updated 10/13/2006 2:32:23 PM ET 2006-10-13T18:32:23

Guests: Alan Diehl, Bob Kohn, Sam Greenfield, Heidi Harris, Todd Webster, Tony Perkins

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  And welcome to the show.  I‘m Joe Scarborough sitting in for Tucker Carlson. 

Breaking news right now from Manhattan, where the National Transportation and Safety Board is about to hold a briefing on yesterday‘s plane crash that killed a New York Yankees pitcher and his flight instructor.  Cory Lidle and Tyler Stanger are believed to have died instantly when their plane slammed into the high-rise apartment building yesterday afternoon. 

I was down there right after the chaotic scene, and for many people that were around on September 11th some said the opening moments of that tragedy resembled what happened yesterday.  But very quickly people found out that this was a single-engine crash, a fixed-wing crash, and there were unfortunately two deaths immediately from it. 

But here with more, let‘s go to NBC News‘ Rehema Ellis.  She is on the scene. 

What‘s the latest, Rehema? 

REHEMA ELLIS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Well, as you were pointing out, we do expect there is going to be an NTSB briefing in just a few moments from now.  Hopefully they can give us some information as to where they stand now in the gathering of the wreckage and the debris from this plane crash, because that is where they are going to find information.  If they find any at all, it‘s going to be from the wreckage of this crash. 

That might help them piece together the bits of this puzzle.  It‘s an information puzzle right now to try and figure out what was it that went wrong. 

Earlier in the day I spoke with Debbie Hersman, who is with the NTSB team of investigators that‘s down here, and she told me 12 hours out from the time that the plane crashed they weren‘t even sure who was piloting the plane.  Ad because there is no black box and so many of us are accustomed to hearing about on the commercial airliners, they don‘t have any voice recordings that can help them piece together what might have been going on in those final moments before this plane slammed into the building behind me. 

So, what have they learned in the past several hours?  Hopefully we‘ll get some information about that when this briefing gets under way, which we think is going to happen shortly. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And talk about the type of plane that he was flying yesterday. 

ELLIS:  He was flying what they call a Cirrus SR-20.  He apparently bought this plane back in June.  We know he had his pilot‘s license from back in February.  So, as far as experience goes, he was a novice flyer, a relatively inexperienced flyer. 

A very light, small propeller—a four-seater aircraft.  And it was absolutely legal for him to be flying in the space that he was in. 

Some people are raising the question of whether or not it should be legal.  That‘s going to be up for the lawmakers and legislators to debate that question.  Some people I‘ve talked to here on the street thought that it was not allowed, that after 9/11 that there was a re-evaluation, if you will, of what aircraft was allowed within the air space here in New York City, and they were kind of surprised to find out that the pilot of this plane yesterday ways actually legally flying. 

So the aircraft, again, a small propeller aircraft.  A four-seater.  It belonged to Cory Lidle, and he was with his flight instructor.  So while it was a cloudy day and the conditions might have been questionable, and his flight experience minimal, he was with a much more experienced flyer; indeed, his flight instructor. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thank you so much, Rehema.  Greatly appreciate it.  We will be right back to you. 

And as the NTSB investigation continues, many questions remain unanswered.  With me now to talk about how yesterday‘s deadly crash may have happened, former NTSB investigator and aviation psychologist Alan Diehl. 

Alan, talk about yesterday‘s crash.  What is the best guest that we can put forward at this point on why it happened the way it did? 

ALAN DIEHL, FMR. NTSB INVESTIGATOR:  Well, Joe, obviously this is, you know, all speculation at this point.  But my gut tells me that there was some kind of in-flight emergency. 

Clearly, no one is going to get that close to an apartment building intentionally, and particularly when you have an experienced flight instructor aboard.  Everybody talks about the fact that Lidle only had 88 hours in his log book and so on, but he was with a flight instructor.  And as some of your viewers probably know, you‘re a commercial pilot, then you‘re an instrument pilot, and then you become a fly instructor.  So you‘re very experienced by the time you become a flight instructor, so this doesn‘t look to me like any kind of reckless or wanton act on the part of either of these individuals. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Talk about the type of plane that he was flying and whether you have mechanical difficulties and the type of issues that they possibly had yesterday.  Is that a regular occurrence, or are these usually reliable aircraft?  

DIEHL:  Well, the Cirrus is regarded as a very reliable aircraft, even though I‘ve heard that there have been 12 crashes.  And I don‘t know the total number in service now, but I think it‘s over a thousand—again, without checking the figures.

This aircraft is a relatively new design.  It has a lot of complicated computerized displays in the cockpit, one of which may have inadvertently played into this accident. 

This computerized satellite navigation system has what‘s called a go-to button.  If you get in an emergency, you can hit one key stroke, and it will tell you where the nearest airport is.  And if you—you know, you‘re a little too quick to respond to that, the nearest airport, for all I know, might have been Teterboro.

Again, I don‘t have the maps in front of me.  But the point is, is I hope they didn‘t just follow this command without looking out the window.

Again, Joe, if you‘ve got an in-flight emergency, this could be a cabin fire, smoke and fumes in the cabin, carbon monoxide.  You can think of a lot of scenarios that could convince this crew that they needed to get back to an airport.  And this is—this is a safety feature.

Well, I guess what I‘m saying is this is a very advanced design aircraft.  But sometimes the automation, if you are not totally familiar with it, can lead you astray. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But again, as you stated, the flight instructor had years of experience, and so that would make it less likely that they would have pressed the go-to button and then he would have followed it blindly, right? 

DIEHL:  I think so.  Certainly with the flight instructor aboard, Joe, this becomes a lot harder to explain.  And speaking of that, I‘m sure the NTSB is going to talk about this at their news conference, but there was a lot of disruption of the wreckage.  You know, when the firefighters were understandably having to save the building and the people, it looked like the accident scene got pretty—pretty extensively disrupted, Joe. 

You probably saw some of the telephoto shots—I saw them last night

where the—it looks like furniture and stuff was being blown out of the windows from those high-pressure fire hoses.  So, the NTSB is going to have its work cut out for it because this is not a pristine accident scene,

by any means. 

SCARBOROUGH:  No, absolutely not. 

Now, to—of course it doesn‘t have a black box on the aircraft, and because of that obviously there are issues in trying to put back together the way things went down yesterday afternoon.  How do they do that?  What is—is it just—are they using a best guess approach to it since they don‘t have a black box? 

DIEHL:  Well, Joe, they do have several things available to them.  You‘re right, they don‘t have any kind of onboard flight recorders, but they do have the ground and radar track which is recorded constantly.  So they will be able—and I think they have already looked at the basic flight path.  That‘s how they knew that they were flying around the Statue of Liberty and so on. 

So that‘s—that‘s a critical piece of evidence in this accident. 

You have a lot of witnesses.  That may shed light now.

Of course we know that sometimes witnesses, you know, are not totally accurate.  So that will be very handy.  But for those of us that watch these crime scene investigator TV programs, the NTSB operates much like a crime scene investigation, if you will, and there‘s a lot of subtle cues you can pick up from the autopsies, from the wreckage itself. 

For example, I have speculated about an onboard fire.  By looking at the smoke patterns, you can tell whether or not the smoke was being blown back along the side of the aircraft; i.e., it was on fire before impact.  Or, was it going up, meaning that the fire occurred after impact? 

So, there is a lot of very subtle and unique methodologies that the NTSB will use with the help of the manufacturers to tease out just what happened. 

SCARBOROUGH:  We are waiting right now for an NTSB press conference.  They are going to be holding a press conference soon right outside the New York City high-rise apartment building where the plane crash took the life of a New York Yankees pitcher yesterday and his flight instructor, and certainly had the world‘s media attention, at least for a short while.

Alan, what is the—what—right after this crash—and by the time I left the crash scene and came to the studio and did our show, they had already reconstructed the simulation of the plane‘s fight path.  And we have been showing it today and have been showing it throughout the morning. 

The plane going past the Statue of Liberty and going up—I believe it was the East River before taking a sharp bank, almost as if it was going deliberately for that building, even though if you look—and we‘re looking at it now.  But obviously they start losing control before it goes into the building.

But how did they piece that together?  Is that by radar? 

DIEHL:  Well, I mentioned the radar track was recorded, Joe, and I suspect that‘s what your animation is based on.  I don‘t know that that‘s an NTSB animation.  I suspect that‘s probably somebody working for your network that put that together. 

But the radar ground track, as I said, is probably the first and most available piece of evidence.  The witnesses statements will go on for days, if not weeks.  But they—they will certainly be doing that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, of course, and it is—it‘s NBC News animation

that they pieced together.  But let me ask you before we go to a break—

because we are still waiting for this press conference to take place—

what—again, I know this is just your best guess, and we may learn more

when this press conference is held in New York, but what are some of the

things that could cause an airplane to take a sharp bank to the left like

it did right before going into the building, and, in fact, seemingly find -

finding the only skyscraper around? 

DIEHL:  Joe, that‘s obviously the proverbial $64 question.  I mentioned an in-flight cabin fire.  Again, any kind of fire in flight is serious, but with a fire you get smoke and fumes, and it might actually obscure your out-of-cockpit visibility. 

Another possibility is that there was some kind of carbon monoxide leak in the aircraft.  These light aircraft actually use the exhaust as a source of cabin heat.  And, you know, it has occurred on rare occasions that a carbon monoxide leak will affect the crew members.  They—you know, you‘re not fully functional.

But again, these are kind of—these are things that—the NTSB is going to look at everything, and the autopsies will answer questions about carbon monoxide and in-flight fire.  There‘s a lot of ways that you can tell from the autopsy and the toxicology reports as to whether or not these people were exposed to something like that. 

Sometimes something as simple as a door coming open in flight can cause a distraction.  So these are the kinds of things—again, you can look at the door locks and get an idea of whether or not this door was shut at impact.  And that‘s the kind of thing, Joe, that over the next days, weeks and months the NTSB is going to tease out very, very carefully. 

I should mention to you that I was actually on the go-team when the Thurman Munson crash occurred in 1979.  And I mention this simply, Joe, to show you the integrity of this NTSB organization. 

I had designed the Thurman Munson aircraft.  It‘s called a Cessna Citation.  And I immediately asked to be removed from the investigation because there would be a conflict of interest.

So that‘s the kind of integrity you‘ve got in this organization—the NTSB organization.  So, what I‘m saying is, this is going to be a very slow, very meticulous and very deliberate type of investigation. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And because of it, Alan, a very thorough investigation. 

And I‘ll tell you what, stay with us.  We‘re going to go to break. 

But when we come back, we are going to be having that press conference, talking about the plane crash yesterday in Midtown Manhattan that took the life of a New York Yankees pitcher and his flight instructor. 

Stay with us.  The situation will be right back.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back.

“New York Times” reporter Linda Greenhouse is in hot water with her own newspaper.  Back in June she gave a speech at Harvard in which she blasted our government for “... creating law-free zones at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Haditha and other places around the world.”  And she went on to say, “And let‘s not forget the sustained assault on women‘s reproductive freedom and the hijacking”—I love this part—“of public policy by religious fundamentalism.”

Now the public editor of “The New York Times” says, “It seems clear to me that Ms. Greenhouse stepped across the line during her speech.”

So who is right?  Did “The Times” Supreme Court reporter cross that line?

Here to talk about it, attorney and media critic Bob Kohn, in Mountain View, California.  Also, from New York, radio talk show host Sam Greenfield. 

Let me start with you, Bob.

It strikes me that this woman, who has long been on one of “The New York Times” most important beats at the  United States Supreme Court was way out of line in her statements that, again, for most people in middle America would read like a screen (ph) on moveon.org. 

Should “The Times” take her off her beat, put her on probation, put her in a time-out chair? 

BOB KOHN, ATTORNEY:  Well, Linda Greenhouse should be fired for insubordination.  This is not the first time she violated the policy at “The Times” against reporters giving public speeches expressing their opinions. 

She—she‘s done—she did this before in 1989, and she was called on the carpet for it.  And if “The Times” doesn‘t fire her, or at least make her do, you know, the crime beat in Manhattan for a year, if they don‘t punish her in some way, what message does that send to the rest of the reporters?  It says you can repeatedly violate the policy, don‘t worry about being biased, don‘t worry about expressing your opinion. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You can march in abortion rights marches?  I mean, it‘s insane.

KOHN:  That‘s right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Especially in 2006.  We are facing, as Linda Greenhouse herself—of course in her own slanted view—one of the most important terms in recent Supreme Court history. 

KOHN:  Yes.  This is a microcosm for what‘s wrong with “The New York Times.”  They purport to be objective, but they‘re blatantly biased, and when they know they‘re biased they simply ignore their own policy.

So, they are losing their reputation as a credible source of—source of news.  And this is just another example, another black eye on this institution.  And the publisher of “The Times,” Sulzberger, really ought to do something about it.  He really ought to stand up and just enforce this policy for a change. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Sam—Sam, let me bring you in here. 

I read “The New York Times” every day.  I love the paper.  There are times that I want to pull my hair out when I read the editorial page, but I understand it‘s the editorial page.  It‘s Gail Collins‘ business what goes on there. 

But don‘t you think Bill Keller should step in to protect the integrity of “The Times” and maybe put Greenhouse on the crime beat for a year to let other reporters know you can‘t go out and say these type of things?

SAM GREENFIELD, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Why don‘t we have her run laps around a track with an AK-47 over her head, or maybe do push-ups in the rain?  Why don‘t we whip her? 

All she did was speak her mind.  And she violated the guidelines of the paper.

She was reprimanded for it.  She was told don‘t do it again.  She has done it once every 18 years.  It‘s not this is a serial felon. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It is “The New York Times,” though.

GREENFIELD:  She—excuse me.  Wait.  Wait.

I listened to you guys call her “this woman”. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s not a tabloid.

GREENFIELD:  And the New York—let‘s try it this way.  Let‘s pretend she is a female reporter for “The New York Post,” who slammed Bill Clinton, then you two can praise her.  How about that?

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know what?  Actually, I hold...

KOHN:  We‘re not talking about...

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second.  I hold “The New York Post” to a completely different standard than I hold the newspaper of record.  And I call “The New York Times” the newspaper of record without irony. 

But let me ask you this question. 

GREENFIELD:  All right.

SCARBOROUGH:  What if a conservative reporter had written—or had given a speech at the University of Alabama and said, I went to a Toby Keith concert, and while I was there I started crying because I realized that we now lived in a country where our government now supported terrorists‘ rights over the rights of law enforcement and they allow god to be locked out of schoolhouse doors, and they allowed all of these other outrageous things to happen?  I would be here, Sam, talking to a conservative, saying that person should not be allowed to write on page one. 

Put them on the editorial page, but not on page one.

GREENFIELD:  And I disagree with you.  I think that person should be reprimanded for violating the rules.  This is a time-honored 28-year veteran covering the Supreme Court.  She made a mistake.  And by the way, the only reason you should be crying to go see a Toby Keith concert is that you went to see a Toby Keith concert. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, of course other people might say that of Linda Greenhouse, saying that she...

(CROSSTALK)

KOHN:  This is a perfect example.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... of a Simon and Garfunkel concert.  And I love Simon and Garfunkel.  And, of course, my favorite Simon and Garfunkel song is “America,” the one that started her crying (ph).

But you know what?  I wouldn‘t try to write for page one of “The New York Times” and pass myself off as a journalist.  She‘s not a journalist.

GREENFIELD:  Once again—once again, she made a mistake.  She was reprimanded for it.

(CROSSTALK)

KOHN:  No, Linda...

GREENFIELD:  She‘s a time-honored veteran of the paper.

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  I...

GREENFIELD:  Don‘t you have anybody you work with who‘s ever made a mistake and you say to them, “Don‘t do that again”?

SCARBOROUGH:  I—yes, but you know what?  If they screwed up that badly...

GREENFIELD:  Oh.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... I would send them somewhere else.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Bob Kohn, let me tell you what—Bob Kohn, let me tell

you what my biggest concern is with Linda Greenhouse, is that she can say -

and I find this deeply offensive.  She can say—talking about the hijacking of public policy by religious fundamentalism. 

And again, everybody has the right to say it, she has the right to say it, but she is supposed to be a straight, down-the-middle journalist, and when she is confronted about this by Bill Keller, another guy I like—I think he‘s turned “The Times” around, or he‘s doing a much better job than his predecessor—what does she say?  Well, that‘s not opinion.  That‘s a statement of fact. 

Isn‘t that the most damning line from Greenhouse? 

KOHN:  Absolutely.  If she can‘t under the difference between opinion and fact she shouldn‘t be writing on the front page to begin with. 

But Bill Keller came out and explained why they have this policy, and that is if a reporter speaks publicly with their opinions, they‘re going to have a tendency to write in their stories those things and bend the facts to support their opinion.  There is a great reason for this policy.  Bill Keller explained it, and just to get a slap on the wrist sends a message to the rest of the reporters, we don‘t care about bias at “The New York Times.”

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, also—you know what?

KOHN:  And Linda Greenhouse is a very—is a prestigious reporter over there.  It‘s all the more reason to use her to as an example to send a message to the rest of “The New York Times” reporters.

GREENFIELD:  Let‘s flog her.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, it also sends a message that she slants—slants the stories if she thinks it‘s fact and not opinion. 

Again, that‘s just very concerning.

GREENFIELD:  Have you ever read any of her columns about the Supreme Court decisions that you felt were slanted?  Because if you haven‘t, then this whole argument is specious.  If you have never read a column of hers.

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  If you want to hear yourself talk...

GREENFIELD:  “I think it‘s slanted,” then this is a specious argument.

SCARBOROUGH:  If you want to hear yourself talk, great.  But you asked a question, and I will answer it. 

GREENFIELD:  Yes.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, I did.  In fact, if you read what she wrote about the first Monday of October setting up the new term, she sounded like she was straight from moveon.org when she was talking about how “We hope this year that the Supreme Court will of course respect the time-honored concept of stare decisis.” 

And that—I mean, of course they weren‘t thinking that, and Linda Greenhouse wasn‘t worried about that when Bowers V. Hardwick was overturned, making sodomy a constitution-protected right.  I mean, again, it‘s straight from the pages of—or from the Web pages of moveon.org.  So...

GREENFIELD:  That‘s the fourth time you‘ve mentioned moveon.org.  We get it.  No, we get it.  OK.

SCARBOROUGH:  I read Linda Greenhouse‘s columns all the time, and she is a great writer and she‘s a great reporter, but if you know anything about the Supreme Court you know she is slanted dramatically to the left. 

GREENFIELD:  Did you walk away feeling she didn‘t give you the facts you sought from the article? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Did I walk away what?

GREENFIELD:  Did you walk away feeling you didn‘t get the facts you sought from the article?

SCARBOROUGH:  I walked away being concerned that Americans that didn‘t have law degrees, that didn‘t study constitutional law, that didn‘t follow the Supreme Court would be pushed around by her liberal agenda, which she carries around.  And if you look at her statement, it‘s very obvious. 

Hey, we‘ve got to go. 

Sam, thank you. 

GREENFIELD:  Thank you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Bob, thank you for being with us.  Greatly appreciate it.

And coming up, Katie Couric takes a disputed Iraq poll as gospel, which earns her a spot on Tucker‘s “Beat the Press”. 

And remember Chappaquiddick?  Well, Chris Shays does, and he‘s using it in a sort of strange way against Dennis Hastert. 

That story when we return. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And we‘re now going to be going to the press conference that‘s being held in Manhattan right now regarding the plane crash yesterday. 

Let‘s go to it. 

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

DEBORAH HERSMAN, NTSB:  ... the investigator in charge for the accident. 

I would like to begin by giving you some updates on the progress that our team has made since we arrived yesterday.  We are here to investigate the accident that occurred yesterday afternoon. 

NTSB investigators are being assisted by the Federal Aviation Administration; the airplane‘s manufacturer, Cirrus aircraft; the engine manufacturer, Teledyne Continental Motors.  We have received tremendous on-scene support from the city of New York and all of the state local and federal emergency responders and officials.  They have assisted us with locating all of the aircraft parts and with moving them to a nearby facility, which is a process that is ongoing. 

Information about the two pilots that were presumed to be on board, one was a private pilot who was properly certificated.  The other was a certified flight instructor who was authorized by the FAA to conduct flight training on this type of aircraft.  Our team is interviewing, as we are here today, a local certified flight instructor who had flown numerous times with the aircraft‘s owner. 

Radar data has been obtained from various sources.  We‘re correlating all of that data and putting it together. 

The information that we have so far indicates the flight left Teterboro, headed North, and made a right turn and flew south over the Hudson River near the New Jersey shoreline, and made a 180-degree left turn around the Statue of Liberty.  It was headed north.  It flew along the East River between Roosevelt Island and Queens. 

At about 70th Street, it was still heading north at approximately 120 miles -- 112 miles per hour.  It began a left turn back to the south at approximately 700 feet. 

The final radar return shows the airplane in a left turn a quarter of a mile north of the building at an altitude of approximately 500 feet.  Additional radar data from other sources will provide us more information. 

We continue to put that together at our headquarters in Washington. 

Weather information at the time of departure, the wind were from the east at 7 knots.  Visibility was seven miles.  The ceiling was at 1,700 feet.  At the time of the accident the winds in Central Park were from the northeast at 6 knots. 

On scene today, our team took a very systemic approach to documenting the wreckage.  They began on the 40th floor where the airplane impacted.  They worked their way through the 41st floor, and then down from the 39th floor, and on through the rest of the floors.

They were looking on terraces and ledges for any aircraft parts.  We did locate a handheld GPS system which we have sent back to Washington to be analyzed. 

On the third floor terrace we found a memory chip for a multifunction display.  This may have some memory on it. Both of these items though are damaged.  This was a severe impact, the memory chip is bent and both items exhibit some thermal damage as well.  They have been sent to our lab at our headquarters for additional review and download of any information that might be there. 

We‘ve located all four corners of the airplane.  What this means is that we have located the nose, the tail and both of the wings.  We have located control surfaces such as ailerons, the elevator and the rudder.  We have gone through nearby roof tops and adjacent buildings.  We are locating aircraft parts.  And the purpose for this is to document their specific location and the condition. 

We‘ll be collecting all of those parts and moving them to another facility.  Finally, we have located the instrument panel.  Information from the instrument panel will aid our investigators if it is useable.  We have sent that also back to our lab and headquarters for analysis.  The engine was brought down from the 40th floor this afternoon. 

It‘s going to be shipped to Alabama, that‘s where Teladyne Continental Motors is based.  The NTSB will supervise a tear-down or a further review, an examination of the engine.  The propeller was manufactured by Hartsel, it‘s being sent to Ohio.  And again, the NTSB will supervise a further review of the propeller.  

Initial field examination shows strong evidence that the propellers were turning at the time of impact.  A representative from the parachute manufacturer was also assisting us on scene today. He‘s examined the parachute system.  An initial examination appears that it was thermally discharged.  The parachute manufacturer conducted an initial examination of the charge, there was discharge for the aircraft parachute system.  Early indications that he observed shows that it was thermally discharged. 

He still needs to conduct an additional examination to insure that that is actually how the discharge occurred.  But I am sharing with you preliminary information that we have found from our initial reviews.  I did go take another look at the accident scene, and the parachute is very tightly packed.  There is significant burn damage to the package that contains the parachute, but it is tightly packed.  Toxicology samples have been taken, and this is a standard practice in an accident investigation. 

Our team is completing our on-scene investigation at this point in time. As I mentioned to you earlier, numerous parts are being sent back to our headquarters lab in Washington, D.C.  Thank you.  Our team is completing the on-scene phases of our investigation.  As I mentioned numerous parts have been sent back to our lab in Washington.  The engines and the propellers are being sent back to the manufacturer site for further review and tear down. 

We hope to release the scene within the next 24 hours and be able to move the aircraft parts to another facility for further examination.  This will likely be our final press briefing while we are on scene.  However, any additional information that becomes available will be presented to the public through follow up briefings, press releases and information released from our Washington headquarters office.  I would be happy to take questions. 

QUESTION:  Debbie, what does thermally discharged mean?

HERSMAN:  The manufacturer of the parachute system has taken a look at the system, especially the charge and it appears that it has been thermally discharged.  As you all know, there was significant fire that occurred post crash.  The thermal discharge indicates that there was a heat and fire affect on the charge, and it appears that it was thermally discharged. 

The things that we are looking at is whether it could have been deployed by the crew, whether it was damaged on impact or whether there was thermal damage or discharge.  The manufacturer took a look at it, his preliminary information that was provided to us what that it appears that it was thermally discharged. 

SCARBOROUGH:  That is Debbie Hersman of NTSB.  She said despite the severe impact, they have found the four corners of the aircraft.  They also located the instrument panel.  Radar is going to help from various sources she said reconstruct the accident and how it occurred. 

And also she stated the props were turning upon impact as the plane went into the building, which suggests there wasn‘t engine failure.  But we will obviously continue following the events as they break in New York.  But we‘ll be right back with more of THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s time now for three on three where we welcome two of the sharpest people we know to talk about three of today‘s most interesting topics.  Let‘s get it started right now.  With us from Las Vegas, radio talk show host, Heidi Harris.  And from Washington, Democratic Strategist Todd Webster.  We begin with President Bush focusing yesterday‘s press conference on national security and the economy.  Speaking only briefly about the Mark Foley scandal. 

But with “Foley Gate” still making headlines and continued calls for House Speaker Denny Hastert‘s resignation, Republicans will not be able to brush the scandal aside before the November elections.  Adding fuel to the fire is an NBC news report that in 1996, Rep Jim Kolbe took two male pages with him on a camping trip. You know, it seems to me Heidi that these Republicans are going to die a death by a thousand cuts. When does it end? 

HEIDI HARRIS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  You really think they‘re going to?  I don‘t think so.  We have a lot of time before the elections.  I think people will forget about this. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You think they‘ll forget about Mark Foley and Denny Hastert and the Republican House leadership covering up for a member who was preying on pages?

HARRIS:  You know what?  I think that they will.  Because the news cycles can be so short, we don‘t know what‘s going to happen between now and Election Day. And even evangelical Christians who have been polled recently said that they‘re ok with this.  Because they know the Republicans are going to get rid of Foley and they feel the Republicans are more responsible than the Democrats because Republicans aren‘t going to tolerate this.  So that‘s kind of interesting, that‘s considered a big base for Republicans, the evangelicals.

SCARBOROUGH:  And yet Heidi, news comes out that yet another gay Republican congressman took pages with him on a camping trip to the Grand Canyon. 

HARRIS:  That‘s amazing.  And obviously he says there were lots of other people on that trip to, so we don‘t know if anybody untoward happened.  And by the way, just because you‘re gay that doesn‘t mean you have a predilection for teenage boys. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know, the thing is Todd Webster, I was in Congress and I would have never considered taking two 17-year-old girls or else pages on a camping trip with me.  It seems just outrageous what has happened to this Republican Party, doesn‘t it?

TODD WEBSTER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  I don‘t know how—I guess you got out at the right time before all of these things happened.  But there is no question that this has been a devastating couple of weeks following a very difficult two years for the Republican Congress, for the Republican administration.  There is now no reason for people to vote Republican in November.  The party that you were a proud member of and you may still be, but the party that has stood for fiscal discipline has nearly doubled the federal debt over the last six years.

The party that once stood for being tough on security, as the national intelligence estimate shows, terrorism and terrorist threats have increased throughout the world exponentially over the last several years.  And the party that once stood for family values is now accused of harboring a child sex predator, accused congress, for the last three years. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Everybody is human, everybody makes mistakes.  I think the biggest problem here is, they could have easily thrown Mark Foley over the side.  But the problem here is -- 

WEBSTER:  Which they did. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But it appears you have House Republicans that knew about this three years ago.  I think Kirk Fordham is probably testifying to that fact at this very moment, and they did nothing about it.  Now the people that are going to be hurt the most are going to be northeast Republicans like Chris Shays.  And Chris Shays made a scathing attack on Ted Kennedy yesterday. 

Defending House Speaker Denny Hastert, Shays referred to the 1969 accident when Kennedy drove his car off a bridge that killed his female aide. Shays said this quote, “Dennis Hastert didn‘t kill anybody.  He didn‘t leave a young person in the water and then have a press conference the next day.”  I served with Chris Shays. The guy is supposed to be a moderate Republican.  Do you think Heidi that maybe he might be getting very nervous up there in Connecticut?

HARRIS:  Well I think dragging up that old laundry is a little bit ridiculous quite frankly.

SCARBOROUGH:  Why would he do that? 

HARRIS:  I have no idea.  But what‘s the point—why are they still criticizing Hastert? What should Hastert have done?  Hastert knew about them, some of the emails and instant messages, not all of them.  He told Foley cut it out.  What else could he have done at that time?  I have not heard a Democrat say what Hastert should have done at the time.  Should he have kicked Foley out?  What should he do?  Or shouldn‘t it be ultimately up to the voters whether or not Foley is reelected? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Tom?

WEBSTER:  We should not have members of Congress preying upon any children in whose control their parents have sent them. 

HARRIS:  Well of course not, obviously. 

WEBSTER:  If there are salacious e-mails and if there are propositions for this and that and if they‘re taking them out to drink, as a parent, if there was somebody doing this to my son or my daughter, I would be outraged.  I would be furious and I would want somebody in a position of responsibility like the Speaker of the House to take action. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I would be beyond furious, I would be enraged.  But Heidi, here‘s the biggest problem though Heidi with Denny Hastert.  Denny Hastert was told about this six to nine months ago, according to Tom Reynolds, the guy that‘s running his congressional campaigns.  Those two are basically—they can‘t agree on things.  And then you have the majority leader John Boehner saying that he talked to Denny about it.  Denny says he doesn‘t remember that either. 

Now we have Kirk Fordham saying he talked to Denny‘s chief of staff three years ago.  Now Denny‘s chief of staff Scott Palmer‘s saying he doesn‘t remember anything about it.  It seems that this speaker has been adopting the whole see no evil, here no evil speak no evil approach to the Mark Foley scandal.

HARRIS:  Well listen, the whole thing is disgusting and I agree with Todd.  Listen, if a company I worked for did this, I would own the company, let‘s not forget Congress.  They‘re the ones who pass sexual harassment laws.  It was outrageous what Foley did. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And they put Mark Foley in charge of the task force to protect children -- 

HARRIS:  Which is insane. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And this is the most damning part, they allowed Foley to come on shows like mine and Tucker‘s and talk about how they were protecting children from internet predators, while Republicans knew that he was using the internet to target minors. 

HARRIS:  It‘s absolutely disgusting.  I‘m with you on that, I‘m glad he‘s gone.  I‘d like to see anybody else who does this in Congress left or right be out of there too.  It‘s ridiculous.  These kids are not sent back there to be sexually harassed by anybody, older, male or female, straight or gay.  It‘s ridiculous. 

WEBSTER:  This is only one piece of the Republican corruption on Capitol Hill.  I mean you have one member of Congress who is now in prison.  You have two who are now in rehab.  You have a couple more who are under indictment.  I mean the whole place stinks.  And hopefully on November 7th when people go to the polls, they will vote for wholesale change across the board. 

SCARBOROUGH:  We will see if it happens.  Now the blame game -

WEBSTER:  That‘s the only way that we‘re going to have a check and a balance.

SCARBOROUGH:  The blame game is heating up right now between George Bush and fellow Republicans.  And fellow Republicans against Bill Clinton‘s policy on North Korea.  At yesterday‘s press conference George Bush alluded to President Clinton not holding North Korea firm to a 1994 agreement, which called for a halt to development of a nuclear program. 

This comes on the heels of Senator John McCain wanting to remind Hillary Clinton of her husband‘s nuclear policy failures.  And Todd, I cringe every time I hear Jimmy Carter talking about North Korea, because it was his lame brain negotiating with those dictators that ended up giving them cover to develop nuclear weapons.  How do Democrats come off attacking George W. Bush?

WEBSTER:  Well I‘ll tell you what, you know what, any time that a Republican for the last six years has been in trouble they always say, oh, its Bill Clinton‘s fault. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s blame Jimmy Carter too.

WEBSTER:  Hold on a second.  At some point, the party of accountability, the party that has been running the show, all three branches of Congress for the last six years needs to step up and take a moniker of responsibility for how .  

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on, Todd.  You have to stop talking for a second.  1994, they negotiate—Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton sends Jimmy Carter to negotiate in 1994.  They bribed them, said we will give you billions of dollars if you‘ll stop your nuclear program.  Two or three years later he starts back up.  The Bush administration uncovers this in 2002.  How can you blame the Bush administration when it was the six years of development before their discovery that led to the nuclear weapon being in North Korea‘s hand? 

WEBSTER:  The Bush administration, their sole foreign policy tool is a hammer.  And so everything that they see abroad they‘ve used as a nail.

SCARBOROUGH:  But they already had the nuclear weapon in 2002.  Jimmy Carter only sees carrots.

HARRIS:  That‘s right.

WEBSTER:  Well, look, the point is that, as with 9/11 where there were warnings, the administration did nothing about it and was caught with their pants down.  Now we‘re seeing the North Koreans are detonating a nuclear bomb, again the administration has been caught with its pants down because for the last six years rather than addressing these threats, they‘ve been running around obsessing over gay marriage and abortion. 

SCARBOROUGH:  That is a cheap shot.  I agreed with you on the Foley stuff, but the Bush administration has been working with six parties to try to bring this in for a landing.  It hasn‘t happened and Heidi, it‘s Jimmy Carter‘s fault, he gets that Nobel Peace Prize a week later. 

WEBSTER:  That was 12 years ago. 

SCARBOROUGH:  We find out a week later after he gets the Nobel Peace Prize that the North Koreans lied to him, just like the Russians lied to him.

HARRIS:  Sure, of course.

SCARBOROUGH:  And so now North Korea has a nuclear bomb, right?  

HARRIS:  Sure.  He believed what he wanted to believe and it‘s ridiculous to say the Bush administration only knows stick.  They don‘t know carrot.  Really, then what have we done in North Korea so far?  We haven‘t done anything to them.

WEBSTER:  It‘s all Bill Clinton‘s fault.  The guy left, he‘s been a private citizen for six years and it‘s all Bill Clinton‘s fault.  Republicans control—

HARRIS:  No, no, no.  You said, no you said the Bush administration—

SCARBOROUGH:  Ok, we are going to have to leave it there. 

WEBSTER:  Let‘s play blame Bill Clinton because it‘s his fault.

HARRIS:  You have to make up your mind.

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘re going to have to leave it there.  The nuclear weapons were developed from 1996 to 2002, Bill Clinton was president for four and a half of those years—

WEBSTER:  It‘s his fault, let‘s blame him. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But at least Madeline Albright brought him a basketball signed by Michael Jordan.

HARRIS:  And by the way—there‘s a lot more to talk about. 

SCARBOROUGH:  There‘s a lot more, but we don‘t have time now.  But thanks for being with us, greatly appreciate it.  And coming up, a 9/11 conspiracy theorist is back in the news for comparing George Bush to Hitler.  Why is this guy still teaching college students?  That story when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s time to take a look at the stories that I just don‘t get.  First up, a by-the-book study of one college professor‘s antigovernment paranoia.  Now University of Wisconsin Professor Kevin Barrett is back in the news.  This is the guy that raised eyebrows this past summer, claiming that 9/11 was orchestrated by George Bush and the U.S. government.  Now Barrett‘s written an essay in which he compares President Bush‘s administration to Adolph Hitler‘s Nazi regime. 

Oh nice, subtle touch, buddy, where the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust.  This essay may appear in a book which students are going to be required to buy for his course. The publishers still haven‘t decided whether to include that work in there.  State legislators and the governor are calling for the professor‘s dismissal.  And this guy has no right teaching our students in the classroom.  I mean that sort of paranoid radicalism is certainly damaging and children shouldn‘t be exposed to it.

Finally, there‘s a book out that professes to be the define truth about President Bush‘s higher calling. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  I will call upon the faith-based ministries that change hearts and therefore change America for the better. 

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  The president speaks proudly about his close ties with Southern Baptists, but, is George Bush, courting church members merely to win votes? That‘s what a former White House aide claims in his new book, “Tempting Faith.”  David Kwell (ph) writes that George Bush pays the highly influential group a lot of lip service, but behind their back, he and his staff derive church leaders as ridiculous and just plain goofy.  The bottom line of Kwell‘s book, the Bush administration is playing millions of Americans for suckers. 

So is the White House cynically using evangelicals?  Here to talk about that Tony Perkins, he‘s the president of the Family Research Council.  You know Tony, the thing that concerns me the most about this book is the fact that this guy isn‘t some left-wing college professor from Wisconsin or a moveon.org blogger, he‘s a conservative Republican that was helping George Bush put together his plans for faith-based initiatives. What‘s your take?

TONY PERKINS, PRESIDENT, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL:  Well Joe, the timing comes out right before an election.  It‘s another one of those kiss-and-tell books that we see so often.  And yes he was in the administration, he was frustrated.  I‘ve encountered David, I don‘t think the program moved as fast as he wanted it to.  I think people realize that the administration or the Republicans in general need the social conservative, they need that vote.  Do they understand it, do they respect it totally?  Probably not, we understand that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Are you concerned by David‘s suggestions, his charge, that George Bush is mocking Christian leaders behind their back? 

PERKINS:  I don‘t think the president is doing that.  I think there may be some in the administration that does that.  But look what we have seen happen over the last six years.  We‘ve seen major pieces of pro-life legislation advanced.  The partial birth abortion, this president signed it into law.  The unborn victims of violence act, signed in to law. 

First veto of this president‘s administration, vetoed the expanding of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.  Those are real issues, those are things that people care very deeply about.  The marriage penalty tax, passing the—or furthering the child tax credit, those issues.  Those are things people care deeply about. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So Tony you and I have talked before about the fact that this administration and this Congress has not been as conservative as they should have been. 

PERKINS:  Or that we would like them to be. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yeah, they‘re certainly not as conservative as I‘d like them to be.  But you also know that Republicans have long taken evangelicals for granted.  And I saw it on Capitol Hill where people would roll their eyes every time James Dobson would come up to the hill and tell people what millions and millions of Christians wanted.  And it‘s sort of like they paid lip service to him and then when he left, they ignored him. 

PERKINS:  Well to a degree I think that‘s true.  I was in elected office, I ran for the U.S. Senate, I encountered some of the leadership in this Republican Party when I ran and I think they are dismissive toward social conservatives, they prefer to deal strictly with fiscal conservatives.  We understand that.

SCARBOROUGH:  Why is that? 

PERKINS:  Well I think one is because social conservatives aren‘t easily controlled like others are.  They don‘t bargain away their principle. They stick by their principle regardless of who‘s asking for what.  And I think that makes the establishment nervous.  But we understand the process, we understand there‘s a little give and take.  Could this be described as a marriage of convenience?  Maybe so. 

But I tell you what, it would look a lot different if Charlie Wrangle were the head of the Ways and Means Committee. We certainly wouldn‘t be seeing family friendly tax policies or if Patrick Leahy were the head of the judiciary in the Senate, we wouldn‘t be seeing strict constructionist judges like Roberts and Alito.  So have we gained anything by this administration and by working with these republicans?  I would say we certainly have. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Tony, obviously a lot of evangelicals are very concerned, people I know in Pensacola, Florida, really all across the country, very concerned by the Mark Foley scandal, concerned by the fact that Denny Hastert and other Republican leaders appear—and I can only say appear—to have covered up for Mark Foley, had information and didn‘t act on it.

Are you concerned by Foley‘s conduct in the Republican Party and Jim Kolbe‘s conduct in the Republican Party, and the fact that Republican leaders had information about this a long time ago and did nothing about it? 

PERKINS:  Well certainly there‘s concern.  The question is and it‘s what you said Joe is it appears.  We need to know what did they know, when did they know it, and why did they or did they not act? And if it comes out and I spoke with some of the House leadership just this afternoon about the investigation and when the information will be available.

I think we want to know.  Did they cover for him?  And why did they cover?  And I know we‘ve been criticized for raising this point but others have raised the point.  CBS raised the point that there‘s a network of homosexual staffers that were covering for Foley.

Was there a reluctance to approach him and really take this issue by the horns, out of fear of the administration or the Republican leadership being called gay bashers or something? So we want to know the answers to those.  It does concern a lot of people.  When they look at the big hint strategy, some are beginning to wonder whether or not it‘s turned into a three-ring circus. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Tony Perkins, I couldn‘t agree with you more. 

And I want you to know Republicans may take you for granted, but I don‘t. 

Thanks for being with us Tony.

PERKINS:  All right Joe, thanks.

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s all the time we have for today.  Up next, stick around because “HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS” begins right now.

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2006 NBC.  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 NBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

Watch Tucker each weeknight at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,