Guests: Rachel Maddow, Tamar el-Ghobashy, Karen McCallum, Bob Kohn, Gloria Allred, Courtney Hayes, Ed Miller, Ashley Windle
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: The man who describes the Holocaust as a fabricated legend and said Israel should be wiped off the map and is a state sponsor of terror was welcomed with jeers and some applause at one of America‘s most prestigious universities today. At my alma mater, Columbia University, today, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sat just feet away from university president Lee Bollinger as he welcomed the Iranian leader with a series of attacks and questions he must have known would never be answered.
It‘s almost like a schoolboy who invites a girl to come play, and then hits her to show his friends he really doesn‘t like girls. It was an uncomfortable showdown from the beginning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEE BOLLINGER, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT: Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator. And so I ask you...
BOLLINGER: And so I ask you, why have women and members of the Baha‘i faith, homosexuals, and so many of our academic colleagues become targets of persecution in your country? I doubt that you will have the intellectual courage to answer these questions. But your inflamed dispute with the West is distracting the world‘s attention from the intolerable conditions in your regime within Iran.
You describe the Holocaust as a fabricated legend. This—this makes you quite simply ridiculous. You are either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated. And today, I feel all the weight of the modern civilized world yearning to express the revulsion at what you stand for. I only wish I could do better.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I want to complain a bit from the person who read this political statement against me. In Iran, tradition requires that when we demand a person to invite as a—to be a speaker, we actually respect our students and the professors by allowing them to make their own judgment, and we don‘t think it‘s necessary before the speech is even given to come in with a series of claims...
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): ... and to attempt in a so-called manner to provide vaccination of some sort to our students and our or faculty.
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): In Iran, we don‘t have homosexuals like in your country.
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): We don‘t have that in our country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The question is, do you or your government seek the destruction of the state of Israel as a Jewish state? And I think you could answer that question with a single word, either yes or no.
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): You ask a question, and then you
want the answer the way you want to hear it. Well, this isn‘t really a
free flow of
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): I‘m just telling you where my position is. I‘m asking you, Is the Palestinian issue not an international issue of prominence or not?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: My take. Ahmadinejad had the right to speak at Columbia, and the rest of us have the right to criticize the university for inviting him. Columbia did not need to offer its name to a madman and propagandist. The same dean who invited him said he would have invited Hitler, too. OK. Right. So why not invite the leader of the KKK, while you‘re at it? He‘s around. Hitler is not. By inviting Ahmadinejad to speak, Columbia is effectively sponsoring him.
As a Columbia law grad, I‘m ashamed of my alma mater today. The university president, Lee Bollinger, tried to go after him with that series of attacks, but in the end, I fear he made Ahmadinejad seem sympathetic, almost presidential, when he got to say he wouldn‘t welcome someone that way in his country. This now national debate makes his propaganda seem like just one side of a two-sided debate, which it‘s not.
Joining me now is Tamar el-Ghobashy, a “New York Daily News” reporter who was at Columbia today, Rachel Maddow, host of “The Rachel Maddow Show” on Air America, and MSNBC political analyst and also a Columbia University graduate, Pat Buchanan. All right. Thanks to everyone for coming on. Appreciate it.
All right. Tamar, let me start with you. Did the students there—and there was a lot of applause in the audience there. Were there a good number of students who were there to support him?
TAMAR EL-GHOBASHY, “NEW YORK DAILY NEWS”: I‘m not quite sure if it was there—people were applauding out of support. But speaking to students after the—Mr. Ahmadinejad‘s speech, I think many people expressed surprise that he wasn‘t this raving lunatic that he‘s been portrayed to be, but he actually came across, as you mentioned, as a measured statesman in light of President Bollinger‘s attacks on him initially. And I think the opportunity for people to see him unfiltered and listen to exactly what he had to say—and he did address the questions he was asked quite directly.
ABRAMS: No, he didn‘t. Come on! Were you listening to the same speech I was listening to? He didn‘t answer any of the questions that he was asked directly!
EL-GHOBASHY: Sure. I mean, they—some of the answers did seem absurd to some of the people in the audience, but he did point by point answer the questions that he was asked.
ABRAMS: Well, I didn‘t hear those answers. And Pat Buchanan, the problem is exactly this. This is my concern, is that a liar and propagandist has been given this forum. And now students are walking away saying, You know what? Wow, he seemed kind of reasonable.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, let me—Dan, Columbia gave him an audience of 2,000 or 3,000. MSNBC gave him an audience of 300,000. That‘s where the American people saw and heard him, on MSNBC, on CNN, on Fox, all carried it live. You have, what, three million or four million. That‘s the audience we gave him. How can you condemn Columbia for letting students hear what we‘re delighted to give to the entire nation?
ABRAMS: The bottom line is Columbia gives its name to this event. It is a news event now. Columbia shouldn‘t have given its name to the event, in my view, because of exactly what we‘re seeing here, which is students walking out of there—you know, look—and Rachel...
BUCHANAN: Well, wait a minute, Dan.
ABRAMS: Go ahead, Pat.
BUCHANAN: Yes, but look, if you say Columbia—because students are walking out of there and they tended to think maybe the guy did very well...
ABRAMS: It‘s not that he did very well, Pat, it‘s that he‘s a propagandist, and—and...
BUCHANAN: Well, why do we put him on the air?
ABRAMS: Look, it‘s a separate question, Pat. I mean, we can talk about whether the media should be covering—and it‘s a legitimate discussion. I‘m not minimizing your point. I‘m saying first let‘s talk about whether Columbia invites him at all. They‘re the ones who are inviting him. They‘re the ones whose home he is at.
BUCHANAN: All right, you‘re right, Dan. Let me just make this point. Look, you made a good point. The dean said he would have invited Hitler to come speak, but they kicked ROTC off campus because of their “Don‘t ask, don‘t tell” policy. I mean, what kind of standards are up there at our alma matter?
ABRAMS: All right. Go ahead, Rachel. I‘m sorry.
RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA: Well, the ROTC thing is a different matter because it‘s not giving speeches, it‘s recruiting. It‘s a different activity altogether. But I also have to wonder why you guys are so mad at Columbia and you‘re not mad at the Council on Foreign Relations, who hosted him last year for a speech, or the National Press Club, who also hosted him today for a videoconference.
ABRAMS: Because it seems to me that there‘s an obligation on a university that is different. I think when a university invites someone, particularly a university like Columbia University, we see exactly what happened today, which is he walks out of there, he puts together all of this propaganda...
Let me—let me—I‘m going to play—let me play a bit more sound.
This is more today of Ahmadinejad, some of his greatest hits.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): We love all nations. We‘re friends with the Jewish people.
The Iranian nation is a victim of terrorism.
We were the first nation that objected to terrorism and the first to uphold the need to fight terrorism.
The Iranian people are free. Women in Iran enjoy the highest levels of freedom.
We do not believe in nuclear weapons, period. It goes against the whole grain of humanity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Rachel, almost all of that is entirely untrue. Now, I understand that there can be different people who can have different opinions and speak about different things. Fine. I‘m not saying he doesn‘t have the right to speak. I‘m saying that Columbia shouldn‘t host him.
MADDOW: Right. But listen, it‘s not like he‘s not going to be the president of Iran and he‘s not going to say those things if Columbia doesn‘t host him. By giving him the opportunity to speak, he makes an ass out of himself, frankly, I mean, saying that there‘s no gay people in Iran. He made some sort of ridiculous joke, where he said that any country that pursues nuclear weapons is retarded. He uses the word “retarded.” I mean, there‘s no worse enemy that this guy has than himself. Giving him a platform exposes him for what he is.
ABRAMS: My concern is, though, you heard Tamar say at the top of this piece that a lot of the students were walking out—you heard them applauding him. A lot of students were walking out of there, saying, You know what? I listened, and my goodness, he made more sense than I expected.
MADDOW: Dan, you don‘t sound like a Columbia University graduate if you don‘t think that students should be trusted with information to make decisions on their own. Free speech says, Defeat bad speech with better speech. It doesn‘t say, Shut people up.
ABRAMS: That‘s about what—hang on. That‘s about what you have the right—I‘m not questioning at all his right to speak.
BUCHANAN: But you‘re...
ABRAMS: I‘m not questioning anyone‘s right to—I‘m making a judgment...
ABRAMS: ... about what Columbia did. I‘m not saying that there was no right to do it.
BUCHANAN: Yes, but you sound terribly upset that some people walked out of there and said the guy made some very good points, which he did. He made some foolish ones about no gays in Iran that had everybody laughing, all those kids laughing, but he made some other ones like nuclear weapons. He said, Look, we don‘t got nukes. We‘ve never been convicted of diverting our enriched uranium at all. Israel‘s got them. The Americans have got them. Pakistan‘s got them, all these others who didn‘t sign the treaty.
ABRAMS: All right, let me—let me play another—this is from the president, Lee Bollinger. And I want to ask you all if you think that this actually enhanced Ahmadinejad rather than denigrating him. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOLLINGER: It should never be thought that merely to listen to ideas we deplore in any way implies our endorsement of those ideas or our weakness of our resolve to resist those ideas or our naivete about the very real dangers inherent in such ideas. It is a critical premise of freedom of speech that we do not honor the dishonorable when we open our public forum to their voices.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: But then he did dishonor the dishonorable by going after him. You know, he went after him, Rachel, from the very beginning. Do you think that that just enhanced Ahmadinejad?
MADDOW: No, I think it made Bollinger feel better about having invited him there, despite all of the attacks that he got. Listen, the thing—the best thing we could do for Ahmadinejad, who‘s not very popular at home and is doing a really bad job running his own country, is to make him a really big deal in America. We‘ve made him the star that we are by beating our chests about him so much. If we just let him give his stupid speech and didn‘t get so excited about it, his popularity at home would go down. He‘d be weakened...
ABRAMS: And he may not even be running the country...
ABRAMS: The ayatollah may be running the country over there. Real quick, Pat.
BUCHANAN: You got a very good point. If Bollinger thinks this guy is a liar and he‘s putting out filth and he‘s not telling the truth and that is what he‘s doing and he believes that deeply, why would you give him a forum?
ABRAMS: It‘s interesting. We‘re talking about—I never thought that we‘d be talking about gays in Iran and how Pat Buchanan and Rachel Maddow agreeing on the same side.
BUCHANAN: There are gays in Iran!
ABRAMS: Pat Buchanan conceding there are gays in Iran. Unbelievable!
MADDOW: I‘ve always loved Pat.
ABRAMS: Tamar el-Ghobashy, Pat Buchanan, Rachel Maddow, thanks a lot.
Appreciate it. Rachel‘s going to stick with us.
Up next: “The New York Times” now says it made a mistake and didn‘t charge the liberal group Moveon.org enough for that controversial ad attacking General Petraeus. Now Moveon is paying the difference, but “The New York Times” is not a charity. They undercharged them. Doesn‘t paying the difference just highlight the issue again?
And later: Britney Spears charged in a hit-and-run with no valid license, this after a former bodyguard comes forward with new drug allegations. We hear from him. Britney now really could be heading to the big house.
ABRAMS: The liberal group Moveon.org now says it will pay the full price for this controversial ad slamming the U.S. military commander in Iraq as “General Betray Us” after “The Times‘s” public editor determined the paper should have charged $142,000 for the ad, not $64,000.
My take. What difference does it really make now? So “The Times” will be $78,000 richer. It‘s a business transaction, not a charitable donation. If “The Times” gave them a break based on the fact that they‘re a liberal group, then this money doesn‘t change what‘s effectively intellectual corruption and maybe even a violation of election law. But what‘s much more likely is that someone in ad sales made a mistake. Moveon wants to pay the money out of, quote, “an abundance of caution,” and “The Times” accepts it to avoid what might amount to an illegal campaign contribution. Of course, most important to them, the perception of bias. But in the process, doesn‘t paying more money after the fact just make both of them look defensive?
Here now, Bob Kohn, author of “Journalistic Fraud,” advertising executive Karen McCallum, who buys ad space for clients, and still with us is Rachel Maddow.
All right. Karen, let me start with you. Do you think that knowing what you know about buying ads, is it possible that this was just a mistake?
KAREN MCCALLUM, ESPARZA ADVERTISING AGENCY: I think there is a distinct possibility that there was an error. As media director at Esparza Advertising, it‘s my job to understand the complexities of rate cards. “The New York Times” has 17 different rate cards, and there are many elements within each rate card which can contribute to different rates that can be charged (INAUDIBLE)
ABRAMS: All right. So Bob, look, you often believe anything associated with “The Times” is based on their agenda. Do you think that their ad sales department is liberal, as well?
BOB KOHN, AUTHOR, “JOURNALISTIC FRAUD”: Well, it either means that the institutional bias of “The Times,” you know, runs all the way down not only in the editorial pages and news pages but down to the marketing and sales department. But you know, I‘ve been in business for many years, and salespeople do a lot of crazy things, so, you know, I give them a pass on this.
I really don‘t think this is about the rate. I think this is about the nature of the ad itself and “The Times” violating its own policy by running an ad that was such a personal attack against an individual. I think that‘s the real problem.
ABRAMS: When it‘s a public figure, I mean, are you saying that they can‘t—that “The Times” shouldn‘t—won‘t accept ads that are critical of President Bush?
KOHN: Yes. Well, I think even the public editor of “The Times” said specifically it was a clear violation of their own policy.
ABRAMS: Doesn‘t mean that he‘s right.
KOHN: Well, it is a violation of their policy, but I think it may be an indication that “The Times”—maybe it‘s the pressure to make revenues these days. You see what‘s going on at the revenues of all the newspapers. So it may be just a business decision, just take as much money as they can and forget about the policy. But that‘s going to hurt the credibility of “The New York Times” if they continue to have this thing because they do these things because it shows that institutional bias. It reminds us of the institutional bias.
ABRAMS: Rachel, why do you think that Moveon is so eager to pay this additional amount? And do you think it‘s a smart move?
MADDOW: Well, I don‘t think it‘s a dumb move. “The New York Times” explanation officially is that it was an error. And so Moveon says, Oh, you made an error? OK, we‘ll help you make it right. Case closed. The idea that this is some sort of window into “The Times‘s” liberal bias I think is hard to swallow. I mean, if you want to look for liberal bias, you should probably look somewhere other than their ad rates on their 17 different rate cards.
ABRAMS: I agree with you, but what about—I mean, this notion that somehow, like, if I order a bike on line and then it gets delivered to me, and then two weeks later, they say, Oh, you know what, it actually was two times as much, am I supposed to call them back and say, Hey, you know what? You know that bike you quoted me that price on? And yes, I‘ve been riding it around and stuff, but oh, I heard it‘s more expensive. I‘m going to pay you more. I mean, it doesn‘t make any sense, apart from the fear of violating election laws.
MADDOW: Well, but Dan, the big difference here is that the Senate didn‘t denounce you...
MADDOW: ... you might be wanting to put a button on the end of this.
KOHN: Dan, somebody filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission. I think the lawyers probably wanted to—on Moveon‘s part, wanted to get that off of their table, and they probably wanted to help their friends at “The New York Times” get it off of their table, as well.
MADDOW: Oh, come on.
KOHN: I think this is the thing to do. Clearly, they had to pay the difference. They wanted to get the legal issue out of the way and I think they successfully did that, but they did not take away the issue...
ABRAMS: Go ahead, Rachel.
KOHN: ... of the kind of ad that they said (INAUDIBLE)
MADDOW: The legal issue here, I think, is a little bit of a canard. Honestly, General Petraeus‘s credibility is the hook on which the administration decided to hang selling this part of the war, and so the White House put Petraeus‘s credibility squarely on the table in terms of the way we‘re going to discuss this policy.
ABRAMS: Let me bring it back to this...
ABRAMS: Karen, do you think “The New York Times” now goes back to its ad sales department and says, He, guys, look, we got an issue here. It seems that there‘s a lot of confusion about how much we charge for our advertisements. We need to either make this simpler or hire people who get it more?
MCCALLUM: Well, they have made an effort that all of the rates will be standardized and that all reps clearly understand that they need to be enforced consistently, regardless of the clients.
ABRAMS: It is—I mean, you know people in ad sales. I mean, is it believable that there‘s someone with a liberal bias who wants to get an ad for Moveon into the paper, and as a result, they‘re, like, Moveon, hey, I can give them a special deal?
MCCALLUM: I think that there‘s another issue that we need to discuss, and that is the quote of the standby rate. It‘s given as a deeply discounted rate for last-minute advertisers that allows the paper some flexibility in terms of placement...
ABRAMS: But then they don‘t get a guarantee as to what day it goes in, and here they were given a guarantee that it was going to show up on Monday.
MCCALLUM: Allegedly, it was a verbal guarantee, and that may or may not have been communicated clearly to Moveon. I think it‘s extremely coincidental that they called on the Friday, which was the typical deadline for space, and the ad happened to run on the day that it would have done the most damage.
ABRAMS: Well, look, I think “The Times” should be celebrating their windfall of $78,000. Rachel Maddow, Karen McCallum and Bob Kohn, thanks a lot.
Coming up: We hear from Britney Spears‘s former bodyguard, coming forward with new drug allegations against her. This as new charges are filed against her that could land her behind bars. We‘ll look at what has been a disastrous few days for Britney Spears.
But first: What does it take to make a guest actually walk away from Sean Hannity live on the air? That‘s 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: Former speaker of the House and Fox News analyst Newt Gingrich was going after Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Friday morning on “Fox and Friends.” Of course, what attack from Fox doesn‘t include “The New York Times,” whether it‘s true or not?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH ®, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: And I think that it is—it is despicable that Columbia University would host him and fundamentally wrong for “The New York Times” editorial board to take him to lunch at the Four Seasons!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Absolutely. I agree it would be fundamentally wrong for “The New York Times” to take him out to lunch at the Four Seasons. Didn‘t happen. He‘s getting his information from fellow Republican talk show host Laura Ingraham, who was kidding when she said it.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Maybe my humor just doesn‘t sink in with people. Maybe I have to be more obvious about my jokes. Do I have to go, Tee-hee, giggle, giggle, every time I have to say a joke?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Laura, apparently, with some people, you do.
Next up: It‘s supposed to be wacky and fun times when the news anchor goes to the weatherman in the field for a report, but things weren‘t all sunshine and smiles in San Diego.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A beautiful evening over the Embarcadero. That‘s where Loren Nancarrow is live. And I just love this kind of crisp, fall feel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It does have that feel to it, doesn‘t it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 10newsunfair.com! 10newsunFair.com!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what? Why don‘t we come back in just a minute, guys.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That‘s a good idea. Thank you, Loren. All right, let‘s move on here (DELETED) story here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: The weatherman was cited for misdemeanor battery. You stay classy, San Diego.
Finally: Feisty legal guest Leo Terrell made clear to Sean Hannity he would not talk about whether O.J. Simpson murdered Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, but unlike other guests, Leo doesn‘t just talk the talk, he walks the walk. Literally.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, “HANNITY & COLMES”: I have a question for you.
LEO TERRELL, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: If it‘s about the murders? No, I‘m not going to...
HANNITY: Are you going to leave? Are you going to leave?
TERRELL: You talk about the murders, I‘m gone!
HANNITY: I have a question. I‘m going to ask whatever question I want and you can walk off. Go ahead.
TERRELL: I will walk off. If you talk about the...
HANNITY: Did he kill Ron and Nicole? Do you believe that he killed them?
TERRELL: Go find another lackey. I‘m gone.
HANNITY: You leaving—again?
ALAN COLMES, “HANNITY & COLMES”: This is the third time he‘s walked.
HANNITY: Hello? Hello? Leo?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: We want your help beating the press. If you see anything amusing, absurd or just right or wrong in the press, please go to our Web site, Abrams.msnbc.com, and leave us a tip in the box.
Up next, breaking news in the case against Falcons quarterback Michael Vick. He could be in more legal trouble tonight.
Plus, new hope in the search for missing 4-year-old Madeleine McCann. Two independent witnesses say they‘ve seen her alive. Her parents recruit retired spies to help.
But first: We hear from Britney Spears‘s former bodyguard, who says he saw Britney doing drugs. This as Britney gets charged with crimes that could land her behind bars. What a weekend for Britney.
ABRAMS: We‘ve got breaking news tonight. Former NFL star Michael Vick may face additional charges in connection with that illegal dogfighting ring. The Virginia state attorney told the Associated Press he‘ll present evidence to a grand jury tomorrow.
Here now is Susan Filan, MSNBC Legal Analyst. Susan, a lot of people are going to say we thought he pled already, we thought he reached an agreement already. We heard about how much time he was facing and now we hear about additional charges.
SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: That‘s right. In federal court he‘s looking at 12 to 18 months although he does face a maximum of five years on the count that he pled guilty to in federal court. Now in state court he‘s facing up to five years on each count brought. These are what are called class six felonies. Some may think it‘s piling on. He‘s already going to be punished by the feds. Others think, though, if it happened in the state of Virginia, the state of Virginia is responsible to punish him, also.
ABRAMS: Did he know when he pled guilty to the federal charges that he could then be—face charges in state court as well? And don‘t they in some cases, in some plea agreements, they reach the state and the federal prosecutors together, reach agreements that as to here is what we‘re going to prosecute him on and here is the deal?
It can happen that either the state declines to prosecute at the time the federal deal is struck or it can happen that they‘re going to get what‘s called concurrent time. It doesn‘t sound like that happened in this case and I think the lawyers should have advised him, you know. But all bets are off when it comes to the state of Virginia. You‘re on your own there.
ABRAMS: Michael Vick in more trouble. Susan, stay with us.
FILAN: You bet.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
ABRAMS: I have an important question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go ahead.
ABRAMS: What is Britney doing with her life?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Britney who?
ABRAMS: Spears. What is she doing with her career?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why do we care at this point?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ABRAMS: That‘s right. Even sports announcers over at ESPN during a game are wondering what‘s up with Britney Spears? Since her pathetic performance at the MTV VMAs, things have not gone going well. This past week was particularly disastrous and this weekend probably the worst. The custody battle with K-Fed heating up.
She was allegedly caught looking tipsy outside an L.A. club hours after a family court judge suggested she might be downright toxic and she might now end up behind bars over a fender-bender last month. I don‘t know if Britney keeps a diary but we‘ve been keeping a video diary of the Britney week that was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLORIA ALLRED, TONY BARRETTO‘S LAWYER: Our client was prepared to testify on issues of nudity by Miss Spears, drug use and safety issues involving the children post rehab.
BRITNEY SPEARS, AMERICAN POP STAR: OK. Are we all going in one car?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Britney. Get away.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I found out it was Britney Spears who hit my car and I was sort of amused, sort of shocked, sort of like—oh. Only this could happen in la-la land.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the judge said I‘m not sure what‘s going on. There are some very serious allegations here and I‘m going to make orders that stabilizes the environment until we can have a custody evaluation completed.
ABRAMS: You said you saw Britney Spears using drugs on two occasions.
Describe them for me.
TONY BARRETTO, BODYGUARD OF BRITNEY SPEARS: One was at her table. The incident happened at her table and she had me hold up a curtain to make her area private. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) We escorted her to a private restroom upstairs which was secured for her and she was in there for some time alone. And I was there waiting for her outside the door again for some time. And I thought it would be appropriate to check on her. And I knocked and peeked in and I observed this behavior.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: So just in basically the weekend she gets charged where she could be facing real time. Now we have this bodyguard coming out and saying she‘s doing drugs. This is not good for Britney Spears. Joining us now is Gloria Allred, the lawyer for the bodyguard, Courtney Hayes, Senior Reporter at “OK Magazine,” and Susan Filan, MSNBC legal analyst and former prosecutor.
All right, Susan, first off, we‘ll talk about this legal issue about the charges she‘s facing for this hit-and-run. She could actually serve time?
FILAN: She could, but typically if you‘re a first offender, what the prosecution wants is they want to you make restitution, pay back the car that you hit, and get a license. Unless she‘s got a history of this, I don‘t think it‘s likely she‘s going to spend time in jail for this.
ABRAMS: All right. So, Gloria, why does the bodyguard need a lawyer?
ALLRED: Well, because the bodyguard had information that was relevant to the custody battle between Britney Spears and Kevin Federline. And we went to court asking the court to protect his privacy and he was willing to testify from the witness stand. He would have preferred not to give a declaration because he was afraid his name would be leaked and the testimony from the witness stand would have been in a closed hearing.
ABRAMS: I‘m so confused, Gloria. I don‘t understand a word you just said. Why does—wait. Why does the bodyguard need a lawyer? For what? This is a hearing where he may have to testify, right?
ALLRED: Well, it was because he came forward and was seeking to protect his privacy. We went to court in a closed hearing and asked the court not to have him be required to do a declaration.
ABRAMS: Wait. You‘re speaking his privacy and then he‘s doing interviews on television. I don‘t get it.
ALLRED: Now, we were trying to protect his privacy before he would testify. That was the point. He didn‘t want 200 paparazzi at his door. He has young children as well, and he wanted to be protected before he testified in this high-profile case.
ABRAMS: Got it. All right.
ALLRED: In any event the judge said then all witnesses will have to do a declaration. He did do the declaration. He then went to court and was available to take the witness stand to be cross-examined under oath by Britney Spears‘ attorneys, if they wished to attack what he said in his declaration, or try to undermine it, or discredit it.
They declined to cross-examine him and, therefore, he did not testify from the witness stand. And his declaration, Dan, went into evidence, was received into evidence, and we believe was given great weight by the judge who then found that, in fact, she is a habitual and frequent user of controlled substances and alcohol. And only he, only my client, the bodyguard, had given a declaration, had given any evidence on that post rehab.
ABRAMS: Here is what he said about taking drugs in front of the kids.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Did you ever see Britney Spears use drugs or abuse alcohol while she was in the presence of her children?
TONY BARRETTO, BODYGUARD OF BRITNEY SPEARS: I have never seen her use drugs in the presence of her children.
ABRAMS: What about alcohol?
TONY BARRETTO, BODYGUARD OF BRITNEY SPEARS: Alcohol, that‘s one‘s personal opinion. I don‘t know if abuse is the correct language. I believe that - I have seen her drink alcohol.
ABRAMS: All right. Courtney this couldn‘t have been a worst week. Could it, for Britney? First the bodyguard gets Gloria Allred which means trouble for Britney, then the bodyguard‘s speaking out, then Britney gets charged with these misdemeanor counts which means she could face jail time. I mean, this is just a spiral.
COURTNEY HAYES, SENIOR REPORTER AT “OK MAGAZINE”: It‘s a spiral and you hope it‘s a sort of rock bottom as well but Britney doesn‘t take the little signs well at all. You would have thought rehab would have been a wake-up call. You would have thought any number of things in this chain of events would have been a wake-up call. You would have thought that the speeding ticket she got in late April where she was pulled over. I don‘t know why the police officer didn‘t realize then that she didn‘t have a driver‘s license, but you would think at least that would be a wake up call.
I‘m not sure she‘s really going to take the hint now either. I think it‘s really going to be up to the courts to decide what her fate is as well as the fate of those kids.
ABRAMS: Maybe it‘s that she‘s spending too much time listening to this guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CROCKER, BRITNEY‘S FAN: Her song is called “Gimme More” for a reason because all you people want is more, more, more, more, more! Anyone has a problem with her, you deal with me because she‘s not well right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: I just had to just throw that in. Totally, totally gratuitous. All right. So Courtney, I mean, is she not well right now? I mean, is Mr. Crocker right that she is not well?
HAYES: I never thought I‘d say this, but I believe Mr. Crocker is correct. Britney is not well. Any number of psychologists and mental health experts who weighed in on this, even though she‘s not their patient, experts weighing in on this are saying obviously, this is a woman who has serious, serious issues. She wants to be a mother but she‘s not emotionally fit to do it. She‘s not physically fit to do it. And when you add in trying to have the comeback of sorts, the end result is just a total mess.
ABRAMS: Gloria, did your client think she should lose the kids period?
ALLRED: Actually my client, Tony Barretto, was very happy with the court‘s decision which was that she be ordered to take—do drug testing and that the results of the tests be turned over to the court, and that she take parenting classes, and that within 12 hours of her having any custody of the children, she must be free of controlled substances and alcohol.
I personally, though, Dan, as a lawyer who has been in the family law area for 31 years, I believe that the judge‘s finding was inconsistent with his decision. Because even though he ordered that, he left the children with Britney at least half the time.
I think what he should have done is remove the children from Britney until she could demonstrate to the court, Dan, that she is no longer a user of controlled substances and alcohol. And then she should get the children returned to her, but that would have given her incentive to really clean herself up. And I think that would have been in the best interest of the children.
ABRAMS: Final ten seconds, Susan, do you agree with that?
FILAN: No, I don‘t. Look, on an affidavit of somebody thinks she did something that looked like drugs, and we don‘t know what it was, you don‘t take kids away from a mom. It‘s in the best interests to be parented by their mom. Britney obviously needs help with her parenting skills. That‘s what the judge ordered. It‘s a really big deal to lose your kids and we‘re not there yet with Britney.
ALLRED: The court said we were. The court found she is a user.
ABRAMS: Britney - please ...
FILAN: But they didn‘t take her kids away, not yet.
ALLRED: That was the court‘s finding.
FILAN: She may be the poster child for how to lose your kids but I don‘t think we‘re there yet.
ABRAMS: All right. We‘ve got - we‘ve got to wrap it up. Look, she‘s got to—come on, somebody, she has some friends, right? Some managers, somebody? Shake her. Gloria Allred, Courtney Hayes and Susan Filan, thanks.
GLORIA ALLRED: Thanks.
COURTNEY HAYES: Good night, Dan.
SUSAN FILAN: Thanks.
ABRAMS: Up next, a possible break in the case of little Madeleine McCann. Two independent witnesses say they saw the missing 4-year-old in Morocco.
And later, a former beauty pageant contestant now claims she was stiffed out of the Miss America scholarship. She‘s not the only one apparently. The ugly truth behind beauty pageants ahead in “Winners And Losers.”
ABRAMS: Did you know Morocco was the first nation to seek diplomatic relations with the U.S. back in 1777? Up next, two independent witnesses in Morocco now claim to have seen missing 4-year-old Madeleine McCann. Coming up.
ABRAMS: There may be new reason to hope missing 4-year-old Madeleine McCann is alive. We‘ve just learned that two people have said they saw the girl six days after she disappeared at a gas station in nearby hotel in Marrakech, Morocco.
One of the witnesses says she saw a young girl wearing her pajamas with a strange looking man. The girl was overheard saying, “Can I see Mommy soon?” Gerry and Kate McCann have been working with a powerful British security firm, one that also has operations in Iraq, to help find their daughter. So what does this mean? How significant?
Ed Miller from “America‘s Most Wanted” joins us and FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt. All right, so Ed, this is not new to the McCanns but some of it is new to the public—two independent sightings in the same town in Morocco?
ED MILLER, “AMERICA‘S MOST WANTED” CORRESPONDENT: You‘re absolutely right. We should point out there have been lots of unconfirmed sightings of Madeleine all over the world and we here at “America‘s Most Wanted” get lots of sightings. People will say they see Peter Pan standing in line at Macy‘s. So we should clarify these are not confirmed sightings. These are independent people who claim they might have seen this child.
One thing that would distinguish this sighting if it really is -- really Madeleine McCann, the child has a very peculiar broken capillary in one of her eyes which would mean there would be a little drop of blood in one of her eyes. So if it really was her, and they did interrogate these witnesses they would know for sure whether it is Madeleine.
ABRAMS: Clint, what do you make of it?
CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Well, you know—Dan, you know, eyewitness identification is one of the toughest things to go with but, bottom line, you have to run every one of these down. Now these two different eyewitnesses, one evidently was not aware of the other, but, Dan, there are blond-haired little girls all over this world. We hope this could be Madeleine McCann but, again, we‘re four months after this now, and so far we haven‘t seen anybody.
ABRAMS: What about the security firm they‘re using, Clint? I mean, this is a firm that‘s being used in Iraq.
VAN ZANDT: Yes, I‘ve worked with them - Control Risk Group. I‘ve done kidnappings and overseas extortion. Dan, I don‘t work with them anymore but I can tell you they‘re very good. They have former British SAS, that‘s like U.S. Army Delta. They have intelligence agents. They‘re very good on the ground. They‘re good with their heads, their hands, and their guns. So if somebody is going to find her and you had to employ somebody independently, this is a good group to go with.
ABRAMS: Ed, where do we stand with the Portuguese authorities? Now the Portuguese police present this case to a judge. The judge read through what - something like 4,000 pages of documents and came back and said they don‘t have enough evidence.
MILLER: Not enough evidence to re-interview the parents. Basically the case against the parents is falling apart, and now Portuguese detectives are reluctantly admitting they have to go back to that idea those children were kidnapped. So again, after dragging the parents through the mud and making all these accusations, now they‘re saying well maybe there really wasn‘t DNA in the back of the car or the DNA that was in the back of the car—maybe it wasn‘t really Madeleine‘s so now they‘re hedging on all of that.
The bottom line means the case against the parents is really falling apart. And the other indication we should point out if the parents were guilty in any way, shape, or form, wouldn‘t they be hiring somebody like Inspector Clouseau to look for the kid and others, instead of a prestigious, very prestigious law firm or security firm to go after it? ABRAMS: I hear you.
MILLER: I mean, ask yourself these important questions.
ABRAMS: Ed Miller, Clint Van Zandt. Thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
VAN ZANDT: Thanks, Dan.
MILLER: Thank you.
ABRAMS: Up next, will the day‘s big winner or loser be Columbia University which got everyone to pay attention to an American enemy? Alan Greenspan who got Fidel Castro to pay tribute to capitalism, or beauty pageant contestants who say they haven‘t gotten paid at all. We‘ll talk to one who claims the Miss America Pageant owes her thousands of dollars. Next in the day‘s “Winners and Losers.”
ABRAMS: Time for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers” for this 24th day of September, 2007. Our first loser, Columbia University Dean John Coatsworth. No, not for inviting a sworn enemy of the United States to come speak at his university. No, the dean went a step further yesterday contemplating just who else might be on his wish list of sensational speakers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN COATSWORTH, DEAN, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: If Hitler were in the United States and wanted a platform from which to speak, he would have plenty of platforms to speak in the United States. If he were willing to engage in a debate and a discussion, to be challenged by Columbia student and faculty, we would certainly invite him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: That‘s right. An open invitation to the Fuhrer. Our first winner, Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy who created a furor Saturday during a post-game press conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE GUNDY, OKLAHOMA STATE FOOTBALL COACH: Come after me! I‘m a man.
I‘m 40. I‘m not a kid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Gundy was defending one of his players over a newspaper editorial that took aim at the player‘s toughness and character.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUNDY: He goes to class; he‘s respectful to the media; he‘s respectful to the public; and he‘s a good kid.
ABRAMS (voice over): The outburst has been a hit on the internet and in the locker room after the Cowboys‘ last-minute come-from-behind win.
GUNDY: That‘s why I don‘t read the newspapers because it‘s garbage, and the editor that let it come out is garbage!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: The second winner, drag racing star John Force who somehow survived this collision yesterday during a race in Ennis, Texas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPORTSCASTER: Well, John was a little late. And John, oh no! Big crash. John has a problem with his car. He jumps across. He hits Bernstein.
ABRAMS (voice over): Force is airlifted to a local hospital but incredibly sustained no major internal injuries, after six hours of surgery. The high-speed crash came during a weekend of funny car racing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: The second loser—funny dog races. Dozens of humiliated dachshunds took part in the running of the wieners race in Cincinnati. The hot dog-looking dogs forced to dress up as hot dogs literally as part of the city‘s Oktoberfest celebration. The winner of the race, a wiener named Baxter.
But the big winner of the day, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. His new book number one on Amazon.com and Barns & Noble. His media blitz is so effective that it‘s even attracted the attention of communist Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. The anti-American and anti-free market leader was spotted on Cuban TV holding up Greenspan‘s book and even quoting from it.
The big loser of the day—the presumably pro-American Miss America Organization caught in the middle of an ugly economic fight. Some former contestants now saying they got stiffed, include Miss South Carolina.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MISS SOUTH CAROLINA CONTESTANT: I believe that our
education, like such as South Africa and Iraq, every where like, such as -
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: No, not that Miss South Carolina. Twenty-six-year-old Ashley Wood. She won the crown in 2004, and now says the organization failed to pay $25,000 worth of scholarship money they promised. And she‘s apparently not alone.
Here now, former Miss Chesapeake Bay, Ashley Windle, who says she is owed more than $2,000 in scholarship money from the Miss America Organization. You hear about this Miss South Carolina, and you say to yourself, wait a second, this has happened to me too. I mean, is this widespread?
ASHLEY WINDLE, FORMER MISS CHESAPEAKE BAY: You know, it‘s hard for me to really say the exact number because I don‘t know all the individual girls who compete. But I heard whispers about it when I first started competing. You know, she hasn‘t gotten paid her money and I thought it never could really happen to me.
ABRAMS: How does it happen? I mean, is it because they‘re forming out local competitions to shysters out there?
WINDLE: I guess there isn‘t a good set of checks and balances has for the local pageants. If some guy decides to run off with money, it‘s really hard for state organization to hold him accountable for the money.
ABRAMS: Did come guy run off with your money?
WINDLE: Yes, unfortunately. My first director had a personal crisis and stopped being the director of the pageant.
ABRAMS: And the director also, with his personal crisis, took your money for his personal crisis?
WINDLE: Well, he didn‘t take my money from me, he just never—he ran off halfway through my year of service and he wasn‘t supposed to pay me until the end and we can‘t find him.
ABRAMS: So you‘re going around the state, right, as Miss Chesapeake Bay and you‘re thinking, “All right, I‘m going to have myself a nice scholarship at the end of this, that‘s why I‘m doing it --
ABRAMS: And the guy then just doesn‘t pay. Here‘s what the Miss America statement into this was, “We‘re looking into these allegations—“ this is with regard to South Carolina, “The Miss America Organization is absolutely unaware of any young lady that has ever been denied payment of scholarship after properly following application process.
ABRAMS: did you follow the application process?
WINDLE: Well, certainly, for the local pageant that I was denied the $500, I absolutely did. I completed my year of service and I would have absolutely sent in for the scholarships to the local director, but he was nowhere to be found. There‘s nothing I can do, and the state won‘t really help me. They can‘t. They can‘t find him either.
ABRAMS: (UNITELLIGIBLE) I was going to ask you to give the guy‘s name. I would have - whatever. Let‘s not get involved in a lawsuit. Ashley, thanks for coming in. Appreciate it.
WINDLE: Thank you so much for having me.
ABRAMS: That‘s all the time we have for tonight. See you tomorrow.
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