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'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Oct. 21st

Read the transcript to the Friday show

Guests: Craig Crawford, Wendy Murphy, Gene Carney, Michael Musto

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST:  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, warned they may be in “serious legal jeopardy,” and not the kind with music and Alex Trebek.

Hurricane Wilma, it continues to move with Flintstonian lack of speed. 

ETA in Florida, if it gets there, now Monday.

On the eve of the first Chicago White Sox World Series in 46 years, new information about the time before that, the time Shoeless Joe and the White Sox deliberately lost the World Series in 1919.  Well, maybe they did, and maybe they didn‘t.

And live, local, and late-breaking, it‘s the Mrs. Tom Cruise interview you‘ve been waiting to see.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  (INAUDIBLE), like, I mean, what‘s it like?  You‘re, you know, you‘re pregnant, you‘re, like, marrying a man you‘ve always dreamed of...

KATIE HOLMES:  It‘s amazing.  I‘m so happy.


OLBERMANN:  Yet another story that my producers are forcing me to cover.

All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.


TOM CRUISE:  We don‘t even (INAUDIBLE), we don‘t even know what (INAUDIBLE) is.


OLBERMANN:  Good evening.

This is Friday, October 21, just seven days until the grand jury investigating the CIA leak case expires.  You still need a hint?

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has just, just this week, launched a new Web site, we found out about today, a clearinghouse for documents related to the case.  Spokesman say we shouldn‘t read too much into that, it‘s, quote, “long overdue.”  Nor, I guess, should we read too much into the idea that if there aren‘t going to be indictments or something, they‘ll be shutting it down next week after just opening it up this week.

This isn‘t a blog, it isn‘t Pat‘s Day.  It‘s an official Department of Justice Web site.  It‘s well designed, well organized, and it has a big American flag on it.  And if it isn‘t designed to last past next Friday, bring back Senator William Proxmire‘s Golden Fleece Award for government waste.

That which might be coming to a special prosecutor‘s Web site near you listed today by “The New York Times,” possible charges of perjury, of obstruction of justice, of false statement, the Gray Lady reporting that White House aides Karl Rove and Lewis “Scooter” Libby have been advised they may be in, quote, “serious legal jeopardy.”

So much for Mr. Rove‘s lawyer, Robert Luskin, and his confidence that the fact that his client had not received a so-called target letter.  As far as we can tell, none of Mr. Libby‘s actions as described today by “The Los Angeles Times” appears criminal, but that may not be—make them any less disturbing.  Vice President Dick Cheney‘s chief of staff, so distraught, says the paper, about what Ambassador Joe Wilson was saying about the Bush administration, that, quote, “He monitored all of Wilson‘s television appearances and urged the White House to mount an aggressive public campaign against him,” even after the investigation had begun, according to former aides.

A former White House official telling “The L.A. Times,” “Scooter had a plan to counter Wilson and a passionate desire to do so.”  Countering Wilson apparently involved reading everything Wilson had to say about the Bush administration, including in the pages of “The Daily Iowan,” the student newspaper of the University of Iowa, where Wilson was quoted as calling Mr. Cheney, quote, “a lying son-of-a... “  Well, to borrow from former first lady Barbara Bush, let‘s just say it rhymes with “witch.”

That quotation was even e-mailed to me from the White House press office the day I was to interview Joe Wilson in May of last year.

Finally, there is the testimony of one of the reporters to whom Scooter Libby talked, Judith Miller of “The New York Times,” “The National Journal” reporting that her testimony about a June 23 meeting with Mr.  Libby happened about—only after the prosecutors had showed her Secret Service logs which indicated that she and Libby had indeed met on that day in Washington.  Her notebook recording that conversation happened to turn up in her office only after they reminded her about it.

It is only after we talk with our own Craig Crawford, also of “Congressional Quarterly,” that we here approach any kind of mental clarity.

Good evening, Craig.

CRAIG CRAWFORD, “CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY”:  Oh, my.  I‘ll talk extra-long so you can cut that Katie Holmes section.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, thank you, I appreciate the thought.

Reading the signs from the third base coach here, Fitzgerald has already said he will not release a report.  He launched a new Web site that has every key document in the case on it, and there‘s only a week to go, theoretically.

I don‘t want to jump way out on some sort of limb here.  But why would you open up a Web site if the thing was just going to vanish as of next Friday?

CRAWFORD:  It‘s hard to imagine he would launch a Web site just as he was ending the case.  It looks more like a site for the future.  And I don‘t think he‘s planning to start some sort of blog and forget those indictments.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, just leave the blogging to us.

Somebody filled in “The L.A. Times” kind of nicely on Scooter Libby‘s apparent one-man campaign against Ambassador Wilson.  The other day there was also a story about how Mr. Rove got his knowledge of Valerie Flame—

Plame—excuse me, I made the same mistake Judith Miller made—of Ms.  Plame.  Supposedly Rove got it from Libby.  Somebody knowledgeable is the source, or some persons knowledgeable are the sources of these leaks, and most leaks in politics are acts of self-defense.

Who might be defending themselves in this manner?

CRAWFORD:  Well, if you look at all the people who testified to this grand jury over the last two years, the ones that—at least the ones we know about, it‘s practically the entire high command of the White House.  There‘s even many of the former White House officials ended up testifying.  So they all have lawyers, presumably.  You don‘t go and testify to a grand jury without getting some counsel.

And those lawyers could be privy to the information.  I—it‘s pretty clear to me most of this leaking is coming from lawyers.  The other thing about it, Keith, is, it really looks to me like the floodgates are opening in all these off-the-record comments to “The New York Times,” “The Washington Post,” “L.A. Times,” from former administration officials, some in the administration, talking out of school in ways that this White House has never done.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, we‘re not hearing a lot about how Mr. Fitzgerald has set the tone for a leak-free investigation any more.  Something coincidental here, perhaps, from “The Providence Journal” today.  Let me just read it.

“A Rhode Island Republican Party fundraiser scheduled for tonight featuring Andrew H. Card, White House chief of staff, has been canceled because Card is spending the weekend with President Bush at the presidential retreat at Camp David.”  And they quote the local GOP chair, “All we know is that the White House called and said he had to be with the president, he needs to be at Camp David this weekend.”


OLBERMANN:  Gosh, that‘s a coincidence.

CRAWFORD:  Yes, absolutely.  You know, this speculation has almost become more than that.  I mean, there seems to be an expectation of indictments, and that those indictments will hit the White House, and that it will hit Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.  And if that happens, what we‘re talking about here are the top aides to the president and the vice president.  You know, Rove‘s title was deputy chief of staff, but in essence, he was much, much more than that.

So these are the people right at the feet of the president and the vice president.  And you got to wonder if this story goes even further.  It doesn‘t have far to go to get to the president and the vice president.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, unless there‘s somebody up in the dome of the Capitol we need to be looking at, somebody living up there like Quasimodo.

That brings to the last point out here, this campaign against Wilson that supposedly faded in the spring of 2004, meaning the talking points e-mail they sent me might have been the last shot fired, coincidentally.  This was supposed to be Scooter Libby‘s idea all by his lone self, and his boss didn‘t know about it?

CRAWFORD:  That‘s certainly the way things are looking now.  You know, they spent a lot of time together, Scooter Libby usually starts his day at the vice-presidential mansion.  And they often ride to the White House together.  They‘re very close.  It‘s hard to imagine something like this going on, as obsessed as he was, that he wouldn‘t have brought it up at some point.  But, of course, evidence of that, and evidence of any complicity of the vice president will be another matter altogether.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, there couldn‘t have been a “Who will bring me the head of this meddlesome priest?” kind of thing going on here at all.

CRAWFORD:  Yes, I think the thing to remember is, why were they trying to discredit Joseph Wilson?  I‘ll be interested to see if this prosecutor goes beyond just these individual acts and tries to allege some larger conspiracy to cover up false pretenses to go to war.  That‘s imaginable.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, that then becomes historically, this all becomes the Iraq war on trial.


OLBERMANN:  “Congressional Quarterly”‘s and MSNBC‘s Craig Crawford, enjoy your weekend.  And take our great thanks with you.

CRAWFORD:  All right.  Enjoy Katie Holmes.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, thanks.

And the word “DeLay” taking on a double meaning in that other high-profile political case tonight.  The arraignment of Congressman Tom DeLay on money-laundering and conspiracy charges, it has been unexpectedly been delayed.

The former majority leader in court in Austin, Texas, today, asking Judge Bob Perkins to recuse himself because Perkins donated money to, the liberal political group that, if you believe DeLay‘s lawyer, has been also selling T-shirts bearing the likeness of the congressman‘s mug shot, the judge replying that, A, he has not seen any such T-shirts, let alone bought one, and that, B, the last time he contributed to that group to the tune of 200 American dollars was before the last presidential election, when it was mostly helping Democratic nominee John Kerry, but Judge Perkins deferring further proceedings nonetheless.

As for the mug shot, smile for the camera, Mr. Congressman. denies the T-sell—T-shirt selling charge, despite the idea‘s potential as possibly the best Democratic fundraising tool of all time.  No smile igniting such consternation nor debate since the enigmatic grin, perhaps, of da Vinci‘s “Mona Lisa.”

Chip Reid thus taking on the dual role of congressional correspondent and art historian today.  He‘s in Austin for us tonight, covering all this.

Good evening, Chip, it‘s good to see you.

CHIP REID, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Good evening, Keith.  Good to see you.

OLBERMANN:  Before we get to Mr. DeLay in court today, let‘s begin with the basics.  Why is that man smiling, and why is the Democratic Party supposedly upset about him smiling?

REID:  Well, at first, I thought he was smiling because it was a stroke of genius.  I thought—I think everybody looked at that photo the first moment and thought, Wow, you know, we expected this guy with a, you know, a day‘s beard growth and sunken eyes and looking depressed and miserable, and the Democrats, of course, would run with it, and say, Here he is, the symbol of what‘s wrong with the Republican Party.

You look at it now, it‘s so simple.  It makes you wonder, what was Nick Nolte thinking?  Why didn‘t he comb his hair before he got that mug shot?  It is so simple.  He also did some research, though.  He went to Harris County, where they use a digital system.  They don‘t have the number across the bottom, they don‘t have the thing that measures how tall you are, and obviously they don‘t have a requirement that you do a profile.  There‘s nothing incriminating about it.  It looks like he just won the lottery or just had a Democrat for breakfast.

I mean, that is the happiest guy in town.  And the Democrats, I don‘t want the overplay it, it‘s not as though they are weeping now, but certainly it would have been a nice little piece of icing on the cake if they would have had that picture of him looking like some sort of miserable criminal for their political ads next year.  And they‘re not going to have that now.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, it‘s the best picture ever taken of him.  If they need—if they (INAUDIBLE) a Democrat, they need a picture of him looking meanspirited or something, there are many to choose among.  They just didn‘t get that one...

REID:  If I need a good picture, Keith, if you or I need a good picture, go to the Harris County Courthouse.  Get it taken there, you know.  You need an eight-by-10 color glossy, Harris County Courthouse, I think that‘s the place.

OLBERMANN:  But if Democratic strategy for winning back the House next year, or even just putting a dent in Tom DeLay, a long-standing dent, perhaps a disabling dent, hinges on him having scowled or not scowled in his mug shot, does that not imply that the strategy, the thing that has the dent in it, is the Democratic strategy?

REID:  Well, there certainly are some major dents in the Democratic strategy.  But as I said, I don‘t want to overstate the importance of this.  I mean, it might have been some icing on the cake, but it‘s not as though the Democrats were depending on this.  They‘re feeling pretty confident right now in a lot of ways, maybe foolishly confident.  They do feel they‘ve got the Republicans on the run.

But spending most of my time on Capitol Hill, they do also understand they don‘t have the kind of unifying, cohesive agenda that Newt Gingrich put together back—leading up to 1994.  They understand they‘ve got to work their tails off to get that.

And I‘m being bombarded by press conferences and press releases now up there on Capitol Hill, with Democrats talking about everything from education, to energy prices, to heating oil.

But they‘re hitting all the right issues that people are talking about, and they care about, but they still don‘t have that unifying theme, and they don‘t have a brilliant strategist like Newt Gingrich at some point.  And they understand that.  They do understand they have to put together an agenda, a positive agenda, not just a negative Republican agenda.

So I don‘t want to overstate the importance of that scowl they had been hoping for, but I‘m sure they do think it would have been nice, and they are disappointed.

OLBERMANN:  All right, let‘s tap into your legal expertise and tell me what happened in that courtroom today in Texas.

REID:  Oh, that‘ll be brief.

OLBERMANN:  And, I mean, what, when is something actually going to happen with Congressman DeLay and with Judge Perkins?  Is he going to be off this case?  And if so, why?

REID:  It‘s really unclear.  I thought one of the most interesting things was when Judge Perkins said that he had been thinking about it and mulling it over all night.  I mean, he‘s actually considering that it may be a possibility, that maybe he shouldn‘t be on this case.  I mean, he did weakly argue against having himself removed.  But he left open a possibility that maybe it was the right thing to do.

Now, this other judge, who‘s going to look at it, who is a Republican, by the way, is going to look at it sometime next week, they expect.  But it does not seem to be on any kind of huge fast track here.  And that‘s why DeLay‘s in a difficult position here, because, on the one hand, he obviously thought this was very important to do.  And also, seeking a change of venue, he thinks, is very important, because this, Austin, is the last liberal bastion in this whole state, probably.

But it‘s going to slow it down.  And if he slows this thing down too much, it‘s going to make it very difficult for him to get that job of majority leader back, even if he is eventually vindicated.

OLBERMANN:  Well, I guess the next stage is, we‘ll find out who that other judge has donated to, and we‘ll try to remember the day...

REID:  Exactly.

OLBERMANN:  ... when, you know, we‘ll remember that day when judges were either judges or not judges, as opposed to Democratic or Republican judges with...

REID:  Exactly.

OLBERMANN:  Chip Reid in Austin, Texas, always a pleasure, sir.  Stay well, and thanks for your time.

REID:  You bet.  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  One programming advisory, at the top of the hour, MSNBC‘s Rita Cosby will interview Tom DeLay in Texas.  That‘s Tom DeLay on “RITA COSBY LIVE And DIRECT,” just about 45 and a half minutes from now.

Speaking of waiting, there‘s also Wilma.  As the hurricane slams the Yucatan Peninsula, Florida gets yet another day to get out of the way, or not.  We‘ll have the latest forecast.

And the father of the newborn was convicted of a sex crime against teenaged girls 22 years ago.  The mother says she doesn‘t live with the father.  So can a Pennsylvania county take her newborn baby away from her, using the father‘s record as its reason?

You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN:  They call it the Mayan Riveria.  And as of this hour, it is under the control of Wilma.

Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN tonight, the 21st named storm of the year, a category 4 hurricane, has hit Mexico‘s Yucatan Peninsula.  Wilma made landfall this afternoon, the center of the storm‘s eye hitting the island of Cozumel, a popular way station for cruise ships, then moving on to Cancun.  Thus, 20,000 stranded tourists among those taking refuge in shelters, including gymnasiums and hotel ballrooms.

Meanwhile, officials issued the first evacuation orders for the Florida mainland today, part of Naples, as well as Marco Island.  Officials already had issued that order for much of the Florida keys, as Governor Jeb Bush declared a state of emergency.  Also at risk, Cuba.

NBC WeatherPlus meteorologist Bill Karins has been tracking this storm all week, and joins us again with the latest forecast.

Good evening, Bill.

BILL KARINS, NBC WEATHERPLUS METEOROLOGIST:  Oh, good Friday evening, Keith.  We‘re continuing to watch a category 4 storm.  New info just in from the Hurricane Center.  Still 140-mile-per-hour winds.  This is the painful part, it‘s moving to the northwest at three miles per hour.  So those people that are in Cancun, that are in that northern eyewall now, you‘re going to be in it for about 12 hours.  Imagine in a category 4 storm for 12 hours.  Just imagine how the damage is going to be there for those residents.

Well, here‘s that northern eyewall, this red circle right in here with the arrows pointing to it, that‘s Cancun, and the storm is just sitting over the top of that region.  And the problem for these people is that it‘s going to take forever for the storm to move.  You can watch the current motion.  It was moving, it was moving, and now it is pretty much just sat here and stalled, almost over the top of island of Cozumel, which is pretty interesting, because it‘s been in the eyewall for about six hours now.

As far as Florida is concerned, and, of course, that‘s where the storm‘s going to be headed, 2:00 p.m. on Monday, we think the worst of the weather should be going through the Florida keys, possibly a category 1 storm.  As we move on from that point, then we worry about the west coast of Florida, looks about 4:00 p.m. on Monday.  The good news for Florida, probably only a category 1 storm.

And this storm is going to be flying, breaking the speed limit in this region, because it will go through one side of Florida to the other in about six hours.  That‘s all it‘s going to take.  And then it should be out in the open Atlantic.  And then the storm should be moving at about 30 to 40 miles an hour, and then possibly up the East Coast at about 50 to 60 miles per hour.  So the storm is going to increase in forward speed dramatically.

We still have this little yellow cone of uncertainty along the east coast of Florida—or east coast of North Carolina, and also including Boston, Providence, and Hartford.  And the reason for that, and Keith loves these, all our computer models continue to show the storm turning up the Eastern Seaboard and some of them even bringing it up towards northern New England.

And Keith, just for your amusement, it looks like Alpha could possibly form over the weekend, south of Puerto Rico.

OLBERMANN:  Well, when we‘re getting out the Greek letters, it has been an awful season.  Bill Karins of NBC WeatherPlus, with his computer models.  Many thanks to all of you.

From dangerous weather to dangerous hobbies, crazy bee guy, everybody. 

He does weddings and bar mitzvahs.  Keep smiling.

And the Chicago White Sox about to experience something they have not in years, the World Series, meaning, we need to talk about the Black Sox, who threw the 1919 World Series.  Did they?

COUNTDOWN continues.


OLBERMANN:  We‘re back.  And for the final time this week, we pause our COUNTDOWN of the day‘s leak- and weather-related news for some good, old-fashioned gratuitous video and dumb criminal stories.

Let‘s play Oddball.

Taibu (ph), South Korea, hello.  All hail An Sung Yu (ph), master beekeeper.  Sung Yu?  No, Sung Yu.  We‘re not exactly sure why he decided to cover himself with 260,000 bees.  He wasn‘t going for the world record or anything, apparently he just likes bees.  We‘re just happy he videotaped it.  See Sung Yu do pushups covered with bees, see him ride a bike with bees.  See him run screaming away and jump into a lake.

He says his time as a beekeeper has actually made him immune from stings, so if they‘re poking, he‘s not impressed.  But we are.  A man-mountain of bees.

Across the Korea Strait to Japan, the world capital of disturbing new trends, this one really has us worried.  Young couples in Tokyo now have the opportunity to spend huge amounts of money to have Hello Kitty at their wedding, not just as an invited guest or bartender—as the maid of honor, with some other big cat there as best man.  They say it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  Damn it, a wedding is supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Anyway, Hello Kitty will show up to help calm the bride‘s nerves before the wedding, keep the rings in a safe place, and later, she‘ll hold the bride‘s hair when she‘s throwing up at the reception.

Finally, back home in Vail, Colorado, for some criminals so dumb, they must have been imported from Australia.  They were, actually.  Two dolts from Down Under who came to work at the Vail Hotel and robbed a local bank there, and then take pictures of themselves holding the money,  $130,000 neatly fanned out, as you saw.  They robbed the bank with unloaded BB guns, then escaped on a chairlift at a nearby ski resort.  They were caught at the Denver Airport trying to get on a plane to Mexico, hopefully without the cash in their hands.

And there you have what we think may be the smartest Australians on the planet.

Sorry, Australia.  Sorry.

Also tonight, 20 years ago, he was accused of attacking two teenaged girls.  Now a Pennsylvania county says his newborn child is not safe around him, so they‘ve taken it away from the mother, who says she does not live with that man.

And baby news of a much different kind.  Katie Holmes exclusive superblockbuster interview as a glowing mom-to-be.  Nice hat.  Or is that the brainwashing talking?  We‘re just kidding.  You can put the hat back on.

Those stories ahead.

But now here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers of this day.

Number three, the unnamed executive in charge of numbering for Topps baseball cards.  He has conceded what some of us had suspected.  In the Topps total baseball card set of 2002, card number 666 was Byung-Huyn Kim.  In 2003, number 666 was Troy Percival, 2004, 666 was Josh Beckett, 2005, number 666 was Keith Foulke, and for the 2006 set, it appears number 666 will be Ervin Santana.  So somebody‘s got to get that number.  He‘s got to get Satan‘s area code on the back of their baseball card.

Well, Kim, Percival, Beckett, Foulke, and Santana were the pitchers most responsible in their respective seasons for eliminating the New York Yankees from the playoffs.  The man in charge of numbering the cards is a Yankee fan.  This is his revenge.

Number two, not to make fun of bird flu, but when it becomes a Monty Python sketch, hi, there‘s no way to avoid it.  A case has been reported at a bird quarantine in London.  A quarantined bird imported from South America has died of bird flu.  It was a parrot, a dead parrot.  No, no, it‘s not dead, it‘s just resting.  It‘s pining for the fjords.

Number one, Steve York of U.C.-San Diego.  He started season two of his on-campus TV show, during which he spends half an hour having sex with an adult entertainer.  See, in conventional cable TV, Steve, the host usually just does that to the (INAUDIBLE).


OLBERMANN:  It is not easy and perhaps it never will be.  The question of how to keep convicted sex offenders away from children.  But our third story in the COUNTDOWN tonight, a court has granted an emergency order, essentially barring a woman from taking her newborn baby home because her husband is himself a convicted child sex offender, a husband, the mother claims, she does not live with. 

The emergency court authorized Children and Youth Services of Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, to take the child from the mother 24 hours after delivery.  County officials had contended that the child would be unsafe because his father, DaiShin WolfHawk, is a convicted sex offender, 53-year-old man who was convicted of rape and sodomy in 1973.  The victims were two teenaged girls.

In a hearing today, that emergency court order was extended by Schuylkill County common pleas Judge Charles Miller for 10 days.  The baby has been placed in a foster home.  The mother, Melissa WolfHawk, has visitation rights and also she has an ACLU lawyer. 

Though the original court order was presumably based on the father‘s past crimes, the county had also produced two other documents damaging to both parents.  Doctors report that Melissa WolfHawk had acknowledged using cocaine and methamphetamine, and had once worked as a prostitute.  And a New York parole document indicating that Mr. WolfHawk had sexually abused his daughter.

Let‘s call in Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor now in private practice, whose cases then and now specialize in child abuse and sex crimes. 

Wendy, it‘s good to see you.  Good evening. 

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR:  Nice to see you, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  We spoke with Ms. WolfHawk‘s lawyer, Mary Catherine Roper, who said that this woman and her husband have not lived in the same house for years and that Ms. WolfHawk did not plan on giving him any access to the child unless the order allowed it.  So why is the draconian treatment of her necessary in this equation?

MURPHY:  Well, it‘s hard to answer that question fully, because, as you know, a lot of what the state knows is confidential by law, which is unfortunate.  When the ACLU comes out and starts smacking everybody around for violating her civil rights, we can‘t talk about what the state knows about the bad things she‘s done.

But we know about the drugs.  This guy has had two other victims, separate incidents.  They were children.  They were raped.

She lost custody of a 21-month-old child, apparently also his child.  And that doesn‘t happen with nothing on the slate.  So I think we have to assume that bad things have happened beyond just that he‘s a sex offender that do implicate her ability to be a responsible parent to this new baby.

OLBERMANN:  Drawing all of it out, though, to the logical conclusion, would the mother have to wind-up divorcing this man in order to regain custody of her own child? 

MURPHY:  I‘m not sure it depends on the status of their marriage.  I think what really is the problem is that she‘s clearly likely to give him access to this child.  And he has a demonstrated history of doing very bad things to children. 

You know, so many people have argued that she likes the guy, she doesn‘t think he‘s a beast, and she should be allowed to make the judgment about who she spends her life with and who, you know, she allows her children to be around. 

But, look, I could care less that the guy has already served his time.  That doesn‘t mean—just because he‘s paid his debt to society—that he‘s safe.  In fact, I could care less if he had been acquitted.  I‘ve got five kids.  I wouldn‘t let any one of them near the guy within miles. 

And, frankly, the fact that he‘s capable of biologically creating children doesn‘t mean that his own offspring are any less entitled to the same protection that I afford my children.

Because it isn‘t about him.  He doesn‘t own his children.  They‘re entitled to be protected.  It‘s a state‘s responsibility to protect kids from harm even at—and, in fact, especially at the hands of their parents, because the kind of abuse we‘re talking about happens behind closed doors.  It isn‘t easy to police. 

Ninety percent of child sex abuse is never reported.  By the time we find out even one incident, usually that guy has upwards of 100 victims under his belt before he gets caught the first time.  That‘s way too much harm to tolerate in the name of saying, “Well, the guy‘s paid his debt.  Let‘s give him a blank slate.”

He doesn‘t get a blank slate.  He gets our harsh judgment, probably for the rest of his life. 

OLBERMANN:  But, forgetting him, what about the mother?  Does she have to be kept away from the baby in order to punish this man? 

MURPHY:  Well, again, it‘s unclear to me exactly why they‘re as suspicious of her, but she‘s shown more than bad judgment if she became pregnant by the very man that fathered her 21-month-old child and she lost custody of that child. 

Look, just because the kid, born just within the past day or so, has a mother with very bad judgment, doesn‘t mean we should subject him to that mother‘s bad future decisions, especially because it seems likely that she will expose that child to future harm, given what we know about her, and it isn‘t very much. 

OLBERMANN:  Wendy Murphy, professor at the New England School of Law, founder and director of the victim advocacy and research group, as always, Wendy, great thanks. 

MURPHY:  You bet. 

OLBERMANN:  Also tonight, the White Sox take to the field in their first World Series in four and a half decades with the ghost of “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and the year the Black Sox intentionally lost the World Series over their shoulders.  But did they intentionally lose the World Series? 

And have you seen this policeman?  A member of the Village People, now he‘s a member of the wanted people.  Those stories ahead. 

But, first, your COUNTDOWN‘s top three sound bites of this day.


JAY LENO, HOST, “THE TONIGHT SHOW”:  Hey, you remember when you were in school, and you didn‘t know the answer to a question, so you would talk around the question?  Harriet Miers filled out a questionnaire.  And here‘s President Bush responding to a question about her questionnaire. 

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The questionnaire that she filled out is an important questionnaire.  And, obviously, they will address the questions that the senators have in the questionnaire, as a result of the answers to the questions in the questionnaire. 

MEGAN HALAVAIS, SHARK ATTACK VICTIM:  The water was really glassy, really calm, really clear, like you could see straight to the bottom.  And it was weird.  I was sitting out there thinking, “Wow, this feels shark-y to me.”  It was just straight out of Jaws.”

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And that‘s why they‘re following—now, that looks to me like some sort of det cord.  It looks to me know like they‘re going to blow it up. 

RON REAGAN, MSNBC HOST:  You‘re right, Pete, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It looks like some sort of fusing material, perhaps.  This is not going to do much good to the rental car. 

REAGAN:  I was going to say the rental car agency must be thrilled by all of this.


OLBERMANN:  It‘s the eve of the first appearance ever in baseball‘s World Series for the Houston Astros and of the first appearance for the Chicago White Sox since 1959. 

But in our number two story on the COUNTDOWN, if you‘ve ever heard those terms, White Sox and World Series, in the same sentence before, it‘s likely because you were hearing the story of how the 1919 team, led by the legendary, almost mythical “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, sold out their owners and their fans, and deliberately lost, threw the World Series. 

It‘s an epic story.  The problem is, much of it isn‘t true.  It was immortalized in first the book, then the great movie “Eight Men Out,” how small-time crooks using the name of, if not necessarily the money of, the notorious gamble Arnold Rothstein, corrupted the so-called Black Sox, starting with first baseman Chick Gandil and shortstop Swede Risberg, spreading to the starting pitchers Eddie Cicotte and Lefty Williams, and netting outfielders Joe Jackson and Happy Felsch, and bringing in third baseman Buck Weaver and utility man Fred McMullin, who don‘t seem to have done anything wrong, besides knowing about it and not ratting on their teammates. 

But Cicotte and Shoeless Joe confessed.  The scandal broke nearly a year later in the waning days of the 1920 pennant race.  All eight players acquitted in court were nonetheless banned from baseball for life. 

It is a great story.  Unfortunately, it turns out much of what has come to be accepted about it as fact just isn‘t true.  Some of the banished players tried to expose the fix.  Most of the games executives tried to cover the whole thing up. 

That‘s the subject of an upcoming book written by my next guest.  It‘s called “Burying the Black Sox:  How Baseball‘s Cover-up of the 1919 World Series Fix Almost Succeeded,” by Gene Carney.

Gene, good evening.  Thanks for your time. 

GENE CARNEY, AUTHOR, “BURYING THE BLACK SOX”:  Well, thanks for having me. 

OLBERMANN:  First things first, that big picture question that still sits with us.  Best of nine series, 1919 Cincinnati Reds defying 3-1 odds to beat the White Sox five games to three.  Should anybody be certain that gamblers or crooked players were entirely responsible for that outcome?

CARNEY:  Yes, I think we can be certain that there was definitely tampering going on for that World Series.  As to which games were thrown, that‘s a different question, how many games were thrown.

OLBERMANN:  “Shoeless” Joe Jackson—yes, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson is the player who most readily comes down to us through history.  That‘s a picture right there of him actually on the field snapped by a fan during the 1919 World Series, the man with the third-highest batting average of all time, illiterate mill-hand from South Carolina, thrown out of the game and resuscitated, if you will, as the fictional character in “Field of Dreams.”

Was he one of the fixers?  Was he one of the people who tried to expose the fix?  Where does he fit in all this? 

CARNEY:  That‘s a very good question.  I don‘t think he‘s the easiest one to explain. 

His situation is very complicated.  His name was certainly mixed up in the rumors.  He did not sit in on any of the planning meetings.  He apparently tried to talk to his team about it before the series.  Perhaps he asked to be benched before game one, tried to show the money to his team right after the series. 

He did not confess to the grand jury, although that is what was reported in the press.  So it‘s a very complicated, ambiguous story.  Joe Jackson is very complicated. 

OLBERMANN:  Now, I just made that mistake, too.  And I have read your manuscript.  And I said it anyway, that “Shoeless” Joe Jackson confessed to throwing games.  I read it, and that‘s not really the case, is it?

CARNEY:  That‘s correct.  He denied that.  He went to the grand jury to give his story, to protest his innocence.  So when it came out in the media, he followed Eddie Cicotte, who probably did confess. 

So the media assumed he did.  And when I say, I mean the press.  And so he immediately insisted he did not confess, and that‘s also what the foreman of the grand jury agreed on later on. 

OLBERMANN:  And yet we have this other story coming to us through history.  The key missing ingredient lost to history, that the owners, particularly the owner of the White Sox, did their best to cover all this up, even going so far as to sacrifice their star players to do this?  Why did they do it? 

CARNEY:  Well, baseball, by 1919, was a million-dollar industry.  And they certainly wanted to save that. 

So they had to save the game‘s image.  So they had to act as if nothing happened.  And then, when it became clear that something did happen, they had to pretend that this was the only thing that happened, that nothing happened before the 1919 series, and hopefully nothing after. 

OLBERMANN:  And certainly they had to make it look like there was nothing they could have done to have prevented it while it was in progress.  And I gather one conclusion that you have reached is that somebody could have stepped in, at least after the second game, and perhaps a little later, and actually stopped this, if it was indeed a fix? 

CARNEY:  Well, I think they probably could have stopped it before game one.  There‘s some evidence that, even before game one, they probably knew that the series was being tampered with.  Hugh Fullerton, the reporter who usually gets credit for uncovering the fix, tried to go to Comiskey and to Ban Johnson, was not successful. 

OLBERMANN:  Gene Carney, the book is called “Burying the Black Sox.” 

It will be out early next year.  Thank you, sir, for your time. 

CARNEY:  OK.  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  And from resuscitating the Black Sox to some degree, we pulled back the sequined veil of entertainment news with the stories of keeping tabs, beginning with another case of good cop gone sadly bad. 

A judge today in Redwood City, California, issuing an arrest warrant for Victor Willis.  He‘s the policeman from the Village People.  Mr. Willis was scheduled to appear this morning for sentencing on drugs and weapons charges, but he never showed up, although you can see they were looking for him.  Perhaps he was at the YMCA or in the Navy. 

A man wearing that uniform really should have known better.  Now he‘s in even big trouble.  Williams was arrested in July after police found a gun and what they believe to be crack cocaine in his car during a traffic stop. 

His attorney says he got a message from the former Village person saying he was scheduled for surgery today and thus would not be able to attend the hearing.  Well, no problem then.

From the missing macho man to the creepy arranged marriage of a famous American couple.  No, not Tom and Katie.  We‘ll get to that after the break.  We‘re talking about Ken and Barbie.

They‘re a couple again, apparently.  The corporate suits at Mattel have decided the two should give it another go.  You may remember they split up in 2004 after 43 years together, but a hot new stud stepped on to the scene, Blaine, the Australian boogie-boarder.  But he‘s so plastic!  He‘s so plastic! 

After a year together, no one is buying Blaine dolls.  Ken, set for a makeover to try to win Barbie back.  As for her, she apparently does not much care which guy they stick her with, because, we‘re all clowns, I guess. 

Play the next tape.  A blockbuster interview tonight at number one that my producers are forcing me to do.  Katie Holmes talks about life with Tom, the wedding plans, and the little TomKat on the way.  A lot of words.  Very few syllables.  Michael Musto will explain why we need to care. 

That‘s ahead. 

But first, time for COUNTDOWN‘s list of today‘s three nominees to become the title of worst person in the world. 

At the bronze level, the two gun-wielding men who burglarized a donut shot in Everett, Washington.  They were dressed as clowns, full clown makeup.  They‘re now being pursued by the group Insane Clown Posse. 

At the silver level, the unnamed meter maid in Maroondah, Australia.  She ticketed a parked car in that city, noticing the license plate, the make, and the violation, but not noticing the body of the dead guy slumped over the steering wheel. 

Thank you.

The winner?  Brownie, former FEMA Director Michael Brown.  You may remember the national shock when it was revealed that, after his performance in New Orleans, he was still on the FEMA payroll, having been given 30 more days to get documents together for the post-Katrina FEMA post mortem. 

Guess what?  He needed more time.  So he‘s been given another 30-day contract.  We‘re still paying for him.  How can we miss you if you won‘t go away?  You know what?  The president was right.  Brownie, you are doing a heck of a job.  Michael Brown, FEMA director emeritus, today‘s worst person in the world.


OLBERMANN:  It‘s the story that just keeps on giving.  It gives my producers fits of glee.  It gives me agita. 

Our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, another one my producers are forcing me to do, an exclusive interview with Katie Holmes.  Mom and Mrs.  Tom Cruise-to-be scored by the “Today Show‘s” Maria Menounos at a fashion show in Hollywood last night. 

Michael Musto helps us deconstruct in a moment.  By the way, the over-under on this thing for amazing is four.


KATIE HOLMES, ACTRESS:  We‘re so excited. 

MARIA MENOUNOS, “TODAY SHOW” CORRESPONDENT:  I mean, what‘s it like?  You know, you‘re pregnant.  You‘re, like, marrying the man you‘ve always dreamed of.  Such a story book... 

HOLMES:  It‘s amazing.  I‘m so happy.  It‘s a dream come true.  I feel great.  I‘m beaming.  And I‘m just so excited. 

MENOUNOS (voice-over):  It‘s truly a thrilling time for Katie Holmes.  She and Tom announced their pregnancy just two weeks ago.  And Katie and I shared a little girl talk. 

(on-screen):  So are you guys going to start putting together a baby room and stuff? 

HOLMES:  Yes, we‘re getting that together.  I‘m learning how to knit. 

MENOUNOS (voice-over):  Does that mean baby booties?  And when will the happy couple, who got engaged in Paris in June, tie the knot? 

(on-screen):  So have you started putting wedding plans together? 

HOLMES:  We are.  We‘ve not got a date just yet.  But there‘s so much excitement going on, it‘s just amazing. 

MENOUNOS:  It‘s your first one.  I can imagine you‘re going to have, like, the biggest wedding ever. 

HOLMES:  It‘s exciting.  We don‘t know yet, but we‘re thrilled. 

MENOUNOS:  What does Tom say? 

HOLMES:  He‘s thrilled. 

MENOUNOS:  Is he filming right now? 

HOLMES:  He‘s filming “MI-3.”

MENOUNOS:  Do you get to visit him often? 

HOLMES:  Yes, I‘m on my way right now. 


OLBERMANN:  Hold on a second.  Maria Menounos of the “Today Show,” blinded by the brilliance that is Katie Holmes.

Speaking of which, “Village Voice” columnist and friend of COUNTDOWN Michael Musto joins me now.  Good evening, Michael. 


This is amazing.  I‘m so excited!

OLBERMANN:  Yes, me, too.  Those who theorized that Ms. Holmes was brain-washed by the Scientologists, the answer obviously is now, “No, even brain-washers need something to work with.” 

MUSTO:  Yes, this is like a car wash without a car.  I mean, how do you clean the slate when the slate‘s already clean? 

And what I love is also this woman now is hanging around Katie as kind of—maybe a Scientology provider or something.  And she‘s Jude Law‘s old nanny.  Do you know that, Keith?  She landed another gig.  Isn‘t that great? 

And she‘s obviously rehearsing for the role of Mrs. Danvers in “Rebecca.”  You know, “Look out the window, Rebecca.  Jump, jump!”  It‘s sad. 

OLBERMANN:  So, lest we forget without constant reminding here, I don‘t know if we‘ve heard this, but Ms. Holmes is apparently with child and learning to knit.  Is that pretty much conclusive evidence—is that, as we‘ve said in sports, “ball game over,” the movie career is at an end? 

MUSTO:  No, the movie career is amazing.  I‘m really excited. 


She did a movie called “Thank You for Smoking,” which is weird for a supposedly pregnant woman.  You know, she pulled out a movie, yes.  The movie career is over. 

She pulled out of a movie called “Shame on You.”  But there is no shame on Katie for doing that, because I actually think knitting is more fulfilling than doing some of these lousy movies.  And she actually, from what I hear, drew lots with Tom, and he lost.  So she gets to do the fun knitting and he has to do “Mission Impossible:  3.”

OLBERMANN:  The wedding, when last we spoke about this topic, it was rumored to have been pushed up to November in Cancun.  Obviously, the theme would have to be now hurricane chic.  Is that what we‘ve expecting from the wedding? 

MUSTO:  Yes, it‘s a tragedy, all right?  But it‘s amazing.  I‘m very excited.  And Katie is knitting little raincoats for the bridesmaids as we speak, despite the fact that the hurricane, obviously, is retribution for this event, shall we say?

And Tom and Katie probably should have just run off to Tijuana and get a quickie.  But then the hurricane would just followed them there.  And that would destroy all those pot supplies, which we‘re all going to need to get through this thing. 

OLBERMANN:  And, by the way, I don‘t know that anybody‘s ever used the term “quickie” in any context when it applies to Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.  But we‘ll just let that pass. 

The rumors of the house-hunting now is that, in Ms. Holmes‘ native area, the beautiful city of Toledo, Ohio, is that a big Scientology area?  Does that merit the phrase, “Holy Toledo”? 

MUSTO:  No, actually it‘s “Holy Toledo” only because of the Catholic presence.  Let‘s not forget that Katie went to Catholic school.  I‘m sure her old friends are going to be very delighted to see her.  They‘re going to nail her to the cross. 

But, meanwhile, I hear that Tom—don‘t try to interrupt me, Keith—

Tom has gotten the wrong memo.  He thinks he‘s getting married in Toledo, Spain.  But wherever it is, it‘s going to be amazing, amazing.  I‘m excited! 

OLBERMANN:  Why give them—why give the Holmes‘ family, which has already been a little outlandish in their comments about this—they‘re going to show up with pitchforks and flaming torches for this wedding—why give them a short bus ride to the wedding or to the new home, anyway? 

MUSTO:  Well, I don‘t think they will be invited, actually, because they publicly expressed disapproval.  So it doesn‘t matter if it‘s happening in their actual home, they won‘t be allowed to attend it, no matter how exciting and amazing and how beaming I am. 

OLBERMANN:  There you go.  Michael Musto of the “Village Voice,” who once remarked that the reason he likes to come on this show is because we let him talk and nobody interrupts him.  And tonight, I interrupted him.  I‘m sorry. 

MUSTO:  You have great pretzels here, too. 

OLBERMANN:  That‘s good.  I‘m glad to know that.  Send some of them over. 

MUSTO:  They‘re exciting!

OLBERMANN:  And, and, and... 

MUSTO:  Not to repeat joke and drive it to death. 

OLBERMANN:  OK, all right.  Thank you, Michael. 

MUSTO:  Thank you. 

OLBERMANN:  That‘s COUNTDOWN.  I‘m Keith Olbermann.  Keep your knees loose, good night, and good luck.

Our MSNBC coverage continues now from Houston with Rita Cosby, LIVE &


Good evening, Rita.


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