This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," April 12, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: This is a FOX News alert.
Don Imus is off the air tonight. CBS announced late today that they are dropping his radio show, which means that Imus is off the air across the country tonight. Leslie Moonves, the president of CBS, announced the firing in a statement and said that his dismissal presents the company with an opportunity to expand their record on issues of diversity, race and gender. Now we're going to have a lot more about this breaking story throughout the hour tonight.
But joining us first with her initial reaction to this news, the co- host of "The View" on ABC, Elisabeth Hasselbeck.
Now, first of all, welcome. Good to have you here.
ELISABETH HASSELBECK, "VIEW" CO-HOST: Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure to be here.
COLMES: Now, you're a conservative on a show with a lot of liberals. That's not right.
HASSELBECK: Who thought of that idea?
COLMES: I mean, why would they do something like that?
HASSELBECK: You know, I actually get a charge out of it. It's an honor to do that every single day. Bill Geddie and Barbara Walters had an incredible idea, and we just carry it out every single day.
COLMES: That's right. And you and Rosie really love each other and get along great, right?
HASSELBECK: We actually do. We were at...
COLMES: All right. Because that's what I say about Hannity when they ask me that question.
HASSELBECK: You guys don't go to...
COLMES: I've actually never seen him off the set.
HASSELBECK: I don't believe you.
COLMES: So let's talk about Imus here for a second. What's your reaction?
HASSELBECK: I actually think today is a good day. It's a good day for history. It's a good day for the future.
COLMES: Why is it a good day?
HASSELBECK: I think that the marketplace has spoken.
COLMES: The marketplace hasn't spoken.
HASSELBECK: I think the listeners have spoken.
COLMES: Wait a minute. How did the marketplace...
HASSELBECK: Do you believe he shouldn't have been fired?
COLMES: Absolutely not.
HASSELBECK: Do you believe he should have stepped down himself?
COLMES: No, I think he should have taken a couple of weeks off and cooled down.
HASSELBECK: A couple of weeks off? Alan, oh...
COLMES: Wait a second. Let me ask you a question.
HASSELBECK: Did you say a couple of weeks?
COLMES: Let me ask you a question.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: He's my Rosie, by the way.
HASSELBECK: I feel your pain.
COLMES: Do you really think I'm like Rosie? Do you really believe that, Hannity?
COLMES: I look nothing like her. Look, the marketplace has not decided. If the marketplace would decide, they would put him on the air, see if people continued to tune in. This is not an issue of...
HASSELBECK: What is this, "American Idol," where people vote in?
COLMES: Yes, well, actually, it is. The marketplace should decide. And why was he fired, for what?
HASSELBECK: What role do sponsors play in this? They pulled out. You saw Staples pull out, Procter & Gamble pulled out.
COLMES: Well, that's not why he was fired. According to what CBS said, he was fired because of the relationships he had with employees and employees complaining, and that they claim that actually it wasn't the corporate market — the corporate issue or the marketplace, but rather the reaction of employees at MSNBC.
HASSELBECK: I guess my problem and my issue is people are asking, why now? OK, I say, why not now? Why not before? Why not before when he was making anti-Semitic comments? Why not before when he had thrown bigoted remarks out so easily? I think it's about time, and I think two weeks, to go back to that, is not a penalty. That is a vacation and nothing more than a promotion.
COLMES: Do you think people can change?
HASSELBECK: I do believe people can change.
COLMES: Do you believe in forgiveness?
HASSELBECK: Is Imus now the victim now? I don't care. I'm not worried about him.
COLMES: I think, actually, to some extent, I think he is a victim. And I think he's a victim of this overreaction and a slippery slope and this piling on.
HASSELBECK: He shot himself in the foot.
COLMES: Hang on. Well, look, I think that...
HASSELBECK: And I'm sure he's sorry.
COLMES: I'm not defending what he did. It was an egregious offense. But I don't think that necessarily should have resulted in somebody being firing from two jobs because of a three-second comment which is consistent with what Imus has done for the last 30 years.
HASSELBECK: It's not a three-second comment, though, because, unfortunately, we're in a world now where he has many audiences. He has his immediate audience that heard it right away. He has people who hear it on blogs, on YouTube, on shows like this.
HASSELBECK: ... far beyond three seconds.
COLMES: These are not people who normally even listen to Imus. These people don't even know who Imus is for the most part, and probably — I'm talking pretty much about the people at Rutgers — who probably never heard Imus before. And, look, I can't speak from the perspective of a woman or an African-American, but I wonder if, are people really scarred for life because of something Imus said? Do you really believe that?
HASSELBECK: Maybe if not if he said it once. Maybe they would be. But if he's allowed to continue saying it, and his history definitely...
COLMES: Why not give him an opportunity to change? Why not listen to what he said...
COLMES: That doesn't mean the dialogue can't change on my show.
HASSELBECK: I think some time off, maybe he'll realize that those comments shouldn't have been made.
COLMES: Well, he has time off, but it shouldn't happen this way.
HASSELBECK: He needs time off, and it should be more than two weeks. Two weeks is nothing more than a promotion. In between the time, he talked to the players. He'd have a lot to say when he came back...
COLMES: He's not coming back.
HASSELBECK: ... and people would be itching to hear what he had to say. Not anymore.
HANNITY: Elisabeth, it's great to see you. I love you on "The View."
HASSELBECK: It's great to see you, too, both of you.
HANNITY: I love you on "The View." And you do a great job. And this may be one of the very few times that I find myself in disagreement with you. I agree with what you are saying. What he said is despicable, it's wrong.
I'm concerned about free speech for everybody here. He did apologize. It did seem sincere. He said he's wanted to make good on this. There's been a lot of people that have said controversial things. You work on one of the most controversial shows in the country right now, one of the most opinionated.
HASSELBECK: I do.
HANNITY: There have been outrageous things said on a regular basis on "The View." I want Rosie to have free speech rights even if I passionately disagree with her.
HASSELBECK: Let me tell you, if I had said what Imus had said, please fire me if I said those comments. I am bold enough to say that. I would put the respect of others in this country, especially we have had a history of just persecution of large groups of people. Please fire me if I say those things. And I don't — I believe that Imus, yes, he apologized. Yes, I'm sure he's sorry. I'm sure he is.
HANNITY: He doesn't have an opportunity now to make good.
HASSELBECK: But apologies and regret and remorse do not give you absolution from consequence. We're in a society now, we're afraid to give consequence. And this is — did he lose his freedom of speech? He can go on saying all those things all he wants. People are just going to pay for it.
HANNITY: But you know something? Look, we'll get into this in a minute here. The Reverend Jackson and the Reverend Al Sharpton, I have a whole list of every outrageous thing and instance they've been involved in.
HANNITY: Their jobs were never taken away from them. Both of them, ironically, are still on the radio. They still have a microphone. They still, you know, continue in their jobs.
You know, look, I don't want to put you on the spot in terms of your show, but, you know, I watched you, for example, when Rosie said Christianity is as big a danger as radical Islam. I watched her insult Asians on your show. She apologized for that. I think Rosie should be forgiven. I think she was sincere when she said, "I didn't understand I was offending people." By that standard, should she have been fired?
HASSELBECK: It's certainly not position to say if Rosie (INAUDIBLE) it's my job to show up every day. And I love the responsibility. And I take full pleasure in countering everything she has to say.
HANNITY: I know, and you're great.
HASSELBECK: Our show is called "The View."
HANNITY: Imus has a view, too.
HASSELBECK: He certainly does, and it's answered.
HANNITY: And the only thing I'm saying here is, if that's the new standard — and I would not want to see this in America. I want to live in an America where, if you make a mistake — and he made a huge one. What he said was despicable.
HANNITY: But I also think a lot of things that Rosie has said is outrageous, and I think a lot of things that Senator Byrd has said is outrageous over the years. He still has a job. And I think what Sharpton has said is outrageous, and I think what Jackson has said is outrageous. And I think if we don't stand back here and allow people to admit they made mistakes and apologize, I think we are going to stifle freedom of speech in a way that I don't think any of us can even begin to anticipate.
HASSELBECK: I understand your concern. I mean, we're in the same industry. I believe that, you know, we're all out there saying things that we believe.
But I do believe in consequence, and I believe the people have spoken. And I think that has to be respected, as well.
And the initial two-week suspension not enough to satisfy. And I just had — I honestly would have more respect for Don Imus if would have said, "You know what? I'm going to take a break. I obviously said something, and I need to re-evaluate how I'm doing my job, if it's getting this sort of result and reaction. I'm going to take a year off." That would be so much more respectable.
HANNITY: Can I put you on the spot, even though you're my friend? I don't like to put you on the spot.
HASSELBECK: Why not?
HANNITY: If that's the standard, and I don't think it should be — you and I have a disagreement on that — when Rosie made the comments about Asians, should she have taken a step back?
HASSELBECK: That would be for Rosie to decide if she should step back or not. You know, Rosie's intentions were not...
HANNITY: But you're making an opinion about Imus.
COLMES: Then it should be for Imus to decide.
HASSELBECK: Rosie was not doing anything in a malicious way when she made those remarks.
HANNITY: I still think it was outrageous, but I accept her apology.
COLMES: We're going to come right back.
HANNITY: And we now continue with the co-host of the ever- controversial, the show "The View," Elisabeth Hasselbeck.
All right, let's talk a little bit — I think everyone in the country now is talking about speech. How far can anybody go? I want to get your opinion on the two people that were sort of leading this charge to get Imus fired. They have controversial backgrounds. The Reverend Jesse Jackson once said he's sick of hearing about the Holocaust, Hymietown.
HASSELBECK: Yes, Hymietown.
HANNITY: Once admitted he spit in people's food because they're white. You've got the diamond merchant comments, Greek homos, white interlopers of Al Sharpton.
HANNITY: What do you make of — how did they, all of a sudden, be the moral authority based on that type of track record?
HASSELBECK: You know, they seem to like to take the lead on issues. And I was growing up — I grew up believing people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. They have loud voices in our society right now.
And I'll take it even a step further. I just don't know who can accuse and who can use, OK? Who gets the permission slip on the n-word? Is it OK in the number one and number two rap charts going on right now? Is it OK just to take race out of it and just complete defamation and really social injury to women? Like, who is OK to use that sort of language?
COLMES: Don't look at me.
HASSELBECK: I don't know where — I don't know where we draw the line anymore. I think it's difficult. If it's your group, is it OK for you to use the word? In my opinion, no.
HANNITY: Yes, I agree with you. What are the other issues that you're most passionate about? Because I know you believe in free speech. I know you like politics.
HASSELBECK: I do.
HANNITY: You are the conservative voice on "The View." What are the issues that you care most about?
HASSELBECK: By contrast, maybe anyone would seem that way, right?
HANNITY: I haven't been on since the day that Rosie auditioned. And I think she called me delusional. She said it in a very funny way.
HASSELBECK: Well, those sort of things happen on "The View." You know, it's a passionate show. I'm really glad, because we get to talk about every single issue.
I'm a passionate woman. I'm a mom. I'm very concerned about safety in our country and the future. I look at it differently now that I have a 2-year-old than I did even three years ago. You know, I'm evolving as a citizen and as a woman.
I'm sure all the issues that you cover here we're covering every single morning at "The View," everything from — you know, I have an issue now with people just tending to believe our enemies more than our own country in a time of war. That's disturbing to me. I worry about this future election.
HANNITY: You know what's amazing about this? As we see the divide on race relations — and I thought about this. I mentioned this on my radio show today. It's amazing to me, the enemies of this country, Elisabeth, they don't really care if they kill African-Americans, white Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans. And you would think that we would see that we all want the same thing for our children. We all believe that all men are created equal or blessed by God.
HANNITY: We would think that we'd sort of be united in understanding that we're at war and there's a common enemy, but yet the country in many ways is more divided than it's ever been.
HASSELBECK: Absolutely, on so many fronts we divide ourselves, between race and politics. You know, people now are saying, should Nancy Pelosi be — you know, should she have gone over to Syria? Should she have been in Iran? Will she go to Iran?
COLMES: She never said she was going to Iran.
HASSELBECK: No, she didn't say she was going to Iran, but the potential is there. We all know that.
COLMES: Absolutely, she should have chit-chats, because we should be talking to other countries, just like the Baker commission suggested. By the way, you say you're evolving, toward liberalism? You're growing, you're evolving, you're moving toward the light?
HASSELBECK: Did I suggest that? Oh, Alan. Oh, Alan.
COLMES: ... coming, you know, proper direction here.
COLMES: Have you always been a conservative?
HASSELBECK: You know, I've always been — you know, I consider myself a contemplative conservative. And my parents were independent. I never knew who they voted for. They really birthed in us a spirit of freedom of thought and just evaluating individuals. And that's what I think people really need to do in this election, maybe not so much look at the party color or animal.
COLMES: I think we too often do judge people. Are you liberal or conservative? And then we judge people based on what their political philosophy is and not judge them as human beings.
HASSELBECK: I don't define myself as conservative personally. I seriously don't. I would hope that people wouldn't do that to any of us here at the panel. You know...
COLMES: So does it bother you when they say, oh, the conservative on "The View"? Does that bother you?
HASSELBECK: Well, they can say what they want. I really am more concerned about how I define myself.
COLMES: I would say now we talk about the division in this country. My view would be — and we may disagree on this — that we have a government, people like Cheney who have said things like...
COLMES: ... Democrats have an Al Qaeda strategy — here I go — he claims, for example, Democrats have an Al Qaeda strategy. That's pretty divisive, to try to liken Democrats to Al Qaeda, to suggestion being that people on my side of the fence who don't agree with their foreign policy are akin to the terrorists who hate us and want to kill us. That's very divisive for the vice president to say.
HASSELBECK: I think it's very easy in our world to try to simplify things like, and I think that's the easy way out. I think this is a very complex war. It's a complex world. We're a complex country. So to be able to just kind of like streamline that and throw statements down like that are oversimplified in a very complicated time.
COLMES: So we shouldn't be pointing at the other side, "They're like Al Qaeda"? "Those people over there, those lefties, those lunatics"?
HASSELBECK: Well, a lot of it has come out since, you know, we're talking about the surge now and...
COLMES: Yes, that's working real well. That surge is working real well, with what happened in the Green Zone today, right?
HASSELBECK: Look, this is a war, OK? There are going to be battles.
COLMES: It's a war, and the surge was supposed to not...
HASSELBECK: Do you think we should pull out of Iraq?
COLMES: Absolutely, today.
HASSELBECK: You think pull out today?
COLMES: Yes, absolutely today.
HASSELBECK: So then we open the door for Iran to jump in?
COLMES: Well, wait a minute. Iran has already jumped in, because we got rid of Saddam Hussein and we made it safer for Iran. We removed Iran's mortal enemy. The argument you use and those who come after my side and said, "We have to stay there, because otherwise it will deteriorate," you can use that in five years, 10 years, 15 years. For how many years do we stay there and do we use the argument "We can't get out"? We heard it about Vietnam. We got out. Vietnam is now a thriving capitalist country.
HASSELBECK: This is a very different situation. And I believe that talking about, you know, not pulling — you know, pulling out of this war right now is the most dangerous thing we can do, in my opinion.
COLMES: We disagree. How do you like that?
HASSELBECK: We absolutely disagree, Mr. Colmes.
COLMES: You can call me Alan, by the way.
COLMES: Nice to meet you. Thanks for being here.
HASSELBECK: Nice to meet you, too.
HANNITY: I love watching you on "The View." We're so glad you came by. Please tell Rosie I said hi.
HASSELBECK: I will.
HANNITY: I mean that.
HASSELBECK: She says hello, as well.
COLMES: He thinks he got Rosie the job.
HANNITY: Well, I was there the day she auditioned...
HASSELBECK: One of my favorite days.
HANNITY: Listen, great to see you. All the best.
HASSELBECK: Thank you.
HANNITY: By the way, Elisabeth, you're going to be co-hosting "FOX & Friends"...
HASSELBECK: I am.
HANNITY: Next week or next Monday?
HANNITY: Next Monday? All right, well, I'll be watching. I promise.
HASSELBECK: OK, good.
HANNITY: All right.
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