s interesting to me—there are a bunch of things that are interesting.  One, Hillary is pretty strong, quite strong, the strongest, right, of anybody running for president, at least according to Zogby.  But what‘s so interesting to me, Bill, is that John McCain, who is written off as dead, mocked, nobody likes John McCain, fairs strongest when matched up against Hillary, at least theoretically.  Why is that? 

PRESS:  Well, John McCain still has—I think a lot of that is name I.D., Tucker.  Those of us inside may have written him off, and maybe the general public hasn‘t as yet.  They still kind of like the guy.  I‘m impressed by Hillary‘s numbers.  She comes in person—versus polled—against the Democrats or against Republicans, she is consistently strong and getting stronger. 

We have not seen anybody else really move like that. 

CARLSON:  It‘s frightening.  Rose, in 15 seconds, will you, when Hillary Clinton is elected president, come back on this show and apologize for what you did to make that happen? 

BROOKS:  I am making that happen? 

CARLSON:  Even if you contribute in a small way.  It‘s like choosing paper over plastic.  It‘s like if all of us pitch in.  We can make this a better world.  What are you doing to keep her from becoming president? 

BROOKS:  You know I‘m Obama girl, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  I know you are.  I know you are.  That‘s why we like you.

All right, we‘ll be right back.  In the post-9/11 world, airline passengers are expected to speak up when something seems out of place.  What if by speaking up, you are forced to pay up big?  Should airline passengers be held liable if in the end they got it wrong? 

Talk about appetite for destruction.  The pooch just helped herself to one expensive snack.  MSNBC‘s resident dog expert—Our dog whisperer, Willie Geist, reveals the costly mistake.  You are watching MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Since 9/11, Americans have grown accustomed to looking for suspicious behavior.  But sometimes suspicious behavior is just that, suspicious, not criminal.  But that‘s not determined until after the suspects are questioned, like in the case of the six Islamic imams who were removed from a flight in Minneapolis last November.  Those imams later sued and tried to find out the names of the passengers who reported them to authorities. 

Well, New York Congressman Pete King introduced legislation to prevent those frivolous lawsuits and to indemnify people who report suspicious behavior from being sued.  But apparently Democrats are trying to kill that amendment. 

We are back again with “L.A. Times” columnist Rosa Brooks and nationally syndicated radio talk show host Bill Press.  Rosa, it seems to me, we would want to encourage people not to make citizen‘s arrests or assault other people, but if they see something suspicious, isn‘t the whole point of protecting ourselves from terrorism to speak up?  Shouldn‘t we protect those people?

BROOKS:  Sure, absolutely.  I think the problems with the amendment is simply that it‘s unnecessary.  It‘s political posturing.  Any lawsuit that goes after people who in good faith report suspicious behavior isn‘t going to go anywhere.  The amendment just isn‘t necessary.  

CARLSON:  That‘s not true.  Because this is not just about a lawsuit against the passengers who report this suspicious behavior, but about attempts by their lawyer, backed by the Council on American/Islamic Relations, CAR, to get their names in the course of the lawsuit.  It is significant.  You ought to be able to retain your anonymity if you are reporting suspicious behavior.  That‘s important.  Isn‘t it?

BROOKS:  Well, the problem here, again, Tucker, is suspicion is in the eye of the beholder.  What if I decide that all African Americans look pretty suspicious to me and what if I‘m a Ku Klux Klan leader and I go around and make a practice?

CARLSON:  Then you are a bad person. 

BROOKS:  But I think obviously at some point it is not necessarily inherently inappropriate.  If somebody is being targeted for harassment based on their race, with no good faith reason, for them to be able to find out what‘s going on here.  You know, is this a Ku Klux Klan plot to try to discredit African Americans.

And we live in a society in which, quite frankly, as you know, there is plenty of racism.  There are real terrorists, clearly.  Some of them are Muslim extremists.  But equally there is plenty of straight out racism. 

CARLSON:  You know what, there‘s not that much straight out racism.  That‘s total B.S.  People don‘t even—racists keep—If you are a racist in this country, appropriately, you keep it to yourself because it‘s not acceptable. 

BROOKS:  That‘s the point, and we don‘t want to let those people hide behind an amendment that shields them. 

CARLSON:  No we need to execute them.

BROOKS:  I have plenty of faith in the courts to be able to throw out the frivolous lawsuits.

CARLSON:  Here‘s what Congressman Benny Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi. had to say while arguing against this on the House floor.  He said, we need to catch bad people, but we need to make sure we are not profiling those individuals because of how they look.  I mean, this is America.  This is the melting pot with a rainbow. 

Who elects these people?  What does the melting pot with the rainbow have to do with the fact that there are people in this country who mean us harm.  If they are behaving in a way that indicates they want to hurt us, we ought to be able to report them to authorities. 

PRESS:  Tucker, I have a very conservative point of view about this whole thing, which is I don‘t think the solution to every problem is a piece of legislation passed by the United States Congress. 

CARLSON:  You think trial lawyers are. 

PRESS:  I didn‘t say that either.  I think the original lawsuit was stupid.  And I think this amendment is stupid.  I think it is political posturing.  We don‘t need it.  Let people report suspicious activity.  Let the pilot or whatever investigate it at the time.  If they think there is sufficient cause, then throw the people off the plane. 

The system is working.  We don‘t need Pete King‘s legislation.  And as a frequent flyer, let me tell you something -- 

CARLSON:  So we don‘t need legislation to protect the identities of rape victims? 

PRESS:  -- any more difficult to get on a plane.  It‘s complicated enough.  I don‘t want any more legislation that‘s going to make it any more complicated to get on a plane. 

CARLSON:  But Rosie, you know this is a little bit disingenuous, because if someone alleges a sex crime, alleges rape, that person‘s identity is shielded.  We in the press agree not to report it.  We do all we can to let people -- 

BROOKS:  It‘s a different issue, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  It‘s a different issue, but it‘s the same principle.  The principle is this; it‘s in America‘s interest to have people report crimes when they occur. 

BROOKS:  Sure, but again, as Bill said, we have a system.  It‘s not actually broken.  You know, there‘s nothing wrong here.  Let the courts decide on a case by case basis if it‘s just frivolous attempts to interfere with people‘s privacy for no good reason.  They‘re going to throw it out. 

You‘ve been worrying for most of the show about big brother looking over our shoulder.  This is big brother we do not need.   

CARLSON:  I wouldn‘t mind being protected from trial lawyers a little bit.  I think they‘re a threat.  I know they give a lot of money to the Democratic party, but I still think they‘re a threat. 

PRESS:  There‘s one incident in Minneapolis and you want an act of Congress?  Come on?

CARLSON:  So you‘re both libertarians now, good.  I‘ll see you at the meeting on Sunday.  Thank you both very much.  Rosa Brooks, Bill Press, I appreciate it. 

Well, the “New York Times” broke all the rules today by publishing a review of the Harry Book before anyone was supposed to know anything about it.  The author is furious.  So is Harry Potter enthusiast Willie Geist, who has donned a cape.  He has the details and the raging controversy when we come back.  You‘re watching MSNBC live.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Willie Geist has been bumped off this show the last two days by a plane crash and a steam pipe explosion.  We‘re proud to say, on this calamity free day, he joins us again.  Willie?

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hard to argue with those two stories, Tucker.  You‘ve got to yield your time.

CARLSON:  Willie, I have here in pocket a letter.  This letter is from noted pornographer Larry Flint.  It‘s addressed to me and I just want to read it.  He dared me I wouldn‘t read it.  So I will.  “Dear Tucker, I think your remarks about me exposing Senator Vitter are quite ingenious.  I‘ve never been interested in exposing someone‘s sex life.  I‘m only after those who live a public life contrary to their private life.  I doubt you will acknowledge this letter on air.  I may be a slime ball, but you still can‘t dance.  Regards, Larry Flint. 

Might be a slime ball.

GEIST:  That‘s all he‘s got on you that you can‘t dance?  We know that much. 

CARLSON:  And you are definitely a slime ball, Larry Flint, but I did read your letter. 

GEIST:  I‘m impressed.  You get phone messages from Donald Trump and hand written letters from Larry Flint. 

CARLSON:  I‘m like a bug light.  I draw the best and the brightest.

GEIST:  You‘re a class magnet, I like to call you.  Tucker, let‘s get down to it, the “New York Times” and the “Baltimore Sun” blatantly ignored the strongest embargo this side of Havana by publishing reviews today of the upcoming and final Harry Potter book.  The publisher has taken great pains to keep the story a secret before the book comes out officially on Saturday.  But the Times made no apologies for the review, saying it bought a copy of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” at a New York City book store yesterday.  How‘d that happen?

J.K. Rowling, the creator and queen of the Harry Potter empire said, in a statement, quote, I am staggered that some American newspapers have decided to publish purported spoilers in the form of reviews, in complete disregard of the wishes of literally millions of readers, particularly children, who want to reach Harry‘s final destination by themselves in their own time. 

Tucker, the good news I think here for Miss Rowling is that—you correct me if I‘m wrong about this.  But most children I know don‘t read the “New York Times” book review.

CARLSON:  No, that‘s not true.  I know eight year olds across the country thinking, I wonder what—

(CROSS TALK)

GEIST:  After they get through Tom Friedman.

CARLSON:  Bob Herbert; they‘re all Bob Herbert fans.

GEIST:  I think the secret‘s safe.  Just wait two more days.  We‘ll be fine.  Tucker, TV‘s prime time Emmy nominations announced today and it looks like “The Sopranos” will drive its Cadillac Deville off into the sunset with some well deserved hardware locked in the trunk.  The show is up for best dramatic series.  And James Gandolfini and Edie Falco, who played Tony and Carmella, are nominated for best actor and best actress in a dramatic series.

Now, when you read the list of Emmy nominees, it would appear at first glance that you were snubbed again this year, Tucker.  Not true.  “Dancing With the Stars” led all reality shows with eight nominations, including one for best reality competition program.  Tucker joins the cast; all of a sudden the show is a rocket ship to the moon.  Coincidence?  Me thinks not. 

The bad news, Tucker, is that you‘re up against “American Idol” in most of those categories, which is like being a good basketball player in the Michael Jordan era.  You‘re good, but you‘re not Michael.  I‘m sorry.

CARLSON:  Of dancing, I‘m not—I‘m willing to concede that.  I‘ve gotten to that point in my therapy.  I can admit it. 

GEIST:  Good, but clear some space on the mantel.  You might be getting a trophy this year, my friend.  Well, Tucker, listen to this one.  You have heard the fable about the goose that laid the golden eggs.  But have you heard the story about the dog that pooped 800 bucks?  It‘s a good one and it‘s true. 

The Wisconsin owner of a dog named Pepper Anne says that she found bits and pieces of cash in the dog‘s droppings recently.  It turns out Pepper Anne got into a purse belonging to the woman‘s grandmother and ate 800 dollars in cash.  The dog‘s owner dried the money out, matched the pieces up, taped them together and took it to a local bank where she got credit for 700 bucks. 

The bank turned away 100 of the digested 800 dollars for reasons I don‘t care to think about.  Now, Tucker, everyone here is preoccupied with the dog angle of this.  What I want to know is why does grandma have 800 cash in her pocket? 

CARLSON:  I totally agree.  For the nickel slots, obviously. 

GEIST:  Something shady going on.  Finally, Tucker, President Bush down in Music City U.S.A., Nashville, Tennessee today; touring a bakery and talking about the economy.  He looks good in that hat.  The president checked out the Nashville Bun Company, which supplies McDonalds with the muffins for the delicious Egg McMuffin, among other things. 

Bush tried out some new material while talking about Democrats‘ plans to raise taxes over the next several years. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I would warn the Nashville Bun Company to be very careful with this kind of approach, because you can‘t keep making buns if the Democrats take all your dough. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  Not the A material.  I think the president is better than that.  The puns don‘t really work. 

CARLSON:  Puns almost never work.  I alone almost, among the 300 million Americans really, appreciate puns. 

GEIST:  I know you do.

CARLSON:  I love a good pun.

GEIST:  That‘s why I have a job. 

CARLSON:  I‘m not ashamed.  Willie Geist, thanks a lot, Willie.  For more of Willie, check out Zeit Geist, the video blog, at ZeitGeist.MSNBC.com.

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 NBC.  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 NBC 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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