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This weekend was the annual White House Correspondents Dinner, so the blog is heavy on this topic today.
The weekend started as it does every year, with a brunch at the home of Tammy Haddad (MSNBC) and her husband, Ted Greenberg. I think everyone in television news knows Tammy — or wants to know her. I have known Tammy for years — many, many years ago she worked for Larry King (executive producer), she has worked at FOX and now MSNBC with Chris Matthews. Her party is always huge... and always fun. The guests are a collection of media people — print and electronic.
Tammy and I frequently have lunch since MSNBC and FOX News Channel are in the same building in Washington, D.C., and because we are not great lunch guests — so we are happy to have each other. Our lunches are lunches of distraction — we constantly interrupt each other's conversation to read our BlackBerries or answer our cell phones about our respective daily news shows. Some might think it rude. Tammy and I think it is just the way we have lunch. We want to spend time together, but we are both in that type of job where things just can't wait. We are both very good at multi-tasking: ordering, eating, seven to 10 topics of conversation simultaneously, cell phones calls, BlackBerries, etc. After lunch, we continue our conversation as we walk back to our offices — I am on the 5th floor, she has the penthouse on the 8th. (It is not really a penthouse. I just kid Tammy because MSNBC has the top floor of the building.)
While I have known her for years, I have known Tammy's husband longer — and I have known him longer than she has. In 1978, I was a law student doing an internship-like program in the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of Virginia and Ted was an assistant United States attorney. I did research for him and other prosecutors in the office. (Note: Another prosecutor in the office at the time is the now the federal judge presiding over the Moussaoui trial.) As you might imagine, in many ways, after you have been here for a while, Washington feels like a small town.
The brunch is always fun and you see many in the business — which means you see your competitors. It is one of the rare times that you actually get to talk to your competitors, since usually we see them only on remote locations and we are all busy working. In the news business people change jobs often, so it is not unusual to have good friends who work for other networks. Of course, since Tammy is now at MSNBC, the guest list for her brunch was heavy on the MSNBC side — but I saw many faces I know.
Just to give you a short list of people I saw at the brunch: Bill Press (worked with him at CNN. He was at MSNBC and now has a radio show); Pat Buchanan (now at MSNBC, but I worked with him at CNN); Tucker Carlson (now at MSNBC, but I worked with him at CNN); Rick Kaplan (president of MSNBC, but was president of CNN when I was there); Nancy Lane (now the No. 3 executive at CNN, but when I was at CNN, she was the deputy bureau chief in the Washington Bureau of CNN); the bail bondsman in the movie "Midnight Run" (now on "The Sopranos," of course) and Lloyd Grove (was the gossip columnist at The Washington Post, but for about the last three years he's been at The New York Daily News. Incidentally, we are all on our best behavior around Lloyd for obvious reasons... and I always tease him that he is dangerous to talk to.)
If you click on the photos posted today, you will see a few pictures from the brunch (and also some pictures from the dinner.)
Of course, later in the day and into the evening began the festivities of the White House Correspondents Dinner. My guests this year were Sara Clarke and her husband Xander Berkeley (both were in the television hit "24" — she played Nina and he played George Mason); Keke Palmer and her mother, Sharon (Keke is the 13-year-old star of "Akeelah and the Bee"); Laurence Fishburne (who stars in "Akeelah with Keke" and will also be seen shortly in "Mission Impossible 3") and Laurence's wife, Gina Torres (she was also in "24," she was Alan Milken's wife and she murdered the president's wife, Sherry Palmer.)
Why this guest list? First, I loved the movie "Akeelah and the Bee" and thought it would be fun to have them at the dinner. The movie opened Friday and the timing was perfect.
As for my guests from the hit show "24," I am a recent convert to "24." I had never seen it (I work nights, remember?), but recently bought the first four years on DVD and was captivated by it. I thought the guests from the show would be interesting and fun. They were BOTH. I had a great time. I also had a chance to learn about how shows like theirs are made. As you might imagine, it is very different than cable news.
I regret that Nina, George and Mrs. Milken are now all "dead" — having been killed in the series. They are all great actors and very nice and I would like to continue to see them in "24." Of course, they are successful actors and appear in many other shows and movies and will continue to do so. Incidentally, my colleague Steve Doocy stopped at our table to have his picture taken with "dead people." (Only Doocy would say that....)
As you probably know, the guest of honor was President Bush. I am sure you will see clips from his speech... he had people rolling in the aisles. I am waiting to see what the reviews are from Stephen Colbert's remarks. I am guessing that the reviews will be very strong — in favor or against. No one will feel neutral since they were strong.
As for people I saw at the dinner: Dr. Henry Kissinger; my colleague, Jamie Colby; CNN's Kelli Arena; Helen Thomas; Rep. Roy Blount; Congressman Steny Hoyer; General Richard Myers (we talked about point and shoot cameras — we always do, we both like them); Tony Snow (whose start date is May 8 at the White House); Ace from "American Idol"; Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame, and Justice Scalia.
And of course there were many, many, many more people you would know, but who I didn't see. Being short in crowded areas does not make it easy to see people. You might want to read a blog by a tall person who attended the event.
OK, enough of the social — now briefly about our show: If you saw Friday's show, you know that the Kalpoe brothers' lawyer, David Kock, was on with us. I was told after the show by investigative reporter Tito Lacle that David Kock is also the lawyer for Deputy Chief Gerald Dompig. Could this really be true? That would certainly be bizarre at best. The lawyer for the deputy chief AND the two suspects that the deputy chief was investigating? That is an interesting client list.
Now for some of your e-mails:
E-mail No. 1
The woman who is making the rape allegations was allegedly raped 10 years ago and was treated for post-traumatic syndrome, why in the world would she seek employment as a stripper where the chance for being raped again would be so high? Her choice of employment sends the message that nothing happened 10 years ago.
Young Harris, GA
E-mail No. 2
The dancer was raped when she was 14, suffered a nervous breakdown and then when she got into a frightening situation (men yelling "get the broom"), she relived everything, just like Vietnam vets used to do when they flipped out.
Whether anything happened that night or not, in her head (especially if drugged) the images were real. Maybe the men she selected out of the photo spread looked like the offenders from Duke, and maybe they looked like the offenders from 1996.
Something happened at that house in April.
E-mail No. 3
I wonder if this woman is stupid enough to say THREE men raped her twice in 10 years. Why wouldn't she say just one man this time? I am surprised that you think she may be lying because it happened twice to her. That is possible. I don't know if this happened, but I will judge her after I hear the evidence (if any) against these men.
Have you heard about the other rapes ex-students at Duke said happened to them from ex-students at Duke?
E-mail No. 4
As you know, I'm a medical doctor in Brazil. An adult having sex with a 13-16-year-old teenager is also a crime in Brazil, but I have never seen anybody going to jail because of this crime.
Why? Because in our society, this is a cultural issue. Our society does not see or feel it as a crime.
A 13-year-old boy would be very proud of having sex with an adult female. He would tell his classmates about it like, "Hey, I'm the best." His dad would be very proud of his kid like, "My son is really a man!"
In the same way, it is very common adult males dating young females (13, 14, 15 years old) and even getting married!
I have this case to tell you: last week my wife and I were invited for a baptismal ceremony of a just-born baby. The baby's dad is a teacher, 21 years old. He was dating his 16-year-old student (the baby's mom) and she got pregnant! They got married and a wonderful child was born (really very cute).
So? Our society can't either feel nor see this case "a crime." Please, say hello to your panelists. If there's only one viewer of your show in Brazil, that would be me!
Love your show,
E-mail No. 5
It seems to keep unfolding. Now we hear from the alleged victim's family that she had some kind of mental break down a year ago. If that was the case, is she on meds and if so, what are they? If she is taking prescription medication and was drinking at the party that could or would explain the report by the police officer who said she appeared to be drunk.
Gerard L. Hawley
E-mail No. 6
I had forgotten how much I enjoyed Tito, during the "early days" of Aruba. Sure wish there was a place stateside for him to report. He may not be welcome on the island after his frank discussion concerning the prosecutor.
E-mail No. 7
I was arrested in 1996 with over a few hundred pills of ecstasy and over 100 hits of LSD and was given the Diversion Program where all charges were eventually dropped against me here in Louisiana.
I think it's judged on a case-by-case basis. We don't have the money for a high-powered attorney, but I'm generally a good kid, working full time, and enrolled in college when I was arrested.
Just wanted to chime in.
E-mail No. 8
Your panel of lawyers confirms the opinion of most Americans; In their opinion, lawyers rank just below child molesters and wife bearers.
San Francisco, CA
E-mail No. 9
1. The value of the time-stamped photos is 100 percent based upon if the "clock" in the camera was set correctly. It is just like setting your watch The camera will record whatever time "it thinks it is."
2. There are a series of time-stamped photos. A smart attorney would have secured either the memory card from the camera or the camera itself to secure that information proving the series in which the photos were taken as well as any photos that would prove the "clock" in the camera was set correctly. To alter all of the information stored on that memory card would be virtually impossible. (When I take photos each photo includes when the photo was taken, what the shutter speed was, what the aperture in the lens was, exactly what the lens zoom was at, if I used a flash and the settings I had the camera at. There is one hell of a lot more recorded than just the picture.)
3. Greta , I can change the time stamp on a photo and I can make a white car a navy blue car in a photo. I cannot change what appears on the memory card from the camera that took the photo and, for your further information, the software used to change a photo does more than change the photo. It also records in an information file buried in the digital data in that photograph when it was last changed.
In summary, a print of that photograph may be changed without it easily being seen. The digital file of that photograph cannot. The memory card from the camera cannot.
For the defense attorney's to offer as proof simply prints of these photos as evidence without the memory card or at least the digital files of these photos would be just plain stupid.
DOUGLAS Photography, Inc.
Commercial Photography Services
E-mail No. 10
Just got back (with my 12-year-old nephew) from a screening in Queens (which is where I live) of "Akeelah and the Bee." You were right... it was the best movie ever. With that said, please do not give up your "day job."
My nephew and I both felt like we were at a real spelling bee contest. If there was a camera in the theatre watching the audience watch the film, one would think that Akeelah was a real person and that we all new her. Everyone laughed, cried, clapped and cheered throughout.
I'm going back tomorrow to see it again with my adult friends. I'm sure it won't be my last time. The acting is great and the sound track to the movie is awesome. This is a movie that needs to be shown in an Imax Theatre.
I will tell you that once this movie is released on DVD, I will be the first in line to buy it. Until then, I will get everyone I know to go see it.
You should try to get every cast member of this movie on your show... to keep promoting it.
New York, NY
Sorry I missed "OTR"... will catch the rerun at 3 a.m.
E-mail No. 11
My husband and I saw “Akeelah and the Bee” this weekend. We thought it was the best movie we have seen in a long time. I mainly wanted to go because of your recommendation. I see maybe two movies a year, because much of what is out there are movies with a lot of special effects, no real meaningful dialog or plot. “Akeelah and the Bee” had some humor, great acting and we came out of the movie feeling real good. We both just loved it, and thank you for recommending it. When it comes out on DVD, I am going to buy it-and I don’t buy very many movies. Greta, if you see any more movies you really enjoy-please pass them on in your blog.
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