updated 6/14/2005 1:50:28 PM ET 2005-06-14T17:50:28

Guest: Rachel Maddow, Jay Severin, Al Sharpton, Max Kellerman



Not guilty. 

Not guilty. 

Not guilty. 

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST (voice-over):  The king of pop beats it.  Michael Jackson walks free.  But will he continue to march to his old tune?

Plus, the race issue and the celebrity factor.  Can starstruck jurors stick to their conviction?  Tonight, a real courtroom thriller. 


CARLSON:  Yes, I‘ve got a problem with authority.  I‘ll admit that, in a cheery way.  Not everyone likes the bow tie, I‘ll be honest.  But I like the bow tie.  I respect people who believe something, even if I don‘t agree with them.  It‘s my opinion, wrong as it may be. 


CARLSON:  Welcome to THE SITUATION.  I‘m Tucker Carlson. 

Not only is this the first edition of our show.  It‘s also a special edition.  The stack of stories you see on the left-hand side of your screen will always be filled with the day‘s most important and interesting news. 

At the top tonight, as you may have guessed, they are all related to the day‘s dominant story.  That is, of course, the acquittal of Michael Jackson.  Jackson confidant Al Sharpton will join us a little later live. 

But joining me now to analyze Jackson‘s not-guilty verdict, as well as other day‘s headlines, are the top-rated radio show host in all of New England, Jay Severin, but the top radio show host in my heart, Rachel Maddow.


TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Thank you both very much.



CARLSON:  Our first situation, not-guilty verdicts in the case against Michael Jackson.  After a week of deliberations, the jury in that child molestation case today found the famed singer not guilty on 10 separate counts.  They range from conspiracy to commit lewd acts on a minor to providing minors with alcohol.  It appears the jury didn‘t like the accuser‘s mother either.

Here is a reaction from one of those jurors. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I disliked it intensely when she snapped her fingers at us.  That is when I thought, don‘t snap your fingers at me, lady. 



CARLSON:  I‘ll be honest with you.  I am baffled by this. 

And judging by the look an Michael Jackson‘s face this morning, I—or this afternoon—I think he is baffled too.  I can picture him now sitting in his den with a large glass of Jesus juice. 


CARLSON:  Wondering what happened.  He seemed very adamant.


CARLSON:  My best guest, though, is this.  The accusers weren‘t plausible, for a sort of funny reason.  They hung around with Michael Jackson, the accusers.  Therefore, by definition, in the jury‘s eyes, they must have been freaks.  Therefore, their testimony was worthless. 

MADDOW:  Well, there was a lot of charges that were on the table.  There was a lot of different ways the jury could have come down.  They found him not guilty.  And now we get to question that verdict forever and ever and ever.  But he is innocent until proven guilty.  And we‘re all going to say that he should have been convicted, but we weren‘t there. 

CARLSON:  Well, I‘m going to say it. 

JAY SEVERIN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  I rarely speak for America, I think.  But, tonight it‘s O.J. Jackson. I mean, I know it‘s O.J. Jackson.

And a big slumber party at Michael‘s tonight at the ranch.  Everyone is going to have their SpongeBob SquarePants P.J.s on, plenty of Jesus juice.  This is almost predictable in a culture where we have this appetite for the freak show show business.  Paris Hilton makes a film which could arguably be an animal husbandry film.  And what happens?


SEVERIN:  Shame?  Is she ostracized?  Is there shame?  No.  She gets her own television show. 

CARLSON:  No.  But this is a little different, because the guy was accused, with some great evidence, in my view, of preying on children. 

You had to believe, in order to vote not guilty in this case, that the kid and his brother were both lying.  And I would like to hear an explanation for why they were lying. 

MADDOW:  Well, if it was a—well, I mean, what the defense said was that it was a conspiracy on the part of that family to try to get money out of him.  And the jury believed them. 

CARLSON:  Well...

MADDOW:  So, you know, you weren‘t on the jury.

You weren‘t on the jury.  And we believe...


CARLSON:  Well, we will—we‘ll see if they file suit. 

And speaking of that, our next situation involves Michael Jackson‘s future.  The pop star seemingly has many friends in the entertainment industry.  Actors Macaulay Culkin and Chris Tucker took the stand on his behalf, while Jay Leno also made an appearance in the courthouse.  The question, will the gloved wonder return to his glory days of platinum albums and sold-out arenas?  Or will he become one of Leno‘s punchlines, never to live down the accusations? 

I don‘t see him producing a lot of music from here on out.  I mean, for the past 10 years, really, his only product has been scandal. 

MADDOW:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  And it‘s kind of hard to top this scandal.  This is like the “Thriller” of scandal. 

MADDOW:  But none of his product over the past 10 years has been his own making, other than through his own questionable behavior.  It‘s not like he‘s had a strategy to try to become the king of eccentricity. 


CARLSON:  If he did, it was a brilliant strategy. 

MADDOW:  If he did, he‘s doing very well.


MADDOW:  But everybody else has decided this for him.  I think that he would love to disappear and I don‘t think we‘ll ever let him.  We need—we still need him to beat up on. 

SEVERIN:  I would say, note above, Paris Hilton.  Everything that has happened here has made him—there is no more line between famous and infamous. 

What he‘s done is helped blur this line.  He is a famous guy.  Whatever he does now will make money.  It‘s obviously a little bit better for him that he will be walking around the street to do it, moonwalking or otherwise.  But he won‘t be in jail and have to wait to make his next C.D.


CARLSON:  Well, there is always Asia. 

Here‘s my question, though.  Before all this happened, just three years ago, he was a major Democratic Party fund-raiser, doing headliners with Clinton.  Is he too tainted, do you think, Rachel, to continue to raise money for the Democratic Party? 

MADDOW:  You have been making the case that Michael Jackson is a Democratic Party...

CARLSON:  That‘s a fair question.

MADDOW:  ... as if that‘s his claim to fame. 


CARLSON:  No, but it‘s one of them.  It‘s one of his claims to fame. 

MADDOW:  You know, if everybody else who had ever appeared at a Democratic fund-raiser was so billed as you, you would get half the time you get on television.  He did one fund-raiser with Bill Clinton and that has decided to make you...


CARLSON:  I‘d like to see him do another. 

MADDOW:  Yes, fair enough.

SEVERIN:  I really like—I really like that they shared the same spiritual adviser.  Clearly, Jesse Jackson perfected the spiritual advising act on Bill Clinton and now on Michael Jackson.  It‘s quite a stable of clientele, you know. 

CARLSON:  I—next situation, Michael Jackson‘s acquittal is the latest in a string of high-profile, nation-riveting mega-trials in which the accused, from the police in the Rodney King case, to O.J. Simpson himself, to Robert Blake, are all found not guilty. 

It seems to me this guy clearly got an advantage because he was famous.  I mean, for years, people knew he was weird.  He had the llamas and the chimp and those Cap‘N Crunch epaulets.


CARLSON:  Do you know what I mean?  People went into this trial knowing that it was plausible he might have molested children and he still got off.  I don‘t think an ordinary, non-king of pop...

SEVERIN:  Absolutely.

CARLSON:  ... defendant would have gotten off.  Is that an obvious point?

SEVERIN:  This is a contemporary elephant man.  Odd, that he has a fixation on elephant man.

He is a freak.  He is an adult that sleeps with children and he admits to it.  I mean, we have—we‘ve got a quote here where he said, sure, I have slept with many children and it‘s an act of love to share your bed. 

I believe that, too, but the state of New York insists they be over 16. 

CARLSON:  OK.  So, compare that to a—we had this conversation the other day, Rachel.



CARLSON:  There was a father just this week in the news, last week in the news, who turned down radiation treatments for his daughter. 

MADDOW:  Right. 

CARLSON:  She had Hodgkin‘s disease.  And he didn‘t think she should get the radiation treatments.  He was arrested immediately.  This is a guy who hung his boy out a fourth-floor-story window and nothing happened.  An ordinary person would have been in jail, don‘t you think?

MADDOW:  Well, if you talk about the idea that America can‘t convict celebrities, I mean, ask Mike Tyson about that.  Ask Martha Stewart about that.  There is no degree between fame and infamy in this country, but there never has been.  Al Capone was a huge celebrity.  We‘ve never made a distinction between good celebrity and bad celebrity.  It‘s always been just how big your name is. 

CARLSON:  Except, Al Capone died of syphilis on Alcatraz.  And that...


CARLSON:  ... the difference.

SEVERIN:  Bummer.


MADDOW:  Bummer.

SEVERIN:  Speaking of parents hanging out their kids, by the way, how about the parents in this?  There was a case a year ago, two years ago, a woman spanked her kid in the market and the Division of Youth Services or whatever was going to take her kid away from her for spanking the child in the supermarket.  Here is Jackson hanging the kid over the balcony.  How about the parents that hung their kids over Michael Jackson‘s bed?


CARLSON:  See, I thought that was the most disturbing thing in the trial.

SEVERIN:  They‘re pimps for their kids.

CARLSON:  I completely agree, until—until I saw the fans. 

And that‘s the next situation.  The most amazing pictures of the day may well have been the legions of Michael Jackson supporters outside the Santa Maria County courthouse, who could not contain their glee at his acquittal.

Among the folks taking the day off from work or spending their summer vacation on the Jackson vigil was a woman who released a dove at each not-guilty announcement. 


CARLSON:  What do you—I mean, right before the verdicts were announced, commentators on television were saying, if he is declared guilty, there may be violence.  The dove lady may go berserk. 


CARLSON:  What do you make of this?

MADDOW:  I think that this is a wonderful country and a wonderful world. 

CARLSON:  Oh, you‘re so forgiving.

MADDOW:  You have people who are rabid fans of Michael Jackson.  You have people who are rabid fans of patriotic power ballads.  You have people who think that Nixon was framed for Watergate.

And we‘re a country and a world where people are allowed to go nuts with that stuff.  But you guys are also allowed to convict him, despite the jury‘s verdict.  That‘s what we get to do.  It‘s free speech. 


SEVERIN:  I was desperately hoping for some kind of self-immolation or violent act of protest out there.  But the thing that confused me was the bird.  Shouldn‘t that be a chicken hawk? 

CARLSON:  Well, that‘s—I—that wouldn‘t be weird enough.  The dove is like a religious symbol.  It struck me watching that, this wasn‘t so much a vigil for Michael Jackson.  This was a convention of Michael Jackson fans, these people who, on some deep level, relate to the guy.  What does that tell you?

MADDOW:  There will be some beautiful relationships and marriages that come out of this.


SEVERIN:  Though not beautiful marriages.


CARLSON:  Coming up on THE SITUATION, what‘s the next move for the man who uses platinum records as toilet seat covers?  Our panel breaks down the media‘s treatment of the king of pop, plus a man who knows Michael Jackson very well.  Reverend Al Sharpton joins me next to discuss the verdict. 

Stick around


CARLSON:  Coming up, the Reverend Al Sharpton speaks out on Michael Jackson, the free man.  That‘s next in our “Free Speak” segment. 



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What mother in her right mind would allow that to happen, or, you know, just freely volunteer your child, you know, to sleep with someone? 


CARLSON:  Good question. 

Welcome back to THE SITUATION and our “Free Speak” segment. 

On most nights, we‘ll invite guests to speak on a whole range of topics in the news.  But tonight is Michael Jackson night. 

And talk more about today‘s dramatic verdict is a longtime friend of Michael Jackson‘s and, I‘ll admit, of mine, the Reverend Al Sharpton. 

We are honored to have you here, Reverend Sharpton.  Thanks.


Congratulations on your new show, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Now, in order to think this verdict—thank you. 

In order to think this verdict is good news, you got to believe that this boy, the alleged victim, and his brother, are both lying. 

SHARPTON:  No, I think in order to think this good—this verdict is good news—and I do—is that this jury, despite the media‘s attempt to demonize Michael Jackson, I think rose to the level of saying that, if they were not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt, they were not going to convict him based on whatever biases they had—and they said in the press conference some of them came in with biases—or whatever they considered different or strange, but based on criminal behavior. 

And I think that‘s what the criminal justice system is supposed to do. 

And that‘s a good thing. 


CARLSON:  I have heard a couple people make a similar point this afternoon tonight, that the press was demonizing Michael Jackson.  That‘s clearly a point he and his advisers wanted to make.  At one point, he compared himself to Nelson Mandela.  Do you think that‘s a fair comparison?

SHARPTON:  But the fact of the matter is, they compared him to a criminal, and the jury said no.  That‘s what I‘m saying.


CARLSON:  But he was accused of child molestation.  I mean, that is a criminal offense.

SHARPTON:  And the jury said no. 

Like, even tonight in this situation, pun intended, we‘re still talking about Jesus juice.  Well, we don‘t even know if that‘s a fact.  The jury acquitted Michael.  We‘re still talking about all of the allegations as if they in fact were proven to be true. 

CARLSON:  Well, OK, I‘ll just—I don‘t want to retry the case, obviously.  It has been decided.  But let me just throw one fact out there that I think is kind of compelling.  Michael Jackson‘s fingerprint and the fingerprint of the accuser, a child, were both found on a pornographic magazine.  That‘s a fact.  No one disputes that.

SHARPTON:  And compelling to who?  It did not rise, in the judgment of this jury to a criminal act. 

You just compared Michael to Paris Hilton.  Well, no one is charging her with a crime.  And, clearly, there‘s been bizarre behavior by her.  I know a lot of people in the entertainment industry.  I don‘t consider any of them to not engage in bizarre activity.  It does not make them a criminal.  And I think that is what a lot of the people that supported Michael said. 

I also think that a lot of things that Michael has been sensitive and supportive of has been overlooked.  I think it is true that Michael was in many ways a jackal until he stood up and started talking about things in the music industry.  He came to National Action Network and dealt with his problems with Sony.  All of sudden, he became wacko.  Michael didn‘t change that much.  I think Michael decided to speak up.


CARLSON:  Wait a second.  Wait a second. 

With all due respect, I just went—funny you should mention it—went back and read the clips from I think three years ago. 

SHARPTON:  Right. 

CARLSON:  The incident you‘re talking about, when you marched up to Sony Music headquarters with Michael Jackson, and he referred to Tommy Mottola, the chairman at that point of Sony Music, as—quote—“a racist, and very, very, very devilish.”

And the next day, you give an interview to “The New York Post” in which you said:  I have no idea what he is talking about.  Tommy Mottola is not devilish and he is not a racist. 

SHARPTON:  No.  What I said was that I had no personal experience of that and that Michael came to a forum at National Action Network and expressed himself.  He dealt with the president of the company.  I didn‘t, just like you tonight are making allegations about Michael that I have no experience with.

But I clearly agree with Michael that there was a lot of problems with particularly black artists in the industry, still is, and a lot of people have been undermined. 


SHARPTON:  And I think that began a lot of Michael‘s problems in the music industry. 

CARLSON:  Well, you—I don‘t see—personally see a racial component to the story.

But since you brought it up, I wonder what you make of the fact that he was acquitted on all charges, even the misdemeanor charge, by what was essentially an all-white jury.  It had no black members.  I believe there was an Asian woman and at least one Latino man.  But it was not particularly a jury of color.  Does that strike you as odd? 


I think that is good.  I think it showed that this jury was able to rise above about all of that.  But I don‘t think that this is a model to say that people should have all-white juries and that people should not be judged by their peers.  I happen to think these 12 jurors did a tremendous service to the American criminal justice system, because they clearly said at their press conference, they were not there as fans.  They were not even there with people that didn‘t have doubt.

CARLSON:  Well, wait.

SHARPTON:  But they didn‘t feel the evidence met the level that it should for conviction. 

CARLSON:  You just said that Michael Jackson should have been judged by a jury of his peers.  I have wondered this the whole time.  What would a jury of Michael Jackson‘s peers look like?

SHARPTON:  What would a jury of Paris Hilton‘s peers look like? 


CARLSON:  I don‘t know, but one celebrity at a time here. 


SHARPTON:  What does anybody‘s peers look like?  I think that we clearly, in the criminal justice system, have a broad understanding of peers, in terms of people‘s racial background, in terms of people‘s similarly situated situation. 

And I think, clearly, we know where Michael Jackson would be.  I mean, again, all of us can get off jokes.  But when we are talking about something as serious as people going to jail, I think we should respect the criminal justice system and the risk of someone being wrongly convicted. 

CARLSON:  Or as serious as the molestation of children.  Now, you were...

SHARPTON:  Absolutely, which is why none of us interfered with the trial.  The trial ran its course.  And 12 jurors said not guilty.

CARLSON:  Right. 


SHARPTON:  And the American media needs to get over it. 

CARLSON:  It doesn‘t, of course, mean that they reached the right decision.  O.J., for instance, obviously guilty and still got off.  But let me just ask you this question.

SHARPTON:  Obviously guilty to who?  That jury said not guilty. 


CARLSON:  Juries can make mistakes, Reverend Sharpton, as you‘re aware.

SHARPTON:  You know, when we fight cases and juries come back, Tucker...

CARLSON:  Right. 

SHARPTON:  When we fight cases and juries come back, you tell us to accept it. 


SHARPTON:  Let‘s get straight in THE SITUATION from the first night. 

We must have one stance. 


CARLSON:  Let‘s talk about the future for a sec.  You were in the music business.  For a while, you worked with James Brown, were a producer.  You know a lot about it.  Do you think Michael Jackson has a future in pop music, honestly? 

SHARPTON:  Absolutely. 

CARLSON:  Really?

SHARPTON:  I think that Michael Jackson has artistic expertise.

I think that, if anything, sometimes, a lot of the hidden and sometimes latent talent comes back under adversity.  I would not write Michael off at all.  L.A. Reid, one of the prominent members of the music industry, said he would bring him out tomorrow.  I don‘t think Michael is washed up, nor should he be. 

CARLSON:  All right. 

Now, very quickly, Mr. Sharpton.  We‘re almost out of time.  But you just saw a tape there on the screen of Michael Jackson walking and a man holding an umbrella over him.  What is that about?  Why the umbrella? 

SHARPTON:  I don‘t know.  I‘ve seen people hold umbrellas with people walking down 5th Avenue of Manhattan.  I have never stopped and asked them why. 

CARLSON:  But not people wearing epaulets and dark glasses.  Reverend Al Sharpton...

SHARPTON:  Well, maybe they are hiding from the sun.  I don‘t know, Tucker.


CARLSON:  It was great having you on. 

SHARPTON:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Thank you.  We appreciate it. 

SHARPTON:  Good luck with your situation. 

CARLSON:  Thanks.

Coming up on THE SITUATION, the Reverend touched on it, but did race really play a role in the case against Michael Jackson or in the public‘s assumptions about him?  A writer for one of America‘s largest newspaper thinks so.  We‘ll break it down next.


CARLSON:  Welcome back to these. 

Time for a segment we are calling “Op-Ed Op-Ed,” where, every day, we scour the nation‘s op-ed pages and discuss the best columns we find. 

In light Michael Jackson‘s acquittal today, we found three recent pieces about the trial to which Jay Severin and Rachel Maddow and I will offer our retorts. 

SHARPTON:  All right.  Good.

CARLSON:  You ready? 

MADDOW:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  All right, Mark Anthony Neal writes in “The L.A. Times” how the history of black masculinity can affect the Michael Jackson case. 

He says—quote—“For much of his life, Michael Jackson has transcended race.  But now, facing imprisonment if convicted of child molestation charges, the race issue may prove his enemy.”

It‘s almost mean to use an editorial like this.  With the benefit of hindsight, this has actually turned out to be ridiculous. 


CARLSON:  He was, of course, acquitted by a virtually all-white jury.  I don‘t think race played any role, simply because I don‘t think anybody can figure out what race he is or represents or wants to be. 


SHARPTON:  Exactly. 

CARLSON:  Your 20 seconds.

MADDOW:  I think the fact that there were no black people on the jury that found him not guilty is important.  But, in any trial in the United States where a black man is on trial for a charge that involves sex, race is going to be an issue.  And I think that the way this goes down in American culture is that white people and conservative people will think that he got off because of race and people will think that—and other people will feel like they wanted him to be found guilty because of race. 

I think it will go down in our cultural understanding of how this plays out.

SEVERIN:  Race card?  Which race card?  Which race, like you said?

He spent $20 million, 20 years trying to be whiter.  And when he gets indicted, all of a sudden, he is black.  And he has Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to decide.  This was a get-out-of-jail-free card.  And he truly had, it seems to me, a jury of his peers, middle-aged white women. 

CARLSON:  That‘s exactly right. 


SEVERIN:  In the end.

CARLSON:  All of a sudden, he‘s like a civil rights guys?  He‘s Nelson Mandela?  Please.

All right.  Maureen Orth wrote in “Newsday” a very smart editorial.  Jackson‘s real fear is losing the spotlight, she argued.  Here‘s what she said: “The final irony of the trial is that, in his long march to infamy, the distinction that our celebrity besotted culture no longer seems to make, Jackson may become more famous if he is found guilty.”

And I think that‘s absolutely right.  And the flip side of that is also true, I believe, that having been acquitted, he will recede into bankrupt anonymity, not on a golf course in Florida looking for the real molester, but just probably out somewhere where no one will ever talk to him.  And that probably is sort of the great torture, that he, Michael Jackson, will pay for what he was accused of doing and acquitted of doing. 

MADDOW:  I think that Michael Jackson‘s fame is not in doubt.  I think that he is going to be famous and more famous, having gone through this sort of ordeal, regardless of what happened.

And I think the question is whether or not he is going to be able to control his own fate more.  I mean, he has not been able to control his own fate for the past 10 years, while he has been in the public eye.  Will he release more music?  I don‘t think you need to count him out for that.

SEVERIN:  I think any kind of fame equals dollars.  I mean, it seems to me...

MADDOW:  You‘re right.


SEVERIN:  ... he may not be the same musician that he was, but he is now more famous than he was.  And whether he does a reality show or a movie or gets into some other line of work, fame equals dollars.  And that‘s the hard and ugly fact. 

CARLSON:  That is, I think, absolutely right.

Elaine Showalter writes, again in “The L.A. Times,” that Michael Jackson is the Oscar Wilde of our time, Wilde, of course, the famous playwright arrested and charged with homosexuality in May 1995, found guilty, served two years hard labor, I think died essentially penniless, only resurrected later.

Here is what she writes—quote—“If convicted, Jackson could even wear makeup and watch television.  If acquitted, he could exhibit himself to the curious and maintain his career.  But whatever the verdict, this is a judgment of decency or gross indecency of Michael Jackson‘s life.”

I think that is absolutely right.  I don‘t think, incidentally, he can maintain his career, as she implies.  But I do think this trial and the way people see it is all about how you feel about Michael Jackson‘s life.  Is it grossly offensive to you?  This guy admitted sleeping with little boys in a nonsexual way.  Does that offend you?  If it does, you probably think he should be found guilty.  If it doesn‘t, no problem.

MADDOW:  I think that‘s—I think just the way that we‘re talking about it tonight is important, because he was just found not guilty.  And you guys are talking about all the horrible and gross things about him and how you are opposed to the verdict. 

SEVERIN:  No.  Horrible and gross?

MADDOW:  Horrible and gross things about him  And so it becomes ...


CARLSON:  Well, sleeping with children, yes. 


MADDOW:  ... him being an eccentric guy and him doing things that you judge him for, but a jury just found him not guilty.  We don‘t like eccentricity, but we need it and we‘re fueled on it.  And it drives our understanding of pop culture.  There are no normal celebrities. 


SEVERIN:  I love eccentrics and worse.  I aspire to it.  But everything has been devalued.  And it seems to me, we‘ve gone from Oscar Wilde, a gentleman and a wit, to someone who is really more like Pee-wee Herman.  And I think it‘s not the same thing.

CARLSON:  I completely agree with that.

MADDOW:  I completely disagree...


CARLSON:  Thank you both. 


CARLSON:  That‘s it for tonight‘s “Op-Ed Op-Ed.”  Thanks, both of you.

MADDOW:  Indeed.

CARLSON:  Still ahead on THE SITUATION, there were developments in the world today other than the Michael Jackson acquittal, believe it or not, including one of the world‘s richest men giving advice to college students.  Drop out before it‘s too late.  Good for him. 

Plus, is it possible to know which 3-year-olds will wind up being criminals?  And if it is, should we do something about it?  Lock them up or let them be?

Coming up. 


CARLSON:  Welcome back to THE SITUATION where every night at this time we‘re going to refresh our stack of stories and continue with the day‘s top news.  With me are Michael Jackson aficionados Jay Severin—for the day, anyway—and Rachel Maddow. 

We dive back in.  All right, we restart with the day‘s top story.  Of course, that‘s the acquittal of Michael Jackson on all 10 charges against him in Santa Maria, California, this afternoon.  If you‘re just getting your electricity back on, or you were incredibly busy today, we repeat, Michael Jackson was acquitted on all 10 charges relating to child molestation in Santa Maria, California. 

Every time I hear that it shocks me.  I still wonder, though, is this going to mean anything six months from now?  Is it a cultural moment?  And the other thing I wonder is, this guy has three kids—I think they are called Prince, Paris and Blanket—and he has sole custody of them. 

Is this an on-going story, Jay?  I think it is.  I think this is not the last time he is going to dangle someone out of the windows. 

SEVERIN:  For the losers to whom this is the sunrise and sunset, this is Elvis.  You know, they say it‘s funny.  It‘s funny, isn‘t it, that 16 percent of American people think that Elvis is still alive?  It‘s funny unless one of the 16 percent live next door to you. 

MADDOW:  Or is your mother. 

SEVERIN:  That‘s right.  And the kids I‘m concerned about so much, balcony-dangling notwithstanding, are other people‘s kids.  Because if he is guilty of any of this, it‘s going to happen again, and it‘s going to be someone‘s kid. 

MADDOW:  But this is the way that this story lives on and how it stays important.  People keep saying, “If he‘s guilty.”  He was just acquitted.  And that‘s the way it‘s going to live on, is that it was going to be an ongoing debate about whether we believe the jury‘s verdict or whether we‘re going to keep retrying this case without benefit of having been there in the courtroom? 

That‘s the first thing.  The second thing is, the news media is going to have to figure out if we have anything else to fill all our time with?  What else are we going to talk about?  We‘ve been talking about this wall-to-wall for so long.  It depends whether or not we can come up with something else to say. 

CARLSON:  Well, I can say with a clean conscience that I don‘t mind if we ever talk about it again.  This is the first time I talked about it in public. 

SEVERIN:  Hear, hear.

CARLSON:  Now an official Michael Jackson expert, I‘m proud to say, the day we launch the show this happens.  But I think we‘re going to hear from him again.

MADDOW:  Let‘s move it off.

CARLSON:  Well, it‘s hard to tell from TV tonight, but there was news beyond the acquittal of Michael Jackson.  And we switch now to what could become a frightening situation for many Americans. 

Delaware senator and top Democrat of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Joe Biden, warned on “Meet the Press” the U.S. would have, quote, “to face a painful dilemma on restoring the military draft if recruitment goals continue to be missed.” 

This is both, in my view, serious and totally ridiculous and political.  It‘s serious that there are these great shortfalls in recruiting.  It‘s ridiculous we‘re going to get a draft.  We‘re not going to get one.  Nobody wants it.  The public doesn‘t want it.  The Pentagon doesn‘t want it.  A volunteer army is just more effective. 

But it doesn‘t—on some kind of philosophical level, it seems right to me that the public would sign up to fight wars that they support.  And so this war is increasingly unpopular with the public. 

MADDOW:  That‘s right.

CARLSON:  And it just makes sense that recruiting is falling off.  In other words, our foreign policy may be driven by public opinion through the recruiting system, if you see what I mean.

MADDOW:  Well, and yes, it‘s interesting.  I mean, 6 in 10, nearly 6 in 10, Americans want our troops in Iraq, the troop strength either reduced or want people brought home immediately.  I mean, Americans are increasingly turning against this war. 

But Biden‘s talking about something important, which is that you can‘t continue to have recruiting shortfalls month, after month, after month, and still say we‘re maintaining military readiness.  We‘re overextended, and we need to start talking about that as a consequence of our foreign policy.

SEVERIN:  There is one legitimate need of a draft.  If there is a Bush doctrine, if we are really are engaged for a long time in a war against terror, and we really do have to locate, identify, eradicate terrorists, no matter where they are all over the world, which is what I think the president of the United States said, we‘re going to need draft everyone between the age of 4 and 90.  Everyone will be in uniform. 

And I don‘t think that‘s going to happen.  The illegitimate part of the draft is when you fight a war like Iraq, where you go for what I thought was a good initial reason, but then you stay for seven or eight subsequent lousy, stinky reasons, and the hand that rocks the cradle is telling their kids, “Don‘t go.” 

And you know, that‘s one of the things about the hyper media coverage of this.  This became Vietnam zero to 60 in a year and a half, instead of over 10 years.  People are looking at these deaths and saying, “Not my kid.” 

CARLSON:  Right.  You do feel sorry for the guys who are there, though. 

SEVERIN:  Absolutely.  They are heroes. 

CARLSON:  You hope they don‘t feel abandoned.  That‘s right.

Well, new situation, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has made a ton of money.  Make that a boat-load of money.  However, Jobs took a strange road to achieving billionaire status. 

While giving a commencement address at Stanford University, Jobs told the graduates that dropping out of college, one of the best decisions he ever made, because it forced him to innovate.  Hence, the iPod.  I love this. 

He is one of many accomplished Americans—many, many, many who never graduated from college, Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, Alexander Graham Bell.  But the point is, most people, or certainly a lot of people, definitely including me, probably shouldn‘t have gone to college, actually. 

Probably better off—you know, restless people who want to work, better off at an internship, an apprenticeship.  I mean, college for a lot of people is a huge waste of time.  It‘s a huge expense.  End up getting drunk and not knowing what to do, you go to law school and become a lawyer, thereby making America less great, in my view.  Too much college.

SEVERIN:  I didn‘t realize you were doing my bio in this segment. 


Staying in for as long as possible, because I had no idea what I wanted to do or was supposed to be, the extended adolescence of staying in school as long as it was feasible was the greatest blessing of my life.  To try and figure out what I maybe wanted to be if I ever grew up.  So small world.  He dropped out, I stayed in.  But he made billions.  And I haven‘t yet.

MADDOW:  But you believe his point. 

SEVERIN:  I believe his point.

MADDOW:  I mean, I think the innovation thing is important.  The most boring people that I know are the—and the most unhappy people that I know are the people who decided what they were going to do at 18 or before, did it, and succeeded at it. 

SEVERIN:  That‘s exactly right.  That‘s exactly right.

MADDOW:  So they never faced the crisis of failure to do something... 


CARLSON:  I should point out...

SEVERIN:  Six out of 10 lawyers—seven out of 10 lawyers want to kill themselves rather than go to the firm again the next day. 

CARLSON:  That‘s true.


CARLSON:  And as a programming note, I just realized that you are, in fact, a Rhodes scholar with a PhD from Oxford.  So sorry to beat up on college, friend.

MADDOW:  Sorry about that.  Yes.

CARLSON:  Well, next situation, a likely sexual harassment suit in Reno, Nevada.  Charles Stricker, Jr., works for the University of Nevada‘s buildings and grounds department.  He says he was wrongly subjected to pornography around the university‘s locksmith shop.  No surprise there.  There were pinup calendars and a naughty screen saver. 

Those complaints led to the removal of the lurid material.  He says he has been treated differently in the workplace ever after.  Needless to say, he wants a ton of money. 

I‘m just going to boil it right down.  If you‘re a man claiming sexual harassment, you better have a pretty good story.  And this guy doesn‘t.  I have pure contempt for him.

MADDOW:  This is not—he‘s not saying that his supervisor was hitting on him.  He is saying they put porn on my screensaver and in my work space, and they‘ve been treating me differently since I said I didn‘t want it.  You shouldn‘t have to watch porn to do your job, even if you‘re a boy. 

CARLSON:  Oh, toughen up, son.  You know what I mean?  Just erase it. 

MADDOW:  Listen, he doesn‘t want to see it.  He shouldn‘t have to. 

SEVERIN:  I‘m shocked—I‘m shocked—that in a locksmith there might be some nudies.  Look, if that‘s workplace harassment, you guys have to see me put on makeup here every night.  You have got a suit right now.  This guy ought to shut up, and stop whining, and make locks, or pick locks, or do whatever he does. 

MADDOW:  I think this guy is—I think, if this guy were a woman, you would have no problem with it.  And I think all of this macho chest-beating about, “Guys ought to be able to stand porn is kind of creepy.” 

CARLSON:  Yes.  No, no, you are absolutely right.  Guys ought to be able to stand a pornographic screensaver.  Sorry.


CARLSON:  Sorry.  And women different. 

Next situation, speeding.  Today, the Governor‘s Highway Safety Association—yes, there is such a group—told us something we already know, that cops give up to a 10-mile-an-hour cushion above the posted speed limit before they pull us over.  The association‘s chairman says law enforcement needs to be given political will to start cracking down, tickets for 56 miles-per-hour, in other words. 

This has got to be one of the worst developments I think I‘ve ever heard.  They argue, I think correctly, that a higher speed limit means more people die.  That‘s true.  It also means you get home faster, which makes your life better. 

So it‘s an argument between longevity, length of life and quality of life.  I would rather live to 75, rather than 78, and get home to see my kids. 

MADDOW:  See, I think this is a—the point of this case is whether the argument about these things happens in the private or in public.  Because when speed limits go up, highway deaths go up.  And so they are saying, “Listen.  The highway patrol has made this decision to let speed limits go up.  And we all want higher speed limits, so that‘s OK.  We don‘t want tickets for 56.” 

But the Governors Association is saying, “We would like this debate to happen in public rather than happening in private at the highway patrol.  We should make a decision about what we want the highway speed limit to be.” 

SEVERIN:  I dissent from Sister Justice Maddow on this, respectfully.  I want the speed limit low because drivers are spastic, especially around Boston.  Sorry.


SEVERIN:  And they are out to kill me.  And I‘m a big libertarian.  I want the speed limit 10 miles-an-hour.  That‘s as prepared as I was, because I thought my notes—I misread them.  I apologize.  I thought there was tickets for Speedos. 

CARLSON:  Which actually is a great idea.  That‘s if they kicked in to 56. 

I can‘t keep up.  That‘s too clever. 

Next situation, eviction.  Eight-three-year-old Betty Dick lives in a house 70 miles outside Denver, Colorado.  It‘s about four miles inside the confines of Rocky Mountain National Park.  Her late husband cut a deal with the federal government for a lease on the land.  That lease expires July 16th

The Department of Interior wants her out by that date saying a precedent would hurt others in such cases.  Only an act of Congress can extend her lease and save her home. 

You know, this is a cultural divide.  The Interior Department doesn‘t want anybody living in a national park, because Patagonia-clad yuppies don‘t want people around national parks because it‘s—it‘s true—it‘s like they don‘t want snowmobiles in national parks because they‘re icky and lower-middle-class people drive them. 

They don‘t want this poor old lady there because it spoils the view.  It‘s a public park.  It‘s public land.  And I think the public has a right to use it. 

MADDOW:  Well, the public has a right to use it as their second home because of a lease that expired?  I mean, then I‘m not sure you‘re in the common wisdom territory. 

The thing about this case is that they want to avoid a precedent of saying, “After your lease expires, you can stay, no matter who you are.”  And so they want an act of Congress.  They want a Schiavo bill for this woman.  They want an explicit exception that says, “This won‘t set a precedent.”  I don‘t have a problem with that. 

SEVERIN:  And if we want to change our names to like Rainbow and Starflower, and have communes, this is what they are fighting.  They don‘t want the hippies to move back in on federal land. 

MADDOW:  It‘s the hippies.

SEVERIN:  If you took 20 -- if you change the 83-years-old to 23-years-old, no issue.  What, contracts are not enforceable with the elderly?  Come on, move on. 

MADDOW:  I say free Betty Dick. 

CARLSON:  Rachel Maddow, Jay Severin, excellent. 

MADDOW:  Good talk.  Thanks

SEVERIN:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  You‘ll be back many times. 

Coming up, shocked by the Jackson verdict?  Will the pop star ever rock with you again or should he just beat it?  Oh, the bad puns.  We have many more.  We‘ll ask a cable news outsider what he thinks, next.

Also, Christina Aguilera has a pretty nice voice, but why were songs chosen to torture prisoners at Gitmo?  Did the government forget about Yoko Ono? That would be torture.  The answer ahead.


CARLSON:  Welcome back to the show.  It‘s time now to introduce our nightly outsider, someone from outside the cable news world who disagrees with me, or, in other words, bravely defends the indefensible. 

To discuss Michael Jackson and more, I am pleased to welcome sports pundit and ESPN radio host Max Kellerman. 

Welcome, Max.

MAX KELLERMAN, ESPN RADIO HOST:  How you doing, Tucker?  Thank you. 

Thank you very much. 

CARLSON:  So the thriller is over.  Michael Jackson found not guilty on all 10 counts of molesting a 13-year-old cancer survivor at his Neverland Ranch.  Even after the prosecution presented evidence and witnesses that displayed Jackson as a creepy pervert who preyed on little boys, he leaves the courthouse scot-free. 

Max, I am completely shocked by this verdict.  I sat there agog in my chair in my office this afternoon watching this.  Here is a guy who admitted that he sleeps with children.  All sorts of household staff who have worked for him for a long time said, “Yes, he molested the kids.  He gives them alcohol.” 

And then you have a mostly white jury—the dreaded all-white jury—who we know for certain loves nothing more than...


KELLERMAN:  You were banking on that all-white jury!

CARLSON:  No, I‘m serious.

KELLERMAN:  You were banking on that all-white jury, weren‘t you, Tucker?

CARLSON:  That‘s ridiculous.  My point is, it seemed for certain that he was going to be convicted.  This is shocking. 

KELLERMAN:  Well, I don‘t—I‘m shocked that everyone‘s shocked, the fact that everyone is so shocked.  I‘m at ESPN Radio in New York.  WABC Sean Hannity does his show out of there.  And oh, everyone‘s staff is gathered around looking at this supposed news story, which is hardly even a news story at all. 

I mean, it‘s not hard news.  It‘s salacious.  It‘s sensational journalism.  And everyone‘s so upset at the verdict.  Why?  We weren‘t in court.  We don‘t know what the jury was thinking.  Look, the bottom line about Michael Jackson is...


CARLSON:  That‘s completely not—wait a minute, but hold on.  This is not a complicated—this was not a complicated trial that turned on esoteric scientific evidence.  To repeat, he said—he told the world on ABC primetime television, “Yes, I sleep with children.” 

KELLERMAN:  OK, let me ask you something.  What kind of pedophilic projection is this that people make on Michael Jackson?  You mean to tell me that when people hear that a guy is sleeping in the bed with a 14-year-old boy, what‘s going through their mind, “Who could possibly resist a luscious 14-year-old boy?”

I mean, what? 

CARLSON:  Max, Max...


CARLSON:  Let me let you in on something...

KELLERMAN:  ... boy is the last thing I would be thinking is molesting them. 

CARLSON:  Well, if you had organized your life around the activity of sleeping with 14-year-old boys, if you had built a theme park in your backyard, if you had essentially given up all productive work to invite 14-year-old boys over, solely for the purpose of getting them into bed with you, I think that would suggest a sexual attraction of 14-year-old boys.  I don‘t think it‘s a stretch. 

KELLERMAN:  Maybe, but the jury didn‘t. 

Look, what this really is about, just like O.J. Simpson, just like all celebrity trials, is money.  You know, if those who are accused had matching funds for the government, there would be far fewer convictions. 

For instance, right now I‘m an expert witness at a trial, in an ongoing trial.  I can‘t even explain to you—I‘m making more money today working on that trial than I am coming here and appearing on national television.  Now, poor people can‘t afford me to trot out expert witnesses to trot out.  Rich people can, so rich people get justice and poor people don‘t. 

Michael Jackson...


CARLSON:  But wait a second.  Wait a second.  It‘s a well-known fact - a well-known fact—that ordinary people resent the heck out of rich celebrities.  Why should he have, you know, a Ferris wheel in his backyard?  Why should he have a chimp waiting on him like a waiter?  Why should he be able to afford the Elephant Man‘s remains, right?  They‘re resentful.

KELLERMAN:  I have a friend who is a defense attorney, Nick Kahn (ph).  This guy is a great—he preps juries this way.  He says, “Look, if I were to tell you right now, ‘Vote guilty or not guilty right now,‘ what would you vote?” And the jury usually says—the members of the jury usually say, “I don‘t know.  What are the facts?” 

Wrong.  If you are to vote with no facts, you must necessarily vote not guilty because there is a presumption of innocence.  Clearly, the prosecution didn‘t prove their case.  It‘s not Michael Jackson‘s job to prove that he‘s innocent. 

CARLSON:  I feel like, as I often do, that I must be living in a separate country. 

But will that 3-year-old kid bullying your child—I want you to consider this one—turn out to be a career criminal?  A government report leaked in Great Britain recommends that nursery schools star targeting kids that age, at three, as potential criminals.  The study warned that kids who were not under control by that age were four times as likely to be convicted of a violent offense when they grow up.  The purpose of the report requested by Prime Minister Tony Blair was to identify ways to cut crime by 2008. 

You know, I don‘t think, Max, I‘ve read a story in a long time I found as creepy as this one.  The government of Great Britain is apparently asking kindergarten, nursery school teachers to act as shrinks and cops, and determine which kids, the kids, needless to say, are acting up, are going to grow up to become rapists or armed robbers.  They‘re totally unqualified to do that, and it‘s just wrong to classify kids that way. 

KELLERMAN:  You‘re going to get kicked out of the Republican Party with talk like that, Tucker.  Really what they‘re—it‘s separate but equal.  No, really, what‘s going on here—I essentially agree with you.  I‘m going to play devil‘s advocate, though, because there is a good case to be made here.

CARLSON:  There is no case to be made.  But try it.  Try it out on me. 

KELLERMAN:  Here‘s the case.  If, in fact, it is—there is a high correlation between certain behavior at the age of 3 and criminal activity later in life, who are you really helping by trying to find these kids?  Yes, society at large, there is a cost benefit from prevention of crime, but really it‘s the kid who‘s going to turn out to be a criminal.  You‘re not discriminating against that kid.  You are assisting that kid.  Because a life of crime is no life, Tucker. 


CARLSON:  We‘re from the government.  We‘re here to help you.

Now, there are two problems with this.  One, you have to believe, you are required as a human to believe that all 3-year-olds are capable of change.  No matter how horrible a 3-year-old may be, no matter how many times he throws his juice box against the refrigerator, you got to believe in your soul this kid can grow up to be a decent person, despite all the evidence, a. 

B, you definitely don‘t want government classifying children as winners or losers.  That‘s what they do in North Korea.  It‘s bureaucracy gone completely insane. 

And c, this is another manifestation of the hostility many on the left feel toward male aggression in children.  If kids, little boys are boisterous, ooh, that‘s wrong.  It‘s criminal. 


CARLSON:  Yes, it‘s true. 

KELLERMAN:  All right, I deserved that for the Republican shot I took at you before.  Look, I know it‘s a slippery, Orwellian slope.  But you know what you do, on the slipper slope?  You dig in your heels. 

You like that?  You dig in your heels if it‘s a slippery slope.  And you say, “We‘re not going to single these kids out to hurt them.  We‘re going to single them out to help them.”  It‘s like Head Start.  It‘s like any other program where you try to identify things early. 


CARLSON:  It‘s like Head Start.  On that high note—you know, you may have defended the indefensible, but nobody does it better than you do. 

KELLERMAN:  Thank you very much.  I don‘t believe what I just said.  I believed the first argument about Michael Jackson.

CARLSON:  You said it impressively.  Max Kellerman, thanks. 

Still ahead, why did hundreds of Britons bear their sun-deprived—pasty, sun-deprived bodies in a naked bike rally?  They better have a pretty good reason.  We‘ll find out next, on the cutting-room floor.


CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Time now to sweep up the cutting room floor. 

Our producer, Willie Geist, has collected the very best of the stories that didn‘t make the cut tonight.  He‘s kept them hidden from me until this very moment—Willie?

GEIST: :  I like to keep you in the dark at all times, Tucker.  A good first effort, good first show.  So good, we may even try to do it again tomorrow.

CARLSON:  Outstanding.

GEIST:   I‘ve got sheep shearing and naked cyclists. 

CARLSON:  Oh, I literally can‘t wait. 

GEIST:   Take it away.

CARLSON:  Thank you. 

The world learned Michael Jackson‘s fate this afternoon, but you would have known it long ago had you been wise enough to bid for this piece of toast on eBay.  The toast was photographed on May 5th for verification.  And it eerily foretells the verdict in the Michael Jackson trial, with the words “Jacko not guilty.” 

GEIST:   The guy got it right.  What are you going to do?  When are we going to stop mocking these people and listening to people who see things in breakfast foods? 

CARLSON:  Listen to the toast.

GEIST:   The Virgin Mary, the runaway bride, listen to the toast.  That‘s exactly right. 

CARLSON:  A new “Time” magazine article details some of the alleged interrogation techniques used at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  Perhaps the most bizarre is the use of Christina Aguilera‘s music as torture.  The pop tart‘s tunes were allegedly used on Gitmo prisoners as a means of sleep deprivation, ironic, considering Christina‘s glorious voice sings me to sleep each and every night. 

GEIST:   I had no idea you were a Christina guy.

CARLSON:  Huge.  Huge.

GEIST:  I pegged you for a Britney guy.

They‘ve got this wrong.  She has a good voice.  I‘m starting to question the military‘s taste in music.  They send Wayne Newton to entertain the troops? 

CARLSON:  No, I like Wayne Newton.  I‘m going to always defend Wayne Newton.

GEIST:   No, no, no.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  Christina Aguilera entertains, Wayne Newton tortures.  They just have it flip-flopped, that‘s all. 

CARLSON:  I cannot let that—I can‘t let that pass. 

GEIST:   We‘ll talk after the show.  That‘s not acceptable, Wayne Newton. 

CARLSON:  And now for some nude cycling, a segment we hope to repeat every night.  About 100 naked cyclists took part in a protest this afternoon.  They rode past the American embassy in London to protest the West‘s dependence on gas-guzzling cars.  The World Naked Bike Ride of 2005 feature protesters from around the world riding in the buff, ostensibly to change our minds about using oil. 

GEIST:   I get the bikes, I guess, like don‘t use things that use gas and motors, but why are they nude?  Like, what‘s the point of being nude? 

CARLSON:  There‘s a certain appeal.  I take them more seriously. 

GEIST:   I don‘t know.  It seems a bit more gratuitous to me.  It doesn‘t mean I don‘t like it.

CARLSON:  They wouldn‘t be on our show if they had their clothes on, Willie. 

Let‘s hope Indonesian President Susilo Yudhoyono has nights and weekends free on his cell-phone plan.  The president gave out his number on Saturday to a group of farmers and fishermen and told them he wanted to hear their concerns.  Unfortunately for him, his meeting with the group was broadcast live and he received about 3,000 calls by Sunday. 

GEIST:   Totally admire the guy‘s populist sentiment.  But, dude, you‘re the president.  Keep it unlisted, boss. 

CARLSON:  I totally agree with that.  There‘s something unseemly about that, even in Indonesia. 

All right.  Time now for you‘re nightly sheep-shearing update.  More than 200 of the world‘s best wool-handlers gathered in Australia this Sunday for the 2005 Golden Shears World Championships.  Representatives of 17 countries buzzed their way through nearly 3,000 sheep before an Aussie claimed the prestigious Golden Shears Trophy. 

GEIST:   I follow sheep shearing pretty closely.  I don‘t know if you know that about me. 

CARLSON:  No, I had no idea.  I believe it, though. 

GEIST:   There‘s something uncomfortable about.  When they hold them down, I know they‘re not hurting the animal, but there‘s something nonconsensual about it. 

CARLSON:  I agree with that.

GEIST:   You know what I mean?

CARLSON:  Illegal in many states, by the way.

GEIST:   A little creepy.

CARLSON:  Apparently not in Australia.

Well, chocolate never goes out of style, as far as I‘m concerned, but it‘s especially hot in China these days.  The French embassy in Beijing sponsored a fashion show over the weekend featuring the latest trends in a confectionary couture.  The French are trying to get the Chinese to eat more chocolate, and they thought lathering it on supermodels might be a good start.  And you know, I agree with them. 

GEIST:  I love that they have to be convinced to eat chocolate.  We sort of have the opposite problem, here, right?  We need models dressed in fruit salad and, you know, low-fat yogurt or something. 

CARLSON:  That is such an excellent point. 

GEIST:  Well, I thought so.  That‘s why I brought it up.

CARLSON:  They‘ve got a lot to learn, the Chinese

Willie Geist.

That‘s THE SITUATION.  I‘m Tucker Carlson.  See you tomorrow night.


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