updated 1/11/2008 11:14:30 AM ET 2008-01-11T16:14:30

Guests: Monica Lindstrom, Anne Bremner, Tim Susann, Tre Benson

DAN ABRAMS:  Some of the people writing that story want to see her out. 

Five reasons the inside Washington media hate Hillary.

Then: Breaking news in the story of the pregnant marine, who accused an officer of rape, then disappeared.  The local sheriff joins us with new details.

And: Former teacher Debra Lafave who had sex with a student back in court today facing grueling (ph) cross examination from an overzealous prosecutors for her hugging a female co-worker.  I‘ll take them on.

But first: The inside DC media‘s effort to explain their vastly overstated predictions of Hillary Clinton‘s demise continue today.  But the premature epitaphs maybe a lot simpler than many of them were portraying it.  As they analyze and overanalyze her quote, “Comeback,” I think the answer is just that a lot of them don‘t like Hillary Clinton or the Clinton story.

Today: Senator John Kerry, the 2004 nominee endorsed Clinton‘s primary opponent, Barack Obama, but in the long term, team Clinton should be more concerned about some of the inside Washington media, the people who are covering every word, every angle of the race.  Why do they want to write her off?

My theory: Number one—the Clintons are old news.  They‘ve been on TV and on the front page since the early 90s.  Everything has been covered and uncovered.  There‘s nothing new, especially in comparison to newcomer, Barack Obama, whose story is a fascinating and noble one. Number two—as a result, some of the inside DC media are constantly searching for some, any crack in the Clinton armor.  Number three—over all these years, her staff has developed a testy relationship with many in the press.  Snapping at reporters the stories they don‘t like, freezing out others.  Number four—Hillary knows how to avoid making news when reporters do get to talk to her.  She plays it safe and knows which questions and answers will get her into trouble.  That can be maddening for those of us who ask questions for a living.  And number five—because she‘s a moderate politically.  She doesn‘t have the kind of passionate base of supporters on either side of the aisle who might otherwise come loudly to her defense.  That‘s my theory.  Here now, Josh Green, wrote an article on Hillary for “GQ,” that her campaign reportedly got the magazine not to run.  MSNBC political analyst, Lawrence O‘Donnell and Republican strategist, Jack Burkeman.  All right.  Lawrence, you know, what do you think of that theory, that the media, maybe it‘s not personal for some of them, but that they just don‘t like the Clinton story.

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  You‘re right on all counts, Dan.  It‘s now a boring story for them.  You know, its 16 years old.  The excitement in New Hampshire would have been the end of this year.  That would have been a much more exciting story than Hillary squeaks by via three points.  That just wasn‘t an exciting story for the media.

ABRAMS:  But this is a big allegation, Lawrence, let‘s be clear.  I mean, I don‘t want to suggest that we‘re saying this lightly.  There are a lot of people that like to bash the media for everything, the media this, the media that.  And I‘m one of these people very often defending the media.  But seeing the way some of the prognosticators were declaring her campaign death before New Hampshire clicked something in me that made me ask myself would this have happened to another candidate in this kind of lead?

O‘DONNELL:  I think it would have if it was someone who had the

front-runner status of Hillary Clinton being knocked over by an insurgent

campaign -

ABRAMS:  They would have said her campaign is over, she‘s done, she‘s losing, she‘s finished?

O‘DONNELL:  Almost.  I think there was an extra edge to it that you‘re right about.  But the dynamics of the story would have been the same.  The king‘s being or the queen‘s being knocked over by the insurgent, that‘s a huge thing for the press.  Yes, there‘s an extra element that the press kind of wanted to see it happen.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let me play this.  This is again, just little examples of the days leading up to the New Hampshire primary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  People say, hey, wait a minute, the ice queen

is -

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  When you have a robot candidate and then, suddenly, she shows some humanity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  She isn‘t crying for the country.  She‘s crying for herself.  And I don‘t even believe it‘s genuine.  I think it‘s entirely calculated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Jack Burkeman, even as a Republican, you got to concede that the press doesn‘t like Hillary Clinton, could they, do they?

JACK BURKEMAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Dan, I think we are 179, we agree a lot of the times, we‘re 179 degrees apart tonight.  I think the press loves Hillary Clinton.  I would go so far as to say that even Murdoch wants her in the White House.  All of the media wants her because they can make money off her.  Nobody is better for ratings in the cable news than the Clintons.  But I would tell you this Dan, the questions are not so much what they ask Hillary Clinton, it‘s what they don‘t ask her.  I haven‘t heard any questions about Whitewater.

ABRAMS:  Come on.  But she has a problem, Jack.  Because, it‘s only like sort of like hacks in the ‘90s who are going back and want to talk about Whitewater again.  I mean, how much more can you investigate that sort of nonsense?  And that‘s the problem I think with the story here.  Let me show you this cover of “Newsweek” magazine: Barack Obama, look at that picture.  Our time for change has come.  You would never, ever, see a picture like this of Hillary Clinton.  Let me ask Josh Green on this, with a big, smiling face with a quote like and this is exactly the quote the campaign would want on a cover of a magazine.  Josh Green, what do you make of it?

JOSHUA GREEN, THE ATLANTIC:  And actually, Dan, I disagree.  I mean, I‘m not quite as far out on this one as Jack is, but you know, if Hillary Clinton gets elected, the first woman president, that‘s exactly the kind of cover you‘ll have on “Time” and “Newsweek” and every magazine you know, celebrating that fact.  The media moves with whatever the exciting news story is of the week.  Last week, it was the unexpected victory of a Barack Obama.  You know, this week, it‘s the unexpected victory of Hillary Clinton.

ABRAMS:  And Josh, you had an experience with the Clinton machine, right? (INAUDIBLE).  Tell me real quick Josh what happened.

GREEN:  I mean -

ABRAMS:  Wait a second, Jack (ph).

BURKEMAN:  We had quite a few experiences.   I did a long piece on it for “The Atlantic.”  You know I did find a long piece for “GQ,” which the campaign didn‘t like it and managed to get killed.  So, I sort of seen the good side and the bad side of the campaign.

ABRAMS:  All right, Lawrence O‘Donnell, I want to play this piece of sound we get from.  All right.  This is from the Democratic debate.  Listen to the question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MODERATOR:  What can you say to the voters of New Hampshire on this stage tonight who see your r’sum’ and like it but are hesitating on the likeability issue where they seem to like Barack Obama more?

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, that hurts my feelings.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Lawrence, to me there could not be a worse question for a candidate.  They like your resume, but they don‘t like you.  Well, you know what?  Anyone who they like their resume but don‘t like them ain‘t getting elected.

O‘DONNELL:  Well, she handled it beautifully, Dan.  But a lot of

people think though -

ABRAMS:  She did.  That‘s fine.  But I‘m talking about the press.

O‘DONNELL:  OK.  But a lot of people think they have, look, there are unintended consequences.  That question had an unintended consequences, that question clearly meant to make Senator Clinton uncomfortable.  She handled it with incredible grace and people warmed to her response to it.  And a lot of analysts think that the way the guys then responded you know, Edwards and Obama to what she had just said actually hurt them a little bit.  I‘m not sure how that played, but it‘s clearly didn‘t hurt her in New Hampshire.

ABRAMS:  Jack, let me give you a statistic.  I‘m going to give you a statistic here, right?  The Center for Media and Public Affairs did a study.  December 16 to January 7.  Their conclusion 61 percent of the coverage of Hillary was generally positive versus 83 percent for both John Edwards and Barack Obama.  That‘s from the evening news.  I mean, these are numbers now that are backing up my theory that for whatever reason, and I‘m not suggesting it‘s just an antipathy towards Hillary Clinton, it‘s also I think a sort of press bias that they‘re bored with the Hillary Clinton story.  Go ahead, Jack.

BURKEMAN:  The media may love Barack Obama for a whole lot of reasons, Dan.  I can tell when I was helping Rick Latio (ph) on the 2000. 

People at CBS News came right up to me and they said, you know, we‘re not

covering this race, the race isn‘t the story, Hillary Rodham Clinton is the

story.  I think the press in 2008, Dan began with that premise.  She is

their story.  She was the kick off story for this whole campaign.  The

other thing, is think about the kinds of things we‘re talking about.  They

don‘t ask her tough substantive questions.  When is the last time -

ABRAMS:  We don‘t ask anyone- come on, Jack.  I mean, the bottom line, you‘re going to tell me Barack Obama is getting asked tough substantive questions?

BURKEMAN:  No, but the press, I would agree with you in the sense that the press loves Barack Obama.  I think Obama, that the press loves him for affirmative action (ph) reasons.  I think the establishment media has wanted to advance a black candidate for president for many year and that‘s why he gets a lot of favorable coverage.  A lot of it is undue.

ABRAMS:  Josh, bring us behind the scenes a little bit.  I mean, what is it that the Clinton campaign does that makes the press so angry.  I mean, what are the sorts of things that happen that lead the media to have this kind of antipathy?

GREEN:  Well, yes, they‘re aggressive in their treatment and their handling of the press.   I mean, all campaigns to one degree or another will try to control press coverage and let you know when they‘re unhappy.  You know, Clinton staff does this to in order of magnitude, several orders of magnitude beyond what anybody else does.  You know, they oftentimes kind of treat the press the way a dog treats a fire hydrant, you know.  And that builds up.  And look, you know, so much of the coverage, Dan, even yours sort of implies that this is the media trying to get back at Hillary Clinton as though.  There‘s only action happening in one direction.  What you don‘t see on cameras, what you don‘t see printed in news papers is what‘s going on behind the scenes in the other direction.  I mean, there‘s a circular loop here - that explains this kind of coverage.

ABRAMS:  But in theory, the press shouldn‘t responding because they don‘t like someone or they don‘t like the way they were treated, right?

GREEN:  In theory, the press has some like broken (ph) like, you know, emotional detachment and you know.  But you know, in a perfect world, we‘d save the whales, we‘d help old ladies across the street.  That‘s not the way it works.  I mean, one of the reasons that Hillary‘s people are so mad about the coverage is because it really does have real world effects.

ABRAMS:  It‘s so bad; it‘s to the point where Rush Limbaugh is defending Hillary Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO COMMENTATOR:  The drive by media hit her much harder on the tears than I did.  They were really, I mean, some of the things they said were literally vicious and unkind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Lawrence, does that help her?

O‘DONNELL:  Dan, I have to tell you, that‘s typical Rush.  I actually listen to Rush‘s analysis and that‘s the first place I heard about the tears.  He was pretty tough on her.  Look, the thing is that reporters like Josh and others think that the staff has something to do with the candidate, that the staffs‘ behavior comes from the candidate.  That could be true.  I can tell you, I know Hillary Clinton as a person, I know her when I was working in the Senate and she was in the White House.  I like her as a person.   I think she‘s really bright and intelligent.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Hang on.  All right.

O‘DONNELL:  I have no buts.  Most reporters never get to see that person.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  I got to wrap it up.  Josh Green and Lawrence O‘Donnell, Jack Burkeman, sorry guys.  Thanks a lot.  Appreciate you coming on the program.

Coming up: John McCain says he wants a clean campaign.  But wait until you hear some of the things he‘s had to say in the past.  Clearly, he‘s not so clean himself.  We‘re On Their Trail.

And next: New details on search for a missing pregnant marine.  Court documents released today say claimed an officer at the marine base raped her.  And we know somebody used her debit card at an ATM after she was last seen.  We‘re going to talk to the sheriff who is leading the investigation.

Your emails, send it in Abrams@MSNBC.com.  Tell us we‘re doing right, wrong, agree, disagree.  Be sure to include your name and where you‘re writing from.  I‘m back in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Did you know that Marine Corps base camp in Lejune is home to more than 47,000 marines in silos (ph) around the world.  Coming up: A Camp Lejune marine, due to give birth any day now is missing.  She had said she was raped by a superior officer.  There are new developments tonight.  It is coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK0

ABRAMS:  We‘ve got breaking news tonight as the mystery deepens into what happened to a marine who is eight months pregnant.  Court documents out today say, Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach alleged she was raped by a senior officer.  And the investigation into that incident had quote, “Gone sour.”  She‘s not been seen since December 14th.  But in a sunning revelation, the sheriff leading the investigation suggested today that he thinks she‘ll be found alive.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ED BROWN, ONSLOW COUNTY, NC SHERIFF DEPT:  I want her to know that sometimes people do things.  If they could turn the clock back, they wouldn‘t do them the way they‘ve done them.  Regardless of if she‘s listening to this, regardless of the circumstances, this has got to stop.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  And he says not to read too much into that.  The sheriff also revealed that the marine‘s roommate believed to be the last person to speak to her has been ordered back to North Carolina for a training mission to undergo questioning.  Joining me now, Kelli O‘Hara from our NBC affiliate, WECT in Wilmington, North Carolina and former prosecutor, Monica Lindstrom.  All right.  Thanks to both of you.  Appreciate.  All right.  Kelli, we‘re going to talk to the sheriff later in this program.  But is he saying that they have evidence to believe do you think that she is alive and in hiding?

KELLI O‘HARA, WECT - TV -WILMINGTON, NC:  Well, yesterday, there was pretty ominous tone in the investigation.  The sheriff said he believed there was foul play.  But today, he‘s kind of on the fence with things.  However, the search warrants that we did obtained say that you know, there was talk about kidnapping because he said that he was concerned about a pregnant woman, especially pregnant woman who in her case, will go on going missing so close to her due date.  And she missed her prenatal appointment.  And he‘s not surprised that she would give up her access to healthcare. 

So, he said he‘s just on the fence and he‘s looking at all possibilities.  Yesterday, a lot more of a negative tone, today, a lot more of a positive tone.

ABRAMS:  Yes, and again, he keeps trying to suggest that he‘s in the middle here and he‘s not making judgments on one way or the other.  But, Monica, let me read to you from some of the search warrant documents, all right?  Let me start with number six here, that a debit card was used on December 24, 2007 by a white male who attempted to cover the ATM camera with a rag when he used the card to withdraw money.  I mean, that is a big piece of evidence.

MONICA LINDSTROM:  That‘s a huge piece of evidence.  And it goes

very much to the fact that there‘s foul play here.  There is something that

is wrong.  So, the investigators are looking at everything obviously to see

what happened.  Now, it could be that the investigator, when he was talking

yesterday, he sounded more negative and so, today, he came back to try to

sound positive to make it not seen as bad as it is.  But it‘s sounding

pretty bad, she‘s eight -

ABRAMS:  But I‘ll say this.  And Kelli, let me bring you in on this is that one of the search warrant applications was for Western Union information to try to determine whether anyone was financially supporting her.  So, it sounds like at least one of the theories here is that she‘s alive, that she may be in hiding and that someone supporting her.

O‘HARA:  That‘s correct.  They tried to obtain financial documents from all Western Union for the past month or so.  She has two ATM cards.  They say that her accounts have been compromised.  I mean, they‘re looking at all possibility out there.

ABRAMS:  And here‘s another element to this, Monica and this is about her mother, OK?  Her mother‘s been interviewed a few times.  And it‘s been interesting the language that she‘s used.  Here‘s one of the comments that her mother made.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARY LAUTERBACH, STEP-MOTHER OF MISSING WOMAN:  We suspect she‘s probably is bipolar and she has had a lot of struggles through the years.  She‘s been a real loaner, hasn‘t had a lot of friends.  But, one thing, she‘s very attached to home and she would call several times a day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Hey, Kelli, let me first go to you on that actually?  How does that fit in do you think to this investigation?

O‘HARA:  Well, in the affidavit that we read today, it said that NCIS had trouble with the allegations of rape and sexual assault.  That a lot of that has made because they said that there‘s some a lot of inconsistencies in the report.  And her mother said to the sheriff‘s department, she said to investigators about a week or two ago that her daughter has a history of compulsive lying and that she did also mentioned a bipolar disorder.

ABRAMS:  But that‘s kind of amazing, right?  I mean, there‘s a suggestion here, let me go to Monica.  There‘s a suggestion that she‘s faking it, right?  I mean, is that what we‘re talking about?

LINDSTROM:  That‘s clearly what it sounds like.  Maybe her mother, stepmother is suggesting, but this is another run away bride incident where she just takes off for whatever reason but on her own volition, she does it herself.  No one took her.  And so, when, her mother is saying t things like that, she‘s bipolar and a compulsive liar, that really brings that to mind.

ABRAMS:  Yes, I mean, you read the search document, it‘s according to the stepmother, she claims she‘d been raped by a senior officer to her command, the investigation has gone sour.  But the stepmother, in the sense, in the statements were not accurate.  The missing subject was bipolar.  The stepmother advised that her daughter has a history of being a compulsive liar and was difficult at times to know what was true in her case.  The stepmother was aware that she had been receiving some threats to her military career from the person accused of sexually assaulting her.  I mean, this is stunning stuff to come from a stepmother of someone who‘s missing.

LINDSTROM:  It‘s very surprising that a family member would say something like this.  It could force Maria not to want to come home.  Not only that but it shows even more shadows on what Maria‘s allegations are and what she‘s going through.  Stunning like you said.

ABRAMS:  Kelli O‘Hara, thank you so much.  Appreciate it.  Monica‘s going to stay with us.  We got a lot more to come on this case.  The sheriff leading the search is going to join us.  I have a lot of questions for him.

And: The teacher who pleaded guilty to having sex with her student back in court.  An overzealous prosecutor wants her back behind bars because Debra Lafave hugged a teenage co-worker.  I take him on for wasting the court‘s time.

Plus: One of FOX‘s own analyst concludes the network not so fair or balance after all.  And it seems to catch Bill O‘Reilly off guard completely.  Beat the Press is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s time for tonight‘s Beat the Press.

First up: You would think when FOX‘s Bill O‘Reilly interviews someone FOX is paying as a media analyst who conducted the study they‘re now trying to promote, that O‘Reilly wouldn‘t have such a tough time with the interview.  Let‘s just say the facts can be tricky.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O‘REILLY, TV HOST:  And here is a study by George Mason

University in Virginia examine TV news coverage -

ROBERT LICHTER, MEDIA ANALYST:   It wasn‘t George Mason, it was me at George Mason.

O‘REILLY:  And FOX News who is deemed to be the most fair, excellent.

LICHTER:  My evidence can‘t say whether you‘re fair.

O‘REILLY:  You did know 24/7 FOX News.  You did Hume‘s hour which is a political/news hour.

LICHTER:  Actually, we only do the first half of Hume.

O‘REILLY:  We did a rematch of this study, doctor.  The “Washington Post” missed it, you know.  Did you send all this release out to everybody?

LICHTER:  No, that‘s not true actually.  Howard Corks (ph), their media reporter did ran it.

O‘REILLY:  And FOX News stands out.  So, slogan exactly (ph)

LICHTER:  I found lots of times FOX was not balanced.

O‘REILLY:  I‘m sorry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  That‘s all right.  This is what they do.

Next up:  FOX‘s Sean Hannity, (INAUDIBLE) the governor of New Mexico, about his border.  How does Hannity know about it?  Well, he went down there to visit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, TV HOST:  Are you for the border fence?

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON, NEW MEXICO:  No.

HANNITY:  More border security?

RICHARDSON:  No.

HANNITY:  Why not?

RICHARDSON:  You know, Sean, it‘s not going to work.

HANNITY:  It will work.  You build a 12 foot fence.  You know what will happen next?  13 foot ladders.

RICHARDSON:  It‘s not going to work, Sean.

HANNITY:  I‘ve been down there.  I‘ve work there.   I‘ve been on patrol with the border agent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Sean has been down there and on patrol.  Bill Richardson, he‘s been the governor of New Mexico for over five years.  Come on.

Finally a viewer whom he identified himself as Jason sent this one in.  And it‘s about a talking head blow hard at this network who used the same phrase over and over and over again on Monday night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  And Britney Spears calls him up and says you know what?

Doctor, anybody could say, you know what?

Then they said you know what?

Because you know what?

All right, you know what?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  All right.  You know what Jason, I‘m going to continue saying it.  We need your help Beating the Press.  Go to our Web site:

Abram.msnbc.com.  Please include the show and the time you saw the item.

Coming up: More on the missing pregnant marine who we know alleged she was raped by a superior officer.  The sheriff investigating the case will join us.

And: Former Florida teacher, Debra Lafave back in court today.  The prosecutor wanted her back behind bars for hugging a co-worker.  He went after her today, I go after him.  Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MILISSA REHBERGER, UP TO THE MINUTE, ANCHOR:  I‘m Milissa Rehberger. Here‘s what‘s happening.  New Mexico governor, Bill Richardson dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nominations.  That follows his poor showings in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Powerful thunderstorms and possible tornados had hit Mississippi and Alabama today, causing damage and several injuries as well.  A rare tornado touched down in Vancouver Washington.  And famous adventurist, Sir Edmund Hillary has died at age 88.  In 1953, he became the first person to reach the summit of Mt. Everest.  Now back to Dan Abrams.

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, more on that pregnant Marine who is missing, who we now learn had accused a superior officer of raping her.  The sheriff investigating the case is going to join us. 

Plus, the phone companies pulled the plug on the FBI for failing to pay the bill.  Remember when Mike Huckabee made Stephen Colbert his running mate when he was about one percent in the polls?  Well, last night, they tried to resolve the issue.  Those stories are coming up in tonight‘s “Winners and Losers”. 

But first, former Florida teacher Deborah Lafave is back in court today, accused of violating her parole and facing a possibility of more jail time.  Last month, Lafave was, quote, “busted” for having non-work related conversations with a 17-year-old female coworker and faced up to 30 years for this vicious violation.

In 2004, then 23-year-old Lafave made headlines for having sex with a 14-year-old male student.  She pled guilty of lewd and lascivious behavior sentence to three years house arrest and seven years probation. 

Now, Lafave testified today and was grilled by a prosecutor Mike Sinacore which confirmed what I‘ve said all along - that this alleged probation violation is ridiculous and a huge waste of taxpayer money. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE SINACORE, PROSECUTOR:  Did you ever have any conversation with her where you discussed how she was doing in school? 

DEBRA LAFAVE, ACCUSED OF VIOLATING HER PAROLE:  That would probably be a topic of our group conversations.  Yes.

SINACORE:  Did you participate in the conversations - group conversations that included Samantha Diaz where personal matters were being discussed? 

LAFAVE:  I‘m sure I did.  Yes, sir.

SINACORE:  And the topics of these conversations - did they include her personal life at school? 

LAFAVE:  I think it was everybody just kind of talked all at once.  And if

you were at the table, you‘d leave and you‘d come back whenever you could

or - 

SINACORE:  And did you participate in conversations where sexual matters were discussed? 

LAFAVE:  Again, sir, to my recollection, it was in a group setting and I can‘t remember whether or not I spoke or didn‘t speak. 

SINACORE:  Do you recall sexual matters being discussed in a group setting where both you and Samantha Diaz were present? 

LAFAVE:  I would have to say probably a bunch of girls getting together at work. 

SINACORE:  It is recollection, however, that Samantha Diaz was participating in these group conversations where sex was discussed? 

LAFAVE:  What I can tell you is that, you know, sex was discussed at work.  And I cannot recall one specific incident where she was talking about sex in the group. 

SINACORE:  Now, the topic of sex, the topic of boyfriends, the topic of school regarding Samantha Diaz, were any of them essential to you performing your job duties at Danny Boy‘s? 

LAFAVE:  Talking about school essential?

SINACORE:  Participating in those conversations.  What that essential to you preforming your job at Danny Boy‘s?

LAFAVE:  No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)  

ABRAMS:  I mean - ridiculous.  In the end, the judge made the right ruling that the violation was, quote, “not willful and substantial.”  They did not sentence her to any more jail time or extend probation. 

Here again, former prosecutor Monica Lindstrom and defense attorney Anne Bremner.  All right, so Monica, tough cross-examination.  That prosecutor really went after her about what conversations that she had with a 17-year-old co-worker.  I mean, this guy, I think, turns this proceeding and wastes taxpayer money in a way that makes it seem like a joke. 

MONICA LINDSTROM, FMR. PROSECUTOR:  Dan, he did his job.  That‘s what he‘s supposed to do.  The condition of her probation was no contact with minors and that this wasn‘t supposed to happen.  It‘s not a hard thing for her to figure out.  She was a convicted sex offender for having lewd acts with a 14-year-old. 

ABRAMS:  When she‘s working at a restaurant and she‘s got a 17-year-old co-

worker -

LINDSTROM:  The condition applies. 

ABRAMS:  I understand.  But you‘re saying you think that maybe she should have gotten extended probation or jail time because she talked to her co-worker. 

LINDSTROM:  If we‘re going to have those conditions placed on her, when she violates them, she needs to be punished. 

ABRAMS:  Oh, come on.

LINDSTROM:  We need consistency here, Dan.  We can‘t say, “Here‘s your condition.  But it‘s OK.  You can violate it.”  That would be consistent.

ABRAMS:  In a minute, I‘m going to play the most ridiculous part of the cross-examination by the prosecutor.  But Anne Bremner, I want you to listen to Matt Lauer questioning Debra Lafave.  This is a couple of years - a year or so beforehand, talking about working at the very restaurant where this happened. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT LAUER, HOST, “TODAY” SHOW:  Part of the stipulations of your agreement that you made, you cannot go near schools, you can‘t really be near children, within, I think, 1000 feet, right? 

LAFAVE:  I work at a restaurant, so it‘s impossible for me to dodge every child that comes in the door.  But, I do not serve them and I do not make eye contact with them. 

LAUER:  So in other words, if a family comes into your section in the restaurant and there are young kids, which probably happens all the time, you don‘t wait on that table? 

LAFAVE:  No.  All the hostesses know that I can‘t wait on children.  Or, I

don‘t know if it‘s I can‘t wait on children, I choose not to.  And they

know not to seat them in my section.‘

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Anne Bremner, harsh.  She spoke to a 17-year-old and she may have hugged her at one point. 

BREMNER:  Oh, my gosh!  Horrible.  I mean, this is like from the sublime to the ridiculous, Dan.  You are right on much about nothing.  And it was girl talk.  And it‘s almost a crime to see the cross-examination of Debra Lafave in that courtroom.  Ridiculous.

ABRAMS:  This is my favorite part - this is my favorite part of the cross-examination.  This is the prosecutor, again grilling Debra Lafave about the contact she had with a 17-year-old co-worker. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SINACORE:  Did you ever have physical contact with Samantha Diaz?  Of any type? 

LAFAVE:  Can you elaborate physical? 

SINACORE:  Handshakes?  Hugging?

LAFAVE:  Handshakes and hugs.  We were close and people would cry.  And people would, you know, have bad experiences with customers.  So I‘m sure. 

SINACORE:  So you acknowledge you had physical contact with Samantha Diaz as well, correct? 

LAFAVE:  Innocently.  Yes, sir.

SINACORE:  But you did have physical contact with her.  You hugged her, correct? 

LAFAVE:  Yes, sir. 

SINACORE:  Miss Beasely, did it not occur to you that having physical contact with someone who you knew was a minor was a clear violation of the conditions of your supervision? 

LAFAVE:  Yes, sir. 

SINACORE:  Then why did you do it? 

LAFAVE:  Just in a casual setting like that, in a group setting, they were like my family.  You know, sometimes, it was my good nature, you know, to give somebody - anybody, not just her - a hug, you know.  Sometimes that‘s just the way it worked.  I was there for two years. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Monica, this is a “Saturday Night Live” skit.  I mean, this is absurd!  “Do you acknowledge you had physical contact by hugging, do you not?  Yes, I do.”  I mean, this is nuts!

LINDSTROM:  Dan, he was doing his job.  And what kind of message does this send?  You can violate the terms of probation and don‘t worry, you‘re not getting punished. 

ABRAMS:  This prosecutor is for some reason upset that she cut a deal.  And I don‘t know if she cut it with him or not, but she cut a deal where she didn‘t get any jail time.  And now he‘s saying, “Aha!  She hugged a 17-year-old she worked with.” 

LINDSTROM:  She violated her terms of probation. 

ABRAMS:  We got her!

LINDSTROM:  She violated it.  Bottom line. 

ABRAMS:  And I wanted to respond and then I‘m going to play another bite of the absurdity today. 

BREMNER:  I mean, it looks like he‘d say one final question, “Did you ever discuss the shelf life of mascara together in the ladies room?”  I mean it is that ridiculous.

ABRAMS:  Oh, no, no.  It almost - well, they didn‘t discuss mascara.  But here‘s another piece of the prosecutor‘s tough cross-examination of Debra Lafave today in court, trying to prove she violated her probation. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SINACORE:  The conversations would include each individual‘s personal life, correct? 

LAFAVE:  Probably. 

SINACORE:  That would mean it would include her personal life, as well as your personal life, right? 

LAFAVE:  Yes.  If I did talk about it, yes, sir.

SINACORE:  And in these group conversations, did you discuss - did each individual discuss their boyfriends? 

LAFAVE:  Some were single, some weren‘t.  And I don‘t discuss my personal life. 

SINACORE:  So you did not specifically mention your boyfriend?

LAFAVE:  No, sir. 

SINACORE:  Did you participate in conversations where Samantha Diaz discussed her boyfriend? 

LAFAVE:  Participate?  I might have been in the group, but not to my recollection. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  You know, Anne, this seems like the prelude to like a bad porno

movie.  I mean, honestly, it‘s like the dialogue here is so absurd about -  

BREMNER:  I‘m kind of wondering as I was listening to him is this something he wants to know and put the show on to ask because he had the right stage? 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  I mean it‘s -

LINDSTROM:  Come on. 

ABRAMS:  Monica, as you listen to it - I know you came into this thinking, “OK.  You know what?  He‘s doing his job.”  But if you listen to this, can‘t you understand why this seems kind of crazy that she worked at a restaurant with a 17-year-old.  She talked to her about boyfriends and hugged her once and shook her hand and as a result, she shouldn‘t go to jail. 

LINDSTROM:  What is he supposed to do?  What is he supposed to ask her? 

Those are the exact questions that meet those elements.

ABRAMS:  He‘s not.  He‘s not.  He‘s supposed to call the lawyer and say,

“Look, pal.  Here, we‘re hearing from the probation office that there‘s a

17-year-old that works there.  Make sure she doesn‘t have any contact with

the 17-year-old.  Make sure she doesn‘t talk to her.  Because if it

continues, I don‘t know what‘s going to happen.”  And then they stop.  I

mean, it sounds like she‘s bent over backwards -

LINDSTROM:  Maybe they did.

ABRAMS:  To try and abide by the rules here.

LINDSTROM:  Well, that‘s exactly what he‘s doing.  And she‘s not abiding by the rules.  She shouldn‘t have been punished.

ABRAMS:  Save Debra Lafave.  Save Debra Lafave.  Anyway, the judge made the right call here.  I applaud him on it.  So Monica Lindstrom, Anne Bremner, thanks a lot.

ABRAMS:  Up next, more on that Marine due to give birth any day now who went missing from her base after accusing a senior officer of raping her.  Police now suggesting that may be alive, even though she‘s been gone for almost a month.  The sheriff investigating the case joins us up next. 

And later, back when GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was getting a - I don‘t know - percent in the polls, he told Stephen Colbert to join him on the ticket.  Where the deal stands now.  Coming up in tonight‘s “Winners and Losers.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ED BROWN, SHERIFF INVESTIGATING THE CASE OF THE MISSING PREGNANT MARINE: 

Still a missing person.  But you investigate a missing person just like you would investigate a criminal investigation, and that is full speed ahead. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Sheriff Ed Brown who is leading the investigation of the pregnant marine, Maria Lauterbach.  To recap the latest developments, the lance corporal claimed a senior officer had raped her.  Her former roommate is being called back in a training mission to be questioned.  An unidentified man tried to use her ATM card 10 days after she was last seen on December the 14th

Joining me now is Sheriff Ed Brown on the phone from North Carolina is Sheriff Ed Brown.  Sheriff, thanks a lot for taking the time.  We appreciate it.  It sounds from the press conference like you were really holding out hope that she‘s alive. 

BROWN:  No, that‘s the wrong perception.  My remarks have and has always been that with the investigation where it is at now, I‘m not resolved.  I‘m resolved to the fact that it could go either way.  I‘ve always stood in the middle of the road.  If you can‘t prove something, don‘t hang your integrity on it.  And right now, I wouldn‘t hang my integrity on either direction of this case.

ABRAMS:  Court records show that there was a subpoena for Western Union that may suggest someone is financially supporting her at this time.  Can you talk about that? 

BROWN:  I can‘t discuss that except that you‘re right, there‘s been a subpoena for the records of the Western Union transactions. 

ABRAMS:  You had previously said or at least suggested that you thought that foul play was involved.  Has that changed over time? 

BROWN:  Sir, I never said I thought foul play was involved.  I said I thought it some suspicious circumstances.  And I still feel the same way that from the very beginning, there‘s some suspicious circumstances that impelled us to ask for assistance from the media to try to develop information that folks and witnesses that could be out there that we need to talk to. 

But I still and I have always took the position that this investigation - if you don‘t have answers, you don‘t step out and you start making guesses and you don‘t step and start making statements.  So, what we‘re saying right now, we‘re standing in the middle of the road as far as the investigation goes. 

ABRAMS:  Can you tell me whether the allegation of the rape on the part of the superior officer, and again, this is in court records, it hasn‘t been verified, it‘s just an allegation that‘s repeated that is in the court records.  How is that playing into your investigation? 

BROWN:  Sir, we‘re investigating a missing civilian from the outside in our community.  What has taken place on the base concerning the military, that‘s military. 

ABRAMS:  Sherrif Ed Brown, thank you very much for taking the time.  We really appreciate it.  Good luck.

BROWN:  And good day, Sir.

ABRAMS:  Of course the question remains how can those two not be connected?  Joining me now is Tim Susann, former federal prosecutor and former Navy lawyer, and Tre Benson, a reporter for Blue Line Radio in North Carolina covering the case.  Thanks to both of you very much.  I appreciate it. 

Tim - all right.  So you hear the sheriff there saying what happened on the base is a separate issue.  But ow can it be a separate issue?  She‘s alleging that she was raped, and she‘s now missing and she‘s pregnant.  You can‘t separate those two things. 

TIM SUSANN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR AND FORMER NAVY LAWYER:  That‘s right.  I can only conclude from that, Dan, since the rape cases, those “he-said she-said” gets so messy that he wants he no part of it.  He‘s interesting because he‘s back pedaling or pushing back from that part of the investigation which is, as you say, is necessarily linked. 

But the piece of the interview that you just conducted where he basically says, “Look, I‘m not going to be out there talking about the case,” really directly contradicts some of his recent comments that, “An answer is near, I think there‘s going to be a positive outcome.  We‘re flying the roommate back because he has answers.”  This guy would have been better off just to keep his mouth shut and not give press conferences and do the investigation and get back when we‘ve got the facts. 

ABRAMS:  Tre, what do we know about the roommate that‘s going to be questioned now?  Is this someone she was involved with romantically? 

TRE BENSON, REPORTER, BLUE LINE RADIO:  There‘s no official word on that.  I‘ve heard he has lent a helping hand to her.  Apparently, something happened that sort of left her stranded and he took her in.  She has been sort of bedridden because of the pregnancy lately.  And he‘s just been a big help to her. 

ABRAMS:  Tim, this is according to the search warrant documents.  According to the stepmother, she claims,  “She‘s been raped by a senior officer at her command and that the investigation had sour, but the stepmother had a sense that the statements were not accurate.  I mean that‘s bizarre.  How does that fit in?

SUSANN:  It‘s perfect for this case because what makes it so interesting is we have several possible explanations, some play into kidnapping, others play into voluntary flight on her part, and that statement‘s a great example. 

If she had made a claim against someone who was then threatening her, you have a potential suspect for someone who might have kidnapped her.  At the same time, you have a stepmother coming forward saying she‘s a compulsive liar.  She‘s bipolar, undermining the credibility of those statements which go the other way and gives her almost a theory to take off.  If that investigation went sour and she‘s being investigated for false statements, she‘s got a reason to want to leave town. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Tim Susann and Tre Benson, we‘re going to stay on top of this case.  Thanks a lot for coming on. 

SUSANN:  Thanks, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  Up next, “Winners and Losers”.  Former CBS newsman Dan Rather suing his former employer wins a big court battle.  American TV pioneer, Merv Griffin keeps his sense of humor from the grave.  And John Kerry disses his former running mate. 

Dan Rather who wins round one; Merv Griffin who‘s still having fun; or John Kerry whose support of Edwards is done.  Which is will be tonight‘s big winner or loser?

(MUSIC)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s time for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers” on this 10th day of January, 2008.  Our bronze winner - former CBS newsman Dan Rather.  The litigious anchor just won a major court battle with his former employer, with the judge ruling his lawsuit against CBS can go forward.  That means the network has to now produce documents and offer up witnesses.  Rather suing CBS for $70 million saying they trashed his reputation to quote, “pacify the White House.” 

Our silver winner - American TV pioneer Merv Griffin.  The iconic game show creator died back in August, but managed to keep his sense of humor from the grave.  The Web site “findagrave.com” tracked down the TV titan‘s tombstone in California, which reads, “I will not be right back after this message.”

But the big winner of the day, vice presidential candidate Stephen Colbert.  Yes, the comedian accepted Mike Huckabee‘s offer to join him on the ticket last year when Huckabee was at about one percent in the polls.  But now that he‘s a leading candidate, Colbert offered to let him off the hook.  Sort of.

STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN:  I‘m going to give you this opportunity to get out of it with honor, just ask me one more time, I‘ll say no and then, you know, you can pick somebody else.  Go ahead.

FMR GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE (R-AR), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Stephen, please, be my running mate. 

COLBERT:  Yes.  Yes, a thousand times yes.  I‘ve got my hopes in you, Mister.  I‘ll see you on the altar. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  On the loser‘s front.  Our bronze loser - Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards.  The White House hopeful snubbed today by his 2004 White House running mate John Kerry.  He passed over his VP pick and endorsed one of Edward‘s his rival. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KERRY, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Barack Obama can be, will be and should be the next president of the United States. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  But being snubbed by the previous Democratic nominee may not be so bad.  In the past, Howard Dean who was endorsed by Al Gore just days before the Iowa caucus. 

Our silver loser, GOP presidential candidate John McCain.  During a campaign stop in Michigan, the suddenly surging senator took a swipe at his opponents promising to clean up the campaign trail and treat his colleague with respect.  The problem, his record hasn‘t matched his new rhetoric. 

The straight talker once erupted at a fellow Republican senator saying, “Only a n a-hole would put together a budget like this.”  Following that up with, “I wouldn‘t call you an a-hole unless you really were an a-hole.”  A year later, another senator asked McCain, “Are you calling me stupid?”  To which he replied, “No, I‘m calling you an f-ing jerk.”

But the loser at day?  The FBI.  Their ability to eavesdrop on suspected criminals taken away.  Civil rights concerns?  Privacy issues?  ISA(ph) court rulings?  No, no, no.  They failed to pay their phone bills. 

Phone companies pulled the plug on the FBI‘s wiretaps after discovering almost 500 phone bills that went unpaid.  One office alone racking up $66,000 in unpaid bills. 

Unbelievable.  Time for your e-mails.  First up, Nick Ladendorf from Chicago, Illinois.  “Your apparent outrage over the media‘s premature verdict on the Clinton candidacy by the D.C. media has no perspective.  Until I see you giving more coverage of Ron Paul and even Kucinich and Gravel, you‘re just a hypocrite.”

Well, I‘d argue Paul has gotten plenty of coverage considering how he‘s done so far and where he stands in the polls.  But you apparently missed my point - that it was ridiculous for some to declare a leading candidate‘s campaign, like Clinton, effectively over because of one caucus and polls in one state.  They were wrong.  Getting it right doesn‘t make me a hypocrite. 

Drew Rocha from Apache Junction, Arizona, “Thank you so much for finally speaking out against the political media which is driven by the polls and are always trying to write some narrative on how they see things.  Please continue your coverage and keep these insiders in check.”  Will do. 

LeeLa Coleman from Portland, Oregon, “Thanks for giving the media a kick in the bum for their biased coverage of the lead-up to the New Hampshire primary election.”

Finally, John Dexter writes, “You listed Mike Gravel as a loser for saying marijuana is better to you than alcohol while speaking to some New Hampshire school kids.  My question is exactly how that makes him a loser?”

John, because when you‘re run for president, you compare for students, illegally drinking alcohol versus illegally smoking marijuana?  It just didn‘t seem like a smart move.  But look, I‘m no political insider.  We want your ideas for what our new E-mail segment should be called.  We‘re thinking, “Is Dan dumb?”  I don‘t know.  There is the Web site - Abrams@MSNBC.com.  If we pick it, you get free swag and my on-air appreciation.  See you tomorrow.

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

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2007 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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