updated 1/8/2008 2:08:48 PM ET 2008-01-08T19:08:48

Guests: Shira Lazar, Ken Baker, Brian Russell, Monica Lindstrom, Julia Morrow

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Are some in the Washington, D.C. media bored with Hillary Clinton and suddenly enamored with Barack Obama so much so they‘re unfairly writing her epitaph already? And shouldn‘t more time be spent of which candidates have made outright false statements about issues even in the past few days?  There are been some doozies.  We‘ll show you our top five in less than five days since Iowa.  And speaking of doozies in the past few days, Dr. Phil going to visit Britney Spears to try to counsel here.  Maybe I should sprint over there to offer my legal services as well.

But first: Obama fever sweeping through New Hampshire.  Tonight, the latest polls showing Barack Obama‘s support surging since his victory in Iowa.  Obama now leading Hillary Clinton by an average in the polls of eight points, 37 to 29 percent.  But as Clinton vows a long fight, it‘s starting to feel as if many in the inside Washington media are spreading the fever, prematurely delivering Clinton‘s eulogy.  Despite impressive rallies in New Hampshire, they‘re suddenly savoring Obama‘s every word, celebrating every detail of his rallies, possibly creating a self-fulfilling prophesy, Barack Obama the Democratic nominee.  The “Washington Post” headline, quote, “The clock ticking as Clinton struggles to rewrite script.”  If you turn on any news channel today, you‘ll hear political analysts and insiders discussing the end of Clinton‘s run, if she might pull out of the race and when.  This is about a candidate who nationally at worst is running even with Obama.  That is not to detract from the success of the Obama campaign.  Winning Iowa was a big deal.  In this day and age it may mean more than ever before.  And now, an issue that held Obama back, the more of his quote, “Electability” may not be the same kind of concern.  Obama has run a really good campaign and Clinton has had some missteps.  But it sure feels like a close game being called in the third inning by some of the political establishment media possibly bored with the Clintons, in Hillary in particular.  It‘s just a more interesting story with Obama suddenly taking over the lead.  It seems to be wearing on Clinton who became emotional while campaigning in New Hampshire today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I have so many opportunities from this country.  I just don‘t want to see us fall backwards.  You know, this is very personal for me.  It‘s not just political.  It‘s not just public.  I see what‘s happening.  And we have to reverse it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  So, is this a premature eulogy?  Here to talk about it MSNBC political analyst, Pat Buchanan who won the New Hampshire primary.  He is there tonight.  Rachel Maddow from Air America Radio and editor of the “Huffington Post,” Roy Sekoff.  Thanks for all of you for coming on.  Appreciate it.  All right.  Rachel, am I being unfair to the Washington media?

RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA:  No.  And actually, it‘s interesting.  I‘m not a Clinton partisan.  If you had to put me in her camp or out of it, you put me out.  But in doing media appearances talking about politics, I have become somebody who praises Hillary Clinton if only because I feel like I‘m up against this scrum against her.  I feel as a person who‘s not inclined toward Hillary Clinton‘s politics I feel like somebody needs to defend her because it‘s such an onslaught of attacks on her.

ABRAMS:  Now, Pat, I know, you are going to tell me the Obama fever is real and I believe you on that.  And look, you‘re there on the ground, you‘re seeing it but I‘m also talking to the folks who are going to these Hillary Clinton campaigns and they‘re saying they‘re still getting big turnouts, there‘s still getting passionate people who were supporting Hillary.  And all you heard today was Obama is getting all the passion at the rallies and Hillary is finished.

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  You know, look, Dan, the media are always at your feet or at your throat.  Hillary Clinton has clearly slipped.  It does look like her career if she wishes to be president is in really mortal danger and there‘s a pile-on.  And it is ugly.  And it‘s unattractive to me.  And again, I‘m not a Hillary partisan.  But one of the worst things I like about politics is the piling on of somebody when they‘re slipping or when they‘re down.  And that‘s what you‘re seeing with Hillary Clinton tonight and you‘re seeing these people rushing and canonizing Barack Obama.  Let me tell you, Barack Obama may win this in the next five weeks.  And he‘s going to get tremendous momentum.  But then, they will turn around and rip him up, too.  It is unattractive and it‘s rather ugly.  I have seen it all my life that people are doing well and then, they‘re people aligned at your feet and all of the sudden they‘re your throat.

ABRAMS:  Look, I‘m very often the one defending the media on this stuff and I‘m not blaming all the media here, but Roy, if you turned on a television set today, if you read the headlines this morning, it sounds like Bill Clinton is right when he only moments ago described it as press hysteria.

ROY SEKOFF, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM:  I think trying to blame the media is like saying that the failure of new coke was because the guy who delivered it.  The bottom line is the product is not selling.  It‘s not the media who were just rejecting the message.

ABRAMS:  But when 70 percent of the public is getting their information on politics from television still, how can you separate out the idea that it‘s not selling from who‘s selling it or why it‘s not selling?

SEKOFF:  Hillary Clinton has had ample opportunity.  There‘s been over 20 debates.  She‘s had plenty of money.  She‘s put her ads out there.  It wasn‘t the media that on Saturday night at the debate made a rousing and passionate defense of not dreaming, of not being inspired.  That is not a message the American people want to hear.

ABRAMS:  That‘s why Obama has risen so much in the polls so quickly.  You‘re going to tell me it‘s because of one speech?

SEKOFF:  No.  No.  I‘m telling you it is the totality of it.  What it is - is Bill and Hillary went to Iowa and they got their message out.  And message was, hey, you remember us.  You know us.  And the people went, yeah, we do remember you and that‘s not what we want.  We want something different.  And that‘s why it‘s happening.

MADDOW:  Roy, I don‘t think that you are totally wrong here.  I

think if Hillary Clinton were cleaning up that would be obvious.  That‘s

clearly not happening.  But I was in New Hampshire this weekend.  I know

that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were turning out similar sized crowds

at a lot of their events.  And so, it‘s not patently obvious.  It‘s not a

factual -

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Pat, I just don‘t accept that it‘s purely message.  It would be great if our political system worked that way, it was all about what the message is.  But the bottom line is the messenger matters, A, and, B, it‘s also about trends, it‘s about who the latest person was and the bottom line is Barack Obama has suddenly become the darling of the media.

BUCHANAN:  Right.  You know, Dan, look, this is exactly what was

predicted when we said if he wins Iowa he will get this momentum.  What

that means is the press will all start moving to him in a giant herd.  And

that‘s what they‘re doing.  It is a herd moving, canonizing Obama and

Hillary is yesterday and they‘re all piling on and quite frankly -

ABRAMS:  Look, let me ask you this.

BUCHANAN:  Natural and predictable phenomena, but it‘s not attractive.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let me ask you this question, Rachel, I think part of it may be a disdain by the media of the Clinton staffers.  Meaning, if you talk to people who are there, they will tell you that the organizations that are most disrespectful to the press are often the Clinton staffers and the Giuliani staffers.  And lo and behold, Clinton and Giuliani are not doing so well these days in particular, in the media.

MADDOW:  That may be part of it.  That may be kind of the inside baseball part of it.  I think what we‘re also seeing too is a very obvious thing which is that it‘s very easy to tell the story of Hillary Clinton.  Whatever the story of the day is because Hillary is a very familiar character.  And that is something that people don‘t need to research about.  Telling Barack Obama‘s story is a new story that‘s harder to do and so, anytime there‘s something to say about Hillary Clinton, everybody does so it‘s heard.

ABRAMS:  Here‘s something that Bill Clinton, all right?  Today, he made a joke and suddenly this became to some a symbol of how panicked the Hillary Clinton campaign was.  Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT:  I can‘t make her younger, taller, male, there‘s lots of things I can‘t do, but if you want a president and you need one she would be by far the best.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  You know, Pat, all day, you heard people today talking about, oh, that shows the panic.  The Hillary Clinton campaign, it was a little joke that Bill Clinton is making that‘s being taken out of context.

BUCHANAN:  Exactly.  Well, look, what is happening here is, look, there is a pre-story that exists in the minds of reporters before the primaries it was - Hillary was invisible, the cool, calm customer.  And she never made a mistake.  It was a machine.  And all of a sudden, Barack Obama does exceedingly well in Iowa and the new story is Barack Obama is headed for the presidency.  It is historic.  It‘s world important.

ABRAMS:  Right.

BUCHANAN:  And we‘ll all jump on this and Hillary is yesterday and the Clintons are finished.  That‘s the story in their minds.  And so, you run around looking for evidence to prove the point and you can find it.  You can just pick out items to fill in the preconceived story.  And that‘s what‘s going on.

ABRAMS:  Go ahead, Roy.

BUCHANAN:  And it‘s there.  I mean, look, as a fact of the matter, it‘s a real problem for Mrs. Clinton.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Roy, go ahead.

SEKOFF:  Yes, Dan, it is a sexier story, but it‘s not - you‘re giving the media, I think, too much credit.  It‘s not the media that‘s going out there saying that if you don‘t elect me, we‘re going to have a terrorist attack.  That‘s Hillary Clinton.  I mean, you know, she‘s the one going out there and saying that it‘s not enough to be Martin Luther King.  You have to have Lyndon Johnson be the realist.  That‘s the problem.

ABRAMS:  No.  That is not the problem.  Look, that‘s a fair issue to debate and discuss is do you want someone who voices it the way Hillary Clinton does.  You don‘t.  Others might.  I‘m not convinced—are you going to tell me that suddenly, people are realizing, hey, there‘s a difference between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama?  Because you know what?  Neither of their positions have changed on anything, Roy, in the last week.

SEKOFF:  No, but of course, people pay a lot more attention.  I mean, that‘s what‘s happening now.  People are focusing more on it and they‘re paying more attention.  And I think Hillary is going all around trying to find the right message, find the right attack.  She‘s throwing everything at him.

ABRAMS:  Rachel, let‘s say Hillary gets trounced in New Hampshire and trounced in South Carolina.  Could she then change the story to the comeback kid?

MADDOW:  Sure.

ABRAMS:  And say, you know what, wait a sec, I‘ve totally change everything around.

MADDOW:  That‘s the only choice she has at this point.  She‘s no longer inevitable at that point, that‘s for sure.  She‘s going to have to run as the insurgent candidate.  And I think, we will see her try to really raise some more energy around the fact that she‘d be the first woman president.  And the way she has not been talking about on the campaign.

ABRAMS:  Ten seconds Pat.

BUCHANAN:  Look, I agree.  I think she‘s going to have to change the narrative if you will.  If she loses today or tomorrow and loses it down in South Carolina, she‘s got to change it back to her on the offensive, go on the attack, filling in the blanks from Obama.  And the press will say, hey, it‘s moving—the herd is moving in another direction.  We‘ve got to get behind them.

ABRAMS:  Quick predictions.  I‘m going to ask you by how many percentage points you think that Barack Obama is going to win New Hampshire.  Because, like everyone thinks, he‘s going to win.  How many points, do you think?

MADDOW:  Yes, four.

ABRAMS:  Pat?

BUCHANAN:  Ten.

ABRAMS:  Roy?

SEKOFF:  I give it a nine.  And that‘s very personal to me.

ABRAMS:  Yes, all right.  I‘m going to go with seven because I think it‘s going to be a little bit less than people are now speculating.  All right.  Roy Sekoff, thanks a lot for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

SEKOFF:  Thanks a lot, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Pat and Rachel are going to stick around.

Coming up next: The attacks flying in New Hampshire.  Shocker, they‘re not all true.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, ® PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I don‘t describe your plan as amnesty in my ad.  I don‘t call it amnesty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Except that is exactly what he did.  And Romney‘s not alone.  We‘ve got the five biggest misstatements just since Iowa up next.  And what not to wear political style, words of the Giuliani campaign.  If you are going to bust New Yorkers into Red Sox nation to campaign, tell them to leave the Yankees‘ gear at home.  Winners and Losers is coming up. 

And tonight, we‘ll start reading your e-mails.  Send them to

Abrams@MSNBC.com.  Tell us where we‘re doing right and I‘m sure more often where we‘re doing wrong.  Please sure do include your name, where you‘re writing from.  Back in the bit.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  A new study found 60 percent of people lie at least once during a ten-minute conversation.  Coming up: We reveal the top five, we‘ll call them misstatements by the ‘08 presidential candidates just since the Iowa caucuses.  The big five in less than five days.  Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We are back.  And we‘ve got the lawyers eye out for what was a surprising or maybe not surprising number of inaccurate statements from the presidential candidates just this weekend.  We also checked with Politifact.com and Factcheck.org and came up with our top five biggest misstatements for the leading candidates in less than five days since Iowa.

Coming in on number five: Senator John McCain has done a lot to go after pork spending in Washington.  On Sunday, he said he would eliminate wasteful spending.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, ® PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  And I‘m proud to tell you, Chris, in 24 years as a member of Congress I‘ve never asked for nor received a single earmark of pork barrel project for my state.  And I guarantee you I‘ll veto those bills, I‘ll ask for the line-item veto and I‘ll veto them and I‘ll make the authors of them famous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  The problem, not completely accurate.  McCain co-sponsored a bill which provided $10 millions to fund an academic center at the University of Arizona, honoring the late Supreme Court justice, William Rehnquist.  Pat, big deal?

BUCHANAN:  No.  Not that big of a deal.  It depends on whether McCain himself put the Rehnquist Center into the bill.  And when you get down to the bottom line, did he vote for the overall bill?  My guess is probably it‘s a giant bill and some things are in it.  The question was did he do it himself and I don‘t know the truth of that.

ABRAMS:  Number four: Senator Clinton‘s claim about the 2005 Energy Bill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON:  The energy bill that passed in 2005 was larded with all kinds of special interest breaks, giveaways to the oil companies.  Senator Obama voted for it.  I did not.  Because, I knew that it was going be an absolutely nightmare.  Now, we‘re all out on the campaign trail talking about taking the tax subsidies away from the oil companies, some of which were in that 2005 energy bill.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  The problem is at the very least misleading.  The Energy Policy Act of 2005 provided $2.6 billion in tax cuts for the oil and gas industry but raised oil and gas industry taxes by $2.9 billion resulting in a net tax increase on the industry of nearly $300 million over 11 years.  I mean, this one to me, Rachel, is substantive.  I mean, that‘s not, this is not a gotcha moment.

MADDOW:  This is a substantive thing.  The reason these things resonate politically is when they get at a deeper truth about something wrong with the candidate‘s message.  There‘s something wrong with their record.  In this case, pointing out that oil and gas companies get tax subsidies that we can‘t morally justify still stands at the end of this gaffe.  So, I think it floats the way McCain‘s does.

ABRAMS:  Number three: Biggest campaign statement for the weekend belongs to Governor Romney.  Senator McCain went after him for mischaracterizing his stand on immigration in one of his ads.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN:  It is not amnesty and for you to describe it as you do in the attack ads, my friend, you can spend your whole fortune on these attack ads but it still won‘t be true.

ROMNEY:  No.  I get a chance to respond to this.  I‘m sorry.  I‘m sorry.  I don‘t describe your plan as amnesty in my ad.  I don‘t call it amnesty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Oops, unfortunately for Romney that‘s just not true.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  John McCain has been one of those Republicans that have been wrong on tax cuts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Opposing tax cuts that would have helped our family, supporting amnesty for illegal immigrants taking jobs right for Americans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Pat, he has to sign off on every one of those ads, right?

BUCHANAN:  Sure.  And look, the McCain bill was amnesty.  McCain used the term himself.  Romney should have stoke by his guns and said he supported amnesty.

(INAUDIBLE)

ABRAMS:  Mayor Giuliani comes in at number two on our top five misstatements for the past five days.  Giuliani‘s numbers completely off base when discussing President Clinton‘s military cuts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, ® PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Bill Clinton cut the military drastically.  It was called a peace dividend, one of those nice sounding phrases, very devastating.  It was a 25, 30 percent cut in the military.  President Bush has never made up for that.  Our army had been at 725,000.  It‘s down to 500,000.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Well, President Clinton did follow up on some cuts that started under the first George Bush.  Giuliani exaggerated Clinton‘s cuts by nearly 40 percent.  But the number one candidate misstatements since the Iowa caucus, it‘s Mitt Romney again, doing some good old-fashioned flip-flopping.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY:  I do not support and never support a timed withdrawal. 

So, that‘s wrong, governor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Talking about Iraq.  Important issue.  He didn‘t remember saying this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The president has said flat out that he will veto anything that Congress passes about a time table for troop withdrawals.  As president would you do the same?

ROMNEY:  Of course, you have to work together to create time tables and milestones.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Pat, this one is the most important one of all of these to me because it‘s the fundamental question of what we do about Iraq.  And it does sound to me like Mitt Romney was trying to have it both ways.

BUCHANAN:  Well, let me agree with you here, Dan.  I mean, I have not seen those two together.  This is the most clearer one you‘ve got.  I mean, if Romney is for a withdrawal with timetables and I haven‘t seen that to be true but that would contradict his first statement as I‘ve just heard it.  So, I think, I mean, that‘s one that does call for an explanation by the governor.

ABRAMS:  I mean, this is a big deal.  We are talking about what his

philosophy -

BUCHANAN:  If that‘s the big deal, why are the other candidates not making a big deal about it and you are and suggests, Dan, MSNBC maybe is mistaken here.

ABRAMS:  Well, (INAUDIBLE) mistaken in the sound bites I just played you?  That we just invented them?

BUCHANAN:  Well, are they in context?  Because, look, let me say this, this is a big deal if he said look, I‘m against timetables for withdrawal and he says, yeah, I‘m for them.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  I could tell you what he would say, Rachel, he could say, well, I wasn‘t saying that we support necessarily timetables.  I‘m saying it‘s something we need to talk about.  And I‘ve never said that we need to have timetables.  But you know, look, you‘ve got to know what his positions his on timetables in Iraq.  But there was an outright dishonest comment or misstatement or a contradiction.  It‘s really important.

MADDOW:  Yes, he said that we need to talk about time tables; we need to talk about withdrawal.  We need to do it secretly.  But he did that before he decided to demonize those as Democratic abuse to surrender than when (INAUDIBLE) he couldn‘t go back and explain why he had previously had those ideas.

ABRAMS:  Rachel Maddow thanks very much.  Pat Buchanan, I‘ve got to wrap it up.

BUCHANAN:  Pushes for withdrawals.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Pat, I‘ve got to wrap up it.  Pat, you‘re doing great work out there.  We feel some real, thrilled and honored to have you on the team this time around.

BUCHANAN:  Thank you very much.

ABRAMS:  Coming up: Hillary may be down in the polls, but she‘s one of tonight‘s big winners just based on the endorsement she may have gotten.  I think it‘s fair to say there is no more important endorsement than this one.  It‘s in tonight‘s Political Winners and Losers.  And CNN‘s Lou Dobbs had a rough night last week during the network‘s coverage of the Iowa caucuses.  That‘s coming up in Beat the Press.

But what was Dr. Phil doing showing up to see the Britney Spears in the hospital?  Isn‘t that exactly the medical attention she does not want or need?  We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s time for tonight‘s Beat the Press.  Our daily look back at the absurd and sometimes amusing perils of live TV.  We run a little bit long on those political segments.  I‘ve only got time for one.

CNN resident blow hard, Lou Dobbs had a rough night last week during the network‘s coverage of the Iowa caucuses.  He reportedly had it out with CNN president, Jon Kline over his lack of air time.  Now, look, I‘m not our political guru, he‘s not theirs.  And that‘s why, it is also laughable that he continues to perpetuate the myth that he might actually run for president.  In the today‘s “Wall Street Journal,” Dobbs says he has not ruled out an independent bid for the White House saying quote, “I cannot say never.”

Well, I can.  I am ready to announce that if Dobbs throws his hat in the ring then I will launch my own candidacy simply to dilute his tiny constituency of disenchanted cable news bureaus.  If the public for someone who just voice his opinions on TV for a living, then, I believe I am more qualified and electable than Lou Dobbs.  Lou, you are on notice.

We need your help in Beating the Press.  If you see anything right, wrong, amusing or absurd go to our Web site Abrams.msnbc.com.  Leave us a tip in the box.  Please include the show and the time you saw the item.

Up next:  Dr. Phil rushed to Britney Spears‘ bedside this weekend after her meltdown that landed her in a psych ward under suicide watch.  She needs medical attention, not more attention from a non-medical doctor.  And a new book alleges that Suri Cruise might be the child of the Church of Scientology‘s founder L. Ron Hubbard, not Tom Cruise.  Shocker.  The church is threatening a big time lawsuit.  Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Up next, Dr. Phil rushing to Britney Spears‘ hospital room over to weekend after she had a mental meltdown.  What was he doing there to help her or help himself?  What is he really doing there?  First the latest news. 

(NEWS BREAK)

Coming up, a new book claims Tom Cruise is the number two person in the Church of Scientology.  And get this, the book even claims that Suri Cruise may not be Tom‘s child.  Not surprising, the church now firing up their legal teams, threatening to sue. 

Plus, Hillary Clinton is a winner on this program because of what could be the most important endorsement of all.  And some Rudy supporters going door to door in Red Sox country wearing Yankees hats and jackets.  Nice.  Those stories are coming up in tonight‘s “Winners and Losers.”

But first, TV shrink Dr. Phil rushed to Britney Spears‘ hospital bedside Saturday morning after Brit ended up in a psych ward under suicide watch following a four-hour standoff with police because she refused to follow a court order to give her two sons to her ex Kevin Federline.  Dr.  Phil insists his visit to Spears was the request of her family.  But if the first rule of medicine is to do no harm, it seems Dr. Phil‘s first rule is sell promotion. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. PHIL MCGRAW, PSYCHOLOGIST:  I want to set the record straight.  I went to see Britney at the request of her family.  I talked to Lynn.  I talked to Jamie.  I talked to Brian, her brother.  They were very frustrated that she apparently wasn‘t going to be held for a longer period of time. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Look, I like Dr. Phil but I fear this TV shrink ambushed a troubled young woman in the middle of a public meltdown.  Now, if Dr. Phil went to see Britney as a TV personality to interview her, I can understand that.  But imagine me rushing over to represent her as her an attorney in the latest custody battle. 

As a psychologist, he should even have a greater responsibility to make sure he doesn‘t make anything worse.  This is not the sort of medical attention she needs now. 

Ken Baker is editorial director for “UsMagazine.com,” joined by entertainment reporter Shira Lazar and psychologist Brian(ph) Russell.  All right, thanks all of you for coming on the program.  I appreciate it.  All right.  Shira, let‘s get the facts straight here, first.  Do we know anything more about when Dr. Phil came, how long he spent in the hospital, et cetera? 

SHIRA LAZAR, ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER:  Well, he came there when she was in the hospital on Friday obviously.  And he went and visited her on Saturday as she was leaving, got there right when she was leaving, when she was packing her stuff and then walked her to her car.  And then right after that - the problem wasn‘t actually visiting her although she was very surprised he came there.  Lynn and Jamie, her father, knew he was coming. 

But Britney did not -

ABRAMS:  Is that for sure? 

LAZAR:  The problem here was that -

ABRAMS:  Is that for sure that Britney -

LAZAR:  Immediately after that, he goes on “Entertainment Tonight” and “The Insider” and talks about it.  And that‘s the big problem we have here. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let me play a piece of sound from “The Insider” here. 

This is Dr. Phil - as to what he says happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

MCGRAW:  Thursday night, the phone rang and it was Lynn and she has a very close relationship with my wife Robin.  And clearly, she was very upset.  I was first contacted by her family over a year ago and have maintained a running dialogue with them throughout the last year. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Ken Baker, I want to read you some of what Dr. Phil is saying now, all right?  He says, “Because the Spears‘ situation is too intense at this time, and out of consideration to the family, I have made the decision not to move forward with the taping at this particular time.” 

He goes on to say, “It leaves me convinced more than ever she is in dire need of both medical and psychological intervention.”  It sounds to me like he is almost, almost conceding that, “You know what, maybe it wasn‘t such a good idea for me to go to there.” 

KEN BAKER, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, “USMAGAZINE.COM”:  Yes.  I think that Dr.  Phil is realizing Mitt Romney is not the only one suffering in the court of public opinion right now.  His poll numbers would be down very if indeed there was a poll on Dr. Phil today.  Because I think what happened was, like you said, if he was there personally to help her - to sort of be there for her as a therapist and to help her, that would be one thing.  But he was there to also book her on a show and to book that family on a show.  And that really came across as just inelegant at best and exploitive at worse.  And I think that he realized that and in the end he did the right thing, but that was after two days of publicity and with us talking about Dr. Phil on MSNBC. 

ABRAMS:  Brian Russell, look.  You know, even if Dr. Phil is the best doctor in terms of, you know, his psychological abilities and analysis, et cetera, he is the worst doctor for her to have at her bedside probably there because she is basically stalked 24 hours a day. 

BRIAN RUSSELL, PSYCHOLOGIST:  Right.  You know, Dan, he is probably on his way up to New Hampshire right now because Senator Clinton looked a little emo on TV this morning.  He needs to - he needs to either be this woman‘s therapist behind the scenes privately or he needs to exploit the story for ratings on his show.  It is one or the other. 

And the reason is because when you take on a professional role, you take on a professional responsibility to be looking out for your patient.  And none of us - I don‘t even have to ask the panel.  I‘m sure that none of us believe that it‘s in Britney Spears‘ best interest to have more of this play itself out in front of the world. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  And look, as you said and I said before, you can talk to someone behind the scenes.  You can have a conversation with them, you know, off the record when someone says, “What‘s the legal issue here?” 

RUSSELL:  Sure.

ABRAMS:  Britney Spears calls him up and says, “You know what?  I want to consult with you.  I want to talk to you about this,” and Dr. Phil offers her up some basic guidance.  But that is very different than what is happening here. 

RUSSELL:  Sure. 

ABRAMS:  And I think it is fair to say, Dr. Russell, that this could actually do some real damage. 

RUSSELL:  Well, yes.  I mean if the family calls you and says, “We can‘t get through to her.  Can you go out there and see if you can?”  Then you go in through a parking garage.  You do it incognito.  You make arrangements with the hospital in advance to keep it under wraps.  And when you leave, you certainly don‘t have a press release or a press conference or go on any shows about it. 

ABRAMS:  Shira, what is the latest with Britney?  She was on suicide watch for a while.  What‘s the status?

LAZAR:  Well, this weekend, she was seen right after leaving the hospital out and about in Santa Barbara and then in Palm Desert.  And she has been seen with her paparazzi man.  This is her new guy that she has been seen with.  We‘re not sure.  We‘re not really - they are not open about - fully open about the relationship.  But she hasn‘t been keeping a low profile with everything going on in her life.  The next thing she is going be in court January 14 and that will determine what‘s really going on with the custody issue. 

ABRAMS:  Ken, look, I have no problem with paparazzi in general.  But considering why Britney Spears is probably there, I would think that Dr.  Phil or Dr. Russell or Dr. Anybody could say, “You know what?  Maybe it is not such a good idea to be spending all your time with, dating, whatever it is, with a member of the paparazzi. 

BAKER:  Well, the good news is that Britney did return home to her place in Beverly Hills today just this afternoon, alone, OK?  So the paparazzi guy wasn‘t hanging around her or trying to set up photos or whatnot.  And I think that was a good sign. 

But let‘s break down this Dr. Phil thing.  The one silver lining in Dr. Phil coming and being at her bedside in that hospital at least someone was there.  Of course, it shouldn‘t have been a TV shrink, but someone was there trying to administer some help to her. But in the understatement of the week, Dr. Phil‘s conclusion she needs medical and psychological intervention?  I mean, come on.  What is more obvious than that?

ABRAMS:  But she‘s at a hospital.  The notion she can‘t get medical attention.  She is at a hospital and she has to call in Dr. Phil?  I don‘t get it. 

(CROSS TALK)

BAKER:  It can‘t get much worse, Dan.  I mean, seriously.

ABRAMS:  Honestly, I could see if she were somewhere out in the boonies and they said, “You know what?  We can‘t get any doctors to come out here.”  She is at a hospital and she is calling Dr. Phil.  No one‘s going to - you know what?

LAZAR:  That is definitely a problem. 

BAKER:  Everyone is waiting for her to hit rock bottom and she did.  And finally Phil shows up.  At least someone was there, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  I‘d fight through these Britney Spears stories.  But this one, Doctor - Shira Lazar, Brian Russell, thanks a lot.  Ken Baker is going to stay with us. 

LAZAR:  Thank you.

RUSSELL:  Thanks, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Up next, a new unauthorized biography about Tom Cruise that suggests he may not be the father of Suri Cruise and he is number two in the Church of Scientology.  Shocker.  A major lawsuit may be coming.  And note to the Giuliani campaign - if you are going to send your Yankees‘ loving staff to Red Sox‘ nation to campaign, tell them to pack their pinstripes.  “Winners and Losers” is coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Do you know, according to “Forbes” magazine, Tom Cruise is worth $67 million?  Coming up, he may be suing for more than that after a new unauthorized biography makes claims ranging from Suri Cruise possibly being the spawn of L. Ron Hubbard to Cruise being the number two man in the Scientology.  It‘s a book most publishers would not touch.  Coming up. 

ABRAMS:  Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes‘ daughter Suri may be the offspring of Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard?  That‘s one of the outrageous claims in an explosive new biography by controversial Andrew Morton who wrote a best-selling biography of Princess Diana. 

In a 350-page book scheduled for release next week, Morton writes Katie Holmes might have felt as if she were in the middle of a real-life version of the horror movie “Rosemary‘s Baby.”  Only in this case, he alleges, certain Scientology members believe Holmes was impregnated with frozen sperm from Hubbard, instead of the devil as in the movie. 

Morton also alleges Tom Cruise is the de facto number two of the leader of the Church of Scientology and that ex-wife Nicole Kidman was worried about being blackmailed and never seeing her kids again if she bad mouthed the church. 

Not surprisingly, Cruise and the Church of Scientology are talking about lawsuits against Andrew Morton and his publishers at St. Martin‘s Press.  But just for kicks, here is what KnockedUpBabyCreator.com suggests Suri Cruise would look like if she were the offspring of Hubbard versus the offspring of Tom Cruise.  It looks like she definitely bears a stronger resemblance to one daddy versus the other. 

Joining me now is former prosecutor Monica Lindstrom, defense attorney Julia Morrow and Ken Baker, editorial director of “UsMagazine.com.”  Let‘s talk about the legal issues here Monica.  Look, I mean, these are outrageous claims, but he‘s not stating them as fact.  I mean, he is saying that some people in Scientology believe that.  And if phrases it that way, he may be protected legally, right? 

MONICA LINDSTROM, FORMER PROSECUTOR:  Well, that could be the argument.  But libel is a suit that‘s brought when somebody is telling lies about somebody else.  And here, we‘re not just talking about any kind of lie or allegation.  We are going to really the hard of manhood, whether you can father a child or whether this child is yours or not. 

How could he not expect Tom cruise‘s camp not to go crazy with this one?  It‘s very insulting.

ABRAMS:  No question.

LINDSTROM:  You know, what‘s interesting - what is interesting about it is this lawsuit might backfire if Tom cruise files it and Morton might ask the court to require Tom Cruise to do a paternity test.  Because the only way you can beat libel really is by saying that it‘s the truth. 

ABRAMS:  Look, I think - I get you.  I don‘t think Tom Cruise will end up filing a lawsuit.  I think if someone files a lawsuit I think it is going to be the Church of Scientology for that reason. 

Let me read you some of the quotes.  This is what Bert Fields, Tom Cruise‘s lawyer, said, “Clearly the book is actionable.  I know we could win the lawsuit.”

And then, this is from Elliot Abelson, the Scientology chief counsel said, “It‘s just the lowest of the low.  It is demonstrably false, published with the reckless disregard for the truth.”

Julia, you know, those are the buzz words when it comes to suing for libel.  But again, I think that the problem here - I think there are two problems.  First of all, I guess they could make the argument that no one believed it any way.  I mean, some of the crazy tabloids have made arguments that is so ridiculous they didn‘t expect anyone to believe it.  That‘s not what Andrew Morton would claim in a case like this.  I guess he would say, “Look, the people I talked to thought this.  I didn‘t say it was true.  I‘m saying they thought it was true.” 

JULIA MORROW, DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  That is right, Dan.  And actually - I just lost my sound, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  You lost your what? 

MORROW:  I lost my sound. 

ABRAMS:  You know what?  Let‘s get you back to your sound and let me check in with Ken Baker.  Ken, do you have any sense of how seriously Tom Cruise is taking this? 

BAKER:  Well, I think that judging by his people coming out and attacking Andrew Morton, he is taking it very seriously.  And Tom Cruise has a record of really going after people who slander or libel him or defame him in any way. 

Back in 2001, he actually filed a claim against a gay porn actor who claimed that he was his lover.  Tom Cruise ended up winning a major settlement in the $10 million range for that.  And he has gone after other people.  And I think that it‘s very possible that even though he may or may not be able to win this, because he is a public figure, I think he very well may file a lawsuit because he‘s taking this very seriously. 

Now a lot of this stuff that you‘ve summarized, this is all kind of rehash of stuff I‘ve been hearing and any celebrity journalist who‘s covered him for a long time has been hearing this stuff.  But most of it is just unverified stuff that he put out there. 

ABRAMS:  But it‘s just crazy.  Look, you know, this is crazy talk about the idea of like L. Ron Hubbard, you know, was actually the father of Suri.  I mean, you know, first of all, the child looked exactly like Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. 

(CROSS TALK)

Putting that aside - But Julia, I mean, getting back to the legal issues here, it sounds like he‘s written it kind of carefully which is that he‘s saying, “Katie might have felt as if” and that Scientology members believed that, some did, that Holmes was impregnated and that could protect him legally. 

MORROW:  Dan, that‘s exactly what he‘s done.  And in fact, the standard here is actual malice.  Tom Cruise, Church of Scientology - each has to prove he either authored that book with either actual knowledge of falsity of information or reckless disregard for its truth.  And if his sources are Scientologist insiders, which they are, about the Hubbard impregnation theory, they are actually members Sea Org which is an elite group within the Church of Scientology, then he is covered.  The “Rosemary‘s Baby” comment, Dan, is really just his overly dramatic opinion. 

HAMMER:  My guess is, Ken, that Scientology is going to be more upset about the comments about Nicole Kidman and about Cruise being the number two in Scientology than on this stuff - this nonsense about L. Ron Hubbard. 

BAKER:  Well, I actually think that some of the Nicole Kidman stuff is a little bit closer to the truth, because Nicole Kidman was Catholic and was outspoken about it.  That was something that was of a sore point between she and Tom in the marriage.  But really, when you look at it, with Tom Cruise here, you know, he really has been taking a beating for being a Scientologist.  And I think that this just the latest in the series of beatings he‘s received. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  And look - they deny that everything - and everything in this book.  All right.  Monica Lindstrom, Julia Morrow and Ken Baker.  Thanks a lot. 

MORROW:  Thanks, Dan.

LINDSTROM:  Thanks.

BAKER:  Thanks.

ABRAMS:  Up next in “Winners and Losers,” a New Hampshire senator saves a journalist who had a problem with poultry.  Republican presidential candidate Duncan Hunter storms the set of “Morning Joe.”  And Hillary Clinton may have the only most important endorsement. 

A journalist saved from choking on chicken; a Republican who came out kicking; or Hillary hoping a word from above could be sticking.  Which will be tonight‘s big winner or loser?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Time for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers” for this 7th day of January, 2008.  Our bronze winner, New Hampshire Republican Senator John Sununu.  The politician turned paramedic on Friday, saving the life of a choking journalist.  Bloomberg News Executive Editor Al Hunt got a piece of chicken stuck in his throat Friday night at a New Hampshire restaurant.  Sununu, sitting next to him sprang into action popping up from the table and performing the Heimlich maneuver on Hunt, popping out the problematic poultry. 

Our silver winner, Republican presidential candidate Duncan Hunter.  Desperate for any media attention, the White House now doing whatever he can.  He even lurked in the shadows today during MSNBC‘s “Morning Joe,” then decided to make his move, literally storming the set. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Hey, guys.  How is it going? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE CO-HOST:  Good to see you. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE CO-HOST:  This reminds me of Eddie Fisher coming on “The Tonight Show,” walking in from the wing.

ABRAMS (voice over):  Hunter was upset about being excluded from the ABC and Fox News debates over the weekend, despite placing third in the almost irrelevant Wyoming caucus. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE CO-HOST:  This is how you get a gig on this show.  You walk on, right? 

ABRAMS:  But the big winner of the day?  Hillary Clinton.  Yes, we may be the only ones making her a winner today, but then did you know she may have locked up the ultimate presidential endorsement - from the Almighty?  How do we know?  From televangelist Pat Robertson, of course, who claims to be communicating with God about the upcoming election. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, HOST, “HANNITY AND COLMES”:  Who did you hear is the next president? 

PAT ROBERTSON, TELEVANGELIST:  I‘m not saying publicly. 

(CROSS TALK)

ROBERTSON:  I‘m hoping I missed it. 

HANNITY:  Well, let me ask this.  Are the initials H.C.?  My lips are sealed. 

ROBERTSON:  My lips are sealed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Our bronze loser, GOP presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, who may have people going door to door getting New Hampshire voters to dislike Giuliani.  The campaign bussed in hundreds of Rudy supporters from New York to go door to door in New Hampshire.  But apparently they forgot to issue a dress code.  The Rudy rooters reportedly ticked off local residents by donning New York Yankees hats and jackets in the heart of Red Sox nation. 

Our silver loser?  Democratic presidential candidate Mike Gravel.  It‘s not like he was a real contender up to this point.  But now he seems to have cemented his status as a mere campaign gadfly, advising New Hampshire high school students that it‘s safer to smoke pot than drink alcohol. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. SEN. MIKE GRAVEL (D-AK), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Alcohol is a heck of a lot worse than marijuana.  And I‘m sure lot of you have tripped out on alcohol.  It‘s a lot safer to do it on marijuana.  Marijuana is non-addictive and you should be able to buy it in package stores. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER:  But the big loser of the day?  Conservative columnist Robert Novak.  You would think that Washington insiders like Novak would have learned a lesson after Joe Biden was castigated for referring to Barack Obama as “clean and articulate.”  But alas, Novak turned up on C-SPAN taking his Obama compliment even further. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT NOVAK, CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST:  He isn‘t a stereotype African-American. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  OK.  We‘re debuting a new segment tonight, your chance to tell me what you love or hate about the show.  Our first letter, Alberta Montamaro(ph) in Wayne, New Jersey,. “As you get your bowels in an uproar on the recent CIA tape incident, do you think the average citizen gives a hoot?  It‘s the CIA.  What a surprise that they destroy stuff.  Let your guests who disagree with you have their say.”

Jane Schneider in Pauling, New York writes, “Thanks for being a strong voice in truth and accountability in government.  Look how much good your show has already done with your excellent series on the Department of Justice!  Congratulations on making such a huge difference so quickly.”

And Foster in Richmond, Virginia, “I hope you take a deep breath and maybe even a Valium before you go to bed at night to calm yourself down.”

We want your ideas on what our new E-mail segment should be called.  “Dan Mail” or “Is Dan Dumb?”  Something that gives you the chance to take me on every night.  Send us your ideas to Abrams@MSNBC.com.  If we pick your idea, you get some free MSNBC swag and my on-air appreciation.  That‘s all the time we have for tonight.  Stay tuned for “LOCK UP, RAW, CRIMINAL MINDS.”  Thanks for watching.  Don‘t forget MSNBC tomorrow night - the place for politics.

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

END   

Copy: 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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