A Congressman Alleges that Karl Rove was Behind CBS' 'Memogate' Scandal

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," Feb. 23, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Over the weekend, Democratic Congressman Maurice Hinchey said at a community forum that presidential advisor Karl Rove may have played a role in the fraudulent memos used by CBS in a report on the president's National Guard service.

Joining us now is New York Congressman Maurice Hinchey.

I read your remarks on this thing. You don't deny saying it?

REP. MAURICE HINCHEY (D), NEW YORK: Of course not. No.

HANNITY: If you don't have overwhelming and incontrovertible evidence that you are going to present now — and I don't want to talk about Karl Rove's past — you have accused him — hang on. You have accused him here of something horrible. If you don't have evidence, as a United States congressman, you need to apologize and retract the statement now.

HINCHEY: No. I need to do this kind of thing because it's important to get these issues out. And I think you know it.

HANNITY: Where is the proof, sir?

HINCHEY: The proof? There's a whole host of proof.

HANNITY: Give it to us right now. Where's the proof?

HINCHEY: A host of circumstantial proof. You say you don't want to talk about the past, but the past is indicative of the present and the future. And if you look in the past here you find that Mr. Rove has a history of dirty tricks...

HANNITY: History of dirty tricks? Congressman...

HINCHEY: ... going all the way back to the 1970s right on up to the present.

HANNITY: What evidence do...

HINCHEY: And — and besides that...

HANNITY: Wait. Let me finish the question. What evidence do you have that Karl Rove manufactured the CBS scandal? Because if you don't have direct evidence in this case, sir, you owe the man an apology. You owe your constituents an apology. And you owe America an apology for your bizarre conspiracy theory.

HINCHEY: That's your opinion, but it's a very bad opinion. I don't owe anybody an apology.

It's my responsibility as a representative to go to Washington, represent my constituents and come back and tell them what's going on there and also my interpretation of what's going on there.

HANNITY: So let me get this. So you...

HINCHEY: ...Sean, and I think you know that.

HANNITY: Without any proof, without any evidence or substantiation, you can accuse the president's top advisor of conspiring to bring down a network. And you have no evidence that you can bring this audience right now, none whatsoever, except he's played dirty tricks before? That's your evidence?

That's embarrassing, Congressman.

HINCHEY: I know it's embarrassing...

HANNITY: To you.

HINCHEY: It's embarrassing to you.

HANNITY: To you.

HINCHEY: It's embarrassing to you because of what you think you represent. It's not embarrassing to me.

My theory is that the White House political operation was behind the development of those false documents, those forged documents...


HINCHEY: ... which, by the way, is a federal crime.

HANNITY: Show our audience. Show our — now you're accusing him of a crime.

HINCHEY: It's a federal crime.

HANNITY: Look at that camera right there. Show the audience the evidence.

HINCHEY: My friends, what I'm saying to you, and I'm awfully glad you're listening to this. If you look at the history of Karl Rove and his activities dating back to 1970 right up to the present...

HANNITY: This isn't proof.

HINCHEY: ... to the present, you will find that he has a history of enormous dirty tricks.

COLMES: Congressman, here's what's interesting. You know...

HINCHEY: And this — this business of forging these documents for CBS is very consistent with his behavior.

COLMES: Let me point out a couple things.

HINCHEY: Furthermore...

COLMES: ... evidence.

HINCHEY: He had the motive, opportunity, and the ability.

COLMES: They don't want to hear your theory but I want to let you speak. For one thing...

HINCHEY: I finally believe in you. I was skeptical about it up until now. Now that I see you in person, I guess you are real.

COLMES: Congressman, look. He's real. I can vouch for that.

Scott Peterson was convicted on circumstantial evidence in California.

Here we have an administration that had people hired by the administration pretend to be objective reporters, and when they're actually there to promote an agenda. It turns out they're getting paid by the Department of Education to put forth an agenda, a purportedly objective [agenda]. Ringers at news conferences there to ask a softball question when the president gets into trouble.

Is this the kind of circumstantial evidence you're talking about?

HINCHEY: Well, it's precisely right. And you put your finger on the real issue here. The real issue here is the manipulation of the media.

The American information system is essential to the maintenance of this democracy. And if we allow people to corrupt the American media so that people sitting in their living rooms listening to the news aren't sure if they're getting propaganda put out by people that are hired by the administration or the real thing, then we've begun the erosion of the American political system and the American democracy.

COLMES: You don't have any real proof that Karl Rove is behind the CBS memos? I mean, we have no hard evidence?

HINCHEY: No. Not yet, not yet.

COLMES: Are you suggesting we will?

HINCHEY: But we need — we need to get some. We need to get some.

COLMES: Are you suggesting that because they did — they had let this guy named Jeff Gannon into the White House using a phony name, and he, you know, was throwing softballs, and because they paid people like Armstrong Williams, is this evidence, in your view, that he's likely to be behind the memo?

HINCHEY: Well, I think it's clear evidence that the Bush administration has been manipulating the media.

If you hire people like Armstrong Williams, people who are supposed to be objective reporters or objective analyzers of the news, and you hire them to put forth propaganda or the administration's agenda, then you're manipulating the media.

If you hire a guy by the name of Jeff Gannon, fake reporter with a fake name...

HANNITY: Congressman...

HINCHEY: ... to go into the White House press corps to lob softball questions and to try to...

HANNITY: Congressman...

HINCHEY: ... divert the media's attention in a certain way — excuse me, I'm not quite finished.

HANNITY: I know. I know.

HINCHEY: ... divert the media's attention another way, then of course, you're corrupting this.

HANNITY: I'll make you a bet.

HINCHEY: And that's what they've done.

HANNITY: I'll make you a bet. I'll give you two weeks to come on this program with your evidence.

HINCHEY: Come on.

HANNITY: And if you can't bring direct evidence to link Karl Rove you'll apologize and donate a thousand dollars to my charity. If you bring the evidence and you convince me, I'll give you a thousand dollars. And Alan will be the arbiter.

COLMES: What charity?

HANNITY: Alan...

COLMES: The Sean Hannity Fund.

HANNITY: The Freedom Alliance Fund.

COLMES: All right.

HINCHEY: That's amusing, but it's not really serious.

HANNITY: Your conspiracy isn't serious. We're out of time.

HINCHEY: We need — we need a real investigation here. The media should be doing it, and the Congress should be doing it.

HANNITY: We will be watching you.

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