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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Interview With Rep. Henry Waxman; Kennedy Cousin Murder Conviction Overturned; Democrats Turn On Obamacare; "They Expected The Website Would Work"; White House Staffer Fired For Insulting Tweets; "I Cannot Even Stand to Look at You"
Aired October 23, 2013 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): "OUTFRONT" next, breaking news: The murder conviction of Michael Skakel thrown out. The Kennedy cousin sent to prison for killing his 15-year-old neighbor with a golf club.
And a White House mole unearthed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's more worrisome to me that the president continues to say that he's unaware of everything that's going on around him.
BURNETT: Plus, did a 14-year-old boy beat his math teacher to death?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's insane. I'm completely shocked. I don't think Philip (ph) would be the type of person to do this.
BURNETT: Let's go OUTFRONT.
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BURNETT: And good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. We begin OUTFRONT tonight with breaking news, a Kennedy family cousin free. His murder conviction overturned. Michael Skakel, a nephew of Robert and Ethel Kennedy, was convicted in 2002 for the 1975 murder of his teenage neighbor, Martha Moxley. Skakel was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison, but now a judge has overturned it.
Skakel's attorney failed to represent him adequately in court was the reason given. He is going to get a new trial. OUTFRONT tonight, Paul Callan, former New York City prosecutor and criminal defense attorney and CNN legal analyst.
All right, Paul, thank you. Overturning a conviction from 2002 for a crime that was -- my math right, 38 years old. How often does this happen?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's shocking and I can't say it is absolutely unprecedented. Sometimes in death penalty cases you see a result like this, but it is really very, very rare, almost unheard of. BURNETT: All right, which leads me to, of course, the answer of the question a lot of people have, which is a lot of people think this is special treatment for the Kennedys, right. You know, you are looking at this case. Two classmates, two of Skakel's former classmates when this trial first happened testified that he confessed to them I'm going to get away with murder, I'm a Kennedy.
And you look at the Kennedy history, Patrick Kennedy, the congressman, 2006, crashed into barrier on Capitol Hill. Nothing happened. Not prosecuted for driving drunk. Ted Kennedy never stood trial, of course, for the death of Mary Jo Chappaquiddick. William Kennedy Smith acquitted on rape charges to which Ted Kennedy was a witness, special treatment?
CALLAN: You know, I know the public thinks that this is the case and I would say, with respect to Mary Jo and that death, well, yes, I think the Kennedys got special treatment there, but it was a different time. That was back in a different age. The other cases you are talking about, for instance, the William Kennedy Smith case, which was the rape case in Florida.
One of the first big cases to be televised by the way, and I covered it, the evidence in that case was very, very weak. I wasn't surprised by the acquittal. But let's turn to this shocking case. Are they getting special treatment here?
BURNETT: Special treatment or not for Michael Skakel?
CALLAN: I don't think so because the case against Skakel was always very, very weak. Remember, he wasn't tried until 27 years after the murder. He was 15 at the time the murder took place in 1975 he was convicted in 2002. So you can imagine after so many years had passed in the end the evidence was very shaky and it consisted of people in drug rehab program, alcohol rehab program, saying that he had said certain things that linked him to the murder and the program.
They later -- at least some of those witnesses recanted that testimony. And the court here said that his attorney, which I guess the public would say was bought with Kennedy money, very famous Connecticut attorney named Mickey Sherman was incompetent. That he, in fact did not properly investigate the case. That he had financial problems of his own that impeded his ability to be a good defense counsel. So the court has reversed saying he was denied adequate counsel.
BURNETT: Interesting. Not getting special treatment for Michael Skakel. Thanks very much to Paul Callan.
Our other top story tonight, is the president's own party turning on him? Democrats want to delay the penalties, extend the signup period for Obamacare. On the list, Senators Joe Manchin, Jeanne Shaheen, Mark Pryor and Mark Begich, yes, they are all Democrats.
And we are just hearing tonight the reason behind the web site meltdown. According to a key contractor, a last-minute decision that required people to create an account online before they were allowed to browse the insurance plans caused the fiasco. That's according to a contractor, the administration, still mum. Casey Wian is OUTFRONT.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What a difference a day makes. Under mounting pressure in Washington, White House spokesman, Jay Carney said the administration will begin providing daily briefings on Obamacare.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Regular briefings, Secretary Sebelius' instigation that would try to answer your questions and provide as much information as possible.
WIAN: So far answers about the Obamacare rollout have been hard to come by.
CARNEY: Again, I would refer to HHS about what information they have and what they are able to provide.
WIAN: It is not unusual for the White House spokesman to walkway from reporters as he did Tuesday.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trying to help the situation --
WIAN: When he was still being questioned about Obamacare, but it is an example of the tension in Washington over scarce information.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How much is this costing taxpayers' money? As a long time Washington reporter before you took this job, obviously that would likely be something that you felt was a right to know. Will we get that information?
CARNEY: I would address your question to HHS. I don't have that information. I don't -- you know, this is an operation being run by HHS.
WIAN: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was quick to recite some numbers in an exclusive interview with CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: We've had a million one hundred thousand calls. We've had 19 million people visit the web site, 500,000 accounts created and people are shopping every day. So people are signing up.
WIAN: But creating an account is not the same as signing up.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: How many people have signed up?
SEBELIUS: We will be doing what we have done with every other program and Medicare Part D. We have done it with -- we will give monthly enrolment figures. We said that since the beginning.
WIAN: Republicans are seizing on the secrecy.
REP. ERIC CANTOR (R), VIRGINIA: We still don't know these enrolment numbers. HHS is blocking third party verified traffic data. This is not transparency and adding to the confusion and fear surrounding the rollout of Obamacare.
WIAN: Now the White House spokesman said the daily briefings will help people understand what is going on with efforts to fix the problems associated with Obamacare. But we still don't know when they will release the information of how many people have actually signed up -- Erin.
BURNETT: That is the key question. Casey, thank you.
OUTFRONT tonight, Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman. Thank you for taking the time, sir. Kathleen Sebelius, as you know, did an interview with Sanjay Gupta and asked her when the president first found out about these problems with the Obamacare web site. I just wanted to play for you that exchange because I think the way it went down is important for the question.
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GUPTA: Do you know when he first knew that there was a problem?
SEBELIUS: Well, I think it became clear fairly early on. The first couple of days that --
GUPTA: So not before that, though, not before October 1?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Keep a mind the website crashed, a few hundred people tried to access it during one of the tests. And around the same time as that crashed, the president went out to American people and said, I'm quoting him, tell your friends, classmates, family members to sign up. Wasn't it Kathleen Sebelius' job to make sure the president knew the scale of the problem so he wouldn't go out and say something like that and look, at the least, clueless?
REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: I think that expected -- the -- web site would work. And they didn't realize that once they opened it up on October 1 the demand would be so great that it was not able to accommodate it. We have a glitch. It needs to be fixed. No question about it.
But the law is basically a good law and people will be able to get affordable health insurance. Notwithstanding the fact they had pre- existing medical conditions or in the past couldn't afford it. Insurance companies won't be able -- will be able to put limits on it and take your policy once you get sick.
These reforms are -- are already in effect and -- what we need to do is to give people the chance to buy the insurance that the -- promise that will be available to them. BURNETT: Final question to you, Congressman, according to Kaiser, which obviously as you know is a nonpartisan evaluator of health care, they are saying health plans are sending hundreds of thousands, hundreds of thousands of cancellation letters to people who have bought their own coverage. The main reason apparently is that those policies don't meet the requirements of the affordable care act.
So I guess, for example, that could mean if you have a plan, it doesn't provide maternity care. But a lot of people like their plans and didn't want maternity care. Is what Americans have heard from the president over the past four years true? Here is what the president has been saying.
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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan. Our approach would free serve the right of Americans who have insurance to keep their doctor in their plan. If you are one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance you will keep your health insurance.
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BURNETT: Were the American people misled, Congressman?
WAXMAN: Well, the American people were told they would be able to keep their insurance. Most people are insured through their jobs. Those insurance policies will continue. In the individual market, when people go to shop, they will be shopping together and the -- the -- with the opportunity to choose between different plans.
And if people have a private individual policy, they are often charged a lower price because they are healthy because those who have pre-existing conditions were excluded. Let's get everybody in the same pool. They should have provided for a transition. Some of this is hitting people quite abruptly.
BURNETT: Hundreds of thousands of people are being told they are going to lose the plans and a lot of them are saying they like those plans. It is nice the president has this list of ten things every plan has do, but if you are not like me and pregnant you may not want or need to pay for maternity plans. You may be pretty mad right now.
WAXMAN: I don't think that the issue is those plans don't cover what will be required under the affordable care act. I think that the fact is that a lot of people buy individual insurance and they should be buying it with everybody else who needs to buy individual insurance. Some of those who have it now are -- healthy. They should have been allowed to keep their insurance and at least million it expired and then buy the plans through the exchange. I think that's the mix-up they -- transition issue and I know it is -- difficult for a lot of people.
BURNETT: All right.
WAXMAN: I'm sorry about that.
BURNETT: Thank you very much, Congressman. It has been a pleasure and I appreciate your taking the time today.
WAXMAN: Good luck to you.
BURNETT: Still to come, a beloved teacher beaten to death and the student they think did it.
Plus a White House mole caught. How a government official was able to anonymously criticize the administration, often humorously, on Twitter for two years without the NSA having any clue who it was.
"Anchorman 2" set to open during the holiday season. There is something that you need to know tonight about Ron Burgundy.
BURNETT: Our second story, OUTFRONT, men in charge of Americans nukes literally asleep on the job. This is more than embarrassing for the Air Force. It could have been incredibly dangerous for the security of the United States. Two officers entrusted with the launch keys to America's long-range nuclear missiles have been caught twice leaving a security door open while sleeping.
The door is designed to keep intruders out and it has to remain closed to protect one of America's top secrets which is the secret launch codes for nuclear warheads. Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is OUTFRONT. When you -- you lay it out this way, it is unbelievable. What do you know about these incidents?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, good evening, Erin. You know, they are allowed to sleep. They stand a 24-hour shift, two- man crew. So, one allowed to sleep at a time. But if one is sleeping, which is approved, the door has to be shut. And this time, in two cases, it was not. Let's go to a map and show you where all of this has happened.
One was at Minot, North Dakota. And the other one in Malmstrom Air Base in Montana.
Now, the deal is this. The crews have been disciplined for this. What they did in both cases is these underground launch centers, as deep as 100 feet underground, two-man crew, one was asleep, but they left the door open. That's sloppiness. The question is was it dangerous? The Air Force says there's plenty of security measures, that there are security fences up top, on the ground, sensors, armed guards, and of course, lots of security tied to nuclear launch codes that a terrorist or intruder could not possibly have gotten in.
But that, of course, may not really be the issue. The issue is this comes after several embarrassing incidents. Top general fired a couple of weeks ago in the nuclear community for being -- consuming alcohol, being drunk. Other times, we have had these units fail their inspections in recent months. The question is -- how sloppy is it, and what else is going on out there that the Air Force may not now even know about? Erin.
BURNETT: It certainly does raise all those questions. Barbara Starr, thank you.
And our third story OUTFRONT, a beloved Massachusetts teacher brutally murdered. Twenty-four year old Colleen Ritzer was found beaten to death in the woods behind Danvers High School this morning. Danvers is a suburb of Boston.
She was reported missing yesterday afternoon, and according to police, she was found after investigators discovered blood in the second floor bathroom at the school. She was a math teacher. Fourteen-year-old freshman Philip Chism, student at Danvers High School, has been charged with her murder. Don Lemon is OUTFRONT in Danvers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Philip Chism (ph) by way of arrest.
DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the face of an accused killer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your Honor, he defendant before the court is 14.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In fact that he's arraigned --
LEMON: Investigators in Massachusetts allege 14-year-old Philip Chism killed popular 24-year-old math teacher, Colleen Ritzer, at Danvers High School where she taught and where he was a student.
KYLE CAHILL, DANVERS HIGH SCHOOL: He's quiet, just kept to himself, plus, he's was new to this society, but I mean, he's a good kid. He didn't seem anything bad, like nothing out of the ordinary, just a quiet, normal kid.
LEMON: Students and family members say Ritzer loved being a teacher. At times, sending out homework assignments over Twitter, Facebook, and her blog.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wonderful lady. Couldn't say enough about her. She was always the teacher to go the extra mile for students.
LEMON: So, why would anyone, let alone a student, want to kill her, allegedly dumping her body in the woods behind her own school?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that their sense of security starts to become shattered, you know, and they all just said this is Danvers. This is Danvers. It doesn't happen here.
LEMON: The discovery of Colleen Ritzer's body was a surprise sending to what started Tuesday night as a hunt for Chism, a high school soccer player who'd gone missing. Meanwhile, Ritzer's family had called police that night to say she was missing, too.
JONATHAN BLODGETT, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: As a result of that report, Danvers police initiated a search for the teacher and discovered blood in the second-floor bathroom at Danvers High School.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By such assault and beating did kill and murder such person.
LEMON: The teen was found in a nearby town on Tuesday. According to court documents, investigators learned from an interview with Chism and video surveillance at the school that he had assaulted and then murdered Ritzer. In an adult criminal court, the teen's attorney argued he should be treated as a juvenile.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In this case, the defendant wishes to have services to evaluate him. I think the case speaks for itself.
LEMON: That decision was not made today. He will be held without bail at a county jail facing a murder charge as a community struggles to answer the question why.
LEMON: And as students and members of the community begin to gather here for a vigil tonight, we are learning that he was indeed -- was indeed a student of the teacher here. We are also hearing that the D.A. seeking to try him as an adult. This is specific language from the D.A.'s office, Erin. He said, "The Essex District Attorney's office intends to seek a grand jury indictment for the murder which could only be tried in superior court. Therefore, the defendant will be treated as an adult in court." Erin?
BURNETT: Significant headline there. Thanks so much, Don.
Still to come a prominent Democrat accuses as Republican of disrespecting the office of the president, insulting the president directly to his face. We will tell you what was said. And ask this. Why is the White House saying it didn't happen?
Plus, broken borders. How Canadian sex offender slipped across the border and allegedly assaulted an American child.
And his online confession to killing man shocked the world. Did it help him when it came to sentencing?
BURNETT: Our fourth story OUTFRONT, a violent sex offender slips across the border. Tonight, in Seattle, people are demanding answers after a repeated sex offender from Canada was allowed to enter the United States despite a warrant for his arrest. And then, according to authorities, sexually assaulted a boy. The 48-year-old, who is an American citizen, had his first court appearance today. Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Michael Sean Stanley was not supposed to be in the United States. But this week, the convicted, violent and repeat sex offender was arrested in Seattle, accused of assaulting a teenage boy in an alley.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just sounded like someone was in pain screaming.
LAH: Police say the teen brandished and managed to run way before calling 911.
Back up to a few weeks ago. Stanley was living in Alberta, Canada with police monitoring his every move after serving jail time for the kidnapping of two boys from a school yard in Canada. On October 1, Stanley cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet, prompting police to issue an alert saying Stanley posed a significant risk and specifically told U.S. border agents he may be headed their way.
According to "The Seattle Times," less than a week later, Stanley entered the U.S. through the Blaine border crossing. Custom officials say that they didn't stop him because he is a U.S. citizen. He showed proper I.D. and wasn't wanted in the U.S.
JAY AHERN, FORMER COMMISSIONER, CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION: When somebody comes into the country, and you know there is an outstanding warrant held by another country but they are unwilling to extradite that individual, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection does not have the authority to arrest that individual. And that becomes a real significant law enforcement challenge.
LAH: Stanley made his way to Seattle where police found him last week, made him register as a sex offender, but let him go after Canadian authorities chose not to extradite him. Essentially a free man, Stanley himself publicly proclaimed his innocence.
MICHAEL SEAN STANLEY, CONVICTED SEX OFFENDER: I'm not out there committing crime. I'm not raping people or killing people. I'm not doing anybody any wrong.
LAH: Until early Tuesday morning when police say that Stanley lured the 16-year-old, gave him alcohol before assaulting him.
AHERN: Going forward, we need to find ways to go ahead and tighten up some of the loopholes and see what we can do to make sure the country is safer on some of these issues. But until that happens, these things, unfortunately, will occur.
BURNETT: It's just unbelievable, Kyung. I guess he is stating a fact. But it is impossible to accept these things unfortunately will occur. But, you know, as I mentioned, Michael Sean Stanley had his first court appearance today. What happened?
LAH: He made his first appearance. It was an arraignment. And Erin, it wasn't connected to the assault charges of that 16-year-old boy. It was on the harassment charges for verbally threatening a neighbor in that alleyway where all of this allegedly occurred. He pled not guilty on that. And he argued, his attorney argued, for his release. The judge essentially saying no way, setting bail at $100,000. The prosecutor is actively pursuing charges on that alleged assault of the boy.
BURNETT: Lots of questions we need answers to. Thank you, Kyung.
And still to come, the White House mole unmasked. How a government official was able to anonymously criticize the administration from inside for two years without the NSA or anyone else finding him.
Plus, a mystery captivating the entire world. What we just learned about the Greek mystery girl tonight.
And a runner gets the surprise of his life. We will play the entire video for you. It is tonight's "Shout-Out."
BURNETT: Welcome back to second half of OUTFRONT.
Key testimony today in the trial of prominent Utah doctor, Martin MacNeill. He is accused of drugging and drowning his wife Michele. An emergency room doctor took the stand and said Michele's skin was bluish. He thought she was dead by the time she arrived at the hospital.
The doctor also testified that MacNeill, who was in the room while they treated his wife, said something very strange.
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DR. LEO SCOTT VANWAGONER, TREATED MICHELE MACNEILL: He made an odd request of me which I still find to be in 15 years of practice completely unusual and really off the wall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was that request?
VANWAGONER: He offered me $10,000 to continue my resuscitation and not quit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Two of MacNeill's daughters who had been leading the campaign to prosecute their father are expected to testify tomorrow.
Matthew Cordle who confessed in a viral video to killing a man while driving drunk. You may remember us playing that video for you, was sentenced to day. And despite his very public apology, which even the prosecutor said was sincere, the judge sentenced him to 6 1/2 years in prison. The maximum he could have gotten was 8 1/2.
Now, we want to give you context here. The penalty for killing someone while drunk is very different than killing someone otherwise. And maybe you think that's not fair. But here is the truth. It varies a lot. In the North Dakota, you can face life in prison. In other states, the penalty could be just a few months.
CNN analyst Danny Cevallos the judge gave Cordle a safe sentence that will likely not be overturned. Well, is it possible that a girl known as Maria may not have been abducted? A Roma couple in Greece, that's a gypsy couple, has been charged with the kidnapping of the child. They say they adopted Maria from her biological mother.
Our Karl Penhaul is reporting from where Maria was found and locals tell him she is the daughter of a Bulgarian woman who couldn't take care of her and handed her over of her own free will.
When what you experience is eating, sleeping, adoration, getting your first vaccination could make for a tough day. The newest giant panda cub at the Smithsonian National Zoo just went through that today. Veterinarians report she is in good health, expanding her waistline to 16.5 inches. She has gained a pound in just five days and weighs nearly 7 pounds. Tiny considering when she grows up she will be about 220.
The thing is, people, pictures can deceive. Like all pandas, she will grow up to be tough and not quite as nice as she looks.
Our fifth story OUTFRONT, a White House insider goes rogue. A White House staffer out of the job tonight, apologizing for slamming the administration through anonymous tweets. For more than two years, national security staffer Jofi Joseph led a double life, criticizing White House policies on Twitter and making comments about the social liaisons of various people in the Democratic Party.
Chris Lawrence is OUTFRONT with Joseph's snarky tweets and why the government that we are all pointing the finger at lately for all this spying couldn't figure this one out.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are just some of the people in Obama administration insider targeted via Twitter.
"Was Huma Abedin wearing beer goggles the night she met Anthony Weiner?"
"I'm a fan of Obama, but his continuing reliance and dependence upon a vacuous cipher like Valerie Jarrett concerns me."
The man posting those anonymous attacks was a senior staffer at the National Security Council. Jofi Joseph took part in high-level talks on Iran's nuclear program. He worked at the State Department and was just weeks away from getting a high-level post at the Pentagon when he was found out and fired.
BOB BAIR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: This is an enormous transgression and it is completely silly, you know, to anyone to believe that you can't trace a Twitter account.
LAWRENCE: Joseph vilified his bosses for two years. Tweeting, "Everyone knows that all Biden does is hyperbole."
And, "Good luck corralling Kerry -- a human loose cannon."
REP. MARIO DIAZ-BALART (R), FLORIDA: It is more concerning that the president says he is unaware of everything that's going on around him.
LAWRENCE: That sounds like a partisan jab until you realize the administration couldn't figure out who hired Joseph.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He was an employee of the State Department on temporary duty here.
REPORTER: Is that correct?
MARIE HARF, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: No. That's not --
LAWRENCE: The White House said he worked for State. State said, no, he's yours.
HARF: My colleague Jay who I talk to frequently, he at one point -- without getting into the specific personnel matters which I'm not going to do here, I don't think Jay did either, or should have done.
LAWRENCE: A proud insider, this summer Joseph tweeted, "Growing problem for the administration. Too many first-term holdovers not getting hint that it is time to move on and get the bleep out." Advice some of the White House may wish Joseph himself followed.
BURNETT: I mean, you laugh at some of these, Chris. But I mean, it's kind of incredible that this could happen and this guy was involved in really important things. And they didn't know what he was doing on the side. It does many make the White House look good.
How damaging is this?
LAWRENCE: Oh, man, it's pretty bad, especially when it is coming from your own team, Erin.
At one point he says, you know, President Obama can be a real jerk to a lot of the staff. In another one he says, look, Republican Representative Darrell Issa is a bleep, but he's on to something here with this Hillary Clinton complete whitewashing of Benghazi.
So, he's going after the integrity of the White House. He's going after them personally. You just can't do that to your own boss -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Chris Lawrence. Absolutely not.
Our sixth story OUTFRONT: disrespecting the office of the president of the United States and we're not talking right now about the tweet scandal.
Senator Dick Durbin says that a top House Republican leader told President Obama, I'm going to quote Senator Durbin, quote, "I cannot even stand to look at you", during recent negotiations over the government shutdown.
Now, the White House said this did not happen. Durbin, though, tells us he is standing by his comments.
OUTFRONT tonight, CNN contributors Cornell Belcher and Ben Ferguson.
This is just fascinating on a lot of levels.
Let me start with you, though, Cornell.
Dick Durbin, an ally of the White House, very respected. They are saying that this never happened. He is saying it did. Do you believe Dick Durbin?
CORNELL BELCHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, who cares? One way or the other, does it fit the narrative that we have seen the last couple of years of the president? From everything from shouting "you liar" at the State of the Union to Confederate flags in front of the White House. It certainly fits a narrative that makes sense. And -- sort of the -- broader problem Republicans have, disrespecting this president in a way many feel is unprecedented.
BURNETT: I mean, you know, Ben, let me ask you about this. Why -- and this is -- what I'm trying to understand. I'm going to talk about what Cornell just mentioned, some of the other incidents.
But why would the White House -- if someone said I cannot even stand to look at you, why would the White House say it didn't happen if it did? I'm trying to understand that.
BEN FERGUSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. I'm actually shockingly going to side with the White House on this one. I think they probably think that it didn't happen. I mean, I do think it is funny he thinks somehow this is only Republicans.
Can we just go back over the last 10 days? Republicans have been called suicide bombers by the Democrats, and the president has used the word anarchists, you have Harry Reid that said that they are worse than school children, and one said they are acting like a terrorist.
So, this is both sides that know how to talk trash. It's just -- the difference is actual Americans are affected and it is not like a football game where there's a winner and loser and everyone goes home afterwards. This is, unfortunately the new Washington and even the president has been involved in it over the last couple of weeks. It has gotten ugly.
BURNETT: And, Cornell, to Ben's point, he is talking about some examples. I mean, this does go both ways. I mean, back when President Bush was in the White House, Harry Reid called him a loser. Nancy Pelosi called him an incompetent leader.
There is something about the office of the president that would seem to make these things ink appropriate. Just as it would make "I cannot even stand to look at you" be inappropriate. This appears to be a broader issue of not respecting the office. BELCHER: Well, a couple of things. One is -- you know, with all due respect, I think the harshest criticism leveled at house Republicans over the last 10 days have come from -- Senate Republicans. So -- I'm not getting -- bog down in that.
The other point here is, look, this is, in fact, something different. If you look at -- yes, it is a tough office. You know. Have you people coming at you all day from all different angles. It is a tough office.
But if you look at the -- the visceral and nastiness and unprecedented sort of behavior by Congress, yes, I think that this is a little different than most Americans think it is different. Also, I mean, when has everyone ever screamed out -- regardless of whether you disagree with him, calling the president a liar on the floor. When has anyone -- when has Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid said, you know, we don't like the Iraq war, we are going to take our country over the fiscal cliff because of what the president is doing? That is kind of unprecedented.
BURNETT: Ben, let me -- go ahead, Ben.
FERGUSON: You know what's funny? What's funny is -- they all do this. The number one bumper sticker, if the '04 Democratic convention was taking the parody off W., the president, and turned it into F., the president. And they were selling it at the Democrat convention.
This is the ugly world of politics. It has been happening now for a long time. They all do this.
And I think you should respect the office of the president. Whether it be George Bush, selling a bumper sticker literally saying "F the president" or saying --
BURNETT: That would be totally inappropriate. I agree.
FERGUSON: Right. But they sold and it was their biggest seller. People put it on their cars at a convention. The Democratic Party was in charge of and no one really condemned it.
My point is we should respect Barack Obama and George Bush and Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter because it is the presidency of the United States of America.
And I think this is part of the reason why I think so many Americans right now are just sick and tired of Washington because they talk so much trash. Yet, they are affecting actual people's lives and that is a bad, bad thing for them to be doing right now.
BURNETT: Let me -- hold on a second, Cornell. I just want to play something you mentioned that you lied but also something else because I want to go into a dark corner here. So, let me play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REP. JOE WILSON (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: You lie! BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's not true.
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Barack Obama promised the most transparent administration ever. Barack Obama, you lie.
LARRY KLAYMAN, FREEDOM WATCH: I demand that this president leave town. To get up, to put the -- to put the Koran down.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
BURNETT: Several people questioned with racist implication whether the president was an American citizen. So let me ask you, in the case of this president, is some of this racial?
BURNETT: Well, look, it is -- we shouldn't come to as a surprise to anyone that's realistic about American history that the election of the first, you know, nonwhite male president of the United States is going to -- going to have some of the old ghosts of our country bubbling up and being -- you know, out in front.
But I've got to -- I sort of take some exception here. When -- when you -- there is one thing that you sort of -- tough language and for fund-raising and bumper stickers. It is another to see that carry over in policies when -- when the president is on -- the night before his inauguration, you have Republicans sitting around a steakhouse, you know, literally saying we are going to block everything that he does and in order to see -- in order to see him fail. Have Republicans say you know what, we are going to take this country over the fiscal cliff in order to see he fails.
That's a different sort of thing going on now and, of course, you know -- it is -- is it racial? Absolutely some of it is racial.
FERGUSON: Cornell --
BURNETT: Ben, final word.
FERGUSON: You had the White House press secretary when the negotiations were going on refer to the Republicans as suicide bombers, as having bombs strapped to their chest and -- I mean, if you want -- if you want to stop this, the president of the United States of America should show leadership and condemn his own White House press secretary when he calls the other party terrorists and that are trying to blow people up.
I mean, that's -- that is --
BELCHER: What would you call someone that will take the country over a fiscal cliff? To get their way. What would you call that if not extremist?
FERGUSON: I wouldn't call him a suicide bomber. And the fact that you are still implying it tells us what the real problem is here.
BURNETT: Well, you wouldn't liken him, Cornell, to it a 9/11 bomber, which is what terrorists would do.
BELCHER: Well, no, but I will certainly liken them to extremists. Erin, you know what --
BELCHER: You know what damage going over the fiscal cliff would do. These people are going to take the country to the fiscal cliff to get their way. They are extremists. It's different from putting on a bumper sticker and putting it in Congress and actually doing it.
BURNETT: All right. Well, we'll hit pause there. Please, everyone, let us know your thoughts as we continue this conversation.
Still to come, SeaWorld trainer killed by the animal she loved. Now, a controversial film places blame.
Plus, the most exclusive event of the day. What happened at the royal christening? Who was left out?
And our shout-out tonight: race interrupted. So, the man who shot the video you are going to watch here was running a race. In this race you have a lot of obstacles and challenges to overcome. One of those you have to be really tough to handle these.
This race, it took place in South Africa which had a whole different set of challenges, as you can see. Like a herd of wildebeests. Here they come. A herd of wildebeests coming right in your face.
Now, the runner was OK. Our shout-out goes to the wildebeest. Humans, get the hell out, this is our territory.
We'll be back.
BURNETT: We are back with tonight's "Outer Circle".
We start tonight in London where Prince George was christened at St. James Palace.
The ceremony was small. There were only 23 people there. I asked Max Foster who made the cut.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Erin, this was a small service and it was a private service. A camera was not allowed inside. There were 23 guests, close family, and friends. Seven godparents were there, which seems like a lot. But these people represent a different parts of Kate and William's life and it was clear that they really take their friendships personally and seriously. And that's why those people were there.
We were allowed a camera outside. We caught a glimpse of Prince George who is now 3 months old. His father's arms on the way in. His mother's arms on the way out.
There will be more pictures released tomorrow. A fashion photographer to the official pictures including an iconic image of the queen and her three heirs, all together. We haven't seen four generations in a shot for more than 100 years -- Erin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: That's an amazing stat. Thanks to Max.
And now, we go to Peru where dolphins are being killed to be used as shark bait. That's a horrible story. So, I asked Rafael Romo why fishermen are using dolphins. And we do want to warn you some people may find the pictures you are about to see disturbing.
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RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, it is a practice that animal protection groups call horrific and in a conservation car crash. It involves harpooning dolphins, hauling them on the ship and cutting them up to be used as shark bait. In many cases, this is done while the dolphin is still alive.
This is illegal in Peru and many parts of the world.
But the marine conservation NGO Mundo Azul estimates as many as 10,000 dolphins are being killed in Peru each year in this fashion. Shark bait is very expensive and by doing this, fishermen avoid having to pay for it. The story became public after conservation groups managed to get onboard a fishing vessel to shoot the graphic video -- Erin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Thank you, Rafael.
I'm going to check in with Sanjay Gupta now, in for Anderson Cooper, with a look at what's coming up on "AC360".
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Erin.
We've got breaking news ahead tonight, something you're only going to see on "360", reaction from Robert Kennedy Jr. on a stunning ruling today from a Connecticut judge, Kennedy's cousin Michael Skakel was convicted with the brutal murder of a 15-year-old Martha Moxley could be a free man as soon as tomorrow.
Also ahead, the raw politics of the blame game on Capitol Hill -- how the signature legislation of President Obama, the Affordable Care Act, has gone so wrong. You heard some explanation in my exclusive interview last night with Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Well, our panel is going to weigh in tonight, now that Democrats are also pointing fingers.
It's all part of the -- it's all at the top of the hour -- Erin. BURNETT: Thanks very much. We're looking forward to that interview with RFK, Jr. Thanks.
And our seventh story OUTFRONT: does captivity amount to torture? Tomorrow, the documentary "Blackfish" makes its television premiere and the film argues that keeping orcas on captivity is wrong. It makes them aggressive and deadly.
The film tells us the story of Tilikum, an orca that killed a handler in Florida. But that wasn't the first incident with this killer whale.
Martin Savidge is OUTFRONT.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Colin Baird grew up on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. As a teenager, he started working at a local marine park called Sealand of the Pacific.
COLIN BAIRD, FORMER KILLER WHALE TRAINER: I would go after school and weekends, you know, growing up and just thought that's how everybody grew up.
SAVIDGE (on camera): Sealand of Pacific used to be here, where this marina is. Now, there's nothing left of the old place. It was an oceanarium. That's an aquarium that was actually built in the ocean, and there were nets that separated the animals, the seals, the sea lions, and the stars, the killer whales.
(voice-over): Baird eventually became a trainer, working with the three killer whales. His favorite a small male named Tilikum.
BAIRD: He was very easy to work. He was very easy going. He learned quickly. He learned well.
SAVIDGE: Among the other trainers, 20-year-old marine biology student Kelsey Burn (ph). In February 20th, 1991, she had just finish add show with the killer whales when she slipped and fell into their enclosure. Baird arrived minutes later.
BAIRD: The three orcas were a little surprised that one of their trainers seemingly jumped into the pool, although fallen and they were sort of excited about that. It was something completely out of the norm.
SAVIDGE: Witnesses say the whales, including Tilikum, kept Burn from reaching the sides, repeatedly pulling her under the frigid water.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They couldn't get her and finally, she -- she didn't come up anymore.
SAVIDGE: Baird, a trained diver, volunteered to go and retrieve the body.
(on camera): The co-worker just suffered, drowned in someway related to the animals that are now in the tank you are about to go in with.
BAIRD: Yes. But this wasn't a malicious attack. I mean, it was an accident.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): The coroner's inquest listing Burn's death as drowning due to or by a consequence of the forced submission by orca, killer whales.
She was the first trainer ever killed.
ANNA HALL, MARINE ZOOLOGIST: Oh my goodness. It was awful. It was awful for everybody. People in general just couldn't believe what had happened right here in our own backyard.
SAVIDGE: Not long after Sealand shut down, Tilikum was sold to SeaWorld in Orlando, but residents would hear about Tilikum again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sheriff deputies have identified the 27-year-old man found dead in a killer whale's tank.
SAVIDGER: In 1999, a man's body was found draped naked on Tilikum's back one morning. How the man got there, SeaWorld couldn't say.
Then, in 2010, Tilikum pulled a trainer Dawn Brancheau into the water to her death.
When he first met Tilikum, Colin Baird had no problem with captivity and killer whales. Now, three decades and three deaths later, he definitely does.
(on camera): Do you blame him?
BAIRD: I don't blame him, no. This would never happen if he had been left in the North Atlantic.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Martin Savidge, CNN, Victoria, British Columbia.
BURNETT: The case against captivity, don't miss CNN Film's "Blackfish", airing this Thursday night at 9:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.
Still to come -- you stay classy, San Diego, all the way to the bank.
BURNETT: "Anchorman 2" is on the way. The latest trailer for the film is online now and it looks in the next installment, Ron Burgundy and the gang is going to leave local news for a fictional cable news network called GNN. Yes, there are a number of cameos, incuding Harrison Ford, Jim Carrey and Liam Neeson.
And even though it won't hit until December 20th, you would think it was this weekend, with all the promotion going on, because in addition to the trailer, you've probably seen, Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy, is in car commercials and he's been on Conan O'Brien. There's even a Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream flavor called Scotchy Scotch Scotch.
They clearly expect this to be a huge movie and you may say, why? Well, that brings me to tonight's number -- $90 million is the total worldwide box office for "The Anchorman", the original. That's not a monster hit so why all this buzz?
Because of what happened after the first film left theaters. "Anchorman" is an ultimate colt classic. Fans discovered the movie on DVD in a huge way. They didn't tracking DVD sales until two years after "Anchorman" went on sale. But according to the Web site, the numbers, even then, it was pulling in half a million bucks a week.
Now, almost 10 years later, it regularly appears on Amazon's top comedy DVD list. It deserves, too, by the way. Which is why for the next two months, it will all be about Ron Burgundy. Stay class, San Diego.
A.C. starts now.