Rapper Eminem May Get a Visit From the Secret Service

This is a partial transcript of The Big Story With John Gibson, Dec. 8, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

JANE SKINNER, FNC CORRESPONDENT: He is the rapper Eminem (search) and he may be getting a visit from the Secret Service, at least that is according to one report. It is over what some see as a potential threat against President Bush.

Judge Andrew Napolitano gets the questions now. He has the legal lowdown.

JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, GUEST HOST: Okay. Don't ask me to translate that or even to state some of the words I thought I heard.

SKINNER: We will. But what we we're talking about here are some lyrics that actually haven't been released yet. They were found over the Internet. And we have them on the screen for you to tell us exactly what we're talking about...

Starts out with the F-word, money. "I don't wrap for dead presidents. I would rather see the president dead. It's never been said, but I set precedents and the standards, and they can't stand it"... it's that second reference, "I would rather see the president dead," that's causing some concern.

NAPOLITANO: Yes, that is understandably troubling to the Secret Service (search), because the statutes require the Secret Service to investigate every single threat.

SKINNER: And that is considered a threat, even though he doesn't name George W. Bush. He says, “I'd rather see him.” It's not necessarily direct.

NAPOLITANO: You know, the first thing that Eminem and his record company would say, Jane is, “He never said this, because it didn't appear on a records, or a CD or anywhere. Someone apparently stole it from some tape that they we were preparing.” So the first thing they will say is, “Look, these were just musings on a piece of film. I never said it.” But if he actually did say it or if he wants to stand behind this, his defense is it's just an expression of a thought. It's just an expression of an opinion. I didn't call for people to kill the president. I would never do that.

SKINNER: And would he win? Is that protected speech?

NAPOLITANO: I think it is protected speech. And I think he would win. Look, if he were sitting next to the president and he had a gun in his hand and he said, “I want to see the president dead,” that is not protected speech because he has the ability to carry out those thoughts. But if he is simply saying in his rapper way to his people that like this kind of music, I don't think that any court would find that — as we lawyers say — actionable.

SKINNER: Now Matt Drudge (search) is reporting that the Secret Service is actually going to be visiting Mr. Mathers. What could they possibly do, scare him?

NAPOLITANO: I think they'll probably ask him, “Did you say it? Did you mean it? Do you have any plans to carry this out? Do you have any guns? Do you have any weapons?” Remember, he is on parole from a prior problem that he had in Michigan. “Do you realize you may be considered violating your parole if you are threatening harm to the president?” And they'll take his answers seriously. He will be interviewed with a lawyer, with a PR agent and I will guarantee you he'll give the right answers.

SKINNER: And they have an obligation, I suppose, to follow up on most anything that would be considered close to a threat.

NAPOLITANO: They do. They do. The courts will worry about the First Amendment (search). The Secret Service will worry about the president's physical security.

SKINNER: All right, Judge, thanks very much.

NAPOLITANO: You're welcome.

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