updated 3/2/2006 10:55:52 AM ET 2006-03-02T15:55:52

Guest: Richard Wolffe, Joe Tacopian, Buck O'Neil

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST:  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?  Caught on tape?  And it was there all along.  Video of the government wide Katrina briefing, the one from August 28, the day before the hurricane hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, the one in which the president is warned that the levees could be breached four days before he told the American public no one could have anticipated that the levees could be breached.  The president shown assuring Louisiana officials everybody was ready.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I want to assure folks at the state level that we are fully prepared. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  And this blockbuster video was handed out to the media the day it was shot.  Nobody noticed until now.  Notice this on the Dubai Ports World controversy; are the former President Clinton and the possible future presidential candidate Clinton on opposite sides of the issue? 

Also tonight, the opposite side of the possible $500 million lawsuit by CBS against Howard Stern, a break in the $92 million ATM depot robbery in England, three arrested.  Ninety-two million when they're suing Howard for 500, you call that a robbery? 

And the week of controversy, everyone seems angry or broken hearted that Buck O'Neil was not elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, everyone except Buck O'Neil himself.  Tonight baseball's great ambassador, Buck O'Neil joins us. 

All that and more now on COUNTDOWN.

Good evening.  Six months to the day after Hurricane Katrina roared ashore, half a year in which the White House has claimed repeatedly that no one could have anticipated how bad it would be.  A wealth of evidence, much of it caught on tape, now revealing that President Bush was indeed fully briefed about the storm's potential and all of the damage it might do. 

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, what may well become known as the Bush tapes, six days worth of videos and transcripts.  The irony, the media has had at least one of those tapes all along.  The Associated Press getting credit for digging up the full trove. 

The tapes revealing that Mr. Bush and his homeland security secretary were warned in no uncertain terms before Katrina hit shore that the storm could breach levees, could risk lives in the New Orleans Superdome, could overwhelm rescuers.  The AP releasing excerpts earlier this evening.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Everyone, let's go ahead and get started.  It's noon. 

We have a lot of business to cover today. 

BUSH:  I do want to thank the good folks in offices of Louisiana and Alabama and Mississippi for listening to these warnings and preparing your citizens for this huge storm.  I want to assure folks at the state level that we are fully prepared to not only help you during the storm, but we will move in whatever resources and assets we have at our disposal after the storm to help you deal with the loss of property and we pray for no loss of life, of course.

MAX MAYFIELD, NAT'L HURRICANE CENTER:  So if the really strong winds clip Lake Pontchartrain that's going to pile some of that water from Lake Pontchartrain over on the south side of the lake.  I don't think anybody can tell with you any confidence right now whether the levees will be topped or not, but that is obviously a very, very grave concern. 

MICHAEL BROWN, THEN FEMA DIRECTOR:  My gut tells me I told you guys, my gut was that this is a bad one and a big one and you heard Max's comments.  I still feel that way today.  I also heard there is no—mandatory evacuations are not taking (AUDIO GAP), getting prisoners out of prisons and they're leaving hotels open in downtown New Orleans, so I'm very concerned about that.

As you may or may not know the Superdome (AUDIO GAP) about 12 feet below level, so I don't know what the heck (AUDIO GAP) and I also (AUDIO GAP) that roof.  I don't know whether that roof is designed to withstand a category five hurricane.  Kind of gross here, but I'm concerned about EMDS and medical and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) assets and their respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe.  (AUDIO GAP) if I could get some sort of insight into what's going on in that superdome I think it would be very, very helpful. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  A heck of a job.  In the days after the storm other evidence revealing federal officials were slow to realize they did not have sufficient resources to deal with the unfolding disaster.  And as we mentioned, at least one day of tapes had been there for the taking all along, released by FEMA the day they were recorded, August 28 of last year, a day before the storm hit, a so-called hand-out tape. 

The Associated Press feeding excerpts out to news organization on its 24-hour service that day recorded by this network and others that only truly uncovered six months later.  The evidence flying in the face of what President Bush had said days in an ABC News interview only days after the storm hit as well as what he was saying on that network just last night. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. 

Here's the problem that happened in Katrina.  There was no situational awareness.  And that means that we weren't getting good, solid information from people who were on the ground. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  That does not appear to be true.  Mr. Bush, some 8,300 miles from the city of New Orleans right now in New Delhi tonight after a surprise stop over in Afghanistan.  A safe bet that the controversy will follow the president to India halfway around the globe.

Let's call in “Newsweek” magazine's senior White House correspondent Richard Wolf, who joins us from Washington.  Good evening, Richard. 

RICHARD WOLFFE, “NEWSWEEK” SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  Keith, good evening. 

OLBERMANN:  Is it possible at this point to assess the potential impact of these tapes? 

WOLFFE:  Well, it's all damaging as this sort of dribbles out, the whole story.  You've got to put it in some context first of all.  Before the storm made landfall, the White House and FEMA thought that their duty was to try and get this mandatory evacuation through New Orleans.  Once that was complete, essentially they felt that they had discharged their duty.  The president spoke on those tapes about moving in assets as quickly as possible. 

But they weren't pre-positioned.  They weren't ready to move.  They weren't ready to come in right behind the storm.  And that was a huge problem in the delay in cleaning up afterwards.  So that's one problem he has.  The second problem is you know there are e-mails coming out now, reports, transcripts, which clearly show that when the levees were breached, in spite of all these warnings, in spite of all this discussion, it didn't register with the White House.

The White House official dealing with it simply left his post at 10:00 p.m.  the day after the storm landed and basically went to bed.  Nobody thought that it was worth finding out whether the reports were true or not.  So all of these things really raise very troubling questions about whether they basically just thought the job was done way too early. 

OLBERMANN:  A third one, the post Katrina spin about how the White House responded seems to be largely contradicted, erased if you will, by what we just heard on a minute and a half or two minutes of that tape.  What kind of impact is that going to have on this government's credibility at this point? 

WOLFFE:  I don't know that they can take too much more of a hit.  I mean this has already pushed the president's ratings down as far as they have ever been.  And the fact that they've gone down to where they were after Katrina again, it just tells you, this administration is really sort of bumping along the bottom there on the polls. 

But there are serious questions about competence.  You know one of the interesting patents (ph) here is basically the White House said in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane we don't do operational stuff.  It's up to the state and local folks who've made many of their own mistakes.  They made plenty of mistakes.  But this is something they also said about Iraq. 

We don't do operational things.  And when the president talks about situational awareness, again that's one of the problems we've seen in Iraq.  Does the president get a full report or does he find that basically far too late in the day. 

OLBERMANN:  Today we seem to have what is either an incredible coincidence about this or an incredibly swift spin response.  About an hour after the AP story about the video, suddenly there is a transcript of a conference call from August 29 the day that the storm actually hit. 

Your Web site, Newsweek.com, says the source that they got it from White House officials.  In the transcript the FEMA director, Mr. Brown, said he talked to the president twice that day, the day it hit describing Mr. Bush is very engaged, on top of things.  But are these the same documents that the White House had claimed it could not release to the Senate hearings about Katrina? 

WOLFFE:  They are and that's a troubling thing.  I mean it's a bit like the “Scooter” Libby case.  The documents seem to pop up.  There are plenty of people working on document production, by the way, in the White House.  Some of them were distracted from the Harriet Miers nomination because they were producing documents.  So you know it's troubling that they are coming out in this way. 

It's also obviously a bad—from the White House's own P.R. perspective.  But more importantly, it shows look on the day I can understand there was confusion, but the president and his senior aides didn't say hold on a minute.  We can't even reach the mayor of New Orleans.  We need communications.  We need a real report of what's going on. 

Instead they just said well it's kind of confusing.  Let's wait and see what happens.  And those delays in those first few hours are really critical.  Again, they don't deserve all the blame, but in a problem of this magnitude they really had a special responsibility. 

OLBERMANN:  And again as we said, as Richard Nixon always said, you can be excused for almost any crime, if you will, or failure or error of omission or commission, but if there is tape of you not doing the job and then afterwards boasting that you have done everything that you could do, that's almost as bad as the actual malfeasance or misfeasance, is it not? 

WOLFFE:  Well there is this credibility incompetence question that is hovering around the president and his senior aides right now, which is affecting everything from his personal favorability ratings to his job approval and it feeds into many other problems the administration has in terms of its agenda moving forward.  So yes, the tape is a problem.  Pictures are always a problem. 

OLBERMANN:  “Newsweek” senior White House correspondent Richard Wolffe.  As always thanks for joining us.  I think we'll be talking about this one again. 

WOLFFE:  Any time. 

OLBERMANN:  The port controversy, meantime, not only giving the current

president a political black eye, also causing a potential split at least

politically between the former president and a possible future candidate

for that office, his own wife, makings of a soap opera here.  Bill Clinton

saying after a speech to the National Governors Association in Washington -

·         quote—“I have a high opinion of UAE, it would be United Arab Emirates, and Dubai in particular.  They are trying to build a new Middle East.  They really are.”

And he stopped short of criticizing his wife and the other Democrats who opposed the deal with Dubai Ports World saying there should be a 45-day review of the company.  His spouse, Senator Hillary Clinton, once again reiterating her support for that review, standing today with fellow Democrats to urge the deal be rigorously scrutinized before it is either accepted or rejected. 

Of course at the center of this political firestorm, the tiny gulf federation known as the United Arab Emirates.  Continuing questions tonight about whether it is a friend or a foe. 

Andrea Mitchell now with a look at our history with the owners of the Dubai Ports World company. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 

This is modern Dubai.  Host to world class golf, champion tennis, the world's richest horse race and giant indoor ski resort. 

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  But this is also Dubai.  For years a center of terror financing including most of the money transferred to the 9/11 hijackers. 

BRIAN JENKINS, RAND CORP., TERRORISM EXPERT:  This is a tiny country in a very rough neighborhood.  And so its ability to fly in the face of a lot of things that are going on in that area is somewhat limited. 

MITCHELL:  According to the 9/11 Commission, Dubai did little to address the problem of money laundering and was home to two of the terrorists who flew into the Twin Towers. 

TIM ROEMER, FORMER 9/11 COMMISSION MEMBER:  We should be concerned that they had a woefully inadequate tracking system on terrorism prior to 9/11. 

MITCHELL:  But since 9/11, U.S. officials and outside experts say Dubai has cracked down and provides a critical military base for the U.S. 

LEE HAMILTON, FORMER 9/11 COMMISSION CO-CHAIR:  They have become quite a strong ally of the United States in terms of the war on terrorism. 

MITCHELL:  But another problem, rampant smuggling through Dubai's port.  In this criminal complain obtained by NBC News, the U.S. contends that the country's director of customs would not allow a U.S. special agent to detain a shipment of nuclear equipment heading to Pakistan in 2003 and is still permitting nuclear equipment to get to Iran. 

GARY MILHOLLIN, NUCLEAR EXPERT:  Unless Dubai is willing to impose restrictions on what Iran can buy, there's no hope of stopping the Iranian bomb program. 

MITCHELL:  Most recently, the Coast Guard raised concerns in December that the U.S. still has intelligence gaps about Dubai. 

(on camera):  The Coast Guard says that's been resolved.  U.S.  officials concede Dubai has had a mixed record since 2001 but say it's government may not have known about the smuggling. 

(voice-over):  If so, critics say that raises new questions about Dubai's control over its own territory and whether it should be trusted to run American ports. 

Andrea Mitchell, NBC News, Washington. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  And then there's the breach of trust in England.  First a kidnapping, then the theft of $92 million, now the first arrests, the astounding identity of the man investigators think is the mastermind.

And the astounding figure half a million dollars, the CBS suit against Howard Stern, legal doubts tonight about the merits of the network's argument.

You're watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Did a multimillionaire love his riches so much that he decided he had to have some more, 92 million more.  Charges tonight one of the biggest bank heists ever, putting a very well off couple behind bars, blockbuster details tonight from Great Britain.  That's next. 

This is COUNTDOWN. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Ninety-two million dollar robberies just ain't what they used to be.  Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN, a week and most of the day after the world's biggest robbery ever in peacetime, three people have now been charged with stealing 92 million from a British bank depot and kidnapping the depot manager and his family. 

And as Paul Davies of our affiliate the British network ITV reports, one of those suspects is himself a millionaire car dealer whose farmhouse is at the center of the police investigation. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL DAVIES, ITV REPORTER (voice-over):  Detectives have now spent three days searching Eldon (ph) farm, the biggest single police operation since last week's 53 million pound robbery.  But all that time there's been considerable speculation about the farm's owner, John Fowler. 

This evening police confirmed Mr. Fowler and his wife Lynn (ph) pictured here on a recent holiday in Spain are both in custody.  It's understood millionaire car dealer John Fowler was arrested on Sunday in dramatic circumstances when the tires of the blue BMW in which he was traveling was shot out by police officers. 

As he is being questioned, detectives have been searching and digging on his land.  Bags have been recovered and taken away.  Police won't say whether any of the stolen money has been found.  So what do we know about this wealthy car dealer? 

He is a millionaire businessman who has owned several car dealerships.  In the early 1990's his businesses collapsed.  He now buys and sells cars from his farm and continues to live a lavish lifestyle with properties in England and Spain.

He was seen enjoying a drink with his family at the village pub as recently as last Friday.  Tonight as villagers discovered why John Fowler hasn't visited his local for the last few days police have been removing more items they found at his farm. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  ITV's Paul Davies reporting.

An entirely different meaning to the word robbery tonight, Buck O'Neil bypassed by voters in his last opportunity to make the Baseball Hall of Fame, forever in good spirits and advising us to calm down.  He joins us tonight. 

And a little reminder, when you get into an office argument don't do it by e-mail.  The he said or he typed/she typed between two lawyers has now made its way around the world thanks to the many Internets.  You'll meet them both ahead on COUNTDOWN. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  We are told on this day in 1784 one E. Kidner opened the first ever cooking school, at least in England.  For all we know this is an Internet rumor or the result of a typo made by somebody's great-great grandfather, but if true, it's notable tonight because from the “Weird File” this evening we start with something cooking schools were in part created to prevent, fires in inconvenient places, not the kitchen, mind you. 

Let's play “Oddball”.  We begin outside of Wichita, Kansas, where local residents knew this day would have to come.  They had hoped against hope it would not, but deep down each one of them knew it was only a matter of time until fire broke out at the place where they keep all the Porta Potties.

(UNINTELLIGIBLE) the smoke and smell for more than 250 burned-out johnnies on the spot still blanketed the area this morning.  Officials say the blaze seems to have been set deliberately.  Why?  Why?  No suspects yet, but who could blame a guy for lighting a match in one of those things? 

In New York, some of the greatest icons of hip-hop were gathered in one room today.  They were wheeling, dealing.  They got a funny feeling they rocked the floor up to the ceiling and also donated items to the Smithsonian's new rap wing (ph) at the Museum of American History in Washington.  Yes, the same building that houses Benjamin Franklin's three-piece suit and Helen Keller's watch will now also feature grandmaster flashes '80's error (ph) techniques turntable, some of Ice-T's dirty laundry and a fez hat worn by (UNINTELLIGIBLE).  I have an old (UNINTELLIGIBLE) set if you guys need it. 

Also tonight, what happens when there is too much hip and not enough hop?  Which famous baseball player is dressed up as Paula Abdul and why?  And your announcer says he's quitting to work elsewhere when his contract is up.  You keep him on the air anyway.  Then after he leaves you sue him for having promoted his new show? 

The half a million-dollar suit against Howard Stern had some doubt about it hanging together legally.  The story is ahead. 

Now here are COUNTDOWN's top three newsmakers for this day.  Number three, a woman in Charlotte, North Carolina, she claims the local utility let the pressure back up in her sewer line causing her toilet to explode.  Her name kind of makes it worse if that's possible, Marilyn Colon, C-O-L-O-N. 

Number two, Fazal Ur Rehman sentenced to eight months in jail in Nicosia, Cyprus.  He had done a beautiful job forging an Afghan passport except for leaving the first “N” out of the word government and writing menistry, not ministry.  A lesson to you kids, even in forgery spelling counts. 

And number one, Dan Patrick and his faithful side kick, what's his name.  Our radio show went on the air in Atlanta today on 680, The Fan.  So what, you say?  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) True except for this additional fact.  The Dan Patrick show has on that station replaced the Bill O'Reilly show. 

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC ANCHOR, COUNTDOWN:  In the news industry the videotaped image is legendary. After the 6:00 news one night a Philadelphia television station fired anchorman Patrick Emory during the update from the newsroom while his co-anchor Beverly Williams around 9:00 p.m. a figure was seen in the background slowing carrying out boxes of personal belongings.  It was Patrick Emory.  

The third story on the COUNTDOWN. The antidote is more than a just a reminder to stay on your own side of this TV screen for your own safety. It underscores a maxim as old as broadcasting itself. Never let somebody you fired or somebody who is going to quit stay on your air. Lame ducks might say anything. Thus the mystification in much of radio and TV today.   Why is CBS suing Howard Stern for allegedly damaging it while he was a lame duck instead of having simply told him to pack up like Patrick Emory? Some legal thoughts on that in a moment.   

First a refresher on the details. A suit claims that Stern breached his contract by not disclosing his plans, particularly his stock options with Sirius Satellite Radio to his then employer CBS radio, soon enough. That he misappropriated CBS Radio airtime about promoting his move to Sirius for more than a year. The suit, which Stern says is a personal vendetta by CBS honcho Les Moonvies, also alleges that Stern refuses to return old shows owned by CBS radio. His own old shows or are we talking tapes of Arthur Godfree here? Stern's attorney Peter Parcher says CBS could have punished Stern during the 14 months after he had given them notice of his new gig.  

Quoting him they had the ability to cut portions of his broadcast if they wanted to he told the L.A. Times.  Anybody who wasn't living under a rock knew that Howard was going to Sirius and that if Sirius did well Howard would also do well.  

I am joined now by criminal defense attorney Joe Tacopina. Joe good evening. 

JOE TACOPINA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Hi Keith how are you?  OLBERMANN:  I'm not following the CBS argument here are you? 

TACOPINA:  Not really. I mean I think this law suit could be dismissed in the summary judgment stage   which means before it's even litigated, before there are depositions taken because quite frankly you know CBS here created these damages by really amping up the attention brought to it putting him on “60 Minutes” putting him on Letterman and now they want to collect off the damages they seem to have created.

OLBERMANN:  I was reminded the other day that I have signed 15 contracts in my broadcasting career and not one of them can I remember a clause that allowed me to force my employer to put me on the air. As long as they paid me they could lock me in the cellar for all I have to say about it and at least one of them did. How legally is CBS claiming that it had no control over what Stern said or even that he was on their air?

TACOPINA:  You know I honestly believe Keith this is a lawsuit driven by an executive, the power to be over at CBS, I don't think the lawyers believe in this. But you know sometimes they take marching orders. If you look at what they're saying it's just ridiculous. They knew 14 months in advance he was leaving.  He was talking about it, they let him speak about it, and they sold a record amount of advertising in that time period by doing mostly commercials during the last year of his show. So as I say they cashed in on this, as   well. Now they just want to try and get a little bit more, it seems. 

OLBERMANN:  Joe, I also don't get what the stock bonus has to do with it.  Until he left their air, they did not tell him, or he did not tell them. Is that alone enough to make a case for fraud that he fraudulently concealed interest in stock? Does it not go without saying as he pointed out, that if he's going to another company he wants that other company to succeed?

TACOPINA:  Absolutely. I read the complaint.  I looked at the law. I don't see how they are going to sustain that charge. There's nothing fraudulent about him getting compensated for future work that is going to be done and if target markets are reached, and there is a target audience that is reached and numbers are met theirs is absolutely nothing wrong with him being compensated. That's not against his contract.  He was allowed to leave and he did leave and he told them about it and they raked in the advertising income in the last year in record proportions. 

OLBERMANN:  Contractually, if somebody is harming you legally and your contract gives you the absolute power to stop them from harming you and you choose not to for 14 months, to any degree are you waiving your rights to sue them for damages afterwards? Is there not some sort of equivalent of entrapment in doing otherwise?

TACOPINA:  In the civil area Keith, what it is called is mitigation.  You have a duty as a plaintiff, who has aggrieved to mitigate your damages, to try to not let the damages spiral out of control. Here not only did CBS not attempt to mitigate damages by like you say pulling him off the air or at least editing his program or telling him he can't do that anymore and locking him in a room, like you said, they not only did not mitigate, they sort of cashed in on it by rolling him out to all the CBS programs. Again Letterman, “60 Minutes,” sold record amount of advertising. So no there is a legal obligation for them to mitigate.  They did not mitigate. They exceeded as far as going forward and trying to take in the advertising dollar. 

OLBERMANN:  If he's hurting them, you just switch him to another job and make him do the weather at 4:00 in the morning or something.

The criminal defense attorney Joe Tacopina. Thanks for your time and insights. 

TACOPINA:  Thanks Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Coming up we'll show you the faces behind the dueling fingers, the great law office e-mail controversy.  The e-mail exchange read around the world.

One of the greatest ambassadors of sport, Buck O'Neil joins us to talk about the Hall of Fame Baseball election that bypassed him. He is the one saying the rest of us should not be angry about this. The COUNTDOWN continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Ever thought that under a mountain in the Colorado somewhere is a giant vault containing every e-mail ever written. A lawyer and his would-be hire has reason to believe that tonight.  That story ahead.

Also baseball legend Buck O'Neil he insists we shouldn't be upset that at age 94 the Baseball Hall of Fame   bypassed him for election. He'll join us ahead here on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  You may assume that the fact that your private e-mail correspondents could wind up in the national media is an new and unhappy fact of 21st century technology. Not necessarily. The renounced journalist and television news caster Linda Elerbea frequently recounts the day she sat at her computer in the Dallas bureau of the Associated Press clinking out a letter to a friend that she simply intended to print out and stick in a mailbox. In it she complained about her boyfriend, the city of Dallas, the city council of Dallas, the Vietnam War and of course her employers at the Associated Press.

She hit what she though was the print button and promptly sent the letter out on the AP wire to virtually every newspaper and radio and television station in the country. This was in 1972. Our number two story in the COUNTDOWN, the saga of Dianna Abdala and William Korman is not exactly identical to that of Linda Elerbea. But as COUNTDOWN's Monica Novotny is here to report it does remind us that the number of wrong buttons you can push at your computer has apparently now reached 100 percent.

Good evening Monica. 

MONICA NOVOTNY, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Keith good evening. It started out it simply enough. A 24-year-old law school graduate interviews with an established Boston attorney for her first job. But their discussions lead to an unfriendly e-mail exchange that makes it around the world and back to their own in boxes in just a matter of days. Begging the question who is sorry now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DIANA ABDALA:  He hasn't apologized and neither have I.  I don't intend.

WILLIAM KORMAN:  I certainly don't intend on apologizing. 

NOVOTNY:  On that they agree. There was a job opening and then a job offering. But what happened next? 

ABDALA:  It was left, as I need to think about this a little bit further.

And I will get back to you. 

KORMAN:   She absolutely accepted the position at that time.

NOVOTNY:  That's the beginning of an e-mail battle that in just a few weeks time has generated worldwide water cooler chatter.  Diana Abdala kicked off the exchange after interviewing with a perspective employer William Korman.  She wrote, the pay you are offering would neither fulfill me nor support the lifestyle I'm living. 

KORMAN:  The fact that she chose to convey this to me via e-mail smacked of unprofessional conduct.

NOVOTNY:  Korman's response, “I am surprised that you chose an email to convey this information to me. It smacks of immaturity and is quite unprofessional. Indeed, I did rely upon your acceptance by ordering stationary and business cards with your name, reformatting a computer and setting up both internal and external emails for you. 

ABDALA:  I got an e-mail in essence whining.

NOVOTNY:  Her responsible, “A real lawyer would have put the contract into writing and not exercised any such reliance until he did so.

KORMAN:  She then insults me. That is outrageous, it's unbelievable.

NOVOTNY:  Korman fired back. “Thank you for the refresher course on contracts. You need to realize that this is a very small legal community.  Do you really want to start pissing off more experienced lawyers at this early stage of your career?”

ABDALA:  Those statements he made, I think are obvious to indicate a threat. 

KORMAN:  The goal certainly wasn't to threaten her in any way, shape, or form. 

NOVOTNY:  Either way Abdala closed the back and forth with a final rite thought.

ABDALA:  Blah-blah-blah is has always been a favorite of mine, and I thought it was appropriate in that context. It thought I was dealing with a child.

KORMAN:  It really was the icing on the cake. 

NOVOTNY:  Korman forwarded the exchange to a friend who did the same, who did the same. Ultimately entertaining countless readers and both lawyers say they wouldn't change a thing.

ABDALA:  I think he deserved what I wrote. And many people think that I have maintained my lady likeness very well.

KORMAN:  I read that she is now the most famous 24-year-old lawyer out there. I wish her the best of luck.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NOVOTNY:  Both attorneys say they received hundreds of e-mails from readers throughout the world and both say they have for the most part been supported. Now as for the possibility of negative publicity, neither is   concerned. In fact Ms. Abdala says whether she has considered famous or notorious after all this it doesn't much matter to her. In fact she is working with the help of her father a little private funding, she started up on her own, so she is working for herself. 

OLBERMANN:  Your next assignment the e-mail exchange from Mike Brown to President Bush. Go at it.  COUNTDOWN's Monica Novotny. Thanks.

Of course you don't have to send an e-mail to start a controversy. You can do it the old fashioned way on a telethon. Kanye West providing our segue into the world of celebrity and entertainment news in our nightly round up of keeping tabs. A new mess touching singer tonight this time it is during concert near Birmingham, England. A fan tried to get in without a ticket and was ejected. He returned with guns blazing, he shot two stewards, wounding one of them seriously. Police have now arrested two people and the stadium is reviewing its security arrangements.

Speaking of troubled performers you have heard of the possible side effects of steroids?  Now some male athletes have experienced surges of feminine characteristics. That's Barry Bonds his spring training opens for the San Francisco Giants in Arizona. He shed his cleats and uniform though and perhaps something else as well for this to become American idol judge Paula Abdulla complete with black dress, wig, and jewelry.

The Panamine acting drag all done for charity as his team held a Giant's Idol singing competition among the rookies. The resemblance uncanny if Paula Abdulla were to grow about a foot in each direction. So we don't know about the steroids, but Barry Bonds has today tested positive for hair extensions.

Something else a lot of us never thought we would see in baseball.  Seventeen immortals for the old knee grow leagues. Finally elected to the Hall of Fame but the ambassador for those leagues, for all of baseball Buck O'Neil not among them. Buck O'Neil who keeps telling the rest of us not to be so upset about this joins us live next.

First time (INAUDIBLE) caught fire. Firefighters showed up so he attacked them with a sword. Fortunately the police showed up with a stun gun. Stun gun won, sword nothing. He's under arrest.

Tonight's runner up Fox News again I will say this again I should send them a check every week for all the material they hand us. An onscreen graphic today during Kahooto's (ph) show, “Civil War in Iraq made up by the media?”  We also made up all those dead Iraqi's and the blown-up mosque.

But tonight's winner, speaking of photo shops Nancy Grace of CNN's “Headline News” for years she's openly spoken of the murder of her fianc’ when she was 19 and how it set her on her career path, whatever her career is actually.  She has always said that man was shot five times by a stranger with a long rap sheet for the $35 he had in his wallet. The murderer denied any involvement. She had to live thought a series of painful appeals and thus lawyers are devils.

The “New York Observer” reports today that the record show Grace's fianc’ was in fact shot by a former co-worker who had no prior convictions, who confessed the night he was arrested, who didn't get the   death penalty because he was mildly retarded and oh by the way the man never appealed his conviction. Padding the story of the murder of your fianc’e, Nancy Grace.  Today's worst person in the world.      

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Ten years ago next Sunday I got to meet and sit down with one of the most extraordinary people I have ever met. In his long life he has been an athlete, a team manager, a scout, a mentor, an educator, a historian and recently an ambassador for his sport. Most particularly in a Ken Burns documentary about baseball from the mid 90's a decade ago. Buck O'Neil and I did an interview largely about Jackie Robinson and the history of baseball and race and what had been done in that area to correct the mistakes of the past.

Our number one story in the COUNTDOWN tonight, will we be doing another interview here in a moment talking about what many perceive as the mistakes of the present. As Jason Whitlock wrote in the “Kansas City Star” this morning. The baseball Hall of Fame needed Buck O'Neil far more than Buck O'Neil needed the Baseball Hall of Fame. If you have not heard that Hall of Fame largely thought the courteous but persisant prodding of people like Buck O'Neil held one final vote results announced the day before yesterday to honor those whose careers were largely or entirely limited to the old Negro leagues. Before Jackie Robinson broke the baseball color barrier in 1947 and before Buck O'Neil broke a second color barrier when he became the first man of color to become a coach with the Chicago Cubs 15 years later.

It was assumed that O'Neil and former Chicago White Sox's star Minnie Minoso would finally be elected to the Hall of Fame, they were not 17 others were. The committee members refused to explain who voted for or against these men, it was a yes or no vote on each candidate. They did not either explain their rationales for their votes.  Many of us erupted in anger, but not Buck himself. He said the committee did its best, he was happy that so many of his peers and predecessors were finally given their due and since all of them had already passed away he volunteered to speak on their behalf at the induction ceremonies in Cooperstown, New York this summer. 

Before bringing Buck in let me read a little more of what Jason Whitlock wrote this morning in the “Kansas City Star.”  He is no victim today twelve historian who never saw him play cannot define Buck O'Neil legacy. A selection process that doesn't take into account the spirit of love that sweeps every baseball stadium Buck graces cannot define Buck O'Neil's legacy. The Baseball Hall of Fame has the problem, not Buck or the people who love Buck.

Buck O'Neil joins us now from Kansas City. How are you, sir?

BUCK O'NEIL:  I am fine. 

OLBERMANN:  There are a lot of us in the Buck O'Neil fan club who are or who were really angry or really broken hearted that the election turned out the way it did. But you very obviously and very publicly are not. Why aren't you? 

O'NEIL:  I'm a little disappointed that I didn't get in, but I think the people that was on that committee did the voting, they were voting just what they thought it should be. I can't hold that against anyone. I did have a chance you know. If I hadn't had a chance, now I would have been bitter, like, oh, I couldn't attend Sarasota High School. They didn't give me a chance. But with this, they gave me a chance to get into the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown. I just didn't make it.

OLBERMANN:  On a program last night I interviewed a young man that you know, Mr. Ernie Banks who was your shot stop at the Kansas City Monarchs just about 56 years ago.  And he said something I would like to play it and then I would like to get your reaction to what he said. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERNIE BANKS, BASEBALL HALL OF FAME MEMBER:  Keith, I was totally disappointed in the results of this vote. I'm in the Hall of Fame because of Buck O'Neil. I spent many time and many years with him. He's a scout and a teacher. He saw something in me when I first arrived with the Kansas City Monarchs that I didn't see in myself. He's that type of person.  He can really pull the skills that a person has out.  I love this man. He's a great human being.  I'm totally disappointed he didn't make it into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  So Buck Ernie says you got him in the Hall of Fame, you got Lou Brock in the Hall of Fame too and he said really that you got all those 17 people who got in on Monday into the Hall of Fame when you didn't and Ernie says he's totally disappointed you are not going in. I agree with him, many of us agree with him. What do you suggest those of us admire you do about our disappointment? 

O'NEIL:  I don't know what you can do.  Really, as far as me going in to Cooperstown.  But I thank all of you that you feel the way that you feel. I feel that I could be in Cooperstown.  I think I put the numbers down   -- I put the numbers up that would lead you into the Hall of Fame. A lot of people there are talking about the other things I accomplished off the field, which is wonderful, but listen, I could play. I played a year and made one error. I hit the ball, I just happened to be a line drive hitter, not the home run hitter.  But I drove in the runs; I could do all these things. 

But I think, you know, with me, my greatest accomplishment might have been starting the Negro League Baseball Museum here in Kansas City, which tells that story.  So, if it's to be one day I might be in the Hall of Fame. But I just want to thank all of the people that felt the way that they are feeling right now. But don't weep for Buck. Just feel happy, like I am, being thankful, like I am, that I can do and have done the things that I did do.

OLBERMANN:  I'm not going to try to talk you out of being OK with this. If this cup is half full, god bless you we could learn a lot of that from you.  But I do want to ask you this, Ernie Banks said last night that he thinks the work of that special committee is not done yet, that it should not be disbanded and it has more people to elect and honor from the Negro leagues and whether it is Cannonball Dick Redding or it's John Donnellson or it is Minnie Monsoso or it is Buck O'Neil should there be another vote next year? 

O'NEIL:  Now, had I been elected, I was going to preach. Because I think everybody was on that list was qualified should be in the Hall of Fame, really.  And that's what I was going to preach if I had been in. But now I can't preach that because they would be thinking I'm just preaching for Buck O'Neil. 

OLBERMANN:  I don't think anybody would ever think that. I've been asking for three nights now if the voters who did not vote for you or for Minnie Minoso, would identify themselves and at least explain what they were thinking. The voters all say they have been asked by the Hall of Fame to keep their voting confidential, Hall of Fame spokesman told me that's not true. They can talk if they want to. Do you have an opinion about that?  Should they explain why they did or did not vote for anybody in particular including you?

O'NEIL:  They should if they wanted to. If they wanted to explain why they didn't vote for Buck, yes, they should, they should have that privilege to do or not to do.  But I don't see why they wouldn't explain why they didn't.  I don't know why they would or wouldn't. But we'll see. Maybe somebody will come and say something after while.

OLBERMANN:  Let me ask you before we go about the great star of the Chicago White Sox Minnie Monoso who didn't get to play in the majors until he was 28. Basically because of first cousin barrier, then because of quota system.  Sixth highest batting average from 1951 to 1963. And just like you a great ambassador for the game, if you are not mad about Buck O'Neil not getting into the Hall of Fame are you mad about Minnie Minoso not getting into the Hall of Fame?

O'NEIL:  I don't think Minnie should have been on this ballot, the Negro league ballet. Minnie Minoso should be on the major league ballet. He played in the Negro league maybe two years. But he put up the numbers in the major leagues and I think he should go in the Hall of Fame on that committee. 

OLBERMANN:  As you put up the numbers with the Kansas City Monarchs both as a player and a manager. Buck I said this 10 years ago when we sat down to talk about Jackie Robinson and I will say it again. It's an honor just to know you sir and thank you for everything you have done for baseball, thank you for everything you have done for this country. 

O'NEIL:  The pleasure is all mine and I thank you very much for having old Buck on here to talk a little. 

OLBERMANN:  By the way, I'm still going to push to get you in the Hall of Fame anyway. 

O'NEIL:  Don't stop. Keep it up. 

OLBERMANN:  Thank you, sir.

O'NEIL:  You're welcome.

OLBERMANN:  That's COUNTDOWN for this the 1,035 day since the declaration of Mission Accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

END   

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