Return to Transcripts main page
ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Boehner: Presidents Wants to Annihilate Republicans; Pentagon to Lift Restrictions on Women in Combat; Apple Shares Plunge; Interview with Senator Ron Johnson
Aired January 23, 2013 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: The OUTFRONT five next, John Boehner says President Obama wants to annihilate Republicans. The Pentagon makes a bombshell announcement about women fighters and Apple shares plunge after hours. Would this have happened under the regime of Steve Jobs?
And wow, it's cold out there. So let's talk about global warming and Hillary Clinton gets heated about Benghazi. The man on the other end is our guest. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, everyone. I'm Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, showdown over Benghazi. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was on Capitol Hill today. She faced some really tough questions from the Senate and the House about the September 11th terror attacks in Libya that killed the United States ambassador and three other Americans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: We were misled that there were supposedly protests and something sprang out of that and that was easily ascertained that was not the fact and the American people could have known that within days and they didn't know that.
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: With all due respect, the fact is, we had four dead Americans, was it because of a protest or guys out for a walk one night and decided they'd go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: An OUTFRONT exclusive, Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. Senator Johnson, obviously, you hear that moment. That was your moment earlier today.
As the secretary said in such impassioned way, what difference does it make at this point what happened then when we need to prevent it from happening again? Does she have a point?
JOHNSON: Well, Erin, first of all, the reason it makes a difference is I think the American people first of all have the right to know what happened. American people also have the right to be told the truth. They should have an expectation, this administration, this president, will be honest with them.
And so it makes a big deal of difference. I tell you what I was surprised by Secretary Clinton's reaction to that because it was a pretty simple question. All I was wondering was why didn't you just call the evacuees and find out, was there a protest or wasn't there protest?
It could then easily -- you know that information could be easily obtained within a day or two. We wouldn't have had to go through these weeks of misinformation.
BURNETT: Look, clearly there were issues that happened at that the time, but I'm curious about this. And the reason I want to ask sit two weeks ago, the only person in custody for questioning was released and greeted by fellow rebels.
Now, the United States, of course as you know, has intercepts of communications from the attackers on the night of the actual attack on September 11th so there appears to be some sort of trail that's obviously been very hard to follow.
The former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes, told our program that no one may ever be held accountable for this attack because of the ongoing chaos. So Secretary Clinton, when she was asked today whether this person was involved in the Algeria attack, the one who's been free, she said we don't have any information about that.
I'm curious your point of view. I mean, isn't the bigger issue now still not what happened last fall, but holy cow, we might never have anybody go to jail for this?
JOHNSON: Nor held accountable for the State Department. That's really the point I was trying to make. I am incredulous. These are security professionals that did a fabulous job on the ground in Benghazi, but the fact we didn't have a standard operating procedure to immediately brief these people so we could get the information.
That's what we were told in a hearing earlier that there was -- there was no debriefing. No after action report and that's basically what Secretary Clinton again confirmed today. It would have been so important to talk to those individuals immediately so their memory is fresh.
I mean, every day that goes by, that information degrades, so I was stunned by the secretary's lack of concern for the fact the Tunisians released that one suspect. They said they were going to take these guys and they are going to punish the people, but they don't appear to really be pursuing that very aggressively.
BURNETT: Do you accept then that no one may ever go to jail for this? I mean, it sounds like from what you're saying and I mean, I'm not trying to take you out of context. I know you're not going this far, but you're saying it's more important to say what happened at that moment than to put people in jail and hold people accountable now?
JOHNSON: No, listen. I think we need to hold people accountable. We need to find the perpetrators and punish them. We also have to honestly take a look at the mistakes were made. By the way, this is the failure of leadership before, during and after the attack.
Primarily before and after and it is important to analyze what went wrong so we can protect Americans, brave Americans who are putting their lives on the line, our diplomatic corps. We have to learn from those mistakes, but yet I was asking just a very simple question.
Why wasn't a phone call made? Why didn't we find out was there a pro test or wasn't there so we didn't mislead the American people for weeks. We could have put an end to that controversy so we could have moved on to actually analyze what went wrong and correct that quickly so that other Americans won't at risk.
BURNETT: Secretary Clinton was very emotional during her testimony. She was emotional in that moment with you where she was very impassioned in talking about what she believes is important. She was also emotional on a personal level. I wanted to play that and get reaction. Here she is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: For me, this is not just a matter of policy. It's personal. I stood next to President Obama as the Marines carried those flag draped caskets off the plane at Andrews. I put my arms around the mothers and fathers, the sisters and brothers, the sons and daughters. And the wives left alone to raise their children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Now, obviously she was prepared to talk about that, but still, that was emotion. She was choking up. Do you believe that that was real?
JOHNSON: Absolutely. Listen, we all mourn for the loss of those four brave Americans. Listen, when you're in an organization and something happens below, you're going to take that personally. I understand that. That was part of my point.
You know, I've managed people, if something like that were to happen on my watch, you couldn't have gotten me not to call those individuals. How are things going? Are you OK? Can we do anything for your families?
The next question I would have asked, what happened? That was kind of my point. Why weren't those phone calls made? Why didn't we know immediately basic pieces of information?
BURNETT: So, you accept now, just curious, that they didn't know what happened as opposed to saying that perhaps they covered up or misled the American people about for example whether it was opportunistic or pre-planned whether al Qaeda linked groups were involved or not?
JOHNSON: Erin, I have no idea. I find it hard to believe. If they didn't know it was willful ignorance or just gross incompetence, the point I was trying to make, this was so easy to ascertain whether they were protests or not. From my standpoint, this administration just clung to that narrative because if bin laden was dead, al Qaeda was on the run, all was well.
Their policy of withdrawing from the world of leading from behind is working and in fact, it wasn't working. It helped get this president-elected by misleading the American public, but now, the chickens are coming home to roost and we're certain to find the truth and we're going to continue to pursue this until we find the truth.
BURNETT: All right, Senator, I want to ask you one other question based on what your Republican colleague, Rand Paul, said today. It was a pretty strong statement. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Had I been president at the time and I found that you did not read the cables from Benghazi, you did read the cables from Ambassador Stevens, I would have relieved you of your post. I think it's inexcusable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Do you agree with Senator Paul?
JOHNSON: No, I'd say the issue is moot right now because Hillary Clinton is moving on and Senator Kerry's stepping up to the plate probably, so that's Rand Paul's opinion.
BURNETT: Do you think she's make a good president if she's elected? And I have to ask that because 67 percent of this country viewed her favorably. Her unfavorable is 28 percent. The president, anybody in this country would die for that.
JOHNSON: Listen, the people on the other side of the aisle aren't taking the fact this nation's going bankrupt seriously. So she's a member of that party, we haven't passed a budget in the United States Senate for almost four years. So no, I don't think she's made a very good president.
BURNETT: And finally, sir, the president, according to a new book, the reporter, Michael Hastings just wrote it. President Obama called the widow of one of the people who died in Benghazi, Sean Smith, the day after the attack and said, promise to, quote/unquote, "avenge the deaths of Americans." Do you believe him?
JOHNSON: Well, I'll take him as his word. But you know, that was another curious question I would like to ask Secretary Clinton is why when those bodies were coming home, she went up to Tyrone Woods' father and said we were going to bring this guy who created this video to justice. I mean, what happens what was that about? They're just trying to continue to perpetuate this false narrative. This wasn't caused by the fact that al Qaeda was on the rise. This was caused by something that had to do -- this administration, they're misleading the American public.
BURNETT: All right, Senator Johnson, thank you for taking the time tonight. Sir, we appreciate it.
Still to come, we're facing some of the coldest temperatures in years in this country. Some scientists say it's due to global warming, climate. Does it add up?
Plus, Apple's shares plunging after the stock market closed today, who is to blame?
And Manti Te'O admits he lied, so is he telling the truth now?
BURNETT: Our second story, OUTFRONT, deep freeze. It's the talk for a lot of people in this country tonight. The sub zero temperatures creating dangerous conditions for areas that have not felt the extreme chill in years. We got very spoiled here in New York.
It was kind of springtime all winter. The cold now is blamed for at least four deaths. This is very serious in this country and it follows the warmest year on record. Some scientists are blaming global warming for these ups and downs, but the public doesn't seem so convinced.
The number of people who believe in global warming is actually down 8 percentage points from 2008. Only 45 percent believe it is a manmade problem, which is down from 54 percent back in 2008.
OUTFRONT tonight, Erick Erickson, editor of the conservative blog redstate.com and John Avlon. Good to see you both. So, Erick, you know, the president in his inauguration speech took on those who don't believe in climate change. He made that choice to focus on it. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, crippling drought and more powerful storms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Erick, it sort of surprised me to look at the polls and see that fewer and fewer people seem to believe this is a problem or a manmade problem. Maybe it was the Al Gore effect when it hit its peak or something like that. But it seemed like people would get warmed up. ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, it seems to me that the biggest problem that global warming aggregates have is every time the conversation comes up is there's a snowstorm and instead of the winter, more people would buy into it. The biggest problem is that, what does it matter?
Say the president does do something with global warming? China and India aren't going to. Our missions are down below what they were in 2005. India and China are going up. We could shut down production of everything tomorrow that causes greenhouse gases.
And China and India aren't and even if everyone did, the effects wouldn't take effect until about 100 years from now. So seems like it's a problem we have to get used to as opposed to something we can cure.
BURNETT: All right, interesting point, although I will say John Avlon, we still emit more than China emits, at least per person. We're back-to-back where we were, Erick is right, but there's still that problem. Conservatives are already on the attack about what the president said in his inauguration speech.
"Americans for Prosperity," which of course is financed by the Koch brothers said his address reads like liberal laundry list with global warming at the top. Americans have projected environmental extremism in the past and they will again.
Now, this didn't used to be an issue. Again, it's back in the Al Gore days when it was a popular bipartisan thing. You had Newt Gingrich and Nancy Pelosi standing together talking about global warming. What the heck has changed? First of all, that picture is just so -- creepy.
JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: But look at that togetherness. We did have that, right. I mean, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Marco Rubio, Newt Gingrich, all you know talking about climate change saying we need to address it. What change you ask?
I think two things. First of all, the great recession, when people are concerned about the economy, issues that are important like climate change fall down the scale. The second, the rise of the Tea Party, they all of a sudden, among folks on the right, this became a litmus test issue.
Are you willing to work with the other side? Newt Gingrich took a lot of heat for that ad with Nancy Pelosi during the campaign. Those two factors drive this issue down, but something like Hurricane Sandy, well, that could be a wake-up call for folks.
BURNETT: And Hurricane Sandy, Erick, cost a lot of money. Now, it's tough with all the pork that went in the bills. All right, but bear with me, we got a $50 billion appropriation that just came to affected states. That cost a lot of money.
So might it not, even if we're not really sure what a cut in emissions might do right now to the trajectory of the climate change that we've experienced, mite it not be worth trying to do something about things? You know, whether through carbon monoxide emissions, CO2?
ERICKSON: No, I don't think so. No matter what we do, we're not going to have the impact unless the rest of the world goes along and we're going to drive up cost on some people. For example, the EPA regulations on coal fire plants, 19 just shut down in Georgia costing 800 jobs.
Do people really want to do things like that nationwide when other nations, the Brit countries, China, Russia, India, Brazil aren't going to do them, probably not. Long-term, it's probably not going to have an impact. We've had extreme weather in the past. The 1950s had more extreme weather than now.
Unless people start seeing that it's conforming to some pre- conceived notions, most people aren't going to buy into it and it doesn't help that sciences have to keep changing the language from global warming to climate change to now extreme weather.
AVLON: But look, Erin, Erick makes a good point to the extent that a multilateral treaty is a nonstarter, but China is doing things. They are making huge investments in the green technology, green energy.
That toxic smog in Beijing, that's going to be an issue of competitiveness. They're going to start taking action. The real question is this. Can we acknowledge natural forces that are largely within ourselves and still try to do something about what we acknowledge to be a real problem or say we're omnipotent to solvent?
That's not frankly the American way. We need to -- we should have a debate on how you deal with this not being denied.
BURNETT: I agree with you on that because I'm just curious on this. It happened -- temperature fluctuations in the past, right. Erick points that out. But recently, there was this amazing study. The corals are going to die because of hot water.
Well, apparently, there are these corals that are thriving and they don't know whether other corals will or not. Nobody knows, but I'm asking you if we don't fully understand what's happening and how it's adjusting, how can the government do anything about it?
AVLON: Look, that's a fair point. I'm not saying throwing money at the problem is the answer. That maybe evidence of evolution.
BURNETT: I don't know. It's one thing.
AVLON: That's the larger point though, right? We should have a sense of humility, but we should take action to solve problems and if we don't, if one political party says it shouldn't be talked about, it looks like you're coddling flat earth society folks. I mean, you really need to be able to deal with fact and propose solution. Let's have the debate there.
BURNETT: All right, thanks.
ERICKSON: The facts are --
BURNETT: Quick wrap. All right, I was going to let him get another five seconds, but he was quiet when I asked. Thanks to both.
OUTFRONT next, House Speaker John Boehner says he's convinced the president plans to annihilate the GOP.
And Apple's shares tanking after hours, who's to blame?
BURNETT: Our third story, Apple. Is it losing its luster? Tonight, Apple reported its slowest sales growth in four years and profits were flat. That is a big ouch for the world's most valuable company. Tonight, Apple shares are plunging. This is a really big drop for a company like this.
It is the biggest company in the world, down more than 10 percent after the close of trading today. Since the debut of the highly anticipated iPhone 5 in September, the company has lost an estimated $178 billion in stock market value and I'm not even counting what's happening tonight.
So can Apple go up without Steve Jobs? Bob Cringely is a tech blogger who worked for Steve Jobs during Apple's earliest days. He knows the genius. He knows the works and he's OUTFRONT tonight.
And Bob, it's good to see you. I appreciate it. My question to you is really this. There are so many people out there, they worship the cult of Apple and there's a lot of people out there who have made a lot of money on Apple shares.
The company said it sold 47.8 million iPhones this quarter, but companies like Verizon says only half the phones they sold were Apple. That Apple is not the dominant power it once seemed to be. Samsung phones are doing pretty darn well. Is Apple coming back to reality?
ROBERT CRINGELY, TECH BLOGGER: Yes, to a certain extent I suppose. In a maturing market, they are. If I were investing, I would say buy, buy, buy.
CRINGELY: This is a short-term aberration. It's a huge buying opportunity. Probably the stock will go back up tomorrow when that sinks in. Apple is an extraordinary story and the drama of it plays to the traders' strengths where they are looking for volatility and they're getting volatility.
But frankly, the company's incredibly strong and has great opportunities and if you look for example, last week, Tim Cook, Apple's CEO said that Apple's biggest market was going to be China where they barely penetrated now. Another way of saying that is that a third of the world was unavailable to them and now is. BURNETT: I have to say every young child I talk to in China, they all want the iPhone. They don't have it. They have cheap knock offs, because it's too expensive for them now, which just leads me to the question I wanted to ask you.
Samsung is selling more phones than Apple. Samsungs are more popular than Apple in some places, but Apple still does have that cache, but can Apple compete without Samsung without selling a cheaper phone, without cutting its price? Something Steve Jobs never ever wanted to do?
CRINGELY: Well, I think they'll do both. I think that they'll produce a regional product that will maybe be limited to China and countries like China. At the same time, Apple's success has been from developing new markets and frankly, the Samsung phones, courts have said, sure looks like a copy to us.
And in this instance, there will be another iPhone classification, iPad, iPod, iTunes, whatever you call it, you know, the next one is coming. There are still products that Steve Jobs was working on before he died that have not yet been introduced.
BURNETT: And obviously, apple's betting on those. But let me just ask you this, Steve Jobs died in October of 2011. The company has done well under Tim Cook since then. Now, if, and this is a big if, because betting against Apple never paid off for anybody, but if Apple does have some issues now that turned out to be longer term.
Are they Tim Cook's fault or are they Steve Jobs' fault? Because isn't Tim Cook doing just what Steve Jobs wanted, he's rolling out his products, keeping his view on pricing and marketing, everything.
CRINGELY: Well, to a certain extent, but Tim Cook isn't Steve Jobs. I don't think he's trying to be Steve Jobs. For one thing, the Steve Jobs' job, there you go, was a very difficult act to follow, but he had an advantage and that was in each case, he was pioneering a new product category from nothing.
Whereas Tim Cook is in mature markets and he is having to carry those products a little bit further, a little bit deeper in. Where Steve would say, to heck with that, let's just start something new and he'd start a new wave over and over and over again.
The problem here is the Warren Buffett problem. You know, Warren Buffett can't find companies big enough to buy and Apple is having a little bit of trouble finding markets big enough to enter when you are a $400 billion company.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much. Appreciate your time.
And still to come, the Pentagon plans to open new doors to women in the military, meaning women actually fighting on the front line.
And Manti Te'O admits he lied.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BURNETT: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT.
We start with stories we care about where we focus on our reporting from the front lines.
The family of former linebacker Junior Seau is suing the NFL and helmet maker Riddell, claiming his suicide was a result of a brain disease that was caused by violent hits during his two-decade career. Seau died of a self-inflicted gun shot wound to the chest last year. And his family tells OUTFRONT the suit will send a message to the NFL to care for its former players to acknowledge what they call decades of deception on the issue of head injuries and player safety.
Well, the House has passed a bill that would prevent the United States from hitting the debt ceiling, at least right away. This isn't a long term fix. It's called -- it's dubbed the "No Budget, No Pay" act. The bill was proposed by Republicans and it lets the Treasury Department borrow money until mid-May as long as Congress passes a budget by April 15th. Now, if lawmakers don't come up with a blue print for a budget, the measure states their pay will be withheld.
Now, to be honest with you, the Constitution doesn't allow the no pay thing to really happen. So, that was really a P.R. stunt. Any way, that's why the act passed, 285-144, 33 Republicans, 111 Democrats voted against it.
One Dem who did, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and she tells us the bill wasn't a clean debt ceiling increase and only prolonged economic uncertainty. It only extends it for a few months. She's right about that.
In the last 48 hours or so, U.S. cargo planes had made at least five trips into Mali, transporting about 80 French troops and more than 124 tons of supplies. A spokesman for the U.S. Africa Command tells us the air lifts began Monday are going to go on for several more days.
The America's -- our country's role in Mali and whether we should have a role is becoming more of a concern. I couldn't help but notice this on the front page of Yahoo! earlier today. The poll today asking you, should the United States intervene in Mali? The latest results saw a majority of people say no.
The FAA still hasn't determined what's causing electrical problems on Boeing 787 Dreamliner, telling reporters they're still evaluating the idea. The National Transportation Safety Board meanwhile says the battery pulled from a Dreamliner that caught fire at Boston's Logan Airport showed signs of thermal damage.
Aviation expert Michael Boyd tells us he's never seen an investigation like this, where the FAA says the plane is safe and then ground it. He says the FAA has egg all over its face.
Well, it's been 538 days since this country lost its top credit rating. What are we going to get back? Well, the IMF says the economy will grow by 2 percent this year, but you know what? That's really not very good and that the U.S. needs to work on entitlement reform, no matter what your elected officials tell you.
Now, our fourth story OUTFRONT: women on the front line.
A groundbreaking decision from the Pentagon: CNN has learned that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will announce a lift on the ban against women serving in combat positions in all branches of the Armed Forces. This is pretty incredible. This move -- I mean, just to give you a sense of its significant, could open up 230,000 front line jobs to women in the military.
OUTFRONT tonight, Rosa Brooks. She's a columnist for "Foreign Policy" and has worked in the Pentagon under the Obama administration. And David Frum, former speechwriter for George W. Bush and a contributor for us.
Rosa, right now, 15 percent of active duty personnel are women. But, obviously, they're not in combat position. As we said, this could be hundreds of thousand of jobs suddenly would be open to women.
Am I right in saying this is hugely significant?
ROSA BROOKS, FORMER PENTAGON OFFICIAL: It's absolutely enormous. The one thing I would say though, it's not that we don't have women in combat positions. We have women who are ineligible under the former policy for combat military occupational specialties.
But there really isn't any front line in today's wars. We've got women who were out there in combat. We've got women who are fighting heroically in combat. We've got women who have already died in combat.
This change just recognizes what's already a reality, frankly.
BURNETT: All right. David, please be blunt. I know what you have to say is, you know, might offend some people, but this is important. Why do you think women in combat is not a good idea?
DAVID FRUM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first, I think we need to stress -- this is quite an abstract notion. The number of women who will seek and qualify for combat specialties is likely to be quite minimal. But of those who do, I think there are three concerns that I would point to as to why this is not a good idea.
The first -- the first is, that we are going to see, as we have already seen, the expansion roles of women steady downward pressure on military qualifications, reductions and strength and endurance requirements in order to get numbers up.
The second, in the -- that I would really worry about, is the risk of harm to female personnel. The people we are likely to meet on the next battlefield are people who use rape and sexual abuse as actual tools of politics. What is -- in Iranian prisons, rape is a frequent practice.
BROOKS: David, if I could just interrupt, men get raped, too, you know? Men get raped, too, with probably as much frequency in the prisons.
FRUM: We will turn to that. Let me just make one more point then have the talking stick as long as you want.
In Iran, in Pakistan, in Afghanistan, rape is a conscious tool of subjugation. And it will be - it is something that women will be exposed to. In the name of equal opportunity, they will face unequal risk.
And the third point and one I think we should give real thought to is the stress on military families. We already lose a lot of officers at the major and colonel level because of the strained families. For those military spouses who are not in combat, who are not deployed, this is one more reason to worry about the high rate of family break up that we already see among military personnel.
BROOKS: David, I --
BURNETT: Rosa, what about that point?
BROOKS: I think -- David, forgive me, I think you're dead wrong on all those points.
On the last, you're absolutely right. There's been a lot of strain on military families. The solution to that is not to deny women the opportunity to serve in combat positions. The solution to that is to re-jigger the military personnel system to do a better job of making sure that families do not have two parents at risk at the same time and to allow greater flexibility.
On the issue of rape, frankly, it seems that if a woman is willing to assume the risk, just as our woman is willing to assume the risk of getting hurt or getting killed, just our men in combat will assume that risk, that's up to her. It's not for us to say you're not allowed to that risk if you want to. It's a risk men take, too.
And on the issue of standards dropping -- wow, I think it's the exact opposite. We are struggling to make sure that we can continue to recruit and retain the most qualified military personnel.
Right now, women for instance, go to college, graduate from college, get higher grades -- much higher rates than men. Don't we want to do everything we can to incentivize their inclusion in the military that relies less and less on sheer brawn?
BURNETT: It seems like and I don't say this to be negative about Leon Panetta, but part of the reason he's doing this may not just be equality. It maybe that after 10 years of war, it's hard to recruit men and that they may think they'd be more successful with women.
But, Rosa, you know, women are serving in combat positions in other countries. You know we're aware of that -- Israel, Australia, Denmark, Canada.
BROOKS: Absolutely. BURNETT: But there are jobs off limits for women in each of those places, different jobs that are off-limits. I mean, is there any position that you think a woman may not be able to do? IO mean, yes, some women are bigger and stronger than men, but most women are not as big and strong as men. I remember learning that much to my chagrin when I became a teenager and no longer was the fastest. They are built more physically than women.
BROOKS: I remember learning I couldn't beat up my little brother anymore. I didn't like that at all.
But, you know, it's absolutely fine to have gender-neutral standards of physical fitness and physical capability. Many women are less strong than most men, but some women are stronger than many men.
Right now, the Marine Corps already will allow men to join the Marine Corps if they are 4'10" tall and 96 pounds. So if the Marines Corps can make a man, or a Marine, out of a guy who's that small, it seems to me that the Marine Corps could use a few good women, too, because there are a whole lot of women, in fact, the overwhelming majority of women who are a great deal stronger and tougher than that.
FRUM: We honor people who make military careers, but the purpose of the military is not to make careers available for ambitious military officers. The purpose of the military is to be the most effective force. And the pressure will be strong, not only to grade standards, but also when we talked about the issue of abuse of personnel in combat, to keep things quiet.
There have been a lot of stories already, exactly the kind of abuse Rosa talks about and because politicians worry about the effect on public opinion at home, a lot of that gets suppressed and a lot of women are -- I think some may be put in harm's way without adequate information about who they're fighting and the particular kind of risk that is likely next enemy of the United States is going to be imposing on the female --
BROOKS: David, I think you're not giving women enough credit. I think you're absolutely not giving women enough credit.
FRUM: The rest of this planet -- the rest of this planet is not a gender neutral place.
BURNETT: All right. We're going to hit pause.
BROOKS: Absolutely not. You're --
BURNETT: I'm only going to hit pause there. I want to have you back -- both back to keep talking about this as this becomes a topic of conversation around this country. It's a tough one. It's a lot of issues about gender roles and mothers and fathers and who should be home with children and what choice as we all want to make. It's a tough question. And now, I want to move to the Manti Te'o hoax story. The former star Notre Dame football player has admitted he lied to the media and public after learning that the girl he met online didn't exist.
Now, in an interview with Katie Couric, Te'o was asked if it was somehow intoxicating to continue talking about his dead girlfriend when he knew it was not true.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANTI TE'O, NOTRE DAME LINEBACKER: I think, for me, the only thing that I basked in is that I could -- I had an impact on people, that people will turn to me and -- for inspiration. And I think that was the only thing I focused on. And my story, I felt was a guy who in times of hardship and times of really, you know, held strong to his faith, held strong to his family, and I felt that was my story.
KATIE COURIC, ABC/"KATIE" HOST: Even if that hardship was perhaps exaggerated?
TE'O: No, it was -- what I went through was real. You know, the feelings, the pain, the sorrow, that was all real.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: My question tonight, does Te'o's story that he was a victim add up or was he in on the hoax?
Dr. Drew Pinsky is the host of HLN's "Dr. Drew on Call" and he's OUTFRONT tonight.
Dr. Drew, here's the thing. You know, Te'o mentioned his girlfriend.
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST, HLN'S "DR. DREW ON CALL": Yes.
BURNETT: Assume that it was true, that he really, really fell for it. You know, and all this is true, but he didn't know she didn't exist and continued to talk publicly as if she did. So, we know that there was a lie there. If there's one lie, do you think there's more?
PINSKY: Well, that's exactly the question that each of us watching this story has to ask ourselves. I mean, we heard a similar public figure, an athletic figure who maintained his image to be an inspiration to people through a sustained lie over a period of time. So, all of us as viewers of media have to be skeptical when someone has a lie in one area, whether there's not perhaps a lot more going on, particularly when this thing doesn't add up. It really just doesn't add up.
The people that get involved in these catfishing schemes all for socially isolated, socially awkward, they haven't had previous relationships and he just doesn't fit any of those categories. You have to ask yourself how do this guy caught in this? And not only that, the NFL has to be asking themselves if they want to take on a liability of somebody that is that gullible. God knows there were people out there trying to take advantage of him. I'm not sure a team would want to take on that liability.
BURNETT: So, how does someone truly believe -- I guess this is the real question people have to ask themselves -- if you are, and I saw someone make a joke about this. It said, men, if you're dating online and you haven't met her, here's the headline, she's not your girlfriend. Now, this person was sort of making a joke.
But obviously, this is dead serious. How does someone truly believe they're in a real relationship with someone, a romantic relationship, if they have never physically met?
PINSKY: That's right. And the only way that happens is through fantasy. And certainly, the Internet is a place that feels intimate, but it is a pseudo intimacy. These are not real relationships.
PINSKY: And an average person, I dare say, a normal, healthy person, would recognize that and quickly move this into the flesh base -- a flesh meeting that some people call that, where people are actually in each other's presence and this has happened many times, where people are duped by phone calls or people given the wrong number. It happens in all sorts of spheres. But the average person will simply go forward and try to meet that person. When they can't, they realize there's no relationship there.
But to view this thing with a fantasy built only on your brain, not another person's, only you pouring your fantasy into this thing, that's not what you call healthy.
BURNETT: So do you think that Manti Te'o, you know, if he was deceived, had some psychological challenges? It sounds like you're saying yes.
PINSKY: You have -- I'm wondering. Listen, if he was that badly duped, you have to wonder what was going on there that would have -- but again, and then he sustains a lie, says he did meet her, didn't meet her. It gets very, very confusing.
The bottom line here I think for all of us is to stand by. There is more to be revealed, I guarantee you.
BURNETT: Now, there was -- the NFL today said that -- the Redskins, Washington Redskins players, some of them may have been victims of these sorts of scams where women seek them out online and become their girlfriend.
BURNETT: And I don't know whether they're trying to get gifts or money from them, I'm not sure what the situations were. But they did say it's possible some of their players could have been victims of this.
How common is it? Now, this is football again, but I mean -- it's kind of bizarre. PINSKY: MTV has a TV show about this called "Catfishing." It happens in younger populations, primarily. But the article about the Redskins, those players got duped, got sucked into what they thought was a relationship, and said, let's meet.
In every single case, after a few days of contact, and they did lots of checking, too, to try to figure out who this person was. She had lots of followers. There was lots of evidence that there was a person there, so good. Let's meet. That's what every single one of these guys did after a certain amount of contact, because that's what you do as an adult. You go have a relationship.
And, again, if Manti never had a relationship, if he had been socially isolated, if he had some liability with his ability to navigate in social environments, you don't have that evidence. So, you have to scratch your head and wonder what's going on here.
BURNETT: Yes, absolutely. And I mean, I guess, you know, it may sound awkward to say, but, you know, he's Mormon, and brought up to wait until sex -- don't have sex before marriage and maybe that played a role in it as well.
Well, thanks so much, Dr. Drew. And be sure to catch "Dr. Drew on Call" tonight at 9:00 on HLN. Tonight, he's looking into the story about the 15-year-old boy who killed his family in New Mexico. That's tonight on "Dr. Drew".
And the Speaker of the House John Boehner says the president's goal is to wipe out the Republican Party.
And an Australian eats something unusual and it lands him in court.
BURNETT: Now, let's check with Anderson Cooper with a look at what's coming up on "A.C. 360". Hey, Anderson.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Erin. We're keeping them honest tonight on the program.
We'll, of course, follow up on the Benghazi hearings. Bottom line: a bunch of grandstanding today. But we still don't have answers about what happened the night Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others were killed.
And it was her picture that Manti Te'o fell in love with. The young woman who had no idea her image was being used in an elaborate fraud plan. Diane Omer joins us tonight just days after finding out here role in the strangest against the Notre Dame football star.
Also, a new book shedding light on the Church of Scientology, its founder and interest in recruiting celebrities. The church is working hard to discredit both the book and its author, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, Lawrence Wright. We'll speak to Lawrence Wright, who said he spoke to hundreds of people, many former scientologists when writing the book.
Those stories and tonight's "Ridiculist" all at the top of the hour, Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Anderson. See you in a few minutes.
And now, our fifth story OUTFRONT: taking down the Republican Party.
House Speaker John Boehner told a group of Republicans that after listening to the president's inaugural address, he is convinced the president has just one goal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER: Should be clear to all of you that he knows he can't do any of that as long as the House is controlled by Republicans. And so, we're expecting to hear over the next 22 months, to be the focus of this administration as they attempt to annihilate the Republican Party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: They're doing a pretty good of that themselves right now. Is that really the president's goal?
OUTFRONT tonight, CNN contributors Roland Martin and Reihan Salam.
I couldn't resist, Reihan. I know you are trying not to laugh. I couldn't resist.
REIHAN SALAM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Erin, Erin, Erin, OK.
BURNETT: You are always your own worst enemy.
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: (INAUDIBLE) he had actually admitted to.
BURNETT: Reihan, here's what some of the president said in his inauguration speech on Monday. I want to play a clip to see if you take away what John Boehner takes away.
Here's the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and the growing many barely make it.
Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law.
Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SALAM: Here's the thing. I think fundamentally President Obama's speech was about portraying his particular domestic policy agenda as the working out of American history. This is where we're meant to go.
BURNETT: It was a liberal manifesto.
SALAM: Yes. And the explicit message of that is those that oppose his agenda are on the wrong side of history.
And my view is that, you know, what Speaker Boehner said is actually pretty banal. I think it's pretty clear that what President Obama repeatedly said during the campaign is that he wants to break the Republican fever. That doesn't necessarily mean annihilating the Republican Party as a party. It means making the Republican Party pretty much a miniature version of the Democratic Party.
That's what the president wants. That's what really all transformative presidents want to do. The trouble is --
BURNETT: They want everyone to agree with them. Why not? They want to be loved, man.
MARTIN: I try to figure out -- seriously, Speaker Boehner, what's the big deal? It's a big duh.
Look, if you're a Republican president --
MARTIN: -- or Democratic president, you don't want divided government. You want a House and a Senate that's in your hands.
Karl Rove, what did he talk about -- a permanent Republican majority. He was trying to set up a system where the country at least 50 percent would vote for a Republican president, Republican House, Republican Senate. It didn't last long.
So that's what you try to do.
Republicans love talking about Ronald Reagan. Why? The Reagan revolution.
To this day they talk about him. Why? Because from 1980, all the way through 2000 it's been all about Reagan. This is what you do.
I don't understand, Speaker Boehner.
BURNETT: All right. What about -- so issues like gay rights which he mentioned there. You could talk about right and wrong side of history. What about practicality, Roland? What does this do to a lot of Democrats who live in red states where people don't agree with that? They're running for re-election now in 2014.
MARTIN: Yes, but again, but that is one issue and it comes to voters. Do you vote based upon one issue or do you look at a variety of issues?
Same thing about the issue of choice. There are some people out there who say I am only going to vote based upon whether or not you are pro-choice or you are pro-life. Those are single voter issues.
When you actually look at polling data, you don't have a significant number of single issue voters in America. So, they are saying, hey, I might be for same-sex marriage or against it or pro- life or pro-choice, but if it's about finances, I might choose a different decision.
SALAM: I want to thank Roland for making my point for me, which is that fundamentally --
MARTIN: You're welcome.
SALAM: -- President Obama is engaging in what we like to call hubris. Here's the thing that happened, George W. Bush and Karl Rove thought they had a permanent majority. Guess what? It wasn't that permanent.
Ronald Reagan won 49 states, almost 60 percent of the vote. And guess what? His majority didn't last forever either.
The simple truth is that the more successful you are when you win a big victory, it also means that Democrats are representing Silicon Valley billionaires and struggling immigrants in the inner city. When you're representing both of those groups, there are tensions in your coalition and then that coalition you win one day, you lose the next.
BURNETT: Well, nobody likes anybody. Even if you like somebody, they get too big for their britches and too in control, and American people tend to say, you know what, enough of you.
MARTIN: But here's the piece that Speaker Boehner is missing that Democrats have a problem with. Republicans have been doing very well on the state level. So when Howard Dean was head of DNC, he kept talking about a 50-state strategy. Frankly, Democrats have abandoned that.
And so, that's what you look at. So, Republicans are in governor mansions, House and Senate on the stateside. So, this whole notion that you're going to have one party in control annihilating is nonsense. It's not going to happen.
SALAM: Great point.
BURNETT: Thanks very much. It's nice to hear vocabulary coming out of Washington.
BURNETT: It's better than some of the other terms we've heard that they have used of camera talking about each other recently, in the meeting on the debt ceiling.
All right. Still to come, huge legal news. A judge rules that -- well, you can eat all of the flowers you want and we have a real problem with this. We're going to explain.
BURNETT: We have big legal news today. An Australian fined for eating flowers has beat the rap. So, earlier this month, a man named James and his friend, Gary, were visiting the Sidney Museum of Contemporary Art. And while they were standing outside, Gary got hungry and he saw flowers. And you know, flowers are really in right now in those fancy, organic salads. So, he ate one.
Now, before he could finish though, the cops showed up and fined the pair the equivalent of $460 for vandalism. The two disagreed with the fine and went to court to challenge it. And finally, after a lengthy hearing with arguments from both sides, a judge ruled that even though the accused had been eating the flowers when police arrived, there was no evidence that Gary intended to vandalize the vegetation.
Now, sometimes you just get a little hungry. And as you can imagine, James and Gary were happy with the verdict. James -- that's who you saw there, he said, "Gary's name has been cleared of the slander. He was simply eating. I want to thank everyone for coming down here. You taught the cops a valuable lesson. Don't bite off more than you can chew."
Sounds like a strange case, right? Well, you haven't heard the strangest part yet, which is that the defendant, Gary, was not even allowed in the courtroom during the trial. Why?
All right. Well, this is Gary. Yes, that's Gary. Gary is a goat. And you know what? Goats eat flowers. And a police officer actually took the time to write a goat a ticket for eating a flower.
And then they held a hearing. You know what? Taxpayers paid for all of this, people. And, strangely, no one seems too angry about it.
We know laws are important. But they should not replace common sense. It feels like the world is becoming more and more litigious every day.
And while you might laugh at a story like this, if you stop to think about the bigger problem it represents, you know what? It really gets your goat.
"ANDERSON COOPER 360" starts now.