Guests: Ed Schultz, Anne Kornblut, Jonathan Alter, Michael Scheuer
TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Welcome to the 6:00 p.m. edition of the show, coming to you from the Bethel Inn in Bethel, Maine.
Ann Coulter is one of the most successful professional provocateurs in the history of the spoken word, and the news media have been crackling with her latest made by television event: yesterday‘s face-to-voice confrontation with Elizabeth Edwards on MSNBC‘s “Hardball.” If you haven‘t seen it, here‘s a selection.
ELIZABETH EDWARDS: I‘m asking you politely ...
ANN COULTER: Yes, it‘ll happen today.
EDWARDS: ...to stop—to stop personal attacks.
COULTER: How about you stop raising money on your Web page, then?
EDWARDS: It didn‘t start—it did not start ...
COULTER: No, you don‘t have to, because I don‘t mind.
EDWARDS: It did not start with that. You had a column a number of years ago, where you suggested ...
COULTER: Wait. OK, the wife of a presidential candidate is calling in asking me to stop speaking?
EDWARDS: Wait until I finish talking, please.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, HARDBALL: Let her finish the point. Let her finish the point.
COULTER: You‘re asking me to stop speaking? Stop writing your columns, stop writing your books ...
EDWARDS: You had a column, you had a column a couple of years ago ...
MATTHEWS: Ann, please.
EDWARDS: ...which—which made fun of the moment of Charlie Dean‘s death, and suggested that my husband had a bumper sticker on the back of his car that said, “Ask me about my dead son.”
COULTER: This is (inaudible) three years ago.
EDWARDS: This is not legitimate political dialogue. It debases political dialogue. It drives people away from the process. We can‘t have a debate on that issue if you‘re using this kind of language.
COULTER: Yes, why isn‘t John Edwards making this call?
MATTHEWS: Well, do you want to respond, or we‘ll end this conversation.
EDWARDS: I haven‘t talked to John about this call.
COULTER: I think this is just another attempt for a ...
EDWARDS: I‘m making this call as a mother. I‘m the mother of that boy who died. I—my children participate. These young people behind you are the age of my children. You‘re asking them to participate in a dialogue that‘s based on—on hatefulness and ugliness instead of on the issues. And I don‘t think that‘s serving them or this country very well.
CARLSON: Well, there‘s some uncomfortable television for you. Ann Coulter knows how to create publicity and capitalize on it. By no coincidence, her most recent book was released in paperback yesterday.
And while it‘s easy to knock Coulter for her verbal flame-throwing habits and blatant self-promotion, it‘s also easy to overlook the analogous habits of John and Elizabeth Edwards. They‘re pros in that department, too.
Shortly after the exchange on “Hardball,” the Edwards campaign Web site parlayed Coulter‘s rhetoric into a plea for money. Next to a clip from the show at the top of the page was a message from Mr. and Mrs. Edwards, “ It‘s up to us to raise the dialogue by taking our message straight to voters. Let‘s show that Ann Coulter‘s style politics will never carry the day. We have four days to reach $9,000,000, please donate today.” How‘s that for subtle?
Well, the winner and loser could conceivably be measured here. Ann Coulter‘s paperback edition is not yet in the top 2,000 seller at amazon.com. How much money the Edwards have collected in their last 24 hours remains unknown.
Absent all the measurable facts, who won in the court of public opinion and who ought to win?
Well, here to tell us, we welcome Ed Schultz, host of the nationally syndicated “Ed Schultz Show.”
Ed, thanks for coming on.
ED SCHULTZ, “THE ED SCHULTZ SHOW”: Good to be with you, Tucker.
CARLSON: I know that—I know that you just spoke to Elizabeth Edwards on the phone. I‘m not here to defend what Ann Coulter—Ann Coulter said. But I am here to call into question the integrity of a campaign that would attack a certain style of political rhetoric, and then engage in that same exact style itself. If they think Ann Coulter‘s rhetoric is so bad, why are they using it to raise money?
SCHULTZ: Well, I think this is standard operating procedure in the political world we live in. Tucker, the three top fundraisers for the Republican party in the last election cycle was George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Hillary Clinton. Every time Hillary Clinton went out and made news, the next day, the Republicans were on the phone, doing their networking, going out, trying to raise as much money as they possibly can.
This is the arena, this is the fishbowl that every politician swims in. Obviously, they try to get as much publicity. But also, it‘s about the message, and if you want to fight back against this kind of rhetoric in campaigns, you got to reduce their visibility. The best way to do it is to get the right people in office and that‘s how they‘re doing it.
I don‘t fault the Edwards camp.
CARLSON: Well, it‘s ...
SCHULTZ: But I don‘t think most Americans do, either.
CARLSON: OK, all right, most—I‘m sure most Americans don‘t, but I do. And the way to reduce their visibility is not to raise money based on her name.
And I want to read you something that actually did bother me. And I understand this is pretty conventional for politics, but this isn‘t. This is from the Edwards Web site.
It says this, “Why do Ann Coulter and other right-wing pundits keep attacking John Edwards? Because John‘s bold, specific plan hits them where it hurts. Solving global warming, ending the war, building a fair economy. John‘s agenda threatens everything these talking heads and their corporate cronies stand for.”
In other words, if you don‘t agree with us, you‘re for pointless wars, for unfair economies, for global warming. That‘s as nasty as anything Ann Coulter‘s ever said.
SCHULTZ: No, I don‘t think it is. I think Ann Coulter is vile, I think she‘s below the belt, and I‘d like to know what is this sick fascination that Ann Coulter has with John Edwards. I mean, does she want do the guy or what? I mean, what is going on here?
First, she goes after him with a gay slur, then she writes about his dead son, and now she‘s saying that she hopes ...
CARLSON: Wait, wait, wait! Wait, wait, wait a second, wait a second, wait a second.
SCHULTZ: ...she hopes that he dies in a terrorist attack.
CARLSON: One at a time, why—wait, hold on, no, slow down. I‘m just asking you because you‘re progressive, and modern and hip and all that, liberal.
SCHULTZ: Yes, yes.
CARLSON: Why is it a slur to call someone gay? Why is it bad to call someone gay? Why is that a slur? There‘s nothing wrong with being gay, is there, Ed?
SCHULTZ: Well, I didn‘t want to use this word on your tele—you know, I don‘t want to use this word on your television show, but she did stand up at a convention and call him a faggot. Now, that—she did that. This is the kind of dirty pool that she plays. There is—everything is above board in her world.
CARLSON: Well—point taken. No, hold on.
I, I, I—you know what, I‘m going to roll over and agree with you, that was an ugly thing to say, and I‘m not defending it. I will, though, say that Ann Coulter didn‘t say she hoped John Edwards should be killed in a terror attack. She actually said this, it was on “Good Morning America.” And here‘s the actual sound bite, and I think when you listen to it ...
CARLSON: ...you‘ll realize—I‘m not defending Ann Coulter. But, there‘s context missing from your description of it. Here‘s the actual sound bite.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COULTER: I wouldn‘t insult gays by comparing them to John Edwards. That would be mean. But about the same time, you know, Bill Maher was not joking in saying he wished Dick Cheney had been killed in a terrorist attack.
So, I‘ve learned my lesson. If I‘m going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I‘ll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Look, the point that she‘s making is that Bill Maher says this outrageous thing that he wished the vice president was killed in a terror attack, and nobody criticized him, because you know what, he‘s this fashionable, popular liberal guy. Ann Coulter gets landed on every time she opens her mouth and says something stupid, which is often. She‘s making a point about media bias, and that‘s a fair point.
SCHULTZ: Oh, it‘s not media bias. I didn‘t see Bill Maher out on the “Today Show” or the “Good Morning America” spewing that stuff. He was doing that on his own program.
Tucker, you know what Ann Coulter is all about. You know that she‘s a hate merchant, and you know that she goes on these programs and sells as much hate as she possibly can. The reason why Elizabeth Edwards called the program “Hardball” yesterday is to try to get her to raise the level of discourse and do away with the diatribes that are so negative and so personally attacking ...
CARLSON: Raise the level ...
SCHULTZ: The American people are sick of this. This has nothing to do with Bill Maher.
CARLSON: Raise the level of discord? Wait, wait, wait, hold on (ph), you can‘t be serious.
SCHULTZ: This is about Ann Coulter.
SCHULTZ: This is about Ann Coulter, not Bill Maher.
CARLSON: It is about Ann Coulter, but it‘s also about Elizabeth and John Edwards.
And what else—hold on. And, in order—for you to say that she‘s attempting to raise the level of dialogue in American politics, when she accuses her opponents of favoring global warming, that‘s an outrageous thing to say. That‘s bringing it to depth (ph), as I said ...
SCHULTZ: That‘s a political issue, Tucker. Tucker, that‘s a political issue, you know that.
CARLSON: ...that Ann Coulter inhabits. No, no, to claim that the other guys are in favor of it, I mean—no, no, that is an ugly thing to say.
SCHULTZ: Come on, now.
CARLSON: And I would say she—she‘s not standing on the high ground when she says that, come on.
SCHULTZ: Well, let me tell you, she is on the high ground, and she‘s on a moral ground, and I could tell you this right now that the Edwards are fine, upstanding people, and they don‘t play in this, this mud bowl that Ann Coulter sells her hate in. And I can tell you that the majority of Americans big time are in favor of Elizabeth Edwards and John Edwards standing up to this kind of garbage.
Now, here‘s the key. I don‘t hear any ...
CARLSON: Oh, I‘m sure they are, so what?
SCHULTZ: ...Republican candidates disavowing themselves from Ann Coulter.
CARLSON: Oh please.
SCHULTZ: I don‘t hear Duncan Hunter standing up, saying I don‘t want anything to do with Ann Coulter. Behind closed doors, I think Republican candidates are high-fiving one another, saying go Annie, go.
CARLSON: Maybe they are.
SCHULTZ: This is what they‘re all about.
CARLSON: I‘m sure they are. I mean, so what? The point is, they‘re not raising money from Ann Coulter
SCHULTZ: So what?
CARLSON: ...and the Edwards are, and that‘s the difference.
But anyway, we are—unfortunately ...
CARLSON: ...we‘re out of time. I feel like I haven‘t won you over yet, but I‘m getting a little closer, so I appreciate you coming on. Thank you.
SCHULTZ: Well, good to be on with you.
CARLSON: This debate isn‘t over just yet. Democratic presidential candidates John Edwards, he plays “Hardball” with Chris Matthews tonight. That‘s coming up in the next hour, stay tuned for that.
Well, Barack Obama wants to become the nation‘s first black president but he‘ll need more than black votes to do that. Does Obama have what it takes to appeal to the masses without alienating key voters? That‘s the question he faces.
Plus, Rudy Giuliani says President Clinton dropped the ball while protecting America from terrorism. How will his latest feud affect Clinton and Giuliani as they run for president?
You‘re watching MSNBC, the most impressive name in news.
CARLSON: Time now for a check of our Obameter. Barak Obama is either in the perfect position to beat Hillary Clinton for the nomination or he is entering a particularly sticky political trap.
Obama needs support from a pretty diverse group of Americans to get that nomination. Disappointed Independents, a mix of minority voters, white suburban moms, older Americans looking for something to believe in, but the quest to be everything to everyone, will lose luster if voters learn the big 10 includes fringe elements? Particularly ones they don‘t agree with.
And if he appeals to the masses, does Obama risk alienating African-American voters? Probably his potentially most loyal voting block.
Here to talk about whether he can skirt these problems, court both black and non-black voters, we welcome the “Washington Post‘s” Anne Kornblut, and Senior Editor at “Newsweek” magazine, Jonathan Alter.
Welcome to you both.
ANNE KORNBLUT, THE “WASHINGTON POST”: Thank you.
JONATHAN ALTER, “NEWSWEEK”: Hi, Tucker.
CARLSON: Now, Jon Alter, the “New York Post” reports this morning that Obama was in New York recently meeting with Brooklyn City Councilman Charles Barron and that Barron has agreed that he will either support Obama for the nomination or no one.
Barron is a frequent guest on the show, I like him, but he is a pretty straightforward racist. Pretty straightforward black nationalist, anti-white character. Exactly the kind of person you would not expect Obama to be courting. What is Obama doing?
ALTER: Well, I think Obama wants the support of everybody. And the question is whether he can actually have that is actually as big as the United States. That‘s what he was proposing at the Boston convention three years ago. You know, the first ad he has on the air in Iowa, features the head of the DuPage County Illinois Republican party and a prominent number of Republican caucus in the state legislator. And that‘s who he is using in his ad. So the whole point of his campaign, Tucker, is to say, you know, don‘t judge me by any one of my supporters, I am trying to get a super big tent here.
It‘s, as you say, a very hard thing to pull off. But I think it would be unfair to hold any of his supporter‘s politics, you know, hold him accountable for what Charles Baron thinks.
CARLSON: Really? Would it? So if ...
CARLSON: ... so if Rudy Giuliani went ...
ALTER: Is Rudy Giuliani ...
CARLSON: ... no, no. Hold on. I haven‘t ....
ALTER: Is Rudy Giuliani...
CARLSON: ... I have not solicited ...
ALTER: ... or any Republican accountable
CARLSON: ... let me ....
ALTER: ... for what Ann Coulter thinks? Come on.
CARLSON: Slow down. It depends upon whether they solicit her support or not. If Rudy Giuliani went down and asked David Duke for his support would you say—you know, its unfair to hold Rudy Giuliani accountable for what David Duke said. No, of course not, you write a cover story attacking him. That‘s a ludicrous point, please.
ALTER: No, it is not ...
CARLSON: But, it does, it is.
ALTER: Charles Baron is not David Duke. So lets not let that slide through, he‘s not David Duke.
CARLSON: I would say he‘s pretty close.
ALTER: If he was David Duke ...
CARLSON: I wonder Ann ...
ALTER: ... you wouldn‘t really have him on your show, Tucker.
CARLSON: I might.
ALTER: Even you have limits.
CARLSON: No actually, I don‘t. Anne, does this potentially, does this ad that John just alluded to putting Republicans on the air, endorsing or appearing to endorse Obama, I think one of them said he‘s not endorsing him, but in any case. Using Republicans to sell Obama. Does this hurt Obama with the net root? With the fervent anti-Republican base of the Democratic party?
KORNBLUT: They are not worried that it will. They believe that the liberal base of the party is pretty well—its not locked down for them. But inclined to support him. He‘s got a claim on the war that none of the other candidate do because he, obviously, was against it from the outset.
And, especially in a place like Iowa where the war is so important and that‘s where this ad is going up on the air. There are not worried about that, they are more worried about making the general election viability argument. That is, that he can win a general election.
And by showing that he has got Republican support, they believe they can show that Obama has something that Hillary Clinton does not, which is not the high-negatives among Republicans and therefore the ability to win in November 2008.
CARLSON: Right, no, I think it is a great general election ad. I just wonder how it plays in a primary. John, you have probably seen the response of Barak Obama himself to the line that the Clinton campaign is using. Hillary Clinton, ready to lead from day one in the White House, to which Obama said, essentially, the only Clinton ready to lead from day one would Bill Clinton, not Hillary Clinton. He is taking on Hillary directly, by name. Wise?
ALTER: Well I think he is going to have to start doing that.
Actually think that is a pretty good line. Obama is in a box on this one. He has positioned himself as the candidate that doesn‘t want to take shots at other candidates, and yet, in order to win, he‘s going to have to get down in the mud a little bit. Politics aren‘t beanbaging, he is going to have to go after Hillary Clinton to a greater or lesser degree. He is trying to find the tone now, to do it in a way that does not cause a backlash. I think he‘s off to a pretty good start because that line is not bad.
CARLSON: Yes, its not bad. I mean, Anne, what do you expect we are going to see in terms of attacks from Obama against Hillary? I mean if he does start to engage directly, what‘s the narrative going to be? Hillary Clinton is too inexperienced? What‘s he going to say about her, do you think?
KORNBLUT: Well, I guess it depends on how you define attack. And this is one of those gray areas in a campaign where it is simply pointing out someone‘s record. And attack is underscoring differences and attack—
I don‘t know.
I personally tend to hold the bar pretty high for what constitutes an attack. That said, I agree with Jonathan. They are going to have to—the Obama campaign in general and Obama himself in particular, are going to have to start really doing that. Engaging her, drawing those distinctions and the experience line, you know, if you want to head straight into the wind and go after her on the argument that she thinks is her strongest, that would be the one. I have heard other Democrats, not from the Obama campaign, but from other campaigns, taking issue with her use of her husband‘s experience as her own. And the notion, I‘ve had other Democratic operatives say to me, aren‘t you offended as a woman that she is running on basically her husband‘s resume, instead of her own? So, I would except that drumbeat to grow louder as the weeks go on.
ALTER: Anne and Tucker ...
CARLSON: That‘s interesting.
ALTER: Yes. You are going to hear that ...
CARLSON: I‘m sorry, John, we are out of time but we will be back in just one second. And we can just pound Mrs. Clinton until your heart‘s delight, I know you are excited.
Presidential hopeful, Rudy Giuliani took a swing at his potential opponent, Hillary Clinton, yesterday. Indirectly, he was criticizing her husband, the former president. Stick around to hear it.
Plus, just how much does the rest of the world really dislike the United States? We have got the numbers. We will tell you what they are. You are watching MSNBC, the most impressive name in news.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Many people think the first attack on America was September 11th, 2001. It was not. It was in 1993.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Whenever New Yorkers, you can be certain the gloves will be off and the rule book will get tossed out of the ring, especially when those New Yorkers are running for president. We‘ve got two of them this season. After a few months of pleasantries, it looks like there is a real fight brewing between the Giuliani and Clinton campaigns. And if you believe the candidates, nothing less than the national security of the United States is at stake.
Rudy implies that Bill Clinton sat on his hands after the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, implies that Giuliani did nothing to prepare his city for another attack on the World Trade Center.
Just think, there are 16 more months of this to go.
Joining us to tell us what we‘re likely to see, “Washington Post‘s” Anne Kornblut and senior editor of “Newsweek” magazine, Jonathan Alter. Welcome to you both.
And I thought I remembered this somewhere. This is Rudy Giuliani last September, talking about whether or not Bill Clinton ought to be blamed for 9/11. He says this, or said this, quote: “The idea of trying to cast blame on President Clinton is just wrong for many, many reasons, not the least of which is I don‘t think he deserves it. I don‘t think President Bush deserves it. The people who deserve blame for 9/11, I think we should remind ourselves, are the terrorists, the Islamic fanatics who came here and killed us and want to come here again and do it.”
So, just last September, Giuliani was saying, no, we are not going to blame the first President Clinton for 9/11, and now he‘s essentially doing just that. Why?
KORNBLUT: Well, now he‘s running for president. And he‘s running against former President Clinton‘s wife.
CARLSON: Yes, good for him.
KORNBLUT: I think it‘s a pretty easy one to figure out.
What I would say—and you alluded to this earlier—in doing so, he opens himself up to criticism himself. I‘ve heard Democrats point out that it was Rudy Giuliani who decided to put his terrorism headquarters in the World Trade Center, and of course it was destroyed on 9/11, and this was after the first attack on the World Trade Center.
So I think for both sides, and I think the reason we‘ve heard him in the past and other—other Democrats and Republicans in the past avoid casting blame is because both sides were in power in different places at different times prior to the 9/11 attack, and the minute they start deciding whose fault it was, whether it was Clinton‘s for not getting bin Laden in the ‘90s or President Bush‘s for not paying attention to his presidential daily briefings in the months leading up to 9/11, both sides bear some responsibility. I guess we are seeing now that Giuliani is willing to take that risk in talking about it during the campaign.
CARLSON: And I think it is actually a pretty wise move, Jon Alter. I think Anne is absolutely right. He is going to get slammed—and has already been slammed—by the firemen‘s union et cetera in New York for his actions right after 911. But Bill Clinton‘s foreign policy was shameful. And he did not respond to Khobar Towers and the bombing of the Cole and the Tanzania and Kenya bombings and the first World Trade Center bombings. I mean, that is an absolutely fair criticism, and don‘t you think Hillary Clinton should have to explain why they didn‘t see those attacks as connected, coordinated and perilous?
ALTER: Well, first of all, you know, a lot of independent observers have said that they were responding much more in the Clinton administration to terrorism than the Bush administration did in the nine months before 9/11. And the 9/11 Commission itself concluded that. So I think this idea that somehow Bill Clinton was asleep on the issue of terrorism is just flatly wrong.
By definition, he did not do enough. And this kind of argument is helpful for Giuliani, because the best defense is a good offense.
The question is the short term in the Republican primaries is whether other Republicans will take a leaf from Karl Rove, who believes that you attack your opponent on his strength. In other words, Rove went after John Kerry on his Vietnam war record, which was supposedly his strength. So the question is, will other GOP candidates go after Giuliani on 9/11? I think if they want to win and beat him, they are going to have to do that. So you‘re going to see them raising this issue...
CARLSON: I agree with that.
ALTER: ... of whether he was as great on 9/11 as he claims.
CARLSON: But I think it‘s—I mean, you are not suggesting, I mean, the Bill Clinton foreign policy is not something that Mrs. Clinton is going to run on, is she? I mean, that would take chutzpah that I don‘t think even she has.
CARLSON: ... Bill Clinton did a better job than Bush.
ALTER: ... entire Clinton record, sure.
KORNBLUT: We‘ve seen her start to do it, Tucker.
CARLSON: That‘s insane.
KORNBLUT: Absolutely. She gave a foreign-policy—Senator Clinton gave a foreign-policy speech just today, where she talked about the first Clinton administration‘s foreign policy. She absolutely is running on her husband‘s successful—the successful parts of his foreign-policy record, especially having allies around the world.
CARLSON: What were they?
KORNBLUT: Well, in her telling, and obviously you can disagree with this, but in her telling, it‘s that other countries around the world were willing to work with the United States then. That Kosovo was a success. She doesn‘t mention Sudan and Afghanistan, obviously, her husband‘s failed attempts to get bin Laden in the ‘90s, but she does talk about the United States having a greater popularity and a willingness for other countries to work with the United States during her husband‘s years. So I think absolutely...
ALTER: Northern Ireland.
KORNBLUT: ... she is—and Northern Ireland; getting further in the Middle East peace process; keeping North Korea‘s nuclear arms in check. So no, absolutely, I would expect to hear her talk about her husband‘s foreign policy.
CARLSON: Boy, I just think that would take a lot of brass.
Well, speaking of the rest of the world, do you think the French hate us most? Guess again. It‘s not the French. We will tell you who does. Plus, are we doing all we can to find Osama bin Laden? We‘ll talk to someone whose job that once was, and we‘ll see what he thinks. We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: Democrats say the administration‘s strategy in Iraq is not working. And now Republicans seem to agree. There‘s a voting block out there that still believes we can win the war in Iraq. We‘ll tell you who they are in a moment, but first, here‘s a look at our headlines.
CARLSON: And now the stunning truth about young American adults and their political views. A “New York Times”/CBS News/MTV poll out today reveals that Americans between 17-29 years old lean left politically. Wow.
In related news, water quenches first and sleep deprivation makes you tired.
The young adults polled tend to favor universal health care, gay marriage, a lenient immigration policy and Democratic presidential candidates.
But does it matter on the American political landscape? Will young voters actually vote?
Here to tell us we welcome back, from “The Washington Post” Anne Kornblut; and from “Newsweek,” the senior editor there, Jonathan Alter. Welcome to you both.
Anne, this is the same story, you‘ve covered a lot of campaigns. Every four years, young people are the key. You people believe this and that and then when you actually get the exit polling it turns out young people, I don‘t know what they did, went out to dinner rather than voted. Are they going to vote and do we have a way of knowing that?
KORNBLUT: I remember young people were the backbone of the Howard Dean victory and Bill Bradley victory, also.
CARLSON: I was there for that.
KORNBLUT: But this is always the rub with young voters, college campus voters. They were the ones who we saw in orange hats during the Iowa caucuses in 2004 organizing for Howard dean.
They don‘t vote in the same numbers and especially in the early states like Iowa, the caucus is this arcane system, going and getting in a room and talking things over and it takes hours. It‘s predominantly an older person—older people activity.
And at the national level, too, we‘re seeing this. The Barack Obama campaign has talked about all the young people they‘ve got organizing. His, you know, 90,000 friends on FaceBook.
Well, if that doesn‘t turn into votes on election day and younger people are less likely to register and less likely to actually go, for whatever reason, whether it‘s going out to dinner or forgetfulness. They tend to move around more. They don‘t have—they‘re not necessarily registered, because they‘ve moved so much.
So there‘s certainly a potential liability. And it doesn‘t necessarily—their leanings don‘t translate into votes on election day.
CARLSON: Yes. The most interesting, I thought, line in this entire poll, John, asked about Iraq. And it said, is the United States likely to succeed in Iraq? Are we going to win the war?
And the majority of young people 17-29 said yes, the U.S. was likely or very likely to win in Iraq. Where does that come from?
ALTER: Well, actually, the history of the polling of young people suggests that there‘s a kind of a rah-rah quality when it comes to America. Get it done, you know? And they tend to support wars and think we‘re going to end victorious. That‘s because they weren‘t alive to live through Vietnam and some other defeats.
But I‘m not quite as pessimistic on their ability to affect the outcome at the margins.
You might find this a little hard to believe, but in 1992, I actually worked part-time for MTV. And they had an aggressive, you know, get out to vote campaign.
But it ended up helping Bill Clinton and Al Gore. Was it decisive in their victory? No. But it helped.
And especially, I think, now with the Internet and Obama‘s focus on raising money in small amounts, if you get enough young people to give $10, it can add up to real money.
So it‘s not an irrelevant factor but obviously a much hyped one.
CARLSON: Yes, I think it is. And I mean, you just said it yourself. They young people, when they‘re asked about public policy questions, often don‘t know enough to come up with informed answers. So I don‘t know why you‘d want to push people like that to vote in the first place. It‘s sort of an interesting question.
I wonder, Ann, the Fairness Doctrine has suddenly reemerged as a national issue. Democrats in Congress upset most that talk radio leans conservative, and they want to change that by fiat with the law and resurrect the Fairness Doctrine, which would require that all political views be balanced on the public airwaves with concerted political views. Are they actually going to move forward on this?
KORNBLUT: If they do you can be rest assured that there will be a strong counter push from the Republican side.
You know, at this point, where the media leans is a pretty popular game on the political realm. I mean, I‘ve been often called liberal media, conservative media, you know, depending on who you‘re talking to. The media leans the other direction.
But it is a, you know, it‘s a favorite whipping horse for—for Republicans, too. So I‘d be surprised if it really goes anywhere, but it is a popular issue to at least talk about.
ALTER: But you know, there are some facts here...
CARLSON: Hold on. Doesn‘t it bother you as a civil libertarian, John, that the federal government, the Congress, would get involved in telling Americans what political views they can hear and what can be expressed on the air? I mean, doesn‘t that—doesn‘t that scare you?
ALTER: Yes. I‘m against too much government regulation in this area.
I agree with Anne that it‘s not going anywhere.
But I also don‘t think it‘s a matter of opinion which way talk radio leans, you know.
ALTER: There was a survey, pretty effective study recently, very well sourced study. It said that it‘s not 91 percent conservative.
ALTER: So basically what you have is an ad for your team, Tucker, that is running in broad swaths of the United States all afternoon every day.
And people wonder why we‘ve had, you know, a conservative Congress and a conservative president in recent years. So that this hidden story of talk radio‘s affect on the politics of this country is a very important one. I don‘t think the Democrats are going to be successful.
CARLSON: Wait a second.
ALTER: I don‘t think they should. I agree with you. I don‘t want government regulating it. But let‘s not pretend the conservative media has not been much, much more popular than the so-called liberal media in the last 10 years.
CARLSON: There‘s absolutely no question that on the radio conservatives are much more popular. That‘s how the marketplace works, right? You put something on. And if people listen to it, it succeeds. If it doesn‘t, it doesn‘t.
But the idea—does it bother you that Dick Durbin would get up and say—and I think I‘m quoting now—“I‘m old-fashioned, and I have this kind of old-fashioned view that when Americans hear both sides of the story, they‘re in a better position to make a decision.” That‘s old-fashioned in a bad way.
The idea that Congress should step in and tell people what they can hear and what is acceptable and which aren‘t? I mean, shouldn‘t we shout him down? Where‘s the ACLU in this case? Why aren‘t people freaking out about this possibility?
ALTER: I don‘t happen to agree with him on this point. But the old-fashioned part of it, the people need to understand is that the airwaves belong to the public.
And these radio and television stations going back to the 1930‘s were given a license, they were licensed by the government to print money, OK. And they signed—they got those licenses in exchange for certain guarantees.
And among those guarantees where they would not put all junk on. They would have some public affairs broadcasting and some balance. These corporations have not lived up to their promise. They have flaunted the terms of their contract for 60 years now.
CARLSON: Because you don‘t agree with them.
ALTER: And—no, they have. They signed something saying that they would be fair. They haven‘t been.
I don‘t believe the government should step in and take them off the air, but let‘s not pretend that these broadcasters have fulfilled the terms of their contract.
KORNBLUT: What I‘d really like to know...
CARLSON: Just to set a historical point, OK, the government says it owns the air waves.
ALTER: No, not the government. The people own the airwaves.
CARLSON: ... because it says the people own the airwaves.
CARLSON: OK. I‘m sorry...
CARLSON: ... the people. Right, I‘m sorry. I forgot. Actually Congress believes it owns the airwaves. I‘m sorry. Anne?
KORNBLUT: Oh, I would just like to see this move forward for one reason, and that is to see who Congress picks to be the counterweight to you.
CARLSON: All right. Oh, someone brilliant, I‘m sure. And speaking of (inaudible) and polls, there is a fascinating new poll on the way the rest of the world perceives us, perceives the United States. And not surprisingly, we are not popular in the Islamic world. We‘re very unpopular in Germany, if you can imagine the brass of the Germans to dislike us. It‘s pretty outrageous. We‘re hated in the Palestinian territories, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan. Argentina, we‘re not very popular.
But here is the unnoticed part of the poll. Our popularity in the Islamic world has risen dramatically in the past three years. Why, I wonder, Anne, hasn‘t the Bush administration said anything about this? Is it just typical ineptitude or are they hiding this, or what?
KORNBLUT: That‘s a good question. I don‘t know the answer to that.
I mean, I would be curious to see the exact margin that it‘s risen by.
At the same time, I think that they would credit some of the tsunami work for having raised our popularity in places like Indonesia in particular, that they‘ve seen the other side of the United States, so to speak. So—but it‘s a good question, why the administration hasn‘t talked about it. I would think they would at this point.
ALTER: Because, Tucker...
CARLSON: It‘s risen 19 points in Jordan, for instance.
ALTER: It‘s a selective reading of the poll, Tucker. Basically you found in 23 out of 30 countries, the United States is much, not marginally, much less popular than it was seven years ago. So if there‘s a marginal, tiny...
CARLSON: Right, that‘s true.
ALTER: ... little bitty improvement in the last three years, it‘s nothing to really brag about, considering the growing (ph) unpopularity of the United States...
CARLSON: Well, it‘s not—it‘s actually not marginal.
ALTER: ... overall.
CARLSON: Right. I know the Belgians don‘t like us. I know that‘s of grave concern to the American left.
ALTER: No, all over the world, Tucker.
CARLSON: I‘ll be able to sleep tonight. Good luck to you.
ALTER: Don‘t try to suggest that somehow we‘re popular all over the world. We‘re not. We‘re increasingly unpopular.
CARLSON: No, I know, and that‘s a real concern for certain people.
I‘m not one of them.
ALTER: Not for you?
CARLSON: Thanks so much for joining us. I appreciate it.
KORNBLUT: Thank you.
CARLSON: The CIA finally declassifies some of its most classified secrets, including assassination attempts on Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Is the CIA still plotting schemes like that? We hope so. Maybe the CIA is making house calls now. How else on earth is it possible to wake up with a bullet in your head and not know it was there? MSNBC‘s justice correspondent Willie Geist has the answer, as always. We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: It‘s no secret that the CIA keeps most of its business secret. So yesterday‘s release of 700 pages of documents terms “the family jewels,” was an interesting development.
Much of it is still censored, but these documents detail assassination attempts, bugging hotel rooms in Las Vegas, spying on journalists, even experiments in mind control, which took place 20 or 30 years ago.
It‘s spooky, yes, but it‘s also impressively inventive.
The question is, is the CIA using similar techniques in, for instance, the hunt for Osama bin Laden?
Well, joining us now is Michael Scheuer.
He‘s the former head of the CIA‘s bin Laden unit.
Mr. Scheuer, thanks for joining us.
MICHAEL SCHEUER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE, FORMER HEAD OF CIA‘S BIN LADEN
UNIT: Thank you for having me, sir.
CARLSON: When—when you read these accounts—I‘m sure you‘re familiar with them already—does it make you wistful?
And it raises for me, anyway, the question, are we still doing this kind of thing?
I hope we are.
SCHEUER: No, I think the problem that we have is that the activities document in the papers that came out this week had—were really—some of them were beyond the pale.
SCHEUER: But the reaction of the Congress to them has been to palsy the agency with lawyers and—and all kinds of restrictions that allow us very little room to really protect Americans.
CARLSON: Well, the—the events detailed in these 700 pages, of course, all took place in the context of the cold war.
CARLSON: And when you read this, you get the feeling that there was a room full of guys who spent their lives intensely worried about the Soviet Union and its ability to hurt America. Like they really took this seriously. And they were willing to think of outlandish ways to protect the country.
Is there a similar room of people worrying about Al Qaeda at the CIA right now?
SCHEUER: Oh, yes, sir, there has been for the past 10 or 12 years.
SCHEUER: The problem is execution. We have had presidents and—and national security advisers who don‘t want to act on the information that they have. And so Mr. Bin Laden is stronger today than he was on 9/11, certainly.
So, in what—in what ways is the CIA prevented from doing what it needs to do to protect the country by Congress?
SCHEUER: Well, I‘ll give you—well, not—not so much by the Congress, but by the lawyers and the government. I‘ll give you a good example. I think you‘ll recall that earlier this spring, a major Taliban commander named Mullah Dadullah was killed. In the fall of 2002, we had Mullah Dadullah in his backyard and the Predator, the drone, could have killed him. And the lawyers stopped us from doing that because they were afraid of collateral damage.
Now, how much damage did Dadullah do between 2002 and 2007?
I would say it would be quite a bit, and he should have been dead in 2002.
CARLSON: That‘s—that‘s disgusting and upsetting.
You—the basic question, why isn‘t Osama bin Laden dead or in custody?
What is—give me the short answer. I‘m actually confused by it.
SCHEUER: Well, (INAUDIBLE)...
CARLSON: It seems that we could catch this guy.
Why haven‘t we?
SCHEUER: Your last spot is—on the program—was very interesting, the poll spot, because that‘s—the American leadership, under both parties, is very scared of what the world thinks. We have less than 30,000 troops in Afghanistan, which is larger than Texas. And their job is to build a democracy, defeat the Taliban, eradicate heroin, put a parliament together and then, in their spare time, to find and eradicate Al Qaeda.
The problem lies with leadership in this country, not so much with the military or the intelligence services.
CARLSON: Is it true—I mean it seems—it is, you know, it is thought by many people, in any case, that the intelligence service of Pakistan, the ISI, probably has some general idea where bin Laden is and knows more about al Qaeda than they‘ve told us.
Have—do we have information that comes out of Pakistani intelligence? Have we penetrated Pakistani intelligence, for instance? Do you know?
SCHEUER: I think you can assume that a goal of the United States is to penetrate all intelligence services. And I have to say, the Pakistanis have been remarkably cooperative w us. But it‘s not in their national interests to capture Osama bin Laden or kill him. He is the hero of the Islamic world. This is something we‘re going to have to do for ourselves if it‘s going to get done.
CARLSON: Osama bin Laden is the hero of the Islamic world. That is -
that is a phrase that I believe is completely true, but I think every presidential candidate should have to admit that in public again and again, because it tells us what we‘re facing.
SCHEUER: Well, they won‘t.
CARLSON: Mr. Scheuer, I appreciate your joining us.
You‘re welcome, sir.
CARLSON: No, they won‘t. They won‘t, because they‘re cowards on both sides.
Thanks a lot.
As Tony Blair left office today, President Bush admitted there was one thing about the prime minister he was always jealous of.
What does Blair have that President Bush doesn‘t have?
British-Americans relations expert Willie Geist joins us next with the answer.
You‘re watching MSNBC.
CARLSON: Joining us now, our absurdity correspondent, new father and all around great guy, Willie Geist, from headquarters—Willie.
WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I resent the first claim. The other two I accept.
The absurdity correspondent?
GEIST: That‘s very heavy.
GEIST: Before I get to the important business of the day, Tucker, I have to tell you a story.
Now, people say we stereotype Florida, but you can‘t make stories like this up.
Dateline Port Saint Lucie. A man wakes up yesterday morning feeling like he might have had a headache or that his wife possibly elbowed him in the head while he was sleeping. The wife drives him to the emergency room there in Port Saint Lucie. He gets a C.T. Scan and finds out that he‘s been shot in the head. There‘s a bullet lodged behind his right ear.
His wife shot him in the head in his sleep, unsuccessfully, obvious.
He slept through it, actually. It was a small caliber revolver, obviously.
So he goes into the hospital and they tell him he‘s been gunned down.
Now, he‘s totally stable. He‘s actually fine and resting comfortably. So his wife tried to kill him, unsuccessfully. Then she drove him to the emergency room. And it turns out she‘s got a long rap sheet. They have a very complicated relationship, apparently.
But he‘s OK and I guess she‘s going to go to jail eventually. But that comes to us from Florida, like so many of our great stories, Tucker. I don‘t know what they‘re doing down there.
CARLSON: But, you know, it‘s broader than just Florida, Willie.
And the one thing I‘ve learned in 38 years on this planet?
CARLSON: you can never understand another person‘s marriage.
GEIST: No. Especially this one.
GEIST: You would think a gunshot would feel, I don‘t know, like more than an elbow to the head. I don‘t know, I‘ve never been shot in the head. I can‘t speak to it.
CARLSON: Yes, you would. It depends how often you‘ve been elbowed in the head, I think.
GEIST: Yes, I guess that‘s a good point.
Well, Tucker, a lot of people would like to see the Paris Hilton story just go away. It would be awfully convenient for certain people in power if we could just pretend the whole saga never happened.
But if Woodward and Bernstein quit on the Watergate story?
I‘m one of the last journalists with the courage to stick with this thing. It might be crazy, it might even be dangerous, but it‘s a risk I‘m willing to take.
OK, I‘m done.
In her first post-prison interview, Paris Hilton told “People” magazine: “I‘m a good person. I‘m a compassionate person. I have a big heart. People will see.”
She said she spent her time in jail reading the bible and praying with a nun every single day. Paris also said the other inmates in her detention facility were “really sweet.” She said they spoke to each other through the air conditioning ducts, which is sort of interesting.
Do you believe her, Tucker, that she‘s actually found god?
CARLSON: (LAUGHTER) That‘s—you know, I—I think you should always tape record people‘s statements when they‘re, you know, rescued from the side of a mountain or pulled in from a life raft...
CARLSON: ... or just get the second they get out of prison. They make these grandiose claims—I‘m going to devote the rest of my life to this, that or the other thing.
GEIST: Oh, of course.
CARLSON: And then five years from now, I‘d love to play the tape to her.
GEIST: I think we should hold them to it.
Now, the funny part is, so she gives this interview to “People” magazine, Tucker. One of our favorite periodicals, “Us Weekly,” suddenly taking the moral high road. They‘ve said in this week‘s issue there will not be a single mention, not a word, not a picture of Paris Hilton, which is so ironic I don‘t even have to explain it to, I don‘t think, do I?
CARLSON: You know, everybody says that. A friend of mine used to be a gossip columnist for a major New York daily newspaper and he wrote a column about how I‘m never meaning Paris Hilton‘s name in print again.
CARLSON: He no longer works there. I‘m not sure where he works these days.
CARLSON: The point is, you know, it‘s a—we have to. It‘s the law.
GEIST: It‘s—it‘s an
addiction. You can count on me to continue to keep the story alive, Tucker.
Thank you, Willie.
CARLSON: Well, now, if you‘ve just robbed a bank and you‘re running from the cops in a high speed chase with TV helicopters following every turn you make, you‘ve already had a bad day. The last thing you need is to be run over by a car.
A man who allegedly had just stuck up a bank in Denver led police on a chase yesterday before getting out of his car and making a run for it.
The officer catches up to him and bang—his fellow officer comes in for a little backup, but he came in a little too close, hit both the officer and the suspect with his unmarked vehicle.
Now, believe it or not, the cop and the suspect are both going to be OK. Of course, the cop will be a little bit more OK than the other guy, who will spend several years in jail. But my—the guy—that looked pretty bad. But they say the guy is all right and they‘re just going to ship him off to jail directly, so, tough day for that guy.
CARLSON: I don‘t know. I‘m—I‘m—it‘s like the old English principle that if the rope breaks on the day of your hanging...
CARLSON: ... your sentence is commuted.
CARLSON: I think if you get hit by a car like that, you know, we‘re just going to forget about the bank robbery.
GEIST: Exactly. He‘s served his time, as far as I‘m concerned.
CARLSON: Look at that.
GEIST: He‘s been punished.
But can I just say, that guy—you‘ve got to be able to run away from the cop.
I‘m where‘s the breakaway speed in that situation?
You figure if you get on foot, you‘ve got the advantage and he let the guy catch him. (INAUDIBLE).
Well, quickly, Tucker, Tony Blair left the office, as you know, today, after 10 years as prime minister. He was, of course, one of President Bush‘s closest allies and friends.
In an interview with the British paper, “The Sun, published today, Bush talked about Blair.
The president first shot down the perception that Blair was Bush‘s poodle. Then he opened up and admitted he was always jealous of Blair‘s ability to, well, speak. Bush said: “Tony‘s great skill—and I wish I had it—is that he‘s very articulate. I wish I was a better speaker.”
This guy can really, well, he can talk. So, President Bush, the thing he most admires about Tony Blair is his ability to speak the English language.
CARLSON: And there, Willie, is almost touching self-awareness.
GEIST: I k. That was a little bit poignant.
CARLSON: Willie Geist from headquarters.
GEIST: All right.
CARLSON: It is poignant.
That does it for us.
Thanks for watching.
“HARDBALL” next with Chris Matthews.
We‘re back tomorrow.
See you then.
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