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Paula Zahn Now
Hurricane Katrina Drenches Florida; Young Girls and Pregnancy
Aired August 25, 2005 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. Thank you for being with us tonight, for our special coverage, as Hurricane Katrina drenches Florida.
ZAHN (voice-over): Wet and getting wilder. As millions are hunkered down, Katrina is spinning ashore.
But if a hurricane wipes out these homes, the taxpayer picks up the tab.
ORRIN PILKEY, COASTAL SCIENTIST: It's madness. I mean, it's just crazy to build on such a dangerous site.
ZAHN: Why you pay to rebuild these million-dollar homes right in the frequent path of destruction.
Baby boom. So, how many girls do you think are pregnant at this school? More than 30? More than 60? Why are so many of them getting pregnant?
ZAHN: We start tonight with Hurricane Katrina, which came ashore less than two hours ago and is already being blamed for one death. Right now, Katrina is lashing South Florida with 75-mile-an-hour winds and is on track at the moment to move into the Gulf of Mexico and then hit Florida one more time.
Jason Carroll is on the ground in Deerfield Beach tonight. David Mattingly is in Hollywood, Florida. We are going to go to both of them in a moment.
First, though, let's go straight to CNN meteorology -- meteorologist, that is, Jacqui Jeras. There she is.
JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Paula.
ZAHN: So, what does the track look like right now?
JERAS: Well, the track is actually kind of bringing the storm a little bit farther to the south. It's made its way on land just a couple of hours ago. And now it's kind of dipping a little farther south than we were originally thinking, as it makes its way across the Florida Peninsula. I'm going to show you the radar picture here. It was reported with maximum winds at 80 mile per hour. But now that it's on shore, it's going to continue to weaken a bit.
Let's zoom in and show you where some of the worst of the weather is at this hour. And you can see, as it loops into motion, we have got some outer bands here that are going be making their way right into the Ft. Lauderdale area very shortly, I would say likely within a half-an-hour. So, expect the torrential downpours and those strong winds to pick up.
You have already experienced this in this area, Ft. Lauderdale reporting winds around 68 miles per hour, gusts, earlier this evening. Also on, the south side of the storm, we're getting some very heavy rains there and some very heavy winds. In fact, Doppler radar is estimating between one and two inches per hour has been falling. Kind of hard to pick out the center of circulation. There, you can see it as it moved onshore, kind of right along the county line of Miami-Dade County and Broward County.
And then it started sinking on down to the southwest just a little bit, and we are expecting to continue with -- along that trend.
Here's Hollywood, where we have had some of our reporters there. And you can see, conditions have calmed down a little bit. We had extreme gusts there earlier tonight as well.
Where is it going to be going over the next 24, 48 hours, even a few days from now? Well, the big problem is that it's moving very slowly towards the west. And because it's moving so slowly, it's going to be bringing in those heavy rains. Six to 10 inches likely within the path of the storm. And, locally, heavier amounts will be possible, maybe even as much as 15 inches. But that will be very extreme, very isolated cases.
It will weaken back to a tropical storm. It will move back over the open water, likely as a tropical storm. But then it will regenerate itself and likely become a hurricane again. We will have a second landfall with Katrina and possibly this could be a one-two punch for Florida. There's still some certainty with the track, as we have kind of an upper-level system that is going to be dropping down and help pulling that a little bit farther on up to the north and the east.
So, everybody in the Northeastern Gulf needs to be prepared for a possible hurricane making landfall, likely late Sunday night and into Monday morning -- Paula.
ZAHN: Jacqui, we're going to be coming back to you throughout the night for the latest updates. That map is very helpful in understanding just how this storm might track.
Let's go straight to Delray Beach. And that's where we find John Zarrella.
Looks pretty windy from here. JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN MIAMI BUREAU CHIEF: Yes, it sure is, Paula.
We're on the northern edge of the storm, so not quite as far south as where the center is hitting. But we have been getting that onshore flow, steady tropical-storm-force winds. A police officer just told me there's power lines down all over Delray Beach, which is in southern Palm Beach County, all over Broward County.
ZAHN: And, of course, it's not surprising that we're losing contact with John Zarrella. In fact, that is the case with two of our correspondents now in the ground in Hollywood, which is halfway between Miami and Ft. Lauderdale.
What we can tell you at the moment is that, once again, the chief concern of this storm, it's only 10 miles wide, which is smaller than obviously Category 2 and 3 hurricanes, but is the fact that it could dump 15 inches of rain on the area because the storm now has sort of stalled after it hit the Miami-Dade/Broward County region. And it's described as being a very slow-moving storm.
We want to include your pictures in our coverage of Hurricane Katrina. If you live in an area affected by the storm, e-mail us your photos. And you can do that by logging on to CNN.com/stories. Please include your name, location and phone number.
Now we have got Rob Marciano, who is another one of our meteorologists, in Hollywood, Florida, the area that Jacqui described as being a little bit calmer now than it was an hour ago. But Rob's right in the middle of it. It might not feel that way to him.
Rob, what are you seeing? What are you feeling?
ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: No, it's not at all calm right now, Paula, although I had to run inside, because I heard you lost communication with John Zarrella.
We have lost all of our communication, with the exception of this one land line that somehow remained in contact in the hotel. Power has been out around the Hollywood area now for over three hours. And our live shot and our live truck capabilities have been shut down.
I can tell you this. The past hour-and-a-half have been -- have been tremendous, as far as the amount of fierce weather that has rolled in off the Atlantic Ocean. Winds have turned violently onshore now. And sand is peppering the hotels that are lining the beach here. It seems, Paula, that the wind, the air -- sometimes, when these systems come onshore, the air rushes in to fill that decaying area of low pressure that is the hurricane or the eye of the hurricane just to our south and west.
I was in Hurricane Ivan last year, a Category 3 storm. I'll tell you what. This is a Category 1 storm. They call it a hurricane for a reason. It's some of the nastiest weather I have ever seen. And folks down here in Hollywood are feeling the brunt of it right now. The other thing we have to think about, what you mentioned, is the tremendous amount of rain that this is going to dump. And that will be an issue ongoing for the next 24 hours.
Emergency managers have lowered some of the drainage canal levels to make way for some of that water. It is coming down in sheets and buckets and it's coming down sideways right now. I only wish I could show you the pictures, as opposed to tell you the story from inside these walls. But it's an ugly situation outside. We can only hope for it to become a little bit more calm over the next couple of hours.
ZAHN: Well, we should make it clear at this hour there are no mandatory evacuations going on, except for extremely low-lying areas, the barrier islands, that area near Boca Raton and south of Palm Beach.
But how many people have you seen in Hollywood who have been tempted to get out?
ZARRELLA: Well, at first, there were a lot of people getting out to kind of storm-watch. And it can be quite deceiving, a 40-mile-an- hour wind gust, a 50-mile-an-hour wind gust. You kind of lean your body into the wind, and almost like a carnival ride. And it seems like it's even more than that. It seems like it's 80 or 90.
But once the hurricane winds kick in, I'll tell you what. Everybody runs inside and battens down the hatches, for sure. I haven't seen many people evacuate. A 75-to-80-mile-an-hour wind won't do much damage to stronger structures. It will take off sheets. It will take off tiles of roofs, which we have seen a number of that, and it will take down power lines.
So, unless you are in a low-lying area, there hasn't been a true need to evacuate, to stay inside, which a lot of the people have done, especially since the weather has turned sour here in the last two hours.
BLITZER: Well, we want you to do just that as well, stay inside, but keep the reports coming. We will be talking to you a little bit later on in the hour.
Just a quick update now. Of course, airports in the area are closed. And so, too, are the ports in Southern Florida.
Now, even if you live thousands of miles from coastal areas where hurricanes hit, you feel them. Your tax money goes to clean up all the damage. And you may be outraged to hear that your tax money also goes to rebuild expensive homes right back in hurricane danger zones.
Here's Randi Kaye.
RANDY KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a beachgoer's dream, Topsail Island on the North Carolina coast. It has also suffered the fury of six major hurricanes in the last decade. Still, that hasn't stopped people like North Topsail Beach Mayor Rodney Knowles from building a home on the water's edge.
RODNEY KNOWLES, MAYOR OF TOPSAIL ISLAND, NORTH CAROLINA: Well, I guess I'm just a river rat. And I like water.
KAYE: After Hurricane Fran flooded Mayor Knowles' home back in '96, he moved it back another 120 feet from the ocean and raised it seven feet. He paid for that. But because the mayor's home is in a zone that qualifies for federal flood insurance subsidy, guess who paid for a big chunk of his repairs? That's right, you.
KNOWLES: With any type of insurance, you have a pool of money goes in anywhere. And with the federal flood insurance, the money we pay here may go to the mountains of North Carolina. It could go to Georgia. It could go other places.
KAYE: Fran in 1996 nearly destroyed Topsail Island. The Federal Emergency Management Agency spent $55 million to help rebuild here, $55 million, your tax dollars.
PILKEY: It's madness. It's just crazy to build on such a dangerous site.
KAYE: Orrin Pilkey is a coastal geologist with Duke University.
(on camera): Is it our obligation as a taxpayer to pay for these people to rebuild their homes?
PILKEY: I think not.
KAYE: Pilkey has visited every barrier island in the United States and says Topsail Island is the most vulnerable to hurricanes.
PILKEY: The continual cycle of property damage is going to eventually cost the taxpayers a lot of money, and the individuals who live there as well.
KAYE: Money, your money, that was never even supposed to be spent here.
(on camera): Back in 1982 Congress passed the Coastal Area Resources Act. The law was designed to discourage people from building along the coast. It makes hurricane-prone areas off limits to federal aid, aid like federally subsidized flood insurance and money to help rebuild beaches and infrastructure.
(voice-over): Most of the northern part of the island falls under this act. But not even the threat of losing federal dollars could keep developers away. And in the wake of Hurricane Fran, there was so much damage, FEMA waved the usually rules and used your tax dollars to clean up anyway, saying safety was at stake.
Once forbidden funds made this sleepy town irresistible to developers. Real estate broker Pam Dabney has seen property values here increase 500 percent in the last five years.
PAM DABNEY, TREASURE ISLAND REAL ESTATE: It's just like living in any part of the country. You have your earthquakes. You have your tornadoes any place. I think they'll trade the fear for paradise.
KAYE: Dabney sold this home a few months ago for nearly $1.5 million. Seems Dabney's selling real-life sand castles faster than kids can build them on the beach. And geologists say both could be washed away in an instant. Then, why are million-dollar homes being repaired and rebuilt again and again at your expense?
PILKEY: People are not concerned with coastal hazards, in part because they feel that the federal government will take care of them.
KAYE: And, like it or not, we will all pay the bill.
ZAHN: And that was Randi Kaye reporting.
And stay right here throughout the night for the latest on Katrina.
If you're just joining us, a quick recap for you now. The hurricane made landfall close to Miami, the Broward County line, about two hours ago. The sustained winds of this Category 1 storm rest at about 74 miles per hour. But the big concern at this hour is not so much the wind, but the amount of rain the storm can generate, in some places, perhaps as much as 15 inches. So, there are a lot of worries about local flooding.
Already, airline flights, of course, have been canceled. The ports are closed; 1,700 power workers are on their way to Florida to restore power lines that go down. And there has been one death already associated with Hurricane Katrina.
Stay with us. We will have more for you throughout this hour.
But, coming up, we are going to visit a high school where an astounding number of girls are pregnant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL HINTON, PREGNANT HIGH SCHOOL SOPHOMORE: To me, it was something that always happened to that other girl. I never could get pregnant. I'm too good to get pregnant.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: So, how many other girls in the country are in the same predicament? Please stay with us.
And, a little bit later on, a doctor who's in trouble for, get this, telling a patient she's so fat that no man other than her husband will ever be attracted to her. Is that going too far? We will talk with the doctor himself.
ZAHN: Hurricane Katrina has made landfall, the second hurricane of the season to hit the U.S. mainland.
Let's go very quickly to Hollywood, Florida, to see how David Mattingly is faring there -- David.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, we're riding through a very angry Eastern edge of this storm.
It made landfall south of here. And since then, we have had some very high winds, torrential rains, rain so dense, it was almost a whiteout condition. Actually, before it got dark, you could barely see the ocean, which is less than 100 yards away from here. There was that much rain. There has been reported one traffic fatality reported.
And there, our light has just gone. The conditions deteriorated here so quickly that our equipment has been going down faster than we have actually been able to keep it up. So, Paula, I'm going to send it back to you right now, but let you know, this storm is packing quite a punch right now.
ZAHN: David, we are going to at least leave your audio signal up, while we try to give people a better sense of how this whole area is getting whacked. There have been some mandatory evacuations called for in Palm Beach County, particularly low-lying areas.
But where you are, in Hollywood, which we can explain to our audience is sort of halfway between Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, no one has been asked to leave their homes, correct?
MATTINGLY: That's right. They asked for voluntary evacuations in low-lying areas. This was affecting -- oh, great, our light has come back on, so maybe you can see me now.
This was affecting the coastal area here at Hollywood Beach, where we are. We haven't seen a whole lot of people that have actually left. The hotel that we are near has actually still got quite a few guests in it. And they expect to stay here through until tomorrow morning.
But, again, the toughest part of this storm now relentlessly just pounding the coast right here at Hollywood Beach. And I don't know if you saw the tape that we showed, that we brought in earlier. But there were quite a few trees down when those first waves of tropical- storm-force winds came through. The ground was very saturated with all the rainwater that had preceded it. So, there were a lot of trees going down, a lot of people without power.
Before all of this happened, there were already 200,000 people, more than that, actually, with -- who were sitting in the dark in Broward County alone. So, who knows how many more are affected right now, as the real punch of this storm is really just coming into this coastal area here.
ZAHN: Well, you -- we certainly can see you clearly now. You look like you're getting beaten up pretty badly there. We will let you go seek some refuge. But just a reminder to out audience, once again, that the big concern of this storm is the amount of rain these folks might get. You're talking about some five million people in Florida that could be affected by this storm. And, in some areas, they may get as much as 15 inches of rain, so, flooding a huge concern tonight. We will bring you updates as more information becomes available.
But you've probably had some time to think about the question we asked a little bit earlier on. How high does the number of pregnant girls at a high school need to be before it truly shocks you?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MONICA SELBY, PREGNANT TEENAGER: I have been crying every day since I found out. I have felt ashamed and upset.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: We're talking one in seven girls pregnant at this high school. What's going on to keep this from happening at your local high school?
Don't go away.
ZAHN: What would you say if you found that out one out of every seven girls at your kid's high school is pregnant, one out of seven? Well, that's the shocker people in Canton, Ohio, are dealing with.
So, we sent our own Tom Foreman to find out more.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For 18 years, amid the hills and homes of Canton, Monica Selby family has expected her to graduate from Timken High School. But what Monica didn't expect as her senior year began was to be expecting.
SELBY: I have been crying every day since I found out. I have felt ashamed and upset. I tried to tell the teachers, and they didn't help me one bit.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I know how cruel kids are at school. Now this coming out, you know, she's one of the statistics at her school.
FOREMAN: The statistics at Timken High are creating an uproar in this quiet Ohio town, ever since the local paper pointed out that 65 of the school's 490 female students had been pregnant in the past year, 65. That's well over one in 10, way too many by almost anyone's reckoning.
DIANNE TALARICO, SUPERINTENDENT, CANTON SCHOOL DISTRICT: That's exactly right. One is too many, as far as I'm concerned. FOREMAN: So school officials, such as Dianne Talarico, are scrambling to explain how they're working with parents, students and community groups to bring the teen pregnancy rate under control.
TALARICO: For 20 years, it has been steadily decreasing. And graduation rates are increasing. So, we are clearly doing some right things.
FOREMAN: That's cold comfort to 16-year-old Rachel Hinton, whose back-to-school shopping will include a stop at the maternity store. Like many, she knew about birth control, knew about the risks of early sex.
R. HINTON: I never planned on getting pregnant. I mean, to me, it was something that always happened to that other girl. You know, I never could get pregnant. I'm too good to get pregnant. But here I am.
FOREMAN: But as shocking as it may seem, what is happening here is happening all over.
(on camera): Is Canton really that unusual?
SARAH BROWN, CAMPAIGN TO PREVENT TEEN PREGNANCY: Well, you know, it's actually not.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Sarah Brown of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy points out, although national teen pregnancy rates have been cut by a third in the past decade, the United States still has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the industrialized world, double that of England, the nearest rival.
BROWN: We have to keep saying that, even when the overall picture is so good as it is now, there are still these very, very serious problems in many parts of America. And this is one.
FOREMAN: Back in Canton, community leaders are also speaking up, pledging renewed efforts to educate not only the girls, but the boys here, too.
TALARICO: Parents have to talk to their kid.
FOREMAN: It's tricky business, though. Schools say they can't do all the parenting, while some parents say:
JOANNE HINTON, MOTHER OF PREGNANT TEEN: Well, I'm not going to totally blame the school system. I'm going to take part of the blame. But I can only be there so much for her.
R. HINTON: Abstinence, they do teach a little bit about. But most of the kids are having sex. So, they need to teach about other things, like contraceptives and stuff like that, because the fact is, kids are having sex.
FOREMAN (on camera): What can we learn from Canton?
BROWN: This story from Canton shows in high relief that this fight is not over.
FOREMAN: Monica Selby feels it has all come down to a terrible choice, give up her baby or her hopes for a diploma next spring. The adoption has already been arranged.
ZAHN: Tom Foreman reporting for us tonight.
Joining me now, two people who couldn't disagree more about what exactly to do about this, former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, who strongly supports birth control for teens, and Leslie Unruh of the Abstinence Clearinghouse, which, as the name suggests, focuses on teaching teens to abstain from sex.
Good to see both of you.
Dr. Elders, we just heard about Canton's alarming pregnancy numbers, 65 out of 490 female students pregnant. We also heard -- quote -- "that it wasn't that unusual." Do you see that high of a pregnancy rate in other parts of the country, too?
JOYCELYN ELDERS, FORMER U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: You know, Paula, it depends on the area.
You know, if you get a school where it's a poor area, poverty- stricken, where they have poorer schools and a lot of single parents, you will see pregnancy rates as high as it is in this school. You know, at the present time, 13 percent of all the babies born in America are born to teenagers.
And our pregnancy rate has gone down. We're thrilled about that. But, of course, it's not good enough.
ZAHN: All right, we're going to talk about some of the solutions later.
But, Leslie, we hear the principal of the school basically saying -- quote -- "The school can't do it all."
Do you blame the school for this?
LESLIE UNRUH, NATIONAL ABSTINENCE CLEARINGHOUSE: Well, I blame this particular school, because they took the abstinence education program out of the school. And they have not been teaching abstinence until marriage. They have not been teaching sexual integrity to these young women.
And these young women need parents joining with the school to teach them it's not about finding the right man, it's about being the right woman, and teaching them about setting goals for their life, and to be able to have some good self-esteem and feel good about the decisions they're making. And so, these young women, they need a second chance. And that second chance is abstinence until marriage.
ZAHN: But, Leslie, you've got to look at these numbers we are going to put up on the screen; 2003, 83 percent of teens' top 20 shows contained sexual content. In 1999, 42 percent of the songs in the top 10 albums contained sexual content. And, on average, there are about 11 hard-core sex scenes depicted in music videos every hour.
UNRUH: It's the adults.
ZAHN: So, who are we kidding, with the saturation these kids have, that they're going to easily be able to say no to sex?
UNRUH: We have the stats. There are less kids having sex than those that are. And that's according to the Centers for Disease Control.
We know that teen pregnancy rates are going down. We know that more kids are abstaining until marriage to have sex. And we are excited about seeing young men and women. I mean, there's movies about the 40-year-old virgin. We just came back from Hollywood California, had over 1, 100 abstinence educators there that are reporting unbelievable success in their communities, that there are less kids having sex before marriage.
ZAHN: All right.
Dr. Elders, will you concede tonight that these abstinence-only programs are helping bring down these numbers?
ELDERS: Yes. I feel that we need all of the programs that we can get. I think...
ZAHN: But are these helping?
ELDERS: I won't say that they're hurting. But I'm saying that they're not enough for most of our children.
We need abstinence-plus. Our children need more knowledge. We can't afford to go and feel that, just because we have told them no. We have got to teach them how to feel good about themselves. The community has to be involved in trying to make sure that we have more and better programs for all of our children. And to say that the abstinence-only programs are solving the problem, we have been teaching abstinence for 1,000 years.
UNRUH: No, we haven't. No, we haven't.
ELDERS: And we have the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the industrialized world.
UNRUH: We have just started.
ZAHN: Leslie, you get the last word.
UNRUH: We have just started.
ZAHN: How is it that our numbers are as high as Dr. Elders just pointed out, higher than any other country when it comes to teen pregnancy?
UNRUH: Hey. We just started. We have just started teaching abstinence until marriage and we have been nothing but attacked, attacked, attacked.
We have a president in the White House who says abstinence works every single time. This is the first time I have ever heard a president in the White House talking about abstinence in my lifetime. And seeing Congress and parents and everyone coming together with one message, not a mixed message, as Dr. Elders just talked about, but one message: Kids are worth it.
ZAHN: Well, I guess the one thing that is clear from both of you, you may not agree on exactly how to get there, but you certainly both have a lot of passion that this is indeed a huge problem for our nation.
ELDERS: I feel that we owe our children more than telling them that we are just telling them to say no until marriage, when our country does not do it, our TVs do not do it, our movies does not portray it and the people that talk about abstinence only, they're considering oral sex, anal sex, as not being sex.
You don't get it. You never have.
Unfortunately, we've got to leave it there. Joycelyn Elders, Leslie Unruh, appreciate you dropping by.
Do you like a doctor with a nice, gentle bedside manner? well, brace yourself. This guy's different.
UNRUH: No. No. You don't get it. You never have.
ZAHN: Unfortunately, we have to leave it there. Joycelyn Elders, Leslie Unruh, we appreciate both of your dropping by tonight.
Coming up, do you like a doctor with nice gentle bedside manner? Well, brace yourself. This guy is different.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. TERRY BENNETT, TOLD PATIENT SHE WAS OBESE: You don't get to live to be old. Your last ten years are awful. You spend fortunes on medicine and medical treatments.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Coming up next, a doctor who tells it like it is and keeps going and going and going and getting into a lot of trouble.
And later, do you know this guy? You sure? So, why has he changed his name again?
ZAHN: So does this sound ridiculous to you, a doctor tells an obese patient that she's obese? She then files a complaint and now the doctor is under investigation.
In a moment, I'm going to talk directly with that doctor, who says that's exactly what happened to him. First though, the story from Senior Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It seems much of what we do as doctors is tell patients things they already know. Smoking: that's bad for your health. You really need to eat better. Or, you need to lose weight.
Tough to hear sometimes but important. Sixty-five percent of Americans are overweight or obese and that condition is associated with more deaths than all chronic illnesses combined. The problem is this, though: It seems nobody is really listening. Obesity rates or the rise in adults and in children.
We are fatter than ever. Dr. Terry Bennett will never be accused of soft pedaling the issue. He wants to sound the alarm loud and clear to his patients.
BENNETT: You don't get to live to be old. Your last ten years are awful. You spend fortunes on medicine and medical treatments and they don't lengthen your life because there's a turning point where we can't recover.
GUPTA: Of course, referring to the increased likelihood of a stroke or heart attack or even cancer. But Bennett didn't stop there. He brought the issue of romance into the picture with one of his patients.
BENNETT: It's about what happens. If you've got an obese couple, the wife outlives the man by a long period: 10 years, 15 years. What do American men prefer at whatever ages and it is in every case not an obese woman.
GUPTA: The patient filed a complaint against him with the New Hampshire Board of Medicine. Now, some may find Dr. Bennett's approach overly aggressive, but the problem may be deeper than that. Despite the great leaps and bounds in treating patients, there is no tried-and-true approach when it comes to counseling patients.
DR. WILLIAM BRANCH, EMORY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: We teach the approach that we think works best. We don't teach the wild gamble or the instinct to do something different. Generally, my advice to a student would be, be plain-spoken, but be non-judgmental. Don't make the patient think you are judging them or disapproving of them. Just to say it a neutral way.
GUPTA: But even Dr. William Branch, who has been teaching students how to talk to patients for 20 years, is often surprised by what works and what doesn't.
BRANCH: One doctor in particular, broke every rule that we had written. Everything I taught the medical students, this doctor broke the rule and yet, the patients absolutely loved him. And he could be pretty gruff at times with the patient, but he had an incredible instinct for when to be gentle and when to be gruff.
GUPTA: And to be fair, another patient of Dr. Bennett's is worried that going too soft isn't working. She appreciated his approach.
MELINDA HAINEY, PATIENT: I think that's approach most doctors have taken to this point. Obviously it's not working. It's not working. I like somebody to look me in the eye and tell me the way it is without beating around the bush. And I don't like the sugar-coated talk. I want it the way it is: The truth, up front and honest.
GUPTA: But the honest approach didn't really work for Melinda. Obese for 15 years, it took a diagnosis of cancer two years ago to inspire her to start dropping the pounds.
The state medical board has not yet come to a conclusion about the case of Dr. Bennett. And society hasn't come to a conclusion either, as how doctors should talk to their patients: Straight talk or compassion -- or a little of both.
GUPTA: And to be clear, Paula, there is a bedside manner training in most medical schools today. There's been for over the last couple of decades, but admittedly, it's a soft science and there hasn't been a lot of data to support what type of behavioral intervention by a doctor to a patient actually proves the most effective in the long-term.
ZAHN: Always problems with communications in just about every sector of our lives, isn't there, Sanjay? Stay with us for a moment. I want to turn now to Dr. Terry Bennett himself, as well as Marilyn Wen, a member of the board of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. She also happens to be the author of "Fat."
So, let me get started with Dr. Bennett and what exactly did you say to your patient that got her so outraged?
BENNETT: You know, I'm not sure to this day. I mean, she got the fairly standard speech that I give. I look people in the eye as I'm giving it. I tell them it's going to be painful. I try to gauge by their body action and their facial expression whether I've gotten their attention, kept their attention or am beginning to be offensive.
ZAHN: Well, did you get her attention when you said she was obese?
BENNETT: No, not really. This patient never gave me much in the way of feedback response. So, I gave her the whole story.
ZAHN: OK. Walk through the spiel with us. You gave her the whole story. That included telling her that her husband, who is also obese, could die and then what? BENNETT: That at every step of the way, women outlive men. So that by the time you get to middle age, there are far fewer men than women on the face of the planet and certainly in the United States. And so, if her husband predeceases her, that there is a limited pool of people that she could become companions with, have fun with, go out with, go dancing with and so forth. We're not talking about her love life, we're talking about her social life.
So in the polling information, sort of recently, acquired view of NPR and Associated Press is that if you poll middle-aged American men on what their likes and dislikes are, what do they have strong likes for and strong dislikes for? Strong dislikes, obesity is head of the list.
ZAHN: Were you a little concerned that you were crossing the line there? That is something that is very personal?
BENNETT: It's also fact-based, evidence-based medicine. And again, I'm trying to get somebody's attention who's ignored everything, who is so sensitive about the issue that she won't let me weigh her. I don't have a weight for this patient in my charts. She always demurred, we'll do it next time.
ZAHN: So, Marilyn, you've heard the doctor tell his side of the story. What is it that you have the biggest problem with in his communication with his patient?
MARILYN WANN, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION TO ADVANCE FAT ACCEPTANCE: Well, first, according to the facts and the data and the research, the only thing anyone can diagnose by looking at a fat person, or weighing a fat person is their own level of prejudice against fat people. And the tragic, really dangerous fact in our society today is that when a fat person goes to a medical provider like this doctor, they're very likely to have that person confuse their own prejudices with real science.
ZAHN: But let's talk about the real science here.
WANN: The real science shows that when people like me eat their veggies and exercise regularly, we're healthier than thin people who don't. And that behavior, not BMI, is really the powerful influence. And this doctor is doing a huge disservice to any patient. And really, he's not my doctor, and he shouldn't be anybody's doctor.
ZAHN: I understand that, Marilyn, but why is it irresponsible for Dr. Bennett to explain to this patient that she's at increased risk, being overweight, for diabetes, for heart disease, for strokes?
WANN: All of those risks are correlational, not causational. And when you factor in other variables, like fitness, access to medical care, stress reduction from the discrimination that fat people face, a lot of the things that are attributed to fatness could very well be due to these other causes. And the real danger for fat people is that we don't go to the doctor because our doctors are prejudiced. And we don't get care.
ZAHN: Dr. Bennett, what about that?
BENNETT: In fact, she's wrong on a number of issues.
ZAHN: Based on what Marilyn is saying, is it possible to say anything, you think, without being prejudicial?
WANN: I'll be happy to give you plenty of facts.
BENNETT: The facts of the matter are that 70 percent of providers do not address the issue at all. Because it's so charged.
BENNETT: Seventy percent don't talk to their patients at all. They write "morbidly obese" on the chart, close the chart, next patient. If that's what you would like, Marilyn, that's what you're in process of doing.
WANN: I'd like you to keep your prejudices to yourself.
BENNETT: I have no prejudices, except that you should live to be old.
WANN: I don't believe you. I think I'm a better...
BENNETT: Well, I don't believe you.
WANN: Thank you, I don't need your permission to live a long, healthy life, like my beautiful, fat, 81-year-old mother.
BENNETT: And she's a very fortunate woman. My hat's off.
ZAHN: Marilyn, let's go back to this whole issue of what's legitimate for a doctor to say. Why is telling a patient who's overweight and who is obese that they should lose weight? Why is that any different than telling a smoker that they should quit smoking?
WANN: The analogy is very useful. Smoking is a behavior. Eating is a behavior. Exercise is a behavior. I think physicians should talk to thin and fat patients about those behaviors. Making judgments about a person's health outcome based on their weight is very inaccurate, according to the data. And I invite the good doctor to read the current medical literature.
ZAHN: All right, but Dr. Bennett said this patient wouldn't even let him weigh her. Dr. Bennett...
WANN: ... important choice for that patient.
ZAHN: A final thought today, after hearing Marilyn and some of her concerns about why overweight people are very uncomfortable going to the doctors in the first place, you get the last word. Dr. Bennett. BENNETT: I get the last word? The evidence is against Marilyn. The evidence is that obese people do not live to be old, have numerous medical situations...
WANN: He's saying that this woman is outliving her husband.
ZAHN: Dr. Bennett...
BENNETT: That's true.
ZAHN: Let's give him a chance to finish here.
BENNETT: What I've stated is true. That's the statistics. You can look up the actuarial numbers...
WANN: Actually, if you look at the CDC's current story, there's a higher mortality risk under BMI 25 than over, according to Kathryn Fliegel (ph) of the CDC.
ZAHN: Dr. Bennett, 10 seconds.
BENNETT: That may be so, but that's not the evidence that faces me in Rochester. I have lots of widows and not too many widowers.
WANN: I invite you to read the evidence.
ZAHN: All right, Dr. Terry Bennett, Marilyn Wann, giving us a very, I think, accurate picture of why the story is as controversial as it is. So let's bring the other good doctor back into the picture, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, for what we could all learn about this debate we just listened to.
GUPTA: Yeah, I mean, you know, it's interesting, and I think listening to a debate like that, it gives doctors a little bit of pause in terms of just how far to push some of these behavioral interventions with their patients.
But Paul, you know, it's interesting, I was just watching you interview these people, and I think it's a good example. I think people sort of intuitively know or they should know how far that they can push somebody. Maybe talking about the fact that obesity is more related to heart disease and stroke, but not extending it into someone's private life may be a good way to go. I don't think it's a chilling effect on doctors. I think doctors should continue to do this, Paula.
ZAHN: A man of reason, our Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who's dealt with his fair share of patients over the years. Thanks so much.
Coming up, we know their faces, but who can keep track of their names?
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Who is this guy?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's P. Diddy, or Diddy I think is his new name.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Stay with us. Jeanne Moos is keeping track of all the famous people who aren't what they used to be.
We're also going to take you back to Florida for the very latest on Hurricane Katrina, making landfall a little over two hours ago. Sustained winds of 74 miles per hour. As much as 15 inches of rain expected in some parts of Florida tonight. Be right back.
ZAHN: "LARRY KING LIVE" coming at you, 13 minutes from now. A quick preview before that with Larry. Good evening, Larry. I hear you've landed another big exclusive to your long list of exclusives tonight.
LARRY KING, HOST, LARRY KING LIVE: Thank you, Paula. We've got quite an hour ahead. Lance Armstrong, the seven-time winner of the Tour de France, once again facing dope allegations in a French newspaper. Bob Costas will be joining me as well.
Lance Armstrong for the hour, with your phone calls, right following our dear friend Paula.
ZAHN: We'll there be for you, Larry, thanks. Tell Lance we all said hello.
Right now, though, time for a quick look at the day's other top stories. Here's Erica Hill at HEADLINE NEWS.
HILL: Thanks, Paula. Rolling blackouts are affecting about 500,000 people now in California. Southern California Edison imposed the blackouts because of problems with a major power line in southern Oregon that limited the flow of electricity. Most of the customers affected are in the Los Angeles area.
In Iraq, another deadline passes, still no new constitution. The talks were already 10 days overdue. Meantime, south of Baghdad, the bodies of 36 people were found in a riverbed, all shot execution lifestyle with a bullet to their heads.
There was also an attempted assassination of a deputy prime minister, but he did escape.
The Pentagon's base closing commission approved a plan to shut the Army's Walter Reed Medical Hospital. The medical center has treated wounded veterans for 100 years. Staff and operations will move to other sites in the Washington area.
Safety advocates are criticizing the FAA's decision not to require infant seats on airliners. The FAA says the seats would be safer, but might make more parents travel by car, putting more kids at risk.
And Paula, that's the latest from HEADLINE NEWS. We'll hand it back to you.
ZAHN: Thanks, Erica.
Right now, we go quickly back to our top story. That is Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall a little over two hours ago. We're going to go straight to Hollywood, Florida, a little north of where the storm came ashore, right after this break.
ZAHN: Hurricane Katrina has now moved over Southern Florida, leaving two people dead in its wake. The eye of the storm made landfall about 6:30 p.m., between Hallendale Beach and North Miami Beach. And after moving ashore, the storm took a slight turn toward the southwest, moving through Miami-Dade County. But the storm is moving very slowly, which means it's going to dump an awful lot of rain on the folks living in its path.
David Mattingly joins me once again from Hollywood, Florida, which is halfway between Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. Winds look like they're still pretty strong there, David.
MATTINGLY: Well, Paula, it looks like we're getting pushed around a bit right now, but it's nothing at all like it was the last time you came to us. So we're catching a little bit of a break right now. The rain is still falling, though, and like you said, that's what has everybody concerned.
The ground was saturated here by mid-afternoon. Trees were going over by 4:00 and 5:00, as those tropical storm force winds came in. So now we're getting all this extra rain coming in on the back side of the storm. They've got a lot of pumping stations they have set up, pumping all this storm water out of here as quickly as they can. They may have caught a break in the timing of the storm, because the high tide isn't until well after midnight tonight. And for that reason, there might be some slight silver lining behind all these miles of clouds, because those pumping stations wouldn't do much in those low- lying areas if the Atlantic Ocean was up and backing up into the system.
So they might have caught a break there. We'll see how these pumping stations act overnight. And of course, as you were saying, already fatalities being reported, one of them a traffic fatality in Ft. Lauderdale. So this storm coming ashore, already a killer, and the night is far from over, Paula.
ZAHN: Well, if they finally catch a break there, it will be a miracle, because last year, as your audience will remember, Florida getting hit by four powerful hurricanes in all.
David Mattingly, thanks so much for the update.
We're going to take a short break. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ZAHN: (INAUDIBLE) someone will be famous as long as their name endures. But as Jeanne Moos reminds us, some people are famous because their names don't endure.
MOOS (voice-over): Never has the 16th letter of the alphabet been so insulted.
DIDDY, MUSICIAN: Enough is enough with the P getting in the way. You know, just call me Diddy.
MOOS: Easy for him to say.
(on camera): Who is this guy? What's his name?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: P. Diddy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Diddy P.
MOOS: And what was his next oldest name?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Puff Daddy.
MOOS: And then he became?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: P. Diddy.
MOOS: And now he's?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Puff P. Combs.
MOOS (voice-over): Looks like the P isn't going gently into the night.
It's tough, keeping up with celebrity name dropping. First, Jennifer Lopez opted for J.Lo, then backed off it.
And what about Snoop Dogg?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't like rap, and I don't like him, and I forget his name.
MOOS: His mom supposedly nicknamed him after the Peanuts character, because of his long, snoopy-shaped face.
First, it was Snoop Doggy Dogg.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Snoop Doggy Dogg, you need to get a jobby- job!
MOOS: Then Doggy became plain old Dogg, always with two G's. Seems like G is getting better treatment than P.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: P. Diddy.
MOOS (on camera): Diddy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Diddy. Just Diddy.
MOOS: Did he?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he?
MOOS (voice-over): He did.
DIDDY: Diddy. It's simple. You know what I'm saying? Five letters. One word. Period.
MOOS: Lately, another one-word wonder has been using her Kabbalah name, Esther.
Perhaps the king of name changers is Prince. When he recorded this song, he was known as the Artist Formerly Known as Prince.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that a guy or a woman?
MOOS: He adopted this unpronounceable symbol, combining the male and female signs, to get around a contract dispute. And when the contract was no longer a problem...
PRINCE: I will now go back to using my name instead of the symbol I adopted as a means to free myself.
MOOS: So he's back to Prince, though not everyone recognized him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She said that she thought Michael Jackson.
MOOS (on camera): Michael -- do you think this is Michael Jackson? No, that's close. Well, it's not really. Prince wouldn't like us to call him Michael Jackson.
(voice-over): And we wouldn't want to short-change this guy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 50 Cent!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) 50 Cent!
MOOS: You're all excited.
(voice-over): It's not that he's changed his nickname, it's just that the way some folks pronounce 50 Cent is an automatic laugh inducer.
AMY POHLERT, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Member of 50 Cent's entourage -- maybe I should just stop the joke right here. Actually, Tina, you know, I think I know how this fight started. Hey, that seat is 50 Cent's!
TINA FEY, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": I only have a dollar. MOOS: These French guys weren't up on Diddy's name change.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: P. Diddy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: P. Diddy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: P. Diddy.
MOOS (on camera): You know why he dropped the P? So he could get closer to his fans. Are you feeling closer?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
MOOS (voice-over): But the French guy named Rafael (ph) followed Diddy's lead with his own nickname.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Raffy.
MOOS (on camera): Raffy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Raffy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He drops the L, because -- to get closer to the fans. And happy (ph).
MOOS (voice-over): Diddy will learn that there are worse things than being called by the wrong nickname.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you're this international Mongol (sic) now. I mean, you have so much...
DIDDY: Mongol? Mogul. Mongol?
MOOS: Serves you right for diddling with your P, Diddy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Diddy.
MOOS (on camera): Diddy.
ZAHN: Diddy. Mogul. And that was Jeanne M, Jeanne Moos, who brought that to us tonight.
That's it for all of us. Tomorrow, the very latest on the impact of Hurricane Katrina, which has now made landfall in Florida. And something that happens a lot more often than you probably think. Take a guess: How many cruise ship passengers simply vanish every year? We're going to take a look at that tomorrow night. "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now, with his guest, Lance Armstrong. Have a good night.
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