This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," February 22, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Presidential candidate John McCain says he's finished talking about allegations by the New York Times that he had an inappropriate relationship with a female lobbyist. He may be finished with that, but some prominent conservatives are not. McCain's former critics are now defending him, saying the accusations were just a liberal hatchet job against the presumptive GOP nominee. Is this issue finally uniting the conservative base? Joining us now — Ollie is nodding yes.
OLIVER NORTH, CO-HOST: It's got you terrified.
COLMES: The president of the Media Research Center, Brent Bozell. The truth is, Brent, the right-wingers hate the New York Times more than they hate John McCain, so actually, this has done John McCain a favor. They're now uniting behind him. Maybe the McCain people were behind it. I'm joking, but you know what I'm saying.
BRENT BOZELL, PRESIDENT, MEDIA RESEARCH CENTER: Well, Joy Behar today suggested that, actually, on "The View," believe it or not. Well, you know — is the conservative movement going to drop all of its resistance and pick up the pitchforks and go marching off in the battle today because of this? No. Did it help? Of course it did. Of course it did.
COLMES: You were calling for the resignation of the executive editor of the New York Times, Bill Keller. That's a pretty strong request, given the fact that the real story is that his people, McCain's people, were warning him about something, they're not saying it happened, but they were talking about the appearance of impropriety, not the impropriety itself, because there's no proof that that ever happened.
BOZELL: It's interesting, Alan, I read the transcript of Mr. Keller's interview on NPR. And in this interview, he flat-out acknowledges that, after months of investigation, they had no story when it came to some kind of an adulterous affair between these two people.
BOZELL: So instead they decided to run with this. Look, Alan, you know and I know, and I know if you were in Bill Keller's shoes, you would follow this rule. If you don't have a story, you don't go with it.
COLMES: I don't think they should have gone with the story. I agree with you on that. I'm not sure I'd call for Keller's head on this. But let's not forget, this is the same New York Times that on February 8 did a piece on Obama as part of their pieces on the various candidates headlined, "Old Friends Say Drugs Played Bit Part in Obama's Young Life." One could say that was a hit piece on Obama, so it's not like they go after only conservative candidates.
BOZELL: But, the problem with the New York Times, Alan, is that every three months, I'm on your show talking about something else the New York Times has done that is underhanded, that is dishonest, that was uncalled for, et cetera. We're never here doing shows — we're never here doing shows about USA Today or the L.A. Times or the Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal. Every three months, it's the New York Times. I do believe there's cause and effects. It's one of the reasons why the stock is in a meltdown and their leadership is in meltdown. I don't care whether Bill Keller goes or not. The point is, if they don't make some kind of change at the top, I think this newspaper is going to be — is going to be lining for parakeets.
NORTH: Well, let me follow up on that, Brent, because several weeks ago I wrote a column that raised a lot of conservative ire, and that was get behind John McCain now, because he's going to be the nominee. It's time for conservatives to unite. The New York Times did what I couldn't do. The conservatives are not lemmings that's going to follow people right off the edge of the cliff. They're more like herding cats, as you know. It does strike me that if I was a shareholder in the New York Times, and I'm not — I checked today — I would be asking for Bill Keller's head. I mean, the fact is this man is going to drive this newspaper into oblivion. I think you made a very good point. If the New York Times is still around in five years, I'll be amazed. Can I just make an observation about uniting conservatives? The fact is that this piece is so grossly unfair, and even Alan acknowledges that. It has done something that I couldn't do with my column asking people to follow behind. Am I right?
BOZELL: Yes, when liberals, moderates, conservatives, all alike shake their heads in disbelief at this piece, where at the end of the day, after months of investigation, with four reporters, you conclude that anonymous sources told you there might be the appearance of impropriety. My goodness, stop the presses and put that on page one. And that's what they did.
NORTH: Interestingly enough, they acknowledged that they're working the story way back in December. On the 25th of January, the New York Times endorses John McCain as the best of what the Republicans can offer, essentially. That's essentially what they're saying. And then they come out with this once he's basically got the nomination sewn up. I try not to be Machiavellian with the conspiracy theory behind it. It sounds like one to me.
BOZELL: Well, yes. And I'm not going to do a reverse Joy Behar and suggest this is all part of a plot.
NORTH: A vast left-wing conspiracy.
BOZELL: But at the end of the day — at the end of the day, if you're going to ask yourself where is the alliance, where's the allegiance of the New York Times going to be, it's going to be with Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. It ain't going to be with John McCain.
NORTH: All the way, buddy. Thank you very much, Brent Bozell.
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