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by Geraldo Rivera | Mar 30, 2007

Saturday Night Live had a funny bit last night mocking the preoccupation of the news business with the Anna Nicole Smith story. They even mocked my old friend and highly regarded CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer.

I don't make any apologies for the extensive media coverage. It follows, rather than creates audience interest. And in this intriguing case, there's plenty to grab your attention. But after last night's show that we did on location at the Marathon, Florida home Anna Nicole stayed during her pregnancy, which included the chilling testimony of the housekeepers who saw her enormous stash of dope and needles, I've reached a personal conclusion.

Like the entourage of sycophants and enablers who surrounded Elvis Presley, most of the people living off Anna Nicole did nothing to save her from herself. And worse than enabling, people like lawyer turned companion Howard K. Stern facilitated her untimely demise by ensuring she had all the drugs she needed to die from.

Along with the dope-prescribing doctors, mainly Kris Erosovich and Sadeep Kapoor, Stern essentially gave Anna the gun she used to kill herself and anyone with misguided sympathy for the wretched man ignores those facts.

As Anna made clear with her e-mails, she never even considered listing Stern as the father of the baby until all other avenues were exhausted, including the millionaire developer Ben Thompson Jr. who she implored to volunteer as baby's daddy despite the man's earlier vasectomy.

Here are excerpts from two e-mails Anna sent to Gina Shelly, Thompson's daughter; the first nine days after the baby was born in the Bahamas.

Sent: mon, 18 sep 2006 3:48 pm

subject: re: hey

I hope to never see him (Ben) again he also said he didnt want to be on the birth certificate!!!!!!!...................thats fine he dont even need to see his daughter again either! and Howard are getting married and she will have her father! for the lies in the papers i will own star! Anna....

And another from October 10, 2006.

oh my god! I cant believe what yall are doing to me yall no whos babys this is! Ok tell ben to brine it on I want a dna and childsuport!!!

Stern was clearly Anna's default choice as daddy.

And there are two others who deserve a slam.

First, the media whoring attorney Debra Opri who instigated herself into the case by promising to do it pro bono, 'in the interest of baby Dannielynn', only to hit hapless Larry Birkhead over the head, after he fired her, with a vastly inflated bill in the preposterous amount of $620,492.84...which, according to TMZ included Opri's husband's laundry service, a lavish restaurant meal that cost $2,500, and the money she paid her publicist.

But while professional organizations are or should be investigating the errant doctors and lawyer who attached themselves to this sad saga, there is another indefensible entity that will not be punished, Paramount's 'Entertainment Tonight'.

My source at the heart of this case estimates Paramount has already spent $2.5 million dollars buying things like exclusive funeral access, photos, videos and interviews that seem designed mostly to make Howard Stern look good. The payments make mockery of Stern's sworn testimony that he never got paid to do interviews.

Many syndicated shows spend to seduce guests with limos, hotel rooms and such, but 'E-T' has taken checkbook journalism to new lows and has made an art of grave digging.

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