Guests: Joan Walsh, Richard Wolffe, Michael Crowley, David Caplan, Jackie Hatten, Ashlan Gorse
DAN ABRAMS, GUEST HOST: You know, it‘s sort of like finding out you made it to the next round of “American Idol.” I‘m filling in for Joe Scarborough!
So where is Joe Scarborough, and why is a washed-up talk show host sitting here tonight? Well, here‘s a clip from Joe on our air earlier today, stuck on an airplane.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don‘t you have a show to do at 9:00 o‘clock tonight?
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Calling Dan Abrams! Calling Dan Abrams!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello? Dan? Emergency!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Due to the bad weather, Joe was on that plane for more than nine hours today in a middle seat. So when he asked that I fill in tonight, how could I say no?
Tonight, we‘ll talk live to one of Anna Nicole‘s longtime friends, who says Anna told her who the father of Anna Nicole‘s 5-month-old baby actually is.
But first, the president meets the press. In a somewhat hastily called press conference this morning, President Bush defended the troop surge to the American people and to the Congress. He blamed Iranian agents for helping to supply lethal explosives that have been used against U.S. troops and warned that if we leave Iraq, the results would be deadly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To step back from the fight in Baghdad would have disastrous consequences for people in America. That‘s the conclusion I came to. The Iraqi government could collapse, chaos would spread, there would be a vacuum. Into the vacuum would flow more extremists, more radicals, people who have stated intent to hurt our people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: And as we speak, Congress continues to debate the president‘s troop surge strategy. Not surprisingly, it is getting ugly, with Democrats blasting Republicans for questioning their patriotism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), MAJORITY LEADER: So when you come to the floor, my friends, debate the substance of this policy. But do not hide behind the troops. Do not assert that anybody on this floor does not have every intention and commitment to supporting to whatever degree necessary our young men and women.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: So what, if anything, did the president achieve today? Is it really possible today‘s press conference will lead the public or even the Congress to shift positions on anything related to the war or the troop surge?
Joining me now, Michael Crowley, senior editor for “The New Republic,” Salon.com editor-in-chief Joan Walsh, and Richard Wolffe, senior White House correspondent for “Newsweek.” He was at the president‘s press conference today. Thanks to all of you for coming on the program. Appreciate it.
Richard, bottom line, is there any hope that this press conference will actually change the polls, will shift public opinion on the troop surge or the war?
RICHARD WOLFFE, “NEWSWEEK”: No. And the White House doesn‘t think so, either. They think...
ABRAMS: So what‘s the point? Why did they do it?
WOLFFE: Well, a couple of things. First of all, they think the only thing that‘s going to change public opinion now—remember, they‘ve gone through endless press conferences and speeches and televised addresses. The only thing that‘s going to change public opinion is stuff on the ground, what happens on the ground.
Why did they have this press conference? Well, they happened to be talking about stuff on the ground. The new commander, Petraeus, is out there. They think the new strategy has got off to an OK start. And given the lack of good news recently, they feel pretty good about that. And they want to frame the debate in Congress. They want to say, Listen, we‘ve got a strategy in place. We‘ve got a commander out there, a guy that the Senate, at least, confirmed. So what‘s your problem? The problem is that the American people don‘t agree.
ABRAMS: Joan Walsh, it seems to me that the president was a bit more confident in this press conference than we‘ve seen him in recent months. Do you think that this press conference was held because the administration is feeling a bit more confident about the strategy?
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: I think he must be a big romantic and it‘s Valentine‘s Day, Dan, and he was downright frisky. He was frisky with Richard. He was frisky with all the reporters. But really, he was handling a public relations debacle. I mean, one of the things that happened is that they rolled out this strategy over the weekend to really begin to claim that they have evidence that Iran is behind this new generation of IEDs, and they can‘t prove it. And so you have the spectacle of Peter Pace kind of denying it—We don‘t really know, we can‘t say where they‘re coming from. And so the president kind of boldly comes out today and says, Well, you know, we can‘t prove it, we don‘t know for sure that the, quote, “top leaders” are involved, but we know they‘re doing it and we‘re going to stop them. So you know, he had a fun day with the press, but I agree with Richard, I don‘t think it means anything.
ABRAMS: Well, Michael (INAUDIBLE) there‘s a difference between saying, We don‘t know whether any Iranian agents are behind this, versus what the president said in the press conference, which was, Well, we believe that certain Iranian agents were involved, but we can‘t say whether the top levels of the Iranian government were.
MICHAEL CROWLEY, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”: That‘s right. But you know, Dan, this is the problem, the tragedy, or one of many tragedies of the war with Iraq and the way it played out, which is that you just don‘t know what to trust and what to believe. And so what‘s happening now, as this debate about Iran emerges, is that it‘s being conducted under this cloud of suspicion and contempt, where now you have these strangely contradictory statements, or there‘s a little bit of a mystery, and no one wants to give this administration, I think rightfully, the benefit of the doubt.
So if it‘s a little cloudy, if it‘s a little confusing, people are not going to say, Well, close enough. They‘re going to say, You show us exactly what you know, back up what you have. And if you have contradictor statements, like you had between Pace and the briefers in Baghdad the other day, that‘s a big problem for the administration.
So I think, to some extent, what Bush was trying to do was sort of sort that out and get it clarified, but I‘m not sure it worked. And I‘m—
I just this his credibility has taken such a blow that it just starts to look kind of bizarre when he‘s making these ambiguous statements like he made today. We don‘t know exactly that it was one thing, but it wasn‘t the other thing.
And I really—you know, if this is the debate we‘re in for with Iran, it just kind of makes me—it makes me grimace because, you know, there‘s just not going to be any way to get to the bottom of this. There‘s not going to be any level of trust. People aren‘t going to be able to agree what the facts are.
ABRAMS: Let me get back to Iran in one minute because that certainly was the heart of the speech today. But President Bush addressed Congress directly in the press conference today. And we‘re talking about this non-binding resolution against the troop surge. Here‘s what the president said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: They have every right to express their opinion. And it is a non-binding resolution. My hope, however, is that this non-binding resolution doesn‘t try to turn into a binding policy that prevents our troops from doing that which I have asked them to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Richard, the sense I got was that the president was saying, You guys go ahead, debate your non-binding resolution. That‘s fine, you know? You guys are all free to do and say what you want. But I want to make sure it doesn‘t mean anything. And so as long as you‘re saying it‘s non-binding, go ahead. That‘s fine. And I‘m going to basically ignore it.
WOLFFE: Right. And as my friend, Dana Milbank, pointed out today, this is—they‘re saying this is both the most inconsequential thing in the world, and it also threatens to undermine the entire mission in Iraq. You can‘t really have it both ways. Of course, they want to stop this from going ahead any further than it already is, and they can‘t do it. You know, the president is saying, -- you know, they‘re just resigned to this thing happening. But they are concerned that—especially in the House, there‘s not a lot they can do to stop it moving forward. And what the next step is, is tying all sorts of strings to the funding—not cutting off funding, but tying strings to the mission. That‘s what worries them.
ABRAMS: All right. Here are some of key phrases from some of the House Republicans describing the potential impact of the resolution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN ®, TENNESSEE: I think there‘s a question that we have to ask is, Whose side are you on? Whose side are you on? Are you on the side of winning? Are you on the side of freedom? Are you on the side of allowing the terrorists to get an upper hand?
REP. TERRY EVERETT ®, ALABAMA: It can only do harm to our troops and bring aid and comfort to the terrorists.
REP. DANIEL LUNGREN ®, CALIFORNIA: The fanatics‘ perception of success only serve to embolden those who seek to kill us.
REP. RICK RENZI ®, ARIZONA: It offers no hope, encourages no victory and contains no solutions! Mr. Speaker, this resolution is a cruel message to our brave soldiers on the front lines, and it undermines their fighting spirit and their morale. Take responsibility, all of us, for the encouragement this resolution gives to our enemies!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: All right, Michael Crowley, even if that‘s hyperbole, you know, isn‘t there an argument to be made that there‘s really no practical point to a non- binding resolution, which is effectively Congress‘s way of saying, you know, We don‘t agree?
CROWLEY: Yes, I think there is some truth to that. Let me say first a couple of those speeches, particularly the “Whose side are you on” I don‘t think—would get you thrown off your high school debating team. I mean, it‘s just a shame that debate in the U.S. Congress is on that level sometimes.
But you‘re fight. I mean, there is something a little bit intellectually confused about the Democratic position right now. And I think the problem is that you have a bunch of Democrats who really in their guts don‘t feel comfortable with pulling the rug out, and they really do worry about the consequences. You have a bunch of them—I heard a senior Democratic congressman say (INAUDIBLE) they‘re worried about the political consequences of the American people think that they‘re the ones who pulled the plug and they‘re going to get blamed. So they‘re not really ready to go as far as their logical procession—their ideas would lead you to.
ABRAMS: But Joan Walsh, we keep talking about this non-binding resolution, and you know, as a lawyer, I appreciate those kinds of—that kind of jargon. But the reality is, you know, Congress has limited options here. They can cut off the funding. That would be a binding resolution.
ABRAMS: Do they have any choices in between cutting off the funding and just a statement that says, We don‘t like it?
WALSH: Well, I think the statement is important. They want to get some Republicans...
ABRAMS: Is there anything in between?
WALSH: Yes, there is. I think there—you know, I think you‘re seeing in at least the House appropriations process that Jack Murtha and others are saying they‘re going to really try to make sure that the money is spent to make sure the troops have armor and proper training, which then restricts the number. You know, if I‘m training and arming every single soldier well, then that‘s going to restrict the number of soldiers I can send with a fixed amount of money.
Dan, you know, they‘re trying to stop repeat deployments of the National Guard, which again limits the number of soldiers. So I think they‘re going to get—savvy, cute, you can call it what you will. I think it‘s smart—about trying to get some things on the record that support the troops, protect the troops, but also limit the president‘s ability to send more troops into harm‘s way. I think that‘s what you‘ll see.
ABRAMS: Richard, let‘s talk about Iran very quickly. Why is the president suddenly talking about Iran? The president‘s accusing the Iranians of helping to provide explosives that killed U.S. troops.
Let me quickly play—you asked the president about sitting down with the Iranian leaders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Richard, if I thought we could achieve success, I would sit
down. But I don‘t think we can achieve success right now. I know—this
this is a world in which—I‘m not suggesting you‘re this way, but this is a world in which people say “Meet. Sit down and meet.” And my answer is, if it yields results, that‘s what I‘m interested in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: And Richard, why would the president want to met with the Iranian leaders if the real claim is that they‘re blowing up—you know, they‘re providing explosives to blow up U.S. troops?
WOLFFE: Why would you meet with your enemy? Well, you know, as I asked the question, previous presidents met with generations of Soviet leaders, hostile enemies if there ever were one. But they met with a purpose. You don‘t close the door to negotiations before they start. This president seems to think that there‘s no point.
The point they are trying to send here is twofold. One, they want Iran to stop whatever it‘s doing, and they‘re not really sure, but they think they‘re doing something in Iraq. And secondly, to the region, they want to say, We are a presence, we‘re not going anywhere, and reassure the allies in the region.
They like sending mixed messages to Iran. They think they‘re unsettling the regime. It‘s not war, it‘s not peace. And while Teheran is guessing, it‘s causing all sorts of turmoil. That‘s the game plan.
ABRAMS: Michael Crowley, Joan Walsh and Richard Wolffe, thanks a lot.
Coming up next: If you‘re just getting back from that Valentine‘s Day dinner, you may be glad you already ate. A hidden camera investigation exposes the filthy truth about what happens to some food before it ends up in some pretty swanky restaurants.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOEL GROVER, KNBC INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER (voice-over): Take a look at this produce vendor urinating right out in the open, around boxes of vegetables.
(on camera): Why did you do that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no idea. I‘m very stupid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Great answer.
And later: Court rulings today on the Anna Nicole Smith mess. We‘re joined live by one of Anna Nicole‘s longtime friends, who says Anna Nicole told her who is the father of 5-month-old Dannielynn.
Plus, on this Valentine‘s Day, a shocking revelation. Apparently, money can buy you love. Who knew? We see some speed dating where only rich guys and hot women are allowed. That‘s right, rich women and poor guys not invited.
ABRAMS: If you‘ve just returned from that special Valentine‘s Day dinner, you may not want to see this hidden camera investigation. But I have to tell you, it‘s pretty amazing. It exposes how some food gets from the warehouse to your dinner plate. KNBC‘s Joel Grover in Los Angeles has the results of this four-month investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOEL GROVER, KNBC INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER (voice-over): This well-known LA restaurant has an A in the window, suggesting the food is clean. But wait until you see where they get some of their produce, a place crawling with rats, where food is getting contaminated, sometimes by people who work there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw you going to the bathroom right around boxes of food.
GROVER: And you‘ll see proof that health inspectors have known about problems here for years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They‘ve been kind of lenient, awfully lenient with you guys.
GROVER: It‘s called the 7th Street wholesale produce market, in downtown LA. This is where thousands of southern California restaurants and stores get their fruits and vegetables. Week after week, our cameras document filthy conditions here, like workers dumping trash wherever they please, workers picking up produce off the sludgy ground and selling it like it‘s clean. We found produce stored right next to the porta-potties, which is against the health code, and produce stored right next to the garbage dumpsters, which are crawling with rats, rats that feast on the market‘s fruits and vegetables.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are there rats?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, big ones. Boy, these are living in here.
JEFF NELKIN, FORENSIC FOOD SAFETY EXPERT: Well, rats carry disease.
GROVER: Jeff Nelkin is a forensic food safety expert.
NELKIN: As they walk on top of the food or if they take a bite out of it, they‘re leaving their bacteria and viruses behind.
GROVER: And we found other serious health code violations, like in the bathrooms for the market‘s workers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No hot water. No way to turn the hot water on.
GROVER: The janitor also says there‘s never any soap.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No soap?
GROVER: Every day, we see workers, like this woman, using the toilets and then touching food without washing their hands with soap and hot water.
NELKIN: It‘s a direct transfer of their feces, urine, bacteria and viruses onto that food.
GROVER: And this is an image we saw multiple times. Take a look at this produce vendor, urinating right out in the open around boxes of vegetables.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did you do that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no idea. I‘m very stupid. I‘m very stupid (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You shouldn‘t have done that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Correct.
GROVER: But this was perhaps the biggest health hazard we saw, water spilling out of pipes that smelled like raw sewage. The water was splashed onto boxes of produce that were often sitting in that water. We took samples from the market and had them analyzed at a lab. What did they find in that water that was touching fruits and vegetables? Extremely high levels of E. coli, fecal coliform and listeria, which can all cause food poisoning.
NELKIN: The potential for an outbreak from exposure to this kind of inexcusable condition is of great concern.
GROVER: So where does this possibly contaminated produce end up? We tracked it to well-known chains like Johnny Rocket‘s and I-Hop. It goes to trendy restaurants like Sushi of Naples in Long Beach and Pasadena, and to many smaller eateries like Pita Pita (ph), also in Pasadena, produce from a market with dirty conditions that surprised even some of the workers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m surprised the health department hasn‘t said something about this market, the way it is.
GROVER (on camera): We wondered that, too, especially since the health department has all these records detailing a history of health code violations at the market.
We‘d like to show you some videotape.
TERRANCE POWELL, CALIFORNIA DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH: Sure.
GROVER (voice-over): So we asked Terrance Powell, chief of the Department of Environmental Health.
POWELL: Our actions have been very aggressive in the area of sanitation.
GROVER: Aggressive, it seems, only after we started asking questions. Right after we requested an interview, our hidden cameras caught the chief health inspector telling vendors that NBC was investigating and they better clean up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: NBC might be out here in another week or so.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really? You mean the television station?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
GROVER (on camera): Isn‘t that kind of embarrassing to the health department?
POWELL: Well, I think it‘s clearly embarrassing in terms of the rhetoric.
GROVER: It sounds like you‘re clearing this up because NBC is investigating.
POWELL: Well, I don‘t think that we have the ability, nor do we have the desire, to clean it up for the media.
GROVER (voice-over): But that‘s not what the chief inspector said on hidden camera.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We‘re diligently enforcing what we‘re supposed to have been doing all along.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fact that NBC‘s coming kind of gave us a heads-up, huh?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
GROVER (on camera): Seems like your people have not been doing their job in keeping that place clear.
POWELL: I think it would appear so. I think we‘ve been deficient in our enforcement.
GROVER (voice-over): And what about the produce near the rat-infested trash and contaminated water?
(on camera): That food could be contaminated.
POWELL: Oh, yes. I think clearly so.
GROVER: Would you want to eat the food from this place?
POWELL: I would have a definite concern about the food emanating from this facility.
GROVER (voice-over): But now the health department is promising a sweeping crackdown on the 7th Street market.
POWELL: I think what we need to do is do our job.
GROVER (on camera): Better than you‘ve been doing it?
POWELL: Clearly, we need to improve.
ABRAMS: The guy‘s urinating near the food, and the point is, I‘d have a concern. I‘d have a concern, too.
Joining us now, KNBC investigative reporter Joel Grover. Thanks a lot for joining us. We appreciate it. So what has happened since your piece aired? This piece aired a few days back. And what—was there any changes as a result of it?
GROVER: There‘ve been a lot of changes. First, we heard from most of the restaurants in our story. In a statement from Johnny Rocket‘s, they said to us that they‘ve taken appropriate steps to make sure that their produce supplier will not be delivering 7th Street produce market products to any Johnny Rocket‘s restaurants.
And some of the other restaurants in our story—Pita Pita and Sushi of Naples have also stopped buying from the 7th Street market. Also, politically, some big steps being taken to clean up the 7th Street market. The LA County Board of Supervisors told the health department, You either clean this place up immediately or shut it down. So now the health inspectors are there every morning. They have forced the owner of the market to put hot water and soap in the bathrooms. They‘ve been shutting down some of the vendors in the market for a whole slew of violations, including rodent violations. They‘ve really stepped up their presence there.
ABRAMS: How do you hear about something like this? Does somebody tip you off and say, You‘re not going to believe what‘s going on down there? There are rats and people with all sorts of nastiness on their hands touching the food, et cetera.
GROVER: Well, we didn‘t hear about the urinating at the market when we were first tipped off, but we were absolutely tipped off by some of the vendors, long-term vendors there, who are very concerned about the health conditions. They told me, I keep my business very clean, but a lot of the other businesses are filthy. There are rats everywhere. And their issue was that they had been complaining to the health department for years and nothing was done. They said the health department was looking the other way.
ABRAMS: Ugh! KNBC‘s Joel Grover. Thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
Coming up, a close friend of Anna Nicole says she knows who is the real daddy, that Anna told her. She‘ll join us live. Plus, today there were major court rulings in the case. We‘ll tell you about that.
But first, nothing says “Party!” like Al Gore. His global warming show is coming to a city near you. “Must See S.C.” is up next.
ABRAMS: Time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” video you must see. First up, the strange contents of Anna Nicole‘s fridge have raised important questions surrounding her death, but also some not so important ones, like, What does your fridge say about you?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here we go. We‘ve got some condiments, lots of milk for all the coffee we drink.
JON STEWART, “THE DAILY SHOW”: Yes! We drink lots of coffee at CNN. You got to work pretty long hours to come up with stuff like, Maybe we should look in our fridge. By the way, that‘s CNN‘s community refrigerator. The big stars all have their own. Obviously, they‘re not going to show you what‘s in Larry King‘s fridge—because it‘s Larry King!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: And finally, ever since the movie “An Inconvenient Truth” hit theaters, Al Gore has been a real movie star. And like so many movie stars who want to hang out with rock stars, now Gore may do the same to promote his earth-friendly agenda. Jimmy Kimmel gives us a sneak peak.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you ready for the wildest, most insane concert tour ever? Al Gore, Gorefest ‘07, with (INAUDIBLE) Megadeth (INAUDIBLE) (INAUDIBLE) Plus a monster truck death battle between Big Foot and Excalibur! All proceeds go to fight global warming. Al Gore‘s Gorefest ‘07. It‘s hard core!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Up next: One of Anna Nicole‘s closest friends says Anna told her who the real father of the baby is. She‘ll join us live up next with the answer.
And later: You know the way you hear about rich guys and beautiful women often coming together? Well, on this Valentine‘s Day, we get a look inside an admittedly superficial speed dating service that only caters to rich guys and beautiful women.
ABRAMS: Welcome back. I am Dan Abrams in for Joe Scarborough.
Tonight, court rulings and some disturbing new reports in the Anna Nicole Smith investigation. Entertainment Web site TMZ has obtained documents indicating Anna Nicole may have obtained methadone during her pregnancy. TMZ has also obtained documents reportedly written by her former nanny containing allegations of suicide attempts, sex romps, and a claim Anna Nicole dangerously underfed her baby because she wanted her baby to be, quote, “sexy.”
MSNBC‘s Rita Cosby is live in the Bahamas tonight, where Anna‘s, quote, “companion,” Howard K. Stern remains with Anna Nicole‘s baby, as the custody battle gets even uglier.
All right, Rita, what is the latest today?
RITA COSBY, HOST: Well, the latest, first, we also spoke to the babysitter. The comment that you made from TMZ.com, Dan, was from one of the nannies, who‘s sort of a part-time nanny. This is a babysitter who spent a lot of time, and she says the exact opposite.
She says she saw the baby—in fact, I talked with her briefly last night and talked with her family members today. She‘s actually with the baby, and she said the baby is healthy and the baby is happy. So she‘s saying the direct opposite and refuting that.
As far as what‘s happening, Dan, so much legal wrangling. It is incredible, my friend, and there‘s so much going on.
First of all, in Florida tomorrow, there will be a hearing in a court in Florida to determine who will get access to Anna Nicole Smith‘s body—remember, it remains there at the medical examiner‘s office there in Fort Lauderdale—and when that body can be released. We‘re told that attorneys from all sides will be there.
Attorneys representing Larry Birkhead, who says he is the real father of Anna Nicole Smith‘s baby. Also, Howard K. Stern, and also attorneys for Virgie Arthur, who is Anna Nicole Smith‘s mother. We‘re told that she, Virgie Arthur, will actually be in the courtroom tomorrow, and there‘s a possibility that Howard K. Stern could be there.
So, Dan, that could be the first time that they see each other face to face. It‘s a big dispute. Virgie Arthur wants to have that body, and she wants to have it buried in Texas, which is Anna Nicole‘s home state. Howard K. Stern wants to bring it back here to the Bahamas.
Meanwhile, also, there‘s a big fight here in the Bahamas over what‘s going to happen to the status of the baby. And Virgie Arthur did win a bit of a short-term victory today, where the court issued a temporary injunction, saying that the baby cannot leave the island, at least until there‘s a hearing on February 22nd. And that‘s when there will be a hearing over the issue of the status of the baby.
And at this point, it‘s unclear what‘s going to happen, but Bahamian officials say that they will look in it and they will try to keep an objective eye, is what they‘re saying. And she was worried that Howard K. Stern could try to whip the baby off the island and take it to an undisclosed location. In fact, when I spoke with her, she says she does not trust Howard K. Stern. She said she wouldn‘t trust a dog with him, let alone a child. This is what she told me about her feelings about Howard K. Stern.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VIRGIE ARTHUR, ANNA NICOLE SMITH‘S MOTHER: I am very angry with him, you know? Like I said, I still think that he has something to do with both my grandson‘s death...
COSBY: Even though he hasn‘t been charged with anything.
ARTHUR: Even though he hasn‘t been charged, it‘s a mother‘s intuition. And I know that that doesn‘t mean anything, but I‘m telling you that he had something to do with both my grandson‘s death, my daughter‘s death. Now I‘m scared to death for my granddaughter.
If Howard Stern loved her, he would have tried to get her off drugs instead of giving her the drugs. My grandson is dead, and my daughter is dead, and he was there both times.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: And, again, as we both know, Dan, that both countries, Bahamas and the United States, have questioned Howard K. Stern in both cases so far. And, again, at this point, he has not been charged. These are just her personal allegations. But you can tell she hates this man. And it will be interesting, as they do meet face-to-face tomorrow for the first time.
ABRAMS: Yes, she‘s got to be careful about what she‘s saying publicly about him. You know, a mother‘s intuition may be one thing; a lawsuit would be another.
Rita Cosby, thanks a lot. Appreciate it. A quick programming note:
Rita Cosby is in the Bahamas at 10:00 p.m. for a special report on Anna Nicole Smith, the investigation, day six.
The question remains: Who is the father of Anna Nicole‘s baby? One woman says she knows. Jackie Hatten, one of Anna Nicole‘s longtime friends, says Anna Nicole told her who the daddy is.
Jackie, thank you very much for coming on the program. We appreciate it.
All right, so who did she say the daddy is?
JACKIE HATTEN, ANNA NICOLE SMITH‘S FRIEND: Thank you for having me.
She told me Larry Birkhead was the father.
ABRAMS: Did she know for certain? I mean, was she saying, “I think, it‘s probably,” or was she saying, “I know for a fact it‘s him”?
HATTEN: She told me that it was Larry‘s.
ABRAMS: And, I mean, without getting too graphic here, she knew for certain that there was no other way it could be somebody else?
HATTEN: She told me that it was Larry‘s and that they were going out at the time. Obviously, the time frame matches. I mean, obviously it could be somebody else, possibly, because it only takes one time to have an affair in order to be impregnated. So with Anna Nicole, anything is possible.
However, the time frame, and that he is blonde-haired, blue-eyed, blonde-haired, green-eyed, that‘s the only type of person she ever said she wanted to procreate with. She has dated other people in the past of other ethnicities, but she had mentioned she wanted to have a baby that would match she and Daniel.
ABRAMS: You know, there are a lot of people who are now sort of coming out and talking about their relationships with Anna Nicole, saying how good friends they were, et cetera. Are you seeing a lot of people out there, speaking on behalf Anna Nicole, who you‘ve never heard of before?
HATTEN: No, I‘ve heard of the majority of the people. The only person I hadn‘t heard of was the prince. But, like I said, it takes one time in order to make somebody pregnant, so anything is possible.
Anna used to have a saying, “I‘m Anna Nicole, anything goes.” So, you
know, it could be. But the time frame and everything like that, it just
does match. And being that Larry looks so similar to her, you know, Anna -
she‘s popular because how beautiful she always was and how happy she always was. And that‘s the main thing. Larry looks almost identical. They could look like brother and sister. It‘s very similar.
And he also looks very much like my brother, who did go out with her and live with her for two years. And they were trying to have babies like the first day they met, literally in my bed.
ABRAMS: Sorry. Maybe I missed the last part of that. But you know what? That‘s OK.
HATTEN: They were in my bed. We were at my house. They shared my room.
ABRAMS: OK, OK. I think—no, I‘m not...
ABRAMS: ... generally got the picture.
This Howard K. Stern guy, do you know him?
HATTEN: I do know him, yes, unfortunately so.
ABRAMS: You don‘t like him, either.
HATTEN: He‘s just a shady character.
ABRAMS: But Anna...
HATTEN: He threatened her family not to call her ever again, that he‘d never let them see her again. And if they called the media, he would basically—they‘d be in trouble, they‘d be sorry.
I mean, when he walks with her, she can‘t even walk. People have to be on both sides because she‘s so drugged up. When she was with me or my brother or anybody else, she walks on her own, you know what I‘m saying? It‘s just obvious that he‘s been controlling her for far too long. And even now, he‘s controlling her estate, now after she‘s dead. I mean, what‘s next, he‘s going to sell her dead body if he gets a hold of it?
ABRAMS: Look, I mean, I‘ll be honest. I mean, I haven‘t been following the story that closely before all of this happened, but before this happened, they were in some sort of commitment ceremony, were they not?
ABRAMS: That suggests that she kind of liked the guy.
HATTEN: Doesn‘t it raise a red flag to anyone that she was sedated almost the entire time, until that like one day? If you offer Anna a party, no matter what‘s it for, she‘ll take it. She‘ll go and do that party, just because she wants to have fun.
Eight days after her only child passed, and then she‘s—well, not only child, her only son had passed—doesn‘t it raise a red flag to anyone that he‘s asking to do a commitment that she‘s not willing or not even ready to make? If she really loved him, she would have really married him. It wouldn‘t be a fake commitment ceremony, so that he could pull over the eyes of the world and act like he‘s the new husband.
And the other thing is, putting his name on the birth certificate with no DNA, it‘s like Danny‘s still sitting in the morgue, everyone, when he‘s doing these things, and selling the pictures for $650,000 of Danny and Dannielynn, and $450,000 for the fake wedding.
It‘s just all a cash ploy and to pull the wool over everyone‘s eyes, to act like he‘s so tight with her. If he could have married her, he would have. She wouldn‘t. She wouldn‘t.
ABRAMS: All right. Jackie Hatten, thanks a lot. Appreciate it. On behalf of Joe Scarborough, let me invite Howard K. Stern to come on the program to respond to any these allegations. I‘m sure Joe would be happy to talk to him on the program.
HATTEN: I also want to say one thing. Happy Valentine‘s Day to my friends up in Heaven, because they‘re never coming back. Thank you.
ABRAMS: Thank you. Thank you, Jackie.
More here to talk about some of the outlandish details in today‘s legal rulings in the Anna Nicole case is Susan Filan, MSNBC senior legal analyst, and “Star” magazine‘s deputy New York bureau chief David Caplan.
Susan, before we get to the legal stuff, David, there are so many sleazy, salacious details coming out in this case, so many things that, if a dead person could sue, that she would probably, you know, be suing right and left here. Is it that she really led that wild a life? Or is just that she surrounded herself by a lot of kind of wacky people?
DAVID CAPLAN, “STAR” MAGAZINE: I mean, it‘s both. She definitely was a wacky person herself. She was a train wreck. And, really, that‘s why so many people in celebrity and journalism really did follow her.
She was a soap opera. Almost everyday, a new story was emerging about Anna Nicole Smith. But you‘re right. She really surrounded herself, it seems, by enablers. A lot of people are pointing the finger, of course, at Howard K. Stern. Like, why was he letting her take morphine when she was pregnant, supposedly? And all of these other stories.
So she really didn‘t keep good company. And the people she kept close to her didn‘t seem to care that much about her well-being and health. So the combination of herself wanting to have, you know, a great time and the people around her encouraging her didn‘t bode well for her.
ABRAMS: Susan, the legal status. Where do we stand now?
SUSAN FILAN, FORMER CONNECTICUT PROSECUTOR: Well, a judge has to decide who gets her body. It‘s going to be a probate court tomorrow morning at 9:30 that‘s going to hear the parties who are fighting over her dead body. He‘s got to decide who her next of kin is.
Is it her estranged mother, who Howard Stern says she hated? Or is it Howard Stern, the guy that she supposedly married? But the marriage isn‘t valid. And that‘s a tough call for the court. What he‘s going to also have to look at is, what did her will say? Although her will isn‘t valid, because it was written before her son died and before her daughter was born, but it left him as the executor. And so it seems that her wish was, in some way, to have him take care of her, although that could be set aside, because...
ABRAMS: I‘m getting confused. Him is who? Who‘s him, Susan?
FILAN: Howard Stern. He‘s the executor. He‘s the lawyer. He‘s the lover. He‘s the husband. He‘s the executor. He‘s the beneficiary. He‘s the it guy, according to Anna‘s will, which I don‘t think is valid.
So a court‘s going to look at her intent. Where did she want her remains to be? One common sense thing would be with her son, but you know courts and common sense don‘t always meet.
ABRAMS: And we‘re talking about $400-something million at stake, right?
FILAN: You know, that‘s complicated, too, Dan, but we‘re either talking about half a billion dollars, $88 million, or $8 million. And, don‘t forget, that‘s all subject to being depleted if there are judgments against her estate from lawsuits that she‘s embroiled in. So I don‘t know how much money it is.
ABRAMS: Hey, it‘s a different thing sitting in the GM‘s office, telling people, “You should do the Anna Nicole case,” and then actually sitting here and having to talk about it.
Susan Filan, appreciate it. Thank you. David Caplan, stick around.
Up next, a new speed-dating craze that puts the super back in superficial. Only rich guys and hot women need apply.
And later in “Hollyweird,” why Tom Cruise apparently spends more on something in his bedroom than many people make in a year.
ABRAMS: It is Valentine‘s Day, and that should tell you something about why I was one of the only people available to fill in for Joe tonight. But for some lucky singles, that superficial someone is just a few dollars away. A new speed-dating service is hooking up rich men and beautiful women. “Today” show style editor Bobbi Thomas shows us this meeting of beauty and bank accounts.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sandy, hi. You look so rich.
BILLY CRYSTAL, ACTOR: She could be attractive with a good personality or not attractive with a good personality.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So which one is she?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But not beautiful, right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Which would you rather have, a rich guy or a poor one?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think I‘d rather marry a rich one.
BOBBI THOMAS, “TODAY” SHOW STYLE EDITOR (voice-over): It‘s long been the secret goal of many on the dating scene, and now a company called Pocket Change has made it official, hosting speed-dating events for beautiful women and rich men.
JEREMY ABELSON, POCKET CHANGE: Why wealthy men and beautiful women? The reason that we‘re doing this is because we really attempted to simplify dating.
THOMAS: The criteria for men? Guys who are 25 and under must make at least $200,000 a year. And men between the ages of 26 and 30, $300,000 a year. Older than 30? Well, the required income level then jumps to $500,000.
ABELSON: For the women, the application process is very simple: You need to be beautiful, end of story. You go to the Web site. You upload five pictures. Those five pictures are judged. If you make the cut, you are accepted.
THOMAS: And the participants felt the requirements were fair.
SHAWN VARDI, SPEED DATER: At first, you know, I was kind of hesitant. I thought it was a little maybe shallow. But, you know, then I started thinking about it, and then I was like, you know, it would be probably a great way to meet a really good-looking girl.
ANA MARIA NACVALOVAICE, SPEED DATER: Coming to an event like this allows me peace of mind that the people who are here tonight have been carefully screened.
THOMAS: In just two weeks, the company screened 950 applications, narrowing the field down to just 40 men and 40 women.
ABELSON: I think that the concept works because it is so simple. What do men want? They want beauty. What do women want? They prefer successful men.
JANIS SPINDEL, SERIOUS MATCHMAKING INC.: Guess what? This is New York. It‘s a very tough city, just like any other city with dating. It‘s very hard to meet the right person.
SAILA SMITH, SPEED DATER: The possibility of meeting a lot of wonderful, smart, successful men, that‘s always appealing.
THOMAS: We have three minutes with each of our dates to see if beauty and bank accounts matter.
(on screen): So what did you want to be when you grow up?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did I want to be?
THOMAS: Yes, did you have like—did you want to be an astronaut?
(voice-over): So does wealth and beauty equal love?
ABELSON: Do I think that there will be relationships after this?
SPINDEL: These people are coming to hopefully find a committed relationship that‘s going to eventually, down the road, lead towards marriage.
SMITH: And will I find my husband tonight? Who knows, you know?
ABRAMS: Wow. That was the “Today” show‘s Bobbi Thomas.
Up next, just when you thought that there were some institutions immune from the power of celebrity, think again. The “Sports Illustrated” swimsuit issue, that final bastion of journalistic purity, where nothing more than unadulterated beauty got you on the cover, has gone Hollywood. That‘s up next in our “Hollyweird” segment.
ABRAMS: It looks like Mr. Roger‘s trolley took us to the land of make believe. It‘s time for us to head to the land of “Hollyweird.”
First up, Beyonce. The singer and actress can now add “Sports Illustrated” issue cover girl to her resume. Here now, editor-at-large for “Life and Style Weekly,” Ashlan Gorse. And still with us is “Star” magazine‘s David Caplan.
Ashlan, I thought that “Sports Illustrated” was that final magazine that wasn‘t going to succumb to a Hollywood star on the cover.
ASHLAN GORSE, “LIFE AND STYLE WEEKLY”: We all did, Dan, but the problem is, everybody‘s jumping on the Beyonce train. You know, she‘s up for, you know, all these awards, her acting and her music, and now she can say she‘s a model. But you know what? Leave the modeling to the models. The other thing you have to thing of, she‘s actually hocking her own bikini on the cover. It‘s actually from her own line of swimwear, so she‘s just trying to take everything she can.
ABRAMS: Paris Hilton hopes you‘re not too tied up to attend her birthday party at the Hard Rock Hotel in Vegas in weekend. She released this photo with the invitation. Not too tied up. Get it? Funny.
All right, David, what‘s with the—this is really the invite?
CAPLAN: This is the invite. It‘s Paris Hilton‘s 26th birthday. Of course she‘s going to celebrate in Las Vegas. And how else would you dress up for a Paris Hilton invite? Bondage inspired. Classic Paris Hilton. And I can‘t wait to see what she does for her 27th birthday.
ABRAMS: All right. “New York Daily News” has dirty details on TomKat‘s bedroom. The paper‘s sources claim the couple just bought a $50,000 mattress. Ashlan, what does one get for $50,000 in a mattress?
GORSE: Well, you‘d hope for a lot, but this is just—it‘s actually made of horse-hair filled virgin steel. And it‘s supposed to be like the Cadillac, the Ferraris, Rolls-Royces of beds. But I just think a lot of sleeping is going to be done in that bed and probably not much more.
ABRAMS: You know, David, how do people find out about the $50,000? Did someone from like the mattress store call up, “You‘re not going to believe this; We finally got someone to buy the $50,000 mattress from the window”?
CAPLAN: I bet the mattress manufacturer in Sweden sought out Tom and Katie and were like, “Katie, for being married to Tom, you deserve a $50,000 mattress that has hand-teased horse-hair cotton and wool.”
ABRAMS: Sienna Miller tells “OK” magazine don‘t blame stars like Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears for partying, because it‘s healthy to party—Ashland?
GORSE: I love that. I mean, we need an excuse for everything. But, yes, Sienna said that staying up late, it was just what every other girl that‘s 19 or 20 is doing in the country. It‘s just that cameras are always following people like Britney and Lindsay. But I don‘t know. I don‘t think that a lot of, you know, women are going out and doing it.
ABRAMS: And, David, here‘s what I don‘t buy about that, is the fact that Lindsay Lohan apparently was having problems on the set because of her partying. Britney Spears has a kid. I mean, these are the wrong like party girls to be defending, isn‘t it?
CAPLAN: Yes, these are totally the wrong kids. Sienna herself actually is a bit of a partier. She‘s 25. She‘s acting like a big sister to these girls, and she herself was running around Sundance Film Festival lately with everyone from P-Diddy, and she‘s being linked to Hayden Christenson. So I don‘t know if she‘s the best big sister to give advice to these girls.
ABRAMS: Ashlan Gorse and David Caplan, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
That‘s all the time we have for tonight. Joe will hopefully be back here tomorrow with a real edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. But please stick around. There were major developments in the Anna Nicole Smith case today, and Rita Cosby is live in the Bahamas up next, with more exclusive interviews and information. Thanks for watching.
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