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Woody Allen's Lawyer: Accuser Brainwashed; Vanity Fair Praised For Diverse Cover; Mother Loses Both Sons to Guns 19 Days Apart; $1 Trillion Farm Bill Expected To Pass; Clinton Surges In New CNN/ORC Poll; City Sues "Meetme" App Over Children's Safety

Aired February 4, 2014 - 14:30   ET




BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Just past the bottom of the hour, you're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Woody Allen dispatched his lawyer today to refute the accusation first levelled some 21 years ago that the legendary film director also is a child molester.

Specifically that Woody Allen abused his adopted daughter, Dylan, when she was all of seven years of age as Dylan now claims as her mother, Mia Farrow has claimed for years and years. Here's Woody Allen's attorney speaking on the "Today" show about Mia Farrow, about Dylan Farrow who is now an adult.


ELKAN ABRAMOWITZ, WOODY ALLEN'S ATTORNEY: I believe she is not lying. I think she truly believes this happened. That's what the vice of this is. When you implant the story in a fragile 7-year-old's mind, it stays there forever. It never goes away. He was determined not to have molested his daughter 20 years ago. The case is over. There is no case.

The fact that it's being brought up now is suspect. The timing is suspect. Nothing's happened. It's a continuation of Mia Farrow's desire to hurt Woody Allen. And Woody Allen is now riding fairly high. He got the Golden Globes Award for lifetime achievement, which he probably deserved. And I believe it revived the anger she has toward him.


BALDWIN: So if you're following that, Woody Allen's lawyer is suggesting that the Golden Globe award inflamed his ex, Mia Farrow, and that's what we're hearing now about the molestation again. There is more to it than that, though. Since last Saturday Dylan published that open letter, her first written account of what she and her mother say happened.

It says, in quote, "Woody Allen took me by the hand, led me into a dim closet-like attic on the second floor of our house." It goes on, "He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother's train set. Then he sexually assaulted me, whispering that I was a good little girl."

Those are the words of Dylan Farrow. With me now from Toronto is Stephen Marche, contributing editor of "Esquire" magazine. Stephen Marche, welcome to you. You know, you've been writing about this odd concurrence between these accusations against Woody Allen and, of course, the content of some of these films he's written, he's directed, he's starred in. For example, tell me about "Manhattan."

STEPHEN MARCHE, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "ESQUIRE" MAGAZINE: Well, I mean, "Manhattan" is about an affair between a 41-year-old man and a 17-year-old girl. In which her father is mentioned regularly. You know, what I was looking for is sort of these evidences of, you know, incest references in Woody Allen throughout his films. And there are just a lot of them. There are just tons of them when you actually go through the movies.

BALDWIN: Before we go on, I need to remind everyone, Woody Allen denies these abuse charges emphatically.


Just need to remind, in the case though that anyone has actually forgotten whether Allen was ever convicted or even charged in this case, the answer is no. He wasn't charged. Stay with me, Stephen, because let me just let everyone know after a lengthy investigation, the state of Connecticut found no credible evidence that he abused young Dylan Farrow.

And Stephen, let me just now quote Diane Keaton because she says this of the females Allen writes into his movies. Quoting Diane Keaton, "They struggle, they love, they fall apart, they dominate, they're funny, they're flawed, they are, in fact, the hallmark of Woody's work."

So in addition to what you're talking about, you have this, these incredibly strong women that Woody Allen dreams up, you know, somewhere in his head and then juxtapose that with your point about "Manhattan" and that whole situation.

MARCHE: Well, I mean, I think, you know, he's written 70 films and they're all sorts of different characters in them. Plus, he's a brilliant director and a brilliant writer and he does have these amazing female characters. I just think there's this recurring theme of men who educate women and then fall in love with them while they're educating women and can't really love them afterwards.

So that's kind of what Annie Hall is about. It's also what "Manhattan" is about. Whatever works, it's there as well. I mean, plus just the explicit references and things like stardust memories. I mean, I don't know what to make of these connections. I just think that they're there, and that when this incredible letter from Dylan Farrow appeared, it sort of made us reconsider his work. And those references are there.

BALDWIN: Stephen Marche, thank you so much, "Esquire" magazine, for joining me today, talking Woody Allen, the legendary Woody Allen. This year's Hollywood issue of "Vanity Fair" magazine is running praise for showcasing a diverse group of actors and actresses. Take a look, it's a tri-fold cover. It features six actors of color from some of the most notable films of 2013. Two of whom are up for towards. They share the cover with Hollywood royalty.

You have Julia Roberts, George Clooney, et cetera, et cetera. HLN Entertainment anchor, A.J. Hammer joins me from New York. And I know -- I mean, this magazine, I read about this this morning. It's definitely been criticized for a lack of diversity.

A.J. HAMMER, HLN ENTERTAINMENT ANCHOR: For a long time now, "Vanity Fair's" covers generally have a pretty poor record when it comes to featuring people of color. And the Hollywood issue in particular has been a target before. In fact, back in 2010, the web site Jezebel's article, which criticized "Vanity Fair" was titled young Hollywood is white, thin. So that's pretty blunt.

So the magazine's Hollywood issue has this trifold folding cover that we're seeing here. The only people of color who had ever actually made it on to the front cover fold were Chris Rock, Tandy Newton and Djimon Hinsou. Other actors of color have typically been featured on the cover folds that are only visible once you pick up the magazine and open it up.

In other words, they are not what you're seeing sitting on the newsstands, but yes, this year, right alongside Roberts and Clooney, you have Chiwetel Ejiofor nominated for an Oscar for "12 Years of Slave," Idris Elba who starred in "Mandela Long Walk to Freedom" and it seems like that should be perfectly normal and not even worthy of a news story, but as you have seen --

BALDWIN: Worthy of it.

HAMMER: Yes, it's getting all this extra attention. What I've been hearing, Brooke, is that people are generally pleased with what "Vanity Fair" has done. There's a lot of praise online today and one of our leagues here at CNN even commented to me earlier that it's good to see that the magazine recognized that there was work to be done.

BALDWIN: I was worried there was going to be a but, despite the praise. Has anyone been critical of what we're seeing now?

HAMMER: Well, the main criticism I've been seeing as I've been surfing around is the notion that simply putting these particular accomplished actors on the cover doesn't properly address diversity. On "Vanity Fair's" web site, there was one commenter that struck out to me with what he wrote.

Black and white is not diversity. It's easy tokenism. Where are the Latinos who far outnumber blacks in this country? Where are the Asians? Where are the Native Americans? Hollywood always makes sure to include one black and then forgets that other colors and ethnic groups exist, too. This cover doesn't inspire. It sickens.

And I've seen a bit of that sentiment out there. Clearly there is still the idea that there's plenty of work to be done.

BALDWIN: Progress, progress. Thank you so much for joining me with that. Coming up, a mother's grief after both of her sons are killed days apart from one another.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The suspect just shot into the car. Just shot into the car, multiple times. My son's car shot up and I just broke down crying.


BALDWIN: Just utter heartbreak of this one woman putting the violence in Oakland, California, in a whole new light. Don't miss this report next on CNN.



BALDWIN: A mom in California struggling to rebuild her life after losing her only sons less than one month apart. Both boys victims of the gun violence outbreak in one city. Here is CNN's Kyung Lah.


DINYAL NEW, GRIEVING MOTHER: I've had to bury both my kids.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dinyal New doesn't have the strength to finish the sentence, no mother could.

NEW: Emotionally it hasn't hit me yet. It hasn't hit me yet, but I know it will because I keep thinking about them.

LAH (on camera): Your life changed in 19 days.

NEW: On January 1st, my life has changed.

LAH (voice-over): That was the day her son, Lee, just 13 years old was walking home from the Boys and Girls Club, the eighth grader was a few minutes from home, when he was shot 28 times, Oakland's first murder of 2014. Dinyal buried her youngest. Days after the funeral, the flowers of Lee's memorial were just beginning to brown when two blocks from home, gunfire, she ran towards it.

NEW: The suspect still on top of the car and shot into the car multiple times. I see my son's car shot up, and I just broke down crying.

LAH: The 19-year-old Lamar in his first year of college killed instantly, his body riddled with bullets. In three weeks, Dinyal New went from a mother of two to a mother of none. Simueal McDonald was their cousin. He's only 11 years old. His mom wanted us to talk to him.

(on camera): Do you know why this happened?

SIMUEAL MCDONALD, COUSIN: Because the people who did this, they just want to be killing just to be killing people.

LAH (voice-over): In East Oakland, says Simueal's mom there is no childhood.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone that's out here today, God --

LAH: The family gathered where automatic gunfire killed Lamar, broken glass still in the street, as the sun set, they walked down the street to the second memorial where Lee died. The children watch, the story so familiar to the mothers gathered here.

ALICIA WATERS, MOTHER: I had to bury my first born six years ago.

LAH: Her son was shot to death.

WATERS: No parent ever, ever, ever should have to bury their kids before them, never and especially like this. This is crazy.

NAOMI HARRY, MOTHER: I have a 19-year-old who was a victim of gun violence.

LAH (on camera): How many mothers in this neighborhood do you think are like you two?

WATERS: Not even just the neighborhood, the city is full of mourning mothers.

LAH (voice-over): Todd Walker is a mortician in East Oakland.

TODD WALKER, MWJ MORTUARY: We just buried her 13-year-old son Thursday and Wednesday she's right back in here making arrangements for her 19-year-old son.

LAH (on camera): How sick are you of having to put children into these caskets?

WALKER: I'm tired of it. I'm tired of it because I'm the one that goes to pick them up. I see them firsthand at the coroner's office. I have to identify them right off the top. So it's horrible, it's horrible. In this community, gun violence is a regular every day thing. They are shooting every day, all these kids do not have an education, but they have a gun. And there's something wrong with that picture.

NEW: This is Lamar and Lee's room.

LAH (voice-over): Her sons had separate rooms, but they slept together, they were that close. Their shoes in the same spots they left them.

NEW: I just want the little things back. It makes me mad that these people took that from me. I just want to come home and get Lee ready for school.

LAH: Kyung Lah, CNN, Oakland, California.




BALDWIN: The U.S. Senate is moving toward a vote on a 10-year trillion dollar farm bill and you might be surprised actually what's in this farm bill. About 80 percent of the costs go to food stamps, other programs for the poor. Most of the rest goes to agri businesses.

Gloria Borger is our chief political analyst, in your opinion, what is more significant? What's actually in the bill or the fact that Democrats or Republicans are working together on this?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's a really important bill and it's also important that actually you have this broad coalition of lawmakers who got together. It's taken them a couple of years, Brooke, to reach this point. But it's a very, very important piece of legislation. As you point out, it's got a little bit of a cut in food stamps, but food stamps affect one out of seven Americans.

It ends these controversial direct payments to farmers paying them not to farm. But instead, covers losses when they have losses. Makes sure our milk prices aren't going to skyrocket. So it's important. It took a long time, yes, but it's also important that they actually are going to get it done. Excuse me.

BALDWIN: Are you OK?


BALDWIN: Let me switch gears. I want to show everyone this poll that shows Hillary Clinton blowing the doors among Democrats when it comes to presidential preference for 2016. You see the number at the top of the screen, 70 percent for Hillary Clinton. And then we see what's happened since December when we pit Hillary Clinton against New Jersey Governor Chris Christie here. You can see the change in numbers, she has shot way up. He has shot way down. How worried are Republicans that Christie's fortunes could be plummeting here?

BORGER: Well, you know, it's no coincidence that we've heard these stories about is Jeb Bush going to get in, is Mitt Romney potentially going to get in because they're worried about those Chris Christie numbers. As you look deeper into the numbers, the reason he's losing ground and Hillary Clinton is gaining ground is because he has lost 20 points, 20 points with independent voters. And those are the people you need to win to gain a presidential election. The other poll you showed, though, is just as interesting to me with Hillary having 70 percent of the demographic.

BALDWIN: That's a huge number.

BORGER: It does feed into this notion of she's the inevitable nominee. And that can turn into a problem for you because voters have this funny thing. They actually like to decide who's going to be the nominee. They don't like it determined for them a couple of years in advance. And so it can work against you, as it worked against her when she first ran against President Obama. So it's Hdillary and everybody else.

BALDWIN: Gloria Borger, thank you very much.

Coming up here, piecing together the final hours of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman's last day, the new clues police are using the catch the people. Who supplied him with the deadly doses of heroin?

Also ahead, the city of San Francisco suing the maker of the social networking app saying it enables sexual predators. That's this about? We're on the case next.



BALDWIN: You heard of this, it's an app, it's also a web site. It's called "Meet Me." It's being touted as one of the newest ways to meet new people, maybe in your neighborhood, maybe date. But now they're at the center of this new lawsuit from the city of San Francisco. This is what we're getting from our affiliate KGO. The city attorney there has filed suit against the social networking site arguing it enables predators to target minors.

In this complaint, this man says the site serves as a portal for numerous assaults and illicit sex acts with kids under the age of 18. Although "Meet Me" would not comment on the case, this is what they say on their web site. Quote, "We care deeply about the safety of all of "Meet Me's" users.

We employ a 24/7 team that responds to reports from our users and work closely with law enforcement when appropriate to assist in their investigations." CNN legal analyst, Sunny Hostin joins me now. I feel like we've talked about apps like this in the past.


BALDWIN: We have. This is just another app out there, but do you think this is the first that we've really heard of -- a city with a case? Do they have a case?

HOSTIN: You know, I don't think so and this is why. Social networking sites -- and we have talked about this before, Brooke, really have enjoyed this sort of broad and very robust protection for really the actions of its users, right? And so that's a federal statutory protection. And a lot of state attorney generals and some state attorneys and district attorneys have tried to poke holes in that immunity in court all around the country with really little success. And so, will this particular case be successful? I don't think so. But I can tell you in researching this and covering so many of these kinds of cases that there has been a trend with states really calling to task these social networking sites to make sure that our children are more careful. So we may see some changes, maybe not through court action. But maybe through just making sure that these sites are good corporate citizens.

BALDWIN: Just quickly, because I'm curious, if you're a 13-year-old and you up load this app, what responsibility falls to the app itself, to the social networks?

HOSTIN: Well, you know, I think -- again, because of this immunity, not that much. But "Meet Me" has seemingly been a good corporate citizen. They review hundreds of photos. Post it to their services every day. They compare the information against sex registries. So I think that's really important. But really, we have to protect our own children. So parents, get involved. Get involved. That's what I always say to you, right, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Yes, be involved, you know, mom, loud and clear. Sunny Hostin, thank you.