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Michele Bachmann Under Fire; Tragedy in Indiana

Aired August 15, 2011 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. It's 10:00 p.m. here on the East Coast. We begin tonight with "Keeping Them Honest" with Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and her sudden silence on a topic she was once anyone but silent about.

Bachmann won the Iowa straw poll on Saturday. But she also seems to be running from her own past statements about sexual orientation and civil rights, refusing to answer questions about her statements. And yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press" also insisting she isn't judging gays and lesbians. Watch.


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I'm running for the presidency of the United States. I'm not running to be anyone's judge.


DAVID GREGORY, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": But you have judged them.

BACHMANN: I don't judge them. I don't judge them. I am running for presidency of the United States.

BACHMANN: I am not anyone's judge and I am not standing as anyone's judge.

GREGORY: Congresswoman, you have -- I mean do you think anyone hears that and thinks you haven't made a judgment about gays and lesbians?

BACHMANN: That's all I can tell you, is that I'm not judging.

GREGORY: So, your words should stand for themselves?

BACHMANN: I'm running for the presidency of the United States.


COOPER: So she says she is not judging anyone, which as you will see in a moment is simply not true. But, mainly, she is just not answering questions about her views on sexual orientation, which is a bit strange, because the congresswoman has never been shy on the issue before. As a state senator, she sponsored an amendment to Minnesota's constitution banning same-sex marriage. She spoke out sharply against homosexuality. She even spoke out about against using the adjective gay in connection with same-sex orientation. That's how outspoken she was.


BACHMANN: It's part of Satan I think to say, this is gay. It's anything but gay. If you're involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle, it is bondage. It is personal bondage, personal despair, and personal enslavement.


COOPER: Claiming that millions of gays and lesbian Americans are living in personal bondage or personal despair, personal enslavement, claiming that the very use of the word gay is satanic sounds like personal judgment, certainly not a fact. She also refers to the gay and lesbian lifestyle, by which one can only assume she means it's a choice.

Yet, in the very same speech, practically the very same breath, Ms. Bachmann went on to describe same-sex attraction as a disorder, a mental illness.


BACHMANN: We need to have profound compassion for people who are dealing with a very real issue of sexual dysfunction in their life and sexual identity disorders.


COOPER: So, apparently, Ms. Bachmann believes it's both a lifestyle choice and also a sexual identity disorder.

You should know that the American Psychiatric Association does not consider it any kind of disorder or mental illness. Now, Ms. Bachmann is of course entitled to her opinion, and it's an opinion many people in this country share. But what is interesting that she is no longer willing, it seems, to share that opinion of hers publicly.

For week now, she has been deflecting questions about her past statements by calling the question itself irrelevant or frivolous. This is the response she has given when asked about it.


BACHMANN: I am running for the presidency of the United States. I am not running to be anyone's judge.

And I am more than happy to stand for questions on running for presidency of the United States.

You know, all these kind of questions really aren't about what people are concerned about right now. I am running to be the president of the United States. I am not running to be any person's judge.

Well, I'm running for the presidency of the United States. And I'm here today to talk about job creation.


COOPER: She is running for president, which is very possibly the reason why she is not answering this question about her past statements.

When asked about those statements by New Hampshire's "Concord Monitor," Congresswoman Bachmann said -- quote -- "I'm not involved in light, frivolous matters. I'm not involved in fringe or side issues. I'm involved in serious issues."

Yet those light frivolous matters were once serious enough for Ms. Bachmann to advocate changing her state's Constitution. By the way, we invited Ms. Bachmann on tonight as we do on many nights. Yet again, our request for an interview was declined. And subsequent calls went unanswered.

Joining us, however, Dana Loesch, Tea Party organizer and editor of, also Democratic strategist Cornell Belcher, who served as a pollster in the 2008 Obama campaign.

So, Cornell, obviously folks in the media don't like it when candidates dodge their questions. But does it have any repercussions on the campaign trail?

CORNELL BELCHER, FORMER OBAMA CAMPAIGN POLLSTER: It absolutely does, Anderson. And actually I'm a little shocked by this coming from Congresswoman Bachmann.

It's the one thing that voters dislike more than a candidate who doesn't agree with them on the issues, is a candidate they feel will flip-flop on the issue or change on the issue when it's politically inconvenient for them to do so, because they fundamentally then cannot trust that candidate.

And if you can't trust a candidate, I don't care what your position is on education, health care, gays and lesbians. If they can't trust you, they're not going give you the benefit of the doubt in any of those areas. So it's deadly.

And the other real quick point about this is, as a woman candidate, there are stereotypes that she has to deal with that male candidates don't. Minorities have to deal with it as well. This has also sort of become problematic if you look like you're being dodgy or you're ducking the issue or you're not certain about the issue. It also sort of feeds into a stereotype that is harmful to women candidates.

COOPER: Dana, from your perspective, why do you think she is ducking this question? Or do you think she is ducking it? DANA LOESCH, EDITOR, BIGJOURNALISM.COM: Well, I don't necessarily know -- I don't necessarily agree that she is ducking the question. I think that she has answered it over and over again.

And my assumption is that, if she is now running, she is now running for the presidency, maybe she feels that this question isn't relevant at a time when we're dealing with 9.2 percent unemployment, and it's all about the economy right now.

I really think that it could be just very easy for her to just say look, on -- on this issue, with the exception of don't ask, don't tell, I feel the exact same way about this as President Obama. I feel the exact same way about this with most people of most faiths.

COOPER: But wait a minute. That's not true, though. That's not true, though. You mentioned don't ask, don't tell. But also President Obama is not defending the Defense of Marriage Act, which she is. President Obama hasn't called this satanic or that people are living a disorder.


LOESCH: No, I'm talking about the issue of gay marriage. And the president has said, well, my opinion is evolving. So if we're going to talk about statements that Michele Bachmann has made and statements that she has made in 2004 and all of that, then I think that it's equally fair, if we're going to do this, then we need to make sure that we give the exact same due diligence to the president's own religious beliefs and the churches that she has gone to.

If we really want to put all of this on the line, then let's put it all on the line. And let's give -- this is the exact same thing that George Bush also had to deal with when he was running for president. He was asked by the media whether or not he felt that non- Christians were going to go to hell.

And I think a lot of the questions that circulate around the issue of religion and when it comes to social conservatives are ways for people to perhaps maybe show that these candidates are somehow not as valid as other candidates who don't have as strong as religious beliefs during the campaign.

COOPER: So, Cornell, Dana is essentially saying that this is in some ways kind of the media trying to show her to be a fringe candidate.

BELCHER: Well, I think her statements sort of speak for themselves.

I think what is interesting here is that -- you know, and I think this is a fundamentally a good thing -- is that when you look at sort of how the American public is shifting on their viewpoint about gay and lesbian marriage and gays and lesbians in the military, you know, you have to seek sort of candidates beginning to move in. As Michele Bachmann becomes less of a fringe candidate -- and, quite frankly, I -- Dana, I think she is your front-runner -- she is trying to mainstream herself.

And frankly, you're looking at sort of where the public is taking the American people on this. The American people have moved on, particularly with that younger crowd of voters -- 11 or 12 percent of our new vote was out there and that was disproportionately younger voters. And they don't even understand the gay and lesbian issue as a political issue. To win those voters, she has to move from where she has been.

COOPER: Dana, I want to just branch off to just talk about Rick Perry. Obviously he entered the race this weekend. How do you see him from your perspective? How strong a candidate is he?

LOESCH: I think he is a very strong candidate. And I think he sort of fills a vacuum that has been created by -- you have Mitt Romney, which grassroots voters absolutely reject Mitt Romney. He has a very moderate record. He has a very inconsistent record. And he has a very -- he can say that he is business-friendly all he wants to, but his record speaks otherwise when he was governor of Massachusetts.

And then you have Michele Bachmann, who is very, very conservative. She has a history of voting against a lot of big- ticket, big-government items during her time in the House of Representatives. And then you have Rick Perry who is right in the middle of both of these candidates. So I think he has the potential to really appeal to grassroots while at the same time I think maybe kind of attracting independents and some more moderates. So I think he is a huge threat initially I think to Mitt Romney, and that's why we're also seeing them going right off the bat and trading barbs at each other.

COOPER: Right.

LOESCH: But at the same time, Perry may want to ignore Bachmann's candidacy as a way to kind of push her to the outside and make it appear as though it's just him and Romney. It's a really interesting triangle.

COOPER: Cornell, from the White House perspective, who do you think they would be most worried about or concerned about?

BELCHER: Look, in the end, I think, from the White House perspective -- by the way, I don't think I could have attacked Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann more effectively than Dana just did.

But from the White House perspective, I think we're going to look at this and say, you know what? Either of these candidates are so in the pocket with the Tea Party. And if you're looking at sort of how the Tea Party's ratings have dropped over the last couple of months, especially with independent voters, look, if you like what the Tea Party is doing in Congress, wait until they have a governing partner in the White House, and they're going to have that either with either Perry or Michele Bachmann, and the way Mitt Romney is running, even with Mitt Romney.

COOPER: Dana Loesch, Cornell Belcher, I appreciate both you being on.

Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter at @AndersonCooper. I will try to be tweeting tonight, although it's been a busy night so far.

Up next, President Obama just wrapped up a town hall meeting in Iowa, part of a three-day swing through Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois. Republicans have launched an ad against the trip, calling it taxpayer- funded campaigning. Is it? We will play you some of it so you can decide for yourself. We will talk about with David Gergen and John King coming up.

And later, the tragedy at the Indiana State Fair. The video is just unbelievable. You will see what happened as it happened. Get the latest on investigators trying to figure out how to prevent anything like this from ever happening again. So many lives lost.

First, let's check in with Isha Sesay.

Anderson, you may have seen the video. An 11-year-old boy's amazing shot at a hockey game. The crowd went wild. The boy won $50,000. But now he may not be able to keep the money. We will tell you when 360 continues.


COOPER: Want to talk now about President Obama's swing through the Midwest, a bus tour. The question is, is it an official visit or a campaign trip, politics or policy?

The president arriving earlier this evening in Iowa for a town hall meeting at a local barn. He was in Minnesota earlier today, all this two days after the political universe was focused on the Iowa straw polls and a candidate from Minnesota. Coincidence? Probably not.

The barn done up in red, white and blue bunting, dressed up like the side of a campaign rally. What the president said though both here and in Minnesota, well, you could argue it was harder to pin down there. There was this moment that sounded certainly like a campaign call to action.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am enlisting you in this fight, because if you're making your voices heard, if you're letting people know that enough is enough, it is time to move forward.


COOPER: The president also promised to put forward a detailed jobs plan next month. And here he is distancing himself from Congress and any partisanship.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: There is no shortage of ideas to put people to work right now. What is needed is action on the part of Congress, a willingness to put the partisan games aside and say, "We're going to do what's right for the country, not what we think is going to score some political points for the next election."



COOPER: So is bad-mouthing politics actually campaign politics in disguise? GOP candidate Mitt Romney weighed in today. Listen.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president has set about a bus tour today going to swing states, and frankly I think the American people would see him in Washington working on getting this economy going again. He seems to be more intent on trying to save his job than to try and create jobs for the American people.

I saw this morning that his approval ratings are at an all-time low for him. That is not because he is not campaigning. It's because he is not leading.


COOPER: Well, the Republican Party is running a campaign ad slamming the trip. Watch.


NARRATOR: The road ahead darkens, and as he drives into the horizon, angry skies greet us. This man is Barack Obama. Welcome to his taxpayer-funded dead-end tour.


That's the GOP's view. This was the president's fifth trip of three days or more. Now, taxpayers do pay for presidential trips. But political parties and campaign organizations reimburse the government for the political portions of the agenda for overt campaigning and fund-raising. It's an old tradition for presidents in both parties and it's a tradition as well for the out party to complain about it.

As for the polling, Mitt Romney mentioned President Obama's job approval rating is now at 39 percent, according to Gallup, the first time below 40 percent in the poll.

Joining us now is John King, host of "JOHN KING, USA," and senior political analyst David Gergen.

John, what exactly does this mean, that they pay for the political portion? How do you decide what the political portion of a trip like this is? JOHN KING, HOST, "JOHN KING, USA": Welcome to Washington.

If he had a fund-raiser, that's a political portion of the trip. If he went to a Democratic Party headquarters, that would be the political portion of the trip. When you're the president of the United States and you say, I need your help, join the fight, the White House would make the argument he means when he pushes a jobs bill. He means when he is arguing about the next round of deficit reduction.

Look, he is campaigning with a lowercase C in the eyes of the law. The Republicans will complain about this. And if it we were back in the Bush administration, it would be the Democrats complaining about this. If it was the Clinton administration, it would be the Republicans complaining about this. It happens all the time. It has forever. It is a fine line. The White House will make the argument he is arguing about policy. He is not criticizing anybody by name. He didn't say the Republican Congress even. He said the Congress.

All presidents do this. But watch where the president goes, Anderson, as president when the taxpayers are paying for it, and guess what? They're key electoral states. That's the way it is.

COOPER: Right. No coincidence.

David, last week you said you thought the president should cancel this bus tour, that that would have been the right move for him. Why? And why do you think he didn't?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he clearly has politics on his mind. One has a sense that the campaign really officially launched this weekend. We moved off spring training and we have now gotten the official campaign with the Ames poll and now the president coming out and answering his critics, slamming back, and clearly campaigning.

And John is right, that other presidents have done this. There was a Brookings study just a few years ago listing the times that both George W. Bush and Bill Clinton went on sort of tours like this and charged it off to the government as official. So it is done all the time. But it's an opening for the Republicans.

Now, on the larger point, though, I must tell you, Anderson, I hope that we haven't sort of switched off the lights on the concern about the economy, because, you know, the truth is the economy is getting worse. I have just been in Europe, back in Europe this weekend. And there is a deepening concern there about lost jobs being lost here in the future, that they may move into a double-dip.

And I do think the American people would prefer to see the president at work trying to create jobs back in Washington right now before he goes on a well-deserved vacation.

COOPER: We did hear some strong words from the president about Republicans today, John. I want to play that for our viewers. Oh, we don't have that. Do you think, John -- you know, Romney said that the president's more interested in saving his own job than creating jobs for Americans. That's not really fair. An incumbent does have to campaign at some point.

KING: Of course he does. And as David noted, the Republicans are out there. Iowa is a textbook example. George W. Bush carried Iowa after Al Gore carried Iowa. Then Barack Obama carried Iowa. It is a small state. It doesn't matter much in Electoral College politics unless you're in a 50-50 presidential election. Then little states like Iowa, New Mexico, and Nevada become a huge deal.

Iowa is a huge deal. The president's support among white voters, especially in rural America has dropped. At these town halls today he is having outside, a lot of liberals are standing up saying why didn't you fight for single-payer health care? It seems like a debate from a long time ago, right?

But, remember, in a close election, politics is about the margins. If he down among whites, down among independents, that's why his approval rating is at a historic low, and a few liberals just stay home. It's not like they're going to vote for the Republicans. Well, then you're talking about a very dicey dynamic for a president who already knows he is in a very steep economic ditch because heading into the reelection campaign.

And look, Governor Romney is going to say what Governor Romney says. The president is fighting for his job every single day. And everything he does as president from this point forward is for better or worse political. That's just the nature of the beast.

COOPER: And David, we heard some strong words from the president about Republicans. I do want to play the sound we didn't have before. Let's play it.


OBAMA: We just went through this debacle with the debt ceiling, an entirely self-inflicted wound. It wasn't something that was necessary. We had put forward a plan that would have stabilized our debt and our deficits for years to come, but because we've got a politics in which some folks in Congress -- not the folks who are here -- but some in Congress would rather see their opponents lose than America win.


COOPER: David, do you anticipate seeing President Obama -- I mean, do you think he is kind of honing his campaign talk at this point, kind of starting to toughen up?

GERGEN: Absolutely, Anderson.

He is moving from conciliation with Republicans to confrontation. Look, he is getting slugged regularly from Republicans, and he doesn't want to become a punching bag. So naturally enough, he is going to slug back.

The question I think becomes, as both sides go at each other, are they going to make it even more difficult to reach some sort of agreement on the debt here in the next few weeks? If the atmosphere in Washington becomes as partisan as the campaign trail is right now, that's going to make it a lot more difficult. And can he get an agreement on jobs?

It's not clear to me, and I would be curious about John's view on this, because it's not clear to me that if you go at each other this way, whether that's really going to help poison or make even more strained the relationship between the parties.

COOPER: John, what do you think?

KING: I think you -- David is exactly right, that is there a grand bargain on jobs, a huge package on jobs? Probably not, because of the polarized environment. Can you get a more moderate deal like we just had on the debt ceiling where Republicans agree to extend the payroll tax? That is a more or less Republican idea. That Republicans agree to extend unemployment insurance if the Democrats find other cuts to pay for it? You will get things like that.

Will the president get a huge infrastructure bank? Doubtful in this environment because Republicans will say that is stimulus, and stimulus has become a dirty word in our politics.

COOPER: John, David, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

A quick programing note. Our colleague Wolf Blitzer has an interview lined up with President Obama tomorrow. You can see it tomorrow evening on "THE SITUATION ROOM" starting at 5:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Just ahead tonight, this -- unbelievable, the collapse of the concert stage at the Indiana State Fair over the weekend, five people killed. The storm slammed into the fairgrounds. But could more have been done to prevent the tragedy? We will take a look at the investigation.

Also ahead, parents who believe it's OK to beat their children when the children are disobedient because the Bible, according to them, tells them it's OK. Sometimes those beatings are so bad, so severe, they lead to murder. A 360 investigation just ahead.


COOPER: "Up Close" tonight, the horrible and deadly scene at the Indiana State Fair. A concert stage collapsed Saturday night as a powerful storm packing severe winds swept the fairgrounds, the video so disturbing. It's incredible. Take a look. It happened so quickly, the scaffold holding up the sound and lighting equipment buckled, crashed to the stage. The tarp on top of the scaffold was ripped to pieces. Five people were killed. Dozens more were injured among the crowd gathered to hear a concert by the group Sugarland. Indiana's governor called the incident a freakish accident. But already family and the victims of -- friends are asking questions and demanding answers. Could it have been prevented?

In Indianapolis tonight, Susan Candiotti looks at how the tragedy unfolded.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Saturday night, 8:49 p.m., 12,000 cheering fans are waiting for the band Sugarland to start their concert, and then moments later, sheer terror.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just the wind blew, and the whole stands just went tumbling down, just like just like you would see a domino effect.

CANDIOTTI: The stage is toppled by winds estimated at 60 to 70 miles per hour. From this angle, you can see it collapse like a house of cards, right on top of dozens of people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the blink of an eye, it was just down. And there were people underneath it, trying to get out, and little kids.

CANDIOTTI: Concertgoers flee for their lives with some fans and stagehands still trapped beneath the mangled metal and twisted wreckage. And then something remarkable happens. People began to surge toward the crumbled grandstand, trying to help, lifting the debris to free those who are trapped. Chairs are used as makeshift stretchers to carry out victims.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was a lot of civilians that were EMTs, nurses, doctors. Everybody pitched in and we were just trying to work toward the people that were trapped under that stage.

CANDIOTTI: Five people are killed and at least 40 people injured in the collapse.

GOV. MITCH DANIELS (R), INDIANA: We're coping the way Hoosiers always do, by putting our arms around those who have been hurt, by moving quickly to repair damage.

CANDIOTTI: Fair officials had plenty of warning that a dangerous storm was heading their way. In fact, they called the National Weather Service four times for updates prior to the collapse.

At 6:00 p.m. local time, a severe thunderstorm watch is issued for all of central Indiana. At 7:00 p.m., the National Weather Service tells fair staff to expect heavy rain, lightning, hail, and strong winds. They contacted fair officials again at 8:09 p.m. The thunderstorm is upgraded to a severe thunderstorm warning at 8:39 p.m.

At 8:45, fair officials take to the stage to tell concertgoers about the severe weather, a mere four minutes before the collapse. And even then, they don't cancel the concert, nor do they order people to leave.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They just came on the stage and said, you know, look up at the sky. The sky is getting dark. Rain is coming. But we're thinking we can get the concert in.

CANDIOTTI: State fair officials say the weather warnings they had predicted the storm wouldn't hit for another half hour. The governor defended their intentions.

DANIELS: I know the people who run this operation. They think safety all the time. And I know that their hearts are broken.

CANDIOTTI: Indiana State fair Spokesman Andy Clots tells CNN, officials made a decision to evacuate a few minutes after the 8:45 announcement and were on their way to the stage when the storm hit. It was too late.

Monday morning, a public memorial service was held for those who had died while the survivors are left trying to make sense of this horrible tragedy. Susan Candiotti, CNN, Indianapolis.


COOPER: So sad, so amazing to see people, rushing to try to help those who were still wounded.

We're following a number of other stories tonight. Isha Sesay has a "360 News and Business Bulletin." Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the worst day of deadly violence in Iraq in months. Officials said 20 attacks on police and civilian targets killed at least 75 people and wounded more than 250.

In Libya, Moammar Gadhafi once again called on his supporters to fight the rebels who appear to be making gains. But there may be another high-level defection from Gadhafi's embattled government. An Egyptian newspaper reported that Libya's interior minister and his family arrived in Cairo today.

Also in Egypt, former President Hosni Mubarak was taken to a court hearing today on a hospital gurney. He is charged with corruption and ordering the killings of protesters who rose up against his regime. His trial resumes in early September. A judge ruled that cameras will not be allowed in the courtroom.

Wall Street kicked off a new trading week by posting solid gains. The Dow rose 214 points on news that Google has agreed to buy Motorola mobility for more than $12 million.

And Anderson, authorities are calling it a carefully planned heist. A small pen and ink drawing by Rembrandt was stolen over the weekend from an exhibit at a luxury hotel in California. The artwork is valued at more than $250,000.


SESAY: Now, do you know the other great artist whose works are a popular target for thieves?

COOPER: No, I don't.

SESAY: Picasso.

COOPER: Well, in general you're talking about?

SESAY: Yes, in general.


SESAY: I was going to give you 100 jelly beans if you got it right, but clearly not meant to be.

COOPER: Well, maybe next time.

Time for tonight's "Shot." During the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we've all seen emotional homecomings between soldiers and their kids, their husbands, their wives, their girlfriends, their boyfriends. But man's best friend gets pretty excited as well. Take a look at this reunion.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you not recognize me?


COOPER: This was posted on a web site called After nine long months apart, our Emmett, Thunder Paws is really happy to see his favorite person again. He smelled him in the house and ran outside to greet him. Dogs are awesome.

SESAY: Very excited. I've got one for you too.


SESAY: Listen carefully for the sirens. That is Skoshi, an American Eskimo dog according Youtube. He is taking his civic duty pretty seriously. Whenever he hears sirens, he howls to make sure everyone is aware that there is an emergency.

COOPER: Like Lassie.

SESAY: Just like Lassie.

COOPER: All right. Isha, I'll check with you a little later.

Still ahead tonight, an 11-year-old hockey whiz makes an almost impossible shot that earns him $50,000. We're going to see why he may not get the money though. Up next, a 360 investigation.

Parents who believe the Bible requires them to spank their children with objects like belts and wooden spoons and other items to make sure the spanking is painful enough. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why not just use your hand instead of all these materials?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look right here, let me show you something. Does that hurt?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn't feel good.


COOPER: "Crime and Punishment" tonight. A report about parents who beat their child to death in the name of God. They believe the Bible requires them, requires them to spank their kids with items like belts and rods in order to train them to be well-behaved happy kids.

These parents appear to be following the teachings of a Christian parenting book called "To Train Up a Child", a book that is growing in popularity around the world. Gary Tuchman tonight has the first of our special two-part special report.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The small town of Paradise, California, where these children lived with their parents in a fundamentalist Christian home. For the nine children, life in Paradise was anything but.

We cover up eight of their faces because they are the survivors, survivors of a violent form of discipline practiced by their parents, Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz. The one case not covered is the face of their 7-year-old adopted daughter Lydia. She was killed by her parents.

Mike Ramsey is the district attorney of Butte County in Northern California.

MIKE RAMSEY, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, BUTTE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: We've heard of, you know, the phrase "death by a thousand lashes." That's basically what this was.

TUCHMAN: This is where the family used to live. The children's sandbox is still here. So is their slide, and their tree house. But the surviving children are now in foster homes, and the parents are in prison.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Violated section 273-A.

TUCHMAN: They pleaded guilty to killing Lydia, and seriously injuring her 11-year-old sister Zariah, who almost died. Prosecutors say Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz beat their children regularly because they believe God wanted them to. The district attorney says the Schatzs believed --

RAMSEY: To spare the rod will spoil the child. And if you can train your horse and you can train your dog, you can train your children.

TUCHMAN: The 7-year-old Lydia suffered terribly, supposedly in the name of God.

(on camera): But authorities say this was torture and murder by parents who were supposed to love and cherish their child.

Inside this house, they found important evidence, the so-called biblical rods that the Schatz had inside. What they were 15-inch-long plumbing supply tubes used to beat the children.

And also important, a book was found inside, a book that appeared to light the fuse to the deadly brutality. The book is called "To Train Up a Child."

(voice-over): Its author is this man on the tractor, Michael Pearl, and his wife, Debbie. They consider themselves observant Christians who run an organization called "No Greater Joy Ministries" from their Tennessee farm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll, I am a preacher, a minister of the gospel.

TUCHMAN: Their book and others they have written stacked in a warehouse on their farm, all of them guided they say by the teachings in the Bible.

MICHAEL PEARL, AUTHOR, "TO TRAIN UP A CHILD": And it says if you spare the rod, you hate your child. But if you love him, you chasten him timely.

TUCHMAN: A rod according to the Pearl's manual in training children could be anything from a tree switch to a spatula. In the book, they describe the rod as a magic wand.

God would not have commanded parents to use the rod if it were not good for the child. The Pearls say parents should stay in control and not act in extreme. But they also declare any spanking to effectively reinforce instruction must cause pain.

(on camera): Let's say a 7-year-old slugs his sister.

PEARL: He would get -- a 7-year-old would get a 10 or 15 licks and it would be a formal thing. In other words, you maintain your patient air. You explain to him what he has done is violent, and that that's not acceptable in society, and it's not acceptable in our home. Then I would take him somewhere like into his bedroom and I would tell him I'm going to give him 15 licks.

TUCHMAN: With what?

PEARL: Probably a belt on a kid that big, a boy. I would probably use a belt. It would be handy. I might use a wooden spoon or a piece of like plumbing supply line, a quarter inch in diameter, flexible enough to roll up.

TUCHMAN: Why not just use your hand instead of all these materials?

PEARL: Look right here. Let me show you something. Does that hurt?

TUCHMAN: It doesn't feel good.

PEARL: Look what it's doing to your whole body. You don't use your hand on somebody. That's a karate chop.

TUCHMAN: But you're telling me that when you use this material, it can't cause a permanent pain?

PEARL: My children never had marks left on them.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But look at the body of Zariah, the daughter who is seriously injured by her parents. These are just some of her wounds. Other wounds and bruises on her body and on the body of her sister Lydia who died are far too graphic for us to show. Lydia was so severely beaten she died of a condition usually associated with earthquakes and bombings.

(on camera): What do you think influenced the Schatz's to beat, terrorize and torment the children?

RAMSEY: The book by Mr. Pearl. There is no doubt about that.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Lydia was beaten for seven continuous hours, interrupted by short prayer breaks on the day she died. The sound of the police siren was recorded by a Paradise police officer racing to the house. When he arrived he tried to save Lydia with CPR with both the parents present.

UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: She has swallowed a lot of vomit.

KEVIN SCHATZ: She was really tired, her vision was blurry.


TUCHMAN: And listen later in the day to the seriously injured Zariah.

UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: Where do you get spanked? Just on the arms and your back.

ZARIAH: On my bottom and on my back last night too, underneath my feet.

UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: Underneath your feet? Zariah, I would like to take you to the hospital, OK?

ZARIAH: I probably need to bring a pot because I might throw up again.

TUCHMAN: At the sentencing hearing, 11-year-old Zariah, who is still recovering from her serious injuries had the courage to address her parents in open court about her deceased sister. She said "why did you adopt her? To kill her?" It's a heartbreaking story. Kevin pleaded guilty to murder and torture and will be in jail for at least 22 years and Elizabeth for at least 12.

(on camera): Do you think if the Schatz's did not real the Pearl's book, there is a good chance that Lydia would still be alive?

RAMSEY: I would think that she would be.

PEARL: We reviewed the case and we tried to find out what would happen to see if there was going to be any blame pointed at us. So we looked into it.


COOPER: I know tomorrow in part 2 you're going to address the question what liability the authors may or may not have. Do they feel badly at all about this child's death, or do they feel in any way their writing had an impact?

TUCHMAN: The Pearls say they do feel badly, Anderson, about the death of Lydia, but they do not accept any blame. They say this family in California lost control.

But the problem with that statement is they are best-selling authors. They have sold tens of thousands of copies of this book in more than 20 languages. And there are bound to be people who lose control.

COOPER: How are the eight surviving kids doing?

TUCHMAN: Very difficult time. First of all, they were all beaten regularly. Secondly, they saw their sister Lydia killed and now they're in foster care. But they're all in different foster homes. They're not together anymore, but we're assured by the prosecutors that they're in loving, peaceful homes.

COOPER: That's hard to believe. Gary, appreciate it. We're going to have part 2 of Gary's report tomorrow on "360" at 8:00 p.m., also 10:00 p.m. Eastern. Gary, coming up, the pastor of a Megachurch found dead in a New York City hotel room. We have details on that.

Plus, the latest in the search in Aruba for Robyn Gardner, the missing American woman and what investigators have learned about some clothing they found during the search.

Still ahead, a guy takes a very unflattering picture of Michele Bachmann and winds up on our "Ridiculist."


SESAY: I'm Isha Sesay. Back to Anderson in a moment. First, a 360 news bulletin.

Several busy subway stations in downtown San Francisco were closed and reopened this evening, under the threat of growing protests. Small groups of protesters gathered to criticize the transit system after shootings involving its police officers, including one last month that killed a 45-year-old man. Transit officials are also standing by the decision last week to cut off cell phone service, saying they were forced to take action to keep people safe and won't rule out doing it again.

New York's medical examiner says more tests are needed to determine the cause of death of a Florida megachurch pastor Zachery Tims. The 42-year-old pastor was found unresponsive in a Times Square hotel room over the weekend. Tims overcame drug addiction and attempted murder charges in his younger years and founded the New Destiny Christian Center outside Orlando in 1996. A spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office says additional tests could take a few weeks.

In Aruba, authorities say clothing found during a search for a missing American woman does not belong to 35-year-old Robyn Gardner. Meantime, a judge ruled today that there is enough evidence to continue holding Gardner's traveling companion, an American man, in connection with the case. Gary Giordano reported Gardner missing on August 2nd.

Casey Anthony's attorneys say they will appeal a judge's order that she must serve one year of supervised probation on a check fraud conviction starting next week. Anthony was acquitted in July of murdering her 2-year-old daughter Caylee.

And an important lesson for 11-year-old twin boys from Minnesota. At a charity event, Nate Smith scored an improbably 89-foot-shot that earned him $50,000.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I, like, know how to shoot and stuff, so I lined it up, and yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So your brother just made the shot.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what did you think, right away?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was like, no, he didn't. He's like, go look over on the bench, and I was just like shocked.


SESAY: The problem is, the name on the raffle ticket that was drawn for a chance at the shot was his twin, Nick, who stepped outside. Their father said it was more important that they fess up and be honest about the mixup. So it's unclear if they'll receive the money. Now back to Anderson.

COOPER: A journalist, unfair coverage of Michele Bachmann at the Iowa State Fair earns him a spot on the "Ridiculist."


COOPER: Time now for the "Ridiculist." And tonight we're adding some bloke called Toby Harnden. Yes, he is a fellow countrymen of Piers Morgan, and that's why I called him a bloke.

Toby Harnden is an editor at London's "Daily Telegraph," the newspaper. The reason he is on the "Ridiculist" because he wrote an article over the weekend that is a pim's cup of Americana bashing, food writing, and perhaps the most unflattering photo of Michele Bachmann that you can possibly imagine.

The headline of the article is "Fried Food and Retail Politics at the Iowa State Fair," and it's about the Republican presidential candidates campaigning on the eve of the Iowa straw poll. As for the unflattering Bachmann photo, this is sort of what it look like.

That is not the actual photo. We had our graphics department made this because Toby Harnden who took the photo as well as wrote the article wanted us to pay him $5,000 to show you the photo, which is about $4,999 more than we were willing to pay for it.

This is a terrible, terrible photo of Michele Bachmann with her eyes kind of rolled back in her head, her mouth open wide and about to bite into a foot-long corn dog at the Iowa State Fair. You get the picture.

Now you can agree with Michele Bachmann's politics or not, even dislike her personally or not, but the photo is absolutely ridiculous and totally unfair. I don't want to get all Third Eagle of the Apocalypse on you, but I have to think that it was chosen for its suggested nature.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The outdoor baggage handling area is in the shape of a phallus. Let's take a closer look. Up here we see the testicle area and out here the phallus.


COOPER: I miss you, third eagle. See, it's kind of uncomfortable to talk about, but the Michele Bachmann photo is just wrong. Setting aside the corn dog problem altogether, it's still just a really unflattering photograph.

It makes that "Newsweek" cover look like it was taken at glamour shots in the mall and professionally retouched by John and Thomas Nole themselves. By the way, they are the guys who invented Photoshop, and somewhere a bunch of software nerds are high-fiving over that reference. So why did Toby Harnden choose that particular photo?

He does mention the corn dog briefly in his article. At the end of the article he writes, quote, "driving away in a golf cart with her husband Marcus beside her, Mrs. Bachmann stopped to buy a foot-long corn dog, a chicken and beef sausage in deep fried batter. After applying mustard and allowing Mr. Bachmann to take the first bite, she chomped into it with gusto." Pretty cogent commentary on the politics of the Republican presidential race, don't you think?

Yes, he also mentions that Tim Pawlenty was wearing cowboy boots and had his foot on a bale of hay. Look out, "Meet the Press." At least in those passages, he took a break from slamming the entire Iowa State Fair. Here is how he describes it, quote, "A huge spectacle in which cattle, pigs, and horses are on display, as well as politicians and Iowans queue to for fairground rides and some of the most unhealthy food on the planet.

Queue to for fairground rides? Is that grammatically incorrect or just British? It's very hard to tell. And let's get something straight. Yes, fried butter sounds weird to us Americans too, and no, it's not the healthiest food on the planet. Certainly not as healthy or appetizing as British staples like this, or this, or whatever in God's green earth this is. Seriously, you think our food is nasty? Sorry, that is the pot calling the kettle black, and by kettle I mean bacon buddy. Yes, I learned about bacon buddies the hard way during our royal wedding coverage.


COOPER: That is a depressing sight, I got to tell you. It does sort of meet my expectations for British cuisine, I will say. That's really what a bacon buddy is?

This is seriously the most depressing meal I have ever seen. And I like McDonald's. I like things that look like this. But this -- it's not even bacon. It's like a hunk of pork and half of it -- half of it is fat. There you go.

PIERS MORGAN, CNN ANCHOR: A momentous day.



COOPER: I would rather eat nothing but state fair food for the rest of my life than have one more morsel of bacon buddy ever reach my digestive track. So Toby Harnden in the "Telegraph," leave our food alone and quit it with the cheap shots or else you'll get deep fried on the "Ridiculist."

That's it for "360." Thanks for watching. John King USA starts now. See you tomorrow.