Friday, September 21, 2007
Mayor's task: 'Get rid of the media'
HILDALE, Utah (CNN) -- Members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a polygamous sect, moved to this remote part of the desert to get out of the spotlight. But the harsh glare of public scrutiny is all they've been getting lately.
Their self-proclaimed prophet, Warren Jeffs, is on trial charged with being an accomplice to rape for arranging the marriage of a 14-year-old girl to her 19-year-old first cousin. So, the news media has descended on the area in search of compelling interviews and unique angles.
It's a development that's upset many residents.Click here to read more
-- From Amanda Townsend, CNN Producer
and Gary Tuchman, CNN Correspondent
Raw Politics: Hillary: Cheney = Darth Vader
President Bush slams Democratic spending while Hillary Clinton attacks Republican dithering and cracks a joke about Vice President Cheney. CNN's Tom Foreman reports. (Click image at left to play video)
Thursday, September 20, 2007
White residents protest coverage
I came to Jena, Louisiana, a week ago Friday, the day an appeals court ruled Mychal Bell should have been tried in juvenile court.
Many of white residents I have interviewed believe civil rights leaders and the media are unfairly focusing a microscope on the predominately white town.
Today, as the crowd swelled at the Lasalle Parish baseball field, Jesse Jackson compared the demonstration to historic civil rights marches, like Selma and Montgomery.
Jackson talked openly about how he wished Mychal Bell -- who remains jailed -- and Justin Barker could sit down in a room and talk out their differences.
Our crew went to a community fair last weekend to talk with the town's residents. Most just wanted us to be gone, and they denied racism played a role in the charges against the so-called Jena 6. And many white residents I interviewed said they weren't going to watch the rally.
One of Bell's attorneys told me it's hard to be imbedded in a culture and a community and be able to look at yourself objectively.
The courts will judge the Jena 6, but history will have its day with this march.
-- By Sean Callebs, CNN Correspondent
Marchers seek out infamous tree
Correspondent Susan Roesgen and I are here at Jena High School. Yesterday Al Sharpton called it the scene of the crime.
Last August, some black students here sat under a tree that for years was reputedly a gathering point for white students. The next day nooses hung from the branches. White students said it was a prank, but to black students the implied message seemed clear.
This morning when we arrived, there were only a few state police officers on hand. Very few people were expecting this to be a rallying point. There are no porta potties here, there's no water, and there is no food.
Nonetheless, marchers started streaming over the hill towards us around 10 a.m. local time and they just kept coming by the thousands. The few police officers were no match for the crowd when they decided to head onto school property toward the imfamous tree.
The tree was cut down before the start of school and the stump was removed, but marchers are flocking to the spot where it once stood. They're touching the dirt, feeling for the roots. It is for many the reason they came to Jena. People are asking for us for a leaf and one guy is holding what he claims to be a root.
-- By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Producer
Raw Politics: Giuliani crosses the pond
Rudy Giuliani heads to Europe while an ad war ensues at home. CNN's Tom Foreman reports all that and more in Raw Politics. (Click image at left to play video)
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
"This new OJ story will be about as exciting as the 20th rerun of an episode of Cops."
That's just one of the comments in response to my blog post
about O.J. Simpson's alleged armed robbery. Many of you were angry (and clever and funny) in saying "360" should not devote an entire hour to him. By the way, thanks for not personally taking it out on me.
But I'm sorry, the case is hard to resist. And while we promise to cover other, more important stories making news tonight, we will also continue to follow the Simpson saga.
Before you fire off an e-mail or decide not to watch this evening, hear me out.
O.J. Simpson is a public figure and former sports icon, who, despite overwhelming forensic evidence, was acquitted of murdering his wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend, Ron Goldman in a racially charged case that was billed as the trial of the century. He was eventually found liable in civil court for the killings.
Since the not guilty verdict, Simpson has moved to Florida, played golf, signed autographs, vowed to find the real killer, and found time to write a book hypothetically confessing to the double murder. He has had several run-ins with the police. In addition, Simpson refuses to give over any money to the Goldman family, who were awarded a $33.5 million judgment against Simpson.
Now he's charged with kidnapping, assault and armed robbery in an alleged casino room sports memorabilia heist that involved dubious characters, to say the least. Simpson may soon be free on bail. Some experts say he craves the attention.
Given who he is what he may or may not have done, how can we ignore it?
-- By Gabe Falcon, "360" Writer
Booking the O.J. case
O.J. Simpson appears in a Las Vegas, Nevada, courtroom for a bail hearing Wednesday.
When word spread Sunday evening of OJ Simpson's arrest, I knew that the demand for people to talk about him would be high. This creates a challenge for us, the "360" guest producers, as we are always trying to get that unique interview, the first interview, the exclusive. Immediately, our team began putting out calls to anyone who was quoted in newspapers and wires as well as the Goldman and Brown families.
I'm often asked, "How do you find your guests?" Well, here's a little insight into the life of a guest producer, also known as a booker. I keep every number of every guest I have booked in a file in my computer that is separated by subject and is alphabetical. So it's easy to call someone I've booked in the past, such as Denise Brown, as soon as a story like this breaks.
There is also a database within CNN that keeps a record of who was on TV in the past. It goes back 12 years. This has helped, but many of the previous players in the case have moved on and their contact info from 1995 is outdated. So that leads to a process of trying to find out where they live and work now, and thus I have become a master at Internet search.
We also receive numerous calls and emails from publicists touting their "OJ expert." While some of them have proved helpful, most of the "experts" know very little about the case outside of what has been reported.
We have been able to find some of the people involved in the previous cases, including someone Anderson interviewed Monday night: Daniel Petrocelli, Fred Goldman's attorney in the civil case against Simpson. Also, one of the best assets CNN has is our own Jeffrey Toobin, who wrote the NY Times bestseller "The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson." You'll see Jeff on the show tonight giving us his insights into today's arraignment.
(A note -- you may have heard Simpson's attorneys complaining today in Las Vegas that a number of attorneys have been falsely claiming they represent Mr. Simpson. They were especially upset that some news organizations -- including our competitors -- had put these attorneys on the air and allowed them to talk as "knowledgeable insiders" about the case, when in fact, they were not. A large part of our job is to "vet" our guests. We need to be sure people are really who they say they are. We have not aired any of these poseurs.)
Another thing we do is send a booker to the story, so our Deb Huberman is out in Las Vegas trying to make contact with the parties involved. In my experience, it's the face-to-face meetings that get the best results, so I'm sure by tonight's show, you'll see the fruit of Deb's work. And now I'm off to find Anderson's next great interview.
-- By Kay Jones, Editorial Producer
Raw Politics: A heavenly lawsuit
The 'Obamarama' talks taxes, new polls are released, and guess who's getting sued? CNN's Tom Foreman reports the Raw Politics. (Click image at left to play video)
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Friends, family: McCanns struggled to have kids
Editor's note: This is an early look at a story that will be featured in tonight's program.
ROTHLEY, England -- Before Kate and Gerry McCann became known as the parents of a missing 4-year-old girl named Madeleine, they were simply a pair of doctors with three kids: Madeleine and twins Amelie and Shawn.
Gerry McCann loved golf. Kate McCann was a working mom with dreams of a large family. Gerry McCann's boss and golfing buddy, Dr. Doug Skehan, said their lives were picture perfect.
"One has to say they had everything you would want for," he told CNN. "They'd got into medicine and been successful. They were able to rise to good positions. They have a family and a settled situation and suddenly everything is turned into a nightmare."Click here to read more
-- By Randi Kaye, CNN Correspondent
Raw Politics: Hillary-care ... again?
Hillary Clinton on healthcare and John McCain on religion. CNN's Tom Foreman reports. (Click image at left to play video)
Monday, September 17, 2007
How much O.J. is too much?
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas ... unless you're O.J. Simpson.
Call it shameless, tasteless, even preposterous, but we are devoting tonight's program to the trials and tribulations of the world's most famous former murder defendant.
I know, I know there are far more important stories to cover. There's the war, the war over the war, the president's new choice for U.S. attorney general, the economy, we can go on and on.
But this fascination with Orenthal James Simpson (and I must admit I'm guilty of it) is too great to ignore. More than 10 years after he was acquitted of killing his ex-wife and her friend, the Heisman Trophy-winner continues to make headlines and for all the wrong reasons.
The case out of Nevada is chock full of goodies for Simpson addicts, with accusations of armed robbery, a purported audiotape of the heist, Simpson's conversations with our own CNN's Ted Rowlands, and a smorgasbord of other details that we'll discuss this evening. (Click on this link to hear the audiotape
We're going to deal with the Simpson saga with the smartest guests around. CNN Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who wrote the best-seller, "The Run of His Life: The People Versus O.J. Simpson" will be with us tonight. So will Daniel Petrocelli, the attorney behind the wrongful death suit against the ex-NFL star.
We also may have Denise Brown on "360". You can be sure the sister of Nicole Brown has plenty to say about Simpson.
Then there's the money trail. He owes millions to the Brown and Goldman families, but they are having a tough time getting Simpson to pay, even though his yearly pension from the NFL is estimated at $400,000.
Have you had your fill of O.J. yet?
-- By Gabe Falcon, "360" Writer