Guests: Nikki Giavasis, Crystal Boultinghouse, Todd Porter, Mickey Sherman, Susan Filan, Mickey Sherman, Collin Brock, Craig Crawford, Matthew Felling, David Caplan
DAN ABRAMS, GUEST HOST: Tonight, what could be major developments in the search for 26-year-old mother Jessie Davis. She was nine months pregnant when she was last seen just over a week ago. More than 1,800 volunteers combed through back yards and the fields of this small Ohio community, searching for the pregnant mom.
Cadaver dogs hit on a patch of freshly dug dirt more than a mile from Jessie‘s home. But what may be the most interesting development of the day is what the authorities are saying and not saying about the likely father of Jessie‘s child, Bobby Cutts, Jr., a police officer married to someone else. Investigators carried out a four-hour search of Cutts‘s house last night, reportedly reading him his Miranda rights, and they are still not calling him a suspect or even a person of interest yet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Is Officer Cutts continuing to cooperate?
CHIEF DEPUTY RICK PEREZ, STARK COUNTY SHERIFF‘S OFFICE: He is someone that we continue to talk with and we are in communication with him.
QUESTION: Would you call him a person of interest in the case?
PEREZ: He‘s an acquaintance of Jessie Davis‘s. A lot of people are that we‘ve contacted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Well, a lot of uncertainty there with those answers.
Joining me now, though, is someone who knows Bobby Cutts well, his ex-girlfriend, Nikki Giavasis. She‘s the mother of one of Bobby‘s children. She‘s joined by her attorney, Crystal Boultinghouse.
Thank you very much for coming on the program. Appreciate it. All right, Nikki, first let me ask you—you‘ve been watching what‘s been happening here. You‘ve been listening to some of the comments he‘s been making. First let me just get your overall sense of him and this case so far.
NIKKI GIAVASIS, EX-GIRLFRIEND OF BOBBY CUTTS, JR.: Well, my overall sense is I was very frightened in consideration of what I went through, knowing him and my past experiences with him.
ABRAMS: What do you mean by that, violence?
GIAVASIS: Yes, violence, intimidation, threats. I experienced a lot of torment over the 11 years of knowing Mr. Cutts.
ABRAMS: Can you be a little more specific, if you‘re comfortable with that?
GIAVASIS: Well, one instance was in 1998. He kicked my door down. After several other attempts to enter my home, he kicked through the door, and the police had to come and arrest him.
ABRAMS: And this was after you had broken up?
GIAVASIS: Yes, a year-and-a-half afterward.
ABRAMS: Had you already had a child with him, at that point?
GIAVASIS: Yes. I‘d already had my daughter, but this was in ‘98.
She was born in ‘97.
ABRAMS: How was he as a father?
GIAVASIS: Not always there, not really there, not really there that much. When he did come by, it seems like it wasn‘t with the intention of visiting as a parent.
ABRAMS: Did he act loving towards your child?
GIAVASIS: For the most part, no.
ABRAMS: Let me play you a piece of sound. This is from an interview that he did, the only one that‘s been out there, with a print reporter. We‘ve only got audio of it, but I want you to listen to this and tell me your thoughts about—he‘s talking about his mental state right now.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BOBBY CUTTS, JR., FATHER OF MISSING MOTHER‘S CHILDREN: I‘m really not holding up. I‘m trying to, but if it wasn‘t for my family and my friends, I don‘t know. I mean, I‘m just numb. I mean, I cry. I stare into space, just—it‘s just—I don‘t know. It‘s not real. It doesn‘t seem like it‘s real.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Nikki, what do you make of that?
GIAVASIS: It‘s chilling. It sounds identical to him in court when he was lying on the stand in the case I was involved with, with him. He talked exactly the same, same kind of voice, everything.
ABRAMS: You say when he was lying on the stand?
ABRAMS: And this was what, was this in a custody battle?
GIAVASIS: Yes, during our custody battle, he lied frequently on the stand, and he sounded identical to what he just sounded like on that, what you just played.
ABRAMS: So it sounds like you don‘t—you don‘t really believe him.
GIAVASIS: Well, I can‘t really speculate about him now, but from what I‘ve experienced with Mr. Cutts, I know he has a tendency to lie and a very strong tendency to manipulate.
ABRAMS: Before—I want to ask your lawyer a question in a minute, but I want to play one more piece of sound. And this is a question to him about his relationship with his wife. He was married, and yet it still appears having some sort of relationship with Jessie. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TODD PORTER, “CANTON REPOSITORY”: How much does your wife, Kelly, know about your relationship with Jessie?
CUTTS: She—she knows about the relationship. She knows things are going on.
PORTER: How long has she been aware of that?
CUTTS: I don‘t remember exactly.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Do you believe that, that his wife knew what was happening with Jessie?
GIAVASIS: I know that she knew that he had a 2-year-old child with her, but I‘m not sure that she knew about her being nine months pregnant.
ABRAMS: All right. Ms. Boultinghouse, let me ask you, as a lawyer now—your client could very well become some sort of witness, be interviewed, et cetera. Have the authorities been in contact with her?
CRYSTAL BOULTINGHOUSE, ATTORNEY FOR NIKKI GIAVASIS: My understanding is that the FBI interviewed her this morning. And she‘s been fully cooperative.
ABRAMS: And did you give her any advice as to what to say or not to say?
BOULTINGHOUSE: No. I just told her to tell the truth. Her story‘s been consistent because she is telling the truth about what‘s happened to her, and she doesn‘t really any advice when talking about (INAUDIBLE)
ABRAMS: Nikki, can you tell me anything about what the FBI was asking you?
GIAVASIS: Basically, about things I‘ve been through with Mr. Cutts, things he‘d done to me and to my daughter.
ABRAMS: Was he violent towards your daughter?
BOULTINGHOUSE: He was abusive towards her daughter.
BUCHANAN: That‘s our assertion in our paperwork that we got, the emergency jurisdiction for Taylor (ph) here in January of 2007.
ABRAMS: And in addition to the incident where you say he broke down the door, were there other times where violence was involved?
GIAVASIS: Yes, there were several instances after what occurred in 1998. He would come by my house unannounced, and there were a few times when he pinned me down. And another time, the most recent, was in 2003, when I ended up in a neck brace because of the way he picked me up against my will and pinched a vertebrae in my neck.
ABRAMS: Did he—had he come to your house, at that point?
BUCHANAN: Yes. He came unannounced, uninvited.
ABRAMS: And tell me a little bit more. Came into the house—did he knock on the door?
GIAVASIS: Well, I was outside, and he pulled up, because he lived very close. I was at my father‘s house, and I was visiting in 2003. And he pulled up announced, and he came up pretending to be joking around. And I told him not to touch me. He still picked me up against my will. And I immediately told him that I was hurt, and so he finally let me down, and I ended up in a neck brace that evening, after going to the emergency room in Ohio.
ABRAMS: Did you report that to the police at the time?
GIAVASIS: No. I simply went back to California the next day. I just wanted to be away from him. I‘d already moved away in 2002.
ABRAMS: Ms. Boultinghouse, obviously, these are very serious allegations against—you know, against Bobby Cutts. Are you at all concerned about any ramifications from how he‘s going to respond, et cetera, to any of these kinds of statements?
BOULTINGHOUSE: My understanding is that he has a lot of media and that he‘s being watched very carefully in Ohio. And so...
ABRAMS: Any legal ramifications?
BOULTINGHOUSE: For Mrs. Giavasis‘s statements?
BOULTINGHOUSE: Well, I‘ve told her she can‘t speculate. None of us can. We hope that Miss Davis is found and that there‘s nothing—there‘s nothing here—no wrongdoing.
BOULTINGHOUSE: But we can‘t—we can only go with her experience and my review of the file, as far as his past behavior.
ABRAMS: Nikki, did you ever see him with Jessie?
GIAVASIS: No, I never saw him with Jessie.
ABRAMS: Did you ever—had you ever met Jessie before?
GIAVASIS: no, I had never met her, either.
ABRAMS: Let me play one more piece of sound from Bobby Cutts, and then I‘m going to thank you. But let me—let me just play this one more piece of sound, and I want you to react to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PORTER: For the record, to clear this up, how many children do you have?
CUTTS: Currently, I have three children.
PORTER: And expecting a fourth with Jessie, correct?
CUTTS: Possibly, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: How many children does he have, as far as you know, Nikki?
GIAVASIS: As far as I know, three. But I was told that it was definite that he was the father of the 9-month-old that she was pregnant—she‘s pregnant with.
ABRAMS: Yes. Well, look, this must be a very, very hard time for you, regardless of anything else that‘s happening. Thank you very much for taking the time and talking to us. And Crystal Boultinghouse, thank you, as well, for coming on the program. We appreciate it.
GIAVASIS: Thank you.
BOULTINGHOUSE: Thank you.
ABRAMS: Let‘s bring back in Todd Porter, the “Canton Repository” reporter whose interview with Bobby Cutts, Jr., we head the clip of. All right, look, you just heard that—that interview. Thanks again for coming back. But those are some very hard words coming from his ex-girlfriend. You‘ve known Bobby Cutts. You‘ve spoken to Bobby Cutts. It sounds like she just doesn‘t believe some of what he‘s saying in that interview.
PORTER: Yes. It‘s really not, Dan—it‘s really not my—for me to
speculate on what the nature of their relationship is, what it was, what it
will be. And I don‘t—I don‘t really know Bobby Cutts as much as I just
you know, I talked to him about three-and-a-half years ago for a story, a sports story that I did on him and had seen him maybe a half cozen times in those three-and-a-half years and spoke with him for about an hour the other day.
ABRAMS: Any update on the investigation? I got to tell you, Todd—did you hear the same thing that I heard, which is in the—when the police were holding a police conference today and they were asked if he‘s being cooperative, about a week ago, they were saying, Yes, he‘s being very cooperative, and now they‘re hemming and hawing and pausing and avoiding the question directly.
PORTER: Yes, you know, I did pick up on that. I spoke with Mr. Cutts‘s attorney earlier in the day, and he told me that Bobby Cutts spoke with the FBI yesterday morning for about three hours. His attorney was present. He said that—he—my understanding, he was Mirandized yesterday, according to the information that I have gotten from two different people, including Mr. Cutts‘s mother. But I think that that is just law enforcement being very cautionary right now.
ABRAMS: Yes, but cautionary is one thing. And I want to bring in my legal panel here for a moment because when you read someone a Miranda warning, you don‘t do that every time you search a home. A lot of the time, no one‘s in the home. The Miranda warning is designed for someone who‘s either a suspect or in some sort of custodial situation, meaning, in effect, that they can‘t leave or feel like they can‘t leave.
Let me bring in the team here—Susan Filan, former federal prosecutor, Clint Van Zandt, former FBI profiler, and Mickey Sherman, the great defense attorney. Thanks to all of you for coming back on the program.
All right, Susan, I mean, we can say and the authorities can say this is standard procedure, but it‘s just not standard procedure when you‘re searching someone‘s home to read Miranda warnings.
SUSAN FILAN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: The law generally is that if you‘re in custody or you‘re being interrogated, you should be Mirandized. I understand that law enforcement is saying he‘s not a suspect. He‘s not in custody. He‘s not in detention. He‘s not being interrogated. But he is. And so it‘s the abundance of prudence and caution to Mirandize him. I have no quarrel with the way they‘re handling this. I have no quarrel with the fact that they‘ve Mirandized him. And I have no quarrel with the fact that they‘re not telling the media everything the media wants to hear. They‘re not saying he‘s a suspect and they‘re not saying he‘s a person of, and they don‘t have to, Dan.
PORTER: Look, there‘s no reason to do that, Mickey Sherman.
ABRAMS: There‘s no reason for them, at this point, to say he‘s a suspect or he‘s person of interest or whatever it is. But you hear them hemming and hawing when they‘re asked these questions, which is fine. I‘m not criticizing them at all. They‘re doing it just the way that they should. But there is no question—and even—and even Bobby Cutts recognizes this himself, in the interview with Todd Porter, that he‘s being treated, effectively, as a suspect.
MICKEY SHERMAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Of course he is. And I‘ve never understood when some law enforcement authorities—and it‘s only in recent years—feel that they just can‘t say, We think he may have done it. He‘s a suspect. We‘re just searching under every one, just be honest. I mean, they look foolish. They cast a...
ABRAMS: They‘re going to get sued!
SHERMAN: They‘re Mirandizing him. Of course.
ABRAMS: Because they‘re going to get sued.
BOULTINGHOUSE: Yes. No, they‘re not going to get sued by saying he‘s a suspect. They‘re entitled to suspect anybody. But why be stupid and why look foolish by saying he‘s a person of interest. Like Charles Manson is a person of a lot of interest. I mean, it‘s absurd. Of course he‘s a suspect. Be honest about it.
ABRAMS: Clint, all right—well, actually, let me—Clinton, real quick, I mean, on this issue of what we know now, it seems every day, we know more about Todd Porter—I‘m sorry, not about Todd Porter. Todd Porter‘s wonderful to have on the program and we know more about him, as well.
ABRAMS: But we know more about Bobby Cutts every day. And you just heard that interview with his girlfriend. That‘s going to be important, is it not, to the investigators?
CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER, MSNBC ANALYST: Well, everything in this is going to be important. Number one, if I were an FBI agent involved in this, I would have read him his rights. I mean, the guy‘s a cop. He understands more than anybody else he‘s got a right to keep his mouth shut and to get an attorney, if he wants to. So it‘s no secret that I‘m holding it back from him, but if he gave me anything spontaneous, I would sure like to have that FBI rights form, where he had signed it and then he went ahead and said something spontaneous, and there was no question whether it should or should not be admissible.
ABRAMS: All right.
SHERMAN: Again, the ex-girlfriend‘s appraisal of this children is so unimportant. That‘s why she‘s an ex-girlfriend. We expect to hear bad things from ex-girlfriends.
ABRAMS: If we were to talk to your ex-girlfriends, they would talk about you breaking down doors and beating them up and beating up the kids and stuff like that?
SHERMAN: Yes, but that—no. But a lot of ex-girlfriends have problems with guys...
ABRAMS: Oh, I understand that.
SHERMAN: ... who are angry.
ABRAMS: I understand. But these are—these are more than just—look...
SHERMAN: No, they‘re not.
ABRAMS: True or not true—I‘m not verifying it, I‘m just saying...
FILAN: Dan, there‘s more than just...
ABRAMS: ... that this is serious stuff.
ABRAMS: ... her say-so. There‘s corroboration. I mean, he‘s pled no contest to a trespassing charge. There are facts (ph) of restraining orders.
ABRAMS: Let me...
FILAN: This isn‘t just an angry girl with a beef against her ex-boyfriend.
ABRAMS: Let me take a break here and...
SHERMAN: That‘s exactly what it is.
ABRAMS: Todd Porter, thanks a lot. I know you got to run. I appreciate you taking the time. Susan, Mickey and Clint are going to stick around.
After this short break, the question is, Does Bobby Cutts—does he have an alibi? We‘re going to hear from a bartender where Bobby was seen the night Jessie was last heard from.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHITNEY DAVIS, MISSING WOMAN‘S YOUNGER SISTER: I am running 100 percent on adrenaline right now. I haven‘t slept more than two hours a night, if I sleep at all, since I found out. But you know, I‘ll do this until we find her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Missing mother Jessie Davis‘s younger sister from a few hours ago. Police are trying to put together a timeline of exactly where the father of Jessie‘s child was the night Jessie was last seen.
Now, we just spoke to a woman who used to date Bobby Cutts. The brother of that woman that we just spoke to actually saw Bobby Cutts at a bar the last night she was seen. NBC‘s Alison Cardahold (ph) spoke to the bartender and the owner of Champs bar in Canton, Ohio, who turned over his surveillance tapes to the FBI. She asked them about their relationship with Cutts and whether they noticed anything unusual that night.
LEE GIAVASIS, SAW CUTTS THE NIGHT JESSIE DISAPPEARED: I only talk to him when I see him out here or wherever else I see him around town. But we‘re friendly to each other. We don‘t have any hard feelings, you know? We get along.
ALISON CARDAHOLD, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Did you talk to him at length that night, or you just happened to...
GIAVASIS: Just briefly, just, Hello, how‘re you doing, you know?
CARDAHOLD: Anything seem out of the ordinary from...
GIAVASIS: Not at all. Typical Wednesday night, like I said. Nothing was really strange or out of the ordinary. You know, he comes in a couple times a month, I would say. He lives close to here.
CARDAHOLD: And he was alone or with someone?
GIAVASIS: He was wearing a softball uniform. He was with another gentleman, talking to some other guys that—one other guy had a softball uniform on.
JOHN SHAHEEN, OWNER OF CHAMPS BAR: It really wasn‘t a whole lot out of the ordinary. They probably spent half the time out here and half the time inside. And they were talking to a couple girls. I‘m not too sure—
I think they were just friends (INAUDIBLE) briefly. And that‘s it.
CARDAHOLD: Just hanging out, relaxing for the evening.
SHAHEEN: Yes, just hanging out. They seemed to be OK while they were in here. I mean, there was nothing in their demeanor that looked like he was upset, that looked like there was a problem. You know, he was totally normal.
GIAVASIS: They walked in through this door here, both of them. And then his friend got here first. He sat—he sat on this barstool right there. And then when Bobby came in, he sat here. He played the jukebox a couple times while they sat here and had a few cocktails and talked. And then they went out through the patio door. And they were—there‘s two cameras that showed them sitting at the bar here.
At the end of this picture here, the gentleman sitting right here was his—was his friend. And Bobby...
CARDAHOLD: Is in that spot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Bobby was sitting a little bit more over here, so we couldn‘t see. We saw him come in and everything (INAUDIBLE) jukebox. But the camera we saw him in, I believe, might have been this shot right here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we determined that he came in close to 9:30, and he was here until probably around 12:30, as far as we know, that night.
CARDAHOLD: No—no way, really, Lee, that he could have left and come back and people didn‘t know it? I mean, we‘re talking about at least this three-hour period where they knew where he was on that night.
GIAVASIS: Oh, yes. Definitely.
SHAHEEN: She‘s been here, too, but she‘s been drinking—of course, being pregnant, she drinks cranberry juice.
CARDAHOLD: Did they come in together?
SHAHEEN: Not that night. He was with one of his friends that night.
CARDAHOLD: But on other nights.
SHAHEEN: Yes. Yes, they‘ve been together.
CARDAHOLD: You have seen Jessie and Bobby coming in...
SHAHEEN: Yes, they‘ve come in together.
CARDAHOLD: And when you see them together, did you ever see anything that made you think that there could be problems at all, any fighting in public? You know, some people are like that, especially when they‘re in bars.
SHAHEEN: You know, there‘s a lot of people that come through the door here, and it‘s hard to really keep track of them that closely. But I‘ve never seen anything ever out of line with him or her or anybody.
CARDAHOLD: Is there any reason for you to believe that he has a volatile temper or anything like that, that would be of concern to people?
SHAHEEN: No, not that (INAUDIBLE) my experience with him, I haven‘t seen that.
CARDAHOLD: How—back in 1998, I know that there was an incident involving your sister...
CARDAHOLD: ... where he broke in the door and scared her, and your niece, and according to the court records, he pled no contest to criminal trespass.
CARDAHOLD: Do you know what...
GIAVASIS: I wasn‘t there. I don‘t know the details of what took place at the residence.
CARDAHOLD: But she...
GIAVASIS: I know he didn‘t live there at the time. I know that she lived there by herself with her kids.
CARDAHOLD: And Nikki never said to you, He scares me, or anything like that.
GIAVASIS: No, she hasn‘t done that to me.
ABRAMS: Well, she did just talk about—about that on this program just a few moments ago, saying that he was violent both towards here and towards their child, and certainly didn‘t describe him as a good father. But you know, again, this is someone he‘s no longer with.
Continue to discuss this. Bobby Cutts is becoming an interesting figure in this case, by his own admission.
Up next, an update on today‘s progress in the search for Jessie Davis.
Later: A new report shows many in the news media have donated to political campaigns. Is that really a big a deal as many as claiming? That debate coming up.
NIKKI GIAVASIS, EX-GIRLFRIEND OF BOBBY CUTTS, JR.: And he pulled up announced, and he came up pretending to be joking around. And I told him not to touch me. He still picked me up against my will. And I immediately told him that I was hurt, and so he finally let me down, and I ended up in a neck brace that evening, after going to the emergency room in Ohio.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: That is the ex-girlfriend on this program only moment ago, the ex-girlfriend of a man who‘s become a central figure in the search for 26-year-old Jessie Davis, who‘s been missing for about a week now. (INAUDIBLE) Bobby Cutts, Jr., the man you‘re seeing there, is the father of Jessie‘s 2-year-old and presumably the father of the child that she was about to deliver. She was nine months pregnant. And a lot of questions swirling now because the police have been at his home. They‘ve been taking bags and bags of items from his house. They‘ve been reading him the Miranda warning when they‘ve been going there. And he himself has said that he‘s not surprised that they are considering him a possible suspect.
Clint Van Zandt, we saw moments ago a couple of guys talking about the last night that Jessie was seen alive and what Bobby Cutts was doing. He was at a bar that night, seemingly acting pretty normal.
VAN ZANDT: Sure. Yes, well, Dan, that account for Wednesday night from 9:30 to 12:30. But as you and I and others heard in the press conference today, Wednesday night and Thursday night, he normally works the midnight-to-8:00 shift, but for whatever his reason, they may have been his off nights, but he didn‘t work Wednesday and he didn‘t work Thursday night. So really, from the time he walked out of that bar at 9:30 Wednesday, we have—we, at least, have no idea where he was. And he didn‘t have the constraints of having to be at work for eight to ten hours for the next two days. And realize that we didn‘t find Jessie was missing until Friday morning. So you‘ve got a day-and-a-half, almost two-day window where something could have happened to her.
ABRAMS: Susan Filan, if you are representing him at this point, do you tell him to stop talking to the police?
FILAN: Absolutely. I mean, look, this case is right now down to the forensics. We know that there‘s no sign of forced entry. We know that there‘s a disturbed scene in her bedroom. We know that there‘s a spot on the floor by her bed that‘s completely obliterated by bleach.
What is that bleach hiding? Let‘s assume there‘s foul play. Let‘s assume she‘s deceased. What would the manner of her death be? Let‘s say it‘s strangulation. Why would there need to be a puddle of bleach? To hide what? Let‘s say it‘s stab wounds. There would be spatter. Let‘s say it‘s a gunshot. There would be backsplash. What does this crime scene reveal? If I were his lawyer, I‘d say, Keep quiet. Let the crime scene speak or not speak, but you, my friend, are not going to speak at all.
ABRAMS: You know, there were cadaver dogs out there today, and they came upon something. You know, these are dogs that are trained to locate and follow the scent of human remains on the ground, in the air, even if the body‘s buried or hidden. They can detect scents for more than a quarter mile away.
Mickey, so we learned today that they stopped on something, something which seemed to be newly dug ground. Significant?
SHERMAN: If, in fact, there‘s something there physically. If they find any DNA, or blood, or any kind of trace evidence, and people love dog evidence. I mean, you just can‘t beat that in court. This is the “CSI” generation, and we love to hear that dog stuff, whether it‘s barking dogs, or cadaver dogs, or tracking dogs.
But just to go back a second, the alibi thing, the most significant
thing, Dan, about those two alibi witnesses were who they were, not what
they said, but who they were. This was the brother of the woman was in the
if I‘m not mistaken -- 11-year abusive relationship.
ABRAMS: No, not 11 years. It was just a few months.
FILAN: But it‘s such a small time frame. But it doesn‘t exonerate him whatsoever. It‘s three hours.
VAN ZANDT: That doesn‘t clear him from anything.
SHERMAN: But how about the character references? When he was asked, this man was in an abusive relationship with your sister, what do you say about that? One would expect a brother to kind of be somewhat damning.
FILAN: If he knew. If he knew. And a lot of women keep this a secret.
ABRAMS: Susan, Clint and Mickey, this is a puzzling case.
VAN ZANDT: Hey, Dan?
ABRAMS: I‘ve got to wrap it up. Five seconds, Clint.
VAN ZANDT: The search dogs found marijuana in that grave-like location.
ABRAMS: How do you know that?
VAN ZANDT: I saw report about two hours ago.
VAN ZANDT: Search dogs—they hit on something, they dug it up, and it was marijuana.
FILAN: What do you make of that, Clint? What do you make of that?
SHERMAN: Willie Nelson was there.
VAN ZANDT: Well, I think the dogs had some paper rolls stuffed in his backpack, but...
ABRAMS: All right, I‘ve got to go.
Coming up, a shocking new report. Turns out journalists have political beliefs, and some even donate to campaigns. Some purists now saying this is the end of journalistic integrity as we know it. Others saying it shows bias. I‘ll weigh in, coming up.
ABRAMS: We‘re back. It‘s time for tonight‘s “Beat the Press,” our daily look back at the absurd and sometimes amusing perils of live TV. First up, CNN spent a lot of time promoting an exclusive interview with Angelina Jolie, so you‘d think they would take great care to get the facts, including her name, Angelina, right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Anderson Cooper is next with Angela Jolie...
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: How has doing this work changed you?
How has it changed you as a mom, as a woman, as a wife?
ANGELINA JOLIE, ACTRESS AND ACTIVIST: I‘m not a wife.
COOPER: Well, sorry, you‘re right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: No, Angela Jolie, not a wife. Next up, FOX‘s Bill O‘Reilly has said he does not want to waste time covering the war in Iraq instead spends his precious time explaining why he does not think an ad for Trojan condoms should make it on the air before he proceeds to play that ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: A few of the networks, including FOX Broadcasting, have turned down an ad for Trojan condoms, saying its inappropriate for their viewers, but some people believe that‘s an overreaction. So we‘re going to run part of the ad, one time, so you can decide if there‘s unwarranted censorship in play.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Part of the ad just one time, so we can decide. Right. Then after playing it one time, he continues to play the ad that he says he does believe should be on the air.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O‘REILLY: You know, I wouldn‘t run the ad, because I don‘t want to see pig puppets. I don‘t. I mean, I just think it‘s unappetizing to viewers. What do you want to see a pig puppet for? I don‘t know. That‘s why I wouldn‘t run it, aesthetics. I just think it‘s way out there.
You can understand why some people don‘t agree with you and they say we don‘t want our kids seeing pig puppets, but if I‘m a program director, this doesn‘t really—I don‘t think just does it for me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: So the kids won‘t see it, so he keeps showing it. As a program director, he‘s not going to put it on the air. And the whole time he‘s talking, it‘s up. He showed it again and again.
Finally, a CNN piece on out-of-control fish in the Illinois River. Their highlight reel included their intrepid reporter braving the elements and the flying fish on this dangerous assignment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When these fish were small, people thought this was funny. But now that they‘re—oh -- 10 and 20 pounds, they can hit you and really do some serious harm.
(voice-over): And just a few seconds later, I find out the hard way.
(on screen): Whoa! Ouch. That hurt!
(voice-over): That wouldn‘t be the only one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: I‘m not sure if that sort of Academy Award-winning performance, if it‘s real pain. I‘m not challenging that. But it wasn‘t exactly fish in their real, natural habitat, either.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Watch what happens when these devices deliver a small electric shock to the water.
(on screen): Holy cow! Man! We‘ve got a boat full of fish.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: A small electric shock to the water? Yes, I‘d be jumping out of my home, too, if I was electrocuted. Shocker, the fish are jumping.
While we‘re beating on the press, a new report suggest that, lo and behold, some of the news media have given money to political campaigns. An MSNBC.com investigative report identified 144 members of the news media who have made political contributions from 2004 through the start of the 2008 campaign, including one who donated to the Kerry campaign the same month he was embedded with the military in Iraq.
Well, my take. This has the blogs buzzing about media bias and ethics. The journalistic purists are up in arms. Why? Isn‘t it refreshing to see many so-called fair and balanced media folks exposed for what they are, interested, opinionated citizens who want to be involved in the political process? And some cited work on opinion-based cable programs anyway. They don‘t claim to be objective on these kinds of shows. Is this really the end of journalism as we know it, or just reality?
Here‘s Craig Crawford, MSNBC political analyst and contributing editor to “Congressional Quarterly,” and Matthew Felling, co-editor of the CBSNews.com “Public Eye.” Thanks to both of you for coming on. Appreciate it.
Now, Matthew, is this really such a big deal?
MATTHEW FELLING, THE CENTER FOR MEDIA AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Well, I‘m not sure that it‘s quite at the level of attack fish that we‘ll see on CNN or a condom ad, but, no, I think this speaks—and, yes, I‘m one of those purists that you made fun of. I can even make an argument about voting by reporters, but we‘re not going to get into that.
I think that what this does—there‘s already enough of a distrust of the media out there, and I think this is just adding a complication to the equation that is really unnecessary. I don‘t think that the reporters—we have doctors who say, “First do no harm.” I think the key for most journalists is, “Keep yourself out of the story.” And this, whether it toes the line or crosses the line, is a little bit tough for me to deal with.
ABRAMS: See, Craig, I think just the opposite. I think that people will finally see reporters maybe coming clean, maybe being a little more straightforward, as opposed to all the time claiming, “Oh, I don‘t think anything. I don‘t have any thoughts about anything. I don‘t have any feelings about any of this. I don‘t vote. I don‘t take political positions.”
CRAIG CRAWFORD, COLUMNIST, “CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY”: I think the old regime of hide your bias is what led to a lot of the fear and distrust and loathing of the media.
CRAWFORD: You know, it‘s OK to be biased. We didn‘t check out of the human race when we became journalists. The question is whether that bias gets into your reporting. And I think, if you show your bias, if you reveal it to your viewers and readers, then they can see—many times, we‘re as tough, maybe even tougher, on the people we like as those we don‘t.
ABRAMS: Let‘s do a quick fact-check here. What of the policies of cable news organizations when it comes to donations and other political activity? CNN strictly forbids any campaign contributions. FOX News allows them. MSNBC, we don‘t discourage or encourage. We require employees to receive permission and report any potential conflicts of interest in advance. Another one, this one of the network side, as you see there, ABC, strictly forbidden; CBS, strictly forbidden; NBC, not encouraged or discouraged, but must get permission.
All right, so, Matthew, look, you think that, across the board, no members of the media should be allowed to get involved? I mean, for example, what do you think about this, Matthew? Should someone be able to donate to the Catholic Church?
FELLING: Well, I think you‘re going a different direction right there. I think that, you know, if you‘re a music critic with the “New York Times,” I really don‘t care. I think there was a guy a long time ago who said, “I don‘t care if you sleep with the elephants, as long as you don‘t cover the circus.”
CRAWFORD: And one of the people in this study was a music critic. I mean, that‘s what I don‘t understand about this study. I counted maybe 50 of them who don‘t even have jobs anywhere near covering politics. It was a music critic, a travel writer, a sports statistician, and they‘re calling these people journalists who shouldn‘t be giving money to politics.
FELLING: I‘m more worried about left-hand bias in baseball than I am about left-wing bias. And I think that the study just feeds the suspicion that a lot of people have about reporters, but I think that it‘s not fair to make gross generalizations using 127 out of 144 people who are music, poetry, literature...
CRAWFORD: That‘s about 0.5 percent of the 10,000-plus journalists.
ABRAMS: I think even Matthew is sort of with us now on this one, Craig. We‘ve brought him over. But here‘s the controversial issue. Let‘s deal with the liberal versus conservative issue here, all right? According to the study, out of the 144 people who donated, 125 gave to Democrats and liberal causes; 17, just 17 gave to Republicans; and two gave to both parties.
How do you deal with that, Matthew? I mean, that really does seem to demonstrate, does it not, that there‘s a liberal—forget about liberal bias—that most of the media is liberal?
FELLING: Well, first of all, to channel Stephen Colbert, I‘d like to say to those two people who gave to both parties: Get off the fence, people. We‘re at war.
But for the most part, I think that this does confirm that, in a lot of newsrooms—and we did talk about they were bouncing the numbers around by talking about arts, and music, and literature, and stuff like that—there is a left-wing tilt in many newsrooms, that they are—what we consider being in political circles on the left side of the spectrum. And there are studies that prove it.
CRAWFORD: I really think that‘s part of the nature of the kind of people who become journalists, who are very anti-establishment...
FELLING: Very skeptical.
CRAWFORD: ... very suspicious.
CRAWFORD: I don‘t question that most reporters, when they get in the voting booth, probably do vote Democrat. Their bosses and the owners of their companies, however, go the other direction.
ABRAMS: But isn‘t that a problem, Craig? I mean, you talk about credibility. You wonder, why—a huge percent, nine out of 10, or whatever it is, tend to be liberal, you can see why a lot of people out there say, “I don‘t trust the media.”
CRAWFORD: I don‘t think it‘s as high as nine out of 10, and this study doesn‘t prove any such thing because it‘s not even—I don‘t think it intended to do that, I mean, 144 out of 10,000-plus journalists doesn‘t even make any sense to extrapolate that to the whole. I mean, that‘s like a grain in the sand to define the ocean.
FELLING: If it was inside-the-Beltway journalists, then I think there would be a lot more to be made of this study. But as things go, I think that it raises some issues, but it doesn‘t put them to bed at all.
ABRAMS: So the music and literature correspondents are all liberal.
Sorry. Craig Crawford and Matthew Felling, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
Up next, you‘ve all heard about travel nightmares. This is worse, no, no, really worse. No crying babies, chatty Cathy neighbors, none of that. How about a seven-hour flight with sewage flowing down the aisles? Oh!
Yes, I know. We‘re going to talk to one of the, quote, “survivors.”
And if that doesn‘t turn your stomach, how about a Paris Hilton update? We‘ve got a letter from Paris in the clink. Our countdown to her release, coming up, as well.
ABRAMS: Right now, legislation pending in Congress for a passenger bill of rights that would require airlines to allow passengers off a plane after three hours. States passing similar laws of their own. But I‘m not sure any legislation could address what happened on Continental Flight 71 from Amsterdam to Newark.
Nearly 200 passengers flew a seven-hour flight while sewage overflowed from the plane‘s toilets and down the aisles. Joining me now, one of the so-called survivors, Collin Brock, who was a passenger on that flight.
Collin, thanks a lot for joining us. Appreciate it. How bad was it?
COLLIN BROCK, “SOILED” PLANE PASSENGER: You know, it was definitely a horrible experience.
ABRAMS: I mean, like, the whole plane, it was permeating throughout the plane?
BROCK: Yes, it definitely was. The smell definitely was intrusive throughout the plane.
ABRAMS: And I saw there was one picture where one of the flight attendants was wearing some sort of mask?
BROCK: Yes, that is correct. She was wearing a mask.
ABRAMS: I mean, look at this. I mean, I don‘t mean to make light of this, but what about all the passengers? I mean, there‘s the flight attendant looking like she‘s in a HAZMAT uniform, and what about the passengers?
BROCK: Well, the passengers weren‘t at any time offered a mask or anything like that, for sure. She was the only flight attendant that I saw wearing a mask, so...
ABRAMS: All right, here‘s—Continental apologized for everything. They issued this statement. They said, “During the flight from Shannon to Newark, the problem developed again. Upon landing in Newark, it was determined that someone had flushed latex gloves into the lavatory system, which caused the obstruction.”
I‘m sure that that makes you feel any better, does it?
BROCK: Well, you know, there are several things wrong with that statement. You see, the fact of the matter is that they do claim that during the flight was when the problem reoccurred. However, myself and many other people that were on that flight blatantly think that it‘s an incorrect statement. And I actually have with me here in the studio several e-mails from different passengers asserting the fact that the problem did not reoccur, it persisted from the previous day. When we actually boarded the plane, we were told at that time the lavatories were in the same type of condition that they had been the day before.
ABRAMS: Yes, and they‘d made that stop, and then you guys stayed there overnight, and then supposedly the problem was fixed. All right. Collin, look, thanks a lot for coming to the program. I‘m sorry that you had to go through this. I appreciate you taking the time.
BROCK: Yes, thank you very much for having me on.
ABRAMS: Up next, with just four days to go until she gets out, Paris is responding to her fan mail. We‘ve got one of her letters. Yes, she reads and writes, I swear.
ABRAMS: Time for “Hollyweird,” your one-stop shop for the famously bad. Paris Hilton set to be released in just four days. Last night, we told you about Paris‘ record-setting day, the most inmate fan mail received at that jail, and it looks like she‘s actually responding to some of it. E! Online has obtained a letter Paris actually, like, you know, wrote, like, really, wrote to a fan.
“I read your letter and just wanted to thank you for your kind words of love and support. The fact that you took the time out of your day to write me truly means the world, especially at such a difficult and scary time in my life.”
Here now, David Caplan from VH1‘s PageSizzler.com. And still with us is Susan Filan.
All right, David, she‘s actually writing back to random fans?
DAVID CAPLAN, PAGESIZZLER.COM: Yes, she is. She‘s gotten 5,000 letters so far. And, supposedly, her mom says that‘s how she spends her day. I don‘t think she‘s responding to all of them, but she allegedly wrote this one letter to a fan. I don‘t know how he got it. It seems a little suspect or planted, but you see it‘s very Paris Hilton, the penmanship, hearts about the I‘s...
ABRAMS: Oh, you‘re saying maybe you don‘t buy that it was just one of the many letters she was writing back to fans?
CAPLAN: You know, I‘m just suspect about it because it‘s worded so perfectly, and the I‘s are dotted with little hearts, and there‘s a little spelling mistake. It‘s cutesy. So it‘s a little suspect. But supposedly that‘s what Paris is doing, that and finding God in prison.
ABRAMS: There‘s the letter. She does have very nice penmanship.
All right, first, they complain because she has the paparazzi crowding
their streets; now, Paris‘ Hollywood Hills neighbors say she‘s a bad pet
owner. One says, quote, “They found two little Chihuahuas of hers running
up and down the street, with cars and people going up and down. I put them
in my bathroom and called Paris. Her assistant answered and said, ‘You
can‘t drop them off. Ms. Hilton isn‘t home.‘”
But, Susan Filan, if the neighbors are suddenly doing a lot of complaining—I mean, I understand. They‘re angry. They‘re upset. There‘s all this media and helicopters, et cetera, and now they‘re complaining about her pets, et cetera. Can they actually do anything legally?
SUSAN FILAN, FORMER CONNECTICUT PROSECUTOR: Absolutely not. I mean, Paris owns her home. The only thing they could do is make a complaint. And if she‘s violating some city ordinance with respect to noise or pets running loose or not picking up their waste, I suppose they could try to fine her. But what‘s she going to do? She‘s just going to write a check, ca-ching, ca-ching.
ABRAMS: David, it‘s actually—I didn‘t know this, but apparently it‘s well-known that Paris is viewed as a bad dog owner. An online survey in 2005, she was voted the worst celebrity dog owner, for treating her dogs like accessories in 2006, voted the second worst celebrity dog owner behind Britney Spears.
CAPLAN: You know, it‘s no surprise that this woman should not have a pet. in fact, a couple of years ago, she actually lost Tinkerbell, and then she had to post lost signs all throughout West Hollywood looking for Tinkerbell. So It‘s a very well-documented fact in Hollywood that Paris Hilton should be nowhere near an animal.
FILAN: Did he say “dogumented” fact?
CAPLAN: That is a good play on words.
ABRAMS: Susan, let me ask you about the release date. It‘s expected to be in four days from now. We got our countdown there with the bobblehead. Want to make sure that‘s accurate. Still not the 45 days, right, but this would be the 23 days?
FILAN: Yes, I mean, look, at some point—and, you know, we have to stop treating her differently, either better or worse. Anybody would have already been out by now. OK, so she‘s the only inmate in kingdom come that‘s actually going to serve the statutorily, properly calculated period of good time. Good for Paris. She made it 23 days. Enough already! I was absolutely on board with her going back, but now I‘m—please, please, just open the door and let her go.
ABRAMS: I‘ve been on the Free Paris bandwagon ever since...
FILAN: I‘m not on the Free Paris. Just treat her like everybody else, for Heaven‘s sake.
ABRAMS: And that would mean free Paris. I don‘t quite understand how 45 days becomes 23 days becomes 18...
FILAN: Because there are statute standards to calculate good time.
ABRAMS: I mean, I get it. This judge seems so hardcore about, oh, the full sentence, and the full sentence now effectively means 18 days.
All right, David Caplan, Susan Filan, thanks a lot, appreciate it.
FILAN: Good night.
ABRAMS: A reminder, you‘re missing Joe? I know. I know. Tomorrow, 6:00 a.m., that‘s where he is. His guests tomorrow, he‘s got Colonel Jack Jacobs, he‘s got Mort Zuckerman, he‘s got Sharon Waxman of the “New York Times.” He‘s got a great show.
That‘s all the time we have for tonight. Up next, a big MSNBC special, “William and Henry,” Matt Lauer‘s full conversation with the two princes, their first interview on American television.
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