Guest: Jason Dearen, John Q. Kelly, Nick Warnock, Amy Henry
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? Alternates replacing jurors, new foremen. No problem. The Peterson jury convicts the defendant, murder of his wife in the first degree, murder of his unborn son in the second.
Rolled up scholarly papers at 50 paces. Cal Tech says the exit polling was just fine. University of Pennsylvania says exit polling was so bad, the odds against it being that bad were 250 million to 1.
The burial of Yasser Arafat. Is it the birth of a revived push for Middle East peace? Tony Blair and the president meet at the White House.
And Kelso Washington. Hello! It just wandered into their backyard. Now all they have to figure out, what is it? Battling rodents of unusual size? All that and more now on COUNTDOWN.
Good evening. On Thursday, August 5, the judge in the trial of Scott Peterson apologized to the jurors for the many delays and told them he had dreamed about them. I had a dream last night, said Albert Delucchi, that there was a jury rebellion. I hope that doesn‘t come to pass. Maybe this was a precognition.
Our fifth story, maybe it was and maybe it didn‘t matter a damn. Three days after chasing one juror for having done her own research on the Internet, two after having to toss out the foreman, the panel, complete with two alternates brought in its verdicts and they were nearly as bad for Scott Peterson as they could have been.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Foreperson, it is my understanding that the jury has arrived at a verdict in this case.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We the jury in the above entitled cause find the defendant Scott Lee Peterson guilty of the crime of murder of Laci Peterson. We the jury in the above entitled cause find the defendant Scott Lee Peterson guilty of the crime of murder of baby Conner Peterson.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: First degree for the wife, second degree for the child. Penalty phase begins a week from Monday. Peterson could face death by lethal injection. The majority of principals in the case remain under a gag order. Some family members were able to react outside the courtroom.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUBY GOLART, LACI PETERSON‘S AUNT: Nobody wins here. We can‘t have Laci back. And taking Scott isn‘t going to replace her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: To assess the emotion from inside, we‘re joined once again by “San Mateo County Times” reporter Jason Dearen. Good evening.
JASON DEAREN, “SAN MATEO COUNTY TIMES”: Good evening.
OLBERMANN: The news agency say there was no emotion either in Peterson or in the jury. There wasn‘t any eye contact between them. What reactions did you see when the verdicts were announced?
DEAREN: When Peterson first came in the courtroom, he was actually smiling, kind of joking around with his attorneys. Then the jury filed in. They walked right past him. I didn‘t see anybody look at him. The courtroom went completely silent and the verdict was read. After that, there were audible gasps. Sharon Rocha, Laci‘s mother, hugged Frank Rocha, Laci‘s brother. They clutched tightly as the clerk read through all of the verdicts. And there was one moment when I saw one of the jurors, juror number 7 who had recently replaced the ousted juror, she looked at Sharon Rocha and Laci‘s family for about 10 seconds with sadness on her face. There was no happiness in that courtroom, even from the Rochas. They were crying, sobbing. Obviously happy with the outcome but I think this has been such a trying time for them for the last couple years that it just all came out at that moment.
OLBERMANN: Was there any reaction from the prosecutor? Obviously the last few days it‘s been presumed the best he would get out of this appeared to be a hung jury.
DEAREN: Right. There was no reaction except for a slight smile after the verdict was read. What happened that was interesting afterwards, was Rick Distaso and his prosecution team walked out of the courthouse and were followed by a group of people, all congratulating him, patting him on the back, and he cited the gag order saying he couldn‘t say anything when reporters asked him questions. But he did say thank you to his supporters. People were treating him like a rock star, patting him on the back saying good job, good job. He came back through a lot of adversity in this trial. The legal gurus had been telling him he‘d been doing a bad job for months.
And it looks like he had the last say.
OLBERMANN: Speaking of attorneys, what happened to Peterson‘s attorney, Mark Geragos? Was he kicked out along with the foreman? Was he on his way to the “Larry King Show?” Where was he? He wasn‘t in the courtroom?
DEAREN: I believe he was in Los Angeles attending another legal matter. He‘s a very busy attorney. When this trial first got moved here, there were many scheduling problems that he had. He was still representing a lot of other clients. His firm is representing a lot of other clients. I know that when the judge informed him that he wanted the attorneys here quickly after a verdict was reached, Geragos pled with him to give him three or four hours. He said no, we‘re going to do this as quickly as we can and get it over with. So Geragos took a gamble going down to L.A. today to work on another matter and apparently couldn‘t make it up.
OLBERMANN: Speaking of getting it done quickly, apparently that week‘s worth of jury change was not going to be as disruptive or as deliberate—extending the deliberations as the experts thought. This wrapped up rather quickly, did it not?
DEARN: It wrapped up very quickly. There were about six hours of deliberations with this new panel in place. And one can only imagine that the two that were ousted were impediments to them reaching a verdict. It was going to be a hung jury. So I guess the defense will have a lot of argument there when they take it to appeal after the penalty phase.
DEAREN: You alluded to it briefly. One last question. There seemed to be as big a crowd outside the courthouse as there was at a Michael Jackson arraignment. It looked like they were having a sale inside that building. What was that like?
DEAREN: People were applauding and clapping. I believe when Jackie Peterson came out, another reporter from my newspaper told me that some people booed her. It was a mob scene. It was a little bit ugly. People were acting like this wasn‘t a murder trial. And that somebody had died here. There was some sort of, like a sports event or something. But the crowd that finally dissipated out here, a couple of the local papers had some extras out here with the verdict and large railroad types. Now it is finally calming down. But yes, there was a huge crowd out here all day.
OLBERMANN: As somebody described, a pay-per-view cable event. Jason Dearen of the “San Mateo County Times” has been covering this trial all year. A superb word picture. We appreciate it. It is all over but the sentencing and the appeal. Many thanks.
DEAREN: Thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: Speaking of the prospect of an appeal, despite the missing defense lawyer, there will doubtless be an attempt at one. For a preview of what‘s next, we turn to the former New York prosecutor now criminal defense attorney John Q. Kelly.
A change in foremen, a verdict within 48 hours. Those two things happening in that short a span of time. Could that be the centerpiece of Mark Geragos‘ appeal, do you suppose?
JOHN Q. KELLY, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: If it is he‘s got big troubles. That‘s not reversible error. The first juror was booted on very solid grounds, doing independent research. And the foreman was booted at the discretion of the judge for holding up the other jurors and not allowing them to vote at all and dictating the terms in there so it‘s not going to be reversible error. The judge was well within his rights to do it.
OLBERMANN: Do you agree with the assessment we just heard from Jason Dearen at the courtroom that the two jurors who were tossed out this week were obviously holdouts against conviction? Is there some other way to read that?
KELLY: There was no vote. It is clear that the first time there was a vote taken by the cohesive jury, that they came in with the guilty verdict. And it probably would have come in after about two days if that had had a cohesive group to start with.
OLBERMANN: Let me get back to the appeal for a second or the prospect of one. Do you think Geragos has something to appeal? And do you have an assessment as to what the reaction to it would be from an appeals court?
KELLY: I don‘t think there‘s any reversible error here. I think the case went in very cleanly. I don‘t think there‘s any issue with jury deliberations. I think the judge was very meticulous with all his evidentiary rulings.
OLBERMANN: John, you forecast this guilty verdict when many said it would be a hung jury or even an acquittal. Do you have a sense of the sentencing yet?
KELLY: I don‘t think he‘ll get the death penalty. I was very happy with the guilty. I had said for six months that they had a very strong prosecution case. I was one of those ones who was disappointed early on with the presentation. but the prosecution team came on very strong, did a terrific job. I‘m very happy that the man was convicted because he was clearly guilty.
OLBERMANN: Last point here. Have you ever heard of a high profile case like this in which no matter what the circumstances are, with other cases, with travel or, what that the defense attorney does not show up for the verdict?
KELLY: Keith, inexcusable. Just absolutely inexcusable. Unless he had a complete meltdown and was checked in somewhere, there‘s no way that attorney should not have been by his client‘s side on a death penalty case after a six-month trial. I don‘t know what the explanation is. There cannot be one that is acceptable.
OLBERMANN: Does he get a refund? Does Peterson get a refund for that?
KELLY: He should get a refund for the whole six-month performance starting from press conferences before the trial even started. They did not get their money‘s worth.
OLBERMANN: The criminal defense attorney John Q. Kelly. Many thanks for your insights, sir. And have a good weekend.
It‘s not all over in the case of Yasser Arafat either. At least not until his wife reveals the secret location of his hidden billions. We‘ll have the report on the burial and the price for the information coming up.
And rage against the machine. One scholarly paper says exit polling shows there could not have been fraud in the computerized voting. Another scholarly paper says the odds against the exit polling being that wrong are a quarter of a billion to one. And fraud has to be considered. Glad everybody agrees. Stand by.
OLBERMANN: The headlines of the newspaper the New York Post are known for less for their insight than for their gaudiness, but one this morning provided both. “The Arafat Lady Sings.”
Our 4th story on the COUNTDOWN, not the nicest thing to say about a new widow on the day of her husband‘s burial. Then again, she had not seen him for four years. And the story was about how much she got paid to tell others what she knows about his secreted fortune. The paper reporting that Suha Arafat struck a deal with the Palestinian authority that will pay her as much as $22 million a year in return for details about where exactly to find her husband‘s hidden assets.
Sounds like quite a finder‘s fee, but those assets may total $4 billion. A Middle Eastern news account said that for her cooperation, the widow will get a one-time fee of $20 million and a monthly stipend of 35 grand.
All of this, including this morning‘s interment in the West Bank makes for one spectacular irony. Despite decades terror, threat, promise proclamation and negotiation, as Brian Williams reports tonight from Ramallah, when Yasser Arafat was buried there, he was a man without a country.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was everything Yasser Arafat wanted during his lifetime: To be treated as a head of state. Presidents and kings came to Cairo to pay tribute, marching in a somber military parade behind a horse drawn casket. This was the ceremony for the world to see. But there was one final stop for the man who always promised his people they‘d have a home.
It started as a trickle in small towns along stone paths. Israeli soldiers could only watch from the checkpoints. It picked up speed as they reached the hillside leading to town. Then it became a human flood. They stormed the compound, crawled through barbed wire and climbed the walls to see his burial. They perched atop every available structure. Just the sight of the arrival of the massive Egyptian helicopters sparked a frenzy.
Security forces gave up any attempt to stop it. Soldiers fanned out, at first believing the sound of automatic weapons would keep the mourners away. But within moments, the surge filled in around both helicopters like liquid.
Long time aides to Arafat, horrified at the crush of people people, closed themselves back inside the helicopters. An SUV, moving in to transport the body, careened wildly through the crowd.
The first sight of the casket gave rise to a roar. Then came a hail of gun fire. Weapons came out of nowhere, thousands of rounds fired toward the sky in a deafening, violent expression of emotion.
As the casket careened over the heads of the mourners, those injured by the surging mob were taken out, or simply lifted over the wall. Mourners fell in on top of Arafat‘s casket covering it up by hand, with bags of dirt from the Jerusalem mosque where the leader had wanted to be laid to rest.
Only the approaching sunset could stop the chaos. On this last night of Ramadan, his Muslim followers rushed home before dark to break their daily fast. And finally, calm arrived at the gravesite of the man who had been labeled a terrorist and a peacemaker all in one lifetime.
(on camera): And late tonight, here in Ramallah, at the end of a long day, this quiet scene: Palestinian soldiers paying their respects at the fresh grave of their former leader, precisely the message of solemnity and unity they had hoped to convey during today‘s burial ceremony, precisely what was lost in a scene of near total chaos. Brian Williams, NBC News, Ramallah.
OLBERMANN: And still, no one has described a cause of death. But the result of that death in many quarters, that is seen as a renewed opportunity for a brokered peace.
Speaking for the east room of the White House shortly after the chaotic burial in Ramallah, both President Bush and the British prime minister, Mr. Blair, embraced the idea of resurrecting the proverbial roadmap to peace. It is about the route where the opinions diverge. Europe hoping for the president‘s commitment to a Mideast conference to discuss strategy, or the dispatch of U.S. envoy to the region.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The prime minister and I discussed last night is, do we not have an obligation to develop a strategy? And the answer is absolutely, we have an obligation. I‘m all for conferences. Just so long as the conferences produce something.
TONY BLAIR, PRIME MINISTER OF ENGLAND: The bottom line has got to be that if you want to secure Israel, and you want a viable Palestinian state, those are two states living side by side and they are Democratic states living side by side. And we‘ve got the chance over the next few months with the election of a new Palestinian president to put the first market out on that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The two men also discussed finishing the job in Iraq. There, the fight for Falluja entered its fifth day. 22 American fatalities thus far. U.S. military officials staying that city is now under 80 percent U.S. control. After a sometimes house to house assault that is pushed the insurgents into a narrow corner at the southern end of the city. But an audio tape, reportedly by Abu Musab Zarqawi, urged those insurgents to keep fighting.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi government had to rush reinforcements to the third largest city, Mosul, where another day of militant uprising there may have been designed to support the insurgency in Fallujah.
And in another sign of the breadth of that insurgency, 12 miles north of Baghdad, in Taji, insurgents shot down a U.S. Army Blackhawk helicopter, wounding three members of the crew.
One day after the nation‘s true veterans are honored, the nation‘s most famous plastic veteran gets his reward. That is a sure sign of our nightly segment, “Oddball.”
Speaking of plastic, if you think the current crop of the “Apprentices” have about as much pizzazz as a piece of dry toast, you‘re not alone. The future boss agrees.
OLBERMANN: Now we‘re back on this Friday evening, and we now pause the COUNTDOWN for the last time this week to instead visit the journalistic equivalent of the island of misfit toys. Let‘s play “Oddball.”
We begin in Rochester, New York, and the annual induction ceremonies at the National Toy Hall of Fame. Always wanted to go see that. Each November, the nominees anxiously wait by the phone to find out if this will be their year, to make the trip to Rochester to be enshrined among history‘s greatest toys, like Mr. Potatohead, Slinky and the game of checkers. Happy to say, Hobby Horse finally made it this year. Congratulations also to Scrabble and the action figure G.I. Joe, who gave a brief but emotionally stirring acceptance speech.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On behalf of G.I. Joe, we‘re proud to be inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame! Go Joe!
OLBERMANN: Joe dyes his eyebrows.
To Kelso, Washington. A town scratching its collective head today after the discovery of this strange creature in a suburban neighborhood. No one knew exactly what this was. Some said it was a wallaby, others said it was a jackalope. All agree it is a rodent of unusual size. I didn‘t think they existed. Yep! And this afternoon, there was breaking giant rodent news. The beast was today reunited with its owner. It was a pet. The woman has identified her animal friend as a Patagonian cavy, a big rodent from the guinea pig family. Apparently, that‘s one ugly family. She says the beast of Patagonia makes a beautiful best friend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is a really nice animal to have. He doesn‘t bite. And he doesn‘t—he‘s not aggressive of any manner. He doesn‘t hurt kids. He talks back to you. You know, he makes his little noise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Sure, he does.
Speaking of items of unusual size, 600 pound chocolate Santa. Yes, the sweet, sweet Santa stands six feet tall and in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency in Chicago. He is made of solid chocolate, the sponge, sugar beard, and candy eyes and this year he is handing out type II diabetes to all the boys and girls out there. Ho-ho!
Back to the real COUNTDOWN and our winter of discontent. More computerized voting machines so bad they may actually have been modified speak and spell toys.
And what about the exit poll discrepancies? It turns out not even scholars agree on what went wrong there. These stories ahead.
Now here are COUNTDOWN‘s “Top 3 Newsmakers” of this day.
No. 3, Carol Windham of Ardmore, Oklahoma, segues out of that way beast of Patagonia rodent story. One of those nightmares where a gas pedal on a car got stuck. No accidents. Fortunately, she got the car to a mechanic who discovered in the engine the nest of a wood rat. The rat had stored 50 pecans in the engine, and one of the pecans had fallen and lodged next to her accelerator cable.
No. 2, J.S. Doughtie in Suffolk, Virginia. Speaking of pecans, Mr. Doughtie is a peanut lover, meaning that the near-fatal accident that befell him was good news. A trailer slid off the highway and dumped its load on his lawn, 46,000 pounds of peanuts. Mr. Doughtie gets to keep them. “I‘m going to roast some,” he says, “and make some candy.”
And No. 1, the employees in the industrial park in Chilhowie, Virginia. Forgive them if they came home a little buzzed. There was a train derailment there. What could they have spilled? Well, what would you need with 46,000 pound of peanuts? A train was carrying 20,000 gallons of beer. And now you know the rest of the story!
OLBERMANN: It looked like the biggest election upset in this country since the Progressive Party beat the Republican for second place in the 1912 presidential race.
Last Tuesday, the tiny Libertarian Party got 7.7 percent of all the votes in Franklin County, Indiana. That‘s Brookville over by the Ohio border. It looked like the biggest upset. Actually, it was just a Fidlar Election Company optical vote scanner in action.
Our third story on the COUNTDOWN, another I.T. manager summoned to fix America‘s broken vote. Nearly all the 740 votes that went to the Libertarian candidate for Congress, Chad Roots, actually belonged to the Democrat in the race, Mel Fox. The county Democratic chair had requested a hand recount after noting that the Libertarians had gotten four times as many votes in Franklin as in any other county in the state.
The numbers of votes did not change the outcome of the congressional race, but it did change a county commissioner‘s race, with a Democrat now edging a Republican.
The Fidlar Election Company says that just because its machine turned straight party-line Democratic votes in one Indiana county into straight party-line Libertarian votes does not mean anything like that happened in the other 10 Indiana counties that used the machines, nor any of the jurisdictions those machines served in Wisconsin or Michigan.
The prospect of a second statewide election in North Carolina is still with us. A computer in Carteret County in that state ate 4,000 votes, forced a recount, may force a revote. All 100 North Carolina counties have finished double-checking their ballots, but the statewide race for agricultural commissioner was decided by less than those missing 4,000. And state law appears to demand that, in such a case, a full statewide second election has to be held. If it happens, it will not include a second vote for president.
And the undecided governor‘s race in Washington has finally hit the courts. The state Democratic Party today sued election officials, trying to prevent them from discarding about 900 provisional ballots. With 2.7 million votes counted and at least 85,000 to go, Republican Dino Rossi leads Democrat Christine Gregoire by about 3,600. The Democrats are arguing that King County officials, that‘s Seattle, are going to toss out 900 provisional ballots with minor errors like missing signatures that could be corrected by those voters who filled them out long before the first count is completed sometime next week.
They‘re doing that in almost all the other counties in Washington state. The state Democratic chair also accused Republicans of trying to intimidate and harass the vote counters.
Intimidation, harassment, fabrication, doctoring, spinning, decontextualizing and actual truth-telling have all been facets of the continuing firestorm over the probity of the elections on the Internet. The latest dueling weapons, scholarly analyses from researchers at major researcher. One suggests that the actual statistical odds was that the exit polling was wrong, that wrong, are 250 million to one.
The other says that while the incorrectness of national exit polling can‘t be explained by the proverbial margin of error, on a state-by-state basis, it was within the margin of error.
That study comes from the Voting Technology Project run by Cal Tech and MIT. In its report, “Voting Machine and the Underestimate of the Bush Vote,” the researchers look at those state-by-state exit polls. They note that, in 30 states, the exit polls predicted Senator Kerry would get more votes than he actually did get. And in 21 more states, they predicted President Bush would get more votes than he actually did get.
The Cal Tech-MIT report also says there‘s no pattern evident between how badly exit polling did in a particular state and whether or not that state used electronic voting machines.
But from University of Pennsylvania business professor Steven Freeman (ph) came to the reverse conclusion, that the exit polls are usually so precise, even on a state level, that it was virtually statistically impossible for them to have been so wrong last week. Freeman notes that, in Germany, Venezuela, the Republic of Georgia and Mexico, exit polls have actually been used as a means of auditing the national elections to make sure nobody stole them, used in Mexico in the Vicente Fox presidential election by no less a figure than Dick Morris, the former Clinton strategist.
Professor Johnson used a lot more data than did Cal Tech and MIT. He noted that in the battleground states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, the exit polls appear to have been wildly wrong. In Florida, they forecast a Bush win by one-tenth of one percent. He actually won by 5 percent. In Ohio, the exit polls showed a Kerry victory by 4.2. The president won by 2.5 percent.
And in Pennsylvania, the exit data indicated Kerry by 8.7 percent. The senator won, but by 2.2 percent. Johnson then goes into the deep woods, talking about the mathematics of probability and statistics. But in there he says that, if they were random and representative, then the chance that the exit polls were going to be that wrong in Florida was less than one in 1,000 -- rather, less than three in 1,000. That they would be that wrong in Ohio was less than one in 1,000, that they would be that wrong in Pennsylvania less than two in 1,000, and that they would all be wrong by that much on the same night, 250 million to one.
Johnson nonetheless writes that the systematic fraud or mistabulation in the election would be a—quote—“premature conclusion,” but that it is also an unavoidable hypothesis.
Well, you know we‘re in trouble when the two sides start throwing professors at each other.
To try to help us understand, I‘m joined by Craig Crawford, MSNBC political analyst and columnist for “Congressional Quarterly” and the head of the trying to understand department.
Good evening, Craig.
CRAIG CRAWFORD, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, we‘re in the deep woods now. That‘s for sure.
OLBERMANN: In both of these studies, there‘s some really heavy academic math. But do any of them, or either of them, or parts of either of them, make sense to you?
CRAWFORD: Well, it wouldn‘t surprise me, Keith, if exit polls are more accurate than actual polling, some of the balloting is so flawed. But there are flaws in the exit polls. And I guess, at the end of the day, when matters is the actual balloting is what elects people.
But, yes, they do make a little sense to me in terms of looking at these comparisons and seeing these big differences. I don‘t think either one explains it. But it does seem so incredibly amazing that the exit polls were that far off, because their history isn‘t that bad. This is the worst they‘ve done since they began, really, around 1988.
OLBERMANN: One thing about that Cal Tech-MIT report that struck me perhaps as oversimplified, the conclusion there was the big conclusion that‘s being used as such in a lot of quarters, that there was no national pattern of fraud in electronic voting and that means that there wasn‘t any fraud. Obviously, whether you‘re the Democrat or the Republican or from the Libertarian Party, you would not need to fix every state to win the whole election, would you?
CRAWFORD: It‘s kind of like saying a new drug is safe because it only kills a few people.
The actual problems in the states that matter are what we‘re looking at and not overall. And the search for real evidence of fraud is the key here now. Now, I don‘t think anything is going to change unless something is shown that someone actually did something with the intent to defraud. And that would take someone admitting it, which is unlikely, or a squealer out there, I suppose, who knew something about some conspiracy.
OLBERMANN: The other paper, the one from Professor Johnson at Penn, there are some points in there that are kind of dubious in terms of the theory. But there‘s one really good point in there that is kind of buried that says that all the explanations for why exit polling would have been so bad are not scientific explanations. They‘re just hypotheses.
You could say Bush voters probably didn‘t want to stop to talk to pollsters or the voters lied to the pollsters or the exit poll companies were trying to cook the data for some reason. You might as well say—if you‘re trying to figure this out scientifically, you might as well say alien were responsible for bad exit polling.
CRAWFORD: Yes. And sometimes this does seem like spotting UFOs.
But there is the David Duke effect. It is called that in exit polling, because, back in the 1991 governor‘s race in Louisiana against Edwin Edwards, the exit polls showed him getting just a few percentage points. And he ended up getting I think around 25 or so. So the explanation then was that people didn‘t want to admit to exit pollsters they had voted for David Duke, the head of the Ku Klux Klan, because they didn‘t want to admit they were a racist.
So perhaps a lot of voters didn‘t want to admit they voted for Bush. I don‘t see that as particularly likely, but some evangelical Christians do tell their people not to talk to exit pollsters, because they see them as representing the liberal media. It is a consortium of the national medium organizations.
OLBERMANN: Lastly, as if we needed this, the thing has been muddied up a little bit further by John Kerry‘s decision to sort of stick his toe in the water of this probable Libertarian-Green Party recount in Ohio, which they, by the way, have raised about half the money already that they need to get that thing going.
But this has permitted you in your piece for “Congressional Quarterly” to stick Senator Kerry with an old familiar epithet. And where were you when you first heard Craig Crawford or somebody say this about John Kerry?
CRAWFORD: Well, it‘s another case of flip-flopping, if you ask me.
OLBERMANN: Thank you very much.
CRAWFORD: Because it is like all of his Iraq votes compressed into one week, because, in this case, he initially said they wouldn‘t concede until all the votes were counted. A few hours later, they conceded.
And now they‘re sending letters to keep counting. So I think what really is going on is, he has heard the noise from the Democratic camps starting to say he conceded too early or gave up too early. And he is thinking about a 2008 race again. And so he probably wanted to give them something. And, in this case, he‘s managed to play to both sides.
OLBERMANN: Yes, may have conceded to preserve his chances at 2008, may have gotten back into the contest to preserve his chances for 2008, which is the story of politics. It changes so quickly.
OLBERMANN: Craig Crawford, as always, sir, right to the point. Great thanks, Craig. Have a good weekend.
CRAWFORD: Good luck in the deep woods there.
OLBERMANN: Thank you kindly.
One last political note, two more changes in the Bush administration tonight. Rod Paige, the education secretary, intends to quit. So says an administration official speaking to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity. That was not Secretary Paige waving goodbye. No formal resignation yet, not even a letter to the president. Paige would be the third Cabinet member to leave this week, after Attorney General John Ashcroft and Commerce Secretary Don Evans.
Early betting on a successor, the White House domestic policy adviser, Margaret Spellings, who would become the most aptly named education secretary in history.
And an expected second-level change at Central Intelligence today. John McLaughlin will be retiring. He had gone from deputy director of the CIA to its acting chief after the departure of George Tenet. But following the confirmation of President Bush‘s nominee, Porter Goss, McLaughlin returned to his deputy status. He is saying today he will retire from federal service on December 3.
Moving from intelligence to lack thereof. The contestant who opened his mouth in the big boardroom last week is gone. And speaking of steps down and exits, the move from late-night raconteur to wacky Disney movie character. Of course, it has really been all downhill for this guy since we shared a computer.
Now here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three sound bites of this day.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Popularity despite his failing health.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC ANCHOR: Well, yes. And I‘ll interrupt just for a second. You saw a shot of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.
WILLIAMS: We have a gunman right down in front of us here, very close in firing rounds up into the air. Always helpful to remember they do land at a speed of 120 miles an hour somewhere.
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER ®, CALIFORNIA: You‘re very population.
JUNICHIRO KOIZUMI, PRIME MINISTER OF JAPAN: You, too.
QUESTION: Mr. President first.
The prime minister is sometimes perhaps unfairly characterized in Britain as your poodle. I was wondering if that‘s the way you may see your relationship?
TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Don‘t answer yes to that question.
BLAIR: That would be difficult.
OLBERMANN: Ten minutes and 45, 44, 43 seconds, time remaining until my weekly abuse at the hands of Ms. Monica Novotny, as she administers your weekly news quiz submissions. Thank you so much.
OLBERMANN: No fire and no spark, the assessment from Donald Trump himself on his own potential proteges.
Our No. 2 story tonight, “Apprentice” week nine. In a moment, season one veterans Amy Henry and Nick Warnock give their assessment.
First, a quick recap from last night. The task, build a bridal salon
· oh, lose the music—decidedly skewed towards the team that included an actual bridal salon owner, leaving the other team led by last week‘s bad boy Chris at something of a disadvantage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE APPRENTICE”)
CHRIS RUSSO, CONTESTANT: This is really, really, really a very tough task, almost impossible. The problem is this. No way are you going to buy gowns like that and commit and advertise and then sell them and they‘re going to fit and it‘s going to be the same size. It is impossible.
DONALD TRUMP, DEVELOPER/BUSINESSMAN: Chris, last week, you complained that this team was a mess and that you could straighten it out. Is that correct?
RUSSO: I said the team wasn‘t jelling and I was recommending that the team be mixed up.
TRUMP: And then you let Jennifer go. And, frankly, I might have fired Jennifer if you didn‘t let her go. I can‘t believe that you let her go.
TRUMP: And I can‘t believe you led the team so badly.
And, Chris, you‘re fired.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And that was no surprise to our regular Friday-night quarterbacks, Nick Warnock and Amy Henry, who both correctly predicted that outcome here last week.
Nick, good evening.
NICK WARNOCK, FORMER “APPRENTICE” CONTESTANT: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: And, Amy, good evening to you.
Let‘s start with you, Amy.
AMY HENRY, FORMER “APPRENTICE” CONTESTANT: Hi.
OLBERMANN: Last night almost seemed like a script written to get rid of this guy, the task, opening a bridal salon. And Sandy from the other team owns a bridal salon in real life. Was it just a setup to get rid of this guy?
HENRY: You‘re right. We did not even need to watch the show. We knew from the first minute and the first second the task was announced that had Sandy clearly would lead the team to victory.
But, Chris, he was just pathetic. He complained the whole way through the task. He threw his hands up the first five minutes. Trump had no other decision than to fire Chris.
OLBERMANN: Yes. But, of course, you never say no reason to watch the show when we‘re trying to promote it.
OLBERMANN: Let‘s move on to next week.
Nick, who is going to be, as we say, moving on? Who is going to be fired? Who has bought “The Apprentice” farm?
WARNOCK: Well, I‘ve been saying Ivana every week. So I think have to come up with someone new.
I think Maria is extremely annoying, constantly nervous, constantly blinking all the time. She gets me nervous just watching the show. But I‘m excited about next week, and I hope she‘s gone, either her or Ivana, dare I dream.
OLBERMANN: All right, Amy, your prediction for next week? Who gets fired?
HENRY: Well, you know what? I would predict Maria as well. But, in that sense, I think I‘m going to go with Ivana this time.
OLBERMANN: All right, we want to play one other thing here. Let‘s take a look at the big picture, first playing you a conversation that Trump had with George last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE APPRENTICE”)
TRUMP: What do you think, George?
GEORGE ROSS: I didn‘t see any fire from any of them.
TRUMP: To me that‘s the big point. There‘s no fire in these people.
ROSS: There‘s no spark.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: I‘ve seen fire and I‘ve seen spark, but none of it with these guys.
Amy, what does that mean for the rest of the season? Are there going to be contestants taking wild risks or lighting their pants ablaze or something?
HENRY: Well, they did not hear them say that. I really thought initially that both George and Carol were saying fire all the team. Fire the team and let‘s just deal with who we have got from the other side.
OLBERMANN: Nick, any ideas what this means to sort of spark things up?
WARNOCK: Well, I know a kid who has got spark. And it is Andy. And he may be the only one there. I see an Andy-Jen M. finale. And I think Andy is going to take it all the way. He is just so great. He has got enthusiasm and he is going to win.
OLBERMANN: Nick Warnock and Amy Henry, they will be back next week to review week 10. We‘re done with week nine.
Nick, good night. Thanks.
Amy, good night to you, too.
WARNOCK: Good night, Keith.
HENRY: Thanks. Have a great weekend.
An easy segue tonight to the realm of celebrity and gossip. We go from bad television to more bad television and news of Craig Kilborn. “The Hollywood Reporters” says the former CBS “Late Late Show” host is in final negotiations with Disney to appear in a remake of its Fred MacMurray film “The Shaggy dog.” Tim Allen will play the lead, Kristin Davis his wife.
And congratulations, killer. You‘re the wacky neighbor. That makes Kilborn exactly as successful as the actor who played the neighbor in the original 1959 version, the unforgettable Alexander Scourby.
And there‘s Hugh Grant, reportedly set to give away Elizabeth Hurley again. Only, this time, he knows about it. The famous and very pretty couple began to go downhill in 1995, when Grant was arrested with a prostitute named Devine in Hollywood. They later split. Now London‘s “Daily Mirror” reports Hurley is going to marry millionaire Arun Nayar.
And in the wedding ceremony, she wants Grant to give her away because her really close friend says they remain really close friends.
And, lastly, what‘s more important at CBS, the news or one of the 73 weekly editions of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.” Answer, “CSI.” The news producer who interrupted the climax of “CSI: New York” Wednesday night with a bulletin on the death of Yasser Arafat has been fired. CBS first apologized for that news, then promised to repeat the show in its entirety tonight to placate unhappy viewers. As Edward R. Murrow spins in his grave, the decision will at least give CBS another new spinoff, “CSI:
News quiz next. Stand by.
OLBERMANN: By tradition, we do not have a No. 1 story on the Friday editions of the COUNTDOWN. Instead, we have a few minutes of poke the host with a stick, thinly disguised as our news quiz, which we call:
ANNOUNCER: “What Have We Learned?”
OLBERMANN: And now I leave you in the sadistic hands of the genial emcee of what have we learned, Monica Novotny.
“Madam Novotini,” good evening.
MONICA NOVOTNY, NBC CORRESPONDENT: It‘s so good to be me.
OLBERMANN: Always it is.
NOVOTNY: Good evening.
We‘ll start, as always, by reminding viewers you too can join in the Friday fun. Go to our Web site, COUNTDOWN.MSNBC.com, where you can take the official news quiz and e-mail us your questions for next week.
As for tonight‘s festivities, we‘ll put two minutes on the clock. If the captain of COUNTDOWN answers at least half of the questions asked correctly, he wins a prize. If not, he too moves on to a penalty phase.
NOVOTNY: Are you ready, sir?
Two minutes on the clock.
OLBERMANN: OK. I‘ve got that one last—I have not seen the questions. I have not studied anything. OK, proceed.
NOVOTNY: We‘re going to go.
No. 1, from Janice (ph), why might prisoner Paul Francisco (ph) be facing charges of arson?
OLBERMANN: He lit his pants on fire in a jail.
NOVOTNY: He did.
OLBERMANN: From the Kitchen Witch—I don‘t make this up—name in order by number the three jury members dismissed from the Peterson jury over the course of the trial.
OLBERMANN: The last one was...
NOVOTNY: I‘ll give you a hint, juror number...
OLBERMANN: Yes. The last one was—well, five was the one yesterday. It was the foreman. And then the one before that was 276. I have no clue.
NOVOTNY: Jurors numbers five, seven, and then five again.
OLBERMANN: Oh, that‘s a tough number, five.
NOVOTNY: How many turkeys will Americans eat this Thanksgiving, according to COUNTDOWN?
OLBERMANN: Scott Peterson.
How many turkeys will Americans eat this Thanksgiving -- 59,845,000.
NOVOTNY: Time is not your friend -- 45 million.
NOVOTNY: What‘s the phone number for the turkey hot line.
NOVOTNY: We‘ll just leave that alone.
OLBERMANN: That‘s the Bill O‘Reilly show where they had that number.
NOVOTNY: I‘m trying.
NOVOTNY: The Bush family‘s newest pet, Miss Beazley, is named after a character in what Oliver Butterworth book?
OLBERMANN: “The Enormous Egg.”
Name the town in New Jersey where an elementary school was strafed by an F-16 fighter jet.
OLBERMANN: Little Egg Harbor.
NOVOTNY: That‘s the one.
From Barbara (ph), who is Aleta St. James?
OLBERMANN: Aleta St. James is the soon-to-be, I think, her 57th birthday—she has had twins this week and they‘re—yes.
NOVOTNY: That‘s right.
NOVOTNY: The manager of an ice cream shop in Tennessee is facing charges after two females charged him of doing what?
OLBERMANN: Spanking them when they were bad employees.
NOVOTNY: That‘s right. We‘ll move right on.
OLBERMANN: Oh, that was Bill O‘Reilly. I‘m not sure which.
NOVOTNY: Brazilian police broke up what kind of criminal operation in Manacapuru this week?
OLBERMANN: Turtle smugglers.
NOVOTNY: Yes, that‘s right.
Name three celebrities who have been sued this week in two seconds.
OLBERMANN: Bill O‘Reilly.
NOVOTNY: I‘m sorry.
OLBERMANN: I‘m sorry.
OLBERMANN: Michael—I don‘t know.
NOVOTNY: You did get six correct.
OLBERMANN: Yes, another strong finish there, I think. Six out of something?
OLBERMANN: Six out of 10.
NOVOTNY: Six out of 10.
OLBERMANN: Yes, that‘s what I got here on the scorecard.
NOVOTNY: Yes. OK.
NOVOTNY: So you just barely win.
OLBERMANN: So I win what?
NOVOTNY: This week, we have a very special prize for you. You win an all-expenses-paid vacation, one week off, except for the all-expenses-paid part.
NOVOTNY: That‘s right.
OLBERMANN: That‘s where you don‘t go to work?
NOVOTNY: You don‘t come here.
OLBERMANN: When does it start?
NOVOTNY: Well, you are the boss. Monday?
OLBERMANN: Well, we‘re almost—OK, right now.
NOVOTNY: Good. Don‘t let the door hit you.
NOVOTNY: While the boss leaves, we say thank you for playing along on yet another edition of:
ANNOUNCER: “What Have We Learned?”
NOVOTNY: And that‘s COUNTDOWN. Thanks for being a part of it.
On behalf of your host, the already vacationing Keith Olbermann, I‘m Monica Novotny. Good night and have a great weekend.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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