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Bloomberg Slams Lack Of Tolerance On Campuses; Measles Cases Reported In 18 States; Spelling Bee Crowns Two Winners

Aired May 30, 2014 - 07:30   ET


JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Will the ball fair (ph) on this one that it will be seen as not a credible line of investigation, even if with this coming out.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Even if there are valid questions.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I think she's betting on the fact that she thinks there are no minds left to change on Benghazi at this point. They can yell about it, both sides, however much they want, but you're not going to change the middle by 2016, swing voters.

AVLON: The best way to reach the middle is to say I'm going to be above politics.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: I get your point. I'm with J.B. except for this. We're in the age of accountability in the political dialogue right now. With Shinseki has got to go, Holder has got to go. That's your party's line right now, Margaret. If that becomes part of the political narrative this quote may be relevant.

She reiterates a point she made during congressional testimony. She says, I never saw the cables requesting additional security. It was a procedural quirk given her position, didn't land on her desk. It's not how it works. It shouldn't and it didn't. Will that be good enough in the age of accountability? Is that a legitimate angle of attack?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: In the age of accountability she also said I take full responsibility for what happened in Benghazi. But she didn't see the cables. Where is the responsibility? There is the sort of responsibility falling on deaf ears. You can take responsibility for it, but who has been fired? I mean, there are four Americans who died. The president's ambassador and representative in that country was killed.

BOLDUAN: For Republicans aren't you speaking to an echo chamber?

AVLON: Yes, and it's an echo chamber of people deeply invested in this, but as a result it alienates the moderate majority of Americans who look at this and just see Washington trying to politicize a tragedy and that is something people --

HOOVER: I regret that you're actually true and I don't think that -- you're correct. I don't know that there is a different approach. I think it's become so much a part of the echo chamber. I think Hillary Clinton hopes this will suffice because it's become such a political --

CUOMO: So look, what's the headline coming out of this? She's basically holding strong with where she was and hoping that this gets dismissed as politics. We'll have to see which way it goes.

BOLDUAN: Easier said than done.

CUOMO: Always is. Something that's percolating right now, Bloomberg shows up at Harvard. As if you need another reason not to like Harvard University.

BOLDUAN: There's a man who certainly went to Yale.

CUOMO: He lays into them for the lefty establishment that they are fundamentally. Here is the first bite about how they repressing tolerance. Take a listen.


MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: We cannot deny others the rights and privileges that we demand for ourselves and that is true in cities and it is no less true at universities where the forces of repression appear to be stronger now, I think, than they have been at any time since the 1950s.


CUOMO: The forces of repression at Harvard University. Why is the former mayor saying this and is he right, John?

BOLDUAN: This is manna from heaven for conservatives.

HOOVER: This is -- it's extraordinary. He points out something that conservatives have known by the way to be true since the 1950s when Buckley wrote "God and Man at Yale." This is not a new aberration. The fact that liberals control college campuses. What's interesting is that a leading liberal in the country is calling it out. And that's actually refreshing. When he says 96 percent of college --

CUOMO: You're saying Bloomberg is a liberal?

HOOVER: Yes. I think he self identifies more with the center left than with the conservative movement. Let me just say when he says 96 percent of university professors donate to Democrats, I say this as an Obama Democrat, how are you going to get a diversity of thinking and fresh thoughts on a college campus. It's fair to point out the liberal tendencies at liberal arts colleges.

AVLON: Look, we all know this is about a larger trend. There is a p.c. liberalism that tries to shout down descending voices on college campuses. Fine. Problem is hypocrisy of people on the right and ignore what Bloomberg points out, which is, for example, the attempt to block the Ground Zero mosque. You can put principle ahead of partisanship and ideology. He calls out both sides. He's right on this one.

BOLDUAN: This sound bite I found interesting. I want to get your guys' take on it. This one on McCarthyism.



BLOOMBERG: There is an idea floating around college campuses including here at Harvard, I think, that scholars should be funded only if their work conforms to a particular view of justice. There's a word for that idea. Censorship. It is just a modern form of McCarthyism.


BOLDUAN: Does he have a point?

HOOVER: Well, look, he's speaking very directly to -- what was interesting is the woman who is disinvited from having honorary degree from Brandeis University is a professor at Harvard and her husband is one of the only tenured professors at Harvard, Neil Ferguson, who is conservative. Yes. This is true. To call it McCarthyism. It's a -- it is something very different from ideologically shutting people out and silencing people who don't agree with you.

CUOMO: Do you think they saw this speech before he gave it?

HOOVER: Heck no. No way.

BERMAN: Speaking on behalf of someone who did not attend the graduation speech at my graduation I can tell you I think Harvard likes these homes that get publicity, which creates this discussion. This is happening in the wake of all the graduations speakers backing out or being pushed out by student bodies who decide they don't want to hear different points of views.

CUOMO: Harvard is making the opposite point of Bloomberg by letting him speak in the first place and inviting the criticism.

BERMAN: Always a step smarter at Harvard.

BOLDUAN: Let me ask you this. This could go on for days and weeks to come obviously.

CUOMO: We're connecting to mainstream America on that one.

BOLDUAN: Do we put too much on commencement speech? I read a great piece in "Politico" about like why do we even have commencement addresses anymore?

HOOVER: Wisdom on a departing student body that may or may not have learned anything anyway.

BOLDUAN: The platitudes that are going to be offered up because they generally hit on the same things every time. AVLON: They do but this is actually one that hits the issue of the times. This cycle we did see a lot of folks either be forced out or pulled back because of threatened protests. It's an important statement about the true nature of liberalism, which is supposed to be about tolerating descending voices and we're not seeing that on college campuses enough.

BOLDUAN: But is there a middle ground. You're going to silence the speaker or silence the student body.

AVLON: There is a middle ground. That's what Bloomberg was trying to get to. The problem is there is this intolerance. When people approach arguments from an ideological perspective they want to shout down evidence that doesn't back them up. It's epidemic in Congress and it's polluting our campuses.

CUOMO: Well said. You should give a commencement address.

HOOVER: I think that the impulses in Congress are different than liberalized colleges. The political partisanship is a very different thing than silencing your ideological opposition in college campuses. I just -- impulses are different.

AVLON: Agree to disagree.

BOLDUAN: There we go. Thanks, guys. Great.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, measles hitting a 20-year high with more than half of the cases among adults. Now federal officials are warning it may be due to a resistance to vaccines. Are you at risk?

CUOMO: And how do you spell history? A tie at the spelling bee. Both are winners. Everybody is a winner, the new generation. Millennials never lose.


BOLDUAN: This morning the CDC is warning of a dangerous surge in a disease once essentially eliminated from the United States. Measles on the rise again with 288 cases reported this year. The highest number since the year 2000. More than half of those cases are among adults and almost all are linked to travel overseas.

Let's discuss what this means, what you really should be concerned about with Dr. William Schaffner, the chairman of Preventative Medicine at Vanderbilt Medical Center. Dr. Schaffner, it's great to see you again.


BOLDUAN: As I was just saying, over the past 20 years, with public education campaigns, really done a good job, there's been such a concerted effort to essentially eliminate and eradicate measles and now this surge. Why? SCHAFFNER: Well, the reason is very simple. Lots of children are not vaccinated and then when they go abroad, they're exposed to measles, bring it home and then it spreads along like-minded people after that return to the United States. As you say, the whole age spectrum can be effected. All the way from infants to some adults. So this is a new problem and the answer is we've got to vaccinate our children. And if you go abroad, check with your doctor first to make sure that your measles protection is up to date.

BOLDUAN: Now Doctor, the decision to vaccinate or not has been one of quite a bit of debate over the years for parents of young children. And parents fall on both sides of this issue very squarely. But from your perspective, when you look at kind of the public risk, not just for one child, but the public risk of measles, is there any valid medical reason to not be vaccinated?

SCHAFFNER: There is no reason not to vaccinate your child. It's important for that child safety. It's important for the whole community. The vaccines are safe. They are effective. Talk to your family doctor. Talk to your pediatrician and get your child vaccinated so that measles will not be reintroduced into the United States and spread. It's a serious disease, 15 percent of these people who have had measles have been hospitalized.

BOLDUAN: I'm also seeing, talking about this statistics, of this year's measles cases, more than 50 percent of the cases are adults that are 20 years old or older, which to me on the surface is a little bit surprising because we're not talking about those high-risk groups that we often do when we talk about the flu and other diseases, the young and the old. Why adults 20 years and older, why are they getting hit so hard?

SCHAFFNER: Well, some of them simply have an uncertain measles vaccination history and that's why if you're traveling abroad and you can't document what happened in the past, you'll get a measles vaccine before you travel abroad, be protected and then you won't also bring measles back into the United States.

BOLDUAN: Doctor, really kind of bottom line, how big of a problem do you think this is? Is this going to be one year when you believe there's going to be an uptick or do you think that this is going to be an ongoing major problem and the public education campaigns are going to have to start all over again in 20 years of efforts to eradicate this disease are going to be all for not?

SCHAFFNER: It will be continuing for a while because there are millions of cases of measles that still occur around the world. We are a small, small globe. Travel is between the developing world and us all the time. And so there will be continuing threats to bring measles back into not only the United States, but the entire western hemisphere, which is essentially measles free except for importations. So we will have to remain alert. All the more important, keep vaccinating children. Make sure that all of us are protected.

BOLDUAN: Especially when it is so contagious. Vaccination really is the only way to go. Dr. William Schaffner, it's always great to see you. Thank you so much.

SCHAFFNER: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Of course -- Chris.

CUOMO: Important message there, Kate.

Let's take a quick break. Coming up on NEW DAY, a Spelling bee double take, not one winner but two this year. We're going to speak with the co-champions of the Scripps National Spelling Bee live and explain how that happened in the first place.

And this Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN, Mr. Tony Bourdain gets a taste of Thailand in this week's "PARTS UNKNOWN." You have to see what he decides to sink his teeth into. Take a look.


ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN HOST, "PARTS UNKNOWN": This show is about food, food, delicious food, food like this. Here's the thing. You're eating food here, sort of unrecognizable. Frogs with garlic. That's one of the many stomachs of a cow, pig's brain. Unrecognizable, scorchingly hot, or both. Whoa, that's hot. Whew. And often the ugliest dishes are the ones most hauntingly delicious.


BOURDAIN: I'm eating out of an open wound. That's utterly delicious. This is a ferociously addicting country.



BERMAN: Indeed, they are the champions. How do you spell co- champions? For the first time in more than 50 years the Scripps National Spelling Bee has crowned two winners, 13-year-old Ansun Sujoe and 14-year-old Sriram Hathwar, they got a tie after nearly exhausting the 25-word championship list. They beat English. Take a look at their winning moments.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stichomythia, s-t-i-c-h-o-m-y-t-h-i-a, stichomythia.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: However you say it, just spell it.

SUJOE: F-e-u-i-l-l-e-t-o-n?



BERMAN: I do not believe these words actually exist. This is only the fourth time in the Spelling Bee's 89-year history that two people have won. Ansun and Sriram join us now. Gentlemen, let me say, congratulations to you both. What a feeling this must be.

Ansun, let me start with you. I have to say, I'm sure, even though you were splitting the prize it is not half as awesome, it is still completely awesome.

They're already sharing the spotlight here. Getting the hang of it. Ansun, how does it feel to be a co-winner?

SUJOE: It feels pretty good because not only do I get the victory, but I get to share it with something else, so it means a lot to me.

BERMAN: Sriram, you said something interesting after the competition last night. You said you weren't competing against anybody. You were competing against the dictionary.


BERMAN: It seemed to me by watching the dictionary played dirty, frankly.

HATHWAR: Yes, I mean, the English language is pretty brutal. It borrows so many words from different languages, that's pretty much why the spelling bee is there, so we can be more aware of all the different cultures and languages that have been incorporated into the English language. It was really just a competition against the dictionary, not against Ansun or any of the other competitors.

BOLDUAN: You are much nicer than the three of us on this couch, I'll tell you that much. Ansun, I can probably already answer my question. Ansun, would you have liked to have gone off the books, gone to some other list, not on the competition's list to try to finally fight it out and have one champ?

SUJOE: I'm not really sure about that, but I would have probably lost in that effort.


SUJOE: I'm not really sure.

CUOMO: So what are you going to do? Between the two of you, you're going to have to figure out a way to decide who is better. Is there any kind of other competition you're thinking about where you kind of meet in an alley or some predetermined pizzeria and have it out just for your own sake, mano-a-mano at some point?

SUJOE: We're both pretty satisfied with our performances yesterday. I don't think it's quite necessary to meet there or any other place. I think we both equally had an opportunity to get the trophy and we're both happy with that. BERMAN: Sriram, you're much nicer than Chris Cuomo. I've always been curious. After the spelling bee, after you win, are you going to bother not to spell anything the rest of your life? I've done all the spelling I'm going to do ever, and the rest I just don't care about?

HATHWAR: I wouldn't say that's completely true. The vocabulary and everything will take me far. That's pretty much the purpose of doing spelling, because getting exposed to so many words like in medicine and law can help me in any career I pursue. I guess the spelling part might go down a little bit, but the vocabulary definitely, languages, culture, meeting new people, that's still a huge part of my life.

BOLDUAN: How much, Ansun, would you say -- how many of these words do you actually know the meaning of? You can always ask for a definition, but I know you're a genius speller, but are you guys both actual all-around geniuses, you know all these words like stichomythia?

SUJOE: Quite so, especially the spelling part. Sometimes the vocabulary don't really know the definitions. For spelling I knew most of them.

BOLDUAN: All right, so it makes me feel a little bit better. I'll take that.

BERMAN: We are so happy for both of you. Congratulations. I think it's the most brutal competition in the world. I'm always astounded that you make it out alive. So well done to the both of you.

CUOMO: Rocky and Apollo creed needed to know who won the fight. At some point --

BOLDUAN: No. It's wonderful to be satisfied to share this winning. Congratulations, guys.

CUOMO: You can see it in their eyes, there's a tension it will build. We will be there.

BOLDUAN: They're now wondering who's Rocky?

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, the Sterling era may soon be over for the L.A. Clippers. We'll tell you who just signed a $2 billion deal to take over the team.

BOLDUAN: Also VA Secretary Eric Shinseki is expected to address veterans in just about a half hour from now. Will he be speaking to the scandal that is embroiling his department?


BOLDUAN: Good morning. Welcome once again to NEW DAY. It's Friday, May 30th. It's 8:00 in the east. John Berman is still with us. Chris Cuomo had to cut out a little early today. Let's continue.