Framing an Execution: ABC News and the Case of Mumia Abu Jamal
Sut Jhally and Danny Glover (2001)
This 2001 documentary concerns the hatchet job ABC did in their 20/20 feature on Mumia Abu Jamal. In the late nineties, a number of Hollywood celebrities, including Whoopi Goldberg, Ed Asner and Mike Farrell, brought substantial mainstream media attention to Mumia’s 30+ year battle to win a new trial. In 1999 the West Coast longshoremen’s union shut down ports from San Diego to Canada to support a new trial for the embattled activist.
When Framing an Execution was first released in 2001, Mumia was still on death row. In 2011, the death sentence would be commuted to life imprisonment.
The intro to ABC 2001 20/20 feature on Mumia is shockingly bloodthirsty in its contention that only the immediate execution of a Black man (already on death row for 20 years) could possibly bring peace of mind to the grieving widow of slain Philadelphia cop Daniel Faulkner.
The 20/20 program also deliberately omits and/or distorts crucial defense evidence. It also carefully edits statements by Ed Asner, Mike Farrel and Mumia’s attorney Leonard Weinglass to make them seem uninformed, irrational and deliberately evasive.
Evidence had already emerged in appellate hearings that the police coerced seven witnesses who saw someone other than Mumia shoot Faulkner to change their testimony. They also dropped three outstanding charges against the prosecution’s star witness, prostitute Cynthia White, to reward her for incriminating Mumia in the murder.
The other main weaknesses in Mumia’s conviction are the absence of ballistics evidence (there is no evidence showing Mumia fired a gun at the scene nor that the bullet that killed Faulkner came from his gun) and the alleged confession he made while recovering from critical gunshot wounds. The doctor who attended him continuously in the emergency room and intensive care maintains maintains he was barely conscious and didn’t speak at all during this entire period.
Framing an Execution was filmed a few months before Arnold Beverley confessed, via video (below) and sworn affidavit to being hired, with a friend, to murder Faulkner. According to Beverley, the Mob hired them to kill Faulkner due to his crusading efforts to root out police corruption.
In April this year, Mumia finally won the right to have his appeal reheard in the Philadelphia Supreme Court.
In July, he won the right to continue his lawsuit against prison authorities for denying him antiviral treatment for his hepatitis C.
In September the prosecutor’s office “miraculously” discovered a box of suppressed evidence related to police witness tampering in a janitor’s closet.