updated 5/12/2005 8:23:03 AM ET 2005-05-12T12:23:03

Guest: Eric Braverman, Rick Doblin, Richard Roth, Stacey Honowitz, Lisa Bloom, Yale Galanter, Anne Bremner, Gary Coleman

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight‘s top headline, Macaulay says he wasn‘t home alone with Michael Jackson.  Does the star‘s testimony doom the DA‘s case? 

Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, where no passport is required and only common sense is allowed. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH (voice-over):  Hollywood Babylon or harmless fun?  One-time child star Macaulay Culkin testifies that one-time prince of pop Michael Jackson kept his glove to himself.  We‘ll go inside the courtroom and give you the latest. 

Plus, another ex-child star, Gary Coleman, talks about Jacko, pop stardom and the power of celebrity and whether that will be enough to allow Michael to walk free. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Everybody, walk closer to Union Station for me, please. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Then, chaos in the Capitol, as the White House and Congress evacuates under a heightened terror threat, as one small plane sends Washington into a panic. 

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  Mrs. Bush, as well as Mrs. Reagan, who is in town, were here at the White House, and they were taken to a secure location. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Two first ladies whisked to secure locations, as everybody else makes a run for it.  How could a plane get so close and how prepared were our leaders in Washington? 

Then, ecstasy, the popular drug that some blame for date rape and death among our young people.  But now the government has approved of this dangerous and illegal drug as a medical treatment.  That has some people asking if it‘s all a prescription for disaster. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER:  From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all.  Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome to the show. 

You know, Michael Jackson‘s case has now been trudging along for 72 days in court, but today was one of the biggest so far, as actor Macaulay Culkin testified for the defense.  The baby-face star of the “Home Alone” series took center stage under oath, revealing to a packed courtroom whether the one-time king of pop ever molested him. 

With me now is MSNBC‘s Jennifer London.  She‘s live from Santa Maria, California. 

Jennifer, you saw Culkin‘s testimony today.  Did you hear anything at all there that could have a major impact on this case and whether ultimately Michael Jackson walks or goes to jail? 

JENNIFER LONDON, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, good evening, Joe. 

And I can tell you this.  Macaulay Culkin was meant to cast doubt.  His testimony was meant to cast doubt on the prosecution‘s claim that Jackson had a history of molesting young boys.  And, today, he took the stand and said, Michael Jackson never molested him.  In fact, he called the allegation—quote—“absolutely ridiculous.”

Culkin also provided some insight into what his relationship with Michael Jackson was like, which began when Culkin was about 9 years old.  He said the two understood each other.  They related to each other.  They were both child stars that sort of had their childhood stolen from them because of fame and fortune.  It was almost as if they were two kindred spirits. 

And Culkin did not falter on cross-examination, despite an aggressive attack from prosecutor Ron Zonen, when Zonen suggested that perhaps Culkin was molested by Jackson when he was sleeping on the pop star‘s bed.  Culkin responded:  I think I would have been aware if something like that was happening to me. 

Now, Culkin became an unwilling participant in the Jackson trial when a prosecution testified that he saw Michael Jackson molest Culkin when Culkin was a young boy.  Culkin has publicly said before coming to take the stand today that he simply did not want to be involved in the trial.  And, Joe, even today, he said he hadn‘t really planned on testifying.  But Joe, I can tell you this.

I think it is safe to say both the defense and Jackson are certainly glad that he did. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Jennifer, any sense of how the jury responded to the child star in court? 

LONDON:  Joe, I can tell you I don‘t think the jury was really caught by Culkin‘s star power.  A lot of people were thinking, oh, he is a big Hollywood celebrity.  He is going to come in with this star power.  And I don‘t think the jury responded to that.  I think what they responded to was, Culkin came across as very credible.  He seemed sincere.

He seemed genuine.  When he didn‘t understand a question, he asked to have it repeated, so it didn‘t appear as if his testimony was rehearsed or if he was acting or playing a character while he was testifying.  And I think he added a lot of credibility to the defense‘s case that, with regard to the past uncharged allegations against Jackson, he never molested Macaulay Culkin. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Jennifer, a lot of us have been looking at this case with morbid curiosity.  And our opinions have bounced back and forth.  One week, I think Michael Jackson is going to jail.  The next week, it looks like he is going to get off scot-free. 

What is the feeling out there among the press that is covering this case?  What about inside the courtroom?  Is there a sense of momentum going in Michael Jackson‘s way or going the way of the prosecutor? 

LONDON:  Joe, I think the consensus would be that the momentum, at least right now, is going in favor of the defense.  A lot of people thought, when the prosecution wrapped its case, they had, that‘s it?  That‘s how they are ending the case?  And then the prosecution wrapped its case. 

The defense came out and immediately called into question the past allegations against Jackson, calling to the stand two boys that prosecution witnesses said they saw Michael Jackson molest.  These two boys said, it didn‘t happen, and today the jury hearing from Macaulay Culkin saying, it didn‘t happen to me. 

So I think, right now, people would say certainly the momentum is in favor of the defense.  But, Joe, we have to keep in mind the case is not over yet.  We have no idea what is going on in the minds of those jurors.  You know, we have the ability here with the media to talk with the analysts and talk amongst ourselves and share opinions and insights.  The jury doesn‘t have that luxury.  And we won‘t really know what they are thinking until they get the case, they deliberate, and they come back with a verdict. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Jennifer.  Not a good sign when you finish your side of the case and everybody says, that‘s it?  But, at the same time, you are exactly right, Jennifer London.  You—you look at all of these cases, and you never really know what the jury is thinking.  You don‘t know what is going to happen in the deliberation room.

And I can tell you, as somebody that has practiced inside the courtroom before, a lot of times, the jury comes back with a verdict that just completely catches everybody, including the judge, by surprise. 

Jennifer London, thanks so much for that report.  We appreciate it. 

Now let‘s move on now to Gary Coleman.  He is the star of the ‘70s TV series “Diff‘rent Strokes.”  He also starred in a run for governor of California, and he is now covering the Michael Jackson trial for All Comedy Radio. 

Gary, thanks a lot for being with us tonight in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

Why don‘t you talk about him?  You know, I could—I want to ask you about this concept of having a childhood stolen and how Macaulay Culkin and Michael Jackson share that, but first things first.  Let‘s talk about the news of the day.  You were there.  Talk about—talk about the atmosphere around the trial, as Macaulay Culkin went in to testify for Michael Jackson. 

GARY COLEMAN, ACTOR:  Well, actually, I wasn‘t in Santa Maria today, but I did get my news through other sources.

And I can certainly tell you, based on last week and this week, it‘s definitely appearing to me that this is a show trial.  It‘s a revenge trial.  Tom Sneddon always said he was going to try and get Michael Jackson one way or another.  And it was really proven to me when he didn‘t redepose his witnesses on the stand when they didn‘t say what he wanted them to say to get Michael Jackson convicted.  That really proved it to me. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Talk about Macaulay Culkin having a special bond with Michael Jackson, because they were—like you, they were both child stars.  They both talked about having their childhood stolen.  Do you think that Macaulay Culkin would be more likely to stick together with Michael Jackson or you, others like you, because you all have shared that same experience? 

COLEMAN:  Oh, well, you know, in Hollywood, there‘s a group of people who actually do participate in that kind of hand-holding kind of atmosphere of self-help, if you will.  It‘s called A Minor Consideration.  I don‘t know if Michael Jackson is into that kind of thing.

But I certainly understand kindred spirit aspect of it, except that‘s not something that I have ever experienced personally myself.  I mean, commiseration usually doesn‘t really solve the problem of feeling like you didn‘t have a childhood. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.

Now, you are out there, obviously.  From what we understand, reporting from All Comedy Radio.  Is that correct? 

COLEMAN:  Yes, that‘s correct.  It‘s All Comedy Radio network.  It‘s definitely—it‘s all comedy all the time.  And I try to poke fun at the fact that Michael Jackson is in court for something that now obviously he didn‘t do.

So, I try to put a little lighter side on it.  And, believe me, child molestation, allegations, proven or not, is not funny, but—and I try to be very mindful of that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh.  I was just going to say, though, I mean, from hearing what you have said before and hearing what you have said on other television shows, while you are on there for a comedy network, you don‘t think it‘s funny, what‘s happening to Michael Jackson. 

COLEMAN:  Not at all. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You think he‘s been set up.  You think this is a show trial.  So, I would guess that you think he is going to walk. 

COLEMAN:  Oh, unless, like you have just said to Ms. London, if something absolutely un—bizarre, unknown, and devastatingly 180 degrees different happens, he is definitely going to walk. 

SCARBOROUGH:  What about—what kind of special focus is there on people that have been child stars?  It almost seems—you can look at VH-1, “Where Are They Now?”  Look at “E! True Hollywood Story,” all of these - - all of these networks seem to focus in on child stars and take special joy at counting every little mistake that they have made, every sin of omission or commission that they have made. 

Do you think that may be a part of it with Michael Jackson?  Do you think there‘s a target on Michael Jackson‘s back and a lot of people like to see this guy get knocked around? 

COLEMAN:  Well, that‘s just psychology. 

There are many, many, many, many people who are jealous and envious of people who have star power or money or fame.  And they will look for and try to find any way possible to hurt those people.  That‘s why I am very chagrined that Michael is so reckless with his choices of associations and friendships with children and adults, because you have to always be mindful to shun the appearance of evil, because, if you don‘t, people are going to use your weakness against you and go after you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, obviously, Michael Jackson deciding, making the choice time and again to invite young children over to his house, to sleep in the same bed with young boys, dating back 10, 15, 20 years, that certainly plays to people‘s worst instincts and worst suspicions about Michael Jackson, doesn‘t it? 

COLEMAN:  Exactly.  That‘s exactly what I am talking about. 

And I can certainly say now, as a member of the media, as a celebrity, and as a person just watching from afar, I now know that it‘s just sleeping.  There‘s no sex involved of any kind.  There‘s no heavy petting, no kissing, no nothing.  It‘s just resting.  And it took eight, nine, 10 weeks of trial to actually bear that point out.

So, I am definitely a believer that nothing has ever happened and nothing ever will happen.  But you definitely—as a celebrity, you always have to be mindful that people are going to try and knock you down and hurt you and do damage to your reputation any way they can. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Gary Coleman, great talking to you.  Great to get a perspective of somebody, again, who was a child star, who understands that, after being a child star, while there‘s fame and glory when you are young, when you grow up, like I said, people love targeting you.  Like you said, it‘s just basic psychology. 

Thanks for being with us. 

COLEMAN:  Exactly. 

SCARBOROUGH:  We appreciate it. 

COLEMAN:  You‘re welcome.  Thank you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up next—all right.

Coming up next, our Michael Jackson coverage continues with this question:  Why does it seem like celebrity defendants always beat the rap?  Is it their fame or their money or the fact that they can afford better attorneys that always seems to have the scales of justice tipped their way?  We will tackle that one with our all-star panel when we return.

And then, chaos on Capitol Hill and at the White House.  A serious scare in the skies above Washington, D.C., causes chaos on the ground.  So, the big question:  Is Washington really any better prepared than they were on September 11? 

And just about anyone who is anyone has come out tonight to honor one of America‘s favorite first ladies.  We will hear from Nancy Reagan later in the show. 

Don‘t go away.  We are just getting started. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, why does it always seem like, if you are a celebrity, you are accused of murder or rape or child molestation, you walk?  We‘ll tackle that in just a second.

And make sure to read my take on that on my blog, Joe.MSNBC.com. 

We‘ll be right back in a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back. 

Now more on today‘s events in the Michael Jackson trial, where former child actor Macaulay Culkin took the stand. 

I‘m joined now by Anne Bremner.  She‘s a criminal defense attorney who was in court today.  Yale Galanter is a trial lawyer and O.J. Simpson‘s current attorney.  Court TV anchor Lisa Bloom is with us, and also Stacey Honowitz, A Florida assistant state attorney for sex crimes and child abuse. 

Let‘s start with Anne 

Anne, you were in the courtroom today.  Talk about Macaulay Culkin‘s testimony.  Did the jury hang on every word because he is a celebrity? 

ANNE BREMNER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Well, they loved him.  It was a five-star day for the defense.  He was just an excellent witness.  He was outstanding.  He was appropriate.  He was credible.  He was humble.  And, you know, he was the warm-up for a tape we saw of Michael Jackson, where he kind of testified today.  And he was outstanding as well.  I mean, they just had a clean-sweep, home run day. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Lisa Bloom. 

BREMNER:  And he‘s a celebrity. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  And he is a celebrity. 

And, Lisa Bloom, that‘s my question to you.  Why is it that celebrities always seem to walk?  Is it that star power that gets them over the top with a jury? 

LISA BLOOM, COURT TV ANCHOR:  Well, I wouldn‘t write postmortems yet, because the trial is not over. 

But two reasons, Joe.  One is, I think jurors do tend to be as starstruck as the American public as a whole is.  And the second thing is, celebrities tend to have money.  Money not only buys an excellent defense team, as we are seeing here, but scores of investigators behind the scenes, investigators who can go out and ferret out every bit of evidence to embarrass in this case the accuser, the accuser‘s mother, the accuser‘s grandmother.  That certainly helps in a case. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Lisa, as an anchor on Court TV, I know you have been following the postmortem on the Robert Blake trial.

BLOOM:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Where Robert Blake spoke contemptuously of the jury.  He said, they were going to parade celebrities in front of the jury.  They would be starstruck.  The celebs would then go outside, hold a press conference, and he would basically have them where he wanted them. 

I mean, it certainly played out in the “Baretta” trial.  It could also play that way in Michael Jackson, also, couldn‘t it? 

BLOOM:  That‘s right. 

Well, look at the Jayson Williams case.  He was acquitted of all the top gun charges, even though he shot and killed a man in the presence of a number of witnesses in his own bedroom. 

But, Joe, I fault the prosecution in the Blake case.  I won‘t go into all of that now.  I also fault the prosecution in this case.  They should never have brought in prior alleged bad acts against boys who deny that they were molested.  They didn‘t need to bring in Wade Robson, Brett Barnes and Macaulay Culkin, when they have this accuser, the ‘93 accuser, and the youth pastor, who all say firmly that they were molested.  They overreached, and now it‘s coming back to bite them. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yale Galanter, it certainly does look like Tom Mesereau and the DA has just—they have misplayed their hand terribly. 

You kind of sit back and watch.  And, again, I am 3,000 miles away.  I am not in the jury box.  It‘s easy for me to judge.  I shouldn‘t be doing this, because I am an attorney.  But, my gosh, I am not a football coach either with a football game playing out in front of me, and I can tell when somebody has made a bad call.  And it looks like this guy has botched his case against Michael Jackson. 

YALE GALANTER, ATTORNEY FOR O.J. SIMPSON:  Joe, Lisa hit the nail right on the head. 

Tom Sneddon made a fatal error.  What he did was, he called five witnesses who were former Jackson employees, all disgruntled, all lost lawsuits, all who had been paid by the tabloids to say that various people were molested.  The defense gets on.  Tom Mesereau, very sharply and very smart, starts his case out strong, puts on one, two witnesses to say, look, not only did it never occur.  He never contacted me to see what my side of the story was. 

And what Anne said is also correct.  Macaulay Culkin comes in, has those jurors looking at him today, has all the star power.  People love his movie.  And he says, not only did Michael Jackson never molest me, Mr.  Sneddon, but your people never got in touch with me.  They never even gave me the courtesy of a call. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Yale, I got to ask you that. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second, Yale.  I got to ask that.  Why didn‘t Sneddon see this coming? 

GALANTER:  Because he is an idiot.  He has been after Jackson from day one.  I have said that on the air before.  This is a prosecution that is not based in fact, but is based more on emotion. 

BLOOM:  Well, wait a second. 

(CROSSTALK)

GALANTER:  Hold on, Lisa, one second. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on.  Hold on.  Hold on.  One at a time. 

GALANTER:  Why Sneddon wouldn‘t use his subpoena power to get Macaulay Culkin into his office and say, tell me your side of the story, is beyond belief. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Lisa Bloom, I will let you respond.  Go ahead, Lisa.

(CROSSTALK)

BLOOM:  Yale, you are missing the other half of the story. 

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA ASSISTANT STATE ATTORNEY:  That‘s right. 

BLOOM:  Macaulay Culkin admitted on the stand that his attorneys told both sides he wasn‘t going to give any statement. 

You know—you know what is really lacking here?  The 1993 accuser.  If the prosecution would bring him in, in their rebuttal case, and he will look the jury in the eye and say, I was molested, because he was molested worst of all in terms of the egregiousness of the acts.  His mother has testified, but he hasn‘t testified yet.  That could really put this case away for the prosecution. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Stacey Honowitz, why doesn‘t he focus?  Go, Stacey.

HONOWITZ:  Well, I‘m going to tell you something.  I am going to be the one person on this panel that tells you that it‘s not in the toilet, like everybody thinks it is after today. 

I would agree that Macaulay Culkin was very compelling, but there‘s one thing you have to remember.  Throughout this whole trial, this is the first person that‘s taken the stand that‘s an actor, that is well versed in speaking with people, certainly knows how to communicate.  And jurors like that.  He was able to communicate. 

But let me tell you something.  On cross-examination, he danced around a lot of different issues.  And the one thing that Yale doesn‘t remember and Lisa brought up was that, in 1993, back then, they even tried to get in touch with Macaulay Culkin.  And his lawyers told him not to speak with anybody.  So, I think this case is not yet over. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You don‘t think it‘s over.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second. 

Anne Bremner, you know, the thing is, everybody that I have talked to that‘s been out there has said the same thing about Macaulay Culkin.  It was just a fantastic performance on his part. 

BREMNER:  It was. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And it was a huge day for Michael Jackson. 

BREMNER:  It was a huge day. 

And the thing is, you know, I was in the courtroom.  We‘re all out here.  He did not get touched on cross-examination.  He didn‘t.  And I thought the prosecutor‘s head was going to explode.  He couldn‘t get anything out of him.  And Zonen, who is always so mild-mannered, all of a sudden became a little mean-spirited.  And that didn‘t play well with the jury either, the prosecutor. 

So, we are out here.  We saw him.  And he was outstanding. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Lisa Bloom.

(CROSSTALK)

HONOWITZ:  And you know what?

(CROSSTALK)

HONOWITZ:  .. resonating.

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on.  Hold on a second. 

Lisa—I want to ask Lisa Bloom question. 

Lisa, if Michael Jackson walks, Americans are going to see in this age of O.J., O.J. Simpson walking, Robert Blake walking, Michael Jackson walking, . 

BLOOM:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You said Jayson Williams walking. 

BLOOM:  Right. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  What kind of message—what kind of message does that send? 

BLOOM:  Well, that money buys a different kind of justice.  There‘s no question about it.  The real problem is for people at the bottom of the system, that can never afford this level of attorney and investigator. 

But don‘t write the postmortem yet, Joe.  It is not over.  And I still maintain, this case has some strong factors other child sexual abuse cases don‘t have.  It‘s got an eyewitness.  It‘s got alleged prior acts, and it‘s got Jackson on tape admitting he likes to share his bed with little boys.  And those are three things the jury may ultimately take into account. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Yale Galanter, if—Yale Galanter, my question—hold on a second, Yale.  I have got to ask you a question, because this is a question that a lot of Americans in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY are asking tonight. 

If, instead of being Michael Jackson from Neverland Ranch, he was a Mike Jackson from South Central L.A., this guy would already be in prison, wouldn‘t he? 

GALANTER:  No, actually, I think it‘s the opposite.  I don‘t think he would have ever been prosecuted.  Look at who the main witnesses are. 

The main witness in this case, the alleged victim, the guy that‘s in the middle of the charge, testified under oath that Michael Jackson never molested him before the charge was brought and before he was ever brought to civil attorney.  His sister testified to the same thing.  And so did his mother. 

It wasn‘t until the cash was waved in front of him that he started to change his story.  There isn‘t a prosecutor‘s office in the country, Joe, who would have filed this charge with that uncredible testimony prior to the charge being brought. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know...

GALANTER:  They‘re inconsistent statements.  They can‘t have it both ways.  They can‘t swear on day one that nothing occurred, and, after they go to a civil lawyer say, yes, Michael Jackson molested me.  And that‘s really the problem with this case.  The victims in the case are not credible.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what, Yale?  I can tell you—I can tell you this, Yale.  If Tom Sneddon had it to do all over again, I would guess he would hold off until he had his case together better. 

And, again, it‘s amazing.  He has been after Michael Jackson for a long time.  I am not saying he shouldn‘t be going after Michael Jackson, but you would think, if he had a target on Jackson‘s back for this long, for over a decade, that, when it was time to go to court, he would have all of his ducks in a row. 

Anne Bremner, Lisa Bloom, Yale Galanter, Stacey Honowitz, thanks a lot for being with us.  We really appreciate it. 

Now, you may have seen this unfold today on national television, people forced to run, to get out of the Capitol, get out of the White House.  The question is, what should our government learn from this security scare?  And, also, why didn‘t President Bush know about it until it was over? 

And an experiment to use party drug ecstasy as medicine, and the government is saying it‘s OK.  While the cameramen at NBC may be happy, the rest of us think it‘s sending the wrong message to American kids. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Just joking about the camera operators. 

We‘ll be right back in a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  While our government came screeching to a halt earlier today after a small plane came too close to comfort to the White House, reports are tonight that the president didn‘t even know what was going on while all Americans were watching their TV sets.  We will get to the bottom of it in just a second and ask what really happened. 

But, first, here‘s the latest news that you and your family need to know. 

(NEWS BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Everyone, keep moving south, please.  Everyone, keep moving. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hill earlier today, as the alarms went off across the city.  A small plane invaded airspace over the Capitol and an area close to the White House.  And these people were told to get out of the—Capitol Hill, also told to get out of the White House.  The White House was evacuated.  The vice president left in a motorcade. 

Also, Nancy Reagan, who was there visiting Laura Bush, and Laura Bush were asked to go to a secure, safe location. 

Well, let‘s hear now from somebody who was right in the middle of it, NBC‘s own Norah O‘Donnell at the White House.

Norah, what do you got?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NORAH O‘DONNELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Good evening, Joe.

Today, here at the White House, the highest alert since the September 11 attacks, when a Cessna violated restricted airspace and came within three miles of the White House.  It happened just before noon, when a reporter in the White House briefing room shouted, there‘s something going on.  Look outside.  The guards have their guns drawn. 

At that point, we went outside.  We were told by the Secret Service to evacuate the White House.  I heard the roar of a plane, looked up into the sky and saw an F-16.  The jets had been scrambled to try and move this Cessna away from the White House and the Capitol Building.  We are told by the White House that the president was not informed until nearly an hour after the incident happened, and that‘s because the White House says they determined that the president was never in any danger and he was not needed to advance any of the protocols to keep the people safe here at the White House and the Congress.

So, the president was not informed until about 12:50 p.m.  Also, U.S.  military officials tell NBC News that a shoot-down order was never given in this case, and that‘s because they determined that there was no hostile intent—Joe. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Thanks a lot, Norah.  We really appreciate it. 

I got to tell you, I don‘t get it.  All of America is glued to their TV sets.  You have got people rushing out of the White House.  You‘ve got people rushing out of Capitol Hill complexes.  You have got people rushing out of the Treasury Department.  You have got people rushing out of government buildings all across Washington, D.C., and you don‘t notify the president of the United States for an hour, until after it‘s all over, because, what, you don‘t want to disturb his bike ride in Maryland? 

I‘m sorry.  I just don‘t get it. 

With me now to talk about today‘s strange events, security consultant and former Secret Service agent Richard Roth.  And also we have MSNBC analyst and former FBI Agent Christopher Whitcomb. 

Chris, let‘s start with you.  Talk about the day.  Does it bode well for America and how far they have come since 9/11, or does it just show we have got a long way to go? 

CHRISTOPHER WHITCOMB, NBC ANALYST:  Joe, we got a long way to go.  I think this is quite an embarrassment. 

When you see that we have spent hundreds of billions of dollars literally on the global war on terror, and we have seat of Washington, D.C., spilling out of the street with people yelling, run for your lives, if that‘s what it has come down to, I think we really need to go back to the drawing board.  We have made great advances.  And I don‘t mean to belittle those.

But we are talking about the White House, the Capitol Building, major parts of the United States government.  And our only response is to tell people to flee into the streets.  I really don‘t understand that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Chris, I was—I was—after I watched 9/11, one of the parts that made me the angriest was the part about “My Pet Goat.”  I thought it was a cheap shot.  I said, seven, eight, nine minutes, big deal. 

But here you have an attack going on or some—something that most Americans thought was an attack for 15, 20, 30 minutes, and the president of the United States is not notified.  Why? 

WHITCOMB:  Well, I don‘t know, Joe.  That sounds very odd to me. 

They obviously knew the president was away from the Capitol.  It was not immediate threat to the president.  The vice president very quickly evacuated.  And I think they may have just said that we have got other things we have got to deal with right now and that they didn‘t need to alarm the president.  That‘s all I can think of.

But, look, we are coming off the heels of what happened in Georgia.  We had a very possible near miss a couple of weeks ago, a very similar sort of incident in the White House.  And I think the Secret Service and the president are probably sitting down right now talking this over. 

Secret Service is a phenomenal organization.  They have extraordinary track record in the last 30 years.  But I think that, really, they have got to look at this now and say they have got to tell the president when there‘s a problem like this. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I mean, I mean, yes, I mean, don‘t alarm the president.  The president gets paid to be alarmed.  We elect him to be alarmed.  We elect him to in touch with his people during a time of crisis. 

Richard Roth, earlier in the day, right after this broke, I talked to a lot of people in the Capitol.  I talked to people in the White House.  They told me that things went very well, things went very smoothly, that, in fact, one congressman said—made a big difference between the way things happened today and what happened on September 11.  What is your take on today‘s events? 

RICHARD ROTH, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT:  I agree with him.  I think things gets a lot smoother than they did on September 11. 

One thing that you saw immediately was the communications between the White House, the Department of Transportation, the FAA, and the Homeland Security folks and the DOD, all of them working together rather quickly in getting this thing at least started towards a resolution. 

The other part of it that I don‘t think a lot of people see is that they knew this plane was in the area coming in this way for quite a bit of time, probably another five or 10 minutes before this, and they were making things like, what exactly could this plane actually do?  The threat level that the plane was wasn‘t that high.  You remember, the first things they told the people at the White House is just to go inside and stay away from the windows. 

This plane is approximately the same size as the one that bounced across the yard and hit the White House a number of years ago, at the back of the White House.  So, the actual threat level that it could do as far as damage wasn‘t there. 

More interesting to me, I think, was something that we are going to learn in every one of these incidents that happens.  And this that is, there‘s something we need to work on.  And one of the things I think we need to work on is what you were pointing out, is that evacuation.  Evacuation seems to be that last thing that we are all sort of gathering on.  A lot of the Homeland Security money this year and next year is going to be on the evacuation of critical sites. 

In some cases, the evacuation is just to stay put.  If that plane had had some kind of weapons of mass destruction, like a biological or a chemical weapon on it, having all the people run outside wouldn‘t have been the best advice for them.  I think that‘s just a matter of us doing drills, doing simulations, and coming up with better ways to evacuate people.  And it‘s like everything else.  We‘re just getting better.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know, that certainly—yes, that is certainly what happened last summer.  I was actually interviewing John McCain last summer and Dan Quayle.  There was an alarm.  Then, I think it was the Kentucky governor‘s plane that breached airspace. 

ROTH:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Everybody ran outside automatically. 

Chris Whitcomb, let me ask you this question.  Going back to what did the president know, when did the president know it, we‘re talking to Richard.  He tells us the DOT was notified.  They got in touch with the FAA.  They got in touch with the FBI.  They got in touch with other agencies. 

Again, the president is in charge of all of them.  Why not tell the president?  Why not have a president who actually is on the phone with Dick Cheney, the White House, saying, is everything going OK? 

WHITCOMB:  Joe, you are not the only person asking that question right now.  I am sure that the Secret Service is trying to figure that out.  They‘re trying to explain that to the president. 

You said it‘s the president‘s job to stay connected with the people.  Well, it‘s the Secret Service‘s job to protect the president.  They may have felt, in some way, they didn‘t want to needlessly alarm him and made that decision.  Those protocols exist.  Communications are very clearly drawn out in anticipation of events like this.  So, there‘s something that we don‘t know. 

But I think, ultimately, you have got to look and say, yes, the communication was better.  What was the net result?  The net result was, we saw hundreds, if not thousands of people running into the streets of Washington, D.C.  And I think anyone around the world will look at this and say, if this is what the United States has come up for response plans to an attack on the White House, the Capitol, or other buildings in Washington, D.C., we haven‘t made a huge stride in the last three-and-a-half years in terms of the actual response. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thanks a lot, Christopher. 

Thank you, Richard.  We greatly appreciate it. 

And you know what?  Richard brings up a great point that we need to think about, OK?  If you are a terror outfit, you see what happens today.  You think, OK, what we are going to do is, we are going to smoke everybody out with an airplane, and have that plane fly over the city.  People will run out of the building.  And then, when they run out of the building, that‘s when we hit them with a chemical attack or a biological attack. 

It‘s—again, this is stuff—this is stuff that our leaders in Washington, D.C., have to be thinking about every day. 

Coming up next, it‘s a dangerous party drug that is putting our children in the emergency room.  So, why is the government allowing ecstasy to be used as medicine?  Are they sending a mixed message for America or providing hope for depressed people? 

And, also, former first lady Nancy Reagan, she is the toast of the town in Washington, D.C., tonight.  And coming up in just a little bit, we will take you to that big event where she is being honored. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s been more than 20 years since the government has banned the club drug known as ecstasy.  It‘s now, unbelievably, on the verge of becoming mainstream. 

In December, the FAA green-lighted the little-known proposal to use ecstasy in therapy.  Now, it‘s happening in several clinics across America.  And some are actually hoping to use ecstasy for soldiers who come back from Iraq and suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.  Critics are outraged, saying it‘s an attempt to legalize a very dangerous drug. 

With me tonight to talk about it, Dr. Rick Doblin.  And he‘s the founder of MAPS, a group that supports ecstasy use for therapy.  And also Dr. Eric Braverman.  He‘s the director of PATH Medical and also the author of “Edge Effect.” 

Let‘s—I want to start and read a statement on ecstasy from the National Institute of Drug Abuse just to set this up.  It says: “Using ecstasy can cause serious psychological and physical damage.  Ecstasy use can cause hypothermia, muscle breakdown, seizures, stroke, kidney and cardiovascular system failure and may lead to death.”

I have just got to ask a question.  What in the world, Rick, could be positive about using ecstasy, if it causes all of these problems? 

RICK DOBLIN, FOUNDER, MAPS:  Well, it doesn‘t cause those problems when it‘s given in a therapeutic setting.  That‘s the key distinction that we need to make. 

It‘s the relationship that people have with the drugs that matters.  When it‘s used in a recreational setting, it‘s different than when used in a therapy setting.  MDMA was used therapeutically from the middle ‘70s to the early ‘80s.  And it leaked out of that into recreational use, and it got called ecstasy.  But, before that, it was used without problem in therapy settings.  And in the clinical settings that we‘re using now, we are getting tremendous results.  And it‘s really helping people.  The risks that you talked about...

SCARBOROUGH:  How is it helping them? 

DOBLIN:  It helps people to work through difficult emotions.  It‘s the opposite of ecstasy.

For people that have been traumatized, for soldiers coming back from Iraq, it helps them to work through the pain and the suffering that they have been through that‘s too difficult for them otherwise.  They are stuck.  They are stalled.  They can‘t release the emotions.  MDMA helps them to open up.  And it‘s lasting.  MDMA is only given a few times.  It‘s not a daily drug.  It‘s not given like Prozac or Zoloft on a daily basis for months or years.

And it‘s not really MDMA.  It‘s MDMA-assisted psychotherapy.  It‘s the combination of the therapy and the drug that permits people to make these breakthroughs that they have been unable to make before.  And it‘s lasting.  That‘s what our long-term follow-ups are showing.  So, we‘re just...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Eric Braverman—let me ask you, Eric Braverman, bring

you in here.  Do you agree that, if it‘s used correctly, it could actually

·         and, of course, we are not talking about what happens with people that take it, then go to these raves.  But what about using it therapeutically, using it in limited clinical settings? 

(CROSSTALK)

DR. ERIC BRAVERMAN, PATH MEDICAL:  The drug is mislabeled.  It‘s not ecstasy.  It‘s misery. 

(LAUGHTER)

BRAVERMAN:  I have been in medicine for 30 years and I have seen kids with permanent psychosis, hallucinations, manic depressive illness, schizophrenia-like illnesses.  There‘s always the possibility that even one use can damage a brain, let alone lead to fatality, heart disease, heart attack, hepatitis, every system in the body. 

This drug is like peddling brain damage.  And it will not work effectively for long.  Sooner or later, he will get into trouble.  And what he‘s seeing can be seen by other medications.  In fact, his own article in 1987 showed testicular shrinkage and side effects of all types, in dogs circling and having problems. 

DOBLIN:  That‘s ridiculous.  That‘s absolutely ridiculous.

And, in fact, in the therapy settings that we‘re using it in, you need to be basing your comments on data.  There‘s been over 250 people that have taken MDMA in clinical research all over the world, without death, without fatalities, without any kind of these long-term neurological problems, without any really significant problems.  So, MDMA, in a clinical setting, we need to have honest drug education and focus on real risks and real benefits.  And that‘s what we‘re...

BRAVERMAN:  They said the same thing about LSD experiments. 

I worked for Dr. Pfeiffer, who served the government doing LSD experiments, who later had to retract and apologize, because side effects showed up five and 10 years later.  There is no clinical data.  Major psychiatric textbooks disagree with you.  There are thousands of articles showing side effects.  And it is a complete lie. 

The reality is, the drug experimentation of the ‘60s is the dementia of our millennium and that people who have used drugs in the past have led to more brain dysfunction, memory loss, executive function problems, and a whole host of problems medically.  And this will lead to nowhere. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thank you so much, Dr. Eric Braverman. 

Thank you, Rick Doblin.

If that‘s the case, if the doctor is right, then it could be the Kool-Aid acid test of the 21st century.  We will just have to wait and see. 

We will be back in a second with an update on the Nancy Reagan event when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY BENNETT, SINGER (singing):  The best is yet to come, and, babe, won‘t that be fine?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s Tony Bennett singing just a short while ago at a dinner saluting former first lady Nancy Reagan. 

The dinner was put together to raise money for the presidential transportation pavilion at Ronald Reagan‘s presidential library in California.  Mrs. Reagan is staying at the White House.  And while, in Washington, she has had obviously a very eventful day.  She spoke to those attending the gala this evening, including Vice President Dick Cheney and other high-level politicians. 

Take a listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NANCY REAGAN, FORMER FIRST LADY:  This is the first time I have been to Washington, as you all know, since the funeral last June.  And I am still overwhelmed and moved by all the kindness and concern from people all over the world.  It provided my family and me so much strength and support, for which I am forever grateful. 

The president and Mrs. Bush were very kind to invite me to stay at the White House for the past few nights.  I didn‘t think that they had to bring in that extra little thing today for me. 

(LAUGHTER)

REAGAN:  But it was all right. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, I was greatly honored to have lunch with her out in Los Angeles last summer.  She is an absolutely wonderful, gracious lady.  And she deserves everything that she is receiving now, a lot of praise, a lot of accolades for being a wonderful first lady and being a wonderful public servant for America. 

Well, that‘s all the time we have for tonight.  Thanks for being with us in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Make sure you watch Imus tomorrow morning.  He is going to be talking to the Donald, Donald Trump.

We‘ll see you tomorrow night in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

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

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