updated 7/3/2007 10:18:51 AM ET 2007-07-03T14:18:51

Guests: Karen Hanretty, Michael Waldman, B.J. Bernstein, Steve Blackman, Marc Mero, Dr. Todd Schlifstein, Irvin Muchnick, Christian Red, Jon Leiberman, Rita Smith, Kim Gandy, Michael Gross

DAN ABRAMS, GUEST HOST:  We‘ll be talking about the Libby case.  Tonight, late-breaking details also on the WWE wrestler murder/suicide, his doctor indicted.  The DEA was apparently aware of Benoit‘s excessive drug use.  And new questions tonight about whether his son really had a rare disease.  Before the first commercial break, we‘ll be talking about this case with our panel, including former wrestlers.

But first, no prison time for presidential aide Lewis “Scooter” Libby.  This evening, President Bush stepped in and saved his former aide, who served as chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.  Officially, Libby did not receive a pardon.  He remains guilty of obstruction of justice in the federal investigation into the outing of a covert CIA agent, making false statements and lying under oath.  And he still has to pay a fine.  But this will rightly be perceived as a free pass.

My take.  The president said today the sentence was “excessive.”  OK, 30 months, stiff term.  Then reduce it, don‘t eliminate it.  In the law, we always talk about the message a sentence sends, even moreso in high-profile cases, that the public should appreciate the famous or powerful will be treated just as harshly as everyone else and that everyone must understand there are consequences for illegal action.  Well, this sends the message that if you know the president or the vice president well enough, even a jury and judge cannot ensure justice.  This president has been more reluctant than any in the last 100 years to overrule the courts.  As they say, the president had the right to do it, but it wasn‘t the right thing to do.

Here now Republican strategist Karen Hanretty and Michael Waldman, former Clinton speech writer and current executive director of the Brennan Center for Justice.  Thanks a lot to both of you for coming on the program.

All right, Karen, no one‘s questioning if the president had the right to do this.  He has the right.  He has the legal right to do it.  But isn‘t it, in  the end, the wrong thing to do?

KAREN HANRETTY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  I—you know, I don‘t know if it‘s the wrong thing or not.  I never had a lot of real strong feeling one way or another about whether or not Scooter Libby should be pardoned.  And I actually think I‘m in the mainstream of a lot of Republican voters out there.  I don‘t think there‘s going to be, you know, parties and (INAUDIBLE) across America, except for in, you know, these certain Zip Codes on the East Coast.

ABRAMS:  Well, if that‘s the case, then, then there‘s literally no explanation for it.  I mean—I mean, if you‘re going to tell me that even the rank-and-file Republicans are not going to be celebrating, appreciating the fact that the president stepped in, then what is he doing?

HANRETTY:  I think he‘s—he‘s making a—well, I think—I think it really is summed up in his statement.  I think he did think that the sentence was too much and I...

ABRAMS:  So reduce it.

HANRETTY:  No, and people are talking about, Well, why didn‘t he wait until the end of his term?  Well, because he didn‘t think Scooter Libby deserved to go to prison.  I think that the political ramifications of this commutation are not going to be felt so much by the Bush administration as by the Republican and the Democratic presidential candidates...


HANRETTY:  ... who are now going to have to weigh in, particularly, of course, Hillary Clinton, who is...


HANRETTY:  You know, all of President Clinton—Bill Clinton‘s pardons, which were more egregious than this one...

ABRAMS:  All of—all of them...

HANRETTY:  ... are going to come out...

ABRAMS:  All of them much more egregious than this one, right?  All of them.

HANRETTY:  I think that pardoning 16 Puerto Rican terrorists who were being held in prison for...

ABRAMS:  All right.

HANRETTY:  ... sedition and conspiracy...

ABRAMS:  Look...

HANRETTY:  ... is much worse than what Scooter Libby did.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let me—let me...


HANRETTY:  ... who was conspiring...

ABRAMS:  All right.  I don‘t want to—all right...

HANRETTY:  ... to sell oil in Iran...

ABRAMS:  OK, but this...

HANRETTY:  ... during the Iran hostage crisis.

ABRAMS:  The point is, when you said all, I knew you didn‘t really mean that.  I just wanted to correct you.

Mike Waldman, let me read you this statement...

HANRETTY:  Thanks for correcting me.

ABRAMS:  No problem.  I just wanted to make sure you—I didn‘t want you to feel bad about what you said.

HANRETTY:  I never feel bad, Dan.


ABRAMS:  Mike Waldman, the president said this, all right?  He said, “Critics say the punishment does not fit the crime.  Mr. Libby was a first-time offender with years of exceptional public service and was handed a harsh sentence based in part on allegations never presented to the jury.”

So now the president is doing legal analysis here, right?  Now he‘s saying, Oh, it‘s not just the sentence, it‘s the fact that there was material out there that wasn‘t presented to the jury.  I mean, that‘s what troubles me.

MICHAEL WALDMAN, FORMER CLINTON SPEECH WRITER:  Well, you know, in his statement, he wants to sound like King Solomon, but he sort of sounds like O.J., saying he‘s going to search for the real killer.  Scooter Libby committed obstruction of justice and lying under oath while he was a senior presidential aide, working for this president, in effect, it appears, covering up for the actions of himself and other members of the administration.

This is not some interesting matter that the president read about in a newspaper, this is activity in his own White House.  And what he did was really quite remarkable because it would be one thing if he said, You know, the guy got railroaded, he was innocent, he shouldn‘t have been convicted.  But what he said was, Well, he‘s guilty, he did these things, and I‘m going to make sure he doesn‘t get punished.  And that really is quite remarkable.

ABRAMS:  But you know what?  You know what?  It‘s intellectually dishonest, is what it is.  They‘re claiming, Oh, you know, it‘s still—the sentence is it intact and lying is not OK and there‘s still a fine in place.  But you know, that‘s all nonsense.  The bottom line is, when you‘re talking about a 30-month sentence and the answer is, You don‘t have to serve that time, that is the issue.

WALDMAN:  I agree.  And the fact is, certainly, Scooter Libby, you can be assured, is not in mourning tonight over his prospects.  The real question is why the president did it, why he did it now.  It really seems as if the accountability muscles are flabby.

ABRAMS:  Well, I‘ll tell you why he did it now.  He did it now because Scooter Libby—because the judge ruled that he had to begin his term pretty soon, and B, it‘s July 4th week, and the hope is that it‘ll fade away and people won‘t see it.

HANRETTY:  Yes, but isn‘t—isn‘t the bigger story here—look, if he shouldn‘t pardon Scooter Libby, then the question becomes, well, who should you pardon?  And why do—why do presidents pardon...

ABRAMS:  All right.  How about—how about...

HANRETTY:  ... in the first place?

ABRAMS:  How about non-violent drug offenders who are getting life sentences?

HANRETTY:  OK.  So we—so then we—what we need to do is we need to go back and we need to review past presidents, and we need to put—our presidential candidates...

ABRAMS:  But this is not intellectual honesty.

HANRETTY:  ... to the fire and ask them, What will...

ABRAMS:  This is a president...

HANRETTY:  What will be their—no...

ABRAMS:  ... who‘s used his power, Karen...

HANRETTY:  This is a political issue.

ABRAMS:  Karen...

HANRETTY:  This is a political issue, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Karen, this is a president who‘s...

HANRETTY:  What will be the—what will be the...

ABRAMS:  Karen, stop!

HANRETTY:  ... standards by presidential candidates...

ABRAMS:  Karen!  Karen!

HANRETTY:  ... who, if they‘re elected...

ABRAMS:  Karen—all right...

HANRETTY:  ... are going to—to hand out pardons?

ABRAMS:  Karen Hanretty, Michael Waldman, thanks.

Let‘s turn now to late-breaking developments tonight in the murder-suicide investigation of World Wrestling star Chris Benoit, known as “The Canadian Crippler,” believed to have strangled his wife, Nancy, and then the next day, his 7-year-old, Daniel.  Tonight‘s new clues to the case.  Benoit‘s personal doctor, Phil Astin, surrendered to authorities in Georgia and was indicted on seven counts of improperly dispensing painkillers and other drugs.  The indictment does not list Benoit as one of the recipients of the drugs.

But we learned today the Drug Enforcement Agency believes Dr. Astin prescribed Benoit a 10-month supply of steroids every few weeks.  And we know Benoit visited Dr. Astin the same day authorities believe he killed his wife.

Clue three.  The district attorney investigating the murder is saying Benoit‘s son may not have been suffering from a medical condition known as fragile X syndrome, as was previously reported, which would raise questions as to why some sort of needle marks were found on Benoit‘s son‘s arms.

Clue four.  More details emerging tonight about the personal life and drug use of Chris Benoit.  According to “The New York Times”—sorry, according to “The New York Daily News,” Benoit was known to abuse the drug GHB, also known as the “date rape drug,” even mixing it with steroids.  So far, it‘s unknown if GHB was found in Benoit‘s house at the time of the murder.  “The Daily News” reports he was still using the drug as recently as two years ago.

We‘ve got two former wrestlers with us who knew Benoit to talk about these latest developments, and they‘ve got some amazing things to say about these doctors who work with wrestlers.

But first, my take.  This story is taking a turn for the worse.  I now fear that any information about this child‘s sickness was just a diversion from the real issue, massive steroid use.  And what would be even worse is if the drugs were somehow connected to this child.

Let‘s me bring in former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney B.J.  Bernstein.  B.J., this doctor‘s been charged today, but not in connection with the Benoit case.  Is this just their effort to turn the screws on him?

B.J. BERNSTEIN, FORMER GEORGIA PROSECUTOR:  Well, clearly.  And also, it‘s important to see that this indictment actually stems from prescriptions in 2004 and 2005.  And so it begs the question, if this doctor has been under watch and the search warrant that came out today indicates that they had mentioned Chris Benoit‘s name in another investigation of a Marietta-based company, you know, what are they doing?  Why are they taking so long to investigate a doctor who was giving out, you know, as many as, they‘re saying now, possible one million improper pills?

ABRAMS:  Let me check in with Steve Blackman, who joins us here.  He knew Chris Benoit well.  He was known as “The Lethal Weapon.”  Also joined by Marc Mero, known as “Johnny B. Badd” and “The Wild Man Marc Mero.” 

We‘ve also got Irvin Muchnick, the author of “Wrestling Babylon:

Piledriving Tales of Drugs, Sex, Death and Scandal,” and Dr. Todd Schlifstein, a sports medicine and steroid expert at NYU Medical center.  Thanks to all of you for coming on.

All right, Steve, let me start with you.  This issue of doctors prescribing drugs—happen all the time, just where they‘re doing it improperly?

STEVE BLACKMAN, “THE LETHAL WEAPON,” FORMER PRO WRESTLER:  Well, I mean, in the wrestling business, from what I‘ve seen, I mean, a lot of doctors are fans.  I‘m sure Marc‘s going to agree with me on this point.  They‘re fans, so they have no problem giving wrestlers prescription painkillers, steroids, you know, whatever they want.  Now, you know, the amounts they‘re getting—you know, when you get them from so many different doctors, it‘s easy to get a load of them.  So I mean, these guys have no problem going state to state, Hey, Doc, I need this, and so on.  So it‘s pretty easy to get.

ABRAMS:  Marc, do you agree?

MARC MERO, “JOHNNY B. BADD,” FORMER PRO WRESTLER:  Absolutely.  We diagnose ourselves.  We tell the doctors what we would like.

ABRAMS:  And when you say that, you know, what—what, you‘re backstage at a WWE match, and a doctor comes by to shake your hand, Hey, Marc, great one, really enjoyed that, brings his kids with him, and you say, Hey, Doc, by the way, I need X, Y and Z?

MERO:  Absolutely.  These docs are big fans.  They have our pictures up on there in their offices, the doctors that operate on us.  They‘re fans, and they want to make you happy.  And if you say, you know, I ran out of my pain medication and—or, I left it in my hotel room and I need a script or—it‘s -- - it was never a problem getting whatever you wanted.

ABRAMS:  Doctor, this is not a—not such a good thing for the medical community, is it.

DR. TODD SCHLIFSTEIN, NYU SPORTS REHAB PHYSICIAN:  Certainly not.  The question is, you know, were these prescriptions given with good reason, for the appropriate reasons, and to what patients.

ABRAMS:  But Irvin, bottom line is—look, you studied the wrestling world.  This happens all the time?

IRVIN MUCHNICK, AUTHOR, “WRESTLING BABYLON”:  Yes.  I mean, what Marc and Steve said was accurate.  But what needs to be added is if history repeats itself first as tragedy and then as farce, we‘ve already have the farce.  In the early ‘90s, a Pennsylvania doctor named George Zehorian (ph) did federal prison time for illegally distributing steroids for non-therapeutic purposes.  And the WWE, then WWF, promised to clean up its act and clearly didn‘t.

So today‘s news is really the worst possible, just about the worst possible news that the WWE, a publicly traded company, could possibly have at this time.  they lie fully exposed as, at a minimum, a key enabler in pro wrestling‘s cocktail of death over the last...

ABRAMS:  And real quick before the break...

MUCHNICK:  ... quarter century.

ABRAMS:  ... Steve, you‘re convinced, though, still that steroids couldn‘t be the explanation.

BLACKMAN:  I can—I mean, I‘ll agree that it might have a small—play a small factor in it.  But there‘s no way that it attributed to him doing a calculated act like he did over a three-day period.  I mean, that‘s a combination of prescription, painkillers, maybe alcohol, depression, lack of sleep, steroids.  I mean, it‘s got to be a lethal cocktail altogether.  There‘s no way that the steroid is the sole factor.

ABRAMS:  Everyone‘s going to stick around.  We got a lot more on this story, including the controversy over 7-year-old Daniel Benoit, the DA now saying there‘s no reason to believe that he really had a rare medical condition.  so why did he supposedly have track marks across his arms?

And later: Bobby Cutts, Jr., in court today.  The mother of Jessie Davis, the pregnant woman he allegedly killed, had a few words for him.  And why his accomplice is in even more trouble today.  A hint: There are some favors you don‘t do for people, a la hiding a body being one of them.

Then the controversy heating up over Fox‘s Bill O‘Reilly essentially blaming female victims in both the Benoit and Cutts cases for staying in their relationships with the accused killers.  Not surprising, leaders from women‘s groups and victims‘ rights advocates not happy.  Two of them are with us.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Prescription drugs are controlled substances because if they are abused, they can cause serious illnesses, addiction and even death.  Dr. Astin allegedly prescribed these drugs like candy, without regard for appropriate medical practice or the recipient‘s health.


ABRAMS:  Personal doctor for wrestler Chris Benoit indicted today on seven counts of improperly prescribe painkillers and other drugs.  Benoit not listed in the indictment, but the court documents revealed the DEA knew he was an excessive—or at least suspected he was an excessive purchaser of steroids and that his doctor prescribed the wrestler 10 months‘ supply of steroids every three to four weeks.

B.J. Bernstein, what does it mean that the federal prosecutors are taking this case, instead of state prosecutors?

BERNSTEIN:  He‘s looking at substantial prison time.  I mean, they‘re going to try to make sure that the federal sentencing guidelines apply and probably look beyond this doctor, and in light of all the publicity going on with regard to wrestling, go beyond the scope of just this wrestler and try to find out, Are there others out there?

ABRAMS:  Marc Mero, before the break, Steve Blackman was pointing out that he thinks that steroids alone couldn‘t lead you to do something like this, that over a three-day period of time, that it would require other drugs, alcohol, et cetera.  You agree?

MERO:  You know what?  The rage of a steroid could lead you to kill his wife.  You know, that may happen as far as they got in an argument or something happened, arguing over the kid or whatever, something—he just snapped.  And after he snapped and killed his wife, he could easily then thought to himself, Oh, my gosh, who‘s going to take care of my sick boy?  You know, I want him in a better place.  I‘m going to be going to prison, or else he knew he was going to kill himself.  So he planned it out, thought it out.  He probably drank, took drugs, whatever it took, and then did away with his boy and then himself.

ABRAMS:  Did you guys trade doctors, Marc?  Did you ever say, Hey, you know, I got one.  He‘s really great, and you know, He‘ll give you whatever you need.

MERO:  Well, we called that—if one of the boys could get something from the doctor, it was called getting the gimmick, OK?  There was doctors that would show up at our shows and they‘d say, Oh, that guy‘ll write you a script.  And of course, the boys would hawk around the guy and get whatever they wanted from different doctors.  And we even received a memo at WCWE (ph) about a particular doctors that they wanted you to stay away from because it was just getting too much.

BLACKMAN:  Well, Marc, let me ask you this.  Do you agree with me that when you see the mental state of the guys in the locker room that are on numerous prescription painkillers, as compared to the guys on steroids—I mean, the guys that take numerous prescription medication look a lot worse mentally than the guys on ‘roids.

MERO:  I agree with you, Steve.  But you know, one of the biggest problems is, is I think about what happened to Chris Benoit, him snapping, and I think to myself, this is a guy that‘s pretty—a normal, level-headed guy.  I think about the other wrestlers that I always say, Man, that guy‘s going to lose it some day.  They‘re out there.  Something needs to be done about steroids in professional wrestling.  And I applaud Governor Charlie Crist here in Florida, who recently on Tuesday signed into law on that they are now going to start randomly testing high school athletes in football, wrestling and basketball.  And I applaud that.  And I challenge the WWE to match (ph) as many guys as they test to help out with it.  They got Wrestlemania coming here to Orlando.  I challenge you to start getting involved this stuff.

ABRAMS:  Steve, you want to ask a question of the doctor, right?

BLACKMAN:  Yes, I do, along these lines.  Since steroids are so prevalent in high school, college and pro sports—I mean, baseball, football, wrestling, so on—you know, they‘re trying to say that these steroids were the sole factor in Benoit doing this and going on this rage, well, then, why haven‘t we heard of other things like this along these lines if there are so many, you know, thousands of people in the country doing this?  Why hasn‘t something like this happened before?

SCHLIFSTEIN:  Well, I think it‘d be hard to attribute this event and this series of events just to anabolic steroid use alone.  Quite often, when someone abuses anabolic steroids, they take multiple other drugs at the same time, whether it‘s Xanax to take the edge off, whether it‘s GHB to help you sleep, whether they‘re taking multiple painkillers.  And sometimes the combination of these drugs are amplified dramatically when used with anabolic steroids.  So certainly, it‘s hard to attribute it just to one factor, and I think it will be hard to, you know, say, This is the culprit.  It‘s probably a multiply factorial approach or a multi-pharmaceuticals that are involved that we may not even be able to identify that caused this unfortunate series of events.

ABRAMS:  And we‘ll talk about GHB, known as the “date rape” drug, a little bit more coming up.  But Doctor, have you been surprised as how easy wrestlers have said it was to get steroids and other prescription drugs?

SCHLIFSTEIN:  Well, it certainly is a little surprising, a little upsetting to hear how easy it was to obtain some of these prescription scheduled drugs that are very restricted and should be well monitored and well controlled.

ABRAMS:  But they don‘t talk about this in the medical community, right?  You don‘t go to—you don‘t go to medical conferences where the topic is doctors giving away, you know, steroids like freebies at a baseball game?

SCHLIFSTEIN:  No, certainly, you don‘t talk about that.  But you certainly talk about the indicated uses for it, the appropriate documentation...

ABRAMS:  Right.

SCHLIFSTEIN:  ... what things to monitor...

ABRAMS:  All right...

SCHLIFSTEIN:  ... what things you have to warn the patient about.

ABRAMS:  Let me do this.  B.J. Bernstein, I want to thank you for coming on.  Appreciate it.  The rest of our panel is going to stick around.

Coming up: Chris Benoit‘s 7-year-old son—it‘s been reported he suffered from a rare mental and physical condition.  Tonight, authorities are now questioning whether that‘s even true.  So then why did the boy have needle marks on his arm?

And later: Bill O‘Reilly went after Benoit‘s wife and pregnant murdered mom Jessie Davis for staying in their relationships.  As you can imagine, some women‘s groups and victims‘ rights advocates not too happy O‘Reilly is blaming the victims (INAUDIBLE)


ABRAMS:  Continuing now with the investigation into the gruesome murder-suicide involving former wrestler Chris Benoit, allegedly smothered his 7-year-old son to death.  Tonight, there are new questions about whether 7-year-old Daniel really suffered from a condition known as fragile X syndrome, as had been reported.  The DA investigating the Benoit murder told TMZ.com, quote, “a source having access to Daniel‘s medical reports reviewed those reports, and they do not mention any preexisting mental or physical impairment.  Reports from Daniel‘s educators likewise contradict the claims that Daniel was physically undersized.  The educators report that Daniel graduated kindergarten and was prepared to enter the 1st grade on par with the other students.”

And yet when the DA was on this program, he said this.


SCOTT BALLARD, FAYETTE COUNTY, GEORGIA, DISTRICT ATTORNEY:  The medical examiner revealed that there were old needle marks on the arms of the boy.

It‘s my understanding that the boy was undersized.  I don‘t know, perhaps.  I don‘t think, though, based on what I know, that that‘s going to turn out the reasons those steroids are in the house.


ABRAMS:  All right, so Dr. Schlifstein,  what could be the explanation for those needle marks on the boy‘s arm?

SCHLIFSTEIN:  Well, first of all, fragile X is the most common cause of mental impairment that‘s genetically born to the child.  That gives you cognitive deficits, behavioral deficits, but does not give you undersize or smaller children.  It‘s physical impairments or a certain type of face, looks, and certain connective tissue problems, but certainly not undersized.

If he had track marks on his arm—typically, human growth hormone, anabolic steroids are either given subcutaneously, through the skin, or intramuscularly, into the—directly into the muscle itself.  So track marks or injection marks on the veins—is that what they really mean by “track marks,” or do they just mean injection sites were seen on the boy‘s arms?

ABRAMS:  Irvin, you got a theory on this?

MUCHNICK:  Well, it‘s pure speculation, Dan, but if, in fact, there‘s no medical foundation for this, maybe Chris Benoit was transferring his own complex about size.  He had a hard time getting (ph) over as a star in wrestling because despite his technical gifts, he was a little on the small side, which is why he himself did steroids.  So maybe that‘s what‘s behind it, but I really don‘t know more than what these reports say.

ABRAMS:  He was a smaller guy in the wrestling world?

BLACKMAN:  He wasn‘t very tall, but he was certainly muscular, and he made up for his lack of overall size with his agility and speed and the way he moved around the ring, so—you know, there‘s a lot of guys out there his size, and that‘s their gimmick, just, you know, (INAUDIBLE) they‘re flying out there.

ABRAMS:  All right, would you just stay with us again?

Still ahead: Steroids not the only drug linked to this case now. 

We‘ll look at the role GHB, the so-called date rape drug, may have played in this case.

And later: We predicted it right here on the show, Bill O‘Reilly under fire from victims‘ rights groups after he blamed Chris Benoit‘s wife for her own murder, and also predictably, Fox News trying to justify his unjustifiable comments.


ABRAMS:  Coming up, prosecutors reveal what role a high school classmate of Bobby Cutts may have played in the murder of his pregnant girlfriend.  Cutts was in court today.  We‘ll have that, coming up.

But first, new details into the life of wrestler Chris Benoit, who‘s believed to have murdered his wife and son before taking his own life.  The “New York Daily News” reports that Benoit was a regular abuser of the drug GHB, known as the date-rape drug.  Joining us now on the phone is Christian Red.  He‘s a sports writer for the “New York Daily News.”  He wrote that story.

Thanks for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.  All right, Christian, what do you know?

CHRISTIAN RED, “NEW YORK DAILY NEWS”:  How are you doing?  Nice to be on the show.

ABRAMS:  What do you know about this?

RED:  Well, according to sources that I talked with, that contributed to the story that ran yesterday, Benoit was a known abuser of the drug—it‘s formal name is gamma hydroxybutyrate.  The shortened acronym is GHB.  He was using that with another wrestler known as “Gentleman” Chris Adams, as far back as 2001.  But sources told me that after Adams‘ death, Benoit was still using it as recently as a couple of years ago. 

So that‘s the history of his usage.  And as the story stated, Adams died a violent death in 2001.  But about a year earlier, his then-girlfriend died of a GHB-alcohol overdose.  So this was a guy that was abusing to gruesome effects right up until her death and his death. 

ABRAMS:  Let‘s me ask Marc Mero.  I mean, did you know people, yourself, others, who used GHB to, quote, “take the edge off”? 

MERO:  Welcome to the world of professional wrestling.  Absolutely.  I‘ve known guys do GHB.  I‘ve done it before.  I‘ve never seen it used for the date rape, so to speak, but it helps take the edge off when you do cocaine, or you smoke pot, or you‘re up real late.  It makes you feel good, helps you sleep real good.  It was a common drug.  But like I said, steroids, GHB, these are just small things in a very large problem in the world of professional wrestling.  It needs to be regulated. 

ABRAMS:  Steve, what do you make of this?  I mean, if it‘s true that he was also taking GHB, I mean, the rest of us, we think, what‘s he doing taking a date rape drug? 

BLACKMAN:  Well, yes, I mean, calling that a date rape drug in our line of business kind of doesn‘t fit, because that has nothing to do with it, but taking the edge off, I mean, I can‘t say with absolute certainty he was taking that, and I‘ve known him for 20 years.  Could he have been?  Of course he could have been.  Many of the guys take Percocet, Vicodin, whatever it takes to come down, you know.  I mean, it‘s a grueling life cycle.  You‘re going to bed at 2:00 in the morning, sometimes get up at 5:00.  You‘re flying out.  You know, you‘re exhausted, and guys do what they can to fall asleep, take what they have to in the morning to get going.  So it‘s a brutal life. 

ABRAMS:  What did you make of the track marks found on his son?  What did you know about his relationship with his son?

BLACKMAN:  Well, I mean, Chris—most of the guys in there are good family men.  Now, Chris was a great guy.  And people are sitting at home going, “He was a great guy?  He committed this horrible act.”  Well, calm down at home for a minute.  He was a great guy up to the point where this happened, just like there were a lot of other examples in this world like that.  He was a family man.  He was loyal.  He was a great friend.  I hope he wasn‘t taking the initiative to self-medicate his own son.  So, you know, that‘s pretty brutal, if he was doing that. 

ABRAMS:  What do you think could explain this, then?  I mean, if it‘s so—if what happened is so different than the guy you knew? 

BLACKMAN:  I don‘t know.  My personal opinion is this:  It‘s years on the road.  It‘s depression.  It‘s physical abuse.  It‘s a little bit of steroids.  It‘s a little bit of these painkillers, a little bit of these painkillers, the pressure of performing well every night, and finally at the end I think he just finally snapped, just took the rest of them. 

ABRAMS:  All right, Steve, thanks a lot for coming in.  We appreciate it.  Christian Red, thanks a lot to you.  Marc Mero, Irvin Muchnick and Dr.  Todd Schlifstein, thanks a lot.

Now to another murder case.  Bobby Cutts, Jr., the man accused of murdering Jessie Davis and her unborn child, appeared in court today, one day before her baby was due to be born.  Cutts waved his preliminary hearing.  Davis‘ mother spoke to the media following the hearing. 


PATTY PORTER, MOTHER OF JESSIE DAVIS:  It‘s not hard for me to look at him, not hard at all.  There‘s just not words to explain how I feel, except that I want him to have a fair trial probably more than anybody, because, at some point, I‘m going to have to explain all this to my grandson.  I‘m just putting my faith in the justice system, and whatever they feel is the best, and that‘s what I feel is the best, and I can‘t say it enough times that I want him to have a fair trial. 


ABRAMS:  Also appearing, Cutts‘ alleged accomplice, Myisha Ferrell.  Today we found out she‘s accused of helping to dispose of Jessie‘s body and that more charges are likely to be filed against her.  She was originally charge with obstructing justice, for lying to and not cooperating with the authorities. 

Here now, “America‘s Most Wanted” correspondent Jon Leiberman.  All right, Jon, Myisha‘s role becomes sort of interesting, you say more charges could be coming against her.  Now they‘re saying she helped dispose the body.  You have any sense of what else they may have against her? 

JON LEIBERMAN, CORRESPONDENT, “AMERICA‘S MOST WANTED”:  Oh, yes, absolutely.  I mean, to this point, it appears she had a limited role as a coconspirator.  But, yes, in open court today they suggested she helped dump the body, that she repeatedly lied to police.  So we expect to see prosecutors go forward with a number of different charges to this grand jury and hope that they return indictments, in hopes of, we think, flipping on Bobby Cutts and really helping prosecutors get their man. 

ABRAMS:  It sounds like Cutts at the very least was a guy who manipulated women.  Is the belief that he manipulated her?  Is this just—

I mean, what could be the other explanation for why she‘s helping him after the fact? 

LEIBERMAN:  Well, that‘s a great question.  We know he had multiple relationships, multiple children out of wedlock.  We also know—our police sources tell us that Cutts spoke to this woman, Myisha Ferrell, several times on the night and the following day in question over the cell phone, so that leads us to ask the question, what really was their relationship?  It had to be more than just classmates from high school. 

ABRAMS:  Let me ask you this, Jon.  You see him in court, Bobby Cutts.  He‘s a former police officer.  Any sense that there is an acknowledgement on the part of any of the corrections officers that, “You‘re a police officer, and therefore we‘ll not necessarily treat you with kid gloves, but be a little more kind to you”?  Or maybe just the opposite, which is, “You‘ve shamed us”? 

LEIBERMAN:  Oh, I don‘t think—yes, absolutely, it‘s just the opposite.  These guys look at Bobby Cutts, and they just stare him down.  I mean, they think, “What has this guy done?  He‘s disgraced all of us.”  They don‘t want to be painted with a broad brush, Dan.  They want to be painted as good law enforcement officers, so they‘re trying to paint him as a rogue. 

ABRAMS:  Real quickly, he waved his right to a preliminary hearing today.  Any sense why? 

LEIBERMAN:  Yes, the defense attorney just didn‘t want any evidence coming out that could possibly taint a jury pool.  Nothing good could have happened today by him going forward with a preliminary hearing, so his lawyer just didn‘t want any other word out.  He doesn‘t want it getting out in dribs and drabs. 

ABRAMS:  Jon Leiberman has been all over this story.  Thanks a lot for coming back.  We appreciate it. 

LEIBERMAN:  You got it, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Still ahead, victims‘ rights groups are fighting back after FOX‘s Bill O‘Reilly seemed to blame Jessie Davis and wrestler Chris Benoit‘s wives for their own deaths.  This as now the attack machine goes into overdrive trying to defend his comments. 

Plus, “Good Morning America” shows us how not to barbecue this July Fourth.  Tip number one:  Don‘t invite a pyromaniac.  It‘s coming up.


ABRAMS:  Time for tonight‘s “Beat the Press,” our daily look at the absurd and sometimes amusing perils of live TV.  First up, “Good Morning America” correspondent Elizabeth Leamy offers up summer safety tips on how to prevent outdoor fires, but watch the guy in the back. 


ELIZABETH LEAMY, “GMA” CORRESPONDENT:  OK, so what we‘re seeing now, well, smoke and a little flame.  We‘ve speeded up the process in our simulation just a little bit to give you an idea how dangerous this can be, but the basic tip here is don‘t have combustibles near your grill. 


ABRAMS:  No, the basic tip would be don‘t let guys in blue suits squirt lighter fluid on your grill when it‘s tipped over.  But there‘s more.  You‘re your eye on the left side of the screen. 


LEAMY:  Next tip:  Don‘t wear loose clothing.  That just makes it more likely that you‘re going to catch on fire, in addition to your house catching on fire.  Meanwhile, over on this side, look at this.  We‘ve actually got melting siding, that vinyl siding.  Firefighters call that vinyl siding hard gasoline. 


ABRAMS:  Here we call that arson. 

Next up, at our own NBC News world headquarters on Sunday, Ann Curry was hosting “Nightly News” for Lester Holt, but watch the video as they zoom in for the top of the show. 


ANNOUNCER:  This is “NBC Nightly News” with Lester Holt.  Substituting tonight, Ann Curry. 



ABRAMS:  Wait, then why not use Lester?  We just saw him standing in the studio.  No, seriously, Lester was on a plane to cover the terror story. 

And while we like to “Beat the Press,” on this program, light-hearted segment, sometimes the press likes to pick on people who don‘t deserve it.  FOX‘s Bill O‘Reilly has made a cause out of blaming two crime victims for their own deaths, pregnant mom Jessie Davis and Nancy Benoit, wife of WWE star Chris Benoit, who killed himself after murdering her and their 7-year-old son.  Well, he made this comment last week, now the smear machine is stepping up the rhetoric, and victims rights groups are stepping up the reaction to this. 


BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST:  In both of these terrible situations, the men involved from troubled and chaotic.  And the women involved had to know that.  Those ladies made big mistakes.  They were obligated to protect their children, and I submit, by allowing the chaos they allowed, they did not protect them.


ABRAMS:  All right.  Now my old pal and current FOX water boy, John Gibson, is going after me, defending O‘Reilly over this.  My take?  Why not just admit O‘Reilly should not have said it, that it was a mistake, and an insult to women and crime victims.  He claims he was not blaming the victims, but that, of course, is exactly what he and his team were doing, blaming two dead women for their own demise, that they should have prevented their murders.  Look, we don‘t even know how much Jessie was even seeing Cutts any more at this point. 

Here now is the president of the National Organization for Women, Kim Gandy, and Rita Smith, the executive director of the National Coalition against Domestic Violence.

Thanks to both of you for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.  All right, Kim, what do you make of these comments? 

KIM GANDY, NOW PRESIDENT:  Well, sometimes you don‘t have to beat the press; sometimes the press just beats itself for you.  And Bill O‘Reilly is doing a great job of that.  His habit is to dump on women, particularly women that he thinks haven‘t done what he would of course do, if he were in that situation.  And he, in fact, has no idea what they did or what they have done. 

But what we do know, for instance, in the Cutts case, we know that police families, police officers are two to four times more likely than other families to experience domestic violence and that it‘s generally fruitless to report it because, according to surveys of police departments, very little action is taken against officers even in verified complaints of domestic violence. 

ABRAMS:  Well, see, here‘s the—Rita Smith, I want you to listen to

this is from his radio show, and this is what he says about Jessie Davis.


O‘REILLY:  Jessie Davis had to know this Cutts guy was a chaotic, irresponsible person, with two families in Ohio and another out-of-wedlock child in California.  Then, Ms. Davis gets pregnant by Cutts again?  Come on.  Most crimes of violence are committed by people who know their victims and irresponsible behavior is the tip off.  If you are involved with someone who does chaotic things, you will get hurt. 


ABRAMS:  Obviously, it‘s his TV show.  Rita Smith, you wrote a note about this. 

RITA SMITH, NATIONAL COALITION AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE:  Yes, I did.  I sent a note to Bill O‘Reilly, telling him how concerned I was about his comments, because I think that he‘s really damaged a lot of survivors‘ opportunities to get out, by just basically slamming them for not protecting themselves.  Dan, if they could protect themselves, they would.  That‘s the whole problem:  They can‘t. 

So we, as a society, have to step up and do something to help protect them from these kinds of things.  And he wasn‘t chaotic.  These guys were not chaotic.  They were violent perpetrators, serial abusers, and people around them had to know that this was going on. 

ABRAMS:  Here‘s what my—and I really—he is an old friend of mine, John Gibson—said on his radio show about this, going after me and talking about the comments. 


JOHN GIBSON, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  There is nothing unreasonable about what O‘Reilly said.  You know, here‘s a woman, Jessie Davis, who might want to wake up and smell the coffee.  There‘s something wrong with Bobby Cutts, and she shouldn‘t be hanging around with him.  And it led to her death. 

Dan is huffing and puffing about an outrage over something O‘Reilly said, which is a perfectly reasonable thing for him to have said, a perfectly decent observation, but Dan‘s just trying to pick a fight. 


ABRAMS:  You know, Kim, I‘ve been surprised that, you know, rather than coming out and saying, “We shouldn‘t have said that, that was a mistake,” that now, you know, some of O‘Reilly‘s cronies are now going on and taking it to the next level. 

GANDY:  Yes, some people just can‘t admit they‘re wrong.  But in this case, John Gibson is doing something that Bill O‘Reilly is more likely to do, which is to just display complete ignorance about a situation.  Clearly, they don‘t understand anything about what happens in domestic violence cases.  Cutts is an example of something we see a lot:  He‘s been fighting for custody of a 9-year-old.  We know that abusive men are far more likely to engage in protracted custody battles. 

ABRAMS:  But I have to tell you, Rita Smith, more disturbing to me is these women are dead now.  Using them as some sort of example, no matter what you believe about what women should and shouldn‘t do generally, using two dead women as the example, as a sort of lesson to all women out there, to me is what‘s particularly offensive about this. 

SMITH:  Well, and I think the other thing, Dan, is that, if these two women had gotten away from these guys, it doesn‘t guarantee that they would have been safe or that they wouldn‘t have been abused or that they wouldn‘t have been murdered.  Walking away does not guarantee your safety.  And so every individual woman has to make a choice about what‘s the most dangerous thing for her to do that day.  And those women decided that staying was more safe for them at that point in time than leaving, and there‘s no way to know for sure. 

ABRAMS:  And, again, Kim, hindsight is 20/20.  It‘s great to go back and say, “Oh, this could happen or that could happen.”  That‘s terrific.  But it‘s not useful to use two victims—victims—as some sort of example to set for other people. 

GANDY:  Well, of course.  Obviously, these women aren‘t here to defend themselves.  They‘re not here to tell you how many times they called the police, how many times they tried to seek shelter where they were no beds available, how many times they called the hotline, how many times they were turned down for support.  They‘re not here to defend themselves, and yet they‘re being attacked by people who clearly are ignorant about the problem.  One thing that our other guest, Rita, can confirm is that sometimes the most dangerous time for an abuse victim is after you leave. 

ABRAMS:  Is when she leaves, yep, I‘ve got to wrap it up.  Kim Gandy and Rita Smith, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it. 

I hope we‘re going to get an apology.  I don‘t think we will.

Up next, the day‘s “Winners and Losers,” including Oregon‘s strippers. 

It turns out lap dancers is a form of free speech.


ABRAMS:  Time for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers” for this second day of July 2007.  The bronze winner, a man with friends in high places, Lewis “Scooter” Libby.  Just house after a court ordered Cheney‘s former chief of staff to begin his 30-month prison term, President Bush stepped in this evening and commuted the sentence, sparing Libby any prison time. 

The bronze loser, a man with no friends left in any places, disgraced former Durham County D.A. Mike Nifong, who submitted his long overdue resignation today.  Last month, Nifong disbarred for his unethical handling of the Duke lacrosse case. 

The silver winner, a woman who used to charge thousands for fast women.  Former Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss trying to clean up her act, opening a laundromat called “Dirty Laundry.”

The silver loser, fast drivers in Virginia who could now be fined the nightly rate of one of Heidi‘s girls.  Under a new state law, they could be coughing up more than $3,000 for speeding. 

But the gold loser of the day, the wife of stripper-loving New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez.  Yesterday, A-Rod‘s wife sported a t-shirt with the F-word clearly emblazoned on the back as she sat at a family-friendly game. 

Our big gold winner of the day?  Strippers in Oregon and their patrons.  Last week, a judge struck down the city‘s ban on lap dances.  He ruled they are actually a form of free speech protected by the state‘s constitution. 

Here to discuss both the real and imagined ramifications of the lap dancing ruling, constitutional lawyer Michael Gross.  Thanks for joining us.  We appreciate it. 

MICHAEL GROSS, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY:  Pleasure.  Where‘s the lap dance?

ABRAMS:  How is it—well, we actually were going to invite one on, I should say, but we just decided to go with the high road.  Yes.  And I think many of our viewers are now looking at you, and they are extremely disappointed.  But all right, so how is this a freedom of expression, freedom of speech, that somehow it‘s a constitutional right to give or receive a lap dance? 

GROSS:  Yes, it‘s a constitutional right to express your opinion and art forms are, including dance, are an expression of your opinion.  And what you are asking is really whether or not when the dance pleases the viewer, the spectator, or touches the spectator, that makes it illegal. 

ABRAMS:  What about prostitution?  I mean, the bottom line is prostitution is illegal, and clearly courts have upheld outlawing prostitution. 

GROSS:  And everywhere, of course, not in every country and not in every state in the United States. 

ABRAMS:  Right, but it hasn‘t been a constitutional issue.  Courts don‘t say, “You have a constitutional right to pay for sex.”

GROSS:  Put it the other way around.  You don‘t have to first justify what you‘re doing as right.  The legislature has to say that there‘s a victim.  Somebody is harmed other than—we‘re not just aiming at stopping this expression. 

ABRAMS:  Who‘s harmed in prostitution? 

GROSS:  Well, what we have found—I don‘t necessarily agree with this—but what‘s been found historically, the argument is—really it‘s a religious argument, a social mores argument—that prostitution affects society in general...

ABRAMS:  Hello, lap dancing, what‘s the difference?  I mean, it‘s the same argument!

GROSS:  You must go to a different place than I do. 

ABRAMS:  I don‘t know.  Maybe the lap dances you get are G-rated. 


ABRAMS:  Just so you know, Michael, we‘re not talking about the sort of lap dances they do at kiddy parties, just so we‘re clear on what the issue is here.  We‘re talking about naked lap dancing. 

GROSS:  I get it.  I don‘t see anything wrong, because you‘re pleased, even sexually aroused.  And if you stop sexual arousal, you change a lot of TV programs, MTV especially.  But let‘s give the spectator a break.  Who‘s harmed? 

ABRAMS:  But I‘m not saying—look, I have no problem with the lap dance.  I‘m just saying the notion that it‘s a constitutional issue, that they‘re saying, “Oh, the Oregon”—come on!

GROSS:  Pursuit of happiness.  Blessings of liberty. 

ABRAMS:  Yeah, yeah, yeah.

GROSS:  You either show me that what I do harms somebody or I can do it. 

ABRAMS:  No, that‘s not the—that‘s not the way we evaluate constitutional law.

GROSS:  Well, it is.  You and I disagree.  I make the argument...

ABRAMS:  Fair enough.  I‘ve got to wrap up.  Michael Gross, good to see you. 

GROSS:  Thank you, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  That‘s all the time we have for tonight.  Up next, “To Catch a Predator: Long Beach.”  This time, an online post warns the suspects that hidden cameras are in the neighborhood.



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