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Julianne Hough Apologizes for Halloween "Black Face"; White House Under Fire From Allies Over NSA Taps; Lou Reed Died Over Weekend; Former WH CIO Criticizes Obamacare Web Site

Aired October 28, 2013 - 15:29   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Julianne Hough, she's a singer, she's a dancer, a starlet. You have seen her on the red carpet, great taste in clothes, but in costumes, not so much, because this is Hough Friday night when she joined friends for a Halloween outing. They were dressed as characters from the popular Netflix drama "Orange Is the New Black."

And so Hough is supposed to be the African-American character, her name is Crazy Eyes, who is the prison wife of the show's main character. Here's a clip.




BALDWIN: Hough darkened her skin, triggered accusations she was in blackface, and when you go online, the reaction has been fierce. This is just one tweet.

"One more thing, Julianne Hough. Use some of that money you earn to get an education or common sense you obviously lack or whatever. Bye." That's a quote.

The 25-year-old actress has tweeted this apology. She said: "I'm a huge fan of the show 'Orange is the New Black, actress Uzo Aduba, and the character she created. It certainly was never my intention to be disrespectful or demeaning to anyone in any way. I realize my costume hurt and offended many people, and I truly apologize."

So, let's talk to this with Keli Goff, special correspondent at The Root, CNN political contributor, Marc Lamont Hill, and Amy Holmes, "Hot List" anchor

Welcome to all of you.

You in the middle, Marc Lamont Hill, I'm going to begin with you here.

Technically, this is not blackface. I don't know if she ran through the spray tan 80 times. I mean, clearly, she darkened her face. Is this offensive?

MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, it's definitely offensive. There's an entire tradition of blackface that is really, I mean, at the dawn of American racism. And so, obviously, if there's a tradition of people using blackface to promote white supremacy and to insult and assault black people, to wear it is just disrespectful. And it ignores the tradition. I suspect she didn't think about it too much. A general rule of thumb for celebrities out there is just don't wear blackface. It's a real simple rule. Just don't put black stuff on your face.

BALDWIN: Just don't do it.

Amy, are you outraged?

AMY HOLMES, "THE HOT LIST": You know, I think this whole issue is a colossal waste of time. This young lady, I think she's most famous for dating Ryan Seacrest.


HOLMES: And I suspect people will not be talking about this in about 24 hours.

No one is going to care. I think the only thing that Julianne Hough has to apologize for is trying to make a remake of "Footloose." That was a classic. It didn't need to be done.


BALDWIN: Too soon, Amy.

Keli, what do you think?


KELI GOFF, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, THE ROOT: Look, it was tacky, tasteless, and stupid, but taking, tasteless and stupid isn't against the law.

What I will say is that in terms of offensiveness, this probably won't crack my top five for the month, unlike those knuckleheads who did the Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman costumes. That is innately, inherently offensive.

I think this is a misstep borne out of ignorance. That, to me, the Trayvon Martin costume, was a misstep borne out of maliciousness, and that I'm actually much more offended by.

BALDWIN: I'm not even going to go there. I'm not even giving them oxygen on this show, that is so ridiculous.

HOLMES: Right, and I do want to jump in because I think there is a larger point, which is for people to get outraged and worked up, it trivializes the black issues like black males have a six times greater incarceration rate.

Those are the things we should talk about, not a girl who danced on "Dancing With the Stars."

BALDWIN: Marc, go ahead. You're shaking your head.

MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The amazing thing about black people is we can walk and chew gum at the same time.

We can talk about mass incarceration and unemployment and we can talk about these cultural representations which are also dangerous and dark, and really they lead to some of the other things that we're talking about.

One of the things that you have to consider is why she would do this is because she doesn't know, and part of what white supremacy allows, part of what structural racism allows is for white people to do things that are offensive and simply say, I didn't know. Because they have the extraordinary privilege of not having to know. That's a problem we do need to talk about.

BALDWIN: Hang on, hang on.

I don't know if you know her. Are you calling her a racist, because it sounds like it's quite possible she had no clue, Marc. She may have had --

HILL: I don't think -- let me be clear. I don't think she's racist. I have only met her a few times. I think she's a very nice woman and I don't think she's racist at all.

But part of the white supremacy isn't about being a foaming at the mouth racist. It's also about having access to certainly experiences which are privileges to others and they don't have to know.

HOLMES: Are you saying black girls shouldn't be able to dress up as Princess Leia?

HILL: Say that again? I didn't hear the question.

HOLMES: Are you saying little black girls shouldn't be able to dress up as Princess Leia? That character was white and little black girls shouldn't wear white costumes?

HILL: No, it's not what I'm saying. She can be Crazy Eyes from the show, but you can be Crazy Eyes without putting on black face.

This might shock the world. It might mean there are a few things in the world white people can't do, like wear black face.

GOFF: I want to jump in and say this speaks to the larger issue of discussing race in the country, which is we are going to finally have to start distinguishing between racism and racially insensitive.

Because a lot of the stuff, that's where it's coming from, and I would say the real culprit is a statistic that was out from Reuters that shows 40 percent of Americans have no black friends.

This is what you get when you don't have any friends who don't look like you. You don't say to your friends, is this going to cause a controversy when I walk out the door?

BALDWIN: Is this ignorance?

HOLMES: It's totally unfair to say Julianne Hough has no black friends. That's pure speculation.

GOFF: She may have co-workers, but in terms of close black friends, I have a hard time any of my friends would walk up in black face.

If they are, don't call me if they get in trouble.

HILL: Amy would probably say yes, too.

BALDWIN: Wow, well, let me --


HILL: I'm saying, if you don't find it offensive, I'm not insulting Amy. I'm saying there's a diversity of opinion among black people.

GOFF: There are black friends and there are people you say are your black friends when you get in trouble. I'm assuming those might be the people she has.

BALDWIN: Guys, let's leave it there. We don't know. I don't know her personally.

HOLMES: Those are personal assumptions.

BALDWIN: Amy Holmes, Keli Goff, Marc Lamont Hill, thank you very much.

Well, that's that.

Does President Obama know which world leaders the United States is spying on? Should he?

Coming up next, a former CIA agent explains how much the commander in chief knows about these operations.

Plus, scientists describe it as a "lost world," and in that world, they found these critters. Look at these new pictures here.

These are three new species, never seen before, believed to be millions of years old.

We'll tell you about them next.


BALDWIN: As more and more allegations surface about just how far the NSA went with its spy, two questions remain. How much did the president know, and two, when did he know it?

One report that the NSA was not only tapping the phone of Angela Merkel since 2010, but that President Obama knew exactly what was going on. A separate report says the president did not know the NSA was spying on foreign leaders and put a stop to it as soon as he found out.

We may never really know the truth, but President Obama said it himself, time and time again, that no matter the issue, from the economy to spying, ultimately, the buck stops with him.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ultimately, the buck stops with me.

When I'm president, I'm responsible for a whole bunch of stuff that is done. And that's the nature of the game.

You know, as Harry Truman says, the buck stops with you.

What I continue is believe is ultimately, the buck stops with me.

I'm the president. And the buck stops with me.

I am less interested in passing out blame than I am in learning from and correcting these mistakes to make us safer. For ultimately, the buck stops with me.

We are responsible, though. The buck stops with me.

I won't have my vice president engineering my foreign policy for me. The buck will stop with me, because I'll be the president.

I will be responsible for the vision that this team carries out, so as Harry Truman says, the buck will stop with me.


BALDWIN: Mike Baker, I think you're sensing a pattern we were showing there, former CIA covert operations officer, and he's also the host of "America Declassified." That airs this weekend.

So, Mike, if you are tapping personal cell phones of world leaders, I'm not talking about terrorists, world leaders, our friends, do you think the president should have to sign off on that?

MIKE BAKER, FORMER CIA COVERT OPERATIONS OFFICER: I think, A, I think we certainly know where the buck ends at this point, I think, and if you're going to do that, if you're going to say the buck stops with me, then it's incumbent upon you as an intel intelligent, very smart and savvy individual to know what's going on around you because you don't want to get caught by surprise.

Now, he's expressing surprise over this. And the answer is, the president doesn't know. Not just President Obama, but any president, they don't know the specifics, the day in, the day outs of programs like this, or operations as an example of the CIA.

But they're aware of, at a 30,000-foot view, they're aware of the programs that exist. They're aware of what we're doing from a strategic point of view, and that's the way it should be.

The president should have to understand that. If he is being very sincere and he honestly didn't know that this program existed, then we've got a separate problem.

BALDWIN: So let's say on that problem, let's take the president at his word, that he did not know.

Do you think -- what kind of repercussions should we see from maybe the administration as a result of this?

BAKER: Well, you know, again, as with other issues where you express surprise at not knowing that something was happening in your administration, there has to be accountability.

And I'm concerned that perhaps the lack of accountability in other areas leads people to believe that it's all right not to advise the president or whomever the president may be at the time of important issues like this.

But it's incumbent whether it's the FBI or the NSA, it's incumbent upon them and they have constant communications about important issues and strategic programs. It's incumbent to keep the president advised.

Now, one thing that's interesting in all of this is the shock and dismay that's being expressed by our European allies when in fact every country to the resources they have allowable to them, they're all involved in spying on their neighbors and their allies.

BALDWIN: You say expressing shock. Do you think it's not that genuine? You think they know exactly what's been going on?

BAKER: I think what we're seeing is to some degree a play to the public. There's a quiet understanding that exists around the world, certainly amongst our allies that we're all involved in this business of spying on each other, and there's a sharing also of information that goes on behind the scenes.

But the problem is the leaks that have come out from the Snowden situation have thrust that quiet understanding out into the spotlight and now what you're getting to some degree is a European politicians playing to the public, and to the public dismay over this.

BALDWIN: Mike Baker, thank you, as always, so much for coming on.

And just a quick update to you, about 15 minutes from now, top of the hour, watch how the former vice president, Dick Cheney, answers questions about spying.

Jake Tapper sat down with him and asked him everything from the NSA to his health. That interview is the lead on "THE LEAD," top of the hour.

Now to the hottest stories here in a flash, Rapid Fire." Roll it.

It's taken a full year, but Ellis Island is open again to visitors after being inundated by Superstorm Sandy. More than a million photos and other artifacts that document the arrival of millions of immigrants remain in storage.

Conrad Murray, he is a free man as I speak. He was released from the Los Angeles County Jail this morning after serving two years for causing Michael Jackson's death.

The jury found Dr. Murray's negligence led to the singer's death from an overdose of Propofol. Murray's medical licenses were also suspended after his conviction, but he plans to file for reinstatement. He wants to practice medicine again.

And scientists are calling it the "lost world" in this remote mountain range in northern Australia. Pretty incredible discovery, take a look.

Three new species sitting in isolation for million of years, a primitive looking gecko, a prehistoric reptile with huge eyes, then there's this. You're looking at a frog with a behavior never seen before. This little guy -- really, guys?

Somehow they know this about this frog, that he likes to make love in the rain. I'm just going to take their word for it.

Finally, a skink, unique because of its golden hue, and habit of leaping great lengths from boulder to boulder.

Tell you. You learn something new everyday here.

He's a rocker who influences some of music's biggest bands.

Coming up next, we're talking to a man who spent a lot of time with Lou Reed. We'll ask his former publicist about his most unique memory of the singer.

That is next.


BALDWIN: An Oregon school board has just voted to allow teachers and staff bring guns to school.

The board chairman in the state's St. Helen's school district tells that they lifted a previous ban, so now anyone with a concealed weapons permit is allowed to carry guns on campus.

The board chairman says this rule is in line with the current law in the state of Oregon. The board chairman said that staff and teachers and I'm quoting him here, "should have the right to protect themselves and their students."

The move affects seven schools.

He never grew his hair long, didn't wear flowers, didn't sing about peace and love.

Lou Reed, who died yesterday in his native New York, was the darker side, the seedier side of the 1960s.

They say it's not rock 'n' roll unless it scares your parents. Lou Reed was rock 'n' roll personified.

He sang about sex, he sang about drugs, was known to indulge in both voraciously. He made to the age of 71, and by the time death took him, he was widely regarded as a visionary.

That is Lou Reed back in 1984, nearly 20 years after his groundbreaking smash in the legendary band known as The Velvet Underground.

With us now from Los Angeles, Reed's friend and former publicist, Bill Bentley.

A pleasure to be talking to you. I'm sorry about the passing of your friend. First question, give me your favorite memory of Lou Reed.

BILL BENTLEY, LOU EREED'S FORMER PUBLICIST: My favorite memory of Lou, once we were leaving "The David Letterman Show" and going west on 51st and he saw this just golden sunset day and he just looked at me and said, God, I love this city.

You know, all of his art started there in New York. That's sort of what he was known for when the Velvet started, was his songs about every side of New York City. I just felt like, God, this man really does love New York.

BALDWIN: Talk about art. Have to talk about Andy Warhol because Lou Reed became a protege of sorts for him who managed, publicized The Velvet Underground.

We dug deep in our vault here at CNN. Let me let you hear quickly. This is Lou Reed and Andy Warhol.


ANDY WARHOL, ARTIST: We're sponsoring a new band and it's called The Velvet Underground.

LOU REED, MUSICIAN: Andy wanted to disturb people and shake it up. So did we.

WARHOL: We have a chance to combine music -


BALDWIN: Got to say The Velvet Underground was pretty out there. What exactly was the Velvet Underground? How would you describe it as an artistic enterprise?

BENTLEY: It was like an early '60s rock and roll band that really tore down all the barriers for what rock could be about.

Lou had been a pretty serious literature student in college and he felt anything he read in a book or saw in a play, he should be able to write a song about.

The great thing about Warhol, what he did for him is when he met the Velvets, he gave them a legitimate entree into the art world and taught them to never back down and never be afraid of negativity.

Let people say what they want as long as they talked about you. Lou would always say that's what Andy taught me.

BALDWIN: Interesting that Lou Reed sort of flew under the radar in the '60s. It seems when you think of the '60s, you think of peace and love and flowers, and it seems like his brand of music didn't, I don't know, didn't sell quite as well as peace and love did.

BENTLEY: Well, you think about radio in the 1960s, it's probably unlikely you will hear a song like "Heroin" or "I'm Waiting for the Man" on the radio, so that was out.

They didn't really get to tour that much. They never really found a basis for where they could go around America and play. Except for a few cities, they were completely unknown. To this day, they're still very much a cult band.

BALDWIN: Bill Bentley, thank you so much for stopping by. We appreciate it.

BENTLEY: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Coming up next, a man who managed more than $80 billion in tech investments for the government explains what went wrong with the Obamacare Web site and why he says the government chose not to go with established companies like Google and Amazon to help build the site.


BALDWIN: Just in to CNN, parts of the new abortion law in Texas are unconstitutional.

That's what we're getting from a federal judge today, one day before the law was scheduled to take effect, the judge ruling the regulations would violate the rights of doctors to do what they think is best for patients and also restrict a woman's access to clinics.

It's considered among the most restrictive abortion laws in the entire country, so tune in to "THE LEAD." I'm sure Jake Tapper will have more on this a couple minutes from now.

The man who was once in charge of technology for the Obama White House is now a heavyweight in Silicon Valley and is weighing in on the plagued Obamacare Web site.

He faults the government, saying they built the website with a 1960s architecture.


VIVEK KUNDRA, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER: This is a case where decisions were made to actually implement and custom-build everything rather than saying, you know, who does this best on the planet, whether it's companies like Amazon or or Google that can scale with billions of users?

And, unfortunately, what the status quo favors is people who have a PhD. in how the procurement process works rather than innovation.


BALDWIN: No Internet in the '60s, but I think you get what we're seeing. The most recent glitch on the Obamacare Web site has been resolved. We're told the application and enrollment tools are back up and running.

The system did crash Sunday when a data center operated by a Verizon subsidiary shut down, leaving consumers unable to apply online for coverage or determine their eligibility for federal subsidies.

This outage is just the latest to hit the troubled site since its disappointing debut on October 1st. Some users have been unable to create accounts or even sign up for coverage.

While so much of the talk surrounding the Obamacare rollout really has been focused on all these problems with this website, Americans are being hit with an even more serious realization and that's this. This is key. A lack of young people could cause problems down the line for the system as a whole.

Let's talk about this with our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen. That's the key part as this will affect people way, way in the future here. So how are people going -- are young people signing on? Are they making the effort to do this?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: The administration won't tell us how many people are signing up and they certainly aren't giving us numbers.

But among experts I talked to, there's a real concern and here's why. This is a really tough site to get through. I know. I spent the past month on it.

And if you're sick and you really need insurance, you might be willing to take that time and motivated to take that time.

I talked to one woman who is very sick, five hours a day --

BALDWIN: She spends?

COHEN: Yes. It took her two weeks, five hours a day --


COHEN: -- to make this work. If you are healthy --

BALDWIN: They don't have the incentive. COHEN: Right. So you might say you know what, forget it. I'm just going to pay the fine. The fine is less than what insurance would cost me.

It's not illegal. Paying the fine is a perfectly fine thing to do. They might just make that decision.

BALDWIN: But spell it out for everyone why the so-called "invincibles," the young healthy folks, are so key to making this whole thing work as a whole.

COHEN: Right. If you have an insurance pool of just sick people, you're in trouble. It could lead to what experts call a "death spiral," so if people put in their premiums, but then use lots of services because they're sick, it doesn't work. It's mathematically not going to come out.

You need healthy people who are paying premiums, not using so many services. The Obama administration said, look, we knew young healthy people would be among the last to sign up. They would wait to the last minute. They did in Massachusetts, that's just what they do.

But the concern is that if young people have it in their head what a glitchy Web site this is, they may not even do it at the last minute. They may just say, forget it, I don't want to deal with this mess and pay the fine.

BALDWIN: Just quickly, the deadline is when? Some people are asking for it to be extended but so far?

COHEN: If you want coverage January 1st, then it's December 15th. That's an issue for a lot of people. Lot of people, their policies are up, but if you don't want to get in legal trouble, you have until March. For a lot of people, that December 15th date is really important.

BALDWIN: Coming quickly. Thank you.

And thank you so much for watching. See you back here tomorrow. Let's go to Washington. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.