This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," June 9, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.
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TONY SNOW, GUEST HOST: The fallout following last night's celebrity-filled, profanity-laced fundraiser in New York City. The concert brought in $7.5 million for the Kerry-Edwards ticket, but the X-rated Bush bashing display also brought some harsh criticism from the White House and others.
So what exactly went down last night? And is this sort of over-the-top ranting the new face of politics? Joining us now from Boston, political scientist, Elizabeth Sherman, a research fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School. And here in studio, Foxnews.com columnist Roger Friedman. He was at last night's event.
OK, Roger, give us a full report?
ROGER FRIEDMAN, FOXNEWS.COM COLUMNIST: Well, first of all, it wasn't Xrated. And it was more of a hard "R-rating," let's say.
SNOW: Well, wait...
FRIEDMAN: There were no four letter words. There were no four letter words. There were a lot of double entendres, but there was really nothing that you couldn't see on "Saturday Night Live (search)" on a given show.
SNOW: Well, wait a minute. You have Chevy Chase, for instance, saying something tells me that to be cheerful about a thousand young Americans being killed after war in Iraq was declared, a war that he started just so he can be called the wartime president, I mean...
FRIEDMAN: Well, that's not profanity-laced.
SNOW: No, that's - but that's, you know, that's a guy basically accusing the president of a gratuitous murder of 1,000 Americans.
FRIEDMAN: You know, I can't -- I'm going to defend what Chevy Chase said, but I'm going to say that most of it -- this was a partisan event. And in a partisan event, you're going to have bashing of the other candidate and bashing of the other party.
SNOW: On the other hand - and this -- I want to get our other guest in in a minute, but I want to ask you. You had Whoopi Goldberg (search) getting up...
SNOW: ...doing sexual entendres about female genitalia using the president's last name. Now come on. You've got John Kerry up there. This is not the sort of thing, you know, if John Kerry...
FRIEDMAN: I would call it more juvenile than I would call it - than I would say that it was profane.
SNOW: Well, but what's...
FRIEDMAN: I mean, it's certainly - it's certainly -- I would say that it was all done in poor taste, with the idea that it was a good time for everybody. And they were playing to an audience that wanted to hear this kind of thing.
SNOW: OK, Elizabeth Sherman, you've been studying this. And we have seen a long slide. I just want you to put this into context. What do you think about it?
ELIZABETH SHERMAN, PHD, CENTER FOR PUBLIC LEADERSHIP: Well, you know, I think that this kind of ribald locker room humor that takes place kind of off-screen, this is not on television, this is not the press club awards. I think sometimes you're really going to find that maybe it is over the top and it is in bad taste.
But let's face it, Tony. If every time there was a private party or a fundraiser and somebody, you know, made an off-colored joke or did a skit and we were talking about, as your guest said, the "Saturday Night Live" tenor of our politics nowadays, I think that, yes, it's gotten that way. It's gotten personal. Our politics certainly is encouraging this kind of ribald humor. But I don't think really it's anything new. I think...
SHERMAN: ...you can go back and look at - yes?
SNOW: Elizabeth, I think it is new. When something like this happened at a Howard Dean fundraiser, gosh, it seemed so long ago, he apologized. Instead, here's what John Kerry said.
"Every performer tonight in their own way, either verbally or through their music, threw their lyrics, had conveyed to you the heart and soul of our country. This would include John Mellencamp, who called the president another cheap thug, who sacrifices our young Roger. Look, I believe in the First Amendment...
SNOW: But it is unusual for a presidential candidate to be signing on to this kind of thing.
FRIEDMAN: Well, I don't think that the presidential candidate, either Kerry or Edwards, pre-approved what people were going to say. And I think in a lot of cases had no idea what was going to happen. And I think if you bring in a Whoopi Goldberg, you know there's going to be a big x-factor. I mean, what she is. She's cutting edge.
And this was supposed to be a very hip event, very cutting edge event. And that's exactly what people paid for.
SNOW: Well, wait a minute. Tony, most of these guys have been, you know, out of the spotlight for years. Dave Matthews (search), one of the few who's still got an on-going vigorous record career, but...
FRIEDMAN: Well, Mary J. Blige (search) was a huge star.
SNOW: Well, that's true.
FRIEDMAN: And she was there, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) John. And there were a lot of big stars there last night.
SNOW: Well, a lot of big stars.
Elizabeth, let me get back to you, though. The thing that is different to me about this is the presence of a candidate. It's not unusual for people to say untoward things about candidates. It is unusual for a candidate, now more than a day afterward, not at least to say, you know, they went over the top. They shouldn't have said that. I apologize.
SHERMAN: Well, you know, I think maybe they did go over the top. But the fact is that it was a huge fundraiser for John Kerry. It sounds to me like there was, you know, as you said, a lot of juvenile humor. But also, beyond that, I think that there are a lot of passionate feelings. I mean, when you think back to -- Tony, to the Vietnam War and some of the things that were said about President Johnson and Robert McNamara (search), and I think that in the middle of a war sometimes our politics gets extremely angry.
SNOW: But Elizabeth, I don't recall Hubert Humphrey (search), in 1968, sitting around saying, yes, you know, he's - you know, he's a baby killer, for that matter, or Richard Nixon saying it about Hubert Humphrey. I mean, this is the difference here...
SHERMAN: Oh, Tony...
SNOW: ...is that again -- no, I'm serious about this.
SHERMAN: No, but I know you're serious about this. And I think that what we are seeing is the degradation of our political rhetoric. When the vice president of the United States can say, you know, blank you to a United States senator on the floor of the United States Senate, I mean, you have to say that the entire rhetoric of our politics has really become down and dirty...
SHERMAN: ...and personal. Personal.
SNOW: ...I've got to tell you, Elizabeth. I've been in Washington long enough that I've had senators say the same thing to me in private conversations. Now the difference here, again, is, you know...
FRIEDMAN: Isn't it also that we used to have...
SNOW: Let Elizabeth in, Roger. Elizabeth, go ahead.
SHERMAN: You know, I just wanted to say that if George Bush, who sounds like he's shocked, shocked at these horrible things being said -- I mean, you know, he was very much part of his own father's campaign when there were scurrilous accusations made about Michael Dukakis being insane. You might remember that one.
But I think that this is what happens in the heat of a campaign. And if George Bush and John Kerry start apologizing for the celebrities and supporters who are saying scurrilous, outrageous things in humor or off the cuff at these wild fundraisers, that are not being broadcast on television, I think that they'd spend all their time apologizing.
SNOW: Yes, Elizabeth, I hate to tell you, but the Bush campaign did apologize.
Now Roger, I want to get back to you. If somebody had made untoward jokes or been doing genitalia jokes about Hillary Rodham Clinton, would everybody be saying, had, it's just part of the rough and tumble of politics?
FRIEDMAN: I think they might have, but they wouldn't have - that would have been a different situation.
FRIEDMAN: Well, Clinton would have been different, because with a woman in this situation, then you're going from just what they were doing last night into a whole thing that has to do with the sexes. That would be a different situation.
But if they were doing it with Bill Clinton or Al Gore, yes, then I think that we would have said yes, there's just a rough and tumble.
SNOW: OK, Elizabeth, then you think it's legitimate to say the president is a murderer, he's a lying murderer, and that's it. The candidate says, hey, this is great, this is American values?
SHERMAN: Well, you know, Tony, I mean, this is a different kind of politics now, but I would say this. If you look back at the history of political cartoons, you would see some outrageous things. And also, I just think there's a lot of bitterness. And come on, you know, you know, how down and dirty politics got around the Clinton impeachment. So I think that this is just part and parcel of politics today. And unfortunately, it sounds like we're going to have to live with it.
SNOW: Well, look, it's been nasty. You go back on the calendar and even to the time of Thomas Jefferson...
SHERMAN: Exactly. Exactly.
SNOW: But on the other hand, we did have a brief shining window of civility. It appears to have closed. Professor...
SHERMAN: You know, we're calling for that.
SHERMAN: We're calling for that.
SNOW: OK, professor, Roger, thank you both.
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