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California Ready For Recall?; Interview With Clint Eastwood

Aired October 6, 2003 - 20:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Less than 24 hours to the recall and the race is tightening. But with eight pages, 138 names, and the dreaded chads, are California voters ready for the recall ballot?
Standing by her man, Maria Shriver, a Kennedy, a journalist and now a candidate's wife, facing the final hours before the vote and new allegations about her husband's conduct with women.

And Clint Eastwood on his career, his new movie, and California politics.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening and welcome. I'm Soledad O'Brien. Paula Zahn will be back tomorrow.

Also ahead tonight, we'll bring you the very latest on the condition of Roy Horn of Siegfried & Roy, recovering after a tiger mauled him during their Las Vegas stage show on Friday.

Also, facing rising casualties in costs and a falling approval rating, the president revamps his Iraq and Afghanistan teams. Will more White House control make a difference?

And should a mother be held criminally responsible for contributing to the suicide of her child? We'll have the verdict in the case in Connecticut of the mother whose 12-year-old son hanged himself.

But first, here are some of the headlines you need to know right now.

With a deadline looming, about 500 White House staffers have complied with a Justice Department order to turn over any files relevant to the CIA leak investigation. A senior administration official says the overwhelming majority of the staffers certified they had no such documents. About 1,500 more White House employees have until 5:00 p.m. tomorrow to comply with the order.

President Bush says Israel has every right to self-defense. But, in his first public comments since the Israeli airstrike in Syria, Mr. Bush also expressed some caution. He says it's important for Israel to avoid creating higher tensions in the region.

And the power's finally back in Iraq. An official with the Army Corps of Engineers says that the entire country had full electrical power Sunday night, for the first time since even before the war began. Turning now to the California recall, the major candidates are pulling out all the stops tonight. And some new polls indicate the race is tightening up, giving new hope to Governor Gray Davis. "In Focus" tonight, the most closely state watched state election in U.S. history.

Joining us this evening from Los Angeles, our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, senior political analyst Bill Schneider, and Terry McCarthy, L.A. bureau chief for "TIME" magazine.

Good evening to all of you.

And Bill, let's begin with you.

We have seen Arnold Schwarzenegger brushing off criticisms about groping women and actually being able to sort of not answer questions specifically when pressed for a little more answers.

Do you think, Bill, there's any sense that this is affecting his campaign in any way?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: I think there's a sense that it's halted the momentum that he had going into the last week of the campaign.

After the debate on September 23, he really seemed to gain momentum. Voters were reassured that he could do the job. And they lost faith in the other candidates, including Gray Davis. But then these stories, when they came out on Thursday, appeared to have halted his momentum. But did they turn the campaign around? That's the big question.

I haven't seen any clear indication that they've halted his momentum and reversed it, so that he could lose on that second ballot vote.

O'BRIEN: Bill, Tom McClintock has said, if these allegations are indeed true, then Arnold Schwarzenegger should drop out of the race. Is anyone in the campaign taking that seriously?

SCHNEIDER: I don't think anyone expects Arnold Schwarzenegger to drop out of this race, no matter what Tom McClintock says. But it is a danger for Schwarzenegger, because Tom McClintock represents a resting place for a lot of Republicans who may be reluctant to support Arnold Schwarzenegger, given the nature of these charges.

And they say, well, you know, there is another Republican on the ballot, Tom McClintock, a good conservative, whom a lot of voters say they admire. They said he won the debate. But they've been unwilling to vote for him, because they thought that, if they vote for him, they could be taking votes away from the front-running Republican.

So, if they decide they can't bring themselves to vote for Schwarzenegger, McClintock is a good alternative. That would split the Republican vote and it could -- it just might elect the one credible Democrat on the ballot, Cruz Bustamante. O'BRIEN: Candy is covering Gray Davis for us this evening.

Candy, you look at the recent polls, 52 percent of the those polled said that said they would vote to oust Gray Davis. That number dropped to 44 percent by Saturday in the wake of these allegations of sexual misconduct by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Is this giving momentum to the governor?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's certainly giving a lot of hope.

It's really hard to tell, as Bill will tell you, with these polls, because the Schwarzenegger campaign gives you one set. A newspaper or a poll gives you another. And then, of course, the Davis campaign gives you another set. But, clearly, this has affected the vote. And the Davis campaign believes it's in their favor, not necessarily because it makes people like Gray Davis better, but because, on the one question that Gray Davis is involved in, it's about, do you want to recall this governor or not?

Gray Davis has framed this as a race between him and Arnold Schwarzenegger. So the worst Arnold Schwarzenegger looks, one of two things may happen, according to how the Davis campaign sees it. First, people who might have voted for Arnold because they really don't like Gray Davis may sit home -- these guys are all alike, a philander, and a politician -- and just not bother to vote.

Or -- and Bill brought up the McClintock vote -- the Davis campaign believes that some Republicans would go ahead and vote no on the recall, and then vote for McClintock just to make a statement, thereby giving Davis the vote. So pretty complicated, but they believe, in the end, that this will help Davis.

O'BRIEN: All right, let's turn to Terry to get some questions about how specifically this balloting will work.

Terry, it's very complicated. In L.A., parts of L.A., you have an eight-page ballot. In other parts of the state, you have cards. Some of them are pink. They go into, some of these pink cards, orange envelopes, in some cases. This is a system that's different across the entire state. Give me a sense of just how complicated this is and how it will affect the vote.

TERRY MCCARTHY, L.A. BUREAU CHIEF, "TIME": Well, let me first say, you have got to pity the Californian voter, because it's really come down to a contest between the boorish and the boring. You've got the boorish Arnold and you've got the boring Gray Davis.

People don't know who they're going to vote for. And then they are going to get this, which is the ballot. This is a sample ballot. It's eight pages. You have got the question. Whether you want to replace the governor is on page one. It's up here. Then, you have got to go through all the rest to find who you're going to vote for.

Now, in this particular sample, Arnold and Cruz Bustamante are on page two, here and here. And then you keep going through. If you want to vote for, for example, Tom McClintock, he's on page 7. He's here. And that's an eight-page ballot. It's not easy to work out. In addition to the question who you want to vote for, after the recall, there are two separate propositions. So there's eight pages to wade through. It's not an easy thing to work out.

O'BRIEN: And then let's talk a little bit about the absentee voters; 2.7 million absentee votes were sent out. Half have been returned. This is before the allegations of sexual misconduct. How could that impact the race?

MCCARTHY: Well, that's an interesting question.

I just saw the secretary of state's latest bulletin. I think it's up to 3.3 million absentee votes. They've gotten 2.3 million back. These people mostly have voted before, as you say, the allegations of sexual misconduct came up. You would assume that a lot of those people would have voted early because they had made up their minds already, so they may not have changed their votes very much had they waited until the last minute.

But it is a big incalculable. And, on top of that, of course, it does mean that the counting process is going to be difficult, because there's another million votes out there that haven't yet been counted. If they all come in in the last -- and they can hand them in up until tomorrow, then you have got a bunch of absentee ballots which have to be counted at some stage after the main counting is done. And that could delay the final result of this vote.

O'BRIEN: More complications on top of an already complicated race.

Terry McCarthy, as always, thanks. And, Candy and Bill, thanks to you as well.

A little bit later, we're going to have a little bit of a debate on the so-called October surprise. Were accusations about Arnold Schwarzenegger held until the final week of the campaign in order to inflict the most damage? We're going to hear from California's Republican and Democratic state leaders.

Entertainer Roy Horn remains in critical condition three days after he was mauled by a tiger during a performance of the Siegfried & Roy show in Las Vegas. Siegfried & Roy have been performing with these tigers for years. But even with experienced handlers, big cats can be dangerous.

Lewis Dorfman is an expert. He is an animal behaviorist with the International Exotic Feline Sanctuary. And he joins us from Dallas this evening.

Good evening. Nice to have you. Thanks for joining us.


O'BRIEN: I know that you are familiar with Siegfried & Roy act. And, in fact, we have got some videotape of the part of the act -- in fact, I think this is where this attack actually happened, a previously shot videotape, obviously -- where Roy apparently was put thing the leash down for the tiger. And, in some ways, you have said this is the most dangerous point in the act. Is that correct?

DORFMAN: That's correct, because the cat is not focused on anything. The cat's mind is open to any stimulation that's external. And while a cat may look relaxed and at ease, it may be a bundle of nerves inside.

O'BRIEN: So what would the cat normally be focused on at that moment when, if it's not focused on anything, what is it focused on generally?

DORFMAN: Well, when a cat is moving around and when it has an object -- for instance, in most of that act, the cat is moving from place to place to a target. So that's a very safe part of their act. The part of the act that I think is by far the most dangerous is when the cat is stationary and its stress level is up, because it's in an unfamiliar surrounding. And then it mind is free to build up that stress and anxiety.

O'BRIEN: The tiger, apparently, bit Roy Horn on the arm, at which point Mr. Horn tapped the tiger on the nose with the microphone in order to get the attention. In your mind, was this the critical mistake?


Well, probably the most critical mistake was, these cats usually give you some subtle warning, and I'm sure Roy -- I'm absolutely sure Roy is capable of recognizing that. The problem is, he's doing a show, so he's not totally focused on the cat. And he probably missed that warning. So that was the most critical spot. Then, when the cat grabbed hold of his arm, that's an outlet for the cat's anxiety and stress level. But when he hit the cat, all that does is build up more tension and anxiety. You can't overcome the violence of a 500-pound tiger with more violence.

O'BRIEN: Some people have said, you can train them, but you can never tame them. You've worked with these animals for years. Do you think that's an accurate assessment?

DORFMAN: It is accurate.

It took 15,000 years to domesticate a dog from a wolf. You don't -- these are always wild animals. They're never tame and they're never domesticated.

O'BRIEN: Lewis Dorfman, thanks for your time this evening. Certainly appreciate it.

DORFMAN: You bet.

O'BRIEN: Let's get some more now on Roy Horn and his condition.

Jeff Flock joins us with an update from Las Vegas. Jeff, good evening.

JEFF FLOCK, CNN CHICAGO BUREAU CHIEF: Good evening to you, Soledad.

Indeed, University Medical Center here in Las Vegas -- I just talked to hospital officials just a short time ago. And Roy Horn remains in critical, but stable condition. They say that is good, concern that perhaps there might be some worsening.

There was some positive news today, though, in that there was some communication between Mr. Horn and his doctors. He was able to move his hands, as well as move his feet, which they say is a very good sign, also to give them the thumbs-up signal, again, very good sign, because he experienced a stroke after that attack on Friday, lost a lot of blood, but then had a stroke. There was concern perhaps there was brain damage.

At this point, there's still concerned about that. But the fact that he's communicating in some way is certainly, Soledad, good news tonight in Las Vegas.

O'BRIEN: Right, some good news there, as you say, Jeff Flock reporting for us from Vegas tonight. Jeff, thanks.

Shakeup at the White House, as the president puts a new team in charge of rebuilding Iraq.

We'll go on the Schwarzenegger campaign trail with Maria Shriver.

And Paula Zahn's interview with Oscar winner Clint Eastwood on politics, on his new film, and why he's retired Dirty Harry.


O'BRIEN: In what some observers say is a sign of frustration, the White House itself is taking a more direct role in rebuilding Iraq. Today, it announced the creation of an Iraq stabilization group. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice will be in charge of the group, which will be responsible for the day-to-day administration of Iraq.

For more on this, I'm joined by former Pentagon spokeswoman and regular contributor Victoria Clarke.

Torie, good evening. Nice to have you. Thanks for joining us.


O'BRIEN: You're welcome.

Is this in any way an admission of the fact that the plans for reconstruction and in fact the efforts to squash violence in Iraq were unsuccessful so far, do you think?

CLARKE: Well, a couple of things. If you look at the facts, and if you look at the facts on the ground, there are some things that are going quite well in Iraq. There are some things that aren't. There have been setbacks. I think most people who were there and understand what's going on know it will take time. I think this new process or new structure that was announced is a recognition of two things.

The president and the entire national security team know how important it is. They know how important it is to get this country up on its feet again; and that, two, they'll devote the right resources and the right people. There's no better way to make sure that something gets all the attention and all the priority it deserves than to put the White House in charge of it, which is what this is about.

And, secondly, I think the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, is the one who said it's a recognition of where we are in the process. And it's a morphing process. You can never, at this stage, separate the security, what the military is really doing, the security of the situation there, from the economic and the social sectors that you want to get up and running.

But we are starting to shift into some other phases there. And it's a recognition that there are a lot of people in this government that have a lot to offer in those sectors.

O'BRIEN: Is the president staking his presidency on success in Iraq, do you think?

CLARKE: I've heard people talking about that today. And I don't know him as well as some people do, but I know how he thinks about these issues, and I know how the national security team thinks about these issues.

They don't make the decisions based on what they think is good politically. They make their decisions on what they think is best for Iraq, how to help those people, how to create the conditions, so they can get the country moving, path toward democracy.


CLARKE: Wait. No, let me finish. And they do what they think is best for this country, which is helping Iraq get up on its feet again.

And I'm just of the old school that says good policy is good politics. So I think it will all work out in the end.

O'BRIEN: Maybe a better way to phrase that question, then, is to say, if the reconstruction is unsuccessful or if the timeline is so long that it doesn't coincide with the upcoming election, do you think the president is going to have a major problem with reelection?

CLARKE: Again, they're going to do what they think is best for Iraq. And, quite frankly, what is good for Iraq is good for us.

And I think, increasingly, people in this country are aware of the fact that the ongoing war on terror, of which Iraq and its reconstruction is a part, is a domestic priority for us. I think people are increasingly aware of that. And it's not a case of either/or. It's not national security vs. domestic policy. They are just -- they are absolutely intertwined.

I think people recognize that. One of the good things about not working at the Pentagon for the last couple of months is, I've been outside of Washington. I've talking to real people. And I think they have got the stomach for this. I think they know it will take time. They also know how important it is.

O'BRIEN: Torie Clarke, nice to see you, as always. Thanks so much.

CLARKE: Good to see you. Thanks.

CLARKE: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: And coming up: She is the niece of the president and now could be the first lady of California, Maria Shriver, now weathering the storm over allegations about her husband.

And new research on whether dieting and children are a good mix.


O'BRIEN: Arnold Schwarzenegger's wife, Maria Shriver, has emerged as her husband's No. 1 supporter lately, this despite allegations the candidate for governor of California groped and humiliated several women over a span of three decades.

But, as Charles Feldman reports, her current role might be a family tradition.


TAMMY WYNETTE, SINGER (singing): Stand by your man and show the world you love him.

CHARLES FELDMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The late Tammy Wynette's signature song, "Stand By Your Man," could be the anthem for Kennedy women throughout the decades.

WENDY LEIGH, AUTHOR: There's a tremendous history of Kennedy women standing by unfaithful men. It goes right back to Rose Kennedy.

FELDMAN: Wendy Leigh, who has written a biography of Arnold Schwarzenegger, wrote about the Kennedy women for "The London Daily Mail." Kennedy family matriarch Rose, she says, stuck by husband, Joe, even when he carried on a very visible affair with screen legend Gloria Swanson.

LEIGH: He actually brought Gloria Swanson on a cruise with them, even though he was having an affair with her. Rose turned a blind eye over and over and drowned her sorrows in shopping. FELDMAN: Jacqueline Kennedy apparently learned some lessons from her mother-in-law, carrying on as first lady with great dignity, even though her husband, the president of the United States, was have extramarital affairs with, among others, reportedly, Marilyn Monroe.

Joseph Cerrell worked with John Kennedy for several years. He says he was unaware at the time of any Kennedy infidelities. As to why Jackie Kennedy would stand by her husband...

JOSEPH CERRELL, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: In this fast world of politics, there are those who would say it's part of the terrain. It goes with the job.

FELDMAN: Other Kennedy women stood by their husbands, despite the swirl of rumors around them. Ethel Kennedy, at least publicly, seemed to ignore stories that Robert Kennedy, like his brother, also had an after with Marilyn Monroe. And Joan Kennedy for the longest time backed her husband, Ted Kennedy, even after a young woman drowned in his car.

But Maria Shriver, JFK's niece, would seem to be cut from a different cloth. Unlike many other Kennedy women, Shriver has a career of her own as an NBC anchor and correspondent. She has proved to be an aggressive reporter in her own right covering political conventions. Yet, when reporters turned their questions on her, asking about her husband's alleged sexual past, she proved an equally aggressive defender of her husband's honor.

MARIA SHRIVER, WIFE OF ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER: I grew up in a political family and I've been through this my whole life. Nothing hurts, because I know the man that I'm married to.

LEIGH: Women who marry Kennedy men, I believe, are women who are intoxicated by power and who will live with a situation that would lower the esteem of most women, because they take joy in the compensation of being close to a man of stupendous power and great charisma.

FELDMAN: The Kennedy women, a history of loyalty and a history of being put to the test under the intense glare of a political campaign.

Charles Feldman, CNN, Los Angeles.


O'BRIEN: Allegations about groping women and comments about Hitler, dirty political tricks or legitimate reporting as the campaign winds down? That's our debate tonight.

And Paula Zahn's interview with a screen legend, Clint Eastwood.


O'BRIEN: And now some stories you need to know. A pro hockey star is charged with vehicular homicide in a crash that killed a teammate. Dany Heatley of the Atlanta Thrashers is recovering from injuries he suffered when police say he lost control of his speeding car. Thrashers player Dan Snyder was a passenger, and he died last night.

Martha Stewart has filed court papers asking a judge to dismiss two of the five counts against her. The lifestyle guru is accused of securities fraud and other charges. Her lawyers say that the charges that Stewart deceived her own stockholders and obstructed investigators should be dropped.

The Supreme Court won't hear a dispute involving the Beach Boys. Former guitarist Al Jardine had been seeking permission to use the words Beach Boys in the name of his traveling band, despite opposition from other surviving band members.

And we turn now to our debate on the California recall. Was Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign hit with an October surprise? Were the allegations about offensive behavior toward women and provocative comments about Adolf Hitler deliberately timed to inflict the most damage?

Joining us from Los Angeles this evening, Duf Sundheim. He is the chairman of California's Republican Party. And Art Torres, his Democratic counterpart.

Good evening, gentlemen. Nice to see you.


O'BRIEN: Mr. Torres, let's begin with you. "The L.A. Times" article about women -- the numerous women who were making allegations about Arnold Schwarzenegger comes out just days before the election. Shouldn't voters be suspicious about this timing?

ART TORRES, CALIF. DEMOCRATIC CHMN.: Well, I think they ought to look at it carefully. Obviously if it was going to come out, I would have preferred it to come out a month, two months ago. But I had no control over it nor any contact with the "L.A. Times", and they so stated in their publication. We're now looking at 15 women who have come forward. Their charges are serious enough to constitute a criminal investigation and I think that ought to happen.

O'BRIEN: In addition, Duf, at the same time you've got these alleged comments that Arnold Schwarzenegger's said to have made about Adolph Hitler finding their way into the front pages of newspapers across the country as well. Do you think all of this was orchestrated to bring down Arnold Schwarzenegger?

DUF SUNDHEIM, CALIF. REPUBLICAN CHMN.: Absolutely. In fact, in Maureen Dowd, the liberal columnist -- in her column yesterday, indicated that when she was out in California she was told by the Davis camp -- quote -- "As soon as Schwarzenegger went up in the polls, the Davis camp was prepared to blast him on women and play it out in all its seamy glory." Then a few weeks ago, when Art was on a radio show, he blurted it out and called Arnold a misogynist and a predator, and Gray Davis, when he was confronted it....


SUNDHEIM: Art, I didn't interrupt you. Please don't interrupt you.

TORRES: Well, don't make misstatements about what I said.


O'BRIEN: OK. Gentlemen, I'll give you the ground rules, and I know you know them, but I'm just going to repeat them anyway. One at a time, because it's impossible for me to hear you both. So why don't you finish up your thought, Mr. Sundheim...

SUNDHEIM: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: ....and then we're going to let Mr. Torres jump in. Go ahead.

SUNDHEIM: And when Mr. Davis was first confronted with this last Thursday -- now this is the person who's Gary South (ph) brought all this stuff out years ago. Gray Davis on Thursday said this is the first he's heard of these allegations. I think he doth protest too much. I think it's very clear that this is part of a coordinated effort by Davis to change the focus from the failed leadership of Davis and try to make it an issue about Schwarzenegger, on which he's apologized.

O'BRIEN: Art Torres is shaking his head no.

TORRES: Well, I think -- the polls are closing, because people, especially women, are very concerned about these allegations, and it's so -- so usual the pattern, when someone raises these issues, especially a woman, they are the ones put down as liars, they didn't tell the truth, and trying to change the subject, rather than the -- oh, yes you are. And so is Arnold. He says he doesn't remember, then he says he remembers. He told Tom Brokaw just -- that nothing had happened, and then when pushed, he said, Well, maybe it did. Well, he has to come clean with the people of California if we're going to believe him to be the leader of the largest state in the union.

As far as I'm concerned, I believe Senator Feinstein when she said that Arnold is not fit to be governor, given these questions that need to be resolved by Election Day and only he can resolve them.

O'BRIEN: Duf, I asked you the question whether this was all orchestrated to bring down Arnold Schwarzenegger. Is it working? Are you finding that what you've term as the negative campaigning, this orchestrated negative campaigning, is working to close the gap between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gray Davis?

SUNDHEIM: Not at all. In fact I was... TORRES: I'm sorry.

SUNDHEIM: That's all right, Art.

I was walking precincts yesterday, and, Soledad, when I went up to the door and just showed a picture of Arnold, people were saying I'm for him, I'm going to vote on Tuesday. We already have had 2.1 million people in this states casting their ballots so far. People can't wait to vote to replace the governor that has tripled the car tax, raised our utility bills and been selling our state to the highest bidder.


SUNDHEIM: So it's -- it's an exciting time.

O'BRIEN: We don't have a ton of time, but I want each of you to weigh in what you think is going to happen tomorrow, so I can follow- up with you and see if you were right or you were wrong.

Art Torres, you expecting a landslide, no on the recall?

TORRES: Well, right now, no on the recall I think is going to win. The polls are closing -- the Knight Ridder poll indicated that the support for the recall is softening. Based upon that, plus when I was walking precincts yesterday, I was showing pictures of Gray Davis too. And they said, We're no on the recall, and we want to support this governor because 8,000 new jobs for California, revenue is increasing, businesses are not leaving. This is a solid record that ought not to be tainted by this recall, which is going to cost taxpayers close to $75 million.

O'BRIEN: Duf, jump in and give me your prediction as well. Do you expect a landslide for Arnold Schwarzenegger?

SUNDHEIM: I think he's going -- the governor is going to be recalled, and then Arnold Schwarzenegger will win the second ballot, because the people of California want to see a change, and Arnold provides that change.

O'BRIEN: All right. Well, gentlemen, thank you so much for your time. Clearly, you're not walking the same...

TORRES: One more thing, Paula -- happy birthday to Mrs. Sundheim!

SUNDHEIM: Thank you, Art. It is my mom's birthday, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Look at this. A little yelling and screaming during the segment, but then you kiss and make up at the end. And clearly, you're not walking the same precincts...

TORRES: We're Californians, sticking together.

(CROSSTALK) O'BRIEN: Yes, I lived there for a long time. I know exactly what you're talking about. Gentlemen, thanks so much, and happy birthday


O'BRIEN: And we should mention that CNN's going to have complete coverage of the California recall vote beginning at 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time on "AMERICAN MORNING."

Well, like any other Hollywood action hero, there is a political side to actor and director Clint Eastwood. He once took on city hall in Carmel, California by running for mayor and winning. But one two- year term was enough for him as an elected official.


CLINT EASTWOOD, ENTERTAINER: When the total recall thing started I -- people started saying, Hey, Clint, why don't you get in? You know, I'll get the guys across the street working on a building, Hey, Clint run for it, you know, governor.


O'BRIEN: Clint Eastwood talks about music and politics and music, and much more with Paula Zahn.


O'BRIEN: In what is believed to be one of the first cases of its kind, a Connecticut woman has been convicted of contributing to the suicide of a 12-year-old son. Prosecutors say Judith Scruggs had created a filthy home that kept her son from improving his hygiene, an issue that reportedly came -- became a constant source of ridicule from his classmates.

Joining us this evening, Scruggs' attorney, Reese Norris.

Good evening. Thanks for joining us.


O'BRIEN: Your client was convicted on risk of injury charge, meaning that she was guilty of intentionally maintaining an environment that put her son at risk. Can you give me a sense of specifically what that meant?

NORRIS: Sure. In this case, it meant that basically an allegation that she had a messy house. She was initially charged with putting his life and limb at risk. She was found not guilty of that. And she was also found not guilty of putting him at risk for failing to get psychological care or also for being cruel to him.

O'BRIEN: Did you ever think your client would be convicted?

NORRIS: Honestly, no. I've never heard of anyone arrested as a result of a child's suicide. And not one expert testified that there was anything about that house which put his health at risk.

O'BRIEN: Did you want a plea bargain? Did you have an opportunity to plea bargain in this case?

NORRIS: This was a case which had to be tried. Who could ask a parent to go through the rest of the life feeling that somehow they had a responsibility for the suicide of their child, when there had been no threats of suicide, no prior suicide attempts?

O'BRIEN: But in fact, that's exactly what a jury found. She faces prison time. Realistically, how much time could she get, do you think?

NORRIS: The maximum term of imprisonment for this offense is 10 years, but we still have a pending motion before the judge to set aside the verdict.

O'BRIEN: You made the argument in court that this child, this 12-year-old boy, was the target of truly mercilous bullying from children, other children in his class. Apparently the jury did not buy that. Why do you think that was the case?

NORRIS: It's hard to believe, because the prosecutor agreed with me in his final argument that Daniel was the subject of bullying. And so it was not even contested between the two sides. So if the jury didn't accept it, that's impossible to understand in this case.

O'BRIEN: Mrs. Scruggs is a single mother who worked two jobs to keep her kids fed. You have said that you think this is going to set a dangerous precedent. What kind of precedent do you think it sets?

NORRIS: Well, I think it's a dangerous precedent when the police come into someone's home, and now we're going to be the judges of how good a housekeeper they are. You have got to understand that although there were clothes in this house, not one officer said they examined the clothes, and in fact the defense witnesses testified that there were clean clothes. There was certainly no contrary evidence introduced at trial.

O'BRIEN: All right. Reese Norris, nice to have you. Thanks for joining us. We certainly appreciate it.

NORRIS: You're quite welcome.

O'BRIEN: We're going to talk a little bit more about this case. Joining us from Stamford, Connecticut this evening is criminal defense attorney Mickey Sherman. Mickey, good evening, thanks for joining us.


O'BRIEN: It's always nice to see you. What do you make of this case?

SHERMAN: You know, I think it's one of these situations where you have a tragedy, you have an absolute horrific event, the boy hangs himself. And I think the jury -- somehow the criminal justice system needed to find someone at fault. And as Reese points out -- Reese is actually being overly modest -- not only did he convince the jury to find this woman not guilty on two of these counts, he had the judge find the woman not guilty before it ever got to the jury, on the most serious count. So as Reese said, she was found guilty not of contributing to the mental state, but of basically having a messy house. And that does send a pretty scary message out there.

O'BRIEN: But then you're saying that the defense attorney who we just chatted with, Mr. Norris, did not drop the ball in this case?

SHERMAN: Far from it.

O'BRIEN: How are prosecutors able to make a case that an extremely dirty home, let's say an out-and-out filthy home, contributed to this young boy's suicide?

SHERMAN: First of all, Reese Norris is not somebody who dropped the ball. He's one of the best attorneys in the state. And I don't say that because I've known the man; it's just a fact.

The bottom line is when a jury gets a case, nothing is ever planned. Very often they decide that they're going to solve this case, regardless of what the state provides, regardless of what the defense puts out there or the judge says. Sometimes they just go off on their own. I'm not trying to be overly critical of them, but I think sometimes they're unduly influenced by the fact that we have a dead boy and somebody has got to be held responsible, so they bridge that gap sometimes when it's not very fair to do that.

O'BRIEN: Is it your sense that if this boy had not committed suicide, that child protective services in Connecticut would have come into the home and taken the kids away?

SHERMAN: Not even. As I understand it, the children protective services folks let this woman off. They said -- they gave her a clean bill of goods. They signed off on this case. It's the state's attorney and the criminal justice system that ran with it.

Were it not for the death, there would be no case here, without a doubt.

O'BRIEN: Mr. Norris talked a little bit about I guess what's fair to call a slippery slope, sort of the precedent that's being set. Are you concerned about that as well?

SHERMAN: I am. And I think he hits the right point there. What happened here is the boy took his life, and then the police came to investigate, and the woman invited them into her home and said, well, this is what happened and these are his problems, and as they're there, they are looking around, they're seeing that the house is apparently filthy, or certainly not up to their standards, and they started their own investigation, not about the suicide, but about whether or not she's a fit mother by reason of the way she kept her house. So, you know, do you not cooperate with the police when a tragedy goes on in your home? It's not a good message.

O'BRIEN: It truly is a bizarre case. Do you think there's grounds for an appeal here, Mickey?

SHERMAN: I didn't follow the case day by day, so I don't know the legal issues that are involved, and unfortunately, you know, you just can't appeal a verdict because it's not fair or it's not right. Appellate courts are very, very, very seldom -- they seldom want to change a jury's mind for them. They will usually accept the jury's verdict unless the judge made some error of law.

O'BRIEN: Micky Sherman, always nice to have you. Thanks so much. I appreciate your time and insight on that.

Just ahead, dieting may be one thing you don't want an obese child to do. We're going to have the latest research on a nationwide epidemic.

And then, tomorrow a chilling behind the scenes look at the sniper attacks that gripped the country.


O'BRIEN: An important new study out today from Harvard Medical School says that children who diet may actually gain weight in the long run. That's just one of the surprising conclusions from a study seeking insights into the soaring rates of obesity among American children, and it is the subject of tonight's "Truth Squad." Joining us from Los Angeles is our regular contributor, Dr. Drew Pinsky, medical director for the Department of Chemical Dependency Services at Las Encinas Hospital in Pasadena. Dr. Drew, nice to see you. Good evening.

DR. DREW PINSKY, DEPENDENCY EXPERT: Good to see you, too, Soledad. How are you?

O'BRIEN: I'm well. Thank you. Let's talk a little bit about this study, because it's so counterintuitive. On average, girls who dieted frequently gained 1.7 pounds, boys who dieted frequently gained 2.2 points. So clearly it doesn't work. But...

PINSKY: It's rather astonishing, isn't it? This is the first really well-done large-scale study on adolescents and older children, where we see that dieting, a reporting, a focus on dieting results in weight gain, so really we shouldn't be talking to our kids about dieting, we should be talking to our kids about health and about balance, and most importantly, about exercise. It seems that...

O'BRIEN: I'm sorry for interrupting you there, but back up and let's talk a little bit about why it's it happening. Metabolically what's going on in a young person's body that would make them gain weight when they diet?

PINSKY: Probably the speculation in this study at least is the same thing as we think goes on in adults, is that when people go on profound calorie-restricted diets, their body basically goes into sort of a starvation mode, so when you start eating again, it is more easily acquires fat that way. And the fact is, in this study, it actually suggested that kids were binging, if they focused on dieting, after the diet, they would tend to binge. Particularly young women were very prone to binging.

O'BRIEN: And in fact, if you look at the statistics there, girls who dieting frequently were 12 times more likely to binge. Boys were seven times more likely to binge than non-dieting boys. So psychologically, it seems like there's an impact as well.

PINSKY: Absolutely, and, you know, we don't know whether or not this is a manifestation of some true eating disorder or body image problem or whether this is just a function of us giving the wrong messages to kids.

I think one of the key things we tell kids, or at least we teach them the way we have them relate to food, is that food is sort of something they can use to regulate their emotional lives, and that's a very, very bad message. When in fact we should be teaching them about activity, about healthy activities, about what it means to be sedentary.

Look, I'm concerned about the fact that the main way we introduce athleticism and sort of physical activity to kids is through the President's Council on Physical Fitness, where we basically humiliate kids in front of their peers and ask them to do sort of nonsensical physical exertional activities that don't measure a damn thing, when in fact we should be talking about how to incorporate some activity into their daily life, above and beyond any athletic activities they might be into, and as part of their overall nutritional balance.

O'BRIEN: Did the study look at all into how dieting now for children between the ages of 9 and 14, is what I think the study focused on, would affect their chances later in life to be able to control their weight?

PINSKY: It really didn't get that question answered. And really, there's so much platitude right now in relation to how people diet, and the whole dieting industry. The fact is, we don't fully understand the motivational priorities of the brain as it relates to food. There's a lot of research being done about how the stomach communicates with parts of the drive centers of the brain that results in hunger. We have got a million things to answer about the constitutional genetics endowments of young people, the cultural issues that effect whether or not their set point for food is going to be affected by whatever is presented to them in the environment.

I think it's something that needs a lot more study, and people need to be very cautious about the current cultural trends towards people suggesting that kids should sort of choose to not eat so much and be able to choose to follow a balanced diet as opposed to really creating the structure that allows them to do that with a healthy portion of activity.

O'BRIEN: So much is not known, but one thing is known, diets don't work for them. All right, Dr. Drew Pinsky...

PINSKY: They don't.

O'BRIEN: ... always nice to have you. Thanks so much. PINSKY: Thank you, Soledad.

PINSKY: Well, Clint Eastwood has a new movie coming out and that always peak up the public's interest in him. Yet there is more to the Hollywood star than the long list of credits. Both an actor and director, stay with us and find out more about Clint Eastwood the man.


O'BRIEN: You probably think you know Clint Eastwood well, actor, award-winning director, but when Paula sat down to talk with Eastwood about his new movie "Mystic River," she learned a few things about him that she didn't know. A couple things that might even surprise the dedicated fan.


PAULA ZAHN, HOST: In his over 40-year acting career, Clint Eastwood has played them all, the outlaw...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't get them all Josie.

EASTWOOD: That's a fact.


EASTWOOD: I've got nothing better to do.

ZAHN: The enforcer.

The love.


EASTWOOD: My whole career has been a great escape.

ZAHN: And you've always enjoyed that ability to absorb someone else's personality and sort of just disappear in the character.

EASTWOOD: Sure, that's the great fun of it all.

ZAHN: Offscreen his roles have been equally as diverse. California politician, doting father, and this might surprise you, passionate musician.

EASTWOOD: I guess I'm a frustrated musician. Play just enough to write down tunes and that's about it. "Chopsticks" and a few things.

ZAHN: One thing you learn quickly about Clint Eastwood when you talk with him is that he is remarkably modest. He actually wrote the music for many of his films, including "Unforgiven." For which he one two Academy Awards. His latest directorial effort may lead to more Oscar gold. It's an adaptation of the best-selling novel "Mystic River."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My own little daughter and I can't even cry for her.

ZAHN: Clint, I cannot ever remember leaving a film the way I left "Mystic River," Speechless, haunted, worn-out.

Is that what you were trying to evoke in the moviegoer?

EASTWOOD: Yes, I remember when I first read the book, I kept thinking about it for quite a few days. It stayed within the mind for a long time.

ZAHN: It is the riveting story of three young boys, forever changed when one is abducted right in front of his friends and then sexually molested for days. He is able to escape, but not the long- term effects of the violence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I used to play on this street when I was a kid.

EASTWOOD: I've always been curious about the robbing of innocence and the stealing of a person's life. I think child abuse is one of the most deplorable crimes and how it affects the victim, how you feel 30 years later.

ZAHN: The answer is complicated, and unsettling, and leads to a cycle of violence, familiar ground for Eastwood.

Why have you been so fascinated by violence and its consequences throughout your career?

EASTWOOD: Well, in my early career, I wasn't worried about the consequences so much. I did a lot of action films.

I've done that, I've been through that. I've done that, and I've had a nice career doing that. But it was at some point in your life you figure you can't do that anymore.

ZAHN: So with this more mature conscience, are there films you simply would never even consider going back and doing?

EASTWOOD: Sure. Almost all of them. No, you don't want to go back and do them, because they were at a certain point in your life and they were effective and they were fun and interesting at that particular time in your life. But as you grow along, you change, and you should change.

ZAHN: Having a young child in your life, has that altered the way you view things?

EASTWOOD: Yes, when you're a young guy and doing an entertaining film, a great action thing, it's a great "shoot 'em up" here, and audiences have fun with it. But I want audiences to come and I want them to think with me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sixteen years ago, I did a two year bid for robbery at (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Is that going to help you find my daughter's killer? I mean, I'm just asking. EASTWOOD: I want them to come and I want them leave thinking about something, other than just the fact that, yes, that he fired six shots or only five.

Did he fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell you the truth in all this excitement, I've kind of lost track myself. But in the end this is this is a .44 Magnum the most powerful hand gun in the world and would blow your head clean off. You've got to ask yourself one question, do I feel lucky? Well, do you, punk?

That was great fun at the time. Maybe somebody will write a screenplay for mature individual that has that kind of humor, but as long as it goes somewhere, that's all I'm interested in.

ZAHN: You're still leaving an option out there for yourself. I don't blame you.

EASTWOOD: An option, but I've been moving around to the other side of the camera for quite some time, sneakily.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just shot an unarmed man.

EASTWOOD: He should have armed himself.

ZAHN: Having directed 26 movies, there's not much sneaking going on. What Eastwood is coy about, the political circus in his home state.

Can we talk California recall?

You have got a complicated political situation in your family.

Your beautiful why is backing Gray Davis, right?

EASTWOOD: Well, she supported Gray.

ZAHN: And you're friends with Arnold.

EASTWOOD: I'm friends with Arnold. Dina (ph) and I have both sort of stayed out of it. We don't know too much about it any more than the guy and gal on the street.

ZAHN: Do you miss being mayor?

EASTWOOD: No, not at all. When this whole recall thing started, people started saying, Clint, why don't you get?

I get the guys across the street saying, hey, Clint, run for governor, and I said no chance, fellas, you'll have to let somebody else have that.


O'BRIEN: "Mystic River," opens in selected cities Wednesday and nation wide next Monday. And that's it for us here tonight. I'll see you back here tomorrow morning on "AMERICAN MORNING," that starts at 7:00 a.m. And Paula Zahn will be back tomorrow. "LARRY KING LIVE" is up next. Have a great night.



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