Return to Transcripts main page


A New Cold War?; Duke University's Freshman Porn Star; Father of Slain Vet Who Sued Westboro Baptist Comes Out; CNN Hero Helps Teen Girls; Obama Misspells "Respect"

Aired March 7, 2014 - 15:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Bottom of the hour, you are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin, talking about the Ukraine here.

How much did the U.S. Know about Russia's exceptions to storm Ukraine's Crimean peninsula and when did they know it?

New intelligence from the head of the defense intelligence agency, suggesting the U.S. Knew about Russia's takeover plans as many as 10 days before this happened.

CNN has also learned that Ukrainian officials believe 30,000 Russian troops are now there in that small peninsula about the size of Hawaii, but the U.S. says it believes the number is slightly less.

However you slice this, this is a lot of troops, a great number of troops for an area, as I mentioned, roughly the size of Hawaii in Crimea.

Of course, this is just chump change compared to the arsenal that Russia has at its disposal, nearly 775,000 troops compared with Ukraine's 139,000.

And, today, Russia's foreign minster issued a warning to the U.S. That your sanctions against Russia will, quote, "inevitably boomerang."

So, how much of this is bravado and tough talk? Joining me now, Frida Ghitis, world affairs columnist, "Miami Herald" and "World Politics Review." Thank you so much for being here, Frida. I appreciate it.


BALDWIN: Let's begin with the fact that D.C. is very clearly saying this is not a Cold War.

You wrote this CNN op-ed saying -- you used the words "a new Cold War." You cite five lessons for this. Why are you saying this?

GHITIS: I believe that we have ended the post-war era of partnership, of cooperation with Russia, of working together. We have entered a new period that we can see as a sort of a new Cold War. There are big differences with the old Cold War, but now Russia and the United States are on opposite sides. Russia under Vladimir Putin is defining itself, to some degree, in opposition to the West, in opposition to the United States.

So, it's a new chapter in the relationship, and it's more reminiscent of the Cold War than what we had more recently.

BALDWIN: So, is this a matter of Putin just wanting -- we were talking before about it being strategic versus nostalgia.

Clearly his pride is on the line, and he wants to gather up as many bits and pieces of countries to make his presence more felt around the world.

GHITIS: Putin has a vision of bringing the strength of Russia closer to its old glory, and that involves having a system in which Moscow is at the center of a bloc that involves much more than Russia.

It's kind of a partnership with the countries that used to be part of the Soviet Union, but are nominally independent.

And one of the things he wanted to do here is not let a country as important as Ukraine drift away from Moscow's orbit, so one of the things that he has done here is he has sent a lesson to any other country in the region that might be considering drifting towards Europe that they cannot do that without consequences.

BALDWIN: Such as?

GHITIS: It's a lesson -- by the way, it's a lesson not just to those countries, but it's a lesson to Europe and to the United States that he is not going to allow them to entice those countries.

So, you have all the republics that used to be part of the Soviet Union, pondering their future. It's a big transformation. It's a big change to go from the old communist days to a new world of competition, of free markets, of less support for social welfare and to try to make your way in that world.

They are seeing what's happening in the old Eastern European countries. People are lured to that.

BALDWIN: I hear the message and perhaps the fear among some of those countries that, once, you know, had become their own nations.

But, just quickly, what kind of message -- how do you cut off a man such as Vladimir Putin from doing this?

GHITIS: He has already sent that message. In that sense --

BALDWIN: The momentum is there.

GHITIS: In that sense, he has already won. He has already achieved one of his goals, to send that message, so that is done. Now the question is how far? We don't know how this is going to end. We don't know how far he is going to go. We don't know how much more of Ukraine he is thinking about taking.

We also don't know what the Crimean experience is going to say to other regions of Ukraine, to other regions of the former Soviet Union that might want to declare independence or separate from the country that they are in now, join Russia.

So, we don't know how far it's going to go. The United States and Europe need to find a way to make it at least stop at this point.

BALDWIN: That's the million dollar question, how exactly they do that. Frida Ghitis, read her op-ed, opinion page, on this new Cold War.

Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

A student at Duke turns to pornography. And the reason? Duke is not cheap. Pay that tuition.

She was in hiding in shadows until now. She did an on-camera interview with CNN and calls her critics hypocrites.

You will see and hear from her, next.


BALDWIN: Duke University's porn star exposed her face and thoughts exclusively to CNN's Piers Morgan.

"Belle Knox," this is her industry name, if you will. She is a Duke University freshman who does porn to help pay for the school's $60,000 a year tuition.

Now, Knox told Piers she was surprised by all the online backlash after she wrote about how porn empowers her.


"BELLE KNOX", DUKE UNIVERSITY STUDENT AND PORN ACTRESS: We are told not to show our bodies and it's true for women and to be in porn and to be naked and free and have that sexual autonomy is so incredibly freeing.

PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST, "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT": There will be lots of people watching who will be feigning outrage and looking at porn regularly themselves.

Is there a hypocrisy over the way people treat porn in America?

"KNOX": Absolutely. I think 80 percent of the world's traffic on the Internet is pornography, and I think that probably every person at some point in their life has watched pornography.

So, I think it is extremely hypocritical that the same industry -- or the same society that consumes me is also condemning me.

What I regret and I would advise any other girl who's thinking of entering this industry the same thing, I regret not telling my family from the get-go. I think that was the really big mistake.

I think that I really kind of isolated myself by not telling them. And I think that not telling your family when you're doing sex-work, it's a very isolating experience.


BALDWIN: That is just a piece of their conversation.

By the way, if you are curious, Knox chose her porn star name from the title character in the Disney animated film, "Beauty and the Beast," and for the accused killer, Amanda Knox.

So, let's chat about this, shall we? Psychologist Wendy Walsh and Andrea Garcia-Vargas, columnist at PolicyMic. Ladies, welcome.


BALDWIN: OK, so, let me just kick this off by saying, listen, I first read about this in the Duke newspaper, read her thoughts. She felt very support and excited and empowered by doing porn.

I was with her until she talked about how she would lie to her parents, and I was just wondering, if she feels so empowered, why is she telling her parents she's taking extra exams at Duke and is, instead, flying to L.A. to do porn?

Andrea, let me start with you, because you wrote the piece about this young woman. You say, listen, I am a woman. I watch porn. I support this young woman.

Give me the top reason why.

ANDREA GARCIA-VARGAS, COLMNIST, POLICYMIC: My top reason? I can't think of anything wrong with porn to begin with. I watch it and I enjoy it.

I actually watch Belle Knox's own porn, and there is a variety of it, but in general, I enjoyed it.

I think there are problems with the porn industry, but that doesn't mean she deserved any of the harassment. I don't think that means that the porn industry needs to end. It just needs to be reformed.

And, if she is trying to pay for her Duke tuition, I honestly can't see anything wrong with that, especially getting up to $1,200 a scene, which that is big money.

You know, if you can make money, rake it in like that, I don't see anything wrong with it.

BALDWIN: It's not nothing, as they say. Wendy, we talked earlier. I know you have multiple disagreements with this. And I have to say, when I first finally saw her face, my first impression was like, My goodness, she is so young.

And you say she is too young to be making these kinds of decisions.

WALSH: She just turned 18, and if it's true that she already made 12 films, I question the legality of some of her shoots. Maybe they happened a little earlier than we suspect. So that disturbs me.

Also, I don't think an 18-year-old should be allowed to make any decision, except maybe to order from a menu, because the developing brain takes a while to catch up.

But let me go back to what you just said, Andrea, about it empowering women, $1200 a scene. Honey, the porn industry is owned by men. It's not female power. It's not female freedom until women own the business.

So, I understand your saying reform, but in the meantime, women adopting a male model of sexuality and calling it female sexual freedom is hurting a lot of women.

BALDWIN: Andrea, I want to you respond, but first, you know, she is making this money apparently to pay for Duke.

And I'm just going to play one more clip. This is when she's talking about exactly how much she gets paid.


"KNOX": I can make about $1,200 each scene.

MORGAN: Which is a lot more than you can get if you were working as a waitress in North Carolina, for example.

"KNOX": Absolutely.


BALDWIN: If she is making all this money and she says she feels so empowered, Andrea, then, if it were you, why not say, Here I am, hear me roar, I do porn and this is my face, very early on?

GARCIA-VARGAS: I think the porn is so stigmatized when -- I think -- I don't think the news focused on how terrible the harassment "Belle Knox" received was. It was terrible.

I was going through so many anonymous Internet forums who were calling her a slut, even worse than that, asking for her to be raped, asking for her to die.

And I even saw one forum where they revealed her Duke e-mail. That's how I was able to get in touch with her, because they revealed her Duke e-mail. They even revealed her father's e-mail. They revealed so many of her other relatives' phone numbers. BALDWIN: But she was recognized, and I just have to wonder, if she has this alter ego persona, as she describes, and if she is walking around and attending classes at Duke, is she really thinking?

There a lot of very healthy men at Duke, and I imagine they are on the Internet, and was she really thinking someone was not going to recognize her?


GARCIA-VARGAS: Agree with that. She should have thought about that more.

If I were to chose to do porn, that would definitely be a huge issue on my mind, say, if someone recognized me or if my parents would find out about it. I think she could have thought about that more.

But, that said, I don't think any other harassment that happened was excusable at all.

BALDWIN: Wendy, I want to hear your voice.

WALSH: I want to explain, though -- I want to explain why porn is stigmatized in mainstream culture, because so much of porn that exists today, again because women don't own it and really don't have the power and it's something that caters to men's fantasies, is filled with misogyny. It's filled with violence against women.

And, really, I understand, Andrea, that you watch porn, but you are part of a small percentage of women. Less than 15 percent of women watch porn, and those that do say they usually do it to comply with their boyfriends or husbands. And they're usually filled with male fantasies, not female fantasies.

So, if you want to talk about female sexual freedom, you have to understand the different biologies that men and women have. Women's biology, its unique biological make-up makes us more susceptible to an STD, more susceptible to a broken heart because of oxytocin-effect, and more susceptible to catching an 18-year case of parenthood.

So, if we are going to play with the big boys, we better really understand our biology before we get into the game.

BALDWIN: And own the industry is what I'm hearing, you say, Wendy Walsh.

We have to leave it there, ladies, but we'll have another conversation another day, I have no doubt.

Wendy Walsh and Andrea Garcia-Vargas, thank you both so much for you're your perspectives.

WALSH: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Coming up, it's a conservative conference that features some potential, possible presidential candidates, one of them, Senator Rand Paul.

What was he wearing? Actually had a lot of people talking. Blue jeans. Kind of cas'. And he also had a conservative crowd laughing.

Hear what he said that led to the lighter moments.


BALDWIN: Welcome back, want to bring in our newest member of the family. Michael Smerconish.

And Michael and I were going to chat about CPAC, I just want to switch gears, Michael, because I really wanted to get to this heartfelt story you broke because it's about a father who was fighting, not just one, but two battles at once, one being the right to keep his son's memory peaceful and taking the Westboro Baptist Church to court.

Tell me about him.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST, "SMERCONISH": We all got to know Al Snyder, the father of Matthew Snyder. We lost Matthew Snyder in a one- car Humvee accident in Iraq in 2006.

You know the rest of that story. Westboro Baptist showed up at the funeral in Maryland with ugly signs and when they posted online about the way he raised his son, he and his wife raised his son.

Dad had enough, filed a lawsuit and was successful at a trial court level, and then in an appellate battle, went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States.

And, Brooke, all the while, dad was keeping a secret, the secret being, he himself is gay.

And so now several years removed, he feels comfortable in telling the story. He wants the world to know.

He feels as if it's a tribute to his partner whom he has since lost because his partner was so steadfast in his support over that time, a bit of irony that the man who went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States, himself gay.

BALDWIN: Was gay.

Let me just quote a letter he sent home and I suppose he shared with you. This is from his son.

"I'm loving the martial arts we learned. The fleas are horrible, you can't smack them off or you'll be doing a lot of push-ups. Tell Walt hi and to read this if he wants. I love you."

Tell me more about these letters.

SMERCONISH: Matthew Snyder was writing from basic training in South Carolina, and the point is, he was totally cool with dad's choice.

He was in the loop. He knew it. He had embraced the relationship in which his father was now comfortable. And it was just fine with him.

And, frequently, when he would write whether it was from an overseas deployment or during the course of basic training, he would be sure to say to dad, extend greetings to Mr. Walt. with whom Al Snyder had more than a decade-long relationship.

BALDWIN: I cannot wait to watch the interview.


BALDWIN: We're watching tomorrow morning 9:00 a.m. Eastern here on CNN. True big heartfelt. Michael, welcome to the CNN family.

SMERCONISH: Thank you so much for saying that.

BALDWIN: Coming up next, the power of a girl and her pen, meet our CNN Hero, next.


BALDWIN: In the Los Angeles public school system, nearly one in five kids drops out before graduation.

But this week's CNN Hero is helping teenage girls there with this, a pen.

Here is Keren Taylor.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I blossom with each pen mark.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I found myself in the words. Every girl has a story to tell.

KEREN TAYLOR, CNN HERO: Some of our girls are facing some of the greatest challenges teenagers could ever face. Pregnancy, incarceration, violence in their family at their school. Those girls need a mentor. They need to be inspired about their own voice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Life in the light can be so bright, as it can be so pure.

TAYLOR: Writing and self-expression can give them a tool for moving forward.

Say something nobody else has said before. Because you have your own way of saying things.

We match underserved girls with professional women writers for mentoring and group workshops.

I want to match you, Krista (ph) with Kristi (ph).

And the moment you ask a young person, tell me about something you're passionate about, the writing and the ideas just flow. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know you're going to read today?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was kind of scared. Like I'm really quiet and I keep to myself. I met Emily and she's excited and enthusiastic about writing and I absolutely love her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Writing gave me that position in my life, I'm a girl and I have a story to tell.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Their senses are diluted by the sparkling things that cross their eyes. Thank you.

TAYLOR: We need to help girls see that their voice matters.

You've got a lot of good stuff here, and what I would like to hear more about is about you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To give tools to be able to be positive and thrive and rise above whatever challenges she's facing, what's better than that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALES (in unison): Never underestimate the power of a girl and her pen.


BALDWIN: I bet you know some pretty awesome people, as well. We'd love to have you nominate someone to be a CNN Hero. Really simple, just go to

And before I go, have you seen this?


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When Aretha first told us what R-S-P-E-C-T meant to her --


BALDWIN: Mr. President, I think it was R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Obviously, he got it. He was taping a PBS special honoring the legendary Aretha Franklin, Patti Labelle.

He called the 1967 song a "rallying cry" for women, African-Americans and everyone else who felt marginalized at the time.

And that's it for me. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me. Have wonderful weekends.

Let's send it to my pal, Jake Tapper. "THE LEAD" starts right now.