Guests: Paul Rieckhoff, Gina Parosa, Brad Blakeman
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Tonight: Disorderly Republican senator Larry Craig‘s spokesperson says, quote, “The most likely scenario by far is that by October, there will be a new senator from Ohio (SIC).” So now we have sort of almost kind of closure to the most scrutinized bathroom brush in American political history.
Knowing that the public was demanding a definitive answer, communications director Dan Whiting decided to clarify it once and for all, saying, “He simply left a very, very small door slightly ajar.” One day he‘s resigning, then not resigning, then resigned to thinking about resigning, and now we have not so cryptic clues about most likely scenarios. It just seems the man wants to leave as much room as possible for that wide stance of his.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SGT. DAVE KARSNIA, MINNEAPOLIS POLICE: I‘m not going to bring you in.
SEN. LARRY CRAIG ®, IDAHO: You solicited me.
And I believe I can still be an effective leader for our state. I chose to plead guilty to a lesser charge in hopes of making it go away.
It is with sadness and deep regret that I announce that it is my intent to resign from the Senate effective September 30.
This is Larry Craig calling.
reshape my statement a little bit to say it is my intent to resign on September 30.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He‘s had second thoughts about whether he should throw in the towel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Let‘s bring in NBC‘s congressional correspondent, Mike Viqueira. All right, Mike. So where are we now? We are at the door is slightly just a little bit...
MIKE VIQUEIRA, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
ABRAMS: ... tiny bit, maybe a little ajar?
VIQUEIRA: Yes. If you‘d like another variation, he‘s all but certain to finish his term and resign by September 30, which, as you know, was his intent, not something he necessarily would do but his intent, as he announced it in Boise last Saturday.
The spokesman says that there are two things that would stop him from carrying through this intent. One was to see the conviction to which he—of course, he had the guilty plea. He was convicted of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor charge. If that were somehow overturned, I believe is the word that he‘s using now—overturned—and if he were to come back to Washington and Republican leaders were to give him back his key committee assignments on some of these pivotal committees here in Congress...
ABRAMS: Yes. OK.
VIQUEIRA: ... which even the spokesman says is unlikely, then...
ABRAMS: Right. Well, let me—I‘ll give the legal analysis, Mike, and then I‘ll let you take over the political analysis.
ABRAMS: All right?
VIQUEIRA: All right.
ABRAMS: Overturned—not going to happen by September 30. Now, is it possible that he‘d be able to sort of get to take it back? Still, a super long shot.
ABRAMS: I‘m guessing the political answer as to whether they‘re going to—these guys want to get rid of him. The notion they‘re going to give him back his committee leadership positions is almost laughable.
VIQUEIRA: Right. And you know, we understand today that they haven‘t even filed the necessary papers in Minnesota. Perhaps that‘s going to come tomorrow.
You know, if you look at this with a jaundiced eye, and a lot of us do have a jaundiced eye and a Machiavellian aspect to this, maybe Larry Craig is somehow trying to get the press to stop talking about Larry Craig through his spokesman, leading everyone to believe this is over. Therefore, there will be less pressure on Republican leaders in Congress. And every time Mitch McConnell pokes his nose off the Senate chamber, 10 reporters aren‘t going to ask him about Larry Craig. Perhaps that takes some pressure off Larry Craig, gives him some room to maneuver. That‘s the Machiavellian view.
VIQUEIRA: In the absence of any other firm information, let‘s just say he‘s all but certain to leave on September 30 because those criteria laid down by his spokesman today seem to be almost unmeetable.
ABRAMS: Well, I look forward to watching that door to see if it still remains just a kind of little bit tiny maybe...
VIQUEIRA: Yes, very, very small...
ABRAMS: ... something ajar.
VIQUEIRA: ... door, slightly ajar.
ABRAMS: All right. Mike Viqueira, as always, thanks a lot.
VIQUEIRA: All right, Dan.
ABRAMS: The Bush administration has been suggesting that violence in Iraq is down, but is it really? “The Washington Post” reports that General Petraeus, top commander in Iraq, is expected to announce a 75 percent decrease in sectarian attacks. What does that really mean? Earlier this week, we highlighted the administration‘s changing definition of success in Iraq. Now it seems the military may be changing the definition of what violence in Iraq means.
My take. Even if the Iraq Study Group—even they—they recognized that there was a significant underreporting of violence. But what really worries me is the possibility that the numbers could be cooked, that the military could be cherry picking statistics that don‘t give an accurate assessment of the trends. I don‘t want to hear General Petraeus tell us definitively about a reduction in violence if there‘s simply no way to know it, or worse, the possibility that there‘s actually been an increase in violence, but they‘ve only chosen to look selectively at the realities on the ground.
Joining me now, MSNBC military analyst and retired colonel Jack Jacobs, and Paul Rieckhoff, founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
All right. Jack, let me ask you first. Are we going to get a cooked report?
COL. JACK JACOBS, U.S. ARMY (RET.), MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST: Well, they‘re trying hard not to cook it, but because they don‘t have a handle on the violence—there are so many bad guys chasing after so many other bad guys, groups splintering, killing civilians, and so on—that it‘s impossible for them to get a handle on it. And they‘re trying to get a handle on it. As a result...
ABRAMS: So there‘s no way to judge? I mean, there‘s got to be a way to judge whether the violence has increased or decreased, I mean, even broadly, right?
JACOBS: Well, in specific areas—we know that in, for example, Anbar province, violence is down dramatically, but it‘s up in and around Basra and in the north. So it‘s impossible to tell. There are so many different groups fighting each other that the only way you can—the only way you can get any handle on it is to just say, Look, there is a lot of violence and...
ABRAMS: So you think Petraeus shouldn‘t say it‘s down 75 percent?
JACOBS: No. No. He should say there‘s—violence is down in Anbar province, it‘s up other places. It‘s very, very difficult. And unless and until we can get control of the security situation, things are going to at least remain the same, if not get worse.
ABRAMS: All right. Paul, let me read you this. This is from “The Washington Post” article, quoting a senior intelligence official. This is number one. “If a bullet went through the back of the head, it‘s considered sectarian. If it went through the front, it‘s considered criminal.” And so then when we‘re going to hear reports about reductions in sectarian violence, it seems like a pretty random way to judge whether violence is down.
PAUL RIECKHOFF, IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN VETERANS OF AMERICA: I think that‘s exactly right. And I think Colonel Jacobs is right, as well. I mean, it depends on who you ask. What I saw on the ground as a soldier is that when you saw a group of dead guys by the side of the street, you generally couldn‘t figure out who killed them. You didn‘t know if it was a criminal element, if it was sectarian, if it was al Qaeda, if it was American soldiers.
A lot of people on the ground don‘t have ID cards. There‘s no computerized tracking system inside the morgues and the hospitals. And it‘s really tough to track violence. It‘s tough to track civilian casualties. The only reliable data I think we can start to get is attacks on Americans, and those aren‘t necessarily reliable, either, because for example, in August, it‘s 130 degrees over there. Everything tends to slow down in the middle of summer in Iraq.
ABRAMS: Well, but also—but I mean, look at these—you know, we‘ve got these statistics from August of—since 2003 about U.S. casualties, right? I mean, that we can count...
ABRAMS: ... with a good amount of certainty. And there we see 2003, 35; 2004, 66; 2005, 85; 2006, 65; and 2007, 84. So you know, Jack, certainly, when it comes to U.S. casualties—that‘s not the only barometer—but violence isn‘t down. Now, I guess the argument would be when you‘ve got this surge, when you‘re going in and trying to extricate the bad guys, you may end up with more casualties.
JACOBS: Well, I would argue that the number of casualties reflect a slightly higher pace of operations. But I would expect to see, if you really want to do the job, get a lot of Americans in there and then really do the job, and then you would have a much higher rate of casualties. This indicates business as usual, to be quite honest.
ABRAMS: Paul, do you think that Petraeus is going to get up there and say, literally, 75 percent down when it comes to sectarian violence and not qualify it?
RIECKHOFF: I hope not because that would be cherry picking. We‘ve seen incremental rises and we‘ve seen falls. This has been a roller-coaster throughout. But overall, the general trend line has been down. Violence has been up. Civilian casualties have been up. Over two million refugees have left the country. And in many ways, the country has started to fragment into three separate parts along sectarian lines. So it may be a settling before another storm that we see in a month or two.
ABRAMS: I hate to be a lawyer about this, and I guess that‘s kind of what I‘m being here, Jack, but this is important stuff. I mean, you can‘t just throw around the term violence being down and not have a definition behind it. Real quick.
JACOBS: Well, all violence is violence. At the end of the day, it‘s all the same to people in Iraq. If you don‘t get control of all the violence, no matter who‘s causing it, then the government of Iraq is not going to be able to...
ABRAMS: I really hope...
ABRAMS: I really hope that on Monday, we get specifics, that we don‘t just get broad generalizations with numbers that we just can‘t rely on. So we shall see. All right. Colonel Jacobs, as always, appreciate it. Paul Rieckhoff, thanks for coming on.
RIECKHOFF: Thanks, Dan.
ABRAMS: Up next: There is breaking news, an incredible story that we‘re just getting in out of Oregon. A 76-year-old woman missing for more than two weeks has just been found injured but alive.
Plus: Fred Thompson has appeared in more than 100 episodes of “Law & Order.” But now that he‘s officially running for president, do those episodes really need to be pulled from all television mediums in fairness to the other candidates? Isn‘t that suggesting the public can‘t differentiate between the actor and his part?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES MANSON: I‘m not responsible for anyone‘s actions but my own actions!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: More of a bizarre and controversial interview with Charles Manson, including clips never publicly seen until tonight. We‘ll talk to the man who helped put Manson behind bars about the interview, coming up.
ABRAMS: Breaking tonight, a 76-year-old woman who disappeared for two weeks in the mountains of eastern Oregon—two weeks—has been found alive. Police say Doris Anderson suffered a hip injury but is conscious and alert. Family members had nearly given up hope. They were actually planning a memorial service for her this weekend.
Joining us with more details on this amazing rescue is Gina Parosa, a reporter with KEX radio in Oregon. Gina, what do we know?
GINA PAROSA, KEX RADIO: What we know is pretty much what you just said, Pete (SIC). They found her today. We don‘t know exactly how she managed to make herself heard, but she was alert, conscious, dehydrated, managed to catch the attention of someone passing through very steep, rugged terrain in Baker County. They immediately called for assistance, and they are—they have sent a helicopter rappel team in to get down to her and extricate her. She is injured. She has a hip injury. But she‘s awake. She‘s alive. It‘s really a remarkable story.
ABRAMS: How did they find her?
PAROSA: Not sure on that yet. Details are kind of few and far between at this point. All we know is that they had been searching intensely in an area nearby. They had not actually searched this area where she fell. They found her at the bottom of a ravine, where she had been waiting for 10 days for some sort of discovery. Today they found her, and they‘re going in to get her.
ABRAMS: Gina Parosa, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
PAROSA: My pleasure, Pete.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She‘s the intended victim.
FRED THOMPSON, “LAW & ORDER”: She‘s also one of the most polarizing people on the planet. I mean, 10 minutes of her bloviating, and the jury will forget why they‘re there and convict the SOB of bad aim!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That‘s it. Politics has infected every aspect of our culture to the point where I can‘t prosecute a murder the way it should be prosecuted without worrying about offending someone.
THOMPSON: Welcome to the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: He plays the tough, no-nonsense district attorney on NBC‘s “Law & Order.” Yesterday, Fred Thompson announced he‘s running for president, and he‘s already considered a frontrunner. But now some are calling for all of the “Law & Order” episodes where he appears to be pulled from network and cable TV. The federal equal time provision says broadcasters must give equal time to all candidates on the airwaves, a rule that even applies to entertainment programs like “Law & Order.” NBC has pulled “Law & Order” episodes where Thompson appears, but the rules don‘t officially apply to cable. Cable network TNT says they‘ll keep playing the episodes.
My take. So what? Let them keep airing the shows. Are we really suggesting the public is so impressionable that it‘s just patently unfair to allow them to even see Arthur Branch offering up legal guidance to Jack McCoy, two fictional characters on a TV show?
Joining us now, MSNBC media analyst Steve Adubato, and Brad Blakeman, president and CEO of Freedomswatch.org. All right. Don‘t call me Pete, by the way. I just want to make that clear.
ABRAMS: All right. Before we start, don‘t call me Pete. All right. Steve, what do you—I mean, what do you think? You really think that TNT‘s got to pull this because the public is going to get so consumed with Fred Thompson that it‘s going to be so unfair?
STEVE ADUBATO, MSNBC MEDIA ANALYST: Well, Dan, let me just say this. It‘s not about whether the public is smart enough or not. Arthur Branch is this likable guy, this tough DA from Manhattan. How could you not like this guy? TNT is going to run it 23 times...
ABRAMS: Oh, so if he played a bad guy, then you‘d be OK with it.
ADUBATO: No, but if he played a bad guy, I guarantee the Thompson people would not be saying, yes, we want this on the air.
ABRAMS: I don‘t care about the Thompson people. I‘m asking you as a media guy.
ADUBATO: It is unfair, and here‘s why. He gets a tremendous advantage based on this. And the—I‘m not going to call it the fairness doctrine. That‘s another debate. The equal time provision that the FCC put out, Dan, was based on a cable industry that wasn‘t what it is today.
When a show like “Saving Grace” beats out the networks, that means cable has to be looked at differently. And if it‘s good enough for the networks and NBC pulled it, why is it not good enough for TNT? It is wrong. He has an unfair advantage. And I‘m telling you, these candidates in the Republican Party are going to go crazy because they already resent the fact that Thompson waited so long to come in. Now he‘s supposed to be (INAUDIBLE) prosecutor.
ABRAMS: All right. Brad, but as a political matter, can they really come out—I mean, can you get Republican candidates coming out and saying they‘ve got to pull all the “Law & Order” episodes? Doesn‘t that make them seem kind of petty?
BRAD BLAKEMAN, FREEDOMSWATCH.ORGANIZATION: Well, not if you‘re Rudy Giuliani. I don‘t think Rudy wants “Saturday Night Live” to be rerunning his “Saturday Night Live” episodes with him running around in drag. So I think he‘s got a vested interest that equal time apply to cable.
But having said that, Dan, look, there are different rules for broadcast than there are for cable. FCC has left the door completely open on equal time for cable...
ABRAMS: Right. All right. But look...
BLAKEMAN: ... and I don‘t think that it should apply to cable, certainly not to Fred Thompson.
ABRAMS: Why? I mean, let‘s...
BLAKEMAN: Because the American people are smart enough...
ABRAMS: Yes, let‘s talk about that. Go ahead. I mean—I mean...
BLAKEMAN: The American people are smart enough to determine fact from fiction. Those people who like Fred Thompson as an actor may not like him as a president, and vice versa. They don‘t go into a ballot decision stating whether this guy is a good actor or not. Come on!
ABRAMS: When Arnold Schwarzenegger...
ADUBATO: Look, FX pulled him. He was pulled by some other cable networks. Five movies—get this—there were five movies that TNT ran while Arnold was running for governor, while the other cable stations that had the rights to them said no. And here‘s why, Dan. Forget about the actual provision in equal time. Think about the intent. And those stations were smart enough, and frankly, responsible enough to say, This isn‘t what we should be doing because it‘s unfair to the other candidates running for governor.
TNT is saying, Look, our economic livelihood is based on running these reruns because we bet the ranch on it, and it‘s unfair to us. The presidential campaign process, in my opinion, and the integrity of it is more important than them making money.
ABRAMS: I‘ve got to believe if you were Fred Grandy from “The Love Boat”...
ADUBATO: I knew you were going to do that!
ABRAMS: ... when you were running for Congress, right...
ADUBATO: Is this Gopher?
ABRAMS: Yes, Gopher. When Gopher from “The Love Boat” was running for Congress, he probably wanted to get rid of all the “Love Boat” episodes. But the bottom line is, they‘re actors. Actors! Is there something that‘s ambiguous about acting, Brad?
BLAKEMAN: Absolutely not. Again, the American people are smart. Don‘t sell them short. They understand fact from fiction. As a matter of fact, look how many cable stations there are, literally hundreds of them. Broadcast is a different story. We only have maybe a dozen broadcast stations. So I think people are smart enough. Let the American people decide on the issues. They‘re not—look at what the Democrats do with Hollywood. They embrace the Hollywood celebrity, but it means nothing at the ballot box.
ADUBATO: I knew the Democrats would take a hit, Brad. But let me just say this. In this situation, you‘ve got this guy, Arthur Branch, that everyone loves. The fact is, it is an unfair advantage because of the type of character. And (INAUDIBLE) forget about whether he‘s a criminal or not. the bottom line is, these candidates are going after him. I think there‘s going to be pressure on TNT. They‘re going to ultimately have to pull it, whether the original provision of the law said that cable should be involved or not, because there‘s going to be too much pressure.
ABRAMS: I think—I do not think that they‘re going to...
ADUBATO: You don‘t?
ABRAMS: I don‘t think so. I don‘t think they‘re going to give in.
What do you think?
ABRAMS: As a practical matter, Brad, do you think they‘ll give in?
BLAKEMAN: No. Absolutely. Absent a law to the contrary, why should they?
BLAKEMAN: It‘s a matter of freedom of contract. You know, when they negotiated these contracts between the owner of the program and the stations, they didn‘t know Fred Thompson was going to run for president. Why should they be penalized?
ADUBATO: It‘s a risk you take.
ABRAMS: All right.
ADUBATO: Come on.
ABRAMS: Steve Adubato, Brad Blakeman, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
ADUBATO: Thank you.
BLAKEMAN: Thank you.
ABRAMS: Coming up: Inside the mind of Charles Manson, more footage of an interview with the notorious murderer never seen publicly before tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANSON: Did I put the kids in the garbage can? Your society put your kids in the garbage can. I picked them out of the garbage can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: But first: Our reporters wear many hats at MSNBC, maybe too many hats. We will grin and, quote, “bear it,” next in “Beat the Press.”
ABRAMS: It‘s time for tonight‘s “Beat the Press, our daily look back at the absurd and sometimes amusing perils of live TV. First up: Fox News political analyst Dick Morris offering his expertise on presidential candidate Fred Thompson, who he says he worked for and knew well, but he couldn‘t seem to recall many of the crucial details of that experience.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK MORRIS, FOX POLITICAL ANALYST: I worked for him in 1992, when he was first running for the Senate -- ‘94.
BILL O‘REILLY, “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR”: That‘s Al Gore‘s seat.
O‘REILLY: He was going for Al Gore‘s seat. You worked for him then?
Was it Gore‘s seat? No, it wasn‘t Gore‘s seat, it was Sasser‘s seat I think he was—anyway, it was one of the seats in Tennessee. And I worked for him in ‘94, and I got to know him pretty well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: One of the seats, one of the years. Who knows?
Next up: “Good Morning America” got the most wanted interview on Tuesday, Senator Larry Craig‘s children, for an exclusive to defend their father. But it seems Craig‘s daughter was also wanted by the Boise police. Shae Suzanne (ph) Howell missed a court date back in April to answer for unlawful entry and malicious entry to property charges, both misdemeanors stemming from a domestic incident, which just shows you that the morning show bookers can be even better and more relentless than the police.
Finally: Veteran hard news reporters have to wear many hats. Some they like, others where they have to just grin and, quote, “bear it,” as we saw from one of the industry‘s best today, NBC‘s Martin Savidge, on the birthday of a panda.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN SAVIDGE, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Panda-monium is reigning as we all focus our attention on the birthday girl.
For all of us, this is a huge education for many, many children, any birth.
Any birthday of a giant panda, even in captivity, is a great day to celebrate. That‘s exactly what we‘re doing.
Wait. It gets better. Look. See? This is what it drives you to here at the Atlanta zoo.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Hats off to Martin for being a great sport.
We want your help beating the press. Have you seen anything amusing, absurd, just right or wrong in the press? Go to our Web site, Abrams.msnbc.com. Please leave us a tip in the box and include the show and the time you saw the item.
Up next, never-before-seen footage of Charles Manson from a rare and controversial prison interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANSON: I told the judge, Can‘t you see what they‘re doing here? He didn‘t care. Nobody cared. Only a handful of children cared.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: More of the interview coming up, including insights from the man who helped put Manson behind bars.
And later, new developments in the case of 4-year-old Madeleine McCann, why Portuguese police interrogated her mom for 11 hours today. And we‘ve got breaking news in the case of that missing BYU student. That has just come in to us. We‘ll have that coming up.
ABRAMS: Coming up, what is being described as a significant development in the case of a missing BYU student. The bicycle she was riding apparently has been found. Coming up, we‘re going to talk to someone—we‘re going to know where they‘re searching now, that‘s where the bike was found. So we‘re going to check in on that in a second.
But first, in 1969, followers of Charles Manson brutally stabbed seven people to death in a suburb of Los Angeles. In ‘71, Manson and four others were found guilty of the murders and are serving life sentences. In 1987, “The Today Show” went to San Quentin Prison and interviewed Manson. What they got was so offbeat, so unbelievable, they only aired seven minutes. Well, last night, many across America watched “The Mind of Manson,” a new MSNBC documentary which showed much of the unseen Manson interview from 1987. In a few minutes, we‘ll be showing more of that interview that was not included in last night‘s special. We‘ll also be talking to Vincent Bugliosi, the man who prosecuted Manson.
But first, “The Mind of Manson.”
CHARLES MANSON, CONVICTED MURDERER: You can‘t blame someone for nine mayhem murders, unless you want to say that I have laid plot and design to destroy you. And I‘m working to save my air, my water, my trees, and my wildlife, and I‘m trying to do away with society. I tried to stop Nixon, and I stopped him dead in his tracks. I tried to stop the Vietnam War, and I did it. And all of the things I did, I did without breaking the law, because your law is 1776.
You‘ve got jet airplanes going 6,000 miles an hour and you‘re reading books that were written on the back of horses, and you say you‘ve got constitutional rights, and you feed yourself all this hog posh bull stuff that‘s unreal. And then you come and want to play the same old business game as usual.
Life is more than money and business, man. You know, it‘s like the world is dying, and you‘re saying, Let me show you my new dance. Why don‘t you tell the public what‘s really going on? Why don‘t you tell them the water is so bad the fish can‘t live in it? Why don‘t you tell them that the polar caps are melting because you‘re creating so much heat with this machine? Do you see what I‘m saying? Why don‘t you tell them the truth, that we were going to blow the world up in the ‘60s, but a handful of kids jumped up and said, “No, give the other children a chance,” and they saved it from being blown up.
You live in the helter-skelter that the district attorney won. He won that reality for the People v. Manson. And he was your champion. And you have to live with that, because your children are coming up to it. And they‘ll come through it, just like we got through it in the ‘40s and the ‘50s, when I was a beatnik. I wasn‘t a hippie.
When I got up as a beatnik, I came back and looked at what they was doing with my image then. Now it‘s a hippie. Oh, now I‘m a hippie now, huh? I was doing this long, long time before the hippies ever was born. You see what I‘m saying? I come out and see the circles that the hippies are running in. That‘s the circle I left behind me when me and him was out in the streets, in, what was it, the ‘50s and ‘40s?
See, I‘ve got no thought in the ‘60s. I‘m not a child of the ‘60s. I‘m not a Beatles fan. “I want to hold your hand.” I was doing hard time in the penitentiary when that come out. Now you want me to suffer, so you put more pressure on me, and beat me up some more, and then say, “Now do you feel guilty?” You‘re going to make me suffer until I say, “OK, now I feel guilty.”
And do you feel secure now that I feel guilty? Is that going to make you feel better if I feel guilty? Guilty, hmm, I wouldn‘t do anything that I felt guilty about. Maybe I should have killed 400 or 500 people, then I would have felt better. Then I would have felt like I really offered society something. Then they could survive maybe. If I wanted to kill somebody, I‘d take this book and beat you to death with it.
ABRAMS: Let‘s bring in the man who Manson may have been referring to earlier, Vincent Bugliosi, who prosecuted Manson and wrote a bestselling book about it. His latest book is “Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy.” It‘s being made into a 10-hour HBO miniseries produced by Tom Hanks.
Vincent, good to see you. Thanks for coming on the show. Appreciate it.
VINCENT BUGLIOSI, FORMER MANSON PROSECUTOR: Happy to be on the show, Dan.
ABRAMS: So we hear Manson—apart from all his rambling and the nonsense, I mean, put that aside for a moment, he does portray himself again and again both as a tough guy and as a victim.
BUGLIOSI: Yes, well, interspersed among all the things that he says, Dan, he does say some things that are somewhat true. When these young followers were following him up and down the state of California, he‘d say things like, “We‘ve got to stop the poisoning of the environment,” or, “We need the preservation of wildlife,” “There shouldn‘t be a war in Vietnam,” “The poor man is fighting the rich man‘s war.”
So he‘d say things like that, and these kids, they were intelligent intellectually but emotionally they were very weak. And there was an intellectual quid pro quo here. In return for their turning over their minds to him, turning over their life to him, he thought for them. They didn‘t have to think anymore. And that was quite seductive for these young, confusing kids.
I think when he first started his family, he wasn‘t thinking about ordering these kids to commit any murders. But down the line, there was a slow evolutionary process, and eventually he used these minions to vent (INAUDIBLE) on society for him. But he used to say that no sense makes sense, and it‘s hard for me to make sense out of this gibberish, although I have to say that, here and there, he does say some probably truthful things.
ABRAMS: Let me ask you this. Did his followers believe that everything he was saying made sense or were they just so drugged up and kooked out at that point that a lot of his nonsense just went over their heads or did he become more nonsensical as he got older?
BUGLIOSI: Well, he used to speak in reverse. He‘d say, “No sense makes sense. Death is beautiful.” He was always speaking in the reverse, and they started buying that stuff. Susan Atkins says, you know, you have to have a lot of love in your heart to do what I did to Sharon Tate.
So did they believe all this stuff? Yes. I‘ll tell you why: because virtually all of them thought that he was Jesus Christ and the devil all wrapped up into one person. And his name, Manson, what I first heard that name, it sounded like a typical Anglo-Saxon name, but it‘s a very powerful name, Man-son. And he was aware of the power in his name. He‘d say Charles Milles Manson. He was always suggesting that he was a son of God, the son of man. He said, “Don‘t you know who I am? I‘ve been dead for 2,000 years.” Long answer to your question, they thought he was Jesus and they believed everything he said.
ABRAMS: Interesting. I have to say an interesting answer to the question, as well. Let me play another piece of sound here. This has never before been seen or heard publicly. It was not part of the documentary last night, and so we listen to it for the first time.
MANSON: There‘s a line in the world between law and the outlaw. First the law came. There was no law to be out from before the law was born. The law came before the outlaw. There is a guideline to crime that you‘ve got to be honest to be a good crook. Your work can‘t be bad. If you‘re dealing or wheeling or whatever you‘re doing, if your word is no good, then you‘re no good. You‘ve got to keep your word. There‘s a certain amount of honesty that exists in the world of crime.
I‘m not responsible for anyone‘s actions but my own actions. I have empathy for your children. I have understanding for your children and compassion for your children. And I love those kids with my heart and my soul. And I‘ve seen the struggle that they were struggling through, being thrown out of their houses, no place to go. Daddy‘s a rocket scientist. Mom is always drunk.
So did I put the kids in the garbage can? Your society put your kids in the garbage can. I picked them out of the garbage can and said, “All you‘ve got to do, tell the truth and be honest.”
I told you 20 years ago, I told the judge, can‘t you see what you‘re doing here? He didn‘t care. Nobody cared. Only a handful of children cared. They cared enough to give their all. Now they‘ve all changed, and they‘ve got bitter, and they‘re angry, and they‘re spiteful, and they‘re deceitful, and they‘re hateful. They slipped back into your society.
When we was at the ranch, everything was free. Everything was truthful. There were no lies. There was no confusion. The truth is, simply, that Planet Earth is dying.
ABRAMS: So, Vince, now the people who followed him who are also serving life prison sentences are ingrates?
BUGLIOSI: Well, he‘s upset with them, because they‘ve renounced him, with the exception of two, Squeaky Fromme, who attempted a murder of President Ford, and Sandra Good, but all the others have renounced Manson. But, again, he‘s talking about some truths there about they‘re being alongside the road and his picking them up from the garbage pile and giving them a home.
Squeaky Fromme said that her father kicked her out of the home when she was 17, and she was sitting on a curb crying in Venice near the beach, and a man came along—the man was Manson—and said, “Your father kicked you out of the house,” and she was impressed with that. And she got up, and she followed him.
But, again, he‘s talking about this—I don‘t know if there‘s such a word as double-speak, but he‘s playing these word games, like a crook has to be honest. He‘s the type of person who‘ll say a harlot is virtuous.
And there‘s a certain truth to Manson more than you would expect from someone like that. If you were to ask him, were you responsible for these murders? He‘s going to have many answers to that question, but most of the time he won‘t say, “No, I have nothing to do with these murders.” He‘ll say things like this, which is somewhere between the truth and the untruth. He says, “Yes, I‘m guilty of these murders, the way the Beatles are, the way the Vietnam War is, the way violence on TV is.” So he wasn‘t completely dishonest.
I had some pretty good conversations with him off the record. I wasn‘t advising him of his constitutional rights. And he was fairly candid with me. But he‘s an evil, sophisticated con man. He was talking about 400, 500 people killing. He told Geraldo Rivera he‘d like to kill 50 million people and stack them up on top of each other.
Now, he‘s been convicted of nine murders, but he‘s believed to be behind 35 murders. And the family already had plans to murder prominent personalities like Liz Taylor, Sinatra, people like that. Someone who knows Manson a lot better than I do, he‘s dead now, but his name is Paul Watkins. And he said, “You know, Vince,” he says, “death is Charlie‘s trip.” He had a passion and a love for death, blood, and murder.
ABRAMS: All right. Vincent Bugliosi, thanks a lot. Good to see you again. Appreciate you taking the time to come on the program.
BUGLIOSI: Thank you so much, Dan.
ABRAMS: Up next, we have breaking news in the search for that missing Utah BYU student. Police now say that they have the bicycle she was seen riding last week. This could be a crucial, crucial detail in the search.
And later, we talk with a 90-year-old woman who has just become a college freshman. Party on! It‘s ahead in today‘s “Winners and Losers.”
ABRAMS: We are just getting in this breaking news tonight. Moments ago, the bicycle of missing Brigham Young University student Camille Cleverley appears to have been found at the bank of a Provo, Utah, river. The college senior last seen a week ago. If this is her bicycle, which the authorities believe it is—in fact, they forced two people to hand it over—it could be a crucial clue in the case.
I‘m joined now by MSNBC analyst, former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt.
All right, Clint, how important is it?
CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Well, very important, Dan. The two things you‘re looking for, of course, is the missing woman and her bike. Those are the two largest objects you can find. Now, you know, the terminology that we‘re hearing associated with this bike, you know, the police forced them to hand it over, the police seized it from them. You know, the logical question you and I are going to ask them is, how did you happen to come into possession of this bike? And then go from there.
But if, in fact, we‘re using the term “forced,” you know, are these people responsible in any way for this girl‘s disappearance? Did they just find the bike somewhere? You‘ve got to be very careful not to ask them leading questions but you want to find out exactly what they know. And realize, Dan, that we heard earlier today that two people were being polygraphed, so we have to see if these are the same two people perhaps.
ABRAMS: Well, speaking of polygraphs, let me play this for you, Clint. We had the boyfriend, her boyfriend on the show last night, David Sperry.
VAN ZANDT: Yes.
ABRAMS: He comes across as a very authentic, earnest guy, was very candid with us, told us that the police didn‘t believe him on some of the things he said initially, but that he felt confident that the police didn‘t view him now as a person of interest or anything like that. There was one detail, though, that I found to be—I don‘t know what to make of it. And I want you to listen to this, because this is what he said about taking a lie-detector test, and here is what the Provo police said in a press conference today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVE SPERRY, BOYFRIEND OF MISSING WOMAN: I went through I guess the normal boyfriend routine of anybody that becomes missing, where they search your house, they search your car, you know, go through your things, that kind of thing. You go through a lie-detector test, and, you know, all, I guess, the normal protocol for this type of situation.
ABRAMS: And you did that? You took the lie detector, et cetera?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anyone who has any contact with her, we are speaking with.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you administered a polygraph tests to any of those individuals?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. No, we haven‘t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: That was to any of “those” individuals. I‘m not sure which individuals he‘s talking about, but possible discrepancy?
VAN ZANDT: Well, could be. I mean, this is not necessarily a red flag, but it‘s spotted right now. You know, if, in fact, the boyfriend took the polygraph, that‘s good. For the police to say no, as you just pointed out, rightfully so, the officer may have thought he was referring to someone else or, number two, he may have simply been trying to cut off a line of questioning.
You get the camel‘s nose under the tent. If you say, yes, I gave a polygraph. OK, who to? What were the results? How many people did you polygraph? It could be a police officer who just didn‘t want to open that tin flap up at this point.
ABRAMS: Yes. And, look, I give the guy credit coming on the show and talking about everything that was happening in the investigation, the type of questioning, et cetera.
All right, let me switch gears real quick. Another missing case, 11 hours, that‘s the amount of time police interrogated the mother of little Madeleine McCann today. The missing 4-year-old disappeared May 3rd from her parents‘ vacation home. Partial forensics tests from the apartment have come back. Police are now re-interviewing the parents. The family‘s lawyer stresses the interviews were as witnesses, not suspects, not potential suspects, et cetera.
Clint, 11 hours they questioned the mother, four months later?
VAN ZANDT: OK, a couple of issues, Dan. Number one, I have never been impressed with the Portuguese police, and they have carried that flag forward in this case.
You know, number two, realize this interrogation, interview, whatever we want to call it, it has to be done through a translator. So the police have to make up the questions. They have to give it to the translator. He or she has to ask. She has to respond. And then they have to translate back for the cops. They have to chew on it and ask the next. Sp 11 hours could have been four hours that you and I...
ABRAMS: I have to wrap it. But the bottom line is, you think the Portuguese police are trying to make the parents look bad, right?
VAN ZANDT: Yes, I do. Right now, you know, make your case by investigation, not speculation, and that‘s what I think the cops are doing.
ABRAMS: Clint, as always, appreciate it.
VAN ZANDT: Thanks, Dan.
ABRAMS: Up next, will today‘s big winner of the day be a young skater who rolled over the competition, dogs who are happy to roll over at a water park, or a 90-year-old woman who is rolling back time and heading to college as a freshman? We‘ll talk to her in tonight‘s “Winners and Losers.”
ABRAMS: It‘s time for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers” for this 6th day of September, 2007.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS (voice-over): Our first loser, self-proclaimed pedophile blogger Jack McClellan who announced today he‘s hitting the road, moving from L.A. to Oregon. Quote, “There‘s no place left for me to go.” McClellan has skated beneath the criminal justice system by just writing about his attraction to little girls while claiming he does not act on it, a claim that‘s led some parents to say he belongs under a bus.
Our first winner, a 3-year-old little girl in India who‘s skated under a bus. Krishna Gahlot pulled off the amazing roller skating feat today in Udaipur, India, limboing underneath the bus which was only 5.11 inches off the ground.
WILL FERRELL, ACTOR: How did you do that? I‘m not even mad. That‘s amazing.
ABRAMS: The second loser, embattled NFL star and now convicted felon Michael Vick, who apparently left behind notes for his emotional dogfighting apology last month. That paper scooped up by, yes, the Humane Society. They‘re now auctioning off the memorabilia, which lays out his talking points with just a small reference in the corner to a topic he never quite got to in his press conference, quote, “Dogs have suffered.”
The second winner, hardly suffering Nebraska dogs. Given a day to take over the Actocourt water park (ph) Tuesday, after it closed for the season, the ultimate doggie field trip. No word on who had to scoop up what the pooches may have left behind.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No!
ABRAMS: But the big losers of the day? Glove-wielding Minnesota Twins fans who came prepared but lost out on a foul ball to this pair of unassuming grandmothers. The grandma team schooled their fellow fans, making the catch with class.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did they bare hand it? Well...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at that.
ABRAMS: The big winner of the day, California grandmother Estelle Rees-Arroyo, who‘s decided to head back to class at the age of 90. Estelle began her first day at Sacramento State University this week. The college co-ed got her first taste of campus life back in the 1930s but decided to go back to school to finally get her degree.
RODNEY DANGERFIELD, ACTOR: Hey, Professor, take it easy, will you? I mean, these kids, they were in grade school at the time. And me, I‘m not a fighter. I‘m a lover.
ABRAMS: Joining me on the phone now is Estelle Rees-Arroyo, who‘s gone back to school at the age of 90. Thanks a lot for taking the time. Appreciate it.
So I understand that you‘re trying to get a degree in history. I‘m going to ask you the question I‘d ask anyone who‘s starting college: What do you want to do when you graduate?
ESTELLE REES-ARROYO, 90-YEAR-OLD COLLEGE STUDENT: Well, when I grow up, I don‘t know. I might possibly mentor or help some younger students somewhere or another. But it was people saying, “What are you doing this for?” And I was looking at entirely too much TV. I thought it would be a challenge and maybe it could help inspire other people.
ABRAMS: Good for you. Good for you. Let me ask you, how have the other students been treating you? Are you they inviting you to any campus parties?
ARROYO: Oh, no. Anyway...
ABRAMS: I understand that you were saying that some of the sororities, et cetera, were recruiting on the main quad there?
ARROYO: Well, I was just interested to see that they were actually recruiting, because, down at Cal, you know, Berkeley, they didn‘t recruit like that. You got invited. A friend would put your name in or something of that sort. You know, they didn‘t advertise that much.
ABRAMS: But I‘m guessing no sororities in your future this time around?
ABRAMS: Yes. Estelle, good luck to you.
ARROYO: All right.
ABRAMS: We have great admiration for you doing this, this late in life. And I think you‘re going to be a straight-A student. Thanks a lot.
ARROYO: Oh, it‘s very interesting. Thank you.
ABRAMS: Appreciate it.
ARROYO: Good night.
ABRAMS: We‘re out of time. See you next week.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2007 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.