Guests: Tom O‘Neil, Katrina Szish, Jill Dobson, April Beyer, Debra Opri, Bethany McLean, Kennedy, Philip Recchio, Ric Robinson
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Keith. That is inspiring stuff. Thank you so much.
And right now in “Scarborough Country,” “Star wars” erupts over the Fourth of July as Star Jones targets ABC execs in her fight for revenge against Barbara Walters.
Plus, Oprah Winfrey said marriage wouldn‘t work for her and her man, Stedman, saying marriage is, quote, “not for me.” Is that message dangerous or liberating for her millions of female fans.
And “Scarborough Country” is talking about the shocking death of Ken Lay. The disgraced CEO died unexpectedly before the feds could lock him up for life. But everybody wants to know, what really killed him?
So much more, including Ann Coulter and asking whether she is a plagiarist or not.
Welcome to “Scarborough Country,” no passport required. Only common sense allowed. We‘re going to have all those stories straight ahead, but first, Star Jones is fighting back. In just a minute, we‘re going to get all the latest info from inside our all-star panel on the media wars between Barbara Walters, Star Jones and ABC execs.
But first, Jones has upped the ante this week by targeting Barbara Walters and ABC executives in a massive PR campaign that‘s had her showing up everywhere you turned. Star appeared on NBC‘s “Today Show” and responded to charges that her surprise announcement was premeditated from the start.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STAR JONES, FORMER COHOST, “THE VIEW”: Wow, I‘ve got a little bit of power, but not enough power to orchestrate something this big. Remember, you know, the network put out a 12-page document across the country trying to discredit me professionally and personally, saying all kinds of thing that we addressed last night. And I thought to myself, “If you or I or anybody had ever done the things that were listed, you would have been shown the door immediately.”
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So are you saying, the “People Magazine,” was that a coincidence?
JONES: No. Actually, it was their choice to leak a headline. That‘s what they did on the Internet. They leaked a headline. The question was, “What happened?” My contract was not renewed. My response to, “How did it make you feel,” that was the response.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, so when were you actually told your contract would no be renewed and who told you?
JONES: I was told in April, on April 21, and to a lot of people‘s surprise, my agent was called and my husband was called by my agent and he felt very strongly that he should be the one to get on a plane, come fly out and tell me himself. I was never told by my producers or my friends from nine years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So in other words, Barbara Walters nor Bill Geddie, the executive producer, told you.
JONES: Never, absolutely not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did that make you feel?
JONES: Well, you know, I understood the business decision. It doesn‘t make you feel good, but a friend of mine just told me this morning after 30 years of being a teacher in Michigan, she got a pink slip. I‘ve decided to look as it as a business decision and, Al, today is the last day I‘m going to discuss this. I‘ve made some mistakes. I have grown. I‘m moving to the next part of my life and my career.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Mm-mm, what an example for all of us, for our families and for our children. But now Star Jones is getting back. She‘s getting even. And she‘s pleading with fans to stage a protest against ABC and “The View.”
Jones is claiming on her home page that thousands of her fans are begging for a chance to complain to ABC execs for their firing of her.
So Star‘s decided over the last few days, give angry fans what they want: e-mail addresses for Barbara Walters and top ABC execs, who she claims gave her a pink slip.
With me now to talk about the latest round of “Star wars” and whether targeting ABC and Walters is a cheap shot are Tom O‘Neil. He‘s from “In Touch Weekly.” We‘ve got Jill Dobson from “Star Magazine.” We have Katrina Szish from “Us Weekly,” back with us again.
Tom, Star Jones targeting ABC execs. Is that fair play or do you think it‘s a sleazy stunt?
TOM O‘NEIL, “IN TOUCH WEEKLY”: Well, she just said in that tape you just played that she doesn‘t want to fight anymore, so she‘s marshalling her fans to do her fighting for her, which is brilliant because not only does she give addresses of these top executives on the Web site and an e-mail link, she gives you the instructions on how to use the e-mail link. That‘s how much she is determined for the fan to get through.
SCARBOROUGH: So you do think—I mean, do you think it‘s a fair move? You think it‘s a good PR move for her or do you think it‘s going to, in the end, backfire on her? Because some of these ABC execs get a few e-mails. They just sort of brush it off. But Star Jones becomes a woman who is basically black balled in Hollywood and New York and may not ever be able to get a job again because of this stunt.
O‘NEIL: But she‘s playing the victim, Joe, and she‘s playing it brilliantly. Even though she‘s lying, as obvious as it is, she tells Larry King, you know, I‘m never going to denigrate Ms. Walters,” one day after she calls her a hypocrite. She‘s claiming now she‘s always been up front about the stomach stapling, which, of course, she hasn‘t. But to play the victim, that‘s how you win over America. Remember, mainstream America is almost just inherently on her side because she represents the misfit woman of America, the woman who isn‘t the right color, the woman who isn‘t stacked like a model. So she‘s got an advantage.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Katrina, Barbara Walters and ABC may have done something that Star Jones could have never done before and that is make her appear to be a sympathetic figure.
KATRINA SZISH, “US WEEKLY”: I think that‘s actually true and I think when this whole thing first happened, I think me, along with everybody else, I kind of snickered and I thought, “You know what? Star had it coming.” But as I watched all these events unfold, whatever Star had done, whatever untruths she has said, the unfortunate thing is Barbara was also caught in a few lies. And so all around this whole thing just looks bad. And, again, as Tom pointed out, the person who is sort of being the victim is who people will sympathize with., even if a week prior they would have said, “No way.” But suddenly Star Jones is the victim and, oddly enough, ABC made her the victim.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, Katrina, Barbara Walters told a New York tabloid the following, quote, “The truth is I was looking to be so nice to her, I damaged my own credibility by trying to protect her. I feel sadness, but I‘m not sure I would have done it any other way.”
Katrina, I mean, Barbara Walters is getting down in the mud with Star Jones and in the end, it‘s going to be Barbara Walters who loses, right? At least her credibility.
SZISH: I don‘t know if either of these women are going to lose completely. Barbara Walters is Barbara Walters. She always will be Barbara Walters. This is a little blip on the Barbara Walters radar. I don‘t think it‘s going to damage her that much. However, I do think it is going to help Star. She lost out in terms of “The View.” She lost out in terms of ABC. However, I think there are many other networks and places out there looking to welcome Star.
SCARBOROUGH: But, again, the thing is, my point is if Barbara Walters, a respected trailblazer in the area of journalism, has gotten down in, you know, the ditch and somebody—at least I think somebody growing up told me, “Never get in a fight with a pig because you‘ll be fighting in the mud and the pig likes being there.” And I think that.
SCARBOROUGH: . Barbara Walters is really solely to reputation. Jill, let‘s get away from discussions over barnyard animals and instead talk about Star Jones‘s claim when she was on the “Today Show” that all of this was just such a surprise to her. Nothing premeditated there. You don‘t buy that for a second, do you?
JILL DOBSON, “STAR MAGAZINE”: No, not for a second. As a matter of fact, it was all planned out that she was going to make the announcement on a Thursday and she decided to make it on a Tuesday. And she was the one who said, “Wait, let‘s not talk about air conditioning right now. I have something that‘s been on my heart,” and that‘s when she made her announcement. It was her decision. She decided to do it. And I think the whole plan was premeditated. She is trying to get headlines, trying to stay in the media and get another job.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, Jill, she also knew that she was going to be fired. And there a lot of people out there who had come up when we did this show a couple of days ago, came up to me and said, “Well, what do you expect Star Jones to do? She knew she was going to be fired. I‘m glad she stood up for herself,” sort of the proverbial “You go, girl.” Does that help her?
DOBSON: Yes. She‘s a very smart woman. As an attorney, her strength was getting juries won over to her side and that‘s exactly what she‘s doing here. She‘s playing America and the audience to be won over to her side so that different employers will see her and think, “Hmm, people love Star. All these e-mails are going to ABC. Let‘s hire Star for our next show.”
SCARBOROUGH: Tom O‘Neil, according to your magazine, “In Touch Weekly,” Barbara Walters was furious about Jones‘ surprise announcement last week. And once backstage, Walters allegedly exploded at Jones, saying, quote, “What were you thinking?” Star responded by saying, quote, “You knew this was going to happen. You were just stringing me along.” Give us the back story on this fighting.
O‘NEIL: Right. This fighting has been going on for a long time. That‘s why it may seem strange to all of us to see somebody with the reserve and the normal diplomacy of a Barbara Walters to pop off this way. But she‘ really mad, Joe. Star has just been the ultimate non-team player, shall we say. And what this sets up in terms of diva smack-downs for us who love to watch these kinds of things is that, you know, Barbara was probably the original media iron maiden.
She was a big fighter publicly earlier in her career, not now. And Star, you know, I‘ll tell you this, I‘ll tattle on your show to this extent and say that one of the three top show biz entertainment shows, either “ET” or “Access” or “Extra,” one of them, recently I saw on their wall—this was before this whole story broke—their top list of the most horrible divas in show business and number one, above Russell Crowe and Sharon Stone and all the notorious ones, was Star Jones.
SCARBOROUGH: Even above me, that‘s shocking. Katrina?
O‘NEIL: Even above you.
SCARBOROUGH: But in the end, though.
SZISH: I think we‘re not this list.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, exactly.
SZISH: We don‘t think so.
SCARBOROUGH: In the end, though, bad behavior in America, in our culture, in Hollywood, in New York is rewarded in the end.
I mean, we‘ve all heard the stories, these people that go on TV or are in the movies and they‘ll sit there and smile for the cameras, but backstage they‘re just god-awful, terrible people to live with, terrible people to work with, terrible people to sit next to on camera. But in the end, if America‘s intrigued by Star Jones, networks don‘t care. They‘ll hire her, right?
SZISH: Absolutely. It doesn‘t necessarily matter what lies beneath these celebrity facades, whether they‘re actually nice people, whether they‘re really warm and fuzzy characters. It matters if you draw viewers, because remember, we all know that television is a business. It‘s a tough business. Star Jones is living that right now, but she will come out on top because she will inevitably draw viewers for somebody else.
SCARBOROUGH: And I was just going to ask all three of you and I‘ll start with you, Katrina. So your prediction is Star Jones will land on her feet.
SZISH: Star Jones will absolutely land on her feet. And we do have to remember here she through a professional nightmare that she has contributed to. But you have to remember she also is a person and as divalicious as she may be, this has got to hurt for her. This has got to hurt. Everyone can identify with this. Everyone‘s been fired, or most people have, and you‘ve got to identify with her a little bit as a person. And I‘m guilty of doing that.
SCARBOROUGH: And, Jill, let me ask you very quickly. Do you think Star‘s bad behavior will be rewarded?
DOBSON: I think it will be rewarded. I think she could have gone off quietly and returned to being an attorney. Instead she made a big fuss. We‘re still talking about it eight days later and I think we‘re going to be talking about her for a long time.
SCARBOROUGH: And, Tom O‘Neil, same prediction. Is she going to land on her feet? Is she going to get a good gig?
O‘NEIL: Short term, yes. And I already know about one major offer that she‘s received. But if this happens, if she takes it, it‘s going to be a solo gig and that‘s where she flops, as she flopped at “E” network. So she‘s better in a group. Let‘s hope she does a kind of “View” thing next time around.
SCARBOROUGH: Very good. Thank you so much. Tom O‘Neil, Jill Dobson and Katrina Szish, greatly appreciate you being with us. And we want to know what you think. Did Star Jones get a raw deal? Go to Joe.msnbc.com to vote. We‘ll have the results of that at the end of the show.
Still to come to night, Oprah won‘t do it, neither George Clooney or Susan Sarandon. Some of the biggest celebrities in America are saying “I don‘t” to marriage. And make no mistake, it‘s having an effect on everyday Americans.
And the face of corporate greed meets his maker, so they say, before he can be sentenced for his crimes. Ken Lay‘s unexpected death. We‘ll talk about that when “Scarborough Country” returns.
SCARBOROUGH: Oprah says “I don‘t” and says marriage just wouldn‘t work for her and her man. But is Oprah Winfrey‘s message damaging to American women or liberating? We‘ll talk about that and whether Hollywood hates marriage when “Scarborough Country” returns.
SCARBOROUGH: If you‘re the gossip magazines, you probably think every celebrity under the Hollywood sun is getting married. But, in fact, there‘s a growing trend among Hollywood stars and other celebs to thumb their noses at marriage. Oprah and her longtime steady, Stedman Graham, have been together for 20 years and he‘s popped the question, but don‘t expect them to walk down the aisle anytime soon. And it‘s not just Oprah. George Clooney has one failed marriage behind him and says he will never marry again.
Another famous bachelor, Johnny Depp, has two kids with his current girlfriend, but no marriage license, in France. And the celebrity couples of the moment, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, also Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie both put baby before marriage.
With me now to talk about a growing trend, we‘ve got relationship coach, April Beyer. We also have Jill Dobson from “Star Magazine” and celebrity attorney, Debra Opri.
April, let me start with you. Do you think Oprah‘s disdain or dislike, or however you want to characterize it, for marriage in her own life may have a negative impact on the millions of women that watch your show every day?
APRIL BEYER, RELATIONSHIP COACH: Well, Joe, it certainly doesn‘t help. I can‘t possibly imagine that that kind of attitude could be something positive for the American woman. These are celebrities and they‘re the exception, not the rule, when these relationships actually work, when there isn‘t marriages. And, again, since when did Hollywood setting the bar for what we should all be doing in a relationship?
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, let me put up what Oprah had to say about her relationship with Stedman. She said, quote, “I do believe that had we gotten married, we would not be together today. The traditional role of marriage would not work in this relationship.”
Is that just Oprah‘s disdain or do we see that more and more not only in Hollywood, but also with superstars in a lot of different areas?
BEYER: I think it‘s in a lot of different areas, but especially with superstars. I think commitment is a choice and they‘re not choosing to make that type of commitment. Certainly marriage is wonderful for most people. It‘s not marriages that fail. It‘s levels of commitment that fail. And if Oprah is saying that her relationship wouldn‘t have survived marriage, then what kind of relationship do they have would be my question.
SCARBOROUGH: Deborah, do Hollywood and stars and people like Oprah live by different rules when it comes to relationships than the rest of middle America?
DEBRA OPRI, CELEBRITY ATTORNEY: No. You know, Joe, I‘m so glad you asked me to be on this panel tonight. Oprah Winfrey, who wants to be Mr. Winfrey? It‘s all the specific facts before you. I mean, with George Clooney, why should he share the stage with any woman?
As far as the other individuals you mention, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, I think of Eddie Fisher-Elizabeth Taylor. As far as Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, it‘s what we don‘t know about that that we should be concerned about.
What is the choice? The choice is celebrities are under the glaring microscope and Oprah Winfrey shouldn‘t be setting the example for anyone but herself.
As far as the other individuals you talked about, you know, look at it this way. If you‘re going into a celebrity marriage vs. any marriage, it‘s what you‘re looking for. Is it a business relationship, like my husband started off our marriage with? Is it a love thing, infatuation, or are there common purposes, i.e., we make a great couple? These are all the individual questions we ask.
SCARBOROUGH: But you know, Debra, wouldn‘t you say, though—Debra, you said—and we‘re saying here we shouldn‘t Hollywood stars, we shouldn‘t look to Oprah Winfrey for advice or for guidance. But, you know, millions of women go to Oprah every single day, not just on marriage, but for what face cream to put on.
OPRI: Hey, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: For what shoes to wear.
SCARBOROUGH: For what cars to drive. I mean, come on, she impacts...
OPRI: You know what I notice?
SCARBOROUGH: . millions of people‘s lives.
ORPI: You know what I notice? I notice that celebrities and entertainers are starting to impact shows like you. Talk shows, news shows are all going straight entertainment line. You know why? Everybody wants to live vicariously through these entertainers.
I‘ve been behind the doors, the closed doors of entertainers and a lot of them are very sad. A lot of them are very happy when they live a down-to-earth, clean life and think of the priorities of “you and me and the kids and we work to live, we don‘t live to work.”
And unfortunately, with many of the celebrities today, the image and the jobs and the movie roles, you know, it plays a big part.
But let‘s get back to the sanctity of marriage. Is marriage right for everyone? It certainly isn‘t with Oprah Winfrey. She doesn‘t need a husband.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Jill Dobson, also, forget about Oprah for a second and let‘s talk about some of these Hollywood stars we‘ve been talking about. It‘s like “Temptation Island.” It‘s like a real life version of “Temptation Island” if you‘re Tom Cruise, if you‘re Katie Holmes, if you‘re Brad Pitt, if you‘re Angelina Jolie. Everywhere you go you‘ve got people scratching and clawing at you.
There‘s no way that mere mortals could even begin to imagine the type of pressures these people have to be under every single day. So is it, like, for instance, with George Clooney, is it actually—probably a pretty wise thing for George Clooney to do to say, “You know what? I just can‘t make that commitment right now because I‘m not superhuman. I don‘t know if I can keep it.”
DOBSON: Yes. If you look at the track record of celebrity marriages, they very rarely last. So I think a lot of celebrities are saying, “You know what? Forget it. I‘m not even going to try.”
Plus, once two celebrities get married, then they have all that media speculation about their wedding and the millions of dollars they put into their wedding. And then comes the question, “Well, how long is it going to last? Are they divorcing? Are they fighting?”
So they can avoid all of that if they just stay in a long-term relationship.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, thank you so much, April. Thank you, Jill, and thank you, Debra Opri.
OPRI: Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: Greatly appreciate it. And I‘ve got to say one of the most remarkable celebrity marriages that most of us have seen, actually, it was Paul McCartney‘s first marriage to his wife, Linda.
Through all their years, before she died of cancer, they only spent I think three nights apart. And, again, here was one of the most popular men on the planet. It was a remarkable love story. Unfortunately, that‘s the exception and not the rule.
Turning now to the shocking news today that Enron founder Ken Lay died suddenly of a heart attack.
NBC‘s Don Teague tracked that story down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON TEAGUE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was the last Independence Day Kenneth Lay would have spent as a free man. The Enron founder and his family were vacationing at his Colorado home when Lay suffered a massive heart attack. He died early this morning.
DR. STEVE WENDE, FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH: He‘s been under tremendous stress. His faith has held him up. His family and friends have held him up.
TEAGUE: Lay and former Enron CEO, Jeffrey Skilling, faced sentencing this fall for numerous fraud and conspiracy convictions related to Enron‘s collapse.
He last spoke publicly after his conviction just six weeks ago.
KENNETH LAY, FOUNDER OF ENRON: Despite what happened today, I am still a very blessed man.
TEAGUE: The Enron bankruptcy cost thousands of employees their jobs and retirement accounts. Investors in the company lost billions.
SCOTT COHN, CNBC: The jury determined that Ken Lay lied about the Health of his company and should be held to account.
TEAGUE: At Enron‘s peak, Ken Lay was an American success story. In his death, journalist Bethany McLean says he may be remembered as an example of corporate greed.
BETHANY MCLEAN, COAUTHOR, “THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM”: Mention Ken Lay to anybody today and they say, “Enron, corporate corruption, fraud, the era of excess.”
TEAGUE: During the trial, Lay claimed his personal fortune was gone. But in filings just last week, prosecutors said his assets total nearly $8 million, including this luxury condo here in Houston.
Prosecutors today aren‘t commenting on Lay‘s death and his family asked that their privacy be respected.
Meanwhile, former Enron employees are left stunned.
CONNIE CASTILLO, FMR. ENRON EMPLOYEE: No matter how bad or whatever he did, he loved his family and that was pretty clear.
TEAGUE: An unexpected end to what for many was already a tragic story.
Don Teague, “NBC News,” Houston.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Well, I‘ll tell you what. There is a story, a cautionary tale for all of us.
Ken Lay, a man who, just five-six years ago, friends of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, prime ministers, the most powerful people in America and across the world and how quickly it all went away.
He lost his reputation. He lost his fortune. He lost his business.
And he lost his life.
When we come back, Hollywood stars on a hunger strike to protest the Iraq war. We‘ll talk about that and much more when “Scarborough Country” returns.
SCARBOROUGH: You‘ve heard the old saying, “Kids, don‘t try this at home,” but these kids are and they‘re putting it on the Internet, endangering themselves and making their parents targets of big, fat lawsuits.
We‘ll bring you that story and ask if Ann Coulter is guilty of plagiarism when we return. But first, here‘s the latest news you and your family need to know.
MELISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hello. I‘m Melissa Rehberger. And here‘s what‘s happening.
In his first public comments on North Korea‘s missile test, President Bush says the country has further isolated itself and he calls that “sad” for the people of North Korea.
Officials say North Korea test fired six missiles yesterday and a seventh today, including one long range missile. That failed within a minute after takeoff.
Meanwhile, U.S. intelligence officials tells “NBC News” it appears North Korea is preparing to launch another long range missile.
NASA says early inspections show no major damage to the space shuttle “Discovery” during yesterday‘s launch. However, officials say today‘s inspection did uncover a thermal tiled pillar poking out about a half an inch out of the belly of “Discovery.” Engineers don‘t think that‘s a problem, though.
“Discovery” is scheduled to dock with the international space station tomorrow.
And oil closed at a record high, above $75 a barrel. Gasoline futures also climbed more than five cents a gallon. Analysts say that could push averages U.S. pump prices past $3 by this weekend.
Now back to “Scarborough Country.”
SCARBOROUGH: Is Ann Coulter guilty of plagiarism? New charges of parts of her book are ripped off from the “New York Post.”
And, later, teenagers doing anything they can to be a star on the Web.
I‘ll be asking who‘s responsible for protecting our kids from themselves. Welcome back to “Scarborough Country.” We‘re going to be talking about those stories in just minutes.
But first, Hollywood stars not eating? No, we‘re not talking about Keira Knightly or Lindsay Lohan. When they go on a diet, it‘s serious.
But over the holiday, the usual suspects in Tinsel Town signed up for what they call a “rolling fast” to help support anti-war activist, Cindy Sheehan.
Now, Sheehan says she‘s going to go without food until September. The question is how long will these self-important political wannabes go without their sushi. For a whole 24 hours? Well, that‘s what they are saying.
Then just about the time they get the munchies again, they‘ll pass the torch to somebody else to keep the fast rolling.
How‘s that for sacrifice in a time of war?
Let‘s bring in right now Kennedy. She‘s the host of “Reality Remix.”
And, Kennedy, you say people like Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn shouldn‘t go on a hunger strike. Why?
KENNEDY, HOST, “REALITY REMIX”: Because I think Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn honestly are two of our finest actors and we cannot afford to lose them. I normally don‘t agree with them on anything politically, but artistically, those two are at the top of their game and they need to stay in fighting form. Now, someone like Ed Asner, Mike Farrell, go on the hunger strike. Go ahead. Do Star Jones‘ Pilates. Do whatever you have to do. Lose a few. That‘s OK.
And you know what it made me realize? Maybe Nicole Ritchey this entire time has been doing a political protest. Maybe she‘s been fasting for peace.
SCARBOROUGH: She could be. Who knows? But you are really concerned that 24 hours of Susan Sarandon without having French food or sushi is really going to take her out of the game in Hollywood? Twenty-four hours, not a big sacrifice.
KENNEDY: Yes, 24 hours.
SCARBOROUGH: Isn‘t that more like Yom Kippur or Ramadan?
KENNEDY: Yes, exactly. I mean, didn‘t Hakeem “the dream” fast during the entire NBA finals because it was Ramadan? I have more respect for someone like that who can play four quarters of basketball on water than someone who‘s, you know, not really eating wheat or any gluten for 24 hours because they‘re protesting the war.
And, you know, I understand there a lot people, whether you‘re conservative, liberal, in Hollywood or Illinois that are totally opposed to the war and there are many, many legitimate arguments opposing the war. However, a rolling fast may not be the most effective tool for getting your message across. Call me crazy.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Kennedy, let me tell you actually what these stars are asking for. They are not going to eat for 24 hours so to bring about the following results: one, the withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq; number two, no permanent bases in Iraq; and, number three, a commitment to fund a massive reconstruction effort, but with funds going to Iraqi and not U.S. contractors.
A serious point here. Do you think they‘re winning over any fans out there at all? Do you think anybody‘s paying attention to them or do they seem to trivialize their points even more?
KENNEDY: I think they are trivializing the points. I think their points are actually very because if you have an immediate withdrawal of troops in Iraq, I think logic would tell you that the country would devolve to civil war and a lot of people would die. And that would be the worst scenario.
You know, I don‘t want men and women fighting for this country to die needlessly. I don‘t think anybody does. But I think pulling troops out is so reactionary and so dangerous and it puts the Middle East in such an unstable position and it weakens our position as the world superpower.
I like to be part of the world superpower. I think there‘s something very heroic and wonderful about it. And I think we have the best technology on the planet and if American firms are fighting for those contracts, maybe that technology would better serve the Iraqi people and they would have safer school schools, buildings and infrastructure so they could prosper as a sovereign nation in the future.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Hey, Kennedy, thank you so much. We‘re going to be following these hunger strikes all summer and maybe you and I can report live from ‘The Ivy” in Hollywood and report—after they finish fasting for 24 hours, we can catch them as they‘re going down the street. Thanks so much, Kennedy. Greatly appreciate it.
KENNEDY: Thanks, Joe. Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: Ann Coulter‘s back in the news, but not because of any hunger strike. This time it‘s for accusations of plagiarism in her bestselling book, “Godless.” Also accusations centering around two of her syndicated columns.
Let‘s bring in right now Philip Recchia, who broke the story for the “New York Post.”
Phil, thanks so much for being with us to night. I guess the $64,000 question, for all those people that bought Ann Coulter‘s book, is she guilty of plagiarism?
PHILIP RECCHIA, “NEW YORK POST”: There‘s one passage early on in the book, I think it‘s page 5, when she‘s talking about liberals being environmentally aware to the point of being counterproductive and she cites—she has a 31-word passage. She talks about a main dam which was halted in 1975, I believe, because they found a rare plant they thought was going to go extinct.
Now, what Barry found was that that same passage, verbatim, appeared six years earlier in a local newspaper in Portland, Maine, and nowhere in her book is that newspaper cited.
SCARBOROUGH: In a case like this, though, in the “Portland Press Herald case,” what‘s the big deal? Because it seems to me that she‘s just setting up the facts of this particular incident and certainly no editorializing or certainly not a lot original thought there, right?
RECCHIA: Well, some may say that and she may counter, at some point, “this is nitpicking.” But first and foremost, you know, my opinion is that is it fair to the writer who wrote this.
If you look in the back of her book, there are hundreds of citations for other works. Why not this one? Why not several others? What‘s wrong with citing that passage?
SCARBOROUGH: Is there going to be backlash for Coulter? Obviously, the controversy only fuels sales for her book.. But do you think publishers are going to be a bit more wary in the future if, in fact, these charges of plagiarism linger?
RECCHIA: I think they‘d have to really and the new revelations that we reported recently, two days ago, were that not only in “Godless,” in her book are there several alleged instances of plagiarism, but in her syndicated columns there were two more flagrant examples, if you will.
One was in the “Los Angeles Times,” in one of Coulter‘s columns from 2005, she had talked about Supreme Court Justice David Souter and there are, I think, six passages of 10 to 48 words each that appear in the same order in her column that also appeared in the “Los Angeles Times,” 15 years earlier.
Is that a coincidence? Who knows? But, again, you look at numbers like there‘s a 100 million to one chance that would have occurred. So I think that the big media companies, the publishers, the syndicates are going to have to, at some point, look at this and take it under their responsibility for checking for plagiarism, not leaving it up tot he author.
SCARBOROUGH: I think you‘re right. Hey, Philip, thank you so much for being with us.
RECCHIO: Thank you, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: We greatly appreciate it.
RECCHIO: Any time.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘m joined now by Rita Cosby. She‘s host of “Rita Cosby Live and Direct.” Rita, what do you have coming up for us at 10?
RITA COSBY, MSNBC HOST: Well, we have a lot, Joe.
Tonight we have a massive manhunt for a suspect known as the “baseline rapist.” Police think he is responsible for 19 brutal attacks in the Phoenix, Arizona area five of which ended in murder.
We‘re going to tell you who police are looking for and how they know that these 19 attacks are linked.
Plus, two armed convicts are on the run in Oklahoma tonight. Find out how they escaped from jail and why where they are now.
Plus, actor Woody Harrelson has played some very tough guys on. Now he‘s playing one with the paparazzi. We have some incredible pictures of him literally choking a photographer. You‘ve got to see that.
We‘re going to have that, Joe, and a whole lot more live and direct at the top of the hour.
SCARBOROUGH: You actually have Woody Harrelson on tape choking a member of the paparazzi?
COSBY: Yes, and doing a lot more. So you‘ve got to tune in.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. I think that guy got in trouble in London in a cab a couple of years back, kicking. Hey, I tell you what, it‘s a runaway beer truck when we have Woody Harrelson on. Hey, thanks so much, Rita.
COSBY: Thanks, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Greatly appreciate it.
Coming up next here, kids risking life and limb for fame on the Worldwide Web. And, parents, listen up, you could be held responsible for what these idiots do.
And why would a man ride his lawnmower through a desert at over 80 miles per hour?
SCARBOROUGH: They‘re all over the Internet and if you visit Web sites like Google or YOUTUBE.com, you‘ve seen them. Videotaped images of young people lighting themselves on fire, shooting each other with BB guns and weaving their way through oncoming traffic. In fact, the Internet is becoming a very dangerous world of teens who are trying to one-up each other by performing dangerous stunts that could lead to serious injury or even death. You know, “MTV‘s Jackass” was the first show to feature taped stunts like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNNY KNOXVILLE, “MTV‘S JACKASS”: My name is Johnny Knoxville and today I‘m going to jump the L.A. River.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: But now the Internet may be presenting a new threat to kids willing to do anything to get their 15 minutes of fame. Take a look.
SCARBOROUGH: With me now we‘ve got MSNBC.com technology correspondent Bob Sullivan. He‘s just finished an investigation into the Web sites that host some of the videos you saw. And, also, former West Virginia state trooper Ric Robinson.
Let me start with you, Bob. You combed through hundreds of these Internet sites during your investigation about the Web sites. Talk about it. Were you surprised by what you saw?
BOB SULLIVAN, MSNBC.COM CORRESPONDENT: You know, not only was I surprised, but even as I was just watching your segment there, it still bothers me.
You see this fireworks exploding. That one gentleman you showed who actually had his face on fire and he was unable to put it out after trying that stunt with the banana suit.
It‘s really very disturbing. And what‘s interesting is there seems to be this line. Some of these videos are funny. When I showed them around the newsroom, some people found some elements of them, you know, sort of silly or sarcastic. Maybe some of those biking stunts aren‘t as bad or aren‘t as painful as they might look at first blush.
But other incidents, I saw a video of a guy who literally has a dry ice bomb blow up in his hand and it looks, at first instance, like his hand is gone. It‘s incredibly bloody. There‘s blood all over. His friends are clamoring about.
It‘s very disturbing to see.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s very disturbing. And as the parent of two teenaged boys, I can tell you, sometimes they don‘t make the most logical decisions. They see this stuff going on on TV and on the Internet and you have like this kid in a banana suit who thought he was going to be extinguished and then it went below the top and caught him on fire.
I mean, Bob, I want people to see what you say in your investigation about the Web sites that host these stunt videos.
You say, quote, “When predictable things happen on your property, you‘re partly to blame. You don‘t get to build a rickety playground on your property, invite children in, and then wipe your hands clean if the swing breaks and a child gets hurt.”
SULLIVAN: Well, look, there‘s a lot of responsibility to go around here. When I did the first story on this, I got a ton of e-mail from people saying, Leave Google alone, leave YOUTUBE alone. This is up to parents. This is about personal responsibility. It‘s up to kids to not do stupid things. It has nothing to do with Google.”
And I just don‘t think that that‘s fair. I think there‘s plenty of blame to go around. Companies like Google and YouTube are obviously creating an outlet for these videos.
And we know the truth is, and you and I know from this business, people do things in front of cameras that they wouldn‘t do otherwise.
So it‘s up to these companies like Google and like YouTube to take some responsibility for providing the platform that‘s used to share these videos. And I think there‘s no question that some of these violent stunts are encouraged by the fact that when you do them in front of a camera, Google might allow you to reach an audience of millions of people.
SCARBOROUGH: Millions of people and yet they‘re not making money.
It‘s Google that‘s making the money on advertisements and YouTube.
Ric, you were in law enforcement. Who‘s responsible here?
RIC ROBINSON, FMR. STATE TROOPER: Well, there‘s actually a couple of different areas. There‘s the criminal liability and there‘s also civil liability.
You know, Jenny Jones, I just happened to think, a couple of years ago, she had an interview where somebody died shortly after that interview, perhaps as a direct result of it. She was hauled into court criminally and civilly.
Oprah said something about hamburger a few years ago. She ended up in court.
You are held responsible for what you do or what you don‘t do. And as a parent, if you fail to protect your children, if you do something to harm them or by omission, your child‘s welfare is in some way injured, then you can be held criminally responsible. You can have your kids taken away, which in some cases I think is probably a good idea.
SCARBOROUGH: So parents who may be responsible, like, for instance, for one of those stunts, obviously, if that child hanging upside down is in a parent‘s backyard and it‘s happening there, that parent can be held liable, right?
ROBINSON: Well, anytime anything happens that you in some way are involved in or you failed to become involved, then you can be held liable. If you take, for instance, you go someplace and have a few drinks and when you‘re obviously drunk, the bartender gives you another drink and maybe even another drink. He can be held vicariously responsible for anything that you do when you leave that bar, if you harm yourself or you hurt somebody else. So it‘s not just the parents who should and will be held responsible. You can count on that. But the different dot-coms that are putting these on, selling advertising, they will be held responsible.
You see lawyers all the time with their 800 numbers, if you‘ve taken this pill or you digested this or you think you‘ve smelled that or whatever, call this 800 number and get involved in the lawsuit.
SCARBOROUGH: And, Bob, you talked about a new phenomenon and as we go, before we go, very quickly, talk about e-celebrities.
SULLIVAN: Well, I think almost everybody who‘s been on the Internet has seen this “Numa Numa” dance video, for example.
About every three or four months there is a video that just makes its way around the Internet and virtually everybody sees it. It‘s the 15 minutes of fame Internet style and that‘s what a lot of these sites are really trying to capitalize on, how many folks out there, I mean, especially young people want their 15 minutes. They want to be the e-celebrity for this quarter and they‘re risking life and limb to do it, as you mentioned.
SCARBOROUGH: I tell you what, it‘s very dangerous. Thank you for being with us. Greatly appreciate it.
And I should mention that “NBC” has just partnered up with “YouTube” to rebroadcast network shows. Obviously, not the kind of videos we‘ve just seen here tonight.
But thanks a lot, Bob Sullivan and Ric Robinson. Greatly appreciate you being with us.
And coming up next, the local anchorman who‘s mad as heck and he ain‘t going to take it anymore. Ron Burgundy would be proud. Stick around for must see S.C.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, it‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C,” video you‘ve just got to see. First up, it‘s tough being a news anchor, even in, of all places, Hawaii. KHON anchor Joe Moore had about all he could stand with his studio equipment and let loose on the air.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE MOORE, KHON ANCHOR, HAWAII: Good evening and thank you for joining—oh, no, the echo‘s back. Is it going over the air? Yes. Well, let‘s see if we can straighten that out. I‘ll just sit and wait. New automated system we have. Is it better now? They don‘t hear it now. How come I can hear it in here? I tell you what. We‘re going to go to commercial. We‘re going to get this straightened out, because I‘m fed up with this crap.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Don‘t worry, Joe, even the pros have bad days.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RON BURGUNDY, “CHANNEL 4” ANCHOR: Well, that‘s going to do it for all of us here at “Channel 4 News.” You stay classy, San Diego. I‘m Ron Burgundy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Damn it, who typed a question mark on the teleprompter? For the last time, anything you put on that prompter Burgundy will read.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: We‘ll be right back. We‘ll be back.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, the results are in for our live “Scarborough Country” poll. The question is did Star Jones get a raw deal.
Well, 35 percent say yes, 65 percent say no, sit down, Star, and shut up. Time for the mail bag. First we go to Robin in Albuquerque. She says, “Thank you so much for your dead on comment about the unprofessional manner in which Barbara Walters handled the Star Jones exit. You summed it beautifully.”
Thank you so much, Robin. And send your beautiful e-mails to
Joe@MSNBC.com and include your name and hometown. That‘s all the time we have for tonight. Stick around because Rita‘s up next.
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