updated 12/27/2005 10:26:17 AM ET 2005-12-27T15:26:17

Guest: Fernando Bosch, Clint Van Zandt, Steve Cohen, Dave Holloway, Kurt

Eichenwald, George Clooney

LISA DANIELS, GUEST HOST:  Coming up, a serial rapist who escaped from a Miami jail three days ago using prison bed sheets is still on the run. 


DANIELS (voice-over):  Police say Reynaldo Rapalo could be armed and dangerous and possibly hiding out in the same neighborhood he terrorized years ago.

New developments in Aruba, one of the chief suspects in the Natalee Holloway investigation returns to the island and reportedly will be re-questioned next week.  We'll get reaction from Natalee's father. 

And George Clooney, Golden Globe nominee on his new movie, politics, Bill O'Reilly and Brad and Angelina.  The program about justice starts right now.


DANIELS:  Hi everyone.  I'm Lisa Daniels.  Dan is off tonight. 

First up on the docket, Miami police on the manhunt for an alleged rapist who broke out of jail on Wednesday and he's still on the run perhaps even in the same neighborhood he once terrorized.  Police call Reynaldo Rapalo the Shenandoah rapist.  He's accused of raping seven women ages 11 to 79 years and attempting to attack four others since September of 2002.

Now he was supposed to face trial in February, but now he's gone.  Police believe Rapalo climbed through a vent in the seven-foot ceiling of his cell and made it to the roof where he then used bed sheets to scale seven stories down to freedom.  They say another inmate might have helped him escape.  That man was caught after he jumped from a roof and broke his legs. 

And they believe Rapalo may have had help on the outside.  Police say it's possible that someone was waiting for him when he escaped.  The suspect has had success in manipulating people in the past.  And police believe his plan may have been in the works for months and that he may be trying to flee to his home country of Honduras. 

Joining me now Miami homicide detective, Fernando Bosch, who was the lead detective on the case back in 2003.  He's very familiar with Reynaldo Rapalo.  Also joining us tonight, former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt and a big thanks to both of you for joining us. 


DANIELS:  Fernando, let's start with you.  I know you have interviewed him a bunch of times before.  What's he like? 

DET. FERNANDO BOSCH, MIAMI POLICE DEPARTMENT:  Pretty much this guy is a—he looks very harmless.  He is a sweet talker.  He'll try to get anybody to believe what he wants them to believe.  He doesn't look like a guy that would do harm or damage to anybody, but he is. 

DANIELS:  So, do you think he's an active threat or what do you think he is, more focused on his escape at this point or do you think he's going to revisit some of the places that he was at? 

BOSCH:  He's definitely, definitely a threat.  And we—everybody in the community needs to be aware that this guy is out there and be vigilant of this individual.  My opinion is that he's trying to get back to his hometown, which is in Honduras.  And I don't think he'll stop until he gets there or we catch him first, which I'm pretty sure we will. 

DANIELS:  Well there's the tip line, 305-471-TIPS.  Clint, let me ask you, from all sources, he is a smooth talker.  He knows how to sweet-talk his way through things.  How does that affect the way police investigate this case? 

CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER:  Well you know first of all, I hate to see this guy given this moniker of you know the Shenandoah rapist.  We ought to call him what he is, the Shenandoah creep or the Shenandoah coward.  This is somebody as a detective you know has worked this case knows this is somebody who's raped girls as young as 11 and senior citizens as old as 79. 

I mean this guy is preying on the young.  He's preying on the old.  He may be a sweet talker but you know he's got friends.  Somehow he had to get one or more hacksaw blades in to cut his way out.  Now this is not Clint Eastwood in “The Great Escape” getting out of Alcatraz.  This is a monster who preys on little girls and senior citizens, who somebody helped him.

He cut his way out with a hacksaw.  He was able in jail to save up sheets, dozens perhaps of sheets.  He had a set of black clothing that he somehow got into to change in and then he was able to get up into the ductwork, get up into the roof, make multiple—tie multiple sheets together and get away.  Is the guy smart and cunning?  Yes and if I was a profiler working with the detective I would agree 100 percent this guy knows that Miami is going to put him down.

That he's going to do life if he's lucky, so the only thing he wants to do is get out of town and get back to Central South America.  So he'll spend time in Miami because he knows the area, but he's only been there three or four years, so he's going to try to get out as quick as he can.  And the question is who's going to help him. 

DANIELS:  Fernando, I understand that back in 2003, tell me if this is correct, that he actually handed out sketches of himself to the public?  He's that sneaky? 

BOSCH:  That's correct.  That's correct.  He went out with a neighbor, went out to the neighborhood where he was committing these rapes and he handed out sketches, flyers of his sketch to the community, knowing that he was the one that was in that flyer in that drawing. 

DANIELS:  Now, that is very confident, you could say cocky for lack of a better word.  Clint, let me ask you.  When you are profiling somebody like this...


DANIELS:  ... is he so addicted to the rape factor that he will be more interested in resuming his illegal activity than actually planning his escape?  Where do you think it fits?

VAN ZANDT:  Yes, well as you know, you know rape is a crime of power, dominance and control.  It's—and this is someone who may not be able to sustain a relationship with a normally adult you know functional female.  This is somebody who preys on the young, on the old.  He also preys on a community that perhaps has a number of people who have immigration challenges. 

So I think there's a good chance he has other victims who just because of their immigration status couldn't come forward, but you know I would look for the guy.  I think he had support in the community somehow to get him out.  And the question is now what is the pipeline that's going to get him back to Honduras and you know the detective and his colleagues they've got their hands full trying to get this guy before he gets out of the country.

DANIELS:  Fernando, we're running out of time, but have police learned anything from the other inmate who try to escape and broke his legs? 

BOSCH:  We've gotten some information.  Obviously I can't discuss that at this moment.  But we are very confident that he's still here in the Dade County area and we're doing everything—the police departments here in South Florida are doing everything possible to put this guy back where he belongs. 

DANIELS:  Best of luck Fernando.  Fernando Bosch, Clint Van Zandt, always a big thank you to you Clint...

VAN ZANDT:  Thanks.  Merry Christmas.

DANIELS:  There's the tip line just so people—Merry Christmas to you...


DANIELS:  ... and I guess the biggest help from the audience would be just looking at that tip line, if we could quickly put that back and making sure that people call in if they have any information. 

Big developments in the Natalee Holloway case, Joran van der Sloot, one of the prime suspects in Natalee's disappearance, he's back in Aruba today where he and two other suspects Deepak and Satish Kalpoe are expected to be re-questioned by Aruban authorities within days.  Van der Sloot has been attending school in the Netherlands since he was released from prison back in September, but he has now voluntarily returned to the island to be interrogated by police. 

And joining me now is Aruban government spokesperson Steve Cohen.  Steve thanks so much for joining us.  Let me start by asking you why was he told that he's going to be re-questioned?  Why all this notice to both Joran and the Kalpoe brothers? 

STEVE COHEN, ARUBAN GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN:  Well you know obviously it seems to outsiders that we may have lost an investigative edge here.  But the truth is that when Joran left the prison and went to Holland he was still a suspect.  The Kalpoes have are been suspects and their attorneys have known for some time that at some point, probably the end of the year they were told, that they would be brought back for questioning.

Now it shouldn't be too much of a mystery what they're going to be asked about.  And obviously only the investigators know exactly what they're going to want to know, but there are some discrepancies in this timeline that have existed for some time and I think what's going to happen is they're going to try and nail them on all those discrepancies. 

DANIELS:  You say it shouldn't be a surprise what they're going to be asked, but obviously they have been asked these questions over and over again.  What's the difference this time around? 

COHEN:  Well the difference is, is that the investigators have had a chance over these many months to go back over all this testimony, also to interview some new witnesses.  New witnesses have brought some new information into the case.  And when we put that all on the table, we're hopeful that we'll be able to get some different testimony from these three boys that will give us a better clue to what really happened that night to Natalee Holloway.

DANIELS:  What are the ground rules here?  Could they just walk out of the questioning midway through? 

COHEN:  No.  The ground rules are because they are suspects they can be brought back.  They are coming back voluntarily.  They have an attorney with them.  The attorney cannot speak during the interrogation, but the attorney can ask for a pause and then talk to his client before they go forward. 

DANIELS:  Will they be questioned separately or are they all going to be questioned together?  Please tell me separately.

COHEN:  Yes, my information is that they all will be interviewed separately.  They all again will have attorneys with them.  But again, investigators are saying at this point to us that this is a time to accelerate this case.  If we can find out what happened, now is the time to do it.  We've done a lot of interviewing over the last few weeks with other witnesses that have not come forward up to this point.  And therefore, we're very hopeful that in the next few weeks we'll be able to move forward with this case. 

DANIELS:  What about Joran's father, Paul van der Sloot?  Is he going to be questioned as well? 

COHEN:  Well he was actually exonerated by the court of instruction.  The reason for that was he went to the court and petitioned them saying look, if you have anything on me, I'm still a suspect.  Am I or not?  They said no you're not.  However, under Dutch law he still can be brought back for questioning. 

DANIELS:  Steve Cohen, thanks so much for answering all those questions.  Good luck.

COHEN:  Thank you.

DANIELS:  Coming up, we're going to get reaction from Natalee's dad, Dave Holloway.  Is he encouraged that the investigation appears to be moving forward?

And a teenage boy exploited by sexual predators on the Internet goes public to warn parents of the danger lurking online.  How he got into the business is eye opening. 

And a little bit later, actor George Clooney, Golden Globe nominee for “Syriana” and “Good Night, and Good Luck”, he's going to sit down with Dan to talk about politics, being a liberal in Hollywood, of course his feud with Bill O'Reilly and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. 

And your e-mails send them to abramsreport@msnbc.com.  Remember to include your name and where you are writing from and we'll respond at the end of the show. 



JORAN VAN DER SLOOT, SUSPECT IN NATALEE HOLLOWAY CASE:  It was Natalee who asked me to go out with her.  It was her that asked me to come to the club.  It was her that was yelling at me to go dance with her and I said—and I went to go drink something with my friends.  I kissed with her.  But neither me, Deepak or Satish ever had sex with her and no one ever said otherwise. 


DANIELS:  Joran van der Sloot has left the Netherlands where he was going to school and today he's back in Aruba.  Within days police are expected to re-question him and two other suspects in connection with Natalee Holloway's disappearance.  Now according to the Aruban government spokesperson, van der Sloot and the Kalpoe brothers will be questioned about discrepancies in their timelines of the night Natalee disappeared. 

And joining me now on the phone is Dave Holloway, Natalee's father. 

Dave thanks again for speaking with us.


DANIELS:  So, are you encouraged by the developments or does it just seem to you more of the same?

HOLLOWAY:  Well I'm not really sure how to gauge it at this point in time, Lisa, but I'm encouraged anytime they bring them back in for questioning.  What I'm confused on is that I had a very good source tell me that the boys or Joran especially has already a list of the questions that is going to be asked of him. 

DANIELS:  Already the list of questions that he's going to be asked? 

He was handed that list? 

HOLLOWAY:  My source tells me that he knows what's going to be asked and that information was provided to him approximately two weeks ago. 

DANIELS:  What is your reaction to hearing something like that? 

Again, we haven't confirmed that, but if it's true, what is your reaction? 

HOLLOWAY:  Well you know I'm still trying to struggle the reasons behind it.  You know, are they going to ask him other questions or maybe they're going to ask—let him concentrate on these and ask him other questions.  I don't know, but it's very disturbing to me that someone would have a list of questions in advance prior to an interrogation. 

DANIELS:  Let me ask you, what would you ask Joran van der Sloot if you had a chance?

HOLLOWAY:  Well, there's a number of things I would ask him.  First would be, where is Natalee and what did he do with her if he's involved in this case.  You know something else that disturbs me, Lisa, is the fact that suspects in Aruba can lie to police and that's not a crime.  Witnesses, on the other hand, cannot lie.  And I asked a question since Paul van der Sloot is no longer a suspect, he can then be a witness and I'm wondering if he cannot be re-interviewed as well. 

DANIELS:  I'm just thinking this through.  Do you think that he—if it's true, that he was given those questions it's because they are voluntarily going back to Aruba to answer these questions and that was part of a deal?  Is that how it strikes you?

HOLLOWAY:  You know I don't know.  Like I said, I'm still trying to struggle with why they would give him questions in advance, according to this source.  It may be so that he can think about them and you know really concentrate on what they're going to ask him.  I don't know.  It's—it may be all for show.  Who knows? 

DANIELS:  You know I can sense the frustration in your voice right now.  Does it just seem like they are going through the motions, the Aruban government responding to a lot of pressure to get these people back in and question but it really doesn't mean too much? 

HOLLOWAY:  Well as you recall, back about 60 days ago there was some indications that they were on a 60-day plan and the rumor was, was that you know after 60 days if they don't come up with anything they're going to close the case.  And then after repercussions about that idea they changed their mind and said they would continue investigating the case.  So you know where do we stand is what I want to know. 

DANIELS:  Dave, any doubt in your mind that these three are involved in Natalee's disappearance? 

HOLLOWAY:  They were the last three seen with Natalee Holloway and they've got more answers. 

DANIELS:  Look you're dealing with the Aruban government here and I know that your family has been pretty outspoken in some of your concerns with how they've handled this case.  Do you think that there will be a break in this case given the fact that the Aruban authorities really are in charge? 

HOLLOWAY:  Well you know you stop and think about it, you've got a 17-year-old, a 18-year-old and a 20 or 21-year-old.  You would think that any investigator could crack one of these kids in any interrogation.  I would know that in the United States that if there is any investigators listening, if they had the opportunity on three of these kids they could probably do it. 

DANIELS:  Dave, are you planning to go back to Aruba? 

HOLLOWAY:  You know that's up in the air.  You know I did—a lot of my responsibilities was involved in searching.  I know Texas EquuSearch is seriously considering going back to the island to do some searching in the water.  Whether I'll go or not, that's—that will be determined in the next few weeks.

DANIELS:  Dave, I know it's a really hard time for you with Christmas coming up.  And we—we're—just want you to know that Natalee is in our thoughts and we wish you the very best. 

HOLLOWAY:  We appreciate it very much.

DANIELS:  Hope you get some answers, Dave.

HOLLOWAY:  OK.  Thank you. 

DANIELS:  Now we're going to go to an alarming story especially for parents who are watching tonight.  Five years ago, Justin Barry (ph), a shy, quiet, 13-year-old hooked a webcam up to his computer with the hopes of meeting some friends, some kids his own age.  Well that never happened.

Justin was instead lured into child pornography, literally sought after by hundreds of Internet predators who offered him money and gifts in exchange for glimpses of him without his clothes on, glimpses of him engaging in sexual acts.  And now Justin is speaking out hoping to prevent more kids from falling into the same trap, a trap set by people you'd least expect. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There's lawyers.  There's doctors.  Construction people.  There were people you would never think about wanting to see something like that. 


DANIELS:  And just who these people were didn't sit right with Justin. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There were people who were watching me do these things on the Web site that I looked and saw who they were and realized most of them were around kids.  And it kind of scared me.  I just—I didn't like it.  I wasn't comfortable with it.


DANIELS:  And it was for that reason that Justin came forward and is trying to help those who are still at risk of falling prey to the predators (INAUDIBLE) the Internet. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I knew how these people treated me.  I didn't want to see people kids that I knew in real life be treated that way.  I didn't want them to go and live the life that I lived.


DANIELS:  Joining me now the reporter who spent six months investigating the story, “New York Times” senior writer Kurt Eichenwald and thanks so much, Kirk, for joining us tonight.


DANIELS:  You know I know this was a six-month investigation.  I'm curious, how did you hook up with Justin?

EICHENWALD:  It was total happenstance.  I am a financial investigative reporter and I was just back from a book tour looking for my next story and was searching for an Interpol investigation, a fraud alert, and found what looked like an Interpol fraud alert posting from a Florida law firm talking about a series of Web sites that were under investigation. 

The posting ended up being a fake, but among the sites that were listed was one of—what was one of Justin's sites.  The site was dead and I did what's called an archive.org search, which showed you the site the way it looked.  By the time I was looking for it I knew it had something to do with pornography and when I saw the archive image, up popped an image of a 14-year-old boy, a normal picture you might see in a school yearbook.  And it was horrifying to me to realize you know I'd seen that people were talking about this site, talking about somebody named Justin and it was very clear that they were talking about pornography and to turn around and see that it's a child was one of the more horrific moments of my life. 

DANIELS:  And so how do you make contact ultimately with Justin? 

EICHENWALD:  Well Justin did have his screen name out on the Internet.  In fact, when I was going through the archive site I found that he had an AIM, an instant message screen name and I just plugged it into my AOL account and waited for him to appear online.  It took several tries to get him to talk to me.  The first two times I tried to talk to him he has since told me he thought I was an FBI agent. 

And it was the third time that I started speaking with him that I went much slower and sort of took a different tact.  And that time he talked to me for several weeks.  At the end he again concluded I was an FBI agent, but his life was so bad and things were so horrible that when I suggested that he meet me in Los Angeles, he agreed to do it, believing that he was about to be arrested, but looking on that as a way of getting out of the life he was in. 

DANIELS:  You know when I read your article, it really struck me that things seemed to spiral.  Here you have a normal, average teen who's lonely.  He wants to make friends.  Before you know he's being told that he'll make $50 if he takes off his shirt, which doesn't sound like such a big deal and by the time all this plays out basically a whole community of predators has made this boy into a—I guess you could call him a porn star.  How did all this happen so quickly? 

EICHENWALD:  I mean the thing is, and that's what I hope your viewers when they see these videos of Justin that you just played, this is a normal kid.  This is a smart kid.  He's actually very smart.  And he was lonely.  He was looking for friends.  And these people, I have watched them deal with Justin.  I've read the conversations he's had with them over the years.  I've watched them deal with other kids who are currently on camera because this is not a Justin story. 

Justin is one of hundreds of kids who are doing this and they are unbelievably manipulative.  They you know it's—I never use this word.  They are evil.  They are evil people who are extremely talented at manipulating children and will use any means they can to get what they want from these kids.  And when you have a vulnerable child like Justin was, like many of the other kids I have spoken to are, they can get manipulated. 

It can be the money.  It can be you know the gifts.  But more than anything, it's what seems like love.  It's what seems like friendship.  But, in fact, it's nothing more than abuse. 

DANIELS:  Yes...


DANIELS:  The predators as you are saying seem so determined to—quote—

“help him” really satisfy their own needs.  For parents out there, this is really your nightmare scenario.  And I'm thinking about when their kids go to their bedrooms and a lot of them do have webcams, what can they do to prevent this from happening to their kids?

EICHENWALD:  You know Justin in the interview we did on thenewyorktimes dot—nytimes.com, put it best.  Throw the webcam away. 


EICHENWALD:  There is absolutely no reason a child should have a webcam.  I can tell you from my six months of looking into this the kids understand, the teenagers understand that the webcam is the modern version of going out behind the barn to play doctor and they think it's funny.  They are performing for each other online.  They do not just need—they don't need a Web site. 

They don't need to get paid.  The problem is the predators know this.  The predators pose as teenagers themselves.  There was a Web site, which actually my reporting ended up getting shut down...


EICHENWALD:  ... because it had people who were out there luring children into a single performance online and then those children would be featured on a pornographic Web site being frequented by thousands and thousands of adults. 

DANIELS:  And let me just say...


DANIELS:  ... that I think that Justin is incredibly brave to not only speak about what happened to him, but to come forward and warn other parents and kids about what can happen. 


DANIELS:  I wish we could talk more.  I'm so sorry. 


DANIELS:  We're running out of time, but people should refer to your article, Kurt.  It's a really good article.  It's an eye-opener.  Kurt Eichenwald thanks again.  Appreciate it. 

EICHENWALD:  Thanks for having me. 

DANIELS:  No problem. 

And coming up, he was once named the sexiest man alive.  Believe it or not, it's not actually Dan Abrams, although he could have made that list, but it's George Clooney.  Dan sat down for an interview with the actor and filmmaker.  We're going to show it to you coming up. 



DANIELS:  Not so long ago George Clooney was “People” magazine sexiest man alive, but now he says he does not expect to play any more romantic leads.  Instead he is diving into controversial topics like the politics of the oil industry with his new movie, “Syriana,” for which he was just nominated a Golden Globe.  Dan sat down with George Clooney recently and he asked a lot of questions about his politics and about Hollywood's role in tackling some of the most controversial issues. 


GEORGE CLOONEY, PRODUCER, “SYRIANA”:  I think what Hollywood can do very well and has over periods of time during sort of social and political upheaval, we reflect things.  Because we're not first responders.  It takes us a couple of years to write a script and get a movie.  We can ask questions and raise debate.  When we're bad—what we're bad at usually is sort of trying to answer the questions. 

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  But this movie does more than just ask questions.  I mean if you just look at the movie itself, it has answers.  And that is at the end of the movie, without giving away the ending...

CLOONEY:  Right. 

ABRAMS:  ... you certainly get the sense that oil companies are corrupt, that the government is corrupt and that Islamic fundamentalism is created as a result of corrupt oil companies. 

CLOONEY:  Well I don't think it says that precisely.  I think in fairness, it says that all of these elements exist in each of those places.  I think no one can argue.  You know we've shown this to a lot of neo cons who agree.  We've shown this to a lot of conservatives.  There isn't really a political side to corruption. 

Everyone agrees that it is a problem in each of those elements.  I don't think we're saying the government is corrupt and oil companies are corrupt and we're not—certainly not saying Islamic fundamentalism especially to the extreme is good.  I think we're saying let's understand that these are all areas of gray and not black and white.  I do enjoy that every time we have a discussion and I get to sit here with you we can talk about those issues and it's not unpatriotic to ask questions.  And that's always been a part of what I have said all along is hey man on either side.  I'm good friends with a lot of conservatives and we have good, fair, open discussions.

ABRAMS:  You are also one of honest ones in the sense that you come out and you say look, I'm a liberal.  This is my political position.  I don't hide it.  And you're also one of the most in tune to the fact that there are a lot of Hollywood bashers out there and people who say you know, George Clooney and they lump you in together with a group of other liberal actors.  Are you worried that people will say that about this movie?  They'll say oh this is just Clooney at it again? 

CLOONEY:  They will.  And the truth is, here's the funny thing about you know our country and the idea.  You know a couple of years ago before the war I was put on the cover of a magazine and called a traitor for saying maybe we should ask some questions before we go to war. 

However, if I'm going to demand the right of freedom of speech you can't then say but don't say bad things about me.  You got to take your hits.  I'm a grown-up.  So if people want to come out and say hey you know that's just a bunch of liberal you know baloney that's sort of thrown in there, I'll have to take those hits.  I disagree because I feel like all I'm saying is let's have those questions asked. 

ABRAMS:  And it's fair to say that this movie is political? 

CLOONEY:  It is political.  It's—yes, it's political.  There's no question about it.  Most of the book goes pretty heavily after Clinton and the Clinton administration.  This isn't about the last five years.  This is an issue of 50 or 60 years of I think no one will argue certain flawed policies in the Middle East. 

ABRAMS:  So when people hear the word oil and oil companies and they think to themselves, oh, he's talking about Bush...


ABRAMS:  ... your answer is...

CLOONEY:  Well those aren't the issues.  The issues are corruption and the corruption has been going on.  You know there's a tremendous amount of Democratic and Republican politicians who have retired and taken nice, fat paychecks from Saudi Arabia when they leave to go be consultants from both sides. 

That's a problem.  That's an issue.  And it should be talked about.  Because I think ultimately we have, you know, there's going to be a point when this runs out, you know in maybe 30 years, maybe 50 years and someone at that point is going to have to talk about alternate energy. 

ABRAMS:  But does having George Clooney associated with it and so involved in it...

CLOONEY:  Does it hurt it? 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  The same way you said you couldn't campaign for your own father in Kentucky because you thought you'd hurt his cause. 

CLOONEY:  I would have.  It didn't help.  He lost anyway, but it would have because it was at the time Hollywood versus the heartland.  It is a little bit different times now because nowadays it is different, it's a little—there's a little more air out there for dissent because Hollywood was sort of really being pegged as dissenters. 

And to answer your question, yes, I have to be very careful about staying out of the information business.  I'm not—my job isn't to stand up on a soapbox and preach. 

ABRAMS:  But I always find it interesting when people are sort of telling people in Hollywood to sit down and shut up because they don't have to listen to them.  But a lot of—you know, they are people who have—you know who have thoughts and some people are very smart and some aren't. 

Do you affiliate yourself with a group in particular?  I mean you know there are the typicals who are associated with the left, the Sean Penns and the Susan Sarandons, Barbara Streisand.  Is it fair to put you in with that group?

CLOONEY:  Well you know it's not like there's this club.  You know...

ABRAMS:  You guys don't have meetings?

CLOONEY:  I've never met Barbara Streisand.

ABRAMS:  Right.

CLOONEY:  I tend to agree with a lot of their politics.  I don't always agree with some of the techniques, but I can't—it's not for me to judge. 

ABRAMS:  But you also recognize that the name George Clooney...

CLOONEY:  Is a liberal. 

ABRAMS:  ... has something attached to it? 

CLOONEY:  Yes but, you know I think the trick is to first of all be informed about whatever the subject is that you are going to talk about and try not to as best you can polarize, you know to sit down with you and have a conversation.  I don't know what your political you know leanings are, but you ask questions and I ask questions. 

And look yes, I'm going to get the opportunity to get the microphone and I can bring attention to tsunami.  I can bring attention to 911 victims and I can bring attention to poverty in Africa.  I think that it's fair to say that if you are a conservative actor, no one questions you know your intelligence. 

ABRAMS:  Because you're unusual. 

CLOONEY:  Well yes, they're quite—there are more than I even thought.  So if you're, you know, if you're a conservative actor, you are allowed to get up and talk about politics, liberals you sort of get you know beat up.  I find that OK.  It's all right, but I don't apologize for it. 


DANIELS:  And we're going to have more on Dan's interview with George Clooney right after the break. 

And a little bit later a judge issues a restraining order against late night comedian David Letterman.  A bizarre story.  She says he's stalking her by sending her messages in his nightly monologue.


DANIELS:  Coming up, more of Dan's interview with actor George Clooney.  Is he really hosting Brad and Angelina's wedding?  We'll have the answer right after the break.


DANIELS:  George Clooney is nominated for Golden Globe awards for both “Syriana” and “Good Night and Good Luck”, his film about how Edward R.  Murrow took on Senator Joseph McCarthy back in the '50's.  Clooney directed and starred in that film, but he has some pretty strong opinions about the state of TV news today and about a man who talks about Clooney a lot, Bill O'Reilly. 


ABRAMS:  I walked away from that movie thinking Murrow sort of laid down the seeds for cable news.  Yes that basically, when you take a position...


ABRAMS:  ... which Murrow did, that's the very thing that cable news does.  And it seems that's the very thing you don't particularly like about cable news.  Is that fair? 

CLOONEY:  I tell you it's a trickier thing than that.  Because news is so different now because the idea is it used to be three networks.  And look there can be flaws with that because if the information is poor from all three networks, where else are you getting your information from? 

But you used to get all your information from basically these three same sources, so you're starting with the same information.  You go home and you digest it through your own political beliefs and your own social beliefs and you come up with an opinion based on that.

ABRAMS:  But that assumes before everyone wasn't biased and that...

CLOONEY:  No, no, you're right.  But I would also say this.  The difference is and I think that you'll understand at least my point, is yes, he did open the door for taking a stand on an issue instead of saying, we're just going to report the news.  However, his was and Cronkite did when he went to Vietnam and came back and said this war doesn't work, was to go against or to talk about or to challenge a government's policy, not to trumpet its policy. 

ABRAMS:  But some of your—the people on the right would say, for example, that they do—they take on the Democratic senators all the time... 

CLOONEY:  Sure. 

ABRAMS:  ... in the same way that Murrow did.

CLOONEY:  But I think that's fine and I think that's fair.  But I didn't see a whole lot of challenge of the Republican leadership at that same time from some conservative you know stations.  Fair enough.  I mean look, newspapers have done that for a long time. 

You go to the newspaper that you know best represents your political view, so it may not be a bad thing.  I just always feel like or worry about the idea—I think more than that we were talking about the bigger issue, which is broadcast news.  And you know this as well as do I because it's your fight and it's my father's fight and it's always waged and never won, which is that careful balance of entertainment and news. 

ABRAMS:  What is with you and Bill O'Reilly?  Really seems like Bill O'Reilly gets under your skin and I see interviews with you...


ABRAMS:  ... a third of them, Bill O'Reilly's name is brought up. 

CLOONEY:  But I don't—you know I don't start by bringing up his name, you know usually.  It's usually—you know look, I just did a film about broadcast journalism and so everyone brought it up. 

ABRAMS:  But don't you sort of by taking him on, and you have in the past, don't you...

CLOONEY:  Make him more famous? 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  I mean...


ABRAMS:  ... George Clooney is a pretty famous guy.

CLOONEY:  I never once have gone at him when he said things about me.  That wasn't the issue.  I've gone at him when the people that I've asked to stick their neck out, you know that work on a telethon, for instance, who did everything right, are suddenly being vilified by something that isn't true.  They're made-up facts.  It's then my job to defend them since I was the one who brought them in. 

ABRAMS:  Isn't that the bait—I mean isn't that the bait to get Clooney? 

CLOONEY:  Yes, but I don't go on his show.  He kept saying come on my show and debate the 9/11 issue, which of course he made up.  He made it up out of whole cloth.  He still to this day says you know we got it right and the Red Cross changed their ways.  We weren't the Red Cross.  We're the United Way.  I mean literally he gets the facts wrong. 

ABRAMS:  But he drives you nuts, doesn't he? 

CLOONEY:  Well he drives me nuts because it's irresponsible.  That's irresponsible and it hurt us because people canceled their checks you know during the telethon.  It makes a difference and it hurt us and it hurt the credibility of the United Way and it hurt who I'm on the board of. 

So yes, those things got under my skin a little bit.  But, in general, you know I said if it's only because—why are you doing this?  Matt Lauer asks why are you doing this?  He goes because I want to—you know because I care about the people and he wanted me to debate him. 

And I said if it's just about caring about the people I'll debate you on any other show but yours, period.  I'd debate him right here, right now...

ABRAMS:  Well I will let him know that he's invited...

CLOONEY:  And we've had that conversation and he said I'll debate you on Charlie Rose and then we had a—you know he had a conversation with Charlie a couple of weeks ago and said Rupert Murdoch won't let me and I think well that's interesting because you can go on any other show and talk about your book or do anything else.

ABRAMS:  The tabloids, on the one hand you have been telling some other actors, hey guys, you can't always win... 

CLOONEY:  Right. 

ABRAMS:  ... against them.  And on the other hand you've been taking them on...

CLOONEY:  Right.

ABRAMS:  ... the tabloids.  How do you decide when to take them on and when not? 

CLOONEY:  Well there's—I think the way you do it is you make it not about you.  Here's the issues I have.  You've been out and seen it around people.  You probably experience some of it yourself.  They can be incredibly unkind. 

ABRAMS:  Let's just say that I have not experienced it to the level that George Clooney has experienced it, to say the least...

CLOONEY:  But you'll understand that when you are not trying to catch me doing something stupid but you're trying to create me doing something stupid, you try to pick a fight with me or something like that, but I worry about trying to pass laws to ban these people because it starts to enter into that area of censorship and I'm a son of a journalist. 

ABRAMS:  Are you the one though that a lot of people come to?  I mean do a lot of other actors have incidents and they say you know let me call George Clooney...

CLOONEY:  Oh that happens a lot. 


CLOONEY:  Because I think—I've had—I had some success with some boycotts of magazines, not about the paparazzi as much, as just saying listen there are ramifications in these worlds where a company owns three or four different shows and one of those shows you participate in and the other show is using footage that's taken to harm you. 

So to me, that's an economic thing that I can participate in, which isn't censorship.  That's just saying OK, that's how we'll play ball. 

ABRAMS:  Well I saw that at one premiere a bunch of the paparazzi tried to do a protest against you and they all put their cameras up in the air or something?

CLOONEY:  The one thing that is sort of frustrating is that they always say well you need us and the truth is I've never—no—it's never helped my career in a moment, a picture of me in “Us” magazine.  That's never been an element of your fame. 

You know you're famous for going and doing work and the work is what sort of drives your fame.  And the truth of the matter is they start taking your picture because you are famous and they can make a lot of money off of it and when I'm not famous anymore, I go away and they will too. 

ABRAMS:  Is it true that Angelina and Brad are getting married at your house in Lake Como?

CLOONEY:  The thing is when that story first came out, some guy sold it from Italy.  And I called up Brad and I said I've got a funny idea and I said let's do a lot of like denying it and then I'll get a bunch of kids dressed up in tuxes and we'll set up a wedding at my house and they'll—everybody will spend money flying helicopters over the house and they're getting closer, and it'll just be kids dressed up in tuxes.


DANIELS:  “Syriana” and “Good Night and Good Luck” are still in theaters across the country.

And coming up, a judge issuing a restraining order against David Letterman after a New Mexico woman claims the late night host is stalking her and sending her messages in monologues.  What's that about?


DANIELS:  A New Mexico judge has granted a temporary restraining order against David Letterman.  A Santa Fe woman saying that the late night host has been stalking her for years through her TV set.  This is the latest chapter in a series of bizarre episodes involving the comedian and his fans. 

NBC's Michael Okwu has all the details. 


MICHAEL OKWU, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  The talk show host was all laughs Thursday night. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  These jokes require some assembly. 


OKWU:  But the ruling is a surprising turn for Letterman.  He's been ordered to stay at least 100 yards away from an apparent stranger. 

DINA SANSING, WEST COAST EDITOR, “US WEEKLY”:  Letterman must have been completely floored by this ruling. 

OKWU (on camera):  A female viewer filed for the order last week.  Her claims?  That for years Letterman had been communicating with her through his television programs, using hand gestures, eye expressions and code words. 

(voice-over):  She made similar claims of Kelsey Grammer and Regis Philbin, but no one was more persistent she says than the late night host. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oprah Winfrey...


OKWU:  The woman claims the word Oprah was the first of several code words that Letterman used on air to ask her to marry him.  In her filing, she begged the court to think of me and release me from his mental harassment and hammering.  The judge defended his ruling.

DANIEL SANCHEZ, NM STATE DISTRICT JUDGE:  I give everybody their day in court if it's—if the allegations are made and if it's pled properly. 

OKWU:  Letterman's lawyers have filed a motion to quash the ruling and issued a statement calling the claims absurd and frivolous.  The irony of course is this time it's Letterman that's being labeled a stalker. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  David Letterman has had extremely unfortunate luck when it comes to extreme fans. 

OKWU:  Margaret Ray was arrested for routinely trespassing in the star's home before she committed suicide and last year Letterman's house painter was arrested after plotting to kidnap the comedian's baby.  As lawyers argue the current case, Letterman has been ordered not to contact the New Mexico woman. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  By the way, that wasn't a joke, it was a coded message. 

OKWU:  Michael Okwu, NBC News, Los Angeles. 


DANIELS:  Coming up, you had to sit and listen to Dan's poem last night on the year's big legal stories, so tonight I'm going to share some of the poems that you wrote back to us, equally as catchy I should say.  That's next.


DANIELS:  So last night Dan wrote a poem about the top legal stories of the year and he put a lot of time and effort into it.  It took many of you just as much time to craft your responses, so we're going to read one. 

Stan Jozwiak, North Carolina writes this, “Dear Abagado Abrams, Esquire, You are not a poet, don't even—don't ever again blow it.  You have no further need to show it, after last night's effort, we all know it.”  Ouch. 

Send your e-mails to the abramsreport—one word -- @msnbc.com.  Dan will go through them and we'll respond at the end of the show.

That does it for us tonight.  Happy Holidays. 

Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  Good night.



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