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CNN NEWSROOM

Panel Discussion of the Day's Stories; Gay Marriage Debated; Using Drones to Gather News Examined

Aired March 22, 2013 - 14:30   ET

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


BEN FERGUSON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I'm not trying to -- I'm not trying to make anyone that is gay or lesbian including my friends that are gay or lesbian, force them into marriage. I'm saying why can't you show tolerance and actually accept that marriage has been defined between a man and woman and civil unions would give you all the protections under the law --

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I'm going to give Wendy Walsh the last word. But Ben, I'm going to say this before Wendy gets the last word. No one should have to tolerate hate or discrimination. That's the --

FERGUSON: I don't hate you.

LEMON: I know, but, listen, you don't hate me, but that's discriminating against me because you're saying -- what you're saying different but equal, I don't have the same rights that you have as an American. Wendy, go ahead.

WENDY WALSH, PSYCHOLOGIST: The elephant in the living room that we're all talking around here is that what we're really seeing is enormous change and variance within the GOP. I think it is so important to keep this capitalist society that we keep it a two-party system, if not trying to figure out who they are and what their beliefs are.

There is not a lot of cohesion. There is a lot of variance. It is all good. It is all growth and they do need to be the watchdogs of the party that is in power right now. That's it.

LEMON: That's going to be the last word.

All right, I'm pretty upset over this next one, first, they're attacking soda and cigarettes and now experts saying don't eat salt.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: We're back. Everything is calm. That last panel was salty, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's what I said.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good, though. Good TV. Good to watch.

LEMON: People are overdosing on salt, guys. It is not just the stuff inside the shaker, the salt inside pre-packaged foods that is taking us down. That's the finding from several new studies about the danger of salt that were just presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association.

Latest bad news, most prepared toddler meals have more than the recommended amount of salt for kids, which is about 210 milligrams per serving. Look at this study, 75 percent of the world's population is getting 4,000 milligrams a day. That's a lot. That's double the recommended amount.

Listen, OK. Dede, I know you always want to have the last word -- or I mean the first word and the last word. What do you think about that? I'm of two minds.

DEDE MCGUIRE, RADIO HOST, "DEDE IN THE MORNING SHOW": The only thing I can say is this, I love my -- obviously it is addictive, we're starting at such a young age, in all our food, it is what it is. They're going to tell us we can gnaw on celery and then say, there is a problem with that. Like, really? Too much of anything is bad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody call Michael Bloomberg. Tell him to send the salt police.

LEMON: The salt shaker can only have one hole, can only be this big.

MARA DAVIS, RADIO AND TV PERSONALITY: With all due respect, this is an important conversation to be having. People are buying these foods for their kids, and they're serving it to them and they're extremely high in salt. Look, the Bloomberg law is maybe crazy and non- traditional --

LEMON: Ridiculous.

DAVIS: But it opened people's minds, when you drink soda -- we need to raise awareness. People need to be eating healthy.

LEMON: Hang on, David. Jack, listen, I eat salt. I love Burger King. I love my, yes, burger here in Atlanta. I like Five Guys, all of it. When I was a kid, they would say, eat all this stuff, most of the people I knew ate all this stuff. We were OK, we used to go outside and eat dirt and they said great, it is good for your immune system.

JACK MOORE, EDITOR, BUZZFEED SPORTS: I ate McDonald's on the way here.

LEMON: Let him finish. Go ahead, Jack.

MOORE: I just -- I think you're totally right, Don. For years and years and years everybody was fine and people were eating this food and they were -- we're -- every study that comes out shows something is going to kill us.

We're living on earth is a slow -- we're all going to die. It is a war of attrition we will lose. So it is a matter of picking your battles. The day that you're born means you're one day closer to death.

LEMON: So enjoy the burger.

DAVIS: Back in the day, people were eating real fruits and vegetables. They weren't eating pre-packaged foods. It is true.

LEMON: Here's the deal. David, quickly, we got to run.

DAVID BEGNAUD, HOST, "NEWSBREAKER WITH DAVID BIGNAUD": Here's the deal. In Los Angeles and West Hollywood, we have this store that gives you the pre-packaged food. You go in there. It is cheap, looks good, you turn it over. It has 900 grams of sodium. It is a legitimate topic we need to talk about.

LEMON: I'm shocked. In West Hollywood --

BIGNAUD: We're all shocked.

LEMON: Thank you, Guys.

Up next, one university teaching young reporters how to use drones that's gathering news. We'll talk about that later.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: My panel has done a lot of talking today so short answers, guys. We know big brother is watching. You as well, cameras seem to be everywhere, in stores, along sidewalks and more and more in the skies. Not just the military using them. Soon it could be your neighbor.

I want you to get this, University of Missouri teaching its journalism students how to use drones. The school article says the point is for students to, quote, gather images that will enhance news stories and potentially generate stories.

Is it innovative or invasive? A few paparazzi in Europe started to use drones already. Wendy, as someone -- I'm not a celebrity, but with someone to some degree of celebrity, this bothers me.

WALSH: I think we should be happy they're in the hands of journalists instead of just the government. But the truth is, this is a hunger games meets George Orwell and Don, last week I read 1984 because I was reading it with my teenager and I was shocked how it has all come true. I even put a post it over the little camera on my laptop now because people tell me that hackers can get in and watch you in your room.

LEMON: My goodness.

WALSH: So it is frightening. We all have to be careful, but I do like that all sides have access to the technology at this point.

LEMON: David, she said journalists -- it depends on your definition of journalists. Should that be paparazzi as well or -- or one of the tabloid shows.

DAVID SIROTA, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST AND RADIO HOST: Look, I mean, this is -- this speaks to the idea we're becoming a surveillance society. We're getting used to the idea that big brother is watching. And big brother, I think, to Wendy's point, is not just the government. It is really all sorts of companies, corporations, now even journalists.

I think it is frightening. I think the good news is we're becoming aware of it. How to deal with it is a big question? I'm not comfortable with the idea of corporations, private individuals, being able to surveil their neighbors, to be able to look in on what should be the notion -- that should be areas of private property.

I mean, the notion of privacy right now is really seriously under attack. It brings all sorts of ethical questions.

LEMON: So, Ben, you're in your backyard and you want to do sunning in your Speedo and a drone flies by.

BEN FERGUSON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: When you're grown up, your parents are like, listen up, kids, study hard, go to college, get a real job so you're not playing with remote controlled toys. I mean, this is not journalism training. This is paparazzi training.

And the University of Missouri, one of the top journalism schools in the country, should be teaching that you shouldn't have to use drones to get a story if you're actually a good journalist.

LEMON: You're agreeing, right?

FERGUSON: Can you imagine -- can you imagine on your resume putting, I can fly this really good?

TERESA WILTZ, DEPUTY EDITOR, ESSENCE: As a journalist, I mean, look, journalism is under siege. And journalism schools are looking for ways to be more relevant to stay ahead of the technology curve. So, I mean, I think that's what they're doing here. I think being experimental in your education is a good thing to keep an open mind.

But on the other hand, there are serious privacy concerns here, and as a journalist who got her start doing, you know, shoe leather reporting, you know, just pounding the pavement, you know, there is a difference between voyeurism and journalism. And as a tool, that's one thing, but it can't substitute for reporting getting the facts.

LEMON: Theresa, David, Wendy, and Ben, who is the messy one today, you're the -- every day there is someone who causes a mess. Today it is Ben Ferguson. All right, thank you, guys.

This next one is going to be good. She is a gossip queen that likes to dish on the hottest stars. Ratings for Wendy Williams show skyrocketing, but some celebs fighting back. We'll tell you about an open letter.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Here we go. Wendy Williams, how you doing? How you doing?

Apparently, pretty well these days, Wendy's ratings are off the charts, up 47 percent in February in the key ratings and despite talk shows from Anderson to Ricki Lake being canceled, the Wendy Williams show was not only renewed, but it is adding two extra months of news shows this summer while other talk shows take a break.

But all this success at what cost? Some celebrities say she bashes them with rumors and lies. The latest, Will Smith's aunt from "The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air," Janet Hubert, she called Wendy a demon. Why? Because she asked her co-star Tatyana Ali why she really left the hit show. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WENDY WILLIAMS: From my point of view, it was really like a divorce, like when it actually happened. It felt like a divorce and then Daphne Reid came in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The new aunt viv.

WILLIAMS: The new aunt viv. We had to get to know our new mom but there was definitely, like, negativity, like you could feel it. We really loved each other and laughed every day. I don't see why there would be tension or what the issue would be.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for clearing that up for us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK, panel, so, you know she was watching that day and she came out in support and wrote Wendy Williams a letter talking about calling her wiggy and wavy and she's vulgar language all the time.

LEMON: What do you think of this?

BIGNAUD: Look, the letter was hilarious. I had to read it twice today. I couldn't write my thoughts down on what I thought of it because I was laughing so hard. When you're in the talk show business, you can go one of two routes, the Maury route or the Oprah route.

Most try to go the Oprah route and fail. You may not want to go the Maury route. Wendy does something in between. I think she's hilarious. You know why it works, Don? She asks the questions that people want to know. She can be messy, she can be dirty, she can be irreverent end and people love that. It works. Does she -- people off, she does. And it works.

LEMON: One thing about Wendy's show, you look at the talk shows that have been canceled or are doing well or poorly, the only two renewed, Steve Harvey and Wendy Williams. That says a lot about diversity and the kind of topics they cover.

MCGUIRE: I think it says a lot about them. I think it says a lot about them as personalities.

LEMON: I said Mara.

DAVIS: Thank you. This is like a gift from the baby Jesus. Here it is, another great PR thing for her, this letter is hilarious.

LEMON: Exactly.

DAVIS: The scathing letter, and then the end, she calls her a demon and a virus and a wig and at the end, it says peace. That is comedy.

MCGUIRK: I was just going to say, I used to work with Wendy in New York and I love her and I'm proud of her. The one thing about this woman who says all these things about Wendy and how terrible she is and she tuned in to watch the one piece of the show, because Tatiana Ali, that was a lie. She said so much about Wendy's show that she's a fan.

LEMON: Wendy is a doll. That's what she does. Everyone takes what Wendy says with a grain of salt. It is not world news tonight. It is the Wendy Williams show. Relax a little bit.

OK, guys. Hang on, hang on. Last night I kept getting all these tweets about, Don Lemon, take a look. Did you have a clip of scandal? Yes, no.

MOORE: One of the reporters tonight scandal favor Don Lemon back on Scandal --

LEMON: You can put tweets up as we talk and you can let the audience read them. Do we all look alike?

BIGNAUD: I don't know why I got that question.

MOORE: Don, I'm a better looking black guy than you are.

MCGUIRE: I get mistaken for Don Lemon a lot.

LEMON: Well, too bad I was watching the NCAA last night. I didn't get to see Scandal, so I didn't respond until this morning.

MCGUIRE: Hottest show on TV.

LEMON: Thank you so much. Thank you, guys, I appreciate it. Have a good weekend. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: You don't have to be a basketball fan to know it is March Madness. Tom Foreman takes a look at what makes the NCAA tournament a fan favorite.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even as tiny Valparaiso failed to win, boosters had reason to celebrate because their team at least made it into what has become the sports spectacle of spring. In truth, the NCAA tournament is rivalled by few other sporting events any time of year, drawing millions of fans who follow every dribble and millions more who don't know a free throw from a foul -- Michael Wilbon with ESPN.

MICHAEL WILBON, CO-HOST, ESPN "PARDON THE INTERRUPTION": They wouldn't have any idea what the basketball programs are about or what they have done historically, but they know final four. It is a brand, uniquely American brand.

FOREMAN: The tournament started in 1939 when basketball itself was still just gathering steam and it was an underdog, a distant second to a much more popular college playoff series.

But shrewd marketing and good luck pushed the final four into a fast break of staggering success. Today, the contest is met with billions of dollars in TV revenue and had fans from Wichita, their team playing, to the White House guessing who will win.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think Indiana is here.

FOREMAN (on camera): In many ways, that's what makes the final four so attractive. Unlike football where many teams are out of contention for the championship, even before their seasons end, in the final four, dozens of teams come into the tournament with a real shot at the crown, even if it is a long one.

WILBON: Basketball is a much more democratic endeavour, if you will. It is much more inclusive.

FOREMAN (voice-over): That is what has driven the final four to such heights. The Cinderella story, the championship comebacks, and the idea that even when Bucknell meets Butler, one of them might go all the way. Tom Foreman, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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