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'The Abrams Report' for Jan. 10

Read the transcript to the 6 p.m. ET show

Guest: Leslie Moonves, Dick Thornburgh, Louis Boccardi, Bob Kohn, Marvin Kalb, Amber Frey, Gloria Allred

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, heads roll at CBS News after an independent report criticizes that Dan Rather story about President Bush‘s National Guard service.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS (voice-over):  The 224 page document blames CBS for failing to authenticate memos and vet the story properly, but finds no reason to believe that there was political bias.  Four senior staffers are out, but not Dan Rather who still says he thinks the report was accurate.  We talk to CBS President Les Moonves and the men who wrote the report.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This was a case where the appropriate steps weren‘t taken and things were printed that were unfair, untruthful, and possibly not able to be substantiated.

ABRAMS:  And the most anticipated witness in the Scott Peterson trial, his girlfriend, Amber Frey, joins us live to talk about cooperating with police and testifying against Scott Peterson.

The program about justice starts now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  First up on the docket, CBS News smarting today from a black eye delivered by an independent panel, which CBS appointed to review its controversial and now discredited pre-election story slamming President Bush‘s National Guard service.  The report found CBS News essentially guilty of failures and falsehoods in both the story and in statements it made until the story was withdrawn.

As for the fallout, CBS News President Andrew Heyward will keep his job and Dan Rather who reported the story will keep his on “60 Minutes”, though he‘s leaving the evening news anchor desk.  The move announced after the story broke last year.  Four other CBS staffers have been fired or asked to resign.

Mary Mapes, who produced the report for “60 Minutes”, Josh Howard, the show‘s executive producer, Mary Murphy, Howard‘s deputy and senior vice-president Betsy West.  I spent much of the day today over at CBS talking to the principals in the story.  Everywhere you turn, there were P.R. people, there were lawyers, there were spinners.  This was a dark day at black rock, but they wanted to minimize the damage.

I spoke with the men who wrote the report, former Republican Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and former Associated Press CEO Louis Boccardi and CBS Network President Leslie Moonves.  I started by asking Mr. Moonves what went wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LESLIE MOONVES, CBS PRESIDENT:  It was such an over zealousness to get the story on the air that the experts weren‘t authenticated, the documents weren‘t authenticated, and I don‘t think they checked out the sources sufficiently.

ABRAMS:  Is CBS ready to say we got it wrong?

MOONVES:  Oh, there‘s no question about it...

ABRAMS:  We got it wrong?

MOONVES:  The panel, you know, wrote a very in-depth report of 225 pages, and in my statement about it, I said we were unfair and inaccurate at certain points in time throughout this.

ABRAMS:  But is CBS now confident that that document was a fake?

MOONVES:  No.  You know what?  It‘s interesting, the panel never said the document wasn‘t a fake, but if you can‘t authenticate that it was a true document, it might as well have been a fake.

ABRAMS:  Four producers either asked to resign or fired, and yet Dan Rather, the face of the piece, and not just the face of the piece, someone who was working on the piece behind the scenes...

MOONVES:  Right.

ABRAMS:  ... no consequence.

MOONVES:  Well, it‘s three producers and an executive at CBS.  Look, the report very clearly states Dan was working on the Republican National Convention, he was working on a hurricane story, and clearly when the story went on the air, I think Dan‘s biggest faults was trusting a producer he had worked with before, obviously they had great success together.

ABRAMS:  So Dan Rather hadn‘t verified the sources.  Dan Rather hadn‘t asked the tough questions.

MOONVES:  As you know, you can‘t always do that as a reporter.  You trust the people you work with.

ABRAMS:  Let me read one line from the panel.  The panel does not believe that the appropriate level of care to avoid the appearance of political motivation was used in connection with this story.  Does that now mean that people won‘t be able to trust CBS News, do you think?

MOONVES:  That‘s not the case.  Clearly 99 percent of the people in the stories reported at CBS News are dead accurate.  This was the case where the appropriate steps weren‘t taken and things were printed that were unfair, untruthful, and possibly not able to be substantiated.

ABRAMS:  What was it about this story though?  I mean, CBS goes through this all the time and there are going to be stories that are going to be pulled all the time because they aren‘t able to verify it.  Why did this one slip through?

MOONVES:  You know what?  I don‘t know the answer to that question.  It‘s a very good question.  Clearly it‘s a story that Mary Mapes had been chasing for many years.  As they said on the panel, it obviously was the perfect storm.  People were rushing to judgment.  They were rushing competitively.  It was an important story.  I don‘t know the answer to that question.

ABRAMS:  Do you think it was purely journalistic errors?  Do you think that if there had been journalists, producers, with a more conservative bend at the helm that the result might have been different?

MOONVES:  I don‘t think it had anything to do with whether they‘re conservative or liberal or Republicans or Democrats.  I don‘t think producers checked appropriately.  I don‘t think they vetted the report.  Forget about political bent.  I don‘t think it had anything to do with it. 

I think it had to do with not doing their jobs.

ABRAMS:  In a CBS statement on the CBS Web site, says the correspondent on the story, CBS News anchor Dan Rather is stepping down as anchor of “CBS Evening News”.  It makes it sound as if that‘s part of the result of this investigation.  If Dan Rather had not stepped down as anchor, would you have asked him to resign?

MOONVES:  That‘s purely conjecture.  I mean we just started discussing Dan Rather leaving his anchor chair this past summer, long before this story came up or even the idea for the story came up.  In November, he announced that on March 9 he‘d be leaving the chair, just as NBC did five years before Brokaw left, they announced Brian Williams or what ever the amount of time.  We have had a logical succession and it was all in place and it would have been in place with this story or without it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  I‘ll be giving you “My Take” on all this coming up in the next segment.  After Mr. Moonves, I sat down with the investigators, former attorney general Dick Thornburgh and former Associated Press Chief Executive Louis Boccardi.  My first question to them, did they find evidence that a political agenda admitted or not could have influenced people at CBS News when they prepared the report?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DICK THORNBURGH, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL:  We didn‘t find any political agenda on the part of any of the people involved in this.  There were a lot of other news organizations following the story.  We did find, however, an insensitivity to appearances.  Most of the sources for this story had a strong anti-President Bush agenda of their own.  And the contact between the producer of this segment and the Kerry campaign was universally condemned within and without CBS News.

ABRAMS:  I mean, when a producer calls up an ally of the Kerry campaign to say, hey, I want to put you together with someone, how is that not political?

THORNBURGH:  It was a dreadful mistake to be sure, but we didn‘t find that there was an intention to further the political interest of the candidate.  What it really was, was an attempt to exert some further leverage on the source to make some documents available.

ABRAMS:  You had said, and I quote, “you could not find a basis to accuse those who investigated, produced, vetted or aired the segment of having a political bias.  OK.  Accusations aside, is it fair to say this might not have happened if the people involved had more of a conservative bend?

LOUIS BOCCARDI, FORMER ASSOCIATED PRESS CHIEF EXECUTIVE:  I don‘t see any basis on which I could make that judgment, no.  I think it‘s clear that they did things that could lead those who think there was a bias here to be convinced of it.  But you know we didn‘t want to make the same mistake that the program made.

ABRAMS:  How involved was Dan Rather in producing, in researching, in asking the tough questions about this piece?

BOCCARDI:  Before the show aired, his involvement was minimal.  He had been in a very busy 10 or 12-day period with the Republican Convention, chasing a hurricane in Florida, so he was not deeply engaged in the preparatory part of the program.

ABRAMS:  We know that very often, correspondents rely on producers for a lot, but a piece this sensitive, this important, this close to the election, coming from the voice of Dan Rather, should he have done more?

BOCCARDI:  I think Dan Rather was doing what CBS assigned him to do, which was a convention, the hurricane, and so forth.  We make a recommendation that CBS News management should look at the problem of whether correspondents have enough time to contribute their insights and their abilities and their news reporting ability to a segment, and if they can‘t, then that‘s something that needs to be addressed.

ABRAMS:  If you were going to describe the single biggest journalistic problem here, what would you say that it was?

THORNBURGH:  I think there are probably three different areas I would focus attention on in terms of the process shortcomings.  One was the failure to authenticate the documents or to report accurately upon what the experts said.  Second was to thoroughly examine the background of the principal source to see what his history was, what his biases were.  And the third was the whole vetting process that was gone through by the management of the program.  The failure to ask the tough questions, the follow-up questions that would bring out these shortcomings.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  We have just gotten a statement from Mary Mapes, the producers of the segment, who was fired as a result of this investigation.  She says I am shocked by the vitriolic scapegoating in Les Moonves‘ statement.  I am very concerned that his actions are motivated by corporate and political considerations—ratings rather than journalism.  Contrary to the conclusions of the panel, I vetted all aspects of the story with my editors.  I am heartened to see that the panel found no political bias on my part as indeed I have none.

Coming up, CBS report blamed producers and executives at every level, but ultimately found, as we‘ve heard, no political bias shape the story.  Story came out in the middle of a presidential campaign.  We‘re going to talk to a former CBS correspondent and a media critic.

And when Amber Frey took the stand in the Scott Peterson case, everyone wanted to hear what she had to say.  Well, now she‘ll join us to answer the questions you really wanted to hear.  She is here.  She is live.  She is coming up.

Your e-mails abramsreport@msnbc.com.  Please include your name and where you‘re writing from.  I‘ll respond at the end of the show.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, heads rolling at CBS including the executive producer of “60 Minutes” Wednesday, but not Dan Rather.  I was at CBS all day and we‘ve got more on the CBS report, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN RATHER, CBS NEWS ANCHOR:  There are no excuses.  This is not a day for excuses.  I made a mistake.  We made a mistake and I‘m sorry for it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  CBS News legend Dan Rather back in September, trying perhaps to wipe some of the tarnish off his image with that apology for the “60 Minutes” story on President Bush‘s military service that just cost four other CBS staffers their jobs.  There have been lots of charges that Rather and producer Mary Mapes may have let alleged liberal bias lead them down the wrong road when they produced and reported on an election year story that CBS admits fell well below its news division standards.

However, CBS denies that bias played a role.  In an interview we just played, former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and former Associated Press CEO Louis Boccardi who investigated the CBS mess insisted they found no evidence of political bias, just insensitivity towards the appearance of bias, especially in Mapes‘ contact with Joe Lockhart, who was working on the John Kerry campaign at the time.

“My Take”—the bottom line is the independent commission says CBS made plenty of mistakes, but not because of a liberal bias.  And just as I deferred to the 9/11 Commission on their report, because they‘re the ones who did all the interviews, because they spoke to all the people involved, they saw all the documents behind the scenes, I‘m going to defer to the commission on this one.  Even Rather haters should concede that this former Republican attorney general and wire service CEO called it as they saw it, and they saw no evidence to support that the story made it on the air because of bias, just incompetence and a rush to get the story on the air.  I accept that finding.

My guest, Marvin Kalb, is a senior fellow at the Shorenstein Center on the press, politics and public policy and a former correspondent with CBS and NBC News and Bob Kohn is an attorney, media critic and author of “Journalistic Fraud: How the New York Times Distorts the News and Why It Can No Longer Be Trusted.”

All right, Bob, do you accept this panel report?

BOB KOHN, MEDIA CRITIC:  Yes, well it was a very thorough report, they should be commended for it, and CBS also should be commended for the cooperation they gave the panel.  There‘s no question about it was thorough.  It reads like a very well done court opinion.  But this business about political bias, I don‘t think they wanted to go there.  You know, they just convicted and sentenced a guy to death based upon circumstantial evidence and this report, this 224 pages, is replete with circumstantial evidence of political bias.

ABRAMS:  I don‘t know.  I didn‘t read it that way, Marvin Calvin.  I mean I saw that they were saying that the appearance of bias was not addressed enough, but I didn‘t see that they were saying that the reason this made it through was because of liberal bias.

MARVIN KALB, SENIOR FELLOW, SHORENSTEIN CENTER:  Well, I don‘t think it was liberal bias in it, but I think you knew that by indicting me.  I believe that this was not an example of liberal bias.  I think Ari Fleischer is coming out with a book and according to “The Washington Post” today, Ari says it‘s not a matter of liberal bias in this issue or any other.  It‘s a matter of a built-in desire for conflict, for tension, for excitement and that‘s the kind of thing that they want.

On the issue of politics, however, we were at that time when this story came out right smack in the middle of a presidential campaign and the report says there was absolutely nothing in the timing of the release of this story that had anything to do with politics.  That I don‘t buy.  I think that politics was very much part of this story.  CBS wanted—they were just inaugurating “60 Minutes” Wednesday.  There was a new executive producer and they obviously wanted to start it with something that was dramatic and big and this certainly was.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Dan.

ABRAMS:  Bob, do you think if they had a big story, let‘s say you know, a Monica-Bill Clintonesque story and let‘s change the timing a little bit and make it before the ‘96 election, do you think that they would have held it, you don‘t think that they would have rushed it on in the desire to be the ones to break the story?

KOHN:  Well, I would agree the report refuses to take the position that there was liberal bias as motivation for what happened here, but if you take a look at the evidence, there were four experts who told them that they could not authenticate the documents.  Two of them expressed reservations that they don‘t think the documents are authenticate.  They call this guy, Bill Burkett, an unimpeachable source.

ABRAMS:  They blew it...

KOHN:  Then...

KALB:  They blew it in terms of...

KOHN:  Wait.  They blew it, but you take a look at all these things, they called the Kerry campaign.  Look, if the tables were turned and this was about—something about John Kerry just a couple of weeks before the elections and all of these issues were raised, do you think Mary Mapes and Dan Rather would have allowed this to get on the air?  No.  I think they...

(CROSSTALK)

KOHN:  ... wanted this story to be true.  No, they wanted this to be true, Marvin.  I just...

KALB:  No, no, I think, Bob...

KOHN:  ... there‘s no...

KALB:  ... you‘re absolutely right, they might have wanted the story to be true, but they would have gone with the story on Kerry.  They went with the story on Bush because they thought it was red hot, dramatic, the kind of story that would get ratings.  Yes...

(CROSSTALK)

KALB:  ... they went with it but that‘s not political bias and you know that.

KOHN:  I—well, I think it absolutely is.

(CROSSTALK)

KOHN:  I absolutely wouldn‘t have gone with the story if it was about...

ABRAMS:  But Bob, you don‘t have any evidence.  I mean this is just a sense, right?

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  The bottom line is it‘s just—you‘re saying...

KOHN:  I agree.

ABRAMS:  Right.  OK.

KOHN:  You have Dan Rather and Mary Mapes both told the panel that they weren‘t—have any political motivations whatsoever, OK, and you know, but I think...

ABRAMS:  Of course they said that though.  I mean...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... that‘s not a surprise, right...

KOHN:  It‘s not a surprise and I don‘t think it‘s a surprise that the panel didn‘t conclude it because I really don‘t think they wanted to go there.  I mean this gets in to all kinds of issues...

ABRAMS:  I don‘t know—they went...

KOHN:  ... but I think...

ABRAMS:  ... but they went there.  They went there.  They specifically had a whole section on it and they addressed the specific question.  They went there.

KOHN:  And they came pretty darn close to saying—they certainly said there was an appearance of political bias.  They came pretty close to saying it, but you know...

KALB:  The easiest thing in the world to do is to accuse the media of liberal bias.

ABRAMS:  Yes, yes...

KALB:  It‘s the easiest thing in the world.

KOHN:  It‘s not that easy to do...

KALB:  I mean whether it has anything to do with reality or not, accuse them of liberal bias and you got it made.

ABRAMS:  Let me ask Marvin Kalb another question.  This is something that I was struck by in the report—it‘s number 11 here.  Rather told the panel that he delivered the apology in support of CBS News‘ decision that the time had come to stop defending the segment and indeed to disown it.  He told the panel, however, that he did not fully agree with this decision and still believes that the content of the documents is accurate.  What do you make of that?

KALB:  What I make of it is that Dan believes, because he said he believes it, and I trust him.  He‘s a very honorable guy.  Dan believes that the kernel of the story is accurate.  That somehow or another, George Bush used his political influence in order not to go to Vietnam, in order to get a better deal, a deal that other people could not have got.  Dan believes that it is core and it may very well be accurate.

KOHN:  Marvin, you should know better.  There‘s no story without the documents.  Dan Rather, you know...

KALB:  No, no, there is a story without the documents.

KOHN:  No, the panel says very specifically...

KALB:  The story could be documented without documents.

KOHN:  Yes, it‘s just conjecture without the documents...

KALB:  You can have people...

(CROSSTALK)

KALB:  You can have people who are sources.

ABRAMS:  Let Bob finish.  Go ahead Bob...

KOHN:  Yes, yes, Dan, the panel was very troubled when Dan Rather said that he disavowed the apology that he made...

ABRAMS:  Right.

KOHN:  ... on the air.  I think that that‘s very troubling to everybody.  You know, Dan Rather frankly, I mean, you know, I think the guy deserves some mercy here.  I mean here‘s a guy over the next 60 days...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

KOHN:  ... has got to go in front of the public after this very damning report.  That may be punishment enough, OK...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

KOHN:  But on the other hand, the other side of me says they‘re giving him a retirement package that includes allowing him to continue to work for “60 Minutes.”  I think that at the end of March when he‘s off the air, finished with his anchor, CBS should say OK Dan, we‘re putting you out to pasture given the fact that you‘re not willing to apologize, not willing to admit that these are forged documents, really shows an arrogance that just can‘t allow—there‘s no appearance of any objectivity in your working for “60 Minutes”...

ABRAMS:  All right, Marvin, final 10 seconds.

KALB:  The final 10 seconds is that Dan Rather has been at this now for almost 50 years.  You don‘t hang somebody because one story was wrong.  Remember the hundreds that he did right.

ABRAMS:  Yes, yes...

KOHN:  Yes.

KALB:  Dan Rather is a first class reporter.

KOHN:  And I wouldn‘t kick him while he‘s on the ground either frankly...

KALB:  Well you‘re doing a good job of it.

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAMS:  Marvin Kalb and Bob Kohn...

KOHN:  He has his job.

ABRAMS:  ... thanks a lot for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

KALB:  OK.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, tonight at 9:00 Eastern on MSNBC, a special edition of “HARDBALL”.  You can see more of my interviews with Leslie Moonves, Dick Thornburgh and Louis Boccardi at that time.  You can find all 224 pages of the report on our Web site, abramsreport@msnbc.com.

Coming up, Amber Frey was Scott Peterson‘s girlfriend, one of the most important witnesses at his trial.  Two years since they first met.  Now she‘s speaking out about their romance, how her life has been changed.  She‘s here.  She‘s live.  She‘ll be answering some of your e-mails and my questions.  She‘s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Amber Frey, when we met her almost two years ago, she announced to the world that she knew Scott Peterson.  She knew him, had a romantic relationship with him.  Same man who now sits on death row in California, convicted of killing his wife Laci and their unborn son Conner.  Amber was considered by many to be the prosecution‘s key witness in the trial.  Jurors heard countless taped conversations between Amber and Scott, and now we‘re learning even more.  In her book “Witness for the Prosecution of Scott Peterson,” Amber explains how she became involved in Scott‘s web of lies.  Has she forgiven him?  Can she forgive him?  Where does she go from here?

Joining me now are Amber Frey and her attorney Gloria Allred.  Thanks a lot for coming in.  It‘s good to finally meet you in person.  I talk about you all the time on TV—to have you actually sitting here.  We only have a little time for this segment, then we‘re going to come back, have the back half-hour on it.  So let me ask you that question, forgiveness.  Forgiven Scott Peterson?

AMBER FREY, SCOTT PETERSON‘S EX-GIRLFRIEND:  Yes, I have.

ABRAMS:  And you had to, you wrote in your book.

FREY:  I had to.  I had to in order to move on with my life and move forward, yes.

ABRAMS:  And the anger, I mean you know, there had got to be so much anger at Scott.  I mean, from the moment you find out first of all that he‘s married, OK, get angry about that, then you find out, no, not only is he married, but his wife is missing and he‘s going to drag me into this.

FREY:  Right.

ABRAMS:  There must have been anger there.

FREY:  Of course, I‘d be lying if I said...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

FREY:  ... there wasn‘t.

ABRAMS:  Furious.  I mean do you remember the first moment when you found out that he was married?

FREY:  You know, I really don‘t believe at that point I was angry.  I was just more in shock.

ABRAMS:  Stunned?

FREY:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  Because you thought this was a great guy.  All right, you know what?  Stick around—just do this for a minute.  I want to say hello to you.  Gloria, hi.

GLORIA ALLRED, AMBER FREY‘S ATTORNEY:  Hi Dan.

ABRAMS:  Good to see you.

ALLRED:  You too.

ABRAMS:  You guys are going to stick around because when we come back, we‘ve got a half an hour.  Talk to Gloria and to Amber Frey.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, Amber Frey is here to talk about her relationship with Scott Peterson, her decision to work with police, her testimony at his trial, her life since then.  First the headlines.

(NEWS BREAK)

ABRAMS:  I‘m back with Amber Frey and her attorney Gloria Allred.

All right, Amber, so you start dating Scott Peterson, you‘ve been dating him for a few weeks or so.  What starts to make you a little suspicious?

FREY:  Probably the time for me would have been when he was giving me a P.O. box number to send him mail overseas.  And it was a P.O. box number to Modesto.

ABRAMS:  He said he lived in Sacramento, right?

FREY:  Right.

ABRAMS:  He claims he‘s going on some wild trip to Europe for work, et cetera, and you want to mail him stuff.

FREY:  Right.

ABRAMS:  And he‘s saying, well you know, I have a P.O. box in Modesto.

FREY:  Well, I knew his business was out of Modesto and he said he had a warehouse there and just, you know, just didn‘t make sense to me, why would you have—I just didn‘t understand a via carrier service that would box up his mail and send it to him wherever he was at.  It just never—it just didn‘t sound right to me.

ABRAMS:  And the way you actually found out about Scott Peterson was not by seeing the newspapers or reading about it, but it was because of your suspicions, right?

FREY:  Yes, I believe so, it was.  Yes.

ABRAMS:  So you called some friends of yours.  You‘re saying you know, I‘m starting to get—I‘m starting to wonder about this guy.

FREY:  Right.

ABRAMS:  I don‘t buy this guy‘s story, right?

FREY:  Right.

ABRAMS:  And then what happens?

FREY:  Well, the previous day before I actually learned about Scott Peterson, I was on the Internet and I couldn‘t find anything, you know, with his business, with the Rotary Club, I just couldn‘t find anything on him, which was really even more surprising considering all the—all that was out there about him.  And not until the next day, you know, early morning, you know, on the 30th, did I, you know, get another—or get a call saying you know, I believe it‘s your Scott Peterson, you need to call the Modesto, you know, police, I‘m going to give you a number.

ABRAMS:  Right.  So at this point you‘re finding out not only is your boyfriend married...

FREY:  Right.

ABRAMS:  ... but his wife is missing.

FREY:  Right.  And previous, you know, earlier in that December, he was telling me he had lost his wife and you know, it would be the first holidays without her, so you know, all these thoughts...

ABRAMS:  Did that hit you right away?  Did you think—the minute you found out, this guy, he says apparently his wife is missing, did you think back right away and say to yourself, wait a second...

FREY:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  ... this guy told me before all this happened that his wife was missing.

FREY:  Right.  And I talk about those in the transcripts that so many people have heard.

ABRAMS:  And did that make you think, maybe this guy is responsible?

FREY:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  Right from the beginning.

FREY:  Well, he had been telling me he was, you know, in Europe, but the thing was he told me all of those things on our first date, that he was going to be on, you know, on a trip traveling, and—so he just kind of—he laid it out for me.  So to know that that was just this whole facade really even more just was really bizarre and unbelievable to me.

ABRAMS:  I‘m going to play some of the tape in a minute, which have always sort of stunned me, but you agreed to tape your conversations.  You called the police and they said look, we‘d like you to tape the conversations.  Some people have said did she do it out of anger, meaning let‘s assume for a moment that he was a suspect in a murder and yet he wasn‘t married, do you think you still would have cooperated?

FREY:  If I think...

ABRAMS:  Let‘s say...

FREY:  If he was a suspect?

ABRAMS:  ... you heard that Scott Peterson, the guy you knew, was a suspect in a murder but it had nothing to do with his wife, never had a wife, and so you wouldn‘t have had that anger towards him for lying to you about his relationship, do you think you still would have been just as willing to help?

FREY:  If there was information that I had that may you know, help assist law enforcement, yes.

ABRAMS:  It wasn‘t out of anger, sort of the jilted woman that you went to the police and you said I‘m going to get him back?

FREY:  No.  Absolutely not.

ABRAMS:  Let me play this piece of tape.  This is right around the time of Laci‘s vigil and Scott Peterson is in Modesto, California, and this is one of the first conversations that Amber Frey is taping.  Let‘s listen.

(BEGIN AUDIOTAPE)

FREY:  How was your New Year‘s Eve?

SCOTT PETERSON, FOUND GUILTY OF MURDER:  It‘s good.  I‘m just—everyone‘s in the bar now so I came out in an alley, a quite alley.  Isn‘t that nice?

FREY:  Yes, it is.  I can hear you.

(LAUGHTER)

FREY:  Very good.

PETERSON:  It‘s pretty awesome.  Fireworks there at the Eiffel Tower, a mass of people playing American pop songs.

(END AUDIOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  So you know at this point that he‘s making this stuff up, right?  You know he‘s in Modesto...

FREY:  Right.

ABRAMS:  ... making sounds on the phone, making it sound like he‘s in Paris at the Eiffel Tower.  Did you want to just say you liar—did—I mean was it hard for you to resist screaming at him on the phone?

FREY:  You know I knew what was going on.  I knew the reality.  I knew the importance of me not, so you know, I just had to keep on with this whole facade along with him and...

ABRAMS:  Are you thinking are you kidding me?

FREY:  Oh absolutely.  As soon as I‘d get off the phone, I‘d be calling Detective Jon Buehler and just, you know, I was scared.  I thought, are you kidding me?  This guy is—it‘s just completely unbelievable.

ABRAMS:  When you were making these tapes, did you ever think the world would hear these conversations or did you still think of them even though the police were listening as kind of intimate conversations?

FREY:  You know, I understood that, but for me to change who I was to him and how we already were together in our conversations, you know, I felt and they felt that was important for me just to continue, but into the entirety that they have been played, no, not even in court did I even realize that they were going to be, you know, public—I mean that anybody could you know, listen to them.

ABRAMS:  Were you embarrassed?

FREY:  I was embarrassed.

ABRAMS:  Why?  I mean you knew you were being taped.  What was so embarrassing for you?

FREY:  Well just that I didn‘t know that so many people were going to hear these tapes.  I thought, OK, these tapes are going to be used for, you know, the police, and that they may use them in court, but into the entirety that they were, no, and you know, I had reassurance from, you know, Gloria and other people from law enforcement that the only person that should be embarrassed is Scott, and I do agree with them, but it still didn‘t make it any easier for me to have to listen to them again.

ABRAMS:  Very quickly before this break, Gloria, the question so many people ask is why did Amber hire an attorney.  Tell us about Amber hiring you.

ALLRED:  Well actually Dan, I think it‘s a really good idea for anyone who is a witness in a high-profile case to consult a private attorney because then she can be in a confidential relationship, she can talk about her feelings, her concerns, her needs without worrying that it‘s going to go to the tabloid.

ABRAMS:  And she reached out to you, right?  I mean...

ALLRED:  Absolutely.

ABRAMS:  ... you didn‘t solicit the business.

ALLRED:  I never have in 28 years of law practice...

ABRAMS:  Right, but you know that people have asked that question, right?

ALLRED:  Well people ask, but no, she contacted me.  But in addition to being able to talk to someone, her reputation was being attacked.  False statements were being made about her and it was very important to be able to have someone to set the record straight as she went along because at the end, she could have been ruined, so I‘m very happy that she reached out, that she got some guidance through the criminal justice system, and I wanted to help her because she was doing the right thing, and I thought the least I could do was to support her...

ABRAMS:  Let me take a quick break.  Remember the Diane Sawyer interview, Scott Peterson talked about—minimized pooh-poohed his relationship with Amber Frey?  How did she feel about that?  We‘ll talk about that coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DIANE SAWYER, CO-ANCHOR, “GOOD MORNING AMERICA”:  Do you really expect people to believe that an eight and a half month pregnant woman learns her husband is having an affair and distinctly and casual about it, accommodating, makes a peace with it?

PETERSON:  Well, yes.  I mean you don‘t know—no one knows our relationship but us.  And that‘s—at peace with it, not happy about it.

SAWYER:  Were you in love with her?

PETERSON:  No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Back with me are Amber Frey and her attorney Gloria Allred.  Now Amber, you were already taping your conversations at this point with Scott Peterson.  You already knew that he was, you know, a liar and all this...

FREY:  Right.

ABRAMS:  ... at this point and yet it‘s still I think—were you still—on the tapes it sounds like you‘re kind of insulted a little bit that he‘s sort of out there minimizing your relationship.  Were you really insulted or were you just playing along for the tape?

FREY:  Well you know, it was just almost humorous to me to watch them and to listen to him and I just wanted to hear his response and then, you know, there was just more lies.  He said well, you know, they cut it off because they said so many other things after that, and you know, I was advised to just say no and—so it sound—so it was just more of his personality and just trying to warm things I guess.

ABRAMS:  Was part of you believing—let‘s get number 11 ready—was part of you believing this as it was—any of what he was saying as he was talking to you, did you want to believe like little nuggets of what he was saying to you or were you just done?

FREY:  You mean...

ABRAMS:  At this point, January—late January, early February, it‘s been a month of taping conversations.

FREY:  Right.  As far as anything between him and I...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

FREY:  ... I was done.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right.

FREY:  I was done as soon as I learned that, you know, the truth of Scott Peterson.

ABRAMS:  Let me play this tape.  I think this is the piece of tape that was played in court where you, you know, got a little bit emotional in court.  Let me play the tape and let‘s listen. 

(BEGIN AUDIOTAPE)

FREY:  And you know it‘s just, it‘s just a reoccurring pattern of my life of being (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and (EXPLETIVE DELETED) again.  You know when I told you that Dave lying to me about his wife dying, why couldn‘t you have even told me then?

PETERSON:  Yes.

(END AUDIOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Seemed like real emotion.

FREY:  Oh, absolutely.

ABRAMS:  And your reaction in court, I remember seeing you get a little teary eyed as that was played.

FREY:  There were several, you know, moments of listening to our conversations that I become—became emotional.

ABRAMS:  Because it was real.  Because it wasn‘t just that you were just feeding questions that the police were giving to you?

FREY:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  How involved were they, the police in the questioning.

FREY:  You know, really quite limited.  There was, you know, the time when I was at the Modesto Police Department and sitting in there that—right—during those three days, you know, they had made suggestions, but other than that, there may have been conversations between Detective Jon Buehler and I that we discussed, you know, conversations, but other than that, I was pretty much on my own.

ABRAMS:  You then decided on your own to cut off the conversation—the taping.  You were like look, I don‘t want to deal with this anymore.  You called the police.  You said look, I want to stop taping these conversations.  I want to tell him I didn‘t want to talk to him anymore.  You told him, he was like, oh, yes, fine, good idea.  I‘m glad that you brought it up, blah, blah, blah, but then he called you after that.

FREY:  Well it was discussed between, again, Detective Jon Buehler and I that, you know, that time was coming and so I called him early morning and at that point when I did give that conversation or that tape—that last taping, that wasn‘t the last time I heard from Scott Peterson.

ABRAMS:  When—what happened?  He called you after that?

FREY:  My daughter‘s birthday was I think the next day and Scott had sent a gift to where I worked and then he had called to see if I got it and...

ABRAMS:  Right.

FREY:  ... and so he had called that time and then again I talked to Detective Jon Buehler that he had called and then he called again and so at that point I just—I had made a suggestion to e-mail me.  At least that way I had something I...

ABRAMS:  Right.

FREY:  ... could download and turn over versus just...

ABRAMS:  Right.

FREY:  ... him continuing to call.

ALLRED:  Dan, this is what‘s so interesting, because I know you were in court, I was there when Mark Geragos tried to make it seem as though when Amber said don‘t call me anymore and Scott said fine on the tape...

ABRAMS:  Right.

ALLRED:  ... that he was just fine with it when obviously he was continuing the relationship...

ABRAMS:  Right.

ALLRED:  ... with her even after that.

ABRAMS:  Very quickly.  The defense characterized your relationship as purely sexual.  You know, all Scott wanted was to get a little something from Amber and that‘s what this was all about.  Did that irritate you, hurt you, anger you that Scott was probably providing them this information?

FREY:  Oh, it‘s irritating, but did it affect me?  I don‘t think it affected me.

ABRAMS:  We‘re going to take a quick break here.  When we come back, Amber Frey, Gloria Allred going to stick around and take your e-mails.  Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, you‘ve been writing in for weeks.  Amber Frey responds to your questions when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Back with me, Amber Frey and her attorney Gloria Allred. 

Going to go right to your e-mails.

Lori Adcock from Michigan.  “Amber, what will you tell your daughter about this when she‘s old enough to understand?”

FREY:  You know, fortunately, she will have my book to read and when she reaches that age of maturity, but only the truth.

ABRAMS:  Moe writes, “Amber, at the beginning of the investigation, was there any moment that you had doubts that Scott had been framed or was not guilty of the murder?”

FREY:  Well that wasn‘t for me to decide.  That was, you know, in the hands of law enforcement...

ABRAMS:  But you must have had opinions.  I mean any personal opinions that—was there any point where you said to yourself, you know what, I think he really might not have done it.

FREY:  That wasn‘t for me to decide, you know.

ABRAMS:  Becky Hammond, “I‘d like to know what she plans to do with the money she makes from this book.  I would hope she will establish some type of trust for battered women, a scholarship fund, or donate the bulk of it to her favorite charity in Laci and Conner‘s memory.”

FREY:  Yes, regard to that question, I feel that donations or charity-type funds are something done privately, not publicly.

ALLRED:  Also, she‘s lost a lot of income from work, helping law enforcement, preparing for the trial, testifying at the trial.

ABRAMS:  Is it fair to say that any of the money will be going to charity?

FREY:  Again, I feel that‘s very private.

ABRAMS:  OK.  Joseph Barnes, “Do you still have feelings for Scott?”

FREY:  No.

ABRAMS:  None.  I have got a couple more questions.

FREY:  OK.

ABRAMS:  ... I‘m sorry.  I had to go through your questions quickly.  Can you go back to being a massage therapist?  I mean you talk in your book about how much you like doing it...

FREY:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  ... but you know I‘ve got to believe some people are going to go in and say I want to go get a massage from Amber Frey.  I mean are you concerned about that?

FREY:  You know, I‘ve been fortunate that I haven‘t had people—at least I don‘t feel coming in for, you know, for that reason.  People that have came to me are, you know...

ABRAMS:  Long time clients...

FREY:  Well either that or referrals.  That‘s the word I was looking for.

(CROSSTALK)

FREY:  But yes, I would more than anything, you know, that‘s—I will continue doing that.  I enjoy what I do.

ABRAMS:  In the long shot event that Scott Peterson won his appeal, he gets a new trial, would you be willing to testify again?

FREY:  If there‘s an appeal.

ABRAMS:  If he wins the appeal.  He gets a new trial.  Let‘s say the judge says Scott Peterson you get a new trial.  Would you be willing to testify again?  Again against him?

FREY:  Well this is new for me.  I don‘t know how the legal, you know, how that all works.  So...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

FREY:  ... if I was—if that is what I‘m...

ABRAMS:  Asked to do...

FREY:  ... asked to do then...

ABRAMS:  ... you would do it.  How hard was it to sit across from Scott Peterson in court?

FREY:  You know, I was there for one purpose and that was to give truthful testimony and I did.  So aside from anything else in regards to Scott Peterson sitting in the courtroom...

ABRAMS:  Did you try not to look at him?

FREY:  You know, first of all, he wasn‘t the same Scott Peterson that I had first met.

ABRAMS:  He was just the defendant at that point, right?

FREY:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  That must be so odd.  Amber Frey, thank you very much for joining us.  The book is “Witness for the Prosecution of Scott Peterson”.  It‘s Amber‘s book.  Gloria Allred, as always, great to see you.

ALLRED:  You too Dan.

ABRAMS:  Good luck to both of you.

FREY:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, forget the “but officer, I only had one drink” line.  Wait until you hear the excuse one woman used when she failed her breathalyzer test.  It worked.  We‘re back with our “OH PLEAs!” segment in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Our “OH PLEAs!” segment.  If you ever get pulled over for drunk driving, try this excuse out.  No officer, I wasn‘t drinking, I just ate brandy-filled chocolate.  You know, I ate a whole box.  Martha Hamlin of Averill Park, New York arrested in 2003 for driving under the influence.  She had been under house arrest during her appeal and part of her probation prohibits her from drinking.

So when Hamlin failed the scheduled breath test, she was hauled back into court.  Her explanation, that she ate a box of liquor-filled chocolates and that‘s what caused alcohol to show up in her system.  Guess what?  The judge bought it, agreeing that two pounds of certain chocolate, two pounds could contain the equivalent of four shots of 80 proof liquor.  The judge modified Hamlin‘s bail condition.  She is not allowed to eat candy that contains liquor.  She might want to stay away from rum raisin ice cream and beer battered onion rings as well.  That does it for us tonight.

Thanks for watching.  Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  And at 9:00, a special edition of “HARDBALL”, looks at the CBS report.  You can see more of my interview with CBS President Les Moonves and the men who wrote the report.

I‘ll see you tomorrow.

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

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