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Nuclear North Korea; Colorado Professor Under Fire

Aired February 10, 2005 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody. Welcome. Glad to have you with us tonight.
Among some of the stories we're looking at tonight, a new threat to the nation's security, and a controversy over free speech reaches a turning point.


ZAHN (voice-over): Professor Ward Churchill thinks some 9/11 victims deserve to die. And now his critics want him fired.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have every right to discipline him. And that discipline could include firing him.

ZAHN: But his supporters are fighting back.

WARD CHURCHILL, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO: I'm not backing up an inch. I owe no one an apology.

ZAHN: I'll be talking exclusively with one of the people who will decide his fate.

And a small country with a deadly arsenal just became even more dangerous. Tonight, North Korea and a new finger on the button. Our look at the very strange world of its leader, Kim Jong Il.


ZAHN: And we begin tonight with what is shaping up to be an old- fashioned showdown out West, but this time, the weapons are words, powerful words.

In a minute, I'll be talking exclusively with a member of the University of Colorado's Board of Regents, which is getting ready to pass judgment on Professor Ward Churchill. That is a man whose words about the victims of 9/11 have provoked anger across the whole country.


ZAHN (voice-over): It all began with an essay written on the morning of September 11, 2001.

CHURCHILL: The speech was originally written on 9/11 at the request of a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) journal. It said, we need a gut response to this very rapidly. ZAHN: Professor Ward Churchill says his goal was to point out the attacks should have been no surprise given America's foreign policy. This is what he told me last week.

CHURCHILL: My thesis was basically that any people subjected to the kind of degradation, devaluation of, say, the Iraqis, of, say, the Palestinians, will either respond in kind or people will respond in their name in kind.

ZAHN: In his essay, Churchill compared the victims of the 9/11 attacks to Hitler henchman Adolf Eichmann. What's more, he characterized the victims of the Pentagon attack not as innocents, but as -- quote -- "military targets, pure and simple" and those in the World Trade Center as -- quote -- "braying self-importantly into their cell phones, arranging power lunches and stock transactions."

Churchill weren't widely publicized at the time. But, just last month, Hamilton College in Upstate New York invited the professor to speak. Matthew Coppo is a student at Hamilton. He lost his father in the Trade Center attacks. And when he found out Churchill was going to be speaking at the school, he was outraged.

MATTHEW COPPO, HAMILTON COLLEGE STUDENT: For him to stand up and preach that all the September 11 victims deserved it and then to reference them to Nazis, I don't understand why the school would want to give him that.

ZAHN: A debate broke out and the national media picked up on the story. At first, Hamilton defended its decision in the interests of freedom of speech. But, citing security concerns, the school then canceled the event.

JOAN STEWART, DEAN, HAMILTON COLLEGE: At this point, the question of security outweighed the right of any particular individual to speak.

ZAHN: In Boulder, where Churchill chaired the university's ethnic studies program, another debate broke out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone around here is welcome to come sign our petitions to have this madman fired.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's still being a cheerleader for terrorism. He's still saying that they should attack us again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Professors should be allowed to express their feelings and their thoughts and ideas.

ZAHN: Churchill went on to resign his chairmanship, but refused to resign his $92,000-a-year professorship in spite of a joint resolution from Colorado state legislators condemning his view.

GOV. BILL OWENS (R), COLORADO: If he had any sense of moral authority, he would resign.

ZAHN: Now Colorado's governor, Bill Owens, wants Churchill fired. And the University's Board of Regents is investigating whether the tenured professor can be removed. This is what the governor told me yesterday.

OWENS: I think that every American under the First Amendment has the right to say almost anything, but I think most of us understand that you don't have a right under the First Amendment to yell fire in a crowded theater.

ZAHN: Churchill refuses to back down. On Tuesday night, he defended his First Amendment rights when he addressed more than 1,000 C.U. students.

CHURCHILL: I do not work for the taxpayers of the state of Colorado. I do not work for Bill Owens.


CHURCHILL: I work for you.



ZAHN: Well, a number of Republican lawmakers in Colorado want Churchill out. So they've now introduced a resolution calling for him to be fired, saying his statements don't even rise to a minimal of academic competence.

Michael Carrigan is a member of the University of Colorado Board of Regents, which will decide Ward Churchill's future. And he joins me now for an exclusive interview.

Good to have you with us tonight, sir. Welcome.


ZAHN: How hard will it be to fire Ward Churchill?

CARRIGAN: Professor Churchill's comments thus far -- and let me be clear -- I condemn them. I find them offensive. And the entire board passed a resolution unanimously that I co-sponsored condemning the statements, apologizing to all Americans for the statements.

But the fact is, Professor Churchill's statements are protected political speech, and he cannot be fired for political protected speech.

ZAHN: So you're saying we basically have -- you're making two points, that the issue of whether he should be fired is different from whether you can fire him.

CARRIGAN: Absolutely.

We have -- there are certain legal protections that Professor Churchill, like any public employee, enjoys. And one of them is that when a professor, like any other public employee, speaks out on an issue of public concern that is basically something that is political, then he cannot be disciplined. He cannot be fired for that.

ZAHN: But the governor told me last night, if you analyze one statement alone where the professor was quoted as saying more 9/11s might be necessary, that that alone could be enough grounds to get him fired. You don't agree with that assessment?

CARRIGAN: Well, no, I don't agree with that assessment, because when Professor Churchill is talking about 9/11, talking about why it happened and the ramifications for the United States, as much as I disagree with that, they are protected political speech.

And when the governor is calling on us, calling on us, the Board of Regents, to fire this professor for that speech, he's calling for us to do something that is illegal.

ZAHN: So you're saying the governor is backing the Board of Regents into a corner here?

CARRIGAN: Absolutely, absolutely. There's numerous cases out there. And this is law that has been set forth by the United States Supreme Court that, when a public employee speaks on a political issue, he cannot be fired for it.

Just last month, we had a case here in Colorado where a deputy sheriff in a political campaign campaigned against his boss. He was fired. The boss claimed it was -- the sheriff claimed it was for lying during a trial. Well, after years of litigation, the good taxpayers of Colorado had to pay that deputy sheriff $500,000 in damages because his free speech rights were violated.

ZAHN: If you had a legal right to fire Professor Churchill, would you?

CARRIGAN: Well, it depends if there is a legal ground. There are a variety of things that can constitute a legal ground.

If there are questions about his credentials, if he lied about things on his record on material issues, then that's something we will look at very seriously and consider. But we will not be doing something illegally that -- it not only would violate his First Amendment rights, but we, as members of the Board of Regents, face personal liability.

And, therefore, if we make the wrong call and fire him for protected speech, Professor Churchill not only gets money from the taxpayers, but he could be living in my house.

ZAHN: Are you concerned about that?

CARRIGAN: Absolutely, especially when we have a governor threatening our funding, threatening to take actions against the university if we don't do something that supports his political agenda. Again, I condemn Professor Churchill's comments. I disagree. They're offensive. But the fact is, they're protected under constitutional law.

ZAHN: Can you give us a sense of how the rest of the Board of Regents feel about this? I know it sounds like they generally find his speech abhorrent, but do they agree with you on legal grounds that it's going to be very difficult, short of -- and we're going to put that list up again of some of the things you just went through that would provide legal grounds for firing him.


ZAHN: Are they where you are right now, that, short of finding this stuff, it's going to be very difficult to fire him?

CARRIGAN: Well, I am just one member of the Board of Regents. And the board is a very thoughtful group. And they understand the legal obstacles and the legal obligations we have to follow. And I happen to be the only attorney on the board, and so I'm well aware of that. But we do have legal counsel who is advising us.

And we understand that there are severe legal consequences if we deny Professor Churchill's basic due-process rights and violate his First Amendment protections. And these are -- that's the kind of things the governor has been calling for us to do, which, in my opinion, is irresponsible.

ZAHN: Now, has he been calling on you to do this in forums like my show last night or has he specifically talked with individual members of the Board of Regents?

CARRIGAN: He has been saying so much in the media. He has not communicated anything to us directly.

But he has been all over the papers and the stations here talking about how we have to fire this professor for what he said. And that really is backing us into a corner and, quite frankly, helping Professor Churchill's ultimate legal stance. And I don't know why the governor wants to help Professor Churchill like that.

ZAHN: So, you feel like the governor has picked a battle with you, basically.

CARRIGAN: Oh, he absolutely has.

And I think this is part of a larger political agenda to divert public attention away from the drastic cuts to public education under Governor Owens' watch.

ZAHN: You're accusing the governor of using this issue to help him with something else he feels politically exposed on at this hour?

CARRIGAN: Well, let me give you an example.

In Professor Churchill's speech on Tuesday night, he said he does not work for the governor and he does not work for the taxpayers. And I've been asked whether I agree with that. Well, I think Professor Churchill is 93 percent right. The University of Colorado at Boulder is a wonderful university. It's our flagship university.

We have brilliant faculty, brilliant students. We have Nobel laureates on our campus. That wonderful campus gets only 7 percent of its funding from the state. And a lot of that 7 percent is only after years and years of cuts under Governor Owens' watch. And I think it's wrong.

ZAHN: Finally, if the Board of Regents makes the decision to not fire Ward Churchill, do you think the governor can still put some kind of pressure on you to reverse that decision?

CARRIGAN: Oh, absolutely. And he has suggested as such. And he's been quoted in the media that the state will take action against the university if we don't fire him.

If we don't do what -- in my opinion, firing this professor for his speech would be illegal. And if we -- the governor said, if we don't take that act, which, in my opinion, would be illegal, that he will act against the university. And that concerns me very much.

ZAHN: Michael Carrigan, thank you so much for your time. And we want to confirm for the record, you are a Democrat, right?

CARRIGAN: I am a Democrat.

ZAHN: And you have a pretty -- and you have a split of Republicans and Democrats on this Board of Regents?

CARRIGAN: Yes. Yes, ma'am.

ZAHN: All right, thank you again for your time tonight, sir. Appreciate it.

CARRIGAN: Thank you.

ZAHN: And coming up next, we change our focus to North Korea. It now says it has the bomb, a nuclear bomb. But who is the man with his finger on the button?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And if anybody takes him on, you've heard about their gulags. They're gigantic. It's Holocaust stuff. You don't cross this guy or you're dead.


ZAHN: Sizing up the leader Kim Jong Il when we come back.


ZAHN: For 10 years now, the U.S. has suspected North Korea has nuclear weapons. Well, today, for the first time, the North Koreans said they do. They also dropped out of disarmament talks with the U.S. and their four neighboring countries.

For years, they've wanted one-on-one talks with the U.S. instead. The North Koreans now say they need nukes to cope with a hostile U.S. bent on isolating and stifling them.

Here's what Secretary of State Rice said about the news.


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: The North Koreans have been told by the president of the United States himself that the United States has no intention to attack or invade North Korea. The North Koreans have been told that they can have security assurances on a multilateral basis. Those security assurances will of course include the United States, if they are prepared to take a definitive decision to dismantle their nuclear weapons programs and to do so in a way that is verifiable.


ZAHN: Washington has also believed for years that North Korea has missiles powerful enough to reach the West Coast of the United States. So, missiles that could hit the U.S., nuclear bombs, stalled talks, all that in the hands of an unpredictable government led by a very unpredictable dictator, Kim Jong Il. That scares a lot of people.

But what do we really know about Kim? Jonathan Mann takes a closer look.


JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Call it Kim Jong Il's coming-out party. In October of 2000, then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright became the highest-ranking America ever to visit North Korea. Kim put on quite a performance.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I thought to myself at that time, it takes a dictator to make 100,000 people dance in step. Kim Jong Il said that everybody volunteered to do this, big grain of salt there, and that he himself had taken a personal interest in the dancing and the color of the costumes and the various production numbers.

And later, at a diner, he said that he would really have loved to have been a movie director.

MANN: Movies apparently do color his world. Some of his favorites, "James Bond," "Friday the 13th" slasher films, and Daffy Duck.

JERROLD POST, FORMER CIA ANALYST: He is fascinated with the media, reportedly has a collection of 20,000 videotapes, which many have said shape his view of the West.

MANN: That fascination with film led to a bizarre kind of crime in 1978, the kidnapping of a South Korean director and his actress wife to make movies.

POST: When he first met her, he said to her, well, Madam Choi, you must be surprised to see that I resemble the droppings of a midget. So there's a lot of insecurity, not just politically, but personally.

MANN: In 1986, the couple slipped away from their guards while shooting a film in Vienna. They were free after eight years of captivity.

But other kidnappings ended differently. Last September, at a summit with the Japanese prime minister, Kim admitted that, in the '70s, North Korea sent people into Japan to seize a dozen of its citizens. According to his explanation, it was to teach North Korean agents to speak Japanese. According to his account, most of the captives have since died.

Western intelligence also blame Kim for bombings, a 1983 attempt on the life of South Korea's president that barely missed him and killed 17 of his officials, and, in 1987, the bombing of a South Korean jet that killed 115 people, an apparent effort to scare tourists away from the upcoming '88 Seoul Olympic Games.

Over the last decade, Kim's own people have suffered. A U.S. congressional report estimates two million starved to death in the last 10 years.

PAK GIL YON, NORTH KOREAN AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: We will overcome such difficulties one after another, and by mobilizing all the efforts of our people, and, of course we are receiving a number of the international organizations' humanitarian assistance.

MIKE CHINOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It got so bad that a very proud government, which has had a philosophy of chuch'e, or self-reliance, and not asking for anything from the rest of the world, was forced, in an unprecedented step, to ask for international food aid.

MANN: But for Kim, there is plenty to eat and enjoy.

POST: Just one example of his extravagance, the Hennessy cognac manufacturers have confirmed that his annual bill from Hennessy runs between $650,000 and $720,000 for their most expensive cognac, which is called Paradis.

MANN: How does Kim stay in power? Critics say he takes a firm hand with any opposition.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And if anybody takes them on, you have heard about their gulags. They're gigantic. It's Holocaust stuff. You don't cross this guy or your dead.


ZAHN: As you're trying to absorb the enormity of what Jonathan Mann just reported, we should keep in mind, while North Korea says it has the bomb and may have the missiles that can actually reach the U.S.' West Coast, it's still not clear whether North Korea actually has the technology to put those two things together.

Coming up, what happens when doctors refuse to deliver any more babies, calling it quits because of sky-high malpractice insurance? How the problem and the possible solution might affect you and your family.


ZAHN: Today, the Senate gave President Bush a victory in his battle against frivolous lawsuits. On a 72-26 vote, the Senate passed a bill that shifts some big class-action suits from state courts to federal courts. Supporters say greedy lawyers file frivolous suits in state courts, where they know they can get bigger verdicts. Opponents say the bill would shield businesses from being held responsible when they do something wrong.

Well, the House takes up all of that next week. And the president is also trying to limit malpractice lawsuits. The idea is backed by many doctors, who say huge damage awards are driving up the cost of their insurance, threatening to put them out of business.

Senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin has the story of one doctor who took a drastic step. He stopped delivering babies altogether.


DR. ARNOLD PALLAY, FAMILY PHYSICIAN: And I think SpongeBob is in your ear. Let me see if SpongeBob is in there.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: Caroline Barardo's (ph) doctor is the same one who delivered her three years ago.

PALLAY: I was there when you were born, yes.

TOOBIN: DR. Arnold Pallay is a family physician. He treats the kids. He treats the parents. He even delivered babies -- delivered, past tense.

PALLAY: I've been doing obstetrics as part of my family practice for the better part of 17, 18 of those years. And last year, I had to stop delivering babies because of the current medical malpractice climate that is happening in the United States.

TOOBIN: After 13 years and five births, Kathleen Barardo and her family have grown to trust Dr. Pallay.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It made me sad. I was very comfortable with Dr. Pallay because he knew our family history.

TOOBIN: Here is Montville, New Jersey, Dr. Pallay and his partner were paying $7,000 a year for their malpractice insurance three years ago. He says, if they kept delivering babies, this year, it would be $60,000. They couldn't just charge their patients more because the rates are fixed by the insurance companies. So they decided to give up one of the best parts of being a family doctor.

PALLAY: We didn't want to do that. But we had to.

TOOBIN (on camera): What was that emotionally?

PALLAY: It was one of the most enjoyable things we did. We went to the hospital. And even though it might take all night long to succeed with a good delivery, I'd come home the next day and I would feel like a million bucks. I would feel great. And I would feel ready to go to work and enjoy what I was doing. And that can't happen anymore, because we could not pay the premium dollar to do the obstetrical portion of our practice.

TOOBIN: Were you ever sued for something you did in the delivery room?

PALLAY: Never. No, never.

TOOBIN (voice-over): Medical malpractice cases generally come down to a question whether it was bad treatment or just bad luck.

PALLAY: People die. People get sick. That's the way the good lord made us. And when that happens, many a time what will occur, the family sometime later will decide, you know, we wish mom or dad didn't have that happen. Let's go find lawyer and sue.

And, suddenly, you're hit with a lawsuit, whether it's successful or not. And you look back and you say to yourself, but I did the best I could do. I did the right things. I was there at 2:00 in the morning. I held their hands. I explained what had to be done. But sometimes they will sue anyway. That's not a cost in business. That's a devastation personally.

TOOBIN: If a patient is hurt by malpractice, a jury can make two kinds of awards, compensation for economic losses and also payments for noneconomic things like pain and suffering.

PALLAY: Certainly, the family's entitled to have the cost of their health care for let's say a child and the cost for their living and all the good things that we call economic damages throughout their life.

The problem is when you do noneconomic damages, when you start giving these outrageous sums from juries, what are you going to pay a mom and dad in pain and suffering for a child's problem? Should they become millionaires? Is this a lottery system in the United States of America? That's not what it's meant to be.

TOOBIN: Dr. Pallay supports President Bush's proposal, which would cap pain and suffering awards at $250,000 and limit punitive damages. But, for now, he's telling families like the Barardos that he cannot deliver another baby.

PALLAY: People always joked throughout my career that they can tell when I have delivered a baby, because I'm usually grinning ear to ear when I come to the office after.

(CROSSTALK) TOOBIN (on camera): Really? Why?

PALLAY: It's just a wonderful feeling. It's such a terrific thing when you have brought a child into the world and the moms and dads are so happy and they take your pictures. And it's a fun thing.

TOOBIN: How many babies would you say you have delivered?

PALLAY: Probably 400 or 500, at least, through my career. And if this continues at this present trend, I'm very afraid family physicians will stop. And good OB/GYNs will stop. So who's delivering our babies?


ZAHN: So, this fine doctor, basically, Jeff, could be a poster child for what the president is talking about.

TOOBIN: Absolutely.


ZAHN: Do you think this system is out of control based on this one story...


TOOBIN: The system is not working properly. It is worth keeping in mind, however, though...

ZAHN: Is it out of control or just not working properly?

TOOBIN: Well, it's certainly not...

ZAHN: It's semantic here, isn't it?

TOOBIN: But it's worth remembering that there's another party here. This is often portrayed as a fight between doctors and trial lawyers.

But, remember, there's another party who benefits from tort reform.

ZAHN: Insurance companies.

TOOBIN: Insurance companies, because if you raise premiums and cut payouts in tort -- in lawsuits, the spread gets better for the insurance companies. So they need to step up to the plate and sacrifice, too, if plaintiffs and doctors are going to try to -- going to sacrifice as well.

ZAHN: So if -- there's so much battling going on in Washington about what this ultimate reform will look like. But if reforms don't go in place, are you going to see very few doctors in this country who are willing to deliver babies? TOOBIN: You're going to see fewer. I don't think you'll ever see zero, but you do -- this is not -- Dr. Ardy is not the only one out there stopping delivering babies. This is a real problem. And there are many doctors stopping.

ZAHN: Yeah. I have a much better appreciation after meeting him. Jeffrey Toobin, please stand by. You have another segment to do.

When we come back, the other side of the story.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And they were all pushing. I can feel elbows in my throat. They were all pushing so hard. People are on the table. And I can hear nurses crying. So I think that he definitely -- there's no doubt, it was chaos, it was mass chaos.


ZAHN: Who could put a price on that kind of pain and suffering?


ZAHN: Good to have you all back with us. Before the break we heard about one doctor who gave up delivering babies altogether because his insurance premiums had gotten so out of hand.

Now the other side of the story, people who have been harmed by medical blunders. What happens to them if President Bush succeeds in limiting medical malpractice lawsuits? Once again, Jeffrey Toobin.


TOOBIN (voice-over): For 5 years, Tony and Susie Zionkowski tried to have a baby. Then they got a surprise, twins. Susie's pregnancy was normal and so was the delivery of their daughter Lucy, not so the other twin Lily.

TONY ZIONKOWSKI, FATHER OF LILY ZIONKOWSKI: To witness what happened when Lily, when they could not get Lily out, it was as if the world had collapsed.

SUSIE ZIONKOWSKI, MOTHER OF LILY ZIONKOWSKI: I don't think most people have doctors in there screaming for help. And they were all pushing. I could feel elbows in my throat. They were all pushing so hard. People were on the table. And I can hear nurses crying. So I think that you definitely -- there's no doubt, it was chaos. It was mass chaos.

TOOBIN: Lily was finally delivered by emergency C-section. Her brain was deprived by oxygen for so long that she had to be revive.

S. ZIOKOWSKI: Truly and honestly, they sent us home planning a funeral.

TOOBIN: Today the girls are 4 and a half years old, Lucy and Lily.

S. ZIONKOWSKI: No, no, no, no. Let me see how tall you are. Let's see how tall you are. Let's pick you back up. Oh, you need some help? Can you bend your knee?

TOOBIN: Lily has seizures every day.

S. ZIONKOWSKI: Little seizures. It's all right. Hey, hey.

TOOBIN: She must be carefully fed.

S. ZIONKOWSKI: Good job.

TOOBIN: The cost of her daily care is astonishing, her medication alone is $1,000 a month. When the girls were still infants, Tony and Susie struggled to figure out what happened to Lily. After they looked at the medical records, they felt that many mistakes had been made. Then they made a difficult decision, to sue for damages.

S. ZIONKOWSKI: As a mother, you just -- it changes your whole mindset. You know, before I may have been a person that said, you know, if anybody had asked me if I was going to sue someone in my lifetime, I would have said slim to none. I don't believe in it.

TOOBIN: Their lawyers say the hospital played hardball.

MARK TATE, ATTORNEY FOR THE ZIONKOWSKIS: This particular expert testified that Lily had the consciousness of a dog. And so that while she may appear to be suffering and while she may appear to be in pain that, in fact, she has no cognitive ability to actually understand that pain.

TOOBIN: But just before the trial was to begin, the Zionkowskis won a sizable and confidential settlement far more than the $250,000 cap on noneconomic pain and suffering damages proposed by the president's tort reform.

(on camera): Do you think the ability to sue and the amount you can sue for should be limited?

T. ZIONKOWSKI: Cases like Lilies would warrant, where there was evidence of many, many mistakes that were made that could have been rectified and because the mistakes weren't rectified, Lily suffers the rest of her life. No, I don't think there should be limits.

TOOBIN (voice-over): The Zionkowskis are devoted to both of their daughters.

(on camera): Lucy is a gorgeous, outgoing, intelligent child. Does that make it more painful to see lily's limitations?

S. ZIONKOWSKI: Some days, yes. I think that, you know, the hard part is we can't dwell on what should have been, because you just wouldn't get through every day that way. And Lily has her own special way about her. And, yes, it's just different. It's in a different way.

TOOBIN (voice-over): Like any parent, Susie has dreams for Lily.

S. ZIONKOWSKI: I want her as independent as she possibly can be, whatever that may be. It may not include walking or talking, but my goal is to get her to do everything that she physically can.

We take baby steps forward and we take gigantic leaps backwards, so it just -- we have to take those baby steps as though they're little miracles.

TOOBIN: CNN made numerous attempts to contact the hospital and the doctor that delivered Lily, but they made no comment.


ZAHN: No comment at all.

TOOBIN: On lawyers' advice, as usual.

ZAHN: Well, I guess that wouldn't surprise me at all.

In a case like this, how do you even go about trying to establish what is a legitimate number for all the costs that this family are going to incur?

TOOBIN: Well, you know, there is an art to it. And there are experts who will say what will her drug costs be? What will the home care be? What will the physical therapy cost? How many wheelchairs will she need in the course of a lifetime? You can figure out that number. It's a very large number.

ZAHN: And in the case of this family, do we have any idea what that number will be?

TOOBIN: It's certainly well into the seven figures. The problem with tort reform in this area is that if you limit only economic damages, economic damages are very narrowly defined. If you could have a more expansive definition of economics, which allows Lily to have a more comfortable life, then maybe you could get rid of the pain and suffering damages. But the problem is, it's a very tough to define that number.

ZAHN: What a beautiful child. And what a blessed child to have the parents she has.

TOOBIN: Fabulous, fabulous family. It was a privilege to be there.

ZAHN: What a story. Thanks, Jeff.

Coming up next, a long, and very long courtship. Jeffrey's been so happy about this all day long. Finally ends for prince and his true love.

You've been crying all day, haven't you? TOOBIN: I'm so happy.


TOOBIN: I'm going.

ZAHN: You are. You're inviting? How nice of the queen to include you.

We'll be right back.


ZAHN: For years, Princess Diana was by far the most popular member of Britain's royal family. When polls asked women with whom they'd like to trade places for a month, Diana would be No. 1.

And even in death, she's still revered. So it came as a bit of a shock today when the royals announced she's finally being replaced. Prince Charles officially engaged to the woman he always preferred, to -- over Diana -- Diana, that is -- Camilla Parker Bowles.


ZAHN (voice-over): They've been otherwise engaged for years. Finally, they're just engaged. He's 56. She's 57. Just look at that ring. They had a photo op this evening.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you feeling, ma'am?

CAMILLA PARKER BOWLES, PRINCE CHARLES' FIANCEE: All right. I'm just coming down to earth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he get down on one knee to propose?

ZAHN: He also had to get his mother's permission. She is the queen, after all. She wasn't at the photo op, but she gave her blessing.

They've known each other since the early '70s. The story that is often quoted has Camilla telling Charles, "My great, great grandmother was your great, great grandfather's mistress. So how about it?"

Their first fling ended in 1972, when he went to sea. But they stayed friends. She married Andrew Parker Bowles in 1973. We all know who he married. That was in 1981. And we all know what she thought of Camilla.

DIANA, PRINCESS OF WALES: Well, there were three of us in this marriage. So it was a bit crowded.

ZAHN: That interview was in 1995, the year before Diana and Charles divorced. Before that, Charles had publicly admitted he had strayed from his vows, and it was no secret who the other woman was. The public preferred Diana, even if Charles didn't. Then tragedy struck. It was seven years ago last August. Diana is still missed, so much so that there won't be another Princess of Wales. Camilla will get the title of Duchess of Cornwall. And if Charles becomes king, she'll be called her royal highness, the princess consort.

The big date is April 8. The wedding will be low key. The safe bet is that the bride won't wear white. While bookmakers are offering one to five odds Camilla will wear a cream ensemble. You can get 50-1 odds that she'll wear red, white and blue. And if you're really daring, bet the bride will wear pink or yellow, 100 to 1.

We're told that Charles and Diana's sons, 22-year-old Prince William and 20-year-old Prince Harry are, quote, delighted. And this is what British Prime Minister Tony Blair had to say about the union.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I'm delighted for the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles. It's very happy news. And when the cabinet heard it this morning, they sent congratulations and good wishes on behalf of the whole government.

ZAHN: It's been more of a soap opera than a fairy tale. But some members of the public seem ready for the next chapter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's fine, if that's what they want to do. They should be happy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's going to cause a lot of controversy. And it's going to split people.

ZAHN: It is a touchy subject, because as king, Charles will be the supreme governor of the Church of England, which doesn't like divorced people remarrying.


ZAHN: Well, the compromise they worked out is to have Charles and Camilla marry in a civil ceremony with a prayer service afterwards. It will be held at Windsor Castle, appropriately enough, the resting place of another monarch who had messy divorce problems, Henry VIII.

Time to check in with Larry King, who's coming up in a few minutes. Are you going to get into the controversy about all this tonight, Lar?

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": I don't understand it, but we're doing it.

ZAHN: You don't understand what? They're finally going to be able to be together legally.

KING: We're America. Get it? OK, never mind. We escaped that. It's OK. I like Prince Charles. I like everybody.

And here's my tip, Paula. Write this down. ZAHN: OK.

KING: Write it down. You got a pen? Write it down. She will wear lavender.

ZAHN: The odds makers haven't even gotten to that choice yet.

KING: I know.

ZAHN: I'm going with the pink.

KING: I wore this tonight just to predict. When I head the news today, I just said, "Lavender."

ZAHN: So who are you going to talk to tonight?

KING: We've got a whole bunch of royals and Joan Rivers.

And then we're going to go to Clive Davis later on, his annual Grammy party, and we're going to have Alicia Keys and Carlos Santana and Fantasia will sing for us to close out the show. But the first bulk of the program will deal with the coming nuptials. Are you going to be invited?

ZAHN: I don't think so, but I'm happy for them, Lar.

KING: Yes, me too. I'm only kidding.

ZAHN: And I hope Joan Rivers is nice to you about your lavender shirt tonight.

KING: You don't like it? Wait a minute.

ZAHN: I like it a lot, but I know that Joan...

KING: You don't like it, do you?

ZAHN: No, I do. I do. I just know that Joan...

KING: You hurt me tonight, Paula. You hurt me.

ZAHN: Larry, I'll see you in nine minutes. Look forward to your show.


ZAHN: When it comes to the royals, there's always a lot more going on than you can imagine. A seasoned observer weighs in on today's big news. Next.


ZAHN: Nice rock there, Camilla. We're talking about the big wedding coming up in Britain, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles. And joining us now from Los Angeles, a reporter who's been covering the royal family for more than 30 years now, Richard Mineards of the "London Daily Express."

Always good to see you.


ZAHN: You know more about this than just about anybody. Were you surprised by the announcement?

MINEARDS: Well, I thought it would happen rather later than sooner. But I think this is being fast forwarded because of an incident two months ago when Prince Charles was due to go to a wedding of the Duke of Westminster's daughter, with Camilla, and he found out that he was going to be sitting in the front row with his mother, the queen, and Camilla was going to be consigned to the back row. And he eventually said he wouldn't go to the wedding and nor would Camilla.

And of course, later this year he's coming to America with Camilla, and I think he also was concerned about this kind of treatment that she be a second-class citizen. But of course, this announcement, appropriately four days before Valentine's Day, very much puts her on an official footing.

She will be the Duchess of Cornwall. She'll enjoy the status of "her royal highness," and the titles obviously avoid any controversy and anybody thinking about Diana. She will not be known as Princess of Wales. And when Charles becomes King Charles III, which he inevitably will, when his mother dies, she will then become princess consort and not Queen Camilla.

So I think this is avoiding controversy for the future. And I think, you know, they're in their mid 50s. Time is a great healer. Diana has been dead now eight years. And I think the people want to see him happy. And British opinion polls, 60 percent now say they would want to see him happy. And more importantly, the boys, William and Harry, know that their father is happy with Camilla and this is the way to go. And I think it is the right way, and as we have the announcement today from Clarence House in London.

ZAHN: But Richard, you always have to read something into those announcements that you -- particularly the official royal announcements. Have his two young sons really backed this union?

MINEARDS: Yes, I think now. Because as I say, we're eight years on. Time does a great deal. I think any angst they felt after their mother's death has now dissipated. They meet with Camilla quite regularly and have tea together, despite the fact, obviously, William is at college at St. Andrew's in Scotland, and in due course, Harry will be joining the Army as a cadet at the military college at Sandhurst.

But as I say, I think they've come to an agreement. They have warmed to Camilla. As to whether they, indeed, love Camilla, is another question. But they do want to see their dad satisfied and happy. Life is short, and I think this is why Charles has now made this decision to announce his engagement. Because if he wasn't confident that he had public support and the support of his family, this would not have happened, be assured of that.

ZAHN: So the reality of this is that Prince Charles had to read the public polls? Basically 60 percent of the public backs it.

MINEARDS: Well, yes, because you know, eight years ago he was considered the lowest of the opinion polls. Camilla was considered a pariah. She got pelted with bread rolls at her supermarket.

But here we are nearly a decade on. I think things have changed. The opinion polls are very important to the royal family, because they would not exist without the support of the British taxpayer.

ZAHN: Pretty mind-boggling the extent to which we all live by polls, isn't it, Richard Mineards? Thank you so much for your insights tonight.

MINEARDS: Thank you.

ZAHN: If you get an invitation, we're going to have you be our reporter.

When we come back, the view from the colonies. Americans react to Camilla and Charles.


ZAHN: Well, now that Charles and Camisha -- Camilla, that would be, are officially engaged, the prospect of wedding bells over there even has tongues wagging over here. And guess who's listening? For a little dessert, here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When it comes to these two, forget the wedding march. This has been a wedding trek, a love that spanned three decades and spawned plenty of venom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People are enraged by Camilla Parker Bowles. People will not forget what happened.

MOOS: For some, Camilla will always be the other woman, the woman other than Princess Di.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Camilla Parker Bowles couldn't go shopping in a supermarket. People were throwing bread rolls at her.

MOOS: At this British outpost in New York, Tea & Sympathy, there is little sympathy for the bride to be. But back in London, many seemed mellow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just think they should be allowed to get on with it and be left alone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty-first Century now. We've got to put the past behind us.

MOOS: True, the royal scandal was so last century. Remember the intercepted phone call between Prince Charles and Camilla?

SEAN KAVANAGH-DOWSETT, CO-OWNER, TEA & SYMPATHY: Charles saying how he'd love to be her tampon. You know, very distasteful, really.

MOOS: And though the official word is she will never be called Queen Camilla, she will get the title Her Royal Highness.

(on camera) I just had no idea this was such a big deal, this HRH stuff.

(voice-over) Some are mad that Diana was stripped of her "HRH" when they divorced but Camilla will get it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is bad behavior rewarded.

MOOS: But Joan Rivers says she knows the pair and leaped to their defense.

JOAN RIVERS, COMEDIAN: They are such a great couple together. It's so right, I cannot tell you. I wish the world knew how right it was.

MOOS: Here at New York's Fashion Week, Prince Charles and Camilla didn't quite get the royal treatment.


MOOS: But fashionistas were happy to speculate about Camilla's wedding outfit.

ANDRE LEON TALLEY, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, "VOGUE": I would dress Camilla in a dress that would, A, not be white.

VERA WANG, DESIGNER: Actually for her, the quieter, the better because, you know, Diana was such an icon and such a fashion star.

MOOS: One New Yorker offered an analogy, equating Prince Charles with Bill Clinton and supposing something tragic happened to Hillary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nine years later, if Bill had possibly married Monica.

MOOS: Now that would be a wedding to cry at.


ZAHN: And on that note, we say good night. Thanks so much for joining us tonight. Tomorrow night, Alicia Keys. Have a good night.


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