Guests: Tucker Carlson, Ana Marie Cox, Bill Stanton, Stacey Honowitz, James Copland, Steve Adubato, Allen Ripka, Jimmy Floyd, Dawn Yanek, Lindsey Martin, James Hirsen
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Right now in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, Hollywood values, are they your values? The Oscar nominations are in. And “Brokeback Mountain,” the gay cowboy story, is leading the back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN”)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You know, it could be like this, just like this, always.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: This thing grabs hold of us in the wrong place, and we‘re dead.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I wish I knew how to quit you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: I wish I knew how to quit you.
But as Hollywood gets ready for its biggest night of the year, is Hollywood less interested in making great films than pushing a political agenda? That‘s tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY showdown.
Hey, welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, no passport required, only common sense allowed.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, thanks a lot for being with me tonight. I have got a bad sore throat, as you can see.
Last night, I was on the floor of the House of Representatives, and screaming, that awe-inspiring speech by President Bush. Well, actually, that‘s not it. I have got a case of laryngitis. So, bear with me. We have a great show, great guests tonight, and we are going to let them talk a little bit more tonight.
Also talk tonight about the show—we are going to be talking about TV shows like “CSI.” Are they hurting the way that police officers do their job, ruining crime scenes and tainting juries? We are going to be getting the lowdown.
And then the world‘s hottest couple, Brad and Angelina, want to settle in the nation‘s capital. We have got a couple of questions. First, why? And, also, is Washington ready for them? Is this just the start of their efforts to dominate the world?
But, first, the Oscar nominations are in and many are asking does Hollywood have a hidden political agenda? Box office hits like “The 40 Year Old Virgin” made more money last year than all the best picture movies combined, while “Brokeback Mountain” led all films with eight nominations.
Let‘s take a look at this year‘s best pictures. They‘re “Brokeback Mountain,” “Capote,” “Crash,” and “Good Night, and Good Luck,” and “Munich.”
With now to talk about the Oscar nominations and whether there‘s a political agenda being pushed is Dawn Yanek of “Life & Style” magazine, James Hirsen. He‘s the author of “Tales From the Left Coast.” Lindsey Martin, formerly of the Liberty Counsel. And also Lawrence O‘Donnell. He‘s the executive producer of “The West Wing.”
Lawrence, let me start with you. We have talked about this before.
You‘re out there. Let me know. Do you think that these Academy Award nominations show that Hollywood really is pushing a liberal agenda?
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I actually think it‘s one of the best groups of nominations I have seen in many years.
There‘s usually a movie in there that I hate, and out of five nominations, there‘s usually two or three movies that I think are terrible and don‘t belong there. I think all these movies belong there.
It‘s very common every year for us for a bunch of different reasons around the country to not like what made the list. Last year a lot of your audience was upset that “Passion of the Christ” didn‘t make the list. I just didn‘t think it was a good movie.
And I think that has happened before, where movies that I have thought were bad made the list, and movies that I didn‘t think were good did not make the list. And “Brokeback Mountain” is not a celebration of gay life. “Brokeback Mountain” is—if you want—if you‘re trying to talk somebody out of choosing the gay lifestyle, you might want to show him that movie.
JAMES HIRSEN, AUTHOR, “HOLLYWOOD NATION”: This is James Hirsen, Lawrence.
I have got to disagree so strongly. I had to speak out, Lawrence. For you to say that this is just an ordinary gathering of films, when you look at the fact that this group of films, we have a documentary nominee, “March of the Penguins,” that more people saw than any of these films. You add all of the people that saw all these films together, and they don‘t even come close.
O‘DONNELL: “Penguins” is going to win. “Penguins” is going to win, Jim. Relax.
HIRSEN: But the point is, this shows something that‘s very profound about the Academy. The Academy is not just out of touch with America; they‘re out of touch with the known universe.
O‘DONNELL: Jim, have you seen “Brokeback Mountain”?
HIRSEN: Yes, I have.
O‘DONNELL: Did it make you want to go gay?
HIRSEN: Yes, I have seen “Brokeback Mountain.”
I wanted to make it a point, because I criticized people who didn‘t see “The Passion of the Christ” and had attacked it, so I went to see “Brokeback Mountain.” And I have to tell you, honestly, there‘s some good cinematic elements in that film.
But if you take out the main controversy, the fact that this is a gay cowboy movie, the fact that this is a tragic gay romance that takes place between these macho figures, that novel element, it‘s a very hackneyed movie and it‘s a very boring movie, and it‘s one that you can‘t criticize.
LINDSEY MARTIN, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR LIBERTY COUNSEL: Whether or not it‘s a celebration or a tragedy, it really doesn‘t matter. The point is, is that Hollywood liberals are trying to push an agenda which seeks to normalize and sympathize with the homosexual lifestyle.
O‘DONNELL: Tell me what the agenda of “Brokeback Mountain” is. Tell me what the agenda of “Brokeback Mountain” is.
MARTIN: It desensitizes America, just like “Will & Grace” does. It desensitizes America to the homosexual lifestyle. And it just does that.
O‘DONNELL: One of the messages is, being gay can kill you.
MARTIN: If you stick a frog in water and turn up the heat gradually, it will boil to death. That is what the American public is having to digest with constant “Will & Grace” and “Brokeback Mountain.” That‘s exactly what is going on here.
O‘DONNELL: Did you see “Brokeback Mountain”?
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on, everybody. We can only—especially since I can‘t speak hardly at all, one at a time.
SCARBOROUGH: Lawrence, I want to ask you this question.
Now, again you hear conservatives year in, year out, talk about a liberal agenda and that Hollywood‘s pushing a liberal agenda. I want to read you a quote by Steven Spielberg that I read in a magazine recently. It‘s an interview he had with the AP.
And this is what he said—quote—“I just think there‘s a very courageous cultural spurge occurring. And some of it could be political and some of it could be in response to neoconservatism.”
And he of course was talking about some of the political movies like “Syriana,” “Good Night, and Good Luck,” that did seem have a center-left agenda, and talked about—he actually said that George Bush being president of the United States had been good, because it had encouraged filmmakers to produce political left-leaning films.
So, doesn‘t that just confirm what conservatives have been concerned about all along?
Joe, I will tell you a joke Senator Moynihan used to do when people would come around looking for more funding for the arts, which he always supported. He always used to say, you know, the best thing we could do for the arts is ban them. And that‘s because artists love to throw themselves against the power structure.
And so artists are always throwing themselves against the current power structure. And it‘s not unusual that they would be doing that now. “Good Night, and Good Luck,” which is a period piece, is something that may not have been done during the years of Democratic rule of Washington. It just might not—the inspiration just might not have been in the air at that time.
So, I understand exactly what Steven Spielberg is saying. It makes perfect sense to me, and there‘s nothing conspiratorial about it. It‘s about the way artists are moved and what moves them.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on. Please hold on.
MARTIN: Would it have been honored and upheld? No.
SCARBOROUGH: Let me bring Dawn in.
SCARBOROUGH: Dawn, do you think that some of these so-called, as you have said before, gender-bender movies may be pushing a social agenda for Hollywood?
DAWN YANEK, EDITOR, “LIFE & STYLE”: I don‘t think it‘s that they‘re pushing a social agenda.
I think it‘s that is it opening a dialogue. And, sure, if you have something out there like “Transamerica,” like “Brokeback Mountain,” you‘re starting a dialogue about it. Whether you agree with it, what you disagree with it, it‘s good to have the conversation.
And let me just say, it‘s not just about these gay-themed movies. It‘s also about look at all of the nominees for best picture. We have something about terrorism. We have something about racism. We have something about sexuality. We have something about freedom of the press and journalism.
It‘s all about dealing with these big issues that are going on in America right now. These are not neat movies. They are messy. They are thought provoking and that‘s what the Academy is all about this year.
HIRSEN: See, this is artistic central planning from the Hollywood politburo.
That‘s what it is. And it‘s this elitist attitude: We don‘t care, America, what you want to watch. We know what‘s better. See, and if you‘re going to have a dialogue, isn‘t it nice to have an audience?
O‘DONNELL: But, Jim, they‘re in the business of selling tickets, Jim.
O‘DONNELL: Of course they care.
O‘DONNELL: Hollywood tries to pander to the audience all day long in every product that it can possibly pander to the audience in. These are movies that did not pander to the audience. And I‘m glad they made it to the Academy Awards.
YANEK: 2005 was not a big box office year.
HIRSEN: You go back to 1999, the aggregate of the best pictures was $600 million.
We now have it gone down to a third. What it is, is that the Academy no longer cares what mainstream America thinks. For example, two really good films, “Walk the Line” and “Cinderella Man,” were snubbed in best picture and best director.
O‘DONNELL: We have the People‘s Choice Awards.
MARTIN: “Brokeback Mountain” has been out eight weeks. In eight weeks, it‘s grossed $51 million. In eight weeks, grossed $277 million. The films that are getting nominated aren‘t films people want to see. They‘re films that people are not going to take their kids to see, aren‘t going to take their families to see. And they‘re not supporting them. They‘re not going and purchasing tickets because they‘re tired of the liberal agenda. That is what is going on here.
YANEK: That‘s not necessarily true. These are thought provoking movies.
HIRSEN: And 80 percent -- 80 percent of the people that watch the Oscar telecast will not have seen the films.
MARTIN: “Chronicles of Narnia” wasn‘t thought provoking?
YANEK: I‘m not saying that it wasn‘t, but that doesn‘t necessarily mean that one is better than the other.
And we‘re talking about “Walk the Line” as well. People are saying, why did that get snubbed? The Academy may be looking at that and saying, well, actually, we had a movie very similar to that last year. It was called “Ray.” So we‘re looking for something perhaps different this year.
Of course the actors were given their due honor. Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix were both nominated in their individual categories. But there was so much out there this year. 2005 was not a year of the big box office. A lot of the big blockbuster movies that we thought would do well really didn‘t, “King Kong,” “War of the Worlds,” “Batman Returns.”
HIRSEN: You would think that Hollywood would learn from the lesson of “Passion of the Christ.”
And it seemed like they were—the trades were talking about this, that there is an audience that‘s not being fed, that‘s not being connected with out there.
“Chronicles of Narnia” seemed to do that this year, but the notion—and I know Lawrence is a television writer—the networks in Hollywood seem to think that the idea of connecting with the “Passion” audience is to have a Episcopalian priest hooked on Vicodin with an alcoholic wife, a drug dealing daughter, a gay Republican son, and a hip-hop Jesus appearing to him.
SCARBOROUGH: Actually, that sounds...
O‘DONNELL: One of the networks tried a priest shows years ago. The priest wasn‘t—no one was addicted to anything in it. And it just hasn‘t worked.
Look, they have tried it before. It hasn‘t worked. “Passion of the Christ” worked. It surprised everybody that it worked at the box office. It doesn‘t mean you can duplicate it. If executives thought they could duplicate the box office successes, they would be doing it all day long. They think that Mel Gibson came up with something that no one else could come up with.
YANEK: Exactly. It‘s like trying to catch lightning in a bottle. And they do work. “Chronicles of Narnia” did work. It did sell to the audience. “Seventh Heaven” was on for God knows how many seasons. And that did really well for the WB.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on, please. Hold on.
Lawrence, let me ask you about a point that James made about these movies not being popular with Middle America. There was actually an article today that I read talking about how ABC is very concerned that they‘re going to have low ratings because there aren‘t any blockbusters. There‘s not a “King Kong” or a “Chronicles of Narnia” that‘s a best picture to carry people to ABC.
And they‘re afraid that the ratings are going to suffer because of it. That seems to underline the point that James was making, that even ABC understands that these are not movies that—these best picture movies, that are very popular with Middle America.
O‘DONNELL: Look, Philip Seymour Hoffman is not Johnny Depp. That‘s ABC‘s problem.
If you left it to the network that was running the Oscars to pick the nominees, believe me, they would be huge movie stars and giant box office movies every single time. It‘s exactly like if you left it to the networks to pick who gets to play in the World Series, it would be the Yankees against the Red Sox every—the Yankees and—New York and L.A. and it would only be the big cities. That is who would be in it, OK?
So, that‘s not the way we do it. We leave it to the artists and the Academy to vote on what they think the good cinematic art was this year. And I got to tell you, I think this year the Academy has nominated the best slate of films they have nominated in long as I can remember. It‘s a very tough choice this year.
“Crash” is a great movie. It has no political agenda that anyone here can identify for me. There‘s a lot of great stuff that is up there this year. And, no, they don‘t have the biggest movie stars around being nominated this year.
HIRSEN: I thought “Crash” was the best of the bunch as well.
SCARBOROUGH: One at a time.
HIRSEN: Yes. I was going to say, I agree with Lawrence. “Crash” is the best of the bunch. America thought that, too, before it has the best box office.
But the point I think that Joe was making, Lawrence, at a time when the box office had the biggest drop in 20 years, the Academy is wrist-slitting here, because Jon Stewart has to perform a miracle, because as I said earlier the vast majority of people, 80 percent of the people, haven‘t seen the films.
And the last time we had “Titanic” involved, there were 55 million people that watched the Oscars. Last year, it dropped 15 million, because it was a similar year, with—where—which was disconnected with America.
SCARBOROUGH: We are going to have to leave it there.
I am going to have to agree, though, with James and Lawrence. “Crash” is a movie. If you haven‘t seen it yet, you need to look at it on DVD. I think it could win the best picture award. And it should.
Hey, we will be right back with more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, more of this great voice, in just a second.
SCARBOROUGH: Coming up, a million little lawsuits with Oprah—when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART”)
JON STEWART, HOST: Yes, by now, you know author James Frey has been ripped into, oh, I would say numerous pieces over revelations he lied in his memoir, “A Million Little Pieces.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW”)
OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, “THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW”: All of those encounters, whether they are the big fights in the chairs and you‘re Mr. Bravado tough guy, were you making that up?
I really feel duped. I feel duped.
But, more importantly, I feel that you betrayed millions of readers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: In other words, you don‘t get a car. You don‘t get a car.
STEWART: He doesn‘t get a car.
By the way, don‘t you think, if I may say, don‘t you think it‘s going to be one entertaining hour of television when Oprah realizes Dr. Phil is full of (EXPLETIVE DELETED)?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: That is Jon Stewart, making his point about Oprah and the book apology.
Now, every day seems to worse for “A Million Little Pieces” author James Frey. Yesterday, his agent of more than four years dropped him. Now lawsuit are popping up all over the country. So far, suits have been filed in Seattle, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York.
With me now, attorney Allen Ripka and his client, Jimmy Floyd, who is the lead plaintiff in one of the suits against Random House, the author of James Frey‘s book.
Gentlemen, thank you for being with us.
SCARBOROUGH: Allen, let me begin with you and just ask you, how can you win a lawsuit against an author who takes artistic license on his own life?
ALLEN RIPKA, ATTORNEY FOR JIMMY FLOYD: Well, you can take artistic license, but if you‘re going to advertise it as truth and you‘re going to profit when you advertise it as true, then it better be true, because the people are going to go to bookstores and rely upon that representation, then that‘s what they‘re supposed to get.
SCARBOROUGH: So, what‘s your basis in this lawsuit for recovering money for the plaintiffs?
RIPKA: Well, the bottom line is, the basis against the publishing companies is the misrepresentation of the book as being true.
And against the author it‘s really for fraud. He knew what he was writing; he knew that it wasn‘t true. However, he indicated it was to these publishing companies. And we believe, it‘s our opinion, that they should have done due diligence. They should have made phone calls. They should have done an investigation before they touted the book as true. And people out there relied upon those representations.
SCARBOROUGH: But, Allen, has anybody ever prevailed in this type of lawsuit before? Has anybody sued a creative artist, an author, a playwright, a producer, for producing a work of art that‘s not true?
RIPKA: Well, there‘s a difference there.
I don‘t know of any that—that have done so. But that‘s different. In those cases people knew what they were watching was not true or what they were buying was not true. In this case, it was advertised as true. It‘s the same misrepresentation in any sense. This happens to be with a book.
SCARBOROUGH: Jimmy, why have you decided to become the lead plaintiff in this lawsuit?
JIMMY FLOYD, SUING RANDOM HOUSE: Well, as he just said, I‘m not suing the author. I‘m not suing anyone. I‘m suing the corporation that is Doubleday, Random House, because they have a responsibility, as a corporation, to make sure that something that they‘re putting out as a memoir is a memoir and not fiction.
And, basically, I mean, am I suing for, like, $10 million like other people are, these frivolous lawsuits? No. I am leading a class-action suit to get, A, our money back for the book, but basically my whole intent here is to get the attention of the corporate world that is publishing and say, look, you have a responsibility, like any other company, to make sure that the product that you‘re selling to America is accurate.
And it really incensed me when I watched—I feel really bad for the author and he really got spanked on Oprah. And he‘s paying for what he did. And I‘m not suing that guy. I‘m saying I can‘t believe that Random House and Doubleday sat on Oprah and acted like they have no responsibility in the world.
And I‘m sorry, but their response to that is they are going to put an addendum on future books, they‘re going to write a note on their Web site? That‘s not enough. I have a much better idea and a much better suggestion for them.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Jimmy, thank you so much. Thank you, Allen.
And it is important for everybody out there listening to realize, again, Jimmy is not asking for $1 million. He wants his money back for the book that he bought.
Now, let me bring in James Copland. He‘s from the Manhattan institute. And also Steve Adubato. He‘s the host of a syndicated TV series and author of “Speak From the Heart.”
Hey, Steve, what do you think about these lawsuits that are cropping up all over the country against Random House and the author?
STEVE ADUBATO, MEDIA ANALYST: Well, let me say, “Speak From the Heart” was published by Simon & Schuster. And I can‘t tell you how many calls I got about specific dates, Joe, specific times where things happened.
My point is, I hate to pile on and I‘m a big opponent of so-called frivolous lawsuits. But there‘s symbolism here. The publishing industry, the corporate world, the people who say, like, Nan Talese, who was the publisher and on the show with Oprah, Oprah, how could you expect us to really figure out what the truth is? We trusted the author. Let me get this straight.
SCARBOROUGH: Can you believe that, Steve, where she was saying that a multibillion-dollar corporation like Random House couldn‘t afford a fact-checker for a book this big?
ADUBATO: See, but it‘s not just a book. And it‘s not just any big book.
Here‘s the thing, Joe. The book came out first in 2003. The publishers pushed Oprah‘s people to get on the Oprah Book Club. Why? Because you want to sell three million copies. I wish Oprah had me on, but I‘m glad to be here with you, Joe.
But I got to tell you something. The bottom line is how could you go on there knowing the difference between three hours in jail vs. 87 days in jail, which he said? You‘re telling me you don‘t have someone to call the county, the jail? Let him show you his mug shot. Let him—he said he had 4,000 pages of documents, Joe. Are you telling me that Doubleday, Random House, couldn‘t ask him to verify that? They didn‘t want to know the truth.
And listen I don‘t know if the lawsuit‘s the way to go. The law is not my business. But I‘ll tell you what. I would like to see them get spanked big time and pay a price, because it will send a message to every other publisher, you better take responsibility, particularly if you‘re going to try to sell your books.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, James Copland, what‘s the problem with that? They had to know this guy was lying, and yet they just turned a blind eye to it. Shouldn‘t they have to pay?
JAMES COPLAND, MANHATTAN INSTITUTE: Well, it‘s far from clear to me that they had to know the guy was lying. They took the author on good faith.
What we‘re really talking about here, Joe—you‘re a former plaintiff‘s lawyer. And there certainly are good plaintiff‘s lawyers out there. None of us who are responsible who think we should reform the civil justice system think we should totally gut tort law.
But there are a lot of lawyers out there that are filing these large class-action lawsuits to get rich. And it‘s a litigation industry that makes over $40 billion a year and taxes the American people over $200 billion a year. What we‘re talking about here is really going to the heart of free speech.
If we wanted to start suing every time that somebody had factual problems, we would be suing Michael Moore for “Fahrenheit 9/11.” We would be suing CBS for the Reagan miniseries.
ADUBATO: Joe, it‘s not going to wash. It‘s not going to wash.
And you know it, James, because this is not a small company. If Smoking Gun, TheSmokingGun.com, trust me, they didn‘t have the staff, the researches that Random House and Doubleday had. They found out very easily what the truth was.
We‘re not talking about two weeks, but two-and-a-half years after the book was originally published, they had no reason to suspect that there was a problem? I ask you, James, don‘t they have a responsibility to check any of this? And if there was a problem, why did it take the Oprah program, after Oprah blew it big time in the fall and called Larry King on the 11th of November, why would it take the publisher that long, if they truly wanted to know not a small fact, but huge facts?
COPLAND: Well, the reality is what we are a talking about is are we going to have a chilling effect on free speech?
And the reality is, the Supreme Court of the United States has very clear standards for this. This lawsuit, it is not going to succeed, but what it is going to do is cost a lot of money. And what you are going to really do is, if these lawsuits were allowed to succeed, you would really stifle the nonfiction industry, because publishers are not going to want to take the risk of being sued if there‘s a factual problem in somebody‘s individual memoirs.
ADUBATO: Oh, come on.
COPLAND: The reality is, you have historians out there, distinguished academics, like Doris Kearns Goodwin, who have taken liberties with the truth. The reality is there are major networks like Viacom that have sponsored miniseries out there that take liberties with the truth.
COPLAND: Oliver Stone movies come out and take liberties with the truth.
ADUBATO: James, are you saying that it‘s not wrong to do those things?
You seem to be very, in my opinion, respectfully, I will tell you, you‘re very cavalier about the fact that, well, they say this, they say that, they take license. What is the place—or where is the place for truth, in your opinion?
COPLAND: I think there‘s a place for truth.
The question is, what should be litigated? We live in such a litigious society. If there‘s actually libel out there, of course there should be the capacity to sue. If they had said something bad about Oprah, that would be very different.
And I certainly understand why Oprah‘s upset.
COPLAND: What we‘re talking about here is a class-action lawsuit that‘s going to pay off pennies or dollars to the individuals plaintiffs and millions of dollars to the class-action attorneys that have strung together these causes to shake down a large corporation to get money for themselves.
ADUBATO: That‘s not the issue, Joe. I‘m looking on the inside of the book, Joe.
ADUBATO: It says, “A Million Little Pieces” is an uncommonly genuine account of a life destroyed and a life reconstructed.
They had no proof that that was true. They put it there. They sold they book. They sold a bill of goods. Somebody should pay the price.
COPLAND: Well, the reality is...
SCARBOROUGH: All right. We are going to have to leave it there.
Thanks so much, Steve. Thank you, James.
And coming up next on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, the hottest couple in the world heads to Washington. Why? Is world domination next?
And it‘s just a game, right? Well, try telling that to one fan who says he‘s out of a job because of the Super Bowl.
SCARBOROUGH: Is the hit TV series “CSI” helping criminals get away with murder? We will talk about that when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
But, first, here‘s the latest news you and your family need to know.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, welcome back.
Now, could the hottest crime show on TV actually be helping criminals get away with their crimes? It‘s called the “CSI” effect and some real crime scene investigators think shows like “CSI” are giving criminals tips.
NBC‘s Peter Alexander has that story.
PETER ALEXANDER, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Television crime dramas may provide the perfect entertainment, but what if they‘re also providing lessons on how to carry out the perfect crime?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “CSI”)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Money he was expecting us.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You think he cleaned up?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDER: Authorities say this suspect in an Ohio double murder allegedly cleaned up the crime scene, carefully collecting anything that might have his DNA, then burned it, along with the bodies of his victims, and cleaned the area up with a chemical bleach.
Police say he‘s not a forensic expert, just a fan of “CSI”
CAPTAIN RAY PEAVY, LOS ANGELES SHERIFF‘S HOMICIDE BUREAU: The “CSI” factor is very definitely real. The criminals are learning what not to leave behind at crime scenes.
ALEXANDER: Homicide investigators say they‘re not finding clues like hair, clothes and cigarette butts as often as they did before the era of “CSI” and “Law & Order.” And while criminals are picking up new techniques from TV, the public is demanding more and more from its local cops.
PEAVY: They expect us to be able to do magic, quite frankly, and the magic that they expect us to do is brought on by what they see on television.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “CSI”)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Hey, Rick, remember the time you said you could get a print off of air?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Check this out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDER (on camera): In real life, crimes are not solved in an hour or less as seen on TV, of course, but the shows are affecting the way some cases play out in court. Many jurors are now walking in with higher expectations.
(voice-over): Expectations that experts warn aren‘t realistic and that pose too high a burden for prosecutors to overcome.
LARRY POZNER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: “CSI” creates an aura in which every cop is an expert and every crime lab technician is sitting at home waiting for a phone call to go to their lab at midnight. That isn‘t real.
ALEXANDER: Most experts believe the “CSI” effect works in favor of the defense, with jurors demanding high-tech scientific evidence in order to convict.
That attitude may have helped actor Robert Blake win an acquittal for the murder of his wife. Despite enormous circumstantial evidence, some jurors said they had expected more of what they‘re used to seeing on TV, some kind of hard proof.
TOM NICHOLSON, JURY FOREMAN: There was no GSR. They couldn‘t trace the gun. There was no blood.
ALEXANDER: Unfortunately for cops and crime labs, real life is messier than fiction. Not every criminal leaves a trail of DNA.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “CSI”)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Blood.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDER: And police departments simply don‘t have the time or the resources of their TV counterparts.
PEAVY: The general public now has the expectation that policemen can do undoable things.
ALEXANDER: Still, even if they can‘t solve every crime before the final commercial break, investigators say they are just determined to stay one step ahead of the crooks.
Peter Alexander, NBC News, Los Angeles.
SCARBOROUGH: And with me now to talk about this is Florida prosecutor Stacey Honowitz and also Bill Stanton, former officer with the NYPD.
Stacey, it sounds like this “CSI” TV show may actually be helping criminals get away with murder. Talk about it.
STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA ASSISTANT STATE ATTORNEY: Well, I will tell you something, Joe. I think that piece was so true to life.
We find, as trial lawyers, criminal trial lawyers, when we go into court, it is necessary now, when you pick a jury, to ask these jurors how many of them watch these shows. And many of them do, and they expect very often a lot of technical forensic evidence. They‘re looking for DNA. They‘re looking for fibers. They‘re looking for cigarette butts, all these things that they see on TV.
I don‘t know if the defendants themselves are watching these shows and if they‘re getting smarter, but certainly even in these rape cases that we had, sometimes rape defendants will take their victims and make them go into the shower and wash themselves. And that‘s in an effort to get away any kind of DNA.
So, while the defendants could be getting a little bit smarter and could be trying to get rid of the evidence, I think it‘s jurors and the general public that are now requesting to see this type of evidence, based on the “CSI” effect. I think it‘s very prevalent. I think it‘s really out there.
SCARBOROUGH: Bill Stanton, some police departments are actually very concerned that criminals are watching these shows and, for instance, are learning that if you bleach a crime scene, then you destroy all DNA there.
What kind of impact is that going to have on police work and investigations and putting the bad guys behind bars in the future?
BILL STANTON, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: Well, first of all, I totally agree with the counselor, in that affects the juries far more than the bad guys using it as a handbook.
Do the police officers and investigators have to up their game? Absolutely. But if you take “CSI” and you take it 50 years ago, it would have been “Dragnet.” And before then, you could have picked up a Sherlock Holmes novel. You could always look for clues in fiction.
It‘s far more that the juries are being influenced by these shows that they have unreal expectations from police departments and investigators.
SCARBOROUGH: But, Stacey, it sounds like it‘s all bad news, though, Stacey, for people like you, whose job it be to put criminals behind bars, when you look at two-pronged effect. You‘re talking about the jury having unrealistic expectations about what you can bring to them to get a conviction and secondly again some police departments concerned about the criminals.
It sounds again like your job is made harder. So, what do you do, moving forward, to make sure when you put these people on juries they‘re not going to hold you to some stupid Hollywood standard?
HONOWITZ: Well, like I said, jury selection in these cases, in all criminal cases, is probably the most crucial stage of the prosecution in these cases.
You have to make sure that these jurors are well aware of the fact that the television shows are theatrics. That is what it‘s all about. Nobody‘s going to come from the back of the courtroom and lift their veil and say it was I who committed the crime. And we are not going to find a fiber from 30 years ago in the back seat of a car and be able to trace it back to somebody.
So, the importance really lies on getting in jury selection those individuals that are well aware of the fact that what they‘re watching on TV is not reality. And then you have to have your police officers and your detectives testify that they have done everything that they can, the technology they have is up to date, and they have tried to find the best forensic evidence that they could. And that‘s what we have to do right now. It‘s crucial in all of our cases.
SCARBOROUGH: And isn‘t there an upside, though, also, though, that it is going to require police officers who are investigating these crime scenes to stay on their toes, to know that the standard has been raised and may require an extra degree of police work?
And what happens, Joe, is they are constantly refreshed in the latest technologies and what‘s going on with DNA in trace evidence and any kind of forensics. They have to keep up in their course work, because they‘re going to have to come to court and live up to that standard.
So, it does make them more on target. They have to be up on everything, and, hopefully, by learning these new technologies, by learning the new techniques, by going to courses, by listening to their sergeants and their detectives, that they are going to be able to come into a courtroom, with evidence, present it to a jury, and we will be able to get the conviction.
SCARBOROUGH: Bill, let me ask you, how much of this is going on out there that you know of, that you have heard from your former peers, police officers? Is there this “CSI” effect going on again...
SCARBOROUGH: Go ahead.
STANTON: Oh, no, no, absolutely.
A brief aside. Bill Bratton, former NYPD police commissioner, now the L.A. police chief, I remember I was actually laughing when this show first came out, and we were talking how is this show ever going to make it, because it is so far from reality?
Because CSI, they come in. They take the pictures. They do the tests. And many times it‘s weeks if not months before they come back with the conclusion. The public will never buy this. It shows you how much I know about television.
Has it taken effect? Absolutely, the “CSI” effect, because John Q. Public, they watch this and they take this as Gospel. They almost look at this show as a reality show, and it‘s a bad distortment. What you‘re doing is actually helping fight against that.
SCARBOROUGH: Very good, Bill. Thank you so much for being with us.
And, Stacey, thank also for helping to clarify the situation, a very important issue, especially for prosecutors who are trying their best to put criminals behind bars.
Now, coming up next, move over, George and Laura. Brad and Angelina are coming to town. The latest on what could be Washington‘s newest power couple.
And a Seahawks fan so fired up about the Super Bowl, he got fired. We will have details when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: Mr. and Mrs. Smith go to Washington.
The rumors swirling around the nation‘s capital is that Hollywood‘s power couple, Brangelina, is moving to D.C. to become even more politically active.
With me now to talk about Brangelina‘s big move is Ana Marie Cox. She‘s of course the author of the great new book “Dog Days.” And also back with us is “Life & Style” magazine editor Dawn Yanek.
Ana Marie Cox, obviously we have all heard the cliche, Washington‘s Hollywood for ugly people. If that‘s the case, what are two of the hottest stars in the world doing moving to your hometown?
ANA MARIE COX, WONKETTE.COM: No, I‘m actually really upset about it, because I have often said that Washington is a place where both fame and attractiveness are graded on a curve.
And I think that Brad and Angelina are going to totally blow that curve for everyone. They‘re going to be like that really geeky kid in your calculus class. And now everyone is going to get a B or worse, really.
The other thing I think that people really should know is that this is a rumor on the Internets, as our president might say. There isn‘t really much to back up this speculation, although Brad and Angelina were seen house hunting I think about a month, month or two ago.
The idea that they have actually bought a house here has about as much backing to it as the idea that we should be sort of wary of human-animal hybrids that the president is so concerned about. I think that it‘s great that they‘re moving here. I support attractive people being in Washington.
They do a lot for the view.
COX: But I guess—and I think the best-case scenario is that there will be kind of a trickle-down effect and we will stop seeing so many Ann Taylor dresses and blue blazers and perhaps some more Prada. That‘s what I‘m really hoping.
SCARBOROUGH: That would be nice.
Dawn, talk about their activism. One of the reasons why this rumor is taking hold is because obviously Angelina has been an activist for some time and it appears that, as he does in all of his relationships, Brad is aping his suitor and now is getting involved himself in activism. Talk about it.
Brad has absolutely been transformed by love, transformed by Angelina, and in a really good way, because, of course, Angelina has been very, very involved with world causes for some time now. And Brad is following suit. They were in Pakistan together, visiting the quake zones. They were in Haiti. They have been everywhere, just trying to raise awareness of these world issues. And it makes sense that they would get a home in D.C., because they are there quite a bit.
And Angelina will be lobbying for her causes. And, yes, this will raise the hotness quotient in Washington, D.C.
COX: Although that is not very difficult.
SCARBOROUGH: So, Ana, they‘re moving there so Brad can be closer to the Brookings Institute? Is that what this is all about?
COX: Brad can be closer to what, I‘m sorry?
YANEK: The Brookings Institute.
SCARBOROUGH: The Brookings Institute.
COX: Sure. I think that‘s actually—yes, I think he is going to go to the SAIS studies at Johns Hopkins. I think he is looking into that.
I don‘t know. I think it is sort of wonderful for all of us to have some actual famous people here in D.C. I‘m kind of crossing my fingers that they will show up at the White House correspondents dinner, so we will have some real celebrities to gawk act, rather than kind of the cut-rate ones, like, I don‘t know, Joe Scarborough, who tend to show up there.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, God. How depressing that would be, if you went to anything and I was the only one there that you knew.
SCARBOROUGH: What is the draw? And this—I will throw this over to both of you.
I noticed it when I was on Capitol Hill. You always had Hollywood stars coming to visit the Capitol, the White House. What is the big draw with these Hollywood stars that come to Washington, D.C., when, if I were them, I would just stay by the pool at the Peninsula in Beverly Hills?
YANEK: Well, it‘s not just about them being in Washington, D.C.
2005 was so very much the year of the celebrity, not just for Washington, but for all of America. People were especially obsessed with Brad and Angelina.
And once they‘re in Washington, Angelina had to tell politicians and world leaders not that—I think it was the other day—to focus on the issues, not just on her. It‘s just amazing to me how many people are just obsessed with what‘s going on with her and Brad.
Older men, who you would never expect to be interested in this, who are just very serious and straitlaced most of the time, want to know what‘s going on with Brangelina.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, and, Ana, let me finish with you. Tell me about your book. How is it going?
COX: The book is doing very well. Thank you very much.
I think it might even be a movie some day. Perhaps I should have a little chat with my co-panelist here about who should be in it, who is hot people. But if people are interested, if actors and actresses are interested to coming to Washington to rub shoulders with real politicians, I wonder if any of them would actually be interested in playing a politician or two or at least starring in this sordid story of a campaign staffer‘s love affair. I think it has potential. I do.
But I was going to say something.
COX: Go ahead.
SCARBOROUGH: Maybe Tucker Carlson, Ana Marie.
SCARBOROUGH: Ana Marie Cox, Dawn Yanek, thank you so much.
SCARBOROUGH: And I‘m joined now by the coming star of “Dog Days.” He is Tucker Carlson, host of “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON.”
Tucker, how sexy...
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON”: Thank you, Joe. I am going to talk to Ana about that after the show.
I have been begging to be in that film for a long time.
SCARBOROUGH: What‘s the deal? Hey, how sexy is my voice, Tucker?
CARLSON: It‘s—I was out with you last night, Joe. I know where you got that voice. And I‘m impressed.
SCARBOROUGH: Kind of like a poor man‘s Brenda Vaccaro.
CARLSON: I like it. I‘m stuck on you, man.
SCARBOROUGH: I can‘t quit you.
CARLSON: In 2001, Andrea Yates killed five of her children in a bathtub. She was convicted. While the rest of us weren‘t paying attention, those convictions were overturned on a technicality.
Now she is out of prison on bond. She put up only $20,000 to get out on bond. We are going to talk to her lawyer tonight, who is going to explain how this happened. A lot of people make excuses for her.
Then we are going to have an eyewitness to that police shooting where the cops in California shot an unarmed man three times, a former Iraq veteran. Amazing. We are going to talk to people who actually saw it happen.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, thanks, Tucker. I think they should have executed her years ago.
Make sure you tune in “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER.” That‘s coming at 11:00.
And will be right back in a minute.
SCARBOROUGH: When it came down to being able to watch the Super Bowl or keep his job, one Seattle man says the choice was easy.
Reporter Pat McReynolds has his story.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): We have waited 30 years to get to the Super Bowl.
PAT MCREYNOLDS, KING REPORTER (voice-over): Forest Lee (ph) is not your average Seahawk fan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): ... thought the Seahawks had a prayer to go.
MCREYNOLDS: He is so devoted and so excited for the Super Bowl, he just had to sing about it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): All the points they get, because we are better than them.
And I just got to thinking, I could write a Seahawks anthem. I have watched every game this year, and I know the team upside down and backwards.
(singing): We are going to win.
MCREYNOLDS: His team spirit was no secret in his office at Microsoft.
He would share it with anyone who would listen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have been e-mailing it to all my friends and everybody and tell them, hey, pass it on, you know. Go, Seahawks.
MCREYNOLDS: So, when his boss told him today that he would be on call on Super Bowl Sunday, Forest was stunned.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No chance that I was going to be on call Super Bowl weekend, not with the Seahawks in the Super Bowl. That just wasn‘t going to happen.
MCREYNOLDS: That‘s exactly what he told his boss. After all, Forest (ph) was called in to work on Christmas. But, a few seconds later, he was fired.
CHERYL LEE, WIFE OF FIRED SEAHAWKS FAN: I was happy. I clapped about it.
MCREYNOLDS: Forest‘s (ph) wife, Cheryl, is backing her man.
LEE: We went without him on Christmas and went without him on various Super Bowl games. And I was glad that he did it. I wanted to spend the Super Bowl with him.
MCREYNOLDS: Now she will get her chance. In fact she will be spending a lot of time with Forest (ph). But, as they say, the family that cheers together stays together.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It might take another 30 years for the Seahawks to get back. Hopefully, they will be back next year. But, you know, I‘m not missing it.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. We will see. Hopefully, Pittsburgh doesn‘t stomp them into the ground.
We will be right back.
CARLSON: Hey, that‘s all the time we have for tonight.
“THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON” starts right now.
Hey, Tucker, what‘s the situation tonight?
CARLSON: Thank you, Joe. Good to see you.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, thank you.
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