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Two Newtown Boys Dump Video Games; Teacher Coaxed Shooter to Give Up Shotgun; Flu Outbreak Eases for Some States; Preventive Mastectomy on the Rise; Video Gaming Industry Summoned to White House; Prepping for the Golden Globes

Aired January 11, 2013 - 14:30   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

And happening right now, Vice President Joe Biden is meeting with members of the video game industry to talk about how gun violence is represented in popular video games. This as we are hearing that the White House will push for an assault weapons ban. So games like "Call of Duty" will probably be part of Biden's conversation with video game leaders. The vice president says his panel will deliver recommendations to curb gun violence to President Obama by Tuesday. We learned that deadline. The president created this panel last month after 20 children were shot and killed in Newtown, Connecticut. I talked not too long ago, actually, with the two young boys who live in Newtown and they dumped their video games straight in the trash can for me after attending one of their friends' funerals.


MAX GOLDSTEIN, 12-YEAR-OLD NEWTOWN STUDENT: We feel that it's negatively affecting some of the minds and feelings of the youth of this nation, and we just wanted to change that.

BALDWIN: This movement that you guys have started, this is called "Played Out: Choose Not To Play." I see you have some video games next to you. What are you doing with them?

JACKSON MITTLETON, 11-YEAR-OLD NEWTOWN RESIDENT: Well, what we're going to do with these games is we're going to put them in this container and we're planning to have our local garbage company destroy them.

BALDWIN: All right, Stepdad Craig, let me ask you, just so I'm clear, this is not something you said to your kids, this is the right thing to do. I mean, this is coming from them, is that right?

CRAIG MITTLEMAN, JACKSON'S FATHER: It is coming from them. I think my wife and I had a discussion recently about obviously after these tragic events that this is probably something to consider taking out of the home.

And I think the kids got the message and they decided to universally pick up all the mature violence games and Max came up with this brilliant idea, and we thought maybe this is something that can catch the attention of other kids and other communities. I don't think that there is any one of the parents or brothers or sisters or uncles who could play one of these games who has been recently victimized. And this is a way that we are standing by them and I think it is a way that the country --


BALDWIN: Let me be crystal clear. Police have not linked video games to that Newtown suspect. I want to bring in video game expert and Georgia Tech professor, Ian Bogost.

Professor, welcome. You heard about the two young boys. There they were, chucking their video games. Basically in honor of this young person that they lost and you know, thinking that they shouldn't be playing these games. Are they tossing their games -- should they be tossing their games?

IAN BOGOST, VIDEO GAME EXPERT: Well, they should be doing what they feel best doing in this time of crisis and aftermath. But I think what they're really responding to is the idea of the representation of violence at this moment. Video games as such, though, are so much bigger than just a couple of titles. If we think about the idea of --

BALDWIN: How do you mean?

BOGOST: Well, if you think of video games rather than a couple of titles and rather as an entire mass medium that does lots of different things, akin to the way television does lots of different things. You know, you got drama, you got comedy, you got news programming.

Games are just like that. And yes, there are some games that are, you know, more like action movies and there are other games that are more like distractions or kind of doodles, there are games that are used for education, for health care, for business.

Games do so many different things. That's the most important thing to recognize and a decision to respond to violent media more generally has nothing in particular to do with video games.

BALDWIN: There is this worry that is out there that these games somehow create, lead to make young people more prone to violence. But, again, there is zero evidence that that is happening. A lot of people are probably watching now who play these games saying that's bs.

But the worry is there when you look back at the Columbine shooters, apparently they played this game called "Doom," which, you know, back in the days, the first person shooting, using hammer guns, Uzis, et cetera, it was violent. How do you answer the worry that's out there now?

BOGOST: So a lot of people play video games. Almost everybody these days plays video games. Hundreds of millions of people play games on their phones, on their computers, games are just a mass medium. They're a thing that everyone does, like everyone reads magazines. Now if we look at particular people playing particular games who also have complicated backgrounds and are troubled, then it is really no surprise. It would almost be like asking you, well, do you have a magazine in your bathroom or do you have television in your den? Of course, I do.

BALDWIN: So just quickly, the fact that we now know Senator Rockefeller, Jay Rockefeller is calling for an investigation, right. He's going after these games, investigation into these video games, you know, 20 seconds, is he wasting his time?

BOGOST: Well, it is a political move. It is a way of saying, look at me doing something. I'm addressing what people perceive to be a concern, whether it is a concern or not.

BALDWIN: OK, Professor Ian Bogost, Georgia Tech video game expert, thanks for coming in.

BOGOST: Thank you.

BALDWIN: I appreciate it so much.

And now two school staffers are now getting credit for helping to end a school shooting attack in California. Taft Union High School in Bakersfield is closed today while this student remains in critical condition.

Our affiliate KGET reports his name is Bowie Cleveland. The sheriff says Cleveland and another student were targeted because the shooter believed they bullied him. Yesterday, the 16-year-old gunman fired not once, but twice in the science classroom.

Two other students and a teacher also suffered minor injuries. The teacher, Ryan Heber, is now credited with coaxing the young gunman into putting the shotgun down. His co-worker, Kim Fields, helped distract the shooter so students could then get out.


SHERIFF DON YOUNGBLOOD, KERN COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: This teacher and this counselor stood there face to face, not knowing whether he was going to turn the shotgun on them, and -- because they have seen the news media throughout our country in the last several months, and they probably expected the worst and hoped for the best, but they gave their students a chance to escape and conversed and it worked.


BALDWIN: The sheriff says the student used a shotgun, he took from a sibling. Taft Union High School does use an armed guard, but he was snowed in yesterday and was not able to get to school.

The number of children dead from the flu is up nationwide. The cases of the illness are down in some parts of the country. At least that's the word we have gotten today from the CDC on what is turning out to be one of the worst flu seasons in years. Chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is here back today, back talking flu. We have the CDC report out from a couple of hours ago. Tell me the worst is behind us.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: We're sort of in the middle of it right now. I wish I could say the worst was behind us, but you know, we got some encouraging news today, but, you know, it is a single sort of data point in time. It is one week.

We want to find out is over a few weeks do the numbers continue to go down. As you mentioned, five states went from high levels of flu activity to more moderate. Four other states actually went up. So we're kind of a wash right now.

Take a look at the map. There is only three states that don't have widespread flu activity right now. They're not really close to each other, Mississippi, California, and Hawaii. The point really, Brooke, the flu is here and it is just about everywhere. So protection is still very important.

BALDWIN: You mentioned protection. Waking up this morning, reading the papers, and a lot of the headlines are vaccine shortage, vaccine shortage. What do you do if you can't get the shot?

GUPTA: Yes, you know, I think there are some spot shortages, meaning that you know, when you have enough of the vaccine, but you got to make sure it is in all the right places around the country where people need it. So your particular pharmacy, if it doesn't h have it, there are probably other pharmacies in your community that do.

Let me give you a broader view. Take a look at some of the numbers overall of people who -- how many doses there were, 135 million doses manufactured. That's roughly the amount that they think are going to be needed here in this country, not everyone gets one, but that's the numbers in the past.

But take a look here, 128 million have been distributed. And of those, this is an encouraging number, 112 million have actually been used. But if you do the math, I already did it, 16 million doses are still sitting in pharmacies across the country. Another 7 million ready to go.

There is also a few hundred thousand doses of the nasal spray, as well, that stuff is available, expires at the end of next month. So that will be available.

BALDWIN: If, here's the if, if someone is sick right now, what do you tell that person? What is the best and quickest way to beat it?

GUPTA: It is -- there is no quick way to beat this. Even with medications, even if you go to the doctor, it is just -- it is the flu.

BALDWIN: Let it run its course, I guess.

GUPTA: It is a severe one this year. We have seen it before. The average length of not feeling well is about seven days. Got to go home, you got to get rest, it sounds simple. But let your immune system build up, make sure you don't get dehydrated, so take plenty of fluids.

Also one other little quick caveat, you know, people take Tylenol or acetaminophen, for example, to bring down the fever, check the ingredients of the various things you start you take.

If you're taking Tylenol plus another cold medicine plus something else, you can build up a lot of acetaminophen into your system very quickly. So make sure you're not overdoing it in that regard.

But, yes, you know, it's one of those things has been around since we have been around almost, and, you know, it has got to run its course.

BALDWIN: People are sick, thank you, studio crew, for scrubbing down the mouse. You have to be careful. Everything you're touching, washing your hands, right.

GUPTA: Just stay home if you are sick because not just for yourself --

BALDWIN: For the rest of us.

GUPTA: Yes, I do it for you, Brooke. I would stay home for you.

BALDWIN: Thank you, Dr. Gupta. Thank you. Sanjay, of course, will have a little bit more on the flu outbreak this weekend. Watch his show, "SANJAY GUPTA M.D." airs Saturday at 4:30 p.m. Eastern and Sunday 7:30 a.m. right here on CNN.

This next one, this is quite a story. Win or lose, one Miss America contestant plans to undergo a double mastectomy after tomorrow's pageant even though she doesn't have breast cancer. My next guest made the very same decision saying it was a, quote, "no brainer." We'll find out why next.


BALDWIN: What if you found out that the gene responsible for killing your mother, your grandmother, and your great aunt was living within you? This is Ellen Rose. She is Miss D.C. Tomorrow night the 24- year-old will be taking the pageant stage, hoping to become the next Miss America.

Here's the thing. She doesn't have breast cancer, but she has decided that she will have both of her breasts surgically removed. You see Rose has a genetic mutation, which means there is a good chance she could develop the disease.

And this kind of pre-emptive double mastectomy is on the rise here in the U.S. Women who watch their family members suffer and die of breast cancer not wanting to take any risk of developing it themselves.

My next guest is Maggie Smith. She is a mom. She is a wife, soldier, and marathoner. Maggie inherited this gene. It's known as brca-2 and because of that, she decided to have both of her breasts removed and undergo a full hysterectomy. So Maggie, welcome.


BALDWIN: Before we talk, you shared a photo with us, so I just -- so we can share it with those watching, but a quick warning, you're about to see Maggie after her double mastectomy. So let's show it.

Maggie, this is you after your surgery. You were cancer free. So explain to me why you wanted to do this.

SMITH: I had -- my mother has been battling breast cancer for about a little over 20 years now. She is in her third actual physical battle right now. My aunt passed away from the disease, my aunt, Chris.

My great aunt passed away from ovarian cancer. And after my mother realized the second time she had breast cancer, she was tested for the brca genetic mutation and she came up as being brca-2 positive.

About five years later I was given the opportunity to be tested myself, and over those five years, I had debated whether what course of action I was going to take --

BALDWIN: Did you pause -- Maggie, let me jump in. Was that something that you -- that's a test to find out if you have the gene. Take a minute to think about.

SMITH: After I got the test, it took about a month until I decided and I was in surgery, but over those five years I had thought about it. There is a lot that goes into it. A lot of women define themselves as a woman by their breasts and breasts are part of what makes up their image of themselves as a woman.

I'm an athlete. I am a soldier. So I wear a uniform. And then I, you know, I'm a mom and I have my daughter to think about, my husband was extremely supportive, and was not worried about it.

BALDWIN: He was?

SMITH: Yes, he's very supportive. He still is, and we have -- I think he's glad with the decision I made. It was -- it is a burden to bear to know you carry that gene and not do anything about it.

BALDWIN: I can't imagine. And I was just curious if there was any kind of recommendation as far as, you know what do people in the medical community say if you say someone in your family, you know, or you have this gene.

So we reached out to the medical unit and they say for women with this brca-2 gene, the surgery to remove breasts reduces the risk by up to 97 percent. And if you remove your ovaries, it reduces the risk of breast cancer by 50 percent.

And just, again, to your story, not only did you have your breasts removed, I mean, hysterectomy, Maggie, is major surgery.


BALDWIN: Major, why take it that far?

SMITH: I kind of decided that I would do the whole shebang.

BALDWIN: The whole shebang, she says.

SMITH: I did it -- actually my hysterectomy took place on my 30th birthday. So it was kind of --

BALDWIN: Happy birthday to you.

SMITH: Yes, it was. It was the start of a new life, I guess. But it erased a lot of the worries -- I had seen a lot of pain come out of cancer and it is overall I don't think it is worth it. I took what I did.

I have a daughter and she's amazing. Emily is 4, and she's a doll. And we didn't want to have any more children. So we were done with that portion of our life. You can have an oopherectomy, which is just removing the ovaries, but we weren't planning on having anymore children so --

BALDWIN: It was the right choice for you. Just quickly, if someone is in a similar situation as you, what would you advise to them?

SMITH: Get as much information as you can. I try and put myself out there as a resource. I work with an organization called "Force," which is facing our risk of cancer empowered. And you can find them online.

But they present you with the resources that you need to be able to make an informed decision. For me, this was my right decision. For somebody else, it might be increased monitoring or increased surveillance type thing. It is really individual.

BALDWIN: Maggie Smith, thank you so much and our best to your mother.

SMITH: Thank you. Yes. Thanks.

BALDWIN: Thank you. As Joe Biden meets this hour with the video gamemakers, his meeting with the NRA did not go so well. Jay Thomas has some thoughts on where this gun control debate is heading. He's next, back in 70 seconds.


BALDWIN: Happening right now at the White House, another gun control meeting. Vice President Joe Biden, he is meeting this hour with representatives of the video gaming community. The folks behind productions such as this one "Call of Duty." Take a look.

FPS, it's an acronym, it stands for first person shooter. That's the name of this genre where the gamer is the gunner. According to all kinds of experts, games such as these have zero, zero connection to mass killings such as the massacre at Sandy Hook School, which ignited the current discussion on guns and gun violence.

Jay Thomas, Emmy award winning actor, Sirius radio talk show host. Welcome back to the show, sir. Good to see you.


BALDWIN: Let me just read something that I read here from a psychologist. This is Christopher Jay Ferguson, this is writing after the Sandy Hook massacre. This is writing in "Time" magazine.

Quote, "There is no good evidence that video games or other media contributes, even in a small way, to mass homicides or any other violence among youth." On the other hand, let me mention this, you have Senator Jay Rockefeller leading this charge against the industry. He wants an investigation into video game violence.

Jay Thomas, where do you come down on this?

THOMAS: Well, you know, forget where I come down on it, I have three boys and they are from 19 to 30, and they play these video games all the time. I think it is all lip service because it is so much money involved. I mean, "Call of Duty" did a billion dollars like in a matter of months and so it will all be lip service. One thing they can do --

BALDWIN: Who is doing lip service?

THOMAS: Well, the -- even Vice President Biden or the president or whatever. Nothing much is going to be done. On my show I talked about automatic weapons. By the way, I have a son who is a master gunsmith also that doesn't care about automatic weapons.

But he said, dad, any pistol that you have is an automatic weapon, you don't have to have a machine gun. Anything you can pull the trigger fast enough, you're going to kill people.

Maybe in the video games and I think they might be doing this, don't show a gun and how to load it, and how to put a super mag in it. Maybe have the guns that they used to have in the video games that were almost fantastical type of weapons.

But they're showing, you know, AR-15s, they are showing how to load them. In some video games, they're advertising the gun, how the gun works.

BALDWIN: Is that taking it too far?

THOMAS: I think so. It has become an advertisement for the gun industry. I believe the gun industry will give that up because the videomaker at the end of the day probably doesn't care about it.

BALDWIN: I want to go back to your point about lip service and also the gun industry here because you know as well as I do yesterday, big meeting at the White House. This is the meeting involving the gun lobby, right?

So you had the vice president reportedly telling the NRA that the public mood post Sandy Hook is shifting and it's shifting in support of these new gun restrictions.

Today, we have the news that the president will seek passage of an assault weapons ban. Do you think that the president, about to begin here term number two in office, is he going to be having to go to the mat with the NRA?

THOMAS: Of course, and, you know, excuse me, but 75 percent of Americans believe they have the right to own a handgun. And a handgun with a hairpin trigger and I've shot them and they're frightening, can put off as many bullets as you want to.

So let's say they won't allow the machine gun looking rifle gun. OK, and then they'll move on. And the children have died. And two kids have thrown their video games away, but you just have too many people in our culture and it is too much of a young male culture, I might add.

The research, by the way, on young children, I remember when my boys were little, the more video games they watch, the more, you know, problematic they would be between themselves. I think you have a cut- off age. I think you have a cut-off age.

Sure, my older guys are not going to go hopefully mass murder people, but among little kids, yes, I don't think they should be watching violent video games.

BALDWIN: But Jay, I'm moving past the video games. The fact that a lot of these gun groups were at the White House yesterday, the NRA, you know, basically saying, let me quote them from yesterday, we were disappointed with how little this meeting had to do with keeping our children safe and how much it had to do with an agenda to attack the second amendment.

Obviously, this is tough, right? The gun folks and the White House are going back and forth. But here you hear the president saying, you know, yes to an assault weapons ban. Do you think that will fly?

THOMAS: This entire discussion is like the worst marriage anybody's ever been in. You and your spouse and I mean, same sex spouses too, because I believe in that also, it -- they're just not going to settle it, ever. You can say all day, dig up Thomas Jefferson and dig up George Washington, show them --

BALDWIN: You don't think Sandy Hook changed things?



THOMAS: Among people that already were predisposed and some that might be on the fence, but I think that in states where gun and gun rights are important, I don't think a thing has changed. They're just blaming it on, some nuts have caused discomfort and so they're going to blame it on the gun lobby. I will say this. It is more difficult to get mental help for young people than it has ever been in the United States and that's --

BALDWIN: That's something else they have been talking about.

THOMAS: I'm telling you now that a lot of these kids need a lot more help than throw some pills down their throat. So it is a problem. It will all be lip service. Something will be passed and the argument will continue.

And I will say this, they should be pouring money into helping kids who are in real trouble with emotional and mental problems and spotting them in school and somehow getting them, I mean --

BALDWIN: Jay Thomas, I wish we could keep going. I got to go. Love talking to you. We will continue this another day.

THOMAS: Thank you very much.

BALDWIN: Thank you so much. Sirius radio talk show host Jay Thomas there.

Now to the glitz and the glamour, the nominations, not talking about the Oscars, we're talking about the Golden Globes this Sunday. Coming up next, Grae Drake, she's back. She's going to tell me what to look for.


BALDWIN: We now know who got the nod for an Oscar nomination, but let's talk about Sunday, big party in Los Angeles, the Golden Globes. To talk about that, I want to bring in Rotten Tomatoes senior editor, Grae Drake from L.A. Grae, welcome back. How are you?

GRAE DRAKE, SENIOR EDITOR, ROTTEN TOMATOES: Hello. I'm doing great. I'm so excited for this weekend.

BALDWIN: I'm excited as well. And, you know, when you talk to people who describe the Golden Globes, they say this is the really fun show, right? This is film and television, ton of fun. What are you looking for?

DRAKE: Well, the Golden Globes are like a fun precursor. You're absolutely right. They have a reputation because they're run by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which is noted for its whimsy, especially for everybody that they nominate. So there is a ton of interesting people, and the very important factor of alcohol being served at the ceremony.

BALDWIN: Which makes the speeches all the more interesting, all the more interesting --

DRAKE: Definitely. BALDWIN: The hosts, I have such a girl crush on Tina Fey. I read her book twice. You have Tina Fey, Amy Poehler. Are you as excited as I am?

DRAKE: I am maybe even more excited because these two women are so great. I desperately want to form a girl rock band with them and I think they are so spectacular that they're going to do a bangup job. Two of the funniest women working in the industry today, I think it is just going to be spectacular.

BALDWIN: And they both are nominated. So we'll have to see if they're able to battle it out for the win, for their individual shows. If you, Grae, if you were on the glamorous red carpet, who would you look for, what is the one question you would ask?

DRAKE: Man, the one person that I would look for is Mr. Ewan McGregor, who is nominated for his film because I have a feeling that seeing him walk down that red carpet would be the equivalent of seeing a unicorn in the wild.

BALDWIN: A unicorn in the wild.

DRAKE: He --

BALDWIN: How so?

DRAKE: Yes. He is just a majestic amazing creature, such a talented performer. I've been a long time fan of his. I'm sure you couldn't tell. And the red carpets are really tricky, though. You said what question would I ask and sometimes you only get a chance to ask one question, right?

So you got to make it count and because everybody is in such a good move for the ceremony, they're so looking forward to a cocktail in just a minute, I would like to, you know, see who they want to beat up the most in order to win their particular award like make it a grudge match.

Because, for instance, two nominations for "Django Unchained" supporting actors, I talk to either of one of them, I just immediately pit them against each other and see who they think would win in a fight.

BALDWIN: It would make for some interesting TV, that's for sure. We don't want any bruises on Leo, I suppose. Grae Drake, thank you. We'll be watching for the show. Of course, Golden Globes, 8:00 Eastern here. Gray, thank you. We'll be right back.