updated 10/4/2007 12:25:31 PM ET 2007-10-04T16:25:31

Guests: Lars Larson, Grady Judd, Mablean Ephriam, Ted Koppel

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Poor Rush Limbaugh.  The big, bad, left-leaning world is out to smear him, to impugn his good name, to intentionally twist his comments to help the far left-wing forces in a liberal war to silence him.  Please.  Rather than just apologizing for his controversial comments, where it sure sounded like he was calling antiwar soldiers “phony soldiers,” or even just saying there was a misunderstanding and moving on, Rush has joined a chorus of right-wingers playing the blame game rather than owning up to their own mistakes.

Today, Rush spent three hours attacking everyone from Hillary Clinton to Harry Reid to General Wesley Clark to other vets who criticized him—anyone, anything to change the subject away from his own misstep.

My take.  No surprise here.  He is taking a page from the far right handbook.  Offense is your best defense.  Attack your attackers.  Never apologize.  Never admit weakness.  And don‘t let the facts get in the way.  If you look back at just the past couple of weeks, it seems Rush is in good company among his brethren on the radical right—from Fox‘s Bill O‘Reilly, who made, at the least, ignorant comments about African-American diners in Harlem, to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, accused of making inappropriate comments to an employee, and now Rush.  The key—portray yourself as the outraged victim of a liberal campaign.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST:  This is the anatomy of a smear.  Two words, “phony soldiers,” has led to a smear.  They know that the lunatic fringe despises me, so, get this false charge ginned up, this smear, and the lunatic fringe, who doesn‘t care about the truth anyway, jumps right on it.

JUDGE CLARENCE THOMAS, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE:  This is a circus.  It‘s a national disgrace.  And from my standpoint, as a black American, as far as I‘m concerned, it is a high tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Why did you use that language?  I mean, why a high tech lynching?

THOMAS:  If somebody just wantonly tries to destroy you, if somebody comes in and just drags you out of your house and just beats the hell out of you, what is it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What do you want people to think about those

allegations?  What is the important (ph) -

THOMAS:  I really, at this point, I think most well-meaning people understand it for what it was.  It was a weapon to destroy me.

BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS:  Every week day, we do three hours of commentary—two on the radio, one on TV.  And every day, the far-left smear website Media Matters takes that commentary out of context and feeds the defamation ) out to the public.”


ABRAMS:  It‘s all about the left-wing conspiracy to get them.

Joining us now, a man who may have the handbook, I don‘t know, conservative radio talk show host Lars Larson; Craig Crawford of the Congressional Quarterly, and MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan who may have had the handbook, but I think they may have taken it away from him now.

Lars, let me start with you.   I mean, it does seem that every time someone on the far right gets attacked, the first thing they do is attack, attack, attack, attack, and Rush is doing it here.

LARS LARSON, CONSERVATIVE RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  No.  I disagree with you, Dan.  I see the bias bleeding through in what you have said.  If Rush believes he‘s right, there‘s no reason to back down.  Maybe the reason the left always backs down is because they say ridiculous things and then realize they are ridiculous.  Rush stands by his words.  God bless him.

ABRAMS:  So it‘s just that the right, Pat, just always gets it right and the left just always gets it wrong.

LARSON:  Not always.

ABRAMS:  And that‘s why they‘ve got to apologize.


LARSON:  More often, more often.


BUCHANAN:  Let me just say look, look, Moveon.org put up their ad. 

They put $80,000 behind it, premeditated, said “General Betray Us.”

ABRAMS:  Wait, Pat, didn‘t they pay “New York Times” the difference? 

Because they were effectively saying -

BUCHANAN:  I don‘t care about that, but let me say this.  This is what I am talking about.


ABRAMS:  Go ahead.

BUCHANAN:  My point is -my point is—it was a premeditated assault upon the integrity and the patriotism of General Petraeus, and 30 Democratic senators got up and said we can‘t support that.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Look, that is -

BUCHANAN:  That was real.  It wasn‘t fabricated.

ABRAMS:  Wait, wait.  Whether it was real—whether the Senate should have signed on to that bill or not is a—signed on to that resolution or not is a separate issue here. 

I agree with you.  They shouldn‘t have signed on.  I don‘t think that there should be.  I don‘t think there should be this condemnation of Rush in the Congress.  There shouldn‘t be a condemnation of Moveon in the Congress.  But the bottom line is—Craig Crawford, that to me, reflects the problem here—is that the Democrats sign on to this condemnation of Moveon, and, yet, when it comes to the right, they will never, ever admit weakness.

CRAIG CRAWFORD, CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY:  Dan, I think that is what‘s happening here is they‘re trying to prove to their base that we can be tough, too.  We‘re going to take on Rush.  And the trouble with Rush‘s claim that he‘s been smeared - is the smear has to be false, -the accusations against you.  And when you really parse what he said and the timeline of what he said, there is an interpretation available, I guess, like the one he is asserting.  But it sort of undercut his argument that on his own website and the clips he showed, he cut out about a minute and a half between the “phony soldiers” comment and the reference to the one soldier who had been convicted for falsifying his records, which he says he was talking about when he said “phony soldiers.”


                BUCHANAN:  But Craig,

CRAWFORD:  But he, himself, edited that, so that it made it look more like that‘s what he was talking about.

BUCHANAN:  Nobody really believes Rush Limbaugh despises or loathes soldiers who fight in combat.

ABRAMS:  But that‘s not the point, that‘s not the point Pat.


BUCHANAN:  You guys are just going overboard on it.

CRAWFORD:  I‘m just trying to say what he said.  And what it seems like he meant.

ABRAMS:  Right.  Let‘s be clear.  No one on this program believes that Rush Limbaugh despises the soldiers.


ABRAMS:  No one.  Let‘s all agree on that, no one believes that.  The question is, when you say something you shouldn‘t say, is the response to then, blame everyone else?


ABRAMS:  It‘s everyone else‘s fault.

BUCHANAN:  If you are attacked for it, Dan, you fight back.  That‘s what you learn.


ABRAMS:  Here is Rush‘s version.  Hold on one second.

Here is Rush‘s version of an apology.


LIMBAUGH:  I want to apologize today to all of you in the United States military—active duty and retired—for this smear.  I am not apologizing for myself.  I‘m apologizing for Mediamatters.org, for Hillary Clinton, for Harry Reid.  I‘m apologizing for all of these groups who are undertaking efforts to demoralize you.  They will not apologize to you for their actions nor will they apologize to me.  But I want to apologize to you on their behalf for this storm having been created out of thin air, out of a total lie.


ABRAMS:  I feel so much better, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  Well, look, I mean, Rush‘s point is, in middle America, I think Rush has beaten the daylights out of these guys because nobody believes he has got an animus against these soldiers.  If it was anything, it was a simple foot fault, and he‘s only fighting back because he‘s under attack, which is what he ought to do.  He didn‘t do anything wrong.


CRAWFORD:  Fighting back is what will work in this case -

ABRAMS:  That‘s true.

LARSON:  Most likely, I mean, my gosh, Don Imus apologized, and the people he apologized to accepted his apology, and he was still off the air.


CRAWFORD:  That‘s ridiculous.

ABRAMS:  You brought up Don Imus and  I will get you back in there, Craig, I mean, Lars.  Let me just - let me play this.  This is John Kerry.  Remember, John Kerry had a similar type of misstep.  Here‘s how he dealt with it, and then he went on Imus to apologize.  Let‘s listen.


SENATOR JOHN KERRY, (D) MASSACHUSETTS:  If you make the most of it and you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well.  If you don‘t, you get stuck in Iraq.

Of course I‘m sorry about a botched joke.  Do you think I love botched jokes?  I mean, you know, it‘s pretty stupid.


ABRAMS:  So, Lars.

LARSON:  That‘s not a botched joke.  That‘s John Kerry, Senator Kerry.

ABRAMS:  -- your explanation for all of this would be that Bill O‘Reilly has been misinterpreted.

LARSON:  Not misinterpreted.

ABRAMS:  Rush Limbaugh is misinterpreted.

LARSON:  You were wrong when you said that Bill O‘Reilly had said something that was racist or inappropriate.

ABRAMS:  I didn‘t say racist.  What I said was ignorant.

LARSON:  You said - ignorant.  So you are saying that a restaurant in Harlem is the same as restaurants everywhere else in Manhattan?  What‘s ignorant about that?

ABRAMS:  Lars, that‘s not -

LARSON:  Why is that ignorant?

ABRAMS:  We can go back and play the quote of what he said.  What he said is he seemed stunned.  Stunned.


BUCHANAN:  So what, Dan?  Maybe he is untutored, but that‘s not evil.

ABRAMS:  That‘s right.  I agree.  I said ignorant.

LARSON:  Let‘s go back to John Kerry.  Senator Kerry basically said if you are stupid, you are in the military.  He was damning everybody in the military as stupid. 

ABRAMS:  This is why Lars is good at this, Craig.

LARSON:  Senator Kerry‘s excuse.

ABRAMS:  Lars is good at this.  He‘s good at changing the subject and he‘s good at talk radio.  And the problem is, and, Craig, you correct me if I am wrong, is it that the left just isn‘t as good at this?

CRAWFORD:  I think not.  And I think, you know, conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and O‘Reilly, they understand something I remember a law school professor of mine often saying, quoting Aaron Burr that the job of a lawyer was to boldly assert and plausibly maintain.  I think Rush is doing that, and probably, at least among his supporters, get away with it.  I mean, they are going to buy what he says.  That‘s why they call them ditto heads.


ABRAMS:  Here‘s what Rush said.  There was an ad that came out from Votevets that was very critical of Rush.  Rush went after them today, and the person that was the subject of that ad was just on Keith Olbermann‘s show responding.  Let‘s listen.


LIMBAUGH:  You know, this is such a blatant use of a valiant combat veteran, lying to him about what I said.  Then strapping those lies to his belt, sending him out via the media—in a TV ad, to walk into as many people as he can walk into.

STAFF SGT. BRIAN MCDOUGH, U.S. ARMY (RET.):  The reaction is disgust.  How someone can sit in that chair and say that I am a car bomber or, excuse me, a suicide bomber is disgusting.  I have seen the after-effects of a suicide bomb.  I have heard friends that were hurt in suicide bombs.  It makes me mad down to a place where I can‘t even think to describe.  It‘s just repugnant.


ABRAMS:  Lars, what about that one?

LARSON:  The bottom line is that when soldiers come back and damn the mission of the military, I believe they‘re violating the UCMJ.  If Rush wants to say they are “phony soldiers” because of that and he stands by his words, then take them as he says.


ABRAMS:  You know what, Lars, I would appreciate it if he would say that, then I would say all right, he is stating his opinion the way you just stated your opinion.  And I will live by that opinion.  That‘s your opinion, fine.  That‘s not what Rush is doing here, though.  Let me let Pat in.

BUCHANAN:  Let me tell you what he is doing Dan, let me tell you what he‘s doing, is he said this is a heroic soldier and I admire what he did and he is a hero and he is being used.  And if he believes what he has been told, then he is really mistaken, and he used a metaphor, you know, the so-called being sent out there, physically he hadn‘t been sent out there and any intelligent man knows it.


ABRAMS:  I have got to run.  Final word, Craig.

CRAWFORD:  The Democrats are sending a message they‘re not going to be swift boated again.  This is what is happening.


BUCHANAN:  Yes, they are.

ABRAMS:  Lars Larson, Craig Crawford and Pat Buchanan.  Thanks a lot. 

Appreciate it.

Still ahead: What does Ted Koppel think about Rush Limbaugh‘s controversial comments?  We‘ll talk to the legendary newsman about that and the time he spent reporting from inside a California prison for a new documentary.  Up next.

Plus: Stories of desperate people in desperate situations.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Then there was a hard bump, worst thing you ever felt.  And then the plane was like tumbling or something.  That‘s it, I‘m dead.


ABRAMS:  A couple lives through a hijacking, then that plane crash. 

How did they survive that?  Coming up.


ABRAMS:  In California today, the prisons are becoming so overcrowded that federal courts may now have to step in and order the release of certain inmates.  Legendary newsman Ted Koppel, who just last month added two more Emmys to his mantle, spent time among the general population of California‘s Solano State Prison for his latest documentary - “Koppel on Discovery: Breaking Point.”  Before we speak to him, a look at his visit to Solano State.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Every time you turn around, there is somebody is standing there.  You can‘t piss without somebody almost holding your hand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There is not one bit of privacy, not one lick of privacy, in here, none.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s dirty, it‘s filthy, it‘s unsanitary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m giving you a direct order, come out right now. 

Come here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The lights never go off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is nothing but a warehouse.


When people in California talk about warehousing prisoners, it‘s no longer simply a figure of speech.  They are talking about places like this.  H-dorm.

(on camera):  Here, for example, they are stacked three high in an open gym.  California‘s crime rate has fallen.  That‘s the good news.  But the system is overloaded and understaffed.  The prisons are failing and threatening to break down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Who you‘re running with?

KOPPEL (voice over):  First thing they check is affiliation.

UNIDENTIFIED PRISON GUARD:  Who do you run with?  Who do you run with?

KOPPEL:  Hispanics from Northern or Southern California.  Crips, Bloods; Aryan Nation They check affiliation not as you might think, to break the gangs up, but to keep the members together, to provide identity and protection to the inmates and a sense of order to the authorities.


ABRAMS:  Here now is veteran journalist and managing editor at the Discovery Channel, Ted Koppel.  Thanks a lot for taking the time to come on the program.  We appreciate it.


ABRAMS:  So, you say the prisons are failing.  Specifically, what do you mean by that?

KOPPEL:  When I say they are failing, what you just heard at the end there, when I first went and I realized that they had the gangs, I thought when they were trying to check gang affiliation, what they would be doing is trying to break the gangs up.  Quite the contrary.  They have so many inmates and so few correctional officers that they are deliberately keeping the gangs together—Hispanic gangs, black gangs, white gangs—so that it will provide a sense of order.  The California prisons were built to house a maximum, a maximum of 100,000 prisoners.  They now have 173,000.

ABRAMS:  Let me play another piece of sound from “Koppel on Discovery:

Breaking Point.”


KOPPEL (voice over):  Public frustration with violent crime began building in the 1980s.  By the early ‘90s, Proposition 184, what came to be known as California‘s Three Strikes Law was gaining support.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Put him in tag 2.  Put him in tag 4.  Put him in tag 5.

KOPPEL:  The idea was to get violent criminals off the streets and keep them off.  Tough, non-negotiable sentences. 

What bubbles up in California often spills over into the rest of the nation.  There are today four times as many Americans behind bars as there were 25 years ago.  America has more people in jail or prison than any other nation in the world.


ABRAMS:  Ted, do you think that the federal courts are now really going to step in and start releasing people as a result of this?

KOPPEL:  Well, they have already stepped in and warned the state of California that it has to do something.  Governor Schwarzenegger and the assembly responded by saying, fine, we are going to set aside $7.4 billion and we are going to build new prisons.”  But first of all, building new prisons takes time.  And the courts are not that patient.  The federal courts have indicated that by January, they want to have some more answers.  And if they don‘t have answers that they feel are viable and timely, they are going to start releasing prisoners.

ABRAMS:  Let me ask you, while I‘ve got you, a couple other topics of interest in the news, and one of them to me is that NIGHTLINE was really, when you started it in the early ‘80s, really the precursor to what has become cable news.  Are you ashamed of what your legacy has become in the cable news arena?

KOPPEL:  Well, I don‘t know.  I mean, I think when you say it was a precursor to what became cable news, it may have been a precursor to what the founders of cable news said cable news was going to be.  The idea with cable news, of course, was going to be a since you could be on the air 24 hours a day, that you would have an opportunity to go into complicated issues at far greater length and in far greater depth. 

The reality of it has been that cable news, to a very large extent, with the exception of programs like this, Dan, where you get a chance to talk about things at somewhat greater length, cable news has become a dreadful rush to be first with the obvious.  You know, what is deemed news is what is most recent, not necessarily what is most important.

ABRAMS:  And I think this would probably be the inappropriate follow-up question to that because you might argue that this question falls right into that category.  But in the last week, we have seen Rush Limbaugh going on the aggressive, on the attack about something that he was accused of saying.  Bill O‘Reilly do the same thing.  Clarence Thomas do the same thing.  Do you think that there is a difference in the way that the right and the left deal with being attacked?

KOPPEL:  Well, no.  I think they are both equally shameless about it right now and equally brainless about it.  I don‘t think that this really serves anybody‘s political purpose.  I think it just succeeds in muddying the issues and infuriating people on both sides of the aisle, and the fact that Congress is actually deliberating, you know, whether to pass a resolution of condemnation for something that Rush Limbaugh has said—Come on, guys, I mean, there really are more serious issues out there that they could be working on right now.  But that‘s become grist for the political mill.

ABRAMS:  Ted Koppel, a real honor to have you on the program.  Thank you very much.  Appreciate it.

KOPPEL:  My pleasure, thank you.

ABRAMS:  “Koppel on Discovery: Breaking Point” premiers Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on the Discovery Channel.

Coming up: New, never-before-seen-tapes of Princess Diana the night she died.  And, Fox‘s new business channel has a new team of anchors.  And from their head shots, to me they look less like business reporters and more like, well, Joey Lawrence.  That‘s next in Beat the Press.


ABRAMS: It‘s time for tonight‘s Beat the Press.  Our daily look back at the absurd and sometimes amusing perils of live TV.

First up: Bill O‘Reilly, once again pretending he‘s not interesting in the story, but then leading his show with that very story.  Last night‘s “I don‘t want to cover this story I‘m leading with, Britney Spears.”


BILL O‘REILLY, HOST:  I don‘t give a fig about what‘s her name, Britney Spears.  But, you got two babies here.


ABRAMS:  Just so I get this straight.  You don‘t care about her, you care about her kids.  Bill O‘Reilly will now be covering every custody battle in America.

Next up: Rick Sanchez tried something new last night on CNN, by taking viewer phone calls.  It did not work as planned - but it happens to all of us.  I‘m just glad it wasn‘t me.


RICK SANCHEZ:  Well, let‘s go to Pablo.  He‘s in California.  This is line 4.  I understand you are a machine worker.  You say what?

All right, my producers are telling me now, we are not going to go to Pablo; we are going to go to Maria instead.  And Maria is in California, she is a Mexican immigrant, now a citizen.  Maria, you say what?

All right.  Are we there?  Have we got Maria now?  Maria, are you on the line?


ABRAMS: It just kept going and going.  But congrats to Rick, he handled a tough situation very well. 

Finally, you would think that for its new business channel, Fox would want to show its new reporters and anchors that they know business and they mean business.  But when you look at the head shots of the new Fox team, it seems more about the biz than business news, and they all bear a striking resemblance to a ‘90s culture icon.  Here‘s Connell McShane, right back at you.

But that pose kind of looked familiar to me.  Sort of like Joey Lawrence.  Or this guy, Cody Willard, whoa, don‘t mess with Cody.  Again, pose kind of looks like Joey Lawrence.  Or how about this modeling move—grab the collar, how about that?  Right out of the Joey Lawrence handbook.  A network devoted to the memory of Joey‘s heyday.

We need your help beating the press.  If you see anything amusing, absurd or just right or wrong in the press, go to our website at Abrams.msnbc.com.  Leave us a tip in the box.  Please include the show and the time you saw the item.

Still ahead: A man trapped on a crane 220 feet above a raging inferno,

somehow survives.  How did he do it?  Plus -


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You are going to get what‘s coming to you, Lauren (ph).  I‘m here to tell you are going to get what‘s coming to you.


ABRAMS:  A nationwide manhunt is on for a convicted sex offender, who allegedly lured a 15-year-old girl away from her home over the Internet.  We‘ll hear from that girl‘s father.


ABRAMS:  Coming up, new videotape released today of Princess Diana on her last day alive.  It came out as part of a new investigation into her death with a British jury hearing evidence. 

But, first, a Boeing 767 loaded with passengers slams into the ocean off the coast of Africa.  Dozens of passengers survived the crash and the hijacking that led to it.  Their amazing story is part of a new MSNBC series that premieres tonight, five who cheated death along with five rescues.  Here now a look at how one American couple survived that crash and then a terrifying rescue operation in Atlanta where a man was rest rescued from a crane. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER (voice over):  November 1996, Franklin Huddle(ph) and his wife were en route to a photo safari vacation in Kenya.  They board Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961 for the final leg of their journey.  At the last minute, the airline upgrades them to business class seats, a small act of generosity, and one that would allow them to cheat death. 

FRANKLIN HUDDLE(ph), CRASH SURVIVOR:  We are just reaching cruising altitude.  I saw a guy moving quite briskly and then I saw the left side guy just moving, gliding down very quietly.  I said, “Uh-oh, this looks like some kind of coordinated hijacking. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER (voice over):  This is exactly what it is.  Three hijackers storm the cockpit and go on the intercom.  They say they have a bomb and aren‘t afraid to use it.  The passenger cabin fell eerily silent. 

HUDDLE(ph):  They told the pilot that they wanted him to fly to Australia.  And the pilot said “No, we don‘t carry enough fuel.”  He pointed to the fuel gauge repeatedly and tried to convince him that they were running out of fuel. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER (voice over):  The hijackers wouldn‘t listen.  After four hours of fear for the passengers, four hours with no word from the cockpit, the pilot clicks on the intercom and makes a chilling announcement. 

HUDDLE(ph):  The pilot came on and said,  “We have run out of fuel in one engine.  The hijackers won‘t let us land.  React against the hijackers.”  That‘s what he said.  What he was trying to do was get us to take action. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER (voice over):  The pilot‘s desperate words shattered the fragile calm in the passenger cabin.  But in the confusion, no one moves to overpower the hijackers.  Instead, there is sheer panic. 

HUDDLE(ph):  The plane broke into pandemonium. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER (voice over):  Some passengers frantically search for life jackets before bracing themselves for impact.  Others just prayed.  At that point, Huddle(ph) turns to his wife. 

HUDDLE(ph):  I made an effort to say “I love you, Dear.”  She sort of waved me off, “You don‘t have to give any of that stuff.  we are going to be OK. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER (voice over):  With the plane now completely out of fuel, the pilot tries to steer it toward the only land he can see, the tiny Comoros Island off the African coast. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER (voice over):  A tourist shoots this home video as the doomed aircraft carrying 175 terrified people smashes into the water at over 200 miles an hour. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER (voice over):  The plane first hit the water and it was quite gentle and I said wow! And breathed a sigh of relief this is going to be much better than I thought.  Then there was a hard bump, worst thing you ever felt.  And then the plane was like tumbling or something.  And I said, “That‘s it, I‘m dead.”

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER (voice over):  The incredible force of the crash sends the airliner cartwheeling over the wave before literally tearing the plane apart.  One-hundred and twenty-seven people, including the hijackers, perished.  Only 48 survived.  Among them, miraculously, the pilot, and Franklin Huddle.  Knocked unconscious on impact, he is thrown clear of the broken plane, strapped to his seat. 

HUDDLE(ph):  When I woke up in the water I said was “I‘m alive.”  And as I woke up in the water, one of the very first things I did, of course, was to look for my wife.  She was gone.  My heart sank.  I will tell you, that was the biggest moment of terror I can remember in the whole thing. 

Then I looked to the left, and she was bobbing in her seat, both of us were bobbing in the seat with seat belts still on floating just like sort of two lawn chairs floating in a pool.  And I said, “Are you all right?”  She said, “I‘m all right.”

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER (voice over):  Atlanta, Georgia, April 12, 1999, an old cotton mill erupts in smoke and flames, quickly becoming one of the fiercest fires in the city‘s history. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE NEWS ANCHOR:  Right now, this building began, obviously, totally out of control. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER (voice over):  More than 150 firefighters are on the scene trying to contain the blaze when they look up - way, way up, and see this. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE NEWS ANCHOR:  The crane operator standing there.  I think you can see him right there, leaning ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER (voice over):  That guy pacing nervously atop a steel crane is 49-year-old construction worker Iver Sims(ph).  Unbelievably, Sims is perched 25 stories above the ground, directly above the raging inferno.  Sims(ph) panics when he realizes help may not be able to reach him. 

IVER SIMS(ph), CONSTRUCTION WORKER:  I thought I was going to die after it got so hot.  And they made two passes to get me and they couldn‘t get to me on account of the heat. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER (voice over):  Sims(ph) had been trapped for nearly an hour when a more powerful chopper and experienced rescue pilot move in.  The rescue chopper will have to combat 150-foot flames, blinding smoke, and 40 mile-per-hour winds.  Fire fighter Matt Mosley(ph) is the man who will swoop down to reach Sims(ph). 

MATT MOSLEY, FIRE FIGHTER:  I pretty much knew if I could get my hands on the crane, I could get over to him.  It was just going up to the pilot to get me in there. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER (voice over):  Mosley is lowered from the helicopter, dangling at the end of a rescue line 220 feet off the ground. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE ANCHOR (voice over):  You would know his heart is pounding. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER (voice over):  As the crowd and thousands of TV viewers hold their breath, there is a collective sigh of relief when Mosley finally reaches Sims. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE ANCHOR (voice over):  Look at that, he grabbed the cable.  He grabbed the cable.  Oh, man. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER (voice over):  Before they are fastened in, Mosley tries a little humor on Sims. 

MOSLEY:  I said, “Listen, your boss sent me up here and said you can go in and knock off early today,” which I thought was pretty funny but he didn‘t laugh. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER (voice over):  Understandably Sims is not in a joking mood.  With the two men strapped safely into a harness, the helicopter pilot pulls out. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE ANCHOR (voice over):  That‘s great. 


ABRAMS:  Wow!  The new MSNBC series 5 begins at 10:00 p.m.  Eastern tonight with the five who cheated death, followed at 10:30 by five terrifying rescues. 

New tapes released show princess Diana‘s last day alive with her boyfriend Dodi Fayed.  It was shown to a British jury.  The images which had never been seen publicly before show dramatic pictures of Diana‘s last few hours.  ITN‘s Romilly Weeks has the story and the tapes. 


ROMILLY WEEKS, ITN NEWS (voice over):  It‘s the most detailed picture yet compiled of Diana and Dodi‘s final hours.  In this CCTV footage, much of which has never been seen before, they are shown entering the Ritz hotel and crossing the lobby followed by Dodi‘s bodyguard Trevor Rees who would be the sole survivor of the crash. 

In the lift, Diana looks relaxed and happy.  They had only met a month before but Mohammed Al Fayed alleges that here, Diana was pregnant and about to announce her engagement to Dodi. 

A short while later, Dodi leaves the hotel with his bodyguard.  All parties agree he was heading to a jeweler.  But there‘s dispute about whether he returned, having bought Diana an engagement ring as Al Fayed claims.  Just before 7:00 p.m., Diana enters the frame again.  The couple are going to Dodi‘s apartment and leave by the back door because by now, a crowd of paparazzi are gathered at the front. 

And in fact, when they return, their car is surrounded by photographers and the couple have to be protected by their body guards as they reenter the Ritz.  It‘s this moment that could be key to the tragedy that later unfolded.  Diana looks furious as she comes in, and the jury heard there is evidence that Dodi was angry about the chaotic scenes and that he allegedly came up with the plan to try to outwit the paparazzi, the plan that ultimately ended in the crash. 

Tomorrow, the jury will see more CCTV footage from inside the Ritz as Diana and Dodi leave on their final journey.  Of all the millions of images taken during Diana‘s life, these fuzzy images of her smiling must be among the most poignant.  Romilly Weeks, ITV News.


ABRAMS:  Coming up, we will hear from the father of a 15-year-old girl allegedly lured away from home by a convicted sex offender over the Internet.  She is now safe.  He‘s on the run.  And dad has some harsh words for the suspect. 

And, later, Britney Spears has two less responsibilities tonight as she reportedly heads back to rehab.  Her kids, a judge issues a new ruling tonight about them.  You can guess if she winds up the day‘s big winner or loser.


ABRAMS:  Did you know AMBER Alert stands for America‘s Missing Broadcast Emergency Response?  Up next, we hear from the father of a missing girl who had an AMBER Alert issued for her after she was allegedly lured away from home by a sex offender over the Internet.  She is safe tonight but the suspect is on the loose and, as you can imagine, dad is furious.


ABRAMS:  A nationwide manhunt is underway tonight for a 46-year-old convicted sex offender with a violent past, who allegedly used the Internet to lure a 15-year-old Florida girl away from home.  Earlier today, the girl‘s parents spoke out after their daughter was found alive 400 miles away from home.  They are relieved and, as you can imagine, furious, and ready for the suspect to be caught. 


FATHER OF THE MISSING GIRL:  I want everyone out there in America to think about this man that‘s done this to my baby.  He is still out there, folks.  Yeah, I got my baby back.  By george, it‘s great to have her back.  But this man is still out there.  If you have got children - we got to get him.  Don‘t stop looking for him until we do have him.  If it‘s tomorrow, if it‘s five years from now, let‘s get this man.  Let‘s put him away some way or another.  I don‘t care how we do it, but we have got to do it.  I want it done soon.  I really do.  I got to have this man off the street. 

Mr.  Mitchell, you are going to get what‘s coming to you.  I mean to tell you, you are going to get what‘s coming to you.  Sheriff Judd promised me we are going to get him, and we will.  If something happens to him horribly wrong between now and the time we get to wrap our fingers around his neck, thank you, Lord.  Seriously, save the taxpayers a bullet.  I don‘t know.  I want him off the street. 

If I could see him right now, it would be a blood fest brawl for all.  I‘m sorry.  I couldn‘t stop myself right now.  I don‘t think even the sheriff with his gun on him could stop me right now.  I don‘t think you would. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER:  What was it like when after a lot of worry you finally figured out she is okay, she is safe, she is alive? 

FATHER OF THE MISSING GIRL:  What did it feel like?  Go ask that guy who won the Mega ball lottery up north somewhere, all right?  I feel 10 times better than that, OK?  There is nothing - there is nothing that can make me feel better.  Absolutely nothing.  When someone asked me that the other day, how does it feel?  Better than winning the lottery, because I have. 

MOTHER OF THE MISSING GIRL:  We have our baby home.

FATHER OF THE MISSING GIRL:  We are the richest couple in the world, we truly are, all right.  Live a meager life but by george, we are rich right there where it counts. 

I would like to tell everyone out there, all the parents, watch your children, folks, OK?  My baby was in front of me on her computer.  I mean in front of me, not in her room.  It‘s centrally located.  It can be seen from the back porch of the house.  It can be seen from the kitchen, the dining room, the living room, OK? 

How it happened, god, I don‘t know how it happened.  But it did.  People, you all got to watch your children.  You have got to learn how to take care of a little better than what we think we know how. 

ABRAMS:  Wow! Joining me now Polk county sheriff Grady Judd who is searching for the suspect.  Thanks a lot, Sheriff, for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.  All right, let me take a step back here for a moment.  How is it that she was found? 

GRADY JUDD, SHERIFF, POLK COUNTY:  She was found when she was left in a Wal-Mart in De Funiak Springs, which is just south of the Alabama line, out west of Tallahassee.  He took her there, told her to buy some clothes because he wanted to change the way that she looked.  He said “I‘m going over to the CD‘s and I will be back in five or 10 minutes and you better not do anything to cause any attention to yourself or I‘ll kill you.”  In about five or 10 minutes, she went looking for him in the CD section as she was directed, and he was gone. 

ABRAMS:  So, is there - is the belief that the AMBER Alert may have scared him, that he may have said, you know what?  I need to drop her off, I need to get out of here? 

JUDD:  We absolutely don‘t know for sure.  But we know there was an AMBER Alert.  We know that all the news stations were carrying it live.  We also know that all the radio stations were carrying it.  We had detectives working on this case as if it were their own daughter that was missing.  Yes, there was a lot of pressure on him.  He wanted to get rid of her, so he took her to the Wal-Mart, in our estimation, to dump her off, and then to flee. And that‘s exactly what he did. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  So this is a guy with a rap sheet.  Arrested 14 times since 1981; August 2002, accused of raping the ex - his ex-girlfriend‘s 13-year-old daughter;  served four years for lewd and lascivious battery with a 12-to-15-year-old.  You know, of course, the question is going to be asked, sheriff, how was this guy out at all? 

JUDD:  You know, that‘s the second question that we all have.  We know it‘s not uncommon for predators to choose girlfriends who have children in the age that they like.  It‘s to give them access to the children.  This guy is very violent.  He‘s very Dangerous.  He has been charged with escape.  He has been charged with possession of bomb-making material.  He has committed robberies.  This is really a bad guy, and we need to find him.  And we will. 

ABRAMS:  There is the information.  There is the number.  Most important, sheriff, the girl is doing all right? 

JUDD:  She is.  She is doing exceptionally well.  The parents are doing good.  U.S. Marshall Service is helping us tonight.  And, together, federal, state, and local, will find him.  But the people that‘s watching your program can help a lot. 

ABRAMS:  Good luck, sheriff.  We have been putting up the information and the tip line again and again.  There it is.  800-226-TIPS.  If you have seen this guy, as the sheriff points out, he is going to get caught.  It‘s just a question - it‘s just a matter of when.  So call in if you‘ve got any information.  Sheriff, thanks.

Up next, will tonight‘s big winner or loser of the day, be billionaire Mark Cuban who needs, very badly, to change his dance moves; Harvard‘s hometown which will be getting more change in parking meters after nabbing a thief; or Britney spears who won‘t be changing diapers any time soon?  More on the judge‘s ruling tonight that will impact her and she did not even show up to court today.  Up next in tonight‘s “Winners and Losers.”



ABRAMS:  It‘s time for tonight‘s Winners and Losers for this third day of October, 2007. 


ABRAMS (voice over): Winner: billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban who survived to dance another day last night to make it to the next round of “Dancing with the Stars.”

His performance enough to save him from elimination, but he wasn‘t exactly showered with praise. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE JUDGE:  Your face was dancing twice as hard even has your body ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE JUDGE:  It was like watching a bull dog chasing a squirrel. 

ABRAMS:  He is the one who wanted to dance with the stars.


ABRAMS:  Loser, a stripper whose dance may land a Florida woman behind bars.  He was hired to strut his buff at a baby shower Saturday.  The problem, it was inside the chambers of the South Bay, Florida City Hall.


Sure they had permission to use the room for the shower, but officials had no idea that meant actually getting naked.  Sheriff‘s officials say they are now looking at the tape to see if any criminal charges can be filed.


ABRAMS:  Loser, embattled NFL quarterback Michael Vick, facing new state dogfighting charges while trying to clean up his ugly image.  And he is trying hard, even teaming up with the animal rights group PETA.  He has completed a class in animal sensitivity and may even star in a PSA for them about respecting dogs. 

Winner, male and female models some might consider to be dogs.  They are trying to become stars by using their bad looks to their advantage.  In a pairing perhaps more unlikely than Vick and PETA, a London modeling agency is looking for ugly only clients.  It is stars like Popeye and pierced Prince Albert have made the agency a success.  They are now launching a new branch in New York. 


ADAM SANDLER:  Some of us will never ever find true love.  Take, for instance, me.  And that lady with the sideburns and basically everybody at table 9. 


ABRAMS:  But the big winner of the day?  The city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, home of Harvard University.  Finally they nabbed the thief accused of stealing 123 parking meters.  Thomas Gannon(ph) allegedly uprooted the meters over the past year, stuffing them in the closet, in the living room, and under a blanket.  But time ran out on the meter reader who apparently chose lifting the meters over carrying loose change. 

The big loser of the day?  Britney Spears who seems unwilling to change, even for her kids.  She chose not to show up at a hearing today where just hours ago a judge ruled that at least for now, two children stay with her ex-husband, Kevin Federline, with Britney getting visitation rights. 


MARK VINCENT KAPLAN, KEVIN FEDERLINE‘S ATTORNEY:  As far as whether I won, whether Kevin is happy, all I will say is that we felt - Kevin and his counsel felt, that the orders were justified and he was pleased with the orders that are in place. 


ABRAMS:  Here now, Judge Mablean Ephriam, formerly of divorce court and long-time family law attorney.  Thanks a lot for coming back on the program.  Appreciate it.  All right.  So, are you surprised that Britney now loses physical custody at least until October 26th

JUDGE MABLEAN EPHRIAM, FMR HOST, “DIVORCE COURT”:  Not at all.  As I said on Monday, for a judge to have made the decision that he made on Monday, that Kevin didn‘t have to turn the children back over to her, until the hearing on Wednesday, I said then that he had sufficient facts to believe that the children‘s best interest dictated that they remain with Kevin.  And today‘s order simply proved that. 

ABRAMS:  She didn‘t show up to court.  Kevin did.  That‘s a mistake, isn‘t it?  When you are talking about trying to get custody of your kids? 

EPHRIAM:  I think it‘s a horrible mistake.  As her attorney, I would have advised her to be there.  Then again, we don‘t know what condition she was in.  Maybe it was in her best interest not to show up in court today. 

ABRAMS:  I guess.  Here‘s ...

EPHRIAM:  It may have been worse had she shown up. 

ABRAMS:  Oh, look, it‘s a good point.  It‘s a good point.  Here is the court order.  “Kevin Federline retains custody of the children.  Britney is granted some visitation rights.  There is a return hearing ordered for October the 26th.  It sounds like what the judge is saying is “Britney, get your stuff together and then we will revisit this issue.” 

EPHRIAM:  Well, with her not showing up, apparently, she didn‘t offer any defense on her behalf.  Facts indicate that she is going into rehab.  That said that I recognized that I have a problem and maybe the allegations of drug and/or alcohol use are true.  And so the court put the hearing over to October 26th to allow her to present some evidence. 

ABRAMS:  We should say her lawyer showed up.  She didn‘t show up.  This is from “OK Magazine,” all right.  “Britney‘s team has been working closely with her attorneys to figure out a way to get the babies back from Kevin.  She is surrendering herself to rehab for treatment of depression and alcohol.  So there‘s no questioning if she‘s drinking or missing any future tests. Then her lawyer‘s saying she‘s not going to be in any rehab in the next 48 hours, which does not address the ultimate issue.  Could that help her ultimately if she goes? 

EPHRIAM:  Ultimately it could, but I don‘t think it could help her by October 26th.  She has to do something more than rehab for a few weeks.  Rehab, as you know, has become a joke.  It‘s in and out, in and out.  You‘re in rehab today.  You‘re in rehab tomorrow.  You‘re okay.  And rehabilitation takes time.  It‘s not a two-week event.  It‘s not a three-week event.  So if she has problems with alcohol and drugs, it‘s going to take more than two to three weeks.  And I think the court would need to see evidence of changed behavior, not just the fact she went to rehab.  And he has to evaluate that over a period of time.  

ABRAMS:  Judge Mablean, good to see you again.  Thanks for coming back on the program.  Stay tuned now for the start of all that we showed you before, that all new series Five‘s amazing episodes  Coming up.



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