tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN May 16, 2012 10:00pm-11:00pm EDT
we brought you our reports last week. and what we've discovered, well, it's going to outrage you. this group is called the disabled veterans national foundation. they have raised $56 million in the past three years. you'd think there are a lot of disaged veterans who they'd help directly. that's not what we found. one accuses them of stealing. out and out stealing. for months we tried to get them to answer our questions and you'd think they would want to, wouldn't you? you'd think they'd want to show exactly where the money has gone but they have slammed doors in our reporters' face and refused to answer questions. of that nearly $56 million, how much do you think has gone to directly help disabled veterans? 90%? 50%? we haven't found any of it that has gone to help disabled veterans directly. they do send stuff to some veterans groups, truckloads of stuff, stuff that they get for free. stuff that veterans groups we've talked to say they didn't want, they didn't ask for and they don't even need. here's what one veterans center
director told us. >> they sent us 2,600 bags of cough drops. and 2,200 little bottles of sanitizer. and the great thing they sent us was 11,520 bags of coconut m & ms. >> thousands of bags, more than 11,000 bags. we've reported on this group a couple of times the last few weeks and our drew griffin wanted to ask the president of this group about those coconut m & ms and the $56 million. here's what happened when he originally tracked her down. >> you're the one from cnn. >> reporter: meet precilla wilkewitz, president of the disabled veterans national foundation. we found at a small vfw office in baton rouge, louisiana. >> well, this is the veterans of foreign wars and i really didn't think you'd do something like this. we've agreed to talk to you -- answer your questions. >> reporter: nobody has agreed. so here is the question -- >> thank you so much. >> reporter: none of the money has gone to any veterans. >> again, they have raised $56 million. you would think they would want
to clarify exactly where that money went, right? well, drew discovered that that woman, precilla wilkewitz was scheduled to speak today at a veterans conference in sacramento. so drew went there hoping she might answer his questions. guess what, she cancelled her appearance but drew was able to find someone else from this organization, the vice president of the disabled veterans national foundation. but apparently she wasn't too happy to see us. drew joins me live now from sacramento. also with us is cnn's jeffrey toobin. drew, you tracked down this vice president of this group. did you get any idea of where all the money is going? >> reporter: i sure did, and i think the headline here, anderson, is if you gave money, if you donated money to the disabled veterans national foundation, like so many of our viewers tell us they did, and you thought the money was going to actual disabled vets, that is not what this board of directors thought when they started this campaign to raise money. and the first vice president
today, valerie conley, basically said she has no apologies for how that money was raised and where it went. >> i'm here asking actual questions from your donors and our viewers who want to know what happened to that $56 million that they thought they were giving to actual deserved veterans. >> well, the cost of fund-raising is high, as you know. and it has been for many veteran service organizations who use this kind of approach. >> reporter: what is the point of a fund-raiser when all of the funds go to your private fund-raising company. >> not all of the funds do. >> reporter: according to the documents we've seen filed by your organization, they all do, $56 million. >> well, i think you need to talk to our washington, d.c., office. >> reporter: quite frankly, i've been trying for two years to talk to them and haven't got any answers. that's why i had to resort to come this distance. >> well, i am a volunteer on the board, okay. >> reporter: are you concerned
about how this fund-raising drive has gone with your private fund-raiser? >> no, we have done nothing illegal. >> reporter: i know you have done nothing illegal, but have you done -- would you like to have more money going to the veterans? >> absolutely. there is money going to the veterans. we approve grants to individual veterans and veterans organizations on a monthly basis. >> reporter: i've seen no evidence of that other than some gifts in kind program. >> so, drew, help me out here, she's saying we've done nothing illegal and she claims money is going to veterans and veterans groups. have you been able to find any evidence of that? >> reporter: we have not. anderson, i want to reiterate, we have been asking for that specific information now from this very organization for two years. we have yet to see it. we are basing these reports on the tax filings they are required to file and from what we can tell, they are a
legitimate, registered, 501 c 3 in the eyes of the irs so perhaps it's true they're not doing anything illegal, but i can't imagine anybody who's donating to this group thinks that all their money should be going to a private fund-raising company and not any of it to the disabled vets. >> that's what you found is that this $56 million that they have raised over three years is just going back into more fund raising? >> reporter: it's actually going directly to a company named quadriga art, which we've been reporting, anderson, is one of the largest groups that helps support these fund-raising outfits, these charity outfits across the nation, across the world. 500 charities, quadriga boasts. they sent a statement saying, yeah, this is pretty much legit. let me read you, this was part of the campaign. the disabled veterans national foundation approached us with a unique mission that we believed in. they lacked a donor file and a name recognition and indicated
that they needed a significant and accelerated public awareness and education initiative. given the large number of wounded soldiers returning home amidst insufficient resources to support them. so they say given their objective, anderson, the client knowingly chose an aggressive direct mail strategy that resulted in an expected high cost in the beginning of the program. that program has been going on for three years. it's raised $56 million in private donations and as far as we can tell, all of that money went to pay for a mailing list. i brought that direct quote right to valerie conley, the vice president today, and she basically said yeah, that was the strategy. take a listen. >> reporter: as a board member, did you have any idea that the cost would be this high? $56 million would be paid for just to get a list of people? >> we did not know how fast this would take off and how well it would do.
>> reporter: how can you say how well it would do when the money is going to quadriga? >> when we first started this, we didn't know how fast it would take off. >> reporter: you're basically taking money that people want to go into veterans' pockets and giving it to a private company. >> it's worth it for every veteran that we can help. >> reporter: no matter what the cost? >> well, i put on women veterans conferences in my home state. and we spend several thousands of dollars and they are donated dollars, and my philosophy, my personal philosophy has always been that if we could help one veteran, then every dollar we spend is worth it. >> reporter: even if it's $56 million? >> well, i'm not going to answer that question. >> reporter: and she didn't answer any more questions. but basically $56 million raised from the public, they thought they were giving it to disabled vets, it went to this charity's ongoing mailing list and as far
as we can tell continues to fund the actual private fund-raiser, who is making money off of this. it's upside down according to every single charity watchdog group we've talked to, anderson. it makes no sense. >> they grade this group with like an "f." it's outrageous the woman can stand there and say if we can help one veteran. if they can only help one veteran with $56 million, that's pathetic. and i mean i think the people who have donated money would be shocked at that. >> reporter: and when the help is a bag of coconut m & ms, i think that's really shocking. as some people have told us, it's just disgusting. >> with $56 million you should be able to help a lot more than just one vet, if they have helped that. jeff toobin is here. he has the legal aspect of it. we have a google plus question. we've got a viewer, lauren bradshaw, asked are the dvnf's activities or lack thereof actually illegal or just horribly deceptive? >> you know, i think there's a clear answer to this, horribly
deceptive, not illegal. this is a weird little corner of the law frankly that i didn't know about. a number of states over the years have tried to regulate charities. this is not a new kind of behavior. these charities that basically raise money to support themselves and don't do any good. and what the supreme court has said in the series of cases is that raising money for a charity, a 501 c 3, is an act protected by the first amendment. so states that attempt to criminalize how much you use an administrative overhead are unconstitutional, they're violations of the first amendment. so every attempt to crack down criminally on these kind of operations has failed. and frankly the only answer seems to be is that donors have beware. they have to do their research and make sure these organizations are actually -- and there are these watchdog organizations that drew mentioned and you've got to go and see that they're decent.
>> when they're talking about a mailing list, that's a mailing list so they can raise more money down the road? >> reporter: that's all it is. it's a cycle of funding that per -- that pet pettuates on its own self. the idea is to get this mailing list so you continue to make more and more money down the road. what's unnerving, and i think we're going to have a follow-up report tomorrow, is another group that contracted with quadriga art saying they were basically deceived by this and they're not getting any payoff. that's what's happening here. by now this group should have had some kind of money in their bank account. they don't. it's all going to the private fund-raiser. and like jeffrey says, you know, the numbers all line up for the irs, so it's legal. >> and let's be clear, quadriga is making profits off of this. quadriga is a private company. you know, maybe these -- the woman you interviewed, she's a volunteer and the people who actually are involved with this group are sort of good-hearted, if empty-headed people who want to help veterans.
quadriga knows exactly what it's doing. it's making a ton of money, of profit, off of these contributions. >> it's also fascinating to hear that woman to say, a, she's a volunteer on the board and they didn't know it was going to take off. i mean the people -- that other woman that slammed the door in your face and has avoided your questions for two years, i mean they seem like not ready for primetime players. this quadriga, as jeff said, certainly seems to know what they're doing. these other folks, i mean maybe they are thinking they're doing some good, but $56 million they have raised and it's not going directly to veterans. it just boggles my mind. >> reporter: right. and i think jeffrey's point is correct. these are not -- these are not bad people that are slamming doors in our face, at least they don't appear to be. they have a long service record. they're involved with many volunteer groups. perhaps they got hoodwinked, duped, got into a contract they can't seem to get out of. quadriga art, they tell us that they're not making any money, though they will not talk to us
on camera and they won't show us any of their books. they are a private company. they're a huge company. and they draw up specific contracts which lock these fund-raising -- these charities for long periods of time, six years. and so i think maybe there's a little bit of problem between the company and some people who are not used to dealing in hard ball, fund-raising, for-profit enterprises. >> the flip side of that, though, is if you are a good person and care about disabled vets and are raising $56 million and you feel like it's not going to the right place, you have a duty to say it or resign. they're still slamming doors in your face, not answering questions, still raising money and defending this stuff, which again we'll keep reporting on it. drew griffin is working on this for two years. drew, appreciate it. jeff toobin as well. let us know what you think. we're on facebook and google plus. have you ever heard of anything like this? follow me on twitter. i've been tweeting about this. let me know what you think about it right now on twitter. if you're feeling debt ceiling deja vu, you are not
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in the white house today, president obama met with four top senate and house leaders and most of it focused on the debt ceiling increase. it's set to go to vote at the end of the year. familiar lines are already being drawn in the sand. >> when the time comes i will again insist. my simple principle of cuts and reforms greater than the debt limit increase. >> that was house speaker john boehner yesterday. his office says he delivered the same message today for president obama. there are conflicts reports about the president's response. boehner's office says he proposed a debt hike that does not include spending cuts but house democratic leader nancy pelosi said he talked about honoring the debt deal reached last year, which included spending cuts. white house spokesman jay carney said this. >> you have to ask the speaker of the house whether or not he intends or he believes that it is the right thing to do for the american people, the american economy to play chicken with the full faith and credit of the united states government. >> now, the only thing both sides could agree on today, and
this is maybe fitting, were the sandwiches the president brought to the lunch. that's him to going to a local deli to buy the hoagies. good sandwiches, good times, raw politics. joining me is ari fleischer and paul begala. boehner is saying the next cut has to have dollar for dollar cuts. but the budget office increases the debt by $5 trillion over ten years. why is that okay? >> right. well, you have to ask the speaker that. i think -- first, let me just say, john boehner's patriotic american, he's a good man, he's a good congressman. he leads his party ably. but what he is proposing is to purposefully damage our country, to take the full faith and credit of our nation to the brink. and they did this once and as you noted it hurt the country. it didn't just hurt the democrats or the republicans, it hurt a lot of middle class families and we should never do that again. the debt ceiling has been raised for 95 years. we used to not have a debt
ceiling and there's no real need to have it. it's a coon drivence that congress put in in 1917. but every time we've done it for 95 years until this past time, it's been done in a bipartisan way because no one has ever wanted to risk our full faith and credit because then you're really risking hurting the country. i hurt to see speaker boehner do that. it's clearly what he's doing and i have to say it looks like it's just politics. >> ari, is it just politics? >> anderson, i think it's a mixture. anything of this nature has a political element to it, you can't deny that. on the same token, who is going to try to do something about the debt. that's why this does become a showdown because washington for too long have never done anything about the debt. and you're right, paul ryan, the republican's budget with -- would increase the debt by $5 trillion over ten years. but president obama's budget, if he gets everything he's asked for would increase it by $10 trillion, twice the amount, taking us from $15 trillion in the hole to $25 trillion in the hole. so the question is why are politicians on both parties not
doing anything about it before the election. we have massive tax hikes going to hit. the payroll tax reduction gets taken away. we have massive sequestered across the board cuts coming to defense and health care providers and a debt ceiling that we face. why are they punting? isn't this what we elect them for, to judge them so we can vote them in or vote them out? >> since they're punting, doesn't that just make it that this is election year politics all the stronger and this is going to get negotiated after the election. they're now kind of rattling sabres? right now it's just about jockeying? >> i think so. as i say, i think that speaker boehner is a good person but i think what he is doing here is really dangerous. and it's really surprising to me because we went through this before. by the way, i will note and i will correct the record, ari said both parties do it. that's the false equivalency that pundits have to say. but that's falsehood. bill clinton, a democratic president with a democratic
house and a democratic senate passed through tax increases and spending cuts that put us on the path toward a balanced budget. the final deal was cut with a republican congress and democratic president. again, president clinton. you can do this, but it takes more revenue, we hope from the rich because they can afford it, and it takes spending cuts. but that's the obvious thing. for speaker boehner to say we're going to risk the full faith and credit of the united states, it's never something you should mess around with. >> anderson, here's the problem with the path we're on. if we don't do anything about our debt we're risking the full faith and credit of the united states. we can't go on having trillion dollar deficits. we do turn into greece. we have never had trillion dollar deficits until the last three years. and they don't end. that's the problem. you can blame it on george bush if you want but why do they continue the next ten years under the president's policies. and as paul looked into the past, i do have to remind you when barack obama was the united states senator, he opposed raising the debt limit. he called it unpatriotic to raise the debt limit. and now he wants to do it clean.
well, clean means we don't cut anything. you can't raise the debt limit and not cut spending. that's acquiescence. that's quitting and saying we get conquered by debt. >> ari makes one really important point. i agree one with one, disagree with one. senator obama did vote exactly the way ari said. he has said now that he regrets that, but that was, i suspect, political. it was certainly a mistake and ari is right and fair to point that out. when he talks about the path we're on and staying on it, again, i served president clinton. i saw how hard it was. we handed it off to bush and he squandered it. my republican friends don't have credibility talking about debt. i know ari cares about it and we worked together back on the hill back in the day when you were at the ways and means committee staff. so i know that you care about it. but you've got to say the path we're on, we got on because if we'd have stayed on the path president clinton and the democrats put us on, we would have zero national debt but we diverted from that path, mostly with tax cuts for the rich and wars we put on the national credit card, both which were passed and signed into law
by president bush. >> what happened in 2001 is we had an internet bubble that burst, an economy that was in decline already in 2000. george bush inherited that and inherited the recession and turned it around in 2003 and 2007 were robust years. we'd love to have that again today. but the problem is not what bill clinton did or george bush did, it's what barack obama is doing. he's our leader. we look to all of them in washington. we can't have a debt this high. >> but ari, you're saying the wars in iraq and afghanistan did nothing in terms of the debt? >> no, of course they did, anderson. here's another bigger issue too. every president has to deal with the issues that are on the plate in the era in which they serve. september 11th, 2001, everyone's response in this country was fight terrorism. nobody said we need to do something different on how to pay for the war in afghanistan. iraq was an arguable difference but nobody objected to it on a cost basis. there were other objections to it. that was the era of terrorism
and that's how it was fought. every generation then has another issue. barack obama's issue today is debt. it's his job to deal with it. just as it was george bush's job to deal with terrorism. that's the major issue we face today, and the republicans too. they have to face it as well. >> ari, paul, appreciate it. thanks. >> the defense rested in the john edwards trial today. no rielle hunter, no john edwards. did they rest because they didn't think the prosecution made a convincing case? details ahead.
last week i spoke with an attorney for the website who claimed police and child advocates who say closing shop is not the answer. we made some calls and found out that's not exactly true. we're keeping them honest next. d to your eyes, from the eye-care experts at bausch + lomb. as you age, eyes can lose vital nutrients. ocuvite helps replenish key eye nutrients. [ male announcer ] ocuvite has a unique formula not found in your multivitamin to help protect your eye health. now, that's a pill worth taking. [ male announcer ] ocuvite. help protect your eye health.
in crime and punishment, lawyers for john edwards rested their case today without calling their client to testify. also not called edwards' former mistress, rielle hunter or his daughter, cate. both sides are set for closing arguments tomorrow and the case could be in the jury's hands friday. if he's found guilty on all six counts, he faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine. i spoke to diane dimon who's been in the courtroom following the case. diane, a lot of people thought edwards might testify so the jury could hear directly from him. he's obviously got experience winning over juries. any idea why that didn't happen? >> well, i can only imagine that his attorney said no way, jose. if he had taken the stand, anderson, he would have been open to all sorts of cross examination. you know, about his wife, about his mistress, about the time he was caught at the beverly hills hotel visiting the mistress and his infant daughter. it would have probably done more harm than good and i think they probably convinced him of that.
>> there had been talk also of his daughter being called, cate, or even rielle hunter to testify. >> yeah, you know, we got a big tease yesterday. abby lowell, i wrote in the daily beast, he didn't quite know what to say when the judge asked him who are your witnesses going to be. so he got up and said maybe cate, maybe the defendant, maybe rielle hunter, and we all went crazy. in the end, none of those three were called. i was a little surprised about cate not being called. she looked all dressed up yesterday and ready to go. they didn't call her. so i thought today's the day. she didn't even show up in court, anderson. so something happened there. perhaps it was john edwards himself thinking, you know what, i've done enough damage here, i don't want to put my 30-year-old daughter through this too. >> what do you make of his defense overall, how they did? >> well, you know, they may have thought that seven witnesses over two days and a little smidge today was enough, because
the prosecution didn't prove their case. but i was surprised that they did not put on more witnesses, especially a friend of john edwards named david kirby. this is an attorney who had dealings with andrew young and they sort of set it up during the trial that he was going to come here and say andrew young was full of beans. well, david kirby never showed up here at all. so, again, maybe they thought the prosecution did not prove its case and, i'll tell you, the prosecution has a very high bar to cross here. they have to prove after all is said and done that john edwards knowingly and willfully broke the campaign finance law. now, you know, they have to prove that he knew what the law was and that, oh, well, i'm going to go ahead and break it anyway. that's pretty tough to prove. >> the jury might get the case by friday. do you -- what's your sense, do you think -- have they been watching attentively? do you think this is going to be a long deliberation? >> you know, i do think it's not going to be a short deliberation, because there's a lot of layers here for them to
decide. there was the affair they're going to have to sift through. that doesn't really have anything to do with campaign contributions except that all that money that came to hide the affair. there's so many different layers here, i think that they will take their time. >> interesting. diane dimond, appreciate it, thanks. >> you bet. coming up, calls for backpage.com to shut down its adult services section amid accusations that it contains ads for underage girls and victims of sex trafficking. a lawyer for the site tells me it actually works with law enforcement to track down child sex traffickers. they say they're part of the solution. law enforcement and child advocates say that's just not true. we're keeping them honest next. c'mon dad!
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anti-sex trafficking groups for backpage to shut down its adult services section, the section where authorities say underage girls are sometimes sold for sex. last week i spoke with a lawyer for backpage who said the site is not a prostitution site and does not encourage illegal activity. they say it works hard with law enforcement to identify and track down child sex traffickers. the country's 51 attorneys general, however, are calling for backpage adult section to be shut down. they say time and time again they have seen kids trafficked by pimps on backpage. here's some of the reporting done by our own deb feyerick. >> when we get a case involving the trafficking or prostitution, usually the story is going to start on backpage.com. >> the daughter i know is a kid that likes to color. >> reporter: for dawn, that's exactly where the story took her 15-year-old girl, a child who apparently ran away with a man who seduced her online. within days that man had posted pictures of the child on
backpage.com, selling the girl into prostitution. allegations detailed in a criminal complaint. >> he officially took her and beat her into submission to raping her and then held her into prostitution. it totally, totally crushed me to know that somebody actually did this to her. >> reporter: the accused pimp in that case has pleaded not guilty, pending trial. it's one of more than 50 cases in 22 states of people charged with advertising underaged girls for sex on backpage.com. >> last week i spoke with liz mcdougal an attorney for village voice media which owns backpage.com. she said the attorneys general are just pounding their chest. >> talk to the people who really know how the internet works and what's going on on the ground and they don't agree. talk to dana boyd at harvard from the berkman institute on internet and society.
talk to david finkelhore at the university of new hampshire. talk to dr. mark latinero who is heading research on human trafficking and technology. there are a multitude of academics out there who are saying as well as the vice cops on the ground, this is not the answer. >> talking about shutting down the adult services section. she says it's not the answer. it took us a couple of days but we did talk to the people she suggested would back up her argument that shutting the site down wasn't the answer. the first one she mentioned didn't want to comment. the second, david finkelhore, the director of the crimes against the children research center in the university of new hampshire did talk to us. he said, quote, they seem to be doing a very poor job of policing their site and i think it would help the situation if backpage were to shut down. she also mentioned dr. mark latinero as someone who would back up her contention if backpage shut down the ads would be pushed further underground. to sites that wouldn't cooperate with law enforcement. he told us, maybe that's true,
but maybe it isn't. he said there's simply not enough credible data to predict at this point. liz mcdoougal also claimed they want to be the sheriffs of the internet. that's the term she uses. i said how come the real sheriffs, the states' attorneys general want it shut down. here's what she said. >> if you talk to the vice officers on the ground, and i provided a list of those officers to your producer to talk to, they say just the opposite. they say that backpage is the most cooperative and one of the most valuable tools they have. >> keeping them honest, though, that's not really what police officers told us, not by a long shot. from new york, quote, the nypd does not agree with the village voice media lawyer. the village voice and its ads are part of the problem. the village voice is making a buck at the expense of exploiting women. from las vegas, the police department there, quote, nothing that in any way promotes criminal activity and trafficking of underage individuals is supported by this or any other law enforcement organization. to say that we want these sites up so we can track them is a misstatement.
from los angeles from the lapd, quote, i have never received a call from backpage.com indicating that there are suspicious ads. now, to be fair, the law enforcement officer that mcdougal gave us contact information for in san francisco did back up a lot of what she had to say, but even he, speaking for himself and not on behalf of the police department on a whole, suggested that backpage should donate the tens of millions of dollars they make on adult services ads each year. quote, if it's not about money and just about law enforcement, then take your money and give it to groups that support victims of human trafficking and you'll have a clear conscience. so let's just talk about the money that backpage is making. more than $2.5 million in ad revenues in the month of march alone. according to a group called aim. that's a conservative estimate. liz mcdougal said it's not about money. that was her line when we walked about why backpage isn't verifying the ages of the people who are advertised on the site. why not make the people go to a local backpage office in person and show an i.d.? here's what she said. >> money is not the issue.
the issue is who how do -- the issue is how do you functionally implement this? >> unless the person comes directly in and you have to show an i.d. >> right. which if you have any knowledge and understanding of how the internet works is a practical impossibility in the internet realm. >> do you know when you'll be able to decide whether or not you can do that, physical verification. >> it's a matter of exploring and programming and collaboration with other online service providers, other technology providers, with law enforcement. >> so what about that idea of actually having a physical office in various locations that someone has to come show an i.d.? we'll let law enforcement have the last word on that. this from the lapd. quote, i would certainly support the idea of offices set up to verify someone's age. if we can do anything to rescue and save our children from getting caught up in sexual exploitation, we should do it. backpage.com says one of its biggest allies is the national center for missing and exploited children, but it turns out the head of that organization, ernie allen, is actually one of its biggest critics also. he wants backpage to remove the adult services section. i spoke with him and with nick kristoff who's done a lot of
reporting on this issue. ernie liz mcdougal often cites your organization as someone backpage works with and she says they're part of the solution and not part of the problem. to that you say what? >> yes, they have been working with us as have 900 other internet companies. we are the central repository of reports for child sexual exploitation in this country. and we commend their reporting. but reporting and screening is not a panacea and not a solution to the problem. our goal is to end the sexual trafficking of children, not simply to create reports. >> they portray themselves as the sheriffs of the internet and that they're all about, you know, stopping illegal activity. do you buy that? >> i don't. what is happening is that the internet has become the primary resource, the information clearinghouse for the purchase of children for sex and for illegal prostitution. we've got to do more, and the reality is what law enforcement
is telling us, is that these leads aren't terribly useful in most cases. because the pimps are smart and they don't always post the photo of the person who shows up at the hotel room, or they don't post photos at all, or there's misleading information. these are very difficult cases for law enforcement to work. >> so while shutting down backpage.com would not end child trafficking and no one is making that argument, do you think it would be a step in the right direction? >> i certainly do. we worked for two years with craigslist in the same way. they reported to us aggressively. they screened and monitored. after two years, they concluded that it wasn't working and that they needed to do something else. one of the challenges with sites like craigslist and backpage is they're so multi-faceted. it's a site where you can look at a job ad, you can sell your used car, you can buy a toaster and also you can buy a kid for sex. >> and you think that in a way normalizes the illegal activity?
>> i don't think there's any question that it not only normalizes it, but facilitates it. >> nick, what backpage.com, their attorneys say, look, if we shut down, these customers are just going to gravitate to shadier areas of the internet, offshore, foreign countries that aren't even reporting to a group like ernie's. >> and there will be those who do. i mean there is going to be some migration. but if you're talking about bank robbers, you don't say there's no point in arresting these bank robbers because there will be others that take their place. in the case of backpage with 81% of the market for prostitution advertising, it would make a vast difference. sure, there will be some who find others but it would make a huge dent in the business. >> do you agree, ernie, some customers well not track down other more specific sites? >> well, i think it was proven by the decision that craigslist made. the volume of ads dropped dramatically when craigslist
shut down its adult ads. some of that migrated to backpage, but much of it hasn't. >> i think a lot of people, and i was surprised to hear this, ernie, because backpage says, look, we report to your organization. we send the information and photos. but i was surprised to learn they don't actually take down the ads of people they believe might be children. >> much of that is because law enforcement wants the ads to stay up so that they can investigate them and try to develop the nexus with the purchasers. but one of the real challenges with these ads, and reporting the ads, you know, we handle 326,000 reports last year, most of them for child pornography. when we get an ad -- or we get a report with a child pornography image, that's contraband. that's illegal in and of itself. so when we send that to law enforcement, they can act immediately. when we send an ad with a picture of somebody who may or may not be the person being advertised, who may or may not be a kid, who may or may not be
engaged in broader kinds of illegal activities, what's law enforcement supposed to do with that? and it's frustrating to law enforcement. >> so the sheer volume of stuff they're sending you is not indicative of stuff that's actually being helpful, some of is it too much. >> some of is it not helpful, some of it is. some has led to prosecutions. but our goal is not just three or four successful prosecutions, it's ending the problem. >> you also make the point just because somebody is 18 years old doesn't mean they haven't been trafficked for years before that. >> not only does it not mean that they haven't been trafficked for years before that, but by the accident of their birth, it suddenly doesn't make their behavior voluntary and consensual. we believe they're 18 and 19 and 20-year-olds and probably older who are being trafficked, who are being victimized, who are not engaging in this in a willful, intentional way. >> nick, you call for advertisers to pull out of advertising with village voice media. many have.
starbucks, best buy, ikea. some of the big advertisers. do you think that's the solution? >> it's painful as a journalist to suggest advertisers drop advertising. village voice has done some great reporting more recently. but at the end of the day you can't fund great reporting by advertisements for underage girls being sold for sex. >> nick kristof, i appreciate it. ernie allen, thank you very much. >> thank you. we invited backpage attorney, liz mcdougal to come on the program again. we didn't hear back until less than an hour before the show started. it didn't work out tonight. our invitation stands and we'll have her on tomorrow if she agrees to come on the program. in a southern state, the fear on the roadways, the search is on for a man who may be posing as a cop an killing drivers. the latest on the investigation next. (female announcer) most life insurance companies look at you and just see a policy.
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i'm isha sesay with a 360 bulletin. six u.n. observers stranded overnight, following a bomb blast in syria have made their way to safety. this video purportedly shows the bomb hitting their convoy yesterday, damaging three vehicles. no u.n. personnel were hurt. human rights group reported at least 15 people died in violence across syria today.
mississippi authorities believe a man may have been killed by a man posing as police officer. and a chicago man is wanted for murder after his new bride was found dead in her bath tub days after their wedding. cabrera was still wearing the dress she wore to celebrate their marriage. president obama awarded a medal of honor to a vietnam veteran posthumously. his widow accepted the medal. and this sunday a rare solar eclipse will be visible over the western u.s. and asia. thes astronomers warn against looking directly at the eclipse. the teachers at the abby kelly high school are using a
video to prove they're the class clowns. you better watch your back, take a look. ♪ ♪ i wanna feel the heat with somebody ♪ ♪ yeah, i want to dance with somebody ♪ ♪ with somebody >> i don't know what's going on there. i don't understand it. >> on the kids are being asked to, you know, talk about the favorite memories from the school. >> they don't realize the teachers are in the background. >> they don't realize the teachers are buzzing some moves. >> that's funny. >> i thought it was pretty cool. >> all right. the ridiculist is next. it's a medication i could take and still smoke, while it built up in my system. [ male announcer ] along with support, chantix is proven to help people quit smoking. it reduces the urge to smoke. some people had changes in behavior, thinking or mood, hostility, agitation, depressed mood and suicidal thoughts or actions while taking or after stopping chantix. if you notice any of these, stop taking chantix and call your doctor right away. tell your doctor about any history of depression
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time for the ridiculist. tonight we're adding the folks behind a line of sneakers called skechers shape-ups. according to the federal trade commission, skechers has been acting a little sketchy. the ftc said the company agreed to pay a whopping $40 million fine to settle complaints about the sneaker line, specifically unfounded claims that shape-ups would help people lose weight and strengthen and tone their buttocks. when it came to buttocks, skechers reached for the stars. >> i don't really know how to say this, other than to just say it. you're amazing. the best i've ever had. >> i'm sorry, i think that's the beginning of the kim kardashian sex tape, isn't it? no, it's not? oh, that's the ad she did for sketchers? all right, fine.
let's take another look. >> but things just aren't working out. well, that's not completely true. i am working out. it's not someone else, it's something else. bye-bye, trainer. hello, shape-ups. nice shoes. so kim kardashian did an ad for skechers shape-ups but the company cannot back up the implication that by wearing the sneakers you build up the best buns. the company also did ads with "dancing with the stars" co-host brooke burke. >> the newest move in fitness is tying your shoe laces. because once my skechers shape-ups are on snug and comfy, i'm strengthening my core, burning calories. why? because shape-ups really work. >> according to the government watchdogs, not so much actually. now, before brooke burke sends that cranky british judge to yell at me or i get an angry call from kris jenner, the
complaint is not against the spokes people, it's against the company. it's not even a court ruling or an admission on wrongdoing. i'm no expert but if you're trying to sell a product, how about a little demonstration of the end result. >> glh means great-looking hair. just spray it on and it instantly covers your bald spot, leaving you with great-looking hair. >> that's what i'm talking about. i don't care who you get to sell your sneakers, it's going to take more than kim kardashian to top what we can agree is the most talked about ad. ladies and gentlemen, the shake weight. >> this is not a workout, this is a revolution. this is shake weight for men, and it's going to kick your butt. >> the shake weight. as for skechers shape-up, the federal trade commission has spoken and we heard them loud and clear on the ridiculist. that's it for us. "erin burnett outfront" starts right now.