Guests: Katrina vanden Heuvel, Paul Rieckhoff, Michael Crowley, Bob Kohn, Tom O‘Neil, Lisa Landry
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Tonight, political rhetoric or hate speech?
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BILL MAHER, “REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER”: I have zero doubt that if Dick Cheney was not in power, people wouldn‘t be dying needlessly tomorrow.
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SCARBOROUGH: Conservative accuse Bill Maher of calling for Dick Cheney‘s assassination, but he didn‘t, and I should know. I was there. But I was not in Washington when Ann Coulter said this. And let me warn you, her comments will offend many people.
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ANN COULTER, COLUMNIST: I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards, but it turns out that you have to go into rehab if you use the word “faggot.”
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SCARBOROUGH: I can‘t tell you why she said that, but we will talk about and debate the war of words over Coulter, Maher and an increasingly shrill political divide.
From words to wounds, wounds that won‘t heal because of chaos from coast to coast in hospitals that are supposed to heal America‘s warriors. Now, today emotionally charged testimony from congressional investigators investigating and targeting shameful conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and across America.
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ANNETTE MCLEOD, WIFE OF CPL. WENDELL MCLEOD: The thing of the matter is, Mr. Harvey made a statement the other day that really bothers me. He said that he hoped “The Washington Post” was satisfied because they ruined careers. First let me come on record by saying I don‘t care about your career, as far as anybody that is in danger. That doesn‘t bother me. All I‘m trying to do is have my life, the life that I had and that I know. My life was ripped apart the day that my husband was injured. And then having to live through the mess that we lived through at Walter Reed has been worse than anything I‘ve ever sacrificed in my life.
STAFF SGT. JOHN DANIEL SHANNON, U.S. ARMY: I suffered a gunshot wound to the head from an AK-47 during a firefight with insurgent forces near Saddam‘s mosque. The result of that wound was primarily a traumatic brain injury and the loss of my left eye. Upon my discharge, hospital staff gave me a photocopied map of the installation and told me to go to the Malone House, where I would live while an outpatient. I was extremely disoriented and wandered around while looking for someone to direct me to the Malone House.
I want to leave this place. I‘ve seen so many soldiers get so frustrated with the process that they will sign anything presented to them just so they can get on with their lives.
SPC. JEREMY DUNCAN, U.S. ARMY: The conditions in the room, in my mind, were just—it was unforgivable for anybody to live. It wasn‘t fit for anybody to live in a room like that. I know most soldiers have—they‘re just coming out of recovery, have weaker immune systems. The black mold can do damage to people. The holes in the walls—I wouldn‘t live there, even if I had to. Just wasn‘t fit for anybody.
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SCARBOROUGH: Now, congressional chairmen tried to tie the scandal to George W. Bush and his pre-war planning for Iraq.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is just another horrific consequence of the terrible planning that went into our invasion of Iraq. Are we headed down the same path again with the president‘s surge?
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SCARBOROUGH: A Government Accounting Office report concluded that VA health care ignored veterans who needed urgent medical care the most for months, while providing them with substandard health care, concluding that our veterans who have served this country so well deserved better.
By the way, that report was issued 14 years ago, in 1993. So it seems that when it comes to taking care of our veterans, the men and women that go overseas to protect our freedoms, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
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MAJ. GEN. GEORGE WEIGHTMAN, U.S. ARMY, FORMER COMMANDER OF WALTER
REED: I‘d like just to apologize for not meeting their expectation not only in the care provided, but also in having so many bureaucratic processes that I promise we will do better.
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SCARBOROUGH: Yes, but will these apologies and calls for actions fade when our news cycle moves on to the next scandal? And how badly is this scandal going to hurt George W. Bush, his administration and the war efforts in Iraq?
Here now, Paul Rieckhoff, Iraq war veteran and executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. He‘s also the author of “Chasing Ghosts.” Also with us, Katrina vanden Heuvel. She‘s the editor and the publisher of “The Nation.” And we have MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.
Katrina, I start with a simple question that millions of Americans are asking tonight. How did this happen?
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, “THE NATION”: I think it‘s part of the Bush administration‘s pattern of lethal mismanagement, incompetence, nickel and diming the needy poor, outsourcing and privatizing, demeaning government services, believing government doesn‘t serve the common good.
But I also—there is a pattern between what we saw with Hurricane Katrina, what we saw with Iraq. But you know, at the end of the day, Joe, a belief (ph) with all these cries of this government about the administration about supporting the troops—supporting the troops means providing veterans who return with adequate health care, housing, access to mental health care.
And I think as we look at what we‘re witnessing, the human costs of this war with these veterans, it‘s important to understand that to protect the troops at this stage means to bring home those who are now embroiled in a civil war which will require a political resolution, to bring them home and to use the money—we‘re now looking at perhaps $500 billion at the end of 2007 spent on this Iraq war—use that money to provide adequate care for the veterans who are suffering traumatic brain injuries this country has never seen because of technology. So that is about protecting the troops.
And there is legislation to do just that, to give them the funds to bring them home and to provide the health care they need, which they‘re not getting at Walter Reed. And as you saw, Joe, it‘s not just Walter Reed, it is a systemic problem that is metastasizing around veterans health care.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, it is, but—I mean, but let me ask you this question, though. How can we be cutting the veterans health care budget, which some are suggesting we do, while we engage in a war that by some accounts could last another decade?
VANDEN HEUVEL: Well, Joe, I mean, there are estimates that this war could cost this country $2 trillion. We need now to understand how skewed our priorities have been that we cannot resolve this war militarily. We must now bring home our men and women before we loot our treasury and have no funds...
SCARBOROUGH: But we‘re not ready for them.
VANDEN HEUVEL: And it‘s not just the veterans who we must take care of. There‘s a report out today that, increasingly, the middle class in this country cannot afford health insurance. The unmet needs at home are being—there‘s no attention paid to them, while this administration cuts taxes for the very rich, guts our treasury and misleads us into a war.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, we‘ve heard this, and I—OK, Paul Rieckhoff, though, Katrina talks about bringing these troops home. But doesn‘t this prove that our VA system is incompetent to handle the medical tragedies of Iraq? And they can‘t even handle the war wounded that are coming home now.
PAUL RIECKHOFF, IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN VETERANS OF AMERICA: Yes, that‘s absolutely right, Joe. I mean, everybody‘s failed here. The president‘s failed. Congress has failed. The American people have failed. This shouldn‘t be a big secret that veterans are going to come home from war wounded. But the reality is that Walter Reed was not prepared to handle them. The conditions at Building 18 are absolutely abominable. This should be an outrage to everyone and a national embarrassment.
But it does extend beyond Walter Reed. We‘ve underfunded and underresourced the VA hospitals around this country throughout this war. So I think what we‘re seeing at Walter Reed really is just the tip of the iceberg. You‘ve got to remember, that falls under the Department of Defense and Secretary Gates. We haven‘t even gotten into localized VA hospitals, where our members around the country are really outraged and upset about. That‘s where we see an even more...
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, Paul...
RIECKHOFF: ... significant drop-off.
SCARBOROUGH: And Paul, they‘re firing a few people here and there. But let‘s face it, that‘s nothing. Isn‘t this, Paul, about the politicians? And it‘s not just politicians in the 21st century but politicians for decades who‘ve saluted our troops and they‘ve waved the flag as they‘ve headed off to war, but when those troops come home, they refuse to pay for broken bodies. They refuse to pay for health care. They promise health care for life for our military retirees, then they don‘t deliver it. I mean, isn‘t this part of a bigger problem that‘s been going on for a very long time?
RIECKHOFF: Unfortunately. it is. It really shows that we haven‘t learned some of the lessons of Vietnam and we haven‘t learned to ramp up our resource and really show our commitment to our nation‘s veterans. And we need this now more than ever. Recruiting numbers are stressed. Retention numbers are going to be stressed over time. We‘ve got an unpopular war, and we need to take care of the people who are in because...
SCARBOROUGH: And of course, Paul...
RIECKHOFF: This extends beyond Iraq.
SCARBOROUGH: You can speak to this, too. I mean, I saw this when I was talking about medical health care for our veterans, our military retirees, in Congress. This becomes a readiness issue because if the brothers and sisters of these troops that come home find out the federal government‘s lying to their big brothers and big sisters, or their moms and their dads, they‘re not going to want to join the military, either, and our recruiting numbers will dive in the future, right?
RIECKHOFF: No, that‘s absolutely right. And you‘ve also got to remember significant numbers of National Guardsmen and reservists are using VA health care in between deployments. So it‘s not just about people that we‘re going to bring in, it‘s about taking care of people we‘ve already got in the system.
I mean, this is really about priorities. Veterans issues have not been on this country‘s radar. Our group and others have been sounding the alarm for years, and nobody‘s been listening. People can say...
RIECKHOFF: People can say in Washington they didn‘t know, but there were GAO reports. There was congressional testimony. There were exposes by Salon and other magazines and newspapers. They knew, they just chose not to act or they just didn‘t care, one or the other.
SCARBOROUGH: Pat Buchanan, how damaging is this scandal to the Bush administration?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it‘s totally negative. There‘s no positive about it. I mean, that Building 18 was a disgrace. “The Washington Post” did a fine job of journalism exposing it.
But I will say this. Look, the American military, the U.S. Army does take care of its own on the battlefield when they‘re wounded, getting them first aid there, moving them quickly to a facility where operations can happen, moving them to Ramstein in Germany and bringing them home better than any military in all of history. The problem comes, apparently, when these fellows are out of immediate danger and they‘re moved out of the immediate care and someone else is moved in. Then they‘re gone to the Building 18s, and then they‘re gone into some of these veterans‘ hospitals and things. And then gradually, they‘re forgotten, Joe.
You know, Kipling had a phrase or had a quartet that went like this, “It‘s Tommy this and Tommy that and Tommy‘s such a bore, but ‘tis the savior of his country when the guns begin to roar.” And so we all admire and we‘re concerned about these fellows when they‘re brought home, but I‘m afraid that not only the government but a lot of people, after the wars are over, whether it‘s Vietnam, Korea, World War II, and those guys are moved out to the veterans‘ hospitals in their communities, you tend to forget them. And the whole society does.
SCARBOROUGH: They do. They forget these kids when they come home. They forget our war heroes when they come home. They forget the promises they made to veterans and military retirees. It‘s an absolute joke.
Now, Pat, I want to ask you about an “Army Times” report on Wednesday that Walter Reed patients have been barred from speaking to reporters and planned projects with CNN, Discovery and this network. And this is what a Pentagon spokesperson said. Quote, “It will be in most cases not appropriate to engage the media while Walter Reed‘s review takes place.”
Pat, don‘t you think that‘s a mistake, as a former White House spokesman?
BUCHANAN: Well, I think it probably is.
SCARBOROUGH: Or communication director.
BUCHANAN: Well, it‘s—look, every—but I will say this, certainly, but I—I mean, let me say this. As a communications director, Gates has handled this brilliantly. He‘s gotten out in front of it. He got rid of two heads of Walter Reed and a secretary of the Army within about three days.
But look, I can understand the Army, too. They want to protect the reputation. And they think, Look, we‘ve done a good job. We‘ve made some mistakes. And we don‘t want people—you guys, you‘re part of our team. You‘re part of our family. You don‘t want to go out telling these—hanging dirty linen out and things like that.
There are two forces working here. Neither of them is bad, but there‘s no doubt about it, but—I mean, a lot of military guys I can understand they don‘t want to see their Army sullied and smeared, in their judgment, by a couple of cases that were badly handled by authorities. Get rid of the bad eggs and move on. That‘s pretty much their attitude.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Well, but Joe, you know, this administration...
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on. I want to ask Paul Rieckhoff...
VANDEN HEUVEL: ... has tried to suppress...
SCARBOROUGH: ... what he thinks about—hold on. I need to ask Paul a question. Paul, what do you think about going to Iraq, being told that you‘re fighting for freedoms, one of those freedoms obviously the 1st Amendment, and then when you come home, you‘re told you can‘t speak to reporters at Walter Reed hospital?
RIECKHOFF: I think it‘s garbage.
SCARBOROUGH: Because the news may be bad to the Army.
RIECKHOFF: I think it‘s absolute garbage. And you know, we go halfway around the world to defend this country so we can have our 1st Amendment rights. And if that‘s happening, it‘s absolutely inappropriate. I know the Army is going to circle the wagons here and try to do damage control. That‘s natural.
But we really need to make veterans‘ issues a priority in this country. And recently, in the State of the Union address, the president didn‘t mention the word “veterans” once. He talks a lot about how he‘s sending people over to war, but doesn‘t at all talk about how he‘s going to take care of them when they come back.
The president‘s new budget actually proposes cuts to the VA for 2009, 2010. They‘re going to introduce co-pays and double prescription costs. They‘re actually cutting prosthetics research. I don‘t know how this can get by the American people, but it‘s absolutely unconscionable, and people around the country need to express outrage and say that this is not acceptable and put their foot down.
BUCHANAN: But listen, let me say...
SCARBOROUGH: Katrina, isn‘t...
VANDEN HEUVEL: I was going to say...
SCARBOROUGH: Katrina, isn‘t sunlight the best disinfectant here?
VANDEN HEUVEL: It is. And I would...
SCARBOROUGH: Open up the windows...
VANDEN HEUVEL: Absolutely.
SCARBOROUGH: ... and air the dirty linen.
VANDEN HEUVEL: But Joe, we have lived in these last few years with an administration which has tried to suppress the human costs of this war. How can—you know, we couldn‘t see the coffins returning. Now we see what is happening at Walter Reed and at Veterans Affairs hospitals around this country, thanks to, as Pat said, an enterprising—two enterprising reporters, Dana Priest and Anne Hull, of “The Washington Post,” who just sat in the hospital, talked to wives, slept on floors, and did the hard work of giving voice to those who haven‘t been heard for too long.
And by the way, complaints have been lodged with the directors of Walter Reed over these last three years. Where were they? And where was the Congress...
SCARBOROUGH: For a long time...
VANDEN HEUVEL: Where was the Congress...
SCARBOROUGH: ... and also, of course, Salon magazine...
VANDEN HEUVEL: ... which did no oversight? Did no oversight.
SCARBOROUGH: Salon.com was reporting about this for a long time.
We‘ve got to go. Katrina, Paul and Pat, thank you so much for being with us. This has been reported on for a long time. And I‘ll tell you what. Veterans have been overlooked and ignored for a long time. As Pat Buchanan said, when they‘re marching to war, everybody‘s cheering. When they come home, everybody seems to forget.
Now, later tonight, MSNBC‘s “Doc Bloc” takes a firsthand look at the wounded soldiers returning to the U.S. and the care they‘re receiving. That‘s “Coming Home” later tonight after SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
But up next here: Is Rudy Giuliani the only Republican who can win the White House in 2008? The stunning poll numbers, the stunning war of words within his own family and how the GOP and his son really feel about Rudy.
And later: Did Bill Maher really say that he was sorry Dick Cheney wasn‘t killed? I was there. I‘ll give you the real deal on the controversial comments coming up.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... to dream of a city that can be better than...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone wants to come to New York.
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SCARBOROUGH: It was a national joke, and it was turned into a “Saturday Night Live” spoof when Rudy Giuliani‘s son climbed all over the New York City mayor during his inaugural speech back in 1994. But his son‘s latest outburst was no laughing matter for “America‘s mayor.” Now 21-year-old Andrew Giuliani‘s speaking out. He‘s speaking about his father‘s divorce and their strained relationship. It‘s a personal distraction on an otherwise great day for Rudy.
A new poll from “Newsweek” showing Giuliani trouncing Senator John McCain and other Republicans among likely voters. The question tonight:
Why? What is going on in the Republican Party?
Michael Crowley‘s a senior editor with “The New Republic.” And still with us, former presidential candidate and MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.
Michael Crowley, what in the world is going on? These two were tied, and now Giuliani is just going so far ahead. Is it because of Giuliani‘s strengths or problems that John McCain is having?
MICHAEL CROWLEY, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”: I think it‘s kind of a perfect storm combination of the two, Joe. I mean, first of all, I‘ll say personally I really underestimated how much that 9/11 poise he showed would resonate with people. I mean...
SCARBOROUGH: Everybody did, didn‘t they, Michael.
CROWLEY: Obviously. I mean, I haven‘t been out on the trail with him, but I‘ve read a lot of stories about his campaign events and seen him on TV. And when he talks about that day, it just obviously really strikes a cord with people. You know, years later I‘m surprised that it really does still have that resonance.
At the same time, you know, McCain has just been a big bust. He just doesn‘t seem to be enjoying himself. That kind of fun-loving, trouble-making maverick streak he had back in 2000 is gone. His sense of humor seems to be gone. He looks kind of pallid and tired. And I think—you know, McCain used to be kind of the hot new thing, and I think now he looks a little bit maybe stale and like a retread, and Rudy is this fresh thing and he‘s got this great talking point. He‘s got this great aura of celebrity that he got on that terrible day.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Pat Buchanan, I may be one of the few conservative commentators that have come out and been very positive about John McCain. McCain is the one Republican that I‘ve seen consistently fighting to cut pork. And yet it seems that conservatives and Republicans in general are turning away from him right now. What‘s going on?
BUCHANAN: Well, it reminds me of that—as I‘ve told our friend, Chris Matthews, here a couple of months ago, Joe, it reminds me of that campaign slogan John Lindsay had in 1965, “He is fresh and they are tired.” It was a great slogan, and it hit perfectly. And that‘s what Giuliani has. He has freshness, whereas McCain does look tired. He‘s lost that aura that he had that the media gave him...
SCARBOROUGH: Why? Why is that?
BUCHANAN: A couple—two things...
SCARBOROUGH: This guy in 2000 was just the hottest thing in American politics. In fact, through 2005. What‘s going on?
BUCHANAN: Here‘s what‘s going on. He had the media behind him. The media, predominantly liberal, centrist liberal, wild about John McCain...
SCARBOROUGH: Well, I mean...
SCARBOROUGH: ... -also hated Bush, right? McCain was the anti-Bush.
BUCHANAN: He was the anti-Bush, but he also was—he was a fighter pilot. He‘s a POW, war hero, maverick. They were all behind him. And now McCain, to win the nomination, has moved to the Republican establishment. He‘s lost the media. The conservatives have never liked him. He doesn‘t like the conservatives. He‘s not having a good time. Romney has not caught on. And so what have you got? You got Rudy is fresh. He‘s brand-new. He‘s our Obama, so to speak. And that‘s why he‘s way out front. But I do believe this, Joe. I do believe that he...
SCARBOROUGH: Rudy is our Obama?
SCARBOROUGH: Rudy Giuliani was prosecuting the Mob when Barack Obama was in kindergarten!
BUCHANAN: What I‘m saying is, what we—that‘s all we got that‘s fresh on that side, Joe.
BUCHANAN: He‘s fresh, and Obama‘s fresh and new and different. But he‘s going to start down...
BUCHANAN: ... just like Obama is.
SCARBOROUGH: You know what? My 19-year-old son is fresh and new, but I don‘t want him to be president yet. Speaking of sons, Andrew Giuliani said this to ABC News. Let them put this in my campaign commercial. “I get my values from my mother. I have problems with my father. But that doesn‘t mean he won‘t be a good president.”
Michael Crowley, you talk about damming with faint praise. Maybe Rudy should have given this kid the microphone back in ‘94 and just let him have the stage.
CROWLEY: Yes, I know. Maybe he should have seen this coming. The kid wasn‘t being playful back then, he was, like, trying to stop him before it was too late, you know?
CROWLEY: I don‘t know what—what that was about. I mean, look, it‘s obviously kind of strange and kind of embarrassing. I guess I would say that it would be nice if in American politics we didn‘t have to delve into people‘s personal lives. Doesn‘t really mean that much to me, I suppose, personally.
SCARBOROUGH: What if Chelsea had said that, though, about Hillary Clinton?
CROWLEY: Well, people would be freaking out and talking about nothing else for the next week.
BUCHANAN: She would have probably said it about Bill.
CROWLEY: But you know...
SCARBOROUGH: About either of them.
CROWLEY: But Joe, I mean, I—you know, I guess, you know, leaving aside kind of trying to psychoanalyze his family, I guess the one sort of political analysis point you can make is that Rudy‘s big vulnerability—and this goes back to the poll we looked at at the top of the show. He‘s killing on 9/11 right now. There‘s a great headline in “The Onion,” I think, Rudy is running for president of 9/11. But his vulnerability is social issues, and this family stuff reminds people that there are some things social conservatives might not like about his social issues, his family‘s values, and that sort of thing.
BUCHANAN: Andrew‘s not the problem, the problem‘s going to be what—that‘s exactly what Michael‘s referring to, when they go to the rest of the stuff.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. And that‘s what we‘ll be looking at. Thank you so much, Michael Crowley. Thank you, Pat Buchanan.
It‘s still early in the campaign, though. We‘ve got a long way to go.
I would not count out John McCain.
Coming up here: Bill Maher under fire for saying we‘d be better off if Dick Cheney were dead? Did he say that? Well, his critics weren‘t there, but I was and I‘ll give you my take on those controversial comments coming up.
But first: Tyra Banks tries to find America‘s top model next in “Must See S.C..”
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, it‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” some video you‘ve got to see. First up: Should Tyra Banks narrow her search for America‘s next top model? Jimmy Kimmel thinks so.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is this outfit?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does it looks like?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can‘t see who was (ph) a model.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, look closer, Oprah.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How would you respond to getting a makeover and another hairdresser up in your hair?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don‘t get paid enough to be (DELETED).
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SCARBOROUGH: And finally, speaking of unlikely contestants, Jay Leno shows us some surprising candidates who applied to be the next anchor for “TODAY.”
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we are back with our final four, our anchor for “TODAY” finalist, you have a chance to vote for you favorite as they vie for a chance to share the anchor duties for a day.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello, “TODAY SHOW,” my name is Carol Koontz (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m Brad Cook (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I‘m Alyssa Wayne (ph), a 29-year-old mother of two.
KATIE COURIC, CBS ANCHOR: I‘m Katie Couric in New York.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: It just did not work out well over for her over there at the Tiffany network.
Coming up next, Bill Maher and Ann Coulter, no strangers to controversy, but did they both go too far with their latest attacks on Dick Cheney and John Edwards. I was there for Maher‘s controversial comments. I‘ll give you the real deal coming up next.
And later, Paul McCartney may think he is winning his nasty divorce case, but his bitter legal battle with Heather Mills may be just be heating up, as well as Heather on the dance floor.
SCARBOROUGH: No holds “Maher‘d.” Comedian Bill Maher being targeted tonight by conservative blogs for comments he made on the show about Vice President Dick Cheney. On the other end of the political spectrum, conservative commentator Ann Coulter is under fire for what she said at a conservative conference.
First, Coulter. Listen to what she said about Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards on Friday. And we want to warn you, you may find her language offensive.
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ANN COULTER, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out that you have to go into rehab if you use the word “faggot.”
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SCARBOROUGH: And a few hours later, I appeared on Bill Maher‘s HBO show and he kicked up some controversy with comments he made about Vice President Cheney. Take a look.
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BILL MAHER, HOST, “REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER”: What about the people who got on The Huffington Post, and they were—these weren‘t even the bloggers, these were just the comment section who said they were—they expressed regret that the attack on Dick Cheney failed.
MAHER: If this isn‘t China, shouldn‘t you be able to say that? Why did Arianna Huffington, my girlfriend—like, I love her, but why did she take that off right away?
SCARBOROUGH: If somebody on this panel said they wish that Dick Cheney had been blown up, and you didn‘t say anything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But then he did?
SCARBOROUGH: OK. Did you say.
MAHER: No, I quoted that.
MAHER: No, I am just saying that if he did die, other people—more people would live. That‘s a fact.
SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s put it this way then. If somebody came on here and said that they wished all abortion clinics had been blown up.
MAHER: Right, same.
SCARBOROUGH: . and you did not step forward and say, I disassociate myself with those remarks, and it just floats out there in the transcripts, then you are going to be connected with those words. Arianna Huffington has every right to say, I don‘t want to be associated with this hate language. I‘m going to take it down from my site so right-wing talk show hosts aren‘t going to try to wrap those words around me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can say it on your own.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Here now is Bob Kohn, he is the author of the book, “Journalistic Fraud,” and also MSNBC media analyst Steve Adubato.
Steve, let‘s start with you. Let‘s talk about—let‘s go with Ann Coulter first. What about Ann Coulter‘s comments?
STEVE ADUBATO, MSNBC MEDIA ANALYST: Disgraceful. She is an embarrassment. The fact that she gets this kind of attention, Joe, is exactly what a she wants. You remember, she is the same person, Joe, who said the 9/11 widows were glad to have had their husbands killed in the World Trade Center.
SCARBOROUGH: OK. But Ann Coulter is a smart person. She makes like, what, $3 million at least on every book she does? She knows what she is doing, right? This is calculated.
ADUBATO: It is calculated. There was no humor intended. And I‘ll tell you what else, Joe. She made it worse, because afterwards when she had a chance to apologize, she said, quote, you know, I really should not have compared gays to John Edwards because it is insulting to gays. She exacerbated the problem. She is disrespectful. She doesn‘t know the first thing about civil discourse. You can be entertaining and fun, she is just over the line and a disgrace.
SCARBOROUGH: Bob Kohn, Ann Coulter said it was a joke. Should everybody just lighten up?
BOB KOHN, AUTHOR, “JOURNALISTIC FRAUD”: You know, this juxtaposition between what Ann Coulter said and what Bill Maher is a perfect application of what Marshall.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, we will get to Bill Maher in a second. Let‘s talk Ann Coulter first.
KOHN: In either context, it is a perfect application of what Marshall McLuhan said about the media is the message. I mean, they are completely taking Ann Coulter out of context. She was making a joke. And if Steve had just seen or read the newspaper, other than The New York Times, he would see that a few weeks there was a guy, Isaiah Washington on the show “Grey‘s Anatomy,” had used the very same word that Ann Coulter was using, OK, and I won‘t say the word, and that guy had to go—he was asked to go to rehab.
SCARBOROUGH: But, Bob, why did she want to use that? I understand the joke.
KOHN: He had to go to rehab. And that‘s why.
SCARBOROUGH: I understand the “Grey‘s Anatomy” joke, but why should Ann Coulter get up there and use that term that is so offensive to so many Americans, whether they are straight or gay, why say that? Why do we need that in public discourse? She was not on HBO, she was at a conservative conference.
KOHN: OK. I am not going to defend that. But my point is.
ADUBATO: Why don‘t you disown it?
KOHN: . without bringing up the context.
ADUBATO: Why don‘t you disavow it?
KOHN: Without bringing up the context—I‘ll disavow it. I wouldn‘t use that word in public.
ADUBATO: Good, and by the way, don‘t tell me what I read, Bob. You have no idea, but go ahead.
KOHN: OK. I know, but obviously you didn‘t read the rest of the story, you didn‘t read the other stories that were out there. You didn‘t know the context, and you weren‘t willing to tell the—what the people—you just simply said, she was making some comment about the gay community.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, what context? I mean, what is the context?
KOHN: In the rest of the speech, if you watch it, she actually says she has nothing against gays, that she is not anti-gay. It‘s in the other part of her speech.
ADUBATO: Where is the place for that dialogue, Bob?
KOHN: OK. But no—but the point is, she is being taken out of context, OK? That is what happened. The New York Times.
ADUBATO: What a convenient excuse.
KOHN: . didn‘t bother to mention that she was referring to some other story, incident that happened a couple weeks ago about a guy in Hollywood, he used that word and was asked to go to rehab.
KOHN: I think that‘s important information to know the context.
That‘s all I am saying.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, maybe so, but, Bob, I mean, I don‘t understand how you take that type of slur out of context. If somebody uses the N-word in relating to another joke somehow, would you take that out of context?
KOHN: All right. I‘m not defending—look, I agree with you. It certainly was not the place to do it. It is certainly not the place to do it in public.
ADUBATO: Where is the place, Bob?
KOHN: Well, that word—the place is in a schoolyard. I mean, when I was in junior high school, we were using that word all of the time.
ADUBATO: No, there is no place for it, Bob.
KOHN: OK. Well, maybe in this day and age, there is no place for it.
I agree with you. I‘m not defending her.
ADUBATO: Yes, you are.
SCARBOROUGH: And I guess—and, no, no, no, hold on a second.
SCARBOROUGH: No, he‘s not saying that. Let me say this. Hold on, I want to stop, because, Bob, you know what, if I had a dollar for every time a guy called another guy that in a football locker room from seventh grade to a senior in high school, I would be a very rich man. I would own this network. The question, though, Steve Adubato, is why in the world do you take that type of language out of a seventh grade locker room with guys towel-snapping other guys—and I am not saying it‘s appropriate, I sure as heck wouldn‘t want my son saying it, but it happens every day, still happening.
ADUBATO: I will take a shot.
SCARBOROUGH: I mean, why would you use that that type of language at what is the most important conservative meeting of the year every single year? You know a lot of those people had to be disgusted by it.
ADUBATO: Well, here is my sense. Ann Coulter throws out the red meat
all the time, because she knows what will get media attention. She was not
in a school yard, and I‘m not going to argue what someone does privately,
she is a public person who said it and knew that it would be taken and put
out there, and we would be talking about it, and other people. It‘s
disgraceful. And she knew what would happen. And I can‘t believe that Bob
forget about defending her, I can‘t believe you are talking about context. There is no appropriate context in the public domain to use that language. Bob, then why don‘t you just say it and don‘t talk about Bill Maher.
KOHN: No, no, wait a minute.
ADUBATO: . because it has got nothing to do with it.
KOHN: She was making a valid point about freedom of speech, OK, that she is—about political correctness. She made a point that conservatives are making it. OK. She used—you know, maybe it was over the top.
KOHN: But that‘s the way that she is. That‘s the way she delivers her message. I wouldn‘t use it myself.
ADUBATO: And all reasonable people should condemn her.
KOHN: No, no, but she was making a good point. Like George Carlin would make the same point using other bad words during a comedic exercise.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, I guess I don‘t. understand what good point she was making.
KOHN: Well, she was saying that a guy in Hollywood, I think it was a black guy on “Grey‘s Anatomy” use that word and was asked to go to rehab. And she thinks that is ridiculous.
ADUBATO: OK. Which part is funny? But that‘s another story.
KOHN: I think it‘s terrible.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Let‘s move on to Bill Maher really quickly here. I wanted to—let‘s take a look at what some of the blogs have said about Bill Maher‘s comments today. The blog Newsbusters ran the headline, “Bill Maher Sorry the Assassination Attempt on Dick Cheney Failed,” and the conservative blog Right Voices has a headline “Bill Maher Sorry Dick Cheney Wasn‘t Assassinated.” That seems to be the buzz over and over again. But I was there, Bob Kohn, and that‘s not what Bill Maher said.
KOHN: You know, it‘s funny, it‘s—again, the medium is the message. If you read the transcript, that‘s exactly what he said. But if you watch the video, that is not what he meant to say. That was taken out of context by the conservative bloggers. There is no doubt about that. Completely out of context.
But remember the question that he asked? It was about someone making the point about that they wished that Cheney was assassinated on The Huffington Post. And Huffington took it off, and he was saying, what is wrong with that? What‘s wrong with saying—this is not China, he should be allowed to say it. He is making a First Amendment.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, he was talking about.
KOHN: Yes. He is making a freedom of speech argument. There is nothing wrong with his saying that, but it sounds like he did not mean to say it, but he wished he could say it, because that‘s what he was saying. He wished that he could say such things in public. He would have defended Ann Coulter on this show.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, the thing is, and I was there sitting next to him, and we had a discussion back and forth. In fact, at one point we played you the clip at the top, Steve, where Bill Maher said actually, no, no, no, I didn‘t say that, these people on The Huffington Post said.
ADUBATO: And I have to tell you, Joe, I was prepared to really blast
Bill Maher because if he became close to implying something like that, he
needs to be lambasted worse than Ann Coulter. The problem is, I watched
the clip before I came in, the whole thing, then I see it again here, then
I am saying to myself, how could those other folks who put those headlines
I am looking at a bunch of headlines that—foxnews.com says “TV Host Bill Maher Suggests Dick Cheney‘s Death Would‘ve Saved Lives,” and a whole bunch of other headlines like that, and I am thinking, do you intentionally put those headlines there when you know he did not mean it? That‘s irresponsible.
KOHN: The difference is—I agree with you completely, Steve, the difference is that Ann Coulter—I mean, Bill Maher was being criticized by conservative blogs. OK. And the coverage was in conservative blogs. When Ann Coulter said something, it is not liberal blogs or just liberal blogs, it is The New York Times. It‘s the mainstream media. The mainstream media was very quick to go after Ann Coulter and make this a big issue here. But you don‘t see that in the mainstream media.
SCARBOROUGH: And you know, Bob.
SCARBOROUGH: Bob, Bob, hold on a second. Bob, I have not sided with you the past couple of times you have been on, but I agree with you 100 percent, there is no doubt that things that Ann Coulter says are seized immediately by The New York Times and the mainstream media, whereas when you have people that are left-of-center, not—you know, and Bill Maher, I still haven‘t figured out if he is a libertarian, liberal, what he is, but people on the left side of the political discourse, when they say something that is offensive, a lot of times it just does not run at all.
But in this case, I think we all agree that Bill Maher is being miss characterized as someone who is calling for the a assassination of Dick Cheney.
KOHN: Agreed, and he wasn‘t.
SCARBOROUGH: That just did not happen. Bob and Steve, thanks for being with us.
And speaking of Dick Cheney, our thoughts and prayers are certainly with him tonight. For any of you that have known anybody that has got a blood clot—that has heart problems, that certainly is very dangerous. He has one in his leg. I say this, I know what I am talking about, a very close friend of ours has a blood clot in their leg, and we certainly keep them in our thoughts and prayers. My father has had problems with that too. Very serious situation and it seems to me that we all as Americans on the left and center and the right can certainly offer our prayers up to Dick Cheney and his family. Certainly hope that he has a speedy recovery.
Thanks so much for being with us, guys. Coming up next, the latest buzz on Britney in rehab. Is Justin Timberlake being forced to stay away? The full scoop on the troubled pop star‘s road to recovery ahead. Because we are going to “Hollyweird.”
But first up, Paul McCartney‘s “long and winding” divorce may finally be coming to an end. But will the former Beatle wind up the winner? Of course he will. We will have the very latest coming up next.
SCARBOROUGH: You know it‘s the nastiest divorce battle on either side of the Atlantic these days. Paul McCartney, my personal hero, versus Heather Mills, definitely not my personal hero. And as the ugly war of words moves from the tabloids to the courtroom, there are reports that things are going the former Beatle‘s way.
NBC‘s Dawna Friesen has the latest on how Paul‘s troubles could soon be far away.
DAWNA FRIESEN, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the bliss of marriage just five years ago, to a bitter divorce battle, Paul McCartney and Heather Mills have finally faced off in a preliminary hearing. After a closed-door session, he emerged to flash his signature peace sign, or was it a V for victory?
DENISE LESTER, DIVORCE ATTORNEY: It is an awful process for both of them. So the V sign may have been, look, I‘m holding up.
FRIESEN (on camera): But unnamed sources have told one tabloid McCartney believes he is winning the battle, that he has told friends, the judge loves me.
(voice-over): And that Heather was left shouting in rage as the McCartney legal team demolished her claims the former Beatle was a violent drunk.
LESTER: They would have trolled through footage, magazines, international media to see what she said, pre and post the divorce.
FRIESEN: At stake is a share of McCartney‘s massive fortune, estimated at as much as $1.6 billion. It has been reported Mills has already refused a $49 million settlement.
LESTER: Clearly this divorce has caused a lot of fury and anger and upset to Heather and indeed to both of them. It seems to be war. And it is continuing.
FRIESEN: Mills, who lost a leg in an accident, has said she would rather have all of her limbs cut off than go through another divorce like this. But Mills is known as a fighter. And this divorce battle could go all the way.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. All the way to “Dancing with the Stars.” I wonder if she is going to try to trash her spouse like a certain dancer did last season. We will see. That was NBC‘s Dawna Friesen reporting.
Coming up next, John Travolta says he wants his sexy back from Justin Timberlake. The latest “Hollyweird” smackdown coming up next.
Who scrawny punk (ph) like the arbiter of what is sexy? I wish I knew.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, tell the director you want it quiet on the set. My friend, it is time for “Hollyweird.” First up, Britney Spears. The poptart princess is still making headlines even in rehab. TMZ is reporting she is indulging in some online retail therapy. And The Daily Mirror reports her mom won‘t even let ex-boyfriend Justin Timberlake visit. Of course not, the guy is a wimp. Here now, comedian Lisa Landry and In Touch Weekly senior editor Tom O‘Neil.
Hey, Tom, what is going on with the poptart princess?
TOM O‘NEIL, IN TOUCH WEEKLY: Well, you know what a sweetie pie Justin is. He heard all of these distressing stories about Britney in there. Of course, recently the allegation where she tried to hang herself with a sheet. Now the tabloids are saying that she has been scratching “666” on her head, screaming, I am the antichrist. As if that‘s news.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, exactly.
O‘NEIL: But her mother says, no, no, no, stay away.
SCARBOROUGH: Britney, tell using something we don‘t know. Lisa, what is going on in there? I mean, it sounds like chaos in this rehab center.
LISA LANDRY, “COMEDY CENTRAL PRESENTS: LISA LANDRY”: Well, I think Britney is just resting up and doing some online shopping. You have got to think she needs wigs and panties.
SCARBOROUGH: She does need some panties. I mean, and speaking of somebody that—well, actually sometimes wears panties, Justin Timberlake wanting to go in to meet back up with Britney. What is that all about?
LANDRY: Well, I think he wants to get back in touch with her and be there for her to support her. But I don‘t think Lynne wants anything like that to happen. You know, Britney is trying to get back together with Kevin. And I guess Lynne is trying to make that happen.
SCARBOROUGH: I mean, I don‘t think it should. Tom O‘Neil, speaking of this guy who supposedly is bringing sexy back, John Travolta is telling MTV that Justin Timberlake stole his dance moves from “Saturday Night Fever,” what can you tell us about that?
O‘NEIL: Yes, isn‘t that something. This was an interview in which Travolta admits that he is stealing his dance moves from Tina Turner. And frankly, Tina wants them back. They are talking about the new movie “Hairspray” in which John Travolta plays drag. And in the course of all of this he said, well, by the way, Justin stole all of my moves.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. Well, you want to get in the middle of Travolta and Timberlake, Lisa?
LANDRY: Boys, you are both pretty. Everybody just settle down.
SCARBOROUGH: They are pretty boys. What does that mean? I mean, I don‘t understand. Can you explain to me why anybody would think that Justin Timberlake brought sexy back, but that he is sexy at all? He is just a skinny, scrawny kid from like Orlando, right?
LANDRY: Well, I think it is easy to say that John Travolta danced with Olivia Newton-John, and he danced with Uma Thurman. And Justin was in ‘N Sync and he was dancing with Lance Bass. So it is kind of no contest there as to who is sexier.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. I would take Travolta any time. Now Viacom boss Sumner Redstone—not that I think guys are sexy, mind you. Sumner Redstone is telling people what this guy is. Boy, I love Sumner, look that guy. Tells People magazine he wants to be friends with Tom Cruise again. My, my, my, Tom O‘Neil, what is going on here?
O‘NEIL: I think perhaps Alzheimer‘s is setting in here, or senility.
He claims he never fired Tom Cruise. He never intended that to happen. That was just an all big made-up media mess. Never mind not only did he do all of these things, he bragged about at the time and said that he was taking advice of his wife.
SCARBOROUGH: I was just going to say, Tom, didn‘t he say not only do I not like that crazy nut Tom Cruise, but my wife does not like him.
O‘NEIL: I don‘t know. But he has forgotten all of that. He is just taking it all back and says, oh, I want to be pals now.
SCARBOROUGH: Lisa, what is going on? Could it all be the bottom line?
LANDRY: Yes. I heard he was jumping on a couch, screaming how much he loved Tom Cruise. He got really emphatic and fell and broke a hip.
SCARBOROUGH: It could be. It could be. But we got go right now. Lisa Landry, thank you so much. Tom O‘Neil, as always I greatly appreciate you being here. And that‘s all the time we have for tonight in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. I‘ve got get home and jump on some couches. Hope I don‘t break my hip. We‘ll see you here tomorrow night in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. But up next, “Coming Home,” a look at how veterans and the families are being treated when they return to the United States, (INAUDIBLE) that is being done for them and what is not being done for them, including how they are fairing at Walter Reed Medical Center. That‘s all, good night.
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