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Testimony in Penn State Case; Targeting Newt Gingrich; Remembering Christopher Hitchens

Aired December 16, 2011 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. It is 10:00 here on the East Coast.

We begin tonight "Keeping Them Honest" with the Penn State child sex abuse scandal and the clearest account yet from the star witness against suspect Jerry Sandusky.

Now, for weeks we've been getting conflicting reports about what this man, Mike McQueary, saw in a locker room shower on campus back in 2002, saw happening between Sandusky and the boy known as victim number two.

Now, there's the version contained in that 23-page grand jury presentment. There's what McQueary reportedly told friends in an e- mail, claim he made sure the abuse stopped. There's also a third account by a family friend reported in the "Patriot-News" by CNN contributor Sara Ganim suggesting McQueary didn't even directly see the molestation.

So, today at this preliminary hearing for two of his bosses, McQueary finally gave his account in open court On the Record, under oath, and it was a powerful one. He said he saw sexual activity between Jerry Sandusky and the boy, and he told superiors what he saw.

"There's no question in my mind that I conveyed to university officials that I saw Jerry with a boy in the shower and that it was severe sexual acts going on and that it was wrong and over the line."

He went into detail, and our apologies, it is graphic detail, telling the court he heard rhythmic slapping sounds like skin on skin. Then he says, "I looked in the mirror and shockingly and surprisingly saw Jerry with a boy in the shower." He said Sandusky was behind the boy, the boy was against the wall.

He told the court he believes the two were engaged in intercourse but said he could not be sure. "I was not thinking straight," McQueary said, adding that he was "sure the incident was over" when he left.

That both confirms and also contradicts the e-mail that he reportedly wrote, remember, the one we reported on weeks ago saying -- quote -- "I made sure it stopped," but not "I stopped it." There's a difference.

In court, today he described what he did next, saying he called head coach Joe Paterno the next morning, telling Paterno what he saw was "extremely sexual in nature." Paterno, he says, told him he was shocked and saddened.

Paterno then told his boss, athletic director Tim Curley, and Gary Schultz, a university vice president who oversaw the campus police.

But "Keeping Them Honest," according to Paterno's grand jury testimony, which was read back in court today so, that's the first time we're actually hearing the grand jury testimony. Paterno did not notify them immediately because, and get this, he didn't want to interfere with their weekends.

What's more, McQueary's testimony today conflicts with another portion of Joe Paterno's account to the grand jury, that McQueary only told him he saw Sandusky "fondling or doing something of a sexual nature." Now, that's different from McQueary's characterization of the act as "extremely sexual."

More than a week later McQueary was grilled by Tim Curley and Gary Schultz and the alleged act got watered down even more. But today, the judge heard Curley's grand jury testimony also read back. Asked whether McQueary reported seeing an act of sodomy Curley told the grand jury "absolutely not."

As for Schultz, he told the grand jury he recalled McQueary saying Sandusky may have grabbed the boy's genitals while wrestling. Schultz also testified that the allegations were "not that serious."

Then essentially nothing happened. Neither Curley, nor Schultz, Paterno, nor McQueary, notified campus or local police or state child welfare authorities as the law required. When asked by Sandusky's lawyer, why he didn't notify police, Mike McQueary said that in talking to Schultz, he thought he was notifying the police because Schultz oversaw the campus police.

Again, nothing happened. The grand jury found McQueary a reliable witness. They called portions of Curley and Schultz's accounts not credible. They're now facing charges of perjury and failure to report abuse. And that's what today's hearing was about. And at the end of it the judge concluded there is enough evidence to go forward with the trial.

HLN's Mike Galanos was inside the courtroom. He joins us now. Mike, what was McQueary's demeanor like on the witness stand?

MIKE GALANOS, HLN ANCHOR: You know, Anderson, in a case like this we've talked so much about Mike McQueary. So I watched him as he walked into that courtroom. You know, because Jerry Sandusky was the same way a couple of days ago. You watch their every move. Same with McQueary. He's a big guy. He's about 6'4''." And he had this demeanor. He took this deep breath, walked up to the stand. He was ready to tell his story. I thought he was very credible and very succinct in what he had to say and very detailed, which makes him even more credible.

COOPER: And what kind of response did he get in the courtroom?

GALANOS: You know, again, to Harkin back to a couple of days ago when we thought we were going to hear accusers talk with Jerry Sandusky in the room, it was not as intense. But it became so when he began to talk, Anderson, and we knew as we were sitting in this courtroom we're going to get detail, more detail of what he saw allegedly in 2002. And everybody had the laptops out and it was this rat-a-tat-tat of everybody really just transcribing his every word. It became more intense as the morning went on. And it lasted a couple hours with Mike McQueary.

COOPER: What I found most significant about today, is that this was really the first time we heard some of the grand jury testimony read back because previously all we'd had was this grand jury kind of summation of what happened in the grand jury.

GALANOS: Yes, again, it was back to a lot of the details that you rattled off. And even more so as he began to tell his story, Mike McQueary, it was he was at home and he was about ready to go to sleep but he watched a football movie and that motivated him to go to the football offices because he was going to watch tapes of recruits and it went from there.

Again, adding to that credibility, this incredible detail. Because if he saw what he says he saw, he'll never forget, it Anderson.

COOPER: Mike Galanos, thanks very much.

Let's bring in our legal panel, criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos, senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

What did you make, Jeff, of this testimony today?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's certainly just horrific when you think about the case against Sandusky. I mean, the vividness, the detail. And so you know, Sandusky remains in an absolute world of trouble.

I think it is somewhat more problematic for the administrators. Obviously, in a hearing like this the government is always going to win. The case always proceeds. The standard of proof is very low. But when you look at the game of telephone that went on here, McQueary to Paterno to the administrators, it is not entirely clear what they heard.

I mean, sure, McQueary says now this is what he told them. But there have been different versions of that. And so, this strikes me at least as a defensible case as far as the administrators go if McQueary is the only witness who comes forward saying they told him anything.

COOPER: And if he is the only witness, Mark, won't it be relatively easy for defense attorneys to kind of pick away at his credibility given the fact that there right now are three different versions of what he has said happened? MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, it's never easy being a defense lawyer, but I will tell you something. After this preliminary hearing I would agree 100 percent with Jeff. Sandusky is -- remains in a world of trouble, but the prosecutors have a world of trouble when it comes to proving a perjury count here.

Just listening to the prosecution's case here, they're lucky -- they should be celebrating tonight that they got past the preliminary hearing. This to me at least, from the way it's being reported and the little synopsis that's being reported, I don't see how they ever make a perjury case.

COOPER: Why are you saying that? What's so hard about the perjury?

GERAGOS: Because when he's talking, when they're testifying in front of the grand jury, the two defendants are testifying and they're saying this is what he told me, everything that McQueary is saying is conditioned on I believe this is what I saw, I think I reported this, nothing is absolute, and it turns out today apparently he did not see any act of sexual intercourse. And, when one of the administrators is testifying in front of the grand jury, he never told me that he saw a rape, that is factually true, at least based on what was presented today. So I think the perjury case is extremely weak one from a prosecution standpoint.

TOOBIN: I don't know about extremely weak. I was with you part of the way there, Mark. I think --

GERAGOS: Perjury's a tough -- is a tough thing to make. I mean, look at Barry Bonds. The idea today that he was sentenced and given basically a slap on the wrist in that case I think shows these perjuries are tough cases to make.

TOOBIN: They are tough to make. And if it is based entirely on McQueary -- and we don't know that for sure yet. It's problematic. But given the vividness of this testimony, if he says look, I just told the same thing to the administrators and they, you know, reported not hearing that at all, I could see how a jury might convict. But it is a problematic case.

COOPER: It still paints a pretty bleak picture of the response by McQueary, of Joe Paterno -- McQueary going to his -- I mean, if -- McQueary's now saying on the stand I believe there was sexual -- that there was sexual activity. You know, he doesn't seem to have any doubts about it on the stand. If that is the case, why go to his father and then wait a day and go to Paterno and Paterno wait a weekend to call the guy because he doesn't want to bother the guy over the weekend?

TOOBIN: You know Mark and I can talk about the trial strategy here. But talking about the moral issues here, talking about Penn State University as an institution, this is a grotesque story. How many people knew something of importance here?

All of these senior people. What did they do to find this kid? To this day we don't know who this kid is. Victim number two has never been identified because it's now years later. How do you track him down? They did nothing.

From a moral perspective all four of these guys, Paterno, McQueary, the two administrators should be ashamed of themselves. I don't know if anyone's going to be criminally convicted. But on a moral level, this was a disgrace.

COOPER: Mark, without knowing who this victim or alleged victim was or is, I mean, obviously that makes the case all the more difficult.

GERAGOS: It's exactly right. And that's why when you've got McQueary, who I think is equivocating when it comes to exactly what he told -- remember there's a distinction here. He's apparently fairly clear on what it is he saw or didn't see. But when it comes to what he actually told somebody, there's a great deal of equivocation. And that is the key here.

And I don't disagree with Jeff. I mean, there's a whole lot of blaming that you can do from a moral standpoint. But from a legal standpoint this case is I think for the prosecution in terms of the perjury, it's a very tough road for them.

COOPER: At what point, Jeff, if you know, would we actually get the grand jury testimony? Does that emerge at any point?

TOOBIN: Not necessarily ever. It's certainly the way the rules work is the defense is entitled to the prior testimony of anybody who testifies and they can use it to cross-examine. And that, you know portions come out that way. But in terms of grand jury testimony being released, that generally just doesn't happen.

COOPER: Jeff Toobin, Mark Geragos, guys, thanks very much.

Let us know what you think. Follow us at Facebook, Google+ Add to us your circles. Or on Twitter @AndersonCooper, I will be tweeting tonight. I have already started tweeting.

Just ahead tonight: the heartbreaking autopsy results. We finally have the autopsy results detailing what happened to Florida A&M drum major Robert Champion, what his body endured before he died, reportedly after running a brutal gauntlet of violent hazing on this bus, crossing bus sea. That's what the incident was called. Allegedly at the hands of his band mates. We'll have the details on that.

Also, Newt Gingrich. He says he's not a big money Washington lobbyist. He says he's not a Washington insider. But he does take big money. And he does influence friends and former colleagues in Washington. So what exactly is he? We're "Keeping Them Honest."

And later, Christopher Hitchens, who believed in cigarettes and scotch, the power of telling the truth as he saw it but famously not in God. He was blunt and funny, a hell of a writer who lost a brave battle with cancer last night -- tonight, the remarkable conversation I was lucky enough to have with him before he died. Here's what he said about the kind of life he led for decades.


CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "VANITY FAIR": And I rather enjoy the feeling of burning a candle at both ends and living a 36-hour day. But it abruptly was borne in on me that that was an illusion.



COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest" on the campaign trail tonight, the Republican presidential candidates held their final debate last night before the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.

At the FOX event, Michele Bachmann went after front-runner Newt Gingrich over mortgage backers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and his reportedly lucrative relationship with Freddie Mac.


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was trying to see these two entities put into bankruptcy because they frankly need to go away when the speaker had his hand out and he was taking $1. 6 million to influence senior Republicans to keep the scam going in Washington, D.C. That's absolutely wrong.


COOPER: Well, here's a portion of his defense.


NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The easiest answer is that's just not true. What she just said is factually not true. I never lobbied under any circumstance.


COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest," though, that's not quite true. The non-partisan rates it only half true. Speaker Gingrich is not a registered lobbyist. True.

However, in Washington, you can be a lobbyist known in every way except in name. According to PolitiFact's research on lobbying law, you can do almost anything a registered lobbyist can do except meet more than once per quarter with a lawmaker or staffer on behalf of the client.

You can, however, advise the client on which lawmakers to meet and drop your name with. You can tell registered lobbyists who to see and what points to push. Then you can have one big meeting with a lawmaker you're trying to influence to seal the deal. This apparently is what Newt Gingrich did on behalf of Freddie Mac for that reported $1. 6 million. Now, according to Bloomberg news, speaker Gingrich worked with Mitchell Delk, Freddie Mac's chief lobbyist. Delk told Bloomberg that Gingrich provided -- quote -- "counsel on public policy issues."

Now, remember, when this first came out Gingrich said Freddie Mac had hired him in his capacity as a historian. A historian. There are other instances the former house speaker selling his influence in Washington, but before we go on we should note that there's nothing at all wrong with Mr. Gingrich's actions legally speaking. Some of, it though, is clearly at odds with the positions he's taking now on the campaign trail.

Today's "New York Times" has a rundown. Shortly before the 2009 stimulus bill, Gingrich's political committee denounced it and said it should be stopped. And at the same time he was cheering a $19 billion chunk of the bill that promoted electronic health records. Gingrich's Center for Health Transformation had pushed for it on behalf of clients Microsoft and all scripts.

According to "The Times," Gingrich's center also met with conservative house colleagues who were seeking to block renewal of the state children's health insurance program, "The Times" reporting -- quote -- "At the time his center was being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by major drug companies and insurers, groups that would have been harmed by a lapse in the program."

A drugmaker named Novo Nordisk is a $200,000-a-year charter member in Gingrich's Center for Health Transformation. In addition to that, Novo, which is the world's largest maker of insulin, hired a related Gingrich company, the Gingrich group.

Now, "The Times" reports that a presentation made by a Gingrich aide to Novo executives in 2004, emphasized the Gingrich center was "working to insure" that Medicare covered insulin made by Novo. "The Times" further citing for this presentation the claim that Mr. Gingrich himself planned to meet with members of Congress -- quote -- "to help them develop priorities" -- unquote. on fighting diabetes.

Then there's this from the "Times" story. In its annual report to shareholders -- this is a quote -- "Novo Nordisk listed its work with Mr. Gingrich under the category of public policy activities, noting such activities are often referred to as lobbying."

A spokesman for Novo Nordisk later tried to back away from that term saying speaker Gingrich was simply providing guidance and strategic advice on "how best we could inform policy makers." In the end Novo Nordisk won on the diabetes issue.

Also in the end Gingrich's clients won their $19 billion electronic records provision. And also in the end, Freddie Mac paid Newt Gingrich a lot of money for his services. And still he says he did no lobbying of any kind for any organization.

"Keeping Them Honest," though, you can do exactly what he did without being a lobbyist, without breaking a single law. Republicans, Democrats do it every single day. Former senators, Congress members, regulators, even judges. It's called influence peddling. Not flattering perhaps, but not illegal either. And for years it's been speaker Gingrich's bread and butter.

A lot to talk about tonight with Ari Fleischer, press secretary in the George W. Bush administration. You can follow him on Twitter @AriFleischer. Also, chief political analyst Gloria Borger, and GOP strategist Rich Galen who's a former spokesman for Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich.

Gloria, I mean, Gingrich wasn't officially registered as a lobbyist. He seems to have acted a lot like one. Is that going to be used against him do you think increasingly in this campaign?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Absolutely. Because I think in this Republican primary, the worst thing you can possibly be is a Washington insider. Here is somebody who first became famous leading a revolution in the '90s to take over the house and it was his revolution.

And the new portrait that's emerging of Newt Gingrich is someone who may not have been officially registered as a lobbyist but somebody who his opponents would say sold his access and used his influence with people of influence to talk on behalf of his clients.

Now, Newt Gingrich says I have never changed a position because of a client I represented and that may in fact be the truth. But he's going to have to prove that to voters who are very skeptical of anyone who has spent the last 20 or 30 years in Washington.

RICH GALEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Whether or not he was a lobbyist, Anderson, his clients appear to have been very much helped by government -- by big government spending.

BORGER: Exactly. Exactly.

GALEN: So I think it's really a finer point here in Washington than it is outside of Washington.

COOPER: And Ari, I mean, has he been up front enough about what he did? I mean, whether it was technically lobbying or not, I mean, he at one point said he was kind of a historian for --


COOPER: Is that really honest?

FLEISCHER: That bothered me, when he said that. I think he should have been blunt and just said that he worked as somebody who gave strategic advice. He's eventually come around to that position. He was trying to be too cute.

But these issues really are not sticking to Newt. People are saying this about Newt, but this is not what's going to hurt Newt. What's going to hurt Newt is whether Newt blows himself up. He's too temperamental. People just don't get comfortable with his bombastic style. That's what's going to hurt Newt. Not this insider, outsider Washington issue. He's going to be fine on that front. What the big issue is for Newt Gingrich is if it's in a Republican primary about Newt's ideas he can win. But if it's about Newt, if it's about Newt, it can hurt him. And there is a difference between the two.

BORGER: I think this insider thing is beginning to hurt him a little bit. If you look at the polls, and again, it's very early, he seems to be losing altitude. Some of the other campaigns Rick Perry or, you know, running these ads against him. Claiming he's an insider. Perry also claims Romney is an insider.

And when you look at the issues that matter to voters on the issue of health care mandates, for example, was Newt Gingrich was health care mandates? You know was he for the stimulus plan or the part of the stimulus plan that benefited medical records? So you know, these things kind of tend to snowball in a campaign --

FLEISCHER: But that's not insider-outsider. That's consistency. That's character. There's a whole series of other issues that can affect Newt. The whole medical records issue, which was a story in the "New York Times" today, I thought that was a completely bogus, unfair attack.

The idea of medical records is actually something he worked on with Hillary Clinton. It's actually a remarkably good idea to use high tech in medicine. It has nothing to do with whether or not Newt is Washington or is for the stimulus or against it. It's a good idea.

GALEN: The problem, though, Ari --

FLEISCHER: That was a little simplistic.

GALEN: The problem, Ari, though, comes when the entire -- the thesis of your campaign is the government that governs least governs best and in that "New York times" article is like a $58 billion -- as good as the idea was, his clients benefited to the tune of $58 billion or so to jump-start those sorts of things.

The problem I think Newt has kind of writ large is the only thing a lot of voters remember about Newt is what they see on cable news and Sunday shows here on talk radio. And now they're finding out all these other things that as Gloria was pointing out, and he's no longer the, to put a stupid line together, the Newt in shining armor that they thought he might be.

COOPER: Let me ask you quickly, Gloria, about -- I mean, now that the last debate was over before the Iowa caucuses, a lot switches to more of a ground war, pressing palms, wooing local voters. Who has the advantage moving forward on the ground?

BORGER: I think the people who have the advantage are the people who have the money. And I think Newt Gingrich doesn't have a lot of money, which is why he has to be positive. So I think --

COOPER: He doesn't have the money to go negative?

BORGER: He doesn't have the money to run the ads to go negative, which is one of the reasons to go positive, to tell you the truth. So, I think right now in the ground game it's getting out the voters, having the organization. Newt Gingrich just doesn't have that. So, he's taken a bus tour around the state. That will be great. So is Rick Perry. But he just --

FLEISCHER: Michele Bachmann.

BORGER: Yes. Michele Bachmann. But he doesn't have the --

COOPER: How about the evangelical support? I mean, how important is that this time around?

BORGER: Very important.

COOPER: Ari, do you agree with that?

FLEISCHER: I do and a split though. And that's the problem. There are a lot of groups that are very important. Tea party. The evangelicals. There's the establishment. You've got all of that coming into the stew of the caucus. And there's a split. And that's why it's such a fascinating race for Republicans. And remember --

GALEN: And remember also --


FLEISCHER: Usually, there's one powerful front-runner, and then somebody emerges late and you have that two-person race.

Totally usual cycle for Republicans. It's so wide-open. These splits are wide.


GALEN: Four years ago Huckabee only one with about 34 percent of the vote. So it doesn't take a lot to -- quote -- win Iowa. You don't have to get 70 percent of the caucus goers. You can win it with about a third of the voters.

COOPER: Gloria -- go ahead, Gloria.

BORGER: I was just going to say that's why Rick Santorum is actually going to be a very important figure in this because he's going to attract an awful lot of evangelical voters. He's not going to win, but he may matter to someone else at the top of the chart. Right?

COOPER: Yes. Gloria, thank you.

FLEISCHER: And that's my point about the splits. There are so many splits, this is so hard to handicap.

COOPER: Yes, right. Ari Fleischer, Rich Galen, thank you very much.

GALEN: Thank you. COOPER: Coming up: breaking news in the Florida A&M hazing scandal. A newly released autopsy report paints a horrifying picture of what happened to that young man, drum major Robert Champion. It paints a picture of his final moments. The death is ruled a homicide. We have details on that ahead.

And later, we remember Christopher Hitchens, brilliant, controversial, unapologetic to the end. I will revisit a conversation we had in the midst of his cancer treatment.


COOPER: "Crime & Punishment" tonight: new developments in the Florida A&M marching band hazing death.

The death of drum major Robert Champion Jr. is now a homicide, the medical examiner officially blaming hazing.

The autopsy report released just today describes a beating so brutal it caused massive internal bleeding which killed the otherwise healthy 26-year-old less than an hour later. The report laid out the final minutes of Champion's life, saying, and I quote, "Immediately after the hazing incident, he complained of thirst and fatigue. Minutes later, he noted the loss of vision and soon after had a witnessed arrest." The report is talking about Robert Champion's heart stopping.

All of this happening so fast those around Champion couldn't get him to help -- couldn't get him the help he needed to save his life, as you can hear from the 911 tape.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's not -- he wasn't responding. We thought he was breathing. He was making noises. But I don't even know if he's breathing now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. OK. Is he awake? Do you know?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His eyes are open. His eyes are open. He's not responding.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. But is he breathing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no idea. I cannot tell you that.


COOPER: All activities of the Florida A&M marching band have been suspended. The band director's been placed on administrative leave. Today Florida Governor Rick Scott met with the school's president after calling for his suspension over the handling of the hazing allegations. It's going to be up to the state attorney's office to decide what, if any, criminal charges could be filed. I want to bring in internal medicine specialist, Dr. Jorge Rodriguez and former federal prosecutor and CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin.

Doctor, the kinds of wounds this young man had, how badly must he have been beaten to get injuries like these?

DR. JORGE RODRIGUEZ, INTERNAL MEDICINE SPECIALIST: Well, Anderson, they were severe. Let me put it in perspective. Mr. Champion's blood count was approximately 13 grams of blood. By the time that they performed the autopsy, it had dropped down to 7. That means that he lost approximately six to seven pints of blood into the muscles where he was beaten. That's what causes hemorrhagic shock.

It's the same thing as if his carotid artery had been cut and he had bled to death. All the blood went to the bruising within the chest and within the arms within a matter of minutes.

COOPER: So he wasn't -- so he wasn't bleeding externally? He was bleeding internally?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, he was bleeding, actually -- when we say internally we usually mean into the abdomen and into the organs. His organs were intact. He bled into the muscles where all of the beating occurred, which is really almost unheard of. But that's what happened to him. The bruising was so intense and the beating was so savage that he bled into his muscles. And that caused his heart to stop.

COOPER: So would -- if he had been bleeding that much externally, people would have noticed. Is this the kind of thing you would not notice? I mean, he complained of thirst...

RODRIGUEZ: Anderson, yes. Yes, let me make it very clear. He didn't bleed outside of his body. All the bleeding went to the contusions and the hematomas in his arms and his chest where he was being beaten. So that took the blood out of the arteries that are circulating and into those muscles. And he went into what's called hemorrhagic shock. He didn't have enough blood to circulate around his body.

That's why he was thirsty. That's why he became delirious and didn't know where he was. It's amazing.

COOPER: Do we know how long from the time of the beating to the collapse was?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, from what I read in the autopsy, they said it was approximately within an hour of the beating that he started complaining. And that makes sense. I mean, he probably just kept on bleeding into these bruises.

You know what's really curious also? They checked: he had no clotting disorder. He was a completely healthy young man. So the bleeding was so savage that he just kept on bruising, and all the blood accumulated in his muscles, away from his heart. COOPER: In a case like this, Sunny, I mean, there are -- if in fact -- we've had people on this campus tell our Jason Carroll that this was likely one of these hazing incidents called Crossing the Bus Sea, where you're supposed to walk backwards, and basically people just wail on you, punch you as you're walking backward. And they stop only once you get to the end of the bus. If that is the case, there are multiple people who could be charged, no?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CONTRIBUTOR, TRUTV'S "IN SESSION": There are multiple people that could be charged, and there are multiple people that saw this incident. So the prosecution should have the benefit of having a lot of witnesses.

The unfortunate thing when you prosecute these hazing cases is people don't want to come forward. They want to put blinders on, and they don't want to see anything.

So I think this case will largely rise and fall on the autopsy report and on the chief medical examiner in Florida, which is Dr. Jan Garavaglia. Now, she's a bit of a maverick in the community. She was the M.E. in the Casey Anthony case. And so, if you'll recall, she also has her own reality show. So her credibility's usually questioned when she's on the witness stand, but she's...

COOPER: She has her own reality show?

HOSTIN: Yes, she does. And she's a very magnetic personality.

COOPER: Does everybody have a reality show?

HOSTIN: Well, this doctor certainly does. So I think that...

COOPER: Dr. Rodriguez, you don't have one? OK, good to know.

RODRIGUEZ: No, not yet.

HOSTIN: The case may be somewhat complex, but it really shows the savagery that happens in these hazing cases.

COOPER: And I guess -- I mean, clearly, Doctor, witnesses coming forward will be critical. How much of what we've witnessed in the autopsy points -- I mean, does it point to how many people may have been involved in this? I guess -- I guess...

RODRIGUEZ: No. It doesn't. No, it doesn't. It just says that the bruising was so severe. It could have been done by one person. It could have been done by multiple persons. But you know, it will probably indicate multiple people, because it was in different locations over a very short period of time.

COOPER: Do you know -- it seems like it's been a while now that no charges have been filed. Do we know much about the investigation that's gone on?

HOSTIN: We know that the investigation is ongoing. We know that they have certain suspects that they're looking at because of text messages and e-mails that went back and forth after this incident. We have one person that sort of apologized about the incident. So the investigation is ongoing.

My understanding is that they do have some targets, and we will likely see some students being charged with his death, which is really remarkable. Perhaps the message here is that hazing has to stop, of course, and that students can be held accountable for this.

COOPER: Right. We just showed a picture of three people who have been involved, or allegedly involved in another case, alleged case of hazing that occurred to a young woman several weeks before that.

HOSTIN: At the same university. That's right.

COOPER: Right. So those people have been named as suspects in that. But no one so far in Robert Champion's death.

HOSTIN: No one so far officially.

COOPER: Right. Sunny Hostin, appreciate it.

Dr. Rodriguez, as well. Thanks so much.

Still to come, who could forget the so-called Barefoot Bandit? The young man who stole planes, boats, cars during a two-year crime spree, earning him a lot of fans, actually, on Facebook. Well, now a prison sentence. We'll tell you how long he's going to spend in prison.

And later, Christopher Hitchens. Shortly after his cancer diagnosis, he and I had a long talk in his Washington apartment about what he might face in the months ahead. He told me why not even facing death would make him consider the existence of God.


COOPER: So you don't pray at all?

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, WRITER: No. No. I don't think that souls or bodies can be changed by incantation, or anything else, by the way.

COOPER: So do you tell people not to do it for you?

HITCHENS: No, I say if it makes you feel better, then you have my blessing.


COOPER: Well, tonight we wanted to take a couple minutes to remember one of the most prolific writers of our time, author and essayist Christopher Hitchens, who died from complications of esophageal cancer. He was 62 years old.

Hitch, as his friends knew him, was an unapologetic rabble- rouser. No subject was taboo. He was an atheist, who criticized Mother Teresa, compared heaven to a, quote, "celestial North Korea," and wrote the best-selling book "God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything."

In 2003 he shocked his left-leaning friends by becoming an ardent supporter of the Iraq war. And he reveled in his love of drink and cigarettes, which he himself said would do him in, in the end.

Shortly after his diagnosis, he and I sat down in his home in Washington. We talked about facing death in the absence of faith and the unlikelihood of a deathbed conversion.


COOPER: When did you realize something was wrong?

HITCHENS: It was in the middle of my tour for my memoir, "Hitch 22." And I was feeling a bit ropy, but I wrote it down to overwork. And I rather enjoyed the feeling of burning the candle at both ends and living a 36-hour day.

But it abruptly was borne in on me that that was an illusion. There was a morning that I couldn't get out of bed. Something was obviously wrong with my heart and my lungs. This was in New York.

COOPER: You felt it as soon as you woke up?

HITCHENS: Oh, yes. I couldn't move, really. And I thought this is not -- you know, there's an expression that I woke up feeling like death.

COOPER: Mm-hmm?

HITCHENS: I've had that, but this was not like that.

COOPER: You've had some rough mornings.

HITCHENS: This wasn't like that. And I thought, maybe I'm dying.

COOPER: And when you found out what kind of cancer it was, it's the same sort of cancer your father had.

HITCHENS: Yes, one of the first things that I thought was, that's what killed the old man.

COOPER: My dad died of a heart attack when he was 50, and I really don't want to die of a heart attack. Like, for some odd reason the idea of dying -- it's not even the age thing. It's just having that for some reason. So did that cross your mind?

HITCHENS: You don't feel any filial piety about the disease that killed your father. And then the second thought was a rather selfish one, I suppose, or self-centered. I thought, he lived to be 79. I'm 61.

COOPER: So that question, why me, came across your mind? HITCHENS: Well, you can't -- you can't avoid the question, however stoic you are. You can only bat it away as a silly one. I mean, millions of people die every day. Everyone's got to go sometime.

I came by this particular tumor honestly. I mean, if you smoke, which I did for many years, very heavily, with occasional interruptions, and if you use alcohol, you make yourself a candidate for it. In your 60s.

COOPER: And you said to me, you burned the candle at both ends. You think...

HITCHENS: And it gave a lovely light.

COOPER: It gave a lovely light. But you think part of that, the way you lived, is responsible for this?

HITCHENS: Well, it would be very idle to deny it. And I might as well say it to anyone who might be watching, if you can hold it down on the smokes and the cocktails, you might be well advised to do so.

COOPER: That's probably the subtlest anti-smoking message I've ever heard.

HITCHENS: Well, the other ones tend to be rather strident.

COOPER: That's true.

HITCHENS: And, for that reason, easy to ignore.

COOPER: Yes. So you are hopeful?

HITCHENS: Well, I'm not fatalistic. I'm not resigned. But I'm realistic, too. The statistics in my case are very poor. Not many people come through esophageal cancer and live to tell about it. Not for long.

COOPER: I know you know that there are people praying for you, that there are prayer groups, actually. And you talked about that a little bit. What do you think about that, the fact that people are praying for you?

HITCHENS: There are people who are praying for me to suffer and die. They have lavish Web sites relishing my...

COOPER: Really?

HITCHENS: Oh, yes. And then there are people, much more numerous, I must say, and nicer, who are praying either that I get better or that I redeem myself, that I make peace with the Almighty.

COOPER: That...

HITCHENS: That my soul gets saved even if my wretched carcass does not. And some pray for both.

COOPER: So you don't pray at all?

HITCHENS: No. No. That's all -- that's meaningless to me. I don't think that souls or bodies can be changed by incantation, or anything else, by the way.

COOPER: So do you tell people not to do it for you?

HITCHENS: No. I say if it makes you feel better, than you have my blessing.

COOPER: It's interesting hearing you talk about it. It's -- I mean, obviously you are an intellectual, and you seem to be dealing with it in an intellectual way. I mean, does that make sense? You seem to be looking at this, trying to look at this as rationally as possible. What about the emotional side?

HITCHENS: Well, let's say as objectively as possible.

COOPER: Objectively.

HITCHENS: Yes. And slightly to my own surprise, because I'm not by any means tear proof, I haven't wept at any point yet. Maybe that's to come. But I've become moist when I think about my children, for whom it's a nasty shock.

COOPER: Actually, I want to read something else that you wrote. You said, "I've been in denial for some time, knowingly burning the candle at both ends and finding that it often gives a lovely light. But for precisely that reason I can't see myself smiting my brow with shock or hearing myself whining about how it's all so unfair. I've been taunting the reaper to taking a free scythe in my direction. I've now succumbed to something so predictable and banal that it bores even me. Rage would be beside the point for the same reason."

Do you find this boring in a way?

HITCHENS: Yes. In fact, I almost think that's what will kill me.

COOPER: The mundane nature...

HITCHENS: Yes. Of having to sit through chemotherapy, for example, is an almost Zen experience of boredom. You can't do much except read. You don't feel great. And you're watching poison go into your arm.

People saying you should be struggling, battling cancer. You're not battling it. You couldn't be living a more passive moment than that. You feel as if you're drowning in powerlessness.

COOPER: In a moment of doubt, isn't there -- I don't know, I just find it fascinating that even when you're alone and, you know, no one else is watching, that there might be a moment where you, you know, want to hedge your bets. HITCHENS: If that comes, it will be when I'm very ill. When I'm half-demented, either by drugs or by pain. I won't have control over what I say. I mention this in case you ever hear a rumor later on. Because these things happen, and the faithful love to spread these rumors. That on his deathbed, he finally -- I can't say that the entity that by then wouldn't be me wouldn't do such a pathetic thing, but I can tell you that not while I'm lucid, no. I could be quite sure of that.

COOPER: So if there is some story that on your deathbed...

HITCHENS: Don't believe it.

COOPER: Don't believe it.

HITCHENS: Don't credit it, no.


COOPER: Christopher Hitchens, dead at 62. There is no one else like him. We'll be right back.


SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Susan Hendricks with the "360 News & Business Bulletin."

Senate leaders, failing to come up with a plan to extend the payroll tax holiday for another year, are instead proposing a two- month extension. A vote by the full Senate could come tomorrow. It would then go to the House.

The Securities and Exchange Commission charging six former executives of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with securities fraud today. The suit claims they knowingly approved misleading statements, downplaying the size and the risk of subprime loans.

Army Private Bradley Manning in court today. He is charged with turning over secret documents to WikiLeaks. The judge rejecting a defense request for the investigating officer to step down, because he also served in a civilian job with the Justice Department. Manning's lawyers are appealing that decision.

And a judge sentencing Colton Harris Moore, also known as the Barefoot Bandit -- remember him -- to more than seven years in prison. Moore went on a two-year crime spree, escaping arrest with stolen boats, cars, and planes.

Homerun record holder Barry Bonds avoiding jail time for his conviction for obstructing justice in baseball's federal steroid probe. Instead, a judge sentenced him today to two years of probation, a $4,000 fine, and community service.

CNN has confirmed Kobe Bryant's wife, Vanessa, is filing for divorce. After more than ten years of marriage, she is citing irreconcilable differences. The couple, they have two daughters, and the divorce comes eight years after Vanessa famously stuck by Kobe after he admitted having sex with a woman at a Colorado hotel.

And in "The Connection" tonight, Google has scored the U.S. patent for self-driving cars. You heard right. Cars that drive themselves, with no human input. They use radar, video cameras, lasers to navigate traffic. Google says that computer-powered cars will be safer than having humans behind the wheel. According to the "L.A. Times," driverless cars have logged more than 140,000 miles on California roads as part of the Google project.

Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Still ahead tonight, if your dog is acting paranormal, he's got company on tonight's RidicuList.


COOPER: Time now for "The RidicuList." Tonight we're adding the supernatural spirits that possessed this poodle. Yes, you heard me right. It's a harrowing tale of one woman's journey to the dark side because of a purebred toy poodle named Princess.

To really set the scene, we have to take a look at a video the woman posted on YouTube.


GRAPHIC: What would you do if you came home to find your normally sweet-natured dog suddenly and inexplicitly acting strange and out of character?


COOPER: That's a good question. What would you do if you came home and your dog was suddenly and inexplicably acting strange and out of character? How would you possibly know how to deal with the situation? There's simply no way to know how to deal with it. Until now.


GRAPHIC: To know how to deal with the situation, get "Paranormal Pooch: A True Story of the Dog Who Healed One Family" by Olga Horvat.


COOPER: That's right. Self-described award-winning artist and color therapist Olga Horvat has finally written the book on poodle possession. And it's about time.

The video goes on for more than two minutes, by the way, as does that rocking keyboard jam. You can Google it. I'll just cut to the chase.

The book is called "Paranormal Pooch," and it's described as an eye-opening story about one family's four-month sojourn into the dark and unknown side of the canine world. On her Web site Olga writes that her poodle was possessed by supernatural forces and brought a spell of bad luck to the household.

Now, look, I know some skeptics are probably thinking, dogs don't get possessed. This woman is just trying to sell books. But that is where you're wrong. She's also trying to sell energy shields.

What's an energy shield? And what does it do, you might ask? Well, clearly the energy shield defends against negative energies like electromagnetic waves from computers, microwaves, cell phones, radio, and TV transmissions and other electrical devices. All for the low price of $197 at

And yes, to the untrained eye, I admit, the energy shield may look like nothing more than one of those little canister key chains you can get for about five bucks. But do you think some cheap regular old key chain would protect you from the negative energy that's coming from your microwave? Yes, good luck with that.

Of course you're going to pay for that kind of protection. Luckily, you can get a package deal, though. A hardcover copy of "Paranormal Pooch" and two energy shields -- one for you, one for your demon poodle -- that's going to run you $388.

Totally your call, of course. It's totally your call. But if you decide to take your chances, do not come crying to me if you come home one day and your dog is possessed by supernatural spirits.

Starting next week, we're counting down the top ten "RidicuLists" of the year. We want you to help us pick them. Go to and vote for your favorite. We'll start airing the top ten Monday, December 19.

That does it for us tonight. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.