tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN May 18, 2012 4:00am-5:00am EDT
in the case, witness statements, medical record, pictures and video released this evening. we are still going through the evidence. here's what we found so far. video of trayvon martin's last moments live. this is surveillance video from the convenience store where martin bought candy and a drink just before he was shot to death by zimmerman. iced tea. the newly released autopsy report says he died from a gunshot wound to the chest. "fired at intermediate range." we'll talk about what that may mean in a moment. toxicology tests found thc in martin's system, indicating marijuana use. the autopsy report lists the manner of death as homicide. zimmerman's charge was second-degree murder. he says he shot martin in self-defense telling police that martin assaulted him and his head was hit on the pavement. tonight, new photos of zimmerman from after the incident and a fire department report said he had abrasions to the forehead. these are new pictures we're seeing. bleeding and tenderness to his nose. and a small laceration to the back of his head when he was treated at the scene. also just released a sanford police report called a capias, a request for charges to be filed.
that report says in part, "the encounter between the george zimmerman and trayvon martin was ultimately avoidable by zimmerman if he had remained in his vehicle and awaited the arrival of law enforcement or if he identified himself to martin as a concerned citizen and initiated dialogue in an effort to dispel each party's concern. there's no indication that trayvon martin was involved in any criminal activity at the time of the encounter." also in this newly released evidence, and again, this was just released from the last couple of hours a report from the fbi which analyzed that call that zimmerman made to 911. now, there are questions about whether zimmerman used a racial slur in that call. the fbi could not determine according to the documents what the word in question was because the recording quality wasn't good enough, according to this report. so there's a lot to talk about time tonight. martin savidge joins us live. you've been covering this case since the beginning. you're still sifting through the documents as we all are. what jumps out to you? >> you were stalk the 911 calls. this is something the fbi was
given the task of trying to review. remember, the fbi, from the federal point of view is trying to determine if there was an indication of a hate crime here. this goes back to what was the term that george zimmerman used when he was on the phone to police that night? of course, much has been made about f'ing coon which is what many people thought they heard, the racial slur being used, which would somehow taint and give the impression maybe george zimmerman was acting just beyond the capacity and more than just a neighborhood watch person. the fbi analyzed that, went over and over it and basically, as you say, they came out and said they couldn't determine what was said due to the poor quality and the nature of the recording and because of other interference that was heard on the telephone. okay. moving on. then the next part of the 911 call, these are the calls coming in from people in the complex reporting there was an altercation. remember, that huge controversy about someone was heard quite clearly, pleading for help. who was that person? well, trayvon martin's family says it was their son. george zimmerman's family says, no, it was george zimmerman. again, the fbi tried to listen.
there were many voices on the tape at that time. there was a caller on the phone overlapping the background noise. again, due to poor quality and other issues they couldn't determine. they point out that stress levels play into it. both voices could have been overstressed, thereby they can't tell who it is. >> what else jumped out at you? >> i think what was very interesting in the capis as there. as far as what sanford police determined. all along sanford police have maintained this was an issue where george zimmerman was working and acting appropriately. we want to show you the pictures here of george zimmerman's hands because much has been made of a fight. trayvon martin's hands -- left hand, fourth finger did have a cut. these are george zimmerman's hands. totally clean. no appearance of that he was duking it out with anyone. so, you know, you've got the autopsy report that shows something on trayvon martin. you have this that shows george zimmerman and then you have the sanford police report that says, all of this could have been
avoid tuesday george zimmerman had stayed in his car. you can bet the prosecution will make much of that. >> martin savidge, thank you. joining me is mark geragos and cnn legal analyst and former federal prosecutor sunny hostin and larry kobe alinsky. from the john jay college of criminal justice. sunny, as a former prosecutor from all of the evidence that you have seen, what really jumps out at you? >> you know, i don't think what the evidence is inconsistent at all, anderson, with the prosecutor's affidavit. the prosecutor made it clear in the affidavit that the theory of this case is that george zimmerman pursued trayvon martin, confronted trayvon martin and some sort of confrontation ensued. so i still think that the -- that all of these other issues that are being talked about today, like the marijuana in trayvon martin's blood, those are nonissues. the real issue here is still who started this confrontation? if you look at what the sanford police department wrote, they believed that this could have been avoided had george zimmerman not gotten out of his car and set this ball in motion. >> is that a big deal to you, the fact that the police report
said the encounter could have been avoided if zimmerman had stayed in his car? >> no. in fact, that's probably never going to come into evidence. that's an argument, that isn't evidence. the problem with everything that was just released today is that it seems to undercut much of what was in that affidavit -- that probable cause affidavit who was thin to begin with. this document dump and obviously i haven't been through it, you haven't been through it yet, but what's been reported so far certainly does not help the prosecution. >> what about pot found in trayvon martin's system? do you think that will enter into the trial? >> no, i don't think that's going of the of any great moment. most judges -- even though it's in the ether so to speak, now being reported everywhere, most judges wouldn't let that in. because that's not something -- it's not like it's methamphetamine or some other kind of a drug or pcp or something like that. thc in a -- they have so much trouble determining what -- at what levels you're under the influence to begin with that i
don't think that that's of any great moment. i think what is of significance here are the injuries or lack of injuries on both parties, and where those injuries are. and those things are going to be telling and this idea that somehow some cop wrote that this all could have been avoided if somebody sat in the car, that is not evidence. that's a cop opining on something and frankly, most judges would not let that into evidence. >> larry, let's talk about forensics because this is first time we're starting to look and see some actual forensic evidence and bullet trajectory and the distance. according to the report, martin was shot from an intermediate range, the bullet passed through the right ventricle of his heart, the lower lobe of his lung, that's a picture of the gun. what does that tell us? >> it tells us that it was horizontal, straight front to back. it's very consistent with the positioning of the gun and there was one entrance wound. no exit wound.
the bullet ended up in the sac surrounding the heart. >> does it surprise you there wasn't an exit wound? >> no, not necessarily. sometimes shots will pierce through the tissue. sometimes they hit bone and they fragment. the jacket of the bullet did fragment, ended up in the lung cavity. but no, there's no surprise here. >> intermediate range, what does that mean to you? >> several possibilities. there's a contact wound where the muzzle is right up against the target. there's a close-in distance from zero to six inches. then there's the intermediate distance which is about six inches to roughly a foot and a half that's what the pathologist is talking about. the ballistics people said it was contact, but it's very inconsistent with what the autopsy report shows. >> also the level of thc in his system, mark said it's a difficult thing. may not get into court. >> i have to agree with mark. first of all, the level is very low. it's at a level where if somebody were using marijuana
let's say four or five days earlier, they might find that level. >> so it could have been days before? >> it probably would have no effect on his behavior. >> anderson, i would like to say what's important about the intermediate range evidence is that the prosecution's theory is that george zimmerman was the first aggressor. if that is true, he had a duty to retreat, he had a duty to try to get away. if you had this pretty close range of six inches that tells me as a prosecutor he wasn't trying to get away. >> but wait a minute. intermediate range is not six inches. is it? >> it can be six inches. >> it's six inches to a foot and a half. it is consistent -- >> that seems -- >> it's consistent with the struggle -- >> the only thing closer than that is to put it up against a contact. >> that's right. >> this was apparently not contact. although larry's right, there has been some indication that it was. but remember, you're talking six inches while people are struggling. that's not a large distance. >> that tells me he wasn't trying to get away. that tells me he wasn't trying to get away. and in fact --
>> no, you can't read anything into that. >> i think you can. i think you can. i mean, if you're trying to get away from someone, then -- >> somebody could be sitting on you and you could shoot them and not be six inches. it doesn't mean you're -- >> right. somebody could be pulling back -- somebody could be pulling back to hit you and that's six inches. >> it's not consistent that he was the first aggressor and he had a duty to retreat and he didn't do that. >> the fact that the fbi voice analysis couldn't determine two important things in this case, from a federal standpoint, whether or not there was a racial slur used and who is screaming for help, how significant -- how significant do you think that is? >> it's very significant because i think what the defense will do is the defense is going to move to exclude any kind of relative on either side saying that they can identify the voices there. you've got expert testimony that it's inconclusive. they may let in the layperson's testimony, but certainly there's going to be some kind of a cautionary instruction or there should be a cautionary instruction so that is significant. >> but there is eyewitness
testimony that it was zimmerman who was yelling help. so that is part of the package that was released today. so that is actually part of the totality of evidence that we've got to look at and analyze. >> right. and that's different. eyewitness testimony -- >> -- voice as well. so there are witness accounts all over the place -- >> they believe it, they didn't actually see who was yelling. those witnesses' accounts. >> they heard it. they're ear witnesses. >> they for your expertise. let us know on facebook, google plus, twitter. we're talking about it on twitter @andersoncooper. how does trayvon martin's family feel about the release of this material? we'll talk to one of their attorneys next.
breaking news coverage. the release of evidence in the shooting death of trayvon martin. the family of trayvon martin said they support the public release of this information and selective leak of information gave what they called a distorted view of the evidence in the case. darrell parks is an attorney for
the martin family. he joins us now. thank you for being with us. what else does trayvon martin's family have to say about the release of the evidence? in particularly, are they concerned about the release of the evidence of marijuana in his system? may affect people's opinion one way or another, or it may affect a jury if it ever gets to this point? >> this actually is not new evidence to us. as you know, there was an issue with the trace that was found in his backpack from school. so that issue was an issue that we knew was already out there and not of major concern to us. and addressing the issue of the great deal of evidence that was released today, we believe that we still have a very strong case against george zimmerman for the death of trayvon in this case. >> the photos of the back of zimmerman's head, the gash on the back of his head, the cut on his owes. things we hadn't seen clearly in the police video. does this change the narrative of what happened that night? >> no, not at all. it's always been rather clear that trayvon was followed by
george zimmerman unprovoked. he finally caught up with him. they exchanged words and there was an altercation. at the end of the day, we know trayvon was not armed. george zimmerman was armed. and trayvon had to fight the gentleman. so yes, he should have -- trayvon had to fight a guy who was armed. so the level of injuries we see in this particular case, yes, he has some injuries, but they are not life-threatening injuries. >> you're saying he had to fight him. what are you basing that on specifically? >> if you have someone that's following you, right, and they confront you for whatever reason, right, and you don't know him and that person is armed, he is not the person who is initiating the action in this case. >> the fbi, the voice analysis, they could not, according to reports, could not determine if zimmerman was using a racial slur or who was screaming for help. trayvon's mom said that was her child screaming for help.
does she still say, for a fact, that that was him? >> yes. she certainly says that was him. but also the other part of this case that comes into play with that particular audio aspect of it are the earshot witnesses who were around who have now come forward. i certainly believe once you take into perspective the earshot witnesses who will testify in the case along with the young girlfriend from miami that certainly it all comes together. >> darrell parks, appreciate you being on, thank you. we are following a number of stories. isha is back with the 360 bulletin. >> investigators in mississippi are questioning a man in connection with the shooting deaths of two drivers killed last week. the shooting happened miles apart on different days and have been linked by ballistic tests. the man questioned is suspected of impersonating a police officer. another legal victory for former mississippi governor
haley barber. the state supreme court today refused to reconsider its decision upholding his right to issue controversial pardons as he was leaving office in january. jurors are set to begin deliberating the case against john edwards. closing arguments were completed today. the former presidential candidate is accused of using campaign contributions to hide his affair with rielle hunter during the 2008 race. supreme court justice stephen breyer was the victim of a robbery again. his washington home was burgled this month. back in february, an armed man broke into his caribbean vacation home and robbed him and others of $1,000. anderson? >> thanks very much. in the course of our investigation into one group that claims to raise money for disabled veterans, we have been reporting on this now -- well, drew gruff fin's been reporting on it for two years, we've been reporting on it for two weeks. and we have uncovered yet another charity that asks you to help veterans by opening your wallets. a lot of people have donated
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gop strategists come up with a proposal to link president obama once go into comments by his former pastor, jeremiah wright. reaction has been swift. that's coming up. ♪ ♪ i can go anywhere ♪ i can go anywhere today ♪ la la la la la la la [ male announcer ] dow solutions help millions of people by helping to make gluten free bread that doesn't taste gluten free. together, the elements of science and the human element can solve anything. solutionism. the new optimism.
keeping them honest, with a report that will very likely make you very angry, and it should. especially if you care about veterans and their well-being. we've already done a number of reports on this program about one charity that has raised tens of millions of dollars allegedly for disabled veterans but they actually haven't given any of that money directly to disabled veterans. hard to believe. tonight we have learned about another charity that claims to be raising money for veterans, but only spends a small amount of the money raised on helping veterans. the charity we told you about is called the disabled veterans national foundation. that's their seal, the dvnf. according to their own tax filings, they raised $56 million in the past three years. a huge amount of money. of that $56 million, we haven't
been able to find even one dime that's gone directly to help disabled veterans. instead, the foundation sends tons of stuff, stuff they got for free, to veterans groups. the stuff hasn't been requested by the veterans groups. it's often not even stuff the groups can use. they sent one veterans group we found thousands of bags of coconut m&ms. the stuff the dvnf gets for free sits in boxes until the veterans groups can figure out what to do with them, what to do with 11,000 bs of m&ms. hundreds of pairs of surplus navy dress shoes. the group that got the shoes tried to sell them at a yard sale to try to get money to use for things they actually do need. drew griffin tracked down the president of the dvnf group to get some answers. here's how that went. approximate you're the bunch from cnn? >> that's right. >> reporter: meet precilla wilkewitz, the president of of the disabled veterans national foundation.
who we found at a small vfw office in baton rouge, louisiana. >> this is for veterans of foreign wars and i really don't think you'd do something like this and we've agreed to talk to you -- >> nobody has agreed. here's the question. raised over three years. >> in writing, thank you very much -- >> none of the money has gone to veterans. >> i hate when people said they agreed to talk to us. and in truth they haven't agreed to talk to us. in the course of covering the dvnf, we uncovered another charity that asks you to help veterans by opening your wallets, then uses only a small percentage of it to actually help veterans. this is a completely different group called the national veterans foundation, but there is a connection to the dvnf. turns out they both use the same fund-raising company. in both cases, that's where the trail of your money seems to lead. drew griffin is on the trail. >> meeting the needs of veterans and their families -- >> reporter: the 27-year-old national veterans foundation would like you to believe it takes your money and puts it right back into its unique program. a national hotline to help
veterans with anything. but cnn's investigation has found something the nvf doesn't likely want you to know. most of your contributions went to pay the private fund-raisers they hired. charity watch gives the national charity foundation a "f" grade. they're only spending 12% on charitable programs. it's costing them $91 to raise $100. >> reporter: daniel runs a nonprofit charity watchdog group that grades charities based on those charities' own tax filings. it shows over the past three years, nvf has taken in $22.3 million in donations, and paid out $18.2 million to its fund-raisers, brickmill, and the parent company, quadriga art. but the filings show a common tactic used by charities. part of the money paid brickmill and quadriga art was designated in tax filings to pay for educational awareness
promotional materials. those solicitations for donations that tell you all about the struggles the vets have and why you should donate? that's the educational awareness and promotion material. >> the accounting is somewhat confusing to the public and so they can get tricked if they look at these tax forms, or look at these superficial reviews of charities on the internet because what they're doing is they're calling that solicitation that makes you aware of the injured veteran a charitable program. but that's not what people want to pay for. people want to pay for substantial aid or assistance to injured veterans. and that's not what's happening in this group. >> reporter: the national veterans foundation hotline is run out of a fourth floor office in this building near los angeles's international airport. the group told us they wouldn't speak on camera. we decided to go and see them anyway. hey, rich. >> hello, you're drew? >> reporter: yeah. just wanted to ask you one more time if we could chat.
>> as we said, we have told you we have made our statements we have given you and we won't be doing any on camera. >> so you won't tell me what you told me on the phone on camera, that you're disappointed in this brickmill and quadriga? >> i believe if you read our statements, it will cover everything that i have said and anything that -- any questions you have. >> reporter: well, it didn't. that's why i'm here. can we take some -- >> i would prefer not on this subject. >> reporter: rich ruddnick is the operations director for nvf, and over the phone told us the charity hired brickmill and quadriga art in 2008 to start a new donations campaign. we were told it would be very expensive for two years and then we'd be going into the black. that never happened, ruddnick told us over the phone. but in person, neither ruddnick or the president, a man paid $121,000 a year would tell us anything. >> can we take some photos of the guys who answer the phone?
this is where the toll free line is? >> yeah this is the toll free line and they're busy and we'd prefer not on this trip. >> all right. well, listen, thanks a lot. and shad, he's not around? >> he's never here in the mornings. >> shortly after the door closed on our camera, cnn received this statement from the foundation saying, knowing what nvf knows now it would not have entered into a six-year contract with quadriga art and brickmill. the national veterans foundation says it's now trying to terminate that contract which doesn't end for another two years. what did quadriga art say? it did just what it was supposed to do, increasing the charity's donor base by 700,000 people. but even quadriga art admitted to cnn the fund raising efforts did not prove as financially viable as the client had hoped. quadriga art says it too now wants to end the contract. and despite brickmill and the parent company quadriga art getting paid more than $18 million, quadriga said it lost
money. daniel borokoff says, baloney. >> we have to ask why is this going on, what's the point, who's benefiting here, other than the fund-raising company? >> drew griffin joins me now and the president of the charity watchdog group. charity navigator. i find this unbelievable. drew, i mean, i applaud your reporting on this because this is outrageous. if people knew these organizations, first of all, that first organization has not sent any money directly to disabled veterans and this one how much did that guy say, 81 cents on the dollar goes to the fund-raising organization? >> that's absolutely right. and that's what is heartbreaking here because behind all these donations are americans who really want to help these veterans. that's why this is so disheartening. they're opening up their wallets thinking they are doing good. and putting money directly into the hands of a for-profit
companies and making a killing off them. >> and they have an american flag there, and a p.o.w./mia flag. if they cared about veterans they should shut that organization down. if they're not happy with the contract that they stupidly signed with this fund-raising company, shut it down. how do they sleep at night? i know you can't answer that question but i would like to know. how do they sleep at night? the kinds of contracts, drew, signed by nvf and the other instance disabled national veterans foundation, they're long and seems like hard to break. why did they go down that road? is it simply to expand their mailing list? >> here's what we have found out in our reporting. some of quadriga art and brickmill's contracts with really big charitable organizations are specifically detailed with money amounts included, all kind of contract obligations that both sides have to meet. very specific. these contracts with these two groups that we're talking about, they're rather loose.
not too much specific. it seems like quadriga art is driving the legal paperwork here. and these charities are simply -- i don't want to put words in their mouth, but they look to me like they've been duped. >> ken, you monitor the charities. do you agree that these are folks who have been duped or do you advise that charities sign these contracts with a marketing firm like quadriga art? >> we say avoid them like the plague. we see this happening over and over again. >> this is not a surprise to you? >> no. in fact, we have zero rated groups -- veterans, police, firefighters. people who risk their lives in this country and the charities associated with them, we saw a preponderance of this in the groups. that they sign these kind of contracts and whether it's consciously or whether they're ignorant and they're made up of volunteers that are well-intentioned and they figure, well, even if it's 99 cents to raise a dollar, it's still a penny. >> even if someone is naive -- i just wonder, i question how
well-intentioned anybody can be if they're spending 99 cents to raise a dollar. that's outrageous. >> it's horrific. there's no excuse for it. and that's why our advice is to avoid these kind of arrangements like the plague and if your a donor you should run with fear. >> how much -- if their charity has a marketing firm how much should they be paying out of a dollar that they raise? >> we generally say ten cents on the dollar is a reasonable amount. and the best charities, whether it's internal or through an external source, ten cents on the dollar is what we see as the highest performer. >> drew, can the irs or somebody get involved and remove the charitable exemption from some of these charities? because these are all allegedly nonprofits but that guy who is running it is making more than $100,000? >> you know, the irs has rules that they all follow, they all file these tax filings. these kinds of organizations have been protected in the courts. part of this is under the free
speech amendment. i don't see really where the irs can get in and do much of anything here. i do see where there's a lot of value in donor beware. look up these groups, figure out where exactly the money is going and find out am i really giving money to fund-raisers or am i giving it to people? >> for them to claim that part of what they're doing is educating people about the needs of veterans and what that education is is their own commercials which is just about fund-raising, i mean, that's just -- >> sleight of hand. >> sleight of hand. it's manipulative, it's lying. >> yeah. >> your organization, charity navigator, which monitors these things, the dvnf, you haven't rated because they haven't been around for more than four years. >> yeah. >> you did review the national veterans foundation, a three-star rating. based on what you now know, would you want to take another look at that? >> oh, yeah, we're definitely going to check it out.
we have a negative rating for fund raising and its finances are below start but we're definitely going to have a second look. >> what should people -- i mean, look, there's so in good hearted family. the fact that dvnf made $56 million over three years from people's donations show you how much people want to help veterans. what should people look for before giving money? >> in situations, well, generally or in specific with veterans groups? >> generally. >> well, first thing is to make sure that the group is transparent. i mean, one of things right away we say is if you contact a group, if you call a group and they refuse to talk to you in any regard, whether it's the media or an individual, be very afraid. they're not transparent. >> you have been trying to talk to dvnf for two years now? >> yeah. yes, i have, for two years. they have just stonewalled us all the way. >> if you get a call, if you're solicited on the street, our general advice is to walk away. >> so if you get a cold call from somebody at home saying they're from the veterans group or whatever, walk away. because you -- >> because you don't know what you're running into it.
you could be in a disaster where 99 cents, 100 cents on the dollar, could be going to the telemarketing firms. >> it makes people suspicious of other good veterans groups. i worked with fisher house. >> great group. >> great group, you give them a very good rating, they do amazing work. the fear is that people give money to the group that doesn't give out any money, they won't give it to a reputable group. >> right. it not only hurts this group, but it hurts the whole sector because it damages the public trust. because they wron der, if this is going on here, how can i trust? the message that people need to know is do some research. and you can avoid a lot of this because there are some tremendous groups out there that really need your support and fisher house foundation is one of them. >> yeah. i want to -- anybody out there who wants to give money should go to charity navigator and really just you'll get a sense of what other good groups there are out there that help vets or police or firefighters or any other kind of charity. >> absolutely, yes. >> i appreciate, ken, the work you're doing. drew, we'll keep on this. i just think it's unbelievable.
mind-boggling to me. again, if you're looking for reputable veterans charities, go to our website. go to ac360.com or charity 1/2elevator.org. we'll have a link on our website as well. remember president obama's former pastor, the reverend jeremiah wright? well, his opponents tried to link him to the controversial race-related comments back in 2008 and now four years later a group of high profile republicans has pitched an elaborate ad campaign to reignite the issue. seems to have been rejected but is it going to pop up somewhere else?
with a billionaire who runs a super pac called the ending spending superfund. the ad as described link president obama to incendiary comments by his former spiritual adviser reverend jeremiah wright. the same reverend wright whose race related comments made him an issue in the 2008 campaign. so much so that president obama distanced himself from wright publicly. john mccain did not try to capitalize on the issue in 2008. here's what he said back then. >> i've made my position very clear on this issue. and that i do not believe that senator obama shares reverend wright's extremist statements or views. >> well, at the time some republicans criticized mccain for not focusing more on the issue. four years later, it's resurrected. ricketts passed on the proposal and the super pac's president said in a statement not only was this plan merely a proposal, one of several submitted to the ending spending action fund by third party vn doors, but it reflected an approach to politic
that mr. ricketts rejected and was never a plan to be accepted but only a suggestion for a direction to take. mitt romney disavowed the proposal today. >> i want to make it very clear, i repudiate that effort. i think it's the wrong course for a pac or a campaign. i hope that our campaigns can respectfully be about the future and about issues and about a vision for america. >> it's still early days in the campaign. this is already making for some raw politics. earlier i talked to a democratic strategist and obama pollster, cornell belcher. even if this ad campaign never happen, do you expect spots like this by some, you know, super pac out there, and do you think they could be effective? >> well, two things. one is i think the last thing republicans want is for some millionaire nut job, you know, spending millions and millions of dollars taking the nominee off message. i mean, if you're the republican nominee, it's just basic
politics. you want to sort of be talking about the economy and jobs and trying to contrast yourself with the president on that. to get into these issues, you know, to spend millions of dollars and have the nominee move off track and talk about issues that quite frankly don't create a job, doesn't keep anyone in their house, doesn't help, you know, with unemployment or mortgage payment whatsoever, that's a nightmare for republicans. >> clearly someone on the republican side thinks this is a good idea. they came up with the idea though it's been rejected apparently by the romney campaign. why do you think these ideas are still floating out there or this idea is still floating out there? >> well, it's not a sufficiently good idea apparently that they got any money. why? because i think there are people on both ends of the political spectrum, perhaps some rich and not particularly capable folks who have an idea that they feel is unexpressed. as long as there are people with money there are people out there willing to take it. and run a campaign like this.
you know, this was litigated in the last campaign. actually it turned out to be one of president obama's better moments responding to the reverend wright situation. if i recall correctly, he was elected after this. so, you know, the problem i think is electricity. if you let some political people near electricity, they make dumb commercials and blow up their campaigns. so we have to do something about electricity. >> cornell, your team turned around and said that romney hadn't done enough to condemn character assassination from his supporters. i mean, do you think that's true? do you believe that somehow mitt romney bears responsibility for this at all? because he had nothing to do with it apparently. >> i don't speak for the campaign, i can barely speak for myself. i think some of the comments came out early before mitt romney came out and sort of -- a couple of different times now and has backed off of. look, i think this sort of ugly polluted politics on both sides -- we can be bipartisan on
this -- on both sides, i think we should stall for a stand down on this sort of thing. >> alex, mitt romney and his team have both been accusing the president's campaign of character assassination over the bain ads. and they did it again today. mitt romney has been running on his business experience saying it's all about job creation. how does bringing that up amount to character assassination? >> it's what you do with it. it's one thing to say that someone is incapable or, you know, may not be up to the job. it's another thing to say that mitt romney is an evil man who hates people and is out to destroy jobs and same kind of attacks that we see even from the president who says on the one hand we shouldn't question anybody's patriotism, but republicans are putting politics ahead of their country. you know, it's all over politics now. there's a lot of demonizing someone's character as opposed
to just talking about the issues and the choice the country needs to make. anderson, it's a little like vietnam. america got sick of vietnam. not just the tragic loss of life, but it brought out the worst in us. it put one american against another. and we're almost at that point now. it's the thing we hate about washington. everybody is at each other's throats and this campaign i think particularly the obama campaign is asking us to be at each other's throat. rich against poor, employee against employer, men against women. that's not the kind of country we want to be. obama ran a better campaign last time for hope and change and not division. >> you don't hear republicans >> you don't hear them questioning his patriotism or whether he's an american or where he's born? >> you know, i do and it's -- and just like this commercial we were just talking about, anderson, it's not productive when we do it. >> cornell? >> you know, alex is conveniently nice guy now because alex, the media consultant, he was one of the most vicious ads you'd ever see in your life.
but look -- >> i'm kinder and gentler now. >> you are. because you're in florida. look, the bottom line is -- you know, spin aside, look, he's making his business experience sort of the centerpiece about creating jobs. alex, you know very well if you were on the other side you would -- in fact, look at his business experience and find out what in fact his business experience says about him and his business experience says about him that he's in a lot of cutting salaries, laying people off, maximizing profit for himself. and that's fine, but the question we have to ask is is that what we want in the white white house, someone who spent their entire life cutting jobs and maximizing their profit at this time? that's fair. >> all right. cornell belcher, alex, thanks. appreciate it. >> thank you. well, donna summer has died and we'll remember her life in music when we continue. for three hours a week, i'm a coach. but when i was diagnosed with prostate cancer... i needed a coach.
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isha is back with a 360 news and business bulletin. donna summer, the queen of disco, has died at the age of 63. ♪ so let's dance the last dance ♪ >> summer's hits included "last dance," "hot stuff," and "she works hard for the money." her publicist says summer had cancer. an autopsy report shows mary kennedy, the estranged wife of robert f. kennedy, jr., died in
an apparent suicide. the cause of her death, asphyxiation due to hanging. the mother of four children was found on the property of their bedford, new york, home. and a second person who has accused john travolta of sexual battery has fired his lawyer and dropped the lawsuit but the case could move into another court. the accusers have hired another attorney. the massage therapists claim the actor groped them in january. mortgage rates have hit record lows yet again. the 30-year fixed rate is now 3.79% while the 15-year fixed is now 3.04%. a north carolina biologist is one lucky man. while attempting to capture an alligator sitting in a ditch near some homes, the animal as you see there attacked and bit him on the arm. he managed to get away from the gator and thankfully the bite was not serious. but it's really scary to watch. >> yikes. >> yikes is right. >> all right. isha, thanks.
time for the ridiculist and we're adding a portion of society i like to talk about paleness haters. you're a shifty bunch but i know you're laughing and rubbing coconut oil on each other. and you know what? maybe if there wasn't so much snickering about pale folks this wouldn't be moments like this on the local news. >> i'm so pale.
>> you're on. >> today snow is crippling much of the washington low lands. >> all right. she got caught on an open mic. no big deal. she totally picked up, moved on with the weather forecast. besides it happens to the best of us. if my microphone was open during commercials you'd hear me talking about how pale i am and me yelling the crew. they keep looking at me in the eyes, i don't line that. i get it, though. being pale -- shh. they're laughing. they always talk. being pale has its downside. sure i might be a translucent national treasure with piercing blue eyes but the reality is i'm never going to have the rich leathery glow of george hamilton. wow. that's a really nice screen grab of me. that's my new head shot. you know what? it's okay. pale is beautiful. if you disagree you can take it up with my pale sister in arms, academy award winner tilda swinton. i'm going to go out on a limb and say she doesn't have time for your pale-hating gloating.
neither does mr. gary busey. is he stable? without a doubt. speaking of stable, it's not just gary busey who knows what it's like to be on the pale side. it's also the horse that looks like gary busey. remember him? ride on, my pale friend. ride on. and then the poor cat, you know the cat i mean. yep. let me tell you, that cat doesn't worry about being pale. the only thing -- [ laughter ] let me tell you that cat doesn't worry about being pale. the only thing that cat worries about is being too good looking. all right, hold on. i'm reminded of something. if we could, i'd like to pause a moment and check in with larry king. hey, larry, always good to check in with him from time to time. i love larry. look, back to being pale. i don't know that larry king there -- rather tangential. back to being pale.
i get how it's maybe not the most desirable appearance. i get that a healthy base tan is something sometimes optimal. in fact, i'll admit it's a stunning look. i mean, it's not anything could ever go wrong. >> i have been tanning my whole life. going to the beach, tanning salons, so forth. >> and so forth is the understatement of the decade. i can't wrap my mind around that. and apparently, now she's turned into some sort of deep fried paparazzi magnet over in new jersey. it's all too much. say what you say, pale haters, but consider the flip side on the ridiculist. that's it for us. good morning. i hope it's a beautiful start to your friday. welcome to "early start." >> i'm ali velshi, ashleigh banfield is on assignment. it's 5:00 a.m.