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Special Report: Modern Enslavement Of Children; 5 Pacers, 5 Fans Charged With Assault Today; Martha Stewart Announces Plans To Re- enter Television

Aired December 8, 2004 - 22:00   ET


AARON BROWN, HOST: We begin tonight with the work of two extraordinary filmmakers and an extraordinary story, the story of a quarter of a billion children and how these kids are sold and bartered and used and often abused so that our lives could be richer.

BROWN (voice-over): This picture is not what it appears to be. This rickety fishing platform -- it's called a jamal (ph), and there are at least a hundred like it off the coast of Indonesia -- are places where boys, some as young as 9, are forced, the filmmakers say, to live and work for months harvesting tiny fish.

ROBIN ROMANO, "STOLEN CHILDHOODS": Oftentimes, they're very poor. They've had to leave their families in search of work. They're tricked into working on the jamal (ph), and children are trapped there for three months at a time. And what do they make for three months? $5. And what does that $5 contribute to? Shrimp crackers on a table in a restaurant.

BROWN: The story of the jamals (ph) is part of a new documentary called "Stolen Childhoods." Two filmmakers spent over two years filming in eight different countries, capturing the utter degradation that is the reality for 246 million children in the world. Think of that number for a minute, 246 million.

LEN MORRIS, "STOLEN CHILDHOODS": Many times, it felt we were in a battle zone, but, at the end of the day, we'd film children living on the street or children, working, living and eating out of dump sites or children picking coffee 13 hours a day when a gang of guys comes over the hill with clubs hell bent on getting rid of us and stopping the work.

What are we showing? What are we there to show really? We're there to show the conditions that adults force upon children.

BROWN: These young girls work seven days a week in a stone quarry in India.

MORRIS: Those girls in the gravel quarry -- they're collateral on very small loans. They don't really even draw conventional wages. They just work forever against a $5 loan or a $10 loan where the interest on the loan is enough to keep them working until they're used up. ROMANO: We're dealing with what you should really consider to be disposable people and kind of even a new model of slavery. It used to be that slaves actually were a substantial investment. These children are sold for as little as $5.

They breathe silica, all right? They work in 115-degree heat day in and day out. They carry over a ton of rock on their head. And, by the time they're 35, they're dead. They bleed. They become tubercular. Their backs give out on them. It is -- you know, it is one of the most horrific deaths to watch.

BROWN: These children share more than their agony. The abuse they endure, all of it, is illegal.

MORRIS: There are laws on the books outlawing all of the child labor that we have filmed, but, in many cases, the people whose principal job should be protecting children are actually involved in the economic exploitation of the children. They partner with the owners and operators very comfortably to make a buck.

ROMANO: It's not pretty. It's very hard. It is like sandpaper on your soul to have to experience this year in and year out, you know, and you look for things. And one of the things that I found was that, you know, the salvation is in the kids themselves, in their faces, in their hopes, in their wishes and in their dreams.

BROWN: What many Americans don't realize is the extent of child labor in the United States. Eight hundred thousand children do migrant labor, harvesting the food we eat, and it's only against federal law if the child is under 10.

MORRIS: They miss two to four months of school. As a consequence, those same children have a 65 percent dropout rate in high school. The result is that we are creating and perpetuating a permanent underclass of poor children because migrant farm work is the lowest-paid work in America. It's not illegal. You can work a migrant child 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

BROWN: There is hope, the filmmakers found. Brazil, for example, cuts its child labor problem from four million to two million children in seven years by paying mothers, paying them, to send their children to school instead of sending them off to work.

A child advocacy group created The Rugmark label to identify carpets made without exploiting children. And this fair trade logo ensures that farmers were paid a decent wage for their work. But the real answer, it seems, is much simpler: education.

According to the United Nations, $8 billion a year is what it would cost to send every child in the world to primary school.

ROMANO: We need to take a leadership position for global education. It's really incumbent upon us to start a Marshall Plan for the children of the world.

You want to talk about winning hearts and minds? Let's have a Marshall Plan for children. If you want to win the war on terrorism, you need to win the war on poverty. And if you want to win the war on poverty, you're going to need to educate the children.

BROWN: But until then, over a quarter of a billion children will wait and work. They'll be hidden away in the ocean or in alleyways, hidden in carpet mills, in fields and on mounds of garbage. In a world filled with crises and problems with no solutions, there is a solution here. This can be solved, if we only had the will.


BROWN: "Stolen Childhoods" is a testament to the dedication of the filmmakers. Filmed in eight countries, four continents, seven years to make it. Robin Romano, one of the forces behind the project. You heard from him in the piece, and he joins us now.

Congratulations. It's a very powerful piece of work, and, with luck, as sometimes happens, simply shining the light on a problem helps alleviate a problem.

ROMANO: Yes, it does. What we found is that when we present the film, people come up to us afterwards and say we didn't know about this, and then the second question is, well, what can we do?

And, as a result, at our Web site -- it's -- we've actually shown various initiatives, various groups and various things that people can do.

So the making of this film is very rewarding, both in that we've been able to educate people and that we're now able to direct them to actually make concrete changes.

BROWN: Let me take you back to the kids for a second. What did they think of their lives?

ROMANO: Well, I think many of them felt that their lives were just miserable and wretched, but one thing that was very frightening to me as well was some of the time they didn't even know any better. Their life is just constant toil.

BROWN: That's exactly what I wondered about. That's exactly what I wondered about, if they had any sense -- I know how -- I suppose how simple and middle class this all sounds -- but that kids are supposed to goof around and go to school and play and not be working in quarries and in sweatshops and the rest.

ROMANO: If only that were so. The girl in the yellow dress in the brick kiln really had no idea that there was anything else to life but what she was doing. She was sold into slavery when she was 8 years old. She was 9 when we filmed her. I think her sale price was $5. She was separated from her family, and she knew of nothing else. The poverty is grinding.

BROWN: And -- I mean, I assume here that no parent -- I mean, instinct's a powerful thing. No parent wants to see this life for their child, yet they do it again and again and again. ROMANO: Well, what happens is that you'll find that most of the child laborers and the slaves are the children of child laborers and slaves, and, without education, you just continue this cycle endlessly, and that's really one of the great unfortunate things, is that it won't stop until we begin to educate people, until we begin to meet our commitment to the goal for universal education.

BROWN: But, see -- may I suggest here that to get to that -- that's almost one step ahead. The first thing, I think, that has to happen is there has to be a level of outrage that leads to writing the checks to get kids educated. Absent the outrage, honestly, I think the kids will work in quarries and all these other places until the day they die and they'll be much too young.

ROMANO: Well, Aaron, that's why we made the film. We made the film to put a human face on this tragedy. We made a film to show it to the world, to educate the world, to let them know that this exists and that something really needs to be done about it.

And it's our hope that not only that outrage is generated by the film, but we also show best practices in the film as well and that people know that there are solutions. It can't just all be hopelessness.

BROWN: Robin, nice piece of work that you and your colleagues have all done, and I would hope it gets out there, people see it. Thanks.

ROMANO: Thank you very much, Aaron.

BROWN: Thank you.

And with due respect did we suggest -- I'm not precisely sure there is a simple solution here. Economics clash with cultures and, in some respects, as Robin pointed out, the darker side of human nature.

We're joined now by Bud Kornheim, the CEO of Nicole Miller clothing line here in New York and, in Boston, Kaushik Basu, a professor of international studies and economics at Cornell and a visiting professor at Harvard.

And we're glad to see you both.

Bud, you've had experience with this -- I mean, that's the reality -- and experience -- not -- at its intractability.

BUD KORNHEIM, CEO, NICOLE MILLER: Well, my experience is from the garment center, and Nicole and I were part -- Nicole Miller and I were part of the Clintons' initiative, which was brought about by the Kathy Lee Gifford sweatshop scandal that went on when she -- when they found Wal-Mart's stuff in sweatshops, and she thought she was solving the problem.

Frank Gifford went around spending $100 -- throwing $100 bills around in the shops. But what happened in the initiative -- and I was really cynical at the time because all these -- this is a great piece of journalism, this movie -- we had the same thing at the time.

And it was difficult to get people to respond on the demand level at the stores because you're talking about people that wanted lower prices, and that was driving this entire sweatshop thing all the way back to the child labor.

BROWN: I want to get to the professor in a second. But just, as succinctly, I guess, as you can, talk about the relationship between the price I pay and that kid in the sweatshop.

KORNHEIM: Well, in our experience, with everybody driving the prices down, the search for cheaper and cheaper labor was going on in our industry to where there was -- there were excuses made in all these foreign countries, why kids would boil their hands in boiling water, making silk -- getting the silk out of the silk cocoons and stuff like that, and it was disgusting.

But we solved the -- but you don't see -- you didn't see in this piece any garment center stuff going on there, and there's a good reason for that, and it all started back with the Kathie Lee Gifford thing, and it was outrage at the time, and the leaders of the giant buyers, not the public -- the public -- they felt the public would be outraged.

The Rugmark was part of our thing, and it was something -- it signified better stuff. The outrage got the leaders of stores like J.C. Penney, to force all of us manufacturers to inspect at the factory level and certify that there was the proper labor conditions, no child labor, and it worked. You don't have it anymore.

BROWN: Let me come back to the inspection question in a minute. Let me draw the professor into this. I think, sir, there is -- I think -- a tendency to believe if we just pass a law -- if Indonesia passes a law, if India passes a law -- if we just pass a law, everything will be terrific again, and I think one of the things your work has shown is it is far more complicated than that.

KAUSHIK BASU, CORNELL PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS: That's right. The first reaction sitting in a developed country when you see this problem and people ought to be made aware of the problem, but the first reaction is ban it, stop the product into which any child labor is going in.

But if you've lived in both countries, if you've seen some of child labor, you want it to go away, but you're also aware that some of the children who are working, if you suddenly stop them from work, they're not going to be sitting in school and learning.

But some of them will be driven out into child prostitution. Some of them will be driven into dreadful industries, which, however, are not exported out of the country, and that is what one needs to guard against, and that is what my research has been directed to, that we want child labor to go away, but we don't want to make mistakes.

Like there is evidence, for instance, in Nepal. In 1995, when children were being thrown out of the hand-knotted carpet industry, rightly so, but there was no backup plan for them and there is some evidence gathered by the UNICEF that somewhere between 5,000 to 7,000 girls went into child prostitution.

In Bangladesh, there is some evidence that something similar has happened, and it is this fear that when you're trying to save these children by taking them out of work, unless you have complementary policies, you can throw them into a worse condition, is what I have been writing about and trying to stress the importance of.

BROWN: Just briefly, we then have to rely on something other than law, and I assume that something is market forces?

BASU: Market forces, yes, indeed. That plays a role. You can see that, for instance, in the case of China where in 1950, 48 percent of children used to work. This has been going down steadily. Chinese child labor is down to about 11 percent now, and this is largely due to China's progress and market forces.

But that's -- it's not enough to sit back saying that the market will take care. So you need interventions, interventions in the adult labor market, improving conditions for the adults so that parents become your allies in the effort to take children out of the labor force.

BROWN: But let me go back to a point you made about inspections, and I think even here this is not a perfect solution. I mean, these guys are sophisticated in how they do business, how they hide from inspectors, what they can...

KORNHEIM: No. No, you're wrong. The -- there is no beating. Just -- let's just take J.C. Penney where I have some knowledge.

BROWN: I think you have a lot of knowledge.

KORNHEIM: There's no beating their inspection system. You get caught -- let's say you've got $100 million at stake with selling J.C. Penney, just to pick a number. You get caught using child labor, their contract reads you're finished. It's not we're going to slap you on the wrist. It's none of that stuff.

So the whole idea in the garment center -- you saw this guy's picture. You didn't see anybody at sewing machines there. We have, in the last 10 years, cleaned up the act because of the big buyers like Penney's because they have gone back to manufacturers and made it so tough, and they -- you have to put-- print certificates of inspection on this thing, A, because they don't want their name associated with child labor because the scandal was so bad with the Kathie Lee Gifford at the time.

So your show, starting off with this stuff in the other areas, is perfect because this is where it has to start, is this kind of show, embarrass the food markets to -- that are buying this stuff, which -- you can't ask the public to go and figure out which peaches...

BROWN: What is and what isn't. KORNHEIM: ... was being picked by which kid, but the food markets can do exactly what people like J.C. Penney did, which is to say you're out of here if you are indulging this kind of labor practice anywhere along the line.

I'm talking about way back until picking cotton in the fields, and you have to sign certificates, and they have their inspectors that go out and inspect your inspectors. So there's no getting out of it.

BROWN: Nice to see you. Thank you for coming in tonight.

Thank you, Professor. Likewise. Thanks for joining us tonight.

We'll -- we will visit this again, I suspect.

We have much more ahead tonight. The boss gets a going-over from the troops. It doesn't happen often, but it did happen on the road to Iraq today, and you'll hear it.

Later, is Martha the next Oprah? We'll talk about daytime TV and the show she gets when she gets out of prison.

And who pays the legal price when fans throw beer and players throw haymakers? The basket brawl in court today.





Lance Cpl. Jeramy A. Ailes, 22 years old; Gilroy, California; 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Reg., 1st Marine Division, 1 Marine Expeditionary Force; died November 15 as a result of enemy action in Al Anbar Province.

Lance Cpl. Travis R. DeSiato, 19 years old; Bedford, Massachusetts; 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Reg., 2nd Marine Division, 11 Marine Expeditionary Force; died November 15 as a result of enemy action in Al Anbar Province.

Lance Cpl. George J. Payton, 20 years old; Culver City, California; 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Reg., 1st Marine Division, 1 Marine Expeditionary Force; died November 14 as a result of enemy action in Al Anbar Province.


BROWN: We have a couple of 19-year-olds and a 20-year-old tonight.

In Iraq today, more of the same. It's a terrible way to put it when you're talking about human lives, but it is the way things are these days. In the northern city of Samarra, a suicide car bomber tried to take out a U.S. convoy, instead killing half a dozen Iraqis.

Similar picture in Ramadi. A suicide bomber and a mortar attack nearby and a firefight between insurgents and U.S. Marines.

And so it goes. Anywhere between 60 and 240 attacks a day. That's one kind of daily reality.

The other is this: Every day, chances are that American women -- American men and women go on to potentially deadly encounters in trucks and Humvees without enough armor plating, and today in Kuwait, the defense secretary spoke at a town hall meeting for troops who have served in Iraq or are heading for Iraq.

Secretary Rumsfeld, we ought to point out, says he enjoys tough questions, and he got them from the troops today. We should also point out that soldiers complain about everything, but, when they complain about this, it does get your attention.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've had troops in Iraq for -- coming up on three years, and we've always staged here out of Kuwait. Now why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up armor our vehicles, and why don't we have those resources readily available to us?


DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I missed the first part of your question. And could you -- could you repeat it for me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Mr. Secretary. Our soldiers have been fighting in Iraq for coming up on three years. A lot of us are getting ready to move north relatively soon. Our vehicles are not armored.

We're digging pieces of rusted scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass that's already been shot up, dropped, busted, picking the best out of this scrap to put on our vehicles to take into combat. We do not have proper armament vehicles to carry with us north.

RUMSFELD: I talked -- I talked to the general coming out here about the pace at which the vehicles are being armored. They have been brought from all over the world, wherever they're not needed to a place here where they are needed.

I'm told that they're being -- the Army is -- I think it's something like 400 a month are being done, and it's essentially a matter of physics. It isn't a matter of money. It isn't a matter on the part of Army of desire. It's a matter of production and capability of doing it.

As you know, you go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time, and if you think about it, you can have all the armor in the world on a tank and a tank can be blown up.


BROWN: The secretary was also questioned about his policy of using stop-loss orders to keep skilled people from leaving the service. He called it a fact of life. Others, though, are calling it something else.

The stop-loss, the shortage of armor and more, they say, are symptomatic of an overburdened military and a boss too stubborn to admit it.

So, from the Pentagon tonight, CNN's Jamie McIntyre.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Rumsfeld's statement that you go to war with the Army you have is seen by critics as a tacit admission the Pentagon failed to anticipate the post-invasion insurgency and, therefore, didn't provide U.S. troops with enough armor to help protect against roadside bombs and rocket- propelled grenades.

SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: What's even more shocking than the statement of it anyways is the apparent lack of concern showed by the administration.

MCINTYRE: The Pentagon admits it was caught short last year and that some soldiers have jerryrigged their own armor in the past. But it says 75 percent of the roughly 19,000 Humvees in Iraq are now armored and that, while more armor kits are being rushed to Iraq, unarmored Humvees are being relegated to low-threat areas.

LARRY DIRITA, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: If they're going to drive their vehicles into Iraq, they drive in armored vehicles. If their vehicles aren't armored, they -- the policy is that they are convoyed on other vehicles, they're put on the back of trucks.

MCINTYRE: But the soldiers are more worried about those trucks, which usually don't have armor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The flat-bed trucks are not armored. That's correct.

MCINTYRE: And while the commander of the troops in Kuwait, Major General Gary Speer, says he's not aware his soldiers search landfills for scrap metal and used bulletproof glass, the adjutant general of the Tennessee National Guard unit Rumsfeld addressed said in a written release, "I'm surprised by General Speer's statement. i know that members of his staff were aware and assisted in obtaining these materials."

The head of the National Guard at the Pentagon disputes the perception that Guard soldiers are treated as second-class citizens.

LT. GEN. STEVEN BLUM, CHIEF NATIONAL GUARD BUREAU: There's no other way to put it. It's an old myth that needs to go away.


MCINTYRE: The Pentagon says when these particular soldiers who were in discussions with Secretary Rumsfeld in Kuwait -- when they move into Iraq, they will not be driving in unarmored Humvees. They'll fall in on equipment that is being left behind by the troops they're replacing. But, again, to get there, they've got to take a lot of that stuff in trucks and other vehicles that are not armored -- Aaron.

BROWN: Just quickly, I mean, if I say it or if you report it, I suppose to some people they just sort of blow it off. If a soldier stands up and says it to the defense secretary, it's something else. Were they embarrassed at the Pentagon today?

MCINTYRE: Well, they insisted they weren't. They said that's the whole point of these kind of town hall meetings, is for Rumsfeld to hear firsthand from the soldiers what's on their mind, and he said in these kind of meetings in the past, he's taken these kind of comments and used them in order to influence the policy or light a fire under people at the Pentagon.

Aand I have to say, having traveled with Rumsfeld a bit, I've heard quite a few pointed questions sent to the secretary. This one, though, is on a very hot-button issue and was a matter of -- really of life and death, and I think that's why it had so much resonance.

BROWN: It certainly has. Jamie, thank you very much.

Jamie McIntyre.

A few other quick items here.

The insurgents today shot and killed a top official of the Iraqi finance ministry today.

And, in a follow-up to our report last night on alleged abuses in Iraq and elsewhere, we learned today that four U.S. servicemen, members of an elite unit, have been disciplined for abusing Iraqi prisoners. The abuse included the unauthorized use of taser stun guns. According to officials, this unfolded sometime last spring. Four troops were given administrative punishment, the lowest level of military punishment.

Back in Washington, as expected, the Senate approved the intelligence reform bill 89-2. The only votes against: Senator Byrd, Democrat from West Virginia; Senator Jim Inhofe, Republican from Oklahoma. Senator Byrd objects to some of the law-enforcement provisions that he and others believe will threaten civil liberties. The president tonight praised the vote, says he looks forward to signing the bill.

Still to come on "Newsnight" tonight, when house arrest meets the happy homemaker or take a dozen gray bars and bake until golden brown. We've got a million of them. We also have a man who' betting Martha Stewart's comeback will work. NBC's Jeff Zucker.

Also, a different recipe -- basketball, beer and the law.

But, before we do that, we pause for that refreshment, if you will. This is "Newsnight."


BROWN: OK, so, here's the scenario: prison, then a stretch of house arrest, after that, a national syndicated hour-long daytime television program produced by the same guy who does "Survivor" and "The Apprentice." A deal like that and John Dillinger might have chosen to die in his sleep instead of a hail of tommy gun fire.

But for him, it was that or Sing Sing, take it or leave it. And another thing. Dillinger was no Martha Stewart.

So, her story, now, not his, from CNN's Mary Snow.


MARK BURNETT, PRODUCER: And I cannot wait until she comes out of jail and we can work together. And that was her yesterday, by the way, in the prison kitchen.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Reality TV brain child Mark Burnett is bringing to NBC what could be the ultimate reality show, convicted felon Martha Stewart as a TV talk show host this fall.

JEFF ZUCKER, PRESIDENT, NBC: We're thrilled to have Martha back at NBC.

SNOW: Stewart will host an hour-long syndication show. She inked her TV deal before going to prison and she can't conduct business while serving time at Alderson. She is serving five months for lying to federal investigators about a stock sale. Her company's CEO says there was no hesitation about making the announcement while she is serving time.

SUSAN LYNE, CEO, MARTHA STEWART LIVING OMNIMEDIA: This is a forgiving country. People love redemption stories. And I think Martha did something very brave by deciding she was going to serve this term before any appeal took place.

SNOW: Her experience behind bars will be part of the show. Her new producer, who has visited her in prison, says interest in her has only grown.

BURNETT: Here is the first time ever probably for the general public to hear from someone what it's really like to be in jail.

SNOW (on camera): Mark Burnett did visit Martha Stewart in jail. But he said they did not talk business, since that's forbidden while Stewart is serving time. Her company also said that the final arrangements of this TV deal were done without Martha Stewart.

Mary Snow, CNN, New York.


BROWN: Well, with due respect, if you want to know what it's like to really be in jail, I can introduce you to some people who really do know.

In any case, Jeff Zucker, who you saw in Mary's report, clearly enjoys getting the get. He's been chasing it ever since his days running "The Today Show" at NBC and we imagine long before that. Quick the competitor, Mr. Zucker is, and the stakes keep getting higher. He's now the president of NBC Universal Television Group.

And we talked with him earlier tonight.


BROWN: Jeff, I suppose, like any business, television is at some level risk/reward. What's the risk with putting Martha Stewart on?

ZUCKER: Well, I think the risk is that some people will think that we're poking an eye at the criminal justice system and putting somebody who has gone to jail on the air and that her fan base will have evaporated. I agree with none of that. And I don't think it's true. And I don't think it's all that's risky.

I think that, quite frankly, she's going to be an even bigger television celebrity and superstar than before her problems began. And I think we're going to have great reward. And I think the risk is actually minimal.

BROWN: Well, I would expect you to say all of those things because this is an important time. You don't think she's been, in any sense, damaged? It's not just that she was convicted of something and went to jail for something. It's that things were said in the trial, in much the same way things were said about Rosie O'Donnell in her case. You don't think that's hurt her?

ZUCKER: I don't. I think, in fact, she's the quintessential American success story who became one of the world's first female billionaires, successful CEOs, who obviously endured a difficult time and was at the height of her game and was taken down at that height. And I think it's going to be one of the great comeback stories of next year, the comeback of Martha Stewart.

BROWN: Every year, not dozens, but plenty of people try and get into that game, the daytime. And it's proven to be a very tough nut to crack. Why is that?

ZUCKER: Well, there's no question daytime television, like all of television, is very difficult, littered with failures.

But the fact is, Martha Stewart has a track record of success. Her daytime program was actually quite successful for many years. And I think every show, be it prime-time shows or daytime shows or new shows, often need a retooling at some point. And I think, perhaps, the Martha Stewart daytime show was ready for a retooling. And I think this is going to be very fortuitous, that she's taken this break from daytime television, now teamed up with Mark Burnett, one of the most successful producers of television of this day.

Susan Lyne, who use to run ABC Entertainment, is now running Martha's company. I think those three minds together, Susan and Mark and Martha, actually, there's probably never such brain power and creativity behind a daytime show like this.

BROWN: How long will it take before you know if a program like that is successful?

ZUCKER: Well, look, we'll know early on, because I think you have a sense of these things pretty quickly, as you know. But the fact is, I expect it to be successful right out of the gate. The fact is, she has a fan base that's stayed very loyal to her. And I think there's actually going to be, as there is in America, an interest in what the new show is and in Martha Stewart and is she going to talk about where she was and what she learned there and things like that.

There's always a period of interest in these things. And I think actually it will be even greater than it was before.

BROWN: Got about a minute. One more slightly off question. Are you surprised at how long the reality TV boomlet has lasted?

ZUCKER: I'm not, because I think the thing that people who wonder about really television, I think the thing they miss is how well-produced those shows are.

Programs like "Survivor" and "The Apprentice," both from Mark Burnett, and "American Idol" and "Amazing Race," and even "Fear Factor" on NBC, which has taken a lot of heat for a lot of the stuff, the thing that I think people miss about every ones of those programs is, they're incredibly well-produced. And well-produced programs, be it in entertainment, scripted, nonscripted, news programs, well- produced programs will succeed and survive.

And I think the people who have looked down upon reality programming haven't given those programs enough credit for how well- produced they are.

BROWN: It's nice to finally see you.

ZUCKER: It's great to see you, Aaron.

BROWN: Thank you.

ZUCKER: Congratulations on all your success.

BROWN: Thank you. Nice of you to say.


BROWN: Jeff Zucker. We talked with him earlier tonight.

Coming ahead on the program, athletes and fans behaving badly in Detroit, very badly, perhaps criminally badly, how the courtside brawl landed in court.

Also ahead, the power of still photos, from mass graves to household raids, the measure of Iraq in transition.

Around the world, this is NEWSNIGHT.


BROWN: Odd out in the streets tonight.

If good sportsmanship has become an anachronism in professional athletes, the same can be said for its fans, plenty of truth there and plenty of facts to support it, including this. What began as a brawl at a basketball game last month took a criminal turn today, athletes and fans alike called to account by the law.

Reporting tonight, CNN's Eric Philips.


ERIC PHILIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This scene from the November 19 brawl at the Pistons-Pacers game is etched in the minds of basketball fans and the public at large. The NBA stepped in almost immediately, suspending four Pacers players as a result of the disturbance.

Now several have been charged with crimes. Jermaine O'Neal has been charged with two counts of misdemeanor assault and battery, while teammates Ron Artest, Stephen Jackson, Anthony Johnson and David Harrison all were charged with one count. Also, five fans have been charged in this brawl. One with a felony for throwing a chair. John Green is one of those charged. Authorities say it all started when he threw a drink at Ron Artest and Artest charged the stands.

DAVID GORCYCA, OAKLAND COUNTY PROSECUTOR: In my opinion, I would like to hold Mr. Green more accountable, because had not he thrown that cup and struck Artest, we wouldn't be here today.

PHILIPS: The local police chief is hoping these charges send a strong message.

DOREEN OLKO, AUBURNS HILL POLICE CHIEF: We hope that this incident can serve as a turning point to mark the return of sportsmanship and civilized conduct of players and of their fans at all levels of sport competition.

PHILIPS: Authorities say NBA players are told to not enter the stands during games. And fans are cautioned that disturbing behavior could cause them to be ejected from the facility.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fact that you have a ticket does not mean you have a license to harass or batter players, whether or not they enter into the playing -- off the playing area and into the spectator seating.

PHILIPS: Authorities say more people could still be charged.

Eric Philips, CNN, Atlanta.


BROWN: Ahead on the program tonight, two different views of war and the story they tell frame by frame.

And also ahead, of course, morning papers. The rooster shows up, as always.

A break first.


BROWN: In many ways, we've watched the past 20 months in Iraq unfold in fragments, news report by news report, the stories themselves shaped by the constraints of war. Together, the pieces comprise a whole. Collecting them is the challenge of Dutch photographer Geert van Kesteren. He's taken this on. And the title of his book, "Why Mister, Why?" comes from a question so asked of American troops. There are of course no easy answers.


GEERT VAN KESTEREN, PHOTOGRAPHER: In total, I spent seven months in Iraq. I came in a few days after the war ended. I came in.

At first, I thought I missed the war. It's bad as a photographer. But, actually, then the war was starting. So, from the first week, I was in Iraq, I have been concentrating on how the Americans and the Iraqis are communicating with each other.

I'm trying to explain what is happening in Iraq. If I'm with a platoon of soldiers who are in Iraq for 10 months without translator who are raiding houses, who don't understand a word of Arabic, who are telling me, listen, Iraqis will never like you, so they must fear you, if that's what they are telling me, then that's what my photographs will show.

When I'm with an Iraqi family, I want to see their perception as well. I want to feel how they live and what it is to be in a war, an ever-lasting war. The mass graves has been, within my career as a photographer, I think, one of the most saddest things I've ever, ever, ever witnessed.

We went in a truck into the desert. And there was nothing to see. And suddenly, in the middle of the desert, there were old shoes, 10-year-old shoes who were laying there. People took a shovel, started digging. And, suddenly, hundreds of dead bodies came out of the ground. There was one family, the family of Teda Hafet (ph). And she found the remains of two of her sons.

It shows Iraq just after the war, this bizarre place, full of weapons, destruction. But people also would laugh. And you see a woman kissing an American soldier. There's still hope. People want to try to live again.

Then the discovery of these horrible mass graves, it explains a lot, that, yes, Saddam was a brutal dictator. The book has been built up in several different pieces, but that shows the whole -- if I just emphasized the mass graves or I just emphasized the raids or I just emphasized the bombs, I only had a small part of this historic year in Iraq. It's about giving everybody a fair chance to see what happened and what's going on in Iraq.


BROWN: Man, there have been lots of powerful pieces on the program tonight.

Morning papers after the break.



BROWN: Okeydoke, time to check morning papers from around the country and around the world.

"The Christian Science Monitor" starts it off. "Social Security Bush's Quiet War. He Pushes the Idea of Private Accounts, But the Initiative May be the Hardest of His Second Term." This is going to be one of the great national debates in the next four years. And I hope it is a debate. There are a lot of interesting sides to this, I think.

All right, lots of interesting ways papers headlined the Rumsfeld moment today, which was a very interesting moment. "Stars and Stripes" deserves to lead it off. And they even put it on the front page. That may have to do with their deadline. "Ruling Said to Weaken DOD's Policy on Gays. Military Court Overturns Soldier's Conviction on Sodomy Charges." That sounds like a good story. We should follow that up tomorrow, guys.

"The Philadelphia Inquirer." "Troops Go" -- "Grill" -- that's grill, Aaron -- "Rumsfeld as Insurgents Fight On," pretty straight- ahead lead.

"Chattanooga Times Free Press." "Hillbilly Armor for 278th." They localize the story. "Soldiers Question Defense Secretary on Lack of Vehicle Armor in Iraq." How can you not be embarrassed when a guy stands up and asks that question? I mean, my goodness.

"Defensive Secretary" is -- that's a good headline, isn't it? "San Antonio Express-News," is the way they managed that.

"The Des Moines Register." I like this headline, too, out there in Des Moines, Iowa. "Rumsfeld Encounters Some Friendly Fire," again looking at the question of armor in the vehicles. It's actually -- it's a very outrageous thing. I'm not taking sides in the war here, but goodness, you know? These are our kids.

"The Cincinnati Enquirer." I'm falling in love with this paper. They just do a really nice job all over the front page. "Guards at Girls Prison Indicted. Five Charged With Assault and Molestation." A good local story up top. "Rumsfeld on the Defensive" is how they handled that. A lot of good things on the front page if you're in Cincinnati.

How much time do I got? Fifteen?

"Chicago Sun-Times." By the way, pantyhose are out. The weather tomorrow in Chicago, "grumbly." Even in Chicago, pantyhose are out. What do you know?

We'll wrap it up in a moment.


BROWN: Time to plan your morning TV watching. Here's Bill Hemmer with a look at "AMERICAN MORNING."



Tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING" a family tied together with a lit fuse. Meet the Loizeaux family, the demolition dynasty that sticks together by blowing things up. More than 7,000 buildings, bridges and towers have met their end at the hands of this family. And now they're ready for prime time. We'll explain all that and also what brought them to this unusual life calling and profession. Hear their story tomorrow morning at 7:00 a.m. Eastern time. Hope to see you then -- Aaron.


BROWN: I hope that doesn't bomb. Just one of those things.

We'll see you tomorrow, 10:00 Eastern time. Good night for all of us.


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