Democrats vs. FOX News

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," March 13, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: The one-sided war between Democrats and FOX News is tonight's "Big Story."

Radical liberals wanted a pullout and they got it. Not from the war in Iraq, instead from the political presidential debate this network is co-hosting this summer. But is the party shooting itself in the foot and making much ado about nothing?

Here is what Democrats say triggered their pullout: a joke made by FOX Chairman Roger Ailes last week in Washington, using Barack Obama's name. But listen carefully. It is not Obama who is the butt of the joke at all, but President Bush.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROGER AILES, FOX NEWS CHAIRMAN: It is true that Barack Obama is on the move. I don't know if it is true that President Bush called Musharraf and said, "Why can't we catch this guy?"

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GIBSON: If anything, Ailes was defending Obama and making Bush look dumb for not catching bin Laden. Even Obama says he is not offended by the joke, but his fellow Democrats — egged on by radical leftist groups like moveon.org — are.

There are exceptions, of course. Ohio congressman and 2008 Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich is slamming his own party for boycotting the upcoming fair and balanced debate on the No. 1 cable news network. He is with me now.

So Congressman Kucinich, why do think the Nevada Democrats caved on this and pulled out of the debate?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH, D-OHIO: First of all, I don't have any criticism towards Nevada Democrats, but I do feel that as Democrats — and particularly as someone who wants to be president — you have got to reach out to people. I think it is fundamentally wrong to try to tell any particular news organization what it has to cover or what it should not cover or what it should say.

Look, we have diversity of opinion. I think it is important for me to have the chance to be on your show and to be in that debate. So I am ready to confront whatever questions FOX may ask in any debate in the future that it may sponsor. I think it is essential that you have the chance to challenge those who want to be president of the United States.

GIBSON: Let's put this up on the screen: The Dems vs. FOX. Very simple question. What are they afraid of?

KUCINICH: Well, I don't think we should be afraid of anything. My position is that, look, of all the Democratic candidates, I may be the furthest away from the kind of philosophy that FOX often expresses. But you know what? I think it is important that anyone who wants to lead the country have the ability to reach out. That American eagle needs two wings to fly, a left one and a right one. And I think that there has to be a chance to unify people. And that is really what my politics are all about, John. Looking for opportunities to unify people. And this move, I thought, was very divisive and unnecessary, frankly.

GIBSON: Look at this. A little bit of sound from Bill Maher, a frequent Bush critic and occasional critic of us, although he appears on the air all the time here. Listen to what he said last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL MAHER, COMEDIAN: Who cares what they're mad at. Instead of withdrawing, which says to everybody in the country, well, typical Democrats, they do not call people out, they just walk away. They don't raise the bet. Go on there. It's just Chris Wallace. If you cannot stand up to Chris Wallace, can you stand up to the terrorists, let alone the Republican Party?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KUCINICH: Well, obviously, he has it. But just to go over the territory again: Anyone who wants to be president of the United States should have the capacity to speak to people of any particular ideology.

GIBSON: But look at who did this. It was the George Soros group, moveon.org, and the Daily Kos, which is run by a guy named Markos, that insisted that FOX be decertified. Why is it that they have such control over Democrats?

KUCINICH: I would say that I think we need a politics which does not condemn people. So I am not going to condemn them. But what I am going to say is that FOX is a legitimate news agency that has the ability to reach out to millions of Americans, so why not get that message out? That is what I want to do, and all Democrats should be capable of doing it.

FOX is a good litmus test because if you can stand the scrutiny of FOX, with what you stand for, and all of the FOX News agencies that gather the information, their anchors can ask you questions, well that is part of what the test is of leadership.

Again, we should be thinking about a campaign that unites people. And I am ready to reach out to conservatives.

GIBSON: Congressman, tell me what I am supposed to make of this. George Soros who is a big administration critic invest $62 million into a significant, though not huge position, in Halliburton. Some in the left are already screaming at him that he is war profiteering well-being against the war. What do you think his motive is? Why is he involved with Halliburton?

KUCINICH: Well, I didn't know about that. Let me just say that George Soros has done quite a bit of good. At one time, years ago, I may have received a contribution from him, in a manner of disclosure.

But the politics I am trying to bring forward, John, is not about accusing people. But it is about challenging the Democratic contenders to say, hey, why not go on FOX, why not subject yourself to the kind of scrutiny that FOX could offer, and let the best person win? That is what we ought to be doing. I want to find a way to unite conservatives and liberals around meaningful questions like getting out of Iraq, like health care for all. These are things I have worked on. That's what I do.

GIBSON: Congressman Dennis Kucinich, unafraid to appear here. Congressman, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

KUCINICH: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

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