Guest: Jay Wolfson, David Gibbs, Brian Oxman, Mary Carey
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Case closed. The Schiavo autopsy report, no evidence she was injured nor drugged, or her brain was half its normal size and would not have healed. And she was blind. We will be joined by Terri Schiavo‘s only state-appointed guardian and by the attorney for her parents.
I grabbed my dog, my computer, and some underwear. Tsunami warning off the coast of northern California. Panic, yes. Tsunami, no.
The return of the Jackson Five to TV? Not cartoons this time, but a reality series? We‘ll be joined by a Jackson family attorney.
And by the Republican who was mentioned second in “The Washington Post”‘s account of that big Republican fundraiser. First, they mentioned this president guy. Then they mentioned Mary Carey (ph). She will be here, and so will Mary Carey Puppet Theater.
All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.
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MARY CAREY: I love President Bush, so...
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OLBERMANN: Good evening.
The autopsy of Terri Schiavo is complete. She was in, and had been in, a persistent vegetative state. She had massive and irreversible brain damage. She was blind. She was not looking at people from her hospital bed. She was examined for cervical spine damage an hour after her collapse in 1990. None was found. There was also no evidence of her having been mistreated in any way. No drugs and no heart attack.
Her brain was about half normal size. And once her feeding tube had been removed, she would not have been able to survive even if she had been given water or food.
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, her husband, Michael Schiavo, vindicated today by the medical examiner Pinellas County, Florida, and a neuropathologist brought in to consult on that autopsy.
And if you do not believe those doctors, you have to be willing to believe that they would be willing to lose their licenses and jobs if they were proved to be incorrect.
Terri Schiavo‘s parents apparently believe something like that. Their attorney, who will join us in a moment, says that say Bob and Mary Schindler want to discuss the autopsy with other medical authorities and may sue in some way again over something.
Her only state-appointed guardian will also join us shortly. And as we said, her parents‘ attorney, Mr. Gibbs, will.
First the medical examiner, the coroner, Dr. Jon Thogmartin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON THOGMARTIN, SCHIAVO MEDICAL EXAMINER: Her brain was profoundly atrophied. The brain weighed 615 grams, roughly half of the expected weight of a human brain. This damage was irreversible, and no amount of therapy or treatment would have regenerated the massive loss of neurons.
Her vision centers of her brain were dead. Therefore, Mrs. Terri Schiavo had what‘s called cortical blindness. She was blind, could not see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: In the battle over Terri Schiavo, only one person has been able to say at all times they were acting solely for her, not for her husband nor her parents, not for any attorneys, not for any special interest groups, but only for her. That person was Jay Wolfson. He served as the guardian ad litem, or guardian at law, for Mrs. Schiavo in the fall of 2003. Today he‘s a professor of medicine and public health at the University of South Florida in Tampa, where he has been kind enough to join us from now.
Thank you again for your time tonight.
JAY WOLFSON, TERRI SCHIAVO‘S FORMER GUARDIAN: It‘s good to be with you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Were the conclusions reached today consistent with the conclusions that you reached after spending the time that you did with Mrs. Schiavo?
WOLFSON: Yes, they were.
OLBERMANN: Did that one thing that was said in there that surprised a lot of people, did it surprise you to hear Dr. Thogmartin‘s conclusions that Mrs. Schiavo was blind?
WOLFSON: No, it didn‘t, Keith. The research that we did and the consulting that I had available to me from a neurologist and opthalmologist, and neuropathologists around the country indicated that based on the clinical data that were available at the time, that the brain damage was sufficiently profound that she could very well have been blind.
There were no surprises, and I was kind of glad, in some respects, that there were no surprises relating to her trauma, that there were no indications that she had been abused.
I think in more than anything else, this helps us to do what we tried to do earlier on, take the good science and the good medicine within the construct of Florida law and put it in one place very cogently. Dr. Thogmartin is incredibly thorough, very detailed, very competent, very meticulous, and very conservative.
And what this report does is, it helps us, I think, say we‘ve learned as much as we can learn. We‘ve learned as much about this tragic case, clinically, medically, scientifically, and legally, and it closes the door.
This autopsy did not have to be performed. Michael agreed to have it performed. There were no criminal charges pending. There were no suspicious causes of death. By allowing it to be done, I think Michael has helped all of us to put some closure on this.
And I‘m hoping, despite the pain and the anxiety and the frustration, I know the Schindlers are, as you‘ve heard me say before, they‘re wonderful, loving, caring people, and the pain of this experience is something that can be taken, never be taken away.
But maybe we can all move on. Maybe, hopefully, they can move on, Michael can move on, and we can learn a lesson from Terri about the level of personal responsibility we have to take. Had Terri and Michael executed living wills and health care surrogates, this would never have happened. Each one of us must do this.
But beyond that, as well, Terri may have helped us to start asking some questions that even Congress is asking now about the allocation of very scarce and challenging resources in our society, in Medicare and Social Security. These are questions all of us have to ask as a community.
OLBERMANN: I don‘t have to tell you, of all people, that this is a story that people feel, rather than hear. But based on your experience with Mrs. Schiavo, explain in some brief fashion, as best as you can, how the conclusions of the autopsy could be seemingly so different than what is suggested by that videotape that we have all seen endlessly.
WOLFSON: That‘s a tough—that‘s a good question, Keith. You know, there were instances where you see her looking up and responding to her mother, and Mary is a saint. She‘s a wonderful person. But those little clips are small, minute segments of a longer videotape. And when I was in the room with her holding her hand and holding her head and watching her for hours at a time, I would often observe her making some of those same kinds of movements whether I was standing at the foot of the bed, behind the bed, at the doorway.
And if you look at the three- or four-hour video clip that‘s available, much of it is her not doing anything. It‘s not responding.
And, you know, again, it is so horribly tragic and sad, because parents and family and all of us want to have hope. We want to believe that something is possible, that there‘s an opportunity to create some life, some opportunity for someone we love. And it‘s difficult to imagine that there is no hope.
OLBERMANN: The one argument against this being case closed that has already been made, obviously, will be continue to be made, that nothing in an autopsy talks about the will to live, or alternatively, a choice to end one‘s life. From your former position on Mrs. Schiavo‘s behalf, what would an autopsy of Terri Schiavo‘s opinion on right to live, right to die, what would that be like?
WOLFSON: Wow. Trying to get into Terri‘s heart and soul on what her beliefs might have been with that are very difficult. I think we have to go with, again, as Justice Rehnquist said in the Cruzan case, the best law we have available, and using the best medicine and the best science.
If we were in Missouri, New Jersey, or New York, Terri would still be alive, because those states have different laws about guardianship, about decisions concerning termination of life. Florida, as the majority of states, now include provisions where you can have different decisions made by other people. And the law was followed. The medicine was good.
I just hope Terri‘s in peace, and I pray that the families can move forward, and that we all have something we can really learn about this.
OLBERMANN: Jay Wolfson, the informer guardian ad litem to the late Mrs. Terri Schiavo, now a professor at the University of South Florida, once again, sir, our thanks for your time.
WOLFSON: My pleasure. Thank you.
OLBERMANN: The pure medicine of the thing seems incontrovertible. The problem with that, of course, is, it contradicts everything Terri Schiavo‘s parents believed and hoped. Their attorney joins us in a moment.
First, that belief was not just limited to the family. Obviously, many American political leaders believed it too, and went way out on a limb to say so.
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REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: Terri Schiavo is alive. She‘s not just barely alive. She‘s not being kept alive. She is alive as you and I.
REP. ROY BLUNT ®, MAJORITY WHIP: It‘s clear from watching the tapes of Terri Schiavo that she interacts with people. She‘s aware of her surroundings. She attempts to communicate.
BARBARA WELLER, ATTORNEY FOR SCHIAVO‘S PARENTS: I said, Terri, can you just, like, try and say, I want to live? And Terri said, Ahhhhh. And then she screamed, Waaah!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) guess what? (INAUDIBLE)...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No no, no no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE), actually, you feel like going for a ride.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And she had a big smile.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I said, You‘re going to go for a ride in a little while. And she got a big smile on her face.
GOV. JEB BUSH ®, FLORIDA: The neurologist‘s view—review indicates that Terri may have been misdiagnosed, and it is more likely that she is in a state of minimal consciousness, rather than in a state of—in a persistent vegetative state.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is very much alert. She‘s very much alive. As soon as we get into the room with her, she begins immediately to communicate with us. We have doctors that believe she can be helped if she‘s given proper rehabilitation and therapy. And we just can‘t believe that she is being starved to death...
SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TN), MAJORITY LEADER: And from my standpoint as a physician, I would be very careful before I would come to the floor and say this, that the facts upon which this case were based are inadequate. I‘ve looked at the video footage. Based on the footage provided me, which were part of the facts of the case, she does respond.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
OLBERMANN: And there was one more statement from the attorney for Terri Schiavo‘s parents, Bob and Mary Schindler. On this network, three months ago this Saturday, David Gibbs III told Chris Matthews, quote, “We had 33 medical professionals, 10 neurologists, that came forward and said she can be taught to speak. She is swallowing, she is functioning well. She acts, candidly, like a 6- to 10-month-old child. She smiles, she shows emotion, she recognizes her mother.”
The gentleman who said that, David Gibbs, joins us now.
Mr. Gibbs, good evening. Thank you for your time.
DAVID GIBBS III, ATTORNEY FOR TERRI SCHIAVO‘S PARENTS: Delighted to be with you this evening.
OLBERMANN: Firstly, those comments of yours, from three months ago, the forensic pathologist said today that Mrs. Schiavo—and let me quote him directly—“would not have been able to form any cognitive thought, meaning no thinking, no emotion, no recognition of people. She couldn‘t have swallowed, and she was blind.” Are they wrong? Are they lying?
GIBBS: Well, no, clearly the medical examiner took a corpse and did a review to the best of their ability. And while I was there, and he provided his report publicly, he said it is impossible, looking at a dead body, to know for sure whether they were in PVS or whether they were minimally conscious. And the one medical examiner said clearly, We don‘t know, looking at a dead brain, what level of consciousness was there.
But clearly, Keith, I think the point is well taken. We knew ahead of the autopsy that Terri was brain-injured. We understood that. And now after the autopsy, we‘re realizing that she may have been more brain-injured than we thought.
But I think one of the important issues, as we look at maybe the moral and legal ramifications of Terri‘s life and death, is, the independent medical examiner said Terri was not terminal. She would have lived, in his opinion, at least another 10 years. And we allowed her to die on a quality-of-life analysis.
And I believe it was barbaric to take away water, even though Terri was brain-injured, even though she was disabled. I believe she was a person that had great worth. She was a person that was loved by her family.
And I think the troubling question about this case is not the quality of Terri‘s life, but the fact that we, in a way, barbarically ended her life.
OLBERMANN: But your argument in March was not that she could have lived longer, or that she was not terminal, but your argument clearly, from that statement, was that she could be taught to speak, that, in essence, she could get better. That‘s a—those are two different things, are they not?
GIBBS: Well, no question. We were in court, and we were having to raise all of the possible defenses to defend her life. The court had already made the decision that Michael Schiavo could have her life ended through the dehydration and starvation. We had a number of doctors, neurologists and others, including Dr. Cheshire, who saw her alive just weeks before she died, who said she‘s at least minimally conscious.
And we relied on those doctors. We now have the medical examiners looking at her corpse, and they‘re raising questions.
But I think the important issue is, we want to learn the lessons from Terri‘s case, is, as a nation, are we going to say blind people can be starved to death? I would hope not. Are we going to say the disabled don‘t get the same rights as the able-bodied? Is quality of life the new analysis to decide whether a man or woman is put to death?
And I would hope, as America, that we look at these states, and as a nation, we say, we indeed want to protect innocent life. You can‘t starve a dog to death. Why in the world, with a family wanting to take care of Terri, would we allow her to die like we did?
OLBERMANN: You said in the statement on March 18 that she had recognized her mother. How did you mean that?
GIBBS: When Terri would see her mother—and again, the doctor is saying that she may not have been able to see—when she would hear, smell, or sense her mother, she would laugh, she would squeal. And when her mother left, she would cry. And I watched that dozens of time. And I believe, from my own personal observations, that Terri in her disabled state, somehow recognized her mother.
And I watched that so many times. I have no doubt. Dr. Thogmartin, who looked at her dead body, said no question, her brain was severely injured. And again, we knew she was brain-injured. But as we look at this issue, I believe Terri Schiavo was a life that was worth living. And with a family wanting to care for her, to me, the troubling question is, how would Terri Schiavo, as a human being, face a fate that would be criminal in the state of Florida if done to an animal?
OLBERMANN: Lastly, are your clients still convinced that Michael Schiavo somehow caused their daughter‘s condition? And you had said earlier today they might be contemplating further legal action. What could that be?
GIBBS: Well, at this point, the family is wanting to understand what happened. Dr. Thogmartin ruled out a heart attack. He ruled out bulimia. And there‘s now this time discrepancy. Michael Schiavo told the medical examiner Terri collapsed at 4:30. Nine-one-one wasn‘t called until 5:40. We‘d like to hear what happened in those 70 minutes.
And so as we look at this case, there‘s still many unanswered questions, how Terri ended up in her condition.
OLBERMANN: David Gibbs, the attorney for the Schindler family, thanks for being with us tonight.
GIBBS: Thank you, sir.
OLBERMANN: Also tonight, an awful word invoked along the West Coast, tsunami. The warning went out, and the residents went south.
It was a documentary that helped get Michael Jackson in trouble in the first place. So now the Jacksons might want their own reality TV series? We will talk to that family‘s lawyer.
You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: For most of us, last Christmas may seem as distant a part of the past as Thanksgiving 1992. But in Sri Lanka, six months after the tsunami that devastated that island, the coalition government may have collapsed because some of the parties supporting it cannot abide the idea of relief money being given to the Tamil Tiger rebels who control parts of their island nation.
And the word “tsunami” is on the lips of people a lot closer to home.
Try in Oregon.
Our number four story on the COUNTDOWN, a huge underwater earthquake off the California coast last night. And as our correspondent James Hattori reports, all of a sudden, Crescent City, California, seemed a lot closer to Colombo, Sri Lanka.
JAMES HATTORI, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Uncertainty and fear washed across West Coast beaches last night, on the Oregon coast.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ocean flooding of all the beach.
HATTORI: Even in the dark, along Southern California, when the tsunami warning went out.
It was triggered by a major earthquake measuring 7.2 90 miles off the northern California coast, one of three significant quakes with tsunami potential over the last three days. Scientists say they simply don‘t know if they‘re linked.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tsunami is coming. You better get out.
HATTORI: Jao Jing Yuan (ph) went door to door, alerting guests at his oceanfront hotel in Crescent City.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of the people still want to get their stuff out, said, No, should just get out. Don‘t take anything of your luggage. Just get out.
HATTORI: Just an hour hear, officials canceled the warning, after experts determined the quake didn‘t have the vertical push to form a tsunami.
BRIAN ATWATER, LSGS GEOLOGIST: The earthquake moved the sea floor side to side but did not move it upwards.
HATTORI: The news of a tsunami also brought out the curious and the foolhardy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Toms, Toms, yes.
HATTORI (on camera): For many, the threat came and went unnoticed. But not here in Crescent City, a community that knows firsthand the awesome power that a tsunami can unleash.
BILL PARKER, FORMER CRESCENT CITY CIVIL DEFENSE DIRECTOR: And Crescent City‘s gone, and that‘s the way it looked. It was just one pile of debris.
HATTORI (voice-over): This was the city in 1964, 29 blocks destroyed, 11 people killed, after the only known deadly tsunami to hit U.S. shores.
Bill Parker was civil defense director back then.
PARKER: There‘s only one solution, which some people don‘t face up to. And that‘s evacuate. That‘s the only way to beat a tsunami, get out.
HATTORI: Forty-one years later, local officials this morning assessed how they did.
DEAN WILSON, DEL NORTE COUNTY SHERIFF: Within 20 minutes, we were able to move approximately 4,000 people out of the low-lying areas and up to safe ground. So it did work well.
HATTORI: But next time, may not work out so well. And with an offshore fault looming bigger than the San Andreas, scientists say there will be a next time.
James Hattori, NBC News, Crescent City, California.
OLBERMANN: And different kind of emergency unfolding tonight in Yuma, Arizona. Residence being evacuated there after a Marine Corps Harrier jet carrying four 500-pound bombs and 300 rounds of 20-millimeter ammunition crashed in somebody‘s back yard. This was supposed to be a routine training run. Nothing routine about it. The pilot ejected safely, but they‘ve evacuated a square mile around the crash site. And there‘s a hazmat team on the scene.
No hazmat teams needed here, unless this thing were to go berserk.
When robots attack. But only when there‘s a stiff breeze.
And the Grand Old Party. It let Mary Carey into the presidential fundraiser last night but did not exactly roll out the red carpet for her. We‘ll have puppets, and Mary Carey herself.
OLBERMANN: We‘re back, and once again we pause our COUNTDOWN of the day‘s important stuff for a brief segment of the news you can‘t use.
Let‘s play Oddball.
We begin in the Netherlands with Strand Beast. It‘s the world‘s first robot made out of wicker. All right, they call it a robot. It‘s more like a walking kite. It‘s actually made from light plastic tubes. It‘s able to store up wind power in big bottles. That enables it to walk on its own indefinitely.
Dutch scientist Theo Johnson has spent more than a decade building an army of Strand Beasts, apparently planning to take over the Netherlands, then invade the rest of Western Europe, and then the world. Or, maybe he just likes arts and crafts. Can we really afford to wait around to find out? Let‘s call the European Union for help. Oh, no, that‘s right, the Dutch voted against the European constitution. So what they would be here would be screwed.
To Washington state, what‘s new, pussycat? Whoa-oh-whoa-whoa -- Help me! Stop singing, and help me! It appears that curiosity clawed the cat in this hunk of pipe in Spokane for more than two hours yesterday. This has nothing to do with that mayor guy there. Rescuers first tried to cut the pipe off, then they decided to grease up the cat with Crisco, and the little fellow popped right out. And that has nothing to do with that mayor guy either.
Finally, to Six Flags Amusement Park in Jackson, New Jersey, where King Daka (ph), the world‘s tallest, the world‘s fastest roller coaster has been shut down, out of commission for the foreseeable future, until officials can figure out why hunks of the things have been falling off.
Jeez. You know, if we had thought even there was a chance that it was dangerous, we probably would not have forced COUNTDOWN producer Carey Fox to ride the thing.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE), sign up for the COUNTDOWN newsletter!
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From one roller coaster to another, the rehabilitation of Michael Jackson‘s reputation. Does that include a TV reality series, or is that just crazy talk?
And you can get your milk, bread, and eggs there. Why not pick up some health care, too?
These stories ahead.
But first, now here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers of this day.
Number three, Garfield High School in Seattle. Graduation day brings a speech from the valedictorian, valedictorians, all 44 of them, with 4.0 averages dating back to the womb. Are they really smart, or are the classes there just really easy? Well, there‘s one good thing. The 362 nonvaledictorians will never have to worry about any of that, because they‘ll just sit there at graduation happily playing with their tassels.
Number two, the city of Las Vegas. Last May, it unveiled a massive 131,000-pound cake to celebrate its centennial. It just assumed the ingredients had been donated by the Sarah Lee Company. Uh, no. Today, for the world‘s biggest cake, came the world‘s biggest bill, $95,000.
And number one, Mr. Asahiko Taira, the director general of the Center for Deep Earth Exploration in Yokohama in Japan, seeking to predict and understand earthquakes and look for life inside it—he‘s leading a team that‘s going to drill a hole through the earth‘s crust and into the mantle. See, the mantle is the boiling hot liquid iron stuff that‘s all that stands between us and the earth‘s core.
I really wish he wouldn‘t do this without asking the rest of us.
Let‘s drill a hole through him and see if there‘s any life there!
OLBERMANN: You‘ve seen the trial. You‘ve heard the allegations.
You‘ve watched the puppet theater. Now don‘t miss the reality TV series. Our third story on the COUNTDOWN: Just when you thought the Michael Jackson saga might finally be nearing finality, news comes that Jackson and some of his relatives are reportedly pitching a six-part documentary-style reality show about the trial and that ABC, A&E and Fox have at least listened.
All of which is extremely curious because Jackson may be back in court over another documentary. Only this time, he‘d be the plaintiff, not the defendant. Reality TV first. You better make that alternative reality TV. You didn‘t think those cameramen who followed Jackson in the early days of the case, the ones to whom he would offer verbal and fingered direction, were just compiling home movies, did you? “The Hollywood Reporter” says that the networks were contacted last week, long before the guilty (SIC) verdicts, the trade paper suggesting nobody‘s sure if Jackson really has enough video to make six episodes. Well, we would be happy to help, for a price.
Juxtapose that with reports that Jackson has resumed his legal action against documentary man Martin, whose special for British television helped instigate the charges against Jackson and also got Bashir a job on American television, London‘s “Evening Standard” reporting that the Jackson attorneys began their legal work against Bashir and Granada Television just a few days after the documentary originally aired in 2003, claiming breach of confidence and violations of pre-taping legal agreements about what Bashir could and could not record show. Jackson wound up admitting that children had slept in his bed with him. Bashir wound up testifying at the trial. The legal action wound up being suspended for the duration of the trial, but now the English paper reports the Jackson team is expected to resume that legal action against Bashir.
We have a member of that team with us, Brian Oxman, an attorney for Michael Jackson and the family. Mr. Oxman, thank you for your time tonight.
BRIAN OXMAN, JACKSON FAMILY ATTORNEY: Sure enough.
OLBERMANN: Let me ask about these two television tales here, first that British report. Is that correct? Is Michael Jackson going to wind up suing Martin Bashir?
OXMAN: There has been no action taken regarding the English lawsuit. There was a lawsuit which was initiated back in February of 2003, which resulted in a stipulated injunction against Granada Television, prohibiting Granada from dispersing or publicizing or broadcasting any of the additional tape that it had on the Michael Jackson program which they had aired under Martin Bashir. No action has been taken. There have been no discussions to reinstate or do anything with that program. Michael Jackson is not in the mood right now to make these kinds of considerations, and he won‘t be for some time.
OLBERMANN: As to the “Hollywood Reporter” story, it was quite specific how many episodes some of the networks who had supposedly listened to this pitch, what the shows would be about. It sounds way too detailed not to be originating from somewhere. Nobody made this up out of whole cloth. But what do you know about the supposed Jackson trial reality mini-series?
OXMAN: There are always people who try to pitch a program for Michael Jackson, and they try to get him interested. But this has not emanated from him. He is not doing anything with regard to a reality program. It is simply a rumor which other people have tried to create and establish and interest in him. But he has not considered it. He‘s not discussed it. It is not within something he wants to even deal with at the moment.
OLBERMANN: It does beg the question, though, what was all that videotape the day he danced on the SUV and was directing the cameraman? What was all that videotape shot for, do you know?
OXMAN: Michael Jackson has always had videographers who document his life. He has one of the most extensive film libraries in the world. He has a library of photography involving him and the people he knows, more than a million photographs. It‘s an incredible documentary of his life. He‘s always documented the things he does. He always has a videographer around. It was nothing new or different.
OLBERMANN: Lastly—and there‘s no criticism implied here because you just mentioned it, that he has no particular desire to make a return trip to a courtroom, even as a plaintiff rather than as a defendant, or make a big deal right now after what the trial did to him. But is—there has been no public statement from or appearance from Mr. Jackson. Is he going to make one at some point?
OXMAN: I think when he feels a little bit more rested. He is very quiet. He is at the ranch. He is with his kids. He is recuperating from what really was an enormous undertaking on his part. We‘re just waiting for Michael to feel better. And he is going to be just fine, but it will take him some time. It‘s an experience that I think everybody can understand is really only, hopefully, once in a lifetime.
OLBERMANN: Brian Oxman, Jackson family attorney, great. Thanks for joining us and addressing these points for us.
OXMAN: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: A visit to the doctor‘s office without the wait, and without the doctor, in fact. Medical treatment at the grocery store. Is quality taking a dangerous back seat to convenience? And Oprah Winfrey‘s claim that DNA tests prove that she is of Zulu heritage. A prominent scientist says a DNA test can‘t prove anybody is of Zulu heritage.
That‘s next. This is COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Our wondrous American cultural landscape already offers us eight-minute abs, three-minute speed dating and two-minute movies. Now, on our number two story on the COUNTDOWN, the new time-saving tool spreading across the country, the one-minute clinic.
COUNTDOWN‘s Monica Novotny joins me to explain whatever the heck this is. Good evening, Monica.
MONICA NOVOTNY, COUNTDOWN: Keith, good evening. You will find them in a handful of cities across the country, clinics in the most convenient places, offering a fast, friendly fix for whatever ails you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was great. It was really quick and in and out. And it was cheap, too.
NOVOTNY (voice-over): Where the patients don‘t need patience because if you‘re sick, they‘re quick. That‘s the mantra at a Minute Clinic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had a stomach ache.
NOVOTNY: These walk-in health centers take insurance and treat the most common ailments, no appointment necessary, 22 currently open in grocery and retail stores. Everything you need all in one place.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You sign in. They have a beeper or a pager, and you can walk around while—I actually did my shopping today.
NOVOTNY: So you‘ve got two carts full of groceries.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
NOVOTNY: You‘ve got—you‘ve got your medicine. You‘re all set to go now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. And I‘m all done for the weekend.
DR. JAMES WOODBURN, MINUTE CLINIC: The heart of the program is really designed to meet the needs of patients. People in America today are busy. It‘s difficult for them to take time off of work, to get into the doctor either later in the day or the next day.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This costs, like, $50 less than a doctor‘s office. It‘s closer, and we don‘t need an appointment.
NOVOTNY (voice-over): Inside, you will find affordable help fast, but you won‘t find doctors, just one nurse practitioner seeing as many as 40 patients a day, working with a $1 million computer software system, a high-tech guide through strict medical protocols for tests, diagnosis and treatment.
CAROLE STANGER, MINUTE CLINIC: Obviously, we have the schooling for this, but it‘s very nice to be able to have that back-up.
NOVOTNY: But many doctors say quick, even with a computer‘s help, does not mean quality.
DR. MARY FRANK, AMERICAN ACADEMY OF FAMILY PHYSICIANS: There are so many symptoms that can be indicators for a breadth of problems. You can‘t sort that out in a 10-minute visit. I think the concern is more, Will we miss critical illnesses? Will we miss chronic illnesses?
NOVOTNY (on camera): Even so, the clinics are gaining in popularity, logging almost a quarter of a million visits since opening in 2000. And in that time, they say, there‘s not been one malpractice suit, and their in-house research shows 99 percent of patients walk away as satisfied customers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can actually get something done instead of sitting and waiting and waiting.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My mom. She recommended it to me because right now, I currently don‘t have any medical insurance.
NOVOTNY: Ninety percent of patients do have insurance, and the plan now, to expand to 350 clinics in at least 20 metropolitan areas by 2009. But will 60-second treatments replace traditional care? The clock is ticking.
FRANK: They‘re providing a service that highlights part of the problem with our health care system today, which is that, to date, it hasn‘t really been patient-centered.
STANGER: Thank you for your patience (INAUDIBLE) today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOVOTNY: One thing to keep in mind. Doctors say during that one third of all urgent care visits made to a primary care physician, preventative care is provided. The doctor picks up on a missed vaccine, an overdue mammogram, a skipped flu shot because they have your medical history right in front of them. So doctors argue that you may be sacrificing that for the convenience of these clinics—Keith.
OLBERMANN: Speaking of sacrifice...
OLBERMANN: ... this a bigger-picture issue than just whether or not this is good medical care. Let‘s say I have bubonic plague, and I decide to go into one of these places—in the middle of food supply. That was a fairly large-looking facility that you were in there.
NOVOTNY: Yes, it was a large...
OLBERMANN: I mean, people marching around with, you know, dropsy and pink-eye...
OLBERMANN: ... and bubonic plague and all the rest. Is that—is that—so that just strikes me as a bad idea, to have them close to the food.
NOVOTNY: Well, first of all, if you had the plague, you should not be going to a clinic like this.
OLBERMANN: Thank you.
NOVOTNY: They‘re very specific in what they want to treat. It‘s a short list. But yes, the reality is that if someone‘s in there and they think they have strep throat, if there‘s a wait, they may take that pager and do some grocery shopping. But that person might be in the grocery store anyway. Wash your hands. Often.
OLBERMANN: Wash your hands!
NOVOTNY: That‘s what I did.
OLBERMANN: Wash your hands as you go through each aisle. They should have little—little emergency...
OLBERMANN: ... stations, a little—right, and an eyewash thing.
OLBERMANN: COUNTDOWN‘s Monica Novotny bringing new meaning to the phrase “Shop until you drop.”
From shopping for a doctor near the diet soda to shopping for a cultural heritage. Leading off our nightly round-up of celebrity news and gossip, “Keeping Tabs,” Oprah Winfrey Zulu warrior? The queen of daytime talk sharing that bit of information at a seminar in South Africa, telling a crowd, quote,”I went in search of my roots and had my DNA tested, and I am a Zulu.”
A prominent South African DNA expert says, though, it is not quite that simple. Thanks to migration and language developments, it‘s hard to match specific genetics to specific cultures, like the Zulu nation. Zulus are considered not a genetic group but a linguistic group.
Not that the news is likely to dampen Ms. Winfrey‘s enthusiasm, considering she also said, quote, “I‘m crazy about the South African accent. I wish I had been born here.”
Not sure if she thought that one through, either, considering she was born in 1954. South Africa did not end its policy, official policy of racial discrimination, apartheid, until 1994.
Only five broadcast networks in American history have ever televised the games of the National Football League. One of them, Dumont (ph), went out of business when John Madden was a sophomore in college. The other four? Madden will now have broadcast football for each of them, NBC Sports announcing today that the coach will be the analyst for the first season of NBC‘s “Sunday Night Football” in 2006. He gets a six-year deal. Currently, he is the analyst for the last season of ABC‘s “Monday Night Football.” I bet they‘re wild about that. Before that, he was the lead analyst on Fox‘s coverage of the NFL. Of course, he started on TV with the CBS coverage of football in 1980.
Not quite as readily remembered, in ‘81 and ‘82, he was a commentator for the RKO radio networks, where they had a sportscaster named Olverding or Albumen or something like that.
Finally, tonight, a sad footnote to a story we brought you earlier this month on the program. The oldest husband in the world has died. Percy and Florence, Arrowsmith, aged 105 and 100 respectively, celebrated their 80th wedding anniversary two weeks ago. The whole world watched by TV. They shared the secret of long and happy marriage: a good sense of humor, never going to bed angry and him saying, “Yes, dear,” a lot.
This morning, Percy Arrowsmith died peacefully at their home at Hereford, England. He‘s survived by his wife, by three children, by six grandchildren, and by nine great-grandchildren.
D.C.—it‘s used to the political fund-raising scene. People there have it down to a science. But what happens when an adult film star wants to come to town, too? Well, it‘s all for money, so they let her in, of course, but how was the welcome after that? The puppet theater and also Mary Carey live.
But first, here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three sound bites of this day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to thank Senator Elizabeth Dole, who is the NRSC chairman, Congressman Tom Reynolds, the NRCC chairman. Those are initials for, like, Let‘s raise money and get the Senate in Republican—keep the Senate in Republican hands and the House in Republican hands. Thank you for supporting these causes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you think, you, Tom Cruise? What will happen when the aliens really come?
TOM CRUISE, ACTOR: When they really come? I don‘t know if they‘re really going to come.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think it will be good or it will be bad when they are coming? What is your...
CRUISE: When they are coming? First of all, I don‘t know if they‘re going to come.
CRUISE: I don‘t know.
CONAN O‘BRIEN, HOST, “LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O‘BRIEN”: Michael Jackson‘s lawyer said that Michael will no longer share his bed with young boys.
O‘BRIEN: Yes, which explains why this afternoon, Michael was spotted buying a large hammock.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: I wanted to start annoying you about this now. I‘m scheduled to be on the “Tonight” show with Jay Leno next Monday on your local NBC station. So please, cancel any plans you may have for that night. Thank you.
Beauty is truth, truth beauty. That is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know.
Our number one story on the COUNTDOWN: The Associated Press account of the fund-raiser the President‘s Dinner, carried in countless newspapers today, including “The Washington Post,” contained nine references to people by name. The first four were, of course, President Bush. The first one after him was Mary Carey. The Washington fund-raiser hosted by the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. It raised $23 million for the party at $2,500 a ticket. Miss Carey plans to run for lieutenant governor of California next year. She ran in the governor‘s recall race in 2003 and got 11,061 votes. She is an adult actress. She offered the president her support and hopes for his. She says she‘s been a Republican, quote, “for a couple of days.” She will join us in a moment.
First, there were photographers present at the event but not videotape of the crowd, nor the attempts by Miss Carey to interact with some of your better-known Republicans. So reverting to a peculiar kind of journalism mixed with fiction mixed with satire that served us kind of well during the Michael Jackson trial, we present our dramatic version of what happened at that fundraiser, “Mary Carey Puppet Theatre.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, Mary, here come the politicians.
“MARY CAREY”: Hi, Mr. DeLay. I‘m—bye! Mr. Speaker? My name is -
· nice meeting you.
“UNIDENTIFIED MALE”: Hey, Mary, it‘s the big guy, the president.
“PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH”: Need some wood?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And now the real thing. Good evening, Mary Carey. How are you?
MARY CAREY: I love that puppet show! That was great.
OLBERMANN: Thank you much. Was it like that at all? Did we get anything right?
CAREY: Actually, no, they had, like, a really strict security on me and they kept me really far from the president. And I had this NRCC guy, who everywhere I went, you know, I tried to lose him and I couldn‘t. He followed me around and—but it turned out he‘s really, really hot, and I had a lot of fun with him, so—nothing dirty, just...
CAREY: We had fun, you know?
OLBERMANN: Just an enjoyable time at a political dinner.
OLBERMANN: Right. But the politicians, you got the sense, though, that they were kind of avoiding you?
CAREY: I was told—actually, the guy from the NRCC, his job was to keep me away from the congressmen and the Senate. If I were to approach any of them, to make sure they were fully aware of who I was and tell them that it might be bad for them to take a photo with me, so...
OLBERMANN: This would be probably the all-time first time that‘s ever happened in Washington, that you had to keep a young lady away—or you had to keep the congressmen—the young lady away from the congressmen, as opposed to the other way around.
CAREY: Yes, probably the first. I really wanted to meet President Bush, though, like, you know, up close and personal. I was kind of disappointed.
OLBERMANN: And that never—that was never even close, that.
CAREY: No, they actually—I was told that they had people ready to tackle me if I tried to, you know, get up close to him. And they were worried about me maybe flashing or streaking through the dinner. And I mean, I can‘t believe they‘d think I would do that. I‘m a serious politician. I would never want to, you know, jeopardize my, you know, future career like that.
OLBERMANN: Well, despite the fact that you didn‘t get to meet the president and there were other limitations to the evening, was it fun anyway?
CAREY: I had a great time. You know, Republicans can party almost as much as porn stars.
CAREY: I think they can drink just as much. There were some really drunk guys by the end of the night. I was getting propositions to have threesomes with wives or mistresses. I was offered money from oil tycoons! I mean, it‘s pretty exciting. I didn‘t take any money and I didn‘t do any threesomes, but it was pretty—I was just surprised. I thought everyone would be stuck up and no one was going to like me. And everyone loved me and got drunk and took pictures with me. So I want to keep going to Republican events. I‘m a fully converted Republican now.
OLBERMANN: Well, but did you do fund-raising of your own? And I mean that literally, in terms of your political campaign for next year.
CAREY: I actually did. I met this really nice guy from Ohio. And when I met him, I told him—he asked me what I do, you know, because I had my little badge that said Mary. And I said I ran for governor of California. And he told me he has some rich friends who‘d give me $10 million possibly towards the next campaign. And he introduced me to all his friends. And it turned out when they found out I was a porn star, his friend‘s owns strip clubs, and they‘re going to book me to make appearances in the strip clubs. So I networked and made some jobs—you know, some future job and work possibilities.
OLBERMANN: So this—this guy who was at the Republican fund-raiser last night, his sister owns a bunch of strip clubs?
CAREY: Yes. I actually met them at the cocktail party the first day. And they told me that, yes. And we actually called his sister, and they‘re probably going to book me at their strip clubs. And I actually met another guy who owns some famous magician. And they were talking about booking me in Japan for appearances. And he actually told me some funny things, like he has parties with congressmen, and if I could get some girls together, I just couldn‘t talk about it...
CAREY: Yes, it was great. I had a lot of fun!
OLBERMANN: And all of this happens on your birthday? I mean, you‘re not supposed to ask a lady her age, but how many now?
CAREY: I‘m 25, which—it doesn‘t seem that old, but porno years is like dog years, so I‘m really, like, 60.
OLBERMANN: If you think I‘m going to say anything after that, you‘re out of your mind. I‘m not going to say a word!
CAREY: You‘re really cute. I wanted to meet you in person. I‘m kind of disappointed right now.
OLBERMANN: Well, I‘m here in Secaucus, New Jersey, so I‘m all—I begin the day disappointed. But thanks very much for that, Mary. Mary Carey from the President‘s Dinner...
CAREY: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: ... the 2003 California gubernatorial contest, and the
2006 California lieutenant governor race. Many thanks, and—and have a - have a good whatever.
CAREY: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: And that‘s COUNTDOWN. I‘m Keith Olbermann. Tucker Carlson‘s next with “THE SITUATION.” And as usual, we have left him with the best situation we could think of. Good night, and good luck.
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