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'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Nov. 19

Read the transcript to the 8 p.m. ET show

Guest: Carl Jeffers, Bob Peters, Elizabeth Edwards, John Edwards, John Q. Kelly, Nick Warnock, Amy Henry, Robin Givhan

ALISON STEWART, GUEST HOST:  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?  Congress considers looking at the dangers of porn addiction. 

The FCC investigates the towel foul. 

The decency debate.  Should the government be telling you what to watch?  And a new law might make you watch the previews on a DVD. 

Kissing babies, kind of sweet.  Kissing your cabinet, kind of creepy. 

The potential impropriety of presidential displays of affection. 

Diagnosis cancer.  Elizabeth Edwards on keeping her secret in the final days of the campaign.  And her family‘s reaction once doctors confirmed the news.

And the word so nice, you are fired.  You heard them twice.  A full breakdown of the Donald‘s dual dismissal with our “Apprentice” ringers Nick and Amy. 

All that and more on COUNTDOWN. 

Keith Olbermann is enjoying his last day of vacation.  I‘m Alison Stewart.  You expect to hear about it at the water cooler but when it comes up at a congressional hearing on hardcore porn you know it goes deeper than a wrong time, wrong place promotion. 

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN tonight, the fallout from the fallen towel.  In a moment how it factors into the wider debate on values and decency.  First I would actually factor it in on Capitol Hill.  The Senate subcommittee hearings started with researchers laying out the dangers of hardcore pornography.  Apparently it can be as addictive as heroin.  It corrupts kids and destroys families.

But then the hearing took a strange twist and turning to the fear over Terrell Owens and his scantily-clad desperate housewife and even prompting committee chairman Senator Sam Brownback to point out that the public is starting to realize that, quote, “they just don‘t have to take it.”

Others are not taking it either.  The chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers took offense not as a parent but as a jock and a member of the NFL.  In an editorial in today‘s “New York Times” he wrote, quote, “I thought it was disgraceful.  Worse was that it used one of our players in uniform in the locker room who claimed that the team‘s going to have to win without me.  That is not NFL football.  The Steelers and the 31 other clubs that make up the league are a team.  We play as a team.  This promotion simply did not belong in that context.”

Now on the opposing side “USA today,” the paper making its position clear in an op-ed this morning by criticizing the extent of FCC involvement in this issue.  Quote, “this is just silly.  The public gains nothing.  It‘s not even clear that many people were upset.”

Both sides agree on one thing.  This is not just about a racy promo on family TV.  It is part of a wider disagreement over the content on the airwaves.  We started that debate last night until it got stopped dead by the start of Deborah Norville.  So tonight we want to pick it up again.  Joining us again is Bob Peters, president of Morality In Media and from Seattle tonight Carl Jeffers, radio talk show host with KRO-TV.

Carl, we will start with you and the “Desperate Housewives” promotion.  What does it say to you that a discussion about hardcore porn ended up involving the “Desperate Housewives” promo.  Has the morality net been cast too wide? 

CARL JEFFERS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  When you try to make the leap from hardcore porn to the Terrell Owens commercial that you‘re really making quite a reach.  I‘m not just talking about reaching for the towel.  The fact is that hardcore porn is an entirely separate entity from what we are talking about with regard to that commercial.  I think that there‘s an overall larger problem here.  Yes, Evangelicals, Christian conservatives, conservative Republicans won a political victory in November but that doesn‘t equate to moral supremacy which would give them the right to not only dictate but even to pass judgment on what Americans watch, what their values have to be, how they structure their relationships and who they have that relationships with.  That is the important fact preserving the constitutional rights of our country and let‘s remember that at least half of this country feels clearly that the rights of individuals need to be as protected as the other half feels that they have the right to impose their judgments on the other half of the country. 

STEWART:  Bob, I want to bring you into this discussion.  Can you articulate why this particular promo offends you? 

BOB PETERS, MORALITY IN MEDIA:  I would like to respond to the fact—

I read also that the promo came up in today‘s hearing about hardcore pornography which somewhat surprises me.  It is not that there‘s no relation between hardcore pornography and what went on in Monday night football.  But I would say from a practical perspective and certainly from a legal perspective there‘s a major difference.  What the Senate was looking at yesterday from a legal perspective would be material that is obscene and is clearly not protected by the first amendment. 

What went on Monday night in my opinion is not protected at least

during certain hours of the broadcast day.  I hope the FCC will determine

that the promo was indecent and I might add that the general public or a

part of the public doesn‘t determine what is indecent.  The Federal

Communications Commission does.  And according to the rules whatever

president is in power, he appoints three of the commissioners, the other

two are from the minority party.  If somebody doesn‘t agree with a majority

of the commissioners they can appeal to the courts.  I would add that the

broadcast indecency laws has been on the books since 1927 and it was upheld

by the Supreme Court in 1978. 

STEWART:  But what about the promotion offended you? 

PETERS:  Well, I‘ll tell you.  I was kind of shocked.  Somebody showed

it to me.  I didn‘t see it Monday night.  I saw it the next day.  But I

don‘t know what I was expecting.  Yes, she walks into the locker room and

very attractive young lady and she seduces him and the bottom line is that

·         to me it wasn‘t so much she jumped into his lap looking naked at the end.  It is the fact this the whole purpose—she was not asking for a good night kiss.  She wanted to have sex with him and he yielded.  And that is great entertainment for 6:00 on Pacific Time.  People saw that program while sitting at the family table with their kids waiting for a football game and I‘ll tell you I didn‘t know what was going on.  I watched it and I said my god, so I tell you, to me it was totally inappropriate for the program, which is football, which is the family sport and the time of day. 

JEFFERS:  Wait a minute, Bob.  Can I jump in, Alison, for a second?

STEWART:  Go for it. 

JEFFERS:  Number one, Bob says that—what was it that she did?  She came into the locker room, she seduced him because she wanted to have sex with him.  So tell me something that is new.  That is half the programs that are on TV that the families are sitting around waiting for the schedule so that they can either watch them when they are broadcast or Tivo or freeze (UNINTELLIGIBLE) them to watch them later.  That‘s nothing inoffensive about a 30-minute sitcom that concentrates on that versus one minute. 

And number two, you brought up the FCC.  I‘m delighted you brought up the FCC.  The same people who are going to the FCC saying they should rule that these kinds of commercials are indecent and violate our morals are the same business conservatives and Christian Evangelicals who are going to the FCC and saying that you can‘t allow viewers to watch these DVDs without seeing the commercials for their business and product interests that certainly help them to increase their profits.  So, clearly you tell me where is the moral values of that and finally I would say that if we want to talk about who is it that is imposing these values on it, virtually every Evangelical organization in this country is having to deal with scandal, the largest in the world on TBN.  They are dealing with different values that really do offend us. 


PETERS:  One of most common complaints we get at Morality In Media, I mean, it‘s a regular course, are people who are doing exactly what the networks say people should do.  They should be selective in their program viewing.  So, they are watching a program oftentimes and I have seen it happen when my wife and I do it.  We are watching a program that decent and in the middle we get a promo or an ad that is totally offensive.  I understand that there are two sides to football.  One is a very violent and at times even ugly sport.  There are also people you know who are associated with football who misbehave and the NFL plays both sides of the street but I think it is a safe statement that a large majority of people that watch football watch it because they love the sport.  If they wanted to watch “Sex in the City” or a porn film they would do it.  And I think one of the most common complaints that I have heard are people who are watching football with their kids and right in the middle of the game they get this junk. 

And as far as the Evangelicals, I have a list of opinion polls beginning in 1997 and going up to 2004 which indicates that large majorities of the American public are fed up, offended, concerned by the sex, the vulgarity on television. 


JEFFERS:  First of all you can‘t say large majorities.  I let you make all those points none of which are substantiated but I let you make them.

PETERS:  Let me read them.  I‘ll read the opinion polls for you. 

JEFFERS:  I will close with one simple point.  You referred to the majority of people who watch football.  Let me tell you that the majority of people who watch football were not really offended by that...

PETERS:  How do you know that?  Neither one of us knows the answer to that question.

STEWART:  Let‘s end it on that note, if neither one of you knows that answer.  Gentlemen, you make my job easy.  Bob Peter, president of Morality in Media.  And Carl Jeffers, radio talk show host for KIRA Radio.  We appreciate your time tonight.  Have a safe and good weekend. 

JEFFERS:  You too, Alison. 

STEWART:  TV isn‘t the only medium under government scrutiny and control.  DVD‘s, next on the agenda.  A new bill wants to make it illegal for you and for me and everybody else to fast forward through all of those trailers and ads at the start of the movie.  Broadcast companies are lobbying hard for the measure, claiming that their whole business plan goes down the tubes, pardon the pun, if people can just skip commercials. 

Opponents point out the obvious, that ever since the V.C.R. came on the market, oh, 25-years-ago, movie fans have hit fast forward through the promotions anyhow. 

And a system that seemed to promise clients the ability to avoid ads altogether is now making them unavoidable.  Come march TiVo will give you commercials whether you want them or not.  Try to fast forward through them and a little promotional banner will pop up instead.  There you go.  Constantly asking to you look at the full product, offering promotions and free cars and contests and getaways and subscriptions and interesting news programming, constantly emphasizing how great it is is, how much you need it, how it improves your life, how it is the best thing ever.  Yeah, like that will work. 

From the government and media to the justice system in the media, a Rhode Island reporter busts a local scandal wide open and now he is the one that could face hard times behind bars. 

And Elizabeth Edwards, her battle with cancer, her candid discussion about how the day after the election was far more grueling than anyone would have ever realized. 


STEWART:  And welcome back to COUNTDOWN.  By the way, there‘s no free car. 

They say timing is everything, but it does seem that great and exciting things in our lives often happen at the same time as scary and difficult ones.  Our No. 4 story tonight, two women very much in the public eye each facing different medical problems at pivotal times.  Condoleezza Rice, undergoing uterine artery embolization for fibroids just 3 days after the president names her secretary of state and 5 days after her 50th birthday.  And Elizabeth Edwards who found a cancerous lump her breast just 2 weeks before the presidential election.

A candid interview with both Elizabeth and John Edwards in a moment.  First, an update on the national security adviser.  Rice‘s doctors say she is resting comfortably and the procedure was routine and successful.  The surgery is designed to block blood flow to fibroids which are noncancerous tumors in the uterus.  Rice is scheduled to go home tomorrow.

John and Elizabeth Edwards will head home to North Carolina soon.  Today the vice presidential contender bid goodbye to his colleagues in the Senate.  He also thanked everyone for their words of support as his wife begins waging her fight against breast cancer.

It was a diagnosis that came the very day that the Kerry-Edwards ticket conceded the elections.

Elizabeth Edwards has begun chemotherapy with her husband at her side. 

And Katie Couric sat down with John and Elizabeth earlier this week to see how treatment is going and to talk about that harrowing day. 


KATIE COURIC, MORNING TALK SHOW HOST:  Let‘s talk about Wednesday, November 3.  What an emotionally draining day. 

ELIZABETH EDWARDS, JOHN EDWARDS‘ WIFE:  The day sort of started in the middle of the night for us, obviously, that‘s when I told Kate about—that it looked pretty serious, our oldest daughter.  I really did not sit around thinking what am I going to find out later.  I pretty much knew what I was going to find out later that day.

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS, (D) NORTH CAROLINA:  Even though the outcome won‘t change, I want you to know we will continue to fight for every vote. 

E. EDWARDS:  And then waited for the speeches to be given in Boston and went straight from there. 

The ride to Mass General was a long ride.  OK, because you just wanted to say, OK, now I‘ve done—the election stuff is over.  Now I want to do this. 

COURIC:  You lost the election and then you go to Mass General where your wife‘s cancer diagnosis is confirmed. 

J. EDWARDS:  Yes.  It was a hard day.  Of course our focus was entirely on Elizabeth and trying to make sure she was OK and going to get well. 

COURIC:  Was that true in the final days of the campaign as well? 

J. EDWARDS:  Yes.  Anybody who knew me well who was around would have seen the difference.  I mean, I was completely preoccupied with her and how she was going to be.  And honestly also our kids.  We‘ve got Kate who is 22, Emma Claire who six and Jack who is four they need us.  We have to be there for them.  And for all of those reasons, I was focused on Elizabeth. 

Was it difficult to talk to Emma Claire and Jack about this—and to Kate? 

E. EDWARDS:  I think Kate is the hardest, because Kate has a better appreciation than the younger children do.  But it is not really hard.  We have a really good, open relationship with our children in terms of conversations about things serious and not serious.  And they sure have had some serious conversations in the last year. 

COURIC:  Let‘s talk about your course of treatment.  You are getting chemo every two weeks. 

E. EDWARDS:  Yes.  I have about 14 more weeks of this process during which time I will lose my hair and lose my eyebrows apparently, maybe, during the second part of it.  The kids are pretty enthused about this.  And we have tried explaining to them, you know, that that mommy has a bump and the bump is called cancer.  And I‘m going to take medicine for the bump.  And it‘s going to make my hair fall out.  And I might as well not say any other words, once I said my hair will fall out nothing else interested them.  And so they are pretty excited about this prospect. 

COURIC:  There‘s no reason to bemoan the past or feel guilty because you have no deal with right now.  But I‘m curious, why you didn‘t get your yearly mammograms. 

E. EDWARDS:  Well, partly we moved up here.  We moved to Washington.  So you get out of the rhythm of things, but it is not an excuse.  Now we‘re taking action and we are going to do something about it and everything I can about it.  It doesn‘t—of course, there‘s no guarantees, but it does mean that you are fighting as hard as you can.  Until you have started, you are not really doing that. 

COURIC:  You have marveled at your wife‘s strength, I know, and you have said wonderful things about her before this as well.  I mean, every opportunity you get, which is really nice.  And under these circumstances, how has your love and respect for her grown? 

J. EDWARDS:  Well, I couldn‘t love her more than I do.  I mean, we have been married for 27 years, and we have been through a lot together.  And we are connected at the breastbone.  And so...

E. EDWARDS:  Might not use that anymore, actually. 

J. EDWARDS:  Yes, I may have to find another way to say it.  You‘re right, thank you.  But she is—her reaction—see, this is not hard for anyone else to understand. 

I have been with her basically nonstop certainly since the campaign was over, and before the last few days of the campaign talking to her constantly.  I have not seen any whimper, anything.  It is all what is happening to my children, what is happening to my family.  We are going to beat this.  I‘m going to be around longer than you.  I mean, she is just absolutely amazing.  She is the strongest person I have ever seen. 

COURIC:  What are you most afraid of? 

E. EDWARDS:  Of course I‘m most afraid for them.  Most afraid that it doesn‘t turn out as we hope it will, and that—and that I have a 22-year-old daughter who has been through a lot, and a 6-year-old and a 4-year-old, who basically put their lives on hold with the promise that they were going to get their parents back, that somehow I‘m not able to keep that promise to them.  And that is my biggest fear. 

But there are good things in it, too.  I mean, we all get a different appreciation about the importance of the days that we‘ve got, which is wonderful.  That‘s really important, just to concentrate on the good things that you have got from this process. 


STEWART:  We wish them well.  You can see more of Katie‘s in-depth interview with the Edwards Sunday night on “Dateline NBC” at 7:00 p.m.  Eastern, 6:00 p.m. Central.

Surveillance video has helped put scores of bad guys behind bars.  Tonight, they will make a laughing stock out of one would-be robber.  Oh, it‘s “Oddball” time.

And the extremes of my true love.  Ebay.  One day it‘s the grilled cheese image of the Virgin Mary.  Now, the other spectrum of the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is up for sale.  Wait until you hear those details.


STEWART:  I‘m Alison Stewart, keeping Keith Olbermann‘s seat warm until he returns on Monday, and the voices in my head tell me it‘s time to pause the COUNTDOWN and indulge yourselves with a couple of stories based not on news value, but on the gratuitous video and general goofiness.  Let‘s play “Oddball.” 

We begin in Hartford, Connecticut, with one of the worst robbery attempts ever for the robber, that is.  A man wearing a hood jumps the counter at a 7-11, makes a grab for the cash in the register, but he didn‘t count on convenience store clerk Marco Shorky (ph), no, he didn‘t.  He fought like dickens to protect the booty.  Let‘s get ready to rumble! 

Fighting the robber with one hand and pushing the alarm button with the other, Shorky (ph) managed to rip the suspect‘s sweatshirt off before the man fled.  He‘ll likely be honored by the corporation for his bravery with free slurpees for a month.  Play it again.

To San Francisco, where one family‘s fine china is another country‘s gross national product.  This fancy serving dish has been an heirloom in the family for generations.  They brought it out for special occasions.  They might have even served food in it.  Until they found out recently the plate is 900 years old Ming dynasty porcelain.  Talk about using the good china.  Ba-da-bam.

The family decided to sell the plate, and this week it fetched $5.7 million at auction.  As to what the family will do with the money, they will probably throw it on a pile.  They are heirs of the Eleanor Carlysle (ph), whose father founded the Pony Express. 

And speaking of finding really old stuff in strange places, workers in Peru have halted work on a new sewer line after diggers came across a 900-year-old mummy -- 900, same age as the plate, by the way.

Officials say the mummy was buried just four feet deep and was surrounded by some pottery of his own, all dating back to the 1300s.  You never know what you need to take on a trip.

Archaeologists were called in to take over the excavation, and while they are mildly excited, apparently you can‘t put a shovel in the ground in Peru without hitting a mummy these days.  Thousands have been discovered around the country in recent years during a construction boom there. 

Scott Peterson begins the battle to save his life next week, but first his lawyer is going to try to replace the 12 jurors that found him guilty in the first place. 

And later, from kissing babies to kissing babes.  President Bush taking to the liplock lately.  What‘s the deal? 

Those stories ahead, but first here are COUNTDOWN‘s “Top 3 Newsmakers” of this day. 

No. 3, the eighth grade class at Geeter Middle School in Memphis, Tennessee.  It was meat loaf day in the school cafeteria on Wednesday, and rather than eat the delicious lunch, the student began a giant meat loaf food fight.  After no one helped clean up the mess, the principal responded by suspending the entire eighth grade.  That will learn them.

No. 2, an unnamed teacher at St. Matthew‘s Roman Catholic High School in Manchester, England.  Says she was trying to encourage the students to seize the day, but she went about it by telling the 250 kids that a giant meteor was going to strike the Earth in 10 days, and they should all go say their final farewells to their families.  She realized her mistake when many of the 13- and 14-year-olds began sobbing in horror.  Carpe diem gone awry.

And No. 1, Ty William McDonald Grant, a homeless man in Australia, who walked into a police station, asking to spend the night in one of their jail cells.  When the police refused, Grant went to a nearby gas station, held the place up with a broken bottle, then waited for the police to come and arrest him.  He got to spend that night in a nice jail bed, and every night for the next 2 ½ years. 


STEWART:  Six men and six women found him guilty of a double murder. 

Now the same 12 jurors will decide whether he should be put to death. 

Our No. 3 story on the COUNTDOWN tonight, the fate of Scott Peterson.  One week ago today, jurors convicted Mr. Peterson of first degree murder of his wife and the second degree murder of their unborn child, despite widespread predictions that the jury was in chaos and bound to deadlock. 

Now the choice is between life in prison or the death penalty.  But Peterson‘s attorney, Mark Geragos, has asked that a new jury be impaneled for the penalty phase, a request that, if granted, would cause a huge delay, but give Mr. Geragos a chance to plead for Scott Peterson‘s life before 12 different jurors.

Geragos has also asked for a change of venue.  And on Monday, the judge, Alfred Delucchi, will take up both defense motions.

But right now, we have John Q. Kelly to preview Scott Peterson‘s sentencing.  Mr. Kelly is a former New York prosecutor and criminal defense attorney and a frequent guest on COUNTDOWN. 

Good evening, John.  Thanks for being with us. 

JOHN Q. KELLY, FORMER PROSECUTOR:  Hey, Alison.  How you doing? 

STEWART:  I‘m doing well. 

KELLY:  Good.

STEWART:  Let‘s get to these defense motions first, the request for a change of venue and a new jury.  What is behind it and what are Geragos‘ chances? 

KELLY:  Let‘s answer the last question first.  His chances are zero.  The same jury that heard five months of evidence how Scott Peterson premeditated and coldbloodedly executed his wife is going to be the same jury that decides whether he gets the death penalty or not. 

STEWART:  Why are you so sure about that? 

KELLY:  Because there‘s absolutely no reason for there to be a change of venue, to be a change in jury.  There‘s no basis in law and fact.  And the same jury that has heard the evidence and rendered the verdict so far is the same jury that has to make a decision on the sentencing. 

STEWART:  Well, let‘s go with what you are saying and assuming there is no change of jury, Peterson, facing those same 12 people, what does Geragos have to say?  What can he say to sway them?

KELLY:  You know, what he is going to say is, Scott‘s parents love him, and his family loves him and he should be allowed to spend the rest of his life in prison, instead of being given a needle.  And I think there‘s a good chance, though, the jury is going to give him the death penalty. 

STEWART:  Does the family being there and testifying, does that make a difference? 

KELLY:  It makes a difference.  The jury is going to not want to penalize Scott‘s, you know, parents for his malfeasance.  That is a legitimate consideration. 

The one thing, though, the jury has been a little bit conditioned.  They have already heard from Scott‘s parents, so the emotional impact of the first time hearing from them is not going to be there.  And it is going to be very emotional when Laci‘s parents take the stand. 

STEWART:  What about Amber Frey takes the stand?  She‘s supposed to called for the defense.

KELLY:  She was a terrific witness and very critical in the prosecution of the case.  She is not going to have a large impact on this jury.  She only had a month-long relationship with Scott.  She was the woman on the side.  And she‘s the one primarily responsible for him being convicted.  And they are just going to look at her as someone who is trying to appease her conscience.  And they‘re going to be much more focused on the family‘s pleas. 

STEWART:  OK, we talked about the defense a lot.  What can the prosecution do that it hasn‘t already done at trial? 

KELLY:  You know, especially this time of year, they are going to put the family on, and they are going to have Laci‘s parents, her sister and her close friends, talking about that it is going to be Thanksgiving without her.  It‘s going to be Christmas without her.  They are never going to have her around again.

And it is just going to be heart-wrenching.  And it is just going to be ironic that this is about the time a few years ago that Scott started dating Amber Frey and that he premeditatedly planned the murder on Christmas Eve, as we approach it then.  So the time of year is going to have a big impact on this jury, too, as they consider Laci‘s family‘s pleas. 

STEWART:  And what about jury fatigue?  This has been going on a long time. 

KELLY:  It is going to be a quick verdict, Alison.  I don‘t think even you will see a day of deliberations.  They are either going to go back there and decide based on the five months of testimony they have heard he should get the death penalty or if there are a couple of people that have already decided that he is not going to get the death penalty, they are going to see that they are not going to sway the others and they‘re going to come back very quickly one way or another. 

STEWART:  John Kelly, we thank you for taking your time to be with us tonight.  Have a safe and great weekend. 

KELLY:  OK.  Thanks, Alison.  Bye-bye.

STEWART:  Rounding out our legal block tonight, the aggravation of a federal district judge in a corruption case may soon land a Providence, Rhode Island, reporter in jail.  The reporter at WJAR, the local NBC station, aired a tape showing a mayor‘s aide accepting a bribe.  But the mayor and his aide were convicted.

But as our correspondent John Seigenthaler reports, that reporter now faces jail time for not revealing his source. 


JOHN SEIGENTHALER, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Outside the courtroom in Providence, Jim Taricani called the case against him an assault on journalism. 

JIM TARICANI, WJAR REPORTER:  I never imagined that I would be put on trial and face the prospect of going to jail simply for doing my job. 

SEIGENTHALER:  The 55-year-old investigative reporter for NBC-owned station WJAR in Providence now faces prison for refusing to say who gave him this tape. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I really appreciate this.  You‘re a busy guy.

SEIGENTHALER:  Taricani aired it back in 2001.  It showed Providence City official Frank Corrente accepting a $1,000 bribe from an FBI informant, part of the Plunder Dome investigation into Providence City Hall corruption.  Corrente and his boss, Mayor Buddy Cianci, were eventually convicted and sentenced to five years in prison.  Now Taricani says he is prepared to go to prison rather than reveal his source. 

TARICANI:  I absolutely feel that I did a public service by putting this tape on the air. 

SEIGENTHALER (on camera):  So you would have done it again? 

TARICANI:  I will do it again tomorrow. 

SEIGENTHALER (voice-over):  Federal Judge Ernest Torres has already fined Taricani $85,000, which he paid and NBC reimbursed.  The judge found Taricani in contempt, declaring the evidence clear, overwhelming and undisputed that the reporter defied a court order. 

Mike Stanton, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for “The Providence Journal,” says the case will have a chilling effect on journalists. 

MIKE STANTON, “THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL”:  There were things that were leaked to me in this case.  And I sometimes look at Jim and I say, there but for the grace of God go I. 

SEIGENTHALER:  NBC Universal lawyers said the company stand by Jim Taricani and vigorously supports his decision not to reveal the identity of a confidential source. 

(on camera):  One of the ironies in this case is that before Jim Taricani played the videotape on TV, the lead prosecutor in this case took the videotape home and showed it to some of his friends, in violation of the court order.  His punishment, a $500 fine and a 30-day suspension. 

(voice-over):  On December nine, the judge will make a final decision on Taricani‘s punishment.  Harvard Law professor Charles Fried says this is about the rule of law. 

CHARLES FRIED, HARVARD LAW PROFESSOR:  The Constitution does not say that because you are a journalist you get some kind of special privilege. 

SEIGENTHALER:  Taricani‘s lawyers hope the judge will consider the reporter‘s 1996 heart transplant and ongoing health issues in determining the sentence.  Still, this journalist could end up in prison, just like the corrupt city officials he tried to expose. 

John Seigenthaler, NBC News, Providence, Rhode Island.


STEWART:  From the long arm of the law to the long firing arm of the Donald, and it got a workout last night, not one, but two prime-time spankings in the boardroom.  Did our “Apprentice” experts Nick and Amy even see that coming? 

And from “The Real World” on MTV to the real, real world, who is offering themselves up on eBay?  Now, rest safe.  It‘s not Puck.


STEWART:  Coming up, a big twist on “The Apprentice,” the latest strange auction item on eBay and my two cents—buyer beware—and the Bush bus. 

Stay with us. 


STEWART:  For the price of one, a double dose of you‘re fired from the Donald, our second story tonight.

In a moment, regular Friday night “The Apprentice” quarterbacks Nick and Amy will break down last night‘s groundbreaking boardroom.  First, the events that led up to it, starting with the Maria meltdown. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK, next, next. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I understand.  I understand.  Do not get in freaking face.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I understand.  Back off.  Moving on. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Will you forgive me and not bring this up any more? 



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Thank you.  I will never dismiss you again from another room.  

Just know that have beaten me down, when all I wanted was to give you something that you could rip apart, so that you could do that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘m not trying to beat you down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  And I‘m not a control freak.

DONALD TRUMP, DEVELOPER/BUSINESSMAN:  Maria, you were difficult to work with.  You lashed out at your project manager, which was completely out of line.

Wes, you lost control of Maria and you failed as a leader.  You both did a horrible job. 

Maria, you‘re fired. 

And I just have to do this.  I have no choice. 

Wes, you‘re fired also. 


STEWART:  Oh, snap.  Think you are safe and wham, Wes not expecting it. 

As we do every Friday, we turn to season one vets Amy Henry and Nick Warnock. 

Guys, thank you for being with us. 



STEWART:  Nick, that was a shock.  Mr. Trump, he said he had to do it. 

Did he have to do it?  Did he make the right call? 

WARNOCK:  Absolutely.  They were both stinkers.

The whole episode, Maria was yelling and screaming.  Then she breaks into tears.  Wes is spineless during the episode.  I mean, it needed to be done.  And I applaud Trump.  He was like gunslinger.  You‘re fired.  You‘re fired.  It was great. 

STEWART:  Amy, Maria did seem pretty frazzled.  She had the bags under her eyes, bursting into tears.  Do you that is her or is that stress that everybody gets by week 11 on “The Apprentice”? 

HENRY:  Well, it is probably a little bit of both. 

Looking at Maria, clearly, she is a control freak in the real world, arms flailing, pointing her fingers.  It‘s a little bit of drama.  But I do think as well—Nick and I can both attest, after this time you are so exhausted.  Sometimes it is a blessing in disguise to be fired. 

STEWART:  Well, you know, there‘s this great Web site, Television Without Pity.  It described her going as from a—quote—“minor annoyance to egregious incompetent in a big hurry.”

Amy, do you think she was incompetent or is there something else going on? 

HENRY:  Well, I think that she just was a control freak.  She wanted to have the only creative input.  And she thinks she is an expert at everything. 

But I would recommend staying away from that Web site, because it is the meanest, most hateful, painful thing you can ever read.  And I think Nick would agree. 

WARNOCK:  But you can‘t help but read it every day.  Even if it‘s good or bad, you‘re reading it. 

STEWART:  Well, that‘s point.  Exactly.  It‘s fantastically snarky.

Go ahead, Nick. 

WARNOCK:  This is shaping up to being an Andy-Jen M. showdown I think for the finale.  And I‘m pumped to see it.  And I know my boy Andy is going to deliver a magnificent victory. 

STEWART:  All right, we want of course to play the final scene where they get in the cab.  Let‘s play it and get your reaction.  Love this. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We made it a long way.  We also learned an awful lot, so I don‘t have any regrets for this at all. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I absolutely have no absolutely regrets as well.  This has been a great experience.  I wouldn‘t trade it for anything in the world.  And if I had the opportunity to do it again, I would certainly do so. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And that is the first time I ever heard those words. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You do.  I have never been fired as well. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I would have at least liked my own cab. 



STEWART:  Got to love that line, right?

HENRY:  It was the best line of the show.  I laughed for 10 minutes after watching it.  It was a great episode. 

WARNOCK:  Really was really, really great.

STEWART:  We have noticed something.  Our COUNTDOWN sleuths have noticed that whenever a team has Kelly on it, Kelly and the team actually wins.  And I notice that Kelly is also the oldest of the bunch.  Do you think maturity plays in to how this game is played, Nick? 

WARNOCK:  Absolutely not.  It comes down to enthusiasm, charisma and just wanting to get in there and do a good job for Trump. 

This guy is old.  I don‘t like his leadership style.  And I think he‘s a little bit too arrogant for the organization.  So I see him going the next couple of weeks.  Go, Andy, go. 

HENRY:  My money is on Kelly.  He is taking it all the way. 

WARNOCK:  You‘re out of your mind.  No way. 

STEWART:  All right, well, you two, you can fight it out amongst yourselves.  We will check in with you again next week.  Thanks so much.  We do appreciate it. 

We are moving on to the entertainment news of “Keeping Tabs” and a story our last two guests might want to keep in mind—quoting here—

“See what it like to live the day and life of a true reality superstar.”  That was a big selling point on the eBay auction to spend one day with Trishelle, one of the stars of MTV‘s “Real World” Las Vegas.  The author included airfare to L.A., limo service, lunch at a fabulous restaurant, and a few hours of Trishelle oh-so-precious time. 

Unfortunately, the auction ended without a winning bid.  No one seemed willing to pay the price Trishelle and her management company were asking.  On a side note, the COUNTDOWN staff checked the eBay history of the seller in this auction and found his most recent transaction was for a hunk of dashboard from a ‘96 Ford Mustang.  It went for $29. 

And a strange update to a strange story we brought to you earlier this week about a stray kangaroo found roaming the streets of Port Saint Lucie, Florida.  He had a goat companion.  It turns out the animal was not actually a kangaroo.  It was a wallaroo.  Officials know this because the owner showed up yesterday to claim the beast.  Oh, and the owner is the artist formally known as Vanilla Ice.  We‘re not making this up.  Rob Van Winkle these days, far less lame, lives in the area and apparently keeps strange and exotic animals at his home.  He says the wallaroo named Bucky Buckaroo—this just gets better—along with Pancho the goat escaped from the yard on Saturday after his kids left a latch open on the gate.  I hate it when that happens. 

The D.C. Kissathon.  Here a kiss, there a kiss, everywhere a kiss, kiss.  What is the presidential PDA all about? 



GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Finally, APEC elected the president I could kiss. 

I gave Laura a kiss goodbye today.  I said, well, make it a good one, will you? 


BUSH:  I didn‘t need to say that. 

GEORGE MICHAEL, MUSICIAN (singing):  Tonight, the music seems so loud.  I wish that we could lose the crowd.  Maybe it‘s better this way.  We‘d hurt each other with the things we want to say.


STEWART:  All right, the off-center, the lip-lock, el beso, the smooch, no, those are not any kind of clues in some kinky board game.  Those are variations of the kiss, otherwise known as the buss. 

Our No. 1 story on the COUNTDOWN tonight, the Bush buss.  The controversy got started when the president kissed both female Cabinet appointees this week, Condoleezza Rice, and then Margaret Spellings.  She got what is known as the off-center lip kiss.  There we go.  Or was it really an accidental buss?

To help us figure out this whole affair, we are joined by Robert Givhan—Robin Givhan—excuse me—the style reporter for “The Washington Post,” who wrote a piece all about kissing and bussing in today‘s edition of her paper. 

Robin, I‘m so grateful to you for writing this article, because I thought I was the only one that was noticing that the president was planting a lot of sugar on people‘s lips and cheeks this week. 

ROBIN GIVHAN, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Alison, you were not alone.  You were absolutely not alone.  I myself became relatively obsessed with the presidential kissing. 

STEWART:  All right, let‘s talk about the one-cheek kiss vs. the off-center kiss, Condoleezza‘s kiss vs. the Spellings kiss. 

GIVHAN:  Exactly. 

Well, I think the Condoleezza kiss essentially went off as planned.  I think the president meant that as a warm greeting, a sign of congratulations.  And I think it also sort of symbolized the fact or reflected the fact that he is a traditional guy and felt that a kiss would be an appropriate way of congratulating a woman. 

But with the Margaret Spellings kiss, I think it went awry.  And I think he was probably going for the cheek and there was a sudden head movement and he landed a little too close to the lips. 

STEWART:  I hate it when that happens. 

GIVHAN:  Hate that when it happens.

STEWART:  All right, for the record, has the president ever planted a kiss on any other Cabinet secretary? 

GIVHAN:  You know, I did try do some research on the photographic record, and I have not yet been able to come up with an example of the president kissing another member of the Cabinet, a male member, I should say. 

STEWART:  Now, what I understand, that the president has been known to lay one on a bald head here and there.  Is he just a kissy guy? 


GIVHAN:  Well, I think he‘s a touchy-feely kind of guy.  And I also think that he has still got has a little bit of fraternity brother in him.  To kiss the bald head I think is sort of the equivalent of snapping a towel in a locker room.  I think it is kidding round.  It is not really meant, I don‘t think, as a sincere form of greeting. 

STEWART:  Well, we shouldn‘t be partisan about this. 

Let‘s take trip back in the way-back machine to Al and Tipper playing tonsil hockey at the Democratic National Convention.  Was this politically motivated?


GIVHAN:  I like to think that this was a guy who was just really overcome with the emotion of the situation and when presented with his wife, all that emotion just came gushing forth. 

STEWART:  Now, I know you are the style reporter in D.C.  Will the European double-cheek kiss solve the problems or is that just too French for this administration? 

GIVHAN:  Oh, it is absolutely too French.  It‘s far too continental.

But do I think that, if they engage—if he engaged in that, it would solve the problem, because the continental double-cheek kiss is used on both men and women, young and old.  It is genderless.  It is democratic.  It is intimate, but it‘s not too personal.  It is, I think, the perfect form of greeting when you want to go beyond a handshake and yet it still needs to be somewhat professional. 

STEWART:  Well, as a style reporter, I will take that to heart, Robert

·         Robin.  I keep on calling your Robert.  Robin Givhan.

GIVHAN:  That is my father. 

STEWART:  Well, tell him I said hello and big kiss to him, too. 


STEWART:  Star reporter for “The Washington Post,” we thank you so much for your time. 

GIVHAN:  A pleasure. 

STEWART:  And that is COUNTDOWN.  It is the big kiss-off for me. 

Thanks for tuning in this week.  Keith, he is back Monday. 

Have a great weekend. 



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