Jan 1 2011

Pictures at an Execution Panel

Philly police harass journos at Mumia hearing

Security was tight at the Philadelphia Federal Courthouse for a November 9 hearing by the Third Circuit Appeals Court to consider the death sentence of local journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, whose 1982 conviction for the murder of a Philadelphia police officer has been widely questioned (Extra!, 11-12/95; Extra! Update, 2/99). Some 500 demonstrators calling for Abu-Jamal’s freedom were on the sidewalk outside the courthouse, and U.S. Marshals and officers from the Federal Protective Service had erected two parallel rows of metal gates to separate the crowd from the building, and to create an enclosed “cattle chute” to funnel spectators into the […]

Apr 1 2006

Philly Papers Defend Non-Coverage of Mumia Victory

Late in the day on Monday, December 5, 2005, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia issued a surprise ruling in the appeal of Pennsylvania’s most famous prisoner: Philadelphia journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, who has been on the state’s death row for 24 years, following his conviction for the murder of white Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner in December 1981. The ruling stated that Abu-Jamal would be granted the right to appeal his conviction on not just one but three separate grounds. This came after a federal district judge, in 2001, had ruled against Abu-Jamal on all 20 of his […]

Sep 1 2000

Hometown Hostility

The Philadelphia Inquirer vs. Mumia Abu-Jamal

Antioch College’s commencement for the class of 2000 featured a taped speech by death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted in a highly questionable 1981 trial of murdering a Philadelphia police officer. (See Extra!, 11-12/95.) The Ohio college’s graduation events also included a teach-in by supporters of Abu-Jamal and an organized police protest. Although the selection of a condemned prisoner as speaker was surely the most notable and unusual feature of the event, the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s coverage focused on the police protest, with the front-page article (4/30/00) headlined “Speech Met with Silent Protests” and an accompanying picture of Maureen Faulkner, widow of […]

Aug 11 1999

The Media & Mumia: Were ABC and Vanity Fair Taken for a Ride?

Vanity Fair's piece on Mumia Abu-Jamal

Two mainstream news outlets reported on the case of Pennsylvania death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal, claiming to present new evidence pointing to Abu-Jamal’s guilt. But the evidence that both outlets rely on–testimony of a supposed confession made eight years ago–is questionable on its face, and an old letter that has subsequently surfaced suggests that this star witness is lying about Abu-Jamal. The major news in both ABC 20/20‘s July 11 broadcast and the August 1999 issue of Vanity Fair is the testimony of Philip Bloch, a former prison volunteer who now claims to have heard Abu-Jamal confess to the 1981 […]

Feb 1 1999

Sam Donaldson: Hanging Judge

In a statement published the day that ABC‘s 20/20 aired his report on the case, Sam Donaldson called for the death of death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal. “Everything that we looked at compellingly points to the fact that Mumia shot [Philadelphia police officer Daniel] Faulkner in cold blood . . . and was convicted properly, and was sentenced according to the laws of the state of Pennsylvania,” Donaldson told the Philadelphia Inquirer (12/9/98). “And as far as I’m concerned, as long as it’s on the books, the death sentence has to be carried out.” FAIR supporters and other activists had […]

Dec 9 1998

ABC’s Abu-Jamal Segment Airs Tonight

Sam Donaldson calls for inmate's execution, calls supporters ignorant

On August 14, FAIR asked media activists to write to ABC News producer Harry Phillips concerning a special segment Phillips was preparing about death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal. Noting FAIR’s criticism of biased coverage of Abu-Jamal’s case over the years, media activists wrote to Phillips to express their hopes for a fair, balanced account of his controversial case. On Wednesday, December 9, ABC is scheduled to air the segment about Abu-Jamal on 20/20. Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Jennifer Weiner interviewed ABC‘s Sam Donaldson about the matter. Her article, appearing in the December 9 issue of the paper, includes the following quote […]

Nov 1 1995

Witness for the Prosecution

NPR Slants the Case Against Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia Abu-Jamal (cc photo: dubdem sound system)

After attacks from police groups, National Public Radio quickly backed away from its plan to air commentaries by Pennsylvania death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal. Abu-Jamal, an African-American journalist, received a death sentence after being convicted in the December 1981 shooting death of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner–in a trial marred by gross procedural errors. NPR vice president Bill Buzenberg explained the 1994 decision not to air Abu-Jamal by saying it was “not appropriate to use someone in the commentator’s role who is the focal point of a highly polarized and political controversy without at the same time providing the context […]

Aug 1 1995

Mumia Abu-Jamal: Silenced on Death Row

A Washington Post feature article on death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal begins with a chilling anecdote: There is an image from Mumia Abu-Jamal’s trial that stays with Maureen Faulkner, even now, 13 years later. Abu-Jamal was charged with killing Faulkner’s husband, Daniel, a 25-year-old Philadelphia policeman, by shooting him first in the back and then pumping four bullets into his prone body. When the ballistics expert held up her husband’s bloody shirt to display the bullet holes, Abu-Jamal, seated at the defense table, turned around and looked at Maureen Faulkner. “He smiled at me,” she says. Later in the article, […]