'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for March 4
Guest: Keith Naughton, Martine Colette, Jack Curry
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Free at last. Free to have cappuccino. Well, free to think cappuccino.
MARTHA STEWART, FOUNDER, MARTHA STEWART LIVING OMNIMEDIA: I didn't miss cappuccino at all. Just the idea I missed. The idea of cappuccino.
OLBERMANN: For this we sent 814 reporters to stay up all night at Camp Cupcake and Martha's farm?
The real story. What she wants to do next and what these incredibly intricate house arrest rules allow her to do next.
Next in steroids. Hearings on Capitol Hill. But the players are invited, not subpoenaed. And they did not invite Barry Bonds.
Iraq, the good news: somebody was reportedly planning to overthrow Saddam two years ago. The bad news: that somebody was his crazy son, Uday.
And speaking of crazy, chimps attack people at a birthday party for one of the chimps. Isn't this how "Planet of the Apes" started?
All that and more now on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: Good evening.
It is certain of that all the convicts in all the prisons of all the wormed who have ever emerged from captivity and been returned to society, not one before Martha Stewart today was ever greeted by the news that their new syndicated daytime household hints TV show was going to be seen in 85 percent of the country this fall.
Our fifth story on the Countdown, Martha Stewart living under house arrest. The details of that house arrest, and those details are doozies, in a moment.
First, the day after the night of the great escape. One of Martha Stewart's neighbors in Bedford, New York, reports Countdown that at about 5 this morning, the ground began to shake from beneath the home from all the news helicopters circling Stewart's estate.
And that the family across the street from the high doyenne of household hints either donated or, more likely, rented its parking area to the media so that we could get these breathless words of the meaning of freedom. This celebration of liberty from the ex-con herself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you have for breakfast?
STEWART: I haven't had breakfast yet. The only thing I've been dreaming about is a cappuccino. And this is a funny story. All - we asked the guards every day for a cappuccino. You know, just as a joke. And they would come in with their cups of coffee and stuff. And so I get here and I have a spot for a cappuccino machine, and it didn't work. So now I don't have any cappuccino.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should we get you one?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Work's tough.
STEWART: I didn't miss the cappuccino at all. It's the idea I missed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you miss?
STEWART: The idea of cappuccino.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The idea?
STEWART: I didn't miss the cappuccino.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The four freedoms. Freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, freedom to think of cappuccino.
But the concept of the woman who is the last word in the kitchens of America having a broken cappuccino machine at home can be devastating. In fact, shares in Martha Stewart Omnimedia dropped $3.20 today, more than nine percent of their value.
Under terms of the next five months, her house arrest, we believe Ms. Stewart is entitled to drink cappuccino if she so chooses. She just can't go out and buy one. We say believe because the rules so restrictive and precise that it always seems accept that the word cappuccino is not specifically mentioned in them.
OLBERMANN (voice-over): But they do mention trips to the grocery store. Shopping off the Bedford estate is permitted, along with trips to church or for work or to go to her primary resident in Westport, Connecticut, or to go visit the good old probation officer. Unless he's serving, though, she can't go and get a cappuccino.
There's also the provision allowing her off the grounds in the event of medical treatment. Always a possibility when you have an electronic tracking ankle bracelet shackled to your leg.
Regardless, total time away from the house during house arrest is topped off at 48 hours a week. But certainly there must be some "gotta get out of here, gotta get out of the house" exceptions?
On exceptions, says the top probation officer in Manhattan, there are no exceptions.
There are also strict rules on the estate. This whole idea about going to prison when he did so she'd be out in time for the spring planting season? Well, wait until next year. She's not supposed to go outside her main house.
Our friendly probation expert, Christopher Stanton of the "on exceptions there are no exceptions" remark, he adds helpfully, "Home confinement means home confinement."
Stanton says, in short, she cannot do any gardening. He seemed to leave a loophole open. I have this picture of her leaning out the window, telling other people how to garden.
Inside the house, restrictions are looser. She can use the phone, although calls to stockbrokers would probably be discouraged. She can work as listening as she stays inside. Anybody Martha fires from "The Apprentice," they will have to be fired indoors.
She may have visitors. But nobody with a criminal record. So, 50 Cent is apparently off the invite list and so, too, all her new pals from Camp Cupcake.
And if there are parties, they may turn out to be really dull affairs. For the length of the house arrest, no booze. She has to undergo urine tests. This could also impede some of the better recipes, although Mop & Glo might make an interesting substitute in the Bananas Flambe.
And amid all the restrictions, one area does seems unlimited. As long as she stays indoors, doesn't leave for more than 48 hours a week, wears that bracelet and goes to see "Mr. Home confinement means home confinement," they will let her make all the money she wants.
OLBERMANN: At least every time she leaves Bedford, New York, she will not draw as much media attention as she did when she left prison last night. It's not like we're trying to absolve ourselves of responsibility for any of this, MSNBC was live just like everybody else. Of course, we had more stories and more angles.
But really, this was a woman being driven from a minimum security prison to an airport. They asked me if I wanted to anchor it, and I said, "I'm sorry. My grandmother's on fire." Thus it fell to, and I apologize to him profusely, Dan Abrams to narrate this TV milestone here last night.
Yes, there was not a lot to see. So let's look at the highlights.
DAN ABRAMS, HOST, "THE ABRAMS REPORT": You are looking live at the Alderson Federal Prison in West Virginia, where at any moment, Martha Stewart is going to emerge, having served her time.
I hate to be one of these people that sort of like watches a picture and starts to try and analyze it, but you know what, you know, it's 2:15 Eastern Time. We're sitting outside the prison and Martha Stewart. So when a door open in the van, I want to know what's going on.
There's a car leaving with tinted windows.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It went by pretty fast.
ABRAMS: Ran a stop sign. That would be another crime right there.
If that was Martha Stewart driving that car, that could be trouble.
Just to make sure that we end up as a skit for "Saturday Night Live," John Zedo (ph), our own producer, is actually in a car, I believe, following Martha Stewart to the airport. John, is that right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Dan. I can't confirm it was actually her car.
ABRAMS: Oh, unfortunately, we have lost John Zedo (ph), who is on the phone. And so we will no longer be getting reports from John on the progress of those cars going to the airport.
We will take a moment of silence, as we watch who will emerge from this car.
There she is. Martha Stewart, getting on the plane to begin - you hear the cheers. Waving to the handful of fans there, there with her daughter. And so it's official, Martha Stewart is now on the plane.
Here is the statement that I will now read from Martha Stewart. This is actually - you know what, we're going to have to reprint that because this is cut off on the edges. So it says, "The experience of the last something - all right." The last - hang on.
The plane is in the air.
OLBERMANN: The plane. The plane.
So if, as it is said, the past is but preamble, what are the next few chapters going to be like for Martha Stewart? I'm joined now by Keith Naughton who wrote the cover story on her for the current edition of "Newsweek."
Mr. Naughton, good evening.
KEITH NAUGHTON, "NEWSWEEK": Good evening, Keith.
I asked - I asked her biographer, Christopher Byron, last night how she pulled off this comeback, and he said she didn't, the media did. But is that really true? Just because we live in a time when almost any publicity is just a photo op, you still have to take advantage of that. How did she take advantage of that?
NAUGHTON: This is not a media invention. No, the media loves a comeback story as much as the next. We like them to go down and come back up.
But really, what we have here is Martha, a year ago during her darkest hour was sewing the seeds of her come back. She hooked up with Mark Burnett and did that TV deal. She hooked up with Susan Lyne, the ABC executive, who you know, deliciously green-lighted "Desperate Housewives." She hooked up with a guy named Charles Koppelman (ph), who has helped Michael Jackson and Steve Madden, the imprisoned shoe executive.
So she got a whole team around her and now we're seeing the fruits of that labor. They're starting to stage manage her comeback. And - and you know, she's looking great.
OLBERMANN: Are there still potential roadblocks ahead for that looking great part? I mean, the assumption that the core businesses are going to go well, yet the stock price dropped today, as we said, by nearly 10 percent.
She's going to go into prime time television doing an "Apprentice" style show. She's never succeeded in prime time television. A lot of people from daytime who try prime time explode. What if her version of "The Apprentice" were to, in fact, bomb?
NAUGHTON: Yes, you know, here's the thing. She's going to get a huge audience initially, just out of curiosity. But everyone will be tuning in to see if Martha is truly a changed woman, if she has been humbled and humanized by this prison experience.
So in order to sustain that huge audience that she gets, she needs to deliver the goods. She can't just return to sort of the icy queen of perfection that we all knew and loved to hate. She has to be this new humble Martha, and she's showing had a already, talking about cappuccino machines and showing up in that, you know, very cool-looking poncho last night with those jeans. And, you know, she looks great.
OLBERMANN: Yes, but if she enjoys the firings too much, it could all unravel quickly.
But let me ask you the final question here. Is there a big-picture story in this Martha Stewart comeback? Have - does it say that we have moved into a time when, if you're on television and your ratings are good and you have not used a weapon while committing a crime, you are somehow immune?
NAUGHTON: Well, she's at the nexus of two things we love in society. We love a comeback as much as we love a comeuppance, which is what she's had both of. And we are enthralled by polarizing figures. Just look at our president. Look at Hillary. Over and over again, people who we love or love to hate are the ones we are fascinated by and just want to, you know, watch every twist and turn of their lives.
OLBERMANN: An excellent point. Keith Naughton of "Newsweek." Great thanks for your time tonight, sir.
NAUGHTON: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: There is another legal case, of course, in which no amount of evidence would convince millions of the defendant's faithful that he'd be guilty of anything. It's your tax and entertainment dollars in action, day 473 of the Michael Jackson investigation.
It's the second day of testimony from the sister of his accuser. The college freshman testifying to personality changes she saw in her brother after his prolonged exposure to the pop star. Quote, he did not want to be hugged, he did not want to be kissed.
She went on to describe alleged intimidation by Jackson employees:
videotaping her, she said, while she walked from school, throwing rocks at the home where she was staying. But under cross-examination by defense attorney Thomas Mesereau, she was unable to explain why the incidents had not been reported to the authorities.
As he left the court, Jackson gave reporters another terse assessment of things. Quote, "It's going real good."
The week marked not only the start of the trial itself, but also the start of the E! network's nightly recreations of the testimony in it. Countdown has its own high-priced, controversial, fraudulent coverage of the Jackson trial, Michael Jackson Puppet Theater.
Tonight, our sophisticated infotainment techniques take us inside the mind of the defendant, as he reviews the first four days of courtroom action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They made us watch some kind of TV documentary.
It was a rerun. Ooh, I love this part. "Billy Jean."
If you heard them saying I was crying, I was not crying. I don't even have tear ducts any more.
But the best part so far was when Mr. Mesereau told the jury that I look at girlie magazines. Woo-hoo!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Michael Jackson Puppet Theater.
Even Michael Jackson's beloved pet Bubbles got too wild to actually play with him any more. Now a brutal attack in California graphically demonstrating just how dangerous chimpanzees can be.
And an Italian journalist finally freed by her hostage takers in Iraq, only to be shot and wounded moments later by American soldiers.
You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: What should have been a rare happy ending to a hostage crisis ends instead in bloodshed and anger, international anger. It appears that American soldiers may be responsible for it. Stand by.
OLBERMANN: It was a story that began with such promise, a welcome bit of good news amid the chaos of postwar Iraq. But the euphoria surrounding the release of a Western hostage today turned out to be very short lived.
Our fourth story in the Countdown, the Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, finally released today after four weeks in captivity, but then shot by U.S. forces, evidently mistaken - mistakenly, rather, as she was heading to the airport. The incident leaves Ms. Sgrena and another wounded. An Italian intelligence officer is dead.
Tom Aspell has more from Baghdad on the incident and the investigation
TOM ASPELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Keith, the Italians were reportedly driving at high speed towards a coalition checkpoint on the airport road and shot when they failed to obey a warning to stop.
ASPELL (voice-over): Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena was kidnapped in Baghdad exactly a month ago and released today after secret negotiations with Italian officials.
Just before 9 p.m., Italian intelligence agents were driving her to Baghdad Airport to board a plane to fly to Rome. Tonight, a statement from the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division said, "American soldiers tried to warn the driver to stop with hand signals, flashing white lights, and warning shots fired in front of the car. When the driver did not stop, soldiers shot into the engine block."
Sgrena and two other Italians were wounded by shrapnel. Another man, Italy's chief of foreign intelligence, reportedly threw himself on top of Sgrena to protect her and was killed.
ASPELL: The U.S. military says it will launch an investigation into the shooting, but one big question here tonight: did the Italian's coordinate their route with the military or drive without an escort at night to avoid attracting attention - Keith.
OLBERMANN: Tom Aspell in Baghdad, many thanks.
Tonight President Bush voicing his regrets as the Italian government is demanding answers.
In Rome, the Coliseum had been lit up to welcome the journalist home. Prime Minister Berlusconi near tears on television tonight in Italy, reportedly having popped champagne to celebrate the release when he received word that Sgrena had been shot.
Mr. Berlusconi immediately demanded an explanation, meeting with the U.S. ambassador and saying that everything happening in Iraq is completely senseless and mad.
The prime minister has been a staunch ally of President Bush, keeping 3,000 Italian troops in Iraq despite option from the majority of Italians who want them back home.
And as background to that mess, a new take on the final days of previous Iraqi government. A report that as the U.S. attacked two years ago, Saddam Hussein was on the verge of being overthrown by his own son. So writes Peter Arnett in the new issue of "Playboy" magazine that Uday Hussein had been plotting to usurp his father.
An 18-month investigation by Arnett revealing that Uday had the support of Saddam's Fedayeen militia and that Saddam himself tried to have his son killed. Arnett, also presenting more color about what we already knew, that Uday Hussein jailed television anchors with whom he disagreed and beat Iraqi soccer players who did not win for him.
At the time of the reported attempted overthrow, Arnett was working for "National Geographic Explorer" and MSNBC. He says his research did not begin until the final week of his employment here.
Taking a break from the serious news to delve into the everything else. And, they're running. Slovenia, and the running of the brides. And Jason Giambi apologized but never admitted what he was apologizing for. Now congressmen want him to tell the real story about steroids, to. Oh, boy.
ANNOUNCER: You're getting your news Olbermann style. Countdown WITH KEITH OLBERMANN, part of the best primetime in cable news, MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: We're back, and for the final time this week, we pause our Countdown of the day's real news stories for three stories that are just, well, stupid, I guess. Let's play "Oddball."
We begin in Ljubljana in Slovenia with the first annual running of the brides. This is no Faylene's (ph) basement bride run. The winner of this race gets not only the gown paid for. The entire wedding is gratis. So two dozen blushing brides are running like hell and they're playing dirty. There is an elbow the back.
But this was no contest; the blond bride named Anja led wire to wire. Anja is your winner, paying $23.50, $12.50 to play, $7.25 for show. Anja, the No. 12 bride.
As for the rest, please return your sweaty gowns to the store where they can be sold to other unsuspecting brides at a hefty markup.
In major crime news, officials in Cleveland have raided this store and seized a mother lode of illegally smuggled chicken feet.
Mmm, chicken feet.
They are an Asian delicacy by are also a huge risk for transmitting bird flu. So the USDA is conducting seizures in Asian markets like this one in 11 states across the country.
One importer in Connecticut is responsible for distributing them. That important says it was not their fault. The feet came in packages marked jellyfish.
To Nebraska where they eat normal food, like a Rold Gold pretzel shaped like the Virgin Mary holding a baby Jesus. Are those two out on some kind of road tour? Not the women, the - you know?
Young Crysta Naylor and her mother, Michelle, say they both saw the honey mustard Madonna, and after combing through the Bible they say it makes numerous references to honey, mustard and pretzels.
Being devout Christians, they have decided, of course, to sell the pretzel on eBay, hoping to make enough money for Crysta to buy a pony.
Am I making any of this up? Would that I were, but it's all true.
Also tonight, a birthday visit to a former pet turns bloody when two other chimpanzees escape and attack the humans.
Do you think Martha Stewart looked happy when her jail time was up? That's nothing compared to how I will feel in about half an hour once the torture of the "Friday News Quiz" is over for another week.
These stories ahead, but now her are Countdown's top three newsmakers of this day.
No. 3, Jim Gibbons, congressman from Nevada. He gave a 21-paragraph speech at a Lincoln Day dinner filled with lines like, "I say we tell those liberal, tree hugging, Birkenstock wearing hippie tie-dyed liberals" - turns out he stole the speech. Fifteen paragraphs of it, anyway. Plagiarized directly from a 2000 - 2003 speech given by an Alabama politician.
Congressman Gibbons says the speech, quote, "reflected my thoughts."
Please, politicians, Democrats and Republicans alike, would you kindly make up your own intolerant dribble, rather than swipe somebody else's?
No. 2, Brandy Shante Moss of Fort Smith, Arkansas. Wanted by cops in a domestic dispute, she went and hid in a septic tank. When a policeman stood to on top it, the thing collapsed. Both suspect and officer emerged without series injury, but they still might smell a bit.
No. 1, Charlie Sheen, the actor. First, his wife, Denise Richards, filed for divorce against him. Then came a report that there is a specific clause in their prenuptial agreement that if he were to be unfaithful, he would owe her $4 million.
Charlie, if you need to sell some more vintage baseball cards, you know where I am.
(MUSIC: "Breaking Up is Hard to Do")
OLBERMANN: The stories ranged from the absurd to the terrifying. But
if you did not know better, you might think they led to they amounted
to the animal kingdom rising to take back the Earth from the humans.
Our third story tonight begins in Bakersfield, California. Police confronted with what looked like a scene from a bad sci-fi film when "Good Apes Go Bad." Our correspondent is Michael Okwu.
MICHAEL OKWU, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The attack happened at this animal sanctuary 150 miles north of Los Angeles. Saint James Davis was visiting Mo, a chimpanzee he owns, when 4 others chimps escaped. Davis, now fighting from for his life after being attacked by two of the animals.
COR. HAL CHEALANDER, KERN COUNTY SHERIFF DEPT: Other deputy got there and discovered a rather grisly scene.
OKWU: Davis and his wife LaDonna (ph) were visiting Mo on the chimps birthday. She was slightly injured, but he suffered massive head wounds.
DR. MOUREEN MARTIN, CHIEF OF SURGERY KERN MEDICAL CENTER: Those injuries included a very, very severe attack on his face.
OKWU: Officials say Mo did not take part in the attack. But the animals involved, 2 males, were shot, 2 female chimps fled.
The Davises brought Mo home from East Africa more than 30 years ago, but they were ordered to move Mo to this sanctuary after he attacked 3 people, including a police officer more than 5-years-ago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We love you. We miss you.A
OKWU: A horrifying and surreal incident. Within hours of the attack, the captured females taking a front seat ride back home.
Michael Okwu, NBC News, Los Angeles.
OLBERMANN: Here to help us try to figure this one out, Martine Colette, animal director for the Wildlife Weigh Station and a chimpanzee expert. Ms. Colette, thanks for your time. Good evening.
MARTINE COLETTE, WILDLIFE WEIGH STATION: Good evening to you.
OLBERMANN: This attack was even more vicious than the report suggested. Mr. Davis's foot was supposedly severed as well. Obviously you were not there, but how could, to your experience, chimps possibly become that agitated?
COLETTE: There are many circumstances that could lead to a chimpanzee being agitated. Chimps are capable of the same kind of emotions as we are: anger, jealousy, envy, hostility, circumstances, fear.
Not knowing what transpired at that particular moment, the attack itself was absolutely unusual. Chimps don't attack with such an intense manner, normally, a chimp will run, smack you, bite you in the leg, your kneecap. May take a finger or two off, maybe rip your ear off, but not with such intensity and such anger.
I'm not sure what caused that. In the wild, chimpanzees do that to each other, or actually they do that to their rivals in the next troop. This is when they fight that seriously. Other than that, they are not this volatile.
OLBERMANN: Everything that we saw suggested that these animals are incredibly strong, more than we might imagine, just looking at sizes. What is your experience on that? What do we not realize about chimpanzees and their strength?
COLETTE: Chimpanzees are exceedingly strong. They are about five times the strength of a normal person. They can weigh anywhere from 80 to 90 pounds for a small female up to 200 pounds of a large male. They have very large canine, they are thinking, functioning. They have got an intelligence of a 6-year-old child. They can reason. They can preplan. They can execute a whole set of complex thoughts and they can actually plan to do certain things at certain times.
This is a very small chimpanzee. Behind me, are the average-sized chimpanzees. And one of the reasons that people should - this is when people get them into their homes, when they are this small or smaller. By the time she is another year older, she will be unmanageable in most households.
Great apes, as all primates, do not make good pets and they really should not be in people's homes. They are dangerous.
And the worst part of it all, the chimps lose. Its always the animal that pays the ultimate price. And in this case a human being was seriously injured.
OLBERMANN: When you mentioned the 6-year-old, it occurred to me, is that average chimpanzee also likely to have the willfulness of a 6-year-old and if you will, the undeveloped mortality? Not implying that there are others with morality, but you know what I'm saying here, is it likely to be a 200 pound incredibly strong 6-year-old with a willful sense of what they want?
COLETTE: Absolutely. It can very well become that. Sometimes we jokingly refer to them as being little juvenile delinquents because they are quite willful. They do want what they want. They are possessive about certain things. And actually they have the strength to make themselves felt and known to people.
If they want something, they are going to take it. In a world of chimpanzees, from the time they are small, they are fighting for dominance. And as they grow, they make coalitions. They get best friends so that their whole program is to be the top of the heap when they can possibly be.
OLBERMANN: Martine Colette, animal director of the Wildlife Weigh Station, chimpanzee expert. We thank you greatly for your time tonight.
COLETTE: My pleasure.
OLBERMANN: And from Florida, a far more gentle and hopeful story of man and animal, the U.S. Coast Guard, Florida Fish and Wildlife officials and dozens of volunteers, still trying to free those that remain of 60 dolphins that had been stranded off the middle Keys since Wednesday.
Some volunteers withstood early signs of hypothermia in order to stay with the weaker dolphins in chilly water. The goal to keep the mammals blow holes above the water level so they will not drown before later releasing them one by one in deeper waters.
But at least 6 have died. And scientists will conduct autopsies. The mystery, why they got so close to the shore.
There will also be a post mortum for another sea creature who became world famous just before his premature death at the age of 100. Bubba the lobster died while being moved from a fishing market off Nantucket to an aquarium near Pittsburgh. It could have been a bad saltwater mixture in Bubba's tank, according to Randy Goodlett (ph), a marine biologist and former zoo curator, or Bubba simply died from being moved around so much or he had spent a century free from the stress that is interaction with humans and meeting us killed him.
Regardless, his reddish brown outer casing known, of course, as his carapace, will be preserved at the Pittsburgh facility. Quite literally, Bubba will be a shell of his former self.
And speaking of the stress of interaction with human, there is CB, the cat belonging to Ms. Tory Hutcheson of Inkom, Idaho. It you have already seen this story on the Internet, you will be happy to know it has been confirmed by the newspaper, the Idaho State Journal.
As Ms. Hutcheson was tooling down Interstate 15 one day, when a fellow motorist after several attempts finally got her to pull to the side of the road. She though she was in danger, perhaps, or that her cars ski rack might have come loose. Not quite. The problem was her cat.
Ms. Hutcheson had been burning up Interstate 15 with her orange tabby on the roof. On the roof of the car, for 10 miles. That's the visual simulation and now the audio one.
Didn't even notice it when she sopped for gas. Ms. Hutcheson swears she is now an airhead, she had simply gone to her car, the cat jumped in, she put the cat out. As she started the vehicle up, the cat had jumped back on top and stayed there. Literally, a cat on a hot steel roof.
Also tonight, he has written about it, talk about it, now he says he will testify about steroids to Congress if Jose Canseco's attorney says anyway, they will give him immunity.
And we'll save you story behind this mug shot, because we like you to keep watching Countdown on MSNBC, except to say this, she's a teacher, and they arrested her.
OLBERMANN: Rule No. 1 in modern politics, if there is a headline and the remotest possibility that you could pass a law about said headline, call a hearing. Our No. 2 story on the Countdown - in fact, call two hearings about it. In this case, about steroid use in baseball.
The House Government Reform Committee and the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection have both scheduled hearings over the next two weeks. Commerce on the 10th; no list of witnesses provided. Government Reform, a week later, on the 17th, but they have released the 11 witnesses they have invited - noted invited, not subpoenaed, although the committee does have subpoena power.
Not surprisingly, Jose Canseco, whose book touched off the latest round of 'roid rumors. His agent says he will testify. Jose told us that last week. The agent mentioned immunity yesterday, didn't say a thing about immunity this week.
Other invitees - Mark McGwire, whom Canseco says he injected with
steroids. Rafael Palmeiro, who has threatened to sue Canseco over his
reference to him, Palmeiro says he will not testify. Jason Giambi, who
reportedly testified to a grand jury that he used them. Sammy Sosa, indirectly accused by Canseco. Curt Schilling, the pitcher who has not been accused but has spoken a lot about steroids. Also, Frank Thomas of the Chicago White Sox, and four executives - Commissioner Bug Selig, Baseball Vice President Sandy Alderson, union chief Don Fehr, and Kevin Towers, the general manager of the San Diego Padres, who made conflicting statements this past week about how much or how little he knew about players using steroids years ago.
Joining me here in the studio is Jack Curry, national baseball writer for "The New York Times," who once covered the game when the biggest concern was making sure the box score and the paper was correct. Jack, thank for coming in.
JACK CURRY, NEW YORK TIMES: How are you doing, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Any indications on yes's and no's on this thing, other than Palmeiro?
CURRY: Well, Canseco, as you said, has said he would like to go, with immunity. Giambi today made it clear that he really didn't think this was something he wanted to attend. Kept saying he has done his part. And I think that was his reference to the federal grand jury, as in he's talked about it once already. Sammy Sosa said he had to talk to his agents, and I believe Schilling said that if it wasn't a McCarthy type witch hunt, it would be something he might do.
But it's going to be interesting, because I think a lot of these people are going to end up being told that they have to be there.
OLBERMANN: How - why were these invitations as opposed to subpoenas, and why was Bonds' name left out of them? Was there a feeling out process between the politicians and the ball players first?
CURRY: Those are two great questions, which, as a baseball writer, I'd have to bone up on my congressional hearings, but in talking to some people in D.C. today, they normally do extend the invite, and I think they are trying to be polite. But as you said in your opening statement there, they do have subpoena power, so if they want to tell the people who are invited we need you here, they can subpoena them.
And the answer that I received in terms of Bonds is the witness list is not yet closed. So there is still a chance that Barry could also be offered an invite.
OLBERMANN: Now, Canseco's agent was telling the San Francisco paper the other today that he would do this provided there was immunity, and I was asked a question today why would Canseco require immunity considering what he has written and all that? Is there some - because of his criminal record? Is he more liable than just for distribution charges? Is he actually threatened with jail if he testifies and says, "I used them and I injected them here, there and everywhere?"
CURRY: The only thing I can think, Keith, is that there is a big difference between putting some of this stuff in a book and then being under oath and being asked specifically, well, tell us exactly what happened. And I think Canseco's lawyer is just being safe. Give my client immunity, we'll talk about it until 11:00 o'clock at night, but if not, I don't know if Canseco is going to be there and chirp as much.
OLBERMANN: What has been the reaction through the whole process from the management end of it? As I mentioned, Fehr and Selig and Alderson and Kevin Towers are being asked to show up. Every time the commissioner of baseball goes to Washington, they take another chunk out of him. I'm sure he's not happy about it to begin with, but are they worried about what they are going to hear under oath?
CURRY: I left a couple of messages for Bud Selig today, didn't get any return calls. But in talking to people around baseball and around him, there is a feeling from baseball's side that part of this is a publicity push, and it's clear that part of it is. But there is also an element of the government calls you and wants to talk to you, you need to be there. And I think what bothers baseball is the owners and the players' association had made strides and have made strides toward a tougher policy. And a guy like Tom Glavine, a very respected player, even said yesterday, let's let that policy breathe a little bit, let's let it get out there and see if it can be effective, and before they have even had a chance to really take more than a couple of urine tests, they are being invited to Washington.
OLBERMANN: Yes, that's the political ball game as opposed to the ball game ball game. Is there, in about 30 seconds, is there a sense among players that there is some sort of precipice baseball is headed towards on this issue of steroids? If it isn't in Washington, it will be in the testing rooms?
CURRY: I think from having been down to spring training and talking to a lot of players, I do think that the smart ones realize that this is just the beginning, and this is a story, as you said, that it's the tip of the iceberg, and the Canseco - and as much as people might want to discredit him, there are things in that book that are true, and whatever percentage of it we'll find out some day. But I do think that the smart players realize, this is something they're going to be hearing about for years.
OLBERMANN: Indeed. Jack Curry of "The New York Times," national baseball writer and now, unofficially, it's national steroid writer. Thanks for coming in, Jack.
CURRY: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Appreciate it.
One politician largely silent thus far on the topic of athletes and steroids: the California governator. Arnold Schwarzenegger getting ready to pump them up this weekend in Columbus, Ohio for the Arnold fitness expo. Some 15,000 athletes and 100,000 spectators expected for the annual shindig/cash cow. At last year's expo, federal agents were issuing subpoenas which led to the indictment of 2 men on charges of conspiring to import steroids.
In a recent interview, the governor revealing he has no regrets about having used them during his bodybuilding days pointing out that they were legal at that time and that he took them under a doctor's supervision.
We segue from news to entertainment news not quite seamlessly and not quite entertainment news either, but it is see me news. "Keeping Tabs," kicking off with yet another student-teacher sex scandal.
You can keep your Mary Kay Letourneaus, your Deborah LaFaves and whatever it is you are still thinking about your 7th grade social studies teacher. For our money take Tony Lynn Woods. Ah!
This West Virginia middle school teach is in police custody after confessing to sexual misconduct with 5 of her students. Now being held on $100,000 bond. Can we make it $100 million?
And I know the news isn't pretty, but nobody prepared me for that. If your thinking of swearing allowed, how about this, Glen Matlock would rather you didn't. Former member of the punk bad the Sex Pistols asking you to watch your language.
Anarchy ain't what she used to be. Nearly 30 years after he wrote the song God Save the Queen and his group dropped sundry variations of the f-word on live TV, the 48-year-old bassist and father of 2 now saying quote, "it's pathetic when people swear for the sake of it. Something ought to be done about it."
Speaking of swearing, we're back with the news quiz and my damage therein next.
OLBERMANN: Well, it's that time again, my winning streak came to an abrupt end last Friday. So in addition to your choice to humiliate me with your news questions, this time I have a chance, a chance to redeem myself. Although I seriously doubt it.
Regardless, my fate awaits as again we play "What Have We Learned?"
And here again one more time, another journalist proud to be associated with this project, the genial emcee of what have we learned? Miss Monica Novotny. Hello.
MONICA NOVOTNY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hello. Good to be with you.
I'll begin by reminding viewers if you'd like to play along or administer the quiz to your boss and see how much fun I really have every Friday night, you can find the news quiz on our Web site. That's Countdown.MSNBC.com.
We'll begin what two minutes on the clock. I will ask as many of your viewer questions as time allows. For every question answered incorrectly, the anchorman will file his protest to the cable news Gods and then shell out $50 for charity. If he answers at least half correctly, he wins a prize. If he loses, it's a lousy prize. Not that we can ever tell the difference.
So far, you the viewer, have helped to raise $1,050 for the Countdown news quiz charity fund.
Are you ready, sir?
OLBERMANN: I'm your boss? hah hah. Man, what a bad life you have.
Yes, I'm ready, I guess. On that note.
NOVOTNY: Two minutes on the clock. No comment from me.
No. 1, from Jan in California, "what city can boast the best water in the U.S. according to the world's largest water tasting competition?"
OLBERMANN: Daytona, Florida.
NOVOTNY: From Trudie, "how many juveniles were taken off death row by this week's Supreme Court ruling?"
From Tracy in Michigan, "How much did Bubba the lobster weigh?"
OLBERMANN: 22 pounds of Bubba goodness.
NOVOTNY: From Deborah in New Jersey. "Who are Bak Bak and Clover?"
OLBERMANN: Bak Bak and Clover are a rhino and a goat, one of whom is adopted, the goat has adopted the rhino.
NOVOTNY: Something like that, close enough.
OLBERMANN: And eventually the rhino will kill the goat.
NOVOTNY: Only in your sick mind.
OLBERMANN: It's a rhinoceros.
NOVOTNY: From Becky in Ohio, "give or take five how many hours was millionaire adventurer's Steve Fossett's non-stop flight around the world?"
OLBERMANN: Too many. I don't know. And more or less, in protest I won't answer this question.
NOVOTNY: You have gotten it wrong. 67 hours. How many miles did he traverse give or take a thousand?
NOVOTNY: Wrong, 23,000.
OLBERMANN: 23 miles is around the Earth?
NOVOTNY: 23,000 miles.
From Dee in South Carolina. "What building did the fathers of justice scale earlier this week in London?"
OLBERMANN: It's White Hall. It was the - it's the interior ministry. The...
NOVOTNY: Wrong. It was the British foreign office.
Who was the president the last time the Boston Red Sox won the world series.
OLBERMANN: Woodrow Wilson.
NOVOTNY: Actually, it was George W. Bush.
OLBERMANN: Oh, yeah, that's right. I keep protesting 2004. That's a trick question. That was a good one.
NOVOTNY: From Rosemary - I think the judges gave it to you, which I'm going to protest.
OLBERMANN: No they didn't. No, no, I heard the buzz.
NOVOTNY: Beginning April 14, airport passengers will each be limited to how many books of matches?
OLBERMANN: Four. I pulled it out of the fire.
NOVOTNY: From Cheryl, the World Trade Center bombers sent at least how many letters from prison to a Spanish terrorist cell. At least how many letters?
OLBERMANN: How many? At least 5.
NOVOTNY: Well, 14 actually was the number we were going for.
OLBERMANN: You said at least how many.
NOVOTNY: Fine, we'll take it.
OLBERMANN: Well, do ask it. It said at least how many? At least 5.
NOVOTNY: Sir, I'm only asked what I'm told to ask. Five of ten, 50 percent. You get your prize.
OLBERMANN: I thought it was six of ten, but whatever.
NOVOTNY: Would you like to take your prize? It was 5. Would you like to take your prize or continue protesting.
OLBERMANN: You got me a carpet.
NOVOTNY: In honor of Martha Stewart this week, it's the welcome home bathmat.
OLBERMANN: The Martha Stewart sick purple. This is what she made millions and billions of dollars off of? Crap like this? Honestly! You know what you can do with this? You can make it into a hat. A little broach. And you can.
NOVOTNY: A nice toupee.
OLBERMANN: Oh, very nice as opposed to the one I have already. And you can't leave home without it or in her case, you just can't leave home. So, the count was $1050. I got 5 wrong is that the final verdict? 50 bucks a pop, that's $250 more, so now we're up to $1,300. Yes, the biggest challenge of the night is the math.
Thank you, Monica. Thank you, questioners.
Please join us again next time if there is a next time when again we play "What Have We Learned?"
And that's a purple edition of Countdown. Thanks for being a part of it.
I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.
That really took off.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END