Should President Obama have used the n-word?

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," June 22, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

DAVID WEBB, GUEST HOST: Welcome to "Hannity." Following the tragic events that transpired last week, in Charleston, South Carolina, both political and community leaders across America are using this racially motivated act of cowardice carried out by deranged killer as an opportunity to have a conversation about race relations in our country.

I'm David Webb, in for Sean tonight. Thank you for joining us.

Over the weekend, during a podcast with a comedian, Marc Maron, President Obama sparked controversy during a discussion about race when he used the n-word to convey his point. Listen to this.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Racism, we are not cured of it, clearly. And it's not just a matter of it not being polite to say (DELETED) in public. That's not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It's not just a matter of overt discrimination. We have to -- societies don't overnight completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior.


WEBB: So is the dialogue you just heard advancing Americans' discussion about race? Joining me to respond, criminal defense attorney Eric Guster, executive director of, my good friend, Niger Innis, and Fox News contributor Deneen Borelli.

Ladies first. Deneen, President Obama's comments and the dignity of the office.

DENEEN BORELLI, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: It's outrageous, David. I think he has absolutely lowered the standard in terms of being president of the United States. He made no mention of racism in America when he ran for president not once but twice. And I have dubbed him today rapper-in-chief for using such language.

And you should see all the hate mail that I'm getting. I'm being attacked for talking about President Obama using such language on the national platform.

What are young children thinking? What are people thinking that this is coming from the president of the United States? It's outrageous!

WEBB: So sounds like you're talking about the office of the presidency...

BORELLI: Absolutely.

WEBB: ... not the partisanship, but the office of the president...


WEBB: ... regardless of whoever sits there. Niger, let's go to you on this. Where do you stand, the president's use of the "N" word?

NIGER INNIS, THETEAPARTY.NET: I don't care so much about the president's use of the "N" word as much as -- although I do agree with Deneen. She's got a great line. I think she stole it from me, rapper-in- chief. That is the president. He's also entertainer-in-chief. He's tapped into the entertainment market and used it very successfully for his own political purposes.

I think the context is much more important. I think the fact that today, we had an extraordinary day in South Carolina, where you had Nikki Haley, the first Indian-American governor of South Carolina, flanked by one of two black Republicans of the senators in the United States Senate, Tim Scott, of course, who is Republican.

And you have this extraordinary moment where these folk remove or say that they plan to remove the Confederate flag from the state grounds. You have this extraordinary moment about how far we've come as a country and the fact that we are moving forward together in South Carolina, in Charleston, all over this country.

and this president fielded (ph) the context of where he used that "N" word. What he was essentially saying is that things have not really changed.

WEBB: All right, let's go to Governor Haley. This is what she had to say about removing the Confederate flag.


GOV. NIKKI HALEY, R-S.C.: We do not need to declare a winner and a loser here. We respect freedom of expression. And for those who wish to show their respect for the flag on their private property, no one will stand in your way. But the statehouse is different, and the events of this past week call upon us to look at this in a different way.

Today, we are here in a moment of unity in our state, without ill will, to say it's time to move the flag from the Capitol grounds.



WEBB: And let's go back in time. This is, of course, former president and former governor Bill Clinton. Show this.

"The blue star above the word Arkansas, to commemorate the Confederate flag -- Confederate states of America." So a different application there.

To our other guest, Eric Guster. Eric, how are you?


WEBB: OK. Your take on the president's statement and the context?

GUSTER: Well, the context was very clear. The president was speaking about race relations and how things have come far. However, a lot of people have to understand that just not saying the "N" word in public is not necessarily saying that racism is totally eradicated. And it was -- his context was very clear.

And what Deneen was saying about rapper-in-chief -- that was totally inappropriate because he wasn't saying it in a rap lyric or he wasn't saying this just to be casual. He was talking about the deep-rooted areas of racism that we have to deal with.


GUSTER: And I'm in Birmingham, Alabama...


GUSTER: I'm in Birmingham, Alabama, which you see the background behind me. So I know about Civil Rights. I know about...

BORELLI: Where's the racism, Eric?

GUSTER: ... racism and things going -- things getting better...

BORELLI: The man was elected twice!


WEBB: Eric, let me ask you this question. Let me ask you this question because Deneen asked it. And I'll put it in a different context or in a different frame. Is America institutionally racist? That's racism which requires codified law, a social acceptance, a silent acceptance, and we know that racists -- racists will always exist, bias, prejudice in some form, black, white, in any form will always exist.

Is America institutionally racist, or are there racists in America?

GUSTER: There are definitely racists in America. There is racism from the boardroom to the courtroom. So we have to deal with those people.  Just like this moron who went and killed nine people, he was seriously a racist. So we have to deal with those different levels of racism and start addressing it.

And some people have said the president has not talked about racism.  And when he finally does, he's getting attacked.

WEBB: All right, so let me...

GUSTER: He did the right thing by putting it in context.

WEBB: ... bring this back -- let me bring this back to Deneen.  Deneen, the question is, are we institutionally racist? I say we're not.  We don't have codified law like we did during slavery. We don't have societal acceptance. Matter of fact, what we see in South Carolina is a rejection by all ethnicities of this.

BORELLI: Our country has made amazing strides, David. The three of us sitting here, the four of us on national television -- Obama was elected twice. It wasn't only with black voters.

WEBB: A black senator from South Carolina.


BORELLI: But here we're talking about a flag and here we're talking about racism again that people are saying that is rampant in America.  America is an exceptional country. Americans can work hard, apply themselves no matter who you are or what your background is. Anything can happen as long as you do that.

WEBB: OK, Niger, there is -- there's always bias in life. We have to be honest about it.

INNIS: Right.

WEBB: It can happen in any dynamic, black, white, Asian, male, female. It exists. So we deal with bias. We have laws and we have a societal rejection of that. So we are not static. We're not where we were in the '60s. Do you think we are where the president says we are today, or are we somewhere else?

INNIS: No, we're way somewhere else. We are moving forward as a country. And look, we have all traveled around the world. And racism or bigotry is a part of the human condition from Africa to Europe to Asia, tribalism, all types of religious animosity that exists and bigotry that exists.

America has come so far so relatively quickly. And you know, it's not often that I quote a black Democrat, but let me quote Harold Ford, who actually took issue with the president using the "N" word and the context.  He says the challenge of our age for not just minorities but for working class folk is education. We need education reform.

WEBB: All right, back to you, Eric. You've heard from both Deneen and Niger again. Haven't we evolved to the point where we can actually have an honest discussion? But unfortunately, it's often polluted by the hyperbole.

I don't want to talk about the use of the "N" word. That's -- I agree on the office being more important. But let's face it, we're not talking about the issue, we're talking about a word.

GUSTER: Well, we're talking about the word and the issue because just like the president said in that podcast, it's -- just not saying the word in public does not mean that racism is gone. And so we have to get to the deep-rooted issues and start listening to each other, opposed to just battling rams like on the mountain where we don't listen to each other.

And we have come a long way. I agree with that 100 percent. Just like what Deneen said, we have four African-Americans on national TV right now discussing this. We have come a long way, but we have a long way to go. And that's why it's important to have those discussions, open discussions, and not be so PC about it where we can't have those discussions.

WEBB: Well, I'll tell you what we won't be, is we won't be dishonest about it as Americans. And I believe that this country -- I think we all agree, Eric, Niger Deneen -- we've come a far way. And there will always be bias, but we deal with those individual instances.

Eric, thank you. Deneen, Niger, great to see you again.

Coming up -- Karl Rove under fire about his comments about the 2nd Amendment. But he says he's been taken out of context. He'll be here next to explain.

And later tonight...


ALANA SIMMONS, GRANDDAUGHTER OF CHARLESTON VICTIM: We just want to focus on our grandfather and the other victims and making sure that the communities and the families heal.


WEBB: The granddaughter and widow of one of the Charleston church shooting victims share their emotional story. That much and more as "Hannity" continues.


WEBB: Welcome back to "Hannity." Following the tragic shooting in Charleston last week, liberals and the media tried to use the event to push for increased gun control. Well, Karl Rove weighed in on the issue yesterday on "Fox News Sunday." Watch this.


KARL ROVE, FMR. BUSH SR. ADVISER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: So we've come a long way. Now, maybe -- maybe there's some magic law that will keep us from having more of these. I mean, basically, the only way to guarantee that we would dramatically reduce acts of violence involving guns is to basically remove guns from society. And until somebody gets enough oomph to repeal the 2nd Amendment, that's not going to happen. I don't think it's an answer.


WEBB: Joining me now, FOX News contributor, former deputy chief of staff and adviser to President George W. Bush, the aforementioned Karl Rove. Karl, good to see you again.

ROVE: Thank you.

WEBB: So your statement caught a few people's ears, let's call it that. I read it, and I looked at -- I'm guessing there was a little bit of sarcasm in there, was there?

ROVE: Well, look, people always -- in moments like this, some politicians look for magic answers. And I don't think this is an answer, as I said. I went on to describe what I think we ought to be focused on, which is we had warning signs from this young man. He talked to friends about it. He talked to other individuals about it. He went on the Internet and openly explained what he was going to do. And somehow or another, we missed those signs.

We need more personal responsibility in our society, in my opinion, in which friends and family and community care about each other enough to take these things seriously.

The idea that, somehow or another, this could have been prevented by some gun control act -- it just simply is not accurate. I mean, take Chicago. It has some of the toughest gun control laws on the books, yet it's, you know, a murder capital.

And it's because when you take away the people's right to keep and bear arms, bad people keep and bear arms and use them. So as I said yesterday on "Fox News Sunday," this is not an answer.

WEBB: What is the answer that's needed, or at least one of the answers? Because there's not one either/or, there's not a magic bullet. I agree with you on that. And we're never going to repeal the 2nd Amendment.  I think that point you made because the last part of your statement was...

ROVE: Well, we shouldn't -- we shouldn't...

WEBB: ... you said it's not going to happen.

ROVE: Well, and we shouldn't. I'm not suggesting it's even a good idea. But I do think this. I think, first of all, evil exists. And we've got to recognize that in our fallen condition, there will always be evil.

And in this specific instance, I do worry that we had some warning signs that people should have picked up on and didn't. He was on the Internet saying these violent things. He was saying these things to friends, probably was saying it to family, as well. And yet somehow or another, people didn't care enough, didn't take the responsibility for their fellow citizens enough, seriously, enough to do something about it.

WEBB: Well, this is what the president had to say about this, and of course, the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.


OBAMA: You don't see murder on this kind of scale, with this kind of frequency in any other advanced nation on earth. What's different is not every country is awash with easily accessible guns.

HILLARY CLINTON, FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRES. CANDIDATE: And I am not and will not be afraid to keep fighting for common sense reforms, and along with you, achieve those on behalf of all who have been lost because of the senseless gun violence in our country!


WEBB: OK, so the president, he makes his statement. He pulls the agenda into it, Karl, and then Hillary Clinton plays to it. You've been in that White House. What do you think?

ROVE: Well, what I was interested was, was that earlier in the week, the president basically said, Look, this -- we're not going to get additional gun control measures. And then on Friday, when he went before the mayors, is when he ramped up the pressure.

And I frankly think the president should have stayed away from the issue altogether. I do not think he helps his cause. I do not think he serves the nation well by doing this.

I think it would have been better for him to have been talking about how we as a society have a responsibility to love a neighbor like we'd like to be loved ourselves. And in this instance, we had somebody who was espousing hate, and rather than raise a concern, talk to people in authority, talk to the family, raise some warning signs -- when these warning signs were raised, people didn't act. And that's what we ought to be focused on as a country.

We also ought to be focused on this incredible example that we have of how love was met -- I mean, this -- this evil was met by love, admittedly by grief. I hate that it had to be in a situation where it was accompanied by grief. But this is an incredible example of the reconciliation that is taking place in the United States, particularly in the South.

And I thought Nikki Haley this afternoon -- standing next to her was the first African-American since the Reconstruction era to be a senator from the South. And standing next to her was Lindsey Graham, who had previously opposed the removal of the Confederate flag.

But there was this recognition by South Carolina as a community that it was time to return that flag to the museum, where it belonged, and to remove the hateful symbol that so many people in the state of South Carolina saw as a hateful symbol.

I thought it was an incredible moment. That's where the president ought to be focused, not on something that is for political points, for electoral politics, and is a cause that he has championed with no success even when he had Congress that was overwhelmingly populated by members of his own party.

WEBB: Well, the reality is, no one is going to remove the 2nd Amendment. It will never be overturned in the United States. Karl, thank you.

Joining me now with reaction is John Lott, the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and National Review writer Charles Cooke.  Gentlemen, thank you for joining me tonight.

First to you, John. When you take a look at this situation, how it's played out, what do you have to say to the president's remarks?

JOHN LOTT, CRIME PREVENTION RESEARCH CENTER: Well, I guess the thing that most disappoints me with regard to the president is he just keeps on putting out information that's clearly false.

I mean, in the clip that you had, the United States doesn't have the highest murder rate among developed countries. You look at Russia. You look at Brazil. Those are countries that have three to five times higher murder rates than what we have here in the United States. There are other countries which are similar to us.

You know, the other types of claims he was making last week were that these mass public shootings only occur in the United States. The worst mass public shooting that's occurred has been in Norway, where 67 people were killed and 110 injured.

If you look at just Europe and the United States, not even taking into account a lot of really bad places in the world, the United States ranks eighth in terms of per capita mass public shooting deaths from 1999 on.  And that's not even counting things like bombing deaths with Russia, which has, like, twice as many bombing deaths as we have mass shootings. So you know, it's...

WEBB: OK, so let's bring this home to the United States because you're right. Those are the numbers. They're horrific (INAUDIBLE) But Charles, to you. We have murder rates, especially gun crimes, that have dropped. That's been attracked (ph) over the last three decades.

We have this narrative. And I want to bring this into it, which is what's being pushed here by the media, by the images. We have this image of a gun pointed at Ted Cruz's head. This is a picture that was taken by AP and about seven or eight hours later was posted. So was this deliberate? Is this narrative being pushed?

CHARLES COOKE, NATIONAL REVIEW: I think that's deliberate. I they wouldn't have done it had it been Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.

WEBB: So why do it if it's Ted Cruz?

COOKE: Well, I -- I think they thought it was a clever image, and I think perhaps their reflexes don't kick in with somebody like Ted Cruz, like they would with a -- with a Hillary Clinton.

On the previous point, I think John made a great point, but on the specifics that has Obama has forwarded (ph) -- and I perhaps understand this more as somebody who used to be very anti-gun, who shared Obama's skepticism.

Obama said on the podcast, the Marc Maron podcast (INAUDIBLE) podcast the other day, that if we had passed sensible gun control two years ago, then we don't know what would have happened in Charleston.

I think it's worth saying for the record that that's not true. If you look at the three things Obama wanted to push, they were a so-called assault weapons ban. They were limits on the size of magazines, and they were background checks on all sales, private and public.

WEBB: They don't apply to this...


COOKE: It's not just that I'm saying they don't work, although I think they don't. They don't intersect. As you say, he used a .45-caliber handgun. He reloaded five times. He seems to have had a standard magazine in it. He passed a background check. There was a report going around earlier that he had maybe got it from his father. But he would have been exempted from Obama's common sense law even if that were true.

Obama is unfortunately not leveling with the public.

WEBB: Well, we will level with the public here on "Hannity." John, thank you. Charles, thank you.

Coming up tonight...


ALANA SIMMONS, GRANDDAUGHTER OF CHARLESTON VICTIM: Just the love of all of the families for the victims was so overwhelming that it outweighed the hate that he had for them.


WEBB: The granddaughter and widow of one of the victims in the Charleston church shooting right here on "Hannity" to talk about how their community, their family is dealing with the tragedy.

And later, Dr. Keith Ablow -- he reacts to Dylann Roof's former stepmother saying he was radicalized by the, quote, "evil Internet."

That and more as "Hannity" continues.


WEBB: And welcome back to "Hannity." As the Emmanuel AME church in Charleston continues to recover after last week's tragic shooting, the outpouring of love and the outpouring of support from across the country has been a source of healing for the families of the victims.

Alana Simmons, granddaughter of Reverend Daniel Simmons, who was killed in the attack, talked about coping with this tragedy in an emotional interview yesterday. Take a look.


ALANA SIMMONS, GRANDDAUGHTER OF VICTIM: We just want to focus on our grandfather and the other victims and making sure that the communities and the families heal.

Charleston has been a great example to the rest of the country, as well. We just really, really appreciate how everyone has come together, and like, people of all races, all religions, genders, orientations.

At the prayer vigil we went to Friday night, everyone was there, and it was just so overwhelming and just so wonderful to see everyone coming together not to bash or to talk about the suspect but to celebrate the lives and to heal together.


WEBB: Joining me now are members of Reverend Daniel Simmons's family, granddaughter Alana Simmons and his widow, Annie Simmons. Welcome to the both of you.

As I look at that picture of you and your family, I see a beautiful, loving family. No one can imagine the tragedy. But you're strong and your statements, Alana -- just unbelievable. First to you, Alana. How do you - - how are you doing now and how do you feel?

ALANA SIMMONS: I'm doing remarkably well. Actually, I've had a lot of support from the community, from family, from friends. I would like to say myself and my entire family, we're doing remarkably well, thanks to everyone's outpour of love.

WEBB: I can't imagine losing a husband, losing your mate. When you look at the community around you, what do you hear? What do you feel? How does their support come through to you?

ANNIE SIMMONS, WIDOW: For the past few days, since this incident happened, it has been an outpouring of support from the community, the church community, the corporate world community, and many friends. And I really feel very strong, very grateful, and I'm thankful. And I'd like to say at this time I send a heartfelt thanks to everyone for their great support and outpouring of love.

WEBB: When the two of you and your family members are together -- and, again, you know, not being there, the country looks, but they see the images -- how do you take the discussion beyond what just happened? What else do you talk about?

ALANA SIMMONS: Well, we talk -- well, we pray. Before we discuss anything, we have family prayer.


ALANA SIMMONS: My grandfather was big on that. Whenever we went anywhere, before we went anywhere, before we ate, before we did anything as a unit, we always had a prayer.

And before we started with interviews and speaking to the nation about our grandfather, we had a prayer and a discussion open floor. And we just decided, like, this is what we're going to do. We're going to honor our grandfather as he would have had it if he were still here.

We're going to talk about the things that he loved. We're going to talk about loving each other. We're going to talk about making sure that we, as well as the other victims, heal from this tragedy.

WEBB: Mrs. Simmons, when you interact with the younger members of your family, maybe those that don't understand quite as well as a parent or as a grandparent, how do you speak with them?

ANNIE SIMMONS: As my granddaughter mentioned, prayer is a part of our family. Before we begin our day in the morning, we pray. This is where we gain our strength from because we look to the Lord. When I communicate with the grandchildren, it's always love. We do things together. We enjoy each other, and we have a great time.

ALANA SIMMONS: And to piggyback on that, my mother came up with this quote that she got it from my uncle.


ALANA SIMMONS: And it said that -- when we were talking about how, you know, could God allow something like this to happen in his own house, she said that she heard this quote somewhere that said that God allows what he hates, to accomplish what he loves. And that's -- we've seen that here in Charleston.

To be honest, on my way here, we were nervous. We didn't know what the city was...


ALANA SIMMONS: ... going to be like when we got here, considering the circumstances of what had just occurred. But when we got here, it was just an overwhelming, calming peace. And we just can't say how much we appreciate the love and the support from everyone.

WEBB: Well, I can say this, that you two actually help lift my spirits. Hearing you talk, seeing the love between your families -- you're so well-spoken, Alana, you've got a bright future ahead of you.


WEBB: And Annie, just amazing. This is -- this shows family how it works great as a unit.


WEBB: You're both a great example. Thank you.



WEBB: And joining me with reaction, "Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt. Ainsley, I mean, really, what I -- the picture that I saw of them, you know, body language -- you kind of look at it and you see a family that's supporting each other, kind of leaning on each other, close together, a very well-spoken young lady, well-spoken parent.

AINSLEY EARHARDT, CO-HOST, "FOX & FRIENDS FIRST": Imagine that times nine. That's how every family member was. Everyone that we talked to that goes to that church, it was remarkable how these victims handled the situation.

You heard them all speaking in the courtroom, which is very rare for a judge to even allow that. So the family members that we were talking with and their friends were saying they were so grateful that the judge allowed that because it was a chance for them to share their faith, just like the Simmons family just did, to tell the rest of the world that their loved ones did not die in vain. There is a purpose in this, and they feel like God is in this. They don't understand necessarily. They're definitely going to miss their loved ones. But they trust them enough to know there is good that's going to come out of this evil.

WEBB: You're from the Palmetto state. I have relatives down there and friends that I've known for many years. And it's something about that community. I've been to Charleston. This is one of the world's top tourist destinations. That's Conde Nast. That's how they rate them. But it's also got a very communal feel to it. Being a native, being a local, what was it like for you?

EARHARDT: First of all, you understand why people want to visit Charleston. You understand why so many people are moving there and the real estate market is booming in Charleston, because not only is the cost of living better than it is in the northeast. The community --

WEBB: The quality of living.

EARHARDT: The quality of people, it's amazing. Everyone goes to church on Sunday mornings. And I'm not saying -- I'm not being preachy and you have to be in church. But we all grew up like that with a value system, to love one another, to look at everyone as God's child. And yes, there is racism in this world, but we were taught not to focus on that but to change the next generation. And that's what I'm getting from Alana.

WEBB: There is a next generation coming from that young lady.

EARHARDT: Exactly. What she said tonight, many people will ask that don't have faith why does God allow bad things to happen to good people.  And exactly what they said -- I wrote it down so I can put this in my notes because I'm going to share this with people when they ask me that question.  God allows what he hates sometimes to accomplish what he loves. And I think that's the message that Charlestonians are feeling throughout this.  I was so proud to be from South Carolina, because of the way they handled the situation.

WEBB: Ainsley Earhardt, "Fox & Friends" co-host.

Coming up, the former stepmother of the alleged Charleston church shooter says he was radicalized by what he read on the Internet. Dr. Keith Ablow will be here next with his reaction.

And later tonight.


CHUCK TODD, NBC HOST: I'm proud how the network dealt with this, took it seriously, took issues of credibility and integrity seriously, and made Brian pay a heavy price.


WEBB: NBC's Chuck Todd speaking out in support of Brian Williams.  We'll have reaction to his comments as HANNITY continues.


KELLY WRIGHT, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Live from America's News Headquarters, I'm Kelly Wright.

There's a growing movement underway to permanently lower the confederate flag from state government grounds. Just a short time ago Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn, a Republican, added his voice to that effort, calling the Confederate emblem offensive. South Carolina's Governor Nikki Haley and a number of state lawmakers from both parties agreed. Haley noted that the flag was used as a symbol of hatred by the man who allegedly gunned down nine people at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston last week.

The search for those two escaped killers in upstate New York is focused tonight in a remote area some 20 miles from the prison. Police have found evidence the escapees were in a nearby hunting cabin. Residents are urged to exercise extreme caution. Richard Matt and David Sweat have been on the run since June 6th.

That's a look at news. I'm Kelly Wright. Now back to "Hannity."

WEBB: Welcome back to HANNITY. The woman who was married to Dylann Roof's father for more than a decade, helped raise the alleged mass shooter, is speaking out tonight about what have caused him to commit this horrific act. Dylann Roof's former stepmother told the "New York Daily News" he was a loner who was radicalized by what he found on the Internet.

Joining me now with reaction, Dr. Keith Ablow from our FOX News Medical A-Team. Dr. Ablow, just -- I find the statement, I don't want to say ignorant, but a little bit aloof from the situation to blame it automatically on the internet.

DR. KEITH ABLOW, FOX NEWS MEDICAL A-TEAM: Yes. I think it's a little bit pat. You know, it depends who is receiving that information. So, you know, most of us, gratefully, can receive lots of information, some of it very dark, but not act out, not become violent. I think in this case there were lots of signs that Dylann Roof was compromised psychologically. And unfortunately nobody got him the help he needed in order to not become violent. And that help could have been delivered.

WEBB: Let's go to the broken family that we have here. I don't say you blame it on that, but look at what's happened. His friends knew about this. They were, I guess, on Facebook. We have a kid who has failed ninth grade twice according to some reports. So he drops out of school. You know, when that all breaks down, is it easier to then fall into other messages?

ABLOW: Well, I think it is. You know, people saying you got to control guns. No. You've got to respond to mental illness and recognize it where it exists. I don't know the ins and outs of this young man's psychiatric history, but we do know, as you've said, that he failed ninth grade twice, that he was sometimes largely confined to his room, that he hadn't gotten a driver's license according to his uncle at age 19. So this isolative nature and the fact that he then tells people in sort of a brazen way, hey, I want to start a race war.

Well, listen, there are many mental illnesses that can leave people to feel aggrieved as if everyone is against them and if they have great challenges that are completely delusional in the world, and yet the psychiatric illness can propel that thought. It was --

WEBB: Is it psychiatric illness? We don't know for sure.

ABLOW: We don't know for sure.

WEBB: It could be such an evil kid. I mean, he's 21. He's a man.  At 21 you're a man. Maybe you're not fully developed and not as old as us two guys here with more experience. But let's face it. We can't ignore that he could be also someone who is just bad.

ABLOW: Well, you know what, we could debate a long time, David, how much evil is illness mask masquerading as that evil, because here we have got somebody who people describe as abusing more than one drug, sleeping in his car. A friend took away his gun from him at one point quite recently because he was too inebriated and intoxicated and talking nonsense. How does nobody call 911? How does nobody drive the kid to an ER for a psychiatric evaluation, which, by the way, could have triggered help, because a lot of people who are that tenuous will tell a mental health clinician, hey, yes, I intend to hurt people. Nobody got him that help because we have very outdated notions about what mentally ill people look like.

WEBB: So what do we do going forward? What is done out of this?  They always talk about the lessons that need to be learned, how we move forward, state centers, whether it's psychiatry. What else needs to be done?

ABLOW: Sure. Well, look, we need a public health information campaign to say if you have concern for somebody who seems as though they might become violent, don't think of them as bad, necessarily. Think of them as potentially ill.

WEBB: Don't we kind of have that, because we have if you see something, say something. It's part of kind of the American existence.  But it doesn't seem to translate to someone you might know who may be going bad or has gone bad.

ABLOW: It doesn't seem to, David. People don't even know they're supposed to bring folks to ERs or call 911 in circumstances like this. And then you have the president of the United States saying it's really about the firearms. What? It's not about the firearms. Listen, if you want to be a serious person and a real leader, deal with the fact that our psychiatric and mental health systems have broken down and become a sham, an embarrassment in this country. Instead, what does he want to do?  Disempower people, collect their firearms. How about empowering people by getting them well?

WEBB: I get a little sick of this blame the device. A gun never picked itself up and shot anybody. This is really about the person.

You can read Dr. Ablow's op-ed on our website. Just go to

All right, coming up.


TODD: I'm proud how the network dealt with this, took it seriously, took issues of credibility and integrity seriously, and made Brian pay a heavy price.


WEBB: We'll have reaction to Chuck Todd's comments about Brian Williams heading to MSNBC. Stay with us.


WEBB: Welcome back to "Hannity." NBC News's Chuck Todd showering praise on how his network handled the Brian Williams crisis. Watch this.


TODD: I'm proud how the network dealt with this, took it seriously, took issues of credibility and integrity seriously, and made Brian pay a heavy price. And I also am glad to work for a company that provides an opportunity to earn back trust and earn back a second chance.


WEBB: Joining me now for reaction, author of the new book "Television is the New Television, The Unexpected Triumph of Old Media in the Digital Age," Michael Wolff. Welcome.


WEBB: Talking about something that has been going on for 50 or so years in this country, the modern age of television, trustworthiness with our anchors, Chuck Todd, the Brian Williams controversy. Here he is telling the story initially of the helicopter and how he was shot at in -- on the nightly news.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, FORMER NBC ANCHOR: The story actually started with a terrible moment a dozen years back during the invasion of Iraq when the helicopter we were traveling in was forced down after being hit by an RPG.  Our traveling NBC News team was rescued, surrounded, and kept alive by an armored mechanized platoon from the U.S. army third infantry.


WEBB: A lot of controversy comes out of that. Television, where are we now? What about NBC's Chuck Todd?

WOLFF: You know, I think Chuck Todd is not only completely wrong, I think he's delivering the line he was told to deliver. And it's a line -- speaking of trustworthiness -- that no one at the network believes.  Everyone at NBC believes they messed this up, that it was a kind of ultimate case botched crisis management. Sure, did Brian Williams exaggerate? Did he tell stories? Absolutely. But there is a sense of proportion that got way out of control here. And the network -- the network was not able to control its own fate, its own destiny, and kind of sort of let Brian twist in the wind.

WEBB: Let's go to this next cut, and this is Brian Williams, again, cut -- let's just listen to him on letterman.


WILLIAMS: Two of our four helicopters were hit by ground fire including the one I was in.


WILLIAMS: RPG and AK-47. So we got hit, we set down, everyone was OK. Our captain took a Purple Heart injury to his ear in the cockpit, but we were alone.


WEBB: Here's where I look at this. None of us work in the vacuum.  You're an expert on media. We don't work in a vacuum. Producers know.  Other people know. You say NBC is putting the line out, Chuck Todd is putting that line out, but didn't someone at the network know likely what was going on?

WOLFF: You mean, did they know what was going on with --

WEBB: With Brian Williams and his story?

WOLFF: Probably not. I don't think anyone really focused on it. I don't think anyone really knew what was happening. I don't think that it crossed anyone's mind, least of all Brian's mind, that he was setting out to tell a concerted lie here. I think it's -- listen, it's unfortunate that it happened. It shouldn't have happened. But does it bring the world crashing down around us that it did happen? No. I think it only does to a certain kind of heated group in the media, the journalism with a capital J crowd.

WEBB: I'm an old school journalist. Let's call it integrity matters.  New Orleans, Brian Williams talking about a dead body. Watch this.


WILLIAMS: When you look out of your hotel room window in the French quarter and watch a man float by facedown, when you see bodies that you last saw in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, and swore you would never see in your country --         I accidentally ingested some of the floodwater. I became very sick with dysentery. Our hotel was overrun with gangs. I was rescued in the stair well of a five-star hotel in New Orleans.


WEBB: Television is the new television, integrity matters today.  This is your book. Does that do a disservice to television?

WOLFF: Actually, I don't think it does. I think television is healthier than it has ever been. I think more people are watching it. I think if -- actually if you want to know stories of what is new -- of what's -- of not being sure of what's true and what is -- and why something is being said, then that's digital media. Otherwise, I think television is -- I think it's a remarkable business. And, you know, basically it is -- we do -- we do each other proud on this.

WEBB: All right, just 30 seconds left. What will the reader get from your new book, "Television is the New Television, The Unexpected Triumph of Old Media in the New Age"?

WOLFF: You know, we've had a -- many years of hearing that the Internet is going to take us all, it's going to be everything. And the truth is, it's not. That television is what we do, what we watch, what we -- the business that we want to be in.

WEBB: Michael Wolff, "Television is the New Television." Thank you.  I'll be putting this in my reading shelf.

More "Hannity" after the break. Stay with us.


HANNITY: Welcome back to "Hannity." Before we go, a quick reminder, don't forget to set your DVR for 10:00 p.m. eastern so you never miss an episode of "Hannity."

That's unfortunately all the time we have left. We hope to see you back here tomorrow. Have a great night.

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