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Racism and Sororities; Paparazzi and Celebrity Kids

Aired September 26, 2013 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey. Welcome to "AC360 Later." Thanks for joining us tonight.

Tonight, a new trial for a Florida woman whose stand your ground defense was rejected, all-white sororities accused of racism, and how far is too far when it comes to the paparazzi and celebrity kids?

We start, though, with tonight's breaking news. Kenyan authorities say they have a suspect in custody they believe is one of the terrorists who attacked the Nairobi shopping mall. He was caught trying to escape as shoppers were trying evacuating the mall.

Also, multiple eyewitnesses now telling CNN that several young women were among the attackers and one of them was a white woman. Authorities are much more cautious on that point.

At the table tonight, CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos, also Rich Galen, Republican strategist and former press secretary for Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich, Charles Blow, CNN political commentator and op-ed columnist for "The New York Times" and in our fifth chair my old friend journalist and author Alison Stewart.

We start with CNN's out with CNN's Nima Elbagir, who has been covering this story from the beginning Nairobi and she's joining us now.

Nima, explain this now that we have eyewitnesses who are saying a number of women were involved in the attack? How reliable is this?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, understandably in the terror and the chaos of people fleeing and being shot at, you do question how reliable that can be.

But given that this is Kenya, given that most of the attackers from the pictures that we have seen from inside the scene were dark- skinned, a woman would stand out. A white woman especially would stand out. A white woman carrying a gun, I think that's probably quite difficult to get wrong.

But as you said, the Kenyan authorities are being more cautious. They're saying that they have credible evidence that would lead them to believe that this could be the case, but they don't know for sure, Anderson.

COOPER: Explain this woman that they call the White Widow. Who is she? What her name is. What is her alleged involvement?

ELBAGIR: This is Samantha Lewthwaite. She is the daughter of a British soldier from a very genteel part of Britain out in Buckinghamshire in the Home Counties.

She converted to Islam, was married to Jermaine Lindsay, who was one of the July 7, 2007, bombers in the London tube attacks. After he killed himself, she appeared in a lot of news media, denouncing this attack. Her community in Buckinghamshire rallied around her and then she just disappeared.

We didn't hear about her again until 2011 when just completely by accident a Kenyan police team stumbled over her while they were looking for someone else. They went away, got intelligence that the Brits were interested in her, came back and she disappeared.

But what they did find was an awful lot of weaponry, money and explosives. And she has been on the run ever since until now when the Kenyans have asked Interpol to set up an international red alert to try and find her.

COOPER: How concerned is anyone at this table about this style of attack in the United States?

CHARLES BLOW, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think it's a real possibility. And I think that, I mean, this is always the fear, right? That there are all these soft targets, whether it be malls or stadiums or parks.


BLOW: Subways, mass transportation. But in a way, vulnerability is kind of baked in the cake of freedom, that there are some targets that will always be soft. And you actually wouldn't want to live in a society that eliminated all the threats, because it wouldn't be a livable society.

So you do operate in the post-9/11 world in particular in an environment with a heightened sense that something could happen, but I am willing to accept that level of risk.


RICH GALEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: ... that this makes us feel differently about all the NSA talk? I mean, the reason that it's difficult to happen here, not impossible, obviously, is because the NSA does sweep up all this stuff and they will put...


GERAGOS: With the NSA stuff, at least if you have got somebody who was living with a guy who committed suicide and he admittedly committed the act, I think that's probable cause. I think sweeping up everybody, you tend to get into that kind of Singapore-like society, which I don't think most people want here.


GERAGOS: We will get spanked.

COOPER: I want to bring in our national security analyst Peter Bergen.

Peter, we did hear from government officials today talking about obvious they're taking this kind of attack seriously, though they don't think that Shabab has the kind of operational capabilities here in the United States. Do you back that up? Do you think it unlikely that, A., that Shabab would have an attack here in the United States or that some other group, even homegrown or self-radicalized would be able to attack a soft target like this here in the United States?

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think it's unlikely on the Al-Shabab front. Most of these Americans who get recruited to go to Somalia, it's a one-way ticket. Often they die there. They're the subject of a lot of law enforcement attention.

That said, there are a lot of soft targets. We do see attacks on soft targets. If you do the thought experiment where a lot of them were conducted by people shouting Allahu akbar instead of being motivated by some other political or hard to judge motivation we'd be having a different kind of conversation.

In fact, attacks by people motivated by al Qaeda's ideology in the United States on soft targets are pretty infrequent. We saw in the Boston Marathon obviously bombing two people who did this. By the way, they weren't located by NSA surveillance. NSA surveillance I think the role it plays in averting terrorist attacks has been much exaggerated by the government if you really look at the record, which isn't to say that it isn't sometimes useful.

But Americans need to have a conversation about the bounds between security and liberty. If we were facing an existential threat from these folks, maybe we would sacrifice a lot of our liberties. But in this case, the threat is really pretty minor.

GALEN: What it really does show us, though, is that the veneer of civilization is really very thin. Anything like this can just make every -- throw everything upside down.

BLOW: But it also gets to this idea that we're kind of arbitrarily drawing the line about terrorism, right? If we take terrorism as the grand -- more grand concept of instilling terror in the population and you look at just recent mass shootings, we want to just connect terrorists to people who have been radicalized or who have some sort of...


GERAGOS: Bombing is a terrorist. School shooting is not...


BLOW: Or someone goes into the Navy Yard, the Navy complex and kills 12 people and terrorizes everyone there and all of D.C.


BLOW: Right. But I'm just saying, but that the idea that we just kind of arbitrarily say because of the motivation...


GERAGOS: Bombs aren't being sold by large gun manufacturers.


COOPER: But terrorism by definition has a political agenda or is designed to make an impact.

Peter, isn't that where you make the distinction between something that causes fear, that causes a sense of terror and something that is actually terrorism?

BERGEN: Yes. That's the distinction. It's obviously done with a political purpose.

But I think we're kind of agreeing in a sense here that there's a lot of random violence in the United States, which for one reason or another we kind of process in a different way merely because the people involved don't have some obvious political motivation.

I think that's unfortunate. The fact that Aaron Alexis killed 12 people in the Navy Yard for reasons that are pretty obscure is just as tragic as if somebody kills four people in Boston who's motivated by al Qaeda's ideology. In fact, doing the math, it's three times more tragic.

ALISON STEWART, AUTHOR/JOURNALIST: Peter, I wanted to ask you a question because I was reading -- I want to ask about the White Widow, because we have always been discussing it sounds like an Ian Fleming character.

But I wanted to know if you think that someone like that would be such a valuable asset. I know you have said because of her gender it's unlikely someone like that would be involved with Al-Shabab. But wouldn't she be an incredible asset, an English-speaking white woman?

BERGEN: Sure, she would be.

When we look at the cases in the United States of people who are motivated by this ideology, it's 98 percent guys. But there are some women. I will give you an example, Jihad Jane, who was kind of a high school dropout who grew up in Pennsylvania, had a couple of failed marriages under her belt. She was recruited. She had some kind of half-baked plan to kill a cartoonist who put down a portrait of the Prophet Mohammed that some people deemed objectionable, traveled to Europe.

And she pled guilty. And of course she was the perfect recruit because people wouldn't expect her. So you're absolutely right, Alison. But still it's rather the exception, not the rule.

BLOW: Wouldn't she be a bigger asset if she were in a society where she blended in? Being in Kenya is not actually blending in.


STEWART: But if you're a Somali, you're not a Kenyan. In terms of wanting to invest in Western assets, all the Western assets that are there, now she could move very easily. She could raise money.


COOPER: ... to the expat community. I have been in that mall. It's very catered to the expat community, to diplomats and others who live there, people who work for NGOs.

But, Peter, you don't believe necessarily that a group like Al- Shabab given their ideology and their traditional makeup would employ a woman like that. As we talked about before, though, on the 8:00 show there are groups that have used women. The Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka used a lot of female suicide bombers and even Chechen terrorists have used them over the years.

BERGEN: Yes, but the hard-core al Qaeda affiliates like Al- Shabab that really see themselves as part of al Qaeda, that is really exceptional, not at all common. They might recruit somebody to be a suicide attacker who's a female. We saw that in Iraq pretty often. But that -- to have somebody play a very active operational role, we haven't seen that except in the case as you point out in Chechnya.

COOPER: Is it clear yet, Peter, why or how the few Somali- Americans who have gone over to work for Al-Shabab and have actually blown themselves up, and I think there have been four suicide attacks they have involved with -- I know the first suicide attack an American ever did was with Al-Shabab in Somalia. Is it known how they were radicalized, how they were recruited? Has that all been traced?

BERGEN: I think it's a pretty clear pitch.

A lot of them come from Cedar Riverside neighborhood in Minneapolis, which is one of the poorest places in the country. There are dead-end jobs. Somebody comes along and says an Ethiopian army has invaded our army, it's a Christian army invading a Muslim nation. You go over there. It's going to be fun. You're going to be shooting weapons.

It appeals to the romantic side of people. It's a religious struggle and it's pitch that is basically full of lies, because when they get over there, it's a lot less exciting than it appeared. But that's the pitch.

COOPER: We're going to leave it there.

Peter Bergen, thank you, Nima in Nairobi as well. The panel is going to stick around.

Follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. And let us know what you think about this.

A new trial for a Florida woman whose stand your ground defense was rejected. She fired a warning shot to scare off her abusive husband. Didn't hit anyone. She got 20 years behind bars. I will talk about her case with the panel next.


COOPER: Thanks for tweeting here at "AC360 Later."

Tonight, there's new hope for a woman named Marissa Alexander. She's from Florida. She was sentenced to 20 years for firing a warning shot to scare away her abusive husband. No one was hurt. Still, it took a jury just 12 minutes to convict her. The case got attention during the Trayvon Martin case, people asking why George Zimmerman went free when Marissa Alexander got 20 years.

She claimed stand your ground. At the center of both cases, Florida prosecutor Angela Corey, who had this to say a few days after Zimmerman's acquittal.


ANGELA COREY, FLORIDA STATE ATTORNEY: I heard the other day that someone I think from the NAACP was trashing us for prosecuting Marissa Alexander. Marissa Alexander fired a shot through a wall. On the other side of the wall were two young black boys, younger than Trayvon Martin. They're not victims?


COOPER: Now Marissa Alexander is getting a new trial, not on the basis of her stand your ground defense, but because of what an appeals court deemed improper jury instructions.

Our panel is back and again in the fifth chair journalist Alison Stewart.

Good to have you.

Mark Geragos, does this make any sense to you?


GERAGOS: No, this makes no sense. Angela Corey, I said it before when we were doing that kind of Zimmerman block, is a menace. It shows you today -- she released a statement that said she was -- the case was reversed on a technicality, on a technicality.

A constitutional violation, she considers a technicality. This woman if she was pretty and white and had fired that gun would have gotten probation.

COOPER: Really, you believe that?

GERAGOS: I have defended a woman who will remain nameless within the last 12 months, same set of facts, who was pretty and white, and I got her probation. She didn't do any time.


GERAGOS: Mind you, the constitutional violation here was that the judge instructed the jury that they had to prove, the defendant had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, not the prosecution, the defendant had to prove that it was self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt.


COOPER: How would a judge give that instruction?

GERAGOS: Somebody was brain-dead, because that shifts the burden to the defendant. They considered a constitutional violation of the Fifth Amendment basically to be a technicality. That's why I say she's...


COOPER: What is interesting about the case is nobody is disputing that her husband had been abusive.

BLOW: Right.

COOPER: And, I mean, it was a warning shot. I wonder if she had actually shot him if...


BLOW: One thing stand your ground does is, it says don't leave them standing. Right? It says kill the person that you're trying -- so they will never against you. That is the case with Trayvon Martin. You will never hear that side of the story.

But because this person who -- the husband who said that he was a victim is able to switch his story, which is what he did, switch his story between the first interview and his testimony from saying that I had put my hands on was his use of the language all of my baby mamas, I think it is, five of them, all except one, and he would have probably put his hands on her if she did not have the gun, it really says that.

That's a really strange part of this law. The other part of this is the incredible irony of how the law was passed in first place. You have to go back to 2005. This law was passed, a big part of the argument was for abused women, that women who were not...


BLOW: Exactly.

They did not want you -- the NRA was pressing this very hard to say, what do you want the woman to do? She's in her home. She should not have to run out of her home. GERAGOS: Do you know that the prosecutor's argument here is that she had gone into the garage and then back into the house, because she kept, mind you, the gun in the garage, so the kids couldn't get at it. And entering back into the house was the reason that she's doing 20 years.

COOPER: I want to bring in Bruce Zimet, who is Marissa Alexander's attorney. He's joining us by remote.

You have heard the discussion here. What happens now? What is the legal situation now?

BRUCE ZIMET, ATTORNEY FOR MARISSA ALEXANDER: What happens is that within about 20 to 30 days, the appellate court will issue what's known as a mandate, which basically says the opinion is final and will bring the case back to Jacksonville.

We will get in front of the circuit court judge. He will set a trial date. We will have a bond hearing and be ready to give her a fair trial.

COOPER: But is she able to make the case that this was stand your ground?

ZIMET: She will be able to at trial to use the stand your ground defense. And we think it's a classic stand your ground case, just as you alluded to earlier.

GERAGOS: Right. And it's being reported that she won't be able to, but I think that's people misreading the opinion. It's people saying, OK, she's not going to get another immunity hearing, but she clearly can assert self-defense at a new trial.

STEWART: Mark, can I ask you a very basic legal question? When does the attorney know how the judge is going to charge the jury? Because I was actually on a jury on a similar -- not a similar case, but where the way the judge charged it, we couldn't get past the first charge to get to what the guy had actually done.


STEWART: When does the attorney find out?

GERAGOS: Normally, most judges will ask for -- in the federal system they ask for your packet of instructions before you ever start the case.

State is much looser. The state, you're in the middle of trial, maybe the day before you do closing sometimes I have had it where all of a sudden they give you the instructions and you're fumbling around. Here in this case, and Bruce I think will support me, the instructions completely shifted the burden of proof. And somebody's left there the night before the closing argument saying, wait a second here, now I got to prove beyond a reasonable doubt? All of a sudden, I have got to do what traditionally for 200 years what the prosecutors had to do.

STEWART: Right. So the attorney couldn't tailor his case in any way.

GERAGOS: No, absolutely not.


STEWART: You couldn't tailor the case in any way because the instructions came so late.

GERAGOS: Plus, the thing that just irks me about this and why I get so kind of apoplectic about it is this is where a prosecutor's supposed to use their discretion. This is where a prosecutor holds all the cards. The defense does not have -- everybody -- contrary to what they think, the defense is not unlimited.

The prosecution's got the unlimited budget. The prosecution can charge you to death practically in any case. They need to exercise their discretion and say those little boys are not the victims here of Marissa Alexander. The little boys are the victims of Angela Corey for this grossly overcharging, asking for -- she says, well, I offered three years state prison in this case.

Really? That's a good offer?

COOPER: Bruce, there was a plea bargain offer to your client and she declined that, correct? What was the thinking then?

ZIMET: Well, that's correct.

And just getting back to the brain-dead comment from earlier, I was not the trial attorney. And I was also not the plea attorney before the trial. My understanding is there was a plea offer. She rejected the plea offer and exercised her right to trial.

GERAGOS: But the plea offer was three years prison, right?

ZIMET: Yes. Well, yes. And, again, is that really an offer?


GERAGOS: No, it's a non-offer.

STEWART: And she has a newborn.

GERAGOS: Three years? Give me a break.

BLOW: That's I think the bigger thing is you shouldn't. If there's any case for stand your ground, it is the abused wife. It is someone in your home. You cannot run away from this person because they live in your home.

And you are trying to defend yourself from someone who is in your home. But when you look at all the stand your ground cases, which one of the Florida papers did, it's like 235 of them.

GERAGOS: Do you see a pattern?

BLOW: There are only 33 where domestic violence was involved.

GALEN: I thought stand your ground is an affirmative defense, that you did have to...

GERAGOS: Yes, it's a form of self-defense. And, by the way, Bruce, I wasn't saying you were brain-dead. It was the trial judge.

So, please, accept my apologies if you took it that way.


GALEN: ... parking ticket...


GERAGOS: I'm not going to Florida, trust me, anytime soon. But this case is -- it's a microcosm of what happens in America when the prosecutor -- we have shifted so much power to prosecutors. We have let prosecutors both in the federal and state system, they control the deck.

BLOW: And they have immunity.


GERAGOS: You can't sue them, except in slight kind of slivers of 1983 civil rights actions.

But other than that, being a prosecutor means never having to say you're sorry. You just get to do whatever it is you want to do.

STEWART: In your gut, if Trayvon Martin's case hadn't happened, would we know at all about this woman?

BLOW: I think this is an extraordinary case aside from the Trayvon Martin...


GERAGOS: I don't think it's that extraordinary. I think it happens more often than not. The prosecutors charge people who don't have the ability to defend themselves, and they charge them so over- grossly charged that you have to make a decision. Am I going to go to state prison for three years or am I going to roll the dice and face 20?

COOPER: Bruce, part of this long sentence is because of mandatory minimums. Just showing a gun, let alone firing one, in Florida, it automatically invokes a certain number of years.

ZIMET: It does.

And the aspect that Mark is talking about, having formerly been a federal prosecutor, you just can't imagine the amount of power that you have and the exercise of that discretion is so important in how you proceed with these cases. At the end of the day... (CROSSTALK)

ZIMET: I spoke with her about 2:00 this afternoon. She's ecstatic. She can't wait to get back with her family and to be vindicated.

COOPER: Bruce, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you very much. We will continue to follow this case.

Up next, racial segregation in sororities at the University of Alabama. I can't even believe we're talking about this, but it's true. The student-run newspaper quoted a member of an all-white sorority who said alumni would not let African-American women join. It looks like things may be changing, at least a little bit. Back with our panel next.


COOPER: Hey. Welcome back to "AC360 Later."

In a moment, we are going to talk about racial segregation at the University in Alabama in sororities, which is kind of a stunning story that's been making headlines.

Before we go any further, I do just want to walk us down memory lane with Alison Stewart. Alison and I began many, many years ago. We worked together at "World News Now" at ABC.

STEWART: Middle of the night.

COOPER: Let's take a look at a clip, shall we?

STEWART: Oh, my.


COOPER: I boxed with the Navy during -- back in '57.

STEWART: That's right.


STEWART: The in utero boxing.

COOPER: That's right. That was after prison golden gloves.


STEWART: You're pre-featherweight. You're like -- What's less than featherweight? You're teeny.

COOPER: I'm teeny? How long have you been here? Can I just show you something? Can I just show you something? Can we get a tight shot of this? What does this say? Anderson Cooper, senior anchor.


COOPER: That was "World News Now."

STEWART: Yes, that was before you went to the gun show, my friend. That's before you started working out.


COOPER: And that was Willis in the background, our cameraman, laughing.

STEWART: The best cameraman ever.

COOPER: Yes. He laughs like a 12-year-old girl, like I do.


STEWART: He's also about 320. He's a big man.

COOPER: A big guy.


STEWART: Large black man.


COOPER: But this was a show. And it's still on at ABC. But basically our viewers were night shift workers, drunks and nursing mothers. That was basically...


STEWART: Yes. I could get served in any bar in Manhattan after that.


STEWART: Every bartender...


COOPER: In addition to being co-anchors on that, Alison has written a book called "First Class: The Legacy of Dunbar, America's First Black Public High School."

Congratulations on this. It's just come out.

STEWART: Thank you so much. Yes.

COOPER: Why this story? What about -- tell us about the story.

STEWART: Well, my parents went to Dunbar High School. And they used to tell me about it all the time about all these great teachers they had who had Ph.D.s and master's and all the great graduates that came out of Dunbar. COOPER: Where was Dunbar High?

STEWART: It was in Washington, D.C.

BLOW: It still is.

STEWART: It still is. It was a segregated school. Obviously, do the math. My parents were there in the '40s.

And they would tell me about, oh, did you know out of Dunbar came the first black general in the Army, first black graduate of the Naval Academy, first black presidential Cabinet member, first black federal judge?

I was working for a news organization. I said I have got to go see this place. I went in and it looked like a sad set from an urban abandoned high school. The legacy had just been lost. So I decided it was important to go around and interview all these people in their 80s and 90s who could tell me what Dunbar was like when Dunbar was Dunbar, right, in segregated Washington, D.C.

These people could speak French and Latin, but couldn't go into restaurants, but couldn't live in certain parts of D.C.

COOPER: That's amazing.


STEWART: And I thought it was a really interesting story.

GALEN: What's the name of the book again?

STEWART: "First Class."

GALEN: Just trying to help.

COOPER: There you go. Thank you very, very much.

All right, the University of Alabama says that four African- American women have accepted bids to historically white sororities, something the university's president is calling a first step toward removing barriers in the Greek system on campus.

The school has been facing criticism ever since the student newspaper ran an article that said several sororities denied membership to black students solely based on race.

It's obviously an extraordinary story.

I want to bring in Nathan James. He's a junior at the University of Alabama who's been writing columns about this subject for the student-run newspaper, "The Crimson White."

James, thanks very much for being with us.

(CROSSTALK) COOPER: It is called "The Crimson White, yes.

So how long has this been going on? I mean, OK, so now they...


COOPER: Yes. I mean, how long is this -- is this the first year African-Americans have actually been invited to join some sororities?

NATHAN JAMES, JUNIOR, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA: There has actually been one in previous years at least that I'm aware of. Carla Ferguson in 2003 was admitted to a traditionally white sorority. And at that point in time we all thought that was the end of segregation here on campus, and obviously it wasn't. The last that I'm aware of and to the best of my knowledge actually the only African-American who's been accepted into a traditionally white fraternity or sorority.

COOPER: And how have these sororities defended this practice? I mean, how have they justified this?

JAMES: Really, the defense that's been used, I think, in every case pretty much has been that it's a private organization. And that, therefore, it has the right to make its own -- the right to make its own admissions decisions.

GERAGOS: Do you have a Greek row on campus?

JAMES: We do.

GERAGOS: And so they're housed on campus?

JAMES: They are housed on campus.

GERAGOS: At a state school>

JAMES: At a state school. I know. That's my argument.

GERAGOS: Don't they have any lawyers down there?

JAMES: Many times to many people.

COOPER: And also Greek life is a -- I mean, it's an important part of campus life, correct?

JAMES: Tremendously so.

Cooper: Right. So not being a part of it is -- I mean, is a significant thing. It's not like a school where it's not a big deal. I mean, it blows my mind that this -- that this is going on.

GERAGOS: It blows my mind nobody has done anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are there -- are there all-black sororities?

BLOW: Traditionally black fraternities and sororities, as well. But I read somewhere that they were integrated in the '80s on that campus. Is that right?

JAMES: Well, there are traditionally black fraternities and sororities. And there are also multicultural fraternities and sororities, and those tend to be pretty well-integrated. You know, they're not -- actually, I shouldn't really say that, because I'm not specifically aware of any demographics statistics.

But those tend to be more inclusive. Those do have members from multiple race or racial and ethnic backgrounds. And it really has been the case that it's a sort of dichotomy where you have the white fraternities and sororities and everything else.

COOPER: How did this become a story this year? I mean, if this has been going on so long and nobody's really seemed to be concerned about it, how did it blow up this year?

JAMES: Pretty much every year "The Crimson White," which is our student newspaper, again, will break a story.

COOPER: Your newspaper is called "The Crimson White." I'd like to acknowledge that for a moment. I mean, I know it's got a long tradition and a rich history. Just yes.

JAMES: Obviously, tradition carries a lot of weight here.

COOPER: It does. So people have talked about it but not until this year did it really blow up?

JAMES: Well, yes, basically. It's been talked about. It's been discussed. And it's really progressed past even the point of an open secret. It's just something that people know about.

And this year specifically, "The Crimson White" broke a story, and it was about two African-American girls, who by every objective measure were fantastic candidates for the sorority system. One of them in particular I remember reading about her, she had a 4.3 high school GPA. Her family was connected in local politics and, I think, state politics, as well. She volunteered, and she was beautiful and all these other things and was rejected from every white sorority on campus.

GALEN: Was the person that wrote that piece...?

JAMES: That was the discussion. That was what started discussion.

GALEN: Was the person who wrote that piece, did they feel like they were being physically or physically uncomfortable for having exposed this?

JAMES: It was a -- it wasn't really -- excuse me. It was very objective. It was very factual and really didn't get into any kind of feelings on the part of the person who wrote it. I'm not actually sure who wrote that. But it was very much kind of in that journalistic style where it just objectively reported the facts.

COOPER: Does it stun you?


STEWART: That's one of the things I love about you is it stuns you.

COOPER: It does. It really...


STEWART: I told you my parents went to a segregated school, so I'm not a fossil (ph).

COOPER: My dad is from Mississippi. And I like to think -- I mean, I go down there and I like to think...

BLOW: There's so many pockets. Every time, you know, there's a segregated prom somewhere and it becomes a national story and people go, like, "I can't believe this is still happening." And I think that there are pockets in the south, and where -- you know, kind of historical legacy systems that keep this sort of thing going.

I mean, my -- my family's buried in a segregated cemetery to this day. There's a chain-link fence that runs down the middle of the cemetery to this day. If you walk there today, there it is. And that is real in parts of the south. And I think that we are slowly working through that.

GALEN: I'm old enough so that when I was a freshman in college -- this would have been 1964 -- there was still fraternities and sororities that were -- that were sanctioned on campus that had white Christian clauses. And as a freshman Jewish kid, I couldn't get into them.

Now, one of them did offer me a bid. They said they were willing to go back to, you know, through it in their national space. But the truth is, I wasn't strong enough. I wasn't as strong as that girl or that woman he was talking about or these women that have accepted bids now. I didn't feel that comfortable in being the only Jew in the house.

COOPER: We've got to take a break. Nathan James, appreciate you joining us. Thank you very much, Nathan, "The Crimson White." I had to say it again. I'm sorry. I'm just amazed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In case you didn't get it.

COOPER: The state of California moves to bar paparazzi from harassing the children of celebrities. Can this law actually work, and is it fair? We'll talk about it ahead.


COOPER: Welcome back. California's governor, Jerry Brown, has signed a new law that's designed to protect the children of celebrities from aggressive paparazzi, photographers. Two high- profile actresses, Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner, testified in support of the law, complaining that prying photographers scare the daylights out of their kids. The law increases fines and jail time for paparazzi found to be guilty of harassing kids.

The question is can this law really be effective? We're back with our panel. Does this make any sense to you, Mark Geragos?

GERAGOS: Well, look, I've dealt with this problem. The year before last I had Nicole Richie and Joel Madden. We went and actually filed and got a restraining order against paparazzi who had shown up at the nursery school when she was going to pick up Sparrow. And they had scared the daylights out of the kid on the grounds of the nursery school by running up onto the steps of it, taking pictures and everything else.

The problem with this law is, I don't think it's going to pass constitutional muster. It's too vague, No. 1. Probably makes a status out of the special person who's protected, which is the celebrity.

It's great for photo ops because, you know, the senators and the assemblymen love to have Halle Berry come and testify in front of them, and the governor's -- you know, Jerry Brown's not going to veto that. But at the same time, you know, you can't just create a special law just for celebrities.

COOPER: How do you define even what a celebrity is?

GERAGOS: Right. A-list or D-list. And then it's a crime if somebody's not that popular anymore?

STEWART: I do have a friend who's a prosecutor. She's worried about her own child. She's glad her child has a different name in a public school because she's prosecuted some very high-profile people. And she's been very concerned about people approaching her child because of what her mother does and taking pictures. And someone actually tried.

COOPER: There's no doubt it's incredibly irritating for -- FOR these people to have their kids photographed, to have people screaming. Because I don't think a lot of people -- a lot of these photographers will try to get a -- will provoke the person in order to get a response.

GERAGOS: They provoke you so that they can get you making some kind of a goofy face so that, you know, that picture will then be a "got you" and they can sell it for more money.

BLOW: Then why was the law not written to be about staying away from schools and playgrounds and places where children would normally be where they would expect to be safe?

GERAGOS: Because that's not sexy.

BLOW: That's not sexy. STEWART: In New York, can I tell you an anecdotal story? There's a playground in Greenwich Village where all the celebrity kids go. Hugh Jackman takes his kid there all the time. The paparazzi stand across the street and take pictures. All the moms line their backs up in front of the paparazzi. It's like, you know.

COOPER: To protect them. I want to bring in Bonnie Fuller, who certainly knows all about this. She's president and editor in chief of She's the former editor in chief at "Us Weekly," "Glamour," "Cosmo" and "Marie Claire."

Bonnie, great to have you on the program. So what do you think of this? Is this -- A, is this a good law and, B, do you think the law can actually work?

BONNIE FULLER, PRESIDENT/EDITOR IN CHIEF, HOLLYWOODLIFE.COM: First of all, I have for say I'm a mother of four. So I'm very sympathetic to the issue and, of course, to having your children frightened in any way by paparazzi or anybody else.

On the other hand, I have to agree, the way the law is written, it's so unspecific, it doesn't have anything about keeping paparazzi, you know, certain distance away from the children. And I think that is probably the most essential thing that needs to be in here if it actually is to be effective.

The other thing is, again, it's written in such a general way. It could affect celebrities who are young themselves who are teen stars. Like what about Justin Bieber? I mean, he was a star when he was 14, 15 years old.

COOPER: He could do with a few less pictures.

FULLER: He's 18. He wanted pictures. But he also could say, "Hey, the paparazzi are scaring me."

And think about politicians, like people who become -- who have children and they become celebrities in the limelight for a short period of time.

GALEN: There's a general understanding I think -- first of all, politicians aren't chased by paparazzi.

GERAGOS: TMZ is not running around looking for the kids of politicians.

FULLER: No, no, no.

GALEN: There's a general understanding that the kids, unless the politician, him or herself brings the kids into the game.

COOPER: There's a real market for the pictures of celebrities' kids, right? I mean, no offense, I don't read your Web site or these kind of magazines. But obviously, there is a huge market for these images, correct? FULLER: Not as big as you would think. There is a market. But there's a market primarily for really cute, happy-looking pictures of celebrities with their children. I don't know of anybody who wants to run pictures of scared children. I mean, at Hollywood Life we run a lot of pictures...

COOPER: In order to get the picture of the happy kid you have to get up close. I mean, you're still -- you're still trailing these children. You're still training the celebrities.

FULLER: No, not always. First of all, a lot of celebrities really like to have their children on the red carpet with them. And also, a lot of celebrities pose with their children. I mean, think about the celebrities who have their own reality shows with their children, like Tori Spelling.

STEWART: It's very different for a playground or nursery school.


GERAGOS: We're talking about a nursery school. Where they're jumping onto the school property and they're running up to the door to get a picture of the kid coming out. To me that's just a no-brainer.

COOPER: It's also -- it's not on the red carpet, I think, we're talking about. It's, you know, in some of those magazines, they have those sections like, "Look, they're just like us." And it's the kid in the shopping mall or it's the kid with their parents.

GERAGOS: Anderson obviously does read...


COOPER: I did research on this.

FULLER: I know. But my point is that the pictures of celebrities and their children looking happy and smiling, and very often -- I mean, very often posing for the camera are much more popular than -- I mean, you see those much more.

COOPER: I know people in New York who have kids who paparazzi wait outside their house every day while they take their kid to school. And that is clearly not something the child wants or even the parent wants.

BLOW: And I think that something actually does need to be done, whether it be about distance or certain places. Because I think some of the saddest pictures you ever see is when the parents have the blanket draped over the kid's faces or over their entire bodies. And I always look at those pictures and think, what kind of life is that for the child to have to go through constantly be draped in a blanket?

FULLER: Can I point something out? Can I point something out? Most of those pictures where there's a blanket draped over, a lot of them are because the celebrity has sold the pictures of -- the first pictures of the child to a publication. And that's why they're covering the child up.

COOPER: Isn't a lot of that also to kind of de-mystify, to get the picture out of the child so that then you're not followed -- you know, you're not hounded for that first picture?

FULLER: That's some of the thinking. I also, though, want to just say another thing. And again, I don't think that any child or parent should -- should, you know, want to be in a position where they're worried.

But even in very high-profile cases or high-profile children, like Suri Cruise, there were a lot of pictures when they divorced, like, for about ten days when that divorce was going on and it was in the news all the time. But then I have to say, I didn't see a picture of Suri for months after that.

So it's not for -- in most cases like an everyday occurrence. It's once in a while that they will have a picture of -- that the child will turn up.

STEWART: I have a question for you. The people of Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner, they're declaring victory. Should they be?

GERAGOS: Yes. For right now they got a law passed. What's going to happen is...

STEWART: But you're protecting the wrong kind of people (ph).

GERAGOS: The first -- well, no, some city attorney, because it's a misdemeanor, some city attorney will file in L.A. And they will be a paparazzi there, and he'll challenge the law. And then my guess is or my prediction is somebody or some judge will declare it unconstitutional. So that's a ways down.

COOPER: It's also interesting. There is a lot of hypocrisy in this. Because, you know, it's like when Princess Diana died. And I remember covering it. And a lot of people coming out at the time to reporters, saying, "How dare you? You guys hounded her." Not that I ever hounded Princess Diana, but I guess I was representative or something. And it's people who are buying these publications. There's a market for this.

GERAGOS: Right. Remember there was a reason why people were paying for Kim Kardashian's -- you know, Nori West's picture and why they -- you know, the various publications want it. They're not paying for it, meaning the media's not paying for it, unless it gets ratings or people are selling -- are buying the magazines. They do it by clicks. They know who's popular, who's not.

I mean, my kids getting photographed are not going to sell anything, but Kim and Kanye or Jay-Z's will. So, you know, the same people who are condemning this are the same people who are buying the magazines or clicking onto the Web sites.

FULLER: Or turning -- or tuning into the reality shows that a lot of those celebrities have, in which they feature their own children.

And also, there's a lot of celebrities that are grooming their children to have great careers, too. I mean, look at Will and Jada Pinkett Smith. They had their daughter, Willow, in a quite an astounding -- but it was, you know, very artistic video, a music video, whipping her hair. And she's about 13 years old.

So I think it's just very difficult. Which celebrities don't want their children photographed? Which do want their children photographed? Which want their children to be stars? Which are -- which celebrities have reality shows? It's hard.

BLOW: But it should be the parents' choice, though. I still think, whether or not that we believe at this table that they're being exploitive in some instances and not in others. Or somebody is in the middle of a divorce they want to be seen with the kid to make someone think they're being good parents that week or not, that's up to them. That is a parental right.

It is my right, you know, as a parent to determinate what point I want to have my child in the public eye and not. And it is no one else's right to sweep in and say, "Today because you let the cat out of the bottle or whatever," cat out of the cage...

GERAGOS: Out of the bag.

BLOW: ... mixed metaphor, bag, whatever. Thank you, Mark. That now it's -- he or she is fair game and that I can just take pictures or I can run up to their preschool. That is not OK. This is not OK, Bonnie.

FULLER: But how is anybody supposed to know which day it is?

BLOW: I think you can always -- you should default to --

FULLER: The day you want to promote your child and yourself.

BLOW: I think it should be privacy of the child. That should be the default position of every publication that is interested in these particular pictures. And if the parent makes that child available, then you use the pictures. And that's the only -- that should be the default position, no other.

GALEN: I have to say I don't know a single person whose kid is named Grape Nuts Flakes or whatever. I don't know anybody like that.

COOPER: That's because you live in Washington. You've got to get out more.

Bonnie Fuller, good to have you on the program. Thank you very much.

Up next, the segment we call "What's Your Story?" where members of the panel get to talk about the story that caught their eye. Maybe you missed it today; maybe I did. We'll see what it is ahead.


COOPER: Hey, we are back with our panel. Time now for "What's Your Story?" This is when we ask each of our panelists to maybe choose a story that they find interesting or that others might have missed. Rich, what's your story?

GALEN: I think that the Voyager spacecraft that was launched back in the early '90s finally made it out of the solar system and into interstellar space. It took us tens of thousands of years to learn how to throw things, spears or whatever, and in just a few decades we learned how to throw something a billion miles away.

COOPER: I didn't know that. Alison, what's your story?

STEWART: I'm a little obsessed with the libertarian candidate for governor in Virginia. The two other candidates are so, I guess...


STEWART: Thank you. The libertarian candidate is getting 10 percent of the vote in one of the recent polls. He's an interesting guy. He's got 15 degrees -- a J.D., an engineering degree -- and he's married to a black lady doctor.

COOPER: And you're interested in Virginia.

STEWART: I'm interested in Virginia. I am in Virginia and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) vote. And I texted my sister, who lives in Richmond. And she said, "May work for New York city but not the capital of the Confederacy." Question mark, question mark. Because all they talk about is Bill de Blasio, our likely mayor, and his interracial family.

COOPER: Has it become part of the campaign? Or has it been talked about?

STEWART: You know, not really. You are from Virginia, right? And that I found very interesting, as well.

GALEN: Not even sure if he's invited to the debates.

COOPER: You've got a story. You've been following this rape case out of Montana.

GERAGOS: Yes. In Montana. Because I think, if I'm not mistaken, the defendant...

COOPER: Released today.

GERAGOS: ... was released today. And so now the question is...

COOPER: For those who aren't following, this is the man, a teacher, raped his 14-year-old student. She ended up committing suicide.

GERAGOS: Correct. COOPER: A judge sentenced him to 30 days in jail, saying that the girl, the victim in this, was much older than her chronological age.

GERAGOS: Correct.

BLOW: And with the craziest phrase -- craziest phrase I've ever heard.

GERAGOS: There's so many tributaries on this. Because then the judge tried to come out and, after he was pilloried in the media -- tried to come out and resentence. Both sides, the prosecution and the defense, went to the state Supreme Court, got him restrained that he couldn't redo the hearing. He did it anyway. Kind of like in some theater, just sitting there in a courtroom with a camera, no participants and tried to say what he had done. And really blamed both sides.

COOPER: A reporter tried to basically get a quote from the teacher who was released today. He basically just brushed by her. He's obviously not saying anything. He could face...

GERAGOS: He could face more jail time. And it's a fascinating legal issue. He's been sentenced. He did his time. Now -- and apparently, if you look at the law, he should have gotten a minimum of two years. So now is the Supreme Court going to say, "You have to go back? Go back to jail? You've got to do the remaining 23 months?" Or are they going to say, "No, sorry, you waived it."

COOPER: We'll follow it. It's unbelievable.

I want to thank everybody on the panel tonight. Alison, great to have you here.

Richard, as well.

Charles, Mark, as well.

That's it for AC 360 LATER. Thanks for watching. Don't miss AC 360 at 8 p.m. weeknights. In fact, it's going to start right after this show. We'll have a repeat right after this. Be right back.