updated 1/28/2005 2:56:59 PM ET 2005-01-28T19:56:59

Guest: Mary Fetchet, Mort Zuckerman, Cheri Jacobus, Jack Burkman, Lois Lee, Jennifer Berman, Tim Graham, Bob Jensen, Andrea Lafferty

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight‘s top headline, PBS promoting a radical agenda with your tax dollars. 

Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, where no passport is required and only common sense is allowed. 

A PBS cartoon series that airs in classrooms across America features a girl with two mommies.  The Department of Education is pulling the plug on that project, but what else is PBS using your tax dollars to fund? 

And then, are America‘s high schools turning into brothels?  In San Diego, cops have actually uncovered a prostitution ring of over 100 girls, some as young as 12 years old.  And get this.  The pimps are teenagers, too.  We‘re going to take you to San Diego for the latest on that shocking story and try to figure out why it‘s happening and how you can stop it in your hometown. 

And a University of Colorado professor says we shouldn‘t call those killed on 9/11 innocent victims, and he says the hijackers weren‘t terrorists.  Should this guy really be teaching college? 

ANNOUNCER:  From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all.  Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, welcome to the show. 

Our top story tonight, the culture wars continue.  Is PBS brainwashing your kids, as some advocates say?  Well, they may be with a new cartoon for 6-year-olds that feature a gay couple. 

With me now, we‘ve got Tim Graham of the Media Research Center.  We‘ve got Andrea Lafferty from the Traditional Values Coalition.  And Bob Jensen, he‘s professor of journalism at University of Texas at Austin.  He‘s also the author of “Citizens for the Empire.”

Now, before we get to that hot debate, let‘s get to the facts of the case. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLY REARDON, WPTZ REPORTER (voice-over):  Meet Buster, the cartoon bunny, who travels the globe learning about diverse families. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  This is Buster.  He is visiting.  He will be sharing our math class with us. 

CHILDREN:  Hi, Buster. 

REARDON:  And meet his new friends from Vermont. 

KAREN PIKE, MOTHER:  We are a loving, committed family raising our children in a healthy environment.  And we happen to both be women. 

REARDON:  Now the center of a national controversy.  Karen Pike, her partner, and their three kids starred in an episode of the cartoon slated to air in two weeks, until yesterday, when the nation‘s new education secretary asked PBS to pull the show. 

PIKE:  She, on her—basically her first official act, denounced my family, and has said that we now—we are not moral or appropriate for other children to know we exist.  And I have to explain that to my children. 

REARDON:  At issue, public money.  Taxpayer dollars from the Education Department fund “Postcards From Buster.”  PBS decided late last night to hold the episode from its 349 stations.  The producers of the show, however, based in Boston, will make it available to affiliates who want it. 

Karen‘s home station, Vermont Public Television, plans to air the program March 23. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It‘s our decision to have the program available to anybody who wants to watch it.  It‘s ultimately the parents‘ decision about whether to have their child watch it. 

In Hinesburg, Kelly Reardon, News Channel 5.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  And that was Kelly Reardon from WPTZ from Plattsburgh, New York.

Let me bring in right now Andrea Lafferty.

Andrea, you are from the Traditional Values Coalition.  You believe that this is another example of PBS using tax dollars to promote a radical agenda.  Explain. 

ANDREA LAFFERTY, TRADITIONAL VALUES COALITION:  Well, Joe, it‘s good to be with you.  I really believe, and millions of Americans agree with Secretary Spellings.  She showed common sense in what she did. 

She is in lockstep with beliefs and similar beliefs as the American people.  We have seen over the course of a number of years the American people have voted, state after state, California, liberal and conservative states, have all said no to homosexual marriage and now particularly when it brings in children.  We are talking about preschool kids.  They were trying to use tax dollars to foist this on small children.

And these tax dollars are supposed to be to prepare kids to be ready for when they get to school, to be learning, and be prepared when they get to school.  This has nothing to do with education.  This is merely taking a political agenda and forcing it on our kids. 

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, Andrea, but, of course, your critics will claim people that attack this cartoon, that have attacked SpongeBob SquarePants, of course, earlier this week, claiming that they both have pro-gay agendas, well, they claim that you are part of a radical right-wing conspiracy, and you say that middle America, the majority of Americans agree with you, but I hear comedians talking about this.  It gets an awful lot of laughs from the crowd. 

LAFFERTY:  Well, wait.  This is a separate issue from the SpongeBob thing.  And I am here to talk about PBS. 

The American people in California voted overwhelmingly against homosexual marriage.  Other states have done that as well, not just conservative states.  The American people don‘t want their children mixed into this subject.  I mean, it‘s up to a mother and a father to decide when and how to discuss this issue with their children. 

There is no reason to use tax dollars and particularly when you are dealing with preschoolers in talking about homosexuality.  It‘s not appropriate.  Secretary Spellings showed common sense. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Bob Jensen, let me ask you, is PBS promoting a pro-gay agenda here by showing this gay, lesbian couple in Vermont to a group of 6-year-olds? 

DR. BOB JENSEN, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS:  First of all, I would like to say, I don‘t believe this is a right-wing conspiracy.  Conspiracy implies something done in secret.  This is radical, reactionary, right-wing agenda pushed right out in public. 

Is PBS trying to promote a homosexual agenda?  PBS is a space where people are supposed to be able to talk about important issues.  One of the reasons we would want a public broadcasting and I would advocate a much better funded and more aggressive public broadcasting system than the weak, timid one we have.  The whole point of public broadcasting is to create space for the discussion of these issues.  That‘s it.

Listen, we live in a pluralist society.  There‘s a lot of stuff on PBS I don‘t agree with, but I don‘t go around complaining about every show that isn‘t in conformance with my politics.  I expect PBS to air shows that don‘t agree with.  That‘s what I want.  And I think teaching children that there are multiple ways of living is healthy.  I can‘t imagine why anyone would be against it. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Why would you be against that, Andrea?

LAFFERTY:  Well, this is not a radical agenda.  This is mainstream.  The position that I have taken, the position that the secretary of education has taken is a mainstream position. 

This other guest is actually out of the mainstream and radical.  Parents need to decide and want to decide how to discuss these issues with their kids.  And to take tax dollars and create a show for sixth graders—excuse me -- 6-year-olds—is ridiculous, and it is not mainstream. 

Let me bring in Tim Graham right now with the Media Research Center. 

Tim, you guys have followed PBS for quite some time.  Do you believe that this is one more example of PBS promoting an agenda that‘s outside the mainstream of mainstream America, the taxpayers who fund PBS? 

TIM GRAHAM, DIRECTOR OF MEDIA ANALYSIS, MEDIA RESEARCH CENTER:  Well, this is pretty subtle, as PBS propaganda goes.  It‘s just a shame. 

You know, my daughter loves to watch “Arthur.”  We like to watch “SpongeBob SquarePants.”  And so why can‘t we leave the cartoons for the kids and not try to sell them some adult agenda?  But it‘s definitely true.  PBS over the years has a lot of one-sided liberal programming, whether it‘s on homosexuality, whether it‘s on the war in Iraq, whatever the subject is. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Give me specific examples. 

GRAHAM:  Well, the famous one in PBS circles was in 1991, where they put on a show called “Tongues Untied,” which was a 60-minute pro-gay film, but also everything we see.  We have now with Bill Moyers that‘s on, has been on every week for a couple of years now. 

When Pat Mitchell, the new president of PBS, came on, she decided this is what it needed.  It needed a one-hour show every Friday night denouncing the Bush administration as the evil forces of the military industrial complex.  And there is not balance.  There is still a dramatic liberal bias in the Public Broadcasting System.  It is really the same liberal system that we had in the ‘70s and ‘80s.  It‘s a dinosaur, and it ought to be junked. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Tim, let me read some Bill Moyers quotes and get a response from the professor, because the list of Moyers quotes is long. 

Last March, he said that President Bush has lost all credibility with everybody, recommended that Al Gore be put in charge of homeland security.  And here are some other quotes.  In 2003, he said President Bush is—quote—“plotting the deliberate, intentional destruction of the United States of America.  Also in 2003, Moyers called Vice President Dick Cheney the—quote—“poster boy for the military-industrial complex, whose call for war with all the ferocity of the noncombatants and then turns around and feeds off the corpse of war.”

Professor, that doesn‘t sound down the middle to me.  And for the life of me, I can‘t think of a conservative counterpoint to somebody as far left as Bill Moyers.  Can you? 

JENSEN:  Well, first of all, Bill Moyers isn‘t the far left.  Bill Moyers is a liberal well within the mainstream.

SCARBOROUGH:  Bill Moyers isn‘t the far left? 

JENSEN:  Listen, I am on the left.  I know what a leftist looks like. 

It ain‘t Bill Moyers.  Trust me. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, my God.  How far left are you, Professor? 

JENSEN:  First of all, we have to distinguish between statements Bill Moyers may make in public speeches and the content.  Now, if you want to criticize...

(CROSSTALK)

GRAHAM:  Those are from the program.  Those are from the program. 

JENSEN:  If you look at “NOW,” “NOW” was one of the few actual programs on TV that was willing in a time when most mainstream journalists were rolling over for the Bush administration, at least Moyers was willing to take on important subjects.  I think this notion that PBS is a home for nothing but left-wing ideas is very funny.  There was a Wall Street program.  Tucker Carlson just got hired on PBS. 

If you look at the actual programming on PBS, I would say it‘s not critical.  It‘s not edgy enough.  What do we want from public broadcasting?  We want public broadcasting to be the place where the commercials are afraid to go. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, well, you know, what I want public broadcasting to be is down the middle.  And you talked about Tucker Carlson.  Tucker Carlson is PBS‘ idea of a conservative, but he predicted that Bush was going to lose, and he is against the war.  So, anyway, if that‘s fair and balanced at PBS, so be it. 

Anyway, Professor, thank you for being with us.  Andrea Lafferty, thank you.  And, Tim Graham, as always, we appreciate your time. 

Now, coming up next, you know prostitution is a problem in big cities, but could there be pimps working out in your kids‘ high schools?  We have got the facts every parent needs to hear coming up next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Teen prostitution in your hometown?  Yes, probably so. 

More and more teenagers from middle-class families are getting involved. 

That story next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Police in San Diego, California, have uncovered a teenage prostitution ring.  Now, shockingly, some girls as young as 12 could be involved. 

Reporter Steve Walker of our San Diego affiliate KNSD is following the story. 

Steve, give us the very latest. 

STEVE WALKER, KNSD REPORTER:  Joe, this is really tough to believe, but police are confirming tonight that the problem here is actually getting worse.  I first reported on teenage pimps and prostitutes about two years ago. 

At the time, a third of the pimps arrested here in San Diego were in their tens.  Cops call these guys tennis shoe pimps because they don‘t even drive cars yet.  They are not old enough to drive.  They say these kids are drawn to pimping, believing that it‘s more lucrative and less risky than selling drugs, for example.

Police have told me arrested pimps here as young as 15 years old.  These are high school kids, even middle school students.  Now, they tend to control just a few girls, usually around their age, and kids also confirmed that it‘s happening.  I spoke to students at high schools who say kids actually brag about being pimps or even prostitutes, showing off a stack of $100 bills in one case.

And pimping, pandering can be a very difficult charge to prove, but with these latest investigations, we‘re seeing the phenomenon is cutting across cultural lines and is spreading.  Initially, the problem seemed to be limited to the poorer neighborhoods.  The big question, of course, is, why would these girls do this?  And psychologists and police that I have talked to say that these girls have two things in common, obviously, very low self-esteem and a very strong need to belong to a part of a group or what they see as caring environment, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thanks so much, Steve.  We greatly appreciate the update. 

Now, of course, teen prostitution has been an issue for years, and statistics are going to tell you that prostitutes are getting younger, and coming from all walks of life, as Steve just said, from the very poor and broken homes, but also from the middle class, and some upper-middle-class homes. 

With us now to talk about it are Lois Lee.  She‘s of Children of the Night.  And we have Jennifer Berman of the UCLA Medical Center. 

Let‘s start with you, Jennifer. 

Again, teen prostitution seems to be on the rise, not just in poor neighborhoods, but also in middle-class neighborhoods.  What is fueling this phenomenon? 

DR. JENNIFER BERMAN, FEMALE SEXUAL MEDICINE CENTER:  Middle-class and I would venture to say upper-class neighborhoods.  And as they mentioned earlier, a lot of it has to do with self-esteem, but also, in homes that are very—in the upper-class homes, where children have access to everything, sex, drugs, money, cars, where there is this invincible, rules don‘t apply, thrill-seeking, you start with the bar mitzvahs, as we talked about other times, to the bar keeps getting raised. 

And I think that what needs to happen is that, when it‘s discovered, not just therapy, but there needs to be serious interventions, because these children have problems, and it is going to lead to more destructive bare in the future. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, Jennifer, are you saying that some children are just doing this, again, from middle-class and upper-class homes just for the thrill of it? 

BERMAN:  I think that there‘s self-esteem issues to begin with, male

attention, admiration, friendship, or association with a group that‘s

completely different than what might be going on at school or within their

families, and the thrill, and the aspect of rules don‘t apply to me and I‘m

·         just, on some level, some empowerment, which again brings us back to the point that these are children, and more than just support and therapy needs to be provided.

They need serious ongoing intervention, or they are on a downhill spiral. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Lois Lee, I understand that, in your work with these teenage prostitutes, that you have some middle-class and even one or two wealthy young girls that have gotten sucked into prostitution.  What causes that?  Why is it happening, and what are the warning signs for parents across America who think their child is safe in their home? 

LOIS LEE, CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT:  I have been working with child prostitutes since 1979, when I started Children of the night.

And one thing that all of these children have in common is that they were sexually abused in early childhood.  It goes across the board, make no mistake about it, and that sexual abuse was never appropriately dealt with in the beginning.  It‘s not—you just don‘t pick up one day and decide that you want to be a prostitute.  There‘s a learning.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  So it‘s always a parent or a cousin or somebody else raped when they were young kids?

LEE:  Baby-sitter, tutor, neighbor, or it could have been a gang rape, you know, in elementary school.  The stories are always painfully similar.  And I have worked with thousands of these children.  And there‘s no deviation from that simple fact. 

And so parents need to protect their children from the sexual abuse that occurs early on in life.  Children who are involved in prostitution lack the aggression required to commit other kinds of crimes.  It would never occur to them to go into a store and steal a steak or to steal somebody‘s car.  So they slide into prostitution because they have already been trained, they have already been broken in, and their dignity has already been taken.  And I just might say that children...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Go ahead. 

LEE:  Go ahead.

Well, I just want to say...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Let me show some statistics from California.  And then you can respond. 

LEE:  OK.

SCARBOROUGH:  Here‘s some latest statistics.

In 2000, 247 teen prostitutes were arrested.  In 2001, there 355 arrested.  And, in 2002, 404 were arrested.  I guess the question is, with these trends upward, does that mean that more children are getting involved in prostitution or does it just mean that more children are being—getting involved in prostitution or does it just mean that there‘s more of a recognition of the problem? 

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN:  And those are just ones that are caught, not ones—there‘s probably a huge number of ones that aren‘t caught.  So that number is probably doubled. 

(CROSSTALK)

LEE:  All of these children are given false identification by the pimps, so they are processed as adults.  So the count—there is no mechanism to accurately count these children. 

Child prostitution started in America in the late ‘70s when Congress refused to allow local police to arrest children for curfew and ditching school and status offenses and running away.  Now we are arresting them, and now they are being identified because everything has swung to the right.  And that‘s why you have seen it in the media.  That‘s why they‘re being identified.

It started in the late ‘70s.  And I don‘t think it‘s increased.  I think it‘s just recognized. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, recognized more.

Dr. Berman, I will give you the final word. 

LEE:  Yes. 

BERMAN:  I would like to say, I hear what the other guest is saying, and I really appreciate her expertise. 

But me being in the medical field and seeing women, treating women with sexual disorders and function issues, I see a huge number of patients and women and younger women that have this sexual addiction issue, and weren‘t necessarily sexually abused.  Granted, there‘s dysfunctional sexual relationships, some wanted, some unwanted, but full-on sexual abuse, not necessarily.

A lot of it has to do with self-esteem and/or an addiction.  And, in some cases, it‘s addiction to sex.  And that can start when you‘re 12 to and—and then it just escalates when you‘re 15, 18, and then in your 30s, which, again, is why I say, more than arresting them, more than therapy, really like a rehab situation needs to be developed for these girls. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Dr. Jennifer Berman and Dr. Lois Lee, we greatly appreciate both of you being with us tonight. 

Now it‘s time for tonight‘s edition of flyover country, where we bring you some of the stories making headlines between Manhattan and the left coast that don‘t get reported in the mainstream media. 

In Kentucky, a surveillance tape caught a football coach at an alternative school in a violent confrontation with the student.  The coach was teaching a class when he accused a student of stealing a pencil.  Now it‘s the coach who could be facing charges.

And Oklahoma State Senator Frank Shurden hopes to revive his great state‘s tradition of cockfighting, but he wants to update the age-old sport and $100 million business by taking the razor blades off and replacing them with mini boxing gloves.  The state outlawed the sport in 2002 because roosters are routinely slashed or pecked to death. 

And Florida, a father was arrested and charged with felony child abuse and domestic battery for allegedly shocking his 14-year-old son with a stun gun.  The father told police officers that he used the stun gun on his son when the 14-year-old was fighting with his brother and wouldn‘t get in the car when he was told.  The father said he got the stun gun from his dresser drawer, shocked the child, who screamed, but who then got into the car. 

And in Gilbert, Minnesota, the town plans to celebrate its proud history with a Gilbert Whorehouse Days scheduled for this July.  The festival‘s name refers to a time when Gilbert was known for bars, gambling, and working girls.  Even though the event won‘t include any of the activities that gave the festival its name, plenty of residents are up in arms.  Organizers say the festival and its name are meant to bring back part of the town‘s history.  The festival will include a car show, antique fair, and bank robbery reenactment.  How nice. 

Still ahead, the media is having a hard time getting their stories straight.  More paid hacks for the Bush administration have been exposed.  And three days before the Iraqi election, only bad news out of Iraq is getting any coverage in the mainstream press.  My panel is going to be weighing in on that coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Journalism payola, first Armstrong Williams and now Maggie Gallagher.  Is the White House payrolling propaganda at your expense?  We are going to be talking about that and why the media is hurting the war effort in Iraq with our political roundtable. 

But, first, here‘s the latest news your family needs to know. 

(NEWS BREAK)

ANNOUNCER:  From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all.  Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

SCARBOROUGH:  First, there was Armstrong Williams, conservative columnist and radio host, collecting $280,000 bucks for promoting No Child Left Behind, next, syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher promoting a Bush marriage proposal in her columns.  Is this politics as usual, or has the Bush administration crossed the line, essentially paying off journalists? 

With me tonight to talk about it are Mort Zuckerman.  He‘s editor in chief of “U.S. News & World Report.”  And we have Republican strategists Cheri Jacobus and Jack Burkman. 

Mort Zuckerman, let me begin with you.

Is this the first time that you can remember an administration paying off so-called journalists to push their proposals? 

MORT ZUCKERMAN, EDITOR IN CHIEF, “U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT”:  Well, I can‘t remember another similar situation.  And, frankly, I think it‘s really done damage not only to these two individual journalists, but frankly to the world of journalism in general, because it really undermines the credibility of journalists in general. 

We as a class, as a profession, should not be taking money from the people we are writing about.  That is just an outrage.  And, as you saw in the press conference with the president, he also agreed with that.  It is just an outrage. 

JACK BURKMAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Yes, but, Mort, how do you define taking money?  There‘s not a person who hosts a show, a national program in this country, who doesn‘t call sponsors.  George Stephanopoulos does it.  Tim Russert does it.  Bill O‘Reilly does it.  If you host a show, you have to call your sponsors.

Does that mean that George Stephanopoulos is being paid of by Archer

Daniels Midland?  I certainly don‘t think so.  But, more than that, every -

·         you say you can‘t think of an example.  This has gone on for years.  The Clinton administration did it.  Other agencies here in the Bush administration do it.  There‘s a legitimate need for these agencies to get their message out. 

ZUCKERMAN:  I don‘t disagree with the legitimate need for these agencies to get their messages out.  But you cannot be paying off journalists.  Journalists earn a living.  They get paid by the people who employ them.  They should not employed by the government when they are supposed to be writing about the government. 

That is the whole idea of having an independent media. 

BURKMAN:  But how is this different...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Jack Burkman, hold on, Jack Burkman.  Let‘s talk about disclosure.  Wouldn‘t you like to know if—you talked about Bill O‘Reilly and Tim Russert.  Wouldn‘t you like to know if Bill O‘Reilly were being paid by somebody? 

(CROSSTALK)

ZUCKERMAN:  We know who their advertisers... 

(CROSSTALK)

ZUCKERMAN:  We know who their advertisers are.

(CROSSTALK)

BURKMAN:  I will answer, Joe. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on, Jack.  Hold on, Jack, because Mort makes a great point.  We know who is advertising on O‘Reilly.  We know who is advertising on “Meet the Press.”  There‘s disclosure there. 

There‘s not disclosure when Armstrong Williams supports No Child Left Behind.  You think he is doing it because it‘s a good idea, not because he has been paid over a quarter of a million dollars by the federal government. 

BURKMAN:  But, Joe, you have to understand...

(CROSSTALK)

BURKMAN:  You‘re drawing lines.  Let me get one chance to answer. 

You are drawing lines.  I would say this.  First of all, I doubt Armstrong is the only person in the national media with this kind of circumstance.  Armstrong has asked me to defend him on the program “America‘s Black Forum,” which I did.  He was dropped by the program.

But on that show, I issued this in defense.  Let‘s have everyone in the national media put forth their tax returns.  And I think you will see that he is not the only one, that there are payments.  For that matter, what about when you get into speaking fees?  Does that mean that if General Electric has...

SCARBOROUGH:  Jack Burkman, do you know anybody else that has been paid off?  Make some news tonight, because I would like to know. 

(CROSSTALK)

BURKMAN:  Joe, it‘s a question of how you define...

(CROSSTALK)

BURKMAN:  But let me answer this. 

(CROSSTALK)

ZUCKERMAN:  In any event, two wrongs don‘t make a right. 

BURKMAN:  It is all about how you define, Joe, paid off. 

For instance, what about someone who goes on the lecture circuit and General Electric is giving money?  They don‘t say—does Bill O‘Reilly say, a night I spoke before General Electric, I got 50 grand for doing that?  Does he disclose that?  No.  But everybody is doing that.  There are people who are collecting speaking fees all over the country.

SCARBOROUGH:  Everybody is not doing that. 

CHERI JACOBUS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Joe. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You are so wrong.  That is so cynical.

Cheri, go ahead.

JACOBUS:  I think that there‘s one distinction here that is important.  When you talk about journalists, are you talking about reporters or are you talking about opinion columnists and that type of thing? 

And I think there‘s a very, very big difference between Ms. Gallagher being—first of all, she gets research grants and that sort of thing.  She does a lot of other things besides being a columnist.  But if you are a columnist, you can pretty much say what you want.  And I don‘t think it matters quite as much however else you are making a living. 

I think if you are a journalist and you‘re supposed to be unbiasedly reporting the facts, that‘s a horse of a different color.  I think, if you‘re going to have this discussion, it‘s important to make the distinction.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on.  Mort Zuckerman, let me tell you something about Maggie Gallagher.  Not only—it‘s not just about Maggie Gallagher.

ZUCKERMAN:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s about the people like “National Review,” who she wrote for.  Rich Lowry issues a statement, yes, gee, we kind of would have liked to have known that she had been paid $21,000 before she wrote about this marriage proposal. 

ZUCKERMAN:  Of course. 

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  There is no difference.  If you are a columnist—and let‘s say I‘m a columnist.

ZUCKERMAN:  Absolutely. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I go to your newspaper.  I write supporting a proposal.  If I don‘t tell you that I have been paid off to write this proposal, that is unethical.  Everybody is not doing it. 

(CROSSTALK)

ZUCKERMAN:  Even if you‘re an opinion writer, a columnist, you would like to know as a reader that the opinions comes from your opinions and not because you are motivated by the money that you‘re being paid by...

(CROSSTALK)

JACOBUS:  ... motivated the guy.  I don‘t think that‘s quite fair. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second. 

Go, Mort. 

ZUCKERMAN:  Yes.  And if there are more who are people doing it, two wrongs don‘t make a right.  I don‘t care how many people do it.  They‘re all wrong.  And I don‘t think that many people do it.

(CROSSTALK)

BURKMAN:  Cheri‘s point is instructive.

JACOBUS:  There is a distinction.  I am not saying this is black and white.  I would certainly like to know if people are making a living doing it.

But somebody is not going to have an opinion because of being paid.  Chances are they might be getting something to do some other work related to that subject, but you already pretty much have to support that position.  I think that, while it‘s not great that they are being paid, sure, I would like that full disclosure, but I just think there‘s a huge, huge difference when we are talking about a columnist or a reporter. 

(CROSSTALK)

BURKMAN:  Cheri is exactly right.  There‘s a difference.

If you take a guy like Peter Jennings or Dan Rather or even a Chris Matthews, they are effectively holding themselves out as neutrals.  They‘re news men.  But you or I or Armstrong, we are essentially advocates.  We‘re advocating certain points.  People know our backgrounds.  Everything is disclosed.  I‘m Chyron Republican.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Speak for yourself. 

BURKMAN:  So is Cheri.

Well, OK. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Speak for yourself.

Hold on a second.  I take great exception to that.  I come on this show.  People know that I am a Republican.  I put that out, because I was a Republican congressman.  But I attack Republicans.  I attack Democrats.  And people that watch this show know I do...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on.  I do it because that‘s what I believe, not because I am getting paid under the table. 

And, Jack Burkman, you have made my point tonight.  And that is that everybody out there is saying, everybody does it.  Everybody is not doing it. 

JACOBUS:  I don‘t think everybody is doing it.

SCARBOROUGH:  I know a lot of great journalists.  I know a lot of great Democrats that have gone from politics to journalism.  They are not doing it.  I know a lot of Republicans that have gone from politics to journalism.  They are not doing it.  For you to say that everybody is doing it is the height of cynicism.  And it‘s wrong. 

(CROSSTALK)

BURKMAN:  You have to understand, Joe, you would have to distinguish.  I take your point, point well taken.  But you have to distinguish the money that Armstrong got from something like speaking fees. 

While it might be correct that not everybody is doing it, certainly it is the case there are many prominent journalists who are getting a lot of money.  George Will is an example of that.  Every time he writes a column, does he disclose all of the people from whom he receives speaking fees?  Certainly not. 

You have to distinguish the money that Armstrong got from the Department of Education from something like speaking fees from General Electric or General Motors. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I don‘t see the comparison. 

JACOBUS:  People are approaching—but they approach you, a potential client that approaches me, they already pretty much know.  If I don‘t believe in what they are doing, I don‘t take the client. 

Joe, if you are asked to go speak at an event and give an opinion, they probably pretty already know what they are getting in advance.  They are not paying you to say things to back up what they...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Mort Zuckerman, if that‘s the case, Mort, if that‘s the case, then why don‘t they disclose it? 

ZUCKERMAN:  First, let me just say...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Mort, I have got another question.  Do you think there are other people out there that are doing this? 

ZUCKERMAN:  There may be a few. 

I don‘t believe that the vast, vast majority of the world of journalists do not do anything of the sort like this.  And, by the way, it‘s not a question of what the journalist thinks.  It‘s also a question of what the public thinks when they find out that a journalist has been taking money to espouse a particular opinion. 

We are, at least on some fundamental level—it‘s why we have constitutional protection—we are in a role to review what is going on in public life.  And the fact is that, when we do this, if it appears to the public that we are being motivated by money—and, in fact, we may even be motivated by money—it‘s a total discredit to the profession. 

I believe that 99.9 percent of the people don‘t do it.  And if there are more than these two people, well, frankly, as I said before, two wrongs don‘t make a right.  Everyone who does it is wrong. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Mort, let‘s move on to the issue of media bias right now.

ZUCKERMAN:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  We are only a few days away from witnessing what is an historic election in Iraq.  And yet I hear from the former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, that she is saying, well, it really doesn‘t matter what goes on in this election, because it‘s no big news. 

A couple of nights ago, we had former General Wesley Clark and presidential candidate Wesley Clark saying it doesn‘t matter whether this is success or a failure.  You know, this election, it just doesn‘t matter. 

Don‘t you believe that the media has been underselling the significance of this election in Iraq on Sunday?  And, if it succeeds, aren‘t we seeing a great historical event that could change the way that Middle East history plays itself out? 

ZUCKERMAN:  Well, let me just talk about the substance of it. 

I do think this is a critically important election.  It won‘t be perfect.  I think it‘s a huge step forward for Iraq, for the United States in Iraq.  I think it‘s an absolutely wonderful thing that that is going to be taking place this week, for all the problems that undoubtedly will come at it. 

The problem that we always have is that policies, even the right policies, never have perfect outcomes.  And if the media focuses not on the 90 percent that‘s good or even the 10 percent that‘s bad, but on the 1 percent that‘s morally reprehensible, as they see it, you always get a position where you‘re undermining everything that is happening that may be good. 

BURKMAN:  Mort, you say that, but, at the same time, you have not given George Bush credit for bringing about the circumstance, 18 months of hard work and fighting that brought about this election. 

You say, yes, it‘s a good thing.  It‘s a developing good thing.  But let‘s give the president credit for that, which you have not done. 

(CROSSTALK)

ZUCKERMAN:  Excuse me.

(CROSSTALK) 

ZUCKERMAN:  I have done that. 

BURKMAN:  The problem with media coverage of this war...

SCARBOROUGH:  How has he not done that, Jack?

BURKMAN:  Well, I—do you give the president, Mort—I will ask you now.  Do you give the president of the United States credit for bringing about this circumstance? 

(CROSSTALK)

ZUCKERMAN:  Yes.

I have supported the war and I‘ve supported the efforts in the war.  Since I am accustomed in many parts of my life to making decisions with imperfect information, with imperfect knowledge of the outcome, it doesn‘t bother me that it doesn‘t come out 100 percent.

The problem is if you focus entirely on every policy in terms of the inevitable flaws, you tend to undermine the policy.  And that is what has been going on.  I don‘t believe that I have done that.  I am not hesitant to criticize the administration in terms of the way they‘ve executed this policy, but the fundamental strategy of the president in Iraq is something that I have supported in editorial after editorial.  And I will still continue to support it. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s get predictions.  Let‘s get predictions. 

Mort, start with you.  Talk about percentage turnout.  Is it going to be positive on Sunday? 

ZUCKERMAN:  Oh, yes.  I think the Shiites and the Kurds will vote in big numbers.  How many of the Sunnis vote, I don‘t know, but there are several major Sunni tribes that support this. 

Now, it is true they are going to be intimidated by the violence.  You know, it is interesting to me that we write more—even our military there, we fail to describe how so many of these military are really heroes.  We always describe them somehow or other as the victims of failed policies, and they shouldn‘t be there.  It‘s really unfair.  We are really doing an amazing job there. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It is so unfair.  We really are. 

Cheri Jacobus, make a prediction.  Are we going to go over the 50 percent mark in voting on Sunday? 

JACOBUS:  I think we will. 

Some polls show as high as 72 percent of the people plan on voting.  This is in spite of al Qaeda death threats.  And I think that—I think the numbers will be good.  And had it been Bill Clinton or a Democratic president who had launched this effort and was leading this effort, they would be throwing parades in his honor.  And it‘s just too darn bad that President Bush is not getting the credit he deserves for this. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Jack Burkman, we‘re out of time, but give me a number. 

What‘s the percentage turnout?

BURKMAN:  I think it‘s going to be a little less.  It‘s a work in progress.  I think the radicals are going to shoot everything they have...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Give me number. 

BURKMAN:  About 50, Joe.   But it‘s an improving situation. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right. 

Thank you so much, Jack Burkman.

I say 55 percent. 

Mort Zuckerman, Cheri Jacobus, Jack Burkman, greatly appreciate you being here. 

Now, coming up, I have got issues with the worst brides of 2004.  You probably know who is on the list, but I doubt you will guess who tops it. 

Stick around.  That‘s coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, welcome to the show.  I‘m Joe.  And I‘ve got issues. 

Now, it turns out I wasn‘t the only person who had issues with Janet Jackson‘s wardrobe malfunction at last year‘s Super Bowl.  The king of beers, Budweiser, decided to mock the event during this year‘s Super Bowl.  But after having second thoughts about taking heat from the inconsistent at best FCC, Bud decided to post the ad on their Web site.  As a public service, we bring it to you now. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I know that it‘s five minutes to the show. 

Fine.  I am on my way. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That ends the first half.  Stay tuned for what is sure to be an unforgettable halftime show. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Fresh, smooth, real.  Bud Light. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Nice.  So that‘s what happened, the story behind the story. 

Well, Women‘s Entertainment Network just announced their list of the worst brides of 2004.  Topping the bridezilla list, of course, Star Jones-Reynolds.  Now, Star made headlines in November for her over-the-top tacky Manhattan wedding, almost all of which she got for free by pushing wedding suppliers on her show and in magazine interviews. 

Hot on Star‘s heels was 2004‘s two-time Britney Spears, a real stand-up girl for the girls at home.  And she, of course, followed an annulled Vegas marriage with a second wedding to Kevin Federline.  That ceremony featuring the bride in classy lace mini-dress and bridesmaids in matching track suits.  And, of course, there were chicken wings to snack on. 

And rounding out the top three was the thrice married Jennifer Lopez.  It remains to be seen if Jenny from the block can make it the last trip or whether we are going to have a fourth trip down the aisle this year. 

And I have got issues with drinking water in Colorado, particularly at the University of Colorado.  Now, as you will remember, last year, the school was rocked by a sports scandal when coaches used strippers to recruit athletes.  But now the director of the school‘s ethnic studies program says that the 2,977 people massacred on September 11 were not innocent victims.  He went on to say that those at the World Trade Center should be considered not civilians, not innocent victims, but all people that deserved it. 

Professor Ward Churchill compared them to—and I kid you not—

Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi war criminal who carried out Hitler‘s plan to exterminate Jews in World War II.  Why is this guy teaching any student anywhere and getting paid with your tax dollars?  I‘ll tell you what, it‘s a disgrace. 

With me now to talk about this article and the professor is Mary Fetchet.  She is of Voices of 9/11.  Her son Brad was just 24 when he was killed on September 11. 

Mary, thanks for being here. 

I got to ask you, what—how does it hit you that a professor that our tax dollars go to pay his salary is comparing your 24-year-old son to a Nazi that was in charge of exterminating six million Jews? 

MARY FETCHET, VOICES OF SEPTEMBER 11TH:  Well, I think his statement is, No. 1, outrageous, but it‘s also very counterproductive to healing that our families, the process that we really need to go through. 

And beyond his statement, we were very upset to find out that this individual is going to be speaking at an engagement at Hamilton College.  I received a—actually a phone call from a friend of mine whose son attends Hamilton College who lost her husband on September 11.  So, we are very concerned that Hamilton College is having someone like Mr. Churchill, because of his outrageous statements, participate on a panel.  I just think it‘s counterproductive. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, let‘s look at some of the quotes from this essay. 

This is what he says: “As for those in the World Trade Center, well, really, let‘s get a grip here, shall we?  True enough, they were civilians of a sort of, but innocent?  Give me a break.”

Mary, again, how does that impact people that are going through, still going through the healing process three years later that a professor at a public college is, again, attacking your son and the others as somehow deserving this fate? 

FETCHET:  Well, my background is mental health.  I worked in an outpatient mental health clinic before I son died, so I recognize the long-term issues that our families are going to have.  And I am very concerned about it. 

We began Voices of September 11 to provide mental health services toward not just our families, but all the people that have been impacted.  So, I think that it‘s a long process.  We are constantly barraged with visuals.  And very few individuals, truthfully, like Mr. Churchill are making these outrageous statements.

But, nevertheless, you know, I am very concerned about it.  I am particularly concerned that not just that he is making these statements, but, as I said, that Hamilton College would be giving him a platform and disregarding the needs of their own individuals that are attending the school. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  It‘s unbelievable.  Mary Fetchet, thanks so much for being with us. 

And I will tell you what.  Right after the break, we are going to be telling you some more outrageous things this professor said and what you can do to make a difference. 

That‘s when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Tomorrow night, we are going to be talking to a top Republican insider that says the president needs to get more liberal.  I have got issues with that tomorrow night.

But there‘s more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, here are some of the professor‘s other radical assertions about 9/11. 

He said: “The hijackers who crashed the jets into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11 were combat teams, not terrorists.  And the people killed inside the Pentagon were military targets.”

Now, you can e-mail the president of University of Colorado, Betsy Hoffman, at president@cu.edu and have your voice heard.  I don‘t care if this guy has tenure.  He should be fired.  That‘s not academic freedom.  That is just absolute garbage. 

We‘ll see you tomorrow night in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

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

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2005 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2005 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,