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Interview With White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs; Iran on the Brink?

Aired November 4, 2009 - 20:00   ET



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

Can the White House explain away a beating at the polls?

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I would have liked to have seen a different outcome. This wasn't a referendum. We have made great strides, dramatic strides.

BROWN: But will that be enough to reassure anxious Democrats?

Also, is Iran on the verge of another uprising? Protesters clash with police today, chanting, "Death to the dictator." Thirty years after Americans were taken hostage, the Islamic Republic finds itself under threat.

Plus, tonight's breakout: the Obama you don't know. The president's half-brother tells all about the father they shared and the horror stories of his abuse.

MARK NDESANDJO, HALF-BROTHER OF PRESIDENT OBAMA: My father beats me. He beat my mother. You just do not do that.

BROWN: And tonight's intriguing person: Joel Osteen.

JOEL OSTEEN, TELEVANGELIST: I'm an eternal optimist. And I'm a big believer in loyal and supporting our president. So, I like President Obama.


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

BROWN: Hey there, everybody.

We're going to start tonight as always with the "Mash-Up." It's our look at the stories making an impact right now, the moments you may have missed. We're watching it all, so you don't have to.

And our top story tonight, the race to milk meaning out of this year's election. The window of opportunity is short. The stakes are high. And, today, the party chairmen were all over TV. Here's the view right now from the right and the view from the left. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL STEELE, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Last night was a great night for the Republican Party.

GOV. TIM KAINE (D-VA), CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: You just need to read these as local races.

STEELE: It's the party that's really found its voice again.

KAINE: Strong majorities of citizens said their vote was based on local issues.

STEELE: It moved beyond the past losses and no message.

KAINE: Five years ago, Republicans winning a statewide race in Virginia wouldn't have even been newsworthy.

STEELE: I think it's a bellwether for the party.

KAINE: They viewed these races as local races.

STEELE: Assume the Heisman position. Yes, baby.



BROWN: So, why does the spin even matter? Because Democrats can't afford to look discouraged. They need the contributions to keep flowing. They need the crowds to keep coming. They need anxious lawmakers to buck up and get behind the president.

As for Republicans, they finally got some momentum going, and they can't afford to lose it. We're going to have a whole lot more on the election tonight with our newsmaker, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, coming up in just a moment.

The political burden on the White House could get a lot worse come Friday, new jobs numbers coming out, and they could be dismal. On Capitol Hill today, the Senate extended unemployment benefits for at least another 14 weeks.

Meanwhile, the House clamped down on those credit card companies jacking up rates right before new reforms take effect next year.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A bill to amend the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 to establish an earlier effective date for various consumer protections.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When the president signed the Credit Card Act into law, some companies tried to beat the clock by imposing predatory finance charges on consumers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We warned about unintended consequences five months ago. Those warnings weren't heeded.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Interest rates have climbed 18 percent, in some cases, 30 percent, for absolutely no reason.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I guess they will charge you for doing nothing at all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, I hate to say I told you so, but we told you so.

REP. BARNEY FRANK (D-MA), FINANCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: It's the single unfairest economic transaction I can think of that doesn't involve a pistol.


BROWN: The bill passed by a wide margin. No surprise there. It is now on its way to the Senate.

On to Cleveland, where, tonight -- this is a gruesome story -- police are ready to rip through the walls of a house of horrors. This is where the remains of 11 women have already been found. The man who lived in the House was in court today, Anthony Sowell, a convicted sex offender. He's now charged with five counts of aggravated murder.

Relatives of some of the murdered women say police didn't do enough to help and find them. One woman spoke to the "CBS Early Show."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your mom was in some trouble. She was having -- she was battling a drug addiction. Is it possible that people just didn't care about people like your mother?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it is very much possible. And, in fact, I think that is exactly the case in not just my mother being missing, but all of the women that went missing from this area. I believe he preyed on them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I went to the police to try to report her missing, 4th District wouldn't take the report. They belittled it. They made jokes. "Oh, go home. She will show up by Christmas after the drugs are all gone."

I had to go back up and demand to see the officer in charge. That's the only way I got her reported missing.


BROWN: Tonia Carmichael's body has been identified as one of the victims, her family notified this afternoon.

Turning to a new window on Havana and the strange family life of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. His sister Juanita claims she collaborated with the CIA for years. She made a very rare television appearance with CNN's Rick Sanchez. Take a look.


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: While you were still in Cuba and your brother was beginning a Marxist revolution, you were not only cooperating with the CIA, but you were protecting CIA agents who were inside Cuba at the time.

What did your brother say about this? Did he know? And how did he treat you? (SPEAKING SPANISH)

Didn't he protest?


SANCHEZ: He didn't know? Your brother did not know?

CASTRO: He didn't know.

SANCHEZ: He didn't know?

CASTRO: No. No, no, no.

SANCHEZ: Did you know in the early 1960s that the CIA wanted to kill your brother? They never said to you, we want your help in taking out your brother?

No. You would never be willing to do that against your brothers or against any other human being?


BROWN: Juanita Castro left Cuba in 1964 and has not spoken to her brothers since.

President Obama in Wisconsin today not trying to spin last night's election defeat, sticking, instead, to a much safer topic, education reform, saying it's not all about teachers and parents. Students have to play a role in this as well.

And his own daughter Malia is certainly one of them. Listen to this.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, Malia came home the other day. She -- she had gotten a 73 on her science test.

Now, there was a time a couple of years ago when she came home with like an 80-something, and she said, "I did pretty well."

And I said, "No, no, no, that's" -- I said, "Our goal is -- our to goal is 90 percent and up."

So, she came home yesterday. She was -- got a 95.

She said, "You know, I just like having knowledge."

She had started wanting it more than us. But the only way they get to that point is if we are helping them get to that point.

Don't just expect teachers to set a high bar. You have got to set a high bar in the household all across America.



BROWN: President dangling more than $4 billion in stimulus cash to recruit better, more qualified teachers.

Speaking of family values, we turn now to an ugly custody battle with an unusual cast of characters, a movie star, a TV star and a porn star. Sounds like a joke, right?

Well, not so much. Sandra Bullock's husband, "Monster Garage" host Jesse James, is fighting his ex-wife, porn diva Janine Lindemulder, for custody of their daughter, Sunny. Well, Lindemulder just did time in prison for tax evasion. But she's out now. She wants Sunny back. And she's trashing Bullock on "Good Morning America."

Check this out.


JANINE LINDEMULDER, PORN STAR: What would give her the right to take away my daughter? You know, this is my daughter. I'm the best mother I can be. I have absolutely made horrific choices in the past. I have had my share of drugs, but then there's a huge portion of my life, a 10-year span, where there's nothing. I didn't need it.

Sandy doesn't know what goes on in my house. She doesn't know how -- I would love for her to. Please, come over. You know, I will make dinner. You know, let's sit down, two women.


BROWN: In court papers obtained by ABC News, Bullock attacks the porn star's parenting skills. And she says that she dialed back her own movie career to take care of Sunny.

And that brings us tonight to the "Punchline." Remember when some comedians said it was tough to make fun of Barack Obama? Well, now they're not having trouble. Take a look.


CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH CONAN O'BRIEN": A year ago today, Barack Obama was elected president.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) O'BRIEN: It's been a year. Can you believe that? Yes, a lot has happened? Yes, in one short year, Obama's slogan has gone from, yes, we can, to, wow, this is freaking hard.


JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": In his first year in office, President Obama has traveled to 16 foreign countries, more than any other president in history. Bush only travelled to 11, but most of those were just different parts of It's a Small World ride. And that was...


FALLON: He counted those.

Like, can I get on this ride? Here's my passport.

And they're like, no, you don't need your...



BROWN: And that is the "Mash-Up."

Tonight's newsmaker: White House Press Secretary Roberts Gibbs. A year ago, he was celebrating an historic win. Tonight, he's trying to explain away Democratic losses.

Plus, a CNN exclusive: President Obama's half-brother tells his story for the first time. And it includes some darker family secrets. Listen.


NDESANDJO: My father beat my mother. And my father beat me, OK? And that's -- you don't do that. I feel uncomfortable saying that, but it's true.



BROWN: Tonight's newsmaker is White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, the Obama administration playing defense today after some stinging Democratic defeats last night. The big question, will the election results jeopardize the president's push for health care reform? And are they a sign Democrats will take a thumping in the midterm?

I spoke earlier with Gibbs. Take a listen.


BROWN: The president campaigned three times in New Jersey. He was also in Virginia. He was making personal appearances, fired-up speeches, but didn't seem to make much of a difference. Is it disappointing to you?

GIBBS: Well, look, obviously, the president would like to have seen a different outcome in those gubernatorial races, but, Campbell, you've seen the exit polling, and voters in those two states picked governors based on local issues, not registering support for or opposition to this president.

BROWN: But -- but do you really think that? I mean -- I mean, just look at Virginia, for example. I mean, Bob McDonnell, the guy who won in Virginia, his whole strategy was to make the election a referendum on the president's economic policies. I mean, he was attacking the stimulus. I -- I think his slogan was "Bob's for Jobs."

I mean, he did -- didn't you think he did all he could to tie his opponent to the White House?

GIBBS: No, I don't think -- I think even his campaign said this wasn't a referendum on the president. I think, quite frankly, he ran a campaign a lot like Barack Obama did in 2008, and that was to appeal to the notion that you can bring people together. I think that's what the president talked about in getting elected. I think that's what Bob McDonnell talked about.

You know, let's talk about another election up in New York 23 that we were also heavily involved in and that Vice President Biden made a stop just a day before the election, an important congressional race that was nationalized by the Republican Party. Sarah Palin came in; Tim Pawlenty followed Sarah Palin in. Lo and behold, they kicked out a moderate Republican who was the nominee. And for the first time since the 1850s, that district is not represented by a Republican. Tonight, it's represented by a Democrat.

BROWN: But -- but I am -- I'm going to bring you back to Virginia just for -- for a little bit more here, because Democrats...

GIBBS: I'm a Virginian, so I'm happy to talk about it.

BROWN: You're happy to talk about it. Democrats didn't just lose the governor's mansion. They -- they lost two other statewide offices, a number of seats in the legislature. Don't you think that does give the party reason to worry? Because let's also not forget that the chairman of the DNC is the current Virginia governor.

GIBBS: Right.

Well, look, again, I live in Alexandria, Virginia. I would like to have a different person as the incoming governor. But, Campbell, the exit polling showed that, when people went to register their vote for governor, they didn't do so based on Barack Obama, they didn't do so based -- based on Tim Kaine. In fact, both of those two officials have very strong approval ratings in Virginia.

Look, I think Virginia and -- and New Jersey were gubernatorial elections decided on a series of local issues. There were -- there was one national election last night, the 23rd District in New York, which we talked about a second ago, that the Republican Party nationalized, kicked a moderate Republican out, and the Democrat won that race.

BROWN: The polls, though -- you've talked a lot about the exit polling, and let's talk about it a little bit, because they do seem to show a distinction about where people are right now. I mean, people seem to still very much like this president, but they are not wild about his policies.

Do you see a scenario where you have Democratic lawmakers saying to you, "Hey, you know, sorry, but constituents don't want me to support health care reform or the cap-and-trade bills, so I'm not going to be with you on it"?

How do you address that?

GIBBS: Well, look, obviously, individual members are going to look at proposals and make decisions. We've made a lot of progress on health care. We're closer to health care reform than we've ever been before in this country.

I think the president is making dramatic strides on his agenda, and his agenda is getting this economy moving again, health care, energy that you mentioned, all those things that you -- you touched on. We're making progress on this. I think the president will have a very successful year, and I think that will be borne out.

BROWN: You -- I think we are seeing a hint, I guess, of the message that -- that could be the one we hear over and over as we head toward the midterms now, that -- that -- from your opponents, from Republicans, that President Obama means big government, he means massive spending, and that may be what's scaring a lot of independents. So even if it is just a perception problem, how do you fight that perception?

GIBBS: Well, again, I -- I will go back to the -- the race up in New York. You had a candidate that ran on economic recovery and the economic recovery plan. You had a candidate that opposed the economic recovery plan that the president worked so hard on. The guy that opposed the plan lost the race.

I think that the message that you take from all this is, the president is working hard each and every day to address the economy and to get people back to work. Is there economic discontent? Of course there is. Exit polling showed that. And, quite frankly, if an exit poller had asked the president on his way out of a poll whether he was feeling some discontent about the economy, he, too, would have said yes.

We've made great strides. We're working to get this economy back on track again. Just nine months ago, we were facing an economic disaster.

BROWN: And to that point, you know, Friday, we're expecting new jobs numbers, the fear out there that unemployment could rise above 10 percent. You know, whether we are seeing the economy rebound somewhat, for average Americans, jobs are probably what matters most. When do you think we're going to see those numbers turn around?

GIBBS: Well, Campbell, the White House has said for quite some time that 10 percent unemployment is a very real concern and probably one that we'll hit soon. I will tell you this: You can't have job growth without economic growth.

Last week, we got the first figures of positive economic growth in more than a year in this country. A big part of that was because of the president's recovery plan, passed with the help of those in Congress. You have to have one before you have the other, so we are building that new foundation to create the jobs of the future, to put people back to work, and that's what the president will focus on.

BROWN: Robert Gibbs for us tonight -- Robert, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it.

GIBBS: Thanks, Campbell.


BROWN: CIA agents convicted for kidnapping a Muslim cleric off the street -- that coming up in the download tonight.

Plus, tonight's intriguing person, it's Joel Osteen. Find out why politics don't mix at his church.


OSTEEN: I have got, you know, all kinds of different people in my congregation, all different sides. But we believe in supporting the president.



BROWN: President Obama's half brother is speaking out tonight with some disturbing allegations about the president's father.


BROWN: When we come back: Iranian protesters chant, "Death to the dictators." Are the ayatollahs losing their grip on power? Fareed Zakaria our guest.

Plus, why in the world does the new "Sesame Street" DVD have a warning label? Is the show we all grew up on really too risque for your kids? Seriously. We will talk about it.


BROWN: Tonight: Iran's leaders are getting a new powerful message of defiance from those willing to risk their lives for reform. Protesters hit the streets today with chants like, "Death to the dictator."

The question now is, are the ayatollahs facing a growing storm that could turn into an outright uprising? I will talk to Fareed Zakaria, the host of CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS."

But, first, our reporter Reza Sayah gives us a first-hand look at the protest.


REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At this time last year, ripping down the picture of Iran's supreme leader in public would have been almost unthinkable. Not only did protesters tear down Ayatollah Khamenei's poster; they wiped their feet on it, too.

The dramatic clip was among scores posted on YouTube and social networking sites on a day Iran's opposition movement made a defiant comeback to the streets.

Outside the former U.S. Embassy building in Tehran, the Iranian government held its annual anti-American rally. Tens of thousands of government supporters showed up and chanted, "Death to America." But as they have done since the disputed election, the opposition movement tried to disrupt and hijack the rally by showing up in huge numbers, too.

Just a few blocks from the pro-government rally, opposition supporters chanted, "Death to the dictator." Others called on U.S. President Barack Obama for support. "Obama," they chanted, "you are either with us or with them."


BROWN: Fareed Zakaria joining us right now.

And, Fareed, just saw the images, protesters chanting, "Death to Khamenei." How are -- I guess, are these protesters, though, really a threat to the government?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN WORLD AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, what's clear now, Campbell, is that when those events took place after the election, the protests and things like that, many of us were saying, this is very important because it cracks the legitimacy of the regime.

That's the really big thing here, which is, nobody had dared to ever question the legitimacy of the regime. What you see now is the culmination of that. As you say, to say, "Death to the dictator," to walk on his photographs, to tear down his posters, this -- this can't be put back together.

Now, how long can it last? You know, this is a very repressive regime. They use the repression...

BROWN: It's already lasted 30 years.

ZAKARIA: It's already lasted 30 years. And they have -- they have both guns and money. You see, because of the oil revenues, they both have a very strong paramilitary police force, but they also bribe people. So, they have some support that is gotten through patronage and things like that. So, this can last for a while.

But there is a kind of internal decay that has set in that is very difficult to reverse.

BROWN: You also heard the reporter there say that some of the protesters were chanting, "Obama, you're either with us or with them."

And the president did issue a statement late last night saying that Iran must choose between the past and the future. But, in your opinion, is that enough?

ZAKARIA: You know, I think he could probably find a way of being somewhat more supportive of the aspirations of the Iranian people. It's a very delicate balance.

BROWN: How? What -- what can he do to be more engaged?

ZAKARIA: I think more than just, you know, one sentence, maybe a paragraph, maybe something that talks about the universal aspirations of people and how he hopes that Iran, if it wants to enter the modern world, understand that it is important to recognize this aspiration. You know, but remember, when we in 1956, Hungary had an uprising in '68, Czechoslovakia had one, Poland had one. Every time, the United States faces this very difficult problem. If you say too much, you're not really able to deliver. You're not going to send troops to decapitate a regime.

People say, you know, you encourage these forces, and then they got gunned down, then they got jailed. If you do nothing, people feel like you're being passive. So it's a delicate balance but I were have shaded it two steps more than Obama did.

BROWN: Let me go forward a little more on this. And bring us up to speed on where we stand on the nuclear negotiations, because last month, it seemed like there was a draft deal and then all of a sudden you have the ayatollah out there slamming President Obama and rejecting the notion of negotiations with the U.S. What is really going on?

ZAKARIA: What's really going on is that at heart, this regime needs a confrontational posture with the West. You know, we add the 30th revolution anniversary, let's remember this regime was founded as an oppositional movement to the United States to the West. It was founded to isolate Iran, to take it out of the modern world. So it was sort of this is the basis of the regime.

They're having a lot of difficulty figuring out whether they can find a way to negotiate with the West, to re-enter the world without undermining that core idea. I mean "death to America" is not just a chant for them, it is their kind of, you know, declaration of independence. And they have to kind of unwind all of that. I don't know if Khamenei is clearly not there. Many of the people of the ruling elite are not there, and yet they see that, you know, they need to move somehow because the regime is cracking. It's divided. There is, you know, a dissatisfied population.

I think it points out that the real issue between U.S.-Iranian relations lies in Tehran, not in Washington. They haven't made up their minds that they want to reenter the modern world. At some level, we're spectators. We're watching what they decide.

BROWN: And it's still happening on the ground as we saw today. Fareed Zakaria, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

ZAKARIA: My pleasure.

BROWN: And be sure to catch "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" every Sunday 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time, 10:00 a.m. Pacific. That's right here on CNN.

There are a lot of people who have so little trust in science that they are willing to risk their own safety and that of their families. And tonight, we're going to talk to an author who believes paranoia is leading to some pretty devastating consequences.


MICHAEL SPECTER, AUTHOR, "DENIALISM": We have had so many studies repeated, repeated. And the data mounts, the evidence mounts that these things not only usually don't do any good, they often do harm.



BROWN: Tonight, a question we want answered. Is fear preventing us from benefiting from some of the triumphs of science and research? The author of a new book says that it is. That the human race is paying a heavy price for this.

Earlier I sat down with Michael Specter. His book is called "Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Even Threatens Our Lives." Take a listen.


BROWN: Explain what that means. What is this phenomenon?

MICHAEL SPECTER, AUTHOR, "DENIALISM": Well, everyone knows what denial is. Sometimes things are so painful we just can't deal with them. This is denial at large, when a society looks at things, looks at facts and is so uneasy about them that they just reject them. And we see this again and again and again. And, unfortunately, I think we see it increasingly.

BROWN: Driven largely by fear, this war in particular that you talk about on science and on progress. SPECTER: It's fear.

BROWN: Umm...

SPECTER: It's fear of the unknown. It's -- it's -- it's comfort with the things you think you do know. And it has real harmful consequences. It really does.

BROWN: And we've seen it play out, certainly in the news recently, with regard to the vaccine for H1N1.


BROWN: But -- but start more generally about childhood vaccines, because this, you say, is what's driving a lot of the controversy surrounding childhood vaccines.

SPECTER: Childhood vaccines are the most effective public health measure that there has ever been developed in the world except for clean water. But there is a sense -- there has been a sense for sometime that there is a relationship between the development of autism and childhood vaccines, particularly measles, mumps and rubella vaccines. And it doesn't matter.

There have been millions of studies -- not millions of studies, but millions of children have been studied and there has never been a correlation -- no correlation has ever been shown. And, in fact, kids who don't get vaccinated tend to develop autism at a slightly higher rate.

But it doesn't go away. It intensifies. And every study seems to be rejected for reasons that have nothing to do with science and only to do with anger and fear.

BROWN: And do you think that same thing applies to some of the concerns being raised about the H1N1 vaccine right now?

SPECTER: I do. People -- there's 40 percent of Americans who say they don't want to have this vaccine. There have been 10 million doses of this vaccine administered so far. CDC has received zero reports of serious adverse effects. It doesn't mean there won't be any reports. It doesn't mean something bad couldn't happen. But zero out of 10 million is a really good risk number.

And people don't think that way. They just think, I don't want to shoot a foreign substance into my baby. I saw something yesterday and they said I don't want to put foreign things into my body.

What do they think food is?

BROWN: I know, but I, as a mother, relate -- I mean I'm struggling with this, too, like I think a lot of people are.

SPECTER: Of course.

BROWN: It is terrifying and there is an emotional response attached to this. It's almost impossible sometimes to just coldly look at the science.

SPECTER: It is. And it's normal. It's just that -- if you look at it like seatbelts, well, seatbelts -- you get in a car and you're -- you're probably never going to have an accident. But if you have an accident, you want the seatbelt on.

It's the same with this shot. This shot has the lowest risk profile you can hope to have.

BROWN: And this applies to many, many that -- the idea of denialism -- to many, many other issues besides vaccines. Let's go through a couple of them here before we talk about kind of what it means more generally.

Organic foods you talk a lot about in the book. And we spend something like $20 billion a year on organic foods because we are all convinced they're better for us.

SPECTER: Well, I don't know if we all are convinced.

BROWN: Many of us.

SPECTER: I have to say, I eat organic food. I do it because it tastes better. That's the only reason to do it. It's nutritionally no better.

Environmentally, there are debates and you can talk about it both ways. But -- and I'm in no way suggesting we don't have organic food. But what I am concerned about is the denialists who don't want genetically engineered food because that is a process and the technology that can help billions of poor people. Half the people on this planet make less than two bucks a day. They don't get to shop at Whole Foods. They need the benefits of science.

And we have gone so far with the science and I hate to see people hold it up.

BROWN: Going beyond this, vitamin supplements. You say you know what, stop. They're not helping you. I take them every day.

SPECTER: Some do work. Vitamin D, folic acid if you're pregnant. But they're very few. In general, you can take a giant bag, go to your nearest vitamin shop, fill the bag with everything in there and throw it into the sea and the world would be a better place, except it would pollute the sea.

BROWN: Really?

SPECTER: Yes. Anti-oxidants, they're great in your food. Vitamins are essential in your food. It doesn't get absorbed in the same way in pills, and we have had so many studies repeated and repeated. And the data mounts. The evidence mounts that these things not only usually don't do any good, they often do harm.

BROWN: Our cynicism that's just grown over time, we don't have enough faith in our government when it comes to regulating a lot of this stuff.


BROWN: We don't have faith in our doctors. We don't have faith in pharmaceutical companies. We --

SPECTER: A lot of that is true and a lot --

BROWN: Is this pervasive throughout our society?

SPECTER: I think it is. And I think there's reasons for it. It's not out of nothing. We've been lied to lots. We've been lied to by the government about medicine.

BROWN: Well, that's what I was going to say, is...

SPECTER: We've been lied to...

BROWN: ... don't we have good reason to sort of be cynical about...

SPECTER: We do have good reason.

BROWN: ... some of what we hear?

SPECTER: I think we have reason to be skeptical. I think we should look at information really closely and decide whether people are telling the truth. Ask what the data is, ask what the studies is. Don't just listen to CDC or your doctor, but ask for information.

But when you get the information and it's compelling, don't walk away from it.

BROWN: Right.

SPECTER: Live with it.


BROWN: Again, the book is called "Denialism." That was Michael Specter.

Next, to the president's half brother with some shocking things to say about the father they shared.


BROWN: Every night, we bring you a breakout story from around the globe, the very best of CNN. And tonight, startling family secrets about a man named Barack Obama, but not the one living in the White House.

As John Vause reports from China, the president's half brother says, the father they shared, Barack Obama Sr., was abusive.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JOHN VAUSE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's an Obama you probably never heard of. Mark Obama Ndesandjo, the president's half brother. An engineer by trade he lost his job in the U.S. seven years ago and moved to the booming city of Shenzhen in China's south, where he owns a small chain of restaurants and a scene in this YouTube clip teaches piano to orphans.

MARK OBAMA NDESANDJO, PRES. OBAMA'S HALF BROTHER: In my own way, I have tried to make a difference.

VAUSE: After dodging the media for almost a year, he's speaking out now. For one, he's written a book, a semi-autobiographical story called "Nairobi to Shenzhen." And in that book he reveals that Barack Obama Sr., the father he shares with the president of the United States, was often drunk and physically abusive.

NDESANDJO: My father beats me. He beats my mother. You just do not do that. I shut these thoughts in the back of my mind for many years.

VAUSE: The years he struggled with that name Obama. Few here ever knew about his famous family connection but then something happened. A year ago as thousands gathered in Grant Park to celebrate his brother's victory, his own despair, he says, became hope.

NDESANDJO: I saw the millions of people who loved or supported my brother, Barack, and in the process in some weird way I came to terms with many things that I had shut out of my life including the Obama name.

VAUSE (on camera): And over the years Mark Obama says he's only met a few times with his brother but plans to catch up and introduce his new Chinese wife when President Obama makes his first official visit to China later this month.

(voice-over): John Vause, CNN, Guangdong, China.


BROWN: And "LARRY KING LIVE" up at the top of the hour. Tonight, Larry gets superstar Mariah Carey to open up about a very difficult part of her past. Take a listen.




KING: What did you make of that story?

CAREY: Oh, yes. Yikes. I don't know. I think that, I can't imagine if I had been like let -- I was very, as you know, sequestered when I first started out. And if I was just allowed to be like young and with a young boyfriend who's also a star, and, you know, you're working. And you're both, I don't know what goes on, you know what I mean. So it's like I wasn't really allowed out of the house. So I can't imagine what -- what she went through.

KING: So you've never been abused like that, ever been hit by anyone? Were you ever abused?

CAREY: Abuse has several categories.

KING: You've been emotionally abused?

CAREY: Emotionally, mentally.

KING: Why is it hard to get out of it?

CAREY: Well, it's scary. You know, I just think you get into a situation and you feel locked in, if your situation is similar to one of the situations I've been in, which I won't harp on.

KING: But it is hard to get out?

CAREY: For me, to really get out, it was difficult because there was a connection that was not only a marriage, but a, you know, business thing, where the person was in control of my life.


BROWN: It is a rare, one-on-one interview with Mariah Carey. That's on "LARRY KING LIVE" coming up right at the top of the hour.

His is a message heard by millions every week. It is heard it is taken to heart. We're going to talk with Pastor Joel Osteen about why she steers clear of politics at the church.


JOEL OSTEEN, PASTOR, LAKEWOOD CHURCH: I've voted both Democrat and Republican before, but you know what? I think he's -- he's doing his best. I think it's a tough job.



BROWN: Tonight's intriguing person is a man millions turn to for inspiration every week. Pastor Joel Osteen leads the largest congregation in America at his Lakewood Church, but his reach goes way beyond that. His sermons are broadcast around the world. His books are instant bestseller -- bestsellers. And his latest book, "It's Your Time" is meant as a message of hope amid this very difficult times.


BROWN: So for anybody out there who may not know you and I don't think there are that many people who don't know you, but you preach prosperity gospel. Explain to people what that is about, what the message is. JOEL OSTEEN, PASTOR, LAKEWOOD CHURCH: Yes, well, I'm not real thrilled with the term it's come up with, but really, I believe that God wants us to be blessed, that God's a good god. And when we say prosperity, you know, I mean, I believe that means good health, good relationships, you know, peace in your mind. So it's not just money, but it's -- it's really believing that God is for you, that he's got a great plan for your life, and he wants you to succeed. BROWN: People are really struggling right now, given what's going on in the economy. Swine flu, incredibly stressful. But if people are praying and they're believing, their lives haven't changed, though. I mean, what do you say to get them sort of beyond that? OSTEEN: Well, I think that when you -- when you get up each day and you find something to be grateful for, you know, even if, God forbid, you lost your job, but you know, you can thank the Lord that you have your health. If you can start your day off in a positive frame of mind, I believe it will make your day go better. And really, faith is all about trusting God when it is difficult and things aren't going your way. And to say, "God, you know what? I believe that you're still in control of my life." And so I just -- I think it's -- I think when we get up in the opposite, as being discouraged and bitter, and life's just no fun, it just draws in more negativity. BROWN: You have, I've read, about seven million viewers a week. That's a lot. Without question, you're one of the most recognized full (ph) pastors in the world. You do have critics, though. OSTEEN: Sure. BROWN: And what they say is you kind of let people off easy because what you don't ask of your congregants is for self-sacrifice of any kind. What do you say to that? Is that fair? OSTEEN: Well, I don't think so. We talk about, you know -- you know, part of my message is you live to give. The reason we're blessed is to help somebody else. I mean, I tell my congregation all the time, if you will make somebody else's day, God will make your own day. But Campbell, I see a lot of people that don't have a good self image. They don't think that they have much of a purpose. They think, "You know what? I'm just one of the billions of people on the world. What am I here for?" So a lot of my message is about empowering people and saying, "You know what? You were created to do something great, to -- you know, to -- as a person of purpose and value." So I talk a lot about self- esteem and relationships. And you know what? I feel like that's what I'm called to do. BROWN: In doing some research about you, one of the things I was struck by is you say, "I don't know" a lot in response to questions. You talk to a lot of public figures, and there's a certain reluctance to ever say "I don't know," to sort of admit to any level of shortcoming. Why do you embrace it, I guess? OSTEEN: You know, I have people tell me they don't like me doing that. Some people on my team. But you know what? I just believe in being honest. I don't know all the answers about, you know, God and a lot of different things. Especially, there's some tough questions about, you know what? Why were we born in great families? And I was just in Africa, and these little kids are orphanage -- are orphans. And I don't know why somebody -- you know, I don't know all those answers. And so, to me, I just -- I'd just rather be honest and say, "You know what? I don't know that, but I still trust and believe that God's good." BROWN: You have made a point to steer clear of politics. And you even -- you don't like the label evangelical because of all the political connotations that sort of go along with it. Do you think other pastors out there have been too engaged in politics? OSTEEN: No, I really don't think so, because I think we're all called to do different things. And so some of my friends, they are passionate. They're great in debating. They're great in -- in the political side. It's just -- I think that you have to know what your calling is. And my -- my call -- I'm using the word "calling." Or what I feel like I'm supposed to be doing is throwing a wide, wide net of hope to as many people as I can, to share the love of Christ with them. And you know, if somebody turns it on and said, "Well, he's Democrat or Republican," or this or that, you know, half the audience is going to leave. And I don't think that's what I'm called to do. BROWN: So I'm going to ask you anyway, because it's the day after election day, and everybody is opining about what went on in this election. OSTEEN: Sure. BROWN: What do you think about President Obama and how he's doing since he took office? OSTEEN: Well, I'm an eternal optimist, and I'm a big believer in loyalty and supporting our president. So I like President Obama. You know, I've voted both Democrat and Republican before, but you know what? I think he's -- he's doing his best. I think it's a tough job. I mean, I think we all know that. But, you know, I believe that, you know, he's doing his best, and he's got the best people he feels like around him. BROWN: Do you see the first family as good role models for people in this country? OSTEEN: I do. I think they're -- you know, I see joy. I see camaraderie. I see respect. And I like that. I don't even -- I've never met them personally, but I see their kids are beautiful and so I'm all for them. And we try to cheer them on. And you know what? I've got, you know, all kinds of different people in my congregation, all different sides. But we believe in supporting the president. BROWN: Well, the book is called "It's Your Time." Pastor Osteen, it's good to have you here. Nice to see you. Really appreciate you coming in. OSTEEN: Thanks, Campbell. My pleasure. (END VIDEOTAPE) BROWN: And "LARRY KING LIVE" starts in just a few moments. Also tonight's "Guilty Pleasure," "Sesame Street." Find out why they are putting warning labels on it now. Hide the kids.


BROWN: "LARRY KING LIVE" starts in just a few moments. First, though, Mike Galanos has tonight's "Guilty Pleasure," the video we just can't resist -- Mike.

MIKE GALANOS, HLN PRIME NEWS: Campbell, "Sesame Street," 40th anniversary, old episodes now on DVD and they come with a warning. Check it out.


NARRATOR: This early "Sesame Street" episodes are intended for grown-ups and may not suit the needs of today's preschool child.


GALANOS: Intended for grown-ups because you've got Bert and Ernie guzzling soda, Cookie Monster eating cookies. Hide the kids, you said it, Campbell.

BROWN: It's great stuff. I watch it every morning.

All right, Mike. I'll be curious to see those DVDs. Thanks very much.


BROWN: "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.