This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes", February 27, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: National Public Radio (search) recently did a satire about Hollywood's approach to marketing the controversial movie "The Passion of the Christ." In the NPR piece, satirists used a mock focus group and tried to recast Mel Gibson's passion movie with all the ingredients of a typical Gibson film.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I knew he was the star and everything, but I couldn't really connect with the Jesus character.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What if Jesus was, like, nice and everything. But OK, tough.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Crazy, you never knew what he was going to do next.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a black guy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe there could be, like, this little apostle or something who hangs out with Jesus and Judas. Little short guy and he kind of annoys them, but they put up with him because he's always making these funny biblical wisecracks and everything.
Like, he says, "Hey Jesus, you're such a big shot, turn this fish into a pumpernickel."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And because there's all these Romans around, he could be an Italian guy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You mean, like, say, Joe Pesci?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COLMES: Are you offended? Does NPR have an ax to grind with the movie? Is the media treating Mel Gibson and his film fairly?
Joining us now, David Bartlett, the former president of the Radio Television News Directors' Association (search).
David, good to see you again. It's been awhile. Good to have you back on the show.
DAVID BARTLETT, FORMER PRESIDENT, RADIO TELEVISION NEWS DIRECTORS' ASSOCIATION: Good to be here.
COLMES: Anything wrong with that kind of satire?
BARTLETT: Absolutely not.
COLMES: A lot of people offended by that. Can you blame conservative Christians who take offense at what we just heard?
BARTLETT: I don't blame them, but I think it's kind of silly. I mean, it doesn't make fun of Christians, conservative or otherwise. It makes fun of focus groups and marketing people. And I think it does so in a very mild and gentle way.
I mean, "Saturday Night Live" does it a lot tougher every night -- every Saturday night.
COLMES: I thought it was based on Hollywood and the Hollywood casting process and how you go about, you know, casting a movie. You know...
BARTLETT: A little bit of that, too.
COLMES: Mel Gibson is fair game. I mean, he's a public figure. He's done other movies. It's fair to compare satirically what he's done in the past to this particular movie. And in my view, that's not satirical of a religion.
BARTLETT: Absolutely not. I see nothing in that satire that has nothing to do with religion, frankly.
COLMES: Mel Gibson acts all put-upon about this, you know, and yet he knew this would generate controversy. And the fact that it's generated this controversy is making him more of a multimillionaire than he already is.
BARTLETT: Look, here's a guy that did $27 million on the first day. Give me some more of that controversy if I'm funding a film.
I think a lot of this, frankly, is media hype. I think a lot of the concern is media hype, if I might say. And I think it's dropping right to the bottom line of that movie.
And you know what? That's fine, and that's what NPR was satirizing.
COLMES: But I've got to think Mel Gibson has got to be liking this. Because every -- What else are we talking about? What are they satirizing? They're satirizing him. They're satirizing Hollywood, based on his film.
And you've got to think that that's -- moviemakers would love to have this kind of publicity surrounding whatever film they made.
BARTLETT: If I were Mel Gibson, I'd be a very happy man. And as the controversy grows, I'd be happier still.
MIKE GALLAGHER, GUEST CO-HOST: David, if I may, I have to inject a different point of view from yours and Alan's, as you might imagine.
You know, besides what we've heard on the tape, NPR's satire talked about having Jesus' road shortened so he wouldn't be tripping so often as he was carrying that cross.
So it's thoroughly disgusting to many, many, many Americans and Christians and people who just don't find that kind of satire funny about their religion.
Is there any kind of satire you think that should be off limits? In other words, if NPR mocked Muslims or Jews in this kind of a satirical way, I mean, there would seem to be a hue and cry.
Do you think there's any group that should be left alone? Or is it just Christians that can be beat up by National Public Radio?
BARTLETT: No. I mean, I think if there's -- if this controversy proves anything, it is that the view that it's OK to criticize Christians but not to criticize anybody else, a view which generally speaking I adhere to, by the way, isn't really correct.
I mean, this is an awfully mild and gentle satire.
GALLAGHER: Well, but again...
BARTLETT: This was not a satire that either was intended to offend or hurt anyone. And I don't personally think that it possibly could hurt or offend anyone.
GALLAGHER: Well, it does. And I...
BARTLETT: There's a lot worse stuff on every day of the week.
GALLAGHER: Yes, and I'm not -- No, really. I respect your work, David. I just feel that to say you know it wasn't intended to be hurtful and it's not hurtful, I think that kind of misses the point.
I think many people are going to be very offended at the concept of joking about Jesus turning, you know, fishes into pumpernickel and all that. I mean, it crosses every line imaginable.
And I'm just wondering how NPR continues to get away with this kind of stuff.
BARLETT: Well, I think NPR gets away with it because this is very mild. I mean somebody who is really into satire wouldn't find this to be all that exciting. I mean, the people that should be offended by this are folks that run focus groups and run marketing research groups.
GALLAGHER: How about the rest of the media, the news media that has been honing in on this movie and maybe the level of response, the viciousness some would say to this movie? Do you think there's...
COLMES: We've got to run in just a second here.
BARTLETT: This satire doesn't relate to that.
COLMES: All right. Thank you very much.
BARTLETT: Thank you.
COLMES: Maybe Mel Gibson's movie was not meant to be offensive. Some people happen to be offended.
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