updated 10/26/2004 10:33:37 AM ET 2004-10-26T14:33:37

Guest: Ann Coulter, Ed Schultz, Bill Stanton, Kathleen Peratis, Bill Bastone, Nathan Adam, Sean Wirtz, Liz Putnam

ANNOUNCER:  DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT.

DEBORAH NORVILLE, HOST:  Democratic superstar.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  If this isn‘t good for my heart, I don‘t know what is!  Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NORVILLE:  Bill Clinton, off the sidelines and back in the game to help his party cross the finish line.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON:  In eight days, John Kerry‘s going to make America the comeback country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NORVILLE:  But will it work?  Could this political top gun backfire?

Digging for dirt.  She hit Bill O‘Reilly with a sexual harassment lawsuit, and now he‘s hitting back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BO DIETL, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR:  We‘re going to uncover things that we‘ve already—about your life, so you‘re wide open right now!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NORVILLE:  The personal life of the accuser, why private detectives are the latest weapon in the legal war of words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREA MACKRIS, SUING BILL O‘REILLY FOR SEXUAL HARASSMENT:  It is frightening.  They are threatening me.  They are trying to intimidate me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NORVILLE:  Lip sunk.  Ashlee Simpson pulls a Milli Vanilli on live television and strikes another sour note for the recording industry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ASHLEE SIMPSON, SINGER:  See, I feel so bad.  My band started playing the wrong song.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NORVILLE:  Is it live or, well, something else?  We‘ll demonstrate the difference live.

Plus, ice spill.  Chilling proof that even the most elegant spectator sport can go horribly wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TATIANA TOTMIANINA, FIGURE SKATER:  I have pain in my body and my head, but I‘m in one piece.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER:  From MSNBC world headquarters, Deborah Norville.

NORVILLE:  And good evening, everybody.  Just eight days to go before the presidential election, and today former president Clinton Bill Clinton finally hit the campaign trail for John Kerry, just seven weeks after his open heart surgery, stumping for the Democratic nominee in Philadelphia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON:  If one candidate‘s trying scare you and the other one‘s trying to get you to think, if one candidate‘s appealing to your fears and the other one‘s appealing to your hopes, you better vote for the person who wants you to think and hope.  That‘s the best.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NORVILLE:  Can the former president galvanize Democrats, help sway all those undecideds, or could the strategy backfire?  Four years ago, Al Gore made the decision to distance himself from President Clinton, and some folks say that was a bad move.  But Bill Clinton is controversial.  Some voters love him, others are still pretty angry with him.

Joining me tonight to talk about all this is radio talk show host Ed Schultz.  He‘s the host of “The Ed Schultz Show,” also the author of “Straight Talk from the Heartland.”  And with me tonight, as well, conservative commentator Ann Coulter.  She is the author of “How to Talk to a Liberal, If You Must.”  And I thank you both for being here.

Ann, I want to start with you first.  What does it say to you that in this last week of the campaign, they‘ve gotten Bill Clinton out of the sick room and out onto the campaign trail?

ANN COULTER, AUTHOR, “HOW TO TALK TO A LIBERAL”:  It says to me that 20 years of taking the blacks for granted has finally caught up to the Democrats.  I mean, this is all part of the campaign to hold the black vote after Kerry completely ignored blacks during the campaign.  Now every week, he‘s campaigning in black churches.  He had Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton together at a black church in Florida.  But—but—and the polls, by the way, show that the black vote for Bush has doubled since the last election.  I think it could finally be catching up to the Democrats.

NORVILLE:  But some would argue that Bush is ignoring the black vote.  He had an invitation to go on Black Entertainment Television.  Mr. Kerry was on a couple of weeks ago.  He said, Gee, I‘d love to.  I‘ll get back you to after the election.  And now Mr. Johnson‘s actually appealed to Condi Rice and some of the other black members of the administration to give the president a little nudge and get him on that TV show.

COULTER:  I don‘t know about this or that TV show or what was going on, but there are certainly more serious, impressive blacks in his administration than there were in Bill Clinton‘s administration.  Bill Clinton, you‘ll recall, appointed his law school classmate, black law professor Lani Guinier, nominated her, rather.  As soon as she came under fire, he completely sold her out, saying, Oh, I haven‘t read her stuff.  And most importantly, right now, I think the big issue that it has to be said that‘s really hurting Kerry with blacks is gay marriage.  Blacks do not like gay marriage.  They don‘t like abortion.  And Kerry is the party of gay marriage and abortion.

NORVILLE:  Well, I have to tell you...

COULTER:  Jesse Jackson told...

NORVILLE:  ... I didn‘t hear...

COULTER:  ... to a black church...

NORVILLE:  ... Bill Clinton really addressing specifically...

COULTER:  No, I don‘t think he will.

NORVILLE:  ... black voting concerns.  But Ed, I want to ask you, are you—are you persuaded that Ms. Coulter is right, that this is just an appeal to black voters?  And frankly, some would say if John Kerry had it in the bag, they wouldn‘t have asked Bill Clinton to come out and make this appearance today.

ED SCHULTZ, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Well, first of all, leave it to the righties to play the race card this late in the game.  This is about young voters.  Only one third of those between the ages of 18 and 25 voted in the year 2000.  Bill Clinton is the rock star of this party.  He energizes crowds.  He‘s going to speak to their hopes and their dreams, and that‘s what young people want to hear.

Now, Bill Clinton didn‘t wish heart surgery on himself seven weeks ago, but the way the timing is working out, it‘s great for Kerry.  No. 1, Clinton‘s going to get a lot of attention.  He‘s going to get a lot of prime-time coverage, just like tonight.

NORVILLE:  Sure.

SCHULTZ:  He‘s going to get young people talking about the issues.  And that‘s what young people want to talk about.  They don‘t want to be scared.  They don‘t want to play the fear game.  They want to know what‘s in it for them, and Clinton is going to be a master communicator at these issues.

NORVILLE:  Well, I have to say, watching when President Clinton came out and then when John Kerry started speaking, the first several minutes of what John Kerry had to say had nothing to do with the campaign issues, and he talked a lot about Bill Clinton.  Is there not, Ed, a danger that this could take the spotlight off the candidate and put it back on the man who once lived in the White House himself?

SCHULTZ:  No, not at all.  Bill Clinton is all positive.  American Democrats love this guy.  He‘s going to speak to the issues.  It‘s not going to backfire.  There‘s plenty of John Kerry to be seen and hard between now and election day.  If Bill Clinton can come in and he can draw attention to the issues using different vernacular and being positive, the way he has been, it‘s just—it‘s going to be great for the campaign.

It‘s also going to give the righties an opportunity to show America just how mean-spirited they can be and dredge up all that hate that they had for Bill Clinton.  And I think that that‘s going to really help out the Kerry camp quite a bit.

NORVILLE:  Ann, the Republican National Committee had said today that he thought this was just an attempt to have a charisma transplant, get Bill Clinton out there and get him next to John Kerry, get some excitement going transferred from Clinton over to Kerry.

COULTER:  Well, I think—I think anything would be a charisma transfer.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTER:  but I really do think this is specifically aimed at black voters.  Just a few weeks ago, Jesse Jackson was in a black church with John Kerry and specifically said, point blank, No matter what your views are, even you don‘t like gay marriage, don‘t vote for Bush.  This is a big issue right now.  And of course, they‘re not talking about the issues.  What the Democrats want to do is sell blacks out, not respond to any of the issues that are important to blacks and just—and just send out Bill Clinton, who, for some reason, is enormously popular with blacks, though I don‘t think particularly with the rest of the country, based on the fact that he never got a majority to vote for him.

NORVILLE:  I don‘t know if I agree with you, the whole thing about, you know, specifically targeting the blacks.  But I will say—and we‘re going to roll this clip in just a second—John Kerry (SIC) did speak about other issues that are of concern to voters that wouldn‘t necessarily go with one ethnic voting block.  But he did speak specifically about an issue that is of great concern to ethnic voters in the state of Florida.  And here‘s what John Kerry had to say earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON:  In the closing days of this election—and you know, I‘ve been home watching it, so I see all this stuff—the other side, they‘re trying to scare the undecided voters about Senator Kerry.  And they‘re trying to scare the decided voters away from the polls.  We know about that, don‘t we?  It worked so well in Florida, they seem to be trying it elsewhere.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NORVILLE:  Ed Schultz, do you think that Bill Clinton‘s line is going to resonate with the voters that he was obviously directing them at?

SCHULTZ:  Absolutely.  Again, this is not about the minority vote.  This is about Americans and opportunity and hope.  I also think it‘s great that Clinton...

NORVILLE:  But wait a minute.  Those were Clinton‘s words.

SCHULTZ:  But it‘s the truth.  I mean, this guy is going to be talking about the economy.  He‘s going to be talking about jobs.  He‘s going to be talking about health care.  He‘s going to put those numbers out there.  When it comes to the economy, this administration can‘t carry Bill Clinton‘s briefcase, I mean, if you want to compare the record.  There‘s no question that Clinton is going to help.  But I hope he has an opportunity to talk about security because those people who bombed the World Trade Center in ‘93 are behind bars, and this administration is still looking for Osama bin Laden.

NORVILLE:  And Ann, obviously, George Bush is out there on the campaign trail, and today he had Rudolph Giuliani, who as much as anybody, is the personification of those days after 9/11.  Clearly, security is something that he thinks he‘s got a better message for, and he‘s pushing it really, really hard in this final week.

COULTER:  Yes, as he should.  I also notice that a lot of Republicans who plan to run for office again are campaigning with George Bush.  I don‘t see so many of those standing with John Kerry.

NORVILLE:  How much does it mean, Ann—I mean, we—we saw...

SCHULTZ:  What does that have to do with anything?

NORVILLE:  Well, hold on a second.  We see all these people out there next to the candidates.  Today we saw Rudolph Giuliani out in Colorado with George Bush.  We saw Bill Clinton in Philadelphia today with John Kerry.  We‘ve seen Arnold Schwarzenegger out there.  We‘ve seen Ben Affleck out there on the Democratic side.  Everybody‘s got their big faces that they pull out.

Does it really matter to the voters?  Do they give a hoot who stands next to the candidate when they‘re out there on the campaign trail?  Ann, you first, and then I‘m coming to you, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  OK.

COULTER:  Me first?

NORVILLE:  Yes, you.

COULTER:  Yes, I think it does.  And—and...

NORVILLE:  Why?

COULTER:  And it says—what does it matter?  I think it is striking that you have candidates, Republicans who will be running for office again, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, like Rudy Giuliani, who want—aren‘t—aren‘t embarrassed about hitching their wagon to George Bush, whereas Democrats running for office—no, you see the ones who are out of office for good hanging onto Kerry.  I don‘t think they want to go down with a sinking ship.  It‘s noticeable how few Democrats are on TV defending John Kerry.

NORVILLE:  Ed?  Go ahead.

SCHULTZ:  Well, a lot of the key Democrats are out running for reelection, doing their own thing.  That‘s the first thing you got to realize.

COULTER:  Often you do that with a presidential candidate!

SCHULTZ:  Well, the second thing is, is that you‘ve got Rudy Giuliani.  There‘s a good guy you could talk to about family values, and that he has no record nationally, when it comes to the economy.  Bill Clinton does.  I‘ll guarantee you, young people are going to listen to Clinton.  They‘re going to talk about jobs with him.  He‘s going to energize the crowd.  He‘s got a record to help John Kerry out.  This may be the ace in the card that the righties just don‘t know how to play.

NORVILLE:  If the Republicans had their druthers, Ann, you do think they would prefer that Bill Clinton convalesce a little bit longer, for, oh, say, another two weeks?

COULTER:  Oh no.  Oh, no.  As was described repeatedly in “The New York Times” in the last election, all of Gore‘s internal polls showed that, I mean, he should have won the last election, but...

NORVILLE:  Some say he did.

COULTER:  ... but Clinton was a noose around his neck.  Yes, the good sports in the Democratic Party.  Clinton was a noose.  That‘s why he chose Joe Lieberman.  That‘s why he separated himself from Clinton.  No, of course, we‘d love to see Clinton out campaigning.

NORVILLE:  And Ed, is he going to be out a lot?  I mean, he‘s still convalescing.  He‘s still, as he said to “Good Morning America,” got some tenderness.  He‘s not 110 percent yet.

SCHULTZ:  Well, you could tell that.  His voice was not as powerful as it has been in the past.  I mean, he‘s just seven weeks out of surgery.  He can‘t overdo it.  But I think the fact that he‘s out there, people like to see him—he‘s going to help a tremendous amount.  I don‘t think there‘s any doubt about that.  And I think that you‘re going to see Bill Clinton stand up for John Kerry when it comes to security and military issues and really punch back the righties, where they‘ve been really trying to hurt John Kerry on the campaign trail.

NORVILLE:  Well, the question really is whether any of it matters to the voters, and that‘s a question that none of us...

SCHULTZ:  I think it does.

NORVILLE:  ... can answer right now.  But we‘ll find out in a week and a day.  Ann Coulter, Ed Schultz, congratulations, both of you, on your books.  Thanks for being with us.

SCHULTZ:  Thank you.

COULTER:  Thank you.

ANNOUNCER:  Still to come: Is the private life of the woman who‘s accusing Bill O‘Reilly of sexual harassment fair game?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DIETL:  We‘re going to uncover things that we‘ve already—about your life, so you‘re wide open right now!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER:  How the accused can turn the tables on the accuser when DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

DIETL:  Mr. Dietl has a lot of—a lot of information.  Just put it that way.  I‘m not supposed to talk about it.

DON IMUS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Give me the picture.

DIETL:  I‘m not talking about it.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

NORVILLE:  That was private investigator Bo Dietl on the Don Imus show this morning.  Dietl is working for Bill O‘Reilly‘s legal team, which has been charged with digging up the dirt on the woman who‘s accused O‘Reilly of sexual harassment.  Dietl has been quoted as saying, quote, “We‘ve got everything in the dirt department,” end quote.  Well, there were some reports this weekend that both sides were close to a settlement, and a court hearing is scheduled for Friday.

And while the negotiations continue, so, too, do the rumors.  Last week, “The Drudge Report” claimed that Andrea Mackris was nearly $100,000 in debt, about half of it from college loans.  And “The New York Post,” which is owned by the same company that owns the Fox News Channel, has printed accusations that she planned to, quote, “take down O‘Reilly with a tell-all book.”  Other sources say she does have a book proposal, but that it was for a novel, not a tell-all.

But maybe all this tough talk about dirt is just part of a strategy to intimidate Ms. Mackris and her attorneys.  Is probing her personal history a legitimate weapon in cases like this?  Moreover, does it work?

Joining me now, attorney Kathleen Peratis, who specializes in sexual harassment in the workplace.  She‘s represented plaintiffs like Andrea Mackris, although she does not represent her specifically.  Also with us, private investigator Bill Stanton, and Bill Bastone, who is editor of The Smoking Gun Web site.  That‘s where complaints in this case have been posted just hours before the first newspaper reports.  And we should note that the harassment complaint filed by Andrea Mackris has been the most widely viewed page in The Smoking Gun‘s seven-year history.  So I guess congratulations to you for that.

But I‘m going to start with you first, Bill Stanton, because you‘re in the business of doing what Bo Dietl‘s been hired to do in this case, going out there, getting the goods on parties involved in legal disputes.  In a case like this, what is the dirt that an investigator is looking for?

BILL STANTON, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR :  Everything and everything going to her character.  Is this a recidivism-type act for her?  Did she pull this with other employees in the past?  Anything that shows a pattern to her doing this, which in the case of Bill O‘Reilly, is bribery and/or extortion.

NORVILLE:  OK, so let‘s say that she‘s got college loans that are outstanding.  Probably most kids in their 20s who have gone to college still have college loans.  How is something like that at all germane to the case that‘s at hand?

STANTON:  Well, it goes to motive, why she would need the money.

NORVILLE:  But college loans are the sort of things with, like, a 2 percent interest rate.

STANTON:  Well, if you—if—well...

NORVILLE:  That‘s not really...

(CROSSTALK)

NORVILLE:  ... motivate somebody, is it?

STANTON:  Well—well, no, Deborah, if you have an outstanding debt of, say, $100,000, and they obviously had some type of relationship, and then she leaves and then she comes back, and then all of a sudden, she files for a sexual harassment, that she was hurt, that she was traumatized, well, it‘s a little bit different knowing that she has an outstanding debt of $100,000.  If the reports are accurate, she broke up with her fiance.  She‘s living in a six-story walk-up.  Her options are limited.  It would then go to the motive that she would have a lot of impetus to go out and do this to Bill O‘Reilly.  That‘s one side.  I‘m not saying it necessarily is...

NORVILLE:  Absolutely.

STANTON:  ... but it is a motive.

NORVILLE:  And another side in this case—and we‘ve seen the documents on The Smoking Gun Web site, are the very likely possibility that there are audiotapes of these exchanges on the telephone with Mr. O‘Reilly and Ms. Mackris.  If those audiotapes exist, would that not then eliminate any dirt that people like you all can dig up?

STANTON:  Deborah, are you talking to me?

NORVILLE:  Yes.

STANTON:  Would that eliminate any dirt?  Absolutely not.  I mean, I‘ve had dozens of cases similar to this.  Sometimes you don‘t always work for the good guys.  Sometimes you work for the bad guy.  But in this particular case, to answer your question, it doesn‘t invalidate what‘s going on.  How you know he wasn‘t baited?  How you do know that she didn‘t engage the conversation and then activate the tape recorder, if there are, indeed, tapes, once it got juicy, if you will?

NORVILLE:  And Kathleen Peratis, that really gets to what‘s probably going to be at the heart of these discussions, those audiotapes and what might be on them.  If you were representing this young lady in this case, what would be her best legal course of action to be taking?

KATHLEEN PERATIS, EMPLOYMENT LAW PLAINTIFF‘S ATTORNEY:  Well, let me first go back one step.  I think the question you asked the investigator is not the question that he‘s qualified to answer.  What he‘s hired to do is to dig up everything he can.  And presumably, his employer will use it in the court of public opinion in any way that it would be likely to benefit him.  The decision as to  whether it bears upon the issues in this case is a decision that will be made by the judge, if the case goes to trial.  So what the investigator is doing is trying to find whatever he can, and it will be later determined whether any of it bears upon the issues in this case.  The tapes, if there are any in this case...

NORVILLE:  And we don‘t know that there are.

PERATIS:  And we don‘t know for sure that there are.  There is certainly a tantalizing suggestion that there is.  But if there are tapes, it is like the blue dress, the famous blue dress in the President Clinton-Monica Lewinsky matter.  Although it looks bad that she taped the conversations, if she did, it takes one argument away from O‘Reilly, and that is the argument that it didn‘t happen.  It means that the only argument that is left to him is that it doesn‘t mean what it seems to mean.  That‘s a much better position for a plaintiff to be in than to have to argue whether or not it happened.  It‘s very, very strong evidence.

NORVILLE:  And you say 99 percent...

STANTON:  Deborah, if I...

NORVILLE:  ... of the time of in these cases, Ms. Peratis, there is a settlement, never gets in front of a judge to make rulings on these things.

PERATIS:  In these cases, as in every other kind of case, very few cases actually get to trial.  This case is unusual in that the confidentiality provision that is almost always involved—and let me just back up again to say in settlements of these cases, the plaintiff gets money, the defendant gets confidentiality.  Bill O‘Reilly gets to say, Shut up, I‘m going to pay you a lot of money to do it.

NORVILLE:  Yes, but...

PERATIS:  But the complication...

NORVILLE:  ... here‘s the problem, Kathleen.

PERATIS:  Yes, the complication...

(CROSSTALK)

NORVILLE:  ... sitting here with me in the studio.  That‘s Bill Bastone because...

PERATIS:  No, the complication...

NORVILLE:  Well, let me...

PERATIS:  ... here is that...

NORVILLE:  OK, go ahead.

PERATIS:  ... the value is very great.  The value of her story is great.  Her pain and suffering, which is generally the measure of damages in settling these cases, is almost not relevant anymore.  What‘s relevant is how much could she sell her story for?  And so how much would Bill O‘Reilly pay her so that she doesn‘t sell her story?

NORVILLE:  And the price tag has got to be pretty high because Bill...

PERATIS:  I would think so.

NORVILLE:  ... Bill, you‘ve got a lot—this copy of this complaint on your Web site, the biggest thing you guys have ever put on in seven years of Thesmokingun.com.  What does that tell you about the potential value of this young woman‘s story in the marketplace?

BILL BASTONE, EDITOR, “THE SMOKING GUN”:  Well, I think it has a significant value.  I‘m kind of surprised that she hasn‘t gone out or—and tested it because I think that there‘s—you know, I don‘t know whether you‘re going to be able to sell it to a reputable news organization, but there are a lot of other places that you could go peddle this.  You could turn the tapes into CDs and sell them, like people sold the Paris Hilton tape.  I mean, I think there‘s a whole kind of marketing thing that someone probably more crass than she might think about doing.  But I think that probably, she‘s more interested in probably settling this and hoping at some point in the future to go on with her career, what‘s left of it.

PERATIS:  Well, it‘s not just the tapes.  What about a docudrama?  What about a made-for-TV movie?  The possibilities for exploiting this material are enormous.

NORVILLE:  In which case, if Mr. O‘Reilly were to reach a settlement with this young lady, isn‘t the horse already out of the barn?

PERATIS:  No.

NORVILLE:  Can‘t you go ahead and do a docudrama, changing the names and the facts just enough so that it‘s not really this story and you don‘t really violate a confidentiality agreement, if there were one?

PERATIS:  Well, if she enters into a settlement of this matter, she will agree that she will never say anything about it again.  So any exploitation of the story would have to be done without her cooperation, which probably makes it much less valuable.

NORVILLE:  Which means the people over here at Smokinggun.com are going to be working diligently to get whatever information you could.  If there were a settlement, that doesn‘t mean the story‘s over for you all on the Internet, does it?

BASTONE:  No, and we can—we‘ll hunt it.  You know, we‘ll attempt to get a settlement agreement and we‘ll try to get the details.  But the fact is, is that it‘s in neither party‘s interest to let something like that leak out because there will surely be some type of clause in there that indicates if this were to get out, certain things might be invalidated.  Future payments might get canceled.  It‘s very much kind of like the Michael Jackson agreement from 1993-‘94.  No—it‘s in neither party‘s interests to let it out because there‘s financial...

NORVILLE:  Repercussions.

BASTONE:  Sure, for the party that might be...

(CROSSTALK)

PERATIS:  I would imagine...

NORVILLE:  Well, let me just stop you right there, Bill, because we got to take a quick break.  But when we come back, we‘re going to follow up on this because whatever happens legally, that doesn‘t affect what happens in the court of public opinion.  We‘re going to come back and talk about that in just a moment.

And then a little later in the broadcast—boy, oh boy, was her face red!  Was a pop star‘s secret uncovered on live television, or was Ashlee Simpson just the innocent victim of an embarrassing mistake ?  You‘ve heard about the snafu on “Saturday Night Live.”  Coming up, you‘re going to see it, and we will show you exactly how a lip-synch performance can be determined from the real thing.  That‘s still ahead.

But up next, more on the O‘Reilly case in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

NORVILLE:  Back talking about the Bill O‘Reilly sexual harassment case with attorney Kathleen Peratis, private investigator Bill Stanton and Bill Bastone.  He‘s the editor of SmokingGun.com.

Folks, Bill O‘Reilly in an earlier program about sexual harassment on the Fox channel said this about these kinds of cases, obviously not talking about anything personal. 

He said—quote—“When I was a thug coming up, I mean I would say almost anything around women.  Now I don‘t say anything, you know, that could be remotely taken—you know, because, obviously, I‘m a big target, and any kind of a thing like that stigmatizes you, whether you‘re guilty or not, doesn‘t it?”

Bill Stanton, aren‘t most public figures fairly guarded about what they say because the potential exists that they could be a target in this way? 

STANTON:  Absolutely. 

They are so fearful.  I am out here in L.A. right now.  And all the stars, they are very fearful, because, once that accusation is made, you can never unring a bell.  It‘s very tough.  Some are founded.  Many are unfounded. 

PERATIS:  I really don‘t think you can generalize. 

I think that it‘s probably just as easy to argue that big stars are so arrogant, they think they can get away with anything.  And that‘s, in fact, the kind of allegation that is made in this complaint, that O‘Reilly made it very clear to him that if she ever tried to expose him, he would ruin her. 

NORVILLE:  Well, he specifically said—in the complaint, he said—quote—meaning if anybody were to ever say something: “Nobody would believe her.  It would be her word against mine, and who are they going to believe, me or some unstable woman making outrageous accusations?  They would see her as some psycho, someone unstable.”

(CROSSTALK)

NORVILLE:  So, clearly, if this is an accurate reflection of a conversation that took place, there was this implied threat to this young woman. 

I want to move past the and let‘s talk about the after-story.  At some point, this will end.  We don‘t know how.  But, for Bill O‘Reilly, is the damage not already done?

Ms. Peratis, even if there is a settlement, there has been damage to his reputation, has there not?  And how could he repair it?

PERATIS:  Well, there has been.

But I think it‘s very difficult to say at this point whether he‘ll get past it.  Sometimes, very high-profile people manage to take this kind of a hit and go on.  And sometimes they don‘t.  One of the things that I have thought is a very curious possible after-story, not even an after-story, if they don‘t settle it and his ratings go down, I wonder whether he and Fox will present a united defense to this case.

It might be that, if his popularity declines, their interests will no longer converge.  They may diverge, which means that they may have to get separate representation.  I don‘t think that Fox is necessarily 100 percent on board with O‘Reilly if O‘Reilly is no longer a big getter of ratings. 

NORVILLE:  Well, I think it‘s probably early in the game to make any judgments like that. 

PERATIS:  It is very early, right. 

Bill Bastone, you have followed a lot of celebrity cases in which the celebrity hasn‘t always been cast in the most favorable light.  Is it possible to bounce back from this?  Is it possible to put this in a past chapter and move on along? 

BASTONE:  Well, I think for millions of Americans, they‘ll never look at a falafel the same way again. 

He has staked positions as kind of a moral arbiter.  And in the future, how is he going to be able to say something about the Ludacrises of the world or the Janet Jacksons of the world, about him being offended by certain things and how certain artists are part of the country‘s moral decay?

It seems like it is going to be very difficult to be Bill O‘Reilly, the outraged Bill O‘Reilly, if he settles this thing and never denies.  You see, he still has not denied that these conversations occurred. 

(CROSSTALK)

NORVILLE:  And what about the young lady, Kathleen?  What about the young lady involved with this? 

PERATIS:  I think that she has a better chance of going on with her life than he does. 

I think probably that his main chance of going on, since most people, I think, believe that all or most of it is true, whether or not it was welcomed is a different question.  But I think that maybe his best chance of getting on with it is to do a mea culpa, to say I made a terrible mistake.  I am going to get help and I hope that you‘ll give me your support as I get help and go on with my life. 

NORVILLE:  We will wait to see if that happens and let that be the last word. 

Kathleen Peratis, Bill Stanton, Bill Bastone, thanks so much. 

And just one last note.  Like a lot of folks, my colleague here at MSNBC, Keith Olbermann, has been intrigued by the possibility that there could be tapes of these allegedly harassing phone calls in the O‘Reilly case.  On the blog that he‘s got, Keith is offering Andrea Mackris $99,000, which is the amount of her alleged debt, if she will give him the tapes.  Keith will have more on that $99,000 offer tonight at midnight right here on MSNBC.

But, Keith, remember, she was said to be suing for $60 million. 

That‘s a lot of money, Keith. 

We‘ll be back.

ANNOUNCER:  Up next, Simpson‘s Saturday night snafu.  Are music fans getting lip service from their favorite artists? 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE”)   

ASHLEE SIMPSON, SINGER:  I feel so bad.  My band started playing the wrong song. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER:  Is it singing or synching? 

DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT is coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NORVILLE:  We love live TV.  Did an embarrassing moment on live TV expose a pop star‘s little secret?  We‘ll show you how those live performances really work next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NORVILLE:  Ashlee Simpson, she‘s the younger sister of pop superstar Jessica Simpson.  She had a Milli Vanilli moment Saturday on “Saturday Night Live.”  The audience heard her singing, but, incredibly, her lips weren‘t moving.  Oops. 

Here it is. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE”)   

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NORVILLE:  Yes.  That‘s exactly how it happened on TV, an embarrassed Simpson doing a dance of some sort to cover up the mistake.  And then she just sort of gave it up and ran off stage as NBC shortly afterward cut to a commercial. 

Now, her record company, Geffen Records, blames a computer glitch. 

Then, in the closing goodbye of the show, Ms. Simpson blamed the band. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE”)   

JUDE LAW, ACTOR:  Ladies and gentlemen, what can I say?  Live TV.

SIMPSON:  Exactly.  I feel so bad.  My band started playing the wrong song.  I didn‘t know what to do, so I thought I would do a hoedown.  I‘m sorry. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NORVILLE:  Was Ashlee Simpson planning to lip synch that live performance or did a technical mishap reveal a little trick that many live performers use to enhance their vocals? 

To help us figure it all out, I am joined by Nathan Adam.  He‘s a professor of recording industry at Middle Tennessee State University.  He has been a recording engineer and studio consultant for a number of recording artists and producers.  And he is in his studio tonight to give us a little insight on how all of this works. 

First, sir, when you were watching “Saturday Night Live” or when you saw the tape played back later, did you know immediately what was going on? 

NATHAN ADAM, PROFESSOR, MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY:  Yes, pretty much. 

Essentially, once you heard the drum loop start at the beginning of the song, the lead guitar player and the drummer kind of gave each other a look.  And you could tell that something wasn‘t quite right, because the drummer didn‘t start to immediately play over the loop.  And then the guitar player tried to cover kit up by strumming a couple of notes and getting back online with the program. 

But she pretty quickly figured out when she heard her voice coming over the sound system that this was not the correct song. 

NORVILLE:  Not only did she figure out, but everybody in that studio and everybody at home watching realized, wait a moment, this wasn‘t supposed to happen on TV.  And those tricks may go on more often than we think. 

ADAM:  Right. 

NORVILLE:  How many live performances have this kind of tape loop assisting the singers? 

ADAM:  Well, actually it‘s pretty common, especially in a lot of the higher-end acts. 

And in terms of—is everyone calling it a Milli Vanilli moment or lip a synching.  A lot of what goes anymore is not necessarily lip synching as in “American Bandstand,” Dick Clark, 1950s lip synching, where you‘re not actually hearing any live music. 

NORVILLE:  Right. 

ADAM:  You could actually hear the band playing live.  And they were just playing in synch with prerecorded tracks. 

The difference primarily is when you hear a live vocalist singing vs.  a live vocalist either propped up by some pre-recorded singing tracks or just singing—or pretending to sing, rather, and letting the prerecorded tracks do all the work for her. 

(CROSSTALK)

NORVILLE:  OK, I want to replay the tape so that you can look at it and kind of give us the color commentary as we go along.  So let‘s roll the tape, Ray (ph), so we can take a look at it. 

ADAM:  OK.

NORVILLE:  Now, it starts out.  She is doing the little hoochie koochie dance.  The bands starts.

ADAM:  And you can hear the track starting in the background.  And, of course, at this point, she desperately realizes that she is in the wrong song.  The electric guitar player on the side starts to play along.  And the bass and rhythm guitar player just kind of stand there realizing this is not right.  She tries to cover it up. 

(CROSSTALK)

NORVILLE:  What should she have done?  She is sort of hopping along like the Easter Bunny or something.  But what should she have done, just said, hey, wait a second, guys, we did that song already because they had done that song already? 

ADAM:  Really, that‘s the case.  Essentially, there was either a programmer or somebody behind the scenes rolling a prerecorded multitrack, probably tracks that they originally recorded in the studio. 

Since she is on “Saturday Night Live,” she could have actually just pretended to lip synch and made a joke out of it and maybe everybody would have thought it was a skit.  That would have been the other approach.

NORVILLE:  OK.

At the end of the show, she blamed the band. 

ADAM:  Yes. 

NORVILLE:  Not cool. 

ADAM:  Well, that is human nature.  In fact, probably one of the producers even told her, blame the band and we‘ll try to turn it into a joke. 

But, still, definitely not cool.  Your band had nothing to do with it. 

In fact, they tried to bail her out by going ahead and playing the song.  And had she just gone ahead and sang the song anyway, it may have looked silly because she had already sang it, but would have looked better than just walking off stage. 

NORVILLE:  Now, you‘ve been able to do a little studio magic for us over the weekend.  And you have prepared a track that you‘ve done with one of Snoop Dog‘s producers, I gather, to let us understand kind of the difference between the naked raw voice and the sort of backed-up vocal.  So why don‘t you just have it, hit your buttons, and let us see the difference, because I think it‘s very revealing. 

ADAM:  Absolutely. 

Well, this first cut you‘re going to hear is just 10 seconds of a track that we recorded with just one single vocal.  And then we‘ll pray it back again and add essentially a guide vocal or a prerecorded support vocal.  And what you‘ll hear is kind of the thickening.  It sounds bigger and fatter.  And it‘s very common in a recording scenario to do that to add emphasis.

But in a live scenario, it‘s either used so that you can drop out and not sing a part, so that the guide vocal will carry on for you and you can just lip synch or it‘s used to add emphasis during a song.  So here is the first demonstration, which is just the raw vocal singing and sounding normal. 

NORVILLE:  OK.  OK, hit it.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing):  All I want to do is make this money with you.  Baby, can‘t you see living in luxury.  I want to be...

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ADAM:  And then I‘m going to fade up now the secondary vocal, basically adding support for a singer that either couldn‘t hit the right notes or just wanted to add some fill-out. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing):  All I want to do is make this money with you. 

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ADAM:  So you hear the double vocal that starts to—you can hear that there is more than one person singing the same part, which oftentimes is a prerecorded track in fact. 

NORVILLE:  And I wonder, you hear this.  It obviously sounds richer.  It sounds a lot more like the C.D. that you would buy and play in your car or whatever. 

ADAM:  Yes. 

NORVILLE:  But it doesn‘t sound like what you would hear at concert.  And I wonder if concert-goers are in some small way responsible.  You pay a lot of money for a ticket.  You want a really good show.  You want them jumping from the rafters and dancing and singing brilliantly.  Can humans actually do all of that? 

ADAM:  Not really. 

And that‘s really what you see a lot more than just straight-out lip synching of vocalists anymore, it seems, because if you have a Madonna or a Backstreet Boys executing moves off a trampoline, well, you just simply can‘t maintain your pitch and composure and continue to belt out the best vocal performance ever. 

In addition, a lot of concert-goers expect the live performance to sound like the C.D.  And with budgets being what they are in a shrinking music industry, it‘s difficult to bring an orchestra or string a section or whatever along, as well as a rack of background vocalists.  So a lot of artists do.

NORVILLE:  Yes, but it‘s one thing to have the strings and the horns on tape.  It‘s another thing to have the person that you paid $125 or whatever for a ticket on tape.  And I think that‘s what gets people a lot, you know, kind of bent out of shape. 

ADAM:  Absolutely.

NORVILLE:  I think the other thing on this is, there were so many different explanations.  She said it was the band. 

The next morning, the excuse was, her voice had been weak from singing that song and promoting it so much.  And then her dad came out with this statement and said she had gastric reflux disease.  He said: “Just like any artist in America, she has a backing track that she pushes so you don‘t have to hear her croak through a song on national television.  No one wants to hear that.”  And no one wants to see the gastric reflux.

But if you‘re making your living as a singing star, is it unreasonable to expect that they sing? 

ADAM:  I don‘t think it is at all.  I think it‘s very reasonable.  And we should expect it.  So I think that‘s why you‘ve seen careers end after Milli Vanilli and other artists proved that they really couldn‘t necessarily sing live on national TV or otherwise.  So, in this case, it may very well damage her career. 

But, at the same time, I think audiences in general probably need to be probably a little forgiving, in that it may well have been a backing track.  There is no way to completely tell in any particular performance, except for watching for the nuances of maybe the way they might cover their mouth with the microphone or checking to see if the light is turned on and the microphone is maybe turned off.  So things like that can be pretty quick giveaways. 

(CROSSTALK)

NORVILLE:  I feel like we are a more informed consumer now thanks to you, Nathan Adam.  Appreciate your time tonight.

ADAM:  Thank you, Deborah.

NORVILLE:  And when we come back, talk about things going wrong.  We‘ll try to figure out with an excerpt skating team what happened in a horrifying accident over the weekend. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NORVILLE:  A terrifying moment at a figure skating competition in Pittsburgh over the weekend as Russian pair skater Maxim Marinin was lifting his partner, Tatiana Totmianina, in a one-handed lift, but she fell to the ice, face first. 

She lost consciousness, was taken to the hospital, where she was diagnosed as having sustained a concussion, a bruised eye and bruised ribs.  But neurological tests indicated that that‘s it.  She is banged up, but she is going to be OK.  Tatiana says she doesn‘t remember a thing. 

Get this.  She says she is ready to get back on the ice again and could start training again in as little as 10 days. 

Joining me now to talk about the accident are figure skaters Liz Putnam Sean Wirtz.  They placed fifth at the Skate America competition this weekend.  They were there when Tatiana had her horrible fall. 

And thank you so much.  And congratulations on fifth place. 

SEAN WIRTZ, FIGURE SKATER:  Thank you. 

LIZ PUTNAM, FIGURE SKATER:  Thank you. 

NORVILLE:  I am imagining that this must be just the biggest fear when a pair are on the ice, that something like this is going to happen—Sean.

WIRTZ:  Definitely, probably in pair skating.

You realize when you get into this sport, when you get into the pair skating, that it is very dangerous.  But watching that tape, just one little slip of the edge and that could happen.  It‘s very scary. 

NORVILLE:  Before we roll the tape, you were there.  You were watching.  They were the last performers at the competition. 

What, Liz, were you thinking when you saw the tumble happen on the ice? 

PUTNAM:  I think everybody, as we were watching, they were skating really well, and everybody was just completely shocked, because they are world champions.  They‘re the best pair skaters in the world.  They‘re extremely solid all the time, so it was extremely shocking to see it, and it was terrifying.  It was really difficult to watch. 

NORVILLE:  So if people who are best in the world can have this kind of accident, it must be terrifying when you are at the beginning levels of this sport trying to learn the craft and learn how to do the lifts and all of that.

WIRTZ:  Yes. 

NORVILLE:  I want to roll the tape.  And, Sean, if you would, from the point of view of the man who was doing the lift, let‘s roll the video and give us your sense as they‘re our here.  Tell me what‘s happening.

WIRTZ:  It looks like it goes up OK.  If you can see at the top, it looks like—oh, it‘s so hard.

NORVILLE:  Yes.  It‘s so quick.

WIRTZ:  Even just watching that.  He was struggling a bit with his arms to properly put it up, so watch the arms.  He is muscling it and then he just slips. 

(CROSSTALK)

NORVILLE:  It looks like he lost a little bit of his footing, too.

WIRTZ:  His edge.

(CROSSTALK)

NORVILLE:  That he took an edge.

WIRTZ:  See, watch, just one little slip of the edge.  And that is so hard to watch.  That‘s pair skating.  That happens.  And it‘s so scary.

NORVILLE:  And, Liz, when you are up there, did she have, do you think, an inkling that this is happening?  We see it in slow-mo and it‘s quick. 

PUTNAM:  Yes. 

NORVILLE:  Did she know it was happening?

PUTNAM:  I think it probably happened so quickly for her, she didn‘t even really realize what was happening, because it‘s something that we practice every single day.  That‘s a very unusual fall, and it‘s not something that you are expecting when you are going up into the air.  And pair skating is all about trust.  So, on the way up, you are not thinking about something bad happening.

You‘re thinking about, especially as a pair girl, just being strong up in the air and doing what you have to do.  And that‘s not something that you are really usually expecting to happen. 

NORVILLE:  Have you been on the ice since the accident this weekend, the two of you together practicing? 

WIRTZ:  No, we finished skating.  And it‘s hard to get back on the ice, especially pair skating.  And you see a fall like that, you are so scared, because they are the best team in the world.  And they are great people.  And when you see that happen, it‘s pretty frightening. 

NORVILLE:  What do you do, Sean, to—Liz is just big as a minute.  You probably weigh 50 pounds soaking wet, but 50 pounds when you‘re spinning around, that‘s still weight. 

WIRTZ:  Yes. 

NORVILLE:  How do you ensure that you are physically strong enough to lift your partner, while at the same time doing the intricate moves?  And you are the guy on the bottom of the pile, so you have got a lot of things you have to be conscious of?

WIRTZ:  Yes.  You have got to work on a lot.  And pair guys have to be very solid on their feet and very strong.  And there‘s a lot of timing involved.  And one little slip, and that is what could happen.  There‘s nothing wrong with Maxim.  He‘s a strong guy.  He‘s a great—one of the best pair skaters in the world.  And just one little slip and that‘s what could happen. 

NORVILLE:  Well, she is an incredible young lady, too, because she has talked to the press after this happened, when she was at the hospital.  And this is what Tatiana had to say about the accident and going forward.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TATIANA TOTMIANINA, FIGURE SKATER:  I am doing much better than Saturday night, but, still, I can see just by my one eye.  But, anyway, I am still alive.  I have pain in my body, in my head, but I am in one piece. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NORVILLE:  You all trained together.  I know that you know Tatiana, Liz.  What words of support do you have for her when she is going through a period like this? 

PUTNAM:  Well, I think she knows that everybody that was there and everybody that has seen the accident, our thoughts and prayers are with her.  And we are all just so happy that she is as well as she is, because she is very fortunate.  That was such a terrible fall, and I think that we are all there to support her and encourage her through the rest of the season. 

NORVILLE:  And, Sean, what will you guys do to bolster up Maxim?  He must feel just horrible that this happened, grateful that she is going to be OK, but still awful.

WIRTZ:  He must feel terrible.  I can only imagine what he is feeling, and his coach and Tatiana.

You know, I just wish them the best.  And I am sure they are going to come through this and be really stronger than ever together, because they have to work together on this.  And I‘m just wishing them best of luck. 

NORVILLE:  Yes.  And everybody is, but, you know, there‘s like, in the back of my mind, there‘s this perverse thought, is this going to be good for ratings?  Will people now go, oh, wow, skating, you never know what‘s going to happen?  And it‘s always a high audience sport.

Do you think more people are going to watch, Liz? 

PUTNAM:  Well, I think sometimes figure skating, it‘s taken as very elegant and fragile.  And it‘s actually very athletic and very difficult, and it‘s times like this, you see just how dangerous the sport really is. 

NORVILLE:  You do.

PUTNAM:  So I think people maybe will understand a little better. 

NORVILLE:  All right, Liz Putnam, Sean Wirtz, thank you for being here.  We wish you well out on the ice next time you put the skates on. 

WIRTZ:  Thank you. 

PUTNAM:  Thank you very much.

NORVILLE:  We will be back in just a moment, look ahead to the Scott Peterson case.

Stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NORVILLE:  We like to hear from you, so send us your ideas and e-mails to us at NORVILLE@MSNBC.com.  Some of your messages are posted on our Web page.  That address is NORVILLE.MSNBC.com, which is where you can sign up for our newsletter. 

Tomorrow night, we are going to have a program here.  We are going to be talking about the Scott Peterson trial.  The trial is getting close to the end, as they get ready to rest the defense.  And we will have the latest on the case before it goes to the jury. 

That‘s our program for tonight.

Joe Scarborough has a program coming up next, more on President Clinton on the campaign trail. 

We‘ll see you tomorrow night.

“SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY” is next.

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

END   

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