updated 8/15/2008 2:05:15 PM ET 2008-08-15T18:05:15

Guests: Lee Cowan, Tom Costello, Sharon Waxman, Jennifer Spaulding, M.J. Kneiser, Jeff Gardere

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Tonight on VERDICT -

Breaking news, newly released audiotapes revealed that Barack Obama‘s campaign airplane was in far more serious trouble than the FAA said last month.  We now know the pilot even declared an emergency.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JULY 7)

UNIDENTIFIED PILOT:  (INAUDIBLE) at this time we‘d like to declare this an emergency.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Why did the FAA and the airline owners say that never happened?

Then, Elizabeth Edwards gives the green light to her friends and relatives to bash husband, John, about his affair.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDRA WESTFALL, PEOPLE MAGAZINE:  She authorized her brother and her best friend to speak to me on her behalf.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  It‘s not just her relatives who are talking.  Rielle Hunter‘s sister is now telling everything she knows about Hunter‘s and Edwards‘ time together.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROXANNE DRUCK MARSHALL, RIELLE HUNTER‘S SISTER:  She‘s got exactly his eyes—and his jaw line—and his lips.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  And, on the front lines of the Russian invasion of Georgia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE HARRIGAN, FOX REPORTER:  Georgian forces in Gori have begun to fire.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Reporters under fire—literally.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIGAN:  More firing.  Keep going.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  And John McCain is getting sued by singer Jackson Browne?  Browne says he‘s a life-long Democrat, that team McCain never got permission to use his song, “Running on Empty.”  That‘s really the song they want to take?

And, this little girl probably never gave permission to another girl to lip-sync her song.  Tonight: The lighter side of the Olympics from the late-night comedians.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, TV HOST:  You thought your middle school years were hard. 

Imagine if your government got together and decided you weren‘t cute.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JULIA CHILD, CHEF:  Welcome to the “French Chef,” I‘m Julia Child.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  And who knew—Julia Child was cooking up more than tasty recipes for chicken.  It turns out she was an American spy?

Speaking of ironic—it turns out one of Alanis Morissette‘s angriest songs is actually about Uncle Joey from “Full House.”

VERDICT starts now.

Good evening.  We begin with breaking news—just released cockpit voice recordings show that an incident last month involving Barack Obama‘s plane was far more serious than the FAA said at the time.  We are just learning tonight that the pilot described it as an emergency situation and asked for crash landing gear to be ready on the runway.

That is not what federal aviation officials or the airline said at the time.  Less than a minute after discovering that he didn‘t feel he had full control of the plane‘s up and down movements, the pilot contacted an FAA air traffic controller and said there was trouble.  Here‘s the tape.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED PILOT:  Just to keep you advised, we have a controllability issue with this aircraft.  We have limited pitch authority at flight levels.  So, we‘re descending to see if we can regain pitch authority.  At this time, we‘d like to declare this an emergency and also have CFR standing by in St. Louis.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  NBC‘s Lee Cowan was on the flight covering the campaign.  He joins us now by phone from Hawaii where Senator Obama is on vacation.

All right, Lee, does this come as a surprise to you?

LEE COWAN, NBC CORRESPONDENT (through phone):  It really did, Dan, because those of us on the plane, we certainly didn‘t feel anything.  It was a relatively smooth takeoff.  We climbed about to 30,000 feet and nothing seemed out of the ordinary.  In fact, just so the viewers know, this is a chartered plane.  It‘s not like a commercial plane where everyone is sitting in their seats.  People are up and walking on the aisle.  They‘re talking to each other.  A lot of people have their laptops out, they‘re working.

I was standing, actually, for most of the flight, talking to some of my colleagues and didn‘t notice anything at all out of the ordinary until one of the staff members came back and said we‘re not going to be going to our original destination.  We‘re going to be turning around and landing early.  Wheels are damaged.

ABRAMS:  But no one said anything at the time, though, along the lines of what we just now learned that the pilot said about this being an emergency situation and calling for them to prepare for a possible crash landing?

COWAN:  No.  I mean, when the pilot came on over the intercom to tell us what was going on, he described something similar to that in the sense that he was having controllability issues with the plane, but he said that he had full authority—in his words—of the plane at that time and that was after he had descended obviously from 30,000 feet like you hear in that tape.  But there wasn‘t a sense of panic in his voice.

ABRAMS:  All right.

ABRAMS:  He said that there was nothing to worry about.  That this wasn‘t an emergency and everyone keeps us this isn‘t an emergency landing, this is just—we‘re just diverting from our original location, but shouldn‘t be considered an emergency landing.

ABRAMS:  Let me play a portion of the tape that we have just gotten in tonight where you hear the pilot informing them that Barack Obama‘s on the plane.

(BEGIN AUDIO TAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED CONTROLLER:  Do you have a preference on runways?

UNIDENTIFIED PILOT:  Well, which one is the longest?

UNIDENTIFIED CONTROLLER:  Runway 30 left.

UNIDENTIFIED PILOT:  OK.  We‘d like 30 left, and, just for informational purposes, we have Senator Obama on board the aircraft and his campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  All right.  Now, Lee, what I want to do is I want to play because you filed a report at the time, that night you filed a report on what happened on the plane with some video, et cetera from that aircraft.  I want to play that and then I want to ask you about it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COWAN (voice over):  It was supposed to be a big day on the trail, a major economic speech in North Carolina.  But an MD-80 with its nose out of joint had a different idea.  High over Missouri, the pilot of Obama‘s chartered Midwest jet announced he was having trouble keeping the plane‘s nose where it was supposed to be.

(BEGIN AUDIO TAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED PILOT:  We detected a little bit of controllability issue in terms of our ability to control the aircraft in the pitch, which is the nose up and nose down mode.  We have full authority of the aircraft.  We will not need to brace.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

COWAN:  The plane was forced to make an unscheduled landing in St.  Louis, where fire crews greeted the plane as a precaution.  The NTSB says it will investigate.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  All right.  So, Lee, now that we have, we have the tapes that we hadn‘t previously heard, there probably would have been a little different tune, right—in retrospect in how that story was filed.

COWAN:  Oh, I think so.  I think, yes, there certainly would have been a different tenor on the plane from all of us and, I think, there‘s certainly would been a different reaction from the senator himself.  You know, he came back and he sort of laughing and the first thing he said to us is, “We thought we‘d just spice up your day a little bit.”  When somebody asked him, “Are you scared?”  He said, “Well, look, any time the pilot says that we‘re making an unscheduled landing, it makes you want to tighten up your seatbelt up a little bit.”  But even he was laughing it out, there‘s no big deal.

Even when we got on the ground, one of the first things he said when he was addressing the audience in North Carolina was he were supposed to (INAUDIBLE), but look, we had a little problem on the plane, but it was really no big deal at all.

So, I mean, the whole, I think, obviously, no one was privy to what was going on in the cockpit, but the sense after we landed was, it certainly wasn‘t routine, but it certainly wasn‘t as dire as what those tapes make it sound like.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Lee Cowan, thanks very much.  Appreciate it.

Let‘s bring in NBC News correspondent, Tom Costello, who covers aviation for us; and former NTSB board member, Vernon Grose.

All right.  Tom, so, explain this to us.  How is it that the FAA said there was no call for an emergency and we‘re only learning now that, in fact, there was?

TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Well, I talked to the FAA again this evening.  I talked to the same public relations contact that I talked to all the time and she‘s the one who told me on that day, July 7th, that the crew never declared an emergency.  She got the word from somebody in air traffic control.  It appears that there was literally a failure to communicate properly between somebody in air traffic control or the branch and the FAA hierarchy in Washington and somehow they failed to communicate.

But this clearly had a lot of people very, very concerned because he was at a good, 30,000 feet or so, I think 32,000 feet, when the pilot realized he was having problems controlling the pitch of the aircraft.  And it became quite serious.  And so, that was when he decided he had to descend and, for some reason, the NTSB still investigating, but for some reason, once they got to 10,000 feet, he regained control.

What we know now is a fascinating story that somehow the inflatable slide in the back of the aircraft, in the cone of the rear of the aircraft inflated in flight.  It applied pressure to the cables that control the pitch of the aircraft—the rudder, the elevator, and that became a very big problem for trying to control this aircraft.

However, why did they suddenly regain control once they got down to

10,000?  Was it because that slide started to uninflate or deflate, I

should say -

ABRAMS:  Yes.

COSTELLO:  That‘s still under investigation.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Mr. Grose, we‘re hearing Tom talk about this failure to communicate.  Those of us on the outside would say that it‘s hard to believe that when you‘re talking about Barack Obama on a plane that the reason that we don‘t find out that there was a call for an emergency, crash landing preparations, is based on a failure to communicate.

VERNON GROSE, FORMER NTSB BOARD MEMBER:  Well, I don‘t think you have to say who is communicating with whom.  The thing that‘s really interesting to me is that this is one of the few airplanes that has an escape slide in the tail.  Now, if it exploded or if it expanded very rapidly, and all those folks on the airplane were just talking to one another and never heard it, and the crew in the cockpit were not aware of it either, then we have a real problem on our hands.

And if you think back to Alaska Airlines in January 2000 when it had the same controllability problem and crashed and took 88 lives off the Pacific, we have a problem with this particular airplane.

ABRAMS:  But, Tom, again -

COSTELLO:  But that was a completely different cause—we should make a point.  That was a completely different cause.  That had nothing to with a slide that pointing down the rear of the cone, correct?

GROSE:  That‘s correct.

COSTELLO:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  But, Tom, explain to me, though, on this issue of the failure to communicate.  You know, look, you know these people and you know how things work on the inside.  So, those of us on the outside, I just say, it seems hard to believe that when Barack Obama‘s plane has an issue that they fail to communicate the fact that there was an emergency.

COSTELLO:  Well, I guess what I‘m saying is it appears, and according to the people I talk to regularly, the people in the air traffic control division failed to properly notify the folks at FAA command.

I don‘t, personally—I don‘t detect a conspiracy here because it was clear to all the reporters on board that there was a problem.  They clearly diverted to St. Louis.  There is fire equipment out on the ground and it‘s not something you can necessarily contain.

ABRAMS:  Right.

COSTELLO:  You know, I think it‘s also important to note that the plane did regain controllability at 10,000 feet and everybody landed and everybody was safe.

ABRAMS:  Let me play another piece of -

COSTELLO:  But I will tell you, I will tell you that the people I talked to at FAA, this evening were expressing dismay or, I don‘t want to say anger, that would be too strong of a word, but they were concerned that there had been this breakdown in communication from the air traffic control division to them.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  I would think that that would be somewhat dismaying

when you‘re talking about Barack Obama on an airplane.  Look -

COSTELLO:  But that doesn‘t—but that did not impact the emergency response for the flight, we should point out.

ABRAMS:  Understood.  No, understood.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  But in terms of getting accurate information about Barack Obama‘s safety, I think that it is relevant.  Let‘s play another piece of sound from the tape that we‘re just getting in tonight.

(BEGIN AUDIO TAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED CONTROLLER:  Can you give me the souls on board and the fuel that you have remaining in pounds.

UNIDENTIFIED PILOT:  Fifty-one souls on board.  Fuel in pounds, 21,000 pounds.

(END AUDIO TAPE)

ABRAMS:  Real quick, Tom, why are we just getting these tapes now? 

Why are we just hearing them for the first time now?

COSTELLO:  Well, candidly, what happened is somebody at ABC decided that they would put a FOIA, a Freedom of Information Act request in just to see if there was something interesting on the tapes.

ABRAMS:  Yes.

COSTELLO:  At the time of the emergency, because the FAA said there was no declaration of emergency, I frankly didn‘t even bother.  It‘s one of those things you kind of do when there‘s a very significant emergency landing.  This one, we thought, was more routine than we now know.

GROSE:  Dan -

ABRAMS:  Real quick, I got 10 seconds, Vernon.  Yes?

GROSE:  Dan, I want to say this about the FAA‘s role.  They have a dual role and they‘re somewhat in conflict.  One, they‘re supposed to promote air safety, and the other one is they‘re supposed to enforce rules.  And I think sometimes, this gets a little confusing in their mind and they may not have wanted to admit what had happened.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Fair enough.  We shall—we shall see.

Tom Costello is always on top of this.  I‘m sure he‘s going to continue to investigate exactly what‘s going on here.  Tom, as always, great to have you on.  And, Vernon Grose, appreciate it.

Coming up: Elizabeth Edwards‘ side of the affair story and the sister of John Edwards‘ former mistress is now blasting him publicly.

And, the best late-night jokes, no, not about Edwards, about the Beijing Olympics.

And, a new report finds that TSA inspectors did not record why individual screeners failed to spot weapons.  It‘s today‘s edition of Why America Hates Washington.

We‘re back in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Tonight‘s edition of Why America Hates Washington: Failing to follow through.  A new government report doesn‘t paint a very flattering picture of a Transportation Security Administration program meant to keep us safe.  From 2002 to 2007, undercover TSA agents conducted 20,000 covert tests at 450 commercial airports.  During that time, screeners failed to spot guns, knives, and explosives.  All right—but the point of the exercise was to expose the gaps and correct them.  Inspectors failed to document why screeners missed the weapons.

So much for learning from their mistakes, it is another reason Why America Hates Washington.

We‘re back with more on why Elizabeth Edwards is now coming out against husband, John.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re back.

More tonight about just how Elizabeth Edwards has dealt with her husband‘s affair—why she stayed with him, how the news affected her role in the campaign trail.  And more from Rielle Hunter‘s sister who believes John Edwards is the father of the child.  Her responded to Edwards‘ denial and the, you know, the question that he asked anyone to pay Rielle money.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP,

ROXANNE DRUCK MARSHALL, RIELLE HUNTER‘S SISTER:  I don‘t believe that for a second.  I believe he lied about knowledge of the money.

THEA ANDREWS, ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT:  Why is your sister still protecting him?

MARSHALL:  The only reason I can think is that she is in love with him.  And they have a child together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Hunter‘s sister didn‘t stop there.  She made an on-air apology to Elizabeth Edwards for what her sister did but also wondered why Elizabeth did not leave her husband.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARSHALL:  If I were listening (ph) to the words, I wouldn‘t want to be anywhere near him.  I would have kicked him to the curb a long time ago.  I have a problem with all these women that stand by their men after they cheat on them nationally, in public, in front of the whole world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  You know, and I have a problem with these women who judge and talk about what other women ought to do or not do.  All right?

Joining me now, Sharon Waxman, the author of “Loot” and a former correspondent to the “New York Times”; and, Roy Sekoff, founding editor of the “Huffington Post.”

All right.  Roy, I want to read you this from Slate.com, alright?  This is from Mickey Kaus, says, “Elizabeth was on in the first coverup, allowing her husband to go out and deny the initial ‘Enquirer‘ reports of his affair.”

It sounds like we‘re seeing the beginning of people trying to blame Elizabeth Edwards.  You see there from Rielle Hunter‘s sister, now, you see it from this article—is this where we‘re going?

All right.  Let me—we‘ve got to fix Roy‘s microphone.  Sharon, let me ask you the same question.

SHARON WAXMAN, FMR. NY TIMES CORRESPONDENT:  Yes, it sounds like that‘s where we‘re going.  But I don‘t see why Elizabeth Edwards has to be dragged into this conversation.  We already went through this conversation a little bit when Eliot Spitzer was forced to resign and we all, in the media, started to discuss whether or not his wife stood by him and whether she stood by him properly or appropriately.

John Edwards is the person who should remain in the spotlight and lay off Elizabeth Edwards.

ABRAMS:  Yes, I mean, you know, this Rielle‘s sister going out in public, “Oh, if that have been me, I love it.”  You know, remember, all these people were now sort of finding out, you know, the wife, I think it was Vitter‘s wife who was saying, making comments about Hillary Clinton about what she would have done if she had been Hillary Clinton, all these judgmental people.

Let me play a piece of sound.  This is from John Edwards and Elizabeth doing an interview in 2007.  So, this is after John Edwards has told Elizabeth about it.  Listen to what John Edwards says in this interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “60 MINUTES”/CBS/SEPTEMBER 19)

JOHN EDWARDS, FORMER SENATOR:  I think every single candidate for president, Republican and Democratic, have lives, personal lives that indicate something about what kind of human being they are.  And I think it is a fair evaluation for America to engage in to look at what kind of human beings each of us are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  I mean, you know, talk about (INAUDIBLE) -- I mean sitting there doing this interview and talking about how we all ought to judge people based on what they do in their private lives.  He‘s sitting there with his wife by his side.

WAXMAN:  Yes, he obviously thought that he was going to get away with it.  But there‘s machinations behind the scenes that make this whole thing seem really sorted and also make it really hard to know what‘s going on.  If your—the fear is now become to me something that sort of pits the main stream media against the blogosphere and against the tabloid way of doing things.

And the tabloid way of doing things is that they‘re willing to pay for their news.  It is hard for the mainstream media, which will not pull out a checkbook, which is what I believe going on in these interviews both with Rielle‘s sister and whatever is going on in the “National Enquirer,” as the editors already admitted that they pay for that photo, that makes it really hard to verify what‘s actually going on here.

Nobody can match the stories of the “National Enquirer” because it‘s a very small group of people who know what‘s going on and unless they‘re getting a check, my guess is they‘re not going to tell it to anybody else.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Do we now officially know who ratted him out?

WAXMAN:  Absolutely not.  If you ask the editors of the “National Enquirer,” I don‘t believe he‘s going to tell you.  But you can imagine that nobody in John Edwards‘ circle, his staff didn‘t know.  He said that his wife didn‘t know that he was going to meet Rielle Hunter at the Beverly Hills last month.  And so, that leaves a couple of people, I mean, leaves one person on the John Edwards‘ side and possibly only a couple people on the Rielle Hunter side.  One of those people, you know, got a check.

ABRAMS:  Do we have Roy Sekoff back?

No, all right.  We‘ve lost Roy‘s audio.

Let me—you know, it sounds—I mean, look, the potential number of suspects as to who could have leaked this is pretty small.

WAXMAN:  Very small because look at the amount of detail that was in that original “National Enquirer” story and look at the photo that was sold to the “National Enquirer.”  It feels to me that somebody was trying to put pressure on John Edwards to either cough up more money or do something to satisfy, to satisfy her.

Who took that picture of him holding a baby that her side—again, nobody named—say sources say is his baby.  And he says he‘s willing to take a paternity test.  So, we really do not know the answer to that question.  It‘s a picture of him holding a baby.

ABRAMS:  I got to tell you, getting back to this issue of people blaming Elizabeth Edwards, “She is part of the coverup,” et cetera.  Yes, she was.  But you know, again, I think that that‘s her choice.  I think she gets to choose how she wants to react to her husband, you know, cheating.

It just seems pretty clear it me that we‘re going to get all—I think the next phase of this story, I guess is what I‘m saying, Sharon, is what I fear is going to be—judging Elizabeth Edwards.

WAXMAN:  Well, if there is no other fact to feast on, then that‘s probably where it will go.  Because the story‘s got to find another—it has to find a new page to turn or to write and that‘s one that doesn‘t require facts.  You can just speculate.

And so, the media is going to find some way to keep the story going.  But, I think the focus really is that fair to keep on the story is John Edwards‘ lying, is he continuing to lie and that‘s a fair question.

ABRAMS:  I totally agree with you and I think it is a totally unfair question to start asking about Elizabeth Edwards and whether she did something wrong, et cetera.  It‘s like—come on, people, please.

All right.  Sharon Waxman, author of the new book, “Loot,” thanks a lot.

WAXMAN:  Thanks.

ABRAMS:  And we are sorry to Roy Sekoff, apparently we lost, we don‘t have a picture of Roy.  Do we frustrated Roy Sekoff?  No.  OK.

Oh, there he is.  All right.  So, Roy, you can hear me, we‘re sorry. 

I know you can‘t talk back to us.  But, we‘re sorry.  OK.

Coming up: (INAUDIBLE) Beat the Press—late night comedians poking fun at the Olympians.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART:  There‘s one athlete that everyone is talking about.  Michael Phelps is seen here winning the men‘s 200 meter whale relay.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  And this morning, 91-year-old actor Ernest Borgnine explained how he stays young.  Let‘s just say, it is not something you want to hear over breakfast or really ever for that matter.  That‘s next in Beat the Press.

What‘s 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 include your name, where you‘re writing from.  We‘re back in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

First up: FOX‘s Bill O‘Reilly‘s likes to make everything about some invented culture war.  It seems CNN‘s Lou Dobbs has been watching and now after great consideration has decided that, you know, just knocking off O‘Reilly‘s show is the way to go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “LOU DOBBS TONIGHT”/CNN/WEDNESDAY)

LOU DOBBS, CNN HOST:  Well, if there is any doubt that we‘re in the midst of a culture war.  And I have to tell you, I am one of those people who resist that concept in our society right now.  But this is a culture war and I think we‘ve got to, however reluctantly, acknowledge it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Oh, yes, absolutely.

Next up: This morning on “FOX and Friends,” they interviewed 91-year-old legendary actor, Ernest Borgnine and he then shared a secret.  Take the kids out.  You probably would not want to hear over breakfast or ever.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “FOX & FRIENDS”/FOX NEWS)

STEVE DOOCY, FOX HOST:  You‘re 91 years old.  You look fantastic.  You look like you‘re in your late 60s, early 70s.  What‘s the secret?

ERNEST BORGNINE, LEGENDARY ACTOR:  I don‘t dare tell you.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No meat, you don‘t eat meat.

BORGNINE:  I masturbate a lot.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Thank you, Ernie.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  And all this time, I thought it was diet and exercise.

Finally: On a much more serious note, another example of how dangerous reporting from a war zone can be.  FOX News correspondent Steve Harrigan and his crew fired at today while covering the situation in Georgia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “AMERICA‘S NEWSROOM”/FOX NEWS)

STEVE HARRIGAN, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Georgian forces in Gori have begun to fire at journalists with pistols.  They‘re obviously irregular, undisciplined, angry, and humiliated.  More firing.  Keep going.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Wow.  Harrigan and his crew are good.  They‘re OK.

Up next: John McCain sure had problems on the campaign trail but now Jackson Browne is after him for stealing a song.

And, the late-night comedians don‘t need to steal anything to be funny.  They just were.  And we‘ve got some of their best stuff on the Olympics coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, a Labrador showing a little too much love. 

“Reality Bites” or licks or that kitten. 

Plus, “Winners and Losers” featuring Julia Child who knew she had a little more than just French food cooking in her kitchen.  Turns out she was also a spy. 

And musician Jackson Browne suing John McCain for using one of his songs in a political ad.  Browne is a life-long Democrat and not happy about it. 

But, first, a 36-year-old Georgia man is accused of keeping his wife and four children captive in his filthy trailer for three years.  Cleaning, not allowed.  Trash piled up in corners.  Spoiled food littered the floors.  Dirty dishes covered the kitchen counters.  Three of the four children have never been to school.  Raymond Daniel Thurmond is now behind bars waiting for a bond hearing on charges of rape, child abuse and false imprisonment. 

Joining me on the phone is M.J. Kneiser, news director for WLHR radio in Lavonia, Georgia.  M.J., thanks for coming on.  How did police find out what was going on inside that trailer? 

M.J. KNEISER, NEWS DIRECTOR, WLHR RADIO (on the phone):  Well, actually, Dan, the wife reported it to the police after she was able to escape.  When she escaped, she was taken somehow to a shelter for battered women at a nearby town.  And when she told her story to them, they told her she needed to tell the police.  And when she did that, they launched an investigation. 

That happened about two weeks ago.  And then Tuesday morning after a two-week investigation, they arrested Thurmond when he arrived for work. 

ABRAMS:  Wait.  But when you say she escaped, did she escape with her kids? 

KNEISER:  She did.  She did.  Apparently what she told investigators was that Thurmond allegedly told her he was leaving her for another woman and when he didn‘t return after a few days, apparently, she saw her chance to get out.  Now, police are not really sure who she contacted initially to get her out of there and to get the kids out of there.  But whoever she contacted, they took her to the shelter for battered women and from there, they contacted authorities. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  M.J. Kneiser, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it. 

KNEISER:  You‘re welcome. 

ABRAMS:  This story may serve as a painful reminder to residents of De Witt, New York where John Jamelske held five women captive in an underground dungeon over a 15-year period.  His first victim, 14-year-old Kirsten Howard, who he held captive for over two years.  She never went to police for fear he would harm her again.  This is the terrifying story of another one of his victims. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over):  Jennifer Spaulding, a single mom with a history of abusing drugs and alcohol says she was walking through a rough section of Syracuse late one night in May, 2001, when an old man driving a rusted Mercury Comet pulled over and offered a ride.  But she says instead of driving to her home, the old man took her to his.  She says the next thing she remembers is waking up naked on a rough concrete floor with a chain around her ankle. 

JENNIFER SPAULDING, HELD CAPTIVE IN BUNKER IN 2001:  What the hell is this?  It was scary.  I thought I was going to die. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  As you looked around at the walls, did you see anything? 

SPAULDING:  Just writing and, I mean, it looked like girls‘ writing because, you know, there were pictures and a peace sign. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So right away, you know you‘re not the first young lady to be in this room. 

SPAULDING:  Yes.  I knew somebody else had been down there. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Jennifer says the next time she saw the old man, he was standing in front of her and telling her that his job was to have sex with her every day.  She says he told her he worked for very powerful people and even showed her a police badge to prove it. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He‘s like, well, “Every time that you don‘t have sex with me, adds on to the time that you‘re here.”  I said, “Oh, so I will be going home?”  And he said, “Yes, whenever my bosses say you can leave.” 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Though Jennifer says she fought with the old man at first, she quickly realized, escape from windowless room was impossible.  The walls were thick concrete and the old man always locked the dungeon steel doors behind him. 

SPAULDING:  Reality just hit me like a ton of bricks like, “Oh, my god.  You know, even if I knock this guy out, I can‘t open this door.” 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There‘s no way out? 

SPAULDING:  No, there was no way out. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Just as Kirsten had ten years before, Jennifer says he only saw the old man once a day when he gave her one meal and demanded sex.  Two months after being kidnapped, the sex stopped.  Jennifer said she was certain this was the end, that he tired of her and was going to kill her. 

A few days later she says the old man handcuffed and blindfolded her and put her in a car and began to drive.  Jennifer says she prepared to die.  But, instead, he gave her $270 compensation for her two months in a dungeon and dropped her off in front of her mother‘s apartment complex. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Her captor, John Jamelske, was caught.  Joining us on the phone is Jennifer Spaulding, the brave woman you just saw in that documentary.  Also joining us is clinical psychologist Jeff Gardere.

All right.  Dr. Gardere, let me start with you.  We‘re now seeing - we‘ve seen the guy in Austria.  We now see this case in Georgia.  We‘ve got this case.  Is there some pathology that connects that all these guys? 

JEFF GARDERE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST:  Well, something that we do suspect is that they‘ve had traumatic childhoods themselves and, therefore, don‘t have the social skills, have been very warped and, certainly have personality issues that have caused them to act out in a very heinous ways.  But believe me, these are people who are not insane by any fashion, by any definition of the law.  They know what they are doing and have to be held accountable. 

ABRAMS:  Jennifer, did you ever ask him about the other women, about the writing on the walls? 

SPAULDING (on the phone):  I didn‘t.  He led me to believe that when I was there, there were other women there at the same time.  And he even had like screens, a tape of like women screaming to make me think that there were other people there.  And I found out after that they were nothing but recordings. 

ABRAMS:  Wow. 

SPAULDING:  Yes. 

ABRAMS:  Why did he want you to think there were other women there? 

SPAULDING:  Just to go along with his issue that he was keeping me and selling me to Japan and selling me to Japan as a sex slave. 

ABRAMS:  Oh, my god.  All right.  Jennifer Spaulding, Dr. Jeff Gardere, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it. 

SPAULDING:  Thank you.

GARDERE:  Thank you.

Up next, on a much lighter note - this video is coming. 

And you may have heard, this Alanis Morissette song and thought, “Wow, she‘s angry.”  Imagine being the person who inspired the song.  It was Uncle Joey from “Full House.”  Really.  That story is coming up in “Winners and Losers.”  We‘re back in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Now, to “Reality Bites,” a dose of reality caught on tape.  Tonight, no scaredy-cat here.  This little kitten had every right to be intimidated.  Personal space repeatedly invaded by a much larger animal.  Feline stands firm and holds her ground to the table enduring some (UNINTELLIGIBLE) displays of affection.  She doesn‘t back down despite being hungry.  So much for fighting like cats and dogs.  Really glad we did this.  We‘ll be right back.

ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  Tonight, the lighter side of the Olympics.  The late night comics have taken a break from politics to set their sights squarely on Beijing. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JON STEWART, HOST, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  We begin tonight with our Olympic update.  Spain‘s basketball team is in trouble for this photo where they appear to be mocking the host country.  Bunch of (EXPLETIVE DELETED).  Hey, hey, how would you guys like it if the Chinese team posed as unbelievably handsome Spanish sex gods who spend their nights eating paella and dancing the forbidden dance.  Yes.  I bet you‘d have to wash that down with some really outstanding wines from your fertile (UNINTELLIGIBLE) region. 

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, “THE JIMMY KIMMEL SHOW”:  Visitors to Beijing would be glad to know that the government has ordered restaurants to take dog meat off their menus for the duration of the Olympic Games.  Once the Olympics are over, they‘ll put it right back on.  I mean, a relief for visitors who don‘t want to bite into a big floppy ear, but it is not good news for some of the biggest fast food chains in China.  In particular, Doggo Bell, McDognald‘s and Ken-Puppy Friend Chicken (UNINTELLIGIBLE). 

STEWART:  So, the adorable little girl who sang in the opening ceremony was actually not the singer of the song.  She was lip syncing.  Why wouldn‘t you just use the little girl who actually sang the song?  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The reason was for national interest, he says.  The child on camera should be flawless in image, internal feelings and expression.  The decision, he says, went as high as the Politburo. 

STEWART:  Wow.  You thought your middle school years were hard.  Imagine if your government got together and decided you weren‘t cute.  This is outrageous!  Crushing a little girl‘s dream for superficiality no matter what this kid looks like.  Can we see the other one in the picture?   Oh!  Oh!  She‘s hideous!

CRAIG FERGUSON, HOST, “LATE, LATE SHOW”:  Too many things going on and has nothing to do with sports, if you ask me.  Running around with a streamer is not a sport.  It is a parade.  If I wanted to see a teenage midget and a (UNINTELLIGIBLE), I‘d go to the Web site.  I don‘t need to see the Olympics. 

STEWART:  Now, I know that Olympic rules clearly state the gymnasts must be 16 during the Olympic year, but I‘m going to need some stronger evidence than they don‘t look 16.  There‘s got to be some CSI forensics artist not doing anything, right? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  She says that the ratios of the face could determine someone‘s age. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  All those children that I saw, their chins were really too small. 

STEWART:  You could judge someone‘s age by their chin?  Does that mean Jay Leno is 147?  We got to - what else you got?  What else you got? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  These children even have larger irises ratio to the eye opening. 

STEWART:  There is an innocent explanation for their giant dilated baby-like pupils.  It‘s called LSD.  These gymnasts are just your typical 16-year-old Chinese girls tripping those (EXPLETIVE DELETED) off. 

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, “THE COLBERT REPORT”:  Of course, lots of people are talking about China‘s human rights abuses, abuses I find shocking.  What are they thinking doing it on their own soil?  Isn‘t there an offshore military base they could use instead?  Think outside the borders, guys. 

STEWART:  There‘s one athlete that everyone is talking about.  Michael Phelps, seen here winning the men‘s 200-meter whale relay.  How does he do it?  Bringing his gold medal count to all of them. 

KIMMEL:  They put on quite an opening ceremony.  They say it cost $300 million to produce it.  And might have even been more expensive if they didn‘t have slaves, so this is - But I have to admit however much they spent for this opening dance number, it was well worth it. 

(END VIDEOTAPE) 

ABRAMS:  Up next, will tonight‘s big winner or loser be Uncle Joey from “Full House” who apparently inspired the angry breakup anthem, “You Ought to Know” by Alanis Morissette.  John McCain has inspired an angry response from singer Jackson Browne.  He sued him, essentially saying, “You ought to know I don‘t support you.”  And who knew Julia Child, singing a very different tune, the famous French cook was also a spy?  Plus your E-mails.  We call it the “P.O.‘d Box.”  We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s time for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers.”  And joining us once again, the talented and lovely Contessa Brewer. 

CONTESSA BREWER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  So Dan, first up, do you remember this Alanis Morissette song, “You Ought to Know”?

ABRAMS:  Yes.

BREWER:  The ultimate breakup anthem of the 1990s off of this ‘95 album “Jagged Little Pill.”  let me play it. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALANIS MORISSETTE, SINGER (sung):  It‘s not fair to deny me of the

cross I bear that you gave to me.  You, you, you ought to know

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BREWER:  Oh, the angst.  Apparently, Morissette penned those dark lyrics for this guy.  This guy. 

ABRAMS:  Come on!

BREWER:  Dave Coulier - better known as Kooky Joey, remember him, from the sitcom, “Full House.”

ABRAMS:  Wait, wait, wait.  Contessa, hold on.  Hold on.  This does not work unless we show Uncle Joey.  Where is Uncle Joey? 

BREWER:  We want - you know, he‘s not Uncle Joey.  It was Jesse who was the uncle. 

ABRAMS:  Is that right? 

BREWER:  Yes, you can actually see writing that song for Uncle Jesse, who‘s got this bad boy image.  But this guy? 

ABRAMS:  Well, you know what?  Wait, wait, that‘s like, the head shot

of him.  Do we have the video from -

BREWER:  “Full House,” the sitcom?

ABRAMS:  There we go.  There‘s Joey.

BREWER:  I mean, with the mullet? 

ABRAMS:  Right.  OK.  Sorry, I interrupted you.  Go ahead.

BREWER:  No, it‘s OK.  Here it was - I mean, “Full House.”  He was the kooky one.  He was on the cartoons and everything.  But he finally admits yes, indeed, he was inspiration for the famous rant.  He told the “Canadian Calgary Herald,” “I listen to the song over and over again.  I said, ‘I think I really hurt this person.‘”  You think?  Here are a few of the lyrics.  “I‘m here to remind you of the mess you left when you went away. 

It‘s not fair to deny me - “

ABRAMS:  All right. 

BREWER:  I want to sing it.

ABRAMS:  You wouldn‘t sing yesterday. 

BREWER:  I know, but how can you not sing this song?  I mean, how can you not feel it?  Can‘t you feel it? 

ABRAMS:  I can.  And you know what‘s interesting?  I wrote a similar song about Bob Saget, his co-star.  Yes, I did.  Where‘s Bob Saget?  Let‘s put up the video.  No, that‘s Alanis Morissette.  All right.

BREWER:  There are a lot of people who feel that way about Bob Saget. 

ABRAMS:  There he is, Bob Saget.

BREWER:  I mean, come on.  Joey?  I don‘t get it.  Next up.

ABRAMS:  Next up. 

BREWER:  Did you want to say - are we done? 

ABRAMS:  No.  I was just going to say I think - you know, you get that song written about you, you‘re a loser. 

BREWER:  Next up, Jackson Browne slaps John McCain and the GOP with a lawsuit.  According to the “L.A. Times,” the singer/songwriter and liberal activist is claiming copyright infringement and false endorsement for the use of his song “Running on Empty” in the GOP campaign ads.  Browne‘s attorney says, quote, “In light of Jackson Browne‘s life-long commitment to Democratic ideals and political candidates, the misappropriation of Jackson Browne‘s endorsement is entirely reprehensible and I have no doubt that a jury will agree.” 

ABRAMS:  If you‘re going to steal a song, why do you steal “Running on Empty” as a campaign slogan? 

BREWER:  Wait.  It wasn‘t just - well, that one was for the gas.  They were accusing Barack Obama of being empty when it came to solving the problem.  It wasn‘t just that one, though.  They are saying he stole Abba songs, he stole John Mellencamp‘s songs, and he stole Frankie Valli‘s song. 

ABRAMS:  That‘s the problem when you‘re a Republican candidate trying to use like hip music.  All of them are going to probably be against you. 

BREWER:  And how many staffers work for him?  Couldn‘t somebody have gotten the license, right?  I‘m just throwing it out there.

Finally, Julia Child, master chef, cookbook author and international spy.  Apparently, the famed TV chef mastered the art of espionage as well as the art of French cooking.  A National Archives report released today reveals Child was one of a long list of American spies working for an early version of the CIA during World War II.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  I mean, when you heard this, seriously, I demanded that someone actually show me the proof.  I did not believe that it was true. 

BREWER:  National Archives - 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  I demanded to go - “Take me to the National Archives.” 

BREWER:  Did they do it? 

ABRAMS:  They brought me there. 

BREWER:  And how did it look?  Did you see? 

ABRAMS:  That‘s the kind of juice we have here.  I say, “I want to go to the National Archives and see it myself.”  No.  It‘s unbelievable.

BREWER:  You knew there was a secret ingredient in her cooking.  You just didn‘t know how secret.  Like, if she told you, she‘d have to kill you. 

ABRAMS:  You know, listen carefully to this, and I think you can tell.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JULIA CHILD, TV CHEF:  Presents the Chicken Sisters.  Miss Broiler, Miss Fryer, Miss Roaster, Miss Caponette, Miss Stewer and Old Madame Hen. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Those, Contessa -

BREWER:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  Listen to this.  It turns out those are not their real names. 

BREWER:  No.  Well, it‘s undercover. 

ABRAMS:  She did it as part of her - it was all part of the spying. 

She made up those names. 

BREWER:  Oh, great. 

ABRAMS:  Time for the “P.O.‘d Box,” your chance to tell me what you hate or love about the show. 

First up, Eric Becker from St. Louis weighs in on both Contessa and I calling the Spanish basketball team losers for their offensive photograph and lame apology mocking Asians.  “OK.  So we got that the Spanish basketball team might have done something slightly offensive, but it‘s also worth remembering the rest of the world isn‘t anywhere near as hypersensitive about such gestures.  Good to keep in mind that the American paradigm isn‘t the only paradigm.”

Yes, Eric.  But sometimes, we can make judgments, can‘t we?  The American paradigm in a particular case could be the right one. 

Next up, Sally Boyd defends me again against Contessa‘s attack on workout wardrobe earlier in the week.  “Let‘s have Contessa bring out some photos of her workout clothes.  She‘s going to make fun of your workout clothes.  I think that we should know what she looks like when she‘s working out. 

BREWER:  That‘s pretty simple.  I don‘t work out. 

ABRAMS:  Finally Mike from Owensboro, Kentucky seems to like Contessa “She is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful, witty women.  She even makes you look good!  That takes some work, pal.” 

BREWER:  Oh, Mike, you have no idea. 

ABRAMS:  That‘s all the time we‘ve got for tonight.  See you next week. 

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

END   

W atch Verdict with Dan Abrams each weeknight at 9 p.m. ET

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