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President Obama vs. FOX News; Moving Beyond Racism?

Aired June 17, 2009 - 20:00   ET



CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: (voice-over): Tonight, here are the questions we want answered.

Is FOX News fair and balanced when it comes to the president? President Obama comes out fighting against the 24-hour bashing.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have got one television station that is entirely devoted to attacking my administration.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: Only one network does not have stars in its eyes, so you take a shot at them?

BROWN: It's the president vs. FOX News.

Plus, we all talk about keeping our kids off drugs, but what about the legal kind, the pills parents are giving their children? Tonight's "Great Debate": Are we overmedicating our kids?

And a deadly crash caused by a drunk driver who is only getting 30 days in jail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I accept full responsibility for this horrible tragedy.

BROWN: Did we mention he's an NFL star? Donte Stallworth. Is it another free ride for the famous when it comes to justice?


ANNOUNCER: This is your only source for news. CNN prime time begins now. Here's Campbell Brown.

BROWN: Hi, everybody.

We have got all of that. Plus, tonight's newsmaker is the head of the NAACP. And we have a black president, a Latina Supreme Court nominee now, certainly signs of progress. But, this week, we also saw some pretty shocking examples of racism and insensitivity. We're going to talk about all of that with Ben Jealous coming up in just a moment.

But we start, as we do every night, with the "Mash-Up." It's our look at the stories making impact right now and the moments you may have missed. We are watching it all, so you don't have to. President Obama took it to the fat cats who got us into the economic crisis, today unveiling a sweeping plan to rein in big business, cowboy style.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a new financial sheriff in Washington. At this hour, President Obama proposes sweeping financial rules designed to rope in the Wild West mentality on Wall Street.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: First, we're proposing a set of reforms to require regulators to look not only at the safety and soundness of individual institutions, but also for the first time, at the stability of the financial system as a whole.

Second, we're proposing a new and powerful agency charged with one, just one job, looking out for ordinary consumers.

Third, we're proposing a series of changes designed to promote free and fair markets by closing gaps and overlaps in our regulatory system, including gaps that exist, not just within, but between nations.

The free market is the most powerful, generative force for our prosperity. But it's not a free license to ignore the consequences of our actions.


BROWN: Now, to the small-government crowd, the president's plan sounds a lot like Big Brother.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: Look, is there any less sufficient organization in the world than the federal government? Probably not. You want to put that in charge of the American economy? I mean, come on. I mean, let's be real here. Is that a good idea? Of course it's not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bureaucracy's reaction to problems is often to create new bureaucracies. And that sometimes doesn't solve the problem. And, in fact, God so loved the world, he didn't send a committee.

REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: I'm not too excited about it because I don't think I see anything positive in it. I think it means that the interpretation of our problems is completely wrong. It's based on the assumption that we don't have enough regulation.


BROWN: Congress, of course, has to sign off on the whole shebang, so get ready to rumble.

In Iran tonight, the protests are only getting larger. Check out -- this is amateur video that was posted on YouTube. Take a look, thousands of people spilling into the streets. This is as the government amps up its crackdown on demonstrators and the reporters trying to cover them.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The government continues to crack down. Today, it started blocking Web sites and even accused the U.S. of intolerable interference in its affairs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reporters, including NBC's Tehran bureau chief, Ali Arouzi, are now banned from filming on the streets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're trying to contain the situation here. They're trying to contain it somewhat by fear. Also, their argument is that, we want to stop any civil unrest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Dubai-based Al-Arabiya didn't allow a weeklong ban to report from inside of Iran to stop them from reporting on events down to every detail, on Israel's Channel 10, a discussion about the new phenomenon of Iranian citizen journalism which went from -- quote -- "activism to a full-fledged uprising," according to some experts.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I wouldn't know a Twitter from a tweeter, but, apparently, it is very important.



BROWN: And, of course, the Iranian government knows that, too, which is why they're also trying to crack down on Twitter, big-time.

David Letterman seems to be milking his Sarah Palin moment since it has turned out that the Sarah spat is giving his show quite a little ratings boost. So, last night, Letterman was talking Palin again, as her supporters staged a mini "Fire Dave" rally right outside his studios.


DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": When I call your name, please come forward and pick up your apology.


LETTERMAN: Let's -- I -- I want to get through this as quickly as possible, so you folks can get to the "Fire Dave" rally.


LETTERMAN: Let's check in on the "Fire Dave" rally. It's at 54th and Broadway. Turn it on. There's the CBS...

(LAUGHTER) LETTERMAN: Whoa. Oh, my gosh.

So, the good news is, Sarah Palin has accepted my apology. So, that's...


LETTERMAN: And she also accepted a $500 gift certificate from LensCrafters. I thought that was a nice touch.



BROWN: Oh, will this be the end of it? I hope not.

And now for a story for, frankly, which I have no words at all. Just watch.


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Who would dress as his dead mother to collect her government checks? This guy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thomas Prusik-Parkin of Brooklyn, New York, is accused of dressing up as his dead mom to collect more than $100,000 in Social Security and rent subsidies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He even took a phony nephew with him to make it all look real. The 49-year-old is charged with grand larceny, forgery, and conspiracy charges.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is this reminiscent of the movie "Psycho" anyone?

SANCHEZ: That's what he looks like. That's what she looked like. Or that is what he looked like trying to be she or her. Wow. Strange story.


BROWN: Yes. Prusik-Parkin is pleading not guilty. And that is tonight's "Mash-Up."

And we're moving on now to tonight's first big question. Is FOX News fair and balanced when it comes to President Obama? Listen to what the president told CNBC yesterday.


OBAMA: First of all, I have got one television station that is entirely devoted to attacking my administration. I mean, that's a pretty...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I assume you're talking about FOX?

OBAMA: And, well, that's a pretty big megaphone. And you would be hard-pressed, if you watched the entire day, to find a positive story about me on that front.


BROWN: And, of course, FOX at folks -- the folks, rather, at FOX certainly made the most of that.

Here's what they have been saying about it over the past 24 hours.


HANNITY: Do you know what the president of the United States is really obsessed with? The FOX News Channel.

Mr. President, you are worshipped by the press corps. They salivated over you during the campaign. A bunch of them, they even came to work for you when the election was over.

You have been on the couple of "TIME" magazine more times in one year than anyone can count. ABC is about to give you an hour-long infomercial. NBC's anchor bows to you in the Oval Office. Only one network does not have stars in its eyes, so you took a shot at them?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Perhaps, he's just a little thin-skinned when it comes to getting criticism on FOX. And, Gretch, you're right. We're one of a bunch of channels. I have got 500 channels on my new FiOS. We're just one channel there.


BROWN: Now here to talk about all this, CNN senior political analyst Jeffrey Toobin, Republican strategist and CNN contributor Ed Rollins, in Washington, Republican strategist Bay Buchanan joining as well, and, in New Orleans, Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor James Carville with us also.

James Carville, let me start with you here. What do you think of all of this?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, Fred "Beetle" Barnes, who runs the print version of FOX News, "The Weekly Standard," said that they had no interest in any kind of Republican stories, that the whole thing was about to say no and be against Obama.

That's what FOX is. I don't know why the president -- everybody in the country knows that. If I was president, I probably wouldn't have mentioned that.

By the way, Lou Dobbs does a pretty good job of tap-dancing on his head the hour before he comes on, on our network. So, I mean, it's not that FOX is the only -- only people that print -- run negative stories about this president. They have a whole right-wing echo chamber out there.

BROWN: Bay Buchanan, what do you think?

BAY BUCHANAN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, if you think at the runaway ratings of FOX, you would think they're doing God's work over there, quite honestly.

There's no question that they tend to look at things from a conservative point of view. Millions and millions of Americans are delighted to have somebody speaking for them, analyzing this administration from that perspective.

They have an obligation, if they think these policies are harmful to this country, to expose them and let the American people let them know what they think, so that maybe things can be turned around by the people themselves.

But Obama's ridiculous statement -- you have got five on his corner, one in ours, and he's complaining.

BROWN: Ed Rollins, I mean, strategically, why should the president give them fodder, I guess?

ED ROLLINS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: He shouldn't. He absolutely shouldn't.

You always tell a candidate or a president, don't show any pain. You know, there's all kinds of good press every day that a president gets. FOX -- this made Roger Ailes' day, and I'm sure Rupert Murdoch is going to give him a big bonus. This is probably running on a tape all day long for him.

The bottom line is, you do your job. You get up every day. You do your job. You hope to get honest coverage. FOX, obviously, has a targeted audience. Their audience is more conservative.

BROWN: Jeff?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Here's a sentence I never thought would pass my lips. I thought Hannity made a lot of sense in that -- in what he said.


TOOBIN: You know, Barack Obama has gotten more favorable press than I think any politician in recent American history.

I don't think there's any debate about that. MSNBC has made an institutional commitment to be the Democratic FOX. It's -- it's a pro-Obama, the way -- the way FOX is the anti-Obama network.

But, obviously, as everyone is saying, he should -- Obama shouldn't have responded. And I think it's particularly inappropriate for him to be responding in this way, because he has gotten very favorable press coverage. BROWN: What do you think about that, James, especially -- and it's not only MSNBC who has clearly taken sides, but ABC also under attack because of this hour they're focusing on the health care, around the president's health care plan. What do you think?

CARVILLE: Well, first of all, let ABC defend itself. It's a big enough network to do that. And they have a pretty good defense.

Jeffrey is right. Again, I don't know why the president, by doing this -- you're right -- Roger couldn't be -- he couldn't be happier. The whole thing couldn't be happier. And, by the way, their -- their viewership couldn't be happier either.

And he does -- he has gotten a very good press. And he got a very good press during the campaign. He got a very good press during the primaries. But he also has a very skilled press operation. And he's doing a lot of -- a lot of things that the press needs to cover.

But I tend to agree. It doesn't do much good to whine or complain about the press. You have just got to get up, and, like Ed said, do your job every day. And some people are going to treat you fairly. Some people are not going to treat you so fairly.

But they're not -- I give FOX and "The Weekly Standard" and that whole right-wing crowd -- they're not duplicitous about it. They say they don't -- they don't really care what the Republicans are for. They're just going to be against Obama. And I -- I'm -- I admire their honesty.

BROWN: Do you agree with that, Bay?

BUCHANAN: You know what I think is funny is, when you take a look at this president, he couldn't last in Republican skin two months.

I mean, we would just be constantly battered by the press. We all understood that. That's why we know not -- to ignore them. It's the smartest thing you can do is hope for the good press and not bad- mouth the bad press.

This is a man that clearly does -- not accustomed and does not -- there's an arrogance there that he can't handle any kind of criticism. And he's got a long couple years ahead of him.

TOOBIN: Well, I think there's an ebb and flow to the press here.

Remember, George W. Bush, from 9/11 to well into the Iraq war, got amazingly favorable press. Finally, Katrina and the Iraq war's course turned the press and -- and the country against him. So, I don't think the press is ideologically biased. I think there is -- except for MSNBC and FOX. I think event dictate more than institutional bias.

ROLLINS: I worked for Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, so you're not going to get any sympathy out of me on -- about bad press for the president. (LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN: Amen to that.

ROLLINS: I think the -- I think the key -- the key thing here is, he just -- I think he has to keep doing his job.

He has got a big task ahead of him. And as time goes on, he's going to get worse press, because events aren't going to get better in a short period here. So, you have got to survive.

BROWN: All right, we're ending it there.

Many thanks to the panel, and coming back for more interesting chat in a few moments.

But we're going to move on to tonight's newsmaker, Ben Jealous, the head of the NAACP on racism in the age of Obama. With even some lawmakers making racist jokes, we're going to take a closer look at why we just can't seem to move beyond it.

Also, coming up, as I mentioned before with our panel, sex, politics, and infidelity, another Republican caught doing the deed, but what is worse, the affair or the hypocrisy? When we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BROWN: Welcome back, everybody.

Tonight's newsmaker is Ben Jealous. He's the current head of the NAACP. And the topic for him tonight, the Republican Party fending off charges of racism. Case in point, a Republican Party activist in South Carolina was forced to apologize after comparing an escaped gorilla to first lady Michelle Obama's ancestor's.

Also, just this week, an aide to Tennessee Republican State Senator Diane Black was reprimanded after sending an e-mail with a racist image portraying our first black president compared with all of his white predecessors.

All of this brought a rare show of unity from the women on "The View."


WHOOPI GOLDBERG, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": If you're trying to change your image, which I believe the GOP is trying to do -- they're trying to find a new way to get out there and get more people in -- how do you do it when a lot of folks feel that the -- the GOP has always sort of been like a slightly...


GOLDBERG: ... party?



ELISABETH HASSELBECK, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": ... just being a Republican, OK, I -- that is -- it's a sad -- it's a sad thing that that's the image that this party has had.

And things like that, which are disgusting and vile and racist and evil, do nothing more than undermine a general cause of bringing people together. And I don't -- it's embarrassing. It's just flat- out embarrassing that those e-mails come around.


BROWN: And it's easy to see why Ben Jealous and the NAACP sees that their work is far from over.

Take a look.


BROWN: Give me your take on these incidents, the comments, the cartoons. Are these isolated incidents, or do they speak to a deeper problem within the Republican Party?

BENJAMIN JEALOUS, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NAACP: The party is clearly going through a bit of an identity crisis right now.

They sent out a group of people on the road to listen to the country. They sent out three white men. At the same time, they have a black chairman who is actually a fairly moderate guy. And they have to choose whether they want to be the party of Lincoln or the party of Jefferson Davis.

There is an ongoing conversation about race in the Republican Party. Unfortunately, it's always in reaction to some gaffe that they make, now on a -- sometimes on a monthly basis, sometimes on a daily basis.

BROWN: So, speaking of the chairman of the Republican Party, Michael Steele, is -- has said he wants to try to reach out to more minorities. Does he have a chance of doing that, when you continue to hear about things like this?

JEALOUS: Well, you know, a chairman is only as good as the people who follow him.

And the reality is that there does seem to be sort of a war for the base of the party. You have Rush Limbaugh out there very aggressively with this kind of retrograde tone, trying to resurrect a day that will no longer -- it just isn't possible for sort of a white- male-dominated society.

They need to push and move beyond that. The folks who are kind of sitting there in the shadows, very much part of the base of the Republican Party who do believe in Lincoln's dream of one united country need to come out and support their chairman. If not, that party will just become less and less relevant over the next few years. BROWN: President Obama has said he wants this dialogue on race. How do you take episodes like this and use them effectively, positively, to get that conversation going?


JEALOUS: Well, you know, it gives us a chance in communities across the country to engage. Whenever we have one of these gaffes, one of the good thing that comes out of it is that people really sit down and say, you -- you -- we have got to talk. You know, we have got to really focus on the positive in our communities and the positive of this moment.

We're at this moment, where the father of the country is now a black man, that the first lady is black. And that -- and that -- and that changes a lot of people's daily lives. They are not used to seeing positive images, quite frankly, of black people on the news on a regular basis.

But we have to shift from being reactive in that conversation to being proactive. And that's a conversation we're having inside the NAACP about how we can help shift that conversation, because, quite frankly, this is a day that we have been fighting for, for 100 years.

BROWN: You have a black president. You have a Latino nominated to the Supreme Court.


BROWN: A lot of people are going to say, you know what? You need to be focusing on the progress here and not on the setbacks.

What do you say to that?

JEALOUS: And that's true.

We absolutely celebrate each of those. And the fact that we're going to sort of beyond binary, if you will, on the Supreme Court -- it's not black and white or black/white, a Latino -- is a great thing. But we also have a real commitment to just people, just regular, everyday people.

And the reality is, is that their lives haven't changed as much as the Obamas' have changed. Their life haven't changed as much as Sotomayor's has changed. And, so, in order to keep that sort of churn of victories and firsts and breaking down barriers happening, unfortunately, you have got to keep pointing out the problems in our society.

The reality right now is that too many fathers can't find jobs. Too many moms don't get paid enough at their jobs. Too many kids go to schools that are an embarrassment to everything that this country stands for. And we have to stay focused on that. It's the only way that the country gets better.

BROWN: Ben Jealous, great to have you here. Appreciate your time.

JEALOUS: Thank you. Appreciate you.


BROWN: On Friday, our newsmaker is going to be of the Black Eyed Peas. He's going to tell us why more and more big stars are going to head to head with the very people who play their music. That is Friday night.

And one more brief program note. Tomorrow night, 8:00 Eastern, a special live edition of "Money & Main Street." Anderson Cooper, Ali Velshi and the CNN Money team will have advice on how you can survive these tough economic times. That is tomorrow night, 8:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.

Tonight's "Great Debate": Ritalin, Prozac, Adderall are pushing pills on our kids and raising a generation hooked on meds.

Plus, same-sex benefits, Sammy Sosa on steroids, and a girl who accidentally got her face tattooed. It's all in the download.


BROWN: Time to check on some of the other must-see stories of the day.

Here with tonight's download, Erica Hill.


Today, President Obama extending limited job benefits to same-sex partners of federal workers. That includes sick leave for care of a partner and long-term care. The president has, of course, been criticized by gay rights group for not doing enough, including the repealing the military's don't ask, don't tell policy, as he promised during the campaign.

The president today conceding the move was -- quote -- "only one step."

Former baseball star Sammy Sosa could be in big trouble with Congress. "The New York Times" says he tested positive for illegal performance-enhancing drugs in 2003. But you may remember, in 2005, Sosa told a House committee he never used performance-enhancing drugs. Well, now investigators want to know if he lied to lawmakers. The ex- Chicago Cuba is sixth, by the way, on baseball's career home run list.

And talk about a major blunder, but the big question is, who's really to blame here? Check out these stars. Those are tattooed on her face. A Belgian teen says she asked for just three stars on her cheek. Then she fell asleep in the chair and woke up with -- oops -- 56. The tattoo artist claims the girl never fell asleep and didn't actually complain until her dad and her boyfriend the new additions and were horrified. She is suing for the cost of a removal. The tattoo artist says: Look, I don't think it was my fault, but I don't want to have an unhappy customer. I will pay for half.


HILL: Really? You sleep through the tattooing of 53 additional stars on your face?

BROWN: I don't know.


HILL: I don't buy it.

BROWN: It's hard to imagine.

HILL: Even if she passed out, perhaps she was under the influence at the time. Come on.


BROWN: No one ever gets a tattoo when they're under the influence.


HILL: Nobody gets a tattoo....


BROWN: It never happens.

HILL: Never.

BROWN: No. Erica Hill for us tonight, thanks.

HILL: They never regret it either.



BROWN: Tonight's "Great Debate," are we pushing pills on our kids? They're taking everything from Ritalin to Adderall. Should we be giving them more discipline than drugs? That coming up.

Plus, a "LARRY KING" exclusive, on the road with the Jonas Brothers. That's tonight's breakout.


BROWN: Time for our "Great Debate."

And tonight's premise, are we pushing pills on our kids? They are on everything today, from Ritalin to Adderall. You have heard all about it.

We're going to join -- or joining us right now to have this debate in Washington, Kelly O'Meara. Her latest book is called "Psyched Out: How Psychiatry Sells Mental Illness and Pushes Pills That Kill." And, in Los Angeles, Dr. Charles Sophy, who is a psychiatrist in private practice and serves as medical director at the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services.

And, of course, we want your opinion, too. Vote by calling the number on the bottom of your screen.

First, we're going to have opening statements from each, 30 seconds on the clock for each of you.

Kelly, the premise is, we are giving our kids too many psychiatric -- psychiatric drugs. Make your case.

KELLY O'MEARA, AUTHOR, "PSYCHED OUT": I would say that we're at epidemic levels. And it's been going on for a long time.

It's a two-part problem. It's the diagnosis itself that's not based in science or medicine. There is no objective test that you can give children or adults to prove that you actually have some sort of psychiatric abnormality.

And the second part, of course, is the drugging, the prescription drugs that are doled out to treat these so-called disorders.

BROWN: Dr. Sophy, go ahead.


I would say that I think it's very important to understand that these are really true symptoms that these children are -- are suffering from. Whether they are attached to a true disorder is an issue that maybe can be a debate for science.

However, there's a lot of research behind those disorders. And, remember, the medications are used to treat symptoms, to get them out of the way, so those children and those families can benefit from other treatments that will last them lifelong time.

BROWN: Let me -- let me go to you just for a second on this, Kelly, and ask you if you agree that there are at least certain instances where drugs should be used. And that the real issue we're trying to get to here is that, you know, we're throwing pills at every problem where they're not necessary. But you do believe in certain cases, correct?

KELLY O'MEARA, AUTHOR, "PSYCHED OUT": Well, when it comes to psychiatric diagnosing and psychiatric drugs, it's hard to say that there are instances when somebody should be taking these drugs because we don't know what causes the behavior or the emotional problem. And we're going to drug them with very, very severe, you know, with major adverse reactions that happen with these drugs. So until science and medicine could tell us what causes children to act out, if there is some objective, confirmable abnormality, I'm not sure what it is we're treating. What are we treating?

BROWN: Dr. Sophy?

SOPHY: We are definitely treating impulse brain disorders. We are treating mood disorders. We are treating anxiety disorders. We are treating psychotic disorders.

They may not be what they look like in adults in our children, but we have symptoms from children who are exhibiting similar things that adults do with those disorders and those symptoms are debilitating them. And that's what the medicines are for. It's to remove those symptoms.

Again, we've got to make sure that the right person is prescribing and that a family is part of a team in making that decision. These are not medicines to be given in a vacuum. These are not medicines to be given by someone who is not well trained in at least treating the disorders and the symptoms.

BROWN: I think -- let me just challenge you a little on this, Dr. Sophy, because there are studies, for example, that show teaching parents new parenting skills can often help in cases of kids with ADHD. And that is sort of the mainstream treatment, I believe, that they use in Great Britain, is focusing on better parenting. Is there a knee-jerk reaction in this country to just medicate, instead of trying to get to the heart of the problem sometimes?

SOPHY: I definitely see the fact and the benefit that you have to do a full screening assessment and evaluation of a child, of a family, so that you're able to give them what they will need and benefit the most. Medication is just one of the pieces of the menu to choose from.

So, yes, parenting, behavioral skills, in-home counseling, in- home behavioral stuff may be the basic steps for some of my patients even. But I do think medicine should be part of the decision-making process on every case, whether that child takes the medicine is another issue.

BROWN: Kelly, go ahead.

O'MEARA: Well, I would argue that the FDA, when they looked at all the clinical trial data for all of the psychotropic drugs, the SSRIs, what they found was that patients did just as well on a placebo as they did on the drug. And with a new study out about ADHD and the drugs that treat ADHD in children such as Ritalin, which is methylphenidate. That's a Schedule-2 drug. The government considers that one of the most serious drugs you can take. It's up there with morphine, heroin, cocaine.

The DEA has said that methylphenidate is equal to cocaine in its effect. So when a parent decides to give their child a psychotropic drug or Ritalin, which is a stimulant, they have to understand, this is the closest thing that we have to cocaine. Legally we're going to give cocaine or something very, very similar in its effect to our children every day.

BROWN: All right. Very quickly, Dr. Sophy, I'll let you respond.

SOPHY: You have two issues here going. One is, you have to make sure those children are assessed and screened and treated and diagnosed appropriately. Some ADHDs do better without medicine, but you got to make sure you know what you're treating so that you know how to treat it and get the response that you need.

BROWN: All right.

SOPHY: Medicines on the street are not the same as medicines done by a pharmaceutical controlled-substance system.

BROWN: And we do have to end it there. Kelly O'Meara and Dr. Sophy, appreciate your time tonight.

O'MEARA: Thank you.

BROWN: Both of you, appreciate the debate.

SOPHY: Thank you.

BROWN: And we want to see how you voted in tonight's "Great Debate." Eighty-one percent agree that we are pushing pills to our kids, 19 percent disagree. As always, not a scientific poll. Just a snapshot from our viewers who did call in.

And there's plenty of shame to go around with regards to the next story in the Senator Ensign scandal. But which ten of the pitchfork, rather, is worse, the adultery or the hypocrisy? Stay tuned for that discussion and for tonight's breakout story, Larry King's interview with the hottest thing in music, the Jonas Brothers.


BROWN: Here's a big question for you, if you're a politician, what's worse? Being exposed as an adulterer or as a hypocrite? A rock and a hard place, we say, and that's just where Republican Senator John Ensign of Nevada finds himself. Senator Ensign resigned his GOP leadership position today one day after this admission.


SEN. JOHN ENSIGN (R), NEVADA: Last year, I had an affair. I violated the vows of my marriage. It's absolutely the worse thing that I've ever done in my life. If there was ever anything that I could take back in my life, this would be it. I take full responsibility for my actions.


BROWN: Good as far as it goes, but maybe not good enough for a senator who had a 100 percent approval rating from the Christian coalition. He's also a member of the men's ministry called Promise Keepers and was a major finger-wagger back in the battle of Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky days.

So let's bring back our panel. We've got James, Bay, Ed, and Jeff with me once again.

James, what's the bigger problem here, is it the affair or the hypocrisy?

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, you know, first of all, it's a human thing. And I always kind of like Senator Ensign, I still do. His dad is a great guy. And people are human beings, and we have to remember that.

I mean, he loses his job. But Senator Vitter from Louisiana, you know, probably broke a law and he gets to keep his job as deputy whip. I don't know why he has to resign his job in the Republican leadership.

People are human beings, people stumble, they fall. They get up again. I mean, the man is obviously contrite. He is sorry it happened. I think we ought to forgive him, and let's move on here.

BROWN: But is that possible, Bay, given his conservative record?

BAY BUCHANAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I completely agree with James. This man made a mistake. As James said, he's clearly addressed this error.

We're all humans. He's no different than the rest of us. We don't have to be Christian to make us different. We still have frailties.

And the key is character. The key is character, and that's what's important. And so the character doesn't come, it's not defined by your weakness or your strength. It's defined by how you address those weaknesses when you fall. How do you accept that challenge and address it to make you a stronger person?

I think Ensign appears to me -- the senator appears to be a much stronger man, a much better man today than he was a year ago.

BROWN: But again, Ed, given the conservative record, do you get held to a higher standard in politics?

ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Sure you do. And the scene here is stupidity. First of all, the woman was the wife of his chief of staff. Their son worked for the committee that he was chairman of. So the story is going to go on and that's what -- Washington and the Senate, particularly, is a club. And you embarrassed Mrs. Ensign and the club.

I mean, I'm all for giving forgiveness. I like John Ensign very much. You know, I'm sure he wishes he hadn't done it. But the story is not over. He's got to go back. Fortunately, he's got four years. He's up for re-election, and he's got some tough sledding into the Christian coalition. That is allegedly supposed to be forgiving. He's going to have some tough, tough sledding.

BROWN: Does the public even care about these stories? Or is there a sense of fatigue surrounding us kind of thing anyway?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: You know, I think the public's got pretty good radar about this, about what matters and what doesn't. You know, Bill Clinton survived I think because the public had a pretty good sense of how important or unimportant the whole Monica Lewinsky scandal is. I suspect that Ensign will probably survive.

Larry Craig could not survive. You know, that much hypocrisy was too much. Eliot Spitzer could not survive as a law enforcement official admitting, committing the crime of going to a prostitute. So I think those judgments are probably about right.

BROWN: So, how do you figure out who survives? Who doesn't survive? I mean, do Republicans and Democrats, Bay, do you think treat these issues differently when they come up?

BUCHANAN: Well, I think the first thing we've got to do is distinguish the Larry Craigs, the Clintons, and even the other example that was put on the table here as hypocrisy because they committed crimes. Those are crimes.

What we have here with Ensign is no crime. This is adultery. And so that's the issue.

And I do agree, though, with your point, Campbell, is I think Republicans are held to a higher standard because they tend to be coming from a very conservative, a Christian background, and so people are alarmed that they broke that vow. The idea being if your wife can't trust you, how can a voter trust you?

But again, we're humans. You know, we're humans and Christians understand that. We do make mistakes. The key is, I think he's addressed this. He's dealt with it very, very quickly. And his wife seems to be reconciled. They're stronger.

BROWN: Right.

BAY: I think now it's not our story. It's no longer our story.

BROWN: All right. We got to end it there. We're coming back with the panel for more on another story.


BROWN: The punishment is supposed to fit the crime, right? So how come a drunk-driving accident that resulted in a death only brought a certain football player 30 days of jail time? Stay tuned for that. And an exclusive with Sasha and Malia Obama's favorites. The Jonas brothers, coming up.


BROWN: Another big question we are asking tonight, do athletes get a free ride when it comes to justice? NFL star Donte' Stallworth got drunk, killed a man. The Cleveland Browns receiver ran down a construction worker in Miami after a night of partying back in March. And for that, he got 30 days in jail, two years of house arrest and eight years probation during which he'll probably be able to play pro football again. Here is his apology after pleading guilty in court yesterday. Take a look.


DONTE' STALLWORTH, CLEVELAND BROWNS RECEIVER: I would like to once again express my deepest sincerities and condolences to the Reyes family and Mr. Reyes' daughter, Daniela. Your honor, I offer my plea and I accept full responsibility for this horrible tragedy. I assure you that this tragedy will continue to bear this burden for the rest of my life.


BROWN: Here to talk about this case, Jamie Floyd, who is the anchor of "In Session" on truTV. Sports attorney Ryan Smith is with us as well, and in Atlanta, Donte' Stallworth's attorney, David Cornwell, also joining us tonight.

Welcome to everybody.

Jamie, let me start with you on this because you just say, I mean, 30 days is actually a pretty normal sentence?

JAMIE FLOYD, ANCHOR, "IN SESSION": Yes, I think this is getting misreported in a lot of ways. A lot of people focusing on the civil settlement. That's a different case. Focusing on the NFL, that's a different case.

This is about taking a plea. He took a plea. This wasn't a trial.

This is not a sentence after a conviction came down. Part of making a deal is getting a good deal. And he's been remorseful from jump, as the kids say. He -- I've stood by many, many, probably hundreds of people taking guilty pleas. I've rarely seen someone express so much remorse so candidly in a court of law in a guilty plea.

BROWN: But to a lot of people, they think, OK, Michael Vick gets -- what did he get? Like 19 months for dog fighting and this guy killed somebody.

FLOYD: Maybe that athletes get a better justice in court, but this case does -- is not exemplary (ph) of that. BROWN: Ryan?

RYAN SMITH, SPORTS ATTORNEY: I think he got way too little time. I mean, let's face it, he had a 15-year maximum on this one. So, the fact that they accepted a 30-day plea which really is more like 24 days because he can get an extra five days off and he's already served one is way too low for actually hitting a guy while drunk while he's waiting for the bus.

FLOYD: But eight years probation, he blew one too. It's not like he blew --


SMITH: Exactly, he killed a man. And the thing is the prosecution had a burden to charge him just to try to get a much higher period. Now let's face it. It's great that he was forthcoming from the very beginning and all these things but he had the money --

BROWN: All right. Hold on, guys, we've got Stallworth's attorney with us.

So, David, you're here. I mean, what do you say to people at home who are frankly pretty outraged when they hear 30 days for somebody who killed somebody in a drunk-driving accident? And he's an NFL star. It just -- how do you explain it?

DAVID CORNWELL, STALLWORTH'S ATTORNEY: Well, you explain it by noting that you have to dig a little deeper than an emotional reaction. Three factors contributed to the plea result. The unique circumstances of the case, the facts were in dispute. And in a DUI manslaughter case, causation is always an issue. And our criminal defense lawyer, Christopher Lyons, was quite confident if we had to go to trial.

Two, Donte's remorse and the way that he conducted himself from the moment of the accident up until yesterday when the judge said you have taken responsibility like a man. And most importantly, the Reyes family did not want to have to relive this tragedy by going through a trial. And the court appointed a personal representative for Mr. Reyes' daughter, Daniela, who spoke at the hearing yesterday and said Daniela would suffer psychological damage if she had to go through a trial.

All those factors combined end up with a result that we had yesterday.

BROWN: All right. Is he going to play football again?

SMITH: He's going to play football again most definitely. I mean, he's basically going to be in jail for 30-some days and then he comes out and he's got enough time to make it in for training camp.

But, let's face facts here. He, I understand he took a 30-day plea. He had exemplary legal counsel. But, he only gets 30 days. If he didn't have money, if he couldn't settle the civil suit in advance...

FLOYD: I agree.

SMITH: ... would that do? Could the ordinary Joe get a 30-day term?

FLOYD: We should give indigent people this kind of defense. Certainly, the bottom line is our criminal justice system is not about retribution. It is about making sure that we represent the defendant properly. And he was properly defended, represented here.

BROWN: Right.

FLOYD: And he's adequately remorseful. What more do we want? To put him in prison just so we all feel good about it because he's a big athlete? That's not what our system is about.

BROWN: Well, we got to end it there. But you wonder that's a whole separate conversation I think where our justice system goes on cases like this.

But many thanks to Ryan, to Jamie. And, of course, David Cornwell, thank you for joining us as well. We really appreciate it.

CORNWELL: Certainly.

BROWN: "LARRY KING LIVE" starting at the top of the hour. Wolf Blitzer is sitting in for Larry tonight.

Wolf, what are you working on?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Campbell, good discussion. Very good discussion, in fact.

We're going to have the latest on what's going on in Iran right now on the streets. New information is just coming in. The government there clearly trying to control what we see, what we hear. But word of what's going on is getting out and we're getting it.

Also, less than six months into the job, President Obama's effectiveness being questioned by some. James Carville and Ben Stein, among others, they'll be here to debate that and a lot more.

All of that, Campbell, coming up on "LARRY KING LIVE."

BROWN: All right, Wolf. We'll see you in a few minutes.

Coming up, life inside the White House with Sasha and Malia. The Jonas brothers sat down with Larry King to talk about it. We've got a sneak peek for tonight's breakout.


BROWN: Welcome back. We want to bring you our breakout story. This is a story from around the globe that we believe breaks through all the noise out there. Tonight's breakout, Larry King's exclusive all access pass to the Jonas Brothers.

Yes, I said it. Larry King with the Jonas Brothers. If your teenage daughter is still screaming, that's because they are the hottest thing around. But parents don't fret, they tell Larry King they are good boys and they have purity rings to prove it.


LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Joe, you all wear silver purity rings -- a symbol of values. How did this come about?

JOE JONAS, THE JONAS BROTHERS: Well, we were young, you know. I was probably 11, 12 years old when we made the decision. And, you know, we are happy with, you know, the decision we made.

KING: And its purpose is?

J. JONAS: You know, I think it's to treat women with respect and ladies with respect. And you know, it is a private thing -- a private decision that we made a while back. And I think we like to keep it private. But, you know, we're not afraid of what --

KING: Just very noble (ph). Is it hard, going to be hard, Kevin? You're 21, right?

KEVIN JONES, JONAS BROTHERS: Of course, no one is above temptation. No one is above life in general. And so for us, we're just trying to do our best every single day. And I think we've said this a lot, but we're just trying to make our mom proud.


BROWN: And that's not all the Jonas Brothers tell Larry they also talked about how on inauguration night they got to surprise two of their biggest fans, Sasha and Malia Obama.


LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": You've been to the White House a lot?


KING: What was that like, Kevin?

KEVIN JONAS, JONAS BROTHERS: It was really cool. We actually got the opportunity to be there the first night that the family was in the house and we have to be the surprise at the end of the scavenger hunt for the girls, teaching them about each room. And at the very last room they walked in and we were there playing with acoustic guitars. We got to play a little show for them and a couple of their cousins and their friends that were there. And it was really, really neat.

KING: How did you find the Obamas, Joe?

JOE JONAS, JONAS BROTHERS: How do we find them?

KING: You know, I mean, how did you find them to be?

J. JONAS: Oh, I was like --

KING: I know what you mean.

KING: You look for the door. How did you react? How did you feel? How did you feel?

J. JONAS: You know, we haven't met the president yet. But we've met the family and they're very nice. They're very sweet. And they're very nice girls, yes.

KING: Two little girls fans, Nick?

NICK JONAS, JONAS BROTHERS: They are. They were singing every word with all their friends. It was a really nice thing to do. We were so honored they had us.


BROWN: All right, girls. The Jonas Brothers will perform for you tomorrow night on "LARRY KING LIVE." Not sure if Larry will dance along, but he'll also have more of his exclusive interview as well. You can see it all tomorrow night, 9:00 Eastern time.

John Edwards gave an interview today to talk about his future. Stay tuned to see whether that kept anyone from wondering about his past.


BROWN: Time for the "PDB," our "Political Daily Briefing." And Erica Hill is back with us. What do you got?

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And we begin with the video of Mr. Obama which, of course, was in last night's match-up killing a fly during an interview.

Well, now, it has PETA talking. The animal rights organization telling CNN, calls about the fly have been coming in from around the world. Their take -- the president is "only human."

In fact, here's the official PETA statement. "He isn't the Buddha. He's a human being and human beings have a long way to go before they think before they act."

BROWN: John Edwards also in the news again, I think.

HILL: Yes, former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards actually giving a very lengthy interview, his first since admitting to his affair. And he says he's not ruling out a future in politics. But he also said he's not jumping to restore his reputation either. Those revelations in that 90-minute interview with "The Washington Post." Now, he went on to say his focus is on his family right now, and on those who can't take care of themselves, noting that he'd like to see the president take a stronger position on poverty. But what he didn't talk about, a lot in that 90-minutes.

He refused to talk about the affair, about one-time mistress Rielle Hunter, her baby's paternity, his wife, Elizabeth Edwards' book, or the current investigation involving some funding for his campaign. We did learn, though, that he actually was out of the country for much of Mrs. Edwards' book tour.

BROWN: Oh, we'll see when that interview actually happens.

HILL: Yes.

BROWN: Finally, in Cave Creek, Arizona, they found an unusual way to settle an election.

HILL: This cracks me up today. A tie for the final town council seat, maybe you decide it with a runoff where you live. Not in Cave Creek, where only a deck of cards would do. The highest card wins.

And it's not only legal, it's actually Arizona State law that ties should be broken "by lots." That 1925 ruling, though, doesn't apply to elected offices like governor and attorney general.

BROWN: You've got to love it.

HILL: It's great.

BROWN: Erica Hill for us tonight. Thanks, Erica. We'll see you tomorrow.

That's it for us. "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.