OTR Interviews

Obama's 'Beer Summit': Real Bridge to Racial Divide or Photo-op?

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," July 30, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, it happened, the B-3 summit. Well, actually, we now call it the B-4 summit because President Obama brought a date, the vice president! Here's a picture of the four guys not looking "stupidly" but looking rather guy-ish, sitting around a table in the yard at the White House, tipping some beers. So was this a giant step towards healing racial wounds or just an effort for the president to get some egg off his face?

You all know Ted Williams. He's a criminal defense attorney and a former homicide detective (INAUDIBLE) All right, Ted. The statement that's just been released by Professor Gates -- this is what I'm not sure he gets. He says, among other things, that this is a time now for us, basically, to talk about genuine fears of racial profiling. Was there any racial profiling in this, or is this what he thinks it is?

TED WILLIAMS, FORMER D.C. HOMICIDE DETECTIVE: Well, it may be subjectively what he thinks, but when you look at this objectively, this is not a case of racial profiling. Look, Greta, I grew up in the South. I'm a black man. I know what it is to be a young kid going into a white neighborhood in my old jalopy, my '58 Chevrolet, and being stopped just because I'm in the neighborhood. That is a form of racial profiling. What happened here with Professor Gates is not racial profiling at all. Absolutely not.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now, let's look at some hypotheticals. I mean, I guess we have to sort of look at it (INAUDIBLE) Suppose that there had a been a call there and suppose that the officer had responded like he did (INAUDIBLE) it was some -- some burglar was in the house. It wasn't Professor Gates. And the burglar answered the door and he said, I love her, and then the officer -- Officer Crowley left and left behind some -- and something horrible happened in the house that...

WILLIAMS: Well, the bottom line is the officer was damned if he did and damned if he did not. Let me give you an example. As you just said, if a burglar was in the house, the officer came, Oh, OK, burglar, it's your house, good-bye, I'm leaving, then all of a sudden, Professor Gates could have come home and said, Hey, wait a minute, because I am a black man, you did not do an adequate investigation and so...

VAN SUSTEREN: You didn't care enough!

WILLIAMS: You didn't care enough. So on that -- under that circumstance, anything could have happened.

But look, there's something called common sense, Greta. Common sense dictates you just let the cop in, you let him look around. If there's nothing there, the cop is going to leave, and that's the end of the story. This thing was blown out of proportion. And I think what -- let's be candid here. What amplified it and -- President Obama should not have got involved in this. This so-called summit at the White House? Give me a break!

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, see, I actually -- I mean, he was asked to a question, so I mean, it wasn't like he, like, all of a sudden decided he wanted to gratuitously (INAUDIBLE) he was asked a question. His -- his egregious mistake, in my mind, was saying, I don't have the information, I don't have the facts, and then he picked sides.

WILLIAMS: You know...

VAN SUSTEREN: That was -- I mean, look, you know, if he had said, I don't -- if he'd -- that was the problem, is that he didn't give the cop the benefit of the doubt! He took sides!

WILLIAMS: Not only did he take sides...

VAN SUSTEREN: But I think that the summit was not -- was a smart idea.

WILLIAMS: No. Well, I...

VAN SUSTEREN: I may have...

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: ... whole-heartedly disagree. Look...

VAN SUSTEREN: Why? What's wrong with that?

WILLIAMS: ... there's some black person right now in America who is being profiled racially, and he's not going to have the same opportunity to go and have a summit with the president of the United States.

VAN SUSTEREN: But the -- but -- but -- but...

WILLIAMS: There's nothing that came...

VAN SUSTEREN: Wait a minute!

WILLIAMS: ... out of this summit. Absolutely nothing.

VAN SUSTEREN: But wait a minute. After the president insulted the police force and said they acted "stupidly," without the facts, you don't think the president some or at least -- shouldn't extend some sort of hand gesture? I think he should have apologized!

WILLIAMS: Well, I think he should have maybe apologized...

VAN SUSTEREN: He shouldn't -- he shouldn't have said that, I miscalibrated my words, or something! That was lame! But he should -- you know what he should have (INAUDIBLE) said, Look, I was wrong, I'm sorry.

WILLIAMS: Good. You could say all of that. But why bring these two people to Washington for a show?

VAN SUSTEREN: But they...

WILLIAMS: Wait a minute! They could have had this same so-called summit that you're speaking about -- Gates and this cop could have gotten together in Cambridge, drunk a beer, and they could have done the same thing.

VAN SUSTEREN: Because -- because -- because President Obama is the president, and he's the one who took sides! He simply -- he had no facts, and he said, I'm going with my friend.

WILLIAMS: Good. If you want to do that, fine. Well, then you want to get out of it, then be man enough, President Obama. Come out and make the representation that you were wrong about what you did, but you did not have to go this far. This summit -- nothing came of this summit.

VAN SUSTEREN: And you know what, though? I'll give him -- you said damned if you do, damned if you don't for the police officer. I say damned if you do, damned if you don't if you're President Obama because if he hadn't done anything, we would have been jumping, like...

WILLIAMS: Well...

VAN SUSTEREN: (INAUDIBLE) he won't even bother to say he was -- you know...

WILLIAMS: But he did something. Even if he just came out and said, Hey, look, I made a mistake, and just let it go at that...

VAN SUSTEREN: He miscalibrated!

WILLIAMS: ... that would be...

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm going to use that one!

WILLIAMS: That would...

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm going to say that!

WILLIAMS: Yes. But come on! To bring these guys to Washington and have a photo or...

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, next time have a -- next time have a...

WILLIAMS: It just doesn't give us anything.

VAN SUSTEREN: Next time I have a fight with my husband, I'm going to say, I -- when I made a mistake, I'll say I miscalibrated my words (INAUDIBLE)

WILLIAMS: Well, I wish you luck, and I hope you keep your mouth zipped.

(LAUGHTER)

VAN SUSTEREN: Calibrated! Anyway, Ted, thank you.

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