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"Housewives" And "Homeland": The New TV; Post Office Will End Saturday Mail; Prosecutor: Brown Lied About Service

Aired February 6, 2013 - 14:34   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Bottom of the hour, I'm Brooke Baldwin. For the next 30 minutes, we are getting all sides from the story you will be talking about at the dinner table tonight. Want to start here with the U.S. Postal Service saying it will shut down Saturday mail service. That starts in August.

But it's making waves today. Americans are simply not sending as much mail opting for paying bills online, using e-mail. The result, the Postal Service posted a record loss, $15.9 billion last year. The postmaster general saying today, quote, "you can't beat free."

So let's bring in our panelists to talk all things Postal Service, Jawn Murray back today, entertainment journalist and all-around pop culture expert. Lauren Ashburn back as well, editor-in-chief of "Daily Download" joining us.

Amy Palmer, entertainment reporter and founder of "Power Women TV" and last but not least, Chris Frates, national correspondent for "National Journal." Welcome to all of you.

Chris Frates, I'm just going to begin with you as the newbie on the show. Let me ask you this, no Saturdays, big surprise, do you care?

CHRIS FRATES, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "NATIONAL JOURNAL": You know, it is interesting, Brooke, because a lot folks here in Washington are thinking, well, maybe this is the postal service move to take away a delivery day to try to get some sympathy and do the most extreme thing first.

We're going to cancel service, maybe we'll get more congressional funding, but I'm not really sure anybody cares. I mean, if you don't get mail on Saturday, what, you're going to have to mail somebody's birthday card a couple of days earlier?

BALDWIN: Amy, do you care? Do you feel the sympathy for the USPS?

AMY PALMER, ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER AND FOUNDER, POWERWOMENTV: The deal is this, anyone who is running a business knows it comes down to simple economics. The Post Office is losing billions of dollars a year. Let's not forget this is a business, people.

Why are we using taxpayer money to fund a business that isn't working? You have to bring it down to the basic economics. So, yes, mail that birthday card out on Monday. I think your mother will be OK with it.

BALDWIN: To be clear, you know, yes, they have been borrowing billions of taxpayers because they have lost something like $16 billion last year. This is supposed to help them save $2 billion. Really it is a drop in the bucket.

Let me go to you, Lauren, because one question people are throwing around, should the U.S. Postal Service be privatized?

LAUREN ASHBURN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "DAILY DOWNLOAD": You know, I can't say that we need to go that far, but I do have to commend the postmaster general for doing this in a way that saves people's jobs.

If you look at the way that he's doing the cuts, it is through part time hours. It is through retirement, and he's doing it in a way that is helpful to people as opposed to just saying --

BALDWIN: The unions don't like it.

ASHBURN: They don't, but they don't like it, but it is better than getting fired, don't you think?

BALDWIN: Jawn, do you think they should take it a step further? If they have been hemorrhaging all this money, would you care if they every other day during the week slash service?

JAWN MURRAY, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, ALWAYSALIST.COM: I would care about losing my Saturday service, Brooke. I mean, I don't know about you, but I feel like my checks always show up on Saturdays.

I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm excited about them making a decision and saving jobs, and I know Lauren is going to hate this, but they probably could save a few jobs if they get Lance Armstrong to return the $30 million they invested in him in sponsor money.

ASHBURN: Would you stop with his name. I do not want to hear Lance Armstrong's name again.

BALDWIN: Never talking Lance Armstrong with Lauren ever, ever again. But I will talk Chris Brown. Can we talk about this to the four of you? Remember the community service that he was supposed to be serving?

That 180 days that he got because he pleaded guilty to beating his girlfriend Rihanna. That was four years ago. Could he be in more trouble because the district attorney in Los Angeles says, yes, he didn't do that community service? That's next.


BALDWIN: All right, back with the panel, due back in court today, Chris Brown, not for something he did. It's actually for something some say he didn't do. The pop singer is facing accusations that he lied about finishing the community service that was assigned to him after he assaulted his then and current girlfriend Rihanna. Let me open up the panel and, Jawn, since this is your wheel house and we have talked about the chair throwing, talked about the alleged frank ocean punching, the stolen cell phone, now we have the fact there are allegations he didn't do these 180 days. Who do you believe? His attorney said he did.

MURRAY: You know, Brooke, this is a hard one for me like I've given, on this very show, given Chris the benefit of the doubt. I've been a vocal supporter that he deserved a second chance because he committed the crimes, the initial one as a teenager.

I thought he faced his charges like a man. However, if the allegations are true, this isn't a good sign. I mean, you've got to serve your time, you've got to do what the court, you know what you agreed to do in the court and you've got to complete the fulfilment of it.

That's what you have to do. So if it turns out this is true, this isn't going to bear well for him at all.

BALDWIN: Amy, what do you think?

PALMER: Yes, I mean, the general rules don't apply to Chris Brown. This is somebody who assaulted the biggest pop star in the world. He continues to sell millions of albums. He has 12 million Twitter followers. He thinks he's above the law.

I'm not surprised by this. I don't know why his fans would be at this point. He's arrogant. He thinks he doesn't have to follow the rules. And, frankly, I think it is time that he does pay the price for what he's done.

BALDWIN: So listen, here is the kicker because this motion, I have this motion here, I've been looking at it, a motion doesn't say, Chris Brown, you need to revoke his probation or ask him to go to jail. It's basically saying, look,, you need to redo these 180 days.

And let me just add this little bit of color. This is page 14, Richmond Police Department, this was supposed to be done in Virginia, reported that the defendant was picking up trash for four hours on this particular day.

Goes on, the information obtained from this private airline, it shows a defendant was en route from Richmond to Cancun, Mexico, on that very day. Chris Frates, you talk budget. I'm going to make you talk Chris Brown. What do you think if he's heading to Mexico?

FRATES: You know, I just wonder, the above the law here, because it is so interesting to me that they don't want him to go to jail. He also gets probation. So he is kind of right that if he's feeling above the law, they're not revoking his probation.

They are not sending him to jail. They are saying would you just finish it. I just think it hurts his brand. I think folks are going to get a little bit fed up with this. This idea that he can just do whatever he wants, it is not very appealing and I just wonder is it good business.

ASHBURN: What brand is what I want to know.

BALDWIN: Is it a double standard for folks in Hollywood that they seem to -- if the alleges are true, he gets off easier, too soon? What lessons, I mean, Amy points out, 12 million Twitter followers.

Big picture, young people, they look up to Chris Brown. Lauren, you get the final word on this. What message is this sending to the youth in our country if you aren't exactly doing your community service, as this motion alleges, you're not really that much of trouble.

ASHBURN: It says that we have lousy, lousy role models in this country from, Jawn, Lance Armstrong, to all of the other very famous people, Tiger Woods, all of these people who have the trust of the American people and especially the youth of this country, and they're blowing it.

BALDWIN: OK, I'm moving on from Chris Brown. We have to talk about this second-grader. This second-grader apparently suspended from school for playing make believe, for throwing this imaginary grenade. Look, it is a country right now on edge post Newtown. Is this over the top? Marinade over the commercial. Back after this.


BALDWIN: Bringing back the panel. Every kid pretends to be a superhero, right? I remember spinning around the playground trying to be Wonder Woman, trying to beat the bad guys and save the world.

Well, that is reportedly what got 7-year-old Alex Evans of Loveland, Colorado suspended from school. In fact, here is how Alex tells it.


ALEX EVANS, SECOND GRADER: I pretended with my hand I pretended a box and something shaking in it. I'm, like, and it goes -- so nothing can get out of it and destroy the world. I just can't believe I got dispended.


BALDWIN: Dispended, he says. So this second-grader who was dispended and his mother saying he was suspended for throwing an imaginary grenade. Now the school district tells us there is more to it, it never actually suspended a student for an imaginary weapon.

But it does raise the question about zero tolerance policies and are we too on edge after what happened in Newtown? So Lauren, first to you, I mean, certainly it's not the first time zero tolerance policy has gone too far, but what do you think, an imaginary grenade?

ASHBURN: Give me a break. OK, this is ridiculous. This is the nation running amok. These kids are playing. Play is not violent and aggressive. It is play. There is a very famous author named Michael Thompson and he wrote "Raising Caine" and I happened to hear him speak.

He said, look, boys all around the world, in all of society, play rough and there has to be some tolerance for that. As long as they're not going after people aggressively, other children violently, then we have to cut them some slack. It is who they are.

BALDWIN: Where do we draw the line? Because of what happened in Newtown, I think it is now 54 days since, right, we have been talking so much about fear of violence, et cetera, in schools. Chris, where do we draw the line? Are we too on edge? Are we taking this too far?

FRATES: I mean, this feels too far. If you want to, you know, give the kid a time-out, we used to put you on the wall, take away recess, that's one thing. To take a kid out of school, we had it happen in Washington a few days ago, brought a toy gun to school and was suspended. That seems a bridge too far. Boys, I used to play. We used to have play guns.

BALDWIN: You got in trouble, Chris Frates?

FRATES: I didn't get in trouble because I didn't bring it to school, but even my friends who don't allow guns in their homes play guns with their kids, the boys make it out of toast. I mean, it is just going to happen.

BALDWIN: You know, there was a story in Georgia a couple of years ago where a sixth grader came to school, had this long key chain attached to this Tweety Bird wallet and she was suspended from this school. And apparently, the parents couldn't appeal initially because they were saying the chain was too long.

There are obviously multiple examples of this. We looked at the -- a web site that once existed and there were absolutes for this particular elementary school and number two under the absolute list, no weapons, real or play, no illegal drugs or alcohol.

I don't know if any of you -- how many parents do we have on the panel? Anyone? Silence, that's a no.

ASHBURN: No, I said yes. I'm raising my hand.

BALDWIN: Lauren, I didn't see you. Lauren, if you had a child and this happened to your child, what would you do?

ASHBURN: I have three children, 12, 9 and 5. And let me tell you, things like this have happened to me. And not in the school, but my son did have a toy gun at one point, and my daughter packed up to go on a flight with all of us, and I wasn't watching what she packed and the 4-year-old threw a toy gun and we put it through the metal detector at the airport.

BALDWIN: What happened?

ASHBURN: You can just imagine how crazy everybody went. I mean, here it was just a 4-year-old.

BALDWIN: Can you understand if we're being so uber --

ASHBURN: OK, I got it. I get it there. But without an actual physical object, I have such a hard time. These are second-graders. What happened to talking to kids? They're good listeners, right.

Can't you say to them, look, this is the appropriate thing, we don't allow this in this school. You can do this at home, but I do have to add one other thing. We're not hearing the school's point of view on this, are we? They can't talk about it.

BALDWIN: They can't talk about it. It is an individual case, an individual child and can't go there, so we only extrapolate from what we get from the child and the parent. Jawn, you get the last word.

MURRAY: This was a teaching lesson. It was an invisible situation here. What are they going to do next? Start institutionalizing kids for having invisible friends. That would happen to all of us. I was in love with the black girl from the holograms. You don't punish kids for invisible actions.

BALDWIN: So final topic for you all, after this break, that is how can you go wrong with Steven Segal? It turns out the martial arts movie star will be out this weekend, training the so-called armed posses to help protect our schools in Joe Arpaio country.


BALDWIN: Back with the panel, final topic. When the NRA suggests using armed volunteers to protect schools in the wake of Newtown, Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona apparently took it to heart.

He has appointed armed volunteers to patrol schools in Maricopa County and this upcoming weekend he is going to train 40 of those volunteers with a simulated school shooting.

We got a release from Sheriff Arpaio says teenagers have volunteered to play students. So who is teaching the class here? Here is a hint.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A team of terrorists have taken over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wake up the president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But there is just one thing they didn't count on, the cook.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMAEL: Are you like some Special Forces guy or something?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, just a cook.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My God, we're going to die.


BALDWIN: Yes, movie tough guy and posse volunteer Steven Seagal is one of the instructors here in Maricopa County. And news crew will be allowed to catch the whole thing on camera. That said, Chris, is this, you know, just another one of Arpaio's grabs for attention or is there validity here?

FRATES: You know, it feels very PR to me. This idea that we're going to bring a Hollywood box office star in on a school shooting, kind of conflates those two issues of violence and movies and reality.

And kind of blurs the lines here, which, you know, in Washington, they're debating kind of how much influence movies and violent images have over these kinds of events. And now sheriff is blending these two things. You got to wonder what he's thinking here.

BALDWIN: It is interesting you bring up what is happening in Washington. We saw celebrities coming out today, asking congress to do something, to act. I'm curious. Amy, I'll throw this to you. Do you think celebrities in general should have a role in the whole gun debate that the nation is having?

PALMER: Well, listen, these are the people that we look at in movies, on television. These are the people that our children are emulating. Steven Seagal is a branding genius. This is a man who started a reality show called "Lawman." He's playing one on TV and he's --

BALDWIN: He's actually been deputized.

PALMER: He's been involved with law enforcement for 20 years. It is not like he's just showing up for this big PR stunt, which I do think it is. But he is actively involved in this. So should celebrities be involved in this sort of dialogue? Absolutely because they are our role models, but I think this is also part of a PR and branding effort on his part.

BALDWIN: Lauren, do you think our celebrities are role models?

ASHBURN: You know, I think it is the wrong question, Brooke, because I think as a mother, I'm going to play the mom card here. What happens after Steven Seagal, the movie star has come and all the people have been trained and it is really great. And then you have the -- his posse going around to all the schools guarding the schools.

And then who do the kids trust? How do they know this crazy guy with the gun here, is he the real crazy guy? Is this guy who doesn't look like a deputy a gun guy? It is the whole process, to me, is crazy, that you have this posse going around. And then to put a role model on top of it, nuts.

BALDWIN: It is interesting you bring up the process because we were covering a story last week in Illinois, a school firing blanks as sort of a simulated school shooting, similar to what they're doing a little bit different, but similar to the idea they'll be doing this weekend in Maricopa County. It brings me to the question, what do you make of these simulated school shootings in this climate right now? I mean, obviously, the priority is getting these kids prepared if and when the most horrific of horrifics happen, but do you think this works?

ASHBURN: My son, talking a lot about my kids today, they'll be psyched my son had a code red lockdown at his school just the other day. They all had to stand around their lockers, this is in, you know, Bethesda, Maryland, they stood around their lockers and these poor seventh graders had to be quiet for 15 minutes while the teachers locked the doors and all the lights are out.

I'm glad they're doing those kinds of exercises to prepare. I just have a hard time with the other part of it, which is the outside, where you're getting all of these people you don't know, carrying guns, around the school, and the kids don't know who's good and who's bad.

BALDWIN: Can you understand where, Jawn, can you understand where the school is coming from? Their priority is to protect their young girls and boys and so whatever links they perhaps are going to, they're doing it in some cases to make sure if and when it happens they know what they're doing.

MURRAY: Brooke, I definitely get that aspect of it. This is the new fire drill. This is what we have to do to prepare our kids. I don't like the Hollywood aspect of it. What is next? Are we going to have the cast of "Greys Anatomy" training medical staff across the country?

We were talking about Chris Brown, Kerry Washington plays Olivia, public relations guru on scandal, is she going to show up and fix his life? Hollywood stars need to stay out of real life issues when it does not want their participation.

BALDWIN: Amy, you get the final word and then we're done.

PALMER: Well, the issue is, is that Hollywood has a tremendous influence on us in social media, our children, and the way we think. It is blended. The minute that we acknowledge that is the minute we can all work together to fix these issues.

BALDWIN: Lauren Ashburn, Jawn Murray, Amy Palmer, Chris Frates, thank you so much you all. Let's do it again sometime.

Up next, this is the talk, the Boy Scouts of America, they have now delayed their decision to decide on whether to ban gay scouts, gay leaders, but why? Stay right there.


BALDWIN: Hour until the closing bell, quick peek. Dow is down 17 points, just below the 14,000 mark. Again, we are watching and crossing our fingers that eventually soon we will hit that record high when it closed in October of '07, that 14,164. We're watching. You can watch, go to