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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Gonzales Resigns; Michael Vick Admits Guilt; Senator Larry Craig Fined For Disorderly Conduct
Aired August 27, 2007 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks so much for being with us.
And want to show you three of the big stories that we are going to keying in on.
All right. We're going to start with Michael Vick. Exactly how many millions is Michael Vick going to be losing? We're going to break it down for you.
Also, is he being punished for being a rich athlete who happens to be black? That's the elephant in the room that a lot of people are afraid to talk about. We're going to bring it out in the open.
Also, Alberto Gonzales, he is gone. Was he to begin with in over his head? You are going to hear from the first very senator who said that he should quit.
And then if that right there -- pow -- doesn't make you feel good, nothing will. It's a proud day. A home run for America, with a little bit of a Southern accent.
Oh. And this:
SANCHEZ (voice-over): Examine the body language, anger, and the president, the pursed lips, the rigid walk, and something about being dragged through the mud.
MICHAEL VICK, CONVICTED NFL QUARTERBACK: What I did was very immature. So that means I need to grow up.
SANCHEZ: He's in trouble, but how about the other guys, the ones accused of beating their wives, doing drugs? A one- or two-game suspension, is that fair?
You have got to hear her to believe her.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe that our education, like such as in South Africa and Iraq, everywhere like such as.
SANCHEZ: Watch out, world. This geographically challenged beauty queen is going global.
SANCHEZ: And hello again, everybody. I'm Rick Sanchez.
We're going to shift gears a little bit. This is not what we planned to start this newscast with, but this is a developing story that is now looking like it could possibly turn into a bombshell.
This information just coming in tonight. A Republican U.S. senator, Larry Craig of Idaho, has just put out a statement where he is denying that he took part in what he is calling inappropriate conduct in an airport bathroom. This comes today as today's "Roll Call" newspaper reports that Craig pleaded guilty after being apprehended by plainclothes policemen.
What is interesting now is, he's saying: I should not have pled guilty. It was a mistake.
Let's go right to Dana Bash. She's been following this. This is a funny way to begin a newscast, Dana, but what was the senator doing in the bathroom?
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's an answer that we simply don't have yet and certainly we are looking into.
But big picture here, Rick, as you just said, what CNN has confirmed is that Idaho Senator Larry Craig, a Republican, actually did plead guilty in Minnesota to disorderly conduct, and that is a misdemeanor, and he paid more than $500 in fines. And through that plea, he was given a 10-day sentence, something that was stayed for more than a year.
Now, as you mentioned, the "Roll Call" newspaper, which covers the Hill, they reported it first and got more details including the fact from this police report out of Minnesota that this was all involved with an investigation, a longtime investigation, into allegations of -- complaints of lewd conduct in a men's public bathroom in this Minnesota airport.
Now, I can tell you that Senator Craig's office, as you said, is vehemently denying this. I will read you quickly his statement.
He says through a spokesman: "At the time of this incident, I complained to the police that they were misconstruing my actions. I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct. I should have had the advice of counsel in resolving this matter. In hindsight, I should not have pled guilty. I was trying to handle this matter myself quickly and expeditiously."
So, the bottom line is, Senator Craig is saying he did plead guilty, he made a mistake. It's because he said he didn't have a lawyer there.
SANCHEZ: That's what Craig says.
Let me read to the viewers now what the officer says.
He says Craig (AUDIO GAP) that he recognized as a symbol used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct.
We will let the viewer decide what they may. We're obviously going to stay on top of the story. We thank Dana Bash for bringing us up to date on that. And, if there is any development on it, we will certainly bring it to you right away.
Now, the other big political story of the day, on what started out as a lazy summer day, a huge political revelation that seemed to come as a surprise, even though it's exactly what even some Republicans have been calling for. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says he's quitting.
SANCHEZ (voice-over): The morning announcement, a Washington rarity, a surprise.
ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yesterday I met with President Bush and informed him of my decision to conclude my government service as attorney general of the United States effective as of September 17, 2007.
SANCHEZ: Democrats had some quick advice. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Under this attorney general, sadly, the Department of Justice had less credibility than even FEMA. Under Alberto Gonzales, the Department of Justice was a sinking ship.
SANCHEZ: But there was nothing but praise from an old friend.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Al Gonzales is a man of integrity, decency, and principle.
SANCHEZ: Alberto Gonzales has been at George W. Bush's side since his Texas days as governor. Mr. Bush brought him to the White House as his lead counsel, then nominated him attorney general.
He shaped some of the administration's most controversial anti- terrorism policies, the harsh treatment of terrorist detainees, the wiretapping of terror suspects without obtaining court warrants.
Gonzales' opponents say he presided over a Justice Department that was more concerned with politics than with justice. And they point to last December's firing of eight respected U.S. attorneys. Critics say it was because they weren't pushing the administration's political priorities.
Originally, Gonzales denied it.
GONZALES: I would never, ever make a change in a United States attorney position for political reasons.
SANCHEZ: But when Congress started asking questions, Gonzales' memory failed.
GONZALES: I don't recall.
But I don't recall.
I don't recall.
SANCHEZ: During one set of hearings, he used some variation of "I don't recall" 64 times.
Even Republicans were baffled by Gonzales' inability to remember key facts.
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER: Have I lost confidence in Attorney General Gonzales? Absolutely, yes.
SANCHEZ: In the end, it seemed the only top Washington insider who hadn't lost confidence in Alberto Gonzales was his old friend from Texas.
SANCHEZ: The man whose pleasure Gonzales served under didn't exactly look like he was having a pleasurable day today.
Take a look at the body language here. This is just before the president announced that he has accepted Mr. Gonzales' resignation, the walk, the frown, eventually the strong words. You will hear some of those words in just a moment.
But, first, let's go to three members of the best political team on television, chief national correspondent John King, justice correspondent Kelli Arena, and CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
John, let's begin with you.
The president, did he have reason to be somewhat angered by this, seeming that he really held out on this thing for so long and did he finally have to give in?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He did have to give in to political reality, Rick.
And this is a president, remember, who, for six years, had a Republican Congress. He was used to getting his way, used to steamrolling Republicans, even when they objected to administration policies. Here he was confronting the political reality that Alberto Gonzales had become political baggage. Democrats were telling him that. More importantly, senior Republicans were telling him that. This president doesn't like to give in. He doesn't like to be pushed or bullied. So, you bet he was mad.
SANCHEZ: Kelli Arena, to you. In the end, was Alberto Gonzales too much of a yes-man and in so allowing his office to become politicized, as some of his critics have said?
KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that is exactly the charge.
And we did hear in testimony on the Hill that some of his underlings did actually hire career prosecutors based on their political affiliation. That's been the thing that has been plaguing Gonzales since the very beginning, since he was nominated, that he was just too close with this president, that he would continue to be the president's lawyer, rather than the top prosecutor of the nation.
SANCHEZ: Jeffrey Toobin, one wonders as one looks at this situation what kind of a mess Justice Department might be left in. Can you give us an idea?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think the day- to-day workings of the Justice Department is actually fine.
The U.S. attorney's offices operate fairly independently of main Justice. That was why people were so outraged that Alberto Gonzales and company tried to interfere, fired those respected U.S. attorneys, because in general they do operate pretty independently.
But as an entity that tries to get anything through Congress, whether it's anti-terrorism legislation, which is coming up for renewal in six months, or anything regarding crime, this attorney general was a poisonous messenger. The Democrats were not going to listen to anything he had to say. And this is a priority that the Bush administration was simply not going to give up with 17 months to go. So, he needed someone new in there.
SANCHEZ: Political liability? John King, would that be proper use of words?
KING: Absolutely, and especially a political liability for a president who himself, Rick, is at 30-something percent in the polls, going in, as Jeff just said, 17 months left.
He's bedraggled in Washington by a very unpopular war and looking to try to get one or two big things done domestically. Most Republicans think he can't do it, but they would say he certainly can't do it if he has political pinatas in senior levels of his administration.
And then there's the Karl Rove question. We will leave that one for now, maybe go after it later.
SANCHEZ: John King, Kelli Arena.
Jeff Toobin, we will see you a little bit later as we continue our discussions.
Well, tonight, it may not be too big a reach to ask the last member of the so-called Texas mafia to turn out the lights. It's the inner circle of loyalists who came to Washington after the 2000 election. Gone is Gonzales.
Gone also is political adviser and so-called Bush brain Karl Rove. Onetime White House counsel Harriet Miers left at the beginning of this year, after she couldn't get confirmed to the Supreme Court. Also gone, former FEMA Director Joe Allbaugh, who managed Mr. Bush's Texas campaigns, Communications Director Dan Bartlett, former Press Secretary Scott McClellan. Onetime close adviser Karen Hughes, she's moved on to the State Department.
Well, the first senator to call for Alberto Gonzales' resignation is New York Democrat Charles Schumer. We heard from him a little bit ago. He is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. And he's good enough to join us now to talk about this situation.
Senator Schumer, thanks so much for being with us, sir.
SCHUMER: Good to be with you, Rick.
SANCHEZ: Let's listen to what the president had to say today, because I want to get your response to this on the other side. I think he may be referring to you, sir.
Let's listen to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: It's sad that when we live in a time when a talented and honorable person, like Alberto Gonzales, is impeded from doing important work because his good name was dragged through the mud for political reasons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Dragged through the mud for political reasons, sir, that's the accusation. How do you respond?
SCHUMER: Well, the only person Alberto Gonzales has to blame for being him forced out is Alberto Gonzales. When these U.S. attorney scandals began to occur, he did nothing about them. Then he lied repeatedly to the American people about them. He kept claiming that he didn't know this or he didn't know that.
And just about everyone except George Bush lost faith in him. I'm hoping that the president is going to turn over a new leaf and this appointment, in others, in other things, he will be far less confrontational.
SANCHEZ: Let me ask you a question about what you just said. Do you think that Attorney General Gonzales really didn't know, which would, I suppose, be a little bit of a sign of incompetence, or he knew and didn't want to tell, which would be deceit, and which is worse?
SCHUMER: On some issues, it was one. On some, it was the other.
But I have been in the Congress since 1981, and I have never seen a Cabinet officer have so little command and have so little honesty when he comes before the American people.
SANCHEZ: Do you think that's because someone else was pulling his strings? And some have suggested Karl Rove.
SCHUMER: Well, I think Karl Rove had too much to do with the Justice Department. Remember, this is the one department that has a different responsibility than just being the president's acolyte.
And that is that there is rule of law. And every other attorney general, including John Ashcroft, who was more conservative than Gonzales, at least tried to uphold the rule of law. Gonzales only saw his role as the president's counsel, as the president's yes-man, and has done untold damage to not only the careers of some fine people, but to the Justice Department as a whole.
Now, it can be restored, but it can restored only if the president appoints someone who puts rule of law first. We Democrats are not itching for a fight here. We hope that the president would appoint someone admittedly conservative, because that's his prerogative, but someone who will put the rule of law first.
The president's statement that you showed didn't show that, but maybe he was just upset that his good friend was forced by his own administration to step down. I talked to the White House counsel tonight, Fred Fielding. We had a good conversation. I expressed to him my hope that the president would appoint someone that we could find acceptable, that we would work on this together.
And it was a very positive conversation. I'm hopeful that that is what will happen.
SANCHEZ: We will be following it. Senator Schumer, thanks so much, sir, for taking time to talk to us tonight.
SCHUMER: Thank you. And it's good to talk to you, Rick.
SANCHEZ: We're going to be moving on to another of today's big stories.
Do you have any sympathy for this guy?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VICK: I take this opportunity just to speak from the heart. First, I want to apologize.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Wait until you hear what this is going to cost him, by the way. We are going to break all of this down for you. Clue: Yes, it's way into the millions. We will bring it into the open.
Then, later, American fascination with fame. Would you let your kid be a part of this, a television show, because it's on nationwide television? Well, we have got a parent who said, you bet.
And then it's the bottom of the eight. The Little League World Series is on the line. Stick around, because we're going to bring you the finale. And, boy, it's a good one -- for us, anyway.
SANCHEZ: And we welcome you back. I'm Rick Sanchez.
Out in the open, NFL star Michael Vick hit really all the talking points, the required talking points, today, after pleading guilty to a federal dogfighting conspiracy charge. It's been watched all over the country. And so much response on the blogs.
He apologized to the NFL in his statement, his teammates, his fans. And he even says that, as a result of this ordeal that he is going through now, he has found Jesus.
Now he has to wait until December to find out just how much time he is actually going to spend in prison, because it's up to a judge.
Deb Feyerick was in Richmond, Virginia, for Vick's plea and his public act of contrition.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Less than an hour after pleading guilty, a somber Michael Vick finally broke his silence. He publicly apologized for his role in dogfighting, speaking so softly the cameras almost drowned out his voice.
VICK: I take full responsibility for my actions. Not for one second will I sit right here and point the finger, try to blame anybody else for my actions and what I have done. I'm totally responsible.
FEYERICK: Inside the courthouse, the Atlanta Falcons star quarterback answered the judge's questions in the same soft-spoken voice. Vick made it clear no one was forcing him to plead guilty.
VICK: Dogfighting is a terrible thing, and I didn't reject it.
FEYERICK: As part of his plea deal, Vick admitted to taking part with others in the killings of at least six dogs who failed to fight well at his Bad Newz Kennels. He faces a maximum five-year prison sentence.
Judge Henry Hudson telling Vick he would consider the 12 to 18 months suggested by prosecutors, but warning him -- quote -- "You are taking your chance here, and you will have to live with whatever decision I make."
However, the Falcons have yet to make a final decision, saying they're not sure whether they will ultimately cut the disgraced quarterback from the team. ARTHUR BLANK, ATLANTA FALCONS OWNER: We don't know what the future holds for Michael. Having said that, I do believe in redemption.
FEYERICK: Outside on the street, fans also believe redemption is possible. But animal rights activist say Vick is getting off easy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He had every right to do what he could to make a decent life for himself. And what did he do? He supported gambling.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But I don't agree with putting this man in jail.
FEYERICK (on camera): So, Michael Vick leaves court a felon. He cannot appeal the guilty ruling and now must abide by whatever the court asks him to do.
(voice-over): Twenty-seven-year old Michael Vick called his actions immature and apologized to fans, his teammates, and the NFL. He did not rule out returning to the game that gave him so much.
VICK: I will redeem myself. I have to.
FEYERICK: And an investigator working with the Humane Society of the U.S. tells CNN that Vick was hardly a kingpin in all of this, that, since 2001, he had some 20 fights, really a drop in the bucket in this underground world of dogfighting. But, because of who he knows, his cooperation with the feds could prove very interesting -- Rick.
SANCHEZ: Deb Feyerick, following that story for us.
Wow. What a scene.
Let's bring in CNN senior analyst Jeffrey Toobin now. He was also in the courtroom today.
Is he going to be doing some time?
TOOBIN: I don't see any way he can avoid jail time; 12 to 18 months is the likely sentence, probably towards the end, the bottom of that. But a year in prison is no joke. And I think that is what he's going to be doing.
SANCHEZ: Can the judge go up or down on this thing?
TOOBIN: He can. He has absolute freedom to go all the way down to probation, all the way up to five years.
But most federal judges abide by the federal guidelines. And 12 to 18 months is what the guidelines are very likely to say for this case. SANCHEZ: I noticed that, on what he copped to, it wasn't the transporting a dog across state lines for the purposes of gambling. That seemed to have been left out. Was that left out, so that then he could then come back later and plead his case to the NFL and say, look, they didn't get me with gambling; it was just the dog stuff; let me back into the league?
TOOBIN: The statement of facts that he agreed to, which was released last week, was obviously very carefully crafted to minimize, as much as possible, Vick's relationship with gambling, because it's gambling, much more than any other crime, which is what gets you thrown out of the NFL for life.
However, Mike Vick has a lot of problems with the NFL. Remember, just a couple of weeks ago, he looked the commissioner in the eye, commissioner Goodell, and said, look, I did not do this.
He lied to the commissioner, as he admitted today. So, the commissioner is not going to be rushing to admit him back to the league any time soon, even after his prison sentence is done.
SANCHEZ: Jeffrey Toobin, as usual, thanks so much for bringing us up to date on this.
As we continue this story, we want to key in now on something a lot of people are thinking. It may not be what you're thinking, but here it is. With so many NFL players accused of beating their wives, and worse, why the big deal about this dog incident? Not that the animal abuse isn't reprehensible, but where's the balance is what some people are asking tonight. That's one opinion on this.
The other is that much of what Vick is getting is in some measure due to the color of his skin. What do you think of that? Two guests join us to break that down and argue, respectfully, in just two minutes.
Stay with us.
SANCHEZ: Welcome back to OUT IN THE OPEN. I'm Rick Sanchez.
Now the money angle. It seems astronomical, but here we go. This is what Vick stands to lose if and when the Atlanta Falcons decide to terminate his contract. He could be out $71 million. That's money that he would have earned through the 2013 season. You think that's a lot? It keeps going.
Just a couple of hours after Vick appeared in federal court today, the team sent him a letter demanding that he repay his $22 million signing bonus. And he can also count on losing $50 million in endorsements. Legal fees, probably about a cool $1 million. That's $144 million. And that's a log of dog biscuits.
Is that fair? Or is Vick really paying a bigger price than most in this situation? Joining me now is Errol Louis. He's a columnist with "The New York Daily News." And Boyce Watkins is a professor at Syracuse University and founder of YourBlackWorld.com.
Thanks for being with us, fellows.
I think, Errol, I want to begin with you, because there's an idea here that what he did is pretty bad. And I don't think you're going to come on the show and say there's anything right with what he did, right?
ERROL LOUIS, "THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": Not at all.
SANCHEZ: But what you are not going saying is, there's a lot of other athletes in the past who have done things that may be just as bad or worse, and got by with what, a slap on the wrist?
LOUIS: Oh, sure, absolute slap on the wrist.
There are athletes now and in the past who have committed disgusting acts of violence against people, against spouses, against girlfriends, against pregnant women. Two-day suspension, three-day suspension, anger management counseling, that sort of a thing.
SANCHEZ: So, what is the difference here?
LOUIS: Well, I think the difference here is that you had an organized group in the form of the animal rights activists who really put the pressure on. They organized millions of e-mails to the sponsors, so that Nike and Reebok pulled out. They put a lot of pressure on the NFL. They went out and did demonstrations in the street, which the press of course picked up on.
And they let their voices be heard.
SANCHEZ: But, listen, Michael Vick did not help his cause. This is not the first time that he has had a problem. Last year, he apparently made an obscene gesture at the end of a football game. Prior to that, he had a marijuana incident. That apparently was dissolved, but, nonetheless, he had to deal with it in public.
So, we're not talking about the all-American guy here, right?
LOUIS: No, no, not at all.
But, see, the problem is, we have a culture in which -- or a culture of sport in which the top guys at least are brought up with this sense of entitlement, that all kinds of different things will just go away, that they will get a lot of help, that they will get a lot of cover stories, they will get a lot of money, as long as they can score those points and catch that ball.
SANCHEZ: Let's bring in Boyce now, because you have got a different opinion.
What you seem to be saying is that there is A resentment on the part of fans, not only for these guys who everybody thinks are spoiled and rich, and have a real easy life compared to most of us, but that many of them are African-American, and that is a dig as well, right?
BOYCE WATKINS, PROFESSOR, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY: Yes, absolutely.
I'm not saying that Michael Vick is innocent. I believe that he's guilty. But it's not a coincidence that the most hated athlete in America is almost always a black man, whether you talk about Barry Bonds, Ron Artest, Terrell Owens, O.J. Simpson, Jack Johnson, Muhammad Ali. The list goes on and on.
What happens is, black male athletes sometimes make mistakes, like everyone else. But, when they make a mistake, sometimes, the lynch mobs come out.
When Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Nicole Richie get arrested for DWI, which is a far worse crime, by the way, for the 10,000th time, they don't -- you don't hear people sort of making these broad generalizations that they do with black male athletes, like, you know, you don't hear people say, well, why are all these white women choosing to drink and drive?
WATKINS: Well, they realize that Nicole Richie is an exception to the rule.
SANCHEZ: Explain to us what that comes from. Why do you think there's that as you would say unequal treatment?
WATKINS: Well, we have a country that is built on race. Racism lies within the very fabric of the infrastructure of every economic, social, educational institution in our country.
So, when people see Michael Vick, they're used to only seeing black men on television when they're playing a sport or committing a crime.
SANCHEZ: But, to be fair, don't you think some of it has to do with athletes in general, just the idea that these guys are paid millions and millions of dollars compared to what previous ballplayers used to make, and people resent that?
Couldn't you make the argument it has more to do with economy than it does color of skin?
WATKINS: Well, race and class are inextricably linked. So, the fact of the matter is that a lot of it does have to do with them being high-paid and spoiled and things like that. And some of them are.
But, you know, yesterday, I hung out with a guy named Stephon Marbury at the New York Knicks, who is one of the few athletes who stood up in support of Vick. And he didn't present any of the stereotypical images that people attribute to black male athletes. So, the fact is that there is a class issue, but race is very much alive in the equation.
SANCHEZ: Interesting argument and we thank you for bringing it to us. Earl Lewis, Boyce Watkins, my thanks to both of you.
Time for some of the best shots of the day. And we're going to begin with an i-Report. This is from somebody who use to be a Michael Vick fan. Now to show his displeasure, he decided to get a ball that was actually autographed by Michael Vick, he did treasure it for awhile, now he's giving it to his dog, get it, so the dog can tear it up. This chewed up ball, by the way is now posted on eBay, half of the proceeds are going to go to the Humane Society when it gets sold.
And then this story from Georgia. This is a good news story. Who hasn't had this infection watching this throughout the playoffs here, and finally the World Series, this is the Warner Robins, Georgia, in the little league world series. That's Dalton Carriker, he homers to right, at the bottom of the 8th inning. That's Warner Robins, Georgia beats Tokyo, Japan 3-2. How can you not feel good about that? Sorry, Japan. I could watch that a million times.
Are American parents so obsessed with fame that they're going to sign their sign kids up for just about anything, even just as long as it's on TV. Check this out. Would you let your kids be a part of something like this?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You need to take control. You need to let people...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mike, stop.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yelling is not a way to settle things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Who would sign their kids up for something like this? Well, coming up, I'm going to ask a parent who did just that.
SANCHEZ: Welcome back, I'm Rick Sanchez, you may have heard the controversy over this new show. There have been complaints and now some investigations are underway, 40 kids left in the New Mexico desert to try and fend for themselves for 40 days. Sounds crazy, which is probably why they turned this idea into a realty show. It's called "Kid Nation," and it hasn't aired yet, but it's causing some outrage and even allegations of child abuse. What type of parent would put a child in the middle of something like this? Well, in a moment I'm going to find out from the mother of one of the children on this show.
First of all, take a look at what entertainment correspondent Brooke Anderson found out about "Kid Nation."
D.K., KID NATION PARTICIPANT: I just wanted to go home for a long time now...
BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fourteen- year-old D.K. is one of 40 children ages eight to 15 who were placed in the New Mexico desert for 40 days, this past Spring for the upcoming CBS reality series, "Kid Nation."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's hard to keep your neck straight.
JONATHAN KARSH, HOST, KID NATION: These kids make their own meal on wood-burning stoves. They do their own laundry, they have their own economy, they run their own stores.
ANDERSON: While CBS, on its Website, says the participants will cope with regular childhood emotions and situations, including homesickness, the show is embroiled in an adult-sized controversy regarding the kids living and working conditions. The attorney general of New Mexico is investigating whether child labor laws are violated and whether the children were put in potentially harmful situations.
PHIL SISNEROS, DIR OF COMMUNICATIONS, NM ATTY GEN: We can find out from the records whether or not there were - there is evidence of -- the allegations, I believe, were that some of the children were put in danger.
ANDERSON: Santa Fe sheriff, Greg Solano, reads from two angry letters which prompted his investigation into the allegations. One from a participant's mother who says her daughter was burned by hot cooking grease, and the other unsigned, included these claims:
SHERIFF GREG SOLANO, SANTA FE, NM: Four children drank bleach, a girl was burned in her face with grease, a girl vomited repeatedly, a teenager urinated in the canteen of a younger boy and condoms were place over microphones given to miners reportedly to protect them from the rain.
ANDERSON: "Kid Nation's" producers have described the show as a social experiment.
TOM FORMAN, EXEC PRODUCER KID NATION: We literally just tried to take a giant step back and shoot and see what happened next.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I'm missing is my brother.
ANDERSON: While we aren't hearing from outraged parents, they signed a confidentially clause that carries a penalty of up to $5 million, CBS says the series was filmed within all applicable laws.
Furthermore, parents signed a 22 page waiver acknowledging the risks involved, including injury or even death.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop threatening us, Taylor.
ANDERSON: CBS defends the conditions, telling CNN, "What was extraordinary about 'Kid Nation' was the behind-the-scenes support structure, which included on-site paramedics, a pediatrician. These kids were in good hands and under good care with procedures, an animal safety expert, and a child psychologist...These kids were in good hands and under good care with procedures that arguably rival or surpass any school or camp in the country."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is like the last straw for me.
ANDERSON: Summer camp or child labor nightmare. "Kid Nation" is scheduled to premiere mid-September.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people will be like "whoa!" when they see this.
ANDERSON: Brooke Anderson, CNN, Hollywood.
SANCHEZ: There's a couple of other things that we should probably mention to you, at this time. Since the taping of this show finished, New Mexico has now broadened its labor laws -- not originally, but they've changed them now. The TV Actor's Union is now investigating and on its Website CBS is taking applications for kids for season two of "Kid Nation."
Joining us now, the mother of one of the children appearing on "Kid Nation." She happens to be a lawyer, herself, by the way. CBS put us in touch with her, and doesn't want to identity revealed, so we're just going to be calling her "Lori from Winter Park, Florida."
Lori from Winter Park, Florida, thanks so much for being with us.
LORI, WINTER PARK, FL, PARENT OF KID NATION PARTICIPANT: Hi, it's a pleasure to be here.
SANCHEZ: Hey, you signed this waiver that essentially says you're not holding CBS responsible in any way that happens to your child. Were you a little uncomfortable doing that?
LORI: No, I was not uncomfortable at all, after I have investigated it and asked a lot of questions. I mean, no parent in their right mind would sign a waiver or sign anything, either for themselves or for their children, unless they investigated the situation fully. After I investigated it fully, I felt more than comfortable in signing it.
SANCHEZ: Well, let me read part of that to the viewer, because this was part of this document - this contract, essentially, that you signed.
It says, "...the Program...may expose the Minor...to...conditions that may cause the Minor serious bodily injury, illness or death." "...including," next page, "...drowning...falls from heights...encounters with wild or domestic animals...sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, and pregnancy."
Man, I don't know about you, but if I read something like that, it would really scare we before I let my child into that environment. Did it scare you?
LORI: Well, it scared me when I read it, because it would scare any parent. And I spoke with CBS and I spoke with multiple people, and I said: is my cliff going to fall off a cliff? You know, I'm going through all the stuff that you just read, and I said: is this a dangerous environment. And they said, you know, they said: no. and they explained to me what it was, which was essentially like a summer camp. And you know, we can talk about this later, but you know, my daughter's experience has bore that out, that was absolutely nothing dangerous about what they did.
I did not feel at all that I placed my child, you know, in a risk of any danger and I most certainly would not have sent here if I had thought that was going to be the case.
SANCHEZ: Lori, let me ask you...
LORI: I'm sorry.
SANCHEZ: No, go ahead, finish up.
LORI: And I was going to say, what parent in their right mind would do that. The kids who participated on this program who, to my mind, they're really, you know, among the luckiest kids in America, were chosen from different, you know, gifted program, creative programs...
SANCHEZ: Let me - well, you asked the question, so let me answer it. I'll tell you what parent would do something like this, maybe a parent who's not as careful and responsible as you, but a parent who just wants their kid to be famous. Because we're living in a society that is just engrossed by the idea of fame and being on TV, and sometimes they let that get in the way of rational decisions. You say, what to that?
LORI: Well, I agree with you, but that seems to be what America is all about. But, you know, in my particular case, and -- you know, I don't know how many parents I speak for, but when CBS -- when we found out about this program through CBS, well, the way it was explained to us was that the children, these 40 children would be -- have an opportunity to build a government, a community, out of a ghost town. And they explained it in detail. It was like a social studies project and this is something that's so appealed to my daughter. You know, we don't even -- we never even watch television at home.
SANCHEZ: OK, well, we get it.
LORI: Well, what I'm saying is I -- yeah, go ahead.
SANCHEZ: The charge doesn't stick with you. But, what we want to do now -- thanks for coming on, Lori, I appreciate it.
I want to bring in somebody who does believe that this is a charge that sticks with a lot of parents. Someone who's lived the life of a child star, as a matter of fact. Paul Petersen was one of the original Mouseketeers on the "Mickey Mouse Club" and he starred on Donna Reed's son on the "Donna Reed Show." And now he's president of A Minor Consideration. This is a group that's dedicated to protecting child actors, as a matter of fact.
No, Lori says look, my daughter had a ball, she had a great time and what's wrong with that? What would you say to her?
PAUL PETERSEN, A MINOR CONSIDERATION: Well, I first need to say that all of us need to recall that Lori came to your program because CBS allowed her to.
She too, signed a document in utter confidentiality, 22 pages, wherein she gave medical authority without any qualifications being listed of those who might provide medical care, up to and including surgery, so let's remember what really is going on.
I am here because the deceptions practiced on these naive and inexperienced parents are, I believe, very -- bordering on criminal conduct. It is no accident that this production was taken to New Mexico where Governor Richardson had signed new laws, but they were not in effect. In fact, I believe Lori can back me up on this, the children and their parents didn't know where they are going until the eve of...
SANCHEZ: Well, let's try and clear that up for the viewer. What you're saying is that New Mexico had specific leniency when it comes to child laws, that allowed them to go to that state. In fact, you're saying they went there because of that, right?
PETERSEN: Absolutely. There are still 19 states that have no meaningful child labor regulations for the entertainment business and let me explain why that's important. The federal law in the Fair Labor Standards Act was, in 1938, a piece of work that granted an exemption to the entertainment industry, to children working in agriculture, and kids delivering newspapers door-to-door. And unless the state has laws, why anything goes. That's why the district attorney in North Carolina, where Dakota Fanning was raped on camera for the movie "Hound Dog" could say, no laws were broken.
SANCHEZ: Well, let me -- let, let, let...
PETERSEN: How could there be if there are no laws?
SANCHEZ: Just to be fair, let me tell you what CBS is saying. We can put this up, as well. "The series was filmed," they say, "responsibly and within all applicable laws in the state of New Mexico at the time of the production." By the way, do you believe -- and we're down to about 20, 30 seconds -- do you believe that parents consumed with fame in this country to the point where they will actually even put their own welfare of their children at risk to achieve it? PETERSEN: Of course they are. Now, ask yourself, was this a summer camp? Where's the licensure? Where is it?
SANCHEZ: Paul Petersen, thanks for being with us. Good guest, hopefully we'll get you back.
PETERSEN: Thank you.
SANCHEZ: It's a topic we might be able to explore again.
Next, she needs medicine just to stay alive, but she's afraid that it will make her put on weight. What should she do? What would most Americans do? You're going to surprised when you find out what's going on in this country when it comes to balancing those two things. Stay with us, we'll be right back.
SANCHEZ: Larry King is JUST an amazing guy and he's got another hot show for you coming up tonight. What do you got, Larry?
LARRY KING, LARRY KING LIVE: He's amazing!
SANCHEZ: He is.
KING: That's a new one for me.
SANCHEZ: Oh, I hope you like it my old Miami friend.
KING: I like it, my friend.
Hey Rick, coming up on LARRY KING LIVE, a former Atlanta Falcon who's friends with Michael Vick, joins the debate over how much prison time Vick should get and whether Vick should every be allowed to play again.
Plus, they lost hundreds of pounds to win a hit reality show, but after they became the biggest losers, did the weight stay off? It's all at the top of the hour, Rick, on LARRY KING LIVE.
SANCHEZ: A lot of story. Thanks so much, Larry. We'll be looking for you at 9:00.
Now, let's do this, let's try and take a look at "Biz Break." On Wall Street, the Dow closes now 56 points, the NASDAQ lost 15 and the S&P was down 12 for the day. Things have been weird on Wall Street.
Stocks fell after another dismal report on the housing market. Last month home prices fell for the 12th straight month. Sales of previously owned homes were down .2 percent. And the number of homes for sale reached a 16-year high.
The Federal Aviation Administration wants hundreds of Boeing 737 inspected after last week's spectacular disaster in Japan. A China Airlines 737 burst into flames on the ground, everyone survived. But initial inspection points to a loose wing part that could have somehow punctured that fuel tank.
Are you afraid of your medicine? Well, this woman is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not going to take my medicine because I want to lose an extra pound. It's always what isn't good for your body, but what you do want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: There's a lot of medication out there that has the tendency to make you fat, increase your appetite. Is fear of fat worth the risk of dieting or getting very ill? We've got the story that could save a lot of lives. Stay with us, we'll be right back.
SANCHEZ: Welcome back. Now we're bringing OUT IN THE OPEN a really frightening story that you may not have heard about. Certain people that are just about willing to do anything, even risk their lives, just to make sure they lose weight. Now, this affects all kinds of medications, but we've been looking into this particular case about diabetics how are skipping their life-saving insulin injections just for the sake of dropping a few pounds. CNN's Dan Lothian has tonight's "Vital Signs."
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jackie Lyons knew her daughter J.J., who suffered from Type 1 diabetes, was very ill, but the real truth about what took her life only came to light after her death in these disturbing diaries.
JACKIE LYONS: "Why won't someone explain to me why I do not take my insulin? I often think it's because I want to eat and stay thin. It has just become an awful habit for me."
LOTHIAN: Jacqueline Walsh, often called J.J., had a dark secret, often called diabulimia, staying thin by skipping insulin shots to purge calories, Risky behavior because the life-saving injections are needed to regulate blood sugar levels.
LYONS: "I've lived through five years of comatose death from not taking my insulin properly."
LOTHIAN (on camera): Do you think J.J. understood what was really happening and what was causing this, what was driving this?
LYONS: Now that I'm reading her journals, I see that she consciously was taking her insulin improperly to lose weight.
LOTHIAN (voice-over): J.J., an attractive young woman engaged to be married, began to fade away.
LYONS: Her hair fell out. Her skin was very dry. Her face was sallow. She didn't look like the same person.
LOTHIAN: After several emergency room visits, J.J. died just one week shy of her 28th birthday.
ANN GOEBEL-FABBRI, DR., JOSLIN DIABETES CENTER: The research we've done here at Joslin shows that 30 percent of women with Type 1 diabetes engage in this behavior at some point in their lifetime for weight management.
LOTHIAN: Thirty-six-year-old Christel Marshand says she skipped shots and gambled with her life for three years before therapy set her straight.
CHRISTEL MARCHAND, TYPE 1 DIABETIC: I thought about the fact that I was doing damage to my body. But at the time, it was more important for me to be a certain weight and to look a certain way.
LOTHIAN (on camera): As in J.J.'s case, eventually diabulimia can become fatal when toxic acids build up in the body and can't be flushed out.
(voice-over): But all the warnings don't seem to rattle 30-year- old Christa Pioszak, a wife and mother of a 3-year-old who compares her self- destructive habits to an alcoholic.
CHRISTA PIOSZAK, TYPE 1 DIABETIC: I'm not going to take my medication because I want to lose an extra pound. It's always what isn't good for your body, but what you do want. So...
LOTHIAN: Pioszak's husband tried to get her help. She refused.
(on camera): Why wouldn't you do something for your husband, who wants you to be healthy and be around for your child to grow up?
PIOSZAK: I don't really have a good reason except for the fact that I just didn't feel that maybe I was sick enough to do that.
GOEBBELL-FABBRI: People can rationalize and say, hey, you know, my body's used to this. I'm doing OK. And it's just not the case.
LOTHIAN (voice-over): In fact, Pioszak has already suffered the side effects of skipping insulin shots, damaged blood vessels in her eyes and numbness in her feet.
LOTHIAN (on camera): So, just part of the foot is numb.
PIOSZAK: Yeah, my toes for the most part.
LOTHIAN (voice-over): Pioszak says her decision to go public is part therapy, part cautionary tale.
PIOSZAK: I would like just to let other people know that there are others going through this.
LOTHIAN: Still, she's not willing to do the right thing. Her body image, for now, more important than her health, and frankly, her life.
Dan Lothian, CNN, Redford, Michigan.
SANCHEZ: Now, we want to show you something else. Look at this tragedy in the skies near Vancouver, Canada. This is a hot air balloon in flames rising into the air, it actually caught fire on the ground before takeoff, 10 of 13 people managed to get out before it lifted off with three others. One of them managed to jump out and survive, the other two, a mother and daughter, didn't make it. Canadian authorities are investigating. We'll be right back.
SANCHEZ: Thanks so much for being with us, I'm Rick Sanchez. Look for you again tomorrow, right here, 8:00 eastern. The amazing LARRY KING LIVE starts right now with a closer look at the fascinating Michael Vick care. See you.
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