Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow devoted much of their MSNBC shows last night to the assassination of George Tiller. Maddow actually led with a headshot of Michael Griffin, the first abortion-doctor murderer, who killed Dr. David Gunn in Pensacola, Florida in 1993. She then moved on to copycat Shelley Shannon, who wrote letters of support for Griffin shortly before she shot George Tiller in both arms, an ominous foreboding of his murder 16 years later.
Maddow could have called on a colleague with first-hand knowledge of the Griffin case — Joe Scarborough, the folksy host of the network’s Morning Joe and Griffin’s pro-bono lawyer in 1993. A Voice cover story in 2008 examined in great detail Scarborough’s role in the case, as well as the singular impact his exploitation of the abortion issue had in Scarborough’s 1994 initial election to Congress.
So what might his colleagues have learned about defending abortion-doc killers from Morning Joe? Well….
Scarborough’s hometown of Pensacola — where his show once frequently originated — was the site of the first two abortion murders, the second also occurring during his first run for Congress in 1994. A raw 30-year-old, Scarborough’s surprising Republican win was principally funded by anti-abortion groups and he immediately went to Washington and voted against bills to protect abortion clinics, including one version sponsored by a Republican congressmen.
Griffin handwrote the Voice two long letters last year after we contacted him in prison, describing in depth his relationship with Scarborough. While Scarborough tried to minimize his ties in an interview, claiming he was merely doing “a favor for a friend” and briefly searching for a lawyer who’d take the case to trial, Griffin detailed Scarborough’s efforts to stay on the case and work with the trail attorney. The court record itself shows that Scarborough told the judge he was prepared to try the case, and that he represented Griffin for nearly three months. Scarborough claimed that his then father-in-law was a friend of Griffin’s father and that’s why he did it, but neither would get on the phone and confirm that (not that it’s much of an explanation.) Griffin’s father contributed twice to Scarborough’s campaign — $200 apiece.
Oddly, though Olbermann, Maddow, and Chris Matthews all did major segments on the killing of Tiller, Morning Joe hasn’t. Scarborough hasn’t been called to account for it by anyone else on his network, and has never told his audience why he did it and how he feels about it now.
Research credit: Tom Feeney Jr., Jane C. Timm