updated 7/12/2006 11:05:58 AM ET 2006-07-12T15:05:58

Guests: Mike Papantonio, Jack Burkman, Kathy Jefcoasts, Clint Van Zandt, Tom O‘Neil, Andy Hill, Erin Runnion

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Right now in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, breaking news tonight in the CIA leak case as Robert Novak, the man who broke the story that threatened the White House, finally tells his side of the story.  Does it prove the White House conspired to destroy a CIA agent‘s career?  Then, the real-life soup Nazi.  He actually poisoned his children‘s soup so he could sue the Campbell‘s company for millions.  And Star Jones, as I said, she‘s back in a big way.  Is the daytime diva headed to Fox News, CNN, or other networks?

Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  No passport required—I wonder if they want—want her to take my job.  God, I hope not!  Anyway, no passport required, only common sense allowed.

We‘re going to be talking about it in a second, but first, tonight‘s breaking news.  The CIA leak investigation that gripped Washington, and, well, I guess you can say gripped the entire political world, took a new twist tonight as columnist Robert Novak, the man whose column on the undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame launched this investigation in the first place, revealed his side of the story for the very first time.

Now, Novak is a guy, I can tell you, who is long feared by liberals and backsliding conservatives alike.  He was told by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald that he wouldn‘t be charged with a crime in the CIA leak case.  The “Chicago Sun-Times” writer says in his account that sources were White House kingmaker Karl Rove and CIA spokesman Bill Harlow, but he refused to name the third and final source, who may have been back then the first source for him, as he was tracking the story.

Now, conservative commentators are already trumpeting Novak‘s claim that the leak was inadvertent and accidental.  But friends, there is no doubt that your opinion on this issue is likely to be tied to whether you voted for or against George W. Bush in the 2004 election, unless, of course, that‘s what you‘re like, me.

And maybe I‘m cynical or perhaps it‘s because I worked in Congress for years, but you know what?  I always found that leaks of this size were rarely mistakes.  Regardless of what the writer—or the right-wing people may tell you, I can assure you that if you assign selfish motives to leakers, you will rarely be proven wrong.

So does the Novak bombshell hurt or help the president, and will it lead to any more criminal charges?  MSNBC‘s “Hardball‘s” Chris Matthews broke the big news tonight.  Chris, how is this story developing right now?

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, “HARDBALL”:  It‘s very hard to see how this is going to break.  Clearly, we have a much better view, but it‘s almost like the old Polaroid film, slowly developing on a picture here.  We have a picture now of at least two of the three people who spoke with Bob Novak before he wrote that column outing the identity of Valerie Wilson, the CIA agent.  We know that Karl Rove spoke to him in a kind of a supportive role.  We know that Bill Harlow, who was spokesman for the CIA, had a conversation with him which helped him, according to Bob Novak, build the story and confirm it.  What we don‘t have officially right now is the initial source, the person who, according to Novak, in an inadvertent comment, gave him the information about Valerie Wilson being at the CIA.

SCARBOROUGH:  And of course, the question is, do Novak‘s revelations make the White House‘s activities look illegal, legal?  Does it make it look like a political hit job?  Any indication, from what you‘ve read from Novak, on whether this will help or hurt the White House...

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I think...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... in that regard?

MATTHEWS:  I think—I think it doesn‘t hurt.  I think it relieves some of the suspicions here.  One suspicion was, of course, that all the people around the vice president‘s office and Karl Rove were involved in an effort to smear Valerie Wilson, to smear her husband and to basically debunk his testimony to “The New York Times,” the article he wrote that there was, in fact, a coverup of the failure to really find any evidence of a weapons of mass destruction, a nuclear weapon in the hands of Saddam Hussein, which was big news.

Now what seems to be coming out as the developing story here is that Richard Armitage—and he seems to be the number one suspect right now—is the original source for Bob Novak‘s column.  Armitage is not a hawk.  Armitage is a moderate within this administration.  He was deputy secretary of state under Colin Powell, a fellow moderate, if you will.  Certainly, none of the neoconservative zealotry of the other people we often hear of in this administration.  Certainly no evidence he did this on purpose.

So it could be that this entire investigation, with all its expenses and all the news value it‘s had—and it certainly has it—has a lot of news value, in terms of the people involved—may have started with an innocent revelation to Bob Novak about the identity of Joe Wilson‘s wife.

SCARBOROUGH:  I wanted to ask you that.  I mean, what‘s your gut?  You‘ve been in Washington so long and been among all the power players on Capitol Hill and in the White House.  Do you buy that explanation that it was an inadvertent mistake, that somebody was just having a long interview with Bob Novak and then just let slip the secret identity of a CIA agent?

MATTHEWS:  What I know firsthand is that when Joe Wilson blew the whistle and said that the evidence of WMD, of a nuclear program by Saddam Hussein, based upon the evidence presented by the president that there was, in fact, a British intelligence report that Saddam Hussein had attempted to buy uranium yellowcake from the government of Niger—when he came out and said that that was not the case, there was no smoking gun or any evidence there‘d be a mushroom cloud because of Saddam Hussein‘s weapons programs—

I believe that the White House did go into action.  I believe they tried to turn the reporters off this story.

SCARBOROUGH:  So Chris, what do you make of a spokesman for the CIA telling a reporter the identity of a CIA agent?

MATTHEWS:  Oh, I‘m not sure we have any reason to get that far.  What we do know is the question of how a reporter develops a story.  When you go out and you get a pretty good story—and perhaps it came from Richard Armitage, the secretary—deputy secretary of state—about Valerie Plame‘s identity, that‘s a pretty hefty bit of information.  You figure why would Armitage accidentally tell you, inadvertently tell you this?  He‘s probably telling the truth.  Then if you‘re a reporter like Bob Novak, you work your sources.  He calls up Karl Rove, the president‘s top political kick (ph), and say, Did you hear about that she was really the one that put this guy on the trip?  It was really kind of a boondoggle.  It wasn‘t really legitimate.  You guys look pretty good on this, blah, blah, blah.  And Bob Novak says, Oh, so you heard.

Then, as for his third source, he calls the CIA spokesman and says, What‘s this story about Valerie Wilson working over undercover at the CIA, getting her husband this boondoggle or whatever to go check out this uranium story?  For all we know—and this is what it seems like to me tonight—that Bill Harlow was doing his job.  He was saying, Don‘t write that, Bob.  Bob, that‘s a killer.  That‘s going to unearth all kinds of activities by the CIA undercover efforts.  Don‘t run that story.  And by saying that, by doing his job, he was inadvertently admitting her role in the CIA and giving Bob Novak what he wanted, a second confirmation.

So we‘re going to have to keep reading this story and studying it.  We may never get the full facts.  But Harlow could be right from his point of view.  and Novak could be right from his.  And they‘re both giving us the technical truth, which can be...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... obviously inconsistent.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, and finally, of course, speaking of inconsistencies and faulty memories, Novak said that Karl Rove‘s recollection of their conversation was quite different from his own.  That certainly...

MATTHEW:  As you might expect.  Joe, be a little cynical here.  As you might expect.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  As you might expect.  Explain that for our viewers.

MATTHEWS:  Well, it could be that—there‘s two different locutions we‘ve heard here from what might have happened when Novak called Karl Rove.  If I tell you I heard somebody‘s getting divorced or something, you might say, yes, I know all about it, or you could say, yes, I think I heard that.  I think I heard that from somebody.  One is a compelling confirmation.  The other is kind of a wistful  (ph), Oh, yes, I guess -- - I guess that‘s been making the rounds.

Well, I think Rove may have given a stronger confirmation than he admitted to Bob Novak, or the other way around.  But I get the feeling, why would Novak be giving such power to this confirmation if he hadn‘t gotten one?  Novak has been around a long time.  He is one tough customer.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  He certainly is.

MATTHEWS:  As you know...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... “Hardball‘s” Chris Matthews, thank you so much.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Really appreciate you being here tonight.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.

SCARBOROUGH:  Now let‘s go to Lawrence O‘Donnell.  Lawrence, I‘ve got to—first of all, let‘s talk about this so-called inadvertent leak.  I‘m not just talking about Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals, if you‘re leaking information, chances are good you‘re doing it to protect your own butt or your boss‘s butt.  In this case, I just don‘t believe that somebody in the Bush administration accidentally leaked the secret identity of a CIA source that would embarrass Joe Wilson.  And I don‘t even like Joe Wilson.  I just think that‘s garbage.  Do you buy it?

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Yes.  I think there‘s more deliberation in it.  Listen, I agree with everything that Chris Matthews just said.  And I think you could add to it the notion that in that conversation that is being—that can be described as the “inadvertently,” the inadvertent part can be that the source didn‘t realize that there could be a criminal possibility involved in revealing her identity.  That could be the inadvertent part.  You know, I didn‘t realize, you know, we weren‘t supposed to do that.

But I—you know, when I was working in the Senate, Joe, I never once said a thing to a reporter that I didn‘t want the reporter to know.  Every single word that I said...

SCARBOROUGH:  And that‘s the thing.  That‘s the thing, Lawrence.  When all these people are running around in the White House and saying that—and again, a White House—I voted for this president two times, but when I hear somebody at the White House saying, Oh, gee, I just didn‘t know what I was doing—listen, I leaked to Bob Novak when we were leading a coup against Newt Gingrich.

O‘DONNELL:  Sure.

SCARBOROUGH:  I leaked to Bob Novak and everybody else throughout my entire career.  Everybody did.  You know exactly what you‘re doing.  You understand the subtleties of it.  And if 1 out of 435 congressmen knows what he‘s doing when he‘s leaking information to Bob Novak, then somebody that‘s running the White House or the State Department knows it, too.  I just don‘t buy this inadvertent leak garbage, even if conservatives pundits are buying it tonight.

O‘DONNELL:  Yes.  And Joe, as we know, leakers are, in fact, the most careful people in talking to reporters.

(CROSSTALK)

O‘DONNELL:  Yes, they have to be very, very careful.  They know exactly what they‘re doing and why they‘re doing it.  Now, the thing I think is possible is that it wasn‘t really personal, that the idea was more to get people to simply not believe and adopt the thinking in Joe Wilson‘s op-ed piece, you know, telling reporters...

SCARBOROUGH:  Wait, wait, wait!  What do you mean...

O‘DONNELL:  ... Stay away from...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... it‘s not personal?  You mean they weren‘t trying to hurt Valerie Plame...

O‘DONNELL:  Yes.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... they were just trying to explain that Joe Wilson...

O‘DONNELL:  That‘s right.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... was this self-interested guy that got his wife to send him over to Africa?

O‘DONNELL:  That would be my bet for most of the players involved, that it was more a matter of saying—of using Valerie Plame as a way of putting context around the Wilson mission and saying it wasn‘t really a worthwhile mission.  Ignore its results.

However, Karl Rove did say that Joe Wilson‘s wife is fair game.  That‘s a thing that he said, fair game.  So with Rove, it does seem as though there was a different personal component, that Rove was trying to use the wife as...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Go after her.  And of course, Lawrence, also, there had been this underlying—and Chris Matthews talked about it.  We‘ve all known it since 2003.  There‘s been this underlying tension between the White House and the CIA, George Bush headquarters, for some time.  Most of the CIA analysts didn‘t want this Iraq war to happen.

Let‘s move from the White House, though, to journalists.  When I was leaking and when you were leaking and when other people on Capitol Hill and the White House were leaking back in the good old days, we had to actually believe that the reporters we were talking to were going to keep our secrets.  But here you have Bob Novak saying, You know what?  It may have cost me a lot of money if I had actually refused to reveal my sources.  You had Matt Cooper at “Time” saying the same thing earlier.

Again, I like Matt Cooper.  I‘ve dealt with Matt Cooper.  I like Bob Novak.  I‘ve dealt with Bob Novak a lot.  I just am very uneasy about reporters who take confidential information in and then run to prosecutors.  If you or I...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... were reporters and somebody came to us and told us -

I mean, don‘t you feel we have an ethical obligation to keep it to ourselves, even if we get thrown in jail?

O‘DONNELL:  Well, I understand both approaches because nothing that I leaked when I worked on the Hill and nothing that you leaked put us in the criminal—possible criminal conduct.  We weren‘t committing a crime by leaking it.  But I understand Novak rolling over instantly for the prosecutor.  I understand that.  And I understand Cooper trying to fight it all the way and Miller trying to fight it all the way.  And I said early on in this investigation, as soon as they started...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  How do you understand that?  I mean...

O‘DONNELL:  Well, I can...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  What you‘re saying is...

O‘DONNELL:  ... from Novak‘s perspective...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... that when somebody reveals confidential information to a reporter, they might as well understand that it may not be confidential if that information becomes uncomfortable to keep.

O‘DONNELL:  If it becomes the subject of a subpoena, it‘s probably going to come out.  Now, knowing Bob Novak, I knew he was going to roll over instantly, and I said so publicly, long before it was known, that Bob Novak was going to have the smallest legal bill of anybody involved here.

(LAUGHTER)

O‘DONNELL:  He was going to talk to his lawyer for 10 minutes and not let him charge him the full hour and say...

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

O‘DONNELL:  And he was going to give up every name.  And Rove and those other people should have figured that out very quickly, and I think they did.  And I think that‘s why, when Rove testified to the grand jury, he did say that he talked to Bob Novak.  He didn‘t say he talked to Matt Cooper.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thank you so much, Lawrence O‘Donnell. 

Greatly appreciate it.

I just got to say this, friends.  Again, my belief is that if I talk to a reporter—and more importantly now, if somebody talks to me and they‘re a confidential source and I tell them I‘m not going to release that information, well, that means, guess what, I‘m not going to release that information.

Now, one final thing.  If you‘re keeping score at home, we have the two confirming sources, with the CIA spokesman and Karl Rove.  We still don‘t know who the primary first source was.  I‘m sure we‘ll get that information in the future.

We‘ll be right back with more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s time for tonight‘s “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY Showdown.”  You know, after a contentious debate, the House today passed a bill that virtually outlawed Internet gambling.  Well, this was the latest in a series of the Republican-controlled Congress-passed bills that raised what some would say is a smash-mouth election year strategy to force votes on bills designed to ignite the base and bring up the issue of morality.  Now, the House has passed or is considering passing bills on illegal immigration, flag burning, gay marriage, which they‘ll get a debate tomorrow, and also today‘s Internet gambling ban.

Here‘s Republican strategist Jack Burkman and Mike Papantonio.  He‘s the co-host of “Ring of Fire” on Air America radio, and also my former law partner, though we never agreed on anything dealing with politics.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Mike Papantonio...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... the bottom line is this.  The Democratic Party is trying to be painted as pro-gambling, pro-gay marriage, pro-flag burning, pro-abortion.  Bottom line is Republicans seem to be setting you guys up again, like they have for the past 30 years.  Is it going to work this year?

MIKE PAPANTONIO, AIR AMERICA RADIO:  Well, it‘s different now, Joe, because right now, we have nuclear missiles pointing at us from North Korea.  People are worried about things that really matter right now.  They don‘t care about those issues.  If you take a look at the polls, they‘re worried about the fact that Iran is the next big problem.  They‘re worried about the fact that we have a president that can‘t seem to move in Iraq.  All of these things are more important.  The economy‘s more important.  You have immigration issues that are more important.  And so I think to try to play that card right now—I think it‘s a loser for them...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Jack Burkman, when I was in Congress back—you know, back in the Ice Age, I used to always laugh at the Democrats‘ inability to get out of the way.  It‘s like you‘d say, OK, here it comes.  Here it comes.  We‘re going to paint you as immoral.  And boom!  And they‘d just stand there.  We‘re going to get you on guns.  We‘re going to get you on God.  We‘re going to get you on flag burning.  And the Democrats would just sit there and take the punches.

But I think this time, even though the Democrats aren‘t moving, it may be the American people that block those punches because, like Mike said, they don‘t care about flag burning as much as they care about Iraq.  They don‘t care about gay marriage as much as they care about nuclear missiles pointed at their families on the West Coast.  Don‘t you think Republicans may be going to the well one time too many here?

JACK BURKMAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  I don‘t, Joe.  Let‘s do politics and then substance.  Look, politically, it is a tactic.  It‘s designed to mobilize the base, and thank God it is.  I want Republicans back.  If we can get our base on, that keeps House and Senate, that‘s good for the country.

Now, what‘s wrong with talking about morals?  What‘s wrong with talking about issues like gaming and pornography and gay marriage and flag burning?  There‘s nothing wrong with that.  That‘s what I think our national debate should be about.

I‘ll tell you something, Joe.  This issue—this issue -- 50 percent of the Internet is either pornography or gambling -- 50 percent!  If Mike and Hillary Clinton want to run around and say, I want to help children, my question for them is, How do you want to help children?  How are you going to limit this?

PAPANTONIO:  Jack—Jack...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Mike, I think the suggestion was that you and Hillary Clinton support porn and gambling on the Internet.  I got to let you respond.

PAPANTONIO:  Well, no, I‘ll tell you what—I‘ll tell you what Hillary does support, though.  She supports a nation safe.  Right now, this nation is not safe.

BURKMAN:  But does she support banning gambling on the Internet?

(CROSSTALK)

PAPANTONIO:  Jack, can I finish?  She support supports a safe nation.  Right now, what you‘re trying create, what you‘re trying to do is get America‘s attention off of something that they can‘t take their attention from.  North Korea can land a missile in New York.  People who have children, people who have grandchildren...

BURKMAN:  Let me tell you something, Mike...

(CROSSTALK)

PAPANTONIO:  Wait a second!

BURKMAN:  North Korea...

PAPANTONIO:  They care about the fact—they care about the fact that you have a president that can‘t even manage Iraq, much less...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Jack Burkman, I want your prediction here.  Do you think when voters go into the voting booth in November and decide who they want running this country for the next two years, are they going to thinking more about Internet gambling or nuclear weapons in Iraq and North Korea?

BURKMAN:  Oh, the base—the base will think more about the former and the swing voters will think more about the latter.  But the only thing we need to do to hold on is mobilize the base because...

SCARBOROUGH:  So you‘re saying that conservative Republicans care more about Internet gambling than nuclear weapons...

BURKMAN:  Oh, yes~~!

SCARBOROUGH:  ... pointed at their children‘s heads?

BURKMAN:  Yes, they do.  Yes, they do.  And let me tell you why...

PAPANTONIO:  Jack, you are out of it!

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  We got to leave it there, Mike.  Got to leave it.  I think that‘s a great place to leave it.  I mean, if that, in fact, is the case, then the Republican Party knows exactly what they‘re doing.  I just think a lot of voters are going to be more concerned about those nuclear weapons than Internet gambling.  Mike Papantonio and Jack Burkman, as always, thanks so much for being with us.

And coming up next: How could a father poison his own kids?  Well, that‘s what police are asking this guy, who‘s accused of putting poison in his own children‘s soup so he could sue Campbell‘s.  That SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY story straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  A shocking story out of Georgia.  Police there arrested this man who they say tried to poison his own children just to make a few bucks. 

Investigators say William Allen Cunningham spiked his kids‘ soup on three separate occasions earlier this year.  The first time was on January 1st when he laced his son‘s Campbell‘s soup, orzo pasta soup, with hot pepper, causing the boy‘s mouth and face to severely burn and swell. 

Two weeks later, the dad try tried it again, this time lacing Campbell‘s Spaghetti-Os with what police call a foreign substance.  The nurse at the hospital later said she smelled lighter fluid. 

Then a third time, police say he laced Campbell‘s chicken noodle soup with two anti-depressants, causing his 18-month-old daughter to be airlifted to an Atlanta hospital.  All the while, Cunningham was calling and e-mailing Campbell‘s soup to complain that his soup was being tampered with.  Police caught onto the scheme, and he now faces 75 years behind bars. 

Cathy Jefcoats has been following this story for the “Atlanta Journal Constitution.”  And we also have MSNBC analyst and former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt. 

Clint, let‘s start with you. 

CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER:  Sure.

SCARBOROUGH:  First of all, let‘s just talk about how stupid this guy was.  I mean, he‘s a brute.  He‘s a thug.  He should be sent to jail for life.  But, I mean, this sort of scheme, there‘s no way he could have gotten away with it, could he?

VAN ZANDT:  You know, there‘s no way, Joe, but, you know, we look back anywhere from the Pepsi scare, you know, 15-20 years ago, with syringes, to the finger that was allegedly in Wendy‘s chili.  There‘s always somebody who doesn‘t get it, and they think they‘re going to get an easy buck. 

They look for big, deep pockets, and they go to food and drink manufacturers, and they say, “Hey, I can beat them at this game.”  And this guy is so dumb, he tries—notwithstanding what he did to his kids, and he ought to do 75 years to life for that—but, Joe, he gets three different soups and poisons all three for his kids.  I mean, it‘s like this guy won the terrible poison food lottery that the only three cans in the entire world are going to wind up on his soup shelf. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.

And, Cathy, tell me, how did the police finally figure this out?  How did they discover that this guy was doing horrible, horrible things to his young children? 

KATHY JEFCOATS, THE “ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION”:  Well, I believe it was the third occasion when the children actually were airlifted to Grady Hospital, the little girl was, and ended up having to spend a week in ICU that the police, the Clayton County Police got involved and charged him with three counts of child cruelty. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And so where was the mom in all of this? 

JEFCOATS:  Her divorce attorney, Mr. Clay Davis, has told me that she was oblivious.  In fact, she ate some of the soup on one occasion and told the police that it tasted to her like lighter fluid.  She got sick, as well.  Apparently, she was totally oblivious to what was going on.  She‘s not been charged.  She‘s not going to be charged.  The police said she‘s not suspected of being involved in this. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Talk about the three children.  How are they doing right now? 

JEFCOATS:  There are two children, a little boy.  He‘ll be four in September.  And the little girl will be two in August. 

Mr. Davis, who represents Mrs. Cunningham in her divorce proceedings, said the children are doing well.  They‘re with her and the maternal grandparents.  They‘re doing fine; they‘re doing well, and they seem to have no lingering effects from the poisoning. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Clint, when you see these sort of things happening, what this thug has done, how do you track it down?  What do you do as a profiler and investigator? 

VAN ZANDT:  Sure.  You always do a two-track investigation, Joe.  Track number one says you take the guy at his word and then you say, “OK, one can, maybe, maybe, maybe it can happen.  Two cans, I don‘t think so.  Three cans, absolutely not.” 

But then, as your clip showed, I mean, food manufacturing, soft drink manufacturing, things like that, they use high-speed lines where it‘s next to impossible for somebody, number one, to contaminate the entire vat of soup or drink, much less to lean over and put something in one can. 

So as an investigator, you start to look, “What are the statistical probabilities that something like this would take place?”  And then you say, “I don‘t think so.”  So then you start to look at this guy‘s background and say, “What would cause him to do this terrible thing?”

SCARBOROUGH:  And that‘s how you track it down.  All right.  Thank you so much, Cathy.  And thank you, Clint.  And, Clint, stay with us. 

VAN ZANDT:  I will, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘re going to be coming back to you later on the show. 

Now, question:  Did Star Jones‘ fight with Barbara Walters actually boost her career?  The former daytime diva started her new job hosting “House Hunters” on Home and Garden TV last night, and she was a big hit.  The ratings were up 36 percent. 

ABC may think she is ratings poison, but “In Touch Weekly” reporters that potential employers are fighting to get a meeting with Star.  She already has a number of job offers. 

And with me now with all the details, from “In Touch,” Tom O‘Neil.

Tom, tell us about all of the job offers that are piling up at Star Jones‘ doorstep. 

TOM O‘NEIL, “IN TOUCH WEEKLY”:  We have to be careful how we describe this.  She has been approached about the possibility of work from, for example, a number of reality TV shows, wanted to know if she‘d be interested in being a celebrity judge.  But comedian Robin Williams wants to talk to her about doing a project together.

But what‘s really fascinating is the rumors about CNN and FOX News Channel.  I was at CNN studio in Los Angeles the morning after her interview with Larry King.  I was in the studios; I heard the people standing around talking who had been there the night before, that FOX News Channel actually called Star, reached her through the control room, right before she went in the chair with Larry.  They were that eager to talk to her. 

When I asked FOX News Channel about this, they said, “Well, we hear that she‘s talking to CNN.” 

SCARBOROUGH:  So you‘re telling me that the FOX News Channel tracks Star Jones down when she was sitting—when she was about to go sit in the chair with Larry King at CNN headquarters? 

O‘NEIL:  Yes.  Now, both news channels deny this.  They claim that they have not had conversations with Star, but that simply is not the case. 

Now, Joe, the only news channel that has not offered her a job, as far as I can tell, is MSNBC.  And I think she‘d look real good in a chair next to you. 

Keep an open mind here, because, you know, this is a gal who does well with the multiple host things, and she‘d be your buddy.  You‘d get free pay, less shoes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, that‘s great.  Actually, you know, a lot of times I‘m on the air without any shoes.  I‘m a southerner, after all.  That‘s the way we roll, baby. 

So bottom line is:  Star Jones has been playing this dastardly diva through the years.  She had this god-awful wedding last summer, revolted everybody.  She‘s been called a diva.  It‘s been said that she‘s impossible to work with. 

People that knew her at the beginning of her career says she‘s totally changed, that she‘s just—she‘s just the devil wearing Prada, or whatever that is she‘s wearing.  And yet that seems to be paying off for her.  Star Jones may be getting the last laugh here, huh?

O‘NEIL:  Yes, I really think she is.  It‘s a lot like Martha Stewart coming out of jail and getting besieged with job offers.  Of course, it didn‘t pay off very well for Martha, but let‘s add one more thing to the list of names you just called Star.  You know, she‘s a self-proclaimed bitch.  One of her most famous quotes is, “I define bitch.”  She goes, “B-I-T-C-H.  That means babe in total charge of herself.” 

SCARBOROUGH:  So in the end, this career move, this fight with Barbara Walters, looks like it may be turning out to be a good career move where Star Jones isn‘t part of an ensemble cast.  Star Jones is the star herself. 

O‘NEIL:  I think so.  Right now, there‘s such a huge curiosity factor about her.  She‘s going to be able to capitalize on that with some people.  Clearly, she‘s doing that with the House and Garden Channel.

And come on, let‘s wish her well.  We all kid about her, but in fact, she‘s had a distinguished career as a legal reporter for the “Today Show” and for “Inside Edition.”  She was great on “The View” in the early days.  And if she‘s been humbled at all by what‘s happened recently, maybe she‘s learned her lesson.  And let‘s hope that whatever she does next works out well. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, let‘s hope so.  And I wish her well because every time we can do a story on Star Jones, more people watch.  Which means, of course, she put puts people‘s seats in the chair, which is why CNN and FOX and other networks are reported reportedly interested in her. 

Hey, thanks so much.  “In Touch Weekly‘s” Tom O‘Neil.  As always, we greatly appreciate it. 

Now, when we come back, “Joe‘s Justice.”  There is a serial killer loose in Phoenix.  We‘ll bring you the very latest.  Erin Runnion‘s going to be here live to help get those answers.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now it‘s time for tonight‘s “Joe‘s Justice.”  All this week at this time, we‘re demanding answers about our criminal justice system, focusing on unsolved cases, cases where you and I together can make a difference. 

Victims‘ rights advocate Erin Runnion‘s here, as we will be all week.  And tonight, we‘ll talk about the city of Phoenix, Arizona.  It‘s a city in fear after a series of unresolved shootings.  At least 13 people have been wounded in this crime spree since May.  Could a serial killer be behind the crimes? 

Now police say these shootings, the latest shootings, may be linked to 25 other attacks from last year which killed four people.  Of course, this comes as the city tries to track down the so-called Baseline Rapist, who‘s believed to have killed at least five people there, and now they‘re adding a possible sixth homicides. 

Here now to help us out to get the story behind the story is Phoenix police Sergeant Andy Hill, victims rights advocate, Erin Runnion, and MSNBC analyst and former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt.

Let me start with you, Sergeant.  Bring us up to date with the very latest.  Who are you looking for? 

SGT. ANDY HILL, PHOENIX POLICE DEPARTMENT:  Well, Joe, you did a pretty good job of describing the situation, here.  We have a serial killer that the media‘s dubbed the Baseline Rapist.  He is a robber, sexual assault suspect, kidnapper, and he has escalated to homicide.  We have 19 incidents that we‘ve bumped up to 21 today.  And we have probably now a sixth homicide that we are saying is attributed to this suspected serial killer. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I know you can‘t go into the leads, the specifics of the leads, but do you have any good information to work off of that may suggest that you may at least be able to pick up some sort of trail on who this guy is? 

HILL:  Well, Joe, we do have the six homicides connected with forensic evidence.  We can‘t disclose what that is.  We do have a composite description that you‘ve been gracious show, which indicates what he probably looks like when he‘s out lurking about most of the time.

But we really are looking for input from the community.  We‘re going out to a major meeting tomorrow night.  We continually are within the community, asking for help to people to call for suspicious activity.  And, of course, we have a silent witness reward.  All the offenses together are a pool of about $100,000. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, Clint, profile this guy for us.  From what you know, who would you be looking for as an FBI profiler? 

VAN ZANDT:  Well, you‘d probably be looking for somebody who knows the local area, Joe, who knows how to get in and out, who knows the streets and the back alleys. 

You know, the challenge for the sergeant and his police department is you‘ve got this guy that you‘re showing right here, who has escalated from physical assaults, robberies, break-ins to now homicides.  And then you‘ve got one, probably two individuals who may be around town shooting people at random. 

So this is a real challenge for the community.  And it‘s a challenge for the police department.  I mean, you control a lot of police officers on the street, but you can‘t cover every street in a community as large as Phoenix. 

This is where you need the civilian population to step up.  They have to be the eyes and ears of law enforcement and start providing police information on things they see, things they hear, to get this serial rapist, now serial killer, as well as these other shooters off the street.  The citizens of the community are going to have to step up to bat. 

SCARBOROUGH:  They‘re going to have to step up.  And let me ask you, as a profiler, how unusual is it that this guy starts with robbery, and then he steps it up to raping women, and then he starts killing people.  I mean, Ted Bundy—I don‘t think Ted Bundy began his criminal spree by breaking into 7-11‘s.  How unusual is this?

VAN ZANDT:  No, he didn‘t, but a lot do, Joe.  A lot of times, we‘ll see an escalation.  Sometimes it can come with the peeping toms, then it‘ll go into killing animals.  Then it‘ll move up to assaults against humans, sexual assaults, and eventually homicides. 

Now, this killer—or these killers—you don‘t have to progress.  I mean, you can make—it‘s a matter of choice every time.  They can say, “Hey, I‘m going stop it.”  But this is someone—there is a psychosexual need that we hear about with serial killers where they keep progressing. 

And now, with the media attention, these individuals are getting, too, sometimes, you know—we all remember the BTK Killer from Kansas.  I mean, this guy craved the attention.  He wanted to be out there on the edge of the spear committing these crimes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Erin, I was down in Gainesville at the end of my legal studies career down there when there was a guy going around, a serial killer going around killing young women.  And it created such fear in the community.  Talk about that fear, and talk about the victims and their family members.  What do you tell them? 

RUNNION:  Well, I think that, to reiterate what was just said, it is up to the civilians and the people of Phoenix to really rally around the victims in these cases.  You know, they are the story here right now, and if they can honor those people that have already been taken, who have already been attacked, it helps fuel the story.  It helps keep it in their local news.  It helps keep the profiles out there, keeps the vigilance up within the community. 

And it honors the victims.  That is the best thing that they can do for the family, is to not just act out of fear for their own safety, but to act out of a sense of justice for the victims. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Sergeant Hill, as you‘ve said, really, you‘re doing everything you can do, but I‘m sure you all can‘t do it alone.  Phoenix is such a massive community.  What do you recommend people do to help your cause in bringing this serial killer to justice? 

HILL:  Well, Joe, I really thank your guests for being so supportive.  That really is the key, is people taking their civic responsibility to heart.  If they do have information, that they need to call Silent Witness, 602-261-8600, which you‘ve been gracious enough to put on.  If they see do see suspicious activity, they need to call 911 and get to a phone as soon as they can. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Thank you, Sergeant.  We‘ll have to leave it there. 

Thank you so much.  Clint and Erin, stay with us.  We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back to “Joe‘s Justice.”  Help us find a 3-year-old North Dakota girl.  Her name is Reachelle Smith.  She was last seen May 16th.  And the body of her alleged kidnapper was found in a van where he committed suicide, but still no sign of little Reachelle. 

Police say leads in the case have slowed down and they need your help tonight.  Still here with us, Erin Runnion, and also MSNBC analyst and former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt.

Erin, what would you tell Americans?  What do they need to do?  And what‘s the likelihood that this little girl could still be alive? 

RUNNION:  Well, you always have to hold out hope that she could still be alive.  And regardless, this family, this community in North Dakota needs to know, they need to know one way or another. 

And, you know, all things are pointing to this guy who said that he was her dad.  DNA has since proved that he is not.  He told her custodial aunt that he was going to take her to visit her biological mother, and she hadn‘t been seen since. 

An Amber Alert was issued the same day that she was reported missing on May 22nd, and they have scoured that van and they have not found any sign of Reachelle. 

It is possible that she could be any number of places.  He was from Kansas.  People need to be looking.  People need to find this little girl, give her family a sense of peace. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Clint, what do you do?  Obviously, it‘s been a long time since they found this van.  The guy killed himself.  Certainly, the news sounds grim, but even if you believe that she may no longer be alive, what do you do to try to get any information you can, again, to bring this family some sort of peace, some sort of closure? 

VAN ZANDT:  Sure, you don‘t give up on these cases, Joe.  You and I are parents.  We don‘t give up on our kids; we don‘t give up on anybody else‘s kids. 

In a case like this, you create a timeline for this guy.  You start maybe a month or two before he got possession of child, and you take it up to his death.  And then you match up his credit card records, his travels, his phone calls.

You know, on the off-chance he passed his child onto somebody else, he gave her away, he sold her.  I mean, worst-case scenario, we all know what that is.  He may well have murdered her, and then we‘re looking for a body. 

But until then, until then we‘ve got to cover every lead.  And, you know, Joe, one word that was said—we talk about DNA.  Again, you‘ve been an advocate of victims like this for a long time.  And a case like this and, especially this serial killer case in Phoenix that you just looked at, Joe, this screams for a national DNA database. 

Every time the police arrest someone, if they can take his or her 10 fingerprints, we ought to be taking their DNA.  There ought to be a national DNA databank, and we ought to be able to get these offenders off the street the first time, not the fifth time or the 55th time. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And we‘re looking at these pictures of Reachelle.  What a beautiful little girl.  Erin, I‘ll give you the last word tonight. 

RUNNION:  Oh, bring her home.  This is a case that, you know, touches everyone.  Our kids need us, and we are their only voices.  If we aren‘t vigilant in our communities to bring our children home, who else is going to find them?  It‘s up to us. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thank you so much, Erin Runnion.  Thank you, Clint Van Zandt.

And the Smith family believes that the suspect gave Reachelle to somebody else before taking his own life.  Anybody who may have any information whatsoever about her disappearance, please call the number on your screen tonight.  And it‘s 701-852-0111.

And just moments away, stay tuned for “MSNBC Investigates: Dangerous Crossing.” 

It‘s time now for tonight‘s mailbag.  We first go to Barbara in North Carolina.  And she says, “Dear Joe, I agree that businesses and landlords should be fined for hiring and renting to illegal immigrants.  I recently moved out of an apartment complex that had as many as 14 illegal immigrants living in one bedroom apartment.  And I did not feel safe.” 

And from Jamie in Florida who writes, “I enjoyed watching ‘The View‘ for the sheer entertainment value of seeing Star Jones make a fool of her arrogant self.  The fun is over, and so is Star.”

I wouldn‘t be so sure about that, Jamie.  It looks like the Star is on the rise, but not on this network, thank goodness. 

Now, we want to hear from you.  Send me your e-mails to Joe@MSNBC.com

That‘s Joe@MSNBC.com.  And make sure you include your name and hometown.

Thanks so much for being with us tonight.  I‘m Joe Scarborough, and you‘ve been in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  We look forward to seeing you tomorrow night at 9:00.

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

END   

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.

transcript

Watch Scarborough Country each weeknight at 9 p.m. ET

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,