The state of race in America

Presidents Obama, Clinton and Carter to honor 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King speech


This is a rush transcript from "The Five," August 27, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ANDREA TANTAROS, CO-HOST: Fifty years ago tomorrow, Martin Luther King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and told the world about his dream.


DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., CIVIL RIGHTS ICON: I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. We will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, we are free at last.


TANTAROS: Well, five decades later, America's first African-American president will stand on those steps to mark that defining moment of the civil rights movement. President Obama will likely note the racial progress made over the last 50 years.

But some people aren't satisfied with the current crop of civil rights leaders here in America. Here is liberal journalist Margaret Carlson.


MARGARET CARLSON, LIBERAL JOURNALIST: We've gone from Martin Luther King to the Reverend Al Sharpton. And as a leader as he is trying to be this weekend, it is very dispiriting.


TANTAROS: All right. So, Bob, 50 years later, it's probably a good time for everybody to take crop of where civil rights stands. But Al Sharpton is a pretty controversial figure and I've asked Juan this question as well. Do you think that he represents the African-American community well, Al "Tawana Brawley" Sharpton that constantly backs the wrong horse? Do you think he does them a disservice?

BOB BECKEL, CO-HOST: No, I don't think he represents them well. The idea of comparing any black leader with Martin Luther King is nearly impossible. I mean, this was in my view, this is the greatest American maybe since Abraham Lincoln. And I -- I just don't think you can take Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King in the same sentence.

I know people are dissatisfied. But the black leadership is diffuse -- whatever it is -- in the country, and usually it's in pulpits. Are blacks better off? Yes, in some ways. And in a lot of ways, they are not.

TANTAROS: Now, some people, Greg, do not believe if Martin Luther King, Jr. were alive and he were watching the current civil rights leaders give their speeches, he would be too impressed, one of them is our own, Bill O'Reilly.

Here's Bill.


BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: How would Dr. King see the current racial situation in America? He would be appalled.

Would he accept the broken educational system in many poor precincts?

No, he would not.

Would he be happy with the rap industry and other pernicious entertainment aimed at the young? I do not believe Dr. King would be happy about that at all.

And, finally, would he approve of a civil rights movement that continues to blame American society for the problems encountered by blacks, rather than encouraging personal responsibility as a way to achieve individual success.



BECKEL: Sorry.

TANTAROS: What do you think?

GREG GUTFELD, CO-HOST: You know what, he makes a lot of good points. I think when you think about it, you look at Martin Luther King and you look at Al Sharpton, it's like going from caviar to cookie dough.

They need -- and I think the reason is we keep wondering, we keep asking which side has the right prescription to fix America and to fix the communities. That question is the actual problem because it's too ideological. The civil rights movement has been co-opted by the academic leftist race drivers, who have -- it's not just Sharpton, it's others. You need new voices that aren't political but cultural.

They may not even be in the pulpit. They may be in pop culture. They may be hip-hop artists. There are a few out there that are really smart, they're going to bubble up at some point, I hope so.

I really do think, though, you know, when we talk about this obsession with the voting rights thing, I think you need to worry less about blacks being ID'ed at the voting booth and more about being ID'ed at the morgue.

BECKEL: Sorry, go ahead.

GUTFELD: Do you know what I mean? We're sitting here. We were chasing that thing when, in fact, it's the toxic culture of gang violence married to a dismissal traditional achievement and values that is killing communities. The black voting right thing is a small issue.

TANTAROS: And why don't you think, Kimberly, I mean, look, both parties don't exactly make a huge effort, really a big effort towards the African-American community and issues that face them. Why do you think the Republican Party, the Party of Lincoln, the party of the Civil Rights Act, you know, when they passed the Civil Rights Act? They did it because it was the right thing to do.

Whenever you have this issue that Greg brings up in one community, irregardless of skin color, it's a travesty. Why don't you see more politicians getting involved?

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE, CO-HOST: Yes, I don't think it should be a political issue because that just further polarizes it. I think what we need to do is focus on the same values and ideals that work for whites and blacks in America -- which is values, and families, and education and jobs, and the economy being improved. Those are a prescription for success regardless of skin color.

But that isn't politically expedient to focus on those things. You are able to get more political capital and goodwill if you sit there and race bait, gin up this kind of resentment to say that we haven't come far when, in fact, I think we have.

And to make a further point, I think President Obama has a unique opportunity, it's a defining moment for the next three years of his presidency to really focus on what's going right in the country and try to bring us together.

ERIC BOLLING, CO-HOST: I agree with Kimberly, I think it will be a defining moment not only of the next three years. It's going to be a defining American moment when President Obama takes the podium tomorrow.

But here's the thing -- I did a lot of homework today. Over the last 50 years, since 1963, since Martin Luther King's speech, you know, right now, let's see where we are in the black community, socioeconomics within the black community. Blacks are six times more likely to be incarcerated than whites in federal prison, 25.8 percent of African-Americans live below the poverty line, more than double the white population.

If you're African-American, you're six times more likely to be a victim of homicide in America. Under President Obama's four and a half or five years so far, youth unemployment among African Americans went from 34.5 percent to 41.5 percent. Much worse, food stamp participation off the charts. And a recent study by The New York Times shows income of black families have declined almost 11 percent.

The point is this: Bill O'Reilly, a long time ago, a couple of weeks ago, month ago, said it's the decline in the black American family that's to blame. And he is right, 72 percent of American babies, African-American babies, are born to non-wed mothers.

But you can't point at education. More blacks by percentage with high school diplomas than whites. We point at education. Bill is right about the family part but not the education.

BECKEL: I don't know where to begin after listening to this. First of all, Greg, one of the things about why we pay attention to voter registration is because there's a bunch of crackers in the South who are trying to take their rights --

GUILFOYLE: Here we go, Bob.


GUTFELD: That's your problem, Bob.


BECKEL: No, I didn't. I stopped right away.

If you think for a second that I'm going to trust somebody in Texas, in these counties in Texas --

GUTFELD: It is not the '60s anymore, Bob. Wake up.


BECKEL: Excuse me, excuse me.

BOLLING: Can you do me a huge favor? Just --

BECKEL: Yes, do me a favor. Shut up, let me get through here.

BOLLING: I'll shut up if you take back the cracker comment. You didn't really mean that. I know you didn't mean it. Maybe not even understand --

GUILFOYLE: That's not nice, Bob.

BOLLING: Just take back that part, then finish your answer.

BECKEL: Can I answer that?



BECKEL: In the counties in certain parts of Texas and North Carolina where these new voting ID laws will disenfranchise blacks, they are crackers.


GUTFELD: Why are majority of blacks --

BECKEL: I didn't say everybody in the South is a cracker, I said people in some of these counties --

GUILFOYLE: Well, you just didn't need to use that term to begin with.

How about that? It's not very nice.

GUTFELD: All right. Let me ask you this, Bob. Is anybody who's for voter ID a cracker? Is anybody?

BECKEL: What do you mean for voter ID?

GUTFELD: For having a voter ID, are they crackers? Because that makes a lot of black people crackers.

BECKEL: No, I said is, when the Supreme Court made this decision --

GUTFELD: I can't believe we're saying that over and over.

BECKEL: What is so offensive about that word?

BOLLING: It's offensive like the N-word, Bob. I'm trying to give you an out here.

BECKEL: You're trying to give me an out?


BECKEL: OK. First of all, nobody expects me to say it --


TANTAROS: Bob -- let me try and save, Bob. Let me --

BECKEL: Don't try to save me, in this subject particularly.

TANTAROS: I am going to try to save you because I want to get you on a more important issue, OK?

Bob Woodson, the head of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, has said that the Democratic Party has foregone issues, the most important issues, black unemployment. Eric listed all the stats.

Do you, Bob Beckel, think the most important issue is the Voting Rights Act? Not any of the things that Bolling picked on?

BECKEL: There would have been an opportunity for blacks to get the kind of employment that they did have, the education they had, has not been for the voting rights.

TANTAROS: They don't have that employment today, Bob.

BECKEL: And what Eric just gave you, if you look at virtually any demographic group in this country, they're doing worse in terms of economics in the last ten years. Now, the question is --

TANTAROS: That's not true.

BECKEL: -- do you believe blacks in this country are worse off than they were when Martin Luther King gave that speech? The answer to that is no.

TANTAROS: One out of four African-Americans according to a new Pew Research poll believes that they are worse, Bob. That is coming from the black community.

So, my question to you is, Bob Woodson says gays and immigrants have been put before the black community, the Congressional Black Caucus has said the same, Cornel West has said the same. Will you, Bob Beckel, say the same thing?

BECKEL: I think in and of itself, it doesn't make sense as a statement. That's number one. Number two, look, everybody has got a constituency. Gays have a constituency, other people have constituency.

They argue for legislation to protect themselves. Now, what I don't need is a constituency here, although you're all friends of mine, I know you love me, and you're trying to protect me because I made a statement about that.

And I am going to continue to say this. I have -- I know this issue quite well, I think. And my dad as you know worked in this movement and was there the day Dr. King gave that speech. If you believe that without voter registration, any impediment on it to voting by blacks is a substantial foundation for black success in this country.

GUTFELD: All right. Bob, you're acting like people are trying to stop voter registration, they're not. They're talking about giving out free IDs, which a majority of blacks polled are for. The assumption that a free ID is somehow a hurdle by the left for blacks is actually as racist as you can get, because you can assume -- you're assuming that a black person doesn't have the means or mentality to get an ID. To me that's more bigoted than anything.

BECKEL: Wait a minute, first of all, if you take the state of Texas, there are counties in the state of Texas in order to register and vote, you have to cross-over to three counties to get there.

GUTFELD: They will also help you get the ID.

BOLLING: They have transportation to get the ID.

BECKEL: Wait a second? Do you really believe the legislature in Texas --

GUTFELD: That's not an argument when you ask us if we believe.

GUILFOYLE: I don't think it's too much to ask somebody to have a valid ID, to prove who they are so that we have honest and fair elections.

BECKEL: Why don't you stop ganging up at one --

GUILFOYLE: You have to equip yourself with the facts because --

BECKEL: The facts are pretty simple. The facts are pretty simple. North Carolina and Texas --

TANTAROS: The Supreme Court doesn't agree with your facts, Bob.

BECKEL: Wait a second.

TANTAROS: The Supreme Court said that your facts are out of date.

BECKEL: Who said that?

TANTAROS: The Supreme Court.

GUILFOYLE: Remember them?

BECKEL: Well, first of all, this Supreme Court is out of date, to begin with.

TANTAROS: When they came down with a couple of rulings that you celebrated.

BECKEL: The rest of them I think are --


Kimberly, our co-host on THE FIVE, Juan Williams asked this question, where is the march against drug dealers who framed black people, where is the march against bad schools, where's the march against 50 percent dropout rate? I'm not going to waste time going on. You get it.

Where are those marches?

GUILFOYLE: Where is the outrage about reality, about facts that are producing these situations? They don't want a dialogue about that because it is not politically popular. It's not going to get money in their pocket for elections. They want to be sensational and twist the facts -- like someone we know -- because that's what works. That's the angry rhetoric.

That's the type that inflames the situation and takes us back instead of forward.

BECKEL: How many white people that could be in that march?

BOLLING: Can I also follow up on what Kimberly just said. Yes, where -- Juan is right, where are the black leaders calling out the injustices going on in the black community? Not because of any policy, because we're not focusing on jobs, we're not focusing on unemployment like we need to.

Rev. Jesse Jackson, now, we gave him props for weighing in on the shooting in Oklahoma, but what he said I believe yesterday is of the most racist things I've ever heard in my life. He said the Tea Party is the resurrection of the Confederacy. He also said, he absolutely believes Republicans oppose Obama strictly because the president is black.

I don't know anything more racist that's going around now.


BOLLING: TEA Party, taxed enough already.


BECKEL: You guys talk about Sharpton or Jesse Jackson? Name me five civil rights leaders in the country. Name me five.

BOLLING: Barack Obama, Eric Holder, Al Sharpton --

BECKEL: You called (ph) civil rights leaders? I said leave out Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton. You guys keep talking about --


GUTFELD: You know, Jesse Jackson is wrong. Tea Party can't be the new Confederacy because the Confederacy were Democrats.

TANTAROS: Exactly.

BECKEL: By the way, it is probably fair to say on civil rights, yes, Republicans, a lot of them were there, higher percent that voted were Democrats than Republicans.

TANTAROS: Can I tell you how outdated the arguments are? I watched some of the coverage of the Martin Luther King memorials over the weekend. And they had a panel of women, and they do this to women all the time, too. Kimberly, you'll love this. The biggest issue, according to Terry O'Neil, facing women today, the head of the National Organization for Women, is that women can't get access to the family car any more to go and vote. I felt like I was in a time warp.

GUILFOYLE: So out of touch.

TANTAROS: All these arguments, I hate to say it, it is racial nostalgia. It is outdated.

GUILFOYLE: And look at the auto sales. Who are buying the most cars now? Women.


BECKEL: As naive a statement. Listen, you believe in 2000 where blacks were disenfranchised from voting in Florida, that was that old?

TANTAROS: There's also counties with complaints of white disenfranchisement as well, Bob.

BECKEL: Where?

TANTAROS: I can give a list during commercial break.

BECKEL: Give me a list at the commercial break. I can give you plenty of them where blacks have been disenfranchised. And this law in Texas and North Carolina is going to make it worse.

GUTFELD: All right.

GUILFOYLE: All right, Bob.

TANTAROS: And it is not the biggest issue in the black community.


BECKEL: It is not going to solve the problems, but what may happen, those people may vote in the state, get rid of some of the Republicans have been elected.

TANTAROS: See, it's all politics. It's all politics.

GUTFELD: It's not about vocation, it's about votes.

BECKEL: Have you heard any Republicans stand up and speak out about these things?

TANTAROS: I, just in one of my previous questions, said that Republicans haven't done as good a job as they should have. You were busy using slurs on the show to focus on what I was saying.

BECKEL: Don't say it was slurs.

TANTAROS: I'm sorry, Bob, you did.

GUILFOYLE: Yes, you disparaged the state of Texas again.

BECKEL: I didn't say the state of Texas. I said certain people in the state of Texas.

GUILFOYLE: Well, and you hit Southerners, and you hit Florida and --

BOLLING: Where are the Republicans tomorrow? They weren't invited to speak?

TANTAROS: Yes, conservatives black Republicans have been left out. But you say it's not about politics.

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