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CNN NEWSROOM

Debating Michael Moore's Call for Release of Newtown Crime Scene Photos; Can Men and Women Really Have It All?; Americans and Religion

Aired March 15, 2013 - 15:30   ET

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


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Check out this buzzer beater by Illinois' Brandon Paul. Look at that.

It was a tied game with Minnesota with 15 seconds left on the clock. Paul dribbles the ball as the seconds tick down and then lets it fly left of the foul line, finding the net right at the buzzer.

To Facebook now, well, it may come first -- may have come first, but it is not too proud to copy from Twitter. According to media reports, Facebook may be jumping on the hash tag bandwagon, or, as I like to call it, "pound," which is one of Twitter's most iconic markers.

Just like on Twitter, the hash tag, words or phrases would become a way to engage in the group's conversation.

All right, so Facebook isn't officially commenting on this. Neither is Twitter.

Up next here on CNN, our hot topics panel faces off. First, Michael Moore, he wants photographs of young Newtown victims released.

Plus, we've been asking if women can have it all, but a new study has men saying balancing work and family is stressful for us, too.

And more Americans than ever are saying they have no religious affiliation at all. My panelists standing by, they're revealed next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: OK. So get ready. I'm ready. Are you? Get ready for this ride.

For the next 20 minutes, we're going to hit the hot topics that will dominate the dinner conversation tonight. We promise.

First up, Michael Moore, filmmaker and activist, he's pushing for someone to release the photos of the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, in December.

He writes in his blog, follow closely. "When the American people see what bullets from an assault rifle fired at close range do to little child's body, that's the day the jig will be up for the NRA.

"It will be the day the debate on gun control will come to an end. There will be nothing left to argue over. It will just be over.

"And every sane American will demand action."

All right, we're going to talk about this. This is a heavy subject to start with. We're going to talk about Moore's move now.

David Begnaud, he's the host of "NewsBreaker With David Begnaud." And then Jennifer Huff, author and host of "Just Jenny" on Sirius Radio.

Also with us, Emil Wilbekin, editor-at-large at "Essence Magazine," and Donna Brazile, a political strategist and CNN political contributor.

Welcome to all of you. It is a heavy subject, but I do have to tell viewers, in the break, we were all "booing" each other, saying how we're all each other's "boo," all fans here.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: That's an affectionate term, by the way.

LEMON: That's an affectionate term. Right. Southern term.

BRAZILE: Absolutely.

LEMON: So, Donna, it is a very heavy subject, and we have been talking about this.

You and I have been on air debating it. We've talking about it beyond Aurora, beyond Newtown.

This is really, you know, throwing some fuel into the fire, isn't it?

BRAZILE: Absolutely.

Look, I like Michael Moore. He's a wonderful voice for progressive change in this country. He's a visionary.

But on this one here, we don't have to see the evidence and see the bodies to know just how harmful those semi-automatic rifles are. It's a bad idea.

I have to say that I side with the families of those victims, many of whom have expressed outrage over the thought of their little ones being exposed to the public ...

LEMON: So, you're saying they shouldn't be released?

BRAZILE: I agree. They shouldn't be released.

LEMON: David?

DAVID BEGNAUD, HOST, "NEWSBREAKER WITH DAVID BEGNAUD": No. Look, you and I were both in Newtown, Connecticut, covering this when it happened. Hearts were broken.

I saw it on the faces of the family members, the parents who had to wait outside for the authorities to come and say, if your child is not here, they're one of the ones who are dead inside.

We don't need the pictures. I think Michael Moore, you know, he may do some good work, but I think this is absolutely ridiculous.

This does not help the gun control debate. We get what guns can do. We don't need to see pictures of kids blown away.

LEMON: But, Jennifer, people will say, why not show the evidence? Why not show it so people will know exactly what happened?

JENNIFER HUTT, AUTHOR AND SIRIUS RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Right, well, here's why because --

EMIL WILBEKIN, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, "ESSENCE MAGAZINE": It's too much.

LEMON: Go ahead. Go ahead.

WILBEKIN: I just think it is too much. I think, you know, you want to show what this violence does, but I think to show little kids, I mean, it just too much and gruesome.

And you have to realize, young kids see all these images on the Internet, on their iPads, all these things, it's very devastating for young people to see these types of images.

LEMON: Jennifer, you don't think it'll make a difference?

HUTT: No, I don't think we should be showing these pictures. I understand a call to action for better gun control, better advocates for mental health, better treatments.

However, showing these pictures is going to cause emotional damage. I'm not sure it is going to cause a better circumstance all around. I think it's going to hurt kids. It's going to hurt the parents. It's going to hurt everybody.

LEMON: I want to read more from his blog.

He says, "Because if we're to seriously look at 20 slaughtered children, I mean really look at them, with their bodies blown apart, many of them so unrecognizable the only way their parents could identify them was by the clothes they were wearing, what they -- what would be our excuse not to act? Now. Right now. This very instant!

"How on earth could anyone not bring into action the very next moment after seeing a bull riddled body of little boys and girls."

He makes a point, Donna?

BRAZILE: I don't -- look, the American people, by and large, support universal background checks.

By and large, they would like to make sure that people who need mental health services are able to receive the services.

And by and large, they believe that it is time that we have a corporate gun safety protection in place throughout the country.

I don't think releasing the photos would do any good at this hour.

But I do believe that we have to continue this debate, and this conversation. The United States Senate is moving very quickly on getting some laws in place.

LEMON: But you see what happened with Dianne Feinstein and Ted Cruz yesterday. There is a debate going on, even after Newtown, Jennifer.

HUTT: Yeah. It's horrible that there is a debate. We need better gun control. No question about it.

But going back to Michael Moore, suppose these pictures -- to publish these pictures is almost pornographic. It's horrific. It's a vile atrocity that happened that I hope none of us should ever forget and let it never happen again. It is horrific.

LEMON: The panel is unanimous. Thank you very much.

Let's move on now. Lots of talk on whether women can have it all, a work, life and time for family, all right?

But a new study says men may not be able to have it all either.

What do you think? My panel weighs in next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Man, I wish we had a commercial-cam. If you guys knew the things we said during commercials ...

Having it all, a great career and family, the ultimate American pursuit, right? And the assumption goes that men have it all while women struggle to.

But a new study from Pew Research Center shows men are as stressed as women reaching the right balance.

OK, Pew determined 56 percent of working moms and 50 percent of working dads say they find it very or somewhat difficult to balance work-life responsibilities.

My panel is back. David is here. Jennifer's here. Emil's here. Donna Brazile's here, as well.

So, I think men can have it all, Donna Brazile.

BRAZILE: Oh, please, Don. If you want it, you can get it. If you don't have the experience, how do you really understand how to use it.

Look, the bottom line is that ...

LEMON: What are you talking about?

BRAZILE: You said you want it all? Oh, no, you can't have it all unless you understand what it means.

Women -- I think it is important to understand that this is a great groundbreaking study.

For the first time, we see men that are willing to do a lot more inside the home. They want to be part of their children's lives. They want to be part of the family, and, yes, they also want to volunteer and do some housework.

So, when you say "want it all," come on, baby. I got a broom. Let's mop it up.

LEMON: You know, she is preaching right now.

WILBEKIN: We're seeing the new fatherhood. Men are more involved. They take paternity breaks now. You see them leaving work early to pick the kids up from school, to take them to soccer practice.

I'm on conference calls with men who you can hear the baby in the back and they're, like, pushing the stroller while on the call.

So, we are seeing men more involved, and I think in that they're finding out what women have always known, that it is a lot of work.

LEMON: Go ahead, Jennifer.

HUTT: Yeah, well, what I think was so right on with what Donna was saying was so groundbreaking about the study is that men are caring about having it all, that they want to be with their children.

They want to spend more time with their families, and that's terrific because we, as women, we felt guilty forever.

We can never do enough. We can never find balance. Now the men are feeling what we have been struggling with all along, terrific.

LEMON: Yeah. Listen, I was being facetious.

Hang on, David. I was being facetious when I said that men can have it all. I actually do think men can't have it all. At least, they thought they could because there is a double standard.

If a woman stays at work until 10:00, 11:00 at night, people say, oh, my gosh, what a bad mother, you know, the kids never their -- if a dad does it ...

HUTT: Watch it, Don.

LEMON: I'm just saying, the perception, if a dad does it, he's a good provider, he has do that, he's trying to take care of his family and send the kids to school.

Let's talk about the double standard. Pew found that 16 percent of those surveyed thought an ideal situation for a young child is to have a mom working part-time.

David?

BEGNAUD: Look, here's the deal. I grew up with a Mr. Mom. My dad was the mom at home. My mom was the rock star CEO who made the money and worked the long hours.

think there are a lot of men watching around the country who say, I've been cooking breakfast and running to soccer practice and school all day. This study is a little late to the reality.

I think men have been doing it for years. The study is just happening to come out. Just like we're figuring out gay parents can raise a healthy child in a healthy household, dads are doing it, too, and they're doing a good job.

LEMON: But don't you guys ...

HUTT: Yeah, and ...

LEMON: Don't you think -- Jennifer, answer this question -- don't you think it has something to do with people waiting a little bit longer to get married because when you're younger, you think, I'm going to -- life is like a commercial.

You think I'm going to have the kids and it's going to be like Easter Sunday. You dress the kid up and you're going to have the perfect house or whatever.

When you're older, you realize this just is hard.

HUTT: Listen, maybe I do think that there are some times there is sometimes sort of a bait-and-switch with our expectations about having kids and then the resulting life after having kids.

I actually got married at 27, had my first child at 28, went to work when my kids were five and seven, and I have found I'm a much better mother while I've been working than I was prior to working.

So, I think my kids benefit from my being out of the house some of the time.

BRAZILE: In this generation ...

LEMON: Hang on. Donna, first.

BRAZILE: Back in 1965, on average, women worked eight hours outside the home. Today, women are working a lot longer hours outside of the home.

So, I think that this work balance issue is something that impacts both genders, and it is time that we figure out a healthy balance so that we can raise our kids and our -- and also bring them up in such a way they understand there's no longer -- women's work is working at home.

LEMON: Emil, don't be mad at me. I've got to run, but I mean, isn't it nice to be able to live in a time where there's a luxury to be able to say, I don't want to work and do this, because when I grew up, both my parents had to work, right?

BRAZILE: Amen.

LEMON: There was no choice.

Thank you, guys. Thank you, appreciate it. Have a great weekend.

BRAZILE: Thank you.

LEMON: Oh, you're not done. I'm sorry. Sorry.

We've got to talk about something else. Don't go anywhere. My bad, as they say.

As the Catholic Church welcomes -- I'm trying to get rid of you guys. As the Catholic Church welcomes a new leader, new research shows more and more Americans say they have no religious affiliation at all.

I wonder if that means Donna Brazile or maybe David. We'll see.

More with my panel right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: While a new pope tries to win over the faithful, a new study finds America is losing its religion, and the younger you are, the more likely you're not following a faith.

This all comes from the latest general social survey that researchers from Berkeley just analyzed.

The survey found, in 2012, one of five people did not have a religious preference and the odds are that 20 percent figure we'll grow next time around, next time it happens.

So, that's been the trend. Eighteen percent of Americans surveyed had no religion, no religious affiliation in 2010, 14 percent in 2000, eight percent in 1990.

So, back now with the "boo" crew. So, Donna, you know, every Sunday you used to be in there getting your spirit on and clapping and shouting, getting the spirit.

Why aren't people doing that as much anymore?

BRAZILE: I think because they haven't lost faith in a higher power or God or some other deity or whatever. They've lost faith in the institutions.

LEMON: Yeah.

BRAZILE: Whether it's the Catholic Church, Episcopal, or whatever, the Hindu, Buddhism, synagogue, mosque, temple. They've lost faith. These institutions are often polarizing. They're not life affirming.

It is very difficult to sit in a church and be preached a lecture that somehow or another something is wrong with you because you're gay or something is wrong with you because you're using birth control.

I have to tell you I walked out when they talked about birth control. I said, well, I'm at the age now where I really don't need this lecture right now.

The truth of the matter is we do have faith, but maybe not in the churches or the temples or the synagogues, but we have faith perhaps in each other. We trust someone else. We still get our spiritual nutrition from other sources.

LEMON: David, I remember I just moved to New York from Louisiana, going to church all my life, and I took my first boyfriend to church. He was like, I don't want to go to church.

We got into church and the first thing the guy talked about was that gay people are sinners and were going to hell.

BEGNAUD: And you know what the worst part of is, is that if -- well, and if, Don, a priest were hear you right now say you brought a boyfriend to church, there would be a discussion from the priest just hearing you say on television that you brought a boyfriend to church.

LEMON: Right.

BEGNAUD: But I think as a gay man going to church, you don't listen to the man at the altar because you become very disgruntled and frustrated with the headlines, the constant headlines.

Church pays out for this abuse case. Church apologizes for this abuse case.

When you take the man out of the equation, I think it's a whole lot easier to love and believe in the church.

But people are rightfully disenfranchised. I get it, as Donna said.

But you know what? When I go to church on Sunday, I still see a lot of people there.

And what's interesting about that study is just because there are less people claiming religious affiliation doesn't mean they're atheists. They still believe.

HUTT: Right.

LEMON: Go ahead, Emil.

WILBEKIN: And, you know, I think a lot of people are still going to church and ministries are changing. They're doing things for HIV- support, for single mothers.

You're really seeing -- I go to First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem and it is packed. I can barely get a seat because everyone is there.

And there's gay couples. There's young people. People are wearing jeans. So, things are really changing.

HUTT: Yeah, here's the thing, Don. I believe in being spiritual. I'm Jewish and I'm identified as Jewish, but I believe in being spiritual, which for me means doing things in the right spirit, being kind to others, doing the right thing, for the reason that it feels good to be a good person.

LEMON: OK.

HUTT: And Donna was right. Religion and organized religion has been polarizing and has caused too much strife and I think ...

LEMON: That's it.

HUTT: ... kids are aware of that.

LEMON: You guys are causing my producer strife because we're going to go into "The Situation Room" if we keep going.

Thank you, guys. Now, have a great weekend. Thank you, David, Jennifer, Emil and Donna Brazile. We appreciate it.

BRAZILE: God bless you all.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAKENYA NTAIYA, COMMUNITY CRUSADER: I avoided the ceremony as far as I could. Most of the Maasai girls suffer mutilation when they are 12.

I really liked going to school. I knew that, once I go through the cutting, I am going to be married off and I dream of becoming a teacher and that was going to end.

My mind said, run away, but I had to face my dad and say I would only go through the cutting if he let me go back to school. It was done in the morning using a very old, rusty knife with no anesthesia. I can never forget that day.

Eventually, I was the first girl in my community to go to college in the U.S. I am Kakenya Ntaiya and I returned to my village to start a school for girls so they too can achieve their full potential.

When girls start at school, they are very shy, but over time you see them grow. They are treated very well. It is the most exciting thing.

Our work is about empowering the girls. These girls say no to being cut and dream of becoming lawyers, teachers, doctors.

My daughter will do better than my son. I came back so the girls in my community don't have to negotiate like I did to achieve their dreams. That's why I wake up every morning.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: That'll do it for me. Thanks for watching.

"The Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer starts right now.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Don, thanks very much.