Guests: Dan Abrams, Rohit Kachroo, Pat Buchanan, Lawrence O‘Donnell, Bob DeNinni, Jeff Gardere, Hanno Settele, Jennifer Spaulding, Crystal McCrary Anthony, Vicky Ward
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Tonight: Obama and Clinton get personal in major network interviews before the big Tuesday vote.
We assess how they did with Pat Buchanan, Crystal McCrary Anthony, and Lawrence O‘Donnell.
And: Karl Rove‘s lawyer blames this program for the fact that the House Judiciary Committee is demanding that Rove testify. I respond.
And: More developments in the case of that father who kept his family in an underground bunker for 24 years.
VERDICT starts now.
Hi, everyone and welcome to the show.
And first up tonight: As the polls now tighten in Indiana and North Carolina, Clinton and Obama sit down for what may be their most important interviews yet. The latest poll in Indiana shows Obama holding a just one point lead in the state. NBC News is calling the state a tossup leaning towards Clinton.
In North Carolina, the race is narrowing, too. Obama now holds just a seven-point edge over Clinton in the latest poll, he‘d been leading by double digits in many polls last month.
As we head into these two crucial elections, both candidates now are getting grilled in a pair of dueling sit-down interviews. Obama and his wife Michelle, facing tough questions on THE TODAY SHOW this morning, among them: Are they elitist and why can‘t Obama close the deal?
Clinton is facing off with FOX‘s Bill O‘Reilly, responding to the charge that she‘s too polarizing to be elected.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEREDITH VIEIRA, NBC HOST: The politics is tough business as you found out. And when you talk about the big states, you‘ve also been able to put a lot of money into them and haven‘t been as successful as I‘m sure you would have hoped to be. There are people who might look at the recent record and are beginning to question, “Gee, why doesn‘t he close the deal?”
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D-IL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me dispel the big state argument which we hear constantly from the media. I won my home state of Illinois as Senator Clinton did, she won New York. I also won Georgia, big state. I won Missouri, big state. I won Wisconsin, swing state. I won Virginia, big state. But we‘ve also done is we‘ve expanded the map
VIEIRA: If at the end of the day you have more pledged delegates but the superdelegates decide Hillary Clinton is doing better when she goes up against McCain in these polls, than you are doing, or however they make that decision, can you live with that?
OBAMA: We always knew this was an improbable journey when we started off. And, you know, I think because of our success, people have forgotten that. People discount what we‘ve accomplished and then focus on, well, you know, you‘ve lost a couple of states. But the truth is that we always knew this was hard and the reason is because we‘re trying to do something that...
BILL O‘REILLY, FOX HOST: Before Reverend Wright derailed him, Barack Obama had some momentum because you are a more polarizing personality than he is, would you agree with it? He‘s perceived as a nicer guy.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D-NY) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I‘ve been a around a long time. You know, I bear a lot the scars and the ideological and the political battle. I stand up for what I believe in.
You know when I started running in New York, people didn‘t think I could win and then I came back and won 67 percent of the vote.
O‘REILLY: Look, you‘ve done good in New York.
CLINTON: And reason is because I reached across party lines. I‘m the one with the record of bipartisanship.
O‘REILLY: But you‘re a more polarizing personality. You‘re like I am, and I hate to say that with all due respect...
O‘REILLY: But you are. And Obama is because he‘s a nice guy, and that‘s what this is all about.
CLINTON: You know, (INAUDIBLE) to think, if you want to take on the health insurance companies and drug companies.
O‘REILLY: You got to be tough.
CLINTON: The oil companies—you got to be tough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: And, of course, it‘s about Bill.
Here to assess who won and loss - MNSBC political analyst and former presidential candidate, Pat Buchanan; Crystal McCrary Anthony, co-host of BET-J‘s “Two Cents;” and, political analyst, Lawrence O‘Donnell.
All right. Lawrence, let me start with you. Look, we‘ve just seen little clips here but you‘ve seen much more about these views, Obama doing a long interview, Clinton doing a long interview, how did they do?
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Obama had a bigger audience first of all and it was—I think it worked better for Obama. You know, Hillary, I think, was wasting her time on FOX News, I don‘t think she‘s going to be picking up any Clinton voters with that audience. It was - tonight‘s interview that O‘Reilly did was pure substance by the way, none of this horserace stuff, it was all issues all the way through, which is rare.
I mean, you don‘t see those kinds...
ABRAMS: Did she do well?
O‘DONNELL: You don‘t see those interviews any more. Yes, she did very well hanging in there against Bill on these things. But I just don‘t see that interview as being a real factor in what‘s going forward. And you know, asking Obama about why can‘t you close the deal is just weird horserace stuff. I mean, he‘s ahead, you know. And he wasn‘t even supposed to come close to winning in Indiana and Indiana is now very close. He doesn‘t have to win Indiana.
ABRAMS: All right. Pat Buchanan, I want to stay on these interviews. Pat Buchanan, how did they do today?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think they both did well. I think Hillary did well because she went into the lion‘s den and she‘s a fighter and a lot of conservatives, frankly, are applauding her because she keeps getting off both the canvas and they love a fight.
I think Obama did well, he always does well in interview but Obama‘s got a real problem. Look, that big state thing‘s got truth to it. She‘s beaten him in New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Michigan, Florida, California, Texas. That‘s about eight of the eight biggest states except for Illinois. And that‘s the powerful argument against him if...
O‘DONNELL: McCain is not going to win those states.
BUCHANAN: Look, he isn‘t going to win North Carolina in the general. He‘s not going to win Georgia, not going to win South Carolina.
O‘DONNELL: He is going to California. He is going to win New York. He is going New Jersey, Pat.
BUCHANAN: They‘re both going to win those, look, but his problems, Larry, you know as well as I do, his problem is Pennsylvania, his problem is Ohio, his problem is Michigan, his problem is Florida. She‘s tougher in those states.
ABRAMS: All right.
O‘DONNELL: But that‘s going to be—those states are going to be tough for either Democrat.
ABRAMS: Let me come back to the interviews.
BUCHANAN: Very tough for Obama.
ABRAMS: Hang on a second. How‘d they do?
CRYSTAL MCCRARY ANTHONY, HOST OF BET-J‘S “TWO CENTS”: I think they both did well. I think Pat is correct. They both did well. However, I do disagree that Hillary will pick up a few votes doing the O‘Reilly interview. I mean, she invoked Reagan, she—you know, courting (ph) to the “Reagan Democrats.”
And I think that we have to remember here, is this—at this point it may not necessarily be about persuasion, but if you think about the David Brooks‘ “Times” article, it‘s really about social identity here. You know, demography is king here and Hillary, it‘s true, the battleground states are key, and she has done much better in the battleground states. I mean...
ABRAMS: How much do interviews like this matter, Lawrence?
O‘DONNELL: It‘s hard to say, especially at this point, because these interviews are about shaping in effect - well, you know, again the O‘Reilly interview tonight, it was complete substance, it was all on real governing points. The Obama interview was much more about making people comfortable with this person. It‘s the kind of interview you do months earlier than now. These candidates are already very well introduced to their audience and so...
ABRAMS: But you know what...
O‘DONNELL: Go ahead.
ABRAMS: But part of it was, Pat, I mean, part of it, you know, O‘Reilly plays gotcha with her and starts asking her questions about Pakistan, et cetera, and trying to figure out, you know, if she can name this—that to me is not substance, that to me is game show material.
BUCHANAN: But look, it is tough and he‘s adversarial in my judgment, but she handled it well. She came right back at him. She had some humor in there. I thought she did a good thing and the points made here I think are right. There are some “Reagan Democrats” out there, the “beer and shot” guys voted for her. They came to like her in PA and (INAUDIBLE).
ANTHONY: Right. Barack Obama cannot go into a salon and have a drink in the same way that Hillary Clinton can go in and do that. It‘s not going to have that effect.
BUCHANAN: And that‘s her thing, working class woman right now, and it‘s coming off very well. She‘s run a better campaign than he has for the last two months. He ran a far better one the first two months of the year.
ABRAMS: Here‘s O‘Reilly quizzing Clinton on her knowledge of Pakistan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FOX NEWS)
O‘REILLY: I‘m going to give you a quiz question, don‘t answer it if you don‘t want to. It‘s not fair really but I‘m going to do it because I think it‘s interesting. Do you know where the primary haven is for the Taliban right now?
CLINTON: It‘s in Pakistan.
CLINTON: Well, it‘s along the border and there are a couple of different places, it‘s not just one place. You know...
O‘REILLY: But there‘s a command and control, do you where it is?
CLINTON: Where do you say it is?
O‘REILLY: It‘s in Quetta. OK, that‘s where it is.
CLINTON: But that‘s not the only place.
O‘REILLY: No, but it‘s command and control.
CLINTON: First of all, Bill, I think there may be a concentration of Taliban in Quetta.
O‘REILLY: That‘s the leadership.
CLINTON: But, because they are primarily positions (ph) -- they are all through that area.
O‘REILLY: You know, I‘m talking the big guys.
CLINTON: Well, the big guys move.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Lawrence, that‘s substance? I mean, come on.
O‘DONNELL: Yes, it is.
ABRAMS: Come on.
O‘DONNELL: Yes, it is, it‘s absolutely substance. You might not like O‘Reilly‘s style but it was - and she handled very, very well. And look, one of the problems though with this is as we know, the left edge of the Democratic Party despises Bill O‘Reilly. Bill O‘Reilly knows this. He was talking about it in the show. For Hillary to go in there is going to cause her even more problems on that side of the Democratic Party.
ABRAMS: Pat, go ahead. Do you want to respond to it?
BUCHANAN: No, I agree with Lawrence‘s first half. I think she handled it pretty well. It was sort of a trick question. You know you can say it Waziristan here and there, they had this one little place—but I think there is a sparring back-and-forth but it was about a deadly serious matter, where are these guys, why haven‘t we gotten them. I just...
ABRAMS: No. But it wasn‘t about why, it was about the name of the location and the debate over where‘s the control center, right.
BUCHANAN: Well, OK, but...
O‘DONNELL: But her answer has transcended that.
BUCHANAN: You know, Bill was making his little point, but I don‘t think this hurts her with the left-wing of the party.
BUCHANAN: Look, if a conservative can go over there on Air America and do well, I mean, people we say, “Gee, that‘s helpful. That guy might win.”
ABRAMS: You know, look, I think there‘s a big difference and I said there‘s a big difference between Clinton going on FOX and Obama going on FOX, because I think Obama, FOX has made a campaign out of going after him, sort of doing breaking news on Reverend Wright‘s travel schedule, et cetera.
ANTHONY: He can‘t go on FOX.
ABRAMS: But look, he went on with Chris Wallace and the interview was fine. But I‘d just think it‘s a matter of principles, there‘s a big difference considering what a campaign FOX has made out of going after...
BUCHANAN: But, Dan, you mean, they haven‘t been after Hillary Clinton for 15 years?
ABRAMS: No, I agree. But you know what—this is now and that is then, Pat. I mean, you know. Yes. All right.
BUCHANAN: World changes.
ABRAMS: Let me play another piece of sound. This is from Obama talking about elitism on THE TODAY SHOW.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, THE TODAY SHOW)
VIEIRA: When you hear somebody called your husband an elitist or they called you unpatriotic at one point, when you hear them say about you - well, he doesn‘t have fire in his belly, he‘s a rugala (ph) in his belly. How do you respond to that?
OBAMA: Well, look, we wouldn‘t be sitting here if that was the perception of the majority of the American people. It‘s only when you become the front-runner that suddenly people are looking for potential chinks in the armor. Now...
VIEIRA: But are you responsible for some of the things that you said?
OBAMA: Oh, absolutely. There‘s no doubt about it. I mean, I think that - well, there‘s one particular thing which was the comments I made in San Francisco at the end of a long day that were very poorly phrase. I should have said angry and frustrated instead of bitter, I should have said people rely on religious faith during these times of trouble instead of cling to.
I mean, the irony is—is that, you know, I think it is fair to say that both Michelle and I grew up in much less privileged circumstances than either of my two other potential opponents.
VIEIRA: But they are not the ones being called elitist. Why do you think that is?
OBAMA: And we‘re (ph) just curious, well, I think - look, let‘s be honest. You know, here I am, an African-American named Barack Obama, right - who‘s running for president. I mean, that‘s a leap for folks.
MICHELLE OBAMA, BARACK OBAMA‘S WIFE: Part of, you know, what we‘ve been doing and—is we have to introduce ourselves to people. People have to know all sides of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Pat, how did it go?
BUCHANAN: I think they sound like two very nice people. Frankly, when Barack Obama is on television, I mean—that was not sort of a forceful response but it sounds like an honest genuine guy who‘s under fire and he‘s a very nice guy. And I think he always helps himself when he sits down at interviews like that, and I don‘t think he ever really hurt himself.
ABRAMS: Yes, Lawrence, out of this—is the elitist thing really stick with Obama?
O‘DONNELL: The elitist thing is the most silly press construction of the campaign yet. The latest poll indicates that Barack Obama scores highest and understands people like me. That proves this is nothing but people in makeup on television talking about elitism. And really rich guys like Buchanan...
O‘DONNELL: Guys like Buchanan who can buy and sell Obama talking about elitism.
ABRAMS: Wait. Crystal, final word.
ANTHONY: I was just going to say it‘s the media constructed label that Barack Obama has and I have to comment on her, you know, saying people are saying you don‘t have fire on your belly.
The flip side of this is that if Barack Obama did suddenly turn into the, you know, let‘s call it the elephant in the room, the angry black man, that certainly wouldn‘t go over well either and that hasn‘t been his style. His style is to been the dignified and I think he‘s walking a very tough line. And you‘re right, he did turn out very nice and I liked them sitting there and seeing them as a couple.
ABRAMS: Real quick, I got (INAUDIBLE).
BUCHANAN: Dan, that the elitist issue is the killer for him. The left-wing elitist is the killer.
ABRAMS: All right. We shall see. Pat Buchanan former owner of a Mercedes as Lawrence O‘Donnell has pointed on this program. Crystal McCrary Anthony...
ANTHONY: American owned cars for me.
ABRAMS: And Lawrence O‘Donnell, thank, you we appreciate it.
Coming up: Breaking developments in Congress‘s attempt to get Karl Rove to testify. The House Judiciary Committee now threatening to subpoena Rove and his attorney is blaming this program. I respond.
And: The D.C. madam found dead. The woman whose clients included Senator David Vitter, apparently, hanged herself and left two suicide notes. The question: What secrets died with her? And some asking: Is it possible it wasn‘t suicide?
Plus: Members of Congress getting a free ride. Cadillac, Lexus, BMW on taxpayer dimes.
America Hates Washington is coming up in 60 seconds.
ABRAMS: Tonight‘s edition of Why America Hates Washington: Congressmen cruising around in luxury cars while taxpayers foot the bill. The House of Representatives allows its member to lease a car, all expenses paid including the high cost of gas, with few restrictions. While some of the 125 members taken advantage of this benefit chose less costly cars, others ride around in gas-guzzling Caddis or Lexus or BMWs.
Congressmen getting a free ride while many Americans run on empty: another reason Why America Hates Washington.
Coming up: Karl Rove‘s lawyer blames this program for the fact that he‘s been asked to testify in front of Congress. I respond.
ABRAMS: Breaking tonight: Congress may finally be prepared to subpoena Karl Rove in connection with the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, at issue whether Siegelman was prosecuted on corruption charges because he‘s a Democrat and was Karl Rove behind that prosecution?
The House Judiciary Committee giving Rove‘s attorney until May 12th to agree to testify or they‘ll consider a subpoena to try to force him. The committee cited this program, after all his lawyer told us Rove would testify if subpoenaed. But now, they are saying, Rove will only talk about it with the committee and only if no transcript is made and if it‘s not done under oath.
Stunningly, his lawyer Robert Luskin is blaming us. Responding to Congress, Luskin wrote, quote, “Your invitation is premised on reports that I expressed Mr. Rove‘s willingness to testify before the committee. The report in question was based on an e-mail exchange with a producer for a cable news network and was taken grossly out of context.”
Out of context. Mr. Luskin, if you or Mr. Rove, want to change your mind about testifying, you‘re more than entitled to do so, that‘s your decision. But please, do not falsely accuse us of taking anything out of context as you now have multiple times, there was no ambiguity in our e-mail exchange. On April 7th at 4:00 p.m., we asked, quote, “Will your client Karl Rove consider testifying under oath about the Siegelman case?” You responded at 4:24, “I‘m not sure I understand the question, whether or not there‘s an investigation and whether or not he‘s asked to testify are not matters that are within his control.”
We responded at 4:59, quote, “Sorry. Let me be more clear. Will Karl Rove agree to testify if Congress issues a subpoena to him as part of the investigation into the Siegelman case?
You responded two hours later, at 6:59, “Sure. Although it seems to me that the question is somewhat offensive. It assumes he has something to hide, even though—Governor Siegelman‘s uncorroborated assertions aside—there‘s literally no credible evidence whatsoever to substantiate his charges. I would hope that you‘d get around to mentioning that fact.”
Mr. Luskin, I dare you to claim that was not the verbatim e-mail exchange between my producer and you.
The Judiciary Committee responded to Luskin today, saying, quote, “We simply do not understand why anyone who is prepared to tell the truth would object to an oath and a record of what is said. This is particularly true in this case, where Mr. Rove has already spoken on the record on this subject before the news media.”
We will follow up to see what Congress, Rove, and Luskin do next.
Moving on: Today, we learned that D.C. madam, Deborah Jeane Palfrey, committed suicide at her mother‘s Florida home. Palfrey ran a high-end prostitution ring in Washington, D.C. that included high-profile clients such as Louisiana Senator David Vitter. Now, her body was discovered by her mother.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPT. JEFFREY YOUNG, TARPON SPRINGS, FL. POLICE DEPT.: Blanche Palfrey discovered her daughter, Deborah, had apparently hung herself using a nylon rope from a metal beam on a ceiling of the shed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Palfrey was convicted of running the call girl service last month and was awaiting sentence.
Joining me now: Vicky Ward contributing to CNBC and “Vanity Fair.” She kept in touch with the D.C. madam and had her last contact with her in February. Vicky, good to see you.
VICKY WARD, CNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Hey, Dan.
ABRAMS: So, the question that a lot of people are asking is: Are we certain and confident that it was suicide?
WARD: When I called Blanche Palfrey half an hour ago, I got a member in the family, they weren‘t saying anything, they said that she will back to you for a moment. It‘s just within the family. But they certainly weren‘t refuting anything. And...
ABRAMS: Well, based on what you know.
WARD: Based on what I know, Jeane Palfrey sent many e-mails to me over the past year. The last e-mail she sent to me on February 28th said, “I‘m in the fight of my life.” And her last words were, “at the age of 51,” facing the penalty that she was likely to face, “would be tantamount to a virtual life sentence, stripping me of some of the most productive years remaining in my life.”
So, of course, re-reading that today, when I heard the news, I thought to myself, it seems pretty clear you know, I know Jeane Palfrey very well. I know how much she hated her experience in jail in 1991. And she wrote sort of heartbreaking letter to the judge, begging to be released, claimed it nearly blinded her, and she said that her experience in jail left her so weak that this was in fact the reason she then returned to prostitution because she felt she was not capable of taking on a job she knew nothing about.
ABRAMS: What about her list? I mean, do we know, do we have a sense of just anyone else have access to that list? Is it ever going to be made public?
WARD: Well, Blanche Palfrey, various lawyers, Preston Burton, her lawyers would have seen that list. I don‘t think it will be made public, chunks of it have already been (INAUDIBLE) by various investigative journalist. I mean, and in fact, there are legal questions as to whether or not some of the names that did come out should have been let out.
I mean, there‘s Jeane Palfrey handled this case, I think badly right from the very beginning. She fired both the lawyers that were appointed to her. She, I think, was so desperate not to go back to court that she thought she would try and set up some precedents, fight this her way, and even her death may in some way be a precedent. I think she might, I mean, she may have done this as sort of some act of martyrdom (ph).
ABRAMS: But do you think that she would have - I mean, that the blogs are going crazy with conspiracy theories about who might have killed here.
ABRAMS: Do you think that that‘s what she could have expected?
WARD: Well, she, herself had endless conspiracy theories. She could not understand and it consumed her. She could not understand why she had been singled out and certainly towards the end of last year when I met her, I wanted to talk about the Senator Vitter and didn‘t she think this was helpful to her case.
She wasn‘t remotely interested in Senator Vitter, didn‘t think it had any bearing on her case. She said, “No, no, this is about the conspiracy against me and I want to know, you know, why I‘ve been singled out. There‘s a much - it goes to - it‘s about the government,” and she wanted to subpoena all, (INAUDIBLE) 83 agencies, escort agencies in the Washington area. She wants to subpoena all of them. And you know, I kind of think that she went a bit mad feeling this.
ABRAMS: Well, apparently if she committed suicide, there was something that was going on there. Vicky Ward, thank you very much for coming on the program. We‘re just trying to get you on for a while. It‘s great to have you on. Appreciate it.
WARD: Thank you, Dan.
ABRAMS: Coming up: New details tonight about the man who confessed to fathering seven children with his daughter while holding her and many of the children captive for over 20 years in a bunker underneath his house. We now know he‘d been arrested and convicted before.
And: CNN apparently thinking viewers need a hydraulic lift to understand what it means when gas prices go up. It‘s coming up in Beat the Press.
ABRAMS: It‘s time for tonight‘s Beat the Press.
First up: Las Vegas FOX reporter, Bob DeNinnis led Monday night‘s newscast with a live report showing viewers how easy it is for thieves to break into your home with a tool called the bump key.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB DENINNIS, FOX REPORTER: All right. I‘m going to demonstrate. Here we go. Takes a few hits.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Well, Bob continues to work on the lock. We‘ll move on. We‘ll check back in with him. Remember that was live.
Next up: I love this “New York Times” correction today, it reads, “An article on Tuesday about Chinese students in the United States who have to deal with negative images of their home country misspelled the family name of a doctoral student at the University of Southern California, who said the western news media were biased against China.
Of course, misspelling the Chinese student‘s names didn‘t help but doing it twice makes it worse. And a correction in this space on Wednesday gave another incorrect spelling. He is Chao Wu—not Chou Wu or Chau Wu.”
Back to Las Vegas Fox reporter, Bob DeNinnis, for two minutes live he was working on that lock he said it‘d be so easy to pick. Let‘s check back in with him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DENINNIS: All right. This usually takes a few times to work. We‘ll come back and we‘ll demonstrate for we‘re going to talk to the package right now. We‘re going to go to the story. Take a look.
ABRAMS: OK. We‘re going to check back with Bob in a minute. Finally: Last night, CNN continue to condescend to its viewers. This is senior business correspondent - senior business - Ali Velshi, helping viewers understand what it means when people say -
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: It‘s time for tonight‘s “Beat the Press” First up, Las Vegas Fox reporter, Bob DeNinnis, led Monday night‘s news cast with a live report showing viewers how easy it is for thieves to break into your home with a tool called a bump key.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB DENINNIS, LAS VEGAS FOX REPORTER: All right. I‘m going to demonstrate. Here we go. Stays up to your hands.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Uh-oh. While Bob continues to work on the lock, we‘ll move on. We‘ll check back in. Remember, that was live.
Next up, I love this “New York Times” correction today. It reads, “An article on Tuesday, a Chinese student in the United States who had to deal with negative images of their home country, misspelled the family name of a doctoral student at the University of Southern California, who said the western news media were biased against China. Of course, misspelling the Chinese students‘ names didn‘t help. But doing it twice makes it worse. And a correction in this space on Wednesday gave another incorrect spelling. He is Chow Wu(ph) - not Chou Wu(ph), Chau Wu(ph).”
As for the Las Vegas Fox 5 reporter Bob DeNinnis, for two minutes, live, he was working on that lock. He said it would be so easy to pick. Let‘s check back in with him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DENINNIS: All right. This usually takes a few times to work. We‘ll come back and we‘ll demonstrate. But we‘re going to the package right now. We‘re going to go to the story. Take a look.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: OK. We‘re going to check back with Bob in a minute. Finally, last night, CNN continued to condescend to its viewers. This is senior business correspondent - senior - Ali Velshi, helping viewers understand what it means when people say gas prices are going up.
ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I‘ve got to actually show you proportionately $3.60. We‘ve been going up for a month at more than a cent a day.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Be careful there.
VELSHI: I shall. It doesn‘t sound like that much - just a penny a day. But if you went up that long for 365 days, take a look at where you‘d be in a year. We‘ll be over $7 a gallon in just a year from now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: I‘m guessing - I‘m just guessing that the viewers would have understood without the hydraulic lift.
Now back to Las Vegas, Fox 5 reporter Bob DeNinnis who‘s finally wrapping up.
DENINNIS: We weren‘t able to actually get in this time. But we were able to get into a couple of other homes and we were able to actually do this before.
ABRAMS: Yes. Sure you were, Bob. Sure.
Up next, new details tonight on a much more serious note about this man, the face of evil. Confessed to imprisoning his own daughter for 24 years, repeatedly raping her, fathering seven of her children. New video from inside the secret underground bunker where he held them. And now we learned he allegedly threatened to pump poison gas into the bunker if he was harmed.
And later, this scene is actually a ritual in India, coming up.
ABRAMS: We‘re back. We continue to learn new details about the horrifying story of 73-year-old Josef Fritzl and the children he held captive including his daughter Elisabeth who he imprisoned for 24 years, beginning at the age of 18. Three of the seven kids he fathered with his daughter were also held in the secret underground bunker shown in this new video.
Police are now investigating claims that Fritzl developed a gas mechanism in the basement to release poisonous fumes if his prisoners tried to escape. And according to a tenant he once bragged that the house they lived in would go down in history. Rohit Kachroo with our British partner ITV has the latest details.
ROHIT KACHROO, ITV REPORTER (voice over): It is a national holiday in Austria. But in Amstetten, there can be no celebration while disturbing details continue to emerge. Details about the beast who built a dungeon then constructed a world of fear and secrecy around it. Alfred Dubanovsky(ph) was a tenant of the house for 12 years, living in an apartment above the basement.
He told me how he heard scratching and knocking but thought nothing of it. Then he spoke of a rare conversation with Fritzl in which he shared this chilling prediction.
ALFRED DUBANOVSKY(PH), JOSEF FRITZL‘S FORMER TENANT: Josef said this house will go down in history. I didn‘t understand why he said that.
KACHROO: It is now clear that not even the family who lived upstairs in the house with Josef had their true liberty. His sister-in-law today said he ran the home like a dictatorship, going to the basement to sleep overnight telling his wife he was working on machinery down there and forbidding any questions from her.
(on camera): What was emerging about the state of the children rescued from here, they appeared to speak with mumbles and with grunts. They appear to have their own language, but for so many years they had their own world, a tiny windowless world which ended five feet and six inches above the ground.
(voice over): Details which are proving too difficult for other youngsters here to comprehend. According to this school teacher who knows Josef and his wife.
CHRISTOF LAUMAR, FRIEND OF JOSEF FRITZL: You have to assure them that they aren‘t in the same danger, because this is what might be possible now. The children are afraid because this is what might happen to children, so this is what might happen to me as well.
KACHROO: The grotesque truth about the home attracts intrigue and disgust. While we learn about what happened inside, questions endure. One person asked here, why did he do it? And why did no one realize? Rohit Kachroo, ITV News, Austria.
ABRAMS: Joining us once again is clinical psychologist, Dr Jeff Gardere; the bureau chief of Austria Radio and TV, Hanno Settele; and joining us on the phone again is Jennifer Spaulding, who, in 2001 was kidnapped and held captive for months in an underground bunker in upstate New York. Her captor is serving a term of 18 years to life. Thanks to all of you for coming on again. I appreciate it.
All right. Hanno, let me start with you on some of these new details. I want to read to you something that we‘re hearing from a police official via Reuters, that “Fritzl pretended to be the young woman (meaning his daughter) in a phone call to his wife in 1994, faking his daughter‘s voice. Josef Fritzl called his wife and asked her to look after Elisabeth‘s baby who had been left on the doorstep.” Presumably, this is the explanation as to how some of the kids were allowed to live upstairs while the others lived downstairs. Do we have any more information about what his wife knew or didn‘t know?
HANNO SETTELE, BUREAU CHIEF, AUSTRIA RADIO AND TV: No, to this point, we do not have any more information. As your colleague, the psychiatrist, pointed out yesterday it is highly unlikely over all of those years, she would not have realized anything physically. The question, is did she realize it mentally or did she just block it out? I‘m not a psychiatrist but there is so far no real evidence that she did know or even participated in that scheme. No.
ABRAMS: But you know, it‘s interesting, Hanno, and it seems like a lot of the tenants knew a little bit, right? They heard something. They didn‘t know anything about literally what was going on. But now, piecing it together, it seems that a lot of them heard small things.
SETTELE: Well, that‘s a little bit, if you allow me to say so, after the fact. If those things were disturbing at the time, why didn‘t those people speak up? Of course, now that we know these horrifying things, things make a lot more sense in hindsight.
ABRAMS: Yes, I think that‘s a fair point.
SETTELE: But it doesn‘t look like these things were really alarming at the time.
ABRAMS: Yes. And I didn‘t mean to suggest that they viewed it as alarming. I just meant that they were learning. And this is brand-new video, by the way, we‘re getting in of this dungeon that he created. We‘re literally just getting this in at this moment.
As we show you more of the disturbing pictures of that underground bunker, Doctor, let me read you something we learned about the way that the boys communicated. “With each other, the boys communicate with noises that are a mixture growling and cooing. One of boys prefers to crawl but can walk upright if he wants. Stunning.
DR. JEFF GARDERE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Absolutely horrible. We know that they developed their own language and speaking to one another. There were no books down in the bunker. The only way they learned some language was through radio or TV or a VCR. So they developed their own way of communicating with one another.
Now that they are talking to other people, it‘s taking every bit of focus and concentration that they have, leaving them exhausted. And I think this speaks, if you will, no pun intended, to what they will have to go through in their lives to try to have some normalcy in order to be in society.
ABRAMS: Jennifer, because they - all their senses are deprived when they were down there, right?
JENNIFER SPAULDING, HELD IN UNDERGROUND DUNGEON: Yes, you have no - you‘re completely deprived of all senses. You don‘t know whether it‘s day or night. I feel so bad for them. I can‘t even compare it to what I went through.
ABRAMS: Let me - this is an Austrian doctor who talked about the reuniting of the children. Remember, of course there are the children who lived upstairs with the family, these are all of children of Fritzl and his daughter. And three of the others lived downstairs in the dungeon and this is the first time that they got to meet each other. Here‘s an Austrian doctor explaining that reunion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. BERTHOLD KEPPLINGER, AMSTETTEN-MAUER HOSPITAL: It is astonishing how easy it worked that the children came together and also it was astonishing how easy it happened that the grandmother and the mother came together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GARDERE: I think the reason the children upstairs versus the ones in the bunker were able to reunite was because they have the same slave master - they have the same monster who was living life in a way where he was the emperor and everyone lived under his iron rule, under his thumb. So they can identify with one another, because normally they probably would not be able to do this with the ease that they‘ve been able to. So they can identify in that they are the children of this person that they probably loved and loathed at the same time.
ABRAMS: And this is from the “New Zealand Herald” from the father‘s sister-in-law, “He drilled the children. Whenever he came into the room, they all fell silent. Even if they had just been playing, you could feel their constant fear of punishment.”
Hanno, what do we know about where these children are at this time?
SETTELE: They are in a special ward of a psychiatric hospital in lower Austria. That‘s the province where all of this happened and they are being kept together as good as possible. The 19-year-old, the girl who fell terribly sick - she is still in intensive care, so she was not able to join them. Let me say one word about this gas theory ...
SETTELE: ... that he claims - that he told his people that they would put gas into the basement. He said so to his children and to his daughter because it came a time when the daughter and the son and his own daughter, the woman - the mother of the children were old enough to probably overwhelm him so he had to do something about that. And that obviously was the theory that he would send poison gas down there.
GARDERE: That‘s right. It was a psychological terror that he used. We‘ve seen this with other people who have done this before.
ABRAMS: Well, let me ask you to hold that thought, because the panel is going to stay with us. Up next, we‘re going look inside the mind of a monster like this. What kind of person could do this? And we‘re going to talk about another case - in a very disturbingly similar way. But also, babies, this is videotape of babies thrown off of a 50-foot roof in a ritual, they say, designed to make them stronger. They say babies aren‘t harmed in the process. Coming up.
ABRAMS: Now to a dose of reality caught on tape. Tonight, in an almost impossible to believe ritual in India earlier this week, which I‘ve got to believe would be called a crime in this country. Locals in western India apparently believe it‘s good for an infant‘s health to drop the baby from a building 50-feet high to a cloth sheet below. The quote, “ritual” has been observed for more than 500 years. They claim a child has never been harmed. It‘s so hard to believe not harmed psychologically. We‘ll be right back.
ABRAMS: We‘re back, continuing our coverage of the horrifying story of the 73-year-old who confessed to keeping his own daughter captive in an underground bunker for 24 years where he raped her and where she gave birth to seven of his children, three of whom were also locked in the secret dungeon.
This is the hidden bunker in suburban New York where our guest tonight, Jennifer Spaulding, was kept for months after she was kidnapped, with crimes so depraved it is hard to imagine what was going on in the perpetrators‘ minds. But in an exclusive interview, “Dateline NBC” went inside the mind of John Jamelske the man that kidnapped Jennifer Spaulding and four other women over a 15-year period.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So how do you think you‘d feel if you were 15 years old and you were locked at your house in that room for a year?
JOHN JAMELSKE, HELD WOMEN CAPTIVE UNDERGROUND: I would not mind living down there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on.
JAMELSKE: It was absolutely beautiful. There was a bed. There was water. I never hurt anyone physically.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chaining them up and keeping them in that room isn‘t hurting somebody?
JAMELSKE: People wear ankle bracelets all day long.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It‘s not jewelry, John. Come on, you chained them to the floor.
JAMELSKE: It didn‘t hurt them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Jennifer, it must be very hard for you to hear him again?
SPAULDING: Yes, I‘m sitting here shaking. It‘s been a long time.
ABRAMS: He seems to - do you think he actually believed that he wasn‘t doing anything wrong or is he just trying -
SPAULDING: Yes, he believes he didn‘t do anything. He‘s completely delusional, psychotic.
ABRAMS: At that time, he acted that way as well?
SPAULDING: Oh, yes. He had me believing the whole time that he had bosses that he worked for and it wasn‘t him that was doing it, it was the bosses. And I‘m sorry I‘m getting a little emotional. But until this day I still don‘t think that he worked for somebody and that somebody was going to come and get me, to this day. But it‘s proven that he didn‘t work for anybody. It was just him, but I still think that.
ABRAMS: Jennifer, let me -
SPAULDING: He had it in my head so much.
ABRAMS: Jennifer, let me give you a minute to gather your thoughts.
SPAULDING: Thank you.
GARDERE: She is a courageous, courageous young woman. Jennifer, you‘re really helping a lot of people by coming out and talking about this and proving that you do not have to have shame, that you don‘t have to be a victim. You can be a victor. You can help people. So God bless you and my prayers go out to you. You‘re courageous.
SPAULDING: Thank you. I‘m doing this in hopes that I can help these poor kids. And the mom, she‘s probably suffers more than any of them, you know.
GARDERE: Because, Dan ...
ABRAMS: Let me ask you about this. And I should say, we had mentioned to Jennifer before the program that we were going to play this one to make sure it was OK. But I still got to imagine that hearing it again, Jennifer, just brings up all of those awful, awful memories. Let me give you a minute to gather yourself.
And doctor, we hear it seems almost, a similar type of psychosis involved in this case and the other case. I mean, it seems with Jennifer‘s captor, he is almost more delusional because it seems the guy in Austria recognized that there was a level of evil to what he was doing, saying “This house is going to down in history,” et cetera.
GARDERE: Yes, yes. That‘s something that they did share. You‘re absolutely right in your analysis. But something they do share in common, they have an air of superiority. They were living in their own world. They thought other people were stupid and they took advantage of people by instilling as much psychological fear as possible in order to control them.
And that‘s what we see, not just in these monsters but we see that in rapists every day, that they want to scare their victim. “If you say anything, I‘ll kill your parents. If you say anything, I‘ll kill your brother or sister. So it‘s just more of a physical and psychological trauma.
ABRAMS: I‘m out of time. I‘m out of time, but I want to make sure Jennifer gets the final word. Jennifer, a final thought from you?
SPAULDING: I would just say that everybody - what they say about him is true, he‘s just in his own world. And they both planned it. And they both - like you said, everybody thought - everybody else was stupid to them. And I just feel so bad that people out there are like that and I hope that these people can be strong and overcome what he did to them.
ABRAMS: Jennifer, I want to let you know the doctor and I in the commercial break were both talking about how much we admired you. Thank you very much for taking the time again to come on the program.
SPAULDING: You‘re welcome. Thank you for having me.
ABRAMS: Thanks to all of my guests. Doctor?
GARDERE: Thank you, Dan.
ABRAMS: Tonight‘s “Winners and Losers” are coming up. Be right back.
ABRAMS: It‘s time for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers” for this the first day of May, 2008. Our first loser, Miley Cyrus, not having a good week. First, there were those racy “Vanity Fair” pictures which she had to apologize for. Now, the 15-year-old is saying she wants her family-friendly Disney show, “Hannah Montana,” to be more like her favorite TV show, “Sex and The City.” I guess that means less adolescent antics and more adultery?
Loser, Dallas resident Charles Ray Fuller, the 21-year-old who tried to cash a $360 billion - yes, billion-dollar check. But it wasn‘t just any check, nope. This one came from his girlfriend‘s mother‘s account. Fuller claimed the check was given to him to help him start a record business. When mom called his bluff, Fuller was arrested for forgery. Did I mention he tried to cash his billions while possessing marijuana? So now, he‘s got no cash, no hash and I presume no girlfriend.
ABRAMS: Our big loser, the State Department and its terror watch list. We learned that alongside Osama Bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is Nobel Peace Prize winner, Nelson Mandela. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called it embarrassing. Seems all members of the African National Congress, which Mandela was once a member, seen as a terrorist organization.
Our big winner of the day. Actor Nick Cannon. Who? Oh, you‘re about to hear a lot more about the guy who just hit the matrimonial jackpot. According to “The New York Post,” Cannon married superstar Mariah Carey in the Bahamas. This is the best part - reportedly, there was no pre-nup. Carey at “Forbes,” valued at $225 million has almost tied the Beatles for most number ones. The Beatles and no prenup. Who‘s does that remind you of. That‘s all the time we have. See you tomorrow.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.