updated 8/25/2004 11:46:34 AM ET 2004-08-25T15:46:34

Guests: Gloria Allred, Joe Tacopina, Norm Early, Anita Hill


DEBORAH NORVILLE, HOST:  Cross-examination, round two, another grueling day for Amber Frey as the defense takes another swing at her credibility.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Geragos has, first of all, slightly deflated Amber Frey by attacking her morals.


NORVILLE:  Was Scott Peterson‘s mistress an unwitting victim of his lies and deceit...


SCOTT PETERSON, CHARGED WITH DOUBLE MURDER:  We could be wonderful together, and I could care for you in any and every way.


NORVILLE:  ... or was the prosecution‘s star witness a calculated seductress?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What they‘re trying to say is that Amber Frey has what we used to call, in the old lawyer‘s phrase, unchaste character.


NORVILLE:  Rocking the vote.  The most powerful swing vote group in this year‘s presidential election, women.  So why does it seem both campaigns are ignoring them?  Tonight, law professor and social advocate Anita Hill on why female voters could elect the next president and how they might be courted.  Plus, a look back at her historical testimony.


ANITA HILL:  On several occasions, Thomas told me graphically of his own sexual prowess.

CLARENCE THOMAS, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE:  As far as I‘m concerned, it is a high-tech lynching!


NORVILLE:  And why Clarence Thomas could be back in the news.

ANNOUNCER:  From studio 3K in Rockefeller Center, Deborah Norville.

NORVILLE:  And good evening, everybody.  Defense attorney Mark Geragos finished his cross-examination of Amber Frey today.  Scott Peterson‘s former girlfriend has completed her testimony, at least for now.  And joining me now from Redwood City, California, where he‘s been covering the trial, is NBC‘s chief legal correspondent and the host of “THE ABRAMS REPORT” here on MSNBC, Dan Abrams.

Dan, Amber Frey has come and gone now in the Peterson trial.  Did she hurt Scott Peterson in the process?

DAN ABRAMS, HOST, “THE ABRAMS REPORT”:  I think the tapes hurt Scott Peterson.  I don‘t know that Amber Frey‘s testimony, per se, hurt Scott Peterson.  But again, I think the most important point that was made on those tapes is that Scott Peterson admitted that he had told Amber Frey two weeks before Laci disappeared that he had lost his wife and that he also had said that he could spend more time with her in January, after he made up going on a trip to Europe.  I think those are the two most important points that came out in the entire testimony of Amber Frey.

NORVILLE:  So it doesn‘t really matter, then, that Scott Peterson never said those magic words to Amber Frey, I love you?

ABRAMS:  You know, it doesn‘t really matter.  The defense is certainly trying to suggest that Amber was more into it, effectively, than was Scott, and that for Scott, he didn‘t really mean what he was saying.  And what they‘re hoping that these jurors will do is sort of disregard what they heard on the tapes.

Mark Geragos focused on that very issue today about the love affair.  He said, “He”—referring to Scott Peterson—“never told you that he loved you.”  Amber, “Not in those words.”  Geragos, “In all the tapes, he never says, I love you.”  “Not in those words.”  “Before she goes missing, he never says, I love you.”  “Not in those words.

Amber Frey clearly suggesting, yes, he loved me, but he never said those words.

ABRAMS:  Yes, he never said those words, and there seemed to be an effort on the part of Geragos to point out just how faulty Amber Frey‘s memory was when it came to remembering things that had to do with her cooperating with the police.  I mean, it sounded like, you know, someone who clearly didn‘t want to say stuff.

In the exchange with Mark Geragos, he said, “On January 8, you kept referring to the fact that he wasn‘t going on nationwide TV.  Remember those questions and answers?”  Amber said, “Yes.”  “Were those being supplied to you by officers?”  “I don‘t recall specifics.”  “Something you thought about?”  “Well, that‘s what I‘m saying.  I don‘t recall if it was them or myself.”  “Your suggestion to him that he go out and do media, or did police tell you?”  “I don‘t recall whose suggestion it was.”

And that‘s important because at a certain point in those calls, Amber‘s sitting right here, and the police officers are right at the table, handing her slips of paper with things to ask.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  And I think that was more important than the idea that she didn‘t remember, I think, was the fact that Mark Geragos established and Amber Frey admitted she was being fed a lot of the questions from the police.  And again, while that doesn‘t necessarily matter because what matters is what did Scott Peterson say or not say, the defense is hoping that it just makes the jurors feel icky about these tapes, to essentially say, Well, you know, there she is, working with the police, pretending it‘s all this love affair, when all she‘s doing is trying to get answers from him.  And again, most importantly, he never confesses.

NORVILLE:  He never confessed, and he also never tried to dissuade Amber from going to the police because once this thing had broken in the media, she had that conversation with him many times.

ABRAMS:  And I think that‘s important.  I think that—you heard that on the tape, that he does not dissuade her.  And Mark Geragos did ask her, specifically referring to the tapes, where she says, You know, I may go to the police, and he says, Look, you got to do what you have to do.  Geragos said, “He told you it‘s fine.  He‘s got nothing to hide.”  Amber, “Yes.”  Geragos, “He said specifically, ‘You must be worried about your parents and her family.”  “Yes.”  “And he said, ‘If that‘s what you have to do, I‘m not going to stop you.  Nothing to hide.‘  And you said, ‘What about your parents?‘  He said, ‘They‘d be hurt.  Obviously, there‘d be repercussions.‘ “  Amber, “Yes.”  “And part of the discussion about you going to the police.”  “Yes.”  “He told you again he had nothing to hide.”  “Yes.”  “That was one of those conversations where they were giving you notes.” 


NORVILLE:  And in that same exchange during the presentation today in court, Amber admitted that Scott had acknowledged that he had an attorney who was advising him not to talk to anybody, including Amber Frey.  So Scott Peterson knew that she might be cooperating with the police, at that point.

ABRAMS:  Well, and it cuts both ways there.  I don‘t know that it necessarily means that he knows, but it cuts both ways, in the sense that, on the one hand, it helps Mark Geragos because it explains why Scott Peterson is saying throughout these tapes, I can‘t tell you, I can‘t talk to you about it, I wish I could, I‘d like to, but I can‘t.  The explanation, then, according to the defense is, he had a lawyer and the lawyer told him not to say it.

On the other hand, the question is, Why does he have a lawyer?  It‘s two weeks in.  His wife is missing.  Why is he automatically hiring a lawyer?  And the question is, Will the jurors hold that against him, that he had, quote, “lawyered up” so early on in the process?

NORVILLE:  But don‘t people sort of know now that the next of kin is usually the first one the cops look at when someone goes missing?

ABRAMS:  Yes, but if you talk to one of the next of kins of people who have gone missing, you know, you talk to Marc Klaas or some of these other people, and they‘ll tell you, The first thing I wanted to do is help the police.


ABRAMS:  I wanted to do everything I could to answer all their questions.  And Scott Peterson would say, I was talking to the police.  The police would say he wasn‘t being particularly cooperative.  But whether they should or they shouldn‘t hold it against Scott Peterson, the question is, Will any of these jurors look at that and say, you know, Why was he hiring a lawyer so early?  Remember John and Patsy Ramsey early on got legal advice, and the world held it against them from day one.  The question is, Will these jurors hold it against Scott Peterson?

NORVILLE:  Yes.  Now, we‘ve heard about 40 of the phone calls, and there were about 241 that we know of that were recorded between Amber and Scott Peterson.  The one thing I‘ve never heard her say in these conversations is the question I would have thought she would have asked, which was, Why did you keep going out with me after your wife went missing?  Think jurors are wondering about that?

ABRAMS:  You know, he did sort of touch on that.  He did touch on the issue of, you know, Isn‘t it a little weird that you‘re talking to your girlfriend when your wife is missing?  And Scott says—admits that it is a little bit—I think they used the word sinister, was one of the words that came up in the context of one of those conversations.  But Scott Peterson conceding, I think, to Amber that it didn‘t seem completely normal, and he didn‘t have an explanation for it.

NORVILLE:  We‘ve been 12 weeks into this trial.  We hear that it‘s going to go probably at least another three months.  Are we ever going to get around to any evidence in this thing, Dan, physical evidence?

ABRAMS:  Well, you know, look, Deborah, I would argue that physical evidence is where her body was found.  I think that‘s—her body was physical evidence in this case, and the fact that her body‘s found 90 miles away from their home, exactly where Scott Peterson said he went fishing is physical evidence.

NORVILLE:  Yes, but also circumstantial.

ABRAMS:  But circumstantial evidence is physical evidence.  I mean, physical evidence is circumstantial.  You‘re right that there‘s not going to be some great eyewitness testimony in this case.  There‘ll probably be some people who will talk about having seen Scott Peterson.  There were some people who said Scott Peterson, for example, told them different stories about what he was doing that day, told someone he went golfing, told someone else he went fishing on that day.

But you know, there is going to be no smoking gun.  We know what the prosecution has in this case.  You know, this hair evidence of Laci‘s hair in the boat is sort of what‘s considered the biggest piece of physical evidence, I think, apart from the body, and I don‘t know that that‘s going to be such a big deal in this case.

The question is going to be all of the circumstances together.  For

example, these tapes, December 6, Scott Peterson—Amber‘s best friend is

·         finds out that Scott Peterson is married.  She confronts him about it. 

He says, I lost my wife.  Let me tell Amber myself.  The next day, he‘s looking on the Internet to buy boats.  The day after that, he‘s looking up tides in the San Francisco Bay.  And the day after that, he‘s telling Laci that he lost his wife.  So that may or may not...

NORVILLE:  Telling Amber, yes.

ABRAMS:  ... convince the jury.  Yes.

NORVILLE:  Well, it‘s a sinister series of events, to use the word that was in one of those phone conversations.  Dan Abrams, as always, thanks for being with us.

ABRAMS:  All right, Deborah.

ANNOUNCER:  Coming up, 13 years ago, her testimony on Capitol Hill rocked the American workplace.


ANITA HILL, TESTIFIED AGAINST CLARENCE THOMAS:  We can go out and look anyone who‘s a victim of harassment in the eye and say, You do not have to remain silent anymore.


ANNOUNCER:  Now Anita Hill is rocking the political arena and urging female voters to make their voices heard.  But first, more on the Scott Peterson murder trial when DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT returns.



JANEY PETERSON, SCOTT PETERSON‘S SISTER-IN-LAW:  You tell me what she witnessed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, she‘s—she‘s—you know, she‘s a prosecution witness.

PETERSON:  What did she testify to?UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What did she testify to, Janey?

PETERSON:  An affair.  She testified to an affair.  She testified to a man who was having an affair, whose wife went missing.


NORVILLE:  That is Scott Peterson‘s sister-in-law, Janey Peterson, talking today about Amber Frey‘s testimony.  The defense, as you know, has finished cross-examining Ms. Frey, and her testimony is over for now, although she could be called back to the witness stand before the trial is over.

Joining me to discuss Amber Frey‘s impact on the case is her attorney, Gloria Allred.  Also with us tonight is criminal defense attorney Joe Tacopina and former prosecutor Norm Early.  Gentlemen, I‘ll get to you in just a moment.

But Ms. Allred, let me ask you, how is Amber Frey feeling after her several days on the witness stand?

GLORIA ALLRED, AMBER FREY‘S ATTORNEY:  Well, thank you for asking, Deborah.  She‘s exhausted.  She, of course, has been nursing her baby throughout all of this, including being up a couple times last night to nurse her baby, and this is—even though she had to take the witness stand this morning and be cross-examined by Mark Geragos.  I think she‘s relieved that it‘s over and that she‘s going to be able to go back to live her private life with her little 3-and-a-half-month-old infant and her 3-year-old, Ayianna, whom she‘s longing to see, and also to be with the father of her child and to resume her life, which has been on hold for a long time now as she‘s been a witness in this case.

NORVILLE:  You know, it‘s not easy to testify in any kind of criminal proceeding, even if you‘re just testifying to what you‘ve witnessed.  But in Amber Frey‘s case, she had to testify about a personal relationship, intimate details about a relationship with a man whom she‘d just met.  It‘s got to be pretty embarrassing.  How is she feeling about that part of the experience, being so publicly exposed?

ALLRED:  Well, you‘re right, Deborah, it is—parts of it were extremely embarrassing.  And you know, my sense of it is that she didn‘t anticipate when she called the police and offered to give them information that could be relevant to the criminal case, as I think any person should do—if you know something that could help to find a missing person, by all means, call law enforcement.  I‘m sure she never contemplated what would follow after that.  And of course...

NORVILLE:  Does she regret doing it?

ALLRED:  ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE) tape record phone calls, she did.

NORVILLE:  Does she regret doing it?

ALLRED:  I don‘t think she regrets doing it, but my sense of it is that when she tape recorded those telephone calls, that she really didn‘t have any idea that those phone calls would end up in a court of law and then be broadcast to millions of people.  And that did require substantial invasions of her privacy.  I just admire her so much for doing all this because it is an important contribution to this case.

NORVILLE:  Mr. Geragos tried to portray the relationship as more of a fling than a love affair.  Did she see it that way?

ALLRED:  I don‘t think her client—Mr. Geragos‘s client saw it that way.

NORVILLE:  What about your client?

ALLRED:  She didn‘t—yes, well, Amber didn‘t see it as an affair. 

It wasn‘t an affair because she didn‘t—as far as she was concerned, because she didn‘t know that he was married.  Scott says on the tapes that he had lied to her and that she didn‘t know that he was married.  And in fact, for her, it was a relationship.  I think that the jury should see it as a relationship, that most people would see it as a relationship.  And I think even Mr. Geragos used the word relationship at times in court and maybe didn‘t even realize that he was using it because, clearly, it was, and it continued even after Laci disappeared, with Scott calling her and on the tapes talking about a future together, using the word “forever”...

NORVILLE:  Which is just...

ALLRED:  ... even giving her a gift, dropping off a gift on her birthday...

NORVILLE:  ... so weird.

ALLRED:  ... on the day that Laci was to deliver his child, their child, and she‘s missing, and he‘s giving Amber a birthday gift, including a CD that says “Come away with me.”  Doesn‘t sound like a grieving husband to me.

NORVILLE:  Indeed not.  And let‘s look at some of the tapes that were played in court.  Joe, Mark Geragos played some tapes today of some of those phone conversations, and there was one between Amber and Scott where once again, Amber is confronting Scott Peterson about whether or not he really does care for her.


AMBER FREY, SCOTT PETERSON‘S FORMER LOVER:  I could assume possibly that she‘s missing because you love me, right?

PETERSON:  Amber, she‘s missing because someone abducted her.

FREY:  Somebody abducted her?

PETERSON:  That‘s what we think happened.

FREY:  Really.

PETERSON:  Yes.  She would not run off.


PETERSON:  Someone took her.


NORVILLE:  Joe, it sounds like she‘s trying to trap him and Scott Peterson‘s just not taking the bait.

ALLRED:  Well, actually...



TACOPINA:  Deborah, 241 tapes, and that was the theme of it for the defense.  Look, if he were on trial for, you know, having an affair or committing adultery, he‘s guilty.  If he were on trial for being a bad guy, he‘s guilty.  He‘s on trial for murder.  On 241 recorded conversations, that we know of, you know, she did that continually.  And I don‘t blame Amber Frey.  She was doing, you know, what the police asked her to do.  The police are sitting there, writing these questions out, and these answers—they must want to vomit when they‘re hearing these answers.  Not once did they get one answer that they wanted.

Amber‘s basically saying, Right, she‘s missing because you love me,

right, and hoping Peterson says something that someone could conclude he

had some involvement in.  He just—Amber, you know, almost in a sad way -

·         Amber, she‘s missing because someone abducted her, not because I love you.  And you know, that went on throughout the tapes.  That was the theme of these tapes.

There‘s nothing—you know, quite frankly, if I‘m Geragos, with the newfound explanation that the reason he was evasive on some of those tough questions Amber posed—with the newfound response that it was because of legal counsel advising not to speak to her about that stuff—I mean, I think Geragos is going to hold these tapes up as smoking gun evidence of innocence, not of guilt of this murder.  They tried every which way to get him to admit it.  He never came close.  As a matter of fact, he was adamant he had nothing to do with it.

NORVILLE:  OK.  SO Norm Early, was it a mistake, then, for so many of these phone conversations to be played in court, in your opinion?

NORM EARLY, FORMER PROSECUTOR:  I don‘t think so.  I think that what you have here is a situation where Amber Frey‘s testimony, in conjunction with the tapes, gives some insight into this individual, an individual who is not grieving over a missing wife, and more importantly, not grieving over the pending birth—the child that is going to be born any day now.

These insights are things that a jury will take into consideration.  There will be no knockout punch from any witness in this case.  But as was said earlier by Dan, this is a circumstantial case, where you put one thing on top of another thing on top of another thing on top of another thing.  And even though the tapes don‘t knock him out, I think that the jurors can look at those tapes and infer that this is not the action of an individual who is worried about a missing wife.  And he continues to have a relationship with Amber Frey...

NORVILLE:  Yes, but Norm...

EARLY:  ... even though his wife is missing.

EARLY:  Norm, it‘s a big leap from, This is not the action of a man who‘s grieving the disappearance of his wife and soon to be born child to, Yes, I will vote guilty on a capital murder offense that could send him to the death chamber.  That‘s an enormous leap that‘s very difficult for an average man or woman to make.

EARLY:  I agree with you that there‘s a lot of that sentiment in the public‘s mind, at this point, but we haven‘t heard the entire prosecution case.  And I think that even though Amber Frey is a very important witness in this case, I‘m not sure she‘s the motive, the love for Amber is the motive for the murder here.  I think the unborn child and the way that that unborn child, once born, will tie Scott to a woman that he wants to get rid of or does not want to be with any longer is a much stronger motive for the prosecution than the love affair with Amber Frey.  I‘m not sure Scott Peterson loved anybody, except for maybe himself.

NORVILLE:  Gloria, how important do you think Amber is to a conviction, if one‘s able to be gotten here?

ALLRED:  Well, I think it‘s important that Scott Peterson said on the tapes that I—he acknowledged that he had said—in fact, he confessed that he said that, I lost my wife, and these will be the first holidays without her, and that he said that two weeks before Laci ever went missing, and the fact that Amber kept giving him the opportunity over and over through her questioning to explain how this could be.  You know, was this just a coincidence?  What was this?  If Scott Peterson, Deborah, had an innocent explanation for what he meant by that, he didn‘t give it.

I think the jury would want to hear it.  Why didn‘t he give it?  I think it‘s fair that the jury could infer that he didn‘t give it because the answer could incriminate him, and they could so find, if they wished.  Also, he said he didn‘t want to have a biological child if he were with Amber.  He didn‘t need to have a biological child.  That‘s extremely important.  And I think when referring to his own child, he never said his own child.  He said, the child, a child...

NORVILLE:  I‘m going to...

ALLRED:  ... not Our child, not My child...


NORVILLE:  I‘m going to give you a chance to follow up, but we do have to go to a break.  But that‘s really important.  That‘s a lot of inferences that the jury could make.  When we come back, we‘ll try to go over some of them and then talk about the possibility about whether or not they would.  Back more with Gloria Allred, Joe Tacopina and Norm Early on the Scott Peterson trial in a moment.



NORVILLE:  More on Amber Frey‘s cross-examination in the murder trial of Scott Peterson.  We‘re back with Amber Frey‘s attorney, Gloria Allred.  Also criminal defense attorney Joe Tacopina and former prosecutor Norm Early.

If Amber Frey was adamant that Scott Peterson told her weeks before Laci went missing that his wife was lost, she was also adamant that Scott Peterson could never come around and say he had anything to do with the murder.  Let‘s listen again to some tapes of the conversation that was played between the two.


FREY:  I‘m looking past this right now, that even if we continued in a relationship, we could be out for dinner, you know, one night, and the cops could come over or at the home or whatever and—and arrest you for Laci‘s murder.


FREY:  How can I be sure this would not occur?

PETERSON:  Because I had nothing to do with it.


NORVILLE:  Joe Tacopina, if you‘re the defense attorney and you‘re hearing this played in court, are you secretly going, Yes, as this is being heard by the jury?

TACOPINA:  Yes.  I am secretly going, Yes, because, again, they tried surreptitiously to get this guy to make any admission, either, you know, direct or covert, and they—not only did they fail, they—I mean, I‘m telling you right now, as a former homicide prosecutor, no matter what they say in that office, that prosecution team wishes these tapes did not exist.  As wonderful as it proved that he‘s a really bad guy and he‘s a great liar, everyone knows that.  And again, the defense is not contesting that, but these tapes do not help the prosecution prove that he committed a murder.  As a matter of fact, one could argue that they sort of show he really didn‘t have anything participation in the murder because he had all those chances to slip up, and he really never did.  Look, Dan said...

NORVILLE:  Well, I don‘t know that you could say that.  He‘s...

TACOPINA:  ... at the court there are four things...

NORVILLE:  ... just a cool customer.

TACOPINA:  There are four things.  There are four things.  Look, there‘s the lost...

ALLRED:  Deborah...

TACOPINA:  ... the lost remark that he made.  There‘s the remark he made about, in January, we‘ll get together.  Those are damaging for Peterson.  The other fact—and if I‘m the prosecution, I‘d narrow the focus here.  The guy goes fishing on December 24, Christmas Eve.  That‘s weird.  But he goes fishing in a bay almost two hours from his home, and just unlucky enough for him...

NORVILLE:  On a day when the fish aren‘t biting!

TACOPINA:  Unlucky enough for him, his wife and unborn baby‘s body wash up in that same body of water two hours from their house.  That‘s really unlucky if he‘s innocent.  And if I‘m the prosecution, I keep it that simple.

ALLRED:  Well, here‘s something else unlucky, Deborah, if I may say so.

NORVILLE:  Go, Gloria.

ALLRED:  And that‘s the line that you just showed, where Amber is talking about, you know, we could be in a restaurant and you could be arrested for Laci‘s murder.  Guess what?  That was a January telephone conversation.  That‘s before anybody knew, except the murderer perhaps, that in fact Laci had been murdered, because her body hadn‘t washed up. 

And yet Scott is saying, yes—Scott is saying, no, that he didn‘t do it.  Well, what‘s the it?  The murder?


TACOPINA:  She was missing for a month.  Everyone presumed her dead. 


NORVILLE:  Gloria makes a good point.  Maybe it was a Freudian slip. 

Maybe it was just referring to it, the disappearance. 


NORVILLE:  Go ahead, Norm.

EARLY:  I agree with Joe. 

I think that there‘s a great presumption at that point that she is in fact dead and to treat it that way would be appropriate.  But, again, it just shows how inappropriate his relationship with Amber Frey is.  One thing to continue the relationship when your wife is missing.  Quite another thing to continue the relationship when you believe your wife to be dead and continue it with the intensity that he did. 

And one other thing I‘d like to point out about Amber Frey.  She had a lot of chances to say that the man told me that he loved me.  She never stretched it.  Every time he asked her that, she said not in those words.  She never stretched it.  And I think that gives a great deal of credibility to the other things that she says, when she wasn‘t willing to shoot him down entirely by saying, yes, the man told me repeatedly that he loved me. 

TACOPINA:  She is very credible.

NORVILLE:  We talked going into the break about the things that might lead the jury to infer that Scott Peterson had something to do with this.  I want each of you to give me the three that you think are most damaging to Scott Peterson. 

Norm, I‘ll start with you, please. 

EARLY:  Well, I think the first is that he tells her before his wife is even missing that his wife is in fact missing. 

NORVILLE:  Yes, or lost.

EARLY:  The second is that the unborn child.  I really think the unborn child is the motive, because I think that the unborn child makes him in touch with Laci for the rest of his life, through child support payments, through visitations, and through all those sorts of things. 

And I think that the last part is the continuance of the romance with Laci (sic) with wife missing and wife now presumed dead. 

NORVILLE:  OK, Joe, give me your three, real quick, please. 

TACOPINA:  Real quick, the lost comment before she‘s lost, bad for the defense. 


TACOPINA:  The second thing, the body of water that she turns up in is the same one he was fishing the day she goes missing, real bad.  And to me the worst, the worst thing for the defense in this case, the inference that the prosecution is going to hammer.  Scott Peterson is such a dirtball and such a bad guy and so easy to hate, you‘re going to lower the bar.  The jurors may tend to lower the bar and not hold him to that legal standard that they‘re supposed to because he‘s such a dislikable guy.  And that‘s what the prosecution is hoping. 

NORVILLE:  And, Gloria, your three? 

ALLRED:  I would tend to agree with the other two and for most of what they said.  It‘s the, I lost my wife.  These will be the first holidays without her, which Scott Peterson conceded that he said on the tapes, and, of course, the bodies washing up just a couple of miles away from where he conceded that he went he says fishing on Christmas Eve, and I think the fact that also that he was continuing the relationship with Amber Frey, calling from the vigil the day of the vigil, still calling Amber. 

This not only shows that he was wanting to continue a relationship with Amber Frey, talking about the future and forever with her, but it shows a total lack of feeling for his missing wife and his missing son to be. 

NORVILLE:  Yes, well, he‘s certainly a bad guy, but everybody is voting that that lost comment is going to be a real hard thing to explain away. 

Gloria Allred, Joe Tacopina, Norm Early, thanks so much for being with us.  We appreciate it. 

EARLY:  Thank you, Deborah. 

ALLRED:  Thank you, Deborah. 

TACOPINA:  thanks.

NORVILLE:  And when we come back, I‘ll be joined by Anita Hill.  Her testimony in the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings was credited with inspiring a wave of women to run for public office back in 1992.  Now Anita Hill says women voters are about to have their biggest impact ever on a presidential election. 

She‘s next.


NORVILLE:  The Clarence-Hill hearings made Anita Hill a household name.  Now she has some interesting observations about women and the upcoming presidential election. 

She joins me next.


NORVILLE:  My next guest knows a thing or two about how women can impact an election. 

In 1991, during the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Anita Hill testified that Thomas had sexually harassed her.  Her testimony before a Senate Judiciary Committee made Anita Hill a household name and a lightning rod.  In the end, Clarence Thomas was appointed to the Supreme Court, and the following year, a ripple effect: 

Record numbers of women voted.  And a record 54 women were elected to Congress, making 1992 the year of the woman. 

Now Anita Hill is trying to get the message out that women will have a unique impact on this year‘s presidential election. 

Joining me now, Anita Hill, who is now a professor of social policy, law and women‘s studies at Brandeis University. 

You really think that women could cinch the election this time around for the president? 

ANITA HILL, PROFESSOR OF SOCIAL POLICY, BRANDEIS UNIVERSITY:  Well, I think they could.  And I think they will if they get engaged.  And I think that‘s my major concern, is that women realize that they have something at stake in this election and that many of the issues that they cared about in the 1990s that drove them to the polls are still issues today that they need to be concerned about and that need to be addressed. 

NORVILLE:  Well, everybody knows they‘ve got a stake in the election, but you had an editorial that you had in the paper the other day that said:

“In this tight election, it‘s even harder to imagine that either Democrats or Republicans can afford to ignore women as potential swing voters.  Whatever course the campaigns take, whatever groups John Kerry and President Bush choose to court, women continue to have reasons to make their voices heard in November, even though it‘s not the year of the woman.” 

You think that women don‘t think that they have a reason, that they don‘t acknowledge that? 

HILL:  Oh, I think they understand that everyone, as you say, has something at stake here.

But I think there are some particular issues.  For example, in 1992, women were particularly energized to go out and vote, to raise money for candidates, to support different candidates.  And it was that kind of energy and a feeling that there were specific issues that they needed addressed and that they needed their voices heard.  That kind of energy brought people out in the election. 

Right now, there are so many undecided voters, and many of them are women. 

NORVILLE:  Well, and what they‘re saying, too, is that there‘s basically 5 percent that both sides are going to be fighting over.  And when you look at the numbers and you see how many women there are, it‘s pretty incredible. 

Of the undecided voters, a George Washington University poll found that 65 percent of them are women, but that‘s a huge category.  That‘s both the grandmothers on fixed incomes and the young teens who are watching MTV at night. 

HILL:  Well, it is a large population. 

When we start talking about women, we have to understand that we‘re talking about people of all ages.  We‘re talking about people of different income groups.  We‘re talking about people of different life situations.  But there is something to be said that women as women, you can predict in fact how people will vote by gender, to some extent. 

NORVILLE:  So which way do women swing?  What issues push their buttons? 

HILL:  Well, women are concerned about education, very much concerned about education.  They are concerned about security, economic security.  They‘re concerned about gender equity.  Even though many women maybe resist the idea of calling themselves feminists, when it comes to issues of women‘s equality, they very much identify with those issues. 

NORVILLE:  But you‘re not hearing any of the candidates say anything about that.  And if it‘s anywhere close to as close this time around as the polls would indicate, it just seems to make good political sense. 


HILL:  Well, that‘s exactly what the point of the piece that I did in “The Globe,” is that, how can we just ignore this very vast group on some very important issues, economic issues, that are going to affect everyone, but will have a particular impact on women because of their life situations, because women tend to be the heads of single households, they tend to be the caretakers for not only children, but the elderly as well?

NORVILLE:  And the decision-maker when it comes to financial choices that affect the family. 

HILL:  Exactly. 

NORVILLE:  I want to put a map up just so you kind of get a visual picture of what we‘re talking about.  This is a map of the toss-up states right now, the battleground states, as the pundits are calling it.

These states right here are too close to call, could go either way. 

That‘s why you‘re going to see Bush and Kerry going there all the time.  Those represent 120 electoral votes.  Now check this out.  These states here represent the undecided states where women are more than 50 percent of those undecided voters.  And when you tally up the electoral votes that you see on the screen right there in yellow, that‘s 74 electoral votes. 

That‘s the president of the United States conceivably right there. 


HILL:  Certainly. 

NORVILLE:  Why don‘t Bush and Kerry don‘t get it? 

HILL:  Well, I‘m not sure why they don‘t get it.

I think we‘re being distracted in a lot of ways by issues that are important issues, but some issues that maybe aren‘t as important. 

NORVILLE:  Like what?  What are they talking about that they shouldn‘t?

HILL:  I think that we‘ve been spending a lot of time talking about the war record of John Kerry.  And I think that one reason that people don‘t feel energized is that these are not issues that they can really get serious about and that they can get excited about. 

They can get excited about someone who is going to bring them greater economic security, much more so than what happened with John Kerry 35 years ago or 30 years ago in Vietnam.  And so I think part of the problem is that we‘ve gotten sort of distracted.  But the other part of the problem is that we have been so focused since 2001, 9/11.

NORVILLE:  Since 9/11.

HILL:  We‘ve been so very focused on the issue of national security. 



NORVILLE:  Which we should be concerned about.  And women care about their buildings not getting blown up, too. 

HILL:  They do, but that can‘t be the only concern that we have, because we have our day-to-day lives to live.  We have our children to educate.  We have our bills to pay.  We‘ve got to be able to know that when we go to the grocery store that we‘re going to be able to feed our families.

And that is something that the candidates need to speak to.  Health care women are concerned about, long-term care for their parents, child care.  All of those issues are day-to-day issues that women live. 

NORVILLE:  OK.  If the women who have decided not to participate.  And there‘s something like 16 million women who aren‘t even registered to vote, so they haven‘t even bothered to the county hall and get their name on the ballot sheets.  If women don‘t feel energized enough because the candidates aren‘t talking about it, it‘s a chicken-and-egg thing.  Should women be standing up and screaming, speak to me, speak to me, or should the candidates be listening to debates like this going, ladies, I have something to say for you? 

HILL:  Well, women in the ‘90s felt two things simultaneously, one, that they had something at stake, that they really had something at stake in this election, and, two, that they had an opportunity to actually have their voices heard.  And both of those things need to happen. 

The candidates really need to remind them that they have something at stake. 

NORVILLE:  Well, maybe the women need to be reminding the candidates that, you need me. 

HILL:  And that‘s another thing. 

NORVILLE:  And maybe it‘s the other way around.

HILL:  That‘s one of the points I‘m trying to make, too, in this piece, is that, you know, we can‘t really wait for the candidates to call it the year of the woman or even the media to call it the year of the woman, that we have to actually take control of this political situation and the process, just as we did in 1992 and ‘96. 

NORVILLE:  You list a lot of issues.  You talk about women and their economic security.  Women historically retire with fewer assets than men, because they haven‘t worked in the work force as long or usually at as high a pay level.  That is one issue.

Health care, horrifically expensive and getting worse.  That‘s something we do hear about.  Education.  The Republicans have been behind No Child Left Behind, but not everybody is convinced it‘s the best solution to the problem.  A lot of issues out there.  It‘s hard to get such disparate issues to get people to coalesce any one of them when you‘ve got a lot of different thing .  During your time in the limelight, it was sexual harassment.  And all of a sudden, people said, yes, that happened to me.  That happened to me.

We ought to do something about it.  It was an issue that really got people going. 

HILL:  It was an issue that got people excited because they felt it in their gut.  But it was really the sense that they needed a voice in this democracy and they needed to feel that they were full participants in this democracy and that they could be full participants. 

And so it wasn‘t just the issue itself.  It was a sense of wanting to belong and wanting to have an impact and feeling at that very moment that they needed to come out of their complacency in order to do that. 

NORVILLE:  Can women have an impact in 2004?  We‘re going to take a short break.  When we come back, more with Anita Hill.  We‘ll also be talking about how she got through that Clarence Thomas chapter in her life. 

That‘s ahead. 



HILL:  He got up from the table at which we were working, went over to his desk to get the Coke, looked at the can and asked, who has put pubic hair on my Coke?


NORVILLE:  That, of course, an excerpt of Anita Hill‘s testimony in 1991 during Clarence Thomas‘ Supreme Court confirmation hearings.  Anita Hill is my guest here on the program this evening. 

You have probably heard about this new book, Professor Hill, called “Judging Thomas,” in which Ken Foskett reports that Clarence Thomas has been interviewed by the White House as a possible replacement for the chief justice.  Do you think he‘s qualified? 

HILL:  Oh, I think that there are probably other people who are better qualified for the job.  There are probably about eight other people on the Supreme Court currently. 

I think one of the things that we have to look at in terms of whether or not he would make a good chief justice is his ability to really bring some consensus to the court.  We‘re at a very polarized point in the history of the court at this time.  And we need a chief justice who can bring a consensus, who can bring the court together.  There are going to be some critical issues decided. 

And I‘ll just give you a quick example; 50 years ago, Brown vs. the Board of Education was decided.  You can say what you will about Chief Justice Warren, but he polled that court.  He worked together with the members of the court to make sure that they had a unanimous decision in the Brown decision. 

NORVILLE:  And you don‘t think Clarence Thomas is the kind of force that can bring that kind of cohesion? 

HILL:  No, I don‘t think he can bring that kind of cohesion, in part he seems to be at the very far edge.  Even on the decisions that he‘s in a majority, he seems to be on—even his position seems to be more extreme than other members who are in the majority with him. 

But the other thing that I would say is that, in terms of people‘s confidence in the court, he came in, in those hearings under a cloud and there are many people who believe that he should not have been confirmed. 

NORVILLE:  And that that would just be more salt in the wound of those people who felt that way? 

HILL:  Well, not only more salt in the wound, but also people need to feel that our institutions are sound and that people in leadership positions are the best people for that role. 

NORVILLE:  I want to ask about another story in the news, the Kobe Bryant trial.  Jury selection begins the end of this week and there‘s been a lot of talk I‘ve seen where there‘s a concern among rape victims and victims advocates groups that because of the notoriety the young woman who is the accuser in this case has had to undergo, that there will be a chilling effect on other rape victims unwilling to come forward at the risk that they too might lose their privacy in some way. 

Do you think that‘s possible? 

HILL:  Well, I think that‘s a real concern and it‘s been brought about largely because of the way the court system has treated this accuser.  You know, when ever one of these high-profile cases come about, we hope that it provides an example, the best example of our system. 

NORVILLE:  It‘s not a good example.  

HILL:  And this is not.  This has done anything but provide the best example not only for the protection of the accuser, but also the protection of the accused as well. 

And this has not done that.  This has just been the opposite.  And I think there will be reverberations.  And there probably will be women who won‘t come forward because they will not want the same thing to happen to them. 


HILL:  But women are resilient.  And many women in these situations are very determined and they will demand that the system work. 

NORVILLE:  And I want to go back to the women and the vote this November.  Is it possible that Senator Kerry and President Bush just don‘t give a rip about women and could care less if women vote? 

HILL:  Well, I hate to believe that that is true.  What I don‘t—I think that we haven‘t demanded enough of them, and I think that it‘s going to take a concerted effort on everybody‘s part, not only women themselves, but in 1991, in 1992, to be quite frank, the media really stepped in and started demanding, started making demands and asking the right questions.  And I think that‘s going to have to happen in this election. 


NORVILLE:  The media stepped in because you had a zazzy story. 

HILL:  Well, they stepped in, but they followed it afterwards. 

I can remember hearing that, after two months, no one would remember my name, no one would, you know—but there were some members of the media who said, you know, this is more than just a Washington, D.C., scandal story.  This is a story about the lives of women, and we‘re going to follow up on it.  And I think that‘s what we‘re going to have to do now, the media, as well as the electorate, the women themselves. 

NORVILLE:  The battle cry has been sounded and Anita Hill is at the forefront of this one as well. 

Thanks for being with us.

HILL:  Thank you. 

NORVILLE:  Good to see you. 

When we come back, a soldier travels from the brink of death in Iraq home to a community that may need him as much as he needs them. 

We‘ll explain in a sec.


NORVILLE:  That‘s our program tonight.  Thanks for watching.  I‘m Deborah Norville. 

Coming up tomorrow night, a story from my hometown, a young soldier back from Iraq horribly injured, but not broken.  How is it possible that one young man has turned his personal tragedy into a lesson for an entire town?  Tomorrow, the story you usually don‘t hear from the war.  Rescued from a burning Humvee, how the bravery, spirit and faith of one soldier from Dalton, Georgia, has changed the way a community looks at itself and each other.  It‘s a story that hits close to home for me.  And we have got it coming up tomorrow night.  I‘ll hope you will join us.

Coming up next, Joe Scarborough talks with the mastermind behind those swift boat ads.  “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY” is next. 

Thanks for watching.


Copy: Content and programming copyright 2004 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2004 FDCH e-Media, Inc. (f/k/a/ Federal Document Clearing House Inc., eMediaMillWorks, 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 FDCH e-Media, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.


Discussion comments