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THE SITUATION ROOM
Slow, Difficult and Dangerous; Obamacare Heads Back to Supreme Court; New Toronto Mayor Video; Interview With Sen. Richard Blumenthal On Panel About Mental Illness; 60 Minutes" Shake-Up; Turkey Hunger Games?
Aired November 26, 2013 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, holiday hell. Torrential rains, wet snow, even tornado warnings, one-third of Americans facing delays and disappointment heading into some of the busiest travel days of the year. Going to the way to grandmother's house be spent in bumper to bumper traffic? We are tracking a fast-moving storm.
Missed signals, the Newtown shooter had an arsenal in his bedroom, trash bags taped over his windows and an obsession with school shootings. Yet he never got the mental health care he so desperately needed. How did our system fail him and why hasn't anything changed?
Time-out, "60 Minutes" temporarily benches Lara Logan for a flawed report on CBS while MSNBC and Alec Baldwin part ways over a derogatory slur. Is there a double standard when it comes to who stays and who goes?
And hunger games -- the White House is pitting turkey against turkey in an online gobble-off.
Will both birds come out alive?
Is the annual turkey pardoning taking a cue from the hottest film in Hollywood?
Wolf Blitzer is off today.
I'm Jim Acosta.
And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Forty-three million Americans on the move this holiday weekend. For many, the journey will be slow, difficult and even dangerous.
Air travel is getting more complicated by the hour, as rain and snow fell on the eastern US.
Look at the flight tracker behind me showing planes currently in the air right now. Others are trying to join them, but facing lengthy delays and even cancellations. You can see that reflected in the airport misery map. Dallas, Houston, Atlanta and Washington are among the hardest hit airports where many of you are watching us tonight. We've got this satellite image to show you, as well, of the storm causing so much misery. You can see it covers a huge swath of the United States.
Our CNN correspondents are covering all angles of this unfolding travel nightmare.
Let's begin with meteorologist, Chad Myers, in the CNN Severe Weather Center -- Chad, what are you seeing?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, Jim, I think we looked at the rain and said this is only going to be a rain event. Well, you know what?
The rain event is a big event. It's a big event if you're trying to put millions of people on the roadways to move. It's rain from Pennsylvania southward, all the way through here. Snow to the north. Don't get me wrong -- in the Midwest, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Buffalo.
But the issue is all of this rain. And the rain itself right now is just making travel miserable across the roadways.
This is what New York City looks like right now. I can't find you one city street that's going faster than about 10 miles per hour anywhere across New Jersey and here there's -- all the way up through Connecticut, as well. The Long Island Expressway equally miserable.
I'll take you to one more spot here across our city here of Atlanta. Right there. There is a now 40 -- 4-0 mile backup -- trying to get into Atlanta right here, on the way toward Braselton.
There's a race track right there, Road Atlanta, coming in from South Carolina, 40 miles worth of cars that have been stopped. I've been Tweeting back and forth with some of these guys. They've been sitting there since 11:00 this morning.
So, yes, it's only rain, but when you crash your car or a truck -- and this was two semis crashing there in Atlanta -- or near Atlanta -- you will get misery.
And that's what we have right here. There is the low traveling to the north. I-95 stays wet. Not a snow-ma-geddon for I-95. But Buffalo, Rochester, back toward Pittsburgh, even to Ohio, a lot of snow coming down, at least six inches of snow, some of it changing over to mist and drizzle for a while. But after sunset -- it's almost right now -- that's when the roadways are going to refreeze.
I know the sun wasn't very strong today, because it was behind clouds, but there's enough heat hitting the ground that the ground was warm. The ground was 34.
When that sun goes away, the ground goes to 31. And all the bridges freeze first. And all the roads freeze next. And travel tonight is going to get a whole lot worse than it was today. That wind for tomorrow will cause airport delays in at least three to four hours across the major metro airports of the Northeast -- Boston, New York and LaGuardia, so on and so on and so on.
Brand new delays just out of New York right now. And our Rene Marsh has more on that -- Jim.
ACOSTA: All right.
And so grandma ought to be ready for a few people to show up late this Thanksgiving.
All right, Chad Myers...
MYERS: Or the neighbors.
Thank you so much.
ACOSTA: Appreciate it.
All right, how does all of this affect you?
Weather-related delays and cancellations piling up across the country at airports.
CNN's Rene Marsh is at Dulles Airport near Washington -- Rene, what are you seeing there?
RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well. I can tell you, those delays and cancellations, they are building up, but more so the delays.
I want to give you a live look right here at Dulles. You can see people are showing up for their flights here, but not everyone is making it through without a glitch.
You just heard Chad mention some of those delays that we're starting to see at these airports, like Newark, for example, 60 minute delays. At LaGuardia, almost all arrivals and departures, they're delayed by about 30 minutes because of low clouds. And the latest tally from those Web sites tracking all of these flights in the air is that some 3,400 delays total today is what we've seen throughout the country.
So not exactly smooth sailing for everyone.
We spoke to some of those people who experienced those delays.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID THANDE, FACED AIR DELAYS: I came (INAUDIBLE). And I was actually going to leave about 45 minutes later. And then when I came in to check in, they said they can put me on the earlier flight, which is also delayed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREA MONTOYA, FACED FLIGHT DELAYS: I'm going to Atlanta and the flight was delayed by like an hour-and-a-half, which was going to put me missing my flight to El Paso.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THANDE: I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I'm think it should be OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARSH: All right. Well, looking forward to tomorrow. We spoke with several airlines. And they tell us this. They're not expecting a very large amount of cancellations. But the big word tomorrow, once again, is going to be those delays because of the wind that we are expecting.
Of course, with windy conditions, you're going to have a situation where they're not going to be able to land as many airplanes within the hour. So pack your patience. You know how that goes. You want to call and check with your airline before you actually get to the airport.
ACOSTA: All right.
MARSH: That's the latest from here.
Back to you -- Jim.
ACOSTA: Good advice.
Rene Marsh, thank you very much.
Many drivers are finding it no better, and, in some cases, worse on the roads.
CNN's Shannon Travis is in Western Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh -- Shannon, you've been driving all day.
How has it been for you out there?
SHANNON TRAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's been pretty rough, Jim.
You and Chad have been talking about how the roads are and will be a mess. That's what we've essentially been saying out here.
We're on Interstate 76, essentially the Pennsylvania Turnpike. We're in a place called Irwin, about 20 miles outside of Pittsburgh. And it's been, essentially, this mix of rain and snow all day since we've been here.
I just wanted to show you a little about the low visibility out here. We've been seeing it's been moving pretty smoothly, but again, the cars are driving a little bit slower that we've noticed. Earlier today, when we were driving in here, Jim, it was just an annoying mess of that wintry mix of sleet and rain and snow earlier. We were driving through a mountain. There was a steep curve through the mountain. You already had to slow down. But it was made even more potentially dangerous because of the mess that was coming down.
I spoke with some officials today with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. And they said in conditions like these, obviously, with about 40 million people taking to the roads for Thanksgiving, with conditions like these, it pays to be careful. But it also pays to step aside, pull aside and let those snow plows and those salt trucks do their job -- Jim.
ACOSTA: A good word of caution.
Shannon Travis in Pennsylvania.
Thank you so much, Shannon.
Coming up next, Obamacare is going back before the Supreme Court. Details of what the Justices will have to decide.
Also, thousands of U.S. troops could be in Afghanistan for years to come.
Plus, a homophobic rant costs Alec Baldwin his show on MSNBC. But graphic remarks by another host apparently went unpunished.
Is there a double standard at the network?
ACOSTA: More trouble for Obamacare, which is now headed back to the Supreme Court, this time over a dispute involving contraceptives and religious liberty.
The Justices have agreed to review provisions in the law requiring some employers to offer insurance coverage for birth control and other reproductive health services without a co-pay.
At issue is whether these companies can refuse to do so on grounds that it violates their religious beliefs.
Joining us now to talk about it, CNN senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin -- and I guess, Jeffrey, when people are hearing this headline for the first time, they may be wondering, well, is the entire Obamacare law going back to the Supreme Court for an entire review here?
That's not what's happening here, right?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: No, not at all. In fact, this is an important case, but it's really a discreet and really rather small part of the law that's being tested.
But as you pointed out, it's one of those classic Supreme Court clashes where there are competing values, where religious liberty, the right of religious business owners to have their money spent in a way that doesn't offend them, versus the Congress, which says that we think that birth control is an important part of women's health and we are not excusing people just because they don't like it that, that this is a law that applies to everybody and everybody has to pay.
ACOSTA: And how does the First Amendment figure into all of this?
Do companies have First Amendment rights?
TOOBIN: Well, this is one of the very interesting parts about this case, is the court has never precisely said what rights of religious freedom attach to a corporation.
This company is a very big company. They have thousands of employees. It's not just a mom and pop operation.
So the issue there is not just the rights of the owners.
It's what about the rights of all the employees, including many women, who could be beneficiaries of this law and who want to get birth control?
They're entitled to birth control under the Affordable Care Act. And they say that the religious liberty of the owners is not enough to overcome their right to be treated equally under the law.
ACOSTA: And where does this go from here?
If companies can start asserting their religious beliefs in terms of denying parts of the Affordable Care Act and not wanting to comply with certain parts of it, where does it end?
Could other companies say, well, we have these beliefs over here and because of those beliefs, we're going to take action in this way, that might be in violation of the law or some kind of statute?
Where does that end?
TOOBIN: You sound like a law professor.
ACOSTA: That's right.
TOOBIN: You're trying to lead us down the slippery slope.
Well, that's obviously what the Obama administration is going to say to the Supreme Court. They're going to say, look, well, what if a company is owned by Christian Scientists?
Does that mean blood transfusions will not be covered under the Affordable Care Act?
You can't allow the religious beliefs of owners to trump rules that apply to everybody.
The people who are attacking the law say, look, we're not talking about, you know, the slippery slope. We're simply talking about long held religious beliefs by these business owners which cannot be overcome by Congress' recent judgment in the Affordable Care Act.
It's not a simple case. The lower courts have taken different views, have come out different ways. Some vote -- some courts have upheld the law. Some have found it unconstitutional.
It's going to be a closely argued case in the Supreme Court and beats the heck out of me how they're going to come out on it.
ACOSTA: And it will be another fascinating court case to watch and probably another close one as well. Jeffrey Toobin, thank you very for your time. We appreciate it.
Turning to Afghanistan now and growing tensions over a potential security deal with the United States which would keep U.S. troops in the country for years to come. President Obama's national security advisor, Susan Rice, is there and on Afghan television issued this threat to Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, who is refusing to sign the deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: If the agreement isn't signed promptly, what I've said to the president is we would have no choice. We would be compelled by necessity, not by our preference, to have to begin to plan for the prospect that we will not be able to keep our troops here because they will not be invited because the BSA will not have been signed. And then, the nature of our partnership and the investments that we have made will be more difficult to sustain.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: All this raising an important question after more than a decade already, why does the United States need to stay in Afghanistan any longer? Let's bring in CNN senior international correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh, with details. Nick, it sounds like Susan Rice was issuing an ultimatum there to the Afghan president. What's the holdup in this deal?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Karzai has effectively changed the goal posts. Everyone thought the major text was Hamid (ph) out, then he said he wouldn't sign that text until some point next year after election and then joined that meeting with Susan Rice, threw in some conditions. No more raids on Afghan homes, release prisoners from Guantanamo.
Many asking why. I think people see him trying to keep leverage here. This is his last big chance to pry something out of the United States. He may have his eyes on the elections next year which will choose his successor. The U.S. was very critical of the elections that put him back in power in 2009, of course, his re-election. He may want to ensure this deal is still hanging in the balance that dampen any criticism of the electoral process. Then, of course, it's now solely Hamid Karzai's decision whether or not there'll be an enduring relationship between the U.S. and Afghanistan. If he doesn't sign this deal, as you heard Susan Rice say, there won't be much of one at all. That gives him great domestic power, Jim.
ACOSTA: And I guess, you know, a lot of Americans might respond to this, Nicks, and just sort of throw their hands up and say, you know, we've done enough for this country, why don't we just get out of there? And I'm sure there are a lot of other people in the countries of the other allied forces, NATO forces, that are involved in Afghanistan as well who are probably having the same feeling.
Well, Hamid Karzai doesn't like this deal, why don't we just get out of there. What do you make of that and this continuing presence that could be there for years to come? Is it really about security?
WALSH: This is a two-pronged answer (ph). The first is the practical military necessity. The Pentagon would argue they see that there could be a gulf opening up if they don't keep a presence there for al Qaeda to come back in. Of course, some al Qaeda there as well. Of course, Afghanistan right between Iran and Pakistan, too, very problematic countries for the U.S. U.S. drones still flying over Taliban strongholds in Pakistan.
It's important for that reason, too, but bear in mind also, the real thing here, this is America's longest war. Do they really want to see it end on acrimonious dispute over a tiny detail, how fast can you sign a deal or do they want to be sure that by having troops there and some sort of continued aid deal, some sort of continued U.S. influence, that America's sacrifice of blood and treasure there doesn't suddenly evaporate overnight and they have no influence on the Afghanistan of the future, Jim.
ACOSTA: Some good perspective from Nick Paton Walsh. Nick, thanks very much for your time. We appreciate it.
Coming up, even people thousands of miles from the storm hammering the eastern U.S., people are finding their holiday travel delayed and disrupted. We will take a closer look at the ripple effect.
Plus, we'll show you why Steve Barton would not shake President Obama's hand. It was not a diss. It's coming up in just a few minutes.
ACOSTA: One hundred million people in the eastern U.S. are feeling the impact of rain, snow, and frigid temperatures and millions of people elsewhere are trying to get somewhere for Thanksgiving and are finding their plans disrupted. And if you aren't anywhere near the storm, you are also feeling the victim of being the victim of this ripple effect. CNN's Tom Foreman is now here with us to explain all of this. Tom, how does this play out? TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it plays out right now with the nervous factor through the roof. It's unbelievable. Tens of thousands of travelers are being slammed by this bad weather. Many more could be hit by this ripple effect. These are people whose sitting hundreds of miles away in sunshiny airports. To understand why this happens, let's look at one hypothetical airplane.
Let's say it's a regional jet that starts in Cleveland and tomorrow is scheduled to fly to New York, then to Grand Rapids, then to Chicago, then to Louisville, and then back up to Cleveland finally. The airlines would like to keep all of these routes intact, but there is a simple principle at work here. You have to keep as many planes and passengers flying as possible. That's how you make money.
So, if the weather forecast says that the east coast up here is really going to be slammed, if this is the part they're worried about, we're talking about a hypothetical circumstance here, then we get the worse of it, maybe a good many of the flights in and out of this area would have to be canceled. Now, right now, the airlines are not seeing a huge number being canceled. We just got an update on that a short while ago.
But, when this does happen, it plays havoc with everything else beyond the system. For example, if you cancel this leg coming in, and this leg going out, what about all the other areas where they're counting on this plane to show up and all the planes that are counting on the connections from that plane. That is the ripple effect. That's where people really feel it, Jim.
ACOSTA: And is there any way for these passengers to avoid this? Because it doesn't sound like you actually could.
FOREMAN: Well, if you're going right here and your flight gets canceled, yes, it gets really tricky. But, maybe the rest of it so, because when you're pulling these resources out of an area like that that gets slammed, it's so you can handle more people out here. So, here's the basic advice that you might want to consider in a circumstance like this. First of all, you may want to go around the problem.
If it's up here and you're being routed through here on a flight of some sort, call your airline, see if you can route through another area, if you go New York -- if you're going from L.A. to New York, for example, through Cleveland, well, see if maybe you can go south through Memphis or Atlanta or somewhere else. That might be able to help you out.
Second, speed up or slow down. Go a little earlier or a little later than you planned if you're flying right around the dangerous time, the time when the pressure's really on. And the last thing, let the airline help. The truth is the airline does not want you sitting in the airport either. They want to get you on your way. Again, that's how they make money.
So, check their website. Some are offering travel waivers that will allow you to change your ticket free of charge no matter what kind of ticket you have, and that can be a benefit to everyone. The airline, you, the airports and grandma, who's waiting for you -- Jim?
ACOSTA: Good advice. And she is waiting and we hope it won't be that bad, but Tom, thanks for all that. We appreciate it.
Now, here's a look at some of the other stories we are monitoring in the SITUATION ROOM right now.
ACOSTA (voice-over): At least ten Haitian migrants are dead and dozens of others rescued after their overloaded boat capsized off the Bahamas. The coast guard released these images showing approximately 100 people crammed on to parts of the 40-foot vessel, still above water, while others were in the ocean or clinging to the sides. All of the survivors were taken to the Bahamas for medical treatment.
Another surprising move for Pope Francis who's now laying out dramatic new changes to the Roman Catholic Church in his first major written work. The document titled "Joy of the Gospel" calls for Catholics to stop obsessing about cultural war issues and enforcing church rules and to focus more on spreading the word, especially helping the poor and marginalized.
President Obama wrapped up his visit to California with a stop at Dreamworks Animation where he bumped elbows with Steve Martin. The comedian and actor explained that he had a cold and didn't want to give the president his germs. Later, President Obama told entertainment industry leaders that they have a responsibility in the gun debate when it comes to onscreen violence.
ACOSTA (on-camera): Next, chilling new details of the Newtown school massacre underscore what some are calling a mental health crisis in the U.S., and it sounds like one of the movies, a top Hollywood producer admits to a secret life as a spy.
ACOSTA: We're just learning that a judge has now ordered the release of 911 calls from the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. This just one day after a report revealed chilling new details about the shooter and images from that horrific day. It's all raising larger concerns about mental health in this country and whether it's in crisis. Our Brian Todd is working on this part of the story. Brian, what are you finding out?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRSPONDENT: Well, Jim, experts are telling us they have no doubt that mental health in the U.S. is in crisis. They say that crisis is manifesting itself in rampage killings, other horrific incidents like the Newtown shootings.
A new report, which includes some jarring photographs, addresses the mental health of shooter Adam Lanza.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TODD (voice-over): The shot-out windows of the entrance to Sandy Hook Elementary school. The bushmaster rifle used to kill 20 children and six adults. Newly released bone-chilling images of the crime scene in the Newtown shootings from Connecticut state investigators.
Black plastic bags taped over the windows of his bedroom mirror the dark mind of shooter Adam Lanza. Just off his computer room, there's a gun locker, a gun still perched inside. The new report says Lanza did a spreadsheet on other mass murders, kept a newspaper clipping from an 1891 school shooting.
DORIS FULLER, TREATMENT ADVOCACY CENTER: Adam Lanza is sort of a black box in which we see the crash but we don't really know what happened that led to the crash.
TODD: The report says Lanza had significant mental health issues, but the professionals who saw him did not see anything that would have predicted his future behavior.
JEFF GARDERE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: What may happen is that if you cannot definitively say that that patient is a danger to themselves or others or property, then you don't turn them over to the police.
TODD: This is a tale of two families and their struggles with mental health. The Lanza family, whose efforts to get treatment for their son are unclear, and the family of Virginia state senator Creigh Deeds. Their son, Austin, was evaluated for mental illness. He was released from a hospital a day before he repeatedly stabbed his father and then killed himself. Released because, according to the Rockbridge Area Community Services Board in Virginia, there were no psychiatric beds available.
CNN later learned at least three hospitals in the state had beds. Now, Senator Deeds is lashing out at that board, telling a newspaper, quote, "I feel like they are responsible." Members of that board didn't return our calls or e-mail.
FULLER: If we don't want people to get treatment, we created a great scenario to do that.
TODD: Treatment advocate Doris Fuller says cuts in psychiatric care have been happening for decades. When states closed mental hospitals because of neglect and abuse, she says, they didn't build adequate replacements.
FULLER: Today, we have about 450,000 people with mental illness living in jails and prisons.
TODD (on camera): Why did the United States just cut resources for the mentally ill over the past several decades?
FULLER: Let's look at who those hospitals served. They serve a population that has no voice, a population that does not vote.
(END VIDEOTAPE) TODD: The result, according to Fuller, an increase in rampage shootings and other killings committed by the mentally ill. She says right now, about 10 percent of all homicides in the U.S. are committed by people with untreated mental illness, Jim.
ACOSTA: It's a problem we have to solve. Brian Todd, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
This topic is so critical to the debate over what's causing mass shootings, we wanted to spend more time on this with three men on the front lines of the issue.
Dr. Drew Pinsky -- he's the host of HLN's "Dr. Drew On Call"; Cook County Illinois Sheriff Thomas Dart; and Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, of course, the home state of where the Newtown tragedy occurred.
Gentlemen, thank you very much for your time.
I wanted to ask you first, Dr. Drew, there were so many warning signs for both of these cases that Brian Todd just talked about, the Creigh Deeds case and what happened with his family and what happened in Newtown. But it seems like this happens over and over again, Dr. Drew. We miss the warning signs. The warning signs are missed.
How do we fix that?
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST, HLN'S "DR. DREW ON CALL": Well, I wish I could answer it in just a minute here on your program, but it's a complex issue. We have issues of mental health parity, in that when somebody dies, they don't look at it as a medical problem. So lack of a bed availability is something that contributed in one of these cases.
In the other cases, perhaps there are family members that don't want to acknowledge that somebody has mental illness. Or, what's very common, is caretakers can't require people who are so ill to participate in treatment, even if it means that person will have been made healthier, happier and the community protected.
ACOSTA: And, Senator Blumenthal, we're coming up on the one year anniversary of the Newtown tragedy. A lot of Americans are wondering why hasn't any meaningful legislation been passed to address either the issue of guns or the issue of mental health.
What is the reason behind that?
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: The failure of Congress to address the issue of gun violence prevention is absolutely inexcusable and unconscionable. And I have helped to fight and lead the effort on behalf of commonsense measures, including a mental health initiative that will address the kind of danger that's posed by the Adam Lanzas, who need this kind of outreach and service and diagnosis, but also, commonsense measures like background checks and a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines that were integral to the...
BLUMENTHAL: -- massacre at Sandy Hook. So the...
ACOSTA: And, Sheriff...
BLUMENTHAL: -- the failure to act is inexcusable.
ACOSTA: The failure to act is inexcusable. Sheriff, have the politicians done enough?
SHERIFF THOMAS DART, COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS: No. I mean, this is one of those things where it's, you know, why people don't like government. We all know the scope of the problem. We all know this is something that is going to manifest itself in people getting hurt. And yet, truly, no one is doing anything about it.
I have, today, over 3,000 people in my jail who are mentally ill. At the same time, my police officers are going to doors for people whose rights to own guns and hold them have been revoked, who are severely mentally ill, and yet there's no comprehensive system to do any of this.
So the fact that we have tragedies, unfortunately, is what is occurring because people are doing absolutely nothing, because there is nothing out there.
When they leave my jail, they go right to the street until they wander around and commit new offenses.
In the meantime, they're hanging out in my jail with other criminals.
ACOSTA: And, Drew...
PINSKY: And could I...
ACOSTA: The sheriff...
PINSKY: If I could follow on with that...
Sheriff, if I could follow up PINSKY: I just want to follow that, if you would...
PINSKY: I wouldn't mind.
Let me -- let me follow this on real quick and to say that he is getting right at the core of the issue here, which is that we have tremendous discomfort in this country with interfering with people's rights, even if those rights are infringed upon in such a way as to make them, A, better, and, B, protect the rest of us, we don't want to do it. We don't have a will to do it. And we must be willing to infringe on somebody's rights when it means they're impaired and can't make judgments about their own rights, particularly when it affects the rest of us and it affects the individual in question.
ACOSTA: But, Drew, how does that...
PINSKY: We do how to make them better.
PINSKY: We can help them.
ACOSTA: Right. But how do we do that?
How do we see the warning signs in time to do that?
If you're saying that we need to go that extra step...
PINSKY: -- listen, I'm saying -- I'm saying we're -- we know the warning signs. My profession knows the warning signs. If we have the ability to intervene with force with purpose, even if families object, even if patients object, even if there are not mental health beds available, we have the ability to do that, even though -- we just have great discomfort with this. I -- I really...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
PINSKY: -- think my colleagues here would agree with me on this, that that's where the rubber hits the road. We have to be willing to legislate that we -- we are willing, we have the will to infringe on people's rights when the rest of our rights are at issue here.
ACOSTA: And, Senator Blumenthal, some of that discomfort over at the White House.
Why has the president, a member of your party, not done more on this?
No laws have been passed.
BLUMENTHAL: Well, the...
ACOSTA: No laws have been signed since Newtown.
BLUMENTHAL: Let's be very clear.
First of all, the United States Senate had 55 votes in favor of background checks, a mental health initiative and other commonsense gun violence prevention measures. Keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people, we can all agree, infringes on nobody's rights, neither Second Amendment...
PINSKY: Listen, how can I get the information...
PINSKY: -- on Senator Blumenthal's initiatives if I don't have the right to give the mental health information over to these people because the rights of the individual to privacy prevail...
PINSKY: -- over the gun rights?
BLUMENTHAL: Let me just...
BLUMENTHAL: -- let me just finish this thought.
ACOSTA: -- this issue has come up a lot, Senator.
BLUMENTHAL: Let me just finish this thought.
ACOSTA: How do we -- how do we solve that?
BLUMENTHAL: I think we need to continue to work and fight for these commonsense measures, to keep faith with those 20 beautiful children and six great educators. And this report that was issued brings back all of the pain and grief of that terrible, harrowing day. But it also should reenergize and reinvigorate the movement for these commonsense measures.
People have Second Amendment rights, they have First Amendment rights. There is no need to infringe on them to have commonsense measures that require somebody like Adam Lanza to consider receiving treatment. His family probably needed treatment, as well.
BLUMENTHAL: And also, to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people like felons and drug addicts and people (INAUDIBLE)...
ACOSTA: But Sheriff -- let me...
ACOSTA: -- Sheriff Dart in, because part of the problem is a political issue...
BLUMENTHAL: -- and that requires background checks.
ACOSTA: Right. But part of the problem is a political issue, Senator. And, as you know, because Democrats can't get gun control, they're not going to go down the road of mental health. They want something in exchange for going down the road of mental health, which is what Republicans have been calling for.
I mean, Sheriff Dart, I mean, let me just ask you, what is going to happen, from a law enforcement standpoint, if this issue is not solved?
Does that just mean that your jails are going...
DART: This is...
ACOSTA: -- to keep filling up like insane asylums, as you called them, and we're going to see more mass shootings?
DART: I -- I -- I'm the largest mental health hospital in the State of Illinois, I think the second largest mental health hospital in the country, which is an outrageous embarrassment for our whole country. So start with that.
But when you have people, that I have routinely coming to my jail, because it's the best place and only place they can get mental health treatment, that's a problem.
And when you're looking for the preventive measures that can help us here, if you don't have places for people to go to get treatment, then it can't be on anybody's radar screen that this person should not ever come around a gun, because right now in our state, we are forced to have concealed carry, the last state.
Well, you can't deny someone based on mental health reasons if they're not on anyone's radar screen because they had no place to go for treatment.
So I mean this is one of those things where it couldn't be any more a formula for disaster than what we have now. And it continuously gets worse. And, honestly, I don't think people care.
ACOSTA: Dr. Drew, do people care?
PINSKY: I think -- I -- I mean it's sad to hear the sheriff say that. I mean I think we have an awareness that parity needs to be a priority. People are talking about this.
But the point is, I think where they don't care is they don't care until somebody commits a crime. And they don't understand that that could be...
PINSKY: -- predicted ahead of time and those people could be brought to ser (ph) -- they could be right -- so it's their community could be brought to services and helped earlier that really will make a difference. And people don't know that.
ACOSTA: And, Senator Blumenthal, when you have the anniversary of Sandy Hook coming up for your community, what do you say to the people in your state as to why this has not been fixed, why this issue has not been addressed?
BLUMENTHAL: We need to stand up and speak out against the special interests that have so confused and misrepresented the issue. They've led people to believe that we want to take away people's guns. Absolutely not. People have a Second Amendment right to guns.
What I say to those families is that we will keep faith. I was there on the day of the shooting at the Sandy Hook Firehouse. And I will never forget the sights and sounds of that day -- parents coming out of that firehouse and knowing that their loved ones would not be coming home. Nor will I forget the comment that I heard today, the message that I saw from one of the loved ones of the victims who said, I just saw a picture of the gun that killed my sister.
So people do care. And I believe that 90 percent of the Americans want these commonsense measures. And we need, very simply, to make democracy work. I believe it can be done. And with the help of the president and the leadership of the Senate and the Congress, I think we will get it done.
ACOSTA: All right.
Senator Blumenthal, Sheriff Dart in Illinois and Dr. Drew, thank you very much for joining us.
Of course, Dr. Drew will be on HLN later on tonight, at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
Thank you, all of you, for that lively discussion on a very important issue. It does not get enough attention, and so we appreciate your time in talking about it tonight.
Thank you very much, gentlemen.
Just ahead, controversial remarks cost Alec Baldwin his MSNBC job, but the network kept another host who made what Sarah Palin called vile remarks about her. Is there a double standard at play?
ACOSTA: Shocking fallout on "60 Minutes" after a flawed report about the deadly attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya last year.
Let's talk about that and more with CNN senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES." He's just joined the CNN team, Brian Stelter.
Brian, thanks for joining us. You've read this report --
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Thank you.
ACOSTA: -- about what happened at "60 Minutes" and the Benghazi story. What red flags did they talk about in that report?
STELTER: Well, there were several mistakes that were made along the way. And that's why the head of Standards and Practices at CBS basically said this afternoon that the whole report was deficient. For one thing, they were working over in their own "60 Minutes" area and they didn't talk to their other colleagues at CBS who could have helped them figure out that this main source's background, you know, was very suspicious. And that he had told the government one thing and told "60 Minutes" another thing.
Those contradictions are the main reasons why this report's now been discredited. And it seems that CBS failed to do that investigating beforehand.
You know, that's basic fact-checking 101. The kind of thing that "60 Minutes" is known for doing every week. But in this rare case, they -- they fell -- came up short.
ACOSTA: And of course all news organizations make mistakes. I think the key in all of this is to own those mistakes.
ACOSTA: Live up to them. Own up to them and try to live by the lessons learned.
STELTER: That's right.
ACOSTA: Lara Logan and her producer, they've taken a leave of absence. What does that mean? Do we think they're going to come back?
STELTER: I do fully expect both of them to be back at CBS and expect Lara Logan be back on the air at some point. It's unclear what exactly this leave of absence is. Is it paid? Is it unpaid? Is it a suspension with their not quite so severe name?
CBS isn't saying. They are just putting out this report and trying to get away for the long Thanksgiving holiday, to be frank. But we'll see how long she's away for. And when she comes back, what kinds of stories will she be covering? It might be awkward, for example, to assign her to another very controversial political and military topic.
She might have to wait a while before coming back to those stories. At the end of the day, it's all about reputation. And "60 Minutes" and Lara Logan suffered a blow to both their and her reputation. But I do believe the show can recover from that overtime. Like you said, it's about owning up to those mistakes and CBS did a good thing today by releasing this report and trying, at least in part, to explain what happened.
ACOSTA: And what about MSNBC' and Alec Baldwin? They parted ways. There seems sort of like an ugly breakup. That really -- in a relationship that just got going. I think he was only a couple of shows in and then this big incident happened with this photographer. Was he forced out? What do you know?
STELTER: It seems like both CBS and MSNBC today tried to dump some bad news before the holiday. Typical move, you know, for a government, but it's kind of fine to see two television networks doing it. You know, I think this might have been a case where Alec Baldwin jumps before he was pushed. There was a report in the "New York Post" today that he was fired. Others have pushed back. MSNBC said this was a mutual thing. I think the reality is that this show was probably doomed from the get-go. Alec Baldwin is the kind of guy that gets in these scrapes. He's done it before, I'm sure it will happen again. He and the paparazzi have this relationship that makes this seemed inevitable.
But, you know, it ends up being a black eye for MSNBC and I'm pretty sure they won't go trying to hire another entertainer any time soon.
ACOSTA: All right. Brian Stelter, our new CNN senior media correspondent. He's got a target rich environment to cover.
Brian Stelter, welcome to CNN. Thanks for your time. We appreciate it.
STELTER: Thank you.
ACOSTA: All right. Good talking to you.
ACOSTA: Coming up at the top of the hour, one-third of Americans threatened by a powerful storm which could make for a holiday hell. We'll have the latest on the forecast and major travel delays in effect just ahead.
Plus "Hunger Games." The White House is pitting turkey against turkey in an online gobble-off. You know, Katniss Everdeen would probably be proud of this next segment. It's coming up next.
ACOSTA: Presidential turkey pardoning has turned into a real-life "Hunger Games."
Here's Jeanne Moss.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What did one clumsy turkey say to the other at a Washington photo opportunity? Pardon me.
There they were in the ballroom of the posh Willard Hotel. Amid dangling chandeliers their snoods dangled as the press tried to get them to talk.
It's Caramel versus Popcorn. The White House is running a contest asking people to vote on which should be the National Thanksgiving Turkey. Some are comparing it to the "Hunger Games."
JENNIFER LAWRENCE, ACTRESS, "HUNGER GAMES": There's 24 of us. Only one comes out.
MOOS: But in this case, both come out alive. But only one gets the presidential pardon publicly.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You are hereby pardoned.
MOOS: The other is an alternate.
(On camera): Our money is on Popcorn. Plumper. With a more robust gobble.
(Voice-over): Caramel and Popcorn join other illustrious duos.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: Pumpkin and Pecan. Biscuits. Gravy.
OBAMA: Cobbler and Gobbler.
BUSH: Flyer and Fryer.
MOOS: Caramel and Popcorn come from a Minnesota farm where 20 finalists were trained in this cottage. John Burkel practiced lifting them onto this table so they wouldn't do this when their big day came. But Popcorn and Caramel seemed more relaxed than their human owners.
The kids taught the photographers to whistle and trill to get the turkeys to gobble.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think you and I speak turkey.
MOOS: The turkeys made the 1500-mile drive to Washington in 27 hours. They've already outlived most of their compatriots.
JOHN BURKEL, RAISED CARAMEL AND POPCORN: Truth is, on my farm, I've never raised them past 14 weeks. Because we eat them.
MOOS: Occasionally a pardoned bird gets peckish. Pardon-in-chief expresses ambivalence.
OBAMA: Thanks to the interventions of Malia and Sasha, because I was planning to eat this sucker.
MOOS (on camera): And then there was the turkey that didn't get pardoned, the one that met his demise behind Sarah Palin's back.
(Voice-over): It happened as she was giving an interview at a turkey farm shortly after she and John McCain were defeated. We'll spare you the gruesome part.
SARAH PALIN, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Well, this was -- this was neat.
MOOS: The people will decide whether Popcorn or Caramel gets the glory this year. At least this government Web site is working. It's no turkey.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.