updated 9/21/2007 1:07:23 PM ET 2007-09-21T17:07:23

Guest: Joan Walsh, Lt. Col. James Carafano, Rev. Jesse Jackson, DeMaurice

Smith, Yale Galanter, Jason Burton, Rachel Miller

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Today the thin-skinned U.S. Senate managed to muster the political courage to finally speak for our troops.  Timeline for withdrawal?  Not quite.  No, they are defending our troops by taking the time to vote to condemn a newspaper ad.  Yes, the same Senate that could not pass legislation to provide our troops with the proper rest in between tours of duty managed to rally behind a toothless resolution condemning an advertisement from the liberal group Moveon.org.  The ad referred to the top U.S. commander in Iraq, General Petraeus, as “General Betray Us” and accused him of cooking the books for the White House.

Twenty-two Democrats, apparently fearing being tagged as anti-military, voted with all the Republicans.  And today, the president, wisely seeing an opportunity to change the subject away from the substantive discussion about the war, hit this softball out of the park.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I thought the ad was disgusting.  And I felt like the ad was an attack not only on General Petraeus but on the U.S. military.  And I was disappointed that not more leaders in the Democrat party spoke out strongly against that kind of ad.  And that leads me to come to this conclusion, that most Democrats are afraid of irritating a left-wing group like Moveon.org—or more afraid of irritating them than they are of irritating the United States military.  That was a sorry deal.  And one thing to attack me, another thing to attack somebody like General Petraeus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  My take.  Please.  What a sideshow.  This is the same president who told a group of conservative columnists, People listen to Petraeus, not to me.  And yet now the only one of the duo who people can criticize is the one who the president says people don’t listen to?  By saying that Petraeus would essentially determine our Iraq policy, he made Petraeus more than just a military man.

But politicizing minutia is nothing new.  It’s the Senate that’s even more disappointing here.  Look, I, too, found the headline outrageous, certainly don’t agree with much of the ad.  So what?  It’s a political ad from a group with an agenda.  Does this mean the Senate Republicans will now be called on to criticize every one of Anne Coulter’s books?  Why shouldn’t a group, any group, be able to speak their minds about the most important issue facing our nation, even if it involves mocking someone who many revere?  How perverse.  While we’re fighting for democracy and freedom in the Middle East, back at home, our Senate is condemning political speech.

Here now, Pat Buchanan, MSNBC political analyst, Joan Walsh, editor-in-chief of Salon.com, and retired Army lieutenant colonel James Carafano, now a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation.  Thanks to all of you for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

All right.  Pat, you’re laughing as I’m finishing up “My take.”  What in that was funny?

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  What’s funny is that, look, Moveon.org has every right to run any ad it wants, and “The New York Times” has every right to run it and nobody objected to that.  But when they say things like that, then the folks who disagree have a right to stand up and say, You’ve got freedom of speech, but you’ve used it in an outrageous manner.

ABRAMS:  That’s fine.

BUCHANAN:  You have slandered this man.

ABRAMS:  Say it.

BUCHANAN:  You have undercut and challenged his patriotism, his integrity, his veracity, and you all are off the reservation, as far as we’re concerned.  And 22 Democrats voted to agree with the entire Republican Party.

ABRAMS:  Pat, I’m happy to hear you say that.  You can have as much—

I’m giving you all the time you want to blast them.  You just did it. 

Great.  But once we’re talking about the Senate...

BUCHANAN:  I don’t need to blast them!

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Look, it’s fine.  It’s fine.  That’s what this is about.  But the notion—and let me bring in Colonel Carafano here—I mean, the notion that we have to get the Senate involved here to condemn certain groups—I mean, what kind of road are we going to start going down?  Again, I think that—I think the Democrats can now start calling on Republicans to criticize, publicly condemn Anne Coulter.

LT. COL. JAMES CARAFANO, U.S. ARMY (RET.), HERITAGE FOUNDATION:  Well, I mean, let’s—I mean, let’s be honest here.  I mean, Congress passes meaningless resolutions all the time.  What’s new?  And Congress has repackaged things for political content.  What’s new there?  I mean, I thought, quite frankly, the Webb proposal amendment was pretty superfluous.  It was about, you know, structuring troop rotations, and the Pentagon’s already doing everything it can to structure troop rotations.  I mean, that was a clock (ph) designed to pull the troops out of Iraq.  So I mean, let’s be shocked that, you know, Congress plays politics.  I mean, come on.  Let’s be honest about that.

ABRAMS:  But look—but it’s not—I mean, look, if the president’s comments just there—I’m surprised—and Joan Walsh, your party, the Democrats, they -- 22 of them, signed onto this.  But even more embarrassing was this watered-down version of this that they tried to pass, where they said, We want to condemn all people who engage in these sorts of attacks.  I mean, what are they doing?

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM:  Well, it’s ridiculous, Dan, you’re right.  But I mean, this is where we are.  It is as if the Democrats would go in and demand that Republicans repudiate the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which they did not.  I mean, it’s just despicable what the Republicans did today.  They played political theater and a political dirty trick...

ABRAMS:  But what about the Democrats?

WALSH:  ... and the Democrats fell for it.

ABRAMS:  Yes, that’s what I’m saying.

WALSH:  Twenty-two of them fell for it, and it’s just outrageous.  They are cowards, and it’s part of why we can’t stop the war, just absolute cowards.

ABRAMS:  And then they tried...

BUCHANAN:  Dan, let her talk!

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAMS:  Hang on one sec, Pat.  Then they tried to water it down with their own resolution.

WALSH:  Well, John McCain did the same thing yesterday with the Webb amendment.  That’s what they do.  Oh, let’s pass something toothless and we can all feel good and go home and do whatever we do.

ABRAMS:  Go ahead, Pat.

WALSH:  I mean, it’s ridiculous.  It’s what they do.  But the Democrats who voted for it should be ashamed of themselves.

BUCHANAN:  All right, Dan...

WALSH:  And I’m sad that Barack Obama didn’t see fit to vote.

ABRAMS:  Go ahead, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  Dan, you know what Moveon.org has done here?  They’ve revived the 1960s, when many in the left—it was not that they were anti-war, they were anti-military.  They were anti-American.  The slurs—to go after General Petraeus, the stupidity of it escapes me.

WALSH:  That’s ridiculous, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  There is a real case...

WALSH:  You’re reviving it.

BUCHANAN:  Hold it, Joan!

WALSH:  You’re the one reviving it.

BUCHANAN:  Joan...

WALSH:  They’re not reviving it.

BUCHANAN:  Look, there are tough questions that should be asked of General Petraeus.  John Warner asked him, Is this going to make us safer?  Tell us, General.  Instead, you start sliming the general and you go revert to your babyhood back in the 1960s, and you put that image before the American people...

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH:  They’re an advocacy group.  That’s what they do.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  ... and 22 Democrats said, We are not 1960s Democrats.

ABRAMS:  Colonel Carafano, look, you know General Petraeus.  You’ve taught with him at West Point, all right?

CARAFANO:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  Is he such a shrinking violet that this advertisement is going to somehow have an impact on him and he’s going to be offended?  I’m getting the feeling that a guy like General Petraeus is going to simply look the other way.

CARAFANO:  Well, Dave’s not going to care.  I mean, Dave’s doing his job.  And he’s not a politician.  I mean, let’s all pretend that we’re shocked that politicians in Congress act like politicians.  But I mean, just look at the ad for a second.  The ad is just not logical.  I mean, this isn’t Dave’s war.  I mean, this was Rumsfeld’s war...

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH:  But the president put him in that place.  The president made this a political job.

CARAFANO:  Let me just make one simple statement.  This was not Dave’s war.  Somebody else set the war up, and Dave was sent over there and he was sent there to do a thing.  It would have been very easy for him to say, Look, I went, I tried, this isn’t working.

ABRAMS:  Right.

CARAFANO:  Nobody would have felt bad.  But he went and he said, Look, I think this is going to work.  He basically has had—took ownership for this war.  I mean, this is his war, much the way...

ABRAMS:  But Colonel, even if it’s not his fault...

CARAFANO:  Let me finish!  Much in the way Creighton Abrams took ownership of Vietnamization.  And the point is, is Dave didn’t have to do that, so he’s doing what he—what he...

ABRAMS:  All right.  I understand.  OK.

CARAFANO:  ... what he believes in, so that...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  The question remains, even if it’s not his fault that he was put in this position, even if the president or the administration did it, isn’t he now in the situation where the president has said, I’m waiting for Petraeus, I’m waiting for Petraeus, I’m waiting for Petraeus, and he makes it—whether it’s General Petraeus’s fault or not, the president makes it Petraeus’s war?

CARAFANO:  No, wait a second!

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  I want to let the colonel respond.

CARAFANO:  It is his war and—wait a second.  Military officers have been testifying before Congress on the implementation of policy since there’s been a Congress.  What Dave did is consistent with what four-star generals have been doing for 100-plus years.  They’re talking about implementing policy.  He is not making the decision to be in Iraq.  He was sent there to do a mission, and he is articulating how well he’s doing that mission.

BUCHANAN:  But Dan—Dan...

CARAFANO:  Now people are going to play politics because that’s their job...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Pat, real quick.

BUCHANAN:  The Democrats were waiting for Petraeus themselves.  He came up there.  We were all waiting for a tough, aggressive, good hearing, and then a lot of people on the left slimed the guy.  The Democrats on that committee got up there and paraded their angst.  What they ought to do, they made a stupid mistake, apologize for it, like 22 Democrats were willing to do today.

ABRAMS:  Joan, final word.

WALSH:  That’s ridiculous.  Bush made this political.  Petraeus, unfortunately, got stuck with it, and the Democrats who voted for it should be ashamed of themselves.

ABRAMS:  Pat Buchanan, Joan Walsh and Colonel Carafano, thanks a lot. 

Appreciate it.

CARAFANO:  Thank you.

BUCHANAN:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Up next: A Louisiana town that suddenly feels like it’s in a time warp—racially divided fights, protests, claims of racial injustice in the legal system, six black students charged with serious crimes after beating a white man.  Question.  Are the thousands of protesters saying the teens, now known as the “Jena 6,” should not have been charged at all?  One of the highest-profile of the protesters joins us.

And later: The Juice is loose.  O.J. Simpson’s traveling companion, and also known as his attorney, is with us.  How bad was that trip cross-country with O.J.?  Plus, we’ll look at O.J.’s girlfriend.  Why would anyone date O.J.?  We’ll try to figure this one out coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The black people are here!  (INAUDIBLE) white town, but the black people are here!  Free Mychal Bell now, not tomorrow!  Free Mychal Bell!  Free Mychal Bell!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Hard to believe it is 2007 as thousands rallied outside Mychal Bell’s jail cell in the once-quiet town of Jena, Louisiana, a town that’s been plagued with race-based fights since three nooses were found hanging from a tree.  Then months later, six black students charged, many say overcharged, for beating up a white student.  Here’s NBC’s Martin Savidge.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Good evening, Dan.  The demonstrations have come to an end.  There have been no reports of any problems.  There’s also been no official head count, but it’s safe to say there were a lot of people here.  And just about everybody who was here felt they were part of something much bigger than the problems of a small town.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice-over):  Even before the sun came up, the buses rolled in.  When the highways into town became clogged, people walked by the thousands...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What do we want?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Justice!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Justice!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Justice!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  When do we want it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  No~w!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No~w!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  No~w!

SAVIDGE:  ... and stood in front of the courthouse demanding justice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Free...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Free!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Free!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Free!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... Mychal Bell!

SAVIDGE:  The journey to Jena began 13 months ago, when white students at the local high school hung nooses from a shade tree after an African-American student asked to sit beneath it.  Over the next few months, there were verbal and finally physical confrontations.  In the end, six black students were charged with crimes, initially including attempted murder, but no whites, not even those who admitted hanging the nooses.

Seventeen-year-old Mychal Bell was the first to go to trial and found guilty.  Last week, his conviction was overturned, but the high school football star remains in jail.

Today, the Reverend Al Sharpton stood before the crowd with Bell’s parents at his side.

REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK:  We sit and stand in a city that says it’s a prank to hang a hangman’s noose but that it is attempted murder to have a fight!

SAVIDGE:  Those listening came from as far away as San Jose, Atlanta and Detroit.  Many, like this busload from Durham, North Carolina, traveled all night.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Something needs to be done about it, and so I feel like I want to do my part.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think that this Jena 6 movement is going to be the beginning of something bigger, you know?  I just want to be a part of it.

SAVIDGE:  The protesters marched through this predominantly white town, whose schools and businesses were closed after the mayor declared a state of emergency.  Jena resident Michelle Nail watched the protesters pass, calling the case overblown.

MICHELLE NAIL, JENA RESIDENT:  (INAUDIBLE) and the justice system because we’re living in the 21st century.  They’re not going to let people get railroaded.

SAVIDGE:  But marching in the street, protesters saw it differently.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  (INAUDIBLE) justice (INAUDIBLE) justice.

SAVIDGE:  She, like many here today, said they didn’t come to Jena because they wanted to, they came because they had to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What do we want?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Justice!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Justice!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Justice!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  When do we want it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Now!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Now!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Now!

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAVIDGE:  This afternoon, an appeals court ordered that a bond hearing must be held for Mychal Bell within the next 72 hours.  Dan, tonight there is a belief that that could happen as early as tomorrow.  Meanwhile, the question for many people here is, What happens tomorrow after the crowds are gone?  Protest organizers say they’ll be watching, and if need be, they’ll be back—Dan.

ABRAMS:  Thanks, Martin.

Joining us now, Reverend Jesse Jackson, who spoke out at the rally this afternoon, and former federal prosecutor DeMaurice Smith.  Thanks to both of you for coming on.  Appreciate it.

All right.  Reverend Jackson, let me start with you.  As a lawyer, let me ask you this question.  Is your position, and the position of many of those there, that these six students should not have been charged at all in connection with the beating of that white man?

REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION:  Well, may I at least put in context—this happened on December 4.  On December 1, there was a fight where a young black, Mr. Bailey (ph), was beaten.  He was not allowed to make a claim, so he could not.  Therefore, none of the whites were involved.  And that Saturday, when a shotgun was involved, when a young black was beaten, pursued the man with the shotgun and took away the shells and the gun, he was accused of stealing his weapon.  And so his right to make a claim was denied.

You fast-forward to Monday.  We do not know because the arresting officer never filed a charge, number one.  Number two, the public defender’s position was so weak, until (ph) he did not call one witness.  Number three, you have the case where these young men have not had a fair trial.  And the idea of $130,000 bond is just exorbitant.

ABRAMS:  Just so I understand, your basic problem is prosecutorial discretion has been totally misused here.  Basically, what you’re saying is that it sounds like—that there’s been a lot of racial tension in that community over the past few months, and it sounds like what you’re saying is that the prosecutor has only decided to move forward, in your view, against certain black students, but when it comes to the other way around, which is white violence on a black victim, that no one is prosecuted.

JACKSON:  Well, when the black kid was beaten and he was not allowed to make a claim, his civil rights were broken.  In the school, no gun and no knife was involved.  The young man was kicked or hit.  Should not have been.  The night he drove his car to the school, which shows the extent of the injury.  And yet somehow, it seems that to knowingly try a juvenile as an adult is child abuse.

ABRAMS:  All right.

JACKSON:  It’s prosecutorial misconduct.

ABRAMS:  Let me—let me play a piece of sound.  This is the district attorney from LaSalle Parish, Reed Walters, speaking about the case.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REED WALTERS, LASALLE PARISH DISTRICT ATTORNEY:  This case is not and never has been about race.  It is about finding justice for an innocent victim and holding people accountable for their actions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  DeMaurice Smith, former federal prosecutor, what do you make of how the authorities there have handled this particular case of these six students?

DEMAURICE SMITH, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  Well, Dan, I would back up a little bit further back and take a couple of the words that the prosecutor just mentioned, justice and holding people accountable.  And one of the things that could have happened—and again, I wasn’t there and I don’t know—but at a time when six nooses are hung in a public place—as a prosecutor, you’re the chief law enforcement agent in that parish, and the question has to be asked, Well, what actions do you take from a law enforcement standpoint in order to address that?  And maybe if you do address that in a strong and very forceful way, then what happens after that, or what did happen after that, possibly never occurred.

ABRAMS:  So again, it sounds like...

JACKSON:  Let me...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Let me just ask the question and I’ll let you respond, Reverend Jackson.  It sounds to me like the bottom line is that both of you are saying that there’s just a lot of distrust of this prosecutor.  Reverend Jackson?

JACKSON:  Well, hanging nooses or painting swastikas or burning crosses is a hate crime.  But the principal in this instance, he decided to suspend these young men who engaged in this criminal act, and the school board overrode that decision.  And now the principal has been removed.

And they call a hate crime a prank.  That was a very insulting thing for him to say.  And then the DA, who is also the lawyer for the school board, came to the school and said to an audience of black and white students, I can take this pen and determine your fate, an intimidating act by an adult, who then later, of course, put on these outlandish charges, charges of conspiracy to murder and aggravated assault, which was really beyond the pale.

ABRAMS:  DeMaurice, I mean, one of the problems for Mychal Bell—and a lot of those protests were occurring outside his jail cell—is he’s got a previous criminal record, two charges of battery, two charges of criminal damage to property.  Is that why he’s the one who’s still in jail, as opposed to the others?

SMITH:  Well, the factual circumstances of where he is, I mean, that’s just going to turn on exactly where he is as a juvenile offender and the assessment of the severity of the crime and his prior criminal record.  But a prosecutor has to make a determination in the context of everything that he or she knows and everything that’s occurred.

ABRAMS:  All right...

SMITH:  And I think what’s going on here is people believe, whether right or wrong, but people do believe that that didn’t happen.

ABRAMS:  Reverend Jackson, DeMaurice Smith...

JACKSON:  He should have been in juvenile court.

ABRAMS:  I got to wrap it up.

JACKSON:  To try a youth as an adult is child abuse and prosecutorial misconduct.

ABRAMS:  Reverend Jackson and DeMaurice Smith, thank you so much. 

Appreciate it.

Coming up: O.J. Simpson back home in Florida tonight.  His attorney and travel companion is with us to describe what it was like to go coast to coast with the Juice.

But first: President Bush accidentally kills off a world leader in front of the national media.  That’s next in “Beat the Press.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Time for tonight’s “Beat the Press, our daily look back at the absurd and sometimes amusing perils of live TV.  First up: I said last night that I admire Dan Rather and really like him personally but I think his new lawsuit against CBS is a mistake.  It seems that Dan Rather of 1996 might agree.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN RATHER, CBS NEWS:  In tonight’s “Eye on America, a look beyond the heat to try to shed some light on a growing national problem, Americans who -- some of them—will sue at the drop of a hat.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  That’s the problem with having been on TV as long as he has. 

It’s a long track record.

Next up: I’m a lawyer and take pride in the fact that we get the legal issues right on this program.  But sometimes we, too, make mistakes, like spelling.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER:  Dan Abrams with the very latest on O.J. Simpson’s arrest -

new charges, the shocking audio.  This time, could O.J. be found guilty?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Now, I don’t know if O.J. will be found guilty, but I am certain he won’t be found “gulity.”

Finally: Since this segment covers the absurd and amusing perils of live TV, here’s President Bush at a news conference today with some stunning information.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  I thought an interesting comment was made when somebody said to me—I heard somebody say, Now, where’s Mandela?  Well, Mandela’s dead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Nelson Mandela’s dead?  No, the former president of South Africa is very much alive.  President Bush went on to say, quote, “Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas,” referencing any Iraqi with the leadership and policy of reconciliation of Mandela displayed.  Tough to call what he really thought.  But then again, I would have guessed that some of the guests I see on “Larry King” were dead.

Up next: Defending O.J.  And how about traveling with O.J. cross-country?  Simpson’s attorney and travel partner, Yale Galanter, is with us.  Plus, we’ll look at why O.J.’s girlfriend chooses to stand by her man.  Who is she, and why would she date him?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, what kind of woman would actually date O.J.  Simpson?  We’ll look at the one he’s been dating for a while, standing by his side. 

But first, O.J. is back in his home state of Florida tonight.  He’ll return to Las Vegas next month for another court appearance, but not before he and his travel companion and lawyer Yale Galanter got to go on an excellent adventure across the country.  Joining me is Yale Galanter. 

Yale, good to see you.  Thanks for coming on the program.  Appreciate it. 

YALE GALANTER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  My pleasure, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  You know, you talked a lot about the legal issues.  You don’t want to get too in-depth about some of what your strategy is going to be, et cetera.  So, first, tell me, what was it like to go from that courthouse to the plane, fly cross-country, with sort of the world watching you, particularly on that flight, what was it like to fly with O.J. on that plane? 

GALANTER:  Dan, I have to tell you, this was the most surreal experience of my life.  First of all, I had no idea there would be media people that actually bought tickets next to me, next to him, behind him, behind me. 

The second thing was, I had no idea that they were going to use their video cameras, these small little handheld video cameras, on the plane.  I mean, every time I got up to go to the bathroom, get a Diet Coke, somebody was taking a picture of me. 

And it really made you feel very self-conscious, because I was so exhausted.  I had flown become and forth to Vegas four times in 72 hours, because I had other court obligations in Ft. Lauderdale.  And all I wanted to do was sleep.  And everybody was taking pictures of me and O.J.  It was beyond.  I thought we could get some peace and quiet, and there wasn’t a shot. 

ABRAMS:  Now, can you tell me—I mean, I know you can’t talk about specific legal conversations you’ve had with Simpson, but how does he feel about everything that’s happening here?  Can you give me a broad sense? 

GALANTER:  Well, I think he was as shocked as I was at the circus-like atmosphere.  You know, when he was released, there was a security plan that was in place that, you know, we had been working on throughout the day, and my feeling was let, you know, O.J. walk out, let all the media take their pictures, you know, do a slow walk.  You know, I understand that the media needs to get that shot.  I was thinking that when he got in the car, you know, we could get him back to the hotel, get to the airport, get home, and it wouldn’t be a problem, and then chase cars started following us. 

ABRAMS:  You should have asked me, Yale.  You should have called me, and you should have said, “Hey, Dan, what’s it going to be like when we go to the airport?”  I could have told you that there would be a lot of cars following you and that there would be members of the media on your plane. 

GALANTER:  But, Dan, I mean, how many pictures do you need to get? 

They had helicopters, chase cars...

ABRAMS:  I agree with you. 

GALANTER:  You know, they followed us into the hotel.  And the only reason we were at the hotel was to get his stuff.  That’s where he was arrested.  You know, the hotel made arrangements to get us to the airport, and then, at the airport, there are all these cops and cameras and security people. 

ABRAMS:  You would think...

GALANTER:  All we were looking to do was sleep. 

ABRAMS:  You think he would have learned his lesson about trying to go back and get his stuff.  All right... 

GALANTER:  You know, Dan, I agree with you.  It really was—it was the circus continuing all the way to McCarran. 

ABRAMS:  Speaking of the circus, this is you during your press conference with a guy next to you, and I want to show you the piece of sound, and then I want to ask you about it. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GALANTER:  We expect Mr. Simpson to be processed and released...

JAKE BYRD, PRANKSTER:  Yes!

GALANTER:  ... fairly quickly.  My only focus up to this point in time has been securing Mr. Simpson’s release...

BYRD:  Nice work, dude.  Up high!

GALANTER:  Thank you very much. 

BYRD:  Yes, right here.  Come on.  Don’t leave me hanging.

GALANTER:  Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  All right.  So, Yale, as it turns out, that guy was a professional prankster who was there, but did that make it kind of hard to keep going at that press conference? 

GALANTER:  Well, you know, when I walked out and I did the press conference, I recognized him, because I’m a fan of the “Jimmy Kimmel Show,” so I’m thinking to myself, “Oh, no, why me?”  And I tried to keep as straight a face as I could and not let him bother me.  And, you know, I thought it went fairly well.  The one time I really needed him to be quiet, I moved my hand to the left, and he was, because I was trying to make an important point.  And, you know, I thought it well.  It didn’t distract me at all. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let me ask you one substantive question about the case.  Alfred Beardsley, one of the guys who was allegedly one of the victims here, one of the memorabilia dealers, was arrested yesterday.  Does that impact the case? 

GALANTER:  Oh, of course it impacts the case.  He violated his probation or parole or whatever it was.  He wasn’t even supposed to leave California.  He’s there to do this setup.  You know, a tape was released by TMZ, and the first thing he says to his partner is, “Should we call one of the tabloid shows?  We’re going to get paid.”  And then they decide to call the police.  So, yes, it affects the case a lot. 

ABRAMS:  Is this going to trial, Yale, this case? 

GALANTER:  Well, it depends.  I mean, you know, there’s a lot to do between now and the preliminary hearing or the grand jury or whatever happens during the next few weeks.  But, you know, I can’t envision Mr.  Simpson agreeing to take a plea under this particular set of facts and circumstances. 

ABRAMS:  Yale Galanter, always a good sport, thanks a lot for coming on the program.  Appreciate it. 

GALANTER:  Thanks for having me, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  Now, let’s not forget, O.J. has a girlfriend.  It is hard to believe, but he does.  The question everyone really wants to know, who is the woman who would be comfortable being introduced as O.J.’s girlfriend?  Here’s NBC’s Kerry Sanders. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KERRY SANDERS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Christie Prody, the girlfriend, on her way into the courthouse, in the courtroom. 

CHRISTIE PRODY, GIRLFRIEND OF O.J. SIMPSON:  Everybody is fine. 

SANDERS (on screen):  Everybody is fine? 

(voice-over):  And with O.J. Simpson as they arrived in Ft.

Lauderdale. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Let us through, please.  Let us through.

SANDERS:  She’s 32 years old, a former cocktail waitress from St.  Anthony, a small Minnesota town.  The first thing people often say when they see Christie with O.J. is her resemblance to Simpson’s wife, murder victim Nicole Brown Simpson. 

Linda Townsend (ph) is a Prody family friend and recently spent time in Miami with Christie. 

LINDA TOWNSEND (ph), PRODY FAMILY FRIEND:  I consider her shy and very soft spoken and kind. 

SANDERS:  Those closest to Christie say she met O.J. outside his Brentwood home 12 years ago.  She as a 20-year-old tourist, he as the center of attention, they traded phone numbers that day.  Despite a 23-year-age difference, they began dating within a week. 

Her uncle in suburban Chicago says Christie was a shy girl in high school.  She went to college at the University of Minnesota, but dropped out and moved to California before finishing her senior year. 

STEVE BELLMORE, CHRISTINE PRODY’S UNCLE:  She’s probably got a bad rap because of the situation and the relationship she’s in. 

SANDERS:  Family members say she once seemed to enjoy the excitement and media that swirled around O.J.’s every move, but for the last few years she’s tired of that, spending more time at home with O.J. rather than out on the town. 

TOWNSEND:  You don’t see her on O.J.’s arm.  You didn’t see her in Vegas.  She’s a homebody, you know?  She’s the kind of girl that anybody would want as a daughter. 

SANDERS:  For the past seven years, they’ve lived together in this sprawling Miami home, a four-bedroom, $1.1 million spread in the Kendall neighborhood.  They live with O.J.’s children, 19-year-old son Justin, whose name is on the backyard basketball court, and 21-year-old Sydney, who’s now in college in Boston. 

Friends say O.J. and Christie have never been engaged, but they live as a married couple.  She cooks, is the head of the home, and has cared for the children. 

The O.J.-Christie relationship at times has been rocky.  In more than a half-dozen police reports, Miami-Dade detectives have investigated allegations of battery, burglary and domestic disputes.  O.J. called 911 during one of those incidents in 1999. 

O.J. SIMPSON, ACCUSED OF ARMED ROBBERY:  She’s been doing drugs for two days with (EXPLETIVE DELETED) who just got arrested for cocaine, and I’m trying to get her to leave her house to go into rehab right now.

SANDERS:  Despite those problems, family and friends say they fear some will judge her without knowing her. 

BELLMORE:  Christie is a good kid.  I mean, what does she have to gain from this?  She doesn’t look for the fame; she isn’t in the spotlight.  Obviously, there isn’t a lot of money there, I would assume.  She’s not married to the guy.  So, I mean, what is the motive?  I don’t know.  You tell me. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  I have no idea.  All right, that was NBC’s Kerry Sanders.  Kerry caught up with Christie Prody outside the house she shares with O.J.  in Kendall, Florida, today.  And no surprise, she’s still standing by her man. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE PRODY, GIRLFRIEND OF O.J. SIMPSON:  Everything is fine.  It’s a big mess.  I’ve known the man for 12 years, and there would be no reason for him to kidnap or try to rob things that (INAUDIBLE) stealing from him for the last 10 years. 

SANDERS:  OK. 

PRODY:  A big misunderstanding. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Up next, prison conjugal visits, something O.J. did not have, they are not exactly what you may think.  We’ll show you what really happens behind the closed doors. 

And later, a man almost chokes to death on an onion ring and says a car accident actually saved his life.  Will he be tonight’s big winner or loser?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  One of the best perks any prisoner can hope for:  a conjugal visit.  Fewer than 25 percent of the more than 6,000 inmates at California’s San Quentin ever get a chance to have a little lovin’ behind bars, well, at least with someone who’s not a fellow inmate.  Before we talk to a former San Quentin inmate and his wife who took part in conjugal visits, here’s a look at one of their visits, part of “Lockup: San Quentin, The Conjugal Visit.”

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A conjugal visit is where the immediate family—wife, mother, father, children—can come and spend basically 48 hours here at the institution.  We have condominiums available to these inmates.  They have to be a mainline inmate with a release date. 

JASON BURTON, FORMER SAN QUENTIN PRISON INMATE:  It’s like a little apartment room.  They have like a stove, refrigerator, and all that stuff, so your loved ones get to bring in your food, and you just get to be with your loved ones. 

RACHEL MILLER, JASON’S WIFE:  I can’t even explain to you how great it is.  I look forward to it.  He looks forward to it.  Put in a request the second we leave this visit, he’ll put in for the next one, so we make sure we get every one.  It’s just something to look forward to.  It’s the only time that we can have or that we’ve had together alone, you know, in years. 

BURTON:  To be able just to sleep next to your spouse is just—oh, it’s the greatest.  You know, just being able to put your arm over her, you know, talk, watch TV together, just being together for those—it’s not even really two days.  It’s just under.  But, man, it’s just—you forget for a second where you’re at. 

I got married in here, which was like—we were seeing each other outside, but we weren’t planning on getting married at the time.  I was down a couple years before we decided to get married, but she’s a trooper and she stuck with me. 

MILLER:  It means everything to us, and I’m just happy that this is going to be the last one, and then he gets to come home and I get to have this every day like it used to be. 

BURTON:  If I didn’t have these visits here with you, Rachel, if I didn’t have these visits, I don’t know if our whole marriage would have lasted this long. 

MILLER:  Don’t think, huh?

BURTON:  I don’t think so.  Just these two days...

MILLER:  Something to look forward to. 

BURTON:  Something to look forward.  Something to break up that...

MILLER:  To hold each other and to be able to catch up and talk about everything that we can’t talk about in a 15-minute phone call. 

BURTON:  A 15-minute phone call, you’ve got the guy interrupting, oh, your call is...

MILLER:  Oh, 120 seconds.  You have 60 seconds. 

BURTON:  Your call is being recorded.  It’s like, all right, that’s the third guy in the conversation, OK. 

MILLER:  So to catch up, to just be like how we were when we’re together, it’s like we were never apart. 

BURTON:  To a beautiful two-day vacation...

MILLER:  ... and 16 days left until you come home. 

BURTON:  That’s right. 

MILLER:  Cheers to that. 

BURTON:  Cheers.

MILLER:  I love you. 

BURTON:  I love you, too. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Joining us live now is Jason Burton, who’s just been released after serving four years for selling drugs.  And on the phone, Jason’s his wife, Rachel.  Thanks to both of you for coming on the program. 

All right, Jason, you know, you see there it seems very homey.  It seems like you get some time away from the authorities.  Are they monitoring you during these conjugal visits? 

BURTON:  No, actually they do their 4:00 count, which is standard throughout California.  There’s a 4:00 count.  And they drive by outside, and they honk, and you come out and wave, and let them know that you’re still there.  They need to see you, and they do that periodically through the night, kind of random hours, starting at like 12:00, and then maybe at 2:00, you know, 4:30, so on, like throughout the day. 

ABRAMS:  But, Rachel, while you were there you felt like it was just the two of you, meaning—you’re still in a prison.  Did you feel there was always someone always peeping through the bedroom window? 

MILLER:  No, not at all actually.  The only thing we had to worry about were the count times and coming by.  But other than that, no, not worried about anybody watching us or whatnot.  It was just him and I.  And that was it. 

ABRAMS:  And, Jason, when you go back into the prison, do people make jokes and stuff about what it was like to, you know, be with your loved one, but I don’t mean it in such a—I’m sure they don’t use those kinds of terms when you get back in. 

BURTON:  No, people are happy for you.  You know, because there’s a lot of negativity in there, so if someone comes back happy or is in a positive mood, that’s kind of a rare thing, and everyone gets lifted up a little bit.  So, I mean, there might be a little bit of jealousy, but for the most part it’s taken well by all the guys back at home. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Jason Burton, good luck moving on with your life. 

Rachel Burton, thanks for coming on the program.  Appreciate it. 

BURTON:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  “Lockup: San Quentin, The Conjugal Visit” airs tomorrow at 11:00 p.m. Eastern on MSNBC. 

Up next, will tonight’s big winner or loser of the day be Britney’s biggest fan, who’s now getting a crash course on being famous, a Judge Ito impersonator who crashed the party at a popular Web site, or a man who claims a car crash actually saved his life?  More on his amazing story in tonight’s “Winners and Losers.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It’s time for tonight’s “Winners and Losers” for this 20th day of September, 2007. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS (voice-over):  Our first winner, tough-talking, tear-shedding Britney Spears fan Chris Crocker. 

CHRIS CROCKER, BRITNEY SPEARS FAN:  Leave Britney alone, please!

ABRAMS:  The YouTube sensation who vigorously defended the pop star’s honor is reportedly cashing in on his newfound fame, inking a deal that would clear the way for his own TV show. 

CROCKER:  All you people want is more, more, more, more, more!  Leave her alone!

ABRAMS:  More than 8 million Web surfers clicked on Crocker’s rant. 

The production company that hired him calls him, quote, “a rebel.” 

CROCKER:  She’s a human!

ABRAMS:  Our first loser, tough-talking rebel president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran.  The leader of a country with a total of 8 million Web surfers has been denied access to New York’s Ground Zero by city officials.  The vigorous, often sensational defender of Iran’s right to nukes wanted to lay a wreath at the site during his visit to the city next week, a request flatly rejected by New York City cops, who say he’s just looking to cash in on a tasteless photo-op. 

The second winner, former O.J. Simpson Judge Lance Ito, well, actually, a guy who looks like former O.J. Simpson Judge Lance Ito.  He fooled the celebrity gossip Web site TMZ.com this week into interviewing him about O.J.’s new legal troubles. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh, he’s guilty. 

ABRAMS:  Turns out he’s just an Ito look-alike.  TMZ later apologized for the mix up, which they mistakenly sold with a juicy quote, “O.J.’s guilty as sin.”

The second loser, Sin City sports memorabilia dealer Alfred Beardsley.  The man allegedly held at gunpoint by O.J. and his crew now finds himself behind bars, arrested yesterday for violating his parole, but that’s not the juiciest part.  Police say when Beardsley came to the door, he was, well, in the buff. 

ALFRED BEARDSLEY, INVOLVED IN O.J. INCIDENT:  (INAUDIBLE) TV news.

ABRAMS:  But the big loser of the day, American cyclist Floyd Landis, stripped of his Tour de France title today after officials determined he was involved in an illegal doping ring.  Even worse for the disgrace rider, if he loses an appeal, he’ll be banned from the sport, forced to give up his wheels for two years. 

The big winner of the day, 43-year-old Brian Rocco who apparently owes his life to his steering wheel.  The New Jersey painter was driving his SUV when he started chowing down on some onion rings.  One of them got lodged in his throat, causing him to lose control of his car and crash into a tree, a bizarre accident that released his airbag and somehow popped the onion ring free. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  No, seriously, Brian Rocco actually credits that car accident with saving his life.  He sat down with our Philadelphia station WCAU. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN ROCCO, CAR ACCIDENT DISLODGED ONION RING FROM THROAT:  I was eating my lunch on the road. 

TED GREENBERG, WCAU CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Brian Rocco has always had a hunger for fast food, but until now...

ROCCO:  I was gasping for air.

GREENBERG:  ... he never thought he’d almost be killed by a Burger King onion ring. 

ROCCO:  I was coughing.  I tried to wash it down with soda; that didn’t work. 

GREENBERG:  It happened in Deerfield Township, while the painter from Vineland was driving back to his job. 

ROCCO:  I blacked out.  I must have passed out from choking on the onion ring. 

GREENBERG:  The SUV he was driving jumped the curve, slammed into a tree, and flipped over.  But when Brian came to, the onion ring was gone. 

ROCCO:  I guess, when the airbag came out, it must have dislodged it. 

It’s just amazing.  For once, you could say it was a good accident.

GREENBERG:  Brian was buckled up.  Now he’s a bit banged up. 

ROCCO:  I got a little bruise on my arm here. 

GREENBERG:  But otherwise is fine. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Something saved him, you know, angels, God, whatever you believe, something happened.  So I’m just thanking God he’s fine. 

NARRATOR:  So after all this, you may be wondering, has Brian Rocco lost that appetite he has for onion rings and other fast food?  Not a chance. 

ROCCO:  We work for burger king and McDonald’s a lot, so they give free food.  I eat it. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  That was Ted Greenberg reporting.  That’s all the time we have for tonight.  Stay tuned for the premiere of “Secrets and Lies.”

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

END   

Content and programming copyright 2007 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user’s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.’s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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