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PAULA ZAHN NOW
Martha Stewart Setback; Bush Administration Distorting Science?
Aired February 19, 2004 - 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. Welcome. I'm Paula Zahn.
The world, the news, the names, the faces, and where we go from here on this Thursday, February 19, 2004.
ZAHN (voice-over): "In Focus" tonight: Martha Stewart's defense takes a hit in court, with Stewart's close friend on the stand. We'll have all the details.
Also, a question of privacy. The government demands hospitals across the country turn over certain medical records. Is your doctor- patient confidentiality at risk?
And there just may be fuel for the critics of Mel Gibson's new movie, "The Passion."
ZAHN: And here's what you need to know right now.
Americans are being urged to leave. The Peace Corps is pulling out, and today the U.S. military said it will take a closer look at how dangerous things are in Haiti. That Caribbean nation remains in chaos as the rebels and the president continue to dig in for what appears to be a long fight.
Let's get the very latest now from Lucia Newman, who is standing by with a live report Port-au-Prince.
Good evening, Lucia.
LUCIA NEWMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Paula.
Indeed, Americans -- and there are about 20,000 Americans in this country -- are being warned to get out of (AUDIO GAP) while commercial airliners are still operational. Meanwhile, the rebellion has been now in progress for two weeks. And food and medical supplies for much of the north of the country have been cut off.
When the relief agency CARE finally made it to the rebel-held city of Gonaives, there was a virtual stampede, as hungry people tried to get to food. In the capital today, President Aristide vowed not to leave the country, not to leave what he called democracy, vowing to die, if necessary in Haiti, he said, from whom he called terrorists.
He was speaking at a ceremony to honor the policemen who have died since the rebellion began. He called on the police to be brave, he said, to keep fighting. But in the city of Cap-Haitien, which is Haiti's second most important city, it was not the police, but rather armed supporters of the president who were on the street vowing to fight to the death to defend the city and the government.
The situation here is very, very tense. The international community is extremely concerned, which is why, on Saturday, a delegation of emissaries from the United States, France and Canada are expected to come here to pressure President Aristide to comply with an agreement he made with (AUDIO GAP) political settlement, Paula.
ZAHN: Lucia Newman, thank you so much for that live report.
Moving on now, "In Focus" tonight, dramatic testimony late today in the Martha Stewart case. It came from one of Stewart's closest friends, someone she has known for more than 20 years.
Joining us now, two people who were in the courtroom, heard it all today, senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, Sharon Cotliar of "People" magazine.
Good to see both of you.
ZAHN: What a bombshell, huh?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: Wow. incredible.
ZAHN: What happened?
TOOBIN: OK. What happened?
Well, she takes the stand, Mariana Pasternak, an elegant woman, obviously a very close friend of Martha's. They traveled the world together. She was on the private plane that, on December 27, went from Connecticut to Mexico, during which time Martha sold her stock. While they're in Mexico, sometime in the next couple of days, they have a conversation about Sam Waksal, who, of course, was the CEO of ImClone, who started all this mess.
ZAHN: And, by this time, all the stock has been sold.
TOOBIN: The stock has been sold.
But Martha's explanation, remember, is, the only reason I sold is because I had this agreement to sell when the stock hit 60. But she tells Mariana Pasternak, well, you know, that Sam has tried to sell all his stock. And he tried to get all his daughter's stock sold. And I sold as well, completely contradicting her own version of these facts -- of why she sold, what she told investigators.
But then it gets worse. In a separate conversation, she says to Pasternak, isn't it nice to have a broker who tells you these things?
ZAHN: And is that sort of the line last heard by the jury?
ZAHN: That's what is going to resonate in their head.
TOOBIN: It was almost at 5:00.
Now, the defense will point out, it's not entirely clear what she meant by these things. It wasn't the same conversation as the conversation about Waksal. But it is -- jurors might well assume, and might be correct in assuming, that she was talking about Waksal.
ZAHN: Sharon, what can you tell us about this friendship between Martha Stewart and Mariana Pasternak? And did she see this coming, Martha?
SHARON COTLIAR, "PEOPLE": Well, she saw it coming. She knew she was on the witness list.
But the one thing that she's probably -- hard for her to hear from -- this is somebody who's her close friend, somebody she talked to once a week -- somebody she saw once a week and somebody she talked to almost every day. So it's got to be hard for her to listen to her on the stand.
ZAHN: Did they look at each other today, as far as you could tell?
COTLIAR: Martha has remained very composed. It's hard to tell if they had actual any eye contact. But she certainly heard every word.
TOOBIN: I was looking for that. I didn't see them look at each other.
In fact, I thought Martha made a specific effort not to look at her, because it had to be really tough to watch this.
ZAHN: So, legally, what does this mean to Martha Stewart? How big of a setback is this?
TOOBIN: Well, I think it's a very big setback, because, remember, Martha Stewart's explanation for why she sold this stock is that this preexisting agreement to sell at 60.
The jury heard earlier today that Martha Stewart's company saying repeatedly, I had no nonpublic information about this stock sale. I had no nonpublic information. Well, the fact that Sam Waksal was selling was, of course, nonpublic. So it was contradictory, very obviously so.
Now, the defense may say, well, she may have known that Waksal was selling, but that wasn't the reason she sold. It's going to be very tough to undo that damage, I think.
ZAHN: You were able to observe the jury throughout this.
ZAHN: Could you pick up any reaction?
COTLIAR: Well, they were certainly very interested in what she had to say. They were riveted the entire testimony. This whole testimony only took 20 minutes. And yet this is the testimony today -- they went home thinking about that last comment. And it was very damaging.
ZAHN: Is it more likely now that we'll see Martha Stewart on the stand, based on today's testimony?
TOOBIN: I don't think so. I have come around to thinking that I don't think she's going to testify. There are some things you simply can't -- what is she going to do, get on the witness stand and say my best friend is a liar. Is she going to say, and Faneuil is a liar?
By the way, Pasternak completely corroborates Faneuil here.
TOOBIN: So, everybody's a liar except me? I just don't see that. I think it's better to let the lawyers chip away at the story, argue reasonable doubt. But to have her have to remain consistent with her prior statements, as well as her direct testimony, cross- examined testimony, I think it's a nightmare for her to take the stand, although I think they may -- she may do it.
COTLIAR: It's dangerous. It's definitely dangerous for her to do, I think too dangerous.
ZAHN: Well, you usually get it right, Jeffrey. We'll see whether your prediction is accurate or not.
TOOBIN: That's a charitable assessment.
ZAHN: Sharon and Jeffrey, thanks so much.
There may be more fuel this week for the debate over Mel Gibson's yet-to-be-released movie "The Passion of the Christ." Gibson's 85- year-old father, Hutton Gibson, is purportedly heard in a yet-to-be- aired radio interview making inflammatory remarks about Jews, the Holocaust and even the pope. CNN is trying to reach Hutton Gibson to confirm he actually gave that interview. Joining us tonight, journalist Christopher Noxon, who has spent some time with Hutton Gibson and wrote a piece for "The New York Times Magazine" about him.
Good to see you. Welcome.
CHRISTOPHER NOXON, JOURNALIST: Welcome.
ZAHN: You can pick up a New York newspaper and that story was quite prominent. And, once again, we're telling you that CNN is in the process of seeing whether in fact Mel Gibson's dad did that interview. You spent some time with Mel Gibson's father. Did you find him to be anti-Semitic?
NOXON: I don't think he would say that he's anti-Semitic. I think that probably a lot of his views are very anti-Semitic.
ZAHN: What in particular led you to that conclusion? What did he tell you?
NOXON: Well, he talks a lot about the role of what he calls a Jewish Masonic conspiracy in not only the Vatican, but in a lot of the world events of the 20th century. He's got a very sort of creative conspiracy theory for pretty much any event in recent history.
ZAHN: And when you queried him about some of those thoughts, did he have anything to back it up?
NOXON: Well, he's written extensively.
He's done, you know, two books on the topic. He publishes a quarterly newsletter. And some of the things that he told me when I was down there -- we spent the weekend.
Mel Gibson has talked about the fact that somehow his father was taken advantage of, that he was pressured our coerced. And the fact is that I called Hutton Gibson up on the telephone. He said, would you like to come down and spend some time? We did. And he talked about things like the World Trade Center bombing being the work of unknown forces, definitely not al Qaeda, probably the United States government.
He talked about the fact that, you know, the estimates that six million Jews died in the Holocaust have been greatly exaggerated. He talked about all sorts of very sort of extremist points of view. And, you know, if indeed this interview that he's given to the New York radio station turns out to be true, you know, I'm a little relieved, because it confirms that he's been talking about this stuff all along.
ZAHN: And it pretty much dovetails with everything he told you, if in fact we can end up proving that it was his dad who did this interview?
(CROSSTALK) NOXON: I've looked at the transcript. And, indeed, the rhetoric is very familiar. This is just the kind of stuff that -- you know, even if it's -- even if it turns out to be false, which I guess is possible, there is a long, you know, history of literature on this stuff.
He puts out a newsletter. I have a quote from it where he talks about the fact that the Jewish religion as it exists today has no foundation or validity. He's on record.
ZAHN: Did he talk about his son at all to you and whether his son shares any of his views?
NOXON: He did.
I mean, he was 84 when I went to see him. I think he's 85 now. He's very -- he's very funny and very sweet and very playful. And what's kind of spooky about him is that he's a very nice guy, and you enjoy his company. He was reluctant to talk too much about the movie. This was back when Mel was still in production.
And what he said to me is that, you know, all my kids share my views. He said, Mel agrees with me on all these points. I don't know whether or not that's just a father sort of over-reaching, or -- I don't know what Mel thinks. I think that his subsequent public statements about not being an anti-Semite we should take at face value.
ZAHN: So, then, do you think it's unfair to discuss his father's views as though they are a reflection of Mel's views, based on what you know?
NOXON: Yes, I never assumed that Hutton Gibson talked, you know, for his son.
But why I think it's relevant and why obviously it's important is because Hutton Gibson is a very active participant within this traditionalist Catholic movement. And that's a very small and very specific kind of theology. And, you know, Mel Gibson has embraced that theology over the last, you know, what we understand about five or 10 years.
And this film that he's made is a dramatization of very key points of that theology. So, talking to his father and his father's views on a lot of these points is, you know, really important.
ZAHN: Christopher Noxon, thank you very much for your perspective this evening. Appreciate you dropping by.
NOXON: Thank you. Thanks.
ZAHN: Sixty U.S. scientists, including 20 Nobel Prize winners, band together to accuse the Bush administration of distorting science to meet their agenda. We'll tell you why.
And a coach suspended, and today a sixth allegation of rape involving the University of Colorado football team. We'll get the latest on that growing scandal.
And I'll be talking with a man whose job it was to make President Bill Clinton funny.
ZAHN: Dozens of scientists, including some Nobel Prize winners, are accusing the Bush administration of sacrificing sound science for politics.
The report by the Union of Concerned Scientists says the administration is trying to influence scientific findings in areas that include global warming, sex education, drug prevention programs and rules on childhood lead poisoning. Is the administration scientifically biased or simply interested in balance?
From San Pedro, California, Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who works with the White House on science matters and oversees research on the National Science Foundation. And, in Washington tonight, Dr. David Michaels is one of the concerned scientists. Dr. Michaels was an assistant secretary of energy during the Clinton administration.
Dr. Michaels, let's start off with one of your chief complaints tonight. The Bush administration, you allege, manipulates science on the issue of lead poisoning in children. How so?
DR. DAVID MICHAELS, FORMER ASST. SECRETARY OF ENERGY: That's right.
Well, for decades, the United States government has used federal advisory committees to give it the best possible advice. Lead is an area where the advice has been very important. The federal lead -- Childhood Lead Advisory Committee has helped the government identify what levels of lead are safe and what levels of lead are dangerous.
And, as a result, the problem of lead poisoning in children is being reduced and reduced every year. What this administration did was what -- go to the lead industry and said, you tell us who you want to have on that committee. And two leading scientists, pediatric neurologists, were dropped from that committee and replaced by people from the lead industry who are way out of the scientific mainstream, who really don't believe that low levels of lead are dangerous.
Unfortunately, the scientific community has a strong consensus that lead is dangerous at fairly low levels and causes brain disease in children.
ZAHN: Representative Rohrabacher, any truth to these claims, particularly that the deck was stacked in favor of the lead industry?
REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R), CALIFORNIA: Look, if there was ever a case of the pot calling the kettle black, this is it. We have a fellow here who you're talking to was a political appointee from the Clinton administration. And when I -- and I've been on the Science Committee now for 16 years. And during the Clinton administration, talk about stacking the deck, it was always stacked with liberal leftists.
Now, I don't know specifically about this lead issue that he's talking about. But I can say that there is probably an honest disagreement among scientists. Except, of course, no, you're out of the mainstream if you disagree with us. We hear that all the time. And I would be willing to bet that these other people have a case to argue, and we should listen to it, and we should be taking it very seriously.
ZAHN: Dr. Michaels, you also say the administration manipulates information on global warming. How?
MICHAELS: That's right.
There have been -- you know, report after report have essentially denied that the evidence is strong for global warming. In the scientific community, there's a very strong consensus that manmade climate change is occurring. When the Bush administration has issued their own reports, they've essentially dropped studies. And they've essentially manipulated the results to say, well, there's so much scientific uncertainty, we can't do anything.
What's interesting is, there's a memo written by Frank Luntz, who is a Republican consultant, saying, as long as we can convince the public that there's still debate on this issue, we don't have to do anything. This is the way the Bush administration avoids making the hard policy choices by pretending that the science isn't there.
ZAHN: Representative Rohrabacher, your response to that charge?
ROHRABACHER: Here again, you have a Clinton-appointed scientist who is the consensus of the scientific community. Give me a break.
There's a thing called the Heidelberg Appeal -- i don't know if our guest knows about it -- he must -- where 4,000 scientists signed a letter to the president saying just the opposite of what your guest just said. And 70 of them were Nobel Prize winners. And they were all expressing their skepticism about whether manmade global warming is of the magnitude which is being presented to us today.
ZAHN: All right, let me ask you this, Representative Rohrabacher. Are you, sir, 100 percent certain that the administration accurately gathers and represents scientific data to the public?
ROHRABACHER: Well, let me just note this. I am certain that this administration has the same standards of honesty and integrity, and especially about those areas concerning the health and the interests of the American people, as the other administrations. Bill Clinton was political, too, but I'm not claiming that he wasn't concerned about the health of the American people.
This idea that somebody is going to let little children eat lead and if that's bad for them, that we're going to let little kids get sick because we're so tied into the special interests, that's outrageous. And it's wrong.
ROHRABACHER: And, yes, I have faith that our president has a good heart and is an honest man.
ZAHN: We've got to leave the debate there this evening, gentlemen.
Dr. Michaels, Congressman Rohrabacher, thank you for both of your perspectives.
What happened to President Bush's prediction of 2.6 million new jobs this year? His critics want answers.
And we're going to go online with one of the popular computer games called "The Sims" and tell you the real controversy behind the game.
ZAHN: Welcome back.
Despite disorder in Iraq and an increasing number of violent attacks, the White House is determined to hand over control to the Iraqis by June 30. And then yesterday, the administration pointedly stepped back from its own forecast of 2.6 million new jobs this. It's now refusing to give out a figure.
Joining me to talk about those and other issues, "Wall Street Journal" columnist John Fund; in Salt Lake City tonight, Peter Beinart, editor of "The New Republic."
JOHN FUND, COLUMNIST, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": A pleasure.
ZAHN: So, Peter, what happened?
PETER BEINART, EDITOR, "THE NEW REPUBLIC": On the jobs front?
BEINART: Well, I think they put out a statement in December -- this was the president's Council of Economic Advisers -- that was way too optimistic.
And I think most economists looking at it say that we can't create that many jobs this year. And, politically, it was a stupid thing to do, because they've given themselves a target which they will likely fail to meet and given the Democrats an big fat easy pitch right over the middle of the plate.
ZAHN: Is that what this is all about, the White House not being able to meet the projection? And was it stupid for the White House to put out that number in the first place?
FUND: Well, this is a technical number. It was put out 2 1/2 months ago. They didn't adjust it until now. That was a mistake.
But the economy grew, Paula, in the last six months of 2003. Unemployment is down to 5.6 percent. Leading economic indicators have been up for 10 months in a row. This economy is growing. Jobs are lagging.
ZAHN: Where are the jobs?
FUND: Well, jobs are being created, not as much as we want, but let's wait until October and November and then we'll see what happens.
BLITZER: By October, November, is this a jobless recovery?
BEINART: Well, this is the -- you know the $10 million question. We really don't know. And I think economists are really involved in a debate now about whether American productivity has increased to the point where we can have these rapid growth numbers and not create a lot of new jobs.
I think the unemployment rate is somewhat misleading, because there is some evidence that many Americans have just given up looking for jobs, and, therefore, are not included in that percentage.
FUND: Peter, you never made that argument during the Clinton years. Why are you making it now?
BEINART: You know, I wasn't on TV during the Clinton years.
FUND: Yes, you were. I remember debating you.
BEINART: I never remember discussing this issue.
The point is that Americans are not feeling the low unemployment rate. I think you're seeing that in the response the Democratic candidates are getting out on the stump. You're seeing it in President Bush's approval ratings. You're seeing it in the general public mood. So we can say the unemployment is what it is. But the fact that jobs aren't being created is having real resonance out in the country.
ZAHN: Let's move on to the issue of Iraq now, "The New York Times" reporting today that some members of the Bush administration seem to be very concerned over that target date of June 30, at which time you're supposed to turn over sovereignty of the country to the Iraqis and the charge that this is all politically motivated.
John, your reaction to that. FUND: No, June 30 is the time when they felt that they could transfer authority. Having locked that date in, I think they have to have credibility and keep it.
ZAHN: Oh, so it has nothing to do with this election coming up?
FUND: Oh, no, of course it has something to do with it.
FUND: But the June 30 date was set a year ago. Now they're scrambling to try to get this in place. They believe that they can only defuse some of the anger towards the United States by turning over official authority to an Iraqi government on time. And I think, frankly, nothing so concentrates the mind as a deadline. And I think it's going to help American forces get their act together.
ZAHN: Do you think the deadline will hold, Peter?
BEINART: Well, first of all, it wasn't set up a year ago. It was set up on November 15, when the Bush administration did a big U- turn.
I think John is probably right that, at this point, we can't abandon it. But it was a terrible decision to set a date certain. That date is clearly related to the presidential election. It has not actually concentrated the mind, quite the opposite. It has led Iraqis to push for more and more maximalist demands on all sides, because they think they can wait out the Bush administration, because the Bush administration has said, we're handing things over.
And, in fact, it has made the parties less willing to come together. It was a very, very bad decision that was made for political reasons, I think.
ZAHN: Let's close, John Fund, tonight with some recent polls that I want you to help analyze, in how John Kerry and how John Edwards would do in a hypothetical race against President Bush. Check these numbers out. Do these mean anything to you?
FUND: Well, in 1984 at this point in the campaign, Walter Mondale led Ronald Reagan. In 1996 at this point in the campaign, Bob Dole was tied with Bill Clinton. I don't think these numbers, which come right after the Democrats have had an enormous burst of favorable publicity, mean anything for more than the next week or so.
ZAHN: At what point do the Republicans start dipping into the campaign coffers, Peter?
BEINART: I think in a couple weeks, when we know that John Kerry is really going to be the nominee.
I think John is mostly right, by the way. Most people don't know who John Kerry is. So having a poll like this is like comparing him against a generic Democrat. They don't say much about Kerry's strength. But they do say that there's a potential weakness in George W. Bush that an effective Democrat could exploit.
ZAHN: And do you acknowledge that?
FUND: It will be a close race.
ZAHN: How close?
FUND: Within six points.
ZAHN: There you have it, a dead-on prediction, usually, by John Fund.
Peter Beinart in Salt Lake, John Fund, appreciate your both dropping by.
ZAHN: College football coach under siege, rape allegations against some of his former players. We're going to talk live with another former player who came to the coach's defense today.
And we're going to meet one of the men who put the humor into some of former President Clinton's speeches.
ZAHN: Here's what you need to know right now at the bottom of the hour. Former Enron figure Jeffrey Skilling has been indicted for his alleged role in the energy giant's collapse. Today the former CEO pleaded not guilty to all 35 counts he faces, including insider trading and securities fraud. Enron's former chief accounting officer, Richard Causey (ph), has also been charged. Today's indictment leaves former chairman Ken Lay as the only major figure in the scandal who has not been charged.
The flagship university in the Rocky Mountain State remains rocked by a growing scandal. Today Boulder, Colorado, police said they were investigating another sexual assault claim against a CU football player. Head football coach Gary Barnett meanwhile has been placed on leave following some harsh comments he made about former place kicker Katie Hnida, who claims she was raped. Barnett also called her an awful and terrible player who couldn't kick the ball through the uprights. Barnett apologized, and tonight some of his former players rallied to his defense. During a news conference, they said Barnett provided discipline and morality during their time with the team.
Scott Nemeth was among them. He called Barnett, quote, "an honest, upright and moral man." Scott Nemeth joins us now from Boulder. Thanks for joining us tonight. Do you think the university did the right thing by placing Coach Barnett on administrative leave?
SCOTT NEMETH, FORMER UNIV. OF COLORADO FOOTBALL PLAYER: You know, I'm not really at liberty to comment on the university's policies and how -- and what their policy is on suspension. The reason we decided to step forward was to support this athletic program. I decided to step forward and support Barnett because I know, like I said, he's an upright, you know, moral man. ZAHN: What, then, is your reaction to now six women's allegations that they were raped by CU football players?
NEMETH: It's unfortunate to hear. And to me, that just means that we need to stand together as an athletic group, as a football team even more, and make sure that we keep and maintain a tight-knit group and make sure that we, you know, reflect on the positives and focus in on those things that make this place a great program.
ZAHN: Unfortunately, though, the team is just dogged by tremendous controversy right now. In a "Sports Illustrated" article, Katie Hnida describes how she was, she claims, treated by her fellow team members. She said, quote, "Five teammates surrounded her on the first day of practice under Barnett and verbally abused her. During the season, players exposed themselves to her at least five times." How do you think she was treated?
NEMETH: My experience with Katie was that she was treated like any other member on the team. And that's -- and that's -- that'll be my comment now, and that'll be my comment for -- in the time being.
ZAHN: So basically, what you're telling me then, Scott, is you never saw any of this abusive behavior that she complained about?
NEMETH: Like I said, I felt like Katie was treated like she was a member of our football team and she was treated like any other player on that team.
ZAHN: And a final question for you tonight about the controversial recruitment parties. Was there sex involved in those?
NEMETH: Again, I'm not here to comment on that. I don't know about those things. I was never a part of those. I do know that I support this athletic program. I do know there's a lot of great kids that are going to be coming here and that are here now that need our support, as alumni. I know that I came here because of the positives that I felt the Colorado football family would give me, and those all came true for me. And so I know that that's the things that we're going to focus on, is the Colorado football family.
ZAHN: Scott Nemeth, thank you so much for joining us tonight. We'll let you step inside. It looks like you've got quite a storm brewing there.
Coming up in less than 30 minutes, Coach Gary Barnett will be Larry King's guest. You'll want to see that interview.
We're going to hear why attorney general John Ashcroft is demanding confidential medical records from big-city hospitals. And a look into the world of the Sims online computer game and why a real- life controversy may be brewing there. And speaking of real life, a new study says this road, California's Ventura Highway, is the worst traffic bottleneck in the country. Overall, the study, backed by the transportation industry, says the number of bottlenecks has risen 40 percent in just five years.
ZAHN: Today Attorney General John Ashcroft answered critics of a Justice Department order issued to several big-city hospitals. He said in part that they should surrender their medical records of so- called "partial-birth abortions" to prove their claim that the procedures are medically necessary. The law banning them is on hold, and the issue goes to court next month. Is patient privacy being sacrificed?
In Washington, Paul Rosenzweig spent 15 years as a prosecutor with the Justice Department, and Kelli Conlin is executive director of the National Abortion Rights Action League/Pro-Choice of New York. Welcome both.
Just last week, the Justice Department made the following statement in justifying its request for the medical records. Here's what it had to say. "Congress found that a moral, medical and ethical consensus exists that partial-birth abortion is a gruesome and inhumane procedure that is never medically necessary and should be prohibited."
So Paul, you're going to tell me tonight that doctors and patients shouldn't be afraid that their medical records might be snooped at?
PAUL ROSENZWEIG, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Absolutely not. At least, not in this case. The government has entered into confidentiality agreements in the courts. Those are pretty much standard in virtually any type of litigation. They are enforceable in the courts, both civilly, and ultimately, with criminal contempt sanctions. What you have to assume is that both the hospitals will be unable to redact from the medical records personally identifiable information -- that's a difficult assumption to make because, of course, they can -- and then that the government will willfully try and penetrate the redactions and purposefully violate the confidentiality order. That's a heroic set of assumptions, and I think the basic assumption is to the contrary, that the government will abide by the rules that have been set for it, that the hospitals can, and indeed, will be able to remove personally identifiable information, and that information about the litigation will be able to be used to prove or disprove the case, as is necessary.
ZAHN: All right, so Kelli, if the names are removed or blackened, and doctors really believe in the necessity of this procedure, then what are you worried about? And why wouldn't they be willing to open up their books?
KELLI CONLIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR NARAL/PRO-CHOICE OF NY: Well, I think it's ironic. The Bush administration has been pushing for privatization of everything from Social Security to Medicare and education. But how about the concept of privatizing privacy itself? These are the most sensitive medical records. And while Attorney General Ashcroft might maintain that they can be separated and that they're not really searching out people's private medical records, in fact, in their own briefs, the Justice Department stated to the judge that they don't believe there's any inherent right to privacy of medical records in the Constitution. And I think most Americans would find that very troubling. In fact...
ZAHN: All right, so Kelli, what you're saying is you believe the protections Paul says that are in place are not in place, and that women who have had this procedure will have their names become public?
CONLIN: I just don't know what the logical conclusion is here. Obviously, the logical -- what they're trying to do is dig up some sort of dirt, go on a fishing expedition, find facts that they can manipulate on the various institutions. And I might add that these are among the most prestigious medical institutions in the nation, and they're trying to pick up factoids that they can then twist. But the problem is, where does it then go? Obviously, if they find something they find suspicious, ultimately, the conclusion is they're going to have to question the physicians, they're going to have to question the patients.
ZAHN: All right...
CONLIN: And then how -- how does anyone's medical privacy get protected.
ZAHN: Paul, is that the way you see this? Is there potential of this becoming a fishing expedition and manipulating the results you get to get the answer you want to have delivered?
ROSENZWEIG: No. I think that's really just fear-mongering. Let's review where this comes from. Congress has passed a law banning this procedure. The doctors have sued, saying that the procedure is medically necessary, right? Now, what the doctor -- what, in effect, the doctors are saying now is, We are saying it's medically necessary, but you can't look at the records to determine whether or not we're right, right? In no other litigation that I know of would the plaintiffs in a lawsuit be able to advance a factual proposition and then be able to say that the records are not there, that you can't have the records to prove or disprove the factual assertion.
This isn't a fishing expedition to find doctors to go after. The doctors have come forward themselves and initiated the suit, in the first instance. They've put the issue into play, and they can't hide behind the privacy interests of their patients, which can be addressed and have been addressed in at least...
ZAHN: All right...
ROSENZWEIG: ... three separate orders.
ZAHN: Kelli, you get the final word. What about that charge, that perhaps these patients are trying to hide behind the privacy of all this?
CONLIN: You know, you have to put into context this is a very, very anti-choice anti-abortion administration. John Ashcroft wants to illegalize abortion for every woman at any time. This is the backdrop. Paul can talk all he wants about a fair, legal, judicious procedure, but in fact, we are very fearful that this will be used and twisted against patients, against doctors, that women will be brought in against their will. And I think the hospitals, the doctors and the patients themselves are very fearful of this happening. We have to trust doctors and patients to make the best medical decisions in gruesome circumstances, or in any other medical circumstances that a man or a woman might face.
ZAHN: All right. Got to leave it there. Kelli Conlin, Paul Rosenzweig, thank you for joining us tonight.
ROSENZWEIG: Thanks for inviting me.
ZAHN: We're going to move on now, lighten the mood a bit with the man whose job it was to make President Bill Clinton funny. And a look inside the world of Sims online, the wildly popular computer game that's running into some controversy.
BRUCE BURKHARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is Bruce Burkhardt reporting from Alphaville, where prostitution and organized crime have taken hold. Get me out of this town! But not right away. How's the water?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Now to a look at the dark side of a wildly popular online game. Bruce Burkhardt takes us inside the not so utopian world of the Sims online.
BURKHARDT (voice-over): Welcome to Alphaville, where you can be whatever you want to be, do whatever you want to do. It is the virtual community that you become part of when you play this online version of the Sims, the hugely popular computer game that's rated "T" for teen. You invent your own alter ego, an avatar to represent yourself and interact with others in this virtual community. Problem is, this online city is not all that different from the real thing.
(on camera): There are a number of houses like this. They're called "romance houses," but in reality, they're just meeting places for cyber-sex, cyber-prostitution, where you pay samolians (ph) -- that's the game's currency -- for sexual favors. Would you all just, I mean, give it a rest for a second while I'm talking?
(voice-over): And other nasty elements have popped up in the game, Mafia families and con artists.
PETER LUDLOW, PHILOSOPHY PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: More and more, I became aware of more problematic elements of the social structure of the game.
BURKHARDT: Peter Ludlow, a philosophy professor here at the University of Michigan, is interested in the development of online cultures. He joined up to play Sims online. LUDLOW: I mean, I don't want to accuse any of these places of being cyber-brothels. But you know, smooth skin, rough sex, that might be a good bet.
BURKHARDT: Using his in-game identity, Professor Ludlow started up an online newspaper, "The Alphaville Herald," to expose some of the seamier elements here. Not long after, his account was terminated by Electronic Arts, which makes the game.
LUDLOW: I think the only reasonable explanation is that they just didn't like "The Alphaville Herald" reporting on the seamier sides of events going on inside the game.
BURKHARDT: Electronic Artists declined an on-camera interview, but in writing said Ludlow was terminated for other violations and that no sex takes place, that it would be impossible for the game characters.
(on camera): In a sense, they're right. You don't actually see graphical representations of sex. It's blurred out. Jeez! You can see couples hug and kiss, but after that, cyber-sex takes over in the form of instant messaging. So what's the problem with all this?
LUDLOW: What is disturbing, I suppose, is the fact that the game is advertised as being suitable for 13-year-olds, when the content is pretty clearly adult content.
BURKHARDT (voice-over): And in a world in which more of our lives are being lived online, not just for games but also for business and relationships, that line separating virtual from real is becoming thinner and thinner. Bruce Burkhardt, CNN, Atlanta.
ZAHN: And if you thought President Clinton was funny, give the credit to our next guest. He wrote some of the former president's funniest speeches.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am not doing so bad. I mean, at this point in his administration, William Henry Harrison would have been dead 68 days.
CLINTON: I mean, my stimulus package lived longer than that!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: President Clinton poking fun at himself during the 1993 White House correspondents dinner, one of four occasions each year where presidential protocol calls for humor. And when it comes to jokes, it won't surprise you to hear that the president got some help in crafting his punchlines. When it came to Bill Clinton, Mark Katz was the man behind those comic speeches, and he tells the story of his experience as Clinton's joke writer in a new book called "Clinton and Me: A Real Life Political Comedy."
Great to see you.
MARK KATZ, AUTHOR, "CLINTON AND ME: A REAL LIFE POLITICAL COMEDY": Thank you very much for having me.
ZAHN: Welcome. So what was it like during the first couple of days of the Clinton White House? Could he make fun of himself?
KATZ: Well, you know, he actually kind of had to learn the Washington lesson. And the first rule of political humor is self- deprecation, and the second rule is repeat as necessary. And he -- as you just saw in that clip, you know, he told that joke. If you went back and looked at all the transcripts for the first 100 days, there wouldn't be a press secretary who would tell you it wasn't anything but a time of great accomplishment.
KATZ: But he stood up and told that joke and spoke the subtext of what was really going on. He did have a bumpy...
ZAHN: But it's disarming!
KATZ: It's just human. And it -- and it's -- and he told it and was -- kind of inoculated himself on some level by telling that kind of joke.
ZAHN: Did you ever write a joke for him that he didn't get?
KATZ: Sure. I mean, the Oval Office is a bubble unto itself. I remember going in there -- and I should mention, my job was to run the comedy war room, which is the people and process that produce these speeches. A lot of...
ZAHN: That's the war room I want to hang out in!
KATZ: There was a lot -- that's where the funny people hung out. And you know, we worked with the smart and funny White House people and other comedy people who wanted to help out. But...
ZAHN: There were smart and funny White House people?
KATZ: You bet there were.
ZAHN: Not mutually exclusive.
KATZ: It's on the same gene in some rare cases. And I went in there to pitch him a joke that was predicated upon Jennifer Aniston's haircut, which was a big deal...
KATZ: ... at one point in the '90s.
ZAHN: Everybody was imitating it.
KATZ: Except for the fact of the president of the United States had never heard of, one, Jennifer Aniston, or, two, a show called "Friends."
ZAHN: You're kidding me!
KATZ: So I had to explain to him, No, sir, Mr. President, there's a big show on television. Oh, you're kidding. Oh, it sounds funny. And then he told the joke as though he, you know, was a big fan of the show because he needed -- he needed the one piece of information that he didn't have to understand...
ZAHN: And that unlocked it all.
KATZ: That's right.
ZAHN: Let's listen to another joke on a hot topic at the time, and that was the topic of the Lincoln Bedroom. There is a joke in there, I know.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: The bad news is, our only child is going off to college. The good news is, opens up another bedroom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Now, he was taking a lot of heat for having large donors come in and basically use the...
KATZ: That's right and...
ZAHN: ... Lincoln Bedroom.
KATZ: There's something very instructive in that because if you -- imagine Bob Dole or Newt Gingrich telling that very same joke, and it would have been repeated a million times, each time to belittle him. But instead, there's this great clip that lives on to this day of him, you know, owning up to it and looking good doing so.
ZAHN: And another clip that lives on is this excerpt from something the president had to say at the White House correspondents' dinner in the year 2000.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I have actually shown up here for eight straight years.
(APPLAUSE) CLINTON: Looking back, that was probably a mistake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KATZ: I love that clip because...
ZAHN: It worked.
KATZ: Well, it reminds me, it's one thing for a wiseass to stare into a computer and write a funny line. It's quite another for the man to walk to the center of a podium and address 3,000 people who are really his adversaries and -- and oh -- and use humor even in the toughest moments of -- you know, he's a man who had some tough moments in his presidency -- and great accomplishments -- but never failed to show up there. And it takes -- it's a special kind of courage, and it was a test of character that Bill Clinton passed time and time and time again.
ZAHN: Did he practice with you on the delivery of the line?
KATZ: You know, here's a little-known secret that because -- because he'd done so well at these humor dinners and enjoyed them so much, he would actually -- we would actually rehearse these speeches with, you know, a full-on rehearsal, which only happened one other time of year, and that was for the State of the Union address.
ZAHN: Now, let's move on to the more delicate parts of the Clinton administration during the whole Monica Lewinsky disaster.
KATZ: Yes, it was...
ZAHN: Did you have instructions about what words you couldn't use that would immediately trigger double entendres?
KATZ: Well, it was a very sensitized time in the White House. And at one of the -- and the book is kind of about my adventures, you know, as the in-house humorist of the White House. And in one of the footnotes, I do kind of make note of some of the words that took on double entendres. I remember crossing out the words, "interim," "moniker," and "bringing Iraq to its knees" I think I crossed out, too.
KATZ: So yes, some things took on double meanings.
ZAHN: And there were less obvious ones, too, I'm sure you struck.
ZAHN: And those were?
KATZ: Oh, well, the less obvious ones -- I think we also had to cross out -- no, I'm not going to say that one. But...
ZAHN: Oh, come on. It's primetime television...
KATZ: Absolutely Dick Sweat (ph) I think I had in there in my footnotes someplace. But no, that was just, you know, a fun footnote about the highly sensitized area it was. But we -- we did have to figure out what kind of jokes he could tell and...
ZAHN: And did he ever think that you had crossed the line? Would he come to you and say, OK, that is just going too far?
KATZ: Well, it depends -- he -- there are some jokes he didn't care for. I remember, you know, he didn't care for cheeseburger jokes, of all things and...
ZAHN: Was that because he was sensitive because he was...
KATZ: He -- we all have our...
ZAHN: ... going to McDonald's all the time, then?
KATZ: ... vanities, and he didn't care for those. But on the way out the door, in his last White House correspondent's dinner speech, he made a great joke about Jay Leno, saying, I just love this guy. He is an inspiration to graying, chunky Baby Boomers everywhere. So ultimately, he came around and saw that self-deprecating humor really was a powerful tool.
ZAHN: Congratulations on the book. Mark Katz, thanks for joining us.
And thank you all for being with us tonight. That wraps it up for all of us here. We'll be back same time, same place tomorrow night. "LARRY KING LIVE" is next. Have a great night.
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