This is a rush transcript from "America's Election HQ," April 24, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MEGYN KELLY, CO-HOST: Brand new tonight: Obama's former pastor gives his first televised interview since his whole sermon flap erupted. And we have the first excerpts from that interview.
Reverend Jeremiah Wright refusing to apologize or back away from his anti-American and other controversial remarks in a sit-down with Bill Moyers of PBS. Not only does Reverend Wright not apologize, he blames the media for airing his sound bytes, calling it, quote, "unfair, unjust, untrue," saying, "those who made me the target of hatred were doing it for some very devious reasons."
Just how damage is this new interview for Barack Obama if at all?
Reaction now from radio star and FOX News contributor: Laura Ingraham.
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Hey, Megyn.
KELLY: All right. So now we have it, finally the sit-down comes, we know it would come at some point. He goes into a rather friendly forum and decides not to apologize in any way, shape or form, Laura. What do you make of it?
INGRAHAM: Well, first of all, I thought he was going to give you the first interview on "America's Election Headquarters." I'm very upset about that, number one.
KELLY: You and me, both.
Number two, come on, did we really think he was going to be anything but defiant, Megyn? I mean, we follow his past and the comments he's made over the years about America and his vision of America is very dark, and it is a devious place. I mean, he used the word devious to describe the media playing his sound bytes but he describes America as this U.S. of KKK-type land where, you know, race wars are on the verge of happening almost.
And to me, the more this stays in the public eye, the worse it is for Barack Obama, because he's still, in the eyes of many people, has not adequately said — this was a mistake to stay in this church, and Reverend Wright has done some good things for people, for sure, but this was a mistake to associate myself with this church at this point in time. And he hasn't done that. I think that's — as we saw in Pennsylvania, I think that ended up hurting him.
KELLY: You know, one interesting thing for this interview is we start to see sort of his defense for these comments, if he has one. And let me show you the quote from it.
He says — let's see if we have it - "The blowing up a sermons preached 15, seven, six years ago and now becoming a media event, not the full sermon but the snippets from the sermon and sound bite have made me the target of hatred, yes, that is something very new and something very, very unsettling."
So, here we have number one he says, "The comments were made years ago."
INGRAHAM: Oh, yes, yes, yes, yes.
KELLY: Right? And that they were taken in snippets. That's his defense, that out of context and years ago.
INGRAHAM: Well, Megyn, what he has to do then is give us the context of U.S. of KKK. Give us the full context of his description of the U.S. government as in part responsible for injecting the AIDS virus into African-American citizens. What is the full context for these remarks?
This is a total canard. Reverend Wright got caught, OK? He doesn't like the fact that people know what he thinks about America, despite the fact he may have done some really good things for people in his neighborhood and his community and he's very well liked. I'll grant you that.
But this vision of America as the worst problem facing the planet is not something that most Americans like very much. They love their country and they don't love it for what it will be, they love it for what it is now. And I think, again, the anti-Americanism angle of this, Megyn, is something that's much more important. The race angle, I think, has been way overblown. I think it's much more a vision of this country, what is your vision?
KELLY: You know, he was asked — I don't have it in the graphic, but he was also asked about Barack Obama's race speech, Laura, and what he thought about the condemnation he got from Obama to the extent he got that in that speech, and he said — the question was: "How did that go down with you when you heard Barack Obama talking about you in that speech?"
And he says, "He's a politician. I'm a pastor. We speak to two different audiences. And he says what he has to say as a politician," and goes on from there.
Do you think that Reverend Wright is trying to tell us that he doesn't buy Barack Obama's race speech, that he thinks Barack Obama was just saying what he had to say?
INGRAHAM: That's very insightful. And I think you're on to something there. The fact that he didn't have any stronger words to say, "Look, you know, come on, he was there, and he was in my church, he knew what I was all about." I mean, it could be a bit of "a wink and a nod" thing here, Megyn.
The bottom line is: Barack Obama clearly knew what kind of general views his pastor had. The black liberation theology is very well-known. Obviously, it had its roots in Marxism. People know that. It's not a big secret.
So, the idea that, you know, oh, I'm shocked, I'm horrified - you know, it doesn't pass the straight face test and I understand this is politics, but people are pretty smart out there and I think they see through this. But, how many follow-up questions did Bill Moyers have, Megyn? Do you have that in a transcript yet?
KELLY: Yes, well, we'll have to wait until tomorrow night to find out. But the interesting thing, too, Laura, is that not only did the Reverend Wright speak to Bill Moyers, but now we fine out he's going to make two more public appearances: one on Sunday night and then on Monday morning, I think, at 9:00 a.m., he's going to speak to the National Press Club. It will be more than just - it will be more than just Bill Moyers there.
And what is he doing, Laura? Do you think that Barack Obama's campaign is just getting shivers down their spine if he goes out here on this media blip?
INGRAHAM: Operation reputation rescue - that's what this is. I mean, he's going to the press club, goes on with Bill Moyers. Obviously, he knows he's not only hurt himself in the way this thing has been publicized, but it's also hurting his friend.
And I think, by the end of all this, Megyn, there's going to be an outcry in the media to say, "Look, this man has explained himself. He's been out there. He's a good man and you guys got to all now leave this behind because he's been out there explaining this. Put it to rest." So, that's what I think is going on.
KELLY: Very interesting. It's fascinating just to get that first glimpse into how he sees the coverage of this issue. We're going to have more throughout the hour.
Laura Ingraham, thanks so much for being here.
INGRAHAM: Take care, Megyn.
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