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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
What`s Behind Juvenile Violence?
Aired October 8, 2009 - 19:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, gut-wrenching teen violence rips through the country. A teenaged boy viciously stomped to death by a murderous mob of fellow teens in Chicago.
Now, far away in rustic New Hampshire, four teens with completely different backgrounds are accused of brutally stabbing a mother to death and hacking at her daughter with a machete.
What in the world is going on with America`s teenagers? Could it have anything to do with our culture dripping in violence? That`s tonight`s big issue.
And blood-boiling new developments in the Michael Vick saga. A new TV show is putting the spotlight back on the convicted dog killer. He admitted to taking part in torturing, maiming and murdering dogs. Now BET wants to focus on his life and document his tough upbringing. He`s already back in the NFL making millions. Now he`s going to be a TV star? Whatever happened to making amends for his cruel acts?
Plus, seismic new insight into the David letterman sexual extortion case. The "New York Post" claims David`s sexual affair went on long after he was married to his wife. The "Post" claims the CBS producer caught the "Late Show" legend making out with his live-in girlfriend in his own driveway back in August. If there was a steamy little make-out session, could that have been enough to push Joe Halderman right over the edge?
ISSUES starts now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, the sick crisis of violence among our nation`s kids. It is not a city problem. It is not a race problem. It is everybody`s problem. What is behind the recent twin horrors allegedly carried out by two groups of teens from totally different worlds?
First, the sadistic beating of Derrion Albert in Chicago. You see it right there, an angry mob of teens stomped and battered the 16-year-old boy to death in broad daylight two weeks ago. This entire nightmare obviously captured on video. The painful images too gruesome for the mother of the victim to bear.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AN-JANETTE ALBERT, DERRION ALBERT`S MOTHER: I can`t watch it, but I want them to see. I want them to know what they`re doing. I want them to see what they did to my son because they need to pay for this. You know, it`s unfortunate that these are kids doing this, but something`s got to be done. Somebody`s got to step in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely right. Something has got to be done.
If you`re inclined to say, "Well, that`s life in the inner city for you," stop yourself. Let`s hop over to rural New Hampshire. That`s where we are right now. That`s where four teenaged boys are accused of breaking into a home Sunday with a knife and a machete and stabbing a woman to death. You`re looking at that video now. Police say they also critically injured her 11-year-old daughter with a machete, all so they could allegedly steal some jewelry to pawn?
Tonight`s big issue: why all this teen violence? Want the answer, just look around you. Go to a movie. Flip on a video game. Channel surf, why don`t you? We`re a nation dripping in violence. Kids cannot avoid violent images if they tried hard. They`re being indoctrinated into violent behavior.
What can we do about that? We`re going to debate that right now.
Straight out to my fantastic expert panel: Tom Ruskin, former New York City police detective investigator. There he is. Let`s go back to Tanya Acker, and she is an attorney and blogger for "The Huffington Post"; criminal defense attorney Bradford Cohen; and clinical psychiatrist, Dr. Dale Archer.
Dr. Dale, in the first case, it was a wild out of control Chicago mob. In the second case, prosecutors say these four teenaged males entered the home intending to kill the occupants and allegedly proceeded to murder the mom in her bed. Officials say their goal was to rob the home with the intention of killing everyone inside.
Is there any way to explain this kind of sadism we`re now seeing in the country and in the city?
DR. DALE ARCHER, CLINICAL PSYCHIATRIST: Well, there`s no doubt that violence has taken on epidemic status. Just a few statistics, 60 percent of kids have witnessed violence. Sixty percent of kids have been assaulted and 20 percent -- 20 percent -- of kids have seen a shooting.
So there`s no doubt it`s an epidemic and there are three reasons why. And you alluded to them. One, violence on the Internet. Two, violence on TV. And three, violence in video games. Kids are seeing it every single day. And teenaged years are tough enough, always have been, but now that they have the option, kids are thinking, "You know what, they may have got the best of me but I`m going to get a gun, and I`m going to make it even."
So it is a real problem, and it`s got to be addressed. And it`s got to be addressed now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, here`s tonight`s big issue. We live in a nation, as you just heard from Dr. Dale, totally addicted to violence. Do you wonder how a child could be capable of murder? Just take a look around you. Violence is everywhere.
Take a look at this. This is the popular video game, Mortal Combat. It`s one of the countless video games kids get addicted to these days, and I use that word "addicted" very purposefully.
Here`s a clip from the latest installment of "Saw." The original was so graphic and gory it was rated "NC-17." A few slight edits later, it got an "R" rating and is a huge commercial success. It is dripping with sadistic violence.
If you want to know how kids can become desensitized to brutality, look at this. Look at everything like this. We are in a culture that glorifies violence, particularly violence against women, and whenever I say, "Well, let`s teach our children peace," people look at me like I`m going to be committed any minute, that I`m crazy.
When did the word "peace" become a dirty word or a kooky word, Tanya Acker? Don`t we need to talk about peace? If we -- don`t we need to at least imagine peace if we`re going to try to aim for it?
TANYA ACKER, ATTORNEY/BLOGGER: And I think that at the very least, Jane, we should be talking about and imagining something that approaches a civic behavior. I mean, this isn`t just in video games and in television. We`ve completely become -- started to glorify very bad behavior.
And if you look at images, if you look at role models, it is so hard these days to find somebody who exhibits the sort of behavior that people, that we would want to teach our children: behavior that shows good methods of conflict resolution, behavior that shows how to communicate effectively with people with whom you may disagree.
We don`t teach that anymore. We don`t glorify it. There`s no role model out there like that for our kids right now, and it`s very sad.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We need to talk solutions. I personally would like to see group therapy for kids starting in middle school. Again, people say, "What, are you, crazy?" No, I`m not crazy. You could use a 12-step model for group sharing that would give these children an outlet, all children, to share their emotions, to share their frustrations, to learn to talk about being angry and to talk about why they`re angry without acting on the anger. That`s what therapy is all about.
Rich kids have access to therapy, but poor kids and high stress, high crime urban areas who may need it the most, they don`t have access to therapy.
Chicago schools have just launched a new plan. In a desperate attempt to stop the violence, school officials identifying the most at-risk children. Each of them is now being assigned a mentor and offered counseling as well as a part-time job.
Tom Ruskin, you`re a former New York City police detective. You`ve been out there on the streets.
TOM RUSKIN, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE: Right.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Can this work or is it Pollyanna?
RUSKIN: I think that that`s portion (ph). I think you`re right on target with some of the ideas.
But also, schools and other people are missing the warning signs of the kids that they`re dealing with. There have been many warning signs with the Columbine shooters and other people. Plus, we have to reinvent the criminal justice system to catch -- catch up with these juvenile offenders.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, well, let me tell you something. Yes, Tom Ruskin, I`m going to say something a little provocative here. I think the criminal justice system is part of the problem. It`s become a big business.
RUSKIN: It is part of the problem.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We lock up more people than any other country in the world, Bradford Cohen.
BRADFORD COHEN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It really is.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And we`re institutionalizing these kids and let me tell you something: somebody`s making a lot of money off of it. We`re warehousing them. It`s totally predictable that they`re going to commit a crime. And then...
COHEN: You`re absolutely right.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We end up warehousing them and somebody makes a lot of money off of feeding them and clothing them.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And there`s private prisons these days. We`ve got an industry of violence.
COHEN: Yes. And you`ve hit the nail on the head, because the way our system is set up. And now everyone`s so scared that the kid`s going to do something worse. So if you get into a schoolyard fight, they immediately send it over to the state attorney`s office. The state attorney starts actions on these kids. They get sucked into the system, and it doesn`t make them better. It makes them worse.
So you have a kid that may have been just a small-time nothing case and what happens is that kid starts to get worse. He gets sucked into the system. He does 21 days in a juvenile hall. He learns all these stupid things from these other kids.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Exactly. He learns how to become a criminal.
COHEN: Correct. You come in with -- with, you know, something that`s very small and you leave with a lot of knowledge on a lot of crimes to commit.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Imagine if we took all the money that we spend locking up, prosecuting, locking up, housing and warehousing these teens, who are some of them charged with first degree murder. If they kill someone, they end up spending the rest of their lives behind bars. Their families shattered.
But imagine if we took all that money and tried to stop them from committing that crime in the first place by addressing the underlying issues of problems in the home. The fact that they have no outlet. The fact that they have no -- no knowledge of how to practice nonviolent conflict resolution.
More on this teen violence crisis coming right up.
And we would like to analyze this with our expert panel. Michael Vick reportedly inks a reality TV deal. Yet another award for this convicted killer. Are you kidding me?
And then teen violence. It`s not just plaguing Chicago. It`s a crisis affecting our entire country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARNE DUNCAN, EDUCATION SECRETARY: I think we have too many deaths, whether it`s here in Chicago, whether it`s Northern Illinois, whether it`s Columbine. This is not a Chicago issue. That`s what this is about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALBERT: I can`t believe that I`m here and he`s not with me, you know? I can`t talk to him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was Derrion Albert`s heartbroken mom. Four teenagers -- four -- charged with beating him to death on a Chicago street.
Sadly, this is a trend. The FBI says the number of juveniles arrested for murder is skyrocketing, up 26 percent since 2005.
Now back to my fantastic panel. This problem has many, many causes, and I think it has many, many solutions. We want to talk about some of them.
And Tanya Acker, I`m so sick of hearing the same old solutions. Yes, we need better schools. Yes, we need security like metal detectors, but we need to start thinking out of the box. That`s the most important thing. Obviously, the solutions, the old, tired solutions ain`t working, Tanya.
ACKER: Absolutely. And Jane, you raised a really good point in the last segment about the warehousing that we`re doing of kids and how they`re just sort of going in and out of the system. If we could really come up with a way to capture juvenile offenders and really treat them, to do something more than just say, "Now we`re going to lock you up with a whole bunch of really hardened criminals and then put you back on the street where you can demonstrate their tactics."
If we could find a way, or if we would really invest as a society and a community, in saying that we want to treat our young offenders in a way that will hopefully provide them some opportunity for rehabilitation, then that would really be a first step.
RUSKIN: Jane, my -- my suggestion is revamping not only the school system -- system and the education system, but the criminal justice system. And somehow, merging family court or getting rid of family court for juveniles and merging that into the education system, and allowing three steps.
First step is where you have warning signs, where you have to monitor a child. The second is an alternate punishment versus incarceration. And for a serious offender, then treating him like an adult and arresting him, for like the murder that we just saw.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: The problem with all of this is, if you take a look at the two cases that we`re talking about today, family members of at least one suspect in both cases say, "There`s no way my child could have done this." So we don`t know if these children have a history of problems at this point.
A mob mentality led to death in Chicago. Four teenaged boys now charged as adults with first-degree murder. If they`re convicted, they`re going away forever, people. One of their moms say, "It`s not my son."
Ditto with the deadly robbery in New Hampshire. Police believe the New Hampshire case, premeditated. These four young suspects all males, agreed to kill anybody who was in the secluded Mount Vernon home, say cops. This -- this is the victim, a beautiful 42-year-old mom named Kimberly Cates.
Her gorgeous 11-year-old daughter, Jamie, also hacked. She barely survived. The girl bravely found the strength to call 911 and beg for help. She`s now in the hospital. She could be there for a month, trying to recover.
Again, the father of the one suspect in this case -- there`s four suspects -- but the dad of one says no way is his son a killer. Now, let`s all...
COHEN: That`s part of the problem.
ACKER (?): Exactly.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: About these chilling similarities. The most obvious problem, overwhelming violence in each act. Both attacks involved teenaged boys. Both involved groups of males. We`re not talking about girls doing this stuff. This is testosterone. And in both cases, a relative of the suspect says, "No, it cannot be true," Tom Ruskin.
RUSKIN: Well, first off, women commit crimes the same way boys do.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Not at the same rate.
COHEN: Thank you, Tom.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: The stats, please, the stats show that the overwhelming majority...
RUSKIN: This isn`t -- Jane...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... of violent crime is committed by males. Take a look at the FBI statistics.
RUSKIN: Yes, I understand. But a lot of times the girls...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Girls do not go do (UNINTELLIGIBLE) locked up...
RUSKIN: A lot of times the girls -- the girls are starting the trouble that eventually their boyfriends...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, please.
COHEN: I will agree with Tom 100 percent.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tanya Acker, help me out here. Did we turn the tables? Go ahead.
ACKER: There`s no question, yes, girls commit crimes; girls beat girls up. We`ve seen that. But the epidemic of violence...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you.
ACKER: ... that you`re seeing in terms of being bloody, being macheted, girls don`t do that. And I`m not saying they can`t.
COHEN: Sometimes it`s not the actual girl.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Look at the stats, men. Look at the stats. We have to.
COHEN: Jane, I`m not arguing about the stats. What I am arguing about is...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is not about anti-male. This is about the fact that we have to accept, and we have to look at the fact in our country, we are equating masculinity with violence, with all these horrific movies where the man is the hunter and the woman is prey, these "Saw" type movies. We are equating masculinity with violence.
COHEN: Well, here`s the problem. Jane, here`s the problem with your statistics. They don`t show when the -- when the act of violence or the act, whatever the crime is, was sometimes motivated behind a fight over a girl or the girl pushes the guy to do something. Statistics don`t show that. I`m not giving these kids any excuses. Certainly not in either of these cases. What I -- is interesting in both...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jealousy is no reason to commit a crime.
COHEN: No, it doesn`t condone it. But what...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: In this case, these...
COHEN: No, these are -- these are far outside.
RUSKIN: Jane, let me jump in here for a sec. It is senseless violence, but we are seeing it. And now, how do we deal with it? And how are we now going as a society to, A, you know, punish these people who are responsible; or rehabilitate them prior to them committing this act?
These guys, these guys up in New Hampshire went in there with a machete. They had full intention of killing both of them. Luckily, the daughter survived.
COHEN: I`d like to see some parenting classes, Jane. Really, if you look at both these cases, the similarities are the parents say, "Oh, this could never be my kid; it could never happen."
And if you look at a lot of violent acts, if you look at the acts that have taken place in California, you know, with the guy who ran to Canada, who allegedly murdered the young lady in California. His father, "No way could be my son; no way could be" -- a lot of parents...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s called "my dog doesn`t have fleas" syndrome. Yes, your dog does have fleas.
Much more to talk about. Kids are killing kids. And these are allegations in this particular case.
And then, are reality TV fans ready for the Michael Vick show? The convicted dog killer reportedly has inked a TV deal.
In my new book, "iWant," I talk about how I fought an addiction to alcohol and got sober 14 years ago. I want to hear your success story. What addiction have you overcome? How did you do it? Send your e-mail or iReport to me at CNN.com/Jane. If your story is chosen, you could win an autographed copy of my book "iWant" and get a chance to meet me in New York; come to the studio. We`ll reveal today`s winner in a bit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANICE ALLEN, CHICAGO RESIDENT: They need work-study programs. They need jobs for our children. They need somewhere for our kids to utilize their idle time. Idle time is so much with the devil`s worship that he`s looking for someone to devour. He just walked down the street and there was a kid rig there, target.
You know, they had something to do, at least four or five hours where they can, you know, utilize that energy they have, their mind, and keep it, you know, focused on what`s going on in their life instead of what -- being afraid to walk the streets.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was a mother from Chicago, just one of many places where teenaged children are dying at the hands of other teenaged children.
Back with my fantastic panel. Tanya Acker, I have to talk about what our values are as a society, because I think one of the reasons that the kids are angry is underneath anger is sadness and depression. And why are they depressed? Well, I do feel that they don`t have -- it`s a spiritual problem. They don`t have the kind of outlets that they need to have a fulfilling life.
You know what graffiti is? It`s a perversion of the desire to be an artist. I`ve done stories about kids who have been taken from doing graffiti. They`re given some paint, and they become artists.
You know what rap is? It`s a desire to do poetry. But yet, we look at kids today like oh, poetry, painting?
If we had -- kids are pack animals. They will travel in packs when they get to be teenagers and they hit puberty. We can give them good packs, like orchestras and sports teams, or we -- they will form bad packs which are called gangs -- Tanya.
ACKER: Absolutely right. And what we`re seeing with a lot of this violence is that these kids feel powerless. And I think this is -- also goes to some of the gender differences. And one of the ways that young boys in particular -- not exclusively, but in particular -- one of the ways in which they try to express their power is through violence.
And if we can figure out ways or really direct some of our energies toward rechanneling that, then we`d be a lot better off.
But another thing is, you know, we cannot so quickly let these parents off the hook. I mean, when we`re talking about creating outlets, when we`re talking about empowering kids, you know, the parents really bear bigger responsibility.
ACKER: I have friends who are teachers in some really, really tough school districts, and they talk about trying to get parents to come out to school meetings and...
ARCHER: And they won`t come out.
ACKER: Absolutely. The school programs, and they are absolutely not involved. It`s a real responsibility there, too.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, part of that is, Dr. Dale Archer, is that a lot of the parents are young people themselves who haven`t worked out their own problems and, frankly, have no business having kids, because they`re not capable of being responsible parents.
ARCHER: Well, the answer is very simple in terms of the first step. Look, we have sex education classes. We have classes to just say no to drugs. We need classes about violence, because violence now is everywhere in the media.
And teenaged years have always been a very difficult time, but when you throw the option of getting a gun and shooting someone into the mix, it is time to recognize this as a bigger crisis than anything else our young people are facing today.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And let me tell you: it`s not your imagination if you think the violence is getting worse. It is. The FBI says arrests for murders by minors has gone up 26 percent from the year 2000 to 2007. So this is a cancer on our society.
Bradford Cohen, I`m give you the last word.
COHEN: I agree with you 100 percent. Just in my business alone, I`ve seen an increase in juvenile violence. And it`s -- you have to look to the parents.
When I was a kid, my mom wouldn`t let me play violent video games, and I turned out pretty good, I think.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. I didn`t even have video games when I was a kid. I think I`m dating myself.
COHEN: But she wouldn`t let me go to these movies. Now I`m dating myself.
But the thing is, is that you find yourself, I think these parents find themselves being lazy and letting the kids sit in front of a computer, sending them to a movie because they don`t want to engage with the child.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got to leave it right there. We need a solution.
Up next, Michael Vick.
VELEZ MITCHELL (voice-over): Seismic new insight into the David Letterman sexual extortion case. "The New York Post" claims David`s sexual affair went on long after he was married to his wife. "The Post" claims the CBS producer caught the late-show legend making out with his live-in girlfriend in his own driveway back in August.
If there was a steamy little make-out session, could that have been enough to push Joe Halderman right over the edge?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Meantime, we`re talking Michael Vick. He is fresh out of prison and about to be a TV star. The "L.A. Times" reports Vick is doing, what else, a reality show. This is the very same football icon who was the mastermind and the money behind a very sadistic dogfighting ring.
Why on earth is he being rewarded with a TV show? What he did to these dogs will give you nightmares. He participated in the beating, shooting, electrocution and drowning of these pit bulls. Pit bulls just like this one you see cradled there. And that`s when they weren`t killed fighting each other to the death. Vick tells CBS` "60 Minutes" he and his buddies found it thrilling.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL VICK, CONVICTED OF DOGFIGHTING: All because of the so-called culture that I thought was right and I thought it was cool and I thought it was, you know, it was fun and it was exciting at the time. It all led to me landing in prison by myself. Nobody to talk to but myself.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who do you blame for all of this?
VICK: I blame me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: "The Michael Vick Project" will reportedly air on BET and follow Vick as he adjusts to life after lockup. It will even film him going back to his house of horrors, his Virginia mansion, which was a mass graveyard for dozens of dogs. The show is reportedly being funded by Vick`s own production company.
Hey, Mr. Vick, how about donating that money to an animal shelter or some kind of animal cause?
A BET executive defends the show, telling the "L.A. Times," "There are numerous public figures who have engaged in egregious behavior and have been given a second chance."
Guess what? Michael Vick was given a second chance. He stepped out of the big house and he was let right back on to a football field. That`s what I call a second chance.
Straight out to my expert panel. Amy Palmer, senior editor, "In Touch," Attorney Bradford Cohen, and animal welfare advocate, Jane Garrison.
Jane, PETA has said people who abuse animals don`t deserve to be rewarded. Isn`t this in essence rewarding him for his bad behavior?
JANE GARRISON, ANIMAL WELFARE ADVOCATE: Absolutely, it is, Jane. People who torture animals do not deserve to star in a documentary series. If he were truly remorseful, he wouldn`t be doing a documentary on the horrors of dogfighting and then donating all the proceeds to anti-dog fighting campaigns around the country. But that is not what he`s interested in.
BRADFORD COHEN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, we don`t know -- hold on. I take exception to that. You don`t know what this show is going to be about. You don`t know what he`s going to say on the show. You don`t know if he`s going to apologize.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Bradford, go ahead.
GARRISON: That is not true. He has actually publicly stated that he is doing this to clean up his image. I wish he cared as much about the dogs as he does about cleaning up his image. And let`s not forget.
COHEN: Well, let me ask you this. What -- hold on. What if he cleaning up his image by being on this show and what if that does good? What if that prevents someone else from doing what he did?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: How does it do good, Bradford Cohen?
COHEN: I`ll tell you how it does good.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Putting yourself out there as a role model and saying I`m a role model for kids when actually, he`s not dealing with the fundamental issue with the sadism that he exhibited?
This show, according to published reports, is going to focus on strains in his relationship with his fiancee and his kids. It`s going to be a blueprint for kids who are trying to overcome adversity, but where is the humility, where is the making amends? Where is the.
COHEN: I guarantee you.
GARRISON: This to me is absolutely -- I`m sorry.
COHEN: No, I guarantee you that there will be a portion of this show that he will show himself as a remorseful individual and he is genuinely remorseful.
GARRISON: A portion?
COHEN: You don`t know what he went through.
GARRISON: A portion is not enough.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wait a second. Let`s get Amy Palmer in.
COHEN: I take exception to that.
GARRISON: A portion.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Senior editor, "In Touch Weekly." What.
AMY PALMER, SENIOR EDITOR, "IN TOUCH WEEKLY": Yes.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m seeing this not as some kind of larger amends for his cruelty where he really goes in depth and looks at what he did to these animals, why he did it. I see this as a show about him, about Michael Vick.
PALMER: Yes. This is basically a show about Michael Vick and hey, listen, I made mistakes and this is the way that I`m going to make myself - - my public image, look a lot better than what you guys think of me. Let me tell you something what`s even more disturbing.
BET is trying to rebrand itself about family values and uplifting a community. Why are you picking Michael Vick to concentrate on? Aren`t there so many other more important people that you could do a docu-reality series on that could show African-American men that they have more to strive for, to better themselves? Why is Michael Vick the one who is appointed this?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, we have an African-American president, African- American attorney general.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We have so many African-Americans who are leading our country.
GARRISON: Exactly. Exactly.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: My question is where is Michael Vick`s anti- dogfighting ad? He wants to spread the word. Well, why don`t he does a PSA, public service announcement? Tons of major athletes are speaking out against dogfighting. Check out this PETA ad from boxing champ, Sugar Shane Mosley.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUGAR SHANE MOSLEY, BOXER: I`m Sugar Shane Mosley for PETA. I`m a Boxer. I fight for a living. My opponents and I know that when we step into the ring, we choose to be there. And that if we don`t come out on top, we can at least walk away.
Dogfighting isn`t like that. Dogs don`t have a choice. Many of them get hurt badly or are cruelly killed. Dogfighting is dirty. It`s cruel and it`s a loser`s game. So join with me and team up with athletes nationwide in the fight against animal cruelty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: There`s a similar PSA by heavyweight Lamond Brewster and Tito Ortiz is throwing up his fists in defense of animals. The theme of this campaign, "I choose to be in the ring, animals don`t."
I went on the Internet, Jane Garrison, looking for Michael Vick`s PSA to fight dogfighting. Couldn`t find it.
GARRISON: Nope. You`re not going to find it. But that`s what he should be doing. He should be producing a PSA, he should be paying to produce it and to air it, but he is not concerned with that. He`s concerned about his public image and let`s not forget that Michael Vick did not stop fighting dogs because he thought it was wrong. He stopped fighting dogs because he got caught.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Look, Bradford Cohen, I believe in redemption. I believe that he`s remorseful.
COHEN: But not for Michael Vick.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: No. If he`s remorseful.
COHEN: I mean the guy -- listen, Jane, I know you.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Show it. Show it. Don`t just do a TV show. Say I`m going to donate the proceeds of that TV show to the humane society or to PETA or to fight dogfighting. He has come out with one wishy-washy statement so far that we found on YouTube. He`s not doing some kind of national campaign that we can find.
COHEN: No. But we don`t know what.
GARRISON: Exactly. And he`s never said that what.
COHEN: Hold on. Let me just tell you this.
GARRISON: No, come on. He`s never said what is on his mind.
COHEN: We don`t know what`s in the works. We don`t know who he`s donating to.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Hold on, Brad.
COHEN: Let me just say this. We don`t know who he donated to. We don`t know what`s in the works.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I assure you he made a big donation, you would know bit.
COHEN: You know at some point -- listen.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: He would make sure you`d know about it.
COHEN: He did a disgusting thing. But listen. He did a disgusting thing. We can all agree.
GARRISON: It seems that because everyone is going to protesting now he will.
COHEN: Listen, we can all agree that`s something disgusting.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, I will give Amy Palmer the final word.
COHEN: I`m not fighting that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ten seconds, Amy.
COHEN: What I am saying is someone at some point needs a second chance. And yes, did he get a second chance.
PALMER: Nobody is arguing that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Guess what?
COHEN: At some point you have to forgive somebody.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: If I went to prison, I don`t think I`d come back here and have ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL.
COHEN: You have no idea.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Second chances.
COHEN: You would probably have a book deal.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh please.
COHEN: I mean, you know how many people came out of prison that have book deals? I mean look at the guys from "Survivor."
PALMER: Come on.
PALMER: That`s different than a docu-reality show on BET. It just is. Michael Vick, this is totally just him trying to rehash his image. And I think it`s a shame and I think BET really needs to look at this again.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, thank you.
COHEN: I`ll wait.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Outstanding panel.
Coming up, a jaw-dropping twist in the Jon and Kate divorce saga. Has Jon hacked his way into Kate`s personal life?
Then, it was an apparent love triangle. The spark that led to a plot to blackmail David Letterman?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And let`s meet today`s winner. Mark from Jonesboro, Arkansas weighing in at 360 pounds. Mark said food was consuming his entire life. Late at night he would stand in front of the fridge when he wasn`t even hungry.
Last November, he finally started eating right and going to the gym. Bravo. He has lost 120 pounds and no longer needs his high blood pressure meds.
Mark, way to go, dude.
For sharing your story, you will get an autographed copy of my new book "I Want" plus a chance to win a trip to New York city and visit me on the set of ISSUES. You are an inspiration to millions out there in America.
And now, "Top of the Block." Controversy over the top drama, vicious attacks. It`s been one thing after another this week for reality TV mom and pop, Jon and Kate Gosselin. The soon-to-be exes have been locked in a furious war of words despite this emotional and much publicized dueling appearances on practically every TV network.
The show has lost more than four out of five viewers since these two made their divorce plans public. That makes me think hmm, are people sick and tired of these two airing their dirty laundry? Of course they are. Well, maybe. Maybe not.
Now this latest bombshell. Has Jon hacked into Kate`s cell phone and bank records? That`s what the "National Enquirer" is reporting. Now we certainly have no independent confirmation of that. Jon says it`s not true. But hey, the "National Enquirer" did break the John Edwards story.
But before we tackle that mind boggler, "In Touch Weekly" senior editor Amy Palmer joins us. What is the latest on the TMZ report that Jon invited a camera crew to his kid`s birthday party. The two older girls turning 9, I believe. I thought he banned filming at his house by TLC.
PALMER: Listen, I think with Jon every single minute of the day it`s something different. I mean, I don`t know where this guy is coming from. I wouldn`t be surprised if that was true and I wouldn`t be surprised if it wasn`t true. It might be true tomorrow or it might be not true next week.
The guy is totally unpredictable. And you know, I happen to agree with Kate. After reporting on Jon for "In Touch Weekly" since January, I do think he`s been abducted by aliens. I mean I do not know where this guy is coming from anymore.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, he himself admitted he went from 32 to 23 and had one of those regressions that men often have when they go single again and was obviously linked with so many different women.
But getting back to this whole idea of saying hey, TLC, I don`t think it`s right to have cameras in the children`s face because we`re going through a divorce, and then this report that hey, meantime, he`s bringing in his own cameras.
Could that be to videotape the birthday party of his two oldest children, then sell that to the highest bidder?
PALMER: I mean, sure. I mean, like I said, anything`s possible with him. It seems that it`s OK to tape these kids on his terms. He wants to be in control, he wants to be the father of the family, finally, and this is him saying to Kate listen, I`m going to take control of these kids, I`m going to take control of this TV life we`ve created for ourselves.
Just watch. Look what I`m going to do. And listen, if he does it, it`s really -- I mean, he`s crossing a huge, huge line here, especially with public opinion. I mean, never mind Kate, because it seems like he doesn`t even care what she thinks anymore but he is so concerned about his public image.
PALMER: This is just out of control.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s so ugly. It`s really, I think -- it`s a sign of what happens when you sell your soul to reality TV.
Thank you so much, Amy Palmer. Please come back soon. Love to have you.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Explosive steamy new details in the David Letterman sex extortion scandal. The "New York Post" citing sources claims Joe Halderman, who was accused of blackmailing David Letterman, told friends he caught his live-in girlfriend, Stephanie Birkitt, making out with Letterman in Letterman`s car in Halderman`s driveway this past August.
The "Post" claims that last December, months before that alleged encounter, Halderman had also discovered Birkitt`s diary where she supposedly wrote about her ongoing romantic relationship with David Letterman.
Remember, this is while she`s living with Halderman. Halderman`s friend and former colleague, Dr. Bob Arnot, told ABC News that Halderman tried to break up with Birkitt at that time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. BOB ARNOT, FRIEND & FMR. COLLEAGUE OF HALDERMAN: They`re going to break up and she convinces him let`s stay together. It`s over with Dave, it`s done. In August of `09, just a couple of months ago, he sees the two of them in a very passionate embrace at the end of his road and with this, he is furious.
He`s beside himself. He really believes that he has been played, that Joe is the backup guy. And at this point, he`s just enraged.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: While CNN cannot confirm this account, a highly placed source close to Letterman does say that Birkitt, pictured on (INAUDIBLE), was one of the female staffers involved in a sexual relationship with the comedian.
Stop the presses, people. Think about the timing of all this. David Letterman got married to Regina Lasko, a former staffer, this past March. The alleged kiss with Birkitt was this past summer, after March.
Meantime, Letterman`s people tell CNN that Stephanie Birkitt is on paid leave of absence from her job at the "Late Show." Stories about her have been banned from the set or stories that she has been banned from the set are not true, according to the sources.
So as more evidence of the twisted alleged love triangle comes to light, tonight`s big issue, did Dave Letterman open a can of worms by going to cops? Is he perhaps regretting it now?
Straight out to my fantastic panel. Let`s welcome on board, Stacey Honowitz, Florida prosecutor.
Stacey, if -- and that`s a big if. If "The Post" story is true, do you think Letterman knew he had essentially been caught in this kind of ugly triangle? Why do you think he went to the cops? I mean do you think he could be having second thoughts at this point?
STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Well, I think any time any salacious kind of facts come out about you, you might be second-guessing what you did and I think maybe when he went to the police officers originally or to the DA`s office, he thought to himself if I nip this in the bud and get this guy arrested, none of these facts are going to come out.
Unfortunately, that`s not the case because you are hearing about all of these escapades that took place at work.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Stacey, he is so sophisticated.
HONOWITZ: I think what`s unfortunate now is you`re hearing about certain things that took place between them, really were between consenting adults and the issues that we`re hearing about now is, is it really that bad? Is it so, so bad because Letterman was married at the time and it`s an adulterous affair? So I think that`s what you`re looking at right now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, this is not -- this phase of this scandal is not really about workplace sexual relations, although they`re both at work. It`s now morphed into something else. It`s just more gossipy.
And, Dr. Dale Archer, David Letterman is a very sophisticated guy. In fact, he predicted that this was just phase one a couple of days ago. Do you think he`s having regrets today?
DR. DALE ARCHER: Yes, I think he is, but I think the most important fact here is this was not a one-time occurrence. There were many other women that were involved with David Letterman through the years. And I think that it is very important to note, you cannot have a consensual relationship when you have a boss and an employee together, because it`s about a power, authority and control.
And the employee is always thinking you know what, if I do this, maybe I get a raise, maybe I get a promotion and if I don`t, maybe I get fired. So I think.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Brad Cohen, let Brad -- Brad, jump in.
COHEN: That`s a silly statement.
ARCHER: No, it`s not.
COHEN: Any boss can`t date any of the underlings?
ARCHER: Absolutely not.
COHEN: I mean that`s the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard of.
COHEN: You`ve never seen a boss marry a secretary? Because I have.
HONOWITZ: It happens all the time.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It happens all the time, but what we`re asking, Brad, is it morally correct?
ARCHER: It`s not morally correct.
COHEN: Oh is it morally correct? I don`t know because I`m not sitting in his shoes, I`m not sitting in her shoes. I don`t know what.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We can`t judge on morality unless.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let Stacey talk.
HONOWITZ: That`s the problem. Everybody else complains that this person is getting favoritism or they haven`t been able to move up because he`s having sex with somebody else. I mean that`s when the complaints.
HONOWITZ: You have two consenting adults, even though he`s in a position of authority, doesn`t necessarily mean that there`s sexual harassment in the workplace.
ARCHER: It doesn`t mean it, but it`s a very fine line between sexual harassment. And like I said, the woman is always thinking, if I don`t do this, what happens to my career?
COHEN: How do you know what the woman is always thinking?
ARCHER: And if I do, what do I get in return for this? So you know what?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And what about the woman who doesn`t have sex? She may be thinking, wow, had I had sex maybe I would have gotten that promotion, maybe I`d be featured in that little skit out there at the deli.
ARCHER: You know what, go get a job at another company. And then you can have a relationship.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Everybody, stay right where you are. We`re going to have more on the Letterman scandal after the break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, CNN`S "RELIABLE SOURCES": The attorney, you know, wants to make Letterman`s credibility an issue so he can prove that his client is not guilty of extortion. That means he`s going to be disposing other women who worked on the "Late Show" staff.
So when people just reach the glib conclusion that, you know, Dave`s going to skate here because America loves him, and he is a likable guy, I think what they`re missing is that a lot more may come out. This is a criminal proceeding. Dave can`t just decide to settle it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that means more dirty laundry likely to come out. You know, today`s "New York Post" is reporting a bombshell. According to their sources, the alleged extortionist, Joe Halderman, reported spied his rival, David Letterman, making out with Joe`s -- his girlfriend. Stephanie Birkitt this past August.
Tonight`s big issue, did Dave Letterman open a big can of worms by going to cops with the suspicion that he was being blackmailed. Listen to Judge Jeanine Pirro on NBC`s "Today" show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEANINE PIRRO, HOST, "JUDGE JEANINE PIRRO": You know what happens in criminal cases all the time? The jury stops wondering if the defendant is guilty and starts wondering if the victim is guilty. And you know what? David Letterman doesn`t need more bad press. He`s got a lot of people watching his show now, his numbers are up. You know let`s stop the dirt.
MATT LAUER, CO-HOST, "TODAY" SHOW: So you think that the Letterman attorneys should pressure the DA in this case to come to some agreement out of court?
PIRRO: As sure as I`m sitting here, Matt, they have got to end this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Stacey Honowitz, will this go to trial or will Dave push for a settlement?
HONOWITZ: Well, I think as more facts come out, certainly, he doesn`t want to public to know what went on in the workplace. And if he`s disposed and it becomes public, everyone`s going to know that he not only had sex with her, but there are allegations that he`s had sex with other women.
So is there a chance that he would say to his lawyer, let`s get rid of this now, let`s try to nip it in the bud, yes. The other side to this is that, you know, very early on, the attorney for the defendant was saying, listen, you`re going to see it`s not extortion, that he was trying to do, like, a screen play.
Well, the more that they talk and say that he found Letterman making out with his girlfriend, it really, really goes into an extortion plot, that it was almost a revenge-type of thing.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And get this thing.
HONOWITZ: So I think on that end, they better shut up, too.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Prosecutors say they have tape recordings of Joe Halderman, the guy you`re seeing right there, making demands to David Letterman`s attorney who is wearing a wire during their meetings. But according to Halderman`s friend and former colleague, Dr. Bob Arnot, who appeared on ABC, they don`t have recordings of all three of those meetings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL WEIR, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: So whether the motivation was jealousy or greed, it still is extortion in their eyes.
ARNOT: In their eyes, it is. But they have just that last session. There were two sessions before that where Joe was negotiating with the lawyer. And that`s what we don`t know about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Bradford Cohen, criminal defense attorney, the absence of all three.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: . recordings, and he may not have been wearing a wire during all three. That`s why they don`t have all three. Could that really damage the case against Halderman?
COHEN: Could it damage it? It`s certainly going to raise questions about why they didn`t tape the other two, but you`re going to have another witness that was in the room that`s going to say, this is what he said. I mean is tape recording great? Yes. Is it necessary? No.
He can still testify as to what was told to him. There`s always going to be a question, well, why wasn`t this one taped, but this one was taped. And the defense is going to come in and say that.
Do I think it`s damaging to the point that that`s a slam dunk, smoking gun? Absolutely not.
HONOWITZ: Well, he better tell his friend to get off the air, because quite frankly, his friend is on the air saying, was it -- was there jealousy, was that the motivation? That`s great grounds for an extortion case.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And let me tell you something.
HONOWITZ: I`m mad that you`re with my girlfriend.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That is one good friend. I don`t know anybody else who would get there and go up on TV when their buddy has been charged with trying to blackmail David Letterman.
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