Guests: John McCain, Peter King, Rob Chilton, Tina Dirmann, Jill Dobson, R. Couri Hay, Galina Espinoza, Steve Adubato, Belinda Luscombe
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Tonight: Israel hints at a full-scale invasion. U.S. leaders target Syria. And Lebanon descends into anarchy as the world braces for a terrifying war. Israel continues its campaign to crush Hezbollah, while the U.N. blasts the Jewish state for using excessive force. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announces her arrival in the war zone next week. Plus, the Hezbollah terror leader tells the world he‘s alive and well and planning more death and destruction for Israel just one day after Israel dropped a 23-ton bomb on his secret bunker.
And for the first time in more than 20 years, Marines march on Lebanon to rescue trapped Americans.
And later in the show, from Hezbollah to Hollywood Babylon, Britney Spears, the pop tart, is posing naked in a national magazine. But what does it say about Americans that her PR crew is stripping her down to build up her image? And a new twist in Christie Brinkley‘s marriage mess, a $15 million Hampton mansion where the thug took his teenage Lolita is on the front page of New York papers today. We‘ll tell you about it. Plus, SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY invades Colbert Nation.
But first, we begin with the latest from the Mideast. We‘re going to have complete coverage from the region with MSNBC‘s Tucker Carlson and NBC Tel Aviv bureau chief Martin Fletcher. What a day it‘s been over there. Plus, Arizona senator John McCain talks tough on terrorists and Teheran.
But we begin coverage tonight in the northern Israeli city of Haifa and NBC‘s Martin Fletcher. Martin, what do you have?
MARTIN FLETCHER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Joe, there more and more reports that Israel‘s going to Plan B, a limited ground invasion of south Lebanon.
(voice-over): Another warning to Israel toady of the cost of ground war, two more Israeli soldiers dead, hit just inside Lebanon by Hezbollah fighters. Israeli special forces are searching for tunnels and caves used to store and fire Katyusha rockets. Military sources say some tunnels are as deep as 120 feet and hidden below private houses.
After nine days, Israel has destroyed about half of Hezbollah‘s rockets, infrastructure. According to Israel‘s former defense minister, that would still leave Hezbollah with about 7,000 rockets. The big question now, to destroy the weapons, will Israel have to launch a ground invasion, risking the lives of more soldiers?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you‘re going to see is relatively large forces, but in very small units, carrying out search-and-destroy missions.
FLETCHER: The drama in Lebanon is drowning out the killing in Gaza, the fourth week of violent clashes between Islamic militants from Hamas and Israeli troops. A hundred and ten Palestinians have died, half of them fighters. Israel is still attacking the offices of Hamas government leaders, as well as the militia groups, but there‘s no progress in bringing home Corporal Gilad Shalit. His kidnapping almost a month ago sparked this latest blood-letting.
Today, Hamas marched in support of Hezbollah, calling for the death of more soldiers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Palestinian and Lebanese resistance before the Israeli escalation will continue.
FLETCHER: No end in sight in Gaza or Lebanon.
And some better news for Israel. Today, there was a dramatic drop in the firing of Katyusha rockets. About 30 hit, down from more than 100 yesterday. They caused little damage and no casualties—Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Thank you so much. NBC‘s Martin Fletcher. Greatly appreciate that report.
If what Martin is saying is the case and a lot less rockets are coming over into Israel, maybe Israel‘s campaign to beat Hezbollah into submission may actually be working.
Well, MSNBC‘s Tucker Carlson can give us an update. He‘s live tonight in Haifa. Tucker, I understand you went to the border and actually got a close-up look at some of the hotspots today, sort of the no-man‘s-land out there. Tell us what you saw.
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “TUCKER”: We sure did, Joe. And you really get a sense of why this war may have been inevitable, at least the war with Lebanon. Israel left Lebanon six years ago, and in that time, Hezbollah has set up camp all along the border. And when we say along the border, I mean literally on the border. We were in an agricultural town today probably about 20 miles north of here, directly on the border, called Metula. It‘s an orchard town where the farmers there have a pretty prosperous business growing apples and nectarines and kiwi fruits. And their orchards are within spitting distance of Hezbollah encampments, places that are actually flying the yellow-and-green flag of Hezbollah.
We went into an orchard this afternoon that was bordered by concrete blast walls right up next to the trees. In the distance, we could hear—could hear—in fact, we were swayed by the concussion of Israeli artillery pounding again and again and again southern Lebanon.
I don‘t know if the U.N. is right to call it excessive force, but it certainly is force. There‘s no question about that. And again, you can see why. In the six years that Israel has pulled out of Lebanon, almost no Arabs cross over anymore. For the 18 years that Israel controlled Lebanon, all the farms along the border were worked by Arab workers. The second Israel left, the border was shut down. Those workers were replaced by Thai workers or other workers from foreign countries. And contact between the two nations basically ceased and became incredibly hostile.
So you know, I‘m not endorsing this war, but I certainly understand why it happened, at least along with—the war with Lebanon.
SCARBOROUGH: And Tucker, reports today that Israel may be planning an imminent invasion of Lebanon. What are you hearing on that front?
CARLSON: Well, you can certainly see why. I mean, again, we are even now hearing—and we‘re in Haifa, which is 20 miles south of the border, and you know, I‘ll be honest, a pretty safe place. (INAUDIBLE) bring my family here. It‘s a lovely place. Even here, you can hear the bombing going on. And even now, at this hour, Hezbollah TV is still up and running and available. You can pull it up on satellite where you are, Joe, back at MSNBC. I mean, the Israelis have not succeeded in knocking even the Hezbollah TV station off the air. They‘ve not succeeded from—you know, in preventing the rockets from coming over the border. There‘s no anti-missile defense system for Katyusha rockets. You know, only 30 of them landed here today, but it‘s not clear that that‘s not part of a longer strategy.
CARLSON: So the point, very quickly, is, if you‘re going to destroy Hezbollah, you probably can‘t do it from the air. You probably need to do it on the ground. The Israeli public is very wary of that, but I think it‘s going to happen.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Tucker Carlson, greatly appreciate your insight. Thank you so much.
CARLSON: Thanks, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: ... Kofi Annan came out today talking about a ceasefire. Of course, all a ceasefire is going to do is allow Hezbollah to do what it‘s done over the past six years, and that‘s build up more and more weapons systems so they can attack Israelis. Of course, Israel decided that they were going to let Lebanon decide what its future was going to be. What did Lebanon do? They allowed a terror organization to occupy the southern half of their country.
And because they occupied the southern half of their country with the permission of the Lebanese government, the Lebanese government, unfortunately, has put itself in a position where it‘s going to have to, unfortunately, face the consequences. And those consequences are going to be an Israeli invasion. And Kofi Annan?
This should be the last guy in the world to criticize Israel. After all, there are U.N. peacekeeping forces there right now, and what have they done? Well, you know what they‘ve done? They‘ve done what U.N. peacekeeping forces across the world have done over the past 40 years, and that is nothing. Absolutely nothing.
So the question is, should Israel go into Iraq? I mean, I‘m sorry. Should Israel go into Lebanon? And if so, what scale of invasion will there be? And what‘s going to be required for Israel to go into Lebanon and finally, finally, after years of terror, terror that even cost American lives, finally eliminate Hezbollah?
We‘re pleased to be joined now by Senator John McCain. Senator McCain, Kofi Annan has called for an immediate ceasefire in the hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah. Do you think that‘s a wise move right now?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA: I don‘t, unless it includes the disarmament of Hezbollah and the reassertion of the authority of the Lebanese government over southern Lebanon. Otherwise, you would just have a truce which the Hezbollah could be capable of breaking at any time, maybe even after they‘re resupplied by the Iranians.
SCARBOROUGH: Is it time for Israel to destroy Hezbollah as an armed force?
MCCAIN: Oh, I think so. And as important, the Lebanese government (INAUDIBLE) have control of its own country. It‘s time to enforce Security Council Resolution 1559, which called for the disarmament of Hezbollah and the Lebanese government controlling it‘s own territory. That‘s not a—you know, a difficult task. Excuse me. It‘s a difficult task, but it‘s not something that sounds pretty—looks very radical. In fact, every nation should control its own—within its own borders.
SCARBOROUGH: All this talk about Hezbollah—the bigger problem, the bigger disease is Iran, is it not? And if that is the case, how do we finally put Teheran‘s government back on their heels?
MCCAIN: The first thing I would do now, Joe, right away, I would go to the United Nations Security Council and I would say, It‘s time to invoke sanctions on Iran because of the nuclear weapons issue. And we would tell China and Russia, This is a defining issue. This is a defining issue in our relationships. And that‘s—and that‘s what I would do to start with. Then of course, I would tell the Iranians that we will not—as the president, I think, has already said, we will not allow Iran to fire nuclear weapons.
SCARBOROUGH: And finally, Senator, suggestions today that Israel is seriously considering moving in with ground troops for a full-scale invasion of Lebanon, at least southern Lebanon, to try to root out Hezbollah forces. Do you think that‘s a mistake?
MCCAIN: That‘s a tactical decision, but I would—I would want to point out that Israel did evacuate southern Lebanon voluntarily. They did evacuate Gaza. They were willing to evacuate 90 percent of the West Bank. And this is what they got in return, attacks across Gaza by Hamas and attacks across the Lebanese border from Hezbollah.
SCARBOROUGH: Isn‘t it ironic? It seems the more land Israel gives up, whether it‘s Gaza or southern Lebanon, the more hostilities they face with their enemies.
MCCAIN: And we also have to understand with the election of Hamas, elections don‘t necessarily mean democracy. Elections are the easy part. The hard part is rule of law and elected representatives that are dedicated to peace, rather than terrorism. There‘s a lot of lessons to be learned, and one of them, of course, we continue to learn in Iraq. Democracy is awful, awful tough to instill in a country. And again, Lebanon, a freely elected government, but one that can‘t control its own territory.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Senator John McCain, as always, it‘s a great honor to have you with us.
MCCAIN: Thanks, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: And you know, Senator McCain is so right.
And still to come, new criticism that the United States should be doing more to stop Israel‘s attack. You know what I think? We need to keep our nose out of it and let Israel defend themselves. And what do Representative Peter King and Pat Buchanan think? Find out next when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: Eight days into this latest Middle East crisis, critics of America are starting to raise their voices, demanding that our country force Israel to back down. Is the United States giving Israel the green light to kill civilians in their campaign to destroy Hezbollah?
Here‘s Representative Peter King, Republican from New York, and Pat Buchanan, MSNBC political analyst.
Pat, I think the United States is giving Israel a green light. Reports are that they‘re going to give them a free pass for the next week to try to wipe out Hezbollah. And certainly, as a father, my heart breaks when I see young children and innocent older people killed on both sides of the border. But if Israel needs a week to wipe out Hezbollah, I say we give it to them. What‘s wrong with that?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I don‘t really disagree with that, Joe, but I do think this. Israel‘s not going to wipe out Hezbollah in a week. But Israel has to—frankly, if the war stopped now, Israel‘s lost the war. They will have lost their soldiers. They have a huge international black eye because of the enormous destruction in Lebanon. And beyond that, Hezbollah will say, We fought the Israelis equally, and they were afraid to come in after us...
SCARBOROUGH: So what you‘re saying, Pat, is we should allow Israel to destroy Hezbollah over the next month or two, right? I mean, we don‘t want Hezbollah to end this conflict with the upper hand over Israel, do we?
BUCHANAN: But look, Joe, Israel was in there 18 years. You got to realize, Israel walked out of Lebanon with its tail between its legs because the Hezbollah fought them and fought them and fought them, and the Israelis said, It is not worth it to stay in here and trade them blood for blood.
SCARBOROUGH: But things have changed. Things have changed. The Middle East knows if you‘re in Iran, if you‘re in Syria, you saw what happened to Saddam Hussein and you understand that while America is bogged down in Iraq right now, if America decides to move on Teheran or Damascus, there‘s nothing those countries can do to stop us. So isn‘t that enough to make Hezbollah understand that they‘re going to be cut off from Syria or they‘re going to be cut off from Teheran if they push too far?
BUCHANAN: Look, I think Hezbollah‘s going to stand its ground. I think what Israel‘s doing now, with all this artillery and shelling and attacking and bombing, is they‘re trying to frighten the population of southern Lebanon to go to the north, to clear it out. But they got to make a decision, Joe. I think if they go in—I think they don‘t want to go in. I think they know what happened when they went in. And I do think this. You can‘t wipe out Hezbollah in a week. This war, Joe, has created 100 times more recruits for Hezbollah than it has killed.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, come on, Pat. You can say the same thing about when we went into Afghanistan.
BUCHANAN: I‘ll say it about—I‘ll say it about Iran—Iraq—excuse me.
SCARBOROUGH: So what do we do, we sit back and worry about what terrorists in training are going think?
BUCHANAN: No. Look...
SCARBOROUGH: We allow Hezbollah to go in and kill Israeli children because they want to launch bombs?
BUCHANAN: No, what I think...
SCARBOROUGH: Because in the end, Pat, this all comes down...
SCARBOROUGH: ... to Teheran trying to distract the world‘s attention away from the nuclear—and if we have a problem with Hezbollah shooting missiles into Israel, what happens...
BUCHANAN: I think, Joe...
SCARBOROUGH: ... when Teheran, their sponsor, has nuclear missiles that they can shoot at Teheran? I mean, that they can shoot at Tel Aviv?
BUCHANAN: Well, look, Israel has 200 weapons, and Israel would destroy Teheran overnight. Teheran hasn‘t gotten in a war with anybody in 27 years! Use your head, Joe! We and Israel have been playing their game again and again and again!
SCARBOROUGH: You know what we‘ve done, Peter King? I‘ll tell you exactly what we‘ve done. We have enabled Teheran and the terrorists that have been running that country since 1979, since Ayatollah Khomeini came in, and the current president was a part of the students that kidnapped Americans for 444 days—we did nothing. Jimmy Carter did nothing! What did we do? I heard a CIA director, former CIA director, say they took our students, I mean, and they took our diplomats. We tied yellow ribbons around trees. At some point, we‘ve got to stop enabling the Iranians and teach them a lesson, don‘t we?
REP. PETER KING ®, NEW YORK: Yes, we really do. And I have to disagree with my good friend, Pat Buchanan. You know, there‘s no answer to what Pat is saying. If Israel doesn‘t go after Hezbollah now, if Israel does not intend to destroy Hezbollah, all you‘re doing is putting off the inevitable and you‘re enhancing Iran‘s stature in the region. I think we have to give Israel a free hand, not to kill civilians—no one wants to kill civilians—but to do all they can to root out Hezbollah, to destroy Hezbollah. And if they have to put in ground troops, that‘s a decision for them to make.
And I disagree with Pat as far as in 2000 -- Israel could have stayed longer, if they wanted to. Obviously, it was not really to their advantage. But on the other hand, that was part, I thought, of good faith on Israel‘s part. They disengaged, just like last August they disengaged from Gaza. And instead of, you know, land for peace, it‘s war for peace.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, that‘s it, Peter King...
KING: ... no choice.
SCARBOROUGH: At what point, if you are an Israeli leader, do you finally just give up on the peace process? Because you give land for peace in southern Lebanon, they use that land to kill your children. You give them Gaza, they use that land to kill your children. At what point do you say, Enough is enough? I really don‘t care what Kofi Annan and the United Nations thinks. I don‘t care what Western Europe thinks. I‘m going to defend my people.
At what point do Israelis finally stop playing this diplomatic game that only gets their own people killed?
KING: Well, I think they‘ve certainly reached the point where they‘re not going to listen to Kofi Annan or Jacques Chirac, that‘s for sure. And I think that they‘re also doing America‘s work here because if they can weaken Hezbollah, destroy Hezbollah, that also weakens Iran, it weakens Syria, and it increases our position in the Middle East.
This is essential. If we keep putting this off, if Israel keeps putting it off, it‘s just going to make a greater war two years from now or three years from now. And I know people are concerned about Hezbollah agents and Iranian agents, and we should be concerned about them, here in our own country. But the fact is, that situation‘s going to get worse. And appeasing doesn‘t work. One thing we should have learned from the 1930s, you cannot appease tyrants and Islamo-tyrants, Islamo-fascists among the worst the world has ever seen.
SCARBOROUGH: And you know, these...
KING: These people have to be stopped.
SCARBOROUGH: They are fascists, and they‘re fascists that are doing all they can do to get their hands on nuclear weapons, which—which—friends, all you have to do is ask yourself, if the Iranians have a nuclear weapon and if they have the opportunity to put it in New York or Washington or Baltimore or LA or anywhere, will they do it? Of course they‘ll do it! And I think that‘s part of what we‘re fighting right now.
Now, Pat, you‘ve got the most talked-about column on this topic, and this is what you have to say about Israeli policy. “That Tel Aviv is maneuvering us to fight wars is understandable. That Americans are ignorant of or complicit in this is deplorable.”
Pat, don‘t you think Americans know exactly what their government‘s doing? They‘re not ignorant. They‘ve decided they‘re going to support the democracy in that region instead of Hezbollah.
BUCHANAN: I don‘t know anybody—there may be somebody here that‘s strong for Hezbollah. But let me take Woolsey. He thinks we ought to bomb Syria. Mr. Kristol in “The Weekly Standard”—we ought to attack Iran now. Do these people understand the Constitution? Peter King‘s Congress has not authorized the president to go to war against countries that haven‘t attacked us. I happen to agree with Peter King on this. All—I mean, on the...
SCARBOROUGH: Wait, wait. Countries that haven‘t attacked us? I mean...
BUCHANAN: Oh, for heaven‘s sakes, Joe!
SCARBOROUGH: The Iranians have been attacking us one way or the other since 1979~! They—they—they fund Hezbollah~, Pat! Hezbollah would not exist without Teheran!
BUCHANAN: What has Hezbollah and Hamas done to the United States of America? This is my point. This is Israel‘s war. I agree with Peter King, the Israelis are going to have to decide whether to go to Lebanon up to those two rivers. And I will say this. I can understand why the Israelis are saying, We go up there, we‘re going to bleed, we‘re going to lose a lot of guys, and then pressure‘s going to come and we‘re going to go out of there, and we‘re going to solve nothing. And I can understand why they are and—but this—Joe, I mean, you folks aren‘t giving any answer to this, other than...
SCARBOROUGH: I‘ll tell you what...
BUCHANAN: ... excuse me—berating Iran...
SCARBOROUGH: I‘ll tell you what the answer is...
BUCHANAN: ... bomb them, bomb them!
SCARBOROUGH: Pat, we got to go, but the answer is...
BUCHANAN: All right.
SCARBOROUGH: ... since 1979, we‘ve been giving Iran a free pass. That has got to stop. Thanks so much, Pat. Thanks so much, Congressman King. Greatly appreciate it. We‘ll be back with more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY in just a minute.
SCARBOROUGH: Coming up, we‘re going to have the very latest on Oprah‘s “I really do like men” dustup and how this will impact her business empire. That and much more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
But first, here‘s the latest news you and your family need to know.
SCARBOROUGH: Getting ugly in the love triangle involving supermodel Christie Brinkley and her husband. Did he use her multimillion-dollar mansion for secret trysts with his young Lolita? And Oprah answers questions about whether she really likes men. But was anyone really asking? See why some are asking why Oprah even needs to keep setting the record straight.
Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. Those stories in just minutes.
But first, Britney‘s back and buck naked in “Harper‘s Bazaar.” And it is bizarre. The pictures hit the newsstands this week. It‘s a long, strange trip from Britney, from preteen pop tart to naked and pregnant centerfold. So will they pictures actually clean up her act, as her P.R. people hope?
With me now to talk about the Britney buzz, we‘ve got, from “Star” magazine Jill Dobson, and also Tina Dirmann. And from “OK” magazine, Rob Chilton.
Let me start with you, Jill. Since when did getting pregnant and taking off all of your clothes equate to cleaning up your act?
JILL DOBSON, “STAR” MAGAZINE: Right, well, Demi Moore did it and got a lot of attention, and I think Britney is trying to do something to improve her image, and she thought, “Well, Demi got a lot of positive attention when she did it.” However, for Britney, it just didn‘t make sense. She was just crying to Matt Lauer about how she wanted less attention, and then she brings all of this attention to herself.
SCARBOROUGH: “Leave me alone. Leave me alone. I‘m naked. Look at me.” Yes, it is bizarre. But again, this is somebody who I would guess, unlike Demi Moore, I mean, is not going to be able to make that transition into mature motherhood. With Demi Moore, it was almost like a feminist statement. “I‘m pregnant, but that doesn‘t mean I‘m old and over the hill. I‘m still proud of myself.” With Britney, it just looks desperate, doesn‘t it?
DOBSON: Well, it seems desperate particularly because of the timing, and because she‘s sending such an inconsistent message. You wonder, what is she trying to tell her fans? Is she trying to say, “Give me privacy to raise my family”? Or is she trying to say, “Look at me. Look at me. I‘m naked”? So it‘s very confusing, and I don‘t think people know quite how to interpret it.
SCARBOROUGH: Mike, you say, “Look at me. Look at me. I‘m naked.”
It makes it very hard to do the show.
Tina, what‘s going on here? I mean, we were talking about Oprah last night saying, “Please stop talking about it. Let me talk about it. Please leave us alone. Don‘t leave us alone.” Now you‘ve got Britney Spears crying about how she just wants people to leave her alone. Then she takes off her clothes, knowing that it‘s going to create a sensation.
Why does America fall for it? Why has it done so in the past? And will they fall for it again?
TINA DIRMANN, “STAR” MAGAZINE: Well, you know, the thing is we do have a fascination with Britney. You know, we‘ve been watching her freefall from grace here for a little while, from pop princess to trailer trash princess. And in the beginning, you were kind of like, what is she doing? And now it‘s almost expected.
And I just want to know, like, who are the people guiding her? Is she just not listening to them? Is she just saying, you know, “To hell with it. I‘m a grown up lady, and I‘m going to do what I want to do”? It almost seems like to me this is a statement for her to say, “Look at me. I‘m grown up. I‘m a mommy. I‘m married.” But inside she‘s a very insecure, very little girl still.
SCARBOROUGH: Very insecure, very little, and, Rob, not handling her career very well, is she?
ROB CHILTON, “OK” MAGAZINE: Well, I think we‘re taking this picture a little too seriously. You know, Britney has always been known for making controversial statements, controversial videos, controversial songs. And I think this is just another one of those statements.
She‘s having fun. You know, she‘s pregnant. She‘s got a 10-month-old baby at home. She probably thought, “Hey, why not have a day in a photographic stereo, get my hair and make up done?” Just having a day off. You know, she‘s having fun. I don‘t think there‘s anything really that we should get too hot up about yet.
SCARBOROUGH: But you look at these pictures though. I mean, there other things she could have done on her day off to have fun, especially, again, if she‘s sitting around crying to Matt Lauer about how she wants to be left alone and wants to have privacy. Certainly, I mean, she had to know, Rob, that this was going to cause a sensation and have people talking about her again.
CHILTON: Of course, she knew. I mean, Britney has played the P.R. game very well. You know, this is what pop stars do. They make publicity stunts, and this is one of them.
And, yes, the Matt Lauer thing—you know, I think that maybe was just an emotional day for her. I don‘t think it was planned, that kind of outburst. I think that was genuinely quite an emotional day for her.
So I think this—you know, you say Demi Moore was making a feminist statement and Britney is desperate. Well, you know, why is Britney not making a feminist statement here? I think, you know, we should lay off. I think it‘s a bit of fun. And it does make a great magazine cover. You can‘t deny that one.
SCARBOROUGH: It does.
Jill Dobson, though, you know, I guess this is—and there‘s just not a nice way to say it. I think people like Demi Moore and Madonna are brilliant people and have done this sort of thing before. John and Yoko did it. But Britney, she ain‘t no John or Yoko. She just doesn‘t strike me as being that smart. I mean, I guess that‘s why it seems desperate to me.
DOBSON: It‘s when you look at the overall context. Demi was at the top of her game, and looked beautiful, and was celebrating motherhood. And it seems like Britney is just trying to find her way and figure out what message she‘s sending to the fans. And I think it‘s just confusing to people.
SCARBOROUGH: And, Tina, what message is she sending to the fans?
DIRMANN: You know what? I don‘t know, and I guess it‘s what‘s perplexing. You know, you said it earlier. With Demi Moore, this was a classy lady, and we gave it to her when she came out. This was sort of a statement of femininity.
But Britney has struggled with an image problem lately. And to pose naked, I‘m just not sure that‘s reinforcing the image that she wants to put out there. I‘m not sure this was a smart choice.
SCARBOROUGH: Rob, quickly, do you think it‘s going to work? Will it help her career restart?
CHILTON: Yes, but not just yet. I think this is the first step of a number of steps to making her comeback. And I think she looks gorgeous, and I think that she‘ll come back to bigger and better things.
SCARBOROUGH: Good lord. What does she do next, have a live birth on the Discovery Channel? Thank you so much, Jill Dobson, Tina Dirmann, and Rob Chilton, greatly appreciate it.
And now, my rapport on the “Colbert Report.” Last night, I sat down with Stephen Colbert and let the king of Comedy Central know how we roll here in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, but not before he grilled the commander in chief of our great nation of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, “THE COLBERT REPORT”: By the way, you were in Congress six years. Did you take money from Abramoff?
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, that‘s actually...
COLBERT: Did you take money from Abramoff?
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s a good question.
COLBERT: Isn‘t it though?
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, it is a good question.
COLBERT: Isn‘t that a good question?
SCARBOROUGH: You know, I actually—I got to tell you, the thing I need, Stephen...
COLBERT: Is some time?
SCARBOROUGH: No, I need a picture just like that. No, actually, you know what? I actually found out that...
COLBERT: Just found out?
SCARBOROUGH: Just found out...
COLBERT: Moments ago?
SCARBOROUGH: ... moments ago, I actually got $1,000 check from him back in like 1996. Never met the guy.
COLBERT: You know, please come back again to Colbert Nation.
SCARBOROUGH: I would love to.
COLBERT: No passport required, but there is a cavity search.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, good.
COLBERT: All right? It‘s going to be rough.
SCARBOROUGH: And I‘d like to ask you, if you could, come to
COLBERT: We‘ll make you vice president of Colbert Nation...
SCARBOROUGH: And you‘ll be the archduke of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
COLBERT: It‘s done.
SCARBOROUGH: Good deal? All right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: What a show. What a guy. I love him.
Coming up next, new twists in the nasty break up of Christie Brinkley‘s marriage. How could her husband have been so cruel? Tell you what, sometimes the fourth isn‘t the charm. We‘re going to talk to somebody who‘s known him for decades.
And why does Oprah feel the need to tell us she‘s not gay? I‘ve got a theory I‘ll share with you.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s a celebrity scandal that everybody is talking about. The husband of supermodel Christie Brinkley caught in an alleged, torrid affair with a much younger woman. Here‘s a $15 million Hamptons estate where Peter Cook allegedly seduced a 19-year-old aspiring singer.
Seen here performing at amateur night in the Hamptons two years ago—emphasis on amateur—where she talked to cameras about her dreams for the future.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIANA BIANCHI, HAD AFFAIR WITH PETER COOK: Hi, my name is Diana Bianchi. And I‘m a singer (INAUDIBLE) and I don‘t really have a CD coming out right now, but I‘ve been working around, usually just places like these, trying to promote my stuff and get people to know me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And now Diana Bianchi‘s outraged mother speaking out, calling Brinkley‘s husband a master manipulator and a predator. The full scandal is going to be on newsstands tomorrow, when “People” magazine answers questions about why Peter Cook may have cheated on Brinkley.
Here with us, senior editor at “People” magazine, Galina Espinoza.
And we also have R. Couri Hay, society columnist for “Hamptons” magazine.
Galina, tell us what happened. Why did he do it?
GALINA ESPINOZA, “PEOPLE” MAGAZINE: It is, of course, the $24,000 question. Everyone wants to know, why would Peter Cook risk his marriage for a fling with a teenage girl? A lot of friends were speculating that he just kind of got tired of being known as Mr. Brinkley. His whole identity was as Christie Brinkley‘s husband. And after a while, it took a toll on his ego.
SCARBOROUGH: Couri, is that what you‘re hearing at in the Hamptons?
R. COURI HAY, “HAMPTONS” MAGAZINE: Well, I don‘t think it‘s a $24,000 question. I think it‘s about a $60 million to $75 million question, and that‘s exactly what we‘re hearing in the Hamptons. That, and you have to remember this is Peter Cook‘s first marriage. He spent 37 years as a playboy and out on the town, you know, going out with young girls and younger girls. And so I think he just couldn‘t stop.
SCARBOROUGH: And so you say—I mean, how much money now, because of this sex scandal with this 19-year-old girl who, I must say, looked like she may not have known how to play piano, but she knew that she wanted to be famous.
HAY: Oh, she definitely wanted...
SCARBOROUGH: So I‘m not buying the whole victimhood status thing from her mother. But, tell me, how much is this fling going to end up costing this couple?
HAY: Well, I‘d say their joint assets, which is mostly tied up in real estate, is between $60 and $80 million. Their main residence, which has been put on the market, started at $30 million. Now it‘s $26.5 million. That love shack, some shack, at $15 million.
They‘ve also got another house in Watermill, which is worth between $8 and $10 million. The house in the Turks and Caicos is worth another $7 or $8 million. There‘s a spec house worth another $5 to $7 million.
HAY: I mean, there‘s a lot of money here. You have to remember that prestige properties are available in the Hamptons when they‘re associated with a celebrity. So Peter Cook and Christie Brinkley would buy up properties, he‘d redesign them, they‘d fix them up, and then they‘d put them on the market and sell them.
HAY: Yes, a lot of money.
SCARBOROUGH: ... I should have been a supermodel. That is a lot of money going in...
HAY: A lot of cash.
ESPINOZA: And what‘s unfortunate is that Brinkley may be the one who ends up paying, because she, of course, is the major breadwinner in that household. And if they don‘t have a pre-nup, which we‘re not sure about, she may end up having to share her assets with him.
HAY: That‘s exactly—go ahead.
SCARBOROUGH: ... talk about this guy, Peter Cook. You‘ve known him.
What‘s he like?
HAY: I have. I‘ve known Peter Cook for 25 years. I knew him when he was a model. I remember in 1981 when he...
SCARBOROUGH: He was a model, too?
HAY: Oh, he was absolutely a model.
SCARBOROUGH: Is that him?
ESPINOZA: He‘s been on the cover of “GQ.”
SCARBOROUGH: I‘m telling you, I should have been a supermodel, Couri.
HAY: Both of them made their living taking their clothes off. Christie Brinkley known, of course, for wearing the tiniest bikinis, and there‘s Peter Cook in a tight little bathing suit of his own. He was hot.
ESPINOZA: And I have to tell you, for 52, Christie Brinkley still looks like a supermodel.
SCARBOROUGH: She‘s absolutely stunning. I‘m not exactly sure what Peter Cook was thinking. But, you know, guys are strange.
Do you think, Couri, it was about the insecurity that Galina was talking about, that he just became too insecure. Well, we‘re calling him Mr. Brinkley tonight.
HAY: Well, I think it‘s greed, as well. I think he knew that Christie Brinkley was a ticket to fame and celebrity. It was because of Christie Brinkley that he was able to enter into the world of big-time commissions with celebrities and the ultra-rich. It was because of Christie Brinkley he was able to buy all of these extra properties.
And I think that, you know, he felt that he was kind of like dependent on her financially in many ways. He‘s a good architect. He has had some important commissions. He did the “House and Garden” Hamptons diner show house this year, which you can buy for $25 million, Joe.
HAY: He also did Anne Hearst‘s (ph) house, which is worth another $15 to $20 million. There have been some big commissions.
ESPINOZA: But there is a lot of speculation about how this affair is going to affect that career. I think people out in the Hamptons are really turned off by him right now. And certainly those commissions are going to slow down.
HAY: Oh, I don‘t think they‘re going to slow down. I think his goose is cooked. I think he‘s finished socially. I think he‘s finished professionally. I mean, the people that buy $15 to $20 million houses that would be designed by Peter Cook are people that have deep roots in the community. They‘re involved in philanthropic issues. They‘re charitable. They‘re usually, you know, good, law-abiding citizens, and they don‘t want to be tainted with this kind of scandal.
SCARBOROUGH: With this kind of scandal and having an architect, which again, very personal if you‘re going to do a $15, $20 million house, an architect who‘s known as a scumbag on the island.
Galina, let me ask you a question. You know, one of my favorite Bible verses is, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” So I don‘t throw stones. But when it comes to Christie Brinkley, four husbands? What‘s wrong? I mean, obviously not making the right choices.
ESPINOZA: I think, you know, she obviously has not made some great choices when it comes to men. You know, her first husband, she‘s talked about the fact that she wasn‘t famous when they got married. As soon as her career took off, he couldn‘t handle it.
Billy Joel, there have been allegations that he cheated on her. Rickie Taubman, her third husband, actually borrowed more than $1 million from her that he failed to repay. So not only has she made some bad choices, but the men in her life haven‘t always been so good to her, either.
SCARBOROUGH: Couri Hay, why do Christie Brinkley‘s husbands cheat on this supermodel who just looks absolutely gorgeous well into her 50s?
HAY: Oh, well, not well. She‘s 52, Joe. Give her a break. She is absolutely gorgeous. But as a supermodel, as a celebrity, there‘s a certain amount of handholding. There‘s a certain amount of deferential treatment that has to be paid.
SCARBOROUGH: Is she a diva?
HAY: Well, I wouldn‘t say—no, no, I don‘t think she‘s a diva, but there‘s still a certain amount of “I‘m Christie Brinkley, and I should be worshipped.”
ESPINOZA: She is the center of attention in that relationship.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, I know quite a few men who would choose to worship her instead of cheating on her.
ESPINOZA: It doesn‘t seem like a hard job, right?
SCARBOROUGH: No, it really doesn‘t. Galina, thank you so much.
Couri, greatly appreciate you all being here. Great insight on the story.
Coming up next, is she or isn‘t she? Oprah says she‘s not. The latest on the question she just won‘t let go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, “LATE SHOW”: Now, I‘m told—I didn‘t see this, but I‘m told that yesterday Oprah Winfrey holds a press conference. And in the press conference, she announces that she and her best friend, Gayle, are not gay. And you‘re telling me?
COLBERT: I was flipping through the latest issue of “O” magazine—I got to the read up on my girl “O” friend—when I had my own personal “a-ha” moment. It happened when I read the interview with Oprah and best friend Gayle King, where they announced they are not gay.
They had to do it. Folks were talking. As Oprah said in the article, quote, “I understand why people think we‘re gay. There isn‘t a definition in our culture for this kind of bond between women.” Even Oprah‘s friendships are on a higher level than everyone else‘s.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s not just the late-night comics that go after Oprah and her best buddy, Gayle King, they can‘t stop telling the world they‘re not gay, either. So is Oprah honoring friendship or just drumming up publicity for herself?
Still with us, “Star” magazine‘s Jill Dobson. And from “Time” magazine, Belinda Luscombe. And also, we have media analyst Steve Adubato. He‘s also the author of “Speak from the Heart.”
Jill, I think Stephen Colbert makes a great point, that even her friendships are just so spectacular, so fabulous that they can‘t be defined, so people must think they‘re gay. I mean, how self-important is she?
DOBSON: Well, it‘s kind of ironic, because there is a term. It‘s called “best friends.” We‘ve all heard of it. We all have a best friend. And I don‘t think all that many people were worried about whether or not Oprah was gay.
We know she‘s been in a long-term relationship, and Gayle is divorced with children. So I don‘t think it was really a burning question. However, our sources tell us that Gayle is in the running for a job on “The View”...
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, you‘re kidding me?
DOBSON: So I think this isn‘t about Oprah...
SCARBOROUGH: And so this is...
DOBSON: ... it‘s about Gayle getting attention.
SCARBOROUGH: Oprah is helping her very special friend by whipping up
Steve, is that how it works? Oprah is the absolute queen of P.R., isn‘t she?
STEVE ADUBATO, MEDIA ANALYST: Well, before a few things happened that started with James Frey, I would have said that Oprah is the quintessential public relations czar. She gets it. She understands it.
I have never seen someone make more public relation mistakes, boners, I mean, like missteps. She doesn‘t seem to get it. And my view is this—by the way, if Gayle is up for a job on “The View,” more power to her. Does that mean if Rosie O‘Donnell is there, you can only have one person who‘s gay? I‘m not sure what the math is there.
But here‘s my point. I‘ve never seen someone who is so talented, so effective, such a great leader in our media business want to draw so much attention to herself when, in fact, I did not think it was a burning question, respectfully.
And, by the way, Joe, what does it say to all of those who happen to be gay that Oprah has to hold a press conference and say, “I‘m not gay”? Is it a disease? “I‘m not gay”?
SCARBOROUGH: I don‘t know. It‘s kind of like the “Seinfeld” episode, “I‘m not gay. I‘m not gay. I‘m not gay, not that there‘s anything wrong.”
ADUBATO: Not that there‘s anything wrong with that, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: And I‘m not gay.
ADUBATO: By the way, I am not either, but if I were, I‘d be very proud of it.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, God bless you. You would be gay and proud.
Belinda, what‘s going on here with Oprah Winfrey? Why does she feel the need to go out and whip up even more controversy, more publicity, when she‘s the most powerful woman in TV now?
BELINDA LUSCOMBE, “TIME” MAGAZINE: I hate to inject a note of sanity into this otherwise entertaining discussion...
LUSCOMBE: ... but that she is—she did do a special, you know, issue. It‘s on friendship, and she has a very good friend. I mean, they‘re better than many friends. I have a best friend, but she doesn‘t have a room in my house, and she doesn‘t get to request that she gets a TV in her room.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, but you don‘t have 180 rooms in your house, either, do you?
LUSCOMBE: No, I live in a loft. I just have the one, so...
SCARBOROUGH: Exactly. There you go. She can sit in the corner.
LUSCOMBE: But, you know, it was an issue on friends. She has this great friend. And I guess she wanted to address the issue. I think, actually, I would respectfully disagree. One thing Oprah does understand, is she really, really understands her fans and her viewers. And she knows that women really respect this kind of friendship.
SCARBOROUGH: We‘re coming up on the end of the show. Steve, quick prediction: Is it going to help or hurt Oprah? Or does nothing hurt Oprah?
ADUBATO: Well, I‘ll tell you what. I would have always have said nothing hurts Oprah, but she‘s starting to hurt herself. She does a few more of these, and she‘s not going to be the queen anymore.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. I‘ll ask you the same thing, Jill, 10 seconds, help or her?
DOBSON: Oprah is golden. Nothing will hurt her, but it might help Gayle to get her name in the media.
SCARBOROUGH: No doubt about it. Belinda, you agree with that?
LUSCOMBE: No, it‘s going to help Oprah and help Gayle, I think, two thumbs up.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, two thumbs up. Well, you know what? I need to find a cameraman around here and announce that I‘m not gay with him. Anyway, don‘t worry, Biff, you secret‘s safe with me, buddy.
Thanks so much, Belinda. Thank you, Steve. And thank you, as always, Jill. That‘s all the time we have for tonight. But stay with us. Tucker Carlson is live in Israel for continuing MSNBC coverage of the crisis in the Middle East—Tucker?
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