Guests: John Ridley, Stan Goldman, Pat Buchanan, Arianna Huffington, Mike Evans, Chuck Nice, Courtney Hazlett
DAN ABRAMS, GUEST HOST: Coming up, I‘m going to tell you why Paris Hilton ought to be released from jail tonight. This weekend, she spoke out for the first time.
But first, tonight‘s real deal, the other winners and losers of the day, your news scorecard. Our first winner, President Bush. Instead of facing flying stones from protesters at the G-8 summit in Germany, he got more the Rolling Stones treatment in Albania Sunday. Thousands donned Uncle Sam hats, cheered and chanted, Bushie (ph), as they fought for a chance to embrace the man the Albanian prime minister hailed as, The greatest and most distinguished guest we have ever had in all time.
Loser, President Bush because now he has to come home to the sobering realities of a stalled immigration bill, an attorney general under fire and his own party increasingly distancing itself from his Iraq war strategy.
Loser, Senator majority leader Harry Reid, who according to a new automated poll, is now viewed favorably by just 19 percent of American voters, landing the Nevada Democrat in a dead heat with recently convicted White House aide Lewis “Scooter” Libby. Winner, Vice President Cheney, who despite a 58 percent unfavorable rating, got double the kudos of Senator Reid and Libby, 38 percent.
Loser, the Bush Justice Department. A federal appeals court ruled today the administration cannot hold a U.S. citizen as an enemy combatant without filing charges. Winner, the leader of that Justice Department, Alberto Gonzales, who avoided a no-confidence vote in the Senate today, allowing him to work another day without the burden of an official political scarlet letter.
But the big loser of the day once again, Paris Hilton. She remains behind bars tonight, even though someone else in her position would have already been released, according to the sheriff. And we also learned from TMZ tonight that her incarceration is costing 10 times as much as that of an ordinary prisoner, making the taxpayers the other big losers.
I say let her out. Yes, then we‘ll see if she‘s all talk about her new-found religious faith and all the charitable work she says she intends to do. But I don‘t care about the supposed medical conditions. If this sheriff would have released someone other than Paris Hilton with the same facts of the case, then let‘s just end our national nightmare.
Before we get to the some of the sometimes painful comments she made this weekend, let me introduce our guests. California law specialist Stan Goldman. He‘s a professor at Loyola law school. Former prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst Susan Filan. And screenwriter and commentator John Ridley. Thanks to all of you for coming on the program. Appreciate it.
All right, Susan, before I get to some of the stuff that Paris Hilton said this weekend that it almost makes me not want to say, Free Paris—but bottom line, if this sheriff is right that someone else in her position would have served 10 percent of the time, meaning she‘d be free, why do we have to make sure that Paris serves the whole sentence?
SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: We don‘t. The point has always been, all along, Paris should not be treated any worse than anybody, nor should she be treated any better than anybody. And if the facts are that she should have been released after 10 percent of her time on 45 days, which is about four days, then the sheriff should have just opened the door and let her out, and he would have been able to point out to the population every single inmate that comes in on a similarly related offense would go out at the same period of time. He could have done a computer printout and shown the world, We didn‘t treat her any better, we didn‘t treat her any worse.
ABRAMS: All right, here‘s the...
FILAN: He totally blew it, the way he did it, Dan.
ABRAMS: Here‘s what the sheriff said, OK? Let‘s listen to the sheriff. This is in his press conference from Friday night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEE BACA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF: It isn‘t unreasonable to say five days is a pretty good sentence for ordinarily a crime that she‘d serve no days on. But see, this is the whole thing. This is up to the court to decide. Now she‘s back in my custody, and she‘ll stay there. And we want to use her as the example, then that‘s the case of the judge having to answer for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: John Ridley, do you believe the sheriff is lying?
JOHN RIDLEY, SCREENWRITER AND COMMENTATOR: I think that he is misrepresenting the facts here. I mean, this is not one thing that she did wrong. She was pulled over for a DUI. She had her license suspended.
RIDLEY: She was pulled over after that not once, not twice...
ABRAMS: But that‘s why she was...
RIDLEY: ... but three times...
ABRAMS: But that‘s why she‘s serving any time at all...
RIDLEY: ... yes, because she violated her probation...
RIDLEY: ... three times. She also didn‘t go to an alcohol awareness class...
ABRAMS: Well, OK, we...
ABRAMS: We know the facts of what got her into trouble.
ABRAMS: But for you to say she ought to serve more time than the ordinary person—OK, if that‘s what you‘re saying, fine, say it, or you have to say the sheriff is lying.
RIDLEY: Lying about what? What exactly do you want me to...
ABRAMS: About what happens in the ordinary course of business in this particular jail.
RIDLEY: OK. Well, first of all, the sheriff has to make up his mind because first she was released on a medical condition, and then it was about overcrowding. If it‘s a medical condition, how does Paris Hilton jump to the head of the line because she‘s not feeling well, when you‘ve got AIDS patients, mentally ill people, people with hepatitis, people with cancer who can‘t get released? I mean, you want to talk about special treatment, why is it when her sister and her boyfriend, Katzenberg‘s son, showed up today at the jail, they got to skip ahead of 25 or 30 people who‘d been waiting all day long to see their loved ones and go right in?
I mean, you talk about special treatment, she‘s been getting special treatment constantly through this.
RIDLEY: Anybody else who would have skipped out three times on the law—come on, Dan, you know they would have been inside.
ABRAMS: Stan Goldman teaches the law at a bar review course, all right? So aspiring lawyers have to go and listen to Stan Goldman talk about this stuff. So Stan Goldman, what‘s the law?
STAN GOLDMAN, LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL: I think the emphasis should be on “have to go” listen to me. I don‘t know if they would if they didn‘t have to.
What‘s the law? I mean, the law is that she was sentenced to 45 days. You know, if the judge had thought that her behavior, this driving without a license, deserved more time, he should have given her 90 days...
GOLDMAN: ... he should have given her six months. He should have given her more time, and a percentage of that would have added up to more time...
ABRAMS: Right. Right. I agree.
GOLDMAN: ... than she‘s probably in now. He made the choice to give her 45 days. And in the jail system, as I said last Friday—I‘m sorry Susan is agreeing with me because now I can‘t get in a fight with her—as I said last Friday, in the jail system, she‘d be out by now.
ABRAMS: All right...
GOLDMAN: She‘s being treated more...
ABRAMS: I totally agree with you. I totally—let me move on, though because, look, I say at this point, Free Paris, all right? That‘s my position. The problem is the stuff she‘s been saying this weekend, all right? It‘s getting under my skin. I‘ll be honest with you. Here‘s what Paris told Barbara Walters. She said she‘s a changed person now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBARA WALTERS, “THE VIEW”: How are you different, I asked her? And she said, I‘m not the same person I was. I know now that I can make a difference, that I have the power to do that. I want to do different things when I‘m out of here.
This part I thought particularly interesting. I used to act dumb. It was an act, and that act is no longer cute. It is not who I am, nor do I want to be that person for the young girls who looked up to me.
I asked her what kind of things she might want to do when she gets out, and she said she would like to help perhaps in the field of breast cancer—her grandmother had breast cancer—or multiple sclerosis—her father‘s mother suffered from that disease. And she said she thought that she might get toy companies to build a kind of Paris Hilton playhouse for children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: OK. John Ridley, she wants to build the Paris Hilton playhouse for children.
RIDLEY: That frightens me more than I can possibly...
ABRAMS: It‘s better than the Michael Jackson playhouse for children.
RIDLEY: Yes. Listen, Dan, you‘re safe out here on the East Coast. We‘ve got an epidemic of crazy white chicks on the West Coast. You know, it‘s her, it‘s Lindsay Lohan, it‘s Britney Spears. It‘s gotten to the point, I drive down the road, I see a white girl in a Bentley, I pull over because I fear for my life.
RIDLEY: I mean, the idea that this girl, after three or four days, has found God, is going to open a playhouse and do all these things and everything else was a dumb act—I mean, look, if this is five days, then I would like to see, after 22 days, she‘s going to be Mother Teresa.
ABRAMS: All right, here‘s what really bothered me, all right? This one—this is the statement that bothered me more than anything else she said this weekend. It was in a statement that she made on Saturday, released by her. She said that the people in the news business need to focus on what really matters.
Here‘s what she said. Quote, “I was shocked to see all of the attention devoted to the amount of time I would spend in jail for what I had done by the media, public and city officials. I would hope going forward that the public and the media will focus on more important things, like the men and women serving our country in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places around the world.”
OK. Look, Susan Filan, no one is going to argue with that statement, unless it‘s made by Paris Hilton.
ABRAMS: And the problem is that this is a woman who has lived her life thriving on the fact that people are covering her instead of some other stories. And now that it‘s turning out that this is not a positive story, that it‘s not just photographs at an event, she doesn‘t like it anymore.
FILAN: Well, look, I think two good things come out of this. One, she‘s no longer writing her own material, so when she opens her mouth, we don‘t actually have to hear what she—God forbid use the word—thinks. The other good thing is the reason it‘s called the house of corrections is because it‘s supposed to correct your behavior. It‘s supposed to punish, deter and rehabilitate. If she‘s actually done what the house of corrections is supposed to do, which is to have a person say, Oops, I was wrong, I‘m sorry, how can I do better, learn a lesson and come out changed, then maybe it was OK.
The question is, Do you believe any of it? I mean, everybody finds God of one flavor or another in prison. What do they do when they come out? That‘s the real question.
ABRAMS: All right, now, here‘s Paris again, according to Barbara Walters, talking about overcrowding, the potential of overcrowding in the jail and what she‘s willing to do to help alleviate that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTERS: She said, I feel my purpose in life is to be where I am. However, usually with a situation like mine, the person serves 10 percent of their time. I have already served 30 percent of my time. And I hope that if there is overcrowding in jail, I would be let out before someone with a much more serious crime. She did not complain when she was talking to me and she did not whine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: All right. You know, Stan, look, I‘m the guy who‘s now saying, Free Paris. I decided Friday night that I was going to come on this show on Monday and say we need to free Paris. But it‘s almost to the point where listening to her talking about—you know, if there‘s overcrowding, I hope if there‘s overcrowding, I would be let out before someone with a much more serious crime—I mean, as if she‘s there to help alleviate the overcrowding problem.
GOLDMAN: OK, I‘ve changed my mind. Let‘s throw away the key. See if we can lock her up for a year or two.
yes, I‘m not into this. It‘s amazing to me how many people hate Paris Hilton. I was talking to reporters covering this during the weekend, and everybody seems to dislike this woman.
ABRAMS: But see, I don‘t—I don‘t...
GOLDMAN: Like her or dislike her—I have no personal opinion about this woman. All I know is she shouldn‘t be treated more harshly than other people similarly situated, nor any better. And as long as she is, the criminal justice system is not properly served.
ABRAMS: You know...
GOLDMAN: There are plenty of ways to punish this woman for her behavior in life, her hedonistic, self-centered attitude, the way she‘s lived her life only for herself without considering anybody else—the criminal justice system is not the place to do that.
ABRAMS: You know, look, I...
RIDLEY: Yes, the criminal justice system is not the place to punish people. You‘re right. Absolutely not. No, we don‘t want that.
ABRAMS: It is the popular thing to do right now...
RIDLEY: Let me say something. When you have...
GOLDMAN: It‘s popular to be down on her.
RIDLEY: Excuse me. You have your own...
RIDLEY: How many of these inmates have their own personal doctor to get to trope (ph) up there and then to write some kind of...
ABRAMS: No, wait a second!
RIDLEY: ... diagnosis for her...
ABRAMS: Wait, wait! John, what you‘re forgetting...
RIDLEY: ... (INAUDIBLE) to get out?
ABRAMS: ... is most prisoners—most people with this kind of sentence are allowed to go to a jail where they can pay and be treated differently.
FILAN: Except, Dan...
ABRAMS: I know! The judge...
FILAN: ... the judge in this case said no.
ABRAMS: The judge said she couldn‘t do...
ABRAMS: I know that. No, no.
FILAN: So now you‘re quarreling with the specifics of the judge‘s decision.
ABRAMS: That‘s right. No, I‘m saying—if we‘re talking about whether she got special treatment, right, and it‘s—everyone‘s suggesting, Oh, she‘s getting it so much easier—the bottom line is the judge made sure—I mean—I mean, the judge tried to do everything he could to make this harsher for Paris Hilton than for somebody else in similar circumstances.
FILAN: But you‘re making it arbitrary, Dan, as if he didn‘t have his reasons, as if she hadn‘t done enough to upset him and then come late to his courthouse and then blame that on the media. The media made her late.
RIDLEY: Yes. How many times...
FILAN: She brought this on herself.
RIDLEY: Yes. How many chances does she get?
FILAN: And Dan, how many inmates get to pick up the phone, call Barbara Walters and have their point of view on “The View”?
ABRAMS: Oh, who cares?
FILAN: Oh, come on!
RIDLEY: How many of them get to petition Arnold Schwarzenegger?
ABRAMS: Anyone can petition Arnold Schwarzenegger!
RIDLEY: Personally by phone?
ABRAMS: He didn‘t do anything!
RIDLEY: Excuse me, Dan, look, I‘ll tell you something. If there are two people who need to be in jail right now, it‘s Kathy Hilton and it‘s Richard Hilton.
ABRAMS: Oh, come on!
RIDLEY: Those are the two—oh, listen, this girl has no...
ABRAMS: Now we‘re talking about putting parents in jail. Come on!
RIDLEY: I‘m sorry. Dan...
RIDLEY: Parents—excuse me. Wait a second. There are parents who are kicked out of public housing because their kids are doing drugs. There are parents who are being punished constantly because of what their children are doing.
ABRAMS: What parents go to jail based on the fact that their child, let‘s say, engaged in a minor—a minor misdemeanor?
RIDLEY: What do you mean minor? Excuse me!
ABRAMS: That‘s what it‘s classified as legally.
RIDLEY: When you—when you—three times, Dan, three times she disobeyed the law.
GOLDMAN: So he should have sentenced her...
RIDLEY: Three times.
GOLDMAN: ... to more time in jail. That‘s the point. He didn‘t.
RIDLEY: That‘s not the point. The fact of the matter is...
GOLDMAN: It is the point!
ABRAMS: All right...
RIDLEY: No, it is not the point. That‘s not the question here...
RIDLEY: One at a time! One at a time!
ABRAMS: Wait, wait, wait, wait! One at a time!
GOLDMAN: ... for people you don‘t like!
ABRAMS: Final word...
RIDLEY: I didn‘t say—wait a minute. You‘re putting words in my mouth. You said I didn‘t like...
GOLDMAN: No, I‘m not! You‘re the one...
RIDLEY: ... Paris Hilton...
ABRAMS: John, real quick.
RIDLEY: Tell me when I said I didn‘t like Paris Hilton. The reality is, is that the judge laid down his sentence. The sheriff does not have the constitutional...
ABRAMS: All right...
RIDLEY: ... authority to go against it. You may not like that. You may not like the way it is. That‘s the way it is.
ABRAMS: All right, I‘m going to say two final words on this. Free Paris, and the in the meantime, Paris, please, and the people who are advising her, stop, stop, stop! Stan Goldman, Susan Filan...
FILAN: Maybe she‘ll call you tomorrow, Dan!
ABRAMS: ... John Ridley (INAUDIBLE)
Still ahead: Senator Joe Lieberman says a military strike against Iran needs to be considered now. We‘ll debate ahead.
Plus, Colin Powell says Guantanamo should be closed, the war in Iraq was mishandled. He‘s now advising Barack Obama? Is he switching sides, so to speak? And why now?
But first: What is one local Fox station looking for in the next big news anchor? Experience? Not required. Journalistic integrity? Not in this job description. Good looks, like model good looks, and the willingness to be on that Fox reality show? You bet. That‘s up when we come back.
ABRAMS: Who says you have to be a journalist to be a news anchor? In fact, do you really need anything other than, like, really, really good looks? No, of course, I‘m not talking about myself, I‘m talking about Fox has a new reality show called “Anchorwoman,” where they attempt to turn this woman, Lauren Jones, a former bikini model and World Wrestling diva, into a news anchor. Jones will co-anchor the real 5:00 PM news on a CBS affiliate in Tyler, Texas, for 30 days. Many journalists are now up in arms, but the question, is it really that big a deal?
Let‘s bring in MSNBC medial analyst Steve Adubato, and our screenwriter, frequent NPR contributor John Ridley. All right, Steve, look, the most obvious thing to say here is, This is the death of journalism as we know it. This is going to change our world forever. The fact that this woman is going to be doing this for 30 days is going to destroy everything we know. But the bottom line is, she‘s going to be reading news for 30 days. That big a deal?
STEVE ADUBATO, MSNBC MEDIA ANALYST: You know, it wouldn‘t be so big a deal, Dan, if we weren‘t hanging on by a thread with our journalistic integrity. The bottom line is you can‘t even show the shots of this Lauren Jones. I was looking at them purely for research reasons before I came on, Dan. It‘s soft porn. You can‘t show this stuff! She‘s blond. She‘s busty. She‘s attractive. She‘s going to learn to read a teleprompter. But are we saying that for 30 days—forget about playing a TV anchor in some sort of sitcom. She‘s not playing Mary Tyler Moore, it‘s going to be real news. God forbid something actually happens.
ABRAMS: But can‘t the viewers in Tyler, Texas, then say to themselves
if they find it so reprehensible, that they can say to themselves, I will never watch that channel again because of what they did to us with Lauren Jones?
ADUBATO: Yes. And the rest of us in this business who—listen, being attractive in the business, the three of us all understand that because we‘re so incredibly attractive.
ABRAMS: Yes. Right.
ADUBATO: But the other side is this, guys. Let‘s be honest. Some of us have to speak up and say, Look, here‘s the line, you can‘t cross it. And if you go over it, you have every right to do it, but we‘re going to say it‘s a scam, it‘s a joke, it‘s a stunt, and it goes beyond the typical things we do in our business for ratings, which is to try to show people what they want to see, because at least we are journalists. We‘re curious. We‘re trained. We‘re serious professionals, even though...
ABRAMS: Hey, wait a sec. Lauren Jones has said this is a dream come true for her. She said, quote, “Ever since I was a little girl, I‘ve wanted to be a news anchor. We‘re not here to make a mockery of this station.” So John, why is that different than the aspirations of any other aspiring journalist?
RIDLEY: Well, you know, I watched this video, too, like Steve did, but not for research purposes, just because it was pretty hot. You know, look, I—to a degree, I agree with Steve. And I want to be serious for a second because there are a lot of hard-working journalists out there, and this is—it‘s kind of an affront, throwing anybody in front of the camera. And whether she—if she has the aspirations, she could have gone to school for it or something like that, or tried a little bit harder.
But here‘s the reality, is that particularly local news, I think they‘ve abdicated real journalistic integrity a long time ago. I mean, you look at your local news, how many times do you have the flow-through (ph) from “American Idol” or “Dancing With the Stars” or you have the live remotes from the scene of something that happened 15 hours ago?
ABRAMS: Yes, but that‘s different.
RIDLEY: But it‘s not. It‘s a waste—that is a waste of money that could go into...
ABRAMS: OK. All right...
RIDLEY: ... supporting real journalism. It‘s not a waste of money...
ABRAMS: And look, and if you‘re going to talk about real journalism...
ABRAMS: ... there‘s also no way to justify Paris Hilton coverage. I mean, look...
RIDLEY: There‘s no way to justify it.
ABRAMS: I mean—but Lauren is going to be anchor on a local CBS affiliate in Tyler, Texas, alongside Stormy the weather dog.
ABRAMS: There‘s Stormy. We just wanted to make sure we got a good pic of Stormy up there with the bandanna.
ADUBATO: That‘s CBS.
ABRAMS: Does that change anything, Steve, that Stormy is already the weather dog?
ADUBATO: You know, Dan, I spent some time on local TV news, and you know, the bottom line is this. It seems like just about anything goes, Stormy the weather dog, some of the characters who do the weather—I‘m not sure how much they know about weather.
But here‘s my thing. It‘s been a gray area for a long time. This particular situation with Lauren Jones goes so far over the line, it‘s such a scam, that in my view, she could say she‘s always wanted to be a journalist. Did you ever take at a journalism class? Have you ever studied the media? Do you reed a newspaper, be “The New York Times,” “The Post,” “The Daily News,” whatever? Do you think that being a news person simply means learning how to read the news and do it in a way that looks good?
ABRAMS: I know. I know.
ADUBATO: It‘s more than that, Dan. You know it and I know it.
ABRAMS: I know. Look, the bottom line is the—you know, I don‘t want to make this sound like we‘re bashing local news. I mean, we‘ve got a lot of excellent local news stations that take their news really seriously.
ABRAMS: And I would say most of the local news stations throughout the country do. But the question becomes, Is it that big a deal? I don‘t think it‘s the end of journalism as we know it. I don‘t think the fact that there‘s one reality show out there that‘s going to have someone do it for 30 days is going to change anything. I think it‘s going to be viewed the same way as a—you know, any kind of a ratings stunt would be viewed. And then after 30 days, there‘s going to be somebody else, you know, on that station anchoring the news and...
ADUBATO: It‘s worse, Dan.
ADUBATO: I think it‘s another nail in the coffin because I have to tell you, when I watched Ron Burgundy, who did the movie, you know, “Anchorman”...
ADUBATO: ... at least I knew it was a joke. We could laugh at ourselves because we see bits and pieces of ourselves, but we know it‘s a movie.
ADUBATO: How about if something real happens on the air, guys, a real news story?
ABRAMS: Well, I would just—look, and I would assume that they‘re going to have someone there as a back-up, in case there‘s a really important breaking news story.
RIDLEY: But Steve, here‘s the bigger issue...
ABRAMS: I got to wrap it up, John. I‘m sorry.
RIDLEY: OK. But very quickly—but we look at this girl, we know that she‘s a joke. If you‘re going to rail against the news, and I would rail with you, I think you got to go after the people who are really ruining the news. You know, you look at your Judy Millers and your Jayson Blairs and what goes on at real institutions...
ABRAMS: All right, all right.
RIDLEY: ... Peter Arnett and things like that—that‘s not a joke.
ABRAMS: That‘s John‘s effort to sort of name politically—come on, John—sort of the unfair slap at a bunch of...
RIDLEY: Unfair slap?
ABRAMS: We‘re not debating Judy Miller here. We‘re not.
ABRAMS: We‘re not debating Judy Miller.
RIDLEY: No, we‘re not debating Judy Miller because...
ABRAMS: Steve, John...
RIDLEY: ... we know that she‘s ruining journalism.
ABRAMS: I‘ve got to go.
RIDLEY: There‘s nothing to debate.
ABRAMS: I‘ve got to—OK...
ABRAMS: John, stop! We‘ve got to go. Thanks.
Coming up: Senator Joe Lieberman says the U.S. should be prepared to bomb Iran. That‘s ahead.
First, Jimmy Kimmel helps expose Paris‘s medical mystery, sort of, next in “Must See S.C.”
ABRAMS: Time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” video you got to see. First up: Paris Hilton‘s alleged medical condition helped spring her from LA County lockup briefly. What exactly ailed the heiress remains something of a mystery. Thankfully, Jimmy Kimmel gathered all the conflicting reports and then offered one of his own.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her shrink, Dr. Charles Sophy, visited her yesterday, and he felt she was on the verge of having a nervous breakdown.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... she had an illness, that she had a rash, that she had had some type of infection.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paris went into a panic, suffering from shortness of breath and was convinced she was having a heart attack.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She has a severe rash. She was close to a nervous breakdown.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She also was suffering from mental anguish.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She became contagious after having in-flight sex with tuberculosis man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: And you may ask, who would buy a creepy, life-like child robot made by designers in Japan? Jay Leno answers that question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JAY LENO, HOST, “TONIGHT SHOW”: Japanese scientists have created a boy robot. It has silicone skin and is capable of rolling around and talking like a real boy. And look who bought the first one. Look at this thing from Japanese television.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Blew the punchline on that one with the video earlier.
Up next, Senator Lieberman says it‘s time to consider bombing Iran.
Is that tough talk or reality? We‘ll debate that next.
And later, in “Beat the Press,” why not even the sheriff known as the toughest sheriff in America is tough enough for Nancy Grace. Coming up.
ABRAMS: Coming up later, the so-called toughest sheriff in America apparently not tough enough for Nancy Grace. Her showdown with him in tonight‘s “Beat the Press.”
But first, Senator Joe Lieberman is now saying the U.S. should consider military action against Iran. The reason? Tehran‘s suspected involvement in Iraq. On CBS‘s “Face the Nation,” Lieberman said, by some estimates, Iranians may have already killed as many as 200 American soldiers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: I think we‘ve got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq. And to me, that would include a strike into—over the border into Iran, where I—we have good evidence that they have a base at which they are training these people coming back into Iraq to kill our soldiers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: So should he be not even saying that, “preparing to take aggressive military action”? Joining me now, Arianna Huffington, founder of HuffingtonPost.com, MSNBC analyst Pat Buchanan, and Mike Evans, author of the new book, “The Final Move Beyond Iraq.”
All right, Arianna, is there anything wrong with Senator Lieberman saying “prepared to take aggressive military action”?
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, CREATOR, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: The thing that is wrong is that, basically, as Harry Reid said today, our Army does not have the resources, does not have the troops for military action. And Lieberman mentioned air strikes.
MIKE EVANS, AUTHOR: That‘s nonsense.
HUFFINGTON: But the last thing this country needs is another half-hearted invasion that is not prepared and where we don‘t have the resources to sustain it.
ABRAMS: Hang on, hang on. Let her finish.
HUFFINGTON: And you have multiple military experts, including General Petraeus, saying that the war in Iraq will not be won militarily, let alone our confrontation with Iran. After all, even Condoleezza Rice, who is hardly a softie, is actually engaging in diplomacy with Iran, after 27 years of no diplomatic relations. It is this administration that has first engaged in diplomacy.
ABRAMS: All right, so, Pat, explain to me. I don‘t understand why this is so different than anything the administration has said up to this point, where they have announced that Iran has been behind, in some way or another, certain attacks on U.S. troops, and it would seem that implicit in that is they‘d better stop or else.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, clearly, if Iran is providing these highly effective IEDs that are killing American troops in Iraq, that‘s an act of war against the United States. But before anybody starts launching air strikes without seeing this thing through, the president of the United States ought to make the case this time to the Congress and get the Congress to ask some hard questions. What is your proof? What is your evidence that the government of Iran is behind this?
EVANS: Never going to happen.
BUCHANAN: All right, look, if it‘s never going to happen, then we ought not to be launching air strikes based on the fact that Joe Lieberman says he‘s been told something.
EVANS: Come on, Pat. You know better than this. The Congress isn‘t going to do a darn thing. And that‘s a liberal game. What, invasion? Nobody is talking about an invasion in Iran. You‘ve got 1,300 centrifuges, 3,000, and bang, bang, bang, you‘ve got a bomb. We‘re talking about an ‘09 situation here. This is an existential threat to the state of Israel and our own country.
BUCHANAN: Well, let Israel attack them.
EVANS: Come on, Pat. How are they going to do it?
BUCHANAN: They‘ve got 300 atomic bombs.
EVANS: Hey, Pat, did you ever hear of air space? You can‘t fly over Iraq. You can‘t fly over Turkey. You can‘t fly over Syria.
BUCHANAN: They sure flew over there for the Osirak bombing.
ABRAMS: You know, Arianna, it‘s not that often you hear someone accuse Pat Buchanan of playing the liberal game. I mean, it just doesn‘t happen all that often.
HUFFINGTON: But, you know, with the greatest respect to Mike Evans, you know, the title of his new book alone says it all about how disconnected from reality he is. “The Final Move Beyond Iraq”?
EVANS: Excuse me?
HUFFINGTON: There are no final moves.
EVANS: Excuse me?
ABRAMS: Let her finish.
EVANS: That‘s my book title...
ABRAMS: I know, and then I promise you‘ll get a chance to respond.
Go ahead, Arianna.
HUFFINGTON: There are no “final moves.” Terrorism is going to be ongoing, and it‘s a battle that is going to be fought, not just militarily, but with America‘s soft power. And to talk about final moves is completely and utterly delusional.
ABRAMS: Go ahead, Mike.
EVANS: Let me tell you about delusional. I happen to be a Jew. A third of my race was wiped out by a nutcase by the name of Hitler. A million of them were children. Now, there‘s an Islamic revolution in Iran spreading through Iraq. I‘ve been to Iraq twice in the last 12 weeks, meeting with Iraqi government leaders. We‘re talking about the second-biggest employment company in the nation...
ABRAMS: All right, Mike, let‘s assume all that‘s in the case...
ABRAMS: Assuming that to be true, what do we do? Are you saying that we need to start bombing now?
EVANS: No, no, no, no. Listen, bankrupt them. Play a JFK card. You can embargo this country, 35 percent of their oil and gasoline, shut them down, shut them down in 30 days.
ABRAMS: All right. Arianna, what do you think about that?
HUFFINGTON: Well, clearly this has nothing to do with what Joe Lieberman was saying. And in any case, it does not preclude what is happening right now, which is attempts at diplomacy. You know, this is something which should have been started a long time ago...
HUFFINGTON: ... and the administration itself is divided.
HUFFINGTON: ... Condi Rice position, and there is a Dick Cheney position, and now the Joe Lieberman position.
ABRAMS: All right, I‘m about to switch topics, Mike. I want to give you one more chance. So what do you think about, specifically, Lieberman‘s comments saying, “Hey, we need to very seriously consider the issue of bombing Iran if things don‘t change”?
EVANS: General Moshe Yaalon, former chief of staff of Israel, told me, “We‘ve got to do it this year. We‘ll never do it in ‘08. And by 2009, we‘re going to have a nuclear Iran.”
BUCHANAN: Who is “we”? Who is “we,” Mike? Who is “we”?
EVANS: Excuse me, I‘m not finished with my sentence, Pat!
ABRAMS: But it‘s a good question. Who is “we”?
EVANS: The Arabs are terrified! The terrorist Arab countries are terrified of a non-Arab country—and they‘re all going to the Russians now, starting to talk to them about the possibility of...
BUCHANAN: So, therefore, the United States of America should launch a war on Iran, because they‘re all excited or unhappy over it?
EVANS: Hello? Time out!
EVANS: Pat, it‘s not a war! We‘re talking about a surgical strike with ICBMs and stealths, just to take out the nuclear programs.
ABRAMS: Bottom line is, look, I think, look, Mike feels strongly about it. He‘s certainly in the minority at this point.
EVANS: No. That‘s nonsense. This isn‘t a minority. Come on.
ABRAMS: Mike, you‘re going to suggest the majority of people in government agree with the position you just took?
ABRAMS: No, wait, wait, you challenged me on my statement. You said
you laughed when I said minority. Are you saying that your position that you just laid out is in the majority of Americans in this country, in government? You name it.
EVANS: Yes, the majority of Americans in this country are not prepared for a nuclear Iran and the possibility of...
ABRAMS: OK, that wasn‘t the question.
EVANS: ... fissile material, 35 pounds of it will fit in a backpack, according to James Woolsey, and could kill a quarter of a million people in a heavily populated city.
ABRAMS: All right. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell is making headlines, taking on the administration, admitting to meeting with Barack Obama, refusing to say he‘d support a Republican candidate. In an interview on “Meet the Press,” the former Bush administration leader definitely did not stick to any administration talking points.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLIN POWELL, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: You can move the deck chairs around, and you can bring in new people, and you can change your organizational arrangements, but, ultimately, the president has the responsibility.
If we knew today or knew then what we know today, that there were no weapons of mass destruction, I would have had nothing to take to the United Nations.
And if it was up to me, I would close Guantanamo, not tomorrow, but this afternoon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: All right, now, Pat Buchanan, look, his views may actually echo some of yours with regard to what‘s been happening and how we got here. But is this—does this mean that Powell is turning, changing sides here now?
BUCHANAN: I think you have a point here, Dan. I think Powell, who‘s a man of great personal pride and a sense of integrity, feels he has been used and exploited to sell this war on some pretty flimsy evidence. I do believe when he says, you know, he‘s wide open as to what party or what candidate he can support and the criticisms of the Bush administration.
He is moving away from the Republican Party and the Bush administration and becoming, I think, far more an independent figure and available to folks of either party. And I think he feels badly used by this administration.
ABRAMS: Arianna, do you expect that the Democrats are going to try to and that?
HUFFINGTON: Well, you know, Colin Powell was always an independent figure. Remember, he was pro-choice. I‘m sure he still is, pro-affirmative action. But much more important here is his role in the selling of this war to the American people.
HUFFINGTON: So many people will tell you again and again that, if it wasn‘t for Colin Powell putting his enormous credibility behind the selling of the war, they would not have been behind the war. So I think it‘s really sad. It‘s a little bit like watching George Tenet, you know, come out, after all the damage has been done, and then singing a very different song.
And, you know, of course, it‘s great that he wants to close down Guantanamo, not tomorrow but this afternoon, but where was that kind of moral authority when the country needed it?
ABRAMS: And, Pat, if he does join on the Barack Obama bandwagon—let‘s say he comes out at some point—he‘s not there yet—and let‘s assume he joins in for the Barack Obama for president groundswell, does that change things in the ‘08 Democratic race?
BUCHANAN: Look, it would be helpful to Barack Obama, but, in truth, Arianna‘s got a very good point. Colin Powell does not have the moral authority that he did have when he could have used it, I believe, to have prevented this war. I think he eventually came to believe in the war, but if there was one guy that could have stopped this war or interrupted the process to war, it was Colin Powell in 2002.
ABRAMS: Arianna Huffington?
HUFFINGTON: And you know what?
ABRAMS: Real quick.
HUFFINGTON: He did talk about his reservations afterwards to Bob Woodward. And I think it‘s time that all these public figures resign if they don‘t agree with the policy, rather than talk to Bob Woodward after the fact.
ABRAMS: All right, Arianna, Pat Buchanan, Mike Evans, thanks a lot, appreciate it.
Up next, the big exclusive CNN interview that‘s got more caveats than a prescription drug ad, it‘s next in “Beat the Press.”
And later, was “The Sopranos” finale a total letdown? I didn‘t think so. I liked it. “Hollyweird” is coming up.
ABRAMS: It‘s time for tonight‘s “Beat the Press.” First up, it seemed like the so-called toughest sheriff in America isn‘t tough enough for Nancy Grace.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY GRACE, CNN HOST: Out to you, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, commonly known as the toughest sheriff in the country, Sheriff, are those female inmates behind you? Because they don‘t look to me like they‘re roughing it. They look pretty happy to me. They look like models.
JOE ARPAIO, SHERIFF: Yes, what about it? Are they happy or not happy?
GRACE: Well, aren‘t they supposed to be in jail?
ARPAIO: They are in jail. They‘re in the tent jail. It‘s 100 degrees here.
ARPAIO: They are in jail.
GRACE: I‘ve never seen a jail like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Nancy wants to see pain on their faces, and they have to be ugly! Remember, this is the guy who runs this prison.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An alternative to almost all-day incarceration is to join the chain gang and labor eight hours a day, 16 days a week.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Coming up, next up, our competitor‘s Paris Hilton coverage. All the cable news channels covered it. Some had fun with it. Others felt the need to talk down to their audience and tell their viewers that essentially they‘d never watch what the viewers are watching. First up, the self-righteous folks over at CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: We are, of course, getting a lot of e-mails in response to this particular story.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: And we‘re not sure what upsets you more, Paris getting out of jail or the fact that we‘re even covering this story. Sometimes, yes, we scratch our heads about it, too.
HOLMES: Get over yourselves, I think talking to us, Betty, me and you.
NGUYEN: We‘re just doing our jobs. We‘re doing what we‘re being told.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Just doing what we‘re being told. On the other hand, there is always the more entertaining way that Shep Smith did it over at FOX.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHEPARD SMITH, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Here‘s what she did. “It‘s not right!” she shouted, the weeping Hilton. “Mom!” she called out to her mother in the audience.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You almost did a better reenactment than inside the courtroom, Shep. You‘re enjoying this a little too much, Shep.
SMITH: Oh, I don‘t know. If we‘ve got to spend all day on it, I‘m going to have fun with it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: CNN, take a cue from Shep.
And, finally, CNN is promoting an exclusive interview this week with a man FOX is interviewing the night before. Listen to all the qualifying terms here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Larry King tomorrow, Larry Birkhead with baby Dannielynn, his first live primetime interview since he won the custody battle the whole world was watching.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: So let‘s go through this. The first live primetime since he gained custody? So I guess that means he‘s done other taped, non-primetime interviews, and many before he gained custody. That‘s an exclusive? Maybe they should have just announced, “It‘s his first interview since yesterday!”
Coming up, everyone is talking about the “Sopranos” finale. Does this non-ending ending mean there‘s a movie to come, or was it just a cop-out, so to speak?
And model Gisele is going after the Catholic Church, saying they‘re out of touch. “Hollyweird” is next.
ABRAMS: It‘s time for “Hollyweird.” First up, “The Sopranos” last night, much-talked-about season finale, some calling it pure genius, others calling it a pure letdown. I liked it. But does this mean there‘s more to come?
Here now—oh, see, I even got fooled by it again. I forgot. I saw it last night, too, and I got fooled. I‘m like, “Oh, my god. We got a technical glitch.” No, we didn‘t.
“OK” magazine senior reporter Courtney Hazlett is with us, and from VH1‘s “Best Week Ever,” comedian Chuck Nice.
All right. So, Courtney, what did you make of it? Did you like it?
COURTNEY HAZLETT, “OK” MAGAZINE: You know what? I kind of did like it, and I don‘t understand what all the moaning is about, because people are complaining that it just faded to black, it was anticlimactic, they thought someone would get whacked from Tony‘s family. Nobody did, spoiler alert, a little bit belated right there, if you haven‘t seen it yet, but, quite honestly, people have been complaining about this show for years, saying the plot is slow in developing, there‘s not enough action. So, to me, this final episode just sort of mimicked what we‘ve been seeing for the last two or three years.
ABRAMS: Yes, Chuck, it seems to me that what people want is they want more heads blown off. I mean, that‘s been the constant complaint. “Ah, there was no violence in this episode.” But then, you know, when Tony got in that huge fight with—I forget the guy‘s name, where he beat him to death, everyone was like, “Oh, that was a great episode!”
CHUCK NICE, VH1‘S “BEST WEEK EVER”: Yes, well, people want violence, but the truth is, he gave us the goriest scene ever in the history of “The Sopranos” last night, Phil Leotardo‘s head being run over by an SUV and popping like a grape. Could you get any more violent than that, people? What do you want?
ABRAMS: Yes, I mean, you‘d think that that would—they‘d get their fill on that.
NICE: Yes, I mean, honestly. I mean, first, the guy gets shot in the head, then he gets shot while he‘s laying on the ground, and then an SUV crushes his head. How much more violence can America really want?
ABRAMS: All right. Ex-“Victoria‘s Secret” model Gisele, known best for wearing down runways in lingerie and wearing angel wings, now taking on the Catholic Church about abortion and condom use. Gisele says the church‘s take on contraception is hopelessly outdated because it was adopted when, quote, “the women were virgins, the guys were virgins. Today no one‘s a virgin when they get married.”
All right, I mean, you know, is she going to get herself into trouble here, Chuck?
NICE: All I‘m saying is, “Hey, Gisele, just because you‘re out whoring is up doesn‘t mean that every woman is.”
NICE: OK? Just because you let the farmer milk the cow through the fence doesn‘t mean that there are some women who don‘t save themselves for the sacred sanctity of marriage.
ABRAMS: Let me ask you this, Courtney, and I know it‘s a little bit serious here, but when someone like Gisele gets out there and attacks something as big as the Catholic Church, does she get herself into trouble potentially with jobs, advertisers, et cetera?
HAZLETT: There‘s definitely that potential, Dan, but, truth be told, I don‘t think there‘s going to be a tremendous amount of backlash in this instance, mostly because it‘s a sort of art imitates life situation going on. Right now, Gisele is dating quarterback Tom Brady, who is currently expecting a child with his most recent ex-girlfriend, so perhaps she‘s just kind of cuing in what‘s going on in her own personal life.
ABRAMS: We will soon know whether Eddie Murphy is the father of Scary Spice‘s baby. Earlier today, Murphy submitted a paternity test in an L.A. court. Is this for real, Courtney?
HAZLETT: Oh, it‘s totally for real. And who knew we‘d Miss Paris Hilton, who is so much now that we‘re now talking about Eddie Murphy submitting DNA tests? But you know what? Scary Spice, she‘s spoken to “OK” magazine. She said, “I am 100 percent positive Eddie Murphy is the father of my child.” And so now we‘ll finally find out for real.
ABRAMS: Wow, Chuck, do you care?
NICE: Actually, I‘m just disappointed that Eddie Murphy didn‘t step up and do the right thing by having this done on “The Maury Povich Show.”
ABRAMS: All right, Chuck Nice and Courtney Hazlett, thanks a lot.
NICE: Always a pleasure.
HAZLETT: Thank you.
ABRAMS: A reminder, if you have missed your fill of Mr. Scarborough tonight, you can, of course, catch him all morning on “Morning Joe.” You see along there, with John Ridley and Mika Brzezinski, joining him, as well, starting at 6:00 a.m. right here on MSNBC. His guests will include Pat Buchanan, author Jeff Gerth, and “HARDBALL‘s” Chris Matthews. Joe‘s been doing a great job in the mornings. It‘s worth watching.
All right, that‘s all the time we have for you tonight. We‘ll see you back here tomorrow night in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
Up next, on tonight‘s “To Catch a Predator,” one of the largest turnouts ever. Over three days, 29 guys show up at an upscale house in Sonoma County, California.
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