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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
"Everything Has To be On The Table"; Obama's Poll Plunge; Planned Attack?
Aired March 18, 2013 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, China says America is making a mistake over North Korea, but what is China really doing?
And the president is losing ground in the polls since the fixed spending cuts. Is it time to make a deal with Republicans?
And a terrifying discovery in a college campus, bombs, guns, and a plan. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, message in a bomber. The Pentagon announcing today it's going to be flying nuclear capable B-52 bombers over South Korea. It is part of a joint military exercise intended to send a signal to North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un.
Now North Korea appears to be sending some very strong messages of its own as recently as today. We have a new video that we found posted to a semi-official government web site in North Korea.
It's basically a portrayal of a violent attack on the U.S. capital and a gun sight that zeros in on the White House. Now, I want to emphasize that we can't verify the authenticity of the video, but I can tell you this.
It is the second one that we found that depicts a North Korean attack on U.S. soil. The other which was posted to the same web site last month showed a nuclear strike on New York City set to the song "We Are the World."
OUTFRONT tonight, Democratic Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, the ranking member on the Intelligence Committee and good to see you, sir. I appreciate you taking the time. I want to ask you first about this video that we found, the second one as I said in over a month.
These are propaganda videos put out by the government, but they're new under Kim Jong-Un and just this week, North Korea said they could launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the United States.
I mean, you're on the intelligence committee. Should the United States be seriously preparing for something even if it's a dirty bomb placed in an American city not a missile or is this really all just bluster? REP. C.A. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER (D), MARYLAND: Look, we have to be very serious about any threat attacking the United States or killing American citizens. And also as it relates to South Korea, we're 100 percent with South Korea. They're our allies and we need to also stand behind them.
Now Kim Jong-Un is a young, immature leader. He is 28 years old. He is now in charge of a government and a country that will not allow his own people to leave the country. They're treated terribly in a bad situation and he's the type of individual that really concerns us because we don't know what he's like.
He's immature. He has no experience in running government. One day his father died and he becomes the leader. We know that North Korea for a long period of time, their whole mode of operation basically is threatening.
But we also know that they're dangerous because they have nuclear weapons. They have ballistic missiles and we have to take that very seriously. I'm glad the Secretary of Defense Hagel took a position that we're going to improve and we're going to add more defense to any type of missile that can come on the west coast of the United States, Alaska and also California.
BURNETT: I want to ask you about that. But first, the deputy secretary of defense is in Seoul today for the joint military exercises I referenced. He said North Korea's threats would only deepen Washington's defense commitment to Seoul and that U.S. budget cuts wouldn't alter our defense of South Korea.
But we have 30,000 troops in Seoul, second only in combat units to Afghanistan. That is a massive commitment. With all the cutbacks we're seeing in the Defense Department, isn't this scenario that has to be up for trimming just by definition?
RUPPERSBERGER: Well, we have to prioritize and always be on top of the national security when it deals with American lives and threats from other governments, terrorist groups and issues like that.
The good news is even with "The Sequestration" issue, which is really a problem that needs to be resolve, is that when it comes to the Department of Defense, they have the ability to be able to prioritize where the money goes.
Under this new threat of North Korea, we have to stand strong and we have to make sure we do whatever we do because we don't know what this leader is like. We don't know what he's going to do and whether or not there is going to be provocation.
BURNETT: A recent poll shows two-thirds of South Koreans want to develop nuclear weapons. They support that. Should South Korea have them?
RUPPERSBERGER: Absolutely not. Not only should South Korea not have them, but the other countries in that region. We can't have nuclear countries with nuclear power positive protect themselves. That's why the United States needs to stand behind their allies, but there is another issue here, too and that's China.
China needs to stand up against North Korea. You know, the United Nations, the sanctions that were voted on in the United Nations, one of the first times that I've seen China vote against North Korea, they -- China has their own issues and they don't want the volatility of war occurring in their region.
And North Korea is in the southern part of China. So we need to keep working with China and this is something that's positive that China is now starting to stand up and work with the United States and with the other people in the region to make sure that North Korea does not continue what they're doing right now.
BURNETT: Well, let me ask you a little bit more about China since obviously they're so important here. China is now saying that America's decision to bolster its missile defense system on the west coast would only antagonize North Korea.
Gordon Chang, though, the author of "Nuclear Showdown, North Korea Takes On the World," who has been a regular guest on this program. He said last week that China has been selling North Korea missile launchers for KNO8 missile.
So I wonder from your perspective, do you think China is saying the right thing, but behind closed doors building up North Korea against the U.S. as a back doorway to avoid having to confront the U.S. itself.
RUPPERSBERGER: Well, look, the first thing to relate to the fact of China criticizing -- for increasing our defense, our missile defense, everything has to be on the table when it comes to protecting American lives or having another country threaten to attack the United States of America.
We will do whatever we have to do that is legal and pursuant to all the international issues to protect our citizens. So China can -- has a lot of rhetoric. China is doing a lot of things we're concerned about right now. There are cyber attacks, issues like that.
But the good news is that China, for the first time, stood up against North Korea. China is the only country right now that can really tone down the rhetoric and tell the new leader of North Korea that enough's enough and that we're not going to tolerate these threats and your nuclear issues anymore.
BURNETT: The national security adviser, Tom Donilon, said something strange last week that I want to play for you and get your reaction. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS DONILON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: The United States will not accept North Korea's nuclear state nor will we stand by while it seeks to develop a nuclear missile that can target the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Now Congressman that comment confused me because after all North Korea already is a nuclear state. During years of American sanctions, the country, of course, tested and then developed a nuclear weapon.
So I guess the question to you is, as a member of the Intelligence Committee, is there no red line for North Korea until they launch a weapon that is capable of hitting the U.S. homeland, which is a point of view that actually is supported by the fact that the president is now going ahead with President Bush's missile defense program?
RUPPERSBERGER: Let me say this -- when another country threatens to attack your homeland, kill your people, we have to be ready and we will always do what we have to do to protect. Remember, we have been in South Korea for a long time.
So we understand the North Koreans. We know their strengths and weaknesses. We're going to make sure that they do attack or provocation against our allies such as South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, that we're going to be ready to assist them and to help them.
BURNETT: Congressman Ruppersberger, thanks very much.
Still OUTFRONT, the president is sliding in the polls pretty significantly. Has he lost leverage with Republicans? What does that mean for whether your taxes are going up?
And Stephen Colbert talks to CNN about his sister running for office and this is no joke.
Is talking about being white racist of itself? A war of words over race in America tonight.
BURNETT: Our second story, OUTFRONT, poll plunge. So the president's approval rating has dropped eight points in eight weeks. That is pretty dramatic. He was at 55 percent back in January. Now he's at 47 percent. It doesn't look like the charm offensive charmed the public.
OUTFRONT tonight, two of our contributors. Reihan Salam joins me, a writer for the "National Review" and Cornell Belcher, a former pollster for President Obama. Great to see both of you. Reihan, let me start with you. That drop seems pretty dramatic.
REIHAN SALAM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It seems pretty dramatic, but another way of looking at it is that is roughly where he was for much of his first term. So he is basically going back to that level.
BURNETT: So it's like he already surfed the wave of re-election --
SALAM: When he had an opponent, you know, that has helped him because the opponent was less popular than he was, but the economy, you know, there's a very moderate mild recovery, but it's not a roaring recovery. People are generally discontented. So I think that that's basically the president returning to his level rather than anything too dramatic.
BURNETT: All right, Cornell, I'm sure you're glad that Reihan didn't try to go after you harder on this one. But, you know, it seems to me the president's come out and he's taken a tough stance, he says taxes need to go up on wealthier Americans.
He's going out and been meeting with Republicans. I mean, he's been on a charm offensive and he's gone out across the country and talked to the American people. So given that, I might have thought it might have gone higher.
CORNELL BELCHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think we need context here. Look, Americans are very frustrated with Washington overall. So you're going to see everyone's numbers take a hit here. However, I do think that media does a disservice when we try to set the false equivalents.
Yes, the president's number has taken a hit. "The Washington Post" poll just last week showed Republicans at 72 percent disapproval. That is 72 percent disapproval of Republicans. And even in a CNN polling, Democrats still have an eight point advantage of favorability over Republicans.
So the idea that president's numbers are slipping and he somehow has to bow down to Republicans is missing the point.
BURNETT: I will say, by the way --
BELCHER: -- they are slipping, right?
BURNETT: The CNN poll, the Republican Party has an unfavorable at 54 percent. So it is a little bit worse. That's a fair point that Cornell brings up. I guess the question is, Reihan, though, what can the president do about it?
So if the numbers are going down, right, when you're trying to say I want to do something in Congress, those two things don't seem to go together.
SALAM: Well, here's the thing, 47 percent is not a disaster for the president, but I think that's pretty much his level. I think 55 percent was unusually high and wasn't very sustainable.
Now it's certainly true that Republicans are faring very poorly as well right now partly because Republicans look divided. When you control the White House, then you control the narrative to some degree.
When you're not controlling the White House, you don't have a unified figure to rally around. Necessarily, you focus on the divisions of opinion among Republicans. So I think that there's very little the president can do because frankly 47 percent is roughly capturing the number of folks who reliably and support his agenda.
BURNETT: Unusual numbers, 47 percent obviously reminds me of somebody else. But Cornell, let me ask you this. The president has been making a big stand saying, look, I haven't been the spender that people have tried to portray me as.
We don't have a debt problem right now. He said this guy against him John Boehner, but I just want to play something kind of incredible happened over the weekend. Here is the president and here is John Boehner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We don't have an immediate crisis in terms of debt.
REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: We do not have an immediate debt crisis.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: He just sees the moral high ground there?
BELCHER: That is fairly amazing. By the way, Democrats will be running that for a while now. I think it goes to the point where most Americans are actually focused on jobs and economy, Erin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don't have an immediate crisis in terms of debt.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER: We do not have an immediate debt crisis.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Did he just see the moral high ground there?
BELCHER: I mean, that is fairly amazing. By the way, Democrats will be running that for a while here now. But I think it goes to the point where most Americans are, and most Americans are actually focused on jobs and economy, Erin. They're not focused on the debt.
I think you have that captive sort of Republican grass root that is more focused on the debt and trimming back federal government. And they've captured the sort of Republican Party. But the vast majority of Americans are more focused on the economy and creating jobs and building stable middle class than they are on cutting the deficit. Yes, the deficit is an issue. But it's not the number one issue.
BURNETT: Why'd Boehner do that? By the way, we don't have an immediate debt crisis. You would see that in the market, right? So, Boehner is saying the truth. But that's a nuanced point, and it is against what he's been saying, which is that the debt's a problem. Why did he do that? SALAM: Well, he has been saying we need to address it over the long term. And that requires taking some steps now to address it over the long term. But here's the thing: he is actually opening the possibility that Republicans move to more favorable ground. Because right now, the problem is that Republicans are emphasizing -- have been emphasizing root canal economics, only fiscal austerity rather than a more positive agenda.
But by conceding the point that we don't have an immediate debt crisis, then suddenly you can raise some questions. So, for example, Senator Patty Murray has said let's get rid of the loopholes and deductions for more affluent Americans. Now Republicans can say, sure, let's do that. But instead of sending money to Washington, let's make the child tax credit bigger. Let's offer middle class tax relief. Let's do things that actually put pressure on the spending that President Obama wants but puts that money in the hands of those middle earners who are burdened by the Social Security payroll tax.
This is an idea that is gaining a lot of currency among Republicans but is very difficult for Patty Murray and the Obama administration to follow up on.
BURNETT: Well, but it fits in with what the president wants, Cornell, right? Which is to give more tax relief to the middle class. But I simply have to say as I always do, that, though, is something that flies in the face of what a lot of economists and even former president Bill Clinton say have to happen over the long term, which is taxes need to go up on the middle class. That's where the money is.
BELCHER: Well, the president has been sort of questioned about fairness and saying if you look at sort of the way that Dow is going, you look at sort of the incredible profits on corporations. They're not paying their fair share.
But to go back to the issue at hand, I really think the speaker --
BURNETT: How do you define fair, Cornell? I mean, is it -
BELCHER: Well, I think -
BURNETT: If you tax them 100 percent, you wouldn't get rid of the debt problem. And you already raised their taxes. They're back now higher than they were under Bill Clinton. So what is fair?
BELCHER: Well, I think it is a real sort of visceral Main Street issue. When working Americans are paying sort of more taxes than Warren Buffett, I think you get the sense that it not fair. When you have large corporations, big oil companies raking in billions in profits - some of them not paying any taxes at all - I think it's fairly clear to Americans that that's not fair.
BURNETT: Actually, if you looked at the oil companies' marginal tax rates, I think you might be shocked. It's kind of amazing. They are actually on average, the big oil giants, paying more than the statutory rate. But to Cornell's point, other companies do not. But they actually do stand out as people who do pay.
SALAM: Well, it's also an issue where the companies who pay low corporate tax are sometimes the big large incumbent companies, companies like GE that President Obama champions regularly.
BURNETT: GE, yes -
SALAM: These are companies that are -- more regulation insulates large, incumbent firms that are also able to take on more debt than start-up companies. The thing is, when you look at this complicated landscape, if you actually have corporate tax reform that would arguably benefit a lot of the start-ups that would be taking on large incumbents that can borrow more easily, it's a very complicated landscape. Just saying we have high corporate profits, ergo we should tax them more, actually confuses the issue.
BELCHER: But however, from a purely political sense, from a purely political sense, can you not tell the average American who is paying their fair share of taxes and looking at Warren Buffett and looking at Mitt Romney and looking at sort of the lack of taxes that they pay and argue that it's fair.
SALAM: Warren Buffett --
BELCHER: you can't - but look. When you look at sort of -- he himself says he is paying less taxes than his secretary.
SALAM: When you look at that and (INAUDIBLE) the portrait of the own tax liability. But fair enough.
BELCHER: Well, then, you take that case up with Warren Buffett because that's what he is saying. And when you look at sort of where corporate America is sort of profiting and American middle class wages are stagnant, you can't look at this and say that's fair.
SALAM: I agree that high corporate profits are a problem. But I think regulation actually exacerbates that problem because it limits the ability of startups to take on those companies. That's why even in Mexico they're taking on Carlos (INAUDIBLE), who is their version of Warren Buffett for the very good reason that's the way you get jobs and growth by having more entrepreneurship, more growth. And actually high corporate tax that are biased towards the GEs and Buffets of the world are the problem.
BELCHER: It's a weird argument - it's a weird argument to say that we need more regulation when corporations are sitting on record profits. It's just a weird argument, and most Americans on Main Street can't buy that argument.
SALAM: Well...that happens to be true.
BURNETT: All right, we're going to hit pause there, gentlemen. Thank you both very much. Still OUTFRONT, new revelations about the teenager who killed 26 people in Newtown, Connecticut. Investigators have discovered a spreadsheet seven feet long on his plans.
And Stephen Colbert rarely breaks character to talk about something serious. But he is a human like all of us and he loves his sister. So he did exactly that today speaking to CNN.
And Glenn Beck tweets this actor playing Satan looks like someone famous. Was it a joke or something much worse?
BURNETT: Our third story OURFRONT, Colbert comes clean. Stephen Colbert talks about politics a lot, as you know, as his alter ego with the same name on his late-night TV show. But he hasn't often talked politics as the real Stephen Colbert. He did, though, when he sat down with my colleague Jake Tapper to talk about his sister's run for office.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, THE LEAD: It takes real talent for a fake anchorman to make millions of people care about the news, yet Stephen Colbert pulls it off with ease. And these days when he's not playing the part of a pundit, he's helping his sister enter the same world that's always at the butt of his jokes, politics.
TAPPER: With a screeching eagle and a cocked brow, "The Colbert Report" on Comedy Central has resonated with audiences for nine seasons and counting.
AUDIENCE (chanting): Stephen! Stephen! Stephen!
TAPPER: The one-time protege of "The Daily Show's" Jon Stewart now has his own wax figure at Madam Tousseau's (ph), a bathroom- adjacent painting at the National Portrait Gallery and, oh, yes, a few Peabody Awards.
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": I'm enormous. Am I still?
COLBERT: Oh, good.
TAPPER: You couldn't be bigger.
(voice-over): And now, Stephen Colbert is breaking character to dip his toe into real politics, supporting his sister Elizabeth, who works in business development at Clemson University and is running for Congress as a Democrat in their home state of South Carolina.
(on camera): This was the first actual election you actually got involved in?
COLBERT: Yes, yes, this is the first one. TAPPER: I don't think anyone would begrudge you --
COLBERT: Doing this for my sister.
TAPPER: Trying to help your sister.
COLBERT: Exactly. She's my sister, and I'm willing to, you know, break the jewel of my own creation to try to do something for her. Like, I'm not worried about what it would do to me or my show to try to help her as myself, not as my character, but to help her as myself. You know, if people think that's not the right thing for me to do, I don't care. It's my sister, and I'm willing to help her.
TAPPER: So, you think she'd actually be a good public servant?
COLBERT: I've met these people.
COLBERT: And my sister, she's in the top decile (ph).
TAPPER: Be sure to check out more of my interview with Stephen Colbert at CNN.com/thelead. Jake Tapper, CNN, Washington.
BURNETT: We should check that out. It was great.
Still OUTFRONT, police discover a dorm room full of guns, bombs and a plan to kill. What actually stopped this attack?
And why is David Hasslehoff taking a stand in Germany? And he's not eating cheeseburgers.
BURNETT: And welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT. We start the second half of our show with stories we care about, where we focus on our reporting from the front lines.
And tonight, we begin with new details about the killer in Newtown. Three months after Adam Lanza took the lives of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary, we're learning he prepared for it meticulously. "The New York Daily News" reports he had seven foot long spread sheets which contained extensive research on mass murders of the past. The Connecticut state police would not confirm those details for us but did say sensitive information has been disclosed.
And update on Mali. According to a report by SITE Intelligent Group, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is looking for recruits to fight crusader France. The firm says AQIM is urging Islamist youths in North Africa to join. Rudy Attala (ph), an expert, tells us Northern Mali has been a safe haven for terrorists for more than a decade. Obviously, as of late, it's become a complete country to them. As soon as France leaves, though, next month, Attala says they will return.
And a major break today in the largest art theft in history. It was a heist that took place 23 years ago. So, the FBI came out -- I mean, this is incredible. Now, they finally figured it out. They know, they say, who stole 13 precious art works, once valued at a half a billion dollars, i.e., could be a heck a lot more than that now.
They were stolen from Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990. But here's the incredible thing, people, the FBI won't name the suspects because of the statute of limitations. It's run out. So, they cannot charge anyone with the theft.
OK, so somebody or some people now have a Rembrandt and a Vernier which they can sell on the black market. OK, it's never been recovered. They can go ahead and sell it because the lesson appears to be this -- if you want to steal art, just do a good job and keep it hidden long enough and you won't go to jail. I don't know how else to interpret that.
All right. The NCAA tournament kicks off tomorrow and we're pretty serious about March Madness here at CNN. We've got our own bracket challenge. RJ Bell says we're not alone. He is founder of pregame.com and tells us more than 100 million people worldwide are expected more than $12 billion on the tournament. So, that's more than the Super Bowl.
There are 9.2 quintillion possible brackets. Pretty incredibly that number. It won't be a slam dunk.
Anyway, my bracket will be a slam dunk to beat if you are in any way decent. I am the anti-hoop after all go. To CNN.com/brackets.
Well, it's been 592 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?
Well, after a record breaking streak of the Dow last week, stocks dropped a bit today, over a controversial bailout for Cyprus, an island country and banking haven in the Mediterranean. The Dow fell, the S&P 500 fell. The good news is experts think this is only a hiccup.
And now the fourth story OUTFRONT: Signs of a deadly attack. A former University of Central Florida student was found dead in a dorm room of an apparent suicide. But also, there was a gun, there was a backpack and it was full of bombs. But what may be even more chilling are the notes that police found indicating a planned attack.
OUTFRONT tonight Chief Richard Beary from the University of Central Florida Police Department.
Good to see you, Chief. I really appreciate you taking the time.
What can you tell me about this man, 30 years old, James Oliver Seevakumaran, who was he? Why was he planning this attack?
RICHARD BEARY, CHIEF, UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA POLICE DEPARTMENT: Well, right now, you know, trying to get the background investigation and find out what made him tick is all under investigation. We do know he was 30 years old, had been a student there, had been a loner and very kind of anti-social behavior.
BURNETT: Now what -- we were talking about the gun, the backpack, the IEDs that you found. What about these notes?
BEARY: Well, when our officers found him, we did -- there was a handgun and a tactical rifle inside a backpack. As we were searching the premises, we found what we would consider four IEDs. So we had to have the explosive ordinance unit come and dispose of those and we're working with the FBI now to try to find out exactly what those materials were.
BURNETT: So, four IEDS. Do you have any idea how he got the devices or whether you built them himself? What were you -- what's your instinct right now?
BEARY: All the indications are that he built them himself.
BURNETT: Wow. Do you -- do you and in terms of motive, again, I'm just curious about the notes that you found indicating he was planning an attack. Do you know what he intended to do with all of this?
BEARY: No. It wasn't clear what the attack was going to consist of. However, he did have a time line of how he was getting ready and preparing and then in the end, he would just give them hell is the quote that he used in the time line.
BURNETT: So he said give them hell. It's unclear at this point who they were?
BEARY: That's correct. Who they is, is unknown at this time. However, our investigation is continuing.
BURNETT: Now before police arrived, the fire alarm went off at the dorm. Do you know if this was connected to this or do you think that, you know, there but for the grace of God?
BEARY: No, actually, all indications are that actually the deceased activated the fire alarm before going back inside and arming himself.
BURNETT: So when you put together the dots that you have now, I know that you're still figuring things out, I know you're working with the FBI, but do you believe a major deadly attack was averted at the University of Central Florida?
BEARY: There's no doubt in my mind. Clearly, his aim was to injure people. We believe that the activating the fire alarm was an opportunity to get people out of their rooms and put a lot of people possibly into his targets.
But we had some luck on our side and we got a 911 call, so we were able to respond quickly and bring it to rapid conclusion. BURNETT: And do you have any sense of a motive at this point? Any sort of online activity that you were able to pick up or anything yet?
BEARY: No. So far he's been a lone wolf. We found very few ties. He did not have a lot of friends, one of those people that really and truly flies under the radar and had some anger issues. But no outward signs, no issues with law enforcement in the past.
So he was just truly one of those that are out there and he made up his mind and set a time line and put a plan into place. >
BURNETT: Which is so terrifying. When you were telling me that he assembled these IEDs himself, sir, do you think that -- I mean, I guess this is -- people can do this on their own with what they can obtain and hardware stores, online and nobody can find out about it, right? I mean that's one of the lessons here.
BEARY: Absolutely. You know, with the age of the Internet and a little bit of research, unfortunately, people have the ability to make homemade bombs and homemade devices. And I think that's what we're going to find in this particular case.
However, like I said, we will -- we have sent samples to the FBI crime lab and hopefully, we'll be able to identify just exactly what those ingredients were.
BURNETT: All right, Chief. We're so glad that you were able to avert an attack that you saw and appreciate you are taking the time.
Well, still OUTFRONT, David Hasselhoff is trying to save the Berlin wall, seriously.
And a controversial magazine cover ignites firestorm over race. Is there no way to talk about being white in America? The editor is OUTRONT next.
BURNETT: We are back with tonight's "Outer Circle", where we reach out to our sources around the world.
And tonight, we go to Germany, where thousands of demonstrators are fighting to save the Berlin wall. Among them, American actor David Hasselhoff.
Fred Pleitgen is in Berlin and I asked him about the Hoff.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erin, this is the piece of the Berlin wall in question. It's called the East Side Gallery. It is about a mile long. As you can see, it's full of pictures and it's actually also a tourist magnet here in the German capital. Now, a real estate developer wants to tear down part of the Berlin wall that's still left. But, of course, thousands of people have been demonstrating against that. And now, among them is David Hasselhoff. He showed up here on Sunday and sang his famous song, "I've been looking for a freedom", which was basically the soundtrack for the walk coming down in 1989 during the revolution back then.
And, of course, many people here in Germany still like David Hasselhoff, got a huge fan base here in the country. That's one of the reasons thousands of people showed up to watch him sing -- Erin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Thanks to Fred. It looked like a lot of people hustling the Hoff.
And now we go to India where another brutal gang rape has led to outrage and demonstrations. A horrific story, this time a victim, a Swiss tourist. Her husband was also beaten.
Sumnima Udas is in New Delhi and I asked her what happened to the couple.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUMNIMA UDAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, just a few months after the deadly gang rape of a young student in New Delhi, another gang rape reported in India. This time the target is a Swiss tourist. The 39-year-old woman was traveling across India with her husband on a bicycle. They've been here since early February and they're cycling from the city of Mumbai, all the way up north to Agra, which is where the famous Taj Mahal is.
Now, authorities say the couple had camped out over the weekend in a very remote part of central India and that's where a group of men robbed the couple and raped the woman.
Now, authorities say six men have confessed to their crimes. They have been arrested. And they've been presented before a local court.
But the Swiss woman has yet to identify the suspects -- Erin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Sumnima, thanks.
And now, let's check in with Anderson Cooper with a look at what's coming up on "A.C. 360."
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Erin. We've got breaking news tonight in the program.
The mother of the teen who is raped in Steubenville, Ohio, speaks out tonight on 360 about the conviction of two local football stars and about what happened to her daughter. We'll also speak about what seems to be a backlash against her daughter, if can you believe it, with attorney and children's advocate Areva Martin, also senior Jeffrey Toobin.
Also tonight, keeping them honest, a truly disturbing story out of Mississippi. This man, Garret Burdette (ph) was killed while working down a rural road, possibly intentionally and possibly because of the color of his skin. It's really hard to know what happened because no one investigated the case. Not for 3 1/2 years, not until CNN began asking questions.
We'll speak with the victim's mother who is led to believe that there had been an active investigation all along. Also, an African- American man who says his brother was also intentionally run over and killed by a white driver in the same county.
Those stories and tonight's "RidicuList" and a whole lot more, Erin, at the top of the hour.
All right, Anderson, we'll see you in just a few minutes. Looking forward to it.
And now our fifth story OUTFRONT: being white in Philly. I'm talking about a controversial cover story that has come out in this month's "Philadelphia Magazine". It looks at how some white middle class residents feel about the issue of race.
Now, a lot of the article, and you should read it, the entire thing, it's really anecdotes and stories from residents about how they feel. For example, the author talked to a woman from Moscow and she told him, quote, "Blacks use skin color as an excuse. Discrimination is an excuse, instead of moving forward. It's a shame -- you pay taxes, they're not doing anything except sitting on porches smoking pot. Why do you support them when they won't work? Just make babies and smoke pot?"
The city's Mayor Michael Nutter in a four-page letter called the article pathetic, uninformed essay that allowed the author to, quote, "feed his own misguided perception of African-Americans as an ethnic group that in its entirety is lazy, shiftless, irresponsible and largely criminal."
I spoke to the editor of the "Philadelphia Magazine", Tom McGrath earlier and asked him to respond to that allegation by the mayor.
TOM MCGRATH, EDITOR, PHILADELPHIA MAGAZINE: I think the mayor has mischaracterized what the story is about. You know, the way the story was done, the writer went and talked to some white people in a certain neighborhood in Philadelphia, got their views on race. A number of those views were incredibly ugly and bigoted. A number of others were incredibly empathetic. The writer's own views on this are certainly not bigoted in any way. So, I'm not sure why the mayor is describing the story the way he has been. BURNETT: The author, he also brought another example up that stood out to me when he goes into the Wawa. And he was saying in this neighborhood, the neighborhood about which he wrote he story, he holds the door for black people at the Wawa longer than he would for white people and he writes about that, saying, "On one level such self consideration consciousness can be seen as sensitivity can be seen as progress when it comes to race. And yet, lately, I've come to fear that the opposite might also be true, that our carefulness is, in fact, at the heart of the problem. Race remains the elephant in the room, even on the absurd level of who holds the door to enter a convenient store."
And then he continued about that incident and write, "In so many quarters, simply discussing race is seen as a racist thing. And so, white people are stuck, dishonest by default as we take a pass on the state of this city's largely inner black city and settle for politely opening doors at Wawa before we slip back into our own lives."
An article in "Ebony" magazine wrote about this article saying this is a reminder of what contemporary racism looks like, polite, discreet, even timid.
Do you agree with that criticism or do you think that Huber was really calling out an unfortunate truth?
MCGRATH: Well, I think what he was trying to say with the door anecdote is that there is a hyper sensitivity about race and that well-meaning people try and do things that sort of overcompensate in order to be polite, in order to sort of let's have the spirit that we can all get along. The problem can become if people of either race feel inhibited from saying what they honestly think about any issue at all. And I think that's what he was trying to get at with that example.
BURNETT: So, you know, Clarence Thomas wrote the cover article in this week's "Week in Review" in "New York Times" on affirmative action. Obviously Justice Sotomayor has also been talking about that issue. It seems race is it more in the forefront lately.
Do you believe in the premise of the article, which is that people are afraid to talk about race? Or do you think that that in and of itself was more meant to be a provocative statement rather than a reflection of reality?
MCGRATH: I think there are clearly some people would are afraid to talk about race. And I, you know, that's one of the reasons we did the story. I think the only way we move forward on this is if people no matter what they think about this issue feel free to say what they think.
I think it's impossible to move forward on things if people keep feelings hidden. So, I mean, I'm actually, as much as people criticized the piece, I'm actually happy to hear that, too, because people get to express that they think.
BURNETT: I mean, were you excited when the mayor sent this letter to you? You had to be in a sense, right? As a magazine editor, you're trying to get people to talk and be controversial. This has to be on some level for you a victory, doesn't it?
MCGRATH: Well, I mean I was excited in the sense that part of what the mayor said he is wanted the Human Relations Commission in Philadelphia to open their own investigation into race in Philadelphia, which was exactly the reason we did the story.
I was less excited by the fact that the mayor also asked the Human Relations Commission, which is a portion of the government, to actually rebuke the magazine for having done this story. I find his logic bizarre. That he wants to have a conversation, yet he wants to rebuke the folks who actually started the conversation.
BURNETT: All right. And I want to bring in nationally syndicated talk radio show host, Michael Medved. We should also mention he is from Philadelphia. And Africana studies director at the University of Pennsylvania, Camille Charles.
Good to see both of you and I appreciate your taking the time.
Camille, let me start with you. The magazine editor, you just heard him, Tom McGrath saying, look, don't blame the messenger, we're just trying to have a conversation.
Do you think the way they conveyed their message, let's talk about race, was racist?
CAMILLE CHARLES, AFRICANA STUDIES DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: No. I mean, to say let's talk about race is not racist. And you know, we throw the word "racist" around sometimes far too easily.
I think it was insensitive in some ways and it left African- Americans in Philadelphia feeling left out of that conversation, because African-Americans have to think about being black in terms of the way that white society thinks about black people, and the reverse is also true.
So to exclude them from that conversation is a little bit problematic. But I think a bigger issue is that the author of the article actually lives in one of the most stably integrated neighborhoods in the country, and it's roughly 50/50 black/white. It's solidly middle class and upper middle class, and yet where you actually do have these kind of conversations going on. I live two miles from that Wawa, and people do talk explicitly about race in that community.
On the other hand, he chose to go to a neighborhood and remember, Philadelphia's one of the most segregated cities in the country, he chooses to go to a neighborhood that is extremely segregated not only by race, but also by class. And so, in some sense, you've got middle class whites bumping up against some of the poorest blacks in the city. And so, all of the negative stereotypes that have been problematic throughout history are more likely to be concentrated in those communities. And so, that adds to the difficulty in talking about race but it also changes the conversation fundamentally.
And I think another thing to think about is in the same way that blacks don't like to be thought about as a monolithic or singular community that all thinks the same way, whites don't, either.
CHARLES: And so, to portray this as all whites in Philadelphia is problematic and whites actually should be troubled by that as well.
BURNETT: Interesting point.
Michael, what do you think about the context? Just this weekend, we found out that whites in America are going to be a minority within the next 30 years and obviously that will be compared to a plurality of blacks, Hispanics and Asians, right? So, it's not that there's going to be one other group that dominates but it is an interesting time, even just seeing the word white anything is not the way we are used to seeing it phrased. Let's be honest.
MICHAEL MEDVED, SALEM RADIO: Well, what I think was foolish about the article, and I think the article is profoundly stupid, I don't think it's racist, everything that is racist is stupid but not everything that is stupid is racist.
This is stupid. And it's stupid to say this is being white in Philadelphia. There are many different ways of being white in Philadelphia.
And one of the things that Mr. Huber does in the article is he starts out talking about people who are from in one case, from Russia and in the other case, from Panama, who are not native Philadelphians and who have very little for whom the city itself is alien. And it's not just the African-Americans in the city of Philadelphia.
What I think is problematic here is the overreaction by the mayor, the fact that he wants --
BURNETT: Four-page letter.
MEDVED: -- the human rights commission -- yes. And surely, Mayor Nutter has better things to do right now. I think Philadelphia has bigger problems than a foolish article that was foolishly titled. If they had called the article something about one neighborhood's problems or some white people have retrograde attitudes, it would have been fine. But being white in Philadelphia and they're going to define this based upon the comments of an emigre who says that all black people spend their time smoking marijuana and popping out babies -- yes, that's pretty offensive.
BURNETT: But I think we all kind of agree with that. I would recommend everyone read it and share your opinion, whether you think it's racist, inappropriate, what you think of the stories within it. Thanks very much to Michael and Camille. OUTFRONT next, Satan and Glenn Beck.
BURNETT: Twitter exploded over a comment about a character in the hugely popular History Channel show, "The Bible." The character was Satan. And the comment was Satan looks like the president of the United States.
Now, "The Bible" is produced by "The Survivor" and "Voice" producer Mark Burnett and his wife, Roma Downey. It is, as the name implies, a retelling of the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation.
This weekend, right wing radio host Glenn Beck tweeted something about the show. Quoting Beck, quote, "Anyone else think the devil in 'The Bible' Sunday on History Channel looks exactly like that guy?"
"That guy" is what Glenn Beck calls President Obama, maybe he doesn't respect him enough to use his title. According to Beck, Mehdi Quazanni, the actor who plays the devil in the series looks like the president.
Now, Beck has his followers, which is why his tweet took off. Since the broadcast, more than 20,000 tweets containing the words Obama and Satan have been posted. The producers of the show called any resemblance utter nonsense.
Today, Beck took to Twitter again and not to clarify. He said this: "Media, relax. Actor has been in similar roles before. Funny, nothing more. For different reasons, 'The Bible' is one of my fave shows. Keep watching."
Actor has been in similar roles before. In the world of Glenn Beck, that means he's definitely a ringer for the president because this isn't the first time he's made that comparison.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
GLENN BECK, RADIO HOST: Let me play devil's advocate, and may mean that literally, and argue for the president here for a second.
Some of the Book of Revelation crazies out there actually believe that Barack Obama is the antichrist.
Is it possible that Barack Obama is the antichrist?
There are people and they said this about Bill Clinton that actually believe he might be the antichrist.
The government is acting in the role of Lucifer.
Odds that Barack Obama is the antichrist.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
BURNETT: There are people, yes. At least Beck's not alone. There is one other person who compares the president of the United States to the devil. Not that guy. This guy. He said the United States has, quote, "entrusted themselves to the devil."
Despite what Beck says, his tweet had a purpose and it was dark.
"ANDERSON COOPER 360" starts right now.