Guest: Simon Jenkins, Sukhdev Sandhu, Peter Herbst, Michael Medved, Vanessa Leggett, Charles Gasparino
ANNOUNCER: DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT.
DEBORAH NORVILLE, HOST: Global warming: “Fahrenheit 9/11”, the movie that‘s setting box office records across the U.S., has now traveled across the pond. Tonight, how Michael Moore‘s Bush-bashing film is playing on Tony Blair‘s turf.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In my belief, it‘s all a sham.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I thought it told the truth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is nothing to tell about the story.
Everything has been told.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: Plus, “Fahrenheit 9/11” continues to make waves here at home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - “FAHRENHEIT 9/11”)
GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now watch this drive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: From Texas socialite to federal prisoner, former Enron exec Lea Fastow, wife of ex-Enron CFO Andrew Fastow, is now behind bars, and Martha Stewart may soon be headed for her new home in jail. What will life be like for Fastow in an 8-by-10-foot cell? Writer Vanessa Leggett knows. She served time in the same facility.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This has been the longest five months of my life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: Tonight, a glimpse inside the prison walls.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I‘m very, very grateful to be free.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: And what‘s in store for convicted felon Martha Stewart? Will it be probation or prison pinstripes for the dethroned queen of gracious living?
ANNOUNCER: From studio 3K in Rockefeller Center, Deborah Norville.
NORVILLE: And good evening, everybody. Michael Moore‘s “Fahrenheit 9/11” continues to roll. It took in another $11 million this weekend in the United States, which puts it over $80 million. That is the most ever for a documentary. And it is headed for the highly coveted $100 million club.
The movie is also breaking box office records overseas. It opened in Great Britain this weekend, making $2.5 million. That‘s the biggest opening weekend ever for a documentary there. And in France, where people oppose the war in Iraq, it took in almost $3 million in its first five days. The movie analysts are saying that it could make $100 million in foreign theaters alone.
We start off tonight in the U.K. Here is a sampling of what people in London thought of the film this weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don‘t want to learn anything from the movie. Neither am I going to believe anything else, other than what I‘m convinced about. My convictions are my convictions, and I‘m very happy with my convictions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Totally shocked, totally disgusted. Can‘t wait for Bush to be out of power.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it‘s time that something like this was made and that people in Britain got to see the real truth behind the deception of war and the reasons why America went to war, first of all, against Afghanistan, and secondly, against Iraq. And I think Michael Moore deserved to win the Palme D‘Or for the film, and I think—and I just hope everybody goes to see it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It‘s always good to have an open mind. So for our generation, I think it‘s good because we can relate to the members of the family or relatives that we have in the States that have actually took part in the war. So in a way, I think it‘s very positive.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I thought it told the truth. Nobody wins in war, only the people who make the bombs and the bullets.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘ve always tried to stay reasonably impartial, but I think it‘s difficult. And especially in Michael Moore‘s world, I think it‘s difficult when you see a movie like that to stay impartial.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of Europeans now, they have this very, very negative view towards Americans. It will show that, you know, the politicians are not America. The government is not the people of America.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The political message is correct, in my opinion, but also it‘s in this funny way presented, so everyone can see it who‘s not sophisticated. It‘s for everyone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: “Fahrenheit 9/11” appears to have divided movie reviewers overseas in the same way it split opinion here in the United States. Let‘s turn to a British movie critic and a columnist for their take on the Michael Moore movie and “Fahrenheit 9/11.”
And joining me now is Simon Jenkins, who is the film critic for “The Times of London,” and Sukhdev Sandhu, who is the chief film critic for “The Daily Telegraph.”
Gentlemen, thanks so much for being with us. Mr. Jenkins, I‘ll start with you first -- $2.4 million over the weekend. That‘s an incredible amount of money. Is it reflective of the hype associated with the movie or some feelings that are being expressed by going to the theater?
SIMON JENKINS, COLUMNIST, “THE TIMES,” LONDON: I think Michael Moore is a very popular figure in Britain. His books sell very well. His films do very well. He answers to quite a deep-seated skepticism about the war and about George Bush. But again, a lot of people over here who support the war and think otherwise. It just confirms my view that Britain and America are really one and the same country these days.
NORVILLE: Really are the same country?
JENKINS: Well, we think alike. People who are for the war think that Michael Moore is a biased polemicist who‘s an outrage. People who are against the war think he‘s absolutely terrific and they cheer the movie. And those are the ones who go to see it, mostly.
NORVILLE: Mr. Sandhu, I know you‘ve seen the film both at Cannes, when it first debuted, and then again for general audiences in the U.K. What‘s been the difference in reaction of the two?
SUKHDEV SANDHU, FILM CRITIC, “THE DAILY TELEGRAPH,” LONDON: Well, there was a skepticism on the part of film critics, actually. The fact that he‘s very successful in the last few years partly because of his books and the success of “Bowling for Columbine” means that he‘s got too big for his boots. People are skeptical about the idea of him as an underdog now speaking for the masses. Critics don‘t like that. We want to knock him off his pedestal. But watching it with a normal audience, people who actually pay money, there‘s a much more enthusiastic response, even on the part of people who don‘t necessarily support the politics or the film‘s general thesis.
NORVILLE: When you were the theater with regular filmgoers who paid their money to go in there, what did they react most to? Which parts of the film seemed to get the most visceral reaction, from your observation?
SANDHU: Well, of course, there‘s the scene directly after—on the day of 9/11, where there‘s a close-up of his frozen, scared face when the chief of staff has told him that the nation is under attack, and all President Bush can do is read “My Pet Goat” for the next eight minutes or so. And then, surprisingly, one of the most effective scenes is that in which military recruiting is shown, and to just—the relationship between poverty and military take-up (ph). It‘s something that we all know, but it‘s rarely been shown so forcefully on a documentary.
NORVILLE: Mr. Jenkins, I know audiences in Europe have seen far more graphic war footage than American audiences have on television here. Has that part of the movie caused a great reaction, in the same way that it did on this side of the Atlantic?
JENKINS: I think so. I mean, I think that part of the film is very powerful. It‘s a powerful bit of anti-war polemic. There‘s no doubt about that. I think people are more skeptical about the conspiracy theory stuff. This is all about Saudi business interests, and so on. But I don‘t think that really tells. I think this is mostly a young audience. I think they like Michael Moore because he‘s iconoclastic, he‘s alternative, he dresses badly. They love the bits that are funny. They like it when an American pokes fun at America. I think they kind of go along with it. And they are basically people going to see a movie because they‘re sympathetic with his message, which is anti-war.
NORVILLE: Is the message that people are taking out anti-American or anti-American government when they leave the theater, Mr. Jenkins?
JENKINS: I don‘t think it‘s anti-American. I mean, remember, you know, our government went to this war, as well. I don‘t think it‘s anti-American. There‘s a certain amount of anti-Bush feeling which is—runs through the movie, but a lot of the movie I regard as very pro-American. And I think a lot of people take the view that it‘s to America‘s credit that a film like this gets made in America, gets distributed very widely. We haven‘t got a Michael Moore. We haven‘t got a “Fahrenheit 9/11.” You have. All credit to you.
NORVILLE: Yes, but we‘re sharing it with you over there. I want to look at the reviews that both of you submitted to your respective newspapers. Sukhdev, here‘s some of what you said. You really made a comparison with Michael Moore. You said, quote, “ ‘Fahrenheit 9/11‘ offers little in the way of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) new information. Rather, it pulls together with venom and glee some of the charges that have been lobbed around by Bush‘s opponents over the years. Nothing knew, but certainly a new way of putting it all together.”
Want to expand on that?
SANDHU: Yes. Well, partly for his TV series, “TV Nation,” which was an incredibly—very popular series in the early ‘90s, Michael Moore‘s inaugurated almost a new form of comedy in this country, one which combines stunts, boxing (ph) (UNINTELLIGIBLE) bravado, a lecture, stand-up comedy. And that‘s what‘s so incredible about the film. It actually uses many avant-garde techniques, but it also has a kind of “Punch and Judy” element to it. So we‘re not watching it for arguments. We‘re not watching it as a serious contribution to anti-war discourse. But we‘re watching it for the force and the humor and the wit and the energy with which it propels itself.
NORVILLE: Does that mean you don‘t think some attitudes will be changed as a result of what‘s clearly a point of view in this movie?
SANDHU: Oh, sure. But on the whole, I think it kind of consolidates the skepticism that many people both, in the States and certainly in the U.K., have towards the war. Its release is very timely, coming in the week that Tony Blair has announced that he has no evidence whatsoever for the existence of weapons of mass destruction.
NORVILLE: Yet again, Michael Moore‘s timing or luck, if it will, is incredibly fortuitous, as far as that goes. You also said, Sukhdev, that the documentary is “crude and vastly uneven, but in its Britney-baiting, shiny happy people sampling glee, it embodies the vulgar dynamic energy of much that is the best of American culture.”
I‘m not sure if you like it or can‘t stand it.
SANDHU: No, I absolutely love it. But it‘s not a kind of blue-blood essay. It‘s not talking and articulating the kind of sentiments you would necessarily find or expressed in the same way in, say, “The Atlantic Monthly” or in “Harper‘s.” But it has sort of something much more street, much more energetic and feisty, and that‘s what‘s crucial about it. There‘s tons of documentaries and tons of TV programs which have advanced many of the same arguments, but few of them have had quite the same impact as Michael Moore.
NORVILLE: Simon Jenkins, I know you take a little bit different view. You do look very directly at the political aspect of this movie. And in your review, you said, “ ‘Fahrenheit 9/11‘ is the worst good film I‘ve seen. It ranks among the most savage and sensational anti-war movies. Though I agree with its thrust, the depiction of George Bush over Iraq is flawed. Don‘t miss it, but turn your brains off first.”
Do you really think anybody will go to that movie open-mindedly?
JENKINS: No, I don‘t, I have to admit. I‘m not a film critic, I‘m a political columnist, so I did approach it as a work of politics, and it‘s a very flawed work of politics, in my view. If you read it as against the books that‘ve been written on the war so far, it‘s just full of holes and gaps and crazy conspiracies.
But that‘s not the point. I mean, I agree with my colleague. I mean, it‘s a wonderful bit of bravado, I guess. When I see something like that, which is going to be seen by so many people, I just longed for it to be more sophisticated, for it to make more of other aspects of the argument about the neo-con element, the Israeli element, less about the money. I‘d liked the film to be less obviously left-wing, more sophisticated. But these are all things that are just my own—my own suppositions.
It was not, it seems to me, a very intelligent film, and it‘s a pity with that opportunity not to make it more intelligent and not to include a bit about our country, too. But that said, I have to say it was a terrific movie. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I laughed, I cried, I clapped. I did all the things you‘re expected to do.
NORVILLE: There‘s been some talk -- 0 Michael Moore has said that he‘s tempted to come over to England and do a similar version of “Fahrenheit 9/11” with Tony Blair in the crosshairs. Do you think audiences in England would relish that prospect?
JENKINS: I think they would love it. I have no doubt at all about that. I think there‘s a tremendous timidity about politics in the British cinema now. Michael Moore‘s reestablished the primary of political cinema and done so really in spades, and it‘s terrific stuff. No, he issued a challenge at the premiere. He said, Come on, British moviemakers. What are you doing? I‘d like to see someone pick it up, and if not, I‘d like him to.
NORVILLE: Make going to the movies a lot more interesting these days.
Simon Jenkins, we thank you very much for being with us, from “The Times.”
Sukhdev Sandhu, thank you, too, from “The Daily Telegraph.”
“Fahrenheit 9/11” is also now showing in Canada, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Israel. And in the coming weeks, it‘ll open in 20 more countries, including Spain, Germany, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.
And by the way, another American president made news in Great Britain today. Former president Bill Clinton appeared on British TV‘s “The Richard and Judy Show,” where he talked about British prime minister Tony Blair‘s pre-war position on Iraq and on weapons of mass destruction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:
Blair‘s position was, predictably enough, the same position I felt. I felt that if Hans Blix finished his job or said, I can‘t do anymore because this man will not cooperate, so I think he has these chemical and biological weapons which were unaccounted for—that‘s the proper language, unaccounted for—then I would have supported military action. That was Tony‘s position. So they tried one more time to go to the U.N. to get enough votes for that position and couldn‘t do it. So the British were in a terrible dilemma.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: When we come back: As “Fahrenheit 9/11” breaks box office records here at home, could it have more of an impact than first thought in the upcoming presidential election? We‘ll take a look at that in just a moment.
NORVILLE: More now on the phenomenon of “Fahrenheit 9/11.” It was the fourth highest grossing movie in America this past weekend, and the controversy rages on. Two Midwestern theater chains have refused to carry the film. So what kind of political impact can a movie like “Fahrenheit 9/11” have? And does this kind of box office actually pave the way for more documentary films to reach a large audience?
Joining me now are Peter Herbst. He‘s the editor-in-chief of “Premiere” magazine. Also with us this evening, syndicated movie critic and radio talk show host Michael Medved.
Thank you both for being here. Peter, I‘ll start with you first, the same question I asked the gentlemen in London. Is this success a reflection of our media hype or the times that we live in?
PETER HERBST, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, “PREMIERE”: Well, I think that people are very, very worked up about the war, about the election. And I think that there was an audience to be tapped. That‘s certainly what we found out. There are a lot of people who are very upset about the war, and I think that the movie tapped into that anger and that concern, just as “The Passion of the Christ” tapped into, I think, deep religious feelings that people hadn‘t tapped into before.
NORVILLE: But Michael, by the same token, there‘s a very strong feeling on the other side of the political coin, too, that‘s obviously not addressed in the 9/11 movie.
MICHAEL MEDVED, SYNDICATED FILM CRITIC: No, absolutely right. Look, I think that the fact that John Kerry made a point that he hasn‘t even seen the film is an indication of how radioactive it is. I think the Democrats are worried, and rightly so, that Michael Moore suddenly becomes their official spokesman because Michael Moore is not mainstream. He is not speaking for the majority of Americans. You can have a great big hit movie, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) appealing to five, six million people of an electorate of over 200 million, and that, I think, is what Michael Moore has done. But for people in the political system, the idea of the president of the United States as a traitor, that he‘s a Saudi agent, that he somehow went to war for the Saudis, when the Saudis themselves said, Please Mr. President, don‘t go to war—I think all of that makes it a questionable bonus or help for the Democrats.
NORVILLE: You said five or six million people. Is that what $100 million or now we‘re $80 million—approaching $100 million—is that what $100 million in sales figures out to, in terms of the number of actual bodies in theaters that saw this movie?
MEDVED: Well, it is, especially when you consider that there are people—and I know some of them because they call my radio show—who‘ve seen it three and four and five times. Look, you compared it, or there was a mention of “The Passion of the Christ.” “The Passion of the Christ” did almost $400 million in business in this country with a movie that wasn‘t politically controversial, that was religiously controversial and connected with America‘s religious sentiments. This film is on the political edge. It has gotten a tremendous amount of attention. But I think it‘s just about played out, in terms of its usefulness, if any, for the Democrats.
NORVILLE: Peter, when you look at this movie, the argument has been it‘s not really a documentary because there is such a definitive point of view. But has the notion of what a documentary is changed as a result of “Fahrenheit 9/11”?
HERBST: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think, you know, you cite five—or Michael cites five or six million people or seven million people seeing this movie. That still makes it, in its theatrical release, the most successful documentary of all time.
MEDVED: Absolutely. That‘s true.
HERBST: This is not “Nanook of the North.” This is very different. And it is ushered in with films like “Super Sized Me,” the era of first-person documentaries, documentaries with a point of view. This is a cinematic pamphlet. There‘s no question about it. This is not a carefully adduced set of circumstances. It‘s an argument.
NORVILLE: But it‘s also got humor. I mean, even if you don‘t agree with the premise of the movie, you‘ve got to laugh when you see somebody putting spit in their hand and then wiping it through their hair.
HERBST: He‘s very clever, I‘m sure, unfairly so at times. But it‘s a clever, well-done movie. It‘s much less off-putting than some of the other movies Michael Moore has made. This movie would not be doing the kind of business it‘s doing if it were not immensely entertaining.
NORVILLE: And would it do the kind of business that it‘s doing, Michael Medved, if there were better movies coming out of Hollywood? I mean, we sort of got “Spider-Man 2” and not a whole lot else.
MEDVED: Well, no, look, I—I think that there‘s no question that this has been a triumph of marketing. All of the controversy surrounding the movie has called attention to it. It became a water cooler subject, where everybody wanted to talk about it on talk radio and around the country.
But the truth is, I don‘t agree that—I don‘t think this movie is as entertaining as some of Michael Moore‘s other work. I mean, I also had problems with “Bowling for Columbine” and some of its reliability, but that was a vastly more entertaining, juicy movie. This film has one tone, and it‘s a tone of consistent outrage and horror, and it doesn‘t even deal—make an attempt to deal with its own internal consistencies, which is one of the reasons I kind of don‘t think that he is going to get the Oscar nomination he clearly craves for this, but that‘ll be interesting to see.
NORVILLE: Well, you know what? He‘s making so much money, he probably doesn‘t care. He got the Palme D‘Or, and I‘m sure he‘s very happy with that. I want to talk about the whole political...
MEDVED: Oh, absolutely.
NORVILLE: ... thing about this, the notion that some fear this movie could sway the election. Peter, do you think it‘s conceivable that a movie that comes out the summer before the election can actually be still in people‘s psyche come November, when they go into the voting booth?
HERBST: Well, I think that—I‘ll address the question of whether a movie can affect people politically secondly. But first of all, the DVD is coming out in October, and this was planned to come out in October, and I‘m sure that Michael Moore‘s hope is that it will influence the election. But I think that the economy will affect the election, how the Iraq war is going, how the process there of the Iraqis taking over their country goes is going to affect it. Those are the things that are going to affect the election. This movie is not going to affect the election.
NORVILLE: That said, as I noted...
NORVILLE: Go ahead, Michael.
MEDVED: Yes. The other thing is that, look, there‘s a problem here for John Kerry and for John Edwards. They both voted for this war. By taking such a strong anti-war position, it puts them in a difficult position that I believe that the Democrats and the people who are working for them will want this movie to be a little bit less in the public consciousness in October, right before election.
NORVILLE: It‘s also put some theater owners in a bit of a quandary, too. I mentioned at the top, and I just want to read a couple of quotes from some theater owners who said, No, we just aren‘t going to run it.
Robert Fridley, who runs the Fridley group in the Midwest, said, quote, “It has always been and will continue to be our policy to refuse to play what we feel are propaganda films, no matter the source. Having said that, we do not infer that Michael Moore has no right to make his film and have it distributed. He has the right to have his message, just as we have the right to choose not to be the messenger.”
Then Beth Kerasotes, who‘s with the GKC theaters, said the same thing, basically ending her statement by saying, “During a time of conflict, our troops need and deserve our undivided support.”
Peter, I can‘t believe that theater owners would say, We don‘t want to show a movie that we think our customers want to come and see. They wouldn‘t say that if they thought people were lining up at the door to watch the movie.
HERBST: Well, these are the not A and B counties. These tend to be areas that are more rural and they have more conservative audiences there. I think, nevertheless that—and theater owners have the right to show whatever they want. We live in a free-market society, and they can—they‘re certainly entitled to do that. I don‘t see this as censorship. But they open themselves up to—they have decided now what kinds of movies they‘re going to run and not run. They open themselves up to boycotts. I think that they may end up with more controversy than they wanted in the first place.
NORVILLE: And final question, Michael Medved, for you. If there‘s a “Fahrenheit 9/11” that takes the Michael Moore point of view, is it possible there‘ll be a cinematic rebuttal—I don‘t know, a “Celsius November 3” or something, that comes out?
MEDVED: Well, no one has planned one. There was a film that took the opposite point of view called “The Clinton Chronicles.” People forget about that. It was a scandalous film that came out in the midst of the Clinton administration about the Clinton circle of death and his drug dealing and his alleged murders of people. And it was a film that was sold on the Internet for a while, but all mainstream conservatives distanced themselves from it because it was scurrilous and it was irresponsible and it went too far. And I would like to see the same kind distancing, at least, from some liberals who claim to be mainstream from a film that is every bit as scurrilous and irresponsible and extreme and shrill as “The Clinton Chronicles” was regarding President Clinton.
NORVILLE: Peter, do you think this thing will have petered out by the time the November election rolls around?
HERBST: I think that the DVD business is bigger now than the movie business, the theatrical business. So I think that it‘s going to—it‘s going to sell a lot of DVDs, and we‘ll all be talking on TV then, as well. And I think that—I think that people who are convinced that this is a bad war love this movie. People who love the war hate this movie. I don‘t think it‘s going to change their opinions.
NORVILLE: All right. Peter Herbst, thank you very much. Michael Medved, thank you, as well.
ANNOUNCER: Up next: She lived a life of luxury until the fall of Enron. Now Lea Fastow is behind bars for helping her husband hide ill-gotten company gains. How will this former Texas socialite and stay-at-home mom adjust to her new home? And could Martha Stewart soon be facing a similar fate? Life behind prison walls for white-collar criminals when DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT returns.
NORVILLE: What is it like to live the life of luxury, huge homes, fancy cars, a staff to cater to your every whim and then see it all come crashing down and ending up in prison, days and nights in a dingy, small cell, the prison staff watching your every move?
Well, this week, two wealthy and at one-time powerful women are facing that reality. On Friday, Martha Stewart is scheduled to be sentenced by a federal judge. She faces 10 to 16 months in jail. More on Martha Stewart‘s case in just a moment.
But, first, former Enron executive Lea Fastow is spending her first night in jail tonight. The wife of the former Enron chief financial officer Andrew Fastow reported to the federal detention facility in Houston this morning, where she‘ll serve a one-year sentence after pleading guilty to signing a fraudulent tax return to help her husband hide money as part of the Enron scheme. Her attorneys asked the judge to recommend that she be put in a minimum security prison, but the judge refused.
And the real estate and grocery heiress has wound up in a stricter lockup house with all kinds of inmates. Her husband, Andrew, has also pleaded guilty. He‘ll be serving 10 years in prison. But his sentence doesn‘t begin until his wife‘s ends. The Fastows asked to serve their sentences at different times, so that one would be out of jail to watch their children.
What will life be like for Lea Fastow at the federal detention center in Houston?
My next guest has more than just a good idea of that. She is aspiring crime writer Vanessa Leggett, who served six months in that facility for not revealing confidential sources.
And, Ms. Leggett, thanks so much for being with us.
VANESSA LEGGETT, FORMER FEDERAL PRISONER: Thank you.
NORVILLE: What‘s going to be the toughest thing for Lea Fastow?
LEGGETT: I think just adjusting to a total loss of freedom. Simple choices that were hers before today, she won‘t have anymore and that‘s really difficult when, you know, every move that you make is essentially dictated by the federal government.
NORVILLE: Give us a sense of what a typical day at it facility is like.
LEGGETT: You wake up and you are responsible for cleaning your cell daily.
NORVILLE: Do they force you to take a shower every day?
LEGGETT: You know, I don‘t know. I don‘t think so. But pretty much everyone does. And you—most inmates go to work. They have a work detail. And I think that really helps pass the time, if you can get a work assignment.
And so she‘ll probably do that and then she‘ll come back to the main unit with the other women for lunch and then she will go back to work, come back for dinner. It‘s a very monotonous existence.
NORVILLE: And how many women are in the facility with you? Are you in a cell by yourself? Are you in more of a holding block with 15, 20 women?
LEGGETT: It really depends on the population at the time. Usually there‘s about 100 women on the unit. It‘s usually full. But there are occasions where you could be alone in a cell, and I was at one point.
NORVILLE: And I know that you went to this facility because you refused to reveal sources during a grand jury investigation of a murder in Houston. I‘m sure you went in there thinking, I‘m a writer. I‘m not a criminal. I‘m different from the rest of these women. How soon until they broke you and you were just like one of the other girls in the cell block?
LEGGETT: Well, you know, I actually didn‘t go in with that attitude. I—I didn‘t feel different and I didn‘t want to be perceived differently, because, when you‘re in that environment, if you ask for special treatment or desire it, no one likes you, first of all. And, secondly, as a writer, I figured, heck, if I‘ve got to be in this environment, I might as well get the full experience.
And so I really didn‘t solicit special treatment. And as far as I know, Ms. Fastow has also not sought special treatment. Her attorney is actually who petitioned for her to go to a different facility. I think she‘s just ready to serve her time and get it behind her.
NORVILLE: Yes. And her attorney also this morning made a point of saying why she showed up early at the center. She didn‘t have to report until 2:00 this afternoon, but she showed up first thing this morning and this is the reason he says why.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE DEGUERIN, ATTORNEY FOR FASTOW: I‘m quite proud of her. She‘s got a lot of character, and she knows she was due to be here at 2:00. She wanted to get it going. She‘s the type of person that if the judge says do 12 pushups, she‘s going to do 13.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: I can understand him being admiring of that attitude, but isn‘t it a better piece of advice to just keep your head down and if they say 12, do 12, and don‘t volunteer for one extra pushup?
LEGGETT: Well, I don‘t know. You want to get along and you do want to please, so that you don‘t cause any trouble.
I think probably more than anything, Mrs. Fastow, if she‘s anything like I was, just wanted to go ahead and get the sentence going, because the sooner she got there, you know, she would get acclimated and have her time served.
NORVILLE: Like you, I have also spent time behind bars. I was sent there as part of a news assignment. I only had to spend a week. But I remember I was terrified of what those other inmates might do to me. No matter how much you try to be under the radar, no matter how much Lea Fastow and you try to be under the radar, you‘re the new woman in the cell block and therefore you‘re a target.
How worried should she be for her personal security and what specific things should she be concerned about?
LEGGETT: I don‘t think that she necessarily has a reason to fear that. In fact, I think it‘s better advice to try to not fear something like that because, as with anything, people can smell fear and that‘s just a sign of weakness and so you want to maintain your composure.
I don‘t really think that she has any reason to, you know, be in fear of what‘s going to happen to her or how other inmates will receive her. There is an initiation process, if you will, of socialization.
NORVILLE: And what‘s that?
LEGGETT: It‘s really sort of—it‘s unspoken. It‘s unwritten. It‘s more of just nonverbal contact. As long as she holds her head up and keeps eye contact with everyone, I think she‘s going to be fine.
NORVILLE: Is anybody going to touch her, anybody going to hurt her, anybody going to beat her up? How rough does it get in there? These people are criminals.
LEGGETT: Well, you know, it just depends.
NORVILLE: What‘s the worst you saw?
LEGGETT: Well, you know, I didn‘t really see any severe confrontations. I mean, there was a violent incidents that had occurred shortly before I was there, but that really is between different factions, maybe gangs or what have you. Unless you really upset someone, that‘s not going to happen. That‘s mostly for television and movies.
NORVILLE: Well, let me ask you this. She is connected to the biggest financial debacle that‘s hit Houston, probably in the history of that state; 20-some-odd thousand lost their jobs. Thousands of people lost their money. My guess is some of them probably have relatives even behind bars there at that facility in Houston. Is there that connection that could make things a little more dicey for Ms. Fastow?
LEGGETT: It could, but I just don‘t foresee that based on my experience.
When she is there, she will have a prison number and she will be called by her last name. And you know, all the associations that exist in the outside world with, you know, all of our possessions and the things that we think define us dissolve when you‘re in that environment. And once you‘re immersed in there, you just become like everything else.
NORVILLE: And, of course, the one thing you don‘t forget, though, is your kids. And attorney DeGuerin talked about that today.
NORVILLE: Let‘s give a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEGUERIN: One of them is really too young to understand, but the other one knows all about it. They‘re the type of family that deal with—like I said, they have a problem, they deal with it. And one of the problems is going to be how this affects the children.
In fact, the reason she‘s here today is, it‘s the best choice she could make for the kids. She‘s a mother first and a person with great empathy for other people. She‘s going to do fine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: She‘s got two little boys, both of them under the age of 10. Will she get to see her children while she‘s behind bars?
LEGGETT: She will if she chooses to. Some women didn‘t want their children coming up there. Others did. I mean, I think it just depends on the inmate and whether or not they want their children in that environment.
NORVILLE: It‘s a question probably a lot of people behind bars ask themselves. I‘ll ask you. Was it worth it?
LEGGETT: It was just something that had to happen. You know, while you‘re there, no matter who you are or what you‘re there for, whether it‘s civil contempt or whatever crime you may have been charged with or serving time for, you know, you‘re all people.
And it just basically gets down to that. I mean, you can‘t really measure whether or not it‘s worth it. I mean, she has a sentence to serve. She has a debt to repay to society in the court‘s eyes. And whether you‘re there for that or whether the government is exacting their pound of flesh, as they were in my case, you just deal with it.
NORVILLE: We‘ll let that be the last word. Vanessa Leggett, thanks so much for your insights. We appreciate your time.
And when we come back, another high-profile woman who could face prison time for corporate crime. The future for Martha Stewart after this break.
NORVILLE: Are Martha Stewart‘s days as a free woman numbered? She‘s facing sentencing this week, but she‘s not giving up without a fight. More on Martha Stewart with a trial insider next.
NORVILLE: As Lea Fastow spends her first night behind bars, there‘s another lady of luxury wondering whether she‘ll be next.
Martha Stewart is due back in court on Friday for sentencing. And she is likely to be facing 10 to 16 months in jail. Yet, despite her conviction and the fact that her latest appeal was turned down, not everyone on her defense team is convinced the game is over.
Joining me to talk about the next step for Martha Stewart is Charlie Gasparino. He is senior writer for “Newsweek” magazine.
Good to see you.
What do you think is going to happen Friday at sentencing?
CHARLES GASPARINO, “THE WALL STREET JOURNAL”: I believe she‘s going to get 15 months in jail. It gives her a chance to get out of jail in a year, because I think she can knock off 15 percent of that jail time, but she‘s definitely going to jail.
NORVILLE: And she‘s going to jail 15 months, means she‘s going to be going to a proper prison facility, not a lesser sort of place, like Lea Fastow is going to.
Well, she has to go to a federal penitentiary for women. Those are generally easier—that‘s easier time than, say, a state penitentiary. So, sure, she‘s not going to—she might not get the royal treatment, but she definitely has to go to jail.
NORVILLE: She‘s going to go to jail. She‘s not going to get the royal treatment. And one gathers watching this play out in front of Judge Cedarbaum, that she‘s kind of had it with Martha Stewart and her appeals and her questions.
GASPARINO: And her attorneys.
NORVILLE: And her attorneys.
Basically, they‘ve thrown two appeals—two chances for a mistrial up there. Both of them were summarily rejected, rejected with very harsh language. And you have got to think that Judge Cedarbaum is now saying, listen, there is no remorse on the part of this woman. She‘s probably saying to herself, listen, I don‘t mind people trying, but they‘re pulling everything out of their hat right now. And it‘s failed.
NORVILLE: And Judge Cedarbaum is the person who will be passing sentence on Martha Stewart.
GASPARINO: That‘s right.
NORVILLE: Given the fact that she might be somewhat bent out of shape about these repetitive presentations to the court, is it possible that Martha‘s social life during these months since her conviction is going to work in her disfavor? She‘s been out an awful lot.
GASPARINO: Yes. Right. And she‘s shown little remorse. It looks like she‘s completely—she‘s putting out the perception that she‘s completely innocent.
I don‘t think so. This is a judge that‘s very much by the book. Everything she has done has been by the book. And I think that she‘ll stick to the evidence at hand. She‘ll stick to the fact that her appeals, these statements her lawyers have made have been kind of absurd. Basically, they tried to get the first—thrown out the first time because some guy got, you know—had some brushes with the law and that was supposed to color his perception, which seems absurd.
And now this latest thing with the witness, the federal...
NORVILLE: Larry Stewart, the ink expert, no relation, who has perjured himself in other cases.
GASPARINO: Right. That‘s very bad. The governor should never put up a perjurer.
But the bottom line is, his testimony was meaningless to the whole thing. Doug Faneuil‘s testimony was meaningful. And he was a very credible witness. And Armstrong‘s testimony was very meaningful. These are the witnesses that made the case, not Larry Stewart.
NORVILLE: And yet Bob Morvillo continues to speak publicly and say, we think we are going to prevail. Here he is again.
ROBERT MORVILLO, ATTORNEY FOR MARTHA STEWART: We are confident that once we get our day in the court of appeals, the conviction will be reversed and Martha Stewart will ultimately be determined not to have done anything wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: OK. So that‘s Bob Morvillo after the conviction saying, yes, we‘re going ahead to the appeals process. They‘ve brought in a pretty significant heavy hitter to handle the appeals, Walter Dellinger.
NORVILLE: Who is he and why is this such an important hire?
GASPARINO: Walter Dellinger is a former solicitor general of the United States. Listen, this guy tries cases in front of the Supreme Court. I think they‘re angling to take this to the top.
And, you know, it‘s interesting. Everybody deserves their day in court, but there comes a point where you have got to say enough is enough. There‘s overwhelming evidence that Martha Stewart did what they said she did. She might as well I think fold up tent right now.
NORVILLE: What is this costing her? I read in an article just the other day she sold another 400-some-odd thousand shares raising close to $3.5 million for legal defenses.
Well, listen, I have heard only through the grapevine that Bob Morvillo charges close to $750 an hour. It‘s got to be that much or more. Listen, she pays for security. She pays for lots of lawyers. Now Dellinger is involved. Dellinger is a very expensive lawyer. It‘s got to be costing her millions. And is it worth it?
I don‘t know. Is it worth a year in jail? That‘s a question that I can‘t answer. I wouldn‘t want to spend a year in jail. But the evidence is pretty overwhelming. She does have a better chance at the appellate division because basically the appellate courts didn‘t hear her arguments, didn‘t see just the massive amount of evidence, so maybe they‘re going to take the Larry Stewart screw-up more seriously.
NORVILLE: And they also didn‘t see Martha Stewart‘s demeanor in court, and they didn‘t see Bill Cosby and Rosie O‘Donnell and the famous friends coming in wearing their sunglasses. Those things being out of the picture, you think it could bode well for Martha on appeal?
GASPARINO: Better. She has a better chance. I still don‘t see it.
The evidence was overwhelming.
NORVILLE: You know what I don‘t understand is, here is a woman for whom cost was no object. Did she have the best attorneys that money could buy, because she had the money to buy the best attorneys?
Well, listen, sometimes, the best attorneys screw up. Yes, she had the best attorneys both in the beginning, where she made those absurd statements to the government that cost her a lot, and Bob Morvillo. But, listen, I don‘t think she was served well by her attorneys. That‘s my opinion.
Bob Morvillo I think did a horrendous job out there. And he basically tried to turn this case into whether Doug Faneuil was a good guy or a bad guy and that didn‘t work.
NORVILLE: There was another person at trial with Martha Stewart. And that‘s Peter Bacanovic. He too will be sentenced on Friday. What do you predict his sentencing?
GASPARINO: I think around the same amount. I think they both have to do jail time and I think it‘s going to be a year and more.
NORVILLE: And given the climate right now, judges don‘t like white-collar criminals.
GASPARINO: No, especially those with no remorse.
NORVILLE: And you believe that Peter Bacanovic also showed no remorse?
GASPARINO: Oh, yes, he was actually more flippant than Martha. I think he used to push by reporters, push by cameramen. And none of them have said one word that would give a judge an sort of indication that they were sorry.
NORVILLE: And saying I‘m sorry at this stage of the game is too late?
GASPARINO: It‘s too late. Well, first off, they can‘t, because they‘re going for appeals. You don‘t even have to say, I‘m sorry. You just don‘t have to be so arrogant.
NORVILLE: All right, Charlie Gasparino from “Newsweek” magazine, always good to see you. Thanks so much.
NORVILLE: When we come back—we‘re going to take a break, though, but in a moment, your thoughts about priests and members of the Catholic faith who say celibacy should be optional.
That‘s coming up.
NORVILLE: A lot of you have been writing in about our program last week on celibacy in the Roman Catholic Church, both good and bad.
Selah Schulze from Durant, Oklahoma, wrote in saying: “Your program talked of the problem that there are few priests to take care of the big number of Catholics. Well, as a believing Catholic, I wonder if there really is a problem. Few Catholics believe all the teachings of the Catholic Church, birth control for one. So are they really real Catholics? Maybe the few priests taking care of the few real believing Catholics is sufficient.”
Jen Mesot has some strong words about the hypothesis that celibacy might have a link to the church pedophilia scandal. She says: “Celibacy and/or singlehood does not result in an increase of pedophiles. There is no connection. Pedophilia is a sickness that has absolutely nothing to do with immaturity, as one of your guests stated. Do pedophiles seek out the priesthood to victimize? This would have been a more appropriate question.”
Mary Moran from New Jersey congratulates us for what she calls a fantastic look at priests and celibacy. She said: “I am a Roman Catholic and I want to know how these men really feel. The laity need to hear what it is to be a priest in the year 2004. We will never hear these opinions in church. Your program let us hear from them firsthand.”
And J.D. from Somerset, Kentucky, wrote in about Friday night‘s show with Metallica. Yes, Friday night, we talked with members of the group Metallica about this new documentary that shows all four band members as they go to therapy sessions to help get along with each other.
J.D. wrote and said: “When I saw Metallica open up and get real, it was initially quite weird. Yes, this is the four horsemen of the heaviest of rock icons getting mushy about relationships and feelings. Well, it turned out to be just a human story and it was touching.”
We love to hear from you, so do send us your ideas and comments to us at NORVILLE@MSNBC.com. We do post some of your e-mails on our Web page. That‘s NORVILLE.MSNBC.com, which is the same place you can sign up for our newsletter.
When we come back, we‘ll take a look at the price of beauty, the increasing popularity of plastic surgery in America. Is it worth the risk?
That‘s coming up.
NORVILLE: That‘s our program for tonight. Thank you for watching.
I‘m Deborah Norville.
Coming up tomorrow night, how far will Americans go to change the way they look? News flash, folks, pretty darn far. Americans are absolutely obsessed with cosmetic surgery. And it‘s not just what you see on the reality TV shows. Among our guests tomorrow, we‘ll meet one woman who has undergone the knife 45 times. And how young is too young? Is all the risk worth the reward? Well, we‘ll let you be the judge after you join us for a full hour tomorrow night on cosmetic surgery. It is eye-opening, or eye-lifting.
Coming up next, Joe Scarborough has got a look at the debates on the gay marriage amendment. “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY” is next.
We‘ll see you tomorrow.
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