Fox News Is in for a Very Rough 2008 By Eric Boehlert, Media Matters for America. Posted January 30, 2008. From losing the election ratings race to CNN, to watching its favored son Rudy Giuliani fizzle in the primaries, Fox News is in for a bad year. My guess is that Fox News guru Roger Ailes has been reaching for the Tums more often than usual early in the New Year, and there are lots of reasons for the hovering angst. Let's take an extended multiple choice quiz. Right now, which of the following topics is likely causing the discomfort inside Ailes' Fox News empire? A) CNN's resurgence as the go-to cable destination for election coverage.B) The incredible shrinking candidacy of Fox News' favored son, Rudy Giuliani.C) The still-standing candidacy of Fox News nemesis and well-funded, anti-war GOP candidate Rep. Ron Paul.D) The Democratic candidates' blanket refusal to debate on Fox News during the primary season.E) Host Bill O'Reilly being so desperate for an interview from a Democratic contender that he had to schlep all the way to New Hampshire, where he shoved an aide to Sen. Barack Obama and then had to be calmed down by Secret Service agents.F) Former Fox News architect and Ailes confidante Dan Cooper posting chapters from his a wildly unflattering tell-all book about his old boss. ("The best thing that ever happened to Roger Ailes was 9/11.")G) The fledgling Fox Business Network, whose anemic ratings are in danger of being surpassed by some large city public access channels.H) Host John Gibson's recent heartless attacks on actor Heath Ledger, just hours after the young actor was found dead.I) Fox News reporter Major Garrett botching his "exclusive" that Paul Begala and James Carville were going to join Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign, and then refusing to correct the record. I'd say it's A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. (I doubt Gibson's grave-dancing or Garrett's whopper caused Ailes a moment's concern.) Bottom line is that Fox News is in for a very rough 2008. And the umbrella reason for that is quite simple: Eight years ago the all-news cable channel went all-in on the presidency of George Bush and became a broadcast partner with the White House. Proof of that was on display Sunday night, January 27, during Fox News' prime-time, "Fighting to the Finish," an "historic documentary" on the final year of Bush's presidency. Filmed in HD and featuring "unprecedented access," according to the Fox News press release, the show was pure propaganda. (I must have missed Fox News' "Fighting to the Finish" special back in 2000, chronicling the conclusion of President Bill Clinton's second term and his "extraordinarily consequential tenure.") The point is that Fox News years ago made an obvious decision to appeal almost exclusively to Republican viewers. The good news then for Fox News was that it succeeded. The bad news now for Fox News is that it succeeded. Meaning, when the GOP catches a cold, everybody at Fox News gets sick. As blogger Logan Murphy put it at Crooks and Liars, "Watching FOXNews getting their comeuppance has been fun to watch. They made their bed, now they're having to lie in it and it's not too comfortable." The most obvious signs of Fox News' downturn have been the cable ratings for the big primary and caucus votes this year, as well as the high-profile debates. With this election season generating unprecedented voter and viewer interest, Fox News' rating bumps to date have remained underwhelming, to say the least. For instance, on the night of the big New Hampshire primary, CNN, which habitually trails behind Fox News in the prime-time race, attracted nearly 250,000 more viewers than its top competitor, marking a changing-of-the-guard of sorts. The turnaround was striking when you consider that in 2004, even with no Republicans running against Bush, Fox News was still able to draw 200,000 more viewers than CNN on the night of the New Hampshire Democratic primary. Yet in 2008, with a very competitive GOP field, CNN was the ratings winner from New Hampshire. And just look at the ratings for January 19, which featured returns from the Nevada caucus coming in during the late afternoon, and then fresh returns from the South Carolina Republican primary being posted during prime time that night. In the past, Fox News would have absolutely owned that night of coverage, as conservative news junkies flocked to their home team -- Fox News -- to see the results. But no more. CNN grabbed nearly just as many prime-time viewers for the Republican South Carolina returns as did Fox News. The problem for Fox News is that it's the Democratic race that's creating most of the excitement, yet Fox News has been forced to mostly watch the race from the sidelines. That's because last winter, after Fox News tried to smear Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) for purportedly attending a radical Muslim school as a child, liberal bloggers launched an initiative to get Democratic candidates to boycott a debate co-sponsored by Fox News and the Nevada Democratic Party. (The boycott, powered by Foxattacks.com, was later extended to any and all Fox News debates.) The point of the online crusade was not to simply embarrass Fox News or rattle Nevada Democrats for being out of touch with the grassroots masses that distrusted and despised Fox News. The point, instead, was to begin chipping away, in a serious, consistent method, at Fox News' reputation. To spell out that Fox News was nothing more than a Republican mouthpiece and that Democrats need not engage with the News Corp. giant. The lack of Democratic debates for Fox News has meant a huge setback for the news organization from a ratings perspective. Just look at the grand slam CNN hit last week when, on January 21, it broadcast the much-talked-about Democratic debate from South Carolina. The CNN event not only creamed Fox News in the ratings, nearly tripling its audience that night, but the debate set a new cable news mark for the most viewers ever to watch a primary debate. In fact, of the 10 most-watched debates this election season, Fox has aired just two, compared to CNN's five. Of the 10 most-watched debates, six have featured Democrats; four Republicans. CNN is virtually guaranteed another monster ratings win this week with a pair of high-profile debates staged in California -- the Republicans on Wednesday night and Democrats on Thursday. No wonder CNN's so giddy these days. Here's the spin CNN president Jonathan Klein put out following its New Hampshire ratings win: "There's a freshness and exuberance to our coverage that the others just aren't matching. ... Fox almost seems downright despondent in their coverage." So I'm not the only one who feels like Fox News coverage, especially of the Republican field, often feels like a televised wake. Or maybe that's just been Fox News' collective, subconscious mourning of the Giuliani campaign. After all, Sean Hannity served as Fox News' official ambassador to the Giuliani campaign; a campaign that Ailes and Fox News were hoping to ride back into the White House. Yet despite showering Giuliani with all kinds of laudatory coverage, both Hannity and Ailes have been powerless, as they watched Giuliani's rudderless campaign go nowhere for months. Even an all-out Fox News marketing blitz to label Giuliani "America's Mayor" never got traction. In fact, it ranked right up there with the launch of New Coke, in terms of branding success. (Watch this clip to see the Fox News absurdity up-close.) In the meantime, the rise of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and especially Mike Huckabee, with his populist streak, has caused all sorts of consternation at Fox News. Even the conservative Weekly Standard took noticed. The magazine recently wrote that "A lot of conservatives have problems with both Huckabee and McCain. Last night on Fox, for example, Sean Hannity could barely conceal his distaste for both pols." And don't even mention Ron Paul's name to the folks at Fox News, who have stepped outside their role as journalists to try to kneecap the anti-war GOP candidate. The most blatant slap came right before the New Hampshire primary, when Fox News refused to include Paul in a televised GOP debate, despite the fact that just days earlier Paul grabbed 10 percent of the vote in the Iowa caucus, nearly doubling the tally Giuliani posted. Paul's Republican supporters became so incensed by the snub that they literally chased Sean Hannity through the New Hampshire night chanting "Fox News sucks!" and captured the scene in a homemade clip that really has to be seen to be believed. (To recap New Hampshire for Fox News: Hannity was pursued by a Republican mob, O'Reilly got into a shoving match with an Obama aide, and CNN grabbed more viewers. Now that's a week to remember!) Oh, and we can't forget the wildly hyped launch of the Fox Business Network, which, News Corp. execs bragged, would dethrone longtime cable business news champ CNBC. Of course, that might happen one day. But the early ratings for Fox Business Network have been unbelievably weak. After two months on the air, Fox Business Network, available in 30 million homes, was attracting, on average, just 6,300 viewers on any given weekday, according to Nielsen Media Research. That was good for a nearly invisible .05 rating. (By comparison, CNBC during that period was attracting 265,000 viewers.) Making matters worse for Ailes was the fact that on January 22, as fears mounted about a possible global financial crisis, CNBC posted its best ratings in seven years, attracting 401,000 viewers that day. The hurdle for Fox Business Network has always been simple: Why would investors and day traders in search of reliable business information turn from CNBC over to the Fox brand, which is so well-known for passing along one-sided information? News Corp. always assumed Fox News would help launch the business channel. But Fox News is taken seriously by so few people, it may be hurting the business launch. After all, Fox News continues to embarrass itself with a type of journalism that nobody else in the industry would dare call professional. And for proof of that look no further than Major Garrett, who is supposed to be one of the channel's nonpartisan, serious journalists. He landed a recent scoop about how former advisers to Bill Clinton, Paul Begala and James Carville, were getting set to join Hillary Clinton's campaign. Carville immediately shot the story down, telling Talking Points Memo's Greg Sargent that very same day, "Fox was, is and will continue to be an asinine and ignorant network. I have not spoken to anyone in the Clinton campaign about this. I'm not getting back into domestic political consulting." Begala did Carville one better and directly emailed Garrett to deny the story -- a story Garrett never bothered trying to check with Begala or Carville before it was broadcast. Garrett's response to Begala's blanket denial? Garrett told the Democratic operative that he would take his denial "under advisement." [Emphasis added.] Garrett then went back on the air and repeated the same story, and added the fact that Begala had been on a conference call the day before with Clinton advisers, which was also false. And no, despite his earlier email exchange with Begala, Garrett never bothered to try to confirm the conference call story with him before reporting it on Fox News. On his Fox News blog, Garrett did acknowledge the Begala email and claimed he'd be updating the fast-moving story soon -- which, he told readers, would likely be confirmed the next day when the Clinton campaign made the Begala/Carville announcement. But the next day when the story imploded, Garrett simply ignored the embarrassing gaffe. Recounting the whole Kafka-esque charade at the Huffington Post, Begala wrote, "I've never had a more surrealistic day. If this is what one of Fox's best and most respected reporters is doing, what are the hacks up to?" They're watching CNN capture the campaign ratings crown.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
NY Feminists Accuse Kennedy of Betrayal for Endorsing Obama StaffAP News Jan 29, 2008 18:55 EST The New York chapter of The National Organization for Women accused Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of betraying women with his endorsement of Barack Obama, prompting the organization's national office to come to the Massachusetts senator's defense. "Women have just experienced the ultimate betrayal," NOW's New York State chapter said in a scorching rebuke. "Senator Kennedy's endorsement of Hillary Clinton's opponent in the Democratic presidential primary campaign has really hit women hard." On Monday, Kennedy, D-Mass., his son Patrick and his niece Caroline Kennedy announced their support for Obama. Edward Kennedy said the country needs a leader who can bring people together and create change. But the move angered the state chapter of NOW, which called Kennedy's decision the "greatest betrayal." "We are repaid with his abandonment!" the statement said. "He's picked the new guy over us. He's joined the list of progressive white men who can't or won't handle the prospect of a woman president who is Hillary Clinton." The group said it was our obligation to "elect, unabashedly, a president that is the first woman after centuries of men who 'know what's best for us.'" Shortly after the local chapter reacted to Kennedy's endorsement, the national office of NOW in Washington, D.C., which has endorsed Clinton, released its own statement. "The National Organization for Women has enormous respect and admiration for Senator Edward Kennedy," NOW President Kim Gandy wrote. "For decades Senator Kennedy has been a friend of NOW, and a leader and fighter for women's civil and reproductive rights, and his record shows that." Gandy said her group respects Kennedy's decision to back Obama. "We continue to encourage women everywhere to express their opinions and exercise their right to vote," she said. In a blitz of television appearances on Tuesday, Kennedy said he'd also support the New York senator if she was the eventual Democratic presidential nominee.
Edwards to quit presidential race John Edwards Will Exit Presidential Race Today, the Associated Press Has Learned NEDRA PICKLERAP News Jan 30, 2008 13:07 EST Democrat John Edwards is exiting the presidential race Wednesday, ending a scrappy underdog bid in which he steered his rivals toward progressive ideals while grappling with family hardship that roused voters' sympathies, The Associated Press has learned. The two-time White House candidate told his staff that he planned to make the announcement at a 1 p.m. EST event in New Orleans that had been billed as a speech on poverty. The decision came after Edwards lost the four states to hold nominating contests so far to rivals who stole the spotlight from the beginning — Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama. "He just said it was time to get out," said Dave "Mudcat" Saunders, Edwards' rural affairs adviser. "I still don't like walking away, but it was John's decision." The former North Carolina senator will not immediately endorse either candidate in what is now a two-person race for the Democratic nomination, said one adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity in advance of the announcement. Clinton said Wednesday that Edwards called her to inform her about his decision. "John Edwards ended his campaign today in the same way he started it — by standing with the people who are too often left behind and nearly always left out of our national debate," Clinton said. Obama told reporters Edwards had exited the race in a "classy" way. "I think he's run a great campaign," said Obama, who aides said also spoke with Edwards Tuesday and asked for his endorsement. Obama aides said Edwards called again Wednesday morning to confirm the news he was dropping out. In a statement from his campaign, Obama said Edwards "spent a lifetime fighting to give voice to the voiceless and hope to the struggling, even when it wasn't popular to do or covered in the news." "While his campaign may end today, the cause of their lives endures for all of us who still believe that we can achieve that dream of one America," the statement said. Four in 10 Edwards supporters said their second choice in the race is Clinton, while a quarter prefer Obama, according to an Associated Press-Yahoo poll conducted late this month. Both Clinton and Obama would welcome Edwards' backing and the support of the 56 delegates he had collected, most of whom will be free to support either Obama or Clinton, though some will probably look for guidance from Edwards. Edwards' advisers said officially he would "suspend" his candidacy, but that was simply legal terminology so that he can continue to receive federal matching funds for his campaign donations. An immediate impact of Edwards' withdrawal will be six additional delegates for Obama, giving him a total of 187, and four more for Clinton, giving her 253. A total of 2,025 delegates are needed to secure the Democratic nomination. Edwards won 26 delegates in the Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina contests. Under party rules, 10 of those delegates will be automatically dispersed among Obama and Clinton, based on their vote totals in those respective contests. The remaining 16 remain pledged to Edwards, meaning his campaign will have a say in naming them. Three superdelegates — mainly party and elected officials who automatically attend the convention and can support whomever they choose — had already switched from Edwards to Obama before news of Edwards' withdrawal from the race. Kate Michelman, an adviser to the campaign and former president of NARAL-Pro Choice America, said she spoke to Edwards Wednesday morning and was disappointed to hear he planned to leave the race. "He felt that this was the moment to take this step, given the reality of this campaign. This campaign has been about two celebrity candidates — excellent and qualified candidates — but celebrity candidates," Michelman said. Edwards waged a spirited top-tier campaign against the two better-funded rivals, even as he dealt with the stunning blow of his wife's recurring cancer diagnosis. In a dramatic news conference last March, the couple announced that the breast cancer that she thought she had beaten had returned, but they would continue the campaign. Their decision sparked a debate about family duty and public service. But Elizabeth Edwards remained a forceful advocate for her husband, and she was often surrounded at campaign events by well-wishers and emotional survivors cheering her on. Edwards planned to announce his campaign was ending with his wife and three children at his side. Then he planned to work with Habitat for Humanity at the volunteer-fueled rebuilding project Musicians' Village, his campaign said. With that, Edwards' campaign will end the way it began 13 months ago — with the candidate pitching in to rebuild lives in a city still ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. Edwards embraced New Orleans as a glaring symbol of what he described as a Washington that didn't hear the cries of the downtrodden. Edwards burst out of the starting gate with a flurry of progressive policy ideas — he was the first to offer a plan for universal health care, the first to call on Congress to pull funding for the war, and he led the charge that lobbyists have too much power in Washington and need to be reined in. The ideas were all bold and new for Edwards personally as well, making him a different candidate than the moderate Southerner who ran in 2004 while still in his first Senate term. But the themes were eventually adopted by other Democratic presidential candidates — and even a Republican, Mitt Romney, echoed the call for an end to special interest politics in Washington. Edwards' rise to prominence in politics came amid just one term representing North Carolina in the Senate after a career as a trial attorney that made him millions. He was on Al Gore's short list for vice president in 2000 after serving just two years in office. He ran for president in 2004, and after he lost to John Kerry, the nominee picked him as a running mate. Elizabeth Edwards first discovered a lump in her breast in the final days of that losing campaign. Her battle against the disease caused her husband to open up about another tragedy in their lives — the death of their teenage son Wade in a 1996 car accident. The candidate barely spoke of Wade during his 2004 campaign, but he offered his son's death to answer questions about how he could persevere when his wife could die. Even as Obama and Clinton collected astonishing amounts of money that dwarfed his fundraising effort, Edwards maintained a loyal following in the first voting state of Iowa that made him a serious contender. He came in second to Obama in Iowa, an impressive feat of relegating Clinton to third place, before coming in third in the following three contests. The loss in South Carolina was especially hard because it was where he was born and he had won the state in 2004.
McCain, Clinton win Florida primaries January 29, 2008 By DAVID ESPO and LIZ SIDOTI ASSOCIATED PRESS MIAMI — Sen. John McCain won a breakthrough triumph in the Florida Republican primary Tuesday night, edging past former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and seizing precious campaign momentum for next week's string of contests across 21 states. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was running third, and headed for the exits. Officials familiar with events said his aides were in discussions with McCain's advisers on a possible endorsement later in the week. Mike Huckabee was running fourth, and pledged to campaign on. Texas Rep. Ron Paul was far behind in last place.Returns from 62 percent of the state's precincts showed McCain, the Arizona senator, with 36 percent of the vote and Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, with 31 percent.McCain's victory was his first-ever primary win in a state that allowed only Republicans to vote. His previous victories, in New Hampshire and South Carolina this year, and in two states in 2000 came in elections open to independents. He campaigned with the support of the state's two top Republican elected officials, Gov. Charlie Crist and Sen. Mel Martinez.Romney's only primary win so far was in Michigan, a state where he grew up and claimed a home-field advantage. He also has caucus victories to his credit in Wyoming and Nevada.A survey of voters as they left their polling places showed the economy was the top issue for nearly half the Republican electorate. McCain led his rival among those voters, blunting Romney's weeklong effort to persuade Floridians that his background as a businessman made him best-suited for heading off a recession.McCain also was benefiting from the support of self-described moderates, as well as older voters and Hispanics. Giuliani ran second among Latino voters, according to preliminary exit poll data.Romney was favored by voters opposed to abortion and to easing the path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.About 40 percent of self-described conservatives supported him, as well, compared to about 25 percent for McCain.The poll was conducted by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International for The Associated Press and the television networks.Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton won the Democratic race, an event that drew no campaigning by any of the contenders — and awarded no delegates to the winner.The Democratic primary was controversial by its very existence, an act of defiance against national party officials who wanted it held later in the year.Even so, Clinton sought to emphasize her performance in the state, holding a rally as the polls were closing.She challenged Barack Obama to agree to seat the delegates on the basis of the night's vote, but he demurred, saying he would abide by an agreement all Democratic candidates had made months ago."Those decisions will be made after the nomination, not before," Obama told reporters Tuesday on a plane from Washington to Kansas. "Obviously, I care a lot about the people in Michigan and a lot about the people in Florida. And I want their votes in the general election. We'll be actively campaigning for them."Romney began the evening with 59 Republican delegates, to 36 for McCain and 40 for Huckabee. Giuliani had one.No matter the winner, there was no time to rest. There are 21 GOP contests on the ballot on Feb. 5, with 1,023 delegates at stake.McCain and Romney clashed early and often, in personal appearances and paid television advertising, in a bruising week of campaigning in Florida.Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, said his career as a private businessman made him perfectly suited to sit in the Oval Office with a recession looming. Sen. McCain argued he knew his economics well enough, and that his career in the military and in Congress made him the man to steer the country in an age of terrorism.By the campaign's final hours, the two men hurled insults at one another, each saying the other hoped to travel a liberal road to the presidential nomination in a party of conservatives.Romney attacked McCain for his signature legislation to reduce the role of money in politics, for his position on immigration and for his support of an energy bill that he said would have driven up consumer costs."If you ask people, 'look at the three things Senator McCain has done as a senator,' if you want that kind of a liberal Democrat course as president, then you can vote for him," Romney told campaign workers. "But those three pieces of legislation, those aren't conservative, those aren't Republican, those are not the kind of leadership that we need as we go forward."McCain had a ready reply. "On every one of the issues he has attacked us on, Mitt Romney was for it before he was against it," he said. "The truth is, Mitt Romney was a liberal governor of Massachusetts who raised taxes, imposed with Ted Kennedy a big government mandate health care plan that is now a quarter of a billion dollars in the red, and managed his state's economy incompetently, leaving Massachusetts with less job growth than 46 other states."That wasn't all, either.McCain aired radio commercials criticizing Romney, and his campaign Web site has an ad superimposing Romney's face on the image of a windsurfing Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee.The Romney campaign also reported numerous negative phone calls, accusing him incorrectly of supporting taxpayer-funded abortions, opposing President Bush's tax cuts and favoring direct talks with Cuban leader Fidel Castro.The McCain campaign said it was not responsible for the calls.
Kilpatrick expected to break silence Wednesday night January 29, 2008 By ZACHARY GORCHOW FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick plans to emerge from seclusion Wednesday night and apologize to Detroiters from his church after a week of metastasizing controversy, expanding national coverage and a mounting circus atmosphere surrounding his possible perjury in the text message scandal. The mayor has no plans to quit, aides said Tuesday. In the speech, to be aired at 7:30 on television and radio radio from the Greater Emmanuel Institutional Church of God in Christ, the mayor will speak from a room before one pool camera. No audience will be present, nor will media members be allowed in the church on Schaefer at West 7 Mile. Asked why Kilpatrick needs to travel to Greater Emmanuel, given that the mayor is forgoing the sanctuary and a crowd, mayoral spokesman James Canning responded: “He chose to do it at his church.” The talk is expected to be a soul-baring apology, according to a person with knowledge of the mayor’s thinking. Aides snickered Tuesday when asked whether Kilpatrick would resign. “He’s the mayor,” Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams said after an early morning meeting at the Manoogian Mansion. “He’s anxious to speak to the people.” The speech will cap one of the strangest weeks in Detroit politics in decades, and it will put the usually ebullient Kilpatrick on public view after his escape to Florida turned a shadowy glimpse of the mayor back home Sunday night into front-page news. Kilpatrick mostly has been out of sight since the Free Press reported last Wednesday that he and his chief of staff, Christine Beatty, lied under oath about having a romantic relationship and about firing Deputy Police Chief Gary Brown. The testimony took place last year in a police whistle-blower case that cost the city more than $9 million. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced last week that her office has launched an investigation. Beatty resigned Monday; Kilpatrick announced Tuesday he would replace her with Kandia Milton, a longtime lieutenant. The mayor’s last public appearance in Detroit was the auto show charity gala on Jan. 18. The next day, he traveled to Asheville, N.C., to deliver a speech at a prayer breakfast honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Kilpatrick issued a brief statement to request privacy for his family after the Free Press report appeared, and was next spotted Thursday afternoon by photographers outside a home he owns in Tallahassee, Fla. He did not speak, but was photographed kissing his wife, Carlita Kilpatrick. The next mayoral sighting was Sunday evening, when cameras captured him briefly as he walked into his city-owned residence. Kilpatrick’s plight has touched off a frenzy among Detroit radio stations and other media outlets. The Los Angeles Times became the latest out-of-town paper to cover the crisis. Two staffers from the morning show of WKQI-FM (95.5) showed up Tuesday at the Manoogian. One knocked on the door of the mansion while the other shot video that aired live on the station’s Web site. No one answered, but a city official later called the station and asked it not to do that again, said the show’s host, who goes by the name Mojo. Also Tuesday, Tom Joyner, whose nationally syndicated radio show is heard on WDMK-FM (105.9) in Detroit, alternately poked fun at the mayor and apologized to him for the jokes. “This is the greatest thing to hit Detroit radio since Bill Bonds and Coleman Young were fighting with reach other,” said Mojo, whose station last week sent two listeners to the Madison Heights hotel room where Kilpatrick and Beatty met, according to their text messages. “The Detroit community seems to be consumed with” the story, said Mildred Gaddis, host of the morning show on WCHB-AM (1200). On WDVD-FM (96.3), morning host Blaine Fowler melded Fox 2 anchor Huel Perkins’ dramatic reading of the Kilpatrick-Beatty text messages to the beat of the theme song from “Debbie Does Dallas,” the famous 1978 porn film. Jeff Caponigro, a public relations executive in Southfield who specializes in crisis counseling, said it is important to be decisive and set the tone early, something Kilpatrick failed to do. “When there is a void in a situation, other people will step forward and fill it, whether you like it or not,” Caponigro said.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Internal affairs? Onetime cops allege they were ousted and harassed because they knew of Mayor Kilpatrick's "philandering"by Curt Guyette5/26/2004 Before the Free Press printed the contents of tawdry text messages between Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his chief of staff, Christine Beatty, and before the recent civil trial where the two officials denied under oath that they were romantically involved, there was this Metro Times story that first brought the allegations of infidelity to light. From the outset, Kilpatrick’s response has been to steadfastly deny any illicit behavior and attack his accusers as liars seeking a big payoff in court. And that gets to the core of what has always made this an important story — not allegations of philandering, but rather the actions of a mayor willing to ruin the careers of two police officers in order to protect his public image. — Curt Guyette, 1/25/08 Allegations that Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has engaged in extramarital affairs reverberated through Detroit late last week. Once the story broke Friday afternoon, print, radio and television news outlets rushed to provide broad coverage of sworn statements contained in court documents. The mayor offered a wholesale denial of the allegations at a news conference later that same day, saying the accusations are coming from people with an ulterior motive: money. Gary A. Brown, former head of the Detroit Police Department's internal affairs unit, and Officer Harold C. Nelthrope are seeking a combined $14 million in a Whistleblower Protection Act civil lawsuit filed last year against the mayor, the city and others. Many of the allegations, first reported by Metro Times on its Web site, were contained in confidential mediation summaries that document the basis for Nelthrope's and Brown's cases. Those summaries were recently presented to a three-lawyer mediation panel, which proposed a settlement figure. In a May 20 memo to the Mayor's Office and the city's Law Department, Councilwoman Sharon McPhail wrote: "Word has reached me that these cases have been to mediation and that the mediation amounts proposed by the panel for these two cases totals over 2 million dollars." McPhail wouldn't comment on her memo or any other aspect of the case, though her memo states that any settlement should, by law, get council consideration. Each side has until June 1 to accept or reject the proposed settlement. If either side balks, the civil case will proceed to trial. Kilpatrick administration officials did not return calls seeking comment on Monday. Metro Times' requests for a copy of the city's mediation summary were ignored. Mike Stefani, attorney for Brown and Nelthrope, would not comment on the amount of the settlement proposal, but said he expects this case to go to trial. While the alleged sexual escapades have been a focus of media attention, if the city ends up paying out millions of dollars, it will be because of allegations that officers were retaliated against for simply doing their jobs rather than the mayor's alleged "philandering." "When he [the mayor] lets a private matter affect how the city is run, then that personal matter becomes a public matter," says Stefani. Beatty at the crux Key to the case is mayoral chief of staff Christine Beatty, one of at least four women the plaintiffs accuse the mayor of having trysts with. Beatty did not return calls seeking comment. As with the mayor, the accusations leveled against Beatty are newsworthy because of actions she and others in the administration allegedly took to conceal the purported infidelity. Among other things, the plaintiffs' mediation summaries accuse Beatty of lying about the sequence of events that led to Brown's removal as head of the internal affairs unit. Attorney Stefani tells Metro Times that the Michigan State Police asked the Attorney General's Office for an arrest warrant charging Beatty with perjury and obstruction of justice, but that the attorney general declined. Asked specifically about Stefani's assertion, Matt Davis, spokesman for Attorney General Mike Cox, would only say that there was "no basis to make any charges" at the conclusion of a state investigation into allegations of abuses by Kilpatrick's security unit. Nelthrope contacted internal affairs in April 2003 with allegations that some members of the mayor's Executive Protection Unit were fraudulently padding time sheets, drinking while on duty and covering up accidents involving department vehicles. Nelthrope also reported rumors of a party involving strippers at the mayoral residence, the city-owned Manoogian Mansion. Investigations by the attorney general and State Police found no evidence the party had occurred. However, prior to the launch of those investigations, the administration released a confidential report identifying Nelthrope as the source of the allegations. And Brown, a 26-year veteran, was removed as the head of internal affairs. Two other high-ranking members of the unit were transferred out. In addition, two other officers have since filed lawsuits also claiming retaliation. Officer Walt Harris, who served as a bodyguard to former Mayor Dennis Archer during his administration, alleges that he became the target of a smear campaign after he cooperated with state investigators last year. Harris resigned from the department and moved to Indiana. Last month, Lt. Alvin Bowman filed a lawsuit against the city alleging that he was transferred out of the homicide division for investigating the killing of Tamara Greene, a 27-year-old stripper who claimed to have performed at the Manoogian Mansion party that the attorney general called an "urban myth." Kilpatrick came into office riding campaign promises to clean up a troubled Police Department being investigated by the U.S. Justice Department. Now, claim some, attempts at reform have been dealt a severe blow. "This has definitely had a chilling effect," says Officer Reggie Crawford, a 27-year veteran. The Kilpatrick administration, says Crawford, "has an agenda to discourage officers from reporting improprieties" on the part of the mayor and those close to him. "Some of us will continue to step up and step forward," says Crawford, who helped establish a reward fund in an attempt to find Greene's killer. "But it makes it difficult going to work every day." There are other repercussions as well. "Officially, I'm waiting to see what turns up in the court process," says City Council President Maryann Mahaffey. "I'm not assuming anyone's guilty. But this is a terrible cloud hanging over our heads when there are such needs out there." The controversy is boiling over as the city attempts to deal with a pending budget deficit of more than $300 million, and Mahaffey is concerned about the time and energy the Kilpatrick administration must spend defending itself in court. "We don't need to have everything tied up in this," says Mahaffey. "We have services to deliver." The allegations The Whistleblower Protection Act civil suit brought by Nelthrope and Brown hinges on allegations that members of Kilpatrick's security unit abetted a "playboy lifestyle" that included extramarital trysts. The two officers claim their careers were ruined when it appeared they might reveal the mayor's behavior, according to the mediation summaries. The suit names Kilpatrick, former Police Chief Jerry Oliver, media consultant Bob Berg and the city of Detroit as defendants. At a hastily called news conference outside the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center late Friday afternoon, Kilpatrick issued a sweeping denial, calling all the allegations contained in the mediation summaries "lies." "These individuals want money," said Kilpatrick. "They will say anything to get money." Kilpatrick pointed out that the Michigan Attorney General and State Police had already investigated the allegations and found them to be false. However, attorney Stefani tells Metro Times that investigators from the state — who were probing rumors of the party at the mansion and allegations against members of the mayor's security detail — were told of the affairs and explicitly said they had no interest in investigating them. City attorneys had tried to keep the allegations from becoming public by obtaining a court order that sealed sworn depositions in the case. They had also tried to keep Kilpatrick and his wife, Carlita, from being deposed. On Friday, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Michael Callahan ruled that the Kilpatricks must provide deposition testimony to Stefani before the end of June. City attorneys have appealed that decision in the hope they can still prevent the mayor and his wife from having to testify under oath. Callahan, responding to a motion filed by the Detroit Free Press, also ruled Friday that depositions previously sealed by Judge Kaye Tertzag were to be unsealed. Much of the testimony describing Kilpatrick's alleged illicit trysts is provided by Harris, who claims he suffered retaliation for providing information to investigators from the Attorney General's Office and Michigan State Police who were probing Nelthrope's allegations. While the AG announced that there was no evidence to indicate that the Manoogian party ever had occurred, he did find overtime pay abuse on the part of Kilpatrick's security unit, which, at the time, was dominated by Kilpatrick's longtime friend, Officer Loronzo "Greg" Jones. According to the mediation summary, neither Jones nor Martin suffered repercussions for "defrauding the overtime system and failing to report accidents." Although both initially transferred from the EPU to other assignments, "there was no Detroit Police Department follow-up investigation" to departmentally discipline them, according to court documents. "For the department not to pursue discipline charges against these two men sends a clear message to the entire Department that the Mayor's friends are above the law," asserts Stefani in one mediation summary, which notes that Martin is back working on Kilpatrick's security detail. In the plaintiffs' pleading submitted to the mediation panel, it is alleged that the overtime abuse was allowed to occur because Jones and others on the security squad "facilitated the Mayor's playboy lifestyle." According to the documents, Harris offered the following testimony during his deposition regarding Beatty and the mayor: "He [the mayor] would give us the order to go over to Chris', Chris' house, and we'd go. By this time we know where she lives. We've been over there many times in the evenings. And we would get there, let the Mayor out, he goes up. He's, 'I'll be back out' and we get back in the car. And we're sitting there and I'm asking Sergeant [Michael] Moore and I said what if her husband comes home, you know, what do we do, do we run out and knock on the door, do we blow the horn, do we stop him from going up the drive at his own house … maybe, he, you know, knows about this and maybe he doubles back home." Asked during his deposition if he remembered having such a conversation outside Beatty's house, Moore, who is not a party to the lawsuit, testified: "I can't recall specifically what our conversation was. It was more or less concerning that we did not want to be sitting there when her husband came home." Harris testified to another incident involving Beatty, this one occurring while she and the mayor were out of town on city business. Harris described members of Kilpatrick's security detail accompanying the mayor to his hotel room: "[H]e gets to his room and he jams his key into the door. He say, 'Y'all good, go ahead.' We was like 'Mr. Mayor, you know, what's going on? We've got to check your room.' … He's like, 'I'm okay.' He's guarding the door again. 'You guys go ahead.' And he opens the door and lo and behold there's Christine Beatty there and he goes in and he slams the door closed and we [Harris and fellow bodyguard] both look at each other and laugh. Christine Beatty's in there and we start laughing. He didn't want us to know Christine Beatty was inside." According to the mediation documents, Beatty testified that, while she did accompany the mayor on out-of-town trips as his chief of staff, "her duties did not require her to spend any time with the Mayor in hotel rooms alone together." Harris testified about trysts the mayor allegedly had with other women, including one that Harris says occurred while he was on duty at the Manoogian Mansion. The mediation summary offers this account: "[A]t approximately 1:00 a.m., the Mayor came down the stairs from his bedroom and told Officer Harris to come with him. Harris hurried to grab his radio and other equipment and when he got out to the garage, the Mayor had already started the car and told Harris to drive. The Mayor directed Harris to drive down Jefferson to a condominium complex called The Lofts." The summary states that Harris and the mayor sat outside waiting for someone to open the electronic gate to the parking lot. A woman soon appeared wearing a full-length mink coat; as she fumbled with her card key to open the gate the wind blew her coat open and "it was apparent she was naked underneath," the document states. Harris testified: "So I said, 'Mr. Mayor, what apartment are you going in? I need to know where you're going.' He said, 'Don't worry about it.' The female was standing there waiting on him. He said 'I'll be out in forty five (sic) minutes.' So the Mayor walked up to her, hugged her, put his arm around her and they walked up the walkway and went towards The Lofts, the apartments there. And I got out and tried to look and see exactly where they were going, because I wanted to know where he was — you know, in the event something happened I need to know where he's at … so I just sat in the vehicle waiting on him. And maybe an hour…maybe an hour and five minutes, the Mayor came out. He just came out, he jumped in the car and said let's go, and we drove back to the Manoogian." Harris and his family have since moved away from the metro Detroit area. Described in the documents as a former NFL player who is 6-foot-5 and 270 pounds, Harris was asked during his deposition the reason for his move. "I'm not concerned for myself," he testified, "but I am concerned about my family, about my wife, and my children, and that's why I moved them out of the city, out of the state, and I moved myself. … Let me say I am concerned. However, if — how can I put this? I'll say they're going to have to come to my environment. … Now, you come down to my environment and I'm going to defend myself to my very last breath, and my family." Nelthrope testified that he and another officer witnessed an encounter between the mayor and a woman he referred to as his "Jamaican friend" in the back room of a barbershop on Leslie Street in Detroit. "The Mayor and the young woman went into the barber shop where the barber was giving a haircut to the Mayor's friend and Chief Administrative Officer, Derrick Miller," according to the mediation summary. "The mayor and the young woman went straight to the back room of the barber shop and closed the door. By this time it was approximately 11:00 p.m. Nelthrope and the other officer remained in the main portion of the barber shop looking through the shop's window at the street. "As Nelthrope and the other officer were looking out of the barber shop window, they saw the Mayor's wife drive by the front of the barber shop. Nelthrope and the other officer were surprised and wondered if the Mayor's wife had seen the Mayor enter the barber shop with the young Jamaican woman. "The officers were nervous. They discussed whether to knock on the back room door and tell the Mayor his wife had just driven by. They decided against disturbing the Mayor and remained at the front window keeping an eye out for the mayor's wife." Timeline When recruited to serve on Kilpatrick's Executive Protection Unit (EPU) in January 2002, Harold C. Nelthrope had been a Detroit police officer for nearly 17 years. Stefani describes him in the mediation summary as a "Hard-working, dependable and honest police officer. He is the kind of steady-eddy public servant on which the citizens of the City of Detroit depend for police service." He joined a security unit "nominally" headed by Deputy Chief Ron Fleming, but in fact run by "the Mayor's high school football friend, Police Officer Loronzo Jones," the mediation summary alleges. The "de facto" second-in-command was Jones' friend, Officer Michael Martin, the summary claims. "These two police officers, though outranked by Deputy Chief Ron Fleming, an EPU lieutenant, and by several EPU sergeants, were given virtually carte blanche by the Mayor to run the affairs of the EPU because of Jones' friendship with the Mayor," the summary alleges. "With no supervisory rank, no supervisory training and no supervisory experience, Jones and Martin ran the EPU in a haphazard fashion which other more experienced EPU officers realized made the Unit highly unprofessional and at times jeopardized the safety of the first family." It is also alleged that, "in addition to being high school friends, Jones and Martin earned the Mayor's confidence in other ways. The Mayor apparently made a regular practice of being unfaithful to his wife with his Chief of Staff Christine Beatty and other women. While Jones and Martin facilitated the Mayor's playboy lifestyle … other members of the EPU who took their oath 'to protect and to serve' seriously were uncomfortable being made to facilitating (sic) the Mayor's cheating on the first lady." Nelthrope was one of those. Harris testified to being told by Martin that concerns over the possibility that Nelthrope might reveal the mayor's philandering resulted in Nelthrope's assignment to keep watch at the Manoogian Mansion so he "wouldn't go out with the Mayor anymore," according to the mediation summary. In February 2003, Nelthrope was transferred out of EPU completely and assigned to the 7th Precinct. "Police Officer Loronzo Jones testified that he was told prior to Nelthrope being transferred out of the EPU that Nelthrope was in fact reporting to the 'feds' on the Manoogian party and other wrongdoings on the EPU," according to the mediation summary. Jones wasn't the only one privy to that information. "Police Officer Michael Martin … testified that at least three different people told him that Nelthrope was reporting unreported car accidents and other allegations about the EPU to the FBI," according to the mediation summary. "…Martin telephoned Nelthrope at home to ask him about the matter but Nelthrope denied that it was him…" On April 26, 2003, Nelthrope met with two investigators from internal affairs and provided information concerning EPU and the alleged Manoogian Mansion party. Among other things, he alleged that officers Jones and Martin were involved in separate traffic accidents while driving city-owned vehicles, and that the accidents were covered up. Nelthrope also alleged that Jones and Martin were fraudulently collecting 50 to 60 hours of overtime per two-week pay period. Perhaps the most explosive allegation, however, involved Nelthrope's reporting of a rumor that in 2002, while the Manoogian Mansion was being renovated for the new first family, there was a party there that featured strippers, and that the mayor's wife, Carlita Kilpatrick, unexpectedly showed up at the mansion and attacked one of the dancers, sending her to the hospital to be treated for injuries. Nelthrope claimed no firsthand knowledge of the party, but said he heard about it the day after it occurred. Brown, as head of the Police Department's internal affairs unit, on April 30, prepared a report detailing Nelthrope's allegations. Included in that report is a claim by Nelthrope that he had provided the same information to the FBI. Brown reported that the FBI's Detroit office was contacted by internal affairs and was told Nelthrope had not been in contact. Before Brown delivered that report, then-Police Chief Jerry Oliver was contacted by Beatty, the mayor's chief of staff, who had questions about the Nelthrope investigation, according to the mediation summary. Oliver testified that he asked Brown on May 5 to prepare a bullet-point summary of what he had learned. Brown did so, but did not include information regarding allegations of the Manoogian party. "I did not mention the Manoogian Party allegation in the bullet point for Ms. Beatty because it was my understanding that Ms. Beatty had assumed responsibility for the EPU and was interested in investigations about them so that she could better oversee that unit. The allegations about the Manoogian did not involve the EPU and primarily involved alleged offense by non police employees of the City that is, the Mayor and Mrs. Kilpatrick," Brown explained in a sworn affidavit. Oliver testified about a meeting he had with Beatty at Cobo Hall on May 6, when he gave Beatty the two-page memo that listed allegations of overtime abuse, accident cover-ups and drinking on the job by Jones and Martin. When asked by Beatty about the Manoogian investigation, Oliver said there was no "official" investigation into those rumors, according to the mediation summary. During his deposition, Oliver was asked if Beatty showed interest in the allegations of Jones and Martin being involved in unreported car accidents. "She did not raise that issue with me," Oliver testified. "… she simply asked me about our investigation about the Manoogian party and the rumors that were floating around, and there were many." Oliver's testimony contradicts assertions made by Beatty that she had no knowledge of such rumors at that point. During her deposition, Beatty denied having any knowledge "that a member of the EPU had gone to the Internal Affairs to report wrongdoing on the Mayor's staff," according to the mediation summary. She also maintained that she had no idea that Brown was investigating the Manoogian party. Likewise, she denied asking Oliver to provide her with a report regarding the status of any investigations into EPU activity. In their mediation summary, the plaintiffs argue that, given that Jones and Martin knew Nelthrope was talking to investigators, and the close ties the two cops had with the administration, "it is inconceivable that Jones and Martin did not tell Beatty and the Mayor of Nelthrope's allegations long before Beatty met with Oliver on May 6th." "Beatty is not being truthful," asserts the mediation summary. On May 9, following Beatty's recommendation, Brown was terminated from his position. Two days prior to that, in a highly unusual move, Beatty had ordered a staff member to copy files in computers used by Brown and two other members of the internal affairs unit, and then to block the officers' access to those computers, according to the mediation summary. Why did Beatty urge Kilpatrick to terminate Brown? Beatty testified that, one day after receiving the two-page memo from Oliver, which came as a surprise "out of the blue" without having been requested, she coincidentally received an anonymous memo contradicting information in the report. The confidential memo, which she said was one paragraph long, contained no specific details, but did allege that Brown was conducting an "unauthorized" investigation. The nature of that investigation was not disclosed. Beatty claims she shredded the anonymous message (without showing it to Kilpatrick) after reading it. According to the mediation summary, Beatty testified that "she had no idea who had authored the anonymous letter and did nothing to determine whether it was credible." Nonetheless, "based on the anonymous letter, she determined that Brown should be terminated." Also, "Beatty testified that she came to this conclusion without examining Brown's personnel file or reviewing his record of twenty-six years or discussing the allegations with the Chief." (The Kilpatrick administration claims Brown was never fired, merely removed from his deputy chief position and returned to the rank of lieutenant, and that he could have continued serving on the force had he chosen to do so. Brown says he was fired.) When giving his deposition on Sept. 29, 2003, Oliver, who was then still chief, contended that the Kilpatrick administration never offered an explanation justifying Brown's removal. During his deposition, however, Oliver testified that, after seeing Brown's original five-page memo that discussed all of Nelthrope's allegations, he concluded that Brown was removed because of concerns that he was looking into the Manoogian party rumors. Oliver reportedly voiced his concerns to other members of internal affairs immediately following Brown's removal. One internal affairs officer, Commander Donald Parshall, testified: "The Chief was saying … you guys are investigating the Mayor of Detroit, and something to that effect 'that's the dumbest shit I ever heard of.' And I remember that, because I hadn't heard the Chief use profanity before." Asked during his deposition whether Oliver thought Brown's termination was related to the Nelthrope investigation, Officer Steve Dolunt testified: "He [Oliver] didn't say that. I don't think he said that specifically. We were told that we weren't to investigate the Mayor and that an amoeba had more sense than to investigate the Mayor and that apparently we had less sense than an amoeba and it went downhill from there. Oh. We were told not to investigate it anymore." The mediation summary alleges that Brown's removal set back the city's efforts to reform the Police Department. "At the time of Brown's appointment [to head Internal Affairs], the city was negotiating with the United States Department of Justice concerning the changes that would be required in the Detroit Police Department to meet the terms of an anticipated consent decree," the summary explains. "One of the problems the Department of Justice had and still has with the Detroit Police Department is that complaints concerning officers were sometimes not properly investigated and sometimes swept under the rug." The Justice Department wanted policies put in place that would ensure "full, thorough and complete investigations." With an exemplary record and a reputation for integrity, asserts the summary, Brown was put in charge of internal affairs to help ensure that that goal was achieved. Just prior to being dismissed, Brown was given a bonus for his job performance, according to the summary. Brown's dismissal and the transfer of his top executives out of internal affairs "effectively put an end to the reform promised by Kilpatrick in his election campaign," the summary alleges. "These very competent police executives have been replaced by people who were chosen not so much on their abilities to get the job done, but primarily on their loyalty to Christine Beatty and the Mayor." One week after Brown's removal, Bob Berg, a consultant who advised Kilpatrick's mayoral campaign and then contracted with the new administration to provide media services, leaked the bullet-point memo to the press, even though it was stamped confidential and identified Nelthrope as the source of the allegations it contained. Berg was given the memo by Beatty, according to the mediation summary. Its release was discussed in a meeting attended by Beatty, Berg, Jamaine Dickens (then spokesman for the mayor), Derrick Miller (the administration's chief executive officer) and possibly Chief Corporation Counsel Ruth Carter, according to the summary. On May 14, Nelthrope arrived home to find reporters on his sidewalk holding the confidential internal affairs memo. 'Clear my name' "Nelthrope had not seen the memo before and was horrified to see his name in it," according to the mediation summary. "Nelthrope knew how volatile and dangerous Jones and Martin were. He knew that both men had extensive disciplinary records. He knew that Martin had been involved in several off-duty shootings and had been convicted criminally for one of them. Nelthrope knew that Martin had friends who were narcotics dealers and that both Martin and Jones knew many street people who would be only too happy to ingratiate themselves with Martin or Jones by seeing to it that Nelthrope or a member of his family paid a price for disrupting Martin and Jones' prestigious, cushy, high-paying jobs with the EPU." Nelthrope contends that stress created by the disclosure made it impossible to work. He is currently out on what Stefani described as a "job-related disability." Nelthrope feared retaliation because his name was revealed. "It effectively painted a target on his back for any thug friend of Martin's, Jones' or the Mayor's or for others who might view his reporting as snitching," the mediation summary states. If it goes to a jury, the whistleblower lawsuit brought by Brown and Nelthrope will succeed or fail based on the jury's evaluation of the foundation upon which their case has been built. The crux of their case is summed up in the mediation summary: "The Mayor and Beatty were concerned that information about the Mayor's philandering would come to light as the result of Nelthrope's allegations, especially if Brown's investigation of those allegations involved, as it most certainly would, interviews of other former EPU members." In a recent interview with Metro Times, Brown said he's pursuing this case for two reasons. One is to recover financially from the blow of losing his job as a deputy chief. The other motivation is to restore the reputation built up over the course of 25 years with the department. "I'm not out to get the mayor," he says. "I'm out to clear my name." "My reputation," he adds, "is all I have." Brown, who says he was "devastated" by his firing, also hopes the suit will prompt further investigation into the Kilpatrick administration. "There has been a clear pattern of retaliation against people doing something this administration doesn't want done," Brown says. To counteract the chilling effect this has had on others who have information regarding the Kilpatrick administration but are afraid to come forward, Brown says the federal government has to become involved. "There needs to be a federal grand jury," he says. "That's where this case will unravel." Curt Guyette is Metro Times news editor. Contact him at 313-202-8004 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Giuliani hints Fla. loss would end run BY DAVID SALTONSTALL DAILY NEWS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT Tuesday, January 29th 2008, 4:00 AM Nesius/Reuters Rudy Giuliani and wife, Judith, arrive for Republican presidential rally in Clearwater Monday. FORT LAUDERDALE - Rudy Giuliani, with his political life hanging in the balance here, hinted broadly Monday that he could end his presidential bid as soon as Wednesday. Asked by reporters on his campaign jet to reflect on the uphill road ahead if he loses Tuesday's Florida Republican primary, Giuliani said, "When it's Wednesday morning, we will make a decision. The reality is that voting hasn't even started yet. I believe we are going to win." But the former mayor also made clear the primary would mark a critical crossroads for his flagging campaign here, which has seen his poll numbers sink from first place to a distant third. He now trails John McCain and Mitt Romney, who were busy trying to paint each other with the scarlet L - for liberal. Giuliani, while sounding upbeat, declined to offer a simple yes when asked if he would be attending a major GOP debate tomorrow in California. "We fully intend to participate in the debate," he said as aides hustled him away. Giuliani's hedged answer underscores the difficulty he'll have if he loses Florida, where he's devoted all his resources. A loss here could set him up for a Super Tuesday shellacking on Feb. 5, when 20-plus states vote. One is New York, where anything but a decisive win could be a lasting embarrassment. The mayor's own rhetoric in recent days has suggested that he considers second place to be a worthless prize in Florida, where the winner will collect all 57 delegates and a hefty dose of momentum going into Feb. 5. "I think the winner in Florida will win the nomination, and we're going to win in Florida," he told reporters. Giuliani staggered through a listless, final day of campaigning by hopscotching across the state in a private jet and greeting small groups of supporters on airport tarmacs. Reporters covering his campaign returned to their plane seats after one leg to find a going-away present of sorts: a signed baseball from Giuliani (worth $11.99 on eBay). In Fort Myers, there were no more than 75 supporters waiting for Giuliani, whose speech sounded more like an appreciation than a call to arms. "We are really thankful for all of the work you've done," a subdued Giuliani told the crowd before turning to his wife, Judith, and thanking her for "all of her help and her assistance and her partnership." With so little good news to tout, the Giuliani campaign was left trying to spin his lack of any major newspaper endorsements - here or in any other state - into a political virtue. "Rudy Giuliani is not endorsed by The Tampa Tribune. Not endorsed by The Orlando Sentinel. Not endorsed by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. In fact, he's not endorsed by any of the liberal newspapers," a new campaign Web ad noted, although many might dispute that characterization of three essentially mainstream newspapers. The voiceover ended, "Rudy Giuliani. Tested. Ready. Now."
Liberal California Dem endorses Clinton 01/29/2008 @ 2:45 pmFiled by Nick Juliano Hillary Clinton received the endorsement of Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat who could provide crucial support when Democrats there vote in next week's Super Tuesday slate of primaries and caucuses. Waters praised the New York senator and former First Lady as "no nonsense, articulate and experienced policymaker" who will be ready from her first day in office to make "dreams a reality." Clinton and Waters spoke to reporters on a conference call Tuesday, 24 hours after Barack Obama scored a publicity coup when he was endorsed by Ted Kennedy, the "liberal lion" of the Senate and one of the most influential Democrats on the national stage. Clinton said the Waters endorsement was especially cherished because of her "connection to her constituents." Waters' Los Angeles-area district is a bastion of Democratic support in California populated primarily by black and Hispanic voters. Waters, who is in her ninth term in the House, is one of its most liberal members, a member of the Progressive Caucus and co-sponsor of a resolution aimed at impeaching Vice President Dick Cheney. She also is a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and her backing comes as Clinton's campaign faces charges that it has inappropriately inserted race into the primary contests. Waters predicted Clinton would win California, which holds its primary Feb. 5 along with more than 20 other states. Clinton also said she was "proud" to receive the endorsement of three children of Robert F. Kennedy, the brother of Ted Kennedy and former President John F. Kennedy who was assassinated during his own presidential campaign. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Kerry Kennedy wrote in the Los Angeles Times that Clinton was "the strongest candidate" for America and the Democratic party. "Democrats believe that America should not be torturing people, eavesdropping on our citizens or imprisoning them without habeas corpus or other constitutional rights. We should not be an imperial power. We need healthcare for all and a clean, safe environment," they wrote. "The loftiest poetry will not solve these issues. We need a president willing to engage in a fistfight to safeguard and restore our national virtues." Regardless of who is endorsing whom, though, Clinton said the election ultimately came down to a choice between individuals. "I trust the voters to sort this out for themselves," she declared. MCL comment: According to some liberals Maxine Waters just commited treason for not backing Obama.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Sen. Kennedy backing Obama for president 10 minutes ago Two generations of Kennedy politicians — Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy and his son, Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island — are endorsing fellow Democrat Barack Obama for president. Obama's campaign said the lawmakers planned to attend midday event at American University along with his niece, Caroline Kennedy, who announced her support for Obama over the weekend. Robin Costello, a spokeswoman for Patrick Kennedy, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that the senator and congressman probably will campaign around the country for Obama, although no concrete plans are set yet. In a television interview Sunday, Obama would not answer questions about an endorsement from the elder Kennedy. "Any of the Democratic candidates would love to have Ted Kennedy's support. And we have certainly actively sought it," the Illinois senator said. Edward Kennedy's endorsement was highly sought after by all the Democratic candidates. Besides his status as a liberal icon and member of the Kennedy dynasty, Kennedy boasts a broad national fundraising and political network as well. "It's going to be difficult choosing," Kennedy said in October. "I've got a lot of friends who want to be president." Caroline Kennedy wrote in Sunday's New York Times that Obama could inspire Americans in the same way that her father, President John F. Kennedy, did. Another of Sen. Kennedy's nieces, former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, issued a statement Sunday in support of Clinton. Also Monday, Obama picked up the endorsement of author Toni Morrison, who once labeled Bill Clinton as the "first black president." Morrison said she has has admired Obama rival Hillary Rodham Clinton for years because of her knowledge MCL comment: I have a funny feeling about this, in a prefect world I would feel 100% confident in Obama winning but from what I seen and what I know how the media treats Democrats makes me wonder. Anytime a Dem's record is being question or under attack the media usually plays the game well it's what he said vs what they said. Now anytime Bill Clinton is critical of Sen. Obama the media get Obama supporter to bitch and moan or try to disregard the comment not even talking about the merits. On top of media support for fighting off Bill Clinton, the right wing media likes him, noted they hated Al Gore, Howard Dean and lame as John Kerry was they went after him. Now they like a Democrat adds more to my doubts.
Christine Beatty will resign Christine MacDonald / The Detroit News DETROIT -- Christine Beatty announced this morning that she will resign her position as Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's Chief of Staff. Beatty made the announcement through her attorney Elliot Hall, first reported by WXYZ-TV (Channel 7). Hall stated the resignation may not go into effect for a couple of weeks. Hall also said that Beatty would not be making any further statement about her resignation. When asked if Beatty had officially resigned, mayoral spokesman James Canning said that "no letter has been submitted." Beatty, Kilpatrick's chief of staff and an old friend from high school, has been the center of a sexual scandal involving her and the mayor. Both Kilpatrick and Beatty swore under oath in an earlier trial that they have never been involved in an affair. However, scores of text messages between Beatty and Kilpatrick -- dating back to 2002 -- seem to contradict their denials. Mayoral spokesman James Canning was terse and tight lipped when he appeared at Detroit City Hall this morning, deflecting questions from reporters who wanted to know if Kilpatrick would appear at work today. "The mayor doesn't have a public schedule today," said Canning, who has been officially running the city during Kilpatrick's absence. Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams would not respond to the same question. Sharon McPhail, Kilpatrick's general counsel, confirmed that she hadn't had a chance to read the text messages between Kilpatrick and Beatty, but said she thought the mayor would survive the ongoing scandal and "won't face any criminal charges." "I'd be awfully surprised if there are any criminal charges from what I'm hearing," McPhail said. "When the facts are known, this is going to be a blip on the screen of all the wonderful things that he's done for the city." McPhail said she had spoken with the mayor several days after news of the affair broke. "He was all about business," said McPhail, who said Kilpatrick urged her to "just get the job done." McPhail said Kilpatrick indicated he had talked with his staff and was "very regretful" about the current situation.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Gibson, acknowledging he mocked Ledger's death, said: "There's no point in passing up a good joke" Summary: John Gibson responded to criticism of his comments the previous day mocking the death of actor Heath Ledger, and said "Did I mock him?" After Gibson's producer pointed out that Gibson had in fact mocked Ledger's death, Gibson replied, laughing, "Oh, that. Well," later adding, "There's no point in passing up a good joke." On the January 23 broadcast of his nationally syndicated Fox News Radio show, John Gibson responded to a post on the blog Think Progress about his comments the previous day mocking the death of actor Heath Ledger, and said, "Did I mock him?" After Gibson's producer, known on-air as "Angry Rich," pointed out that Gibson had in fact mocked Ledger's death, Gibson replied, laughing, "Oh, that. Well," later adding, "There's no point in passing up a good joke." When Angry Rich noted that a commenter on Think Progress asserted that "Gibson will be whining tomorrow that his words were taken out of context," Gibson replied: "No. I meant them, whatever they were. I don't remember what they were, but whatever they were, I meant them." Still later in the broadcast, Gibson returned to the controversy and said: "ThinkProgress.org, the George Soros organization, is attacking me for calling Heath Ledger a weirdo in discussing his death yesterday. At first, I thought, oh, they're lying, I couldn't have said that. And then I listened to the tape, and I realized I did say that." During the January 23 broadcast, Gibson baselessly asserted that Ledger was "snorting heroin," telling his listeners: "Here I am, in trouble for mocking the death of Heath Ledger, snorting heroin, as he was, along with the Xanax and the Ambien." A caller later said to Gibson, "I'm just curious where you actually got your information on any white powder and-or the fact that it was heroin, 'cause there's nothing out there yet that states that." Gibson replied, "Well, yeah, there is, you just gotta read a little more." He then cited "CBS News in New York" and claimed that "the Daily Mail in London, which keeps up on these things, says that a source told them that he had a heroin problem." Later in the broadcast, while discussing Ledger's death with guest Michael Hungen of the gossip website TMZ.com, Gibson stated that "there have been reports from other media outlets that there was some sort of powdery residue on that $20 bill." When Hungen noted that a New York Police Department report indicated that no illegal drugs were found in Ledger's apartment, Gibson persisted, asking : "Why would anybody be rolling up $20 bills if not to snort powdered drugs?" During the closing segment of the broadcast, however, Gibson announced, "That rolled up $20 dollar bill in Heath Ledger's house, clean. No drug residue. Just want to be on the record here, all the facts, keeping you quite up to date on this burgeoning controversy surrounding yours truly." Gibson never apologized for or retracted his previous assertion. As CNN.com reported on January 24, "Tests on a $20 bill found at the Lower Manhattan apartment where 'Brokeback Mountain' actor Heath Ledger died yielded no drug residue, New York Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne said." The CNN.com report further noted that there were no illegal drugs found in Ledger's apartment. In referring to "this burgeoning controversy surrounding yours truly," Gibson was acknowledging the response to comments he made, first noted by Think Progress, on the January 22 broadcast of his radio show. On that broadcast, Gibson began a segment of his show by airing a series of quotes from the film Brokeback Mountain, in which Ledger starred, while funeral music played in the background. In the audio clip, Jack Twist, played by actor Jake Gyllenhaal, says to his lover, Ennis Del Mar, played by Ledger, "I wish I knew how to quit you." Gibson then broke in and said: "Well, he found out how to quit you," and went on to announce, "Actor Heath Ledger found dead today in his New York City apartment." Gibson later said: "You're 28 years old, and you're thinking about death? Give me a break." He later added: "Maybe he [Ledger] was a weirdo." Gibson then aired another clip from the film, in which Ledger's character says: "We're dead." Gibson, adopting a cowboy accent, repeated: "We're dead." Gibson then asserted: "Nah, it's a terrible thing. ... [I]t is terrible. I don't know why a 28-year-old guy is thinking about death. He should be thinking about all the great things that he's going to do in the 50, 60 years he's got left." Later in the broadcast, Gibson again discussed Ledger's death, saying: "You know, there is new news coming out right now that apparently Heath Ledger was suicidal, and his friends saw it coming. I think he watched the Clinton-Obama debate last night. I think he was an Edwards guy, 'cause he saw his Edwards guy was just completely irrelevant -- good looking, wears a suit well -- but should just leave the stage." From the January 22 broadcast of Fox News Radio's The John Gibson Show: [begin audio clip -- from Brokeback Mountain] JACK TWIST (by Jake Gyllenhaal): Well, since we're going to be working together, I reckon it's time we start drinking together. ALMA BEERS DEL MAR (by Michelle Williams): If you don't go out there and finish her. ENNIS DEL MAR (by Heath Ledger): You don't know nothing about her. JOE AGUIRRE (by Randy Quaid): You boys sure found a way to make the time pass up there. DEL MAR: We was fishing buddies. TWIST: I wish I knew how to quit you. [end audio clip] GIBSON: Well, he found out how to quit you. Christine, don't be upset. Hi everybody, it's John Gibson. CHRISTINE: I am very upset. [begin audio clip] DEL MAR: Woo wie! TWIST: Yeah! [end audio clip] GIBSON: Actor Heath Ledger found dead today in his New York City apartment, face down in the bedroom, surrounded by prescription drugs. A confidant telling TMZ -- and TMZ is right about everything about 90 percent of the time -- that he had a serious drug abuse problem. So it appears to be an accidental overdose, could be a suicide. Listen, November '07, he was talking about -- and this is a 28-year-old guy -- saying, "Well, you know, it's a whole -- give me a whole different thought about death." What? You're 28 years old, and you're thinking about death? Give me a break. CHRISTINE: Maybe he was a deep thinker. GIBSON: Maybe he was a weirdo. ANGRY RICH: I'm thinking about it right now. GIBSON: OK, anyway, Heath Ledger died, and I'm sure people will be upset. All you Brokeback Mountain fans, you want to give Christine a call, she'll be happy to talk to you. DEL MAR [audio clip from film]: We're dead. GIBSON: "We're dead." DEL MAR [audio clip from film]: We're dead. GIBSON: Nah, it's a terrible thing. I mean, you know, it's -- it is terrible. I don't know why a 28-year-old guy is thinking about death. He should be thinking about all the great things that he's going to do in the 50, 60 years he's got left. The conservative civil war rages on today. [...] GIBSON: Let's talk about what happened today with yo' money. There was a not-so-black Tuesday, as the U.S. stock market, Wall Street, closed down a bit, sort of in the correction zone, after yesterday's absolute bloodbath around the world. My guest is Tom Sullivan, host of The Tom Sullivan Show here on the Fox News Talk Network, and who also anchors the Fox Business Network each day between 10 a.m. and noon. Tom, so -- SULLIVAN: I thought I was coming in to talk about "Keith Bledger." GIBSON: Yeah, well -- SULLIVAN: I'm a "Keith Bledger expert." GIBSON: Well -- SULLIVAN: Did I get that -- GIBSON: Maybe he had a serious position in the market. SULLIVAN: Yeah, possibly, and today, he looked at the window -- GIBSON: And said, "Oh my god." SULLIVAN: His name's not "Keith Bledger." Is that right? GIBSON: No. I mean, he was depressed about yesterday's downturn in the world stock market. [laughter] [...] GIBSON: Bob in Ohio. Bob. BOB: Hey, John. John, how you doing buddy? I hope your old cough gets a little bit better. GIBSON: Thank you very much. I am going to keep it from you, because my colleagues here say it's so disgusting. BOB: Well, you know, I work in a hospital; we can give you something for that. Listen, John, the -- GIBSON: I don't want a Heath Ledger situation going on here. BOB: Yeah, well, I don't think you're going to sleep yet -- GIBSON: OK. BOB: -- but we'll work on that. But anyway, John, this three-quarter drop is nice. [...] GIBSON: Well, it is John Gibson. You know, there is new news coming out right now that apparently Heath Ledger was suicidal, and his friends saw it coming. I think he watched the Clinton-Obama debate last night. I think he was an Edwards guy, 'cause he saw his Edwards guy was just completely irrelevant -- good looking, wears a suit well -- but should just leave the stage. From the January 23 broadcast of Fox News Radio's The John Gibson Show: GIBSON: There is a war on Gibson, and even though Gibson's always right, there is a war. [...] GIBSON: Just to give you a heads-up about it, I did this -- an hour yesterday on Heath Ledger on my TV show 'cause he, like, was still warm. I got an email, Angry Rich, just moments ago from somebody who said that I was just a horrible, low-life, awful person for mocking the death. [unintelligible] News! ANGRY RICH: John, the start of yesterday's show is now prominently featured on Think Progress, the George Soros operation. Yes. It says, "John Gibson mocks 'weirdo' Heath Ledger's death." GIBSON: Did I mock him? ANGRY RICH: He found out how to "quit you," quote-unquote. GIBSON: Oh that [laughter]. Well -- ANGRY RICH: A little satire. GIBSON: Yeah, it was little Brokeback Mountain joke. ANGRY RICH: You feel bad about it. C'mon. GIBSON: No. I mean, I feel bad about his death, but that's -- ANGRY RICH: It's horrible. AUDIO CLIP (from Brokeback Mountain): I wish I knew how to quit you. GIBSON: There's no point in passing up a good joke. I mean, how many months did we live off that line, Brokeback Mountain? AUDIO CLIP (from Brokeback Mountain): I wish I knew how to quit you. ANGRY RICH: Several. GIBSON: I mean, it went on for months and months and months. I'm not giving that up. ANGRY RICH: The comments are unfortunate. GIBSON: Oh are they? Are they going after me over it? ANGRY RICH: Oh, yeah. GIBSON: OK. Well it's the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, but -- ANGRY RICH: You're a closet homosexual. That's the first -- GIBSON: I am? ANGRY RICH: Apparently. GIBSON: Well, I'm still breathing. There's a difference right there. ANGRY RICH: I guess. GIBSON: Christine, it took you so long to get that? I mean, I was, like, counting the seconds there. ANGRY RICH: "Gibson will be whining tomorrow that his words were taken out of context." GIBSON: No. I meant them, whatever they were. I don't remember what they were, but whatever they were, I meant them. More on that a little bit later. [...] GIBSON: Jerry, Missouri. What, Jerry? JERRY: Well, I'm sorry to hear that you have a head cold. You know, when I tuned in just a few minutes ago on XM and I heard you talking, you know, I thought it was Hillary giving one of her Southern speeches. GIBSON: Y'all fixing to drive on down the road there, Jerry? And sidle up to a plate of beans and a few [unintelligible]? SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY) [audio clip]: I don't feel no ways tired. I've come too far from where I started from. GIBSON: You are cruel, cruel, Jerry. Here I am, in trouble for mocking the death of Heath Ledger, snorting heroin, as he was, along with the Xanax and the Ambien, and you mock me. [...] GIBSON: Well, it is John Gibson. Be sure to stay tuned for the next hour, 'cause we're going to go into this thing of me getting attacked. I'm just reading this -- just by way of piquing your interest. It says here on the Think Progress deal that I called Heath Ledger a weirdo. Hm. I don't -- I don't remember saying that. I might have. I suppose he was a little weird to keep to himself. Although, I keep to myself. ANGRY RICH: So do I. GIBSON: I suppose he was a little weird to be so in love with his drugs that it caused his -- the mother of his child to kick him out of his house. Still wondering about that rolled-up $20 bill with the white powdery substance on it, but you know. I guess it's sort of normal and probably what Think Progress thinks is normal, is if you're somewhere between 20 and 35, you probably do heroin once in a while. You know, just sniff a little for the heck of it. I might think that's weird. Eric in Los Angeles. CALLER: Hey, John. GIBSON: How are 'ya? CALLER: Pretty good. Hey, I'm just curious where you actually got your information on any white powder and-or the fact that it was heroin, 'cause there's nothing out there yet that states that. GIBSON: Well, yeah, there is, you just gotta read a little more. CALLER: OK, where is it? GIBSON: Well, CBS News in New York reported cops -- CALLER: There's no toxicology reports that have come back from that yet. GIBSON: We're not talking about toxicology reports, Eric. Wait, look, the Daily Mail in London, which keeps up on these things, says that a source told them that he'd had a heroin problem. And that -- listen -- and that he had been in rehab recently. In addition, two stations here reporting that there had was a mysterious, or traces of a mysterious powder that they're testing. Let's hope it's not true, let's hope that he needed to take his Ambien by rolling up a $20 bill and snorting it. CALLER: You know, I just think it shows really bad taste on your part, you know, which, you know, he wasn't even, he wasn't even, he was still warm when you started, you know, ripping on him yesterday. GIBSON: No, he wasn't still warm but his body was still there. I'm not ripping on him. I mean, look, here's an interesting thing. Did you notice over the weekend that the AP had prepared a obituary on Britney Spears? And that right now in London the newspapers are making the obituaries of Amy Winehouse? And, you know, nobody knew about Heath Ledger. He was smart enough to keep his life private. He wasn't out in the clubs, stagging around, falling over. I mean, I feel bad for him. He shouldn't have been doing this stuff. Somebody should have warned him. A whole bunch of Ambien, a whole bunch of Xanax, and a whole bunch of whatever it was, and if he was involved in snorting heroin, it was going to depress his central nervous system and he was going to stop breathing. Now, you tell me, why is it millionaire 28-year-olds don't know that? And you tell me, why is it one of the great singers right now -- Amy Winehouse, she is a great singer -- she's lighting up a crack pipe on the air, on video, right in front of people -- [...] GIBSON: It is John Gibson. I am -- I'm under constant attack these days, because -- partially because of the sound of my voice, has really crapped out because of a cold. ThinkProgress.org, the George Soros organization, is attacking me for calling Heath Ledger a weirdo in discussing his death yesterday. At first, I thought, oh they're lying, I couldn't have said that. And then I listened to the tape, and I realized I did say that. And here's the context. There was a interview that Heath Ledger did where a reporter asked him, just recently, about his daughter -- he's got a 2-year-old daughter, Matilda, that he apparently loved very much -- and which he said this: [begin audio clip] LEDGER: [inaudible] changed my life. Well, I don't know. I mean, God, where do you start? I mean -- UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did it change the way you work, you think? LEDGER: No, I guess you're forced into kind of respecting yourself more. You learn more about yourself through your child, I guess. And I think you also look at death differently. Like -- it's like a Catch-22. Like, I feel good about dying now, because I feel like I'm alive in her, you know, but at the same time, you don't want to die because you want to be around for the rest of her life. It's kind of like -- [end audio clip] GIBSON: Now, I reacted to the fact that he said, you know, having a child changed my attitude about death. And I thought, changed your attitude about death? I'm sure it changed your attitude about life, but who at his age and his success and all of that is thinking about death? And I said: [begin audio clip] GIBSON: Listen, November '07, he was talking about, and this is a 28-year-old guy, saying, "Well, you know, it's given me a whole different thought about death." What? You're 28 years old, and you're thinking about death? Give me a break. CHRISTINE: Maybe he was a deep thinker. GIBSON: Maybe he was a weirdo. [end audio clip] GIBSON: [clears throat] Christine? CHRISTINE: Yeah? GIBSON: Well, upon reflection, should I be attacked for that remark? CHRISTINE: You called him a weirdo. GIBSON: Well, I think it is weird that this guy -- look, evidently, and I don't know whether it's because he has to think about death playing things like the Joker. And apparently, this new movie in which he plays the Joker, he's just fabulous. LEDGER (audio clip as the Joker from The Dark Knight): You can change things. Forever. There's no going back. See, to them, you're just a freak. Like me. GIBSON: Like me. Like me! And I must tell you, the fact that I said what I said yesterday on this radio program, was not the strangest bit of reporting that went on on Heath Ledger's death yesterday. This was on MSNBC: COURTNEY HAZLETT [MSNBC gossip reporter, audio clip]: Chris, I have to say, in a lot of ways, this reminds me we've almost had a dress rehearsal for this almost with Owen Wilson and -- GIBSON: Wow! HAZLETT [audio clip]: -- thankfully, that turned out a lot differently. But it's hard to look at this -- GIBSON: Whoa. HAZLETT [audio clip]: -- and not feel reminded -- GIBSON: Whoa. HAZLETT [audio clip]: -- of that from earlier. GIBSON: Whoa. OK. Now, why is Truth -- ThinkProgress.org not attacking the MSNBC lady for saying, well, Owen Wilson's suicide, that was a dress rehearsal for what we saw with Heath. ANGRY RICH: Bathtub Boy [Keith Olbermann] uses their site for his show every night. GIBSON: Oh, right. He draws his script from that site. ANGRY RICH: Right. GIBSON: And from Media Matters, the other George Soros-funded operation. ANGRY RICH: That's right. GIBSON: Well, all right, then if you weren't going to attack MSNBC, you could attack Larry King. [begin audio clip] KING: His parents were divorced, Pat. Are they living? GIBSON [talking over audio clip]: Are they living? PAT O'BRIEN (host of The Insider): I don't know the answer to that, Larry. I'm just going to have to tell you I don't know the answer to that. KING: Ben, do you know? BEN WIDDICOMBE (New York Daily News columnist): Honestly, I don't know. I do know that his family has released a statement insisting that he has not committed suicide, that that is not in his nature. The exact family members that issued that statement, I am not clear on. KING: Do you know, A.J.? A.J. HAMMER (host of Showbiz Tonight): I don't have that exact information, Larry. KING: Do you know, Howard? HOWARD BRAGMAN (publicist): I don't know. I think his parents are living, though. KING: Does he have brothers and sisters? BRAGMAN: I think he had a sister who helped get him into acting when his parents got divorced when he was about 10 years old. Supposedly his sister tried to put him into acting so he could really have a cathartic moment. KING: Was his fiancée an actress? BRAGMAN: Oh, yes. She was also in Brokeback Mountain. That's where they met, on the set. Michelle -- KING: Oh, she played his wife. BRAGMAN: Exactly. KING: Thank you all very much. [end audio clip] GIBSON: Talk about a moron. Larry, ask me, is his -- are his parents living? Yeah, Larry, in fact, they spoke. KIM LEGDER (father) [audio clip]: We, Heath's family, confirm the very tragic, untimely, and accidental passing of our dearly loved son, brother, and doting father of Matilda. He was found peacefully asleep in his New York apartment by his housekeeper at 3:30 U.S. time. GIBSON: Larry, that's his father. He's very much living. Who does produce Larry King's show now? ANGRY RICH: That tape was out there well before that show aired. GIBSON: I could see him asking one person. You know, but by then, the producer's supposed to open the mic, you know, the [inaudible], talk in his ear and say, "Larry, don't go there." He asks five more people. All right, let me go now to Michael Hungen of TMZ.com. He's been doing a lot of work on this. So Michael, I've gotten a lot -- attacked on this radio program over the last 24 hours, for suggesting there might have been some other drug than a legal prescription drug involved in Heath Ledger's death. Now, there was a rolled-up $20 bill found in his apartment. It was confirmed by New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. And there have been reports from other media outlets that there was some sort of powdery residue on that $20 bill. Know anything about that? HUNGEN: Yeah, John, they just -- actually, this news just broke, literally. They are saying the $20 was clean. So, no, you know, no illegal substance, I guess, coming out of that. CBS is reporting today that there were packets of drugs found in the apartment, which, I'm assuming now that that can't be true, if, you know, this -- obviously there was nothing on the $20 bill. So that's the latest coming out of the NYPD. GIBSON: Why would anybody be rolling up $20 bills if not to snort powdered drugs? HUNGEN: Your guess is a good as mine. Maybe he was looking to get some money rolls? I'm not really sure. They're saying, though, that it's clean. I don't know if they're going to keep testing or look at other things and also, you know, confirm what CBS reported, but I'm assuming that that also is not true. GIBSON: Michael, the other thing is that that's not the only report on which we based this notion. There was a Daily Mail, which is a newspaper in Britain, talking about a source of theirs, a friend of Ledger's said he did have a heroin problem at one point and had gone into rehab. Do we know anything beyond the state of rumor about drug use involving drugs that are not legal? HUNGEN: Yeah, I mean, we talked to sources close to him yesterday who confirm with us that he was struggling for a long time with a drug abuse problem, and he -- they told us he did not go to rehab. They also told us that he had been clean for a year, you know, and it could have been part of the reason that he and Michelle Williams got separated last year, you know, that she was his fiancé. But what we were told from his sources close to him that he had been clean for a long time. Now, again, we won't know until the toxicology reports come back if that's completely true anymore. But that'll going to be an interesting turn to this whole story. GIBSON: Well, the whole deal with Michelle Williams, that's his actress girlfriend, mother of his child, young Matilda, was that they were very happily ensconced, they bought a townhouse in Brooklyn in one of those neighborhoods that's, you know, being gentrified, and suddenly there's problems and he's out of the house, and the story so far has been that she could not take his continued dalliances with drugs. [...] GIBSON: News bulletin as we go off the air. That rolled up $20 bill in Heath Ledger's house, clean. No drug residue. Just want to be on the record here, all the facts, keeping you quite up to date on this burgeoning controversy surrounding yours truly. Tune in tomorrow, I may have more voice and I may be in more trouble if things go right. — A.C.S., A.J.W., & T.Z.