Guest: Michael Musto
BRIAN UNGER, HOST: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Remembering the war dead as war still rages. Horrible reminders in Iraq. Car bombs, dozens killed, including a soldier and members of CBS News. Horrible reminders in Afghanistan. A car accident with U.S. forces sparks violent riots in the streets.
And the unselfish service of the servicemen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PC. STEVEN CLARK, U.S. ARMY: There‘s nothing that‘s going to keep me from doing my job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNGER: Three Purple Hearts later, why Army Specialist Steven Clark still decides to keep going back to Iraq.
The waiting game is over. Barry Bonds finally passes Ruth. But did divine intervention knock his big moment off the radio?
And we can exhale for the Brangelina baby. Shiloh has arrived, and is no doubt already cracking under the pressure of being the spawn of the hottest humans alive.
And the festival of all festivals, the event of all events, the Great Cheese Roll. And luckily, our cameras are there.
All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.
Good evening. I‘m Brian Unger, filling in for Keith Olbermann.
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, on a day of ceremony that demonstrates America‘s resolve for ideals like liberty, freedom, and sacrifice, conditions on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan remind us, perhaps more vividly, the stark reality of a nation at war and the lives taken by it.
As President Bush laid a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery and called on the nation to remember those who lost their lives defending this country, came news of another horrific attack on U.S. troops in Iraq, a suicide bomber killing one American soldier and two CBS journalists, a third journalist left fighting for her life.
And all this on a day where a dozen different attacks left nearly 50 other people dead in that country, and when the worst riots since 2001 broke out in Afghanistan.
More on that and the progress on the war on terror this Memorial Day in a moment.
First, our correspondent in Baghdad is Richard Engel. Richard?
RICHARD ENGEL, MSNBC MIDDLE EAST CORRESPONDENT: Brian, U.S. military officials say the CBS crew was on patrol with the U.S. Army‘s 4th Infantry Division here in Baghdad. The patrol came to a stop. The crew got out to film. And that‘s when they were attacked by a suicide car bomb.
(voice-over): It was 11:00 a.m. this morning when the CBS crew was filming in this square in central Baghdad. A suicide bomber slammed into their patrol. Moments later, cameraman Paul Douglas, sound engineer James Brolan, and an American soldier were dead.
Douglas was a CBS veteran with experience in war zones in Afghanistan, Rwanda, and Bosnia. Friends said he was gentle and fearless, a big bear of a guy. Tonight, soundman Brolan‘s family described the father of two as the “best dad, husband, and mate to be with in a tight spot.”
Correspondent Kimberly Dozier was critically injured by shrapnel. Dozier has been CBS‘s primary correspondent in Iraq for three years. Her brother had worried she was spending too much time in Iraq.
MICHAEL DOZIER, BROTHER: She‘s not careless about what she does. She is quite cautious. But you always run that risk. And it‘s just—it was just her time.
ENGEL: In a statement, CBS said Dozier was believed to have been wearing protective equipment and underwent surgery at a U.S. military hospital in Baghdad.
BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS NEWS: These people went there to tell this story, so we would have this story, and we would know what was going on. And it‘s very dangerous business. This is one of the most dangerous wars for journalists that we‘ve ever fought.
ENGEL: But reporters were just a few of the victims today. It was the deadliest day in Baghdad since a new government was sworn in a week ago, with more than 12 attacks. The victims, university students, Iraqi soldiers, passengers on a bus, and worshipers outside a mosque.
On U.S. military bases, American troops commemorated Memorial Day as they learned that a U.S. soldier was killed alongside the CBS crew.
ENGEL: Dozier‘s family said tonight, she has already undergone two operations, and that preparations are underway to evacuate her to a U.S. military hospital in Germany, Brian.
UNGER: Richard Engel in Baghdad. Thank you.
Now to Afghanistan, where a traffic accident involving American soldiers sparked a citywide riot in the capital, Kabul, in a rampage that‘s left at least eight people dead, dozens injured.
Our correspondent is Keith Miller.
KEITH MILLER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.S. soldiers fired into the air to warn off an angry, stone-throwing mob. Moments earlier, a cargo truck in a U.S. military convoy lost control, smashing into cars stuck in traffic, killing three people, according to police, and injuring 16.
TOM COLLINS, U.S. MILITARY SPOKESMAN: There are indications that at least one coalition military vehicle fired warning shots over the crowd.
MILLER: Rumors that Americans were firing on civilians inflamed the crowd.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are killing people. Their (INAUDIBLE) break our hearts.
MILLER: And what started as a protest degenerated into a riot. Police used automatic weapons to try and disperse thousands of people ransacking downtown Kabul. The office of CARE International was set on fire.
In all, eight people were reported killed, and more than 100 injured. A breakaway group tried to march on the U.S. embassy chanting, “Death to America.”
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want America out of this country. We hate America.
MILLER: Inside the embassy, staff were moved to a safe zone.
President Hamid Karzai went on national television tonight, calling the rioters agitators.
AYESHA KHAN, CHATHAM HOUSE ASSOCIATE FELLOW: That it was spontaneous and it was so violent is perplexing, but it‘s also a wakeup call. I mean, it needs to be taken seriously.
MILLER (on camera): Tonight, Afghan troops backed up by NATO are patrolling the capital, and an overnight curfew has been declared to help to maintain calm.
Keith Miller, NBC News, London.
UNGER: And while U.S. officials try and figure out what happened in Afghanistan, Congress is launching an investigation into an alleged attack by civilians by U.S. Marines in Iraq.
After Marine Lance Corporal Miguel Tarantez (ph) was killed by a roadside bomb in the town of Haditha in November 2005, fellow Marines reportedly shot between 15 and 24 civilians, including women and children. The Pentagon is still investigating whether there was any wrongdoing, but some in Congress want to know why it took so long for the incident to come to light.
Among the most vocal, Congressman John Murtha, who told ABC News that the attack and, more importantly, the apparent coverup needs to be investigated immediately.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THIS WEEK,” ABC)
REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), ILLINOIS: There‘s no question about what
happened. And the problem is, who covered it up, and why did they cover it
up? Why did they wait so long? This has been six months since this
happened. It‘s very simple, they went out and the next day, they knew
there was something wrong. Two or three days later, they decided that this
that these people were murdered.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST: So who do you blame for the coverup?
MURTHA: Well, that‘s what we‘re trying to figure out. We don‘t know how far it goes. I mean, it goes up right up the chain of command, right up to General Pace. When did he know about it? Did he order the coverup? Who ordered the coverup? I‘m sure he didn‘t, but what—who said, We‘re not going to publicize this thing, we‘re not even going to investigate it? Until March, there was no serious investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNGER: I‘m joined now by retired Army colonel Jack Jacobs.
Thank you, sir, for joining us, and thank you for your service.
COL. JACK JACOBS (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Thank you.
UNGER: (INAUDIBLE) should say that.
This is our fourth Memorial Day in this, the war on terror, since we liberated Afghanistan from the Taliban, since our invasion of Iraq. And this is also a Memorial Day that feels very different from some of the others, even from the one that we had last year.
Am I wrong in presuming that, that it feels different, or is there really something else happening here?
JACOBS: No, I think it both feels different, and there is something else happening here. You know, last year at this time, we‘d been in Iraq, what, two years or so, and now we‘re three years. That‘s 50 percent longer.
There‘s been huge amounts of public opprobrium heaped on the administration, and specifically the secretary of defense. That hasn‘t happened before. The president of the United States himself has said that we‘re going to draw down, we‘re not leaving tomorrow, but we‘re eventually going to come home, that it‘s the Iraqis‘ war now, and they‘re going to have to get with the program.
And this is an election year. President‘s own party is now starting to distance themselves from him in an attempt to make sure that they don‘t get tainted with Iraq. Yes, it‘s very much different this year than last year.
UNGER: But do these images that we see, and we have seen a lot of unrest today, we have seen images from—or mass casualties coming out of Iraq, and we have seen a lot of instability in Afghanistan. We‘ve seen journalists die from CBS News, a couple of journalists from the Associated Press were beaten. We have congressional investigations into what has occurred in—at Haditha.
Is it that we‘re drawing more vivid images, starker images, from this war, or is it merely political, that the election in November is forcing us to look at the war in a different way?
JACOBS: Well, I think it‘s a little of both. You know, war is really rotten, and no amount of covering it up is going to make it any better than it really is. It‘s a surreal exercise, to say the least.
I think we‘re very much focused on what‘s happening there now, much more than we were before. I think the realization that, in fact, the original objectives are not going to be achieved, we‘re going to have to be satisfied with something significantly less than ultimate victory, the victory that the president declared shortly after the statute came down.
I think all that is contributing to our focusing on different kinds of things about the war, the nuts and bolts of the war, much more than we did earlier.
UNGER: And is the nuts and the bolts of this war, are they making us feel like there is progress being made, or are we more uneasy about the hope of getting out, (INAUDIBLE)...
JACOBS: Well, I think they‘re not mutually exclusive. There is a lot of progress being made, and in a lot of places, particularly up in the north, and even down in the south, where there had been some problems with the Brits in Basra and so on. There‘s a great deal of progress being made.
The problem areas are still the Sunni triangle. That doesn‘t make it any better. But most of the country‘s in fairly good shape and getting better.
Having said all that, the way to win the war was to do it much differently than we did it. And so we‘re—that is, to conduct a proper counterguerrilla campaign, and we knew exactly how to do it, but we weren‘t willing to commit the forces to do it. And now we‘re going to have to be satisfied with something significantly less than victory.
It‘s a bitter pill, but we‘re going to have to swallow it. We‘re going to have to do the best we can and make sure that the Iraqis can do the best they can. But the end of the day, the administration itself has already said that we‘re going home.
UNGER: Let me ask you something, and you‘ve listened and seen a lot of profiles of soldiers who are serving in what are some of the second and third and fourth tours here. And while we remember their (INAUDIBLE) --
(INAUDIBLE) we‘re—we admire their service, and we remember the fallen, are troops being overstretched here? There is an underlying story that goes with those third and fourth tours. And in association, are we seeing people—the American public getting tired of these images and growing tired?
JACOBS: Oh, I think we‘re tired of the images. I mean, we‘re tired of the unsatisfactory nature of the employment of the force. I think a lot of people, both politicians and laypeople, have come to the conclusion that we squandered the resource that is our force in an attempt to do something on the cheap. And that‘s exactly what‘s happened.
Overstretched? You bet we‘re overstretched. About 40 to 45 percent of the force over there in Iraq are Reserve and Guard. This is not what they were designed to do. We‘ve got commitments in dozens and dozens of countries around the globe. It‘s extremely difficult to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to do the things we need to do in other places as well.
We have a very small force that‘s—you know, it‘s 1.6 million, it‘s not very many, supporting a country, keeping free a country of almost 300 million people. You can‘t do it that way. That‘s doing it on the cheap. And we‘re paying the price for that.
And those—I think it grinds the public down. I think we are tired of seeing our force used in that fashion. And that‘s contributed in a major way to the disaffection that you see, not only among laypeople, but also inside the service.
UNGER: It‘s a day of remembrance and a day of changing conditions on the ground that still appear very dangerous and lethal.
JACOBS: Yes, and it‘s not going to get any safer, I can tell you that.
UNGER: Colonel Jack Jacobs, as always, thank you so much for being with us. And again, thank you for your service.
JACOBS: You‘re welcome.
UNGER: From the broader story of the war to the individual acts of heroism. One soldier, three Purple Hearts, and an unflinching desire to finish the job in Iraq.
And then, the month of May brings top-notch undercover investigative work from television newsrooms across the country. We‘ll bring you the one story that begs to be seen by a national audience. Set your TiVo, gather your friends who are over 18 years of age. You won‘t forget this caught-on-tape extravaganza.
You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
UNGER: There is no question that Memorial Day has a special resonance when the country is at war. Nearly 2,500 men and women have died in Iraq. More than 18,000 Americans have been wounded there, many of them more than once.
But for one man, there is no question about continuing the fight.
In our fourth story on COUNTDOWN tonight, he is a soldier in the U.S. Army, and he has already earned three Purple Hearts. His heart and mind still in the battle.
Our correspondent is Jim Maceda.
JIM MACEDA, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Steven Clark is a 25-year-old U.S. Army specialist in counterintelligence, when he‘s not recovering from his latest war wound.
SPC. STEVEN CLARK, U.S. ARMY: There‘s nothing that‘s going to keep me from doing my job.
MACEDA: With three Purple Hearts—a fourth is pending—Clark has ambushed, shot by a sniper, and an insurgent gunman at point-blank range.
CLARK: The round was actually stopped by a brass badge that was in my pocket at the time.
MACEDA: He‘s lost a kidney and carries a grenade-full of shrapnel inside him.
CLARK: From my ankle, back of both calves, back of both thighs, my lower back, my right arm.
MACEDA: He could have taken the military option and gone home for good. But he‘s back for a second tour of duty, in the heart of the so-called triangle of death south of Baghdad. His commander calls him an inspiration.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Courage, courage, and believing in what he does.
MACEDA: He‘s a hero for fellow soldiers, who still kid about keeping their distance.
SGT. NICK HAYNES, 101ST AIRBORNE DIVISION: You know, it‘s always a joke amongst the commanders. Oh, I don‘t want Clark in my convoy or whatnot, but I feel pretty comfortable.
MACEDA (on camera): Clark‘s buddies insist he‘s not the cowboy type, he doesn‘t look for trouble or for the limelight. Things just seem to happen to Specialist Steven Clark, who is either very unlucky, or very lucky. Your call.
(voice-over): Clark says a deep faith in God and a close-knit family back in Fitzgerald, Georgia, are key to what makes him tick. Earlier this year, he was honored at his local church, and spent time with his heroes, Billy, his father, a Vietnam vet, and older brother, William, also in the service.
BILLY CLARK, STEVEN‘S FATHER: It‘s just a miracle he‘s still with us.
WILLIAM CLARK, STEVEN‘S BROTHER: It worries me, but—and I try and talk him out of it.
MACEDA: But they know he has a mission to complete.
STEVEN CLARK: To turn away now would be to accept failure. Me as an American, and I believe that all Americans believe you cannot accept failure.
MACEDA: No matter how many close calls it seems, or Purple Hearts.
Jim Maceda, NBC News, Mahmoudia (ph), Iraq.
UNGER: And then, of course, there are the close calls in Great Britain‘s Annual Freak Festival, a cheese wheel, a hill, and the burning question, who caught the cheese?
And the worldwide fascination with the baby that is Shiloh. Americans and Namibians rejoice at the coming of the child of Brad and Angelina.
UNGER: I‘m Brian Unger, in for Keith Olbermann on this Memorial Day.
And while most of you are probably enjoying the last bit of a three-day weekend, we remind you that weird news never takes a day off.
And thus, neither does Oddball.
And this is what Oddball would miss if it took a day off. It‘s the annual festival of tumbling dairy products and compound leg fractures that is the Gloucestershire Cheese Roll. It‘s the English tradition, as steeped in history as it is in stupidity.
Thousands gather at Coopers Hill to watch a few dozen drunken idiots risk ever walking again to chase a big cheese wheel down a dangerous embankment for fun and prizes. And oh, what prizes. The winners get to keep the seven-pound wheel of cheese. The loser, most of them get wheelchairs.
But it‘s all in good fun. The important this is that fans had a chance to get drunk and see somebody really, really hurt themselves.
And now to Chicago, Hog Butcher for the World, the City with Big Shoulders and huge fat men in diapers lumbering down Michigan Avenue in broad daylight. That is sexy. It‘s the Big Parade of Sumos to celebrate the wrestling megatour in Chicago over the weekend. Thirteen big boys made the trip down to Water Tower Park, got weighed publicly, then all shared a good cry before heading back to the arena to pound the crap out of each other.
The tour moves on to Florida now. They‘ll travel by rail, each man in his very own boxcar.
And finally, to Lakinpur (ph), India, home of the Scorpion Girl. And there she is, chasing the moonlight, my Scorpion Girl. She‘s just 3 years old and clearly lacking any meaningful adult supervision because she‘s been playing with the deadly insects for months now, and everyone seems to think it‘s just the cutest darn thing they‘re ever going to see.
And you know what? They‘re right. Just look at her.
You get a lot of free things at the library, free books, free videos, free Internet access. But that doesn‘t give you free reign to pretend you‘re in the privacy of your own bedroom. Caught on tape, and you‘ll want to shower afterward.
And Barry Bonds‘ quest for home run history. In the stands, it was all cheers. On the radio, well, that left a whole lot to be desired.
Those stories ahead.
But first, here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers of this day.
Number three, an unidentified security guard in Middletown, Pennsylvania. Officials say he was playing a Gameboy on the job and was so focused on it that he failed to notice people entering the facility. They were safety inspectors. He works at Three Mile Island nuclear power plant. But, you know, I‘m sure it‘s still very safe.
Number two, the Florida Marlins baseball team is part of a promotion for Jewish Heritage Day. They gave out T-shirts with the name and number of their player Mike Jacobs on the back. Only problem is, he‘s not Jewish. Jacobs says the team just assumed he was.
And number one, three unnamed burglars in Warren, Ohio. They were arrested after trying to break into a home there this weekend. At the time of their arrest, the 2-year-old son of one of the suspects was found asleep in the back seat of the car. The father told police he couldn‘t find a babysitter, so he brought the kid along on the caper. Well, it was a holiday weekend.
UNGER: Now, depending on how you look at it, the Cleveland Public Library system is either the best lender book library in the country or the dirtiest. A place where, in our third story on the COUNTDOWN, self-expression may have gotten a bit out of control, repeatedly. Not exactly master of his own domain at the computer, sat Mike Cooper, a library lover for sure, caught on tape enjoying the kind of activity best suited for one‘s own home, or locked bathroom. I‘d like to warn viewers, especially my five and 6-year-old nieces to turn away from the TV. For the rest of you, I‘ll let correspondent Carl Monday of our Cleveland affiliate, WKYC, fill you in on all the x-rated details.
COLLEN BECKFORD, LIBRARY PATRON: And those mountains right over here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right, normally you float over the water.
CARL MONDAY, WKYC REPORTER (voice-over): For 6-year-old Collen Beckford, the library is a life-long learning experience.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But if you went way down, there‘s mountains way down under the water. Cool, huh?
MONDAY: A seemingly safe and secure environment that puts his mom at ease.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We‘ve never had any problems or any issues.
MONDAY: After all, there are security systems in place. And a security guard on duty. And a screening system to foil, what the Cleveland library says is its biggest crime, the theft of books.
MELVIN ABRAHMS, ASSISTANT SECURITY CHIEF: That‘s our biggest thing is people trying to take books out of here or movies.
MONDAY: But book theft may be the least of the security problems. We reviewed incident reports from libraries in Cleveland and throughout Cuyahoga County. Just the past six months, we found more than 50 cases of violence, pornography, and sex, a patron robbed at gunpoint, a man downloading and printing child porn, used condoms found on the computer room floor, teens having sex on a sink in the men‘s room, teens having oral sex, male fondles self while looking at a 13-year-old girl.
JOHN DUNN, LIBRARY SECURITY: We have a spectrum of problem behaves, some of which is criminal, some of it is not.
MONDAY: Former FBI agent, John Dunn, runs security at the county‘s library‘s 28 branches.
DUNN: We have, I think, all the typical ingredients that attach to having almost unlimited public access.
MONDAY: That includes public access to the computer for patrons like 23-year-old Mike Cooper.
MONDAY (on camera): You, what do you look up on the Internet?
MIKE COOPER, LIBRARY MASTURBATOR: Nothing really. Sports scores, stuff like that.
MONDAY: Sports, pornography, stuff like that?
COOPER: No. Why?
MONDAY: I don‘t know why. You tell me why.
COOPER: I don‘t look up pornography. So no.
MONDAY (voice-over): For some, pursuing the porn sites is a favorite pastime at local libraries, sometimes with young children just a few feet away, our undercover cameras and library incident reports back us up. But sometimes it‘s more than just looking. It‘s a public library all right. But it‘s not a place where patrons should be acting out their private fantasies. Can you think of any time when a patron sitting at a computer and watching porn and masturbating would be acceptable behavior?
DUNN: Absolutely not.
MONDAY: Criminal behavior?
DUNN: It could be, certainly, absolutely.
MONDAY (on camera): You ever perform a sexual act at the library?
COOPER: No, I have not.
MONDAY: What if I told you we have video of you performing a sexual act?
COOPER: Well, it wasn‘t me.
MONDAY (voice-over): We can‘t really show you, but that‘s Mike Cooper pleasuring himself watching porn at the Berea Library, just across the room from the children‘s section. Take our word for it, and his.
(on camera): And you just reached down and grabbed yourself and started having sex.
COOPER: I did what I—I wasn‘t thinking. I made a mistake.
MONDAY: So, we‘ve seen adults having sex in the library.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god. That‘s horrible.
MONDAY: Based on the fact there are guys out there doing this kind of thing, you think parents ought to be a little more careful letting their kids at the library alone?
COOPER: Yeah. Yes.
MONDAY: I mean, if you were a parent, wouldn‘t you be afraid of a guy like you?
COOPER: I‘m not a sexual predator or anything. Yeah, I would be afraid.
MONDAY (voice-over): If Mike Cooper doesn‘t trust himself, should we? Well, apparently the Berea Library does.
(on camera): Was he pleasuring himself when you saw him last time?
CINDY BEREZNAY, BEREA LIBRARY MANAGER: Yeah.
MONDAY (voice-over): Berea Library manager, Cindy Bereznay says they caught Cooper in the act a few years ago.
BEREZNAY: I told him I would have to call the police if it continued.
MONDAY: And Cooper ran out of the building.
DUNN: We want people here, we leave people alone. We do not bother people unless and until they create an issue that puts them in where they‘re disrupting our mission or the ability of other people to use the library or they fall afoul of our rules or policies.
MONDAY: Apparently, masturbating inside the library didn‘t break any rules. Cooper began returning to the library six months ago. No one stopped him.
(on camera): Why would you let a guy like that back in the library?
BEREZNAY: Well, I mean, like I said, you‘d like to give people other chances.
MONDAY: But this is a guy who‘s performing a sexual act in a library.
I mean, why allow him back in the library?
BEREZNAY: Well, it was several years ago and I wasn‘t aware, I mean, that he had any criminal record or that it was continuing.
COOPER: I didn‘t think I was doing anything wrong at that time and now I understand that it was.
MONDAY: You didn‘t think having sex underneath the table at the library was wrong?
COOPER: At the time, no. Now I admit that I was wrong. There‘s nothing else that I can say.
MONDAY (voice-over): While Cooper‘s anti-social behavior should be a concern to all parents, the unemployed porn site user has his own folks to deal with now. You live with your parents?
MONDAY (on camera): What do you think they‘re going to think when they see this?
COOPER: They‘re going to kill me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don‘t like you getting in my face either. Or my son‘s face.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please stop. Please.
MONDAY: But not before taking their anger out on us.
MONDAY: What is your son is doing out in a public place, exposing himself and having.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: [beep], [beep], [beep]. I said get out of here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get the (BEEP) out of here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now! Do you want me to take that thing away from you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, (BEEP) (BEEP) (BEEP).
MONDAY (voice-over): Threatening behavior, at the computer inside your neighborhood library and at the Cooper residence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And if you want me to bring my god (BEEP) you son of a (BEEP), I will. And you won‘t (BEEP) like it.
UNGER: OK, that‘s Carl Monday of our Cleveland affiliate, WKYC getting the story. And Mr. Cooper hopefully getting a home computer very soon. By the way, his behavior does not reflect on all Buckeye fans, though Woody Hays did most likely roll over in his grave.
Barry Bonds got some good wood on a fastball in San Francisco. We‘ll bring you the complete events of Sunday‘s historic homer. And people of earth, rejoice, the most important celebrity baby since Suri Cruise and Moses Paltrow. So how will daddy explain the Aniston breakup to baby Shiloh? How will mommy square the Billy Bob Thornton thing? Answers ahead, but first, here are the COUNTDOWN‘s “Top 3 Sound Bites” of this day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, it‘s not really on (INAUDIBLE).
SARAH MURDOCK, BIRTHDAY TODAY: Let go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sarah and Jesse Murdock have a lot in common.
Not only are they both a handful for their parents.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guess, it‘s just the lucky time of year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They also share the same birthday. Sarah turned 10-years-old today and Jesse turned six.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He‘s sometimes annoying and sometimes mean.
JESSE MURDOCK, BIRTHDAY TODAY: I hate her.
(SINGING): Happy birthday to you.
RONNIE FAIRBANKS, BIRTHDAY TODAY: I‘m 109 today. And the bottom line, the secret to living so long, a lot of sex and a lot of money.
UNGER: Barry Bonds‘ joyless quest for history, even the radio gods try to get into the act. And the joy of birth in the seclusion of Namibia. Michael Musto‘s celebrity analysis of the birth of the Brangelina baby.
That‘s next and this is COUNTDOWN
UNGER: Whether you love him or hate him, if you‘re a sports fan, you wanted to experience what it was like when Barry Bonds eclipsed Babe Ruth‘s career homerun tally. In our No. 2 story, for those of you watching the game on television Sunday, seeing homerun 715 wasn‘t a problem. If you were in northern California in your car at a barbecue or just lounging poolside listening to the game on the radio, well, you got a cliffhanger. With a little help from the COUNTDOWN staff, here‘s the way it went down on the radio as called by Dave Fleming on home of Giant‘s baseball KNBR 680.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DAVE FLEMING, KNBR 680 RADIO: Three and two. Finley runs, the payoff, a swing and a drive, deep to.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we have lost Dave‘s microphone. Barry Bonds ha just made it 715th career homerun out over the wall in right center field. A titanic blast.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
UNGER: Clearly, somebody tripped on the plug. KNBR apologized to the fans, citing technical difficulties for the blown homerun call, as for the rest of Sunday‘s events; Lester Holt fills us in on everything including thoughts from Mr. Bonds, reaction from the fans and relief from the man who caught the momentous ball while waiting in line for delicious beer, relief because that man can, from now on afford to pay nine bucks for his Coors Lite.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Barry! Barry!
LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Barry Bonds finally gave giant fans what they wanted.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The pitch. Bonds hits one hard, hits it deep to center. Out of here!
HOLT: Historic homerun number 715. It was a 445-foot shot to centerfield by Bonds against the Colorado Rockies before a sell-out crowd in San Francisco.
BARRY BONDS, GIANTS PLAYER: This is where I was raised and this is where my history started. This is where my godfather, my father played and where I get to play. So this is the—there‘s nothing better than hitting it here. There‘s nothing better than doing it in front of these fans.
HOLT: Fans had packed the stadium for this moment in history. But the ball bouncing out of the stands and into the hands of one very lucky man waiting to line to buy beer. Thirty-eight-year-old Andrew Morbitzer of San Francisco was ushered away by security after catching the historic homerun ball. The recently married Morbitzer was joined by his wife Megan at a post-game press conference where he talked to reporters about this lucky catch.
ANDREW MORBITZER, CAUGHT HOMERUN NO. 715: I went down to—just to get a couple of beers and I was going to get her peanuts and a barbecue sandwich and the one place wouldn‘t sell the barbecue sandwich to me, told me to go next door. As I walked up, I heard the roar and looked up and saw everybody reaching into the air and the ball came over and I snagged it.
HOLT: Despite the controversy surrounding Bonds and his alleged steroids use, Morbitzer says he‘s a die-hard fan.
MORBITZER: I‘m a Giants fan, I‘m a San Francisco fan and a Barry Bonds fan.
HOLT: Morbitzer made another quick save when asked if anything in his life could compare to his lucky catch at the ballpark.
MORBITZER: Not yet except for maybe a recent wedding day recently in Vail.
MEGAN MORBITZER, WIFE: Good answer.
HOLT: And of course, the question everybody is asking.
QUESTION: And now what are you going to do with the ball?
MORBITZER: Yet to be determined. Hold it tightly in my hands for a little while.
UNGER: And now to record-breaking of another kind in our roundup of celebrity and entertainment news, “Keeping Tabs.” In movie theaters this weekend, the mutants ruled. “X-Men: The Last Stand” took in an estimated $120 million since premiering Friday, giving it to biggest opening ever for a Memorial Day weekend. “X-Men” also posted the biggest Friday ever, pulling in nearly $46 million. Despite a batch of mixed reviews, fans showed up to see their mutant favorites, Halle Berry as “Storm,” Hugh Jackman as “Wolverine,” Ian McKellen as “Magneto.” Kelsey Grammar even did the turn as a blue-skinned beast. That‘s what 11 years of “Fraser” will get you, apparently. “X-Men: The Last Stand” is supposed to be the final installment of the trilogy, but with numbers like that, why would Hollywood chop down a tree that grows money like that?
And if Michael Jackson is interested in pursuing a rehabilitation of his own image, he may be missing the mark a bit. He latest stop in Tokyo at an orphanage. Jackson had left his home in Bahrain to accept MTV Japan‘s Legend Award on Saturday. He thanked fans for their loyalty and got a little teary. And on Sunday, he was off to the orphanage. The pop star was escorted into a gymnasium where more than 160 children between the ages of 3 and 18 were waiting along with a bunch of nuns. It‘s not the usual image of Jackson shopping. Here‘s he‘s just browsing.
We are kidding. No emails, please.
Anyway, Jackson‘s visit to Japan is his first round of public appearances since being acquitted of child molestation charges last year. Next up, Singapore, Shangri and Hong Kong.
Perhaps for Paris Hilton, the next adventure is one into madness. She‘s coming out with a album, a record album, a C.D., recorded with sounds of her singing. Hilton‘s upcoming album will be a mix of reggae, pop, and hip pop according to the Hong Kong magazine, “Prestige.” Quote “I want to have something for everybody,” Hilton said, “I have always had a voice and always known I could sing, but I was just too shy to let it come out.”
But like most Americans who let their shyness confine their singing to the shower, Hilton is going to make us listen to hers. She continued, “When I finally let it go and did it, “I realized what I am. I‘m most talented, I love doing this the most.” Hilton says the first single from the album is called “Stars are Blind.”
Still ahead, tonight‘s No. 1 story, Jon Voight is a grandfather once again. That‘s right. While you‘ve been loading up on Miller Lite and pulled pork, we‘ve been putting together a kick-ass report on the spawn of Brangelina. I strongly urge you to stick around.
UNGER: Not since the birth of Jesus has there been this much buzz about an infant. Since Moses, at the very least. And if by Moses you think we mean the man who parted the Red Sea, no we‘re talking about the son of Gwyneth Paltrow, and by extension the newborn daughter of Gwyneth‘s ex, Brad Pitt. Our No. 1 story on the COUNTDOWN, baby Brangelina is finally here, and may we be the last to say it is a birth of biblical proportions. Lisa Daniels has the details.
LISA DANIELS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The world‘s most beautiful family is just a little bigger today. Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt, a baby girl with a big name, both on paper an in Hollywood. Her parent‘s, arguably, the most photographed couple in the world, if not the best looking.
Little Shiloh was born Saturday night in Namibia, Africa. She‘s healthy, but other details are not yet known. A month ago, in an interview with Ann Curry, Jolie revealed little about her plans for the birth.
ANN CURRY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: How do you feel about the birthing part? Are you good? Are you ready?
ANGELINA JOLIE, ACTRESS: Yeah. We don‘t know where it‘s going to happen or where we‘re going to be, so we‘ll see.
CURRY: Yeah, well is there a doctor nearby?
JOLIE: We‘ve been smart about that and we‘re as prepared as—you know, but I‘m ready for anything.
CURRY: Yeah. Do you know if it‘s a boy or girl?
CURRY: Would you like to keep that to yourself?
CURRY: Or would you like to share that with the American public.
JOLIE: No, I‘d like to keep it to myself.
DANIELS: So far, no baby pictures either. Pitt‘s publicist released a barebones statement, that “The night of May 27, 2006 in Namibia, Africa, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt welcomed their daughter Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt.” The name Shiloh has biblical origins and means abundance and peace.
Little sister, joins 4-year-old Maddox, adopted by Jolie in Cambodia, and 15-month-old Zahara, adopted from Ethiopia. Although Jolie and Pitt have taken great lengths to shield their children from the paparazzi, media analysts say they will have to fight now more than ever for their privacy. Photos of baby Shiloh are said to be worth millions and her birth will inevitably lead to at least one more question: When will the movie‘s, “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” become real-life husband and wife?
Lisa Daniels, NBC News, New York.
UNGER: Well, it is an act of charity that “Village Voice” communist, Michael Musto have agreed to give up any hope of a Memorial Day barbecue to discuss baby Brangelina.
Thank you for your sacrifice, Michael.
MICHAEL MUSTO, “VILLAGE VOICE”: I‘ve been doing it all weekend, anyway.
UNGER: Let‘s begin with the name Shiloh. Certainly a beautiful name, but among its other meanings, in Hebrew are chosen one and the Messiah, and we know Angelina wants to sort of repair the world. Does she expect her child to do it for her?
MUSTO: Yeah well, we need new Messiah right now to stop “The da Vinci Code.” Not because of the message, just because it‘s so darned boring. And why not a female Messiah for a change? That‘ll be refreshing. And actually Shiloh can save the world while Angelina concentrates on important things like updating her vials of blood and puffing up her lips even more.
UNGER: Or perhaps just acting.
MUSTO: That would be nice.
UNGER: Yeah. You know, are celebrities spending, you know, way too much time in the fine print of the whole baby naming book series?
MUSTO: Yeah, for some of the those are the only books they‘ve every read, unless you count “People” magazine and I do. I think it all started when Diana Ross look at the spice rack and said, I‘m going to name my daughter chutney and I‘m going to misspell it. And then of course, Cher looked at the Bible, looked at a color chart, came up with Elijah Blue. And more recently, Gwyneth, before Moses, named a kid Apple Martin. That‘s like one vowel away from a cheap cocktail.
UNGER: Yeah, they all sound—the names all sound like they‘re just very edible. One report, this weekend, and help me out with this, Jennifer Aniston, apparently, called to congratulate them on the birth of Shiloh. What are the odds that really happened?
MUSTO: I‘d say the same odds of David Schwimmer being the breakout star of “Friends.” No, I love Jennifer, but more likely she accidentally called 1-800-whore of Babylon and Angelina picked up. Or she did call her intentionally, it was to say, you have stretch marks and I never will. Or please come see my new movie with Vince Vaughn, “The Break-Up” we need every single customer we can get.
UNGER: Do you have any sourcing on that?
MUSTO: Yes. Harvey the rabbit, my best friend.
UNGER: OK. Do you think, Michael, Shiloh and Suri Cruise will be friends, you know, eventually at whatever, you know, Los Angeles private school they invariably—I imagine they‘re not going to home school. And I‘m picturing, you know, sort of a “Mean Girls” meets “Valley of the Dolls.”
MUSTO: OK, meets “Clueless.” But, yeah, I do think they‘re going to get along famously, as it were. I mean they have so much in common. They‘re both from parent‘s with one name, Brangelina, Tomkat. They both were born to kind of rehabilitate the image of their parents. The father in both cases is an aging matinee idol and the mothers‘ rather weird. I do think they‘ll fight, though, on parent‘s day when Tom comes to take Angelina‘s meds away while little Lourdes Ross (ph).wait how did she get into that fantasy—sorry.
UNGER: Let me ask you this. From a privacy standpoint, it seems as if Brangelina managed this perfectly by going to Namibia, where they have the government of an entire nation working security for them. Are they in for kind of a rude awakening when they go back to Malibu?
MUSTO: Oh yeah. Well, guess who else live is Malibu? Britney Spears and she‘ll probably be waiting with her car to pick them up, drive with the kid on here lap. That‘ll be terrific, won‘t it. And, of course, the second they get back into the heat of things, they‘ll be, you know, fame, paparazzi, scrutiny, excitement, all the things celebrities hate, don‘t you know? I mean please, one more day in Namibia and Brad and Angelina would have been ripping up restraining orders and saying, bring back the sociopaths. It‘s boring.
UNGER: You know. You‘re not a doctor, you‘re not a physician, you‘re not an exert on obstetrics and gynecology, but I want to ask you this.
MUSTO: I know nothing about gynecology.
UNGER: Well, just go with me on this if you will.
UNGER: Are the—do you think they travel—a lot of people have asked me this, Brian, do they, do you think, with their own OB-GYNs or did they use local OB-GYNs down there? Wouldn‘t you go with your own core of medical experts?
MUSTO: Would you go with the local OB-GYN, even in the 5-star hotel that they were staying at? I think they brought such an entourage. They even brought an acting coach this time. Didn‘t work.
UNGER: It was a method acting exercise as well, as.
MUSTO: Well, she didn‘t have the silent birth of Katie, she was actually supposedly in a pool of something and they let her scream.
UNGER: Do you get the sense that they‘re kind of keeping the country hostage?
MUSTO: I think they‘re trying to help the country because a few years ago Angelina—if you mean Namibia, not America.
MUSTO: Because I feel like I‘m being held hostage by this.
UNGER: Maybe (ph) America.
MUSTO: Angelina, a few years ago, made a rotten movie in Namibia called “Beyond Borders” with Clive Owen and I thick this is her payback, let me do a little P.R. for the country to make up for that terrible movie.
UNGER: You don‘t buy into the whole boosting tourism thing for Namibia, do you? That this will actually, you know, create a flood of tourists going there.
MUSTO: Well, I think it will but I think people are gong to go there and find a ravaged country. The most glamorous thing they‘ll find is maybe the afterbirth laying in the jungle.
UNGER: Oh, we.
MUSTO: Not too exciting.
UNGER: Oh, that‘s when we have to say goodbye. Michael Musto of the “Village Voice.” Thank you for spending part of your holiday with us on COUNTDOWN. I really appreciate it.
MUSTO: Thanks, Brian.
UNGER: That‘s it for the Memorial Day edition. Up next, and MSNBC special presentation, “Coming Home” hosted by Lester Holt.
I‘m Brian Unger in for Keith Olbermann, thank you very much for watching.
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