This is a partial transcript of The Big Story With John Gibson, July 15, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHOOPI GOLDBERG, COMEDIENNE, ACTRESS: Got a yen for a 10? Want to delve into a 12? C'mon. If I can be a big loser, there's nothing stopping you. Lose big.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Celebrity spokeswoman, Whoopi Goldberg (search), seen there throwing her weight around for Slim-Fast, but after an X-rated outburst at a recent John Kerry (search) fundraiser here in New York, the comedienne has been dropped.
James Hirsen (search), author of the book, "Tales from the Left Coast: True Stories of Hollywood Stars and Their Outrageous Politics," joins us now. James, today's big question; does this show that celebrities are becoming too involved in politics? So that they might be out of their depth?
JAMES HIRSEN, AUTHOR: Well, you know, Whoopi Goldberg was a brand, John. And she cut a deal with Slim-Fast, another brand, and when Slim-Fast cut that deal, like any celebrity spokesperson, you know, they were buying an image.
And so when somebody who is a celebrity who basically is a product goes to a Radio City Music Hall to a fundraiser like that and engages in the kind of juvenile humor that she did, there's a risk. And that risk in a free market can result in her losing the endorsement; much like many famous athletes would lose their endorsement if their image were tarnished.
And, yes, we look at Hollywood, we look at the history of Hollywood, we look at the Golden Age of Hollywood, conventional wisdom was that it's dangerous when celebrities tread into political waters and so this is an example of what can happen.
GIBSON: James, I know it was X-rated so you can't tell us exactly what she said, but do we actually know what it was that Whoopi Goldberg said that got her canned from Slim-Fast at that fundraiser?
HIRSEN: Well, I know. I have sources. And, as a matter of fact, it's interesting because the press and elements of the GOP are requesting a videotape of this, and essentially to describe it in a euphemistic tone, what Whoopi...
GIBSON: Very euphemistic, James.
HIRSEN: Very euphemistic — using obvious puns and the President's surname to describe jokes about female anatomy. How is that, John?
GIBSON: OK. That's about as...
HIRSEN: And essentially it's what comedy is today, unfortunately. If you go to any comedy club in any urban area in the United States, I mean, you hear this kind of short-cut, blue, profane, indecent humor. What really exacerbated the news-worthiness of this was the fact that as Whoopi was saying this, the two members of the Kerry team, John Kerry and John Edwards, were watching, laughingly, approvingly.
And they essentially, after it was over, and after Whoopi's colleagues called the President a liar and a killer and a thug, they embraced the whole evening by essentially John Kerry (search) saying that it conveyed the heart and soul of America and John Edwards (search) saying he was greatly honored to be there.
GIBSON: OK. But, James, you get the feeling when you see these people from Hollywood coming into Radio City Music Hall and saying these things that they're used to saying them out in L.A. or wherever it is they live — used to saying them in public. Nobody objects. And they think they can get away with it when they come to the media capital and are surprised to find out people take offense.
HIRSEN: Oh, it's such a great point, John. I mean, I lived in L.A., I cover Hollywood. And if you go to the commissaries, you go to the various gatherings and parties, this is the way they talk.
I mean, there's a loathing and hatred, visceral hatred for the Bush administration, and, you're right. Celebrities tend to live in a little world, a little cocoon, and they're not in touch with mainstream America. And it could be that someone like Whoopi Goldberg didn't realize the extent of the backlash that would occur when she made this kind of comment.
GIBSON: Now, what did she actually lose from this, James? I mean, she doesn't get free Slim-Fast, what else?
HINSER: Well, you never know. I mean, obviously she loses that contract and loses some money, but there maybe other opportunities for her. Who knows? Michael Moore and Miramax might hire her.
GIBSON: OK. But there's this other thing. The guy who's the president, the owner and CEO of Slim-Fast, big Democratic donor, he didn't fire her when he apparently shares these views; he had somebody else do it.
HINSER: He did. But I guess what that shows is that in the end Slim- Fast is more beholden to their shareholders and more beholden to the business than they are to the ideology of the President of the company.
You know, it's — again, this theme that we have free speech in America, and we have free expression, but it's always exercised in the context of our free market. And so Slim-Fast has that right.
GIBSON: James Hirsen, author of the book "Tales from the Left Coast." James, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
HIRSEN: Thank you, John.