updated 10/22/2004 10:28:06 AM ET 2004-10-22T14:28:06

Guest: Karen Tumulty, Linda Kenney, Tom O‘Neil, Robert Scheer

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALISON STEWART, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?  A dozen days out, not only is it a dead heat but now there‘s a dead goose.  John Kerry proves that Democrats can hunt, especially for votes in Ohio.  And President Bush hits the Keystone State again. 

Plus, how to win an election the day after the election.  Each side‘s post-November 2 plans to call the race in their favor if the vote is too close to call. 

More dirty talking points.  The accuser‘s latest interview and a new court date to see if the alleged naughty conversations were caught on tape. 

Selling soap on sex in the suburbs.  The trouble some companies have with buying ads during the runaway hit “Desperate Housewives.” 

And the fall of a dictator.  Fidel hits the deck.  All that and more now on COUNTDOWN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STEWART:  And good evening to you.  I‘m Alison Stewart in for Keith Olbermann.  This is Thursday, October 21.  12 days until the presidential election.  Now, Herbert Hoover may have promised a chicken in every pot, but this particular day, during this particular campaign may instead be remembered for a goose in every gun rack. 

While we‘re on the topic of cooked geese, the latest developments of the O‘Reilly case along shortly but first our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, campaign camouflage, literally worn by the Democrat challenger and pollapalooza (ph) a little bit like Groundhog Day.  However a few show some voters seem open to change in the White House. 

Senator Kerry, up three points in the new Associated Press poll.  Still within the margin of error.  President Bush, taking a slight lead in the two major daily tracking polls.  Up one in Reuters/Zogby, 46-45, up six in the “Washington Post”/Sunset poll.  That‘s coast to coast.  Now to our own handicapping of the blue battleground states won by the Democrats end of 2000.  Iowa running Republican red.  Mr. Bush up six in the new MSNBC poll.  Formerly blue, Wisconsin is kind of purple.  It‘s a tie there at 45 apiece.  While in the other three states surveyed, Senator Kerry leading by one across the board. 

Michigan, Oregon, Pennsylvania, yet the divided electorate, pessimistic about where the country is headed in all five states.  Especially in Pennsylvania, where half say the country is on the wrong track. 

The president, doing track work, stumping hard in Pennsylvania today.  It was his 40th visit to the Keystone State since taking office.  As many trips as he‘s made to his beloved Crawford, Texas.  One more trip to Pennsylvania and perhaps he can claim residency to vote.  Don‘t give anybody any ideas.  We at COUNTDOWN know he has the OB-GYN vote all locked up. 

Raising the subject of liability insurance premiums once again today in an attempt to court female voters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  When a mother‘s looking forward to having a baby, the last thing she needs is uncertainty about her health care.  For the sake of women and families across this state and this country, we need medical liability reform. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART:  A different approach in a different setting today in an interview with our sister network, Telemundo, the president emphasized his strength as delegator in chief. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  It‘s very important for people to know that I listen to very smart capable people.  Colin Powell, Condi Rice, Don Rumsfeld, Vice President Cheney, Alberto Gonzalez, my lawyer.  I‘ve got really smart people here.  And I listen to them.  As I make a decision, you know, I listen. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART:  As for the other guy, campaigning right now in another one of those blue states, Minnesota.  Senator John Kerry talking to voters in Minneapolis.  He began his day in neighboring Ohio.  In just a moment, the early morning photo op that jumpstarted his day.  But first, one of the more poignant moments of the campaign trail, a place rarely noted for its dignified behavior.  Christopher Reeve‘s widow, Dana Reeve joining Kerry at an event in Columbus only 11 days after her husband‘s death.  She said it was her idea.  And then she endorsed Kerry because of his support for stem cell research.  The senator says the president has turned his back on science to appease corporate benefactors.  Dana Reeve saying her late husband would have wanted her out on the campaign trail. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANA REEVE, WIFE OF LATE CHRISTOPHER REEVE:  Chris could breathe off his ventilator for hours at a time, thanks to science and scientists taking bold steps.  Chris understood that all journeys begin with a single step, and to take that first step, one needs hope. 

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  You really get this feeling that if George Bush had been president during other periods of American history, he would have sided with the candle lobby against electricity.  He would have been with the buggymakers against the cars.  And the typewriter companies against the computers. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART:  Now, undecided voters were not the only thing Senator Kerry hoped to bag on the campaign trail, though they at least would have made it through the day unharmed.  Not so for some swing state poultry.  PETA members, this story is not for you. 

Mr. Kerry, donning some camo, and bagging a goose on an early morning hunting trip in Ohio.  His real target, of course, gun-owning voters.  Please take note, someone else can be seen carrying Kerry‘s bird.  Mr.  Kerry joking that he was too lazy to do it himself, still giddy over the Red Sox win and that he couldn‘t focus and we all know dead poultry requires undivided attention. 

Vice President Dick Cheney taking aim at his fellow hunter today on his very own campaign swing through Ohio.  Mr. Cheney was heard saying it‘s going to take more than a goose to give Kerry any NRA street cred. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT:  My personal opinion is that his new camo jacket is an October disguise, an effort he‘s making to hide the fact that he votes against gun-owner rights at every turn.  But my fellow sportsmen this cover-up is not going to work because you and I know the second amendment is more than just a photo opportunity. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART:  The NRA itself joining Cheney‘s call by taking out a full-page ad in an Ohio newspaper.  No word from Supreme Court Justice Anton Scalia on whether he is planning to hunt with Senator Kerry anytime soon. 

Here to help us sort through all the day‘s events on the campaign trail and what the next 12 days just might bring, Karen Tumulty, the national correspondent for “TIME” magazine.  Thanks for spending part of your evening with us tonight. 

KAREN TUMULTY, “TIME” MAGAZINE:  Hi, Alison. 

STEWART:  So President Bush, 40 visits to Pennsylvania.  That‘s from the beginning of his presidency, 15 during this campaign.  Where‘s he been, what‘s he saying and why? 

TUMULTY:  Pennsylvania is one of the big three states of the battleground states.  The idea is—an article of faith with both parties that Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida, if you can manage to win two of those states you‘ve won the election.  And it‘s a state where President Bush is consistently trailing John Kerry these days in the polls.  So he does obviously feel that he has some work to do in that state. 

STEWART:  And clearly he‘s known this since the beginning of this presidency, 40 times since the beginning. 

TUMULTY:  Absolutely.  But of course, Pennsylvania is going to have another big name visitor on Monday when president Clinton, former president Clinton comes out and makes his first public appearance since his heart surgery.  And that‘s likely to cause a great sensation in the news and probably could move some poll numbers as well in Pennsylvania. 

STEWART:  And it will be the ultimate photo op.  While we‘re on the subject of photo ops, let‘s talk this morning and Senator Kerry and all that camo gear, hunting geese.  We know the NRA is clearly endorsing President Bush.  Why the camo photo op? 

TUMULTY:  It‘s because the NRA does more than endorse candidates.  It is really one of the most—has got one of the most effective “get out the vote” operations of any independent private organization.  And it is—

Democrats, for instance, believe that the reason Al Gore lost West Virginia was gun owners.  And also the NRA has made strong appeals with, for instance, gun-owning union members leafletting at factories of union members saying, you know, this is a candidate who would take away your guns. 

So John Kerry is trying to send a very, very powerful message to gun owners in particular, and also there‘s the other theme that his spokesman, Mike McCurry was very up front out today, which is trying to put across an image of a regular guy.  A lot of people in those swing states are going to relate far more to a candidate with a gun draped over his arm like we just saw than the windsurfing guy that they saw in August. 

STEWART:  Trying to get all of those images of Nantucket and the whale pants and the like.  Today, John Kerry got the endorsement of Christopher Reeve‘s wife.  Is this a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) news event or do you think this going to have some sort of leg that we‘re talking obviously about stem cell research in the next 12 days. 

TUMULTY:  Stem cell research is an issue that seems to be growing in importance.  And it‘s growing in importance in particular to swing voters and In particular women swing voters.  So this was a very big pitch on his part to have those, that little sliver of the electorate that‘s still up for grabs. 

STEWART:  Karen Tumulty of “TIME” magazine, thanks for spending part of your evening with us. 

As Karen mentioned, Bill Clinton is reportedly ready to leave his sick bed to campaign for John Kerry but that‘s not all.  According to United Press International, the former president may have his sights set on a higher goal.  A Clinton insider and a senior U.N. source told the U.P.I.  the 56-year-old former president wants to be the first American to hold the post of United Nations secretary general when Kofi Annan‘s term ends early in 2006.  “He definitely want to do it” the source says, to galvanize the organization and restore its credibility in the world.  Clinton would be likely to receive overwhelming support from U.N. Member states but could face resistance from the U.S. if President Bush is elected to a second term. 

Now, in most days the war on terror can be found front and center in this campaign.  Instead tonight, there are charges the Bush administration is trying to hide a damaging CIA.  Report by not releasing it until after the election.  The report is said to be the first to name names, assessing blame within the CIA for the intelligence failure that led to the 9/11 attacks.  The report was prepared in response to a request from Congress. 

But two years later, law make verse yet to even see the report. 

Intelligence officials say that‘s because they‘re not done with it yet.  Officials on capitol hill say they were told it was actually finished this summer.  Not a single employee at the CIA or FBI has been fired or face disciplinary action in connection with the 9/11 attacks.

“Los Angeles Times” op-ed columnist Robert Scheer broke the story and he‘s kind enough to join us tonight.  Robert, many thanks for your time.  Tell me, what is in this report that has one group wanting it badly, seen and the other group wanting it delayed. 

ROBERT SCHEER, “LOS ANGELES TIMES”:  First of all, as most—I haven‘t seen the report, nor has Congress.  What we know about the report is that the inspector general of the CIA was mandated by Congress to do an independent study of what happened before 9/11.  And we know that 11 people in the CIA worked for 17 months on this report.  They completed it in June and the CIA has been sitting on it since June.  And it goes to the heart of the matter, what did this administration do before 9/11 as opposed to the reports up to now.  It names names, it traces responsibilities to higher circles, and it finds, as I‘ve been told by people who have seen it, that it finds that people are culpable on a very high level, and it names names. 

And I think what‘s going to happen is this is going to come out three or four weeks after the election and people are going to say why don‘t we get to see this before we got to vote? 

Since terrorism is the big issue in this election, why don‘t we get to see the study about how the administration behaved before 9/11 and what it did to cover up after 9/11. 

STEWART:  Who does it pose the most difficulties?  Is it for President Bush, is it for the CIA, is it for Porter Goss, the new head of the CIA? 

SCHEER:  Well, Porter Goss, is a Bush appointee who‘s new head of the CIA.  But he was a Republican Congressman.  He was the head of the House Intelligence Committee.  He knows that Congress mandated this report.  And he knows the inspector general of the CIA is an independent auditor.  The CIA director has no right to hold back this report from Congress.  If he thought it involved national security, he had a responsibility to say so within seven days of reading that report.  He didn‘t do that, and they‘re stalling.  And I would say, yes, Porter Goss is a political appointee of the president, is acting as the Bush‘s handyman in this work in delaying the report.  As I understand it, from people on the inside of this, there‘s absolutely no reason to stall this report.  It was done at the end of June.  It is an independent audit.  It names names, it goes very high up in the administration.  And the public has a right to see it.  And I mean, for the public sees it, certainly the Congressional Intelligence Committees, which have national security clearances have a right to see it. 

STEWART:  I‘m sure there‘s some who say it would pose any sort of security concern. 

SCHEER:  Well, no.  Because you see, the CIA inspector general prepared the report.  It was done at the end of June.  Then as the way the law work, the CIA director is supposed to decide if there‘s a national security risk.  And if they decide that, they say—they have to announce it within seven days.  They have not done that.  They say well, it needs more study.  It need a redrafting.  They‘re not supposed to do that. 

This is not supposed to whitewash the CIA, this is supposed to tell us what happened.  This is the greatest tragedy in American history, and we still know very little about how—was there a breach of security?  Why were these people able to get into the country so easily.  Who are the individuals responsible.  Not one individual has been held responsible for be—for failing to protect our nation. 

This is an independent audit by the CIA, demanded by Congress two years ago.  And now we‘re sitting here, the report was completed in June, we‘re sitting here as November approaches and that report is being—is buried.  And the—Peter Goss—Porter Goss can turn that report over tomorrow morning if he wants to Congress. And I think the public should demand that it be turned over.

STEWART:  Robert Scheer, you raised some excellent questions and we thank you fur your time tonight.  L.A. columnist, Robert Scheer, we appreciate it.

Moving to Iraq today, the highest ranking soldier charged with abuse at Abu Ghraib Prison got eight years in prison for the crime.  Staff Sargent Ivan Frederick, pleaded guilty, but blamed his chain of command, saying he received no training or support and he‘s agreed to testify against other alleged abusers.  Frederick admitted to forcing prisoners to masturbate publicly and later piling them into a naked human pyramid. 

He also hooked wires on a detainee and told him to stand still or else he would be electrocuted.  Frederick, says he took many of the now infamous abuse photos “just to take back home.” Before the 2000 recount, the candidates election night plans consisted of where to watch results and who‘s catering the party.  Oh how things have changed. 

And later, Bill O‘Reilly‘s abuser Andrea Mackris speaks out about the case, the negations and what her dad would like to do with her former boss. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEWART:  In an election full of military catch phrases, from George Bush‘s freedom is on the march, to John Kerry‘s reporting for duty, it‘s no surprise to find out both parties already have a strategy in place for November 3, never retreat, never surrender. 

Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN tonight, recon for a recount.  Regardless of close poll results, John Kerry‘s advisers say he will decisively declare victory on election night and defend his position.  He is also preparing to name a national security team, even while the president is up for grabs. 

In short, team Kerry‘s motto: is don‘t make Al Gore‘s mistakes. 

Back in 2000, Gore called President Bush and congratulated him and concede the election.  He later retracted after it was clear that Florida wasn‘t definitely in Republican hands.  A strategy that advisers say created an inevitable sense of defeat. 

Now, the Bush camp hasn‘t divulged its tactics for election night, but it has stepped up battle preps on the legal front.  As Chip Reid reports tonight, both campaigns have now enlisted a battalion of lawyers poised and ready to strike. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHIP REID, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the early voters are already at the polls and so are the lawyers;  volunteers like Patrick Scott with the kerry campaign. 

PATRICK SCOTT, KERRY VOLUNTEER:  We‘re here to help assure that people who are properly registered will get to vote. 

REID:  The lawyers can‘t coach voters, but may answer questions about the law and file objections if they believe the rules have been violated. 

(on camera):  This is no small-time legal operation.  In fact, there‘s never been anything like it.  The Democrats hope to have 10,000 lawyers available nationwide on election day, as many of 2,000 of them could be right here in Florida. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Because you are the last defense.  You are what helps a voter, what empowers a voter have their vote cast and counted. 

REID (voice-over):  The lawyers are trained in election law, then sent to battleground states across the nation.  Most will be poll watchers, but the Democrats will also have 6 so-called SWAT teams, experienced litigators ready to deploy by private jet to election day trouble spots. 

Critics say so many lawyers will only increase the odds of turning this presidential election into a another courtroom drama. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is the election that defines our generation. 

REID:  But Steve Zach, head of the Democrat‘s Florida legal team says it‘s better to get legal problems ironed out now than after election day. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t think anyone in this country, anyone in this country really wants to see this decided again by the courts and the lawyers, that‘s not the purpose of an election.  The purpose of an election is to elect a president by the citizens. 

REID:  Lawyers for the Bush campaign are also preparing for the possibility of another round of legal combat. 

BARRY RICHARD, BUSH CAMPAIGN:  I think there will be litigation.  I think there will probably be lawsuits filed after the election.  There probably will be issues that arise during the election that we can‘t even foresee now. 

REID:  Doug Chapmin (ph) is with the nonpartisan group electionline.org. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, we could have a Florida times 3, 5 or 5 in the weeks following election day. 

REID:  That would be the nightmare scenario, he says, unlikely, but possible, because so many lawyers are looking for problems.  Chip Reid, NBC News, Fort Lauderdale.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STEWART:  Now lawyers aren‘t the only ones interested in voter turnout this year.  A Web site dedicated to getting out the vote is hoping that where civic virtue fails, lust will succeed.  Votergasm is asking Americans to gird their loins against nonvoters.  There are 3 pledges you could take.  Citizen pledge to withhold sex from nonvoters for a week.  Patriots pledge the same, but agree to sleep with an actual voter on election night.  And American Heroes promise to sleep with a voter on November 2 and withhold sexual favors from all nonvoters until 2008. 

The Web site says 30,000 people have already signed up. 

Cuba‘s dictator doesn‘t have to worry about things like elections, but he does have to worry about those steps.  MSNBC‘s live continuing coverage of the fall of a dictator continues live on Oddball.  Did we mention we‘re live?

And high expectations for tomorrow‘s first legal battle in the Bill O‘reilly-Andrea Mackris harassment case will have to be put on hold.  Rats.  This is COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEWART:  Allison Stewart in for Keith Olbermann.  And we‘ve reached the point in the show where we take a break from the COUNTDOWN for the silly stories of no news value whatsoever, but hey, at least we admit it.  Let‘s play Oddball.

We begin with the fall of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.  No, don‘t light the cigar just yet, we mean it literally.  The 78-year-old president slipped and fell moments after giving a televised graduation speech last night in Santa Clara, Cuba.  He‘s fallen and he can‘t get up. 

Cuban Radio reports Castro broke his kneecap and sprained his arm, but will otherwise be OK.  Cuban Radio went on to say, all hail President Castro, and you, get back to work.

To the University of Chicago, where 22-year-old senior Mel Grubby (ph) has her eye on one thing, well 2 things, that gigantic 3 inch eyelash, and getting it into the Guiness Book of World Records.  There is no existing record for the longest eyelash?  And with a bottom lash so long, not only with she touch it with her tongue it‘s likely that she‘ll make it, or at least get a gig at parties doing tricks. 

Grubby (ph) says She‘s not playing to cut the lash anytime soon.  Nor does she have any intention of moving out of her home next to the nuclear power plant.

And finally to Niagara Falls where it all began for Oddball Hall of Famer, and Ron Jeremy look-a-like, Kirk Jones.  He survived a trip over the Falls last year and parlayed that into into a successful career as a guy who washes the elephants at the circus.  He‘s back.  And he‘s got a plan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIRK JONES:  I will let you know that the new challenge I wish to attempt will be this—I will be attempting to break the world record for the longest and tallest free fall from a standing, existing structure.  And for this, I will have to leave this place that I love, Niagara Falls, and this will happen in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART:  You got to love a guy in a bolo tie. 

No one is sure yet exactly which building he‘s planning to from, but you‘ll notice he didn‘t say anything about a parachute.  Jones says he‘s been told his stunt will be impossible without suffering serious bodily injury, or death.  But he says, sometimes, you just have to believe in yourself.

You should also remember that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, unless the next of kin makes other arrangements. 

From Sin City to sin in the suburbs.  The new show “Desperate Housewives” is so racy, some advertisers are dropping out, but it‘s so hot that new advertisers are playing double to get part of the action.  And all that hot falafel talk between Andrea Mackris and Bill O‘Reilly.  He wants to get his hands on the tapes, but now he‘ll just have to wait.  Those stories ahead.

But now here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers of the day. 

No. 3, ABC TV.  The network announced that, due to low ratings, it will no longer air the Miss America beauty pageant, leaving the contest without a broadcast partner for the first time in 50 years.  Pageant officials are hoping to find another network without having to resort to cheap ratings stunts, like having the women eats bugs or something. 

No. 2, Tim Hubbard of Odessa, Missouri.  The 22-year-old swing stater thought it would be funny to try to sell his vote on eBay for $25 minimum bid.  The winning bidder tells him who to vote for on November 2.  But you know what?  That‘s illegal and now he‘s facing a $2,500 fine and up to a year in prison. 

And, No. 1, the unnamed German driver of a small Volkswagen Hatchback pulled over by Dutch police when they noticed he had a Shetland pony stuffed in the backseat.  The man was fined about $277 for illegal animal transport and for using the horse to get into the carpool lane.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEWART:  And welcome back.  I‘m Alison Stewart.  Keith has the night off. 

You‘re, of course, familiar with the most famous duel, Burr vs.  Hamilton.  Slightly lesser known—all right, it‘s obscure, in fact—that was war hero Commodore Stephen Decatur and James Barron, Decatur on the wrong end of that exchange.  Of course, there‘s the still-pending Matthews-Miller contest.  Give him hell, Zell.

Add to that now Mackris vs. O‘Reilly.  No, not that Mackris, the other one.  Our third story on the COUNTDOWN tonight, in an interview granted to “The New York Daily News,” O‘Reilly‘s accuser, Andrea Mackris, saying of her father said—quote—“If he had his way, he would challenge Bill O‘Reilly to a duel.”

It‘s your entertainment dollars in action, day nine of the Bill O‘Reilly investigation.  Mackris describing her ordeal in today‘s edition of the paper, saying the intense media scrutiny and alleged retaliatory actions by Fox News and Bill O‘Reilly have taken their toll—quote—

“Like any father, he stand the idea that this happened to his daughter. 

What‘s been going on, no human being could have anticipated.”

Mackris going on to answer the still lingering question in many mind: 

Why didn‘t she just hang up?  “I‘m supposed to say, Mr. O‘Reilly, that‘s immoral?  I‘m supposed to complain to human resources about this man and then walk into work the next day?  What is happening to me now would have happened then, except I wouldn‘t have had a lawyer by my side.”

Now, not to be outdone in the duel at the newsstands, “The New York

Post” talking to the Fox News producer‘s former colleagues at CNN—stay

with me—saying an incident there may have sparked the plan to—quote -

·         “set O‘Reilly up.”  Mackris was working as a producer at the rival network earlier this year before returning to O‘Reilly‘s employ. 

Her co-workers there telling the infamous page-six gossip section that after witnessing her boss resign following accusations of sexual harassment at CNN, she decided to go back to Fox.  But her motivation, they claim, was not the environment, quoting one insider—quote—“She didn‘t go back for $90,000 a year.  She went back for $60 million.”

Mackris‘ attorney responded to the accusations saying—quote—

“Instead of blaming the accuser, blame the abuser.”  “The New York Post,” owned by the same parent company as Fox News, is named in Andrea Mackris‘ amended lawsuit.  She claims News Corp. is using the paper to launch a smear campaign against her.  Go figure. 

The first court hearing in the case was scheduled for tomorrow.  At stake, whether or not Mackris has tapes of the alleged sexually explicit conversations with Bill O‘Reilly and if any such tape exists should it be turned over to his attorneys.  Late today, the hearing was postponed. 

Linda Kenney is a former sex crimes prosecutor, now a practicing criminal defense attorney. 

Ms. Kennedy, good evening. 

LINDA KENNEY, FORMER SEX CRIMES PROSECUTOR:  Good evening, Alison.

STEWART:  And thanks for being with us. 

Now, should we take anything away from the fact this hearing was postponed.  Does this mean that someone has a weak hand? 

KENNEY:  No, no.  It could mean as simple the judge needed more time.  It could be that maybe they‘re working on a resolution of the tape issue, not of the case, because I don‘t think that‘s going to happen. 

Or it could be that there‘s an issue of conflict that has to be resolved.  Remember, the defendant here, O‘Reilly, has filed a suit against the attorney for the plaintiff here, saying that he has a conflict of interest because he tried to extort money.  Or it could simply be the judge says, hey, I‘m going to wash my hands of this at this moment.  I‘m going hire a special master and let him decide all these issues that normally would take two or three years to get to a hearing that are coming to me now in 10 days. 

STEWART:  All right, you raise a lot of interesting points.  Let‘s talk about these alleged tapes.  Obviously, O‘Reilly‘s people want to know if these tapes are out there.  Now, is this hearing the best way for them to find out?  And, if these tapes do exist, do they help or hurt his extortion suit? 

KENNEY:  Well, normally what happens in a case is, there‘s a process called discovery, which takes about six months.  And you learn about the other side, including whether they have tapes.  But here, the stakes are so high and people‘s reputations could easily be absolutely ruined for life on both sides, that this is the best way. 

And let me tell you, the Epstein firm, Epstein Becker & Green, does litigate hard.  They want to know they‘re there for a number of reasons.  One, they want to know whether or not Mr. O‘Reilly made any of the statements.  Two, they want to know whether or not any of the quotations were made up that were in the complaint that the plaintiff filed.  And, three, they don‘t want, if there are such tapes out there, the tapes being in the media, because right now we have almost a media circus with this case being tried in front of talk shows, in front of “The Post,” in front of “The Daily News,” when it should really be in the courtroom, which is where most women who have sexual harassment cases try their cases. 

STEWART:  Now, in New York, does it make any difference if Andrea Mackris made these tapes without Bill O‘Reilly‘s consent?  Does that do anything to hurt or help his case?

KENNEY:  Well, if—it depends on what was happening here and how they were made.  If they were just on the phone, you can have a one-party consent. 

If they were on cell phone, federal law would apply.  If was cell phone to cell phone, you could tape.  If it was a tape recorder on her person, that raises a whole different issue that, in some states—and New York hasn‘t yet resolved it—in some states, it‘s allowable.  However, if you think you‘re taping because you wanted proof of illegal activity, and this comes quite close in terms of her complaint, then there‘s a question whether you have to get a court order first to do it. 

And let me tell you, again, these issue, you have two hard-fighting lawyers here, and these issues are going to go right up to the top court in the state of New York. 

STEWART:  Criminal defense attorney Linda Kenney, we appreciate your time and your expertise this evening. 

KENNEY:  Thank you. 

STEWART:  A dramatic story of survival.  The doctor who lived through the plane crash in Missouri explains in his own words how he made it out alive. 

And some more troubles for Prince Harry.  A late night out at the clubs ends in a scuffle with the paparazzi. 

Now here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three sound bites of the day. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TRIUMPH THE INSULT COMIC DOG:  I am here with a real spin doctor loyalist right here, Paul Begala.  This guy is loyal.  This guy‘s head was so far up Clinton‘s butt, they called him the colonoscope. 

(LAUGHTER)

LYNNE CHENEY, WIFE OF VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY:  Well, our president has been a magnificent leader, and if you don‘t mind my saying so, the vice president is no slouch either. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “HARDBALL”)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Joining us from right there, from the Oval Office he lusted for in his heart is the Reverend Al Sharpton. 

Reverend, where are you?  I can‘t see you in the picture of the Oval Office.  Are you in that room? 

AL SHARPTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I‘m sitting on the desk.  Your worst nightmare, Chris, has come true.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Just make yourself at home.  God, it looks totally normal to me.  It looks right for the world.       

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEWART:  Coming up, one man‘s amazing story of survival from that fiery plane crash in northern Missouri.  And later, what is too salty for Sunday-night TV?  The controversy over “Desperate Housewives” still ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEWART:  Most of the passengers on American connection flight 5966 were headed to a medical conference, a seminar to be held at the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine.  The topic, compassion in medical care. 

Our No. 2 story on the COUNTDOWN tonight, that subject, unfortunately, not just discussed, but with equal measures of sorrow and hope, put into action.  One of the survivors of Tuesday evening‘s devastating crash was rushed into Northeast Missouri Regional Medical Center.  The hospital‘s director of trauma services set to work immediately.  It was only after they wiped the blood from the victim‘s face that Dr. Charles Zeman recognized the man as his former med schoolteacher. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. CHARLES ZEMAN, NORTHEAST REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER:  I didn‘t really recognize him at first because the blood and everything was on his face.  There wasn‘t a dry eye in the entire hospital. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART:  Sixty-nine-year-old Dr. John Krogh and his assistant, 44-year-old Wendy Bonham, were the only two survivors, managing to escape through the emergency exit door before the wreckage caught fire. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. JOHN KROGH, SURVIVOR:  All of a sudden, there was just a crashing sound which didn‘t really shock the plane too much. 

And as I thought back on it later, I‘m sure that was a wing hitting a tree.  And then within maybe, I don‘t know, two seconds, maybe later, big-time crashes occurred.  As the plane went into the trees, it started to come apart down in the trees and traveling for quite some distance. 

And I just didn‘t believe it was happening.  I thought maybe this is some kind of a reality show.  And I was going through it.  It was just not quite real.  And as we bounced along through the trees, people started screaming.  There were some screams of some people from there as they were dying. 

And, anyway, I dragged myself across to the other side.  And my secretary there, she said, she called out my name, Dr. Krogh, she said.  And I went to that side.  It was open.  And I looked back and nobody else was coming.  And I thought, well, I‘ll just—in fact, I think I said, I‘ll just stay here.  And if somebody comes, I‘ll go back to my assigned seat.  And that may have saved my life.  I don‘t know. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART:  Both Dr. Krogh and Ms. Bonham are listed in fair critical condition at the Northeast Regional Medical Center. 

Meanwhile, more details into the investigation into just what happened to Flight 5966.  A team from the National Transportation Safety Board on site all day today, its preliminary examination of both the cockpit voice recorder and the plane‘s flight data recorder showing the flight proceeded as normal with no indication of trouble.  The last voice recording from the captain saying—quote—“field in sight” -- 13 seconds later, the sound of impact.  The NTSB investigation continues. 

We make the transition now to a somewhat lighter notes with the entertainment stories of “Keeping Tabs.”  It‘s been a rough couple of weeks for Britain‘s Prince Harry, well, as rough as it can be when you‘re stinking rich and the son to the heir to the throne of England. 

Now the wild child of British royal family is caught up in a controversy after he scuffled with paparazzi outside a London nightclub. 

NBC‘s Dawna Friesen has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAWNA FRIESEN, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Within hours of the scuffle, it was headlining the tabloids.  “Harry Snaps.”  At around 3:00 a.m., as the 20-year-old prince left a popular West End nightclub, the palace says he was hit in the face with a camera and pushed back, cutting a photographer‘s lip before a bodyguard pulled Harry into a waiting car. 

The palace says the prince was provoked.  The photographers claim he wasn‘t provoked, that he lashed out, yelling, why don‘t you just leave me alone? 

ROBERT JOBSON, ROYAL WATCHER:  I‘m surprised that this has happened.  But maybe he had too a few too many drinks and he was fed up with seeing photographers outside. 

FRIESEN:  He does have a reputation as a prince who likes to party and his exploits have been caught on film before, but he‘s all been good-natured about it. 

The palace has tried to craft him as a caring prince, following in his mother‘s footsteps this summer helping AIDS victims in Africa and coaching young rugby players.  But his bad boy image continues to dog him.  Just last week, he was accused by a former teacher of cheating at school. 

JOBSON:  I‘m sure he regrets it.  I‘m sure that his father will tell him to behave in a slightly different way.  But one has to understand the way he feels. His mother, after all, was being chased by photographers on the night she died. 

FRIESEN (on camera):  The palace is playing down the scuffle, but the photographer, who says he was simply doing his job, is still considering whether to press assault charges against the young prince. 

Dawna Friesen, NBC News, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STEWART:  And finally, another day, another story from inside.  Martha Stewart‘s attorneys today made public their appeal of her conviction for lying to federal authorities, saying she was a victim of a—quote—

“fundamentally unfair trial” and that prosecutors incorrectly suggested to the jury that she was accused of insider trading. 

Meanwhile, the attorney leading the appeal told “The Today Show” that the homemaking mogul is being treated well and is even learning microwave cookery inside the Alderson prison camp in West Virginia, because, you know, there‘s one thing that is better than prison gruel.  It‘s prison gruel at 30 seconds on high. 

Are the creators of “Desperate Housewives” so desperate for viewers that they‘ll do anything to raise eyebrows?  Advertisers are pulling out, saying it‘s way too racy, but what does it say that it‘s a runaway hit?

Stand by, people.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES”)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS:  Well, since we‘re doing true confessions, Carlos and I once broke a waterbed in Cancun. 

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  How did you manage that? 

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS:  Oh, he used to have a thing for spiked heels. 

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  I would just like to make it clear, she was wearing them. 

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS:  Rex cries after he ejaculates. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART:  I know you‘re saying no she didn‘t.  And, yes, she did.  That had my jaw dropping on Sunday night.  And, apparently, it pushed the moral outrage monitor to the bursting point.  Three companies have now dropped their ads on ABC‘s new hot drama.  That‘s one for every week the show has been on the air. 

At No. 1 on the COUNTDOWN, “Desperate Housewives” call for desperate measures.  Lowe‘s Home Improvement, Tyson Foods, and Kellogg‘s all decided not to buy more time on the show, after a self-styled family values group launched a volley of e-mails and phone complaints.  The American Family Association is also petitioning other companies, including ConAgra and Pinnacle Foods, to follow suit. 

But the campaign is having little effect on the hit show.  ABC has already doubled the price of a 30-second commercial spot because demand is so high among ad buyers. 

I‘m joined now by senior editor of “In Touch Weekly” magazine, Tom O‘Neil. 

Tom, always a pleasure. 

TOM O‘NEIL, SENIOR EDITOR, “IN TOUCH WEEKLY”:  Same here.  Thanks, Alison.

STEWART:  For folks who haven‘t watched this show, what is this show really about? 

O‘NEIL:  It‘s about four women in suburbia who are trying to cope with varying situations, single motherhood, broken marriages.

This whole ejaculation scene we just saw here is a wife getting revenge on her husband because she had just spilled the secret that they were in therapy.  And what‘s interesting about the moral charges against this show is, I think quite the opposite is true.  This program is enormously moral.  Here we have in this story case a couple trying to save their marriage. 

STEWART:  Do you think this show is too spicy for its 9:00 time slot on ABC?  Sunday sort of feels like family night, “Joan of Arcadia,” “Providence,” the kind of “get the kids around the TV” night.

O‘NEIL:  No.  There is no violence.  There is no swearing.  There is no nudity in this show. 

STEWART:  There‘s a lot of sex, though. 

O‘NEIL:  Well, there‘s some—I think the sex in this show is honest and it‘s in the context of mature relationships, except here. 

Here, we‘re seeing the character Gabrielle cheating on her husband.  And here is where I would argue the show is very moral, because, last Sunday, we saw a twist on this where Gabrielle is going to have to start getting her moral comeuppance for her shenanigans here. 

STEWART:  As the little kid next door is bribing her after witnessing something.  Gets a bike out of her, too.

O‘NEIL:  Oh, I know.  It‘s a great.  It‘s a wonderful twist.

STEWART:  Love this kid‘s face.

How unusual is it to have major advertisers, some place like Lowe‘s Home Improvement or Tyson‘s, pull away from a hit show? 

O‘NEIL:  It‘s rare, but I think, in this case, they didn‘t know what show they were buying, because, remember, these ad buys were made back in May before these shows—we‘re only in the third week of this program. 

And, traditionally, advertisers like Kellogg‘s don‘t like to be part of controversial shows.  I think the show is not that controversial.  Where are all the other conservative religious groups or moral groups here?  This is just one.  And why are they going after this show?  Why aren‘t they going after all those reality shows that put total strangers in bed with each other and marries them off for money and has them betray each other?

STEWART:  As far as you know, has this tactic ever worked? 

O‘NEIL:  No. 

And, in fact, we‘ve seen recently when these kinds of boycotts have sprung up with shows like “Family Guy” and “Boston Public,” it helped them stay on the air.  The closest this ever succeeded was 10 years ago when “NYPD Blue” came on and a third of the ABC affiliates refused to air that first pilot episode.  Within three weeks, the boycott was completely fizzled out and everybody was watching the show. 

STEWART:  So, Tom O‘Neil, you sound like a fan of “Desperate Housewives.”

O‘NEIL:  I love it.  You‘re hooked, too.  Admit it.  Admit it. 

STEWART:  I will admit.  It‘s like TV crack.  It‘s really good—not that crack is good, people.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART:  Tom O‘Neil of “In Touch,” thanks so much for joining us tonight.

O‘NEIL:  OK.

STEWART:  And that is it for COUNTDOWN.  I‘m Alison Stewart, in for Keith Olbermann.  Keith will be back tomorrow. 

Thanks for watching and have a great and safe evening. 

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

END   

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.

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