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Campaign Becomes Ghoulish; Washington to Vote on Death with Dignity Act; Violence against Women; Co-ed Murder in Italy

Aired October 31, 2008 - 19:00:00   ET


JANE VELEZ MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, it`s Halloween, and politics has gone ghoulish. Will dirty tricks mean treats for one side or the other?

Here are my issues on this very freaky Friday.

First another candidate hanged in effigy. This time it`s Barack Obama. So what`s the difference between this one and the Sarah Palin debacle? Well, this one has resulted in arrests.

Plus et tu, Brutus? Sarah Palin gets dissed by a former secretary of state McCain trumpets as one of his biggest supporters.

And a woman on trial for a sex murder in Italy throws her support behind one of the candidates. We`ll tell you who.

And as "Dreamgirls" star Jennifer Hudson prepares a memorial for her beloved family, we continue to explore the raging war on women, with shocking updates on these two murdered women.

These issues and more tonight.


BECK: Hello, everyone, and happy Halloween. Tonight we follow the developing investigation into the tragic murders of Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson`s family members. The memorial service for this public tragedy will be handled in a private way.

And she speaks. Accused co-ed killer Amanda Knox gives a jailhouse interview, where she talks about regret. Not for the murder of her roommate, but for not getting to vote for Barack Obama. That according to the "London Telegraph." How`s that for a dubious endorsement?

But first it`s fitting that today is Halloween, because this campaign has become down right ghoulish. Wednesday the campaign was ugly. Thursday it was ever uglier. Now it`s Friday, so we must be at ugliest. We are four days away from winning this election into the history books. But until then we have to deal with the campaign crazies who steal the headlines.

Two Kentucky men arrested yesterday after police found a life-sized effigy of Barack Obama, featuring one of those Obama Halloween masks, hanging from a tree. There you see it.

By the way, these are the only two arrests from the four reported effigy-related incidents of this campaign. The Sarah Palin effigy in West Hollywood was viewed by the local authorities as more of a bad joke than a punishable crime.

Here`s my issue. It`s a double standard, people. One effigy is a joke but another gets people arrested? We need to be consistent as we move toward a color-blind society. All effigies should be considered unacceptable, period.

Now, it`s not only Sarah Palin`s effigy that`s getting smacked down. The real Sarah Palin also getting kicked around big-time. A recent "New York Times"/CBS poll shows that 59 percent of voters feel Sarah Palin is not ready for the vice-presidential slot. And a full one-third of voters say that her name on the ticket will influence their vote.

Now, we all know that John McCain is a gambler. It is becoming increasingly clear that the Palin gamble is not paying off. With me now to hash out these and many other ghoulish developments, John Avlon, former Giuliani adviser and author of "Independent Nation."

Happy Halloween.


VELEZ MITCHELL: John Ridley, NPR commentator and founder of that -- Love that title. And Greg Palast, a journalist from the "Rolling Stone."

Greg, how does the ugliness meter in this campaign right now compare to elections past? I mean, is this the ugliest?

GREG PALAST, "ROLLING STONE": It`s not the ugliest but it`s pretty ugly. You know, I`ve got to tell you what I`m really disturbed about is not the hanging effigies and dumb, you know, trick-or-treat pranks.

What I`m concerned about is that sign under Palin and McCain that says "Country First"? What do you think? I put country fourth? Obama puts country tenth? I mean, that`s -- it`s really kind of a nasty thing, saying, "If you don`t vote for me, you`re not for country first."

Excuse me, buddy. And then -- and then you add to that Sarah Palin`s comments about the real America. Any place that has more than one Wal-Mart and three moose is not the real America. Well, then don`t ask for my vote? What do you want from me? I`m sorry. I`m a real American.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Don`t you think all of that rhetoric, John Avlon, is biting them?

AVLON: Well, I think the "real America" stuff, no question it back- fired. And Republicans need to come to grips with the fact that if they`re playing to an increasingly shrinking base, that`s a recipe for long-term loser-dom.

But I think the "Country First" slogan was an attempt to reach out to the center, to recapture some of the spirit of the 2000 campaign. It`s what most independents want to see, which is someone putting patriotism above partisanship. It`s what we see far too infrequently in American politics.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Well, speaking of putting patriotism above partisanship, in response to Colin Powell`s endorsement of Barack Obama, McCain is very quick to point out his five endorsements from other secretary of states, although he had a little bit of trouble remembering them all. Let`s listen.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Henry Kissinger, Jim Baker, Larry Eagleburger. Al Haig. And -- um...


VELEZ MITCHELL: All right. One of those former secretary of state, Lawrence Eagleburger, was one of those big endorsements. But check out this stunner. Here is what Eagleburger had to say about Sarah Palin.


LAWRENCE EAGLEBURGER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Give her some time in the office, and I think the answer would be, she will be adequate. I can`t say that she would be genius in the job, but I think she would be enough to get us through a four-year -- I hope not -- get us through whatever period of time was necessary. And I devoutly hope that it would never be tested.


VELEZ MITCHELL: John Ridley. I mean, doesn`t a comment like this more than negate the original endorsement?

JOHN RIDLEY, NPR: Well, look, Jane, you remember Carly Fiorina?


RIDLEY: You remember when she used to be part of the McCain campaign? She was the big fundraiser. And she was asked, do you think that, with Sarah Palin, could she run a Fortune 500 company? She said, no. She disappeared. She was gone.

This is not new. A lot of people in the McCain camp have fought this way; they felt this way. They tried to contain it, because they thought there was an upside. The fact that this is coming out now, it`s really, I think, a lot of -- what a lot of people have felt. They`re finally saying it, four days to go. Might as well put it out there.

AVLON: You know, they say a gaffe in Washington is when you tell the truth by mistake. And -- and I think that`s what`s happened here.

I mean, the American people are smart, and I think they`ve made up their mind. When 60 percent of the American people agree on anything, that`s as close as a consensus as we get.

And it`s amazing. That article that -- about this poll show that 3 out of 10 Republicans felt she wasn`t qualified to be vice president. That`s significant.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Yes. I don`t think Eagleburger said that by mistake. I think he said that intentionally. She has taken so many hits. Sarah Palin has largely taken the role of attacker during this campaign. Now, today in a radio interview, she took on the mainstream media. Listen to this.


SEN. SARAH PALIN (R-AK), VICE-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: If they convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations, then I don`t know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media.


VELEZ MITCHELL: You know, Greg Palast, any time I hear "blame the media," I grab my wallet.

PALAST: Well, I blame the media. I blame the media. They played up that she was a great, brilliant choice. You know, the Palin effect. You know? Because she can dress a moose.

And then suddenly, when the stock market crashed, people said we don`t care if she can undress a moose. We don`t want this lady near our 401(k) plans before they become 201(k) plans. That`s what`s going on here. She was perfectly fine until the market dropped 2,000 points. We all got scared.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Yes, I think you`re absolutely right.

John Ridley, I mean, this is not a time for attack ads or partisan politics. It`s a time to help everybody feel secure because they`re looking at their 401(k)`s, and they`re freaking out. We`re all freaking out. They`re getting foreclosed on, and they really don`t have the luxury of indulging in sort of this rhetoric that sometimes passes for campaigning.

RIDLEY: Well, you know, the nice thing, Jane, if you think about it, in some ways, if there`s a positive to the campaign, I mean, look, remember Willy Horton? Remember Jesse Helms? The hands ad? That stuff is not sticking this time around.

I mean, we all talk about the American people collectively, but really, truly, I think the majority of the American people say, "Look, we`re hurting. We`re hurting as a nation. I`m hurting personally. And racism and sexism, that doesn`t matter. Who`s the best candidate here?" And that`s the good news out of all this, that a lot of the negativity, it`s not sticking.

VELEZ MITCHELL: All right, John Avlon, I want to get your reaction to another media story. John McCain has admitted he does not use the Internet. Don`t admit that. And Obama has been considered the candidate who, of course, deftly used the new media.

But now with four days left, Senator McCain may be starting to compete in that arena.

AVLON: Well...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Obama, having spent 12 months in an Iraq theater, I can promise you this was not a mistake. I witnessed firsthand the many sacrifices made to the people of Iraq. Those sacrifices were not mistakes.


VELEZ MITCHELL: All right. The Iraq war veteran`s endorsement is the No. 1 election-related video on YouTube, getting 11 million hits. And he`s appearing on "Saturday Night Live" this weekend.

So am I getting this right, John Avlon? Is John McCain now getting hits from popular culture? It`s sort of odd timing, isn`t it?

AVLON: Yes. I wouldn`t go that far. I mean, he`s always had a pretty good sense of humor about himself. And I think "Saturday Night Live" has reached sort of a new prominence for presidential candidates.

But look, I mean, you know, using the Internet to get out soldier`s voices, that`s positive. I think we all need to unite around the fact that our soldiers, whatever you`re feelings about the Iraq war, are heroes here.

But what I`m not so -- what I am concerned about is, you know, some of that negative campaigning that the other John was just talking about. It`s not sticking so far, but they`re using it. Places like North Carolina, where Libby Dole`s trying sort of a Harvey Gantz (ph) type strategy where they`re calling people "godless."

You know, there`s still a lot of mess out there that people are trying to churn up and using the Internet and the media to get it across. Sort of a new frontier. And it`s the dark side of any candidate trying to get Internet savvy.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Well, Greg Palast, I wanted to give you this one. The Drudge Report says Obama has kicked three unfriendly papers, "The Washington Times, "The New York Post" and "The Dallas Morning News," off his plane. I mean, is that -- why not get another plane? He can afford it.

PALAST: Well, at least he didn`t -- at least it was before the plane took off. So they were kind of lucky.

VELEZ MITCHELL: That`s true. Very good.

PALAST: Think about that. Exactly. No, I mean, look, they were just on the plane to undermine him. These are all PR stunts. I don`t know why any reporter would be on the plane. You don`t get news. I mean, you`re just trailing around doing PR stunts with the -- with the candidates. I think it`s nonsense anyway.

Real reporters don`t take free plane rides from candidates. I wouldn`t take a plane ride. I`d jump off the plane myself. I`d bring my parachute if they put me on one.

VELEZ MITCHELL: I have a feeling I believe you. But they were fighting furiously to stay on that plane, and they get bumped.

All right, gentlemen. Hang right there.

What fun is democracy without a few lawsuits? Both Republicans and Democrats have legal teams at the ready. With the trauma of election 2000 still fresh in our mind can we even remember when elections were decided by votes?

And just ahead, the latest on the private memorial service for Jennifer Hudson`s murdered family. And breaking news, we`ve got some startling new forensic evidence that`s just come in.


VELEZ MITCHELL: Anchor woman, Anne Pressly, and teacher, Leah Walsh, both casualties of what I call the war on women. I`ll have the latest on the investigations into their murders.

But first, is this deja vu all over again? Remember these hanging chads in the 2000 election and the bitter legal wrangling that went all the way up to the Supreme Court, eventually handing the president to George W. Bush? How could we possibly forget that?

The legacy of 2000: not just eight years of President George Bush, but rather a voting process that is no longer as simple as hearing what the candidates say and then casting your ballot.

Campaigning now goes hand in hand with suing. Already, campaign lawyers are parachuting into crucial swing states before election day, anticipating a battle royal over the count.

And Senate candidates are furiously suing each other. North Carolina Democrat Kay Hagen is suing Elizabeth Dole for running an ad calling her "godless." Minnesota Republican Norm Coleman is suing comedian-turned- politician Al Franken for ads calling Coleman, quote, "the fourth most corrupt senator in Washington," something that he vigorously denies.

When almost 90 percent of Americans think the country is on the wrong track, vicious attack ads are precisely what Americans do not want.

Back with my wonderful panel. John Avlon, independent commentator; John Ridley, a political commentator for NPR; and Greg Palast, "Rolling Stone" writer.

John Ridley, let me start with you. Al Franken`s ad is even disputed by the watchdog group that he is quoting and it`s all over the fact -- get this -- that Coleman pays $600 a month to rent a room in Washington, D.C., from a friend. And the big question, the controversy: does he pay utilities? I mean, really?

RIDLEY: Look, if Al Franken goes to the trouble of qualifying it was the fourth most corrupt, he`s clearly found some kind of research that -- I mean, attack ads are nothing new. The idea, though, that you`re going to start suing people because it`s this, it`s that. They`re mincing words. They`re playing a little bit with the facts. Nobody likes attack ads. People would prefer the facts.

But man, bringing the lawyers into the process. Clearly, Al Franken or whoever is doing the suing here is doing very well in this election if they`ve got the time and energy to bring in lawyers and handle things rather than handle their old campaign.

VELEZ MITCHELL: You know, Greg Palast, that`s not the Al Franken I know. I`m kind of shocked by that. I mean, isn`t he supposed to be the refreshing change?

PALAST: Don`t kid yourself.


PALAST: Sorry, Al.


PALAST: He has a certain tough side, there. You know, look, I`m actually very -- I don`t think there`s enough lawyers in this campaign. We`ve got some serious stuff. In 2000, the lawsuits were over counting the votes.

And by the way, I want to put out that marker right now. We`re going to have big issues on counting the votes. We had 3 million people challenged in the last election. There`s a serious point. A lot of people are going to have something called provisional ballots. I think we`re going to be -- we could be counting this thing for another month. Don`t kid yourself.

And I think we`ve got to establish now that every vote should be counted in America and you know what? If we need 3 million lawyers to do it, bring them on.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Well, we`re going to get to this crazy, possibly crazy election-night scenario in just a moment. But let`s -- I want to talk about these negative ads, because this isn`t the Elizabeth Dole I know either. Get this. The Elizabeth Dole ad basically says her challenger, Kay Hagen, is godless. Take a look at this.


SEN. ELIZABETH DOLE (R), NORTH CAROLINA: I`m Elizabeth Dole, and I approved this message.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A leader of the Godless Americans PAC recently held a secret fundraiser in Kay Hagen`s honor.

ELLEN JOHNSON, ATHEIST: There is no God to rely on. There was no Jesus.

BILL O`REILLY, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL`S "THE O`REILLY FACTOR": They`re taking "under God" out of the "Pledge of Allegiance." You`re down with that?


O`REILLY: "In God we trust," you`re going to rip that off the money?

SILVERMAN: We would.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Godless Americans and Kay Hagen. She hid from cameras, took godless money. What did Hagen promise in return?



VELEZ MITCHELL: Oh, my God! John Avlon, Hagen is suing. She is a Sunday school teacher and an elder at her Presbyterian church, and this was a fundraiser really held at the home of an adviser to a group called Godless Americans. I mean...

AVLON: Yes. Elizabeth Dole should be ashamed of herself. And I pray this back fires on her.

This is exactly what people hate in politics. This is what people confuse a tough politician with someone who`s willing to slander in order to hold onto power.

And it`s the same issue in the Al Franken ad. You know, Norm Coleman is a former U.S. attorney. He takes the word "corrupt" seriously, as he should.

But questioning somebody`s faith in an ad, in a state like North Carolina, with a whisper in the end that`s suppose to sound like her, that is beyond low. It`s dishonest. It`s dishonorable. And it`s not the kind of thing that allows a senator to return to Washington.

RIDLEY: But to that point. I`m sorry, Jane. Again, I think you`re right, John. These ads are clearly out there. Clearly, they`re out there. But again, it really seems like in this election cycle, maybe it`s because of the economy. It`s just not sticking the way it did before.

I think people are really repulsed by this kind of thing. And you see it in John McCain`s numbers. People think his ads are more negative, because maybe not in person, but a lot of things around him are based on faith and based on race in terms of these attacks.

AVLON: Let`s see if Hagen and Coleman win.

VELEZ MITCHELL: I want to get to. Yes, in fact, it did backfire on Elizabeth Dole, because she`s behind now, and she was ahead before those ads.

I want to get to what election night might look like. They say that Ohio could be the new Florida, Greg Palast. Why?

PALAST: Well, there`s good reason. There`s a fight over whether people should be allowed to vote. Look, I`m going to tell you straight up. The Republican campaign, according to our "Rolling Stone" investigation for over a year, has been deliberately knocking off and challenging the rights of people to vote.

The Republican Party right now wants to remove 200,000 voters from the voter rolls. These aren`t fraudulent voters. We`re not talking Mickey Mouse here. We`re talking real voters here. And they want to use cockamamie, picayune little items to keep people off the voter rolls. They`re going to challenge those voters. They`re going to give them provisional ballots. They`re going to try not to count them.

I think we pick the president by who -- by the most votes not by the most votes you can block.


PALAST: It`s evil what they`re doing. It`s dead evil.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Well, we have to stop it right there. I think the word "provisional" is going to be the key word on election, provisional ballots. We`re going to have to see what happens.

Gentlemen, thank you so much. Wonderful panel.

PALAST: Trick or treat!

VELEZ MITCHELL: Please come back. Trick or treat. Come back real soon.

We`ve got a very sad story to segue to right now. Jennifer Hudson and her family have been publicly dealing with the aftermath of three gruesome murders. Coming up, I`m going to tell you about their decision to deal with the memorial service privately.

And a gun`s been tested. We`re going to tell you if it`s the murder weapon, coming right up.


VELEZ MITCHELL: We all remember the images of the so-called doctor of death, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, assisting patients who wanted to end their lives, claiming dying is not a crime.

Well, this week we`ve been covering some of the more controversial ballot initiatives that voters will face. Washington state has put a "death with dignity" act on the ballot. If it passes terminally ill patients will be allowed a lethal dose of medication prescribed by their physician. In other words, they will be allowed to kill themselves.

Eileen Geller is the campaign coordinator for the Coalition Against Assisted Suicide.

Eileen, if somebody is terminally ill and they`re in sick and they`re in pain and they want to end it, why try to stop them?

EILEEN GELLER, CAMPAIGN COORDINATOR, COALITION AGAINST ASSISTED SUICIDE: Jane, I`m a hospice nurse, and I`ve been a hospice nurse for some 25 years. What we do at hospice is help people to live with real dignity until they die naturally.

Really, what happens is when you pass a law whose end result is a prematurely and unnaturally dead person, it puts many more people at risk than a few folks with extreme control needs that really pull to want this lethal drug overdose.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Well, listen, they have a similar law in Oregon. It passed some years ago, about 11 years ago, and none of the worst-case scenarios have occurred. People who were sick didn`t flock from all parts of the country to settle there so they could kill themselves.

GELLER: Well, actually...

VELEZ MITCHELL: And basically, Oregon hadn`t fallen into the sea. Everything is OK. And there have been no major complaints.

GELLER: Actually, there have been many major complaints. In fact, one of the things that happened in Oregon, which rationed health care, especially for the poor, the underinsured and minorities, has in fact sent out letters to people, refusing to pay for their chemotherapy and yet saying that they`ll pay for the lethal drug overdose because it`s cheaper.

There are many occasions in Oregon right now where people who are low- income have been denied real care in favor of the incentive for a cheaper assisted suicide death. So what Oregon...

VELEZ MITCHELL: You`re saying that people are saying, "We can`t afford to give you health care, but go kill yourself, and we`ll pay for that"?

GELLER: Yes. In fact, you know what? It`s been covered by major media. A woman named Barbara Wagner, among other people, have received letters just like that. And in fact, that`s what happened. The state insurance company said to Barbara, "We will not pay for your chemotherapy. However, we`ll pay for your lethal drug overdose." She was in tears.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Well, let`s look at the other side of this, though. I mean, you have people who get sick. They get old but just they don`t quite die. They are using up all their resources. They are depressed. They are in pain. And they want to end it. And if a family member helps them, that family member gets charged with murder, and that has happened many times.

GELLER: Let`s talk about this. Do we, as a country, want to go down a path where people who are depressed and not treated for their depression, which is happening in Oregon, are being handed lethal pills instead of care? In pain...

VELEZ MITCHELL: I`m saying, depressed -- people that are in pain because they`re dying.

GELLER: In fact, people that are depressed, in pain in studies do want to die. And that`s one of the problems with the study. We can control 99 percent of all pain with hospice.

VELEZ MITCHELL: But sometimes people are just -- it`s done. And let me just say one thing. Under this proposal, two doctors have to make an assessment, OK? Independent of each other. And then that that person has only six months to live. and then, then they give them the prescription. But the person has to take it. It`s not like somebody giving them an injection.

GELLER: Well, actually, there`s a question because there is no witness at the time of death during this. Also, in Oregon, 75 percent of the doctors are pro-suicide advocates. Not their own doctors.

VELEZ MITCHELL: We`ll give you the last word. Thank you for engaging in that.

GELLER: Thank you.

VELEZ MITCHELL: We`ve got the shocking case of the co-ed killer coming up next.


VELEZ MITCHELL: Women are taking a beating in this country. And it`s usually at the hands of a man they trust. Ladies, we need to wise up before it`s too late. I will have some tragic examples in just a bit.

It`s been almost a week since the brutal murders of Jennifer Hudson`s mom, brother and seven-year-old nephew, and here`s the shocker. Julia Hudson, the mother of the seven-year-old who was murdered, still listed the suspect, William Balfour, as a friend on her MySpace page as of today. Meanwhile, he still refuses to take a lie detector test.

Mike Walters is the assignment manager of TMZ. Mike, you broke this story. Tell us all about it. It is wild.

MIKE WALTERS, ASSIGNMENT MANAGER, TMZ: Yes, Jane I got to tell you, we`ve been monitoring this MySpace page ever since Julia had started posting thank yous, prayers. And she`s been telling her friends on MySpace thanks for the condolences.

But here`s the shocker. The entire time, she has not taken down William Balfour, the prime suspect in the murder of her son, off of the page.

And I got to tell you, she`s posted a new photo, she`s changed her passage to a Bible passage, she even changed her mood on there, which you can change, to numb, which obviously she`s numb but, again, she hasn`t taken down "Flex" as he calls himself his gang name off of the MySpace page.

VELEZ MITCHELL: And even after you broke the story, it`s still up there?

WALTERS: Yes. We put it up this morning on and as of right now, it is still there. And nothing has changed.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Now, some people who use MySpace a lot tried to offer a reasonable explanation saying sometimes when you go on MySpace, all of your friends don`t pop up if you have a lot of them and that perhaps she forgot that he`s lower down. But are there photos involved here of this person?

WALTERS: Yes, actually, I`ve got to tell you, when we were first looking into this MySpace page, this is where -- actually all the media is getting a lot of photos of her son or of her estranged husband. I mean, people were looking at this page for that.

Julia knows we`re looking. Everybody around Chicago knows we`re looking. They`re looking and she still hasn`t -- Jane, he`s in the top three friends. He`s not in the friends list; he`s in the top three. There`s a list on the side column that says her top ten best friends. William is above her sister and her brother.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Well, she is married to him. So even though he was not the father of the child who was murdered, they were married and they were estranged. So perhaps we`d have to get a shrink in to try to understand the dynamics of somebody going through all this.

She is numb, she is confused and we certainly do not want to blame her in that she is a victim. She has lost a child. This is a horrific tragedy.

But it`s bizarre, Mike. I mean, there`s no other way to put it. I mean, it`s completely bizarre.

WALTERS: It is, all I can say, Jane, is I agree with you. She is a victim. I don`t want to blame anything on her at all directly. What I can tell you is that she has made changes to her MySpace page, including putting up a new photo of herself. If she can do that, then she can take down a friend, especially one that`s a prime suspect of her son`s murder.

VELEZ MITCHELL: And, again, we don`t want to in any way, shape or form, this family has been through hell, but they have had a lot of troubles. And tell us a little bit about the reports that Julia`s brother, who was murdered, actually was busted even though the charges were later dropped, for allegedly in that same house where the murders occurred selling drugs to undercover officers.

WALTERS: Right. You definitely have to look at the full structure here and what`s been happening in this house since day one. We broke a story at TMZ that in 2002, Julian`s father, Gregory, and Julia`s brother, Jason, were busted for allegedly selling crack cocaine to undercover police officers.

So this stuff has been going on in this house for a while and you have to look at that if you`re going to report or talk about something that`s as tragic as this. You just have to look at it.

VELEZ MITCHELL: All right, Mike, thank you again. Great work and we`re going to have you back real soon.

There is a larger issue here.


STEPHEN CLAUDE, PRESIDENT, MEN CAN STOP RAPE: This is tragic. We`re all sorry that these things are occurs. Once again, we find ourselves talking about things after they happen rather than really having more of our society focus on the primary convention of these things.

I promise you, and I know both of these cases are still pending in some ways, that when we look deeper we`ll go to maybe a dysfunctional relationship with a convicted perpetrator`s parents or they were bullied in school.

But we really need to go much deeper than that and look at our overall creation of culture that says violence against women is okay. That it`s the answer to domestic disputes.

VELEZ MITCHELL: You are right on.

CLAUDE: That it is something that men are entitled to enact. We have to examine what the definitions of strength and healthy masculinity are, because all cases like this, I promise you, lead back to problems in these two areas.

BLOOM: Bravo, Stephen.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Yes, absolutely. Let`s get more Stephens out there in terms of men.

Lisa Bloom, he makes such a great point. In other words, we have to state what our goal is. Our goal is a violence-free society. We`re not even doing that. We`re covering these stories a business as usual. Does this need to be a march on Washington to say to the government and the media and everybody, "Enough. This has to stop"?

BLOOM: I`m all in favor of marches on Washington, Jane, but I would also approach it on a micro-level. We need to teach our daughters, we need to talk to our sisters and our girlfriends that we need to be going for guys like Stephen and not the bad-guy imagine. Not the violent guy image.

I`ve had guys get out of prison and tell me once they were reformed women didn`t want them anymore. They liked them better as the bad guy. We need to get over that. We have to have zero tolerance for domestic violence.

If anybody out there has a girlfriend, sister, daughter or mother whose in a violent relationship help her get out it. Tell her there`s no excuse for domestic violence. Give her the tools, give here a helping hand because we have to stand together against this crime.

CLAUDE: I couldn`t agree more with that. But I think that`s still half the equation because I think that same discussion has to happen among men. You say people should -- if you know someone who`s looking to date, date a guy like Stephen. Well, I`m 54-year-old and quite frankly, I thought until a year ago when I began to do this work I was one of the good guys because I didn`t hit -- sexual assault is inconceivable to me. But there were some other ways I was contributing to the culture.

VELEZ MITCHELL: I want to get to that in a second but I want to jump in here with a very practical solution. Boycott violence. We women and men, subsidize violence against us. We are saturated with violence; video games, movies, television. I say all women stop subsidizing the violence against you.

What do you think, Lisa?

BLOOM: I think that`s a great idea. There`s lots of violence in movies and films that are against men or inanimate objects and you pretty much couldn`t go to the movie if that was the standard.

But a lot of people are nonviolent and they enjoy that stuff. Most men are not violent. The work you`re doing, Stephen, is so important. Frankly, the good guys out there don`t understand a man who is violent who would hit a woman, who would accost a woman or oppress here in some way. They just really can`t understand it.

But we need to spread this culture around with the women and the men and I`m a very practical person. If you know a woman is being abused or a child is being abused you call 911. It`s as simple as that. If it`s someone you know give here a helping hand; you get her out of there.

I`ve had a woman come into my home who was a secretary in a law firm I used to work in and she didn`t really know me but she knew where I stand on this issue. I gave her a place to stay for a couple of days, she got out of that relationship and it ended happily.

VELEZ MITCHELL: I have a caveat to that; you have to be careful if you are sucked into a violent domestic situation because I`ve seen that happen, too, where you try to be a good Samaritan and the person who`s violent starts coming after you.

CLAUDE: You talked about boycotting these things again, after they happen. Boycott movies that promote violence. What about engaging men in a way that they don`t make those movies. Primary prevention of these problems is essential. And it is micro as what`s said before.

We work in schools with young men ages 10 through 22. We help them unpack traditional masculinity and reconstruct healthy masculinity. And in the toughest neighborhoods in this country, where we`re working, these young men, once you give them a safe place to examine healthier notions of masculinity they embrace it readily.

It`s important for the men who think they are good guys to know this violence, because they`re the ones who have to intervene with other men who are perpetrating or potential perpetrators to help prevent it.

VELEZ MITCHELL: I think you`re absolutely right. Lisa, I want your take on that. I think our definition of masculinity is totally twisted. It`s associated and interlocked with violence because of what we`re hearing and seeing in the culture and the media.

BLOOM: We have a particularly violent culture here in the United States. This isn`t the Wild West anymore. We have to also be very cognizant of how we`re raising our boys. It`s very important for boys not to grow up in a household where their mother is being abused because study after study shows they`re going to grow up and be an abuser. They`re going to think that`s a normal; they`re going to continue this cycle of violence.

That`s why it`s so critical of a woman who`s being abused. Even if the kids aren`t, to get out of there because of the damage being done to the children as well. They need to understand that.

CLAUDE: That`s exactly right. Part of how we do that at "Men Can Stop Rape" is to actually work with them in redefining what strength is. We help them redefine strength as being nonviolent and respecting women.

VELEZ MITCHELL: We have to leave it there with that fantastic, fantastic work that you`re doing. I applaud you. We`re going to continue this conversation.

BLOOM: We love Steve.

CLAUDE: Thanks so much.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Yes, we love you, Steve. Please come back as we try to find solutions.

Meantime, more violence; authorities say sex games fuelled by drugs led co- ed Amanda Knox to murder her roommate. We`re going to hear what she has to say in her first jailhouse interview, including the most bizarre presidential endorsement of all times.


VELEZ MITCHELL: Imagine this, you`re in a foreign prison charged with murder and you might never see the light of day again. What`s your primary concern? Not being able to vote for Barack Obama?

That is not a joke. It`s actually what Seattle native and murder suspect, Amanda Knox said in a jailhouse interview; at least, according to the "London Telegraph."

Knox is in Italy waiting to stand trial for the brutal slaying of her roommate, 21-year-old British student, Meredith Kercher. Kercher was found in her bedroom raped and stabbed in the neck almost exactly one year ago.

It all happened during alleged sex games after a Halloween party in the medieval Italian town of Perugia. Prosecutors say the victim just didn`t want to play and was raped and killed as a result.

The latest twist in this ghoulish tale is a reported prison cell interview with Knox proclaiming her innocence, quote, "I hoped too much. In the last few days, I really believed in the possibility of getting out of this place. For that I am now suffering and I am afraid. I know that I didn`t kill Meredith. I was not there that night. How many times must I say that," end quote.

The problem is Knox had previously said she was there that night. And now her former boyfriend, Rafaelle Sollecito, agrees, placing her at the murder scene. This is a case that has transfixed two continents.

Here to shed light on the darker recesses of this macabre tale of co-ed murder in Italy is Jeff Israely, "Time" magazine`s Mediterranean bureau chief and he joins by phone. I believe you`re in some place fabulous like Paris. He`s been reporting on this case extensively.

Jeff, Amanda and her ex-boyfriend who was also accused of murder, they have been as thick as thieves? They were sticking together. He apparently even sent her flowers. Now he`s pointing the finger at her? What happened?

JEFF ISRAELY, TIME MAGAZINE: Well, all three suspects in this case have changed their accounts numerous times according to prosecutors. At this point, the next stage of this story is the trial for both Sollecito and Amanda Knox. The third suspect was convicted earlier this week of the murder and rape and he`s sentenced for 30 years in prison.

So at least the two former boyfriend and girlfriend, to go on trial together and it`s unclear whether they will unite -- will have a united defense or, as you say, point the finger at each other. But this case has been filled with leaks in all sorts of -- in the media in Italy and in the U.K. and also to American reporters.

But the prosecution is going ahead with their version of events which points the finger, finally, at Amanda Knox for actually stabbing the victim to death.

VELEZ MITCHELL: So Amanda Knox and her ex boyfriend about to go on trial. The third person in this case -- and that is Amanda Knox we`re looking at - - The third man in this case, who is considered or has been described as a drifter, has already been convicted. And I believe that`s the third person who`s already been convicted we`re looking at right now? And he`s going to do some very hard time.

I got to say that this young woman, this beautiful, innocent young woman, Amanda Knox, seems to think she`s still on vacation. Apparently she petitioned the court seeking to be released to a hostel, run by nuns, Catholics of some sort -- Catholic religious figures. It was turned down by the judge, obviously, but what does that say about her attitude toward this is whole business.

ISRAELY: She had applied for house arrest while awaiting trial. Italy does have -- can have a very strict approach to bail and if there`s any flight risk, they tend to keep suspects in jail while awaiting trial. She has now been in a Perugia prison for just short of a year, awaiting the trial which will begin in December.

VELEZ MITCHELL: And let me jump in here with asking you because we only have a little bit more time. Please, paint a picture of what the prosecutors say happened. This is very explosive stuff. There`s some sort of sex games, allegedly going on? Halloween, macabre -- and it crossed the line because one girl, the victim, didn`t want to play?

ISRAELY: Yes. That`s what prosecutors say that Amanda Knox and her boyfriend, Sollecito, as well as the suspect who has been convicted, Rudy Guede, from the Ivory Coast, tried to involve Meredith Kercher in this sex game, who was -- she was Amanda Knox`s roommate. And according to prosecutors, she resisted and at that point was killed.

VELEZ MITCHELL: And I have one other very brief, brief question. Is there evidence that Amanda had sex with one or both of these two men?

ISRAELY: Well, she was, at that time, in the middle of what turned out to be a brief relationship with the Italian suspect, Sollecito. So it`s unclear exactly what happened that night, but according to prosecutors the three suspects tried to force the victim to join in some sort of sex games, some sort of orgy and she refused and it cost her her life.

VELEZ MITCHELL: All right. Well, thank you very much for bringing us up to date on this very, very bizarre and macabre case, thank you, Jeff.

This case raise some important societal questions that I want to turn now to my dear friend, clinical psychologist and sexual research pioneer, Dr. Judy Kuriansky. She`s the author of "The Complete Idiot`s Guide to a Healthy Relationship."

Dr. Judy, when you read about these cases as sensational as this, there always seems to be some kind of intersection between sex and violence. Why?

DR. JUDY KURIANSKY, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: No question and they do go together because people lose their senses and their judgment when sex is involved and especially, when there are drugs involved which is, in fact, this is the case with this particular situation of an orgy. It would explain a great deal of about what`s going on.

The two boys and one of the girls who, by the way, called herself foxy Knoxy, which already tells you something about their --

VELEZ MITCHELL: What does it say?

KURIANSKY: Well, it says right away that she is thinking of herself as a sexual, wild person. And, in fact, that`s indeed what looks like it happened. So if the two guys and the girl are involved in a sexual orgy and then there is an innocent girl around, who is resisting, well, that sets up a power play. And that alone ends up being exciting, to overcome this resistant girl that ends up being like a rape can fuel this sort of excitement in the other two males and the female.

VELEZ MITCHELL: All right, Judy. That`s hot stuff and explosive stuff.

Stay right there, we`re going to be back with more in just a moment.


VELEZ MITCHELL: She`s beautiful and accused of murder. Back again, talking about a sensational sex game-murder in Italy with clinical psychologist and sexual research pioneer Dr. Judy Kuriansky.

You were saying something fascinating about the intersection between not just sex and violence but how sex and its relationship to power and power plays can lead to violence.

KURIANSKY: Exactly. And you know that, Jane, because you wrote about many of these cases in "Secrets Can Be Murder" in your book and you know about the rock star producer from the early `60s who was involved in this case where a gun was in a woman`s mouth, and went off.

Well, come on. I mean, there`s pretty clear, in my mind, even though he was not convicted, that there was some aggression going on there, too. And I would have convicted him.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Well, let`s face it. I mean, loving sex is not violent sex. But a lot of sex is casual sex that is not loving sex, so maybe that`s when the power plays and the games enter the equation, when you don`t have love.

KURIANSKY: Well, exactly. And when there is just the game going on. And since you`re passionate about a lot of issues, and greatly so, here is an issue to be passionate about.

The fact that college campuses are more like sex schools now. Many kids are not studying; they`re doing a lot of sex play, as in this situation, where they were abroad, even, and having orgies.

VELEZ MITCHELL: But Dr. Judy, hasn`t it always been that way? Let`s be real.

KURIANSKY: Well, it has, but it has escalated a lot. And the rules have really reduced and there`s a lot more aggression involved. And the limits are being pushed a lot more, Jane, than they used to be. And a lot more drugs are involved so that ends up making it that much more dangerous.

VELEZ MITCHELL: It`s like a toxic combination, I think.

KURIANSKY: Exactly. And so something needs to be done about it.

Just from this case alone, there`ll be parents who would be afraid to send their kids abroad, but it doesn`t matter, it`s happening at home, too.

So the major thing is, even when some sort of instrument like a knife or a gun ends up being involved, I imagine the girl was stabbed in the neck. That`s always psychologically indicative, because she was probably protesting, and somebody wanted to shut her up and did a really decent job at it, by stabbing her.

VELEZ MITCHELL: Dr. Judy, you are so wise. Thank you for your insights into this, and it is a cautionary tale, and especially for girls and women. If you get yourself in a position where you have no options, you are in trouble. So don`t get yourself in that position.

You know, there`s two kinds of conversations; one that happens on TV and the other kind happens everywhere else.

I`m Jane Velez Mitchell, and I`m just trying to keep it real. Thanks for being part of this. Please come back Monday.