Guests: Howard Cooper, Michael Musto
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Who pressed for the Bush administration‘s illegal wiretappings of Americans? Who told the Department of Justice leaders they were wrong to object? Who precipitated the mass near-resignation at Justice?
This guy, Vice President Cheney. Thanks a lot, Dick.
And who is pressing to get our oldest friend back on his feet again? The Habeas Corpus Restoration Act passes the Senate Judiciary Committee, co-sponsors, Democrat Leahy, Republican Specter.
The war czar speaks. Confirmation hearings for Lieutenant General Douglas Lute, the guy who‘s supposed to run a war instead of General Petraeus or Defense Secretary Gates or that commander in chief guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. GEN. DOUGLAS LUTE: I am concerned about the capacity of this government, but I haven‘t passed final judgment on them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Just to be clear, Lute meant the Iraqi government, not the American one.
“Factor” fiction. Bill-O slammed by the court as a Massachusetts judge is awarded $2 million in damages for libel. A newspaper reporter went on with O‘Reilly claiming the judge told a teenage rape victim to, quote, “Get over it.” Bill-O targeted the judge. The judge got death threats. Only the judge never said anything of the kind, and Bill-O never apologized for his part in the slandering of an innocent man.
And our long national nightmare is over. After a nearly five-day stretch in the living hell of minimum security, Paris Hilton is sprung and gets house arrest, because she was evidently on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If her—she‘s a little bent out of shape psychologically, who cares? She‘s like 25,000 other inmates in the County of Los Angeles. Was that taken into account?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m sorry. The question—
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, Paris Hilton is free at last.
All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PARIS HILTON: I‘m going to do it the right way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
Vice President Cheney is not a lawyer, and, unlike Fred Thompson, now contemplating a run for the White House, nor has he ever played one on TV.
Yet despite that, in our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, Mr. Cheney saw fit to tell top lawyers at the Department of Justice that they were mistaken in their belief that the secret surveillance of Americans was illegal. It is what may be the clearest sign yet that the law has absolutely nothing to do with the Bush administration‘s—well, administration of justice.
The testimony of James Comey, the gift that keeps on giving. After running out of time at the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, the former deputy attorney general, having agreed to answer more of their questions in writing, Mr. Comey equally riveting on paper.
Exhibit A, his revelation that the vice president blocked the promotion of a senior lawyer at Justice, Patrick Philbin, because he had raised concerns, Philbin did, about the illegal wiretaps.
Exhibit B, his disclosure that Mr. Cheney‘s showdown with Justice came only one day before the Godfather-style light-night—late-night hospital visit to John Ashcroft by Alberto Gonzales, so that the then-White House counsel could force approval of the surveillance program out of a barely conscious man, in that too, Mr. Gonzales having proved ineffective.
More problems today for Mr. Gonzales. More confirmation that his Justice Department has been taking inappropriate political and ideological considerations into account in hiring Bush loyalists for jobs throughout the department, a new document dump by the Justice Department confirming a story broken by Murray Waas of the “National Journal” last month that Mr. Gonzales Mr. Gonzales had signed a highly confidential order in March 2006 granting two top aides, Monica Goodling and Kyle Sampson, quote, “extraordinary authority over the hiring and firing of most non-civil service employees of the Justice Department.”
The secret, it seems, is now out, in an e-mail, Ms. Goodling directing an official to draw up the order and “send it directly up to me outside the system.”
Time to turn to our own Howard Fineman, senior Washington correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine.
Howard, good evening.
HOWARD FINEMAN, SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, “NEWSWEEK” MAGAZINE:
Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Do these events not show the amazing power that an old Washington hand like Vice President Cheney has, especially when given basically carte blanche by the purported boss in the equation, the president?
FINEMAN: Well, I think the latest testimony kind of depends and colors in further a portrait that we‘ve already seen, which is that Dick Cheney was determined, by whatever means possible, whether the Justice Department approved them or not, to try to put in place the surveillance program and much else in his kind of dark (INAUDIBLE) -- in pursuit of his dark vision of how to fight terrorism.
And I must say, if you asked Dick Cheney right this minute if he had any apologies for any of moves he made, either out front or behind the scenes, the answer would be no. And this is just further proof of it, because it puts him in the room when Andy Card and Alberto Gonzales were deciding to go over to see poor old Ashcroft.
OLBERMANN: When it comes to the vice president‘s punishment of that Justice Department lawyer, this Patrick Philbin, denying him a promotion, what‘s maybe the most interesting part here is that Alberto Gonzales was not inclined to punish him, Philbin, that is, for speaking out. When Mr. Cheney stepped in, Gonzales, who was by then the attorney general, went along with his demands.
I mean, is there any sense left that the Gonzales Justice Department functioned in a manner autonomous from the White House?
FINEMAN: Well, I think they did, because they threatened mass resignation, including also the FBI director, Mueller, they all threatened to resign if certain changes weren‘t made in the program that Cheney was trying to ram through by sending those people over to talk to Ashcroft.
That‘s what it took to remain—to maintain a measure of independence at the Justice Department. Of course, it wasn‘t the attorney general who was threatening to resign, it was everybody else around him.
Changes were made. We still to this day don‘t know what they are, Keith, because that‘s classified. But I think they were able to get some measure of independence, but only by threatening to quit.
OLBERMANN: And then they got Alberto Gonzales sent over as the attorney general after that, so the sequence of it is even more stark.
OLBERMANN: The reaction to this, Senator Schumer, who‘s leading this investigation, reacted to the revelation thusly. “Mr. Comey has confirmed what we have suspected for a while, that White House hands guided Justice Department business. The vice president‘s fingerprints are all over the effort to strong-arm Justice on the NSA program, and the obvious next question is, exactly what role did the president play?”
Does it matter, Howard, (INAUDIBLE) what role the president played, particularly the (INAUDIBLE) whether or not it got to him? I mean, is it not enough that it went to the vice president? I mean, it‘s still the president‘s White House, at least on paper, it‘s still his administration.
FINEMAN: Well, I think there‘s at least an academic interest, Keith.
But to be serious about it, I think the president was in on it completely. And I think the role I—my understanding, from talking to Hill investigators today, is that they think—now, this is their surmise here, based on some testimony—that the president‘s role in all of this, in this particular sequence of events, was that he was the guy who called Mrs. Ashcroft.
He called her, called Mrs. Ashcroft, and said, By the way, I‘m thinking of sending Andy Card and Alberto Gonzales over. So he was sort of playing the diplomatic role, the sort of family hand-holder role. That may be the role they delegated to him.
And it‘s understandable, because you wouldn‘t want Dick Cheney calling Mrs. Ashcroft.
OLBERMANN: Yes, yes. That‘s (INAUDIBLE), she‘s already in enough crisis moment at that point.
One other thing, as it, as this, as this now touches, expands from the vice president to, to his former chief of staff, the, the top Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee now are asking the vice president to recuse himself from any pardon deliberations concerning Scooter Libby.
Considering that, that Mr. Cheney did not recuse himself from matters of the law when he‘s not a lawyer, how likely is it that he will make some sort of -- I mean, he‘s already obviously stepped aside from Scooter Libby in terms of defending him, but would he actually just make some sort of pretense of recusing himself from the actual pardon process?
FINEMAN: I doubt it. He may say something, but I doubt that. And whatever he says, he‘s not going to leave it alone. I‘m sure he‘s talked to the president. I‘m sure he would again. I‘m sure the president knows what he thinks. Look, Dick Cheney doesn‘t need any badges, you know, just like in “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.” He‘s—he just doesn‘t. He‘s going to do what he‘s going to do behind the scenes. He‘s always done it. The president hasn‘t always listened. But Cheney‘s a free actor back there, and he remains so.
OLBERMANN: We don‘t need to show you no stinkin‘ badges.
Howard Fineman of “Newsweek” and MSNBC, and soon to appear in the remake of “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.” Great thanks for your time, Howard.
FINEMAN: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: In the Senate today, construction began on a historic restoration project, reconstruction of one of the cornerstones of American democracy. Last year, just before the midterms, the president and the Republican Congress rushed through the Military Commissions Act, establishing military tribunals for accused terrorist detainees and stripping away a fundamental right enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, habeas corpus, the right of anyone in custody, no matter who, no matter what they were (INAUDIBLE) accused of, to challenge their detention in court, the right not to just disappear into a hole forever simply because the government wants you to.
On Monday, two military judges at Gitmo ruled that the tribunals are themselves not legal venues for trying any of the Guantanamo Bay detainees. And this morning, 11 U.S. senators sitting on the Judiciary Committee voted in favor of the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2007, 10 of them Democrats, including chairman Pat Leahy, joined by the committee‘s ranking Republican, Arlen Specter.
In a stunning political move, an American presidential candidate, Sam Brownback of Kansas, actually joined seven other Republican senators in voting against habeas corpus.
Senate leader Harry Reid has indicated the bill will go before the full Senate, which could happen at any time, resulting in the breathtaking spectacle of watching 21st century lawmakers actually debate whether Congress should restore to U.S. law one of the most important principles upon which this country was founded, a basic underpinning of virtually every right enumerated in the Constitution of 1787.
Let‘s turn to constitutional law scholar Jonathan Turley, professor of law at George Washington University.
Jon, thanks for your time again tonight.
JONATHAN TURLEY, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW EXPERT, GEORGE WASHINGTON
UNIVERSITY: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Supporters of this act, the Military Commissions Act, the MCA, point out that other administrations have suspended habeas corpus without destroying the Republic. Is this time different? And if so, how? And why is that pretty much a sophistry argument there?
TURLEY: Well, it‘s hardly a convincing case, the, if they have the collapse of the Republic. It says more about the Republic than the actions of the earlier presidents.
This is a system of government that was designed to be idiot-proof, and God knows we‘ve tested that through the years. But it was actually designed for multiple idiots. I, and it means that we can go a certain period of time with the denial of rights, and we have tended to correct that. And it looks like we‘re about to do that now.
This was one of the most disgraceful moments of the last Congress, and it will be equally disgraceful to see many Republicans vote, I, to fight the effort to bring back the Great Writ.
OLBERMANN: Yes, there were some people who voted against the repeal of the Alien and Sedition Acts (INAUDIBLE) that started the 19th century too. But, and it is easy to imagine Americans who are patriotic but scared, who could just sort of dismiss habeas corpus and other civil liberties as luxuries that make us weak right now. Explain why that‘s exactly backwards, why they‘re not luxuries, why they‘re necessities that make us strong.
TURLEY: Well, first of all, habeas corpus is sometimes treated like some trick by a Philadelphia lawyer. It‘s—it is actually the foundation for all other rights. When the president—when the government throws you into a dungeon for what you say or who you pray to, it‘s habeas corpus that‘s the right that allows you to see the enforcement of the other rights.
So without habeas corpus, the rest of it is just aspirational and meaningless.
Now, the danger, when you walk away from these values, these rights that define us, has been proven by this president. I think the (INAUDIBLE) greater—greatest irony of the Bush administration is that his legacy will be to show the dangers of walking away from those rights that define us.
We‘re very much alone today. He can‘t go to Canada without people protesting. Miss America can‘t even go to Mexico without being booed. We‘re viewed as a rogue nation. And it is a dangerous world to live in when you‘re alone. And in Italy, they‘re prosecuting in absentia our own agents.
This doesn‘t make us safer. And so I think that it‘s very interesting that the lesson that this president may leave for his successors is that whether you are inclined to walk away from those core rights or not, that is what puts us in the greatest danger.
OLBERMANN: The right to bear arms, to believe your religion, or to not believe any religion at all, to say what you want, these rights get people fired up no matter what side of a debate they‘re on. Is not habeas corpus essential to all of them? If you don‘t have that, doesn‘t matter what the Second Amendment says?
TURLEY: That‘s right. Actually, habeas corpus, you—those—all those rights are meaningless, because it‘s habeas corpus that allows you to get to a court who can hear your complaint. And so without habeas corpus, it‘s just basically words that have no meaning.
And this president has shown the dangers of the assertion of absolute power. He has asserted the right to take an American citizen, declare them unilaterally be an enemy combatant, and deny them all rights. The courts have said otherwise, and now Congress will say otherwise.
OLBERMANN: And when it‘s not an American citizen, and you‘re dragged off on the charge that you‘re not an American citizen and you‘re an enemy combatant, and you actually are an American citizen, of course, it is habeas corpus that allows you to go to a judge and say, Look, I have my papers.
TURLEY: This will restore for both American citizens and non-American citizens.
OLBERMANN: Jonathan Turley, law professor at George Washington University. As always, sir, great thanks.
TURLEY: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Confirming a czar. He‘s the guy who didn‘t turn down President Bush. Now the Senate will decide whether or not they‘re going to turn down General Lute.
And Bill O‘Reilly‘s loose relationship with the truth gets him in a whole heap of trouble. He goes after a judge for something the judge never says. Now the judge has won a libel suit.
Plus, there is breaking news that might send Paris Hilton back to jail.
You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: As milestones go, they‘re not the kind that evince much progress in Iraq. Another day of killings and car bombings, another American soldier dies, the death toll now over 3,500. Another poll out today confirming that seven out of 10 Americans are dissatisfied with the war.
And, in the fourth story on the COUNTDOWN, confirmation hearings for yet another war adviser for the president. This time, it‘s his own personal czar, General Douglas Lute already having confirmed in a letter to the Armed Services Committee that he did indeed have his doubts about the effectiveness of the president‘s surge plan before it was announced.
Asked why the president needs a war czar on top of a national security adviser, a defense secretary, a secretary of state, and a chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Lute said would cut through the bureaucracy to advise the president daily, kind of 24/7 customer support for the commander in chief, and as for the different that 21,000 more combat troops have made on the ground, the general calling early surge results mixed, conditions in Iraq constantly changing, and help from the Iraqis uneven but necessary if the plan is ever to succeed, Lute also questioning whether the present Iraqi government has the capacity to take control of the situation, and questioned about the possibility that American troops might be there permanently.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LUTE: Senator, the—it‘s U.S. policy, as you know, that we don‘t seek this. And we also have no desire for control of resources. These are two things that have been discussed with the Iraqi government. And I believe the position there is very clear. We simply don‘t seek long-term bases.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Let‘s call in MSNBC political analyst, “Congressional Quarterly”‘s Craig Crawford, whose latest book is “The Politics of Life.”
Craig, good evening.
CRAIG CRAWFORD, “CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY”: Hi, the reluctant czar, to say the least.
OLBERMANN: I guess. What, what does the Senate make of this job and of him, of the chiefs of this war seemingly now outnumbering the soldiers?
CRAWFORD: I think he seems OK. They don‘t make much of the job, though, Keith. It‘s mostly Democrats questioning. And, you know, what I hear from Democrats is, they‘re not going to pick a fight over this confirmation. They‘ll probably vote to confirm him next week. They just don‘t think much of this whole idea of creating this position in the White House staff. It‘s sort of like just adding a chair to the “Titanic.”
And I think also, the, you know, it‘s sort of a technicality they‘re even confirming him. He‘s going into a White House staff job that‘s usually not confirmed. The only reason it is, is because of his military rank and the change in status there, the Senate gets involved.
OLBERMANN: Could the Republicans make a, make a stink here? Is he, is he going to be confirmed by them, or could this be that no-risk moment where the conservatives make their break with the president official, rather than just whispered, and actually reject him just to say, you know, Sorry, Mr. President?
CRAWFORD: I think that‘s coming, but probably not over this, mainly because of the way the Republicans handled this hearing today. Not very many actually showed up, and those that did said (INAUDIBLE) offered words of praise and support. So I think that‘s coming, but probably on another battleground.
OLBERMANN: The general said he would give the president his honest assessment of conditions in Iraq. And with everything that everybody says all the time, there is some way to turn that around. If you turn that around, does it not cast some doubt on the advisers and the advice the president has already been getting?
CRAWFORD: Well, that‘s the palace intrigue on this, is whether it‘s real or just perceptions, in trying to show that a very candid man who had doubts about the surge now goes into the White House inner circle, whether that is intended to just demonstrate or just put on a show that the president‘s going to hear some other voices, and in particular, the Lute, the influence of Vice President Cheney, national security adviser Stephen Hadley. And that‘s what the skeptics generally think is that this is all just for show.
That‘s what czar jobs usually are in Washington. Make something look better than it is, sort of like the old retail joke, Turn on the blue light, he wants a blue suit.
OLBERMANN: And the, the, the other voices idea, the general was asked about whether criticizing the war is bad for the morale of the troops, and said, he said he didn‘t think so. Is that some sort of uncommon common sense there, or was he trying to butter up the Democrats? Or what was the point of that answer?
CRAWFORD: I think he was trying to butter up the Democrats. He was trying not to pick any fights with them. But I hear that from military people a lot, you know, that they don‘t, they don‘t see that as hurting the morale of troops. In fact, a lot of military people see that as the very thing they‘re fighting for, and previous military (INAUDIBLE), Joint Chiefs chairman and the defense secretary both allowed that probably doesn‘t hurt morale.
OLBERMANN: Craig Crawford of MSNBC and “Congressional Quarterly” and the new book, “The Politics of Life.” Craig, great thanks.
CRAWFORD: Good to talk to you.
OLBERMANN: Bob Barker has MC‘d his last game of high-low and chased his last model around the “Price Is Right” studio.
And tonight, tonight, Paris is liberated. Not exactly like World War II, but it‘s news. And the prosecutor is now trying to send her back.
That and more, ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: June 7, a not unimportant date in American history, even though we don‘t celebrate it as a holiday. It was on June 7, 1776, that Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee rose in the Continental Congress, made a little proposal, that the Colonies declare their independence from Great Britain. Eighty-eight years to the day later, despite serious debate over whether they could possibly win again with him as their candidate, the Republican Party renominated Abraham Lincoln for a second term as president.
Let‘s play Oddball.
We begin in Germany, home of the temporary world capital of international diplomacy and water sports that is the big annual G-8 summit, while the most powerful leaders in the world met behind closed doors, the protesters finding new ways to beat the heat this year, nothing like a trip to the beach while wearing a big giant Mardi Gras head of your least-favorite president or prime minister.
Here we see some young folks outside the summit itself, cooling off after a long day‘s protest in the summer sun. And doesn‘t that look refreshing? But in the end, a good soak with a water cannon just does not compete with a wild boat ride. Those are Greenpeace (INAUDIBLE) protesters in the little boats, and they‘re having a bit of fun with a German patrol vessel in the offshore security zone near the big summit. I think the big boat‘s going to catch him. Marco Polo, look out.
Well, right there is why it‘s always important to wear a life jacket while pleasure boating. You never know when a larger military craft is going to ram you. Well, it‘s all in good fun, fun, fun, in the sun, sun, sun at the Group of Eight.
He helped destroy a man‘s health, career, nearly his life by perpetuating a gross, false accusation. So why isn‘t Bill-O being held legally responsible for what happened to Massachusetts Judge Ernest Murphy?
And Paris wriggles out of the pokey after only three days inside. Is she about to be squeezed back in? We‘ll leave the punchline to Michael Musto ahead.
Now, here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers of this day.
Number three, Lionel Dube, Jr., of Argyle, Maine, accused by police in nearby Howland of standing on a street corner and threatening passing motorists with a chainsaw. The (INAUDIBLE) “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” revving of the machine was bad enough, but by the top—time the cops came for Mr. Dube, they say the chain had broken off the saw, giving him a rather foolish appearance.
Number two, Jayna Hutchinson, charges against her of harassment and cruelty to a police animal have been dismissed in Chelsea, Vermont. She was accused of staring at a police dog, pressing her face against the cop car window, and making faces at the dog, quote, “in a taunting-slash-harassing manner.”
And number one, Mayor Donald E. Stephens of Rosemont, Illinois, who just made an unexpected appearance in town near a health club, unexpected because the mayor died in April. Residents say his likeness has miraculously appeared in the bark of a tree he twice saved from being cut down. That would be on the right of your screen. In fact, one woman was seen praying to the tree. Of course, she was real confused. She didn‘t know it was Donald E. Stephens. She thought it was Jesus H. Christ.
OLBERMANN: Tell her to get over it. Six words about a 14 year old rape victim attributed to a superior court judge by a Boston newspaper, then broadcast nationwide with righteous anger and calls of termination by Bill O‘Reilly. The outcry cost the judge his health and his career and put his life in danger, even though he never actually said anything of the sort. Our third story on the COUNTDOWN, the paper has been held responsible for libel.
So why isn‘t Bill-O likewise liable? Superior Court Judge Earnest Murphy (ph) won a two million dollar libel suit upheld now by the Massachusetts Supreme Court against the “Boston Herald,” and its reporter Dave Wedge, who not only falsely quoted the judge, but then served as stooge for Bill-O‘s on-air crusade.
In the words of the court ruling, quote, “the press is not free to publish false information about anyone, intending that it will cause a public furor, while knowingly, or in reckless disregard of, its falsity.”
A law was not only ignored by Mr. Wedge, but was also ignored and continues to be ignored by Bill O‘Reilly. Hence the reason why Mr. Wedge‘s appearance on The Factor in March 2002 actually became evidence at the trial.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Are you absolutely sure that Judge Murphy said that the rape victim should get over it?
DAVE WEDGE, “BOSTON HERALD”: Yes. He said—he made this comment to three lawyers. He knows he said it. Everybody else that knows this judge knows that he said it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Such an exchange prompting the Supreme Court to write that, quote, Wedge‘s comments on the O‘Reilly Factor were made with actual malice.
Joining me now, judge Murphy‘s trial counsel, Howard Cooper. Mr.
Cooper, thanks for your time.
HOWARD COOPER, TRIAL COUNSEL FOR JUDGE MURPHY: Good evening.
OLBERMANN: How important was Mr. Wedge‘s appearance on O‘Reilly‘s show to the success of your libel case?
COOPER: I actually think it was critically important and critically important to the jury. The story which was originally published in mid February of 2002 really was a local or at most a regional story about a judge‘s alleged intemperate and indeed, as portrayed, outrageous comments. When Mr. O‘Reilly go ahold of it, about two weeks after the initial publication, it really created not just a national furor, but really an international furor.
The judge received hate mail from overseas, from California. Mr.
O‘Reilly really picked up the ball and ran with it quite a bit.
OLBERMANN: Does Mr. O‘Reilly bear at least as much responsibility as Mr. Wedge, at least for those death threats? And to the degree that he‘s responsible for anything that happened to the judge, why was there no action pursued against him?
COOPER: Well, the original publication was by the “Boston Herald” and David Wedge, and as I‘m sure you‘re aware, the standard for bringing a public figure defamation claim is quite high. I think it‘s fair to say that the jury found Mr. O‘Reilly was responsible for republishing the statement and creating a situation which caused enormous damage to Judge Murphy. But again, that was attributable to the original publication by the “Boston Herald” and David Wedge.
When asked why wasn‘t he named as a party in the lawsuit, a decision really was made on a practical basis. You have someone who we thought would have welcomed the opportunity to continue to use his regular appearances before a national television audience to excoriate the judge and we didn‘t want to give him that opportunity. Yet, his television shows were a major presence in the courtroom.
OLBERMANN: A couple of quick factual questions, did O‘Reilly ever apologize to the judge?
COOPER: He has never apologized. He has never taken his reporting back. There is a very prominent lawyer up here in Boston by the name of Ed Ryan, who runs a committee for the Mass BAR Association designed to help judges protect themselves, because, after all, judges really can‘t respond publicly about pending cases. After the jury came back, Mr. Ryan made a personal demand on the O‘Reilly Factor that they correct the reporting and that he allowed to go on and assist in that effort.
He never heard from them. More recently, in May of this year, when the Supreme judicial court unanimously affirmed the jury verdict, which by that time was about 3.4 million dollars, with interest, Mr. Ryan again reached out to the “O‘Reilly Facto,” in writing, through email, and said I really want you to correct the story and I‘m prepared to go on and help you do that.
I spoke with Mr. Ryan this afternoon. He confirms that he still is waiting to hear from the “O‘Reilly Factor.” And it‘s a shame, because an apology is in order here.
OLBERMANN: With the increasing threats of violence against judges in general, is there not—maybe it‘s not a legal case, maybe it‘s not a private suite, but the crusade against a judge for saying something controversial that he never said, doesn‘t that rise to a more deplorable crime than just libel? Doesn‘t it border on reckless endangerment?
COOPER: Well, let me say this: these stories, these campaigns have real consequences for real people. Judge Murphy experienced having death threats slipped under the door of his judicial chambers, where he was by himself, without protection. Somebody took the front page of the “Boston Herald,” drew a target on his forehead in red ink, and said get over it, you bastard, you‘re dead. And someone really needs to think through the accuracy of their reporting before launching one of these campaigns.
OLBERMANN: Well, you‘re not obviously going to get that from Bill O‘Reilly. So, on behalf of the television industry, you can please send the judge my apologies. I think that‘s not going to do him much good, but it‘s the best we can do under the circumstances?
COOPER: It‘s a good start.
OLBERMANN: Howard Cooper, the trial counsel for Judge Earnest Murphy, thanks for joining us tonight.
COOPER: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Bob Barker waking up this morning for the first time since 1972 without facing the prospect of a Showcase Showdown. Speaking of showdowns, breaking news, if you can believe this, about Paris Hilton. Now it‘s gone the other way. She has left the big house and is enjoying house arrest. The L.A. county attorney tonight says he wants to send her back to prison and is going to court to try to make it happen.
That‘s next, but first here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three sound bites of this day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONTESSA BREWER, MSNBC ANCHOR: Is it fair that Paris Hilton is under house arrest?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Contessa, I think we should rejoice with our sister, Paris, who has been released from prison. And we should not be caddy, but should rejoice with her.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That‘s 93-year-old Mickey Warner on the left, and 85-year-old Paul Rodder on the right. Don‘t let the handshake fool you, when the first batter steps up, the pitcher‘s duel is on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You do it a little like this. You stretch a little bit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I enjoy myself to play ball, just to play ball and the camaraderie with the guys is wonderful. We have a great time together, win or lose. We love to win. They‘d love to win.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of noise going on behind there, so I‘m speaking very loudly. What‘s it looking like?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, as you can tell, it‘s a bit hard to work in these conditions, but we have to make due with what we have. The atmosphere here has been fantastic over the last hour. I don‘t think I‘ve had an experience like this in my whole life. Covering matches in the World Cup champions league, many different leagues.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Manchester.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: When we look at today‘s reality TV shows, of course the sex, superficiality, it makes us hearken back to a simpler time, when reality shows were just called game shows, and they showcased a more basic aspect of human nature, good old fashioned love of money. Our number two story tonight, a mainstay of the genre, the second longest running game show in history, is losing the man who has hosted it since 1972, Bob Barker retiring at the age of 83. George Lewis was a witness as the final chips were dropped down the Plinko board that is Mr. Barker‘s stewardship of an American institution..
GEORGE LEWIS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bob Barker has been hosting “The Price Is Right” for 35 years.
BOB BARKER, “THE PRICE IS RIGHT”: Actual retail price of that motor scooter—
LEWIS: Three thousand, five hundred eighty six show. The producers figure that, adjusted for inflation, Barker has given away 800 million dollars in prizes, but he says he‘s in debt to his fans.
BARKER: I owe them everything, really. Because if they had decided I don‘t like Bob Barker, I wouldn‘t be here.
LEWIS: And as he got ready to tape his final show Wednesday afternoon, those fans went bonkers. Face it, this guy is an octaganarian (ph) rock star.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m 24 years old, and since I can remember, I have been watching the show. Bob is like a part of everybody‘s life.
LEWIS: Phil Barrett (ph) and his wife Tiffany from Tampa started camping out Saturday to be the first in line for the taping? A little nutty perhaps?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it‘s nutty if you didn‘t show up early for this historic occasion.
LEWIS: Others in that long line said Bob Barker made it historic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think because he puts on a healthy family program that anyone can enjoy.
LEWIS: After Barker mixed it up with Adam Sandler in the 1996 movie “Happy Gilmore,” he gained a whole new following among younger fans.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody‘s going to miss him. He‘s Bob!
LEWIS: And he got teary eyed talking about missing his co-workers.
BARKER: A fellow I had known for years, he came in to my dressing room, put his arms around me and—I can‘t talk about it, sorry. Said good-bye. It was tough.
LEWIS: Bob Barker‘s final appearance will air a week from Friday.
George Louis, NBC News, Hollywood.
OLBERMANN: And who was Bob Barker‘s predecessor when Bob was still doing “Truth Or Consequences?” Just a tip of the hat to the late great Bill Cullen (ph).
Moving right along now from the professor emeritus of quiz shows to our nightly roundup of celebrity news, Keeping Tabs. I‘ll take Britney Spears for 30 dollars. There may be more that meets the eye between Britney and a wealthy developer who‘s acting as her drug counselor. A source telling “The National Enquirer” that John Sundall (ph) first met with Britney to discuss a 12-step program, but quickly moved to the 13th step, making out by the swimming pool.
John‘s smitten with Britney, the source says, quote, I‘ve never seen him act so ridiculous with a ridiculous girl like that. Actually, I added an extra ridiculous to that quote.
Anyway, Britney‘s mother is said to be thrilled with the romance, which Sundall is absolutely denying, and which is at least the fifth reported since she got out of dry out.
It likes the rapper A-Con does not have his head on correctly. Why else would he throw a fan. At a concert in Fishkille, New York Sunday, and unidentified teen had tossed something on the stage, so A-Con enlisted the help of a security guard to get the boy, and you saw what happened next. The teen was reportedly uninjured but landed on a woman who is now claiming head injuries and has hired a lawyer.
A-Con got into himself into trouble earlier this year when he simulated sex on stage with a 14 year old girl. He said he didn‘t know she was underage. So just flinging a kid into the crowd, that‘s an improvement.
And Paris Hilton is under house arrest for now. As soon as she thinks she‘s out, they try to pull her back in. The escape from the big house and the possible return there to as analyzed by Michael Musto next.
But first time for COUNTDOWN‘s latest list of nominees for Worst Person in the World. The bronze to the Kissimmee, Florida police department, being sued my Maria Caraskiol (ph). Two years ago Miss Caraskiol went to police headquarters there so she could be voluntarily fingerprinted for her application for a job as a licensed practical nurse.
The Kissimmee police, she says, arrested her. There was a New York warrant outstanding for another woman with the same name. It was nine days before anybody realized she was not the fugitive, which is especially infuriating considering they had just finger printed her at her own request.
Runner up, Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. He went to Iraq two weeks ago and met with some front-line troops and asked them to speak to him from their hearts. Afterwards, two of the soldiers told a reporter they were afraid to speak to him from their hearts. They were afraid they would get demoted. One said he had wanted to ask the senator when are we going to get out of here. The said he had wanted to advice the senator, we are waiting to get blown up.
Today, Senator Lieberman reacted to the story about the comments, “I was really upset about it,” he said. “I sat at a table with a bunch of our soldiers there. And I was asking them to speak to me from their heart.”
Yes, that Iraq war is really tough on you, isn‘t it senator?
But the winner is Bill-O. Anybody who‘s wondering who‘s really speaking when one of those anonymous Fox Noise spokesmen issued a hypocritical statement that ends with “we wish them well,” Billy just gave it away. On Cindy Sheehan‘s retirement from the anti-war limelight, Bill O‘Reilly actually said, quote, I don‘t like to see any Americans suffer the way I think Miss Sheehan has suffered, from losing her son to being personally attacked. And we wish her well.
In August of 2005, O‘Reilly said she was guilty of conduct, which, quote, other American families who have lost sons and daughters in Iraq think borders on treasonous. Two months later, he issued a Fatwah, a list of cowards who would not appear on his show, and among them was Cindy Sheehan. But he doesn‘t want to see her personally attacked.
Maybe he just forgot he called her a coward or a traitor. I mean, if you or I were as full of crap as Bill is, would we really remember each time we messed our pants? Bill O‘Reilly, today‘s Worst Person in the World.
OLBERMANN: Breaking news in the Paris Hilton pokey drama. The Los Angeles city attorney, Rocky Delgadillo (ph), has filed a motion asking the judge who originally sentenced Paris Hilton to have her returned to jail to serve out her full sentence and to hold a hearing on whether the Sheriff‘s Department should be held in contempt of court for, quote, violating Judge Michael Sower‘s (ph) May 4th, 2007 order, which expressly stated no electronic monitoring.
Judge Sower has granted the request for a hearing, which is now scheduled 9:00 a.m. local prevailing time tomorrow in Los Angeles. Ms. Hilton has been ordered to appear. And thus it continues. Our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, just when she thought she was out, they might put her back in.
Hilton released from the Century Regional Detention Facility shortly after midnight, according to L.A. County‘s sheriff‘s spokesman Steve Whitmore. She was fitted with an ankle bracelet and reassigned to home confinement and electronic monitoring, with a radius of movement between 3,000 and 4,000 feet.
The prime reason cited, an unspecified medical condition. According to TMZ.com, it was not a rash. It was purely psychological. Hilton‘s psychiatrist had visited her two days in a row, and reported to the sheriff that here mental state was fragile, on the verge of a nervous break down. The sheriff‘s spokesman not addressing that, metaphorically sticking to the script.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE WHITMORE, L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF‘S DEPT.: Because she has agreed to this, through her attorney, her sentence is back up to 45 days. She has served already five days, so that is 40 days. She will now be under the supervision of the L.A. County Probation Department.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And since Miss Hilton is reportedly inviting friends over to her home tonight for a little what might be combination get together and farewell party, they might as well call it house mix arrest.
We‘ll turn to “Village Voice” columnist Michael Musto, who joined us many days ago for Paris Hilton‘s first day in jail, three days ago. Michael, good evening.
MICHAEL MUSTO, “THE VILLAGE VOICE”: Hi Keith.
OLBERMANN: So, jail wise, first she is in, then she is out. Now she might be in again. This must sound awfully familiar.
MUSTO: I like the idea of her being out, because we love Paris to be above the law, to be a pampered princess that we hate. I don‘t need her being the object of sympathy. Keep her at home.
OLBERMANN: It was “Entertainment Tonight Online” that said that her medical condition was an extreme rash. They were citing sources close to the family. TMZ.com insisted it‘s psychological. So what do we know, was it a rash or was she behaving rashly and near a nervous break down?
MUSTO: Well, she‘s a walking petri dish. It could be anything. It could be genital herpes that spread to her brain. Oh no, that is her brain. No, I actually hear that they traumatized her in jail by coming at her with a hot dog. It wasn‘t the shape, it was just that it was food.
OLBERMANN: Even if this was some sort of nervous condition, couldn‘t they have treated her, taken her to the psyche ward, had the psychologist come in every day? She gets to go home because she wasn‘t happy?
MUSTO: Wherever she is is the psych ward, Keith. But yes, it‘s absurd. Oh, you are unhappy? OK, we‘ll bust you out of here. Anybody else unhappy in here, you‘re going home. It‘s ridiculous. They should have busted her out the traditional way. You give her a cake with a saw in it.
OLBERMANN: The president of the L.A. Sheriff‘s Union says this was obviously a case of preferential treatment. I mean, I know nobody else would think that, but other L.A. officials complaining as well. Obviously, the city attorney is going to try to do something about it, but what about the inmates she left behind? Any chance there‘s going to be a prison riot after this?
MUSTO: Riot? It is the biggest party since the bicentennial. We finally got rid of that pampered bitch. Five whole days of that horror. There is also cheering in the Phil Specter court room, because he just realized even if he is convicted of murder, he will just have to spend three weeks in his mansion. He was going to do that anyway.
OLBERMANN: One of the reports around here, this house arrest involves no provisions about visitors are about alcohol use. Is there anything that Paris Hilton could not do in her Hollywood Hills home if she is there for the next 40 days over the next 40 days?
MUSTO: Yes, the only thing she can‘t do is change her ankle bracelet even if it doesn‘t match her outfit. Otherwise, anything goes. She has truly gone from the big house to a big house. Keith, I have been to her house. I have interviewed her there in west Hollywood. It is fabulous. There are pools. There‘s lots of pink. There is a picture of her with Nancy Reagan, the woman who said just say no, which is ironic, because the only Paris can‘t do in that damned house is say no.
OLBERMANN: Her lawyer had said she was going to use that time in jail to reflect on her life and, quote, see what she can do to make the world better. So she had three grueling days to do that. What ideas did she come up with do you suppose?
MUSTO: Well, they are saying five days. Let‘s say four days. I think she reflected in a mirror actually. But the ideas she came up with were that to save the world she‘s going to stop with her TV show, her over exposure, her merchandising, and then she thought, no, I like the money.
OLBERMANN: Serious question to wrap it up with, Michael. Strategically, self-promotionally, in terms of future public acceptance, could this be the worst thing that would happen to Paris Hilton? Wasn‘t she gaining grudging sympathy with every hour spent in jail.
MUSTO: Absolutely not. As I said before, we need her to be out, because Paris is only valid as a celebrity if she is pampered, acting above the law and we can slime her down to our level. By the way, I went to an Ivy League school, so I know this kind of thing.
OLBERMANN: Well, that hasn‘t help me at all. So there you.
MUSTO: Look for her book, the Shaw-Skank Redemption.
OLBERMANN: 9:00 a.m. hearing tomorrow to find out if this was her only day out or if she is going back in. The one and only Michael Musto, great thanks Michael.
MUSTO: Thanks Keith.
OLBERMANN: That is COUNTDOWN for this the 1,499th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. From New York, I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
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