By JEFF MACKLER
An $85,000 full-page unsigned ad calling for the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal appeared on the back page of the Sunday, June 14, 1998, New York Times, “Week in Review” section. Paid for by “Justice For P/O Daniel Faulkner, Inc.(Faulkner is the Philadelphia police officer Mumia Abu-Jamal is falsely accused of murdering), the ad concludes with a tribute to its unnamed sponsors, “Because of your commitment to law enforcement throughout our nation, Daniel Faulkner and every peace officier who has given his or her life in the line of duty is honored and remembered.”
The ad reproduces carefully selected portions of the transcript of 1982 frameup trial of Abu-Jamal. It omits all references to the subsequent 1995, 1996, and 1997 trial transcripts where evidence refuting Mumia Abu-Jamal’s frameup conviction is documented in detail.
Moreover, the timing of the ad was more than a coincidence. It followed a KGO- TV Channel 7, two-part, 12-minute “hit piece” on Abu-Jamal produced by Tim Beacham. Before coming to KGO, Beacham was a journalist based in Philadelphia, the scene of Faulkner’s murder and the site of the frame-up trial of Abu-Jamal. KGO-TV is the ABC-TV/Disney Channel affiliate in the Northern California Bay Area. The Beacham/ABC assault on the truth is based on the same selected material found in the New York Times ad. Both originate from the web site maintained by Jamal’s police persecutors and their associates.
Beacham’s lynch mob variety of journalism was aired as a “special report,” May 7 and 8, 1998, on ABC’s 6:00 PM news program. In preparatiion for his piece Beacham interviewed on camera for two hours this writer, who is the Co- Coordinator of the Northern California-based Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu- Jamal. Beacham spent an additional two hours discussing the case with me during phone interviews. He also interviewed, on camera, Mumia’s chief counsel, Leonard Weinglass, and actor Mike Farrell, the Co-Chair of the Committee to Save Mumia Abu-Jamal. The result was perhaps 30-seconds of edited “news bytes” designed to present Mumia’s supporters as either uninformed and/or dishonest.
Beacham initially approached me some six months ago. He indicated that his central objective was to learn, “Why, 3,000 miles from the home of Mumia Abu- Jamal was there so much public support for his case?” His public answer to this question was that Mumia’s advocates, myself included, had duped an unaware public with lies, half truths and distortions.
We presented Beacham with detailed material on the case including the award- winning film, “Mumia Abu-Jamal: A Case for Reasonable Doubt,” a video with additional information including a comprehensive presentation of the case by Leonard Weinglass, a detailed fact sheet, and finally, extensive personal interviews. Beacham brought a TV camera crew to tape a local meeting of the coalition attended by 50 supporters.
Finally, Beacham was referred to the 300-page legal brief filed by Mr. Weinglass on Mumia’s behalf and to the transcripts of all the court hearings. He told this writer that he had not read any of this material.A review of the five and seven minute broadcasts produced by Beacham on the eve of the May 8 and 9 Oakland and Palo Alto public events entitled, Mumia Abu-Jamal: A Public Commission of Inquiry,” reveals his incredible bias. He disregarded virtually all the factual material at hand. Except for a perfunctory appearance at the Palo Alto Commission of Inquiry to obtain yet another “news byte,” he declined to attend the three hour presentation of the case from sources as varied as a justice of the Supreme Court of Denmark, Per Walso, to Jama’ls attorney, etc. It is fair to say that Beacham was fully aware, or at least had the opportunity to discover, that his script represented an egregious departure from the facts and truth in the case.
As with the New York Times ad, virtually every “fact” offered by Beacham has been either refuted by the 1982 court record itself and/or by the subsequent court hearings held in 1995, 1996 and 1997.
Socialist Action reprints in this issue an article entitled, “The KGO-TV Report: A Case Study in Irresponsible Journalism.” The authors, C. Clark Kissinger and Leonard Weinglass, leaders in the struggle for Jamal’s freedom, demonstrate in detail the total lack of fairness and accuracy in Beacham’s script. Their article also fully refutes the New York Times ad, based as it is on the same discredited material relied on by Beacham.
Supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal have begun plans to counter the lies perpetrated in the nation’s mass media.
The Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal has demanded a retraction and apology from ABC as well as a public debate on the case. They are preparing a public demonstration at ABC offices in San Francisco, to be co-sponsored by a broad range of civil, human rights, labor and church-based groups as well as organizations specializing in honest journalism.
Nationally, a united effort is underway to place a full-page ad in The New York Times responding to the cop-sponsored unsigned ad of June 14. Supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal have noted that both the ABC and New York Times ad “hit pieces” chose as their central targets, “uninformed Hollywood celebrities and California legislators” who, they claim, have been unwary victims of the “misinformation” spread by Abu-Jamal’s supports. In addition to the mounting support for a new trial from these quarters, Mumia’s support now extends to legislators across Europe and to scores of members of the European Parliament.
The International Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal has set the July 4th weekend for Freedom Day demonstrations for Mumia’s freedom in Philadelphia. Contact: 215-476-8812 for further information.
For the complete text, write to: The Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, 3425 Cesar Chavez Street, San Francisco, CA. 94110, or call 415-821-0459.