Return to Transcripts main page


Health Care's Crucial Week; White House Pushes Education Reform

Aired March 17, 2010 - 20:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: CNN Primetime begins right now.


Our top story tonight, President Obama wins a key yes vote in his battle for health care reform, but he is not there yet. That news tops the "Mash-Up." We are watching it all so you don't have to.

Today's victory, a step forward came in the form of Ohio Democrat Dennis Kucinich. The congressman announced he will vote for the bill after an intense lobbying effort by the White House.

Tonight President Obama keeping up that pressure, he is urging voters to look beyond the process saying regardless of parliamentary procedures, a vote for health care is a vote for health care.

And the president made his case in a very combative interview with FOX News. Take a look.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If people vote yes, whatever form that takes, that is going to be a vote for health care reform. And I don't think we should pretend otherwise.


OBAMA: And if -- Bret, let me finish. And the reason --

BAIER: This is one-sixth of the U.S. economy, though, sir.

OBAMA: Yes, sir.

BAIER: One-sixth.

OBAMA: And, Brett, let me tell you something. The fact of the matter is that for the vast majority of people, their health care is not going to change because right now, they're getting a better deal.

BAIER: So how can you --

OBAMA: But so -- so the notion --

BAIER: You guarantee that they're not going to -- there going to be able to keep their doctor --

OBAMA: You've got to let me finish my answer.

BAIER: But, sir, I know you don't like the filibuster. But --

OBAMA: Well, I'm trying to answer your questions and you keep on interrupting.

BAIER: If it doesn't pass, does it diminish your presidency?

OBAMA: Well, if it doesn't pass I'm more concerned about what it does to families out there who right now are getting crushed by rising health care costs and small businesses who are having to make a decision, do I hire or do I fix health care? That's the reason I make these decisions. Well --

BAIER: Mr. President, I'm getting wrapped up. And I don't want to interrupt you, but to finish up, do you think this is going to pass?

OBAMA: I do. I'm confident it will pass.


BROWN: The president says Democrats will be vindicated when health care reform starts to actually pay off.

And even if health care does pass, the president could find himself fending off fire from the left. And case in point is Michael Moore. Listen to what he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer today.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: As much as you dislike this legislation, this bill.

MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: Did I make that clear?

BLITZER: You made it very clear.

MOORE: OK, good.

BLITZER: You still want people to vote for it.


BLITZER: And hold their nose.


BLITZER: And vote for it. Are you actually going out and encouraging members to do so? Progressives? Are you making phone calls? Are you lobbying?


BLITZER: Are you talking to anyone?

MOORE: No. I'm the -- I'm what you call the depressed vote. You know the -- you know that term, right? I'm one of those people who will show up to vote this November, and yes, I'll vote for the Democrats, but it won't be with the enthusiasm in '08.

And I'm telling you, millions of people are going to be like that. They're going to -- some will vote and a lot aren't going to vote. And the Democrats are going to get an ass whooping in November.


BROWN: Moore thinks the president should have gotten tough with Republicans and rammed through a much more comprehensive bill.

In Rome today, Pope Benedict broke his silence on the sex abuse rocking the Catholic Church in Europe right now. His remarks did little to appease some of the victims.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: He did say was to use the opportunity of St. Patrick's Day to tell the Irish faithful that he would be addressing the issue of child abuse within the Irish Catholic Church.

POPE BENEDICT XVI, CATHOLIC CHURCH LEADER (Through Translator): As a sign of my concern, I wrote a pastoral letter dealing with this painful situation.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But many who were victims of that abuse -- Andrew Madden was repeatedly molested by a priest as a child -- want more than a letter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They sound like very empty, meaningless words to me coming from the Pope.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: As Ireland celebrated St. Patrick's Day, the country's most senior cleric, Cardinal Sean Brady, was saying sorry for his part in covering up abuse.

Last week Brady admitted he was present in 1975 when two altar boys who've been sexually abused by a priest were asked to sign oaths of secrecy rather than take their complaints to the police.


BROWN: Pretty appalling. The Pope says his letter on Friday would help repentant healing and renewal.

In France tonight, uproar over a shocking new documentary. It depicts a fake game show where contestants follow orders to deliver electric shocks to a man up to the point of killing him.

Now, don't worry, the man was an actor, but the contestants here were not. Take a look at this.


BROWN: This was all a social experiment just to see how far people will go to try or to follow orders, rather, particularly when they're on television. We're going to have a whole lot more on this very disturbing story coming up a little bit later tonight.

On a much lighter note here, President Obama unveiled his picks for the NCAA Tournament today. Check them out. This is as told to ESPN.


OBAMA: Overall, though, I got killed in my bracket last year in the first round. I ended up picking the winner.


OBAMA: But the first rounds just killed me. So I'm hoping that any mistakes I made you corrected.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Syracuse keeps on going. You missed the R in there.

OBAMA: Yes, I just completely messed that up.


OBAMA: Come on. Sorry, guys. Malia and Sasha are going to tease me about this.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you have see Frank Martin's menacing glare?

OBAMA: I have. He's a scary dude.


OBAMA: Or I could send him up to Congress to get him to vote for health care. Final game, we've got Kansas.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So Kansas beating K State.

OBAMA: And Kentucky. I think once again, south wins. That's the game right there. All right.


BROWN: Good luck there, Mr. President. And that brings us to the "Punch Line" tonight which is courtesy of David Letterman. Never one to let a good feud die.


DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": Listen to this. Sarah Palin out in Arizona is campaigning with John McCain. He's running for his Senate re-election. They're campaigning together out there. And I thought, hmm, yes, I mean, there is an unbeatable combination. But they --


BROWN: David Letterman, everybody. And that is the "Mash-Up."

Tonight, one of the Democrats who could make or break the health care bill tells me why he is still undecided. And former White House press secretary, Dee Dee Myers, is here with some tough words for President Obama.


BROWN: Our top story tonight, President Obama racing to get enough support for the health care bill. He had hoped for a vote by Saturday, but we have just learned it's likely now that vote won't happen until Sunday at the earliest.

Congressional leaders are moving towards the so-called deeming maneuver which would allow lawmakers to avoid a direct vote on the bill. That's not sitting well with one undecided Democrat I spoke with earlier, Congressman Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania.


REP. JASON ALTMIRE (D), PENNSYLVANIA: I think that's a big mistake. The American people are already uncomfortable with this process. This is not an inconsequential bill. This is the biggest social policy initiative literally in 45 years.

And to use reconciliation and to use a backdoor deeming proposal and maybe even attach student loans to the bill, I just think that that gives the American people the sense that we didn't have the votes to pass this and we went through the backdoor to do it.


BROWN: Now the president has been aggressively lobbying Altmire just as he tries to sell the American people on this plan. But tonight a prominent member of the last Democratic White House says Obama needs to work on his approach.

And joining me right now is Dee Dee Myers, press secretary under former President Clinton. She has a new op-ed in "Politico" saying that President Obama should maybe take a page out of the Clinton political playbook.

Dee Dee, welcome to you. Let me first ask you a little bit about health care.


BROWN: You've written that Obama should have taken, in your view, more ownership of the debate. You know everybody is talking about the political risk if the president fails, but you think he should have actually even put more of himself on the line. Explain what you mean.

MYERS: Well, with the advantage of hindsight, which is always 20/20, I think that when we look back at this, I think health care will pass, I think it will pass because it's now the president's plan and he will ask members to vote for it and in the end they will.

I think we'll look back and say the turning point was a couple of Mondays ago when the president put out his own 11-page summary of what his health care plan was and he made it his own.

And at that point, you know, he attached himself to a particular plan in a much more concrete way than he had. And now it's not the House's plan and it's not the Senate plan, although there are obviously elements of that left over that have to be worked through in this complicated procedural situation.

But it was that moment when it became President Obama's plan. I think at the end of the day, that makes all the difference in the world. I think if he'd done that a little earlier, the bill might have passed earlier and we might have avoided some of the procedural machinations that are going on now.

The president has to own it.

BROWN: You should -- or let me just say, if you were advising him, I guess, do you think he should leave for Indonesia this weekend if it hasn't passed?

MYERS: I actually don't. And I think it's not the best idea for him if the bill passes on Saturday to get on a plane and fly halfway around the world on Sunday. The White House will have to work out, you know, those details as we get closer and see what the fate of the bill is.

But this is a momentous point, not just in his presidency, but in the country's history. To pass a bill that is as important. And I don't think passing it in the House will necessarily -- it's not done at that point. And he will have to continue to do what he's doing now which is work very hard with individual members to convince them and to ask them to support this.

BROWN: Again in your piece, you write that the president, in your view, needs to get back in touch. And I was struck by this line that you have, you said, quote, "People want to have a beer with him. They're just not sure he wants to have a beer with them." Explain what you meant by that.

MYERS: Well, I think that the American people have a reservoir of goodwill for this president. They like him. They think he's an honest person. They think he's smart. They think he has the country's best intentions at heart, even if they disagree with him and think he's not always doing the right thing.

They -- there is this reservoir of goodwill towards him. I think, though, that he hasn't -- he's talked more than he's listened. And he is a very good listener. And I think it would be great for him to spend more time going out to the country and listening to people, hearing their individual stories, looking them in the eye, and really connecting with them on a personal level, even talking then about the stories.

We heard him this week telling the story of a woman who lost her health care because she could no longer afford her premium and now has leukemia. And doesn't have health coverage.

I think that story has resonated around the country. I think not just in Washington. But there are so many people that know people that had had similar, horrible outcomes in this -- in the current health care setup and they know that it's not right.

We have to -- you know, I think the president needs to both remind them of what's wrong and connect on a personal level. And he can do both.

BROWN: Well, your old boss, frankly, President Clinton, sort of trademarked that feel your pain kind of moment.

MYERS: Right.

BROWN: And I know you're arguing, he should open -- I mean, you just said it, open up a little more, show his vulnerabilities, I guess. Let Americans see him sweat. How does he do that, though, specifically?

MYERS: Well, I think, you know, during the campaign, he talked more about his own background, his own roots, about -- you know his childhood wasn't easy. His -- you know, early life wasn't always easy. And he talks eloquently about that in both of his books. And he talked a lot more about it in the campaign.

And I think there's a tendency on the part of presidents to think everyone knows that now, and I don't need to keep reminding them, but I think it's important to connect as a president in this age.

BROWN: And he doesn't do it often, but he did do it on Monday in Ohio. I just want to play that. He talked about his mom. Listen to this.


OBAMA: I'm here because of my own mother's story. She died of cancer and in the last six months of her life, she was on the phone in her hospital room arguing with insurance companies instead of focusing on getting well and spending time with her family.


BROWN: Now it's kind of your point. He certainly told that story before, but in the context of this debate, if you're advising him, maybe it bears repeating.

MYERS: You know and you know that story and I know that story but I bet you most Americans don't know that story. You know we assume that people pay as much attention to all this as we do, Campbell. And we also know that that's not true.

So I think to repeat it and -- again to connect his own personal experience, people go oh, no wonder he feels so strongly that people with preexisting conditions shouldn't be cut off or that people who are uninsured should have access to affordable quality care, because his family has gone through it.

So, look, that's not the only thing he needs to do. He's done a lot of other things in this health care process really well. He's so good at making the rational arguments, explaining the complicated situation, but by making that final connection, emotional connection with people, I think he can just get it over the finish line.

And I think this week, seeing him do it, really just underscores, A, that it can be -- how important it is, and B, that he can do it really well.

BROWN: Dee Dee Myers. Dee Dee, always good to talk to you. Thanks so much.

MYERS: Thank you, Campbell.

BROWN: Coming up, what is the answer to this country's educational woes? I'll talk to one man who says he has the fix but it costs money. Would people be willing to pay more for better results when we come back?


BROWN: With health care still in the balance, the Obama administration has begun its push for a massive education overhaul, warning that the U.S. is, quote, "falling behind." Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today rallied law makers to revamp "No Child Left Behind" which singles out underperforming school, and instead encourage them in a race to the top.

Joining me to talk about this right now is Geoffrey Canada, who is president and CEO of Harlem Children's Zone, and CNN political contributor Bill Bennett who is the author of the new book, "A Century Turns."

Welcome to both of you.

Geoffrey, let me start with you here. What you have created, let me just tell people, is I think many if not most believe is a model for how it can work like the dream scenario. Explain what you're doing and what you've achieved that the rest of America can't seem to.

GEOFFREY CANADA, PRES. & CEO, HARLEM CHILDREN'S ZONE: Well, you know, we've really decided that in some communities, this problem is so devastating that you couldn't just start at middle school or high school. But you had to really start with families at birth, when the problem begins. And so we created something called Baby College. We start with our families at birth. We stay with those children until we get them into our schools and then we also support kids into college and we're going to stay with kids until they graduate from college.

So our thought is you're just not doing education, you're doing health care. We're making sure you're dealing with the social service issue that children have. You're looking at the academics and the cultural, and the sports, and you're really trying to deal with the whole child. And we're trying to stay long enough so that we can make a difference to all the children in our zone.

BROWN: And I just want to tell people, your Harlem Children's Zone, 90 percent of your students were accepted to college.

CANADA: Yes, you know we have --

BROWN: That's amazing.

CANADA: And these -- Campbell, these are not kids who are in our charter schools because we run charter schools and they're at the ninth or tenth grade, but we also think you got to work with kids in the regular public schools.

One of the things that's different, I think, about our approach to education, we run charter schools and we believe charter schools have to create innovation, that we have to make sure that we're doing longer school days, longer school years, but we also work directly with public schools because so many of our kids are in public schools.

And we think both charter schools and public schools have to be great schools if this country is really going to fulfill its obligation to poor children.

BROWN: Bill, I know you know about Geoffrey's program here. Would you want that nationalized? Can that be nationalized?

WILLIAM BENNETT, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, many of the elements are. We should obviously learn from what works. And all the evidence is that what Mr. Canada works. It works effectively.

And note one thing that he says, it's very important. And that is consistency over time. When we've looked at the research on head start, it's not very encouraging. There's a lot of intervention and then it stops.

In my own visits to schools, and I visit more than 600 schools, about half of them inter-city schools, you can send children to good elementary school where they're doing the right thing for three or four years, Campbell.

But then if they go off to a middle school where they slough off or the standards aren't enforced, where the adults don't take the interest in them that they should, they can lose all the ground that they gained.

So it's consistency over time. It's what we expect parents to do. We should also expect schools to do.

BROWN: And you're nodding your head that --

CANADA: Well, you know, I couldn't agree more that typically what happens is we deal with kids and we say they're fine and then we send them off somewhere, and you find out two years later the kids aren't fine.

We think you stay with those kids. Make sure they're in high quality programs, where the adults are held accountable. And that point of the issue I get a lot of trouble with people around this.

The adults are paid money and they have to deliver for children. And we believe if the adults don't deliver, that they're the ones held responsible, not the children in the families. But then you've got to stay with these kids, get them through middle school, get them through high school, get them in college, and then help them finish college. And that's when we think the child is done.

BROWN: And President Obama has said that he would love to replicate your model around the country, but it is also very expensive. I mean you rely a lot on private funding. Right?

CANADA: Yes, we do. You know, we felt like we had to just show this could be done, and it was not a public funding source that would really look at the total child, and what the president has proposed in promised neighborhoods is to really have the federal government put up half the money so other organizations won't have to raise as much private money as we do.

What we do with the private money is that we make sure we're able to provide what children need so if the state only pays us for two and a half hours of 4-year-old pre-k, and we know our kids need a full day, we pay for the full day using private dollars instead of just giving kids a little bit when they need a lot.

BROWN: So, Bill, how do you deal with this when -- I mean not every locality is going to be able to pull off -- what you've done is extraordinary. But how do you replicate this on a massive scale when it requires an enormous amount of private funding and given the current challenges we're facing?

BENNETT: Well, I think two things. First of all, it's very important to point out that this happens and where it happens, because there are people who don't believe that kids in Harlem are just going to succeed, they're not going to close that gap.

If my research is right, the gap -- there is no gap between the kids in your program and the white children, for example, in New York City. In many cases succeeding even better.

The second point is money. And this is often a bone of contention when Republicans and Democrats and otherwise. The American people are prepared to spend money on education. What they're tired of is spending a lot of money on education that doesn't work. Now we have some sense of what works. Mr. Canada's program works, the KIPP schools work. There are some other programs that work very effectively. What I think Duncan is trying to do -- Secretary Duncan, I should say -- and I hope what he's trying to do is to say that the money should follow the effectiveness and that people, for example, if they want money from the federal government, they need to do things that we know are effective and accountable.

American people, if you poll them, are glad to pay more for education -- just like most parents are -- if they think it will work. And if you can show them it will work, they'll open their checkbooks.

BROWN: So to that point then, because let's take this a little more broad now. I think you're right about what he is doing with this overhaul of "No Child Left Behind." They are certainly angering many of their core supporters in the Democratic Party --


BROWN: -- by going down this path. What -- I mean, what's key? What is their sort of biggest hurdle that they have to overcome that you think has to be changed for us to really see any progress here, Bill?

BENNETT: You're asking me?


BENNETT: Well, I think -- Arne Duncan, and I'm sure this isn't pleasant for him, has made some of the enemies I made. And these are folks mainly in the teachers' unions -- not the teachers but the leadership of the unions who refuse to accept the fact that accountability means part of the measure of effectiveness of teachers is how the kids are doing.

You've got to link that up. And this is what Duncan has been insisting on. And if you do the right things by kids, you will see those results. And then, as a lot of us believe, and I think this is what Arne Duncan believes, those teachers who are doing a great job should get better compensation, more compensation.

But stop protecting the five or six or seven percent who are dragging our kids down.

BROWN: Do you agree with that?

CANADA: Well, you know, I think Mr. Bennett has really named the core element that has to be changed if we're going to have schools be successful. You know there's this fantasy that there are no lousy teachers. Well, you know what? There are lousy teachers like there are lousy doctors, there are lousy journalists, there are lousy everybody.

We've got to make sure that we reward effectiveness. And there's nothing more important that finding effective teachers, letting our teachers know we really care about those who are going the extra mile producing results.

And look, the president is not saying fire all the teachers. Even most of the teachers. He's saying let's figure out how we can tell which teachers are working and which teachers aren't and make sure that we spread the good teachers amongst all of the schools and bad teachers don't get concentrated in the really poorest schools in this country.

And that's been going on for 50 years in this nation. And that has to change.

BROWN: Well, we will certainly be following this closely to see if it does.

And Geoffrey Canada, it's great to have you here. You're a fantastic example for us as we go through this process.

Bill Bennett, always appreciate your time. A fabulous discussion. Thank you, both.

BENNETT: Common ground, Campbell. You know --

BROWN: I know.

BENNETT: Really we speak on common ground. Very, very good.

BROWN: It's so rare. I love it when it happens. Thank you.



BROWN: Coming up, we're going to talk about another challenge for President Obama. He's taking some heat from a surprising source, maybe the African-American community. Tavis Smiley is here to talk about why he thinks the president should have a black agenda when we come back.


BROWN: President Obama has a busy weekend ahead with the expected health care vote and the start of his overseas trip. But at a forum in his hometown of Chicago this weekend, some are asking the question, is the nation's first black president doing enough for the African American community? In other words, should the president have a black agenda?

Talk show host Tavis Smiley is leading Saturday's forum and he's joining me right now to talk about that.

Tavis, welcome to you.

TAVIS SMILEY, HOST, "THE TAVIS SMILEY SHOW": Hi, Campbell, good to see you.

BROWN: You too. Let's start with this weekend's forum. It's called "We Count: The Black Agenda is an American Agenda." Explain what it is and why it's needed.

SMILEY: I think first of all, we say the term, we use the term black agenda, we have to be clear about the fact that this agenda is not pejorative, it's not punitive, it's not reductionist, it's not exclusionary, it's not negative. Too often I think we have these misnomers about what we mean when we use the term even black agenda.

To the contrary, the black agenda, Campbell, has always been about the best of what America is. It's always been an agenda that considers those who are politically, socially and economically disenfranchised. It's an agenda that's always been about the best of America because at the best, America is about democracy. We celebrate Dr. King now. The only African American with the holiday in his honor because he didn't just fight for black folks. The agenda he was fighting for was about democracy, making democracy real for every single American.

Now to the contrary, when you do not consider those who are hardest hit, who are being crushed by this economy, who don't have homes, who don't have jobs, who don't have health care, when you don't consider those folks, this is what you end up with, the conversation about how, in the era of Obama, the president is asked to address an agenda that considers these people.

BROWN: So you've made no secret that you are not thrilled with President Obama's first year. You said this on Charlie Rose, I think back in June. You said, "Just because Barack Obama is black doesn't mean he gets a pass on being held accountable on the issues that matter to black people." Be specific here, Tavis. Where has he let you down?

SMILEY: Well, first of all, I said the same thing about every other president that I've had a chance as a radio and TV commentator to address. Bill Clinton, if you look at the polls and studies and surveys, most black folks think that Bill Clinton did a phenomenal job as president. I think President Clinton on balance (ph) did a good job as well. But there are a number of things, Campbell, that he failed on. He went too slow getting into Rwanda, where ethnic genocide was taking place. He sandbagged Lani Guinier. He signed that 101 racist crack cocaine, cocaine discrepancy in the crime bill, the welfare bill. There are a number of things that Bill Clinton, some by his own admission these days, he did wrong, didn't do well enough.

Having said that, it's about accountability for everybody in the White House, Clinton, Bush and President Obama. So my point is he doesn't get a pass just because he's black. On the other hand, he ought not to be asked to do something special just because he's black. This is not about the president.

BROWN: But let me --

SMILEY: As much as this is about the presidency.

BROWN: Let me stop you there because that's where I'm a little confused. Because you're saying this is about the black agenda. And so I wonder, though, is the criticism fair? Do you expect more of President Obama because he is black?

SMILEY: No, absolutely not. If the president were polka dot right now, we'd be asking him to address the fact that black unemployment is triple the national average. In some places, given certain demographics, quadruple the national average. That's not a black thing. That's a jobs thing. If the president were polka dot right now, we'd be talking about why in this health care debate there has been no talk about disparities and how health care is delivered in this country. If the president were polka dot, we'd be talking right now about why this Kirwan Institute study of the Ohio State University finds that the stimulus money is not finding its way to communities that are depressed, namely communities of color. What's that got to do with race?

BROWN: So let me ask you, though, I just want you to address also some criticism. I know you're leading the forum this weekend.


BROWN: And some in the media have said being critical of you that this is more about you and not you personally not being included in sort of White House meetings to talk about some of these issues and it's more of a personal rift between you and the White House. Is there anything to that?

SMILEY: I do the same thing you do for a living everyday, Campbell. I have never expected, never invited myself, never thought I'd be asked to participate in White House meetings. This has nothing to do with me. It's amazing to me how -- and I think Dr. King was right here. When we become silent, our lives begin to end when we become silent about things that really matter.

I think that what we ought to be doing in the media, our job everyday is to ask questions that other folk won't ask, to raise issues that aren't being raised, to raise issues, in fact, that challenge folk to reexamine the assumptions they hold, to help folk expand their inventory of ideas. Our job in the media is to ask these questions.

So this weekend I'm moderating a panel live on C-SPAN to raise these questions about how it is and if there is a need for a black agenda in the era of Obama. In this so-called post racial era, I think my job is to raise these questions. I've done it all the time I've been in the media. What makes this any different?

BROWN: All right. Tavis Smiley, we'll follow up with you and hopefully get to talk to you after this weekend's meeting.


BROWN: Very interesting. Appreciate you coming on the show, Tavis.

SMILEY: Thank you, Campbell.

BROWN: Coming up, a truly shocking documentary to tell you about, why contestants on a fake game show were willing to give each other electric shocks. They say television made them do it. That story coming up.


BROWN: Why would game show contestants be willing to give each other painful and potentially deadly electric shocks? Well, they say the power of television made them do it. The whole thing was part of an experiment shown in a French documentary called the "Game of Death" where contestants believed they were giving dangerous electric shocks to other players. Well, actually, those victims were actors, but the disturbing results were all too real. And Randi Kaye is here with the story.


BROWN: It gives you the creeps.

KAYE: It makes you know, a little queasy just watching it. But as Campbell said, it's called the "Game of Death," a French game that's part of a documentary on French TV to expose what the show's creators call, quote, "TV's mind-numbing power to suspend morality and a striking human willingness to obey orders." And here's how the game show works.

Contestants pose a question. If their fellow player gets the answer wrong, he is zapped with as much as 460 volts of electricity. And the contestants can keep upping that voltage. Now, even though the players appear to be writhing in pain, audience members cheer them on, shouting for more punishment. Some players were reluctant but most eventually give in. In fact, just 16 of the 80 backed down. The rest are swayed by the audience and the show's host.

Now, it turns out all of this is fake. There isn't really an electric current flowing through those wires. And the players who look like they're being tortured are actors actually, hired to play this part. Their agony, Campbell, all just part of a show.

BROWN: So why would they do a thing like that?

KAYE: Well, that's what we wanted to know. And it is all part of this documentary airing on French TV tonight which looks at the power of persuasion and social behavior. The producers say it proves that people are willing to act against their own morals, their own principles when they're ordered to do something extreme by a source that they trust is legitimate. In this case the audience and, of course, the show's very glamorous host.

We asked a professor of psychology at Santa Clara who study social behavior to weigh in on all of this.


DR. JERRY BURGER, PSYCHOLOGY PROFESSOR, SANTA CLARA: They're in a situation where they have to act quickly. They can't stop and think about what is the right thing to do. They have to act right now. All of those things lead people to respond to the situational cues. Everybody is torn. Nobody in the original experiment or in this study, I'm sure, thought that this was a lot of fun or something they enjoy doing, but they could not find a way to stop themselves from going along with it.


KAYE: Now the blind obedience in this case is being compared to the behavior of German soldiers ordered to commit atrocities inside Nazi concentration camps. But the show's whole premise is based on an experiment actually from the 1960s at Yale. In that case, a similar method of shocking or fake shocking was used to show the power of authority and obedience. In that case, 65 percent of the participants chose to go with the maximum electrical shock available which was 400 volts.

BROWN: I can't -- this just really --

KAYE: It really says something about man, doesn't it?

BROWN: Creeps me out. What is it -- I mean, what's the lesson here?

KAYE: The lesson is that even the most well-adjusted person can be swayed to act in horrendous ways if the situation leads them to it. That anyone is vulnerable to this.

BROWN: Oh, I hope that's not the case.

KAYE: Yes.

BROWN: Randi Kaye, it's fascinating. Really, really curious to see that documentary. Thanks for being here. Appreciate it.

KAYE: Sure.

BROWN: Coming up, an update on Baby Jenny. You may remember Baby Jenny. She was the Haitian infant who was found alive in the rubble. She is making a remarkable recovery and being reunited with her parents. We're going to have that story coming up.


BROWN: Another pre-sex abuse scandal and a 30-year cover-up by the Catholic church. That CNN special investigation is coming up. But first, more must-see news happening right now and Mike Galanos here with tonight's "Download."

Hey, Mike.

MIKE GALANOS, HLN PRIME NEWS: Hey, Campbell. First off, some jarring video literally, as an afternoon commute in Houston really took a scary turn on Monday.

This dramatic video from inside a metro bus shows the moment of crash into a train. You see the impact there. Bus was going about 30 miles an hour. Police say the driver blew through a red light. Passengers thrown around. You saw the driver take a hit there. Nineteen people were hurt. And this is the second train/bus collision at that same intersection just over a month. They've got some investigating to do there.

President Obama isn't due in Indonesia until next week, but there may already have been plenty of sightings. That's because the president has a double, kind of anyway. He's a 34-year-old Indonesian photographer. You see a similar resemblance there with the president. So when Barack Obama won, his buddies say come on, we're going to take your picture. So he puts on a suit and tie. They get it on the Internet. Then the offer starts floating in. Television, movies, commercials, coming in from all over Southeast Asia, so much so this guy has even written an autobiography after all that.

Finally this, the White House has gone green and it has nothing to do with the environments. I think you know what we're going with this.

First Lady Michelle Obama had the fountains on the North and South Lawn dyed green today in celebration of St. Patrick's Day. President Obama's mother's ancestors, by the way, can be traced back to Ireland. He joked with the Irish prime minister today that they may be cousins.

Campbell, back to you.

BROWN: I think they did that last year too, didn't they?

GALANOS: Yes. Yes.

BROWN: Yes, I thought I remembered that green fountain. OK. Mike Galanos -- Mike, thanks.


BROWN: Coming up, Ireland's shameful export, all part of the scandal that is rocking the Vatican. Our special investigation when we come back.


BROWN: Into Ireland, tonight, the Catholic church in crisis. A report admitting 30 years of widespread child abuse and cover-up is leaving the faithful reeling. And as our special investigation found, some of the abusers were exported to the United States. We should warn you, this story is disturbing.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It came suddenly from her past. As her marriage fell apart, her sister suffered from depression and alcoholism as she was trying to understand why her mother had a mental breakdown. Helen McGonigle, a 48-year-old lawyer, was sitting alone in her quiet house in Connecticut when it happened. Flashback to when she was just 6 years old revealing a long repressed memory of the Irish Catholic priest who fondled, then raped, then sodomized her.

HELEN MCGONIGLE, ABUSE SURVIVOR: I was just trying to think and relax and settle down, and that's when it hit me.

GRIFFIN: What hit her was the memory of a monster dressed in white. Father Brendan Smith at the back sliding glass door of her bedroom, dressed in white priest robes, who for nearly two years would abuse her, her sister and even her own mother.

(on camera): A priest basically breaking into you and or sister's bedroom? A priest taking your sister out into the woods? A priest literally holding you down in your bed, turning you over and just raping you? This was a violent attack against your childhood.

MCGONIGLE: Yes, absolutely. And you know, the way I think of it now is all I wanted to do was escape, to fly away. There were little cubbies in my twin head that had a headboard with little cubbies. I just want to be tiny enough to hide in those little cubbies so he couldn't see me.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Brendan Smith died 12 years ago in an Irish prison, but the victims in the dozens across two continents, like Helen McGonigle, are living reminders of the crimes of this pedophile priest at the center of a sex scandal in the Irish Catholic church. McGonigle, looking back on her life, now believes Father Brendan Smith raped her, her sister and even her mother, driving her mother mad, driving her sister to suicide.

MCGONIGLE: My mom was found hysterical on our front lawn, half- naked screaming the pope owes me, acting like she was a rape trauma victim. I mean, that's basically what it says to me. I believe Smith attacked her. I believe that's what caused her breakdown.

You have to understand, my mom was also a devout Catholic. Her brother was a seminarian. And my mom was offered a full scholarship to Notre Dame and turned it down because she felt that she should never take anything from the church. So for the same person to be on the front lawn saying the pope owes me, she was really mad.

GRIFFIN: By the time he reached Helen and her family, this smiling Irish priest had already abused dozens. Records dating back to the 1950s show Smith was moved from parish to parish, Ireland to Scotland to Wales to Northern Ireland, to Rhode Island, to North Dakota, each time under a cloud of suspicion or worse, after a family came forward to report the priest was an abuser.

MCGONIGLE: Four kids in one family in Ireland, you know. Brothers and sisters, sisters and sisters.

GRIFFIN (on camera): You later in life, obviously, approached your sister about it. She couldn't handle it, huh? MCGONIGLE: She couldn't handle it because I think she was asked by my mother not to say anything. I mean, this is something that she probably swore to my mom that she would never bring it up.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Helen's sister Kathleen took her own life in 2005. The Irish Catholic church is now dealing with an unprecedented crisis after a three and a half year government investigation ended with this report, the Murphy report, revealing three decades of child sexual abuse being covered up by the Catholic archdiocese in Dublin. Four Irish archbishops have already resigned. Irish Bishop Joseph Duffy whose own diocese is dealing with its own abuse and cover-up, admitted to the press that the very future of the Catholic church in Ireland is at stake.

BISHOP JOSEPH DUFFY: I would admit quite frankly what everybody else knows. I showed you from (INAUDIBLE) that the church has been seriously wounded.

GRIFFIN: In her Connecticut home, Helen McGonigle is dealing with her own crisis. Once repressed memories of Father Brendan Smith now haunt her. She is suing the Catholic diocese of Providence, Rhode Island. The church is already paying for her therapy. She says six others from her parish have come forward to say they too were abused by Father Brendan Smith, including one of her childhood friends, a neighbor. What she wants most of all from the church, she says, is an apology for destroying her family and an acknowledgment that the church knowingly placed a pedophile into her parish. So far she says she's received neither.

(on camera): Do you think anybody feels bad for what happened to you?

MCGONIGLE: I think that they are so hardened at this point that they've lost that sense about them, that compassion, that empathy. They're just hoping that we go away, we die off. There's many of us who haven't survived, like my sister, and that they can contain the problem and protect the institution of the church. It's a brotherhood of priests and that's what it is. It's not a spiritual organization.


BROWN: That was Drew Griffin reporting there.

"LARRY KING LIVE" is starting in just a few minutes, but up next, Baby Jenny's long journey nearly over. She was severely injured in Haiti's earthquake. Well, now, she is being reunited with her parents. We'll have that. A good news story when we come back.


BROWN: "LARRY KING LIVE" starts in just a few minutes. But first, an update on the story of Baby Jenny. She was found in the ruins of Haiti's earthquake and flown to Florida for treatment. Authorities thought she was an orphan, but today the state of Florida confirmed with DNA tests what her parents already believed that she was their child. And Elizabeth Cohen has more on this very good news story.

Elizabeth, so many twists and turns, too, for this family. Just tell people again how this happened.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. What happened was that this baby was caught in the rubble for five days all by herself. If you can believe it, a 2-month-old baby survived five days in the rubble all by herself. Now once they found her, they rushed her to the hospital where I spent the week right after the earthquake. You can see the doctors working on her, trying to stabilize her. They told me, we thought she was going to die. They couldn't even get an IV in her arm, Campbell. They had to put it through her bone marrow. That's how dehydrated she was. But they were able to stabilize her and they put her on an airplane to Miami and they were really, they were just amazed at how she was able to survive.

So what happened was they thought she was an orphan. They didn't realize that she had -- she actually had a name or that she had parents. They had no idea. Then a couple came forward and said we think that's our baby and they were told yesterday yes, there was a DNA test and you are the parents.

And you see this is Nadine Devilme and Junior Alexis, the mom and dad. The Red Cross took them to their facility yesterday to make the happy announcement. And in court today, the announcement was made as well. And when the judge who was in the court heard that this baby now has a name, Baby Jenny, the judge said Halleluiah -- Campbell.

BROWN: I mean, it is such a great story to know that these parents must feel so relieved. Very quickly, I got to ask so many kids taken so quickly out of Haiti in all of the chaos. Do you think there's any chance there are more children like this out there who actually aren't orphans?

COHEN: You know, we've been told by a federal source that he doesn't know of another baby in Jenny's situation who was taken out of Haiti for medical reasons, thought to be an orphan but actually wasn't. So if you're talking about babies taken out for medical reasons, Jenny seems to be in a class by herself. However, there may have been other children who were taken out and thought to be orphans who aren't. But she appears to be the only one who was taken out for medical reasons.

BROWN: All right, Elizabeth Cohen. Elizabeth, thank you. That's it for us. We're out of time.

"LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.