updated 1/19/2006 10:40:06 AM ET 2006-01-19T15:40:06

Guest: Ian Drew, Carmen Rasmusen, Eric Baum, Larry Cummins, Larry Kaye,

Leland Schwartz, Jack Hickey

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  And right now in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, face-off on Oprah's couch.  Honeymoon cruise widow Jennifer Hagel Smith and the cruise line square off on “Oprah.”  Is Jen lying?  Is the cruise line covering up a crime?  We're going to get the answers in tonight's SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY showdown. 

And then the deadline looms as an American family prays their daughter's not murdered by Muslim terrorists.  But was the young American's fate already sealed by Italians, French and Germans?  We will tell you tonight. 

Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, no passport required, only common sense allowed. 

ANNOUNCER:  From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all.  Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, thanks so much for being with me tonight.  Greatly appreciate it.  We're going to have those stories in just a minute, plus this. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I'm in the car.  And I can't open the door.  And the water's coming in.  And I'm sinking.  No.  And I'm going to drown. 

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  You're hearing a desperate teenager's call for help from a car that was sinking to its watery grave.  We're going to talk to the man who pulled her lifeless body from that automobile and tell you what you need to do, and show it to you, on how you survive something like this. 

And then more controversy on the “American Idol” show.  Last year, it was Paula Abdul's sex scandal, but now it gets really ugly with “Idol” alum Kelly Clarkson.  Hey, Simon, why can't you all just get along? 

But first, honeymoon cruise widow Jennifer Hagel Squared off today with the Royal Caribbean cruise line.  That's the line that she and her husband, George, honeymooned on when he disappeared.  Well, today, on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” Jen demanded answers from the cruise line about how they treated her and how they mishandled this investigation. 

Take a look at the exchange as Royal Caribbean's president kind of apologizes to Jennifer. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW”)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I am sorry. 

OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, “THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW”:  Good. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And I say that on behalf of 40,000 people at Royal Caribbean, that we were not able to render you as much assistance and comfort as you would like to have had on that terrible day.  I am sorry about that. 

JENNIFER HAGEL SMITH, WIFE OF GEORGE SMITH IV:  Let's get back to George.  That's most important.  Why did we not—why couldn't we keep that ship there?  What is wrong with—you have insurance for that.  You can keep that ship back.  You can send everybody home.  Everybody can go on their way.  You can give them two new cruises.  It doesn't matter.  The point is, you made a decision to get the ship moving. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  With me now, we have got maritime attorney Larry Kaye, also former Connecticut prosecutor Susan Filan, and maritime attorney Jack Hickey. 

Larry, I know you saw the showdown on “Oprah” today.  Obviously, Jen Hagel's making a great point.  If the cruise line was so interested in getting this investigation right, if they were so interested in solving this crime, well, why did they allow the crime scene to just float away? 

LARRY KAYE, MARITIME ATTORNEY:  Well, I don't think it's a question, Joe, of the cruise line allowing or disallowing anything. 

They called in four different authorized governmental agencies, the FBI, the Turkish police, the Greek Coast Guard and the U.S. Consulate, immediately.  And that was also discussed in some detail on “Oprah.”  And they run the investigation.  Royal Caribbean is a cruise line.  It's not CSI.  They're not forensic investigators.  They did everything they were asked to do. 

(CROSSTALK)

SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  Joe, that's not right.  Let's just stop this right here.

(CROSSTALK)

KAYE:  Susan, please don't interrupt.  Please don't interrupt.  You will get your chance.  Let me finish, please.

(CROSSTALK)

KAYE:  Let's be civil and polite.  Let's be civil and polite, Susan. 

I was talking and you will have...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Susan, hold on. 

(CROSSTALK)

KAYE:  You will have your chance, Susan.

SCARBOROUGH:  Finish it up.

KAYE:  We all know what you're going to say. 

The FBI person that was there participated in the questioning of witnesses.  And the FBI was notified of this at 3:00 a.m. in the morning in Miami.  They have a Turkish liaison.  They had an agent in the very port where this happened.  They boarded the ship two days later to augment what the Turks did.  If more should have been done by the FBI, that's a question we need to ask them.  The cruise line is not the FBI.

SCARBOROUGH:  Susan Filan? 

FILAN:  Joe, let...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Susan Filan, hold on a—hey, Susan, hold on a second.

Larry makes a good point.  He says, hey, it's not CSI: Royal Caribbean.  We're a cruise line.  This isn't our job.  We bring the Turks on board.  We call the U.S. Consulate.  We have done everything that we can do.  Where is he wrong? 

(CROSSTALK)

JACK HICKEY, MARITIME ATTORNEY:  But those aren't the facts, Joe.

FILAN:  Baloney.

Let's un-spin the spin right here and right now.  This FBI person was there on vacation.  It's not like Royal Caribbean called in the FBI.  Here's what happened.  This captain went on the air on MSNBC on an exclusive and pretty much said, hey, it looked like man overboard.  We thought he went over.

They didn't treat this like a murder.  They didn't treat this like a crime scene.  They let this floating crime scene float away.  They may have said that they called in the Turkish authority, but did they know to do a proper forensic investigation?  We have key pieces of evidence that are forever lost. 

This is a travesty.  The mystery of what happened to George may now go unsolved because of what Royal Caribbean did not do properly.  And now, six months the fact, they come in and do some kind of a spin doctor cover-up to make it look like they didn't do anything wrong.  I think it is reprehensible.  And I think Jennifer Hagel Smith...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on. 

Let me bring Larry Kaye back in here for a second and ask you this, Larry.

How could the investigation get off on the right foot if you have got the captain that looks at this investigation and when he files a report, immediately he says it was an accident; he fell overboard? 

(CROSSTALK)

KAYE:  That's been explained several times. 

First of all, if it's an accident, you don't call law enforcement authorities.  They called the police, and they called the FBI.  And Susan Filan has been on every tabloid show in America.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Larry—hold on a second, Larry.  I'm confused for a second.

Are you telling me that despite the fact the captain wrote in his report that he thought it was an accident, that actually, somebody else on the ship thought it was a crime? 

KAYE:  No.  I think the captain explained that very clearly when questioned by Dan Abrams. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Explain it.  Explain it to me. 

KAYE:  I'm going to explain it to you.  He said that he didn't know. 

When he filled out the report saying that he thought, in his opinion, it was an accident, that was five days later, after the authorities had been there.  But at the time he called the authorities, he didn't know.  That's why he called...

(CROSSTALK)

FILAN:  No, no, no.  He wrote his report several days later.  No. 

That's...

(CROSSTALK)

KAYE:  That's why he called law enforcement authorities, Susan.

HICKEY:  He wrote his report 12 days later. 

(CROSSTALK)

KAYE:  No matter how many times you say that this was a cover-up and they didn't call in the FBI, it doesn't change the fact that they did.  And if anyone, especially a former prosecutor, thinks that the FBI is gullible enough to take the captain's word or his personal opinion of what happened after over their own investigation, that's incredibly naive.  And I'm sure that's not what happened. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Let's go the “Oprah” show from earlier today.  There's been speculation about where Jennifer was the night George disappeared and whether or not she was brought back to her room in a wheelchair. 

This is what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW”)

WINFREY:  Is it a fact that you had to be carried in a wheelchair because... 

HAGEL SMITH:  Yes.

WINFREY:  ... you were so...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Out of it.

WINFREY:  ... out of it?  And you were out of it from drinking, not because...

HAGEL SMITH:  We have no idea—well we were definitely drinking, but we—not to the extent that something this wild happened. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  That you wouldn't remember.

HAGEL SMITH:  Both of us on the same night, and I have no recollection of that evening, on the same night my husband was killed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I mean, Oprah...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Jack, one of the things that's bothered me about this

story is how it's been about Jen Hagel and what she was doing that night, instead of what happened with the investigation the next morning.  Why is everybody so focused on this widow? 

HICKEY:  Because it's a distraction.  That's why.  It has nothing to do with the real story, because the real story and the real unanswered questions at this point are why did they contaminate the crime scene; why do you have people at 7:00 a.m.—and there are witnesses to this that have been on your show from like July 10 and 15 -- that say...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  How did they contaminate the crime scene? 

HICKEY:  Well...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  How did they contaminate it?

HICKEY:  Well, and...

KAYE:  Yes.  I would love to know, myself. 

HICKEY:  Two things is, number one, you had a witness on back in July that said they washed off the blood from the canopy, number one.  Number two...

(CROSSTALK)

KAYE:  That's been completely discredited. 

HICKEY:  There's two people—absolutely not—there's two people who testified or said on January 11, on the Rita Cosby show, that the crime scene—that the room was not sealed, that it was being cleaned afterwards. 

So, there are real inconsistencies there.  Now, those are real questions.  Now, whether Jennifer Hagel had too much to drink or was drugged, or was—hey, does that look bad for Jennifer Hagel?  Well, it's not good.  It doesn't look good.  I agree.  But shame on the cruise lines if they're saying, well, hey, don't look at me; don't look at the cruise line; don't judge what the cruise lines did here; let's look at Jennifer Hagel.  Maybe she was drunk.

KAYE:  They have not said that. 

HICKEY:  Surprise, surprise.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  But you know what, though, Larry?

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second.  I want to ask Larry a question, because, Larry, right after this occurred, the cruise industry put out a statement that Royal Caribbean had to sign off on that said, you know what, if Jen Hagel Smith or her husband wanted to cause each other harm, we can't do anything to stop that.

You have got to admit that was a sleazy thing to do, a week or two after this tragedy occurred, right? 

KAYE:  Well, you know, I'm not familiar with the statement that you're referring to, Joe, to be perfectly honest. 

And so I'm not able to comment on it.  I don't know specifically what that statement was about.

SCARBOROUGH:  That would be inappropriate, though, if that statement came out, right? 

KAYE:  Yes, I think it would insensitive.  And I don't think that Royal Caribbean has been insensitive.

I think that they tried really hard to reach out to the family.  I think they tried really hard to not get involved in a media mud-fest.  They bit their tongues for six months, until finally they felt that there were facts that had to come out. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  But, Larry, they did send this statement out, though, right afterwards, saying that if the wife or the husband wanted to cause themselves or each other harm, they couldn't do anything about that.  That was right after the accident.  That's not holding your tongue for six months, is it? 

KAYE:  Yes.  Well, you just said the cruise industry put out that statement.  Are you now saying Royal Caribbean put out that statement?  Which is it? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, what I'm saying is, there's a representative for the cruise industry that Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines all pay for.  He's their flack.  He's their spokesman.  And they're the group that put it out. 

KAYE:  Well, but you know and I know, Joe, that people say things all the time that aren't—don't necessarily reflect the views of the people directly affected by the incident. 

We have certainly seen that in this case.  But I want to get back to a very important point that you were just discussing, which is the relevance of Jen Hagel's state of mind and what she was doing. 

(CROSSTALK)

FILAN:  Why is bashing Jennifer Hagel Smith what is relevant here? 

Why is calling her...

(CROSSTALK)

KAYE:  I'm not bashing her, Susan.

(CROSSTALK)

KAYE:  And if you would keep quiet for a moment, you would find out. 

The reason I think it's very...

FILAN:  I have listened to you.  I know what you're going to say.

KAYE:  You're not listening.  You're talking. 

(CROSSTALK)

KAYE:  You know what I'm going to say? 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Listen, everybody.  We're going to have to stop. 

Larry, go ahead.  I'm going to give you 15 seconds. 

And, then, Susan, you respond.

KAYE:  Thank you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Why is Jen Hagel important?

KAYE:  The reason it's important is that, up until now, I had always been under the impression, and we heard from the Smith family that Jennifer was unable to discuss the events of that evening because the FBI had asked her not to.  We heard that repeatedly. 

Today, I heard, for the first time, in very clear terms, that she's unable to talk about the circumstances leading to George's disappearance because she can't remember.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Because she was drunk or possibly drugged. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Susan Filan...

(CROSSTALK)

KAYE:  Wait.  It doesn't matter why.

The point is—the point is, Joe...

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.

KAYE:  The point is that it's very unfortunate that she doesn't remember, because she's the person that would have been in the best position to help get this investigation off the ground. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right. 

Susan Filan, is this yet another inconsistency in Jen Hagel's story?

FILAN:  What this is, this is a classic blame the victim.  This is, Royal Caribbean looks bad.  Now they're going to turn on Jen Hagel Smith. 

(CROSSTALK)

FILAN:  She can't remember. 

HICKEY:  Yes. 

FILAN:  It's not her fault that her husband is dead.  She's been cleared.  She's cooperated.  She's passed polygraphs.  She was drugged.  She passed out.  She went back to her room.  End of the story.

That's not the story.  We are taking the focus away from what really matters here.  And what really matters here is, Royal Caribbean quite likely has a murder on its ship, didn't handle it properly, sailed away, didn't treat the widow properly, is now victimizing her, in an effort to do a P.R. spin to make themselves look better. 

And Larry Kaye, you can come on every television show you like and say facts, facts, facts, but what you're really doing is spinning it around, so Royal Caribbean doesn't look as bad as they do.  And they're doing it by trying to make Jennifer Hagel Smith look awful.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  We're going to have to leave it there. 

All right.  Thank you, Susan Filan.  Thank you, Larry Kaye.  And thank you, Jack Hickey.  We appreciate you all being with us tonight. 

And we have got a lot more to come, and we have got the very latest on kidnapped journalist Jill Carroll.  Tonight, the desperate push to save her life from a deadly deadline and a closer look at why terrorists may have chosen her and how American allies may have put her life at risk. 

Then later, an amazing rescue after a teenager calls for help from under water.  Tonight, you are going to hear from the hero who dove down into those murky waters and saved her life.  And we will tell you what you need to know how to save yourself if it happens to you. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  A young American reporter kidnapped in one of the most dangerous parts of Iraq.  Tonight, the deadline looms near, as Americans try to save her life.  We are going to have the story of this young American journalist and talk about what happened and whether she has a chance to survive the ordeal when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Tonight, kidnappers are threatening to kill American journalist Jill Carroll on Friday, while Americans and Iraqis work for her release and her family begs for mercy. 

Carroll was kidnapped 11 days ago outside the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad.  And, since then, all we have seen of her is a short silent video released by her captors, who are demanding that the United States military release eight female Iraqi prisoners that they are holding.  Now, 10 American hostages have been killed since the start of the war.

And, right now, many are asking whether Jill Carroll could be lucky enough to be spared. 

Let's bring in right now NBC terror analyst Roger Cressey and also Leland Schwartz.  He's Jill Carroll's friend and former editor at States News Service in Washington.

Roger, let me begin with you. 

We have heard reports in the past of Germans, the French, the Italians dealing with these terrorists, with these kidnappers.  Any evidence that the United States also does that and that they may do that in this case? 

ROGER CRESSEY, NBC COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST:  I don't think the United States would deal with them directly, Joe.  I think they would use the Iraqis to the extent that they could as a middleman. 

The issue, of course, here, is this group, the Resistance Brigade, a criminal group, and the whole purpose of Ms. Carroll's capture is monetary, or is there something else going on?  Is there a broader political agenda?  Sure they say they want the female prisoners released, but there have been plenty of cases where kidnappers have talked about political goals, but really all they care about is actual money. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Which is, of course, we see these kidnappers come and they will release statements.  And you think that it has something to do with their religion, their faith, holy jihad.  But some of them are just thugs, terrorists, who want to shake these people down.  

Is there any indication, again, from what the Italians have done and the French and others have done, that, actually, that's encouraged groups like this to step forward? 

CRESSEY:  Well, I think the fear always has been that the criminal groups, what they are paid ransom, they were emboldened to conduct even more kidnappings. 

But, Joe, what we have also seen are examples where the criminal groups have conducted the kidnapping and then sold the hostages to the insurgency.  In effect, they could get a better price for a prisoner by Zarqawi's group or people affiliated with him than waiting for someone to pay their initial demands.

So, that combination, it's a very lethal mixture of the criminal element, as well as the insurgency working together, is the worst-case scenario.  And let's hope that's not the case with Ms. Carroll.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, what Ms. Carroll does seem to have going for her tonight, though, is the fact that, as you know, al Qaeda has actually attacked Zarqawi for these public beheadings.  You have got Iraqi insurgents that have been very critical of people that are killing women and civilians. 

Do you think the tide's turning and that there's—actually, pressure is heating up on these groups not to kill women, not to kill children, not to blow up grandmothers in public markets? 

CRESSEY:  Well, Joe, I think you can make a strong case that a large percentage of the Islamic world was—it was revulsion over these type of very public executions, starting with the Americans and then with foreigners.

We have seen it continue with the bombings in Jordan by Zarqawi's group, strong denunciations around the Islamic world.  So, what one hopes now is that with the threat to Ms. Carroll's life right now, you're seeing greater and greater statements by a number of Islamic groups and governments, saying, this is the wrong thing to do.  Killing innocents is against Islam.  It's a mistake.

And, hopefully, that will have some effect on those that have captured her. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Leland, let me bring you in here.  And let's talk about personally about this young woman that you know. 

Obviously, she's got to be a tough journalist to have gone not only to Baghdad, but gone outside the Green Zone in western Baghdad, one of the toughest areas.  Tell me about Jill. 

LELAND SCHWARTZ, FORMER EDITOR OF JILL CARROLL:  There were three things that always struck me about Jill, the first being her clarity and her directness. 

Any time Jill was working on a story, and you asked her exactly what was going on, you always knew you got the straight story, with no spin.  I'm hoping that will help her in this situation with her captors. 

And, secondly, she had a determination about her and a willingness to do almost anything.  When I heard this happened to her, honestly, I wasn't surprised that she was off doing what she was doing, because it just really fit with Jill wanting to see the world and get there. 

The third thing that really struck me and I think all of her colleagues the most, which I hope comes into play here, is a cheer about her, and a warmth and a loveliness.  And these last several days that she's been captive, I have been kind of hoping and wishing that these parts of Jill will sink in to the kidnappers and they will actually fall in love with her and let her live. 

It strikes me that they also may—it may dawn on them that they have got an unusual opportunity with Jill, in that, if they don't harm her, they could let her go, and she could be the one journalist that could report the fate of the Iraqi people.  And every single word that she would ever write or say would be heard around the world. 

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about that.  And, earlier tonight, NBC News correspondent Richard Engel talked about his colleague Jill Carroll with Brian Williams. 

Take a listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  She's not the first journalist to be kidnapped, but it was a much different kind of blow, a real body blow.

Jill had always been a very active member of the journalist community.  She was always there at the parties.  And she was smiling.  And everyone is hopeful that she is going to join us once again.  But it was very much a loss, because everyone wanted to rally behind her.  She operated very differently than a lot of the other reporters do in Baghdad, moving on her own, somewhat vulnerable, and I think there's been that kind of reaction from the journalistic community to try and help one of our own, who may have been more vulnerable than other people who had the backing of major news operations behind them. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Roger, we touched on this briefly a minute ago, but it seems to me that over the past several months you actually have these Muslim terrorists, these insurgents actually doing things and really losing the war for the hearts and the minds of the Arab world in ways that Americans could—they're hurting themselves basically in ways that we never could do. 

Do you think they're slowly but surely figuring that out and understanding again that killing this young woman, killing this reporter is only going to hurt their cause moving forward? 

CRESSEY:  Well, you only have to look at Ayman al-Zawahri's letter to Zarqawi, where he asked Zarqawi to stop the public slaughtering of innocents, that it is harmful to the jihadist cause.

So, Joe, I think there is some truth to that.  And I think there are -

·         even if large percentages of the Islamic world have serious problems with U.S. policy, I think if you look at the polling date, they will—you see in that data an agreement that the killing of innocents, the kidnapping and ultimately execution of people like this is simply wrong and it is counterproductive. 

So, the challenge then becomes, how do we take advantage of that to continue to drive home that message?  Can we in a way that is not counterproductive?  And, more importantly, how do parts of the Islamic world and the Arab world take that message and drive it home as well?

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thank you so much, Roger Cressey.

And thank you, Leland Schwartz.

And, Leland, obviously, our thoughts and prayers are with you and your friend.  And we certainly hope that she's going to be OK. 

Now, when we come back, a chilling call for help. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I'm in Waikiki Yacht Club.  And we're sinking in the car.  And I can't open the door.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  It's a 911 call that saved a life and we have the Navy man who showed himself to be a true hero. 

And, no, it's not Hannibal Lecter, but we will tell you why a judge made sure that this guy would sit down and shut up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Last year, it was the Paula Abdul sex scandal.  This year, it's Kelly Clarkson's song scandal.  More controversy coming out of “American Idol.”  It's enough to ask Simon, can't you guys all just get along?

We will have that and a lot more when we return.

But, first, here's the latest news you and your family need to know. 

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  A desperate suspect goes the wrong way on a freeway, trying to outrun the cops.  You know this one can't end well.  We will show you more in flyover country.

Then, just as a new season of “American Idol” begins, a new controversy rocks the show.  And we will tell you about that later on, also. 

Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  We are going to get those stories in just minutes.

But first, caught in the car, submerged in water.  Get this now.  A 15-year-old girl in Hawaii is alive tonight because of her cell phone and a hero's amazing response. 

NBC's Mark Mullen has that story. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARK MULLEN, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Car under water; 66-year-old Michael McCarthy was backing out a yacht club parking lot when he hit two cars and plunged into the harbor.  The first call to 911 operators was from McCarthy's 15-year-old step-granddaughter, also in the car and trapped under water. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I'm in Waikiki Yacht Club.  And we're sinking in the car.  And I can't open the door.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK.  Where are you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  In Waikiki Yacht Club.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  At the yacht club?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes.  And the water...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I'm sorry.  What is your problem?  What is happening?

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MULLEN:  As the frantic call played out, the girl made one last plea before the car submerged. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I'm in the car.  And I can't open the door.  And the water's coming in.  And I'm sinking.  No.  And I'm going to drown. 

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MULLEN:  As the frantic call played out, the girl made one last plea, before the car completely submerged.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Waikiki Yacht Club.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK, we're sending some trucks. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Please hurry!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Can you open the window?  Hello?  Hello? 

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MULLEN:  Luckily, a good samaritan dove in and pulled the girl to shore, where she was treated by paramedics summoned by her phone call.  Her step-grandfather was also recovered, but he later died at a hospital.  Police are investigating the accident in which they say alcohol may have been involved. 

Mark Mullen, NBC News, Los Angeles. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  With me now, by phone, from Hawaii is Petty Officer 1st Class Larry Cummins, who pulled the young girl to safety. 

Larry, it's just an unbelievable story.  Tell me when you first figured out that something had gone terribly wrong here. 

LARRY CUMMINS, PULLED GIRL FROM SUBMERGED CAR:  Well, we saw bubbles floating out of the water.  And we looked what—we could barely see a little bit of the white of the top of the car.  And that's when we finally figured out that it must be the car in the harbor. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And you actually jumped into the harbor, went down looking for the girl.  Were you able to get into the car immediately? 

CUMMINS:  No. 

Actually, I wasn't able.  It took me—I had to try every door before I finally found a door that was unlocked.  And it actually took some force to open it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And when you finally opened the door, did you find the girl immediately? 

CUMMINS:  Oh, no.  No.

It was—it took me three or four more dives to actually go inside the vehicle.  And, of course, it was pitch black in there.  You couldn't see anything.  So, you could only use your feel to feel around.

And I just happened to sweep towards the back seat, and I felt her hair.  And I just grabbed ahold of her hair. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So she was actually in the back seat? 

CUMMINS:  Yes.  She was in the back seat.  And I started to pull on her, and I felt her move.  And so I got her closer and closer to the door, and then we exited the vehicle. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Larry, what state was she in by the time you were able to dive in there and pull her out of the submerged car?  Was she conscious? 

CUMMINS:  She was unconscious.  And, in fact, she actually had vomit coming out of her mouth.  We pulled her out of the vehicle. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And when did you do then?  Did you immediately swim her to shore or did you jump up on a boat?  What did you do next?

CUMMINS:  Well, I immediately swam her over to—my friend Rico (ph) was standing on the (INAUDIBLE) ramp.  And we swam over.

And we just couldn't get her out the water at that time.  So, he yelled for some people to give us a hand getting her out of the water.  And then I told him—I said, just put her back her in the water.  I will swim her over to the dock, because it was lower to the water. 

And a couple people came over and helped get her out of the water.  And then I started asking if anybody knew CPR.  So, I said, roll her over on her side, clear her airway.  One of the ladies the was there said she was a nurse.  And I believe that she started to give her CPR.  The next thing I heard was, she's breathing.  She's breathing.  Then that's when I went back to the vehicle and started looking for the other guy. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Larry, thank you so much. 

You know, the term hero has been cheapened so much, but you really are a true hero.  We greatly appreciate you being with us tonight to tell us what happened in the harbor there. 

So, what should you do if you get trapped in a sinking car?

NBC's Kevin Tibbles recently found out and filed this report. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEVIN TIBBLES, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Each year, some 600 people nationwide die when their vehicles go off the road into water. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It's only going to be at the surface for anywhere from one minute to four minutes.  So, you need to make your escape within that period of time. 

TIBBLES (on camera):  Now you have only got a couple of seconds to do this.  What do you have to do?

(voice-over):  Water safety expert Jerry Dworkin (ph) walked me through the steps...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Now we can make our escape out.

TIBBLES:  ... that can save lives, called SOS, go.  Stay calm.  Open the window.  Push the seat belt release, and go.  Also, keep a rescue tool in your car.  There's a small blade to cut through a tangled seat belt and a hammer or punch to smash out a jammed window. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Just swing and hit like that.

TIBBLES (on camera):  I will do anything once. 

(voice-over):  With a Palm Beach County fire operations team close at hand...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Seat belt on first.

TIBBLES:  ... I was put in the driver's seat and plunged into about 15 feet of water.  As the water splashed over the windshield, despite my training, at first, I did panic and was confused. 

(on camera):  I remember they said to keep your wits about you, so I just took a breath and I did the window and then the seat belt. 

(voice-over):  The next attempt I wanted to go further, to simulate being trapped when the window doesn't open.  I grabbed the hammer.  In a split-second, the car fills and sinks. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That went down fast.

TIBBLES:  The water is murky.  The heart races.  I take a last breath and push through the rushing water. 

Surfacing is a huge relief. 

(on camera):  Breaking in the glass, it just like all comes in.  And, then, so, I couldn't see.  And it did freak me out, because my leg got stuck in the seat belt.

(voice-over):  Again, the best piece of advice, don't lose your cool.  Panicking wastes energy and time.  And be prepared for what seems to be the unthinkable. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, 600 people a year die in their automobiles when they're submerged.  And it doesn't matter whether you're in Florida, Hawaii or Kansas.  It's all over the country. 

With me now to talk about surviving an accident like this is Lieutenant Eric Baum of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue. 

You know, Eric, looking at this clip of Kevin, here's a guy that knew he was about to be submerged, and, yet, he still panicked, just like I would have panicked and I guess most Americans in that situation would have panicked.  But if you're caught off guard, like this young girl that we heard on that 911 call, then, I mean, what do you—in fact, let's listen to part of the girl's frantic 911 call and then have you respond. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I'm in Waikiki Yacht Club.  And we're sinking in the car.  And I can't open the door.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK.  Where are you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  In Waikiki Yacht Club.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  At the yacht club?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes.  And the water...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I'm sorry.  What is your problem?  What is happening?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I'm in the car.  And I can't open the door.  And the water's coming in.  And I'm sinking.  No.  And I'm going to drown. 

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Lieutenant, first of all, I would panic if that guy was on the other end of the line and I was calling 911. 

But what is the key to staying calm when you're submerged in water?  I would guess that really is.  That's the key to things going right, correct? 

LIEUTENANT ERIC BAUM, MIAMI DADE FIRE RESCUE:  By all means. 

She typified what we want to see, is to know, be calm.  Don't panic.  But also she knew where her surroundings where.  She knew exactly where she was, what yacht club she was at, to get that information.  And it's incredibly important to know your surroundings at all times, when driving, when being about.  You never know when you're going to go into water. 

And we have seen several times in Dade County here, people go into the water, they do have the time, once that car hits the water, if they survive that impact, even to make a phone call to call for help.  But if you don't know where you are, you're not going to get the help you need.  But she did an outstanding job of relaying that information to 911. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And if you don't have a knife to cut yourself free from a seat belt that gets tangled up, is it smart to release the seat belt immediately the second you start going under water? 

BAUM:  That is true.  But we want to encourage you to always wear your seat belts, because before you could survive getting out of the car, you need to survive that initial impact, when the car hits the water.

You need to have your seat belts on at all times.  Once you hit the water, as you saw in here, there's a little bit of time.  In most cases, we see, the car floats.  There's air pockets.  There's air pockets in the trunks.  And, as it starts to go down, then is your time where you need to get that seat belt off.

We teach in our fire department POGO, to pop open that seat belt right away, to get to a window, open it, and get out.  We did a similar episode with the media in cars.  And one of the things some of the media people did when going in those cars in that panic to get out is forget to pop the seat belt.  And it's a critical aspect.  You need to free that in order for you to get out of the vehicle. 

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it. 

All right, thank you so much, Lieutenant Eric Baum.  Greatly appreciate you being with us. 

I'm joined right now by a man who never panics, even under the toughest of circumstances.  He is, of course, Tucker Carlson, host of “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON.” 

Hey, Tucker, what's the situation tonight?

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON”:  Well, you know, Joe, you know when I felt panic?  When I was in college stuck in a small room with a authoritarian professor, cramming his ludicrous political beliefs down my throat.  And there was nothing I could do about it.  But there is now.

SCARBOROUGH:  That is frightening.

CARLSON:  An alumni from UCLA has set up a Web site.  He pays students $100 a class to write reports on the propaganda their professors spew while being paid by the state of California.  It is the answer.  We will address that.

We will also address a new law that may make running away from home a crime for kids under 17.  I think I'm against that.  I think I kind of want government away from family life.  But we will debate it anyway. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, of course, I heard earlier, a crime for people that have bad hair in Great Britain?

CARLSON:  It is a crime.  And like I should talk.  I mean, you know, I wear a bow tie and I have bad hair.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly.  Exactly.  Same here, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  But it can't be a crime.  I like your hair, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And—well, thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  You're welcome. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I like yours, too. 

CARLSON:  Thanks.

SCARBOROUGH:  Just like I said last night, I can't quit you, man.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Thanks, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Thanks, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Make sure you tune into “THE SITUATION” coming up next at 11:00, “Brokeback” news with Tucker Carlson.

Coming up next, he led Texas police on a wild chase for 90 minutes. 

But it all ends when he decides to go the wrong way on a freeway. 

And Kelly Clarkson at the center of controversy at “American Idol.”  What's going on over there?  And why can't they all just get along?  That and much more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  It's time for another flyover of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, some of the stories that may have fallen under the mainstream media's radar, but not ours.

We begin tonight in Houston, Texas, for another criminal who thinks he can outrun America's finest, a 90-minute car chase.  And, when it ended up, the driver of that BMW crashed head on with another car, as he headed the wrong way on an up-ramp.  The woman he crashed into jumped out of her car, across, though, to the BMW, and screamed at the suspect.  Police joined in and arrested the man, who was wanted for assault charges, and now a whole lot more. 

And our next stop of Pinellas County, Florida.  They say that art imitates life.  Well, how about the other way around, like a scene out of “Silence of the Lambs”?  This serial bank robber had to be tied up in a wheelchair and gagged after he refused to follow a judge's orders.  Six SWAT officers were called in to restrain the man.  They even had to put a veil on his face, so he wouldn't spit at them.

Steven Aitken was sentenced to five consecutive life sentences for a string of 23 bank robberies. 

And coming up next, more controversy over an “American Idol.”  Last year, it was an alleged sex scandal with Paula Abdul.  Now Kelly Clarkson has set off a new dust-up.  We will figure it all out for you coming up.

And, tonight, a “Joe's Schmoe” who is getting what he deserves.  We will tell you why when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  She's rich and famous, thanks to winning the first “American Idol.”  So, when Kelly Clarkson appeared to tell the show to stop using her music, “American Idol” fired back.  “Idol” judge Simon Cowell, who Clarkson had fired before going on to win a Grammy, put it this way—quote—“No matter how talented Kelly Clarkson is, she would not be in the position she is now without winning this show.  It's like saying to every person who voted for you, you know what?  Thank you.  I'm not interested in you anymore.”

Last year, it was a sex scandal with contestant Corey Clark and judge Paula Abdul.  This year, of course, it's Kelly Clarkson. 

So, what's going on at “American Idol”?  Tonight, well, she's singing a different tune and saying that it may be OK for “American Idol” to use her songs. 

Here to talk about it is Ian Drew from “Us Weekly” and former “American Idol” contestant Carmen Rasmusen. 

Thank you all so much for being with us.

Let me start with you, Ian. 

Are you surprised that Kelly Clarkson would make this sort of faux pas, when, obviously, everything she has she owes to “American Idol”?

IAN DREW, “US WEEKLY”:  Well, yes, it is, but, as her publicist even said in his statement, it wasn't completely her decision. 

I mean, she has a lot of people—there's a spider web of people in the music industry that are around her, making decisions.  A lot of times, they're not communicating with each other.  And, thus, it looks bad on her when a decision like this is made.  But it's a joint decision between managers, licensing agents, publicists, and a whole group of people that work around a celebrity that make a decision like this happen.

SCARBOROUGH:  But, Ian, obviously, though, somebody around her—most everybody around her would have to understand that this would make her look like an ingrate, somebody that, again, got a record contract because of “American Idol.” 

And, my gosh, it's still such a huge phenomenon.  Its ratings last night, extraordinary.  Where were her managers to tell her, hey, this just is not a smart move?

DREW:  Well, the situation always changes when the media finds out. 

And once they did find, of course, now they're saying now they will give some of the music to the show.  But her publicist was very clear in saying that he would not be licensing—or they would not be licensing the movie to anybody, karaoke bars or anything. 

This was obviously a very bad decision, because it does make her look really bad, like she's alienating the fans that made her, and that she's destroying everything that they gave her for rock credibility, which she has now gained. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Carmen, obviously, you also participated in “American Idol.”  What's your take on Ms. Clarkson's decisions? 

CARMEN RASMUSEN, FORMER “AMERICAN IDOL” CONTESTANT:  Well, I thought she was crazy for making the decision in the first place, because it's the number-one hit show on Fox.  You know, 35 million people are watching it.

You think, hey, if someone wants to sing your song, it's only great exposure for you, if someone hears your song and says, oh, who is that?  It's Kelly Clarkson.  Oh, great.  Well, I think I will go out and buy her C.D. 

I thought it was crazy that she would do that.  So, I'm really glad that she's reconsidering that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  What about Simon's attack of her?  Are you surprised by that or is that just par for the course?

RASMUSEN:  You know what?  Simon is Simon, still.

But I kind of agreed with him, I thought.  It's kind of ridiculous that they picked her as the “American Idol” and then she says, well, now you can't use my stuff on your show.  And they said, well, we used you on our show, and you won.  So, it was kind of crazy, but I'm really glad that she's reconsidering.  And I think that she will do really good, if she does. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Ian, what makes “American Idol” such a draw?  I mean, usually, these things are big for one season, maybe two seasons.  “American Idol,” though, its big wheels keep on rolling.  What is the secret?

DREW:  Well, “American Idol” represents the American dream. 

You're seeing people that go from nothing to becoming Kelly Clarkson.  And people can aspire to that in their own lives.  I mean, we have to have something that we feel like we're—we are going for.  And there's millions of people out there that really look to the people that make it on “American Idol” as role models for how they can make it in their own lives.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

DREW:  And, also, it's pretty entertaining seeing the people screwing up and also doing well.  So, it just...

SCARBOROUGH:  That, it is.

DREW:  You can't get over the entertainment factor of seeing both sides of the spectrum on that show. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right

Thank you so much, Ian.  Thank you, Carmen. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And we will be right back in a minute. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, you can take SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY out on the road with you wherever you roam.  Just go to iTunes and get your free podcast. 

We will be back with tonight's “Joe's Schmoe.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  It's now time for tonight's “Joe's Schmoe,” who is learning out the hard way you don't do the crime, because you may have to do the time. 

Now, the verdict is in for Nathan Mallett's game day dance at the Steelers-Brown game last—what a schmoe—last month, a weekend stay in jail Super Bowl weekend.  The 24-year-old fan was convicted on misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct for racing on to the field.  So, now Mallett won't be able to watch or listen to the big game.  Call the punishment fit for the crime for being a schmoe.

So, when it comes to the Super Bowl, if you want to go, don't be a schmoe. 

That's all the time we have for tonight.  “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON”—and I mean it—it starts right now. 

CARLSON:  Right now. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Not 10 minutes from now.  Right now, Tucker Carlson.

CARLSON:  That guy got—don't you think he kind of got punished already, though, Joe?

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  He got spanked. 

SCARBOROUGH:  He did get spanked, Tucker.

What's the situation tonight, Tucker? 

CARLSON:  Joe, thank you.

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

END   

Content and programming copyright 2006 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2006 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.'s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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