updated 4/24/2008 11:00:09 AM ET 2008-04-24T15:00:09

Guests: Norah O‘Donnell, Roy Sekoff

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Tonight: True or False?  Hillary‘s win last night actually changed the tide of this race.

We‘re On Their Trail answering true or false to a series of claims made today about the Pennsylvania primary.

Our panel: MSNBC‘S Norah O‘Donnell, Pat Buchanan, and the Huffington Post‘s Roy Sekoff.

And: Many in the media are now bashing Clinton, seemingly because she won.  Shouldn‘t they say what they mean?  They think she should get out now.

Plus: A woman convicted of poisoning her marine husband is freed.  It now seems the only evidence against her was that she slept with her dead husband‘s friend.  She joins me live tonight.

VERDICT starts now.

But first: Shocker - both Clinton and Obama are claiming victory tonight after last night‘s crucial Pennsylvania primary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  It was a tremendous boost to, you know, my campaign and my argument that I‘m the stronger candidate against Senator McCain in the fall.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  There were a lot of folks who didn‘t think we could make this a race when it started.  They thought we were going to be blown out.  But we worked hard and we traveled across the state to big cities and small towns to factories and VFW halls, and now six weeks later, we closed the gap.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  The question tonight: How big a win was it really for Clinton?  How bad a loss was it for Obama?

We‘re taking their statements from today, exit polls, and the results and have narrowed it down to the key questions coming out of last night‘s results in a special True or False edition of On Their Trail.

Here now: MSNBC political analyst, Pat Buchanan; MSNBC chief Washington correspondent, Norah O‘Donnell; and, founding editor of the Huffington Post, Roy Sekoff.

All right.  First up: True or false?  The tide is turning in Hillary Clinton‘s favor.  That‘s what she said today, and now arguing the popular vote is on her side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON:  You know, more people have now voted for me than have voted for my opponent.  In fact, I now have more votes than anybody has ever had in a primary contest for a nomination.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Of course, that math only works if you count the disqualified states of Florida and Michigan.  And in Michigan, Obama‘s name wasn‘t on the ballot.  But the superdelegates may hear it and that‘s what she told voters across the country last night after winning by more than 200,000 votes in Pennsylvania.  It also adds yet another big state win for Clinton.

So, true or false, Norah O‘Donnell, the tide is turning for Clinton?

NORAH O‘DONNELL, MSNBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT:  I think it is true that she‘s gained some momentum in her campaign announcing today, that they believe that they‘re going to raise some $10 million online in 24 hours.  That would shatter all records, even Obama style records.  She does have some momentum.  She can keep going in this campaign and she did have a decisive win in Pennsylvania among women, white working class, older Americans.

And so, she can take that to some superdelegates and say, “I‘m sticking in this race, I am a fighter.”

ABRAMS:  Roy Sekoff, true or false.

ROY SEKOFF, THE HUFFINGTON POST:  Dan, that would have to be false.  You know, it‘s going to take a lot more than a turning tide.  It‘s going to take an asteroid falling out of the sky and landing on Barack Obama.  I mean, that‘s where were at right now and it think that‘s what Hillary Clinton is staying in the game for.  She‘s hoping to use the word of the day that he obliterates himself with some mistake.

But he‘s already weathered quite a few storms with Wright, and you know, Ayers, and the lapel pin and “bitter.”  So, I think, she‘s hanging in there waiting for him to step on a land mine but I just don‘t thing it‘s going to happen.

ABRAMS:  Pat Buchanan, true or false, the tide is turned?

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  I agree with both guests.  I think the tide has turned in Hillary‘s favor.  The tide is rolling up to the seawall.  It is not strong enough to go over the seawall right now.  But Obama is whistling past the graveyard if he thinks he won a nice victory last night.  He got beat worst than Dukakis did nationally.

And I do agree, you need a game-changer still for Hillary to win this.  But she‘s got the right to make the argument if she has gotten a majority of popular votes to make the case.  I don‘t know.

SEKOFF:  She hasn‘t gotten the popular votes, right, Dan?

ABRAMS:  Sorry?

SEKOFF:  I mean, that‘s only if you count Florida and you count Michigan and you don‘t give Obama the votes that went against Hillary in Michigan.

ABRAMS:  I mean, come on.  Let‘s be honest here, let‘s be honest.  Pat, no superdelegate is going to count Michigan on the Hillary count since Obama wasn‘t on the ballot, right?

BUCHANAN:  Well, that‘s right.  We‘re waiting for Puerto Rico.

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAMS:  I mean, come on.  Look, I want to get to the next true or false issue but I‘m going to say, I do not think this turned this - I think this is a decisive win for Clinton, a decisive win, but I don‘t think that it changes the tide in my view.

So, I think we‘ve kind of got a tie on this issue with regard to the entire panel.  But I‘m calling that one false.

Next up: True or false?  The fight is badly wounded Obama for the general election.

One of the most surprising exit polls out of Pennsylvania shows 26 percent of Clinton‘s voters would vote for John McCain over Obama and 17 percent of them wouldn‘t vote at all if Obama was the nominee.  And the latest ABC News/”Washington Post” Poll shows Obama‘s unfavorable rating is up.  Back in January, 30 percent viewed him unfavorably, that number is now up to 39 percent.

So, Pat, true or false, the Pennsylvania fight is severely wounded Obama?

BUCHANAN:  It has wounded Obama.  I don‘t know how severely.  A lot of these people say angry things when their two candidates are fighting each other like they did Romney and McCain.  But just as Republicans are coming together, Democrats are going to start coming together when they got a nominee.

The question is: How heavy is the resistance to Obama in states like Pennsylvania?  The numbers are pretty ugly for him right now.  I don‘t know what they‘ll look like at the convention if he‘s nominated.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Roy, true or false, Pennsylvania wounded Obama?

SEKOFF:  It wounded him, but it didn‘t wound him that bad.  So, that would be a false one, Dan.  You see, like Pat said, everybody in the heat of the moment, remember Rush Limbaugh wasn‘t going to vote for John McCain, now, he‘s falling into line.  You know, I think, the thing is, it‘s proven that Barack Obama has difficulty attracting certain voters in a head to head contest with Hillary.  But that has have nothing to do with what happens once he starts running against John McCain when there‘s real policy differences as opposed to with him and Hillary where it‘s just this personal things.

ABRAMS:  Norah, true or false?

O‘DONNELL:  Dan, it‘s not a mortal wound.  We have seen Barack Obama do well among white working class voters, for instance in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania just happened to be a tailor-made state for Clinton.  It doesn‘t suggest there‘s a trend by any stretch.

And the reason she won so handily among white women, two to one is in part because of the composite age of those women was much older than in other states, when that age is younger among women, he can win white women.  He‘s done it past states.  Indiana, a state coming up, happens to be a much younger state.

ABRAMS:  Yes, we‘re talking this—the wounding, I mean, both of them are claiming that they are the one who can beat McCain.  And yet, when you look at the latest “Newsweek” Poll, Obama‘s up by over McCain by four points, Clinton is over McCain by four points.  I mean, do either really—

Norah, does either one really have the sort of the right to say, “It is clear, I‘m the one who can better beat John McCain?

O‘DONNELL:  No.  It‘s not clear based on the polls that one would be more electable than the other.  And actually, from the exit polls last night, we actually saw that some people who voted for Clinton actually thought Obama would become the eventual nominee.  When it comes to electability some of the national polls, the “Washington Post”/ABC Poll, for example, people think Obama would be better to beat McCain?

ABRAMS:  Pat?

BUCHANAN:  Dan, I disagree for this reason.  Hillary has won Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida—all four crucial states.  She‘s much stronger than Obama in those four states.  Secondly, McCain can win Hillary‘s votes if she falls out and he‘ll get some of them.  He can‘t win any of Obama‘s votes.

So, I think, Hillary, in my judgment, as of now becomes the somewhat stronger candidate if she can come out of a united convention.

ABRAMS:  Roy, I‘ve got to believe that hearing Pat say that she won Michigan gets your blood boiling.

SEKOFF:  Yes, it‘s insane.  It‘s absolutely insane.

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAMS:  Yes.

SEKOFF:  Well, yes.  You know, neither of the above did very well there, too, you know.  But I think, the thing is Obama can make them competitive in places like Colorado and North Carolina.  So, I think that tilts the balance in his favor.

BUCHANAN:  And he‘s got to win North Carolina.  (INAUDIBLE).

ABRAMS:  We‘ll talk about that later.

It seems like everyone is a little nuance on this one.  It seems like we all agree that, yes, he was wounded, no it was not a mortal wound.  Yes, this was a tough campaign.

So, I‘m going to say it‘s true, that there was, you know, that he was hurt.  But this is - when we say wounded.  That was the question.  But it‘s not so wounded he can‘t beat McCain.  No, that‘s not true.

So—all right.  No, I don‘t think anyone thinks that the wound was so great that suddenly the whole general election has been changed.

Up next:  True or false?  This race isn‘t really a race at all.  It‘s the media extending the battle because they won a horserace.  Here‘s how Chris Matthews summed it up during our coverage last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  I think in the effort of the media to try to keep this game going, we‘ve created the delusion that somehow this race is still open.  This contest is essentially over.  Barack Obama is going to win the most elected delegates.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Norah, true?

O‘DONNELL:  No, I don‘t think that the media has created this.  You have to remember that Hillary Clinton has won the large number of states, including Ohio and Pennsylvania.  She has collected nearly $200 million in donations.  Barack Obama, it‘s $240 million.  She‘s the former first lady of the United States and she has a bulk of supporters behind her.  That‘s not the media creating that support to her candidacy.  There is a genuine race.

ABRAMS:  Roy?

SEKOFF:  Yes.  You know, of course the media, I wouldn‘t say that they‘re creating it but they‘re certainly gaudily exploiting it, you know.  I think the thing everybody was talking about last night in the follow-up the Pennsylvania result was: Where‘s the best place to get a drink in Indianapolis and Chapel Hill?

ABRAMS:  Yes, Pat, all right.  Look, the bottom line is, you know, I‘ve been critical of the media in the context of the coverage of this but I don‘t think the media is trying to extend this just because it‘s fun to cover it.

BUCHANAN:   No.  This race is continuing because Hillary Clinton would not quit after 11 straight defeats in February, came back and beats the guy in Texas, beats him in Ohio, beats him in Pennsylvania.  She‘s the thing that‘s keeping this race going, her refusal to quit.

And is it a great race?  Sure, it is.  It really is.

O‘DONNELL:  And do we in the media love watching it and covering it? 

Absolutely.  As do the American people.

SEKOFF:  We‘ve got nothing against Hillary but we are very much against slow news days.

ABRAMS:  Yes, well—all right.  So, I‘m going to call that one false, the media has not extend the battle just for the sake of, you know, enjoyment or whatever it is.

Everyone is going to stay with us, because coming up, Clinton clearly did well in Pennsylvania, yet she went negative.

And now: True or false?  Obama now has to ramp up his negative campaigning to steal the deal.

And many in the media are bashing Clinton because she won.  Why don‘t they just come out and say what they really mean?  They think Clinton should drop out of the race.

Plus: a Justice Department official who got an award from Alberto Gonzales for fighting corruption pleads guilty to—you guessed it.  Why America Hates Washington is up in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Tonight‘s edition of Why America Hates Washington: More sleaze at the Bush Justice Department.  This time, it involves a former top Justice Department official who once got an award from former AG Alberto Gonzales for fighting corruption.  Robert Coughlin who worked in the criminal division admits he received thousands of dollars in meals and concert and sporting event tickets from a key member of jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff‘s team, in exchange, Coughlin now admits he leaked information and pushed colleagues at the department to help out Abramoff‘s friends.

A corrupt DOJ official awarded for cracking down on corruption:

another reason Why America Hates Washington.

We‘re back with more of our special True or False edition result of the Pennsylvania primary coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re back with our special True or False edition of On Their Trail coming out of the Pennsylvania primary.

I‘ve got Norah O‘Donnell, Pat Buchanan, and Roy Sekoff with me.

Next up: Clinton won Pennsylvania last night.  But if she loses Indiana and North Carolina on May 6th, she will drop out, true or false?  Obama is leading North Carolina by an average of 15 points.  If he takes Indiana too or it‘s close, he will eliminate Clinton‘s Pennsylvania win and gain moment.  True or false - he‘ll be able - he‘ll be making it impossible for her to catch up, Clinton drops out if she loses Indiana too, true or false, Pat Buchanan?

BUCHANAN:  I don‘t think she‘ll drop out but I do agree the momentum would have shifted to Obama and it would become impossible for her to beat him in pledged delegates and she will be then looking for, hopefully, to getting the popular vote.  And again, some big turnover event which none of us see right now but we have seen Reverend Wright and the “bitter” comment.

You need a couple of things like that to turn it around.  But I wouldn‘t bet on it, Dan.  If he wins both of those, I think, people are going to start leaving the grandstand.

ABRAMS:  Right.  But the question, Norah, I mean, has any reporting indicated, any hints from inside the Clinton camp, as to whether they will actually say, you know what—they don‘t want to talk about that idea yet but if they‘ll lose Indiana, they‘re out?

O‘DONNELL:  Yes, James Carville has said that publicly - she‘s got to win Indiana and I think there‘s a feeling within the Clinton campaign that Indiana is do or die.  I mean, they need it in that state.  It is very, very close right now.  It‘s, of course, that next door state to Illinois—

Barack Obama‘s home state—she‘s got to do well.  She has the support of Senator Evan Bayh, a very popular senator there, she‘s got to win Indiana or it‘s over.

ABRAMS:  Roy, nothing we‘ve seen is that controversial.  What are you shaking your head about?

SEKOFF:  She‘s not dropping out, Dan.  I mean, it‘s next to impossible for her to win now.  So, suddenly, if it goes from next to impossible to write (ph) very much - closer to impossible she‘s going to drop out.  She‘s not dropping out.

ABRAMS:  Wait.  Roy, how do you know?  I mean, she loses Indiana, Roy, doesn‘t she lose the argument to the superdelegates—you‘re basically, you‘re taking the position that she‘s sort of a suicide bomber, she‘s going on this until the end?

SEKOFF:  Scorched earth, Dan.  That‘s how I see it.

ABRAMS:  Oh, come on.  No matter what?

SEKOFF:  No, really.  I just don‘t see her - I think, why not now?  If you look at the numbers that you‘re.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Why not now because she won last night by 10 points.

SEKOFF:  Exactly.  She won by 10 points and she‘s still behind.  She‘s still behind.

BUCHANAN:  She got four more months to be.

ABRAMS:  Go ahead, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  She got four more months of the nomination.  You have May, June, July, and August.  All kinds of things can happen.  That‘s as long as a campaign has gone on to date.  Look, what happened to Pennsylvania.

O‘DONNELL:  The problem with that analysis, that she was able to—with Pennsylvania win, she was able to raise another $10 million.  She needs about $1 million a day to fund her campaign which is already in the red.  We‘ve got two weeks to go until Indiana and North Carolina, on May 6th.   If she doesn‘t win either of those states, the money will dry up and there‘ll be nowhere else for her to go.

BUCHANAN:  Sure.  But look, if the money dries up, it dried up and he outspent in all three of the states she just beat him.

O‘DONNELL:  No, it didn‘t dry up, she was spending heavily.  She was in the red but it didn‘t dry up.

BUCHANAN:   But, Norah, Ronald Reagan‘s money dried up, he went to the convention, he didn‘t quit until the nomination was held, why shouldn‘t she?

SEKOFF:  Pat, we‘ve seen the tax returns, there‘s money.  They can give themselves another loan.  She‘s not dropping out.

ABRAMS:  All right.  I am - so, it sounds, so let‘s me just get this clear.  On the true or false question, of whether she will drop out if she loses Indiana, Pat, true or false she‘ll drop out, if she loses?

BUCHANAN:  No.

ABRAMS:  You say false.

BUCHANAN:  False, she won‘t.

ABRAMS:  Norah?

O‘DONNELL:  I say true, but why do I feel like this tape is going to be replayed back to me in two weeks?

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAMS:  Yes, by me.  Go ahead, Roy.  True or false?

SEKOFF:  That‘s a false from me, Dan.

ABRAMS:  I say true.  I think if she loses Indiana.

O‘DONNELL:  You agree with me.

ABRAMS:  I do.  I think if she loses Indiana and North Carolina particularly if she loses North Carolina big as expected and she loses Indiana, I‘m guessing that she would pull out.

All right.  Our final issue, true or false: Pennsylvania proves that if Obama wants to win going forward, he needs to go negative.  Exit poll from last night reveals 67 percent of voters thought Hillary Clinton unfairly attack Obama and she still won by a lot.  Fifty percent thought Obama labeled unfair attacks.  True or false?  Obama needs to go negative, Pat?

BUCHANAN:  I say no.  I think he‘s on course to win this thing and I think if he goes negative, he‘s going to damage the brand Obama for the general.  So, I would - I mean, I know he‘s getting advice to do it and I would consider it.  But right now, I would come down on the side of don‘t go negative on Hillary, go negative on McCain.

ABRAMS:  Norah?

O‘DONNELL:  Good Ole‘ Pat Buchanan.  I mean, there‘s already been an argument inside the Obama campaign about whether they should take on her and her husband on more forcefully.  The forces that want Obama to continue his message of change is trying to stay above it because winning at this, I don‘t think that he wants to go negative.  They will try and win this because they believe they are still ahead without getting down and dirty.

ABRAMS:  Roy? 

SEKOFF:  Dan, he doesn‘t have to go negative, but he has to go stronger and smarter.  Just think about it, Hillary‘s message is vote for me or Osama bin Laden, I will protect you from Osama bin Laden, right?

His message is: Vote for me and I‘ll protect you from the special interests in Washington.  Osama bin Laden, special interest—I don‘t think that‘s a strong enough argument that he needs to make.

ABRAMS:  But isn‘t the fundamental point right now in the primary, he doesn‘t need to go negative.  I mean, he may have lost the Pennsylvania primary but he‘s up in Indiana by a little, he‘s up in North Carolina by a lot.  What‘s the reason - I mean, you go negative if you need to.

Go ahead, Norah.  I‘ll give you final word.

O‘DONNELL:  Dan, you‘re absolutely right.  She would have to win 70 percent of the pledged delegates in all of the nine remaining contests in order to win that.  She would have to outperform him in states like Oregon that he‘s going to well and North Carolina in order to win the popular vote.  Even, you know, throwing in Michigan, he‘s going to do well.

So, he‘s just got to stay steady and try and win this thing squeak by with a numbers.

ABRAMS:  We‘re going to go with a false on this.  So, everyone agrees that it is false that Obama needs to go negative.

Pat, Norah, and Roy, thanks a lot.

Coming up: She may have won last night but today, it sure feels like “Blame Hillary Day” by many in the media.  I‘m sure some Hillary Clinton supporters would say, including by the coverage that we‘d just did, but I don‘t think that‘s fair.  Some say, she‘s too negative.  Others are saying, she didn‘t win by enough.  Why don‘t they just say what they mean, they want Hillary to get out?

And a FOX News anchor compares one of his reporters to a porn star.  Beat

the Press is next

Your VERDICT: E-mail us at VERDICT@msnbc.com.  Your e-mails during the P.O.‘ed box at the end of the show.  Please be sure to include your name and where you‘re writing from.

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s time tonight‘s Beat the Press: Our daily look back at media hypocrisy, agendas and the amusing perils of live TV.

First up: CNN‘s Anderson Cooper once again preaching about the phrases the media should and should not use.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR:  We shouldn‘t be saying the term like make or break, do or die.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  A little over five minutes later, there was this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER:  The new crucial voting bloc we‘re told to make or break—we said it, make or break.  It‘s been outlaw—that term.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  All right.  He was funny about it.  He recognized the mistake, he‘s going to go and make sure the cliques were banned from CNN.  No, just from the very next day on CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Another in a long line of do or die states.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR:  In what could be a make or break contest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It‘s another one of those nights, when we say

well, it‘s do or die -

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  I guess he doesn‘t have that much pull.

Next up: You heard of the league—the League of Women Voters, the Justice League of America and even the movie, “A League of Their Own.”  Well, the creators of CNN have wowed us again with this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER:  For all of you who are first time voters or not necessarily first time voters, here at CNN, we created something brand-new, the “League of First Time Voters.”

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Another one of their condescending “our viewers are a little slow” maneuvers.  Apparently, you can join the “League of First Time Voters” even if you‘re an old pro.  I have no idea what this league actually does.

Finally: When reporters give a live report when someone was making a speech, they have to keep a hush tone so that they don‘t interrupt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARL CAMERON, FOX NEWS REPORTER:  And here in Thomasville and Southern Alabama Community College, that was exactly his point, saying that public education has to be dramatically reformed.

SHEPARD SMITH, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  Carl Cameron reporting to us today (INAUDIBLE).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  I‘m a big Shep Smith fan.  That‘s funny.

We need your help Beating the Press.  If you see anything right or wrong or amusing or absurd, go to our Web site: verdict@msnbc.com  Leave us a tip in the box.  Please include the show and the time you saw the item.

Up next: It‘s “Blame Hillary Day” in the media.  She may have won Pennsylvania last night, but many in the inside D.C media are making her the loser today, accusing her of everything from dividing the party, negative campaigning, giving a boost to McCain.  Even if some of it is true, don‘t they really just want to say: Hillary get out?

And later: A wife convicted of murdering her marine husband is free tonight after 2 ½ years behind bars.  It sure seems like she got falsely convicted because she slept with some of her dead husband‘s friends and got a boob job.  She‘ll with us live.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, there I am.  Coming up, the wife of a marine spent two and a half years in jail after being wrongfully convicted of murdering her husband, she may have been convicted only because she got a boob job and slept with some of her husband‘s friends.  She is with us live.

Plus reality bites with a woman with an eight foot alligator making himself at home in her kitchen.  And it‘s splitsville for Al Reynolds and Star Jones.  That‘s coming up in “Winners and Losers.”

But first, it is blame Hillary day among many in the media.  Following Clinton‘s nearly 10-point win in the Pennsylvania primary, you would think this would be a good press day for Hillary Clinton but then she‘s running against Barack Obama.  So many in the press blaming Clinton today for everything from dividing the party to negative campaign to giving a boost to John McCain.  By staying on the attack she turns off voters and under cuts the rationale for the candidacy to not winning by enough.

The “New York Times” saying in an editorial today, “By staying on the attack, Mrs. Clinton does more than just turn off voters who don‘t like negative campaigning, she undercuts the rationale for her candidacy that led this page and others to support her.”

The Huffington Post saying, quote, “Even though Hillary Clinton won last night‘s Pennsylvania primary by approximately 10 points, the real victor is John McCain.”

“The Atlantic,” quote, “Clinton has the burden of explaining why a potentially quixotic quest is worth the damage that might be accruing to the Democratic Party.”

Hillary Clinton won last night and the story in the media seems to be because she won, she lost.  They are finding all of these different ways to say it.  But isn‘t what they really mean, what they really ought to say is that she want Clinton out of the race now.  Joining me now, political analyst Pat Buchanan, former Judge Catherine Crier and Huffington Post founding editor Roy Sekoff.

Roy, just say it.  You want Hillary Clinton to get out now.

ROY SEKOFF, HUFFINGTON POST:  First of all, I think I should use the sexy voice that the Fox reporter used.  But I don‘t want to get too excited.  Actually we don‘t want her to get out.  We were just talking about how the media likes the fact this is a good story .

ABRAMS:  I said I don‘t believe that.  And I‘m saying that, you, I‘m going to put the finger at Roy Sekoff, I believe that Roy Sekoff wants Clinton to get out now but can‘t admit it.  Instead you‘re doing this sort of coverage which basically says, she‘s awful and she‘s horrible and she won and she shouldn‘t have, what you really mean is she should get out.

ROY SEKOFF, No, no, Hillary won, she got a W.  That‘s great.  But the big winner was John McCain, because he‘s gotten two more weeks of nobody attacking him, getting to do his things while Hillary and Obama go after each other.

ABRAMS:  It‘s a left wing Web site.  Then you should be intellectually honest and say, Clinton get out.

SEKOFF:  We‘re not a left wing Web site.  We‘re a progressive news organization.

ABRAMS:  I didn‘t mean that .

SEKOFF:  We would like to have the race be run not by us but by the candidates.

ABRAMS:  I didn‘t mean it as an insult, you‘re a liberal Web site, right.

SEKOFF:  We have progressive opinions, progressive point of view.

ABRAMS:  Again, this is not an insult.  Kathryn, the point is I‘m concerned that the media doesn‘t want some in the media don‘t want to admit.  I think “The New York Times” regrets having endorsed Hillary Clinton and now they are basically saying Hillary Clinton get out because it‘s not the politically correct thing to say.

CATHERINE CRIER, FORMER JUDGE:  I don‘t know they want her out. 

Because all of media is benefiting by this dog fight.

ABRAMS:  That‘s the corporate interest thing.

CRIER:  But there is a real truth to that.

ABRAMS:  That‘s the people who are running the business.  The actual reporters on the ground I think have been following this campaign closely, they are interested in the outcome and they care about the outcome.

CRIER:  You were earlier talking about things that are very intellectually honest, that are very factual, that is the numbers do not support her becoming victorious in the race.

ABRAMS:  So they should say get out.

CRIER:  They could say the reality is Hillary Clinton, we can‘t seem to find the mathematics to lead you to victory in this.

ABRAMS:  You‘re advising the Huffington‘s Post.  You‘re going to give Roy Sekoff advice.

SEKOFF:  She blogs for us.

CRIER:  Dan does too.

ABRAMS:  I do too.

CRIER:  Just wrote a letter to Karl Rove.

SEKOFF:  Where‘s Pat?  We need the blog.

ABRAMS:  Their point is that if you‘re advising the Huffington Post, and their position is look, is clearly that they believe a Democrat would be a better president than John McCain.  If that is what they believe and also want to be fair and they want to be accurate and want to be good reporters, they have been saying thus far, this is a big win for John McCain.  Hillary‘s win in Pennsylvania, isn‘t the fair translation any win for Hillary Clinton is only good for John McCain?

CRIER:  Not at all.  It is that as long as the race continues to get uglier and as long as it seems that someone is staying in the primary campaign that can‘t be victorious that the Republican candidate is not being attacked at this point in time and is basically getting a free ride to do a lot of things and that isn‘t necessarily saying to Hillary, we want you out.  That is saying, the state of affairs is such that he is going to have two weeks of free time to do what he wants.

ABRAMS:  But Pat, am I crazy, isn‘t the translation here that that‘s a bad thing for Democrats?

I mean, what am I missing?

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC ANALYST:  All three of those sources you quoted, what is their motivation, they want Obama nominated and want Obama to win the election and Hillary Clinton is an impediment because she beat the day lights out of them in Pennsylvania and they‘re howling about that.  They‘re saying you‘re helping McCain.  They want Obama as president.  Why don‘t they come out and say it?  We‘re all for Obama and everything that gets in the way .

SEKOFF:  The “New York Times” had a chance and they endorsed Hillary.

ABRAMS:  One at the time.

CRIER:  You will read that there has been a pretty healthy debate on the Web site.  Obviously there are a lot of people supporting Democratic candidates but a lot of people on both sides.

BUCHANAN:  Those editorials, look at “The New York Times” editorial.  This hurts her with the voters.  How do they know?  She won the race for he heaven‘s sakes, you‘re giving her advice on how to win Pennsylvania?

ABRAMS:  How can you put on the front page, I‘m a big fan of the Huffington Post, how can you put on the front page, the headline is that Hillary‘s win is a big win for John McCain, how can anyone not translate into, any win for Hillary Clinton, as far as the Huffington Post is concerned is a big win for John McCain.

SEKOFF:  No, no, no.  It was a great headline, we had Hillary wins and we had that up and all of numbers then finally had the analysis, at the end of the day this was a very big W for John McCain.  Now the focus isn‘t on the fact that he said George Bush‘s seven years were great for economically for America.

Are you kidding me?

CRIER:  Again, you go back ..

SEKOFF:  That is exactly what he wanted to not have the conversation about.

CRIER:  Exactly.  It was also the Wright debacle was a victory for the Republicans, then it was the bitter clinging kerfuffle that was a great win for the Republicans, each time they come up, you can translate that as a momentary .

ABRAMS:  Anything bad for Obama is translated—I‘m not disagreeing, the press is not being intellectually honest about this.  Let me move on because I want to talk about the negativity here in the campaign.  A lot of the press complaining about the negative tone of the campaign.  And we heard before about what the “New York Times” said about how negative Hillary Clinton has been.  Let me play this new ad that the North Carolina GOP is preparing to put out and while the media, the “New York Times” and others criticizing Hillary Clinton for going negative.  Isn‘t this going to be what Obama is in for on the general election?  Let‘s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER:  For 20 years, Barack Obama sat in his pew listening to his pastor.

REV. JEREMIAH WRIGHT, UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST:  And then wants us to sing God bless America.  No, no God bless America, God damn America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Is Hillary Clinton to blame for this ad, Cath.

CRIER:  No, Hillary Clinton is not to blame for this ad.  This is what the Republicans are going to layout.  The thing that I find interesting it says to me that the candidate, contrary to what we‘re hearing of late, the candidate they don‘t want to see is Barack Obama.  Because even though they are talking about who is winning and losing middle class blue collar Democrats, it‘s the swing voters that vote in neither primary that are probably going to make the difference in this election.  It is the independent swing voter, moderate Republicans that they‘re worried about losing to Barack Obama and I think the 527s coming out now early against him demonstrate that‘s where .

ABRAMS:  But Pat, this says to me again, the fact that the media is blaming Clinton and she has been negative, there‘s no question, she‘s been negative, but those ad are a reality.  Your former party is going to put those out.

BUCHANAN:  Well, sure they are going to put them out.  And Hillary is not doing this.  But look, the point of the ads quite frankly was to tie two congressional candidates in North Carolina to Barack Obama and that pastor which contradicts my friend, what it says, the Republican Party in North Carolina things it‘s got the goods to take down Barack Obama in North Carolina.  And the fact that democrats are howling tells me the same thing.

CRIER:  Think they better go after the guy that could take the swing voters, independents and moderates.

ABRAMS:  Or the only guy who‘s really got a real shot.  Look, he‘s way ahead.  Let‘s not forget about that.  Roy, final word.  I‘ve got to wrap it up.

SEKOFF:  OK, I think we‘re going to see two different races, when Obama is running against McCain, it‘s going to be a very different race, he‘s going to have very different policies.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Fair enough.

Pat Buchanan, Catherine Crier, Roy Sekoff thanks a lot.

Coming up, a marine‘s wife spent over two years in prison accused of poisoning her husband.

It now seems it was less about evidence and more about the fact that she slept with his pals and used the life insurance money in part for breast implants, that‘s not a crime though.

She joins us live reality bites, for the woman found this alligator in her kitchen.  Coming up in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  Cindy Sommer was convicted in January 2007, sentenced to life in prison for poisoning her marine husband, Cindy Sommer.  But it now seems pretty clear she was convicted based on what she did after he died, including getting breast implants and sleeping with her husband‘s friends.  She is a free woman and with us live.  But first her story from NBC‘s Michael Okwu.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL OKWU, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  After spending 2.5 years behind bars for a crime the state now says never happened.  Cindy Sommer was asked whether she was angry?

CINDY SOMMER, MURDER CONVICTION OVERTURNED:  Would you be?  Yes.

ALLEN BLOOM, CINDY SOMMER‘S ATTORNEY:  It wasn‘t a question of who did the crime.  It was a question of there was no crime at all.

OKWU:  Sommer had been serving a life sentence for poisoning her marine husband Todd with arsenic.  Prosecutors claimed she had clear motive cashing in his $250,000 life insurance policy.  But their case rested largely on how she behaved after Todd‘s death.  Summer used some of the insurance money to get breast implants and jurors learned that she entered wet t shirt contests in Tijuana bars, partied at the strip club the night of his funeral and even started sleeping with several of her husband‘s fellow marines, conduct she tried to explain to NBC‘s Josh Mankowicz (ph).

SOMMER:  I wanted my husband back and I missed him and I didn‘t have him and the closest thing I could have were his friends.

OKWU:  Jurors didn‘t buy it.  After all test conducted by the crime lab revealed an unusually high level of arsenic in his liver.  And who else could have been responsible?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Guilty of the crime of murder.

OKWU (on camera):  But then last week after a new round of tests, investigators found that Todd Sommer isn‘t been poisoned at all.  Due to mistakes made at the crime lab tissue samples may have been contaminated.  Todd Sommer apparently died from natural heart failure, exactly as the original coroner‘s report found.

SOMMER:  I‘m still in shock.  I really cannot believe I‘m standing outside of the jail right now.

OKWU (voice-over):  The case against her now dropped.  Her surreal prison nightmare finally over.  She took the first steps towards rebuilding her life and reuniting with her children.

SOMMER:  Hi, honey, I love you.  Oh, I can‘t wait to see you.

OKWU:  Michael Okwu, NBC News, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Joining us now is Cindy Sommer and her attorney Allen Bloom.  Thanks to both of you.  Cindy, how did you find out you were going to be freed?

SOMMER:  I found out through a sergeant, came to tell me it was true that the media outside was there for my release and .

ABRAMS:  You didn‘t know.

SOMMER:  I didn‘t know.  I had no idea.

ABRAMS:  You had no idea you were about to be released a guard comes up to you and says .

SOMMER:  Is it true, the media is outside, they say you‘re being released, I know you can‘t say anything, I know you‘re supposed to not talk about it, do you want me to send them away or do you want to talk to them?

ABRAMS:  And you had no idea?

SOMMER:  I had no clue.  Not a clue.

ABRAMS:  It seems pretty clear that the jury convicted you in large part on the conduct after your husband died.  What happened in that period?

SOMMER:  You know, my husband died.  I lost everything that I had.  And I lost my bearings, I lost who I was.  And I did some things that I probably wouldn‘t have done today.  I can‘t say that I would do the same things that I would today.  I‘m a totally different person.  I was young and I was alone.  And you know, we all do things that, you know, in hindsight we may not do again.

ABRAMS:  Did you find it odd that no one has asked the question about your husband‘s friends, they‘re only asking about you?  They‘re saying you slept with these guys and no one is saying—

SOMMER:  I‘ve asked that all of the time.  Why is nobody saying, hey, you slept with her, yeah.

ABRAMS:  Legally this took a long time to get her released.  What was the key point—was the arsenic, right, Allen?

BLOOM:  It shouldn‘t have taken a long time at all.  The district attorney had the evidence which last week was finally tested and they had that evidence.  It took them 10 minutes to find it in 2008 and took a single phone call and why they didn‘t spend that 10 minutes and phone call back in 2003 or 2004 or any of the 2.5 years.

ABRAMS:  So no crime at all.  Let‘s be clear.

BLOOM:  There was no crime.

ABRAMS:  It‘s not just that your client didn‘t commit a crime, there was no crime.

BLOOM:  There was no crime.  Todd‘s body did not have arsenic in it.  For the district attorney to come around now and make the statement that the system worked just like it should is absolutely .

ABRAMS:  Let‘s play that piece of sound.  This is the San Diego district attorney talking about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Today justice was done.  This is how the system is supposed to work.  This case was done exactly the way it should be.  Our prosecutors reviewed the evidence and based on the evidence that they had at the time there was proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Cindy, how do you feel about that, justice was done?  I bet you don‘t feel that way.

SOMMER:  Justice has not been done.  How can you say justice has been served when I spent 876 days of my life for a crime that was not committed, that wasn‘t even a crime.  There was not even a murder.

ABRAMS:  What‘s it like being back with the kids?

SOMMER:  It‘s awesome.  It is so great and it‘s so nice to be able to see them and hug them and hold them.

ABRAMS:  Some of them couldn‘t visit you in prison, could they?

SOMMER:  My three boys I haven‘t seen in two and a half years.

ABRAMS:  Are they back with you now?

SOMMER:  They are with my brother still.  My daughter is still with my mom, they are still in school and I didn‘t want to uproot them.  This whole thing—my whole family has been devastated by this, and to just uproot them and take them from where they are would just still be another devastating blow to my family.  So I‘m going to leave them where they‘re at and get my life back.

ABRAMS:  What an ordeal.  I think now that you‘re free and now the justice system done its work, I think you‘ve been unfairly slimed for a lot of things that happened afterwards, people can make bad choices etc but the notion that that means x, y or z, I think that‘s the reason you‘ve been mistreated in this case.

Thank you for coming on the program.  Allen Bloom thank you as well.

SOMMER:  Thank you.

BLOOM:  My pleasure.

ABRAMS:  You can hear more about Cindy‘s story on a special edition of “Dateline” this Friday, and tomorrow night we have a big interview with Drew Peterson.  You know him.  Cop under suspicion in his wife‘s disappearance and he is also under suspicion for his third wife‘s death.  He still hasn‘t been arrested.  Tomorrow night he‘ll be here live at 9:00 Eastern.  If you have questions for Drew, e-mail us at verdict@msnbc.com.  Let‘s just say that‘s going to be a little tougher interview than the one we just did.

Up next, will tonight‘s big winner or loser be Tony Blair caught catching a free ride to the airport, Mr. Star Jones, whose free ride appears to be over now that Star wants a divorce or a clothing company that got a free ride at last night‘s Obama rally.  Your e-mails in the POed box are coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s time for tonight‘s winners and losers for this third day

23rd day of May.  April.  “Beat the Press” on me.

Our first loser, Al Reynolds who is about to become the former Mr.  Star Jones after Star announced she was filing for divorce.  Star took a lot of heat for take talking about their wedding incessantly on “The View” and even getting freebies for it.  He should not despair, though, Reynolds now joins an illustrious club of ex-husbands like K. Fed, David Guest.  Divorce their richer, more famous ex-wives.

Loser, Tony Blair caught without ticket or money in first class ticket section of a train headed to Heathrow Airport earlier this week.  The former British prime minister who has earned millions since he left office last year says he misplaced his money.  The ticket inspector gave him a free ride.  I can just picture him saying, I swear, I‘m good for it, you know me.

But our loser of the day, Colorado State Representative Douglas Bruce, ordered to leave the podium in the state house floor after saying this about a migrant workers‘ bill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DOUGLAS BRUCE, ® COLORADO STATE REP.:  I would like to say to the microphone why I don‘t think we need 5,000 more illiterate peasants in Colorado.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Representative Bruce, you are no longer recognized in the well.  How dare you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  The Republican lawmaker appears to wallow in his own idiocy. 

He was censured earlier this year for kicking a reporter.

Our winner of the day, Abercrombie & Fitch, the clothing maker got a lots of free air time at Obama‘s speech in Indiana.  There were not one, not two, but three A&F-clad college kids standing behind Obama has he delivered his speech.  Either the company is that good or that lucky.  Time for the POed box.  Your chance to tell me what you hate or love about the show.  First some missed my point on Monday‘s on their trail segment.  I said Michael Moore‘s endorsement of Barack Obama is actually a loss.

Mike Courtemanche, “I think you are incorrect on Obama and Michael Moore.  I will not vote for or against Obama because of Moore.”

Suzanne Gehman writes “I was a person on the fence from Hillary and Obama until I got an e-mail from Michael Moore.  Since Moore is endorsing Obama now I‘m going to vote for Obama.”

Suzanne, I‘m not sure I believe that.  I said I don‘t think it helps him or hurts him in the Democratic primary but being characterized as a Michael Moore Democrat could be a problem for him in the general election.

And I hope Jeff Stepper from Lynnwood, Washington didn‘t have any money on the Pennsylvania primary.  He wrote this on Monday.  “My prediction is that Barack is going to win Pennsylvania.  We‘ll see tomorrow.  I also predict he is going to be in the White House in January.”

After your last election I‘m not sure Obama wants it though.

And Tim from Chicago, “You predicted Hillary would win Pennsylvania by, nine percent.  Since when can you divide and even number by 100 percent into two pieces and have the difference be an odd number?”

Not sure where you are going with that, Tim, but I will point out that Hillary in fact won by 9.2 points.  I‘m usually wrong.  That‘s all the time we have for tonight.  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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