updated 10/16/2007 11:17:24 AM ET 2007-10-16T15:17:24

Guests: Adam Schiff, Cliff May, Eugene Robinson, Howard Kurtz

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  The U.S. Congress complicated America‘s war effort in Iraq by alienating a critical Muslim ally in order to condemn events that took place nearly a century ago.

Welcome to the show.

House panel last week passed resolution deeming the Ottoman Empire‘s killing of a million and half Armenians during World War I genocide. The entire house is yet to vote in the measure but the Turkish government is incensed. Its parliament will likely vote on the measure to authorize military incursions in to northern Iraq in order to fight Kurdish rebels there. How bad is that? Well northern Iraq is one of the few peaceful parts of that country.

Among other affects is dust up contributed to record high oil prices today, as traders fear a new front in the war in Iraq. So what in god‘s name is Congress doing. In a minute we‘ll talk to one of the sponsors of that measure and ask that question.

From the established conflict in Iraq today there was report in the “Washington Post” that some senior military officials believe al Qaeda in Iraq effectively has been defeated. The administration is hesitant to declare victory; President Bush knows the perils of that. But could it be true and if AQI as it‘s known no longer functions what are the implications for the president‘s military strategy going forward.

Also today, as Idaho Senator Larry Craig appeals the ruling that denied the withdrawal of his guilty plea in June‘s airport bathroom sex sting. Over the weekend Senator Craig spoke with the “Today‘s Show‘s” Matt Lauer and he saved his harshest word for Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. Details on that in just a minute.

We begin though with the crises sparked by congressional action on the death of 1.5 million Armenians 90 years ago. Joining me is the chief sponsor of the Armenian Genocide Resolution Democratic Congressman from California Adam Schiff, Congressman thanks for coming on.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) CALIFORNIA:  You bet. Great to join you.

CARLSON:  So the Turkish government has said if this passes the

relationship between Turkey and the U.S. will quote never be the same. Why

do it?-

SCHIFF:  I think it‘s important that we make a strong statement about the murder of a million and half people we‘re talking about genocide after all. This is the one genocide that we have not recognized, that unlike the holocaust we haven‘t commemorated, we recognize the genocide in Cambodia, Darfur, Rwanda, et cetera. This is the only genocide we really haven‘t recognized, because it would offend an ally.

That‘s simply not an adequate reason. When I sit down in the home of a genocide survivor, I hear about what their family went through, I know if this were my parents, Tucker, or your parents we‘d be screaming to the rafters that we should recognize what happened to them. 

CARLSON:  We do recognize.

SCHIFF:  It shouldn‘t matter that it wasn‘t our parents, that it was our neighbor‘s family. I think we still have the same moral obligation to speak truthfully about one of the darkest chapters in history.

CARLSON:  But we do recognize it. Congress has repeatedly year after year recognized it, commemorated the murder of all these Armenians during the first word war.

SCHIFF:  No, we haven‘t.

We haven‘t recognized the genocide since the 1980s, the last

president, the last Congress to do that was during Ronald Reagan. And I

wondered Tucker if you were advising Ronald Reagan during the cold war with

the Soviet Union whether we should express that strong moral statement

condemn what happened, would you be recommending to President Reagan that

he not take that step. Just forget all that rhetoric about being a moral

beacon to the rest of the world, it‘s that important not to alienate Turkey

CARLSON:  I would do what I would expect which Congress is not doing which is weigh the importance of making a moral statement against the safety of American soldiers. I would say the latter is more important.

SCHIFF:  You know the safety of our troops is more important. It is the most important thing. But Tucker when has it been in our national security interest to deny the truth about something like genocide that has never—

CARLSON:  Who is denying the truth? I haven‘t heard anybody say it didn‘t happen or I haven‘t anybody say it‘s not genocide.

SCHIFF:  If you sit through the committee hearings you do—

CARLSON:  I‘m sure that there are individual crack pots who say that.  The consensus in this country is that more than a million Armenians were killed by the Turks and it is bad. I don‘t hear anyone denying that. No holocaust deniers at least in this case, what I hear are people saying, we know it happened. Why stick a finger in the eye of an important Muslim ally right now?

SCHIFF:  What is the moral basis to say, we‘ll recognize every genocide except when it might offend an ally what kind of—

CARLSON:  It‘s not our job to—

SCHIFF:  I happen to believe that we have a moral imperative to speak truthfully about genocide so that it doesn‘t happen again so that we don‘t, you know when we talk about the genocide in Darfur, what‘s the Sudanese government saying, sure, you will accuse us of genocide. But what about the (INAUDIBLE) you won‘t talk about that because you‘ll offend an ally.

CARLSON:  But what about our own guys. What about this ongoing war in Iraq, you don‘t have to support the war, I‘ve been against it for a long time but that‘s not the point. The point is we have all those soldiers and marines over there we need to get material to them and most that have comes through Turkey. And the threat is that it won‘t be able to.

SCHIFF:  I have to expect that the Turkish government will act in its self-interest just as we do. And we are an important ally of Turkey‘s they‘re an important ally of ours. I think our alliance can survive the truth. But—

CARLSON:  What‘s our national—here is my question. What is our—

SCHIFF:  We introduced this resolution before the war in Iraq. You know what the administration said? It‘s not a good time. We introduced this resolution before the war in Afghanistan. You know what they said then? Not a good time. When is it a good time? We‘ve got a handful of—

CARLSON:  I don‘t know, but I know when it‘s a bad time. And a bad time is clearly right now. Turkish government is—

SCHIFF:  Always one of these inconvenient truths, Tucker.

CARLSON:  You want to be responsible for empowering the illiberal radical anti western elements in Turkey just to please Armenian constituents. That seams like a pretty reckless thing.

SCHIFF:  Not just about pleasing Armenian constituents. 

CARLSON:  That‘s what you just said.

SCHIFF:  Not just about pleasing, I never said that. 

CARLSON:  You said if I talk to the survivors in your district. I‘m just saying—

SCHIFF:  It is important. Do you think it‘s important to speak out about the holocaust? I do. That‘s the—

CARLSON:  Is it more important than protecting American soldiers no it is not, that‘s how I feel about it.

SCHIFF:  You think that the truth has to be incompatible with our national security. Some of this administration that says well you know certain forms of torture are necessary and those protect our troops. I don‘t buy that eater.

CARLSON:  Wait a second.

SCHIFF:  I don‘t believe that taking a principled stand in talking about the murder of million and half people endangers our national security or in our—

CARLSON:  But it clearly does. I understand what you‘re saying. I‘m not attacking the decency of what you‘re trying to do because I think it is decent. I actually think I agree with you. My only point is in its affect it hurts us. So maybe it‘s not a good idea to do it now. My only question, do you recognize that?

SCHIFF:  I recognize the concern, Tucker. It‘s a legitimate concern what the Turkish reaction would be. I have to hope that they act rationally. But there‘s no guarantee that they act rationally. What I would like to see us do, Tucker, rather than continue this multi-year, multi-decade and Turkish denial is I would love to see our administration working as hard to get Turkey to accept the truth than fighting the truth in this resolution.

If the president who promised when he was running for president to recognize the genocide had done so when he could have, when the circumstances were even more favorable, we wouldn‘t be here right now. If they have half as much effort in fighting this resolution in getting—

CARLSON:  The Democrats have made, some conservatives have made, too, against the president. He alienates our allies pointlessly. He gets up there with his moral posturing, holier than thou attitude and makes people hate us and that hurts our national interest. That is an argument that Democrats have made, does it apply here?

SCHIFF:  Well it doesn‘t because this isn‘t pointless.

CARLSON:  It happened 90 years ago.

SCHIFF:  That‘s the thing that I find really troubling about this, not just here today but around the country. People saying, it‘s pointless to talk about the murder of a million and a half people. These are million and half human beings, their families are citizens of our country. And I don‘t see how recognition of what they went through is pointless. The holocaust survivor has said the denial of genocide is the final chapter of genocide.

It‘s like a second killing. In that sense the Armenian genocide goes on. Because the denial goes on. If Turkey had recognized this, was recognized this, I would agree with you, there‘s no need for us to be asserting what happened because those responsible and their successor in their government has recognized it but they haven‘t. Why should they. If the most powerful country on earth isn‘t willing to do why should they?

CARLSON:  All right. Adam Schiff I appreciate you coming on. I just want to make clear there are Republicans who support this as well. Correct?

SCHIFF:  Yes.

CARLSON:  Of course, thanks very much.

Some U.S. military analysts believe al Qaeda in Iraq is, quote, cripple so it that an argument for staying in Iraq? Or withdrawing?

Plus, Larry Craig responds to at least one of his critics he said Mitt Romney threw him under the campaign bus, backed up and ran over him again, ouch.

You are watching MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Taking the fight directly to al Qaeda in Iraq appears to be paying off. Reports indicate a pretty dramatic drop in suicide bombings over the last couple of months and the capture of some top al Qaeda leaders.

Now some American generals reportedly are even pushing for a declaration of victory of sorts over that terrorist group. May be premature to make that case, there are promising signs one person not making victory laps of her own today house speaker Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi admitted this weekend that even she as leader of the Democratic Party in Congress would not give the Democrats passing grades on ending the war.

Here to discuss both of these Iraq-related report cards, we welcome the “Washington Post” Eugene Robinson and the president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy, Cliff May, welcome to you both.

Cliff I‘m confused as to what exactly this story means. If we‘re beating al Qaeda in Iraq. The common out of the Marine Corps no less than suggest we might be why don‘t we say so.

CLIFF MAY, FDN. FOR THE DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACY:  First of all I think a lot of people are probably confused they didn‘t even know we were fighting al Qaeda in Iraq. They thought that was a civil war, that there was some national insurgency. The fact of the matter is this is the central front in the global confront we have been fighting. Al Qaeda has been saying so all along.

And the fact that last month we killed or captured 30 senior al Qaeda leaders is usually consequential. Now al Qaeda is on the run, our generals are saying so, we have liberated a lot of land, we are fighting side by side with Iraqis, and this is all wonderful. Now we have to absolutely definitively defeat al Qaeda there and make sure the Iraqis can defend themselves against al Qaeda in the future also against the Iranian-backed militia this is very large component—

CARLSON:  I‘m willing to buy most of what you said. But if that‘s true and we are making progress why the squeamishness on the part of the Bush administration to say so?

MAY:   I have no idea. I think they have in recent months been talking more about this. Part of what people may not get, maybe the Bush administration didn‘t want to be clear about this, and the Petraeus strategy is dramatically different from what preceded it. It is not just the surge; the surge only enabled the strategy. The strategy was not to be the referee in civil war, the strategy was to go after the root causes of the civil war and that was al Qaeda, which bombed, for example, the golden mosque in February 2006. And the Iranian-backed militia, they were fueling the civil war.

Once you stop them you don‘t have a civil war. That doesn‘t mean you have no tensions we have tensions in this country, too. Surely we can agree that defeating al Qaeda is one of the missions that we right now here is one place—where are you going to fight them?

CARLSON:  You‘re moving in way that‘s—

EUGENE ROBINSON, “WASHINGTON POST:” I agree it‘s great to defeat al Qaeda it was great of the Sunnis in Iraq to do it for us. It was their decision to fight al Qaeda in Iraq not our decision. We noticed that they were getting fed up with al Qaeda.

MAY:  It‘s wonderful.

They can‘t do without us they said so. Eventually they will be able to. Right now they need us. Couldn‘t do it on their own.

ROBINSON:  They have been given help to do it; in fact I always thought that once the Sunnis decided that they didn‘t want to play ball with Iraq, with al Qaeda, we would see al Qaeda scurrying out of Iraq relatively quickly. I think that‘s what we‘re seeing. They can‘t function without the support of the Sunni population. Once—

MAY:  This is all great. We should be able to agree that it‘s great that this is the one battlefield in which we fight al Qaeda, maybe Afghanistan to an extent as well. There for we should do it and we should definitively defeat al Qaeda fighting side by side with Arab Muslims. Think how it looks around the world that Americans and Arab Muslims are fighting side by side.

CARLSON:  I have trouble believing we‘re getting the benefit of the doubt from anybody is watching Al-Jazeera.

MAY:  I can tell you where there are. There‘s a wonderful Muslim Lebanese researcher here in town he has been studying this; he says that the Iraqis have to theologically justify why they are aligning themselves with infidels against fellow Muslims. They‘re doing so in sermons on Websites, in all sorts of things that are—that maybe al-Jazeera is not picking up. But plenty of Muslims—

CARLSON:  What do you think—

ROBINSON:  I think it‘s a mistake to read too much permanence into the situation now just as it was a mistake to read too much permanence into the situation a few months ago. It looked like al Qaeda in Iraq owned Anbar Province, for example. This is a fluid situation, but they are there at the sufferance of the Sunni tribal leaders and the Sunni population. And religious justifications aside I think they can find plenty of reasons to get rid of al Qaeda. Al Qaeda was obnoxious.

MAY:  Killing people and trying to impose a kind of—

CARLSON:  Let me ask you before—

ROBINSON:  None of what we said answered the question, since we basically created the al Qaeda in Iraq threat, how much of a threat was it to you, to the United States?

CARLSON:  Hold on. Before you—I need your ten seconds each on Nancy

Pelosi conceding that she would not give the Congress her Congress the

Congress she leads high marks on ending the war. Is this a major concession

by the speaker?

ROBINSON:  I think it‘s kind of a statement of the obvious.

CARLSON:  It is. But what does that mean? It‘s her Congress.

ROBINSON:  Look, I think she, despite the fact that she‘s kind of fed up with the Moveon encampment in front of her house in San Francisco and all of that, she has to speak to that wing of the party and I think she is saying, no, we haven‘t done what you thought you were sending us here to do which is to end the war.

MAY:  But the idea that Moveon sent them to Congress I think is—

ROBINSON:  Exactly. That is absolutely true. In fact it was the American people who sent them to—

CARLSON:  We‘re going to take a quick break we‘ll be right back. Larry Craig still hanging around the Senate even though he was supposed to have resigned his seat or said he would now he‘s attacking his critics including Mitt Romney we‘ve got the quote on that.

Plus Hillary Clinton trying to become the first female president of the United States her campaign is predicting it could happen. Especially with support of all those women out there. They‘re the majority and they love Hillary.  .

You are watching MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.

Senator Larry Craig filed an appeal today in an attempt to overturn a judgment by a judge saying that he cannot withdraw his guilty plea for that disorderly conduct charge; Craig of course was busted for the bathroom sex sting back in June. Originally said he‘d step down at the end of September now he says he‘s not going any where for the moment.

How much is his presence in the Congress hurting Republicans especially candidates seeking the White House? Joining us again, “Washington Post” Eugene Robinson and the president of the Foundation for Defensive Democracy Cliff May.

Gene, here is the quote from Larry Craig, he‘s on the “Today” show, Matt Lauer‘s interviewing him, I believe it‘s airing tomorrow morning. Here is part of what he said about Mitt Romney. “I was very proud of my association with Mitt Romney and he not only threw me under his campaign bus, he backed up and ran over me again.”

I have to say as Larry Craig‘s basically only defender in all of cable news, I‘m glad to hear him say this. I was outraged. I‘m not defending—I think he was soliciting sex but I think its outrage that Mitt Romney would pile on like that.

ROBINSON:  Well, he certainly did pile on, so to speak, he did—no, he did back the bus over him again as did other Republicans, especially in the Senate. I mean Mitch McConnell who has been, you know, with the crow bar trying to get the guy out. It‘s really kind of interesting, he‘s known these guys for a long time, presumably they‘re friends, they voted together, they have bonded and the way the politicians do. I can understand why Larry Craig would feel that this was—

CARLSON:  Yeah, I think its offensive on good taste and decency grounds. You ought to defend your friends even when they‘re creeps, in my view. At this point, don‘t you think, Cliff, half the Republicans in the Congress have been voted out or retired over the mast 12 months, they kind of need every Republican they have why are they trying to get Larry Craig out of there?

MAY:  I kind of disagree with you guys. I think that if you‘re in public life nowadays one of the things you should do is try not to embarrass and humiliate your friends and allies.

CARLSON:  I agree.

MAY:  Trolling for sex in a public bathroom in an airport kind of does that, especially getting caught doing that. Part of the Larry Craig, look actually I know Larry Craig a bit and I admire him, I like him, but what the hell, how are we supposed to look at this? This is a bad habit he has acquired which is getting counseling for or this is a proud lifestyle choice he is making or he was unfairly accused of something he really didn‘t do. I don‘t know how to look at this. Not that I—

CARLSON:  How about this way. This is how I look at it anyway. I believe as matter of faith he was trolling for sex in the men‘s room. It just adds up perfectly, we‘ve seen this kind of thing before. People have these kinds of weird personal lives they seek to keep private because they‘re embarrassing, he broke the law, he should be—I‘m not defending what he did, he should be punished for it.

But the way you deal with this if you‘re the Republican leadership is you take Larry Craig aside privately and say Larry this is just too embarrassing. Let‘s figure out way for to you split in a dignified way. You don‘t get up and pound on the guy especially when he‘s helped you.

MAY:  How about if that has already happened and he has said I‘m not leaving, so do you what you have to do.

CARLSON:  Mitt Romney was caught cold on the campaign trail, the first thing he said, that‘s disgusting, that is disgraceful without even throwing in a line.

ROBINSON:  Romney was kind of over the top. One has to assume that in the Senate people have talked to him one on one and said, look, what are you doing here? How are you going to win even if you win you lose. How are you going to—how are you helping yourself? How are you helping the party?

But I really can understand him being angry with Romney because as you said, Romney just cold without saying, gee, you know, have to look into this, I don‘t know, whatever. Just disgusting, get him out of here, put him on the rack, whatever.

CARLSON:  He mentioned can you imagine if he didn‘t do it? What if Larry Craig was actually picking up a piece of paper in the men‘s room—I think he was soliciting sex, but what if he wasn‘t, seriously keep an open mind.

MAY:  It gets back to my point, Larry Craig needs to get out there say, here‘s the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth instead of us after all this time trying to guess what he was up to and assuming the worst.

Look serious people in serious jobs I think should lead serious lives.

When they don‘t, they do things that you humiliate get out of public life.  I thought that it was wrong for Clinton to be chasing interns around the oval office. I think it‘s wrong for Larry Craig to be trolling around bathrooms. When people do these things they really should just go away.

CARLSON:  But Clinton, you know what is interesting, I think you‘re making a very respectable point that I agree with in a lot of ways. But I guess one thing that I admired about people around Clinton as viscous as they were to Monica Lewinsky and all of their enemies and all these different women they attacked and brutalized verbally. They were kind of loyal to Clinton. I admired that. I think there‘s something appealing about honoring your friendships and presumably he had friendships and nobody honored them.

ROBINSON:  The thing about the Craig thing is the public nature of it.  If this had been some sort of more private setting and, let‘s say, just hypothetically that he hit on some guy in a gay bar or something like that.  That‘s completely different—

CARLSON:  Not that that ever happens in Washington.

ROBINSON:  No. It never, ever happens.

MAY:  Personal loyalties is admirable but people who are in public life, people who put themselves up as leaders acting like leaders that is a value that I think, we need to look to more and it‘s totally gone at this point.

CARLSON:  Quick programming note. Tune in to NBC tomorrow night at 8:00 Eastern for Matt Lauer‘s exclusive interview with Larry Craig and his wife Suzanne. And see more Wednesday on the “Today” Show.

Up next, Hillary Clinton is front runner for the Democratic nomination at this point does she owe it to female voters, will they help her win it all.

Well John McCain‘s presidential campaign has been written off again and again is he getting back on track?       

This is MSNBC. Back with answers in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK:  All these women in their 90s come to my events.  And they come and they wait.  Sometimes they‘re in walkers.  Sometimes they‘re in wheelchairs, like a daughter or granddaughter bring them.  And then when I‘m going around shaking hands, they will say something like, I‘m 95 years old and I was born before women could vote.  I want to live long enough to see a woman in the White House. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  That was Hillary Clinton talking to women, the women who host ABC‘s “The View” and the millions of American women presumably who watch that show.  According to polls, Mrs. Clinton has widespread appeal to female voters.  If you talk to her campaign, it‘s women who are going to carry her to the nomination and eventually the White House. 

A memo from chief Clinton strategist Mark Penn says that 94 percent of women under the age of 35 said they are more likely to vote next November if a woman, Hillary, is on the ballot.  Can that be?  How much would it matter were it true?  Here to tell us the “Washington Post‘s” Eugene Robinson and the president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy, Cliff may. 

Gene, this is an amazing statistic; 94 percent of women say they would be more likely to vote if a woman were on the ballot.  I think of all the times I voted for people because were male.  the ballot comes up, he‘s a dude.  I think I‘ll vote for him.  We‘ve got some more genitalia, he‘s getting my vote. 

ROBINSON:  Look, you didn‘t have a choice all those times you were voting, right?  You didn‘t have choice of genitalia. 

CARLSON:  I do.  I always vote the man. 

ROBINSON:  It‘s a—when firsts happen they are significant.  They say something about the society and how far it‘s come and where it is.  And, you know, not just that figure in that poll, but if you look at all the polls, really, that show her amazing strength among women, and you look at a state like South Carolina, my home state, where both in my paper, the Post and in “New York Times,” over the weekend there were stories about black women and how in a sense conflicted—

CARLSON:  That‘s interesting—

ROBINSON:  -- they feel about Obama versus Hillary Clinton.  Part of that—not all of that, certainly, but part of it is, he‘s African American.  She‘s a woman. 

CARLSON:  Part of it is loyalty to the Clintons, as specifically the Clintons, don‘t you think.  It‘s not just the female. 

ROBINSON:  Absolutely. 

MAY:  Because if gender solidarity trumps all other interests I think that‘s kind of sad.  I don‘t think racial or religious solidarity should trump all others either.

CARLSON:  Do you think that people who are voting on the basis of gender solidarity ought to be allowed to vote in a perfect world?  Of course they shouldn‘t be allowed to vote on those grounds.  That‘s moronic.   I‘m sorry, I get bounced off the air for saying it.  But it‘s true.

ROBINSON:  It doesn‘t trump all other characteristics.  There are a lot of women who are going to vote for Republicans in November because they‘re conservative. 

CARLSON:  I‘m merely saying the obvious, that you shouldn‘t vote for her because she‘s a woman.  Here is what the Clinton campaign says; Hillary isn‘t running as a woman.  As Hillary says, she‘s not running as a woman candidate.  The only reason to vote for her is that you believe she‘s the most qualified to be president. 

That‘s actually completely false considering the Hillary campaign—I get their e-mails—relentlessly pushes the glass ceiling argument.  You should vote her because she‘s a woman.  They say that all the time.  She just said that on “The View.”  That‘s their rationale.  

MAY:  At least call her a vaginal American. 

CARLSON:  Is that the new phrase.  I don‘t think I can say that. 

ROBINSON:  You don‘t say that.

CARLSON:  I‘m not going to say that. 

ROBINSON:  It‘s kind of working, number one. 

CARLSON:  It‘s definitely working. 

ROBINSON:  This is effective. 

CARLSON:  Don‘t you think it‘s a little embarrassing. 

ROBINSON:  No, it‘s not embarrassing. 

CARLSON:  I talked to two women today who I love and admire, who—I work in their proximity and they both said, I‘m embarrassed that women would vote just on the basis of her gender or that would influence their vote. 

ROBINSON:  We‘re talking about Democrats, first of all. 

CARLSON:  How would she be a different president because she‘s a woman?  Here is what I don‘t understand.  We need a woman.  How is she going to be a different president because she‘s a woman.  I don‘t get that. 

ROBINSON:  I don‘t think she will be.  But I think it will be significant if a woman is elected president of the United States, as it would be significant if an African American were elected president of the United States.  For some people it was significant when a southerner is elected as opposed to northerner, when the first Catholic was elected president of the United States.  It‘s says something about the country. 

MAY:  Did Margaret Thatcher have more women voting for her than men? 

I wonder. 

CARLSON:  I suspect she had more men. 

MAY:  I suspect that is true. 

CARLSON:  She ran and governed as a man. 

ROBINSON:  Most of her election he she won pretty big.  She probably did have. 

MAY:  She ran governed based on her views and her determination and her mettle.  I think that‘s the way it‘s supposed to be.

ROBINSON:  Talk to Margaret Thatcher about John Major and she thought he was kind of a woos.  She leaned close and said, if only he were a man. 

CARLSON:  She was a tougher dude than he ever was, no doubt about it.  Here is an interesting poll—this is from your paper, Mr. Robinson, “Washington Post”/ABC News poll; Republicans are asked who best reflects the core values of their party.  Guess who wins, Cliff. 

MAY:  John McCain wins. 

CARLSON:  That‘s right. 

MAY:  He only gets about a quarter of the Republican electorate. 

CARLSON:  Twenty six percent. 

MAY:  Which is note overwhelming.  But, yes, a lot of people—

CARLSON:  He beats Giuliani and Thompson and Romney. 

MAY:  That is significant.  It does suggest that he has opening here to get back into this race. 

CARLSON:  Where does he do it? 

MAY:  Where does he do it or how does he do it?  I think he‘s got to show energy.  He‘s go to show smarts.  I‘ve seen him at his best and I think I‘ve seen him not at his best.  If he is really at his best, he‘s really a very compelling person and a great candidate.  He hasn‘t always been a great candidate. 

CARLSON:  When is the moment when Republicans are going to wake up and say, you know what, this is the guy who is kind of the most traditional.  This is guy we would have nominated ten years ago. 

ROBINSON:  I don‘t know when that date is, but I think it‘s entirely possible. 

CARLSON:  You do? 

ROBINSON:  Yes, I think McCain has gained ground in the last couple of debates.  I think Romney, especially, even though he‘s ahead in Iowa—he‘s ahead in New Hampshire.  His leads are shrinking.  I‘m not sure he‘s wearing all that well or as well as he like to.  Giuliani has had more staying power than I certainly thought he would at the beginning of the race.  But I still think there‘s an opening.  Fred Thompson has not dazzled. 

CARLSON:  You and I—I can say I join you in being wrong about Giuliani we laughed about it out right.  We were completely wrong.  He‘ll be president at this point.  What do we know?  Fred Thompson apparently disappeared according to some counties—he‘s living in Arizona under an assumed name with a lot of Italian guys.  Where is Fred Thompson? 

MAY:  Tonight I think he did a long interview on a rival network that will remain unnamed.  Yes, part of what he has to do is show his energy and his drive and his determination if he seriously wants to do this.  He better show that he can—he can compete—

CARLSON:  Is there a question about whether he seriously wants to do it? 

MAY:  That question is out there.  It is an open question.  I think it is one of the things that is being asked by the Republican electorate and by the population in general.  Does he really, really want to do this and is he going to fight hard for it, or does it have to be kind of thrown in his lap?  I think it remains to be seen. 

CARLSON:  Gene, e-mails apparently have been circulating—I have not received one—questioning Barack Obama‘s religious identity, calling attention to the fact his middle name is Hussein, claiming he‘s a devout Muslim who is pretending to be a Christian.  These are circulating around.  It‘s not clear where they‘re from.  It seems like the Obama campaign is calling attention to these e-mails.  Why?  My suspicion is these probably help Obama in a Democratic primary because they‘re so unfair. 

ROBINSON:  The unfairness might help the Obama campaign.  Obama would like—this is point where his campaign would like to be showing some movement in a positive direction.  I have not received these e-mails.  I receive tons of stuff from the Obama campaign.  I don‘t think I‘ve gotten this from them.  I have heard that they‘re around. 

CARLSON:  It‘s interesting.  I remember in South Carolina in 2000, McCain played up the so-called attacks on—I liked McCain in 2000 a lot.  I traveled with him, thought he was a great guy, would have voted for him over Bush in the primary had I voted.  However, it was B.S. basically.  They pretended as if the Bush administration had attacked his daughter, when in fact, as far as I know, it was some nut case caller to an A.M.  radio show. 

They played it up so people would feel sympathy.  Do you think that is what is going on here? 

MAY:  I don‘t know if that was the campaign is doing.  

CARLSON:  Who would be behind this? 

MAY:  I think one can see that that would be a useful strategy.  If the Clinton campaign were in fact doing something like that, it would be useful for Obama to make sure everybody understood. 

CARLSON:  Anybody who is going to be moved by this attack is not going to vote for Obama anyway, it seems to me.  This just doesn‘t make sense as an attack, does it? 

ROBINSON:  Right.  It would seem to me that unlikely that the Clinton campaign would do something like that.  Because, why? 

CARLSON:  I agree with you.  I‘m not saying they‘re above it.  I just don‘t see that‘s smart politics.  It would be interesting to find out who believes—I‘m not accusing the Obama campaign of manufacturing this, but who exactly thinks this is going to hurt him with Democrats? 

MAY:  Not at all clear.  It may just be—as I understand it his father was a Muslim.  He is not a Muslim.  This is something should he be the candidate that I think will be discussed.  What are his feelings about this?  Does he understand that radical Islamists will say that he‘s departed from the faith and that is a capital crime to them, by the way, to have done that.  I‘ve never heard him deal with the whole issue of religion and his roots religiously and how he‘s changed.  I think at certain point, should he become the candidate, he‘ll have to. 

ROBINSON:  He would have to talk about that. 

CARLSON:  First he has to beat Hillary Clinton.  As we learned a minute ago, he is not a woman.  So it‘s going to be kind of tough. 

MAY:  That can be changed. 

CARLSON:  It can be changed.  That‘s whole other show. 

ROBINSON:  What do you know? 

CARLSON:  Exactly.  What do I know?  I‘ve never walk add mile in the high heels.  I beg your pardon.  I know I‘m going to get so much hate mail.  Thank you both very much.  I appreciate it.  Coming up, the “Washington Post‘s” Howard Kurtz writes a tell all book about the network news wars.  He says the days of the evening newscasts may be fading.  He joins us next. 

And putting the squeeze on the Juice.  Prosecutors flip not one but two of his alleged co-conspirators.  Will the rest be soon to follow?  How many are there?  We‘ll tell you.  We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  “Washington Post” media columnist Howard Kurtz takes readers inside the world of network nightly news programs in his new book.  It‘s a behind the scenes look at the changing face, literally and figuratively, of the big three network news shows.  Here with me now the author of “Reality Show, Inside the Last Great Television News War,” Howard Kurtz of the “Washington Post.”  Mr. Kurtz, welcome. 

HOWARD KURTZ, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Don Imus is back, by the way.  Is that going to work?  Has he served his penance do you think? 

KURTZ:  I don‘t think he needed to be banned from broadcasting for life.  But every word that he utters now is going to be looked at very closely by his critics to see if he slides back into the racial insult humor that got him bounced off the air six months ago. 

CARLSON:  Does that make it—does that take the Imus out of Imus at that point? 

KURTZ:  That‘s the question.  It‘s kind of like how much personality can Katie Couric show on the CBS Evening News.  If Imus is just going to be nice and polite, then he‘s going to lose what gives him that great appeal. 

CARLSON:  You have written a whole book about how much personality Katie Couric can show on the evening news.  How much can she show and why isn‘t that show doing better?

KURTZ:  Katie Couric and company made a lot of mistakes early on by changing too much too fast, by blowing off or minimizing major news stories in favor of free speech and some other bells and whistles they put on.  And it didn‘t work.  It drove viewers away.  And now she‘s gone back to a more traditional hard newscasts.  But it‘s hard to get people back into the tent. 

Plus she‘s in the straight jacket.  The woman who so many people loved in morning television can‘t show much of a personality if she‘s reading 19 minutes of news. 

CARLSON:  So your view is Rick Kaplan, who formerly ran MSNBC and CNN

both of us were there—has come back and done all the right things, but the viewers have already left; that‘s the problem? 

KURTZ:  You only get one chance to make a Broadway debut.  I think it‘s a better newscast now than it was when Katie went over to CBS.  But the fact is a lot of those people now watch Charlie Gibson and Brian Williams. 

CARLSON:  There‘s nothing intrinsic to Katie Couric that makes it a failure. 

KURTZ:  A lot of people maybe judge her differently.  She is the biggest celebrity among the anchors.  I write about this a lot in the book.  She gets rock star coverage.  That means a lot of people really like her.  Some people really don‘t like her.  We write about her clothes and her hair and her legs in a way that no other anchor gets.  It‘s a double edged sword and so far it has not paid off for CBS. 

CARLSON:  I hope it does.  I personally thought it was a good idea to hire her.  What do I know? 

KURTZ:  Charlie Gibson said to her and to me that he would not want to see her fail.  He certainly doesn‘t want to see her being number one.  He likes that spot.  He thinks it would be set back for female anchors generally.

CARLSON:  Also for the business of the evening newscasts, which you suggest may not be in business forever. 

KURTZ:  Well, I think evening newscasts are tremendously important.  The fashionable thing to say is they‘re dinosaurs.  They‘re obsolete.  But they still have that big megaphone, 25 million viewers a night.  What they report on the war, on the presidential campaign, really matters.  But their viewers are getting older.  They are making very little effort to get younger people inside that tent, because they play to their base, in political terms. 

They do constant stories on Alzheimer‘s and on back pain and on hip replacement.  Younger people—they‘re not giving younger a reason to watch.  Plus, we all have a million media choices.  We can watch cable, talk radio, Internet.  And this notion of tuning in at 6:30 for a half hour summary of the news is a harder and harder sell. 

CARLSON:  They‘re also pretty straight.  Is there room for a—these are all questions that you obsess over for a living.  But is there room for a straight news anchor?  I noticed purportedly straight news anchors recently stepping out more and more in to opinion.  And no one seems to notice. 

KURTZ:  There‘s certainly nothing wrong with showing personality.  For example, Brian Williams, one of the funniest guys in the business. 

CARLSON:  He is one of the funniest guys in the business. 

KURTZ:  Very formal and sober on the air.  Now he‘s going to host “Saturday Night Live,” show people—

CARLSON:  He‘ll be good. 

KURTZ:  -- that he shows on “The Daily Show.”  But I do think in an age when so—market is so fragmented and people can watch any one of the cable hosts who they like, who they think reflects their views, there is a place where—to come together—certainly some people think these newscasts lean to the left—where they deal with a common set of facts.  Let us all argue about those facts.  But don‘t put too much top spin on the ball if you are pretending—not pretending, if you are purporting to be a straight network evening newscaster. 

CARLSON:  I couldn‘t agree with you more.  I think it‘s important to have a common news sort of reservoir we can all agree is unbiased and we can make our conclusions from that reservoir of accepted facts.  But is that what people want?  People seem to turn to organs or sources of news they agree with.  I look for the news as presented by my team.  Like the public wants that, right? 

KURTZ:  Some people listen to Rush.  Some listen to Air America.  There is a lot of that going on.  For example, the way the network newscasts covered this war, I argue in this book that they did as much as anyone to turn public opinion against the war, not by being anti-Bush, anti-war, liberal anchors, but by presenting the carnage from Baghdad without any spin night after night and by framing it in such a way to make us care that the casualties were going on, even as the country started to suffer from Iraq fatigue. 

There is a place for that.  There‘s also a place for cable and arguing and liberal and conservatives going at it.  But the evening news is not that.  The evening news has to find a way to revitalize itself, to reclaim that role.  It will never be like Cronkite, where half the country watched, because there‘s too many choices.  But to reclaim that role as fair-minded arbiters of facts and aggressive questioners of people in power. 

CARLSON:  Howard Kurtz, “Reality Show” is the book.  It‘s great to see you outside, free from the other cable network to come over here.  Thank you very much. 

KURTZ:  Thanks Tucker.

CARLSON:  No fish tail here.  Six guys set out on a fishing trip off Florida and reel in the catch of the century.  Bill Wolff reveals how they did it.  Back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Joining us now ladies and gentlemen, the former captain of the Harvard water polo team, Bill Wolff. 

BILL WOLFF, MSNBC VICE PRESIDENT:  A fact I‘ll never live down, Tucker.  Thanks for reminding everybody of that embarrassing historical detail.  Today, Tucker, an historic day for all stay at home parents, retirees, the unemployed and kids who sicked out of school, as Drew Carey assumes the helm of the “Price is Right.”  Carey, of course, succeeds the legendary Bob Barker whose 107-year run ended in his retirement last spring. 

Carey continued the tradition of the curiously long stick mike.  He gave away a new car to a guy from Rancho Cucamonga.  I‘m not making that up.  After the showcase, as he waived goodbye, Carey urged the audience to help control the pet population by having their pets spade or neutered.  The more things change the more they stay the same, Tucker, serious business. 

CARLSON:  I know, Bill, that you have in your office a framed name tag from “The Price is Right.”  You were once in the audience there.  Does this seem a legitimate heir, Drew Carey to the Bob Barker legacy? 

WOLFF:  There is no legitimate heir to the Bob Barker legacy, Tucker.  But I‘m glad you threw this my way.  I‘m a “Price is Right” expert.  I think Drew Carey is a fine choice.  But I would caution Drew this, there is nothing funny about the “Price is Right.”  It‘s a serious competition.  Save your jokes for your night time TV appearances, you know what I mean? 

CARLSON:  I think I know exactly what you mean.  Very quickly, Bill, what is the theme song to the “Price is Right?”  Do you know? 

WOLFF:  You‘ll have to—you‘ll have to call me for a rendition. 

What are the words that‘s the question, the words are, the price is right -

see what I‘m saying. 

Tucker, a bad day just got worse for O.J. Simpson, if he was watching this.  It was bad already.  A second of his co-defendants from that memorabilia misadventure in Vegas said he will plead guilty to reduced charges and testify against the Juice.  Walter Alexander joined Charles Cashmore on the proverbial bus that is revving it‘s engines in preparation to have O.J. throw under it, in court, no less. 

Though Mr. Alexander would not say what his testimony will be, Mr.  Cashmore‘s lawyer says his client will testify that there were guns involved in the crime, a circumstance Mr. Simpson and his lawyers have denied.  You‘ll recall the September 13th incident, Tucker, in which O.J.  and colleagues may or may not have broken into a hotel room, may or may not have held some memorabilia dealers against their will, and may or may not have stolen some stuff that may or may not have belonged to O.J. Simpson. 

Grim news for a former football great and we know the rest of the story, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Boy, that‘s sad.  How the mighty have fallen.  About 15 years ago I guess. 

WOLFF:  Fallen fast and not looking good for the Juice.  Although what‘s the use at this point.  What‘s the use.  People are taking pleasure in it, take no pleasure folks. 

Fishing news for you Tucker.  You‘re a big fisherman.  Breaking off the coast of Florida. Adley Bruiner (ph) and five friends entered a grouper fishing tournament on Saturday, but returned to shore having caught an 11-foot long, 844 pound Maco shark.  Mr. Bruiner used a two-foot fish as bait and fought the shark for more than an hour before reeling it in.  He and his pals couldn‘t get the monster on to their 52-foot boat, so they tied it to the stern and towed it back in 70 miles to the shore town of Destin, Florida, all the while praying that the thing was as dead as it appeared to be. 

Quote, “it was tense,” said Bruiner.  “I fished for 40 years and I‘ve never seen one that big,” end quote.  After it was gutted, the thing weighed 638 pounds.  I must admit, I haven‘t seen a shark that big since I left Los Angeles.  And none of those guys had any guts at all. 

CARLSON:  Nice!

WOLFF:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  That is one—is this—that is the first Maco shark I‘ve ever seen. 

WOLFF:  It‘s a Maco.  Some say Maco. 

CARLSON:  Some indeed do say Maco.

WOLFF:  I say Maco.  I went to dictionary.com.  It said Maco.  Come on, Internet let me down again? 

Finally, Tucker, some red meat politics; Fred Thompson is not the only presidential candidate—hopeful who is better with a teleprompter than off the cuff.  In South Korea the ruling liberal party has chosen a former TV news anchorman, Chung Dong Yun (ph), as its presidential candidate.  Unlike hard line TV news anchor men, Chung Dong Yun supports a soft line approach to North Korea and more aid for the poor.  The bad news for Chung, the liberals have held office for ten years and the voters are sick.  He‘s 40 points behind in the polls. 

The good news, if he does become president, he can handle presidential addresses and whatever amazing car chases the networks may choose to interrupt him with.  Know what I mean?  It‘s the state of the union, but—

CARLSON:  Brian Williams for president?  I‘d vote for him. 

WOLFF:  I‘d vote for Brian Williams in half a heartbeat.  What‘s that song?  You hear the words? 

CARLSON:  “The Price is Right,” Bill.  That‘s right.  Up next, Bill Wolff from headquarters.  Thanks Bill.

WOLFF:  You got it.

CARLSON:  That does it for us.  Thank for watching as always.  Up next, Chris Matthews and “HARDBALL.”  His nightly political program.  We‘re back tomorrow.  Hope to see you then.  Have a great night.

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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