updated 12/20/2005 2:46:15 PM ET 2005-12-20T19:46:15

Guests: Mike Torres, Mary Schaivo, Richard Schapiro, Andrew Siff, Casey Jordan, Bobby Goldstein, Sandra Hope, Mary Schaivo, James Hirsen

CATHERINE CRIER, GUEST HOST:  Right now on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, breaking news, investigators in Miami are about to hold a press conference with the latest on the crash of a propeller driven seaplane that went down in flames this afternoon off the coast of Miami Beach with 20 people onboard.  Witnesses say the plane exploded in a massive fire ball as it went down and rescuers searched into the night to find any survivors.  Our latest information is that 19 bodies have been recovered.  We‘ve the very latest right now.

Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY and I‘m Catherine Crier in for Joe tonight.  And we‘re following breaking news out of Miami.  Right now, let‘s go to NBC‘s Mark Potter.  He is live at Miami Beach. 

Mark, night has fallen and I assume search efforts are off at this time.  Give us the latest. 

MARK POTTER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  No, the search is still underway; in fact, you can see the lights behind me, right there.  That is a command center that has been set up to monitor to those efforts.  You cannot see the boats out there in the crash site area, but they‘re there and they will likely be there through the night.  Those lights are just this side of where the crash occurred in a sea channel that‘s known here as Government Cut, a very well known area on the southern tip of Miami Beach. 

Now, Rita Cosby was talking just a moment ago about the news conference that‘s expected, indeed she‘s right, it is.  It‘s been delayed a little bit, though, by about a half hour.  It‘ll be conducted at 10:30 Eastern Time at the Miami Beach Coast Guard base and among those speaking will be the acting chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. 

Now, this crash occurred at about 2:30 Eastern Time, this afternoon.  Again in the area right behind me, there‘s a plane, a Grumman seaplane that was heading out of Miami, it was just taking off heading toward Bimini, the Bahamas, with 20 people onboard.  Eyewitnesses said that they saw the tail area on fire, others said that they saw the wing falling off, a big fireball.  Some people said that they heard a big explosion with all the people down here on Friday afternoon, on Miami Beach, there were a lot of people in the crash area.

CRIER:  All right Mark, let me ask the producer to put the picture back up.  While you were talking, there‘s a still photograph, really extraordinary picture, you see there, and that is taken from a cell phone of the crash and obviously this plane came down, people have talked about it exploding, the fireball, the fuselage falling into the water just behind the fireball.  Now, I understand that 19 of the 20 passengers and crew, the bodies have been recovered; you say the search efforts are still underway.  Do we have any information about the residents on the plane?  Most of these I understand were from Bimini, the island where the plane was departing to? 

POTTER:  No, I don‘t have that information here, that‘s still being sorted out.  What I do know is that indeed there were 20 people on the plane.  One person is still unaccounted for and so the search still does continue.  And again, we are seeing the boats out here right now.  Helicopters were coming by here a while ago, also looking.  So the search is still fully underway, but the next big step involves the federal investigators from the NTSB, the National Transportation Safety Board.  They‘re coming in the area, as I said earlier, the acting chairman is here now.  He‘ll be speaking momentarily about their plans for the investigation.  And the Coast Guard is very concerned there might be an environmental issue with oil and gasoline seeping from the plane into the ocean.  The shipping channel is closed, that‘s a concern; and they also have to eventually deal with the salvage issue, pulling this plane up.  But, of course, they‘re not even going to consider that until the federal investigators talk to them and tell them what they want to do.  It‘s a big mystery, really.  Lots of eyewitness accounts, but no answers. 

CRIER:  All right, well speaking of that, Mark if you‘ll standby.  A reminder, about 10:30 we expect a press conference on this, we‘re going to go straight to that conference.  In the meantime, let‘s check in with Mike Torres, and he‘s a security guard on Miami Beach, he saw the plane catch fire and go down this afternoon.

Mike, tell us what you saw. 

MIKE TORRES, WITNESSED PLANE CRASH:  Well, actually I returned from lunch break and was with my security manager.  We were looking in that direction when the plane appeared out of nowhere and was already descending.  The tail of the plane was already on fire with smoke coming out of the tail, and the plane went sideways where—that‘s when we noticed it was a seaplane, we were able to see the bottom of the plane.  I believe the pilot tried to straighten out the plane and at that point the left wing snapped off and all of a sudden, the plane engulfed in flames and after about another 50 yards, it just went straight down into the water, like a “L” shape. 

CRIER:  All right Mike, this was a pretty regular flight and people who saw it, you know, take off and begin its ascent hadn‘t noticed anything.  There‘s some discrepancy in the noise that they heard.  Did you hear something that sounded like an explosion or did it look like the plane was having some sort of trouble, the wing came off and then there was an explosion? 

POTTER:  Well, because of the building that‘s there on the property, you know, you can‘t see what‘s happening, what caused it.  But it was—when it appeared in our view, it was already on fire.  The tail was already on fire, like I said, the pilot looked like he tried to straighten out the plane.  I think he did a decent job trying to get to the water and at that point, the left wing snapped and that‘s probably what the people heard.  And all of a sudden, it was a small explosion where the entire plane was engulfed in flames. 

CRIER:  All right, let me go to Mary Schaivo, she‘s aviation attorney, expert for many, many years in this.  Mary, the information you‘ve got thus far, have you reached any preliminary conclusions? 

MARY SCHAIVO, AVIATION CRASH ATTORNEY:  Well, there are certainly areas of inquiry.  There have been a number of air worthiness (ph) directives on the engines on this plane for various things, including faulty repairs that could have affected all of the engines like this, and of course, one of the things that the investigation is certainly going to center on is the age of this airplane.  It is rare, very rare for an aircraft to lose a structural member in flight, here a wing.  Obviously, from the pictures I saw, it did looks like there was a fire before the wing snapped off and then the wing cane off in an even bigger explosion.  So, that would tend to suggest that you‘d already had something go wrong with an engine, uncontained engine failure, perhaps compromising the propeller.  There have been warnings on this engine and propeller for propeller separation, losing a propeller.  So, something could have gone wrong with the engine and then the—either the explosion on the engine or the stresses caused that wing to tear off.  That‘s going to be an issue about the integrity of that wing and what 50 years in saltwater operations has done. 

CRIER:  Yeah, this plane was built in ‘47, but I do note that there weren‘t any real problems about 1984.  Did it have a pretty clean record since then? 

SCHAIVO:  Well, it had a clean record, but in this country and certainly almost all developed nations, after a plane reaches 20 years old, just 20 years old, that used to be a useful life of an aircraft in this country.  The manufacturers now say a useful economic life, in other words it makes operational sense and financial sense to run it in scheduled operation, about 30 years.  And what happens after 20 is you go into an aging aircraft protocol.  Which means you need extensive checks, you have to increase some maintenance intervals, you have to watch it carefully.  The United States Coast Guard breaks down their planes every couple of year over saltwater operations, they‘re very careful.  So that‘s going to be an issue. 

CRIER:  Well, that makes sense.  All right, Mary, we‘ve got a sound bite here from a Miami Beach surfer who came very close to this crash.  Let‘s listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The plane came down on fire right over our heads.  And only—I mean really, really  close, too, only about 20, 30 feet over our heads in flames.  It already kind of—the wing was already kind of pushing it down.  It was definitely crashing and it went right over us.  We thought it was going to land right on top of us. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CRIER:  All right, Mary, and you know, people keep talking about the flames.  We heard flames from the tail end, we‘ve heard, you know, flames from the fuselage.  But all of this, in your opinion, sounds like something may have likely gone wrong with the engines? 

SCHAIVO:  Well, that‘s what it sounds like.  And, of course, the eyewitness are a far better account than me looking at the pictures that have been sent in.  But the pictures look like if you had some sort of an engine problem beforehand.  I noticed that someone had mentioned the fuselage on fire, but it did not look like that to me.  You could have problems with the fuel, you could have problems with hydraulics, you could have electrical problems.  But statistically, if you have a fire on the wing, you‘re looking at an engine problem or perhaps a propeller problem on a propeller aircraft.  That‘s what the statistics tell us are usually the likely cause. 

CRIER:  All right, you‘ve an organization that started in 1919.  This organization‘s history, although it‘s changed hands many times, this particular company seems to have done pretty well.  Is it that unusual, when you‘re talking about seaplanes, that basically are island hopping, to have a different sort of standard of inspection?  Have different longevity for their airplanes?  Is the situation with this company particularly unusual? 

SCHAIVO:  Well, no, I mean, you sometimes notice a lot of accidents or crashes with the largest carriers, because you remember, oh, you know, this carrier has had a number of crashes, because they have so many flights and so many planes.  And lots of small airlines can go pretty much unnoticed.  The inspectors are supposed to them—the FAA is supposed to treat them like a large carrier and they‘re supposed to receive regular inspections, they‘re supposed receive them at so many intervals.  But in this country, most of the inspections, people are surprised to learn this, aren‘t done by the FAA inspectors at all, they‘re done by designated inspectors.  And often that comes down to where you get your planes repaired where your planes are worked on, what repair station you use.  And in Miami, there are, obviously, great ones and there are obviously not great ones. 

When I was inspector general, we had a number of investigations for bad repair stations and in particular, bad parts in Miami.  And so that‘s probably going to be a focus, too.  Who was looking out for the planes.  The planes, according to their own Web site, had recently undergone some maintenance, some overhauls.  That‘s always a very significant item of interest for the NTSB.  Any recent maintenance is probably going to be suspect until they can clear it or find out what happened.  But they have obtained those records, they do that first, they just freeze the records and start combing through the paper. 

CRIER:  All right, let me go back to Mike Torres, the security guard there on Miami Beach. 

Mike, it seems like a lot of people saw this, 2:30 in the afternoon, sort of a populated area.  Tell us about the takeoff, the flight plan of the airplane, because it seems like there were people concerned about the plane literally landing on the beach area. 

TORRES:  Well yeah, I had a good view.  The building next to us is a 40-story building, so the plane was already less than half of the height of the building and already descending into the water.  And again, like I said earlier, it already had flames coming out the tail end and the pilot seemed like he was struggling with the plane to straighten it out.  I think he wanted to land in the water and whatever he did, the left wing snapped and that caused the whole plane to, you know, engulf in flames. 

CRIER:  All right, Mike Torres, thank you very much.  Mark Potter, Mary Schaivo, much appreciated.  We‘re going to take it a quick break.  We got a lot more to come tonight.  Don‘t go away. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CRIER:  Police say he pretended to be a fire man and sexually assaulted a woman for an entire night.  Now he‘s caught and back in New York and about to face justice.  We‘ll have the latest, live.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CRIER:  Welcome back, I‘m Catherine Crier sitting in for Joe tonight.  And now to the bizarre story of Peter Braunstein, he‘s the former fashion writer allegedly posing as a New York City firefighter when he used the disguise to get into a co-worker‘s apartment where he spent the next 13 hours abusing her.  After a long manhunt, police captured Braunstein, Friday, in Memphis where he then stabbed himself in the neck in an apparent suicide attempt.  Tonight, Braunstein is back in New York City facing charges and joining us live from the New York police station where Braunstein is headed is WNBC‘s Andrew Siff. 

Andrew, the very latest of this very, very bizarre story, the guy‘s been captured, but remind us of the crime of which he has been accused. 

ANDREW SIFF, WNBC REPORTER:  Well Catherine, no doubt, Peter Braunstein, one of the most wanted men in recent New York City history and that is saying something.  This all came about because of that Hollywood night attack.  The allegation is that he purchased a firefighter outfit on eBay, dressed up as a firefighter, set an actual fire in his stairwell in a Chelsea apartment building and then used that as a ruse to get his way into a 34-year-old woman‘s apartment. 

According to police, he knew the woman, was obsessed with her after having woked with her at a magazine.  Once inside her apartment, the attack went on for as long as 13 hours.  Now, once Braunstein was named as the prime suspect, he disappeared.  The NYPD formed a dragnet; they looked for him all over New York.  There were sightings in Brooklyn.  A couple of weeks later there were sightings in Ohio.  And of course, just couple of weeks ago, he was spotted in Memphis having allegedly sold his blood at a blood bank for $20 or $30.  And then on Friday, a student at the University of Memphis spotted Braunstein, campus police were alerted.  They found him, approached him, and according to police, he pulled a knife, stabbed himself in the neck and after spending the weekend in Memphis and waiving extradition, he‘s on his way back to the special victims unit here in New York.  In fact, we expect him at this precinct any minute. 

CRIER:  Well, this is they guy who worked for “Women‘s Wear Daily,” you said fashion writer or sort, he wrote a play that actually got produced, he was often in Cleveland, I think telling people he was a producer for “Nip Tuck,” various encounters coming close to police on several occasions, flamboyant flagrant behavior.  Have we heard anything about this guy‘s mental state? 

SIFF:  Well, we haven‘t, other than that a couple of print reporters who made it into the jail in Memphis, went up to him and said, “Hello Mr.  Braunstein” and he, according to these reporters said “Hey!” and seemed optimistic and excited to see him.  And so that‘s one aspect of his mental state.  We know that the Memphis prosecutor said he was very calm and relaxed in the courtroom today when he waived extradition proceedings.  Also, we know his father, who hasn‘t seen him in three years, described Peter Braunstein as a genius who always plotted something like this and now has seen this plot, if you will, come to fruition, and he‘s achieved a lot of notoriety from this attack—from this alleged attack. 

CRIER:  All right, well let me bring in now Richard Schapiro.  Now Richard is the reporter from the daily—the “New York Daily News” he had a jailhouse encounter with Braunstein.  And by the way, he just flew in from Memphis to New York on the same plane, just a few seats away, and he joins us on the phone. 

Rich, you saw the suspect being transported back to the city.  What‘d you witness? 

RICHARD SCHAPIRO, “NEW York DAILY NEWS” REPORTER:  Mr. Braunstein, he was sitting in the back of the plane, he was looking out the window as the plane was arriving at New York Airport.  It appears that he saw the waiting police cars, the lights were blaring, and when he saw them, it appeared that he actually said something to the detectives, they were sitting beside him, I couldn‘t quite hear exactly what he said to them.  And then I was showed out of the plane as Braunstein was led to the tarmac into the waiting police cars, and that was the last I seen him.  Apparently, he is heading to the precinct on the upper east side. 

CRIER:  Well, I wonder if he was enamored with the police cars as he seemed to be when you encountered him the Memphis jail.  Tell us about that.

SCHAPIRO:  The—yeah, the encounter in Memphis (INAUDIBLE), he was being led out with his handcuffs, head down.  He looked up and he saw his father.  I was actually inside the jail with his father.  My colleague, Michelle Gobashi (ph), was there as well.  He looks up, locks eyes with his father, turns towards the marshals that were standing next to him and said, “I don‘t want to see him.”  He then turns, starts walking out, at which point, myself and my colleague, Michelle Gobashi (ph), stepped towards the window, identified ourselves as “Daily News” reporters.  He says, “Hey, man!” I say to him, “So Peter, how are you doing?”  He replied, “I‘m good.”  And as he did, his face came to live.  I mean, after seeing his father, his head was down, he looked dejected, he looked fairly out of it.  Once he heard we were reporters, he sprung to life.  It was really quite extraordinary. 

CRIER:  Well, I had a chance to talk to Tamara, I understand that he also sort of leaned his head back, showing off the slash, I understand it‘s like a three-inch slash where he inflicted the wound with his own knife and his stitches.  Seemed to be pretty proud of himself. 

SCHAPIRO:  Yeah.  I mean, after about 45 seconds where my colleague, Michelle Gobashi (ph), was firing questions off, he then, he cocks his head back at one point, he says, “I‘m feeling a bit out of it” and he says, “it was like Edward Scissorhands.”  And him saying that was quite extraordinary.  I was talking to my colleague, Michelle Gobashi (ph), afterwards and it was as if someone else had done it to him, the way he said it.  It was like, look at what happened to me. 

CRIER:  Tell me something, before I go to our criminologist who‘s with us.  You‘ve really checked around about this guy.  When I was asking about his mental state a few moments ago, with Andrew, I was thinking back on some of the interviews with people like the bar owner in Cleveland, others who really illuminated the fact that this guy says he talked to god, he portrayed himself as all these different characters, seems to have kind of grandiose sense of self.  What have you learned? 

SCHAPIRO:  To tell you the truth, I‘m fascinated with his ability to tell lies within lies, on top of lies.  It seems like, no doubt he‘s quite an intellectual just the way he can carry these stories, but.

(CROSSTALK)

CRIES:  OK everybody, I want you to note—excuse me to interrupt.  Here we‘ve got Braunstein, he‘s being brought in to this New York City police precinct.  He has just gotten off the plane, been driven into the city.  This guy, they‘ve been looking for now for a couple of months, as we said, one of the most wanted men coming out of New York City.  He has traversed the country, a good portion of the Eastern and Midwestern part of this country.  Cops have been looking for him everywhere, going to be arraigned on kidnapping, sexual assault, other charges.  Rich, at this point in time, do we know to what to expect with his criminal proceedings? 

SCHAPIRO:  At this point, he‘s in the hands of the NYPD and, from I‘m seeing (ph), he‘s going to be facing some pretty stiff charges.  And to tell you the truth, it seemed yesterday, just given his spirit that he didn‘t really know, I think, what he was in for.  And I think when he really finds out or really starts considering it, he‘s going to have a lot on his mind. 

CRIES:  Yeah, I think he‘s better wipe that smile off his face.  Let me turn now to criminologist Dr. Casey Jordan. 

Casey, you and I have spoken about the case.  The guy was found with a laptop, he had a diary, he had videos, he had a video camera.  He really was recording what he must be perceiving as the finer moments of his life.  What do you think about this guy?

DR. CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST:  Well, it really is fitting with everything that we‘ve seen from him and heard about him since the Halloween day attack.  He, in his mental state is certainly an intelligent man, but he appears to be acting out his own 15 minutes of fame, where he has so immersed himself in fantasy, that he pretty much views himself, it would appear, as almost an actor in a movie, removed a bit from reality—untouchable to others.  And even at the moment of his apprehension, continuing to try to bask in the limelight by pulling another attention seeking stunt, stabbing himself in the neck and announcing he‘s the guy they‘re looking for from New York.  And of course shunning his own father and talking to the reporters instead.  That is really very telling about where his brain is.  He would much rather have media attention than have the love of his family at this stage of his life. 

CRIER:  Well, let‘s remind viewers, or catch those up who might not have heard this portion of the story, but he has a half brother that happens to be, you know, the same father, but the mothers are sisters.  They were told for years they were cousins.  His own mother, when he was still on the lamb, said I hope he commits suicide while he‘s out there because jail might be intolerable for him.  Hasn‘t seen his father in three years and as you said, shunned him.  Does this sound like sort of a psychiatric defense in the making? 

JORDAN:  Well, it certainly sounds like a person with a long history of mental disturbance.  And we‘re not going to try to diagnose him here without actually having run test and spoken to him.  He is certainly going to try, I‘m sure, if he gets a good defense attorney, to argue that his mens rea or his intent was diminished, but he in no way can approach passing the test for insanity in the state of New York, because he clearly knows the difference between right and wrong, he knows what he did was wrong because he fled.  And he went to great pains to stay on the lamb for than a month, almost two months.  And while he did make sure that he had a great theatrical and dramatic turn in with the police and stabbed himself in the neck, and immediately talked to reporters, everything that he has written in his journal and whatever is on those videotapes that they found in his knapsack is going to be evidence.  I‘m quite sure it‘s going to send him to jail and not to a psychiatric institute. 

CRIEF:  Yeah, his life produced will end up as evidence in court.  Dr.  Casey Jordan and Richard Schapiro, thank you very much and out thanks to Andrew Siff.

Now we‘re just minutes away from a news conference from Miami on the crash of that plain off Miami Beach.  It‘s supposed to happen just any moment and we‘ll have the very latest.  Plus a reality TV show in hot water tonight.  Did they go too far in the name of entertainment?  Why indictments have been handed down. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(INAUDIBLE) gone wild, a crew from a reality TV show are under indictment because of what happened in this scent.  The man behind the show is here to tell us what happened.

CRIER:  Bur first, here‘s the latest from NBC world headquarters.

(NEWSBREAK)

CRIER:  Welcome back to “Scarborough Country.”  I‘m Catherine Crier in for Joe tonight.  And we‘re standing by for that live press conference on the plane crash off Miami Beach today.  We‘ll get there as soon as it happens.

But first, some have called it a cross between “Jerry Springer” and “Cops.”   Basically, if you think your mate is cheating on you and you want to bust him or her on national television, the TV show called “Cheaters” will gladly help you out by exposing your cheating mate.

But now, four “Cheaters” employees, including the host, Joey Grecko,” (ph) have been indicted in Texas on charges related to a fight, caught on film between a women and her estranged husband, over her relationship with a Fort Worth police captain.

               

Bobby Goldstein, the creator and executive producer of “Cheaters” joins us live from Dallas.  And Private Investigator Sandra Hope joins form Phoenix.

OK, Bobby, give us the very, very edited version of the story.  You‘d caught this woman in a car with the cop and then, basically what did you do, bring her husband to some gym where she was working out to set up the confrontation?

BOBBY GOLDSTEIN, CREATOR AND EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, “CHEATERS” TV SHOW: 

As part of our protocol, we did bring the husband, the complainant, to the gym where the wife was presumably with another fellow, and a confrontation took place.  And from then on, of course, we have a police investigation, because it involved a Fort Worth Police Department personnel.  

CRIER:  But I understand you brought this guy over there knowing that he was charged with two counts of assault and under a protective order not to go near her.  Why would you take him to that site given those circumstances? 

GOLDSTEIN:  Well, with all due regard, we did not know that he was under any protective order or restraining order.  Had we known that, of course, we probably would not have gone to this confrontation. 

CRIER:  All right, when the woman came out, and please correct me if I‘m wrong, I wasn‘t there.  I understand that she tried to go back into the gym and your security guards, who were accompanying you for the shoot, basically prevented her.  And cops are now saying that is when one of them tripped her or some sort of altercation between this woman and your guys took place. 

GOLDSTEIN:  Well, cops say, but we disagree.   There is no assault; there‘s no touching other than that which was incidental.   You would have had more touching in a mall or a crowded area.  And there are plenty of other ways to get inside the building.  

CRIER:  OK, Bobby, I have to ask you to hold on just a second because the NTSB, the National Transportation Safety Board, is speaking now in Miami.  Let‘s listen.

MARK ROSENKER, ACTING CHAIR, NTSB:  In addition to that, I‘d like to thank the United States Coast Guard and all of the local first responders that came to the aid of those that were on this aircraft.  I think it‘s a good example of state, federal and local officials all working together to try to save lives and to understand what happened here today.

The team that we brought in just arrived from Washington, D.C., a team of 13 people.  Two more are on their way from Washington on commercial flights.  We had two already here from our Miami office, and two more field investigators coming from two other field offices in the United States.

We are going to meet with the local authorities, and in particular, the United States Coast Guard and the salvage team in working to raise the aircraft tomorrow morning to begin the investigation on the aircraft itself.

The team that we brought with us today includes experts in operations, systems, power plants, structures, human performance, survival factors and transportation disaster assistance.

I‘d also like to introduce my colleague, Bill English, who is the investigator in charge from Washington.   He will lead the technical investigation.

Tomorrow, we will begin the process of gathering records, maintenance records, flight records on the accident aircraft and the operator.  We will also be attempting to retrieve the cockpit voice recorder and get it back to Washington for a reading.

I‘d also like to make sure that you know we will be holding periodic briefings to update you on what has happened, what we are doing and what we have learned in the process of investigating this accident.

And finally, we have a telephone number.  And I would ask that you could help us in sharing this telephone number to the people in the Miami area.   Anyone who could help us as a witness, who might have still photographs or video, would be extremely helpful in our investigation.

Let me give you this telephone number.  It is area code 305-597-4613, extension 13.   Let me give it to you again, area code 305-597-4613, extension 13.  And please leave a message on how we can get in touch with you and what information you might have to help the National Transportation Safety Board in this investigation.

I will be able to take a few questions and then, tomorrow, as we continue through the process of this investigation, be able to give you a more full briefing on where we are.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER:  Are you certain there‘s going to be 19 investigators?

ROSENKER:  We‘ve got more than 19 investigators, but each in different aspects of this investigation.  We even have four support investigators in Washington that will be looking at our weather conditions and some other areas. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER:  What kind of data recording are looking for in this plane crash?

ROSENKER:  In this case, we are looking for a cockpit voice recorder.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER:  That‘s all?

ROSENKER:  That‘s all in this case.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER:  What do we know about this plane? Do we know how old it is?  Do you know...

ROSENKER:  Right now, I can tell you that it was built in 1947.  It is 58 years old.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER:  It‘s going to be a (inaudible)... 

ROSENKER:  We‘ll be looking at everything in this investigation. 

Nothing is off the table.  

ENGLISH, UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER:  While you investigate, will the Chalk be permitted to fly their other planes? 

ROSENKER:  There‘s no reason, Mr. English. 

ENGLISH:  That will be a decision by Chalk and the FAA? 

ROSENKER:  Exactly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER:  There‘s a video where part of the airplane didn‘t come out, have you been able to determine the cause of the plane crash? (ph) 

ROSENKER:  We have a copy of the security video.   We are examining that right now.  We may have to do some significant enhancement to learn even more.   But clearly, it is going to be a helpful bit of information as part of this investigation.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER:  Where is the security video come from?

ROSENKER:  The United States Coast Guard. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER:  And sir, can you tell us where did the flight originate from? 

ROSENKER:  It came from Watson Island.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER:  Doesn‘t Chalk‘s fly out of Fort Lauderdale.  Isn‘t their hub in Fort Lauderdale? 

ROSENKER:  In this particular case, I believe it left from Watson Island. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER:  OK.

ROSENKER:  It was on its way to the Bahamas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER:  Do you have any information that it originated in Fort Lauderdale and stopped at Watson Island? 

ROSENKER:  I can‘t answer you that at this time.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER:  How unusual is it, in your experience, for a plane from 1937 to still be flying commercial with travelers?  (ph)

ROSENKER:  Not unusual at all.   There are a number of these types of aircraft.  There are actually older aircraft that are flying as well, not necessarily this type of aircraft, but older aircraft.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER:  Do we know anything at this point about... 

(CROSSTALK)

ROSENKER:  Let me one at a time, please.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER:  Do we know anything at this point about the flight records of this plane?  I know you‘re going to look at that. 

ROSENKER:  We‘re gathering that right now.  So unfortunately, I don‘t have any information on that. 

UNIDENTIFIED NTSB AGENT:  Just one or two more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER:  Aren‘t these flights required to always put out a flight plan or not?

ROSENKER:  In this case, it would probably have a flight plan. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER:  So, this one did not have one from what we understand.

UNIDENTIFIED NTSB AGENT:  We‘re checking that.  We‘re checking that.

ROSENKER:  We‘ll be looking...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER:  The next question...

ROSENKER:  We‘ll be looking and checking to see where we are in the flight plan and all the additional records that are part of this flight, as well as all of the maintenance records and operating records of the company itself.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER:  But this would have required a flight plan?

ROSENKER:  Yes, sir.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER:  Were the bodies themselves recovered in the fuselage and, if that‘s the case, how does that matter for your investigation? 

ROSENKER:  I don‘t have all the details of how the bodies were recovered at this point.  We just got on the ground.  We know that 19 bodies have been recovered and one is still missing.  I understand the Coast Guard has suspended its search at this time. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER:  Can you clarify the 13 individuals or the number of NTSB personnel who will be down here?

ROSENKER:  Well, right now we have 13 on seen—actually we have more than that.  Thirteen came from Washington.   We have two that are here from our Miami office, on scene right now.  Two more coming in from our other field offices and a number of support people.  Four to five people out of  Washington that will remain in Washington, supporting this investigation.

I have to leave right now.  We‘re actually going to go out and take a look at the site.  And tomorrow, I will be giving you a much more detailed briefing.   Thank you all very much.

CRIER:  All right.  We are going to go to NBC‘s Mark Potter who has been reporting on this throughout the day.  

Mark, one of the interesting points that this NTSB investigator, who actually has been here a short time, one of the points he made after a question from a reporter was something about this plane should have a flight plan, didn‘t.  And we are going to check on that.   What do you know about that?

POTTER:  I don‘t.   It‘s just one of the many things that they‘re going to have to look at.

What I can tell you is that this plane was part of Chalk‘s Ocean Airways, an institution in Miami.   It was even featured in the television program “Miami Vice.” It was one of the more colorful aspects of this community, part of the lore here.

It had a pretty good safety record.   There was one crash of a plane in Key West in which two crew members were killed several years ago.  But, to my knowledge, no passengers have ever been killed on one of these planes.

And so I don‘t know what happened with the flight records.  But this is an airline that is well known and that has a pretty good record.

What struck me, again listening to this captain, is that they‘re going to lift that plane out of the water as early as tomorrow.   They want to get at it.  They want to find the cockpit voice recorder.

That will help with the navigation issues.  Right behind me here, that‘s a major shipping channel for Miami  It‘s called Government Cut.  Cruise ships are stuck in port.  They can‘t go out.  Other ships can‘t come it.  So that‘ll open that up.  It may settle down some of the environmental concerns that are out there.  So that is a big deal.

And, I guess, the other point that struck me is they are hitting the ground running with this investigation.  Nineteen flying in.   Other investigators in other places working in support.  They are going after this in a big way and they‘re going after all the records, maintenance records.

They seem intent on finding out what happened.  But the other point obviously is they just don‘t know what happened.   There are a lot of eyewitness accounts.   The plane on fire...

CRIER:  Yes,  And, Mark, the plane‘s—the plane is only in 35 feet of water as I understand it, so it will be not such a chore to pull that up fuselage relatively quickly. 

POTTER:  No, you can see it from a helicopter looking down.  As these things go, it is not the biggest chore.  But they have to be very careful.  They want to preserve as much as they can in tact for the investigators who try to figure out what happened. 

CRIER:  OK, Mark.  If you‘ll stand by, I want to bring back in aviation crash attorney Mary Schaivo.

Mary, we heard they wanted to find the cockpit voice recorder.   I don‘t image this plane would have a lot of other instrumentation that would help them, but they do have extraordinary access to these Coast Guard videos, the still camera photographs we‘ve seen.  And, of course, they‘re asking for more.  

MARY SCHIAVO, FORMER INSPECTOR GENERAL, U. S. DEPT. OF TRANSPORTATION:   

Well, yes, I mean, they‘re looking for the cockpit voice recorder, but frankly a flight data recorder would be a tremendous amount of help here, probably even more help than a cockpit voice recorder.

Because what they‘re going to look for is some kind of mechanical failure, parameters recording what the engines were doing would be very helpful.  So this will be another situation where some of the recommendations of our NTSB over the years to have every scheduled passenger plane outfitted with this equipment would certainly be helpful here.   They are going to find that data sorely lacking, I‘m afraid. 

CRIER:  We know this is a very reputable company.  It‘s been in place for years and years and years.   Anything untoward about the failing to file a flight plan?

SCHIAVO:  Well, no.  It depends on how this flight was actually occurring.  This is an airline that has regularly scheduled service and it‘s not like filing a flight plan for a private flight.  It‘s a little bit different.  So, if for some reason they were operating other than a regularly scheduled flight, we would expect to see something a little bit different.

It does give us a clue that perhaps it was or, you know, maybe wasn‘t a regularly scheduled flight.   But I was under the impression that it was.  So it may or may not be anything of significance there at all.  

CRIER:  OK, Mark, you want to jump in? 

POTTER:  Yes.  One of the points that I want to make is that the investigators are blessed, if you will, in one aspect.  There were a lot of eye witnesses here.   This is the southern tip of South Beach, the famed South Beach, which is populated by a lot of people, particularly, you know, at this time during a holiday.   A lot of people were out here.  They were taking pictures with their cell phones.  There is video.

The NTSB acting chairman talked about the security video that they‘ve got.  They have a lot of things to work with that they might not have had in so many other cases, the infamous crash in the Florida Everglades, out there where nobody was watching.  That‘s was very difficult.  There was nothing left.

This one, they‘ve got the plane intact.  They have a chance of the cockpit voice reorder where, if there was a sound on the plane, they could maybe catch that.  There were lots of witnesses, eyewitnesses, photographs, video, lots of things that they‘re starting off with.  And that‘s not always the case in these investigations.   Any NTSB official can tell you that it often doesn‘t go this way.  And so maybe they have caught a break at least in that regard. 

CRIER:  Absolutely.  I think you are on the money there.  Mark Potter and Mary Schaivo, thank you very much.

And stay with MSNBC for the very latest on this crash.  We are going to continue our debate on the reality TV show indictments next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CRIER:  Welcome back.  We were talking about four employees from the “Cheaters” reality show, including the host, Joey Goldstein, who have been indicted.   All started with a fight caught on film between a woman and her estranged husband over her relationship with a Fort Worth police Captain.  As we‘ve all seen the creator and executive producer of “Cheaters” joining us live from Dallas.  And private investigator Sandra Hope joins us from Phoenix.

OK, Bobby, one more quick question and then let me bring Sandra in here.   Other than the entertainment value of outraged spouses going at each other, what is the point of your exercise, trying to see whether people cheat and then bring them together in a face to face in front of the cameras? 

GOLDSTEIN:  I think there‘s more than just entertainment value, Catherine.  You know, we are protectors of the seventh commandment: Thou shalt not commit adultery.  And some people find that has a lot of merit as well. 

CRIER:  OK, well putting it on TV‘s another story.  But let‘s find out why Sandra Hope objects to what you are doing. 

HOPE:  Yes, I think that wanting to see if someone is being faithful is one thing, but provoking it and making people aggravated and into a violent situation is another. 

CRIER:  Why are you saying provoked?   Because, you know, I certainly know Bobby‘s response, “Hey we‘re just bringing these two together.  Let them talk about it.”   But a lot of what you‘ve said about this program seems to imply that they are egging people on.  

HOPE:  When I have watched the show, I see a lot of provoking, making the other party angry, upset into a violent situation.   I‘ve been doing private investigations and finding cheating spouses for 11 years, and you just don‘t run into this.  You get the information that you need and you basically try to help a couple.  You know, maybe say, you can talk to them, go to counseling.  It doesn‘t mean your marriage is up.   Most people want to find out why their spouse cheated or their...  

(CROSSTALK)

CRIER:  But don‘t you do similar things?  I mean, you‘ll go out and even plant decoys to test a potential spouse to see whether or not—a potentially cheating spouse to see whether not they will fall for somebody else?  You do bring people together.  You‘re just say you don‘t egg them on to confront one another.  Other than that, pretty much the same? 

HOPE:  That‘s true.  Also a technique, if you bring a decoy to a person that who may be cheating, you can find out if it this person would cheat before it gets into a long relationship, becomes into a divorce with children and so forth.  A decoy can already tell you right up front if, you know, they would cheat, if there is a problem where you might need to go to counseling and work it out before they do find somebody else that they might leave the other person for.  

CRIER:  All right. Well, let me go back to Bobby because you may sort of say, “Well, look, a cop was involved, so they‘re just out to get me.”  But the indictment doesn‘t come from the police.  It comes from the DA‘s office or a grand jury.   So there are others that have reviewed this and said you guys were doing bad things.  

GOLDSTEIN:  That could be the case.  But I think in this case, there was a rubber stamp involved.   It was an indictment.   But the fact is that the charges were Class A misdemeanor, which as you know, Catherine, could have been come by information or police charges.

So  I don‘t think that because a grand jury was involved it means it is any more serious that it sounds.  I think it just sounds more serious.  And, in fact, I think if you watch the tape, if you watch the five cameras that filmed the entire corpus delecti, you will see there is no corpus delecti.   There‘s no crime.  There is no anything here.  I think what have is political retaliation from a department whose trying to protect one of its own. 

CRIER:  OK, when do you make the first appearance in court? 

GOLDSTEIN:  Bonds have not been set yet.  And after that, there will be first appearances and then pretrial motions and then a trial date be given.  But I think it‘s too far down the line to even suggest it could—it might not even be 2006 before this is over with.  

CRIER:  I‘m just curious, would you object to cameras in the courtroom when you‘re tried?

GOLDSTEIN:  First of all, I‘m not being tried, nor is my program, but four innocent men that work for me are being tried.   I do not object to cameras.   In fact, one of the ideas that I‘ve had all my life is that every camera—and every judge‘s chamber ought to have a camera in.  Just like the beaches, who can gather evidence about plane crashes, just like cops who are in public parks next to schoolhouses, you know enjoying private moments with somebody in city property cars.  I think cameras ought to be everywhere.  

CRIER:  OK.  All right.  Well, tell you what, in the courtrooms fine. 

I wouldn‘t have wanted it in my chambers.

Thank you very much Bobby Goldstein and Sandra Hope.

OK, I‘m joined by Tucker Carlson, host of “The Situation with Tucker Carlson.

Tucker, what is the situation today?

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON”:  Oh, Judge Crier, a great situation tonight.  Not long ago, we brought you an amazing, appalling story of a desecrated Santa here in Manhattan, New York.  The people had put it outside their home blood covered, a knife in one hand, a severed head in the other.   It was an outrageous—pornography really, and one viewer took the matter in his own hands.  A former Marine, 65-years-old, went over to that house and tore down the Santa.  I‘m not sure if Greg rescued himself.  We‘ll find out about though tonight when he joins us live on set to explain what he did and why he did it.  

CRIER:  More violence.   I will be watching.   Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  It‘s going to be great.  Thanks, Catherine.

CRIER:  OK, be sure to turn and tune into “The Situation” next at 11.  And we will be right back with an inside look at the Scientology compound, reportedly a favorite hide away for Tom Cruise.  Have the church cater to his every need.   Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CRIER:  Ever wish you could run through a field of wild flowers with that special someone in your life? That‘s apparently one of many wishes Tom Cruise had, and had fulfilled by the Church of Scientology.  The “Los Angeles Times” is now revealing what goes on in a secret Scientology compound.

And 90 miles outside of Los Angeles, joining me is James Hirsen, author of “Hollywood Nation,” Left coast lies, old media spin, and the new media revolution.

James, I understand many eons ago, Zenu captured souls and planted false concepts.  We must work to overcome these.  That‘s what Tom Cruise is pitching to all of us with Scientology?

JAMES HIRSEN, AUTHOR:   Well, that‘s the advanced version. 

CRIER:  Oh. 

HIRSEN:  I mean, his main—the main thing he has been criticized for is his talk on anti-depressants and psychiatry.  But, Catherine, this report is a bit exaggerated.  I mean, even the use of the term “compound.”  I mean, that brings up imagery of Waco.  These poor Scientologists are going to think Janet Reno is on her way over.

And the idea that Tom Cruise is one of the biggest movie stars in the world might be treated like a celebrity.  You know, I mean, after all Richard Gere has met with the Dalai Lama, the Maharishi has met with the Beatles, and the pope has met with Bono.  It‘s not unusual. 

CRIER:  OK, well, tell me, we talk about this as a compound, but it‘s got the high fences.  There is the report from these articles, there‘s something called the ego, where they perch up there with binoculars and write down license plates of people who park too close to the area.  Is this a group that welcomes the public in, or is it a relatively closed environment?

HIRSEN:  Well, the Church of Scientology is open to the public.  You know, they have a celebrity center in Hollywood.  They proselytize, and open it up.

But I do think, you know, for Tom Cruise, which cares deeply about this, as his faith, for him to actually study it, to go to this place, to study the tenets of his faith that seems reasonable to me.  I mean, I would rather see him in a more traditional faith, but folks in Hollywood aren‘t attracted to the more traditional Judeo Christian faiths, because they have this little illness.  It‘s moral deficiency syndrome. 

CRIER:  Oh, I don‘t know, I think there are plenty of people in Hollywood that go to the same church that the rest of us go to.

Now, what about this whole Scientology image, though, that‘s come about with Tom Cruise? Is this something that is symbiotic for the two of them?  Are they working with each other to promote the faith, as you call it?

HIRSEN:  Well, it benefits Scientology more than it does Tom Cruise, when you talk about image and public relations.  Tom Cruise‘s public relations activities have not been great because he had his sister running it.  He has now hired a professional so it should get better.

CRIER:  OK, well, we‘ll continue to follow the story.  James Hirsen, thanks very much.

That‘s all the time we have for tonight.  I‘m Catherine Crier in for Joe.  “The Situation with Tucker Carlson” right now.

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

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