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CNN IN THE MONEY
Correspondents Discuss Post-Election Priorities; Has Drug Advertising Changed How We Talk To Doctors?
Aired November 6, 2004 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: American war planes hit insurgent targets in Falluja again today, ahead of an expected offensive against the town. Around 3,000 hardcore insurgents are believed to be hold up in the city.
Reports say Yasser Arafat's condition was stabilized today at a Paris hospital. Sources say he's being kept in a light coma by doctors to keep him from moving and damaging his fragile vital organs.
News reports say eight French peacekeepers were killed today in the Ivory Coast when government warplanes bombed their positions near a rebel-held town. The French retaliated by destroying at least two Ivory Coast attacking aircraft. Ivory Coast is a former West African colony of France.
I'm Fredricka Whitfield at the CNN center in Atlanta. More news at the bottom of the hour. IN THE MONEY begins right now.
ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Welcome to IN THE MONEY. I'm Andy Serwer sitting in for Jack Cafferty. Coming up on today's program, one day of decision with a four-year impact. We'll check the number on this week's voter turn-out. See what they say about who voted and why.
Plus one nation under pressure. Find out what the big split among voters could mean for America's future.
And who do you trust, your doctor or Madison Avenue? We'll look at whether drug ads have people asking for medicine by name.
Joining me today, a couple of IN THE MONEY veterans, Lou Dobbs tonight correspondent Christine Romans and money.com managing editor and webmaster, Allen Wastler. So already this week, right after the election, the jobs numbers come in and they are looking very good for the president. The stock market is roaring. It looks like the economy is back and clicking.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The first thing I thought when I saw that 300,000 plus jobs report was if George Bush had been lost it would have been just like his father who lost and then immediately the economy started showing signs of strength, very interesting parallels, although George Bush won and we had upward revisions to earlier months of jobs growth. So what he's been saying all summer that jobs were growing turns out he was right.
ALLEN WASTLER, MONEY.COM: It could have just been a relief rally. A lot of times when there's a close election and everybody is really uptight about it, you see a little pop in the stock market. So that could explain some of it, although, there is such a thing as a business cycle and a general cycle going on. A lot of people argue that it doesn't matter who is president, that is what is going to happen.
SERWER: Well, presidents often think they are the rooster that makes the sun come up, I'll grant you that. But one thing, the stock market may have been held back to your point Allen anticipating perhaps if the election had been tied up, a la 2000. It turned out it wasn't and we saw a little bit of a rally. I thought we might get a relief rally this fall if things worked out according to plan and we didn't have any terrorist acts and so perhaps we will and I think that, you know, that may be what we'll be seeing here. But, of course, there still are problems. The price of oil is still high and so we'll have to see what goes (ph).
ROMANS: Huge deficit, budget deficit. The president says he's going to halve the budget deficit in four years. I mean there still are some same old problems, brand new, old administration, still some big things have to be fixed.
SERWER: Big job ahead.
WASTLER: But it feels good right now.
SERWER: We'll take it. All right. This week's presidential election wasn't just about keeping things as they are. It also wound up about how things could be or for many voters how they should be. A lot of people backed President Bush on moral grounds on issues like abortion and gay marriage. For a look at how America voted, we're joined from Washington by Curtis Gans. He's the director of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate. Curtis, welcome. Do you really think that these issues of morality played such a huge part in this election?
CURTIS GANS, POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it did for the people that supported Bush. Karl Rove had a four-year strategy now, to expand the Bush's conservative base. He targeted issues in Congress. Bush's advocacy and finally did hard voter ID, programmed the president to go to rural areas and got the evangelical fundamentalist and the rural voters and that overcame what was also a massive Democratic mobilization drive.
ROMANS: But he got the Catholics, too and they are not fundamentalist. He got a lot of other Christians who are more moderate. He got a lot of people who maybe a generation ago we would have though would have been Democrat, the Jesse Jackson kind of Democrat and then suddenly a moral values first and foremost on the list of so many voters. How did this happen?
GANS: Well, I think they pushed that issue throughout the campaign. I'm not sure that former President Clinton's entrance in the campaign didn't reinforce that. But there is this divide on traditional values and economic and foreign policy issues and we saw that -- we saw that in the election. I think, also, John Kerry never made the sale as a national leader. Public was saying they wanted somebody else, but he never established himself as that somebody else.
WASTLER: Curtis, let me ask you, where were the kids? I mean we saw all the vote or die T shirts and rock stars and actors and stuff trying to drum up the kids, yet only one out of 10 of that demographic showed up to vote.
GANS: I think that's wrong. First I think it's wrong that exit polls are used for determining turn-out. They have never been right. The second thing is I would be shocked when final -- when we get the census survey that college resident students particularly in battleground states, did not show up in much larger numbers than they did in 2000. I don't think the whole category of 18 to 24-year-olds did. But I think in battleground states, college resident students showed up, voted and were part of the reason that this election was close.
SERWER: Curtis, put this turn-out into perspective for us. Was it higher than thought than anticipated? How does it compare to other elections and where is the trend headed?
GANS: I actually predicted this one right. I said it was going to be 118 million to 121 million. It was slightly over 120 million, 59.6 percent of the eligible vote, the highest turn-out since 1968 when 61.9, 14.4 million more people voted in this election than they did in 2000. Where is it headed? Nobody knows. If we keep this polarization, you know, it will stay fairly high. But we have done nothing to deal with the issues underlying civic disengagement and it could be that this election was like '92. '92 we had a sharp up tick in turn-out and by '96 it was lower than 1988.
ROMANS: What some people call polarization maybe is just another word for passion and suddenly we've put voter apathy to bed and now this is just what we get when we finally encourage people to get out and vote.
GANS: I think that's not going to be the case. I don't like the word apathy because some people are being nonvoters out of anger and cynicism. Some people, particularly the young who didn't vote in previous elections because they weren't trained. I mean we had a decline in education, in civic education. Most young people are now growing up in families both of whose parents don't vote and a large majority don't discuss politics. We have right now a very divided political system, a media that has reduced its coverage in politics and campaigns that are run on 30-second attack ads. I think we've got serious problems underlying civic disengagement and I don't think they go away with one election of passion.
SERWER: Curtis, quick last question. Where do the Democrats go from here?
GANS: I hope they go to define themselves because there's no there, there. That's the central problem. They have not defined a vision or a perspective and if they don't do that, you know, it doesn't matter whether -- it isn't whether they are too far left or too far right, it matters that they have a perspective that people can hang on to besides single issues. ROMANS: All right, Curtis Gans, thanks so much for joining us, the director of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate. Thanks Curtis.
GANS: Thank you.
ROMANS: When we come back, the gentle art of disagreement which ever candidate you voted for, learn how to connect with the other side.
Plus -- way off. Find out how a big sports win can turn from celebration to riot.
And Republican rhapsody, check out a song from the White House team on our fun side of the week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A new term is a new opportunity to reach out to the whole nation. We have one country, one constitution, and one future that binds us. And when we come together and work together, there is no limit to the greatness of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: You don't have to be a mathematician to figure this one out. If 51 percent of Americans voted for George W. Bush, the other half of the country is a little less than thrilled about his reelection. What can the president do to bridge this gap in his second term? Let's find out from Michael Thompson, who's the executive director of the Iowa Mediation Service. Michael, first off, tell us, what is the Iowa Mediation Service? What do you do there?
MICHAEL THOMPSON, IOWA MEDIATION SERVICE: We are a program that mediates disputes. Essentially we do a lot of rural disputes, farmers and creditors. We also do a number of other kinds of disputes, businesses, harassment, things of that nature.
ROMANS: What is your advice for the president in branching out and bridging the dispute between Democrats and Republicans here, between the people who voted for him and put him back in office and the rest of the country that didn't want to see him have another term?
THOMPSON: I think the most important thing is to hear all the parties and to convey to them his affirmation that he's heard their views and then still be able to make his point. I guess the second part, in terms of beyond bridging the differences, to talk to them in the way I saw him talk just this last week, clearly and honestly about where he wants to take his direction and hear their points.
SERWER: Michael, are we making too much out of all this? I mean are we really that divided or maybe it was just a presidential election that was close. I mean do you really see this as people really disliking the opinion of other people so much more than any time in the past?
THOMPSON: I see this in some ways as very clearly that there was a lot of rancor in this and I've seen it for the last 12 years, so I'm not sure that it's much different than it was in the '70s, but I certainly see the rancor and I guess the most important thing is, we have to overcome the intensity of feelings. It's troubling to hear people say they hate President Bush or to say they hated former President Clinton. So I guess the real clear question is, how do we get past that kind of animosity or intensity?
WASTLER: Mike, we're hearing a lot about, well, the president needs to do this to unify. The president needs to do that. But what about the other side? I mean the Democrats aren't totally out of this equation either and the other side needs to do something. What is it the Democrats need to do?
THOMPSON: Well, it's obviously a two-way street, so I think the Democrats are going to have to look at first, how do they deal with the major initiatives? What they can say to the president that will help him understand they're trying to work with him, whether it's on the Iraq war, whether it's on the economy. They're going to have to make some overtures to him to work on this and it's going to be a two- way street and they've got to listen to his view as well and if they don't demonstrate they can do that, then they're going to be in a real difficult spot, so they really need to hear his message and make theirs clear as well.
ROMANS: Making both of their messages clear rather is something that both sides have been doing for some time, only to infuriate and further polarize each other's side. How do you actually do the healing? When I talk to Democrats and people who watch the Democratic machine, they're furious that this was so close again and that now the president has a mandate. How do you try to put down that fury and allow the healing to go on here?
THOMPSON: Well, I think you have to work toward emotional closure. And that means, is it any good for them to maintain the fury? And the second part, I think they have to all reduce the personal attacks, the rhetoric that blames somebody else and then step up and say what are we going to do together and build on the common positives. When you have this big of turn-out for an election with that many people on both sides voting, how do we use that as a positive to look in a new direction for our country? I think that's going to be the critical point and again, we've got to turn down rancor. We've got to turn down the animosity.
SERWER: Michael, I want to talk about that a little bit more though. I mean where does the rancor, the hate that you mention, the fury that Christine characterizes, where did it come from? Why aren't we saying I simply disagree with President Bush or I don't particularly like John Kerry's policies? Why is it hatred, fury, rancor?
THOMPSON: I think there's two points. I think part of it has to do with the election in 2000 and I think people perceiving that Bush didn't really win. I think the second part is on the other side is seeing that and then the Republicans then having the attacks that they perceived that were unfair on Bush from Michael Moore, things of that nature. So I think on each side, there's that animosity and part of what we have to do is have each of them deal with it. It's not just as easy as saying get over it. It really means how do we engage in a constructive fashion and how do we have constructive confrontation as opposed to name calling or put downs and I think even more when you look at the president, what a lot of people use the term "W" they do it with disdain. How do we then have those people take him serious? I mean the fact is, he has now won an election. He has won two elections in a row. What do we do with him to show that we're trying to work with him if we're on the other side and then how does he demonstrate that he's reaching out to them? So it's going to be a two-way street.
WASTLER: Mike, how do you think they are doing so far? I mean the election's over. We've had a couple big speeches and smaller ancillary ones. How do you think the rhetoric and the discussions are working out so far?
THOMPSON: I think there's been some very positive things. I think both the speech by President Bush and then the speech by Senator Kerry were positive. I have seen though other people taking it, I mean there's been sort of a celebration by some people and some of that celebration has even lifted over to saying things to the other side saying, now we're going to show you. I think that's what we have to stay away from. We have to move back toward how do we work together and talk about what we can do together as a group of people. And healing only happens when people can figure out that their issues are going to be heard. That doesn't mean they are totally going to be addressed. I think the real important thing is to learn to talk to each other and probably more importantly, look at the terms that we use and try to use terms that don't inflame the other side.
ROMANS: OK. (INAUDIBLE) advice there for things other than politics as well. Michael Thompson, thank you so much, the Iowa Mediation Center.
Coming up after the break, how to build a family fortune. We'll look at the Walton dynasty and the Wal-Mart chain that's making them rich.
Also ahead, see if drug advertisements can turn a patient into an amateur doctor.
And fans who take it a little too far. Find out how sports riots start and see what it takes to stop them.
ROMANS: Now let's take a look at the week's top stories in our money minute. The Bush reelection victory had an immediate impact on certain stocks. Shares of defense, drug and coal companies rose. Cell research and alternative energy firms fell. The overall markets also reacted strongly to the election's quick resolution. Investors had feared a drawn-out recount battle as we saw back in 2000. A Federal jury in Texas convicted four former Merrill Lynch bankers and a former Enron executive for crafting a phony deal that helped Enron inflate its earnings back in 1999. Each one of the convicted men face long prison terms. One former Enron accountant was acquitted in that case.
And a brother and sister from North Carolina became the first people in the nation to be convicted on felony spamming charges. A jury found they flooded tens of thousands of America Online e-mail accounts with unsolicited e-mails. The jury recommended that the brother and sister spend nine years in prison and pay $7500 in fines for violating a new anti-spam law.
SERWER: All right, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett may be the richest guys around, but the family that founded Wal-Mart has as much money as Gates and Buffett combined. Controlling the world's biggest company definitely has its perks, but for the people running Wal- Mart's day-to-day operations, things are mixed. The company is admired for its growth, but also vilified by those who see it as unstoppable behemoth and a detriment to the nation's overall economy. Wal-Mart is trading at about the midway point between its high this year and its low, but with the election resolved and the Christmas shopping season under way, a lot could change.
Wal-Mart and the Walton family were the subjects of my cover story in the new edition of "Fortune" magazine and that makes Wal-Mart our stock of the week. The family owns 39 percent of this company worth $90 billion. They watch the company obviously like a hawk. Rob Walton is the chairman of the company and it has been in the doldrums. Some news lately, some October sales numbers looking pretty good, maybe coming out of its doldrums right now.
ROMANS: Here's a question I have. Has this company, the management and the family of this company changed their behavior, their outlook any since it became a little tiny company in Arkansas to now the third largest importer from China?
SERWER: In many ways they still have the values and sensibilities that they've had for decades when their father Sam Walton founded this company years and years ago. He passed away in 1992. In a lot of ways that's a positive, Christine, that they still have his vision. In some ways they are a little too tied to the past, I think, though.
WASTLER: Tell me this, every time -- they are a lightning rod for controversy. They're discriminating against women or they don't have enough minorities in their ranks. But you watch the stock price, no matter what breaks, the only thing that seems to move that stock price is the retail outlook and how good sales are looking. So Wal-Mart is really just basically a bet on American retailing and all the stuff that you see in the headlines doesn't really matter a whole lot.
SERWER: Well, I think some would argue with that a little bit, Allen, suggesting perhaps the stock has been held back a little bit because of the threat of litigation, in particular the suit about discrimination against women. But overall, I think you are right. I mean not only is it a benchmark for the nation's retailing sector, but really for the overall economy. I mean it's the biggest company in the world, the largest employer in the United States. So the real challenge for management, I think, is to make the company grow faster than GDP and that's difficult.
ROMANS: It's interesting too, because this is a company that has small-town values and a small-town reputation except because of how much it's importing from China and how Americans go gaga over cheap stuff. It has to do with U.S. trade policy, our current account deficit. You can talk about the value of the dollar and to peg Chinese currency and Wal-Mart can come into the conversation. This is just a little discount retailer that became so big.
SERWER: Yes, it really is a proxy for our nation overall and the economy and it concerns labor. It concerns the dollar. It concerns importing, exporting, everything, the women's issues, all of it. It's all there and it's a company that's going to be in the headlines for many, many years to come. So we'll be watching it.
All right, coming up on IN THE MONEY, prescribe it yourself buster. See if drug ads have patients trying to call the shots on ailments they didn't even know they had.
Also ahead, hot tickets and hot tempers. Find out about the connection between big sports events and the riots, the riots that sometimes follow them.
And see you later, commentator. The White House race turned bloggers into stars. We will look at whether their celebrity is meant (ph) to last.
WHITFIELD: Hello, I'm Fredricka Whitfield at the CNN center in Atlanta. IN THE MONEY continues in a moment, but first, here are some stories now in the news.
U.S. bombs and artillery hit suspected insurgent locations in and around the Iraqi city of Fallujah today. U.S. Marines backed up by Army and specially trained Iraqi troops are taking up positions around the city. At 2:00 p.m. Eastern we'll talk to a Marine lieutenant near Fallujah about the upcoming planned assault.
Yasser Arafat's doctors are keeping the Palestinian leader in a coma. They want to keep him from movements that could compromise his vital organs and possibly be fatal. Sources close to Palestinian and European leaders say Arafat has been in a light coma for several days now. We'll have an update shortly after 2:00 Eastern.
It's payday for the builders of spaceshipone, the rocket plane that broke through earth's atmosphere twice in two weeks. Mojave Aerospace Ventures received a $10 million check as winners of the X prize today. The contest was an effort to promote private space travel and tourism.
A growing protrusion of magma is building up inside the Mt. St. Helens volcano in Washington State. Scientists say the 330 foot protrusion is the size of a 30-story building.
They also think an explosive eruption could happen at any time. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. I'll have more of the day's news at the top of the hour including the latest on the U.S. press foreign offensive on Fallujah, Iraq. Now back to more of IN THE MONEY.
ROMANS: High cholesterol, acid reflux disease, pet allergies, you name it, there's a pill for it. And if you can remember its funny little name, you can then go ask the doctor for a prescription. But do you really need to take another pill? Or are you coming down with something else altogether, some like hypochondria maybe?
Here with his answer is Dr. John Abramson, author of "Overdosed America, The Broken Promise of American Medicine." He's also a (INAUDIBLE) instructor at Harvard Medical School. I think Vioxx is a perfect example of this, people going and asking their doctors for this drug to treat their creaky knees, a drug that for many people has just marginally better effect than aspirin and you could walk away in some cases with heart disease or stroke. Why are we -- why do we feel it's necessary to treat every little ache and pain we've got with a prescription medicine?
JOHN ABRAMSON, MD, AUTHOR, OVERDOSED AMERICA: I think the problem is that the drug advertisement we're having is convincing us that we need these pills to live a healthy life and to enjoy our lives when the truth is that most of our health is determined by our health habits. Vioxx is a perfect example. Merck spent more money advertising Vioxx in 2000 to consumers than what was spent advertising Pepsi or Budweiser beer. And they needed to invest that money because they had a drug that didn't provide any better relief than the older, less expensive drugs. So it needed to be pushed into the market.
SERWER: John, I don't know exactly when we started allowing drug companies to advertise, a dozen years ago, 20 years ago, maybe you know better than I do. We've let the genie out of the bottle or the medicine cabinet or whatever. I mean can we stop drug advertising? What are you suggesting?
ABRAMSON: It's a good question. First, let's put it in perspective. We started allowing drug advertising in about 1985. Now we're spending $3.8 billion a year on drug ads. We and New Zealand are the only two industrialized countries that allow drug advertising. The drug companies say they should be allowed to advertise because it's a public service. They educate. But what happens is they only educate about the things that will sell their products, not about an overall approach to health. So I think that what we need to do in America is redirect our healthcare system toward improving our health better. And right now my opinion as a family doctor is that the drug advertising is not doing that. In fact, that's one of the main reasons why I wrote this book, to help to show the public that the focus of our healthcare has -- is now misdirected towards generating corporate profits.
SERWER: So you'd be for getting rid of advertising by pharmaceutical companies? ABRAMSON: If I had my druthers, I would and four-fifths of family doctors believe that and most primary care docs believe that the drug advertise is not helpful to patients' health or to doctor-patient relationships.
WASTLER: But John, just to play devil's advocate here for a moment, I know that now when I go to the doctor between the advertising I have seen and information I get on the Internet, I think I'm a more at least active patient where maybe my doctor isn't just sort of prescribing something for the sake of it. I know what to ask and I'm more aware of now, wait a minute, I also take this. Is there going to be an interaction, things like that. So you seem to be arguing a point that perhaps argues for less knowledge among consumers?
ABRAMSON: No, more knowledge. What you are articulating is exactly what -- if you were my patient I would want you to come in to me, with that knowledge and then have an open discussion about what's the best way to apply what you know and what I know to your particular situation. That's the ideal and I think that there should be drug education and healthcare education that helps consumers to engage in those conversations with their docs. The problem is that the drug advertising biases that conversation toward particular products instead of towards better health.
ROMANS: But John, then why do the doctors prescribe all of these drugs? Why were all of these people taking Vioxx for arthritis when, you know, when maybe they didn't need it? People walking off the street and I say, and say, I need drug blah blah blah. I saw an advertisement for it in the paper and a doctor will prescribe it, why?
ABRAMSON: You are absolutely right. The same way that the patients are getting biased information from the drug ads unfortunately the doctors are getting biased information through their medical journals and continuing education courses and clinical guidelines. So that there's far too much commercial influence in what the docs know as well. In Vioxx in particular the real problem is the study that Merck did in 2000 that showed that there were more cardiovascular complications with Vioxx was published in the "New England Journal of Medicine." The problem is that the "New England Journal of Medicine" article didn't explain to doctors that Vioxx was significantly more dangerous than naproxin or Aleve. So the docs are being misled as well.
SERWER: John, these ads are also very offensive. I'll tell you a little story. Last year at the Super Bowl, a couple of families got together and we were all watching the game, kids seven years old, 10- years old, teenagers, all of a sudden I forget if it was Levitra or Viagra ad comes on. The bigger kids start giggling. The little kids go, mom, dad, what is this all about? Is there any limits to advertising by these drug companies now?
ABRAMSON: There isn't as long as the drug companies have as much political influence as they currently do and I think that really begs the question of, is the function of our healthcare to sell more product or to make us healthier and to reflect the values that we do share as families. I think we have gone overboard and I think it's not only destructive when you are watching TV with your children. But I think it is also destructive to doctor-patient relationships.
ROMANS: These are lifestyle drugs. These aren't even going to save anybody's life. These are lifestyle drugs we're talking about.
ROMANS: These are things that aren't going to prolong your life. They are just going to make - they're spending all this money on advertising and research and development on things that aren't going to cure diabetes, aren't going to cure cancer. That is what kind of concerns me.
ABRAMSON: Absolutely. And even when we're talking about drugs that can play a positive role in our health, like the cholesterol lowering drugs, the advertisements don't carry the message that about 80 percent of our risk of heart disease can be reduced by just exercising, eating a healthy diet, not smoking, drinking in moderation. That's the real breakthrough news that we our health is largely in our own hands and sometimes we need medicine to supplement a healthy lifestyle.
WASTLER: OK, well, Dr. John Abramson, we appreciate you joining us here to talk about that and author of a book "Overdosed in America, The Broken Promise of American Medicine." Thank you so much for joining us.
ABRAMSON: Pleasure to be with you, thank you.
WASTLER: Lots more coming up here on IN THE MONEY. Up next, the home field disadvantage. See why a victory in the field can lead to turmoil in the streets.
And a fight song, (INAUDIBLE) on our fun site of the week.
WASTLER: What is it about the big game that breeds bad behavior, that leads sports fans to flip cars and burn public property. Take this year's World Series. Boston fans were so excited that the Red Sox finally won a championship, they swarmed the streets in celebration and police were at the ready. Victory riots have claimed the lives of two college students in Massachusetts alone this year. So why do sports fans get so out of hand? Jeffrey MacDonald is a correspondent with "USA Today." He recently penned the article, is post game rioting becoming an epidemic? He joins us now. Jeffrey, welcome. That's take a stab at answering the headline. Is it becoming an epidemic?
JEFF MACDONALD, USA TODAY: Well, I think it is certainly becoming more common than it used to be. Just five years ago, these were such a rarity that it made national news when Michigan State rioted after a big sports loss. Interestingly it wasn't a victory that touched off that incident. But it's not just that, it's much more common now. The studies that happen on this regard say that there are as many as 10 to 15 incidents per year and no sign that they are diminishing. ROMANS: Used to be kind of rare, you'd see a big game and the students would all storm a goal post or something. Now almost every American college has removable goal posts and riot police. What is it? It's almost like "Lord of the Flies." You get a bunch of people together and it's mob mentality, no single person taking responsibility for their actions.
MACDONALD: Well, certainly that's true. There is something that happens when you got so many people together. We're talking tens of thousands, sometimes over 100,000 people gathering together at a time when the emotions are high. The alcohol has been flowing freely and these are young people and the cameras are also present and taking pictures and offering a free chance to be on TV if you do something really outrageous.
SERWER: Jeffrey, I want to keep going on that, though. I mean Michigan State, Ohio game has always been 100,000 people there. People have always been drinking alcohol. Why is it over the past 15 years? I mean you're talking about the TV cameras, but I'm not sure I buy that. I mean what's going on that is making people get so rowdy now?
MACDONALD: Well, that's certainly the right question to ask and part of that when I was interviewing people for this story was to learn that there is some sort of a competition that goes on when one school wants to show that they have a way of celebrating that exceeds the last one that they saw in the newspapers. It goes along kind of with the party school mentality to take a little pride in being a party school, well take a little pride in being a riot school, as well.
SERWER: Our whack jobs are bigger than your whack jobs kind of deal?
MACDONALD: There is something like that, yeah and some of the factors have changed slowly over time in this evolution of what it is to celebrate.
WASTLER: Jeffrey, let's start thinking about solutions a little bit. I noticed in your article toward the end, you pointed out that down in Maryland, some student grumbling about them banning certain songs sort of got settled over when the Maryland coach sort of spoke out and said, hey, look, that's the way it's going to be, because we need it to win and just settle down. Do you think more involvement by the teams and the organizations involved with the fans could help settle them down a little bit?
MACDONALD: Well, they're certainly hoping so. There was a summit convened by the NCAA in 2003 because this has become such a problem. They brought together the athletic directors and various student groups to put their heads together and see what can be done and what they are putting into place as a matter of policy at different schools like Maryland is really sort of a protocol to tone down the circumstances that can precipitate this kind of behavior, things like the chanting, the vulgar insulting of the other team, just kind of escalating circumstances that seem to grease the slide for what can be an explosive riot after the game.
ROMANS: One of the first stories I ever covered as a college student at Iowa State University we used to have this very lovely peaceful springtime student festival that of course doesn't have it anymore because of riots. One of the first stories I ever covered were people anonymously throwing cinder blocks off the roof of a building into crowds of other people because of drinking and partying and just this wave of violence that swept through this otherwise very peaceful town. You really could never figure out what it was all about. But the social scientists kept saying, what about British soccer?
ROMANS: Hooligans. It is happening elsewhere, as well. Maybe it is just coming here for the first time.
MACDONALD: Well, right. There certainly is something that has been present when you mention soccer, internationally. Certainly, yeah, it's happened with Britain and in other countries, too. There's a pattern of this and it goes back -- in researching this I found that there was a riot in hockey in Canada in 1955 that was a seven-hour rampage. It's really nothing that's brand new. It is just something that it needs to be controlled in a way because to compete and win is natural and that comes to us instinctively. But to show sportsmanship to look your opponent in the eye and shake their hand and congratulate them on a win, if you have lost, or to win graciously, if that's the case, that's not so instinctive. That's taught and learned and it requires a lot of practice in developing character.
SERWER: Jeffrey, quick last question. A prominent university of New England recently posted photographs on the Internet trying to identify some of these bozos who were passed out and throwing rocks through windows. It was actually kind of amusing, I probably shouldn't say that. But I don't know if you saw that. Do you think that's a solution?
MACDONALD: Well, certainly there is something to be said for identifying people. It worked to some degree in Boston when the riots after the Patriots victory in the Super Bowl led to some of the -- that tragic death that you referred to earlier. And the administrators at Northeastern said, yeah, we'll go ahead. We will put pictures on the Internet taken that night. We will cooperate with police and when it comes to enforcement, yeah, certainly using the power of the camera it can work in the other direction, too.
ROMANS: All right, public shaming, Andy, I like that idea. Jeff Macdonald, correspondent "USA Today," thanks so much for joining us.
MACDONALD: Thanks for having me.
ROMANS: Coming up, consider the source, we'll look at whether you can trust a blogger to give you the real skinny on American politics.
And while you're checking out those blogs, take a minute to drop us an e-mail. Our address is firstname.lastname@example.org. But first, this week's edition of money and family.
LISOVICZ: With gasoline prices still hovering near all-time highs, we're paying more every time we pull up to the pump. This week we'll give you tips on how you can save money on gas. Start by pumping your own gas. Self-serve gas is usually cheaper than full serve where available. Also try to conserve fuel by accelerating gently and maintaining a steady speed on the highway. The more you put the pedal to the metal, the less bang you'll get for the buck.
Don't warm your car by letting it idle. Idling wastes about a quart of gas every 15 minutes. Besides, the engine warms up faster when driving. Finally, don't top off the tank. Some gas may end up overflowing when it expands in the sun or if you park on a hill. I'm Susan Lisovicz for money and family.
SERWER: If there's one thing many of us learned during this presidential election, it's beware the bloggers. Our web master Allen Wastler explains why and he also has the fun site of the week. Allen.
WASTLER: Going into the election, people are saying this is the year of true democracy because we got the bloggers for the people who don't know, a blogger is -- essentially it's an open Web diary. People just write their little drivvle and ramblings on and on and on.
ROMANS: Drivvle and ramblings, you said it.
WASTLER: I said it. I haven't been a fan of these places because essentially there's no editorial structure there. There's no vetting. It's just people shooting from the hip and saying what they feel. There have been cases when it's not bad, where a news event happens and a lot of people critique it. They come out and say the people have spoken and they sort of express a point of view.
However, going into the election, they are saying now we'll be the responsible ones and we'll tell people what is really going on. They have ludicrous exit poll information. We got this from the big media groups and this and that and the other and it was wrong. It sort of made the market do a little loopty loop on Election Day.
ROMANS: Just because now for the first time the major media isn't using those exit polls.
WASTLER: The thing is, they weren't even the right exit polls. CNN, we had a lockdown on the exit polls. Eyes only, only if you really need to see it. And so the numbers that they had out there, I don't know where they got them from, maybe the bathroom wall.
ROMANS: I want to just (INAUDIBLE) the web logs for a second, the blogs, because Thomas Paine, remember the revolutionary -- He was the original blogger.
WASTLER: He would be blogging now. ROMANS: Revolutionaries, you know who were sending off these little pamphlets. Those are like the revolutionary war blogs.
WASTLER: And it's time for expressing opinion. I have no problem with that. But I do have a problem where they are saying we are giving you reliable information because it's not. Opinion and information are different things and you should clarify that. Also a lot of people saying they are going to be the ultimate web destination. Take a look at the traffic figures. PK, big outfits like cnn.com was getting upwards of 5 million. But --
SERWER: Not to toot our own horn.
WASTLER: But not to toot our own horn, and those are (INAUDIBLE) network figures, OK. But the Web logs, even the biggest ones, they didn't even crack a hundred thousand. Collectively, some experts have noted to me collectively, they might have done a big chunk of traffic like maybe upwards of 15 million unique visitors but each one individually, no.
SERWER: What about that fun site, still some election motif.
WASTLER: Still an election motive and I feel that winners should get their dues, so I give you the winners singing.
SERWER: Crank it!
ROMANS: Where is Karl Rove?
SERWER: Is that a jib jab?
WASTLER: No, that wasn't a jib jab. That's from another flash outfit. But it's kind of amusing and folks just take it with a sense of humor.
SERWER: Nothing by John Kerry?
WASTLER: Not at this point.
SERWER: Maybe we don't want to see that one at this point. All right. Thanks Allen.
Coming up on IN THE MONEY, it's time to hear from you as we read some of your e-mails from the past week. And you can send us an e- mail right now too. We're at email@example.com.
WASTLER: Talk about inaccurate exit polling. Last week we asked if you were better off now than you were four years ago. More than 93 percent of you not only said no, but you blamed President Bush. I guess we didn't have a big enough sample. Anyway, Daniel wrote, Osama is still hanging around. Soldiers are dying in Iraq and every nation but Poland hates us. Other than the Red Sox winning the world series, I'm not better off. Chris in Indiana wrote, my wife and I are unemployed and our unemployment benefits are running out. If we keep outsourcing our jobs, the only thing we'll have left is Wal-Mart and McDonalds.
And James wrote, of course I'm not better off. I'm four years older, with less hair, fewer teeth and a weak memory but I guess I can't blame the president for that.
Now for the e-mail question of the week, what's the best way to unite the country now? Send your answers in firstname.lastname@example.org. And you should also visit our show page at money.com/inthemoney. That's the way to find the address for our fun site of the week.
SERWER: All right. Thanks for joining us for this edition of IN THE MONEY. Thanks to LOU DOBBS TONIGHT correspondent Christine Romans and money.com and webmeister managing editor Allen Wastler. Join us tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. Eastern when we'll look at what to expect from the Bush administration the next four years. What's the agenda? What's the frequency? Who stays and who goes? That's tomorrow at 3. See you then.
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