'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for March 28
Guest: Savannah Guthrie, Anthony Decurtis, Richard Mineards
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about
The Schiavo case. Her husband requests when the time comes, an autopsy by the medical
examiner's office to confirm the extent of his wife's brain damage. And the surprising details left out by
the man behind the politicizing of this story. Tom DeLay refused life-extending care for his brain-
Indonesia. Another earthquake but not another tsunami. Still, hundreds feared dead and
Big break for the prosecution. Testimony about five previous teenage boys, including Macaulay
Culkin, approved by the judge. And Michael Jackson gets interviewed by Jesse Jackson.
MICHAEL JACKSON: There's a lot of conspiracy. I'll say there's a lot of conspiracy going on as
OLBERMANN: That's not a conspiracy. This is a conspiracy. Flight from New York to
London? $500. Renting Princess Diana's bedroom for a night from her brother? $56,000. Having some
class? Priceless. Apparently.
All that and more now on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: Good evening. He has been accused of trying to murder his wife, of having
covered up rumored past abuse, of wanting her cremated so that all the evidence will disappear when she
In our fifth story on the Countdown tonight, Michael Schiavo today asking that the Florida
Medical Examiner's Office conduct a full autopsy on his wife, Terri, after her life ends, so that there is no
doubt about the extent of her brain damage, nor how it had made a recovery impossible.
The offer, an incredibly risky one if her husband indeed had something to hide, might have
seemed to be conclusive evidence to end the controversy about the end of Mrs. Schiavo's life, but as a
second news conference today would suggest, it isn't.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE FELOS, MICHAEL SCHIAVO'S ATTORNEY: Because claims have been made by I
guess the opponents to carrying out her wishes that there was some motive behind the cremation of Mrs.
Schiavo, we felt it was necessary.
RANDALL TERRY, SPOKESMAN FOR THE SCHINDLER FAMILY: An autopsy is going to
show that she expired by dehydration and but - here's the bottom line, friends. You've got to hear this.
There are no plans, no one is discussing her not making it, no one is giving up. This woman has displayed
a near miraculous will to live.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Michael Schiavo's request has been granted. An autopsy will be conducted
before Terri Schiavo's body is cremated.
There is disagreement within the Schindler camp about Mrs. Schiavo's condition. Yesterday the
family attorney, David Gibbs, told CBS News that Mrs. Schiavo has passed where physically she would be
able to recover should that feeding tube be reinserted. But the family spokesman and anti-abortion activist
Randall Terry, who you heard moments ago, contradicting that, and again by saying, in the family's
opinion, that is absolutely not true.
The Schiavo case, long since burst out of its nearly 15 years as a family and legal battle into a
cause of hysteria and mutually exclusive realities. But lost in the frenzy, an entire group of individuals
who have no direct interest in the outcome, but whose lives have nonetheless been upended. An
elementary school down the street from Mrs. Schiavo's hospice, closing for at least a week due to the chaos
created by the protesters. Six hundred students at Cross Bayou Elementary now divided up among three
other schools because of what the superintendent of the school district is calling "the unstable and highly
emotional environment that currently exists at the Woodside Hospice." Cross Bayou and Woodside are on
a dead-end street, which forces the students to pass in front of the hospice and the protesters and the media
every time they go to or from school.
And then there is Pinellas Circuit Court Judge George Greer. He and his family living under the
protection of armed guards as the legal battle over Terri Schiavo has been fraught throughout his court.
Judge Greer has become the public face of the judiciary in the story. Death threats made against him for
allowing the removal of Mrs. Schiavo's feeding tube. As if that were not enough, Judge Greer, described
as a conservative Christian, has also been kicked out of the Southern Baptist congregation of which he has
been a member for many years.
And perhaps most tragically among those sideswiped by this story, news of the death of another
resident at Woodside Hospice whose life has already ended, and the family member who could not get
there in time because of the circus around that building. The granddaughter of 73-year-old Thomas Bone
(ph) was called by a hospice worker, told her grandfather's death was minutes away. She rushed to the
facility, still in her pajamas. First, Ms. Johnson stopped by a police officer who demanded identification.
She did not have her wallet with her. And once inside, stopped again to be searched with a metal detector.
The delays lasting about three to four minutes, she says, the last of her grandfather's life. She arrived one
minute after he died.
To quote Ms. Johnson: "It's a terrible extra obstacle to put in front of a family. Everything is
about Schiavo. It's all about her, and in my family's case, it cost us dearly." The bereaved granddaughter
adding, "they've taken away hospice's greatest quality, that it is peaceful and serene and quiet and calming,
and it's not fair."
Our correspondent, NBC's Mark Potter, has been at all the venues since well before this story cut
such a swath through the news. Mark joins us now. Good evening, Mark.
MARK POTTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Good evening to you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: I would like to get a little flavor of that protest camp that is still flourishing
behind you there. We've heard Ms. Johnson's story about her dying grandfather inside the hospice. We've
heard about the 600 elementary school kids who have been relocated. Are these things registering with the
protesters there? Is there any sense of anything besides what Ms. Schiavo represents to them mattering to
them at this point?
POTTER: I don't think they're registering with the protesters. It is quite inconvenient for them,
too. All the people that you see behind me have to park a long distance away to walk in here. Some of
them were bussed in today from Miami, 200 of them.
They're here for one reason. And it is foremost in their mind. And that's all they care about.
Some of them - there's been a change in the make-up of this group. In the beginning, it was just the
people who genuinely cared about Mrs. Schiavo, who care about her parents and their position that her life
should be saved. But then others joined, particularly over the weekend, a rougher crowd. They came here
to yell at the police. They called them Nazis. One was goose-stepping in front of them. It is a different
crowd. In fact, so bad that Bobby Schindler, the brother of Terri Schiavo, had to go out yesterday to talk to
them, to try to settle them down, to make the point that they were not doing their side any good with this.
It didn't do anybody any good to get arrested.
And so I don't think there's a lot of concern in this crowd about the effect that they're having on
others, because they see this as such a big matter. And that's all they seem to care about right now.
OLBERMANN: You mentioned what Bobby Schindler said to those more rowdy of the
protesters last night. There has been some confusion last night about the breadth of that request. In some
places it was characterized as the Schindlers asked the protesters to stop and go home. That's more than a
little broad, isn't it?
POTTER: Yes. It is categorically wrong. I was here when the statement was made. It was made
by Brother Paul O'Donnell. What he said was - it was the day before Easter, on Saturday - he said, look,
we want you in Terri's honor to go home, be with your family, hug your kids, have your Easter service, and
then come back and join us again. That's all he said. I guarantee you, that's all he said. I was standing
right in front of him. I don't know how that got misinterpreted, but it did. And that's truly what he meant.
They were not at all telling people to go home. In fact, later that night, Bob Schindler went out and he
heard that. He said he doesn't understand that at all, and that was not their intent.
The family has to put up with this crowd to some extent, the radical element, if you would, but
they actually enjoy having these people here. They enjoy the support. They enjoy talking with them.
They get a lot out of it, and they certainly were not asking them to go home.
OLBERMANN: Lastly, Mark, about today's principal development, the news from Michael
Schiavo's attorney that there will be an autopsy. Certainly that statement has reached the protesters. We
heard Mr. Terry's reaction. How have the people there reacted to it? have they reacted to it?
POTTER: Well, they really haven't very much. But what it does is it undercuts one of their big
arguments. And you alluded to it at the top of your broadcast. A lot of people have accused Michael of
perhaps causing Terri to collapse 15 years ago through abuse, something he has categorically denied. And
they have always said, well, he is going to cremate the body right away so that the evidence disappear.
Well, now, he's saying that the chief medical examiner will do an autopsy, with his full staff, and
make a public report. Not only to address that issue, but also to prove the depth of her disability, to prove
exactly what they are saying, that she is suffering in a persistent vegetative state.
So that's a major development. It is going to be very interesting to see not only the results, but
how they are received.
OLBERMANN: Mark Potter of NBC News at Pinellas Park, Florida. A great word picture, and
great thanks as always, Mark.
POTTER: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: A change of venue today for some of the Schiavo protesters, flying north to a
place where the natives of all stripes seem to be indicating they feel they were burned by touching this
remarkably divisive hot stove. Washington, D.C. The group led by Schindler family spiritual adviser,
Reverend Patrick Mahoney, heading first to Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House, before
moving to the office of House Speaker Dennis Hastert. They believe the legislature, the president, the
president's brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, all have the authority to order Schiavo's feeding tube to be
reconnected, something the courts and the experts on constitutional law, say they do not.
It was of course the second highest ranking Republican in the House, Tom DeLay, who played the
pivotal role in relocating the story to the national political stage so quickly that an extraordinary number of
Congressmen and senators who voted on the special legislation a week ago yesterday, had no idea how to
correctly pronounce the woman's name.
But, as our correspondent Norah O'Donnell reports, it turns out Mr. DeLay has neglected to
mention a relevant fact from his own life, that in similar, though not exact, circumstances, he refused
extraordinary care for his own father, without there being a living will.
REP. TOM DELAY, HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: How can we live with ourselves if we don't
give her one more chance to live?
NORAH O'DONNELL (voice-over): It was Tom DeLay who, just one week ago, led the fight to
try and prolong Terri's Schiavo's life.
DELAY: That act of barbarism can be and must be prevented.
O'DONNELL: But 16 years ago, far from the Schiavo controversy, in the Texas hill country,
Tom DeLay faced a similar end-of-life crisis, involving his father, who was badly injured in a freak
accident after being thrown from a motorized tram in his backyard.
KARL BRADDICK, NEIGHBOR: Well, he was banged up real bad. His head, especially.
O'DONNELL: Tom DeLay's father was rushed to Brook Army Medical Center where the
prognosis was devastating.
WALTER ROCHE, JR, LA TIMES: The message was, from the doctors, that even if he were to
survive, he would be in a vegetative state.
O'DONNELL: When DeLay's father's kidneys failed, the family decided against connecting him
to a kidney dialysis machine. His medical report said, extraordinary measures to prolong life were not
initiated. His bedside chart said, do not resuscitate. The "Los Angeles Times" broke the story citing
similarities between the DeLay case and the Schiavo case.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Both had suffered irreversible brain damage. And that both had
expressed a desire that, if they were in a irreversible condition, that extraordinary means would not be
taken to keep them alive.
But DeLay's spokesman told the "Times," the cases are entirely different, saying, quote, "the only
thing keeping her alive is the food and water; his father was on a ventilator and other machines." Still,
DeLay, who helped thrust the Schiavo case into the national spotlight, has chosen not to speak about his
own family's struggle about life and death issues.
STUART ROTHENBERG, POLITICAL ANALYST: I think there are some people who are torn
on this case who will see this as evidence of hypocrisy.
O'DONNELL: Today the Congressman spokesman said DeLay's father was in a coma, and says
the cases are very different. He says it is an issue of with-holding care versus withdrawing it.
Norah O'Donnell, NBC News, Waco, Texas.
OLBERMANN: Lastly, those who think this is the most absurd story ever covered appear to have
slipped one pass those who think it is the most important issue ever broached. Passed most of the national
media, too. That sign there. The one that says feed her. You've followed the story at all, you've seen it in
television coverage or a newspaper photo. You've probably not noticed the Web site address at the bottom.
It's for the site of Chicago radio host and past Countdown guest Steve Dahl. On his broadcast Friday,
Dahl announced a plan to send someone to Florida in the hopes that that someone could deliver a pizza and
a blender to Mrs. Schiavo. The absurdity of the plan - it's crass but incisive commentary, on the crassness
and absurdity of some of the protests. Much of the coverage apparently did not raise as much as an
eyebrow with any of the real protestors.
Also tonight, terror again in Indonesia. News of another earthquake underwater and a tsunami
And a big setback for the defense in the Michael Jackson case. The judge deciding past
allegations of abuse with other young alleged victims will be admissible.
You're watching Countdown on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: Tsunami fears sweeping Southeast Asia; another massive earthquake off the
coast, but this time, no killer wave following it. The scene from Indonesia as the hysteria hit - stand by.
OLBERMANN: The chances of aftershocks for earthquakes, worldwide, decline on a week-by-
week and month-by-month basis. If the ground moves in southern California on June 1, the official odds
of an aftershock of equal or greater magnitude drop on June 8, and invariably, it seems, the big aftershock
actually hits on June 9.
Our number four story in the Countdown tonight, only this past Saturday, the exact three-
month anniversary of the underwater earthquake that set off the disastrous tsunami in the Indian Ocean, the
statistical odds of a repeat diminished again. And this morning, our time, a quake nearly as big as the one
on December 26, and nearly in the same spot, brought more death to the region.
And as our correspondent Jim Maceda reports, if it did not also bring another tsunami, it did bring
another wave of panic.
JIM MACEDA, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: It was a nightmarish scene and it happened to
people just getting over the last devastating earthquake in December. A little after 11 p.m. local time,
another giant quake, measuring 8.7 on the Richter scale, struck about 125 miles off the Indonesian island of
Sumatra. 60 miles from the epicenter, the small island of Nias, seen here in pictures after the December
quake, appears to have taken the brunt of today's quake, hundreds reportedly killed, ¾ of the isle's
YEREMIA SAMMAHA, NIAS ISLAND RESIDENT: Most of the buildings are destroyed, and
about 10,000 people (INAUDIBLE) right now. Most of people now is panicked.
MACEDA: Some 250 miles from the epicenter, in Banda Aceh, people felt severe shaking,
lasting two to three minutes. Families ran from their beds and into the streets, seeking high ground.
Despite a series of aftershocks in December, this quake set off panic in the streets.
ALESSANDRA BOAS, OXFAM: The tremor actually lasted for longer than the other one. It
lasted for around two minutes, and soon after that, we started to see some panic in the streets, people
getting their motor bikes and cars and running away and fearing a tsunami.
MACEDA: In Thailand, as well as in Sri Lanka, thousands fled the memory of this: the massive
December 26 tremor, whose epicenter was only about 100 miles from tonight's quake. And the devastating
tsunami that followed, leaving some 280,000 people dead or missing, more than 1 ½ million homeless.
Within minutes, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii issued a global alarm, calling for
the immediate evacuation of coastlines within six hundred miles of the quake's epicenter.
From northern Indonesia, all the way to the Maricious (ph) in the south, people largely followed
police directions, trying to control their fear. Experts saw a potentially lethal repeat.
KERRY SIEH, PH.D., CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: I would certainly say
it's a fraternal twin. It's not a duplicate, but it's the same type of earthquake.
MACEDA: And tonight, U.N. relief workers said this earthquake had already set the region back.
JAN EGELAND, U.N. EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR: We see this as yet another
example of panic-spreading...
MACEDA: Among people who had just begun to rebuild their shattered lives.
Jim Maceda, NBC News, London.
OLBERMANN: From disaster largely averted to one that remains, the marriage of Charles and
Camilla. You thought things could not get worse, now the future king is supposed to apologize to a
commoner for breaking up his marriage. What is the point of being a royal if you can't do that?
And "Oddball" never takes a holiday. Forget the Easter Bunny, we've got - blessings on bikes.
OLBERMANN: We have returned and it is time to pause our Countdown for our nightly
segment of the really weird news, not the Michael Jackson trial, that's later. Let's play "Oddball."
We begin in the waters of French Polynesia with the heralded arrival of Maud Fontenoy, the first
woman to cross the Pacific Ocean in a row boat. This doesn't look so hard. This other boat just pull her
the whole way across? Well, obviously not, I'm just joking because she could kill me using only her
biceps. Mrs. Fontenoy left Peru, she's French, on January 12 and row, row, rowed her boat merrily along
the 4,300 mile span in just under 72 days. And no doubt she had that song stuck in her head the whole
And by the way, there's been a Paula Zahn sighting.
To San Jose, California now, and a surprise appearance by the pope. Maybe not, let me check my
notes. No, that definitely was not him at the 24th Annual West Coast Bike Blessing Day. It's an Easter
Sunday tradition in which 6,000 Harley riders take time out from cutting each other open with broken
bottles to line up for a drive-thru blessing and holy water sprinkling. Stay in line please. Egg hunts and a
tattoo contest also marked the happy Easter affair. And remember you can always tell a happy
motorcyclist by the dead bugs stuck in his teeth, because he is smiling while he - never mind.
And lastly, to Dowagiac, Michigan where one lucky farmer is about to find out what
goldenpalace.com will pay for a chicken egg with the image of the sun on it. Actually, she's not selling it
just yet. Cindy Grewett of Kittyhill Organic Farms. There's a career choice made in heaven. If it's
organic, Cindy grew it. She said she drained the egg and preserved the shell for the time being. Farmer
Grewett says the egg came out of the chicken exactly that way on the first day of spring, just after she said
she spoke to the chickens about needing a little sunshine. She was last seen back in the hen house, talking
to the chickens about this week's lotto numbers.
More about the upcoming ruling in the Michael Jackson case. An upset today, the prosecution
won a big one. Word from Jackson himself, this is all a conspiracy, he is healthy and Elizabeth Taylor
used to hand feed him. Oh, boy!
Then amazing stories of survival. One woman surviving a six-story plunge off a bridge. Another
drenched driver saying her life was saved by "Fear Factor."
These stories ahead. Now here are Countdown's "Top Three News Makers of this Day."
Number three, the Utah Department of Transportation. They could hit the broad side of a
mountain with a howitzer. What do I mean by that? I mean, they couldn't hit the broad side of a mountain
with a howitzer. That's what they were supposed to do. It's the way you start the controlled avalanche in
Prova - Provo Canyon, but they missed it and the howitzer shell went over the top of the mountain and
landed in the shed in the backyard of Scott and Laurie Conners (ph). Miraculously, no injuries! Go and
Number two, Jose Angel Juarez, an inmate at the county jail in Santa Cruz, California, found as he
passed through the metal detector a handcuffed key in his stomach. Either he was Houdini or he's in a lot
of trouble and he ain't no Houdini. Last line of the "Associated Press" story, "Deputies waited for the key
to eventually emerge."
And number one, the coroner's office in Santa Clara, California, it is fingerprinting that finger that
was found in the bowl of Chili at Wendy's last week to see to whom it belonged. The woman who found it
has filed a claim against the franchise owner. First step before the lawsuit, look, lady, we make it quite
clear, Wendy's does not serve vegetarian chili.
OLBERMANN: As they say, just because you are paranoid, does not mean they're not out to get
Our third story on the Countdown, it's your tax and entertainment dollars in action. Day 497
of the Michael Jackson investigations, and as Mr. Jackson claims, his prosecution his actually a conspiracy
to deprive him of his ownership of the Beatles and Little Richard publishing catalogs. It is useful to note
that he gave two other examples of prosecutions against prominent African-Americans, Mohammed Ali
and Jack Johnson, and was probably right. Both of those probably were conspiracies. More on that in a
First, a rare, significant development in the Jackson trial. In a rare development that seemingly
goes in the prosecution's favor, and then some. Prosecutors were hoping to get Judge Rodney Melville to
admit evidence, into this trial, about the 1993 molestation accusation against Jackson, which was settled
without charges being brought against him. In fact, District Attorney Tom Sneddon could not have won
bigger if he were at a Las Vegas slot machine: the judge ruled that evidence was admissible conduct with
five other teenage boys, including the actor Macauley Culkin. Culkin's publicist responding, quote, that
her client "is presently not involved with the proceedings, and we do not expect that to change."
The accuser in the 1993 case will not testify. One from a 1990 case evidently will, along with his
mother. Prosecutors claim that the cases were relevant because they showed a pattern of Jackson, quote,
"grooming" his future victims by lavishing them with attention and getting their trust, before allegedly
To give us her read as to the importance of the rulings is Savannah Guthrie, attorney and
correspondent at Court TV for this trial.
Savannah, thanks for your time. Good evening.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, COURT TV: Hi, Keith. Nice to see you.
OLBERMANN: You don't have to be an attorney to see this as a victory for the prosecution. But
explain for us the ramifications. Did the target on Michael Jackson's back just get bigger and if so, how?
GUTHRIE: You know, this is one of the rare cases where everyone says it's a make or break
issue, and I think that's right, because, what it does is transform this from a one victim case, a "he said, he
said," to a "he said, he said, he said, he also said" - you know, all of these alleged victims. Other witnesses
coming in and saying, I found Michael Jackson with other boys. Over the years, people would always say,
if Michael Jackson is this big pedophile, why aren't there other boys? Well, now, in this trial, jurors are
going to hear about other alleged victims.
OLBERMANN: But Savannah, there's a quote from Mr. Jackson's lawyer, Mr. Mesereau, today:
"how can you just allow a parade of third party characters to come in, without any victims?" To the
layman, that sounds like a reasonable question. How did the judge allow it?
GUTHRIE: Well, he allowed it because California law doesn't require alleged victims to come in
and talk about their molestations. If you can prove it some other way, then the prosecutors is allowed to do
that, and that's what they're going to do.
But, as a practical matter, it is not great for the prosecutors that some of these alleged victims deny
that they were molested. I mean, that's not strong evidence for the prosecution. But what it does, is kind
take this into another realm, because, now it is not just the word of the accuser. How many time are these
jurors going to give the benefit of the doubt to Michael Jackson? They might do it in one case, but when
there are these other cases, maybe they'll be less hesitant to return a guilty verdict.
OLBERMANN: Would it be safe to assume that, if Jackson is convicted, that the defense appeal
would be based, would start with this decision by the judge today?
GUTHRIE: This is page number one, issue number one, because it is so critical. It is so
potentially inflammatory to let this evidence in. On the other hand, love it or hate it, this is the law in
California. The judge is on solid legal ground, allowing this evidence in. So, I'm sure the defense, if there
is a conviction, they'll appeal on this issue, but I don't think they'll necessarily win it.
OLBERMANN: Savannah Guthrie of Court TV at the Jackson trial.
Great - thanks for your insight as always.
GUTHRIE: My pleasure.
OLBERMANN: Now to the conspiracy theories and the other out-of-court strangeness contained
in Jesse Jackson's Internet radio interview with Michael Jackson.
It is difficult to know where to begin. In a moment we will explore whether or not anybody could
concoct a grand scheme to wrestle the Beatles' music publishing catalogue away from him. First, it was
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON (voice-over): In my Sony catalogue is all the Beatles music, all of Little Richard's
music. I own Sly and the Family Stone. I own such a volume of so many - I own Elvis, so many Elvis
songs. It is a huge catalogue. It is very valuable. It is worth a lot of money. There is a big fight going on
right now as we speak about that. Now, I can't say whether or not - I can't comment on it. There's a lot of
conspiracy. I'll say this. A lot of conspiracy going on as we speak.
I do have a problem with eating, but I do my very best and I am eating. Yes, I am. Please, I don't
want anybody to think I'm starving. I'm not. My health is perfect, actually.
REV. JESSE JACKSON (voice-over): The day you came to the hospital, late, and you said you
were injured. What happened that day?
JACKSON: I was coming out of the shower and I fell, and all my body weight - I'm pretty
fragile. All my body weight fell against my ribcage. And I pretty much, I bruised my lung very badly.
My lung is on the right, it is very much - I'm in pain as we speak.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Now, we just want to play you one more clip, the very end of the interview as it
was actually cyber cast.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
J. JACKSON: Michael, thank you for sharing yourself with the nation today, and the world
M. JACKSON: God bless you.
J. JACKSON: God bless and keep hope alive. (INAUDIBLE) up there, OK?
M. JACKSON: Bye-bye.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: That's right. They stole the closing to "Michael Jackson Public Theater."
Everything but the "Whuuu." Needless to say, that only added to what has been an epic and difficult day
for the creative team MJPT. Weeks, they go by and nothing happens. Today, the Michael and Jesse show,
the conspiracy theory, the court ruling - they think they're the victims of a conspiracy. Let's see what they
have for us tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Busy day. The judge made some rulings. At least maybe I'll be able to
see my old friend Macauley Culkin again.
_UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (MUMBLING)_
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh. Better change the topic. Did you hear my interview yesterday?
M. JACKSON (voice-over): Elizabeth Taylor used to feed me - hand feed me at times.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Now you'll be haunted by that image for weeks. Whuuu!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Now, about those conspiracies.
When he was heavyweight champion and a recent convert to the Exotic Muslimism of a man who
called himself Elijah Mohammad (ph), Mohammed Ali was drafted into the U.S. military at the age of 27.
That's when the age of the average draftee at the time was 19. And when the first black heavyweight
boxing champ Jack Johnson was convicted under the so-called "Man Act" for having had women
accompany him on his interstate travels, even the authors of the legislation admitted that it had been passed
to permit the prosecution of people who kidnapped women and took them across state lines in order to
force them into prostitution.
Clearly, the third example Jackson cited in his interview yesterday, Nelson Mandela was also
conspired against, but that was in South Africa - not especially relevant here. The point is, would
somebody, the music industry, Elvis Presley fans, somebody, actually arrange for the prosecution of
Jackson in order to somehow separate him from his ownership of the Beatles and the Little Richard
I'm joined now by Anthony Decurtis, contributing editor to "Rolling Stone" magazine.
Mr. Decurtis, thank you for your time. Good evening.
ANTHONY DECURTIS, ROLLING STONE: It's my pleasure. Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Let's start with these details, as it relates to Little Richard and the Beatles and
Elvis Presley. In that radio interview Mr. Jackson referred to some of his holdings there, but what does he
own, what does he not own? Does he own Richard's tooty but not his fruity?
DECURTIS: Well, Michael Jackson, owns among other things, probably the single most valuable
catalogue of songs, which is the Beatles songs. That's 250 songs. He bought them for something like $47
million in 1984, which was one of the great bargains. He went into business with Sony/ATV; his record
company has a publishing company. He now owns half of all of the publishing company, all of the songs
that they own. So, that includes the Beatles and a number of the other artist that's he mentioned. And he
also has his own company, which is My Jack Publishing, which has his songs, and Sly and The Family
Stone, and some of the other artists that he mentioned.
So, he owns - the companies that he has a stake in own well over a billion dollars on the open
market. They're very, very, very valuable properties.
OLBERMANN: But - from the Jesse Jackson interview with him yesterday, we do not really
have a straight line that connects why somebody would try to frame him with obtaining these songs as the
prize. But if somebody was trying to get this catalogue or parts of it from him, couldn't they just pay him a
huge amount of money for it rather than this conspiracy that he envisions?
ANTHONY DECURTIS, ROLLING STONE: Well, the conspiracy that he envisions is more a
conspiracy of circumstances than a conspiracy of individuals. There's a sense in which, you know, both his
seeming financial problem, these obvious legal problem are putting him in a position where he may have to
relinquish the one aspect of his assets that is sustaining him. I mean, these are big money makers. And he
needs money. So that is the only sense in which conspiracy exists here. There are circumstances
conspiring, and it is working to the advantage of other people. I mean, Sony would like nothing better than
to be able to buy Michael's half of the Beatles' publishing and the other interests that he has.
OLBERMANN: When Mr. Jackson does an interview and brings this topic up about music rights
in the manner that we're discussing it, how does that music industry respond? Do people say, well, that's
just Michael Jackson, or do they say he's talking out of school, he will never record in this town again?
DECURTIS: I think it doesn't win him any friends. I mean, his relationship with Sony right now,
which was his record company for many years, you know, is essentially nonexistent, not to say hostile. So
I mean, you start there.
And it is a kind of language that is meant to go over the heads in the sense of just about everyone
and appeal directly to a community. So he is going to the public rather than to record company or anybody
who would be in a position to really do anything here.
OLBERMANN: Anthony DeCurtis of "Rolling Stone" magazine, great thanks for helping to
explain this for us tonight.
DECURTIS: Thank you so much for having me.
OLBERMANN: From the Jackson circus to the circus that is reality TV. A woman says "Fear
Factor" - yes, no joke, the television show "Fear Factor" - saved her life. We'll explain.
And who is going to save Princess Diana's brother from himself? Word now, he is going to open
up Diana's old bedroom and rent it out for overnight stays if the price is right. We cannot make this stuff
OLBERMANN: It was not long ago that the NBC series "Fear Factor" was the subject of a
lawsuit by a viewer who didn't really believe it when they said, coming up on the show we'll show you
something gross. They showed something gross, then he got sick, and then he sued.
But in our No. 2 story on tonight's Countdown, "Fear Factor" credited with saving the life of
a woman who drove into a creek. Her story in a moment.
First tonight, it is in fact remarkable, escapes to death in a car in rushing waters, nothing. Our
correspondent is Natalie Morales.
MELISSA BORGAARD: It just sank really quickly. It got dark very quickly. And I opened my
eyes just as a reaction, and it seemed the thing to do to try and see where I'm at, what I'm doing. And I
really panicked. I thought I was going to die. And I just thought, this isn't the way I want to go.
NATALIE MORALES, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Melissa Borgaard still can't
believe she only got a few scratches and bruises after her SUV plummeted off a Portland bridge into the
M. BORGAARD: As soon as my car hit the metal grate, it was like I was on ice, and it just
started sliding towards the oncoming traffic. And the car was coming towards me. I didn't want to hit it.
And so I way overcorrected, trying to get out of the car's way.
MORALES: Melissa says she was talking on a hands-free cell phone with her sister just before
she lost control Saturday.
ALICIA BORGAARD, MELISSA'S SISTER: Just remember hearing, "oh, oh," and then "oh,
my!" And I think something is wrong. I don't feel very good about this. We need to go - I think
something has happened to Missy.
MORALES: Her instincts were right. Melissa's SUV broke the metal guard rails and fell six
stories to the river below.
But with her car quickly sinking and filling with water, Melissa could not just sit and wait for
M. BORGAARD: I just thought, this isn't it. And that's when I tried to go, OK, you need to get
out of here. I realized I'm struggling. I'm like, OK, now, you have your seatbelt on, you need to get it off.
You need to free yourself so you can get out.
MORALES: She did free herself and swam out through a broken window. Then she kept kicking
until she broke the surface of the water.
M. BORGAARD: Finally I popped up. And I heard people cheering that were on the river.
OLBERMANN: Natalie Morales reporting.
And then there is Debra Swaim, who didn't have to wait for the good fortune of one of her car
windows breaking. She remembered what she saw on "Fear Factor." The 19-year veteran prison guard
driving to work near Riverside, California, on a nighttime storm surge, swept her car off the road into the
Cucamonga Creek. As writers Mary Bender (ph) and Sandra Stockley (ph) of the Riverside Press
Enterprise cleverly wrote: "It was not her life that flashed before her; it was an episode of 'Fear Factor.'"
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEBRA SWAIM, SAYS "FEAR FACTOR" SAVED HER LIFE: In the particular episode, they
talked about having a mental image on what they're going to do. Have an image of the car, the windows,
everything. That episode, it really - it played a big deal in that particular - in my incident. Just like in the
"Fear Factor," they showed him pushing away from the steering wheel and back in the seat, and then
thrusting themselves up, twisting it out the window. It was working out fine. I did get stuck for a minute.
So I went completely down with the car. I was totally submerged. I was stuck for about a second or two.
But I finally was able to work myself out and swim to the top.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: By the way, as her car was sinking, Swaim says she called 911 twice. The first
time, nobody answered after 10 minutes, suggesting perhaps that when it comes to saving your life, an
NBC entertainment program may be more useful than the police.
We are thus afforded not merely a television-to-television segue into our nightly round up of the
celebrity and entertainment news, we are also afforded an NBC-to-NBC segue. Jennifer Aniston, formerly
of "Friends," has just filed the paperwork to also become formerly of Brad Pitt. Divorce papers filed in
Superior Court, in the County of Los Angeles, Mrs. Pitt will return to being known as Miss Aniston. But
while love has failed, commerce thrives. The split couple intends to maintain the co-ownership of the Plan
B Production Company.
Where does a man notorious both for dubious journalistic credentials and male exhort Web sites
go after he drags his pseudonym out of the White House press room? To the venerated National Press
Club, where else?
Jeff Gannon, AKA, James Guckert, has been invited to join a panel on the same day that Ben
Bradley, the former executive editor of the "Washington Post" graces the hall. To say nothing of the
wonkette herself, Anna Marie Cox, on April 8, the bloggers and online journalism at the National Press
Club. Gannon/Guckert told editor and publisher that he always saw himself as a legitimate journalist. And
perhaps their invitation is a recognition of that. And perhaps, they'll have a surprise Pulitzer waiting for
Royal desperate house wives, straight ahead. Camilla, does not want to be queen, but she has to
be. And Princess Di's brother is representing out her bedroom. What's left, pay-per-view of the wedding?
OLBERMANN: I'll repeat an observation from last week, it maybe difficult for anybody under
30, maybe anyone under 40 to accept this, but the British royal family wasn't created as comic relief for the
rest of us.
Our number one story on the Countdown tonight, the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla
Parker-Bowles embarrassments number 22 and 23. The new ones, a bishop of the Church of England says
that Charles should apologize to the ex-husband of Mrs. Bowles for having broken up that marriage. Part
says the Bishop of Salisbury, David Stancliffe, of the penance of Charles for adultery.
The bishop says the apology should be delivered to Andrew Parker-Bowles before his ex gets
hitched, Chuck, 11 days hence. It should include, he say, "Serious attention being paid to the relationships
fractured or damaged by misconduct."
Remarkably, Charles doesn't even come in first out of the pair of new royal embarrassments. The
brother of his ex-wife, the late Princes Diana is turning her bedroom into a very high-priced bed and
breakfast. The Earl Spencer is offering to rent the princess of Wales room in his family's ancestral home
Althorp for weekend sleepover, $56,000 a night. The offer was nestled inside a magazine sent to holders
of an ultra Tony American Express Card.
The room in which Diana and Charles actually slept is supposedly haunted by the favorite
footmen of the third Earl. No truth to rumors he's only there because he's looking for a percentage of the
gate. And we're reminded here the observation of the British comedian and actor Eddie Izzard who once
explained the royals' conduct noting, it's a bad idea when cousins marry.
I'm joined by Richard Mineards formerly of the "London Daily Express" and after 31 years of
commentary on them he is inevitably a royal expert.
Mr. Mineards, good evening.
RICHARD MINEARDS, ROYAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Earl Spencer first, I realize that the castles, like Althorp, are money pits and it's
not very unusual for their owners to rent them out at exorbitant rates just to make ends meet. But his own
sister's bedroom? Is the Earl down to his last shilling here?
Well, hardly. I mean, he's got this most magnificent Queen Anne Mansion on 15,000 lush acre's
in North Hampshire north of London. But like many British aristocrats, they have the land, they have
house, and they title but they're relatively cash poor. And Charles Spencer used to rent out Althorp prior to
Diana's death, for $7,000 a day for corporate affairs and corporate events.
But now, of course, the whole point of this with this the rather glorified bed and breakfast at
$60,000 a night, the whole center point is sleeping in the bedroom of Princess Diana where she canoodled
with Prince Charles. And of course, this is a enormous selling point to these holders of American Express
Black Card, where you have to spend a minimum of $150,000 a year, so I think it'll be quite popular. But
in England, it's being considered very, very vulgar.
OLBERMANN: In turning to Prince Charles himself, I'm reminded of another line from great
movie called "Kind Hearts and Cornets," about following the tradition of the land in gentry, and sending
the idiot of the family into the church. The bishop of Salisbury suggestion, is Charles actually going
apologize to the first Mr. Camilla Parker-Bowles or is this just some sort of hazy invention of a cleric?
MINEARDS: Absolutely, no way. The irony of all of this, of course, is Andrew Parker-Bowles,
Camilla's ex, used to date Prince Charles's sister, Princess Ann. And he's a very good friend of the family.
But there's going to be no apologize forthcoming. And of course, the man giving the blessing at this
wedding on April 8 in St. Georges Chapel of Windsor, is this bishop's boss the Archbishop Canterbury
(ph). And as the senior cleric, he's saying this wedding is OK. So Buckingham Palace Charles will not be
saying I'm sorry to Andrew Parker-Bowles.
OLBERMANN: And that underscores the last point here. We have these two stories. We have
the one last week about how Camilla legally cannot refuse to be called queen, even though, that was intent
to try to diffuse the controversy over the marriage. We have the mess ups over where to have the wedding,
the rushed announcement about the wedding. My question to you is this, if the royal family spends huge
amounts of money on public relations and crisis management, how do they get it so wrong so often?
MINEARDS: They do it terribly well. I guess, is this is a case of the unhappy wives of Windsor,
because unlike Shakespeare, they clearly don't have an awful lot to be awful merry about. It's evolved into
a soap opera worthy of Erin Spelling and "Dynasty." And stay tuned for the next chapter. It will being
coming quite soon I predict.
OLBERMANN: Well, then give us a shot, we have another 30 seconds. What's left to go wrong
between now and the wedding?
MINEARDS: Well, I - from what's happening, you just never know. Prince Charles has been
told by his mother, the queen, who's picking up the tab for the reception for 800 guests, that he's to
extravagant, that he's got to tone down the celebration. And this to a man who spends a million and a half
a year on entertaining friends. And of course, now the wedding list has come out to have most of the royal
family attending the wedding actually in the Guild Hall in Windsor, and the only two people who won't be
there are his mother and father. More fiasco.
OLBERMANN: Oh, goodness. Well, I'll put my money on Michael Jackson trying to show up.
Richard Mineards, who is not renting out any bedrooms nor demanding any apologize from Prince Charles,
a great thanks for your insight, sir.
That's Countdown, thank you for being a part of it. I'm Keith Olbermann, another fine day in
news. Good night and good luck.
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