Guests: Ron Mott, Michelle Kosinski, Lester Holt, Contessa Brewer, Pam Bondi, Jennifer Spaulding, Joe Watkins, A.B. Stoddard, Ron Reagan
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the show.
Barack Obama in Berlin, is calling himself a citizen of the world. Obama delivered a speech in front of more than 200,000. It‘s more of an event than just a speech at Berlin‘s Tiergarten Park. It was interrupted at times with chants of “Yes, we can,” but somehow, the fact that he was well-received in Germany is a bad thing according to the McCain camp and some on the right.
With us tonight: Ron Reagan, A.B. Stoddard, and Joe Watkins.
The Obama camp tried lowering expectations beforehand, brushing off any comparisons to JFK and Ronald Reagan. But the reception he received in Berlin rivaled any his gotten here at home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D-IL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you to the citizens of Berlin.
OBAMA: And thank you to the people of Germany. I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. Although tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for president, but as a citizen, a proud citizen of the United States and a fellow citizen of the world.
OBAMA: The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes, natives and immigrants, Christians and Muslims and Jews cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.
OBAMA: Now the world will watch and remember what we do here. What we do with this moment. Will we extend our hand to the people in the forgotten quarters of this world who yearn for lives marked by dignity and opportunity, by security and justice? Will we lift the child in Bangladesh from poverty and shelter the refugee in Chad and banish the scourge of AIDS in our time? Will we stand for the human rights of the descendent in Burma, the blogger in Iran or the voter in Zimbabwe? Will we give meaning to the words ‘never again‘ in Darfur?
OBAMA: People of Berlin and people of the world, the scale of our challenge is great. The road ahead will be long. But I come before you to say that we are heirs to a struggle for freedom. We are a people of improbable hope with an eye towards the future, with resolve in our hearts. Let us remember this history and answer our destiny and remake the world, once again.
Thank you, Berlin. God bless you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: When an American politician comes to Berlin, we‘ve had some iconic utterances in the past. We‘ve had, “Ich bin ein,” we‘ve had “Mr. Gorbachev tore down this wall.”
OBAMA: Well, I don‘t rate that high.
WILLIAMS: Is the phraseology that you would like remembered is “People of Berlin, people of the world, this is our moment, this is our time?
OBAMA: You know, I think if (ph) that captures what I was trying to communicate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: More from Obama‘s interview with Brian Williams a little later.
But first, Obama‘s speech today drew heavy fire from the McCain camp and not just from McCain‘s aides but this time, from McCain himself who sat down tonight with NBC‘s Kelly O‘Donnell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R-AZ) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would rather speak at a rally or a gathering, any place outside the United States after I am president of the United States, but that‘s a judgment that Senator Obama and the American people will make.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: And the far right media joined the chorus. Rush Limbaugh let loose today over a line in Obama‘s speech where he acknowledged America hasn‘t always lived up to its ideals.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW”)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I‘m growing weary of Democrats and their presidential candidates finding something wrong with being an American citizen. He ripped his own country here. He took shots at the United States of America while at Berlin speaking as a post-nationalist citizen of the world.
This is just beyond the pail. He‘s talking to Germans. And making excuses for the United States of America, which to this day defends and protects Germany. This is insulting. It is demeaning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Political commentator Ron Reagan is with us. Remember his father gave a similar speech in Berlin when he was president; A.B. Stoddard, associate editor for “The Hill”: and, MSNBC political analyst and Republican strategist, Joe Watkins.
All right. A.B., are you surprised that the McCain camp is using this speech, which was, you know, fairly non-controversial as a.
A.B. STODDARD, THE HILL: It was fairly boring, actually.
ABRAMS: . as something to attack him over?
STODDARD: Yes, I think that they haven‘t found their footing this whole week. I mean, the “protesting too much” thing is not the right road to take. I really think McCain should have calmly—I‘m sorry he couldn‘t make it to his oil rig event which would have been a good use of his time and energy being the number one issue right now, but I think that John McCain needs to talk about what his plans are, what he thinks is, you know, the most important issues on the voters‘ minds and he could toss off some lines about, you know, Obama‘s inexperience and he needs to meet with all these leaders that I already know and—but he can do it without sounding so outraged or grumpy.
ABRAMS: But, Joe, you‘re out. What‘s of it, Joe, you‘re upset about this speech, honestly?
JOE WATKINS, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the point is, it was a
great speech. I mean, the speech was well-delivered. I mean, the visuals
are stunning. But at the end of the day -
ABRAMS: So, what‘s the problem?
WATKINS: The problem is this—speeches like that are reserved for the commander-in-chief of the United States. The commander-in-chief speaks with the American people. Barack Obama is not just a citizen of the world or citizen of the United States, he is the presumptive Democratic nominee.
They know he‘s running for the presidency and what you do when you give a speech like that and you‘re not the commander-in-chief of all the American people, is that you undermine the institution of the president.
ABRAMS: Well, wait, he never claimed to be the president. They showed up, he didn‘t make them come.
WATKINS: But he‘s speaking as a guy who is running for the presidency, who‘s doing very well in the polls right now. He‘s speaking as a guy who could be the president of the United States.
ABRAMS: Yes, and so what? What‘s the problem?
WATKINS: What it does, it hurts the institution.
WATKINS: It‘s OK for Kennedy to give that speech when Kennedy was president of the United States, a Democrat, but commander-in-chief of all the American people. Reagan gave a great speech in the ‘80s, a Republican, but commander-in-chief, president of all the people. Barack Obama is a candidate.
ABRAMS: Ron, what do you make of that?
RON REAGAN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Joe is correct. Barack Obama is, of course, just a candidate, he‘s not president of the United States. However, he did look pretty presidential and that was the whole idea there.
WATKINS: Yes, but Ron -
REAGAN: But, Joe, just let me just finish my thought, Joe. Let me just finish my thought.
John McCain has been traveling around a lot here, too, and he probably forgot that he‘d given a speech in Canada just a little while ago. So, giving a speech overseas apparently is only a problem when it‘s Barack Obama doing it.
WATKINS: No, would it have been appropriate if Walter Mondale in 1984, when he was running against your father as a Democratic nominee, had given a major policy speech in Berlin?
ABRAMS: This wasn‘t a major policy speech, Joe.
WATKINS: . going forward, what we‘re going to do forward, what we need to do going forward. So, he spoke for the American people, he spoke to the world, as well as to Berlin. It was a great speech -
REAGAN: Who was John McCain‘s speaking to in Canada, Joe? Who was John McCain speaking to in Canada?
WATKINS: He was speaking to Canadians.
REAGAN: OK. And here‘s Barack Obama speaking to Germans.
WATKINS: On our continent.
ABRAMS: But here‘s the -
STODDARD: But this was the picture.
REAGAN: So, it was like it‘s a matter of who and what continent you‘re on, I guess.
WATKINS: Well, you have to consider -
ABRAMS: A.B., you‘ll get the final thought here, I want to play
STODDARD: No, really—this was the picture. This is stage craft. He gave a very bland speech on purpose in which he said almost nothing. It was kumbayah. We‘re all going to work together for peace and justice throughout the world. He mentioned almost every country in existence. He‘s saving it for the convention. This was actually for the footage and for the photo.
ABRAMS: Here‘s the line that Joe‘s pal, Rush Limbaugh had a real problem with this. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I know my country has not perfected itself. At times we‘ve struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We‘ve made our share of mistakes. And there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Is that a problem?
WATKINS: Well, what he said was true. But by the end of the day, let the commander-in-chief of the United States make that decision as to whether or not -
ABRAMS: So, no U.S. senator, the new rule is no U.S. senator speaks on foreign language.
WATKINS: No, but let‘s face it. I mean, this guy is getting rockstar reception everywhere he goes.
ABRAMS: But you‘re still be blaming him for that.
WATKINS: No, I‘m not blaming him at all, but at end of the day, he‘s got the worst still (ph) to come. Let‘s just say for argument‘s sake, let‘s say Barack Obama doesn‘t win the election in November.
WATKINS: Now, he‘s made all these pronouncements about the United States and mea culpa and -
REAGAN: What pronouncements?
ABRAMS: He‘s still a U.S. senator.
WATKINS: Yes, but at the end of the day, it doesn‘t help whoever the president of the United States is, going forward. You don‘t want to say -
REAGAN: He (ph) admitted mistakes.
WATKINS: No, I think at the end of the day, what you want to do is you want to wait until you‘re elected president of the United States -
ABRAMS: Before you‘re allowed to talk about America.
WATKINS: No, before you speak for the country.
ABRAMS: Who said he‘s speaking for the country?
WATKINS: Well, it certainly looked like it. Look at the visuals. I mean, he got the same (INAUDIBLE) as Ronald Reagan got the same visual that John Kennedy got.
ABRAMS: Right, the problem with the visuals, I think, Ron, for someone like Joe Watkins, is there were too many people there.
REAGAN: Yes, and they were waving American flags. We haven‘t seen that in a while. It‘s just nice to seer Europeans waving American flags instead of burning our president in effigy.
WATKINS: No, that‘s not the point. The point is, you just don‘t want to undermine the American president. It‘s not right for anybody, Democrat or Republican, I think, to do that kind of thing, to use that kind of imagery, to take advantage in the way that he is.
REAGAN: It isn‘t that (ph) he was undermining the presidency; he was simply showing the president up as a more dignified presence than our current president.
ABRAMS: What he did is he undermined his opponent, John McCain.
WATKINS: I don‘t think so.
ABRAMS: All right. Everyone is staying with us.
Coming up: Brian Williams‘ interview with Barack Obama in Berlin right after he finished that speech. Obama responds to McCain‘s comments that Obama would rather lose the war and lose the election. Let‘s just say, Obama is not happy. That interview, next.
And it‘s not just the German public that was taken with Obama. German Chancellor Angela Merkel looked quite smitten today, a far cry from this uncomfortable interaction (ph) with President Bush.
We‘re back in 60 seconds.
ABRAMS: Tonight‘s edition of Why America Hates Washington: FEMA asked a federal judge for a free pass. The agency that supplied thousands of hurricane victims with toxic trailers wants immunity from lawsuits associated with the scandal. Lawyers for the victims accuse the agency of negligence for housing them in trailers with elevated levels of formaldehyde, a chemical believed to cause cancer. Last winter, the CDC tested hundreds of trailers and found most of them had high levels of the gas.
FEMA trying to avoid any legal accountability: another reason Why America Hates Washington.
We‘re back with more on John McCain‘s latest swipe at Obama. It seems to have touched the nerve with Obama during his interview with NBC‘s Brian Williams. That‘s coming up.
ABRAMS: Barack Obama in the final stretch of his big overseas trip tonight before Obama headed to France tomorrow, after stops in Germany, the Middle East, to Afghanistan. NBC‘s Brian Williams spoke with Obama today and asked him about the trip, the success of the surge in Iraq, making his case to the American people and the criticism from John McCain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: I have to begin by getting your reaction to a piece this morning‘s “International Herald Tribune.” It‘s by Elizabeth Bumiller. And it reads, “Senator John McCain and his campaign have sharply stepped up criticism of Senator Barack Obama as a craven and naive traveler to the Middle East, who, as McCain put it, at a raucous town hall style meeting, quote, “would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign.” That was tough language.
OBAMA: Yes, I was disappointed by that language. You know, John McCain and I disagree on policy. You know, we disagreed on going into the war in Iraq. We disagreed until recently about the need to get more troops into Afghanistan.
But I‘ve never questioned that he wants to make America safer. And for him to suggest that I don‘t—for him to suggest that somehow I‘m less concerned about the safety of my wife and daughter—than he is—I think, was unfortunate.
WILLIAMS: Is it not time to say that the surge you opposed has worked?
OBAMA: You know, Brian, it‘s interesting how many permutations various reporters have gone through on this. I have consistently said that as a consequence of us putting more troops in and the awakening in the Anbar province where Sunnis turned against al Qaeda and the Shia militia standing down, that violence is significantly down and that there is significant improvement in Iraq.
But what I have also consistently said is that not only was us going into Iraq in the first place a mistake, but that for us moving forward, what we have to focus on is the need for political reconciliation that that‘s going to make the ultimate difference. That does not detract, in any way, from the great work our troops did.
But that‘s not the argument that‘s being made by John McCain. What, you know, the argument that‘s being made is that somehow his judgment on issues of war and peace is better than mine.
Now, you know, I am happy to have a debate about whose Iraq policy has been more sensible because if we had followed my approach to Iraq, we would not have been there. We would not have spent what will be over $1 trillion. We would not have lost the American lives that have been lost and we would have done a much better job dealing with what should have been our central focus and that is Afghanistan. If that‘s the debate, then let‘s have it. But let‘s not focus narrowly on one aspect of it.
WILLIAMS: But what if that‘s the question, respectfully, senator. Your answer lumps it in with other components, but if the question has to do—break it out, strip all else away with the component that led to greater numbers of U.S. troops, let‘s take Baghdad specifically—compartmentalizing the city, locking it down.
OBAMA: These are a lot of caveats to this question, Brian.
WILLIAMS: It is safer today, no?
OBAMA: What I said, even at the time of the debate in the surge, was that when you put 30,000 American troops in, of course it‘s going to have an impact. There‘s no doubt about that. The question is, does it solve our larger strategic questions and the costs involved—do they outweigh the benefits?
We don‘t know what would have happened if have we not put those 30,000 in. We‘re speculating, which is fair enough. But keep in mind what I do know. Those 30,000 troops could have also been in Afghanistan during this time and we might have done a much better job of going after al Qaeda and the Taliban and stabilizing the situation there than we are right now. And that is part of the calculation that has to be made when we‘re having this broader debate about how to keep America safe.
WILLIAMS: NBC News Poll we released just last night, 55 to 35, you against Senator John McCain, American respondents are telling us they view you as the riskier choice for president. Do you understand that, to what do you attribute that?
OBAMA: Well, I do understand it. I‘m new to the scene. John McCain has been around 25 to 30 years in public life. I have just recently emerged in terms of our national politics.
And, so, it‘s not surprising that people would say that the guy we‘re more familiar with is the less riskier choice. That doesn‘t answer the broader question, though, which is—what do Americans think we need right now? And can we afford to have four more years or eight more years of the same types of policies that we‘ve had for the past eight?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Back with us: Ron Reagan, A.B. Stoddard, and Joe Watkins.
Ron, what do you make of the responses there to the attacks from the McCain camp?
REAGAN: Well, I think David Gergen the other night used the word “scurrilous” in regards to McCain‘s comments about Barack Obama. This is really almost unprecedented. I don‘t remember a presidential candidate accusing another presidential candidate, essentially of treason, which is what he was saying.
Now, he can criticize his stance on Iraq, that‘s fine. But he needs to find better words to do that, because that was way out of line.
WATKINS: Oh, you‘ve got to realize, Ron, something that Barack Obama said in that interview with Brian Williams, he doesn‘t square with the words on the paper. And Barack Obama has said that words do matter and if they do, then you have to just look to 2006 and 2007 when he poignantly said that the surge would cause more civilian deaths and more violence in Iraq, and he was—which is why he was against it. Now, of course, he‘s saying that he always supported the surge, that he was in favor -
REAGAN: No, he‘s not saying that.
WATKINS: Well, that‘s basically what he told Brian. He says, “You know, I have consistently said,” consistently as of the last, maybe week, he says.
REAGAN: There are a lot of different elements combined to bring down violence in Iraq, not just the surge.
STODDARD: Yes, this is, obviously, a tough corner for Barack Obama to be in because he‘s not going to admit a mistake although in the past, he commended Senator Edwards for his apologizing and renouncing for his Iraq vote. He put pressure on Senator Clinton for her Iraq vote and for her Iran vote in a vote last year in the Senate.
So—and he also said that past judgments are a strong indication of what you would do in foreign policy, but he wants to say that the awakening in Anbar and the militias standing down and everything else, will just happen without an escalation of troops.
That is a conversation that is not going to happen now. No one can hear any of this because of the backdrop of his trip and of 200,000 Germans cheering him on. But I think it will be difficult for him when he comes home when John McCain and him are back at this debate on equal, sort of a level playing field, if you will. He‘s taken his criticism of the surge off of his Web site. So, it‘s hard for him to thread this needle and you can see how uncomfortable it makes him.
REAGAN: I have to say though that John McCain‘s critique of Obama‘s position on the surge would carry a lot more weight if John McCain can remember when the surge happened. Of course, you know that he criticized Obama for saying, well, you know, the Anbar awakening wouldn‘t happen without the surge, but the surge came months after the awakening.
ABRAMS: Ron Reagan, A.B. Stoddard, Joe Watkins, thanks a lot.
WATKINS: Thanks, Dan.
ABRAMS: Coming up: More proof that FOX will do anything to make John McCain look good, even taking eight years off his age. Beat the Press is next.
And, new details in the search for two-year-old Caylee, whose mother waited more than a month to report her missing, tonight, we‘ve got the 911 tape. Let‘s just say, they tell a very different story.
What‘s your VERDICT? E-mail us at: Verdict@msnbc.com. Your e-mails are in the P.O.‘ed box at the end of the show. Please include your name, where you‘re writing from. Back in a moment.
ABRAMS: It‘s time for tonight‘s Beat the Press.
First up: Do you have any question about whether FOX News is a tank for McCain? This should wipe any doubt from your minds. FOX is actually trying to make John McCain look younger.
This is their coverage of McCain on the campaign trail today.
Well, take a good look at the senator in the video they use.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “HAPPENING NOW”/FOX NEWS/WEDNESDAY)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: He‘s in Ohio today. He has an event tonight at a cancer fundraiser. But, you know, this is not what he has in mind. He was going to make a dramatic landing on an offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico and also visit New Orleans but Hurricane Dolly came roaring through.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: FOX is actually using eight-year-old video to discuss today‘s activities—video from the 2000 campaign. They report, you decide.
Next up: For Headline News host, Glenn Beck and guest Ben Stein, somehow, Obama‘s popularity and the fact that 75,000 are expected to turn out to see him speak during the Democratic National Convention is a bad thing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “GLENN BECK”/HEADLINE NEWS/WEDNESDAY)
BEN STEIN, GUEST: Seventy-five thousand people at an outdoor sports palace. Well, that‘s something the furor would have done.
GLENN BECK, HOST: I‘ve been saying that we‘re headed towards the Mussolini-style presidency, wherever. I mean, it‘s crazy.
STEIN: I think, if 75,000 people screaming at an outdoor arena, that‘s just too much. It‘s scarily authoritarian.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Are they kidding? I mean, a lot of people want to see Obama and that‘s bad?
Finally: Alan Colmes of “Hannity and company” finally showing some spine last night when questioning Karl Rove of that CBS failing to air and answer “McCain-gate” about the timing of the surge which turned out to be wrong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “HANNITY & COLMES”/FOX NEWS/WEDNESDAY)
ALAN COLMES, FOX HOST: When John McCain said, “The surge, because of that we‘re able to go out and protect the sheik and other and it began the Anbar awakening.” When he got the timeline wrong the Anbar awakening happened first and that helped what happened then (ph) towards including—
CBS refused to air that.
KARL ROVE, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Alan, first of all, let‘s not get into sort of nit-nat mistakes.
COLMES: What about the issue of this timeline being wrong on the Anbar awakening in the surge.
ROVE: Well, look, this is—let‘s not get into this.
COLMES: Why not?
ROVE: You‘ve got -
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Why not? A lot of questions, Karl Rove doesn‘t seem to want to answer.
We need your help Beating the Press. If you see anything, right or wrong, amusing or absurd, go to our Web site: Verdict.msnbc.com and leave us a tip in the box, please include the show and the time you saw the item.
Up next: New details in the case of that two-year-old whose mother waited over a month to report her missing. The 911 calls from grandmother and the mother, we‘ve just gotten them. They tell a very different story.
And later: An in-depth look at that bunker where a man is accused of imprisoning his daughter, fathering seven of her children. Tonight, what life was like for the victims in that bunker?
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Breaking tonight, the Sheriff‘s Office in Orlando, Florida, just released the 911 tapes in the case of toddler Caylee Anthony, the missing two-year-old Florida girl who allegedly had been missing for more than a month before her family alerted police. Now, here‘s the call her grandmother made to report Caylee missing.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CINDY ANTHONY, GRANDMOTHER OF CAYLEE ANTHONY: I called a little bit ago the deputy sheriff. I found out my granddaughter has been taken. She has been missing for a month before her mother finally admitted that she had been missing. Someone‘s here now.
911 DISPATCHER: OK, what is the address you‘re calling from?
CINDY ANTHONY: We‘re talking about a three-year-old little girl. My daughter finally admitted that the baby (UNINTELLIGIBLE) - I need to find her!
911 DISPATCHER: Your daughter admitted the baby is where?
CINDY ANTHONY: The baby-sitter took her a month ago. My daughter has been looking for her. I told you my daughter was been missing for a month. I just found her today, but I can‘t find my granddaughter. She just admitted to me she has been trying to find her herself. There‘s something wrong. I found my daughter‘s car today and it smells like there has been a dead body in the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) car.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ABRAMS: NBC‘s Ron Mott is in Orlando right now covering the story. Ron, this call, in particular, what she said there at the end about the smell in the car, et cetera. Very different from what the grandmother has been saying recently.
RON MOTT, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely, Dan. Good evening. I think what struck most reporters here most is just that stark contrast between Cindy Anthony‘s more recent comments and the comments made on the call. The first 911 call, she talks more about that car than she does about her granddaughter. Her granddaughter was clearly in the house when her daughter home.
She was very frustrated with her daughter and angry with her. She also said in her first media statements last week that her daughter, whenever she would inquire - when the grandmother would inquire with her daughter about where Caylee was, she always had a logical answer that put her fears to rest.
And so, now, you listen to those 911 calls - that first response from this grandmother was in stark contrast to the more recent comments that we heard, Dan. Very striking.
ABRAMS: You mentioned the 911 call that was made right before the one we just heard. I want to play that because here is where we hear the initial frustration of Caylee‘s grandmother about her daughter.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CINDY ANTHONY: I have someone here that I need to be arrested in my home.
911 DISPATCHER: They‘re right there now?
CINDY ANTHONY: And I have a possible missing child, a three-year-old that has been missing for a month.
911 DISPATCHER: A three-year-old?
CINDY ANTHONY: Yes.
911 DISPATCHER: Have you reported that?
CINDY ANTHONY: I‘m trying to do that now, Ma‘am.
911 DISPATCHER: OK, what did the person do that you need arrested?
CINDY ANTHONY: My daughter.
911 DISPATCHER: For what?
CINDY ANTHONY: For stealing an auto and stealing money.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ABRAMS: So Ron, there, she‘s talking about wanting to have someone arrested. I mean, this is the same person who has been her daughter‘s greatest advocate.
MOTT: Right, Dan. She wanted her arrested and she said because she stole money and stole this car that suddenly two weeks later was impounded and had that awful odor that even the parents admitted it smelled like death in that car. And those comments where she was very frustrated with her daughter for stealing a car, more so than she was concerned about this missing two-year-old. It‘s just so striking and I asked her about that.
I said, “Cindy, those comments don‘t seem to jive with the current support that you have for your daughter. What did she say to you in that first phone call from that first 911 call to subsequent calls to change her posture? She said it really wasn‘t she said. It was her demeanor. Her concern that something terrible has happened and that she couldn‘t really open up about it. It‘s very striking what has happened here, Dan.
ABRAMS: Before I play - we‘ve also got Caylee‘s mom‘s call to 911 explaining why she didn‘t call earlier. But I want to first want to bring in Florida prosecutor Pam Bondi. Pam, what do you make of these developments? How significant are they legally?
PAM BONDI, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: They‘re very significant, Dan. All these 911 calls will be admissible at trial, if it comes to that. You know, I think you see - I hear anger in the grandmother‘s voice. And, you know, that‘s not uncommon in cases like this, the dynamics of a case where you have a grandmother who desperately loves her granddaughter. And now that the granddaughter has been missing for a while, I think she‘s stepping back and saying, “Whoa. I may be incriminating my daughter, who I also love very much.” This is a -
ABRAMS: But isn‘t it clear -
BONDI: This is not an uncommon situation.
ABRAMS: But Pam, it does sound on the 911 tape like she is incriminating her daughter.
BONDI: Oh, she absolutely was in my opinion.
BONDI: And you can hear the anger in her voice. You truly hear the anger. But I think with time - I think now she‘s scared that perhaps she could be doing something to send her own daughter to prison.
ABRAMS: All right. Let me do this. We have been talking about the grandmother‘s call, the first call to report it. Now, here‘s Caylee‘s mother explaining to 911 why she didn‘t report this earlier.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CASEY ANTHONY, MOTHER OF CAYLEE ANTHONY: My daughter‘s been missing for the last 31 days.
911 DISPATCHER: And you know who has her?
CASEY ANTHONY: I know who has her. I tried to contact her. I actually received a phone call today now from a number that is no longer in service. I did get to speak to my daughter for about a minute.
911 DISPATCHER: Who has her? Do you have a name?
CASEY ANTHONY: Her name is Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez.
911 DISPATCHER: Who is that, baby-sitter?
CASEY ANTHONY: She has been my nanny for about a year and a half, almost two years.
911 DISPATCHER: Why are you calling now? Why didn‘t you call 31 days ago?
CASEY ANTHONY: I‘ve been looking for her and have gone through other resources to try to find her, which was stupid.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Ron, but they actually then found that woman, correct, who she refers to in the 911 tape?
MOTT: No, I don‘t believe so, Dan. I think police are still trying to figure out who this person is - Zenaida Gonzalez. They have not been able to determine whether this person is even real. They went to the address that Casey gave them where she said she dropped off the child. No one apparently lived in that apartment for many, many months. And so that‘s when police began to say, “This is not adding up.”
Then they had subsequent things that they did not say added up and they confronted Casey with this information and she then admitted, according to the arrest affidavit that she wasn‘t quite telling them the truth.
MOTT: So, this is a ball of stories, of lies that led them down this path.
ABRAMS: And the problem is I know they had found someone with a similar name and there is a question as to whether that was actually the same person, et cetera. Pam Bondi, Ron Mott, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
BONDI: Thank you.
ABRAMS: Turning now to another case, the story of Nancy Cooper, the North Carolina mom of two, found murdered earlier this month, growing suggestions from Nancy family and friends that her husband, Bradley, may have been involved in her death. Today, some of those friends asked the judge to order a psychiatric evaluation of Nancy‘s husband.
Now, Bradley Cooper is firing back addressing many questions his wife‘s family raised about how he acted both during their marriage and after she disappeared.
NBC‘s Michelle Kosinski is covering the story. Michelle, it seems Nancy‘s family is getting more aggressive towards Bradley. Is this a result of him trying to rebut all the claims against him?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, it could be. First, they filed the initial petition to get custody of the kids, which they got. And some of their claims were pretty harsh, that he was, you know, a physical risk to the kids.
Well, then, he filed his affidavit really answering everything they addressed and even rumors that had been circulating around. There was this rumor that police were questioned about over and over again at press conferences - wasn‘t he spotted buying bleach the morning she disappeared? I mean, that had never even been substantiated, but in his affidavit, he addresses even that.
He says, “Well, I was out buying Tide laundry detergent, but close to 7:00 a.m. and it was because Nancy asked me to.” He addresses why he didn‘t call police. He said, “Nancy often went out with friends after she went running,” et cetera, et cetera. And really portrayed himself as a very good father, not abusive, not suicidal, et cetera.
And then her friends have filed their affidavits now with the court. They have been put into the court file, making more allegations against him. So he files a rebuttal and has some of his friends now, have their affidavits in the file. They portray him as a good father. So, it‘s really, you know, two sides now both strong statements on either sides. I mean, people have seen him being a good father and her friends paint him as a terrible father.
ABRAMS: And the authorities, Michelle, have not declared him any sort of person of interest, suspect, et cetera, right?
KOSINSKI: Exactly. I mean, as much has been laid out about this terrible marriage in all of these filings, we are no closer to knowing who killed Nancy Cooper. Police have called it a homicide, not a random crime. But nobody‘s been arrested and they say they don‘t have suspects or persons of interest, however you want to define that.
ABRAMS: Michelle Kosinski, thanks a lot, appreciate it.
Up next, more of the new documentary about the dungeon where a man allegedly held his daughter prisoner for 24 years and forced her to have seven of his children. Tonight, what life was like for her underground.
And a chimp on the loose steals the gun zoo keepers were going to use to tranquilize him. That‘s coming up in 60 seconds.
ABRAMS: Now to “Reality Bites,” a dose of reality caught on tape. Tonight, a resourceful chimp shows some zoo keepers in Japan who‘s the boss. This guy escaped his cage to an unlocked door and climbed on top of a nearby building to get away. But look what he does when zoo workers try to subdue him with tranquillizer darts. After a couple of near misses, he runs out of patience and goes straight for the dart gun before the zoo keeper can even pull the trigger. The chimp came down in the end but the standoff lasted more than two hours. Be right back.
ABRAMS: Welcome back. More from the documentary about Josef Fritzl accused of imprisoning his daughter, Elisabeth, in this underground prison for 24 years, where she was forced to father seven of his children, three of whom were also held in the secret bunker that Fritzl built.
But now, two of those children, aged 18 and 19, who lived their entire lives as prisoners in the cellar might not be willing to testify against Fritzl in court. A new MSNBC documentary investigates the disturbing details of what went on in the dungeon, and what life was like for Elisabeth Fritzl and her children. Here‘s NBC‘s Lester Holt.
LESTER HOLT, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice over): She told police that her longest night started in August 1984, when she was only 18. That‘s when her father drugged her and dragged her to the cellar, chaining her to a wall. For the first four years of her incarceration, she lived in complete isolation, according to her own account. The only visitor she had was her own father, who raped her every few days.
After four years, in the cellar prison, the next stage of Elisabeth Fritzl‘s terrible ordeal began - bearing her father‘s seven children. In 1988, the first child, Kirsten, was born in the cellar with no medical assistance. Elisabeth was all of 22.
FRANZ POLZER, CHIEF INVESTIGATOR (through a translator): I went to see this dungeon, this prison for myself once. I went through it and was very glad to be able to leave. The environment in this room where the ceilings were kept very low, around six foot at the highest point.
Environment was anything but pleasant. Based on evidence, we know this prison had a very restricted living area, which was equipped with everything necessary to keep alive, for example, large quantities of food in freezers and fridges. The facility to do laundry - there was a washing machine, as well, and an electric range for preparing meals.
HOLT: Escaping from her dungeon with its eight locked doors was always going to be difficult. But with pregnancy and becoming a mother, Elisabeth seems to have simply given up.
POLZER (through a translator): There was a change. She said herself that even before she was incarcerated, she had been abused by her father, and after being taken prisoner, had endured brutal physical violence in some shape or form. And then she told us that this had lessened.
We know today from the doctors that those who are imprisoned did things at a totally different pace, the way they talk, the way they now choose to spend their time in freedom. It‘s simply impossible to imagine what it must have been like to establish a daily routine in this prison and to live with the constant reminder of the world outside - watching television, seeing pictures and hearing stories from their father about what life was like up there.
HOLT: Meanwhile, the victims of this cruelty, the six children he fathered, his daughter, Elisabeth, and his wife Rose Marie were reunited in a psychiatric clinic outside Amstetten, where they could get the emotional counseling they needed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It rained and Felix just said, “I want to see for the first time rain because I never experienced that.” I mean, even if you hear that, you just realize, yes, he didn‘t see that before. So, I think he still has lots of things to experience.
HOLT: But ordinary life is still not possible. The international interest in the case is such that the family cannot leave the hospital in which they‘re staying. It‘s rumored that the first photo event is worth thousands of dollars. Effectively, they are still in prison.
ABRAMS: Joining us on the phone now is Jennifer Spaulding, who in 2001, was kidnapped and held captive for months in this underground bunker in upstate New York. Her captor has been caught serving the term of 18 years to life.
Thanks again for coming back on the program. Tell us how hard you think it will be for Elisabeth to be in the outside world again?
JENNIFER SPAULDING, HELD CAPTIVE IN AN UNDERGROUND BUNKER IN 2001 (on the phone): It‘s probably going to be really difficult for her because, like you said, it happened to me in 2001, which was seven years ago and I‘m still going through psychiatric help, like I‘m afraid to be alone. I‘m afraid of the dark. I have nightmares. It‘s, it‘s just rough. You know, I have two little children who I‘m constantly hovering over because I‘m afraid somebody‘s going to kidnap them.
ABRAMS: And I assume this is a stark contrast from the way you were before this happened?
SPAULDING: Oh, yes. Big time difference. I wasn‘t afraid of anything.
ABRAMS: Yes. And you know, if there was one sort of piece of advice, counsel that you could give to someone like Elisabeth, what would it be?
SPAULDING: Just, you know, she can‘t let this guy control the rest of her life and - let it hurt her, because if she does, then he is still winning.
SPAULDING: You know, because that‘s what they thrive off of - other people‘s pain.
ABRAMS: Well said. Jennifer Spaulding, again, thanks for coming back on the program. Appreciate it.
SPAULDING: no problem.
ABRAMS: “The Longest Night: Secrets of the Austrian Cellar” premieres Sunday night at 10:00 p.m. Eastern on MSNBC.
Up next, will tonight‘s big winner or loser be Angela Merkel, who seemed awfully smitten by Barack Obama. Rudy Giuliani‘s son, Andrew, not smitten with the Duke University golf program. They kicked him off. He is suing. Or Richard Simmons who everyone seems smitten by on Capitol Hill clad in a suit and tie. Plus your E-mails. We call it the “P.O.‘d Box.”
ABRAMS: It‘s time ...
CONTESSA BREWER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: First up, you know those Germans love Barack Obama, and not just the massive crowd cramming in to hear him in Berlin. No, German Chancellor Angela Merkel also appears smitten by the presumptive Democratic nominee. Yesterday, a reporter asked Merkel what she would think of Obama as president. She said “I would say that he is well-equipped, physically, mentally, and politically.” Hard to tell what she was Angela Merkel was expecting after all. President Bush gave her a weird kind of back shoulder massage - remember this - in public, at the G8 summit a few years ago. There it is. So a reporter asks, “Are you expecting a massage from the next president of the United States, whether it‘s Obama or McCain? Merkel says, “That‘s not really up to me, but I wouldn‘t resist.”
ABRAMS: What if a guy who had been chancellor or prime minister said about a woman who was a candidate or the leader, she‘s physically and well-equipped? It would be a little odd, no?
BREWER: I was really hoping that they were going to play the awesome video of Barack Obama carrying that bulletproof vest and his helmet in one hand and he looks masculine and commanding.
ABRAMS: Can you imagine what she thought when President Bush came up and started rubbing her -
BREWER: She probably thought aw -
ABRAMS: She probably was like, “You know, I‘m the chancellor. You know, this is not what we do here.” But, anyway -
BREWER: Look at her. She holds her arms up.
ABRAMS: I call her a winner because she‘s taking it all like a good sport.
BREWER: Barack Obama is a winner as well because he gets all the applause and adoration.
Up next, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani‘s son Andrew who famously disrupted his inauguration 14 years ago. You know, the kid just can‘t keep out of the spotlight. Andrew is now a student at Duke University, but he‘s not too happy about being tossed off the Duke golf team. He kind of looks like the same kid, doesn‘t he?
ABRAMS: He is, Contessa.
BREWER: I mean, he even doesn‘t look like - Well, anyway, he is suing Duke to get back on the team. Thank you for that clarification, Dan Abrams. His lawsuit contends Duke violated its obligations to him as a student, as an athlete, and is jeopardizing chances at becoming a professional golfer.
The suit goes on to say the team‘s hyper-controlling coach is fabricating incidents to get him kicked off the team. It seems like Andrew breaking one of his golf clubs and driving too rapidly out of the parking lot one day. They say those are the incidents that can get you booted off the team.
ABRAMS: I mean, look, the thing is even if this coach wasn‘t behaving very nicely about this, and it sounds like they need to cut down the size of the team. You know, he got a raw deal; it sounds like it. But A, suing - and B, it‘s not like he was one of the star golfers. I mean, he was apparently 12th on the team, and the top five people are the ones who go to all the - you know, play in all the matches et cetera. So, I don‘t know what his chances were going to be of becoming a professional golfer anyway.
BREWER: It‘s like go golf.
ABRAMS: You first got to be -
BREWER: If you really want to be a professional golfer, go play.
ABRAMS: Well, you‘ve also got to be - first, you‘ve got to be one of the best college players before you can become a pro player. And if you weren‘t one of the best players on your college team, I‘m thinking -
BREWER: That he probably kicked them out of the park for miniature golf.
BREWER: Loser. My verdict.
ABRAMS: I think he‘s a loser.
BREWER: Your alma mater - Did that change - OK.
ABRAMS: No, I just hate the idea that he is suing, just saying it‘s a contract. I read the law. Anyway -
BREWER: Richard Simmons stopped sweating to the oldies for a brief time today to lecture lawmakers about childhood obesity. The fitness guru takes this all very seriously. He gave up the short-shorts. He gave up the tank tops for a dark suit and a tie. He is insisting kids need physical education and recess. I concur. But by the way he was really excited about the change of clothes when he talked to me on MSNBC earlier.
RICHARD SIMMONS, FITNESS GURU: Contessa, I‘ll wear a suit on Capitol Hill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BREWER: Oh as if the singing is not enough. There was actual physical education in Washington following the testimony.
ABRAMS: Isn‘t physical education in this country in a sad state when Richard Simmons is the spokesperson? Here, look, I love what the guy does. You know, he is helping a lot of people lose weight. But he is not - I think other countries, people might look at him and say, “This is the guy who is your spokesperson?”
BREWER: You know what? If those -
ABRAMS: But I say he‘s winner, winner, winner.
BREWER: Right, thank you. He is a winner.
ABRAMS: Always a winner.
BREWER: He‘s a darling and a winner.
ABRAMS: Just darling. Contessa, as always, thank you.
BREWER: Thank you.
ABRAMS: A lot of fun.
Time for the “PO‘d Box,” your chance to tell me what you hate or love about the show. Last night, I said it was inappropriate for the McCain camp to go after Obama what he wrote in the comment book at the Holocaust Museum he visited in Jerusalem.
Gloria agrees, “That book is as religious as a book of condolence.
There should have been more respect for the place and time of the moment.
Shame on John McCain and his sad team.”
But Ree Van Vleck from La Mesa, California, “It may have been inappropriate for a McCain aide to comment on what Obama wrote in the visitor‘s book at the Holocaust Memorial. However, it was Obama who the visit a political photo-op event that could be played ad nauseum on American television.”
Finally, many wrote in about whether Obama should admit he was wrong about the troop surge. Steve Metz from Henderson, Nevada, “I think Obama should admit the surge has been successful. Right after McCain admits he was wrong about starting the war.”
That‘s all the time we have for tonight. You can E-mail us about the show at email@example.com. Please include your name and where you are writing from. Visit the Web site, Verdict.MSNBC.com. We‘ll see you on Monday. Have a great night.
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