http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0704/10/gb.01.html" (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
GLENN BECK, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, Imus slapped with a suspension.
DON IMUS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I will serve the suspension and then I will try to make this right to the best of my ability.
BECK: But is the I-man racist or does he just hate everybody?
And Obama drama. Barack, now the latest Democrat to boycott the FOX News debate.
Plus, the verdict on the Anna Nicole Smith paternity test. Who`s the real daddy? Drum roll, please.
All this and more, tonight.
BECK: As Don Imus continues to apologize for his offensive remarks, MSNBC as well as CBS Radio have announced they will suspend him for two weeks. Now the Rutgers women`s basketball team has agreed to meet with Imus, alone, at an undisclosed location.
Here`s the point tonight. In today`s world, the next Don Imus could be Rosie O`Donnell. It could be Bill Maher. It could be me. It could be you, and here`s how I got there.
This is what Imus had to say on "The Today Show" this morning. It was part of his mea culpa tour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IMUS: I don`t think it`s a slap on the wrist. I think it`s significant and I think, because I`ve tried to -- and I haven`t been on some P.R. campaign, by the way, to try to -- to try to make up for these repugnant comments I made. Because I don`t have a P.R. agent. I`m not represented.
I apologized to these young women on my program yesterday morning, but it was comedy. It wasn`t a malicious rant. And I wasn`t angry. I wasn`t drunk. I wasn`t stating some sort of philosophy. As I said yesterday morning, I`m not a racist and I`ve demonstrated that in my deeds and my work.
All right. Let me be absolutely, 1,000 percent crystal clear here. What Don Imus said was disgusting and indefensible. However, that describes his entire radio show. He`s been doing this for 30 years. I could literally fill an entire hour of examples of Don Imus being racially an insensitive jerk. But in the interest of time, let me just give you a couple of examples.
When Imus appeared on "60 Minutes" in 1998, he said that his sidekick Bernard McGuirk was there to do "N" word jokes. He said that, but for the grace of God Snoop Dogg would be eating monkey carcasses back in Africa. He also referred to Lynn Berman, the sports caster, as Lenny the Jew.
Hello. Those remarks are just as awful, if not more so. Why then was he fired? Why is he fired? Why are people calling for his head now on this issue? He hasn`t changed, and quite honestly, I`m sad to say, I don`t think society has changed either. We are, after all, an uncivil society, one that he helped pioneer.
This is what we do to each other now for entertainment purposes. You know that, right? It`s only getting worse. It`s not getting better. And if you don`t believe me, check out the first few weeks of any season of "American Idol", when the judges are basically laughing at troubled people and tearing them apart. You can`t really say that America`s family show, "American Idol", is helping create a culture of civility.
Don Imus is a guy who has been offending people from all walks of life for three decades. I don`t know Don Imus, but I don`t think he`s a racist. I really truly believe -- I think he hates everybody equally, including himself. He is basically your bitter old uncle who you kind of ignore when he says a bunch of crazy stuff at Thanksgiving. The only difference is this guy is getting paid millions of dollars for it.
But here`s the scary thing that I think everybody is missing in this. If Imus ultimately gets fired for his remarks, how does that affect our First Amendment rights? Don Imus is not Mel Gibson. He`s not a guy that you always thought was nice before he made a bunch of hateful remarks on the side of the road.
Don Imus was never nice. What he said was offensive, but who did this surprise? If Imus goes, who`s next? Is it Keith Olbermann? Is it Rosie O`Donnell? Is it me? Is it you? Who needs to be shut up next?
We need to stop forcing people to shut up and, instead, we should start appealing to people`s better nature and say look, man, that wasn`t cool and let the system work.
You know what? If you don`t like my opinion, if you`re screaming at your TV right now, don`t try to get me fired. Change the channel. It`s the American way of doing things.
So here`s what I know tonight. What Don Imus said was indefensible. But it shouldn`t have been said, even as a joke. It wasn`t funny. However, let`s not all jump on the bandwagon of firing people who you knew going in this is the ticket I`m buying.
You know what it is? It`s like -- it`s like going to a Sharon Stone movie and then being shocked that she flashed her lady parts all over the screen. Of course she said. It`s Sharon stone. That`s what she does with her lady parts.
It`s the same thing that could be said about Don Imus. He has a 30- year track record of being a nasty old jerk. It`s what made him popular in America.
Here`s what I don`t know. Why now? Why not when he made other hateful comments? Why was this the straw that broke the camel`s back?
Joining me now, Michael Smerconish. He is the host of "The Big Talker" on 1210 AM, WPHT in the morning. He`s also the author of "Muzzled: From T-Ball to Terrorism, True Stories that Should be Fiction".
Michael, cut to the chase. Why this -- this statement?
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I have an answer for you. I don`t know if it`s accurate, but you and I know this well. We live in an age where now, because of the Internet, largely, there is -- and bloggers - - such scrutiny of every single word that gets uttered and parsing of every syllable, every sentence that I think it`s a different environment.
And you`re right. He has been doing it for a long time. He`s an equal opportunity offender. He`s been offending white people, black people, pink people, green people, everybody. But the climate has changed.
And what I don`t like is the selective enforcement of decorum. If Chris Rock said this on HBO, it would have gotten a laugh, and there`d be no controversy. And you know that to be the case. The rappers say this each and every day, and nobody holds their feet to the fire. This is different.
BECK: You know what? I have to tell you. I have Al Sharpton on in a couple of minutes. That is my first question out of the gate. Where are you, on the rappers, my friend? Are you trying to put them out of business, as well?
SMERCONISH: And listen, I have to tell you, Glenn, I`m uncomfortable that Al Sharpton is the arbiter of good taste. Am I the only one who remembers Tawana Brawley? And that fraud that was perpetuated in large part by your next guest. And I think he needs to answer for that.
BECK: OK. We are in an uncivil society. We are -- the thing that really bothered me about this, and I think -- you don`t have to be black to be offended by Don Imus and this comment. And I think the women`s basketball coach said it best. I want to play this clip from today`s press conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VIRGINIA STRINGER, COACH, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY WOMEN`S BASKETBALL TEAM: Whether you`re a businessman, whether you`re a camera person, whether you`re a government official or whatever, who amongst you could have heard the comments and not been personally offended?
It`s not about the Rutgers women`s basketball team. It`s about women. Are women hos? Think about that. Would you have wanted your daughter to have been called that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BECK: See, now this goes back to the rappers. I looked up some rap music today. It`s horrible the thing that these songs are saying about women. But this is our society. We have turned into an uncivil society, and it kills me, Michael.
Don Imus, the reason why he`s a legend in radio, and you know this, he pioneered shock radio. He was way before Howard Stern. It appears as he`s being shot by the gun he built.
SMERCONISH: There`s no doubt about it, and I think it`s not just in the shock world. I think it`s all over the culture in television, in particular. How about that show "Jackass"? I mean, people tune in to watch folks get hurt, to get hurt verbally, to tune into a Don Imus, or to visually watch it on the television program like that.
Or the point that you made about reality TV and the opening few episodes of "American Idol", where they`re simply goofing on the contestants. But whatever the reason is, that becomes a magnet.
BECK: Well, Michael, you`ve got the same thing. You talk about the show "Jackass". We just did a story on this program just a couple of weeks ago about these girl fights that are happening on YouTube.
BECK: People are not being seen as people anymore. It`s -- everything is entertainment. And the media, do we have any responsibility?
Michael, you`re on our flagship station on PHT in Philadelphia. Do you feel any responsibility at all when you do things on the radio and say, what am I contributing to society? Does the media play any role by feeding us what we`re asking them to feed us?
SMERCONISH: Well, I feel responsibility, but you know, my moral compass, the same as yours, is I have to go home at night and face my family. It`s not so much what goes on in the industry as it is what goes on at home.
I`ve got to say one other thing about this. You know, I see folks whose outrage is carrying them all the way to the bank right now. This story is leading the very network that has now suspended him for two weeks.
SMERCONISH: And they keep putting it out. And putting it out.
BECK: I mean, did you notice that was "The Today Show?"
SMERCONISH: "The Today Show". It was like Glenn, I`ve appeared on "The Today Show" many, many times, but not in a 20-minute block. Are you kidding me? And then when they cut Imus loose, they brought in a panel to talk about it more. And they`re all so offended.
BECK: I know. So do you think he`s going to be fired or not, Michael?
SMERCONISH: I think he will not be fired, and let me make it clear. I don`t think he should be fired.
BECK: I don`t think so either.
SMERCONISH: The public flogging and humiliation is what he deserves. Now let`s get over it. And let the man continue to earn a living, but hopefully he clean ups his act.
BECK: Michael, thanks a lot.
Joining me now is a man who is no stranger to controversy. For the past 30 years, he has made a radio career out of, honestly, offending people. He is on this program for the first time.
Welcome to the program, Glenn Beck. An honor to have you on the program. And it really is. It`s a nice tie there.
BECK: No, really. Seriously, the honor is all mine.
BECK: No, no.
BECK: If I could say what a privilege it is to finally be making an appearance on your program.
BECK: I have -- I`ve watched your show now for a long time, and I`m a real admirer of yours. The things that you do for -- the thing that you do for kids, it`s beautiful. It is.
And let me just say this. If there were fewer Imuses in the world and maybe just a few more Glenn Becks, I don`t think we`d be having this conversation right here right now.
BECK: How true that is. Unfortunately, we`re all out of time. So thanks for joining us, Glenn.
Coming up, our discussion continues on the Don Imus suspension. We`re joined by the one and only Al Sharpton and his thoughts on the limits of free speech in the hot seat. Next.
Plus, Barack Obama drops out of a debate sponsored by FOX News. Remember when he said he was sick of partisan politics? Yes, things have changed. Don`t miss tonight`s "Real Story".
And the father of Anna Nicole Smith`s baby, the long-awaited news from the Bahamas.
BECK: All Imus, all the time.
But joining me now is Reverend Al Sharpton as we continue talking about Don Imus and the right to free speech and the responsibility that comes along with it.
Al, thanks for joining me again this evening.
REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Thank you.
BECK: I just want to start with a clip from yesterday`s interview with you and Imus on your radio program...."
There is more in the transcripts but I think I posted enough to make Glens Point. We live in a society where it is entertaining to watch other people put people down. Shows like American Idol are a great example of this. There are sites on the internet devoted to slandering people. Imus made his carrier by putting others down and now he is getting put down and it is all entertainment to us. We enjoy the circus the outrage the scandal. It is not about what it is right or wrong it is entertainment like it was once entertainment to go to a public hanging. The media thrives on this and does not care the toll it takes on the people who get thrust in to the spotlight of the modern day parathion.