This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," September 26, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Earlier this week, reports surfaced that Bill Clinton's camp pressured "GQ" magazine to dump a negative story about Senator Clinton. Now, it could be happening again, or something like it. This photo of Chelsea Clinton hanging in a New York City restaurant prompted a threatening letter from the former president's office to the restaurant's owner.
The letter says, quote, "It has come to our attention that your restaurant, Osso Buco, has displayed a picture of Chelsea Clinton in your front window. As you know, Ms. Clinton, a private citizen, was not consulted prior to this picture being displayed. We ask that you immediately remove the picture and any and all pictures displaying Ms. Clinton."
Now, our cameras went down to the restaurant earlier today and spoke to the owner, Nino Selimaj. Chelsea's photo was still hanging on the wall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NINO SELIMAJ, RESTAURANT OWNER: The picture was taken like four-and- a-half years ago probably. I don't know the exactly date. She came with 30 friends. There were 30 people for dinner there. They had a wonderful time. I was there — I was here that night. And at the end of the meal, I asked if she will take a picture with me for my wall. She goes, "Oh, no problem." She took a picture. And the picture's been ever since then right there, and she's been here after that for dinner. And now all of a sudden, just I got that letter, very, very tricky letter, saying to remove it or else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLMES: Nino Selimaj now joins us in our New York studio. Also joining us, National Public Radio senior correspondent and FOX News contributor Juan Williams.
Nino, welcome to the show. I've been to your restaurant, by the way. It's very good. What is the issue here? Because anybody who gets their picture taken with a restaurant owner knows that picture is either going to the window or up on a wall. So what you do think is going on here?
SELIMAJ: My guess is as good as yours. I don't know. I received this letter Monday morning. It came through the UPS. And when I read it, I got chills. I really don't understand why they're pressing this to take down the picture.
COLMES: And it's been up there for how many years?
SELIMAJ: It's been over four-and-a-half, maybe five years now.
COLMES: You have no idea why this is happening?
SELIMAJ: No idea. And I have a lot of celebrities in all of my restaurants. I own six restaurants, all in the city. I've been 29 years here and have a great relationship with all the sports figures, with the politicians, with everybody on...
COLMES: Have any of the Clintons come in since, Bill or Hillary or Chelsea?
COLMES: Have you taken the — are you planning to take the picture down?
SELIMAJ: Not yet, just because I really love President Clinton and the Clinton family.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Oh, you had made up until this point.
COLMES: Wait, wait, wait. Hold on. Hannity will get up and yell at you in a moment for supporting them. Now he's not going to come to your restaurant anymore because he's afraid you're going to poison the food. So tell me. So, you support Clinton. You're a big Clinton supporter. You've liked him ever since he was president. But you don't know if you're going to take it down at his request?
SELIMAJ: Unless I'm forced. I really would love to keep the picture. And I'm hoping one day I will meet the Clintons and they will come to my restaurant and be — just to be a family, because he did a lot for my people. I'm Albanian, and he saved our people, my brothers, my sisters back in Kosovo. He did good things.
COLMES: Philosophically, does someone have the right to say, "You know what? I really don't want my picture publicly displayed in your restaurant"? It may not be the right choice, but does someone have the right to make that choice?
SELIMAJ: They do have the right. However, if Chelsea will pick up the phone and call, if I hear it from her, from her mouth, "Nino, I would like the picture to be removed, I will be happy to remove it." But coming from the lawyer, then I will — I assume I have to remove every celebrity's picture, because I have a lot of them. It's not only one.
COLMES: Hey, Juan Williams, what do you make of this? It sounds odd that they'd request that a picture of Chelsea be taken down from a restaurant where she posed with the owner, which is normal practice for celebrities in New York City.
JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Well, you know what? I think that President Clinton doesn't want her to be treated as a celebrity, so even in the way that you described her, I think that opens the door. He views it as a precedent. And if you remember, they have been very closed about Chelsea. They don't want any reporting on her. They don't want any pictures of her in the paper. They've had deals with reporters in the press corps, you know, leave our kid alone, and I think even though she's now an adult...
COLMES: She's not a kid. She's an adult. She's a grown woman at this point.
WILLIAMS: Right. She's an adult now. But their policy, I think, continues. They really want her to be off-limits. And, you know, it's extreme. But I think that's why Nino says, you know, if he hears from her, she's an adult, OK, but from the dad and mom's perspective, and they're such public figures, they don't want her subject to that kind of intense...
COLMES: Yeah. But this is kind of a shame. Because she's in her twenties now. She's not a baby. She lives on her own. And I would think, as Nino said, if she's got an issue, call up and say — could you please — and you would probably comply with the request.
SELIMAJ: Immediately, yes, if I hear from her, yes, because I — go ahead.
HANNITY: I want to ask Juan this question, because it says in the letter that Nino just showed us here is, "We reserve any right that we can exercise any options available to us." Why didn't somebody — if they really felt that way, pick up the phone, Nino's a nice guy, and say, "Nino, would you mind? We're worried, safety and security of my daughter. Could you take the picture down?"
WILLIAMS: Nino would have been reasonable about it, and he probably would have done it. But when they go to this kind of brass knuckles attack, it just gets everybody's feathers up. You know, like, hey, wait a second, you're not going to bully me. You're not going to push me around. I understand their concern about their daughter, but they've gone over the line. Maybe it wasn't even them. Maybe they said, "We're a little worried about somebody who reported seeing the picture," and then the lawyers get involved, and the thing goes ballistic.
HANNITY: Well, this fits into the other story that Alan just touched on briefly here, and that is, earlier this summer, Hillary's campaign learned that the magazine "GQ" was working on a story that they wouldn't like because it would talk about some infighting within the Hillary campaign. So what do they do? They say they're going to spike the story they're doing on Bill Clinton, and they're able to pressure the media to do whatever they want. I mean, that should be troublesome to you, from your journalistic background.
WILLIAMS: Hey, look, it's a really troublesome trend. I mean, obviously, they've had a very closed White House. I mean, this Bush White House tends to also control things. And that's the way that it's done now. You think about the way that Fred Thompson introduces himself. You know, he goes on the "Tonight Show" or he goes on your show, Sean. He doesn't expose himself to lots of media in that way.
The Clintons — boy, Mrs. Clinton's campaign is renown among reporters here in Washington for being so tight with her. Access to her just about impossible. So you can't ask the kind of questions. But you must remember. You know, they're a little gun shy after Whitewater, after impeachment. And so they're putting everything — they've got their little Web site. They've got "The Good Web", "Hillary Hub", all that kind of stuff. They're controlling the media image and the media message.
HANNITY: ABC News, Hillary is the most scripted candidate ever. They know how to be vicious when necessary here. You know what, I know she went on her little round robin, and she did her little giggling on just about every show. She ducked, dodged most questions. There were a lot of inconsistencies and not a lot of time for follow-up. So it's frustrating to me that, you know, we're talking about electing a president, but they're running a campaign on how to manipulate people and manipulate the media.
WILLIAMS: Well, it's not one-sided, but I'm just saying, I think they're — they take it to the height. I mean, for example, they won't release tax records. They don't say who the donors are to the Clinton library in Arkansas. They don't talk about what — what Hillary's record was when she was in the White House. Those records are there at the Clinton library, but they say they can't release them because of bureaucratic delays. You know, you understand how tightly they're holding not only the candidate, but all information related to her candidacy.
COLMES: Hey, I'm waiting for my one-on-one with Fred Thompson.
HANNITY: Nino, you could have a picture with me and Alan. Just cut out Alan and it's a deal.
COLMES: Right. See how open he is about dealing with me? What's the special tonight?
SELIMAJ: Tonight it's...
COLMES: OK, all right, thank you very much. I'm waiting for my one- on-one with Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson, by the way.
HANNITY: Yeah, I'm waiting for Hillary to sit right here.
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