Breaking Down CNN vs. the Tea Parties

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," April 22, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: A video sparked a week's worth of outrage that is still growing, a CNN reporter getting in an ugly confrontation with a man at a tea party protest.


SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Let's see, Drop the taxes. Drop socialism. OK, let's see, you're here with your 2-year-old, and you're already in debt (ph). Why are you here today, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I hear a president say that he believed in what Lincoln stood for. Lincoln's primary thing was he believed that people had the right to liberty and they had the right...

ROESGEN: Sir, what does this have to do with taxes? What does this have to do with your taxes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me finish speaking!

ROESGEN: Do you realize that you're eligible for...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me speak, ma'am!

ROESGEN: ... a $400 credit?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me finish my point! Lincoln believed that people had the right to share in the fruits of their own labor and that government should not take it. And we have clearly gotten to that point.

ROESGEN: Wait. Wait. Wait.


ROESGEN: Did you know that the state of Lincoln gets $50 billion out of the stimulus? That's $50 billion for this state, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ma'am, ma'am, ma'am? I -- I...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, sir, sir...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you stop this, sir? Hold on!

ROESGEN: OK, well, Kyra, we'll move on over here. I think you get the general tenor of this. It's anti-government, anti-CNN, since this is highly promoted by the right-wing conservative network, FOX. And since I can't really hear much more and I think this is not really family viewing, toss it back to you, Kyra.


VAN SUSTEREN: Former CNN national correspondent Eileen O'Connor joins us live. Eileen, I can only think that if we had done that, Ted Turner would have had our heads years ago (INAUDIBLE) But anyway, what's your thought on this?

EILEEN O'CONNOR, FORMER CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think she clearly stepped over a line, and this is not representative of CNN. So as a journalist -- as a former journalist, I would say that she became more of a commentator condemning, seemingly at least, to condemn these protesters for speaking their mind, which they're allowed to do.

But what's interesting, as a lawyer and a crisis manager, is that no one from CNN nor the reporter is really saying, Look, maybe I had a bad day, I was frustrated, whatever, this isn't -- this doesn't represent me or the network, and apologizing and move on, which is sort of the classic way you get over these things.

This has gone viral on the Internet, and you have a founding (ph) blogger basically some people there filmed her filming the protesters and showing that, you know, other protesters started arguing with her. And in fact, she ignored signs that said, We hate Republicans, too.

So you know, nothing happens in a vacuum in the 24/7 of the Internet, and I think they need to kind of address it and move on so that their brand isn't affected.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, maybe I'm getting to be a bit of a sap, but a week ago, I called her a rookie and thought it was terrible. Now I feel sorry for her and I think, like, the next time I do something really stupid, you know, is everyone going to be unmerciful to me? You know, I wish there was some way that CNN would sort of help her get out of this because, you know, it's, like, this really does need to get behind her. And it really -- as you say, doing the -- I know that you advise people, corporations, all the time on how to handle these crises, but CNN needs to help her, bail her out of -- and let her move on, let CNN move on.

O'CONNOR: No, I totally agree. I think she was probably having a bad day, and this is one of those things. Look, I've been in demonstrations and riots all over the world, where at one point, some lady actually hit me over the head while I was doing my on-camera. And fortunately, it wasn't live. But you know, as a professional, you also got to keep your cool. And you know, it was a bad day for her, I guess, but she does need to at least say, This doesn't define me and it doesn't define the network. And that's what's really a problem for her and for CNN.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I think that she ought to figure out some way to sort of, you know, get on TV and laugh about it with, like, you know, Jay Leno or Letterman or "The View" or something and just move on because, as I say, I'm getting to be a little bit of a sap and I think she's been punished enough. Eileen, thank you. Always nice to see you.

O'CONNOR: Nice to see you.

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