Guests: Ryan Lizza, Emily Heil, Matthew Felling, Craig Crawford, Carmen Rasmusen, Danny Bonaduce, Jill Dobson
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Tonight we‘re also coming to you from Los Angeles, CNBC‘s LA headquarters. And of course, we‘re out west for this week‘s GOP debate, a debate that‘s sure to be dominated by terrorism, Iraq and the U.S. mission in that war-torn land that‘s far from being accomplished. You know, as Keith said, it was four years ago today that President Bush landed on the USS Abraham Lincoln to announce the end of combat operations in Iraq, an occasion framed with a historically disastrous proclamation of a “Mission accomplished.”
Since that embarrassing photo op, more than 3,000 Americans have been killed in a military engagement that‘s lasted longer than World War II. But Democrats who are trying to do something about ending that war saw their efforts undercut by the president‘s veto just hours earlier. Democrats sent their bill to get American troops out of Iraq to the president with great fanfare, but Mr. Bush vetoed that bill anyway, and then he addressed America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Members of the House and the Senate passed a bill that substitutes the opinions of politicians for the judgment of our military commanders, so a few minutes ago, I vetoed the bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: The president will talk to congressional leaders tomorrow as they decide whether to forge a compromise solution or continue fighting to end the war Mr. Bush told the world was finished four years ago. Now, today, this month‘s death tally came in. There were over 100 dead American troops in Iraq. That makes this the bloodiest month of this year.
Here now to talk about all the news today—and there‘s a lot—regarding Iraq, MSNBC political analyst Craig Crawford—he‘s also a columnist for “Congressional Quarterly”—Ryan Lizza—he‘s a senior editor for “The New Republic”—and two-time presidential contender and former White House communications director Pat Buchanan.
Pat, you know, one of the most respected conservative minds of the past 50 years is suggesting today that George W. Bush‘s war could destroy the Republican Party. Look what William F. Buckley wrote. He said, “How can the Republican Party, headed by a president determined on a war he can‘t see an end to, attract the support of a majority of voters? There are grounds for wondering whether the Republican Party will survive this dilemma.”
Pat Buchanan, first of all, I don‘t know—that‘s obviously the wrong William Buckley. But what about Mr. Buckley‘s suggestion that the Republican Party may not be able to survive this war?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think if we—I think, Joe, look, this is the Republican Party‘s war, even though Democrats voted for it. It is Bush‘s war and Cheney‘s war and the neoconservatives‘ war. And if it is going on at the present scale in 2008 -- and I don‘t think it will be—but if it is, I do think the Republicans will lose seats in both houses of Congress, lose both house, and they will lose the White House. There‘s no doubt about it. And I think that is the situation right now.
But I don‘t think it‘s a permanent demise of the Republican Party because I think what‘s going to happen as a result of this, frankly, is going to be a real disaster in the Middle East for the United States and the West, and I think opinion will gradually turn. But in the short run, I do believe it is—this war could be fatal to the Republican Party in the next cycle.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, and Pat, of course, William Buckley knows, as you know, as any Republican strategist knows, that the Republicans have been elected to the White House certainly throughout the cold war and even after the cold war because they‘re seen as being much stronger on national defense issues. Doesn‘t this war, doesn‘t Mr. Bush‘s insistence to continue this war, doesn‘t the unpopularity of the war, doesn‘t the rising death toll from this war, doesn‘t all the mistakes of the past four years suggest that we may see a fundamental realignment when it comes to national security issues, where people won‘t naturally assume that the Republican Party is better on defense issues, but instead will give the nod to the Democratic Party?
BUCHANAN: I think, Joe—this is where I think we might disagree. As of right now, correct. As of right now, The Democratic Party is more closely positioned to the majority of the American people, that they want an end to American involvement in this war. They want an end to the casualties. But if the Democratic war (SIC) is seen as responsible for a precipitate withdrawal that results in what could be just a calamity for the American position in the Middle East and a minor holocaust in Iraq and that region, then they will be held accountable for the consequences, and the situation could turn.
So I think what you state is true now, but the Democrats know themselves that that possibility is down the road. In 1974, they looked good on Vietnam, but in 1980, after the disaster, Reagan said it was a noble cause, he was mocked, and the country said Reagan was right.
SCARBOROUGH: And then, of course, Reagan won that. Craig Crawford, do you agree with William F. Buckley that the Republican Party may not be able to survive this war if it continues going on, as Pat Says, through 2008, which Mr. Bush has already suggested that it will, and even beyond that?
CRAIG CRAWFORD, “CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Well, I‘ve seen the demise of both parties predicted so many times that I‘m sometimes a little skeptical of that. But things do seem bad. But you know, to turn it around, put the best light I could imagine for it on the Republicans (INAUDIBLE) one thing that will be remembered from this episode is Republicans and President Bush were the ones who pulled the trigger, who were trigger-happy in response to an attack on American soil. Now, what I‘m saying is, the next time there‘s an attack on American soil and Americans run scared again and want a hatchet man in the White House to go after the bad guys, they‘ll remember it was the Republicans who did that.
SCARBOROUGH: And you know, Craig Crawford, I‘ve got to ask you, again, because this Republican White House, the Karl Rove White House, is seen as being so ruthlessly efficient on political and PR issues, and yet they have been stumbling and bumbling since Katrina. Craig, let me ask you, why would the president of the United States veto such an important bill on the four-year anniversary of his disastrous “Mission accomplished” declaration? Can you think of worse political timing.
CRAWFORD: Well, Congress sent it to him, but he didn‘t have to sign it today, you‘re right. And I think he just wanted to show that he‘s not going to back down, that he‘ll even sign it on a day like this. You know, this president is steadfast. I‘ll give him that. I mean, sometimes I think he‘s like the subject of a family intervention, who just will not accept that he has a problem, even though both houses of Congress, a majority of the people, world leaders all trying to talk him out of this war, and he just will not even accept that it‘s not even going well.
SCARBOROUGH: George W. Bush, he truly does, Ryan Lizza—he truly does stand alone. But when you have a man who really started the modern American conservative movement, William F. Buckley, suggesting that the Republican Party may not survive this war if it continues dragging on because the president is oblivious to the disaster that it is, then of course, you‘ve got serious issues. Do you think there‘s going to be a fundamental political realignment as a result of all the things that have been going on in Iraq over the past four or so years, and unfortunately, what may be going on for the next four years?
RYAN LIZZA, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”: Yes, look, if you look at what sustained Republican success through 2002 and through 2004, when to be perfectly honest, their domestic agenda was not popular, the only thing that dragged them through those elections was national security. And Bush is destroying the Republican Party‘s credibility on that subject, and today may be remembered 10 or 20 years from now as the day when Bush lost that asset for the Republican Party for a generation.
And the idea that Pat Buchanan just brought up, that somehow, the Democrats, if they do something in Congress, are going to be remembered at the party that lost this war is insane! The only person that‘s ever going to be remembered as responsible for this war, no matter what happens from here on out, is George W. Bush.
SCARBOROUGH: Pat Buchanan, are you...
CRAWFORD: You know, Joe, there‘s—there‘s...
SCARBOROUGH: ... insane?
CRAWFORD: There‘s every responsibility (ph) Bush will draw this war down...
LIZZA: What could Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid do for the American people to suddenly blame them for Iraq?
BUCHANAN: There‘s a reason, Ryan—there‘s a reason why—why don‘t the Democrats simply defund the war? They can defund it right now. There‘s a reason why. They know if they do, they will wind up lynched for losing the war. The American people...
BUCHANAN: They don‘t want to lose the war. And if the Democrats—they know that! You can look at them right now! That‘s why they‘re going to give him the money!
SCARBOROUGH: But you know, though, what makes matters worse for the president is the fact that over 100 American troops died in Iraq this month, making it the deadliest month this year. and Pat, I want you to watch the Democrats as they‘re taking to the floor to ridicule Mr. Bush. I mean, they really are on the political high ground here.
BUCHANAN: All right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: It seems only the president and his small band of advisers think we have accomplished our mission in Iraq.
SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: The president can‘t act as if he‘s king, Send me the bill, I‘m going to veto it. Very macho-like. I don‘t think it‘s macho-like, I think it‘s just wrong.
SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: Four years after the president declared “mission accomplished,” I ask how many more lives must we lose and how much more money must we spend?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Ryan Lizza, has the commander-in-chief lost the moral authority to run this war?
LIZZA: Look, he‘s always—he‘s still the commander-in-chief, but I don‘t know if he‘s—he‘s lost his credibility. I mean, that‘s the problem, is people don‘t believe him anymore. I will say this, though. I do think, in the short term, there‘s some tactical advantage that Bush will have here because it puts the ball back into the Democrats‘ court in Congress. And what‘s going to happen is some of the rifts within the Democratic Party are going to be exposed over the next week about what to do in Iraq.
But long-term, I think that‘s a—I think that‘s a blip. I mean, long-term, the fundamentals don‘t change. We have an unpopular war that the Democrats want to end and the Bush administration doesn‘t. So I don‘t think that that short-term bump for him means a whole lot.
BUCHANAN: You know—but wait a minute. Please look at—I agree with everything you‘re saying, but does anyone think—I do think we‘re going to withdraw our forces. I think they‘re going to start out. But I think—would you not agree we could have a total calamity in the Middle East...
LIZZA: I agree with that.
BUCHANAN: ... and will they turn to Barbara Boxer and will they turn to Chuck Schumer at that point?
LIZZA: Well, there are Democratic presidential candidates that will be the spokesmen and the leaders for the party. And you know, frankly...
SCARBOROUGH: What are they going to say, Get me John Edwards?
LIZZA: Yes, perhaps the will.
CRAWFORD: ... guaranteed calamity here.
LIZZA: I don‘t see how...
CRAWFORD: How is that guaranteed? I don‘t see...
BUCHANAN: I don‘t know...
CRAWFORD: ... the guaranteed calamity here Pat keeps talking about.
BUCHANAN: I don‘t know if it‘s guaranteed—well, look, if it—let me tell you, if I didn‘t fear something like that, I would be voting for ending American involvement in the war. There‘s General Zinni and a lot of folks that oppose this war are profoundly apprehensive over what‘s going to happen if...
CRAWFORD: ... Iraq and Iran fought a war for 10 years, and we didn‘t see a meltdown (INAUDIBLE)
LIZZA: But Pat, withdrawing troops from Iraq does not mean disengaging from the region. What Democrats are saying is just the opposite. We want to get troops out of the civil war, and we want an intensive diplomatic effort. It doesn‘t mean we‘re abandoning Middle East politics, it actually means engaging on a higher level...
BUCHANAN: Well, let me...
LIZZA: ... than the Bush administration is willing to do.
BUCHANAN: If the other—I mean, if we can‘t defeat the enemy in the field, in Anbar and in Baghdad, who‘s going to defeat them? They‘re going to win the war!
LIZZA: Well, look, it‘s very complicated, what‘s going on in Iraq. You have a civil war, then you also have al Qaeda. There are multiple factions here, right? And most of the Democrats want some residual forces at least in the region to take care al Qaeda, if they need to, right? That‘s part of the Democratic plan.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, but—you know, though—but I think, Ryan, though, the problem is that the Democrats haven‘t really put forward a specific plan about what we do next. But I‘ll tell you what...
LIZZA: You got to read the fine print.
SCARBOROUGH: ... a lot of—you‘ve got to read the really, really fine print...
SCARBOROUGH: ... very fine print. Yes, as Ross Perot always said, it‘s where the rubber meets the road.
But I want you all to look at an ad that was rushed to cable outlets by supporters of the Democrats after the president‘s veto today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended.
ANNOUNCER: Four years later, there‘s no end in sight. And George Bush still won‘t face reality. Congress voted to start bringing our troops home, but the president vetoed the bill. He was wrong then and he‘s wrong now. It‘s the will of one nation versus the stubbornness of one man. Mr. President, you can veto a bill, but you can‘t veto the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: I‘ll tell you what, you know, you don‘t need fine print when you have ads like that. Could this veto be disastrous for the president?
SCARBOROUGH: Why not?
CRAWFORD: ... I mean, the president is just boxed in, and he‘s got—the president has the country and the Congress and the rest of the world, practically, just in a straitjacket on this thing.
BUCHANAN: And you know...
CRAWFORD: Pat points out—Pat points out—I mean, the possibility of a calamity. I don‘t accept that it‘s guaranteed...
BUCHANAN: But you know...
CRAWFORD: ... but that is a possibility...
LIZZA: ... have a calamity there now!
BUCHANAN: Let me talk for a second. Look, the president...
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. Go ahead.
BUCHANAN: ... is locked in. The president‘s locked in. It‘s is his war. He‘s going to see this thing to the end. The people taking the risk now are the Democrats. They want to end our involvement, but don‘t want to be seen as obstructionists for the war. They don‘t want to sabotage it, and they don‘t want to be responsible for the defeat. They‘re the only ones that have any risk left here. The president‘s thing is baked in the cake!
SCARBOROUGH: All right. And we got to go, but Craig Crawford, you waved your hand at me then leaned away. I‘m going to—that‘s worth the last word. Give us the last word, Craig.
BUCHANAN: He held his hand up!
CRAWFORD: It‘s hard for me to believe that the Democrats are the losers here, when it‘s the president‘s war that the country‘s against and the country‘s on the Democrats‘ side in this thing. They just don‘t have the votes, and the reason they don‘t have the votes is because the Republicans don‘t give them the votes they need to get what they want done. And so it‘s the Republicans down the road who are going to take the hit for this war continuing with unlimited resources, without end.
SCARBOROUGH: And I‘ll tell you what. You look at all the polls, no doubt the American people are on the Democrats‘ side on this issue.
Ryan Lizza, Pat Buchanan, thank you so much. Craig Crawford, stay with us. You can wave me off in the next segment, too.
Still ahead: D.C.‘s dirty deeds (INAUDIBLE) She‘s coming clean as the D.C. madam prepares to name names. But is ABC News doing the right thing by helping her out her clients? And is it really anybody‘s business?
Plus, we‘re going to show you the behind-the-scenes footage of America‘s other favorite sex sting. We go behind the scenes with “DATELINE‘s” Chris Hansen in the “Catch a Predator” video you haven‘t seen before.
And later: Straight up. Now, tell me what‘s the deal with Paula Abdul now? Is the fighting (ph) “Idol” judge costing the show‘s credibility? We‘ll show you here latest televised breakdown coming up. What is wrong with her?
SCARBOROUGH: You know, you may think you‘ve seen everything in “DATELINE‘s” “To Catch a Predator” sex stings, but after years of Chris Hansen‘s sex sting operations and dozens of busts, believe it or not, there‘s even more shocking footage that was left on the editing room floor. Once again, we want to show you some of the outrageous moments that were left on that cutting room floor in “Predator Raw: The Unseen Tapes.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go ahead and turn around for me. Put your hands behind your back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you just (INAUDIBLE) because...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let you go?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... I have a school that‘s starting out, and I‘m -
I‘m—I haven‘t done any—any (INAUDIBLE) (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Turn around and put your hands behind your back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) please.
CHRIS HANSEN, “DATELINE”: One of the questions I was asked most after the second investigation was, Why aren‘t these guys being arrested once they left? And I felt that we had some responsibility to at least examine a way where police could do a parallel investigation and these guys would face the criminal justice system once we got finished talking to them. We‘re talking about guys that brought everything from lubricant to condoms to alcohol to food, sex toys. I mean, these guys were prepared to fulfill their fantasy. Instead, once they walked out, they were cuffed, taken away, interrogated and prosecuted.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have anything illegal on you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... drugs or anything like that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please! (INAUDIBLE) two months ago, sir!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does two months ago usually mean two days or two hours?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m on probation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you on probation for?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For—for possession (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For possession of meth?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... get rid of it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I‘m not trying to get rid of it, sir! I really am not!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, look at that!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know. It‘s only because I had to sign for it.
But I haven‘t used it in—since I got into trouble with it back in July.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You‘ll receive a date—when you bail, they‘ll tell you when to appear for it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I was going to have sex with her, I would have brought condoms, OK?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn‘t look good for you because you‘re lying the whole time. We already have what you said. So when you say...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I‘m...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait. Let me finish. When you say the whole time that all this was for—all this was for was to have—to come meet a girl to play video games, that‘s a lie!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You‘re talking to this girl about doing all kinds of things.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, I—I‘m doing it out of a fantasy, not out of
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How can it be a fantasy when you send a picture of your penis to her?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said (INAUDIBLE) sex tapes, and she said...
SCARBOROUGH: OK, 12 years old. The girl‘s 12 that you‘re talking to.
HANSEN: Once the men were arrested, they were taken to a makeshift booking area where they were interviewed by detectives. We were able to videotape that entire process, but I didn‘t get a chance to see it until afterwards. And it produced some compelling moments, I mean, especially when it came to, for instance, the man who was an agent with Homeland Security. He showed up while they were arresting somebody else, so they had to grab him in the street. I never got a chance to talk to him. His interview with police is very telling.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My father was a police officer. I was a police officer. I worked at Department of Homeland Security, OK? I understand you guys have a job to do, and I‘m not trying to tell you anything else other than that. I swear to God, as God is my witness—I‘m wearing a St. Michael‘s medal right now, OK—I was not going to do anything with her. May God—may the Lord upstairs strike me dead. I have no intentions on doing anything with that little girl at all, period. I swear to God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you can sit here and tell me that you didn‘t have any intent to have sex this time?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, I can believe that. But I‘m telling you, I don‘t believe it that you didn‘t intend to have sex at some point with this girl.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I swear to God, Officer, I...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It would have happened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, I swear to God it was all...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I guarantee you, it would have happened.
You‘re no different (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m not...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every other—every guy, first time, third time meeting, fifth time meeting, it would have happened because you meet the first time, it‘s going to happen. There‘s no reason to meet at all. Reality sets in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look—look, yes, reality sets in right when I stepped out of my front door.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You‘re right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It did.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) And you‘re exactly right. That‘s where the problem occurred.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The minute you stepped out your front door...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the only...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... you‘re headed toward having a meet with a 13-year-old girl to have sex with her.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the only...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That‘s where the crime occurred.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whatever (INAUDIBLE) right? (INAUDIBLE) you have it, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, I have it, but the—here‘s the thing, see, is that when it comes to the district attorney‘s office and what they‘re going to do to you—OK, look at—listen to me. Listen to me. What they‘re going to do is that they look to see if somebody is sorry for what they did, if they know that they made a mistake and they owned up to it. But if you sit here and say, All we talked about, to me—all we talked about was going to play video games, then guess what? They know that Singh (ph) is lying.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘d like to speak with an attorney (INAUDIBLE) attorney, one will be appointed to represent you (INAUDIBLE) Do you understand these rights?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Having these rights in mind, do you wish to talk to me?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And of course, you can catch the second edition of “Predator Raw: The Unseen Tapes” in its entirety Saturday at 10:0 PM on MSNBC.
But coming up here next, another sex bust, but this time in Washington, D.C., Where politicians and pundits are very nervous tonight, very nervous. I placed a couple of calls. They‘re scared. They‘re hoping they‘re not going to be outed by the D.C. madam. But is ABC doing the right thing helping her? And if this is really news, why have they been holding for a week and teasing it during sweeps?
But first, the return of Regis. He‘s back, and he‘s better than ever!
Check him out in “Must See S.C.”
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, it‘s time to horse (ph) up and come inside. It‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” some video you got to see. First up:
Regis is back on TV after having triple bypass surgery, and David Letterman proves once again that he‘s good as new.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell me about the pancakes. I don‘t know what they‘re deep-frying those pancakes in. It was like a funnel cake. It was like a donut that we poured syrup on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And finally, Jimmy Kimmel continues his attack on the FCC in the most recent “Unnecessary Censorship.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I was here in Cleveland on Good Friday, I (DELETED) the police chief live on the 6:00 o‘clock news.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who‘s going to be doing the (DELETED) out on the campaign with you and Hillary?
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Somebody else.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It‘s the world‘s first team-based mixed martial arts league. After three minutes of (DELETED)-kicking action, the fighters retreat to their corner.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Oscar!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, will you get lost? I‘m busy (DELETED) my animals!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Oh! You know what? “Sesame Street‘s” changed so much.
(INAUDIBLE) Paula Abdul. She‘s at it again, acting, well, kind of off her rocker while hawking her jewelry on QVC. Is this the footage that‘s proven she‘s lost it?
But first: D.C.‘s dirty deeds. Why is ABC News helping a D.C. madam name names during sweeps week? Plus: Her newsletter to escorts—nail color has to match the lipstick, ladies. And a little T&A goes a long way.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, ABC News is getting ready to name names in the D.C. madam sex scandal. The network is pouring over four years of documents that were given to them by the madam, which could uncover some high-level officials whose careers will be over in a matter of days.
ABC correspondent Brian Ross is set to air an explosive report on Friday, revealing just who was involved. And, today, he released some of the madam‘s newsletters to her escorts, including one from 1994 -- the year I got to Congress—saying, quote, “Congress is back in session. This always helps to boost business.” Gulp. And another reminded her escorts to, quote, “destroy the data immediately,” adding, quote, without being overly vulgar, “a pair of T&A without accompanying brains, sophistication, looks and carriage just won‘t cut it in this business, or at least not with this agency.”
So does ABC News, NBC, other networks have the right to know who‘s on that list? Is it any of their business? Is it any of your business?
Here now, Matthew Felling, media director of the Center for Media and Public Affairs, Emily Heil, columnist for “Roll Call” newspaper, and MSNBC political analyst Craig Crawford.
Let me start with you, Matthew Felling. Should ABC news, just an outstanding news organization, really be doing the bidding of a hooker?
MATTHEW FELLING, THE CENTER FOR MEDIA AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Well, I think a lot of news organizations are out there thinking to themselves, “You know what? I‘m glad that she went to Brian Ross with this,” because it‘s not a decision that they would feel comfortable making. I don‘t think a whole lot of newspaper paper, I don‘t think a whole lot of TV people would be very happy doing this.
And in D.C. right now, it‘s like that old Edgar Allen Poe “Pit and the Pendulum,” where it just gets closer and closer, and we‘re just about to draw blood on Friday night. And D.C. is kind of in a state of suspended animation. Should ABC be running this? I think that, if they can double check, triple check, and make sure that these things are legitimate, because there really is no smoking gun in a lot of these cases. There‘s no Gap dress, in the case of Monica Lewinsky.
And I also think that, if you are a public figure, it is far more relevant, in terms of whether your identity is attached to morals and ethics, like the gentleman, Tobias, at the State Department, who was against sex trafficking and prostitution in Africa. But when it goes from a dot-gov sort of person, who works from the government, to a dot-com person, who is in the private sector, it is unethical, it‘s pretty immoral, probably illegal, but it‘s none of my business.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, and ABC‘s Brian Ross has been hinting for days about who‘s on the list, which, of course, is a problem for me, because if it is news, any journalist will tell you that you get that news out. You don‘t put it out in drips and drabs during sweeps week to titillate your viewers, to try to get them to watch your special on Friday. But this is what Brian Ross said yesterday on “Good Morning America.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course, so who else is on this list?
BRIAN ROSS, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it‘s a long list. We‘ve been going through the phone records for the last four years, provided to us by Jeane Palfrey, double checking the names. And there are some very prominent people, lobbyists, lawyers, members of the military, other people in the Bush administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Emily, ABC has had this list for a pretty long time. I mean, they‘re hyping it. Is it a coincidence that they‘re hyping it and building it up to Friday during sweeps week?
EMILY HEIL, “ROLL CALL” COLUMNIST: Well, they‘ve certainly got us all on the edge of our seats. And I think that‘s the intended purpose of it. And I think that Jeane Palfrey‘s lawyers have been involved in this, too, and they‘ve done a good job of doing drips and drabs to keep everyone on the edge of their seats.
So sweeps week, who knows? But this is their story, and it‘s theirs to do what they want with it, because of this agreement that they have. And so they have the keys to the kingdom, and it‘s theirs when they want to put it out there.
SCARBOROUGH: And, you know, we called ABC News for a comment today, and they gave us this statement. Quote, “ABC News is actively reporting this story, and our investigative team is proceeding thoughtfully and carefully to determine what is newsworthy and what isn‘t. Simply because we learn a name in the course of our reporting doesn‘t mean it‘s going to be published. The test for us is always its newsworthiness.”
But, Craig Crawford, I go to you. If this is newsworthy, why have they been holding it for so long? Why haven‘t got the information out, when they‘ve been holding these names for some time? Would ABC News have us believe that they just so happen to drop it, again, in the middle of sweeps month, and drop it at a time after they‘ve been hyping it throughout the week?
CRAIG CRAWFORD, MSNBC ANALYST: Yes, there‘s certainly an element of tease here, but I can imagine they need to take some time to at least devise and apply a standard that makes sense.
You know, if there is a case of gross hypocrisy by a public figure, and that public figure‘s agenda, this can be newsworthy, as we saw in the State Department official‘s case. But I think it‘s important to remember:
The federal government started this. The Department of Justice is prosecuting this woman as part of a crackdown on prostitution, so any member of the federal government, anywhere even remotely associated with that effort certainly is fair game.
And the other thing the media has got to worry about and take some time about is there‘s new standards in media law now that you can even, in certain circumstances, report the truth about someone that puts them in, quote, “a false light” and be subject to a lawsuit. So for those reasons, I can understand ABC having to take the time, but they don‘t need to tease it like this.
SCARBOROUGH: No, they are teasing an awful lot, but I think we all agree that the only reason these names should come out is if there is hypocrisy attached. And, of course, there‘s certainly laughter attached to this. Nobody in Washington is laughing, but, you know, these D.C. sex scandals, they‘re always easy targets for late-night comedians. Jay Leno and David Letterman took their best shots last night. Watch this, Matthew.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY LENO, HOST, “THE TONIGHT SHOW”: Massages? Any women buy this thought? Honey, my neck is a little sore. You know, I‘m going to go downtown and get a hooker for that. These were $300-an-hour prostitutes, $300-an-hour, which is pretty amazing when you realize John Edwards is paying $400. All he got was a haircut.
And, of course, when the White House heard about this scandal, they were relieved. Finally, a Republican caught in a sex scandal with a woman. Thank God. After Mark Foley, thank you very much. And she‘s an adult!
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, “LATE SHOW”: Here‘s good news: The feds have arrested the madam who was in charge of the ring of prostitutes. No word yet on Osama, but they got the madam who was—they got her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Matthew Felling, where does this end up? Should the media really be in the middle of this?
FELLING: No, but I think we saw the lawyer for the madam saying yesterday, “No law is broken as long as you stay on your stomach.” And with Clinton we had, “I smoked, but I didn‘t inhale.” And with this scandal it‘s going to be, “I was rubbed. I didn‘t roll over.” That‘s the punch line.
SCARBOROUGH: Never rolled over, no happy ending. Emily, no happy endings in Washington, D.C., tonight. I guess they‘re still on edge, right?
HEIL: They sure are. I mean, there‘s a lot of whispering going on. But I think this is the kind of sex scandal that everyone can feel good about. Mark Foley—that scandal made everyone feel uncomfortable. It involved some elements that made everyone uncomfortable. And this is the kind of sex scandal that you can talk about and sort of enjoy as spectator sport, which is really what‘s going on in Washington right now.
FELLING: A feel good sex scandal.
CRAWFORD: Just in time for the summer.
SCARBOROUGH: I was going to say, ah, the sex scandal we can all feel good about. Thank you so much, Matthew Felling, who never rolled over, Emily Heil, and Craig Crawford. Greatly appreciate it.
And still ahead here, who is this woman to judge anybody? Paula Abdul out of control again, caught on tape again. Has the “Idol” judge finally gone over the edge? And Danny Bonaduce is going to be joining us live for that, next.
Plus, in “Hollyweird,” Lindsay Lohan blames the media for not giving her an Oscar. Sure, that‘s why Herbie‘s fully loaded love bug was tragically overlooked.
SCARBOROUGH: I know we ask it a lot, but it seems like we need to ask it again: Has Paula Abdul finally lost it? Now, on Friday, the “American Idol” judge was trying to promote her jewelry line on QVC, but just live we‘ve seen before, she couldn‘t seem to string a sentence together.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAULA ABDUL, JUDGE, “AMERICAN IDOL”: And it‘s just a nice piece to wear. You could wear it with a shirt, a suit, and, you know, you can wear it around your jean—into the area of your...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the belt loop.
ABDUL: In your belt loop.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
ABDUL: And I‘m creating my own (INAUDIBLE) whoa, hi, everybody, it‘s my anniversary. You‘ve all worn me. You‘ve all seen me wearing this exact jewelry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Good lord, it sounded like me four years ago on TV. When we asked Paula‘s rep for a comment about her appearance, he said, “Paula had a great time and sold a lot of beautiful merchandise.” Of course, they don‘t think she could remember what a great time she had, but, hey, you know, those of who haven‘t shouldn‘t cast the first stone.
Of course, this isn‘t the first time that Paula has put bizarre performance on live TV. So how is it that Paula claims she‘s never been drunk in her life? And is she damaging “American Idol‘s” reputation with her antics?
Here now, former “American Idol” contestant Carmen Rasmusen. Her new single is “Nothing Like the Summer.” And Danny Bonaduce from “The Partridge Family,” VH1‘s “Breaking Bonaduce,” and “The Adam Carolla Show” on 97.1 Free FM on the West Coast.
Danny, let me start with you. This woman says that she‘s never been inebriated, doesn‘t have problems with pills or drugs. Judging from that tape and that tape only, do you buy it?
DANNY BONADUCE, RADIO HOST: Well, first of all, I can‘t imagine that she actually said the word “inebriated,” nor could she spell it. I think, when I quit drinking, which has now been a year and 20 days ago, what the first thing I did was I told my wife all my tricks, how I drank behind her back and didn‘t get caught. One was I admitted I don‘t like mints. So if I come home with a mouthful of mints, I‘ve been drinking, honey. But the big one I told her was, you‘ll know I‘ve been drinks if you look at me and you say, “Honey, have you been drinking?” Because you wouldn‘t ask if the answer wasn‘t yes. Why would you ask? America has now asked 15 times, how drunk is this woman? The answer is very. She‘s blowing a 2.5, if she‘s blowing anything at all.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, there‘s no doubt about it.
And, Carmen, I know you know Paula. I know you like Paula. We‘ve had you on before. You‘ve always defended her. But, my God, I mean, you look at that tape, she obviously is incapacitated for some reason or another.
CARMEN RASMUSEN, FORMER “AMERICAN IDOL” CONTESTANT: And I won‘t deny that. There‘s obviously something wrong, and she‘s my friend. And I‘m not rooting for her to fail. And I hope that she pulls through this. And I think that, because the “American Idol” producers have set high standards for the contestants, I really think they should set the same high standards for the judges, as well. And I think they should look at the situation. Obviously, she needs help. And if she refuses to, I think that her position should be in jeopardy.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, you know, during a TV interview promoting “Idol” earlier this season, Paula appeared to be a little out of sorts. I want you all to take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Simon has actually said that this had some of the worst singers that he‘s ever heard. What did you think of the singers in Seattle?
ABDUL: Well, I have to agree with Simon.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, no.
ABDUL: Hey, you know what? It is what it is. And it was brilliant. Any publicity is good publicity. You got to learn to eat it up and embrace it and say, Seattle had the best delusional people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Carmen, FOX‘s handlers let her go out, not only on that, but let her go out on other shows. Do you think FOX is actually using this problem as a sideshow to promote the show?
RASMUSEN: Oh, no, I don‘t. I think that Paula Abdul, she‘s going through a lot. And who knows if she‘s drunk? She says she‘s on back medication and that she has a lot happening right now. Like I said, I think that she needs help, and I really am rooting for her to get back on her feet. And I don‘t think that FOX is trying to exploit her in any way or trying to make her look bad, but I think it would be in their best interests if they helped her out.
SCARBOROUGH: But you know, Danny Bonaduce, they have allowed her to continue going out. On that episode, when she did that interview, there were FOX reps around her. They let her do other interviews, satellite interviews, across the country. It seems to me that this is more controversy for “Idol,” which means bigger ratings, right?
BONADUCE: Well, it certainly seems to me that they are in the position not to allow her to go out like that. And I try to be honest with you: I enjoy it. You know, I am—you know, I‘m in currently reasonable condition, and Paula Abdul is the car crash. So I kind of like the spotlight being shined that way. Whether it‘s responsible or not, I don‘t really care. I‘m not really concerned about Paula Abdul‘s health and/or the welfare of “American Idol.” Everybody‘s going to be fine.
RASMUSEN: I am.
BONADUCE: The woman is either going to cop to whatever very serious problems she has. I mean, if she‘s not drunk, she‘s got Tourette‘s and really needs to check that.
SCARBOROUGH: But, Carmen, why aren‘t there people around taking care of her? I mean, if you went or if I went out and acted like that six months or a year ago, our families would intervene. Nobody‘s intervening for her. Why not?
RASMUSEN: Absolutely. I have no idea. I think that she absolutely should get help, and I think that it‘s important that she gets back on her feet. And I don‘t know why people aren‘t coming to her rescue.
Danny, I think that you can agree that maybe sometimes, if you have a problem, it‘s hard to admit that there‘s something wrong. And maybe it‘s hard for people to rally around you and say, “Hey, look, we want to help you out.” And so maybe “American Idol” producers have tried to approach her and she‘s refused help. And like I said, if that‘s happened, I think that possibly her position as a judge could be in jeopardy and maybe she would be off the show.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s time for intervention. Thank you so much, Carmen.
Greatly appreciate it, as always.
RASMUSEN: Thanks, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Danny, stick around. We‘ll be right back. Coming up in “Hollyweird,” is Britney Spears going to be a Pussycat Dollar? Maybe one of those cats with a shaved head, like Mr. Bigglesworth. What?
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, tell your shrink you‘re done talking. Just prescribe the meds already.
It‘s time for “Hollyweird.” First up, Britney Spears. Could the pop tart become the next Pussycat Doll? Still with us to talk about and everything “Hollyweird,” Danny Bonaduce. And also editor-at-large for “Star” magazine, Jill Dobson.
Jill, what‘s going on with Britney now?
JILL DOBSON, “STAR” MAGAZINE: Well, there‘s a new rumor that Britney may be joining the dance troupe, the Pussycat Dolls. She was recently seen leaving a dance studio at the same time as the founder of the Pussycat Dolls had just been at the studio, so people thought, “Was that supposed to be a meeting? What‘s going on there?”
And, Britney, by the way, is looking fantastic lately. “Star” magazine is reporting she‘s been losing a pound a day over the last two weeks. And we tell you how she did it, and so people are saying, hey, she looks good. She‘s been dancing. Maybe that‘s her next step.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, there are lots of ways to look weight, and I‘m sure Britney‘s good at all of them. But is she going to be a Pussycat Doll or not?
DOBSON: You know, I don‘t know. I think that it would be a great move her to get involved with these girls. And lots of people perform with them just for a brief time. Christina Aguilera was one of them. So Britney might want to just show up, show up, but she‘s in great shape, just like these young girls, and then get back to work on her album.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, they actually asked me to perform with them last year. I couldn‘t do it because Tucker was off with “Dancing with the Stars.” We couldn‘t have two people in L.A. at the same time.
Now, Danny, I want to bring you in here. According to “Nylon” magazine, Lindsey Lohan is saying the paparazzi is keeping her from winning an Oscar. I mean, I agree. I saw “Herbie the Love Bug.” I thought it was a spellbinding performance. Four stars. What do you think, Danny?
BONADUCE: Well, I think Lindsay Lohan blaming the paparazzi for her not getting an Academy Award is halfway true, to be honest. I think it‘s the paparazzi, plus her total lack of talent that is going to keep her from winning the Academy Award. And I think...
SCARBOROUGH: So it‘s six in one half, dozen of the other, right?
BONADUCE: Exactly. I think Lindsay has forgotten that she doesn‘t really do anything for a living but get pursued. The moment they stop pursuing her, she‘s out of work. She‘s not a real actress or a real singer. She is someone to be ogled, and watched, and wait for her to fall down in public. That‘s what she does, and she doesn‘t realize it‘s become her job.
SCARBOROUGH: She does it very well, too, I may say. And, Danny, let me ask you about Bruce Willis, because this is sort of an interesting thing. Bruce Willis is telling “People” magazine he still loves his ex-wife, Demi Moore, and even takes her on vacations with her, and also Ashton Kutcher. Isn‘t this a little strange, Danny? I mean, shouldn‘t we just like cut the cord right now?
BONADUCE: I‘ve got to tell you, to be honest with you, it‘s a little civilized for me. I‘m a big fan of Bruce Willis, and I also think Ashton is a very nice kid, but, as you know, my wife, who I love very much, just filed for divorce. And it‘s as friendly as possible. But if Ashton Kutcher shows up at my house to pick up my wife, you‘re going to be picking up little pieces of Ashton all over the lawn.
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s what I like about you, Danny. You‘re a uniter, not a divider.
Jill Dobson, what about this? You know, this whole Demi Moore and Bruce Willis thing, it‘s been high drama for the past six, seven years in “Hollyweird.”
DOBSON: Yes, these guys have a really great relationship. And Bruce owns a home out in Turks and Caicos, and he recently invited Demi and Ashton to come visit him. And they all are seeming to get along. And they all say they‘re doing it for the sake of the kids. And I applaud them for being able to be that mature about it, because I think that‘d be a real struggle for just about everyone on the planet, but they seem to be making it happen.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, no doubt about it.
And, finally, it‘s a sad day in the history of catalog shopping. Brazilian model Gisele is parting ways with “Victoria‘s Secret.” Danny, say it ain‘t so. Say it ain‘t so.
BONADUCE: I say I don‘t care. Put another hot chick in a pair of underwear and I‘m on my way to the store. Nobody cares. I don‘t know why they pay these chicks over minimum wage. Who cares?
SCARBOROUGH: You‘re basically telling me these hot models are fungible commodities? Get one out, put one in, you‘re fine?
BONADUCE: I live in Los Angeles. I‘m going to fall over one of these chicks on the way to my car.
SCARBOROUGH: You know what? I need to move to your neighborhood. Oh, wait, no, I don‘t. My wife is beautiful. Any way, I better just stop right there.
Jill Dobson, Danny Bonaduce, thank you so much. I want to thank all of you for being with us. And you know what? Tonight is the four-year anniversary, of course, as Keith Olbermann told you earlier, of T.J. joining SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
Let‘s put up a picture of T.J. T.J., thanks for the four years. It‘s been wonderful. We‘ll see you tomorrow night in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. I want to see that picture again, man. Good night.
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