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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Official: Iran Nuclear Deal "As Soon As Tonight"; Did Lee Harvey Oswald Act Alone?; Student's Motive To Murder Teacher?; Friend Of Hate Crime Victim Speaks Out; Obamacare Subsidies Don't Add Up
Aired November 22, 2013 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, breaking news, the United States on the verge of an historic deal with Iran.
Plus, honoring JFK. People in the U.S. and around the world will show you celebrating the former president.
And new information tonight about the 24-year-old teacher found murdered behind her school. Horrific details about the attack and a possible motive breaking late today.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett on this Friday night OUTFRONT. We begin with the breaking news, the United States on the verge of an historic deal with Iran, Secretary of State John Kerry suddenly deciding to go to Geneva at the flip of a hat. Today, he is on a plane right now en route and that is where the U.S. and Iran are meeting to work out a deal on Iran's nuclear program.
Jim Sciutto is OUTFRONT. He is already in Geneva. Jim, you've been breaking a lot of the news here. What are you hearing? I mean, I guess, the real question is, is there really going to be a deal that gives full access to all nuclear sites? A deal that the world can guarantee will mean Iran never gets a nuclear weapon?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, it looks like they're close to a deal. Whether it can guarantee that, I'm not sure, but it is past 1:00 in the morning now and they're still talking. They're still going at it. I'm told the reason they are doing that is they feel they are really close. In fact, the western official told me that they could reach a deal as soon as tonight.
Now you have the foreign ministers coming in. Secretary of State John Kerry arriving tomorrow, the British foreign minister, the French foreign minister, we've just heard the Chinese foreign minister has left Beijing on his way here. So now the circle complete. You have all the permanent five members of the United Nations plus one.
That being Germany coming together here. And you really get a sense, Erin, they would not be coming in, sticking their necks out unless they really thought they were about to sign something. BURNETT: It's a great point because I know you were there just a couple weeks ago. They were there and it fell apart. They want to want to risk that again, but you know, as you know, Jim, so many are asking critics of this deal, Israel, of course, including them. How can America strike a deal with a country whose extreme leader said Israeli officials, quote, "cannot even be called humans?"
SCIUTTO: We were talking about the supreme leader the other day. Listen, this is out of character with the talks here. From the beginning of these talks, western officials, American officials have said how different the tone is from Iran, serious, constructive, and friendly. So the contrast between what you hear here and what you hear back from the pulpit in Iran is dramatic. It didn't go unnoticed here.
That said when you speak to the diplomats here. They say, listen, we're focused on this deal. We've got a lot of work to do and they have a sense it is meant for a domestic audience in Iran. The supreme leader has also said he supports the idea of negotiations.
So you have heard Kerry, Samantha Power, the U.N. -- U.S. ambassador to the U.N. condemning those comments, but then quickly turning and say we still have the substance to here to possibly make an historic agreement. I guess you can say they're compartmentalizing -- Erin.
BURNETT: Certainly, it sounds like it, but of course, as you say, the devil will be in the details and that will be the crucial thing everyone goes through. Well, thank you very much, Jim, as you said, Jim, 1:00 a.m. in Geneva as they are waiting the final details on that deal that is expected, obviously a historic moment.
Our second story, OUTFRONT, a huge historic moment for the United States honoring President John F. Kennedy. The nation pausing today to remember one of its darkest days, 50 years to the day since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Newspapers around the world show the international community playing tribute to the iconic U.S. leader.
He was killed when he was only 46 years old. President Kennedy is now considered the most popular president in the last half century. Obviously because of that Camelot image, his youth goes a long way to poll numbers like these. According to our latest poll, Kennedy is a 90 percent approval rating right now. President Obama declared today one of remembrance with flags at the White House and capital flying at half-staff.
The ceremonies began this morning at Arlington National Cemetery. The eternal flame burns at the 35th president's flame. A somber wreath laying ceremony at the JFK statue at the State House and this is incredible, everybody, for the first time in 50 years, the city of Dallas recognizing the event that has scarred it so deeply.
Thousands gathering in the rain at Dealey Plaza to mark the exact moment when President Kennedy was killed. Ed Lavandera was there all day at Dealey Plaza and he is OUTFRONT from there tonight. Ed, you've been covering these events all day. You know what kind of amazes me is that concept that that is such, you're at such an historic place. And for 50 years, Dallas didn't actually commemorate this event, but today obviously was very different.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was very different. Unlike anything the city has seen in 50 years, but mostly because the city has been a place where it was the end of the John F. Kennedy story. This was where he was gruesomely assassinated. The sixth floor window there that you see behind me, people have come here to talk essentially about how he was assassinated and that is something that the city officials here wanted to get away from.
But now that everything has ended here, the official ceremony, it didn't take long for the conspiracy theorists to come back to the Grassy Knoll. They're back out here tonight continuing to talk about the mystery that surrounds the assassination of JFK.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): If Hollywood producers could give the Kennedy assassination the 21st Century forensic crime show treatment it would be solved by a show like CSI in an hour. Five decades later, conspiracy theories thrive.
ROBERT GRODEN, CONSPIRACY THEORIST: I would not want to be considered to be a believer that one person did this alone when that was impossible.
LAVANDERA: To this day, Robert Groden preaches conspiracy on the Grassy Knoll every weekend. He is dedicated his life to the Kennedy assassination, consulted the House Committee on Political Assassinations in the 1970s, even had small parts in Oliver Stone's film, JFK. He moved to Dallas almost 20 years ago just so he could keep fighting the Warren Commission's conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oswald could never have been convicted. That's why they had to kill him.
LAVANDERA: So where do you think the shots came from?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, shots came from at least four different directions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the result of about 12 different locations of actually running the scanner.
LAVANDERA: The Kennedy assassination got the CSI treatment by Mike Haag and the team of forensic investigators. They analyzed that assassination with modern forensic tools using this $180,000 scanner. They created a 3D image of Dealey Plaza.
After analyzing medical and police reports, re-created the shooting scene as if they were investigating a modern murder case.
MIKE HAAG, FORENSIC SCIENTIST: The physical evidence really does tell the tale.
LAVANDERA (on camera): That tale is what?
HAAG: If you look at the physical evidence there is nothing to suggest anything other than Lee Harvey Oswald shot the president of the United States in 1963.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Haag tracked the path of three fired shots. The first he said likely hit the street and disintegrated. The second shot, the so-called magic bullet is the most controversial. It struck Kennedy in the back, exited out of his throat, passed through Texas Governor Connelly's back, wrist and then lodged in his leg. The bullet was later found in the hospital intact, but slightly warped like a kidney bean he said. Of course, to conspiracy theorists, this all seems totally improbable.
(on camera): That magic bullet has been a source of controversy for five decades now and you're saying it could have easily happened.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): To prove the point, Haag's team documented a simulated shooting for the BBS show, "Nova."
ANNOUNCER: Mike Haag will test fire one round into one of the oldest ballistic test materials.
LAVANDERA (on camera): The impact is recorded with a high speed camera.
ANNOUNCER: The bullet has penetrated 36 inches, but what condition is it in?
HAAG: The nose of this bullet is undeformed. It is still perfectly round.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Haag also says the entrance wound in Kennedy's back is perfectly round, but the entrance wound in Connelly's back is not, which suggests that bullet tumbled out of Kennedy into Connelly.
HAAG: This is not magic. It actually fits pretty darn well with the physical evidence.
LAVANDERA (on camera): Then there is gruesome third shot. Mike Haag said it came from the sixth floor window, struck the president's skull then fragmented, parts of it careening across Dealey Plaza striking the curb and ricocheting up and hitting a third victim. A man by the name of James Tague, who suffered a minor face wound.
HAAG: If you fragment the bullet that is within the realm of possibility for these fragments to deflect and travel that distance to get to Tague.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): But today, James Tague doesn't believe that story. He thinks there was another shooter in Dealey Plaza and more than three shots fired.
JAMES TAGUE, ASSASSINATION WITNESS: They were not going to mention the shot. So they had to go back and fit a missed shot in there and that's when they came up with the magic bullet theory.
HAAG: That the hole in Kennedy's back --
LAVANDERA: Mike Haag says he did not find any physical evidence of a second gunman or clues that shows shots were fired from a second location. For Robert Groden and conspiracy theorist who is still flock to the Grassy Knoll five decades later, this still isn't enough.
GRODEN: People come because they know something is wrong themselves wanted to come and find out and see for themselves and then they come here and they look around. They see the sixth floor, they see the angle. They know shots came from the front. They say it couldn't have happened that way.
LAVANDERA: You know, Erin, a lot of these conspiracy theorists will tell you that those police reports was official reports, cannot be believed that there was information missing in all of that. If you think that after 50 years we will stop hearing about conspiracy theories that will not happen. In fact, the CIA has given over sealed documents that are being held at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and the plan is to release those documents in 2017. So by no means have we heard the end of this story.
BURNETT: By no means. Thank you very much, Ed Lavandera. I have to say I really like how Ed showed the bullet as it goes through, it goes through wood or gelatine, how it shows how a bullet would behave. Incredible when you think about it experimentally. It actually supported the Warren Commission. Don't miss "The Assassination of JFK" tonight at 10:00 Eastern right here on CNN.
Still to come, the truth about Obamacare's quote/unquote "subsidies," you've heard so much about them. Kathleen Sebelius made some really big promises. We'll guess what? We have breaking news here at CNN tonight.
plus, gruesome new details about the murder of a 24-year-old teacher. How police believe she was killed and why. That was revealed today.
And new information about an alleged hate crime at San Jose State University. A fourth white student today reportedly charged with harassing and assaulting a black roommate.
Plus a very special OUTFRONT investigation on a designer drug
BURNETT: Our third story, OUTFRONT, gruesome new details and hints at a possible motive, which is really what everybody has been waiting for. The case, of course, is a 14-year-old student accused of raping and killing his math teacher using a box cutter. That is horrific enough and impossible to comprehend, I realize that but it gets worse.
Because according to newly unsealed documents that we have obtained today, the student, Phillip Chism became angry when his teacher made reference to Tennessee. Yes, when he made reference to Tennessee. Now why is that important? Because that's the state from which Chism had just moved. His parents went through a difficult divorce and he moved from Tennessee. And literally, that seems to be the only clue as to a motive.
We begin our coverage tonight with Alexandra Field OUTFRONT.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The details are disturbing, according to a previously sealed search warrant affidavit, surveillance video shows Colleen Ritzer's 14-year-old student, Phillip Chism, following Ritzer into the bathroom, donning gloves and a sweatshirt with a hood up over his head. He is seen walking in and out of the bathroom several times.
Almost 30 minutes later he is seen leaving the same bathroom wearing a black face mask and pushing a recycling bin. Ritzer's body was later found in the woods behind the school next to a handwritten note that read, I hate you all according to the documents. Danvers Police say Ritzer had been raped with an object.
According to the affidavit, when Chism was picked up, he was found with a blood stained box cutter, a pair of Ritzer's underwear and credit cards in his backpack. The document say a student reported Chism getting visibly upset the day before during a conversation in which Ritzer started talking about Tennessee, a place Chism used to live with his parents before they split.
Documents also say it was a stressful divorce. No motive is mentioned. In a statement, Ritzer's family says we are devastated and heart broken by the details of the horrific circumstances surrounding the death of our beautiful daughter and sister, Colleen.
FIELD: Phillip Chism is charged with murder. He will be tried as an adult on that charge. We were not able to reach his attorney for comment. Chism is also charged as a youth offender for aggravated rape and armed robbery. He will be back in court on December 4th for his arraignment -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Alexandra, thank you very much. You hear Alexandra's report. According to people who knew 14-year-old Phillip Chism, he was a quote/unquote "good kid" with no prior history of violence, which is something it seems like we all often hear around these horrific cases. So what led him to allegedly commit this rape and murder?
OUTFRONT tonight, criminologist, Dr. Casey Jordan. Casey, let me just start with this because according to the new documents that we just got today. A fellow student said, a fellow student said Chism became horribly upset when someone mentioned the state of Tennessee. That's the closest thing that we have at this point to a quote/unquote "motive."
DR. CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: Right. That's all we have. The student also observed when the teacher, Colleen Ritzer, mentioned Tennessee, he got upset, but she didn't notice this. It took her a while to catch on that he was very agitated. That Tennessee pushed his buttons, which in our minds makes us think, something bad happened to him in Tennessee or that he was very defensive on this topic. Was she calling him unfit at this indicated?
BURNETT: And that she wasn't noticing his distress.
JORDAN: And once she figured it out, she dropped the topic, but I think that's when he formed this reactive formation. He got a chip on his shoulder and said I don't like this teacher. The biggest thing we learned is that he must have been smoldering on this idea because he planned and premeditated that attack.
BURNETT: Planned and premeditated. In the note that we found out today the police said was next to her body was, quote/unquote, "I hate you all." Now that something that one could get from a lot of teenagers, but this obviously is different. How do you know when somebody who is acting that way is somebody who is capable of committing something like this?
JORDAN: Well, obviously you don't know and I'm sure Colleen Ritzer never thought in a million years this student would follow her into the bathroom with a box cutter. The bottom line is when he says "I hate you all." It's not just Colleen Ritzer. He's been angry at the world for a very long time. You have to ask, will details be reveal that he was abused sexually or physically? That he has been a powder keg for years and she is simply wrong place at the wrong time. She precipitated this by pushing a button, but he was looking for an excuse to explode.
BURNETT: Here is the thing. You know, we heard this with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. I remember being there in Boston. This was nicest guy, the nicest kid. Here is what friends or people who knew Phillip Chism have said about him to our reporters at CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He seemed like a genuinely nice kid and I saw no problems at all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He didn't have problems interacting with the students, never showed signs of aggression.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He seemed like a normal kid. He was not a troubled kid. As far as I know, he had nice grades and everything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: How the heck are you supposed to know?
JORDAN: Well, the problem is that based on what we've heard he was what we called dangerously anti-social, the personality where he feel no remorse no, empathy. You're not supposed to know. It is the Adam Lanzas with histories have emotional disturbance.
BURNETT: This is he came off nice but because he never interacted, they just assumed he was nice.
JORDAN: Because he was stuffing down that rage all these years. So people assume he is nice, but you look for what we call leakage, those little signs. I think as details come out about his early childhood years, we will see tiny signs that really he was enraged and looking for someone to blame, Colleen Ritzer, wrong place, wrong time.
BURNETT: Casey, thank you very much.
JORDAN: Good to be here.
BURNETT: Still to come, shocking new details about the alleged hate crime we've been covering at San Jose State University. A fourth white student now charged with treating a black roommate like a slave.
Plus the White House at war with the media. Journalists with new claims, we've got the visual claims to show you tonight. This is going to be pretty incredible, I promise you, that the Obama administration is keeping them from doing their job.
And the rise of molly in America, youth across the country are indulging in a new designer drug. And OUTFRONT went undercover, literally, you are going to see it coming up tonight.
BURNETT: Our fourth story OUTFRONT, is hate crime charges expanding at San Jose University. According to the latest reporting from the "San Jose Mercury News," a fourth student has been charged with harassing and bullying his black roommate. Now we covered the story yesterday, but let me remind you the allegations include putting a bike lock around his neck, taunting him with racial slurs, calling them things like three-fifths in reference to slavery in American History and decorating the suite with a confederate flag, Nazi symbols and racial epithets.
Dan Simon today had the opportunity to speak exclusively with one of the victims' friends and get some crucial information about what really happened. Dan is OUTFRONT.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is where it happened, Room 704 in the freshman dorm on the San Jose State campus.
KYLE CARBONE, VICTIM'S FRIEND: There was about four or five policemen in the hallway by his door.
SIMON: Kyle Carbone lives in the next room over and was there the night when police went to question the teenagers, all white, accused of committing hate crimes against their African-American roommate.
(on camera): Tell me about the victim, your friend. What is he like?
CARBONE: He is a really nice kid. I really wouldn't expect this to happen to him. I don't know anybody who would want to be his enemy, which is really sad. I don't like everything that he has to go through now.
SIMON (voice-over): He says he considers the victim one of his closest friends. Yet he said he was not aware the alleged abuse was happening or that his friend was being called offensive names like three fifths and later, fraction, references to the constitution's original formula for counting slaves.
CARBONE: I could tell you he was a little bit of a shy kid but I would have thought he would speak out about it sooner. He is not the kind of kid to hold back, I don't think.
SIMON: All the more incredible considering the allegations. The police report, 24 pages, paints a disturbing living environment with hate symbols slashed on the walls, a swastika and a picture of Adolf Hitler. There was a confederate flag. Physical abuse as well including forcibly holding down victim and placing a bicycle lock around his neck.
CARBONE: It is weird that something like that can happen right next door to me and I don't even know, not hearing anything that went on.
SIMON: Reflecting on it he thinks his friend probably just wanted to blend in and not stir trouble. It wasn't until the victim's outraged parents saw the n-word written on the dry erase board did anything take place. They alerted the school's housing authorities who then called police. "We are deeply disturbed by the horrific behavior that's have taken place against our son," the parents say in a written statement. Our immediate focus is his protection. We are hopeful the District Attorney's Office will take the necessary measures to ensure justice will prevail for our son.
(on camera): People want to know what type of students would act like this?
CARBONE: That's what we're all wondering, I think. Because being such a diverse campus, we wonderful who would do this stuff and especially be able to get away with it how much they did?
BURNETT: When I hear that they called him three fifths and he asked them to stop and they started calling him fraction. There is something visceral about that. Where are the accused roommates right now?
SIMON: That's a good question. We know that one of them actually turned himself into authorities. He was formally arrested, Erin, and was released on a $15,000 bond. The others are expected to do the same. Now we should point out that the person we talked to, Kyle Carbone, he knows all the suspects. But we should disclose that he says he did not see anything that they're accused of. That adds a whole other wrinkle to this -- Erin.
BURNETT: It does. That's a really interesting point. All right, Dan Simon, thank you very much. Dan, of course, getting that exclusive interview.
Still to come, the breaking news on Obamacare, CNN with some very surprising numbers for you in just a moment.
And then President Obama versus the media, journalists claim that the White House is borrowing them from covering the administration and we have the photographic evidence for you.
Plus, a Virginia State senator who was stabbed more than ten times by his son, he has a message to supporters tonight and a big develop many on his health.
And what is shaping up to be the biggest movie of the year, but there is something that you might not know, even though you've seen her beautiful face everywhere about Jennifer Lawrence. That's tonight's "Money and Power" and it's coming up.
BURNETT: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT.
An update on the Typhoon Haiyan aftermath. The death toll is now above 5,200, according to the Philippines news agency, which is a huge jump of a thousand in just one day. A United Nations official tried to explain the leak today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VALERIE AMOS, UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS: Initially, the debris was pushed to the side of the road. But once it starts actually being actively cleared, I think more bodies will be discovered.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: She also said it's difficult to get an accurate figure because many of the dead were washed out to sea. Sixteen hundred are still missing and the death toll, of course, is likely to rise further.
Well, Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds has been released from the hospital and he has a message for everybody that he put just three days after he was stabbed 10 times by his son. He tweeted today, "I am alive, so must live. Some wounds won't heal. Your prayers and your friendship are important to me."
As I said, deed was stabbed by his son Gus in the head and neck and his son Gus, of course, then took his own life. A day before the fight Gus Deeds was given a mental evaluation at the hospital but was released according to one report because a psychiatric bed was not available for him.
Well, tonight, you could own a Chicago area estate belonging to one of the greatest basketball players of all time, Michael Jordan.
Our CNN Money team did some amazing research on this. And they tell us the mansion he spent his championship years in is up for auction. So, he put it on the market twice. He tried for $29 million, failed, and then he lowered it to a mere $21 million.
But apparently now, he is a motivated seller. There is no minimum bid.
So, nine bedrooms, 19 bathrooms. I guess they think people might have some gastric distress. A 14-car garage and an NBA size basketball court, 56,000 square feet.
So, $21 million may sound like a bargain to some when you look agent it by square foot. In New York, for example, the price per square foot would be three times more than you'd pay to buy Michael Jordan's home for $21 million. The zinger is, though, property taxes on that state are $174,000 a year.
And now, our fifth story OUTFRONT for breaking news. CNN tonight learning that the subsidies under Obamacare that are supposed to help millions don't add up. We've heard the president talk about subsidies, helping to pay for Obamacare.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius promised last spring, and I want to quote her directly that, quote, "somebody who makes $25,500 would definitely qualify for a subsidy.
Brianna Keilar is at the White House. And, Brianna, what have you learned?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, not so fast, it turns out, for young people, Erin.
In Nashville, Tennessee, if you are 25 and under, with that very income you just mentioned, you will not get a subsidy. This flies in the face of one of the promises of Obamacare that if you're making 400 percent of the poverty level or less. So, less than about 45,900 per year, you get government help paying for your premium. That is also something that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has promised.
So, the bad news first here. For young people, that's not actually true. We found that to be the case in the largest city in almost every state.
Now, the good news here is it's because health insurance is actually costing less than expected. The math on a subsidy relies in part on the cost of a premium. So because young people have lower premiums, and now they're even lower than expected, they're not seeing the subsidies they would have expected, and that the government would have expected to give them.
For example, Minneapolis where health care costs are really low, 47 and younger. Once your income hits almost $29,000, no subsidy. And Portland, Oregon, 35 years and younger, no subsidy as well once your income hits that almost $29,000 mark. That is an income, Erin, that is only 250 percent of the poverty level, far below the 400 percent.
And, obviously, as you say, you know, the good news will be that the premiums perhaps are lower than expected.
BURNETT: Of course, it doesn't address the deductible issue, where a lot of those are sky high for some people, they didn't expect that.
But -- and when you add all this together, if you're a young person. The people that this whole system relies on, as you know, Brianna, right, you go in and you expect to get this subsidy and you find out you're not going to get it, that might discourage you from signing up, right? I mean, is that going to be a big issue?
KEILAR: Yes, that's right and that's really a concern here. Those young people even out the cost for older Americans who are more expensive to insure. Now, the case to be made from the administration is, look, your premium is quite low, you know, this is great.
But try telling that to someone who thought that they were going to get something for free and now it turns out they're not going to.
So, yes, as you are saying, another tough sell for the Obama administration at a time when the Obamacare brand is really very damaged.
And the president is already having a hard time selling his program because of the botched rollout which is still at this point, as you know, Erin, to be fixed, although the Web site has improved some.
BURNETT: All right. Brianna Keilar, thank you very much with that news.
And as we indicated, there is a lot more details on the story at CNN.com, so you can go through the numbers. But when you look at that promise made by the Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, anyone who makes $25,500 would definitely qualify for a subsidy, and then you see, well, maybe it doesn't add up, it raises questions. In fact, just the latest questions about transparency surrounding this White House -- a White House that has promised repeatedly to be the most transparent in American history.
Now, right before the show, I spoke with Ron Fournier. He's the executive director for the nonpartisan "National Journal". He has covered three consecutive administrations -- Clinton, George W. Bush, and now, President Obama.
And we talked about another major transparency controversy engulfing the Obama administration that you have to see to believe.
BURNETT: You just wrote a new article about a fight that's going on between the White House and the journalists, like yourself who cover it, about access to photographers.
In a letter to the White House spokesperson, Jay Carney, signed by all major news outlets, including CNN, the letter says, "As surely as if they were placing a hand over a journalist's camera lens, officials in this administration are blocking the public from having an independent view of important functions of the executive branch of government. You are, in effect, replacing independent photojournalism with visual press releases."
And there are plenty of instances where the White House photographer gets a better vantage point than the press, right?
RON FOURNIER, NATIONAL JOURNAL: Right.
BURNETT: Or the one that gives the image that they really want out there as opposed to a different image. The first one on the left, we'll show the press version. On the right, the White House photo before the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial.
Obviously, the money shot is the one from behind them where you see the adulation of the crowds.
FOURNIER: So what's happening -- first of all, I'll give you a behind the scenes. There was a conversation that went on before that event where the White House said, yes, you can get behind the president and shoot out towards the mall. That's the shot you obviously want. We'll make sure you get it.
It wasn't until they got to the scene the photographers were told, no, you're not getting that shot. No explanation. No excuse. They were given a much worse shot in front of the president.
So, what you have is those pictures are both distributed -- one through the wire services and through normal challenges, through the news media channels.
FOURNIER: One through social media, Flicker and Facebook, and everyone is choosing the best photo. They're choosing, if you get a choice between first one which is basically just another picture of the president and the first lady, or this historic shot from behind --
FOURNIER: -- everyone including, by the way, networks like yours and newspapers and news organizations that I work for are grabbing off social media the best picture which is the propaganda picture, which is produced by somebody paid by taxpayers and who reports to the president to take flattering pictures of the president. Not to have a skeptical eye. Not to have a jaundice eye --
FOURNIER: -- but to take flattering photos. So they arrange to have a monopoly on that day. And that just, that is a slippery slope, I think.
BURNETT: And certainly one -- I mean, to your point, I think a lot of people when they look at these pictures, they don't know who took it, right? They don't know which is the, quote-unquote, "manipulated shot" or the shot the White House wanted out as opposed to the one that is truly a candid, right?
FOURNIER: Now, one point I'd like make, though, because I'm critical of the White House. But we have a responsibility in media, too, because what's happening is our editors and our producers are taking these pictures off social media and putting them in our newspapers and putting them on TV. I think a lot of times they don't realize, unless they look at --
BURNETT: Right, without clarifying.
FOURNIER: Right. And what they're doing -- what's the difference between putting a White House photo out there? What's the difference between that and putting out a press release and pretending it's news? None.
BURNETT: To your point, there is none.
Now, let me -- this is another point that you make. This is one is really amazing. I'll show again to our viewers on the left and the right. The left, this is what journalists were given -- the access that our industry had to the president's trip to the gulf coast. Him eating lunch, right? Just that's it.
And I know the photographers were told, hey, that's it. He is not going swimming. Nothing else is going to happen.
BURNETT: But, obviously, he did go swimming with his daughter Sasha and the White House took that wonderful picture and that was the money shot. And as you pointed out, I reminded, take a look at the picture of Vladimir Putin frolicking in the water, right?
I mean, we make fun of those Vladimir Putin pictures all the time on this show and other places, but how is that any different?
FOURNIER: Well, look, obviously, we're not, you're not and I'm not comparing the Soviet Union to the United States, or Barack Obama to Vladimir Putin. That would be -- that would be ridiculous.
But what is also ridiculous is a White House in a -- in a democracy like ours that has a free and independent media freezing out the media more than any president has. It has gotten worse, the three presidents I've covered. President Obama is worse than President Bush was and Bush was worse than Clinton was, but also our reporters from events that we've covered in the past and we should be covering now.
And it's not healthy in any country. Certainly not healthy in our country. BURNETT: And, you know, it's interesting. I know you say, look, it is not fair in many ways to compare the U.S. to Russia but there are some similarities when you look at the pictures. I mean, one of the most iconic photos of President Obama, the first African-American president in the United States history, is this one, as you point out -- looking out the window of the Rosa Parks bus alone. I mean, it's an incredibly poignant image.
You wrote it is a great photograph but it's a matter of public record, it is no better than beef cake photos of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In other words, this was completely and utterly staged.
FOURNIER: Right. It is staged. It is shot by an agent of the government, paid by taxpayers whose job it is to flatter the leader. That is propaganda. That's a state-run media.
And social media, which, by the way, nobody that I know has a problem with the White House using social media. But they're doing it in connection with or at the same time that they're locking us out of the events.
So, when you're using social media to push out these images and push out this printed content, that is -- he is running in effect what is a state-run media organization. Then the slippery slope, the next president, the next president, the president after that, as they get more empowered with this new technologies and new media, and weaken us, shut us out of more events, you know, where will we be a generation from now? That's what I worry about.
BURNETT: Let us know what you think about that and those pictures. The White House was asked about this issue of access. The spokesman responded, quote, "There are certain circumstances where it is not feasible to have independent journalists in the room when the president is making decisions." They didn't comment about the water.
Still to come, robots replacing humans gets closer to becoming reality. Why a Chinese noodle shop might be the reason.
And the rise of molly in America. This is a special OUTFRONT investigation. The designer dangerous drug that youth across the country are indulging in. We go undercover and you are going to be amazed at what we found.
And the shout-out tonight is an animal rescue. I've been waiting to show this to you for a couple days here. It is worth it is. Some boaters in Brazil came across a dolphin. It was tangled in a plastic bag as you there.
So, after a few minutes, they were able to catch it. It was a very little baby dolphin, a baby dolphin. They were able to release it using a fishing net, and then the dolphin game them -- see the dolphin? And then when it went in the water -- watch. See? It gives a little wave. And, you know, they're so human- like. I maybe anthropomorphizing this, but come on, it looks like thank you.
Anyway, so, the shout-out tonight goes to the boaters who freed that grateful little dolphin. It's pretty (ph).
BURNETT: We're back with tonight's "Outer Circle".
Tonight, we go to China where one Beijing inventor is working on building robots to replace human workers.
David McKenzie has the story.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lookout, here comes the future.
Mr. Cui started out as a chicken farmer. But when a flu virus wiped out his flock, he searched for a new way to make a living.
"I went into a noodle shop and I saw the noodle maker made more money than me," he says, "but I didn't know how to make noodles."
So, this amateur inventor built something that could. Call it the Noodlebot.
"But this robot, one minute, four bowls of noodles", he says. "With a chef, one minute, two bowls."
(on camera): So, the factory floor is one thing. The real test of the Noodlebot is in the noodle shop.
(voice-over): "It saves me energy," says the noodle maker. "It does the same noodles than do I and it costs less than me."
But as labor costs rise in China, robots are starting to replace human labor. Chopping noodles today, but who knows what's next for the Noodlebot?
David McKenzie, CNN, Beijing.
BURNETT: A great story.
Well, our sixth story OUTFRONT is the startling rise of "Molly" in America. This is nothing to smile about. Today is Friday. This weekend, young people across the United States will be partying with the popular drug. But as CNN's undercover cameras reveal in this special OUTFRONT investigation you're about to see, many of "Molly's" users are unaware of the drug that they are using, how dangerous it is, that they are putting their lives at risk.
Drew Griffin has this special OUTFRONT investigation.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER (voice-over): It's Saturday night at a New York City Dance Club, and the steady beat of electronic dance music or EDM signals the start of another night of searching for many of these dancers. They want "Molly", lately, the drug of choice. It's a nickname given to pure form of MDMA or ecstasy.
Speaking to our undercover cameras, some tell us getting ready for "Molly" has taken all week.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know what to do to prepare for it. Dude, I hydrate all week. I drink (EXPLETIVE DELETED) 11 bottles of water all week. Every time I take like a gram or more. Today, I'm not taking that much. I didn't take any yet.
GRIFFIN: "Molly" has been around for a decade. Originally it was ecstasy. But just in the last few years, "Molly" has gone from unknown drug to an unknown quantity, a toxic chemical cocktail. Users don't know what they are getting and one hit can put you in the hospital.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They took me to the hospital and they gave me oxygen. I was about to pass out because I couldn't breathe. One of my friends got this with me and she had the same reaction. And she went to the hospital.
GRIFFIN: She was lucky. Deaths from overdoses associated with "Molly" are being reported across the country.
REPORTER: Shelley Goldsmith's (ph) father is convinced a bad batch of the drug is responsible.
GRIFFIN: "Molly" is no longer just ecstasy. What it is, according to the DEA, is any of a half dozen of variations of extremely dangerous synthetic designer drugs flooding the western world.
AL SANTOS, DEAD ADMINISTRATOR: We're seizing larger and larger quantities of meth alone, and a half a dozen other compounds that we're frequently seeing in these substances that are being marketed as "Molly".
GRIFFIN (on camera): And we see the overdoses and even deaths.
SANTOS: We've seen a number of deaths attributed to what the abuser thought was "Molly". Our kids are really being used as guinea pigs but these drug traffickers.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Kids as guinea pigs by these drug traffickers. Kids as guinea pigs for the new drug dealers, chemists creating their often toxic compounds in labs, mostly in China. And chemicals imported to the U.S. and Europe where they're assembled, packaged and sold to kids who may think it's the same old MDMA.
SANTOS: When we look at overdose deaths in the United States with these synthetic compounds. Frequently, it's very difficult for us to determine what the actual death may have been caused from.
GRIFFIN: It's taken just three years for this flood of new synthetic drugs like these to change the landscape of the illicit market in this country. As CNN has shown, the drugs known as Spice, M Bomb, bath salts can be bought easily over the Internet, mailed directly to your home.
We tested this packet of Afghan ultra black supposedly synthetic marijuana. It had a hidden surprise.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is a tryptamine, a hallucinogen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hallucinogen.
GRIFFIN: At this DEA lab, products with the same label in the same package yield wildly different results.
JILL HEAD, DEA SUPERVISORY CHEMIST: They may have different drugs. They may have drugs in different concentrations, and then within the amount of plant material, the concentration differs.
GRIFFIN: It is information not likely to be involved in the decision whether to ingest or not ingest a pill, a powder, a package at a dance club on a Saturday night in New York.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we're just drinking right now. It's gametime decision if I'm going to roll.
GRIFFIN: Here, night after night and in clubs across the U.S., the real dangers of "Molly" are being felt one hit, one overdose, one death at a time.
For OUTFRONT, Drew Griffin, CNN, Washington.
BURNETT: Fantastic report from Drew.
Well, OUTFRONT's next, hungry for details about the year's top movie. You may have waited in line or not been able to get a ticket. Well, we're not playing games. We got the story.
BURNETT: Our seventh story OUTRONT, the big business of Jennifer Lawrence.
So, "Catching Fire" is the second film in the "Hunger Games" franchise, and if you don't know about it, I mean, you're not alone but you're pretty much alone. It's set to be one of the biggest holiday opening weekends of all time.
Christine Romans has tonight's "Money and Power".
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One Oscar, two hit franchises, and the highest grossing action heroin of all time is hungry for more.
Jennifer Lawrence was born in Louisville, Kentucky. She started her acting career when she was just a teenager. But her true star turned came at the age of 20 in "Winter's Bone". The gritty role resulted in Lawrence one of the youngest women nominated for best actress.
JENNIFER LAWRENCE, ACTRESS: Thank you.
ROMANS: Two years later, she won, taking home the Oscar for her performance in "Silver Lining's Playbook", a rise with this small stumble.
LAWRENCE: I'm sorry I did a shot.
ROMANS: Lawrence is also up for fun and games, she became Mystique in the "X-Men" franchise and then went from comic book hero to superstardom as the lead in the wildly popular "Hunger Games."
LAWRENCE: I volunteer! I volunteer as tribute.
ROMANS: Hardly a volunteer, Lawrence earned $500,000, and the first installment of the "Hunger Games" series made almost $700 million worldwide. Time to ask the boss for a raise.
Lawrence will get $10 million to reprise her role as Katniss Everdeen for the sequel "Catching Fire."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Girl on fire.
ROMANS: "Forbes" named her the second highest paid actress, bringing him $26 million in the last year.
LAWRENCE: It's really such a wonderful life.
ROMANS: But even with all the cash, Lawrence is very careful with her spending. She might be the face of Dior but she says she's still a bargain shopper.
LAWRENCE: I end up staying like the Day's Inn.
ROMANS: The business of being Jennifer Lawrence international superstar may seem like glitz and glamour these days, just don't tell her that.
LAWRENCE: So awkward.
ROMANS: Christine Romans, CNN, New York.
(END VIDEOTAPE) BURNETT: Nice, natural way about her.
Anyway, have a great weekend.
"AC360" starts now.