Guests: Cliff Stearns, Bruno Sammartino, Billy Graham, Marc Mero, Heidi Fleiss, Emily Heil
DAN ABRAMS, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Keith. In a moment my take on the hypocrisy this philandering senator has displayed. Plus some toxicology reports are out in the WWE murder suicide case. We have our biggest star studded wrestling panel yet. Some of the biggest names in the sport. Plus a close look of the final moments of Chris Benoit‘s life coming up.
But first, a prominent Republican senator now admitting he was a client of the so-called DC madam, Debra Palfrey. Conservative Senator David Vitter of Louisiana called it a, quote, “serious sin” and says he received forgiveness from God. Now a New Orleans brothel madam is saying Vitter visited her several times over several years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEANETTE MAIER, FORMER NEW ORLEANS MADAM: David Vitter has visited with my girls and I know that he loves his wife and his children. There is more to this business than sex. People need somebody to talk to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Right. Vitter has not responded to that allegation yet about needing somebody to talk to.
Might take. True moralists might say prostitution is illegal, therefore no U.S. senator should be involved with illegal activity. OK. True, but a little bit too preachy for me. I‘ll let him deal with his wife about that one.
He says they‘ve made peace about it. Well, we‘ll see. In 2000 she said that if she learned her husband was having an affair like Hillary Clinton, she said she would be quote, “more like Lorena Bobbitt,” the woman who cut off her husband‘s penis “than Hillary. If he does something like that I‘m walking away with one thing and it‘s not alimony, trust me.”
Ouch. But more important to me, the hypocrisy. You cannot run on one platform and be judged publicly by an entirely separate standard. This is a guy who has defined himself with statements like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DAVID VITTER, ® LA: Marriage, it is often said, but it is very, very true, and it is worth repeating. Marriage is truly the most fundamental social institution in human history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: And I guess the most malleable and forgiving as well. He has advocated abstinence again and again. Look, I have been stunned at how little coverage this story has received, how accepting everyone seems to be of this revelation.
Here now a man who disagrees with me, Tucker Carlson, host of TUCKER which is now live at 6:00 p.m. here on MSNBC. And we‘re joined by Emily Heil, reporter for “Roll Call‘s” “Heard on the Hill.”
Thanks a lot for joining us. All right, Tucker. What am I getting wrong here?
TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC HOST: Everything. This is not hypocrisy, because he is not being asked to be judged by a different standard. He is holding himself to his own standard. HE said this is a terrible sin. He has asked his wife‘s forgiveness. This is not a rejection for marriage. The guy wants to stay married, obviously, and he is taking great pains to remain married. This is not to excuse what he did, which is obviously wrong, but it is to call B.S. on the press which is jumping in and judging this guy. That‘s hypocrisy. I don‘t know a single group of people with weirder sex lives than people who work in television.
ABRAMS: That is fine. As long as they are not going out there and telling people the following. Again, this is expressing his reauthorization for the Title V abstinence education program.
“These programs have been shown to effectively shown to reduce the risk of out of wedlock pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases by teaching teenagers that saving sex until marriage and remaining faithful afterwards is the best choice for health and happiness.”
ABRAMS: The members of the press you‘re talking about are not going out and preaching that.
CARLSON: But he is not preaching abstinence for you and me, for adults, but for children.
ABRAMS: And remaining faithful afterwards is the best choice for health and happiness.
CARLSON: David Vitter - and here I am defending David Vitter, when I really mean to attack those who are judging him.
ABRAMS: I‘m judging him, so you can attack me.
CARLSON: I‘m attacking you.
I am saying that David Vitter is saying that it is a good thing to remain faithful to your wife. He is still saying that. He did not remain faithful to his wife and he is ashamed because of it. It is not clear to me exactly how he is a hypocrite. He is a sinner.
ABRAMS: If you make it one of your final causes, right?
ABRAMS: If this is how you define yourself as a politician and a public servant, how can you then after you violate that then go back and say, hey, I said I am sorry, everything is cool?
CARLSON: I‘m missing that. When you are in A.A., you are not in the company of a bunch of people who have never had drinking problems. These are drunks. These are people who know what it is to have stumbled..
ABRAMS: Were there people beforehand who were saying anyone who goes out and drinks is going to have—people are preaching about drinking beforehand.
CARLSON: Absolutely. If I smoke cigarettes, and I get lung cancer from it, and I continue to smoke, and I go talk to a class of young people, and I say don‘t smoke. I know it‘s the wrong thing to do. I am not a hypocrite. I am giving you the benefit of my experience. How is this a public policy issue post we, in the press concluded after Clinton that it was wrong to go and hold this guy‘s private life up to public ridicule for no reason other than our ratings. That‘s what we‘re doing today.
ABRAMS: I don‘t want to get into a Clinton debate but the claim there was always, oh, it is not about the sex, is about the lie under oath, it is about his role as president, etc. Let me ask Emily Heil.
Emily, look, am I wrong? Tucker is suggesting that sort of the press is out there all over this guy. I have been struck how little coverage there is, in my view, how this has been kind of minimized.
EMILY HEIL, “ROLL CALL”: Well, I think people are waiting to see what the reaction is. They are waiting to see what other stilettos drop here. But for right now there has been muted reaction on the Hill but certainly, a lot of reaction, lots of partisan reaction, so I feel the press is also covering their reaction, not just by themselves and their own moral judgments, but by voters and people out there who are concerned about this.
There was a Republican in his home state who asked for him to resign, so the press is covering that, certainly.
ABRAMS: But, you would agree, that is not going to happen. My guess is that this is going to go away very quickly.
HEIL: Well, there is certainly precedent for members of Congress who have been caught with prostitutes to weather those storms perfectly well. Get reelected.
ABRAMS: Should it matter what their positions were beforehand when they are caught with prostitutes, or when they are caught doing anything? Let‘s say it is someone opposed to the use guns and then goes out and buys an illegal gun and somehow accidentally shoot someone. It seems to me that person should be held to a higher standard.
HEIL: Well, right now, on the Hill, there seems to be this huge ethics-off. I can be more moral than you can.
And so certainly, this plays into that. Everyone has been sort of judging everyone else‘s morals, and this is something he is going to have to deal with and he is going to have to answer to.
CARLSON: Here is why that analogy falls down, if I could, Dan. If someone is preaching gun control, and I remember Dianne Feinstein, big gun control person, someone on her staff was found to have begun. Dianne Feinstein is trying to prevent me from having a gun therefore that actually is a news story as far as I am concerned. David Vitter was not out there .
ABRAMS: He was trying to prevent people from having sex.
CARLSON: Come on. That is not true. He is not trying to prevent adults from having sex and he is not proposing stiffer penalties for Johns, people who use prostitutes.
The principle here is—hold on. Even public figures deserve private lives. I think that is a principle worth upholding and defending. The point that—if you were going to go through Congress, how many people with a weird sex lives could you find? Probably 535.
ABRAMS: But does it matter, Tucker, that the fundamental act of prostitution is illegal, or is that irrelevant?
CARLSON: Personally, it‘s irrelevant to me.
ABRAMS: Not personally but I‘m asking you sort of evaluating it politically.
CARLSON: I think that actually is more relevant. In the same sense, if David Vitter was caught driving with a suspended license or parked in a handicap zone, yes, those are minor infractions that I guess we ought to take into account, but that is not what this is about. It is about the fact it had to do with sex and he is a conservative.
ABRAMS: It has to do with specifically that he has advocated about sex.
CARLSON: He has not told adults not to have sex, so far as I know. And I have not seen any tapes of him telling people not to go to prostitutes. Moreover, the problem here with this guy, like a lot of people in Washington, lives away from his family. So if there is a takeaway on the public policy side, it is this.
Members of Congress should not live apart from their wives and children. That‘s bad. Men when they lived apart from their wives and children tend to commit adultery as you know. That is just the way men are. I think maybe David Vitter could get up tomorrow and say, if your family is living back in your district, spend the extra dough and bring them to Washington .
HEIL: I do not think voters are going to accept the excuse that is just the way men are.
CARLSON: But that‘s true. That is just the way men are. And I don‘t care whether we‘re admitting that in public or not but you know as well as I do that is the way men are. Not all men cheat.
ABRAMS: Not everyone is as intellectually honest as Tucker Carlson.
That‘s the problem.
CARLSON: You know that is true, Dan. Come on.
ABRAMS: Tucker Carlson, Emily Heil. Thanks, a lot. I appreciate it.
ABRAMS: Right now on the phone, former Hollywood madam, Heidi Fleiss joins as. She is calling in. Thanks a lot for calling in. I appreciate it.
I want to talk to you about your latest venture in a moment, but let me ask you about what you were talking about. Do you find there is enormous hypocrisy when it comes to these johns, quote unquote, when they go to brothels?
HEIDI FLEISS, FORMER HOLLYWOOD MADAM (on phone): In this situation, it seems that he is a bit of a zealot and that is my take on it. But look it, come on, like he says, when the wife is away, the man is going to cheat. If the guy is going to cheat, he is going to cheat.
ABRAMS: Did you ever want to sort of an expose the people you felt were claiming to be something that they were not more than people who were more honest about it?
FLEISS: Well, it was never my job to expose anyone, and that was not my thing. And I tried not to get too involved in any of my clients‘ real lives.
ABRAMS: What do you make of the fact this quote, “DC madam” unquote, has this list that is slowly leaking out.
FLEISS: It goes against all my principles. But who knows. For some crazy reason she feels a need to do it and I don‘t even know why someone would keep a list. You know, it is a devil in a blue dress. She‘s got evil intent from the beginning.
ABRAMS: Did you have politicians who came to your service?
FLEISS: Come on.
ABRAMS: Of course.
FLEISS: Put it this way—politicians usually are not the richest people in the world, but yes, sure.
ABRAMS: You gave them a discount.
FLEISS: No, no discounts from me. But I dealt with the one percent of wealthiest people in the entire world.
ABRAMS: I have got to ask you about your latest venture. You started a laundromat called the dirty laundry.
FLEISS: Oh, yes. It could be the first of many. This is an interim. I live in Nevada, and I and doing the interim - I will get the stud farm built.
ABRAMS: The male studs, right?
FLEISS: I‘m selling men for the women. And they are not going to be men in bikinis and baby oil.
ABRAMS: So the laundromat is really just a side project?
FLEISS: Yes. Yes. But it could be the first of many like McDonald‘s or something.
ABRAMS: That would be huge.
ABRAMS: Heidi Fleiss, thanks a lot for calling in. We appreciate it.
FLEISS: Thank you.
ABRAMS: Up next, new developments in the Chris Benoit wrestling murders, some toxicology reports are now in, plus we‘ll be joined by our biggest and most star-studded panel of wrestlers yet as we break down exactly what happened during Chris Benoit‘s final hours.
And later, man bites Wolf. CNN‘s Blitzer gets blitzed by Michael Moore. I take some artistic license and conduct my own interview in “Beat the Press.”
ABRAMS: There are new developments in a murder-suicide investigation and involving former star wrestler Chris Benoit. Authorities now saying that some of the toxicology reports performed on the bodies of Chris Benoit, his wife, Nancy, and his son, Daniel, are now completed.
They are not yet commented on what those tests show. These tests could be crucial in determining a motive in the gruesome murder-suicide, and we will be able to say for sure whether steroids were found in his body. We have got an panel of big name former wrestlers here tonight top talk about the new developments, but first, let us quickly check in with John Jay College forensics expert Dr. Larry Kobilinsky who joins us now on the phone. Dr. Kobilinsky, what sorts of tests do you think are back already?
DR. LARRY KOBILINSKY, DNA AND FORENSIVE EXPERT (on phone): Well, tox labs that are involved with criminal investigations do screening procedures, and the first tests generally look for either drugs or poisons, commonly drugs of abuse, consist of things like ethanol, cocaine, opiates, marijuana, barbiturates, things of that sort, amphetamines, but steroids is not one of those drugs that are typically tested for in a screening.
ABRAMS: So to determine the steroids, we may have to wait a little bit longer.
KOBILINSKY: I would say so, because you have to go to the sample. You have got to extract the drug. You have to confirm it yet quantify it. That is going to take a little time.
ABRAMS: All right. Larry Kobilinsky, thanks a lot. Let us bring in our all-star panel for former wrestlers.
The living legend, Bruno Sammartino, one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. He held the title of world heavyweight champion eight years, a record that stands today. Also, joining us another wrestling legend, Superstar Billy Graham who held the title of heavyweight champion in 1977 and inspired the likes of Hulk Hogan and Jesse Ventura. He is the author of the book to a “Tangled Ropes.”
And Marc Mero, also known as Johnny B. Bad and Wildman Marc Mero. He wrestled with Chris Benoit and was a friend of his as well. All right. Great to have all of you on. We appreciate it.
Bruno, let me start with you. We have not talked about the facts of this case and about the broader implications here.
We are waiting on the toxicology reports to come back. We do not know exactly what is going to be in them, but is it to say that in a case like this, with a wrestler like Benoit, which are likely to find some sort of cocktail of drugs?
BRUNO SAMMARTINO, FORMER PRO WRESTLER: Well, you know, when we look at what has happened so far, and we hear what was confiscated from this doctor who was prescribing him to every three or four weeks 10 months‘ worth of anabolic steroids and something like 1 million pills, I believe, I read, in one year‘s time, until the reports of command, and of course, you can speculate, but I would say that the chances are enormously great that something will be there, because it is a known fact that the man was using all of these different drugs, so who knows, after using it for a long period of time, I mean, I don‘t know, I‘m not a doctor but certainly, it can affect the brain, and God only knows what can happen.
ABRAMS: Bruno, when you‘re wrestling, where it steroids not nearly as prevalent as there are today?
SAMMARTINO: Absolutely not. I‘m sure there were some steroid users, I‘m not going to tell you there weren‘t but I know when I retired in 1981 there were people who are using some, but when I came back as a color commentator, back in 1984, September 1984, it was rampant. It blew me away, because it seemed like, I do not want to condemn everybody, but it seemed that most everybody was on them.
ABRAMS: All right. Superstar Billy Graham, you are someone who has admitted to doing steroids back in the day. Did you think back when you‘re wrestling there were more wrestler‘s having problems related to steroids or other drugs and people just didn‘t make the connection?
“SUPERSTAR” BILLY GRAHAM, FORMER PRO WRESTLER: Well, before I address that question, let me say hello to Bruno and how good you look and television and, I‘m sure as well, in person. And I want to say hello to my friend, Marc.
ABRAMS: You guys had a rivalry, you and Bruno?
GRAHAM: Before I get into the rivalry - tomorrow night, when I am back on the show with my wife, I do not want to share any air time with that pig pimp prostitute Heidi Fleiss who is probably infected with AIDS.
ABRAMS: We have got to throw out a few libelous comments before be continue, right?
GRAHAM: You‘ve got a rest (ph) to run here.
But you know, Dan, the steroid issue here, we are liable to find huge amounts in Benoit‘s system despite the fact that he tested clean April 10th for testosterone, high levels of testosterone. So there is a good chance that knowing that they found a stockpile of steroids in his home, there is a very good chance that there is going to be steroids in his system.
ABRAMS: Let me do this. I have to take a break. Marc Mero, I apologize. I am going to check in with you in just a minute. Everyone is sticking around.
Up next, new information emerging about the final hours of Chris Benoit‘s life and that of his family.
We will lay out what we know about those final moments coming up next. And later tonight, the big winner of the day was either cycling, lifting weights, or eating donuts like Homer Simpson.
A roundup of the day‘s winners and losers coming up next.
ABRAMS: We will get back to our all-star wrestling panel in a moment, but first, we put together an hour by hour timeline of WWE star Chris Benoit‘s final hours based on what we know from investigators and other reports and sources, etc.
All right. According to investigators, some time Friday afternoon, June 22nd, Chris Benoit visits his personal doctor, Phil Astin. After that visit, he arrives time, and according to a report in the “National Enquirer” begins arguing with his wife Nancy about his recent wrestling road trips and how it affected the raising of their son Daniel.
Investigators say sometime that evening, Benoit murders Nancy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT BALLARD, FAYETTE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: The wife was bound on her feet, and I think, also on her wrists. There was some blood under her head. As far as I know, those were the only signs of a struggle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: As Friday night turns into Saturday morning, various outlets report distraught Benoit downs beers and painkillers, and the “Enquirer” reports he attempted to keep his son away from Nancy‘s body, possibly secluding him in an upstairs playroom.
He then places a groggy phone call to a co-worker saying he would be late to their event in Texas that night and ends the call by saying, “I love you.” Then, he receives a phone call from another co-worker and explains that his wife and son are sick from food poisoning. It is at that point Saturday morning that investigators say Benoit kills his son Daniel, strangling him with a chokehold in his bedroom. A disturbing scene the district attorney described in detail on this program.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BALLARD: Posters of his dad on the wall. Over on the chair by the bed were two toy championship wrestling belts, and on a shelf was a miniature wrestling action figure about a foot tall.
It was obvious that he adored his dad. To walk into the room, particularly the little boy‘s room, it left all kinds of emotions—bewilderment, intense anger and some sadness as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: With the murders of his son and what complete, Benoit then proceeds to fire off a series of cryptic text messages Sunday morning described by Vince McMahon on “The Today Show.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VINCE MCMAHON, WWE CHAIRMAN: There were text messages to two of his friends early, early Sunday morning at like 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning. They were very strange. Another reason to contact the authorities but it was things like the side door is open, things of that nature, the dogs are corralled in the pool, a very strange.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: At this point, early Sunday morning, the “Enquirer” reports Benoit finishes off the last of his wine and painkillers, heads downstairs to his personal gym, and hangs himself on his own weight machine where he was found.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BALLARD: You are familiar with weights that are attached to a pulley. It was the cord on the weights.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: It is not until the next day that authorities made a trip to Benoit‘s home, discovering the bodies, the drugs, and another strange detail that has added to the mystery.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BALLARD: There was a Bible placed beside the body of each of the victims, and I thought that was somewhat bizarre.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: All right. Marc Mero, look you knew this guy. You know Benoit.
We have laid it out. The bibles, possibly the drinking and the drugs.
What do you make of that?
MARC MERO, FORMER PRO WRESTLER: It‘s bizarre. This was obviously a very sick man in his last days, and that is why I think you are going to see a whole host of drugs in his system, not just steroids. I think that is one of the least things that is going to appear to be the motive for this, or why he did this, but you are going to see other drugs, especially alcohol and pain medicine and who knows what you are going to find in his system but you are going to find a lot of things.
But right now wrestling fans are really starting to speak up because by speaking up, they are tuning out. Yesterday‘s “Monday Night Raw” was the lowest rated non holiday “Raw” in three years. Vince McMahon has got to show character, step up to plate and admit there are problems in the world of professional wrestling and do something about it, or we are going to start seeing hearings on Capitol Hill.
ABRAMS: Billy Graham, I‘ve only got 30 seconds in this block, but what do you make of the bibles?
GRAHAM: I make of the bibles that there was a lot of remorse, a lot of contrition. He realized what he did, and bibles, more than two or three probably in the house tells me he does have a religious connection and believed that he was going to take this child and his wife to a better place, and another thing. And another thing, I would not believe one word that “The Enquirer” would report, a rag mag. You‘re better than that, Dan Abrams. I believe what you report and not the “Enquirer.” You‘re the man here. You are the man.
ABRAMS: Thank you but I‘ll tell you “The Enquirer” while sometimes wrong is very often right. The panel is going to stay with us. Up next, we will give them a chance to talk to a congressman who wants to investigate steroid use in pro wrestling. They will weigh in on whether a congressional probe will help. That‘s next.
ABRAMS: The gruesome murder-suicide involving former wrestling star Chris Benoit threatening to blow the doors off of the reported steroids epidemic in professional wrestling. Benoit‘s death and the indictment of the personal doctor has exposed suspected drug use.
In the sport a startling 89 wrestlers have died before the age of 50 over the last 20 years, many linked to steroid use. Now one congressman is saying enough is enough, urging his colleagues to launch hearings on the issue. Our all-star panel of former wrestlers has some questions for him.
So we are joined now by former—we‘re joined now by former—not former,
he‘s a Florida Republican congressman, Cliff Stearns. And he is urging
Congressman, thanks a lot for coming on the program, appreciate it.
REP. CLIFF STEARNS ®, FLORIDA: Dan, glad to be here.
ABRAMS: All right. So what do we need the hearings for?
STEARNS: Well, first of all, I think most Americans should realize that the 1988 Drug Abuse Act makes it a felony to distribute steroids and also a misdemeanor, one year in jail, for using them. And also, I think many Americans should realize that a lot of children look at this professional wrestling.
In fact, the National Institute for Media and Family said over a million children under the age of 11 are listening to and watching the program, as well as 25 percent of the program as children under the age of 17.
But most importantly, I think a lot of the professional wrestlers are saying this today, that it is rampant with steroids, and a lot of young men under 50 years old are dying prematurely, not necessarily all because of steroids, but a lot of them because of steroids.
ABRAMS: And look, and this is something Marc Mero said on this program again and again, is it is time to regulate. But let me let some of our former pro wrestlers ask some questions. Let us bat this around a little bit. Bruno Sammartino is with us.
Bruno, have you got any questions for the congressman?
BRUNO SAMMARTINO, FORMER PRO WRESTER: Well, no. I would just like to say to the congressman that what has been puzzling me tremendously is that 25 years ago, I was very outspoken. I appeared on many television shows such as “Larry King” and “Donahue” and “Geraldo Rivera,” “Inside Edition,” you name it, I was on all of them, because already there had been a few deaths in wrestling, and they were drug-related.
Back then I was trying to bring attention to it, because I felt that if something was not done then, that those numbers will grow and grow and grow, and today, there are numbers by different—that have reported over 90 wrestlers that have died.
Now what bothered me with the congressman, I have to ask, is that here we see investigations going on in baseball, football (INAUDIBLE) and well, it is great that there are doing that, but there have not been no deaths reported in these sports.
In wrestling, there have been over 90 deaths reported, and why is it that they do not find it important to truly, truly investigate what is going on, because if they expect that wrestling will police itself, it is a joke of all the jokes, because the head of the organization himself is an admitted steroid user.
So if the head of the organization uses steroids, are you going to believe that they are going to do drug testing—legitimate drug testing to its performers? It‘s a joke.
ABRAMS: Congressman, why has it taken so long, is the question.
STEARNS: Well, I think a lot of people look at baseball, football and basketball, these are professional sports just like the Olympics has the World Anti-Doping Agency, which checks out all of the steroids in our athletes.
But World Wrestling—professional wrestling is an entertainment form of broadcast. And I think a lot of Americans thought, well, it is entertainment, so we can allow them to do whatever they want. It‘s their bodies. And they have sort of a different standard.
But I think—at this point, I think we should try to have a hearing to understand better what the ramifications of this rampant the use of steroids in professional wrestling is about.
BILLY GRAHAM, FORMER PRO WRESTLER: Let me jump in, Dan.
ABRAMS: Go ahead.
GRAHAM: Oh, I‘m sorry, go ahead.
ABRAMS: Go ahead, Bill Graham.
GRAHAM: OK. Yes, let me jump in. First of all, I‘d like to applaud Marc Mero, because I think this congressman on your show right now, Dan, needs to hook up with Marc Mero, because Marc has committed himself. And I applaud this man for his convictions and his passion to do something about steroids in a high schools and colleges in the state of Florida.
And Marc Mero is going to tag team with the governor of Florida and go to colleges and go to high schools and make a real difference. And I applaud Marc Mero for that commitment and your passion.
MARC MERO, FORMER PRO WRESTLER: Thank you, Billy.
GRAHAM: I am very proud of you, sir. Very proud of you. And the congressman should get a hold of you, and the three of you, along with the governor, you will get something done in the state of Florida, buddy.
ABRAMS: Let me ask you this—and, Marc, let me ask—look, the response sometimes is what the congressman was saying, which is, it is not a real sport. There is no real winner or loser. It is pre-ordained. It is scripted.
GRAHAM: But, Dan, excuse me, Dan, there are real people.
SAMMARTINO: Doesn‘t the law apply to all?
ABRAMS: Sorry, go ahead.
SAMMARTINO: Doesn‘t the law apply to all? What does that mean, it‘s entertainment?
ABRAMS: It means—no, no, it means that when you are evaluating which sports to investigate in Congress, that professional wrestling may be treated like “entertainment” as opposed to like a sport.
SAMMARTINO: But the law is the law.
MERO: You know, I also—I think it‘s that, you know, sometimes we have these cartoon names. We have these action figures that we are supposed to look like, and people do not take us really seriously. But in Major League Baseball, when Congress subpoenas these baseball players, they are having hearings on Capitol Hill, these guys are just hitting a few extra homers. We are dying.
And I want to correct you. There are 104 wrestlers, I have the list, that have died in the last 10 years. Something needs to be done. And I‘ve got to tell you, we have got to start looking at the wrestlers that are currently wrestling. Let us look at their doctors and what they are getting prescribed right now.
GRAHAM: And by the way, that list is far more important than the list that the D.C. madam happens to have. The list that Marc Mero has.
ABRAMS: All right. Enough with the D.C. madam.
GRAHAM: . is death.
ABRAMS: Enough. Enough with the D.C. madam.
GRAHAM: Oh, no, no, no, oh, no, his list is more important. This is life and death here that Marc is touching on, and these are real—even though we are characters, we are real human beings. Even though we perform soap opera-type scenarios with scripted lines and a carnival-like atmosphere, we are real human beings, and they are dropping dead like flies, so Marc Mero is right here.
STEARNS: Dan, I would like to just jump in here if I could for a second. When we had the baseball and football and basketball hearings, when I was chairman of the Commerce Consumer Protection and Trade, now we are the minority, I‘m a ranking member, we had huge influence on baseball.
They adopted our three strikes and you are out policy. I tried to get them to adopt a policy that the World Anti-Doping Agency had for our athletes who are Olympic athlete competitors. But they would not do that.
But we had huge influence on them, and I am saying that if we had a hearing to find out what is going on, simply find out what is going on, we could have an influence so that they start testing these athletes into protect themselves.
ABRAMS: Before I go back to talking specifically about the Benoit case, I want to ask Billy Graham, Billy, what are the long-term effects steroids had for you?
GRAHAM: Dan, I have suffered catastrophic bone loss and degeneration. I have had six hip replacements. My spine has collapsed four inches. When I was wrestling Bruno in Madison Square Garden, and selling that building out against Bruno Sammartino, who never has taken a steroid in his life, the man was so charismatic and so loved and beloved by millions of fans around the San—or rather, the New York area.
I was the only one taking steroids. And the long-term prolonged term, used in heavy doses, caused avascular necrosis of my bone joints, which means it‘s the death of the bone. No blood supply. The blood supply is shut off. The bone dies. My spine has collapsed four inches. I was 6”4‘ when I was wrestling Bruno Sammartino, the true living legend of professional wrestling. And now I am 6‘ tall. I have to sit most of the time.
My—both ankles have been fused. My hips have been replaced. I am an absolute wreck from anabolic steroids.
ABRAMS: Bruno, at the time, did you know at the time that Billy Graham was taking steroids?
SAMMARTINO: Yes, and you know what? I just appreciate very, very much what he just said, and I will tell you why. Because he just did a great service to the youth of America, because like the congressman said, young kids know about steroids. And they at some of these people as heroes and they want to emulate them and be like them.
And they have to understand from people like Billy what these things can do to you. And you know what? The parents should take responsibility, because the parents take their children 6, 7, 8, 9 years old, to these shows and they know very well that—they have read enough about what is going on here that you would think that they would be a little more responsible in showing their kids the dos and the don‘ts.
ABRAMS: All right. Let me ask you this. We are talking a lot about steroids here, and as you all know, the WWE has been steering people away from the issue of steroids in connection with Benoit. They are not saying that he wasn‘t taking steroids. They are saying he took a test and he passed and that there are other issues here. And I have to say that there is one thing that has come up lately.
And I want to ask you first, Billy Graham, about this, and that is that the obituary for Nancy, Benoit‘s wife, urges people to send donations to the Nancy and Daniel Benoit Foundation for Battered Women and Abused Children. It sure sounds like the family is saying, hey, we think the problem here was that he was a domestic batterer.
GRAHAM: Yes, Dan, it certainly does. And tomorrow night when I am back on your show with my wife, Valerie (ph), she will address this issue head on. And last year at a pay-per-view event in Baltimore, Maryland, we were backstage on my book tour, and Valerie was talking with Nancy Benoit, and the conversation—Valerie remembers the quote, and I‘ve written the quote down about her—the state of her marriage one year ago.
Nancy Benoit, speaking to my wife Valerie, Nancy Benoit saying, as much as I enjoyed my time in wrestling, including working with Billy, I do not miss it at all. This is the best time in my life, being a wife and a mother. I guess I am just a boring, old housewife and loving it. So, there is a lot of conflict with this.
ABRAMS: Marc, did you want to get in?
STEARNS: Dan, I just wanted to.
ABRAMS: Oh, the congressman, yes.
STEARNS: . if I could, Billy Graham, what he said was just what Americans should hear. One thing he failed to mention was that steroids cause suicidal tendencies, and during a hearing, I had a young man who was 17 years old, took steroids over a period of four months, and because his baseball coach told him if he was going to go to the big leagues, he had to gain weight and strength, and it turns out taking those steroids, he admittedly took these steroids and he committed suicide.
ABRAMS: And Bruno Sammartino, part of the problem here is the doctors, right, is it not?
SAMMARTINO: Well, in the case like this, frankly, I knew one doctor was supplying the guys, his name was Dr. Jaharian (ph), and he was—he went to jail for three—I don‘t know, three or four years because he was a supplier. I do not know how many doctors out there are doing this, but, golly, this one doctor now that is doing all of the supplying that we are doing with the Benoit situation, I think that people like this, anytime you find one of them, they should be disbarred as far as doctors.
And you know—but I always heard, though, that—steroids, especially, that they can be gotten very easily in gyms and different places. So I do not think that it‘s necessarily they are getting them all from doctors.
ABRAMS: Marc—real quick, Marc, do you think Phil Astin is going to be linked to other wrestlers?
MERO: Absolutely. Absolutely. The pressure to perform at this level is unrivaled in any other sport. And these guys are taking steroids. There are taking too much pain medication, and not just his doctor, but many more doctors are going to be found guilty.
ABRAMS: All right.
STEARNS: And, Dan—Dan.
ABRAMS: Real quick. I‘ve—Congressman, I‘ve just actually got to wrap it up. But let me just say this—Congressman Cliff Stearns, thank you very much for coming on the program.
Let me say this to Bruno Sammartino, Billy Graham and Marc Mero, you know, you guys talked about the fact that they are sort of cartoonish figures, et cetera. You guys have been really intelligent, really thoughtful, and I think have done a real service by coming out and speaking about these issues. And I truly appreciate the conversation we have had, and I appreciate you all coming on the program. Thanks a lot.
SAMMARTINO: Thank you.
GRAHAM: You are welcome. Thank you.
ABRAMS: Still ahead, a reporter makes headlines for all the wrong reasons, wearing a bikini while at a pool with a man at the center of a missing persons case. That person was his wife. The reporter‘s competitors caught it all on tape. Uh-oh.
But first, two people you might never want to see in a bikini, Michael Moore and Wolf Blitzer, their heated on-air battle and my spin on it up next.
ABRAMS: Time for tonight‘s “Beat the Press,” our daily look back at the absurd and sometimes amusing perils of live T.V. Tonight a special edition of “Beat the Press” devoted entirely to Michael Moore‘s heated interview last night with Wolf Blitzer on CNN.
I‘ve taken a little artistic liberty and made this interview my own, in the way I think most people would probably prefer to see it, quick.
Michael Moore, thank you for joining me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL MOORE, DIRECTOR, “SICKO”: Why are we here? That is the question?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: We are here because I want an answer to the question all Americans are asking tonight. Would you agree to be bound and gagged with duct tape for a David Blaine-like underwater experiment?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOORE: There is no taping with me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: That‘s what I feared. Are you going to get up and walk away and refuse to answer the crucial questions about how you became the smartest guy on the planet?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOORE: I‘ll sit here for as long as it takes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: OK. Then let me tell you something. You are not that smart, and your movies, while thought-provoking, are filled with inaccuracies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOORE: So for me to have to sit here and listen again to more crap, you are the ones who are fudging the facts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Hey, don‘t make this about fudge. If you need to respond, you can. Do you really need to?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOORE: I would like about 10 minutes to respond.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Well, i am sorry. We are out of time. Thank you for joining us.
Up next, a reporter seen hanging out in a bikini with a man in the center of a high- profile missing persons case. Yikes, I‘ll bet you can guess whether she is one of today‘s winners or losers. That‘s coming up.
ABRAMS (voice-over): Time for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers.” Tenth day of July, 2007. Our first winner, Kent Couch (ph), who enjoyed a Willie Wonka moment after he tied more than a hundred helium balloons to a lawn chair and soared for almost 200 miles and nine hours before landing softly in a field in Idaho.
Our first loser, Tour de France bikers who landed none too softly on each other just miles from the tour‘s second stage finish line in Belgium.
Winner, Springfield, Vermont, today the town of 9,000 beat out 13 other Springfields to become the official Springfield of “The Simpsons” fame. In addition to being bestowed the honor of hosting “The Simpsons” movie premier, they will forever be home to the most dysfunctional, pathetic and polluted town on television.
Loser, 13 other Springfields across America who wasted taxpayer dollars unsuccessfully creating videotapes to prove themselves worthy of the dubious distinction. Springfield, Illinois, even shamed its power plant director, gloating he resembled Homer Simpson‘s nemesis, Burns.
But our big winner, big guys, shocker. A new UCLA study shows that women are more attracted to muscular men, offering more unneeded encouragement to studs to remove their shirts.
Our big loser, WMAQ Chicago reporter Amy Jacobson, fired today after she removed her shirt. A videotape showed her clad in a bikini top at the home of a man whose wife went missing on April 30th.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amy Jacobson, NBC 5 News.
ABRAMS: Now this is a serious story. Craig Stebic was the last person to see his wife Lisa alive. The couple was in the process of getting divorced. And Lisa was moving to evict her husband from their home. Her blood reportedly found on a tarp recovered from his car.
He is not talking to police but appeared to be talking to local reporter Amy Jacobson. Here now is MSNBC media analyst Steve Adubato.
All right. Steve, look, it‘s bad, right? I mean, it is obviously bad. She is at the guy‘s house, she‘s wearing a bikini. She‘s there with her kids, et cetera. How bad?
STEVE ADUBATO, MSNBC MEDIA ANALYST: Horrible. I have to tell you, Dan, there are some gray areas in our business. What is a conflict of interest? Where is there an ethical lapse? How could it be that Amy Jacobson is covering the story with this woman gone, I mean, since April 30th.
She has some sort of social relationship with this guy, Craig Stebic. She‘s—apparently, the neighbors say that she has been there several times. The question becomes, how does she not go to her boss? How does she not say, listen, I have got to get off this story, I am personally involved. I can‘t report with objectivity. We are talking about someone who may potentially have been involved in his wife‘s disappearance, if not worse than that.
ABRAMS: Yes. And you know, look, I said this to you when we were talking before, but I have covered a lot of stories. And I want to get the big interviews, right? And you know, I will go hang out with people sometimes. I‘ll go hang out with the lawyers involved, et cetera.
I went to Scott Peterson‘s door and knocked on his door to try and get him to do an interview with me. I can assure you I would not have taken off my top and decided to hang out and swim a few laps with Scott Peterson at his pool. I mean, it‘s just—it‘s almost that it‘s common sense, I mean, particularly when you have got a guy who is at the—whatever—whatever they are calling him.
He is at the center of an important investigation into a missing woman and she is hanging out at the pool with him sort of casually.
ADUBATO: What was she thinking? How could she not think it wouldn‘t become public? How could she not think her employers wouldn‘t find out that the competitors, the affiliate, the folks competing had that video they went with it? How could she not believe that we wouldn‘t be talking about it on national television?
I cannot believe—and I want to be fair to a colleague here. I cannot believe, Dan, that she didn‘t believe it was going to happen, and that she wouldn‘t be embarrassed. And I‘ll tell you what else, it hurts everyone who is a journalist who actually might be in a position to make a judgment call about getting closer to someone to get an interview.
That‘s not what she did here. She got involved in a story, never disclosed it, it should never have been reported on it after that. And frankly, since she was.
ABRAMS: But the question then would be—the question would be, how well did she know him? I mean, look, she can develop a relationship with the guy, right? In an effort to get the big interview or to get information, et cetera.
ADUBATO: Hang out of his house with the kids with a bathing suit?
ABRAMS: Well, that‘s the issue. That‘s the difference.
ADUBATO: That‘s way beyond the line. That‘s not some—that‘s not a marginal thing. You get to know Peterson. You may get the big get. That‘s not about that here. This guy is clearly—if not a suspect, someone they are looking at. As you said, you don‘t do anything like this. You get your kids involved. It‘s on video. It‘s unbelievably bad. Her credibility is shot. I don‘t see how she gets back on the air after this.
ABRAMS: Yes, well, and you learned your lesson. I mean, you know, they had tapped Scott Peterson‘s phones. They had all my phone calls to him as well. So.
ADUBATO: Yes, you have got to know these things.
ABRAMS: You have got to accept the fact that when someone is at the center of an investigation, you are going to be watched.
ADUBATO: At least.
ADUBATO: How about, they are hearing her, now they see her. It‘s even worse.
ABRAMS: Let me just put up the—this is serious. But let me put up the tip line real quick in this story. This is if anyone has any information about Lisa Stebic, 815-267-7217.
Steve Adubato, thanks a lot. Good to see you.
ADUBATO: Thank you, Dan.
ABRAMS: That‘s it for tonight. Up next, MSNBC goes inside the North Carolina Women‘s Prison where there are 1,100 inmates doing hard time and some willingly discuss one of the topics many prisoners are reluctant to discuss and that is, love behind bars.
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