Guests: Jill Pike, Lionel, Neal Boortz, Belinda Luscombe, Michael Smerconish, Ruth Hilton, William Donahue, Grady Hendrix, Joe Tacopina, Stacey Honowitz, Casey Jordan
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Right now in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, the husband in the Massachusetts murder case busted, behind bars, charged with killing his beautiful wife and 9-month-old baby. Why did it take so long to put this guy behind bars?
Plus, chilling details about what may have happened that terrible night and a possible motive. And is he playing crazy to lay the groundwork for an insanity defense? We are going to dig into this case that stunned Massachusetts and America.
Plus, two big American actors are starring in a movie that is so anti-American, it‘s only playing overseas. It‘s anti-Semitic. It‘s anti-military. It is so bad that it leaves a lot of people asking, why are some Hollywood stars to eager to trash America? We will dig into that and much more.
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, welcome to the show. Thanks so much for being with us.
We‘re going to get to those big stories in a minute.
Plus, surprise Grammy winner Kelly Clarkson thanks everybody but the show that made her the star. Why is he distancing herself from the show that actually—get this—beat up the Grammys in the ratings race last night? That‘s right. Teenage kids, amateurs, just absolutely destroyed rock music‘s biggest stars in the ratings race. See why some are telling Kelly she‘s making a bad move.
And the Oprah book club scandal is followed up today by a huge reward, a multimillion-dollar deal with XM Radio, $50 million for Oprah a week after her scandal. So, how is that playing in Peoria? Well, that‘s just one of the topics we are going to hit with our all-star radio panel. And you will see whether your favorite host is on tonight.
But, first, major developments in the double murder mystery surrounding a 27-year-old mom who was shot to death, along with her 9-month-old baby girl. It‘s such a sad story, friends. It‘s one of those stories where just the pictures, every picture you see that comes up, it just breaks your heart.
Well, tonight, Neil Entwistle is under arrest in London. Prosecutors say the husband shot his wife and baby with his father-in-law‘s gun. And investigators now say they may have found a motive for the murders.
Was Neil Entwistle keeping a big secret from his family and the world?
We will find out.
Now, Entwistle‘s going to appear in a London court just hours from now.
And that‘s where NBC‘s Charles Sabine has the very latest for us.
Charles, what do you got?
CHARLES SABINE, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Joe, Neil Entwistle appeared here at Bow Street Magistrates Court in Covent Garden in Central London for less than five minutes. He was dressed casually and appeared calm, as the judge asked him if he understood the nature of the charges against him.
He said he did. The judge then asked him if he would consent to extradition. And the answer to that was no. Then, his lawyer said that there would be an application for bail. But, in the meantime, Neil Entwistle was remanded into custody and is due to appear back here at Bow Street 10:00 local time in the morning.
The officers from the London Metropolitan Police Extradition Unit who arrested him said that they did—he did not put up a struggle. Now, after 9/11, the extradition process from here to the United States was simplified and is now much quicker. But, nevertheless, if Neil Entwistle, Joe, does decide that he wants to appeal against this extradition, the entire process could take as long as a year—Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Charles, thanks so much for that report from London. Greatly appreciate it, Charles Sabine.
Now let‘s go from London straight back up to Massachusetts, where MSNBC‘s Rita Cosby is live at the scene of that horrible crime in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston.
Rita, there are so many questions that I know I want answered and so many Americans want answered. First of all, what is the motive? What do police officers think the motive could be for this father to kill his beautiful wife and beautiful 9-month-old baby?
RITA COSBY, HOST, “RITA COSBY: LIVE & DIRECT”: You know, it is incredible that somebody would do that to mare their own wife and their own 9-month-old baby girl.
But what they believe is sort of a series of things, with the primary thing being financial distress. They say that they took a look at Neil Entwistle‘s records, and that he had all these different scams, that he was losing money all over the place domestically and also in the U.K.
And they saw this trail of just financial distress and they said that that was building and building. And they believe that it was not just a murder, but an intent to be a murder-suicide and that somehow last minute he decided not carry it out on himself and just killed his wife and his baby, Joe.
But all along they believe that he was despondent. They believe it was sort of building up to this moment. And in fact on my show I talked to somebody who actually spoke to a friend of family, who even believes that there might have even been some sort of confrontation or some sort of meeting building up to this with Rachel and her husband, where she maybe even confronted him, and maybe said something, that things were actually building even in the relationship—Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, what‘s the latest up there from the community?
How are they responding to this terrible, terrible tragedy?
COSBY: They are just stunned.
All fingers were pointing in the direction of Neil Entwistle early on. Remember, you look at his behavior, the fact that he suddenly took off and went to the U.K., didn‘t come back for the funeral. It turns out that he took the only car, the BMW, that the family had. All these things just didn‘t add up.
And people said, well, that sounds fishy. But, of course, people were still hoping that a man would not take his wife and his child. But when they found out that this is indeed the case, that that‘s what he‘s being accused of today by the district attorney and others, the reaction in this community here, on one hand, there is relief that it has been solved, that, at least, there is some sense of closure to this.
On the other hand, just so stunned, so shocked and so overwhelmed that somebody, one of their neighbors, could have done this.
SCARBOROUGH: Rita, do they—do the authorities in America believe that extradition is going to be fairly simple, that, as Charles said, post-9/11, they are going to be able to get Entwistle back to the United States and back to Massachusetts?
COSBY: Yes, they do seem fairly confident of that.
The big question is, Joe, how long it‘s going to take. I talked to the district attorney. She seems very confident that she has a strong case, a combination of not just these theories, but also forensic evidence. They believe that he took the gun from his father-in-law, and that there‘s some forensic evidence on there.
We don‘t know if it‘s residue, if it‘s DNA even from the mother and baby. It sounds like there‘s a combination of a couple different things, but she believes all these things add up to a very, very strong case. And that‘s what gave her the warrant. That‘s what also gave her the information to get Scotland Yard and others involved.
Based on all of that, she believes that extradition is going to happen. The question is, now that we heard today that he‘s going to fight it, and tomorrow we will hear probably some more details when he goes back in court, it could be weeks, it could be months until he is back on U.S. soil.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, thanks so much, Rita Cosby in Massachusetts.
Greatly appreciate that update.
Let me now bring in criminologist Casey Jordan, prosecutor Stacey Honowitz, and defense attorney Joe Tacopina.
Casey, let me start with you. And let‘s CSI this crime scene. What do you find that‘s compelling enough for authorities in Massachusetts to ask authorities in London to arrest Entwistle?
CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: I think Rita is absolutely correct in assessing that that gun, this gun which is alleged to have belonged to her stepfather, which they believe was taken from his collection by Neil, used for the homicides, and then returned to his home before Neil fled to England, I think that‘s the linchpin that they have ban waiting for, for ballistics to come back, and that is the basis for the warrant on which they‘re basing the extradition.
If they don‘t believe that‘s the murder weapon, I don‘t think they would have proceeded or gotten as far as they have. It took a little while, but I think it‘s going to pay off.
SCARBOROUGH: Joe Tacopina, I know, as a criminal defense attorney, you hate to hear somebody like me just leap to a conclusion, but this guy looks like he is busted, that he is nailed dead to center, didn‘t show up for his wife and baby‘s funeral, claimed, oh, gee, I got to London and I just don‘t remember how I got there.
SCARBOROUGH: What‘s your defense for this type of guy?
JOE TACOPINA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Joe, first of all, I agree.
It looks horrific. It looks horrible. His actions are, quite frankly inexplicable, as far as what happens afterwards. But let me just say this. This is all fair game in the court of public opinion. But eventually this is going to proceed to a court of law, where evidence is going to have to convict him, not innuendo, speculation, suspicion.
And I—what my defense would be, I don‘t know if I would have a defense yet, because you have to evaluate what he‘s saying. Is he going to claim he didn‘t do it, and someone else did? And do we know what the evidence is?
SCARBOROUGH: What about the gun, Joe? We hear that he has borrowed his father-in-law‘s gun.
TACOPINA: We are speculating to that.
SCARBOROUGH: They get shot down, and then he returns the gun back.
SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s say that‘s the case. I mean, that‘s pretty damn compelling, isn‘t it?
TACOPINA: If that‘s the case, and, of course, the ballistics add up to that gun being the murder weapon, and the gun was seen before and right after the shootings, well, then that‘s one thing. Of course, then they will have to tie the gun to him through forensics of some sort.
There‘s a lot of dots that need to be connected, Joe. Look, this could be an overwhelming case, but we all thought Robert Blake was an overwhelming case. We all thought...
SCARBOROUGH: Robert Blake was an overwhelming case.
SCARBOROUGH: He was guilty.
TACOPINA: Joe, and he was—Joe, and he was acquitted, point being, point being, you know, before we have the sentence, let‘s have the trial.
I‘m not saying he doesn‘t look guilty. I‘m not saying—I would have trouble, as a defense lawyer, someone who really believes in the presumption of innocence.
TACOPINA: I would have trouble accepting the “I blanked out and bought a one-way ticket to England.”
TACOPINA: That is stuff that is tough to swallow.
But if that‘s true—we don‘t know if he said that. That‘s, again, been reported in “The Sun,” and some of those London tabloids are akin to some of our great tabloids.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, let‘s hear. Let‘s go ahead and read what the London “Sun”‘s reporting tonight.
They‘re reporting that “Neil Entwistle phoned the family of his murdered wife and said—quote—“I can‘t remember how I got to England. Is it true Rachel and Lillian are dead?”
So, Stacey Honowitz, is Neil trying to lay the groundwork for an insanity defense?
STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA ASSISTANT STATE ATTORNEY: Well, Joe, I have to tell you, before I came on the air tonight, I did hear somebody say, somebody who is close to the investigation, say that in fact that statement wasn‘t made.
But if you want to go on the theory that maybe he did say it, well, certainly, one can believe that that‘s what he‘s trying to do, trying to lay out the groundwork. I mean, obviously, he took an airplane. He went to the airport. He brought a ticket and he got on a plane. And that is how we all know he got there.
So, if you want to believe that that statement was made, if everybody wants to believe that that statement was made, you might want to believe that that‘s the only way out of this, because, certainly—I‘m proud of Joe that he said there might not be a defense to this case. and it does look overwhelming at this time.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Stacey, play devil‘s advocate.
HONOWITZ: And, in that case, you don‘t have anything else for the defense.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second.
Hey, Stacey, yes, play devil‘s advocate. I‘m going to turn it around and I‘m going to ask you to find a defense for this guy. As a prosecutor, what‘s the weakness in the prosecution‘s case?
HONOWITZ: Well, I can tell you, as a prosecutor for almost 19 years, right now, looking at it, the way I‘m looking at it, there doesn‘t appear to be a weakness.
But there does have to be a link to the gun to him. And, right now, we don‘t know what the evidence is. The only thing that we know is that they waited. They did ballistics. They did some kind of forensic evidence that allowed them to get a warrant for his arrest. So, right now, looking at it, we can say there is probable cause for a warrant. They were allowed to get a provisional arrest and arrest him over in England.
And, right now, from what we can see and from what we have heard, there is a link between the murder weapon and the defendant. And, so, as it stands, what we can see, as a prosecutor and as a defense attorney, the evidence does appear to be overwhelming from this point of view.
SCARBOROUGH: Joe Tacopina, when you‘re trying to figure out whether a crime like this is premeditated or whether it was a crime of passion or whether it was insanity, what do you look for at the crime scene? And, after you answer, I will have Casey answer, too.
What do prosecutors look for? What does a DA look for? And, as a sort of, what do you look for?
TACOPINA: Well, and, Joe, I will also hearken back to my days as a homicide prosecutor, which I was for a long time in New York City.
And I will tell you that you look for premeditation. If a crime is premeditated, for the most part, you are not going to see any signs of struggle. You are not going to see anything out of place. You‘re certainly going to see things like planning ahead to go and get a gun or get a weapon.
You know, if it‘s a crime of passion or a fit of insanity, you generally—that doesn‘t comport with going to someone else‘s house to pick up a gun, secreting that gun, you know, securing it, and not letting other people see it, bring it back to the crime scene, shooting someone, then taking it back. That is not consistent with a crime of passion or a crime for someone who suffers from a mental defect.
So, if all these things can be proven—and I say if, because I just want to remember, nothing‘s been proven yet.
TACOPINA: But if they can be proven, it just doesn‘t bode well for some crime of passion or some insanity defense.
It looks like it would have been a premeditated thing. Now, he could say mental duress. I had some unpaid bills, but you know what? That is not flying in any court of law.
TACOPINA: Because I don‘t know any young couple that is not born to the silver spoon network that doesn‘t have some financial struggles, have young children.
TACOPINA: The way out of financial struggles is not to off your responsibilities.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, certainly not killing them.
Hey, thanks so much.
And, Casey, we got to go, but we will look forward to having you back next week to talk about this.
Stacey Honowitz, thank you.
Joe, thank you so much.
SCARBOROUGH: And, Robert Blake, it‘s just my opinion, just my opinion, that you‘re guilty.
But Joe makes a good point. We can‘t jump to conclusions, because, in America, it‘s the juries who decide who is guilty and who is innocent.
We will be right back in a minute.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s a movie that is so anti-American, our troops overseas are being told to stay away from theaters that are showing it. Yet, it stars two famous American actors, one a star of the “Titanic.” Why would Hollywood stars be so eager to cash in by trashing America? Wait until you see this one—when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: A new movie that opened tonight in Europe is creating an uproar. It‘s called “Valley of the Wolves: Iraq.” Now, here‘s the plot to the movie.
U.S. soldiers attack a wedding party in Iraq. They drag prisoners off to Abu Ghraib. The soldiers then conspire with a Jewish doctor to harvest and sell the internal organs of the Arab prisoners. Critics are calling it one of the worst anti-American propaganda films ever.
And guess what? It stars two big Hollywood actors. One of the soldiers is played by Billy Zane of “Titanic” fame, and Gary Busey of “Point Break,” “Lethal Weapon” and “The Buddy Holly Story.”
With me now to talk about what these guys and Hollywood are thinking is Bill Donahue. He‘s president of the Catholic League. And Grady Hendrix, he‘s a writer for “Daily Variety”‘s Asian movie blog.
Thank you all for being with us.
Grady, you don‘t think Americans should be offended by this movie, do you?
GRADY HENDRIX, “DAILY VARIETY”: Well, I don‘t know about every American, but being a patriotic American myself, I believe in freedom of speech, freedom of association.
HENDRIX: And, for Gary Busey, this is a big step forward from “The Gingerdead Man” that he was in last year.
SCARBOROUGH: So, he‘s playing actually a Jewish doctor that harvests the organs of Arabs. Can you think of a more anti-Semitic setup?
HENDRIX: Well, yes, I can, because that probably reflects poorly on me.
I think a lot has been made about this, and I think viewers should know right off that all three of us are really talking out of our ears, since I don‘t think any of us have seen the film. It‘s just been released. None of us have seen it. All we know about Gary Busey‘s role is that, in the synopsis on the company‘s Web site, it says his character is Jewish.
And being from South Carolina, myself, when I‘m talking to someone or I‘m telling a story, I will sometimes say, oh, this black guy. And someone will look at me and say, why do you have to know he‘s black? And it‘s a cultural thing. Different cultures, they think different things that are worth mentioning.
And I think, in the Middle East, it‘s something when you say someone is a Jew. And I think that raised our eyebrows. But I think, over there, it‘s par for the course and part of the daily way people talk to each other.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, a Jew that harvests the organs of Arabs. Yes, if that‘s par for the course with the way they think, that explains why you have people running airplanes into buildings in America.
Here‘s what these two actors had to say to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY about their role in this movie.
Billy Zane says—quote—“I was fascinated by a compelling character embroiled in a controversial topic that told the story from a different point of view. I will be the first to say that this movie was slanted, heavy-handed, and even harsh. And while I appreciate the healthy debates that accompany these topics, I‘m an actor who plays an intriguing character, not a political pundit.”
And Gary Busey defended his role with a statement through his lawyer, saying: “Do we really want the times to dictate our freedom of expression?”
Well, Bill Donahue, I guess I feel bad for questioning why Gary Busey would star in a film in a Muslim country that portrays Jews as harvesters of Arabs‘ organs, and portrays Americans as war criminals. What‘s wrong with this picture?
WILLIAM DONAHUE, PRESIDENT, CATHOLIC LEAGUE: Well, look, there are people in Hollywood, not all of them, but there are some people who are nothing more than harlots. They will do anything for the buck. They wouldn‘t care.
If you asked them to sodomize their own mother in a movie, they would do so. And they would do it with a smile on their face. It‘s such a cop-out to talk about freedom of expression.
HENDRIX: Really? I think that‘s a founding principle of this country. How is that a cop-out? Do you not appreciate the Constitution and the Bill or Rights?
DONAHUE: Yes, why don‘t you shut up—why don‘t you shut up and let me finish, all right?
HENDRIX: Oh, lord.
DONAHUE: I didn‘t interrupt you, pal.
HENDRIX: We‘re not pals.
DONAHUE: The fact of the matter is that freedom of expression, freedom of speech, which is in the First Amendment, is a means toward an end. It is not an end in itself.
HENDRIX: What do you think the end is?
DONAHUE: It is a mean toward the good society.
And my freedom of speech is also conditioned on you shutting up while I‘m speaking.
Now, you know, we just saw this in the Islamic world, the reaction, the barbaric reaction of so many people in the Muslim world because of a cartoon. I came out with a statement saying, I agree with the United States, Great Britain and the Vatican, saying that it was unnecessarily inflammatory. And I commend the media—even though they‘re hypocritical, the way they act to Catholics—for not reprinting it or showing it.
But the fact of the matter is, I am less interested in Gary Busey than I am in the Turkish officials. I read what the Turkish officials read about the movie. They thought it was great, including the prime minister.
Now, in this country, we are civilized. We don‘t appreciate it when somebody sticks it to you in the name of freedom of speech, sir. We condemn it.
But, over there, they take the uncivilized approach. And then they wonder why so many people don‘t trust the Muslims when it comes to liberty, because they will abuse it. In this country, we prize freedom of religion. They abhor it.
SCARBOROUGH: Grady, talk about that. What a contrast we have here, where, all across the Muslim world, we‘re having riots over one cartoon, and yet here we have a movie that paints Jewish doctors as organ harvesters, and we‘re supposed to sit back and just say, well, that‘s freedom of expression. Isn‘t there a double standard that you are carrying around?
HENDRIX: Well, first off, I don‘t think you can say it paints Jewish doctors as organ harvesters.
This is one character. None of us have seen the film. From what I know from people who have seen it, it‘s not even mentioned in the film that he‘s Jewish. The only two mentions of Judaism in the movie come when there‘s a quick shot of a crate being—of organs being shipped to New York, Tokyo, Paris, and Tel Aviv. And then there‘s a conversation between Billy Zane and Gary Busey, where, without mentioning what religions they are, although you know Billy Zane is a Christian, because he prays an awful lot in the movie, they have a conversation about whose God is tougher.
So, I don‘t think this is a movie—this movie is not selling anti-Semitism.
SCARBOROUGH: But, at the same time, you told me yourself that, on the Web site—you said, on the Web site, yourself, that they explain that he‘s a Jewish doctor. So, what are they doing on the Web site. Just in case the audience members couldn‘t figure out the character that was harvesting organs was Jewish, they went ahead and put it on the Web site?
HENDRIX: Well, I don‘t know.
HENDRIX: I don‘t usually go to a movie‘s Web site before I go and see it.
But I don‘t think they‘re selling anti-Semitism. What they‘re selling is anti-Americanism, which is very popular around the world right now. And it‘s the same thing movie producers do in every country. You find something popular that sells, and you make a movie around it.
SCARBOROUGH: So, do you have any problem with Billy Zane and Gary Busey being in a movie that is so anti-American that our troops are being ordered to stay away from movie theaters showing it because they‘re afraid that American troops may be injured or killed?
HENDRIX: I don‘t think it was a clever thing to do, because I think people like you gentlemen will excoriate them for it and really take them to task for it.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, will you not take them to task for it?
HENDRIX: No, not really . They‘re actors. They‘re not particularly successful actors at this point in their career.
SCARBOROUGH: They have no responsibility?
HENDRIX: Responsibility to what?
SCARBOROUGH: Responsibility to not have Americans killed because they‘re taking part in propaganda.
HENDRIX: Well, wait. Wait. Wait. You think this movie is going to get Americans killed?
HENDRIX: You think this movie is going to get Americans killed?
SCARBOROUGH: Using your logic—well, I will tell you what. That‘s what the Pentagon is saying. They‘re telling our troops to stay away from movie theaters.
SCARBOROUGH: But, using your logic, you‘re saying it would have been OK for Clark Gable to star in a Nazi propaganda film in 1939.
HENDRIX: I don‘t think it would have been smart of him to do, but, as an American, he has that right.
SCARBOROUGH: That would—so, no problem. You would have no problem with that? It just wouldn‘t be the most intelligent career move?
HENDRIX: I don‘t think it would be an intelligent career move, but no, it wouldn‘t offend me personally, because he has a right to do it, as an American. And if I attack that right, then I‘m being un-American.
SCARBOROUGH: So, Bill Donahue, it‘s being un-American.
HENDRIX: No, you can have any opinion about it you want.
SCARBOROUGH: Is this what we have gotten to as an American culture, Bill, that it is un-American for us to be concerned about Americans participating in a foreign film that is so anti-American that our soldiers could face harm because of it?
DONAHUE: You know what‘s un-American, is the idea that we can uncouple rights from responsibilities.
If you take a look what the founders said when they founded this country, certainly, they gave us a Constitution. They gave us a Declaration. They gave us a Bill of Rights attendant to the Constitution.
But they always talked about how the Constitution, as John Adams said, was made only for a moral and religious people. They understood that you had to be responsible. What we‘re getting here now is the idea that freedom means license to do whatever you want.
You know, no wonder the Muslim extremists did go into the streets in Europe, saying, freedom is hatred, because that‘s the interpretation that some people in this country are giving, that freedom means the right to do whatever you want to do. That is a bastardization of freedom, as understood by the founders in this country.
SCARBOROUGH: All right.
DONAHUE: That‘s the real problem.
SCARBOROUGH: Bill Donahue—Bill, we are going to have to leave it there. Thank you for being with us.
Grady, thank you. I disagree with you. But I appreciate...
HENDRIX: It‘s amazing to see some adults get so upset over a movie.
SCARBOROUGH: I appreciate...
DONAHUE: Oh, you‘re a real adult. You have been just great tonight, fellow.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, Grady. Everything goes, Grady. And if you believe that there‘s anything that is offensive out there, that somehow...
HENDRIX: Oh, you guys are good at this shouting and putting words in people‘s mouths.
DONAHUE: And you don‘t think this is anti-Semitic?
SCARBOROUGH: Whatever, Grady. All right. Well, thanks, Grady.
HENDRIX: Whatever? What, are you a teenage girl?
SCARBOROUGH: Good to have you guys on.
Continue the insults off air, Grady.
And, no, there was no screaming here, just somebody that is very concerned about our safety, the safety of our troops overseas. I guess, though, that makes me childish.
When we come back, Kelly Clarkson walks off with two Grammys, but turns her back on “American Idol.” Talk about childish. Maybe she will sing a different tune after she sees the ratings and sees that these amateurs whipped the pros‘ butts. Should the music industry be worried about it? The answer, yes.
And did you ever wonder if that book scandal hurt Oprah? Well, we are going to talk about her megabucks deal, $50 million, in fact, with our all-star radio panel coming up straight ahead.
SCARBOROUGH: Reality TV takes down Hollywood, as amateurs like Taylor
Hicks, Jared Simmons (ph) and Paris Bennett out-rated Madonna, U2 and
Coldplay in the Grammys. What is going on? We will talk about that and the Kelly Clarkson dustup coming up.
But, first, here is the latest news you and your family need to know.
SCARBOROUGH: Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
Last night was music‘s biggest night of the year, the Grammy Awards. But guess who stole the show? “American Idol.” Former “Idol” winner Kelly Clarkson won the first award of the night. And see if you can pick up who she left out of her acceptance speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY CLARKSON, SINGER: Thank you so much, mom. I‘m sorry I‘m crying again on national television. But thank you to the fans. Thank you for everyone that worked on my record. Yikes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Thanks to my puppy dog. Thanks to my next-door neighbor Jimmy. Thanks to, who else? Let‘s see. I can‘t think of anybody else. What? She didn‘t even thank the show that launched her career.
But don‘t feel too bad for “American Idol.” Last night‘s show—this is unbelievable—last night‘s show crushed the Grammys. The amateurs whipped the pros, rating 28.3 million viewers, almost double the 15 million who watched Madonna, U2, Coldplay, and the professionals on the Grammys.
So, should the corporate music scene in Hollywood be scared to death?
With me now to talk about “Idol”‘s monster night is radio talk show Michael Smerconish, “TIME” magazine arts editor Belinda Luscombe. And we also have with us Ruth Hilton. She‘s senior editor of “OK!” magazine.
Belinda, let me start with you.
Is this the death of corporate Hollywood?
BELINDA LUSCOMBE, ARTS EDITOR, “TIME”: Oh, corporate Hollywood is a pretty healthy base. It will take more than this to kill it, I‘m pretty sure.
I think what‘s happening here is that a lot people would prefer to see people sing badly on TV than sing people—watch people they already know can sing on TV. There‘s just a lot more drama in “American Idol.” Watching the Grammys is like watching wedding speeches. It‘s just deadly.
SCARBOROUGH: But, at the same time, though, you have got to admit, a lot of the spontaneity that used to be in the music scene in the ‘60s and ‘70s has been squeezed out by this corporate culture that‘s just so boring and predictable in Hollywood, right?
LUSCOMBE: Well, that‘s true.
Of course, I‘m not old enough to remember the ‘60s and ‘70s.
LUSCOMBE: But the—music is on the defensive. It‘s an industry that is in decline. And they need stuff like “American Idol.” It‘s the ray of hope.
But I think it‘s significant that Kelly has completely backpedaled from her “American Idol” position. She doesn‘t—she‘s not represented by the “American Idol” people anymore. She has whole new management. And she -- she more or less repudiates—not exactly repudiates, but does not talk a lot about that show.
SCARBOROUGH: Michael Smerconish, what does it mean when reality TV overtakes reality?
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, it makes me a little bit nervous.
I‘m not a stick in the mud. At least I hope not. I will watch “American Idol,” but there‘s something distressing, Joe, when “Idol” is the lead-in for the State of the Union address. And on the network that telecasts “Idol,” they leave the president with 30 million viewers, and, 30 minutes later, it‘s down to 9.5 million.
I mean, people have more of an appetite for “American Idol” than they do for hard news. And that upsets a news junky like me. I mean, here we are tonight. We have dealt with the Boston murder, which fascinates me. You have got this anti-Semitic movie that you just discussed. And, watch, I will bet your ratings are about to go bang, talking about “American Idol,” because people love train wrecks. And this is a train wreck.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Michael, what does it say about our culture that “American Idol” draws three times the amount that the president of the United States draws?
SMERCONISH: Yes. Nothing good, Joe.
And I have to tell you something else. Kelly Clarkson, please bring me back in five years, because I bet we will be sitting here, scratching our heads, saying, Kelly who? None of these people have staying power.
Staying power, those are the corporate giants that you talked about, U2, and the Stones, and Elton John, who led 2005 in terms of touring revenue. So, we can talk all about these pop artists, but none of them are going to last, at least in my view.
SCARBOROUGH: Ruth, let‘s take a look at some of the performers that “Idol” beat out last night.
During the hour “Idol” was on, viewers clicked away from acts like Madonna. I say acts, just music legends. U2, Coldplay, and speaking of legends, and John Legend. Instead, they chose performers with names like Taylor Hicks, Jared Simmons (ph), Melissa Lucas (ph), and Paris Bennett.
What does it mean, Ruth?
RUTH HILTON, SENIOR EDITOR, “OK!”: Well, I mean, “American Idol” is like the perfect dynamite entertainment show, and what we want to see on TV is dynamite entertainment.
The Grammys is not dynamite entertainment. It‘s a lot of stopping and starting. It‘s an awards ceremony. And it‘s—by nature of being an awards ceremony, there is lots stopping and starting. And it doesn‘t have the pace.
What they can do with “American Idol” is, it‘s all historic. They can edit the best bits. And not every word said at the Grammys last night was scintillating. Every minute that made it on to TV on “American Idol” last night was scintillating.
Now, U2 in concert, I mean, that‘s an incredible proposition. I saw them at Madison Square Garden recently. My God, they are one of the best bands in the world, and they will continue to have those revenues.
But “American Idol,” it‘s a TV show on TV. It‘s a phenomenon and it‘s validated, actually, by the fact that Kelly Clarkson won two Grammys last night. Her last album, whatever anyone may say, I think was a fantastic album, a really good pop rock album. And I think some of the songs from there will be remembered, actually, in a few years‘ time. I think she‘s got a great start. And it makes “American Idol” look all the better, when you have got a Grammy winner simultaneously on the rival channel. It‘s fantastic.
SCARBOROUGH: Quick predictions.
Belinda, how long will this “American Idol” juggernaut continue to dominate TV and pop culture?
LUSCOMBE: Well, everybody, first up, prefers the bad singers to the good singers.
So, once they start to get to the last 12, the ratings do track off a little bit. Everybody loves to see those really obnoxious twins. Now, as long as they‘re on, “American Idol” is going to do well. It‘s all about casting. But I think “American Idol” has got a few good seasons in it yet. Reality TV is really a legitimate form of television, and it‘s with us to stay.
SMERCONISH: As soon as we run out of folks willing to come on and humiliate themselves, then I think “American Idol” starts to—to dissipate in the ratings.
I mean, Joe, it‘s like those goofy video shows, you know, where kids are always getting hurt and falling off their bikes and so forth. People love watching it. God forbid if there‘s an accident on the Schuylkill Expressway when I drive home tonight. We are all going to slow down and rubberneck. It‘s the same thing with “Idol.”
Ruth, what is your prediction for “Idol”?
HILTON: As long as Simon Cowell is on that show—and believe you me, he will—he‘s on—he‘s contracted I think for another five years or something crazy—that show is going to continue. And there are never-ending rows of people who want famousness—who want overnight success. That show will end when Simon walks.
SCARBOROUGH: You‘re right, Ruth.
And, as Michael said, as long as people are willing to go on TV and humiliate themselves—and, as I prove every night, there are a lot of people that are willing to do that.
SCARBOROUGH: Thank you, Belinda, for being with us.
Michael, as always, great job. And thanks for filling in for me last week.
SMERCONISH: Oh, a privilege. Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: Great job.
And, Ruth Hilton, thank you so much for being with us again.
And, right now, I‘m joined by, actually, the first “American Idol” winner, Tucker Carlson.
He‘s the host of “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON.”
Tucker, what is the situation tonight?
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON”: A little known fact, Joe.
Well, we have conducted a nationwide search for the most corrupt town in America. Providence, Rhode Island, pretty bad. Newark, New Jersey, pretty bad. Washington, D.C., pretty bad, but not the worst. We have found a town in which the chief of police is accused of selling crystal meth.
CARLSON: In which his wife is accused of sleeping with prison inmates and burglarizing homes, in which the mayor is accused of taking inmates out of the prison to fix his air conditioner. This place is out of control. We are talking to the prosecutor who has brought charges. It‘s one of the most amusing stories I have seen in a long time. I—I literally can‘t wait.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s amusing unless you live there.
CARLSON: Good point.
SCARBOROUGH: Thanks, Tucker. Appreciate it.
CARLSON: Thanks, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: And make sure you tune in to “THE SITUATION,” coming up next at 11:00. Maybe Tucker will sing us the song that made him “American Idol.”
And, coming up next, what do President Bush, Howard Dean and Oprah have in common? They‘re all fair game for our radio host rumble coming up next.
Hey, that‘s Lionel. That‘s Lionel. We will be right back in a minute in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Now it is time for SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY‘s radio rumble, where we invite the top radio talk show hosts in America to debate the stories you‘re talking about.
With us tonight, Neal Boortz, whose program is syndicated on over 150 stations. And, man, he had a runaway best-seller on the fair tax. Jill Pike, co-host of “The Young Turks” on satellite radio, the Internet, and syndicated as well. And also with us, Lionel, host of “The Lionel Show” on WOR in New York and on stations coast to coast.
Let me start—want to start with you, Jill. What did you think about President Bush‘s speech he gave today, talking about our success in stopping an al Qaeda plot on the tallest building on the West Coast?
JILL PIKE, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, I think it was incredibly interesting that we haven‘t heard about that before. But, right in the middle of the NSA spying scandal, it‘s come out today.
I don‘t know. People are going to make their down conclusions about whether this warrantless wiretapping had anything to do with it. But, again, he didn‘t mention that in his speech, but people are already drawing conclusions.
My question remains, why didn‘t we hear about this before?
SCARBOROUGH: Well, here‘s part of what he said. Let‘s take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Their plot was derailed in early 2002, when a Southeast Asian nation arrested a key al Qaeda operative. Subsequent debriefings and other intelligence operations made clear the intended target and how al Qaeda hoped to execute it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: So, Jill, are you saying the president‘s statement today was meant to diffuse the NSA spying scandal?
PIKE: I do.
I think it was brought out today to maybe remind everyone that attacks are still lurking, that the administration is strong, in their eyes, in protecting us, and that some of the things that they‘re trying to do right now to protect us that some are arguing that are unconstitutional might work. He didn‘t draw any conclusions, but already today on many talk shows and in the papers, they‘re trying to tie in the warrantless wiretapping to the possibility that maybe it helped in thwarting these attacks.
But, again, I‘m just curious, why did he never talk about these—the fact that we thwarted these attacks beforehand? I mean, they happened over two years ago.
SCARBOROUGH: Neal Boortz, what is the answer to that? Is it all politically timed to protect him on the NSA front?
NEAL BOORTZ, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, I‘m sure that‘s part of it. Pardon the helicopter. I hope it‘s one of ours. And thank you for letting me talk before Lionel. This is the last I will probably be able to get a word in here.
LIONEL, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I love you, too, Neal.
BOORTZ: But—I mean, once Lionel—yes, once Lionel gets started, it‘s over for Jill and me.
But the question, why haven‘t we heard about it earlier, we don‘t know all the nuances and intricacies of this thing. There may have been ongoing investigations, other people associated with the plot that we‘re looking at and watching.
Why didn‘t we learn that we decoded the Enigma machine earlier during World War II? These are all good questions. I—it was curious, though, that he did not in any way tie this to this wiretapping scandal, which, by the way, before Lionel gets me started, let me say is not domestic wiretapping.
Lionel, it‘s time to just light the fuse and let you go.
BOORTZ: Here we go.
SCARBOROUGH: What do you think?
Here we go. Take a deep breath, everybody.
Lionel, what do you think about the president‘s speech today?
LIONEL: Joe—Joe—and I mean that—I was listening today, asking myself, what is the president saying?
Let me get this straight. In early 2002, about four years ago, Southeast Asian authorities may have, in fact, seized, captured four southeast Asians from some country we don‘t know, and thwarted and foiled an attempt to fly a plane into, as he calls it, the Liberty Tower—actually, the Library Tower.
Now, what did the U.S. have to do with this? Nothing. What did our CIA do? Nothing. Did it involve wireless—or warrantless wiretaps? No. It has to do with the concerted efforts of some other country. So, again, we didn‘t know that they were going to fly planes into another building of ours.
So, I enjoy hearing our guests speak. How could anybody infer anything from basically a congratulatory speech to members of an unknown country who caught four unknown people?
SCARBOROUGH: Neal Boortz, you‘re laughing.
BOORTZ: Oh. That‘s great. That‘s great, Lionel. America and Los Angeles get saved by the Kuala Lumpur secret police. Only Lionel could come up with a line like that.
LIONEL: We didn‘t do anything.
BOORTZ: Why didn‘t George Bush—what—oh, right, Lionel. George Bush is going to set it all out.
LIONEL: I have got his speech right here.
BOORTZ: The CIA did this.
LIONEL: He never said—he mentioned another country.
BOORTZ: Oh, Lionel, love you long time, pal.
LIONEL: I‘m glad. I‘m glad.
LIONEL: No, no. You laugh, Neal, and I don‘t blame you, because I got you here.
BOORTZ: No. No. Look...
LIONEL: What did this speech tell us?
BOORTZ: Now, Lionel, come on.
LIONEL: No, you come on.
BOORTZ: You‘re in talk radio. You ought to—see what I mean?
You ought to know, Lionel, you don‘t say everything you know every time you open your mouth.
BOORTZ: Did you expect George Bush to lay out the entire intelligence coup that stopped this attack?
LIONEL: Neal, with all due respect, why didn‘t the president say, and in addition to this unknown Southeast Asian country, and in addition to the efforts of this unknown agency, we had something to do with it also; good for the USA?
That‘s not revealing...
SCARBOROUGH: Gentlemen, stay with us. Hold that thought.
When we come back, I want to talk to Jill.
SCARBOROUGH: We got a lot more coming up straight ahead—when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: We are back with our all-star radio panel.
Let‘s go to Jill Pike right now.
Jill, you know, two weeks ago, Oprah was in a book club scandal. Now she signs a $55 million deal. Not a bad job, is it?
PIKE: No, no. She‘s doing a swell job. And I think it‘s great, the deal she made today with XM Radio.
She‘s a corporation within herself, as we all know. And I think any avenue and any outlet she can get on, she should do. Millions of American adore her and love her. And we can see that by how disappointed everyone felt when she was lied to on national TV by someone that she virtually made famous.
SCARBOROUGH: Neal Boortz, a scandal followed by a $55 million payday, not bad, huh?
BOORTZ: Hey, she completely ignored my book. I hope the battery in that satellite fails.
SCARBOROUGH: What about you? What about you, Lionel?
LIONEL: What about me? That‘s a good question, Joe.
LIONEL: Joe, I think you should get the multimillion-dollar radio deal, as far as I‘m concerned.
But Oprah is fantastic. She basically—let me tell you how good she is. First of all, Oprah convinced us years ago that she was skinny. Remember that?
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. That was a good one.
LIONEL: She lost about 120,000 pounds, gained it all back, and we still see her as thin.
LIONEL: I love her to death.
Number two, she basically has a liar on her show. She makes a fool out of herself on TV, justifying this Frey fellow. And did you know, Joe, do you know that they actually tapped into the first few minutes of “Anderson Cooper”? They would never do that to you.
LIONEL: And his book now is number one.
And now she‘s on satellite radio. I don‘t know about you, Joe, but I want more Oprah.
SCARBOROUGH: More Oprah.
LIONEL: All Oprah all the time.
SCARBOROUGH: Baby, all Oprah all the time, just like all Lionel all the time.
Hey, Neal, Jill, and Lionel, thanks so much for being with us. Hope you can come back next week. Greatly appreciate it.
And we will be right back in a second.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, friends, I have asked you to help our troops before. I‘m going to ask you again. It‘s so important.
The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund is on a mission to help complete construction of a state-of-the-art rehabilitation facility for severely injured veterans. We need to raise $10 million, and do it quickly, and need your help. Please, help.
Now let‘s go to Tucker Carlson for “THE SITUATION.”
Tucker, what‘s the situation tonight?
CARLSON: Thank you, Joe.
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