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AC 360 LATER

Christie Scandals; NSA Surveillance Changes

Aired January 13, 2014 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, everyone. Welcome to "AC360 Later." Thanks for joining us.

Tonight: a new headache for Governor Chris Christie, new doubts about whether NSA eavesdropping is keeping us safe, new developments in the case of the so-called cursing toddlers. We will be joined by one of the former NBA starts who witnessed Dennis Rodman's epic rant. He was with him in North Korea. Also, the Golden Globes and why childless couples are so happy.

A reminder, you can join the conversation by tweeting with #AC360later. Or weigh in Facebook.com/#AC360.

We're going to show your comments at the bottom of the screen during the program.

With us tonight, chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, author and syndicated columnist Dan Savage, also political commentator and GOP consultant Margaret Hoover.

Great to have you all here.

We begin with the story first reported by CNN's Chris Frates, Chris Christie now under federal investigation for using Sandy relief money to pay for an ad campaign designed to bring tourism back to the storm-damaged Jersey Shore. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Jersey Shore is open.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The word is spreading.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Because we're stronger than the storm.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You bet we are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: The ads feature Christie and his family. Critics say they more about pumping up his image than promoting New Jersey tourism. His office says the ads were part of an action plan approved by the Obama administration. Obviously this comes right in the middle of the George Washington Bridge scandal. Let's talk about. Also joining us is chief political analyst Gloria Borger, who has been covering this story all day.

Talk about the politics behind all of this, Gloria, the person who is pushing this story. Are politics involved?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I would be shocked to think there were not politics involved in the state of New Jersey.

Yes, look, people see a weakness right now in Chris Christie. This story about that you just referred that Chris Frates reported about the money for the ads, the story is that the ads would have been a lot cheaper if they hadn't included the family.

A Democratic congressman, Frank Pallone of New Jersey, who is an enemy , a political enemy of Chris Christie's, asked for this investigation into how the money was spent last August.

COOPER: Why would the ads have been cheaper if they hadn't included the family?

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Is the family that hard to book?

(LAUGHTER)

BORGER: That's a very good question. That's a very good question.

So, we're trying to get the answer to that. He asked the inspector general to look into how the money was spent and whether it was well spent and that was last summer. So now the inspector general said, yes, this is worthy of a serious investigation.

The fact that it leaked out at this particular time, I think you would have to say is a little bit politically suspect.

COOPER: Right.

Margaret.

MARGARET HOOVER, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: And to the question you are asking, it appears as though part of the $60 billion given to New Jersey there was a line item for marketing budget.

The most expensive line item for this marketing was a $4 million line item the included the Christie family. And then if they had not pursued that, the next best option was a $2 million marketing video that would not have included the company. Nobody knows who decided to go with the more expensive option.

DAN SAVAGE, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: The $2 million and the $4 million figures are just for the production of the commercial. They spent $25 million airing it all over the country in advance of his presidential bid and his reelection campaign in Jersey. It's all a little smelly.

BORGER: But it was a -- but the other side of the argument is that this is to say to people, look, the Jersey Shore is open for business, just as was done after Hurricane Katrina, for example. Come visit New Jersey.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: But I still don't understand why the commercials with the Christie family would be more expensive than ones without.

HOOVER: My understanding is higher production value. Right? You have to go to the shore, you have to get everyone out. You put makeup on them and you dress them up. You have them rehearse lines.

(CROSSTALK)

SAVAGE: Food services, catering.

HOOVER: Look, the issue, I think, here, is that you have a challenge with Christie. You have two stories now where it looks like he has gone for a political win over what is right for the people of Jersey. If that narrative solidifies, he has actually a real problem if he's going to make it in the big leagues.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: You think this could have legs?

HOOVER: It's the accumulative effect of the two stories on top of each other. And if there is anything else, I think this really could damage him.

BORGER: And there are also these little stories, smaller stories I should say that are popping up that we have been reporting today about, for example, Chris Christie going around the state., his advisers saying we want a lot of Democrats to support us, because this was a prelude to a national political campaign.

And when some of those mayors didn't do it, one of the them, the charge is, obviously that bridge was closed. The other one is the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, had all these appointments scheduled.

COOPER: The mayor of Jersey City, I think you're talking about.

BORGER: Jersey City, sorry. Jersey City, had all these appointments with top leaders in the state and suddenly he state I'm not going to endorse Christie and the appointments were all canceled within an hour.

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: There wasn't any effort made to even hide it.

COOPER: I got it. Do you think this kind of stuff though happens all the -- I had Giuliani on, who was like this kind of stuff happens all the time in political campaigns and political staffs, whether or not the person even knows about it or not.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It does to an extent.

The amount I have listened to all of you talk about this throughout all these various different political debates. It does to an extent, but it is clearly beat up on Christie time because of the incredibly rich gift of this traffic jam back in September.

SAVAGE: Where they were not just punishing the politician by canceling meetings or making that politician's life difficult. They were punishing all these citizens.

COOPER: Thousands of people, right.

SAVAGE: Thousands and thousand of people. Someone may have died. Kids couldn't get to school. Paramedics couldn't do their jobs.

It wasn't just, I'm going to get you politically. I'm going to get all the people who voted for you. That a different degree.

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: And all the Christie stuff coming out again. Is the man a bully, is he a raging egomaniac? Do you remember after the election you had the speech of Chris Christie's acceptance speech, and every one of you described what an unbelievably egomaniacal speech that was. It was I, I, I the whole time.

SAVAGE: Which was of a piece with his speech at the Republican National Convention, where he was supposed to be talking up Romney. And you would have thought Christie was the nominee.

BORGER: The interesting to me is that a president really can't do this kind of stuff, that a president in an odd way doesn't have the kind of political power that a governor does. A governor can do this and say goodbye and I'm not going to meet with you. But presidents can't.

COOPER: Gloria, thanks very much.

Over on the Democratic side, a bombshell report by correspondents for "The Hill" and Politico. It claims that aides to Hillary Clinton just after he unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign drew up a list of friends and enemies ranking them on a one to seven scale with one being most helpful and seven being "treacherous."

Politico headlines the story "Hillary's Hit List." Some of the sevens include former presidential candidate John Kerry, the late Senator Ted Kennedy, West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller, and Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill. One Democratic source calling it's old news, saying it's time to move on.

But do Clintons ever really move on? That's the question.

I want to bring in Democratic strategist and former top Bill Clinton aide Paul Begala, who is certainly not on that list.

Paul, is this...

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Wait. I'm going to be in the witness protection program, I'm so frightened of Hillary Clinton.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: When you hear Hillary Clinton has a hit list, that sounds pretty ominous.

BEGALA: It sounds like pretty poor journalism, I have to say.

First off, it was a list without a single hit. They don't even allege in the article. Maybe it's a good book. I don't know these journalists. They have good reputations, so I don't want to trash them, and I'm looking forward to the book. But you would think after, what, six years, there would be at least one act of retribution they could point to.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Are you saying that the Clintons don't hold a grudge? They don't have long memories?

BEGALA: Well, here's what Bill Clinton used to say all the time. He used to quote Abraham Lincoln, who said, I destroy my enemies by making them my friends.

No more than any other politician. I actually -- I'm not a journalist and I want to play one on TV. But I committed journalism today. I called several of the people on that list or e-mailed them. And to a person, the ones I contacted, said this is nonsense, it's bogus.

Let me give you -- actually, my favorite was from Congressman Rob Andrews, from New Jersey, where they know about retribution. Here is what Congressman Andrews e-mailed to me.

First, he said: "I'm going to support her if she runs. This is another chapter in a campaign to attack Secretary Clinton in advance of the 2016 campaign." He has had nothing but positive interactions with both Secretary Clinton and the former president. But then he does cite two instances of retribution.

"One, President Clinton sent me a personally autographed copy of his book 'Back to Work,' and, two, Hillary wrote me a note of personal congratulations after my reelection and posed for a personal photo with my daughter after the 2012 inaugural. These people," he writes me, "are ruthless."

It's just hooey.

AMANPOUR: Yes, but the thing is, Paul, look, you have done a heroic job right now of defending Hillary Clinton.

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: And the truth of the matter is, it is probably overblown.

But they do have a reputation, and everybody knows that Bill Clinton was upset after all the Democrats who turned away from Hillary and went toward Obama. It's know, that.

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: You see everybody, all those people who are mentioned are coming back, because Hillary is the next big thing for the next election cycle. Everybody is thinking she is going to run and the Democrats, many of them, many of people who have been named are running back to her side. So it's cyclical. Don't you think?

(CROSSTALK)

SAVAGE: I would be shocked if a politician at this level didn't keep track of these sorts of things. A small-scale politician, a mayor, a governor, could really probably in their head keep track of all of this.

COOPER: But on a one to seven scale?

SAVAGE: But who helped me, who didn't help me.

(CROSSTALK)

HOOVER: So, they're very detailed.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: You don't think there is anything too surprising about this?

(CROSSTALK)

HOOVER: Not only is there nothing surprising about this. We have -- here's the point of the article. The point of the article was to remind people -- Hillary Clinton, by the way, has very high approval ratings right now. We all know that.

She is really sitting on her laurels. She's in retirement. She's on the sidelines trying to think about whether she is coming back or not. I think this article is exactly the kind of article designed to remind people what they used to hate about Hillary, what they used to hate about the Clintons, and the negative side of the Clintons in national life.

Hillary has a choice. Does she want to retire on her laurels and just coast with a very good legacy or does she really want to get in the muck and dirty mudslinging of national politics?

(CROSSTALK)

HOOVER: This is only the beginning.

AMANPOUR: And Bill Clinton famously campaigned for those Democrats who supported his wife after the 2008 election.

But then he went back and was a major part of President Obama's reelection. Isn't it all just par for the course, politics as usual?

HOOVER: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

HOOVER: I certainly think so. And, by the way, this is what we are talking about with Chris Christie too. How different is the tone, the tonality of this from the criticisms of Chris Christie just two seconds ago?

SAVAGE: Well, she is not declaring these politicians' constituents her enemy. She's not attacking the people who voted for these people, which is what Christie did by shutting down the bridge, if Christie was involved, which of course obviously he was.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Well, no, you can't say that. There is absolutely no evidence.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: There is absolutely no evidence.

SAVAGE: It doesn't pass the smell test.

COOPER: Well, the smell test for somebody who is not a Republican or supporter of him. Factually speaking, there is no evidence.

(CROSSTALK)

HOOVER: There is no evidence.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Paul?

BEGALA: But Christie's government, his administration, apparently at least the deputy chief of staff, somebody terribly close to him, did apparently participate in this.

And citizens, constituents, as Dan points out, were harmed. And getting it back to Hillary, she didn't even make them wait in line at the passport office. There's just nothing. And as Christiane points out, Hillary served with unflinching loyalty the man who defeated her in that primary. And her husband delivered the speech that a lot of people think helped reelect the president more than anything else.

So, if this is vengeance, it's pretty thin gruel?

COOPER: We got to take a quick break.

Up next, what was it like to be there on camera when Dennis Rodman as he went on that admittedly drunken rant in North Korea's capital? What was it like to be in North Korea? Why were they there? Charles Smith, former NBA star, joins us to explain.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back.

In a moment, former NBA great Charles Smith on what it was like traveling with Dennis Rodman on that trip to North Korea during which Rodman sang happy birthday to dictator Kim Jong-un and when asked about the trip by "NEW DAY"'s Chris Cuomo, unleashed an epic tirade.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DENNIS RODMAN, FORMER PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYER: No, no, no. I'm just saying -- no, I don't give a (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I don't give a rat's ass what the hell you think I'm saying to you. Look at these guys. Look at them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Charles Smith's hand was on Rodman trying to control him during that.

Mr. Rodman seen here arriving today at Newark Airport has since apologized for suggesting during that rant that Kenneth Bae, an American being held captive in North Korea, had done something to deserve his fate. He said he was stressed out and had been drinking when he made those remarks.

Back with the panel. And on the phone, joining us now, Charles Smith, who travelled to North Korea with Dennis Rodman. Also in the fifth chair tonight, the legendary P.J. O'Rourke, humorist, Daily Beast columnist and author most recently of "The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way (And It Wasn't My Fault) (And I'll Never Do It Again)."

Welcome. Good to have you here.

Mr. Smith, thank you so much for joining us on the phone.

First of all, when you went -- agreed to go to North Korea, did you know that in Dennis Rodman's mind this was a birthday present for the man he calls his good friend?

CHARLES SMITH, FORMER NBA PLAYER: No, I did not know it was a birthday present. That was stated afterwards.

But I think I said afterwards if I did know that, I don't think that would have changed whether I would have gone or not.

COOPER: You know the criticism. Did you feel at any time that what you were doing and what Dennis Rodman was doing or saying inappropriate? Standing there and listening to Dennis Rodman sing happy birthday to Kim Jong-un, Dennis Rodman saying that it's not so bad in North Korea, having been there now do you agree with Dennis Rodman that it's not so bad?

SMITH: Well, no. I felt that. I talked to Dennis afterwards.

That was something that Dennis did unilaterally. That was not supposed to happen. We did not know that was going to happen. And he just did that. And, you know, we spoke afterwards. I thought that was a little over the top and that might have been a little inappropriate.

And that would not have had any bearing whether the game -- to the success of the game or not. I think if he would not have done it, it would not have made a difference. We spoke about it afterwards.

AMANPOUR: Mr. Smith, it's Christiane Amanpour. Can you tell me how much you were paid and who paid you and the others to go there?

SMITH: I said this several times.

I don't know what the issue is about how much we got paid. I have no reason to answer that question to anyone. That's my personal business. I think the question is a little personal and inappropriate. It's just personal. No one asked any of you on the set how much you got paid. My salary was public when I played in the NBA. I didn't like it then.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: But you were paid. And there is a legitimate question about who paid you. You were paid for the trip. Can you say who paid you?

SMITH: Oh, yes, Anderson, that is a legitimate question.

AMANPOUR: Well, that is what I asked, Mr. Smith?

(CROSSTALK)

SMITH: ... and our documentary film group out of Ireland. Both companies are private companies out of Ireland.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: You are saying that North Korea did not pay you? You didn't receive any funds?

SMITH: No. We absolutely did not accept any dollars from North Korea. And I think we know that. And we knew that going in, that that would not be a good thing to do. AMANPOUR: So beyond the payment -- and, you know, Piers Morgan talked to one of the other members and he said he would give some of it to charity. I don't know whether you think you will.

But what is the point of going and going and keeping on going back to this country? Kenny Anderson said that he thought it would have been worth it had they been doing clinics for young people or something that really was sports diplomacy or could actually advance some kind of decent agenda, rather than going and singing happy birthday to one of the world's worst dictators.

Do you regret having done it and would you go back again?

SMITH: That's -- it's a couple questions there.

But, one, would I go back there again? I think I would under different circumstances. I think this trip was -- it was off, it was on, it was off, it was on. And it came together kind of at the last minute and that's how the trip went from beginning to end.

We were invited to come back, but I don't know whether that will happen.

COOPER: Let me ask you. You have talked in the past about cultural exchanges. The idea behind this is sort of a cultural exchange, letting people there see American culture and meet you, you learning from them.

But it seems to me what is different about this trip as opposed to other trips you have done in Taiwan and elsewhere is, you are not meeting regular North Koreans. The people who live in Pyongyang are party functionaries.

The people who were in that auditorium all dressed exactly alike giving a standing ovation to a dictator for 10 minutes, those are all people whose lives hang in the balance based on the whims of this man. They're all party functionaries. It's not as if you're meeting regular people in North Korea who are out in the countryside malnourished and under threat of to be sent away to prisoner of war camps or concentration camps. Do you feel like you actually got any kind of real glimpse of this place?

SMITH: Well, I did. I did.

I went out. It's kind of -- I don't know whether it's humorous, but I went out for a walk a couple times in the morning. And by the time I got maybe five blocks away, one of the tour guides who was with me out of nowhere and then asked me to come back to the hotel.

You are always under their guidance when you go out, go out to any restaurants. I did take a two-and-a-half-hour drive outside of Pyongyang to a ski resort that they opened up maybe about a year ago, and I got a chance to see the countryside and certain villages at the foot of different mountainsides.

(CROSSTALK) COOPER: I'm sorry. Let me just jump in here, because you talk about going to a ski resort. This is a country where there are an estimated 100,000 to 150,000 people in concentration camps.

When Kim Jong-un decides to punish somebody, they don't just send you to a concentration camp. They send your children, your parents and your grandchildren. It's called three generations of punishment. It's the only totalitarian dictatorship in the world that does this currently.

Did you know any of that going there? Do you have any regrets about -- you're talking about it as if it's a place that has ski resorts that people can go to.

SMITH: No.

Well, listen, there's a couple things, Anderson. I did not know some of the statistics that you just mentioned, but that was not for me to know. I didn't do research along those lines. We went there for one reason, and one reason only.

The end result, you talk about cultural exchange. I considered myself and a few other guys cross-cultural ambassadors. And we did go and engage in their custom, in their beliefs, to the point that we wanted to understand more about them. We did meet some of the residents in Pyongyang.

We didn't spend too much time with them. But we did have an opportunity to speak with them. I have one incident that was really critical. There was a gentleman that I met at the hotel. And, mind you, there were other Americans that did a lot more touring and then had a lot more freedoms than we had.

But I did meet a gentleman there. And he went before he shook my hand to find that I was the first African-American's hand that he has ever shook. And he had a certain image of me. I had talked to him for a while. The very next day, I saw him, and he came up to me and said, "I'm sorry."

And that was good for me to be able to change his thought process in how our people are. The biggest thing out of all of this is that the door was opened. And a lot of times, as people, we're requiring everyone to think, change and grow in a short period of time to reach out to another culture, reach out to another group.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Let me just ask you.

SMITH: You don't know anything about them until you try. That's what we did.

COOPER: The other team, the North Korean team, beat you in basketball. If you had beat them in basketball, did you have concerns that they would be sent to a prisoner of war camp or killed?

SMITH: No, no, not at all. No, it was nothing like that. That never even crossed my mind.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: But you say that as if it couldn't possibly happen. People are disappeared in North Korea all the time for offenses far less than losing a basketball game. You're aware of that?

SMITH: Right. All the things that you are talking about, we have not had a lot of information. And, hopefully, this is an opportunity. I don't know where you get a lot of your statistics from. I'm not defending North Korea.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Well, I will tell you where I get it from, from a man I interviewed who was actually born into a concentration camp who is only the person to escape.

(CROSSTALK)

SMITH: What I'm saying is that we didn't go for that. And the fact that we are making a connection there, to delve into it a little more, to get more information and to establish a relationship, who knows, down the road, we might be able to help. Maybe not, but at least there's a start.

COOPER: Charles Smith, I appreciate you being on.

I want to talk about it with the panel.

P.J., when you hear...

P.J. O'ROURKE, DAILY BEAST: I'm off in -- I just sort of picturing C-3PO going over to play Scrabble with Darth Vader. I don't know what is going on here. This is just so far into the land of hooey.

AMANPOUR: I have been to North Korea twice.

We went with the New York Philharmonic. There is a place for cultural exchange. There was criticism of the Philharmonic for going, but in the end it actually did turn out to be very good. There is a place for, as we saw in China, ping-pong diplomacy. But we can't get from this time is any sense that that is what they're doing. I actually can't figure out what they have been doing.

COOPER: There is also never a moment when Dennis Rodman sitting next to Kim Jong-un just says to him, you know what? Do a solid. Kenneth Bae, just let him come back to us. It will go to great strides. It will help us sell this trip.

AMANPOUR: Is he still there? Should we ask?

COOPER: No, they -- he's gone. But they made no effort. They never mentioned Kenneth Bae to him. Charles Smith -- I have seen another interview he did -- he met Kim Jong-un and shook his hand and he said -- in fact, he said that people love the Great Leader, that they love Kim Jong-un there and that he got a 10-minute standing ovation. Again, those are all party functionaries. And if you don't applaud for 10 minutes, you could be disappeared.

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: Well, you remember what just happened in Saddam Hussein's Iraq. And if the team lost at football, they were...

COOPER: Yes, they were killed. It's not out of the ordinary to suggest that this didn't...

O'ROURKE: I just don't go for this whole cultural exchange.

(CROSSTALK)

O'ROURKE: Even the New York Philharmonic...

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: But it does work. Come on. Ping-pong diplomacy led to...

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: It can work.

COOPER: But if all you are meeting is the functionaries of the government...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: And ping-pong diplomacy was also something -- there was actually diplomat diplomacy going on at the same time.

(CROSSTALK)

SAVAGE: A goodwill ambassador was sent by the country.

(CROSSTALK)

SAVAGE: And ping-pong diplomacy, but with a totalitarian system that is running a whole system of concentration camps? That is different than...

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: You and I know all this.

COOPER: The fact that they didn't do any research before going to me is...

AMANPOUR: You and I know all this. And everything is correct. I will say that it's always worth going to these places which nobody can get into to try to see what is going on and to be able to report a little bit. But I'm disappointed with what has come out from this team.

HOOVER: We know how bad it is, but I do think the silver lining of their continued persistence in travel there is that it actually has elevated the level of corruption in North Korea in just average ordinary Americans.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: I disagree. I think it legitimatizes...

HOOVER: They see Dennis Rodman. It may legitimatize it, but ordinary Americans now understand and have a higher sense of how bad it is in North Korea.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Not to these guys, because they are drinking cognac and they're smoking cigars and go to ski lifts with this guy.

Anyway, we got to move on.

If you ask American officials whether the National Security Agency vacuuming up the phone records of just about man, woman and child in America is actually keeping Americans safer, their answer is yet. Both President Obama's NSA director, as well as the president himself, saying the same thing. At least 50 threats they say have been averted because of the data collection program.

Now though a study by the nonpartisan New America Foundation calls that claim overblown and even misleading. Their reports say the program has had "no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism and only the most marginal of impacts on preventing terrorist-related activity such as fund-raising by terror groups."

Joining us is CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

Jeff, what do you make of this? You have been a critic of what Edward Snowden did.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Certainly, the New America Foundation has done an interesting study.

I read it with great interest. I think there is a limited amount you can learn about the NSA program if you don't have yourself have a security clearance. They were hamstrung by that. But it is true that the New America Foundation as well as President Obama's own commission said that the metadata program was not especially valuable.

Whether that means it should be scrapped altogether, whether that means it should be reworked in some way, that's something the president will announce, I think, on Friday his answer to that question. But it is it does appear that this is a program very expensive, very intrusive that has not paid the dividends that at least it appeared that they were going to.

COOPER: P.J., does it concern you?

O'ROURKE: Oh, I just hate the idea that NSA is able to gather this information. And once the information is gathered, I'm thinking about the post office, OK?

We got a post office, a big government bureaucracy, a ton of mail, e-mail, as it may be, and phone messages and so on. The post office can't even get a letter to our house. It's got our name right on the front of it. Is the government doing anything valuable with this information? I doubt it.

AMANPOUR: I think what's fascinating is no matter what one might think of Edward Snowden and what he did with certain amounts of and certain select information and what he did with others is that he has had this amazing debate and sparked it worldwide on the parameters and the proper parameters of government surveillance.

O'ROURKE: And rightly so.

AMANPOUR: Obviously, there is a place for government surveillance, but the president, as Jeff says, is going to outline potentially new restrictions on this. It is really, really interesting what he has done.

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: They wouldn't have been doing this if it had been for Edward Snowden.

COOPER: Right, because many people had said Congress has oversight. But Congress only has oversight about what they are told about by the NSA itself. It's not as if there are members of the congressional staffs inside the NSA.

(CROSSTALK)

O'ROURKE: I have this same oversight over my 16-year-old daughter.

(LAUGHTER)

TOOBIN: Anderson?

COOPER: Yes, Jeff.

TOOBIN: Can I speak up on behalf of the post office?

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: But, you know, is it the best 50 cents you can spend in America. You get a letter sent anywhere in the world for 50 cents -- for -- in the country.

(CROSSTALK) O'ROURKE: He is calling me out.

SAVAGE: They handle billions of pieces of mail every year.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: ... a great job.

SAVAGE: Once or twice in my life, I have had a letter misdirected.

TOOBIN: And I just think, you know, they are an easy target. But I'm very much for the post office.

O'ROURKE: It's a cheap shot. Anything large and slow moving always attracts my attention.

SAVAGE: The Republicans have done their best to hamstring the post office to prove that they're right that government can't do anything. Which is why we need to get these nihilists...

COOPER: I like that we are a show that stands up for the postal service.

AMANPOUR: Yes, but back to certain documents and excessive intrusion. I interviewed today John and Bonnie Raitt (ph), two of the eight burglars who did the first such raid of FBI documents. That was back in the summer of Philadelphia in 1971. Exactly.

And they found stuff that the government was doing and they said, "Listen, you know, we knew that J. Edgar Hoover was untouchable. The government wasn't going to touch him. Nobody was going to touch him. And this group of ordinary people went and took these documents, and it made change and it made people aware of dirty tricks and terrible things.

COOPER: But to Jeff's point...

AMANPOUR: I know. He doesn't like it. I know, Jeff.

COOPER: ... he believes it's breaking and entering.

SAVAGE: It needs to be pointed out that they didn't use a lot of AK-47s.

COOPER: I don't even have to talk.

SAVAGE: It wasn't the Second Amendment that led to those reforms and protections. But that kind of activism and sometimes you've got to break laws to make better laws.

AMANPOUR: The church committee came out and, you know, agreed that there was too much information collected.

COOPER: We've got to take a quick break.

Jeff, thanks for joining us.

Just ahead today, a ruling in the case of the cursing toddler who was taken into protective custody after a video he was in went viral. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back. New development today in the case that's outraged a lot of people in this country for different reasons. We first showed you a video of a toddler last week after a Nebraska police union posted it on its Web site, saying it highlights a, quote, "cycle of violence and thuggery." We've -- we've blurred out the child's face. Here is some of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED). (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You doing the finger right now, (EXPLETIVE DELETED)? (EXPLETIVE DELETED) you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: The boy is being egged on by adults off-screen. They're coaching him to use racially, sexually offensive words. The video went viral. In the uproar that followed, the little boy and three other minors were taken into protective custody, including the toddler's mother, who's now 17 years old. She was 16 when he was born. They're now in foster care. And today a judge ruled that mom and child can stay together in the same foster care.

Former federal prosecutor Sunny Hostin joins us at the table.

You take this very personally.

SUNNY HOSTIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR/CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I do. I mean, I'm the daughter of teenage parents. And when I saw this child surrounded by violence and obviously drugs and alcohol, I was surrounded by the same things.

And I think what was so interesting to me and saddening was that people were attacking the mother. People were calling this little boy a thug. And I thought, well, I had the same upbringing. I don't think anybody's going to call me a thug. Maybe a legal thug. But I'm surprised at the reaction. And I think many people have forgotten in the equation that the mother is a child, as well.

COOPER: You object to the police union posting the video on their Web site.

HOSTIN: Sure.

COOPER: They say in their defense that they contacted the relevant authorities in order to try to see what could be done.

HOSTIN: Well, we know they only did that after the public outrage.

O'ROURKE: I don't see how it's legal for them to do it.

HOSTIN: It isn't.

COOPER: It was posted on this -- it was posted on a public Facebook page. That was their argument. That the man and the uncle to that toddler apparently posted it on a Facebook page.

HOSTIN: But they didn't obliterate the little boy's face.

COOPER: They did not blur the face.

HOSTIN: I think they exploited the child. I think it is clearly evidence of a crime when you see child abuse on video, and if you're law enforcement you're going to post it rather than send it -- use it as an investigative tool. Why don't you send it to CPS? Why don't you open the investigation?

COOPER: But just to play devil's advocate, I mean, we would not be having this discussion if that video had not been -- had not been posted and the whole issue of how kids are being raised, the obstacles that kids are facing, obstacles that young mothers are facing, I mean, is a valid discussion to have.

HOSTIN: And I think that's right. And I think if anything, Anderson, came -- good came out of this. It's that -- is that the child -- both children, mother and child, are now in a safer place. Hopefully, she will get the support that she needs, which includes education and, of course, parenting classes and that sort of thing to try to break the cycle.

COOPER: CPS says that they had house under investigation for months because of alleged gang activity at the house. There had been a shooting, actually, at the house. The grandmother, the child's grandmother...

HOSTIN: Who's only 38 years old.

COOPER: ... had been arrested, I believe, related to gun activity or drug activity. I'm not real sure at this point.

HOSTIN: Yes. That's true. And so I think, you know, when it was posted, certainly, the officer said, you know, this is the cycle of thuggery and the cycle of violence. And certainly, there was a cycle going on at home. But was that really helpful? I don't think so.

COOPER: You were interested in the study that was done about...

HOOVER: You know what is helpful?

COOPER: MTV had the show "16 and Pregnant," a very popular show. A lot of people very critical of it, saying it's sort of glamorizing teen pregnancy. HOOVER: And you know what turns out, there's this new study. I mean, you talk about the cycle of children having children and not perpetuating the cycle. As it turns out, "16 and Pregnant," the MTV SHOW, has been correlated to Nielsen ratings in counties where kids were having -- there was a high birth rate, a high rate of pregnancy. And it turns out it's actually affected the teenage pregnancy.

HOSTIN: It dropped.

HOOVER: Positively.

COOPER: Is that surprising?

SAVAGE: Not at all. It's also not the first study that showed it. I think it's the study that showed it most conclusively, because they were able to tie it to the Nielsen figures tracking who's watching and tie that to the declining...

COOPER: We should point out you're the father of a 15-year-old.

SAVAGE: A father figure. I also had a show on MTV for a year. So...

COOPER: So you -- a lot of people said, look, this is glamorizing it. It's making these teenage moms into celebrities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only people who...

HOOVER: But if you watch the show -- if you ever watch the show you would never think it is glamorizing.

HOSTIN: It's about how hard it is.

SAVAGE: The only people who said that were people who never saw the show. You get to be a star of a show if you get pregnant at 16.

O'ROURKE: I've got a 16-year-old daughter, and I've got a 13- year-old daughter. And, like, they do watch the show. Because I am a bad supervising dad. And I didn't stop them.

(CROSSTALK)

O'ROURKE: Their takeaway from this is, well, they think it's sort of funny, icky, pathetic, horrible, stupid, kind of like twerking. I know, it's like...

HOOVER: But it makes them think twice.

O'ROURKE: Absolutely.

SAVAGE: I told my son to watch it.

COOPER: Really?

SAVAGE: I did. He's doesn't want to watch a show about girls. I'm like, "You want to watch this show." AMANPOUR: In a less high-tech -- in a less high-tech TV/MTV, way, in Malawi and other parts of Africa it's shown that just the notice board, where you know, stories are going on about what girl and boy are going out and this and that, that gets filtered down, and people can see who are good partners and who are not. It has an effect on HIV. It has an effect on contraception.

HOSTIN: When you see how difficult it is. I mean, I had my children -- my first child at 34. I was an old bird, because I didn't want to repeat what I saw. It was very difficult.

O'ROURKE: I had my -- I had my first one at 50.

COOPER: Good lord. That's another segment in and of itself.

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: ... families in poverty are born to teenage girls.

COOPER: All right. Still to come on the program, some of the funniest and weirdest moments from the Golden Globes. Co-hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler did not disappoint. They're great. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back. We're here with the panel. We've got two moms at the table, with Margaret, a very new mother. Congratulations, by the way, on the birth of your son.

HOOVER: Thank you.

COOPER: Also two dads at the table. It's going to be interesting to get Margaret's take on this. A new study suggests that childless couples are happier with their relationships than couples with kids. Researchers said Open University in Britain also discovered that women without children were the least happy with their lives overall, while Moms were happier than any other group.

So do you believe childless couples are happier?

HOOVER: It's certainly easy to see. It's certainly easy. Although it said kids, and I have one. So, so far so good. But I can see if we added multiples, that would become quite difficult.

AMANPOUR: I think inevitably, young children stress a relationship. And, you know, couples don't have as much time to...

O'ROURKE: And furniture, too.

AMANPOUR: ... go and often do stuff for themselves. And you know, always looking out for...

O'ROURKE: I heard this report and go, "Duh." Of course they're happier. But it all depends on what kind of happy do you want to be.

AMANPOUR: And the proof is in the pudding. The mothers are the happiest.

SAVAGE: The culture says that parenting is the ultimate sort of affirmation of your love. The couple, it gives your life so much meaning. And television commercials people that soak in all their lives make parenting look like this sort of nirvana. A lot of people go into it with really screwed-up expectations about what parenting is. Those people are miserable. If you go in it without blinders on, like this is going to be hell.

O'ROURKE: If you come from a large Irish family like I do, you know what you're in for.

SAVAGE: It's like a heroin addiction. That when you're high you've never been so high, but when you're miserable you regret that needle, that first needle.

COOPER: Pretty amazing. Just as the only nonparent at the table, at least that I know about, the fact that -- the energy that parents -- and so all the energy that parents have, I mean, I've got nieces and nephews. And like, when I'm around kids I love kids; I'm great with kids. But after an hour I'm like "Uncle needs a nap." And I go off and...

AMANPOUR: We don't have that luxury.

O'ROURKE: So does Daddy.

COOPER: But parents can't do that. I mean, that's the thing.

O'ROURKE: You'd be surprised.

AMANPOUR: Don't you think this is funny? Of the women, the mothers are much happier than the childless women. But the childless dads are happier than the fathers. What does that mean?

COOPER: That doesn't surprise me.

O'ROURKE: That means what college costs today is what that means. I mean, I'm retired. I'd be retired now. You know? I'm 66 years old. I've still got three of them to tend through school, you know. It's like, you know?

COOPER: But I'd also be interested to see whether this story was done of, like, parents of teenagers versus parents of kids under the age of 10.

O'ROURKE: Well, parents of teenagers, according to what time of day it is, I mean, what day of the week it is. I mean, it's...

SAVAGE: What hormones are peaking.

O'ROURKE: Exactly. You talk about that when it's good it's great. But I mean, there goes -- there's a whole teenaged period in there where it just ain't good. There is no great.

HOOVER: You're right in the thick of it. Aren't you? O'ROURKE: I'm right in the thick of it. I have a 13 and a 16, you know. So you can -- like a 13-year-old is still sweet, but you can see the storm clouds gathering.

SAVAGE: I have to bow down to you with the three kids.

O'ROURKE: Yes.

SAVAGE: My parents always said you're not really parents until you're outnumbered by your children. They had four. And we have one, and one is kind of easy. It's like a relay race, where one of you can have some off time while the other entertains the kid.

O'ROURKE: We've friends with, like, eight. And they call three "hobby children."

COOPER: Let's switch quickly to the -- it's -- from, I guess, drama to comedy. Let's talk about the Golden Globes. The second year in the row, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler were hosts. They didn't disappoint. It was actually, I think, the highest rated show they have had in years. Huge numbers of people watched. Here are some of the highlights.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMY POEHLER, COMEDIAN: Interestingly, Julia has chosen to sit in the film section tonight.

Hi, Julia.

POEHLER: Hi, Julia. You know us from TV. Hi.

Hi.

FEY: Julia. Julia.

"Gravity" is nominated for best film.

It's the story of how George Clooney would rather float away into space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age.

And now, like a supermodel's vagina, let's all give a warm welcome to Leonardo DiCaprio.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: That was weird.

SAVAGE: It wasn't weird. It was genius.

COOPER: Well, no, he's just -- he's dated a lot of supermodels, so...

SAVAGE: And supermodels have vaginas.

COOPER: So I'm told. SAVAGE: That have been welcoming to Leonardo DiCaprio.

COOPER: Did you -- now who actually watched? Because I actually watched the entire thing.

AMANPOUR: I did. Three hours. Three hours. I love Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

COOPER: They weren't in it enough.

AMANPOUR: I know, but the speeches were lamentable. Really lamentable.

COOPER: The speeches were...

O'ROURKE: You watched three hours?

AMANPOUR: Three hours. I didn't know who was going to get the best film, the best actor. I mean, you know?

O'ROURKE: TiVo it.

COOPER: It's amazing to me that people who are in the entertainment industry cannot give a good speech.

SAVAGE: Most of them are actors who are used to other people, writers writing the words that come out of their mouth.

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: ... some beautiful ad-libbed speeches.

COOPER: I just want to show you a little bit of Jacqueline Bisset's speech. And I mean, you know, who doesn't love Jacqueline Bisset? But she clearly -- I don't know what was going on. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACQUELINE BISSET, ACTRESS: OK. Scottish background to the front. OK. I believe if you want to look good you've got to forgive everybody. You have to forgive everybody. It's the best beauty treatment. Forgiveness for yourself and for the others. I love my friends. I love my family and you're so kind. Thank you so much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAVAGE: I think she is dating Dennis Rodman.

COOPER: We have edited that together. So that seems coherent. It went on for a long time with a lot of pauses.

SAVAGE: Isn't that what we watch these award shows? It's like NASCAR for fags (ph). Like we're waiting for the -- like me, like me. I use that word all the time.

COOPER: I know you do.

SAVAGE: It's like we're all watching for these train wreck moments.

COOPER: Yes. That's the thing. I mean, it is the drunken awards show. It's -- clearly, people are just getting...

O'ROURKE: Yes. The British with their much stricter libel laws. I believe the phrase is "friends say she needs rest."

SAVAGE: But like Amy Poehler and Tina Fey said at the top. They welcomed the audience of women and gay men who would be watching.

COOPER: Right. Well, that is great. The -- Emma Thompson was great.

AMANPOUR: She was great.

COOPER: Let's do a little Emma Thompson. We don't have her? OK. She just took off her shoes and threw them away. She was awesome.

Bu it is nice to see, at least, kind of unscripted moments.

AMANPOUR: Right. Diane Keaton.

COOPER: The Oscars, it's, you know yet to kind of find its footing.

AMANPOUR: I was surprised, because Amy Poehler, who then won, gave a jibbering, you know, performance.

COOPER: I think she had so prepped for, like...

AMANPOUR: Well, right, but she -- she would have really skewered that speech had she been presenting and commenting on that speech.

HOOVER: It's almost as though none of the nominees never gave a just in case practice speech. They just never even rehearsed the possibility they would win.

COOPER: Everyone thanks their agent, their teams. No one wants to hear that. You want to hear something inspiring and uplifting, amazing.

AMANPOUR: But there were great films, I have to say. Let's be honest, it's been a fabulous year for film.

SAVAGE; We don't watch dentists give each other awards for dentistry. I get it. I like the movies. I'm a big fan, but I don't ever watch the Oscars. I don't...

O'ROURKE: I'm a big fan of real estate but I don't watch the realtors give each other awards.

SAVAGE: And the award industry is so metastasized. There's so many: SAG.

COOPER: They're live events. Everyone wants to see -- We've got to take a quick break. Up next, items you might have missed in the news. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back. Time now for "What's Your Story?" where we look at stories that you might have missed. Christiane, what's your story

AMANPOUR: Troubling. A troubling expansion of a very troubling phenomenon in Africa where more and more countries are outlawing homosexuality. The latest is in Nigeria, so that joins Gambia and Uganda, and, and, and. And, you know, this is President Goodluck Jonathan, who has not shown these kinds of tendencies up until now. He's facing his first reelection, and this is what he does. Fourteen years for going to gay bars and being in a gay relationship?

COOPER: It's incredible. Dan, what's your story?

SAVAGE: I'm going to pile on. The Uganda law has not yet been signed. It's sitting before the president, waiting to be signed. It's an overwhelmingly majority Catholic country.

This is a time when the pope could step and prove that he means the things he said about shifting the focus away from the gays and abortion. The pope could say to the Ugandan president, the Ugandan people that this is an offensive law that should be vetoed. It would be nice to hear him speak up. Instead of just compliments, he could take real action here and keep gay people from being imprisoned unjustly in Uganda.

COOPER: All right. What's your story?

HOOVER: And I'm going way lighter. And my heart is with you guys, but I'm going way lighter. I'm a huge fan of Aaron Sorkin, and "The Newsroom" was reupped, which I was -- we were all a little worried at the end of season two. It was reupped and then cancelled. But at least we're going to get a season three of "The Newsroom." So if you like Aaron Sorkin and you like aspirational sort of...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: What's your story?

O'ROURKE: Quantitative easing. Just because I love saying it. Quantitative easing. I've no idea -- I was an English major. I have no idea what they're talking about. But doesn't it sound like one of those strange prescription drugs on television for older people, Promises? Talk to your doctor about Quantitative Easy.

COOPER: And I'm trying to say that -- do you have easing that lasts for more than four hours?

Thanks to all in our panel. That does it for "AC 360 LATER." We'll see you tomorrow night.