updated 3/12/2004 2:01:57 PM ET 2004-03-12T19:01:57

Guests: Eric Lemarque, Peter Grossman, Stephen Rodolf, Richard Mineards, Myrna BlythDEBORAH NORVILLE, HOST:  A former Olympian lost for a week in the freezing Sierra Nevada Mountains.  For the first time, he reveals his incredible story of survival and his unstoppable will to live. 



Lost in the wilderness with temperatures below freezing.  For seven days he fought starvation, frostbite and almost certain death. 


wasn‘t going to die and my dad told me don‘t make me put you in a box and bury you. 

ANNOUNCER:  Tonight, a prime time exclusive.  An incredible survivor, and the price he paid for coming out alive. 

A young American leaves Oklahoma with a plan to bring woman‘s rights to Iraq and pays with her life. 

PAUL BREMER, U.S. ADMINISTRATOR IN IRAQ:  It‘s a great tragedy, and our hearts go out to the relatives of those killed. 

ANNOUNCER:  You know about the secret tapes. 

DIANA, PRINCESS OF WALES:  I would hope my husband would go off.

ANNOUNCER:  But did do you know about the secret video?

DIANA:  Peter, I can‘t do this. 

ANNOUNCER:  Tonight, the side of Princess Diana we‘ve never seen before and her desperate attempt to break free from the House of Windsor. 

DIANA:  Instead, I can‘t get out.

ANNOUNCER:  This magazine editor used to tell women how to think.  Now she is telling them, don‘t trust women‘s magazines. 

DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT.  From Studio 3-K in Rockefeller Center, Deborah Norville. 

NORVILLE:  And good evening.

Tonight, a remarkable story of courage, survival and unfailing hope.  For the first time we‘re going to hear from 34-year-old Eric Lemarque, a former member of France‘s hockey Olympic team. 

While he was snowboarding in early February in California‘s snow-covered Sierra Nevada Mountains, he strayed off course, lost his bearings and incredibly survived sub-freezing conditions for a week. 

He did it by making makeshift igloos, eating pine nuts and tree bark and holding on with an amazing determination to live. 

Eric was found and rescued on, of all days, Friday the 13th.  And since then, both of his legs have been amputated just below the knees because of frostbite. 

Tonight, we will finally his story.  Eric Lemarque and his doctor, Peter Grossman join me for this exclusive prime time interview.

LEMARQUE:  Well, just recently, you know, the last few days and few nights, as the more I tell the story, it seems so it‘s—just seems so surreal.  While I was out there it just seemed more of an adventure of survival, that I‘d placed myself into a situation where I had to get myself out of. 

NORVILLE:  And how did you get in this situation?  You‘d been boarding with some friends and I guess had taken one more run for the afternoon and something went awry?

LEMARQUE:  Yes, I went to the top of the mountain, obviously wanted to get the longest run possible.  And I hiked to a section that was in bounds.  I actually wanted to correct that, because marked in some of the articles it said that I hiked out of bounds on purpose and that wasn‘t the case. 

Actually, I was in bounds and went down an area of the run that kind of turned me to a flat section.  And as I walked, trying to find and make my way back to, you know, a down slope where I can continue down to the rest of the trail, I found myself walking myself outside of bounds and to the back of the mountain. 

NORVILLE:  And when did you realize that you‘d gotten out of bounds and that there was no way to board back down to the ski area?

LEMARQUE:  Well, it was pretty much, you know, it started to be dark.  I wanted to light a fire.  I had some matches, but they were saturated due to the blizzard, the storm that we had that week. 

I was out there, you know, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and we had snow each day.  So you know, my gear was pretty much soaking wet.  And you know, unfortunately some of the water seeped into the bag that I had these matches for back up, and I was not successful in lighting a fire. 

So the next day, when I woke up, I pretty much made my way down to an area where it was all burnt out.  There were burnt out trees.  Fortunately, I had a full moon, so I was able to see the back of Mammoth, so I knew where I was.  And that was probably the biggest mistake I made was that second day, is that I didn‘t hike to Mammoth. 

I chose to go down the—to a resort or to an area to where I thought I was and in fact I was going the wrong way.

NORVILLE:  You had next to nothing in your pockets.  Your matches were wet from having boarded all week and getting saturated.  You had three or four pieces of bubble gum.  You had your MP3 player and a cell phone that didn‘t work. 

What were you—When you‘re out there in the wilderness, wishing you had stuck in your pockets before you took that final run that day?

LEMARQUE:  I would say the essential would be a line of communication, a two-way radio.  Something that somebody you can broadcast to. 

I would say something else that would be very effective would be a strobe light of some sort or a homing device.  They make tracking devices for avalanche victims or people who do go out into the snow. 

But you know, there are so many things, from a lighter to extra food to the sternos that you find when you go to buffet.  They‘re basically a couple bucks but it‘s enough heat that you can light and a long enough flame that would stay lit that I would have been able to keep myself warm and probably had a better chance ever saving my legs. 

NORVILLE:  And the reason those things were so important was because no one new you were missing.  It was five days until your parents realized, wait a second, no one‘s heard from Eric.  How did that happen, that they suddenly realized, “Wait, our son‘s been out of touch.  Let‘s go investigate”?

LEMARQUE:  Yes, that‘s, you know, I talk to my parents pretty much daily, and that was probably the thing that was the hardest for me, because I knew that my mom was waiting for a call from me.  And it just really saddened me to know that she was out there, and I was calling to her and was unable to reach her and let her know that I was OK. 

NORVILLE:  That‘s what kept you going, too, though, isn‘t it?  Your mom and dad?

LEMARQUE:  Absolutely.  I wasn‘t going to die, and my dad told me, you know, never die—you know, don‘t make me put you in a box and bury you. 

So I basically told myself, you know, help yourself get going and the inspiration from my girlfriend as well is do it for yourself and get yourself motivated and just, you know, never give up.  That just was a drive. 

But I just, every night when I laid down to go to sleep, I you know, prayed and extended my love out to my parents and in hopes that they would hear me. 

NORVILLE:  As we noted at the beginning, you‘ve lost both of your feet because of the severe frostbite that you suffered.  When did the frostbite set in?

LEMARQUE:  It was pretty much the first day.  I did a lot of hiking the first day in trying to find my bearings.  And you know, the second day that I was out there, I did take my—most of my gear off and I tried to dry all my stuff.  And my feet were just purple and black, and I knew that there was a major problem.  So I was trying to pull them into myself and pull them into my pants and just try to make them as warm as possible.  So it was fairly early. 

LEMARQUE:  Pretty much that Burton snowboard saved my life.  You know, I was able to chop.  I was able to probe.  I was able to use it to dig.  I was able to use it to hike.  I was able to use it to sheer down trees, to shave down things.  And also use it as a shelter where I was able to.

On one knee at times, when I wouldn‘t walk and felt very tired, I used it to kind of shimmy and glide and slide down sections.  And you know, there were times where I got so tired where I wouldn‘t even walk, you know, pounding my legs in and out of snow and being that can it was so deep that I would just, you know, go and just kick it like a scooter with one leg and just continue on my board.  So it was an essential part to my survival, for sure. 

NORVILLE:  You were out there a full week.  And on Friday the 13th, ironically enough, you heard the buzzing of the air helicopter rescue team above you. 

Do you remember the thought that flashed through your mind as you heard and then saw them above?

LEMARQUE:  It was that I saw my parents and I was going to be reunited with them. 

NORVILLE:  You must have just been a wave of joy that came through your body. 

LEMARQUE:  It—I felt like William Dafoe in “Platoon” as he looked at his arms in joy after, you know, surviving this holocaust.  Though it wasn‘t a Holocaust that I survived it, it seems like quite an ordeal now. 

NORVILLE:  We, as you know, spoke a couple of days after your rescue with three of the four men who were in that chopper.  And they were pretty excited about having not done a recovery but done a rescue operation, and this is what they had to say. 


NORVILLE:  You were actually the one that was on the hoist that was lowered down to the ground so you reached Eric first.  What did he say when you picked him up and gathered him out of the snow? 

STAFF SGT. AL SMOOT, CALIFORNIA AIR NATIONAL GUARD:  “Thank God you guys are here.”  And the next thing he said was, “I‘m really cold, and I wish I was in a hot tub.  I just want to get back to a hot tub.” 

SMOOT:  Well, his mental status wasn‘t terribly bad, but the more I talked to him and found out how confused he was, I was concerned.  He was pretty hypothermic at that point. 


NORVILLE:  I asked them to come down with their helicopter and visit you.  Did they get a chance to pop in and say hello?

LEMARQUE:  I don‘t know, I thought—it looked like they had a pretty fast set of wheels over there, and I haven‘t yet—I haven‘t yet—I have yet to see them. 

But I plan on putting a call in to all of them and thanking them individually, because when I saw that helicopter, it was a miracle.  And I kind of hid in all the snow and wind that was a blowing around, to try to protect myself and due to the fact that I was already so cold. 

But what ended up happening is that the helicopter flew away, and I was like, no, no, no, please don‘t go.  And sure enough, then one of the patrolmen actually came down.  I saw him hiking down with some snowshoes.  So...

NORVILLE:  That was a pretty joyful moment.

LEMARQUE:  ... things were all right after that.

NORVILLE:  Also there was...

LEMARQUE:  Absolutely. 

NORVILLE:  Also there with you at the hospital is Dr. Peter Grossman.  He‘s the associate medical director at the Grossman Burn Center there in Sherman Oaks.

Dr. Grossman, I‘m sure that telling anyone that they‘re going to lose a part of their body is a difficult thing, but telling someone as athletic who‘s had such an incredible career as Eric, it must have been even more difficult for you?


SHERMAN OAKS HOSPITAL:  It really was, Deborah, to tell a young guy that you‘re going to have to lose both your legs below the knee is a terrible thing to have to say. 

And then to compound that with a fact that this is a young man who makes his living with his athletic prowess was a very difficult emotional pill for me to have to swallow. 

But Eric‘s a remarkable young man and he has got such determination and such will to overcome that he has shown me a remarkable amount of courage and a remarkable amount of drive.  And he‘s going to do well. 

GROSSMAN:  Eric‘s casts are going to come off today, and Dr. Kahn (ph), his orthopedic surgeon, is going to take a look at them and make sure that the legs are doing OK, and hopefully we‘ll begin the process of rehabilitation.  Get him ready to go on, get ready to go home and eventually get him walking again. 

NORVILLE:  And he‘ll be able to skate?  He‘ll be able to board?  And how—is the sky the limit now, with prosthetics being what they are and having an incredibly driven young man looking ahead to a future?

GROSSMAN:  I think you really hit it there, Deborah.  That between technology today and having a young man like Eric who‘s so driven and so talented in many ways, he‘s—he has, really, no limitations. 

And he, in my opinion will certainly be out there skating and snowboarding and really doing whatever he wants. 

NORVILLE:  Eric, I know in one wire story that I read about you, you said that you were—you were a very rich man, that you were a better person for this experience.  Explain that. 

LEMARQUE:  Well, things, I feel happen for a reason and right now, I can say that I‘m the happiest man that I‘ve ever been.  I feel like I have a totalness.  I feel like I have a sense and a purpose and an ability to touch so much people, whether it be by inspiration or by a new direction that I take in my life now. 

NORVILLE:  That‘s a beautiful thought. 

LEMARQUE:  Thank you. 

NORVILLE:  Do you realize that two days after they rescued you, it started snowing, and didn‘t stop until 111 inches of snow had fallen?

LEMARQUE:  You know, it was with God and all his angels watching over me.  It‘s been an attribute to that, along with, you know, my continued beliefs in an understanding of—in a sense that I really was very fortunate and that I was saved out there. 

NORVILLE:  It‘s an incredible story.  Dr. Peter Grossman, Eric Lemarque, thank you so much.  Best wishes to you both. 

LEMARQUE:  Thank you, Deborah.

GROSSMAN:  Thank you. 


ANNOUNCER:  Coming up, Princess Diana‘s secret home videos. 

DIANA:  If I‘m able to go into a situation which makes others more aware of their desperation...

ANNOUNCER:  Tonight for the first time, you‘ll hear and see Diana‘s struggle for independence. 

DIANA:  And help the plight of others.

ANNOUNCER:  But next, this woman wanted to help the people of Iraq start a new and better life.  Instead, she was murdered there.  Her story when we return. 


NORVILLE:  As we approach the one-year anniversary since the war in Iraq began, the bloodshed has now expanded beyond American soldiers embroiled in combat.

Tonight the story of a 33-year-old American woman in Iraq trying to help the women of that country.  She has ended up paying with her life. 

Fern Holland grew up in Oklahoma.  She became an attorney and later joined the Peace Corps.  After that, she went to Iraq to help the United States-led interim government. 

She opened women‘s centers and even helped to write the women‘s rights section of the new interim Iraqi constitution.  But on Tuesday, at a checkpoint near the town of Hillah, Fern Holland, another American civilian and their Iraqi translator were killed by gunmen posed as Iraqi police. 

They are the first U.S. civilians working for the U.S. occupation authority to be killed in Iraq.

U.S. administer in Iraq Paul Bremer is now asking the FBI to investigate the murders. 


BREMER:  It‘s a great tragedy and our hearts go out to the relatives of those killed.  And I won‘t go into any other details at this point.


NORVILLE:  Fern Holland‘s family says she was targeted because of her work with Iraqi women. 

Joining me now from Tulsa, Oklahoma is one of her close friends of Fern‘s, Stephen Rodolf. 

Stephen, thank you so much for being with us.  I‘m so sorry about your friend‘s loss. 


NORVILLE:  What all have you heard about the highlights that I just mentioned of what happened to Fern and her companion on Tuesday?

RODOLF:  Well, we don‘t know anything than what‘s been reported on the networks, that they were simply making one of many trips in the area south of Baghdad. 

And Fern had chosen to travel without an armed escort.  She believed that the armed escorts interfered with her ability to relate to the Iraqi villagers with whom she was working. 

And so I‘m not sure what exactly her mission was that day, but we know very little other than what we‘ve been told, that they were stopped at a checkpoint by gun men dressed as Iraqi police officers. 

NORVILLE:  Give us a sense of the kind of work Fern was engaged in there in Iraq. 

RODOLF:  Well, she was in the rural areas, which I think most of the territory south of Baghdad is, rural.  She—Her main focus, although she did spend some time helping gather evidence of war crimes and human rights abuse, she—her focus evolved into one of helping educate and integrate Iraqi women into the idea of local government and participation in a democratic form of government, which of course is a very novel idea in that country. 

And this is something to which she was deeply committed. 

NORVILLE:  And you and she kept up a pretty vigorous e-mail correspondence, and she said to you, I think, in one of those e-mails that she thought that it was her work with women that was rubbing some people there in Iraq the wrong way. 

RODOLF:  She said that it perhaps made her a bit of a higher profile target than she might have otherwise have been, because the traditional, the Iraqi culture, which has excluded women for so long in of any element of virtually any element of society, was very resistant to much of the changes that they were now attempting to introduce over there but in particular the inclusion of women in Iraqi government.  And she believed...

NORVILLE:  Go ahead. 

RODOLF:  She believed that that may have offended some of the more traditional cultural notions about the role of women in Iraqi society and that may have even enhanced the risk that she was faced with. 

NORVILLE:  The Iraqi interim constitution has just been approved this week.  I don‘t know when you last corresponded with Fern. 

Did she speak to you at all about her pride and the pride that she had seen on the part of Iraqi women for her role in having that document come into being and include women to the extent that it has?

RODOLF:  She was very proud of that role and she—my last correspondence with her was Friday night.  And she was very pleased about the new constitution and the role that women were and are to play in Iraqi government.  It was very important to her. 

And she sent, from time to time pictures of some of the women with whom she worked, and it was very evident just looking at the pictures that they had a deep affection for her, as she did for them. 

NORVILLE:  And yet, she knew and she said she was a target.  And there was one e-mail you were kind enough to share with us from earlier this year in which she said, “If I die, I know I‘m doing precisely what I want to be doing.” 

And then she followed it up in February.  She said about the Americans, “We stand out, and those who dislike us know precisely when we come to town.”

Knowing that, why did she give up that armed guard?  I understand that  they can get in the way, but they also can keep you alive. 

RODOLF:  That‘s true.  And it was a source of deep concern for all of us.  But we also knew Fern well enough to know.

When she went to Namibia with the Peace Corps, she chose, rather than to be in the capitol city, which was the post offered to her, to be out in the bush where there was no communication, no electricity.  And it was very dangerous on the border with Angola.  And this was something she elected to do. 

She always saw—she had such a sense of commitment and believed that you had to assume certain risks to accomplish your objective.  And the objective which she was trying to achieve in Iraq was so vitally important to her that she was the sort of person who was willing to assume that risk to get the job done. 

NORVILLE:  It‘s extraordinary.  We don‘t hear about people like that very often in these days.  And yet, she was so comfortable and almost at peace with the possibility of what ultimately did happen. 

I guess in one of the last e-mails to you, she said to you, she said, “If I die, I was doing what‘s important to me.” 


NORVILLE:  Does that give you and her brothers and sisters some solace during what I know is an excruciating time?

RODOLF:  I think the way we feel and have always felt about Fern is if you go through life and meet one such person, you are very fortunate.  And we knew that Fern was a high-risk individual in the sense that she was willing to risk literally everything to do some good in the world. 

So, one of her sisters said, “The next time someone tells you that one person can‘t make a difference in this world, tell them about my sister.  Tell them about Fern Holland.” 

And I think that‘s a very appropriate and accurate comment, that she was—as you say, you don‘t often meet people like this.  I‘ve never met anyone like this, and I think most of the people who knew her would agree.  She was one in a million. 

NORVILLE:  Well, one in a million and thanks to you, Stephen Rodolf, for sharing her story. 

RODOLF:  Thank you.

NORVILLE:  Many more of us can feel that we knew her as well and are amazed by her commitment.  Thank you so much.

RODOLF:  Thank you.

NORVILLE:  We‘ll take a break.  When we come back, Princess Diana‘s secret tapes.  Some never before seen footage as she speaks candidly about just how unhappy she was and her struggle for independence.  That‘s next. 



NORVILLE:  Ever since Princess Diana‘s death more than six years ago, the fascination about the princess of Wales just seems to continue to grow.  And tonight, in secret tapes of Princess Diana obtained exclusively by NBC, she speaks candidly about her life and practices her royal accent with a speech coach. 


PETER SETTELEN, VOICE COACH:  Your Royal Highness, you are concentrating very much on your—stop laughing at me—on your charity work. 


PRINCESS DIANA:  Because it highlights the plight of others.  And if I‘m able to go into a situation which makes others more aware of their desperation and—Peter, I can‘t do this.  It‘s ghastly.

DIANA:  Because I haven‘t got—I have got no adrenalin.  I‘m dead. 

I can‘t get anything out.  I don‘t know the answer to that question.


NORVILLE:  Joining me now is veteran royal correspondent for “The London Daily Express,” Richard Mineards, who is with us this evening from London. 


When you look at that clip of Princess Diana, she seems absolutely flummoxed and she frankly to me looks bored to tears.  What do you make of that clip? 

MINEARDS:  Well, I think Diana was bored with her role.  She was trying to live up to this fairy tale image.  And, as she admitted, it certainly got to her and she felt that she couldn‘t live up to this image.

And I think this was one of the major problems with her marriage to Prince Charles, which, in retrospect, shouldn‘t have taken place in the first place.  But, as we all know, it did.  And it went from a fairy tale in 1981 to an absolute nightmare some 10 years or so later. 

NORVILLE:  Well, this was about 1991, 1992 when these videotapes that we‘re looking at were made.  And this was a time when—help us with the history, if you will.  At what point in the marriage was this?  They are still married, but it‘s a huge feud?  They‘re still married, it‘s a huge feud, but nobody knows about it?  Where exactly in the Diana and Charles saga were these tapes made? 

MINEARDS:  Well, these videotapes were made in about 1992, the same year the Andrew Morton best-seller, “Diana: Her True Story,” came out.  And they were made by Peter Settelen, who is a speech coach, who was brought in to give Diana more confidence. 

NORVILLE:  Who brought him in?  Did she bring him in or did the palace say, we need to get somebody for the princess?  

MINEARDS:  I think it was probably a combination of both. 

Obviously, Diana felt she was weak at public speaking and certainly needed to exude more confidence, as opposed to this rather wispy voice.  And you could hear in that particularly clip, you showed that frustration that she was unable to really put forth her thoughts candidly.  And that was one of her weak spots—one of her few weak spots, I might say, when it came to public image.  But we know now in retrospect that she found it very, very difficult to live up to this image that had been created by the global media of this mix of, I suppose you could call it a future queen and Marilyn Monroe, because she exuded not only the royal aspect and the dynastic history of the Windsors, but she also had a great touch of Hollywood glamour.

And I think that gave her this enormous appeal worldwide. 

NORVILLE:  Right. 

And what makes the tape, even 6 ½ years after her death, so fascinating is, it gives us a window on what her innermost personal thoughts were on some of the most important aspects of her life.  For instance, there is audiotape of the conversation that she had for Andrew Morton‘s book in which she speaks about her children. 

I want to play that and then get a reaction to you . 


DIANA:  I hug my children to death.  I get in bed with them at night and hug them.  And I always say, who loves you the most in the whole wide world?  And they say, mommy.  It‘s so important.


MINEARDS:  Oh, without question.  She was an absolutely brilliant mother.  And she has very stable, well-adjusted children, one of whom is going to be the future king, William V.

And what I think you gain from these audiotapes is the emotion and sheer love and sheer desperation and sheer angst that Diana was experiencing in this period in 1991, vastly more so than was conveyed in the written word in Andrew Morton‘s best-selling book that came out one year later. 

NORVILLE:  And given that, given that enormous mother love that any mom on the planet can appreciate, how do you think she would regard the press attention that her sons continue to get today? 

MINEARDS:  Well, I think she would obviously realize that the children would become more global icons like she was during her life.  And as she even said, she would like to see William, her eldest son, treating the media as John F. Kennedy Jr. did. 

And I watched John Kennedy when I was in New York.  And he dealt with the press in the most amazing manner, a total gentlemen.  And I think both William and Harry will also treat the media with a great deal of respect, because I think the media needs the royal family, particularly in Britain.  And, obviously, the royal family needs good press.  And I think it has to be a combination of both.  And I think that will happen in the future. 

NORVILLE:  I want to go through some of these clips.  The first one we‘re going to play now is where the princess is speaking about her husband, the prince of Wales, Charles. 


DIANA:  If I was able to write my own script, I would say that I would hope that my husband would go off, go away, with his lady and sort that out and leave me the children just to carry the Wales name.”


MINEARDS:  Well, I think it clearly shows her despondency, her depression, her upset at Prince Charles‘ continued relationship with his mistress, Camilla Parker Bowles.

I think Diana obviously was misled somewhat when she got married.  In fact, according to her sisters, Sarah and Jane, she said that just on the eve of her wedding in 1981, that she didn‘t think she really wanted to go through with the ceremony.  And famously remarked, well, your name is on the tea towels now, so you can‘t two back. 

And we all know what happened after that.  It played out as a global soap opera and I think was a nightmare for Diana and also a nightmare for the royal family as a whole, because it really disparaged the image of a stable monarchy and showed them not as human beings. 

NORVILLE:  There is also one clip that I want to play in which her voice coach, Peter Settelen, is really pushing her, it seems, to get it right.  Let‘s take a look at that.  Now, this is a tape that was done with the—and a videotape that was done.  We saw a snippet of it earlier.  And this is Peter Settelen.  She was meeting periodically for a period of time, and this is where you get a sense of just what an ordeal it was, quite frankly, for both of them. 


SETTELEN:  OK.  Stop it.  Thank you.  Thank you, all.

DIANA:  Thanks.  Thank you all very much for asking me to come here today to open this congress. 

SETTELEN:  Make the words longer.  Start it again.  It was fine.  It was what you did before.  Let‘s just make thank you all.  It‘s like rather all, all.

DIANA:  Thank you all very much. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)                     

NORVILLE:  Nice to see even people in the public eye have to struggle sometimes. 

In a sense, Richard, this created of a bit of media monster for the palace, did it not, once she got that media poise down pat? 

MINEARDS:  Well, certainly.

And, of course,  the revelation of the audiotapes and videotapes on All American television have continued to reverberate right now, because I do know that Prince Charles‘ aides are worried that his carefully campaign to improve his public image, since Diana‘s death has suffered a setback, And they are particularly concerned about Camilla Parker Bowles, his longtime mistress, that this will resurrect some antipathy with the public against her.  So it does have major recriminations even across the Atlantic. 

NORVILLE:  Yes.  Over here, it‘s just good television.  But, certainly, there‘s a lot of more at stake on your side of the pond.

Richard Mineards, thank you so much for being with us. 

MINEARDS:  My pleasure.

NORVILLE:  And a reminder, tonight, you can see more of this as NBC present “Princess Diana: The Secret Tapes Part 2.”  It airs tonight at 10:00 Eastern, 9:00 Central time.

ANNOUNCER:  Up next, think women‘s magazine hold all the answers to a richer, happier life?  This woman says, think again.  She left “Ladies Home Journal.”  And wait until you hear her parting shot at the industry she was once a part of. 

DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT is coming right back.


NORVILLE:  Rosie‘s magazine goes south.  Martha‘s empire is on the brink.  Tonight, the woman who left “Ladies Home Journal” after years at the helm.  Wait until you hear what she has to say.


NORVILLE:  Are American women be duped by women‘s magazine?  They tell women how to think, about the hi bodies, their husbands, their careers and their parenting skills.  And oftentimes, they tell women it‘s just too much. 

Myrna Blyth calls them the female fear factor stories.  And she ought to know.  She spent 20 years at “Ladies Home Journal” as the editor.  And now in her new book called “Spin Sisters,” she makes the case that women are being manipulated by a message of victimhood and unhappiness. 

And Myrna Blyth is with me in the studio.

NORVILLE:  Nice to see you.  Congratulations on your baby here. 


MYRNA BLYTH, AUTHOR, “SPIN SISTERS”:  Thank you.  Thank you very much. 

NORVILLE:  This is one heck of an exit interview.  I want to start with a quote from the chapter called “The Victim Virus” in here.  You say:

“Media queens are the ones who tell you are frazzled, frumpy, fearful victims.  In response, you buy cosmetics and join health spas and light aroma therapy candles and worry endlessly about everything from your children‘s self-esteem to the dangers of celery.”

BLYTH:  Right. 

NORVILLE:  That‘s quite an indictment. 

BLYTH:  Well, and it isn‘t only women‘s magazine.  Let‘s be honest.  It‘s media for women, which includes the television newsmagazines, the morning shows, some cable channels.  Yes, I think far too often media for women give women negative messages. 

They tell women they are frazzled, they are fearful, they‘re frumpy.  And it‘s not an accurate picture of women‘s lives in this country, not at all. 

NORVILLE:  You make this charge based on a prodigious amount of research. 

BLYTH:  Absolutely.,

NORVILLE:  You literally went book through several years worth of all

of the magazines and thumbed through all of them.


BLYTH:  Right, and looked at a lot of clips, too, from television shows, absolutely.

NORVILLE:  And looked at a lot of clips from TV shows.

But let‘s start on the magazine first.  Why did you feel so strongly that this was an overt attempt to manipulate women? 

BLYTH:  Well, I think what happened is, at one point, we told women to be—a long time ago, happy homemakers, then happy career women.  Then, we said, you have a lot of choices.  Let‘s only look at the downside of any choice you can make. 

So we tell women, if they are working moms, oh, you are too stressed to cope.  We give them negative messages, especially about stress.  You know, we have defined stress so far downward that going home and choosing between Hamburger Helper or Domino‘s, that‘s stress. 

NORVILLE:  Oh, that‘s not stress. 

BLYTH:  Of course not.

NORVILLE:  Oh, of course that‘s not .

And I don‘t think any woman who would read that would read that with anything other than the tongue-in-cheek message that clearly a quirky writer had.  The thing that you know, has gotten the buzz on this book going is, if Myrna Blyth felt so strongly about this, then why didn‘t she do something during her 20 years at “Ladies Home Journal”?  You only left a year and a half ago.

BLYTH:  Oh, but the message has certainly changed.


NORVILLE:  Not in a year and a half. 

BLYTH:  Oh, but I did five years ago what I think was really the best thing. 

I started a magazine for women in their ‘40s and ‘50s, because it is a rare optimistic magazine.  It started with an optimistic basis, because we know that lives are better today for women in their ‘40s and ‘50s than they ever were before.  But believe me, you know, media reflects itself.  It copies itself.  If filters out anything that isn‘t there.  So you see stress, stress.

NORVILLE:  And it‘s not just the women‘s media.  This is men‘s health magazine.  They have got the same stories that you say are no good for the women, “The Amazing Sex Diaries,” “Fight Fat and Win,” “Successful Mind Tricks,” “Ten Foods You Shouldn‘t Eat,” “Great Sex and Health.”

The guys are worried about the same stuff that the women‘s magazines are worrying about.


BLYTH:  Wait, there is one—you have one here.  You‘ve got 12, 15, 20 of these. 

NORVILLE:  OK, and then let‘s go through this, Myrna.  “Better Home and Gardens,” it‘s a shelter magazine.  All nice stories. 

Your alma mater, “Ladies Home Journal.”  “How Much Stress is Too Much? 

Tired All the Time?  Love Your Hair.”  What do women talk about? 

BLYTH:  Stress, stress.

No, but we have defined stress so that you feel stress no matter what and that isn‘t accurate. 

NORVILLE:  How do you define stress? 

BLYTH:  I define stress as—September 11 was a day of stress. 

NORVILLE:  That‘s stress, absolutely.

BLYTH:  Not going through a normal day.  Forgetting the snacks for the peewee soccer game, that‘s not stress.  What about fear factor stories in women‘s magazine? 

NORVILLE:  Well, let‘s talk for a second.  I want to get to the stress thing, because there was a survey done by the Whirlpool Foundation which says nine out of 10 women feel they are extremely pressed for time.  You don‘t argue with that, right? 

BLYTH:  Oh, well, you know what? 


NORVILLE:  You argue that women aren‘t pressed for time?

BLYTH:  Wait.

Time study reports that are done by the University of Maryland say the average woman has six hours more of free time than her mother did.  Do you know what she does with it? 

NORVILLE:  And, in your book, you say they watch TV. 

BLYTH:  Exactly, which tells them they are stressed.  Women watch television almost five hours a day. 

NORVILLE:  If this were a message that didn‘t in some way resonate with women—because, in the stress story, there is always a suggested solution. 

BLYTH:  Absolutely.  Take a bubble bath.

NORVILLE:  No, and what‘s wrong with that?  There is one magazine I think that out right now where it says, the little word—or maybe you talk about it in your book.

BLYTH:  Say no. 

NORVILLE:  Little word.  Say no.  What‘s wrong with that? 

BLYTH:  Well, you know, in that very funny article, you are supposed to say no to your boss if he wants you to work late, no to your mom if she wants you to visit more often than her birthday or Christmas.  Come on, Deborah.

NORVILLE:  Well, what do you think the answer is, Myrna? 


NORVILLE:  That‘s not a good answer to rejecting problems that you don‘t want to take on.

BLYTH:  Deborah, the No. 1 stress—I think seeing your mom more than twice a year is a problem if you think you should only see her twice a year. 

But, anyways, in truth, the No. 1 stress in America for women is not having enough money.  That‘s never discussed in women‘s magazines, because the solutions are buying bath oil or going to a spa. 

NORVILLE:  You know, I understand your premise.  I‘m not sure that I can agree with it, because I think, in all of these magazine or most of these magazines, you will find articles—certainly, I know in the “Oprah” magazine, Suze Orman has a regular column in there about dealing with financial issues. 

The magazines are, I think—and I‘m not an apologist for the magazines.  I‘m not on the cover of any of them.

BLYTH:  Right. 

NORVILLE:  But I think to attack an entire genre, when you are such a part of it, there‘s so many people who look at that and go, you didn‘t make a difference when you had a chance. 

BLYTH:  I did make a difference.  And let‘s talk about the other bias in women‘s magazine, the liberal bias, the absolute clear liberal bias in magazines for women.

NORVILLE:  I want to get into that.  Can we take a break and come back? 

BLYTH:  All right. 

NORVILLE:  Because it‘s too important to cut off with a commercial.

BLYTH:  Right. 

NORVILLE:  More with Myrna Blyth right after this.


NORVILLE:  Back now with Myrna Blyth, the author of “Spin Sisters,” former editor of “Ladies Home Journal.”

You really believe there is a series liberal bias in most of the women‘s magazine. 

BLYTH:  Oh, absolutely.  Oh, yes, there are many examples. 

For example, in the last national election, we kept hearing in many of

the magazines, a vote for Gore is a vote for you, when half the readers

NORVILLE:  Which magazines?

BLYTH:  “Glamour,” “Marie Claire, “Redbook” clearly have a bias.  The heroines of the year, the women of the year are always celebrities who have a liberal bias who explain things that way. 


NORVILLE:  You also say that really kowtow to the liberal celebrity.  You tell a riveting story about a situation that you had to deal with Susan Sarandon.

BLYTH:  Absolutely.

NORVILLE:  And the demands that the stars make, the fees that must be paid to their charities.

BLYTH:  Right. 

NORVILLE:  And yet you did the dance. 

BLYTH:  Oh, I absolutely did.

NORVILLE:  You went along with it.

BLYTH:  Because you need those celebrities to appeal to advertisers primarily, even more than to readers. 

NORVILLE:  Because they will sell the magazines for you. 


BLYTH:  Absolutely.  It‘s a circular thing.

NORVILLE:  It‘s a circle.

BLYTH:  But, for example, a woman like Ann Coulter, successful, attractive, she never appears in women‘s media.

NORVILLE:  Why do you suppose that is?  Do you think it‘s because of her politics? 

BLYTH:  Yes, while Eve Ensler, just as extreme in own view, she‘s feted.  She writes for women‘s magazine.  She is given awards. 

“Ad Age” used an except of my book in their last issue.  And then they asked advertising age—people in media whether my contention that women‘s magazine had a liberal agenda was true or not; 70 percent agreed with me. 

NORVILLE:  But you know what?  You could probably ask that question about all the media and get a similar percentage.  I think the general perception is that media in general is liberal.  And I don‘t think it should be.  It ought to be just out there, put the information, let people decide. 

I want to ask you, before we have to go...


BLYTH:  But wait.  But women are more influenced by spin sisters, by magazines, by the spin sisters who come in their home.  And when they say, all women should agree, it‘s very influential.


NORVILLE:  One second.  Let me just stop you there, because I‘m a woman.  I don‘t read all these magazine.  But I think most women would reject the notion that anyone out there thinks that they are so incapable of independent thinking that they could be easily spun by a magazine.

BLYTH:  We‘re influenced by media, by the women who come into our daily.  Women like Diane and Katie and Barbara are always the most admired women.  They have a unique position.  They are influential.


BLYTH:  You know, Deborah, I wrote the book for women, not for the spin sisters. 

And I have advice for women.  When you hear these endless stories about stress in your life, realize, most of us can cope.  Get on with it. 

When you hear the female fear factor stories, like


NORVILLE:  The handbag will kill you because it‘s so heavy, it will break your back.

BLYTH:  Right. 

Compare the risk and the threat.  You will be absolutely relieved. 

And one-sided messages about politics, think for yourself. 

NORVILLE:  One thing we both agree on is that right there.  Use your brain. 

Absolutely .

NORVILLE:  Myrna Blyth, it‘s good to see you.  Congratulations on the book. 

BLYTH:  Good to see you, too.

NORVILLE:  We‘ll be back.


NORVILLE:  And before we go tonight, we just wanted to come back full circle to the incredible story of Eric Lemarque, the former Olympian we met at the top of the hour. 

Lemarque, the lost snowboarder, survived a week, as you heard, in those freezing Sierra Nevada Mountains.  After his ordeal, his legs were amputated just below the knee.  And now his biggest challenge will be learning to work again. 

If you would like some information about how you can help Eric in that goal, you can get it from our Web site.  The address is NORVILLE.MSNBC.com.

And we would love to hear your thoughts about Eric or anything else on the program.  So just send us an e-mail.  Again, the address is NORVILLE@MSNBC.com

Thanks for watching.  Tune in tomorrow night, because we have got the man who made Michael Jackson a worldwide superstar.  He once ran the music industry‘s biggest record label.  And now he is naming names and dishing the dirt about his rock ‘n‘ roll life and the folks in the music business. 

That‘s tomorrow night. 

And now coming up next, Joe Scarborough.  It looks like Martha Stewart is facing jail time, but what about all those other business leaders accused of stealing? 

Joe Scarborough and “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY” next.

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