Outrage at Janet Jackson: Double Standard?

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor", February 5, 2004.

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BILL O’REILLY, HOST: Some black leaders are outraged by the reported dismissal of Janet Jackson (search) from the Grammy (search) telecast.

Joining us now from Los Angeles is Najee Ali, the executive director of The Project Islamic Hope Concern.

All right, Mr. Ali, what say you?

NAJEE ALI, PROJECT ISLAMIC HOPE: Hi, Bill. Thanks for having me, again. And first of all, I want everyone to be real clear. Our organization does not support what Janet Jackson did or condone it, but we cannot condone what the Grammys are doing as far as stripping Janet Jackson of her role in being allowed to participate in the program.

We feel it's very hypocritical that someone like R. Kelly, someone who should be in jail, someone who is facing almost two dozen counts and charges for sexual abuse, sexual molestation of a minor, and possessing child pornography is allowed to be at the Grammys, but someone like Janet Jackson, who has committed no crime, all of a sudden has been disinvited from the Grammys.

O'REILLY: All right.

ALI: That's a double standard and hypocritical.

O'REILLY: Now R. Kelly, though, I don't believe he's part of the show. He's just showing up and hoping he wins, right?

ALI: Well, that's correct, but...

O'REILLY: All right, so I don't know if the Grammy...

ALI: ...the fact is R. Kelly has to be invited.

O'REILLY: ...I guess the Grammy people could keep him out of there, but I think it'll be tough because he hasn't convicted of anything. He's still pending. He's out on bail. I think that might be hard.

But the Jackson situation comes down to this, Mr. Ali. Now your organization, all right, and your religion teaches that people should be accountable and responsible for their actions. Now Janet Jackson has apologized. And I, as an American, have accepted her apology, by the way. I want everybody to know that.

However, there's always a bit of punishment after you do something wrong, even if you do apologize. And this seems to be in context inappropriate. If I were CBS and she did to me what she did to CBS, I certainly would say you're not welcome on the Grammy broadcast as a punishment for what you did to us during the Superbowl. What's wrong with that?

ALI: And Bill, the fact is no one's saying that Janet should not be punished or held accountable.

O'REILLY: This is her punishment.

ALI: I agree that what Janet did was wrong. I'm saying the punishment is too severe and is too strict. I feel that CBS is being hypocritical.

O'REILLY: Oh, come on.

ALI: We're talking about the same station that aired the Victoria Secret award show.

O'REILLY: Come on, Mr. Ali, stop. She's on a CBS broadcasting the Superbowl and she grosses out and embarrasses the organization. And then a week later you think it's too strict that they boot her out of another CBS broadcast? You'd do the same thing if you were them.

ALI: Bill, where's the punishment for Kid Rock, who draped and desecrated the American flag as he wore it around his vest like a poncho? Where is the punishment for everyone else who was involved in that whole broadcast?

O'REILLY: All right, now we're justifying, as I said in the lead-in, bad behavior by pointing to other bad behavior. You can't do that, Mr. Ali. Look...

ALI: Bill, I'm saying...

O'REILLY: ...what Mr. Rock did by wearing the poncho shirt didn't offend me. I'm sorry. I know it offended some Americans. It didn't offend me. All right.

ALI: But what Janet did was...

O'REILLY: What she did, it didn't offend me either. Me, I'm a regular guy. I don't care whether she's throwing her breasts out in my face. I kind of like that. But it did offend millions of families, was a violation of what she told CBS she was going to do, and was insulting and disrespectful to the American public. And you're telling me, Mr. Ali, that booting her off the Grammys is too strict a punishment? Come on.

ALI: It's too severe. Why come -- no one complained when Britney Spears kissed Madonna at the awards?

O'REILLY: Wait a minute. What do you live on Venus?

ALI: Where was the FCC then?

O'REILLY: Everybody complained. Everybody scorned it, except the pinheads in the industry.

ALI: There was no FCC investigation. There was no fine. And they weren't kicked off any other shows that they appeared on, Bill.

O'REILLY: Well, Mr. Ali, look again, you're justifying -- you're saying this bad behavior, that bad behavior. A guy like you runs an organization like you run that teaches people to have discipline and standards should be saying this punishment is appropriate, is in context, it sends a message to all of the others. If you do this, now finally, you're going to be punished. Come o. This is good for society.

ALI: The last time I appeared on your show, we both agreed that Snoop Dogg should never have appeared on the Muppet show.

O'REILLY: Right.

ALI: I agreed with you. And I stated my support for you publicly on your show last time I was a guest.

O'REILLY: Right.

ALI: This particular time we disagree. I'm saying what Janet Jackson did should not be condoned. I was offended by it, but I'm saying...

O'REILLY: And what do you think the punishment should be, Mr. Ali, of Janet Jackson? What would you do?

ALI: Well, Janet Jackson has apologized. And more importantly, let's put the accountability on these awards shows. They should have guidelines that offer guests who appear...

O'REILLY: Mr. Ali, this is a no-spin zone. You know that. You're a no spin guy. What punishment would be levy upon Ms. Jackson?

ALI: That Janet Jackson maybe have her record company pay a fine, since they are the ones who manage her career. And hopefully, Janet will not do this again. Other performers will not do the same thing Janet did in the future, because television does need to be cleared up. But if we want to clear it up, let's clear it up across the board. As far as these other shows, "Sex and the City."

O'REILLY: Well, I'm down with that, as they say in the hood. Okay? I want to clean it up, but I want to send the messages. And just because somebody else doesn't get chastised -- and believe me, Britney Spears and Madonna did themselves no good at all with that display. Okay? They didn't. Now this woman...

ALI: I agree.

O'REILLY: ...this Janet Jackson, again, I accept her apology. I think she's sorry, but not because she understands how offensive her display was to children and families with children, but because she's getting hurt. And she said gee, I wish I didn't do that. But I'm going to give you the last word on this. But if we hold all of them accountable, Mr. Ali, just like this, then it will stop. Go.

ALI: And I agree with you, Bill. The only thing that concerns me is when you start with Janet Jackson when some of the other entertainers have done worse or more, it just sends the wrong message to the black community that maybe Janet Jackson may be scapegoated because she's a Jackson. We know that Michael right now is under attack. And he's facing criminal charges also. So we just wondered if the Jackson family is being victimized because of guilt by association with Michael Jackson being Janet's brother.

O'REILLY: All right, Mr. Ali, always a pleasure having you on the show. Thank you very much.

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