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Hurricane Irene Leaves Devastation in Her Wake; Time to Turn Off Reality TV?
Aired August 29, 2011 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS JACOBS, HOST: Good evening and welcome to the DR. DREW show.
I`m Chris Jacobs. Yes, I am back sitting in once again for the good doctor.
And turning to Hurricane Irene, they are still cleaning up tonight after Hurricane Irene pounded the Northeast this weekend, leaving nothing but devastation in her wake. Get this -- over 30 people in eight states were killed. The storm claiming victims from Florida, all the way up to Connecticut.
Three million people were left without power. And although Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm on Sunday morning, Vermont felt the full effects of the storm as the state experienced its worst flooding since 1927. Take a look at this piece of tape.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Millions of people are without power this morning. Dangerous floods now from Irene.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It blows my mind. It`s absolutely wild. I`ve never seen anything like this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m concerned about the flood just like my puppy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We never see this sort of thing in Vermont.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The dams are breaking. The water is flooding. We can`t get out of town.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The police asked us to evacuate due to the fact there`s no power.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of a sudden I hear, "wham, wham." And all of a sudden, coming through the floor, the branches. And it scared me to death.
JACOBS: Unbelievable images there, and such a shame to happen to such a beautiful part of the country.
And lost in all the storm coverage, today marks the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina`s landfall on the Gulf Coast. And as you well remember, Katrina also set off catastrophic flooding and, get this, was responsible for over 1,700 deaths.
Now, luckily, Irene wasn`t that severe, but due to flooding, she has left a few people stranded in their homes. We have got one of them with us. Tonight on the phone is Safina Mahmood, who was stranded with her husband and her cousin in her apartment in Riverdale, New Jersey.
And also, from CNN, correspondent Amber Lyon joins us, reporting from Brattleboro, Vermont.
Amber, unbelievable pictures we just saw there of the flood damage in Vermont. Now, Vermont is mostly landlocked. What kind of destruction have you seen there due to all this flooding?
AMBER LYON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there has been widespread destruction of roads, buildings, houses being swept away. And it`s pretty deceiving out here right now because the weather is beautiful. But the governor of the state tells us there are currently active search and rescues under way for people believed to have been swept away in the floodwaters.
Right now the waters at higher elevations are starting to recede, but we`re seeing waters at lower elevations start to crest. And out here, if you look behind me, take a look at this building. This is an artist studio. No one was in it at this time, but this brook -- it`s normally called a brook -- became a raging river and came through here and just wiped out the bottom of that foundation. We`re just sitting here waiting for this to collapse into the water.
Also, bridges knocked out, roads knocked out as well. About 260 roads across this state are flooded right now.
And a big concern that the state is having and emergency responders are having is they`re worried that sometimes the ground underneath the road may have been washed away, and the road may appear to be OK from the top. But if a car was to go across it, it could collapse. So they`re urging residents just to stay at home unless it`s absolutely necessary that they leave.
Another concern they`re having now is how residents interact with the floodwaters. Just north of here, a sewer line busted. We`ll smelling a little bit of that down here, as well as some residents on Twitter are complaining that they`re smelling gas in the air.
Just two blocks from here the town had to be cordoned off because residents were smelling gas from loose propane tanks. Rescue crews and officials are out trying to gather those right now.
And above all, just warning people that although Irene isn`t here, it`s not raining as much, you`re still going to see some flooding. So, stay vigilant, stay safe, and stay home.
JACOBS: Amber, I mean, just such devastation that we`re seeing behind you, and the images we`re showing our viewers right now. Such a shame that so many of those historical bridges have been taken out.
Have you talked to any of the residents? What is the morale like of the people who live in that section of Vermont?
LYON: Well, residents over here now are in a matter of just trying to rescue what they can. We have guys across the streets with their tools and belongings outside of their homes. They`re taking them out, drying them off, trying to save that.
Also, we`re seeing a lot of residents just in awe. We`ve seen people, a countless amount of people, come out here to take pictures of these buildings and this brook, because normally this is a popular swimming hole in town, and now it`s become more of a river, and it`s four times its usual size. So I think residents are just a little shaken up and a little in shock right now.
JACOBS: Well, Amber, stay safe and stay dry. Thank you so much out there.
Amber Lyon is in Brattleboro, Vermont.
And I want to turn now to Safina Mahmood, who is stranded in New Jersey, in their apartment with her husband and her cousin.
Now, Safina, I understand you guys just moved into this place. Quite a welcome for you.
SAFINA MAHMOOD, NEW JERSEY RESIDENT: Yes, we just moved in last weekend. And I still haven`t unpacked. I still have things in my car and haven`t had the time, or with the weather and everything, it`s just been crazy.
JACOBS: We`re looking at a picture of you on screen right now, of you wading knee deep into what looks like a street, I guess.
JACOBS: Where did you come from? Have you experienced any sort of weather like this before?
MAHMOOD: Never. I`m from Michigan. My husband is from Toronto. And my cousin is from England.
JACOBS: Oh, wow. So it`s quite a vacation for your cousin over here from England, huh?
MAHMOOD: He just came in Friday night from Newark Airport.
JACOBS: I think that`s known as bad timing.
Let me ask you this. I know there were mandatory evacuations, Safina. Why did you guys choose to stay and ride the storm out?
MAHMOOD: We chose to stay because pretty much everyone else in the apartment complex stayed, too. And it seemed like since we were higher up, that we wouldn`t get it into our apartment. And we don`t really know anyone here to actually stay with. So that was a problem.
JACOBS: You had nowhere to go, yes.
MAHMOOD: Yes, we had nowhere to go, and we just moved in. And it`s like, OK, now we`ve got to move back out.
JACOBS: Now, I know that, you know, Hurricane Irene has moved on, but there`s still impending danger. Pompton Lake, which is only about a mile away from your apartment, is expected to crest tomorrow and bring even more water and potential flooding.
Are you worried about that? And have you made any preparations for that?
MAHMOOD: I mean, they did say that if it does crest, the Pompton River, they say that that`s been -- like I said, the most major flooding is in that area. There`s four rivers here. There`s the Ramapo River, the Pequannock, Passaic and the Pompton.
And so the Pompton River is the one that hasn`t crest yet. And they said it`s going to crest tonight, and we`re not sure how much more it`s going to flood into our area.
But we do have generators. I don`t know how long they will last. But Thursday, when the apartment complex and when President Obama and everyone told us that we need to make plans, go grocery shopping, get the things that we need to get done beforehand, so that Thursday night my husband and I went and we got our flashlights and the batteries and the candles and the non-perishable-type foods like canned corn and canned tuna and stuff like that.
So we do have enough food.
JACOBS: Yummy stuff. Yummy stuff. I might not be able to make it over there for dinner, but it sounds like it`ll be good.
Safina, I want you to stay safe and stay dry out there. Thank you so much for joining us.
MAHMOOD: Thank you.
JACOBS: And I hope beyond this it is a happy life out there where you are in New Jersey.
All right. Up next, we all are familiar with the suicide of Russell Armstrong, a husband of one of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." Well, now comes to light a second suicide that is related to the story.
Sally Jessy Raphael joins us with her take on what is going on in reality TV these days.
And later in the show, Casey Anthony`s parents and their big TV interview with Dr. Phil.
You`re watching DR. DREW.
Stay with us.
JACOBS: Welcome back to DR. DREW. I`m Chris Jacobs. And it is my honor to be sitting in for Drew again tonight.
All right. We`re all very familiar with this next story.
Two weeks ago, "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Russell Armstrong committed suicide. Well, tonight we`ve learned about a second death. That is from Alan Schram, a business associate and friend of Armstrong. He killed himself also last week.
And Radar Online confirms that he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. And he killed himself just 24 hours after Russell died, and only about a half-mile away from where Russell`s body was discovered.
So, could this other tragedy shed some light on Armstrong`s business deals? Was the financial pressure perhaps too much for either man to handle.
Well, here to talk about reality television and its effects on people`s lives is Dylan Howard. He`s the senior executive director of Radar Online.
And also former "Jenny Jones" producer Carrie Clifford.
And joining us live on satellite, Sally Jessy Raphael, who, of course, knows a thing or two about television and its impact.
Dylan, let me start with you. Talking about Alan Schram`s death, it doesn`t seem to me like this could be a coincidence. What`s your take?
DYLAN HOWARD, SR. EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, RADAR ONLINE: Well, inevitably, that`s the question that the coroner is looking at now, sinister or coincidence?
What we do know is the two men were linked together by a group called Tiger 21, which is an organization, if you like, a fraternity of high net wealth individuals. And both these gentlemen were involved in that.
Now, whether or not there`s something more sinister to that, perhaps a bad business deal, that will be the focus of some sort of probe at the moment. Certainly those close to Taylor Armstrong are very surprised by this, and there`s certainly no indication at this point to think that there was anything more sinister than just a horrible coincidence.
JACOBS: I know some of the housewives were discussing Alan`s suicide at Russell`s memorial. They were connected through Tiger 21, which is kind of a fraternity for high net worth investors.
How much apart do you think the connection of being involved in Tiger 21 is going to play in the suicides being linked?
HOWARD: Well, obviously, there`s questions to be asked. And I asked questions today at the organization. I didn`t get any answers. They said that they wouldn`t comment on membership of the group because it is an exclusive group.
But this certainly does shine a lot on Russell Armstrong`s finances at a time when it was said that he was stretching beyond his means. He was a member of this significant group, so there`s certainly going to be something to explore here, and it throws a twist into what is already a horrific story.
JACOBS: Now, Bravo, the network which airs "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," is still deciding what to do with season two. It`s amazing to think it`s only been on the air for one season.
They`re supposed to premiere the show a week from today. Here`s what Bravo`s president told "Variety" magazine.
"Contrary to what is being reported, we have not made a decision to change our original premiere date, but we are in the process of re-editing the show."
Dylan, what do you expect from this re-edit? Do you think Russell`s part will be completely cut out?
HOWARD: What I`m hearing is that, no, it won`t. And this is a dramatic turn.
I`m hearing that he will still play a role in the program. How significant? I`m not sure.
It certainly raises questions though from his family, which has said they want him cut out. And as I understand it, there are even scenes of Russell and Taylor going to a marriage counselor, and their most heartfelt issues and problems being laid bare. That to me seems too morbid.
JACOBS: It`s kind of a double-edged sword, because on the one hand, the show is about their lives, but when a tragedy like this occurs, do you air it or not?
HOWARD: Well, I mean, ,inevitably, that`s what Bravo is facing. They know that this will be a ratings winner. But I think common sense and decency must win out on this. And if they`re not prepared to edit him out completely, they need to take the knife to it and give it a good whack.
JACOBS: Well, this is certainly not the first time that death has been a part of television. Jenny Jones was on trial for the death of one of her guests. She was talking about a guest who was murdered when another guest on the show found out that it was a guy who had a crush on him.
Take a listen to this piece of tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENNY JONES, FMR. TALK SHOW HOST: The format was that it was a secret crush. And we had done them before. We had done a same-sex secret crush before that went very well.
This one had the extra added angle of it being a surprise as to who had the crush and a surprise as to the sex of the person who had the crush. That`s why we said male or female to all the guests.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JACOBS: Sally, I`d love to bring you in on this topic.
Do you think that "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" has just seen its "Jenny Jones" moment?
SALLY JESSY RAPHAEL, FMR. HOST, "SALLY": Yes, very much a "Jenny Jones" moment.
You know, I was thinking about something. When that happened, I said to myself, gee, instead of Jenny, that could have been me. In fact, it could have been any of us.
A lot of this -- and I don`t want to appear too hard-edged. But a lot of this is sheer numbers.
There are a million people that kill themselves every year. And it`s the 11th largest killer, as a matter of fact, if you want to call it a disease of all the diseases.
But we had a meeting, and our exec producer at that time, Burt Dubrow, said, "You know, it could be you, it could be me. What can we do about this?"
And so we instigated something that I think the majority of the reality shows do not do. What we did was videotape all of the briefings that the producers give the guests and would-be guests, so that if somebody says oh, look, this happened, and you told her to do this or to say this, we can say no, no, it didn`t happen that way, take a look at the videotape.
And then there`s another thing that we started with, and that was aftercare. So, somebody comes -- oh, by the way, the difference between talk shows and reality shows, people came on talk shows to talk about their problems. Reality shows, they come on to show the problems.
So on talk shows, what we did was we contacted a doctor, a psychiatrist, whatever their problem was, in their area and we looked in on them for up to two years. We had aftercare. We had people who were there to help them solve their problems and to find out how they were doing. And maybe that would be some help so that something like this would not happen.
JACOBS: Well, Sally, that is so refreshingly responsible. And I`d like to mention that Burt Dubrow is probably very pleased you mentioned his name. He`s also the executive producer of this show.
So, Burt, welcome to the telecast.
I want to bring in Carrie Clifford, who is Jenny Jones` former producer.
Carrie, what sort of, if any, vetting process did you have to prevent this type of situation from happening?
CARRIE CLIFFORD, FMR. PRODUCER, "THE JENNY JONES SHOW": Well, just what Sally was saying, you know, I do think sometimes it takes a tragedy to implement these changes. And I do think that a lot of changes went into effect on talk shows after this murder.
And this was 1995. So this was before, really, the Internet and the ability to do a lot of vetting.
At that time, there wasn`t necessarily a good vetting process. We would verify guests` Social Security numbers and make sure they were who they said they were, but we were more concerned that the guests weren`t going on other shows, that they hadn`t gone on Sally Jessy`s show. We didn`t have that follow-up that she`s talking about. But again, I think because of this, even on "The Jenny Jones Show" and other shows, things were put into effect.
JACOBS: And as you mentioned, it was 1995, kind of before the time when anybody with a cell phone could become famous of their own accord by doing something outrageous on tape. So it was kind of a new occurrence.
In your opinion, seeing what`s happening now, the current crop of reality shows and talk shows, is this kind of the beginning of the end? Have we reached a breaking point here?
CLIFFORD: Oh, my gosh, I mean, I am not the authority to comment on it. Obviously, I think it`s a tragedy with what`s happened with "Real Housewives," but suicide and murder happens in any capacity.
And I don`t know what brought him to the brink of doing that, and if it had anything to do with the TV show, or if it was just what was going on in his life. You know?
But I don`t know. The fact that we`re tuning in to watch -- and I`m sure if they air this season the way they`re planning on it, the ratings are going to go up. Right? We`re all so curious about what`s happening and the behind the scenes, right?
JACOBS: Unfortunately, we are all very curious because of this tragedy.
I want to thank you guys very much for joining me. Very insightful comments on this subject.
And when we come back, are George and Cindy Anthony, Casey`s parents, telling all in a new TV interview?
And also ahead, a sensational trial. Did a hate crime lead to a teenager`s death? You`re not going to want to miss this story.
Stay with us.
JACOBS: Well, we have become way too familiar with reality television and the way it encourages the rewards of outrageous behavior.
Well, check out this infamous clip from "Real Housewives of New Jersey."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW JERSEY")
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Patty (ph), put her in my car! Put her in my car right now! Get her to my car right now!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Leave her alone! Stop it!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who do you think you are?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Leave her alone! Leave her alone!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m hurt, to say the least, that they feel they have to treat me like this. And I`m in pain physically and emotionally.
(END VIDEO CLIP, "REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW JERSEY")
JACOBS: Ah, the drama of reality television. Difficult not to watch that, isn`t it?
Well, let`s talk about this.
I`m back with my guests, Dylan Howard, who is the senior executive director of Radar Online, and former "Jenny Jones" producer Carrie Clifford. And also, via satellite, former TV talk show host Sally Jessy Raphael.
Sally, let me ask you, in light of the "Jenny Jones" situation, did you ever come close to having a similar experience?
RAPHAEL: No. Sorry, no. We didn`t.
But you know what? There`s a formula for these shows.
You take people who are unstable and you brief them. In fact, you brief them to the point where you put words in their mouth.
You then spend a fortune in editing it down so that something that might be minuscule in a reality -- I don`t know how they call this reality television. It`s about -- it should be called fake television, not reality television. I think talk shows --
JACOBS: Yes, it`s scripted reality, essentially.
RAPHAEL: Yes. What you`re doing is reality television. What they`re doing is fake television.
So, unstable people, well briefed, tremendous bills in editing. And that`s what you get.
Is it going to go away? Absolutely not. You know, television in America is bottom line profit. That`s why I didn`t get any coffee at the studios here today.
JACOBS: And speaking of profit and viewership, Bravo is getting huge ratings off of "The Real Housewives" franchises.
And turning back to the Russell Armstrong suicide for just a moment, Dylan, I want to ask you this question. There are reports out there that Russell may have been motivated to commit suicide because of an upcoming tell-all book that was going to out him as a bisexual.
Is there any truth at all to this?
HOWARD: Well, there is. We broke the story, Chris, that there was a tell-all book about "The Real Housewives." Not just about Russell Armstrong, but about the entire franchise.
And as part of that, it was going to expose a secret double life that he was leading, a life that his wife Taylor -- his now obviously grieving wife -- but even then, when she was estranged, she knew that there was something going on behind the scenes. And that was going to be exposed.
Interestingly enough, when you talk about scripted reality, we have a story coming out in our sister publication, "Star," on Wednesday. And it details one of Russell`s last conversations that he had with a co-star of "The Housewives" in which he said that the breakdown of his marriage was fueled by producers that told him and his wife at the end of the first series that they needed to amp it up to stay on the show. That was some of his last wishes that he expressed to someone.
JACOBS: I want to point out that HLN cannot confirm that story. But go to Radar Online if you want to read about it.
And coming up next, are George and Cindy Anthony cashing in on the Casey Anthony trial? Are they selling their story and raking in the cash? Well, there`s more to this story than meets the eye, and you`ll find out, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACOBS (voice-over): George and Cindy Anthony speak out. Dr. Phil is hyping quote, "new information." Have they been holding back details about Little Caylee`s death or is it just savvy promotion?
And later, a brutal classroom slung the victim 15 and gay, the shooter 14 and straight. Prosecution says it`s a hate crime, plain and simple, but the defense claims the shooter was pushed to the edge by sexual harassment. Gay panic or grasping at straws?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACOBS (on-camera): Good evening and thank you very much for being with us. I`m Chris Jacobs taking a break from my "Entertainment Tonight" duties to sit in for my good friend, Dr. Drew.
And up next, cashing in on Caylee. We`re not talking about the media this time. We`re talking about mom and dad, and perhaps, even the prosecutor of the case. It`s in the can, as they say in Hollywood. Cindy and George Anthony have taped the Dr. Phil show which has released this campaign will be on Dr. Phil`s first show of the fall season. Now, listen to this, at one point, Dr. Phil says sternly, you know the truth. Take a look at this clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. PHIL, HOST: I want you to answer my questions, tell the truth once and for all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Casey Anthony`s Parents.
DR. PHIL: America`s never heard this explanation before. Why have you sat on this information?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The exclusive in-depth interview.
DR. PHIL: Cindy, there are millions of people that want to shake you awake.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The questions you want asked.
DR. PHIL: Do you buy that that was an accidental drowning? You know the truth, don`t you?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JACOBS: Yes. Dr. Phil really knows the art of the tease, doesn`t he? Well, here with me to discuss this topic are Mark Eiglarsh from Miami. He is my good friend and criminal defense attorney, and also Lisa Bloom, also a fellow attorney and the author of "Think," plus Dylan Howard, senior executive editor of "Star" and "Radar Online."
Dylan, I want to turn to you first. Did the Dr. Phil show to your knowledge make a donation to the Caylee fund or did the Dr. Phil show pay the Anthonys for this interview? Meaning, that the foundation may have a direct financial impact on the grandparents?
DYLAN HOWARD, SENIOR EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "STAR" AND "RADAR ONLINE": Well, we don`t know whether the foundation is, indeed, going to be paying George and Cindy Anthony, and it hasn`t been confirmed whether or not Dr. Phil did, indeed, pay for the interview. But what my understanding is based on behind-the-scenes negotiations, that this was a significant sum paid to the foundation which will be launched (INAUDIBLE) Little Caylee.
That amount has not been disclosed, but it wouldn`t surprise me based on what I know that it wasn`t north of $1 million.
JACOBS: Wow! That`s a lot of zeros. Are you surprised that they gave this interview because of the sensitive nature of the subject?
HOWARD: No, I`m not. I do believe that, specifically, George needed a right to be able to defend some of the claims that were made to him during the trial, of course, the most notable being Jose Baez`s allegation of sexual abuse against Casey. So, I`m not surprised that they come forward, and certainly, based on that tease that we saw, it`s going to be a riveting hour.
JACOBS: What about a potential conflict of interest, though, because I understand that the parents are on the board of directors of the Caylee fund. And, you know, donations are going to be made to that fund and they`re drawing a salary, perhaps, from that. Is there any sort of conflict of interest?
HOWARD: That we don`t know. Ever so slightly, I would say, there`s a conflict of interest. I think the good that`s being done by creating that foundation fire outweighs any negative. And I think George and Cindy here are innocent people. They have a right to speak. Certainly, we want to hear what they have to say. And I`m sure millions of Americans will tune in.
JACOBS: Lisa, weigh in on this for me, will you? What does it say to the nation when, you know, after what seems to be a travesty of justice, Casey going free. What does it say to the nation when her parents are now seemingly exploiting the situation on shows like "Dr. Phil"?
LISA BLOOM, ATTORNEY: Well, I don`t think they are exploiting it. First of all, we don`t know if they`re being paid or if the foundation is being. So, these are a lot of suppositions (ph), but if they`re raising money from a major media outlet for a foundation that`s going to help children, I say good for them. And look, everybody`s been talking about them. A lot of media organizations have been profiting off of the story, let`s be honest, with huge ratings.
You know, why shouldn`t they earn some money for the time that they`re going to spend giving an interview telling their side of the story. If they`re giving the money to a foundation, I mean, that`s terrific. The bottom line to me is, are they hiding information? I mean, that`s what`s being tease. Did they hide information from law enforcement?
Information that should have come into the trial that only Dr. Phil was able to get out of them? If that`s the case, boy, they`re really going to be in hot water with local law enforcement.
JACOBS: Well, what about that? I mean, she`s been found not guilty. Meaning, she cannot be retried. Even if she ran down the street saying, I killed her. She can`t be retried. So, what if Dr. Phil does get some information out of the parents that the prosecution or the police were not able to? What happens then?
BLOOM: You make such an important point that a lot of people don`t understand. Because of the double jeopardy clause of the U.S. constitution, Casey Anthony can never be retried. If she stood up and said I did it, and she brought people to new evidence to prove that she did it, the smoking gun, she can never ever be retried. I mean, that`s the bottom line here.
However, witnesses at the trial could be tried for perjury if they said something false at the trial. Now, Cindy Anthony, it`s already been said she`s not going to be tried for perjury. But if something new comes out in this interview, I mean, the flood gates could open. So, I`m very interested to see what Dr. Phil got out of them. He is a tough interviewer. And I`m sure that there were no conditions on this interview. Once they agree to do it, it`s clear he asked some very tough questions.
JACOBS: I love it when you get a topic you can get a flare up about. I want to bring in Mark Eiglarsh right now. Mark, you weren`t surprised that the Anthonys gave this interview, were you? Do you think they`ll make a profit from it? Because as I told Lisa, they are on the board of directors of the Caylee fund. Conflict of interest here?
MARK EIGLARSH, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I wasn`t surprised, number one. I`m glad they`re doing it. Let me just say this. That doesn`t mean that I`m going to necessarily watch it. I probably will. But what makes this country so wonderful is the First Amendment. They have the freedom to speak. If we don`t want to watch it, if it angers us, don`t watch "Dr. Phil."
It really is that simple. And for all the others who do watch it, maybe they`ll get some insight to learn something more about the system. It might outrage them what went on to find out certain things, but that`s what`s wonderful about this country.
JACOBS: Mark, first of all, nice tie, by the way. And no, we did not call each other. What about the conflict of interest of the prosecutor in this case so quickly writing a book. I believe it`s already out for sale.
EIGLARSH: Well, again, no one has to buy it, number one. And if they do, the fact that it came out quick means that his concepts, his thoughts, his insights were memorialized fairly quickly. The side that wants to crucify him could punish him for capitalizing. But again, it`s his right. He did everything he could to bring justice to this case. He worked hard. He took criticism. It`s his right to do so, and it`s our right to turn our back if we want to to not buy this book. It`s that simple.
JACOBS: Mark, you make a great point there that he did everything in his power to bring justice to this case. Dylan and Lisa, I want to turn back to you. Same question. I`ll start with you, Lisa. What about that? Just like the O.J. Simpson prosecutors did, Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden, they wrote books. Is it just because it`s too soon?
BLOOM: There was a whole shelf of O.J. books. I remember, my favorite one was by Vince Bugliosi who criticized the prosecution.
BLOOM: Yes, very good.
JACOBS: Great book. Yes.
BLOOM: Nice save.
JACOBS: Thank you.
BLOOM: OK. So, that was a great book, and it criticized the prosecution, because a lot of people had all kinds of excuses of why the O.J. case was lost. Well, here, I`m not as interested, with all due respect, in the prosecution`s book as a very thorough hard-hitting book about what went wrong in this case. I think most of us feel that she did it. The jury said there was reasonable doubt, so why the gap? That`s the kind of book I`d like to see. Maybe Vince is up for a new book.
JACOBS: I would love another Vince book. And just for informational purposes, I misspoke a second ago, the prosecutor in the Casey, his book is out in November. Dylan, weigh in this for me. What`s going on? Is it just because it`s too soon?
HOWARD: Well, Jeff Ashton has sat at this very desk and answered questions about the case. So, I don`t think there`s going to be anything that will be too exciting in his book besides his point of view. I don`t think it`s going to sell too well. But people like George and Cindy Anthony, there are unanswered questions we want to hear. And I think people will tune in, and I think they`ll have a right to tune in, and I`m going to be one of those.
JACOBS: Great insight from all you, guys. Lisa, thank you. Dylan, thank you.
And coming up next, the shooting death of a 15-year-old openly gay eighth grade student. Unbelievable. A 14-year-old classmate is accused of the crime, and his fate is now in the hands of a California jury. We`re going to talk about that when we come back. Please stay with us.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Do you know where the person with the gun is?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. Joel, who`s the victim? Is there a victim? I`m on the phone with this dispatch. Larry?
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JACOBS: It is a murder than stun the Southern California community. Fourteen-year-old Brandon McInerney is accused of killing 15-year-old open gay classmate, Lawrence King, with two gunshots to the back of the head in class as horrified students looked on. Well, tonight we`re waiting for this verdict in this tragic and highly debated case. Watch this piece of tape.
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JACOBS (voice-over): The fate of Oxnard California teen, Brandon McInerney, is in the hands of the jury. He faces a first-degree murder charge for slung 15-year-old classmate, Lawrence King. The prosecution says Brandon now 17 and charged as an adult is guilty of murder and a premeditated hate crime, but the defense says this is a case of manslaughter that Brandon shot the gay student in the heat of extreme emotion. The so-called gay panic defense alleges Lawrence sexually harassed his middle school classmate until Brandon snapped and turned into a killer.
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JACOBS (on-camera): Now, if he is found guilty of first-degree murder, Brandon now who is 17, faces a sentence of 53 years to life in prison. A lesser manslaughter charge could reduce the sentence to as few as 18 years.
And here to discuss the case with me is Attorney Lisa Bloom, also author of the book "Think" and Nee Broverman, he is a senior editor with the "Advocate" magazine, and he`s been following the trial, and joining me on the phone is Judy Shepard. Her 21-year-old son, Matthew, was tortured and murdered for being gay. Judy, thank you so much for joining us. This story must hit very close to home for you.
JUDY SHEPARD, MOTHER OF MATTHEW SHEPARD: Oh, it absolutely does. It`s heartbreaking. It`s horrifying to think that almost 15 years later, we`re still dealing with the same social ignorance that we were dealing with when Matt was killed.
JACOBS: Well, again, I`m sorry for your loss, and thank you for joining us. Lisa, you`ve been following this case closely. What`s this we`re hearing about the gay panic defense?
BLOOM: One of the most obnoxious and offensive vestiges of our criminal justice system from another era is the gay panic defense. The idea that if a gay person makes the pass at you, and you don`t like it, you can fly into a rage, shoot and kill that person, and that`s some kind of a defense. I mean, that should appall all decent people in the same way that if an African-American made a pass at a white person who`s a racist and they flew into a rage and kill that person, that would not be an acceptable defense in an American courtroom, and it`s time for us to get rid of it all together.
JACOBS: Now, this trial is taking place just a matter of miles north of here in Los Angeles. And Neal Broverman, you were in the courtroom for the closing arguments. Can you describe the atmosphere in the courtroom for us?
NEAL BROVERMAN, SENIOR EDITOR, "THE ADVOCATE": It`s very tense. It`s very tense. The families for both the victim and the defendant are in the court. There`s no love loss between them. The brother of the victim -- I`m sorry, the brother of the defendant was absolutely in court and pleaded with the jurors to give -- to give sympathy to his brother. And he was removed. And he`s been removed from the case ever since.
JACOBS: Yes. It was admonished by the judge not to make contact with the jury. And I think the argument here being made is, should it be murder or should it be manslaughter? My fellow attorney, Lisa Bloom, weigh in on this. It`s a clear cut of first-degree murder for me. The kid warned that he was going to shoot Lawrence King. He`s brought a gun to school and shot him in the back of the head.
BLOOM: Yes. It certainly sounds like premeditated murder. The question I had is one at the parents being held accountable for having a loaded gun accessible to an angry teen. I mean, this is a perfect storm of a defendant who was abused as a child, and there`s evidence of that in that courtroom, access to guns, homophobia, a lack of tolerance teaching in the school.
And that little boy, I mean, you see the face of this little boy who was murdered in a classroom full of students in a computer lab. Why? Because he was gay. This should not be happening in 2011 in our country.
JACOBS: Yes, I completely agree with you. And reports say that Lawrence King, the victim, in the case, began wearing women`s clothing, jewelry, and makeup in the seventh grade, and certainly, not an excuse to kill the kid. It might be outrageous behavior, but although, he was further targeted by bullies, the school could not legally stop him because of a California hate crime law that prevents gender discrimination.
Now, just weeks before his shooting death, an eighth grade assistant principal sent a memo to every teacher in the school, and it read, "We have a student on campus who has chosen to express his sexuality by wearing makeup. It is his right to do so. Some kids are finding it amusing, others are bothered by it. As long as it does not cause classroom disruptions, he is within his rights." Now, Lisa, was this enough of a step for the school to take?
BLOOM: No. Great question. This is what they call in schools an educable moment. This was a chance to talk to the students and say, you may feel uncomfortable, you may have been taught different things, but there are, you know, a lot of different kids in this school, kids who express themselves in different ways, and everybody is equal. You know, teach tolerance. It`s so important to do that in our country. In this case is a glaring example of how far we have to go in teaching tolerance.
JACOBS: Well, only days before Lawrence King was killed, it`s alleged that he asked his killer, Brandon, to be his valentine in front of some of Brandon`s friends, and this embarrassed him. When Ellen DeGeneres heard details of that story, she shared a message with her audience. Take a look at this.
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ELLEN DEGENERES, HOST, "THE ELLEN DEGENERES SHOW": A boy has been killed and a number of lives have been ruined. And somewhere along the line, a killer, Brandon, got the message that it`s so threatening and so awful and so horrific that Larry would want to be his valentine that killing Larry seemed to be the right thing to do. And when the message out there is so horrible, that to be gay, you can get killed for it, we need to change the message.
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JACOBS: Very well put by Ellen there. And I want to bring back in Judy Shepard who is the mother of Matthew Shepard. Judy, there`s no winners in this case, but where do we even begin to place the blame? Do we blame Brandon`s parents? Do we blame the school, society? What`s your take?
SHEPARD: Well, there`s certainly enough to spread around in this case. And in general, as long as society continues to demonize the gay and lesbian children in our world, this is going to continue to happen. When we refuse to acknowledge the famous people who made our country what it is today or the world what it is today where gay or lesbian or transgender are artists, are athletes, people we look up to. You know, are either so far on one side or the other, the message is very mixed.
And when our country`s leaders, for example presidential candidates sign pledges that say they want a federal marriage amendment to ban gay marriage or anything that makes the gay community a second class citizen, sends the message to our children, to the world, that we have no respect for the gay community. And as long as that is the case, these kinds of incidents are going to happen.
So, parents need to take the lead and educate their kids about respect and humanity. If you don`t agree with the gay community, you know, that really your prerogative, but that does not give you the right to deny them their basic civil rights. It`s just a question of being respectful and kind to other human beings.
JACOBS: Neal Broverman, senior editor of "The Advocate," you were nodding your head in agreement with Judy there. Same question to you. I mean, how do we place any sort of blame in this situation?
BROVERMAN: Well, some of the kids that I spoke to, there was an environment of homophobia that ran rampant in the school. So, it was clear that being gay was a horrible thing at this middle school in Oxnard, California. The parents, obviously, -- both boys were from very troubled homes. I think the fact that this boy, the accused killer, was taught homophobia and was raised with it.
And then, it was so pervasive in school, there`s got to be more education and training because these kids are, you know, the worse thing to be called in school right now is gay, and that`s got to change.
JACOBS: Right. Just an absolute tragedy. I thank you for your insight.
And next, will Brandon be convicted of first-degree murder or will it be manslaughter in the shooting death of a gay classmate, Lawrence King? My guest verdicts when we come back.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was Larry? It was?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s inconceivable anybody could be that angry at a kid that was that nice. He liked music. He liked nature. He was into animals. Neighborhood animals would come and play with him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sad, but it`s not just this district, it`s every district. Something really has to be implemented.
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ALEXIS CHAVEZ, FRIEND OF LAWRENCE KING: They just mocked him. And every time he came around, they ran and just painful things. They said painful things about him. If they came up and made fun of him, I would tell them like you know what? If that`s how you are, that`s how you are. It wasn`t his fault.
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JACOBS: Those sad words from a classmate who attended school with Lawrence King, the openly gay eighth grader who was shot and killed by his fellow student, Brandon McInerney. And he is on trial for the crime. Tonight, the California jury is deciding the accused-killer`s fate. Lisa, it seems like a clear-cut case of first-degree murder to me? What`s your opinion, murder or manslaughter?
BLOOM: It sounds like murder. There`s premeditation. He got the gun. He brought it to school. He hid it. He threatened this child that he was going to kill him. Premeditation can be formed in an instance. Well, this was a lot of instance as of to premeditation. It sounds like a hate crime, too. I mean, why isn`t it being prosecuted as a hate crime? I want to say one very quick thing to Judy Shepard. Thank you for fighting for over a decade, for federal hate crimes legislation. Thank God that you did that. God bless you, ma`am, for doing that.
SHEPARD: Thank you very much.
JACOBS: That`s a nice segue Judy in to this. Judy, I probably know what your answer is going to be. Murder or manslaughter?
SHEPARD: You know, there`s no winners here. Both families have been devastated. Lives transformed, not in a good way, forever. I`m not a legal mind. I just pray that the jury makes a decision that everyone can live with. They have a lot of outside factors, according to what I read, that can influence Brandon`s life. He`s basically a child. But I have to agree that evidence of premeditation and everything I`ve heard is just overwhelming.
JACOBS: You really hit the nail on the head with the tragedy of this story. He is still only 17. He`s still a minor. He was 15 when this crime was committed. But, unfortunately, if you do the crime, you know, you have to have the appropriate sentence. And Neal, I`ll ask you the same question. In your opinion, first-degree murder or manslaughter?
BROVERMAN: Well, I think it is first-degree murder, and they are seeking a hate crime. I don`t know if they`ll come through with that. It -- I don`t know how the jury`s going to react. There`s been a lot of Brandon`s family history being brought up. A lot of sympathy is being sought for him. He did have a very difficult childhood. His mother and father were both drug addicted.
I don`t know if that will play into the jurors` decision. They`re also -- the defense is painting Lawrence as an aggressor. I don`t know if that will be believed by the jury. So, I think it`s about 50/50 right now.
JACOBS: Well, Lisa, what about that? I mean, of course, it`s the defense attorney`s job to lessen the sentence from first-degree murder to manslaughter. Part of doing that job is painting the victim as the aggressor as Neal just said.
BLOOM: Yes. What was the aggressive act? Saying, what`s up baby or I love you?
JACOBS: Will you be my valentine?
BLOOM: You know, this is the kind of thing, by the way, that women have to endure every day.
BLOOM: But, you know, as a male has to endure it from another male, somehow, we think that justifies murder, and of course, it doesn`t. However, this is a very young defendant. He was 15 at the time of the shooting. I personally don`t believe in trying juveniles as adults, but I`m in the minority. We do that in this country.
The jury may have some sympathy for him and say, you know what, we don`t want to convict him of first-degree murder because we know that means life in prison. We`re going to come back with a manslaughter verdict. That would not surprise m. They`re not supposed to do that, but it could happen.
JACOBS: Well, again, you know, it goes to the effectiveness of the attorney as well. It is his job to do the best defense that he can put up for Brandon. And as we`ve said many times in this show, there is no happy ending to this situation.
Well, I want to say thank you for watching the show. It`s some tough subjects here today, but I will be back again tomorrow. Got to bear with me for one more day, and then, Dr. Drew will be back on Wednesday. So, from all of us here at DR. DREW, thanks for watching. Good night.