CNN TALKBACK LIVE
America Speaks Out: Free-for-All Friday
Aired November 23, 2001 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. embraces women's rights in Afghanistan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAREN HUGHES, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: An important part of our war on terrorism to explain to the world the brutality and repressive nature of these terrorists and how they seek to impose their will and destroy something as important as the human dignity of the women and children in Afghanistan.
CHEN: But should women's rights be part of the war on terror, and what about women under other repressive governments?
Also today, another death from inhalation anthrax. Could what they don't know kill you?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
J. PAUL VANCE, CONNECTICUT STATE TROOPER: This morning, the FBI, the CDC, and a hazardous response unit of the FBI have entered the residence of the victim. Their intention this morning is to do an actual grid search.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: And the day after.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a blast. You got to do it. How could you not? It's so much fun!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: Will September 11 change your shopping habits this holiday season? It's free-for-all Friday on TALKBACK LIVE, America Speaks Out.
I don't even know if you can hear me! This is an audience that is really ready to speak out today. Good afternoon. Welcome to TALKBACK LIVE, America Speaks Out. If I can just be heard over the crowd. I'm Joie Chen, thanks for being with us this. This is free-for- all Friday, and it is your chance to get in the fray, but you got to talk fast to get a word in edgewise today, because our panel today is made up of professional talkers. Now, here is who you are up against today. Les Kinsolving, he is a Baltimore's WCBM radio, but you also may recognize him from those daily White House press briefings. We'll talk more about that in a bit, Les.
Also with us today, Leo Terrell, civil rights attorney. He's host of a program on KABC in Los Angeles. With us as well is Lisa Evers. Her show is "Street Soldiers with Lisa Evers" on Hot 97, WQHT, but it's really Hot 97, isn't it, right, Lisa?
LISA EVERS, WQHT RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Yes, it is, Joie.
CHEN: Back in the day, though, she was a woman who brought some style to the guardian angels. And here in Atlanta is Royal Marshall, our friend, who gives listeners the royal treatment on WSB radio. He has got some fans he has brought with him as well.
Let's get things going today! Royal's crew.
Let's get the talk going today. Talk about Afghanistan's women first. First lady Laura Bush led the call for women's rights in a new Afghanistan in last Saturday's radio address. That is now part of the administration's big picture message. Leo, I want to get to you first. It wasn't right for Mrs. Bush to jump in on this issue?
LEO TERRELL, KABC RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well you know, as a civil rights attorney, I'm bothered by it. Now, I support the president's war effort, but Laura Bush is using the plight of the women in Afghanistan for 15 seconds of fame. It's great, Joie, to talk about it, but where is the follow up? It's not like these things have not been occurring for years. And we support these other Middle East countries who have really oppressed women. I don't see any women at the negotiation table.
So OK, Mrs. Bush, you made this comment last week, where is the follow up? I just hope it is not a PR spin just to get Mrs. Bush and Karen Hughes some brownie points for 15 seconds. I want to see the follow up if they are serious.
CHEN: Oh, Leo. I don't know how this audience is going to take that -- 15 seconds of fame to the first lady. I kind of think she's going to get a little bit more than that. Lisa, what about you, the only women on our panel today?
EVERS: Well, Joie, I think it was very heroic of her and very brave of her to speak out on this. Mrs. Bush is extremely popular. Any time a woman, particularly a first lady, speaks out on behalf of women's rights, there are a lot of people who say it's inappropriate, it's wrong...
CHEN: Yeah, there's some history of first ladies getting themselves in a little trouble talking about the issues.
EVERS: Oh, yeah, there is. And I think it was great that she did it, and I think it opened the door, and I think it opened the eyes of a lot of people to what exactly is going on there.
TERRELL: Hello, those problems have been existing for years! Now I want to see Ms. Bush come out and say, we want to do something now and take some assertive action, like having women at the negotiation table for this new country that's going to be built in Afghanistan. I want to see the follow-up. Hey, she didn't tell us anything we didn't know already. And I just hope she is not using the war as an excuse to get this 15 seconds of fame.
CHEN: Let's get Royal in.
ROYAL MARSHALL, WSB RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, I think we have to fight for women's rights when and where we can, and unfortunately right now the situation is such that it is -- and in other parts of the country, in like Saudi Arabia and other countries, the opportunity, the time is not ripe for the first lady to speak out.
As far as what she's doing, she is drawing attention to the matter, which is a good thing for her. I think it is a good thing for us to be aware of what is happening with the women in Afghanistan. And what's wrong with her bringing attention to the issue? I think we need to address the issue, I think women in Afghanistan deserve to have some more fair civil laws in their favor, and as we are talking about forming a government, we need people like the first lady to step up and bring attention to this matter.
Now, you're saying she is not doing enough. I don't know what you want her to do.
TERRELL: ... what's the difference? Why aren't we working on those issues in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran?
MARSHALL: ... and we're going to deal with the problem in Afghanistan where we can. We'll get around to Saudi Arabia, we'll get around to Iran and Iraq, but right now we're dealing with Saudi Arabia (sic).
MARSHALL: So you want everything to be solved in one day!
TERRELL: You're talking about -- OK.
CHEN: He has been holding his tongue up there. Les, the silent voice up in the corner.
LES KINSOLVING, WCBM RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I agree very strongly...
CHEN: You agree?
MARSHALL: That's right, Les.
CHEN: All right, that's it for Les.
KINSOLVING: I agree very strongly with my colleagues from New York and Atlanta. And I think this person from Los Angeles...
TERRELL: He's a civil rights attorney. He's a civil rights -- my name is Leo Terrell, I'm a civil rights attorney.
KINSOLVING: Well, that's lovely.
TERRELL: Thank you.
CHEN: But really, Les, on the issue of whether it is Mrs. Bush's place to go down this road, to bring something something which is now part of the administration's bigger message. Wasn't this supposed to be a war on terrorism, not a war for women's rights?
KINSOLVING: Well, the point is this: The terrorists we're going after have suppressed women's rights, and I think Mrs. Bush did an excellent job. And I'm very sorry -- I wish that we could persuade the Saudi Arabians.
CHEN: Hey, let's get Ken in our audience here on the conversation. Ken is actually here with several women, but he is going to stick his neck out here and talk a little bit about what he thinks about what Mrs. Bush did, and what the administration is saying about women's rights.
KEN: I mean, I agree with what she did. I mean, we are in the millennium. You are not supposed to suppress women. I mean, we're supposed to uplift...
CHEN: That's a good thing for you to say with a bunch of women sitting next to you. But you were also a little bit concerned about the message we are sending to the world.
KEN: I mean, exactly. My thing is, I think sometimes the United States -- I mean, we stick our neck out a little bit too much. And sometimes I think what happens is that we also get bitten back.
CHEN: So maybe this is not the U.S. business to be going and saying what they should do with Afghanistan?
KEN: Well, at least that's my opinion.
MARSHALL: Well, how can we turn a blind eye to the suffering of these women in Afghanistan? We are giving food to them, we're going to feed them, they're starving, but at the same time we're going to say, we're going to allow women to remain trapped inside their homes, we're going to allow doctors, we're going to have conditions where male doctors won't be allowed to work on female patients? This is ridiculous!
As long as we have the opportunity and the season is ripe and the time is right for us to go in there and at least make a statement and make a stand for these women who can't do it very well by themselves, I think we ought to. And we have an obligation in this country to stand up for the moral right of these women to have a little bit freedom. I don't want them to be as equal, but we need to stand up so that at least they'd have a chance.
CHEN: But there are all kinds of countries, Saudi Arabia, our big friend, Kuwait, our big friend. I mean, Leon made some reference. What about these other countries?
MARSHALL: Well, right now, we will deal with them when we get tired of using their oil, OK? When we get tired of using their oil, then we will deal with them, OK?
TERRELL: ... not doing anything right now because we have economic interests in Saudi Arabia.
MARSHALL: That's what I just said.
TERRELL: Those people are harboring terrorists too. So there is a problem with women's civil rights in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran. The time is now...
MARSHALL: Leo, but where do we have troops right now?
KINSOLVING: .... we are going one after another.
CHEN: Let's get John in here.
JOHN: Well, I think it is very idealistic of the fellow from California to think that we can solve all of the problems of the world. I don't think we should be trying to take on all of the problems of the world all the time. But one by one, as we have the opportunity, if we are in Afghanistan doing something, then let's do it right.
TERRELL: OK, OK.
KINSOLVING: Good. Good. Good point! CHEN: The audience is hearing you on that, and by the way, the United States is spending a fair amount of money in the process getting the Northern Alliance into a government there. Guys, we are going to take a break. Everybody, take a little breather. Up next here, can a journalist be a patriot, and more about Les Kinsolving's story. Stand by.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "NOVEMBER 1, 2001")
KINSOLVING: Media research center reported that ABC's Dan Harris admitted that he accepted an invitation from the Taliban to see and film what the Taliban claims are rising civilian casualties, which he admitted was, in his words, an enormous public relations boon to them. Such -- since the media research center notes the Taliban couldn't have picked a network more eager to showcase supposed victims and willing to relay Taliban propaganda.
ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Is there a question here?
KINSOLVING: My question is, do you disagree, or and if so, why do you disagree?
FLEISCHER: Your question was so long, I forgot the premise of it.
KINSOLVING: Oh, Ari, come now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, NOVEMBER 1, 2001)
KINSOLVING: My second one...
FLEISCHER: How can you follow up when I didn't answer your first question?
KINSOLVING: I'm trying again. "The Washington Post" reports -- "Washington Post" reports this morning that Washington's Channel 7, an ABC affiliate, has reversed its decision to bring back Bill Maher's "Politically Incorrect," and quote, "the decision follows criticism by a White House spokesman of Maher's comments that our armed forces missile people are cowards and the terrorists aren't." My question is, has anyone blamed you for your effective comment, or have all of the actions been positive as they should be?
FLEISCHER: Les, I get blamed every day for things I did or did not do or say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: Welcome back to TALKBACK LIVE. Do you know this man? Do you know Les Kinsolving? Who he is? Why does he ask those questions? Why does the White House think of this guy? And why do they let him go into the White House briefing room anyway?
Les, we have to start this segment with you and your unusual place in the White House briefing room. You set off those fireworks when you asked the president's spokesman about "Politically Incorrect's" Bill Maher and his comments suggesting that the suicide attackers might be brave and bombing from the air might be the cowardly act. Les, let's face it. You are not from the traditional White House press corps. What gives with you, anyway?
KINSOLVING: I ask the questions -- I ask the questions that I think ought to be asked, and I will continue to do. I will say this, I remember -- always remember that an evasion is not the absence of an answer. An evasion is a statement, we are not going to be publicly accountable on this issue.
CHEN: So you don't mind actually waltzing with Ari Fleischer on a daily basis? He does not give you an answer, you push some more questions. He doesn't necessarily answer. Doesn't bother you?
KINSOLVING: I do. Here is the point. What we do is we just publicize them on two networks and the other stations that I do commentaries for, and if he wants to evade, then he will evade. But on this one, on this particular question, he did not evade, and he spoke out, and there were three or four liberal columnists who went after him about the Bill Maher thing.
The Bill Maher performance was as bad as Mike Wallace and Peter Jennings who were asked on a PBS show, "You are with the North (UNINTELLIGIBLE) army. You see that they are preparing an ambush that will kill lots of Americans..."
CHEN: I think you have been preparing an ambush for me, Les. All right, all right, now, no reading through this one. I just got to ask. You know, there have been some varying reports about you. Some people suggested that the Clinton administration gave you your White House press pass so they could leave a little legacy for the Bush administration after you.
KINSOLVING: No, they didn't. They did not. They denied me. They denied me a press, and as a matter of fact, Joe Lockhart, the worst of the all nine press secretaries I have ever covered, he had me locked out at the gate three times when I was on my way to an attorney.
CHEN: I cannot imagine that the White House would want to...
CHEN: Can you imagine that, Royal? I mean, a nice guy like Les. Now, Les, I mean, the other rumor about you is that you are a short- timer there, and you won't be there past January. Is that the case?
CHEN: No? OK, OK, just trying to get to the facts, just trying to get to the facts. All right, on this bigger question, Lisa, let's hear from you on this, on this bigger question of the media's responsibility. Les is saying he is asking the tough questions, the questions he thinks need to be answered, whether a spokesmen wants to answer them or not.
EVERS: Joie, he has...
CHEN: I mean, this is a time of war. Maybe we shouldn't be so hard?
EVERS: No, I think -- I think a lot of questions need to be asked, and particularly when we're in such a delicate situation as we are now, and in a potentially dangerous situation. Journalists should be free to ask whatever questions they want.
I work also as a reporter in addition to hosting my talk show. And I think what is more troubling or what is more an area that we need to look at is also the climate in the country right now, that if you question anything that's being done, you are immediately an suspect. What this country stands for is freedom of speech. And even though we may disagree with people, even though many of us feel very patriotic at this particular time, we have to respect another person's right to express their opinion or ask the tough questions.
CHEN: Yeah, even some folks in the audience might want to ask some tough questions. This is Dan from California.
DAN: Yeah, hi. The whole deal with Bill Maher's canceling of the show, I think it's ridiculous. I mean, the show "Politically Incorrect," isn't that what we are talking about? I think the media should be encouraged to press these issues and bring them out to the open.
CHEN: Do you think that, "Politically Incorrect" aside, I mean, that is sort of in the realm of comedy/news, wherever that falls in between. But the folks at the White House press core, aside from Les, seem to follow a pretty strict guideline of how they relate to the spokesman. Certain respect of formality, Les is sort of the anomaly here. Do you think you ought to see more of that, or do you think perhaps the tenor of the times require something different?
DAN: I think -- I don't know if I should speak on the behalf of the entire audience, but I think that the media should be asking these questions, because this is information that we want to know. So I think they are doing a good job and they should be continuing to ask those questions.
CHEN: Thanks goodness for Les. Yeah, Lisa?
KINSOLVING: I'm delighted.
EVERS: And Joie, the bottom line is, anyone is entitled to ask whatever question, and also the White House spokesperson is also entitled not to ask (sic) them. That's the way the game is played.
TERRELL: Joie, you know, what makes this country great, and that's why I'm proud to be a civil rights attorney, is that we have a constitution, we have a First Amendment. And what makes this country different from any other country in the world is that we have a right to challenge our government, and for us not to challenge our government -- especially the press. The press has an obligation to challenge the government's spin on the war, the government's spin on anthrax, the government's spin on airport security, the government's spin on military tribunals.
As a civil rights attorney, I wouldn't even be doing my job if I didn't try to fight for the causes under the First Amendment.
CHEN: I hear you on that. All right, audience, buy that? Yeah? No? Lukewarm? We will talk about this subject some more. Stand by. We will talk a break, and more TALKBACK LIVE after this.
Still ahead, anthrax attacks. Is it homegrown terror? Also, Wall Street's bears may be out of hibernation, but just watch these bullish shoppers charge. Will the economic slowdown spoil the holidays?
CHEN: Welcome back. We are on TALKBACK LIVE, America Speaks Out. America is speaking out on this day. When these folks could all be shopping, they would rather come here and talk to you. Welcome back.
We are going to continue our conversation now about the media and its relationship to what's happening in government, what's happening in the military right now. Matt is in our audience, he is from Oregon, a place where they think pretty freely. But what do you think about the media's role? Is it time to maybe sit on our tongues a little bit?
MATT: Yes, ma'am. I think, you know, the media should take a back seat on what's going on. Instead, you know, of being there when the action happens or, you know, step by step on what happens every day in a combat operation...
MATT: Because the bad guys watch CNN too.
CHEN: Oh, audience?
MATT: Sometimes the bad guys are more informed than we are.
MARSHALL: The bad guys might watch CNN, but they surely can't stop what's happening to them. They can't stop the B-1 bombers, they can't stop the F-16s fighters that are dropping bombs on them, so if they know they're coming, maybe they can hide, but they can't really avoid them.
I think the media has a responsibility to keep the American people informed, because after all when people aren't informed, that's when they start to get skeptical and they start to think the worst. They start to worry about, well, I have loved ones on the USS Roosevelt or have people on the Enterprise. Are they still alive even? I haven't heard from them in weeks.
So when the media steps in, there is also that reassuring factor that we are, in fact, alive and well, and that our servicemen are doing their job, and that they are in fact alive and well. And I think there is a responsibility there they have to the American public to give them the information, so that we know exactly what is happening at this time of war. We don't need to know all the details, but we need to know what's going on.
CHEN: Yes, no? Yes, no? Audience? All right. Let's go here, up into the audience.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Responding to what the gentleman just said, that's true. But when you get into foreign countries, not in the mainstream European countries, but when you get into foreign countries where the media is controlled, you will see CNN, but you will not see the same CNN news stations that you see in the big foreign cities in Europe, the mainstream stations. We have been to -- like in China, for instance, you go into Beijing. What you see, you will see CNN, but it is extremely controlled. And you will not see CNN News. You see CNN...
CHEN: It is different. But I guess there is still that opportunity. After all, there is a suggestion that some of Osama bin Laden's people may still be in the United States?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. It is almost public knowledge that there is terrorist cells operating within the United States. It is not that hard to make a cell phone call or send an e-mail out. You know, this is happening, this is going on, here is a map, here is where they are, you know.
CHEN: Leo, I want to ask you. I mean, your work is in civil rights. Does it concern you at all that these folks are talking about, well, maybe there should be some limit, maybe the media needs to hold off on being as hard as possible?
TERRELL: Absolutely, Joie. Some of the comments from the audience, you are scaring me, folks. You are talking about the need to know information. You are talking about limitation of the press, limitation of information, because some of you might just be so afraid you are saying OK, government, do whatever you want. We don't care what you do.
I'm telling you, you don't want to restrict your civil rights in times of crisis. This is what you are talking about right now. As a civil rights attorney, it is frightening to hear some of you listeners -- some of you audience talk about giving up your rights. Don't do that.
CHEN: All right, audience. Audience is going to have to defend itself on that, Leo. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Providing information is one thing, but it seems that the media is also giving suggestions, for example the suggestion that perhaps that smallpox would be a better bioterrorism weapon than anthrax, so I think that's inappropriate.
TERRELL: It's the exchange of information. If you honestly believe the U.S. government, its Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and Colin Powell are disclosing classified military secrets, you've got to be kidding! You are talking about an exchange of ideas on these news programs to bring out information. But classified information, folks, is not being given out to the American public and it's not being given out to the foreign terrorists.
CHEN: But it is a suggestion they (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
EVERS: Hey, Joie...
CHEN: Yes, Lisa?
EVERS: Joie, plus the reality -- and you know this as a newswoman -- I mean, the reality is that most of the media is so severely restricted from being in -- in a lot of the hot zones and a lot of the areas where things are actually taking place..
CHEN: Less restricted or self restricted?
EVERS: The casualties of journalists...
CHEN: Most people aren't like you.
KINSOLVING: Well, I think this. We should ask all kinds of questions, such as how can we be told that we are against terrorism and those who harbor terrorists at the same time we have Colin Powell telling the prime minister of Israel, you must negotiate with a terrorist and pathological liar like Yasser Arafat and his suicide bombers and the people that stood by the thousands in the streets and cheered...
CHEN: Les, you got fans out here. You got fans out here.
KINSOLVING: On September 11.
CHEN: All right. We have got to take another break here. I'm sorry. A lot of people still want to talk about this subject. But we are going to take a break for some news and we will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: How much are you spending this holiday season?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But the point is, given that range, the money will go further.
CHEN: Will September 11th or a sagging economy cause to you spend less this year? Take the TALKBACK LIVE online viewer vote at CNN.com/talkback. And while you're there, send us an e-mail.
CHEN: Welcome back to TALKBACK LIVE. The conversation here has been about anthrax for the last few minutes. In fact, earlier this week -- you probably know this by -- a 94-year-old woman in Connecticut died of inhalation anthrax. Now, authorities say even today they do not know how she became infected. Joining us from Oxford, Connecticut, right now is CNN Correspondent Michael Okwu, who has been following this story. Michael, what's the latest on that?
MICHAEL OKWU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well the latest is we know, Joie, is that 110 samples -- more than 110 samples -- were taken at Ottilie Lundgren's home and at two postal facilities that essentially distribute mail to this community.
Now this -- the results were preliminary and they came back negative, according to the governor. But the results may also frankly deepen the mystery.
Everyone is wondering how 94-year-old Ottilie Lundgren came into contact with anthrax. She died of course on Wednesday, six days after she went to the hospital complaining about respiratory problems.
Now authorities -- specifically the FBI and the CDC -- spent more than two days combing through her house meticulously, looking for items and testing for samples there. We also understand that the FBI and the CDC are seriously investigating the entire neighborhood.
They are specifically looking at a beauty salon that she frequented, the church she went to, and we understand from restaurant employees at a particular restaurant that I can see just a stone's throw away, that the CDC was there yesterday taking tests because Ottilie Lundgren was seen there November 10th -- Joie.
CHEN: Michael, we've got folks here in our audience who have a couple of questions for you. Ed is from Connecticut, in fact very near to where Miss Lundgren lives. Lived.
ED: I have a question as to whether the CDC is looking at the possibility that the anthrax comes from the environment in the rural area that Oxford is as opposed to being artificial and manmade?
OKWU: Well, Ed, you know the community very well, and you know that it is a -- it's a bucolic, wooded community. And that is an issue that has come up repeatedly, specifically with hospital officials when they essentially made this news public just several days ago.
Now, they say that that is a very remote possibility. It is not very easy, actually, to get inhalation anthrax naturally in that way from animals, which is where it is usually borne.
But they are looking at all possibilities and they have not ruled that out. But they point out the fact that -- that before the recent anthrax scare, in the last month or so, there hadn't been a case of anthrax in over -- in over two decades. So that makes this possibility that much more remote.
And you look at also the fact that this was a woman -- although people say she was sharp as tack at 94 -- was not very active outdoors. So you put those two -- those two factors together, and they are really saying and emphasizing that it's that much more of a remote possibility.
CHEN: And Michael, quickly, they -- there is also that other mysterious case, that of Kathy Nguyen in New York, which I think you've also covered some as well. Do they think there could be any association, these two women who lived alone, lived pretty isolated lives, that they could have any connection at all?
OKWU: Well, authorities are really grabbing at everything, you know. When they look at this case, it-- they are really met, really, with one big fat question mark. They really don't know how she came into contact with anthrax. So they are looking at the possibility there were some commonalities.
And they are trying to see what behavior or other commonalities that these two women shared. Of course, Kathy Nguyen was a 61-year- old hospital worker in New York who died last month. And they're trying to put these two situations together and say just what was it about these two people's lives that might have made them -- might have caused them to come in contact with anthrax. And they're looking at the very distant, very remote possibility that their paths may have crossed. And at this point, Joie, there is absolutely no evidence of that.
CHEN: Very bizarre. There are some comments from our audience. Here now this is Al, who's from Pennsylvania.
AL: Yes. Joie, I'm -- I'm just so appalled and I want to make a comment about in the -- with the event that happened on 9-11, you know, you know, one would have think -- thought that we might have taken like a moratorium on violence and everything like this, you know, and everybody would just set back and thought about how we can like really pull together.
And it's just appalling like this homegrown terrorism. I think that this is even worse than knowing who our attackers are. I mean, it's among us people are doing this devastating thing to us and it's just appalling.
CHEN: And we'll see where that goes. All right. Michael Okwu, I know we -- we have to say goodbye to you. So we appreciate your giving us the late information from out there in Connecticut.
And let's talk to other folks in our audience. This is Courtney way up in the back of our audience. I hope we can get a camera over to you, Courtney.
COURTNEY: I just wonder, since we -- do we know really know the prevalence of anthrax? Because before the whole scare, many people may have died of respiratory illnesses that may have been attributed to flu or pneumonia. And now we just don't know how many died before and now we are just hypersensitive to it.
CHEN: Yeah. Lisa, let's get to you out there on our panel about this notion of what we know about anthrax and what he learned about. So much -- good grief, I mean, a couple of months ago, I don't think a whole lot of us knew more than how to spell anthrax.
EVERS: Well, Joie, actually they've had a -- in New York City, for example, to -- answer the woman's question -- they've had a tracking system in place at the hospitals.
They know roughly annually how many people come in with respiratory ailments, how many people come in with flu-like symptoms, that type of thing. And they have a system set up in the emergency rooms throughout New York City in the hospitals so if those numbers climb above a certain level, there are certain, you know, red flags go off. There certain warning signs, and the -- the officials are able to track it.
So I think in some respects it's unlikely that there were many people or large numbers of people dying of this before and we just simply didn't know because we weren't paying attention to it.
But I think what is really troubling about the Connecticut case and the case in the Bronx that you mentioned, Joie, is that if the immediate environments of these two women have turned out to be negative for anthrax -- which is the case as far as we know now -- where did it come from? And that's something that's raising a lot of questions and raising a lot of fears here.
CHEN: Yeah, let's talk a little bit more about fear. There has been a proposal, an offer made to postal workers up there in Connecticut that they would be able to take the Cipro if they are at all concerned, even though there is no indication that Miss Lundgren died of any mail-delivered anthrax or anything like that.
Leo, to you, concerns about how the postal workers have been treated. There was some concern immediately after the Capitol Hill things about how postal workers were treated and whether they had appropriate opportunity to protect themselves.
EVERS: Well, you know what, Joie? There's no question about it. The postal workers have been treated like second-class citizens. When the senators -- when there's anthrax in the Senate hall, the House of Representatives skedaddle out of town because they were afraid.
The postal workers were kept in the dark. Their lives are just as important as a Senator, just as important as the House of Representatives, just as important as the U.S. Supreme Court.
But those -- the postal workers are not getting the same type of care, attention as politicians. And -- and what is sad about it, Joie, is that the politicians are trying to make political headway out of this, trying to score some political points, while the postal workers are on the front line and they are being exposed. It's not fair, it's not right, and it's not American.
CHEN: All right.
KINSOLVING: I would like to say one thing, if I may.
CHEN: Yes, sir.
KINSOLVING: We've had less than ten dead of anthrax.
TERRELL: So what? So what?
KINSOLVING: We've had 480,000 cases of people who have died...
TERRELL: You don't value life that way. You do not value life that way.
KINSOLVING: Who have died of AIDS.
TERRELL: So what?
KINSOLVING: 480,000 have died of AIDS and we have no quarantining of those people...
TERRELL: You don't value life that way, sir.
KINSOLVING: ...who have deliberately spread it through cruising.
TERRELL: Every life is important. You don't -- don't compare...
KINSOLVING: I know every life is important.
CHEN: All right. Come on.
KINSOLVING: We've lost 480,000 to AIDS and 10 to anthrax.
TERRELL: Are you talking about quarantining people with HIV?
KINSOLVING: Why aren't you concerned about those who are spreading AIDS?
TERRENCE: But what is your -- what is your point?
KINSOLVING: My point is we ought to quarantine those who are deliberately spreading AIDS. Don't you think so, counselor?
TERRELL: You want to change the subject?
KINSOLVING: On to another question.
TERRELL: I have no problem supporting...
TERRELL: I don't want you to downplay the point...
(CROSSTALK) CHEN: Come on, Royal. Get in there.
MARSHALL: I'm just curious is -- is the gentleman in New York really serious about talking about quarantining people having HIV.
TERRELL: Right, I mean, this is ridiculous.
MARSHALL: Is that what he's talking about?
KINSOLVING: Yes, yes. We quarantine -- quarantine...
KINSOLVING: We quarantined Typhoid Mary and typhoid fever.
MARSHALL: Are you going to have the government test everybody to see if they're all...
MARSHALL: Oh, my God, man, get real. This is 2001, almost 2002. You can't quarantine people who have HIV.
KINSOLVING: The hell you can't.
TERRELL: Oh, come on.
MARSHALL: Well, why don't we start with you? Why don't we start with you? Let's start with you. We'll put you in the can somewhere, lock you and test you. Because you sound like you've got something more dangerous than HIV.
CHEN: All right. This is free-for-all Friday. This is not "Jerry Springer." Let's all calm down for a minute.
KINSOLVING: You can't think of anything better than to ask...
CHEN: All right, all right. Let's -- let's get to the audience out here. Folks out in the audience with Chris.
CHRIS: Kurine (ph). This is Kurine (ph). Go ahead.
KURINE: Hi. I would just like to say that I -- I'm in agreement with the -- excuse me -- the statement that Leo made about the importance of protecting the postal workers. I find it very disturbing that it's even an issue as to whether we should let them wear gloves.
TERRELL: Thank you.
KURINE: Personally, I would find it comforting to go in there and see that they are taking the proper precautions. It wouldn't make me feel bad as, oh. You know, everyone knows what's going on, see to them wearing gloves isn't telling me something that I don't know. It makes me feel better knowing that they are being protected because they need -- they need to be protected more than we do because they have -- they have a greater risk of -- of being affected by it.
CHEN: And Leo, isn't there...
EVERS: And Joie, the way...
CHEN: I'm sorry, Lisa. Go ahead.
EVERS: I'm sorry. And the way that the main post office in New York City were there were positive environment tests for anthrax on some of the machines, the postal workers -- the postal service said workers were kept away from those machines.
The workers said that what they meant by kept away was a yellow tape and they were in close proximity. And so when we're talking about for them it was cutaneous -- concerns about the anthrax that you can contract through a skin contact and -- as opposed to the inhalation type.
But for the postal workers, they've been under tremendous stress, especially with the deaths.
CHEN: Right. Leo, aren't there some other cases like that where folks are -- postal workers are saying something about they are coming in and investigating my postal facility but I'm still in the room with them and they are walking around wearing, you know, the full-cover spaceman suit?
TERRELL: Oh, absolutely. I mean -- I mean, it's the biggest sort of charade to the American public. The -- the government wants you to believe everything is OK. We only lost, as the -- as my colleague said, 10 lives.
But these postal workers are exposed on day in. day out basis, and the government is not giving them the special attention they need, just like they need for the same -- the need the same attention they give to Senator Daschle and the U.S. Supreme Court.
CHEN: All right.
KINSOLVING: I agree. I agree. For a change, I agree.
TERRELL: Oh, finally.
MARSHALL: ...workers, the ones that go to work every day? The ones that go in there, even though they recognize there's a threat.
I mean, we've talked a lot about firemen and police officers and they do deserve their respect, but our postal workers who go to work on a daily businesses knowing that they might face anthrax, I think they deserve a round of applause. CHEN: Absolutely. A round of applause for postal workers, still getting the mail through.
MARSHALL: Maybe they need some more pay, but not out of my money.
CHEN: Hey, by the way, I want to bring up something that Rod in Colorado Springs sends us in a e-mail. He says "There is nothing reassuring about getting anthrax news every 15 minutes." I'm not sure, Rod, if we are still getting it every 15 minutes.
But let's face it, Royal. There has been on awful lot of reporting on anthrax, and earlier in the month, I mean, some folks were saying, "hey, I'm over it. I know there's anthrax out there. I've heard enough. Y'all need to quit getting -- you know, going crazy every 15 minutes."
MARSHALL: Well, I think the market will decide. News is a business. And when people have decided they don't want to hear anymore about anything, they will go watch "The Jeffersons," or "Good Times" or something like that.
When the ratings drop, you will see network TV respond, as well as CNN. All the TV stations will respond as soon as they see the ratings drop.
But as long as the ratings are up and people are concerned about anthrax, I think the media has an obligation to -- to bring people the latest cases and wherever they find contamination and whatever information they can find. I think the people want to know.
CHEN: We have a doctor in the house. Quick word from John in California.
JOHN: First of all, I just want to preface this by saving every life is important. There's no question. But let me just say that at the time all this was going on, the CDC was completely overwhelmed. This is uncharted territories for them, and they did not really know how spores were transmitted.
MARSHALL: You're right. You are absolutely correct.
CHEN: But now that we know, what do you do to keep -- to make sure that as many people can say safe as possible? We have to take a break here.
We're going to come back and talk a little bit more about the holiday season. It is also the spending season for a lot of folks. We'll see how the events of September 11th might affect your wallet, after this.
CHEN: Welcome back. This is a segment in which everyone can speak out because millions of us are working off their Thanksgiving feasts at the shopping malls today. We are not among them, unfortunately. We are here working.
Nevertheless, we're going to talk in this segment about people spending money in this holiday season. Royal, I want to begin with you.
CHEN: Is your spending going to be greater or less than it was last year, given everything that has happened?
MARSHALL: In all honesty, it will probably be about the same. But I would like to encourage people that, you know, we are kind of in recession. The announcement will be made today or later.
And so we need to be thinking about how we are using our credit, how we are spending our money and what's is important. Are you buying gifts for someone just so they will like you next year, or are you buying gifts for someone, you know, because, you know, you really have an affection for them and they're a family members or whatever?
We need to be careful about how we are spending money. Of course, we want to stimulate the economy, but we don't want to also leave ourselves in greater debt and be paying credit card bills in next December for things we bought this December.
CHEN: Jodie, you are nodding your head. You're agreeing with Royal here, but I'm wondering if you are really going to spend any less money.
JODIE: No, I'm not going to spend any less money. I'm just not going to use credit this year.
CHEN: All right. The frank truth of the matter is on that. But really, we are talking about the notion of how it might affect spending.
Lisa, in New York, a city really trying to struggle its way back. Is there a sense that people are going to view the shopping season differently?
EVERS: Well, I think people are viewing the shopping season differently but they are also viewing it as almost a patriotic duty, which for those of us who like to shop, I mean, that makes it even better. But there's a sense that people...
CHEN: God bless American Express, I guess.
EVERS: Exactly. Instead of going to one of the suburban areas to shop, people are coming in to the city. They're saying that they want to put the money here and they want to help the economy here. So there -- there is a sense of let's put the money where it's badly needed.
CHEN: And in our audience here, Ron from Alabama. There's a big shopping center in your state, I know. RON: There's a very large shopping center there. However, I think America now may spend more money in the form of charity and giving things to people -- not necessarily in their own families or friends but that will in general help the poor and the underprivileged.
CHEN: Leo, I wonder from you whether the perspective out there, out West. Are you guys out -- out of the picture of worry? Are you out of the picture of this is -- this is not our issue out here? Out West? And maybe there's a different sort of feeling about spending on a holiday.
TERRELL: No, no. On my radio show, Joie, the people are still bothered by September 11.
And what it's done is it's changed our priorities. Family is more important than a portfolio. Family and relatives are more important than going to that golf game, and people have changed their priorities that people, family members, loved ones are more important than anything else.
Those 3,000-plus people who walked out that day, on September 11th, didn't come back home. And I think what that did was it give America a more greater volume system of caring about your loved ones more so than material things.
CHEN: Quick word from Beverly in our audience.
BEVERLY: There's a real fine line between not buying and buying, because if we don't buy, then our husband's companies, our companies, are going to continue to lay off people because no one is buying their products. And it's -- it's a real fine line. I -- I encourage you to buy.
CHEN: Les, the only question I have for you is, are you getting Ari Fleischer a holiday gift?
KINSOLVING: Oh, I will try to ask -- I will try to ask, do you as a civil rights attorney believe we should require affirmative action...
TERRELL: That guy...
CHEN: Thank you, Les. Thank you very much. I'm sure he'll appreciate that wrapped up in a bow.
TERRELL: Get him off here. Get him off.
CHEN: Time out. Time out. We're going to have to take up this conversation later.
All right here. Will Osama Bin Laden ever be found? We'll talk about that in just a minute.
CHEN: The last segment of the show. Just want to begin with this. "How much will you spend for this holiday season?" This is from our online viewer vote. Same or less is pretty close, 40 to 47 percent. But those of you spending more -- I'm sorry for Beverly in our audience who wants people to spend more, only 12 percent say they would spend more. And that's not exactly a scientific poll but it does tell you something about how folks are thinking.
OK. In our last segment here, we're going to talk about the possibility that Osama Bin Laden will ever be found. And Les, I'm going to try to begin with you, but a quick answer. No questions. Quick answer, Les. Will he or won't he be found?
KINSOLVING: I think he will be found dead.
CHEN: All right. Lisa.
EVERS: Yes, he will definitely be found, and I hope it's soon.
MARSHALL: You can you count on it. He will be found.
CHEN: And Leo?
TERRELL: He will be found or he will be dead.
CHEN: He'll be found, dead, and both. Toby, is $25 million going to do it?
TOBY: He will be found.
CHEN: And what's -- what's going to make the difference?
TOBY: Everything is driven by money. Consequently he will be found.
CHEN: I think that would be the question on that. Other -- are there other thoughts on that? Mark?
MARK: I just hope that we have his dental records so when we finally do find this little piece of ash that we know that it in fact -- that's him.
CHEN: Also in the audience. Gavin?
GAVIN: I think that's his home territory. He knows the caves, he knows the -- the layout of the land, so I doubt that.
CHEN: That's it for us, guys. We've got to get out of here.
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