updated 12/13/2004 1:53:30 PM ET 2004-12-13T18:53:30

Guest: Jimmy Carter, Paul Pfingst, Michael Hirsh, Mark Burnett

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Tonight, an intimate interview with an uniquely American man, former President Jimmy Carter on his new book, “Sharing Good Times.”  Plus the former president on the war in Iraq and the situation in the Middle East.  Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  We‘re honored to be joined by the 39th president of the United States, Jimmy Carter.  President Carter is the author of 19 books.  The latest is “Sharing Good Times.”  Mr. President, thank you. 


MATTHEWS:  I did work for you once.  Make that clear. 

CARTER:  All right.

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me ask you about this—your growing up.  The north, as you know, is very segregated.  The north, you live in one neighbor, it tends to be white.  Another neighborhood tends to be black.  You lived in a very integrated neighborhood.  According to your book, you had a lot of black playmates when you were growing up. 

CARTER:  All my playmates were black.  I lived in a little community called Archery (ph) in a rural area.  And I didn‘t have any white neighbors at all.  So all my kids with whom I fought and wrestled and went fishing and worked in the field and so forth were African-Americans.  And that was my life.  So when I got to be school age, we had to separate during the daytime, but I always felt like I was in an alien environment when I was in Plains, Georgia with white kids.  rMDNM_I was eager to get back where I belonged with my black playmates.

MATTHEWS:  Was that a common culture, there was this still a cultural difference between black and white, even though you were hanging around with kids who were black? 

CARTER:  Well, that was the way it was in the rural areas. 

MATTHEWS:  Everybody had the same accent, right? 

CARTER:  Absolutely.  Yes.  In fact, sometimes I had to interpret what my black kids, playmates said to my mommy and daddy, because they couldn‘t quite understand our language. 

MATTHEWS:  Your combined language. 

CARTER:  But when we got ready to go to Americus, to a movie, on the train, my friend A.D. Davis and I would go to the train track and we would put up a flag and they would stop and pick us up.  He would go to the colored section, I would go to the white section.  We‘d get off the train in Americus, walk down the street hand in hand as friends, get to the movie theater.  And we would buy tickets.  He would go around in the back and climb up the stairs to the third floor, where he could hardly see the screen.  I would go down to where the white folks stayed.  And then we got on the train in separate places and drove back. 

MATTHEWS:  How did that feel for you?  You were used to it, I guess?  

CARTER:  Well, I think at that time I just accepted it as part of life.  And I never really realized that there was a distinction between me and them. 

MATTHEWS:  But did your friend say, I guess we got to split up here? 

Or how did you verbalize it? 

CARTER:  I was 14 years old before that happened.  We started to walk through a gate.  In fact, I wrote a poem about it called “The Pasture Gate.”  And A.D. and Milton and Johnny and Edmund, my three—four good black playmates, stepped back at a gate and let me walk through first.  I thought they had a trip wire there, they wanted me to fall on my face or something.  And I got through and finally, it came to me that their parents had probably told them that they and I had reached an age where black and whites separated and they were to treat me in the future as superior. 

And that was a kind of a shock to me.  And so it was—out of—and from then on, we were kind of different.  Because when you reach the age of 14, you‘re immersed in high school, playing basketball and baseball, and go on with girlfriends, and that sort of things.  So that‘s when I and my black playmates began to separate. 

But it was ingrained in me then, I think, very deeply, what I later adopted as, you know, that human rights is a basic foundation of a foreign policy.  And when I was elected governor, I made an eight-minute inaugural speech.  And in that speech—this was in 1971 -- I announced that I had traveled over the state of Georgia more than any other politician.  That was true.  And I say to you very frankly, this is my verbatim speech, that the time for racial discrimination is over. 

And it was that speech in ‘71 that put me on the front cover of “Time” magazine two months later. 

MATTHEWS:  The new South.

CARTER:  The new South, and there were some other governors the same way, as you know, Dale Bumpers and Ruben Eskew (ph) and John West.  And Linwood Holton, Republican in Virginia, all of that took place the same year. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, what strikes me, is that you grew up as a young kid with young black kids.  But there was that terrible time it seems to be when it really breaks.  For example, you hear about mammies or black women who take care of white kids, and they‘re very close.  Until a certain point, and they just—the black women like know the kid‘s going to break bad at a certain point and just become a white guy.  Is that what happens? 

CARTER:  I think that happens, yeah.  And that was the origin of my book. 

MATTHEWS:  In the book, you also talk about being a Naval officer. 

You were a submariner. 

CARTER:  I was.

MATTHEWS:  And you talk about the time you guys were invited to a sort of a formal dance in Bermuda, which is British. 

CARTER:  Yeah.

MATTHEWS:  What happened?

CARTER:  Well, we tied up on that USS K-1 (ph), which was a killer submarine, designed exclusively to hunt down and destroy Soviet submarines while we were both submerged.  It was an innovative little machine.  First ship the Navy built of any kind after the second world war.

And we only had 50 sailors on board.  It was a small ship.  So we pulled into Bermuda, and the day after we got there, we got an invitation from the aide to the British governor general, that he wanted our crew to come to a ball that he was having, so we could meet the Bermuda debutantes and that sort of thing.  So all of us were overjoyed.

So a couple of days later, I happened to be on duty.

MATTHEWS:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) pretty good, huh?

CARTER:  Well, yeah, well, we thought any kind of woman...

MATTHEWS:  Classy British women.  Yeah, go ahead.

CARTER:  Anyway, all the crew particularly were excited.  So a couple of days later, here came the same aide to the ship, and I happened to be on duty that day, and he had a message from the governor general, saying of course, this invitation does not apply to anyone who‘s not white.  So I took the message, the written message down to the captain, and the captain informed the chief of the boat, who assembled the entire crew.  And the crew drafted a response to the governor general, which was delivered to the captain.  The captain read it and said, I cannot relate this language to the governor general of Bermuda.  It was very...

MATTHEWS:  Screw you, basically.

CARTER:  It was worse than that.  I mean, it was really...

MATTHEWS:  What year was this, Mr. President?  

CARTER:  This was in 1951. 

MATTHEWS:  So it was pretty early in terms of the change coming...

CARTER:  You know, this was Truman, my hero, in 1948, ordained one of the most courageous political things that he ever did, that there would be no more racial discrimination in the military, and that included my submarine. 

Well, it was five years later after that, that Rosa Parks sat on the front seat of a bus in Montgomery and no one had ever heard of Martin Luther King Jr. until five years later.  But Truman did it, and this was long before there was any sort of racial integration in the whole nation.  A very profound change.  That was in 1951.  And even as late as 1970, when I made my governor speech, that was 20 years later. 

MATTHEWS:  And you basically said you weren‘t going to go to this event, and everybody was happy.  You weren‘t going to go to this British affair. 

CARTER:  It was an insult to all of our crew.  One reason, I have to admit, it was not just a matter of a racial thing.  The key black guy on our ship was named Russell.  And he was the best, fast softball pitcher on the East Coast.  The ball that he threw was almost completely unhittable. 

MATTHEWS:  Underhand or overhand? 

CARTER:  He threw underhand.  And fast.  I mean, nobody could see it.  Sometimes the opposite team would get a hit, but they would basically shut their eyes and swing, and sometimes the bat would hit the ball.  But anyway, he was a hero on our ship and one of the most delightful guys I‘ve ever known.  

MATTHEWS:  I got to ask you this question, being a submariner, this is

·         I want to talk about gender in a minute, about you and Rosalynn Carter, because it‘s fascinating, how you figured things out, your marriage.

Being in a submarine, you go down, you‘re going underwater.  Now you are telling me you‘re in a submarine killer.  So you‘re in a submarine fighting another submarine, and a lot of people don‘t like going underwater when they swim.  And you‘re going—how deep did you go? 

CARTER:  Oh, that was a secret then. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, it‘s not now.

CARTER:  More than 400 feet.  I mean, you go pretty deep. 

MATTHEWS:  And when you were in combat, what, what...

CARTER:  Well, you would ordinarily come up to a shallower depth than that, because you would probably want to fire your torpedoes from closer to the surface. 

MATTHEWS:  Did you ever see that movie “Das Boot” about the German submarine? 

CARTER:  Yeah, I saw it.  Yeah.

MATTHEWS:  Is it real? 



CARTER:  I remember one scene in “Das Boot” where they were down very deep, maybe 600 or 700 feet, and water was coming into the hull and they were trying to stop up the water with a mattress or something like that.  I mean, it was ridiculous. 

MATTHEWS:  The pressure...

CARTER:  The pressure would be—would be uncontrollable. 

MATTHEWS:  I liked it when the sausages were hanging, and you could get a sense of the smells on those ships. 

CARTER:  Well, that‘s true.  But you know, I liked “Das Boot”—“Das Boot” or whatever you call it. 

MATTHEWS:  I think it‘s “Das Boot.”

CARTER:  But anyway, it was good.  But they didn‘t...

MATTHEWS:  You never got claustrophobia?  You never said, God, I got to get out of this place?

CARTER:  No.  On the same ship, in fact on the same crew as I just described to you, we were out for 19 days, had been completely submerged for 19 days, and one of the men in my crew, electrician‘s mate third class, got claustrophobia...

MATTHEWS:  On the 19th day. 

CARTER:  The 19th day.  Well, and we didn‘t help him much, because he got violent and we had to strap him in his bunk.  And he was on the verge of death.  And finally the captain, contrary to his orders from the chief of Naval operations, surfaced the ship.  We were supposed to stay down 30 days.  Surfaced the ship, and a helicopter came out and picked up this sailor and took him back.  But...

MATTHEWS:  That was a good call, wasn‘t it? 

CARTER:  It was.  He would have died, I think, had it not brought him



MATTHEWS:  Just from fear.  rMDNM_

CARTER:  Well, you go through a very strict psychological or psychiatric test before you go into a submarine, just to make sure you don‘t have claustrophobia, but he developed it somehow or another.

MATTHEWS:  Does that help in politics, to be used to being underwater for 30 days?  I think it teaches patience.

CARTER:  If you had 30 days, you could probably relax.

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, we‘re going to come back with more of President Carter.  We‘ve been talking about his book, “Sharing Good Times,” about growing up in the segregated south.  I want to talk about being married to Rosalynn Carter.  Some interesting stuff in here.  We‘ll be right back to talk to President Carter about the big stuff, too.  The Middle East and the future of this war in Iraq and of course his party, the Democrats.  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with President Jimmy Carter.  You talk in the book about a time, I guess everybody who has been married a long time, I‘ve only been married about 25.  How long have you been married with Rosalynn? 

CARTER:  58 years. 

MATTHEWS:  Different league.  That‘s the big league.  You once told her, I have to go on the road next week, get my clothes together.  She said...

CARTER:  She said get your own clothes ready.  Until then I had been the dominant partner in our marriage.

MATTHEWS:  Old school. 

CARTER:  Old school just like my daddy was with my mother and my grandparents in that era.  But I realized then that she was working just as hard, if not harder than I was.  That she had to get her own stuff ready.  And we had learned finally, after the years of hard work and living in a housing project and trying to make a living and that sort of thing to have a good time. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s get this straight.  You were in a housing project because you were in the service, right?

CARTER:  No.  After I left the Navy I didn‘t have any time.  I just resigned and came home.  We didn‘t have any money so we lived in a government housing project. 

MATTHEWS:  Really?  Public housing?

CARTER:  Yes.  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  A future president. 

CARTER:  Absolutely. 

MATTHEWS:  Up by your bootstraps.  So you and Rosalynn basically share all the basics.  You don‘t do the laundry, do you? 

CARTER:  No.  I don‘t do laundry. 

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t vacuum, do you? 

CARTER:  No.  But we do everything else together.

CARTER:  I never would have been president had we not had a family commitment because every day that I campaigned for president we had seven simultaneous campaigns going on.  That‘s why...

MATTHEWS:  The whole family. 

CARTER:  The whole family. 

MATTHEWS:  I was struck when I went to cover you in Tijuana.  You were doing Habitat For Humanity.  You were both carrying two by four‘s.  You were doing the job.  It wasn‘t a PR stunt.  And Mrs. Carter was doing it all, too.  You both had nail aprons on.  Let me ask about the big picture stuff, the real reason we wanted you on the show besides talking about your book...

CARTER:  Let me say one other thing.  The whole book is about the fact that although we are driven to succeed in business and being a submarine officer and being governor and being president, everybody ought to take time out to have a good time.  To enjoy life.  To have fun.  And it‘s better—that‘s good.  But it‘s better if you do it with somebody you really care for.  Either your wife or your children, your grandchildren, or sometimes just your friends. 

MATTHEWS:  I‘m getting a lesson on lightening up from Jimmy Carter. 

You‘re the most hard working guy I‘ve ever met in my life. 

CARTER:  People think that.  If they read the book they‘ll know.

MATTHEWS:  The name of the book is “Sharing Good Times.”  The name of the show is HARDBALL.  I want to ask you, Mr. President, about this, we had King Abdullah on this week.  It is a big week for us with two heads of state. 

CARTER:  He is a fine young man. 

MATTHEWS:  He said this Iraq thing could turn out bad because it could become a situation where the majority Shia who are like Iranians join up with Iran after the election and say by February of next year, just a couple months away, you could have two Mullah-led fundamentalist countries that don‘t like us. 

CARTER:  I think that‘s a possibility.  Abdullah is a Sunni Muslim.  I think he would align himself and his opinion with the minority of Iraqis. 

MATTHEWS:  The ones in Baghdad. 

CARTER:  That‘s right.  And who are associated with Saddam Hussein.  But the Shia is probably 60 to 65 percent of the total.  If there‘s an election, the Shia will be the heavy majority.  And they are already putting together a coalition.  I noticed in the news, the Shia leaders are now saying we may not go through with this election in too much of a hurry because we don‘t want to alienate completely the Sunnis because the allegation will be that—world opinion will be it is not an honest election. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s a good sign.  They want everybody in. 

CARTER:  I think it is much better if everybody is in it.

MATTHEWS:  Is democracy simply having elections?  If one side wins and they have 60 percent to 65 percent of the population, and it is our way or the highway for the next 10 years, is that a democracy?  If they have burqas (ph) brought back and women have to cover their faces and all kinds of strict rules, is that your idea of democracy? 

CARTER:  Last week, I was in Mozambique.  And the Carter Center conducted its 53rd election.  There, and in some other countries that I could name if we had more time, they have a policy that the majority rules.  So if you get a majority and you‘re in office, which the party has done in Mozambique, you appoint all the policemen.  You approve all the school teachers. 

MATTHEWS:  To the victor goes to the spoils. 

CARTER:  You appoint the officials that run the elections.  So when the next election comes along, it very difficult for the opposition to get a fair break. 

MATTHEWS:  Is that a democracy? 

CARTER:  I think it is—it is democracy, yes, but not democracy that I would prefer.  It would be much better to have a constitution where the minority had a major role to play. 

MATTHEWS:  Is it worth American blood, 1,200 guys killed so far, and some women, of course, and 9,000 wounded and visiting at Walter Reed, a lot of amputations.  In all the hostility of the world.  Is that worth getting an elected Mullah government in Iraq? 

CARTER:  No.  I‘ve always thought since long before it began, that the Iraqi war was unnecessary.  And it was not designed at that time to bring democracy to Iraq.  It was designed, as you know, for a number of reasons that were alleged.  One was that we were in danger of the existence of the security of America.  They had weapons of mass destruction and things of that kind.  It wasn‘t true.  I didn‘t believe and most people didn‘t. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you make of this ideology that we should go to other countries when we have the opportunity to enforce them? 

CARTER:  Force is the wrong word.  I think we should go and encourage them to have a change in government.  That‘s why my life for the last 25 years has been devoted to promoting democracy but also freedom and also peace.  And alleviation of suffering.  That‘s why—the election before Mozambique was in Indonesia which was a remarkable case of 30 years of totalitarian dictatorship.  And now two democratic elections.  And now Indonesia, as I said, the fourth largest nation in the world, the largest Muslim nation on earth, is an absolutely good democracy. 

After Suharto, who is still living, his vice president who took over when he was forced out of office, asked me to come over. 

MATTHEWS:  Let talk about the Middle East when we come back.  You‘re heading over there. 

CARTER:  I might be.  I‘m planning to. 

MATTHEWS:  More with President Jimmy Carter when we come back.


MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with President Jimmy Carter.  He is out talking about his book, “Sharing Good Times.”  We‘re talking about that.

But one of the areas you‘ve really become a great war leader throughout history, probably, is bringing together Egypt, which was Israel‘s No. 1 strategic threat, and the state of Israel, for which you become a nobel laureate. 

Let me ask you but the president‘s commitment.  He has said that by the end of the second term, he wants to see a Palestinian state.  And we just had King Abdullah on of Jordan which is right in the middle of this.  He said we need to move a lot faster than 4 years.  He said we need it in a year or so. 

CARTER:  Well, I think if the Palestinians can have a good election on the 9th of January, now scheduled just a month from now.  And if they can choose a leader that has 2 basic characteristics.  One is the trust of his own people.  And not look like he‘s a puppet from Washington or from the Israelis.  And if that leader will genuinely attempt to control all acts of violence of Palestinians against the Israelis, then we have a good chance to move toward negotiation. 

And if we finally do have negotiators, which this administration has prohibited so far, then there‘s a chance for settlement.  But the settlement has to have two basic principles.  One is—both not easy—the withdrawal of the settlement from the vast area of the West Bank. 

MATTHEWS:  Total withdrawal. 

CARTER:  Not total.  And the Palestinians have agreed and the Geneva accords, which were revealed about a year ago, to let over 50 percent of all Israeli settlers stay in the West Bank.  But the ones that‘s near Jerusalem.  That‘s one premise that has to be done.  Withdrawal from the West Bank. 

And the other one is, in return for that, and it‘s available, and Abdullah would approve this, that all the Arab world, including Palestinians, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and everybody else, would acknowledge Israel‘s right to exist and to live in peace. 

So a peaceful Israel, and a uniform Palestinian state that includes the West Bank. 

MATTHEWS:  Who meets your standard—who do you think will neat people‘s standard of the Palestinian leader?  Bargoudi, the guy who is in jail right now, or Mahmoud Abbas? 

CARTER:  I don‘t know.  I‘m very likely going to be there on the 9th of January. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s interesting. 

A stronger leader who is a little more anti-Israeli or a little more anti-American than a weaker leader that may like us, but doesn‘t have the clout to call the shots? 

CARTER:  Chris, I‘m going to avoid that question.  Because I‘m going to be a nonbiased observer.  And if I say anything that would indicate a preference among Palestinians that would contrary to... 

MATTHEWS:  30 seconds.  From you book, Mr. President, what was it like climbing Kilimanjaro? 

CARTER:  Oh, it was great.  You know, it took my 5 days to get to the top and a couple of days to come down.  It was one of the greatest challenges I‘ve had.  And the most gratifying thing.

I got there as planned just exactly at sunrise.  And it was snowing heavily.  I couldn‘t see anything.  And I said I‘ve come all the way to the crater and I can‘t see anything.  All of a sudden, the wind blew the snow away and we saw the crater.  And then came back down, 19,000 feet. 

And I had been that high before that.  About 1,100 feet above the base camp near Mount Everest.  And then later we climbed up and down Mount Fuji. 

But my wife and I have been pretty avid mountain climbers.  And skiers.

MATTHEWS:  You went to Kathmandu as well, right? 

CARTER:  Absolutely.  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  It is all in this book, right? 

You have to read the book to learn these stories in detail. 

CARTER:  That‘s true, yeah.

MATTHEWS:  I think you ought to do that.

Anyway, thank you, Mr. President.  The name of the latest book, this a man of the world here, every part of it, “Sharing Good Times.”  Jimmy Carter. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

Thank you, Mr. President.

CARTER:  Thank you, Chris.


MATTHEWS:  This half-hour on HARDBALL, jurors deliberated today over whether Scott Peterson should live or die.  When we come back, we‘ll look at the chances of a celebrated defendant to escape the death penalty with Roy Black and Paul Pfingst. 

But, first, let‘s check in with the MSNBC News Desk. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

After two weeks of testimony in the penalty phase of Scott Peterson‘s trial, jurors are now weighing whether to sentence Peterson to death or life without parole for the murder of his wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Conner. 

But, as HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster reports, Scott Peterson is not the first high-profile convicted murderer to face a possible death sentence. 


DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Three weeks ago, the state of Texas executed Anthony Fuentes for the murder of a convenience store clerk. 

Fuentes was the 944th execution in the United States since the death penalty was legalized again by the Supreme Court. 

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH ®, TEXAS:  Gender should not play in the decision as to whether someone should be executed or not. 

SHUSTER:  And it was just five years ago when then Governor George W.  Bush created a stir after denying the pleas for mercy from pick axe murderer Karla Faye Tucker.

But despite the notoriety of the death penalty, national statistics show that juries, 95 percent of the time, choose instead to impose life in prison.  And that‘s also been the trend in the nation‘s highest-profile cases. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Ms. Yates, please stand.

SHUSTER:  Two years ago, Andrea Yates was found guilty of murder for the drowning deaths of three of her children.  But it took jurors just 40 minutes to agree on imposing life in prison instead of death. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  For a South Carolina jury, a life-or-death decision today in the case of Susan Smith. 

SHUSTER:  Ten years ago, David Smith begged a jury to give his wife the death sentence.  Susan Smith had strapped her children into their car seats before rolling the vehicle into a lake.  Jurors were shown a reenactment tape of what the children saw in the final minutes of their life.  But the jury was moved by Smith‘s troubled childhood and gave her life in prison. 

In the Washington, D.C., area sniper shootings two years ago, John Allen Muhammad and teenage accomplice Lee Malvo were both found guilty in a murder spree that left 10 people dead.  Malvo got life in prison.  Mohammed was sentenced to death. 

Oklahoma city bomber Timothy McVeigh got the death sentence.  Terry Nichols, who confessed to helping him pack the Ryder truck with explosives, got life.  Jeffrey Dahmer killed 15 young men while living in Milwaukee. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Did the defendant, Jeffrey L. Dahmer, have a mental disease?  Answer, no. 

SHUSTER:  His gruesome crimes involved cannibalism and necrophilia.  But Wisconsin doesn‘t allow capital punishment, so Dahmer got life without parole, though a fellow prisoner eventually murdered him. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Tonight, Berkowitz is being held here in a specially secured building of the Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn. 

SHUSTER:  New Yorkers may remember the Son of Sam.  In the 1970s, David Berkowitz murdered six people and injured seven others.  But at the time, the death penalty was unconstitutional.  So Berkowitz is serving life. 

CHARLES MANSON, CONVICTED MURDERER:  You‘ve got it stuck in your brain that I murdered somebody. 

SHUSTER:  California killer Charles Manson is also serving life.  And he gets more fan mail than any prisoner in the nation. 

(on camera):  Yes, we are indeed a nation obsessed with murderers and with the death penalty, although juries do not impose that sentence as often as it may seem. 

I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington. 


MATTHEWS:  Thank you, David Shuster.

Roy Black is a criminal defense attorney who counts William Kennedy Smith and sportscaster Marv Albert among his former clients.  He is also an NBC News legal analyst. 

Thank you, Roy.


MATTHEWS:  Paul Pfingst is a former district attorney for San Diego County who prosecuted child murderer David Westerfield.  He is also an MSNBC legal analyst. 

So let me ask you, both you gentlemen, first Roy. 

You know how—I was thinking before the program tonight how brilliantly horrible Hitler was because he humiliated eight million people before he executed them.  He took them out of contact with society.  He gave them no baths for six or whatever year—months.  He made them almost nonpeople in those horrible concentration camps.  And then, out of sight, out of mind, he executed them all. 

We do the opposite here on television.  We take somebody, some squirt like Scott Peterson, we make him celebrity stuff over the case of a year or two.  We make him almost above execution.  That‘s a premise.  Is it true? 

BLACK:  No.  I have to disagree with your premise, Chris. 

Take, for example, the original case, the Lindbergh baby kidnapping...

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

BLACK:  ... which was the first case that was really—the media was allowed in the courtroom.  And he was executed. 

Personally, I think...

MATTHEWS:  He had a German name during World War II, right?  That didn‘t help.

BLACK:  Well, it was in the 1930s, a little bit more than...


BLACK:  But look at Scott Peterson.  I would think in a lot of cases, a prosecutor wouldn‘t have sought the death penalty.  I think his celebrity and being on television so much has caused them to seek the death penalty.  And not only that, but they have mobs around the courthouse crying for death in this case.  So I think it has worked against him, not for him.

MATTHEWS:  Name a famous person everybody has heard of who has the celebrity quality that we have put to death. 

BLACK:  Well, the only one I could say is McVeigh recently. 


MATTHEWS:  Yes, but everybody hated him. 

BLACK:  Well, of course...

MATTHEWS:  And this Scott Peterson, they put him on.  They give him a haircut.  They let him wear nice suits.  They powder him up.  He looks like a movie star.  He could be a sleazeball, but he doesn‘t quite look like one.  You don‘t think that has cosmetized the guy—cosmeticized the guy? 

BLACK:  Well, Chris, there‘s something to say about that.  We usually only execute people we‘re afraid of.  So future dangerousness is an important element in whether or not a person gets the death penalty.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

BLACK:  So to be white, middle-class and looking good certainly helps Scott Peterson.

MATTHEWS:  So you think that is part of the reality here, the packaging?

BLACK:  Oh, there‘s no question about it.  That‘s why you have inner-city, usually black youths more likely to get the death penalty than anyone else. 

MATTHEWS:  I was just thinking—let‘s go to Paul Pfingst. 

You know, I was just checking the FBI figures for the last year.  One of producers said there was 14,000 people murdered in this country last year, 14,408, to be precise.  Not many have gotten the attention.  Certainly not the trials has gotten the attention Scott Peterson has for killing his wife, Laci, and their unborn child.

Has that helped or hurt his chances of getting off with life imprisonment? 

PAUL PFINGST, FORMER PROSECUTOR:  Well, a couple of things have helped.  Certainly, it has helped because he‘s gotten probably more resources than other defendants who are facing the death penalty would have. 

Even in California, where we‘re pretty generous with resources, Scott Peterson, because of the high profile, everybody wants to make sure that there‘s no claim that his defense is being deprived of anything, Chris, so I think that‘s really helped.  The other thing is that there are two types of celebrities in this world, the ones that come to—who are celebrities before the arrest.  And then...


PFINGST:  As O.J.  And then there are the celebrities after the arrest, such as Scott Peterson. 

The ones who are celebrities before the arrest, it is almost impossible to get a department for.  The ones who are celebrities after the arrest, it‘s much more easy.  For example, in San Diego, the Westerfield case, David Westerfield got the death penalty for killing young Danielle van Dam. 

But your point being, does celebrity status help a defendant?  In the death phase, yes.  But I think it hurts them in the guilt phase.  You‘re more likely to be convicted in a death penalty case if you‘re a celebrity after the arrest, perhaps a little less likely to get death. 

MATTHEWS:  Roy Black, would Scott Peterson be in bigger trouble if there had been one-vote verdict here for sentencing and guilt? 

BLACK:  No, I think he would be better off, because I think the prosecution did a lot more with the penalty phase than the defense did.  In fact, Mark Geragos admitted in his final argument that he had not prepared for the penalty phase, which I find astounding.  A lawyer has to prepare for this.


MATTHEWS:  Excuse me, Roy.

If they were forced, the jurors, to decide whether to let this guy go or punish him by death, wouldn‘t it be harder to let him go than to give him life imprisonment now, which is another option for them now? 

BLACK:  But it used to be they had to make the decision all at the same time. 


BLACK:  Whether guilt or innocence and the penalty.  He would have been better off with that.

MATTHEWS:  I like that better, too.  I think they have to belly up here. 

Are jurors afraid, Paul, just afraid to put a guy to death?  They‘re willing to say he‘s guilty, but they have a problem?  It is just a matter of guts and bellying up and saying, I will do what I have to do here?  If I were at the scene of the crime, I would stop it if it meant shooting this guy.  But since I‘m not at the scene of the crime, I still won‘t show the kind of guts that is necessary to render justice here.  I‘m going to let him off because it is just too hard to execute him. 

PFINGST:  I think the guys on the streets who are like the weekend warriors who say how they would be in battle, who say I would vote death, I would vote death, I would vote death, that‘s a very different circumstance when you get somebody into a jury room and your vote matters. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

PFINGST:  If you say yes, he dies. 

And what I do find is that, when jurors do get into the jury room, they become overwhelmed with the importance of what they‘re doing.  And some people just can‘t take the pressure and they vote for life without parole.  And it‘s because, simply, they can‘t make a decision that‘s important.  And very often, what you find is jurors come walking back into the courtroom and they‘re in tears when they have a death verdict because of the enormity of what they‘re doing. 

So some people just can‘t bring themselves to do it. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  I would like to hope I would be up to it, but I can imagine you getting very concerned about the case in a way that may not be good for justice by letting a guy off who shouldn‘t get off. 


BLACK:  But, Chris, could I just add one thing that‘s important for this?

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Sure.

BLACK:  The state, like the individual, has the right of self-defense.  When you can put somebody in jail for the rest of their life and they‘re not dangerous, do you really have a right to kill them?  I couldn‘t kill somebody under those circumstances. 

MATTHEWS:  Could you feed them for 30 or 40 years?  Would you like to be the guy bringing the tray of food for the next 30 years risking your life against a guy who has nothing to lose? 

BLACK:  Well, of course, the—well, that‘s the whole thing.  If they‘re dangerous, they‘re more likely to get the death penalty.  If they‘re not dangerous—you know, Scott Peterson is not going to be a threat to the guards in prison. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, he‘s been before. 

Anyway, thank you, Roy Black.  Thank you, Paul Pfingst.

I guess I sound tough. 

Up next, are soldiers being sent to battle with inadequate protective gear?  “Newsweek”‘s Michael Hirsh when we return. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 


MATTHEWS:  Coming up, inadequate armor for soldiers in Iraq made headlines this week, but “Newsweek” got to the story months ago.  An update on the latest when HARDBALL returns.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

This week, a soldier stood up to Secretary of Sort of Donald Rumsfeld and rebuked him for sending soldiers to the front lines without adequate battle gear.  It made front-page news, but the story has been told before. 

“Newsweek”‘s Michael Hirsh was one of the first to report that soldiers were being sent to fight for their country without the proper protective equipment. 

Michael I‘ve been trying to get a real fix on this, as is everybody watching.  We‘re engaged in a particular kind of war.  You drive around on roads.  You‘re patrolling.  You go over a mine, an improvised explosive device, what happens? 

MICHAEL HIRSH, “NEWSWEEK”:  Well, for most of the vehicles the soldiers are riding in, Humvees, trucks, there‘s a loss of life and limb. 

We‘ve had a devastating combination of a lot of anger on the part of the Iraqis and thousands of weapons caches around the country that went unsecured.  And the result has been what we‘ve seen. 

MATTHEWS:  So every time we aggravate a group of Iraqis or a family or whatever by breaking into their house at night or some other action which is taken as very negative by them, they go buy out and buy some explosive devices, plant them in the dust of a roadside and blow up a Humvee. 

HIRSH:  That‘s one of the theories of the insurgency. 


MATTHEWS:  I read that in the paper this week, that some senior officials or military guys are saying that. 

HIRSH:  Yes.  And there‘s no question. 

Many of us who have been to Iraq have heard the same thing, that there is this—this Arabic tribal vengeance that‘s exacted.  And you do have a lot of anger there.  There is a core of the insurgency that‘s organized, but you have also got a lot of hangers-on, add-ons that are willing to just take it to the Americans. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s break it out between the vehicles and the kind military people are talking about.  Are the Humvees safer than a regular truck? 

HIRSH:  Up-armored Humvees, the ones—which are still a minority, by

the way, fully up-armored, which have armor on all sides up and down, are -

·         would be considered safer than trucks.  A lot of the trucks are still not armored that they use in the convoys.

And what you have got here, Chris, basically is the total disappearance of the front line in an insurgency war.  And I think the Pentagon hasn‘t fully reckoned with that yet, the idea that the insurgents are hitting us always at our weakest points.  And a lot of times, those are the convoys of the trucks that most of which remain unprotected. 

MATTHEWS:  So just moving around from the Green Zone to somewhere else, it doesn‘t have to be a particularly hostile territory or recognized to be hostile.  You just get blown up.  It can happen anyway.


MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the difference now.  So it more dangerous to be in a truck or more dangerous to be in a Humvee, generally speaking? 

HIRSH:  I think it‘s probably more dangerous to be in most trucks these days, because fewer of them have got the armor, including—most of the 19,700 or so Humvees in the country now either have—either are fully armored.  They‘re coming in that way.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

HIRSH:  Or they have these armor kit that are added on.  I think about 15,000, one of the two. 

MATTHEWS:  Second question, what‘s the best class of soldier?  Are you better off as a regular Army or regular Marine or is it Guardsmen or Reservists? 

HIRSH:  I think that there‘s still the perception that the regular Army gets most of the best training and the best equipment.  It‘s difficult to say how true that is. 

Certainly, that‘s the perception on the part of a lot of the Reservists and the Guardsmen, that they do get less of a break than the other guys do. 

MATTHEWS:  Any chance this is going to stop, this blowing up of our guys and al little—we were out at—we were out at Andrews the other today.  Not at Andrews.  We were out at Walter Reed.  And we‘ll be back out there again next week.  And we‘ll be showing all that next week on HARDBALL. 

But it seems like this is just a continuing flow of amputees coming back via Germany back to the United States because of these vehicles they‘re driving in and the explosive devices that are being planted day after day by the insurgents. 

HIRSH:  Well, the Army, the Pentagon continues to adjust.  I think there was just an announcement today that they‘re going to expedite the production of armored Humvees, which is kind of interesting, coming right after Rumsfeld‘s embarrassment the other today with the soldier in Kuwait. 

But, no, the attacks are going to continue as long as we‘re the face of the opposition, which is why the overriding, the overarching policy of the administration has been to put the Iraqi troops forward and train them.  But the best estimates I‘ve heard is, that‘s two or three years off.  We‘re going to be dealing with this for at least a couple more years to come.

MATTHEWS:  It looks like it.

Thank you very much, Michael Hirsh.  You made the story work.  You dug it up first. 

Coming up, producer Mark Burnett, the mastermind behind many hit reality television series, including “Survivor,” “The Apprentice,” etcetera, joins us to talk about his upcoming daytime television show starring Martha Stewart.

Before we take a break, I want to tell you about a show that is very close to my heart.  I just mentioned it.  Next Thursday, HARDBALL will be at Walter Reed hospital with a story about a soldier‘s journey home.  I had a chance to talk to him earlier.  Here‘s a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  My friend, he wouldn‘t let me—he wouldn‘t let

me see my legs.  I was kind of not all there at first.  My head was still

ringing.  My ears were ringing.  I couldn‘t see at first.  Some guy, my

friend Johnny (ph) started working on me at first.  And he started patching

me up.  When I started coming around, I started directing him and tell him

·         make sure he was doing the right things.



MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

MSNBC‘s parent company, NBC Universal Television, and Martha Stewart Omnimedia announced this week the creation of a daily syndicated talk show hosted by Martha Stewart which will begin airing in the fall of 2005. 

The man behind such hit reality shows as “Survivor” and “The Apprentice,” Mark Burnett, will produce Martha‘s new show. 

So, this is unbelievable.  You have booked as your star someone who is on the inside right now, as we speak.  How did you work that? 

MARK BURNETT, PRODUCER:  Actually, Chris, I did the deal way before Martha went to jail. 

We had worked all the creative out in the middle of her legal problems.  So we had no idea whether she would even be convicted when we were working on it.  And obviously Martha chose, even though she is on appeal and legally, she could be home right now, she chose to get it over and done with for the good of her company. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, syndication is a very tricky business.  I‘m in it on myself on my Sunday show.  And I‘ve seen some people fail and some people succeed.  People like Ellen DeGeneres are doing great.  Some other shows aren‘t.

What makes you think that Martha Stewart has the legs for five days a week for a strip, a strip show? 

BURNETT:  Well, first of all, she had the legs for 11 years.  Her ratings were extremely high for most of the those years.  Only recently did they drop.  All I‘m going to do is reinvent the show, give it some more excitement, some more integration, and some more association with an audience, allowing Martha to really be who she is. 

You know Martha. 


BURNETT:  She is very funny.  She is very engaging.  And...

MATTHEWS:  But I also—she‘s got a great story, too.  A lot of people when they see somebody immensely successful figure they were born like that. 

Well, here‘s a woman who grew up in a sort of a Stanley Kowalski situation in Newark, a row house, not exactly a wonderful family situation, really kind of a really tough, a tough—Nutley, New Jersey, a very tough, hard-knocks growing-up period, who becomes this woman with the smell of bread in the air, the Connecticut farmhouse, the sort of the life everybody wants.  Are you going to be able to tell how she got from here to there? 

BURNETT:  Absolutely. 

The point of the show—it‘s great you brought this up—is letting people see who Martha really is.  You know her personally.  I know her personally.  She‘s very funny and engaging.  She is an icon for many women. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

BURNETT:  You know, Chris, she was the world‘s first self-made female billionaire.  And she made it from nothing.  No one gave her anything, as you know, as you just stated.   And she‘s inspiring.

And having her interact—if you‘ve seen her on other people‘s shows as guests, she is so funny, so engaging.  That‘s what I‘m going to bring out for this show, let people see the real Martha.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think she was innocent of the charges that she was convicted of and sent to prison for? 

BURNETT:  Sorry?  Say that again? 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think she‘s innocent? 

BURNETT:  Oh, well, I don‘t want to go into that. 

But the fact is, first of all, she wasn‘t convicted of the stock problem.  She was convicted of lying.  And it could easily be overturned on appeal.  The chances are, she may do the time, come out, and win the appeal, which means she wouldn‘t have had to have gone.  But she‘s a 63-year-old woman who is not complaining.  I was actually at jail visiting her a month or so ago. 

And they were telling her in the afternoon, she was going to have to clean the floor waxing machine.  Now, most people would be miserable.  She instead said, give me some paraffin, some turpentine, a wire brush, and I‘ll clean it.  She would do anything.  She‘s a doer.  She‘s a great woman.

MATTHEWS:  How is the book coming?  Is she writing a book in there?  I heard she is going to come out of jail with a book.

BURNETT:  I don‘t know.

All she told me was, she‘s learning lots of microwave recipes, because there‘s only a microwave there.  And she is the kind of person, like you and I, you know, you make the best of it.  There‘s no point in complaining.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about your secret, Mark Burnett, you happy, lucky, guy, you brilliant man of our time, you state-of-the-art street musician, theater man, everything else.  Let me ask you this. 

Why do people like reality TV, whether it‘s “The Apprentice” or the situation over in Shaba, in Kenya, where you‘ve been, out in the middle of nowhere?  Why do people like the real thing more than the brilliant script coming out of those young guys who write that stuff for the sitcoms out there in Hollywood? 

BURNETT:  The truth is, it is not about reality vs. nonreality. 

Many, many reality shows are rubbish and fail.  Equal number of comedies fail.  It is good TV vs. bad TV.  With mine, it‘s the casting and the execution and the arcs of the story.  All people want is stories.  It‘s like on your show.  You‘re entertaining people.  You‘re informing people.  It is all about the story. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Well, it‘s great having you on.  Good luck.  I know you don‘t need it, but everybody needs luck.  Good luck with Martha.  Say hello for me next time you‘re inside.  I‘m sure you‘ll be working up the development, as they say in Hollywood. 

It‘s great to have you on.  Good luck next week for the finale on Thursday night, that three-hour special, final show of “The Apprentice” at Lincoln Center.  That should be hot and all the secrets that are going to come out of that.

Anyway, join us Monday night.  Donald is coming.  Donald Trump will be here on HARDBALL, 7:00 Sunday evening.  Our guests include the Donald.  And be sure to tune in Thursday for a very special HARDBALL, inside Walter Reed military hospital, “A Soldier‘s Journey Home.”

Have a great weekend.



Copy: Content and programming copyright 2004 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2004 FDCH e-Media Inc. (f/k/a/ Federal Document Clearing House Inc., eMediaMillWorks, Inc.), ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and FDCH e-Media, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.


Discussion comments