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PAULA ZAHN NOW
Terri Schiavo Remembered; White House Shakeup; 7-Year-Old Poet Stirs Controversy
Aired March 28, 2006 - 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, everyone.
Thank you all for being with us tonight.
In a White House under incredible pressure, is a sudden change a bombshell or a Band-Aid?
ZAHN (voice-over): "Beyond the Headlines" -- discarded.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I accepted Andy's resignation.
ZAHN: At the White House, a new chief of staff. But is this the shakeup so many had predicted?
BUSH: We have a global war to fight and win.
ZAHN: And will it do anything to reverse the second-term slide?
Her name is Autum.
AUTUM A. ASHANTE:, 7-YEAR-OLD POET: I want my voice to be heard by every ear in the world.
ZAHN: A 7-year-old with the soul of a poet. So, why is she making so many people so angry?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I try my best to speak the truth. Some people don't like it.
ZAHN: And the "Eye Opener" -- Terri Schiavo, her life and death divided a family and a nation -- and now an explosive new struggle.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We absolutely owed it to Terri to tell her story.
MICHAEL SCHIAVO, HUSBAND OF TERRI SCHIAVO: I can forgive, but I will never forget.
ZAHN: One year later, the Terri Schiavo story you haven't heard yet.
(END VIDEOTAPE) ZAHN: We begin tonight with a big move at the White House. President Bush did something today he almost never has done. Five years into his presidency and months into a steep downward slide in the polls, he announced a major personnel change.
His longtime chief of staff, Andrew Card, is stepping down. Critics, of course, have been hounding the president for weeks to make some kind of move. And, so, the question now is will it help him turn things around?
Tonight, White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux takes us "Beyond the Headlines."
BUSH: ... weekend, I accepted...
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A turnover at the highest levels in the West Wing.
BUSH: Andy Card has served me and our country in historic times.
MALVEAUX: Chief of Staff Andy Card out.
ANDREW CARD, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: And there is a new season.
MALVEAUX: Budget chief Josh Bolten in.
JOSH BOLTEN, BUDGET DIRECTOR: Andy cannot be replaced.
MALVEAUX: A shakeup at the White house? Hardly.
CHARLIE BLACK, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think what has occurred today is, a very fine public servant decided to retire and was replaced by another Bush insider.
MALVEAUX: And that's the way the president likes it.
Despite strikes by terrorists and hurricanes, bruising legislative battles, war, and sagging poll numbers, President Bush's team continues to defy history by remaining almost entirely intact five years after the president first took office.
BLACK: This White House staff has been more unified and had less infighting and less freelancing than any White House in modern history.
MALVEAUX: But critics, now including some top Republicans on the Hill, believe the president's leadership style has ultimately hurt him, isolating him from fresh ideas and bad news.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The president leaves himself very little margin for error.
MALVEAUX: The president's inner circle remains small. Aides say, his Oval Office door is open to just a handful who have been with him since he came to Washington in 2001 -- among those, Vice President Dick Cheney, political guru Karl Rove, White House counsel Harriet Miers, and others.
BLACK: If he has no suspicion whatsoever that they have their own agenda, then, it allows him to trust them and become completely comfortable with them.
MALVEAUX: And those who have departed generally have not.
BLACK: If there is a common denominator, it seems to me that this sense of loyalty and teamwork that the president demands, that folks who left might not have adhered to that, or at least he didn't perceive them to be complete team players.
ZAHN: So, Suzanne, the question tonight is, did Andrew Card get fired, or did he fire himself?
MALVEAUX: He certainly didn't get fired, Paula.
It was very interesting. The White House has said that it was three weeks ago that -- even the president saying, it was about three weeks ago he went to him, saying he wanted to step down. This is something that he expressed to the president after the 2004 reelection campaign.
President Bush just wanted to keep him. And it really wasn't until this past weekend at Camp David he finally accepted his resignation. There are even some GOP strategists who believe, perhaps, he kept Andy Card around just a little bit too long. But the question, as you know, Paula, whether or not this is really going to turn things around for President Bush's agenda, to rejuvenate that.
I have spoken with many Republican strategists -- one of them, who is quite skeptical, saying that, look, a White House staff change is really not going to bring success or victory to Iraq any time sooner -- Paula.
ZAHN: Suzanne Malveaux, thanks so much for the update.
Joining me now, someone who has been in Andrew Card's shoes, John Podesta, who was President Clinton's chief of staff from 1998 to 2001. He is now president and CEO of the Center For American Progress -- also with me, chief national correspondent John King.
Glad to have both of you with us.
JOHN PODESTA, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Thank you, Paula.
ZAHN: So, John, you're pretty familiar with how these things work? Why do you think the president accepted the resignation today?
PODESTA: Well, I think, you know, the president's in a lot of political trouble.
I think the public wants to see a change a -- in course, a change in direction in this country. I think, actually, the president, by selecting Mr. Bolten, and bringing someone from across the driveway, really, from OMB, back over to the White House, where he had served as deputy chief of staff, is really sending a signal of continuity.
So, I'm not sure it gave the public what it wanted. But I think, at some point, this was the last act of a loyal staff guy, who took the spear for the president.
ZAHN: So, John, if continuity is what the issue is here, we all know it's Iraq that has gotten this president in so much trouble in the polls. So, is switching these bodies, whether this guy is an insider or not, going to make any difference?
KING: Well, it won't make any difference in the policy in Iraq. Could it make any difference in calming the Republican criticism of this White House?
It has not today. Will it in time? Many Republicans are saying, not enough. As John Podesta just said, you're taking a guy from across the driveway. They want some outside blood in.
But the president's fundamental problem is Iraq. The president thinks he's right in Iraq. So, he's not going to change. The change some people have been calling for is the defense secretary. The president has signaled, time and time again, he's not going to do that. So, they're likely to bring in somebody else, probably a former member of Congress to help deal with congressional relations. That is what they're talk about right now.
But most people say this is a president who believes he's right. He trusts his staff. They did this to satisfy the demands in Washington. It's not enough for Republicans today. Josh Bolten has a lot of outreach to do. What he's going to hear is, we want more.
ZAHN: So, John King just raised an interesting point. If -- if we're talking about high-profile replacements, you're not talking about Donald Rumsfeld tonight. You're talking about Andrew Card. A lot of people in America didn't even know who he was, John Podesta
PODESTA: No, exactly.
I think the chief of staff can be an anonymous role, but it -- you know, it has an important role, which is that you're the one person in the White House who has to be able to go in the Oval Office and tell the president when he's wrong.
And I think that one of the things that I think that, again, the -- the earlier commentary pointed to is that this is a president who really feels comfortable with a very narrow circle of people.
And you get the sense that he's not hearing too much, in the way of maybe, "Mr. President, we made a mistake here or there, and we have got to change things." So, I think -- I don't see Mr. Bolten really doing that. He served as Andy Card's deputy.
But I think John has got it nailed on the head, which is, what he really needs to do is -- is have some new thinking on Iraq. And -- and, you know, this -- certainly, this move isn't really going to really produce that. Whether there are other changes in the offing, we will have to wait and see.
ZAHN: There doesn't seem to be anybody convinced that there's going to be any addition here to that inner circle.
ZAHN: And -- and what does this mean down the road for even more significant changes?
KING: You have to remember this president's style. This is a president who likes the people around him. This is a president who values trust and loyalty.
People earn his trust, they stay around him. His thought right now is, this is the second year of his second term. He doesn't have that much more time. Why does he want to meet somebody new, develop trust, take two, three, four months to do that? The president thinks that would be counterproductive, in terms of getting things done.
One other quick point -- John Podesta was chief of staff when the president was in a lot of trouble. Bill Clinton was being impeached. He had an enemy, the Republican Party and Ken Starr. This president's party controls Congress. It's hard to have a fight.
PODESTA: Well, you know...
ZAHN: All right, gentlemen.
PODESTA: You know -- you know, Paula, though, President Reagan may -- may have felt the same way, but he made a -- after Iran-Contra, he made a decision that he really needed to clean -- clean house really.
He filed -- fired Donald Regan. He brought in Howard Baker. That righted the presidency. It righted the White House. And -- and he went out on an up note. And I think the -- you know, the president, he does have his style. Sometimes, it's his strength. But I think, in this case, it may be his weakness.
ZAHN: We will have to watch very closely what this triggers in the weeks to come. John Podesta, John King, thank you both.
PODESTA: Thank you.
ZAHN: Appreciate it.
So, the question tonight is, just how bad is security along our country's borders? Well, government agents actually smuggled in the parts for a radioactive dirty bomb. What if terrorists try it next time? What should you do if one ever goes off? And we are going to introduce to you an amazing little girl tonight. She already writes poetry. And some of it is agitating a lot of people out there. What could be so controversial over what a 7-year-old writes in her poems? You will see tonight.
And, also, whose side are you on? I will be talking with Terri Schiavo's husband and her parents -- strikingly different points of view. What are they revealing in their dueling brand new books? You will see in just a little bit.
Seventeen million of you went to our Web site today.
Our countdown of the top-10 most popular stories on CNN.com begins with the funeral for Matthew Winkler. He's the Tennessee minister shot to death last week. His wife has been charged with his murder. She actually admitted to killing him.
Number nine -- in Paris, some amazing pictures here, police using water cannons to clear the streets of protesters. Today, hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated against a new labor law that makes it easier to fire and hire young employees.
We will have numbers eight and seven when we come back. Please stay with us. .
ZAHN: Who was right after all? Nearly a year after Terri Schiavo's death, her husband and her parents all join me to look back and talk about their brand new books. What is their level of pain and anger today?
On the CNN "Security Watch" tonight, government officials were called on the carpet in a congressional hearing today over an astonishing border security breach. We told you about it last night. Government investigators tested security at two border crossings by trying to actually slip radioactive material into the U.S., enough nuclear material, in fact, to build two dirty bombs laced with the stuff.
And what's really scary is that it got through, even though radiation alarms went off at both border checkpoints.
Here's national security correspondent David Ensor.
DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Wednesday, December 14, 2005: As a vehicle crossing the border from Canada passes through a radiation-detection checkpoint, it sets off alarms.
Almost simultaneously, to the south on the Mexican border, the same thing happens at another checkpoint. Both are found to be carrying small amounts of cesium-137, a radiological material used in hospitals and industrial gauges. But, in each case, the drivers produce required documents with the letterhead of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and from a purchasing company in the Washington, D.C., area, and they were both waved through.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were able to enter the United States with enough radioactive sources to make two dirty bombs.
ENSOR (on camera): The two teams were undercover congressional investigators. The documents that they showed at the borders were forgeries.
(voice-over): Their investigation revealed a gaping hole in the nation's defenses against terrorists seeking to attack with a dirty bomb.
SEN. NORM COLEMAN (R), MINNESOTA: The bad news is that the investigators were able to use, you know, basic documents you can get off any computer. My 20-year-old son could have created the same documents on his, you know, Dell computer at home.
ENSOR: A dirty bomb is a conventional explosive wrapped in radioactive material. Unlike a real nuclear weapon, it would not kill that many people, but a weapon detonated, say, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., could make part of the city uninhabitable. Exposure to radiation can cause cancer. Exposure to high levels can kill.
The biggest immediate danger, though, would be panic.
PHIL ANDERSON, SENIOR ASSOCIATE, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES INTERNATIONAL SECURITY PROGRAM: We Americans are -- are radiophobic. We're desperately concerned about any source of radiation.
ENSOR: It is the natural human instinct to run. It's what people did on 9/11 in New York and at the U.S. Capitol. It was the right instinct then. But, with a dirty bomb, it could be a mistake.
BATTALION CHIEF LARRY SCHULTZ, WASHINGTON, D.C., FIRE DEPARTMENT: If you're in a building,and the envelope of that building hasn't been ruptured -- in other words, you don't have broken windows, and there's no structural damage to the building -- you are much safer off staying where you are, keeping the windows closed, shutting off the HVAC system.
ENSOR (on camera): Why shouldn't I run?
COMMANDER CATHY LANIER, WASHINGTON, D.C., POLICE DEPARTMENT: Once you come out into the open air, you're exposing yourself to contaminants that not only can be harmful to you, but that you can take home and actually bring into your own home and contaminate your own family.
ENSOR (voice-over): Government witnesses promised senators there will be changes soon, so forged documents can be identified while the suspicious vehicles are still held at the border. JAYSON P. AHERN, ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER, OFFICE OF FIELD OPERATIONS, CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION: That's what we're working diligently to have in place within the next 30 days.
ENSOR: But the congressional investigators also complained that efforts to put radiation detectors at all 380 border crossings, including sea and air ports, by 2009 are behind schedule and over budget.
David Ensor, CNN, Washington.
ZAHN: Pretty darn scary.
We change our focus now to a 7-year-old girl already writing poetry. So, why are school officials apologizing for letting her read it out loud to other students? What is so darn controversial?
Also, should Terri Schiavo have been kept on life support for all those years? Her parents and her husband have new books out. Are they still bitterly divided? You bet. Just wait and see tonight.
Before we get to all that -- number eight on our CNN.com countdown. The gang of crooks from "Ocean's Eleven" and "Twelve" will return to the big screen. George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon have all agreed to star in "Ocean's Thirteen." It's expected to be in theaters summer of 2007. Got a little bit of a wait there.
And seven -- scientists are gathering in Turkey and other places around the world to catch some of the best views of tomorrow's total solar eclipse. The last one was back in November of 2003. We will have the pictures for you tomorrow night.
Don't go away -- number five and six right after this.
ZAHN: So, how much controversy can one little girl cause? Well, just wait until you meet Autum A. ASHANTE:. She's a very talented 7- year-old poet who set off a very heated debate over race, a topic many adults go out of their way to avoid.
This whole thing began last month at a black history school event. And, ever since then, Autum has been vilified for spreading hate, and praise for being wise beyond her years.
Jason Carroll set out to meet Autum and immediately ran head on into the very storm that has raged around her for weeks.
AUTUM ASHANTE:, 7-YEAR-OLD POET: I am misunderstood by many, yes, even my own.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Most girls her age are still learning to read and write, but 7-year-old Autum A. ASHANTE: is recording her spoken word poetry C.D..
A. ASHANTE: I am the mighty black woman.
CARROLL: She has already performed at the Apollo Theater...
A. ASHANTE: I said, do not pollute our gardens, please.
CARROLL: ... and on Black Entertainment Television's Hurricane Katrina relief telethon.
A. ASHANTE: What have I done to be (INAUDIBLE)
CARROLL: Critics are calling her a child prodigy, praising her socially conscious poems, like the one about the controversial police shooting of a black immigrant in New York.
A. ASHANTE: They shot our brothers 41 times.
I like to be on stage. It's like my second home, or it's my house. It's my room.
CARROLL: Autum, it seemed, could do no wrong. So, why is she now defending herself from those who say she's a racist?
A. ASHANTE: That just doesn't make sense. I mean, I'm not a racist. And I'm very young to be a racist, wouldn't you say?
CARROLL: Autum has come under fire for her latest poem titled, "White Nationalism Put You in Bondage." She read it to students at a Peekskill, New York, middle school and high school.
A. ASHANTE: I was kind of upset when I found out that they don't like the poem, because I don't get why they were being offended. It's the truth.
CARROLL: The offense, Autum referring to Christopher Columbus, Charles Darwin and Captain Henry Morgan as vampires.
A. ASHANTE: Pirates and vampires, like Columbus, Morgan and Darwin, drank the blood of the sleep, trampled all over them with steel, tricks and deceit.
CARROLL (on camera): What did you mean by that, because -- because I would like to know, in terms of referring to them as vampires?
A. ASHANTE: Because they robbed, raped, and murdered our people.
CARROLL (voice-over): Autum's attempt at raising black awareness did not end with just a poem. It began when she told all the black students in the multicultural audience to stand while she read the black child's pledge, which was originally created by a member of the Black Panthers.
She told all the white students that it wasn't for them, that they should sit down. (voice-over): Alicia Putchee (ph), a junior at the high school, sat in the audience.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a little shocking, at first, a 7- year-old telling us to sit down. And, then, it just -- it was just -- it was kind of rude. It was a little rude. It was. It made me angry.
CARROLL: The school superintendent sent apologies, after students and parents complained. She explained that Autum's poem and the black child's pledge had not been pre-approved.
JUDITH JOHNSON, SUPERINTENDENT, PEEKSKILL, NEW YORK, SCHOOLS: We're stunned by the fact that this is continuing to represent a story in newspapers and on television. It's not a story for us anymore.
CARROLL: But Autum continues to be the subject of editorials and radio talk shows.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: You want to go to Africa? I will personally purchase your airfare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL: Several threatening blogs have surfaced, this one saying, "Someone will shut her little mouth, permanently."
Many of Autum's critics believe her father is behind her words.
BATIN ASHANTE, FATHER OF AUTUM ASHANTE: Put your answer there.
CARROLL: Autum, who is homeschooled, says she wrote the poem after being inspired by a documentary. She included the black pledge after hearing about a fight between blacks and Latinos at the school. But school officials say there was no fight.
(on camera): If a white student stood up and said that this is for white students only...
B. ASHANTE: Under the circumstance, if it was under the same circumstance...
CARROLL: Let me finish the question. Let me finish the question.
(voice-over): Her father, Batin, just off camera, interrupted several times...
B. ASHANTE: Don't speak on that one.
CARROLL: ... saying he was being a protective parent.
B. ASHANTE: And I'm an offshoot of a soccer parent. We just do poetry and theater. CARROLL: Ashante says he teaches his daughter, but does not tell her what to write.
(on camera): What do you teach Autum about tolerance?
B. ASHANTE: I don't -- we don't -- we -- tolerance is -- tolerance -- we are here with no power in America. We are tolerant.
CARROLL: Even people without power, though, can be intolerant.
B. ASHANTE: We're not intolerant. Of who? I -- I don't want you to take this story here and try to turn this thing into that she's being taught hate at home, because that's not what we're about here. We're spiritual beings.
CARROLL (voice-over): Though her subject matter is typically serious, not everything Autum recites is.
A. ASHANTE: Boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider. Girls go to college to get more knowledge. Hey, girls.
CARROLL: She is, at times, a typical 7-year-old girl, prone to giggle fits...
CARROLL: ... except when it comes to defending her true love of poetry and her poem on white nationalism.
A. ASHANTE: I'm going to continue saying that poem. Mostly, until I die, I'm going to keep saying that poem.
CARROLL: No matter how hard, she says, it is for some to hear it.
Jason Carroll, CNN, Peekskill, New York.
ZAHN: You might also be interested to know that the school has not banned Autum from future recitals, but the superintendent says, next time, it will certainly be a smaller group, so there at least can be a discussion of her poetry.
It has been a year since Terri Schiavo died. Are her parents or her husband at peace today? And, if they could go back and change anything, what would that be? I will be talking with them, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIBILA VARGAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a hot new drama that may be too hot for television. I'm Sibila Vargas. And I will tell you how the FCC has put a big chill on broadcast TV -- when PAULA ZAHN NOW continues. (END VIDEOTAPE)
ZAHN: And we move on to number six on our CNN.com countdown.
Former U.S. Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger died this morning of pneumonia. Weinberger served under President Ronald Reagan and oversaw the Pentagon's biggest peacetime spending increase. He also was indicted for his alleged role in the Iran-Contra affair. Caspar Weinberger was 88 years old.
Number five -- the Afghan man threatened with execution for converting from Islam to Christianity was finally released from prison today. Senior Western diplomats say it's not known if he's still in Afghanistan or if he has actually left the country.
Please stay with us. Number four is next.
ZAHN: What the heck is going on here on the small screen? How about a sitcom about sex education. Coming up in this half hour. Has commercial T.V. gone too far? And should scenes like this be censored?
At the top of the hour, "LARRY KING LIVE" goes country with tonight with Naomi Judd, Martina McBride, Le Ann Womack and Travis Tritt.
This Friday marks the anniversary of Terri Schiavo's death. It's a story much of the nation has agonized over, but every day thousands of families grapple with the issues it raised, questions about life and death, about medical treatment in hopeless cases, or what are perceived hopeless cases. And questions about what someone's mental condition makes their hopeless.
The debate is starting anew this week because her husband Michael who fought to let her die and her parents, who wanted her to live, have both just published books telling their sides of the story. We'll hear from all of them in this half hour. But first, I want all of us to look back at the events that turned into an eye opener for the entire country.
(voice-over): There simply were two very different ways of looking at Terri Schiavo's story. From one point of view, her fate was decided in 1990, when she was just 26 years old. That's when she collapsed from heart failure, leading to severe brain damage and leaving her body in a persistent vegetative state.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The thinking part of her brain is simply gone and is replaced with liquid. Terri has not responded in 15 years that she's been in this condition.
ZAHN: But there was another side to the story. Terri Schiavo's parents, along with many in Washington and across the country, believed that since her body was still functioning, her life was still worth living. And worth fighting for.
REP. TOM DELAY (R), TEXAS: The legal and political issues may be complicated, but the moral ones are not. A young woman in Florida is being dehydrated and starved to death.
ZAHN: In the beginning, Terri's husband Michael stayed steadfastly by her side. He became her legal guardian and even earned a nursing degree to help care for her. But in 1998, eight years after Terri's collapse, Michael told the court he accepted that his wife would never get well and petitioned to remove the feeding tube that was keeping her alive.
It was the start of a legal battle that would last for seven long, bitter years. Terri's parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, simply couldn't accept Michael's decision. They released videotapes of Terri, saying the pictures proved she responded to the people around her.
they accused Michael, who was living with a woman he later married and with whom he started a new family, of abuse and neglect. The Schindlers fought their son-in-law in courtroom after courtroom and lost. Despite a last ditch effort by a majority in Congress to intervene, Schiavo's feeding tube was disconnected on March 18th, 2005. The country debated her fate for 13 days until the morning of March 31st.
BROTHER PAUL O'DONNELL, SCHINDLER SPIRITUAL ADVISER: It is with great sadness that it's been reported to us that Terri Schiavo has passed away.
ZAHN: Terri Schiavo died at the age of 41 with her husband Michael at her side.
And earlier this afternoon I spoke with Michael. His new book about the fight over his late wife's health care and the events leading up to her death is called "Terri: The Truth."
Let's talk about some of the threats. On the cover of your book you say a religious zealot offered $250,000 to anyone who would kill me. My two babies were threatened with death.
MICHAEL SCHIAVO, TERRI SCHIAVO'S HUSBAND: We used to get letters in mail, people saying you better watch your children. They get stolen out of neighborhoods and cars. And then in the bottom of these letters, these people would write scripture. They would tell you they're going to steal your children, and then write scripture on the bottom of it.
ZAHN: So was there any point during this struggle where you said to yourself, this is just not worth being involved with?
SCHIAVO: No. Because you know something? I was doing what Terri wanted. I was fighting for her. There was a point where Jody, my now wife, wanted me to walk away. And that was back with the situation with the kids. It was getting scary for the kids. I did say, yes, and that lasted for about ten minutes.
ZAHN: Let's talk about the hits you took from the politicians and religious leaders, all over the world. Let's listen to some of them right now together.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Extraordinary circumstances like this, it is wise to always err on the side of life.
SEN. BILL FRIST (R), TENNESSEE: Before you are going to have somebody die and starve them, you want a complete exam and a good set of facts on the case for which you make that decision.
DELAY: A young woman in Florida is being dehydrated and starved to death.
ZAHN: They were basically calling you a potential murderer there. How did you react to all that?
SCHIAVO: It made me angry. But you know something, these people didn't know me from the next guy. They never knew of Terri Schiavo two weeks prior to this. Why are these people getting involved in our personal lives? They're not there to do that. We elect them into this position to run our country, not our personal lives. It made me angry. Because they're out there making these allegations and they didn't even know us. They didn't even know us.
ZAHN: Did you see them making these allegations for pure political gain?
SCHIAVO: Oh, definitely. You can see right through that. It was for their own personal gain.
ZAHN: Let's talk about your ex in-laws, the Schindlers. Terri's sister had a very specific accusation to make and it didn't have anything to do with strangulation. She said, I would see bruises on Terri and she would always brush them off as horseplay, but the horseplay got real physical. So you claim you never restrained her, you never abused her in any way.
SCHIAVO: That's absurd. That's absurd. They have no proof. They keep talking about -- it's a shame. They're so in denial. It's a shame. I've never did anything to Terri except love her. With all my heart.
ZAHN: So I don't understand what you think their motivation is --
SCHIAVO: Money. It was money for the Schindlers, especially for Mr. Schindler. He testified he was angry about that.
ZAHN: He says the same thing of you.
SCHIAVO: I offered to give my money up to charity three times in letters, through the media, through the newspapers. The Schindlers said no.
ZAHN: But the truth is no one got richer, either side in all of this.
SCHIAVO: That's right.
ZAHN: So why not just bury the hatchet now.
SCHIAVO: You know something? I've been asked the question can you forgive them? And I thought about it for a couple days. I can forgive soon, maybe later, but I'll never forget. I'll never forget.
ZAHN: What it is that you won't forget?
SCHIAVO: What they have said and what they've done.
ZAHN: Michael, let's talk about the last moments of Terri's life. In the book you describe a very peaceful scene inside the hospice where you held Terri in your arms while she took her final breaths. Did you have a sense of relief when she was gone?
SCHIAVO: It was very hard, very hard. And it's -- it still hurts to this day.
ZAHN: What was the hardest thing for you to confront?
SCHIAVO: Letting her go. I still loved Terri, she's still in my heart. She'll always be there.
ZAHN: That was my conversation with Michael Schiavo. His new book was published yesterday. I have also talked with Terri Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, their book came out today. It is called "A Life That Matters: The Legacy of Terri Schiavo, a Lesson For Us All."
Good to see both of you.
So Bob, you have lived under the scrutiny of a very ugly family feud playing out in public for more than a decade. And now you're out promoting a book a day after Michael's book was released. Why in the world do you publicly want to rehash all of this?
BOB SCHINDLER, TERRI SCHIAVO'S FATHER: Well, first of all, the family feud -- our family was in total harmony.
MARY SCHINDLER, TERRI SCHIAVO'S MOTHER: We absolutely owed it to Terri to tell her story. The only way we could get it out was through a book.
ZAHN: You talk about your family being in total harmony, but the truth is aren't you at war with Michael Schiavo?
M. SCHINDLER: Michael's not part of our family.
B. SCHINDLER: We're not at war now. I mean, really, the damage has been done. The war's over. People think that we're dwelling on Michael Schiavo. We're not. We've moved on and we're focused on what we consider is something very important with the foundation.
ZAHN: Here's what I'm having trouble understanding. For three years after Terri's injury, you and Michael worked as a team. You lived together, even at the malpractice trial back in 1992, Mary, you described Michael this way. He's there every day.
M. SCHINDLER: Right, we both did.
ZAHN: He is loving, caring. I don't know of any young boy that would be as attentive. He's just been unbelievable.
M. SCHINDLER: That's exactly what happened.
ZAHN: So why did your opinion of him change so dramatically?
M. SCHINDLER: Well, because after the medical malpractice trial in 1992, he got his money in 1993, and that's when he stopped -- well, he stopped before, but he put Terri in a nursing home and he didn't touch her until she died.
ZAHN: Why do you seem to be so unwilling to accept the results of the autopsy? It states pretty clearly, they don't know the exact cause of death, but certainly the coroner ruled out some of these other thing.
M. SCHINDLER: What did he rule out?
ZAHN: Blood trauma force. Strangulation.
M. SCHINDLER: Something happened to Terri that night, OK? Something happened. And we're trying, we're trying and we're trying to get an investigation and we're not getting it.
ZAHN: So are you accusing Michael Schiavo essentially of murdering your daughter?
B. SCHINDLER: Well, from all the circumstantial evidences available, apparently something happened and he knows what happened and Terri knows what happened.
M. SCHINDLER: But she's dead and he won't say.
ZAHN: A year has passed since Terri died. What perspective has that brought you about who you blame for her death?
B. SCHINDLER: Well, I think that, first of all, Terri did not have to die. She was brain damaged. Aside from that, she was perfectly healthy.
ZAHN: So even though the autopsy maintained that she was blind -- M. SCHINDLER: She wasn't blind.
ZAHN: And that her brain was half its original size you think she understood what was going on?
M. SCHINDLER: Absolutely. She was not blind. How could she follow me?
ZAHN: There was no doubt in your mind that Terri could potentially recover?
M. SCHINDLER: I know --
B. SCHINDLER: She could never have fully recovered.
M. SCHINDLER: No, but she would have been a lot further than what she was.
B. SCHINDLER: We would have accepted Terri, we would have accepted her under any circumstances.
M. SCHINDLER: All I wanted to do was love her and take her home. That's all I wanted.
ZAHN: How do you think Terri would have viewed the spectacle over the way she lived and the way she died?
B. SCHINDLER: Terri was as private as we were. We were thrust into it. But we were a private family. We're the everyday common family.
ZAHN: Terri Schiavo's parents Bob and Mary Schindler, their new book as well as Michael Schiavo's are in book stores now.
We'll shift gears quite a bit. Coming up, the show that some people think is just is too hot, too steamy for broadcast TV. Was the network right to cut down on those sexy scenes? You can be the judge. And if so, why did they end up putting them on the web?
ZAHN: "LARRY KING LIVE" gets started in just a few minutes. I understand you have a big country western stage tonight.
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: It's my kind of music.
ZAHN: Do you have boots on tonight?
KING: Of course. I only wear cowboy boots. That's all I wear.
ZAHN: Who will sing for you, warble or otherwise talk?
KING: Mostly talk. Naomi Judd, Travis Tritt, Leann Womack and Martina McBride will all be with us at the top of the hour. A salute to country music tonight.
ZAHN: Look forward to it. Thanks, Larry. Have a good show.
KING: Thanks, dear.
ZAHN: And we want you to stay tuned for the TV show that is too hot for one network to handle. Did executives do themselves a favor by cutting out the sexiest scenes? And should this sort of thing be allowed on the air at all?
Now number four in our CNN.com countdown. More than five years after 9/11, human remains are still being found near the World Trade Center. New York City officials today said a construction crew recently found bone fragments and other remains in a vacant skyscraper near the trade center.
Number three, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia tries to clear up reports that he used the middle finger in response to a reporter's question on Sunday. Well, a spokeswoman said today it was a hand off the chin gesture that was meant to be dismissive. We'll be right back.
ZAHN: We got some questions for you tonight. Who should decide what should get to be seen on TV? The producers who make the shows? The networks who air them? Or the government?
Well, two years after Janet Jackson's infamous Super Bowl halftime appearance, otherwise known as her wardrobe malfunction, censorship is back in the headlines. This time, it focuses on a brand new show about to make its premiere on the WB network, which we should mention is owned by this network's parent company.
Here is entertainment correspondent Sibila Vargas with tonight's "What Were They Thinking?"
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Think back to your last sexual encounter.
SIBILA VARGAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is a scene from the new WB series "The Bedford Diaries," a drama centered on the lives of students in a college sex education class. But when the show debuts Wednesday night, audiences won't be seeing this version.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did it make you feel? Wistful?
VARGAS: What they will see is an episode that was edited by network censors in an effort to avoid possible action by the FCC.
TOM FONTANA, SERIES CREATOR: It's the first time that I thought, oh, my God, broadcast television is now in serious moral trouble.
VARGAS: Tom Fontana is the creator and co-executive producer of "The Bedford Diaries," and says even though the show's premiere had been screened and approved by the WB standards department, it was back to the drawing board.
FONTANA: The network wanted me to go back to re-edit parts of episodes that they had already signed off on. And my instant reaction was no.
VARGAS: The request to change the episode came just last Thursday, after the FCC proposed a record fine against CBS, of $3.6 million, for a 2004 episode of "Without a Trace" that featured a scene depicting a teen sex orgy.
The commission also upheld its fine of $550,000 against the network for Janet Jackson's now infamous Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction. The intent was to send a clear message that indecency will not be tolerated in prime time.
When Fontana refused to remove the shots in question, the network took it upon themselves to make that change, explaining "we have always been mindful of the FCC's indecency rules. While we believe the previous uncut version of "The Bedford Diaries" was in keeping with those rules, out of an abundance of caution, we decided to make some additional minor changes to the premiere episode."
FONTANA: This whole thing is about being negative and being afraid.
CHRISTOPHER LISOTTA, TELEVISION WEEK: People can complain about it as much as they want, but the reality is, is they have to exist in the world that the FCC is setting up for them.
VARGAS: Christopher Lisotta is a senior writer with "Television Week" magazine.
LISOTTA: The fact that they're becoming more aggressive about their oversight is something that the networks and studios are going to have to deal with, at least in the short term and probably for the long term.
VARGAS: In an unusual move, the WB has posted and is streaming the original version on "The Bedford Diaries" on its Web site, with these scenes intact, allowing viewers to see the episode as it was intended by the show's creators.
And while Fontana understands the network's decision to change the episode, he believes the impact is yet to be felt.
FONTANA: If this isn't a signpost that says this is potentially the way we're going to go, then I don't know what is. I mean, it should scare everybody in the business.
VARGAS: Sibila Vargas, CNN, Los Angeles.
ZAHN: Tom Fontana also says he doesn't know exactly how the WB changed the "Bedford Diaries." I guess he's just going to have to wait until tomorrow, like everyone else.
In just a few minutes on "LARRY KING LIVE," Naomi Judd on her battle with depression. Plus, country stars Martina McBride, Lee Ann Womack, and -- these pictures will catch up with me -- Travis Tritt. That's not Travis Tritt. You all know what he looks like. Well, you're going to see him a little bit later on.
First, though, number two on our cnn.com countdown. Our top story, the resignation of White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card. The move comes after weeks of Republican pressure for the president to shake up his White House staff. Card's replacement is budget director Josh Bolten.
Number one on our list on the other side of the break. Please stay with us.
ZAHN: Now, number one in our cnn.com countdown. A husband and wife rescued just last week, along with four relatives, after being snowbound in Oregon for 17 days. Well, now, Elbert and Becky Higginbotham have vanished again, this time with the law after them. Officials in Arizona say the two are wanted on drug charges.
That's it for all of us tonight. Really appreciate you dropping by. Tomorrow, proof, especially if you're a woman, that drinking and cameras don't mix. How would you feel if racy pictures of you drunk ended up all over the World Wide Web?
That's tomorrow night. Appreciate again your joining us tonight. Have a good night. "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.
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