JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. Another spy scandal, but this time, the target is you and 200 million of your closest friends, as Big Brother becomes the proud owner of all your private phone bills. And “The New York Times” takes on Oprah, saying the skin products she‘s hawking can cause medical problems. Is the TV queen in hot water again? Then “American Idol” shocker, as Keith just said. The odds-on favorite is dumped from the show, a crazy ending to America‘s crazed obsession to the show. Forget Bush v. Gore. Now it‘s Cat (ph) v. Chris (ph), and “Idol” fans are demanding a recount.
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. No passport required, no domestic spying allowed.
We‘re going to have those stories in a minute, but first: Big Brother is listening. No, really, he is listening, and he‘s tracking every phone call that you make. That shocking revelation revealed today when the details of yet another secret government spying program were revealed in a front-page screamer in the “USA Today.”
Now, for liberals who‘ve long been going against almost all of these issues to defend privacy, the news has to be disturbing. But no less so the conservatives who have fought national ID cards and gun registration for years out of fear of big government.
Now, whatever you consider yourself, friends, you should be afraid. You should be very afraid. With over 200 million Americans targeted, this domestic spying program is so widespread, it is so random, it is so far removed from focusing on al Qaeda suspects that the president was talking about today, that it‘s hard to imagine any intelligence program in U.S. history being so susceptible to abuse.
You know, I served on the Judiciary Committee and the Armed Service Committee in Congress for four years, and no program I studied while using security clearances ever came close to the scope of this massive spy program. It is dangerous, it breaks FCC laws, and it endangers all Americans‘ right to privacy.
But you know what? The villains in this spy program are pretty easy to target, almost as easy as your phone records. First you have the president, who‘s shown that he will break laws if they get in his way of spying. Second, Democratic leaders—they complain now, but where were they? They reviewed the program. Why no protest? Don‘t hold your press conferences now, Nancy Pelosi. Tell us about it when you learn about it!
And finally, the phone companies, who actually profited from the government reading all of your phone bills. They should be sued and their CEOs fired.
Hey, memo to the president and congressional leaders who signed up on this lousy program; We don‘t trust you anymore. We don‘t trust you with our phone bills. We don‘t trust you with our bank records. We don‘t trust you with our medical histories. From now on, if you want to look at Americans‘ private records, get a damn search warrant!
But to dig deeper into this program that‘s created the largest database in world history, let‘s turn first to NBC‘s senior investigative correspondent, Lisa Myers—Lisa.
LISA MYERS, NBC SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Joe, even though key members of Congress had been briefed on this secret program, there was a firestorm today on Capitol Hill. Members of both parties demanded information.
(voice-over): U.S. officials confirmed that the NSA has secretly collected the phone records of tens of millions Americans, detailed information on almost every call made and received within the United States for about the last three years.
BILL ARKIN, NBC NEWS ANALYST: NSA has it all. It knows when it took place, how long the call lasted and how often you call your mother-in-law.
MYERS: Officials say NSA is not listening to or recording conversations but using massive computers to analyze the data, including e-mail traffic, looking for patterns that might reveal terrorist links or a sleeper cell in the U.S. The information is being provided by the three largest telecommunications companies—AT&T, Verizon and Bellsouth—with 200 million customers. An industry official said only Qwest has refused to cooperate with the government.
Today, the president argued this isn‘t about snooping into people‘s lives, abut about keeping them safe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My efforts are focused on links to al Qaeda and their known affiliates.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: Look at this headline.
MYERS: But Democratic senator Patrick Leahy called the level of spying on innocent Americans frightening.
LEAHY: Are you telling me that tens of millions of Americans are involved with al Qaeda?
MYERS: And House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi pounced on the headline, even though she had been briefed long ago.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: I‘ve been briefed on some of this. I don‘t know everything that went into that disclosure, but I think it‘s alarming.
MYERS: Some defended the program.
SEN. JON KYL ®, ARIZONA: This is nuts. We are in a war, and we‘ve got to collect intelligence on the enemy.
MYERS: The disclosure could complicate the nomination of former NSA head General Michael Hayden to become CIA director. He was one of the architects of the program, and today, he tried to calm the waters.
GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN, NSA: Everything that NSA does is lawful and very carefully done.
MYERS: Some experts agree that the program, if conducted properly, is legal. But some warn there is also great potential for abuse.
One source tells NBC News that two dozen members of Congress have known about the program for years and had been completely uninterested until today—Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, thanks so much, Lisa.
Now let‘s bring in NBC counterterrorism analyst Roger Cressey. So Roger, these phone companies are actually under contract with the government, and they willingly have turned over information about the phone calls of 200 million Americans. Yet today, we see the president walk out in the White House, give a press conference, and say they‘re really only focussing on al Qaeda. Are we to believe there are 200 million members of al Qaeda in the United States? Doesn‘t seem like it‘s narrowly tailored, does it?
ROGER CRESSEY, NBC COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: No, not at all. The real headline today, Joe, is your data is for sale. The phone companies can sell your data. They‘ve done it in the past. They‘ll continue to do so. Any type of privacy issue we, as Americans, have, what we‘re seeing today should be a wake-up call for them. Now...
SCARBOROUGH: Roger, what are about this—we‘ve heard throughout the day, though, some people saying that there‘s an FCC law out there that forbids these phone companies from selling these records.
CRESSEY: Well, if there is, they‘ve violated it for years. I mean, your phone data is not something that you own. The phone companies own it. Data marketing companies buy it. So it is out there, available already.
From a terrorism perspective, Joe, I think if the government wants to
create a database of all known called numbers, and in the event they get
actionable intelligence regarding some other number, they then can cross-
reference that against this database, if they see a specific threat. That
in and of itself is understandable. The problem, of course, is one of perception. This coming so soon after the domestic surveillance revelation, people are drawing the conclusion that the White House is overstepping its boundaries. And now we‘re going to have a lot of investigation on it.
SCARBOROUGH: And Roger, there‘s also, of course, a problem with unintended consequences. You start here, saying, OK, well, all we‘re going do is target al Qaeda members. If somebody calls them, we‘re going to look at their other phone records, cross check them, see if they‘re a danger to American security or not.
But what happens when, all of a sudden, these phone records become available for people who are investigating, let‘s say, you, if the IRS decides they‘re going to look at last year‘s phone records? All of a sudden, the feds are able to cross-reference this massive database, and all of a sudden, they‘re not using it for terrorism, they‘re using it against you or me, or God forbid, as Republicans charged Bill Clinton in the 1990s, using federal information to go against political enemies. All of a sudden, this gets very dangerous, doesn‘t it. It‘s a slippery slope.
CRESSEY: Well, you just took the words out of my mouth. It is a slippery slope. So this is a question of confidence and trust in the administration that they won‘t allow those abuses to happen. And right now, in this political environment, Joe, I think everyone agrees that that confidence is not there.
The National Security Agency will always share information with other federal agencies, if it‘s requested and it conforms with existing NSA regulations. So there is that potential for abuse. What you have to have in place are safeguards to ensure it doesn‘t happen.
Now, Joe, I tell people all the time when they talk about conspiracy theories, the biggest mistake in a conspiracy theory is it gives the government too much credit. It‘s not often a conspiracy theory but it‘s a question of ignorance, stupidity and bureaucratic foolishness. That‘s what we got to watch out for and protect from in this particular case.
SCARBOROUGH: I agree, Roger. Thank you so much, Roger Cressey.
Greatly appreciate you being with us tonight.
CRESSEY: Thank you, Jo.
SCARBOROUGH: So is this massive data collection program necessary to fight the war on terror? Let‘s bring in Brad Blakeman—he‘s a former deputy assistant to President Bush—and constitutional lawyer Michael Gross.
Michael, if this program helps to prevent another 9/11, is it worth it?
MICHAEL GROSS, CONSTITUTIONAL ATTORNEY: Yes, it is, but the person who‘s running the program without—outside the law doesn‘t get to decide that. He‘s got to bring it back to Congress. We have a separation of powers, and it‘s out of balance. We...
SCARBOROUGH: Michael, what‘s...
GROSS: ... turned it over to the executive branch...
SCARBOROUGH: ... the biggest danger with this program?
GROSS: The danger is that you guys—I‘m so inspired by MSNBC. You‘ve been saying it all night long. This is Big Brother. If it‘s effective, if it‘s important to our security, then bring it to the legislative branch. You know, ex-congressman, former congressman, that you took a vow. Now, that‘s been given up. You got oversight responsibilities, Congress. And I believe what you guys are doing tonight will bring them to their responsibility, so that they...
SCARBOROUGH: Well, let—let...
SCARBOROUGH: You know, the thing that bothers me, though, Michael, is you have Nancy Pelosi going out there, and she gives press conferences, saying she‘s so shocked and stunned, and yet she‘s already been briefed. I mean, you know, I thought Pat Leahy had the best comment today, saying we should all be ashamed of ourselves because we‘re signing off on this, we‘re not providing proper oversight, and we‘re waking up in the morning and reading it on the front pages of the “USA Today.”
GROSS: I couldn‘t agree...
SCARBOROUGH: Two hundred million Americans! Brad, I got to bring you in here -- 200 million Americans having all their phone records turned over to the federal government. Certainly, you have a problem with that, don‘t you?
BRAD BLAKEMAN, FMR. DEPUTY ASST. TO PRESIDENT BUSH: No, do I not.
SCARBOROUGH: Good Lord!
BLAKEMAN: On the contrary, Joe, our intelligence services are turning over—are being turned over from the telephone companies telephone numbers. It doesn‘t say who these people are. It doesn‘t give the content of those telephone calls. What the NSA is doing is using their supercomputers to look for links, to look for cross-references. That‘s all that‘s being done. And the proof is in the pudding...
SCARBOROUGH: So Brad, if you don‘t have...
SCARBOROUGH: ... a problem with phone records going to the federal government, what about—OK, so they‘ve got your phone records now. What about your bank records. Is that OK?
BLAKEMAN: In certain instances, I‘m sure our government has asked for warrants to obtain bank records when there was a need. One of the...
SCARBOROUGH: But what if...
SCARBOROUGH: ... what if they discovered—hold on a second, Brad—that they didn‘t get warrants to get this. They just bought 200 million—
I mean, they‘ve got billions of phone calls in their supercomputer now. So what if they decide to go tomorrow to all the banks in America and buy your phone records and my phone record‘s and Michael‘s—not phone, bank records. Is that OK with you, too?
BLAKEMAN: The phone records that were obtained were done legally. Do you think this was done in a vacuum? Certainly, the three telephone companies had lawyers looking into this. First of all, the Justice Department looked into it. The president‘s counsel looked into it.
GROSS: How about Qwest‘s lawyers?
BLAKEMAN: You have lawyers up the wazoo looking at this!
SCARBOROUGH: Brad, I want an answer. Is it OK for the federal government to get all of our bank records next?
BLAKEMAN: No, it is not.
SCARBOROUGH: What about medical records?
BLAKEMAN: No, it‘s not.
SCARBOROUGH: So just phone records?
SCARBOROUGH: ... phone records are fine...
BLAKEMAN: Phone records...
SCARBOROUGH: ... but not our other records?
SCARBOROUGH: Phone records are fine because these are the phone records of numbers only. This isn‘t on content.
GROSS: But this is not the person whose authority we elected representatives to decide. I don‘t care what he thinks. Let him present it to the committee, to the entire Congress, to the Senate, to the House, and let them make the laws and tell...
BLAKEMAN: The president doesn‘t have to do that under his inherent powers of the president of the United States to protect...
GROSS: This is not an imperial presidency, sir!
BLAKEMAN: ... and defend the United States!
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Brad, I‘ve got to say this. Hold on a second, guys. When I was on the Judiciary Committee, I was shocked by all the presidential directives that Bill Clinton passed in the late 1990s. I said it was a dangerous thing then. Paul Begala had said, It‘s pretty near, you don‘t have to pass laws anymore, just a stroke of the pen and it has the effect of law.
Now we‘ve gotten to a point in 2006 where the president can decide on his own he‘s going to get all of our phone records, and Congress isn‘t involved! This is an imperial presidency, started with Bill Clinton, and it‘s dangerous!
GROSS: ... unconditionally. We trusted him. You gave him—the Congress did—a clean bill, Go ahead and do what you need to do. Now, if you‘re going to do things and lie about it and break the law about it, at least go before Congress in the proper way and explain to them why it‘s necessary for our security. And I‘m wondering...
SCARBOROUGH: Brad Blakeman, you‘re outnumbered here. I‘ll give you the final word.
BLAKEMAN: The president didn‘t lie about anything. That‘s an outrage! The president went to Congress...
GROSS: He told us he was getting warrants for all this.
BLAKEMAN: The president went to the Congress. He went to the FISA court. He went to the inspector general at the NSA.
GROSS: You don‘t know that he refused to go to FISA?
BLAKEMAN: And the bottom line—the bottom line, gentlemen, is we have not been attacked since 9/11 because of the work that George Bush has done...
GROSS: Maybe it‘s because of the voodoo...
BLAKEMAN: ... to keep our nation safe!
GROSS: ... my voodoo person does.
BLAKEMAN: I don‘t know that.
SCARBOROUGH: Michael! Hold on, Michael! I got to ask Brad one final question.
SCARBOROUGH: Brad, do you have evidence tonight, Brad, that George Bush went to the FISA court to get these 200 million Americans‘ phone records?
BLAKEMAN: I didn‘t say that. I said...
BLAKEMAN: ... in the past, even though he didn‘t have to do it because he had the inherent power to do certain wiretaps without warrant, he still went to the FISA court...
SCARBOROUGH: All right...
SCARBOROUGH: We‘re going to have to leave it there. Brad Blakeman, Michael Gross, we‘re up against a hard break. Thank you for being with us. We‘ll be right back with more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: She‘s undisputed daytime queen, but tonight Oprah Winfrey finds herself on the defensive because of an article in today‘s “New York Times.” It details the possible medical problems associated with one of the products that the daytime diva is now promoting. So the question: Can America trust Oprah?
(voice-over): It seems Oprah‘s empire is catching heat again, this time for promoting a face treatment, a procedure that doctors are now suggesting causes scarring and other facial deformities. Of course, Oprah‘s last crisis involving product promotion was when the walls came crumbling down on Oprah book club author James Frey.
JAMES FREY, AUTHOR, “A MILLION LITTLE PIECES”: I wrote it from memory. I...
OPRAH WINFREY, HOST: OK, let him speak. Please let him speak.
SCARBOROUGH: Critics turned their guns on Oprah.
WINFREY: I have been really embarrassed by this.
SCARBOROUGH: When the TV queen finally learned the truth, she turned her guns on Frey.
WINFREY: I was really behind this book, but now I feel that you conned us all.
SCARBOROUGH: The televised human sacrifice of a pathetic author calmed the teeming masses. But her publishing problems were small potatoes compared to the heaping dish of heartburn served up by the Dr. Phil Miracle Diet. Dr. Phil‘s foray into the weight loss business in 2003 didn‘t go so well.
PHIL MCGRAW, TALK SHOW HOST: We cannot prove that, at this point.
SCARBOROUGH: When the dumpy doctor pushed his energy bars, diet pills and supplements on his audience, the Federal Trade Commission considered launching an investigation into his weight loss claims.
MCGRAW: And you are—you are abusing food. You‘re eating too much of it.
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s when Dr. Phil pulled the supplements off the market.
MCGRAW: What part of that do you not understand?
SCARBOROUGH: That investigation went away. But whether Oprah will be forced to back down from another product her company‘s pushed on audiences remains to be seen.
SCARBOROUGH: So is “The New York Times” right? Is Oprah promoting procedures on her show that could actually be bad for you? Let‘s bring in right now Dr. Karyn Grossman. She‘s a dermatologist who demonstrated cosmetic procedures on Oprah. We also have plastic surgeon Dr. Anthony Griffin, part of the extreme team on “Extreme Makeover,” and media analyst Steve Adubato. He‘s the author of “Make the Connection.”
Steve, let me start with you. Is Oprah being reckless here in pushing these products that—without showing the other side of it, the possible dangers?
STEVE ADUBATO, MEDIA ANALYST: You know, Joe, a while back, I was with you when we talked about Oprah. And I‘m a fan of Oprah‘s, but I have to tell you, I‘m not getting it because the last time I was on with you, we talked about the James Frey situation. If she and her producers are sloppy and don‘t do the research and don‘t make sure what‘s true and what‘s not true, the worst thing that could happen with James Frey‘s “Million Little Pieces” is you buy a book that‘s not true. Twenty bucks you‘re out.
This is different. And what I don‘t understand with Oprah, with the power she has, with the clout she has, why would she have doctors on talking about risky medical procedures without putting up people from the other side, without talking about complications? I don‘t get it. She shouldn‘t be doing it. And we should be talking it and exposing it, frankly, because it‘s wrong.
SCARBOROUGH: Dr. Karyn Grossman, you‘ve actually been on with Oprah. You know her. Are you concerned about the fact that she‘s putting on these new procedures without checking out the negative sides of them?
DR. KARYN GROSSMAN, DERMATOLOGIST ON “OPRAH”: I think it really depends on how you see what Oprah is doing. Certainly, if you look at beauty magazines, beauty books that are out there, they all talk about upcoming surgical procedures or products or fillers or things like that. And they (INAUDIBLE) they talk about the pros of them and what it can do for you. And that‘s not to say that there can‘t be down sides or that any procedure can‘t have a risk. But the real question is, is what is Oprah‘s role? Is it Oprah‘s role to really discuss with you the risks that you can get from having a procedure, or is it the doctor‘s role, who you go to see to then talk to somebody about a procedure?
SCARBOROUGH: But Doctor, you know that anybody that watches Oprah—
I mean, her fan base is so loyal, almost rabid, that people rush out and buy whatever product she promotes. Now, if she‘s promoting a book, if she‘s promoting, you know, an iPod or some other listening device, if she‘s passing out cars, that‘s one thing. But if she‘s passing out medical products or these beauty aids that can damage to these people‘s skin-...
GROSSMAN: Well, I think it depends what...
SCARBOROUGH: ... that‘s a problem.
GROSSMAN: ... what you‘re really looking it. If you are looking at, let‘s say, going out and buying a cream on the shelf, there really isn‘t a go-between that person and the cream. They can walk up to the store and buy the cream. However, if they‘re going to a doctor for a procedure, there is a doctor there who is a much better expert at any medical procedure, certainly, than Oprah is, who should be talking to the patient about what the pros and cons are.
ADUBATO: Joe, here‘s the problem...
DR. ANTHONY GRIFFIN, “EXTREME MAKEOVER”: Can I speak?
ADUBATO: Joe, there‘s a problem with that...
ADUBATO: Dr. Grossman, you were on Oprah‘s show talking about this thread lift (ph) technique.
ADUBATO: If I‘m not mistaken...
ADUBATO: According to “The New York Times,” was there—there was no one else on that was talking about the complications, that was talking about the risks. You just said if it was a cream, it was OK. You were on talking about this thread lift technique...
GROSSMAN: No, what I...
ADUBATO: ... and “The New York Times‘ says there‘s a whole range of medical doctors who say it‘s risky and there are complications. You never discussed that.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, let me bring in another medical doctor here...
GROSSMAN: I guess what I‘m trying to say...
SCARBOROUGH: Dr. Griffin...
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second! Dr. Griffin, I‘m going to let you talk. Go ahead.
GRIFFIN: Listen, I think—when I say it‘s not to blame Oprah, but it‘s to blame the doctors. Shame on the doctors who get on her show and present a medical procedure or a device just like it‘s a happy meal at McDonald‘s.
GROSSMAN: I can‘t hear Dr. Griffin.
ADUBATO: OK. Can you hear me?
SCARBOROUGH: Dr. Grossman, you can‘t hear Dr. Griffin. I want you to respond. He says...
GROSSMAN: No, I can‘t hear him at all.
SCARBOROUGH: ... don‘t blame it on Oprah, blame it on the doctors that go on there and act like they‘re pushing a happy meal from McDonald‘s. He said it‘s medically irresponsible.
GROSSMAN: I—I think it really depends, again, what you‘re looking at. I‘m not pushing a procedure. They asked me for cutting-edge procedures, and I gave them information and I‘m educating people.
GRIFFIN: Here—here‘s the problem...
GROSSMAN: But I‘m not educating people about the negatives. But...
GRIFFIN: Karyn, here—here‘s the problem. People take that...
SCARBOROUGH: Right now, plastic surgery and (INAUDIBLE) procedures are all a part of our culture now. If they see...
GROSSMAN: Yes, they are. You turn on any...
GRIFFIN: ... in a lifestyle show or a lifestyle magazine, they‘re getting the impression that this is a casual procedure. And a lot of these procedures have dark sides. They have complications. They have scarring in the case of Thermage.
GROSSMAN: Certainly, a lot of...
GRIFFIN: I used to do the thread lift until the threads started popping out of people‘s faces.
ADUBATO: Joe, how could Oprah not talk about that?
GROSSMAN: Well, I actually haven‘t had that problem myself. However, what I‘ll say, a lot of procedures—people talk about tummy tucks, breast lifts, face—you know...
GRIFFIN: Here‘s the other problem with...
GRIFFIN: Here‘s the other problem with those procedures, Dr. Grossman. They have not been under peer review, OK? You know, having an editor at a magazine review it is entirely different than having qualified medical people review it. So that‘s the problem with these procedures.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, let me—let me bring in Steve here. Steve, I‘m going to give you the last word. Again, it‘s a bigger question about somebody that has an incredible—I mean, she has just—she‘s got this bully pulpit, a massive—a massive opportunity to talk to Americans. Shouldn‘t she be more careful about talking about procedures that have very definite down sides that the doctor was just talking about?
ADUBATO: Joe, we should all have an audience as big as Oprah‘s in the media business, but we don‘t. Here‘s the point. What she says is gospel. So with all due respect, Dr. Grossman, when you were on that show and you chose not to talk about the complications, here‘s my concern about Oprah and her produces. She had a stone cold responsibility, being the media person that she is, the star that she is, the audience she has, to talk about those complications, to have someone else on there, particularly because you chose not to, for whatever reason. I‘m not trying to criticize you. I‘m telling you it was bad TV, bad media, and more importantly, it gave people wrong information not about a book, but about a potentially risky medical procedure. And that‘s wrong, Oprah, and you know it.
SCARBOROUGH: Dr. Grossman, I‘m going to have to let you have the final word and respond to that. Go ahead.
GROSSMAN: I guess what you‘re saying is—I‘m more than willing to talk about complications with procedures. I talk about them with my patients all the time. And it is reasonable for people to know that there are complications for procedures. But at the same time, it‘s not—if you look what Oprah‘s doing, she‘s talking about new procedures. She‘s letting people know. It depends on if you take this to be something like a beauty magazine, where it‘s informing people, to let people know that there are new procedures out there—really, it‘s the doctor that should be talking to people about what complications are and what actually can happen to them when they have a procedure. All procedures have complications.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, we‘re going to have to...
GROSSMAN: You can take an over-the-counter medication...
SCARBOROUGH: ... leave it there, Dr. Grossman.
GROSSMAN: ... and have a complication.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, we‘ll have to leave it there. Dr. Karyn Grossman, Dr. Anthony Griffin and Steve Adubato, as always, thanks so much for being with us.
Now, coming up next, a shocker last night. The crowd booed, Paula boo-hooed even cynical Simon seemed stunned with news that Chris Doherty (ph) ain‘t making it to the finals. Why was he kicked off? Was it girl power at work, or was it a rigged voting system? We‘ll explain. And sweet 16 parties that cost more than $100,000? What‘s happened to that one-time sweet American ritual, and why is one show on MTV glamorizing this craziness? You‘re not going to believe what you see, these 16-year-old birthday parties. We‘ll show it to you and a lot more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: Friends, forget Bush v. Gore. The next big recount will be “American Idol” v. Daughtry. A scandal erupts involving America‘s top cultural phenomenon of 2006. We‘ll tell you all about it, next.
But first, here‘s the latest news that you and your family need to know.
SCARBOROUGH: Sometimes 16 ain‘t so sweet. We‘re going to have that story straight ahead. And why did Lindsay Lohan sniffle and sneeze her way through Monday‘s “Today Show” interview? Good lord. New pictures show the not-so-fresh reason I‘ve got issues. I‘ll tell you why.
If she‘d just cut all of her hair off like me, she wouldn‘t have to worry about the bad hair mornings.
Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. Those stories in just minutes, but first time for tonight‘s “Must See SC.” This, friends, video you‘ve got to see.
First up, Arlington, Texas. And what‘s the old saying? The first rule in fight club: Don‘t sell your fight club videos. Four Texas teens have found themselves in jail after police discovered this fight club DVD they were hocking online. Smart move, boys.
The graphic video is two hours long. It shows severe beatings, complete with rap music soundtracks. The four teens are now being held on felony charges. Hope the $15.38 was worth it.
Next up, the beatings continue, but this time on an Indiana school bus. Surveillance cameras on this bus captures a school aide viciously beating a special needs student. The aide dragged the boy and slammed him into a seat. Tonight, she‘s out of a job—thank goodness—and faces charges. I hope she‘s busted.
And finally, they have one in California. This rare seven-foot blue shark beached itself off the coast of Los Angeles. A documentary crew that happened to be on the scene at the time captured the video, rescuing the shark, and tying a rope to its tail, and dragging it back out to sea.
Now, if they could just drag me away from the buffet line on all-you-can-eat Sundays, I could fit into my new Speedos.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN SEACREST, “AMERICAN IDOL” HOST: Chris, you are going home tonight. The journey ends. A lot of people in shock. Are you?
CHRIS DAUGHTRY, “AMERICAN IDOL” CONTESTANT: I‘m a little bit in shock.
DAUGHTRY: A little bit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: It was a shocker last night. Chris Daughtry was voted off “American Idol.”
You know, the past couple of weeks of TV talk and blog buzz had this guy picked as the one who was going to win it all, but the shows voters apparently decided it was time to give him a boot. But was a fix in? Were the voting lines purposely jammed? Or could it even be more sinister than that?
There seem to be two separate movements out there. First, supporting the final three contestants, the places they‘re from, and the chick vote, as they say online. I would never say such a sexist thing.
With me now, though, to talk about it, we‘ve got Tom O‘Neil from “In Touch Weekly,” Jessica Sierra, a former contestant on “American Idol” from season four, and oddsmaker John Avello from Wynn Las Vegas, and Suzanne Rozdeba from “Star” magazine.
I want to start with you, Tom, and ask you what your theory is. How does a guy who‘s long considered to be the odds-on favorite lose?
TOM O‘NEIL, “IN TOUCH WEEKLY”: That‘s because we were listening to guys like Simon Cowell and oddsmakers from Vegas tell us he was ahead. He was never ahead. Look at this guy, Joe: bald head, facial hair. When he smiles, it‘s creepy. He looks like Satan.
He represents a music genre that‘s less than 10 percent of the music pie. The women are the actual voters; 73 percent of the voters are women. They‘re not going to pick this guy.
SCARBOROUGH: So you think—so you don‘t think the system was rigged? I mean, a lot of his fans are saying the phone lines were jammed, they couldn‘t get in there. You‘ve accused “American Idol” voting of being rigged in the past. You‘re just saying this guy has a creepy look about him?
O‘NEIL: And he‘s been acting arrogant lately. You can go so far when you‘re his type. Bo Bice did it last year. But you can‘t go much further near the end, because he doesn‘t have the constituency.
And, you know, I think, if I had to guess right now, I‘d say that Katharine McPhee is probably going to win. But you ask Simon Cowell early on, he goes for the cool guy. You can‘t do that in this game. You‘ve got to look through this through the voters‘ eyes.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, Jessica, so Tom is saying that we were talking to men, but women didn‘t want to vote for a guy that looks this creepy. But, I mean, you were on “American Idol.”
JESSICA SIERRA, FORMER “AMERICAN IDOL” CONTESTANT: That‘s bull.
SCARBOROUGH: I mean, weren‘t you upset when this guy got voted off last night?
SIERRA: Absolutely. Absolutely. First of all, he‘s not creepy looking. He‘s hot. And, second of all, I don‘t think Katharine will win, because she‘s inconsistent for the past three weeks. And he has been the most consistent every week. I can‘t even believe he was voted off.
SCARBOROUGH: I mean, but this guy—I mean, he‘s been getting tons of votes. And, again, so many people absolutely shocked last night. Does this prove that this really isn‘t about talent, it‘s just a popularity contest?
SIERRA: Absolutely. You know what I think it was last night? What happened last night is that everybody thought that he was going to be safe, so they though that they needed to vote for the other contestants to make sure that they were safe, so that‘s what they did. And in the end of the day, you got to vote for who you want to stay on the show.
SCARBOROUGH: Suzanne, judge Randy Jackson said this. The vote, quote, “obviously wasn‘t based on talent tonight because the wrong person went home.” How does that happen on “American Idol”?
SUZANNE ROZDEBA, “STAR” MAGAZINE: Oh, it‘s absolutely ridiculous that Chris got voted off. I almost fell off my chair, I was so shocked. Chris was one of the hottest guys on the show. He had a unique look. He‘s the rock star. Girls love him.
I think that Randy was definitely right: It was all about looks, the whole package. You know, Katharine, even though Simon said that Katharine should have been voted off instead of Chris, Katharine has the whole package. You know, she‘s gorgeous. She‘s got a fantastic voice. She performs well on stage. She did well with the Elvis songs the other night. She has the whole package.
SCARBOROUGH: John, you thought this guy was going to win; obviously, the voters disagreed. How did that happen? And who‘s the new odds-on favorite?
JOHN AVELLO, WYNN LAS VEGAS: Well, I did have Chris the favorite from the very beginning. You know, the voters for this show are Main Street voters, and rockers don‘t seem to win, and they haven‘t won up to this point. And I think the other factor was it was a split vote among the males. And there were three males, and Chris happened to be the odd man out.
Unfortunately, I was shocked to see him go, and, again, I kind of saw it coming. So another surprise on “American Idol,” and we‘ll continue to see surprises.
SCARBOROUGH: And, Tom, that‘s what makes “American Idol” “American Idol,” right?
O‘NEIL: Yes. And they‘re not voting for talent here at all; they‘re voting for, you know, peculiar things like this, you know, Taylor Hicks. He‘s really interesting. You know, what if he wins? He‘s got the least talent of all of these people, but he‘s so likeable, and he dances, and he‘s just so much fun. But what if he actually wins and this guy has to go out and have a music career? I think it‘s the end of the line for him.
SCARBOROUGH: So who do you think is going to win, Tom, quick predictions as we go to break. Who wins?
O‘NEIL: I think it‘s going to be Katharine McPhee.
SCARBOROUGH: Jessica, who wins?
SIERRA: I think Katharine is going to win, but I want Elliott to win, personally, so...
SCARBOROUGH: Suzanne, who wins?
ROZDEBA: Definitely Katharine. Elliott annoys me. I think he‘s too rehearsed. Definitely Katharine.
SIERRA: No, he‘s fabulous.
SCARBOROUGH: And, John, who do you think wins?
AVELLO: Well, Elliott doesn‘t win. Taylor is now in the favorite role, which could hurt him. Katharine is in the underdog role and can only go up. Taylor will stay the favorite, but Katharine has got a big shot.
SCARBOROUGH: All I can say is sweet home Alabama, baby. I think the southern boy‘s going to win.
Thanks, Tom O‘Neil, Jessica Sierra, John Avello and Suzanne Rozdeba.
Greatly appreciate you being with us tonight.
And I‘m joined now by Rita Cosby, who actually could have won “American Idol” this year, I‘m sure, if she had only stuck it out through rehearsals. Rita, what‘s coming up next at 10:00?
RITA COSBY, HOST: And, you know, Joe, I also went to University of South Carolina. So does that make me a southern girl a little bit?
SCARBOROUGH: You are. You are. South Carolina, the first state to secede!
COSBY: There you go. We‘re fighters. We are fighters, although I...
SCARBOROUGH: We are.
COSBY: Well, Joe, coming up, speaking of a fight, we‘ve got another new twist in the Duke rape case. There‘s now new DNA evidence that could tie a third player to the case. Is this enough to make another arrest?
Plus, a priest is convicted for murdering a nun. Noted forensic expert Dr. Henry Lee from O.J. Simpson fame will tell us what clinched the case. We‘re going to have him and, Joe, a whole lot more, coming up at the top of the hour on “LIVE & DIRECT.”
SCARBOROUGH: Thanks so much, Rita. Go Gamecocks.
COSBY: Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: And coming up next, you remember the sweet 16 parties of old, your basement with balloons and streamers. It was so sweet. All your popular kid friends there, under close parental supervision.
Well, those days are no more. This show‘s putting the spotlight on these outrageous sickening parties. Plus, who‘s got a lower approval rating, President Bush or Tom Cruise? It‘s close. And I‘ve got issues.
SCARBOROUGH: Would you spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on your child‘s birthday party? Well, the folks at MTV have found families who will. And the whole experience is documented in the show “My Super Sweet 16.” From $50,000 house rentals to pink poodles, nothing is off-limits.
Sixteen-year-old Marissa Dubowy recently taped an episode. Here‘s a clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARISSA DUBOWY, “MY SUPER SWEET 16”: Today, I‘m going to look at this huge mansion for my party.
MARC DUBOWY, “MY SUPER SWEET 16”: What are we talking about?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we were thinking, for the night, about $50,000.
MARC DUBOWY: Will you do it for $25,000?
MARISSA DUBOWY: Dad, $50,000 is fine.
MARC DUBOWY: Thanks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You bet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Well, I asked Marissa and her parents, Marc and K.K., what made them decide to do the show.
MARISSA DUBOWY: Well, I always wanted to have, like, a really big party for my sweet 16, so I just was really into the whole idea of it, and I wanted to have it aired on TV, and I thought that would just be something really cool.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, it was a really big party, and I understand that you dyed both of your poodles pink, is that right?
MARISSA DUBOWY: Yes, I died my poodles pink. That was fun.
SCARBOROUGH: Talk about the gifts that your father and mother gave you.
MARISSA DUBOWY: My dad and mom, they gave me two cars. One was the Spyder Eclipse, and the other was the Endeavor. And they were just unbelievable cars.
SCARBOROUGH: I will promise you that 99 percent of parents out there in America thought you were being a brat when that SUV came out and you turned your nose up at it. What would you say to those people? What were we not getting there?
MARISSA DUBOWY: Well, honestly, like, everything was all hyped up for the show. It was all in good fun. I love the SUV. Like, I drive that most of the time. And, really, I enjoy driving it, and I am thankful to have that car. So adults, you know, some of them, they don‘t know me, and they just like to judge. And, you know, things get edited a certain way, and that‘s not really how it was.
SCARBOROUGH: K.K., what did you make of the party, and the entire filming, and the final 22 minutes edited down from all those hours of tape?
K.K. DUBOWY, “MY SUPER SWEET 16”: Well, being a mom, I was just a little disappointed, because I was hoping that they would show a little more dimension to Marissa, a little more of her sweet side, a little more of her, you know, generous, charity side, that she does a lot of volunteer work, she works, she earns her extra money.
SCARBOROUGH: I would think it would be natural that there would be some resentment out there. Did you see any of that?
MARISSA DUBOWY: Yes, of course. Of course, there‘s people who—that my school had, like, over 2,000 kids in it. So there‘s people that don‘t know me personally. And, of course, there some bad things going around, like, oh, my gosh, I can‘t believe she said that, and I can‘t believe she did this and got that.
But, you know, everyone pretty much was like, “No, she really is nice,” like so many people are defending me.
SCARBOROUGH: So are you glad at the end of the day, Marc, that you went ahead and invited MTV to your daughter‘s 16th birthday?
MARC DUBOWY: I think it turned out to be very successful, in spite of some of the negatives, and from all aspects. My main worry was the negative reaction towards Marissa, and she‘s handled it like a champ. She says, “Oh, it doesn‘t bother me,” and it just went right off her back. So that was my main concern, and she handled it really well.
SCARBOROUGH: Thank you so much for being with us. We really do appreciate it.
MARISSA DUBOWY: Yes, thank you.
MARC DUBOWY: Thank you very much.
SCARBOROUGH: And you know I‘d judge Marc but for the fact that I‘ve got a young daughter. I‘ll see how I react at 16 years old when she asks me to do something like this.
So “My Super Sweet 16” is a huge hit, but it is striking a sour note with parents and culture mavens. I asked “Time” columnist Ana Marie Cox that she thinks about teens like Marissa when they invite MTV to their sweet 16 party.
ANA MARIE COX, “TIME” COLUMNIST: Well, my theory, well, besides the fact that they‘re teenagers and teenagers do stupid things, is that the whole show is about creating a very tiny, little subculture where you are the most famous person there, where you are the star.
All of these parties are like that. One of the weird, kind of anthropologically interesting things about these parties is it‘s almost always a photo shoot beforehand, where the girl or the boy will have their picture taken by a professional photographer, and they almost always say, “Oh, this makes me feel like a model. This makes me feel like a celebrity.”
It‘s really just purchasing celebrity, like they‘re renting out the use of the celebrity sort of nature. I can‘t think of any other reason, really.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, what are about the parents? I mean, again, they know—I‘ve got to believe that these parents know that their child is looking like a brat and that everybody is sort of nodding, and winking, and playing along. Do you think this is, again, the Paris Hilton influence on our society?
COX: Well, I think that it is for being famous for nothing, or being famous for the sake of being famous. But I think, for the parents, it‘s kind of this bizarre mark of accomplishment. Rather than getting themselves another sports car, or an expensive watch, or buying a membership to a very fancy country club, this is their way of saying to the world that they‘ve arrived. They can afford to spend this money on something so completely useless.
SCARBOROUGH: So you actually think that, as offensive as it may be for some people, it is great TV?
COX: Oh, it is brilliant TV. I think that MTV specializes in these kind of like teen psycho dramas, and I cannot stop watching it. And maybe I‘m just jealous.
SCARBOROUGH: You may be. You may be, but you‘re always a beauty queen in the eyes of the viewers of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, Ana Marie Cox.
COX: Thanks, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Thanks for being with us.
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s back when I had hair, looks like, I think, 1987.
Coming up next, part of your Lindsay Lohan with a bit of wardrobe malfunctions this morning. Did she arrive at the “Today Show” in the same clothes she was photographed wearing the day before? Always the method actress. Boy, I‘ve got issues.
SCARBOROUGH: Welcome back. I got short hair, and I got issues.
First up, I‘ve got issues with Tom Cruise. And who doesn‘t at this point? And for good reason. Do you remember this? Oh, good lord.
You know, his popularity ratings still may be better than the president‘s, but just barely. Take a look at what the “USA Today”-Gallup poll shows. Shows 58 like Tom, 31 don‘t. That‘s in ‘05. In ‘06, 35 like Tom, 51 don‘t. That‘s bad.
But, you know, Cruise‘s powerful Hollywood friends are now rallying to his defense, and his spokesman blames the media for overexposing him. But when he does over-the-top things like that, it‘s kind of hard to look away from the Tom train wreck.
And I‘ve got issues with Lindsay Lohan. The actress looked exhausted during her “Today Show” interview with Matt Lauer on Monday. And the gossip sheet reported she had a late-night rager with four friends at her hotel the night before.
A photo surfaced of Lohan kissing an unidentified man on Sunday wearing the same clothes she wore on TV the next morning. Her publicist told us, though, that the story was stupid, and when she went in to wake Lohan in her room, she was safely asleep. Ah, blessed assurance:
Lindsay‘s a good girl after all.
Hey, we‘ll be right back with tonight‘s “Mail Bag.”
SCARBOROUGH: Were my features square or round?
Well, the pride of Columbia, South Carolina is next. Rita Cosby “LIVE & DIRECT” stars right now.
Rita, what you got?
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Copy: 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.