Return to Transcripts main page


Last Minute Obamacare Change; Defrocked Over Same-Sex Wedding; "Transformers" Star A Copycat?

Aired December 20, 2013 - 07:30   ET


JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The uncertainty ends, they can find a plan. But you have Republicans saying, wait a minute, Mr. President, you are now breaking your own rules, your own ambitions for Obamacare because this is a cut rate plan. It doesn't have all the benefits that the president had said. The whole goal of Obamacare was to get people into more comprehensive plans with better benefits.

So the debate continues here. It does give those people an option to pick a plan and pick a plan quickly. The question is will they like it when they get there? Republicans are saying it's proof the program is a failure because you have to do this subpar plan essentially.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Going one step further, is there a political element to this? This is something that Democrats who are in tough re-election battles that they have been asking for recently. Now they can go home and say we got it done.

KING: Exactly right. If you look at the list of senators that sent the president the letter, you have several on there who are up for re- election. We've talked about this before. Once the president opened this gate, the Republicans -- I'm not saying the criticism is off. That's for the voters to decide, people to decide. The Republican criticism is sort of predictable.

So my big thing on this is follow the Democrats to see if the president can turn their anxiety down and this is one step that helps him. It's not enough. There will be more questions, trust me.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: So John, what's the deal with the numbers? The numbers are up in enrolment. We're not hearing about it. Tell us about the numbers and tell us why I'm not hearing about it.

KING: Well, one of the reasons you're not hearing about it is essentially you have different state exchanges. If you're in California you're covering this. If you're in Kentucky maybe you're covering this. So what happened yesterday is the state officials all got together and did a conference call with reporters. They say there is good news. There is some momentum out there.

The state of Kentucky going from about 1,000 people a day signing up to 3,000 people. California doubling from 7,000 in the ballpark of 15,000 so the states are saying that as more word gets out, some of that word out, because of the controversies, let's be honest, that people do see the January deadline approaching and they are starting to sign up. Are the numbers where they wanted them to be? In most places with be no. California is probably the biggest success story. State officials say they have seen a surge and are hoping it's like the snow ball down the hill, it will continue.

BOLDUAN: Yes, and 30 percent to 40 percent surge in just the past week for some.

KING: Right.

BOLDUAN: So we'll see, we'll obviously see where that goes, got to get your take on the "Duck Dynasty" controversy. Not the kind of commentary on society and how we approach social issues and people's take on that but I've been surprised by seeing politicians coming out, really rallying around Phil Robertson. We don't often see politicians coming to rally around reality TV show stars.

KING: No, but in an odd way this has become the new test in the culture wars, if you will. Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana where this family lives. He's thinking about running for president. He rushed the out a statement saying where was the condemnation of Miley Cyrus if you're going to do this to Robertson here. Sarah Palin chimed in.

It will be a question about what's in and what's out, if you will. If you're talking about whether it's part of your faith or personal views about homosexuality, about race. Once the politicians start these conversations, the question is it can be dangerous to continue them especially if you have people thinking of running for higher office. It could come up down the road again.

BOLDUAN: Good point.

CUOMO: Governor Jindal and everybody else, did he say whether or not he agrees with what Phil Robertson says? He kind of parsed it.

KING: He kind of did. He said that he sees a lot of things on television and magazines that outrage him, but he didn't specifically say these remarks --

CUOMO: That's a problem with his dialect. I'm in favor of the dialogue. I think the conversation is a good one to have, but these politicians weigh in, cherry pick, first amendment. They often can distort. Don't you think they should be held to accountability, do you agree with what he said or not? As politicians, shouldn't they have to answer?

KING: Yes. If they want to step into the quick sand, then they have to prove they can get out of it. It's our job to ask those questions. It's our job to say governor, come on in, be fair to him, don't give him 2 minutes. Give him four or five, whatever it takes. Ask him the questions. If he doesn't answer them, call him on them.

BOLDUAN: And you make a great point, John, when you weigh in to something like this and if you have aspirations for higher office, you can expect that something like, a hot button issue will be brought up again. I can see this easily coming up in a presidential debate later.

KING: As I like to say, if you want the nuclear football, there is no bad question.

BOLDUAN: Exactly. Some people will attack you for asking a bad question, but we all know that history proves right.

KING: Been there.

BOLDUAN: Love you, John. See you later.

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, more on the "Duck Dynasty" controversy. Why is it only right wing politicians saying that "Duck Dynasty" stars are protected by free speech? We'll have radio host, Michael Medved on. He talks about why he thinks the suspension is wrong and what he thinks should happen next.

BOLDUAN: Could a courtroom drama be actor, Shia Labeouf's next project? He may be facing plagiarism for a short film that he made. We'll have the latest.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. A Methodist pastor has been defrocked by church officials in Pennsylvania. Why? Because he officiated his own son's same-sex wedding, but the pastor is standing his ground, supporting his son and his decision to perform the vows.

Pastor Frank Schaeffer is joining us this morning to talk more about this, about the decision and the fallout if you will. Pastor Frank, thank you so much for coming in.


BOLDUAN: Of course, you well know same-sex marriage is forbidden in Methodist Church doctrine. How did you reach the decision to perform the vows for your son at his wedding? Did you see this coming?

SCHAEFER: Actually, I did. It was back in 2007 and it was really an act of love for my son. My son had been struggling with suicidal thoughts in his teens and when he finally came out to us, we affirmed, my wife and I, there is nothing wrong with you. This is the way you were created. Obviously you didn't choose this. He prayed to God to make him, quote, unquote, "normal."

And when that didn't happen, you know, he really went through this crisis. So for me to say no to him when he asked me, dad, would you do my wedding? It would have denied everything we told him in terms of affirmation and love that we gave him. So I just couldn't do that and I didn't want to do it. So I knew I was in trouble with my church doctrine. And I did actually tell my superiors about it, didn't hear a thing until earlier this year. So it took six years before somebody filed a complaint.

PEREIRA: Why do you think it took so long? SCHAEFER: Because I think many in the United Methodist Church, including bishops and district superintendents, are actually on the right side of the issue, that what I call the right side of the issue for the LGBT community and so, sometimes action is not taken, you know. People look the other way.

CUOMO: Is that true? Is there a rule in your particular branch of the church as to whether or not it's OK for same-sex marriage to occur?

SCHAEFER: Actually, there are entire conferences in the United Methodist Church, mostly on the west coast, that actually are reconciling -- they call themselves reconciling. If a complaint like this is filed that was filed against me, they ignore it.

CUOMO: So it's community by community and in your particular community is there any rule?

SCHAEFER: No, unfortunately not. So that's why this -- my complaint actually went to a trial.

BOLDUAN: And so you were just defrocked.


BOLDUAN: When you said you knew you were going to be in trouble with the church. But when that happened, when that final decision came, that you were going to be defrocked, what did you feel? What did you think? What was the reaction?

SCHAEFER: Actually, I was in shock. I didn't realize it right away, but my wife told me in the car, she said look at your hand. I was shaking. It hit me harder than I thought. Six, seven years ago I was ready to give up my career for my son. I never thought this would ever come back after that long of a time. So I went on to ministering and I'm a pretty effective minister. And so I never thought that it would come to this, especially not to the kind of attention that this has gotten nationwide.

PEREIRA: So I'm curious, because you have the people of your church in the very community, in the town you live. What has the reaction been from inside your family since the defrocking? And what is your son saying?

SCHAEFER: Well, he actually went on record to say yesterday in an interview that he feels partially responsible and that's probably true, and I feel bad for him. I always tell him, don't feel guilty about this. This has nothing to do with you. This is based on the exclusionary policies of the church. That's what causes this. You know? We just have to stop the discrimination in the church. We have to stop treating some people like they're second-class citizens or Christians.

BOLDUAN: Is this an evolution in your belief, in your own thinking since your son came out? How did you feel towards same-sex marriage before knowing your son was gay? SCHAEFER: It's been a long evolution in my case. I at one point also believed that homosexuality is a sin as a young man. When I went through seminary, I already started to change my views. I learned about different interpretations that some theologians had about these passages in the bible that talk about homosexuality. By the time my son came out I would describe myself as tolerant. I wasn't a supporter. I became a silent supporter for my son, once the complaint was filed, you know, I just couldn't lie.

I had to tell everybody how I really thought about the issue and sure enough, it divided my local church. There's been some pain there and division, there's a lot of support but there are also a lot of people that are on the other side of the issue. It's been a painful process that really went through my church of separation, even went through from families and friendships were broken and all that. It's heart breaking to see that.

CUOMO: What do you do? Law changes and law can create change in society, but religion doesn't have to change. Religion has its own rules. Religion does not have to recognize same-sex marriage. Do you fight the fight within your own, even though you're defrocked or find a new community that is accepting of what you now believe.

SCHAEFER: Well, laws change in the church, too. Doctrine does change. At one point in our discipline we had stipulations that supported slavery or were against ordaining women in the ministry. Now we have women as pastors, even bishops. My own bishop is Peggy Johnson. So I would like to stay within the Methodist church if given a chance to work for change.

I always tell people the example if you live in a state as a homosexual person that does not have gay marriage rights, don't move out of your state to another state where it's allowed. You don't leave your family, your job, your house, your career, your friends. You try to work for change from within. That's what I'm trying to do within my church.

BOLDUAN: Pastor Frank, it's been wonderful having you on. Thank you so much for joining this discussion. Thank you for all that you do.

SCHAEFER: Thanks so much.

PEREIRA: Best of the holiday season to you.

SCHAEFER: To you, too. Merry Christmas.

BOLDUAN: Merry Christmas. Join us and let us know what you think. Tweet us with the #newday.

CUOMO: Head over to Indra now with a check of what's going on. There's a lot of bad news out there coming, Indra. Where do we see it, where might it change?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: A lot of bad timing. We're watching several storms again making their way across the country. The first one affecting many people, this is the baby storm. We have freezing rain reports, looking from Michigan back through Missouri. The light rain spreading into the northeast, pretty weak, it's dissipating. This is not the one we're focusing on.

It's the lower one to the south. The key here is the moisture fuelling into the southeast. Here comes that low in the same region. It adds to all that moisture, flooding concerns with heavy rain, 3 inches to 5 inches from the Ohio Valley back through the Mississippi Calley. You're looking at more freezing potential with freezing rain and snow, especially as it makes its way farther north. Heavy snow especially off at the lakes, through madison and portions of Iowa.

And that same system makes its way into the northeast where we have icing concerns. This is really Saturday night in through Sunday. We're talking heavy amounts of icing. This could be another major ice storm, potentially an inch here in upstate New York, up through Maine. We talk about that half an inch threshold. That's what takes the power lines down.

The other side of this, record-breaking temperatures, the temperatures are expected to soar, especially on the east coast. Notice the 70s, almost 30 degrees above normal. So that's going to be a concern there, again, that same system farther to the south with the warm air and moisture. You have a moderate risk in through tomorrow, Memphis back through Louisiana, looking at a moderate risk.

That means heavy potential for tornadoes. The one thing I'm trying to pick out, there's a lot going on, the biggest concern is going to be the moderate risk on Saturday and the icing in upstate New York. Those are the two you want to focus on.

CUOMO: When do the locusts come?

PETERSONS: After that, right?

PEREIRA: Sorry. That just tickled my funny bone.

BOLDUAN: Locusts are no joking matter. What, locusts? Thanks, Indra.


CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, he apologized for lifting the idea for his short film. Now actor Shia Labeouf could have a whole lot more to worry about. We'll be right back with the actor's possible legal trouble.


PEREIRA: Had to let that play for a second, that was a good one. Welcome back. "Transformer" star Shyia Labeouf could be facing legal trouble. He admitted to borrowing a graphic novelist work for a shot film. Howard -- I can't read that properly.


PEREIRA: And failing to credit the author. The novelist is pursuing his legal options. Labeouf has taken to twitter all week long. Turns out though, here is the irony, the apologies may be plagiarized as well. Entertainment correspondent --

CUOMO: Nigella Lawson.

PEREIRA: I was going to call you -- Nischelle Turner.


PEREIRA: She has other issues. Let's talk about this, I want to show you the graphic novel in question that started this whole thing.

TURNER: This gets weirder and weirder as we go along. Shia Labeouf great young actor in Hollywood, a promising career but also made this short film, right? In this short film, it appears as the author's publisher says that he plagiarized the author's work, so let's look at this. Let's look at a side by side of the comic book and the --

CUOMO: Easy as the Def Lepard one directional or harder?

TURNER: This is almost -- we made this special graphic. You can see the sound from Shia Labeouf's short film "In A Box" next to the words from the author from the comic book. Can we look at this?

CUOMO: -- so perfectly gets we're all aliens to each other. We never have any meaningful contact with each other because we're caught up in our little self-made realities.

TURNER: Can you read the same thing word for word? The publisher said he changed the name of the main character, but he took the words word for word to the story board, used the same storyboard so he says it's almost as baffling as it is appalling, that's coming from the author's publisher. Shia could be in legal trouble here. They haven't come out and said they were going to sue him, but they are looking at their legal options and he came out and like you said he's been tweeting this like string of apologies, but I want to show you this real quick.

One of the apologies that he said on Tuesday was this, he tweeted "I sincerely apologize for my lapse in judgment and take full responsibility for my actions which were my alone." That's great, right?

Rewind back to '09, shepherd fairy made the iconic "Hope" Obama poster in 2008. He came out he borrowed that picture from the AP. Here is the apology that he gave to them in 2009. "I sincerely apologize for my lapse in judgment and I take full responsibility for my actions, which were mine alone."

CUOMO: This is different from the underlying charge. That is common apology speak.

TURNER: Those words?

CUOMO: There's a vocabulary apology. Even if it was, doesn't count.

BOLDUAN: The first is the bigger problem.

TURNER: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Nischelle.

TURNER: You're welcome.

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, hitting the road on the skies, well, before you enjoy your white Christmas and it may be that, you may have to endure a travel nightmare.

BOLDUAN: Also ahead, a school bus full of kids heading into a ditch until two teachers step up and save the day. It was caught on video and we're going to show it to you when NEW DAY continues.


CUOMO: Holiday havoc, another big storm bearing down on the eastern half of the country. What will happen to travel and shopping where you are?

BOLDUAN: The Congressman stirring controversy suggesting poor children should do janitorial work to get supplemented lunches. He'll join us live.

PEREIRA: Dangerous mission, astronauts aboard the International Space Station get ready to step out into the void, how dangerous is their space walk and how is it a makeshift snorkel may save the day?

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY continues right now.

BOLDUAN: Good morning, welcome back. It's Friday, December 20th, 8:00 in the east. Holiday travel may prove to be a nightmare for millions of people this weekend. Check out what's in store for the eastern third of the country, snow, freezing rain in parts of the Midwest and New England, possible tornadoes in the south. Meteorologist Indra Petersons is here to break down what we are looking at this weekend. You have to keep track of quite a lot.

PETERSONS: The way you just said all that sounds like I'm making this --