Guests: Arianna Huffington, Michael Crowley, Bill Maher, Steve Adubato, John Ridley, Courtney Hazlett, Carmen Rasmusen, Willie Geist
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Tonight: Is religion the world‘s greatest evil? HBO‘s controversial Bill Maher is in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, taking on God and George Bush‘s government.
But first, the meltdown in Iraq continues, with today ending as the bloodiest day in that country in over a year, nine American soldiers killed in a suicide truck bombing east of Baghdad. Today, a group tied to al Qaeda admitted to launching the brazen ambush, raising the number of American troops killed in Iraq this month alone to 85.
And while more American troops were dying, top Democrats today hammered away at the commander-in-chief, demanding American troops start their withdrawal from Iraq by October 1 and questioning Mr. Bush‘s honesty and his judgment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. Harry Reid (D-NE), MAJORITY LEADER: Like it or not, George Bush is still the commander-in-chief, and this is his war. No more will Congress turn a blind eye to the Bush administration‘s incompetence and dishonesty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: As U.S. senator Hiram Johnson said 90 years ago, truth is often the first casualty of war. That was proven to be correct again today on Capitol Hill in a hearing when the family of former NFL star and fallen American hero Pat Tillman lashed out at the administration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARY TILLMAN, PAT TILLMAN‘S MOTHER: It may not be pretty. It may not be like out of a John Wayne movie. But that‘s not what war is all about. It‘s ugly, it‘s bloody, it‘s painful. And to write these glorious tales is really a disservice to the nation. And the nation needs to realize this is an ugly war. Everyone should be part of it. Everyone should understand what‘s going on, and we shouldn‘t be allowed to have smokescreens thrown in our face.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: The president‘s critics say the Tillman cover-up is just the latest in a long list of lies coming out of the White House, from WMDs to Jessica Lynch to “the last throes” of the insurgency. But even with today‘s dramatic testimony and one of the war‘s bloodiest days ever, President Bush continues supporting his surge and denying the existence of a civil war in Iraq. So will Congress finally force the president to change course in Iraq?
Here now to talk about it, Arianna Huffington—she‘s the founder of the Huffingtonpost.com—Michael Crowley—he‘s senior editor for “The New Republic”—and two-time presidential contender and former White House communication director Pat Buchanan.
Arianna, I start with you. The Huffingtonpost carried this story today of how a member of the Army was told to lie about Pat Tillman‘s death. Is this the latest example of what that senator said 90 years ago, that the truth is often the first casualty of war?
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: It‘s worse than that, Joe, because it was really amazing to hear the Army Ranger say that he was told by a commanding officer not to say anything to Tillman‘s family or to anyone else. And in a way, what happened today with the testimony of the Tillman family and others, and with Jessica Lynch testifying, was that we saw the standard operating procedure of the Bush administration when it comes to this war laid bare, the manipulations, the falsehoods, the attempt to create a reality that does not exist (INAUDIBLE) impossible to deny.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, the president, though, is not even admitting tonight what the Pentagon has already admitted, that Iraq is in a state of civil war. I want you to listen, Arianna, to what the president had to say to Charlie Rose tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLIE ROSE, “THE CHARLIE ROSE SHOW”: It‘s pretty clear sectarian violence is almost a civil war there, in your judgment?
GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I asked David Petraeus, and he said no.
ROSE: It‘s not a civil war?
BUSH: He doesn‘t think so. He thinks it‘s extremists trying to foment a civil war, but no, he doesn‘t believe that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Arianna, how do you confront that with the president, when so many elements inside the Pentagon have already said we are in the midst of a civil war?
HUFFINGTON: Well, it appears, Joe, that the worse the news gets every day, the more in a state of denial the president retreats. It‘s now become an absolute pathology. And for the sake of the country, for the sake of our national security, the Democrats just have to stand up to that. There is really no other answer at the moment. They cannot cow to the attempts of the administration to portray them as unpatriotic or as not supporting the troops, all the things we‘ve heard again and again for years. They jut have to stand up to him, the way Harry Reid is standing up to him. Some of the things he said today admit, effectively, that Democrats have been turning a blind eye to the administration‘s dishonesty and incompetence, and he said no more. Now, let‘s see if they actually mean it.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, and you know, Pat Buchanan, when the president continues to go down the same course, when he says no, he doesn‘t think they‘re in a civil war, when—like, for instance, this weekend, he defended his attorney general‘s testimony, saying Alberto Gonzales was straightforward, nobody believes him. Few people believe his denials on Iraq. Why do his people let him go out there and say things that make him seem so out of touch with realities on the ground in Iraq?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, what I heard him say from your bite there, Joe, was that General Petraeus told him, when he asked Petraeus, and Petraeus said it was not a civil war, that the other side was—or the terrorists were trying to foment a civil war, but it was not a civil war. So I think—I mean, the president seemed to be quoting Petraeus there, and they ought to ask Petraeus...
SCARBOROUGH: Is the president being straight with Americans when he talks about this war, when he talks about the surge, when he talks about staying the course?
BUCHANAN: Oh, yes, I think—I mean, I think the president is committed to his course. I think he‘s not only committed, Joe, I think he‘s going to win, and I think that Harry Reid and Pelosi and all the others, after this is vetoed and the veto sustained, I think they‘re going to give him—they‘re going to fund this war, as the president demands, or...
SCARBOROUGH: When you say he‘s going to win, are you saying he‘s going to win the war, or are you saying he‘s going to win the political fight on Capitol Hill?
BUCHANAN: I‘m going to say he‘s going to get the funding for the war, and the Democratic Congress is going to back down, just as Carl Levin said they‘re going to do, as Schumer said they‘re going to do and as Barack Obama said they‘re going to do. They‘re going to give him the money. The president‘s going to win this battle, Joe, because he‘s committed and he‘s going to go down in history. This is his war. That‘s true. But those fellows do not want to be responsible for losing the war and...
SCARBOROUGH: Wait. Hold on, though. What‘s the end game, though, when you‘ve got Harry Reid saying that the war is lost? I remember we Republicans mocked Howard Dean...
BUCHANAN: No, Harry...
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on—mocked Howard Dean years ago, when he said the war was lost. Pat, you don‘t think we can win this war. I don‘t think we can win this war. I don‘t know too many Americans who believe we can win this war. So what‘s the end game?
BUCHANAN: Well, why—look, Harry Reid is running away from his statement, We‘ve lost the war. He‘s backed down...
SCARBOROUGH: Have we lost the war?
BUCHANAN: Now, look. Right now, the war is in a—the war is in a bloody stalemate, and there‘s no doubt it is not won. But as of today, it is not lost. Now, it does not look good. The American people are not behind it. Congress is not behind it. Eventually, we‘re probably going to get a cut-off. And we may very well lose it. But Harry Reid is running away from his statement today, quote, that we “lost” the war.
SCARBOROUGH: Michael Crowley...
HUFFINGTON: In fact...
SCARBOROUGH: You know, the insults out there are flying all across Washington. Tom DeLay was especially harsh. I want you to—I want you to look at his attack on the Democrats, when he actually said that if you‘re a Democrat and you support the withdrawal, you‘re committing acts that are close to treason. Role the tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM DELAY (R-TX), FORMER HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: I think Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are getting very, very close to treason.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, treason—now, that‘s a pretty serious (INAUDIBLE)
DELAY: And I‘m serious about it. The majority leader of the United States Senate, in a time of war, with soldiers dying on the ground, announcing that we had lost the war, is very close to treasonous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Michael Crowley, that‘s not too far from what the president‘s administration is saying about Democrats today, is it.
MICHAEL CROWLEY, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”: No, it‘s not. I mean, you‘re right. It‘s a good point. I listened to DeLay, and I find it kind of breathtaking. It‘s kind of shocking. But when you step back and think about it for a minute, it‘s the kind of thing that comes out of Dick Cheney‘s mouth about twice a week. I think DeLay was just a little bit blunter about it.
But listen, you know, who is more to blame here? I mean, if you‘re a Republican who really, when he‘s lying in bed at night, can‘t come up with a way that we‘re going to salvage this thing—and I think you‘re right, Joe. I mean, OK, Pat, Maybe this thing is not lost yet, but when you‘re down 30 points with five minutes to go in the fourth quarter, you have a pretty good idea that you‘re going to lose. And I think there‘s a very good reason to think that‘s the case here. And so if you‘re Tom DeLay, you can go around pointing the finger, saying, Treason, treason, treason, but if you really don‘t have a pretty good case for how we can pull this out—and I have not heard that from anyone, at this point—I don‘t see how you go on telling soldiers that they have to be risking being blown up and dismembered by IEDS every day.
SCARBOROUGH: ... follow up with Michael here for a second. Michael, though, what Pat Buchanan will tell you is that Democrats may say they want us to get out on October 1, Democrats may say this war has been lost, and yet they‘ve also said they‘re going to back down when the president asks for more money. If that‘s the case, don‘t we have politicians on both sides of the aisle knowing that we‘re going to lose this war, that more American men and women are going to die, and we‘re going to end up retreating in the end anyway?
CROWLEY: But look, I mean, I think Democrats are trying to work within what the—the power the political system has given them. I mean, there‘s really only so much they can do. So you can ask them to go way out on a limb...
SCARBOROUGH: They could defund the war.
CROWLEY: ... beyond what they can actually accomplish and be shot down politically and have accomplished nothing, or pursue the strategy that I think they‘re pursuing now, which is to pressure the president, force him to veto these pieces of legislation, prompt conversations like this one and make life increasingly uncomfortable for the Republicans, who he...
SCARBOROUGH: But that‘s not going to be...
BUCHANAN: Joe, let‘s take one thing here.
BUCHANAN: General Petraeus clearly does not believe we have lost the war. Do you think he does?
HUFFINGTON: But you know what, Pat? I‘m sorry (INAUDIBLE) General Petraeus is presented as the authority, the way we‘ve had multiple authorities...
BUCHANAN: Well, I should have read the Huffingtonpost.
CROWLEY: Pat, you should pick up “The Washington Post” on Sunday.
Petraeus sounded very, very depressed in “The Washington Post” on Sunday.
HUFFINGTON: And also—and also, Pat, the whole point here is that -
just look at the facts on the ground. The surge has not worked.
BUCHANAN: Well, look...
HUFFINGTON: The violence in Baghdad has increased. The wall...
BUCHANAN: Arianna, I agree with you!
HUFFINGTON: One second, Pat. Let me just finish. General Petraeus wanted a wall to be built in Baghdad, which now has to be discontinued...
BUCHANAN: We know that.
HUFFINGTON: ... because there is nobody else who is supporting it. You may know that, but that is what this ultimate authority, General Petraeus, wanted. So don‘t throw General Petraeus at everybody...
BUCHANAN: All right, but look, here‘s what we‘re doing. General Petraeus says we should know by the end of August and September whether it‘s worked. I agree with you. Joe and I agree it looked like it was working early, now it doesn‘t look like it‘s working. You‘ve got half the troops in there. All of them will be in by June. We will know the answer by September. It‘s going to be followed through. They‘re going to get the money. So I mean, the Democrats are going to give it to them. That is where it is going right now, and Bush and Cheney are taking this right to the end, and the Democrats are going to have to defund this war.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Pat, you bring up a very good point, and I want to...
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second. Hold on a second. I want to explain this to our viewers very quickly because Pat and I noticed—I was against the surge. We noticed there was some success, but what was happening, the Shiites were being driven out of Iraq. They were being driven out of Baghdad, the Mahdi Army, al Sadr. So when they got driven out, it created a power vacuum that allowed the Sunni death squads to start killing Shiites, the way they had before al Sadr stepped up.
SCARBOROUGH: So it seems to me it is a no-win situation. We get rid of the Shiite extremists, that just means Sunnis can kill more Shiites. It is a total mess, and I‘ve never heard one military man or one politician tell us how we‘re going to get out of it with a victory.
BUCHANAN: I‘ll tell you.
SCARBOROUGH: I don‘t think it‘s possible.
BUCHANAN: I don‘t think it‘s possible now for us to subdue Anbar province. There may be a battle for Baghdad you may be able to win. I agree with that. But we‘re going to find—Joe, it‘s baked in the cake right now. The Democrats are going to give him the money, and we‘re going to go through August and September, and we‘re going to see...
SCARBOROUGH: But Arianna—let me ask Arianna, what does that mean, though, Arianna, if, in fact, the Democrats know we‘ve lost this war and yet they continue to give the president the money he needs...
SCARBOROUGH: ... to execute this he war? Arianna, what does that mean to the Democratic base?
HUFFINGTON: I don‘t think it‘s just about the Democratic base. It‘s about the national security of this country. This is not about politics. This is not about left and right. the Democrats who know this war has been lost, who know they should not give any more money to this administration for this war without some clear withdrawal timetables—those Democrats will stand up and force a fight within their own party. That is really where the battle needs to be taken now. For them, after the veto, to go back and just do what the president wants would be a tremendous admission of failure, and I think the American public would not forgive them. That‘s not about the Democratic base. It‘s wide—way wider than that. It‘s 60, 70 percent of the American public that wants a clear withdrawal timetable.
SCARBOROUGH: And you‘re exactly right. The overwhelming majority of Americans do want a clear withdrawal timetable. Michael Crowley, Pat Buchanan, Arianna Huffington, thanks for being with us tonight.
I want to make a point, friends. I supported this war from the very beginning. I tell you that all that the time. I continued supporting it up until the Golden Mosque was blown up in Samarra, and suddenly, it did turn into a civil war. There is little left that we can do to win this war in Iraq, unless you and I as taxpayers tell people in Washington, D.C., we want to raise enough money to send 300,000 to 400,00 troops over there to subdue Iraq for the next 10 years. If we decide we want to do that, we can win this war. If we don‘t do that—and there‘s no way we‘re going to do that—we can‘t win the war. And you‘re hearing that from a guy who‘s been a hawk from his earliest days. But I‘m also a realist. You know, it‘s like Gladstone said. When the facts change, so does my mind. You know, what do you do? Well, bottom line is, if you keep your feet in cement and you don‘t change with the realities on the ground, then you‘re responsible for the killing of a lot more U.S. troops.
Coming up next, Bill Maher attacks God and Christianity, calling both a myth. I go one on one with the controversial HBO star next.
Plus, just like a never-ending hangover, Sanjaya won‘t go away! Why the unlikely superstar proves you don‘t actually have to win to be the next “American Idol.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROSIE O‘DONNELL, “THE VIEW”: It has been my goal for many years to give a bald billionaire a (DELETED)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Barbara‘s looking down! She‘s looking down!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Rosie embarrasses Barbara Walters again, this time in front of some of the powerful women in the world. We‘ll show you her gross-out antics and see if this is when Barbara Walters will finally decide to pull the plug on the disgusting tactics of Rosie O‘Donnell.
SCARBOROUGH: No holds Mahered. Controversial comedian Bill Maher attacks God, Jesus and Christianity. Now, he‘s working on a new documentary on religion with the producer of “Borat.” And I talked to him about why Jesus, Christianity and faith scares him so much.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL MAHER, “REAL TIME”: I mean, you really think that I‘m lost because I don‘t accept Jesus Christ as my savior. You think I‘m your inferior. Be honest.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, no, not inferior.
MAHER: Come on!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That‘s very different.
MAHER: But wait. You think you have a truth...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don‘t—I don‘t think you‘re inferior, but
MAHER: But do you think you have a truth that I do not see?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
MAHER: Then aren‘t I not, by logical means...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. No, you‘re where I was...
MAHER: ... inferior?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... once because I was all confused myself.
MAHER: That‘s condescending.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MAHER: As you know, Joe, I‘ve always had it out for religion for very good reasons. It‘s mostly destructive. I don‘t know what happens after you die, but to believe what another person tells me just makes me want to say to that person, How do you know? So that‘s what I would ask you. How do you know what happens after you die? It‘s only, Joe, because somebody in this long game of telephone from 2,000 years ago told you what it was.
But if some person hadn‘t told you and a person just came up to you on the street and says, Yes, there‘s a God and he had a son and he sent him on a suicide mission to earth, and then on Easter, he flies bodily up to heaven, I mean, what would you think of a person in the 21st century who believed that someone could fly bodily up to heaven?
SCARBOROUGH: So let me ask you, do you belief in God?
MAHER: I call myself an “apatheist.” I‘m apathetic about God. In other words, there could be a God. There could be something. I don‘t know. I don‘t—I certainly don‘t think it‘s a human God. But there could be some force that we can‘t understand on earth.
It doesn‘t matter. You should be a good person for the sake of being a good person, not because there is some reward in heaven. One of the things that bothers me about religion is that it masquerades as humility, and it‘s really arrogant. And it masquerades as self-sacrificing, and it‘s really about saving your own hide. Ask any Christian, they‘ll tell you it‘s about salvation through Jesus Christ. This is how I am going to achieve happiness for all eternity after I die. But it‘s mostly about saving my own behind.
SCARBOROUGH: But how in the world can you even—how can you draw—listen, how can you assume I‘m a Christian because I want to save my hide? How do you know that I‘m a Christian because...
MAHER: I just got...
SCARBOROUGH: ... I‘m afraid of dying? How do you know that I don‘t follow Christian beliefs because it makes me a better person here on earth? And how can you say that being a Christian is a selfish act, when there are millions of Christians throughout time, like Abraham Lincoln, like William Wilberforce in England, whose religious faith have driven them to abolish slavery?
MAHER: Read Lincoln. That‘s hardly what drove him to abolish slavery. But Joe...
SCARBOROUGH: Well, read William Wilberforce. That‘s what led him and led other people...
SCARBOROUGH: ... that were in...
MAHER: OK. Yes.
SCARBOROUGH: ... that movement to abolish slavery. You cannot say that being a Christian is inherently a selfish act...
SCARBOROUGH: ... unless you‘ve been a Christian yourself.
MAHER: OK, the reason—the reason I say this is because I just got done from interviewing many, many people about this. This is what I was doing on this documentary. And most Christians...
SCARBOROUGH: Many, many people—I mean, you sound like—you sound like Katie Couric—Some people say—you didn‘t talk to me.
MAHER: OK, but I would bet, Joe, if you talk to most Christians, what they would say the most important part of the religion is, salvation, salvation through Jesus Christ. It‘s in the Bible. It‘s what he says. You can only...
SCARBOROUGH: Now, you know what Jesus says the most important part of being a Christian is? And he tells his disciplines when they ask him. He says it‘s about feeding the poor, clothing those that have no clothes, visiting people who are sick, visiting people in jails. Just because Christianity has been perverted by televangelists during your lifetime and my lifetime doesn‘t mean that they‘re using the words of Jesus. Jesus said, This is how you‘re judged. You‘re judged on how you treat the poor. You‘re judged on how you give hope to the hopeless. I am shocked you didn‘t talk to a single person...
MAHER: Yes, but...
SCARBOROUGH: ... that didn‘t tell you that.
MAHER: Yes, they talk about that, and that is important. But of course, you can do those things without believing in those kind of myths. You don‘t have to personalize a God. OK, but Joe, I mean, let‘s get real. I‘ve read the New Testament. I‘ve read it recently. It is a lot about achieving eternal life through Jesus Christ, OK? Yes, helping the poor and all that stuff is in there, but mostly it‘s about saving yourself through this one method, through this one man. God sent his son to earth to die for your sins, yada, yada, yada. That‘s what it‘s about.
SCARBOROUGH: I want to thank Bill Maher, as always, for coming to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. He was here a couple weeks ago. We have more of that interview tomorrow night. And you, or course, can catch a new episode of “Real Time” on HBO Friday night. You can also see Bill‘s stand-up act. He‘s going to be performing at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas next weekend. And as always, as you can tell in that interview, he is always thought-provoking and always, of course, politically incorrect. The title fits him perfectly.
Coming up next: Alberto Gonzales finds an unlikely supporter on “The Daily Show.” That‘s next in “Must See S.C.”
Plus, Rosie O‘Donnell grabs her crotch and says, quote, “Eat me,” to Donald Trump, all in front of Barbara Walters and her big media friends. How much longer will Barbara allow Rosie to ruin her reputation? That‘s ahead.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, it‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” some video you just got to see. First up: Despite heavy criticism, President Bush continues to stand by his attorney general. And the folks at “The Daily Show” couldn‘t be happier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON STEWART, “THE DAILY SHOW”: Doesn‘t the president want us to feel that the people that he hires are competent?
JOHN OLIVER, “THE DAILY SHOW”: No. No. Absolutely not. No. He wants you and the American people to leave him the (DELETED) alone. So legally, Gonzales had to appear before Congress. So his choice was either to expose the administration‘s political machinations or appear to be a functioning pinhead. He went with pinhead.
OLIVER: And if I may say, nailed it!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And, finally, Jimmy Kimmel once again wages a war on the FCC in a recent addition of “Unnecessarily Censorship.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAULA ABDUL, JUDGE, “AMERICAN IDOL”: A lot of people were powered, and it sounded a little bit like you were (bleep). But you know what? So what?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was good news here, if there is some good news for these four (bleep), is that it‘s pretty warm here.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You‘ve got a chicken factory, and a chicken (bleep) factory, or whatever you call it, you know what I‘m talking about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And still ahead, Rosie goes on another rampage, and this time it‘s very unladylike manners that were front and center at an event honoring women.
Plus, the farewell tour that never ends. Is Sanjaya‘s super stardom bad for the show that just booted him off? We‘re going to be asking our “Idol” experts, coming up.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, it‘s a new low for rude and crude Rosie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROSIE O‘DONNELL, HOST, “THE VIEW”: It has been my goal for many years to give a bald billionaire a (bleep). Look at Barbara looking down. She‘s looking down. That comb-over (bleep) goes after her instead of me. Come here, buddy, (bleep) me, OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And that was just a simple from her act while hosting a media awards luncheon yesterday. The audience of 2,000 included Senator Hillary Clinton, the wife of presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, 17 high school girls, and, of course, Barbara Walters. They were also treated to Rosie cursing. Rosie defended her performance, though, on her blog earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: It wasn‘t a televised event. It was a local charity event for kids to get scholarships and for women in communication. And I did drop the f-bomb. Who cares?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Who cares? It‘s an event for kids. I mean, it‘s to help kids, and she‘s talking that way? Who cares? Well, how about Barbara Walters? I suspect Barbara Walters must care.
The once-proud journalist reportedly lowered her head and covered her face with her hand when Rosie swore in front of thousands of her industry‘s colleagues. So was the matriarch of journalism feigning shame or was she smiling behind her hand? And how far does Rosie have to go before Barbara Walters finally boots her from “The View”?
Here‘s John Ridley. He‘s a screenwriter and a frequent contributor to National Public Radio. And also Steve Adubato, MSNBC media analyst.
Steve, we‘ve been here before. It seems that she takes one of the most prestigious events for women in media. It‘s supposed to help young high school women, young women, and yet she acts in a way that‘s just—again, I‘m not shocked by the language. It is just so totally inappropriate. Why does she have to do this? And why does Barbara Walters continue to sit back and let her embarrass herself, embarrass ABC, and embarrass “The View”?
STEVE ADUBATO, MEDIA ANALYST: Joe, it‘s a loaded question, but one that has to be asked. It‘s a disgrace. She‘s a disgrace. I have a 14-year-old son who is studying journalism, who wants to go into our business. I‘m imagining those young women, those 17-year-old young women, they‘re at this event. They‘re looking at people in the media. They look at us as role models.
Look, Rosie, we know you have a raunchy stand up act. Go do it in Vegas. Don‘t do it in front of 17-year-old kids. Don‘t do it at a prestigious, you know, media elite event where you‘re supposed to be celebrating the media. Listen, you have this tremendous need, Rosie, to shock and to be the story, when, in fact, those kids are the story. The people in the media that are being honored are the story.
I‘ve never seen someone—look, Joe, we all have big egos. She is so egocentric she can‘t even take a step back and have class and dignity, be the kind of MC you‘re supposed to be, and bring some decorum to the event. Use some humor, Rosie, but the kind of things that were said, the f-bomb is a big deal, particularly at a classy event with 17-year-old young women, impressionable. You ought to be ashamed.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, and, you know, John, I think actually that Steve touched on something important here. It‘s always about shocking for the sake of shocking. You throw around f-bombs, you talk about performing sexual acts on Donald Trump, you talk about all the things that Rosie O‘Donnell talks about, and yet she continues to get away with it. Are we just a culture that loves people shocking us?
JOHN RIDLEY, AUTHOR-SCREENWRITER: Well, clearly we are, Joe. I mean, you look at the ratings for “The View” year to year. It‘s up 15 percent. Originally when Rosie came on, people thought that she was going to destroy the show. Instead, she‘s enhanced the show.
There was one television critic that I saw. He said, “What I like about Rosie is that she says what she thinks.” I actually think that she says what she thinks she thinks. I think she‘s very hypocritical. And not only that, she has this false sense of piousness.
I mean, most recently, for example, she claims to be all about kids and being an advocate for children. The other day, she supports Alec Baldwin calling his daughter a pig, and then, as Steve says, today she‘s in front of kids saying the things that she‘s saying.
I mean, look, I understand the desire for some people to be provocative. I think I‘m that way often myself. I understand the desire to use strong words. But I think that you could reconcile those and be conditional.
A luncheon in the middle of the day—you saw what she said in her blog, that it was just a little local thing. This is not a local thing.
ADUBATO: No, it‘s not.
RIDLEY: This was about women in media. This was a big deal. I mean, Rupert Murdoch is there. There are all kinds of individuals who are there. Senator Hillary Clinton is there. This is not some little thing in the afternoon. This is not a tea party at somebody‘s house. It was a big deal, and I think she could have used sense.
SCARBOROUGH: And, you know, speaking of Murdoch, let‘s watch another clip of Rosie at the luncheon yesterday taking on the owner of FOX News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: This is a celebration of women who change the world, and no one understands why Rupert Murdoch is on the dais. He‘s a man who makes me take a (INAUDIBLE) delightful to see you in person. Looking for numbers on his head. There aren‘t any.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ADUBATO: What is that, Joe?
SCARBOROUGH: Well, it‘s part of the comedy routine, but, again, accusing this guy of being the anti-Christ, again, it‘s all about the shock effect, but it seems to me people are laughing. She gets away with it. She throws around the f-bomb. She talks about committing sexual acts in front of high school girls. I guess I need to ask you two guys, why do the media elite, why do the—I‘m not saying Hillary Clinton sat there and smiled at it. But why don‘t people speak out against her?
ADUBATO: Joe, she‘s not getting away with it. And I have to tell you something, for people like Hillary Clinton, particularly after the whole Imus thing we went through—and I don‘t want to bring it up, other than to say this. The bar has been raised, and this is not a P.C. issue. The bar has been raised for civil discussion, understanding where you are, understanding who your audience is, understanding who your targets are, whether they‘re 17-year-old kids getting scholarships to go to media school or go to college to study media or journalism, or the young women who play basketball from Rutgers University. You have to know your audience.
And Rosie is so inappropriate, Joe. And I have to tell you this: We let her get away with this last week, and I‘m not going to let it happen, because here‘s what she did. When the horrible situation happened in West Virginia—excuse me, at Virginia Tech—she‘s so bad. She wants to hit the president so hard she turned around and said, “Look how quick the president was to go down to Virginia Tech, but look at how long it took him to go to Katrina”? They‘re not even related, Joe. My point is this: She is so politically motivated that it skews her sense of what‘s appropriate, and fair, and balanced, and it‘s horrible. And she‘s not getting away with it.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, John Ridley, also, I think he brings up a very
good point, Steve does, talking about civil discourse. I want to play you
and it‘s like every day it seems like she works hard to be crass, to coarsen political discussions, and also just discussions in general. Listen to how Rosie he tried to gross out “The View‘s” audience yesterday when she talked about Sheryl Crow and global warming.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: She wants everyone to use one square of toilet paper to wipe. “All I want to do is have some fun.” One little piece? Has she seen my ass?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: I guess, John, what shocked Steve and I for so long is not only is the civil discourse just not existent on the show, but I can‘t believe that Barbara Walters is sitting next to this allowing it to happen. Why, John?
RIDLEY: Joe, at the head of the segment, you talked about Barbara Walters burying her head in her hands. To me, she‘s cringing with the delight of a mother who can‘t help but love her mischievous child. Oh, it‘s so darling, my little girl just took a dump in the corner.
I mean, here‘s the thing. Whether you‘re talking about Rosie, whether you‘re talking about Imus, whether you‘re talking about rap music, all these things that you bring up, Joe, the bottom line is, it‘s the corporate parents who are making the money. As long as they‘re making the money, as long as the ratings are going up—if the ratings had been sinking on Rosie on “The View,” Rosie would have been gone.
So I think there are two parts to this. The people who are sick of this, are they going to really take it to the corporate parents and do an Imus on Rosie? Or are people going to say, “Oh, I can‘t really stand it, but, by golly, I‘m going to tune in tomorrow morning to see what she‘s going to say again.” The choice is ours. And the real issue is, are we going to make the choice?
SCARBOROUGH: And that‘s the question, John Ridley, we‘ve been asking for a while now. John Ridley, thanks so much. Steve Adubato, as always, greatly appreciate you being here.
And still ahead, so much for the swan song. Sanjaya ain‘t going anywhere, baby. Why are the most powerful people in Hollywood and Washington infatuated with this teenybopper pinup who can‘t sing?
Plus, what‘s getting in the way of a steamy sex scene with Lindsay Lohan and Keira Knightley? It ain‘t me, baby, I‘ll guarantee you that. Details in “Hollyweird.”
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Sanjaya may have been a castoff by “American Idol” voters last week, but he‘s not disappearing. God, go away already! In fact, he‘s becoming even more famous by the day, friends. It‘s like “The Matrix.” I mean, he‘s taking over.
Over the weekend, the 17-year-old with a goofy charm, zany hairdo, and crappy voice was the hottest guest at the White House correspondents dinner. Even the governor of New York wanted his autograph. Then, last night, Sanjaya delivered David Letterman‘s top 10 list.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, “LATE SHOW”: Here we go. Top 10 things I learned from “American Idol,” number ten.
SANJAYA MALAKAR, FORMER “AMERICAN IDOL” CONTESTANT: The camera adds 10 pounds to your Mohawk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And this morning, he was on the “Today” show, where he responded to his harshest critic, Simon Cowell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MALAKAR: Simon, I commend you for your honesty and your brutality. And I just want to say thank you, because you‘re the person that taught me the most on the show.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: I just—every time I see him, I just die a little bit inside, don‘t you? So why does America still care about Sanjaya? And when will this long national nightmare finally end?
With us now to sort through the madness that is Sanjaya-mania, former “American Idol” contestant Carmen Rasmusen. Her new single, “Nothing like the Summer,” was just released today. Also with us, “OK” magazine senior reporter and Pittsburgh favorite, Courtney Hazlett.
Let me start with you, Carmen. What‘s going on here? This kid, he really is. It‘s like “The Matrix.” He‘s like Mr. Smith. He just keeps taking over. He goes everywhere. Is Sanjaya going to end up being the big winner from this season‘s “American Idol”?
CARMEN RASMUSEN, FORMER “AMERICAN IDOL” CONTESTANT: I definitely think that he‘s the most popular contestant on this season and that he will be the most popular contestant on this season. But it isn‘t unlikely, Joe, for a contestant to go around and hit the publicity circuit really, really hard. The day after we were cut from the show, literally that morning at 6:00 a.m., we were flown out to New York to do interviews from morning until night. We did “The Today Show.” I had the opportunity to also do David Letterman, and I actually read the top 10 reasons why you won‘t win “American Idol.” So it‘s kind of funny that Sanjaya is the only other contestant I know of that read the top 10 like I did.
But it‘s interesting that he was at the White House correspondents dinner. I mean, come on. I don‘t know of any other “Idol” that has done that. So he‘s definitely hitting it a little bit harder.
SCARBOROUGH: What is it about this guy, Courtney Hazlett? I was at the White House correspondents dinner. And when I went up there—I mean, I had so many people saying, hey, if you see Sanjaya, get his autograph. I mean, I was like, OK, I‘ve got the president there. I‘ve got the most power powerful people in Washington, some of the most powerful people in Hollywood. You‘ve got, like stars from “Desperate Housewives,” and everybody wants an autograph from this kid who can‘t sing. Why?
COURTNEY HAZLETT, “OK” MAGAZINE: It‘s rather confounding. I think the White House has credibility issues on its own to begin with. I can‘t believe they would make matters worse by bringing Sanjaya into the fray.
And I hear what Carmen is saying, but I kind of beg to differ. If he was the most popular contestant, he‘d still be on the show. Sanjaya is riding this wave, and I think if he doesn‘t jump off some time soon, they‘re going to be—the ramifications are going to be that people are going to be really, really sick of him by the time he‘s ready to get serious, actually get on stage, whether it‘s on Broadway, whether it‘s singing, whether it‘s on television. He really needs to be careful he‘s really not overplaying it at this point.
RASMUSEN: I actually disagree with...
SCARBOROUGH: Doesn‘t he go on the “American Idol” tour, since he was in the top 10?
RASMUSEN: Yes, yes, he will be on tour. And I actually disagree slightly with Courtney, because it‘s important to keep your face out there. That‘s exactly what I did in the four years before I got my record deal. The more he‘s out there, the more he‘s putting his face out there, the more people are going to remember him. And, of course, he doesn‘t want to do, you know, cheesy things, things that will, you know, diminish him, if that‘s, you know, possible, but he does want to keep his face out there and keep working up and building himself up if he does want to have a career in this business. It‘s extremely important.
And I think that he‘s not maybe the most talented competitor that was on this season, but he‘s the most infamous, I guess is the best word to describe it, the most infamous contestant.
SCARBOROUGH: The most infamous, and he‘s got the buzz around him, and everybody is talking about him. Carmen, thanks so much, as always. And, Courtney, stay with us. Coming up next in “Hollyweird,” Bart Simpson‘s animated junk? Hey, baby, they don‘t call it “Hollyweird” for nothing.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, tell the plastic surgeon you want a nose, a new nose, and it better be a smaller nose. It‘s time for “Hollyweird.”
First up, Lindsay Lohan was supposed to play Keira Knightley‘s love interest in an upcoming film, but she backed out at the last minute. Here again, “OK” magazine‘s senior reporter Courtney Hazlett. And also MSNBC‘s pop culture analyst and full-frontal-nudity expert, Willie Geist.
WILLIE GEIST, POP CULTURE ANALYST: Yes, sir.
SCARBOROUGH: ... let‘s start with this one. What‘s going on? Why didn‘t Keira get together with Lindsay? I mean, it seems like a perfect pairing.
GEIST: Well, Joe, I don‘t know who‘s so up in arms about this. This is actually a lesbian upgrade. You lose Lindsay Lohan, but you pick up Sienna Miller in the process.
SCARBOROUGH: No, you don‘t.
GEIST: I‘ll take the Sienna Miller-Keira Knightley...
GEIST: ... any day of the week over Lindsay Lohan. It‘s an upgrade?
SCARBOROUGH: You are kidding. So Sienna‘s going to do it, huh?
GEIST: Sienna Miller is rumored to be taking the part, and I run with rumors, as you know, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, let me ask you. When does this movie open?
GEIST: I couldn‘t really tell you, because I was so distracted...
SCARBOROUGH: Where are they filming it? Do you know?
GEIST: England, I think, somewhere.
SCARBOROUGH: England. London, England. I‘m going to London, England, Courtney Hazlett. Tell me about this, this wonderful movie. What‘s going on? Why did Lindsay Lohan back out?
HAZLETT: Well, reportedly she got skittish when there was talks of a lesbian love interest and she would be that said lesbian love interest. No, I think it‘s kind of fitting that she‘s laying low. She actually just deemed herself as being irresponsible. She said, “Go ahead. Call me irresponsible, everyone,” in a recent magazine interview. So irresponsible is as irresponsible does. She‘s backed out.
SCARBOROUGH: You don‘t sound too broken up by it, Courtney.
HAZLETT: Yes, I‘m not really crying on the inside.
SCARBOROUGH: By the way, I apologize for this guy talk between Willie and myself. We‘ll try to be a little more above board.
GEIST: Please, Joe, pick it up.
SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s talk about “The Simpsons.” Yes, let‘s pick it up. America‘s longest-running sitcom is going be hitting the big screen later this summer, and the word on sunset strip is that the movie has got nudity. Please, what‘s going on here, Willie Geist?
GEIST: Well, apparently there‘s a scene in the movie early on—the movie comes out this summer—where Bart is skateboarding down a street and he‘s covered by bushes or other things. All of a sudden, we get to one point. Full-frontal nudity. He lost a bet, and he‘s totally nude in the front, which raises something interesting: I don‘t know that we‘ve ever seen on film cartoon characters full frontal, because I think we sort of assumed that there was nothing going on below with the cartoon characters. So this should be fascinating, if not slightly pornographic.
SCARBOROUGH: Slightly pornographic? You know, Courtney, that sounds a lot like the creators of “South Park” and what they did with puppets, right?
HAZLETT: It sounds a lot like that. You know, I‘m not sure that teenage girls are going be on the edge of their seat waiting for this one to come out. But I think it‘s kind of interesting here that they‘ve somehow eschewed an R-rating. They‘re able to put out Bart‘s nether regions without getting an R-rating, whereas a lot of other movies jump through serious hoops for much less controversial things to try to avoid such ratings. So I think it‘s pretty interesting that cartoons obviously run by their own law.
GEIST: ... Bart Simpson was 10 years, so isn‘t this sort of like child pornography? Should this be on “To Catch a Predator” or something like that?
SCARBOROUGH: It may be. It may be. I think we need to call “Dateline.”
Hey, I‘ve got a question for you, Courtney. Did rap star 50 Cent take a shot at Paris Hilton through a new product from a bottled water company he owns?
HAZLETT: It‘s quite possible. First of all, rap star 50 Cent is like
he‘s like the renaissance rapper. Not only does he own a stake in a bottled water company, but he also lives in Connecticut in the middle of nowhere. He‘s not your typical rapper. He‘s got this new water out. It‘s XXX water. And it‘s kind of a dig at the Paris Hiltons and the Joe Francises and all those kind of hangers-on who are into the whole Girls Gone Wild scene, which is actually you and Willie talking guy talk.
SCARBOROUGH: Exactly, Willie. Willie, I‘m going to let you defend our honor with the last word. Go ahead.
GEIST: Well, it‘s very fashionable to make fun of Paris Hilton, but I happen to think an attack on Paris Hilton is an attack on the American way of life, and I plan to boycott vitamin water. At least call it Freedom Water or something like that.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, exactly. I mean, my god, Paris Hilton is America.
GEIST: Love her.
SCARBOROUGH: America, apple pie, and John Cougar songs about Chevy. Thanks, Courtney. Thanks, Willie. That‘s all the time we have for SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. We‘ll see you tomorrow.
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