Miss California vs. Perez Hilton: A Question of Beliefs?

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," April 21, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight, we are live in the Oval Office. Well, not exactly, and maybe just sort of "sort of." But it's as close a replica as you can find. We are live in College Station, Texas, at the George Herbert Walker Bush presidential library. We're going to tell you why in a moment.

But first, Miss California strikes back. That feud is not going away. Now, it all started at the Miss USA pageant when Miss California answered a question from pageant judge Perez Hilton and said she does not support gay marriage, Miss California defending her position to FOX's Neil Cavuto.


CARRIE PREJEAN, MISS CALIFORNIA 2009: I think any of the top five girls that were up there that were asked that question had a choice to go this way or this way. And I think that I was the one that was blessed enough to get this question. I am so blessed that I was able to speak my mind, my thoughts, my convictions in front of millions of people. And it's been such a blessing in disguise, this whole process. So thank you, Perez!

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST, "CAVUTO": But you said you're not against gays.

PREJEAN: No. This has absolutely nothing to do with it.

CAVUTO: Explain. What is your position?

PREJEAN: My position is that I believe a marriage is between a man and a woman. And the way that Perez asked me the question that night, of course, I was extremely nervous. I was up there at Miss USA, if you can imagine, being called into the top ten, top five, you know, having to answer your question. You're nervous, and you see Donald Trump sitting in the front row, your family and friends, millions of people are watching and...

CAVUTO: Did you know after your answer, I just lost this?

PREJEAN: As he was asking me the question, I just (INAUDIBLE) my faith, and as soon as I began to talk, I said in my head, God, this is where you need to show up. Show up right here. And that's where I just said, You know what? Go for it.


PREJEAN: Speak your mind, speak your thoughts and don't be ashamed.


VAN SUSTEREN: Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton asked Miss California that gay marriage question, and later called her a dumb "blank" on his blog because of her answer. Hilton hammered Miss California again on the "Today" show.


PEREZ HILTON, MISS USA JUDGE: I would personally have appreciated it had she had left her politics and her religion out because Miss USA represents all Americans. I think I gave her the easy way out. She could have answered that question so many different ways. She could have said, Well, I want to leave my politics out of the question, and I think that it's important for the states to make those decisions for themselves. And I think that would have been a better answer than the one that she gave.


VAN SUSTEREN: Keith Lewis is the co-executive director of the Miss California USA pageant. This is his first interview about the controversy. Keith, thank you for joining us.

KEITH LEWIS, CO-EXECUTIVE DIR., MISS CA USA: Thank you very much for having me.

VAN SUSTEREN: So Keith, what happened? Why did this happen?

LEWIS: Well -- well, I guess it was a controversial issue, and that's why it erupted. I don't know that we thought that's what was going to happen there on stage, but sometimes it does.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did you know that she was going to be asked that question about gay marriage?

LEWIS: No. No. we don't know about any of the questions. You know, any of the top five drew a random drawing and those questions are drawn, and then they answered to them.

And you know, I think it's important to remember Carrie was not winning when she was scored in swimsuit, which was the first phase of the competition. She placed third in the scores that showed on the television set, which was cumulative of the judges. She scored second in evening gown. So going into the questions, she was not the winner. She was placed high in the grouping of five, but she wasn't the winner. So I don't believe that her answer cost her the competition.

Carrie -- this is the first time that she's actually experienced being first runner-up at Miss USA. I've sat in the audience with three Miss Californias, and I've experienced it three times. And each time Miss California gets that close, they're asking all sorts of questions of why it happened and they're trying to second-guess. Was it my dress? Was it my hair? Was it my body? What did I do wrong? So I think that's what she's kind of going through right now.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well (INAUDIBLE) All right, so put aside the issue about whether or not she was winning and whether or not that the question was the killer question. Subsequent to the pageant, after the pageant was over, she did take a beating by Perez Hilton. He did insult her on a blog that stays on the Internet forever. Do you agree with that?

LEWIS: You know, I do. I don't agree with his tactics, but I think that's pretty consistent with his character, isn't it, Greta, in terms of the kind of outbursts that he does?

VAN SUSTEREN: I have no idea. You'll have to tell me that. But who picked him for a judge?

LEWIS: I assume it was NBC and the Miss Universe organization. They're the owners of Miss USA.

VAN SUSTEREN: How many judges are there?

LEWIS: I believe there were 12, but I'm not -- I'm -- I'm not positive. Between 10 and 12, I think.

VAN SUSTEREN: Have you had a conversation with Miss California since the pageant?

LEWIS: I've had many conversations with Carrie Prejean. Miss California right now is kind of -- she's waiting to return to our state because Carrie Prejean wants to go and she really wants to clarify her beliefs and she wants to speak on her beliefs. And I'm really looking forward to Miss California coming back and getting to the work at hand in California, which...

VAN SUSTEREN: I take there's -- I take it there's a little bit of a rub, then, between you and Carrie, the way that was said. Is that right?

LEWIS: You know, no. No. I wouldn't say that it's a rub. You know, this is a 21-year-old girl who made it to first runner-up, runner-up at Miss USA, who has gone under a great deal of scrutiny. And you know, we're getting hate mail and she getting probably some criticism, as well, from different sides. And I think that, you know, she needs to clarify her beliefs. But they're her beliefs. They're not the beliefs of the Miss California USA...

VAN SUSTEREN: But let me stop there. Is -- is the contest, though -- I judged Miss America. Is the contest...

LEWIS: You did 2003.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... whether or not you agree with her -- no, no. Is the contest whether you agree with her or whether or not someone has the poise and sort of can answer a question as though it is well thought out, whether or not you agree with the person or not, because those are two different considerations.

LEWIS: I judged more than I've ever been a director. I judged more pageants. And I will tell you, it never mattered to me whether I agreed with them or not. It was how they answered the question and how they -- they encompassed (ph) the entire group in terms of I think there's ways of handling questions where you don't necessarily alienate your audience. I think she was true to her beliefs, and I'm proud of her for that. But at the same time...


LEWIS: ... when she did that -- yes?

VAN SUSTEREN: I've got to go, but I didn't want to cut you off.

LEWIS: Well, that's OK. When she did that, I think she offended some...

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Keith. Thank you.

LEWIS: You're welcome.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, Keith. Claudia Jordan was a judge Sunday night at the pageant and joins us. Claudia, nice to see you. Claudia, tell me, in terms of the controversy, what do you think about it?

CLAUDIA JORDAN, MISS USA JUDGE: Well, you know, I'm definitely for equal rights for everybody, but I also am also for freedom of speech. I mean, I did not hold it against Carrie that she, you know, stood by her beliefs, that she did not believe that marriage is between two men, she believes it's between a man and a woman. There's absolutely nothing wrong with each of us being able to express ourselves and take a stand. I did not hold that against her, not one bit. But I was more concerned with she didn't answer the question. The question was...

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think Perez Hilton held it against her because he didn't agree with her on the issue?

JORDAN: Well, it's hard for me to say because I don't know him and I didn't get to see his scorecard, but I would imagine and assume that he did. But Perez is one judge out of 12. So even if he gave her -- at that point, we ranked the contestants first through -- you know, one through give. So he could have very well ranked her five, and if three, four, five, six, seven of the judges had her at one, she still would have won the pageant. So I just think it's presumptuous to assume that she was winning and that, you know, caused her to not win. I mean -- you know, I was a judge and I know what my scorecard looked like, and I tried to peek over at the other judges' scorecard, as well. And you know, I think it's a big assumption to assume that she was winning the pageant. You know, Miss North Carolina won the pageant. But I think Carrie did a great job...

VAN SUSTEREN: I think that -- I mean, it's -- you know, I might not disagree with you on that. The thing that, you know, has struck me is that, you know, a woman competes very hard in a pageant -- and like I said, I've judged some Miss America, and they really work hard to compete. And then after the contest, you've got someone who goes on the Internet and just whacks you and insults you. And so (INAUDIBLE) sort of whether she would have won or not. I mean, I -- it's more the -- you know, is that right?

JORDAN: Well, you know what? I agree with you on that. I don't think any news media on either side, left or right, should be attacking anyone that's trying to go up there and live their dream. You know, she's -- at the end of the day, she's a young girl trying to win a pageant.

I think we're putting a lot of emphasis on a beauty pageant contestant, and we're talking about politics and where she stands on different issues. And it's -- some of it's a little bit ridiculous, I think. I mean, I'm a former pageant contestant myself. But at the end of the day, we got to lighten up. It's a pageant. Do I believe she should be attacked? Absolutely not. But Perez Hilton -- he has his brand of blogging, and that's what he does. But you know, I just think...

VAN SUSTEREN: Claudia...

JORDAN: ... that she shouldn't be -- I don't think she should be vilified for, you know, not taking a popular stance, so -- but you know, this is a pageant, so...

VAN SUSTEREN: Claudia, thank you. Thank you, Claudia.

VAN SUSTEREN: FOX's religion correspondent, Lauren Green, joins us. And there's a little bit more about Lauren. Lauren is also Miss Minnesota 1984 and competed in the Miss America pageant. Nice to see you, Lauren. Lauren, is the Miss USA pageant different in terms of, you know, the actual process for becoming Miss -- becoming Miss USA compared to Miss America?

LAUREN GREEN, FOX CORRESPONDENT, FORMER MISS MINNESOTA: The difference is in the Miss America pageant, there was a talent competition. So that's figured into the overall score. So in the Miss USA pageant, there is no talent. So yes, it's different in that sense, but it's not different in the sense that each contestant is asked a question and you're expected to be able to handle any kind of controversial questions that the public, the judges, the press may ask.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, and -- I mean, and I should say that you play the piano beautifully. That is your talent. I knew that but -- going into this. But all right, Lauren, here's the story, is that you can ask a question as a judge of a contestant and get the answer, and either you can look for an answer that agrees with you, which I think is fundamentally wrong...

GREEN: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... or you can look for an answer which looks like one that is well thought out and at least grounded in sort of some sense of, you know, consideration or shows, you know, a strong intellect or a strong passion.

GREEN: Exactly. Well, you bring up an excellent point...


GREEN: Go ahead. Ask the question.

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you think happened here?

GREEN: Well, like you said, the most important thing about a judge is that they ask the question, and it's not important if the contestant agrees with them or not. The important thing is, Do they hold up their position well? What they believe is not the issue.

Do I think that Perez Hilton judged her accordingly because he did not agree with him? I think that's true. I didn't see his scorecard, like your previous guest said. But one thing that you have to remember is that there are 12 judges. For her to be first runner-up, if, in fact, it's true that -- I mean, score-wise, she was not the leader -- meant that many of those judges had to put her either first or second on the ballot. So there were many judges who agreed with her. Now, whether or not they were agreeing with her and that's the reason they put her first or second, we'll not know unless somebody actually looks at the scorecards. But he's one judge out of 12.

VAN SUSTEREN: Isn't it probably true -- isn't it probably true that what we really wanted to know -- we would like to know how much she lost first place by. If she lost -- if Miss North Carolina was a real runaway and won it be 2,000 points, then she didn't. If Miss North Carolina won by one point, then there's a good chance that this did hurt her.

GREEN: It's entirely possible. I do not know the rules of the Miss USA pageant in order to say whether or not we can actually get those scorecards or whether they're privileged information. Only Donald Trump really should know. I mean, that's the person probably who would be the ultimate person to get that information, if we wanted to get it, and if he was willing to expose that to the public and to the press.

VAN SUSTEREN: And we should probably add the congratulations to Miss North Carolina and Miss California both very...

GREEN: That's kind of -- that's kind of...


GREEN: Nobody really knows who Miss USA is. They're always talking about Miss California right now.

VAN SUSTEREN: Indeed. Lauren, thank you.

GREEN: Sure.

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