updated 9/14/2004 10:25:09 AM ET 2004-09-14T14:25:09

Guests: William Portanova, Leslie Crocker Snyder, Brian Levin, Jason Levine, Chip Babcock, Raymond Chandler

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, why was Scott Peterson visiting the San Francisco Bay where his wife‘s body was later found months before her body washed up on shore? 


ABRAMS (voice-over):  Prosecutors show how police use satellite-tracking devices to keep tabs on Peterson.  The defense says they‘re unreliable. 

Plus, author Kitty Kelley has a new book with new explosive allegations that according to a former sister-in-law of President Bush, the now president snorted cocaine at Camp David while his dad was in the White House.  Sharon Bush denies ever saying it, so will there be lawsuits coming, if not, why not? 

And new details about that other boy Michael Jackson was investigated for sexually abusing.  The boy‘s uncle, Raymond Chandler, joins us with his account of the alleged abuse. 

The program about justice starts now. 


ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  First up on the docket, drama playing out in the Scott Peterson case today and not just on the witness stand.  Reports of escalating friction between members of Scott and Laci‘s family caused the judge to actually reseat them in different areas of the courtroom, a sort of legal timeout.  But today it wasn‘t really enforced. 

Also today jurors hear about more trips Scott Peterson made to the Berkley marina just a month after his wife went missing, but months before she and her son Conner were found.  One trip in a pickup truck he rented. 

Let‘s head to the courthouse and our friend Edie Lambert from NBC affiliate KCRA.  So, Edie, what is going on between these two families and what‘s going on in the courtroom? 

EDIE LAMBERT, KCRA CORRESPONDENT:  Well lets‘ start out with the families.  The Rochas were not in court today, Dan, and my information is that they were not happy with the judge‘s order that came in on Thursday.  You have been in the courtroom.  You know that there is a post, kind of two-thirds of the way down in the courtroom that separates the aisle way.  That is where the judge had ruled the families would sit presumably so that the post would block them from seeing each other. 

Talking now about today, we have video of the Petersons walking into court this morning.  It was a little unusual.  They were escorted by three sheriff‘s deputies, which is unusual for the way they usually come into court.  Normally they are just surrounded by cameramen. 

Now, again, the Rochas did not show up today and the judge changed his mind before court started.  He allowed the Petersons to sit in their usual seats in the front row right behind Scott. 

And to remind you what this is all about, Scott‘s father, Lee Peterson, exchanged some words with Ron Grantski, Laci‘s stepfather last Tuesday outside of court. 

Moving now to today‘s testimony, GPS experts talked about the technology used to track Scott‘s movements in the months after Laci disappeared.  The jury heard about two more of those trips to the Berkley marina.  And we can show you a map of the way this is all playing out.  Of course, this is where police believe that Scott Peterson dumped his wife‘s body and there was a search underway at the time.  Here are the dates. 

The jury has already heard from surveillance teams that Peterson went to the marina very quickly on January 5, 6, and 9 of 2003.  And cell phone records place him in the area on the 11th.  Today the jury heard that he also went to the marina on the 26th and drove near there just north on the 27th, at times using rental vehicles. 

Now the defense pointed out that GPS data also showed that Peterson spent a lot of time in San Diego near his parents‘ house, apparently trying to show that he wasn‘t on his way to Mexico when he was arrested.  It was very normal for him to spend a lot of time near San Diego.  Right now a criminalist from the Department of Justice is testifying.  She tested a lot of the evidence collected from the Peterson‘s home. 

I have a list for you—two mops, a mop bucket, a dog leash, a blue tarp, and a boat cover.  On all of those things she said that she found no traces of blood.  She also tested the comforter from the Peterson‘s master bedroom, found that there was blood on that, very small specks of that and we expect to hear more about that later this afternoon—back to you.

ABRAMS:  All right, Edie, stick around.  “My Take”—the notion that the GPS accidentally places him at the exact location his wife was later found, somehow that‘s explained by this GPS not working to me is preposterous.  Far stronger arguments for the defense to say he was going there because he‘d read that they were searching there, but even that is kind of weak because apparently “The Modesto Bee” was only reporting on the search and one time January 18, I think, was the only time they were reporting on it. 

And so, what is he doing there January 5, 6?  Let‘s bring in our legal team—former New York State judge and NBC News analyst Leslie Crocker Snyder and California criminal defense attorney William Portanova.

All right, Bill, you know, what is he doing going back to the scene of the non-crime according to him on January 5 and 6?  You saw the map there - - put it back -- 5th, 6th, 9th, 11th, 26th, and 27th.  It‘s hard to explain, isn‘t it? 

WILLIAM PORTANOVA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  That is very hard to explain.  And they had better have some good testimony showing that he somehow knew they were searching that bay for her body before he started going out there.  If, in fact, nobody knew that they were doing it and there had been no press reports in advance of that, that‘s very damning evidence indeed.  But there may be some evidence down the line that‘s going to come in through the defense case that he had heard about it somehow through law enforcement. 

ABRAMS:  Before I go to...

PORTANOVA:  Who knows? 

ABRAMS:  Before I go to Judge Snyder, Edie Lambert, what do we know about that, about what the defense is going to say about the 5th and 6th, et cetera of January?  Do they have any explanation for that?

LAMBERT:  One thing that was interesting that I would like to point out is that although Mark Geragos fought all of this evidence coming into the trial and pretrial motion, he really didn‘t seem to fight it today.  He really didn‘t do much challenging of their record even though at one point the GPS technology showed Scott Peterson driving 38,000 miles per hour.  But, again, to answer your question, the way they are explaining it is that he knew about these searches, he was interested in them.  This was his pregnant wife.  He was as concerned as anyone and had every right to be there. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Look, Judge Snyder, this seems to be a pretty easy issue.  Either Scott Peterson had some information or if he didn‘t, it‘s very incriminating.  Let me ask you about this business about separating the families.  As a judge, if, you know, there was reports of some snickering or some comments between families, to take—you know, I mean all right, fine, you can talk about the defendant‘s family.  You can say that they are just as important as the victim‘s family, and I guess, you know, I guess they are.  Do you give them equal importance in terms of making sure that they get to be inside that courtroom, the defendant‘s family and the alleged victim‘s family?

LESLIE CROCKER SNYDER, FORMER NY STATE JUDGE:  Well, I think as a matter of law you really have to allow them in as long as they behave properly.  Now if they start sniping at each other, you‘re going to separate them.  That‘s perfectly reasonable.  That‘s what the judge should do and you‘ll put them in different areas.  I don‘t know where he directed them to sit...

ABRAMS:  Well they‘re sitting in the back.  I know exactly what Edie is talking about.  There is this big pillar in the sort of back part of the courtroom and you can‘t see the people who are on the other side of it because it‘s huge and what it sounds like they were saying is we‘re going to put some of them on this side, some of them on that side, but I‘ve got to tell you, these are not the prime seats for that courtroom. 

CROCKER SNYDER:  Well, you know frankly, as long as they‘re in the courtroom, if they are a potential problem, I think the judge is doing just fine.  Usually what we‘ll do is give the victim‘s family, you know, a good placement in the courtroom and the defendants, who might be more of a problem sometimes with the families, will certainly get an adequate seating, but they will be removed from the victim‘s family.  Perfectly reasonable thing for this court to do because you don‘t want that problem and this is a case in which there are very—there is a great deal at stake and I think it‘s very natural given the context of the case that the families would when they started out very close and this is a horrible, horrible crime whoever committed it, and so the emotions are going to run high. 

ABRAMS:  And I‘ve got to tell you these families used to be very close.  I mean I can tell you from talking to both of them at the beginning of this they were all in this together to find Laci.  I remember, you know, Scott‘s mother talking all the time about the fact that she was convinced that body couldn‘t wash up on shore in the San Francisco Bay.  There was no way it would wash up on shore in the San Francisco Bay.  Of course...

CROCKER SNYDER:  But she don‘t know Scott Peterson was having an affair either.  She didn‘t know an awful lot of things and that changed her perception totally...


CROCKER SNYDER:  ... and frankly, how could she not feel incredibly hostile? 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right.  Get back to—let‘s get back to this GPS stuff for a minute.  Edie Lambert, is the defense saying the GPS just doesn‘t work?  I mean are they saying we just can‘t trust it? 

LAMBERT:  They really didn‘t launch the challenge today.  In fact, it seemed like Geragos was almost friendly with one of the expert witnesses today talking about the fact that this witness helped develop GPS technology and that in general it‘s very good.  It‘s widely used by the military and all kinds of function.  So it seems like his defense may be more that Scott‘s behavior can be explained more than that we can‘t trust this kind of technology. 

ABRAMS:  And Bill Portanova, I mean do you say—do you try and suggest to the jurors oh, they shouldn‘t have been putting this stuff in his car?

PORTANOVA:  No, I think that‘s a losing proposition, just like challenging the effectiveness of GPS is a mistake.  The jury has to know that you have common sense as a defense attorney.  You‘re not going to argue about everything that‘s obvious.  The truth is the defense has to explain, as you say, why Scott went to the marina over and over again and to prove that, they‘re going to have to bring in some evidence that “The Sacramento Bee” or the “San Francisco Chronicle” or somebody had some mention of in it a press release or an article indicating that they were searching the marina.  That is the entire defense move on that particular branch of evidence. 


PORTANOVA:  Anything else is really wasting time. 

CROCKER SNYDER:  If they can do that, though, I mean Geragos has been so effective at creating, in my view, these alternate explanations.  Everything—he flips around the prosecution theory on everything.  You know, Scott was just naturally kept his emotions inside.  That‘s why he didn‘t appear emotional on learning and various occasions about his wife or when the searches were being conducted.  Now he‘s going to the bay assuming they can show that he knew about the search because he‘s so concerned about getting his wife, you know finding, putting an end to it.  So Geragos is really good at flipping this for the defense. 

ABRAMS:  Yes...

PORTANOVA:  Well, the fact that a guy doesn‘t show the emotion doesn‘t mean he doesn‘t have it. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, but you know...

CROCKER SNYDER:  Well, that‘s one of his points...

ABRAMS:  But it is a little inconsistent the idea that he is so concerned that he‘s there at the marina each day and then yet, there he is after the vigil calling his girlfriend. 

CROCKER SNYDER:  Well, I mean you know what I think about it.  I think Geragos‘ theories are ludicrous, but he is certainly spinning them well from what everyone says. 

ABRAMS:  All right...

PORTANOVA:  Well, it‘s the benefit of a circumstantial case. 

CROCKER SNYDER:  That‘s true. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right.  Judge Snyder, Bill Portanova, Edie Lambert thanks a lot.

Coming up, crime is at a 30-year low.  Great news, but be suspicious of those who try to take credit for the decrease.  We‘ll talk about who really deserves the credit for keeping our streets safe. 

Plus, Kitty Kelley has been in the hot seat before writing controversial books about celebrities, yet every liable lawsuit filed against her so far has been dismissed, so will Sharon Bush bring her to court for saying Sharon Bush said President Bush used to snort cocaine when his father was president? 

And new details about the boy who accused Michael Jackson of sexual abuse in 1993 -- his uncle speaking out for the first time, written a tell-all book accounting the alleged abuse.

Your e-mails abramsreport@msnbc.com.  Please include your name and where you‘re writing from.  I‘ll respond at the end of the show.


ABRAMS:  We don‘t just report the bad news on this show.  We give you the good news.  Crime rate is at a 30-year low.  We‘ll tell you why and it may not be why some people are saying.


ABRAMS:  Good news today from the Department of Justice.  Crime rates (UNINTELLIGIBLE) at the lowest level in 30 years the Bureau of Justice study shows.  That of the 24 million crimes committed in 2003, 77 percent property crimes, like burglary and theft, 22 percent violent crimes, which included rape, sexual assault, and robbery, and one percent personal thefts. 

The result show a significant decrease in all of these crimes in the last decade with violent crimes down 55 percent.  Property crime is down 49 percent since 1993.  Specific homicide rates for 2003 are being compiled separately by the FBI, but preliminary data shows the 2000 homicide rate will remain relatively unchanged from 2002, rates comparable to the 1960‘s.  So who should get the credit for making our streets safer? 

Well, I assure you there are a lot of politicians who want a lot of credit.  Of course, the question that we‘re going to ask is do they deserve it? 

“My Take”—be suspicious of the purely political people who take the credit.  It‘s a long process and is often the result of innovative programs by local police chiefs in conjunction with broad sort of societal issues, but you‘re going to hear a lot of people taking credit.  Let me talk now about this good news, criminologist and professor of criminal justice at California State University, Brian Levin. 

Thanks a lot for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

BRIAN LEVIN, ESQ, CRIMINOLOGIST:  Dan, thanks for having me. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  So bottom line, we‘re going to hear a lot of politicians and it‘s going to be primarily, I think local politicians, taking a lot of credit for the decrease in crime.  Do they deserve it? 

LEVIN:  Somewhat, but as you hit right on the head, I think it‘s a complex grouping of situational factors, so yes, we certainly have done a better job with policing.  Policing has become more efficient.  We have integrated better use of technology.  We‘re keeping more career criminals off the streets, but some of it is a little bit of a demographic magic and a little bit of luck. 

ABRAMS:  When you say demographic magic, what do you mean? 

LEVIN:  What I mean is, you know many criminologists during the 90‘s predicted that we‘d have this terrible time because we had this bulge of young people who would be coming to that prime age for committing crime, the mid to late teens and early 20‘s and guess what?  That bulge occurred, but they didn‘t commit crimes.  So, that was nice. 

Also, we‘ve had a significant change with our demographics nationally as far as suburbanization.  As people get into the suburbs, crime rates tend to decrease...


LEVIN:  ... the population density, I think, has an influence as well.  And then there‘s technology in the way the police have been using computers to trace where crimes are popping up and then applying resources there immediately.

ABRAMS:  Does the economy get any credit for this? 

LEVIN:  Absolutely, but one of the things that‘s been interesting, even in the recent downturn of the last couple of years, the crime rate has actually gone down.  So while during the 70‘s when we saw inflation rising, we saw the stock market stagnant and down, crime went up.  But today even though the economy has not been as bad as it was during the 70‘s—it‘s been a little sluggish—crime has actually gone down. 

Although if I may say this decline has not hit all groups of people and all locations in the same way.  So many minority communities, unfortunately there is still a significant amount of crime and many of the people who have been incarcerated for crimes who have gotten longer sentences will be coming out soon. 

ABRAMS:  And I assume that‘s always the case, though.  You always have a group of people who are about to be released from prison.  Are you saying is that there‘s a lot more than usual of, sort of bad guys, who are about to be getting out? 

LEVIN:  Exactly.  What we had was, for instance, sentences for minor offenses and drug offenses get lengthened over the last decade.  So, those people who we weren‘t going to keep for life, you know the “Three Strikes” people we keep in for life, but these other ones who might serve 10 years instead of five are now getting out soon. 

ABRAMS:  Brian Levin, thanks at lot.  Appreciate it. 

LEVIN:  Thank you Dan.

ABRAMS:  Up next, a surveillance camera captures last week‘s terror bombing in front of the Australian embassy in Jakarta on tape. 

And Kitty Kelley‘s new tell-all book on the Bush family alleges that President Bush‘s former sister-in-law told her he used cocaine at Camp David when his father was in office.  Sharon Bush says she talked to Kelley, but never told her that. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I was stunned.  I looked at her and I said, who would ever tell you that? 


ABRAMS:  So she says that Kelley got it wrong.  Should she sue her? 

Will she?  We‘ll debate.


ABRAMS:  Want to update you on some developments in the war on terror starting with this surveillance video of another terrorist atrocity, last week‘s suicide bombing attack—wow—on Australia‘s embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia.  On tape the moment the terrorists detonated the bomb in a minivan killing at least nine people and wounding 182.  Indonesian police now say they found the van‘s I.D. number and hope the evidence will lead them to the people behind the killer. 

An Indonesian al Qaeda affiliate has already said it‘s responsible.  Police say they‘re afraid another cell from that group could be preparing a follow-up attack.  There are some good news and some bad news for the man who may have been prepped to help the 9/11 hijackers, Zacarias Moussaoui.  The bad news for him—a Virginia appeals court has overruled a lower court and said that federal prosecutors can present their full case including video of the 9/11 attacks and seek the death penalty against Moussaoui. 

Attorney General Ashcroft says the ruling affirms our belief that the government can provide Zacarias Moussaoui with a fair trial while still protecting national security interest.  The good news for Moussaoui—he can now send questions to high value al Qaeda prisoners in U.S. custody.  People like 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who‘s allegedly said Moussaoui had nothing to do with the attacks. 

Even so, Moussaoui‘s court appointed lawyers say they‘re unhappy because the government will have a hand in which statements can be used in Moussaoui‘s defense.  His attorney, Frank McMahon (ph), says this is a disappointment.  A capital case is not the place to experiment with new rules of evidence. 

Coming up, a new book says President Bush used cocaine at Camp David when his father was in the White House.  And its author Kitty Kelley claims Sharon Bush told her so.  But Sharon Bush says it didn‘t happen.  The question—will she sue Kelley, and if not, why not? 

Plus, we hear harsh words from the father of the boy who accused Michael Jackson of sexual abuse in 1993.  There are new audiotapes. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Michael Jackson is the devil in God‘s clothes.


ABRAMS:  The boy‘s uncle, Ray Chandler, join us with his account of the alleged abuse. 

Your e-mails abramsreport@msnbc.com.  I read them at the end of the show.  Please include your name and where you‘re writing from.


ABRAMS:  Coming up, Kitty Kelley is out with a new book on the Bush family.  She says according to a former Bush sister-in-law the now president snorted cocaine at Camp David while his dad was in office.  Sharon Bush denies ever saying that.  Will she sue, and if not, why not, but first the headlines.


ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  Kitty Kelley has written unauthorized biographies before on Frank Sinatra, the royal family in England, Nancy Reagan.  And her new book set to hit bookstands tomorrow takes aim at a new dynasty, the Bush family.  The book is called “The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty” and like Kelley‘s other books, it is already stirring up a lot of controversy. 

Kelley makes some pretty serious allegations about members of the Bush family, claiming the first President Bush had affairs with several women, that the family use connections to get George W. Bush into the National Guard and to keep him out of Vietnam.  In one part of the book she writes George‘s sister-in-law Sharon Bush alleged that George W. had snorted cocaine with one of his brothers at Camp David during the time their father was president of the United States.  Not once, she said, but many times. 

On the “Today” Show this morning Kelley told NBC‘s Matt Lauer that Sharon Bush, the ex-wife of President Bush‘s brother Neil told her that story over lunch two years ago and says another witness was there who backs her up. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So you‘re—you want us to believe that two years after that change in his life, he is doing cocaine at Camp David.  How many sources do you have on that...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The second source on this is Sharon Bush. 

KELLEY:  She‘s not a source.  She confirmed it for me. 


ABRAMS:  But Sharon Bush also appearing on the “Today” Show denied ever telling Kelley that story. 


SHARON BUSH, DENIES BEING A SOURCE TO KELLEY‘S BOOK:  I never saw the use of cocaine and I am sticking by it.  I mean I have to set the record straight. 


ABRAMS:  Kitty Kelley stands behind her information and says she has very high standards for sources. 


KELLEY:  My standards are my standards.  I write books the same way every good reporter writes book, and that is to abide by the laws of libel and the laws of invasion of privacy. 


ABRAMS:  Well, many have now found it‘s not easy to prove a libel suit against her.  In 1986, Frank Sinatra tried to sue Kelley for misrepresentation alleging she led her sources to believe she had his cooperation in writing her book “My Way”.  He later dropped the suit.  Sinatra‘s attorney Mickey Rudin also tried unsuccessfully to Kelley twice, once the Sinatra book and the second time over Kelley‘s biography of Nancy Reagan.  Both suits were thrown out. 

These are some serious allegations against the president and the Bush family.  Question:  Should Sharon Bush sue?  Should the president sue and why might they choose not to? 

“My Take”—this is one hot potato.  Neither the Bush or Kerry camps want to touch it.  Why?  Because it‘s so inflammatory and Kelley has been challenged for accuracy in the past.  But I predict there will be no lawsuits that will make it to trial in connection with this book. 

But joining me now to discuss First Amendment attorney Chip Babcock and litigator and federal election attorney Jason Levine thinks Sharon Bush could have a good case for a lawsuit. 

All right, Mr. Levine, let me start with you.  How would this work in terms of a lawsuit?  Would it be George Bush filing it?  Would it be Sharon Bush filing it?  And do you think it‘s going to happen? 

JASON LEVINE, LITIGATOR:  Well Dan, I think it would be Sharon Bush filing the lawsuit.  It would be hard to believe that a sitting president of the United States would file a libel campaign suit during a campaign season or regarding something said during campaign season.

However, Ms. Bush herself could have a viable liable campaign if, as she claims, Kitty Kelley has falsely ascribed statements to her in this book that she in fact did not make.  That whether Ms. Bush is considered a public figure or a private figure, which are two different types of plaintiffs in a libel suit, could very well be good grounds for a claim against Ms. Kelley.

ABRAMS:  You know Chip, a lot of people see these kinds of cases and they say wait a second, is it true or not true?  And that‘s one of the questions, right, just one.


ABRAMS:  There‘s more to it than that. 

BABCOCK:  Oh yes.  I mean in Sharon‘s case, her claim, I guess, what‘s anticipated would be very similar to the one that Mickey Rudin filed against Kitty Kelley where he said that he was listed as a source in her book about Nancy Reagan, but he wasn‘t.  That case was dismissed on the issue of damages.  The court said as a matter of libel, he didn‘t suffer any damages. 

Here, not only do they have to get over the truth issue, but also probably actual malice, maybe negligence and then they‘ve got to get to damages and then they have to deal with privileges.  It‘s not a case that‘s likely to see trial, as you say.

LEVINE:  And...

ABRAMS:  Go ahead Jason.

LEVINE:  Dan, if I may, on the question of damages, the very last case the U.S. Supreme Court took up regarding defamation law, a case called Masson v. “New Yorker” Magazine, specifically dealt with the question of whether someone could claim that he had been libeled based on falsely attributed quotes or misstatements that purported to be quotes that were published in the “New Yorker” magazine article.  And the Supreme Court made quite clear in its decision that one can in fact be defamed by and claim damages that give rise to a defamation suit for false quotes. 

ABRAMS:  Here‘s Kitty Kelley—sorry, here‘s Sharon Bush answering the question from Matt Lauer about this very issue. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If you are listed in the book as a source, which you are, will you take legal action against Kitty Kelley? 

BUSH:  I am talking to my lawyer, David Brogue (ph) right now.  I have a fabulous lawyer, so we‘re talking about it. 


ABRAMS:  I mean Mr. Levine, do you actually believe that she‘s going to sue?  I know you are saying that she could have a lawsuit.  Let‘s assume for a moment everything she is saying is true.  Is she still going to go forward and file that lawsuit?

LEVINE:  I, of course, haven‘t spoken with Ms. Bush...

ABRAMS:  Right.

LEVINE:  ... or her attorney, so I don‘t know what‘s in her heart on that matter.  The one reason—the prominent reason for her possibly not going forward with a lawsuit would be she that does not desire possibly to get dragged into a long, potentially drawn out lawsuit conceivably involving her having to testify at trial and be cross-examined about her personal reputation because what would be ultimately at stake here is whether her reputation has been damaged in a way that could give rise to the claim that she‘s make and she may not want to have to go through a lawsuit of that sort.  So, it‘s very likely or at least very possible that she will not ultimately file this lawsuit. 

ABRAMS:  Here is Kitty Kelley talking about possible litigation. 


KELLEY:  This book has been vetted by four sets of lawyers, including the chief counsel of Random House. 


ABRAMS:  All right, Chip, you represent a lot of media organizations.  You get Kitty Kelley in your office, right, and she‘s publishing a book, and you‘re told to come in and make sure she‘s not going to get sued.  You see what she‘s saying here...


ABRAMS:  ... with these inflammatory comments, what do you demand from her to prove to you before you say, yes go ahead with this and yes, we‘ll pay for a legal defense.

BABCOCK:  Well, you‘d want to know a lot about her sources and I understand that one of the sources on this drug is a confidential source, but that the lawyers know who it is and they have identified that person.  You want to know about that.  You want to be sure that you can prove in court that the allegations that are being made were, in fact, made.  And if you can prove that, then you‘re probably OK in a public official libel suit if the president is the plaintiff. 

ABRAMS:  And they do say, I mean you know Random House standing by her saying that they have—you know there was another person there present when some of the conversations were taking place.  What about, though—

Mr. Levine, what about George Bush?  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) let‘s put aside the issue of the campaign, all right...

LEVINE:  Right.

ABRAMS:  Let‘s assume it‘s after the campaign for a moment, I‘m sorry, but accusing someone of drug use as a prominent person—quote—

“snorting cocaine”, I mean it seems to me that, all right, I agree with you, you can‘t move forward in a campaign and start suing someone, but let‘s talk about after the campaign.  If the president‘s people came to you and they said, look, the campaign is over.  We couldn‘t do anything then.

We‘re furious about this.  This is simply untrue.  This never happened.  You know they say it happened in Camp David.  We can prove for X, Y, Z reason it never happened.  Do you still recommend to them not to sue? 

LEVINE:  Well, of course, if the president is re-elected, I would certainly suspect that he would not sue and that this issue would not come up again...

ABRAMS:  Why? 

LEVINE:  Well because for political reasons, first, it would be incredibly unseemly for a sitting president to be filing a libel lawsuit regarding these sorts of allegations.  They are in essence beneath the dignity of the president and beneath the dignity of the White House to have to address.

And I think that that‘s the message that‘s been conveyed by Dan Bartlett and other White House spokesmen who have addressed the issue.  The campaign is likely to move on past these matters assuming the media allow it to and not address them again.  If Mr. Bush were not re-elected, I further doubt in any event that he would ever file a lawsuit regarding these matters, again, because they are beneath him to have to address and he would simply seek to move on and put them behind him. 

ABRAMS:  Chip, last 20 seconds, do you agree? 

BABCOCK:  Yes, I do.  I think the president has got a pretty thick skin.  Lloyd Bentsen told Michael Dukakis in the ‘88 campaign that in Texas politics is a contact sport and I hear the president is from Texas.  So...

ABRAMS:  Chip Babcock and Jason Levine, thanks a lot for coming on the program. 

BABCOCK:  You bet Dan.

ABRAMS:  Appreciate it. 

LEVINE:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, new details about the first time Michael Jackson was investigated for abusing a boy.  The investigation stopped because Jackson settled with the boy‘s family for a reported $25 million.  Now his uncle has written a book about all the ordeal, laying out all the nitty-gritty details.  We‘ll talk to him live after this.

And James Carville is known for his big mouth and his Democratic politics.  Now some media critics say he shouldn‘t be working for CNN while also advising the Kerry campaign.  I‘ll tell you why that makes no sense to me.  It‘s my “Closing Argument”.


ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  Just days before the mother of the accuser in the case against Michael Jackson is expected to take the stand in a pretrial hearing, more alleged details out today about the pop star‘s relationship with the boy that started it all more than a decade ago in a new tell-all book.  The spotlight is back on that case. 

The uncle of the ‘93 accuser accounts details about Jackson‘s alleged abduction and molestation of the boy and his family.  Raymond Chandler says he based his book on audiotapes he says he recorded back in December of 1993.  On them the father of Jackson‘s accuser tells his brother his impression of Jackson. 


BOY‘S FATHER:  But Michael is as clever and brilliant as you can get and I think he‘s extremely intelligent.

CHANDLER:  Well that‘s what the devil really is.




CHANDLER:  ... acts like God but fools you. 

BOY‘S FATHER:  Michael Jackson is the devil in God‘s clothes.


ABRAMS:  Then in another point, he expresses some regret for not putting an end to the alleged molestation sooner. 


BOY‘S FATHER:  I‘m just beginning to see right now as we speak these things were all nagging me, but I‘m not taking any action based on them... 

CHANDLER:  Well because no one side is strong enough to cause you to act on it. 


BOY‘S FATHER:  So somebody might fault me for not having put a stop to it right then and there. 

CHANDLER:  Absolutely.

BOY‘S FATHER:  OK.  And maybe I was wrong.  You know in retrospect obviously I was...


ABRAMS:  The case eventually settled for about $25 million.  Jackson has always maintained his innocence and has denied every molesting a child. 


MICHAEL JACKSON, ACCUSED OF MOLESTING A CHILD:  There have been many disgusting statements made recently concerning allegations of improper conduct on my part.  These statements about me are totally false.  As I have maintained from the very beginning, I am hoping for a speedy end to this horrifying, horrifying experience to which I have been subjected. 


ABRAMS:  “My Take”—the timing of the book a bit suspicious here, but I have always said that you don‘t settle for $25 million for nothing. 

Joining me is Raymond Chandler, uncle of the then-13-year-old boy who accused Michael Jackson of sexual abuse in 1993 and author of the new book out today “All that Glitters: The Crime and the Cover-Up.”  Thanks very much for coming on the program.


ABRAMS:  Timing, why now?  You know people are going to say, come on, middle of the criminal case, suddenly you‘re airing the dirty laundry about the ‘93 case? 

CHANDLER:  Sure.  Actually, I came to New York in ‘94 to try to publish this and it got into the newspapers and my family and their attorney at the time who represented my nephew called me up and we had long conversations and they convinced me not to do it at that point in time.  In fact, the attorney said look, if I can‘t get you not to do it, at least hold off for a year or two.

Well, it‘s many years later, but what sparked it off for me again is not Jackson‘s arrest.  It was actually in February 2003 when he did that Martin Bashir piece and there is what turned out to be this accuser with his head on his lap, holding hands and Michael saying what‘s wrong with sharing your bed and that‘s what got me going again on this whole thing. 

ABRAMS:  Give us some of the details of how you and your brother, I guess, became convinced that Michael Jackson was abusing the boy. 

CHANDLER:  Well, by the time I came on the scene, the authorities were already involved. 

ABRAMS:  Your brother. 

CHANDLER:  Right.  Well, he noticed—at first what he noticed was his only—his son‘s personality changing.  He was becoming a little clone of Michael wearing the same clothes, having a speech that they shared that no one else understood, giving up his friends, and this seemed to be very, very odd and not healthy.  And then there came a point when he found out that Jackson was actually sleeping in the boy‘s bed. 

ABRAMS:  How did he find that out? 

CHANDLER:  Well...

ABRAMS:  He walked in, right? 

CHANDLER:  Well in his own home he walked in, but he thought what was going on—in his own home there were two children sleeping in the room with bunk beds and Jackson was in a separate bed.  At this point in time he did not know that when the boy was with his mother who had custody traveling around the world that Jackson was actually sleeping alone in the bedroom with the boy every night.  This has gone on for months, so he didn‘t know that at that point. 

ABRAMS:  Let me play audio number one here and then I want to ask you a question about the tape. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I was taken in by him when I met him because of who I thought he was, which was an asexual, kind, loving, generous, humble genius.


ABRAMS:  Now, I know you don‘t really have an ongoing relationship anymore with your brother...

CHANDLER:  That‘s correct. 

ABRAMS:  OK.  But you know you listen to that tape and say to yourself, come on, as a parent, you know here he‘s talking about him being taken in by him and as a result his kid is getting molested?  I mean you know there is something to say you know what was the father doing in all this time? 

CHANDLER:  Well, actually, as I explain in my book, it was the mother who had custody of the boy and the mother who encouraged the relationship for months and months and months and months.  It wasn‘t until near the end of that period when the father actually discovered what was going on.  And when he did discover it, he made every effort to get the relationship stopped with the mother, but you are right.  You know, how does anyone get taken in?  Many of us got taken in.  We all believed who Michael Jackson was.  That he was the image we thought he was. 

ABRAMS:  And then he decided there would be a big payoff.  I mean let‘s go to number six here if we can because here you hear the boy‘s father talking about the possibility of winning a lot of money from this.  Let‘s listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If I go through with this, I win big time.  There‘s no way that I lose.  I will get everything I want and they will be totally—they will be destroyed forever.


ABRAMS:  Is he talking about money?

CHANDLER:  No, he‘s not...


CHANDLER:  That was taken out of context by many people who wrote things for Jackson.  And if you listen to the tape, which is on my Web site, allthatglittersbook.com, you can see that what—he‘s asked by the other person on the tape, when you say winning, what do you mean by winning?  And he says I will win custody and she will never be able to see him again.  And he goes on talking about going to court, taking the witness stand, having experts involved. 

ABRAMS:  Let me just read a statement from Michael Jackson. 


ABRAMS:  This is “E”.  It is unfortunate that yet again—this is just from a few weeks ago—I must respond to untruths (UNINTELLIGIBLE).  Years ago I settled with certain individuals, because I was concerned about my family and the media scrutiny that would have ensued if I had fought the matter in court.  These people want to exploit my concern for children by threatening to destroy what I believe in and what I do.  I have been a vulnerable target for those who want money.

You know, it was a lot of money. 

CHANDLER:  It was a lot of money, yes.  The evidence against Jackson in the ‘93 case was overwhelming.  They had...

ABRAMS:  Why did they drop out?  I mean...

CHANDLER:  Who dropped out?

ABRAMS:  ...why did the boy drop out and his family...

CHANDLER:  He didn‘t.  It‘s a civil case. 

ABRAMS:  I‘m talking about the criminal case. 

CHANDLER:  Oh, when they settled the civil case in January of ‘94, the D.A. had never even come to them yet.  He didn‘t come to the family until May of ‘94, five months later and say, OK, we‘re ready to charge now. 

ABRAMS:  But they had been investigating.  They knew that there was an ongoing investigation.  I mean the family...


ABRAMS:  ... the family must have known...

CHANDLER:  Oh sure.

ABRAMS:  ... there was an ongoing criminal investigation. 

CHANDLER:  They did.  Absolutely. 

ABRAMS:  Right.  And so rather than sort of moving forward with a criminal investigation, instead they go to civil court and settle for money. 

CHANDLER:  No.  But as you know, the family has no power to bring a charge.  The ongoing criminal investigation is up to the district attorney. 

ABRAMS:  But if they then settle civilly and they withdraw their assistance in the criminal case and say look, we‘re done, we‘re finished, the criminal case is going away.

CHANDLER:  Another myth.  The family agreed to testify five months later in the criminal case, but because of the death threats which were very serious—I was down there and I heard them and I can tell you we were all armed to the teeth the entire family never went out without pistols.  That is how serious it was.  They made a request to the district attorney we want to be in the witness protection program.  We will testify if you put us in the witness protection program.  It was denied and that‘s what they said.  I am not putting my family in that kind of danger. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Ray Chandler thanks very much.  The—again, the name of the book is—tell me the name of the book again. 

CHANDLER:  It‘s “All That Glitters”...

ABRAMS:  “All That Glitters”, there it is, “The Crime and The Cover-Up” by Raymond Chandler.  Thanks very much.

CHANDLER:  Thank you very much, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, why I think critics are missing the point complaining about CNN‘s James Carville and Paul Began serving as unpaid advisers to the Kerry campaign.  It‘s my “Closing Argument”.


ABRAMS:  Coming up, Begala and Carville, you know the two liberals on CNN?  Well now people are saying it‘s time for them to step down because they‘re advising the Kerry campaign.  I‘ll tell you why they shouldn‘t, and it has nothing to do with politics. 


ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument”—the brouhaha over CNN‘s James Carville and Paul Begala serving as unpaid advisers to the Kerry campaign while the chorus of complainers are missing the point by focusing on politics rather than the real issue—honesty, disclosure, and keeping your trust.  Some media critics have said or suggested that Begala and Carville should leave their posts at CNN until after the election, that having them advising Kerry detracts from CNN‘s credibility and that it‘s a violation of journalistic ethics.  Well, there is no question if they claim to be objective voices reporters or anchors, it would be a huge problem, but they don‘t.  They admit they‘re partisans. 

They‘re identified as taking the left or liberal position.  You know where they stand.  They are being honest with you.  Our own Joe Scarborough was prominently featured at a Bush fundraiser recently.  Again, no problem, he‘s identified on the air as a Republican—former Republican congressman.  There is no concern he‘s being mistaken for an objective newsreader.  Same applies to Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes over at Fox.  Why should anyone care that Hannity helped raise money for Republicans or if Colmes does the same for Democrats?

Fox commentator Bill O‘Reilly writes that this is evidence of the—quote—“collapse of CNN‘s ethical standards.”  That if he, O‘Reilly, -- quote—“signed on with Bush/Cheney 2004 the media mob would have stormed the Fox castle.”  That‘s true but only because O‘Reilly says he‘s objective.  He bristles anytime he‘s accused of being conservative or as he puts it, one of the right-wing bullyboys from Fox. 

For him to advise Bush would belie his assertions to his viewers.  Journalistic efforts are designed to keep your trust, to avoid misleading you.  It‘s for that reason I try to tell you my take at the top of just about every opinion based story.  I want you to know where I stand to allow you to better assess the story we‘re discussing.  Maybe I give you more credit than some do.  I believe you know where James Carville and Sean Hannity stand on the issues. 

They parade their bias proudly.  I‘m afraid that politics and media rivalry are leading many to misunderstand bias.  As long as you‘re honest and up front about it, bias is just an opinion. 

I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  We debated the new members uncovered by CBS allegedly that came from a superior officer who wrote that President Bush failed to obey an order while in the Air National Guard and used family connections to try to cover up an investigation.  Well now some saying the document is a fake. 

As always, the hard-core partisans coming at me from both sides because maybe I‘m just too fair.  April Ramsey from Ohio, “You and your left wing guest can play dumb all you want.  Can‘t you and your guest at least be honest and admit that CBS does have an incentive for reporting a negative story using forged documents to defile President Bush?”

And on the other side, Barbara Spier writes, “You really don‘t have a speck of integrity to sit there and attack CBS‘ story on George W. Bush and talk about ethics in journalism and checking out facts, but not question that hack from the American Spectator who spent millions attacking President Clinton.”

All right.  Every time, you guys—thanks for the insults.  You know just kidding.  Thanks for all your letters.  See you tomorrow. 


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