Guest: Ari Fleischer, Martha Zoller, Rachel Maddow, Mark Simone, Ken Baker, John Small, Paul Waldman, Ann Coulter
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: He‘s a former KKK member, and now he‘s comparing Republicans to Adolf Hitler. But why do the elite media and Democrats continue to praise Senator Robert Byrd?
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, no passport required and only common sense allowed.
Senator Robert Byrd under fire for his outrageous comments about Adolf Hitler on the Senate floor, but, still, the usual suspects come to his defense. And you are not going to believe what Ted Kennedy had to say about this one.
And from the big house to the penthouse. After five months in prison, Martha Stewart gets out of jail tomorrow. With a revitalized career and two new TV shows, she is hot again. But, after breaking the law, is Martha about to take an even bigger financial fall?
And it seems like everybody on TV like to show the White House, and cast it as a Democratic activist playing the president. Well, now it‘s Geena Davis‘ turn, and, of course, you know, I‘ve got issues with that.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: We begin—we begin tonight with Senator Robert Byrd.
Now, it‘s time you know the truth about this man from West Virginia. Listen to what he said on the Senate floor on Tuesday, when he compared Republicans to Adolf Hitler.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ROBERT BYRD (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Hitler never abandoned the cloak of legality. He never abandoned the cloak of legality. He recognized the enormous psychological value of having the law on his side. Instead, he turned the law inside out and made it—made this illegality legal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Now, of course, this former Klansman also went on to talk about how the Republicans—and I am quoting him here—were “incinerating”—incinerating, a clear reference to the Holocaust—
“incinerating the rights of Democrats.”
Now, of course, this is outrageous, but, sadly, it‘s nothing new. First elected to the Senate in 1958, Robert Byrd‘s history with controversy seems to be unparalleled by anybody else in our government.
Let‘s take a look at some of the shocking, disturbing moments in Byrd‘s career that have been ignored by Democrats and the press. He‘s the only former Ku Klux Klan member in the United States government. He filibustered the 1964 Civil Rights Act for 14 straight hours. He‘s the only senator to vote against both African-American Supreme Court justice nominees, Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas. And he used a racial slur, the N-word, twice in a 2001 TV interview.
Now, it‘s only natural to ask, why is this man still in the leadership of Congress? And not only that, but why do both the elite media and the Democratic establishment praise Robert Byrd? Amazingly, they came out in defense of Byrd‘s rant on Tuesday. Senator Teddy Kennedy called his comparison of Republicans to Nazis “excellent, well thought out, reasoned, compelling, legitimate, and persuasive.”
And, of course, he has been the darling of the elite media for years now. This former Klansman in 1999 was written of “The Washington Post,” and they said this—quote—“Despite a 41-year career in the Senate, Byrd‘s name is attached to little high-profile, big-idea legislation. Instead, he has become something of a Senate conscience.”
The conscience of the Senate, huh? A former kleagle leader in the KKK
who once told a senator he would never serve in an integrated Army, saying
· quote—“Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.”
With me now to talk about Robert Byrd and his history and his present is Ann Coulter. She‘s the author of “How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must).” And Paul Waldman, he‘s the author of “Fraud: The Strategy Behind The Bush Lies and Why The Media Don‘t Tell You About It.”
Ann, let me start with you.
A lot of this information, even though I knew Byrd was a former Klansman, is shocking to me. I know it‘s shocking to a lot of Americans. Why does he continue to get away with it?
ANN COULTER, AUTHOR, “HOW TO TALK TO A LIBERAL (IF YOU MUST)”:
Probably because he is one of the leading lights in the Democratic Party.
They really—they have been intellectually vanquished. What else do they have out there? Also, in your description of how he has been defended in the mainstream media, just a few years ago, “Vanity Fair” gave the former Klanner a profiles of courage award in an article written by Dee Dee Myers.
And one other thing I was going to mention about Byrd is, I mean, you would think he would stay away from this, though he can speak with authority on a fascist organization, having been a charter member of one in this country.
SCARBOROUGH: Isn‘t it interesting, Ann, that a former Klansman has the audacity to call Republicans in the Senate Nazis, for the most part, for a simple change in Senate rules?
COULTER: Well, that is the argument of someone who has no other argument left, and that describes the whole Democratic Party right now.
PAUL WALDMAN, AUTHOR, “FRAUD”: Hold on a second, Joe. He didn‘t call Republicans Nazis. That little piece you did was a masterpiece of distortion and things taken out of context 40 years ago.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second. Stop right there. Tell me one thing I said in there that was not the truth.
WALDMAN: You said he called Republicans Nazis, and that‘s not true, Joe. Come on. You know that.
SCARBOROUGH: What did he say, then?
COULTER: No, he compared Republicans to Hitler, saying that this change in rules, yes, it can be done legally, but Adolf Hitler operated legally also.
COULTER: That‘s comparing a change in rules to Hitler.
SCARBOROUGH: And Mussolini operated in the same way. Then he went on
· this was his big selling point. He said, and Republicans, like Nazis, are incinerating. He uses the word incinerating, incinerating the rights of the Democratic Party.
Now, you tell me, what is he talking about? Is he talking about burning leaves in Washington, D.C., on a cool fall day, or is he talking about the Holocaust?
WALDMAN: Maybe that‘s what you heard. Maybe that‘s what you heard, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: No, no, no, no, no. That‘s the speech. That‘s the speech. Have you not heard the speech?
WALDMAN: Yes, I read it.
Getting lecture from ANN COULTER on rhetorical civility is like having Jose Canseco tell you not to do drugs. You know...
SCARBOROUGH: Well, OK, attack Ann Coulter, but respond to the Anti-Defamation League director, Abe Foxman.
This is what he said: “It is hideous, outrageous and offensive for Senator Byrd to suggest that the Republican Party‘s tactics could in any way resemble those of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party.”
OK, Ann—Ann has been attacked now. That‘s fine. Now would you like to attack Abe Foxman? Is he also just throwing rhetorical darts?
WALDMAN: No, look, people get very sensitive, and rightfully so, about analogies to Nazi Germany, whether they‘re direct or indirect. And he never came out and said, you are like Hitler. He—this is in the middle of a long dissertation on history, which you know that Robert Byrd...
COULTER: Why was Hitler mentioned?
WALDMAN: Well, you know, you would have to ask him that. But...
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, come on.
COULTER: Well, to act like he didn‘t compare Republicans to Hitler, oh, gee, I didn‘t pick that up from the speech. Why was Hitler even mentioned in the speech?
WALDMAN: Look, you know, he decided to make a whole series of historical analogies. Maybe we would have chosen a different one.
But, you know, the idea that this is such a terrible insult and we should—you know, it‘s so important that we find a quote from 40 or 50 years ago that he said that we can take out of context, like you did, Joe, and make people think he did it today.
And, Joe, I have one more thing actually about this. You complain all the time about the elite media. You know who the elite media is, Joe. It‘s you. You have your own television show.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, am I—am I the elite media?
SCARBOROUGH: Is that how it works?
WALDMAN: You give me my own television show and I‘ll be the elite media.
SCARBOROUGH: I am one of the few people that is actually talking about this. I started talking about it yesterday on my radio show.
WALDMAN: That‘s not true.
SCARBOROUGH: The networks aren‘t talking about it. They are not going to hold this man accountable.
I will guarantee you that 99 percent of Americans have no idea that this guy said he would rather America be driven into the dirt than ever work or fight beside an African-American.
WALDMAN: When did he say that?
SCARBOROUGH: And if they knew that, they would be stunned.
WALDMAN: Joe, what is the date on that quote?
SCARBOROUGH: Well, he said it back in—he said it back in the 1940s, 1950s.
WALDMAN: OK. OK.
SCARBOROUGH: “The Washington Post” quoted it.
That‘s fine. Well, can you name anybody else? You and I both know, had a Republican or had a conservative Democrat said the same thing, they would never, ever see the light of day in the United States Senate.
COULTER: Well, let‘s talk about what he said today. Let‘s stick to what he is talking about today.
I mean, my liberal counterpart—I‘m sorry, I forgot your name—keeps saying, well, why are we even talking about this? Well, this is a major Democratic senator.
WALDMAN: I didn‘t why are we talking about this.
COULTER: Not even a congressman. This was a speech that was given yesterday about something that‘s very important that‘s going on right now. He is hailed as a profile in courage in “Vanity Fair” just a few years ago.
If you want to give us something else to talk to, I‘d love to, but this is the most the Democratic Party is giving us. All we get are ex-Klanners and nuts to argue with now. And, frankly, it‘s not really helping either my career or Joe Scarborough‘s career.
WALDMAN: All we get are ex-Klanners? All we get are ex-Klanners?
What are you talking about?
COULTER: And nuts, and nuts, I said.
COULTER: If you guys have a smart guy you want to send in, I‘d love to hear him.
SCARBOROUGH: Paul Waldman, this is what I—this is what—this is what I think Americans need to know, Paul. And you respond to it, OK?
If the Democrats take back control of the United States Senate, then this man, Robert Byrd, is third in line to be president of the United States. And, in the age of terror, he could be president of the United States. Does that not concern you, that, in the United States Senate, somebody with that much power and that much respect has, without a doubt, the most racist past of anybody, I mean, when Trent Lott makes an off-the-cuff comment and gets driven from his leadership post?
WALDMAN: Well, he absolutely has repudiated everything that he did back in the 1940s, when—you know, we are talking about over half-a-century ago. He said it was the biggest mistake of his life.
So, we absolutely can talk about this. And the idea that no one else is talking about it, that‘s not true. They are talking about it on Fox News. They are talking about it on conservative talk radio. The entire network has been activated. I don‘t know if you got your RNC talking points this morning. And that‘s why we are doing a show about it. But...
SCARBOROUGH: You know what? I don‘t read RNC talking points.
WALDMAN: Well, good for you.
SCARBOROUGH: But I do know this. If a Republican—if a Republican had compared the Democratic Party to Nazi Germany, I would be on tonight talking about it.
And, Ann Coulter, you can attest to the fact that I catch a lot of garbage from conservatives because I go after the Republicans the same way I go after Democrats.
COULTER: Well, also, if it were Republican, I would have read about it in “The New York Times.”
SCARBOROUGH: Where is “The Times”? Where is “The Washington Post”?
Where is “The L.A. Times”?
WALDMAN: Front page, above the fold.
SCARBOROUGH: Why haven‘t they—why haven‘t they editorialized on this, Paul?
WALDMAN: I don‘t know. It just happened yesterday. Maybe they will.
Maybe they won‘t.
WALDMAN: You know, listen...
COULTER: There was an important story about the Augusta National Golf course.
WALDMAN: Listen, you may think this is the most important...
SCARBOROUGH: Again, again, let‘s look at Trent Lott, OK? Trent Lott praises Strom Thurmond, he loses his position. Christopher Dodd comes out, praises this guy, a former Klansman, says that at any time in his history or West Virginia‘s history, he would have made a great senator for the state of West Virginia. Nobody pays attention.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘m concerned about that. I don‘t think that‘s fair.
WALDMAN: Joe, you know who went after Trent Lott? You know very well. It wasn‘t the liberals. It wasn‘t the Democrats. It was the Republicans and the conservatives that went after Trent Lott, because they knew that he was dangerous to them, to their project to try to pull away from their racist history.
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s funny.
WALDMAN: Which comes up again every two years when they try to stop African-Americans from voting.
COULTER: You know, this...
SCARBOROUGH: You know, that‘s funny you talk...
WALDMAN: That‘s why they went after him.
SCARBOROUGH: Paul, that‘s funny you talk about a racist history. I am so glad you did, because, again, it was the Democrats in 1964 that tried to filibuster the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
WALDMAN: And all those Democrats are Republicans now.
SCARBOROUGH: Eighty percent of those Republicans -- 80 percent of the Republicans there voted for the Civil Rights Act. Sixty percent of Democrats did.
And there was Robert Byrd standing on the House, on the Senate floor, filibustering for over 14 hours because he hated African-Americans.
WALDMAN: And he has repudiated that. And, Joe, all those...
SCARBOROUGH: Ann Coulter, Paul Waldman, thanks so much.
WALDMAN: All those Republicans are Democrats—all those Democrats are Republicans now.
SCARBOROUGH: You know what, Paul? If that makes you feel better and helps you sleep at night, great.
WALDMAN: It‘s true, Joe. It‘s the truth, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Thanks a lot. We appreciate you all being here. Coming
· it‘s not the truth.
Coming up next, Martha Stewart is moving from the big house back to the penthouse and back to a lucrative career, including two new TV shows. Hey, she broke the law, but would you really even know it?
And meet TV‘s newest president. It‘s actress Geena Davis. Why is it every time there‘s a show about the White House, a Democratic activist is cast as president? That‘s coming up.
SCARBOROUGH: Martha Stewart gets out of prison tomorrow with a revitalized career, including two new TV shows, and stock markets going through the roof. After breaking the law, is she getting the last laugh?
SCARBOROUGH: Welcome back.
Martha Stewart could be getting out of prison in the next few hours. She is going to be released tomorrow morning from the Alderson, West Virginia, jail that she has called home for the past five months.
CNBC‘S Mike Huckman joins us now from West Virginia.
Mike, what‘s the very latest?
MIKE HUCKMAN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, good evening, Joe, from tiny and very cold Alderson, West Virginia, home of Martha Stewart for actually just a few more hours, because, earlier this evening, Martha Stewart‘s people did issue a press release saying that she will apparently be leaving the federal women‘s prison camp here in Alderson just after midnight Eastern time tonight.
They said that reporters can expect to see her at a small airport about 30 minutes from here between 12:30 a.m. Eastern time and 1:30 a.m. Eastern time, where she will apparently board a private jet that will fly her to New York. And then she will go to her home in Bedford, New York, where she will begin her additional five months of house arrest. She will leave this facility, Joe, with a new piece of jewelry, if you will, courtesy the federal corrections system.
And that piece of jewelry, of course, is going to be an ankle
bracelet, AKA, an electronic tether. And that‘s so they can monitor her
movement within her house in Bedford, New York. She can only go to work
for no more than 48 hours a week, and go out to get necessities. Even with
her three Emmy nominations for her TV show earlier this week, she is going
to have to get special permission to go to the Emmy Award ceremony in late
But, at this point—and there‘s a train coming through this country area, as you can hear in the background right now—we hear that Martha Stewart will be leaving here just after midnight Eastern time. Tonight, she will be back in New York in the wee hours of the morning—back to you.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thanks so much, Mike. We appreciate that report.
With us now to talk about Martha‘s release from jail is CNBC‘s Jim Cramer. We got John Small, editor of SaveMartha.com, and Ken Baker. He‘s West Coast bureau chief of “Us Weekly.”
Let‘s start with you, Jim Cramer.
OK, so, if you are keeping score at home, Martha is free. Her stock is down. Martha is incarcerated, her stock triples. Martha is going to be free after midnight tonight. What is going to happen to the stock?
JIM CRAMER, CO-HOST, “KUDLOW & CRAMER”: I think this stock is going to go down.
I got to tell you, Joe, bulls make money. Bears make money. Pigs get slaughtered. She has had an amazing luxury. The feds didn‘t want her trading when she was in. She‘s going to get out. I think she‘s going to feel piggish. First thing she is going to do, I think she unloads a lot of stock. This stock is up from 7. I would take profits if I were you.
SCARBOROUGH: Jim, why is it up from 7? This lady gets thrown in the big house, and her stock explodes. I mean, it‘s almost at an all-time high.
CRAMER: Look, I was all in favor of going to the big house, but she has paid her dues.
There are five firms on Wall Street, major firms, like Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, they are all recommending sell the stock. This is a classic short squeeze, Joe. What‘s happened here is, so many people bet against the stock, but once the stock from Martha Stewart—and she has 28 million shares—once she starts selling stock, I think that the whole tightness will end. The short squeeze will go, and this stock heads to the mid-20s, pronto.
SCARBOROUGH: John small, let‘s look at Martha before she went to jail.
JOHN SMALL, SAVEMARTHA.COM: Wait. I think Jim has got the stock thing all wrong. Her vegetable stock is wonderful.
SMALL: I recommend it...
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey. I will let you talk about Martha‘s stock in a second.
SCARBOROUGH: I want you to think—let me take—keep control of this show for as long as I can.
SMALL: Oh, it‘s your show. Go ahead.
Here we have Martha at Camp Cupcake. And now let‘s show you a picture of her on the cover of “Newsweek,” looking much more trim and fit. They say “Martha‘s Last Laugh.” She looks better. She is richer. I mean, come on. You know, you should have had a Web site that “Jail Martha” now, because this has been the best career move she has ever had.
SMALL: I am telling you, Martha is going to make the biggest comeback we have ever seen, and I think she is the new, the new domestic diva on the block to watch out for.
And, as for the stock, the vegetable stock is what I recommend, Jim.
That‘s the one you want to go for.
SMALL: But at midnight tonight, when she is released, we are going to come out with this new Alderson and Martha‘s number on it, free at last. We are so happy that Martha Stewart is out and that she is going to come back and run her empire. I think she is going to do fine.
CRAMER: No, look, this is a classic case—and I don‘t mean to interrupt our third guest, but just understand, this stock has been on a tear.
Joe, I have been a professional money manager almost all my life. This company cannot possibly ride through the valley of bad earnings until they finally have all these TV deals play. I love the guy‘s T-shirt, but I will tell you something. I would rather have the T-shirt and sell the stock.
SMALL: You got one, Jim.
SCARBOROUGH: Jim—Jim Baker, let‘s talk about Martha Stewart and what has happened, the very bizarre trajectory of her media empire and her career since she went to jail. Do you think Martha is going to rise again or you think it‘s going to be a cold, cold day when she gets out of jail?
KEN BAKER, “US WEEKLY”: Well, I will get to what‘s going to happen after midnight tonight in a second. But, first, let‘s look at the last few months.
We love Martha Stewart more than we ever have, because we haven‘t seen Martha Stewart. We can project anything onto her, all the sympathy in the world, because, before that woman went into jail—I think I speak for most people who are watching tonight—we didn‘t like her. She was smug. She was conceded. She was apparently a criminal.
So we didn‘t really like her. She did something masterful. She went to a prison in West Virginia. She went away. We could feel sorry for her for the first time in our lives. The big test is now. She comes back. Is she going to be smug? Is she going to get in front of the cameras? It used to be, you put a microphone in front of her in front of a camera, and she makes herself look like an ass.
BAKER: So, I don‘t know. Is she going to do this again?
SCARBOROUGH: Jim Cramer, let‘s go back to Martha‘s empire, her media empire. You know, it‘s interesting that Donald Trump had some of the best spin with “The Apprentice,” and yet he runs into financial trouble with his casinos.
Here, you have got Martha Stewart, great spin. But the bottom line is, like you are saying, if the numbers don‘t add up, if the bottom line doesn‘t look good to investors, then she is going to—she is going to lose a big chunk of her media empire.
CRAMER: Look, it‘s a $1.7 billion company with no earnings, with declining pages, with a Web site that is not doing well.
The only play with this woman in the next six months—and I own this stock for my charitable trust—is Kmart. See, Martha Stewart is short merchandise, Joe. She doesn‘t have enough stuff to sell right now. The TV shows aren‘t ready yet. She is going to be walking the aisles doing the blue-light special. Hey, listen, Kmart is merging with Sears. Maybe she‘s on to something.
But I have got to tell you, this woman doesn‘t have enough product to take advantage of her now good name.
SCARBOROUGH: How does a TV show help Martha‘s fortune?
CRAMER: Well, the TV show, I mean, remember, the daytime goes to her. The prime time, it‘s a split. You have got this fellow Burnett who is really money in the bag.
I think what will happen is, it will enable her to sell lots of new wares. Hopefully, the advertisers will come back for the magazine. But, right now, when you take a look at what they have on the shelves, nothing really accrues to her, which is why I think the stock is overvalued.
SCARBOROUGH: John, I will give you the last word. Go ahead.
SMALL: Look, Jim, you know that Martha gets a guaranteed payment from Kmart. So, that part of the equation is out. She has got that. She needs the advertisers to come back.
That‘s what—that‘s what we are trying to do at SaveMartha.com. We‘re supporting her advertisers. We‘re telling people to buy those products from those people. And we‘re hoping that more advertisers and sponsors come now that Martha Stewart Omnimedia is being reborn. Martha has risen from the ashes. And I would hate to bet against her right now.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, I‘ll tell you what. A lot of people bet against her a couple months ago and paid for it. We will see, though, if people that bet with her pay for it, like our buddy Jim Cramer says they will. I think he is exactly right. Martha is going to sell a lot of her stock, and Wall Street is going to follow. And she is going to lose tens of millions of dollars in a couple days.
Hey, we‘ll be right back in a second with our political panel.
SCARBOROUGH: Up next, more on former KKK member Senator Robert Byrd and his comments about Hitler on the Senate floor. Plus, we are going to be talking about the death penalty for juveniles.
But, first, here‘s the news your family needs to know.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s time now for our weekly radio rumble, where we let the leading talk radio personalities in the country tackle the issues of the day.
With me tonight, we‘ve got Air America‘s Rachel Maddow. We‘ve got Martha Zoller, who hosts “The Martha Zoller Show” from Atlanta. And we‘ve got Mark Simone from New York‘s WABC Radio.
Let‘s start with you, Rachel. I want to have you listen to Senator Byrd comparing Republicans to Adolf Hitler.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BYRD: Hitler never abandoned the cloak of legality. He never abandoned the cloak of legality. He recognized the enormous psychological value of having the law on his side. Instead, he turned the law inside out and made it—made this illegality legal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And then, of course, he went on, ended his speech by talking about Republicans trying to incinerate the rights of Democrats. Unbelievable.
Then we had Senator Teddy Kennedy calling those remarks—quote—
“excellent, well thought out, reasoned, compelling, legitimate, and persuasive.”
Let‘s go to you, Rachel. Do you agree with Teddy Kennedy that comparing Republicans to Adolf Hitler and the Nazis is well thought out?
RACHEL MADDOW, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, Joe, I am one of those people who thinks that a Holocaust analogy, a World War II analogy is never appropriate. I think that nobody should ever do it.
And so, therefore, I am not enthusiastic about what Robert Byrd said. I mean, that clip that you just played right now, that is historically accurate, when he‘s talking about what happened when Hitler was the leader of Germany. That‘s actually true.
SCARBOROUGH: Sure. Sure.
MADDOW: Using it in politics...
SCARBOROUGH: The problem was, the problem is, he tied it to the Republicans later on.
MADDOW: Right. And using a Hitler analogy or a Nazi analogy I don‘t think is ever appropriate in politics.
But Robert Byrd is certainly not the first person to do it. I mean, Rush Limbaugh calls women feminazis. We‘ve got Tom DeLay calling the EPA Gestapo. We‘ve got the NRA saying federal agents are jackbooted thugs. This has a long history, a long bad history in American politics on both sides. This is not a Robert Byrd problem.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Mark Simone, do you agree with Rachel? Is this a Robert Byrd problem? Or do Republicans do this as much as Democrats?
MARK SIMONE, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, it‘s a Democratic problem.
First of all, Nazis, Gestapo, unfortunately, we use it all the time in our language. You know, that “Seinfeld” did that episode called “The soup Nazis.” These words are thrown around. But for a guy who thought the Klan was such a great thing that he went out and recruited for it, to be talking about Nazis, there‘s just something wrong.
And I think the problem is, the Democrats have to stop trying to paint Bush as evil, corrupt, a crook. Nobody is buying it. You sound like Lyndon LaRouche when you do that.
SCARBOROUGH: Martha Zoller, should Robert Byrd be censured for his remarks?
MARTHA ZOLLER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, I think that, definitely, his leagues colleagues should not be saying they are well thought out. This is not the first time that he has made comments like this.
These are inappropriate comments on the floor of the Senate. And for Teddy Kennedy to go along and say they are well thought out, I think Robert Byrd is far beyond his time in the Senate. You know, what‘s sad is, he used to be a great historian of the Constitution. Now he is just sad.
MADDOW: I totally disagree. You look at what Robert Byrd said in lead-up to the Iraq war, the eloquence of his statements that turned out to be true about rushing to war without the facts.
MADDOW: And the idea that his time—that—that his time is up in the Senate, you know what? He did a stupid thing when he was a young man. He said he‘s regretted it his entire life.
ZOLLER: When have we ever—when have we ever had all the facts going into war? When? If we waited for all the facts going into war, there would still be Nazis in Germany. If we waited for facts going into the war...
MADDOW: You‘re kidding.
ZOLLER: When do you know 100 percent?
MADDOW: How could we possibly know?
ZOLLER: When do you know 100 percent of what you‘re getting...
MADDOW: You know, wait. If we are going to claim that there‘s weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, I think we ought to just throw out the inspectors, say there are and call it a day.
ZOLLER: Have we had an attack on these...
MADDOW: Come on. That‘s ridiculous.
ZOLLER: Have we had an attack in America since 9/11? And did you believe on 9/12 that was possible? It‘s because of the policies of this president in fighting this war.
MADDOW: How do you know that? How do you know that?
MADDOW: How do you know that, retroactively looking back at what has happened since 9/11? We had an attack on the World Trade Center under Bill Clinton once, too, over the time of eight years, right?
ZOLLER: Yes, and he did nothing. He did nothing.
MADDOW: And he did nothing, OK.
George W. Bush, we had 9/11. Why is it more impressive...
ZOLLER: No. We had many more. No, no, we had many more attacks on America since they attacked on the towers.
MADDOW: George W. Bush—George W. Bush was in office on 9/11 when 9/11 happened. Why is that something to be proud of? Why is that something to be proud of?
MADDOW: You look at what we did in Iraq. What does that have to do with what has happened since 9/11?
SCARBOROUGH: Martha, hold on a second. You know what? I don‘t know how it happens, but it does always seem to happen. The debate always seem to go back to 9/11 and the war in Iraq.
Let‘s move on. Earlier this week, the Supreme Court ruled that states can no longer execute convicted killers under the age of 18. I want to ask our panel how they feel about that, allowing these—these—some would say monsters to live.
Let‘s talk about Mark Anthony Duke, who shot and cut the throats of his father, his father‘s fiancee, and her two little girls, or Christopher Simmons, who hog-tied an innocent women, threw her off a bridge to her death, and then laughed that he would never be executed because he was too young.
Mark Simone, good decision by the U.S. Supreme Court or bad?
SIMONE: Well, you know, the idea of executing children, it just sounds awful and inhumane.
But I happen to be pro-choice, so I can‘t be against it. If I am OK with executing a fetus, I‘ve got to be against executing a child. I what you have to do here is, you‘ve got to do this case by case. You know, we don‘t execute all murderers. It‘s only for the most extreme crimes. And do it case by case, and let a jury decide if the death penalty is called for in a certain case.
SCARBOROUGH: Rachel, I guess that‘s the biggest problem. I think most people have big problems with juveniles being executed.
SCARBOROUGH: But, at the same time, in this case, in this Alabama case about Duke, you have got a guy who was 17, planned all the murders, slit the throats of 6 and 7-year-old girls. His friends that went along who were 18 years old, they are going to be executed now, despite the fact that it was a 17-year-old that orchestrated all of this stuff and cut them up.
MADDOW: Listen, when horrible crimes happen, we all think about vengeance, right? We all think about what we would like to do to the guy who did this awful thing.
But the way our justice system works, you don‘t let the families of the murder victim get their hands personally on the murderer and strangle him. You don‘t let that happen, even though that‘s what we all viscerally want. You instead say, we are going to allow a prosecutor, in the name the people, to charge this guy with a crime and execute the sentence that we think is appropriate.
Now, we are the only country, aside from Iran, China, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, who think that you can execute children. That‘s it.
SCARBOROUGH: Should we base—I mean, but should we—should we really—should we really base our criminal justice system on what France or Germany does?
ZOLLER: Well, and, Joe...
MADDOW: Who said France? Where did France come from?
SCARBOROUGH: Anybody. You could name any country.
MADDOW: Listen, you have got to look at our standing, our moral standing in the world. We are saying we are going abroad and spread democracy around the globe. We‘re going to be a...
SCARBOROUGH: Which we are.
MADDOW: ... beacon of hope liberty to the world. We are going to do that.
SCARBOROUGH: Which we are.
MADDOW: And we are going to stand with Iran, Pakistan, China and Saudi Arabia and execute juveniles and we‘re going to get rid of the Geneva Convention, and that‘s how we are going to be a beacon to the world.
ZOLLER: First of all, we are not—first of all, we are not executing juveniles.
MADDOW: ... how we are going to look in history, how we are going—when people go back and look at George Bush‘s time in office...
ZOLLER: We are not executing juveniles.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Martha, respond.
ZOLLER: We are not executing juveniles.
The two that are on death row that committed these crimes when they were 17 in Georgia are in their 30s now. We are not executing juveniles. And the other part of that, if we are going to go by what a few other countries do, we are one of only six countries in the world that allow abortion on demand.
Now, if we are going to go by international law, then, fine, let‘s outlaw all abortions, since most of the rest of the world does not think abortions are the right thing to do.
MADDOW: You ever notice that every domestic argument with right-wingers always comes back to abortion?
SCARBOROUGH: First of all, how do you know—how do you know she is a right-winger?
Mark Simone, let‘s move on. I tried to get away from the war, but we got to go to the war now. Earlier this week, “The New York Times” begrudgingly credited the Bush administration with helping spawn the spread of freedom in the Middle East.
This is what they said. I was shocked. “The Bush administration is entitled to claim a healthy share of credit for many of these advances that boldly proclaimed the cause of Middle East democracy when few in the West thought it had any realistic chance.”
Mark Simone, is this Bush administration‘s time to gloat?
SIMONE: Well, now, don‘t panic. It was just a bad day at “The New York Times.” I don‘t know what they were thinking.
I thought it was April 1 edition that came out early. But I am sure heads will roll over that. I can‘t explain why it happened, except maybe that the balance of things has changed in the Middle East, and maybe even “The New York Times” has to acknowledge it to a certain extent.
SCARBOROUGH: Rachel, you have got Lebanon, obviously, great things going on in Lebanon. People going to the streets the other night, it looked like Kiev back in December. Of course, good things happening in Iraq. It looks like there‘s going to be the Shia and the Sunnis coming together. Afghanistan, obviously things better of than when the Taliban were in charge.
Were you wrong? Was “The New York Times” wrong? Was George Bush right all along?
MADDOW: No. Not surprisingly, Joe, I am going to tell you that I wasn‘t wrong. I am sure you are shocked to hear that. But...
SCARBOROUGH: Shocked and stunned.
MADDOW: The situation here is that we went into Iraq because that Iraq, remember, posed a threat to the United States, weapons of mass destruction, a connection with all Qaeda, 45 minutes to launching weapons of mass destruction on a hair trigger. That‘s—there was a fear of Saddam Hussein, right?
MADDOW: And now we have gone to a war, and now they are saying, well, it was worth it because we are spreading democracy. This is equivalent...
MADDOW: The analogy here—this is—let me just give you an analogy. This is like a drunk driver driving his car into your living room and then saying, give me an award for being an air bag tester, because didn‘t that work out OK?
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Rachel, though, hold on a second.
MADDOW: Come on. You crashed the car.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second. Hold on.
Rachel, you know, the thing is, though, that Bush and the administration were talking about the spread of democracy before the war. George Bush, remember, he made that famous speech before AEI in February, again, before the war. So, of course, WMDs, weapons of mass destruction, that was one part of it. But they were also talking about the spread of freedom, the spread of liberty, and how democracy would trump terrorism.
MADDOW: But the basic idea was to keep America safe. And if I think
MADDOW: ... you ask Americans, if you went back in time and asked Americans honestly, 1,500 Americans have been now killed in Iraq. We‘ve spent hundreds of billions of dollars. Americans, will you vote to go to this war in Iraq and give 1,500 lives and hundreds of billions of dollars so we can replace, we can put in place an Iranian-style theocracy instead of the guy who we...
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Rachel.
MADDOW: ... paid in the ‘70s and ‘80s to fight Iran? It‘s not worth it.
SCARBOROUGH: We got—we got to go on, Rachel. You know, I certainly disagree with you on an Iranian-style theocracy, when you have Sistani over there talking about how he has learned lessons of 1979 in Iran and he is not going to have a theocracy.
Hey, we want to thank our panel for being with us tonight, a great discussion.
We‘ll be right back in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY in a second talking about the next president of the United States. And she is a woman.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, I would vote for Eva Longoria if she were running for president. That‘s maybe that‘s why I have got issues.
First of all, I have got issues with Geena Davis as president of the United States. Now, Davis is set to star in a pilot for ABC called “Commander in Chief.” She is a longtime Democratic activist. She contributed thousands of dollars to John Kerry‘s campaign and the DNC. But she is also married, has three children, and is a member of Mensa. Sounds like Hillary Clinton had better watch her back.
And I have got issues with groups who have issues with—quote—
“heteronormative behavior.” Last Saturday, Jada Pinkett Smith was honored as artist of the year by Harvard Foundation for intercultural and race relations. Now, accepting her award, Pinkett Smith actually dared to say, “Women, you can have it all, a loving man, a devoted husband, loving children, a fabulous career.”
And now Harvard‘s Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Supporters Alliance wants an apology. That‘s right. They want an apology because, apparently, in making remarks specific to male-female relationships, Mrs. Will Smith was using a narrow, insensitive view of the world. How dare she be so heteronormative?
And, finally, I‘ve issues with Denise Richards and Charlie Sheen. First, Brad and Jen break up, and now this. Citing irreconcilable differences, Mrs. Richards filed for divorce from Mr. Sheen yesterday, despite being six months pregnant with the couple‘s second child. Now, you know, given Sheen‘s history, if he can‘t make a marriage to a former Bond girl work, I just don‘t think there‘s any hope for him left.
From the contentious 2000 election through 9/11 attacks, two wars and countless battles with the Democrats in Congress and, of course, media, Ari Fleischer served as White House press secretary for President Bush. Now, he has just written a book called “Taking Heat: The President, the Press, and My Years in the White House.”
And he is with us now to talk about his remarkable time in the West Wing.
Ari, great to have you with us here tonight.
ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Joe, thank you for having me.
SCARBOROUGH: Want to start with a basic question. From your experience—I mean, nobody has had a closer sort of interaction with the press than you. From your experience, is the media biased against Republicans and conservatives like the president?
FLEISCHER: Joe, what I wrote my book is I think that the first bias of the press is a bias in favor of conflict, regardless of who they cover.
But, secondarily, I do think that the press, by and large, sees policy issues, and especially social policy issues, far more through the eyes of Democrats than they do Republicans. And that‘s a bias that is a problem.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, in a shocking development, Ari—I know you were shocked—“The New York Times” really didn‘t have anything nice to say about your book.
In fact, I thought their review was personal, including insults like this—quote—“It is essentially a collection of talking points hastily pasted together, with large slatherings of vitriol and exasperation the author seems to have accumulated during his years as a pinata, his word for how he felt in the White House briefing room. In short, it‘s an extended exercise in Mr. Fleischer‘s spinning his own earlier spin.”
First of all, does this surprise you from “The New York Times”?
FLEISCHER: Well, no. And, you know, everybody has their right to their opinion.
But I really wrote a book that reflected what I saw. And I think readers are going to see a very different tone. They are going to see a respectful tone, because, Joe, I think it‘s also important to note, we are a better country because the press does get 1,000 facts right every day. And I point that out in the book.
But then I also wanted to discuss the things that I do think can be improved in the field of journalism, because journalism is a vital field for our country.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, Ari, but, you know, what do you say to Americans that have been reading “The New York Times,” “The L.A. Times,” been reading these editorials for the past two years, talking about what an idiot the president is, how people like you are spinners, how you lie to the press, and then, all of a sudden, two years later, just a few days ago, “The New York Times” basically said, whoops, we are wrong; the president‘s plan in Iraq actually may spread democracy across the Middle East?
I mean, after getting spun by the media that much for two years, how can we ever depend on anything we read from these mainstream media outlets?
FLEISCHER: Well, one of the points I make in the book is that the American people are increasingly turning off television and newspapers. They are watching far and far fewer TV shows. Viewership is down.
Readership is down.
And I think that the field of journalism would immensely improve its standing if it had more ideological diversity in the newsrooms. You know, a survey at the Boston convention, the Democrat Convention of journalists showed, by 12-1, journalists from outside the beltway thought John Kerry would make a better president than George W. Bush.
The field of journalism would be stronger if more conservatives were reporters and more conservatives felt that they could go into journalism and that would be a home for them. And I think that‘s a real problem that the media needs to grapple with.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, I think they are starting to, Ari.
But you know what is so interesting? You have this Jeff Gannon controversy, where a guy with a shady background asked pointed questions, basically leading questions to the president of the United States. I found it interesting—and I want to ask why it never happened—that when somebody like UPI‘s Helen Thomas, for instance, would ask very leading questions to you, to the president, nobody said a word.
And I want our viewers to listen to a clip of Helen Thomas grilling you. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HELEN THOMAS, UPI: Why is Bush going to bomb them?
THOMAS: I mean, how do you bomb people back to democracy? This is a question of conquest. They didn‘t ask to be liberated by the United States. This is our self-imposed political solution for them.
FLEISCHER: Let me guess that you will not be at the speech tonight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Ari, did you ever hear, when Helen Thomas, supposedly a respected member of the mainstream media, when Helen Thomas would ask those type of leading questions, anybody in the mainstream media ever criticize her?
FLEISCHER: No. No, Joe, you are right about that.
But the fact of the matter is, that room has got some people in it from the left and some people from the right. And I don‘t think people in government, press secretaries, should pick and choose who is in that room on the basis of ideology.
But what I saw time and time again was that the way the news gets told, you constantly see the words right-wing in print. You hardly ever see the word left-wing in print. You are often told that these people are conservatives. You are hardly ever told that these people are liberals. It appears sometime, but not often.
This is the type of subtle bias that I would see on a regular basis inside the government, inside the White house. I remember one report on ABC that summed up the Bush tax cut as trickle-down economics. Those words were from a Walter Mondale commercial against Ronald Reagan. This is the type of subtle bias that I would see on a regular basis that I wanted to write about, because there are examples that the American people should see.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Stick around, because, when we come back, I am going to be asking Ari Fleischer about the Dan Rather scandal at CBS. That‘s coming up in just a second.
SCARBOROUGH: Wake up grandma. Martha Stewart gets out of prison tonight at midnight. And you know what? MSNBC is going to be there live. Don‘t miss our full coverage hosted by Dan Abrams.
SCARBOROUGH: Final question. What was your take? I know you were out of public service by this point, but what was your take on the Dan Rather scandal that a lot of us believed revealed the inherent biases, not just with the anchors, but also with the producers that put all of these segments together in a time of a national campaign.
FLEISCHER: Well, my question is simple. Why were these conservative bloggers able to catch a mistake so quickly, but nobody in the CBS newsroom could?
It just makes me wonder. Are there any conservatives in that newsroom? And this is why I think the field of journalism would strengthen itself if it had more ideological diversity. I think CBS could have been saved a black eye if they had some conservatives who worked there who would have said, wait a minute, let‘s take a second look at this. I don‘t think anybody said that.
SCARBOROUGH: I think you are exactly right, Ari. Thanks so much for being with us.
Again, Ari Fleischer‘s new book is called “Taking Heat: The President, the Press, and My Years in the White House.” Anybody interested in understanding how the media really works needs to read this book.
Thanks for being with us tonight in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, Ari.
FLEISCHER: Joe, my pleasure. Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: And that‘s all the time we have for tonight. Now, you can go to my Web site, Joe.MSNBC.com.
And stick around, because “HARDBALL” is next. Good night.
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