Guests: Terri Seymour, Victoria Campbell, Mark Phillips, Robi Ludwig, Ash Joshi, Tom O‘Neil, Robert Eckels, Robert Dean, Joe Barrera, Trazanna Moreno, Steve Monks, Nicole Deborde, Yale Galanter>
RITA COSBY, MSNBC HOST: And good evening, everybody. We have got exclusive details in the Duke rape investigation. And a school bus bully is caught on tape beating a 10-year-old student. Find out now why some are now blaming his parents and his teachers. Plus, we‘ll show you the first music video for “American Idol” winner Taylor Hicks. It‘s not what you may think. Taylor in a whole new setting.
But first tonight, a city under water. Houston, Texas has been slammed by nearly a the foot of rain in just the past 24 hours. The images we have seen from there may remind you somewhat of Hurricane Katrina. Many of those evacuated ended up in Houston. But fortunately, it has not been nearly as horrific. NBC‘s Don Teague is in Houston tonight with the very latest on the flooding. Don?
DON TEAGUE, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Rita. The governor of Texas called out the National Guard today to head to Houston to help in the relief efforts. The floodwaters for the most part have receded in the city, but many residents here are still wondering how the water could have risen so fast.
TEAGUE (voice-over): Houston residents awoke this morning to a terrifying sight.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These are yards, people‘s yards, in their homes and it actually looks more like little rivers and little lakes.
TEAGUE: Rivers of water filling homes, submerging cars, and pouring down streets after a night of torrential rain.
EVELYN YOUNG, HOUSTON RESIDENT: It was like—sort of like going to hell.
TEAGUE: The rain fell at an almost unimaginable rate. Seven inches at Houston‘s Hobby Airport in just four hours. Far too much for the city‘s drainage system, despite millions of dollars spent on recent improvements.
BILL WHITE, MAYOR, HOUSTON: When you have this much rain in a short period of time, in place near sea level, then you still have some real risks.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Many cars like this one.
TEAGUE: Floodwaters rose so fast, fire crews were forced to improvise, using dump trucks to rescue at least 500 residents and motorists trapped by high water. One couple barely escaped.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we didn‘t have a hatch, there wouldn‘t have been no way for us to get out. Thank god we had a sun roof.
TEAGUE: Amazingly, no lives were lost, but the ranging waters are an reminder for the tens of thousands of Katrina evacuees still living in Houston, that weather can change lives in an instant. Shanita Simon (ph) lost everything in Katrina.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just got through from running from one storm and now we got to run from another one?
TEAGUE: Even 130 miles east of Houston, in Sulphur, Louisiana, rescuers evacuated 100 residents from a nursing home, as a foot of water filled the halls, the rain seemingly unrelenting.
TEAGUE: And it may not be over. Tonight there is more rain in the forecast. In fact, forecasters say there could be several inches of rain in the Houston area tonight. As for the residents of Houston, well one drop is about too much for them. They have had enough after a truly frightening day here in Houston. Rita?
COSBY: Don, thank you very much. And we‘re joined now by the NBC WeatherPlus meteorologist Bill Karins. Bill, how much more rain is expected in Houston?
BILL KARINS, NBC WEATHER PLUS METEOROLOGIST: Well, it‘s going to be a scary night, Rita, for all the residents that are trying to sleep tonight. Last night they had about 11 inches of rain in the region, and we saw what that did.
Now we could see additional rain. The group is saturated. That water hasn‘t even gone away yet and we could get more rain on top of that. We‘ve got a storm system right over the city of Houston. That moisture‘s going to pump up off the Gulf as we go throughout the overnight hours.
Right now, the radar‘s not looking too bad. But notice thunderstorms are developing here once again right along the coast. These could rotate back towards Houston late tonight and early tomorrow morning. Our future cast is showing this bright purple area here, the heaviest of the rain coming back over the city at about 3:00 in the morning and then traveling towards the west.
And we could see additional rainfall. Let‘s hope our computers are wrong on this one because these residents don‘t need this. But they‘re now looking like they could see anywhere here around three to sixth inches of additional rain. If that happened, they would have the same problems tomorrow morning that they saw this morning. So Rita, let‘s hope that our weather computers are wrong for once.
COSBY: Let‘s hope so. Bill, thank you very much.
And we‘re joined now by Judge Robert Eckels, he‘s the director of homeland security and emergency management for Harris County, Texas. Judge Eckels, how worried you that the flooding is going to get worse?
JUDGE ROBERT ECKELS, HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS: Well, we‘re monitoring it today Rita and I think everyone is extra sensitive after Tropical Storm Allison here and later Katrina and Rita last year. The last time you and I visited, I think, was during the Katrina event.
And it‘s—people are very sensitive to it, but the bios and creeks are receding in their levels and we are monitoring the situation overnight. Again, the governor has sent in—Governor Perry has sent in some high water vehicles and some swift rescue boats—swift water rescue boats for the city of Houston, the other 35 cities of Harris County and the 100 plus agencies in this region.
Their emergency management offices have been able to respond to this very well. The east-end of the country, Commissioner Garcia in Harris County, which has been hit particularly hard, has been able to respond and do a great job for the people of this community. So we‘re monitoring now overnight, the city is back, very much to normal. But it is a situation we‘re watching just as you discussed earlier with the weather patterns in this community.
COSBY: You bet. And in fact, this is how the mayor there in Houston described the situation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHITE: You had block, after block, after block flooded and water wasn‘t just up to the driveway, but it was invading the structure. And that‘s what looked the worst.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: You know judge, how do you describe the situation as you see it tonight?
ECKELS: Well again, the waters have receded in much of those areas.
We did have a few homes that flooded. Most of the people that were...
COSBY: ... Yes, what was the most surprising thing that you saw?
ECKELS: Well, it was the amount of rain that we did have. We have got thousands of homes that actually did not flood this year that would have flooded in previous events because we have done so much since Tropical Storm Allison in 2001.
Hundreds of millions of dollars for flood control improvements. But it‘s the kind of situation where you get eight or 10 or 12 inches of rain in one area that maybe didn‘t get it last time. So those low-lying areas, folks in the south and the east part of the county that got a lot of rain this time, did see a lot of street flooding. It‘s people that drive into those waters that we try to discourage it, encourage people to turn around. Don‘t drown. But they to drive into it and that was actually where most of the rescue occurred, was pulling people out of their cars that had driven into high water.
COSBY: Yes, we‘re looking at some pretty incredible images. Judge, hold on, because I want to bring into the conversation some people who were also stuck in the torrential flooding today. Robert Dean is the principal of the Worthing High School in Houston. And he was trapped for hours on his way to work, one of the folks that the judge was just talking about. We‘re also joined by Joe Barrera, who lives at a YMCA building, which was severely flooded, and also YMCA spokesperson Trazanna Moreno.
Let me start with you, Robert. What happened to you today on your way to work?
ROBERT DEAN, WORTHING HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL: Well basically I tried to get in early, tried to get in the office by 7:00. And when I got to one of the major thorough fares, highway 288, it literally closed in front of me. If I was five or 10 minutes earlier, I might have gotten through. Once that major thorough fare closed on me, I tried to take an alternate route. I got on the loop to try to get off to the school that way. That didn‘t work. They were all flooded.
So, basically myself and hundreds of other cars were on the 610 loop there parked, waiting for clearance or waiting for the water to recede, waiting to get into school. I just grabbed a quick book, I had a couple of books in the car, get some reading. I did light reading on high school reform and professional learning communities. And I just stayed with it.
COSBY: Did you read the whole book?
DEAN: I read one book and part of another.
COSBY: Wow, so you were there that long? Joe, let me bring you in.
Your whole building was flooded. Describe the damage at the YMCA.
JOE BARRERA, HOME FLOODED: Well, basically, I don‘t really know the exact amount of the damage that was caused there. But we were in about three or four feet of water down in the bottom. The basement was completely flooded out. None of the floors where the residents lived was flooded at all. We had basically all the power we needed and everyone there was pretty well secured.
COSBY: So, Joe, it was basically what the lobby and the lower levels, but lots of cars, I understand, were flooded?
BARRERA: Exactly, yes.
COSBY: And what did the scene look like to you when you saw it?
BARRERA: Well when I first looked at it, I couldn‘t believe it. You know, I went up on the roof to assess the situation at the time that the executive director called me and asked me to get everybody off the roof. That‘s when I saw what was going on and I couldn‘t believe it. I hadn‘t really gone downstairs yet.
COSBY: You know Trazanna, I understand in your building alone, $2 million worth of damage. Have you been given any idea when things are going to get back to normal? Are you worried now that we‘re hearing more rain is on the way.
TRAZANNA MORENO, HOUSTON YMCA: You know, we‘re hoping that that doesn‘t come true. We‘re hoping that those predictions don‘t come true. Right now there‘s cleanup crews there. We have volunteers there. People are working really hard to get that YMCA back open to the community. But I do want to say that if more rain does come, the YMCA has been serving the community for 120 years in Houston and we‘re certainly not going to let rain or flooding get in the way of helping people that need us.
COSBY: What‘s the mood of the residents? You know, I mean, we look at these pictures that remind us of Katrina, Trazanna.
MORENO: You know, and it does. You know, when you saw those residents on the roof, at first people were worried that they were signalling for help.
But they were actually just going out to get a bird‘s eye view. And unfortunately, they saw that their cars were damaged by the flooding. We‘re lucky that the water didn‘t get up high enough to get to the second floor or the third floor.
But they‘re there, helping with the clean up, just like the people that have come in with the official cleanup crews. People like Joe are part of our YMCA family and we really want to be sure that that family feeling continues and the fact that Joe is here today talking about it and the feeling that he got when he saw all the damage and all of the destruction, but he‘s going to continue on.
COSBY: Yes, this seems like a real camaraderie. And you know, Robert, you‘re also a resident there in Houston. Have you ever seen anything like this before?
DEAN: Well certainly we have before. And with Allison and the like. But let me certainly commend our school districts throughout the area, including my own, Houston school district.
COSBY: Are you worried, Robert, with more ahead? What about with more ahead, we‘re hearing maybe five more inches?
DEAN: Well, the decision was made earlier to announce through the media outlets that the schools were closed, summer schools were closed through my district and others. And we certainly did not want to put our students and our families and our employees at risk. Our superintendents make that call very early to make it safe for a lot of our folks in our business.
COSBY: Sounds like everybody did the right thing, obviously took precautions. All of you thank you very much for being with all of us. I hope more rain is not going to be on the way for all of you.
Still ahead, we‘ve got new details in the hunt for a sniper, who shot a judge, who‘s accused of that. That‘s coming up and a whole lot more. Take a look.
Still ahead, exclusive details in the Duke rape investigation. For the first time, you‘ll find out what the prosecutor really has against the players. Is there enough evidence to prove that there was a rape? MSNBC‘s Dan Abrams joining me live with the exclusive.
And a school bus ride from hell, caught on tape. And wait until you hear what happened to this school bully who pummeled a 10-year-old boy.
Plus find out why Brittany Spears‘ people are doing damage control big time after the NBC interview.
And is this Taylor Hicks‘ first music video. The American Idol winner‘s first on-screen production, coming up on LIVE AND DIRECT.
COSBY: An MSNBC exclusive tonight that spells bad news for the D.A. in the Duke University gang rape investigation. For the first time ever, we can tell you what evidence that the prosecutor really has against the three players charged in the case. The prosecutor gave 1,300 pages of evidence to the defense. And MSNBC‘s Dan Abrams is the only journalist to see them. Dan tells me that it‘s not looking good for D.A., or his case.
DAN ABRAMS, NBC CHIEF LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: We kept hearing from the D.A., or people who have been supporting the D.A., well, it‘s the defense spin. You haven‘t really seen anything.
COSBY: Right, he was saying that the defense has been selective on what it‘s leaking?
ABRAMS: That‘s right, selective, and that‘s why I said you know what, I need to see all of it. I want to see the pages numbered. I want to see all of the medical reports. I want to see all of the statements. And now, you know, I got a chance to be the first reporter to look at all of this. I can tell you that it‘s actually even weaker than what I thought it was going to be.
COSBY: There‘s a lot of contributions. And these are her own words.
These are the accuser‘s own words. This is one of the things she said. “Three guys grabbed Nicky,” referring to the second dancer. “They separated us at the master bedroom while we tried to hold on to each other.” This is in direct contrast to what she said assault nurse. What did she say to her?
ABRAMS: In direct contrast to what the second stripper says. So, you‘ve got serious problems. They say the sexual assault nurse says what they told her. And the sexual assault nurse says, she basically said that Nicky, meaning the other stripper and another guy, were basically forcing her into the house and she‘s telling them no. And they sort of pushed her back into the house. That she‘s then raped. And then that the second stripper steals her money.
COSBY: Of course, the second stripper says, no, none of that happened. That she didn‘t force them in, there was no ripoff.
ABRAMS: In this statement she‘s saying the two were together, and they were trying to hold on to each other and they were just separated. And in the statement of the sexual assault nurse, she basically saying, in effect, it was all the fault of the second stripper.
COSBY: Blaming the other person, which is totally different from what we ever heard before. The other thing, physical abuse. Of course, this is central to the case. What did happen, what were the bruises and the father told me that there were bruises and so forth.
This is the accuser‘s statement. She says “Matt hit me,” referring to one of the guys, “in my face while Dan and Bret kicked me,” the two others. The doctor‘s statement, I think, is a huge contrast. The doctor‘s statement, “27-year-old female alleged sexual assault by three men, denies other physical assault. No evidence of other physical assault.” So, saw the doctor just a few hours later. What do you make of this contribution?
ABRAMS: The fact that she‘s saying that she was essentially punched in the face, she told a different doctor that she hit her head on the sink. She went to the U.N.C. hospital two days after the event, I saw that record as well. There, she said she hit her head on the sink. Of course, this is the first doctor to have examined her, saying no signs of physical injuries. You know, there were also photos, et cetera of her too. I mean, this is a real problem for this case.
COSBY: What do you think is going to happen to the case? Do you think it‘s going to go to trial?
ABRAMS: I don‘t think Mike Nifong is going to back down?
COSBY: Is it possible that he has got some smoking gun, has a player who has flipped, has something?
ABRAMS: Well, it‘s possible. But I have to tell you, it‘s so jarring seeing how little evidence he had when he indicted them. What has he gotten since then? We don‘t know. But I have to say that it makes me very dubious when he‘s now he‘s going to say, I have all of this new evidence, he‘s going to hand it over.
What new could be in there? Well, you‘re right, there could be some new witnesses come forward, there could be some new sort of D.N.A., or some other kind of testing that they have done. But again, that doesn‘t change the fact that when the indictment occurred, they had almost nothing. And when I say that, they had the accuser‘s statement. I‘m not saying she‘s necessarily lying. But I‘m saying that when it comes to the prosecutor‘s decision, should I indict. I can‘t see how he went forward in this case.
COSBY: Thanks to Dan Abrams. And now it looks like the Durham D.A. has more to worry about. It looks like Mike Nifong will now be facing a Republican opponent in his November election. That challenger, Durham Republican Party Chairman Steve Monks joins us now live.
Mr. Monks, if you got this case, if you were the D.A., you get elected, would you drop the case?
STEVE MONKS, DURHAM REPUBLICAN COUNTY CHAIRMAN: Well, I mean, you all have tried the case and done a very effective job, I congratulate you. But the fact of the matter is, I haven‘t had an opportunity to talk to the alleged victim, look into their eyes, judge the credibility of any of the live witnesses that are going to be there. But I can tell you overwhelmingly from what we‘ve seen and what‘s been disclosed, it looks like a very difficult case for the state to make.
COSBY: If that‘s the case. If you felt it is as weak as some are alleging, would you drop it immediately?
MONKS: I don‘t think I would do anything immediately. I would do it at the right time, after the evidence has been reviewed, and if the state could not sustain the case, it should be dismissed, whether it‘s me or Mike Nifong or anybody else.
COSBY: What is the biggest problem you have with Mike Nifong tonight?
MONKS: Well, can I tell you. I‘ve been listening to the pundits and talking this issue and you know, we in Durham know Mike. He‘s been there forever. It‘s surprising that no one‘s actually said what do you think about Mike Nifong. Look, nothing wrong with Mike Nifong on a personal level. He‘s a very private person. He is not the most comfortable in social settings. And certainly he has demonstrate that he‘s not very good dealing with the press.
COSBY: What do you think is happening now, Mr. Monk? Do you believe, maybe he has a bird in the hand? Or do you believe that it‘s just ego at this point. He can‘t drop it. He‘s gone too far.
MONKS: I think that candidly, I think he probably is entirely relying upon the gut feeling that he has about the credibility of his witness. It‘s the only thing that remains that has not been disclosed.
COSBY: So you believe that he still believes in the case, to some degree?
MONKS: I think he has to. That‘s the only way that he could, in good faith and professionally follow this case through to trial.
COSBY: Let me play a little clip. This is what he told us back in May.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE NIFONG, DURHAM DISTRICT ATTORNEY: What is exculpatory or inculpatory evidence always depends on the context in which the evidence is offered. A lot of assumptions are made any time the defense team offers what they say is exculpatory evidence, with respect to what the state‘s case actually is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: Is it possible that in this are particular case, that he could be a victim of defense spin? Or do you think he‘s sort of selling out Durham in the case?
MONKS: This issue of sellout, I think he‘s just convinced himself and what concerns all of us, is that he doesn‘t have, unfortunately, the moral courage to come forward and perhaps reevaluate his position. It would be difficult for any human being to do. I suspect that‘s what Mike is struggling with right now.
COSBY: All right. Mr. Monks, keep us posted. I know you have to get enough names on the ballot, we‘ll be following your campaign.
MONKS: SteveMonksForDurhamDA.com. I need 6,500 signatures on a petition. I look forward to the folks in Durham participating with me. Thank You.
COSBY: Alright, we‘ll follow it. Thank you very much Mr. Monks. Now, let‘s bring in criminal defense attorney Yale Galanter and also former prosecutor Nicole Deborde. Yale, what do you make of what‘s happening with Nifong?
YALE GALANTER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: For months, Rita, I have been a proponent of this case being dropped. Luckily, Dan was able to see all of the things that we‘ve been talking about for months. He was able to read every word of every page of every document that was turned over to the defense.
COSBY: If that‘s the case, why isn‘t he backing down?
GALANTER: Really, that‘s been the question for months. I have no idea why he‘s not backing down.
NICOLE DEBORDE, FORMER PROSECUTOR: He‘s not backing down because he believes in his case. 80 percent of the rape cases that are prosecuted in this country, everyday, across the entire United States, are prosecuted based on the word of the accuser.
GALANTER: But there are not to many rape cases ...
COSBY: I‘m going to come to your defense. Yale, wait a minute. This is from the accuser. This the problem that I have. These are her words, coming out very differently. First, let‘s go back to, she says, “Matt, one of the players, hit me in the face while Dan and Brett kicked me.” Then, she told the doctor, he‘s repeating what she said to the doctor, just a few hours later, saying “27-year-old female alleged sexual assault by three men.” That‘s consistent. Here is the problem, “denies other physical assault. No evidence of other physical assault.” Nicole, her own words are hurting her?
DEBORDE: Well, you have to look at this contextually. We don‘t know what point she‘s describing the events to the doctor. We don‘t know when she‘s saying that she was struck in relation to when she was saying she was sexually assaulted.
GALANTER: Wait a minute. She tells the doctor she was not kicker or choked, or physically assaulted in any way.
DEBORDE: No, that‘s different.
GALANTER: That‘s not a context issue. These are people ready to give her medical aid and she says she was not kicked or choked, which is what she put in her statement. I mean that‘s an absolutely complex.
DEBORDE: I don‘t necessarily read it that way.
COSBY: OK, Yale, how devastating is this to her credibility?
DEBORDE: Well and I don‘t agree with.
COSBY: Let me go to Yale—Yale?
GALANTER: Rita, it is beyond devastating to her credibility. She tells, in her own statement, she tells Mike Nifong, that the second stripper, the girl who was with her, assisted the boys in putting her in the bathroom. And after she was raped, stole her money and stole her personal property. That‘s inconceivable. When they questioned Kim Roberts about it, Kim Roberts says that‘s a crock. Basically saying that the first stripper is an absolute liar.
COSBY: Now Nicole, is it possible he‘s got a bird in the hand? I know a lot of fine prosecutors around this country, we don‘t know everything he has. We know he‘s handing over stuff over on Thursday. Is it possible that he has a player? What do you think rises to the level, Nicole, for a jury to go after this case and believe them?
DEBORDE: Well, I think there‘s a strong possibility that he has additional evidence which he has not revealed. Most of the evidence which has to be revealed is usually exculpatory evidence.
GALANTER: Under North Carolina law, as soon as the prosecutor gets it, Rita, he‘s required to turn it over. It‘s not like he can hold it in his pocket and only lift it over a hearing.
COSBY: Fair enough Yale, but is it possible that he did not do so, Nicole?
DEBORDE: Well even in North Carolina, the beautiful thing about the criminal justice system is that when the adversarial system is working, which means that you have a prosecution and a defense attorney who don‘t agree, which is the way it is in every single criminal case, you get to have a jury trial. And ultimately, 12 people will get to decide what they believe about the facts in this case.
COSBY: You guys, let me go to both of you real quick. Yale, should the case be dropped? Where do you see it headed?
GALANTER: Oh Rita, absolutely, this case should be dropped. The issue here is Mike Nifong has told the court that he‘s turned everything over to the defense. So we know that there is nothing else, there‘s no hidden player, there‘s no hidden reports. There‘s nothing because we have those judicial statements.
COSBY: Nicole, real quick, where do you see it going? Will it be dropped or not?
DEBORDE: If he believes in his case, then he should proceed and that‘s where this case will go as long as the prosecutor does what he thinks is necessary.
COSBY: Both of you, this is going to have to be the last word. We‘ll have you both back on. Thanks so much. And when we come back everybody, outrage over the videotape beating of a 10-year-old boy on a school bus. Find out why his parents are furious and say this didn‘t have to happen. The shocking pictures and coming up. And next, the hunt for an accused sniper who killed his wife and wounded a judge. Find out why a friend or one of the victims feared for his life as well. He‘s going to join me live.
COSBY: manhunt for Darren Mack. He‘s just been listed on the FBI‘s most wanted list. Mack is suspected of killing his estranged wife. And he‘s also wanted for questioning in the sniping shooting of a Reno judge.
Let‘s go to KRNV reporter Victoria Campbell with the very latest.
Victoria, where are they looking for Darren Mack now?
VICTORIA CAMPBELL, KRNV REPORTER: I think they are looking for him everywhere, Rita, literally, everyplace in Nevada, all over the country, and even all over the world. There‘s speculation tonight that Darren Mack may have actually left the country.
COSBY: Yes. We have seen some reports of what they are contacting in this warning with the FBI, what they are telling consulates, embassies. Tell us about that.
CAMPBELL: Well, last week, they issued—well, the local authorities went to the federal authorities and asked for what‘s called a UFAP, unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
This basically expands the search and allows the local authorities to ask for and receive help, considerable help, from the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies that have contacts all over the world. Once they charged Darren Mack with a felony, which was of course open murder in the death of his wife, Charla, they were able to go to those federal authorities, and they were granted that UFAP warrant. Once that was granted, the FBI put Darren Mack front and center on their most wanted list.
COSBY: You know, and the reason is that they think he may have gone overseas. What, there was a—a swipe at the airport. Is there anything else?
CAMPBELL: Well, actually, it was a credit card used at the Sacramento
Airport, but we have determined that it was not for a flight. He actually
or the credit card assigned to his business, his pawn shop business here in Reno, was used in the parking garage to leave the parking garage.
And it was a total of about a $2 charge. So, he obviously was not there very long, or whomever was using that credit card was not there very long. So, it wasn‘t for a flight. What they are concerned about is that Darren Mack, in connection with his business and for pleasure, also had traveled all over the world, to Costa Rica, to Mexico, to France. He had been a lot of different places.
And, so, they say he may have contacts all over the world. He also knows how to travel. He also asylum have money stashed everywhere. And if it‘s true, what they believe, that he had been preparing this—for this crime for some time, he may also have applied for and received passports under different names. So, he would be even harder to track him, in that case.
COSBY: It sounds like a complicated search.
Victoria, keep us posted. As always, thank you.
And authorities continue their nationwide manhunt that you just heard about. New details are emerging that Charla Mack was worried about her husband‘s violent temper and that others also feared for their lives.
Joining me now is Charla Mack‘s boyfriend, Mark Phillips.
Mark, first of all, I‘m so sorry for your loss.
What kind of a person was Charla?
MARK PHILLIPS, BOYFRIEND OF CHARLA MACK: Hi, Rita. Thanks for having me.
Charla was an amazing girl, had a zest for life, full of energy. I know—a lot of people say that, when somebody walks into a room, they really light it up. In—in her case, it was absolutely the truth. She was a great woman.
COSBY: How long had you known her? How long had you been dating her?
PHILLIPS: I first met her in April of 2005, and we were dating from June 2005.
COSBY: And did Darren Mack know anything about this relationship?
PHILLIPS: Yes, he did.
COSBY: And how was his reaction? How was he handling it?
PHILLIPS: When he found out Charla was dating somebody, he just asked her about me, I think more out of concern for his daughter. And—and Charla assured him that, you know, the relationship was a great one, and I was great with Erica (ph). And—and that‘s the only questions that I know of that he asked her.
COSBY: Now, I understand that she was worried for her life because of him. And, also, she was worried about you. Tell us about that.
PHILLIPS: Yes. On a couple occasions, she did confer me that she was scared of him.
She—I think she tended to downplay it, so myself and her friends didn‘t worry as much as we did. But we absolutely worried about her. And I feared the worst. Again, I never thought it would come to this. But she was scared. She absolutely was.
COSBY: Did he say something to her? Did he physically threaten her?
What—what do you know about the nature of her fears?
PHILLIPS: She told me that, on a couple occasions, when they were married, that he did threaten her. I never heard him threaten her directly or—or—I don‘t know if he did when they were going through divorce proceedings.
I—I just know that, when they were together, still living in the same house, that he did make some idle threats towards her.
COSBY: And she was worried about you, too. Tell us about that.
PHILLIPS: She absolutely was.
She—she tried to shelter me from a lot of what was going on. But I knew Charla very well. I can read her very well. You know, I was just more concerned about keeping her safe and—and making sure, you know, she can sleep at night. And that‘s the role I played for over a year. And I was glad to do that for her on a day-to-day basis.
COSBY: Did you see any changes in her as she was going through this divorce?
When I first met her, the divorce was not that bitter by that time. And she was just full of energy. And, over time, it just kind of wore on her. She changed. And she became kind of, you know, to herself more, which, again, I tried to help her as much as I can through that. I did the best I could for her. And we—we leaned on each other. We were each other‘s support system. And I was glad to do that for her.
You know, I understand—I know tomorrow is the funeral service for this beautiful woman. I know that there‘s a memorial fund set up for her and her daughter for the—you know, for the service and also for support of her daughter. Tell us about that, if you could, as we‘re putting it up here on the screen.
PHILLIPS: Yes. I appreciate you bringing that up, Rita.
It‘s the Charla Mack Memorial Fund. And it‘s set up through any First Independent Bank branch. You can go online. And you guys have the Web site set up. And you can go directly there and just tell them you want to donate to the Charla Mack Memorial Fund. And that—that money goes directly to the kids and to help them, you know, to help them any way they can, with schooling, with everything. So, it‘s going to go directly to them and only to them.
COSBY: That‘s good news.
And, of course, anybody, please, do what you can.
And, Mark, our prayers are with you, and, of course, with that whole family.
Thank you for being with us tonight.
PHILLIPS: Thank you so much, Rita.
COSBY: And let‘s now check in what else is in store here on MSNBC tonight.
Let‘s check in with my pal Tucker Carlson of “THE SITUATION.”
Tucker, what do you have?
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON”: Oh, Rita, news you can use, the health police going after Starbucks, saying their drinks are bad for you.
CARLSON: A frappuccino has more calories, in some cases, than a Big Mac. They want warning labels. We will debate the man behind that proposal.
Plus, Nestle considering buying Jenny Craig. Does this mean KitKat bars will now be on the diet plan? Breaking news from the world of diets tonight.
COSBY: Health news. I have got to find out about the...
COSBY: ... chai lattes.
COSBY: All right, Tucker, thank you.
CARLSON: Thanks, Rita.
COSBY: Thank you.
And still to come: school bullies caught on tape, a 10-year-old beaten to a pulp on the way home from school. And, apparently, it all could have been prevented.
And millions watch “American Idol.” And now TV executives and even Simon Cowell are banking on copycats. Will it win you over? Plus, we have got a little “Idol” surprise. You have to stick around to see what we have on tape. And it‘s about Taylor.
COSBY: And, if you like “American Idol,” you are going to love what‘s about to be on a TV near you. It‘s coming up right here on LIVE & DIRECT.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHESTER GALA, BEATING VICTIM: He would just, like, tease me and like just call me names and stuff. He just started pointing fingers at me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: Well, a bus ride home from school turned into a nightmare for one 10-year-old boy from Michigan.
The video you are about to see is disturbing. This surveillance video taken last month shows bullies taunting and repeatedly punching middle-schooler Chester Gala. Gala suffered a bloody nose. And his parents say he is traumatized from the attack.
The 14-year-old who punched him is facing assault and battery charges.
But could this have been prevented? And who is really to blame?
Joining us now is former Atlanta district attorney Ash Joshi and also psychotherapist Robi Ludwig.
Ash, who is to blame here? Who is at fault?
ASH JOSHI, FORMER ATLANTA DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Well, at a minimum, and, obviously, the young man or the young men who were—engaged in the beating are the ones who were most at fault. There might be other people at fault. It depends on what other people knew about these young men and their propensities. Certainly, the parents could be at fault.
COSBY: What about the parents? You know, Ash, there has been a lot of buzz, like maybe the, parents you know, of the bullies should have known better, should be doing something differently, obviously.
JOSHI: You know, certainly, Rita, if they had any inclination at all that these young men would engage in this type of behavior, if they have ever done anything like this before, if there is anything at school that would indicate that they would engage in this type of behavior, certainly, they should be held responsible, too, because they are unleashing a bully on to a public school bus, where other parents think their kids would be safe.
COSBY: You know, Robi, there are some warning signs, obviously, if kids are bullies, and especially you go to this extent. We have got a little bit of a list.
one is a history of violent and aggressive behavior, enjoys feeling power and control, displays uncontrolled anger, you know, a variety of things that are sort of warning signs.
ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Right.
COSBY: What causes this type of behavior in kids to do this? And should parents be held responsible, as we looked at sort of warning signs?
LUDWIG: Well, absolutely.
I mean, how could you not hold parents responsible? You can‘t hold them 100 percent responsible. But we what have found is that, with bullies, parents tend to not be around enough or emotionally supportive enough. In some cases, they‘re overly harsh with their children or overly permissive.
And, so, these children walk into the world, and they have a low frustration tolerance—tolerance. They‘re easy to anger. And they really don‘t consider their victim. They have no empathy for the victim when they are engaging in this type of violent act.
LUDWIG: They are at-risk children.
COSBY: You know, Robi, what should kids do who are being bullied?
You know, how do they handle it?
LUDWIG: Well, we, first of all, need to educate the community, because when we have a zero-tolerance attitude in the community, it really reduces these acts from happening for—for up to about 50 percent.
We need to encourage children to, first of all, voice to their parents or to a teacher if they are being bullied. Let an adult know, so that it can be addressed.
COSBY: You know, let me bring in Ash, because what about the bus driver, speaking of voicing opinions? The bus driver, we are told, went over and said, you know, you guys are going to have to break, break it up. What are you doing? That is apparently all the bus driver said, as we have been told.
So, Ash, you know, is that enough for a bus driver? Come on.
JOSHI: No. That‘s completely unacceptable.
Again, the bus driver is the adult. And every parent expects that their child will be safe on a public school bus. All they are doing is going to school. And the one person there who has a little more authority and a little bit more ability to control the situation is the bus driver. So, there‘s responsibility.
And this school has responsibility. If the school has ever known of these young men engaging in this type of behavior and still allow them to ride on the school bus, that‘s not acceptable either. So, there‘s...
COSBY: And, Ash, what—what about the kid, the 14-year-old kid? There‘s two of them. But, apparently, the 14-year-old is charged with assault and battery. Right thing to do, Ash?
JOSHI: Absolutely. You have to do it.
You can‘t say that, hey, he‘s only 14, but, if he had been 16, it‘s an assault. You have to look at the behavior. The behavior is clearly that of a violent assault. And whatever punishment he receives is what he deserves. It‘s terrible, and it‘s all caught on camera.
COSBY: Yes. Go ahead, Robi.
LUDWIG: I agree.
You really need to start early, because what we have found is that, with these bullies, they are more inclined to do poorly in school, to be at risk of antisocial behavior, truancy, shoplifting, violence. So, let‘s address the anger problem early on, so they don‘t have to go down that horrible route.
COSBY: Both of you, thanks so much.
And still ahead, everybody: It looks like “American Idol” winner Taylor Hicks is already cashing in on his big success. We will tell you what he‘s doing.
And, believe it or not, it appears that Britney Spears‘ husband has a job. That‘s right. K-Fed has a job. Your daily “Celebrity Dish” is coming up on LIVE & DIRECT.
COSBY: Well, Britney Spears may need backup singers when she performs, but where are the people who are supposed to be watching her back when she gives interviews?
Britney‘s publicist reportedly failed to show up for her interview last week with NBC, resulting in one of the strangest celebrity interviews in recent memory. Should Britney ever be left on her own again?
Let‘s ask Tom O‘Neil, senior editor with “In Touch Weekly,” and also Terri Seymour, a correspondent with “Extra TV.”
Terri, what on Earth were her publicists thinking?
TERRI SEYMOUR, CORRESPONDENT, “EXTRA TV”: It‘s pretty scary that they left her on her own, I have to admit. I mean, I think somebody should have been there to just point out, you know, her answers. I mean, she made a few mistakes.
SEYMOUR: Just a few, don‘t you think, Tom?
TOM O‘NEIL, SENIOR EDITOR, “IN TOUCH WEEKLY”: A few mistakes?
COSBY: Yes, Tom. What...
COSBY: Yes, Tom, what do you think?
SEYMOUR: I feel sorry.
COSBY: I mean, what should happen to her publicist, Tom?
O‘NEIL: Well, I—it was a case, I believe, of Britney just wanting to go solo without the publicist. I‘m sure that they wanted to be there.
COSBY: And, in fact, let me put up the quote. This is what one of her publicists had to say: “Britney is a grownup and makes her own decisions.”
Come on. But she‘s also a celebrity. Shouldn‘t she have handlers, Tom?
O‘NEIL: Yes. Well, in that statement right there is our answer. She makes her own decisions, which means she chose not to have the publicist there.
This is what happened to Tom Cruise one year ago, when he suddenly broke away from his publicist, Pat Kingsley, and said: I can handle this.
And we saw a meltdown there, too.
COSBY: You know, Terri, also, speaking of meltdowns, one of her eyelashes is coming off. Her makeup is all over the place. She looks terrible.
SEYMOUR: Oh, yes. She...
COSBY: What do you make of it, Terri?
SEYMOUR: She wanted to do—well, she made the decision to do her own makeup. I mean, when she started crying, the eyelash fell off. The mascara was all over the place. But it was her decision. She wanted to go that way.
COSBY: You know, Terri, this is a quote from “The New York Post.”
It says, “When the crew, the NBC crew, got there, they thought they had the wrong day. During the interview, no one was there to rein things in.”
SEYMOUR: Wrong day, because nobody was there.
COSBY: You know, Terri, what—what should happen to the publicist, in your opinion?
SEYMOUR: I don‘t think you can say what should happen to the publicist, because Britney is a grownup and Britney made the decision that she didn‘t want them there. I mean, normally, a publicist is so hands on. And they—Tom, they just...
O‘NEIL: Oh, yes. And they wanted to be there.
SEYMOUR: It was her decision.
O‘NEIL: This is a case of where Britney committed the first mistake of a superstar. And that is letting us see the real Britney.
We don‘t want to see the real Britney, any more than we wanted to see the real Tom Cruise. And when you saw her eyelashes...
COSBY: And speaking of the guy next to her, you know, Tom, K-Fed, her husband, he now has a job. He‘s appearing in ads. It‘s for a fashion company. Who would want this guy to promote their clothes, Tom?
COSBY: His pants are all over the place.
O‘NEIL: It‘s a little outfit—yes, it‘s called Blue Marlin, is the company.
Look, he‘s employed. Aren‘t we happy that this guy actually has a function in life?
O‘NEIL: And remember what Britney said during the—during the interview of why she loves him. She said, because he‘s simple.
COSBY: Well, that‘s a good, simple answer. Stick with us, both of you, because, when we come back, this probably isn‘t what you would expect to be Taylor Hicks‘ first music video. You are going to see it next. We are going to show you.
COSBY: Beware of copycat “Idol”s. All of the major TV networks are trying to capitalize on “American Idol”‘s success with their own variety shows. Even Simon Cowell is getting into the act with NBC‘s new show “America‘s Got Talent.” We talked about it here with him on our show.
So, will any of these copycats come close to “Idol”‘s success?
We are joined again by Tom O‘Neil, senior editor with “In Touch Weekly,” and also Terri Seymour, a correspondent with “Extra TV.” She‘s also Simon Cowell‘s girlfriend.
COSBY: You know, Terri, can Simon handle if it‘s not as big of a success, this next one, as “American Idol”?
SEYMOUR: I think “America‘s Got Talent” is going to be a huge success, first of all, Rita. And, you know, he is not—he has gone out and he has made a different show. He has always wanted to do a variety show. And it‘s completely different to “American Idol.” He is not setting out to beat “American Idol.” But I think it will be a huge success.
COSBY: You know, Tom, here‘s a list of the copycat shows, that one, which I think does look very interesting. You have got “America‘s Got Talent.” You have got that one. You have got “So You Think You Can Dance.” That‘s on FOX. CBS, “Rock Star.” ABC, this one, “Making a Music Star.”
Do you think any of them are going to have the traction, “Idol”‘s success?
O‘NEIL: No, because I think, even though Simon is producing “America‘s Got Talent,” it‘s not going to feature Simon on air. And he is the key element that makes that show so much fun, and—and Paula, whatever—whatever her state of sobriety is.
O‘NEIL: These—these—these characters are hilarious on the show, and the interplay between them and the contestants makes it.
All these other copycat shows are a good turn, though, in American television, because this is reality TV, where we see ordinary people competing for something positive.
O‘NEIL: This is not “Survivor.” These are not people screwing each other to vote each other off the islands. And this isn‘t humiliation TV. It‘s people competing with their talent. And I think that‘s a great thing for television.
COSBY: You know, one of the new shows, also, has a little bit of a Simon look-alike—or act-a-like, I should say. Here‘s a little clip of the sort of pseudo-Simon in action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just thought, guys, that you were like the Beach Boys, only without the talent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unbelievable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am going to be honest with you. It‘s OK, but go to California.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on the beach, a couple of surfboards, a couple of Buds, enjoy yourself, but...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... you know?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: Now, this guy is Pierce (ph).
And does he pierce your heart, like—like Simon? Is there something that you see, Terri, in him that saw in Simon?
SEYMOUR: Well, I know Pierce Morgan (ph) from England. And I have to say I think he has—he has got a Simon-esque quality about him. He‘s very honest. He‘s very funny. He‘s very quick.
But, no, he does not pierce my heart like Simon. Of course not.
COSBY: Of course. And that‘s the right answer.
Hey, you know, Taylor Hicks, of course, he has got a new—this is his new video. This is the first one sort of coming out post-“Idol,” not exactly what everybody would think. Here is a sneak peek, everyone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: It‘s here and it‘s big, the Ford model year clearance.
NARRATOR: The 2006 Ford Fusion, stylish and fuel-efficient. Now drive on us with zero percent financing. Plus, we will pay for your gas until 2007. Or you could drive a 2006 Fusion SE for just $189 a month, just $189 a month.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: You know, Tom O‘Neil, Soul Patrol selling Ford, what do you think?
O‘NEIL: I think Simon Cowell said it best when—when he described this guy as everybody‘s drunk dad at a wedding.
O‘NEIL: He has zero talent, but he has enormous appeal.
COSBY: You know, Terri, what do you think?
SEYMOUR: I don‘t quite know what to make of that, actually.
SEYMOUR: But, you know, Simon—Simon never rooted for him from the beginning. But America loves him.
COSBY: Well, that‘s what I was going to say.
COSBY: So many people love this guy. He really does, you know, have a lot of talent, a lot of pizzazz. I mean, do you think it is going to help Ford, Terri?
SEYMOUR: Do I hope it‘s going to help Ford? Oh, yes, I think it‘s going to help Ford, absolutely.
COSBY: Tom, do you agree, real quick?
SEYMOUR: Look how many...
What Taylor represents is every man in America, and that great spirit and spunk to get up there and perform a karaoke act in front of the nation and win a competition. He is going to sell a lot of cars.
COSBY: And a lot of people love him.
Guys, thank you both.
SEYMOUR: Thank you, Rita.
COSBY: And, everyone, this Thursday, we are going to go on the road with the “American Idol”s, as they get ready for their highly anticipated summer tour. And we are going to give you an all-access pass. If you have any questions or comments, send them to Rita.MSNBC.com. We are going to read some of them on the air as part of our special this Thursday.
And now let‘s go to Tucker and “THE SITUATION”—Tuck.
CARLSON: Thank you, Rita.
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