Return to Transcripts main page


Pakistani Military Launches Offensive against Taliban; Louisiana Justice of the Peace Refuses to Marry Interracial Couples; Sheriff Calls Runaway Balloon Ordeal a Hoax; Employees Brace for Higher Insurance Cost; What Listeners Don't Know About Talk Radio; Reform Behind Closed Doors?; Afghan Election Crisis; Morehouse Cross Dressing Ban; Gearing up for Flu Season; Health Reform Behind Closed Doors

Aired October 19, 2009 - 07:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Thanks for being with us on this Monday. It's the 19th of October. It's the Most News in the Morning. I'm John Roberts.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Kiran Chetry. Glad you're with us.

Here are the stories we're breaking down for you in the next 15 minutes. First, General David Petraeus is visiting Pakistan as part of the government's major offensive that gets ready to launch there to drive Taliban fighters from the safe haven areas, the mountainous region near the Afghan border.

We're giving you a live report from the Pentagon on Petraeus' trip, and also later this hour, we'll talk with Senator John Kerry. He's also in Islamabad after a weekend stop in Afghanistan.

ROBERTS: Suspicions confirmed in Colorado. Police say the parents of the 6-year-old who grabbed the nation's attention when we all thought he was adrift in a makeshift balloon put on a very good show, calling the entire 90-minute ordeal a hoax by a family who wanted a reality show.

The Heenes' attorney, David Lane, just told us the father and mother took a polygraph test. No word on the results. This morning, though, criminal charges could be on the way, according to authorities.

CHETRY: And the real power of talk radio. All over America, people are venting on the air and listening for hours at a time. We're going to show you the secret tactic analysts say talk radio hosts use to hook listeners, and it's not just conservative radio. Carol Costello will be coming up in our first series, special series on talk radio.

ROBERTS: We begin the hour this morning with new developments from Pakistan. General David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is in Islamabad this morning for talks with Pakistani leaders. Massachusetts Senator John Kerry is also there. The visit comes as Pakistani forces surge into Taliban territory. The intense border battle targeting a militant stronghold in South Waziristan near the Afghanistan border.

The Taliban claims it has inflicted heavy casualties and is vowing to fight to the last drop of blood to defend its territory. Our Barbara Starr is live at the Pentagon for us this morning. Barbara, first, the General Petraeus in Pakistan. What are you hearing about his meetings there?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: John, the job for General Petraeus in Pakistan is to determine on the ground what is really going on. It has been a terrible two weeks in that country, unending militant attacks, more than 150 dead and a humiliating, a particularly humiliating attack against military headquarters in Rawalpindi last week. That's the type of destabilization, the type of unrest that is grabbing U.S. attention. General Petraeus is trying to determine whether the Taliban have gained so much strength in recent months that they really pose a very central danger to the very stability of the government in Islamabad - John.

ROBERTS: Barbara, this offensive that's going on, as we said, in south Waziristan, near the border with Afghanistan to try to root Taliban there, how significant is this and is the military making any real progress? As we said, the Taliban saying that it has inflicted heavy casualties in the Pakistani military.

STARR: You know, I think that's really item number two on General Petraeus' list -- how real is this assault? We're seeing a lot of TV pictures, but what's really going on on the ground?

It looks like it's shaping up to be about 28,000 Pakistani military troops against about 15,000 militants in this Taliban/Al Qaeda stronghold of south Waziristan.

But you see the pictures there. This is very rough, rugged terrain. This is the homeland for the Taliban and Al Qaeda. They know these roads, these mountains, these hideouts. So, it's going to be very tough going.

And already, tens of thousands of civilians said to be on the roads trying to flee that fighting. So, General Petraeus also trying to determine, is this real? Are the Pakistani forces really once and for all going after these militants - John.

ROBERTS: Barbara Starr for us at the Pentagon this morning. Barbara, and, of course, another significant event today is the Afghanistan Election Complaints commission renders a verdict on whether or not Hamid Karzai got 50 percent of the vote and does stand as president or if there needs to be a runoff election.

And later on this hour, at 7:45 eastern, we're going to talk with Senator John Kerry. He's in Islamabad, as we said, and we'll be talking to him about what should happen in terms of the Afghanistan government going forward - Kiran.

CHETRY: Also this morning, a homemade flying saucer that sailed across the Colorado sky and TV screens nationwide with fears that a 6- year-old was riding inside or worse, had fallen out. Well, it's now evidence in a bizarre criminal case.

Authorities say this whole thing was an elaborate hoax, that it was scripted by the boy's dad, Richard Heene. That is, until their story unraveled right here on CNN.

Dan Simon's live in Ft. Collins, Colorado. What else are you learning this morning? As you know, we just had a chance to speak to the family's attorney.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, Kiran. The attorney just said that Richard Heene, the father, actually took a lie detector test. He did not reveal the results of what occurred in that test, but new information there.

This is, of course, in terms of this being an alleged hoax, this is what millions of people had suspected all along. Here's how this went down. Authorities say they were able to lure the father, Richard Heene, to the sheriff's station over the weekend by saying he could have what was left of that silver balloon.

At that point, they were able to separate the family, do some independent interviews, and that's apparently what led the sheriff to say this whole thing was a hoax.


SIMON: That home video, the interviews.

RICHARD HEENE: I'm really sorry I yelled at him.

SIMON: The call to 911.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you sure that he's in that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. We looked everywhere.

SIMON: All of it, authorities say, part of an elaborate hoax orchestrated by the 6-year-old's parents, Richard and Mayumi Heene.

SHERIFF JIM ALDERDEN, LARIMER COUNTY, COLORADO: These people are actors. Not only have they appeared in several reality television shows and on YouTube, but we have since determined that, in fact, they met together -- the way that they met and established a relationship was in acting school in Hollywood.

SIMON: And the motive, according to the sheriff, was so the Heenes could better market themselves for a reality TV show. The alleged plot, to pretend that 6-year-old Falcon was inside that runaway balloon, he said, was hatched two weeks ago.

What made authorities believe it in the first place?

ALDERDEN: They granted us complete access to their children to interview independently. After Falcon was found, they didn't even hesitate to allow us to talk to him outside of their presence. SIMON: But Falcon, investigators believe, spoke the truth during the family's live appearance on CNN's "LARRY KING LIVE," only hours after the drama unfolded. The widely played interview played to be the turning point.

RICHARD HEENE, FALCON'S FATHER: Did you hear us calling your name at any time?




RICHARD HEENE: Why didn't you come out?

FALCON HEENE: Um, you said that we did this for a show.

ALDERDEN: If you look at the nonverbal responses as well as some of the verbal cues, it became very clear to us at that point that they were lying.

SIMON: Still, even after authorities became skeptical, they publicly backed the family, admitting now to misleading the media so the Heenes would trust them.

The couple could face multiple charges, including three felonies -- conspiracy between the husband and the wife to commit a crime, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and an attempt to influence a public servant.

Their attorney says they should be presumed innocent.

DAVID A. LANE, ATTORNEY FOR RICHARD AND MAYUMI HEENE: When you're willing to turn yourself in and you've made that known to law enforcement, that should be good enough for law enforcement. I said, call me, you know my number. I will have them down at the sheriff's department within five minutes.


SIMON: So, where was 6-year-old Falcon during those tense five hours? Remember, his parents said he was in the garage, he was in the attic. But now the sheriff says that may be a lie as well, that he could have been just a couple blocks away at the park on the swing - Kiran.

CHETRY: Yes, right, the plot thickens. We'll find out whether or not any charges are filed today. Thanks so much, Dan.

And the story gets deeper this morning. More now in an "A.M. Extra." Police are now talking to Richard Heene's former research assistant, Robert Thomas. In a paid interview with the Web site, Thomas said Heene had been cooking up a publicity stunt in the hope of landing his own reality TV show.

Don Lemon asked Gawker's editor in chief, Gabriel Snyder, about those claims.


GABRIEL SNYDER, GAWKER.COM, (via telephone): One of the episodes that they had proposed was conducting a huge national media hoax using a weather balloon that was going to look like a UFO. Now, this reality -- this particular proposal didn't actually go anywhere, and Robert -- this all happened back in May, and Robert had actually stopped working with the Heenes.


CHETRY: All right, well, Thomas told the Web site the original proposal did not involve Heene's kids.

Coming up in less than ten minutes, we're going to take a look at the case that authorities are building against Richard Heene and his wife. We will talk to Paul Callan, defense attorney as well as former prosecutor, and also Jeff Gardere, clinical psychologist.

ROBERTS: It's seven minutes now after the hour.

In other stories new this morning that we're following for you, the Justice Department set to issue new guidelines on medical marijuana today. Federal prosecutors will be told it's not a good use of their time to arrest people who use or provide the drug in compliance with state laws. That's a significant change from Bush administration policy.

Medical marijuana use is allowed in 14 states.

CHETRY: Autopsies are expected today on three runners who died during the Detroit marathon yesterday. They were all running the half marathon. One of them was just 26 years old, another 36. They all collapsed within 16 minutes of each other.

ROBERTS: The Louisiana justice of the peace who refused to marry an interracial couple says he has no plans to resign. Louisiana's governor and Senator Mary Landrieu are two of the many leaders who have called on Keith Bardwell to step down. Bardwell says he has no regrets and would make the same decision again.


KEITH BARDWELL, JUSTICE OF THE PEACE: Everybody hates me. I mean, really. And I don't know why. I treat people, you know, I figure equal, good.

I have one problem with marrying mixed-race marriages, and that is the offspring.

BETH MCKAY, DENIED MARRIAGE LICENSE: It's overt racism. And we are used to the closet racism, but we're not going to tolerate the overt racism from an elected official.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROBERTS: Pretty strange that he would refuse to do that.

CHETRY: Yes, and he's sort of not backing down and saying how can I apologize for something that I believe is true, that I really feel in my heart?

So, obviously, this has been quite a ride for Beth and Terence McKay, who just wanted to get married. We'll be talking to them a little bit later in the show.

ROBERTS: All right, so stick around for that.

Coming up at 8:30 eastern here on the most news in the morning, the balloon hoax -- was it a hoax? That's what the Larimer County sheriff says.

Of course, talking to the attorney for the Heenes, he says no, it's not a hoax at all. But potentially, criminal charges could be filed here. What kind of legal jeopardy could the Heenes be in? We'll find out about that next.

And also, an interesting family dynamic there. How does a professional view it? Nine minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

Well, now they have lawyered up. The parents of the now infamous runaway balloon ordeal could face criminal charges this morning for putting on what authorities are calling "a very good show."

Now instead of reality TV, they could be facing prison time or a hefty fine.

Joining us now is Dr. Jeff Gardere, he's clinical psychologist, and Paul Callan, a defense attorney and former prosecutor. Good morning, gentlemen.



ROBERTS: So in America, you have the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. And acknowledging that, Jeff, what do you think is going on here with this family? Are they just simply fame-seekers, or something more pathological?

GARDERE: I think there may be something pathological going on with this particular family. Look, the bottom line is that this family seems to be driven, led by the father, to do anything to get fame, even if it means putting the mental health of their children at risk. And that, to me, is very, very -- a very bad sign.

ROBERTS: On the criminal side of things, Paul, how much trouble could they potentially be in here? The sheriff is talking about either misdemeanor or potentially even felony charges here.

CALLAN: Well, you know, it's interesting, John, because you know, the sheriff is really trumping this up into a major felony case, but if you look back on the history of hoaxes and publicity stunts, very rarely are people prosecuted for this. I mean, P.T. Barnum would have spent his entire career in prison, OK?

So, when the heat, when the publicity and the media moves away, I think what you're probably going to be left with is a misdemeanor charge here, filing a false police report.

Now, they did one thing that's very, very dangerous, though, that you're not supposed to do in a publicity stunt. They endangered public welfare. Denver International Airport was closed down. And they also wasted taxpayer money, $14,000 in helicopter fees.

So, they may have crossed the line here into a conspiracy that creates felony charges.

ROBERTS: Do you think that the prosecutor will be looking for a pound of flesh here in some way, shape, or form, even if it's maybe restitution monetarily?

CALLAN: Oh, he's definitely looking for restitution, he's definitely going to be looking for a pound of flesh. But I think in the end, he's got to look at the case and say can I prove a felony? Can I prove this conspired? Conspired to do what? To steal money, to defraud the public?

When you get down to the specifics of it, it's hard to make a felony out of this fact pattern.

ROBERTS: Jeff, we look at the dynamic of the family, of course, the two major players are Richard Mayumi Heene, you look at Mayumi and you wonder, is she a willing participant in all of this? Was she really willing sitting there on Friday morning when Falcon was throwing up on TV saying, yes, let's go ahead with this? Or is she just sitting back saying I need to do whatever I need to do?

GARDERE: We're hearing reports that there may have been issues of domestic violence in this particular home, that, yes, there may have been issues with flashes of anger that the dad has had.

Someone reviewed some show he had been on, some reality show -- I guess "Wife Swap" -- and they talked about that he has some issues with anger.

So, it leads us to believe that there might be the possibility that there is some fear that has been instilled in this family, again, the father being the driver here.

ROBERTS: You know, when you look at the video of the balloon taking off, he does seem to be a little worked up, kicking things around.

GARDERE: Yes, he looks very worked up. And I think with the kids, the thing I would look at, from a standpoint of charges -- is it endangering these kids to involve them in a crime? I mean, did he sit down with the kids and say "Lie to the police about this"?

And if you involve your kids in the commission of a crime, is that a form of child abuse? Now, I think Child Protective Services in Colorado will be looking at that.

GARDERE: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely they'll be looking at this. And then when we look at this issue that he's a storm chaser, that he may have been bringing kids into these very dangerous situations, they sleep with their clothes on so they can get up and chase a storm. And if, in fact, he had these children lie, what are you doing to the character of your children? And this is -- this is, again, this issue. Remember, domestic violence, it's not just about physical violence, but it's about the intimidation in the family, and there are some fears of that.

CALLAN: But then, you know, you get back to this question of -- I was looking up the ten biggest hoaxes of all time, and when I looked them up to see who wound up in jail...

ROBERTS: Nobody.

CALLAN: ... there was really only one I came up with.

ROBERTS: Really?

CALLAN: Clifford Irving in the Howard Hughes case. Remember that, he wrote a false biography?


CALLAN: He went to jail for that hoax. Most people don't go to jail for hoaxes, so we'll have to see how this works out in the long term.

ROBERTS: From a defense attorney standpoint, I know you're a very shrewd attorney. You've had prosecuted and/or defended a lot of fairly big cases.

CALLAN: Thanks for the plug, John.

ROBERTS: The fact that -- telephone number...


ROBERTS: If you were a defense attorney in this case, looking at the police conduct in this, the fact that the police misled the media, how would you try to work that to your advantage?

CALLAN: Oh, he's got some real issues he can raise. First of all, the police lure the family in and apparently interrogate them without giving Miranda warnings. And I think maybe whatever they said in that polygraph test, there will be an argument that that should be thrown out. They were suspects when they were interrogated. And also, I don't know how a lot of this material was seized from the House. Was it done with permission? There are a lot of issues that a good defense attorney can raise. But I say this to their current defense attorney -- be careful about giving press conferences before your client has been arrested, because frankly, you don't know how this is going to play out, and I think a lot of people in the press, like you, John, were asking, what did your clients have to say about this?


CALLAN: And that's the one thing that could incriminate his clients. So, I'd be very careful about press conferences.

GARDERE: The other thing is why would they take that polygraph, Paul? Why would they do that?

CALLAN: Well, obviously, it was foolish, and maybe it's in your field...

GARDERE: Part of a character disorder.


GARDERE: That's what we may be looking at here.

CALLAN: Well, I think, you know -- I think with somebody who is sort of a pathological liar, they're convinced that they're even going to convince the police and I suspect they could fool the machine.

GARDERE: Pass the polygraph.

CALLAN: Yes, you know.

ROBERTS: Jeff Gardere, Paul Callan, always great to see you.

CALLAN: OK, great.

CALLAN: Thank you.


CHETRY: All right. Still ahead, we're having Stephanie Elam. She's "Minding Your Business" this morning, breaking down health care costs for us. And before we go, we've sometimes joked around, what's under the desk?

Well, today a better statement (ph) would be what's on the desk. John has been struggling with a little cough. This is -- John, come on over. We've laid out a nice little get-well kit for you right here on the desk. We have our Mucinex D, so he can stop coughing. Poor thing.

ROBERTS: Does that mean I can actually cough on camera now?

CHETRY: Some tea with honey. And we actually took some of the H1N1 precautions off the bathroom wall and just put it up there.


CHETRY: Because, you know, you never know.

ROBERTS: Very good, thank you. I don't think I have the swine flu. No indication of a snout growing on my face.

CHETRY: All right. Thank goodness.

ROBERTS: I certainly have not been feeling the best in the last -- thank you so much for all of this.

CHETRY: You're welcome. We look out for our own.

ROBERTS: Right. So when you do say hi, it's good to see you, maybe...

CHETRY: I do mean it.

ROBERTS: You do mean it.

CHETRY: Half the time, I do.

Stephanie Elam up next.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Twenty- two minutes past the hour. And Stephanie Elam is here "Minding Your Business" this morning.

I don't know you may have gotten this in the mail. Some of us have gotten it in the mail, and what it is basically a breakdown of how your insurance plan may be changing for the year. And a lot of people are concerned about higher health care costs.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And I think a lot of people are saying, you know, they call it open enrollment season?

CHETRY: Right.

ELAM: I think they're just calling it open season, because there's so much pain out there that we're going to be feeling across this entire series. Some companies are coming to the end of their open enrollment season, some people still in the middle of it.

Well, here's the thing -- the basic thing you need to know is that you're going to be paying for more stuff on your own. That's the basic thing you need to know. Let's take a look at some of the things that we're going to see here.

Higher contributions, higher deductibles, higher out-of-pocket costs. Obviously, employers can generally handle these costs better in good economic times. As you may have realized, not really good economic times right now, so this year you're going to see more of that pay coming out of your check going to pay for your health care.

CHETRY: And now, I know you're not a benefits coordinator or anything, but can I ask you when you explain to people when co-pay becomes co-insurance, what does that usually mean?

ELAM: I'm getting there. I'm getting there. I'm getting there. I was trying to go in a nice orderly fashion.

But, yes, I know -- so you've got the idea of co-pay versus co- insurance, and the reason we care about that, co-pay is you go to the doctor, you pay your $20, $25 co-pay. The difference is co-insurance is a percentage of the overall cost for whatever health issue you're tending to. So, you're paying a percentage of that.

They say generally, it breaks down to 80 to 20 percent or 70 to 30 percent, where the health insurance plan pays 70 percent and the person, the insured one, pays the 30 percent. That is the kind of idea there.

Also, you're going to see less options. That means companies are downsizing their HMO offerings. There's an uptick in regional offerings as well as less plans offered. Also, you've got to take a look at your dependent coverage because a lot of companies are looking to see, hey, is your husband working someplace else at a big company and he can get insurance there? Then they'll charge you for having both on the same health insurance plan.


ELAM: Yes.

CHETRY: And what about these incentives to stay healthy?

ELAM: Yes, that's a big one too. Like if you join a plan to lose weight, you join a plan to go ahead and stop smoking, you can get incentives for that. Maybe smaller premiums, or even you could see gift cards for different things just to get people out there. Because obviously, a healthy employee, John, is a cheaper employee. And I brought this just in case you wanted to cough again.

CHETRY: He's all right. I think he's on the mend.

ELAM: He is on the mend.

He's smiling, so he's definitely on the mend.

ROBERTS: It's loosening up.

ELAM: Yum.

CHETRY: Things are moving around a little.

ELAM: That's a lovely image of what's going on in his lungs right now.

CHETRY: Cheers. We all have tea out here. Thanks, Stephanie. ROBERTS: There you are.

Carol Costello opens up a new series today looking at talk radio in America and how do the talk show hosts on both sides of the fence get their viewers or their listeners hooked. She'll share with us coming up.

It's 24 minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Who doesn't like to vent? Who doesn't want to be heard? From Rush Limbaugh to Randy Rhodes, talk radio has got power in America.

CHETRY: Yes. Carol Costello joins us from Washington, the first in a special series on talk radio. So, Carol, first of all, let's talk about exactly who is listening and why they can capture people for such long periods of time.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a fascinating topic. We hear it all the time. Talk radio, especially conservative talk, is so powerful, some say it's made our country viciously partisan. Some also say it's become so influential, it can actually determine who we elect to public office.

Over the next three days, our goal is to examine if that's really true. Today, a look at who's listening to talk radio and why.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, back to Bob Durgin on WHP-580 (ph).

COSTELLO (voice-over): It's 3:00 Wednesday afternoon, and Ira Wagler, a self-described libertarian, is finishing up his workday with WHP's conservative talker Bob Durgin. What do you like about him?

IRA WAGLER, LANCASTER COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA: Oh, Bob is a fireball. I really like him. He gets thing stirred up locally.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Boring everybody. Nobody cares.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't understand. Sorry to bust your bubble here, OK? I don't understand it. Nobody understands it except you...

WAGLER: He loves to go off in tangents. I love to listen to him. I agree with, you know, most, not everything he says.

COSTELLO: By the time Durgin's show hits the airwaves, Wagler has already been listening to WHP's all-conservative lineup for more than eight hours. "R.J. Harris in the Morning."

R.J. HARRIS, TALK SHOW RADIO HOST: That's what America is about.

COSTELLO: Then Glenn Beck. GLENN BECK, HOST, "THE GLENN BECK RADIO PROGRAM": America has made a difference.

COSTELLO: Rush Limbaugh.


COSTELLO: Bob Durgin.

BOB DURGIN, WHP RADIO CONSERVATIVE TALK HOST: They're all liberal to begin with.

COSTELLO: And Michael Savage.

MICHAEL SAVAGE, RADIO HOST, "THE SAVAGE NATION": Go whine in the streets and leave me alone.

COSTELLO: It's the kind of intense loyalty conservative talk radio attracts far more than liberal talk. Ten of the top 11 radio talk shows are conservative. The king? Rush Limbaugh with 15 million listeners.

LIMBAUGH: It's all fake with the Obama crowd. Nothing is real. It is all a lie.

COSTELLO: Psychiatrist Gail Saltz says Limbaugh's style appeals to those who feel they have no voice.

DR. GAIL SALTZ, PSYCHIATRIST: He's essentially kind of operating like the bully. And if you're on the playground, do you want to be the bully's, you know, under the bully's wing and go along with him and get, therefore, some power by proxy, too? Or do you want to be like left out alone on the playground where you know, who knows who's going to take you out?

COSTELLO: Saltz says conservative talkers are more popular than liberal talkers because they attract the kind of person who likes strong, aggressive messages.


COSTELLO: WHP's Bob Durgin.

DURGIN: The average conservative is an A personality. The average liberal is a B personality. And B personalities generally are more compassionate, more low key, more va, va, va, va, va...

COSTELLO (on camera): You're making those things sound bad. What's wrong with compassion?

DURGIN: That's -- nothing's wrong -- I'm compassionate. I'm just saying that that's what their priorities are and they're boring. They're just frankly boring. And I think that's why they're failing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, it's Friday! COSTELLO (voice-over): Randi Rhodes, who many consider a liberal talker says bull. She says liberals may have more empathy than conservatives, but the reason they don't passionately listen to liberal talk radio is access.

RANDI RHODES, SYNDICATED INDEPENDENT RADIO HOST: Ninety-one percent of talk radio is conservative.

COSTELLO: According to "Talkers" magazine, liberal talkers fill just nine percent of the nation's news talk radio on the commercial dial. Change that, Rhodes says, and liberal listeners would listen just as much.

RHODES: You've got to realize that people are listening for two reasons. One, they have no choice and they just love talk radio, like me. I just love it. And the other thing is they love to be angry.

COSTELLO: That angry part is something Ira Wagler can relate to.

IRA WAGLER: I trust no politician in this world, and that includes Republican and Democrat. I know what I believe. You show me where I'm wrong, I'll consider it.


COSTELLO: Since many say more people listen to conservative talk radio, a little bit more about those listeners. They are mostly conservative, better educated and more affluent than the typical listener and they are engaged politically.

According to "Talkers" magazine, 74 percent vote. In light of that, does that make talk radio powerful politically? We're going to examine that issue tomorrow, John and Kiran.

ROBERTS: You know, Carol, you talk about this issue of access - 91 percent of the airwaves being taken up by conservative talk radio, nine percent liberal, but are liberal listeners as loyal as conservative listeners are?

COSTELLO: Well, it depends on what you consider a liberal talk show or something that leans more liberal in what you listen to. Let's say, of course, conservative talkers compromise most of the A.M. radio dial, but F.M. radio doesn't. Some people consider NPR liberal. NPR gets 20 million listeners. That's more than Rush Limbaugh. So, it's all in how you look at. We're going to examine this issue much more tomorrow and Wednesday.

ROBERTS: All right. Looking forward to it, Carol. Great story. And what do you think about the tactics being used to keep you listening? Now it's your turn to sound off. Comment on Carol's talk radio story on

CHETRY: There you go. Thirty-two minutes past the hour right now.

And checking our top stories, Hurricane Rick weakening now in the Pacific. Forecasters, though, say it is still a dangerous category 3 storm and could threaten resorts at the tip of the Baja, California, Peninsula. The National Hurricane Center issuing a hurricane watch in that area.

ROBERTS: It turns out, the lunar crater crash kicked up a mile- high cloud of moon dust after all. NASA is releasing its first images taken after a rocket smashed into the moon in search of hidden ice. Scientists say that they have been blown away by the data returned from the $79 million mission. No word yet, though, on whether they found water on the moon.

CHETRY: The Justice Department set to issue new guidelines on medical marijuana today. Federal prosecutors will be told it's not a good use of their time to arrest people who use or provide the drug in compliance with state laws. That would be a significant change from Bush administration policy. Medical marijuana use is allowed in 14 states.

And health officials getting ready for what could be a brutal flu season. Seasonal flu combining with swine flu for a one-two punch, and that could really stress emergency rooms across the country. Right now there is also a shortage of H1N1 vaccine. The CDC is saying that these deliveries are behind schedule.

Dr. Christina Johns is an ER specialist at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and she joins us now this morning from our bureau with more on what's going on. Christina, thanks so much for being with us.


CHETRY: First of all, the one thing that's troubling that we're talking about is they said that 40 million doses of the vaccine were expected to be out by October. They say they're running about 25 percent behind. But after that initial 40 million doses, they were supposed to have 10 million to 20 million per week after that, and the CDC is saying they're falling a little bit behind. What are the implications of that?

JOHNS: Well, I think that that's going to mean that we are right where we are now, and that is, are we seeing an up tick in emergency department visits? You bet. I am busy as a bee when I'm at work, that's for sure. But does it mean that more people are going to be sicker or that somehow this is going to turn more deadly? I don't think so. We're really just going to be where we are, where people are, indeed, getting sick just like they do every year.

CHETRY: Right, but when we're talking about the swine flu, I mean, I guess you could say, if they had these vaccines ready, the 40 million doses, and they were going out, this would prevent those people from getting the flu down the road.

JOHNS: Well, hopefully so, for sure. That's the plan, that if we can get more people vaccinated, that means that we will have less people sick. But I want to caution and say that it doesn't mean that if you - I'm seeing people at work every single day who have flu, who have H1N1 who are doing fine and getting better. So, I think that that's just a really important message to get across.

CHETRY: It is, you know, because as a parent, it's terrifying to hear 43 children just since August. So, it's only a month that they've been doing this. 43 children under the age of 18 have died from swine flu. Do we know more? And I guess it's in the 80s for now since last fall, since they first discovered it. Is there anything that dictates what makes your child so sick or perhaps makes swine flu fatal in some cases?

JOHNS: Well, that's a great question, and as a mother of two children under five, you bet I'm thinking about it. The one thing that I can say for sure is that if your child is someone who has chronic illnesses, has lung problems like asthma, heart problems, those children are indeed more at risk, and those are the first kids who need the vaccine right away.

CHETRY: OK. So let me stop you right there. Because I want to ask you about that.

JOHNS: Sure.

CHETRY: I do have a child who has asthma, and her pediatrician has been told they're not getting this swine flu any time soon, and they're actually out of seasonal flu vaccine as well. We did get ours, but it seems as though this year - and you know, this is antidotal - again, though, we called four or five different area places that usually offer seasonal flu vaccine and they're out of it, and they haven't even gotten the swine flu vaccine.

JOHNS: Right. Everybody is paying attention this year and I think people are on the stick in terms of getting their seasonal flu vaccines early. People are aware of it and really paying attention. So, what I would say to parents out there who have kids with asthma is, look, you've got to be really vigilant.

You've got to be careful when your child gets sick, they need to be looked at right away if they've got any signs of significant respiratory distress. You've got to make sure that you have your asthma medicines, for example, at home, prescriptions filled and ready to go so that right at the first vat, when they're getting sick straight away that you can start in with your interventions.

CHETRY: Right. And you also mentioned having medicines ready at home. One thing that people were talking about was Tamiflu, right? That's a medicine people take to lessen or reduce the severity of the flu once they have it.

JOHNS: That's right.

CHETRY: Is that something people should get a prescription for just to have around the house or does that need to be saved for high- risk groups of people?

JOHNS: At this point, we want to save that for high-risk groups of people. And so, if you start to get symptoms of the flu and you're getting concerned, either that your child is getting dehydrated or that their respiratory distress -they're breathing faster than they really should, so much so that it's preventing them from drinking.

And again, hydration is my big thing. That's when you really want to get on the phone, talk with your pediatrician, have a real good partnership and good communication here so that you can stay connected throughout this flu season, and the minute that you and your physician believe that you or your child needs the Tamiflu and those types of medicines, that you can get it.

CHETRY: All right. Dr. Christina Johns, emergency room specialist. Thanks so much for talking with us this morning.

JOHNS: Thank you.

CHETRY: Now, the H1N1 vaccine was supposed to be, as we said, widely available by now. That is not the case. In the next hour, senior CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is going to be going out in search of the swine flu shots to find out who does have the doses and when the rest of the country may start seeing them.

ROBERTS: The situation in Afghanistan continues to be difficult, and when it comes to the Afghan government, will there be a runoff election? We're expected to hear from the Electoral Complaints Commission today. And what about the 40,000 troops that General Stanley McChrystal says he needs to fight the war there? We'll run those questions by Senator John Kerry, just ahead.

Stay with us. It's 39 minutes after the hour.



ROBERTS: Good morning, Washington, where it's sunny and 41 degrees, and it's going to be a nice day today. It's going to stay sunny, but it is going to be chilly with a high of just 59.

Welcome back to the most news in the morning. What could be a critical week for health care reform. A compromise bill being written by three democratic senators could be completed in the next few days.

CHETRY: And they're working behind closed doors, leaving Republicans wondering why the process is suddenly so private. Jim Acosta's live in Washington. So, when do these talks get going again, Jim?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they should get going later today, Kiran and John. Good morning. That's right, Senate Democratic leaders and White House officials are expected to be back behind closed doors putting together that compromise bill on health care reform, but that process has raised a key question - why is the debate over the public option not open to the public?



ACOSTA (voice-over): It was an Obama campaign promise, the crafting of health care reform would be out in the open.

OBAMA: This whole thing is going to be televised on C-SPAN. Everybody's going to be watching.

ACOSTA: But now that the major reform bills have cleared committees, they're being merged in private by congressional leaders and White House advisers. Republicans ask where's C-SPAN?

SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: The bill that's being written right now is being written in Harry Reid's office, behind closed doors with Chris and Max Baucus and the leader and others. No Republicans need apply to come into that room.

RAHM EMANUEL, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The entire health care process has been fully public and...

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is the most important part.

EMANUEL: Yes. And everybody's is going to continue to be involved.

ACOSTA: The process also worries Democrats, who fear the White House will cave on a government insurance public option before any votes are cast. Some in the party vow they won't back down.

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (D), PENNSYLVANIA: I'm not prepared to recede at all. I think the public option is gaining momentum.

ACOSTA: Administration officials say the president is open to compromise on the public option.

VALERIE JARRETT, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Push for it, certainly, but he's also realistic to say we've got to look at all options. He has said very clearly he thinks it's the best option, and we'll see what happens.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So he's not demanding it's in there?

JARRETT: He's not demanding that it's in there. He thinks it's the best possible choice.

ACOSTA: But that willingness to cut a deal has irked some liberals, who want the president to get tough. It's an undercurrent picked up by presidential history Douglas Brinkley, who told "National Journal" magazine, "Mr. Obama has created an atmosphere of no fear. Nobody is really worried about the revenge of Barack Obama because he is not a vengeful man."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You make him angry, he turns, he turns into the rock Obama! ACOSTA: Even "Saturday Night Live" joked about whether the president can get tough with Congress.

DAVID AXELROD, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR POLITICAL ADVISER: I think people want toughness, but they also want to have thoughtful leadership, and that requires reviewing these issues, thinking them through clearly and bringing people along, and that's what he's doing.


ACOSTA: Now, the sign the GOP has latched onto this issue? Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is using her Facebook page to call out the president for not putting the current health care talks on C- SPAN.

John and Kiran, she can see a whole new issue from her house.

CHETRY: There you go. Jim Acosta for us this morning. Thanks.

Well, still ahead, there's some new questions this morning about the legitimacy of Afghanistan's presidential election. We're going to be hearing from Senator John Kerry who is in the region today, looking into all of it.

It's 45 minutes past the hour.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. There are new questions this morning about the legitimacy in Afghanistan's presidential election, and an early (INAUDIBLE) report due out today from the country's Electoral Complaints Commission suggests that President Hamid Karzai did not get the 50 percent of points needed to avoid a runoff.

ROBERTS: But a separate commission responsible for certifying the election may reject those findings. Massachusetts Senator John Kerry spent the past few days in Afghanistan. I spoke to him earlier this morning in Pakistan and asked if the Obama administration needs to pressure Karzai to accept the need for a runoff.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I think what needs to happen here is that the president of the country needs to make a decision about where his country needs to go and what his legitimate beliefs are about the election process.

You know, there are a lot of considerations. I don't think - I'm not sure that all of them are yet on the table, if you will. I have not seen the report yet by the ECC. I'm in Pakistan right now, but let's say that's the judgment, under their constitution, there is a separate entity, the Independent Election Commission, that certifies on this initial finding.

So they certainly have a right to take a look at the initial finding and make a judgment about it and we'll see where that goes.

ROBERTS: But if the judgment is that Karzai did not get 50 percent of the vote, do you believe there needs to be a runoff election in Afghanistan to try to at least stabilize the government there, make it appear that it's a fair process?

KERRY: I think you need to have a process that is accepted by the people as constitutional, and clearly there has to be a legitimacy to whatever the outcome is. Obviously, if one entity has suggested that a runoff is necessary, the president's going to have to have very powerful reasons that are acceptable to everybody as to why, indeed, that isn't the case.

In my judgment, the most important thing here is legitimacy as we go forward. President Karzai needs to have legitimacy in his country, with his own people, and obviously, with the global community.

ROBERTS: Now, in terms of an increase in American forces in Afghanistan, the sort of increase that - that General Stanley McChrystal is looking for, do you believe that an increase in troops hinges on the legitimacy of the Afghanistan government or - or should it be seen separately, that if General McChrystal needs those troops, even if the Afghanistan government is not in place, he should get those troops?

KERRY: I think General - I met with General McChrystal the other day and we had a good conversation about this topic. And General McChrystal and - and his - and the other generals involved in this would all tell you - I met with General Petraeus this morning - that governance, a good government is a critical component of any counterinsurgency effort. And, in addition to that, development is a critical component.

They always refer to it as a three-legged stool. I have no question whatsoever about the ability of our military to do their part of the job, but there is an enormous question right now about the governance of the country and, therefore, the ability to be able to do the development necessary.

Yesterday, I was in Helmand Province down in the south where our United States Marines are. They're doing an extraordinary job. But when I met with the - the leaders, the tribal leaders, some 270 of them, there - they stood up and said, we're happy with the military, we're happy with the police, we're happy with the governor, but we need water.


KERRY: We need the basic services. And so the civilian component of counterinsurgency has always been the - the real way in which you ultimately win the - win the hearts and mind of people. So for any successful effort for General McChrystal, he's going to need a government to work with.

ROBERTS: But would you rule out a troop increase until there is a stable, legitimate, and functioning government in Afghanistan? Because General McChrystal, as you know, has said that he believes that this whole thing could be lost inside of a year if there's not dramatic improvement on the ground - dramatic improvement, he believe, needs the presence of more American troops.

KERRY: That's correct. But he says that within the context of his ability to affect legitimate counterinsurgency. And he will tell you that that requires a government that has the ability to deliver.

He knows he can clear a community. I know that. I have complete confidence in those troops to do their job. But if you don't have a legitimate government to work with and you can't do development, then you ultimately wind up losing the gains that those troops have made.

ROBERTS: So - so, again ...

KERRY: So I think it is critical. I said this on Sunday, and I say again, I believe that before the president commits additional troops, we need to know that we are proceeding forward in Afghanistan with a government in a constructive way that offers us the best hope of success. As of this moment in time, we don't have that, and we need it.

ROBERTS: Senator John Kerry in Islamabad, Pakistan this morning. Senator, thanks very much for taking time away from your busy schedule. We appreciate it.

KERRY: Thank you. Appreciate it.


ROBERTS: So from Senator Kerry to Washington, we're going to be talking to John Podesta and Ed Rollins about all of this, as well as health care, and what about those big bonuses for Wall Street?

CHETRY: Yes. There's a lot of outrage being professed, but can anything actually be done about it in Washington? Or do they want to do anything about it?

We'll ask them.

Also ahead, the swine flu vaccine, as we talked about, they were supposed to roll out I think 40 million doses by the end of October. A lot of the companies that are making them are saying it's just harder than they thought it was going to be, so they are millions of doses behind, and now people are asking when are we going to get swine flu vaccine in our area?

Fifty-five minutes after the hour.


CHETRY: Right now it's two minutes till the top of the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

You know, tucked into Morehouse College's Appropriate Attire Policy, which is new, is a ban on cross dressing. Students at the all-male, historically black college may not wear women's clothing or makeup or accessories. This new dress code also bans hats and shades, indoors pajamas and bare feet in public, as well as "do-rags" and sagging pants.

Now, students' reactions have been mixed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you sign on to be a student at Morehouse, there are certain things that are expected, and we expect you to attire yourself in a professional manner to represent yourself and then the university in a very positive manner.

DAVAUGN WATSON, STUDENT: There are some parts of the policy that I feel infringed on the students' freedom to expression (ph). Now, if you're at you're leisure, for someone to tell you how you can be comfortable in your leisure is kind of stifling your freedom of expression.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just as I'm disappointed and I know some of my other brothers are disappointed with what we see on a daily basis, I know some of our great alumni - past alumni would - would definitely be disappointed as well.


CHETRY: All right. Well, a Morehouse spokesman said that he met with the campus's gay organization before the school released the new policy.

ROBERTS: They ban men from wearing women's clothes?


ROBERT: At college (ph)?

CHETRY: Apparently, they say it stems from - from about a half dozen kids who were dressed in ladies' attire.


CHETRY: There you go.

ROBERTS: That's good to know.