Guest: Ralph Nader, Howard Fineman, Wendy Murphy, Nick Warnock, Amy Henry
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Equal time. Kerry demands it from the TV stations that will broadcast a film critical of his war record.
Time and again, the Nader nine. The states in which Ralph Nader could once again throw the electoral votes to George Bush. Ralph Nader joins us.
How much time until we do the O‘Reilly story? Tonight, the first crack in support from the station that carries his radio show, and his lawyer refuses to deny there were sexual conversations.
And time for the mothers of all police chases. You will swear you‘ve never seen anything like this, until you see this. Mad cow disease. Meaning the police are now mad at this cow. All that and more now on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Good evening. This is Friday, October 15, 18 days until the 2004 presidential election.
We don‘t understand this election. No one does. That stark confession in an interview with “The Los Angeles Times” coming from Newt Gingrich. And the new stuff which we do not really understand today includes a clarification, just what Ralph Nader‘s influence may be on the vote, although Mr. Nader will join us here to explain it himself.
We also don‘t understand the latest polls, the continuing confusion over which side is permitted to mention the vice president‘s daughter and which one isn‘t.
But the fifth story on the COUNTDOWN begins with a television controversy.
No, not that one. We‘ll get to him presently.
This television story. John Kerry‘s campaign has requested equal time from the broadcasting group that will begin airing an anti-Kerry film on its 62 stations next Thursday. The campaign this morning writing the president of the Sinclair Broadcasting Group that the program is intended to be an attack on Senator Kerry and thus is not the result of decisions made on the basis of newsworthiness. The letter from Kerry campaign council Marc Elias goes on to read, “this program does not meet any of the requirements for the exemptions from the equal opportunities requirement,” unquote, i.e., the so-called Fairness Doctrine. Elias concludes, “please consider this a request that each Sinclair station that airs the documentary provides supporters of the Kerry-Edwards campaign with a similar amount of time on that station before the election.”
Sinclair Broadcasting, which has instructed all of its 62 stations in 39 American television markets to preempt various prime-time network programs and run instead the film “Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal” says it had already offered Kerry time to respond in a format in which he would be asked, quote, “tough questions” about his Vietnam service by a Sinclair vice president, who happens to be a conservative news commentator. Otherwise, the company did not respond to Kerry‘s request today.
Yesterday, FCC Chairman Michael Powell, son of the incumbent president‘s secretary of state, said his group would not intervene in the issue and would not stop the broadcasting of the film.
From television ratings to the political equivalent, and the polls continue to swing as wildly as rubber man riding a pogo stick during a hurricane. The Zogby tracking poll has in one week gone from a measurable margin for Bush, to a slight lead for Kerry, to a dead heat, to a slight lead for Bush. Yesterday, Zogby had it 46-45 in the president‘s favor; today back to a measurable margin for Mr. Bush, 48 to 44.
There is perhaps even better news for Mr. Bush in the interior numbers. Zogby‘s research among undecideds, showing that nearly a quarter of them now say that he deserves reelection. That figure was at 18 percent among the undecideds in its last survey.
“The Washington Post” also out with its sunset poll. No change still yesterday, both candidates still even at 48 percent.
And coming in with what may again be the most impactful 1 percent in that or any other poll, is Ralph Nader. He has the potential to once again influence the outcome of the presidential election, if for no other reason than he can. “The New York Times” reporting today that the third party candidate is emerging as the threat that Democrats have been fearing. Polls showing he has the potential to swing the results in nine battleground states—Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Wisconsin, and, oh, by the way, Florida. Mr. Nader telling the newspaper that Senator Kerry would not make a good president anyway. Quoting him: “He‘s not his own man, because he takes the liberals for granted. He‘s allowing Bush to pull him in his direction. It doesn‘t show much for his character.”
Not what he said in May after meeting with the senator at Kerry campaign headquarters, calling the Democratic candidate then, quote, “very presidential.”
I spoke with Ralph Nader earlier this evening.
OLBERMANN: Mr. Nader, thank you for your time tonight.
RALPH NADER (I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Let me start with these quotations in today‘s article in “The New York Times,” which have you quoted as saying Mr. Kerry‘s not his own man and has taken liberals for granted. Those seem to be in some contrast to your praise of Senator Kerry in May, when you called him “very presidential.” How do you reconcile the contrast?
NADER: Because “The New York Times” reporter in May said, “how did he look to you?” And I said he looked presidential. It was just an appearance question.
I think John Kerry is surrounded by too many corporate campaign advisers, corporate campaign consultants and corporate financiers. And he‘s basically taking the liberal votes for granted, in part because the liberals are not making any demand on him on labor, environment, civil rights, civil liberties, minority, anti-poverty issues. They‘re giving him a free ride, because they‘re so freaked out by Bush. This allows the corporate interests to pull Kerry more and more in their direction.
And one of the reasons why this race is so close is because on so many issues, whether it‘s no exit strategy from Iraq, or Israel-Palestine, or the Patriot Act, or the bloated and redundant military budget, or not doing anything about low-wage economy, or universal health insurance now, the similarities are so great that it becomes a close race. And what he‘s got to do is begin talking populist programs as if people mattered. He should be able to defeat Bush if he stands for a living wage and a real health insurance for all.
OLBERMANN: But as “The Times” article suggests, your candidacy can be very influential in nine critical states, 10 if you get on the ballot in Ohio. But do you see any scenario in which that influence does anything except guarantee the reelection of President Bush?
NADER: No. Because what isn‘t counted in the polls, Keith, is the extent to which we‘ve been taking apart the Bush administration all over the country, and getting some resonance with conservatives, and an interesting margin of conservatives who are furious with Bush over the big government Patriot Act, over his coddling of communist China, over the sovereignty-shredding impact of WTO and NAFTA, over Leave No Child Behind, which they interpret as federal regulation of local school districts. And of course, deficits as far as the eye can see.
It‘s amazing how the Democrats are not moving into that significant margin of the conservative vote.
Well, we are.
OLBERMANN: The Zogby Poll today, and polls are not necessarily universally reliable, but it indicated that were you not in this race, that 41 percent of your support would be going to John Kerry, 15 percent to George Bush, 30 to other presidential candidates, and 13 percent would remain undecided.
Do you at this point, looking at this race realistically, inside the three-week mark, do you think that the reelection of George Bush is the best realistic outcome of this election, and would you assume responsibility for it if it happens?
NADER: First of all, I want to defeat George W. Bush. I don‘t trust the Democrats who have been losing, losing, losing for the last 10 years at the local, state and national level to the worst Republicans, including losing an election in 2000 they actually won.
So the Democrats, you can‘t get that through their head, that the polls are not the marker. The marker is the political dynamics before the polls, the extent to which I‘m helping to repress some of Bush‘s vote, I‘m helping to push the Democrats toward opposing a military draft, for example. As our Web site, VoteNader.org, illustrates, issue after issue, we‘re presenting literally on a silver platter a few days ago to the Kerry-Edwards headquarters on how he can beat Bush.
The second is a more fascinating thing, that Solan Simmons (ph) at the University of Wisconsin has documented, is that, unfortunately, because people want to be with winners, people who support the Nader-Camejo ticket, a good measure of them, when they go into that voting booth, they want to be with a winner, and they vote for Kerry.
So it‘s not that simple, Keith. We‘re trying to get a deeper substance and a higher tone to the presidential campaign, dealing with the necessities of the American people, and focusing on how these two parties are turning our country into one-party dominated districts, stripping people of any semblance of an election. It‘s more like a coronation, because only the incumbent is going to win in these congressional and state legislative districts. That‘s important material.
OLBERMANN: You point out what you think the Democrats can‘t get through their heads. They would say you can‘t get through your head that the only possible outcome here is that you will tip the balance here not towards defeating George Bush, but rather to merely reelecting him. Is that not a fact?
NADER: Easy rebuttal. Why haven‘t they been trying to scramble for the 100 million non-voters? Why have they not actively registered nine million African-American voters, as Reverend Jackson has demanded that they do, 90 percent of whom would vote Democratic in swing—the swing states? I mean, they are obsessed with scapegoating a small progressive effort to try to give people more voices and choices, and using dirty tricks and violating our civil liberties with hordes of Republican corporate law firms like Kirkland Ellis, Ken Starr‘s old law firm in Ohio.
So I mean, the whole story has not come out, Keith. And I‘m glad you‘re giving me the chance to talk about it.
OLBERMANN: The fights that you want to fight on behalf of people in this context, in the electoral context, the fights you have spent your adult life fighting on behalf of people in consumer context, is fighting them now in this election worth the price of perhaps deciding this election, one way or the other?
NADER: It‘s worth the price of breaking up the two-party system. It has to start somewhere. They have really betrayed the American people, turned Washington into corporate occupied territory with almost every department and agency controlled by corporate power. If “Businessweek” magazine can say there‘s too much corporate power in America, over government, consumers, environment, tax payers, elections, I think at least one party should say the same thing.
OLBERMANN: Let me ask you finally, I just want to confirm something.
I think I know the answer to this question, but I just want to confirm it. There‘s no chance in the next 18 days you‘re going to withdraw from this campaign and endorse another candidate?
NADER: Less of a chance than George W. Bush or John Kerry quitting. We wan to—want to fight beyond November 2. This is a fight where often we have to lose and then fight and lose and then fight in order for the clean elections and addressing the necessities of the American people prevail. It‘s worth it. It‘s worth every day of it and we‘re trying to do this with millions of supporters and volunteers who are swelling our email list on Votenader.org. They want change.
OLBERMANN: Ralph Nader, the independent candidate for president of the United States. Thank you for your time tonight.
NADER: You‘re welcome.
OLBERMANN: Mr. Nader may not have liked it, but whatever else Wednesday‘s third and final debate was or was not, it was a TV hit. The combined audience for the commercial broadcast and cable English language networks 51.2 million. And that does not include anybody who watched on C-Span, PBS or Telemundo. 62.5 million watched the first one, the slammy in Miami. 46.7 million saw number two, the hoey from St. Louis, even the undercard, the vice presidential debate drew 43.6 million viewers. Wednesday‘s audience cleaned the clock of the only network not carrying it, Fox which despite a Yankees-Red Sox playoff game and in St. Louis and Houston those two teams opposing each other averaged just 15.2 million viewers.
In the wake of those strong ratings NBC Universal Television President Jeff Zucker today offered President Bush and Senator Kerry their own weekly reality series, “I‘m a Famous Politician, Get Me Out of Here.”
Sorry, I made that up.
Before we explore the makeup of the Mary Cheney controversy, a touch of internal politics that may cheese you off. Cheese meant literally. The Associated Press reporting that the TSA, the Transportation Security Administration held a lavish awards ceremony in a Washington hotel at which it spent $200,000 on travel and lodging, $81,000 for awards and $500 on cheese displays. This is data from the Homeland Security Department‘s own inspector general, who also says the TSA has given its senior executives bonuses averaging higher than at any other federal agency and among the 543 trophies it gave out at that shindig was a TSA lifetime achievement award. The TSA is exactly two years old. Some lifetime.
Almost as long as the post debate Mary Cheney controversy has been running. Is it real outraged or manufactured political opportunism or both?
And your entertainment dollars in action. Count down to day three of the Bill O‘Reilly sexual harassment investigation. O‘Reilly asks the court to let him fire the woman accusing him. Oh, boy.
OLBERMANN: For a time in the nineties, don‘t ask, don‘t tell was the most maddeningly repeated catch phrase of American politics. Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN, the continuing, perhaps inexplicably continuing controversy over John Kerry‘s mid-debate reference to Mary Cheney, and the phrase may have morphed into, if you weren‘t asked, don‘t tell. One actual development in this story today while Senator Kerry stood by his comments about her, he distanced himself from those made by his campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill immediately after the debate.
“There are a lot of questions here about gay marriage and she, Mary Cheney, is someone who is a major figure in the campaign. I think that it‘s fair game and I think that she‘s been treated very respectfully,” said Ms. Cahill.
In a meeting with the reporters and editors of the newspaper, “The Des Moines Register,” Kerry said he objected to Cahill‘s use of the term “fair game.” Kerry also said he was surprised by the reaction to his reference to Ms. Cheney. The vice president himself discussed his daughter‘s sexual orientation during a campaign stop in August. He and Senator Edwards discussed the issue amicably. When Cheney was asked about his daughter during the vice presidential debate and in her now infamous 1981 novel “Sisters” Lynne Cheney used lesbianism as part of the plot in her story of the Wild West.
So exactly what is the stink all about? Is it one of those, I can say this but you can‘t things that have peppered our political history? Our friend, “Newsweek‘s” chief political correspondent and MSNBC News analyst Howard Fineman has just written about this one on the MSNBC website. Howard, good evening.
HOWARD FINEMAN, “NEWSWEEK”: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: What is, do you think, at the heart of this controversy?
FINEMAN: This is a very emotional topic. I mentioned it in my web piece and I got hundreds of emails on both sides. Gay and lesbian activists saying how dare Lynne Cheney be upset. It‘s the Bush administration that‘s been attacking us. And from the other side, how dare one person talk about somebody else‘s kid, leave aside the question of lesbianism.
So it‘s emotional. That‘s number one. Number two, I think the Bush campaign would love to keep this thing going. They would rather talk about this on cable television than Falluja or the stock market. These are the last two, 2 ½ weeks, Keith. These are the nasty times, the desperate hours. People are going to make all kinds of personal charges back and forth of bad faith one way or the other.
OLBERMANN: On everything. In this one, is there not also a measure of hypocrisy that the Cheneys can bring this up on the campaign tour if it‘s useful and Dick Cheney will graciously accept a gracious compliment from John Edwards on the matter in a debate, but if John Kerry brings it up then the same topic becomes a tawdry political trick, in Lynne Cheney‘s words.
FINEMAN: I think there is some hypocrisy. You‘re right. Dick Cheney brought it up in August in Davenport, Iowa when it was convenient for his to mention because he was trying to buttress the notion that he was a sensitive guy on this topic so he did bring it up.
I think the problem here for John Kerry the other night was twofold. One was of tone. It just—it was not the friendly, compassionate kind of mention that John Edwards managed to bring off in the vice presidential debate. And Kerry looked and sounded a little like he was riffling through his mental index for things to say about issues concerning gays and lesbians.
The question had to do with whether gays are gay by choice or because of nature. And he wasn‘t really responding to the question.
And I think even some Democrats privately, even some Kerry advisers, privately, and some gay and lesbian activists privately, told me that they thought Kerry would have been better off not mentioning Mary Cheney‘s name. He could have made the same point without it. So he gave an opening for the Republicans to wax indignant and they‘ve been doing it for the last 36 hours.
OLBERMANN: So this was less a question of actual political tawdriness than it might have been political not so smartness?
FINEMAN: I think it was tone. And I think it was—he could have made the point he wanted to make about compassion without mentioning her. And I know a lot of people in the press room and elsewhere say yes, it‘s a legitimate topic, Mary Cheney‘s sex life—orientation is well known. But leave sex out of it. You don‘t talk about somebody else‘s kid.
Edwards got away with it, Kerry didn‘t. Is it going to define the race? Absolutely not. Are we going to talk about it on Monday. I doubt it. But it gave the Bush-Cheney people a news cycle or two to put Kerry on the offensive and they succeeded.
OLBERMANN: So, we‘ll leave the sex coverage over the next 18 days to the Bill O‘Reilly story.
FINEMAN: I know you have that COUNTDOWN clock.
OLBERMANN: Yes, we do. Howard Fineman of “Newsweek,” NBC, MSNBC, MSNBC.com. He‘s everywhere. Thank you Howard, have a good weekend.
FINEMAN: OK. Take care.
OLBERMANN: A veritable chase-a-palooza also awaits us. All of us who need a break from the serious news of this day. That can only mean one thing, an “Oddball” in a truck.
And can you ask a judge to let you fire an employee accusing you of sexual harassment? You damn right you can! Just one of the headlines in our COUNTDOWN to O‘Reillygate day 3.
OLBERMANN: We‘re back. And we now pause the COUNTDOWN for the one segment of the night where we admit there‘s no news value to the stories. Let‘s play “Oddball.”
And we begin with the COUNTDOWN car chase of the week. And oh, baby, it‘s the Sugarland Express. The 1974 film had Goldie Hawn in a hijacked car, this real life version had an 18-wheeler actually rolling through Sugarland, Texas. I don‘t know what he‘s hauling, but hauling all right.
Checking the “Oddball” score for the year, it‘s cops 52, guys who think they can escape the cops nothing. But this is “Oddball‘s” first big rig chase, and this guy had a few advantages, such as traffic control. Out of my way. Spiked strips didn‘t stop him. No one is crazy enough to try a roadblock, not serious anyway. So, when the traffic got a little heavy, well, you can see what happens.
Luckily nobody was seriously injured. The chase went on for several miles more, but much like the end of King Kong, with a bad front wheel and a 100 bullets pumped into the radiator, they finally took the big fella down. It‘s 10-4, good buddy for this wide load menace on the road. Be sure to tell them Large Marge sent you to the big house.
Sorry we don‘t have a cow chase scoreboard for you tonight. But if we did, it would be cops 1, heifers none. No one knows where this runaway cow came from, only that he was really hard to wrangle—she, she was really hard to wrangle. The 300-pounder led cops on a three-city chase over a highway, across a river. But how now black cow.
She was finally caught up and tackled the beast, who was uninjured. But we wish we could say the same for the officer doubled over in the back there. Don‘t have a cow, man, not there anyway. Ow, ow in cow.
Finally, to Bowlinawatisar (ph), India, home of the country‘s youngest parasailor. 4 year-old Bijwa-ji Boullion (ph) doesn‘t need no stinking speed boat either, his father just hooks him up to the back of the car and whee!. Boullion (ph)! Hey, I can see my (UNINTELLIGIBLE) from here!
The youngster says parasailing is just the beginning for him. When he grows up, he wants to get into extreme sports and be a doctor. Aw, good, son, then you can treat your own broken legs.
Bill O‘Reilly versus his producer. Amid insistence he‘ll keep his TV show, radio show, his newspaper column, a radio executive says, uh, Bill, not so fast on that, his radio show, stuff.
Disaster on the TV show, “The Apprentice.” The men chase models, the women win the chase, those stories ahead.
Now though, here are COUNTDOWN‘S Top 3 Newsmakers of this Day. No. 3, Russell Chmieleski of Towanda, Pennsylvania, his high school officials refused to allow him to participate in graduation ceremonies in June. He didn‘t meet the requirements, but he showed up anyway, naked. He streaked the thing. Today, sentenced to 6 months in the country jail.
See, if he had done this 30 years ago, he could have been elected to Congress.
No. 2 Kudzai Kwenda of Watertown, Massachusetts. He called police in that town Wednesday asking for help. Seems he accidentally handcuffed himself and could not get free. On the way to his house, police realized there was an outstanding warrant for Kwenda‘s arrest for failure to appear, so he didn‘t get out of those cuffs until much, much later down in the police station.
And No. 1, Teresa Heinz Kerry in a campaign speech today in Reno, Nevada, she touted her husband‘s proposed healthcare plan. In the Q and A afterwards, she offered her own special remedy for arthritis. Quote, “you get some gin and you get white raisins, and only white raisins, and you soak them in the gin for two weeks. Then she said, you eat nine of the raisins a day. Now available without a prescription.
OLBERMANN: Bill O‘Reilly may have hoped to close down the emerging three-ring circus surrounding his sexual harassment lawsuit. Instead, it looks like the elephants are parading through the center of town towards the big top.
Our third story on the COUNTDOWN, O‘Reilly today asks the courts to let him fire his accuser, asked the courts to force the accuser to fire her attorney, refuses to deny he had sexual conversations with her and saw the first crack in support from his radio affiliates.
That‘s right. It‘s your entertainment dollars in action, day three of the Bill O‘Reilly investigations. The radio story first. “The Boston Globe” quoting the general manager of the station in that city that carries O‘Reilly‘s program, who says that while there are no current plans to drop or suspend the show, -- quote—“If we see that it‘s going to impact his impact on our radio station, we would certainly make some changes.”
As to the no-denial denial, O‘Reilly‘s attorney, Ronald Green, says he can‘t and won‘t deny that there may have been sexual references in conversations between O‘Reilly and the associate producer who sued him, Andrea Mackris. And her attorney and O‘Reilly exchanged phraseology that lent a whole new subtext to this story.
Benedict Morelli told “The Washington Post” that O‘Reilly is—quote
· “not going to get away with it. He‘s going down.” Separately, O‘Reilly said, “If I have to go down, I‘m willing to do it.” Maybe you boys could come up with a synonym for that.
O‘Reilly meanwhile is trying to make sure that Andrea Mackris goes from being his X-rated associate producer to his ex-associate producer and that she has got to get a new attorney as well. O‘Reilly‘s attorney, Mr. Green, has asked the state Supreme Court in Nassau County, Long Island, to let him fire Mackris to—quote—“declare that terminating her employment would not be considered an unlawful act of retaliation.”
Ms. Mackris has told friends she‘s already left the network, but the O‘Reilly networks went further, asking the court to force Mackris‘ attorney, mr. Morelli, to recuse himself as her lawyer because he‘s also a defendant in O‘Reilly‘s preemptive suit, the argument being, you can‘t be a defendant and an attorney in the same case, which sounds like a new one.
We have a uniquely qualified guest tonight. Wendy Murphy is a former prosecutor, a victims rights advocate, a teacher at the New England School of Law, and she has been on the Bill O‘Reilly program and of course ours.
Wendy, welcome back from the dark side.
WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Good to see you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Tell me about the two legal maneuvers first, getting court permission to fire Andrea Mackris and trying to force Mr. Morelli off the case because he‘s also a defendant.
MURPHY: Both very clever, but neither is going anywhere. You can‘t fire a person‘s lawyer because you decided to sue them right before they sued you.
If you could do that, just think about how easy it would be to prevent anybody from being represented by their counsel of choice. That‘s going nowhere. It‘s an interesting strategy. It‘s certainly distracting, but it‘s going nowhere. And, likewise, getting permission from a judge to get a declaration that it‘s OK to fire her is really putting the cart before the horse.
It‘s an interesting question, and, certainly, if they did fire her, it would raise an important legal issue, was that retaliation for her bringing the lawsuit. But, again, you can‘t resolve that until it‘s a valid legal dispute. So, if they want to fire her, they‘re going to have to face the legal music and then a judge can rule.
OLBERMANN: A little harassment law here. If this ever goes to court, and until then, while it‘s in the court of public opinion, presumably, the best defense for O‘Reilly and Fox would be, this woman left their employ, she worked somewhere else for six months, then she came back to their employ.
I assume her explanation would be, I left because the environment was threatening. I came back after an agreement was reached on terms under which I would be treated and those terms were then violated.
MURPHY: Yes, I think that is probably the only defense. And it really does undermine her credibility.
Look, I‘ve never even heard of a case—and I‘ve handled many of these kinds of cases—I have never heard of a case where a woman left and then came back, because usually if you have the wherewithal to leave, it‘s because it was such harassing conduct, so unpleasant, so affected your workspace, you were glad to be gone.
On the other hand, if she really liked working there and he promised her he would stop and she went back and was really pleased to be there and believed he would stop, and he didn‘t, that‘s not an invalid sexual harassment claim. But it does—Keith, it does undermine her credibility.
Now, I don‘t want to steal too much from Mark Geragos in the Scott Peterson case. But you know what he has always been saying since day one. There‘s no playbook on how you‘re supposed to act when your wife goes missing. Well, there‘s no real playbook on how you‘re supposed to act when your boss is calling you up talking sexy to you either. But a jury will sit in judgment. And they will consider that against her credibility.
OLBERMANN: Rhetorically, of course, in some respects, all woman who are harassed in the workplace essentially do come back, the ones who don‘t leave a company. So you could point that out, too. But we‘ll see how that turns out, as you point out.
Lastly here, summoning all of your various experiences, are you surprised at this figure that has been attached to the case, the $60 million that O‘Reilly claims Andrea Mackris demanded? I used to work at one of the sexual harassment capitals of broadcasting. And for $60 million in damages, a woman would have had to have been harassed by 300 different employees.
MURPHY: Keith, I‘m pretty sure you would have had to have lost all your limbs and then some to get $60 million. No, that‘s a grotesque sum of money.
And I‘m not convinced it‘s true, that she did demand that, although her lawyer hasn‘t denied it. And that worries me. Look, best day, this case is worth $100,000. So, if she did go through what she went through, it‘s terrible. It‘s wrong. It‘s actionable. She had a right to bring a lawsuit. But if she demanded $1 million, let alone $60 million, that‘s extortion. And that‘s probably even worse.
And there‘s no question it will undermine the credibility of her case, even if she‘s got tapes, even if the jury ultimately believes her. It really hurts her credibility.
OLBERMANN: This is also rhetorical, Wendy, this time mostly because I‘m out of time. But maybe, since O‘Reilly‘s show is supposed to be worth $60 million, coincidentally, to Fox, maybe that‘s where that figure came from. Settle with us for whatever this figure is or we‘ll kill your show and the $60 million goose that laid the golden egg. Maybe it‘s that.
MURPHY: Maybe it‘s that, Keith.
OLBERMANN: We‘ll see.
Anyway, Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor and victims rights advocate, always a pleasure. Thanks for coming back on the show.
MURPHY: Thanks a lot.
OLBERMANN: Bill O‘Reilly of course had been warned not to talk at all, so he told “The New York Daily News” that and then went right on to the Regis and Kelly show and brought it up again on his program last night.
O‘Reilly can‘t seem to avoid supply supporting evidence against
himself. He kicked off an interview with Ann Coulter last night by
describing the jacket her new book, one which depicts her in front of a
blackboard, reminiscent of some terror you have in your seventh grade
memories, O‘Reilly saying; “I‘ve never had a teacher like that, but what
are you going to do?” And things sort of devolved from
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR”)
BILL O‘REILLY, HOST: When you go out to—are you on a book tour now? Is that what you‘re doing? You‘re running around the country and all of that?
ANN COULTER, AUTHOR: Yes, a little bit.
O‘REILLY: All right. Do you frighten men? I mean, do you intimidate men?
COULTER: I‘m a pussy cat.
O‘REILLY: No, really. Come on. Answer my question.
COULTER: I am a pussy cat.
O‘REILLY: You go strutting in there in your little skirt, and you‘re, you know, I‘m going to get these people, and—do they go whoa, whoa?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Whoa, whoa, indeed.
Fox‘s co-owned print vehicle, “The New York Post,” went after O‘Reilly on Thursday almost as stridently as any other newspaper did. Today, “The Post” dug out a little dirt up from under the feet of the accuser.
It reports that Andrea Mackris was involved last Friday evening in what one witness described as—quote—“women‘s wrestling hour.” A hotel bar patron reportedly asked Mackris if she could take the unused chairs from the table at which Mackris sat, claimed Mackris became abusive and finally declared: “Do you know who I am? I work at the O‘Reilly report.” Of course, that‘s not the name of that show.
Mackris‘s attorney says the incident did occur, but it was the other way around. The other woman, Bethany Frankel (ph), who became abusive after Mackris suggested that she should wait for the maitre d‘ to provide the extra chairs and that the bar‘s management wound up apologizing to Mackris.
Apologies for the plug. I mentioned Boake Carter last night, a famous 1930s newscaster now completely forgotten, a cautionary tale perhaps for Bill O‘Reilly. I have written up Carter‘s amazing story, which basically does not exist on anywhere else on the Internet, one our new blog, Bloggermann at COUNTDOWN.MSNBC.com. Enjoy.
Last night, the men did not enjoy themselves on “The Apprentice.” They had to play color forms. COUNTDOWN regulars Nick Warnock and Amy Henry with post-“Apprentice” analysis. And it‘s Friday. There‘s no debate. I didn‘t get the day off. So it‘s time for the weekly news quiz, also known as the Spanish Inquisition.
Now, though, here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three sound bites of this day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “CROSSFIRE”)
JON STEWART, HOST, “THE DAILY SHOW”: How old are you?
TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Thirty-five.
STEWART: And you wear a bow tie.
CARLSON: Yes, I do. I do.
STEWART: When you have people on for just knee-jerk, reactionary talk...
CARLSON: Wait. I thought you were going to be funny. Come on. Be funny.
STEWART: No. No. I‘m not going to be your monkey.
PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Go ahead. Go ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael Moore.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Total ass, slime ball, and outrageous with his lies about my family.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O‘BRIEN”)
CONAN O‘BRIEN, HOST: Hello?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Conan, this is Bill O‘Reilly from “The O‘Reilly Factor.” Look, I‘m calling to ask you not to do any more jokes about the sexual harassment lawsuit I‘m involved in. It‘s a whole lot of nothing.
O‘BRIEN: OK, sure, yes, no problem, Bill.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks, pal. I owe you one. I would love to make it up to you and take you out to dinner or something.
O‘BRIEN: Oh, that‘s totally unnecessary, Bill.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With don‘t have to call it a date or anything, just get a few drinks, stop at a Day‘s Inn, see what happens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Continuing signs of the end of television as we know it, last night‘s “Apprentice” and tonight‘s edition of “What Have We Learned?” And what has England‘s Prince Harry learned of his teacher accusing him of cheating on his art exam?
Those stories next here on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Some television shows go for surprises. Some go for suspense and some are light the last road trip of the baseball season in which the veterans make the rookie players dress up in women‘s clothes. No surprises, no suspense, lots of cross-dressing.
Our No. 2 story on the COUNTDOWN, our regular Friday night quarterbacks, Amy Henry and Nick Warnock, assess the episode of “The Apprentice.”
First, the details. Donald Trump asked both teams to design and sell women‘s clothes, which made it a pretty safe bet which gender would end up in the boardroom.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “”THE APPRENTICE”)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: High heels are in right now, correct?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have they ever been out?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Somewhat of a comedy stunt here. All of the men are clearly out of their element. They have no idea what they‘re doing.
DONALD TRUMP, DEVELOPER/BUSINESSMAN: This was a big thrashing. This was a big beating. I think the men priced incorrectly. You priced very high.
John, you‘re fired.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: As promised, I‘m joined by season one survivors Amy Henry and Nick Warnock.
Amy, good evening to you.
AMY HENRY, FORMER “APPRENTICE” CONTESTANT: Good evening.
OLBERMANN: And, Nick, good evening to you.
NICK WARNOCK, FORMER CONTESTANT, “THE APPRENTICE”: Good evening.
OLBERMANN: Well, Nick, I‘ll start with you.
Kind of one-sided here. What‘s next week, the women get to market wood chippers or men‘s deodorant or something?
WARNOCK: No, not at all. Keith, I thought it was great.
These guys know what looks good on women. And they went for it. They just chose a bad designer. She had nothing good to say. She was miserable, and I was disappointed in the choice, but they‘ll make it up next week.
OLBERMANN: Amy, the firee last night was John. Even he agreed he was a good worker. Was that just bad luck? Wouldn‘t whoever had been the team leader on this loser‘s side been fired over this task?
HENRY: I don‘t think so.
You know, I think in the end, John should have just fessed up and said, hey, you know what? I was a fish out of water but I‘ve been a strong leader. I think he was looking for this team consensus and ultimately I don‘t think he defended himself well in the boardroom. I think Mr. Trump made the right decision.
OLBERMANN: Nick, the men were at a bit of a disadvantage here because of the models, I think. And, in particular, your favorite guy, Raj, made a bit of a spectacle out of himself. He was annoying the designer, drooling around the models, flirting with the models. Trump called him a hound dog. But is he marked for death next week or what?
WARNOCK: Well, it was interesting, Keith. I felt like I was in the no-spin zone watching Raj last night the way he was maneuvering with those models.
OLBERMANN: Oh, boy.
WARNOCK: But, no, he was great. And I would have been distracted as well. And he was a lots of fun to watch, like always. And I think he‘s going to win this entire contest.
OLBERMANN: Next week, of course, the teams get shaken up. You go from men vs. women to coed teams.
Amy, who is not going to play well with others? In other words, who is the next one to be offed?
HENRY: Well, as much as I like Elizabeth, I think that her days are limited. But if we‘re looking for the weakest link on the entire team, I‘m going to have to go with Stacy. I‘m hoping next week is her last week.
OLBERMANN: I think “The Weakest Link” was another show.
But continuing on “The Apprentice.”
And, Nick, you‘ve got about 30 seconds. Who gets fired next week?
WARNOCK: Yes, I see Stacy going as well next week. She‘s a week candidate. They‘re going to reshuffle the teams. That‘s what I‘m hearing. So it‘s going to be interesting to see the dynamic on how the new teams come together. But I see Stacy going next week. And it‘s odd, because I‘m agreeing with Amy 100 percent.
OLBERMANN: It is.
HENRY: It is very odd.
OLBERMANN: Well, we‘ll see if you‘re both right or you‘re both wrong next week.
Amy Henry and Nick Warnock, as always, thanks for joining us And we‘ll see you next time.
HENRY: Have a great weekend.
OLBERMANN: You, too.
So a comparatively easy segue tonight from one celebrity reality show to another in “Keeping Tabs.”
And looking for love with a middle-aged ex-model? Then VH-1 has the show for you with a special twist surprise. It‘s called “Kept,” as in 15 young eligible bachelors kept by this woman, 48-year-old ex-Mrs. Mick Jagger Jerry Hall. The lucky winner will be getting a six-figure yearlong allowance and possibly an unwanted bonus. London tabloids reporting tonight that Jerry had just canceled her one-woman show in Britain because she has mononucleosis. Come on, Jerry. We haven‘t recorded in mono since 1965.
Jerry Hall‘s health was relegated to the inside pages in the British rags today because of an even bigger scandal. Prince Harry stands accused of cheating on his exam. One of his former art teacher says she helped him with a substantial portion of his written high school art test and she claims to have taped him admitting it. The royal family, in damage control tonight, asked reporters to listen to that tape. Most claim the tape is inaudible. Incidentally, Prince Harry still only got a B grade in that subject. Apparently, he drew the pirate well enough, but not outstandingly so.
And finally in “Tabs” tonight, the moment of shameless self-promotion. This Monday night, yours truly will be a guest on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.” Check your local NBC station and listings for times, proving they have run out of guests!
Consider this the opposite of self-promotion. I will take our weekly quiz, “What Have We Learned?” It has something to do with that object right there, at least one of the questions does. That‘s just my guess. Otherwise, they wouldn‘t show the tape. We‘ll find out in a moment.
By the way, I think I have learned now to ask for all Fridays off.
OLBERMANN: Well, the debates, days off, and I guess clean living have spared me the last few weeks. But that‘s over now. On Friday, there is no No. 1 story on the COUNTDOWN, just that trivia pig-sticking of your genial and long-suffering host, your news questions, my news humiliation that we call:
ANNOUNCER: “What Have We Learned?”
OLBERMANN: And once again, I mistakenly cede control over your television set and my embarrassment to the lovely and talented emcee of “What Have We Learned?”, Monica Novotny.
MONICA NOVOTNY, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Hello. The last time I was here with you, I believe you lost.
OLBERMANN: I don‘t have any recollection of that whatsoever.
NOVOTNY: I remember it fondly.
OLBERMANN: All right, so I lost once. Give me a break.
NOVOTNY: We begin, as always, by reminding viewers if you‘d like to take the official news quiz, go to our Web site at COUNTDOWN.MSNBC.com. And while you‘re there, sign up for the always entertaining COUNTDOWN newsletter or e-mail the show with questions for next week‘s quiz.
We‘ll put two minutes on the clock. The Bloggermann must answer at least half correctly to earn his reward. Otherwise, an unfortunate penalty will be applied.
Are you ready, sir?
OLBERMANN: I‘d like to apologize for being snippy with you.
NOVOTNY: Yes. Sucking up for it now is not going to
OLBERMANN: No, I would just like to apologize for being snippy with you this time.
OK, No. 1.
OLBERMANN: All right, let‘s go.
NOVOTNY: Two minutes on the clock. Here we go.
In the “Family Circle” magazine recipe contest, Laura Bush‘s chocolate chunk cookies got nearly twice the votes as what recipe from Teresa Heinz Kerry?
OLBERMANN: Pumpkin cookies. Pumpkin
NOVOTNY: We‘ll give you that. Pumpkin spice cookies.
No. 1-A, speaking of recipes, ground spice chick pees shaped into balls, fried and then put into a sandwich give you what?
NOVOTNY: No. A falafel. Sorry about that.
OLBERMANN: I thought that was a loofah.
NOVOTNY: No. 2, what congressman is shown naked in pictures from a 1974 streaking incident?
OLBERMANN: Pete Sessions of Texas.
NOVOTNY: That‘s right.
Elvis Presley and John Belushi, sort of, were arrested this week after a bizarre drunken incident in which Minnesota town?
OLBERMANN: We had something from Aurora.
NOVOTNY: Not that.
OLBERMANN: Not that, though.
NOVOTNY: To celebrate his 29th year at pope, what company is designing a John Paul II‘s special edition Pope mobile?
OLBERMANN: Plus or minus- 500 on this one. We know how you love math. In the city of Toledo, Ohio...
OLBERMANN: Toledo, Ohio.
NOVOTNY: ... how many political ads ran from the March of this year through the end of September, plus or minus 500?
OLBERMANN: Fourteen thousand, three hundred.
NOVOTNY: There you go, 723.
OLBERMANN: I was with 500, right?
NOVOTNY: True or false, in order to pedal across country on a penny-farthing bicycle.
OLBERMANN: Penny-farthing bicycle.
NOVOTNY: One must first grease the chain.
OLBERMANN: No, there is no chain on a penny-farthing bicycle, despite what we said the other day.
OLBERMANN: What was the grand prize of the World Monopoly Championships, give or take $200.
OLBERMANN: It was—oh, oh -- 14.5. It was 13.5.
NOVOTNY: Fifteen thousand
NOVOTNY: You were wrong.
OLBERMANN: I was wrong.
NOVOTNY: What was the hot air balloon in New Mexico that crashed into the radio tower shaped like before it deflated?
OLBERMANN: Smokey the Bear. Smokey the Bear
Oh, my, it‘s going to be a miserable week.
OLBERMANN: Yes, it is.
NOVOTNY: Matthew Hotard and Kristine Nissel were arrested this week in Texas for what offense?
OLBERMANN: Having sex in the Alamo.
OLBERMANN: Without Bill O‘Reilly.
NOVOTNY: Who won a Screen Actor‘s Guild Award for his role in the 1998 remake of Alfred Hitchcock‘s “Rear Window”?
OLBERMANN: Christopher Reeve.
NOVOTNY: Yes, indeed. And what is the problem with the latest Wal-Mart in Hawaii?
We‘re out of time.
OLBERMANN: We‘re out of time. Well, it‘s built on burial grounds.
NOVOTNY: Yes. You‘re showing off now.
OLBERMANN: Yes, I am. I got eight right, I think.
NOVOTNY: I believe you won. I will double-check. Yes.
OLBERMANN: So what do I win?
NOVOTNY: Why don‘t we let Don Pardo tell us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations, Keith. As “What Have We Learned?” champion, we‘ll be sending you and Monica to sunny Los Angeles, California, where you will be a guest on the world famous “Tonight Show” with Jay Leno.
OLBERMANN: Yes. Yes.
PARDO: But that‘s not all. We‘ll also send you to sunny Las Vegas,
Nevada, sunny Detroit, Michigan
OLBERMANN: All right, enough.
OLBERMANN: We‘re already doing this. We‘re already doing this. We‘re going to take the show on the road next week. You‘re going, too, aren‘t you?
NOVOTNY: I believe I am.
OLBERMANN: Sucker. I‘m delighted to say that we don‘t have to do this for at least another week.
Thank you, Monica.
Thank you, viewers, with questions.
Thank you, mysterious pre-recorded voice who reminds us to tune in next week when we play:
ANNOUNCER: “What Have We Learned?”
OLBERMANN: I crumpled too fast.
That‘s COUNTDOWN. Thanks for being part of it. I‘m Keith Olbermann.
Good night. You don‘t how many times I‘ve heard that phrase used again me.
And good luck.
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