updated 6/9/2005 2:36:01 PM ET 2005-06-09T18:36:01

Guest: John Dean, Savannah Guthrie, Jill Stempel, L.G. Sherpa

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST:  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

From Deep Throat to deep sleep.  Bob Woodward tells his version.  And it‘s not that interesting, except for the part about the parking garage.  John Dean joins us.

And the book wars next month, Deep Throat versus Harry Potter.

There are things worse than car bombs, as they know all too well now in Iraq.  The new prime tactic there, human bombs.

Summations in the Jackson case.  He wanted the accuser to call him Daddy.  But Jackson did not know how to spell his real son‘s nickname.

And crawling around New York City in the drinking sense, and in the horizontal mountaineering sense.  Any Sherpa can climb Mount Everest.  He‘ll take Manhattan.

All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.

Good evening.

At times, it reads less like “All the President‘s Men” and more like Ted Baxter‘s autobiography.  It all started in a 5,000-Watt radio station in Fresno, California.

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, beaten to the Deep Throat scoop by his own source.  Bob Woodward‘s revenge is an 87-paragraph article in “The Washington Post” that goes into painstaking detail about how he met Mark Felt, but almost no detail how he turned what Felt had to tell him into the backbone of the Watergate coverage that he and Carl Bernstein authored.

Turns out Woodward met Felt by chance in 1970.  Woodward was still in the Navy.  That night, a messenger boy delivering a package to the Situation Room in the lower level of the West Wing of the White House, when the then-head of the FBI‘s Inspection Division happened to sit down in the same waiting area.

The rest is history, Woodward explaining how he kept in touch with Felt in hopes of advancing his own career, how he phoned Felt at the FBI two days after the Watergate break-in, how Felt told him only that the case was going to, quote, “heat up.”  How Felt then hung up on him.

Woodward then talks of Felt‘s mania about making certain any contact with Woodward was secret and secure, and how Felt believed Richard Nixon was trying to manipulate the FBI for political purposes, and that Felt‘s ultimate motive was “protecting the bureau by finding a way, clandestine as it was, to push some of the information from the FBI interviews and files out to the public to help build public and political pressure to make Nixon and his people answerable.”

That was about it.  Not 16 hours later, why that was about it may have become apparent.  Next month, Simon and Schuster will rush out Woodward‘s book about Felt-Throat, “The Secret Man: The Story of Watergate‘s Deep Throat.”  It will be out the same time the next Harry Potter book is released.

In a moment, John Dean joins me to analyze what Woodward did and didn‘t say, and what it turns out Mark Felt did and didn‘t know.

First, some more dribs and drabs from Woodward and Carl Bernstein from the “TODAY” show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “TODAY”)

BOB WOODWARD, ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  He was so friendly, and he had this position in this secret institution.  And he was kind of a mentor, almost a career counselor for me.  And I thought I was going to go to law school.  And then when I said, I‘m going into journalism, I said, Well, now you can help me with stories.  And he was—you know, he didn‘t like journalists.

And then when Watergate started, he helped Carl and I immeasurably.  And, you know, as a very reluctant person in the torn, the turmoil of, Am I doing the right thing?  How, you know, how do I get this out?

MATT LAUER, HOST:  As the story unfolded, you guys divide this elaborate scheme and plot or plan as to how you would meet, you know, and it was right out of a spy novel...

WOODWARD:  We can say now, he was a spy hunter for the FBI in his early career.

LAUER:  Were you guys at the time viewing him as a great American patriot and a hero?  Or a man with a grudge, but who cares because he‘s solid gold?

CARL BERNSTEIN, FORMER “WASHINGTON POST” REPORTER:  We had no idea of his motivations.  And even now, some of his motivations are unclear.

WOODWARD:  Couple of days after the Watergate burglary, we learned through the reporting efforts of somebody else at “The Post” that Howard Hunt, his name was in the address books of two of the burglars.  I called Felt and said, Is there something here?  And he said, There‘s no doubt Howard Hunt is involved.

LAUER:  Now, how did you get scooped on this?

BERNSTEIN:  Oh, it was pretty easy to get scooped, because we had...

LAUER:  Does it bug you?

BERNSTEIN:  No.  We had an obligation to Mark Felt, just as we did to all of our sources.  I think it‘s like having tried to protect something precious for all these years that you carry around, and for the first time, it‘s not there to protect in your pocket any more.  It‘s a very strange feeling, but also relieved of an obligation.

WOODWARD:  After his appearance, he said, I‘ve never had—that‘s the most important, the best feeling I‘ve had in my life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  The pair, Woodward in particular, never addressed perhaps the only gripping part of Woodward‘s article, the only part that should have been a tip-off to sleuths that Deep Throat had to have had espionage or surveillance experience, how Mark Felt took Woodward‘s need to reach him with questions and applied spy rules to it.

Felt told him to think of signal that could be seen from outside his apartment.  And Woodward thought of a red cloth flag he had sitting in an empty flowerpot on his apartment balcony.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN (voice-over):  “The signal, he said, would mean we would meet that same night about 2:00 a.m. on the bottom level of an underground garage just over Key Bridge in Rosslyn.  Felt said I would have to follow strict techniques.  How did I get out of my apartment?  I walked out, down the hall, and took the elevator.  Which takes you to the lobby?  He asked.  Yes.  Did I have back stairs to my apartment house?  Yes.  Use them when you‘re heading for a meeting.  Do they open into an alley?  Yes.  Take the alley.

“Don‘t use your own car.  Take a taxi to several blocks from a hotel where there are cabs after midnight.  Get dropped off, and then walk to get a second cab to Roslyn.  Don‘t get dropped off directly at the parking garage.  Walk the last several blocks.  If you are being followed, don‘t go down to the garage.  I‘ll understand if you don‘t show.

“All this was like a lecture.  The key was, taking the necessary time, one to two hours to get there.  Be patient, serene, trust the prearrangements.  There was no fallback meeting place or time.  If we both didn‘t show, there would be no meeting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  As to how Woodward would know when Felt wanted a meeting, Woodward wrote again of how Felt said he would draw a circle and the hands of a clock on page 20 of the copy of “The New York Times” that was delivered to Woodward‘s apartment.  “How,” Woodward wrote today, “I never knew.”

For reaction to Woodward‘s story, I‘m joined once more by John Dean, author of “Unmasking Deep Throat,” and, of course, White House counsel to President Richard Nixon.

Good evening, John.

JOHN DEAN, AUTHOR, “UNMASKING DEEP THROAT”:  Hi, how are you, Keith?

OLBERMANN:  Four thousand, eight hundred and eighty-two words.  It was something of an anticlimax, wasn‘t it?

DEAN:  It was very disappointing.  There‘s almost nothing there.  In fact, the most interesting paragraph I found is in that part you just focused on, on there, designing a signal.  There‘s a line in there where he paraphrases Felt, and he says, Felt said he could look himself to see if the draperies were open, or he could have somebody else look.

And there‘s another part in that discussion where Woodward speculates that he indeed did have somebody else in a nearby Iraqi embassy surveillance post that was keeping an eye.  And then he said, No, no, that‘s not impossible.  Well, I think that‘s quite possible, and the only explanation of how somebody could see that flowerpot.  And Woodward has given us a little tip on that.

OLBERMANN:  Wittingly or unwittingly, there are—there were...

DEAN:  Right.

OLBERMANN:  ...Felt, there were Felt Juniors or Deep Throat Juniors.

You said the other night when Felt was outed that you were still waiting for the epiphany that Woodward and others had promised about that revelation, the of-course-it-was-him moment.  Could it be contained in the simple reality that the only reasonable Deep Throat candidate was a guy who had enough serious espionage training so that he could arrange that garage setup and the marked-up copy of the newspaper?  Is that the Aha! moment that Woodward was talking about?

DEAN:  I don‘t think so.  I think that the espionage training he had is more reflective in his attitude towards the investigation in many ways.  If you noticed in that piece that Felt had once been a Nazi hunter.  And there‘s some—a little bit of an inkling that he was taking on, that he thought he was fighting Nazis in the White House, and this was motivating part of the way he was handling the investigation.  That‘s a little spooky, when I read that part.

OLBERMANN:  We got nothing answered about how Felt could be a source for Woodward on things that happened four months after Felt retired from the FBI.  But there was that one quote from Woodward‘s piece in “The Post.”  I read it before.  Let me read it again, about Felt‘s motive.

He says this was Felt‘s motive, “protecting the bureau by finding a way, clandestine as it was, to push some of the information from the FBI interviews and files out to the public, to help build public and political pressure to make Nixon and his people answerable.”

Push some information from the FBI interviews and files.  Does that give you a clue about means here, about whether or not there might have been people materially involved besides Felt, rather than just logistically involved?

DEAN:  Keith, if you understand the ground rule that Woodward was operating under, that makes no sense.  As I understand, what Woodward reported in “All the President‘s Men” is, he could not quote Felt directly for anything.  All he was, was to be a confirming source.  In other words, they had to go out and dig it up first.

And it isn‘t until very late in the game that he starts pushing out information.  And there is a thread that runs through that information of his constantly trying to frighten, if you will, “The Post” as to how serious this is, how dangerous these people are, and putting a lot of drama in it, if you will.

OLBERMANN:  To that point, to some degree, since this is broke on Tuesday, you have been exercised, and rightly so, about Ben Bradlee‘s statement that nothing “The Post” got from Deep Throat was wrong.  Previously here, you estimated that about half of what he told the paper was wrong.

And the fact that it turns out it was the operational director of the FBI who was so mistaken seems to make it even more astounding.  And I know you‘re devoting your weekly column on Findlaw.com to all this tomorrow.  But let‘s run a couple of examples of Felt-Throat getting it wildly wrong. 

Two of them, first from May 16, 1973.

Woodward writes that he told Bernstein, “Everyone‘s life is in danger.  Deep Throat says that electronic surveillance is going on and we had better watch it.  The CIA is doing it,” page 317, very dramatic.  But did it happen to be true, John?

DEAN:  Well, it—there is absolutely not a scintilla of evidence that happened.  In fact, we know the FBI wasn‘t conducting it.  They have been fairly thoroughly investigated.  The Church Committee looked at the CIA‘s operation.  There have been a number of investigations.  Howard Baker tried to conduct an investigation through the Senate Watergate Committee of the activities of the CIA.

There‘s just no hint that that sort of activity was going on.  And I find it very surprising that the number two man at the FBI would be claiming that the CIA is tracking people, and they wouldn‘t, in fact, know it for a fact when, in fact, it is not a fact.

OLBERMANN:  From the same meeting, John, two Deep Throat quotes that mention you personally.  “Dean talked with Senator Baker after the Watergate Committee formed.  Baker is in the bag completely, reporting back (INAUDIBLE) directly to the White House.  And president threatened Dean personally and said if he ever revealed the national security activities, the president would ensure he went to jail,” both from page 318 of “All the President‘s Men.”

And once again, I gather, John, both wildly inaccurate.  How and why was Mark Felt so wrong?

DEAN:  Yes, well, I had no such conversation with Baker.  Baker was not in the bag.  And as the tapes show, the president never threatened me in that way.  I don‘t know where Felt was getting this information.  It‘s one of the mysteries we still have.  To me, the whole thing why I‘ve not had an epiphany moment is, there are now more questions than there were before I even knew his identity, now that I know who he is.

If it had been somebody at the White House, it would be understandable that they could have picked that sort of thing up.  When I actually decided to do the article, I decided to put a whole—every statement that Felt has made to Woodward in, as we understand it, through “All the President‘s Men,” a summary of it, along as an appendix to the article.

And then I highlighted in red everything that‘s wrong, and it‘s pretty striking, very striking.

OLBERMANN:  It‘s like you said, it‘s about 50 percent of it is in red.

Final question is not about one of these mistakes, but about all of them.  Are they mistakes?  Or are they misdirections?  Do you have any conclusion, having examined them as carefully as you have?

DEAN:  When you look at the timing of them, they look in some instances like Felt is trying to make “The Post” very worried.  He‘s trying to manipulate “The Post,” make sure they‘re on this story, putting every bit of energy.

He makes statements about his leader, Pat Gray, that indeed would discredit Pat Gray.  Fortunately on that one, Woodward was able to correct the error before it went too far and never used it.  And because he wasn‘t quoting him directly, a lot of this stuff never got into print in “The Washington Post.”  It only appears in “All the President‘s Men.”

So there was a filter there to prevent some of it getting out there than what was just dead wrong.

OLBERMANN:  As Yogi Berra said, It ain‘t over till it‘s over.  And I don‘t think it is.  The column will appear tomorrow on Findlaw.com.

John Dean, author, former White House counsel, and for these last three days, our guide through the unexpected, the revelation of Deep Throat, unless there were assistant Deep Throats.  John, my greatest thanks.

DEAN:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Also tonight, desperate measures in Iraq.  People there may be unknowingly driving ticking time bombs.

Michael Jackson‘s trial should go to the jury tomorrow.  We will go to the courtroom and to the Puppet Theater tonight.

You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  In the weeks before his country went to war in Iraq, we were told that it would become the front line in the war against terrorism.  And it‘s turned out to be the truest statement of the war thus far.

But as our correspondent Jim Miklaszewski reports, our number four story from the Pentagon, it has probably turned out to be true in a way far different than the administration expected.

First, foreign terrorists poured through the broken borders, and now Iraqis themselves are being recruited, or coerced.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM MIKLASZEWSKI, MSNBC PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  In the latest deadly wave of suicide bombings today, 12 Iraqis were killed during breakfast when a bomber blew up a van next to a restaurant at Tooz Karmatu (ph).  Two other suicide bombers killed eight more Iraqis, including a child, in separate attacks in Kirkuk and Baqubah.  And two motorcycle bombs killed five Iraqis on Mosul.

The recent surge in suicide bombings has been staggering.  There have been more than 90 such attacks, and 810 Iraqis killed, most of them in suicide bombings, all since Iraq‘s new government was seated only five weeks ago.

And it may only get worse.  A group said to be Al Qaeda in Iraq claimed on the Internet today, it‘s created a whole new cell of suicide bombers called the Al-Bara Bin Malek (ph) Martyrdom Brigade.  U.S.  intelligence indicates that terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi recruits about one suicide bomber a day, mostly foreign fighters.

But Zarqawi may now be resorting to new, more treacherous tactics to fill the ranks.  U.S. officials tell NBC News some suicide bombs may have been planted on vehicles sold by Baghdad car dealers.  An innocent, unsuspecting buyer then drives off in a rolling bomb, which can be detonated by remote control.

In another case, one Iraqi told the U.S. military that insurgents threatened to kill his entire family if he didn‘t carry out a suicide attack.

NORA BENSAHEL, RAND CORPORATION MILITARY EXPERT:  Well, the insurgents have proven themselves very adaptive.  Every time the United States or Iraqi forces come up with a way to thwart what the insurgents are doing, how they‘re doing attacks, the insurgents regroup, and come up with a different tactic.

MIKLASZEWSKI (on camera):  And Pentagon officials acknowledge that for now, it‘s almost impossible to stop these suicide bombings.  The reason, lack of hard intelligence.

(voice-over):  The U.S. military in Iraq has almost no real-time information about where or when the next suicide bomber will strike.

Jim Miklaszewski, NBC News, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  Also tonight, the actress Lindsay Lohan escapes serious injury when, according to police, a papparazzo, a photographer, deliberately rams her car with his.

And whose life is at risk here?  Way too much caffeine for this guy.

Oddball returns tonight when we do.  Stand by.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  We‘re back, and once again we pause our COUNTDOWN of the day‘s important news for a brief segment of strange people and funny animals.  They‘re important too, you know.  Sort of.

Let‘s play Oddball.

We begin at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, where it was a beautiful night for baseball.  Or golf.  That‘s PGA pro David Ogren (ph) standing at home plate.  He looks confused and angry.  Actually, he is just going for the world record, most golf balls hit in a minute.  Apparently the local golf course was busy with baseball practice.  But Ogren got the record, 77 balls in 60 seconds.

All of them hilt first baseman Jason Giambi of the visiting New York Yankees in the chest.  And he didn‘t catch one of them.

The lovely downtown Ulan Batur (ph), Mongolia, easily accessible by a Ur-Trans-Siberian (ph) Railroad.  And much like our aspiring young athletes here in the U.S., kids there see a way out through painfully twisting themselves into pretzels.  They‘re training to become contortionists in hopes of joining the Mongolian National Circus.

But fame and fortune await only the top wigglers in that land, so competition is fierce, the parents are unrelenting.  They fork over $13 a week for training, hoping that a gig with the circus might one day land those children in the Cirque de Soleil.  Mostly it just lands them in the hospital.

Finally, to the Tama Zoo (ph) in Tokyo, where appears budget cuts have hit the place so hard, they‘ve had to put monkeys to work, to work as janitors.  That‘s 49-year-old Gypsy there with the sponge and bucket, clearly better off here than she would be in the wild.  She‘s got a job, a good place to live, decent dental.

Actually, Gypsy is currently the only animal at the zoo cleaning his or her own pen.  That‘s because the others, you may remember, were all hired by Michael Jackson to do the mopping at Neverland.

Speaking of, probably tomorrow, a jury of Jackson‘s peers—well, four guys and eight girls—will decide whether the superstar walks free or goes to the clink.

And new allegations in the accident that killed Princess Di.  A former British spy says there was a plot against her, but not one to kill her.

These stories ahead.

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

Number three, George Mikan, basketball‘s first big man, has passed away.  He would have turned 80 in two weeks.  He was so big for his time, 6‘10”, that they had to change some of the rules.  And he was so influential that in 1947, his team was able to form its own league.

Number two, Ted Turner ripped his child at CNN‘s 25th birthday party.  He said CNN should stop covering the, quote, “pervert of the day.”  I thought O‘Reilly was on FOX.

And number one, Christopher Nelson.  The New York resident will watch all the reruns of “The Dukes of Hazzard” on the Country Music Television cable channel, and then blog about them on his Web site.  Is this some kind of welfare thing, a plea bargain of some kind?  Torture, maybe?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  By this time tomorrow, the Michael Jackson trial will probably be in the hands of the jury.  Our third story on the COUNTDOWN:

Woo-hoo-hoo.  As another edition of “Puppet Theatre” looms, it‘s your tax and entertainment dollars in action, day 563 of the Michael Jackson investigations.

The prosecution‘s closing argument now over.  Thomas Mesereau has begun the defense‘s, noting that his client plans celebrity animal parties and asking, Does he look like the kind of person who‘s capable of masterminding a conspiracy?  Senior deputy DA Ron Zonen spoke for the prosecution.  First he blasted Mesereau, then compared Jackson to a lion on the Serengeti.  Quote, “The predator goes after the weakest.”  He also told the jury that the accuser‘s mother never directly asked anybody for any money.

But in his statement, defense attorney Mesereau mention that, too, asking the jury to consider if one really needed to literally ask for money for that request to be implicit.  Mesereau also asked about the lack of forensic evidence and raised the specter of that most famous defense argument, reasonable doubt.  He will finish tomorrow, to be followed by the prosecution rebuttal.

The prosecution may have sputtered at times in its case, but you do not have to be a “Perry Mason” fan to recognize a brilliant juxtaposition in a summation when you hear one.  That senior deputy DA, Mr. Zonen, reminded the jury that while Jackson wanted the accuser to think of him as a father, as a father, Jackson could not always remember one of his kids‘ names.

It‘s a moment captured, of course, and of course, dramatically enhanced by the master craftsmen at “Michael Jackson Puppet Theatre.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

“RON ZONEN”:  Michael Jackson wrote to the accuser, “I want you to have a great time in Florida.  I‘m very happy to be your daddy.  Blacket, Prince and Paris are your brothers and sister.  Love, Dad.”  Blacket.  He writes Blacket.  His son‘s nickname is Blanket.  He misspelled it.  He got it wrong!

“MICHAEL JACKSON”:  So sue me!  I‘m like Mother Hubbard.  I got so many children, I don‘t know what to do.  Woo-hoo-hoo!  Wait a minute.  That may not have sounded exactly the way I meant it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  For the duration of this trial, Court TV correspondent Savannah Guthrie has been inside the courtroom, and I‘m sure that feels literally true.  Savannah, good evening.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, COURT TV:  Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  The question for Mr. Zonen here was that the defense did not live up to its opening argument.  Is that fair?  I mean, isn‘t the burden of proof always on the prosecution in these legal cases?

GUTHRIE:  Well, certainly, it is.  But you know, the defense really asked for it because what Tom Mesereau said in opening statement was, this is a contract.  Hold me to it.  Judge me accordingly.  That‘s like throwing a big red slab of meat at a pack of hungry wolverines.  Of course, the prosecution‘s is going to go after it.  But as Tom Mesereau pointed out when it was his time to stand up, you know, everybody‘s got broken promises in this case, including the prosecution.  May I remind you of Debbie Rowe, who certainly went south on the prosecution.

OLBERMANN:  Zonen also emphasized the graphic points and graphic terminology of the case, including the statement that Jackson had made during that Bashir documentary, “I have slept in a bed with many children.”  And the jury was instructed by the judge to interpret that as an admission?  If the jury follows that instruction, Savannah, Jackson has admitted to what legally?

GUTHRIE:  Well, that he slept with boys.  And it is—what the judge has told them is, take that statement to the bank.  You can accept that statement as true.  Now juxtapose that with Michael Jackson and all of this pornography—Michael Jackson with books upon books of naked men, some of these little pictures of little boys spreadeagled, extremely graphic stuff.  And then Ron Zonen said, now, would you feel comfortable with a middle-aged man who climbs into bed with a succession of young boys for weeks, days and months?  That‘s the importance of the admission, when you put it next to the light of all of these other pieces of evidence.

OLBERMANN:  The jury was reminded, as they all are, that the burden is on the prosecution.  The phrase “reasonable doubt” has again been raised.  You have said that this was going to come down to the closing arguments.  They‘re, I guess, two thirds complete between them.  What is your read at this moment?

GUTHRIE:  Well, you know, as far as style points, I think that Ron Zonen gave a very powerful closing argument.  And this is really the first time we‘ve heard the prosecutors pull together their case, argue their facts and make their points.  But the defense has a lot to work with here. 

The accuser, the accuser‘s mother, the whole family does have a history of what seems to amount to false allegations.  So the defense can say, Look at this family.  Look hard at them.  You‘ve got to find reasonable doubt.  There is plenty of reason to doubt this family.

OLBERMANN:  Mesereau went back to the well this afternoon, saying, You don‘t have to really literally ask for money for the request to still be there.  Zonen tried to dig Debbie Rowe out of the well.  Is she going to be one of these pivotal things in the jury‘s deliberations, do you guess?

GUTHRIE:  I think the accuser‘s mother is central to this case because the defense has really propped her up as the person who‘s the mastermind behind this false allegation and somebody who has done it in the past.  You know, Tom Mesereau said the accuser‘s mother, perjury means nothing for her.  Perjury is a habit for her.  He said, How can you believe what she said on this stand?  He wants the jurors to think that she‘s lying and she has raised her children, reared them in lying, and that that‘s what they‘re doing in this case.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.  For some reason, I just called the accuser‘s mother Debbie Rowe.  I don‘t know what that‘s all about, but I‘m glad...

GUTHRIE:  It happens, Keith.  It‘s this case.

OLBERMANN:  I‘m glad you fixed it for me.  Savannah Guthrie of Court TV, kind enough again to help us understand, and in this case, survive the Jackson trial.  Many thanks, Savannah.

GUTHRIE:  Sure.  You bet.

OLBERMANN:  Not to refract the light of the absurd or anything, but there is another familiar face in the legal news tonight.  The runaway bride goes to court wearing a jogging suit and running shoes, and neither smiling quite so much as in some of those still pictures of her, nor seeming quite as popeyed.  With her still-a-fiancee, John Mason, right behind her, Jennifer Wilbanks appearing before presiding judge Ronnie K.  Bachelor (ph) -- did somebody script this? -- they completed a prearranged plea deal, Wilbanks pleading no contest to one felony count of lying to the authorities.  She was sentenced to two years probation, 120 hours of community service.  She was also ordered to continue mental health treatment and to reimburse the sheriff‘s office $2,500.  And through tears, she apologized to the court.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JENNIFER WILBANKS:  I am truly sorry for my actions.  And I just want to thank the—Gwinnett County and the city of Duluth for all of their efforts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Over all, Ms. Wilbanks looked a lot better than her last day in public, when her anxiety had caused an afghan-like substance to grow over her head and shoulders.

From runaway brides to chased celebrities.  A paparazzo rams his vehicle into Lindsay Lohan‘s car.  We‘ll talk to an editor from that industry about what‘s fair and unfair in the race to get photos of the famous.  And coincidentally, another theory tonight involving paparazzi in the 1997 death of Princess Diana.  Stand by.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Paparazzi chased down the car of a beautiful celebrity, desperate for a shot to sell, the pursuit ending in a collision.  Our number two story on the COUNTDOWN: No, not the first and presumably the erroneous version of the death of Princess Diana, but the all too verified nightmare of the teenaged actress, Lindsay Lohan, chased by and, say police, intentionally rammed by a photographer on the streets of Los Angeles just east of Beverly Hills. 

The 18-year-old actually called police from her cell phone minutes before the crash to complain that she was being chased by photographers.  Other paparazzi caught the scene with their cameras as Lohan sped up and made a U-turn to get to safety.

Police say paparazzo Gallo Cesar Ramirez (ph) deliberately collided his van into her Mercedes Benz.  Lohan and the friend who was riding with her escaped with only minor injuries.  Ramirez was arrested for investigation of assault with a deadly weapon.  There‘s also an unrelated previous narcotics charge against him.  He‘s out on bail of 35 grand.

I‘m joined now by Jill Stempel, East Coast editor of World Entertainment News Network.  She assigns photographers—paparazzi—to cover celebrities.  She‘s even joined them for the ride and directed them on photos to take.  Ms. Stempel, thanks for your time tonight.

JILL STEMPEL, WORLD ENTERTAINMENT NEWS NETWORK:  Thank you.  Thank you for having me.

OLBERMANN:  What‘s been the reaction in your profession to this incident today?

STEMPEL:  Well, the basic reaction is that I think it‘s the case of the amateurs making the professionals look bad.  In this particular situation, it was a very young kid.  He‘s only 24-years-old, and he had only been working as a photographer for that agency for a little over a month.  So he really was untrained and had no experience following a celebrity and was over-zealous.  And I do believe that he did not intentionally ram her car.  I do believe it was a car accident.

OLBERMANN:  Tell me about the industry rules about chasing photo subjects in cars.  Is there anything that is relied upon in situations—what is told to young, as this guy, as you said was, young incoming paparazzi?

STEMPEL:  Well, my company, WENN, does train our photographers, in particular, for situations like this.  And we would never let a rookie like this go out on his own.  When we are tracking a celebrity, we would use two or three cars with drivers with walkie-talkies who are experienced, and essentially, if she did something like make a U-turn, they would radio another car to follow her from another direction, so that they wouldn‘t have to do something like pull a U-turn and endanger anyone in the road.

OLBERMANN:  I know that Ms. Lohan has a reputation, particularly, for posing for a million pictures a day.

STEMPEL:  Yes.  Yes.

OLBERMANN:  But is there—because she poses for a million, does she have to pose for a million and one?  In other words, is there recognition that even for her, there might be a moment in a day where she merits privacy?

STEMPEL:  Absolutely.  Absolutely.  We completely treat celebrities as human beings.  I think that‘s a misunderstanding that we don‘t.  We‘re in an industry.  We rely on them, and they rely on us.  I mean, the minute they step on the red carpet, they are seeking attention. 

But obviously, they do deserve a measure of privacy.  At our company WENN, we would prefer to get the picture without them ever even knowing that we were there.  We would never be aggressive with a celebrity or intentionally get in their face or ram their car.  Obviously, that‘s really no good for us.

So we would prefer to get the shot from a car with a long lens, so that she would never even know that we were there.  We actually just shot her a few days ago.  We stayed in the car.  She knew we were there.  She smiled at the camera.  We got our shots.  We drove away, and she drove off to dinner.

I mean, there‘s a million—literally hundred of thousands of pictures being taken of celebrities a day with no incident.  Obviously, when there‘s a young, overzealous person and something like this happens with a celebrity who‘s pretty much one of the most famous people in the world right now, obviously, it‘s going to merit a lot of attention, but I don‘t think it should be considered a norm in the industry, by any means.

OLBERMANN:  Jill Stempel, the East Coast editor of World Entertainment News Network.  Great.  Thanks for your perspective and for your time tonight.

STEMPEL:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  In an irony of timing, “Keeping Tabs,” our nightly round-up of celebrity and entertainment news, begins with an all too smooth segue tonight, another version of the Princess Diana conspiracy theory.  In her new book, “Spies, Lies and Whistleblowers,” a former spy for MI5, Britain‘s equivalent of the FBI, claims that the August, 1997, accident in Paris that killed Diana and her lover, Dodi Fayed, among others, was caused by MI6, Britain‘s equivalent of the CIA.  But Annie Machen (ph) says the rival spy group was not trying to kill Diana, just to injure her, get her away from the Fayed family or, if she was pregnant, to cause her to lose the child.

She claims there was a white Fiat in the tunnel at the time of that crash that was traced to a photographer with a past connection to MI6, and that 18 months later, that photographer was found dead in a burned-out car in France.  It should be noted that Ms. Machen‘s MI5 and the group she accuses, MI6, are a lot less friendly than, say, the Democrats and the Republicans.

Whether that is all hidden truth or bunkum, this much is for certain.  If Tom Cruise doesn‘t calm down soon, somebody‘s going to go after him, probably with an elephant tranquilizer gun, the Web site Radaronline.com reporting that after Cruise‘s sofa-bouncing love rapture about new girlfriend Katie Holmes, Cruise‘s agents are pleading with his new public relations person to, quote, “rein him in.”  Cruise‘s new PR person is his sister, Leanne Duvet (ph), whom he hired after firing a much more hands-on, controlling PR person not long ago.

None of the principals commented, but Cruise simply jumped up and down on Oprah Winfrey‘s sofa, screaming, No comment, no comment!”

Ahead: New York City is crawling with them.  One man crawling through 1,000 pubs, and here, live on your screen, another man crawling the 13 miles of Manhattan Island for a cause.  Your full-service newscast sprints to the finish next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  It is not just a cliche, it‘s an annoying cliche: You got to crawl before you can walk.  Tonight, an amended version of it: You got to crawl before you can walk, and then you got to go crawl again.  Our number one story on the COUNTDOWN: two different stories of crawling for two different reasons.  The second is the proverbial pub crawl multiplied to ridiculous proportions as a New Yorker tries to buy a beer at 1,000 different bars.

But the first is something else altogether.  Another New Yorker, once a mountain-climbing guide in the lower reaches of Mount Everest, now a cab driver from Brooklyn, crawling the lend length of Manhattan Island to raise money for victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami and to honor the police officers and firefighters where perished on 9/11.

Mr. L.G. Combache (ph) Sherpa joins us now, as he continues his crawl live through midtown Manhattan, 56th and Broadway.  Good evening, sir.  Thank you for your time.

L.G. SHERPA, CRAWLING MANHATTAN:  Good evening.

OLBERMANN:  A simple question to you.  Why are you doing this?

SHERPA:  I‘m trying to raise funds for the tsunami victims and to honor the September 11 heroes, so that they‘ll be remembered, and not only in USA but all over the world, for what they did, for sacrificing their lives for the other people.  And I want to encourage the similar action from everybody.

OLBERMANN:  Your goggles that you‘re wearing, your entire approach, your outfit, it seems very reminiscent of an actual mountain climb.  Are you, in fact, approaching this as if it were a mountain climb?

SHERPA:  Yes.  Since New York does not have any mountains, I had to come up with something that‘s very similar to mountain climbing.  So I‘m just using whatever I already have, so I could actually get what I want, like attention and to make it successful.

OLBERMANN:  How does a horizontal climb of Manhattan compare to going up Everest, in terms of physical strength?  What do you—is it the same kind of feeling?

SHERPA:  Yes, for me, yes, because I‘m—I‘m using my hands, which you usually don‘t—I mean, in a different way.  Different muscle group is used.  And I usually wear a mask to get away from the pollen, which I don‘t like.  I get allergies very fast.  And that makes it very difficult.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, I live around that neighborhood.  I know exactly what you‘re talking about.  Tell me when you started this.  When did you start this, and how long is it going to take to you finish, to get all the way downtown?

SHERPA:  I started at, like, 6:00 o‘clock on Sunday, last Sunday, and I‘m expecting to reach Ground Zero at 2:00 o‘clock on Saturday.

OLBERMANN:  Wow.  How far do you get on an average day?  Where do you sleep at night?

SHERPA:  Oh, I usually travel, like, two-and-a-quarter miles, which is, like, 45 blocks a day.  And we sleep in our van.  I mean, I‘m just treating it like an expedition.

OLBERMANN:  Wow.

SHERPA:  And the van is our camp, you know?

OLBERMANN:  Right.

SHERPA:  So three of our...

OLBERMANN:  Well, we‘ve added to the burdens of doing this by making you talk while you crawl.  But let me ask you one last question.  Have you got a message here?  I mean, when people on the street ask you what you‘re doing, what do you tell them?

SHERPA:  Oh, yes.  I tell people that I‘m trying to raise funds for the tsunami victims, on behalf of New York heroes, NYPD, FDNY, PAPD.  They‘re our heroes.  They lost their lives.  And I‘m doing that for them because a hero deserves a proper respect, and I can‘t think of anything else better than this.  I‘m trying to make a lot of noise to the whole world, say, Hey, heroes need respect!  And you know, I got a lot of attention, and I guess a lot of people knows why I‘m crawling by now.

OLBERMANN:  I think they‘ve got you now.  L.G. Combache Sherpa, bound for Ground Zero on Saturday.  All the best to you, sir.  Thank you.

SHERPA:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  Look for him on the streets of Big Town (ph).

And even in Big Town, it‘s only in a metaphorical sense that he‘s likely to run into somebody crawling in the opposite direction, some denizen of New York nightlife, infamous since the pubs and bars were known as “blind tigers (ph)” and “gin dives.”  But if Mr. Sherpa does run into somebody crawling in the opposite direction, odds are 6 to 5 his name will be Dan Freeman.  COUNTDOWN‘s Monica Novotny joins us now, also from Manhattan, with his story, the story of a crawl of an entirely different nature.  Good evening, Monica.

MONICA NOVOTNY, COUNTDOWN:  Keith, good evening.  Dan Freeman has been on one extended bar crawl for the last five months around the city and around the world.  And he is nowhere near finished yet but, oh, what a long, strange sip it‘s been already.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN FREEMAN:  When I was in Paris, I actually smelled the bar from two blocks away, and sure enough, we found one.  So maybe it‘s always been a knack that I have.  Maybe this is just something I‘ve been born to.

NOVOTNY (voice-over):  Destined to drink.  Dan Freeman may be on the longest pub crawl ever.  His goal?  Ordering one pint at 1,000 bars this year.

FREEMAN:  Let me have a Brooklyn lager.

I‘m going to have a (INAUDIBLE) .

Let me have a Guinness.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I wish I had that much time on my hands.

NOVOTNY:  Time is one thing the 60-year-old New Yorker has plenty of.  A retired computer consultant, Freeman started his one-man beerfest on January 1, visiting three to five bars almost every day since then.

(on camera):  What number of bars?

FREEMAN:  This is 532.

NOVOTNY:  And what number of beers today?

FREEMAN:  Oh, today?  This is only my second one today.

NOVOTNY (voice-over):  But like every other day, another round isn‘t far away.

FREEMAN:  Cheers.  Just thought it‘d be something fun do and something I could kind of look back on and say, You know what?  Maybe I‘ve done something that nobody else ever actually did before.

NOVOTNY:  And he says his days aren‘t all that different from his buddies‘.

FREEMAN:  They go golfing, and then they have a few beers.  So I just eliminate the golfing part.

NOVOTNY:  His drinking documented and posted to his on-line barcrawl blog.

YUM CHIN, DAN FREEMAN‘S WIFE:  I wanted him to have a hobby, but this isn‘t exactly the kind of hobby I was expecting.

NOVOTNY (on camera):  Believe it or not, Dan says this little project is actually helping to get him in shape.  Because he walks from bar to bar.  He says, at one point, he lost three pounds.

CHIN:  He tells me he lost a few pounds.  I‘m taking his word for it!

NOVOTNY (voice-over):  And Dan‘s gained more than a few fans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  How long‘s the trip going to take you?

FREEMAN:  I plan on finishing up in December.

NOVOTNY (voice-over):  He says the people he meets makes it all worth it, that and the beer.

(on camera):  What‘s the most that you‘ve hit in one day?

FREEMAN:  Twelve, when I was in Mexico.

NOVOTNY (voice-over):  As for what‘s next?

FREEMAN:  It won‘t be 1,000 Starbucks, I guarantee you that.

CHIN:  Certainly, there will not be a sequel.

(LAUGHTER)

NOVOTNY:  So for now, this crawler is enjoying his perfect retirement, where beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.

FREEMAN:  I tell you, it‘s—it‘s a tough life.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NOVOTNY:  If you‘re wondering whether or not Dan has an alcohol problem, he says absolutely not.  He‘s very strict with his rules, just one beer in each bar.  If you want to follow his journey on line, along with the tens of thousands who are already doing so, you can find more information on our Web site.  That‘s countdown.msnbc.com—Keith.

OLBERMANN:  COUNTDOWN‘s Monica Novotny.  Lost weight walking bar to bar.  I‘ve tried that line before myself.  Monica...

NOVOTNY:  It never works.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.  She‘s where you‘ll usually find her, amid the drinking establishments of Big Town.  And maybe we should ask Mr. Sherpa if he wants a beer, too, as he goes past.

That is COUNTDOWN.  I‘m Keith Olbermann.  Keep your knees loose.  Mr.

Sherpa will tell you

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