MSNBC Tucker - Transcript
MR. SHUSTER: The Republican outcry is beginning to die down over that MoveOn ad, the one running in The New York Times that posed the question, "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?"
But there's a bigger question left unanswered, a question of hypocrisy when it comes to political attacks. Where was the outrage when Rush Limbaugh said this about Republican Senator Chuck Hagel over one of the senator's stances on Iraq? Limbaugh said, "By the way, we had a caller call, couldn't stay on the air, got a new name for Senator Hagel of Nebraska. We got General Petraeus and we got Senator 'Betray Us' -- new name for Senator Hagel.
Here to discuss all of this is Marsha Blackburn, a Republican congresswoman from Tennessee.
And Congresswoman, thanks for coming in.
REP. BLACKBURN: Good to be with you.
MR. SHUSTER: Do you want to take this opportunity to condemn what Rush Limbaugh said about Chuck Hagel?
REP. BLACKBURN: (Laughs.) You know, what I want to do is talk about The New York Times. And probably Rush Limbaugh could have gotten by without saying that, but he was referencing a call.
MR. SHUSTER: Couldn't have gotten by? It was wrong, wasn't it?
REP. BLACKBURN: He was referencing what a caller said, and --
MR. SHUSTER: Right. But it was wrong for a caller or for Rush Limbaugh to call Chuck Hagel "Senator Betray Us," right?
REP. BLACKBURN: But Rush Limbaugh did not go in and buy an ad and place it with The New York Times and get a special preferred rate and turn around --
MR. SHUSTER: So there's a difference between buying an ad in The New York Times and Rush Limbaugh hearing something that he likes to hear from one of his viewers and repeating it on the air? What's the distinction? Why is there a distinction?
REP. BLACKBURN: Rush Limbaugh should not have done that, but Rush Limbaugh did not go out and buy an ad and circumvent The New York Times. It takes two weeks for them to tell the truth on this, and we find out that they did get a favored rate, that they did choose --
MR. SHUSTER: Yeah, but they didn't know they got a favored rate. As soon as they found out they got a favored rate, they wrote a check to The New York Times.
REP. BLACKBURN: Oh, yeah, yeah. I don't believe that. I think that they did --
MR. SHUSTER: Hey, look, I understand, Congresswoman -- I understand that this is an issue -- you're very concerned, of course, about the MoveOn ad. Is that right?
REP. BLACKBURN: Everybody is concerned about the MoveOn ad and everybody is concerned about what seems to be the violation of the public trust by The New York Times. Look, we all know that their circulation is down, that their stock is down, that they -- I think it was last year -- fired 500 people. Everyone is aware of that. But, my goodness, to find out now that they are fire-selling their ad space --
MR. SHUSTER: Congresswoman, let's talk about the public trust.
REP. BLACKBURN: Yeah.
MR. SHUSTER: You represent, of course, a district in western Tennessee. What was the name of the last soldier from your district who was killed in Iraq?
REP. BLACKBURN: The name of the last soldier killed in Iraq from my district -- I do not know that.
MR. SHUSTER: Okay, his name was Jeremy Bohannon. He was killed August the 9th, 2007. How come you didn't know the name?
REP. BLACKBURN: You know, I do not know why I did not know the name. We make contact with the families that are in our district. And when you have a major military post, you are very sensitive to this and sensitive to working with those families. And that is something that my staff and I do daily. Our district director is a gentleman who has served in the U.S. Army and currently serves in the National Guard. And we do everything that we possibly can do to assist those families. We are very appreciative of the sacrifices --
MR. SHUSTER: But you weren't appreciative enough to know the name of this young man -- he was 18 years old -- who was killed. And yet you can say chapter and verse about what's going on with The New York Times and MoveOn.org.
REP. BLACKBURN: You're exactly right. I can say chapter and verse what is going on with The New York Times.
MR. SHUSTER: But don't you understand the problems that a lot of people would have that you're so focused on an ad? When was the last time a New York Times ad ever killed somebody? And yet here we have a war that took the life of an 18-year-old kid, Jeremy Bohannon from your district, and you didn't know his name?
REP. BLACKBURN: Well, and we work very closely, as I said, with those families. We work very closely with every one of our military members. We've worked closely with Fort Campbell, because most of Fort Campbell, Kentucky actually sits in Montgomery County, Tennessee. And that is a priority with us, how we work with them, how we reach out to those families, how we stay in touch with those that are being deployed, working with the leadership teams making certain that the community is involved with helping to care for those families --
MR. SHUSTER: I know that after General Petraeus --
REP. BLACKBURN: -- and our National Guard families as they are deployed, staying in close touch with those that -- some of those that have -- not only from our district, but from Tennessee -- who have suffered injuries.
MR. SHUSTER: I know that after General Petraeus testified, you said that there has been an opportunity created for progress at the local level, local political progress. Have you been to Iraq recently?
REP. BLACKBURN: I have been -- not been to Iraq in the past 12 months. My last trip into Iraq --
MR. SHUSTER: Okay, so just based on General Petraeus, that's how you can say that there is political progress --
REP. BLACKBURN: No, no, no, no.
MR. SHUSTER: -- being made in Iraq?
REP. BLACKBURN: I stay in touch with those that are deployed. As a matter of fact, I e-mailed last night with a constituent of mine who is a chaplain in Iraq. And we have been working getting some supplies, some items that he needed --
MR. SHUSTER: Well, what contact has the chaplain had with local Iraqi political leaders?
REP. BLACKBURN: He is in touch with them on a regular basis. I e-mail with soldiers, different soldiers from my district who are deployed. I e-mail with their families and stay in close touch with them. I go and visit with their families and hear from them first- hand what is going on. This is not just a once every once in a while you go to Afghanistan or you go to Iraq or every once in a while you go to a military post to visit. What you do is stay in touch with them on a constant, ongoing basis.
MR. SHUSTER: I agree, Congresswoman Blackburn, you do stay in touch with these military families. But again, I still think it's a little bit surprising that you didn't know the name of this last soldier killed in Iraq, who was only 18 years old, and yet you know so much about the MoveOn.org ad and the tactics that you don't like.
But in any case, Congresswoman Blackburn, we appreciate you coming in today, congresswoman from western Tennessee.