Guests: Lawrence O‘Donnell, Stephanie Miller, Cliff May, Steve Carcerano, Doree Lynn, Monica Lindstrom, Michael Gaynor, Larry Pozner
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: It‘s a political face-off the likes of which we‘ve never seen. Today in Iowa, Bill Clinton stumping for Hillary with the crucial Iowa caucus now just five weeks away. This, after a surging Barack Obama announces his own weapon, Oprah will soon be on the campaign trail for him, her presence so formidable that the former president was forced to address it today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FMR. UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: I don‘t know about that. I like Oprah Winfrey. We‘re friends. And, you know, they are from Chicago and so they are friends. They ought to be—she ought to be for him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Maybe so. But Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey will now be going head to head. Who‘s the real heavyweight? Here‘s how they match up.
ANNOUNCER: Let‘s get ready to rumble
ABRAMS (voice over): In this year‘s Forbes Power Rankings, Bill comes in 55th while the almighty Oprah ranks first. The most influential celebrity in the world, Oprah wins this one hands down. Their net worth, Clinton reportedly has anywhere from 10 to 50 million. Chump change compared to the 1.5 billion Oprah is estimated to have earned building her empire. Advantage - Oprah. How much have they raised for their respective charities? Oprah‘s Angel Network - 70 million. While the Clinton Global Initiative, a staggering 12.5 billion in just two years. Bill wins hands down. Each secured massive book advances. The former president raked in 12 million for his autobiography. Oprah reported to have gotten even more. Oprah wins this one by a nose. And both have made stars of members of their posse. Oprah launched Dr. Phil while Clinton made George Stephanopoulos famous by considering by how much he loses to Tim Russert every week, we give this one to Oprah.
ABRAMS (on camera): All right. This is the question of how does each handle scandal. Here is Oprah earlier this month when addressing allegations of abuse at her Leadership Academy in South Africa compared to Clinton after the Lewinsky story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OPRAH WINFREY, CELEBRITY TV HOST: This has been one of the most devastating, if not the most devastating experience of my life.
CLINTON: I did not have sexual relations with that woman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: All right. But in the end, I think there is no comparison. Realistically, Clinton is a far more formidable force than Oprah. Yeah, she‘s enormously successful and influential. And I know this is heresy. But I don‘t know that she will actually lead people to pull the lever for Obama. Money and press attention, sure. But Bill defines Hillary. Her candidacy is, in part, him. For most Democrats and many independence, knowing he will be in the White House is a reason to vote for her. He left office with a 65 percent approval rating. Oprah really have much more impact than one of the many A list celebrities who stumped for Democrats in 2004? I‘m not convinced. Here now political analyst, Lawrence O‘Donnell and Stephanie Miller, host of the nationally syndicated “Stephanie Miller Show” and MSNBC political analyst, “Congressional Quarterly” columnist, Craig Crawford. All right. Lawrence, is Oprah really going to be able to make a difference?
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, POLITICAL ANALYST: I think she might. No, I don‘t think celebrity endorsements ever mean anything. I think this is the one endorsement that might matter. She has a unique relationship to her audience. She can move them into transactional decisions like buying a book. She says buy a book. People go out and spend 25 bucks the next day.
ABRAMS: Even it‘s something different with that and let me throw this to you, Stephanie, and people always compare it to the book club comparison. They say, oh, you know, Oprah can get all these people to buy her books. But it is part of a shared experience. You buy the book so you can watch the show and you can be part of the book club. It‘s different when it comes to voting for a presidential candidate.
STEPHANIE MILLER, THE STEPHANIE MILLER RADIO SHOW: I‘ll tell you why in one phrase why you think that about Oprah, Dan. It‘s because you‘re a boy.
You don‘t understand the power of Oprah. She is going to cut into Hillary‘s natural constituency which is women. I‘m telling you, Dan, America does as Oprah tells them to.
ABRAMS: Well, you know and we should say -
MILLER: I think so.
ABRAMS: This is according to the “Chicago Tribune” that her show is watched an average by 40,000 viewers in central Iowa each weekday rivaling many prime time shows. Boy, Craig Crawford, am I just way off on this one? I mean, look, I‘m not saying she‘s not going to help. She‘s useful. She‘s helpful to Barack Obama. I‘m just not convinced she moves the needle.
CRAIG CRAWFORD, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I spent a week out in Iowa. I have been going to Iowa for 30 years in presidential campaign and these people take these things very seriously. I think they might even resent Oprah stepping into the middle of this. And, also, I wonder the appropriateness of someone who enjoys a privilege to profit from the public airwaves even making a political endorsement. But of course, the FCC gave up that kind of talk back in the Reagan administration.
ABRAMS: You know, listen to this what Obama said about Oprah on Monday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This creates excitement and an event, you know, hopefully we can attract some people who might not otherwise be interested in politics who aren‘t regular viewers of C-span.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: See, that‘s the argument we hear in every election, Lawrence. Let‘s get either the young people involved or the people who aren‘t interested in politics. And you can make an argument that Karl Rove got a lot of people to the voting booth who might not have gone otherwise. Can Oprah do that really?
O‘DONNELL: I‘m much more interested in what she can do with the middle aged female voter. That‘s a very, very powerful constituency, the so-called soccer mom. Oprah has a direct connection to those people.
ABRAMS: Well, agreed. But is she really going to get them either as Barack Obama put it the people who wouldn‘t have voted otherwise or, you know, to get them to change their vote from Hillary just because Oprah? I mean, are we saying that Oprah is really that powerful?
O‘DONNELL: Maybe. Meaning, there is a lot of people in Iowa who are leaning. They‘re leaning toward Hillary. They‘re not with her all the way. Oprah could tip some of those people. If she does and Stephanie‘s got a very serious point that Oprah talks directly to the Hillary Clinton constituency. That‘s extremely dangerous for Obama. Because, if you‘re flipping a vote away from Hillary Clinton and adding to Barack Obama, that‘s a very powerful thing in the outcome of that election.
ABRAMS: But Stephanie, it sounds like what you‘re saying is that we‘ve never seen a political force quite like Oprah Winfrey before, such that the old rules that apply when it comes to celebrities or talk shows or influential people, that this is different it sounds like you are saying.
MILLER: That‘s right. You know, Dan, Oprah is not a TV person. I would, you know, only Dan Abrams is more powerful in my personal opinion.
ABRAMS: Of course, of course. Yes.
MILLER: She is Oprah. She‘s not a TV person. And I think, also, you know, there is a thing that Bill is Hillary‘s husband. And let‘s face it, he owes her for a couple of things. So, I think that it‘s different. Oprah has never done this. I went to the fundraiser at Oprah‘s house for Obama. She talked very passionately about why she‘s never done this before. She has never endorsed a presidential candidate. She really believes in him. And that‘s pretty powerful. And, by the way, Dan, she could also give every American that votes for Obama a car and you get a car and you get a car and you get a car.
ABRAMS: Yes. Let‘s see - the car thing while we are joking about it, the car you‘re getting when you vote for Hillary is Bill in the White House, Craig. I mean, it does seem to me that there is an actual value. That he can actually move the needle and the people say, you know I agree with Hillary on some things—you know, I don‘t know. I don‘t know what to make of her. I don‘t agree with her on certain things but Bill will be there, too.
CRAWFORD: He is a political figure. People are accustomed to seeing him in a political setting. And I don‘t think you create any backlash by having him out there campaigning for him. I think the problem for Obama with Oprah, first of all, I think he had already gotten everything he‘s going to get from her, she endorsed him before he even started to run. The problem he‘s got is the void he needs to fill in this campaign, what he needs to convince voters in Iowa and New Hampshire about is that his preparedness to be president. The substantive things that he needs to do and not the celebrity-hood which he already had for himself. I‘ll tell you, the endorsement I think matters most, at least in Iowa, is going to be Senator Ted Kennedy. In the last two caucuses with Al Gore and John Kerry, he made a huge difference there. Iowa Democrats will pay attention to that more than Oprah. And we‘re waiting to see what Kennedy is going to do.
ABRAMS: Are we selling voters a little bit short, Lawrence, by saying that, you know, in Iowa this is a caucus? Right? I mean, it‘s a different process.
ABRAMS: And as a result, it‘s a more educated voter, isn‘t it?
O‘DONNELL: Yes and it‘s a highly optional thing. It‘s not as simple as going to the polls the way the rest of us vote around the country. I mean, you go, you have to hang around. It‘s a physical process. You sometimes change your vote in the course of the process. And, Oprah, the issue with Oprah is can she physically move people? Can she get them out of their homes and get them to show up at this caucus? And my bet vote is she‘s going to get people to show up.
ABRAMS: Go ahead, Stephanie.
MILLER: Lawrence, can I speak to that? Because I have met Oprah once in person. I worked for her and all of you will one day too. We all will. But I thought about for days what I would say to Oprah when I met her. And what I said they said Oprah (INAUDIBLE) - that‘s pretty much all can you form. Because she‘s not human. She‘s sort of a force that just moves people. I think she—people in Iowa meet her in person, trust me, Dan, they will do as she says.
ABRAMS: (INAUDIBLE) been on their show. The bottom line is Bill Clinton has at least that much impact as well.
O‘DONNELL: Let‘s remember, the Bill Clinton endorsement is already built in to Hillary‘s polling numbers. He‘s already given her the surge that he can give her. What can he add now is the question. Oprah is a new factor. Can she add something in these five weeks? That‘s the question.
ABRAMS: Craig, that‘s an interesting point. Take that one on.
CRAWFORD: I don‘t think she is a new factor. I mean, if anybody is watching her show has known and her Web site, she‘s been pushing Obama for a long time, had him on several times. You know, she‘s pushed him, she‘s also got a movie she‘s out pushing with Denzel Washington. And I think it might have as much to do about that in the end. We‘ll see if she talks about her movie when she is out in Iowa.
ABRAMS: Let‘s remember Madonna supported our friend, Wes Clark in 2004. All right. Lawrence O‘Donnell, Craig Crawford, Stephanie Miller. Thanks a lot.
Coming up next: President Bush has made Saudi Arabia an ally. But how can we claim to be fighting for democracy with this ally as they release 1,500 suspected terrorists from prison and sentence a Saudi gang rape victim to prison and lashings? We‘ve got an exclusive interview with that victim‘s husband.
And later: A mysterious letter mail the suspect Drew Peterson saying his wife is still alive, that she was spotted in the supermarket with a guy and looked pregnant. We have finally gotten our hands on that letter. We‘re going to show it to you. I am now convinced it‘s not going to help him.
Plus: New evidence could spell disaster for that American college student being held in connection with a her roommate‘s murder. Italian police reportedly found her bloody fingerprint at the scene. Coming up.
ABRAMS: Did you know the Saudi government apparently held a woman along with her 10-month-old baby in jail for a week apparently because her father was critical of government policies?
Coming up: A Saudi Arabian teen is gang raped and sentenced to six months in prison and 200 lashes. The Saudi government says she was an adulteress. We‘ve got an exclusive with her husband. Coming up.
ABRAMS: The Saudi foreign minister today set a court in Saudi Arabia will review the jail and flogging sentence for a 19-year-old Saudi woman who was the victim of a gang rape. But that assurance now looks pretty hollow as the case puts their royal family and the Bush administration‘s relationship with them into a new focus. NBC‘s Lisa Myers has the story. Lisa?
LISA MYERS, NBC NEWS - WASHINGTON D.C.: Dan, this is a horrible story which the Saudis don‘t want the world to see. A young woman brutally gang raped, sentenced to lashings by a Saudi court. NBC News had arranged to visit the victim‘s family and hometown last weekend in Saudi Arabia but the Saudi government denied us permission to shoot there. We did speak with the victim‘s husband, who is standing by her and with the Saudi women‘s rights activists.
MYERS (voice over): Far from the Saudi capital of Riyadh, in a town called Qatif, an18-year-old woman soon to be married was riding in a car with ex-boyfriend last year when they were kidnapped and brutally attacked. “The first man with a knife raped me,” she said. “After the seventh one, I couldn‘t feel my body anymore. All seven came back and raped me again.” A Saudi court sentenced her attackers to prison terms and lashings. But then also sentenced the woman to 90 lashes for privately meeting with an unrelated male, a violation of the country‘s strict Islamic Law.
IBTIHAL MUBARAK, SAUDI WOMEN‘S RIGHTS ACTIVIST: After following several cases, this is the most clear, unjust sentence that has ever been made in a public case like this.
MYERS: The rape victim did something rare in Saudi Arabia, she appealed. The court recently responded by more than doubling her sentence to 200 lashes and six months in prison.
MUBARAK: She is devastated right now. She‘s very depressed.
MYERS: The Saudi government denied permission for NBC News to shoot in Qatif. But we spoke to the victim‘s husband by telephone.
He says the judges saw the rape as his wife‘s fault and treated her as a criminal.
DINA EL MAMOUN, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: Here, we have a victim that was not treated as a victim and was actually punished. Here, we have the Saudi Arabian authorities doing the opposite of what they should be doing.
MYERS: And the Saudis have responded to international criticism by escalating allegations against the women now claiming she confessed to an adulterous affair. But her lawyer says the government‘s new claims are not true. The case has triggered a broader debate inside Saudi Arabia about treatment of women who live under a strict dress code enforced by religious beliefs. Can‘t drive, can‘t vote, and can‘t work without permission from a male relative.
MUBARAK: This shows the need of immediate action reform towards woman rights and woman rules and regulations in the country.
MYERS (on camera): The White House has condemned the woman‘s sentence calling it outrageous. The Saudi foreign minister told U.S. reporters that unfortunate things can happen in the courts and the sentence will be reviewed.
(voice over): But so far no word on whether the Saudi king will use his power to overrule the courts, to prevent this from happening to other Saudi women. Lisa Myers, NBC News, Washington.
ABRAMS: The Saudi story is just one of a series of troubling incidents coming from Saudi Arabia. This week the Saudi royal family let 1,500 suspected al Qaeda terrorists out of prison after they apparently repented? Then, the Saudi foreign minister, Saud Al-Faisal reluctantly attended Mid-East peace talks today in Annapolis but told “Time” magazine ahead of time that he would not shake the Israeli prime minister‘s hand. It‘s a nice effort at peace. A new report is out that Saudis account for the largest number of foreign fighters infiltrating Iraq. According to American intelligence, Saudis make up 41 percent of foreign fighters there. So, how does this administration have any credibility about Iraq and the fight for democracy when we are aligning ourselves with the current regime in Saudi Arabia? Here now, Cliff May, the president for the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. All right. Cliff, I‘m not sure that you and I are going totally disagree on this but how does this administration justify a war in Iraq as part of a fight for democracy and then aligning ourselves with the Saudis?
CLIFF MAY, DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: Well, in a sense, Dan, the same way every administration going back to 1945, when Franklin Roosevelt met with King Abdul Aziz and the special relationship with the Saudis began. And every administration has turned a blind eye to the fact that Saudi Arabia practices gender and religious apartheid and it‘s state religion and ideology as Wahhabism as Jim Woolsey has said Wahhabism is the soil from which bin Laden grows.
ABRAMS: So, but the problem is that there is more intellectual dishonesty with this administration because of what this administration has said with the justification for going into Iraq.
MAY: Well, I think this administration would say they are trying, as others would, they‘re trying to change Saudi Arabia over time. But I think you are right that there is hypocrisy. On the other hand, no one knows quite what to do with it. By the way, I assume you also know that the Saudi Royal Family is listed as one of the top donors to the Bill Clinton Library in Arkansas. And the Saudi donors have been huge to the Carter, Jimmy Carter Center.
ABRAMS: Yes, but I‘m so much less interested in where they‘re donating money to non-profits in the United States than I am about justifying the war in Iraq based on the fight for democracy and then accepting the atrocities that I have just laid out about what is happening in Saudi Arabia.
MAY: Dan, that‘s because you are misunderstanding. The Saudis spend huge amounts of money in this country in order to maintain the kinds of relationships they now have, $20 million to Harvard University, $20 million to Georgetown. The Saudis will not be happy if we should succeed in Iraq and establish a democratic government there, especially one with Shiites at the head because the Saudis are vehemently anti-Shiites. Saudi Shiites are very much oppressed.
ABRAMS: It‘s a fair point you made. I‘m not disputing that your notion about the effect that they have on American culture. The problem, again, and I got to wrap this up is what I view as the intellectual dishonesty associated but your point is look, there‘s always been this level of dishonesty. I would say it‘s greater now than it‘s been with other administrations. All right. Cliff May, thanks a lot, as always. Appreciate it.
MAY: Thank you.
ABRAMS: We now have the anonymous letter sent to suspect Drew Peterson saying his wife was spotted at a supermarket with another man looking pregnant. That would mean she‘s alive. We‘ll show it to you. I am now convinced it will not help Peterson. And there seems to be a name-calling feud brewing inside CNN amongst its anchors. That‘s coming up 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: A feud may be brewing inside CNN. My pal, Rick Sanchez last night was talking about illegal immigration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANCHEZ, TV HOST: Look, I know this is not a popular position on this that I‘m taking but this is not about huge ratings anymore. This is about telling the truth. It‘s about not allowing people to be demonized for ratings.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: I wonder who is talking about. Maybe this guy who demonizes people every night for ratings?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOU DOBBS, TV HOST: Rising outrage over Maryland‘s law giving illegal aliens the same driving privileges. Setting anger at states that continue to give away driver‘s licenses to illegal aliens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Debate is one thing. When you get one anchor discussing another demonizing people for ratings you may have a problem for CNN in addition to other ratings problem they has that is the MSNBC beats CNN for the month of November in sales (ph) climb by (INAUDIBLE). All right.
Next up: FOX News adding insult to injury, this woman, Nadine Thompson agreed to go on FOX to talk about being kicked off a Southwest Airline flight because she was overweight. So, I‘m sure she didn‘t expect to get sucked in to a murder mystery in Pennsylvania they were reporting on half an hour before her segment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: This couple is having a lot of problems. She had already signed a lease on another apartment, was planning to move out, take her daughter with her and she also had hired a divorce lawyer and was going to try to get some large alimonies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: That‘s not the right woman. That‘s Nadine. They corrected the mistake later but you can imagine Nadine‘s friends gathering around the TV to watch her segment and saying, no, not Nadine.
Finally: A funny picture of CNN‘s Wolf Blitzer at the airport doing a little promo for the folks at CNBC. Take a look at his bag. Wolf, you can just ask, I‘m sure CNBC will send you all the swag you want so you can continue to promote our business network as possible. Wolf Blitzer shopping around.
We need your help Beating the Press. If you see anything right or wrong amusing or absurd, go to our Web site Abrams@msnbc.com. Please leave a tip in the box and include the show and the time you saw the item.
Up next: In a Stacy Peterson case, we have that mysterious letter sent to Drew Peterson that says his wife is still alive, that she was spotted in a supermarket with another man looking pregnant. I will show you the letter and tell you why I don‘t think it helps him.
And, later: Breaking development s in the case of American college student being held in her roommate‘s murder. Italian police revealing tonight that a bloody fingerprint belonging to suspect Amanda Knox, they say was found at the scene. Coming up.
ABRAMS: Coming up, there is breaking news in the case of the American college student under arrest for her roommate‘s murder. Italian police saying tonight they found her bloody fingerprint in the bathroom adjoining the victim‘s room. If that‘s true, that can‘t be good.
Plus, President Bush welcomes Middle East leaders to Maryland today and begins by butchering their names. It‘s possible Miss Puerto Rico may not have been a victim of sabotage after all. Police now investigating whether the beauty queen‘s makeup and gowns really were doused with pepper spray. It‘s in tonight‘s “Winners and Losers.”
But first, breaking news tonight in the case of missing mom Stacy Peterson. We have just received a copy of that anonymous letter that Stacy‘s husband Drew says he received last week. The writer claims to have seen Stacy, the mother of Peterson‘s two children, alive in a supermarket almost 150 miles from their suburban Chicago home.
A spokesman for the Kroger grocery chain confirming tonight that state police have visited this store in Peoria, Illinois, and have taken a store surveillance tape. The writer claims to have seen Stacy in the dairy section on November the 12th.
I am predicting they will find nothing relevant. Here is why. The writer describes what Stacy was allegedly wearing, black coat and black pants and asked if Stacy is pregnant saying she and to have a, quote, “little pudge.” But it‘s clear this writer has an ax to grind, blasting Dr. Baden, the former New York City chief medical examiner who performed autopsy on Peterson‘s third wife, declaring her death a homicide.
The writer says, quote: “I am very upset with Dr. Michael Baden. I hope your lawyers will be able to get rid of him. I do not believe anything he says. He got paid pretty well for that.” The writer is clearly rooting for Peterson. And then this, “I did not call the police when I saw her. That will be up to her if she decides to go back.”
Why not, when you know this woman is missing? And in addition to the usual problems with eyewitness accounts in high profile cases, I don‘t believe that this letter is going to have any credibility at all.
Joining me now is Steve Carcerano, Drew Peterson‘s neighbor and good friend, psychologist Doree Lynn, former prosecutor Monica Lindstrom, and Michael Gaynor, former New York City homicide detective and founder of East Coast Detectives. All right. Thank you all for coming on the program. I appreciate it. All right. Steve, I know you have been in close contact Drew Peterson. Are you, guys, really still holding out any hope from this letter?
STEVE CARCERANO, DREW PETERSON‘S NEIGHBOR: You know, the letter is what it is. I mean, when I called Drew Thanksgiving morning to wish him a happy Thanksgiving to him and his family, that‘s when he told me you are not going to believe this and told me about the letter. Then he went away from the phone. He went and got the letter and read it to me. You know, I think we need to have the Illinois State Police follow up on every lead.
And from what I understand, this isn‘t the only letter that Stacy‘s family has received. And again, I mean, in these high profile cases, certainly there is going to be a number of letters that are going to be mailed out, you know, just from the general public. So, you know, is it an actual sighting of Stacy? We hope so.
ABRAMS: Yes. Monica Lindstrom, I don‘t buy it.. I think this is another whack job who‘s trying to have a piece of the action in a high profile case.
MONICA LINDSTROM, FORMER PROSECUTOR: It‘s very, very possible, Dan. You know, as a prosecutor in this case, I would be very encouraged by the evidence regarding the blue barrel. As a family member I would be very encouraged about the letter itself.
But as both, you need to be very, very skeptical about all of the evidence. When you have a high profile case, there is the incidences of copy cats and sympathizers and you said it best yourself that this is hard to believe because is he kind of bashing and saying things. So the authenticity of this letter and the other evidence really is something that needs to be looked at. And no matter what, you need to be very skeptical when investigating these things.
ABRAMS: All right. Mike, the end of the letter says, “Please do not write to me,” is in handwriting. I mean, you know, this is all - it‘s done basically on a computer in this sort of script. We saw that from the full screens there. This is going to be nothing, right?
MICHAEL GAYNOR, FORMER NEW YORK CITY HOMICIDE DETECTIVE: I agree it‘s probably going to be nothing. How can he write if it was an anonymous letter in the first place? It could be either he has some involvement in this letter himself, or some screw ball, as you mentioned, because it‘s a common practice, somebody wants to get involved with a piece of the highlight.
ABRAMS: Let‘s talk about blue barrel and I will bring you back in on this, Steve, because I know you feel pretty strongly that this blue barrel is nothing. You‘ve got this neighbor who reportedly says Drew Peterson and a second man were seen moving some sort of blue barrel hours after Stacy was seen alive. Stacy‘s sister says she saw a barrel in the garage that held pool chlorine. That‘s a potentially significant clue.
GAYNOR: Everything right now in that case is purely circumstantial. Yes, it has potential, but if they don‘t come up with something scientific, some forensic evidence as a result of finding a barrel, the barrel, it‘s going to be virtually useless.
ABRAMS: Steve, what‘s Drew‘s position about the barrel?
CARCERANO: I asked him about two hours ago about the barrel again. I was over at his house, actually. He doesn‘t know what everybody‘s talking about a blue barrel.
ABRAMS: So he says he‘s never had barrels at his house?
CARCERANO: I asked him about a blue barrel they keep talking about. I know, two or three days into the investigation, that was brought up. I‘m hopeful that, you know, the Illinois State Police did some checking on it then. As early as, you know, two hours ago, Drew still doesn‘t know what they are talking about a blue barrel.
ABRAMS: All right. Doree, let me ask you about this letter. I want to ask you the psychology of - in high profile cases, why do you think it is that people want to have a piece of the action? Why do people write in? Let‘s assume for a moment that I‘m right that this is going to turn out to be nothing. Why would someone write a letter like this to Drew Peterson that she may believe that she saw Stacy, right?
DOREE LYNN, PSYCHOLOGIST: She certainly might. We are living in a world that is so media happy, and everybody and anyone wants to have a piece of the action and loves to copycat as you said. So, people find a way of getting involved anonymously or not anonymously.
ABRAMS: Steve, as his friend, you‘ve seen the evidence kind of pile up. You‘ve listened to the statements he‘s made publicly. Now, you have four of his five either engaged - or his wives are either missing or dead or they say that he stalked or threatened them. I mean, at the very least, it sounds like your pal wasn‘t a very good guy.
CARCERANO: I only knew him when him and Kathy moved in two doors down from us in 1999. And ever since that time, I can tell you very honestly that in that time, there was only two altercations that I have ever witnessed or known about. They have never had any fights or arguments that me or my wife or even the neighbors, her best friend, have ever heard them argue in that period of time. So it sounds kind of odd, but that‘s the truth.
ABRAMS: Doree, but that‘s not surprising psychologically, is it? I mean, if you have got a guy who is either a serial killer, as may be the case here, or a serial abuser at the very least, the neighbors, et cetera, might not know about it.
LYNN: No, not at all. This is - that would not be surprising. And you have to look at the specifics of this case. This is, first of all, an unusual marriage. There is a 30 year difference. He met her when she was 17. This is a - you don‘t understand the dynamics as an outsider. And you don‘t understand what went on inside. And it‘s most probable that she married him because he was some sort of savior or seemed as if he would be a protector.
And then you don‘t know what went on inside. And we do have some evidence that she wrote that she was very unhappy. That doesn‘t mean that she would tell the neighbors that she was unhappy. So, no, it‘s not unusual at all.
ABRAMS: Monica, let me bring you back to this letter, all right, again, that we are just getting our first hands on, this letter that the defense attorney made quite a big deal about over the Thanksgiving weekend. And, again, one that I do not believe will bear any fruit. I do not believe it will lead to any significant evidence. But she is claiming she spotted Stacy on November 12.
One of the things in a one-page letter, all right, that she says to Drew Peterson is “Please take care of yourself. I know that your boys love you, and just make sure you spoil them. Make them happy. Just make sure they all get a lot of hugs. Your little girl, Laci, is very cute. She will feel the loss of her mother. I pray for your whole family.”
I mean, she is going on and on. This is clearly someone who for some reason - remember all the people who came to love Scott Peterson when he was in prison? Everyone‘s - you know, he‘s getting all these letters every day from people saying, “You are so cute,” and this, this, and that. I‘m afraid that that‘s what this is.
LINDSTROM: Yes. Absolutely. And you know, people see what they want to see. She sees something in Drew Peterson, possibly, that she really likes. So maybe she fabricated this in her head that she saw Stacy at the store and she had to share this information.
We see what we want to see. She is using this to maybe get closer to Drew Peterson or have some kind of connection. So, as a prosecutor, I am looking at this extremely skeptical, thinking, OK, is this authentic or not? Because if we see what we want to see, what validity is there to this letter? We hope that it‘s true. But, what‘s the reality?
ABRAMS: Mike, it says, “I saw this guy outside the grocery store. This is the guy that was supposedly with her. And he was pacing real bad right in front of me. I could tell he wanted to talk to me.”
GAYNOR: Yes. It‘s pretty detailed. It sounds like somebody who wants to be part of the action. Like you say, it doesn‘t sound like something that‘s going to bear any fruit.
LYNN: You know, from the psychological standpoint, you have to question the veracity of the letter to begin with. You don‘t know who wrote it. You don‘t even know if possibly someone who knew Scott wrote it. It‘s a very hard letter to take, you know, in fact. And, if someone really cared, why wouldn‘t they have signed it?
ABRAMS: Yes, all right. Look, I agree.
ABRAMS: I agree. Look, I think this is going to come up as nothing, but we shall see. Dorree Lynn, thanks a lot. Steve Carcerano, look, I hope you don‘t take this personally. I respect the fact that you are defending your friend and neighbor and telling us exactly how you see it. And I have the utmost respect for you for that and I‘m not holding anything against you. Just this is my take on how I see the evidence in this case. I just didn‘t want you to think I was taking that out on you personally.
CARCERANO: No. Thank you very much for having me on, Dan.
ABRAMS: I appreciate it. Monica Lindstrom and Michael Gaynor are going to stay with us. Up next, major developments tonight in the case of University of Washington student, Amanda Knox, jailed after her roommate‘s murder. Italian police are saying tonight, they found her bloody fingerprint at the crime scene.
And later, Miss Puerto Rico, could she not be the victim of a back-stabbing, back stage massacre? Police are investigating whether there was really pepper spray in her makeup and clothes. It‘s in “Winners and Losers.”
ABRAMS: Did you know the University of Washington is the largest university in the northwestern United States, and the oldest public university in Washington? Coming up, things not looking good for University of Washington student Amanda Knox, a suspect in her roommate‘s murder. Italian police saying tonight, they found her bloody fingerprint at the scene. Coming up.
ABRAMS: There is breaking news tonight. New potentially devastating evidence placing American college student Amanda Knox at the scene of her roommate Meredith Kercher‘s murder. An investigator now saying a bloody fingerprint belonging to Knox has been found on the bathroom sink, even though Knox now denies being at the apartment the night her roommate was sexually assaulted and murdered.
The evidence against Knox is mounting. In addition to the blood evidence on the sink, other DNA from Knox was reportedly found near the handle of the knife possibly used in the attack. And, her bedroom, they say, was thoroughly cleaned, not even her own fingerprints were found in there. Remember, that‘s where she lived.
Plus, the fact that Knox changed her story about where she was when Kercher died, the reports about the DNA evidence come as we are hearing what can only be described as a bizarre story. We are going to call it the “spicy kebab defense.”
Rudy Hermann Guede, an African man who is being held in the killings, admits he was at the house the night it happened. He is now telling police that, quote, “Kercher had ‘flirted,‘ but she said they could not have sex because he did not have a condom. He then went to the toilet because he had eaten a ‘spicy kebab.‘ He said that he failed to hear an intruder come into the house because he had iPod earphones in his ears.”
I mean, come on. Michael Gaynor, the retired New York City Police
Department - first of all, put aside his defense for a minute. Amanda Knox
if they have a bloody fingerprint, that‘s a big deal.
GAYNOR: It‘s a big deal, not necessarily enough to convict her, but it‘s a big deal. After all, she did live there, like you said, and there is going to be an argument that the bloody fingerprint - the bloodstain could have gone on fingerprint that already existed. However, they are going to look for the weakest link in this case, and they‘re going to turn (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
ABRAMS: The great defense attorney, Larry Pozner, is with us. Larry, I‘m going to read to you from the lead investigator in this case, all right? “The stain visible to the naked eye belonged to Amanda Knox. The visibility of the stain excludes that it could have been left in the days before the crime because it would certainly have been washed.” Tough.
LARRY POZNER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: OK. But where is it? It‘s on the faucet in the bathroom. You know, somebody sexually assaulted and murdered this woman, and every piece of evidence seems to be pointing at a male, not a female. As you point out, Guede, or however you pronounce it - his story is so bizarre. He was going to have sex with her and then the DNA shows that he did have sex with her. And then, he went to the bathroom and somebody rang the doorbell. And there was a fight and he got wounded and that‘s why he ran away? Is anybody buying that story? This may show that Amanda Knox has behaved badly, but it doesn‘t do anything to show she is a murder.
ABRAMS: Monica, let me read to you another quote. Again, this is from “The Telegraph.” According to lead investigator, Giuliano Mignini, “A very serious indication that Amanda Knox was at the scene of the murder is a very visible blood stain on the tap of the sink in the bathroom attached to the room where the crime was committed.” I mean, fingerprint is one thing, bloody fingerprint is a problem.
LINDSTROM: A big problem. And just like we said on the other segment, as a prosecutor, I am really encouraged by this evidence. Because no matter what her explanation is for this new evidence, I can use that at least to defeat any kind of motion or argument her attorneys come up with to get her released from jail.
That information, along with the fact of her inconsistent statements, “I wasn‘t there but then I was there but I was covering up my ears not to hear anything,” all of that evidence together at a minimum will keep her in jail. And we know that she can be kept in jail for up to a year. So this evidence is very encouraging and the fact that it was found in the bathroom, that‘s great evidence. Where do you go to wash off blood? The bathroom.
HAMMER: But Larry, this guy, Guede, supposedly made a comment that she wasn‘t there. I mean, you know, that‘s potentially helpful to her, except for the fact that his story, as you point out, is so wacky about the spicy kebab, about having to go to the bathroom and then he‘s got his iPod ear phones on, et cetera.
POZNER: Yes, right. Nobody gets to Amanda Knox as the murderer in this case, so I think it‘s reasonable they are investigating. Did she know something? Did she see something? Is she covering up something?
But it really is not going to help them make the case that she‘s the murderer. And remember, it‘s not a crime to do things that are stupid after the crime has taken place. That doesn‘t make her a murderer or a complicitor.
ABRAMS: Well, it may not make her murder, but if she was involved, meaning she doesn‘t have to - and again, I‘m not that familiar with Italian law. But in America, at least, she would not have to have actually stabbed her roommate or sexually assaulted her roommate to still be convicted in this country, Larry of being a murderer and a sexual assaulter.
POZNER: If she had a role in the sexual assault and the murder. But if she comes upon it afterwards and in a panic, helps somebody do something to cover it up, that doesn‘t make her a murderer. We all agree.
ABRAMS: We shall see. Monica Lindstrom, Michael Gaynor, Larry, great to have you back.
Up next, in “Winners and Losers,” President Bush butchers the names of Middle East leaders. “Details” magazine names Anna Nicole‘s ex Larry Birkhead as the seventh most influential man under 45. And police are investigating whether Miss Puerto Rico was really sabotaged.
A president who continues to be tongue-tied; a magazine who celebrities a man because his lover died; or a beauty queen who could be ruined if someone lied. Which will be tonight‘s big winner or loser?
ABRAMS: It‘s time for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers” for this 27th day of November 2007. Our first loser, U.S. President George Bush. “W” welcomed Middle East leaders to Annapolis, Maryland today, including Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. He began the meeting by butchering their names.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: The Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas (MISPRONOUNCES THE NAMES).
ABRAMS (voice over): Of course not the first time the tongue-tied commander-in-chief has gotten heat for references to foreign leaders.
BUSH: Where is Mandela? Mandela is dead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Our first winners, the hottest foreign leaders topping a new list of the world‘s most eligible. “Foreign Policy” magazine unveiled its latest list of the most stunning and single international movers and shakers. Many are names President Bush has gotten on the first try.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: President Sarkozy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: The French president followed in second place by -
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Condi Rice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Our second loser, “Details Magazine,” which named bumbling Britney Spears ex, Kevin Federline as the seventh influential man under the age of 45.
Yes, K-Fed managed to out-clout radically rocky cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and new Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal. But he shamefully shares the seventh spot with Anna Nicole‘s ex, Larry Birkhead with reunion with daughter Dannielynn still didn‘t help him crack “Details‘” tough nut.
Our second winner, Jermaine Jackson, now dropping details of a reunion of the Jackson Five. Jermaine telling a British TV station, “We owe it to the fans and to the public. And Michael will be involved.” The soon-to-be reformed five-some hasn‘t toured together in more than 20 years, though Jermaine says the comeback would have come back earlier if not for the whole Michael child abuse trial thing.
But the big winner of the day? Massachusetts senator Ted Kennedy, reportedly getting more than $8 million for his memoirs. The pricey payout becomes one of the most expensive advances in publishing history. JFK‘s brother will apparently open up about his past scandals, promising an authentic account of the family known as American royalty.
The big loser of the day? Beauty pageant royal Miss Puerto Rico, whose story of sabotage may not necessarily be authentic. It was reported yesterday that Ingrid Marie Rivera‘s gown and makeup were doused with pepper spray and that she persevered to win and head to the Miss Universe pageant. But now, police are investigating the beauty queen‘s claim of catty backstage behavior.
Joining us now on the phone, NBC‘s Kerry Sanders who is in San Juan Puerto Rico tonight. Kerry, thanks for joining us. Why this new skepticism?
KERRY SANDERS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, they just have questions. It doesn‘t quite literally pass the smell test. She was wearing a dress allegedly that was soaked or laced with some sort of pepper spray, and yet she wasn‘t crying when she was on stage. She says, backstage, she put ice on her face, was able to keep the swelling or the hives down, the eyes from welling up.
The other thing police want to know is if this was permeating through her dress, what about everybody else who was around her? Nobody else had any sort of effects. If you‘ve ever been near an area where a pepper spray unit is actually fired off, it affects pretty much the crowd around there. So they have her makeup, they have her dress at the forensics lab.
The scientists there are going to take some time away from solving murders and they‘re going to try to determine if, indeed, there is anything on her dress and her makeup that suggests it was contaminated.
ABRAMS: All right, Kerry, thanks very much. Appreciate it. We shall see. Be sure to catch Miss Puerto Rico on the “Today” show tomorrow morning. That‘s all the time we have for tonight. And again, we don‘t know she may have been telling the truth. Up next stay tuned for another edition of “TO CATCH A PREDATOR.” I‘ll see you tomorrow.
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