Guests: Arianna Huffington, Michael Crowley, Steve Adubato, John Ridley, Paul Waldman, Bob Kohn, Alexandra Wentworth, David Caplan
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: And tonight, we are also live in Los Angeles for that debate that is going to be held up in the Reagan Library tomorrow night. But in a moment here, Bill O‘Reilly says he never engages in personal attacks. But a new university study proves he hurls every seven second in his “Talking Points Memo.” That story straight ahead.
But first, the war over the war rages on across Washington as Congress fails to override the president‘s veto of a bill that would get our troops home in a year. Now the president invited congressional leaders to the White House to hug it out, but earlier in the day, the long knives were out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER: Now into the fifth year of a failed policy, this administration should get a clue, it‘s not working.
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SCARBOROUGH: Mr. Bush answered those attacks by trying to once again link Iraq with 9/11.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For America the decision we face in Iraq is not whether we ought to take sides in the civil war, it‘s whether we stay in the fight against the same international terrorist network that attacked us on 9/11. Even if you think it was a mistake to go into Iraq, it would be a far greater mistake to pull out now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And the presidential candidates got into the act, with John Edwards releasing a commercial urging Congress to stand up to Mr. Bush.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don‘t back down to President Bush.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Send him the same bill again and again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Joe Biden‘s message was a bit more blunt, promising America that Congress would shove the troop withdrawal timeline down the president‘s throat.
It‘s uglier than ever in the nation‘s capital, but at issue here is the future of a bloody war that seems to have no end in sight as long the president keeps vetoing the Democrats‘ bill.
Here now, Arianna Huffington, she is founder of The Huffington Post. We also have Michael Crowley, senior editor of The New Republic. And two-time presidential contender and former White House communications director, Pat Buchanan.
Pat, it is getting ugly out there and the president is once again—and I think this is fascinating, the president today once again links the war in Iraq with September 11th. Is that going to scare Democrats off or just enrage them so much that they are going to stand up to the president and send him back another bill with another timeline in it?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, that is not going to scare the Democrats off. But what is going to bother them is the perception that they are not simply desirous of deadlines and to get the troops out, but the perception that they may be obstructing or sabotaging the war or undercutting the troops or substituting political judgment of politicians in Washington for the commanders in the field.
And the longer the delays continue for these $100 billion, which I think eventually are going to go, I think the greater the Democrats take. If I were them...
SCARBOROUGH: ... we really don‘t know who is going to get the blame for that at this point, do we?
BUCHANAN: Well, no. Here is what—if I were the Democrats, I would say, look, you know, I made my point, see, I don‘t think that—I think the Democrat Party will break apart. Edwards has already started it. He will try to force Obama to come out and say, don‘t give the president the money. Hillary is really on the spot there. The wedge I talked about, Joe, is beginning to be driven into the Democratic Party. And we will see it over the next month.
SCARBOROUGH: Arianna Huffington, is this bad news for Democrats like Barack Obama who is going to have to decide whether he is going to stand up to the president of the United States on this war or back down and go along with other Democrats who will fund this war without giving America the timeline that so many Democrats want?
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, THE HUFFINTON POST: You know, Joe, I think this is good news for Democrats if they are going to real leadership. I am delighted to see John Edwards showing real leadership. Russ Feingold had a great post on The Huffington Post today saying he absolutely intends not to back down. This is not a political decision. This is a moral decision.
If you really believe that this is an immoral and unnecessary war that is making America less secure, that is the key, less able to actually challenge our enemies across the world, then this is the right thing to do. And this president is determined to take the country over the cliff just in order to prove himself right in Iraq even though we know he can‘t do that. So Democrats need to stand up to him. And there were two lonely Republicans, remember, today, who voted...
SCARBOROUGH: Very lonely Republicans, Arianna.
HUFFINGTON: But still, good for them, you know, who voted to override the president‘s veto.
SCARBOROUGH: Arianna, do you think the Democrats—some Democrats are going to be cowed by the president talking about September 11th and the war in Iraq being lengthened? If we back down in Iraq, then we are only rewarding the terrorists that attacked us on 911?
HUFFINGTON: I hope not, Joe. You know, this is like going back to an old mine that has been exhausted. It is the same old fear-mongering. And I don‘t think it is working with the public, otherwise the president‘s approval ratings would not be where they are.
But you know, our lizard brains that response to that kind of fear-mongering are still there. So there may be some Democrats, like the seven, who voted not to override the president‘s veto today, who may be cowed.
But as long as enough stand up to the president—you know, I agree with Pat, actually, at least about this wedge between the Democrats in determining who are going to show real leadership and who will not.
SCARBOROUGH: And Michael Crowley, of course, this Democratic presidential race is about to get extraordinarily interesting. Now these candidates, some of them are now promising to shove a timeline down the president‘s throat. And of course we are talking about Joe Biden there also.
Also John Edwards suggested the same thing. Is the troop withdrawal about to become the biggest issue in Democratic presidential politics? And is it something that is going to really put a guy like Barack Obama on the line?
MICHAEL CROWLEY, THE NEW REPUBLIC: I think so. I mean, John Edwards has a real luxury here because he would not actually have to cast a vote—a tangible you can point to and say, on this date, he voted to quote-unquote “cut off funding for our troops in the field.”
So he has this great freedom. The guys who are not in Congress right now—running for president from Capitol Hill is a nightmare. And Hillary and Obama are beginning to learn this. So yes, I think this is only going to become a bigger issue among the candidates.
And look, when they first passed this bill, a lot of liberals at the last minute—they only voted for it at the last minute. And they were thinking about withholding their votes. They didn‘t think the bill was tough enough. And at the end of the day they said, we are going to go for party unity. We don‘t want Nancy Pelosi to have stories written about her that she couldn‘t hold our coalition together.
But there is much of an every man for himself dynamic in the Senate where you have so many candidates running for president. So the pressures there are going to be really fascinating to watch. And it is going to be very difficult for those candidates who are in the Senate.
That is why, Bob Dole, you remember, resigned from the Senate when he ran for president in 1996. He said, you know, I‘m out of here, it is just not worth the trouble.
SCARBOROUGH: Don‘t want to cast the difficult votes. I‘m wondering, Michael, what your take is on the president, once again, linking September 11th and the war in Iraq. I mean, this is obviously something, we heard this right after 9/11, we heard about a meeting with Czech officials, that was disproven later on.
The president kept talking about the link. The polls showed Americans thought there was a link. But again, here we are going into our fifth year, it has been disproven, and yet the president of the United States today, once again, is trying to link the war in Iraq with 9/11, basically saying if you listen to the Democrats, if you get out of Iraq, then you are folding to the very people that attacked us in New York and Washington.
CROWLEY: Yes. Joe, I don‘t know what they are thinking in the White House, because that line just makes no sense to me. It sounds very tone-deaf. I don‘t get the feeling that the average American has a visceral fear that terrorists are going to come and get us as a result of withdrawal from Iraq.
I mean, part of it just that 9/11 -- it has been a long time, we haven‘t had another attack. To some extent this all seems somewhat less scary, not to minimize it. But I just think viscerally I don‘t people are persuaded by that. I think that the more compelling arguments have to do regional stability and chaos breaking loose in the Middle East and oil prices rocketing up. I mean, that all hits home with me much more.
But this idea that planes are going to fly into buildings a week after we withdraw, the implication there, it just seems off-key to me and I don‘t know who is buying it.
BUCHANAN: Joe, let me tell you where it does work. There is no doubt—look, I don‘t believe anybody really believes that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with 9/11. Iraqis were never behind any terrorist attack—I mean, and there is no plot, if they ever had one, that succeeded.
Where it works is this. There is no doubt that al Qaeda is all over Anbar province right now. And if we pull out, they will have a victory there. And if they get out of there, they are going to be moving around the Middle East. That is credible.
The second credible point the president makes for me at least is just the clip you used. He said even if you opposed this war and you thought it was a mistake, it would be a greater mistake to get out. Now I don‘t know if that is true, but I fear the president may really have a point that this thing could really come crashing down and we have a general calamity on our hands even worse than we have got now.
That is what a lot of us—that is why a lot of us are not saying, OK, let‘s turn around and get out.
SCARBOROUGH: I was going to ask you, Pat, whether you bought the president‘s logic. Do you personally feel if we get out of Iraq, that is a victory for al Qaeda?
BUCHANAN: I think if we get out of Iraq, the people who ran us out of Iraq will overthrow the government and it will come down. And it is Katie-bar-the-door in that region. I fear that. I would pray it doesn‘t happen. I know folks say, don‘t worry about it, Pat. You know, the tribal chiefs will take care of al Qaeda and the rest of it. It‘s because I am afraid of that and I think a lot of other people fear the president has got a point here that we are not behind—you know, an immediate withdrawal, we would want to see if the surge can accomplish something.
SCARBOROUGH: Arianna, do you believe that if we back out of Iraq, that basically we are handing the keys over to the same people that blew up the Twin Towers and also attacked the Pentagon and it‘s a victory for Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda?
HUFFINGTON: You know, Joe, I think that conflating of al Qaeda, Saddam, Iraq, and 9/11 is really one of the greatest fraudulent arguments made by the administration. And implicitly, as you said, the president continues to make it.
I am much more afraid of the fact that while we are in Iraq, we continue to be seen as an occupying force, we continue to stoke anti-American feeling. And basically we continue to weaken the American military and make us less able to deal with the multiple threats across the across the globe.
Also you see the president keeps defining success down. Today basically he said to us that success doesn‘t mean the end of violence. And after all, he said there is violence across America. It was just a really bizarre argument. And remember, success used to be a stable Middle East, then it became a stable Iraq, then it became an Iraq without a civil, now it‘s an Iraq where there isn‘t as much violence as there is now.
BUCHANAN: Hey, Joe, who blew up the golden temple? Who do you think blew it up?
SCARBOROUGH: Well, of course, we know. It was the Sunnis. It was al Qaeda.
BUCHANAN: All right. Al Qaeda is there is what you are saying. They are there now, they were not there before.
CROWLEY: But, Joe, I mean, the essential point here is that our presence in Iraq has been a victory for al Qaeda already. So what are you comparing it to? It‘s a recruiting tool. It is a humiliation for America.
BUCHANAN: Look, I don‘t deny that. I agree. Michael, I agree 100 percent with you. I think it is—we are recruiting the enemy. Our presence there created the insurgency. All I‘m saying is, if we turn around and walk out, I‘m afraid it could be far worse in the Middle East. And a lot of people do who oppose the war, like General Zinni. He was against going in.
HUFFINGTON: But, you know, Pat, aren‘t you afraid of what is happening in Afghanistan? Aren‘t you afraid of the fact that we don‘t have the resources we need to have in Afghanistan?
BUCHANAN: I don‘t think we are going to win in Afghanistan, I‘ll be honest, because I have never seen us win—or the West win guerilla war when you have got a privileged sanctuary right next door you can retreat to after the fighting is over.
CROWLEY: Pat, one last point. I have yet to see a persuasive argument that given the military and the budget we have now, we can actually salvage this. So at some point you have to cut your losses. We could keep hoping that something materializes miraculously. I don‘t think we can do it. Even the surge is pushing us to the limit.
BUCHANAN: Michael, I think when we hit September, if General Petraeus says we haven‘t done it and it is going to take five year, I would say the American people won‘t sustain it. I think we have got to turn around and take the consequences.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Pat, and that is what I said a couple of nights ago. And certainly you agree with me, don‘t you, that if we had maybe 250,000, 350,000 troops in there, if we were willing to commit to a decade, we could do what we needed to do.
But with 140,000, 150,000 troops in for another year, there is no way we are going to be able to accomplish the mission, right?
HUFFINGTON: In fact, we are not giving General Petraeus the numbers that according to his own counterinsurgency manual...
SCARBOROUGH: Arianna, can you explain that for a second? You wrote a great post on The Huffington Post last week. I remember e-mailing you about it, that Petraeus actually—we are told time and time again, Petraeus wrote the book on the insurgency. That is why we are told we need to bow down to Petraeus. I agree. Everybody says this man knows how to fight these type of wars better than anybody else.
But as you point out, using that playbook that Petraeus wrote, George Bush and Congress are not giving Petraeus the type of troops he says in that book he needs to win in Iraq .
HUFFINGTON: Exactly. And we are not giving them to him because we don‘t have them quite simply. And I can just imagine a few years from now, General Petraeus, like George Tenet now, writing a book in which he says how he knew all long the surge was not going to work because they didn‘t give him what he had said in his own book he needed. That is what they do.
You know, they going along. There are a lot of these that Vaclav Havel has called collaborators, people with a collaborator‘s soul who don‘t stand up to their bosses when the time is the right time to stand up to them.
BUCHANAN: I think to call General Petraeus a collaborator, it seems to me...
SCARBOROUGH: No, I think she was calling George Tenet...
HUFFINGTON: A collaborator with George Bush.
HUFFINGTON: And George Tenet.
BUCHANAN: She‘s calling Petraeus a collaborator...
HUFFINGTON: I‘m saying that General Petraeus knows better than what he is saying right now.
BUCHANAN: Do you think he is lying to us? Do you think he is lying to us?
HUFFINGTON: I am saying that in the same way that George Tenet lied to us, and the same way that Colin Powell lied to us, a lot of these men who otherwise know what is right for the country, are going along and betraying their better judgments to go along with their bosses.
BUCHANAN: I think with regard to General Petraeus, I don‘t agree with you and I don‘t believe it.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know what, Arianna, I agreed with your column last week that they are not giving General Petraeus what he needs. I disagree though, I would not call him a collaborator the same way I would call George Tenet a collaborator. But we will see. Who knows? Maybe he will get the Presidential Medal of Freedom and then he can write his book, make $4 million. We will see. But from everything I have heard, General Petraeus is a stand up guy.
Arianna Huffington, thank you so much for being with us.
HUFFINGTON: Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: Michael Crowley...
CROWLEY: Thanks, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: ... Pat Buchanan, the same. Thank you all so much. And coming up, you know, CBS‘s decision to fire Don Imus may cost them $40 million. We‘re going to be looking at his possible lawsuit against the company and why they may have been encouraging the shock jock to make those type of remarks that got him fired.
Plus, a closer look at the May Day mayhem here in Los Angeles. You are going to see the shocking riot footage that has a lot of people accusing the LAPD of police brutality.
And later, speaking of brutality, all of O‘Reilly‘s tricks exposed. A new university study breaks down Bill‘s behavior and finds he insults people every seven seconds and uses fear to keep viewers watching. That‘s the beginning of those university results, I can‘t wait to dig into them a little more. We‘ll do that when we return in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: We are in Los Angeles and tonight the city is reeling after a May Day immigration rally got ugly fast with billy clubs and rubber bullets flying into a crowd of thousands that included journalists who were broadcasting live.
Now an investigation is under way right now as the LAPD once again finds itself under a microscope. NBC‘s Peter Alexander is in MacArthur Park in downtown Los Angeles, which was the scene of yesterday‘s events. And has this report.
PETER ALEXANDER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Joe, good evening. This is exactly where that clash took place. After a day of demonstrations that most people had described as both peaceful and positive, it turned violent.
ALEXANDER (voice-over): The May Day march turned into a melee. After a day of peaceful immigration protests a few thousand demonstrators had gathered in a downtown Los Angeles park. Authorities say several people in the crowd threw rocks and bottles at officers.
Police in riot gear responded, firing foam bullets and using batons to disperse the crowd.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Move back or you are under arrest!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can‘t do that! You cannot do that! This is a public park! We have the right to be here!
ALEXANDER: This man, hit by two rubber bullets said, I don‘t care if they kill me. Another man cradled his child. And on the ground, on his knees, documenting it all, Juan Guerra (ph), a photographer for NBC‘s Spanish-language network, Telemundo. Police kicked him. As their line advanced, another officer grabbed his camera and threw it.
Meanwhile, Telemundo‘s national newscast was broadcasting live. Anchorman Pedro Sevceq was getting ready to go on the air.
PEDRO SEVCEQ, TELEMUNDO ANCHOR: One minute I was live, and the next minute I was running for my life. Suddenly I got a police officer pointing one of those shotguns at my face.
ALEXANDER (on camera): Was this just clearly a case of excessive force?
SEVCEQ: It was excessive force, they basically hit women, children and journalists.
ALEXANDER (voice-over): Police chief William Bratton today cancelled a trop to Central America to deal with the fallout, calling some officers‘ actions inappropriate.
WILLIAM BRATTON, LAPD CHIEF: I share the understandable concern and frustration with all of you that once again the department, its members and the community are involved in such a troubling event.
ALEXANDER: Among those injured, about a dozen officers and 10 civilians. A day designed to focus on immigrants‘ right now overshadowed by the controversial actions of Los Angeles police.
ALEXANDER: The Los Angeles Police Department says at least nine people were arrested. The L.A. City Council is now demanding a report and review of exactly what happened here within 30 days—Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Thank you so much, Peter. Of course, as you know, whenever you have these types of situation—that certainly is inflammatory tape, but when you have there type of situations, they are always two sides to the story, especially when you are talking about police investigations. I‘m sure we will be hearing the other side in the coming days and weeks.
Coming up next, Don Imus may be suing CBS Radio for $40 million, saying his contract encouraged that bad behavior that got him fired. But if it goes to court, is he going to find a sympathetic jury?
But first, it‘s planet Earth as you have never seen it before, coming up next.
A “Must See SC.” Hey, that is our EP.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, it‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See SC.” Some video you have just got to see. Now first up, thousands of hours of footage was used to make the miniseries “Planet Earth.” But Jimmy Kimmel gives us a sneak preview at what was left on the cutting room floor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The smoking monkey, one of nature‘s greatest miracles. The need to bear young is great, for this confused canine it will end in heartbreak. Captured on tape for the first time ever, the shark dog. In Mexico, a donkey chases a man with his pants down.
Planet Earth, you gotta love it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And finally the president‘s war on words continue with another great moment in presidential speech-making.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT, 32ND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
JOHN F. KENNEDY, 35TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can for your country.
BUSH: It‘s a sophisticated piece of equipment. You can fly it from inside of a truck.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Coming up next, did CBS actually encourage Imus‘ racially insensitive remarks? The surprising contract clause that may help Don Imus win a $40 million lawsuit against CBS.
And later, a new study says Bill O‘Reilly insults people once out of every seven seconds. Is it fact or fiction? We are going to be putting that theory to the test when we come back.
SCARBOROUGH: Coming up, we‘ll take you to the “No Spin Zone,” where a new study says Bill O‘Reilly, well, isn‘t being straight with us. Will his name-calling and fear-mongering finally silence the hugely popular commentator? We‘ll talk about that study, coming up straight ahead.
But, first, Don Imus is out for a payback and a big pay out from his former employer. According to reports today, the fired shock jock could be ready to sue CBS Radio for the $40 million left in his correct. “Fortune” magazine quotes sources who‘s read Imus‘ contract who says that, quote, “stipulates that Imus be given a warning before being fired” for doing what he made a career out of, making off-color jokes. The source described it as a “dog has one bite” clause. Imus has also hired one of the nation‘s top First Amendment attorneys to represent him.
So should CBS have to cough up $40 million for encouraging the I-Man‘s bad behavior? Here now to talk about it, John Ridley, He‘s a screenwriter and a frequent commentator on National Public Radio and now MSNBC. And also, MSNBC media analyst Steve Adubato.
Steve, let me start with you. Do you think Imus is going to get $40 million from CBS, because the contract stipulated that they encouraged Imus‘ bad behavior?
STEVE ADUBATO, MEDIA ANALYST: Not a chance, Joe. I mean, Imus—what‘s interesting is now he‘s saying, “I was paid to be irreverent. I was paid to say outrageous things.” Well, Don Imus, then, if you were so within the boundaries of your contract, why did you apologize so many times to the 18-year-old girls, 10 of whom on the basketball team at Rutgers were seniors in high school last year, for calling them nappy-headed hos? If it was part of your contract, Don, what were you apologizing for? Why did you say you were so out of line? Why did you tell Clarence Page of the “Chicago Tribune” several years ago that you‘ll no longer make racial jokes? Why, if you‘re so clearly within the bounds of your contract, and you‘re just doing your job, did you apologize so many times...
SCARBOROUGH: You just made Imus‘ argument.
ADUBATO: How‘s that?
SCARBOROUGH: Because you talked about how he promised Clarence Page he‘d never make an off-color, racist jokes again, and yet CBS knew exactly what this man had done in the past. He knew that he attacked blacks, that he attacked Jews, that he attacked Catholics, that he attacked everybody. I mean, that was in response to what he called Gwen Ifill, one of the preeminent journalists in America, called her a cleaning lady because she was black.
CBS knew exactly what they were getting when they got Don Imus. They can‘t act shocked now, can they?
ADUBATO: But, Joe, how do we really know what happened behind closed doors? Now, a public warning, I absolutely agree with you, Joe. I didn‘t hear any. But I want to believe that, at some point, some executive, some top-level person said, “Don, look, certain things that you‘ve done in the past you can no longer do” before, because he had to know, which is why he apologized again to those Rutgers young women.
So what I‘m saying, Joe, is publicly, no, I didn‘t hear the apology, but I‘ve got to believe that he knew he was wrong. He was outside the bounds of his agreement of being irreverent. And, by the way, irreverent doesn‘t mean attacking those kids. It was supposed to be attacking Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and Rudy Giuliani, political figures, not those kids.
SCARBOROUGH: But, John Ridley, you understand the point I‘m trying to make her? CBS knew exactly what they were getting into when they hired Don Imus for them to act shocked once a couple of sponsors started heading for the hills. It seems to me to be disingenuous at best. They owe him the $40 million, don‘t they?
JOHN RIDLEY, SCREENWRITER AND COMMENTATOR: Yes, I would agree with you, Joe. I mean, look, I want to make it very clear: I don‘t like what Don Imus said, but this guy was not plucked out of some Buddhist monastery in Tibet. They had just signed a $10 million a year, five-year contract with Don Imus, knowing his past history.
So, look, they hired him to be outrageous. They hired him based on things that he‘d said in the past, despite the fact that he made apologies in the past. This was a new contract. This was not the end of an old contract. So, yes, maybe firing him or CBS separating themselves from Don Imus was something they had to do, but they did hire him for a job, and he did the job. So I think he‘s entitled, maybe not all this money, but I think he‘s got a case for some of this money.
SCARBOROUGH: But, John Ridley, you talked about them hiring Imus to go after people. They also hired him, though, because they knew that he did go after blacks, he went after Jews, he went after Catholics. And the more insulting he was, and the more, you know, he pushed the edge, the higher their ratings went, the more money CBS made, the bigger success the show was. So this wasn‘t just being irreverent. They knew he had a record of saying racially insensitive things that his audience obviously liked, right?
RIDLEY: Joe, if I know that you‘re a really good house painter, and you paint houses blue, and I hire you to paint my house blue, and the neighbors get upset about it, nobody can get mad at you, because you did the job that I hired you to do. Don Imus was hired to work blue and to keep pushing that line, and it happened in past. He apologized in the past. He said he would never do it again. He did it again. And despite his past history, he got a brand new, big, fat contract. I want to make it clear again: I don‘t like what he said.
SCARBOROUGH: But that‘s the point, though.
RIDLEY: But the fact of the matter is, stop going after, you know, these middle-level guys. If this was a crime syndicate, you don‘t go after the little fish. You go after the big fish. I think if people—or entities, I should say, like CBS, had to feel the hurt a little bit, maybe they would think twice about hiring people who push it so far to one edge.
SCARBOROUGH: And, you know, John, that‘s the point, that Don Imus made these remarks that a lot of people found very, very offensive, and then he got a new contract.
RIDLEY: A huge contract.
SCARBOROUGH: And so, again, CBS can‘t acted shocked.
Now, Imus‘ former producer, Bernard McGuirk, appeared FOX News last week and talked about how the show was always rewarded for its bad behavior. This is what Bernie said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERNARD MCGUIRK, FORMER CO-HOST, DON IMUS: ... I‘ve been doing the same sort of stuff for years, for 20 years. And, you know, I was getting pretty much patted on the back and encouraged and re-signed, and, you know, re-signed with raises. I just signed a long-term contract with them, and everything was great. Clearly, you wouldn‘t want to be in a foxhole with some of these—you know, whoever made these decisions, I don‘t know who it was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Steve, how about that? I mean, it happens in politics all the time. You get slapped on the back for doing certain things, and then at some point—well, I‘ll give you a good example. Katherine Harris, in 2000, the White House loved her when she was carrying their water. She fought for them. She was a hero. All the Bushes loved them, and the second George Bush got elected, she was too hot to handle. They through her overboard. And I say that regardless of what you think of Katherine Harris. It‘s the same thing here, isn‘t it? They loved him while he was making money. The second he got too hot to handle, they threw him overboard.
ADUBATO: But, Joe, you know this better than anyone else. You‘ve served in Congress. I served in the state legislature in New Jersey, and it‘s the political marketplace. With Don Imus, it was a money marketplace. What I mean by that is this: Once those sponsors decided that they were going to abandon ship, and the money wasn‘t going to be there to support it, this is my argument. You could argue whether it‘s fair, or not fair, or contractual.
I‘m not legal person, but I know this: If you live by the capitalistic sword, you die by it, Joe, meaning, if you lose those sponsors, doesn‘t CBS then have a right to say, “Well, Don, we can‘t support this situation, because you are so hot to handle. Nobody wants to be with you. You‘re no longer irreverent. You‘re so offensive, no one wants to be a part of you.”
That‘s the marketplace, Joe. It may be unfair, but you know as well as I do, those are the rules.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, John Ridley, that may be the marketplace, but that‘s the gamble that CBS makes when they hire a guy like Don Imus that has this type of track record. So it seems to me, you‘re right. Forget the mid-level guys, if you can call a guy making $10 million a year a mid-level guy. It‘s CBS that took that gamble in the marketplace, and it‘s CBS who lost, so it‘s CBS who should cough up the money, right?
RIDLEY: Well, I agree. I agree with Steve, also, that he was hired to do something. So whether it‘s fair or whether it‘s appropriate is a whole other issue. The fact of the matter is, he was hired to do this by CBS. And when it became too hot to handle, yes, maybe they had to let him go, but they did hire him. And I think that Don Imus, as much as I may not like him as individual, does have a right to go back and say, “Look, I did what you allowed me to do, what you enabled me”—and these guys were enablers—“you enabled me to do. It got too hot. That‘s not my fault. We had a deal. Let‘s work something out,” maybe for $20 million, maybe for $40 million, I don‘t know. But, yes, I think he is entitled to get the money for the job he was hired again, again and again to do.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, and, again, they didn‘t enable him. They encouraged him. They encouraged him in the contract, according to this “Fortune” magazine article. I think they‘re going to be exposed.
John Ridley, Steve Adubato, thank you so much for being with us. Really do appreciate it.
Now, coming up here, new proof that Bill O‘Reilly‘s “No Spin Zone” may be a propaganda machine. That from a university study that exposes the tricks of Bill‘s trade, including his seven-second insults.
And later in “Hollyweird,” Sanjaya snubbed by his hometown? Are his 15 minutes of fame really over? Say it ain‘t so, Sanjaya, say it ain‘t so.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: Caution: You are about to enter the “No-Spin Zone.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s what he tells viewers every night, but a new study from Indiana University says that Bill O‘Reilly, quote, “consistently paints certain people in groups as villains and others as victims to present the world as he sees it, through political rhetoric,” close quote from that study. The study also found that Bill O‘Reilly uses name-calling more than once every seven seconds in his “Talking Points Memo” editorial segment.
One of his favorite targets is the so-called liberal agenda of the media. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O‘REILLY: Bill Moyers, the far left and blatant dishonesty. That‘s the subject of this evening‘s “Talking Points Memo.” Once and for all, I‘m going to show you how dishonest radical left propagandist Bill Moyers really is. Hopefully we won‘t have to deal with him ever again. He exposed him on Monday when we spotlighted his financial ties to the far left. And last night, his unfair and unbalanced documentary about the media and the war in Iraq ran on PBS. Few watched, as Moyers‘ reputation is shot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: So, is the study accurate? And will it stand in his way? Here‘s Paul Waldman. He‘s senior fellow at the progressive media watchdog group Media Matters. And Bob Kohn, the author of the book “Journalistic Fraud.”
So, Paul, what do you make of this study? Every seven seconds? Do you think somebody may be cherry-picking some facts here that make Bill O‘Reilly look worse than he is?
PAUL WALDMAN, MEDIA MATTERS FOR AMERICA: Well, I think this is one more nail in the coffin of Bill O‘Reilly‘s credibility. And this really vindicates everything that we at Media Matters have been saying about him for a long time. He doesn‘t get his facts right. He attacks everyone who disagrees with him, not just on the basis on the issues, but personally. Anyone who he doesn‘t like what they‘re saying, he says that they‘re far left, that they‘re fascist, that they‘re crazy. He‘s always attacking anyone.
And one of the other things that the study pointed out is that about half of those segments play on fear. And in Bill O‘Reilly‘s world, there are friends and enemies, and the world is always about to end if we give into the enemies, most of whom are other Americans. So, you know, that‘s the kind of poisonous stew that he spits out everyday on his television show and his radio show.
SCARBOROUGH: Bob Kohn...
WALDMAN: At MediaMatters.org, we have a video of him claiming that he doesn‘t do personal attacks, and then we have a whole string of personal attacks that he does.
BOB KOHN, AUTHOR: Joe, this is the kind of study, the juvenile study that you can expect from many of our nation‘s journalism schools today. I mean, in the study, they actually liken Bill O‘Reilly to a fascist and an anti-Semite. This is what they said in their press release. Now, talk about name-calling. Now, they accuse Bill O‘Reilly of not presenting the views of the political left in his talking points. What‘s that about? His talking points is a political commentary by Bill O‘Reilly.
Then he has, right after the talking points, someone from the left and someone from the right, usually giving both points of view. There really is—I mean, very few of the conclusions reached by this study are actually backed up by the facts in the study.
SCARBOROUGH: Bob Kohn, let me ask you this. And we‘ll present that—and we‘ll have Paul respond to those very good points you make. But Bill O‘Reilly does say that he doesn‘t engage in personal attacks. That‘s certainly not the case is it, Bob?
KOHN: Well, he certainly uses a lot of language that probably is unqualified. And, you know, he can be criticized for that. I think that‘s fair enough. Bill O‘Reilly does use names against people, in terms of—he does seem to put things in, you know, “This is good. This is evil. This is left. This is right.” He does have to kind of simplify things for his audience, but that‘s not all he does.
He does provide the facts. He does provide analysis. He wouldn‘t be the number-one rated on cable television if he only did name-calling. Obviously, the audience is finding useful analysis on his program, useful analysis in his talking points. And I think this study is way off. It‘s taking things out of context, and I think it‘s juvenile.
SCARBOROUGH: And I‘ll tell you, the one thing I have found in few years on cable news is you always pay for it when you underestimate the intelligence of your audience, so, certainly, Bob, that‘s a good point.
Paul, let‘s go back to a point that Bob brings up, and that is you‘ve got a study attacking Bill O‘Reilly for throwing names around, and yet this study issues a press release and compares him to a fascist.
WALDMAN: Well, you know, the problem with O‘Reilly is not just that he calls people names, but that he denies that he does this.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, OK, but let‘s talk about—hold on a second. Stop. I‘m not talking about Bill O‘Reilly. I‘m talking about Indiana University throwing the first stone, and yet he‘s being compared to a fascist.
WALDMAN: You have to ask them why they wrote their press release the way they did.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, but doesn‘t that suggest, though, there‘s a political agenda there?
WALDMAN: But the fact of the matter is that Bill O‘Reilly doesn‘t just call people...
SCARBOROUGH: Paul, stop. Hey, Paul, I‘ll let you continue, but, first, answer this question. When they call Bill O‘Reilly a fascist, when they call him an anti-Semite—he‘s about as pro-Israel as anybody I‘ve seen...
WALDMAN: They didn‘t do that.
SCARBOROUGH: Does it not suggest that there is a political agenda in this Indiana University study?
WALDMAN: They did not call him those names. They talked about him in comparison to a previous study that had been done on Father Coughlin, who was a fascist and an anti-Semite. But they didn‘t call Bill O‘Reilly those names.
SCARBOROUGH: So you‘re not a fascist or an anti-Semite; you‘re just the like the guy that we did the study on before that was a fascist and an anti-Semite. Is that the argument?
WALDMAN: Joe, you‘re going to have to ask them about why they wrote the press release the way that they did. But the fact is that O‘Reilly doesn‘t just, you know, issue forth all this vitriol, all this kind of river of vitriol at anyone who disagree with him. He also doesn‘t get his facts right.
We have caught him in literally hundreds of times when he says things that are not true. And if FOX wants to be a serious news channel, and this is their marquee talent, this is the guy who‘s kind of leading their charge, who‘s their number-one host, I think that explains why people don‘t take FOX News seriously.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, not only is he, Bob, the number-one host on FOX News, he‘s the number-one host in cable news by a long shot. Bob, here‘s the deal. I have attacked Bill O‘Reilly on this show. You have defended Bill O‘Reilly. He says things that are inaccurate. He says things that I find highly offensive.
But at the same time, it‘s a rough world in the cable world out there, Bill O‘Reilly and people. I mean, there are political battles that go on, on both sides. And there‘s name-calling on both sides. And it seems like that‘s exactly what‘s happening here with this university study.
KOHN: Everybody is going to make mistakes. The “New York Times” makes mistakes all the time, both on their editorial page, their op-ed pages, their news pages. Bill O‘Reilly makes mistakes. Sometimes you can own up to those mistakes. You can try to correct those mistakes.
WALDMAN: But Bill O‘Reilly doesn‘t own up to those mistakes. Bill O‘Reilly does not own up to those mistakes.
KOHN: He does own up to mistakes.
WALDMAN: Absolutely not.
KOHN: Don‘t take a study by a university—this is a university? I feel sorry for the parents who pay the tuition for this university, to have studies like this, that are just completely foolish. I mean, this is juvenile.
WALDMAN: Let me give you an example, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: We are going to have to go, unfortunately. Paul, I‘m going to give you 10 seconds. Give me that example.
WALDMAN: Bill O‘Reilly calls Media Matters the most vile, despicable people in the country because we put up his words and the video and transcript of his words, and that‘s what he can‘t take.
KOHN: They‘re not the most vile...
SCARBOROUGH: No, you‘re not the most vile or despicable. I suppose he would say we are. But, Paul, thank you so much for being with us. Bob Kohn, thank you for being with us.
There‘s no doubt: Bill O‘Reilly says some things that, again, I just don‘t understand why he says them. But you know what? I think he‘s just a Long Island guy. He‘s a tough guy. He‘s a street fighter. I‘m a little more genteel, coming from the South. Guys, thanks for being with us. Greatly appreciate it. Great conversation. Great discussion. Great debate.
We‘ll be right back with “Hollyweird.”
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, tell your publicist to keep you out of this segment. It‘s time for “Hollyweird,” friends.
First up, Britney Spears, I guess she‘s back. Here now to talk about it, Alexandra Wentworth. Her show, “Head Case,” airs Wednesdays at 11:00 on Starz. And “Star” magazine‘s deputy New York bureau chief David Caplan.
David, is the pop princess really back?
DAVID CAPLAN, “STAR” MAGAZINE: She is back. Last night, she performed at the House of Blues in San Diego. And by all accounts, the crowd was pretty happy, 1,000 people came. Some paid up to $1,000. And there‘s a little bit of a debate whether or not she lip-synched or not. But you know what? Britney has been itching to get back on the stage. She was in New York a few months ago at Tenjin nightclub (ph). She was singing and dancing at Tenjin (ph), so she‘s been itching. So this was really great for her.
SCARBOROUGH: She‘s been itching. Allie, I‘m not exactly sure why she‘s been itching, but she‘s back. Is it kind of like the Elvis ‘68 comeback?
ALEXANDRA WENTWORTH, “HEAD CASE”: Well, I think she probably scratched the itch. I don‘t know if I‘d say it was Elvis. Wasn‘t it 15 minutes or something? I mean, I think the big question is, who are the people that were paying $1,000 to see Britney Spears lip-synch and shake her booty for 15 minutes?
SCARBOROUGH: She was lip-synching, Allie, right? Weren‘t those the reports?
WENTWORTH: Well, that was the report. I have to say, very happily, that I wasn‘t there. But, yes, in fact, supposedly she was just lip-synching.
SCARBOROUGH: And, of course, somebody that should have lip-synched, Allie, was Sanjaya. This guy may be a star, but apparently not in his hometown of Federal Way, Washington. A prophet‘s not respected in his own town, huh, Allie?
WENTWORTH: Well, I don‘t know. I mean, he‘s a fallen reality TV show star. You don‘t really get the keys to the city for that. Maybe a tiny plaque on a beach, but Sanjaya in the state of Washington? Not a big deal. Although at the White House correspondents dinner, everything was Sanjaya. Every senator, everybody was all over Sanjaya.
SCARBOROUGH: And especially the governor of New York, David Caplan. Washington state, home of Hendrix, home of Kurt Cobain, home of Sanjaya, but they‘re not so happy, are they?
CAPLAN: That‘s right. You know, he came from a suburb called Federal Way outside Seattle, I think they should have given him a key. And the town officials said, “No way. We have better things to worry about,” but almost every other “Idol” that returns to their hometown gets some sort of welcoming. So I think he was a little bit—he should have gotten something in this case.
SCARBOROUGH: But absolutely nothing. And speaking of “Idol,” President Bush and the first lady made a strange appearance on last night‘s “American Idol.” Allie, tell us about it.
WENTWORTH: Oh, they were yukking it up. But, on the one hand, very good to do for charity. On the other, what were they doing on “American Idol”? They should have been doing “Last Comic Standing.” Apparently, Laura Bush was hysterical.
SCARBOROUGH: No doubt about it. Thanks so much, Alexandra Wentworth. Thank you, David Caplan. Greatly appreciate it.
WENTWORTH: Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s all the time we have tonight. We‘ll see you back here tomorrow night for MSNBC‘s coverage of the first GOP debate of the 2008 election. But up next, it‘s the story of my life, “Born in the Wrong Body.” Good night.
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