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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Chaos Overseas; Interview with Representative Peter King of New York; Scouts Accused Of Protecting Molesters; Chicago Teachers Strike Continues; Occupy Wall Street Marks One Year Anniversary; Suits Filed against Media by Britain's Royal Family; Little Giant; Overrated and Overhyped; Helping Disabled Athletes;

Aired September 17, 2012 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome, everybody.

STARTING POINT this morning: chaos overseas. Overnight, violence raged in Pakistan, Iraq and outside the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan. Hundreds of protests in the streets after a deadly weekend for U.S. troops, including American soldiers were killed by insurgents dressed as American military members.

And the perversion files. Literally, that's what it was called. A new report claims hundreds of cases of sex abuse in the Boy Scouts were covered up for more than 20 years.

Plus, no class for 350,000 students. Chicago teachers are back on those picket lines this morning. Now, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is taking it to the courts.

It's Monday, September 17th. And STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC)

O'BRIEN: Welcome.

Our team this morning: Ron Brownstein is the editorial director of "The National Journal". Bridget Siegel is the author of "Domestic Affairs", former finance director for John Kerry's presidential campaign. Will Cain is a columnist for TheBlaze.com.

John Berman is the anchor of "EARLY START". He's helping us out with the news this morning.

Nice to have you all.

Our STARTING POINT this morning is chaos overseas in the latest hot spots. Protests have become angry and violent near U.S. bases and NATO bases in Kabul. An Afghan police official says at least 15 officers have been injured in the protests against an offensive anti- Islam film.

Anti-U.S. sentiment is also flaring in Pakistan. Police spent the weekend pushing back protesters who were trying to storm the U.S. consulate in Karachi. One person was killed.

In Iraq, a suicide bomber drove his car into a check point in one of the Green Zones in Baghdad. He killed at least seven people.

Let's go right to Anna Coren. She's live for us in Kabul.

What's the latest, Anna, where you are?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Soledad, you know, we've seen this violence spread across the Muslim world. And it's been some days before it's hit Afghanistan. But early this morning, there were protests -- some 300 people trying to make their way to the U.S. embassy. But they were stopped by police and there were violent clashes that ensued.

Some 15 police officers were injured including the commander. Protesters attacked police cars. They turned them on fire and were burning at tires. So, violent things down there.

We got within a couple hundred meters of those protests. But we got reports people were firing shots and targeting Westerners, so we could only get so close to what was going on.

But certainly people are angry about this film, this inflammatory film. And despite the best efforts of the president and his government to suppress or try and stop people viewing that video, they've put a ban on it on YouTube, obviously that has not worked. And people have got word of what has been going on and they have taken it to the streets here in Kabul.

O'BRIEN: Anna Coren with an update for us this morning from Kabul. Thanks, Anna. Appreciate it.

Let's bring in Congressman Peter King. He's a Republican representing New York. He's also the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.

It's nice to see you, sir. Thanks for talking with us.

You heard Anna's report there.

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Thank you, Soledad. Thank you.

O'BRIEN: We also know over the weekend, from Friday to Sunday, you had attackers who were dressed as Afghan police forces who pulled off attacks. And also attackers who were dressed in U.S. military outfits who pulled off attacks.

This is strategy with the U.S. military outfits we haven't seen in two years. How concerned are you as you see this strategy resurface?

KING: We have to be concerned, because this is one way they've been able to penetrate our defenses. We have to find a way to stop it. I don't believe that this should force us to leave Afghanistan any earlier. We can't allow tactics like this to change our ultimate mission. But the fact is that American lives are being lost and I've actually called on the DNI, director of national intelligence, working with all the intelligence agencies, to find out why this is happening. I know we had a meeting with General Petraeus on Friday. I know the CIA is giving it a lot of attention.

But we have to stop -- we have to stop this now, because we can't allow -- it's still a handful of people to drive a policy in Afghanistan or to stop our policy in Afghanistan. But, again, I lost a constituent of mine several weeks ago in one of these attacks.

It's bad enough when you're killed in battle. But to have it by people sneaking in or actually people supposedly on our side turning against us, this can't be tolerated. We have to find out a way to stop it.

O'BRIEN: Do we know at this point -- do we know the attackers are actually U.S.-trained or is it sort of sneaking in and just getting access to military uniforms? We're told -- my CNN colleagues have seen those U.S. military uniforms for sale in open bazaars.

KING: Yes. In this particular case, it could have been people just buying uniforms. Again, I don't want to go into all the details. General Petraeus gave us a pretty good breakdown. An arithmetic breakdown as to what's inside, what's outside, who have been trained by us, who haven't.

The fact is it is somewhat of a complex situation but it is one we have to be able to address. We can't allow American troops to --

O'BRIEN: So you lost me there for a second.

KING: -- we shouldn't allow be to be killed in any fashion, but certainly not like this.

O'BRIEN: I'm sorry. Are you saying that, yes, in fact that troops that we have trained, Afghan troops that we have trained are responsible for then turning and attacking American soldiers, or are you saying that these are some insurgents who've just gotten access to the uniforms? Which is it? Or both?

KING: It's a combination. I mean, obviously, there have been troops, there have been police in particular who have been trained by us, working with us who have turned against our troops. There have been others who have come in camouflaged as our allies and others somewhere in between. Others are Taliban who have infiltrated into it.

But there definitely have been certainly with police, police, Afghan police, who have been trained by Americans who have turned their guns on Americans, yes.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk about Libya for a moment. We know that there have been some arrests. I guess there's a number of people brought in for questioning.

Are we closer to tracking down the people who killed an American ambassador to Libya and three others?

KING: Yes. It's difficult to say because the FBI is over there. But it's hard to carry out an investigation on the ground right now. That is such a -- Libya itself is confusing.

That Benghazi area is one of the most confusing of all. It's an al Qaeda stronghold out there. There's also Ansar al-Sharia, which is basically a conglomeration of jihadist paramilitaries.

So I can't tell you with any real certainty how accurate these investigations are. A lot of people have been picked up by the Libyan authorities. How guilty they really are, I don't know.

We're still in the fog of war. We're in an area where we don't have that many assets on the ground. We have a Libyan government which I think actually to give them credit, I think the Libyan government itself is trying to work with us.

Unlike President Morsi in Egypt, Libyans are trying. But it's a very new government. It's ineffective government.

Out in Benghazi, there's virtually no security. We're talking about a consulate which had, again, virtually no security. There were no military back-ups for our ambassador out there. That's almost a no man's land out there.

So I'm, again, the Libyan authorities working with American authorities, but it's still difficult for the FBI, I think, to get a real take on who's responsible and who's not.

O'BRIEN: Let me play a little bit of what you said on Friday. You talked about the president going on an apology tour. I want to play a little chunk of that.

KING: Right.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: President Obama's policies in summer of 2009, he took his apology, I believe have not helped the United States. They have weakened our position in the Middle East. They have provided -- sent a very mixed message, a confusing message. Combine that with the way he treats Netanyahu and Israel, and the pulling troops out of Iraq without getting status of forces agreement, the apologies.

You put it all together and I think what we saw this week is in many ways a logical result of all that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Let's talk about that last line. What we saw this week is in many ways a logical result of all that. Are you saying that the president is responsible and his policies responsible for the death of American ambassador to Libya?

KING: I'm saying the president's policies have sent a confused message. For instance, take Egypt. Here is a country getting $1.6 billion in aid, annual aid, from the United States. You have President Morsi for the first day, the entire day of our embassy being under attack, did virtually nothing to protect us and was actually putting out statements in Arabic where he was sympathizing with the demonstrators and those attacking the American embassy.

What it's done is it's created a climate, it's created an attitude in the Middle East where our allies don't trust us, where those who are undecided are starting to hedge their bets and turn against us. For instance in Iraq, the president talks about how he pulled out troops out of Iraq. The fact is he was given a glide path in Iraq. He pulled the truth out without get establish of forces agreement, leaving any troops behind. Now Iran is emerging as a major power in that region where if we had our troops there that would not happen.

O'BRIEN: But you've been talking about an apology tour. As you know that matches the framing of other people.

Donald Rumsfeld says he's made a practice of trying to apologize for America, he's talking about the president.

Mitt Romney has said I will not and never apologize for America. I don't apologize for America.

Tim Pawlenty back in February was saying, Mr. President, stop apologizing.

Where do you see an apology? You called it an apology tour. You said the apologies. What apologies are you specifically talking about?

KING: I would say when he was in Cairo in 2009, when he was basically apologizing for American policies, saying American policies sometimes have gone too far --

O'BRIEN: Never once in that speech, as you know, which I have the speech right here. That was -- he never once used the word apology. He never once said I'm sorry.

KING: Didn't have to. The logical -- any logical reading of that speech or the speech he gave in France where he basically said that the United States can be too aggressive --

O'BRIEN: That was on April 3rd in 2009. Right. But that's not apology. People --

KING: It is. I do consider it -- we're apologizing for -- we have nothing to apologize to the Muslim world at all. We have not sacrificed our ideals.

He was overseas criticizing American officials and the CIA and others when he says that we lost our ideals. These are the people who kept us safe for eight, nine years against Islamic terrorists.

O'BRIEN: Everybody keeps talking about this apology tour and apologies from the president.

KING: It is.

O'BRIEN: I'm trying to find the words I'm sorry, I apologize in any of those speeches. Which I have the text of all those speeches in front of me. None of those speeches at all, if you go to factcheck.org which we check in a lot, they all say the same thing. They fact check this.

KING: I don't care what fact check says.

O'BRIEN: There are fact checks. You may not care, but they're a fact checker. I'm reading the speeches.

KING: No. Soledad, what I'm saying is any common sense interpretation of those speeches, the president's apologizing for the American position. That's the apology tour.

That's the way it's interpreted in the Middle East. If I go over and say that the U.S. has violated its principles, that the United States has not shown respect for Islam, that's an apology. How else can it be interpreted?

O'BRIEN: I think plenty of people are interpreting it as a nuanced approach to diplomacy is how some people are interpreting it. So I don't think that everybody agrees it's apology.

KING: I don't interpret it that way.

O'BRIEN: Clearly.

KING: More importantly, our enemies don't interpret it that way.

O'BRIEN: I don't know that that's necessarily the case. I think that's what we're trying to figure out.

KING: I think it is. That's where we have an honest difference of opinion.

RON BROWNSTEIN, NATIONAL JOURNAL: Congressman, Ron Brownstein, can I ask you one quick question? If there was a Republican administration today, a President Romney, what would they be doing differently in response to this wave of protests that's emerged?

KING: First of all, we knew before the September 11th demonstrations in Cairo that they were going to occur. We would have -- sure, I hope that President Morsi was told that he had to have his security forces out on the street, don't dare let anyone near the American embassy, don't let them tear down the American flag, don't let them put up an al Qaeda flag. I would hope.

And again, this s-- I had to play Monday morning quarterback on security issue. I hope we would have had more security in Benghazi when the ambassador went there. That to me on September 11th, you had no extra security in an al Qaeda stronghold in Libya, to me, appears to have been irresponsible. Again, I'm holding back on that only a little because I hate to be a Monday morning quarterback on security issues. As far as President Morsi in Egypt, we had 24 to 48 hours' notice there would be demonstrations in Egypt. We should have made sure that President Morsi moved and acted and did not allow that time to go by as he did, putting American lives at risk.

O'BRIEN: Peter King, part of the reason we have you on is so you can do a little Monday morning quarterbacking for us. We appreciate your time this morning. Thanks for talking with us.

KING: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: You bet.

KING: Soledad, thank you.

O'BRIEN: You bet.

The rest of the top stories, let's get right to John Berman.

You got that.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Soledad.

Striking teachers in Chicago may be forced to go back to work if Mayor Rahm Emanuel has his way. Emanuel is expected to seek a court order today to force them back into the classroom. This is the second week of the strike now, 350,000 students are out of class.

The two sides did reach an agreement this weekend, but the teachers union says it needs time to explain the details to members. They've delayed any vote until tomorrow.

President Obama is filing an unfair trade complaint against China with the World Trade Organization. The White House claims Beijing is trampling on trade laws by imposing more than $3 billion in duties on U.S. auto exports, creating an unfair advantage for China's automakers and parts manufacturers.

The president will make that announcement today while he's campaigning in Ohio, a state that relies heavily on the auto parts industry for job. Also a swing state.

Mitt Romney for his part campaigns in southern California today taking his message directly to Hispanic business owners. Romney will address the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Annual Conference in Los Angeles.

But it may not be the friendliest of audiences. President Obama is outpolling Romney 2-1 among Hispanic voters.

Fifty days now until the election. And "Saturday Night Live" has a new President Obama. "SNL" kicked off its new season with cast member Jay Pharoah taking over the reins from Fred Armisen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAY PHAROAH, ACTOR: So, America, I know you're not in love with me anymore. But I want you to know that my heart still beats for you. And I can prove it. I, so in love with you.

That was fun, right? So do you want that or this? E-I-E-I-O

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is Jason Sudeikis who is still playing Mitt Romney. Taran Killam will be Paul Ryan, and Jay Pharaoh, man is he good at President Obama.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. He's great. Black guy playing the Black guy. I like that. That's an interesting thing. He looks really good. Apparently, they had to do his ears, right? You know, I got little secrets from "SNL." Yes, they gave him bigger ears. If you look at his before and after, the makeover pictures, it's pretty good work they did.

All right. We've got to take a break. Still ahead this morning, probably not a good idea to post your favorite sports team on Facebook if you're supposed to be a ref in the game when one of the teams is playing. We'll tell you how one official got himself tossed before the game even started. It's our "Tough Call" this morning.

Yes, it is. It is.

(LAUGHTER)

Plus, a damning new report claims the boy scouts covered up child molesters for decades. We'll talk to one of the reporters who broke that story. It's coming up next. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Boy Scouts of America refer to them as the perversion files. Records that scouting officials used to blacklist alleged molesters to keep them out of the boy scouts. And the "Los Angeles Times" has gotten a look at thousands, volumes of these files, hundreds of documents that detail allegations against Boy Scout personnel and volunteers.

The paper found a shocking pattern of protecting and covering up for the accused. Let's bring in one of the reporters for the story. Jason Felch is with us this morning. It's nice to see you. So, 1,600 confidential files over roughly 20 years, 1970 to 1991. How were they kept? How did you get access?

JASON FELCH, REPORTER, LOS ANGELES TIMES: Yes. The Boy Scouts of America have been keeping this confidential file for the last 100 years. We were able to obtain about 1,600 of the remaining files, because they were entered as evidence into a civil trial in California in 1992. So, our analysis of these files covers 1970 through 1991. O'BRIEN: And what did you find when you analyzed the files?

FELCH: Well, in many of the cases, the Boy Scouts first learned about the abuse from police or from news accounts. In the 500 cases we found where the Boy Scouts had firsthand knowledge of abuse, in about 80 percent of those cases, there's no indication that the authorities were contacted.

In about 100 of those cases, there are clear indications that the Boy Scouts were trying to keep the information from parents, from the news media, or from others.

O'BRIEN: So, when you say clear indications, what do you mean by clear indications that they were trying to do a cover-up?

FELCH: Well, sometimes, it's explicit as exactly that. In one case, after a boy was molested at a scout camp, a father counseled the boy, a priest, and advised him not to tell his parents about what had happened. That priest was later convicted of sexual abuse himself and was the subject of a large legal settlement.

O'BRIEN: You had an opportunity to talk to some of these abused Boy Scouts. What did they tell you?

FELCH: Well, it's -- it's a difficult conversation to have. For many of these -- these are now men who were abused when they were nine, 10 or 11. And it's many years later for most of them, but this event in their lives, which sometimes happened in a single day, has stayed with them and oftentimes has kind of changed the course of their lives.

So, -- and one man I spoke with told me that this -- this thing that had happened to him one night in the 1970s was the Pandora's Box of his life. Something he didn't want to revisit.

O'BRIEN: You know what I find so interesting. You quote a guy, Dr. Thomas Kowalski, in your article, and he's a chairman of health and safety for the Milwaukee County Council, prominent physician in the state, author of the Wisconsin laws on child abuse. So, he was a guy who actually had allegations of child sex abuse against him. What happened to this doctor?

FELCH: Well, Dr. Kowalski admitted in my conversation with him that he had molested two boys, two teenagers, at a scout camp in the 1980s. The parents decided not to press charges, because they didn't want media exposure for their children. And so, the scouts in this case pulled some strings to make sure it never reached the press.

It turns out that a publisher of one of the Milwaukee papers was on the board of the scouts and agreed not to tell his editors about this abuse. Because of that, Dr. Kowalski was able to continue working as a pediatrician with young children for the next 14 years in Milwaukee. He said when I spoke to him that it had never come up since the day that it had happened, since the charges weren't pressed.

O'BRIEN: Let me read the quote from your article. So, I'm going to read the quote -- FELCH: Yes.

O'BRIEN: This is how your piece ends, and this was one of the most horrible things, I think, at the end of this piece. You interview him. He's 75, he's living in Milwaukee, said he'd gotten psychiatric counseling and that never re-offended. He said this, "Had that been publicized, I would have been out of business, reputation destroyed, and I don't know how I would have faced people at church."

I mean, that's just stunning, right? I mean, that says it all, the lack of caring at all about the victims in this case. It's just shocking to me. What happens next in these cases? I mean, for really for the boy Scouts, I guess.

FELCH: Well, this issue is not going away for the Boy Scouts of America. In the coming weeks, about 1,200 of these cases are going to be made public by the Oregon Supreme Court because of a civil trial there that happened in 2010. Those cases will be available for everyone in the country to look at and see what we've been looking at over the last several months.

There's litigation going on all across the country against the Boy Scouts of America in an effort to make these files public or at least to share them with attorneys and others who can review them and see what happened.

O'BRIEN: Jason Felch is a reporter with the "L.A. Times." The story is an excellent story in terms of just fantastically researched and written, but that just breaks your heart, I got to tell you. Jason, thank you for talking with us.

FELCH: Thank you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: We got to take a short break. We're back right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. I'm Christine Romans with today's "Smart is the New Rich."

The Federal Reserve is pumping money into the economy and holding interest rates very low. It means rates could stay low for some time and mortgage rates already rock bottom. At last look, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.55 percent. The 15-year is a popular refinancing tool. It's 2.85 percent. That's half a point lower than a year ago, folks. It means you pay $62 less a month on a $200,000 mortgage, and the bigger the loan, the more the savings.

Here's what a $400,000 loan looks like. A $123 less a month at current rates compared with last year. Of course, the fed hopes that money will flow through the economy and create some jobs. Home prices are pulling out of their dreaded double dip, though, this won't help everyone, but it's getting better. Still hard to get a loan. Savers are hammered, of course. Retirees, who 20 years ago thought they'd be getting a return on their cash, they're getting nothing. That's a downside. But the housing market is bottoming. Low rates and low home prices mean the best home affordability in a generation -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: So, kind of a mixed bag today. Those mortgage rates, holy cow.

ROMANS: There are fewer people under water on their loan as well. So, fewer people are sinking under the weight of their mortgage. So, slight signs of improvement. We're going to have a lot of housing data this week.

O'BRIEN: Oh, good. That'll be interesting. Thank you.

OK. Time for today's "Tough Call." So, did you hear about the replacement who needed to be replaced is a ref. Brian Stropolo ousted right before the Saints/Panthers game because he was outed as a rabid Saints fans. He was all over his Facebook page. He made it clear that he loved the Saints. Of course, he was going to go and ref the game, and they didn't think that was such a good idea.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's picture of him right there, wearing Saints gear.

O'BRIEN: This is why it's a tough call. Now, bear with me for a moment.

CAIN: Please explain.

O'BRIEN: I just think that every single ref has a team they support. They probably don't put it on their Facebook page, right? They probably don't wear all the gear out and have photos taken. Not so smart, Brian. But I think --

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: -- but don't you think? Like, every one of those guys and women off duty, they're cheering for somebody, right?

CAIN: I think we can all agree that everyone has a team they root for. However, however, he might want to at least put it out there to the people that matter i.e., his bosses. Hey, I happen to be a super fan of one of the teams that you happened to assign me to, to referee this game. Not a tough call. Bye-bye, Brian.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: As you're looking for --

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: Even if you don't have a high profile job like this, maybe it's time to Google yourself and see what you and see what you say about yourself on your Facebook page.

O'BRIEN: You know, I have that conversation with my kids all the time. Like, seriously, be careful with -- they don't have Facebook page. They're not on Twitter, obviously. But, I got to tell you, people are crazy.

(CROSSTALK)

CAIN: It's the 21st century, TMI. It's a guy wearing a Saints outfit.

ROMANS: I recently interviewed a guy who told me he didn't hire somebody for a $200,000 a year job because they Googled him and didn't like what they saw for a management type job. He wasn't wearing a Saints jersey, but who knows?

O'BRIEN: Someone drinking and half dressed. No one wants to hire that.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Moving on. Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, you're looking live in downtown New York where Occupy Wall Street is marking its first anniversary with protests and marches. We're going to take you there live for an update on how today is going to go as they mark this first anniversary.

Plus, Will and Kate fight back against topless photos of the duchess, taking the case straight to court. The royal biographer will join us live to talk about that. Back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. Today marks the one-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Protesters are planning rallies in more than 30 cities around the world including here in lower Manhattan where the movement was born. CNN's Poppy Harlow is live on Wall Street for us kind of in the middle of those preparations. Good morning to you, Poppy. How's it looking?

POPPY HARLOW, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. Over the past half an hour protesters have gathered at Zucotti Park. We were in the midst of it. There were altercations with police. We saw a number of arrests. They're not being allowed to get on Wall Street. Why they want to get there on this first anniversary of the movement is they want to try to form a human chain around the New York Stock Exchange.

Now, I've been told by protesters last week they were going to try to do this. They said it's an act of civil disobedience. "We want to make our message heard." They knew that there would be arrests. That was part of the plan. We did call the police. They're telling us they're not going to give any number of arrests until the end of the day when they have a final tally.

O'BRIEN: Poppy Harlow. One has to imagine they're not going to allow a human chain around the stock exchange. Thanks, Poppy. We'll check back with you.

Another big story we're following is week two of the Chicago teachers strike. A tentative deal is on the table. And 350,000 kids, though, are still out of class. CNN's Kyung Lah is live for us from Chicago with some more details on that. What's the latest where you are, Kyung.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The teachers have just now started to gather around the city. This is one picket line forming outside an elementary school, also a drop-off center. This is week two. Union delegates yesterday expected to vote on this agreement decided they needed a couple of days to talk to their members, so no school today, no school tomorrow.

That set off a fiery response from the mayor of the city, Rahm Emanuel. He thinks this is all illegal now and he wants to take the teachers to court. Here's part of a statement that he released last night. He said, quote, "I will not stand by while the children of Chicago are played as pawns in an internal dispute within a union. This was a strike of choice and is now a delay of choice. That is wrong for our children." So what set him off? It was this response, this statement from the president of the union, Karen Lewis. Here's what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAREN LEWIS, PRESIDENT, CHICAGO TEACHERS UNION: They're not happy with the agreement. They would like it to be actually a lot better for us than it is. I mean, clearly, a contract is always a set of negotiations. No sides are ever completely happy. But our members are not happy. And they want to have the opportunity to talk to their members to see -- they still want to know, is there anything more they can get.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAH: So the union delegates meet again tomorrow night. Possibly to vote, possibly to continue the strike. We have to wait and see, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: We'll continue to watch it. Thank you, Kyung.

Lawyers for the royal family will make a criminal complaint today against the photographer who took the now viral pictures of Prince William's Wife Kate sunbathing topless in the south of France. The palace has already filed a civil lawsuit against the French magazine "Closer." Lawyers today are going to try to stop those photos from being published anywhere else. That brings us Christopher Andersen, author of "William and Kate -- A Royal Love Story." Nice to have you with us.

CHRISTOPHER ANDERSEN, ROYAL BIOGRAPHER: Great to be here.

O'BRIEN: Their attitude as they do this tour seems very nonchalant. They don't seem to be angry, upset. Although we know from Max Foster who's traveling with them, he says Kate especially is absolutely livid. How are they responding to this?

ANDERSEN: I think they're very embarrassed. As we see today they're a little calmer. They want some action taken. William has traditionally felt he's had to put up with the press. You got to remember he still blames his mother's death on the press, as does Harry. Over the years since the gentlemen's agreement expired after he left the university and it's been pretty much a free-for-all in Europe, especially with the paparazzi have gone after --

O'BRIEN: Is this less about topless photos and more about privacy in general? And we're going to use this example?

ANDERSEN: Precisely. This is a deterrent. They're drawing a line in the sand. It has an awful lot to do with the expectation there will soon be a royal child. If anybody remembers the birth of William --

O'BRIEN: She's not pregnant, is she?

ANDERSEN: By royal standards she's way overdue. You got to remember that Diana had William when she was 20, the same thing with the queen. I mean, she will be expected to produce an heir pretty soon.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: In this world we're living in, we're talking about refs losing assignments because of what's on their Facebook page, are their expectations unrealistic of what kind of level of privacy they can have in the 21st century?

ANDERSEN: I believe so. Let's face it. You can't put this genie back in the bottle once it's out there on the internet. Again, they've been able to get the cooperation of the British press. There's something called the British press complaints commission, the royal law firm of Harbottle and Lewis.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: That sounds like you made that up.

ANDERSEN: Those guys are constantly filing complaints and threatening to sue people.

O'BRIEN: "The Irish Daily Star" editor said this to the BBC about your point. Let's play that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kate Middleton knows she's married into the royal family and she's one of the most photographed people in the world. And she decides to, whatever, partially disrobe on a balcony where it can be seen from a public road. And she's stunned now, or the palace are annoyed that people are interested in this. Of course people are going to be interested in this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER) O'BRIEN: OK. I should have mentioned going up a tree. But he obviously was phoning in to BBC and they covered it. OK, warning on that.

But the point was, listen. As you say, you know what? You're going to be partially disrobed. You can see it from the street.

ANDERSEN: Of course. It's as by disingenuous. They should keep their clothes on unless they're behind a high wall or indoors because the press is going to be out there with satellites and --

O'BRIEN: Will they win the suit?

ANDERSEN: In France they might. It'll take them two years. France has the toughest privacy laws. The problem is they don't do much about it. It takes forever for the cases to go on. The fines are tiny. Even though technically you could spend a year in jail.

CAIN: You're point is so well-taken. The same people own this French magazine, an Italian magazine. They apparently published 26 pages of these images is fascinating and incredible in itself.

O'BRIEN: One person topless.

ANDERSEN: Look at the finances here. They've already made millions, sold millions of cop pus. They're willing to take the risk of paying --

CAIN: For something else, for some other purpose.

BROWNSTEIN: The reverse is true, too. To some extent their entire position is based on being a global celebrity. They are beneficiaries of the system they are now turning against.

O'BRIEN: On the other hand, can you not just go topless and when you're on vacation in the south of France on a private property that --

ANDERSEN: I don't know how to answer that question.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: We'll leave it there. Christopher Andersen, always nice to have you. Thanks for being with us.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, does social media like Twitter matter? We'll tell you why our next guest says it's over- hyped, it's overrated. And we were chatting about it on twitter yesterday. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: And welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone.

Some big news to tell you about this morning, big news. The National Zoo's giant panda Mei Xiang is a new mom. She gave birth last night to her second cub after five false alarms in a row. Zoo staffs say they can here the cub but they haven't seen it yet. On a personal note reporting this --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A panda.

BERMAN: -- this is a career highlight I think for all of us here and to talk about the panda here this morning. Remember this scene from "Anchorman"?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have to watch, the mood is tense. I have been on some serious, serious reports. But nothing quite like this. I -- Ching -- Ching is inside right now I'm trying to get an interview with him. They said, no, you can't do that. He's a live bear. He will literally rip your face off.

Hey, you're making me look stupid. Get out here, panda jerk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great story. Compelling and rich.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Compelling and rich.

O'BRIEN: You know every time you see that, you're like, oh, my God. We have so done versions of that in our past lives as reporters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That just made my day.

O'BRIEN: I did a live shot with a dead fish once. A giant mackerel --

RON BERNSTEIN, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, NATIONAL JOURNAL: This has nothing to do with Rahm and the dead fish that he mailed.

O'BRIEN: It was not, no, no.

BROWNSTEIN: This was not part of that which may be happening today in Chicago.

O'BRIEN: My husband said it was not my finest work. And yes, that could be happening.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: All right, let's talk about social media. People obviously texting and tweeting and Facebooking, e-mailing all day long. But my next guest made a living as an Internet marketer, has nearly 800,000 Twitter followers. He says social networking sites like Twitter are overrated and over-hyped.

B.J. Mendelson is the author of "Social Media is (EXPLETIVE DELETED)" -- I got to cover up this part because my children watch this show -- we'll cover that part -- "is (EXPLETIVE DELETED)". Nice to have you with us.

B.J. MENDELSON, AUTHOR, "SOCIAL MEDIA IS (EXPLETIVE DELETED)": Thanks for having me.

O'BRIEN: You and I discussed this very thing over Twitter where you were marketing your book and I was, I guess, marketing my show. How is it -- how is it possible that it's BS?

MENDELSON: We have to separate the tools from the people.

O'BRIEN: Ok. Explain.

MENDELSON: Because the tools are totally fine. I write jokes for a living on Twitter to amuse myself. That's totally fine. My mom uses Facebook because she wants to stalk her cousins from like 20 years ago, totally fine. The myth is where the problem is.

O'BRIEN: What's the myth?

MENDELSON: The myth is that you have to be on these platforms, that this is the thing that's going to make you rich. That this is the thing that works for (inaudible). This is -- it has the all consuming, all powerful social media.

O'BRIEN: So let's talk about some successes. Old Spice, right? The Old Spice guy. Remember that thing went viral. He was -- he was doing talk shows. This handsome -- see? Let's talk more about Old Spice, shall we? A handsome man. I mean, why -- how was that a failure?

MENDELSON: That's right.

O'BRIEN: I would think anybody who saw that would say I want the equivalent of that for my product.

MENDELSON: You know what the big thing about Old Spice, I talked to them in the book, is that he was already a media omnipresence before they even move to him. He was everywhere, in the Olympic coverage for NBC, the Old Spice man, everywhere, every talk show. He wasn't during the Super Bowl. But he was included in all the Super Bowl wrap up coverage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But no one really knew of him until he started going viral, right?

MENDELSON: Right, right. But that's the thing. He was already had an established media celebrity before it even hit the Internet and it became the easy narrative for the market, as the buzz and say like look at this guy.

BROWNSTEIN: So -- so what about in politics? I mean, obviously there's a question about whether the conversation in Twitter, are people talking to each other. On the other hand, campaigns now have the capacity to have mass communication without the mass media. They have millions, tens of millions of e-mails, Facebook, the ability to talk to people directly. Is there a difference between kind of the media conversation and what campaigns are able to do through social media?.

MENDELSON: Oh, it's totally overblown. I'll give you a great example. The Twitter CEO --

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNSTEIN: Right.

MENDELSON: -- was at a conference not too long ago. And he said that the candidate for the Republican nomination who uses Twitter the most will win that nomination.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

MENDELSON: That's what he said. Mitt Romney did absolutely nothing.

BROWNSTEIN: Right.

MENDELSON: Got the nomination. Governor Buddy Roemer who was on Twitter non-stop taking over people's accounts.

(CROSSTALK)

CAIN: You're saying that this popularity you can achieve in social media does not translate outside of social media. If you don't turn the celebrity into money, into career, into votes. Is that what you're saying?

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: It's because people are doing it wrong, I mean, is that -- what you're saying but because they're not leveraging it the right way?

MENDELSON: Well there's two things that we have to separate out. If you're a large corporation or a celebrity or some kind of famous person in a different context, these tools are wonderful. But if you're a regular guy like me, or a small business or entrepreneur, you're kind of SOL. You're not going to be able to really do it --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: All this cursing. Oh, my gosh.

BROWNSTEIN: Who uses Twitter? I mean, do we know the demography of Twitter and whether it is as broad a phenomenon as Facebook?

MENDELSON: It's not as big. You know when you look at the American percentages, 40 percent of them log in once a day. Of that fewer Americans and of those Americans 25 percent are the power users who do the majority of the tweeting. And of those power users there's celebrities, comedians, journalists. And that's really the focus --

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNSTEIN: Are they mostly talking to each other in your view? MENDELSON: That's right. It really is --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: I'm sorry. I'm tweeting would you guys talk with us. Nice to have you with us.

MENDELSON: Hey thank you so much.

O'BRIEN: The book is called "Social Media is BS," for lack of saying curse words. B.J. Mendelson.

BROWNSTEIN: Well he's trying to stay with us and (inaudible) the character.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: B.J. Mendelson, yes exactly. Thanks for talking with us.

MENDELSON: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: I appreciate it.

We've got to take a short break. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT.

Go to any running race and you're likely to see at least one disabled competitor. But it wasn't always that way. Pioneers like this week's CNN Hero Dick Traum broke the barriers and made it happen. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK TRAUM, CNN HERO: Working out in Central Park is the best time of the day for me. It's an opportunity to test myself. And you feel like you can do anything.

Back in 1965 I got hit by a car and I ended up losing my leg. I didn't see it as holding me back. It just wasn't a big issue.

In 1976, I became the first amputee to run the New York City marathon. It was probably the best day of my life. And I just felt this joy can be shared with others.

I'm Dick Traum and I help people with disabilities achieve their potential through sports. How many people here are doing the New York City marathon?

Virtually everybody who was a member of Achilles has a vulnerability. People come to Achilles and we match them with guides.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He just did 16 miles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He did 16 miles.

TRAUM: The atmosphere is social. There's jokes and there's laughter. It truly is a family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had a stroke in 1980. When I started with Achilles I could only walk from one lamp post to another lamp post. And now I do 20 New York City Marathon. Dick helped me realize I can do anything in my life.

TRAUM: We change the way people perceive themselves. And you see the glow. There is nothing in the world that I have more fun doing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: This Thursday at noon Anderson Cooper is going to reveal our top ten heroes of 2012 on CNN.com. Leading to the big vote, who will be the CNN Hero of the year.

I've got to take a short break. "End Point" is up next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: We have 15 seconds for "End Point." We're giving it to Will Cain. Will?

CAIN: Yes let me wrap up today. What we learned is a couple years ago if you remember when those topless photos of the Mei Xiang came out, the panda, she was setting the pretext for keeping the media away from this birth she gave today, this pregnancy that was coming. And what we know now is that her celebrity is not real because social media is BS.

O'BRIEN: You brought it all together. Will Cain tying it all together. We're out of time.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now. I'll see you back here tomorrow morning. Hey Carol good morning.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Soledad. Thanks a lot.