Guests: Phil Bronstein, A.B. Stoddard, Tom O‘Neil, Matthew Felling, Doro Bush, Dawn Yanek
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Well, the latest (ph) hovers (ph) over the White House tonight, with George W. Bush being bombarded by bad news from all sides. As Americans sit down for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, our troops in Iraq are going to be enduring the bloodiest month in that country since 2003, the year we went into Iraq. These days, Mr. Bush seems to be living proof that Murphy‘s Law even applies to the most powerful man in America.
While struggling through record low approval numbers and a less than stellar international trip, the president could have looked out his window yesterday to see officers in his motorcade crashing their motorcycles into one another. Later that night, the head of the White House travel office was found in a pool of blood outside a Honolulu nightclub. Thousands of miles away, the first daughter, Barbara Bush, was a robbery victim in South America, while the Secret Service agent accompanying the first daughter was reportedly beaten up in a separate incident. Oh, yes, and on Sunday, Air Force One was grounded in Ho Chi Minh after some wheels literally came off the airplane.
It‘s enough to remind many voters of another president who, in the words of Elvis Costello, just couldn‘t stand up for falling down. In fact, things got so bad for Jimmy Carter that he was attacked on a fishing trip by a dreaded killer rabbit, a metaphor for an administration going nowhere fast, other than out of power. Welcome to the United States of malaise, 1979-style.
It‘s getting ugly out there, and to talk about how badly things are going for this president and the country, here‘s Phil Bronstein. He‘s the editor of “The San Francisco Chronicle.” We also have A.B. Stoddard with “The Hill” and MSNBC political analyst Craig Crawford.
Craig, happy news out there—beatings, robberies, record low ratings, motorcade collisions. You‘ve got Iraq out of control. How much worse can things get for this president before they turn around?
CRAIG CRAWFORD, “CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Well, he can sing that old song, If it weren‘t for bad luck, I‘d have no luck at all.
CRAWFORD: It has been pretty rough. I‘ve got to agree with you about Jimmy Carter, although it pains me to do so. I worked in his White House and loved the guy. But his White House did unravel. And what happens is, you know, each story just sort of compounds on the next one and it becomes a story line that doesn‘t go away. It is like Gerry Ford falling down, and you know, Al Gore the serial exaggerator, John Kerry the flip-flopper. I mean, once the story line gets started, any little thing that can be attached to just becomes a train that can‘t be stopped.
SCARBOROUGH: And Craig, with Jimmy Carter, you, of course, had the Iranian hostage crisis and a terrible economy at the time. But then you‘d have the killer rabbit episode, and then Jimmy Carter would run a 10K and he‘d collapse.
SCARBOROUGH: And it seemed—and then Billy Carter would be hanging out with Moamar Qaddafi. And again, you‘d have the big issue, but all these smaller issues would pile up—like, remember Bill Clinton‘s $200 haircut while things were going badly for Bill Clinton in 1993. They really do seem to pile up one after another. What did you all do in the Clinton—in the Carter White House to try to turn things around?
CRAWFORD: Well, one thing that happened in the Carter White House is that it became kind of a siege mentality against the rest of Washington, and the news media in particular. And that kind of exacerbates things. Once a president is under siege like that, they tend to retreat into the camp, you know, and look at the rest of the world as their enemy. And I don‘t think the Carter White House ever recovered from that.
And that‘s the thing that, you know, the Bush White House is going to have to be careful about. They‘re just surrounded on all sides. They even have Republicans with the long knives out for them. But you know, I got to say, I mean, Jimmy Carter went after that rabbit, but that wasn‘t nearly as bad as Dick Cheney shooting his hunting pal and he got away—he got over that.
SCARBOROUGH: Dick Cheney (INAUDIBLE) Good point! You know, Phil Bronstein, the big issue, obviously, with geopolitical implications is Iraq. But when things are going badly for a president, voters do tend to focus on killer rabbits, $200 haircuts, vice presidents who can‘t shoot straight, motorcade accidents. This president appears to be what we call in the South snakebit. Can he recover, or is he going to be swallowed alive by Iraq and essentially be a lame duck president for the next two years?
PHIL BRONSTEIN, “SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE”: Well, Joe, I know you come to me for the San Francisco values portion of the conversation.
BRONSTEIN: We believe in conspiracy theories out here, but you know, equating young Barbara Bush getting robbed with the war in Iraq, that‘s a bit of a stretch, you know, even for you. And even for us.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, no, no. Well—well, Phil, first of all, I don‘t know what the hell it means, “even for you.” But because of feeling charitable, because Thanksgiving‘s tomorrow, I‘m going to let you do that smug San Francisco Bay Are pose that you can do sometimes.
SCARBOROUGH: But the bigger point, though, is Phil...
BRONSTEIN: I thought you were being generous. That was...
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s me being generous...
BRONSTEIN: That‘s a Scrooge-like...
SCARBOROUGH: ... when you attack me!
BRONSTEIN: ... pre-Christmas attack.
SCARBOROUGH: That was. Happy Christmas to you, baby.
BRONSTEIN: You, too.
SCARBOROUGH: Again, the issue is, though, when bad news starts hitting these presidencies, whether it‘s Jimmy Carter or whether it‘s George W. Bush, the bad news just seems to pile up and...
BRONSTEIN: Yes, but you know, there‘s...
SCARBOROUGH: ... Americans do focus on all of this. And I‘m not comparing a daughter being mugged to Iraq.
BRONSTEIN: OK, calm down.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘m just saying a lot of bad news seems to come at the same time.
SCARBOROUGH: Phil, I‘m not upset. Do I look upset?
BRONSTEIN: Jimmy—I can‘t see you, so I don‘t know.
BRONSTEIN: Jimmy Carter, you know, the administration...
SCARBOROUGH: More smugness sneaking in there!
BRONSTEIN: ... has a psychotherapeutic...
SCARBOROUGH: Go ahead.
BRONSTEIN: ... quality to it. You know, you mentioned the malaise thing and the fuzzy sweaters. You know, Jimmy Carter was occasionally accused of intellectual arrogance, although he‘s become kind of a presidential retirement saint lately, and probably for good reason. But I think, you know, George Bush, that administration, they‘re not going to be hugging anybody. They‘re not going to be wearing fuzzy sweaters. I think their view is, you know, forge ahead, even if you‘re shooting your hunting partner. So we‘ll see if that attitude has any effect on public view.
But I also think we‘re in a much more literal time. I mean, the whole O.J. Simpson-Rupert Murdoch thing—we won‘t even go into that. Michael Richards—not a bigot, he just got massaged by one. But you know, it‘s harder to take these symbolic things and make them have meaning when you got all this crazy literal stuff going on. And the war in Iraq is about the most intense, real thing that‘s not symbolic.
SCARBOROUGH: And A.B. Stoddard, I guess the big question for George W. Bush when he returns to town is whether he‘s going to basically be brushed aside by his own party, like Jimmy Carter was in ‘79 and ‘80. When they come back, will even Republicans consider this president to be a lame duck?
A.B. STODDARD, “THE HILL”: They already do. I mean, before he left for Vietnam, they wouldn‘t give him a trade deal. They don‘t want to deal with the spending bills. I mean, I was there up in the House. They were doing, like, one vote a day on nothing. They‘re trying—they don‘t want to give him anything because they‘re mad at him.
But I think we should—you know, talk about luck is really—I mean, luck is sometimes—you make your own luck. A lot of what is happening to Bush is—they‘re problems of his own making. And likability has so much to do with it. It‘s really bizarre that in the middle of, you know, this Monica impeachment scandal, and you know, President Clinton lied under oath, but people managed to still like him, and his approval ratings, you know, were somewhat sort of staggering at the end of his presidency, I believe 65 percent.
For Bush, he came into office as a likable fellow, more likable than Al Gore, more likable than John Kerry. People do not like him anymore, and I believe it‘s because he says things like, I will proceed and conduct the war in Iraq despite public opinion. I will not turn to public opinion. I don‘t read the newspapers. When you tell the voters that you don‘t care what they think, they don‘t really like you anymore.
You look at the Iraq war, the voters are split on whether or not we should stay, go, when, how. They are as split as the diplomatic and foreign policy experts are. But they don‘t like being told by our president that he resents being questioned, that he won‘t listen to criticism.
And so the only way for him to turn things around at this point, with the Iraq war and Republicans not on his team, Democrats controlling Congress and all these other problems, is for him to really try to become sort of a self-effacing, likable guy. I think it‘s going to be hard for him, but it will really be important for him in his sort of presidential afterlife. And Jimmy Carter, by the way, should start charging for those workshops he gives at the White House.
SCARBOROUGH: You‘re right. With George W. Bush, it‘s been the arrogance, the arrogance to say he couldn‘t remember making a single mistake over his first four years.
STODDARD: People don‘t want to hear that.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, too arrogant to read the newspapers, too arrogant to listen to Colin Powell, to arrogant to listen to criticism, too arrogant to pick up the phone call and even talk to his father regularly about the war.
Craig, I want you to listen to this speech from Jimmy Carter. We‘re just going to play a clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY CARTER, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation. The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Boy, Craig, that makes you want to get out there and wave the flag. Now...
CRAWFORD: ... I‘ve got to say—first of all, you know, he never used word “malaise” in that speech, by the way.
SCARBOROUGH: No, he didn‘t. No, he didn‘t. Cold comfort, though, if you actually read the text of that speech.
CRAWFORD: And I thought that was one of the—I actually think that was a profound moment because a president telling—not telling the people what they want to hear. Now, we can debate that speech all we want, but that was one of the rare times you saw a president actually telling Americans what he thought—telling them something that he believed that wasn‘t something they wanted to hear, which I thought was kind of refreshing.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, but they threw him out for a...
STODDARD: I agree with Craig.
SCARBOROUGH: They threw him out for a guy who said America‘s best days really did lie ahead and...
CRAWFORD: I‘ll tell you—this man...
SCARBOROUGH: ... Ronald Reagan won...
CRAWFORD: Over and over again, Jimmy Carter warned Americans about the oil crisis, about the dependence on foreign oil. He did everything he could think of, including putting solar panels on the White House, to try to get this country focused on that. And had the country listened to him at the time, I don‘t think we‘d be in a war in Iraq because we wouldn‘t be dependent on oil from that region.
CRAWFORD: That‘s my speech.
SCARBOROUGH: ... let me ask you about the difference between Jimmy Carter in ‘79 and ‘80 and George W. Bush in 2006 and as we roll into 2007. Jimmy Carter was suffering through a tough economy because of the energy crisis, double-digit inflation. I think we had 20 percent interest rates for a while. Bush‘s economy‘s actually on the upswing, but Americans are still in a state of malaise and feel like this country is going in the wrong direction. It‘s not the economy, stupid, it‘s Iraq. It‘s an Iraq war that he can‘t get us out of. So really, aren‘t his options limited?
BRONSTEIN: Well, you know, he created a larger world. It was more than just the war in Iraq. And his administration really talked about this war on terror, the global war on terror. And if you look around, you know, the United States appears to be getting upstaged by Iran and possibly by Syria in this war on terror issue, and particularly as it relates to the Middle East. And so I think, you know, it‘s all a question of, Is this president selling his program? And is his program successful? And clearly, the last election said he wasn‘t selling it. People weren‘t buying it, and they didn‘t think it was successful.
So you know, the speech from Jimmy Carter was a fascinating speech,
and I agree with your guest that it was kind of a watershed speech. But
you know what? You got to get elected. And it didn‘t—and if it doesn‘t
if it‘s not going to get you elected—I‘m not suggesting that lying will get you elected, but certainly honing the truth will get you—will help get you elected and being in control of the message. And I think the problem, you know, with both Jimmy Carter and now George Bush is they‘ve lost control of the message.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Hey, Phil, I love you. Happy Thanksgiving.
BRONSTEIN: I‘m trying to be smug, but it‘s so hard!
SCARBOROUGH: You are such a humble servant. I thank you for coming out and sharing your knowledge with the rest of us, with the teeming masses. A.B., thank you...
BRONSTEIN: I guess this will be the last time.
SCARBOROUGH: ... as always.
SCARBOROUGH: And Craig—and Craig—no, I would love you back tomorrow.
BRONSTEIN: Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘ll see you tomorrow night on Thanksgiving. And Craig Crawford, sorry if I touched a nerve on Jimmy Carter.
SCARBOROUGH: I love the man.
CRAWFORD: I‘m a little sensitive about Jimmy. I admit that.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, I can tell.
SCARBOROUGH: All of you have a happy Thanks giving. I know it was tough getting away from your families tonight, but I really do appreciate it.
And still ahead: So how strong is the bond between Bush 41 and 43? We‘re going to be talking to first sister Doro Bush about what the relationship was really like. Plus, Nancy Grace slapped by a lawsuit. Why a grieving family says CNN‘s to blame for their daughter‘s death. We‘re going to be talking to the family attorney coming up.
But next, it‘s a battle of daytime divas as Rosie O‘Donnell calls Kelly Rip homophobic while outing Clay Aiken. Today the queen mother of journalism, Barbara Walters, steps in. We‘ll tell you how, coming up next.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh! The cat fighting‘s getting tough out there. It‘s a battle of the daytime divas as Rosie O‘Donnell attacks Kelly Ripa for making what she called homophobic comments about Clay Aiken. Ripa then called in to “The View” and ripped Rosie. And today, the media dust-up kicked up again. Here‘s how the ABC controversy got started.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY RIPA, “LIVE WITH REGIS & KELLY”: What point did you realize there might be a chance that you could win this competition? Oh, that‘s a no-no. No.
CLAY AIKEN, SINGER: Oh, I‘m in trouble! I should just sit here.
RIPA: No, I just don‘t—I don‘t know where that hand‘s been, honey!
ROSIE O‘DONNELL, “THE VIEW”: Now, listen. To me, that‘s a homophobic remark. If that was a straight man, if that was a cute man, if that was a guy that she, you know, didn‘t question his sexuality, she would have said a difference thing. I was offended by that.
RIPA: He reached across and covered my mouth with his hand. I have three kids, but he‘s shaking hands with everybody in the audience.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely.
RIPA: I mean, it‘s cold and flu season. It‘s the—that‘s what I meant.
RIPA: And to imply that it‘s anything homophobic is outrageous, Rosie, and you know better!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Here now is “In Touch Weekly” senior editor Tom O‘Neil and Steve Adubato. He‘s MSNBC analyst and the author of the book, “Make the Connection.”
Tom O‘Neil, I hope you‘re laughing because Rosie O‘Donnell is proving herself once again to be an idiot who embarrasses Barbara Walters by even being on the same camera.
TOM O‘NEIL, “IN TOUCH WEEKLY”: You know, the whole chemistry of this show is supposed to be—these gals are supposed to be fighting and sparring, but then they‘re supposed to kiss and make up, and you know, be girlfriendly and stuff. But Rosie just doesn‘t get with the program. And it‘s such a train wreck watching this show that the ratings keep going up and up, so poor Barbara can‘t get rid of her! They don‘t know what to do with Rosie. She‘s a battleaxe looking for a fight.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, I mean, and in this case, again, if somebody places their hand over my mouth, I might say the same thing. I‘m not thinking about whether they‘re gay or straight. I just—Steve Adubato, I just think it‘s outrageous that Rosie O‘Donnell is somehow suggesting that Kelly Ripa hates gays. And Again, the bigger point is, she outed Clay Aiken.
STEVE ADUBATO, MSNBC ANALYST: Yes. She did all kinds of things that were off the wall. And it‘s also—you know, some people might say it‘s good TV because it‘s good for ratings. I think it‘s ridiculous. And here‘s my problem with Rosie. First of all, she sees the world through this—this gay mentality. What I mean by that is she has this sense that everything has to be viewed in terms of someone‘s sexuality. Well, I‘ve got three kids. No one‘s going to put their hand on my mouth. I don‘t care if they‘re gay or straight.
My point is, Rosie got challenged by, dare I say, petite little very tough Kelly Ripa, and you could look at Rosie‘s non-verbal communication, and she‘s, like, I can‘t believe I‘m being challenged by this little pipsqueak. But you don‘t see Rosie challenging her back. Kelly Ripa won that battle. It didn‘t look good for Rosie. It doesn‘t look good for “The View,” and it doesn‘t look good for ABC to have their on-air personalities fighting like that. Rosie was out of line. She should just say, I‘m sorry. I misunderstood.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, it‘s also not good for Barbara Walters. We‘ve talked about Barbara Walters for some time. She really is the queen of journalism. She wants this whole thing over. Guys, listen to what she had to say today on “The View.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBARA WALTERS, “THE VIEW”: This is what I want to say, and this is unrehearsed and she doesn‘t know it. Rosie O‘Donnell is one of the kindest, most sensitive people I know and so is our friend, Kelly Ripa. And Rosie and Kelly talked yesterday after the show. Rosie and Clay Aiken have talked. And all is well with the world and all is well with them. So let‘s move on. What are you doing for Thanksgiving?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: You know, it‘s like “The Simpsons” cop, Nothing to see here, move along, move along. How many times has Barbara Walters had to give that speech about Rosie O‘Donnell? And how much longer is she going to put up with this?
O‘NEIL: Well, I have firsthand experience. I‘ve talked about it on this show before, having worked with Rosie. I was one of the writers for her magazine. And I can tell you that no staff member thought that Rosie had a secret sweet side. That whole “queen of nice” thing we saw when she had her own show was all put on.
Steve just nailed it here. She had a chance to make up for all this. Let‘s say she was out of line, a little paranoid on the gay thing. She had a chance to say, OK, I‘m sorry, right? But no, she rolled her guys meanly. And you see the real side of Rosie then, and it‘s not pretty.
ADUBATO: And you know, Joe, I have to say this. You know, Rosie is tough. She‘s smart. Sometimes she‘s good TV. I‘ll say what I said in the beginning, when we started talking about “The View.” She‘s not great in an ensemble situation. She‘s great alone. But I‘ll say this. Rosie O‘Donnell, if you‘re going to be that tough, that arrogant and that opinionated, as some of us are on the air, then you better be tough enough when Kelly Ripa calls in and challenges you. My understanding was that...
SCARBOROUGH: Well—well, but you know, Steve...
ADUBATO: ... you said you didn‘t like her to do that.
SCARBOROUGH: ... the funny thing here is—Steve, the funny thing here is that Rosie is angry at producers because they let Ripa call in. Take a listen to what she had to say about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: Yesterday on the show, we had the thing with Kelly, and you could tell she was upset.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kelly Ripa.
O‘DONNELL. Yes. I didn‘t think it was a great thing to put her on the air right then, knowing she was upset, but I would have wanted to talk to her privately after the show. But we did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ADUBATO: No, no. That‘s what‘s good for the show. That‘s what‘s good for the show, is to have her on the air. Rosie‘s saying, What‘s good is when I‘m in control and I‘ve got everything going for me and I‘m not challenged. It‘s like when O‘Reilly went on Letterman. O‘Reilly didn‘t do very well. Why? Because Letterman was controlling it. She got controlled by Kelly Ripa, and it wasn‘t even Kelly‘s show. It was great TV then.
SCARBOROUGH: You know—great TV—and Tom O‘Neil, though, the thing, again, that you found out when you worked with Rosie O‘Donnell personally, one on one, is the fact that if she‘s not in control, eventually it falls apart. Is the same thing going to happen with “The View”?
O‘NEIL: I don‘t see how they can stand this in the long haul because she‘s not considerate or compassionate to other people. You can see she makes no effort to be that way, and that‘s what‘s supposed to make the show work. I think she‘ll probably just say the ultimate outrageous terrible thing and Barbara will just pull the plug. Remember, Barbara suffers fools up to a point. She sure put up with Star Jones a long time. I mean, Star started out wonderfully on the show as an ensemble player, and then she did the same diva takeover thing that Rosie‘s doing. But Rosie‘s smarter than Star and she—you know, more clever and more belligerent, more of a bully. You know, I would love to see her in the ring with Mike Tyson. My money would be on Rosie.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, yes, I think she‘d bite Tyson‘s ear in the second round and it‘d be over.
SCARBOROUGH: Anyway, Tom O‘Neil, Steve Adubato, thanks so much. And Tom, stick around because coming up: Did Nancy Grace play judge, jury and executioner, leading to a woman‘s suicide? One family friend says, yes, she did. And now CNN and Grace are playing defendants. We‘re going to speak live to the attorney who‘s suing CNN and Nancy Grace. And next, in “Must See S.C.,” it‘s deer gone wild. One of our own NBC reporters finds just how wild it is out there.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, it‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” some video you just got to see. First up: Tomkat‘s wedding ceremony last weekend wasn‘t exactly traditional, but even Scientologists take wedding photos. Jay Leno shows how their picture measures up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY LENO, “TONIGHT” SHOW: Hey, congratulate Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. They got married over the weekend, big wedding there in Italy. And you see a beautiful wedding photo. I think some of the people probably can‘t see Katie‘s dress. Can we pull back? Let‘s see Katie‘s dress. You see it? Oh, that‘s beautiful. Beautiful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Ouch. It hurts. And finally, they may be cute and friendly, but sometimes Bambi attacks. NBC‘s own Kevin Tibbles reported on deer gone wild, and our friend, Jimmy Kimmel, has the outtakes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN TIBBLES, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): All eyes in Michigan‘s Cascade township were on the lookout for this little fellow who got a little too close to some Halloween loot. On Tuesday in Pittsburgh, staying one step ahead of the law meant holing up in a bank. And in Des Moines, attention Target shoppers, we‘ve got a deer in aisle five going for about a buck.
(on camera): There are roughly 30 million deer here in North America, and for much of the year, they remain hidden in the woods. But in the late fall, they‘re on the move, especially the males.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, we hope Kevin‘s doing OK. Coming up: Will a lawsuit against Nancy Grace stand up in court? The attorney who brought the suit joins us next and going to tell us why CNN should be held accountable for a grieving mother‘s suicide. And later, we‘re going to be talking to first sister Doro Bush. She‘s going to tell us what it‘s like growing up with two presidents in the family and whether there‘s any friction between 41 and 43.
SCARBOROUGH: Coming up, we‘re going to take you inside the Bush family. First sister Doro on growing up with two presidents, and why she always knew her oldest brother would grow up to be the commander-in-chief.
And later in “Hollyweird,” the awards show prank that has Britney Spears actually rushing to K-Fed‘s defense. Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. Those stories straight ahead.
But first, Nancy Grace under fire. Grace, the Headline News anchor, and CNN are both being sued by the family of Melinda Duckett. She‘s, of course, the young mother who committed suicide the day after Grace aggressively questioned her about the disappearance of her son. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY GRACE, CNN HOST: Where were you? Why aren‘t you telling us where you were that day? You were the last person to be seen with him.
MELINDA DUCKETT, MOTHER: And we‘ve already gone out and distributed the fliers and spoken to...
GRACE: Right, why aren‘t you telling us and giving us a clear picture of where you were before your son was kidnapped?
DUCKETT: Because I‘m not going to put those kind of details out.
DUCKETT: Because I was told not to.
GRACE: Ms. Duckett, you‘re not telling us for a reason. What is the reason? You refuse to give even the simplest facts of where you were with your son before he went missing. It is day 12.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And now Melinda Duckett‘s parents are speaking out over Grace‘s coverage of the case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY EUBANK, FATHER OF MELINDA DUCKETT: Three or four hours after Melinda had died, I‘m still in a state of shock, and I‘m watching this woman banging the table and screaming about, “Why aren‘t you telling us this or that?” I mean, she was judge, jury and executioner.
BETH EUBANK, MOTHER OF MELINDA DUCKETT: She physically makes me ill.
GRACE: Those allegations are hateful, they are spiteful, and they‘re also ridiculous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Here is Kara Skorupa. She is the attorney for Melinda Duckett‘s parents, Jay and Beth Eubank.
Kara, thank you for being with us. Let‘s start out by asking you the big question: Do your clients really believe that Nancy Grace ultimately was responsible for Ms. Duckett‘s suicide?
KARA SKORUPA, EUBANK‘S FAMILY ATTORNEY: They absolutely do. It was very, very traumatic for the family to go through this entire episode, and they‘ve really suffered a double tragedy with Melinda‘s death and Trenton‘s disappearance.
SCARBOROUGH: Do you think they would be suing Nancy Grace and CNN if Grace had not continued going after Duckett, even after she committed suicide? I mean, this has been a daily occurrence over the past couple of months.
SKORUPA: You know, it really has. I can‘t speak to what would happen if she had actually, you know, acted appropriately and if CNN had acted appropriately and apologized and stopped, but, you know, what you said is absolutely true. It‘s been every single day an absolute character assassination. Nancy Grace cherry-picks facts to share with the public and has just continued to malign Melinda, and just absolutely her parents are devastated.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, a former CNN executive said earlier this week that, if he were still running the network, she would be off the air. Let me ask you about what CNN Headline News, what CNN has done, though, right now. Have they apologized to your clients for the loss of their daughter? Have they made any contact at all with your clients?
SKORUPA: No. Unfortunately, they haven‘t. I think it‘s not only the lack of an apology, although that clearly would be the civil place to begin. However, you know, they keep showing the tape again, and again, and again. And the Eubank family has been through an enormous amount.
And the fact that CNN is profiting from this tragedy and continues to show the tape again, and again, and again, and these parents are watching it, and the family is watching it. And they have a young child. And it‘s just really unconscionable that this type of behavior continues. And as I said, they profit from it. They make money from it. It‘s totally out of line and inappropriate, at best.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Kara, we can certainly agree with you on that one. I think it is totally out of line what Nancy Grace has been doing. I think the only question is whether your clients can recover because of her actions. Kara, thank you so much for being with us. I really do appreciate it.
SKORUPA: Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s bring in Matthew Felling. He‘s the media director for the Center for Media and Public Affairs. And also Steve Adubato again.
Steve, obviously we‘re all disgusted—you and I at least are disgusted by what Nancy Grace has been doing since this woman‘s death. But do you think they may actually be able to sue CNN and recover a verdict?
ADUBATO: Again, Joe, I always try to make it clear I‘m a media analyst, not a legal expert, but I‘ll tell you this: On the surface, it sounds like a compelling argument. And I‘ll tell you what clearly is going to be an issue. And for all producers in our business, consider this question.
How did the producers at CNN lure or get Duckett onto the program? Did they tell her they were going to help her in the search for the 2-year-old little boy, Trenton, or did they tell her, “By the way, we want to be clear, Melinda, you are going to be grilled. You are going to be prosecuted. You are going to be persecuted. You‘re going to be cross-examined by Nancy”?
Because that‘s what a lot of people are going to say, that Melinda Duckett should have known because she knows the way Nancy Grace plays. The question is: How did those producers get her on the show? And was it under false pretenses? My gut is they never told her what was about to happen.
SCARBOROUGH: No, I mean, certainly from what we‘ve been hearing, certainly from their side of it, they‘re just saying that they had called her on and said that they wanted to help get the news out about the missing son. Matthew, I want you to take a listen to a clip of a man who is the co-founder of CNN and what he had to say about Nancy Grace.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did Nancy Grace go too far?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By my standards, yes, she went too far, sure.
Conning guests—which is what we‘re talking about—is all too common in this business. If I were still running the show over there, Nancy Grace wouldn‘t be on the air.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Matthew, I can ask you that ethical question, but also let me ask you legally, from what you know about the media, media law. If CNN is responsible for this ambush interview, could they end up being liable in a civil court?
MATTHEW FELLING, THE CENTER FOR MEDIA AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS: I don‘t think this lawsuit holds any water whatsoever. And let me just come out and say that I think that Nancy Grace‘s on-air persona is a media demon and I loathe her with the heat of a thousand suns. But still, what were the Ducketts thinking when they allowed Melinda to go out there in front of the camera?
Even if the producers said that, listen, we want to get more information out, Melinda‘s behavior during the segment, she didn‘t want to give out any details whatsoever. It was almost as if she expected a Barbara Walters soft-lens sort of interview.
FELLING: Because when she was asked for little information, “When was the last time you saw him?” she would not answer the very littlest, simplest question, which just links to the suspicion—and Nancy Grace does not need an opening normally. And I don‘t understand...
SCARBOROUGH: So, Matthew, let‘s say that, OK? Let‘s go ahead and put it to the side. Forget the fact that she‘s a young woman who just lost her toddler, and obviously could—who know? Maybe she was on tranquilizers. Maybe she was having some issues and she couldn‘t answer them clearly.
What about after she committed suicide?
They had the tape. They ran it anyway. And Nancy Grace has been on this personal journalistic jihad for the past, what, two months? I mean, don‘t you think that‘s way over the line?
FELLING: Absolutely. And I‘m differentiating between CNN and Nancy Grace. CNN, by going ahead and airing this interview the night she committed suicide and running that little caption at the bottom, was tasteless. They should have let this go. And they‘ve had plenty of clips to run on a Friday night for their justice junkies who tune into Nancy Grace.
But I keep going back to the idea—like, if I go out and I play football, play a scrimmage with the Redskins and I break a shoulder or something, I know what I‘m getting into. And she was either poorly informed or she didn‘t know what she was getting into.
ADUBATO: Matt, you‘re being—listen, here‘s the deal. Nancy Grace
and, Matthew, I‘m confused by what you‘re saying, because you make it sound as if all that happened was that Nancy Grace asked tough questions of a mother who potentially could have been involved in the child‘s killing.
How about this? The direct quote—you just saw it, Joe. “You‘re not telling us for a reason.” Matthew, I ask you: How does Nancy Grace know that Melinda Duckett is not telling us for a reason? She‘s the questioner. She‘s the judge. She‘s the jury. She‘s the executioner. And you‘re saying that the Duckett family should have known that she was going to be accused on the air of not giving up information for a reason, Matthew? That‘s your assessment?
FELLING: Well, whenever you tune into Nancy grace, it‘s like tuning into that scene in “A Few Good Men,” every single night, where everything is just gung-ho. And the Duckett interview, was she trying to get information out?
Nancy Grace admittedly has one gear. She is a one-trick pony, and she leaps. And the people behind Duckett should have known this and should have at least advised her that she should be ready for this, if she doesn‘t come forward with all the details. I found her presentation during that segment extremely odd. I‘m not saying suspicious. I‘m just saying she wasn‘t giving back and forth.
SCARBOROUGH: And, again, the focus, Matthew, I think in this trial—it may not just be what she did that night, but, again, what she‘s continued to do over the following two months since this young woman died tragically. Matthew Felling, Steve Adubato...
ADUBATO: Happy Thanksgiving.
SCARBOROUGH: ... thank you so much for being with us. Hey, happy Thanksgiving to both of you guys, too, and thanks for being with us tonight.
And coming up next, like father and son. Well, first sister Doro Bush talks about the two presidents in her life and why she thinks her dad is the greatest man she‘s ever met.
And later in “Hollyweird,” Britney Spears stands by her man—make that the guy she‘s divorcing—after Fed-Ex is mocked at an awards show. The full story, coming up.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, welcome back.
With the son‘s presidency in what some are calling a bumpy period, the first President Bush has stepped back into the political spotlight. Now, Bush 41 took on his son‘s critics yesterday, saying that Bush 43 is an honest man. And now a new book is out that tells the former president‘s story from a very unique perspective, that of his only daughter, Doro.
The book is called “My Father, My President,” I recently was able to sit down and talk to Doro about the two presidents in her life.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now you must see me for what I am: the Republican candidate for president of the United States.
DORO BUSH KOCH, PRESIDENT BUSH‘S SISTER: The skeleton of the book is my father‘s extraordinary career, but the meat of the book are these stories that I‘ve collected via letters—over 167 letters—and then I did over 135 interviews with people, all the living presidents, all the world leaders who were in office when my dad was the president, and colleagues, and friends, and opponents, and so those stories make up the meat of the book.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘ve had an opportunity to drive in motorcades with your brother, the president, and your brother, the governor of Florida. And the thing that struck me is, every time you start talking about them, you start talking about the family, if your father‘s name comes up, they will stop and both of them will say, “Joe, he‘s the greatest man I‘ve ever met.” Why do your father‘s children love him so?
D. BUSH: Well, one of the things that my dad says he‘s most proud of in his life—and he‘s had so many accomplishments—is that his children still want to come home. And we do. I mean, we absolutely adore him. My dad has led by example. He‘s taught us. He‘s parented by example. It‘s hard to describe why we all adore him, but, as Jeb says, we would jump in front of a train for him.
SCARBOROUGH: Your father had the common touch. That also made him extraordinary. Even when he was president, he didn‘t forget who he was.
D. BUSH: It‘s true. And one of the chapters is entitled “Master of the Small Gesture.” And my dad really is the master of the small gesture, and he knows that it‘s the little things in life that were taught to him by his mother.
I think his mother was the greatest influence in his life, because she taught him the basic lessons of, “Be kind to others, don‘t brag about yourself, lift someone up when they‘re down.” And so he is the master of the small gestures. He knows that the little things can make the most enormous impact.
SCARBOROUGH: So tell me about the relationship that your father and your mother have had through the years?
D. BUSH: They‘ve been married for over 62 years. And they have a great relationship. My favorite story in the book about their relationship is, after my father became president, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth because of his work with the Gulf War.
G. BUSH: Just two hours ago, allied air forces began an attack on military targets in Iraq and Kuwait. These attacks continue as I speak.
D. BUSH: So he came in one day to my mom and he said, “Bar, what‘s it like being married to a real live knight?” And she said, “Make the coffee, Sir George.”
And they have a great relationship. They complement each other, and it‘s a great example to me and to my brothers. Their marriage has been terrific.
SCARBOROUGH: Talk about your brother for a little bit, because I‘ve heard your mother making jokes about how she never really expected George W. to be the guy that was going to be president. Did it surprise your family? Did you ever laugh and think, “My gosh, I can‘t believe it was George W. that actually grew up and became president?”
D. BUSH: I was not surprised when George W. became president. He was always a leader. He actually bossed me around a lot growing up, so I knew he‘d be a good leader.
SCARBOROUGH: Are you fairly confident that in this new political environment he‘s going to do very well reaching out to Democrats?
D. BUSH: I know he‘s going to do well. You know, my father had a completely Democratic House and Senate, and he got lots of things passed. And so I know that my brother is going to do the same. He‘ll be great.
SCARBOROUGH: Give us the favorite story about your father that you want Americans to know.
D. BUSH: Well, there are so many stories in the book and—but one that I love is on my dad‘s inauguration day. He walked up onto the platform, and it was his big day, obviously. And he saw that President Reagan was being bundled up in an overcoat by Mrs. Reagan.
And because he didn‘t want to upstage President Reagan, because he didn‘t want to look younger and more vital than President Reagan, he borrowed a coat from his aide, Tim McBride. And I love that story, because, on his big day, he was thinking of somebody else.
G. BUSH: I, George Herbert Walker Bush, do solemnly swear...
WILLIAM REHNQUIST, FORMER SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE: That I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States.
G. BUSH: That I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States.
SCARBOROUGH: And Doro, again, is the author of the book “My Father, My President,” a personal account of the life of George H.W. Bush. Thank you so much, Doro. We really do appreciate it.
D. BUSH: Thank you, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: What a great book. And I‘ll tell you what: Anybody that‘s been around the man that will tell you stories about him will tell you he really is such a great human being. Forget politics. Forget the power. Forget all of his service to our country and the world. At the end of the day, George Bush, Sr., is just a wonderful, decent man.
And we‘re all grateful, especially going into this Thanksgiving weekend, that he‘s blessed us all as a country as much as he has.
Well, to a lighter note, when we come back, it‘s a “Hollyweird” Thanksgiving, as Jennifer Aniston spends Turkey Day with the Pitts. That‘s coming up next.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, check out of rehab. It‘s time for “Hollyweird.”
First up, Britney Spears. The pop princess made a surprise appearance at the American Music Awards last night, and right after a skit that poked fun at her soon-to-be ex-husband, Kevin Federline. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, “JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE”: There he was, Kevin Federline, everyone. He is now being sealed tightly in—the crate is now being transported just down the street to the Port of San Pedro.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Here now, editor-at-large for “Life and Style Weekly,” Dawn Yanek. And, once again, Tom O‘Neil.
Dawn, what‘s going on there? I understand Britney had to come out and actually defend her man.
DAWN YANEK, “LIFE AND STYLE”: Well, apparently Britney was pretty upset about things after the fact. And, I mean, you can kind of see why. I mean, yes, she is going through a divorce, but, that said, he is the father of her children. This is a man that she loved, whether or not the rest of us understood it or not. And this is not the P.R. spin she wanted for this award show. Traditionally, she has reinvented herself at awards shows, but instead she was kind of the butt of the joke here.
SCARBOROUGH: No doubt about it. And, Tom, obviously, it‘s not the best way to get both sides together when you have kids, right?
O‘NEIL: No. And the thing that‘s really tasteless here is they didn‘t tell Britney ahead of time. She had no idea this was coming. She acted very gracefully in the face of this insult, though, because—remember, you know, we‘ve been laughing at her marriage all along, and she‘s just now understanding why. She doesn‘t want to deal with that now. She wants to, as Dawn just said, present the new Britney. That‘s why she was there.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s time to move on. And, of course, this year‘s Thanksgiving starts tomorrow. But at the Pitts, it‘s not going to include their famous son, Brad, or his girlfriend, Angelina Jolie. They‘re in India filming a movie.
But “Life and Style” reports Pitt‘s ex-wife, Jennifer Aniston, is invited. Dawn, why invite the ex-wife?
YANEK: Well, don‘t forget, when you break up with your significant other, you don‘t necessarily break up with the family. And that break-up can be very, very difficult, as well. You know, we had heard that Brad‘s mom, Jane, had invited Jen to Missouri. Then some reports also surfaced this week that perhaps Jen had also invited them to California. The thing is, wherever they‘re going to spend Turkey Day, these are people who have still maintained a relationship even after Brad and Jen‘s divorce. And that is not sitting all too well with Angelina, so we‘ve heard.
SCARBOROUGH: I would guess it‘s not. But, Tom, it sounds like the Pitts are uniters, not dividers.
O‘NEIL: Yes, but I‘ll tell you what‘s truly weird in this “Hollyweird” story is, why can‘t she patch things up with her own mother, Jennifer? Why isn‘t she having turkey with her own mom? That‘s a whole other story.
YANEK: And Angelina‘s got some issues with her dad, too, so I guess it‘s a theme.
SCARBOROUGH: And what is that story, Tom?
O‘NEIL: Well, one version of it is that her mother criticized Jennifer‘s hair while being interviewed by “Extra,” and mom and daughter were on the phone at the same time. And that‘s what snapped them apart. But, really, what was more in the case is that her mom wrote a book and talked very personally and in some cases critically about her daughter, and Jennifer‘s never forgiven her.
SCARBOROUGH: I would guess not. Hey, Dawn, Tom, have a great Thanksgiving. We want you to have a great Thanksgiving, too. We‘ll see you on Monday.
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