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CNN IN THE MONEY
Oneupsmanship Hurting Sportsmanlike Conduct At Colleges; Author Criticizes Medical Drug Ads
Aired November 7, 2004 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: From New York City America's financial capital, this is IN THE MONEY.
ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Welcome to IN THE MONEY. I'm Andy Serwer, sitting in for Jack Cafferty. Coming up on this program, the Bush administration remixed. We'll try to figure out who's sticking around and who's packing up as term two approaches.
Plus, who is the doctor here anyway? We'll look at the side effects of the drug company ad boom. See if patients are telling their doctors how to do their jobs.
And when big sporting events lead to ban fan behavior: We'll look at why tempers flare, even when teams win.
Joining me today, a couple of IN THE MONEY veterans, "Lou Dobbs Tonight" correspondent, Christine Romans and "Money.com" managing editor, and the web master, Allen Wastler.
So, the election's over and all the talk...
CHRISTINE ROMANS, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Thank god.
SERWER: Yeah. All of the talk is how divided the nation is. Fifty-one percent to 48 percent, roughly. I wonder, is the nation really divided or was it simply an election and people had differing opinions. Where do you come out on that?
ROMANS: Rurals versus urbans, Christians versus liberals, men versus women, black versus white then suddenly you have this big Bush for the anti-gay ban in 11 different states, that passed -- you know, overwhelmingly. It really seemed to be an election that stirred up differences, not similarity between the electorate.
ALLEN WASTLER, MONEY.COM: I would tend to agree. Also, I think, I don't want to say sore loser, but in this day and age of the internet and different platforms to voice opinion you get a little amplification of -- you know, disappointment, and outrage and you know, things just -- what happened to the good old days when people say, "OK, nice race" and just left it at that?
SERWER: Yeah, I think Christine; you made this point that when people don't go out and vote and they're not impassioned, we call them apathetic.
ROMANS: Right, and we tell them there's something wrong because we are the leading democracy in the world and can't get people out to vote.
SERWER: Right, and now people are voting and impassioned and all of a sudden that's a bad thing. I really wonder -- you know, how divided the nation is truly, but it is true that -- I hadn't heard the phrase "Christian right" and "Evangelical vote" and all that for quite a number of years and all of a sudden it came back and plenty of people on the other side seem to be angry about it. Hey, everyone's got a right to vote. Everyone's entitled to their opinion and to speak to your point, Allen, I mean, can't we just get along?
WASTLER: Yeah, you sort of wonder what -- the day and age, people just can't be gracious and accept it? And the thing is that we're more alike than unalike. So, you know, everybody should just sort of try to what it is this country is about.
ROMANS: We're all Americans.
SERWER: Well, it's up to the president and the Congress to get that vision going, right?
SERWER: All right, now we know there's going to be another Bush administration, the question is who's going to be in it? The team in power now has more big names than most, names like Ashcroft and Rumsfeld, Powell and Rice, and if you think the president is the only one who really matters, consider this -- the next lineup could influence everything from civil liberties and diplomacy to the state of the war in Iraq. For an educated guess at who's in and who's out, we're joined by Matt Cooper, White House correspondent for "Time" magazine.
Matt, welcome to the program.
MATT COOPER, "TIME" WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Andy.
SERWER: Interesting time for the president, obviously, he seems to have a mandate from the people to go ahead and do what he wants to, his bidding. Where do you think this is going to take him?
COOPER: Well, you know, it's the kind of business where you make your own weather and if you claim a mandate, you can make your own mandate. And that's what he's doing, and I think he's been very open about what he wants to push in the second term. He wants this partial privatization of social security where people are able to divert some of their payroll taxes in their own personal savings accounts. He wants some kind of tax simplification and he's going to push on that in a number of fronts.
ROMANS: Those are big jobs, both of them. Either one of those would be a very big job, doing both would certainly be a huge accomplishment over the next four years, a huge accomplishment or disaster, depending on who you talk to. Can he get it done? Does he have the mandate to really dismantle and with rebuild those two things: the tax code and social security?
COOPER: Well Christine, you hit the nail on the head. I mean, it is -- those are tough things to do. Social security, of course, has been contentious for a long time. Politicians have generally stayed away from it. He's plunging right into the fray on this. I mean, my guess is that -- you know, with more republican strength in the Senate he's got a -- he's got a better shot at it than any president in recent memory. And of course, on tax reform, that's -- you know, very tough as we saw last time around, in 1986 last time there was a real effort in tax simplification, but President Reagan was able to pass it then and slowly a lot of those loopholes came back over the next couple of detads, but -- you know, we'll just have to see.
WASTLER: Matt, let's engage in speculation here, and figure out who's going where. First of all, the big one is the Supreme Court, it's likely the president's going to name as many as three new justices in this next term. Have any names floated around? Or have you heard any thinking going on in Washington about what the situation's going to be?
COOPER: Well, there's a -- there's the -- that is really the most -- free fires on of anything the president's going to face. I mean, these Supreme Court nominations proved contentious. I mean, Clinton was lucky that his appointments came early in his term before he had lost the Congress because he otherwise would have had a tough time getting them in.
My guess is that -- you know, they've got to find someone who can kind of -- you know, pass the conservative litmus test and still nod in gender, a complete -- you know, battle that's going to bog down the president and divert him on all these other fronts he's got going. So, you know, speculation centers, some White House counsel, Alberto Gonzalez, who might be tough for the right to swallow because of some opinions as a judge in Texas, but that's one possibility. You know, there's -- if you wanted to go more hard right there's federal judge, Edith Jones, from Texas, who's -- you know, very -- you know, big with conservatives, but might be a tougher sell in Congress, or -- you know, if Rehnquist goes first he could elevate Sandra Day O'Connor. So, we've just got to see.
SERWER: All right Matt, let's handicap the Cabinet. What about the jockeying going on there. Ashcroft out, Powell out, Rice over to Powell's job? How do you see this shaping out?
COOPER: Well, I think you're on the right track, Andy. I mean, I think Ashcroft out is probably the safest bet. He's -- you know, it's a difficult job. He's not super popular in the White House and beyond. And he's been in public life a long time. He hasn't had one of these big private sector paydays that a lot of the guys have had. He went straight from being governor of Missouri to senator to this, so he hasn't had a lucrative private sector career. My guess is that he would go and his old deputy, Larry Thompson -- you know, would probably come back and be the first African-American attorney general. Powell, likely to go, either Condi Rice could move over there and replace him or U.N. ambassador and former Missouri senator, John Danforth could become secretary of state. Those are pretty good bets. You know, on the financial side, if Chief of Staff Andy Card takes a break, as most chiefs of staffs do after this long, then Josh Belton from the office of Management and Budget is a very likely candidate...
ROMANS: Yeah, a lot of people see him as a real...
COOPER: ...for chief of staff.
ROMANS: A lot of people see him as a real rising star, there. What happens to Rumsfeld? What happens to Ridge, the two of the big three "Rs", Ridge, Rice, and Rumsfeld?
COOPER: Well, Christine, I think Rumsfeld, all indications are he wants to stay, get back to some of the Pentagon reform issues that he had begun to address before 9/11, and I think it's a pretty good bet he'll be there a year from today. As for Ridge, he's also another one of these guys who is not had of the private sector payday. You know, he was governor of Pennsylvania before he took on this Homeland Security job and has not had -- and a congressman before that, has not had -- you know, a chance to make private sector-style money, and I think it's a safe bet he'll probably be out in a year.
WASTLER: Hey Matt, real quick, do you think President Bush will start sort of trying to pick out or mold a successor, because it's, Cheney probably won't be running the next time around.
COOPER: Well, it's a really big question on the republican side, Allen. My guess is, and it's just a guess, that he would stay towards the Reagan model of utter neutrality. Reagan was neutral in '88, even for his own vice president, George Bush. I tend to think this president would do the same.
ROMANS: A chance for some bipartisanship there, any democrats need to come onboard, I know Norm Mineta is there in Transportation. Do you think that maybe the president will heal this bridge between democrats and maybe bring some more moderates onto the -- or democrats onto the Cabinet?
COOPER: My guess is he could find one -- you know, Zell Miller's going to be out of a job soon, he's leaving the center, that's one possibility, very conservative so it wouldn't really -- I'm not sure how much appeal it would have to democrats' rank and file. There's some speculation about John Broe (PH), but he's set to make a lot of money as a Washington lawyer, a lobbyist. I don't see him taking it.
SERWER: All right, it's great time to be a White House correspondent and that's what Matt Cooper does for "Time" magazine. Matt, thanks for coming on.
COOPER: Hey, thanks, Andy.
SERWER: OK, see you later.
When we come back, looking for an end game: Bringing peace to the Middle East may be tougher than ever and more urgent than ever. Find out how the U.S. can help.
Also ahead, sunshine for sale: Drug ads are selling a brighter day and the public is buying. We'll look at what that means for your health.
And fueling a crowd with a vengeance: Find out what it takes to turn a bunch of celebrating fans into a rioting crowd, and that's putting it nicely.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Middle East peace is a very important part of a peaceful world. I have been working on middle -- iddle -- Middle Eastern peace ever since I've been the president. I laid down some -- a very hopeful strategy on -- in June of 2002, and my hope is that we'll make good progress. I think it's very important for our friends, the Israelis, to have a peaceful Palestinian state living on their border. It's important for the Palestinian people to have a peaceful, hopeful future. That's why I articulated a two-state vision in that rose garden speech. I meant it when I said it, and I mean it now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: This week, President Bush pledged to work for peace in the Middle East touring his second term. The president's 2002 "road map" peace plan for Israelis and Palestinians never quite got off the ground once the Iraq war got underway. Critics charge the president has been disengaged, while supporters say the Palestinian leadership is to blame.
Joining us today to talk more about this is Aaron David Miller, a former senior adviser for Arab-Israeli negotiations at the State Department. He's the president of Seeds of Peace, a nonprofit group that trains young leaders in conflict resolution.
Aaron, welcome to the program.
AARON DAVID MILLER, PRESIDENT, SEEDS OF PEACE: Thank you.
ROMANS: Is this a golden opportunity for the president to reenergize the Middle East peace process now?
MILLER: I don't know about "golden." Nobody ever lost money betting against the prospects of Arab-Israeli peace. It is an opportunity, and three factors are coming together, which, in fact, sometime in 2005 could hold out the promise of some real progress. No. 1, you do have an empowered second term Bush administration, which has created a good foundation on which to engage. The president's got to make it a top priority. If he doesn't, then there's going to be little -- little seriousness in the effort.
Second, you've an Israeli prime minister that has offered, if it's implemented, a rather bold and historic proposal to, at least unilaterally, withdraw from Gaza, dismantle settlements, remove settlers, as well as Israeli military forces.
And finally, you have, very uncertain, but potentially very promising developments in the wake of a leadership transition. As I mentioned, this is going to be long and messy, but these three factors could coalesce sometime next year, see the first break in an otherwise dreary four-year stalemate.
SERWER: All right, Aaron, given the situation with Yasser Arafat, what do you envision the next generation of Palestinian leadership to be like?
MILLER: Well, there going to be -- there going to be two transitions, one is going to be the formal transition, it's already underway, Abu Allah, Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen, both in their '60s, both members, I guess, of what you could call the oslotunists elites, have already inherited the mantle of leadership, political leadership.
But, that transition, I suspect, is not a permanent one. That generation, in their 60s, largely from the outside, will be increasingly challenged by a younger generation of Palestinians from the West Bank in Gaza, Palestinians who cut their teeth on the first and second Intifada (PH), Palestinians who spent time in Israeli prisons. Palestinians, some of whom, want greater transparency, greater accountability, are upset about the corruption and the dominant authoritarianism of the Arafat years. That generation is the one that is going to inherit, I suspect, and that's, frankly, good news, that generation is the one that stands a chance, at least, of inheriting the mantle of leadership over time.
WASTLER: Aaron, continuing that thought, can this administration work with that new generation? I mean what, needs to happen to sort of make the connection to that new leadership and get something going there?
MILLER: You know, it's really less a connection -- I think you can answer to the question yes. Mr. Arafat's passing will provide an opportunity, but you should never pray for anything you really don't want and the fact is both the government of Israel and the Bush administration have essentially oriented their policies around that -- the passing of Yasser Arafat. Well, it's here. It's here. It's here, it's arrived. So the question is, what are they going to do with it? Yes, they can create a relationship with that new generation, but No. 1, the administration has to make this issue a priority, and by that, I mean the president has to get involved, not as a fulltime desk officer to manage this issue, but he has to make it unmistakably clear to his own administration, to our friends, and to our adversaries that the United States is prepared to reengage in a serious way. The Israelis, on the other hand, having proposed this initiative to get out of Gaza, I would argue the best advice for the Israelis is to try to turn what is now a unilateral initiative into a bilateral, to engage this new leadership, to cooperate with this new leadership, assuming they're prepared to fight terror and control incitement, the Israelis have their responsibilities, restricting settlement activity, ending land confiscation, housing demolitions, to create essentially, recreate, a sense of partnership between the Israelis and Palestinians. That's the best anecdote to extremism and that's the best prospect for progress.
ROMANS: And Aaron, what about the role of the United States in getting that partnership to work? We saw the president's "road map to peace" two years ago. Since then, scores have died on both sides, as the bloodshed has continued. What about the United States' reputation, the United States' influence in this process? How has it changed over the past couple of years?
MILLER: Well, I believe, between Iraq and our absence from the Arab-Israeli peace process that our credibility in the region is at an all-time low. That doesn't mean that the Arabs aren't responsible for many of the -- many of these problems. If we want to restore our credibility, and I think we can, it'll take time. We can. One of the best ways to do it is to reengage seriously on this issue. The president either ought to empower his secretary of state or create a special envoy in whom he has confidence and also to do serious diplomacy. The road map is a fine document, it's got all the requirements and obligations that, if implemented, would transform the situation (UNINTELLIGIBLE). The problem is it's not a living document. The way to make it a living document is for the Americans to get reinvolved, to work with both parties, to create performance standards, benchmarks, and to actually, to borrow the expression from one person, to "take the road map out of the glove compartment."
ROMANS: Aaron David Miller thanks so much for your time today, Seeds of Peace is the organization. Thank you.
MILLER: Thank you.
ROMANS: Coming up after the break, the Walton's: But, don't go looking for John Boy. We'll focus on the family behind Wal-Mart, it's our "Stock of the Week."
Plus, rowdy and proud of it: See how a sports crowd can do u- turned from celebrations to destruction.
And every blog has its day: They may be popular, but hey, they're not perfect. We'll look at where the bloggers hit and missed during this presidential campaign.
ROMANS: Now let's take a look at the week's top stories in our "Money Minute." The bush reelection victory had an immediate impact on certain stocks. Shares in defense, drug, and coal companies rose. Cell research and alternative energy (UNINTELLIGIBLE) fell. The overall markets reacted strongly to the election's quick resolution. Investors had feared a drawn out recount battle like we saw in 2000.
A federal jury in Texas convicted four former Merrill Lynch bankers and a former Enron executive for crafting a phony deal that helped Enron inflate its earnings back in 1999. Each one of the convicted men faces long prison terms. One former Enron accountant was acquitted in that case.
And a brother and sister from North Carolina became the first people in the nation to be convicted on felony spamming charges. A jury found they flooded tens of thousands of America On-Line e-mail account with unsolicited e-mails. The jury recommended the brother and sister spend nine years in prison and pay $7,500 in fines for violating a new anti-spam law.
All right, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett may be the richest guys around but the family that founded Wal-Mart has as much money as Gates and Buffett combined. Controlling the world's biggest company definitely has its perks, but for the people running Wal-Mart's day- to-day operations, things are mixed. The company is admired for its growth but also vilified by those that see it as an unstoppable behemoth, and a detriment to the nation's overall economy.
Wal-Mart is trading at the midpoint between its high this year and its low, but with the election resolved and the Christmas shopping season underway a lot could change. Wal-Mart and the Walton family were subjects of my cover story in the new edition of "Fortune" magazine and that makes Wal-Mart our "Stock of the Week."
You know, the family owns 39 percent of this company worth $90 billion and they watch the company, obviously, like a hawk. Rob Walton is the chairman of the company and it has been in the doldrums. Some news lately, some October sales numbers looking pretty good, maybe coming out of its doldrums right now.
ROMANS: Here's a question I have, has this company, the management and the family of this company changed their behavior, their outlook, any since it became a little tiny company in Arkansas to now the third largest importer from China?
SERWER: Well, you know, in many ways they still have the values and sensibilities that they've had for decades when their father, Sam Walton, founded this company years and years ago. He passed away in 1992. In a lot of ways that's a positive, Christine, that they still have his vision. In some ways they're a little too tied to the past, I think, though.
WASTLER: Now tell me this, OK, every time -- they are a lightning rod for controversy, you know, all the discriminating against women or they don't have enough minorities in their ranks. But, you watch the stock price, no matter what breaks the only thing that seems to move the stock price is the retail outlook and how good sales are looking. So, Wal-Mart is really just basically a bet on American retailing and all the stuff you see in the headlines doesn't matter a whole lot.
SERWER: Well, I think some would argue with that a little bit, Allen, it's suggesting, perhaps, the stock has been held back a little bit because of the threat of litigation, in particular, the suit about discrimination against women. But overall, I think you're right. I mean, not only is it a benchmark for the nation's retailing sector, but really for the overall economy. I mean it's the biggest company in the world. The largest employer in the United States, so the real challenge for management, I think, is to make the company grow faster than GDP and that's difficult. ROMANS: It's interesting, too, because this is a company that has small-town values and a small-town reputation except, because of how much it's importing from China and how Americans go gaga over cheap stuff, it has to do with U.S. trade policy, our current account deficit. You know, you can talk about the value of the dollar and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Chinese currency and Wal-Mart can come into the conversation. This is just a little discount retailer that became so big.
SERWER: Yeah, I mean it really is a proxy for our nation overall and the economy and it concerns labor, it concerns the dollar, it concerns importing, exporting everything.
SERWER: The women's issues, all of it, it's all there and it's a company that's going to be in the headlines for many, many years to come. So we'll be watching it.
All right, coming up on IN THE MONEY:
Prescribe it yourself, buster: See if drug ads have patients trying to call the shots on ailments they didn't even know they had.
Also ahead, hot tickets and hot tempers: Find out the connection between big sports events and the riots -- the riots that sometimes follow them.
And see you later, commentator: The White House race turn bloggers into stars. We will look at whether the celebrity is built to last.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: High cholesterol, acid reflux disease, pet allergies, you name it, there's a pill for it. And if you can remember its funny little name, you can then go ask the doctor for a prescription. But do you really need to take another pill? Or are you coming down with something else altogether, some like hypochondria maybe?
Here with his answer is Dr. John Abramson, author of "Overdosed America, The Broken Promise of American Medicine." He's also a (INAUDIBLE) instructor at Harvard Medical School. I think Vioxx is a perfect example of this, people going and asking their doctors for this drug to treat their creaky knees, a drug that for many people has just marginally better effect than aspirin and you could walk away in some cases with heart disease or stroke. Why are we -- why do we feel it's necessary to treat every little ache and pain we've got with a prescription medicine?
JOHN ABRAMSON, MD, AUTHOR, OVERDOSED AMERICA: I think the problem is that the drug advertisement we're having is convincing us that we need these pills to live a healthy life and to enjoy our lives when the truth is that most of our health is determined by our health habits. Vioxx is a perfect example. Merck spent more money advertising Vioxx in 2000 to consumers than what was spent advertising Pepsi or Budweiser beer. And they needed to invest that money because they had a drug that didn't provide any better relief than the older, less expensive drugs. So it needed to be pushed into the market.
SERWER: John, I don't know exactly when we started allowing drug companies to advertise, a dozen years ago, 20 years ago, maybe you know better than I do. We've let the genie out of the bottle or the medicine cabinet or whatever. I mean can we stop drug advertising? What are you suggesting?
ABRAMSON: It's a good question. First, let's put it in perspective. We started allowing drug advertising in about 1985. Now we're spending $3.8 billion a year on drug ads. We and New Zealand are the only two industrialized countries that allow drug advertising. The drug companies say they should be allowed to advertise because it's a public service. They educate. But what happens is they only educate about the things that will sell their products, not about an overall approach to health. So I think that what we need to do in America is redirect our healthcare system toward improving our health better. And right now my opinion as a family doctor is that the drug advertising is not doing that. In fact, that's one of the main reasons why I wrote this book, to help to show the public that the focus of our healthcare has -- is now misdirected towards generating corporate profits.
SERWER: So you'd be for getting rid of advertising by pharmaceutical companies?
ABRAMSON: If I had my druthers, I would and four-fifths of family doctors believe that and most primary care docs believe that the drug advertise is not helpful to patients' health or to doctor-patient relationships.
WASTLER: But John, just to play devil's advocate here for a moment, I know that now when I go to the doctor between the advertising I have seen and information I get on the Internet, I think I'm a more at least active patient where maybe my doctor isn't just sort of prescribing something for the sake of it. I know what to ask and I'm more aware of now, wait a minute, I also take this. Is there going to be an interaction, things like that. So you seem to be arguing a point that perhaps argues for less knowledge among consumers?
ABRAMSON: No, more knowledge. What you are articulating is exactly what -- if you were my patient I would want you to come in to me, with that knowledge and then have an open discussion about what's the best way to apply what you know and what I know to your particular situation. That's the ideal and I think that there should be drug education and healthcare education that helps consumers to engage in those conversations with their docs. The problem is that the drug advertising biases that conversation toward particular products instead of towards better health.
ROMANS: But John, then why do the doctors prescribe all of these drugs? Why were all of these people taking Vioxx for arthritis when, you know, when maybe they didn't need it? People walking off the street and I say, and say, I need drug blah blah blah. I saw an advertisement for it in the paper and a doctor will prescribe it, why?
ABRAMSON: You are absolutely right. The same way that the patients are getting biased information from the drug ads unfortunately the doctors are getting biased information through their medical journals and continuing education courses and clinical guidelines. So that there's far too much commercial influence in what the docs know as well. In Vioxx in particular the real problem is the study that Merck did in 2000 that showed that there were more cardiovascular complications with Vioxx was published in the "New England Journal of Medicine." The problem is that the "New England Journal of Medicine" article didn't explain to doctors that Vioxx was significantly more dangerous than naproxin or Aleve. So the docs are being misled as well.
SERWER: John, these ads are also very offensive. I'll tell you a little story. Last year at the Super Bowl, a couple of families got together and we were all watching the game, kids seven years old, 10- years old, teenagers, all of a sudden I forget if it was Levitra or Viagra ad comes on. The bigger kids start giggling. The little kids go, mom, dad, what is this all about? Is there any limits to advertising by these drug companies now?
ABRAMSON: There isn't as long as the drug companies have as much political influence as they currently do and I think that really begs the question of, is the function of our healthcare to sell more product or to make us healthier and to reflect the values that we do share as families. I think we have gone overboard and I think it's not only destructive when you are watching TV with your children. But I think it is also destructive to doctor-patient relationships.
ROMANS: These are lifestyle drugs. These aren't even going to save anybody's life. These are lifestyle drugs we're talking about.
ROMANS: These are things that aren't going to prolong your life. They are just going to make - they're spending all this money on advertising and research and development on things that aren't going to cure diabetes, aren't going to cure cancer. That is what kind of concerns me.
ABRAMSON: Absolutely. And even when we're talking about drugs that can play a positive role in our health, like the cholesterol lowering drugs, the advertisements don't carry the message that about 80 percent of our risk of heart disease can be reduced by just exercising, eating a healthy diet, not smoking, drinking in moderation. That's the real breakthrough news that we our health is largely in our own hands and sometimes we need medicine to supplement a healthy lifestyle.
WASTLER: OK, well, Dr. John Abramson, we appreciate you joining us here to talk about that and author of a book "Overdosed in America, The Broken Promise of American Medicine." Thank you so much for joining us.
ABRAMSON: Pleasure to be with you, thank you. WASTLER: Lots more coming up here on IN THE MONEY. Up next, the home field disadvantage. See why a victory in the field can lead to turmoil in the streets.
And a fight song, (INAUDIBLE) on our fun site of the week.
WASTLER: What is it about the big game that breeds bad behavior, that leads sports fans to flip cars and burn public property. Take this year's World Series. Boston fans were so excited that the Red Sox finally won a championship, they swarmed the streets in celebration and police were at the ready. Victory riots have claimed the lives of two college students in Massachusetts alone this year. So why do sports fans get so out of hand? Jeffrey MacDonald is a correspondent with "USA Today." He recently penned the article, is post game rioting becoming an epidemic? He joins us now. Jeffrey, welcome. That's take a stab at answering the headline. Is it becoming an epidemic?
JEFF MACDONALD, USA TODAY: Well, I think it is certainly becoming more common than it used to be. Just five years ago, these were such a rarity that it made national news when Michigan State rioted after a big sports loss. Interestingly it wasn't a victory that touched off that incident. But it's not just that, it's much more common now. The studies that happen on this regard say that there are as many as 10 to 15 incidents per year and no sign that they are diminishing.
ROMANS: Used to be kind of rare, you'd see a big game and the students would all storm a goal post or something. Now almost every American college has removable goal posts and riot police. What is it? It's almost like "Lord of the Flies." You get a bunch of people together and it's mob mentality, no single person taking responsibility for their actions.
MACDONALD: Well, certainly that's true. There is something that happens when you got so many people together. We're talking tens of thousands, sometimes over 100,000 people gathering together at a time when the emotions are high. The alcohol has been flowing freely and these are young people and the cameras are also present and taking pictures and offering a free chance to be on TV if you do something really outrageous.
SERWER: Jeffrey, I want to keep going on that, though. I mean Michigan State, Ohio game has always been 100,000 people there. People have always been drinking alcohol. Why is it over the past 15 years? I mean you're talking about the TV cameras, but I'm not sure I buy that. I mean what's going on that is making people get so rowdy now?
MACDONALD: Well, that's certainly the right question to ask and part of that when I was interviewing people for this story was to learn that there is some sort of a competition that goes on when one school wants to show that they have a way of celebrating that exceeds the last one that they saw in the newspapers. It goes along kind of with the party school mentality to take a little pride in being a party school, well take a little pride in being a riot school, as well. SERWER: Our whack jobs are bigger than your whack jobs kind of deal?
MACDONALD: There is something like that, yeah and some of the factors have changed slowly over time in this evolution of what it is to celebrate.
WASTLER: Jeffrey, let's start thinking about solutions a little bit. I noticed in your article toward the end, you pointed out that down in Maryland, some student grumbling about them banning certain songs sort of got settled over when the Maryland coach sort of spoke out and said, hey, look, that's the way it's going to be, because we need it to win and just settle down. Do you think more involvement by the teams and the organizations involved with the fans could help settle them down a little bit?
MACDONALD: Well, they're certainly hoping so. There was a summit convened by the NCAA in 2003 because this has become such a problem. They brought together the athletic directors and various student groups to put their heads together and see what can be done and what they are putting into place as a matter of policy at different schools like Maryland is really sort of a protocol to tone down the circumstances that can precipitate this kind of behavior, things like the chanting, the vulgar insulting of the other team, just kind of escalating circumstances that seem to grease the slide for what can be an explosive riot after the game.
ROMANS: One of the first stories I ever covered as a college student at Iowa State University we used to have this very lovely peaceful springtime student festival that of course doesn't have it anymore because of riots. One of the first stories I ever covered were people anonymously throwing cinder blocks off the roof of a building into crowds of other people because of drinking and partying and just this wave of violence that swept through this otherwise very peaceful town. You really could never figure out what it was all about. But the social scientists kept saying, what about British soccer?
ROMANS: Hooligans. It is happening elsewhere, as well. Maybe it is just coming here for the first time.
MACDONALD: Well, right. There certainly is something that has been present when you mention soccer, internationally. Certainly, yeah, it's happened with Britain and in other countries, too. There's a pattern of this and it goes back in researching this I found that there was a riot in hockey in Canada in 1955 that was a seven-hour rampage. It's really nothing that's brand new. It is just something that it needs to be controlled in a way because to compete and win is natural and that comes to us instinctively. But to show sportsmanship to look your opponent in the eye and shake their hand and congratulate them on a win, if you have lost, or to win graciously, if that's the case, that's not so instinctive. That's taught and learned and it requires as lot of practice in developing character.
SERWER: Jeffrey, quick last question. A prominent university of New England recently posted photographs on the Internet trying to identify some of these bozos who were passed out and throwing rocks through windows. It was actually kind of amusing, I probably shouldn't say that. But I don't know if you saw that. Do you think that's a solution?
MACDONALD: Well, certainly there is something to be said for identifying people. It worked to some degree in Boston when the riots after the Patriots victory in the Super Bowl led to some of the -- that tragic death that you referred to earlier. And the administrators at Northeastern said, yeah, we'll go ahead. We will put pictures on the Internet taken that night. We will cooperate with police and when it comes to enforcement, yeah, certainly using the power of the camera it can work in the other direction, too.
ROMANS: All right, public shaming, Andy, I like that idea. Jeff Macdonald, correspondent "USA Today," thanks so much for joining us.
MACDONALD: Thanks for having me.
ROMANS: Coming up, consider the source, we'll look at whether you can trust a blogger to give you the real skinny on American politics.
And while you're checking out those blogs, take a minute to drop us an e-mail. Our address is firstname.lastname@example.org. But first, this week's edition of money and family.
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: With gasoline prices still hovering near all-time highs, we're paying more every time we pull up to the pump. This week we'll give you tips on how you can save money on gas. Start by pumping your own gas. Self-serve gas is usually cheaper than full serve where available. Also try to conserve fuel by accelerating gently and maintaining a steady speed on the highway. The more you put the pedal to the metal, the less bang you'll get for the buck.
Don't warm your car by letting it idle. Idling wastes about a quarter of gas every 15 minutes. Besides, the engine warms up faster when driving. Finally, don't top off the tank. Some gas may end up overflowing when it expands in the sun or if you park on a hill. I'm Susan Lisovicz for money and family.
SERWER: If there's one thing many of us learned during this presidential election, it's beware the bloggers. Our web master Allen Wastler explains why and he also has the fun site of the week. Allen.
WASTLER: Going into the election, people are saying this is the year of true democracy because we got the bloggers for the people who don't know, a blogger is -- essentially it's an open web diary. People just write their little dribble and ramblings on and on and on.
ROMANS: Dribble and ramblings, you said it.
WASTLER: I said it. I haven't been a fan of these places because essentially there's no editorial structure there. There's no vetting. It's just people shooting from the hip and saying what they feel. There have been cases when it's not bad, where a news event happens and a lot of people critique it. They come out and say the people have spoken and they sort of express a point of view.
However, going into the election, they are saying now we'll be the responsible ones and we'll tell people what is really going on. They have ludicrous exit poll information. We got this from the big media groups and this and that and the other and it was wrong. It sort of made the market do a little loopty loop on Election Day.
ROMANS: Just because now for the first time the major media isn't using those exit polls.
WASTLER: The thing is, they weren't even the right exit polls. CNN, we had a lockdown on the exit polls. Eyes only, only if you really need to see it. And so the numbers that they had out there, I don't know where they got them from, maybe the bathroom wall.
ROMANS: I want to just (INAUDIBLE) the web logs for a second, the blogs, because Thomas Paine, remember the revolutionary -- He was the original blogger.
WASTLER: He would be blogging now.
ROMANS: Revolutionaries, you know who were sending off these little pamphlets. Those are like the revolutionary war blogs.
WASTLER: And it's time for expressing opinion. I have no problem with that. But I do have a problem where they are saying we are giving you reliable information because it's not. Opinion and information are different things and you should clarify that. Also a lot of people saying they are going to be the ultimate web destination. Take a look at the traffic figures. PK, big outfits like cnn.com was getting upwards of 5 million. But --
SERWER: Not to toot our own horn.
WASTLER: But not to toot our own horn, and those are (INAUDIBLE) network figures, OK. But the web logs, even the biggest ones, they didn't even crack a hundred thousand. Collectively some experts have noted to me collectively, they might have done a big chunk of traffic like maybe upwards of 15 million unique visitors but each one individually, no.
SERWER: What about that fun site, still some election motif.
WASTLER: Still an election motive and I feel that winners should get their dues, so I give you the winners singing.
SERWER: Crank it!
ROMANS: Where is Karl Rove?
SERWER: Is that a jib jab?
WASTLER: No, that wasn't a jib jab. That's from another flash outfit. But it's kind of amusing and folks just take it with a sense of humor.
SERWER: Nothing by John Kerry?
WASTLER: Not at this point.
SERWER: Maybe we don't want to see that one at this point. All right. Thanks Allen.
Coming up on IN THE MONEY, it's time to hear from you as we read some of your e-mails from the past week. And you can send us an e-mail right now too. We're at email@example.com.
WASTLER: Talk about inaccurate exit polling. Last week we asked if you were better off now than you were four years ago. More than 93 percent of you not only said no, but you blamed President Bush. I guess we didn't have a big enough sample. Anyway, Daniel wrote, Osama is still hanging around. Soldiers are dying in Iraq and every nation but Poland hates us. Other than the Red Sox winning the world series, I'm not better off.
Chris in Indiana wrote, my wife and I are unemployed and our unemployment benefits are running out. If we keep outsourcing our jobs, the only thing we'll have left is Wal-Mart and McDonalds.
And James wrote, of course I'm not better off. I'm four years older, with less hair, fewer teeth and a weak memory but I guess I can't blame the president for that.
Now for the e-mail question of the week, what's the best way to unite the country now? Send your answers in firstname.lastname@example.org. And you should also visit our show page at money.com/inthemoney. That's the way to find the address for our fun site of the week.
SERWER: All right. Thanks for joining us for this edition of IN THE MONEY. Thanks to LOU DOBBS TONIGHT correspondent Christine Romans and money.com and webmeister managing editor Allen Wastler. Join us tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. Eastern when we'll look at what to expect from the Bush administration the next four years. What's the agenda? What's the frequency? Who stays and who goes? That's tomorrow at 3. See you then.
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