Guests: A.B. Stoddard, Cliff May, Mark McKinnon, Ed Schultz, Howard Fineman, Al Sharpton, Bill Press, Clarence Page, Vivian Stringer, Bo Dietl
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: All charges have been dropped against the three defendants in the Duke lacrosse case. Just hours ago, the attorney general of North Carolina went so far as to proclaim those three men, quote, “innocent.” In other words, the whole thing, the whole awful thing was a hoax, a travesty, a made up story pushed by a rogue prosecutor, likely for crass political reasons.
We‘ve been saying as much on this show for more than a year, and today, finally, vindication for everyone. More details on that in just a moment.
But first, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced this afternoon that the tours of duty for all active-duty U.S. Army personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan will be extended by three months, from 12 months to 15. The move likely a blow to Army servicemen and their families—or some of them, anyway—is a residual effect of fighting two wars at once and of the current surge in U.S. troop levels. Here is some of Secretary Gates‘ news conference today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Effective immediately, active Army units now in the Central Command area of responsibility and those headed there will deploy for not more than 15 months, and will return home to home station for not less than 12 months.
What this recognizes, though, is that our forces are stretched. There‘s no question about that. And it is an attempt above all to provide, instead of dribbling out these notifications to units sort of just in time when they‘re to deploy, what we‘re trying to do here is provide some long-term predictability for the soldiers and their families.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Here to analyze the announcement of extended tours for U.S. soldiers and its political and practical meanings, we welcome associate editor of “The Hill,” A.B. Stoddard, and president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Cliff May. Welcome to you both.
Cliff, you hear this and the first thing you‘ve got to think is, gee, how would you like to be one of those guys? Or married to one? I mean, in a way—and I‘m not suggesting this is a bad idea militarily—but it‘s kind of a tragedy in a personal way.
CLIFF MAY, PRESIDENT, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: Look, it is never an easy thing to be part of the military. It requires incredible sacrifices even in peace time. The fact of the matter is, we‘re in war time, and we‘re in a very different kind of war than we‘ve been in in the past. This is what‘s called fourth-generation warfare, which in the simplest terms means it‘s different from what we had in World War II or the first world war or other wars.
We have to learn to adapt to this kind of fighting. And I think Secretary Gates is attempting to do that.
CARLSON: Well, it does suggest—I mean, it doesn‘t suggest; it screams the military is not big enough to prosecute two conflicts at once, doesn‘t it? I mean, are you going to see—you saw Mitt Romney come out and say we need 100,000 new troops. I mean, are there going to be active members of Congress making the same case, do you think?
A.B. STODDARD, THE HILL: This is sad and it‘s really scary. There was testimony before the Senate today about how we‘re not prepared, we‘re not ready for homeland emergency here, because of how much we‘ve stretched our forces.
STODDARD: This is going to resurrect the readiness argument on Capitol Hill. It‘s going to make it even more complicated to get through this veto standoff that they‘re in on war funding, complicated on many sides. I think that it‘s going to be—I think this is a huge problem for the president with the surge and people waiting out—politically speaking, waiting out the surge. I think it‘s really going to complicate things on both sides.
MAY: Let me just—let me just address your question, and that is, yes, we need a larger military. There had been a hope that we could have a very small military, but a very high-tech military. Fourth-generation warfare. What we‘re experiencing in Afghanistan and in Iraq is labor-intensive. We have to adapt to the kind of wars our enemies want to fight...
CARLSON: Well, this is not a new idea, though. I mean, that‘s kind of the bottom line question, is so we‘ve been in Afghanistan for five years, more than, in Iraq for more than four. All during that time, Iran has been building nuclear weapons and so has North Korea. All these threats are obvious, some of them imminent. You‘ve had Republicans in charge of everything, the friends of the military. Where the hell have they been? Why didn‘t the Congress appropriate enough money to enlarge the military?
MAY: Congress should have. But one thing that even in Iraq that you can see is we had an erroneous strategy, a strategy that tried to rely much too much on high technology...
MAY: ... and not enough on what we know about counterinsurgency. Again, the book on counterinsurgency, written by David Petraeus. General Petraeus is now the commander in Iraq, trying to implement that strategy. That strategy takes a lot of boots on the ground, not just satellites in the sky.
CARLSON: So how are Democrats going to react to this? This just happened today.
STODDARD: They‘re going to—like I said, I think the proposal that Jack Murtha was pushing, chairman of the Defense Appropriations Committee, was that dollars would not be secured for the surge unless the administration could certify certain levels of readiness. And that argument is going to resume. I mean, the standards now...
CARLSON: And those standards included time outside the combat zone.
STODDARD: Right. Enough rest, enough equipment. Enough training. I mean, everything—the problem is now, the whispers are that if the Democrats can‘t mount enough votes to override a veto—and they can‘t—then what do they do? Do they just give the funding that the president asks for in this so-called clean bill? But you‘re never going to see progressives go along with that. And so they‘re really already in a box anyway.
And then once they really have to deal with this readiness debate—and they will—it calls into question whether or not they should withhold funds. So it‘s very complicated for them to muster a majority and for them to fight what is a principled debate about...
CARLSON: But what do you—I mean, Cliff, quickly, if something totally unexpected were to happen—China moves against Taiwan, Venezuela moves against one of its neighbors—something that we‘re not thinking about, in public anyway right now, do we have the troops to respond?
MAY: Probably not. And that‘s why this should be part of the debate for the campaign going forward. What kind of military do we need to have for the 21st century? A military that is elegantly designed to fight the Soviet Union in tank battles in Eastern Europe probably isn‘t the correct configuration for the 21st century.
CARLSON: Rumsfeld, for all his problems, was always making that case.
MAY: Yes, but he also wanted a very high-tech, light military without a lot of boots on the ground. He was not a great proponent of counterinsurgency the way Petraeus is doing it, and it looks like we absolutely need to do that kind of—we‘ll find out if that works. But if that doesn‘t, nothing does, and we‘re not good at fourth-generation warfare, and that means a lot in this century.
CARLSON: Barack Obama left his position above it all to take a shot at John McCain. What did he say? And how did Obama‘s shot play with his anti-war audience? We‘ll tell you.
And Don Imus‘ situation appears to be getting worse, if you can imagine. First, sponsors begin to pull ads from his show. Now a key corporate official calls for his firing. Latest developments in the I-mess ahead. This is MSNBC, America‘s most impressive news network.
CARLSON: In general, organizational problems are best solved with better management, not more management. With the mismanagement of the Iraq war all but conceded, even by the war‘s proponents, there was a remarkable report in today‘s “Washington Post” indicated that President Bush has actively sought the appointment of a so-called war czar to oversee military operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan. According to “The Post” story, three top U.S. generals have already turned down that post. The White House disputed the term “czar”—we never used it, they said—but they didn‘t dispute much else in the story.
Back again, associated editor of “The Hill,” A.B. Stoddard, and president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Cliff May. Welcome back.
Cliff, isn‘t the president the war czar?
MAY: Yes, of course he is. But he may need a good deputy to coordinate. Also, the national security adviser is also the czar of all this sort of stuff.
MAY: But look, one of the hardest subjects you can have is the management of bureaucratic organizations. Think of FEMA, think of Homeland Security, think of any bureaucracy here in Washington. How you get your hands around it and coordinate it, and get people to do what you want, very difficult to do. In a way, we‘re talking about the same subject we were talking about in the last segment—how do you manage a war that lasts for a long time, a fourth-generation war, a different kind of war. And we‘ve had a big problem with having the Department of Defense communicate with the Department of State, communicating with the National Security administration—all of this has been difficult. So I guess he‘s looking for a very smart deputy on these issues.
CARLSON: I see a pattern here, by the way. I mean, for a supposedly conservative administration, their first impulse always seems to be, let‘s add another layer of bureaucracy. 9/11 happened, we need a—you know, we need a whole new federal agency.
STODDARD: Czars are big.
CARLSON: Czars are big. I‘m kind of anti-czar...
STODDARD: I want to just, you know, give him the benefit of the doubt here. Maybe this behemoth of overseeing two operations simultaneously which spreads across the Pentagon and the State Department is something that requires—a task that requires a czar, and it would have been a good idea in 2003 or ‘04.
It seems so eleventh hour. I mean, we all know at this table that for retired General Sheehan to say they don‘t know where the hell they‘re going on the record is a really—this is an embarrassment.
CARLSON: Let‘s put that up there. General John Sheehan, retired,
according to “The Post”—according to him, actually—one of the people
who was felt out about this job, and he said this. Quote: “The very
fundamental issue is they don‘t know where the hell they‘re going.” You
quoted him correctly. “So rather than go over there, develop an ulcer and
eventually leave, I said, ‘no, thanks.‘”
MAY: It is bad. And one thing is, it‘s sort of an admission that we haven‘t had a good structure up to now, but at least it‘s an admission that we haven‘t and we have to get one. Now, you have to have the right person. People don‘t know, General David Petraeus is the commander in Iraq. He was offered that. He did not have to take that position. He was told, take this position if you think you can do it and you want to do it. Whoever takes this job also shouldn‘t be just somebody who takes the place and sits there for a year because it‘s nice in the resume, because this is going to be one of the hardest jobs you can imagine, overseeing both these efforts.
CARLSON: Well, where‘s the bottleneck? I mean, where‘s the problem? The structure we‘ve had in place has been in place through quite a few wars throughout our history. I mean, it sort of has worked. So what‘s the problem now? Why does the command structure as we currently understand it not working?
STODDARD: I think...
STODDARD: Maybe the Iraq war is not working.
STODDARD: But I think that the—this is beyond me. I mean, this is inside the administration. I don‘t understand all these bureaucracies. But the way they explain it, someone who‘s able, with enough stature and confidence, needs to come over and oversee the chain of command, that it‘s become muddied and someone needs to take responsibility for dividing up the tasks between the civilian and military efforts.
MAY: Let me put it this way: In the old days...
CARLSON: But wait, isn‘t Bush the decider? I mean, I‘m sorry to keep making the obvious point...
CARLSON: ... here and being mean, but I don‘t know. This just...
MAY: Yes, but there‘s a down-in-the-weeds aspect of this that perhaps the president shouldn‘t be doing, that he should be giving them—think of how Reagan would have handled this. And the difficulty is this: In older wars, you‘d say take this hill, take this city, take this airport.
MAY: Now what are you saying? Create a political atmosphere through security that allows the Shia and the Sunni to come together and have...
MAY: This is a very different kind of thing we‘re trying to do here.
CARLSON: But maybe the problem—maybe the problem is the objective. See, that was my problem with the Iraq war from day one is I never understood what the justification was, because they couldn‘t boil it down into four sentences for me, which either meant they were hiding something or didn‘t understand it themselves.
If there‘s a clear objective, it‘s easier to get there, isn‘t it?
MAY: Absolutely. The clearer and simpler the objective, absolutely.
But what‘s the objective right now? We know right now that we have General Petraeus and the so-called surge. What are they trying to do? Secure Baghdad and fight al Qaeda in Anbar province. That‘s the basic thing. What are you going to achieve through that? You hope that by creating a secure Baghdad, the various political factions can say, wow, either we get this together or we‘re going to be overrun by al Qaeda, the Iranians and the Baathist insurgents.
That‘s what you‘re doing. Opening a window. It is true when people say it‘s not only a military aim, but you have to have the military aim to create the political atmosphere that allows us to evolve.
CARLSON: John McCain gives the biggest political speech of his political life and puts more of his eggs into the Iraq war basket. Is this a disastrous message for his presidential chances? And did anyone hear it anyway?
And Don Imus still has his job, but he faces a jittery sponsor or two, and a displeased board member of one of the companies that employs him. Can he survive? Latest developments coming up. This is MSNBC.
CARLSON: Today marks maybe the biggest political speech of John McCain‘s political future. As the country calls for an end to the Iraq war, Senator McCain today renewed his call for its continuation. His speech at the Virginia Military Institute capped a four-day media blitz intended to reenergize his bid for the presidency. Again today, McCain put all his political eggs in a basket of the Iraq war. That‘s a seemingly perilous strategy, but there it is. Here‘s a part.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA: Now we confront a choice that‘s historically important as any we have faced in a long while. Will this nation‘s elected leaders make the politically hard but strategically vital decision to give General Petraeus our full support and do what is necessary to succeed in Iraq? Or will we decide to take advantage of the public‘s frustration, accept defeat, and hope that whatever the cost to our security, the politics of defeat will work out better for us than our opponents?
For my part, for my part, I would rather lose a campaign than a war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Here to explain the strategy, Mr. McCain‘s prospects, is McCain campaign adviser Mark McKinnon. He‘s coming to us from Harvard‘s Kennedy School of Government, where he is an adjunct lecturer.
Mark, thanks for coming on.
MARK MCKINNON, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Sure, Tucker. How are you?
CARLSON: I thought this was a really brave speech considering how unpopular some of the things he said are right now. I was confused by one thing, though.
I remember McCain a year, two years ago, three years ago even, going after the Bush administration on the following grounds. There are not enough troops in Iraq, he said, or in Afghanistan, for that matter, and it‘s not worth doing halfway. It‘s not worth keeping men there if we don‘t have enough to actually win. When did he change his view on how many troops we needed in Iraq?
MCKINNON: Well, when the latest Petraeus strategy evolved and we put in more troops. You know, Tucker...
CARLSON: But far fewer than he had called for before.
MCKINNON: Well, but this is more, and he believes in General Petraeus. He thinks Petraeus is the right guy at the right time with the right strategy.
You know, a leading journalist the other day, Tucker, asked Senator McCain, “When are you going to stop doing what you believe in and do what the American people want you to do?” As if the military strategy should be conducted “American Idol”-style.
Senator McCain believes, as does the president, that, when you commit to war, that you should do everything possible to succeed. So this is simply an opportunity to let the latest strategy, give it an opportunity to work. And we don‘t even have half the troops in there that are part of the latest strategy. They‘re not even there yet.
CARLSON: And to let Petraeus do what he‘s good at. McCain mentioned Petraeus a couple times in his speech, and I‘ve heard him do it the past couple of weeks, saying this is the guy, this man, Dave Petraeus, General Petraeus. Is that a lot of pressure to put on one man though to solve this war?
MCKINNON: It‘s a hell of a lot of pressure, but I think that there‘s a consensus that this is the right guy that can take that kind of pressure. I think there‘s a consensus view in the military and the political establishment that General Petraeus is really the right guy with the right strategy at the right time and that everybody wants to give him a chance to succeed, except for, of course, the Democrats that want early withdrawal.
And the thing about the early withdrawal scenario, Tucker, that bothers me is there hasn‘t been any real discussion or focus on what the consequences of that would be.
MCKINNON: And I think it‘s pretty clear that it would be similar to a Rwanda situation, only much worse.
CARLSON: Well, I think that‘s a fair point, and McCain made that point. He said people who favor this haven‘t even talked about what the consequences might be.
But then he also said this. I want to read you part of what you‘ve already heard. This is what John McCain said today at VMI. Quote, “Before I left for Iraq, I watched with regret as the House of Representatives voted to deny our troops the support necessary to carry out their new mission. Democratic leaders smiled and cheered as the last votes were counted. What were they celebrating, defeat, surrender? In Iraq, only our enemies were cheering.”
It kind of implies the Democrats are our enemies or on the side of our enemies. Do you think that‘s true?
MCKINNON: Well, I‘ll tell you what I do think is true, Tucker. And I think that there are people in this country that would rather embarrass the president than succeed in this conflict. I do believe that.
CARLSON: That‘s a pretty strong thing to say.
MCKINNON: Well, it‘s unfortunate and sad, but I think it‘s true.
CARLSON: Huh. Barack Obama today issued a statement questioning Mr. McCain‘s position on Iraq. Do you think he‘s one of those you just described?
MCKINNON: Well, actually, it‘s interesting, you know, Tucker, that Senator McCain pointed to Barack Obama‘s suggestion that, after the president vetoes this bill, Senator Obama said that we should send through a clean bill, and Senator McCain agrees with that, so there‘s actually consensus between Obama and McCain on that issue.
CARLSON: On that one narrow issue, and yet Obama said this today in a statement. Quote, “The idea that the situation in Iraq is improving because it only takes a full security detail of 100 soldiers, three Black Hawks, and two Apache gun ships to walk through the middle of a market in Baghdad is simply not credible or reflective of the facts on the ground.” Basically, you know, McCain doesn‘t know what the hell he‘s talking about, says Barack Obama.
MCKINNON: Well, McCain was over there. Senator Obama wasn‘t. Senator McCain has been in armed conflict, and Senator Obama hasn‘t. And I think that what Senator McCain was saying, which is true and the facts do support—there was a report on NPR yesterday, and ABC, and other news outlets that have been over there, there are signs of progress. They may be incremental, but there are signs of progress, and that‘s all that Senator McCain was saying.
CARLSON: Here‘s one point Obama made that strikes me as not necessarily crazy and actually sort of conservative. I‘m quoting him, “Letting the Iraqi government know that America will not be there forever is the best way to pressure the warring factions toward this political settlement.”
In other words, it‘s like welfare reform. If somebody thinks he‘s going to get a check forever, why should he work? If they think we‘re going to be there forever, why should they stop fighting each other?
MCKINNON: I don‘t think they think we‘re going to be there forever. I think that they clearly understand the consequences and the pressure, and they see what‘s happening in the United States, and the lack of public support, and they know that they‘ve got to get their act together as quickly as possible or they will lose that support more quickly than will allow success for the military strategy that we‘ve employed right now.
CARLSON: McCain says he‘d rather lose this election than lose the war. Which do you think is more likely to happen?
MCKINNON: Well, I hope that he wins the campaign and we win the war.
CARLSON: But this can‘t be a net political plus for you all, can it?
I mean, taking the position that most people disagree with...
CARLSON: We‘re interrupting this. We have breaking news. I have here a statement from NBC News President Steve Capus about the Don Imus program, which was, of course, enveloped in controversy late last week when he was publicly seen attacking the women‘s basketball team at Rutgers University.
Here is the statement from NBC News President Steve Capus. Quote, “Effective immediately, MSNBC will no longer simulcast the ‘Imus in the Morning‘ radio program. This decision comes as a result of an ongoing review process, which initially included the announcement of a suspension. This also takes into account many conversations with our own employees.”
“What matters to us most is that the men and women of NBC Universal have confidence in the values we have set for this company. This is the only decision that makes that possible.”
“Once again, we apologize to the women of the Rutgers basketball team and to our viewers. We deeply regret the pain this incident has caused.”
And so, to recap, the “Imus in the Morning” simulcast will no longer be seen on MSNBC, effective immediately. Imus has, in essence, been let go from his arrangement with MSNBC.
This comes on the heels of a day that has seen bad news after bad news piled upon Don Imus. Presidential candidate and senator from Illinois Barack Obama announced earlier today in an interview with ABC that he hopes that Don Imus would be fired. The FCC, Federal Communications, is looking into Don Imus and opening an investigation. And advertisers, from General Motors to a tea company that advertised on his show, to Ditech.com, one of the biggest advertisers in cable television, has also pulled out.
So Don Imus is off MSNBC effective immediately, according to NBC President Steve Capus.
We have on the phone now Howard Fineman of “Newsweek,” a frequent guest on Imus. Howard, are you there?
HOWARD FINEMAN, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, “NEWSWEEK”: Yes, I‘m here, Tucker.
CARLSON: Are you surprised by this? Was this inevitable?
FINEMAN: I‘m not surprised. I think you could sense it today during the day—and, of course, I‘m in the middle of it, as somebody who‘s been on the Imus show a lot—the pressure building, the intensity of it sort of almost a kind of physical force, if you will.
You had the advertisers, as you were just mentioning. You had Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate, who‘s been hanging back, I think because he wanted to be fair, he wanted to be careful, as he always is. And I think he didn‘t like the idea of, you know, being in the same party with, you know, the same movement necessarily with Jesse Jackson and Sharpton, for obvious reasons, I think, given his political strategy.
But with Obama saying he wanted him fired, I think that was very important in the political scene, just as the advertisers were in the economic one. And I think NBC made an inevitable decision and probably the right decision.
CARLSON: You had today, maybe inevitably, a number of reporters digging into past statements Don Imus had made. “The Washington Post” reported something that I didn‘t know, that, back in 1997, during a “60 Minutes” profile, he conceded using the n-word privately with his staff and, in fact, hiring one of his producers in order to tell racial jokes on the air.
You really got the sense that this digging was going to continue and, after all those years of saying nasty things about people, the evidence was going to start accumulating.
FINEMAN: Well, I think that that‘s one type of evidence. That‘s something off the record and off the air, which indicated or seemed to indicate sort of actual sort of racist thinking in his heart, if true.
Then you had all the other stuff he said on the air, which was suddenly being viewed in a different lens, because, if you didn‘t accept his premise that it‘s a comedy show and, therefore, he can say anything, the incident with Rutgers sort of broke that spell.
FINEMAN: And if you were going to analyze the Rutgers comments in a different light, then everything else he said on the air was going to be looked at in a different light. And it was an unsupportable situation.
CARLSON: It became apparent there was a pattern. If you could just hold on there for one second, Howard, we have the Reverend Al Sharpton on the line, joins us by what has been described as a crackly cell phone.
Rev, are you there? Al Sharpton, can you hear me?
We‘re going to go back to you, Howard. Howard, you were on Imus on Monday, really the day that—this incident took place last week, but it was Monday that the outrage really came to a boil on television and other radio shows. Was that a tough decision for you to go back on the show?
FINEMAN: Well, I had agreed several days earlier, really when I was on vacation, not really knowing what the heck was going on, I was committed to the show. I‘ve been on the show for eight years. Imus said he was going to give a full explanation and apology, and he‘d already made one apology and was going to make another one.
And I was undecided as to what I was going to say and how I was going to say it right up until the time I got on the air, Tucker. And I followed him right after he finished a kind of 20-minute tortured series of apologies.
And, you know, I said his remarks were a mistake. I quoted David Carr of “The New York Times” approvingly, to the effect that Imus had gone so far over the line that you couldn‘t see the line.
But, on a personal level, because I‘ve known him for a number of years, I think I was personally sympathetic, because the guy was obviously a tortured man who was watching his career go up in front of his eyes, and it looks like now that it has.
CARLSON: It does look that way. Howard, we‘ve got Reverend Al Sharpton on. Hold on for one second.
CARLSON: Mr. Sharpton, are you there?
THE REVEREND AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Yes, sir.
CARLSON: Now, you really, more than anybody, have been calling for Imus‘ firing. What‘s your response to the fact that he has been let go from MSNBC?
SHARPTON: Well, I think it‘s the right thing. Certainly, we have said all along that it is his use of the public airwaves that would be the thing that should be required.
I think that several things now that have come out that really refutes what he tried to say to all of us. And he tried to, in a very belligerent way, say to me, both when he appeared on my radio show and when we were both on the “Today” show, that he was a good guy, he had never done this, that he doesn‘t know why he said it. Well, we‘re now finding out that he, in discussions with his staff, have said that. That‘s the only relevance to this, is that it undermines what he tried to misrepresent at his own undertaking.
I think that what still remains the issue to me was his using the public airwaves as a host to do it, and I think MSNBC has done the right thing. Now, I would hope CBS, who I‘m (INAUDIBLE) to meet with tomorrow, will do the same thing.
And the issue here is not Don Imus‘ racism. The issue is the use of public airwaves, and I think that everyone in broadcasting and everyone in advertising must have that standard, for him, me, and anyone else.
I think we also have to have now a broad discussion on how the music industry allows this to be used. I don‘t think that we should stop at NBC, and I don‘t think we should stop at Imus. I think we really need to address how the public airwaves is used to denigrate women and desecrate people according to their race.
CARLSON: Well, MSNBC, of course, is a cable network, which doesn‘t use the public airwaves. So I don‘t think we fall under the scope of that. My impression, from reading Steve Capus‘ statement, is that he was let go as a matter of conscience and what he said is just not consistent with what MSNBC believes.
I wonder, is there anything he could have said? I listened to him on your radio show for all two hours of it, and he sucked up to you and groveled about as much as I‘ve ever seen a man grovel in public. Is there anything he could have said to have changed your mind?
SHARPTON: I think that what he could have said is that I misused the airwaves, and I made (INAUDIBLE) be held accountable for that, rather than try to mislead the public or these young ladies, and apparently NBC, that, in fact, he had not had a record of this. (INAUDIBLE) have shortcomings (INAUDIBLE) dealing with this (INAUDIBLE) accountability on the airwaves. He opened himself up to fair game by misrepresenting even private conversations, which frankly is his right to have. He created (INAUDIBLE) that undermined and obviously undid him at NBC, and (INAUDIBLE) follow suit.
CARLSON: Should Don Imus be allowed to have a broadcasting job ever again, in your view?
SHARPTON: I mean, I think it‘s too early to tell. I think that what he did is he misused his show, and I that he should have been fired from this show. In terms of whether he should be blacklisted long term, I think that‘s another discussion that involves legality and all of that.
But I think before one could ask for redemption or forgiveness, one has to first deal with what they did. He misused this show, and I think that that what has been answered by NBC. Let‘s now go to CBS and see their position, and then let‘s have a broader discussion on this with everyone, including the music industry.
CARLSON: Who are you meeting with at CBS tomorrow? And what are you going to say?
SHARPTON: (INAUDIBLE) meeting with some of the corporate leadership.
I have not finalized that, so I don‘t want to say at this point.
CARLSON: And what are you going to say to them when you do meet them?
SHARPTON: I‘m going to say to them, if NBC has said what they said, how can you take a (INAUDIBLE) position when we‘re talking about the very same show?
CARLSON: Don Imus‘ defenders, and there haven‘t been many, but there have been some, and they have said, look, you know, this kind of language is universal in rap music and nobody says anything about it.
SHARPTON: I didn‘t understand that.
CARLSON: What do you make of that?
SHARPTON: What did you say?
CARLSON: Don Imus‘ few defenders have made the point that this kind of language is common in rap music and nobody is bothered by it or very few people complain about it.
SHARPTON: Well, I‘m one of the people that have, including on this show that I‘m on now. I think there needs to be a discussion. I do not think you can compare someone who was the radio personality that had major anchormen and presidential candidates with someone doing a rap video.
I think both ought to be dealt with, but I thought it was a bogus way to try and defend Mr. Imus, by saying, “Others do it.” You‘ve got to remember (INAUDIBLE) campaign for president on Imus‘ show. No one does that on a rap video.
But I do think we must deal with the use of some elements of the rap industry that also has used (INAUDIBLE) to denigrate women. I‘m (INAUDIBLE) from that fight. I have tried to have that fight. And I hope that we can have that discussion now, because you will find that some of the same corporate interests that were subsidizing Imus subsidized some of the bad elements with rap.
CARLSON: Did you think, Mr. Sharpton, that Don Imus was sincere? I mean, you talked to him for more than two hours. You heard everything he had to say. Do you think he meant it?
SHARPTON: I don‘t know. Clearly, the record that‘s coming out now would lead one to question whether or not he could possibly have been sincere when clearly there‘s records that indicate (INAUDIBLE) but I don‘t know. I don‘t ever think this was about Imus‘ sincerity. It‘s about the use of the public airwaves.
CARLSON: The Reverend Al Sharpton, thanks a lot for joining us.
SHARPTON: Thank you.
CARLSON: We‘re going to go now to Ed Schultz, the radio show host.
Eddie, are you there?
ED SCHULTZ, “THE ED SCHULTZ SHOW”: Good to be on with you.
CARLSON: It is. Thank you. You and I talked yesterday about this, and you were saying that you hoped Imus would not be fired. Now that he has been, at least let go from MSNBC, what‘s your response?
SCHULTZ: Well, I didn‘t think it was a fire-able offense at the time, but these things have a way of snowballing and going downhill on you. And I did say on your program a couple of days ago that the free market was going to play out.
You can‘t lose advertisers, and you can‘t lose in the arena of public opinion day after day after day. And I‘m sure that MSNBC and the front office is saying it‘s beyond the point of diminishing returns. They don‘t condone what he said.
But I think Imus made a mistake by not taking action into his own hands and saying, “You know what? I‘m going to take myself off the air. I‘ve raised a lot of money. I‘m going to do good things for Rutgers. I‘m going to do restitution on my own.” He took no actions.
He kept going on the air, and kept apologizing, and kept trying to build this consensus of people coming out saying he‘d done good things and good deeds, instead of doing something himself. And it just started to snowball on him, and he just couldn‘t keep it going.
And I think the free market has played out. If you and I don‘t have an audience, if we can‘t sell advertising, if public opinion goes against what we do in broadcasting, then these kinds of things are going to play out.
Imus had a week. He had a full week to take it upon himself to go beyond saying that, “I‘m sorry.” He could have taken himself off the air. He could have done some special P.R. work. He could have had some personal meetings a lot sooner. I just don‘t think he was proactive enough after the mistake was made.
And what also I think is troubling is that there were four voices that were on the air when this incident took place. We have publicly heard nothing from the other three people, as if Imus is out there protecting these guys.
And you can apologize. And I thought he was sincere. But he should have recognized that this was much bigger than just an apology on the air day after day, and now I think he‘s going to pay a price for it, at least on MSNBC he will.
CARLSON: Well, you‘re in the same business. Tell me this. I got the sense watching this unfold, to go from a flap to a scandal and then this, that there was a very small reservoir of goodwill that he‘d built up over 30 years in radio. You saw people who were on his show who, in many cases, benefit economically from going on the show—not all, but some—come out and kind of defend him.
But you didn‘t see lifelong friends in the media stand up and say, “You know, I know Don Imus. He‘s a good guy, you know, has a pure heart, doesn‘t mean this, isn‘t a bigot.” You really didn‘t see that, and I wonder why.
SCHULTZ: Well, you know what, Tucker? We all have to stand on our own merits as to who we are. And we‘re all fighting for an audience, and we‘re all trying to gain credibility with the American public. And as soon as you put yourself and your audience and your loyal listeners or viewers on the line with a show like that, there are going to be people that are going to be making judgments on you and your actions no matter who you are.
And I don‘t care if you‘re in the United States Senate or the House or a bigwig as far as the media is concerned, what people think of you is the industry that you are in. And image is what it‘s all about. And it‘s true that Don Imus has built up all of this good will with people throughout the years and done some wonderful things.
But when those basketball players came out yesterday for over a full hour and had a press conference, there wasn‘t any goodwill that he had done with any of those players, and that was the real face of this entire ordeal and it played out in front of the American people on every network, and it was just too much to bear.
And I think that those players came out. I didn‘t know that there was a valedictorian. I didn‘t know there was a Girl Scout. I didn‘t know these were tremendous students. I found out a lot about the Rutgers basketball team yesterday because of a mistake that Don Imus made.
And I can tell you that none of those women or that program or that university deserved to get trashed the way they did by four employees in a 51-second piece of tape.
CARLSON: And can we be honest for a sec? I mean, it was not an aberration. I‘m not calling Don Imus a racist and I had never personally heard him say anything bigoted—racially bigoted before, but I had certainly heard him be savagely mean to people weaker than him many, many, many times, many times, really cruel to people he didn‘t know in ways that were personal and had to do with their appearances.
So, I mean, you know, this was not out of the blue. This is not an anomaly, really.
SCHULTZ: Well, it‘s not. But that‘s also, unfortunately, the attraction in the media sometimes. People turn into a personality like that to find out what they‘re going to say next. And people tune in to see how it‘s going to be responded to.
Unfortunately, Tucker, there are probably Americans out there who were watching that and listening to it that laughed at it. At the time they thought it was really funny and really didn‘t know what the impact of this was going to be. And after taking a step back and rethinking it, they‘re saying, wow, you know, this did go too far.
Hey, look, I‘m sure Don Imus is going to stand on his own two feet. He may end up getting another broadcast job. But I think for the integrity of the network, it was long overdue as these—as public opinion continued to swell up against him. And I thought that the final dagger was—and the final straw yesterday was the press conference by the Rutgers basketball program.
CARLSON: All right. Ed Schultz, thanks a lot, Ed. I appreciate it.
SCHULTZ: You bet.
CARLSON: We‘re joined now by Bill Press, host of “The Bill Press Show.”
Bill, are you there?
BILL PRESS, HOST, “THE BILL PRESS SHOW”: Hi, Tucker. I heard the news from you just half an hour ago or 20 minutes ago.
CARLSON: Does this—now you do a daily radio show, a long show. Does this change the way you think about the things that you say? I know you‘re not up there using bigoted language ever, but does it make you wonder where the line is?
PRESS: No, it really does. And let me tell you, I‘ve thought for a long time that Don Imus crossed the line over and over and over again. I would just pick up on a couple of things that you and Ed Schultz were talking about, Tucker.
Because I think you put your finger on it. There were not people to stand up and defend Don Imus from the beginning, and I think it‘s because he has made a career and a lifetime of insulting people. And he finally insulted the wrong group when he insulted the great women from Rutgers University.
But, you know, he routinely, as you point out, bullies people, just insults people on their physical characteristics or their race or their religion and has gotten away with it all of this time. But I think he built up a reservoir of ill will, and when he finally went over the line, there were a lot of people who were glad to see him fall.
CARLSON: Yes, I‘m almost never happy to see someone fired, but in this case, I have to concede, I‘m not weeping. Bill Press, thanks a lot.
PRESS: I do think, NBC, I have got to say, made the right decision, Tucker. And listen, the talk radio microphone is a powerful instrument and everybody who has got it, has to use it responsibly, and I think that‘s the lesson that Don Imus never learned.
CARLSON: Apparently. Bill, thanks.
PRESS: Thanks, Tucker.
CARLSON: We‘re joined by Clarence Page of The Chicago Tribune.
Clarence, are you there?
CLARENCE PAGE, THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE: I am, Tucker. How are you?
CARLSON: I‘m doing great. Now you are the one who famously asked him and got him to take an anti-bigotry pledge, made him repeat after you, and apparently it didn‘t take. How do you feel now that he has been booted from MSNBC?
PAGE: Well, (INAUDIBLE) for about six or seven years, although, quite frankly, he has had other infractions, if you will, in the interim time. But I have not been invited back on the show since I led him though that pledge back in 2000.
But well, I think it shows what one can expect when your employer decides you have embarrassed the company enough. This is a chance that any station or network takes when they deal with a shock jock or an edgy comedian.
Sometime they‘re going to slip off the edge and then you‘ve got to make a decision, is this somebody who‘s becoming more trouble than they‘re worth? Don Imus has been very profitable for NCB, and for GE, for CBS Radio and all, and so this is why he has been able to survive past controversies, as well as the fact that his show has been a gathering spot for the celebrated, the politically powerful, et cetera.
And so this is quite—this shows you just how serious this controversy has become.
CARLSON: Well, what about that point, Clarence, the politically powerful, the celebrated, that is the world you live in, you know every single person who goes on Imus, I would say.
PAGE: And you know them all, too, Tucker.
CARLSON: I have met some of them. I‘m wondering, here is a hypothetical question. Had he not been separated from MSNBC just less than an hour ago, do you think those people would have continued to come on his show?
PAGE: Well, we saw Cal Ripken had dropped out of a scheduled appearance. But, no, most of the journalists I have talked to who are regulars on this show decided they were still going to continue to be on it. The politicians have been a little more evasive, though, like Barack Obama and others.
John McCain at least said initially that he was still going to go on the show. But I think Don was getting to the point where he is like the country club that discriminates against women and minorities. As soon as somebody finds out that a politician belongs to that club, chances are they are going to quit in this day and age.
It‘s that same kind of a situation, I think. And so he had lost considerable stature. Just how much stature was hard to measure. But I think MSNBC‘s move certainly tells you something.
CARLSON: Is it—does it tell you that CBS will follow suit?
PAGE: I wouldn‘t be surprised, put it that way. But, you know, I think he was worth a lot more money to CBS and MSNBC, I would gather. MSNBC was the first to make the move the other day, you remember, when they moved to suspend him from their air for two weeks, and then CBS followed hours later. So it‘s possible we might see that same thing happen again.
I‘m sure they‘re thinking long and hard. But I heard Bruce Gordon, you know, the former NAACP president who is on CBS‘s board, today, he was asked about that, and he said if he personally were the owner of the network, Imus would have been gone already. But because he—you know, he is just one member of the board and there are a lot of other considerations.
So as a board and the rest of CBS management, they have got to take all of that into consideration in thinking about it. But that was a big blow, I thought, to Imus right there.
CARLSON: It was. And maybe not the last. Clarence Page, thanks a lot for joining us.
PAGE: Always a pleasure, Tucker. Thank you.
CARLSON: Thanks. We‘re joined now by Vivian Stringer, who is, of course, the coach of the Rutgers women‘s basketball team.
Coach, are you there?
VIVIAN STRINGER, COACH, RUTGERS WOMEN‘S BASKETBALL TEAM: Yes, I am.
How are you?
CARLSON: I‘m fine, thanks. How are you? And how do you respond to this?
STRINGER: Well, you know, I don‘t know what to say. I‘m amazed, stunned. And obviously, the viewers and the corporate sponsors have spoken out. That‘s the best way I can tell you. And I think that, as I said to you before, it was far more than the Rutgers women‘s basketball team.
We happen to have been the targets to which he threw his remarks. On
the other hand, I think that a lot of people felt and realized that it
could easily have been them and that it was an attack on our young people -
our young and innocent people who are trying to do good things.
And so I think that it probably shows, if anything, that America will take back America, you know? It‘s not green (ph), you know, it‘s about people, if anything. Am I elated? No. You are not ever happy to see anyone be hurt. I‘m sure that he has done a lot of good things. And so in the (INAUDIBLE) we have yet to personally meet with this gentleman, and we intend to do that, I suspect.
But on the other hand, I‘m so proud of the people, because the people have truly spoken.
CARLSON: So you feel like you‘ve stopped a bully?
STRINGER: Well, let me say, we stopped a person‘s remarks that are racist and sexist at its core, and it‘s not good for society, not good for the need for all of us to be treated as one and with dignity and respect. And I think that that‘s what it is.
I think that these young ladies demonstrated what it is and what it means to be a good person, and I think that‘s what we should all strive to do, and we should all strive to let young people be young people and adults truly to take a leadership position.
And I think that adults have spoken. That‘s clearly what it seems to me. Because if you notice, we did not call for his firing. We said that we wanted to talk to him. But I‘m happy to know that, you know, the consciences of America is demonstrated in what is done long before we even talk to him.
CARLSON: You said that you still plan to meet with Don Imus. Have you thought about what you‘re going to say with him?
STRINGER: Well, you know, that has been asked a number of times. You know, clearly we are going to understand. We want to know this man. You know, a lot of us have titles, but we want to know the man behind the conversation, as he needs to understand the young ladies behind the uniforms and representation of Rutgers.
You know, they are people. And I think that too often in society we forget that a person is a coach or that they are anything, a president of the university or the president of the United States, they‘re human beings first. And we‘ve lost that sense of moral decency.
And I‘m so proud of these young ladies, because I think that in their face and the things that they‘re trying to do, I think it has appealed to everyone. It crossed all lines because everyone has a mom. So what did he really say about women, you know? And certainly to African-Americans? What did he say about just the respect for the game itself? Did he speak of the game? He didn‘t even talk about, you know, the fact that these were athletes—striving athletes.
And so I think that we need to set limits. And maybe it is—not maybe, it is a time for all of us to reflect not just on Mr. Imus, but all of the people who have utterances that are destructive to our society. We need to not let it stop here. There needs to be lots of dialogue. There needs to be, you know, the idea that we‘re not going to allow people to say what they think anymore so much as, you know, we need to consider whose ears they go in and a how we‘re going to be as a society.
And the FCC obviously has to weigh in. And the record companies, you know, parents have to be adults and we have to teach our young people and put before them a lot more people of stature and credibility so that we can look forward to a future in a society that is a lot more caring about people in general.
CARLSON: For our viewers just tuning in, we are discussing breaking developments. Steve Capus, president of NBC News, issued the following statement within the hour: “Effective immediately,,” quote, “MSNBC will no longer simulcast the ‘Imus in the Morning‘ program. This decision comes as a result of the ongoing review process. It takes into account many conversations with our own employees. What matters to us most is that the men and women of NBC Universal have confidence in the values we have set for the company. This is the only decision that makes that possible.”
Coach stringer, why do you think your team was singled out for criticism? Of all the possible targets you could go after, if you are a radio show host, why your team?
STRINGER: Well, I don‘t know. I think that was—well, first of all, consider that we were playing for the national championship, our story was special and I think that captured the hearts of a lot of Americans because we were the team that was the least likely of any team to reach the national finals.
But we served as an example to so many young people in whatever professions, male or female, that it doesn‘t matter how you start, but how you finish. It was an example of perseverance in the fact that it was five freshmen and that our start of the season started off with losing to the number one most powerful team in the country, Duke, by 40.
But at the end, and that was what was key, this team went on to defeat Duke in North Carolina, and they were playing for the national championship. If that isn‘t a dream, doesn‘t that tell you why you should always persevere and work hard? Isn‘t that what you would have told your daughter or your son, you know? And isn‘t it—this is what it is all about, not giving up but work hard.
But in light of that, they come back to what should have been a celebrated occasion, but instead they come back and in less than 24 hours, you know, they‘re humiliated with the racist and sexist comments and the belittling of the game. Few people even realized it was Tennessee and Rutgers that was playing.
It was destructive in every sense of the way. And you know something, these young ladies are amateurs. They‘re not the professional athletes nor are they politicians or a religious leader. These were John Q. Public, it was me and you, it was the common Joe off the street, maybe not you, but me.
So I think that it touched all of us, whether it‘s a truck driver or, you know, the person that‘s bagging groceries in the store. We said, enough is enough is enough, and we realized that the power is within the people. We‘ve got to take back America. It‘s not about black or white. You know, it‘s not about male or female. The power that we continue to see is green.
And so is it OK if you have enough money to have—to hire that lawyer to get you off of it? Is it enough to do all those things? And I think that the people are sick and tired of this and we‘re tired of other people talking for us. And we didn‘t say anything, we just presented our story. We didn‘t ask for his resignation or anything. And as you know, we just told our story, and that—if people couldn‘t identify with that, what else could they identify with?
And I think that, you know, I‘m so proud of MSNBC and anyone else who is bold enough to stand up. Because too often and too long and for too long adults have not stood up for what is right. And then you wonder why we‘re out of control, why it seems that the young people are running the show and they don‘t need to. We just—if we would be more responsible and decide what is really right, I think that we would find ourselves all a much happier, you know, society.
CARLSON: OK. Coach Vivian Stringer, I agree with you. A lot of people were intimidated by Don Imus. Not you, apparently. Thanks for joining us.
STRINGER: No, not at all.
CARLSON: Coach, I appreciate it.
STRINGER: Thank you so much.
CARLSON: Thank you.
STRINGER: You‘re welcome.
CARLSON: We go now to Bo Dietl, a frequent guest on “Imus in the Morning.” If you have listened to it, you know.
Bo, are you there?
BO DIETL, FREQUENT IMUS GUEST: Yes, I‘m here.
CARLSON: What do you make of it?
DIETL: Well, you know, I want to start the conversation off with what Don said. If he meant—I have a daughter 17 years old that listens to all of this stupid music where these words come from, and if he meant that in any shape or form against those young hero women that won—that played for the championship, that‘s disgusting and I wouldn‘t be on the phone right now.
But there‘s another side of Don that I really feel as though what he said was said as a response, when Bernie spoke, and he didn‘t even think what he said. Because if he ever thought, he would have stopped.
Did you know when he was on the ranch two weeks ago—when he flew back to New York from the ranch, with the children on the ranch, he diverted his flight to Atlanta to pick up a 6-year-old little boy who had cancer in his eye, happened to be black, and he brought him back to New York City.
There‘s too many things that he has done good for this one ridiculous garbage comment that he made. He did—it was most disgusting thing. And do you hear this comment every day in elementary schools, in high schools, young men talking to women like that, talking to my daughter? Because it‘s accepted. It‘s accepted.
CARLSON: Yes. But wait a second, wait a second, Bo. Again.
DIETL: I‘m not condoning it.
CARLSON: No, I don‘t—and I don‘t think you are condoning it or excusing it. And I personally, as I have said, I have never heard him use a racist term ever. But I had heard him beat up on people weaker than him day in and day out. And squelch.
DIETL: He beat up on me, too. He beat up.
CARLSON: Yes, but.
DIETL: He beat up on me also. My point is.
CARLSON: He bullied his guests day after day, you don‘t think this is consistent with a pattern of behavior stretching back a long time?
DIETL: Well, he‘s entertaining to people. That is why they turn the guy on. But as far as what we hear all about today is this disgusting comment which no one can respect his comment as far as being acceptable in any shape, whether it‘s humor or not, whether you turn on Comedy Central and you listen to Chris Rock say it, or anybody, it is disgusting.
But the point is a man has given his life to helping people also. We should have had at least the consideration—MSNBC should have had the consideration to wait until he talked to these young ladies—to these hero young ladies, to their families, and see what he had to say and see what they said.
Because they‘re the ones that are victimized by it. Not Al Sharpton, not Jesse Jackson, not Obama. Who should have been affected were these hero young ladies, which I take my hat off. They made the national championship. God bless these young ladies over there in New Jersey.
And I‘ll tell you what, I would love to meet them and tell them what heroes I think they are. If you think any second.
CARLSON: Well, let me just be really clear, though, Bo, that it wasn‘t just—I mean, obviously, the people at whom this slur was directed were the players on the Rutgers basketball team, but they weren‘t the only ones who were offended. As far as I understand, Imus got canned from MSNBC because employees of NBC News internally, people we work with, were outraged by it.
And they‘re the ones who—not advertisers, but they‘re the ones who put pressure on the people making these decisions to make this decision.
DIETL: You know, it‘s a very not good thing for me to stick up for Don Imus. Everyone says, Bo, how can you stand by him? I stand by him because I have seen what he did with autism. I stand by him when I saw he changed (ph) $12,000 a year for families who got killed over in Iraq.
CARLSON: Well, what is he doing next? We you know him well. You are the only person I have ever met who actually knows—who seems to know him and like him personally.
DIETL: I was with him for two hours yesterday in his apartment.
CARLSON: So what next for Don Imus? I mean, this is all—this is less than an hour old, this news. But what do you suspect he‘s going to do from here?
DIETL: I don‘t know. He‘s beaten pretty bad. I mean, he cannot believe in his own mind that that came out of his own mouth. Because all I can say is he had done so much that things have to be considered. We‘re a nation of Christians and Jews and other people. I think we have what they call forgiveness.
Let‘s see, maybe we can turn this bad thing into something good. Because this is just the tip of the iceberg, the way people talk to young ladies around this country in school yards all the time. This is an accepted thing with the music that we listen to. Let‘s go the next step.
Let‘s use Imus as the catalyst to stop this garbage that brewing all over our youth, all over—my daughter is 17 years old, she tells me what they call her in the schoolyard. And this is an accepted thing.
Let‘s stop it. Let‘s use this as a.
CARLSON: I agree with that. Though I can honestly say, and I probably shouldn‘t say this, he was one of the most unpleasant people I have ever met in my entire life. So I‘m not surprised this happened.
DIETL: Well, you know what.
CARLSON: But let me just—very quickly, in the 30 seconds we have left, how was he yesterday? Did he recognize how serious this situation was getting?
DIETL: He recognized it completely. The man was diminished into the sense that he didn‘t know what to do or how many times or who to say I‘m sorry to. And I was against him going on Sharpton‘s show. But they advised him to do that. Why do I have talk to Al Sharpton for? Talk to these young girls.
CARLSON: Bo Dietl, we‘re out of time. Thanks a lot, Bo. I appreciate it.
DIETL: I will see you, Tucker. Bye-bye, Tucker.
CARLSON: “HARDBALL” is next. David Gregory is sitting in. See you tomorrow.
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