Return to Transcripts main page
Should ISIS Be Feared?; Goodell: To Go Or Not To Go; Foul Play On Joan Rivers' Death; Interview with Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania
Aired September 20, 2014 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: Welcome to the program and thanks for joining me. I have a packed show today including this.
CNN exclusive information on the many troubling questions surrounding the death of comedian Joan Rivers and a provocative new theory on what may have killed her.
Then, if you see something say something: They keep telling us it can happen here. But fears of ISIS grows as the terror group spreads its wings beyond the Middle East. I'll drill down to what's real and what's not with a top cop and a prominent journalist.
And then, yes means yes. A new standard on college campuses you've got to consent to have sex. What Rush Limbaugh thinks and here is no surprise, a very different take from a young co-ed at UCLA. Let's get started.
Up first, Roger Goodell, he says he's not satisfied with the way he has handled the NFL's abuse scandals but he doesn't think he should lose his job.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you considered resigning at any point throughout this?
ROBERT GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: I have not. I'm focused on doing my job and doing the best to my ability. I understand when people were critical of your performance. But we have a lot of work to do. That's my focus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Roger Goodell made $74 million over the past two years. If the NFL were a public company, shareholders would demand action. So has Commissioner Roger Goodell done enough? Or should Goodell go?
Joining us now Coy Wire, a former player for the Atlanta Falcons and the Buffalo Bills. Coy, thanks for being here. That's the question. Should he stay or should he go?
COY WIRE, FORMER ATLANTA FALCONS PLAYER: Well, I don't think it's an option for him to go. The owners clearly stand behind Roger Goodell. He has made them billions of dollars. It's clear that he messed up. I think that the one thing that has to happen through all of this is that he has to relinquish his role as sole arbiter when it comes to personal conduct issues. Now he did talk about in his press conference about developing a personal conduct committee.
What I heard was that committee would be formed to create and revise the current personal conduct policy he hoped would be done by the Super Bowl. But when the question was asked will you give up your unilateral control over personal conduct issues he said "nothing is off the table." So I didn't hear what I would want to hear as an owner, certainly as a player.
But one way that everything went wrong long ago during the last collective bargaining agreement with the players was when he decided to make himself the sole arbiter regarding personal conduct issues. That was a mistake. That has to be changed.
SMERCONISH: My take away from yesterday's presser was that he came to make no news. I take note of the fact that this was an afternoon press conference, East Coast time, you don't want to make news, you do a document dump on a Friday afternoon. I thought there was going to be a headline. Maybe the headline would be a zero tolerance policy but instead Coy, my take away was he came so as to thwart or blunt the stories that said "where the heck is Roger Goodell? We haven't heard from him in quite some time."
WIRE: It's a great point. It seemed to be a reactionary press conference, there were a lot of people calling for his voice. He had not been seen in far too long. When he finally did speak, you bring up an excellent point. He talked so much about what was wrong, what we already know. And not enough about moving forward. What is he going to do now?
He talked about some of the things that could and may happen but there was no definitive clear solution to those problems and how he plans to fix it. He's had plenty of time to think about it. I think a bolder statement could have been made. So, I'm with you on the point that not enough was said.
SMERCONISH: I note that there are a number of NFL alumni who are not afraid to speak out. You're here, we're having a candid conversation. Yesterday I participated in a short dialogue with Fran Tarkenton. And it's made me wonder, what about the current NFL players? Do you think we've heard enough condemnation from them of the problems that now afflict the NFL?
WIRE: There are a few bold individuals, bold souls who have spoken out about it. Whether it's through social media, which is better than nothing, I have spoken to a lot of players who are greatly unhappy with not only Commissioner Goodell's handling of this incident, just using the Ray Rice as an example, that situation. But they are also unhappy that they have to be associated with that type of player now.
They are unhappy about those individuals, have to remind everyone that this is a few who do wrong and give everyone a bad name, current players and former players. I think the one thing that's getting lost in all of this is that the NFL players are being villainized and I think everyone needs to know that in every NFL locker room, 53 men on a roster, there might be one despicable person.
There may be 10 jerks but the rest of those guys on that team which is the majority on an individual team and collectively in the NFL are good guys. There are guys who are loving fathers, they care about their communities, they give back to those communities, they do and say the right things most of the time. So, that's the unfortunate part about this is the few individuals who are tainting that NFL shield, all current players and former players as well.
SMERCONISH: I'm glad you bring that up. I'm going to actually going to speak to some of the data that is supportive of the observation that you just made. Coy Wire, thank you for being here.
WIRE: Thanks for having me.
SMERCONISH: We have to take a break. But when we come back, I've got information that you're not going to believe, I didn't believe it when I heard it. But we'll talk to a man who has done the math at the NFL and says nothing is quite as it appears.
From threatened demonstration killings in Australia to beheadings, ISIS has done a good job of terrifying us but maybe we should be scared. You'll want to hear what a former police chief has to say.
And sometimes no means yes to Rush Limbaugh anyway. I'll explain what I mean by that later in the program. Don't go away. We'll be right back.
SMERCONISH: Welcome back to the program. It's the summer of the shark for the NFL. Let me explain that. The Ray Rice video showing him deck his fiancee now wife - it's appalling, the photographs of Adrian Peterson's four-year-old son after being hit with a switch turned my stomach. And the idea that Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers would be playing after being convicted by a judge of assault on a female and communicating threats, that's abhorrent.
Every day this week brought another headline. On Wednesday, Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer was arrested on aggravated assault charges stemming from two incidents involving a woman and a child. So after this week's news, I'll bet you're convinced that the NFL is dominated by thugs and convicts. But you would be wrong.
Last July when Rice was suspended for a meager two games by the NFL, Benjamin Morris at ESPN's 538 blog, took a look at violence in the NFL or by NFL players and he found that to quote him, "Arrest rates among NFL players are quite low compared to national averages for men in their age range." What is more he says there are some types of crimes that are less common among NFL players.
In analyzing data assembled by the "USA Today" NFL arrests data base he concluded that quoting here, "Although there seems to be an endless stream of stories about NFL player arrests and misconduct this is largely because there are a lot of NFL players and they are famous at the league's peak during training camps, there are about 2,560 players attached to NFL teams. that's a limit of 80 each.
In other words there are many players and unlike the rest of society when they get in a scrape with the law, it makes news especially now. Take a look at 538's analysis. For the national arrest trends, Morris used the Bureau of Justice Statistics Arrest Data Analysis tool to find the arrest rates per 100,000 for the male population in the 25-29 age group, because this is the group most similar to the NFL as a whole where the average team ages varies from 25 to 27 years old.
So what did he find? That NFL players have much lower arrest rates than average, basically, across the board. Morris found that the most common arrests among the general public are for drug-related offenses and DUIs. The most common among NFL players is DUI with assault a distant second. Overall NFL players arrest rate is just 13 percent of the national average. Look at the distribution of NFL arrests compared to national averages.
As of the time of this tabulation which was July, there were 83 domestic violence arrests, making it by far the NFL's worst category, but still, that rate is only about half, 55.4 percent, of what occurs in society at large. So, what might explain the misperceptions? It's the summer of the shark in the NFL.
Remember 2001, during the fourth of July weekend an eight-year-old named Jesse Arbagas (ph) was attacked by a shark. And every subsequent week that summer brought news of more shark dangers until the events of 9/11 knocked that story from the headlines. But here is the kicker. There was no increase in shark attacks that summer, just in increase of coverage of shark attacks.
Joining me now to crunch all these numbers is Benjamin Morris of ESPN 538 blog. Benjamin, thank you for being here. A critic might say that these athletes are protected by the NFL or by police and consequently that's why when they have a scrape with the law, it never gets reported. It never gets written out.
BENJAMIN MORRIS, SENIOR SPORTS WRITER, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: Pretty much two things you can tell from the data. One is that at the very least they are not doing a lot worse than the national average, but on the other hand they definitely seem to be doing worse than similarly situated people in the national average. They have virtually zero poverty rate and still have reasonably high domestic violence arrest rate. That's very rare.
SMERCONISH: I was going to ask that question. Domestic violence. How does the NFL, how do the member teams of the NFL, their players compare to society at large, the 25-27-year-olds?
MORRIS: It's likely lower than society at large, at the very least it's not higher than society at large.
SMERCONISH: So do you buy into the idea that it's the media that we've - there is a problem. One domestic abuse case is one too many but has it occurred to you that the reason we're so fixated on this is week is because every incident that is out there is now being reported on where we don't do that with 2500 plumbers, 2500 architects, 2500 talk radio hosts.
That's a classic statistical fallacy to draw a conclusion from the things that are most likely to be observed. So that definitely seems like a possibility. On the other hand, I think there is a chance that people don't quite understand the rate to which domestic violence takes place in society as a whole. And would be shocked to find that it's just as common in the rest of society as it is in the NFL. So that can cut either way.
SMERCONISH: Benjamin Morris, thank you so much for being here.
MORRIS: Thank you.
SMERCONISH: We've got to take a break. When we come back, what killed Joan Rivers? CNN's Susan Candiotti has been digging in the story and has exclusive new details on it. Then I'll talk to a doctor who has a fascinating theory about the role that celebrity may have played in her death. Interesting stuff. Stay with us.
SMERCONISH: What killed Joan Rivers? At first it appeared her death might have been due to natural causes. She was 81 and was under anesthesia which does carry risks. But CNN's Susan Candiotti has really been digging into this story now for days and has learned a lot of troubling details. Susan, what have you learned thus far?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Michael. Back on August 28, more than three weeks ago we were all stunned to hear that Joan Rivers was rushed to the hospital in critical condition after undergoing be an endoscopy at Yorkbrook Clinic here in New York. She died a week later. Since then all kinds of questions about what happened.
These are details provided to investigators from staff at the clinic. According to our source, Rivers is first put under anesthesia. Then her own personal doctor performs a laryngoscopy that looks at her vocal cords. Next the gastroenterologist does an endoscopy, putting a camera in your stomach to see if something is there and he does notice something.
Now Dr. Korovin, that's Rivers' personal ear, nose and throat doctor attempts to do a second laryngoscopy. Then Rivers' vocal cords swell, she goes into cardiac arrest. Our source tells thaws Rivers' doctor is not certified at that clinic and that the laryngoscopy was unauthorized. Staffers said they found no patient consent form. What's really getting a lot of attention is this.
Our source says staffers told investigators that Rivers' doctor took a selfie while the patient was under anesthesia. The staffer added that the doctor joked that Joan would really get a kick out of it and think it was funny later. It's important to note that for now, neither the clinic nor any doctors are being accused of any wrong doing. Michael.
SMERCONISH: Is there any reaction from those doctors, Susan? CANDIOTTI: A source close to Dr. Korovin gave us a statement. It reads in part "Dr. Korovin categorically denies the doctor took a selfie with Joan Rivers and categorically denies the allegation that the doctor performed an unauthorized procedure." Her lawyer also gave us a statement that reads in part, "Dr. Korovin is highly experienced, board certified, respected and admired by her peers and revered by her patients. She does not publicly discuss her patients."
Michael, investigations are going on at least three of them by the medical examiner, by the health department, and a federal agency that regulates Medicare, so a lot of questions are unanswered at this time.
SMERCONISH: Susan Candiotti, thank you so much. These new details raise a lot of questions, particularly about the way that celebrity medical care is handled.
Dr. Elan Singer is a New York plastic surgeon. He has a provocative and fascinating theory. He says that Joan rivers died of something called VIP syndrome and he joins me now. The VIP treatment, I would think that would be optimal. Don't we all want the VIP treatment?
DR. ELAN SINGER, NEW YORK PLASTIC SURGEON: We all do want the VIP treatment, Michael. But as it turns out it ends up being poor care. It causes health practitioners to alter their routine and when they alter their routine the end result is poor care.
SMERCONISH: I know that when you were a surgical resident you would get a phone call and say "Dr. Singer, we've got a VIP here who needs treatment." And you thought what?
SINGER: At first I didn't know what they were talking about, did they want me to change the way I normally treat my patients? But then it actually began to irk me and it was rather insulting. The bottom line is that everybody gets the same care. And because the care is first class care, when you go around the country the routine care, it's generally first class care. And so VIPs, the guy on the street, everybody gets the same care.
SMERCONISH: What I'm hearing you say is there are routines for given situation, there are protocols, there is that standard of reasonable care that needs to be followed by a practitioner, and when you change the drill, depending on who the patient might be, you're actually putting the patient at a further risk than he or she might be.
SINGER: That's exactly it. It's just like the FAA with pilots and mechanics running check lists.
SMERCONISH: Dr. Elan Singer, thank you so much for being here.
Let's now talk about the legal aspects of the case. Joining me now is Atty. Lisa Bloom. She's an analyst for the legal advice site, avvo.com. Lisa, react if you would to Susan Candiotti's report.
LISA BLOOM, LEGAL ANALYST, AVVO.COM: Well, it's very disturbing. The first question I have is did Joan Rivers give informed consent to every procedure that occurred when she was under anesthesia. Because that is our right as patients in the United States. If she did not sign the document, all those forms that we all have to sign when we go into surgery, for every type of procedure, then clearly there was a violation here, there could be a malpractice case. And there could be criminal charges if there was negligence.
I also want to know if the doctor was supposed to be following the standard of care in that particular office, was supposed to be there, was certified, all of those questions are not detailed, they are very important and in this case those may have been life and death decisions.
SMERCONISH: Help folks who are watching at home understand what does the standard of care mean in a case like this and how will - should there be litigation, a plaintiff's lawyer attempt to establish what standard of care she was owed?
BLOOM: Well, the standard of care is what a reasonable doctor would do under these particular circumstances. We have an 81-year-old woman, a woman who I revered by the way, I never met her but I still feel the loss three weeks later. What a brilliant hilarious person she was. But she was 81 years old. She used to talk about all of the plastic surgery that she had had, probably on her face and neck area.
Should she have even been in a clinic when there was surgery going on in her throat, when there were scopes going down her throat. Or should she have been in a hospital? What would a reasonable prudent doctor have done in that situation? Many doctors said to me there is no way this procedure should have been done outside of a hospital.
SMERCONISH: Lisa Bloom, thank you as always.
BLOOM: Thank you.
SMERCONISH: And a final note, Joan Rivers, she's reportedly left her $150 million estate to her daughter, Melissa and grandson, Cooper. The "New York Daily News" reports that Melissa is putting her mother's Manhattan apartment on the market for a staggering $35 million. Listen to what Joan Rivers said about the place in that 2010 documentary, "Joan Rivers, A Piece of Work."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOAN RIVERS, COMEDIAN: This is my apartment, and it's very grand. This is how Marie Antoinette would have lived if she had had money.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: She was a fascinating woman. A terrible loss.
I need to take a quick break. But when I come back, fear of ISIS, we've heard all the horror stories but we've also heard that there is no reason to believe that ISIS is operating here in the United States. So what's the truth? We're going to try to get to that in the next segment. Stay with me.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SMERCONISH: Hey, welcome back to the program. Are you afraid of ISIS? Their attacks are undeniably gruesome and designed to get maximum attention from the foiled plot to conduct demonstration beheadings in Australia to their latest video and their strategy seems to be working.
The most recent CNN-ORC poll found that only 10 percent of Americans don't think ISIS poses a serious threat to the U.S., 90 percent of us take the threat seriously. Police are stepping up security in New York's Times Square, but are we all wrong?
Nick Gillespie says we shouldn't be scared of ISIS and he says we're playing into the terrorists' hands by overreacting. He joins us now along with Bernard Kerik. Bernard Karat was the New York Police Commissioner on the day of the worst terror attack on U.S. soil, September 11. He says the threat is real and that New York is prepared.
Nick, defend that statement that you think this is an over reaction and we should not fear ISIS.
NICK GILLESPIE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, REASON MAGAZINE: Yes. The global war on terror as we've been fighting it for going on close to 15 years has always suffered from massive threat inflation. We blow up a minimal risk into major catastrophes waiting to happen and act accordingly. The entire kind of existence of the transportation security administration I think points to that. In particular with ISIS, ISIS is a threat to Iraq and Syria and the Middle East. It is not a threat to the United States and that's something that both the department of -- Department of Homeland Security as well as the FBI say.
I really think by going -- by launching U.S. initiatives against is in Iraq and now in Syria, we're actually working to internationalize is' attention. It's been based -- it's called the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, not Iraq, Syria and Cheboygan, Michigan, for a reason. We're actually drawing their attention to the United States by going in there when there are militaries from places like Iraq where we're trained over a quarter million people, Iran that has 500,000 active troops, Syria which has its own army, the Peshmerga, the Kurds who are doing well with a quarter of a million troops -- those are the people who need to be fighting and containing ISIS in the Middle East. Not us pulling it into the U.S.
SMERCONISH: Bernard, to Nick's point it doesn't seem as if their goal is establish a caliphate in Indiana.
BERNARD KERIK, FORMER INTERIM MINISTER OF INTERIOR FOR IRAQ: Right. You know, they don't. But here's the problem -- we have anywhere, depending on who you listen to, between 100 and 1,000 Americans that have now gone into Syria and Iraq, to engage in some of the most savage and brutal behavior that I've seen since Saddam was dethroned. Those guys, those people are coming back here. They are going to come back to the United States and they are going to melt back in the communities like some kind of chameleon. ISIS has undoubtedly the best social media and communications network
of any terror organization we have seen to date. And it's getting better constantly. We have to keep on top of that. We've got to make sure that they are shutting down these sites that they are using, the Twitter sites, Facebook sites. As fast as we have been shutting them down, they are getting back up and running.
And they are calling for attacks in this country, just like we saw the other day in Australia. I believe that's going to happen. These people that are over there now, they are going to use their American passports to come back to this country, they're going to get in through the borders, that for the most part are non-secure, and we're going to have problems internally.
SMERCONISH: Well, I share your concern, but I guess, Nick, the worry I have is that by going over there, we are giving them what they want in terms of recruitment device and we're actually increasing the odds that what Bernard is worried about, what I'm worried about, comes true.
GILLESPIE: I agree with you on that, Michael. I think that by turning this into an -- a proxy war where America is involved we're saying basically to ISIS that yes, you have a rationale for coming over here. And again, none of this is to support ISIS. I have nothing but contempt for ISIS, and I think Bernie is right, you know, these are savage, barbarous people who need to be taken care of. It's not our fight.
To the extent that there are Americans who have gone there and if it's 10 or 1,000, I think we should be able to rest assured that our national intelligence administration, our security apparatus, is tracking these people and keeping touch on them. That is the way that it always has to be, if you start doing dragnets and if you start overreacting, you're actually giving the terrorists exactly what they're looking for, which is instilling fear and terror through a population when there is no call for it.
We should be locating and identifying and tracking the people we know who are involved in ISIS who have ties to the United State --
SMERCONISH: Bernard --
GILLESPIE: -- and that's how we deal with it.
SMERCONISH: Bernard, has there been an overreaction by law enforcement insofar as police departments are offered war machinery since Iraq, since Afghanistan they accepted it and now armed to the teeth in "Mayberry R.F.D."
KERIK: You know, Michael, it's almost like you are dammed if you do and dammed if you don't. The problem is if we are not prepared for something in the future, then people will look back at these agencies and say you should have would have could have.
KERIK: At the end of the day, we have to be prepared. These attacks are going to continue for decades to come whether you call it ISIS or al Qaeda, al Shabaab or whatever, you name it, there is an extremist radical Muslim element that wants the demise of this country, and there are some here, there are many coming here. That fight is going to continue.
And the U.S. law enforcement agencies have to be prepared for that fight.
SMERCONISH: Gentlemen, Nick Gillespie, Bernie Kerik, thank you so much for being here.
We have to take a break. But when I come back, I want to stay on this and talk about something I think is important. I think that we're confused about the right way to fight ISIS because we're not asking the right questions. I'll explain what I mean.
And I'll ask the right question of Senator Bob Casey. You'll want to hear what he has to say. So, don't go away.
SMERCONISH: Welcome back.
Congress has voted to approve President Obama's plan to arm and train Syrian rebels to fight ISIS. I happen to think we're not asking the right questions, too much conversation about American ground troops. The question we should be asking: is there a vital U.S. interest at stake? That has yet to be debated, much less voted on.
Listen to Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth ticked off the most important issues and, remember, she is an Iraq war veteran. She's talking to Kate Bolduan on CNN's "NEW DAY".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D), ILLINOIS: I can't trust the Syrian rebels, Kate. We don't know who they are. I'm not comfortable with the vetting process, and I don't know how long this commitment is. The vote on Wednesday was really just for a 12th week bill that would allow us to fund $500 million for 12 weeks and I just feel this is far longer term and deserved more of a debate than this initial short-term debate that we had.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Joining us now is Senator Bob Casey. He supports airstrikes on ISIS in Syria.
And, Senator, as a fellow Pennsylvanian, I appreciate the ribbon that you're wearing in honor of that trooper that we lost this week.
SEN. BOB CASEY (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Michael, thank you very much. We just hope they find his killer. SMERCONISH: Do you believe that the president has sufficient
congressional authority, given the way you voted and the way that the House voted, to execute the 4-point plan he articulated to the nation a week ago Wednesday?
CASEY: Yes, I do. Michael, I think he does.
Look, I -- it really depends upon how you see this. I see this as anti-terrorism, that if we're going to be committed to having a strategy to go after terrorists who bring harm to our people or threaten us, I think this is one of the places you have to go.
I realize some people are not comfortable with that, but I think he does have the authority he needs. I wouldn't rule out, though, Michael, I think it would be healthy for the country and for the congress, to have a debate about the broader question here, which is the authorization for the use of force not just for this president but for any president.
SMERCONISH: That's where I'm going, Senator. I'd be less than honest if I didn't say I was disappointed that Americans will go and close the curtain on a ballot booth in six weeks without really having a clear answer where their representatives stand on the fundamental question of should we be, are we at war with ISIS? Isn't that the kind of declaration that needs to be made?
CASEY: Well, Michael, I think that in this case you have what I think is a clear threat to us, it may not be proximate, it may not be immediate but there is no question that ISIS is a threat to us and to the region. And I think that carries with it the responsibility to go after them. That means in my judgment, pursuit, even if that means going into Syria to bring the fight to them.
I do think, though, that the country is in the midst of a debate about what we should do. That's why the recent debate is important, the vote we had on one aspect of the strategy, the so-called training and equipping of the well-vetted elements of the opposition was important.
But I do think there's going to be a constant and should be a constant debate and evaluation as this goes forward, and that's going to play out. Every candidate running, and I'm not running this year but the candidates running are being asked this question by the -- these questions I should say, by the media and their constituents, and that's why -- that's part of the debate. But --
SMERCONISH: You may have heard me say at the outset, Senator, that there has been so much conversation this week about ground troops. Any time there's reference to ground troops, it spurs conversation. General Dempsey had something to say that caused a lot of conversation. Help me understand what exactly is the vital U.S. interest? I get the Syrian vital interest. I get the Iraqi vital interest.
What's our vital U.S. interest?
CASEY: I think the main vital interest, Michael, is the question of terrorists and terrorism. What are you going to do in response to that?
I don't think, unfortunately the way that this is often debated in Washington, kind of one extreme to the other. Do nothing, which is unacceptable, or have something like an Iraq style ground troops or combat troops on the ground, 140,000 when the president came in office.
This is nothing close nor should it be. But I think the fundamental question for a lot of the American people I think for members of Congress is, what do you do in the face of terrorism? What do you do on 9/12 going forward?
I think we have to be very, very aggressive. We showed already that when we were aggressive and assertive and unified as related to al Qaeda we were able to bring great harm to them and al Qaeda's not the entity it was a number of years ago. They are not wiped from the face of earth or will they ever be probably.
But these threats are going to arise, it just happens to be now. ISIS which is I believe a combination of a terrorist organization and an army, even though they don't have a state, they are trying to get a state, and it's also a criminal organization.
SMERCONISH: Senator Bob Casey, we appreciate your time. Thank you, sir.
CASEY: Thanks, Michael.
SMERCONISH: When we come back, it used to be "no means no". Now students on campuses have a new standard of affirmative consent before having sex. Yes means yes. But some people think that's going too far, including Rush Limbaugh. We'll tell you why, next.
SMERCONISH: Hey, welcome back to the program.
It's a time-honored phrase on campuses across the country, "No means no". But as Washington pushes colleges to take sexual harassment seriously, state legislators in California have adopted "yes means yes" legislation -- a standard of unambiguous consent among students engaging in sexual activity.
Would it surprise you to hear that Rush Limbaugh sees nothing good about that?
Listen to what he said on his radio program this past Monday.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: How many of you guys in your own experience with women have learned that "no means yes" if you no how to spot it? I'm probably -- let me tell you. In this modern where that is simply -- that's not tolerated. That would not -- people aren't even going to try to understand that one. I mean, it used to be a cliche. It used to be part of the advice young boys were given. See, that's what we've got to change.
We have got to reprogram the way we raise men. So, now -- why do you think permission every step of the way clearly spelling out why, why do you -- all these not lawsuits just waiting to happen.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Joining us now is Savannah Badalich, an undergraduate at UCLA who founded 7,000 in Solidarity. That's a campaign against sexual assault after she was assaulted, by a fellow student.
Savannah, I think many want to know, how does this work in practical terms?
SAVANNAH BADALICH, UCLA STUDENT: Well, essentially it's when two people come into a sexual encounter they start asking for consent throughout the experience. It's not as though you have someone sign a contract or you stop not as though you have someone sign a contract or you stop intermittently.
You can make it very sexy. Consent is sexy. And so, you can ask, may I go further? Can we continue going along this way? May I do this?
It can be fun. And I think he's taking it at completely different direction.
SMERCONISH: Can it also stifle what would otherwise be good sex?
BADALICH: No. Not at all. I mean, good sex is consensual sex. Non- consensual is rape. So, we need to be very clear what good sex is. And it should be healthy, consensual and it needs to be reciprocated. If it's reciprocated, then it's good sex.
SMERCONISH: I understand what's intended by "yes means yes". But in the end, aren't we still left in the uncomfortable cases with the he said/she said.
BADALICH: Yes. That is not going to stop. Because sometimes when survivors go and report their assault, they may not have the evidence because they waited a while before they felt comfortable and empowered. So, it will be word and word and that will continue happening.
Now, that's also not all that this consent bill does. It also promotes a more supportive environment for survivors to come out as survivors. They don't feel stigmatized or silences.
SMERCONISH: What if you are in a relationship and have gotten the check-offs and have had sex with your partner and now you are back a week later or you're back a month later. Is consent nevertheless required in the follow-up instance?
BADALICH: Yes. Consent is not assumed if you're in a relationship or in marriage. I mean that is a relationship should never be assumed consent. So no matter what sexual activity in any sexual encounter you need to still ask and see if someone wants to reciprocate indicate it.
SMERCONISH: Savannah, thank you so much for being here.
BADALICH: Yes. Thank you.
SMERCONISH: Let me get a different perspective from the Princeton mom who urged young women to find husbands while they're on campus. She's Princeton alumna Susan Patton. And she joins me now, author of "Marry Smart."
What's wrong with the idea of saying that silence doesn't necessarily equal consent?
SUSAN PATTON, PRINCETON ALUMNA: There are so many things wrong. It doesn't prevent sexual assault at all. It creates another set of problems, as if the dating paradigm on college campuses isn't bad enough, now we are adding another veneer to complications between young men and young women.
And the idea that you have to get consent at every point -- well, how do you demonstrate consent? Presumably there are two people in the room. I'm going to say she said yes. How are you going to prove that she did or that she didn't?
SMERCONISH: So, did Rush get it right in the way he articulated his objections?
PATTON: In theory, he -- his context is right, but as ever, the way he put it forward is, you know, more briskly than the way I would put it forward. But yes, I think that is very problematic to even think to allow government regulation of consensual sex, and that is really what we're talking about with this yes equals yes law we're now allowing government to regulate consensual sex. Oh God.
SMERCONISH: Savannah is on the college, I asked her if it stifles good sex. Her argument was it actually enhances it. It is fun.
PATTON: No, it does not. No, it does not.
SMERCONISH: What does the Princeton mom say?
PATTON: No, no, consent is not what makes it sexy. Good sex is sexy. Not consent.
Consent, the constant, can I do this, now can I do this? It's a buzz kill. It's a mood kill. No, it is certainly not sexy.
And I think that, you know, people have to be respectful of each other. They have to be smart about how they interact with each other. We know what that seductive slow dance towards intimacy is. We all know that.
And I think that so much of this is just a manifestation of that antagonistic feminist grievance machine that is just hell-bent on perpetuating an atmosphere of fear and mistrust.
SMERCONISH: Susan Patton, next time, don't hold back your opinions.
SMERCONISH: I don't want to have to sit here and wonder --
PATTON: I keep my opinion to myself, as I always do.
SMERCONISH: Susan Patton, thank you very much.
So, when we come back, the pen is mightier than the sword. A man who took on politicians on both sides of the aisle armed with his only his pen and a sharp sense of humor.
SMERCONISH: Before we go today I want to take a moment and pay tribute to a sharp-witted commentator on politics and on American life. You probably never saw on a cable TV show. You probably never even heard his voice. He epitomized that old adage that the pen is mightier than the sword, because Tony Auth's pen was his weapon. He was Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist who for more than 40 years at the "Philadelphia Inquirer" found dark humor in the doing in Washington and on main streets across the country.
Tony Auth died of brain cancer this week at the age of 72. But the work that he leaves behind is just as sharp today as it was when he first set pen to paper. Take a look at this cartoon from April of 2013 commenting on brain injuries in the NFL.
And this one from June of this year on America's involvement in Iraq.
In his acceptance speech for the Herblock Prize, that's named after cartoonist Herb Block, Tony Auth said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY AUTH, CARTOONIST: My job is not to amuse our readers. It is to stir them, inform and inflame them. Our task is to continually hold up our government and our leaders to clear-eyed analysis, unaffected by professional spinmeisters and agenda pushers. And in these times when those of us who are derisively called members of the reality- based community are under relentless attack from both the left and the right, we must encourage and our work must reflect independent and non-ideological thinking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Political cartooning is a lost art and Tony Auth was one of the best. He'll be missed.
That's it for today. But I want to remind you, if you have to miss the program, don't forget to set your DVR.
Thanks so much for joining me.