Guest: Harvey Levin, Nick Warnock, Amy Henry
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? Not lions and tigers, but wolves and eagles and ostriches, oh, my. The campaign ads taking on a decidedly zoological quality, while the campaign itself looks like Bush by a little but Kerry by a little more in the swing states.
A Democratic October surprise? Would a Kerry presidency beget Bill Clinton, secretary general of the U.N.?
Suing for peace. Andrea Mackris reportedly talking deal with Bill O‘Reilly, but at the cost of destroying the tapes? No, no, a thousand times no.
And to boldly go where no man has gone before. Captain Kirk wants to be beamed up, not by Scottie, but by Richard Branson‘s private flights 70 miles up. Deep in space!
All that and more now on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: OK, steady. Good evening. This is Friday, October 22. 11 days until the 2004 presidential election. If you are more than 30 years old and it looks familiar, it should. In 1984 in one of the most famous political commercials ever, Ronald Reagan‘s campaign showed us a bear moving around menacingly in the woods and the announcer suggested that only Reagan and not Walter Mondale could tame him. The bear was the Soviet Union. Turned out it was a very sick bear, but it was a very effective late Cold War era commercial spokesbear.
Today comes a new Republican ad showing us not bears but wolves moving around menacingly in the woods, terrorists, and the announcer suggesting that only George Bush and not John Kerry could tame them.
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, deja vu all over again. Yes, that, too. And the ad in a moment. But the sense of living through something again begins where it always begins, at the polls.
An early release of next week‘s numbers from “TIME” magazine. Mr. Bush up by six among its likely voters, past the majority mark at 51 percent last week. “TIME” had it Bush 48 percent, Kerry 47 percent. The most reliable from 2000, Zogby for Reuters. Mr. Bush picking up another point today, 47-45. John Zogby himself noting though that for both candidates the ceiling on his poll has been 48 points. Not enough. Zogby also notes the candidates tied in key groups, Independents, Catholics, women, and most interestingly, perhaps, military families.
“Washington Post” at Sunset poll, the president up by four. Yesterday he was up by six. The Tipp poll. TechnoMetrica Institute of Policy and Politics. It‘s a tracking poll. It‘s Bush 47, Kerry 46. Yesterday it was Bush 48, Kerry 45. The day before that it was Bush 47, Kerry 46, just as it is today.
We are seeing more and more battleground numbers in Ohio, 48-47 Kerry. According to “USA Today,” say it with me now. No Republican has ever won the White House without Ohio. Also no team has ever come back from three games to none.
Overall battleground picture in the disputed 13 states. As you see the Marist College poll with a widening lead now in the battleground states for Mr. Kerry, 51-43.
So a week and a half out and the wolves are at the door. Whose door?
Whose wolves? That‘s still up for debate. But here come the animals.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AD ANNOUNCER: In an increasingly dangerous world, even after the first terrorist attack on America, John Kerry and the liberals in Congress voted to slash America‘s intelligence operations by $6 billion. Cuts so deep they would have weakened America‘s defenses, and weakness attracts those who are waiting to do America harm.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I‘m George W. Bush and I approve this message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Which came out today. Does it ring a distant bell? Well, flash back two decades, another time, another enemy. Pretty much the same commercial, that which is fondly known to political afficionados as the spot about whether or not a bear flits in the woods.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AD ANNOUNCER: There is a bear in the woods. For some people the bear is easy to see. Others don‘t see it at all. Some people say the bear is tame. Others say it‘s vicious and dangerous. Since no one can really be sure who‘s right, isn‘t it smart to be as strong as the bear? If there is a bear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Countering with its own zoological imagery, the Democratic National Committee this afternoon released its own hounds, not literal hounds, not more wolves either, and said we get a soaring eagle and an ostrich with its head in the sand. Guess which side is the ostrich.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AD ANNOUNCER: An eagle soars high above the earth. The ostrich buries its head in the sand. The eagle can see everything from miles around. The ostrich can‘t see at all. The eagle knows when it‘s time to change course. The ostrich stands in one place. Given the choice in these challenging times, shouldn‘t we be the eagle again?
The Democratic National Committee is responsible for the contents of this advertisement.
OLBERMANN: That ad not hitting the airwaves until next week. By then it might be too late. Perhaps that is why we also heard today from the Edwards half of the Kerry/Edwards campaign. Senator Edwards showing no fear in the face of the president‘s message.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And they have stooped so low now that they are using a pack of wolves running around a forest trying to scare you and trying to scare the American people. This president is continuing to try to scare America in his speeches and ads in a despicable and contemptible way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: So his eagles versus the other guy‘s wolves. With Halloween still nine days away, neither candidate dressed up as his favorite animal today. But they did act all scary on the campaign trail. Fear and voting the theme today in Pennsylvania, where the president has now officially passed the Crawford, Texas level. This morning‘s stop in Wilkes-Barre was Mr. Bush‘s 41st visit to the Keystone State since he took office. Visits to his own home in Texas numbering only 40. This is explained by the binomial theorem of campaign math, 21 electoral college votes up for grabs in Pennsylvania. The president dumbing down the calculus in his newly revamped stump speech today taking all possible issues in this campaign and lumping them into one convenient massive terror umbrella.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: All progress on every other issue depends on the safety of our citizens. The outcome of this election will set the direction of the war against terror and in this war there is no place for confusion and no substitute for victory.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: By comparison, life with the Democratic challenger today was warm and fuzzy, John Kerry hitting two swing states to the president‘s three. His goal, improving his standing among female voters, hoping that they can tip the ballots in this razor-close election. On hand to provide ballast in Milwaukee, Caroline Kennedy, daughter of that other J.F.K. from Massachusetts, the former president. Senator Kerry accusing the Bush administration of turning its back on working women.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today for far too many women, the American dream seems a million miles away, because you‘ve barely got time to sleep, and when you‘ve barely got time to sleep, you‘ve barely got time to dream. George Bush likes to talk about how being president is hard work. Well, Mr. President, I‘m very happy to relieve you of the hard work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: If a descendant of Woodrow Wilson turns up at a Kerry event soon, don‘t be surprised. Caroline Kennedy hardly the only prominent Democrat lending a hand in the final days of the campaigning. One of the assignments might seem a little bizarre, Al Gore speaking in Florida. The former vice president who either lost or won the state four years ago depending on which version of history you prefer is expected to begin appearances for the Kerry-Edwards ticket tomorrow in Broward County, particularly to African-American groups who, of course, have two sets of reasons to still be inflamed over the events in the Sunshine State in 2000.
But wait there‘s more. Senator Hillary Clinton also doing Florida tomorrow in West Palm, Fort Lauderdale and Coconut Grove. And tomorrow night it is Rosie O‘Donnell in Boynton Beach.
That is not quite as problematical as the endorsement of Mr. Bush by the defense chief of Iran. But Jesse Ventura today endorsed John Kerry and wouldn‘t tell anybody why. The former Minnesota governor, former Maine governor Angus King did all the talking at the news conference at the Capitol in St. Paul today. King saying he and Ventura who is wearing that beard were both endorsing Kerry, but that Ventura would not go into any details. Ventura, the Associated Press reporter covering the bizarre event wrote, stood next to King, but defiantly refused to utter a word during the 30-minute news conference. Reminds me of the format of Jesse‘s show here on NBC.
With 11 days left we can say without fear of contradiction that it all boils down to the battleground states. Of course, we could have said that in March. To assess how both campaigns are refining their sprint to the finish line, I‘m joined by “Newsweek‘s” chief political correspondent and MSNBC news analyst, Howard Fineman. Good evening.
HOWARD FINEMAN, “NEWSWEEK”: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: So the animals are all on display here. But where geographically is the big top being set up for the circus?
FINEMAN: Well, I‘m told that late next week George Bush is going to make eight stops in Ohio, but interesting thing is he‘s not going there very much earlier in the week. He‘s out prospecting or defending in Colorado. He‘s going to be in Wisconsin and Iowa, in Michigan and Pennsylvania. Not Florida. And only one stop in Ohio earlier in the week.
So I think the Bush strategy is to still go out and look at those blue states and see if they can‘t break through in some of those blue states in the chance that they don‘t win Ohio. And I just spent a couple of days in Ohio, and I can tell you it is very close there right now.
OLBERMANN: Did we see John Kerry just switch strategy again today? Is he going all warm and fuzzy and going for the women voters, thinking that that is going to put him over the top, while Mr. Bush goes harder and harder on the terrorism front?
FINEMAN: Right, exactly. Bush is stressing terrorism. He‘s giving a big speech about that again early next week. They‘ve got the wolves out, as you say.
And John Kerry‘s strategists seem to feel that they can win this election only by bringing people across, especially women voters who have doubts about George Bush, but who haven‘t yet been sold on John Kerry.
So they‘re trying to present an upbeat message and a hopeful message and one that paints John Kerry as a caring person. That‘s why they had Dana Reeve, the widow of Christopher Reeve yesterday in Columbus where I was. They had him today with Caroline Kennedy. And, of course, they‘ve got the big empathizer of all time, Bill Clinton, who is going to be with John Kerry on Monday in Philadelphia.
OLBERMANN: Do you, as a big picture point, do you subscribe to the John Zogby-Lawrence O‘Donnell theory that the only numbers relevant in the remaining polls are the president‘s popularity and his poll number, because that‘s likely to be the number he tops off at at Election Day?
FINEMAN: Well, that‘s true by historical standards, that the president gets what his approval rating, job approval is, and what his reelect number is. And with George Bush, they‘ve barely—for months been above 48 percent.
But I think you throw all the history out in this election, Keith, because it‘s after 9/11, it‘s a sort of new kind of wartime. I‘m not sure everybody‘s being very honest with the pollsters at this point. I don‘t believe there‘s as many undecided voters that are claiming to be undecided.
That‘s the tradition. I‘m not sure it‘s true.
The key thing here are the millions and millions and millions of newly registered voters, whether they‘re going to show up or not, and nobody knows that.
OLBERMANN: Howard Fineman of “Newsweek” and NBC, and when we are fortunate enough, of COUNTDOWN. Many thanks, Howard.
FINEMAN: Sure, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Have a nice weekend.
FINEMAN: You too.
OLBERMANN: For some, this will be the last nice weekend, because as Howard mentioned, they, the Bill Clinton haters, know that the former president will emerge from his recuperation to start campaigning for Senator Kerry on Monday in Philadelphia.
But wait, there‘s more. Maybe. How about William Jefferson Clinton, secretary-general of the U.N.? United Press International, not affiliated with the United Nations, quotes a senior U.N. source who said a Clinton insider is also saying this. They both say that the 42nd president wants to succeed Kofi Annan when his term ends in 2006. He definitely wants to do it, the Clintonian supposedly says. Clinton could probably get himself elected by the third world, but could he get himself nominated by his own country? Well, no, if George Bush were president. Maybe if somebody else were, say, elected 11 days from now.
Is this plausible? Is it a campaign float? Could it get John Kerry half a dozen more votes somewhere? I‘m joined now by MSNBC political analyst and senior columnist for “Congressional Quarterly,” Craig Crawford. Craig, good evening.
CRAIG CRAWFORD, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: What would the wolves think of Bill Clinton in terms of the U.N.?
OLBERMANN: Let‘s start at the political end of the stick, though. Does the story, just being out there, do the Democrats any good in this campaign?
CRAWFORD: I think it probably does. It also excites those who hate Clinton. That‘s always a factor. But it is a fascinating prospect, the notion of an American, former American president heading the U.N. at a time when we‘ve learned as a nation how important it is to try to get the U.N. in our camp.
The thing that I‘ve heard, Keith, from a friend of Kerry‘s, who advises him on occasion, is that these discussions came up between Clinton and Kerry some weeks ago, when Mike McCurry and Joe Lockhart came on board, that it was all part of this discussion, and Clinton raised this interest that he has in this job. And the Kerry people, Democrats I‘ve talked to are very excited about the prospect.
OLBERMANN: Now, the personal element. Would the president really
want to be secretary-general of the U.N., and other than the fact that he -
· that probably he could use a job to keep himself busy and not—the wheel grinding against itself, what would he want this one for?
CRAWFORD: Well, I think Clinton would be uniquely qualified for this. He‘s very popular among third world nations who do not dominate the voting at the U.N.—of course, not in the Security Council. But the idea of Clinton there is, I would imagine, the only politician who may be able to pull it off, American politician. And it is an interesting discussion to have about our national security.
And as we‘ve seen, needing the U.N. in our foreign adventures, that it would be very helpful, perhaps, to have one of our own former presidents in charge of it.
OLBERMANN: And it is far to say that for decades, decades, it‘s not a recent event, although it may look that way to people who haven‘t been following it, the U.N. has been losing political ground in this country. To what degree do you think the fact that a prominent American, an ex-president running it, actually change the dynamic of the U.N.‘s relations to the United States?
CRAWFORD: If anyone could, I would think it would be Bill Clinton. Because that is something the internationalists, as they‘re called in Washington, do worry, that the American public doesn‘t see the importance of the U.N. and the importance of our role in it and supporting it, and that would someone like Clinton involved out there actually campaigning among Americans to get behind the U.N. would be very helpful.
Going to this actual election in 11 days, though, there are a lot of voters out there, Keith, who probably would rather be voting for Bill Clinton for president again. This is an interesting way for Kerry to argue they get that chance. By voting for Kerry, they vote for Clinton for the leader of the entire world.
OLBERMANN: I wonder if they‘ll actually make a statement that even sounds like that. It may be one of the most fascinating small questions of the next 11 days.
CRAWFORD: Yeah, they‘ll have to put that in the exit polls.
OLBERMANN: OK, please. Craig Crawford of MSNBC and “Congressional Quarterly.” As always, many thanks, sir.
CRAWFORD: You bet.
OLBERMANN: With the final push on to Election Day, John Kerry uses the L word. We‘re not talking liberal, we‘re not talking the other one. This L word is the one that‘s usually followed by “pants on fire.” And the W word, as in wrong. That‘s what one reporter says George Tenet called the war in Iraq. He‘s saying, no, the reporter heard it wrong. Stand by.
OLBERMANN: There are pants on fire somewhere tonight. Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN, you know you are close to an election when one side claims the other is lying and uses the word. And when after a prominent speech about Iraq, either the war or the reporter covering the speech is, quote, “wrong.”
The L word first. Earlier this week, we got (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of the article. John Kerry, shown campaigning tonight in Nevada, had told “Rolling Stone” about the colored threat alert level, that he says he would get rid of. His two favorite songs he mentioned as well, both by the Stones. His favorite album, though, is “Abby Road” by the Beatles.
But it was his response to the swift boat controversy that unleashed the reference to lying. He first told the magazine he was disappointed by the advertisements from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth organization. Then when asked if he got angry at George Bush personally after those ads, the senator said, quote, “Look, I know politics is tough and I don‘t spend a lot of time worrying about what they do to me. But I do worry and I am angry about what they do to the American people. That‘s what this race is about. It‘s not about me. I can take it. I don‘t care. I‘ve been in worse things. I was on those boats. I got shot at. I can handle it.
What I worry about is that they lied to America. What I worry about is that they tell the middle class we‘re giving you a tax cut, and the top 1 percent of America gets more than 80 percent of the rest of the people.”
And a war of words at Lake Michigan College. Either the former director of the CIA said there that the war in Iraq was wrong, or the local newspaper reporter covering his remarks heard wrong. Anna Clark of “The San Joseph Herald Palladium” quoted George Tenet as describing that war in Iraq as quote, “wrong,” and with later adding, it was, quote, “rightly being challenged.”
Tenet is strongly denying the report. He told friends that when he was asked if the war was wrong, he replied that if he had thought it was wrong, he would have walked into the Oval Office and said so. There is no videotape of his speech Tuesday, and no audio recording of it has yet surfaced.
Moving on to conversation that were recorded. No, we‘re not there yet.
Yet, there is new evidence of a close relationship enjoyed nearly 30 years ago, that between Henry Kissinger and the nation‘s news media. The State Department has released a collection of 3,200 phone calls between the then secretary of state and reporters across the country. Unbeknownst to them, the secretary was listening in and writing down every word. They kissed up to Kissinger, and he responded in kind.
In 1975, Marvin Kalb, then of CBS, told him, “The only reason for this call was to tell you that despite all appearances to the contrary, in this city you still have some friends.”
And a 1976 Ted Koppel said, “It has been an extraordinary three years for me. And I have enjoyed it immensely. You are an intriguing man, and if I had a teacher like you earlier, I might not have been so cynical.”
Schmoozing went both ways. Kissinger telling “Time” magazine‘s Hugh Sidey, “I‘m calling you because you‘re the man I trust most.” To muckraker Jack Anderson, quote, “I speak to you frankly because I know you are a decent man who uses whatever information he gets as fairly as you know how.”
And to “The Washington Post‘s” Sally Quinn: “I think it is suicidal to talk to you.” He then carried on a lengthy and flirty conversation with Sally Quinn.
Crazy times, not flirty ones. In a Barry Manilow concert—no, he did not bite the head off a jingle—but an escalator escalated this performance to the ranks of “Oddball.”
And then later, freefall, the Bill O‘Reilly case. Word on the street is that both sides are talking. Best be careful. Isn‘t talking what got us all in this mess in the first place?
OLBERMANN: We‘re back, and we pause the COUNTDOWN now for the segment named “the best on television” by the author of the Web site bloggerman.msnbc—oh, that‘s me. Let‘s play “Oddball.”
And we begin off the island of Kythnos in Greece, where either a fourth century bronze statue has gotten caught in the nets of some local fishermen, or you can call off that search for Jimmy Hoffa.
Actually, officials believe the statue came from one of the many shipwrecks at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea, and they‘re trying to figure out which ones, so they can go down and loot it for the rest of its ancient booty. The fishing boat captain says he was just dragging the vessel‘s nets for fish and must have hooked the priceless artifact from the ocean floor by accident. Something I‘m sure that has happened to all of us.
Scary moments after a Barry Manilow concert in Cleveland this week. A crowded escalator at the Gund Arena suddenly started to speed up, propelling fans to the floor at its bottom. Several people were injured, five were hospitalized. Maintenance workers immediately shut down the moving stairs until the cause of the incident could be determined. No jokes, please, about how this was just a result of the collective will of the people trying to get out of a Barry Manilow concert as quickly as possible.
And finally, could have been worse. Could have been leaving a cell phone symphony. 23-year-old Vaklavas Negeselskas (ph) of Lithuania has created the world‘s first orchestra comprised entirely of cell phones and their annoying ringers. He needs a lot of help. He set it up for the cameras at a local mobile phone store. Some call it Beethoven of the 21st century; others call it worse than sticking a hat pin in your ear. We will let you decide for yourself.
Actually, that must be what those Bill O‘Reilly tapes sound like. But will we ever know for sure? A settlement reported near, at a terrible cost. The whole thing might make it into our Friday news quiz, which would cause me to raise my falafel in salute. That‘s ahead.
Now, here are COUNTDOWN‘s “Top 3 Newsmakers” of this day.
No. 3: Donald Eugene Rugg of Somerset County in Pennsylvania. Police say there was a mouse in the house. He went hunting for it with a .22 caliber handgun, firing off a few rounds. The mouse escapes. He did, however, manage to wing his female housemate in the arm. She is in stable condition. No charges will be filed.
No. 2: Beverly Valentine. She‘s in jail in Georgia. Grand theft house. Police say the home owner was in Greece for a two-week vacation, returned home, found Valentine living in their house. She had moved out all their furniture, their clothing, their dishes and their carpets, replaced them with her own, brought in her own washer and dryer, and had the electricity bill switched over into her name. This is called extreme squatting.
And, No. 1, David Wroten of Edwardsville. Released from prison in September, given a check to cover the amount of cash he had on him when he went in, police say Wroten cashed that check, but then copied down the account numbers and managed to draw more funds from it and use those to pay for an online dating service. He is back now meeting lots of people with similar interests in the big house.
OLBERMANN: July 16, 1973, Senate Watergate minority counsel Fred Thompson, that Fred Thompson, asked former White House aide Alexander Butterfield if he knew of any listening or recording devices inside Richard Nixon‘s Oval Office.
Butterfield‘s answer not only led to the unraveling of the Nixon administration, but also led us to the historical gift that keeps on giving, the Nixon tapes, 31 years later, still being transcribed, still being made public. And now what could be the cultural equivalent of those tapes, something better even than the full archive of the crank phone calls from the Jerky Boys, is threatened.
Our third story on the COUNTDOWN, the prospect of peace, peace, in the Bill O‘Reilly case, but a peace that would come at the price of the destruction of historical artifacts, historical artifacts valued beyond mere money, the O‘Reilly-Mackris tapes. It‘s your entertainment dollars in action, day 10 of Bill O‘Reilly investigations and what might prove to be day last.
“The New York Daily News” reporting this morning that Andrea Mackris -
· quote—“may be ready to settle.” The syndicated TV show “Celebrity Justice” saying there are serious negotiations and a settlement could be achieved quickly. The creator of that program, Harvey Levin, joins me in a moment.
The newspaper‘s version is that Ben Morelli, the attorney for
O‘Reilly‘s ex-producer, the one with the sensitive ears, made a back-
channel overture to O‘Reilly‘s attorneys, using, of all people, the kind of
people who show up on shows like O‘Reilly‘s, pundits, Court TV anchor Lisa
Bloom, in particular, who was reportedly asked by Morelli to tell
O‘Reilly‘s private detective, Bo Dietl, on your right, that Ms. Mackris is
· quote—“willing to settle.”
The paper said a spokeswoman at Morelli‘s law firm said, “We always wanted to settle this in private.” It claims its primary sources, though, for the story are from the O‘Reilly side.
As promised, I am joined now by the creator, host and executive producer of “Celebrity Justice,” Harvey Levin.
Good to talk to you again, my friend.
HARVEY LEVIN, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, “CELEBRITY JUSTICE”: Hi, Keith.
You‘re on fire tonight.
OLBERMANN: Thank you kindly.
OLBERMANN: Well, and speaking of that, there‘s the Bill O‘Reilly story. Is a settlement imminent? Do you know the terms and who‘s pushing for a settlement?
LEVIN: Well, I think both sides are now pushing for the settlement. We know that they are in serious negotiations. We were told that it could have come as early as today. It doesn‘t look like that‘s going to happen. But I think this thing could be wrapped up real quick.
OLBERMANN: There was a $4 million figure thrown around at some point now? Are you reporting that as well?
LEVIN: We were told by someone connected with Mackris that Bill O‘Reilly had offered $4 million early, early on in the negotiation. We‘re also told that the O‘Reilly people will not comment on any terms of the settlement. But this is going to come at a high price.
In return, I‘m told that what will happen is that any tapes that do exist would be destroyed.
OLBERMANN: Oh, no, no. Is there nothing I can do on behalf of mankind to stop that, at least to preserve that one about the loofah and the falafel?
LEVIN: I‘ve got to tell you, Keith, seriously, her only leverage is these tapes. And if O‘Reilly presses in court and these tapes do get released, she loses her leverage. And she has problems with her case, because if she did scheme and secretly tape, it‘s going to be real hard to prove harassment.
So this is the only window of opportunity, I think, to settle this.
OLBERMANN: Oh, I guess. I‘ve got a real conflict with this, though.
What happened, do you suppose, to the O‘Reilly statement from four days ago: I just made a decision that I‘m just going to ride it out and I‘m going to fight them?
LEVIN: Well, you know, look, this happens in every lawsuit where people dig in. And from her side, you know, there were reports that she‘s having money trouble. That‘s what we were told.
On the other side, you know, they‘re pushing and pushing and pushing to have these tapes released. Ultimately, they need to know what‘s on them. But it‘s not going to help anybody. And it‘s not the first time a case like this has settled. And it would shock me, frankly, if it didn‘t.
OLBERMANN: The hearing that was postponed today regarding those tapes, was that connected in any way to the possibility of settlement?
LEVIN: Well, we know that Morelli, who is the lawyer for Mackris, asked for a postponement because he needed additional time. O‘Reilly could have pushed and said, look, I want this hearing today, but he agreed to extend it.
And it was almost like extending an olive branch. I think both sides just kind of realized, this is insanity. And I think, ultimately, they‘ve come together. And I think this is going to end pretty quickly, Keith.
OLBERMANN: So there‘s no chance, then, Harvey, that we can snatch conflict from the jaws of settlement?
LEVIN: Keith, you know, not everybody can be America‘s sexiest anchor.
OLBERMANN: Well, you got me on that one, my friend.
Harvey Levin of TV‘s “Celebrity Justice” just blew me out of the water with that one.
OLBERMANN: Nonetheless, always good to talk to you, sir. Take care.
LEVIN: It‘s good talking to you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: One element to this case has been the ceaseless barrage of bad publicity Mackris has gotten by the newspaper “The New York Post,” co-owned with Fox News by the Australian cartel News Corp. Latest evidence, an item this morning that suggested Mackris is, as Harvey mentioned, in money trouble, $99,000 in debt—quote—“thanks to credit card bills and student loans.”
It sounds relevant, sounds surprising, until you ask what is the average debt of the average 33-year-old employee in television who has already taken out student loans both for undergraduate and graduate college.
No amount of college, nor law school could have prevented lil‘ Stacy from the outcome that most of America was rooting for, or so I‘m told. Bye-bye, Stace. “Apprentice” alums Nick and Amy up next.
And who you knew? When the pies are flying, Ann Coulter can run like an Olympic athlete. That‘s ahead.
Now, here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three sound bites of this day.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I‘ll never forget the paper he wrote in the fourth grade where he explained that, in 1519, Ferdinand Magellan set out to circumcise the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What‘s your name?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rachel.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Rachel. Where are you from?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: California.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From California? That‘s a huge electoral state.
You know that? Did you learn that at Democracy Plaza?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O‘BRIEN”)
CONAN O‘BRIEN, HOST: Hello.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Conan, Bill O‘Reilly from “The O‘Reilly Factor.”
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: So why don‘t we just agree I won‘t call you, you won‘t call me, neither of us gets harassed, everybody‘s happy?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Instead of spending the money on lawyers, we could spend it on ourselves.
O‘BRIEN: Sure, whatever, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Yes, like taking a vacation together to Key West, you know. It starts out kind of platonic, just me and you, salsa dancing kind of thing.
O‘BRIEN: No. No, thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You know, I would dip you, pull you back and say, you have something on your lip. Let me get that for you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: A weekly spanking by the Donald is over. And there‘s widespread glee among my staff about who got the boot. Who is next to get axed? And Ann Coulter‘s survival skills are put to the test.
Stand by for pies.
OLBERMANN: One of the senior producers of this show who shall remain nameless, because I can‘t remember any of their names, announced three weeks ago, and I‘m paraphrasing here: I swear I‘m not watching “The Apprentice” again until that creature is gone.
Our No. 2 story tonight, your wish is Donald Trump‘s command. In a minute, our regular Friday night quarterbacks will join in the revelry. First, a quick recap of last night‘s episode. The teams went co-ed this week, three girls, three boys per group. They tried to make money off New York City dog owners. Neither team made any great profit, but team Mosaic ended up in the boardroom. And, fortunately, that meant so did that creature, Stacy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE APPRENTICE”)
DONALD TRUMP, DEVELOPER/BUSINESSMAN: What I hate is the fact that Stacy keeps going on about responsibility and how it‘s never your fault.
You know, you never take responsibility.
STACY ROTNER, CONTESTANT: I would love to be project manager.
TRUMP: You never take...
ROTNER: I‘d love to be project manager. Give me the opportunity to lead a team.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We‘re not going to give you the opportunity to be P.M. You have to do that yourself.
TRUMP: You have to convince other people to follow you, even if you‘re not the project manager.
ROTNER: I agree with you.
TRUMP: The other thing I really dislike, Stacy, and this is week after week, this isn‘t just now, is that you‘re always complaining. And I think he did a lousy job and I think he made a terrible mistake.
But, Stacy, you‘re fired.
ROTNER: I‘m sorry to hear that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Few others seem to have been, however.
I‘m joined once again by season one veterans, Amy Henry and Nick Warnock.
Amy, good evening.
AMY HENRY, FORMER “APPRENTICE” CONTESTANT: Good evening.
OLBERMANN: Hi, Nick.
NICK WARNOCK, FORMER “APPRENTICE” CONTESTANT: Good evening.
OLBERMANN: Nick, what did you think of Stacy asking for a project manager position while in the boardroom, gutsy or embarrassing?
WARNOCK: Oh, embarrassing, terrible move. She‘s been there six weeks. She‘s had plenty of time to get it done. Donald made the right decision. And I was glad to see her go. I believe I heard America cheer last night.
OLBERMANN: Amy, there was a seriously awkward moment in that boardroom, where Wes actually tried to hug Stacy after she got fired. Is Stacy a poor sport or is Wes trying to emulate Bill O‘Reilly?
HENRY: I wasn‘t prepared for that comment.
You know what? I‘m not going to make any connection to Bill O‘Reilly in this story. But I think that Stacy was being a completely poor sport. At the end of the day, we‘re all in the boardroom to fight for our lives. We know that somebody‘s got to get fired. It‘s a game. Shake hands and move on. It‘s not the end of the world.
OLBERMANN: They mixed up the teams this week with the girls and the boys. Is that a good business decision, Amy, or was it just a good TV programming move?
HENRY: Oh, I think it‘s both. I‘m so tired of watching the women.
I‘m so glad for TV programming‘s sake that they mixed the teams up.
But it‘s great, too, because now it‘s less about the strategy and the backstabbing of the women and it‘s more about really showing performance and results.
OLBERMANN: Nick, Andy screwed up again last night. He lost the cell phone. That‘s always a bad sign. This was his third time in the boardroom. What do you suppose? Do you think the odds are pretty good that he‘s the one on the bubble, that next week is going to be his last?
WARNOCK: No, not at all, primarily because he has lasted through so many boardrooms and stuck up for himself very well.
Now, he made a critical error last night. But I think Trump sees a lot of potential in him. I like him. He‘s got a lot of pep and I think we‘re going to see him go pretty far, Keith.
OLBERMANN: So who is going to be the next one out, Nick?
WARNOCK: The next one out has got to be Ivana. She‘s driving me crazy. I can‘t stand watching her. And I‘ve heard through the grapevine on the streets of America that they can‘t take it anymore either. So we‘re looking for her to go.
OLBERMANN: Yes, there‘s also that name. I still keep coming back to how has that name lasted through seven, eight weeks of Trump?
Amy, your prediction as we looked toward next week. Who‘s going to be offed?
HENRY: I‘m going to have to disagree with Nick. I think the last time in the boardroom for Andy is next week. He‘s gone.
OLBERMANN: And your reason for that is?
HENRY: Well, I think he‘s survived one too many times. We looked at how many times Stacy survived. And what happens is, Trump usually says I‘m tired of seeing your face here. Obviously, your team members don‘t trust you. I don‘t trust you either. And Andy‘s been in there three times. I think the fourth time he‘s in there, he‘s not going to make it another one.
OLBERMANN: And with that...
WARNOCK: Keith, mark my words.
WARNOCK: Ivana is gone next week.
OLBERMANN: All right.
WARNOCK: Ivana is gone.
OLBERMANN: All right, we‘ll keep the tape right there and we‘ll just play it next Friday.
With that, we‘ll put “The Apprentice” away for another week and in so doing, thank Nick Warnock.
Thank you, sir.
WARNOCK: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: And, Amy Henry, thank you, Amy. We‘ll see you both next Friday.
HENRY: Thanks. Have a great weekend.
OLBERMANN: You, too.
WARNOCK: Bye, Keith. You, too.
By which time a relatively famous New York eatery may have reassumed its real name. That‘s our lead story in tonight‘s celebrity and gossip news, “Keeping Tabs.”
After the Boston Red Sox staged the greatest comeback, bar none, in sports history by rallying from down three games to nothing to beat the New York Yankees four games to three, the owners of Mickey Mantle‘s Restaurant said they were temporarily changing its name to Ted Williams restaurant.
Restauranteur Bill Liederman says the late Yankee great came to him in a dream and told him to honor the Red Sox and their late great Williams. Actually, Bill, that was not Mantle. That was not a dream in which he visited you. That was actually Ted Williams‘ frozen head.
And speaking of people whose heads are frozen solid at 320-degrees-below-zero Fahrenheit, there‘s Ann Coulter, a columnist on the prestigious and exclusive Internet who was attacked by two pie throwers at Arizona State University last night. Just as she called Kerry a bum, these two students, allegedly, who had the aim of Squeaky Fromme, ran across the stage. Coulter took off. One pie thrower missed. The other one just winged her shoulder.
Is our country so divided that pour Ann Coulter can‘t spew a hate-filled diatribe without fear of taking a pastry product in the face? One other note, when she fled the podium, Ms. Coulter ran back and to the left, back and to the left, back and to the left.
And from a flying pie pan to a flying saucer, and in films and TV, anyway, he‘s already been to Rigel 7, Sigma Draconis, and, of course, the 892 System, but now Captain kirk, William Shatner, says he wants to actually go into space on board Richard Branson‘s private Virgin Galactic flights. This, of course, is according only to Branson. There is no quote from the former “Star Trek” star himself. And there‘s no truth to rumors that Shatner is not being scared off by Branson‘s $210,000 price tag, because he thinks he can get his reservation for up to 60 percent off on Priceline.com.
Back to the news back on Earth, your knowledge of it, mine as well. That‘s right. It‘s about time somebody shared my pain. If I have to do our weekly news quiz, “What Have We Learned?” you have to play along, too. This video is your only clue as to what lies ahead. And it‘s not figuring too well for the quiz ahead in just a few moments. I don‘t know what the hell this is.
What is this?
OLBERMANN: I said, I‘ve been out of town all week. They said, the news goes on, nevertheless. I said, I am jet-lagged and sleepy. They said, you are a newsman. Go news. I said, I‘m sad. We may never hear the Bill O‘Reilly tapes. They said, well, you have us there, so shut up and do it anyway.
And thus we again bring you that which replaces the No. 1 story on the Friday COUNTDOWN, our news quiz, better known as:
ANNOUNCER: “What Have We Learned?”
OLBERMANN: Now, under the 25th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, I temporarily surrender authority to genial emcee of “What Have We Learned?”, Monica Novotny, better known to the jet set as “Madam Novotini.”
MONICA NOVOTNY, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Greetings. Would you like to brown-nose now or you want to just do that later, when you lose?
OLBERMANN: OK. You are feeling...
OLBERMANN: ... today.
NOVOTNY: I‘m feeling confident.
NOVOTNY: All right. Let‘s begin by inviting the friends from COUNTDOWN to our humble online home. That is COUNTDOWN.MSNBC.com. And there you will oh so many things, the official news quiz, our newsletter, a link to the COUNTDOWN blog of record, Bloggermann, and an e-mail link that you can use to send in your quiz questions for next week.
Now, as always, we will put two minutes on the clock. If at least half of the questions are answered correctly, Mr. “Tonight Show” wins, and a prize will be awarded. If not, an unfortunate penalty will be applied.
Are you ready, sir?
NOVOTNY: Two minutes on the clock, please.
OLBERMANN: OK, let‘s go.
NOVOTNY: Here we go.
The town of Bloomfield, New Jersey, held a lottery this week. For what?
OLBERMANN: Oh, flu vaccinations.
NOVOTNY: Indeed. Bonus. How many doses of flu vaccine were up for grabs, plus or minus 50?
OLBERMANN: Three hundred.
NOVOTNY: What axis of evil nation has thrown its support behind President Bush?
OLBERMANN: The government or at least one of the members of the government of Iran.
Give or take 5,000 euros—we know how you love math.
NOVOTNY: A smuggler arrested at the Bogota, Columbia, airport had how much money in his belly.
OLBERMANN: A lot, a huge quantity, thousands and thousands and—
NOVOTNY: That is so wrong -- 157,000.
OLBERMANN: All right, I was off by 200,000 euros.
NOVOTNY: The last television guest appearance by Mr. Bill O‘Reilly was on what show?
OLBERMANN: “Regis and Kelly.” “Regis and Kelly.”
NOVOTNY: All right, I think we‘ll give you that.
OLBERMANN: As opposed to what, “Regis and Kathie Lee.”
NOVOTNY: As opposed to “Live With Regis and Kelly,” which is the actual name of said show.
Name the adult film star who suggested Mr. O‘Reilly should have called her instead.
OLBERMANN: Madam Novotini. No, it was—the last name was—it was something with fish in it. Never mind. I‘m giving up on it.
NOVOTNY: Never mind.
It‘s Savannah Sampson.
OLBERMANN: That‘s it.
NOVOTNY: Perhaps you are thinking of salmon.
OLBERMANN: Salmon, smoked salmon.
NOVOTNY: Which would be the fish.
OLBERMANN: That wasn‘t exactly what I meant by that, but go ahead.
NOVOTNY: Why did Wal-Mart this week decide to ban the sale of Jon Stewart‘s book “America”?
OLBERMANN: Because they are big fans of Tucker Carlson. That‘s why.
No, I don‘t know.
NOVOTNY: Pictures of the Supreme Court justices.
OLBERMANN: Oh, naked, that‘s right.
NOVOTNY: Disrobed, yes.
Officials in Defiance County, Ohio, arrested an election worker for voter registration fraud this week. He was compensated for his illegal efforts with what?
OLBERMANN: Allegedly, crack cocaine.
OLBERMANN: It‘s not part of the traditional American process. OK, go ahead.
NOVOTNY: Nineteen seconds. Let‘s go.
NOVOTNY: Eight percent of Americans say they would vote for whatever candidate was supported by this former professional athlete.
OLBERMANN: What was the number, 8 percent?
OLBERMANN: Charles Barkley.
NOVOTNY: That‘s correct.
OLBERMANN: I don‘t even know where he is now. He used to be on TV.
NOVOTNY: A lawsuit against President Bush was thrown out of court this week in California. Who filed that suit?
OLBERMANN: Jay Leno.
NOVOTNY: Out of time.
OLBERMANN: I don‘t know. I don‘t know.
NOVOTNY: And the judges will give me the official count, please.
OLBERMANN: Six. It was six.
NOVOTNY: You win. Oh, and aren‘t you lucky.
OLBERMANN: But who was the—what was the last one?
NOVOTNY: It was a lawyer on behalf of the world‘s population of whales and dolphins.
OLBERMANN: Oh, yes, the cetacean community. And his name was Walter Mosley. What is my prize?
NOVOTNY: All right, let‘s get to the prize.
OLBERMANN: Oh, very nice.
NOVOTNY: Now, you will have to hold that one.
OLBERMANN: Yes. That is a framed copy of “The New York Daily News.”
NOVOTNY: That is the collector‘s edition. We actually got that out of recycling bin. But you might want put that up in your office.
OLBERMANN: Or I could just simply smash it here against the desk as a good farewell of the week, and such a good week. Of course...
NOVOTNY: Next week, you might win World Series tickets.
NOVOTNY: We are all chipping in for that.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, Madam Novotini. Another week of this living hell is completed now.
Please remember to forget to tune in next time, when the new host joins us and we play:
ANNOUNCER: “What Have We Learned?”
OLBERMANN: What a life I lead.
That‘s COUNTDOWN. Thanks for being part of it. I‘m Keith Olbermann.
Good night and good luck.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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