updated 10/12/2006 5:09:42 PM ET 2006-10-12T21:09:42

Guests: Michael Smerconish, Laura Schwartz, Michael Crowley, Matthew Felling, Chelsea Handler, Courtney Hazlett

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Stick around for a minute and tell us what you think about the plane crash that killed a New York Yankees pitcher four days after they lost their final playoff game.  This afternoon, a small plane that was piloted by 34-year-old Cory Lidle, crashed into a 52-story New York City apartment building, killing both Lidle and his flight instructor.  Lidle had just purchased the plane, and the crash is now under investigation.

And Keith, this is obviously a blow to the Yankees organization and major league baseball.  Tell us about Cory Lidle.

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST, “COUNTDOWN”:  I wouldn‘t say that I knew him very well.  I knew him well enough to say hello to.  And he has pitched for seven different major league teams in the course of a nine-year career, starting with the New York Mets back in 1997, so he has been through baseball.  He was considered a hard-working, grind-it-out kind of guy and again, not a star, a strong family man.  There was a certain irony of timing here because he had just joined the Yankees at the end of July in a trade from the Philadelphia Phillies, he was reunited with his teammate from high school, Jason Giambi (ph), the first baseman.  They had known each other for nearly 20 years.

So there‘s a lot of—he had a lot of connections, having been with seven different teams, an extraordinary number of connections to an extraordinary number of baseball players.  So the whole baseball world, even though this is not a household name, is genuinely shocked tonight.

SCARBOROUGH:  And speaking about connections, obviously, you—anybody that‘s a baseball fan thinks back to other major league baseball players who‘ve been killed in plane crashes, most infamously, of course, Roberto Clemente.  But also, I remember Thurman Munson dying, the captain of the New York Yankees back in the 1970s, also dying while learning how to fly a small airplane.  I mean, the Yankees organization had to be concerned about this kind of tragedy befalling them again, right?

OLBERMANN:  It has been—that fear has been almost as much a part of the Yankee tradition—and I‘ve known this for—from before the Munson accident, which was in August of 1979.  I can remember sitting in the press room at Yankee Stadium in the spring that year with Rick Cerone (ph), who is now the public relations director of the Yankees, who at that time was, like myself, a young journalist.  And we were talking about what he had heard from the Yankee organization, that Munson was learning to fly this Cessna and flying home, and hoping to get a bigger, faster plane, flying home to Ohio on days off just to see his family.  And they were terrified.  The word was used was terrified because he was not that experienced.  They didn‘t know if he was any good at it.  And what you‘re seeing there was the result while he was practicing these take-offs and landings at the Canton (ph) Akron airport on August 2 of 1979, killed when they could not get him out of the harness fast enough, and essentially, he burned to death.

So since then, and even before then, the Yankees have been—have been just—have blanched when they have found that a player was interested in or already had his private pilot‘s license.  So yes, this has been an awful tradition. And oddly enough, this is not exclusive to the Yankees.  There have been in the last 50 years, I think the total is now, we‘ve found at least six current or former major league players who were the pilots or co-pilots in private planes who died in accidents with themselves at the wheel.

SCARBOROUGH:  A real tragedy.  Thank you so much, Keith.  Really do appreciate it.

OLBERMANN:  Certainly, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, New Yorkers were looking up at the sky in shock again today, five years and one month after 9/11.  I was down there earlier today and was not around on 9/11, but somebody who was, NBC‘s Anne Thompson, and she‘s been on the scene all day.

Anne, I was down there earlier.  It was chilling when that first report came in, but I would guess for somebody who covered the events of September 11, like yourself and many other reporters, it had to be even more chilling.  Tell me about it.

ANNE THOMPSON, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  You know, Joe, all I could think as I walked down 72nd Street this afternoon, trying to get to the scene, was how much it reminded me of the walk I made to the World Trade Center five years and one month ago today.  I mean, everybody was coming out as we were going in.  People were on their cell phones.  They were only talking about the fact that a small plane had gone into a building.  You‘ll remember that was the first report on September 11, that it was a small plane that had gone into the World Trade Center.

You saw people hugging each other.  People were visibly shaken.  And then you saw all the emergency lights, and perhaps most hauntingly, you saw the fireman walk towards the building with their axes and with the ropes stretched over their shoulders and their oxygen tanks.  And you could only imagine what was going through their minds as they approached this building.

I was talking to one woman, Mindy Freedman (ph), who worked at New York Presbyterian Hospital, which was close by to the apartment building that the plane went into, and she said she kept waiting for the second plane to hit because that‘s what you expected.

Alex Wallace (ph), who‘s a vice president of news at NBC, she was in the area trying to hail a cab.  She had just dropped off her kids after going to a school trip.  And she said she heard this sound, and she did what New Yorkers instinctively have done ever since September 11, she looked up.  And there she saw this flame, this ball of flame in the side of the building.  And instantly, she said, it was one of those things she even wondered, Do I call work or do I check on my kids first?  You know, you have that incredible decision that you have to make in a split second.

And then back to Mindy Freedman, who was there.  She said when you looked down that block of 72nd Street, between York Avenue and the river, where the building was, suddenly, it was all filled with smoke and people were coming out of that area with their faces covered and their heads down and coughing.  Sotheby‘s, which is right near the apartment building, that filled with smoke.  I talked to a couple of workers in there.  They said as soon as the smoke hit, that building was evacuated in a very orderly manner.  But for New Yorkers today, this was a day that brought back some really difficult memories.

SCARBOROUGH:  It certainly did.  And obviously, there were so many law enforcement officers, really, everybody converged on this spot.  And so many were concerned that it could be another terror attack.  When I was down there earlier today, they weren‘t sure exactly what had happened.  What have you learned over the past several hours?  And what can you tell us about the people that were actually around the apartment buildings where that plane entered?

THOMPSON:  Talking to eyewitnesses, what they told me is that they saw a small plane come in the area.  And as one described it, the plane wobbled.  And it was clear, they say, that the pilot had lost control of the plane.  Now, whether that actually happened, we will find out in the days to come.  And then the plane smashed into the building.

One of the first indications that this was Cory Lidle‘s plane was that his passport was found among the debris that fell into the ground.  And that was the first indication that he was on this plane.  And so that‘s—that‘s what they said.

But at the time—I don‘t know if you can see behind me, but it‘s been raining most of the afternoon and evening here.  But at the time the plane went into the building, it was actually overcast and kind of hazy in New York City, and whether that contributed or not, we will find out in the coming days.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  NBC‘s Anne Thompson, thanks a lot for being with us and thank you for all your great work today.

And it was—by the way, when I was walking down there, that‘s the first thing I did, was I looked up in the sky to check and see if there were some visibility problems.  It was gray.  It was overcast.  But certainly, this pilot had all the visibility he needed.

The big question tonight, though, is, how can a plane get so close to a building in Manhattan?  Here‘s Michael Smerconish.  He‘s a radio talk show host, and of course, he‘s the author of the book “Muzzled.”  Also Roger Cressey, NBC News terror analyst.

Roger, I want to talk to you first about this.  You‘ve obviously studied the events of 9/11 and beyond.  I‘ve never been able to figure out why, when I‘m flying into Manhattan, which has to be terrorists‘ number one target—when I‘m flying into New York, commercial airliners will still cut a path across Manhattan just right above the Empire State building, go across Central Park when going toward LaGuardia.  Why are we not securing this air space like we secure the air space in Washington, D.C.?  It seems asinine to me.

ROGER CRESSEY, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST:  Well, Joe, you‘ve got a couple things going on.  In Washington, you have several restricted zones, what‘s called the P-56 (ph) space around the White House and around the Capitol.  It‘s very limited.  Commercial aircraft, if you‘ve ever flown in and out of National...

SCARBOROUGH:  Right.

CRESSEY:  ... you know, comes right near that space.

SCARBOROUGH:  Right.  So why is it not that way up here?

CRESSEY:  Well, I think it has as much to do with how the air traffic patterns were structured, and a decision that was made, rightly or wrongly, in the aftermath of 9/11, that making major changes and bringing the aircraft in in a more circuitous route, in terms of the risk that you would then reduce, was minimal.  And so they‘ve made that call.  And I think one of the things you‘re going to see here in the aftermath is whether or not that should be revisited.

SCARBOROUGH:  But I mean, Roger, if you‘re sitting here tonight

telling Americans what you think the top terror targets are going to be

moving forward, is New York not at the top of that list

CRESSEY:  Oh, absolutely.

SCARBOROUGH:  And if New York‘s at the top of that list, shouldn‘t we secure the air space around New York?

CRESSEY:  Well, we should, Joe.  But the real issue is, unless you‘re going to shut down all major air traffic in the greater Manhattan area, just eliminating the patterns near lower Manhattan is not enough.  The priority is to prevent the terrorists from getting inside the aircraft because once he‘s in the aircraft, even if there is a no-fly zone around lower Manhattan, they‘re not going to—the terrorists are not going to abide by that no-fly zone.  They‘ll go in once they‘re inside the cockpit.

So I hear what you‘re saying and we need to take another look at this, but let‘s not lose sight of the fact that you‘ve got to prevent these people from getting in there to begin with.

SCARBOROUGH:  Michael Smerconish, the FAA has issued a temporary no fly-zone over Manhattan, but if it would be so easy—I‘m just—I mean, terrorists have to know this.  Teterboro is just a private airport just north of the city.  It would be so easy for them to climb into any private aircraft, put whatever weapons of mass destruction they can acquire from North Korea inside that cockpit and fly five minutes south and all of a sudden—you know, kill a million people.  I mean, this is a real problem, isn‘t it?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Well, I think it‘s a problem.  I wrote about this problem a couple of years ago in a book because I had this flying experience post-September 11, Joe, where I flew privately from Philadelphia to your home state of Florida, and it‘s checkbook security, meaning if you can write the check, you don‘t go through security.  You come up to a private terminal.  You blow right through the terminal, get right on board your plane.  And it would be so easy to command the use of a small aircraft and to use it as a weapon.

And some people are going to say, Well, we‘re not talking 737 and large jumbo jets.  But you could take out monuments.  You could take out large groups of people in stadiums.  I don‘t want to give al Qaeda a playbook.  But for a long time, I‘ve been concerned about exactly this.

And you know, this private plane usage is on the rise.  Take a look, as I did today, look at “The Wall Street Journal” and some of how they‘ve documented that people who can afford to ply privately are fed up with going through the security checkpoints, and so instead, to fly their family on vacation or whatever the case may be, they write a check and they take a small private plane.  Well, that‘s an opportunity for al Qaeda.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, and of course, Michael, those planes are getting smaller, they‘re getting cheaper.  There‘s now a guy that‘s built a fleet of jets that are almost affordable for upper middle class types.  And again, that means a lot more planes up there and a lot more danger, right?

SMERCONISH:  It‘s exactly what I‘m talking about.  And so for the first time, you have people who never before would have contemplated flying in that manner, who are saying, You know, I think it‘s reasonable and I‘m prepared to do it.

SCARBOROUGH:  Tell me, Roger, what do we do?  Do you—you don‘t think restricting air space around Manhattan is a sensible approach, I take it, or maybe not worth all of that problems that it‘s going to cause.  Do we just realize that this is going to be a risk and somebody may fly a private plane into Times Square, and if they have the right weapons, cause hundreds of thousands of deaths?

CRESSEY:  Well, Joe, I don‘t think restricting air space alone is enough.  I mean, I think Michael has one important point here, which is you look at the regional airports and you look at the security practices in place, and they‘re pretty much nonexistent.  Having flown in and out of Teterboro before, I can tell you, there is no screening.  You don‘t go through magnetometers, the metal detection equipment, like we do at major airports.  There‘s no serious systematic process in place.

So unless you‘re going to eliminate all air traffic, which will guarantee you don‘t have the threat, you‘ve got to start at the ground level, and that is preventing the people from getting on.  And the way you do that is putting some real systematic security in place at these regional locations.

SCARBOROUGH:  And Roger, if we‘re talking about Teterboro—and I‘ve flown in and out of there several times—basically, this is—the security screening is this.  You drive your SUV up to the gate, you say, I‘m on that plane out there, they let you go through the gate, and then your people load all the cargo you have on the plane, and then you‘re free to go.  I mean, there is no security there, is there.

CRESSEY:  No, there really isn‘t.  And I think that‘s—if anything is going to come out of this tragedy today, it‘s putting some focus on that problem because we can reduce and restrict the air space all we want around greater Manhattan, but as long as you do have functioning airports in the vicinity, there‘s always going to be the threat because once the terrorist is in the cockpit, he doesn‘t give a damn about restrictions you have in place.  And unless you‘ve got a permanent combat air patrol flying over Manhattan, which is not going to happen, you‘re never going to be in a position to respond quickly enough to any type of hijacked aircraft.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.

CRESSEY:  So begin with security on the ground.

SCARBOROUGH:  Thank you so much, Roger.  Thank you, Roger.  Greatly appreciate both of you being with us.

Coming up, explosive new revelations in the Mark Foley scandal that again most importantly threaten to bring down House Speaker Denny Hastert and the Republican Party.  Are things about to get worse for the GOP?  We‘ll debate that next with Pat Buchanan.

Plus, Katie Couric loses nearly a third of her viewers since her debut.  We‘re going to look at why her move to CBS is actually paying off for her competitors.  And later, a revealing interview with Screech (ph) himself, Dustin Diamond (ph), here to tell us to learn to stop worrying and love his infamous sex tape.  Oh!  How could you miss that?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back.  Mounting evidence that Republican leaders received warnings about Congressman Mark Foley and him preying on teenage pages years ago.  Foley‘s former chief of staff, Kirk Fordham, is going to be testifying before the House Ethics Committee, and ABC News is reporting from a source with firsthand knowledge of that event that Kirk Fordham‘s going to testify that he talked to Speaker Hastert‘s office after learning that Foley had been stopped while trying the enter the page dorm drunk.

Meanwhile, President—but wait, that‘s a crime now?  Meanwhile—boy, I‘m glad I got out of Congress!  President Bush is standing by Speaker Hastert, answering questions in the Rose Garden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I appreciated Speaker Hastert‘s strong declaration of—of his desire to get to the bottom of it.  And I—you know, we want to make sure we understand what Republicans knew and what Democrats knew.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And with 27 days left until the mid-term election, is this a house of cards about to collapse?  I think it is.  Here now Democratic strategist Laura Schwartz and MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.  Pat, it is ridiculous.  It is—this Republican story keeps getting worse and worse.  Now we find out Jim Kolbe, openly gay guy, knew about Mark Foley back in 2000, took three pages on a camping trip, a three-day camping trip to the Grand Canyon, claimed that he was letting them come along because he was the chairman of a committee that dealt with the Grand Canyon.

Pat, what‘s wrong with these people?

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Seriously!  What‘s wrong with these people!

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, look—look, I mean, Kolbe will say—and I‘m sure he will say, and we don‘t know anything to the contrary, that this was perfectly innocent.  There were other people on the trip.  And he took the trip...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, there are also news reports, though, that Kolbe offered his apartment to pages who came back a year after they graduated.  This is not perfectly normal.  I was in Congress.  I do not invite pages on my vacation.  I don‘t invite former pages to stay at my home!  Something is terribly wrong with this!

BUCHANAN:  Well, you‘re suggesting that Kolbe has somehow had the sexual relations with these folks...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I am suggesting that they are way too informal with 17 and 18-year-old kids!

BUCHANAN:  Well, look, he said, When I‘m out of town, they can use the apartment.  Look, if something went wrong, they were going to find out.  The key question is this, Joe.  Kirk Fordham is going to testify that he went and told Scott Palmer, the most powerful man in the House who is not a member, who‘s chief of staff to the Speaker...

SCARBOROUGH:  Denny Hastert...

BUCHANAN:  ... something terrible—something terrible had gone on, as you say, this raid on the page dorm.  And Palmer denies the meeting happened.  He denies he told Hastert that.  Hastert said, I was never told that.  You‘ve got a dead, cold conflict in testimony.  And these folks are all going under oath now.  And my—obviously, it‘s a flat conflict, Joe.  And we don‘t know how—I don‘t know how it‘s going to come out.  But clearly, the credibility of the Speaker of the House is under a cloud.

Now, the president says, and I understand why he did, Look, I know Denny Hastert, he tells me the truth, I believe in his credibility.  I would say the same thing until we find out who‘s telling the truth here.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I know Denny Hastert, too.  I also know Scott Palmer.  But I‘ll tell you, all the events and everything that I‘ve heard about this seems to suggest that Scott Palmer better refresh...

BUCHANAN:  He better tell the truth.

SCARBOROUGH:  He better refresh his recollection before he goes under oath or he‘s going to have a lot more problems than just political embarrassment for the speaker of the House.

Laura Schwartz, I have talked to members in the House.  I have talked to staff members.  To a man and woman, they are angry at Denny Hastert.  They say one thing in front of the camera, but they really think that Denny Hastert‘s organization has let the Republican Party down.  That‘s got to hurt when you‘re going into a mid-term election, when you don‘t trust the leadership or the leadership‘s staff.

LAURA SCHWARTZ, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Absolutely.  You know, first it was not only Foley‘s actions but Hastert‘s inactions at the time.  Now it‘s Hastert‘s actions after the fact.  I mean, last week, he has a press conference to say, The buck stops here, and then within the same breath, he blames ABC and the Democrats.  And then yesterday, to prolong the story, he holds a press conference in a graveyard, no less—if that isn‘t foreshadowing, I don‘t know what is—to tell he‘s going to fire his staff if they do something wrong.

I mean, how big can one bus be?  They‘re throwing all these people under, between Hastert and Boehner and Reynolds and Alexander, that you really get dizzy with this scandal.  They‘re not helping themselves.  They have to make a grand gesture and get this thing to go away.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, and that‘s...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And that‘s a problem, Pat Buchanan, is the Speaker‘s alone.  I mean, either the Speaker‘s lying or John Boehner‘s lying and Tom Reynolds is lying, all these other people are.  And of course, they‘re not going to lie.

BUCHANAN:  They‘re not lying.  Look...

SCARBOROUGH:  They‘re not going to lie about the Speaker of the House. 

It‘s the Speaker‘s organization...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  They‘re refreshing their memory, Joe.  But there‘s no doubt about it that the credibility of the Speaker is under a cloud, and Scott Palmer is the guy that‘s vouching for the Speaker, and he‘s also the guy that‘s saying, Kirk Fordham never met with me and never said those things.  He‘s on the line right there.  Hastert has said, If I‘ve been misled by my staff, they‘re gone.  You‘ve got a clear-cut conflict going right there.  There‘s no doubt Hastert did not do the proper oversight.

But let me tell you this, Joe.  You‘ve got two gay congressmen everybody—you guys all knew, who are spending all this time with pages, and nobody reports them to the Ethics Committee and nobody goes—somebody -- more people than this had to know this kind of stuff is going on up there.  As somebody said, this is a high school up there.

SCARBOROUGH:  It really is.

BUCHANAN:  You know these things when they‘re happening.

SCARBOROUGH:  And Laura, I didn‘t know this was going on, but very

quickly, it would be the same thing as me as a congressman inviting three

17-year-old girls that are pages to go on a camping trip.  And you got

people with a straight face trying to explain it away, saying that that‘s

not inappropriate!~

SCHWARTZ:  Exactly.

SCARBOROUGH:  It is terribly inappropriate, and it‘s going to hurt the Republican Party, right?

SCHWARTZ:  Absolutely.  Absolutely.  And it doesn‘t have to be a sexual relationship to be inappropriate.

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly.

SCHWARTZ:  I mean, like you said, it is so off base and it smells so bad, it is going to hurt the party.

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt.  And...

BUCHANAN:  Joe, let me ask you something.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes?

BUCHANAN:  Suppose you had a gay Scout master and he takes three 17-year-old Eagle Scouts camping.  Is he automatically under suspicion then?

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat, we‘ll be debating gay Scout masters tomorrow night in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, Pat, enjoy your time in San Francisco.  Laura Schwartz...

BUCHANAN:  I better get out of here quick!

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  You better get out of there quick.  You‘re outnumbered, buddy!  Hey, thank you so...

SCHWARTZ:  Be careful, Pat.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, be careful, Pat, out there, baby!  Laura Schwartz, thank you so much.  Pat Buchanan, thank you.  And Pat, stay away from Mexico City, also.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up next: What happens when you get Stephen Colbert, Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem cooking in a kitchen?  Good God!  It‘s “Must See S.C..”  And later: Katie Couric‘s ratings plummet to their lowest levels yet.  Is she really worth her multi-million-dollar contract?  We‘ll look at why some viewers are tuning out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, it‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” some video you just got to see.  It was an unlikely love connection last week between Jane Fonda and Stephen Colbert.  Watch closely.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN COLBERT, “THE COLBERT REPORT”:  I‘m liberated.  I can squeeze lemon.  There you go.

GLORIA STEINEM, FEMINIST:  OK.

COLBERT:  All right, there.

STEINEM:  And I like your apron, too.

COLBERT:  Thank you very much.  Fight it.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT:  Boy!  I like you, Fonda.

JANE FONDA, ACTRESS:  I like you, too, Colbert.

COLBERT:  All right.  You smell good!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, you smell good!  Let them say that about me when I die.

Still ahead: Is Katie Couric not ready for primetime?  We‘re going to take a look at why viewers are tuning her out and turning on her competitors.  And later: Most other celebrities would try to fight the release of a sex tape, but Screech is actually trying to profit from it.  Dustin Diamond‘s here to tell us about his big money deal to sell his private—and we do mean private—moments.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up, exclusive:  Screech speaks.  He tells us about his upcoming movie and why he‘s decided to make a buck off of it.

Plus, why more celebrity sex tapes are going to be hitting the market in the future.  And later in “Hollyweird,” Doctor McDreamy gets into a real-life fight with one of his costars.  Chelsea Handler joins us to talk about what‘s going on behind the scenes of “Grey‘s Anatomy.”  Nothing good, I guarantee you that, friends.

Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Those stories in just minutes.  But first, bad news for CBS News.  Big, bad news.  Katie Couric‘s ratings are in a freefall, dropping each week since her debut.  The Tiffany network has lost almost a third of its viewers since Couric took over as the anchor of the “CBS Evening News” and now even trails the ratings of her predecessor, Bob Schieffer.  To add insult to injury, Katie Couric‘s career change is paying off for Meredith Vieira and Rosie O‘Donnell. 

Is CBS regretting its big gamble?  Here now, Matthew Felling, media director for the Center for Media and Public Affairs.  Also with us, Michael Crowley.  He‘s a senior editor for “The New Republic.”

Michael, let me begin with you.  Katie Couric‘s viewership has dropped each week since she‘s taken off, and now she‘s even trailing where Bob Schieffer was, a guy that was probably making about $14 million less than she‘s making on her $15 million contract.  Did CBS make a gigantic miscalculation in hiring her? 

MICHAEL CROWLEY, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”:  Yes, I mean, at this rate, it does kind of look like the worst thing since New Coke.  But I don‘t want to be too hard on them.  It‘s a little early to judge.  And, you know, the network news programs are in a panic. 

But I do think that they may have made a mistake in thinking they had to be more like these other media outlets that are popping up, which are chattier, have a little bit of a lighter tone to them.  I mean, I think that the advantage that the network news shows retain in an incredibly competitive environment is that they are seen as sort of authoritative and these kind of totemic pillars of, you know, truth. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know, Michael, I mean, let‘s break the code here.  You‘re saying that they‘re being more like shows like this, more cable news.  That‘s not why you turn to network news.  You turn to network news for gravitas.  You turn to it for Cronkite.  You turn to it for Murrow.

CROWLEY:  That‘s exactly right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You turn to it for those type of people.  And do you think that maybe they‘re making the mistake by being more opinionated, more chatty and, because of it, they‘re losing more viewers? 

CROWLEY:  Joe, we‘re all blessed for this show and shows like it, but I think you‘re exactly right.  I think sometimes people feel like the world is being taken over by them.  And I think, actually, the more there are kind of chat shows on the cable networks and now blogs that are filled with opinion, you more and more hear this refrain that people want sort of authoritative sorts of facts.  And I think that the network news shows do have that going for them.  It‘s sort of the only thing they still have going for them.

So I think a trend toward more chat, and they have these commentaries now on CBS that are sort of opinionated, I think maybe is headed in the wrong direction. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Matthew, I ask you the same thing.  Could that be a possible mistake that they‘re making, that they‘re trying to make it more like sort of trendier cable news outlets and Internet-type outlets, and because of that they‘re losing their gravitas and losing viewers? 

MATTHEW FELLING, CENTER FOR MEDIA AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS:  Well, gravitas and, like Michael said, totemic.  I know that you guys scored a lot better on your SATs than I did. 

I think we need to take a closer look at these shows.  The Katie Couric show hasn‘t actually gotten more chatty.  It hasn‘t gotten more conversational.  It‘s just gotten lighter.  And people are not responding to that at all. 

Let‘s face it:  When CBS made this decision, they jumped off a cliff.  Nobody in America is without an opinion about Katie Couric.  And their gamble was the people that CBS was going to lure over from the morning refuse was going to counteract them, was going to be more than the people that would leave, because they were just sick of the sight of her.  And it‘s not paying off. 

And Charlie Gibson last week was talking about how they have to change the advertisers in order to change the viewers.  The network news are in disarray.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  And the thing is, Matthew, again, you can talk about cable news at night.  You can talk about these news shows in the morning that people wake up to, that Katie, obviously, used to be associated with.  But again, if you‘re going to sit down at 6:30 at night and you‘re going to get news, and you‘re like me, you grew up with Walter Cronkite, then that‘s what you‘re expecting at 6:30.  Right.  And if you see something that‘s a little bit lighter, you will probably go to NBC or ABC. 

FELLING:  Well, and first of all, Joe, if you‘re sitting down at 6:30 to watch the news, chances are you‘re not in this younger demographic that CBS is purportedly trying to grab.  They need to think outside the box.  They were going for the gusto with Katie Couric, and it‘s just not going to work.  She‘s drawing in—I think the average age of the viewer right now is 59.5 years old.  If they‘re building for the future and they‘re trying to get interactive, they‘re not doing it correctly. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, take a look.  Katie Couric‘s lost almost a third of her viewers since she took over as anchor of the “CBS Evening News.”  You can look at 10.1 million to 7 million.  Her demos have gone up a little—her demos are going down also now. 

You know, the thing is, Michael, it says—we‘ve labeled that Katie‘s ratings disaster.  But you really never know how somebody‘s going to perform in broadcast news environment until a 9/11 occurs or until an Iraq war occurs.  And that‘s when Americans make their decision.  So we could be judging Katie Couric and CBS News a bit prematurely, right?

CROWLEY:  Well, that‘s right.  I mean, there is a way in which anchors kind of pass tests, and there‘s a national crisis, and they pass them with flying colors.  Although, I will say, recent history is littered with some people who became stars around 9/11, and we don‘t hear as much from then anymore. 

It was a interesting point about Katie kind of going for a younger demographic.  I mean, there was an old joke about Al Gore that he was an old person‘s idea of a hip, young person.  And I think that, if they‘re trying to get—I mean, I just don‘t see like a lot of 20-somethings really idolizing Katie Couric.  If you want to get young people—you know, we‘ve been talking about Jon Stewart on your show, Joe—you know, give Jon Stewart that show, and then you‘ll have a demographic shift.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, you‘ll get some young viewers.  And, Michael, thank you so much.  Matthew Felling, appreciate you being with us.

And, friends, let me just say this again:  I‘ve done a lot of things in my life.  I‘ve coached football.  I‘ve written a musical.  I‘ve been in bands.  I‘ve been in Congress.  And there‘s nothing tougher than TV news.  And so it‘s very easy for us to criticize Katie Couric.  I can tell you personally I think she needs to be given a chance.  And we‘ll see, again, when the next big disaster or big war hits whether viewers are going to turn to her or not.  That‘s going to be her moment of truth.

Coming up next, our down-and-dirty interview with Dustin Diamond.  Screech tells us how his sex tape got into the wrong hands and why he‘s decided to profit off of it.  Oh!

And speaking of gross, Angelina Jolie says she prefers being with girls.  Someone better tell Brad Pitt this breaking news.  E!‘s Chelsea Handler joins us to sort out all of this garbage from “Hollyweird.”  I‘m in love with Chelsea.  She‘s hot.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Tell Mom to turn on the shower, make it hot.  You‘re going to want to take a shower after this segment, because we‘re about to talk about the sex tape the Internet‘s buzzing about.  You used to know him as Screech Powers.  I can‘t believe I‘m doing this.  Did I tell you I used to be in Congress?

From the TV show “Saved by the Bell,” but that‘s about to change.  A new Screech sex tape is about to hit the market.  Now, Screech claims he doesn‘t want it to be released, but it got into the hands of evil porn peddler David Hans Schmidt, SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY‘s official porn peddler.

MSNBC‘s Rita Cosby sat down with both of them tonight, and she asked Screen to explain how...

(LAUGHTER)

... how the tape came out in the first place.  I‘m going to take a shower.  I‘ll be right back.  Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DUSTIN DIAMOND, “SCREECH”:  Four years ago, I was part of a club of high-profile people that we treated it like a poker game.  We called it “poke ‘em.”  We thought it was fun to videotape exploits, and then put money into a pot, and then score different things you could accomplish on tape, and give point totals to it.  And then the one with the highest point total at the end of the month would get the pot of money. 

And so it could have been—over four years, it could have been misplaced.  Someone could have shown it to a friend during a drunken night or something, and that friend was an opportunist.  An angry girlfriend could have found it.  I don‘t think anyone directly involved with the group would have done it themselves, though, because they wouldn‘t want their name out there.

COSBY:  You know, obviously, part of a game.  And I don‘t want you to be too graphic.  But from what I understand, it‘s pretty sexually explicit.  And, what, two women in there, right? 

DIAMOND:  Yes, yes.  Like I said, it was a while back, and we were very rambunctious.  And any sexual exploits are explicit by nature, right? 

COSBY:  Weren‘t you worried that this would get out?  I mean, you‘re doing a game with other people having the tape.  Weren‘t you worried that it could be made public, like what‘s going to happen now?

DIAMOND:  No, because I had tapes of them, too, so, I mean, it was a mutual trust thing.  I mean, I wouldn‘t reveal their tapes, and they wouldn‘t reveal mine.  And I didn‘t think that anyone would actually keep them.  I mean, you figure that you‘d just erase them or, you know... 

COSBY:  You did not sell this tape.  I mean, did you have any role whatsoever in releasing this video? 

DIAMOND:  No, but at the same time, yesterday we talked with our

friends over at Red Light District and David Joseph over there.  We sat

down.  It was a battle of—David Hans Schmidt had received the tape.  We

could spend a fortune fighting it in court—with little bits already

being leaked out on the Internet, going on Howard Stern and everything else

or we could suck it up and say, “You know what?  It could be a losing battle.  We‘ll make money, if we just side with it.”  And we decided to go with the best there is, which is Red Light District. 

COSBY:  So, Dustin, you know, obviously there‘s been some negative reaction to your tape.  Here‘s what was written in the “Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.”  Quote, “Dustin Diamond, the one-time child actor who is proving all the stereotypes true, grew up in a make-believe world, so maybe he doesn‘t understand how things work in the real one.  Normal people don‘t want to see Screech in a porn tape.”  What do you say to these critics?  Some people are pretty tough on you.

DIAMOND:  Well, if they were real journalists, I would be concerned.  But, remember, that‘s my hometown, and I lived there.  And a lot of those guys—they‘re the type of people that come out, and they take your quotes, and they take your interview.  And by the time everything is edited and moved to the press, it‘s nothing of what you said and the context is taken completely wrong.  I will never do an interview with them or grant them any kind of press again or even mention their name on other press circuits. 

COSBY:  You‘ve got a serious girlfriend now.  I understand she‘s not one of the two women in the tape. 

DIAMOND:  No. 

COSBY:  How embarrassed are you?  And how awkward is that for you at home? 

DIAMOND:  Well, you know, it was rough at home, but that really was the main concern for me.  You know, I love Jennifer, and I will do nothing against her, to tarnish her love in any way.  And she‘s the light in my life. 

So, you know, this was four years ago.  This was something that I would never jeopardize what we have.  It‘s too important. 

COSBY:  Are you, though, obviously a little embarrassed at yourself?  Now, you‘re looking—it was a game back then, and then you think, “Oh, God, all this is going to be coming out.  Visually, people are going to be clicking onto this.” 

DIAMOND:  You know, like I said, people are going to dig and dig and dig.  I‘m not a druggy; I‘m not a drunk.  I‘ve never been arrested.  I made a sex tape when I was younger with a group of guys that we thought was funny.  It was stupid, and that‘s the only thing I can be accused of is I made a stupid choice way back when.

If I have to look at a positive aspect of having made a video and having it been released to the public, I think that—you know, I mean, I‘m proud of myself, prowess speaking, so it‘s nothing to be embarrassed about.  I guess life could be worse. 

COSBY:  What do you think of David Hans Schmidt, who got involved in all this? 

DIAMOND:  You know, David has the market cornered in coming up with all—you know, I don‘t know how he gets his hands on all this stuff.  I didn‘t know who he was when this started.  And then I got to say that, you know, I tip my hat to the guy, as far as being able to dig up anything, anywhere.  And if someone has a tape out there, they‘ve got to watch out, because chances are he‘s going to get a hold of it. 

And, you know, it is what it is.  And the Sultan of Sleaze has done it again.  And, you know, I got caught with my hand in the cookie jar, but it was a four-year-old cookie, so luckily it‘s nothing that was current. 

COSBY:  All right.  Dustin Diamond, thank you very much.  We appreciate you being candid and coming on with us. 

DIAMOND:  Thank you. 

COSBY:  Thanks so much.

And I want to bring in now the man who bought the rights to the Screech sex tape, David Hans Schmidt, a Hollywood broker.

Now, David, how do you feel?  He called you the Sultan of Sleaze.  But he also, you know, in a sense it was a compliment, because he said, if there‘s a sex tape that‘s out there, you‘re the guy who‘s going to get it.  How do you feel to be called the Sultan of Sleaze?  And how do you get these tapes? 

DAVID HANS SCHMIDT, PORN WEB SITE OWNER:  Well, you know, years ago, Rita, I grew up on a big farm in the Midwest.  I was a good, old farm boy.

COSBY:  I think you‘ve come a long way from milking the cows.

SCHMIDT:  Yes, from filling the hay bails, yes.  But Dad always said -

he goes, “Boy, you ain‘t going to make it on the farm here.  And I don‘t care really what you do.  But wherever you do, I don‘t care if you dig ditches for a living or you just haul trash.  Just become the best trash collector in the world.”  And in a way, I made my father proud, because I consider myself to be a very prominent trash collector. 

COSBY:  How bad is this tape, too? 

SCHMIDT:  How bad is it?

COSBY:  And again, remember, we‘ve got to be PG here. 

SCHMIDT:  Yes, we got to be PG-13.

COSBY:  How graphic is it?  We understand he‘s with two women.  Is it very explicit?

SCHMIDT:  It is full XXX, if you will.  And there are, just to be kind to the Disney audience, it is full across the board.  And it is a, quote, in the French language, a menage-a-trios.  And there‘s a bathtub scene, and there‘s a shower scene, and there‘s a bed scene, and all that stuff.  And what‘s unique about this is that Dustin‘s actually filming, directing and participating.  So it‘s kind of a rather unique production, if you will.

COSBY:  You know, and he says, you know, he‘s a bit embarrassed, you know, but he was always part of this game thing years ago.

SCHMIDT:  Yes.

COSBY:  I would assume there‘s probably lots of tapes like this out there, right?

SCHMIDT:  Oh, there‘s tons of them.  Three more have just come in the door in the last week, so we‘ll be back on talking about those in the not-too-distant future, Rita. 

COSBY:  And do they involve big names? 

SCHMIDT:  Yes, big name.  I can give these little clues right now we‘ll drop exclusively only with Rita Cosby.  There is a rap artist that‘s coming out.  We have another—like somebody‘s that‘s got a big show on Bravo right now and one of their people that‘s coming out.  And then we got two others that are in the make, as well, too.  So, you know, I‘m almost like Spielberg, and I got to space these things out.  You can‘t put two “Jurassic Parks” so close to each other.  You got to space them out.

COSBY:  David Hans Schmidt, thank you very much. 

SCHMIDT:  Thanks, Rita.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  And thank you, David Hans.   “Hollyweird” is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, have you assistant cancel all your plans.  It‘s time for “Hollyweird.”

First up, reports the material girl‘s a material mom again.  An African man claims Madonna adopted his 1-year-old son.  Here now, senior reporter for “OK” magazine, Courtney Hazlett, and host of “The Chelsea Handler Show” on E!, Chelsea Handler.  She‘s also the author of “My Horizontal Life.”

Chelsea, what about this Madonna stuff?  What‘s going on here?

CHELSEA HANDLER, “THE CHELSEA HANDLER SHOW”:  I don‘t know.  You know, actually, the important thing to remember, Joe, is that the baby technically—whether she raises it in London or the States, technically the baby is African-American.  So my question would be:  Do you think he‘ll talk loud in movie theaters? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, thank you, Chelsea.

HANDLER:  No.  You know what my question is?

SCARBOROUGH:  What is your question? 

HANDLER:  Well, it‘s not a question.  It‘s more of a statement.  But I really hope this baby doesn‘t turn out like Angelina Jolie‘s, you know, and Brad Pitt‘s little Eskimo, Maddox.  You know, they take this baby and they rescue him from third world Cambodia.  This kid probably thought he hit the jackpot when he got adopted by this movie star and just to find out that they were going to take him back to every other third-world country in the universe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s awful.  That‘s awful.

HANDLER:  I know.  He‘s probably like, “When the hell are we going to get to Malibu like you promised?”

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s hard to top that.  But let‘s talk about “Grey‘s Anatomy.”

COURTNEY HAZLETT, “OK” MAGAZINE:  It is.  It‘s really hard to top that.

SCARBOROUGH:  I understand two of these stars in “Grey‘s Anatomy” going after each other.  What‘s up?

HAZLETT:  Yes, Patrick Dempsey and Isaiah Washington apparently had a little bit of a rumble in the O.R.  One of them got into an argument about people being late, things not going off on time.  And before you knew, two beautiful faces were face to face. 

SCARBOROUGH:  A lot of prima donnas here on “Grey‘s Anatomy,” right? 

HAZLETT:  You know, I‘ve got to imagine it has to be a little bit like high school.  You know, you‘ve got a huge cast.  Everyone‘s good looking, at least it was in my high school.  But, no, it‘s rife for conflict, so it‘s going to happen.

SCARBOROUGH:  Rife for conflict.

And speaking of conflict, Chelsea, Angelina Jolie tells the “Sun” she likes filming sex scenes with women.  What‘s poor Brad going to do?

HANDLER:  There‘s a surprise.  Brad, I‘m sure he‘s going to sleep very well tonight after hearing that, like every other man in the country after hearing that, and lesbians far and wide. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So you‘re saying...

HANDLER:  I know I‘ll sleep well tonight.  I‘m sorry, Joe, what did you say?

SCARBOROUGH:  I was going to say, so you‘re saying Angelina actually made most people alive happy, except for straight women, right? 

HANDLER:  Well, I mean, she‘s already—yes, exactly.  Men already love her.  Now, you know, women love her.  I mean, straight women probably love her, too.  I mean, she‘s very good looking, Joe.  Let‘s be honest. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So, Chelsea, do you want to break some news tonight? 

You did about Ty (ph) a few weeks ago.  I mean, are you hot for Angelina?

HANDLER:  Listen, if I had a couple drinks in me, who knows what could happen, Joe? 

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s getting crazy out on the West Coast, Chelsea.  Does this help Angelina‘s movie career or her...

(CROSSTALK)  

HAZLETT:  You know, at this point, what could hurt it?  This is a woman who used to wear a vile of blood around her neck.  She‘s been married several times.  She‘s got tattoos everywhere.  I think she‘s A-OK. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Chelsea, you have some blood around your neck, don‘t you? 

HANDLER:  I have some blood, yes, somewhere.  I am just crossing my fingers and hoping that a “Tomb Raider 3” comes out soon, because if it doesn‘t, I don‘t know what I‘m going to do with the rest of my year.

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  Chelsea Handler, Courtney Hazlett, thank you for being with us.  That‘s all the time we have for tonight.  We‘ll see you tomorrow in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

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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