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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

MERLE HAGGARD

Aired July 30, 2003 - 19:47   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: During the Vietnam war Country Western singer Merle Haggard song took anti-war protester to task. Now about 30 years later he has a new song "that's the news" still supporting troops but this time he's taking politicians to task along with the media. Merle haggard joins tonight. Thank you for being with us. Good to talk to you.
What's your beef with the media?

What is wrong with their coverage of, well, the coverage of the news?

MERLE HAGGARD, SINGER: No beef. I was doing an album and wrote a song about the news as it was that day, and I don't think there's any comparison to the Dixie Chicks. This has nothing to criticize anybody for. It's about the way you guys reported it. I put it to music.

COOPER: It's an interesting song. I haven't heard it. I've read the wording of it. I want to put some of it on the screen for our viewers because they probably haven't heard it yet either. "Suddenly celebrity is something back in style, back to running tabloids for a while. Pain's almost everywhere. The whole world's got the blues, suddenly the war's over that's the news."

Do you think media has forgotten the soldiers fighting in Iraq?

HAGGARD: I find some unconcern about, you know, when the president come over and said the most of it was done, and it was the statute toppled over and I'm sitting with a guitar and looked like the war was over to me and then we went to Modesto. You know, so...

COOPER: Do you think media's paying too much attention to crime stories like Laci Peterson, in Modesto, as you mentioned in the song?

HAGGARD: I don't know. I think when we've got people overseas in battle at 5:30 in the evening when people tune in to hear the news they're probably not interested in Kobe Bryant at that moment. And, you know, I have no -- you know, I support the president, I support the troops. In fact, the song, the biggest line in the song, is the soldier's pay the dues and the politicians do the talking and the soldiers pay the dues. That's just a matter of fact. It's always been that way. As far as the Dixie Chick goes, women have always been against war, I mean, so what's new? COOPER: But I mean, as you well know, they got a lot of criticism, mainly really from DJs at record stations. Was there any concern when you wrote this or now it's about to come out, are you concerned about how it may be interpreted by say country music DJs?

HAGGARD: I don't think it will be interpreted wrong. I think the song speaks for it itself. I think we should take a poll, you know, go to merlehaggard.com or amazon.com and buy a record and listen to it and see if it says anything that's against America. I'll eat the record if it does.

COOPER: Are you afraid some people may portray it that way?

HAGGARD: I don't think they will. I mean, the Dixie Chicks concert dates, the ticket sales are up. Only the records, you know, have been thrown off the air. So, maybe the media's the only ones that are mad at them. I hope they're not mad at me, because the media has been good to me.

All right. Well, Merle Haggard, appreciate you joining us. Good luck on the new record.

HAGGARD: Thank you.

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