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PAULA ZAHN NOW

Racial Profiling a Reality in America?; Biden's Blunder; Dream Denied For African-American Homeowners?

Aired February 1, 2007 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: And thank you all for joining us tonight.
Here are some of the stories we're bringing out in the open tonight.

Racial profiling. Police aren't supposed to stop you based on the color of your skin -- just ahead, a shocking report on just how often it happens.

Dream denied -- owning your own home is the American dream. So, why is it still so much harder for many blacks to get a mortgage when they have the same credit history as whites?

E-mail intolerance -- scandal rips through a police department where dozens of cops have been trading racist and sexist e-mails.

And, for the first time, tonight, we are out into the open tonight racial profiling in a different way. Imagine police singling you out based on nothing more than the color of your skin? Police aren't supposed to do that.

But, if you think it doesn't happen, or that it isn't a problem, take a look at what police in Washington, D.C., found out when they looked at the numbers.

Deborah Feyerick has that story for us tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... that, you know, they see a young black male with dreads, usually, they think I'm up to no good.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's happened twice to Clinton Norman (ph). He says he was in Washington's Georgetown neighborhood on his way home from work when he was stopped by police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I fit the description. That's the first thing out of their mouth when they stopped me. Then they, you know, go through the basic procedures, check my I.D., check my bags or pat me down or something.

FEYERICK: A report commissioned by the Metropolitan Police Department finds, blacks and Hispanics were stopped at a higher rate in two D.C. neighborhoods popular with tourists. At a street corner in predominantly white Georgetown, blacks were six times more likely to be stopped. In the more racially mixed Adams Morgan area, blacks and Hispanics were two times more likely to be stopped.

Bruce Gordon, interviewed about racism among police, heads the NAACP.

BRUCE GORDON, PRESIDENT, NAACP: There is a presumption, unfortunately, that, if you are black, the likelihood of your guilt is greater.

FEYERICK: The Metropolitan Police Department is 63 percent black, 6 percent Hispanic, and 29 percent white.

Kristopher Baumann heads the police union.

KRISTOPHER BAUMANN, CHAIRMAN, FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE: We have already shown, across the city, this isn't going on. There isn't any bias.

FEYERICK: Racism, he says, is not a problem. In fact, of the 25 pedestrian and traffic locations analyzed, only the Georgetown and Adams Morgan street corners showed any increase.

BAUMANN: The headline should be, 99 percent of the time, reports showed the Metropolitan Police Department do not have any bias in their stops. We have got a statistical anomaly that we may want to take a look at.

FEYERICK: The report did not give a reason why people had been stopped, but, in the last several years, the two areas have witnessed very high-profile crimes.

BAUMANN: We're not out there picking on individuals because of their race, their ethnicity. We're out there doing police work, trying to stop crime.

GORDON: There is little, if any, doubt in my mind that there is what I will call informal training that encourages police officers to treat black folks differently than they treat the balance of society.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are some other things that we can do.

FEYERICK: Even so, acting Chief Cathy Lanier took to the radio, assuring the public, steps would be taken to correct the problem.

CATHY LANIER, ACTING D.C. POLICE CHIEF: I don't care if it's one intersection or -- or more. It's still an issue that we have to be really cognizant of and pay close attention to.

Deborah Feyerick, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: There's a lot of talk in Congress about passing a federal law against racial profiling.

So, let's bring in tonight's "Out in the Open," panel, Republican strategist Leslie Sanchez, political commentator Carl Jeffers, who is heard on KIRO -- you say KIRO -- Radio...

CARL JEFFERS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: That's right.

(LAUGHTER)

ZAHN: ... and writes for "The Seattle Times" and HuffingtonPost.com, and constitutional lawyer -- that would be constitutional lawyer -- Michael Gross.

Always good to have you with us.

Welcome back.

JEFFERS: Good to see you again, Paula.

ZAHN: And brand new to us.

(LAUGHTER)

ZAHN: Let's talk a little bit about the numbers. So, we know that the surveys show that only two of 25 pedestrian stops reveal profiling. But, in those cases, it was blacks who were six times more likely to be stopped.

LESLIE SANCHEZ, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Right.

ZAHN: Is this overreaction on the police department, or have they studied the numbers and they know that that's where crime has been centered?

SANCHEZ: Well, I don't know about crime, but I would say it's probably a combination of the two.

I talked to a lot of law enforcement officials about this. And they said, you know, agents are taught to trust their gut instinct, to look for certain things. And, sometimes, that does include race, ethnicity, you know, kind of where they are, what circumstances. And they're making judgments.

But, sometimes, their own personal prejudices come in line with that. So, it's this balancing act of what's the right choice. And -- and, clearly, the D.C. department of -- you know, the police department wants to look at this more critically, and offer some training, and make sure that it's not particularly aimed at African- American or Latino.

ZAHN: Does the police department have the right to make assumptions based on previous history at these stops?

MICHAEL GROSS, CONSTITUTIONAL ATTORNEY: No.

ZAHN: Why? GROSS: Well, because...

ZAHN: Isn't that what we do in all of our businesses, synthesize numbers...

GROSS: First of all...

ZAHN: ... try to figure out how to target our resources?

GROSS: ... D.C. has the highest concentration of blacks of any city in the United States of America. So, to look at all of those other 20 districts and say there wasn't an imbalance in the stops is a false figure, because those are black neighborhoods.

So, the number and percentages of blacks who were stopped match their ratio in the population.

But where you go to the white neighborhoods in D.C., the black -- those are the two that come up -- the black stops are way out of ratio, six times as often. So, you have got black cops, as well as white cops, patrolling white neighborhoods who say: There's a black man. Stop him. Find out what he's doing here.

Take off the blinders. Forget this cleaning up, trying. It isn't working. There is racism. There is protection. There is discrimination. And courses and classes are not getting us anywhere.

ZAHN: Is there any justification for what has happened in these districts?

JEFFERS: Well, there's some justification, Paula, because, clearly, when you're dealing with low-income and economically deprived areas, that naturally instigates a higher level of crime. And we all understand that that is the case.

However, what Leslie said was that you bring your personal prejudices into the job place with you. If you're talking about being at the club, maybe out at the social events with your family, I could accept that.

But these are law enforcement officials, whose salaries are paid by the citizens for whom they are designed to protect them. And there is no acceptability, of any level, of bringing your personal prejudices into that kind of an arena.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: But you have heard the argument, though, that -- that security is compromised if you don't do some form of racial profiling.

GROSS: Look, we're talking about Georgetown. We're not talking about low-income areas. That's the whole point.

The point is that you cannot identify a criminal because of the color of their skin. And, the more you do that, the more it becomes a self-perpetuating philosophy. In other words, the more you alienate this group of people, the more they are likely to feel...

(CROSSTALK)

JEFFERS: You can only bring in -- you can only bring in your personal prejudices if you are, in fact, out in Georgetown in the white areas, because that's where you're called on to make those kinds of judgments.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Should Congress ban racial profiling? That is something that is under consideration.

SANCHEZ: You know, Congress could say they want to do that.

But, really, I think it ties law enforcement one hand behind their back, in the sense that -- nobody is condoning racial profiling specifically. But there are specific characteristics that law enforcement is trained to look for. And you just don't want to blur those lines.

I think I -- I agree with you, in the sense of accountability. You have to hold people accountable, that you're not looking at people at -- jeopardizing just because of race, or targeting because of race.

I mean, look at the border. If you look at the U.S.-Mexico border, you have Hispanic, predominantly Hispanic border agents, Hispanic cops, who are targeting Mexicans and -- and pretty much Mexican-Americans.

And I talked to them today. And they're like: You know, we do it every day. And it's a conscious effort for us not to racially profile.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: We have got to leave it there.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Will you stand by?

I have got a lot more to talk to all three of you about.

Out in the open next: Was this woman turned down for a mortgage because of the color of her skin? This is the woman we were talking about.

And, then, a little bit later on: Joe Biden's remarks about Barack Obama. We are going to find out Glenn Beck of Headline Prime news has to say about that tonight .

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ZAHN: Another story that's out in the open tonight: nearly a third of one Seattle-area police force under suspicion in a scandal over racist and sexist e-mails on the job.

Up first, though, we continue bringing you the controversy over racial profiling out in the open. But, this time, it's all about the color of money and the absolute shock of one working mom when she tried to buy her dream home.

Now, it's a fact that some people pay more for the same home mortgage, but could race be the deciding factor?

He's Gerri Willis with a story that could affect thousands of American families.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR (voice-over): Owning your own home is the American dream, but it may be out of reach, or at least harder to reach, for some Americans than others. Some, like Nannatte, who asked us to withhold her last name, say it all depends on the color of your skin.

(on camera): What does it feel like?

NANNATTE, CLAIMS DISCRIMINATION: It makes you feel like you want to just punch the world.

(LAUGHTER)

NANNATTE: I mean, it's -- it's just so unbelievable to not -- to not like someone, to not trust someone, to not give someone a chance because of their skin color, because of their race, to me, especially in a bank, because green is the only color I think they should look at.

WILLIS (voice-over): From the bank's point of view, Nannatte, like millions of other Americans, may not be the perfect loan candidate. She has a low credit score and had previously filed for bankruptcy. But she still chased her dream.

NANNATTE: I have two boys, so I wanted a house for them, a yard for them, you know, for us.

WILLIS: But, when Nannatte applied for a loan with Fifth Third Bank to buy her dream home in 2003, she was turned down. Nannatte's story might have ended there, except she works in the industry, and refused to take no for an answer.

NANNATTE: And I started writing letters. I started e-mailing. I -- I wrote a letter to HUD.

(on camera): The department of Housing and Urban Development.

NANNATTE: Yes. And they're the ones who contacted me back and got in touch with the bank. WILLIS (voice-over): HUD agreed to investigate and found that, at the same time that Nannatte was turned down for a loan, people with similar or even weaker financial histories were approved by the bank, and nearly all of them were white.

In a statement sent to CNN, Fifth Third Bank said it -- quote -- "stands by our lending practices."

Federal law prohibits race playing any part in the lending process, but one nonprofit organization says, their studies have shown it still happens all the time.

JOHN TAYLOR, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NATIONAL COMMUNITY REINVESTMENT COALITION: We have sent paired testers into six major metropolitan areas. And it was just rampant, I mean, the difference in treatment that people get. We controlled for credit scores. We controlled for employment histories. We controlled for how much income they have. And, in spite of all that, you know, 45 percent of the time, better products were offered to the whites.

WILLIS: And what are those not-so-hot deals the others are offered? Something called subprime loans, geared toward people with less-than-perfect credit and often carrying much higher interest rates.

Another study, this one by the Center For Responsible Lending, found that borrowers of color were 30 percent more likely to receive a higher-rate loan than white borrowers, even after accounting for differences in credit scores and other risk factors.

But industry insiders argue that there is no racism in their industry, and cases like Nannatte's are isolated.

DOUG DUNCAN, CHIEF ECONOMIST AND SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, MORTGAGE BANKERS ASSOCIATION: I have been in the mortgage arena for about 15 years now. And, for about 13 of that, I have -- that's been an issue that's been on my plate and responsibility. And I have yet to see any systematic evidence of differential treatment for racial groups in all the research that I have seen that has borne scientific scrutiny.

WILLIS: Both groups say their studies are absolutely scientific and stand by their results.

But, for now, the reality for Nannatte is, she didn't get the house of her dreams.

(on camera): What did you tell your kids?

NANNATTE: I couldn't tell my two boys. I couldn't say it out loud, "We did not get that house because mommy is African-American, and they didn't want to give her a chance."

WILLIS (voice-over): Nannatte did get a chance and a house, thanks to her persistence and help from HUD. And she also got a $125,000 settlement from Fifth Third Bank, though they denied any discriminatory lending. Gerri Willis, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: If you think you have been a victim of mortgage discrimination or you have a complaint about a lender, you can call the HUD discrimination hot line at 1-800-669-9777, or visit HUD.gov.

We are going to put this story straight to our "Out in the Open" panel next.

But also ahead: Headline Prime's Glenn Beck on Senator Joe Biden's blunder, at the expense of his African-American presidential rival.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLENN BECK, HOST, "GLENN BECK": There is a double standard, because, if he was a Republican, the other side would crucify him. They would crucify him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Welcome back. We're talking about mortgage discrimination and whether blacks and other minorities are at a distinct disadvantage when they apply for loans.

Let's turn this over to our "Out in the Open" panel, Republican strategist Leslie Sanchez, political commentator Carl Jeffers, who is heard on KIRO Radio in Seattle, and writes for "The Seattle Times" and TheHuffingtonPost.com. Also with us, constitutional lawyer Michael Gross.

Welcome back, you all.

So, Carl...

JEFFERS: Yes?

ZAHN: ... do you think that these lenders are purposefully discriminating against blacks?

JEFFERS: Well, I think that they feel that it's in their best business interest to, as they say, be prudent.

But one of the people that we interviewed, you know, when he said, in all my 15 years, I have never run across a case of racial discrimination, and so forth, whenever I hear that, I know that's the guy we want to interview right away, because he absolutely has run across it, and it's always just a subterfuge.

The reality is, yes, people who have lower incomes, lower educational levels, which obviously means that we're talking about minorities to a higher degree in this country, African-Americans, Hispanics, are prone to have, as a result, lower-paying jobs, more instability, more irregularities. And, so, their credit is going to be subprime or less than A credit.

But the reality is also that, if the same risk assessment is being made -- and we saw that in the study -- where blacks were still getting fewer loans, even when the risks were the same, that is predatory and discriminatory of subprime mortgage lending. And we must be more proactive in making sure that these lenders have accountability, and, since they do get funding from the federal government, and take deposits, that we do have some leverage, to make sure that they equalize the amount of distribution of those loans.

ZAHN: What explanation do you have that -- that, in many cases, you have whites and blacks with similar credit histories going in, and it's the white that gets approved and -- and the black that isn't?

SANCHEZ: There's no defense for it.

But, ultimately, I think people are into making money. I mean, I do look at it that way, from a capitalist perspective, and say, if you balance it out, they should be treated fairly.

But look at the risk, in terms of Hispanic -- I will talk about the Hispanic market and under-served communities. There's a lot of different types of credit history. They may have a long credit history. They may have to pool several different members of the family to have the resources to pay the mortgage.

And Hispanics, for example, will hold a mortgage for 30 years, vs. other families, like non-Hispanic whites, that will flip over their homes and buy several. Those are factors that a traditional financial market sector, or, for example, primary and secondary mortgage lenders, do not take into consideration.

Now, the free market, you have different associations, like the Hispanic National Mortgage Association, that is doing that.

ZAHN: Sure.

SANCHEZ: But, before that, I wouldn't say it's purposely discriminatory. It's just not understanding the market.

ZAHN: Banks are in the business to make money.

GROSS: Yes.

ZAHN: And you look at this one study, and it was pretty convincing that blacks significantly defaulted on loans at a greater rate than whites.

GROSS: Yes.

ZAHN: Doesn't a bank have a right to take that into account?

GROSS: Sure, they do, as insurance companies take into account youngsters who drive cars. They raise their rates because the experience of claims is higher.

But the vicious part that you're missing is that it is the discrimination, the racism, in the first place that reduces the equality of opportunity, so that people of color get less chance, get less health care, get less education, earn less money. So, they populate the impoverished areas.

Yes, people with less money tend to default on their loans. It's not that black people default on their loans. That's false reasoning. It's that people with less money to. And the racist culture reduces the equal opportunity for black people.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: I don't look at it black and white, in terms of a racist culture. I say a lot of it has to do with financial literacy. A lot of it has to do with financial education.

GROSS: No. Ask this woman whose mortgage was denied.

SANCHEZ: There's no doubt that there are certain circumstances when something like that happens, and it's clearly -- it's erroneous, wrong.

(CROSSTALK)

GROSS: Remember redlining? That was the word.

SANCHEZ: No, but, clearly, I do not buy into the fact that, every single time somebody is denied, it's a racism issue; it's something against race.

There are people that do not have the financial stability. There are people that need to learn the financial literacy skills. People are not always victims. People just need education.

GROSS: So what? That doesn't get...

(CROSSTALK)

GROSS: ... racism.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: So what?

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: I can only give you 15 seconds...

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

JEFFERS: OK.

ZAHN: ... about whether you think imposing severe punishments on banks who practice these kinds of unfair tactics...

JEFFERS: Right.

SANCHEZ: Yes.

JEFFERS: You're taking my 15 seconds, Paula. Listen -- listen...

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: I own it. I own the show. I can take whatever I want.

(LAUGHTER)

JEFFERS: The reality is -- the reality is, I actually support the entire emerging industry of subprime loans, because there have been many minorities over the last 10 years who have now been able to get mortgages, even at a higher interest rate, granted. But at least they're getting mortgages.

And we have to make sure that that continues. However, the -- the bottom line is that, yes, I believe in severe punishment and really, really leveraging those banks and financial institutions who use and employ predatory practices.

ZAHN: Got to leave it there, gang.

GROSS: Foreclosures are going up, too.

ZAHN: See you in a couple minutes.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

ZAHN: I want you all to stick around -- plenty more to debate tonight.

JEFFERS: So, we are going to be back?

ZAHN: You are going to be back.

JEFFERS: OK.

ZAHN: Please.

(LAUGHTER)

ZAHN: Senator Biden kicked off his presidential run with his foot in his mouth. In a moment, hear what Headline Prime's Glenn Beck has to say about Biden's blunder.

Also out in the open, in Seattle, a scandal over dozens of cops and racist and graphically sexist e-mail on the job.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ZAHN: Now to a story we have been following closely.

Yesterday, Senator Joe Biden stepped into the race for president and right into a controversy that brings race out into the open.

Listen to what he said when a reporter asked him about his possible rival, Senator Barack Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I mean, you have got the first sort of mainstream African- American, who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, it's -- that's a storybook, man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: And what perfect timing for "Beck Talk," our weekly visit with Headline Prime's Glenn Beck.

You are rolling your eyes. But do you think this guy is a racist?

BECK: No. I don't know. I don't know the guy.

I have said this before on -- I said it with Trent Lott and what's his name that played Kramer. I don't know his heart. I have no evidence to say that the guy is a racist. I can tell you that...

ZAHN: What do you think he meant by those remarks, though?

BECK: Oh, boy. I don't...

ZAHN: Do they suggest a racist tendency?

BECK: Yes, you know what? They was so poorly worded, that, at best, he's just completely clumsy on this.

You know, I can give him the benefit of the doubt on, you know, clean. Maybe he thought clean-cut. I don't know. I think maybe he meant Barack Obama appeals to suburban American, where maybe Al Sharpton didn't. But you can't say that Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson are not articulate or smart, you know?

ZAHN: Biden has said that that expression came from his mother, sharp as a tack, clean as a whistle. You talk about clean, clean-cut.

Do you read into that, though, the suggestion that perhaps Sharpton and Jackson, who did have some controversy in their own campaigns, had financial improprieties, or whatever?

BECK: Maybe. I don't know. I don't want to -- I don't want to tie it into race, per se, because I think that is so dangerous to do.

I think an interesting angle on this is the double standard here. At least -- I talked to Al Sharpton.

ZAHN: What double standard?

BECK: Oh, please. Please.

ZAHN: Oh, please what?

BECK: You really think that this guy would still today even be in the running if it was a conservative?

ZAHN: Well, what about John Kerry? He would be running for president today if he hadn't used clumsy language...

BECK: Oh, no, no.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: ... when talking about the men and women who serve in the armed forces.

(CROSSTALK)

BECK: We're talking about race here.

And, by the way, I don't believe that on Kerry for a second, that that's why he got out of the race.

ZAHN: Let's give Joe Biden himself a chance to defend himself, as he attempted to do last night...

BECK: Yes.

ZAHN: .... on Jon Stewart's show. You were up late enough to watch.

(CROSSTALK)

BECK: Yes. I saw it. I saw it.

ZAHN: I saw it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART")

BIDEN: The other part of this thing is, I -- the word that got me in trouble is using the word clean. I should have said fresh. What I meant is, he's got new ideas. He's a new -- new guy on the block.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: You don't buy that at all?

BECK: I don't know. Again, I'm not willing to say he's a racist. I think he is covering ground for a really stupid remark but that doesn't mean he's a racist. And again, the point is a double standard. You have Robert Byrd. ZAHN: That's the point I don't get you're making.

BECK: Robert Byrd. Robert Byrd. He was like a grand wizard, semi-grand wizard of the KKK and everybody just kind of relaxes about it. Why?

ZAHN: We don't ignore that fact.

BECK: Paula, do you really think that a conservative could serve as a former head guy of the KKK? Never. Never.

ZAHN: So what you're saying tonight.

BECK: Yeah.

ZAHN: If Joe Biden were a conservative, his campaign for president would be over?

BECK: He'd be done. He would be on the rack.

ZAHN: But I'm not even hearing any Republicans nail him today.

BECK: Pardon?

ZAHN: I didn't even hear Republican Senate colleagues nail him today? They're not talking about a double standard. They don't think the guy is a racist.

BECK: Wait. Wait. Wait a minute.

ZAHN: They don't think those comments or the interpretation reflects that's who this is.

BECK: And that's where I stand. I'm not willing to say this guy is a racist. Maybe he is, maybe he's not. I'm not willing to crucify the guy.

ZAHN: Glenn Beck, always a pleasure to see you.

BECK: Thank you, Paula.

ZAHN: Another scandal is "Out in the Open" tonight, this one in Seattle where dozens of police officers are under fire for exchanging racist and sexist e-mail and no one did anything about it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Another story we're bringing "Out in the Open" tonight, a shocking scandal inside the Port of Seattle Police Department. And we want to let you know this report contains some language that might offend you. If you have kids around, you probably don't want them to hear it. It is about cops caught trading racist, sexist and pornographic e-mail.

Some of this e-mail is so graphic we can't even talk about it, let alone show it. And all on government time and on government computers. Ted Rowlands reports on what some people are calling police out of control.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Take a look at this Internet video.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The great thing about (Expletive) is they're always willing to work.

ROWLANDS: It shows up a white man picking up Latino day laborers, pretending to hire them and then dropping them off at a local INS office. He is another clip. It makes fun of African Americans to predict what would happen if blacks received large amounts of money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm rich.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chicken shot to 600 bucks a bucket.

ROWLANDS: What do these two clips have in common? Both are video links, allegedly e-mailed by Seattle Airport police to each other on the job in a scandal called e-gate. Racist, sexist e-mails sent from government computers targeting several minority groups, including Asians, blacks, Hispanics and Arabs.

LEWIS KAMB, "SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER": Arabs were referred to as towel heads.

ROWLANDS: And that's not all. Much of the e-mail sent and received by officers was sexist and pornographic. Some of it shockingly hard-core.

KAMB: Very sexually explicit graphic stuff that included, you know, women defecating on each other.

ROWLANDS: An internal investigation found that over a 16-month period, 32 male officers, a third of the Seattle port police force, either sent or received the e-mails. Port police officers are responsible for security at the Seattle Airport and seaport. The officers accused were stationed at the airport.

The local media, including CNN affiliate KING-TV exposed the scandal after police apparently tried to keep it quiet, telling reporters at first that it was no big deal.

KAMB: The initial response we got certainly wasn't the truth.

ROWLANDS: Lewis Kamb is a reporter for the Seattle Post- Intelligencer he says after his paper and KING-TV got a hold of the actual e-mails, the truth was out.

JAMES BIBLE, NAACP: This was active suppression. Seattle Port Authority absolutely knew exactly what was going on with its officers and sought to conceal it.

ROWLANDS: James Bible heads the local NAACP. He questions if officers can without prejudice go from looking at these e-mails to dealing fairly with minorities.

BIBLE: This institution on some level promotes hostility to those that are different, promotes hostility to African Americans, Native Americans, Asians, Latinos and women.

ROWLANDS: Tim is the man in charge of the police. He won't talk to CNN and no one else from the force is willing to discuss the e- mails or the apparent lack of oversight in the department. The only punishment handed down for the offending officers was nine written reprimands.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have to say that I am particularly repulsed by this.

ROWLANDS: Members of the Seattle Port Commission say they are outraged that a climate of disrespect for minorities and women was fostered within the force.

LLOYD HARA, COMMISSIONER, PORT OF SEATTLE: Just in terms of the public trust that police officers have to the general public and I think this was somewhat of a break of confidence on our police department.

ROWLANDS: The Seattle Port Police Department claims they've addressed the issue. The port commission has launched a new investigation to make sure. Ted Rowlands, CNN, Seattle.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Let's launch onto our "Out in the Open" panel now. Leslie Sanchez, Carl Jeffers, Michael Gross, you've been covering this very carefully. You hail from Seattle. You know what's going on. I want to read an excerpt of another one of the e-mails that these officers apparently traded with each other.

And this one is going to make, I think, all of us pretty sick. "The Islamic terrorists who hate our guts and want to kill us, do not like to be called towel heads. From this point forward please refer to them as little sheet heads."

If these officers find humor in making fun of Arabs, Latinos, Asians, women online shouldn't they be getting more than a written reprimand? Shouldn't these officers be fired?

CARL JEFFERS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Absolutely. But again, my concern is that we deal with this as individual rogue cops, individuals who were excessive in how they essentially responded to their duties. And we should not be too quick to indict either the Seattle police department, which is really not involved here, and the port police, which in fact ...

ZAHN: It is one third of the port police.

JEFFERS: It's one-third. But what I am saying is that what it comes down to is there was a possibility of some cover-up. There was a possibility of some improper assessments that were taking place. But I still believe that this is not necessarily a situation where it's top to bottom the entire department needs to be strung up. And we need to be careful that we separate situations where there is system racism, prejudice, anti-women and anti-female and gender activity versus a situation where one or two aggressive police officers affect others who then just go along for the ride and we can round those guys up and get rid of them.

ZAHN: It certainly is a reflection of how these people might report to work and how they interface with their community, no? Is that pretty darned disturbing?

LESLIE SANCHEZ, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Thank you. Exactly. That's exactly right. It's a reflection of what is accepted in their workplace. I'm sorry but those are taxpayer dollars. You're dollars are paying for that law enforcement to be there and that is atrocious behavior. If you were in a newsroom and people were sending those images around, if you don't report it, you basically have some sort of responsibility to report that. You're passing the buck. You don't want to jeopardize your own position. Whatever the system is, there's a systemic problem. And people need to investigate it.

ZAHN: What kind of security risk did these officers create, or are you going to write it off as just officers behaving badly?

MICHAEL GROSS, CONSTITUTIONAL LAWYER: No. This is not the IRS or a bunch of tax accountants or librarians. We're talking about people who carry guns and who interact with the public. And they are dangerous.

And it's not rogue when it's one-third of the department. It's not surprising that there's a relationship between racism and sexism. The pornography and the racism go hand in hand here. They really go together, particularly the oppression of women.

It is demeaning to women and it goes hand in hand with racism. What gets me is this is a symptom of paranoia. And paranoia is when people are frightened and they strike out against people for no reason at all. They are weak. They are cowards. They need to be strengthened mentally. They need to be given courage to deal with the public without treating them.

ZAHN: Hang on. They're not paranoid about this post 9/11 environment they wouldn't be behaving this way?

GROSS: Right. You don't say what they said about Arabs unless you've got this notion, as maybe the president and some media want us to believe that anybody who is Arab is somebody who is going to blow us up. That's very dangerous.

ZAHN: The president doesn't believe. Let's keep it correct.

GROSS: Homeland security gives us a warning ...

ZAHN: Yes. There are very real warnings that law enforcement have to deal with every day. We can't discount that. GROSS: Try entering the Port of Seattle, when the guy with the gun ...

SANCHEZ: Seattle? I don't know about Seattle. Last year they took down the Christmas trees. Then they didn't want to put the menorah, now you have this issue.

JEFFERS: Let me jump in here real quick.

ZAHN: You get the final word.

JEFFERS: Number one, some days we don't know what the president believes on the issue. We can certainly save that for another time. Number two, on the Christmas tree issue in Seattle, I was actually the first radio talk show host to break the story because it was on my show. And I was against them taking the trees down. And I said they lacked courage. Finally, with respect to the police officers, the reality is ...

ZAHN: What does this mean?

JEFFERS: What it means is that around the country, not just in Seattle, we need better training, a better sensitivity to the issues that allow police officers to, again, bring their personal prejudices into the workplace. And we must take a stronger stand.

ZAHN: Carl, Linda, Michael, the melting pot. Behave now. You can't talk anymore now, Michael. That is it.

Thank you all for weighing in on all these important subjects that we like to discuss every night. We have got more to talk about. In the meantime, we're going to take a quick biz break. On Wall Street the Dow closed at a new record high today, up 52 points, the NASDAQ gained four points and S&P picked up seven.

The Senate has just voted to boost the federal minimum wage by $2.10 over the next two years to $7.25 an hour. The wage hike came packaged with tax breaks for small businesses and tax hikes for many highly paid executives but this bill still has to go back to the House where Democrats oppose the tax package.

ExxonMobil has just reported the largest annual profit in U.S. history. The oil giant made $39.5 billion in profit in 2006.

Government today reporting Americans are saving at the lowest rate since the Depression. Personal savings dropped to minus one percent in 2006. That means people are spending all the cash they have left after taxes and then some.

Coming up next, our weekly look at life after work. We are going to see what one woman made her name on Wall Street is doing now to help others break the glass ceiling. Hear her story when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ZAHN: LARRY KING LIVE coming up in just a few minutes. Actually, he's coming up right now to tell me who he's going to have at the top of the hour.

Hi, Larry.

LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Hi, Paula dear. We have another show dealing with "American Idol." We're going to look at some of the losers and some previous winners and a look at this continuing phenomenon which is this program which continually ranks number one. And why people enjoy losing, it appears. And also why runner-ups sometimes do better than winners.

Take Miss Hudson, who has already won two supporting actress awards. Another look at "American Idol" at the top of the hour, Paula. And maybe you'll enter.

ZAHN: Oh, if I did, I'd be out on the first round and be a heck of a lot happier if that showed aired at 6:00 Eastern Time.

KING: But as a first-round loser, if you sang bad, you would be a guest on this show the following week.

ZAHN: Well, good. You know what? Maybe you're telling me here. I can humiliate my whole family. Thanks, Larry. Have a good show.

KING: Thanks, Paula. Bye.

ZAHN: See you at 9:00.

We have been bringing bigotry and intolerance "Out into the Open" tonight. We are about to meet a very powerful woman who is building a community to break glass ceilings and fight discrimination. Ali Velshi has her story in tonight's "Life After Work.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Meg Whitman of eBay. Anne Mulcahy, CEO of Xerox, Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCola, each the leader of a Fortune 500 company and proof that the glass ceiling can be broken. But Janet Hanson warns there are still a lot of barriers for women.

JANET HANSON, FOUNDER, 85 BROADS: If you're at a company and there really are very, very few female role models, then how are you ever going to know whether it's possible to be successful. And so we're providing an entire community of women across various provisions who were extraordinarily successful.

VELSHI: Hanson is the founder of 85 Broads, a network of 16,000 women in business who support and mentor each other. It works in much the same way the so-called old boys network does for men.

HANSON: What we want to turn on its head is that women are not willing to help each other. I think once you give them a community to thrive them, then they will do everything they can to leverage their relationships on behalf of other women.

VELSHI: Hanson founded the group using the millions she made as a money manager and former executive at Goldman Sachs. In fact, the name, 85 Broads, plays off Goldman's famous Manhattan address, 85 broad Street. But Hanson's looking for a different pay back on this investment.

HANSON: How I measure return is seeing other women do extraordinary things with their lives.

VELSHI: Ali Velshi, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And we move along now. Vice President Cheney's daughter is speaking publicly for the first time about having a baby with her lesbian partner. We're going to bring that story "Out in the Open."

Next, hear what she has to say about all the interest in this baby of hers.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Welcome back. Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter, Mary is speaking out for the very first time about a controversy her father pointedly preferred not to bring out into the open, her pregnancy and the baby she and her lesbian partner will raise.

As Mary Snow reports, it brings the issue of discrimination and gay rights to the doorstep of a conservative family and a Republican White House.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARY CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY'S DAUGHTER: The thing everybody needs to remember, this is a baby.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mary Cheney speaking out publicly for the first time about the baby she's expecting with long-time partner Heather Pope. She made the comments at a "Glamour" magazine panel. The topic, success at 20, 30 and 40. Cheney found herself answering questions about the pregnancy that's made headlines.

M. CHENEY: This is a blessing from God. It is not a political statement. It is not a prop to be used in a debate for people on either side of the issue.

SNOW: But her pregnancy has generated debate. Some say she put herself in the political spotlight when she worked on her father Dick Cheney's reelection campaign in 2004 just as President Bush supported a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

Gay family advocates say they want to hear more for her.

JENNIFER CHRISLER, FAMILY PRIDE: You can't have one foot in and one foot out when you're talking about this issue. And she sort of dipped her toe in the water on this topic.

SNOW: On the other side of the spectrum, came criticism from James Dobson, founder of the conservative group Focus on the Family. The group said Cheney's pregnancy raised questions about what's best for the child.

Asked about her critics ...

M. CHENEY: James Dobson is not someone -- you know, he's entitled to his opinion but he's not someone whose endorsement I have ever drastically sought.

SNOW: Dobson's criticism was not something Vice President Dick Cheney wanted to address when the question was asked during an interview with Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT: I'm delighted I'm about to have a sixth grand child, Wolf. And obviously I think the world of both my daughters and all of my grandchildren. And I think, frankly, you're out of line on that question.

SNOW: Asked about her father's response, Mary Cheney told a "New York Times" reporter she felt the question crossed a line. But some gay family advocates disagree saying he's a public figure, so the question is not off limits. Mary Snow, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Now I want to hear from our "Out in the Open" panel about this. Leslie Sanchez, Carl Jeffers, Michael Gross. Does she have any obligation to talk about her private life and answer these questions that she's going to be confronted with?

SANCHEZ: Not it all. It's interesting because there's more privacy afforded to the children of a president than it seems like the vice president's children.

ZAHN: But can she have it both way? The critics say they dipped her little baby toe in there by about talking about these issues before she became pregnant and actually helping run her father's reelection campaign.

SANCHEZ: The distinction is they asked her father who is the vice president to talk about his daughter in a private family affair versus asking her personally. If she chooses to talk about it which she clearly has and she's on the circuit now at colleges and universities talking about it, that's her choice. Whether she's defending herself or explaining her life choice, that's very fair and it's very compassionate about the way she tells her story. But asking her father is really inciting a political debate.

ZAHN: She certainly has to understand that she is a political prop on this one. That she can be used very badly by both sides, right Carl.

JEFFERS: She certainly can be used by both sides. And very badly, as you suggest. But the reality is I absolutely feel that Mary Cheney has the right to determine to what degree she want toss get involved in the discussion. And to the extent that we want to try to afford some private life to our public officials. If the vice president wants to look at this as a personal family matter, I would agree he could do that provided that his public statements are not in contradiction to the position that his daughter's actions are suggesting.

And right now we know that the vice president, although the president hasn't done this, the vice president has said that he, in fact, does not support the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. If he did, I would be all over him just like he said about the 45 minutes the weapons of mass destruction were going to be launched.

All of those things I would like the vice president to address. But this issue, if we are as liberals and progressives, those on my side, if we felt the Republicans and conservatives and Dobson went too far with the Terry Schiavo case and historians will say that was the beginning of the end for the far right conservative movement --

ZAHN: What is the balancing act that Dick Cheney has to find here? He made it clear he's not going to answer any more questions about this. But he does love his daughter but he finds himself in a position where so many positions on gay marriage and parenting a gay child is in direct odds with his administration.

GROSS: It gives you a permanent snarl talking out of both sides of your mouth.

ZAHN: Ooh, that's not nice.

GROSS: When you support an amendment to the Constitution, you're taking a pretty public issue and I haven't heard him say he doesn't support it. Let's hear him say he doesn't support it. The president supports it. He's the vice president. All I've ever heard him say is I support the president's position. If you don't support it, say so. Right now the president says people of the same sex should not marry and they don't raise children properly. He doesn't know the difference between being a father and mother or being a parent. Parenting is proven to be done best by people who love their children and care for them regardless of their sex. This woman has taken this ...

SANCHEZ: This is so far removed ...

ZAHN: A quick final thought for both of you.

SANCHEZ: He supports the president and the majority of Americans in this country support the idea of marriage being between a man and woman. It does not mean every parent is going to agree with their child.

GROSS: Obviously it's not that.

SANCHEZ: Of course there's a lot of that. GROSS: She's breaking the law in the state in which she resides.

SANCHEZ: This is an umbrella approach to understanding family and this is a good conversation piece but to judge her on that is ridiculous.

JEFFERS: The reality is in fact that the vice president has, in fact, publicly stated he does not support the constitutional amendment and he believes this is a private family matter. I'm willing to give him the time ...

GROSS: He said it's up to the states. He is not against it. He said it was up to the states.

JEFFERS: At the Republican convention he said he would not support the amendment any longer. Furthermore, if the vice president -- if we're going to be consistent, we have to allow everybody to have private times for their families.

ZAHN: Carl Jeffers, Michael Gross, Leslie Sanchez, thank you all. Wait until the baby is here how much fun you are all going to have with this one. Again, thanks for your time tonight and thank you all for joining us. We hope you'll be back with us same time, same place tomorrow. Until then, have a great night.

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