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Martha Stewart Resigns From Board; Voters in Spain Oust Current Party

Aired March 15, 2004 - 20:00   ET


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. I'm Heidi Collins, in for Paula Zahn.
It is Monday, March 15, 2004.

"In Focus" tonight: Days after a devastating terror attack, Spanish voters oust the party that sided with the U.S. and went to war in Iraq. How will it affect the U.S. in the November elections?

Plus, she's out. Martha Stewart resigns from the board of empire she created. Who's waiting in the well-decorated wings? We'll look at the contenders for America's next domestic diva.

And Mel Gibson's movie began in controversy, but it's breaking box office records now. Has Hollywood found religion?

All that ahead tonight.

But first, here are some of the headlines you need to know right now. Ohio investigators have a potential suspect in a string of 24 shootings on highways near Columbus. They named 28-year-old Charles McCoy today, saying he was identified as a result of evidence collected in the case. One person has died in a series of shootings that began last May.

U.S. officials tell CNN a senior al Qaeda leader has been killed in a shoot-out in Saudi Arabia. Abu Hazim al-Shahir (ph) is described as the terror group's chief of operations in the Arabian Peninsula. A U.S. counterterrorism officials says it is a major blow to al Qaeda.

"In Focus" tonight, the terrorist attack in Madrid makes waves in Washington. It led to the toppling of a government that has been a key U.S. ally in Iraq. Could it signal a win for terrorists and a turning point in the war against them?

Al Goodman reports now from Madrid.


AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The polls predicted a surefire victory for a staunch ally of President Bush. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar wasn't running for a third term, but his hand-picked successor, Mariano Rajoy, was breathing easy for the Conservative Popular Party until last Thursday, a terrorist attack on commuter trains, 200 dead and 1,500 wounded, all of this just three days before Spain's parliamentary elections. In Washington, President Bush went to the Spanish Embassy to pay his respects for the tragedy that had befallen his steadfast ally.

GUSTAVO ARISTEGUI, POPULAR PARTY M.P.: Unfortunately, something alien to Spanish politics changed the outcome, and that was these brutal, tremendous, horrendous terrorist attacks.

GOODMAN: The Socialists scored a dramatic upset victory.

JOSE LUIS RODRIGUEZ ZAPATERO, SPANISH PRIME MINISTER-ELECT (through translator): If there is no change and the United Nations doesn't take over control of Iraq, I think that Spanish troops are going to come back, and the date, it's June 30.

GOODMAN: Up to 90 percent of Spaniards, according to polls, opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq, but Aznar stood with President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair at a summit on the eve of the war. He sent 1,300 combat troops to Iraq last summer, and Osama bin Laden threatened Spain with retaliation. Investigators say al Qaeda is a suspect in the Madrid bombings.

Many analysts say Spanish voters made a connection between the train bombings and Aznar's support for the war.

ARISTEGUI: Terrorists have become a political actors, first-rate political actors. You've got to admit that they managed to change a government in one of the world's leading democracies.

GOODMAN: And with elections coming up this year in Australia and the U.S., many are wondering if this is merely the beginning.

(on camera): But victory is bittersweet this time for the Socialists, who will return to power after eight years on the opposition benches in Parliament. At every turn on election night, they spoke about the victims.

(voice-over): And the impact of the bombs on Spain and its European neighbors who fear similar attacks has yet to be fully measured.

Al Goodman, CNN, Madrid.


COLLINS: So, does political upheaval mean a victory for the terrorists?

Well, we have two guests tonight to face off vs. each other on that question. From San Francisco, Norman Solomon, executive director of the Institute For Public Accuracy.

Thanks for being here, Norman.


COLLINS: And in Washington, Nile Gardiner, a fellow in international and securities studies with the Heritage Foundation.

Hello to you as well, sir.


SCARBOROUGH: And, Nile, I do want to begin with you. Did the terrorists win here?

GARDINER: Well, I think certainly the terrorists had a major role in shaping the result in Spain over the weekend. It's too early to say as whether or not the terrorists have actually won a significant victory.

If the Spanish government does not remain part of the U.S.-led coalition against terror, then I think certainly this will be a major victory for the terrorists.

COLLINS: Norman, you do not believe the terrorists won at all. Why not?

NORMAN SOLOMON, INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC ACCURACY: Well, democracy won when the election took place and the electorate made their own judgment. Whether in Spain or the United States or anywhere else, what you really want is security and justice. You're opposed to terrorism. You want security and justice.

And the judgment of people, most people in Spain, and I think actually the polls show now most people in the United States understand that security and justice were not served by the war on Iraq. And no matter how much people try to run away from that in the White House or in the British government now, people are making those connections.

COLLINS: Nile, if this country, our country, that is, suffered another unspeakable tragedy, would Americans react with anger against the government, as we saw in Spain?

GARDINER: I don't think so at all. I think you'll see quite the opposite happening.

You'd see the American people rallying around the government after an atrocity like this. I think the same thing would happen in Great Britain. There would be a tremendous resolve on the part of American and British people to take action against the perpetrators of this, to take the war to the terrorists. That is exactly what the Spanish people must do.

COLLINS: And worth pointing out probably, too, that the governments between Spain and the United States, obviously, very, very different setup there.

But, Norman, how does the government then hold onto the support of its people during the face of tragedies like this?

GARDINER: Well, I think one thing a government should do is not lie to their own people. One of the lessons of the election in Spain is that people don't like being lied to. And the Spanish public clearly understood through polls and now through the election that they were lied to about the war on Iraq, the rationale for it in the first place, told similar lies by Mr. Aznar as the British and American people were told by Tony Blair and George W. Bush.

People don't like being lied to. And certainly in the aftermath of this horrible tragedy on Thursday, the Spanish public reacted very negatively to being spun by the leaders of the incumbent party.

COLLINS: Nile, let me ask you a little bit more about al Qaeda, if I might. If we do find out under no uncertain circumstances that al Qaeda is responsible for these train bombings, won't they be emboldened to use this type of tactic again?

GARDINER: First of all, let's clear a couple of things up.

Certainly, the Spanish government and the British government and the American government did not lie to their people about the war in Iraq. I think we need to clarify that point, first of all. But, certainly, if al Qaeda is behind these bombings, they will use these tactics again and again. They will attempt to use ballot box terrorism to influence election results in Europe and across the world. This is an extremely dangerous development.


SOLOMON: You know, saying that Bush and Blair and Aznar didn't lie doesn't make it so. They did, in fact, lie. People are making those judgments.

COLLINS: Unfortunately, Mr. Solomon...

SOLOMON: And, frankly, al Qaeda doesn't need encouragement to engage in terrorism.

COLLINS: Yes, I'm going to have to call it quits on our time unfortunately tonight. Gentlemen, we certainly appreciate both of your time.

Nile Gardiner and Norman Solomon, thanks to the both of you.

SOLOMON: Thank you.

GARDINER: Thank you.

COLLINS: Is it a public service or propaganda? The administration hires actors to play reporters for local TV newscasts.

Mel Gibson's "Passion" an unexpected blockbuster that's baffled some critics. Just look what Tom Shales wrote. We'll ask him what he thinks now.

And, as Martha Stewart fades, could some of these taste-makers become the next queen or maybe king of the American home?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COLLINS: Turning to politics now, the Reverend Al Sharpton is giving up his campaign for president. Sharpton met with John Kerry for a half hour today, conceding the race and endorsing the likely nominee, but promising to continue to campaign for delegates to promote what he called his urban agenda.

Kerry today went on the offensive against the White House in a political battle over Medicare. This latest fight involves controversial TV segments on the new Medicare law.

Joining us now from Washington, regular contributor and former Pentagon spokesperson Victoria Clarke.

Hello to you.


COLLINS: I'm great. Thanks.

And Peter Beinart, editor of "The New Republic."

Hello to you as well, Peter.

I want to go ahead take a look at this VNR, as we call it, a video news release.

Peter, as you know, the Bush administration under fire, touting the new Medicare law. The video is using actors who play reporters. Let's go ahead and take a look at it first, and then I'll get your response.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: This is completely voluntary. Seniors will be able to partake of the new Medicare system or the old Medicare system.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: The new law, say officials, simply offers people with Medicare ways to make their health care more affordable.

In Washington, I'm Karen Ryan reporting.


COLLINS: Peter, is this misleading?


First of all, as I understand it, when you put out things like this, you're supposed to identify that it comes from the government, and nowhere does it seem to do that. Second of all, if you're going to give public information about the Medicare bill, which is fine, it seems to me you should present both sides, and not simply present all of the good points about the Medicare bill and none of the criticisms.

COLLINS: Victoria, what is your opinion on this? Do you find this misleading? They're being inserted directly into newscasts.

CLARKE: Well, let's talk about why it's even being raised as an issue, and that's because the president and the administration passed the most fundamental reform in Medicare in decades, making improvements -- it may not be a perfect plan, but making improvements that will increase the viability and the stability of the program for a long time.

So, by doing so, they've taken away one of the most popular planks in the Democrats' campaign every election year, threatening, scaring seniors that Republicans want to destroy your Medicare, etcetera. That's been taken away from them. So they've got to find something. Unfortunately, what they're finding is some stuff that is down in the weeds. What I find ironic about this is, the day this controversy, as you called it, has erupted, there's a huge study out today that talks about how the credibility of reporters continues to plummet.

So I'm all for getting out lots of news and information about what the government is doing. Imitating reporters may not be the best way to do it.

COLLINS: Yes, I don't think I like that either.


COLLINS: Torie, let me also ask you, John Kerry, as I'm sure you're well aware, accused the president of wasting taxpayers' money on these types of ads. Your response to that?

CLARKE: Well, I think putting out as much news and information about what the administration, what the government has done is very, very important.

And in the information era, in which thousands of people get their information a variety of ways, you've got to try lots of things. And there are teams of lawyers and auditors and inspectors general who will take a hard look at everything the government does to make sure it's entirely appropriate. But I go back to what I said before. Let's understand why this issue was raised at all, not because they truly care about the use of the taxpayers dollars, but because a potent political tool that they normally have has been taken away from them this year.

COLLINS: All right, Peter, I want to move on to another issue here as of late. The White House today challenged John Kerry to actually identify those world leaders that he says are rooting for him in running for president. Do you think he should have to do that?

BEINART: Let me quickly just say something about what Torie said first.

This was not raised by John Kerry. He responded to a newspaper report in "The New York Times" which was reporting on what federal inspectors were doing. And, in fact, you find the Democrats have as big a lead on health care as any, despite the prescription drugs bills.

I think John Kerry probably made a goof by making that statement. But I think that the larger point, the larger point is probably true. I think most -- even defenders of this administration would admit this administration is not very popular amongst other democratically elected leaders, and they may say that doesn't change their opinion of the president, but I think it's hard to dispute that this administration is fairly unpopular amongst its democratically elected peers.

COLLINS: Torie, do you think he should name those leaders?

CLARKE: You know, John Kerry will decide what he thinks is best for his political campaign.

But I've got to tell you what it reminded me of is girls in junior high who say, well, I've been asked to the Friday night dance by three different guys, but then they can't really name anybody, and then they sort of backpedal. And it's sad because it's just juvenile stuff. And the issues are too important. What we do about our national security should be dealt with in the most serious, serious manner, not offhand comments. So I agree with Peter. I think he probably regrets saying what he said.

COLLINS: All right, to the both of you tonight, we certainly appreciate your time, as always.

CLARKE: Thank you.

COLLINS: Victoria Clarke, Peter Beinart, thanks again for joining us tonight.

CLARKE: Thanks.

COLLINS: Saddam Hussein, he's the world's best known prisoner of war. But when will he be put on trial? And has interrogation made him spill any secrets?

And a family tragedy, this man suspected in the gruesome murder of nine people, some of them his own children. We'll talk to a businessman who dealt with him.


COLLINS: In Iraq today, three American civilians died in a drive-by shooting in the northern city of Mosul. And they were there to deliver relief supplies.

One year after the invasion, the presence of American relief workers and their deaths are signs of how far the U.S. military campaign has come and how far it still has to go. Another benchmark in the months to come, the trial of Saddam Hussein.

Chief CNN international correspondent Christiane Amanpour reports.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even before the war officially started, the U.S. launched a massive preemptive bomb on a location in Baghdad where U.S. intelligence said Saddam was meeting. But had they got him? It took nine months before the U.S. could say for sure.

PAUL BREMER, U.S. ADMINISTRATOR IN IRAQ: Ladies and gentlemen, we got him.


AMANPOUR: To wild applause from the Iraqis at this news conference, Saddam had finally been captured hiding in a hole in a garden not far from Tikrit, his seat of power. The once-fearsome dictator emerged looking dazed and dirty.

U.S. officials quickly released pictures of him being picked and probed by American medics. And the U.S. forces who caught him reported his last words as a free man. "My name is Saddam Hussein and I am the president of Iraq," he told them before surrendering. Since then, Saddam has been kept in a U.S. prison somewhere around Baghdad. Little had been heard about him until the U.S. last month finally allowed the International Red Cross to visit, under Geneva Convention rules.

NADA DOUMANI, ICRD SPOKESWOMAN: The purpose is to monitor the conditions of detention, to see to it that he -- any detainee, be it a POW or civilian, is treated according to the Geneva Conventions, to check his health situation, among others, and also to give him the possibility to write a message to his family, which the former president did.

AMANPOUR: As for his legal status, while the U.S. remains the occupying force, the former Iraqi dictator remains a prisoner of war. And the death penalty in Iraq has been suspended. But that could all change once the U.S. hands over sovereignty to Iraq June 30.

DAN SENOR, COALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY: We have said all along that Saddam Hussein will be tried by Iraqis. And once we hand him over to the Iraqis, that will obviously formally begin the process.

AMANPOUR: So far, Saddam has not told his interrogators much about WMD or other issues.

SENOR: He has not been cooperative himself. He has not provided us much information.

AMANPOUR: The Bush administration predicted Saddam's capture would at least slow down Iraq's insurgency and the terrorism, but that has not happened. Massive suicide bombings against Iraqi targets and attacks against American soldiers continue.

And with no WMD found in Iraq, some are suggesting a war crimes trial detailing the horrors of Saddam Hussein's regime would suit the administration this election year. However, Iraqi lawyers in charge are not saying when a trial could start or even whether Saddam would be their first witness.

Christiane Amanpour, CNN.


COLLINS: Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" on track to become the biggest R-rated film ever. Will its phenomenal success start a new religious trend in films?

A horrific murder scene so bad police needed counseling. Did this man murder nine young people, some of them his own children?

As Martha Stewart fades, does her downfall make way for a new queen of the American home? We'll check out the pretenders to the throne.


COLLINS: Here are some of the headlines you need to know right now.

The final body was recovered today, more than a week after a Baltimore Harbor water taxi capsized. Five people died when the vessel flipped over in high winds.

Ousted Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide has arrived in Jamaica, still claiming to be the victim of a U.S. coup. The State Department says his presence in the Caribbean won't help Haiti get back to normal.

And the biggest thing in astronomy today is a tiny red planetoid called Sedna. It's too small to be a planet, but scientists say they've never seen anything like it, half rock, half ice, and more than eight billion miles from Earth.

It often seems as if there's nothing movie producers like to do more than capitalize on someone else's success. For every huge hit, there is a trail of copycats later. And the stunning success of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" is an invitation to imitation.

CNN entertainment correspondent Sabia Lavargas (ph) reports on the trend-setting power of America's No. 1 movie.


SABIA LAVARGAS (ph), CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Make no mistake, Hollywood is feeling "The Passion." Mel Gibson's movie has spent three weeks at No. 1, heading for a domestic gross well over $300 million. Those are numbers that might inspire the sin of envy among studio executives.

PETER GUBER, HOST, "SUNDAY MORNING SHOOTOUT": I'm sure that everybody's dusting off their Gospels and their Bibles and their Testaments and their Korans and their Torahs and every kind of biblical instrument to see if they can find another nugget there.

LAVARGAS: Long-time movie producer Peter Guber, who hosts AMC's "Sunday Morning Shootout," says audiences may soon be inundated by a slew of religious entertainment. NBC Television has already ordered a pilot called "Revelations," partly based on the Bible's Book of Revelation.

GAVIN POLONE, PRODUCER, "REVELATIONS": It's a great thing that "The Passion" came out to possibly sort of shake them up a little bit and let them know that there's this large unserved audience out there.

LAVARGAS: In recent decades, network television has embraced some faith-based shows. CBS, which aired "Touch By An Angel," found success this season with "Joan of Arcadia," a drama about a teenager who talks to God. "Seventh Heaven" has been a longtime staple of the WB. And Disney is planning a big budget movie of "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" by Christian writer C.S. Lewis. But whatever the product, it still has to succeed as entertainment.

GUBER: Nobody says, hey, I want to go see this movie. It made me think. No, it made you feel, cry, cheer, and this audience, that's what they still want.

LAVARGAS: And audiences are making clear, that's what Mel Gibson delivered.

Sabia Lavargas (ph), CNN, Hollywood.


COLLINS: So will we really see a whole new genre of Hollywood movies with religious themes?

Joining us now from Seattle is movie critic and nationally syndicated talk show host Michael Medved.

Michael, thanks for being here.


COLLINS: And from Washington, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Tom Shales of "The Washington Post," who's has had strong words to say against "The Passion."

Tom, thanks also for being here.

Michael, I want to begin with you, if I could. I'm wondering, will the enormous success that this movie has enjoyed so far open the floodgates, if you will, in Hollywood for religious films?

MEDVED: I think it will, because this is not just the discovery of a new formula. It's the discovery of a new audience.

About a third of Americans don't regularly go to movies. Many of those people are precisely the kind of people who do regularly go to church. Any given week, about four times as many people go to church or synagogue as go out to wait in line at a multiplex. And I think that what this shows is that, if you can reach those people and appeal to them, not with some kind of weird, strange project, but with a project that is perceived as part of the religious mainstream in the United States, which is Judeo-Christian, then people will come.

COLLINS: Tom, I've got to ask you about the comment that you wrote in one of your recent columns.

You say -- quote -- "Surely, his" -- and, of course, we're talking about Mel Gibson's -- "parking space in hell has already been reserved."

A bit over the top, isn't it, Tom?


TOM SHALES, FILM CRITIC, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, it's a little extreme, but so is his movie. It's way over the top.

And there's a little facetiousness in what I said. But I don't think he's done a fine, noble thing here. I think he should have -- when he set out to make his movie, I think he should have done everything possible to avoid reopening that old wound between Christians and Jews about who killed Christ. If there's anything we don't need now, it's religious animosity in this country, religious groups at odds with one another. And he was so arrogant about it. He wouldn't let Jewish leaders see the film. He wouldn't do anything to compromise, except a few tiny, tiny changes in the picture itself.

COLLINS: Tom -- Tom...

SHALES: So I don't think...

COLLINS: ... the movie has been out for...


MEDVED: If I can jump in? Look, the truth of the matter is, that's why he funded it himself, and I think that's exactly what people are going to imitate. Mel Gibson wanted to make his movie his way, an uncompromising vision of the way that he saw the Gospel story. Millions upon millions...

SHALES: But anti-Semitism is not a...

MEDVED: ... of Americans have responded to it. Yes, but there is no evidence at all -- this movie has now been seen by about 20 percent of all Americans, and the evidence that it's generating any kind of significant anti-Semitism -- I actually think that some of the hysterical denunciations of Gibson have generated far more anti- Semitism than anything that exists inside the movie.

SHALES: Some of the support of Gibson has been hysterical too, Michael, so don't oversimplify and make the people opposed to the movie sound ridiculous. They're not ridiculous. They're very sincere and they're very worried. MEDVED: Well, there were people who condemned it before they even saw a single frame of the movie.

SHALES: He wouldn't let them see it!

MEDVED: This movie was -- no, this movie was condemned, Tom Shales, as you very well know, while it was still being shot. People made a case over it because Mel happens to be a traditionalist Catholic who insisted on making the movie his way.


SHALES: His father is an anti-Semitic bigot.

MEDVED: Isn't that guilt by association? Isn't that sickening, Tom Shales? It's almost as sickening...

SHALES: Oh, yes!

MEDVED: ... as saying that Mel Gibson is going to go to hell.

COLLINS: Gentlemen, let me jump in here for a minute, if I could.

MEDVED: I'm not going to -- I'm not going to attack you by bringing up...

COLLINS: Michael -- Michael...

MEDVED: ... anything about your father or brother or cousin!

COLLINS: Michael, let me jump in...

SHALES: Shut up!

COLLINS: OK, gentlemen, we'd like to keep the discussion, as I say, as gentlemen, if we could, please. And Tom, let me just ask you, if you can take a moment and tell us exactly what it is in the movie -- you talk very much about anti-Semitism. What is it exactly in the movie that you see -- I've seen the movie myself -- that points toward that to you so openly?

SHALES: It's the whole way the Jews are portrayed and the Romans are given a kind of a "get out of jail free" card. And instead of Pontius Pilate being responsible, they make the evil Jewish priests responsible for the death of Christ. Why in the world go to that extreme now? We have enough disharmony in this country. For years, biblical epics were made, and they went out of their way to avoid that kind of ridiculous oversimplification. So now are we going to have a presentation of "Oliver Twist" with Shylock as a Jewish caricature again?

MEDVED: Fagan, you mean. Fagan.

SHALES: Would that be within Mel Gibson's right to do because that's his point of view? That's his personal belief? MEDVED: Well, first -- first of all...

SHALES: We don't need any of that. Yes, Mike?

MEDVED: Well, I'm sorry. First of all, if somebody is doing "The Merchant of Venice," which is what you're referring to, with Shylock, of course, he's going to be a Jewish character because...

SHALES: No. I was referring to "Oliver Twist" by Charles Dickens.

MEDVED: Then you're talking about Fagan, and Fagan...

SHALES: I'm sorry.

MEDVED: ... is a Jewish character, and of course, you would expect that he would be treated as a Jewish character, rather than rewriting it. I think it's absolutely absurd and unfair to attack Mel Gibson for his failure to rewrite the Gospels.

And in terms of your idea that the Romans get a "get out of jail free" card, the most brutal characters in the movie are Romans. They are the Roman guards. And when Jesus happens to be carrying the cross up to Calvary and he is helped by Simon of Syrene, it is shown the Romans express anti-Semitism in a very disreputable way against somebody who's been sympathetic to Jesus and who has been helping him and who is not necessarily one of his followers.

It just seems to me that at one point or other, all of the people who have been predicting pogroms in Pittsburgh because of this movie is have to really be quiet, look at what's happened, see that this movie has inspired people, it's touched people deeply. It has uplifted them in terms of their personal faith, and it has created no significant anti-Semitic backlash to merit all of this hysteria by any means at all.

SHALES: You don't know...

COLLINS: Tom, before you begin...

SHALES: You don't know...

COLLINS: ... let me jump in one more time here because we're really running out of time, and I want to make sure we get one more question in, if you will.

SHALES: Well, no one predicted pogroms in Pittsburgh, Heidi. He's being ridiculous.

COLLINS: OK, let's get a question out here, if we could. "The Passion" is poised to take over some of the biggest-grossing movies of all time. What do you think it is that is driving audiences -- Tom, first you, and then we'll get to Michael -- driving them to go and sit down in their seats in that movie theater and watch this movie?

SHALES: Well, Michael would have us believe they're all making, you know, spiritual pilgrimages, but in fact...

COLLINS: What do you believe?

SHALES: In fact, it's the notoriety of the film, I think, as much as anything, that has drawn people to see it. They've heard it's the most violent, bloody, gory -- and it is -- religious film ever made. And then so, Oh, gee, they're kind of curious about that, the way they would be about any film that was rated R for violence. I think that's a factor.

And then, of course, they've got this fabulous publicity machine of every pulpit in the country, perhaps especially Catholic churches, but Protestant churches, too, preachers saying, Go see this film. You know, It will be an uplifting experience.

I don't think we're going to have a flood now of movies -- religious movies. The thing they worship in Hollywood is the dollar, not any particular religion. So that will determine, you know, what movies are made.

COLLINS: Michael?

MEDVED: Well, nice try, Tom. The fact is, you can't...

SHALES: Stop being...

MEDVED: You can't explain people coming back to the movie three and four times, as many people have. Over one third of the people polled by the Gallup poll who saw the film said they have an intention of seeing it again, more than once. And one of the reasons I think...

SHALES: The same with "Lord of the Rings."

MEDVED: ... it will be imitated is other -- other stars -- right. So fine. "Lord of the Rings" is a very successful movie...

COLLINS: Michael, I need you to finish up.

MEDVED: ... but it's not because people hate the movie that they keep coming back to see it again and again. People are touched by it. And this does encourage any other stars who have deep-seated religious beliefs to try to use their own money and make their own movie and do the same kind of thing Mel Gibson did and connecting with that large public that is eager to see more uplifting spiritual fare.

COLLINS: Gentlemen, we are going to have to...

SHALES: Well, I can't wait to see...

COLLINS: ... call it quits right there...

SHALES: ... Ashton Kutcher's spiritual film.

COLLINS: I'm sorry, Tom. Guys, we are out of time. Obviously, this is a discussion that we'll have to continue on another day, as many people across the country continue to form their opinions on this movie. Michael Medved, Tom Shales, thanks so much, gentlemen, for being with us tonight.

He said he couldn't find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, now Hans Blix talks about what he thinks happened to them and whether he feels vindicated. And the bodies of nine people, mostly family and mostly young children, are found in a California home. Could anyone have predicted the tragic Fresno murders?


COLLINS: One year after the war in Iraq began, the man who led the U.N. hunt for weapons of mass destruction has a unique and at times surreal story to tell. Hans Blix tells it in a new book called "Disarming Iraq," and it comes from a former diplomat who some called incompetent but who so far has been vindicated. The latest revelations from Hans Blix are the subject of our "High Five" tonight, five quick questions and five quick answers direct and to the point.

So I asked him exactly when he thinks the Bush administration decided to go to war.


HANS BLIX, FORMER CHIEF U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: Oh, I think they began to think it very early, and they began with the military build- up in the summer of 2002. And we would probably would not have had any inspections at all if it hadn't been for the military build-up because the Iraqis got scared. But you see, then they just continued with it, built up more and more and more. Maybe they thought that the Iraqis would crack. But I'm not saying that they had decided to go -- in the ultimate, to go to -- to attack in the spring because there was always the possibility that the commander-in-chief could change.

COLLINS: When did you begin to have doubts about the existence of these weapons?

BLIX: In January, 2003, because we were given many sites by U.S. and other countries' intelligence, where they believed there were weapons of mass destruction, and we went to many of these sites, and in no case did we find any such weapons. We found in a few cases something else, but not weapons. So I began to ask myself, Now, if this is the best, what is the rest?

COLLINS: Well, U.N. inspectors found no evidence whatsoever of weapons of mass destruction. So how could the intelligence have been so wrong or misleading, if you will?

BLIX: I think they relied far too much upon defectors. We have the blessing in disguise that the defectors do not come to international organizations. We cannot give them asylum. But they did go to Washington and to other places. I don't think they were, in most cases, very interested in having inspectors coming back. They were interested in liberation of the country, and that's what they got.

COLLINS: And that being said, do you think the United States was trying to undermine you? BLIX: Yes. At one stage, they certainly were. At the time when Colin Powell came to the United Nations with his big demonstration of various pieces of evidence which were supposed to be smoking guns, well, in a way it was saying that, Look here, the inspectors didn't see this. He wasn't nasty about the inspectors, but clearly, in substance, he was saying that, The inspectors have not seen this. We have evidence. And I listened to that and wanted to have an assessment by our inspectors, and they were rather skeptical of a number of them, and I said so later.

COLLINS: As I am sure you well know, it has been one year since the war began, and still no weapons of mass destruction have been found. Do you feel vindicated in a way?

BLIX: Yes, in a way, of course. I think that's true. I think it is also vindication for international inspection, for credible, effective international inspection that is independent. We were independent of the CIA. We were independent of the UK. We got information from them and I have respect for them, but we were independent, and that was important. If we had been the prolonged arm of them, then we would probably have said what they wanted us to say. But we were not.


COLLINS: Flowers and teddy bears pay tribute to the young victims of a mass murder in Fresno. What were their lives like before the killings? We'll hear from someone who saw the family close up. And the next Martha Stewart. Who will be the heir to her throne? Tell you about that in a moment.


COLLINS: Tonight, investigators in California know that seven of the nine people killed in a Fresno home last week had been shot to death. They're still waiting for autopsy results on the other two. Fifty-seven-year-old Marcus Wesson has been booked in all nine deaths, including the killings of at least two children police say he fathered with one or two of his own daughters.

Miguel Marquez is joining us now live from Fresno with more.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Heidi, we just talked to the county coroner a short time ago, and she has confirmed that all nine of those victims were, in fact, shot to death. She was also able to confirm that they all happened on Friday. She will not release exact cause -- time of death or exact cause of death or the manner in which they died, but says that they were in a fairly compressed period on Friday afternoon.

They are also conducting forensic testing on those victims and on evidence that they received at the scene. They're also doing testing for gunpowder on all of the victims, to figure out exactly who was doing the shooting, if there was more than one person doing the shooting. They're also conducting toxicology tests on those victims to see if any of them or all of them may have been drugged. Another interesting part of this story -- there seems to be so many as we get into it -- is that the family essentially flew under the radar. Schools, police, child welfare services and hospitals -- none of them seemed to know this alternative life, this alternative family they had -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Miguel Marquez, thanks so very much, live from Fresno tonight.

Well, what was life like inside the home of Marcus Wesson? That is the focus of tonight's "Truth Squad." Joining us now from Fresno is someone who's known the suspect for a year-and-a-half. Charlie Clark is a real estate agent for Coldwell Banker. He handled Wesson's real estate matters and has visited the home where the killings happened.

Thanks so much for being with us Mr. Clark. We do appreciate your time tonight.


COLLINS: You know, Mr. Wesson has been described as -- at least by his neighbors and actually even the police now, as controlling, isolated, intimidating. Did you find him that way in your dealings with him?

CLARK: I did sense some controlling nature with him, Heidi, although I have to say he was always considerate, timely, articulate, very courteous. You know, I didn't have any problems or any inclination that there was an underground issue going on that would lead to violence of this nature.

COLLINS: We have just learned, Mr. Clark, that the police were called to the home six times over the past three years. Apparently, not huge issues, but they were called out there. Anything in the home that made you suspicious in the times that you had gone inside?

CLARK: You know, Heidi, there was not. I was in that home four or five different times on real estate-related matters. We did have the property on the market. I had counseled with Marcus on a couple of other issues, as well. And there was just no sign of this at all. The children were there. Many times, I met with the ladies in question, that I know the police are still trying to work out all the details. Again...

COLLINS: Mr. Clark, you say "ladies." That's interesting to me. Did he not refer to these women as wives or daughters, or was that very unclear? Take us inside that home for just a minute.

CLARK: Well, it was clear that two of the ladies were his daughters. There's no question about it that. The third lady, who was always very cordial, I was still not certain what her relationship was with Marcus, Paula, to be honest with you. When they -- they were in my office several times, I might add. And we would sit down, and Marcus was a decision-maker. There's no question about it. The girls had input, but they did what he said, and you could sense that he did have a control over them.

COLLINS: Did the children go to school? Do you have any knowledge of that? I mean, did you see them when you were there and thinking, like, if you were there in the middle of the day and they were not in school, I wonder about that?

CLARK: The children were there most of the time. I didn't give it a thought. Who would, you know? As real estate brokers, we are to take the lead that comes to us and not prejudge it, not judge the book by the cover. Again, I had no clue that anything was going on. But the kids were always there at all ages. And I could never figure out who belonged to who, I have to tell you. I didn't know who the mom was or who anybody was, really.

COLLINS: All right, Mr. Clark, we certainly do appreciate your time tonight. Thanks so very much for shedding some light on this.

CLARK: Thank you for your time, Heidi. Good luck to you.

COLLINS: Thank you.

CLARK: OK. Bye-bye.

COLLINS: Will any of these people warm America's home and hearth the way Martha Stewart did? The search for the next diva of decor.


COLLINS: Martha Stewart's name continues its disappearing act. Let's look at that in plain English now. Today she resigned from the board of the business empire she founded, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. She said she was heartsick and deeply sorry. But speculation over who to blame for her legal problems is still growing.

Senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin has some new information on that. Also, here to talk about who could become the next arbiter of decor, Dan Ackman, senior columnist for "Forbes" magazine, and branding expert Samantha Ettus, president of Ettus Media Management. So thanks for all of you for being here tonight. We will get straight too you guys in a moment.

But first, Jeffrey, I want to begin with you. Which attorneys messed up Martha's case, if you will? This is not who we think.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, I have a big story about this in "The New Yorker" magazine that's out today. And what -- the lawyers that I think you really have to look at is not so much the lawyers on trial, who did the trial, Robert Morvillo, but it was the decision to let her speak to investigators in the first place. Her lawyers at Wachtel Lipton (ph) let her go in to be examined at the U.S. attorney's office, even though just four days before, they knew she had been altering documents at her secretary, Annie Armstrong's, desk and then telling Annie Armstrong to put them back to where they were.

I think that was a signal that this is a woman who had a lot of problems on this issue, and the decision to let her testify was a troubling one, although ultimately, of course, it was Martha Stewart's decision to lie to the investigators once she got there.

COLLINS: OK. Now, what really happened with Martha Stewart and the plea deal? Clear that up for us.

TOOBIN: In June of 2003, she had two long meetings with her lawyers, once at Wachtel Lipton, once at Robert Morvillo's office. And the offer on the table was a single felony count to making a false statement to the government. The sentence would have almost certainly -- but not for sure -- almost certainly have been zero jail time, perhaps some house arrest. No -- she wouldn't have to cooperate with the government. And she looked at her lawyers and she said, You know, I am not going to take this deal because I did nothing wrong, and I'm not going to say that I did. I didn't lie.

COLLINS: So then why didn't she testify? It seems to beg that question.

TOOBIN: Why didn't she testify? Well, she had so many -- she couldn't answer the most basic questions. The reason that her legal team didn't put her on the witness stand -- why did she alter the documents? Why did she tell her friend, Mariana Pasternak, that she knew the Waksals were selling stock, when she told investigators she didn't know the Waksals were selling stock? All those questions were bad enough.

Plus, she had things in her past that they didn't want to have raised. New York state tax authorities had sued her for back taxes and won, and the judge found her not credible. She had an incident in 1997, where she almost ran over a landscaper in East Hampton and paid a civil settlement to him. All of that would have come out if she had taken the witness stand. I think that her lawyers made the right choice, notwithstanding the result in the case, in keeping her off the witness stand.

COLLINS: All right, Jeffrey Toobin. Thanks so much. Stick around for us for just a minute here because now we want to talk a little bit about who might replace, if you will, Martha Stewart in this whole world of home decor and creativity in the home.

Samantha and Dan, we have picked out some people who we think could maybe launch the next home-making empire. Let's go ahead and take a look at some of them, and I want to get your opinions, if we could. Oprah. I mean, what does this woman do and fail? Nothing, really. What do you think, Samantha?

SAMANTHA ETTUS, PRESIDENT, ETTUS MEDIA MANAGEMENT: You're right. But I think that what we have to look at -- Martha is not going anywhere. Her brand is still alive. So it's really looking at who else can create an empire in the same way that Martha did. And Oprah already has an empire. She doesn't need to be the next anyone. She's bigger than Martha ever was. And she could launch a sports magazine tomorrow and be successful.

COLLINS: Very successful talk show... ETTUS: So I don't even think she should be qualified...


COLLINS: Absolutely. Dan, what do you think? Oprah?

DAN ACKMAN, SENIOR COLUMNIST, FORBES.COM: Well, certainly, Oprah could do that. The question is, does she want to do that? She obviously already has a job. As far as I know, she's never threatened to run over a gardener or anything. But I would nominate -- Bea Smith would be one of the ones, as well as Nigela Lawson.

COLLINS: Yes, tell us about Nigela Lawson. I understand you like her quite a bit.

ACKMAN: Well, Nigela Lawson looks great on TV. I understand that's important for TV. That's what they tell me. And she cooks. She -- I don't know if she gardens, but she is -- definitely has a great TV presence and already, you know, has a leg up, in terms of her name recognition.

ETTUS: Don't you think those two brands are a little bit over the hill, in the sense that they've already hit their peak? They're great brands and they're going to be sustainable, but at some point, they're not going to ever get bigger than they are today.


ETTUS: ... would have already hit, don't you think?

ACKMAN Well, there's -- you could always get bigger. What none of them have, except for Oprah, is the deal that Martha had. No one will have the deal where she totally controls all the media -- I mean, all her media, both the TV, the magazines, the cooking shows and the books. And those all fed off each other. No one will ever have that deal. That's why there will never be another Martha.

COLLINS: Samantha, who do you think it should be? We're running out of time here, guys, but I want to get your No. 1 pick.

ETTUS: Dusty Miller, who's already in -- in the Martha Stewart umbrella, is in charge of the wedding magazine. She's in charge of the entire wedding brand. She's taken over the syndicated column. She is poised. She has the whole empire behind here, the Martha empire supporting her. She's poised. She's their secret weapon. And then if you look at -- you know, there's Rachel Ray on the cooking channel. She's on the Food Channel. And she has so much potential. And I think what it is, is, in some ways, Martha's brand has set the way for what other brands should model themselves after, as long as they stay within the law.

COLLINS: OK. Yes. That's a good idea.


COLLINS: Dan, quickly, your best pick, no. 1 person. ACKMAN: I would say Nigela Lawson...


ACKMAN: ... and Bea Smith are the top two.

COLLINS: OK. Thanks so much for being with us. I don't know. My vote's for a feisty redhead. What about Paige Davis, like, from "Trading Spaces"?

ETTUS: She's already on her way.

ACKMAN: A little obscure, though. She's basically an entertainer. She's a song and dance woman by nature. And she's a little out of her element, I'd say.

ETTUS: She was cast in that role. That role didn't -- she wasn't the talent. You know, she was cast as that person. So it could have been anyone in some way.

COLLINS: OK. All right, you guys, thanks so much for being with us. Jeffrey Toobin...

TOOBIN: Don't rule out a Martha comeback, either.

COLLINS: Oh, yes, you never know! Martha's the only Martha. Dan Ackman...


COLLINS: ... Samantha Ettus, thanks to all of you for being with us tonight. And thank you for watching. "LARRY KING LIVE" is coming up next. Good night, everybody.


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