from MSNBC transcripts

"Scarborough Country"

for April 12, 2005

transcript of 10pm ET show segment

Guests: J.D. Hayworth, Paul Levinson



JOE SCARBOROUGH (HOST):: Boy, I'll tell you what. Our thoughts and prayers are certainly with Peter Jennings. I watched him throughout the 1980s and a good part of the 1990s, and he is just a great reporter. I don't always agree with him. I thought sometimes that he wasn't right down the middle. But you know what? I always trusted him. I trusted him, and I thought that Peter Jennings was reporting it straight and fair, in his mind, at least.

And we certainly... our thoughts and prayers are with him and also with his family in his ongoing battle.

For weeks now, the flagship of the liberal media, The New York Times, has been running a story about the alleged misdeeds of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. The problem is that, so far, DeLay, you know what, a lot like Rush Limbaugh, hasn't been charged with anything. Now, compare that coverage - and I say its a feeding frenzy - to the almost nonexistent coverage of Sandy Berger.

Now, Sandy Berger, of course, the former Clinton national security adviser who pleaded guilty to stealing five top secret, classified documents from the National Archives, not once, but twice, and also destroying - and I mean it - he destroyed, he shredded up three of those documents. And yet, where is the coverage on that?

Here to tell us why Tom DeLay is under attack, while Sandy Berger gets a free pass, at least it seems to me, is Congressman J.D. Hayworth from Arizona. And we're also bringing on Paul Levinson in a minute.

J.D., I got to tell you something. You got 16 major newspapers that have assigned individual reporters to track down Tom DeLay. The guy is under constant attack day in, day out. And yet, he hasn't been charged with a crime. What is going on here?

REP. J.D. HAYWORTH (R) ARIZONA: Well, it's the great sport in Washington, D.C., which is, let's get the Republican. Let's get the Republican leader, especially if he is effective in the House of Representatives, especially if, with apologies to Chris Matthews, he plays hardball.

But the bottom line is effectiveness. And this is something we have seen before. And you find a couple of Republicans who will go wobbly. Or, if you are one who is inclined to believe Bob Novak's column, as I am, The New York Times editorial page goes out and tries to find a former member of Congress to try to trash DeLay, as they tried to do with former Appropriations Committee Chairman Bob Livingston, who declined to write a column critical of DeLay. And they said, oh, well, thank you very much. We will look elsewhere.

(CROSSTALK)

HAYWORTH: It is the agenda-setting of the media. And let's face it, Joe. You have been on both sides of this, as have I, as a former television reporter, albeit a sportscaster. The sport is going after Republicans, and that is part and parcel of what we have seen here for the better part of a decade.

SCARBOROUGH: Well, J.D., you know, a lot of Democrats would say that The New York Times and other newspapers went after Bill Clinton with a vengeance in the 1990s. We can talk about that in a second.

But, first, let's take people inside the process. With Newt Gingrich, we were on different sides during that battle. I thought Newt Gingrich had become a liability. I thought it was time for him to leave. You stood by him. You thought that Newt needed to stay. We had a disagreement, but there was a split, especially among the freshmen Republicans. What is it like? Take us inside the Republican Caucus room now, because, as you know, when two, three, four members of your own party start peeling off, things start to get pretty hairy.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH: Other than Chris Shays, anybody else turning their back on Tom DeLay?

HAYWORTH: See, here's the thing.

And close-circuit to Rahm Emanuel and DCCC, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, folks, keep it up, because what you are doing is you're solidifying the Republican base. You are solidifying the Republican conference, except for one errant voice that has a different constituency. You are actually bringing the conference together.

And you couple that with their widely announced notion of obstruction. Its real interesting. With apologies to the Fox series The O.C., what you have from the left, from Rahm Emanuel and Nancy Pelosi, is O.C., not Orange County, but obstruction and then charges of corruption, never substantiated, just the questions, and recycled stories from their accomplices in the media.

SCARBOROUGH: Give me names. OK. Give me names. If you are keeping score at home, you've got Chris Shays coming out saying DeLay needs to resign. Any other Republicans breaking ranks right now? Because, as you know and as I know, when two, three, four start breaking ranks, it spreads like an infection. Anybody else out there?

HAYWORTH: No, no, no, I don't see it out there.

And, in fact, just to take you back to the whole Newt situation, the bottom line was, for former Speaker Gingrich, how he became the former Speaker, was in wake of the midterm elections in 1998. And that wasn't the Republican conference. That was the verdict of the people. When you lose seats when you are projected to gain seats, thats an electoral loss. And the guy at the top takes the blame for it. So, thats what happened in that situation, sure.

SCARBOROUGH: All right, stay right there, J.D. We are going to be coming back talking to you.

Also, Paul Levinson is going to be coming in, taking the other side, right after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH: were Back With Congressman J.D. Hayworth. And let's bring in Fordham University Professor Paul Levinson.

Paul, explain to me, if you will, how you have Sandy Berger, top national security guy for the Clinton administration, steals five documents, classified documents, shreds three of them at the height of the 9/11 hearings, and we dont hear about it in the press?

PAUL LEVINSON, CHAIR, MEDIA STUDIES, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Well, the answer is simple. Sandy Berger today is yesterday's chopped meat, in contrast to Tom DeLay, who currently holds a very important position in Congress.

The media are watchdogs. We don't want them watching George Washington's administration or Franklin Roosevelt's or Bill Clinton's. We want them watching people who are currently in power in government. So, it's completely appropriate that The Times covers Tom DeLay and only rarely covers Sandy Berger.

SCARBOROUGH: But don't you want to know why Sandy Berger, at the height of the 9/11 hearings, destroyed documents, stole documents from the National Archives?

LEVINSON: Sure, I want to know. I am curious. That's really, though, only historically interesting. Tom DeLay is in a position to do danger and harm right now, if the charges are...

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

LEVINSON: Well, I'm glad your guest is laughing. But the fact is there are...

HAYWORTH: Its just so absurd, Paul.

LEVINSON: There are serious allegations. And The Times is reporting...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH: One at a time.

LEVINSON: The Times is reporting the allegations. Your saying that they are not true doesn't prove that they're not true. The Times is doing their job by letting the American people know about these ongoing charges.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH: You got a couple seconds.

HAYWORTH: Yes, just, the important thing, Joe, is this.

Buried in the story is the fact that Tom DeLay has committed no crime. In the meantime, Sandy "Burglar" has stolen documents from the National Archives, committed a crime. It's true. He lied to the press after he was caught. And it has an important perspective on what is happening today.

SCARBOROUGH: All right.

Thank you, J.D.

Thank you, Professor.

Well see you tomorrow night in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.




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