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Hannity

Fmr. House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Immigration; Liberals Targeting Talk Radio

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," June 27, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: More Democrats are joining the call against talk radio. Now, Senator Dick Durbin is hoping for a return of the fairness doctrine. And take a look at what Senator John Kerry said on a New York City radio show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: You know, I think the fairness doctrine ought to be there, and I also think the equal time doctrine ought to come back. I mean, these are the people who wiped out — one of the most profound changes in the balance of the media is when the conservatives got rid of the equal time requirements. And the result is that, you know, they've been able to squeeze down and squeeze out opinion of opposing views.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Joining us now is the author of The New York Times best- seller "Pearl Harbor," former Speaker of the House, FOX News contributor Newt Gingrich is with us.

Mr. Speaker, I think of all the left media, the nation's newspapers, three broadcast channels, there's this one little voice that conservatives have, and they want to quiet it. What do you make of that?

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think a conservative ought to introduce a bill that calls for equal time in Hollywood, equal time on college campuses, equal time in The New York Times editorial page, equal time at CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, and Time and Newsweek, and then we could have a conversation. But, as you point out, this is an absurdity. Congressman Mike Pence has the right bill. He's introduced a bill to block any effort to impose government censorship on talk radio.

And isn't it fascinating that a week when Democrats were trying to pass a bill to strip the American worker of the right to a secret ballot election and being forced into a union, they're also trying to muzzle talk radio because it represents the American people? And they just can't stand the American people being allowed to speak up, either in a secret ballot election for a union or on talk radio.

HANNITY: You know, let me ask where you think this originated from, because I have my thoughts on this. You have John Podesta, former Clinton chief of staff in the Clinton White House. He comes out with this piece from a George Soros-funded group, Center for American Progress, "The Structural Imbalance of Talk Radio." And then he offers a blueprint of legislative solutions. And then all the Democrats come out in support of the fairness doctrine, you know, in the days thereafter. This seems like it's a well-orchestrated campaign. Do you suspect, as I do, the Clintons...

GINGRICH: No, look Sean, this is affirmative action for liberalism. They tried talk radio; they couldn't succeed. Nobody wanted to listen to them. They were boring. They were dumb. When they were in a competitive environment, they got crushed.

And so what they want us to do now is give liberals, whether they earn it or not, access to the airwaves, even if nobody wants to listen to them. And their goal, frankly, is to kill your radio show, Bill Bennett's, Rush Limbaugh's, Michael Reagan, all the various hundreds of local shows around the country, our good friend Neal Boortz.

And why do they want to kill it? They want to kill it because every time we have an extended conversation with the American people, liberalism falls apart and its ideas collapse.

HANNITY: You know, conservatives are for free speech. I don't want to silence our nation's editorial pages. I don't want to silence the broadcast networks. I'm not even asking for equal time. But I guess fundamentally here I have to worry from a professional standpoint, if it's possible if they can succeed, Mr. Speaker.

GINGRICH: Absolutely.

HANNITY: But more importantly, it seems to me that this is connected to an agenda, and that is more and more, we see an assault on the First Amendment, be it McCain-Feingold, be it the fairness doctrine, be it the intimidation of these radio station groups and owners, as suggested by Hillary's front man, John Podesta, here. It seems like there is a chill in the air to silence opposition and voices. And from my standpoint, this isn't Venezuela. How concerned do Americans have to be over this?

GINGRICH: Look, I think you have to be very concerned. The McCain-Feingold bill was the most ruthlessly government censorship bill since the Alien and Sedition Act in the 1790s, clearly a bill designed to protect incumbents and designed to cripple challengers.

The fact that the unions are desperately trying to drive through the abolition, the end of secret ballot elections, is a sign of how desperate they are to gain control when they can't win it. The fact that you have serious Democrats raising the question of wiping out conservative talk radio tells you that they know they can't win a fair fight.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: No one's wiping it out. By the way, I'm against the fairness doctrine. But, Mr. Speaker, if liberal shows are so terrible and nobody listens to them, why do you waste your time by coming on mine so often?

HANNITY: Because yours is the only good one.

COLMES: The only good one? You were my first guest when we launched.

GINGRICH: Alan, look, I hate to say this and lose half of the friends Sean and I have — first of all, I come on your show because I like you. But, second, you're actually interesting. Have you tried listening to some of these ideological nut cakes on the left?

COLMES: I've tried listening to some of the ideological nutcases on the right, and I can't...

HANNITY: When Alan's a moderate, we've got a problem, Mr. Speaker.

COLMES: I don't listen to talk radio. But, listen, I get too many ideas if I do that. But, look, the Center for American Progress, the Podesta group, did not recommend anything to do with the fairness doctrine. They talked about diversification of ownership. They said nothing about the fairness doctrine.

But I agree with you, the fairness doctrine is a bad idea. I was in talk radio when there was a fairness doctrine. You had to write down who you talked to, offer equal time. TheFCC would look at those documents. The net effect was stations would decide to say, you know, we're not going to do controversial programming.

GINGRICH: Look, let's be clear here. There is no fairness doctrine. That was the government censorship doctrine, and they want to re-impose government censorship. And it makes perfect sense that Dick Durbin, who said last year the U.S. was like Stalin's Russia, Pol Pot's Cambodia, and Hitler's Nazi Germany, would think that government censorship was reasonable because he's totally out of touch with the core values of the American people.

But every American who cares about freedom should write their congressman and their senator, ask them to support Mike Pence's bill, and raise as much Cain as they can against this left-wing effort to censor free speech.

COLMES: I think their hearts might be in the right place, their goals might be worthy, this is a bad way to go about it. You know it's not censorship if the goal is, let's get equal time.

GINGRICH: Alan, that's why I know you're a liberal.

COLMES: It's not censorship. The net result is worse radio, though, that's the problem.

GINGRICH: Alan, I hate to tell you this. Their hearts aren't in the right place. Their goals aren't good. They want to drive conservatives off talk radio because they can't compete.

COLMES: They want equal time. Look, I agree with you in principle. I want to compete in the marketplace of ideas. I want to compete in the commercial venue of talk radio. I want my success, should it continue, God willing — yes, I said God — it should happen, because I can compete. And I agree, you know, I don't want to be on by government fiat.

GINGRICH: Two things, Alan. First of all, because of that generous comment on your part, I'll come back on your show as often as possible and do all I can to make sure that you're amusing enough that everybody wants to listen just to see what you and I do.

COLMES: I'll make you...

GINGRICH: I want to speak for Sean Hannity for a second. If Dick Durbin and John Kerry want equal time, they ought to go on Sean's show on radio...

HANNITY: Absolutely!

GINGRICH: ... and spend as much time as they have the good nerve to do it.

HANNITY: Absolutely. By the way, I'll give an entire week, 15 radio hours, Hillary Clinton can co-host with me. How's that?

COLMES: But here's the deal. One more thing, Speaker. When you announce for president, do it on my radio show. How's that?

HANNITY: All right...

GINGRICH: Right after Hillary is on his show for 15 hours.

HANNITY: I think that would be the most interesting 15 hours I ever did.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLMES: Lots of action in the Senate of the controversial immigration bill. It survived challenges from both the left and the right, but the big test will come tomorrow when another vote will take place. We now continue with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

You know, these amendments that they keep putting in here is like poison pills, and one of them by Charles Grassley, apparently which the Senate refused to defeat, would make it easier for employers to hire illegal immigrants. So on the Republican side, they want to make it easier for employers to hire cheap labor, and that's one of the reasons why this might go down to defeat, what happened to that amendment.

GINGRICH: Well, you know, I don't understand this whole process, Alan. If I understand what they did yesterday, they actually had to suspend for a couple of hours because they hadn't finished writing the bill.

Now, here's a 350- or 400-page bill, which clearly no senator has read. I'll bet not more than five of their staff have read. This is as bad a legislative process as you can possibly have. It's guaranteed to produce a bill that is a nightmare. I think the members who are playing games need to be honest about this. If you want to kill the bill, you vote against cloture. If you vote for cloture, which is a procedure tomorrow, then you voted for the bill's final passage, no matter what you say later on.

I was particularly surprised that Senator Brownback, who is running for president, would have voted to continue with this bill, because it — and the Republican Party, I find, other than Senator McCain, virtually no enthusiasm for this bill, which is a bad bill.

COLMES: Lindsey Graham likes it. But, look, I think I'm against it for very different reasons, a big spending bill. You're talking about an extra $4.4 billion to pay for border security and these amendments. You're talking about a wall which is going to cost, by some estimates, up to $49 billion and take years and probably never get completed, and not even get the job done. It's a big spending bill, isn't it?

GINGRICH: Look, I think there is something in this bill to dislike from every practical standpoint in the country. The only reason the wall would cost $49 billion would be if the federal government did it as stupidly as possible.

COLMES: Well, that could never happen.

GINGRICH: Well, I'm just saying. I think the average American is so fed up with the federal bureaucracy's utter and total incompetence. The fact that you discover day after day more things that aren't working in the federal bureaucracy, and they want us to trust them to handle 12 million or 15 million or 20 million people who are here illegally?

I just think the average American thinks this is a bad bill. I don't think there's any chance of passing in the House. The Republicans in the House voted 140-23 yesterday against the bill in a resolution that they sent to the Senate.

And I just think people need to realize watching — and I don't know why they're doing this — but watching the president and Senator Kennedy apply their muscle to try to push this thing forward without hearings, without any substantive legislative process, trying to rig the game to rush it through, I think is really bad for America.

HANNITY: And I agree with you, Mr. Speaker, and no cost analysis, and the idea that you can do background checks on 12 million to 20 million people in 24 hours, as they claim here. You, from the very beginning, as I have been, and other conservatives, you've been a staunch critic. You have very strong language. You said it was a sell-out of American security and a sell-out of conservative principles. Approval ratings from the president and Congress have plummeted since they've introduced this. Clearly the American people agree with you.

GINGRICH: You know, it's amazing to me, Gallup reported last week that the Congress now has the lowest rating in the history of the Gallup poll, 14 percent. That means some of their mothers don't like them.

I mean, you're getting to the point here. You have to ask yourself, what are these people thinking of? And what is the president thinking of? This country is very prepared to have a serious, adult conversation to systematically solve our problems, starting with border enforcement, starting with enforcing the law on employers, keeping the word the government gave us in 1986 when Simpson-Mazzoli, when it was first passed, and yet we're being pushed into "yes or no" on a really bad bill.

HANNITY: Mr. Speaker, you had 10 items or suggestions on your Web site — by the way, it's there at Newt.org — and I agreed with all 10 of them, and I've adopted them as my own and taken credit for them. No, but in all seriousness, they were 10 great ideas.

We don't need another bill to secure the border now, to hire the agents, to use the new technologies, and to build the fence. All of that, you concur, can be done right now by the president. Why won't he just do that, especially when that's what 80 percent of the American people want?

GINGRICH: Well, you know, Congressman Paul Ryan, who is the ranking budget member from Wisconsin, told me on Sunday that a number of members in the House are taking those 10 ideas and other positive, commonsense ideas, and developing a positive approach that doesn't require this kind of bill.

COLMES: All right, Mr. Speaker, we'll book you on radio as soon as you're ready for the big announcement.

GINGRICH: All right. Thanks, Alan.

COLMES: Thanks very much for being with us.

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