Critics Slam MTV Show 'Skins' as Child Pornography

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," January 20, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Culture Warriors" segment tonight: a new MTV program called "Skins." Viewer warning here, this is an explicit show, dealing with teenage sexuality and drug use. We're not going to show you a clip because the subject matter speaks for itself, and now the program is even more controversial because charges of child pornography are in play.

Joining us to analyze, Margaret Hoover and Gretchen Carlson. All right, Carlson, begin with you. You saw an episode of this thing today. Describe it to the audience.

GRETCHEN CARLSON, CO-HOST, "FOX & FRIENDS": I wish I wouldn't have seen it.

O'REILLY: Really?

CARLSON: I mean, this...

O'REILLY: That bad?

CARLSON: Yes. Maybe one element of a problem child would exist, you know, with a teen who was growing up, who's 15, 16, 17, like maybe they're dabbling in drugs. But in this show, this one group of teenagers is dabbling in drugs, sex, prostitution, masturbation. I mean...

O'REILLY: How many -- these are -- these are actors we're watching now.


O'REILLY: And how many characters are there in the program?

CARLSON: There are about six -- six or seven central characters.

O'REILLY: OK, six or seven central characters. And they do all kinds of bad things, right?

MARGARET HOOVER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Drugs, prostitution, purchasing drugs, selling drugs.


HOOVER: Having sex with teachers.

O'REILLY: Do they glorify that?

HOOVER: This is absolutely glorified.

O'REILLY: MTV glorifies it?

HOOVER: I actually thought -- I thought that I would come to this with a little bit of mock outrage, and I was actually deeply disturbed. But in fact...

O'REILLY: You were disturbed? You?


O'REILLY: Which is...

HOOVER: I have to say, I'm a little bit more...

O'REILLY: You're a libertarian. So this is "The Mod Squad" on steroids is what you're telling me?

HOOVER: Absolutely. More than steroids.

CARLSON: You know what this is?


CARLSON: This is the most dangerous program that has ever been foisted on your children, according to the Parents Television Council.

HOOVER: See, I read stuff like that, and I think, "Oh, God, it can't be that bad." But honestly...

O'REILLY: It is that bad?

HOOVER: Fifteen-year-olds selling drugs -- this is a very realistic depiction of a 15-year-old acting like I wouldn't want my 40-year-old friends acting.

O'REILLY: OK. So they're doing criminal activity. They're doing promiscuity, and this is on at 10 p.m. at night, right?


CARLSON: But it's MTV viewers.

O'REILLY: You guys...

HOOVER: MTV -- 80 percent of MTV viewers are 18, 19 and under.

O'REILLY: Right. And you guys actually watched it on the Net.

HOOVER: We had to watch it.

O'REILLY: So anybody could access it on the Net? So those boundaries, time and all that.

HOOVER: They're irrelevant.

O'REILLY: OK. So now we have the Federal Communications Commission, but it does not regulate cable. It only regulates broadcast channels, because cable you have to buy.


O'REILLY: So this comes under the heading of freedom of speech. The second thing is this show was a big hit in England, and they imported it here in the United States.

CARLSON: And toned it down, apparently, but one thing you can't get away from, even if you're in cable, is the Justice Department. And now apparently they're considering filing child endangerment or pornography charges against MTV and the executives because in the third episode upcoming, there is a depiction of a naked boy, which is apparently illegal when you're underage.

HOOVER: And that's the interesting question, right?

O'REILLY: They'll cut that out though. The MTV pinheads will cut it out.

HOOVER: We agree. And we talk on this show a lot about how much is too much and where is the line? Well, it turns out the line is child pornography, because if you're between 15 and 19 and you're naked and doing sexually suggestive things on TV and you're a minor, you are going to be...

O'REILLY: And these actors who are doing these things are teenagers.

HOOVER: They are 15 years old.

CARLSON: What parent would allow their child to do this?

O'REILLY: Oh, come on, Carlson, you know the answer to that question.

CARLSON: You know what else I think? I think MTV got this child pornography thing out there on purpose.

O'REILLY: Probably. And they got a segment on this program, and I know I'm going to get mail saying, "O'Reilly, you're publicizing this kind of garbage."

HOOVER: I -- I don't know.

O'REILLY: But this is a big story in the country.

HOOVER: As The New York Times is reporting this, this is suggesting though that MTV was not prepared for this. They had to recut their third episode. There were very high-level executives...

O'REILLY: All right, look, let's put it this way. MTV doesn't care about anything other than people watching MTV. They couldn't care less about child pornography, that this is corrupting, or anything else.

CARLSON: And why? Because they were going down the tubes up until about a year ago when they started with some new programming that was very much coming right up to the line.

O'REILLY: In the first episode, a lot of 18 to 25 watched it, which is what they want.

All right. Now, we have a real-life story. This is a real-life story, but now we have unintended consequences of perhaps this kind of business in a high school in Tennessee. How many girls pregnant?

HOOVER: Ninety girls pregnant.

O'REILLY: Ninety in one school.

HOOVER: Ninety girls pregnant in one school, 950 students.

O'REILLY: So 10 percent -- 10 percent of the student body. And you figure that's probably 20 percent, because you know, you divide it. So you tell me what's going on?

HOOVER: Well, here's the thing. I think it's easy to -- I'm not going to disagree with your suggestion that this kind of television shows and this kind of culture...

O'REILLY: It glamorizes...

HOOVER: It glamorizes and glorifies...

O'REILLY: ...this kind of behavior.

HOOVER: I think that does impact the culture. However, teen birth -- the teen birth rate in the United States has gone down. It is at an all-time low. In 2009, it ended at six percent.

O'REILLY: But not at this school.

HOOVER: This school is triple the national average.

O'REILLY: Right. And I think every...

HOOVER: But something's wrong in this community.

O'REILLY: Carlson, I think everybody has to understand that many, many people, not just teenagers, get pregnant when they're intoxicated, OK? So they don't use the birth control. They don't do what they're supposed to do because they're blasted out of their minds.

CARLSON: Well, that could be. But also, Tennessee law requires schools to teach family life education, which centers on abstinence. So no doubt now, people are...

O'REILLY: Well, it ain't working at this school.

CARLSON: It's not working.

O'REILLY: Do we have any exposition of why this school has this epidemic?

CARLSON: This has not just been happening now. It's just being reported now. They went back and talked to students from a decade ago.

O'REILLY: So it's always had this kind of problem?

CARLSON: But to link the two stories together, the RAND report, the most recent one from 2008, says exposure to television programs that contain sexual content are twice as likely to be involved -- kids who watch them -- twice as likely to be involved in a pregnancy over the following three years.

O'REILLY: OK. So that is a cause and effect on watching this kind of TV.

HOOVER: And there are even officials, school officials in Fraser who actually think that it is the culture, the message culture sends to students actually impacts how they behave.

O'REILLY: Well, it's cool. It's cool. They think that they're going to have the baby and then people will look at them and all of that business.

HOOVER: And there is clearly a correlation, because we've also seen the inverse correlation with shows like "16 and Pregnant," where the Christian Science Monitor had a survey that came out and said 82 percent of girls who watch that show feel like they have a better sense of what happens when you have a kid as a teenager, and they are more informed not to go get pregnant and to use protection or not have sex.

O'REILLY: That's more of a, you know -- they're a reality-based show...


O'REILLY: ...than glorification on MTV of this...

HOOVER: Correct. But it shows that...

O'REILLY: ...destructive behavior.

HOOVER: ...television and culture actually impact a culture.

O'REILLY: They do. No doubt. All right. Ladies, thanks very much. We appreciate it.

And by the way, Ms. Gretchen is featured in "Pinheads & Patriots."


O'REILLY: That's what I was going to say. Uh-oh.

CARLSON: Which one am I going to be?

O'REILLY: We'll see. Coming right back...

HOOVER: Obviously a patriot. Obviously.

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