updated 12/20/2007 10:55:03 AM ET 2007-12-20T15:55:03

Guests: Craig Crawford, Cliff May, Arianna Huffington, Courtney Hazlett, Stephanie Miller, Wendy Wright, Andrea Visconti, Pam Bondi, Dave Zinczenko

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Tonight, blame the messenger: New information the White House was involve in discussions to destroy those CIA interrogation tapes.  Now, rather than explaining themselves, they‘re just attacking the reports.

Blame the message: The top presidential candidates released ads claiming to embrace the camaraderie and good will of the holiday season.  Then, they slammed their opponents with very non-peaceful and non-harmonious attacks.

And change the message: Jamie Lynn Spears, pregnant at 16.  Yes, Britney‘s little sis tells other teens not to have premarital sex.  But isn‘t her story emblematic of what‘s wrong with abstinence-only programs which are failing around the country?

But first: A major snag today in White House efforts to distance itself from the destruction of those CIA interrogation tapes.  The “New York Times” reports that from 2003 to 2005, top Bush-Cheney lawyers were involved in discussions about the tapes and whether to destroy them.  While, the White House does not officially commented on what they knew or said, they have said the president didn‘t know about it.  Administration officials had leak stories early on about how little the White House knew and about how one senior official advised against destroying the tapes.  Well, it now appears there is more to the story.  And so, not surprisingly, at the White House press briefing, it got tasty.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  I am not accountable for all the anonymous sources that you turn up.  I speak for the president and for the White House.  This says that I was misleading and I was not.

ED HENRY, CNN:  It doesn‘t say you at all.  There are other people the

administration -

PERINO:  The White House does not comment.  The only thing that I have said from this podium is regarding to the president and his recollection.

HENRY:  Why do you take it personally?

PERINO:  I‘m not taking it personally.  I‘m taking it - I speak for the White House.  It‘s not a personal thing.  The White House asked for a correction and I will remind you, the “New York Times” is going to do one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Yes, the White House is trying to turn the table by attacking “The Times,” demanding successfully to have the paper retract its sub-headline that read - “The White House role was wider than it said.”  They want to change the subject to what the White House has said officially rather than privately to reporters.  But as a lawyer, the real issue to me is who said what about the tapes and have they been honest about it?  Privately or publicly.  In a statement, Dana Perino said quote, “We have not described neither to highlight nor to minimize the role or deliberations of White House officials in this matter”.  Translation: A refusal to address the issue of who knew what when and what decisions were made.  They cannot have it both ways.  If they want the record corrected about what the White House said and what they knew, they need to offer up more than just statements about what they didn‘t say in press conferences.  Joining me now, Arianna Huffington, columnist and founder of the “Huffington Post” and Cliff May, president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.  All right.  Arianna, look.  The “New York Times” article doesn‘t specifically say these four lawyers with the Justice Department, with the White House, Harriet Miers, Addington, et cetera, that they didn‘t all say go ahead and destroy the tape.  What the article does say is that it was more complex.  But, it sure does seem to be indicating that the White House was more involved than they‘re saying.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM:  Absolutely.  It basically said that they knew much more than they‘re letting on.  And Dana Perino on the White House‘s objections were purely on semantics—they did not really object to the substance.  It‘s really saying, that I didn‘t say I killed her, it‘s not saying I didn‘t kill her.  So, it‘s really a matter of one sub-heading which as you know is being written by somebody other than authors of the piece and that actually said that the White House had a wider role than they said it has said.  But listen, Dan, do you really doubt that the people mentioned Harriet Miers, Alberto Gonzalez, David Addington, really were simply neutral on the matter?  There is no question, these are people who again and again and again have tried to expand the role of the president, the role of the executive branch.  And basically, skirt the law.

ABRAMS:  Cliff, I would think that at this time, when they‘re under so much pressure to sort of be straighter than they have been about what‘s going on, about important issues facing the nation.  That they wouldn‘t have the White House press secretary get up and say, well, we didn‘t say this.  We didn‘t say that.  And yet, in private conversations, it seems pretty clear that they did say more than we‘re learning now.

CLIFF MAY, FOUNDATION FOR THE DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES:  You know, we‘re

just living in alternative universes here.  I think the “New York Times”

made a mistake, it said in the headline that Dana Perino or the White House

was misleading the public.  Have that been let to stand, there probably

would have been 30 shows on this network about the White House once again

misleading the public.  Good for Dana Perino.  She stood up and said, you

know what? “Times” has got it wrong.  They got to correct it.  If the

“Times” said, all right.  Good for the “Times.”  We got it wrong.  We‘re

going to correct it.  Now, you are a lawyer.  You know how this works a

little bit.  You know how Washington works.  Let‘s suppose that over at the

CIA, they have these tapes of al Qaeda suspects several years ago being

interrogated.  And the CIA as the CIA has said wanted to get rid of these

tapes because they don‘t want the identities of the interrogators to be

known to anyone or let out.  It could endanger them.  That bothered you

with Valerie Plame but doesn‘t you here.  So, what might they do?  They

might say to the White House lawyers and other lawyers, can we get rid of

these tapes or can we not?  And the lawyers would discuss it.  And that is

not a scandal, Dan.  It is a scandal Arianna.  That is no crazy things

lawyers disagree -

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  I totally—look.  I think if the lawyers were involved, come clean, say they were involved.  Again Cliff and let me read you the time line here.  No, I‘m not going to stop.  I‘m going to read the time line.  OK.  This is important.

MAY:  Oh, yeah.

ABRAMS:  It is.  It is important as to what the White House has been saying happened.  The director of the CIA said the decision destroyed the tapes was made quote, “Within the CIA” is what they say in December six.  Then, we learned of course later that Hayden actually knew about the tapes earlier than he said.  December eight: The story changes, the “New York Times” reporting Harriet Miers advised the CIA against destroying the tapes.  They want to get that out because they think it helps them.  December 10: New information.  A new story intelligence officials say that the top CIA lawyers signed off on destruction of the tapes but just CIA lawyers.  And added the White House never gave direct orders not to have them destroyed.  The White House response was, no come.  Then today, again, December 19th.  Now, that this new report that the White House lawyers were involved in the discussions.  I mean, it seems to me, Arianna, if they want to end this.  Cliff is right, it‘s not a scandal if the lawyers were involve in discussion.  Now, depending on what their advice was.  But if they want to end this, just come clean.  Stop this sort of leak on the one hand about this might have been the case.  Then we find out, oh, you know what?  More of you might have been involved than we knew.  It just makes them seem like they‘re obfuscating.

HUFFINGTON:  But you know what?  It‘s potentially much worse than obfuscating.  It‘s potentially criminal because we‘re talking about destruction of evidence.  And this is really the issue that we are facing right now.  And was it a cover-up about the destruction of evidence?  You know perfectly well the White House had the power to ask for a ruling from the Department of Justice and not just advise the CIA but instruct the CIA not to destroy the tapes.  They just should put some flesh and blood on the period we‘re talking about.  It‘s 2005.  It‘s after Abu Ghraib.  The last thing they want is for these tapes to leak out.

ABRAMS:  Look and Cliff, you would agree, you would agree that if there was obstruction of justice here, that‘s a big deal.  I mean, it sounds to me Cliff, like your position is we don‘t know exactly what the lawyers‘ advice based on the “New York Times” report.  I think that‘s fair.  We don‘t know exactly what they advise but if they did offer advice that suggested go ahead and destroy the tapes, there could be problems and be, they‘re just not coming clean with us.

MAY:  Look, there - your position and certainly Arianna‘s, let‘s have the sentence first, then verdict, then investigation.  (INAUDIBLE)  Right now we have the CIA inspector general, he is investigating.  We have the Justice Department under a new attorney general, he is investigating.  And we have Congress on a bipartisan basis, they are investigating.

ABRAMS:  Right.  The reason everyone is investigating is because we‘re

never getting straight answers from this administration, no one trusting

them -

MAY:  The investigation—let‘s hope the investigation comes one straight answers but don‘t expect Dana Perino to stand there and say let me give you the ticket.

ABRAMS:  No, I don‘t.  When she tries to turn the table I will call her on.

(CROSSTALK)

MAY:  And I want to remind you again, that Nancy Pelosi and others all

knew there were harsh techniques being used against al Qaeda.  And let me

remind you, two, we don‘t want CIA interrogators being exposed on TV and we

don‘t want their faces -

ABRAMS:  All right.  That‘s why I want a CIA interrogators went to go public if he was so worried about their faces being shown on TV.  Let me switch topics here for a minute, right?

(CROSSTALK)

MAY:  Ask Arianna, does she want them prosecuted?

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Cliff, you know what?  This is what you trying to do.  You try to change the subject and do you know why?

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  The law - Cliff, I‘ll give you the answer real quick and then I‘m going to change the subject.  There is a law that protects the actual interrogators.  They don‘t have to worry, Cliff.  It‘s the people who ordered it.

MAY:  Really?

ABRAMS:  Yes.  If you didn‘t know that, I‘ll be happy to cite it for

you.  But there is a law that protects the actual interrogators if they

believe what they were doing is legal.  Period.  Now to a case -

(CROSSTALK)

MAY:  I‘ll bet she disagrees with you.

ABRAMS:  It is a fact.  I‘m not going to let you ask her.  Here we go.  Case of d’j… vu in the Senate.  Confirmation hearings for deputy attorney general Mark Filip.  The simple question.  Is waterboarding torture?  It still appears to be so complex a legal question that now the deputy attorney general nominee, like the now attorney general Michael Mukasey before him, did not feel he had enough information to answer the question. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED KENNEDY, (D) MASSACHUSETTS:  Do you consider waterboarding torture?

MARK FILIP, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE:  Senator, speaking personally, I consider waterboarding to be repugnant.  The attorney general of the United States is presently reviewing that legal question.

KENNEDY:  You‘re not prepared to tell us in your own words whether you believe that waterboarding is torture?

FILIP:  I think, senator, that I will wait having access to that information and wait enough opportunity to confirm to give candid advice to the attorney general on that before I answer question he presently has under review.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Cliff, usually I know what you‘re going to say.  Now, I want to see.  Maybe you‘ll be nuances on this one.  Don‘t you think the deputy attorney general has enough information to answer the question—is waterboarding torture?

MAY:  He absolutely does not because as you know, and this makes you mad, Dan, right now, in Congress, we have been having a debate over whether or not waterboarding should be declared an illegal practice and there haven‘t been enough votes to declare it illegal.

ABRAMS:  Republican senators have been blocking the legislation.

MAY:  I know you think Dan that if the people you like vote for it, it

should pass even if there are others opposing.  Let me point out to you

that also, 20 times, the people you prefer have tried to shut down the

funds for the soldiers and they fail and they have close down one time -

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Mark Filip is the  question I‘m asking.  Arianna, Mark Filip, I want to stay on this one, the deputy attorney general has just asked the question, do you think waterboarding is torture and he‘s not answering it.  Why?

HUFFINGTON:  Well, Dan, you know what?  I think that both Filip and

his boss, the current attorney general should not have been confirmed

because anybody who cannot answer the question whether waterboarding is

torture or not is basically not fit to hold a public office.  You know, it

is ridiculous in this country to be debating whether waterboarding is

torture while at the same time, claiming the moral high ground of being

Americans and being the policeman of the world and the moral authority for

the world

ABRAMS:  Cliff, I got 10 seconds.

MAY:  Look, Congress can on any day, if it has enough votes say waterboarding is torture.  And Nancy Pelosi, Jay Rockefeller and others they knew about waterboarding back in 2002.  They did not consider it torture then.  You want to make it torture, get the votes for it.  It is a gray line. 

ABRAMS:  Get the Senate Republicans to stop holding it up, period. 

Arianna, Cliff, thank you.

MAY:  I know you want them too, but they got to vote, too.

ABRAMS:  I got to go.  Cliff, thanks a lot.

Coming up next: It is the season for hypocrisy.  The “08 presidential candidates are telling us it‘s the most wonderful time of the year..  A time to put ranker aside and welcome in the good will and cheer of the season while sitting in front of a Christmas tree, maybe wearing cozy holiday sweater.  And then back in real life, the mudslinging is in full gear.  We call them out on their faux holiday cheer.

And: Jamie Lynn Spears, pregnant at 16 after telling other teens not to have sex before marriage.  Isn‘t this a perfect example of why abstinence-only programs are failing around the country?

Plus:  Soon, we‘re going to start reading your emails.  The address:  

HYPERLINK “mailto:Abrams@MSNBC.comAbrams@MSNBC.com.  Tell us what you think of me, the show, our segments.  I know it‘s not going to be nice sometimes.  It‘s the holiday season.  Back in the minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Did you know that the 2008 presidential candidates, Republican Mitt Romney has been the biggest spender on TV ads, dropping a record 10.2 million as of last month.  Coming up: It‘s the new political ads are coming to a TV near you featuring the ‘08 candidates claiming the holidays are the time to get along but they‘re not practicing what they preach, at least many of them.  We will call them out.  Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  They say they want to take time out from the mud slinging, the one line slingers and that cause attack ads to enjoy the holiday season.  That‘s right, if you look at the latest ‘08 political ads, it‘s suddenly all about peace, love and harmony.  Yes.  Right.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE HUCKABEE, ® PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  If you got worn out of all the television commercials you‘ve been seeing?  Mostly about politics.  I don‘t blame you.

JOHN EDWARDS, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  This is season of miracles, of faith and love.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA. (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  In this holiday season, we‘re reminded the things that unite us as a people are more powerful and enduring than anything that sets us apart.

RUDY GIULIANI, ® PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I really hope that all of the presidential candidates can just get along.

MITT ROMNEY, ® PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  That‘s an insult to the president and Mike Huckabee should apologize.

OBAMA:  I‘m going to fight the lobbyists and the special interests in Washington.  What (INAUDIBLE) when you were in the Senate.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  How did running for president become a qualification to be president?

ROMNEY:  I think Mike is desperately hoping that we would get through this without people taking a close look at his positions and his record.

HUCKABEE:  Couldn‘t we shut down the harsh rhetoric of politics for

just a few days?  And I think at this time, despicable tactics are the only

thing they have left in -

ROMNEY:  Too liberal on immigration, too liberal on crime -

HUCKABEE:  He‘s obviously the desperate in his campaign.

SANTA CLAUS:  I was with you right up until that last one.

GIULIANI:  Can‘t have everything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Joining us now is columnist for “Congressional Quarterly Politics.com,” Craig Crawford.  Craig, good to see you.  All right.  So, let me ask you, I mean look, we see that this really doesn‘t seem to be entirely honest when they‘re saying, you know, let‘s stop the bickering, let‘s stop this and this that.  But, do you think there is any chance that candidates who do any of the sort of negative attacks at this time of year could suffer politically?

CRAIG CRAWFORD, CQPOLITICS.COM:  I think it is getting close enough to the voting that it very well could.  And I think some of them are backing off a bit.  Obama is backed off from some of the harsh stuff he had been saying.  Romney is the one who still out there staying on the attack because he is in tough shape.  He is not busting Huckabee‘s lead there in Iowa.  So, he is staying on.

ABRAMS:  Does the holiday - I mean, honestly, does the fact that it is the holiday season mean anything?  Does it change anything with regard to their strategy politically?

CRAWFORD:  Well, it‘s a grand experiment because we‘ve never seen this before where the voting is so soon, just two days after new years and the candidates aren‘t sure what to do.  So, they‘re playing with these ads to see what kind of reaction it gets.  They‘ll be in the field measuring the results, I‘m sure, to see if it does create any kind of backlash among voters.  But, they don‘t have a choice.  I mean, Christmas is falling nine days before the first voting in this presidential campaign.  So, they can‘t afford to just take several days off like they used to in the past.

ABRAMS:  And you can actually take a look at the different candidates, Christmas and holiday messages.  And you can kind of read in a little bit as to how their different holiday messages reflect their different positions.  Can‘t you?

CRAWFORD:  Yes, I mean, the Huckabee has an ad which is a classic of what I call a positive negative where you emphasize one thing about your candidate in hopes that it brings to mind something negative about your opponent.  Even though, you don‘t say it directly.  And so, Huckabee‘s campaign is very focused on I love Jesus more than Romney does.  And that is sort of what his ad is trying to get across.

ABRAMS:  Here‘s the part of the Huckabee ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUCKABEE:  At this time of year, sometime it is nice to pull aside from all that and just remember that what really matters is the celebration and the birth of Christ.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  He‘s talking about what really matters there.  And look, a lot of people agree with him.  That is what really matters.  The question I have though is whether he and his campaign have to change their tactics this time of year.  It doesn‘t sound like at least with regard to Huckabee that he‘s doing that.

CRAWFORD:  No.  He is not.  And I think you know that we will see as soon as the packages, the other packages are unwrapped and everybody has gone back to exchange gifts, so, the next day, it will all start just like it was before.  This is going to be a very short window of peace.  And there will be very little peace on Iowa‘s earth.  I can tell you that.

ABRAMS:  Craig Crawford.  Thanks very much.  Appreciate it.

CRAWFORD:  All right.

ABRAMS:  Coming up: Britney Spears‘ 16-year-old sister is pregnant.  The star of the “Nickelodeon Show” is also telling teens not to have sex before marriage.  Isn‘t this a perfect example of why abstinence education does not work?  Do what I say, not what I do.  The evidence is in.  They don‘t work.  And I believe both Spears sisters helped prove the point.  Coming up.

With this being the most wonderful time of the year, it‘s time for all of us in the TV news business to stop the bickering, the attacks and come together this holiday season.  So, to all my friends at FOX, CNN, ABC, CBS have a happy and peaceful holiday season.  I‘m Dan Abrams, I approved this message.

Coming up: Beat the Press.  FOX‘s Bill O‘Reilly says he is one of the intellectual elite and he cites his one year masters degree to prove.  OK.  I guess I just can‘t resist.  It‘s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s time for tonight‘s Beat the Press.  Our daily look back at the absurd and sometimes amusing perils of live TV.  First up: FOX‘s Bill O‘Reilly as always taking himself far more seriously than almost anyone else does, chatting with Babe Buchanan, who is lampooning the quote, “Intellectual snubs.”  When O‘Reilly stepped in to remind her that he‘s also an intellectual elite.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O‘REILLY, HOST:  The far left lose me and you don‘t get more intellectual that I am.  All right?

BABE BUCHANAN:  Not like you.  But it goes to the second -

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  All right.  You think maybe he‘s kidding but it is funny on a lot of level.  First and the most obvious, the notion that he‘s congratulating himself on being an intellectual and yes our researcher tells us me, while in his adult life he got a one-time degree in public administration at Harvard, a one-year adult education degree does not land you in the highest intellectual category.

Next up: There seems to be a trend at the so-called most trusted name in news.  CNN has repeatedly mistaken Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama for the world‘s most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden.  It started with this at the beginning of the year.  A full screen of the Osama bin Laden with the captured, you know the caption there - where is Obama?  Then two weeks ago, this graphic on the monitor, Obama Nebraska while reporting on the deadly shootings in Omaha, Nebraska, linking murder and Senator Obama, slightly different issue.  And on Monday, there was this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BETTY NGUYEN, ANCHOR:  Obama‘s campaign has been dog with false rumors, among them that Osama is a Muslim.  Obama, rather.

(END VIDEO CLIP0

ABRAMS:  Then CNN HEADLINE NEWS anchor, Glenn Beck brought the slander to GOOD MORNING AMERICA with this slip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLENN BECK, ANCHOR:  They just want somebody that they feel they can

trust.  I think Osama—unfortunate name.  Obama -

(END VIDEO CLIP0

ABRAMS:  Unfortunate name.  What is going on over there at CN N?

Finally: Over at the FOX  Business Network, Cody Willard apparently got a little distracted talking to a PETA spokesmodel.  People Ethical Treatment of Animals.  He did not seem to be listening to her repeated corrections of his pronunciation of PETA.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CODY WILLARD, HOST:  Talk to me first about this petta thing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I did the PETA campaign.

WILLARD:  Was this before you started with petta?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  With PETA.

WILLARD:  Right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  PETA.

WILLARD:  You‘re doing courses with petta.  You‘re helping petta, you‘re working hard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  He seems busy maybe focusing on something else.  Look at his eyes right there.  We need your help Beating the Press.  If you see anything right, wrong, amusing, absurd, go to our Web site at Abrams.msnbc.com.  Leave us a tip in the box, please include the show and the time you saw the item.

Up next: Britney Spears‘ 16-year-old sister is pregnant.  The same sister has been telling other teens not to have premarital sex.  It is a perfect example of why abstinence-only education is failing around the country.

Plus: More bad news for American, Amanda Knox being held in Italy after her roommate was found dead in their apartment.  She was sexually assaulted.  A judge now saying a group of people actively participated in the murder.  An investigator saying a Harry Potter clue could be crucial evidence that Amanda was at the home that night.  Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, “Harry Potter” may be what brings Amanda Knox down.  The American college student suspected of murdering her roommate claimed to have read the book at her boyfriend‘s the night of the murder.  Police didn‘t find it there.  They found it at the murder scene instead. 

And after a lot of back and forth, it seems that Miss Puerto Rico was telling the truth when she said, “My gown was doused with pepper spray.”  Plus, do you know when you and your friends go “Outback” and you‘re thinking an appetizer might be good to start?  You order a plate of cheese fries.  According to a new book, that dish could be the worst food in America - three time more fat than anyone should have in a day.  Those stories are coming up in tonight‘s “Winners and Losers.”

But first, Britney Spears‘ 16-year-old kid sister is with child.  Since the announcement yesterday, her mother‘s book on Christian parenting has, shocker, been indefinitely delayed.  When asked about premarital sex, Jamie Lynn told “OK!” magazine, “I definitely don‘t think it is something you should do.  It is better to wait.  But I can‘t be judgmental because it is a position I put myself in.”

And remember a few years ago when Britney Spears made a big to-do about the fact that she was going to remain a virgin until she got married?  Then, her ex-lawyers came forward and announced she had sex at the age of 14.  They‘re both just reflective of the “do what I say, not what I do” mentality that has driven abstinence-only education around the country. 

The Bush administration has earmarked $204 million for these programs that refuse to teach sex education and it‘s failing miserably.  At least 14 states now refusing federal funding for it after a long-awaited congressional report found that there‘s no evidence that the programs work.  In fact, in 2005-2006, the teen birth rate rose for the first time since ‘91.  And the states with the highest teen birth rates had embraced abstinence-only programs. 

Jamie Lynn Spears should be talking about birth control and the need for it, because she‘s right.  She, like so many other normal teens, put herself in that position.  It happens all the time.  And just hoping kids won‘t have sex is a recipe for failure. 

Here now is Courtney Hazlett, MSNBC.com “Pop Culture” and “Scoop” columnist; Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America; and Stephanie Miller, host of the “Stephanie Miller Show.”  All right.  Thanks to all of you.  Courtney, let me start with you.  First, on this book that her mother was writing, tell me about and it what is the status of it? 

COURTNEY HAZLETT, COLUMNIST, MSNBC.COM:  The book was meant to be a sort of how-to guide of shepherding your young daughters and the young women of your family.  There are all the pitfalls of peer pressure, and in her circumstances, of fame as well. 

This book was in the works for a while now.  It wasn‘t just coming about right when this news broke.  It was always - about six months in the works, and right now, it‘s on hold indefinitely.  The publisher is a publisher of mostly inspirational books and bibles.  And so, obviously, they‘re in a very, very awkward position.  

ABRAMS:  All right.  Now, Wendy, look.  I don‘t know if she was using birth control or not, OK?  You don‘t know that, I don‘t know that.  What I do know, though, is that she‘s coming out and making a comment that I don‘t criticize her for at all.  She is saying she does not think pregnancy is something you should do.  It‘s better to wait, but she said she can‘t be judgmental because she put herself into. 

It seems to me that is reflective of the problem.  The bottom line is these abstinence-only programs aren‘t working and you‘ve got people out there saying, “Do what say, not what I do.” 

WENDY WRIGHT, PRESIDENT, CONCERNED WOMEN FOR AMERICA:  I think you‘re wrong on a couple points.  In fact, there is good evidence that the abstinence education programs are working.  The bullet points that you showed at the beginning were not accurate. 

ABRAMS:  The government studies that I cited did not happen? 

WRIGHT:  No.  The government -

ABRAMS:  It did happen.  

WRIGHT:  There was no government study.  What it was, was a biased

political report -

ABRAMS:  A government report.  Yes.

WRIGHT:  That was put out by a particular congressman who has strong ties to planned parenthood.  Planned parenthood, which by the way, profits from kids being sexually active. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let‘s not talk about planned parenthood. 

WRIGHT:  Yes, but we did go to the abstinence education -

ABRAMS:  I want to talk about the fact that the “do what I say, what

not do” culture that you advocate, which is to - 

WRIGHT:  No, not at all.  In fact - Let me say there are a number of

people, probably the majority who advocate abstinence who are themselves -

ABRAMS:  Abstinence only.  Don‘t change the subject.  We‘re talking

about not teaching - I‘m not going to let you get away with that.  We‘re

talking about abstinence -

WRIGHT:  Get away with what? 

ABRAMS:  By claiming the people -

WRIGHT:  No.  What I said -

ABRAMS:  I‘ll tell you what.  You asked me a question.  I‘m not going to let you get away with claiming we‘re talking about abstinence.  We‘re talking about abstinence-only programs and my concern is, it leads to young people getting pregnant because they don‘t know what to do. 

WRIGHT:  Yes.  And, Dan, I would encourage to you sit in on some of the programs and learn what it is they actually teach.  It turns out, in fact, one of the programs in Virginia came out just recently.  It showed that it had a higher, much higher success rate with kids refraining from sexual activity than any of the comprehensive sex ed programs. 

Because guess what?  None of the comprehensive sex programs have any evidence of encouraging or resulting in kids refraining from sexual activity.  So the abstinence-only programs are far more successful than comprehensive sex ed programs.  

ABRAMS:  All right.  Look, Stephanie Miller, it is a non-issue as

far as I‘m concerned as to the stats on this.  I‘m not even going to debate

the statistics.  It‘s become increasingly clear that these abstinence-only

programs are not working.  But I want to bring it back to the two - This

Jamie Lynn-

STEPHANIE MILLER, HOST, “STEPHANIE MILLER SHOW”:  Dan, first of all

-

ABRAMS:  Go ahead.

MILLER:  Wait, wait.  First of all, I have to say I‘m offended by the name of Wendy‘s group, Concerned Women for America.  I guess I‘m president of “Women Who Don‘t Give A (EXPLETIVE DELETED).”  But all I can tell you is there have also been studies that kids that take abstinence pledge, it actually makes them hornier.  It is not working, Dan.  Abstinence programs are not working.

ABRAMS:  Well, that I know.  Look, this is from the Teen Abstinence

“There does not exist any strong evidence that any abstinence program delays the initiation ... “

WRIGHT:  That‘s not true, Dan.

ABRAMS:  I‘m reading.  I‘m quoting - “program delays the initiation of sex, hastens the return to abstinence, or reduces the number of sexual partners.”  That‘s from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy study. 

But let‘s get back to Jamie Lynn Spears.  I mean, do you think, and Wendy, I‘ll put this one on a platter for you.  Do you think it is unfair for me to link this and say this is the “do what I say, not what I do” culture?

WRIGHT:  Well, what do you mean by culture?  Do you mean these two young women who certainly are not reflective of most people in the United States? 

ABRAMS:  But see, Courtney, I think that they are.  I think that‘s

the problem.  Britney Spears is not your typical teenager, neither is - 

HAZLETT:  Absolutely.  I don‘t think you can -

(CROSS TALK)

ABRAMS:  She met her - How did she meet her boyfriend?  How did she meet her boyfriend?

HAZLETT:  She met her boyfriend at church, ironically.  That‘s exactly how Jamie Lynn Spears - in a supposedly safe place.  And one of the things I would like to point out is that when Lynn Spears was being interviewed, she said, “I never thought this could happen.  She always came home on time when I gave her a curfew.  I thought she was a really good kid.” 

So somewhere along these lines, there is a huge disconnect.  Just because your kid comes home for the curfew, it doesn‘t necessarily mean that there‘s nothing unfortunate or unexpected is going to happen later on. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  And Stephanie, look.  I think someone could accuse me of being unfairly linking these two and it would be a fair - it‘s a fair argument because I don‘t know that they‘re linked.  But it does to me - Again, the problem is that you have Jamie Lynn Spears out there to me is reflecting the typical teen mentality which is, “Boy, kids shouldn‘t do it, but I did.” 

MILLER:  Well, I‘ll tell what you works, Dan.  I went to a Catholic school and 12 years of nuns beating you will work because I‘m 46 and I‘m still a virgin.  But I think you‘re right.  Most normal kids, you know, your parents can tell what you they feel is right or wrong.  But there is a reality out there, Dan, that you‘re talking about and they also have to be taught about the reality. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Go ahead, Wendy.

WRIGHT:  Well, with abstinence-only education, what we find is that if kids have healthy family lives, and if they‘re encouraged to learn how to say no.  In fact, there is one study that shows that young women were asked, “What do you want to learn most in a sex ed program?”  And their answer was, “How to say no.”

ABRAMS:  Great.  Teach them that. 

WRIGHT:  These are the kinds of things -

ABRAMS:  I have no problem with teaching them that.  I‘m just saying don‘t go with abstinence-only.  That‘s all I‘m saying.  I‘m happy for them to encourage kids not to have sex.  No one is saying go in there and encourage them to have sex. 

WRIGHT:  But, Dan -

HAZLETT:  I just want to speak on behalf of Jamie Lynn for just a second here.  You‘re talking about the general public versus a person who is an immensely successful person on a show.  She‘s on Nickelodeon.  She is part of show business.  She is not to be lumped in these categories per se. 

I think that just the same way that you can claim that you can‘t legislate morality among your politicians, you can‘t legislate morality and the behavior you want out of the stars of your network. And that‘s what we‘re left with Jamie Lynn.  So you have to say, is this one big policy, so to speak, going to work for everybody, or is it going to work when we want it to when it‘s the number one show on the network? 

ABRAMS:  All right.

MILLER:  Dan, here‘s an idea for Mrs. Spears. 

ABRAMS:  Quickly.  Yes.

MILLER:  Maybe she should write a book on better judgment in men, helping your daughters pick better men.  

ABRAMS:  No, look.  I don‘t even blame the guys this happens.  This is what happens when teens have sex.  I mean, it is unfortunate.  It is a reality.  Anyway, Courtney Hazlett, Wendy Wright, Stephanie Miller.  Thank you very much. 

Up next, more bad news for American Amanda Knox being held in Italy after her roommate was found murdered.  A judge is now saying she was killed by a group.  And investigators say a “Harry Potter” book could be crucial evidence that Amanda Knox was at the home that night. 

And later, in “Winners and Losers,” the worst food for you in America.  Here‘s a clue.  It‘s an appetizer.  And there is another clue - it‘s on the screen.

(MUSIC)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Did you know J.K. Rowling‘s latest “Harry Potter” book sold more than 300,000 copies per hour when it was first released?  That‘s more than 5,000 copies a minute. 

Coming up, a “Harry Potter” book may lead to the trouble, possibly big trouble for American college student Amanda Knox being held after her roommate‘s murder.  Investigators say they found a copy of the book Amanda said she was reading at her boyfriend‘s place.  They found it at the scene of the crime.  Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  More bad news for American college student Amanda Knox suspected of being involved in her roommate‘s murder in Italy.  Now, new indications that investigators are finding more discrepancies in Amanda‘s story. 

She told the chief investigating judge that she was reading a “Harry Potter” book at her boyfriend‘s house the night of the murder.  But alas, authorities have now found the book, not at her boyfriend‘s apartment, but at the cottage where she was living, but also where the crime took place. 

Meantime today, the judge in the case announced there was, quote, “a group participation in the heinous crime in which a passive role does not appear plausible for any of those present.”  Investigators are now saying they have evidence that Knox, her Italian boyfriend, and a second man were all in the apartment the night that the roommate was murdered. 

Here now again is Andrea Visconti, correspondent with the Italian newspaper “L‘Espresso” and prosecutor Pam Bondi.  Thanks to both of you.  All right.  This seems like a big, big development against Amanda Knox.

ANDREA VISCONTI, CORRESPONDENT, “L‘ESPRESSO”:  Bad news.  Not only did they find the book, they found the book in German.  How many people in Italy read Harry Potter in German?  Now, Amanda apparently reads German.  So she did say that she was reading the book in German and that very copy ended up in Meredith‘s apartment. 

ABRAMS:  And she said, “I was reading it at my boyfriend‘s house,” which has been her alibi up to now, right? 

VISCONTI:  She did.  Exactly.  So this is another lie or contradiction or whatever, so her situation is getting really difficult.  Considering that just a few days ago, she was in front of the magistrate and there was another very difficult development because that‘s when she said that she saw Meredith‘s body near the armoire in the bedroom.  Well, they found Meredith on the other side of the room. 

ABRAMS:  Why is that significant? 

VISCONTI:  It is significant because according to the magistrate, the body was dragged from one side of the room to the other.  How does Amanda know that the body was on one side instead of the other? 

ABRAMS:  I see.  So she may have - So Pam Bondi, what that could mean is that she didn‘t see the body being dragged but she was involved when the body was in a different place in the room. 

BONDI:  Certainly it does, Dan, and really, it doesn‘t matter under the murder law.  And like the judge said, all three were active participants in his opinion.  What they‘re doing, Dan, this is really about the credibility of her story.  And Italian investigators are doing a great job.  They‘re slowly chipping away at her story.  They went back in the house just yesterday and that‘s how they found the book. 

ABRAMS:  This is what the judge said as well, “The investigation has found the presence of more people in that house at the moment in which Meredith was killed, and the quick departure of all of them after the tragic conclusion of the evening.”  How does judge know that? 

VISCONTI:  At least three characters in the story.  There is Amanda, there‘s her Italian boyfriend, and there‘s this guy from the Ivory Coast, Rudy.  All three are in jail.  Apparently, all three of them are contradicting each other‘s stories, and their own stories.  

ABRAMS:  And all three are linked to the crime most importantly, right? 

VISCONTI:  And all three are linked to the crime, including the guy from the Ivory Coast who claims that he went back to the department that night because Meredith wanted to have consensual sex with him.  However, there is no evidence that there was ever an encounter between him and Meredith prior to that.  

ABRAMS:  But isn‘t he the one who also talks about the fact he was in the bathroom, he thinks, when the murder took place? 

VISCONTI:  That‘s what the magistrate determined today.  They said that‘s not plausible.  They do not believe it.

ABRAMS:  But Pam, I could have told you that before the magistrate came back.  I mean, this guy is claiming he was in the bathroom when the murder took place?  And he comes out and sort of sees this slashing person escaping from the distance? 

BONDI:  Right, Dan, and not only that.  Now, they‘re saying they found his fingerprints on a pillow case in her bedroom.  They also found Amanda Knox‘s footprints on a post card where it shouldn‘t have been.  And they found the Sollecito‘s footprint which was very tough to do.  They said they identified it by a small star on the bottom of his sneaker near her body.  

ABRAMS:  So, real quick, Pam.  These three are going to live together or in if effect, die together? 

BONDI:  Yes.  I think they‘re going to start flipping as we‘ve been anticipating they were going to do.  I think clearly, he is already turning on Amanda Knox. 

ABRAMS:  I‘m surprised they haven‘t flipped on each other faster. 

Anyway, Andrea Visconti, thanks very much.  Pam Bondi, I appreciate it. 

BONDI:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Up next, in “Winners and Losers,” it turns out Miss Puerto Rico, Ingrid Marie Rivera, was telling the truth about her dress being pepper-sprayed.  Karl Rove‘s memoir not as popular as he had hoped.  And the worst food for you in America is an appetizer. 

A beauty queen who was not lying; a book only few will be buying; or a food you should not be trying.  Which will be tonight‘s big winner or loser?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s time for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers” for this 19th day of December, 2007.  Our bronze winner, GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.  After enduring days of attacks over his latest Christmas ad, it appears to include a subliminal message with a floating cross, the longshot turned front-runner now turning the tables on his critics, revealing the other hidden messages in the ad.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE (R-AR):  What you didn‘t catch was with my eyes, I was signaling in Morse code, a very secret message to all the Evangelicals out there, and you have to watch very carefully to catch that.  I said yesterday that if you played the spot backwards, it says, “Paul is dead.  Paul is dead.”

(END VIDEO CLIP)  

ABRAMS:  Our silver winner.  The Hoff, as in David Hasselhoff.  The “Bay Watch Boy” settled a major dispute with his ex-wife in divorce court, despite this damaging piece of evidence, which appears to show the judge of “America‘s Got Talent” showing off another one of his talents. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID HASSELHOFF, ACTOR:  This is a mess. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  He‘s now agreed to share custody of his two daughters with his ex-wife. 

But the big winner the day?  Miss Puerto Rico, Ingrid Marie Rivera.  The embattled beauty queen has now set a record for the most spots in our “Winners and Losers” segments, going from winner to loser, winner back to loser, depending on the latest twist surrounding the pageant‘s pepper spray scandal. 

Well, now it appears Miss Puerto Rico is definitively a winner.  She won the crown and now police finally confirmed, that yes, her gown was doused with pepper spray.  Come on!  I never doubted it. 

On the losers front.  Our bronze loser, President Bush‘s right-hand man Karl Rove, whose mega-hyped memoirs are turning out to be a tough-sell to publishers.  According to insiders, the predicted $3 million plus price tag appears to be just the architect‘s dreams. 

Rove‘s right-wing cohort, Ann Coulter, also bearing some back lash.  Her latest anti-liberal (UNINTELLIGIBLE) sold only 40 percent or so as many copies as her last book sold in the same time period. 

Our silver loser, Tennessee State Representative Rob Riley busted for leading cops on a drunken high-speed chase and allegedly asking them to shoot him in the head twice.  The liquored up Democrat offered up a doozy of an explanation why he was driving drunk at the time.  He was just driving himself to rehab.  The Democrat faces the judge this week on the charges. 

But the big loser of the day?  Outback Steakhouse, who according to a new book, serves up the single worst food in America, the Outback Aussie Cheese Fries.  The restaurant lists this diet-inducing dish as an appetizer.  A 2,900-calorie, 182 grams-of-fat appetizer?  That‘s three times more fat than anyone should consume in an entire day. 

Here now, my long time pal, Dave Zinczenko, editor-in-chief of “Men‘s Health” magazine and author of the hot new book, “Eat This, Not That.”  Dave, good to see you on TV for a change. 

DAVE ZINCZENKO, AUTHOR OF “EAT THIS, NOT THAT”:  Good to see you.  I‘m a big fan of the show.  

ABRAMS:  Thank you so much.  All right.  Take us through - We asked you to pick the top three, apart from the one we just talked about, the top three of the “Winners and Losers” segment.  We want you to tell us the three biggest losers in terms of worst food out there. 

ZINCZENKO:  All right.  Another loser.  You‘ve got the Awesome Blossom from Chili‘s.  This thing is 2700 calories, over 200 grams of fat.  It‘s the caloric equivalent of eating 14 Krispy Kreme doughnuts before you move on to your entree. 

Then you go to Ruby Tuesdays.  There, they‘ve got a turkey burger. 

ABRAMS:  Turkey burger.  Sounds healthy.

ZINCZENKO:  It sounds healthy until you realize you‘re gobbling 1150

calories and a day‘s worth of fat.  And then you won‘t eat this,

ABRAMS:  Number three.

ZINCZENKO:  Deep dish pizza.  You go to Uno‘s Chicago Grill.  And there, their six-inch personal deep dish pizza is 2,300 cal prison and 160 grams of fat.  You would be better off eating two domino‘s medium size crispy thin crust cheese pizza. 

ABRAMS:  Now, look, in this book, you sort of lay out all of the - sort of the eat this, not that as the whole concept.  You‘re telling them what to eat and not to.  I‘ve got to believe that some people are not happy with your book. 

ZINCZENKO:  There was a lot of stonewalling going on.  The PR directors at these top chains, they earned their salary in 2007.  Because a lot of times, we were asking them, “Why aren‘t you giving us this kind of information?”  The answers we were getting is, “Well, we like to keep our products fresh.  We have literally millions of different combinations.  It would be impossible to provide it.” 

The real answer is they don‘t want you to realize you are going to get an appetizer and it‘s got 2500 calories in it. 

ABRAMS:  And lo and behold, Quizno‘s, for example - you were demanding

information.  They didn‘t have any.  They said they didn‘t - it wasn‘t

available and then -

ZINCZENKO:  The first time in their 21-year history, a week before the book goes to press, they dump it all.  I think we can take some credit for such a move. 

ABRAMS:  Well, that‘s good.  It‘s investigative stuff, too, forcing them to answer the questions. 

ABRAMS:  Dave Zinczenko -

ZINCZENKO:  Thanks, Dan.

ABRAMS:  In the flesh.  That is all the time we have for tonight.  Up next, stay tune for “LOCKUP HOLMAN EXTENDED STAY.”  See you tomorrow.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

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