updated 9/26/2006 10:51:49 AM ET 2006-09-26T14:51:49

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  And right now in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY: A Fox hit job?  That assessment from former president Bill Clinton after Fox pushes the president on why he let bin Laden get away.  Was it a fair and balanced interviewed, or was Hillary Clinton right when she talked about a vast right-wing conspiracy?

And is Nancy Grace milking a young mother‘s tragic death to drive CNN‘s ratings up?  We ask our experts whether she‘s exploiting a tragedy her interview may have caused.  And we‘ll tell you how the mother is speaking out from beyond the grave about media types twisting the truth.

And later: Forget the 40-year-old virgin.  A 29-year-old writer and comic is taking unusual steps to lose hers before she turns 30.  We‘ll ask her why.

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

First up tonight, the wrath of Bill Clinton unleashed.  The former president exploded during a Fox News interview.  On “Fox News Sunday,” Mr.  Clinton became visibly agitated when Chris Wallace asked him if he‘d done enough to capture Osama bin Laden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, “FOX NEWS SUNDAY”:  Do you think you did enough, sir?

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  No, because I didn‘t get him.

WALLACE:  Right.

CLINTON:  But at least I tried.  That‘s the difference between me and some, including all of the right-wingers who are attacking me now.  They ridiculed me for trying.  They had eight months to try.  They did not try.  I tried.

So I tried and failed.  When I failed, I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy and the best guy in the country, Dick Clarke, who got demoted.  So you did Fox‘s bidding on this show.  You did your nice little conservative hit job on me.  What I want to know here...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, wait...

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE:  I‘m asking a question.

CLINTON:  No, no.

WALLACE:  You don‘t‘ think that‘s a legitimate question?

CLINTON:  It was a perfectly legitimate question, but I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked this question of.  I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked, Why didn‘t you do anything about the Cole?  I want to know how many people you asked, Why did you fire Dick Clarke?  I want to know how many people you asked...

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE:  Have you ever watched “Fox News Sunday,” sir?

CLINTON:  I don‘t believe you asked them that.

WALLACE:  We ask plenty of questions...

CLINTON:  You didn‘t ask that, did you.  Tell the truth!

WALLACE:  About the USS Cole?

CLINTON:  Tell the truth, Chris.

WALLACE:  I—I—with—with Iraq...

CLINTON:  Did you ever ask that?

WALLACE:  ... and Afghanistan, there‘s plenty of stuff to ask, sir.

CLINTON:  Did you ever ask that?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s remarkable!  That‘s unbelievable!  Bill Clinton in full true form.  Now, for his part, Wallace claimed to be shocked at Bill Clinton‘s reaction, saying, quote, “Former president Clinton‘s a very big man.”  You see how little Wallace looked next to him?  “As he leaned forward, wagging his finger in my face and then poking the notes I was holding, I felt as if a mountain was coming in front of me.”

Was Bill Clinton fighting to defend his honor or revving up the Democratic base?  Well—and was the Fox News man‘s question and line of questioning out of line?  Here now is Lawrence O‘Donnell—he‘s former executive producer of “The West Wing”—Rachel Sklar of Huffingtonpost.com and Bob Kohn, the author of “Journalistic Fraud.”

Lawrence, you know, there are a lot of times when I couldn‘t even watch Bill Clinton on TV in the 1990s because he—he agitated me so much.  But that was a virtuoso performance by a politician who is still—man, he still in mid-season form.  You know, Drudge talked about this “purple rage.”  There was no purple rage there.  Bill Clinton is not going lose control unless he‘s playing to an audience.  What was he trying to accomplish on this remarkable interview?

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, FORMER EXEC. PRODUCER, “THE WEST WING”:  Well, I think, first of all, Joe, he really was trying to address the issue of what his administration and what did he personally do about Osama bin Laden, especially—and he mentioned this—in the wake of the recent CBS...

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, the ABC.  Yes.  Right.

O‘DONNELL:  Yes, ABC, “Path to 9/11,” which he said was wrong about what he did.

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, Lawrence, but stop right there.  You and I both know if Bill Clinton wanted to be together and act presidential, act like a former president, he could have handled it in the way former presidents handle these interviews.  But he got out of his chair, practically.  He went after poor little Chris Wallace, who really did look like a mountain was coming down on top of him, and he responded in a very unusual way.  Why?

O‘DONNELL:  Well, I think he did want to show Democrats and people on the left side of the aisle that he‘s the guy who can go on Fox and win, that he was not going to get pushed around by an interviewer.  And he is in that position of ex-president, where the interviewer—Chris Wallace, by the way, I don‘t think did do a right-wing hit job.  I think the interview was a perfectly sensible interview, from Chris Wallace‘s perspective.  But Clinton wanted to show, I can control this.  And I think, you know, any former president actually is powerful enough to do that because they do get more deference in that interview than Chris Wallace ever would have given to a senator.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, and Rachel Sklar, I—here‘s my theory.  And you saw the interview.  You‘re media analyst for Huffingtonpost.  I think Bill Clinton was using Fox News to help reconnect his wife and the Clinton brand with the Democratic base, saying, Listen, we‘re going to fight back.  Democrats aren‘t fighting back enough.  You don‘t think Hillary‘s tough enough to be president of the United States, you‘ve got it wrong.  What do you think?

RACHEL SKLAR, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM:  Well, I didn‘t hear the word Hillary come up at all in that interview, really.  This was about...

SCARBOROUGH:  Hillary doesn‘t have to come up in these interviews.  I mean, obviously, she‘s the one who‘s going to be on the ticket in 2008, right?

SKLAR:  Well, you‘re taking a bit of a leap.  Ostensibly, Clinton was doing all this round of media coverage to promote the Clinton Global Initiative.  And the circumstances for this interview were granted with the stipulation that half the time would be spent on that topic.  And this was brought up by Chris Wallace, and he brought up—you know, he brought up Somalia, the USS Cole.  He brought up the book “Looming Towers (ph).”  He brought it all on the table and gave Clinton an opportunity to respond.  Or rather, Clinton took the opportunity to respond.

SCARBOROUGH:  I mean, that‘s legitimate, though, isn‘t it?  If you talk about his father, Mike Wallace, remember back after Ronald Reagan was out of office, Mike Wallace sits down with a lifelong friend, Nancy Reagan.  I just—this just now popped into my mind.  I hope I have all the facts right.  I think it was in ‘89.  Sat down with Nancy Reagan and started poking her, a former first lady, about Ronald Reagan getting paid a couple million dollars for speeches in Japan.

I mean, these people are public figures.  They‘ve got to know what‘s coming, right?

SKLAR:  Sure.  I‘m sure Clinton was able to figure out that he might get questioned on the topic, and I‘s sure he was happy to have the platform to counter what he called the campaign of misinformation, as he said, that there were three grave factual errors that were not in the 9/11 commission report and that “Path to 9/11” contended to have been based on that.  It was his opportunity to set that record straight, and no doubt, this was uppermost in his mind for the past few weeks, so...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, and there‘s no doubt, as an ex-president, you have to sit on the sidelines and listen to a lot of this stuff and take it in, and I‘m sure it did irritate him a great bit.

Hey, I want to show you, Bob Kohn, before we go to you, President Clinton attacking Wallace and Fox News for setting him up, in the president‘s own words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON:  You set this meeting up because you‘re going get a lot of criticism from your viewers because Rupert Murdoch‘s supporting my work on climate change.  And you came here under false pretenses and said that you‘d spend half the time talking about...

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON:  You said you‘d spend half the time talking about what we did out there to raise $7 billion-plus in three days from 215 different commitments, and you don‘t care.  But you...

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE:  President Clinton, if you look at the questions, sir, you‘ll see half the questions are about—I didn‘t think this was going set you off on such a tear.

CLINTON:  You launched—set off on a tear because you didn‘t formulate it in an honest way and because you people ask me questions you don‘t ask the other side.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Bob Kohn...

BOB KOHN, AUTHOR, “JOURNALISTIC FRAUD”:  Joe?

SCARBOROUGH:  ... he said it was a hit job.  He said Fox set him up. 

What‘s your response?

KOHN:  I don‘t agree with your premise.  I don‘t think this was a planned attack by Bill Clinton.  It was such an emotional response.  If it was planned, you‘d think he would have been much more calm and he would have gotten his facts straight.  I mean, the bloggers tore him apart today.  Virtually nothing he said in his defense was the truth.  I mean, and the last time we saw President Clinton in an emotional response, wagging his finger, he was lying to the American public.  So I think...

SCARBOROUGH:  But Bob Kohn...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... Bill Clinton wagging his finger at Fox News is what the Democratic base wants to see.

KOHN:  So...

SCARBOROUGH:  Bill Clinton is more of a hero...

KOHN:  I can‘t...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... with the base today than he ever was.

KOHN:  Yes, but...

SCARBOROUGH:  And with apologies to Rachel...

KOHN:  But Joe...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... everything Bill Clinton‘s doing between now and 2008 is about Hillary Clinton.

KOHN:  No, but you know that the Republicans have been desperately trying to refocus the issue from Iraq to the war on terror, particularly whether the Republicans would be better than the Democrats on the war on terror.  What better way to bring that issue to the public than to have Bill Clinton make an emotional appeal on TV, just intensifying that issue?  It was all about the performance of Republicans versus Democrats in the war on terror.  That‘s the last thing the Democrats would want to hear.  So I just don‘t agree with you at all.  I think there was an emotional response.  I think he just blew it here.  It was just—just came from the heart.

SCARBOROUGH:  Lawrence, I—Lawrence O‘Donnell, I—you know Bill Clinton.

O‘DONNELL:  Yes.

SCARBOROUGH:  And you certainly know that this is a guy who—I mean, he‘s been through so much.  You go through the type of emotional beatings that Bill Clinton took back in the 1990s when he was president of the United States, a little question from Chris Wallace isn‘t going set him off on this tear unless he‘s ready to go down that path, right?

O‘DONNELL:  Yes.  I think Clinton was actually a little irritated that Chris Wallace went to it so quickly.  He expected another 10 minutes—another 5 minutes, at least, on the Clinton Global Initiative.  But Clinton absolutely—I‘ve absolutely no doubt planned to say those things, and especially planned to challenge him on, What questions have you asked the Bush administration...

KOHN:  Oh, but that‘s...

O‘DONNELL:  ... about the Cole and about all those things.  Those words definitely...

KOHN:  That‘s where he was wrong!

O‘DONNELL:  But those were definitely ready and rehearsed...

KOHN:  Oh, no, no!  They couldn‘t have been!

O‘DONNELL:  ... lines ready to go.

KOHN:  There‘s no way!

O‘DONNELL:  And everything Clinton said in that interview was actually correct.

KOHN:  Oh, absolutely wrong!

O‘DONNELL:  They did demote Richard Clarke...

KOHN:  Oh, come on!

O‘DONNELL:  Everything he said...

KOHN:  Lawrence...

O‘DONNELL:  ... was right.  And the most important...

KOHN:  Come on, Lawrence!

O‘DONNELL:  ... thing he said was that he came closer to killing Osama bin Laden...

KOHN:  Oh!

O‘DONNELL:  ... than anybody in this administration did.

KOHN:  Lawrence...

O‘DONNELL:  It was a winning performance.

SCARBOROUGH:  Bob Kohn...

KOHN:  Yes, come on!

O‘DONNELL:  There‘s no way to deny that.

SCARBOROUGH:  Go ahead, Bob.

KOHN:  Hey, listen, on March 28, 2004, Chris asked the exact same question to Donald Rumsfeld.  Clinton didn‘t have his facts straight.  There was a connection between Mogadishu and “Black Hawk Down” and al Qaeda.  Al Qaeda apparently trained these guys in how to use those missiles, the—the RPGs.  I mean—I mean, he wasn‘t prepared at all on this!  He got all of those issues wrong!

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, and Rachel...

SKLAR:  He was so prepared...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... let—let—hold on a second, Rachel.  Let me ask you a question about Mike Wallace—or about Chris Wallace.  Has anyone ever accused Chris Wallace of being—I mean, even at the Huffingtonpost, which is obviously left of center Web site...

SKLAR:  Fair and balanced, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... has anybody ever—fair and balanced.  Exactly. 

That‘s what we all are, fair and balanced.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Has anybody ever accused Chris Wallace of being some sort of right-wing ideologue?  Because I‘ve never seen it.

SKLAR:  Well, I mean, I think there‘s a presumption on Fox towards...

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, because of—because of Fox, right.  But specifically...

SKLAR:  OK, but let‘s look at...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... Chris Wallace.

SKLAR:  Let‘s look at this.  Let‘s look at this interview.  I mean, even just based on this interview...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, no, no!  Hold on a second!  I need an answer to this because I think it‘ll be helpful for our viewers.  I‘m not—I‘m not passing judgment on Fox News, whether it‘s slanted way right or slanted moderately right.  Let‘s talk specifically about Chris Wallace.  Has anybody ever accused him of being a right-wing ideologue?

SKLAR:  Joe, I don‘t know the answer to that.  What I do know is that Chris Wallace is on Fox, and as such, he was the representative of his network in speaking to Clinton...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, what about you, Rachel?  Then let me ask you specifically, as media analyst for Huffingtonpost.   Do you think that Mike Wallace—or that Chris Wallace is a right-wing lackey?

SKLAR:  I don‘t necessarily think he‘s a right-wing lackey.  I do think he was baiting Clinton.  I do think he meant to elicit some sort of response.  And there‘s no question that he meant to call Clinton on the carpet and he meant to bring up all of those—you know, all the facts and bombard him with those facts.  I mean, he did not ask one simple question, he asked a compound question, bringing in all sorts of (INAUDIBLE).

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  OK.  Thank you so much, Rachel.  Thank you, Lawrence.  And thank you, Bob Kohn.  Greatly appreciate you all being with us.

Now, here‘s a fascinating interview.  Certainly, Chris Wallace is not a right-wing ideologue, not in my opinion, at least.  But he did go after him pretty aggressively, more aggressively, I think, than a lot of people would have gone after George Bush, Sr., after he left the Oval Office.

Coming up: The creators of “South Park” go on “Nightline” to explain why mocking Jesus is fair game in America, but talking about Mohammed—that‘s way out of bounds.  It‘s a double standard we‘ll confront.

Plus, new questions on Nancy Grace‘s relentless campaign against a young mom who killed herself after being grilled by the CNN host.  We‘ll show you what her suicide note says about media types like Nancy Grace.  And later: Road rage on the racetrack.  Two drivers get into a fist fight worthy of “Must See S.C.”  Oh!  Don‘t do that!

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He must be in that building below us.  Landed on the roof, Mr. Hanky (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hi-dee-ho, Jesus!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Wait here.  I can (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yea, look upon me and know me.  My children, you should know something.  I‘m packing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s bizarre!  That‘s a clip from the cartoon “South Park” depicting Jesus as an armed assassin.  It‘s just one of the many controversial ways “South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker portray Jesus on Comedy Central.  But the “South Park” creators got a different reaction when they simply tried to show an image of the Muslim prophet Mohammed.  Then—oh! -- their network, who had laughed all the way to the bank when Jesus was the butt of the jokes, censored their program and refused to show it, just as they did to a re-air of the Scientology episode.

Well, the “South Park” creators, Stone and Parker, were on ABC‘s “Nightline” Friday night, and they talked about that glaring double standard.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It really is open season on Jesus.  You know, we can do whatever we want to Jesus, and we have.  We‘ve had him say bad words.  We‘ve had him shoot a gun.  We‘ve had him kill people.  And you know, we can do whatever we want, but Mohammed, we couldn‘t just show a simple image.  And this was, like...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  But that‘s what‘s so funny, too, is that so many people then stood behind—you know, and—and actually, to Comedy Central‘s credit, they didn‘t do this, but so many people were saying, Well, we‘re not going to do anything with Mohammed because we‘re religiously tolerant.  No, you‘re not!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes!  Right!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You‘re afraid of getting blown up.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s what you‘re—you‘re afraid of getting blown up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (INAUDIBLE) issue, isn‘t it?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... Comedy Central copped to that, you know?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, they said, We‘re afraid of getting blown up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK.  Well, we can‘t argue with that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, they‘re certainly not religiously tolerant when you‘re talking about Christianity.  And as Parker and Stone said, they‘ve used the image of Jesus in ways that many Christians would find offensive.  Here‘s a look at Some of the ways they‘ve portrayed Jesus.  And while you‘re watching these clips, remember, the same network that ran them wouldn‘t even let them show an image of Mohammed out of respect to Muslim viewers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Ow!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Dude, Jesus is getting his butt kicked.  You‘ve got to fight, Jesus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Why?  What‘s the point.  No one believes in me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Look at me, I‘m Jesus.  Would you like me to crap on you, Mr. Bush?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yummy, yummy crap!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yummy, yummy crap!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yummy, yummy crap!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Christmas is for celebrating my birth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Christmas is for giving!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m here to put an end to your blasphemy!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This time, we finish it!  There can be only one!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is pretty (DELETED) right here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Go Santa!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Go Jesus!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Get up the stairs.  His sleigh is on the roof.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Jesus, behind you!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Jesus!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Jesus!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Jesus!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Fact is that Parker and Stone are correct.  Jesus and Christianity are fair game in a way that is unimaginable.  And so be it.  You know, an all-powerful God can handle a cartoon.  Besides, we have a 1st Amendment here in the United States, and the last time I checked, that applies to everyone, unless of course, you apply those same standards, as offensive as they may be, to Islam.  Then the 1st Amendment doesn‘t apply and all bets are off.

Coming up next, “Must See S.C.”  A car race turns into a boxing match. 

You‘ll hear from one of the drivers whose fists went flying.  And later:

The last time we heard from Mel Gibson, he was in a drunken rage, insulting Jews.  Now that he‘s sobered up, he‘s causing even more controversy.  Come along later when we‘re going to “Hollyweird.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, it‘s time to revive Aunt Ruth.  Tell her no more “South Park,” it‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” video you got to see.  First up, fight night at the racetrack.  This was a wild scene.  Yesterday in Toledo, Ohio, race car driver Michael Simko sprints across the racetrack to deliver a flying kick through the windshield of fellow driver Don St. Denis (ph).  Simko slammed his helmet through the car door, punched out the driver, who then hopped out to duke it out right there on the racetrack.

Now, Rita Crosby spoke earlier to St. DeNee, and today, here‘s how he describes it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He starts hitting me with his helmet, and so my natural reaction, I Just turned my head, and the next thing I know, I got cracked in the back of the head with his helmet, with my helmet on.  But it was a pretty good jolt.  I was trying to get out of the gear, and next thing you know, the window net‘s down and he‘s trying to throw punches at me.  And of course, adrenaline grows crazy, and you know, we go kind of cuckoo.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Kind of cuckoo for cuckoo-puff.

Next up: Hollywood starlet Jennifer Aniston was being honored on the cover of “People” magazine, an honor she shares with Dave Letterman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, “LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN”:  Jennifer Aniston was named best dressed human on the planet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I agree.  I...

LETTERMAN:  There is no better dressed person in the world than Jennifer Aniston.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I agree with that.

LETTERMAN:  That‘s just remarkable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  She‘s got a lot of class.

LETTERMAN:  Yes.  She‘s a beautiful woman, a lovely woman, and very well dressed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.

LETTERMAN:  And then I got an advance copy of next week‘s “People.”

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Next week‘s?

LETTERMAN:  I got it right here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes?

LETTERMAN:  Now, this doesn‘t even seem like a good idea for a magazine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What do you mean?

LETTERMAN:  I don‘t even—how could they get—I mean, all right, look at this.  I‘m on the cover.  This thing...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Not a good idea at all.  And finally, a shocking development.  Jon Stewart actually defends President Bush after Hugo Chavez calls him the devil.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  Now, I got to tell you, sir, if your point is that the president—President Bush—needs to be more humble, well, dare I say it, you may be the wrong messenger for that message.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART:  Let‘s be honest, Hugo.  The Chavez imprimatur is not a guarantee of freshness.  You know what I‘m talking about?  There‘s Cindy Sheehan, hugging away her credibility with you.  There‘s Harry Belafonte.  Tally him bananas.

And there‘s Danny Glover this morning in Harlem, after you had called the president the devil again.  By the way, Danny Glover?  What are you doing?  Seriously, Danny, meet me at camera 4.  Hey, Danny!  What is with the “Lethal Weapon” team?  I mean, first Gibson, now you.  How‘d you guys squeeze four pretty solid movies out of that partnership?  What kind of conversations were you guys having in the trailer?  Hey, Mel, the workers must control the means of production!  Yes, I know, Danny (DELETED) Jews.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, it hurts!  It hurts!

Coming up—oh, she hurts, too.  God!  Coming up, the suicide note from a woman who killed herself after appearing on Nancy Grace‘s program.  Is it enough to quiet Grace‘s campaign against her?  No way!  The ratings are too good.  We‘ll show you why.  Plus: You may have laughed at the 40-year-old Virgin, but one woman says it‘s no joke.  What she‘s doing to lose it before she turns 30.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up, Mel Gibson is afraid to show his face in public, but that‘s not stopping him from opening his big mouth.  We‘ll tell you what he had to say about America and the war in Iraq. 

Plus, a single, white female‘s quest to lose her virginity before she turns 30.  She‘ll tell us why her dad‘s even trying to help out.  Hmm.

Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Those stories in just minutes.

But first, police release a suicide note from the Florida woman who killed herself after a cross-examination on CNN‘s “Nancy Grace” show.  Before I read you the dead mom‘s last words, here is the interview that sparked the controversy. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE:  Where were you?  Why aren‘t you telling us where you were that day.  You were the last person to be seen with him.

MELINDA DUCKETT, LATE MOTHER OF TRENTON DUCKETT:  And we‘ve already gone out and distributed the fliers and spoken to...

GRACE:  Right.  Why aren‘t you telling us and giving us a clear picture of where you were before your son was kidnapped? 

DUCKETT:  Because I‘m not going to put those kind of details out. 

GRACE:  Why? 

DUCKETT:  Because I was told not to. 

GRACE:  Ms. Duckett, you‘re not telling us for a reason.  What is the reason?  You refuse to give even the simplest facts of where you were with your son before he went missing.  It is day 12.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, after that interview, Melinda Duckett, of course, wrote a suicide note to the public.  She said this, quote, “Your focus came off of my son.  You created rumors and twisted words.  I only wish that you do not push anyone else.  There were many errors you made in understanding me.”

Meanwhile, the big-mouthed blonde has seen a surge in her ratings.  “Nancy Grace” averaged 689,000 viewers the first three days of last week, well above the show‘s average viewership of 534,000, that is, almost a 30 percent increase, leading some to ask whether Grace is exploiting this mother‘s death, a death that many say she may have helped precipitate with her interview.  Is she using it for higher ratings?

We have us now, we have psychotherapist Dr. Robi Ludwig.  She also regularly appears on Nancy Grace‘s show.  We also have media analyst Steve Adubato.  He‘s also the author of “Make the Connection.”  And still with us, Rachel Sklar, media editor from TheHuffingtonPost.com. 

Steve, let me start with you.  CNN says this is not about ratings. 

Nancy Grace says it‘s not about ratings.  Do you buy that? 

STEVE ADUBATO, MEDIA ANALYST:  It‘s absurd, Joe.  It‘s all about ratings.  My problem with Nancy—and I‘ve said it before; I‘ll say it again—it‘s like beating a dead horse here.  Nancy Grace doesn‘t see the line.  She saw an opportunity, Joe, her producers saw an opportunity to jump in on the situation.  She acted more like an interrogator, like the prosecutor she used to be.  That is not the role we play as journalists.  She pushed this woman.  I don‘t know if she had anything to do with this woman committing suicide, but she didn‘t help, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But she pushed her.  I mean, she pushed her, though.

ADUBATO:  Say it again?

SCARBOROUGH:  She pushed her, though.

ADUBATO:  She pushed her.

SCARBOROUGH:  Obviously, because—that‘s her shtick.  That helps her in the ratings.  And so, again, we‘re not just talking about what happened that night, but what happened after that.  And she replayed this and replayed every night, and she‘s seen her ratings go up.  And she keeps replaying it.

And when I suggested to the Associated Press in a story this past week that CNN would stomp anybody else that tried doing this but they wouldn‘t do it to Nancy Grace because she‘s a ratings queen at Headline News, they denied it, said that was ridiculous.  What do you say?

ADUBATO:  Well, that‘s ridiculous.  And, by the way, a 30 percent increase in the cable news wars, that‘s big.  That‘s huge.  And so they‘re not going to touch her.

But here is the issue, from my point of view.  Joe, forgot about Nancy Grace.  This is an opportunity for all of us in the media who say we want to do the right thing to ask ourselves this question:  If we had a 30 percent pop in the ratings, would we, could we be able to live with ourselves if we potentially had contributed to somebody committing suicide who was emotionally and psychologically not prepared to be on television?

Nancy Grace is not staying up at night asking herself that question. 

But what about the rest of us?  None of us are in that position.  Nancy is.  She‘s not only not backing down and saying, “I did something wrong or I need to look at it,” she‘s going all out, saying, “If I can make more out of it, I will.”  She‘s prosecuting a dead woman, and it‘s totally irresponsible. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, Dr. Ludwig, she is prosecuting a dead woman, isn‘t she?  And isn‘t she doing it because it‘s good for ratings?

DR. ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST:  I don‘t think so.  Listen, anybody who hosts a show wants to put out a story that‘s interesting to their viewers.  I don‘t see anything wrong with that.  Nancy is—I mean, that‘s true for all of us who host shows.  And anybody who denies that is just being dishonest. 

ADUBATO:  With parameters.

LUDWIG:  Steve, you don‘t know Nancy.  Nancy is a very caring individual.  She has been very supportive...

ADUBATO:  Yes, you can really tell when you watch her on the air.

LUDWIG:  ... to Josh Duckett.  Listen, Nancy has a certain style.  People either like it or don‘t like it, and that‘s everybody‘s choice.  But the bottom line is the victim—during that clip, what you don‘t see is Nancy was equally as tough on the husband at that point in time because it wasn‘t clear what was going on. 

So she was equally as tough, and he handled it well.  The husband answered all of the questions easily, and effortlessly, and honestly. 

ADUBATO:  Great, great.

LUDWIG:  This is a woman who clearly was troubled.  It‘s so unfortunate what happened, but you can‘t blame her. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yet, Robi, though, at the same time, though—I mean, at the same time, though, you say that people like doing shows that have good ratings, and maybe that‘s why Nancy Grace is doing this.  But at the same time, as Steve said, there are parameters.  Don‘t you think Nancy Grace crossed the line when she just kept going after this woman after she was dead?  What purpose does that serve, other than spiking your ratings?

LUDWIG:  Well, I think it‘s important to understand the truth of the story, and I think that‘s what Nancy is trying to do.  And still there is a little boy out there who has not been found.  And so Nancy, in calling attention to this story, is trying to help resolve this case, which is still unresolved.

ADUBATO:  Joe, that‘s the job of law enforcement.  Joe, respectfully, it‘s the job of law enforcement.  It‘s the job of the authorities.  If, in fact, the media‘s job were to prosecute and persecute and find out the truth, in the middle of an investigation, after a little boy has been dead for a weeks, question:  What is the role for the law enforcement authorities?  Then why don‘t we, as the media, take over judge, jury, executioner?  It‘s insane.  There has to be parameters.  It‘s why we don‘t do this.  And, by the way, not everyone does everything for ratings, and we do draw a line.

LUDWIG:  I didn‘t say for ratings.  I didn‘t say for ratings.  I say people—no...

ADUBATO:  You say we‘re all trying to put on a good show.

LUDWIG:  ... people who host shows want to put stories out there that their audience likes.  There‘s nothing wrong with that.

ADUBATO:  With limits.  With limits and parameters.  Nancy has none. 

SCARBOROUGH:  There is nothing wrong with that.

RACHEL SKLAR, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM:  Can I just jump in here?  Can I just jump in here?

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, I want to ask you, Rachel, first though to look at this clip, because Nancy Grace doesn‘t take responsibility for Melinda Duckett‘s death.  In fact, she takes a different tact.  Take a listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NANCY GRACE, CNN HOST:  I do not feel that our show is to blame for what happened to Melinda Duckett. 

I did not go after Melinda Duckett.  Correction:  Melinda Duckett refused to answer questions to either myself or police about her child‘s whereabouts. 

To all the people that have been riding me like a mule about questioning her, I would advise them to, a, take a look at the presser today where police name her the primary suspect and, b, join us in the search to find this baby. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Rachel, what‘s that about? 

SKLAR:  All right, well, this is about a number of things.  I really think it‘s important to separate out the issues, because, first of all, there‘s the issue of whether or not Nancy Grace is a wonderful, caring person.  She has a certain on-air personality.  So the question becomes: 

What are those parameters and who gets to set them?

Because do you want to flip it over and decide who gets to decide what‘s, quote, unquote, “appropriate behavior”?  That can be a slippery slope, and one that I think that we want to approach carefully.  Supporting Nancy Grace‘s right to say what she wants on the air and behave how she wants on the air is very, very different from supporting how she does it. 

Obviously, she‘s not a warm and cuddly individual.  Obviously, it was incredibly aggressive, her questioning of Melinda Duckett, but I really think that the issue here is the fact that CNN ran that interview.  It was taped.  They ran it after she was dead.  I think that‘s the...

(CROSSTALK) 

ADUBATO:  Because it was a ratings winner, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Steve, you know what, Steve?  That‘s a great point she makes.  I can‘t even imagine what NBC lawyers and what the standards people at 30 Rock would say to me if I told them, “Listen, I kind of beat this lady up in an interview.  She just killed herself.  I‘m going run it on my show.”  They would drag me out of the front—they‘d never let me do it. 

ADUBATO:  Joe, I want to believe in NBC and at FOX and most of the folks—and I don‘t know the folks at CNN, but I‘ll tell you what:  I am stunned that CNN continues to not only defend Nancy Grace, but to promote what she is doing as if there are no parameters. 

Look, I said it before, I‘ll say it again:  We‘re all in a ratings war.  The question becomes:  At what point do we ask ourselves, if it potentially contributes to the death of a woman, be it she was involved or not—and, by the way, if she was a suspect and the police are saying she is, what did Nancy Grace do to help the police pursue the case?  Because if, in fact, she pushed this lady underground and potentially contributed to her death, then you‘ll never know what happened.  So how is that pursuing that truth?

SKLAR:  That‘s a really tough burden to put on any interviewer. 

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘ve got to go, but, Robi, I‘ve got to give you the last word.  Go ahead.

LUDWIG:  Yes, I think if this woman threatened to commit suicide, if the show aired, that would be a different story.  But, you know, listen, it‘s a judgment call.  It‘s hard to know what to say about it.  But I think Nancy‘s heart is in the right place, as is her show.

ADUBATO:  No remorse.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thank you, Steve.  Thank you, Robi.  Thank you, Rachel.

LUDWIG:  You‘re welcome.

SCARBOROUGH:  And, again, it‘s not the interview that concerns me. 

It‘s how she and CNN have used it since. 

Coming up, no babies allowed in Wisteria Lane.  Why the stars of “Desperate Housewives” are banned from giving birth on or off the set.

But first, she‘s managed to abstain from sex for nearly 30 years.  Then why is one woman suddenly in a rush to lose her virginity and writing about it in a magazine?  We‘ll talk to her next, and you‘ll be surprised to hear her reason why.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, when you have young teenagers and when you have kids heading off to college, you worry about all kinds of bad influences, but you probably aren‘t concerned about FOXnews.com.  But in a new video magazine, FOX‘s relationship expert says it‘s OK for kids, teenagers and those going to college, to sleep around.  Take a listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What you want to do is really have a good time, but you‘ve got to take a look at what works for you personally.  If you‘re comfortable with your sexuality and it means having different partners, I honestly don‘t think it‘s a bad thing as long as everyone is practicing safe sex and it‘s consensual.

(END VIDEO CLIP)  

SCARBOROUGH:  Chris, that‘s FOX News? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The Web site. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Their Web site?  Wow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A vlog, as the kids call it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  A vlog.  The kids do call it a vlog.

Well, FOX‘s dating experts encouraging kids to feel free and have sex if they want to, one 29-year-old woman is making waves for not having sex.  Sarah Dimuro is a 29-year-old virgin who wants to have sex before her 30th birthday, so she decided to ask “Jane” magazine for help in meeting Mr.  Right.  Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARAH DIMURO, 29-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN:  Hi.  My name is Sarah Dimuro, and I‘m 29 years old.  And I am a virgin.  I (INAUDIBLE) I wrote to “Jane” and I said that I (INAUDIBLE) I really want to—I thought that it was time for me to maybe, you know, have sex the first time.

SCARBOROUGH:  Sarah, it seems to me that a woman such as yourself, living in New York City, wouldn‘t need the help of a magazine to lose your virginity.  Why did you decide to lose it in such a public way?

DIMURO:  Originally, I had this idea when I turned, like, 29.  I was like, you know, I haven‘t really been on that many dates, and my friends were like, “You just need to date a lot.  I mean, you didn‘t do any of this in your 20s.”  And I was like, “It would be really fun to sort of like do this and then write about it as I‘m doing it, because there are a lot more women out there that are like 26, 27, 32, that are also virgins, for the same reason, not because of religion or a perceived like necessarily anything other than the fact than they haven‘t met the right person.”  So I thought originally... 

SCARBOROUGH:  So, for you, this wasn‘t about your faith or it wasn‘t about a moral choice, it‘s just something that happened to you? 

DIMURO:  The thing about it is, when I was in college, you know, I went to Smith College, an all-women‘s college, great school.  And then I went to grad school, where I was like with seven other people.  So there just wasn‘t a lot of opportunity.  However, all my friends went to coed schools.  My sister was married at 23.  You know, I mean, everyone around me was completely, you know, getting some, so to speak, you know? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Sexin‘ it up.  Sexin‘ it up while you were sitting on the sidelines.  How sad, right?

DIMURO:  I was watching lots of “Frasier” and, you know, learning about government.  So in that kind of...

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.

DIMURO:  Yes.

SCARBOROUGH:  What do your parents think about the fact that you are sort of raffling your virginity off to people all across the world?

DIMURO:  Well, let me say one thing, too.  You know, you say raffling.  Like, if 10 -- my birthday is November 7th.  If like 10 minutes to midnight on November 6th, I don‘t meet a guy, I‘m not going throw down the closest guy I can and hope for the best.  I mean, that‘s obviously not going to happen.  I mean...

SCARBOROUGH:  So it‘s got to be the right person, so if your birthday comes along and you haven‘t found the right person, you‘re going to say, “Oh, well, I‘ll right about it this way”?

DIMURO:  Yes, exactly.  And to be totally honest with you, I think—

I want to make this perfect clear—I think being a virgin is great.  Like, I think it‘s awesome.  I mean, I‘m not suggesting that, like, virginity is bad or that it‘s something to be ashamed of. 

Within like minutes of meeting me, I usually always talk about it.  I mean, it‘s not something I‘m, like, not proud of, you know?  But I think it‘s just something that, you know, for my situation, it‘s because I just haven‘t really put myself out there.  And I think, as a 29-year-old woman, I deserve to sort of see if maybe I could be a little more adult about my sex life, and I think that‘s OK.

SCARBOROUGH:  Do you think that you‘ll ever regret waiting this long? 

Or do you think you‘ll always be glad that you stuck it out? 

DIMURO:  I think that, you know, there‘s a presumption that I wanted to have sex when I was in my early 20s with that question and that I just couldn‘t.  You know, when I was in my early 20s and like mid-20s, I was trying to figure things out.  I had really severe acne, and I had jaw problems, and I had like lots of braces.  And it kind of affects your self-esteem just naturally.  So when all that stuff kind of cleared away, I kind of wanted to work on just figuring out myself as opposed to, you know, having sex. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So what did you think when you saw “The 40-year-old Virgin”?  Were you inspired by that story?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hold up.  Hold up.  Hold up.  Yo, answer this question:  Are you a virgin?  Are you a virgin? 

STEVE CARELL, ACTOR:  Yes, not since I was 10. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It all makes sense.  You‘re a virgin! 

CARELL:  Shut up. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  How does that happen? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He‘s a virgin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I knew it.  That makes so much sense then.  He‘s a virgin.

CARELL:  You guys are hilarious. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  All right.  All right.  All right.  Come on. 

Don‘t be mean.

DIMURO:  It was as if I was watching a documentary of my life.  No, minus the action figures, mind you.  Well, first of all, the thing about that movie was he was a little socially, you know, I don‘t want to say delayed, but unique, in that movie.  But it was really funny about that was that kind of made me realize, you know, I‘m not really like him.  I‘m a little more social.  But at the same time, you know, he was putting himself out there in that sort of methodical kind of way, and he kind of wanted to do it.  And I could see easily how he‘s gone as long as he has without having sex. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Sarah, thank you so much. 

DIMURO:  Thank you so much.

SCARBOROUGH:  And good luck.  And as they used to say on “Hills Street Blues,” be careful out there. 

DIMURO:  OK.  Thank you. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘ll be right back with “Hollyweird.”  Weird.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Get ready to dodge the paparazzi.  It‘s time to take a trip to “Hollyweird.” 

First up, attention “Desperate Housewives” fans this season.  Marcia Cross might be pregnant, but her character, Bree, will not.  “OK” magazine senior reporter Courtney Hazlett is with us, and also “US Weekly” editor-at-large Katrina Szish joins us.

And, Katrina, let‘s start with you.  Are they afraid to show a little bulge in Wisteria Lane? 

KATRINA SZISH, “US WEEKLY”:  I don‘t think they‘re afraid to show a little bulge, but I think they probably have this elaborate plot so planned far in advance that there really isn‘t much that they‘re going to be able to do to squeeze in a belly bulge, so to speak.  Maybe if they knew a little bit further in advance, but that would mess everything up.

SCARBOROUGH:  But they do—I mean, they sell these women as sex symbols.  And obviously becoming pregnant doesn‘t help out, does it? 

SZISH:  Well, you know, I think nowadays sexy women are pregnant.  I think if any of these women were pregnant, they would be just as sexy.  So I don‘t know if that‘s as much of a problem.  I think it‘s more getting in the way of the storyline, which is a very complex storyline. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Courtney, last night—speaking of story lines—a lot of people complained that last night was too racy.  What was your take?

COURTNEY HAZLETT, “OK” MAGAZINE:  You know what?  I disagree.  Are you really going to tell me that any of the scenes with John the gardener were less racy than Bree just saying, “Republicans don‘t do that”?  I think that‘s taking it a little bit far.

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, I agree.  I agree.  And speaking of taking it too far, Star Jones may be heading back to court.  She isn‘t happy with the “National Enquirer” after they printed a story saying her marriage was a sham.  But, Courtney, so many people have said her marriage is a sham.  How do you win money when a magazine just reprints what a lot of people are saying? 

HAZLETT:  You know, it‘s kind of the nature of the beast.  A lot of people are talking about it being a sham, and Star has every right to defend herself.  A lot of P.R. experts will probably say, though, you know, let‘s just not go there.  Let‘s let things die a quiet death. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, die a slow, painful death.  But she still remains a very controversial figure.  Does this help keep her in the headlines? 

HAZLETT:  Absolutely.  She really hasn‘t bounced back yet from leaving “The View.”  And she lost some endorsement deals right afterwards.  So, you know, is she trying to get a place back in the spotlight?  I don‘t know, but it‘s definitely helping.

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Katrina, let‘s talk about Mel Gibson.  He‘s back in the headlines, speaking of headlines.  He‘s talking out against the war in Iraq.  He‘s got the new movie coming out.  He seems to be bashing Bush.  Is Mel Gibson trying to play to the left elite in Hollywood?

SZISH:  I think that‘s exactly what he‘s trying to do.  I think he‘s trying to show Hollywood, who really just wanted to be done with him after the drunk driving incident, I think he‘s trying to show Hollywood, “See, guys, I still agree with what you agree with.  I‘m still on your side.  I still want the war in Iraq over.  I still agree with everything that you believe.  Just give me another chance.” 

SCARBOROUGH:  And will that work? 

SZISH:  I don‘t think so.  I think, you know, if anything works, it‘s the fact that he is Mel Gibson.  He‘s got a lot of money.  He‘s got a lot of talent.  And, again, that money, though, does buy him power, so even without being leftist, I think he‘ll be just fine. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Courtney, he wore apparently this crazy wig and mask to go to these screenings in Oklahoma?  It doesn‘t exactly make him seem more sane, does it? 

HAZLETT:  No.  Here‘s a guy who had a big glass of bad judgment with his breakfast.  I mean, seriously, Mel, you can‘t play both sides of the fence.  You can‘t be, you know, movie mogul and the guy who wears a wig and goes to the movies in Oklahoma.  It‘s not going to work. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Not going to work, certainly not.  Hey, thank you so much, Courtney Hazlett.  As always, thank you, Katrina Szish.

SZISH:  thank you.

SCARBOROUGH:  Greatly appreciate it, and we‘ll see you later on this week when I‘m up in the New York studio.  That‘s all the time we have for tonight.  And stay where you are:  MSNBC‘s special, “THE PARIS HILTON TAPES,” starts right now.  And I said that with a straight face.

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.

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