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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Political Punches; Cheney's Health Scare; Doctors Playing Judge; MySpace Horror

Aired November 26, 2007 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Presidential candidates launching verbal rockets at each other. In the hour ahead, we're holding them accountable for what they're saying. How do their well-scripted talking points actually square with the truth? We're "Keeping them Honest."
Later, in "Crime and Punishment," new developments in the case of Megan Meier, a teen who committed suicide after an act of online cruelty. It wasn't, though, another child doing the bullying. It was an adult -- a mother, no less, of one of Megan's friends.

We're also digging deeper tonight into doctors accused of putting their morality over their patients' medical needs. We're talking about a rape victim denied emergency contraception, women getting lectured on the pill, and more.

All that ahead, and a new health scare for the vice president.

But we begin with bare-knuckle politics, that and the truth, or lack of it, behind all those punches. Tonight, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney trading heavy shots on crime, Senators Clinton and Obama in a knife fight, virtually, over experience. Even mellow Mike Huckabee showing some teeth.

People say they don't like it when campaigns attack, but they listen to those attacks all the same.

So, tonight, along with who is scoring points, we want to focus on who is telling the truth.

CNN's Candy Crowley is "Keeping them Honest."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A holiday note: The season to be jolly does not apply to politicians.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Mike Huckabee. It's a pleasure to see you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Beautiful day.

CROWLEY: As evidence, affable, laid-back Mike Huckabee on fellow Republican Mitt Romney.

HUCKABEE: When he was pro-abortion, I was still pro-life, and always have been. When he was for gun control, I was against it. When he was against the Bush tax cuts, I was for them.

CROWLEY: That is the sound of numbers crunching -- 38 days until the Iowa caucuses, and poll numbers in the states showing tossups in both the Republican and Democratic races. The Iowa caucuses are the beginning of the primary calendar and for some candidates, it will be the end. 'Tis the season for body blows.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ronald Reagan would have never raised taxes like Mike Huckabee did. Ronald Reagan would never have said, let's give tuition breaks to illegals, like Mike Huckabee did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: "Keeping them Honest," they both raised taxes as governors. In Arkansas, Huckabee presided over a 20 percent higher sales tax, 16 percent hike in fuel taxes, and 103 percent higher cigarette taxes.

Under Romney, annual state fees in Massachusetts went up by $500 million. He proposed corporate tax increases of $400 million a year.

As the frontrunner in Iowa, Romney takes a lot of incoming, much of it from national frontrunner Rudy Giuliani, who skewered Romney for appointing a judge who released a convicted murderer who went on to allegedly kill again.

RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was a period of time in which New York City was looking at record crime decreases, and he had a situation in which murder went up, violent crime went up.

CROWLEY: Well, while the murder rate was up slightly when Romney left office, the overall violent crime numbers were down slightly. As for the judge, Romney called for her resignation.

(on camera): Hard to find better fireworks this side of Fourth of July, unless of course you take a listen to the Clinton-Obama exchanges lately on health care.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He said it was universal. He said it was sort of universal. He said it wasn't universal. He said he covered everybody. He said he didn't cover 15 million.

CROWLEY: Obama's plan does not provide health care coverage for everyone. It does seek to lower insurance costs to lure people into coverage. Her plan requires everyone to get insurance.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And, by the way, Senator Clinton still has not explained what exactly this mandate is. What is she going to do if somebody doesn't purchase health care? Is she going to fine them? Is she going to garnish their wages?

CROWLEY: The Clinton campaign has not said how it will enforce its mandated coverage.

The nastiest to-ing and fro-ing borders on the personal. Clinton has said Obama's overseas life at the age of 10 does not seem like foreign policy experience. Meow. Now he is suggesting that being wife of the president hardly qualifies Hillary Clinton.

"I don't think Michelle would claim that she is the best qualified person to be a United States Senator by virtue of me talking to her on occasion about the work I have done."

Meow back.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Meow indeed.

Whether or not what the candidates say is true is one thing. Whether it sticks is another.

Right now, that question is key. What is working? Accurate or not, what is hitting home with voters?

Here to talk about it, David Gergen, adviser to presidents from Nixon to Clinton, GOP strategist Ed Rollins, and Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of "The Nation" magazine.

It's good to see you all.

Ed, it's inevitable this kind of sniping is heating up. The clock is ticking, after all, to Iowa and New Hampshire. But how careful does Rudy Giuliani have to be attacking Mitt Romney on hiring and tax records? Doesn't he open himself up to being defined negatively by others?

ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, he does. He certainly has a lot in his background that can come out. And I think he needs to be very careful.

And equally as important, Rudy can't be the old Rudy. Rudy was a tough, aggressive guy. And that's not a very likable person. He's tried to be very likable. He's tried to make his attacks on Hillary up to this point, which has been fairly successful. And I think, when he starts attacking Huckabee and Romney and what have you, he basically makes it more difficult if he becomes the nominee to bring the base back together again.

COOPER: David, how do you see the race playing out in Iowa and New Hampshire? What are the dynamics? A strong showing by Huckabee, but is that really a game-changer in Iowa?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well, this isn't traditional Republican politics. These Republicans look a lot more like the Democrats. You know, there was the old -- as Ed Rollins will tell you, the Reagan 11th commandment. Thou shalt not attack another Republican in primaries, held for many years. And that's one of the reasons that Reagan was so popular and was able to govern once he won.

And I think what is happening here is that these guys are dragging themselves down. In part, I think, Anderson, what is going in that Romney -- Romney has opened up this lead in Iowa and New Hampshire. And, suddenly, the Giuliani forces are realizing that, if he takes those early states, he could knock them off in the later states. And now they're trying to fight back and even it up in New Hampshire. And so that's why Rudy is spending more time in New Hampshire, putting advertisements on there, and going after Romney.

He may be able to even it up, but it's going to be at some expense to himself and to the party if they all come out of this with mud all over each other.

COOPER: Katrina, for the Democrats, caucus night in Iowa is going to be interesting. The Edwards supporters are not likely to back Clinton, according to polls, if their man isn't going to win. They have indicated in polls they're more likely to then back Obama.

How much trouble is Hillary Clinton in, in Iowa?

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, EDITOR, "THE NATION": Well, it's so interesting, Anderson, because what we're seeing is this sort of wind being punctured out of pundits, because for so many months now we have heard that Hillary Clinton's lead is virtually unassailable.

We now see what is going on in Iowa is a virtual dead heat. The arcane process of the Iowa caucuses may well be that the Edwards caucus voters will throw their support to Obama or Richardson, because Iowa is a state where the war -- ending this disastrous war, Anderson, is preeminent, number one.

And Hillary is perceived -- is the most hawkish candidate. So, I think you're going to see a lot of turmoil. And Hillary is -- I think, you know, what she's showing is that she's fighting, and Obama has found his moxie and his fighting spirit and is coming back at her and saying, I'm not going to let your talk about experience, with all the undersides of that, get in the way.

COOPER: Well, Ed, also, Obama has also found Oprah Winfrey. She is now going to be stumping for him in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina. Can she do for a candidate what she does for books and her favorite things?

ROLLINS: She is a tremendous asset. And unlike movie stars, this is a woman with a great following, and particularly among women, who watch her show daily. It's one of the most popular shows on television. So, I think it's a great asset. I think she can certainly attract attention. Usually, endorsements don't mean a whole lot, particularly by celebrities. But this particular one may make some women look differently at Obama, and it may be very helpful.

COOPER: David, is it possible it has the opposite effect, I mean, that people resent celebrities stumping, telling people how they should vote? GERGEN: Not in her case. I think Ed is right. I tell you, she's going to be an enormous asset. And in some ways, the surrogate war now is Oprah Winfrey vs. Bill Clinton. What a wonderful competition that is, isn't it?

VANDEN HEUVEL: Two rock stars, one without baggage.

GERGEN: Yes. Absolutely.

I think the bigger news tonight, Anderson, the buzz is, though, that this new poll out, it may not be representative, but it's a strong wind, that Zogby poll out tonight showing that Hillary Clinton is running behind all five Republican candidates nationwide, including Mike Huckabee? Wow.

COOPER: What do you -- what does that tell you?

GERGEN: Well, I think that she -- I think that her campaign is in -- has had these stumbles recently, and that she's now paying a national price.

Now, if you average all the polls, you will find that she's still ahead of the candidates and she's still the frontrunner nationwide against the Republicans.

This is an outlier poll. But if we were to see three or four or five of these, I think that it would greatly help Obama when he argues, I'm more electable, because he's right -- in this particular Zogby poll, he's running ahead of her against all the Republican candidates.

COOPER: We're going to have to leave it there.

Ed Rollins, good to have you. David Gergen and Katrina Vanden Heuvel, thanks very much.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Moving next to Rudy Giuliani and abortion rights. His views have changed since he ran New York City. Some call that being human. Others call it pandering for votes. Whichever, not for us to say. What we can do, though, is show you the then and the now and the facts.

"Keeping them Honest" tonight, CNN's John King.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLI CONLIN, PRESIDENT, NARAL PRO-CHOICE NEW YORK: That was a very, very proud and happy moment for us.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was 1989. Rudy Giuliani was mayor-elect, abortion rights activist Kelli Conlin a proud member of the new team. She still calls Giuliani a friend, but can't believe much of what she hears these days.

GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would appoint judges that are strict constructionists.

CONLIN: That's code for judges that will overturn Roe vs. Wade

KING: Back in his days as mayor, Giuliani signed a proclamation designating Roe v. Wade Day on the 25th anniversary of the landmark abortion rights decision.

And, today, as a presidential candidate?

GIULIANI: I'm against abortion. I hate it.

KING (on camera): Ever use language like that in a conversation with you?

CONLIN: He never used language like that at all when he was mayor. He never seemed to have a struggle with the issue when he was mayor. He was very, very proudly pro-choice.

KING (voice-over): "Keeping them Honest," we looked at Giuliani's statements and policy positions dating back 20 years. And there is clearly an evolution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I congratulate you.

KING: From a mayoral candidate in 1989 who promised to uphold the constitutional right to an abortion, despite his Catholic upbringing...

GIULIANI: I have religious views and personal views that are contrary to some -- to some of these in these areas.

KING: ... to a mayor who offered no such reservations...

GIULIANI: And I am pro-choice. I'm pro-gay rights.

KING: ... to a presidential candidate who now embraces abortion restrictions he had opposed as mayor.

WHIT AYRES, GOP POLLSTER: I think that Rudy Giuliani's current position makes his pro-choice stance more acceptable to a lot of Republicans, not all, certainly, but a lot of Republicans.

KING: As mayor, Giuliani supported taxpayer-financed abortions for poor women. He reiterated that support in this 1997 candidate questionnaire and again in this CNN interview seven months ago.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, you support taxpayer money or public funding for abortion in some cases?

GIULIANI: If it would deprive someone of a constitutional right, yes. I mean, if that's the status of the law, then I would, yes.

KING: But, a day later, amid a conservative uproar, he rushed to clarify his stance on taxpayer funding.

GIULIANI: I would want to see it decided on a state-by-state basis.

KING: In that 1997 questionnaire, he also opposed restrictions on minors receiving abortions. Now he says he backs parental notification, as long as a judge can waive the requirement in some circumstances.

He also has evolved on whether to ban late-term abortion. During the Clinton administration, when Congress tried to outlaw the procedure, Giuliani opposed the legislation.

GIULIANI: No, I have not supported that. And I don't see my position on that changing.

KING: But it did. This is Giuliani after an April Supreme Court ruling upholding a ban.

GIULIANI: And I must say, Justice Kennedy's opinion convinced me even more that my support for the ban is a correct one.

KING (on camera): So if he says now that he has a different position on that legislation, you would think?

CONLIN: I think he owes the American public an explanation of why he's flip-flopped so dramatically.

KING (voice-over): Giuliani aides reject the flip-flop label, saying critics exaggerate the extent of any shifts and that any changes in emphasis he has made are because a president faces far different choices on abortion than a big-city mayor.

John King, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: A few short items to mention. Vice President Cheney is recovering at home tonight from treatment for an irregular heart, atrial fibrillation. This evening, doctors at George Washington University Hospital delivered an electric shock to Mr. Cheney's heart to restore it's rhythm. The condition was discovered this morning during a routine examination for cold symptoms.

Mr. Cheney has a long history of coronary disease, of course. He has had four heart attacks. The first, when he was just 37 years old. He will be back at work, though, tomorrow, they say.

So will President Bush, dining tonight with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, expressing careful optimism on the eve of tomorrow's peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland. It will be the first such get-together of his nearly seven-year-old administration. The two main parties will be there, along with a host of other Arab states, but not Hamas, which now controls Gaza.

The summit happens tomorrow, but any real progress is expected on Wednesday, when Mr. Bush meets again with the Israelis and Palestinians. We will be covering it, of course. And a reminder: I'm headed to Florida tomorrow to get ready for our second CNN/YouTube debate. This time, the Republican candidates answering your questions live. We have received nearly 5,000 questions, like this one from Emily Huten (ph) in Birmingham, Alabama.

Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Hello, presidential candidates. This is Emily Huten. I'm from Birmingham, Alabama. And I have two small children.

My husband is self-employed and it is impossible for us to get good health insurance at an affordable rate. Quality health care is continuing to become less and less accessible for many Americans.

If you are elected president, how do you intend to make insurance both affordable and accessible to all Americans?

Thanks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, thank you for sending in your questions.

Again, the debate is Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m., Eastern, followed by a special edition of 360 at 10:00 p.m.

Coming up tonight, a question: Is it OK for doctors to refuse treatment to you because of a moral disagreement? The case we're talking about is a woman who was raped, then refused emergency contraception because the doctor thought that was morally wrong. Doctors playing judge and priest. We're digging deeper, next.

Also tonight, a new message from Osama bin Laden, we're being told to expect one at any minute. We will bring it to you and what it means if and when it comes in.

Plus, "Crime and Punishment" -- a teen driven to suicide, her parents say, by a posting on MySpace. But they also say the posting was actually written by a grown-up neighbor, a mother bent on revenge. Now the town is taking action to make sure this never happens again. We will talk with Dr. Drew Pinsky and Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin about the secret lives of kids online, when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: This next story may make you wonder just whose side your doctor is really on.

Part of the oath that all doctors take is to do no harm. But a growing number of patients across the country are reporting that they are being harmed by doctors who seem to be acting more like judges. These patients, mostly women, are being denied birth control and other contraceptive treatments. Why? Because of their doctors' religious beliefs. Tonight, we're digging deeper. Here's CNN's Randi Kaye.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In June, this 24- year-old from Texas asked her doctor for birth control pills, and got an earful.

"MELISSA," WAS REFUSED CONTRACEPTION: He told me that he didn't believe in prescribing birth control. He thought it was morally wrong, that I shouldn't be having sex. And he launched into a lecture about, you know, ethically, you know, how I need to rethink things.

KAYE: She doesn't want to share her doctor's name or her own, so we will call her Melissa. She told us her doctor was Catholic.

MELISSA: I have no problem with a doctor being a practicing religious person. But they do not have a right to impose that on their patients.

KAYE (on camera): Yet, more and more patients are getting a dose of religion in the exam room. Doctors are rejecting patients whose care throws their moral compass off course. In a study published this year in "The New England Journal of Medicine," 63 percent of the doctors surveyed said it was OK to voice their moral objections to patients.

DR. SCOTT ROSS, FAMILY PHYSICIAN: The struggle is always there.

KAYE (voice-over): Dr. Scott Ross, a Catholic family physician in Virginia, believes contraception interferes with God's plan to breathe life into us, so he doesn't prescribe birth control.

(on camera): So, if someone came to you today and said they would like contraception or the morning-after pill, what do you tell them?

ROSS: I'm very frank with them and say, that's something that I don't do. It's not part of my practice.

KAYE (voice-over): Dr. Ross says he has denied contraception to at least a dozen patients.

(on camera): Do you ever feel as though you're playing the role of judge, too?

ROSS: No.

KAYE: But when you're denying someone something that they're requesting, aren't you making a judgment on whether or not they should have that care?

ROSS: I don't know that I'm making a judgment on whether or not they should have the care. It's just the judgment of, I can't provide that care.

KAYE (voice-over): "Melissa" didn't see it that way with her doctor.

(on camera): Did you feel as if he was judging you?

"MELISSA": Yes. Yes, I really did. I felt as though he was accusing me of being immoral and trying to impose his values on me.

KAYE: What should they do? Should they not practice?

"MELISSA": If their religious beliefs are in unreasonable conflict with their obligations to a patient, then, yes, I think they shouldn't practice.

KAYE (voice-over): Today, "Melissa" has a new doctor and the prescription she wanted.

Yet, women are still being left in the lurch.

(on camera): Eight states have laws giving doctors the legal right to reject treatment if it conflicts with their religious beliefs. Refusal clauses are quietly becoming law and allow health care providers more leeway to refuse a larger variety of treatments. Four states are considering legislation that would let doctors refuse absolutely any treatment if it conflicts with their faith.

(voice-over): And we have learned doctors are saying no in the name of God even to women who have been raped.

(on camera): Is it right, do you think, to deny a woman who has been raped emergency contraception, when time is so limited to actually treat that?

ROSS: You Know, our goal is to provide excellent medical care for all of the patients that we encounter.

KAYE: But does that sit OK with you?

ROSS: That sits OK with me.

KAYE: How is it OK to deny her that care?

ROSS: I think we as physicians have right to uphold our own moral grounds. And we don't have to do everything that's asked of us.

KAYE (voice-over): The American Medical Association agrees.

DR. EDWARD LANGSTON, AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: They have the right to refuse to provide those services. But they also have an obligation to help that patient seek the care from another physician.

KAYE: These eight states already require E.R. doctors to provide emergency contraception to sexual assault victims. And Pennsylvania may soon join them.

Loyalty to a higher power or loyalty to medicine, can doctors really have both?

Randi Kaye, CNN, Manassas, Virginia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Hmm. It is a fascinating question.

We would love to hear from you. Go to our Web page, CNN.com/360. Let us know what you think. Send us an e-mail or a v-mail. You can find instructions there on the Web page.

A development now in the cold case of Natalee Holloway.

Erica Hill joins us with that and other news in a 360 bulletin -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, investigators in Texas believe they have identified the 2-year-old girl whose body washed ashore last month in a plastic storage bin in Galveston Bay. They suspect that little girl who for weeks has been known as Baby Grace is actually Riley Ann Sawyers. DNA results are pending. The girl's 19- year-old mother and a 24-year-old man were arrested over the weekend, following up on a tip from the girl's paternal grandparents.

In Aruba, a ruling in the Natalee Holloway case. A judge has said there is enough evidence to hold Joran van der Sloot for another eight days. He and two others were re-arrested last week. They are suspects in the disappearance of Holloway. She disappeared in May of 2005.

The wife of missing adventurer Steve Fossett now asking a court to declare him dead, so they can resolve his vast estate. The millionaire disappeared on September 3, after taking off in a plane from Nevada. Fossett was never found, despite a search effort that lasted for more than a month.

And in Malibu, California, tonight, crews getting the upper hand on that wildfire which tore through the area over the holiday weekend, some 15,000 people forced to evacuate, more than 50 homes destroyed. Investigators say the blaze may have been started by a group of people partying with a campfire.

COOPER: It's terrible to lose your home. It's even worse if it's a bunch of like knuckleheads partying around a campfire.

HILL: And why would anybody do that in that area, knowing what the chances are for a wildfire and the damage it can do?

COOPER: Yes. It makes you ask, what were they thinking? Which gets us to our next segment, which is "What Were They Thinking?" A story out of Iraq caught our eye and has us all asking that question. What exactly were these folks thinking?

Check out the happy couple. That's right, a groom and a bride. If you notice anything, though, about the bride, she's not just blushing. She's actually a he. He needs a shave. The bride is not actually a bride.

HILL: That's not just extra contour on the cheek. That's actual stubble.

COOPER: That's right.

That's the groom there. The bride is not a bride at all. In fact, he's a wanted militant. They tried to get through a checkpoint in a car decorated for their fake nuptials. According to the Iraqi government, soldiers stopped the convoy, discovered the couple and two others in their posse were wanted militants. All four are now honeymooning, apparently, behind bars.

HILL: Probably not what they had in mind for the honeymoon, huh?

COOPER: Probably not. Or maybe.

Erica, thanks.

Now here's Kiran Chetry with what is coming up tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIRAN CHETRY, CO-HOST, "AMERICAN MORNING": Thanks, Anderson.

Tomorrow, we bring you the most news in the morning and show off the newest car that promises to prevent crashes. It brakes for red lights, even if you don't, and uses infrared cameras to spot cars or pedestrians. So, will it save lives? And how soon will it be on your city streets? We are going to take a test drive tomorrow morning on "AMERICAN MORNING."

It all begins at 6:00 a.m., Eastern -- Anderson, back to you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: And how many cup holders does it have? That's the question. It's like the Simpson-mobile.

Anyway, up next, a cyber-bully blamed for the death of a teenage girl. Her parents were shocked when they found out who the bully really was. You will be, too. And now there's another twist in the case. Gary Tuchman has details in our "Crime and Punishment" segment -- next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: In "Crime and Punishment" tonight, new developments in a troubling story we continue to follow.

It is about this young girl. Her name is Megan. And she hung herself in her closet after being tricked and taunted on MySpace, the popular social networking Web site.

Now, the girl's town has now voted to make cyber-harassment a crime. And there are several new developments to tell you about, but, first, the stunning truth about how this teenager's life ended.

CNN's Gary Tuchman has the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What happened here is horrifying. Why it might have happened will leave you incredulous.

TINA MEIER, MOTHER OF MEGAN MEIER: She was just a good girl.

TUCHMAN: Tina Meier of suburban Saint Louis is the mother of Megan Meier, who had lived a challenging childhood.

RON MEIER, FATHER OF MEGAN MEIER: She got bullied in school and she had big self-esteem issues. She had struggled with depression since she was in the third grade.

TUCHMAN: Megan's mother and father allowed her to set up a MySpace account, under their supervision, and said their 13-year-old swooned when she got her first affectionate note ever from a boy named Josh Evans.

T. MEIER: He thought she was really pretty, posted on her comments -- on her pictures, you know, this is beautiful. Your eyes are beautiful.

TUCHMAN: For about a month, Josh sent her instant messages saying things like, "Lucky me and lucky you, because you are my number one."

But Megan's mother and father started getting suspicious, because, although the notes were not explicit, their parental instinct told them something was not right.

T. MEIER: I did contact the police department. And I called and went -- asked to be transferred to the cyber crimes division to see, how can I check to see if this MySpace account is real? Nothing you can do.

TUCHMAN: And, then, one day:

T. MEIER: It was a whirlwind. It was Josh saying horrible things to Megan, Megan saying things back to him.

TUCHMAN: Nasty messages from a boy who, just a day before, meant everything to this lonely girl. One in particular cut deep.

R. MEIER: "The world would be a better-off place without you. And have a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) rest of your life."

TUCHMAN: Megan was distraught beyond words.

T. MEIER: This is the part I'll never forgive myself for, because she -- she was looking for me to help calm her down, like I normally always did and be there for her.

And I was upset with her, because I didn't like the language that she was using. And I was upset that she didn't listen to me and sign off when I told her to. And so I was aggravated with her about that and told her that she knew better.

And she just said to me, "You're supposed to be my mom. You're supposed to be on my side." And she took off running upstairs.

TUCHMAN: It was too quiet for too long in that upstairs bedroom.

R. MEIER: Tina left, walked upstairs. I didn't really pay much attention to it. And then I just heard a blood-curdling scream.

T. MEIER: I just saw her hanging from her closet.

R. MEIER: When she just screamed, I was right there.

T. MEIER: I tried picking her up.

R. MEIER: I picked -- held her. And I yanked the whole closet thing out of the wall. And Tina ran and got a knife so I could cut the belt from around her neck and then started performing CPR.

T. MEIER: She had tears the entire time, running down the side of her face, the entire -- until she passed away.

R. MEIER: Just like, please, please, Megan, breathe.

TUCHMAN: Megan was pronounced dead the next day.

When Ron Meier came home from the hospital, he wanted to find Josh Evans, let him know what he had done to his little girl.

The first place he tried to look was Josh's MySpace page.

R. MEIER: It was deleted. The whole Josh Evans no longer existed.

TUCHMAN: A month passed. As the Meiers struggled with their grief, searching for answers, why their daughter went to such extremes and who was the boy who drove her there.

Then a neighbor told them something stunning. Josh Evans was actually the creation of a mother who lived on the same block as the Meiers, a mother who actually went to Megan's funeral.

According to an official police report, that mother acknowledged it. The reports saying, "In the months leading up to Meier's daughter's suicide, she instigated and monitored a MySpace account, which was created for the sole purpose of communicating with Meier's daughter."

The Meiers were told the other family wanted to find out from Megan why she was having a dispute with their own 13-year-old daughter.

R. MEIER: As if my daughter would have killed herself with a gun, they loaded the gun for her. TUCHMAN: We are not reporting the name of that other family, to protect the identity of their daughter, but did go to their home to try and get their side of the story.

(on camera): Is anybody home?

(voice-over): The woman's father answered the door. In a soft voice, the grandfather said it was sad, but then would not say if he thought the police report was wrong.

(on camera): Have you talked to these people since then?

T. MEIER: Yes, I have.

TUCHMAN: What have you said to them?

T. MEIER: Probably things that I can't say on camera.

TUCHMAN: And what did they say back to you?

R. MEIER: Give it a rest.

T. MEIER: Give it a rest.

TUCHMAN: Now at this point, if you're waiting to hear what law enforcement is doing, in an effort to get Megan and her family some justice, well, you may be waiting forever. County prosecutors, the county sheriff's office and the FBI say there is no indication whatsoever a crime has been committed, so there are no plans to do anything legally.

(voice-over): After initially telling us they weren't even investigating the case anymore, the prosecutor is now telling CNN his office will review the situation.

But more than a year has gone by since Megan hanged herself. Tina and Ron Meier, who have separated, partly because of the stress, were told by lawyers it was best to stay quiet. But they no longer are. They are angry and feel they owe it to Megan to speak out.

(on camera): Maybe your story could help the welfare of another child.

R. MEIER: Absolutely.

T. MEIER: That's what we hope.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Gary, this piece is just -- I mean, just stunning what that family has been through. And then to find out it was a neighbor and a mother of another child. I mean, it's like a punch in the stomach.

We mentioned at the top that cyber harassment is now a crime. Any chance that there will be charges filed against this family? TUCHMAN: Yes, you're right, Anderson. It really is so heartbreaking. This law that has just been passed in their municipality will affect future cases, but it won't bring justice to the Meier family.

And we've talked to the county prosecutor's office. The county prosecutor still says he's investigating the case. The family, the Meiers, hope to talk to the county prosecutor any day.

But so far, there's still no indication whatsoever that any charges will be filed against that other family that still lives on the same block four houses down from the Meiers.

COOPER: The fact that that other family told these parents to give it a rest, is just -- I mean, they have some questions to answer.

Gary, thanks for the reporting.

Up next, we want to talk more about this case. Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin will cover the legal aspects. And Dr. Drew Pinsky, on what can be done to stop this sort of nightmare, what we all need to know about what kids are doing online.

Plus ahead tonight, the new bin Laden message. Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Prayers for Megan. There you see a memorial service for Megan Meier, the 13-year-old girl that committed suicide after someone she met on MySpace.com turned against her.

All along, Megan thought she was talking to a boy. In truth, a mother who lived on the same block as Megan posed as a boy to find out why Megan and her daughter were fighting. It was a cruel hoax with deadly consequences and one that may not result in any criminal charges.

And just a few miles away, another girl killed herself after being raped by a man who pretended to be a 16-year-old on the Internet. That girl was teased when she told other kids what had happened to her.

Both tragedies revealing the very dark side of the Internet.

Joining me to talk about the legal aspects of the case and how to keep your kids safe in cyberspace, are CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin, and Dr. Drew Pinsky, associate professor of psychiatry at USC.

Guys, thanks for being with us.

Dr. Drew, almost two-thirds of teens who go online create personal profiles on spaces like MySpace or Facebook. And the intimacy of the details that they give out is stunning. Much more than they would actually give out face-to-face.

What is it about it that -- that permits them to do that?

DR. DREW PINSKY, ASSOCIATED PROFESS OR PSYCHIATRY, USC: Well, a certain amount of anonymity. You know, Anderson, it's just like when the telephone came along. I'm certain people had discussions about this.

Do you remember party lines back in the day, where people were being victimized and sort of trolled for across these party lines, where people were getting inappropriate contact.

We now have a new technology, for which the barrier to entry and the barrier to resistance to participation is even lower.

Really, I kind of think about these sorts of technological advantages the way I think about drugs and addiction. We come up with more powerful drugs, the probability of addiction becomes higher. The same is true with these technologies.

COOPER: And this girl, Megan. I mean, she was bullied in school. She'd struggled with depression, her father said, since the third grade. She had low self-esteem. Do those issues make a kid more likely to be drawn to a Web site like MySpace or to cyberspace?

PINSKY: Well, if -- you have to understand. If a kid is home alone, and the opportunity is there, and she has access to a social environment that otherwise she would really not be able to have access to, she doesn't feel comfortable enough on her own to enter an environment where she can interact with other people, here is a whole world available to her. And eventually, someone responded to her. I'm sure she was delighted. It could have been a positive interaction.

And by the way, I find it intriguing that the parents went to the -- or somewhere in the report they said they went to the police to report this, rather than to MySpace.

I would encourage other parents out there, if you have questions about the propriety of the interaction, or the content of material on MySpace, go to MySpace. They have a police organization within the facility there, where they can respond rather quickly.

In fact, I've sent police directly into a child's home within a few hours of inappropriate material arriving through MySpace.

COOPER: That's -- that's a great -- great idea.

Jeffrey, I think a lot of people are surprised to hear that no crime was actually committed, no laws broken. How is that possible?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, I had the same reaction, initially. I mean, you just hear that story, you -- you know, you want to scream in frustration and anger.

But I also am somewhat sympathetic to the police for their failure to slot this into one of the categories of criminal law. Because if you think about, say homicide or manslaughter, the causation is just not something you could prove in court.

Unfortunately, this Megan, it appears, had a lot of problems. So there is no way you could prove, I think, that this action was the -- to a legal certainty, what caused her to kill herself. I mean, that is just something...

COOPER: But the town has now passed this law making cyber crime -- or cyber harassment a misdemeanor. But that's too late for -- for her neighbors to be charged.

TOOBIN: It is too late. And fortunately, I think, you know, this doesn't happen all that often. So, you know, we hope this law will not apply in that many cases.

However, I do think there is a possibility of some civil action against the neighbor's family here. You could have a tort like intentional infliction of emotional distress or harassment. It does seem like something that the parents could sue for.

I mean, of course, that's very, very small consolation for losing a daughter. But it's something.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Yes, and you certainly, Dr. Drew, wonder what is in the head of this other mother, who posed as the teenage boy?

Do you have other advice, Dr. Drew, for parents out there?

PINSKY: Boy, it's hard even to imagine -- it's such a breathtaking story -- what would motivate a parent to behave like that.

I would just say for other parents, understand how MySpace and these communities work. Get your children's code as a condition of their participation. Watch what's going on there. Your observation of how they conduct themselves in these environments can actually be an asset. You can see who your child is socializing with, how those young people then perceive your child, what they're saying about him or her. It really can be quite an asset, if you use it.

If you do not, it can be a rather dangerous environment, as this story proves.

COOPER: Yes, so tragic.

Dr. Drew, Jeff Toobin, appreciate it. Thanks.

After a story like this, as Dr. Drew talked about, it's worth a reminder about how you can monitor what your kids are doing on the Internet. Here's the raw data, some suggestions.

You keep computers in public spaces, like the family room. Don't let the kids have Internet access in their rooms. Easier said than done. You can closely watch the information they give and receive on social Web sites. Make sure to tell them never to give out personal information or photos of themselves to others, especially to strangers. That's a tough one, though, on these sites.

And get in contact with your Internet provider, as Dr. Drew suggested, for filtering software to help you watch what they do online or with a specific question about another site.

Up next tonight, on the eve of the Annapolis summit, a different kind of peace summit at the White House. President Bush and Al Gore shaking hands and smiling. If this isn't a story for "Raw Politics," I don't know what is.

Also ahead, a poisoned gown. Spiked makeup. We'll tell you about a beauty pageant that got really, really ugly. Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert announced his plans to leave the House earlier this month, and today he submitted his resignation letter, making his retirement official, effective tonight.

He'll soon be able to hang out with Trent Lott. It seems the Mississippi Republican made news today, and he's likely to make a whole lot of money very soon.

Here's CNN's Tom Foreman with tonight's Raw Politics.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The holiday decorations are going up here in D.C., but the Republicans are falling down. The latest to tumble, Mississippi Senator Trent Lott.

(voice-over): Lott is a big player and one of six GOP Senators who are either resigning or not sticking around for the reelection rumba. It's not his health.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R), MISSISSIPPI: There are no problems.

FOREMAN: So what is it? A source say Lott is going into lobbying. And under a new law, he would have to wait longer on that if he does not resign this year.

Think the U.S. will be out of Iraq soon? Think again. President Bush and Iraqi leader Nouri al-Maliki have signed a pledge to build long-term ties between their countries. That likely means formal talks soon about keeping American military bases in Iraq for a long time.

Most awkward moment of the day: Al Gore and George Bush together in the White House they once fought over to celebrate Gore's global warming Nobel Prize.

He and the pres had a half-hour private chat, too. Second most awkward moment: Gore leaves, and he has no car waiting. He and Tipper get chased by the media for blocks as he refuses to comment.

AL GORE, NOBEL PRICE WINNER: No comment.

FOREMAN: It's a date. Oprah will campaign for the Obamarama in December. Politicians are debating whether she'll have any affect. The "raw read," hey, this is Oprah. She could probably affect the weather if she wanted to.

And a boost from a brothel. The Moonlight Bunny Ranch has been featured on the HBO series, "Cathouse." And now the owner says he is endorsing Ron Paul for president.

(on camera): This guy is even promising to help with the money. But there is no word yet on any fundraising events -- Anderson.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: I don't think that's going be endorsed.

Tom, thanks.

A reminder, more "Raw Politics" Wednesday night when the Republican presidential candidates face off at our second YouTube debate. I'm the host. The candidates will answer your questions. It starts at 8:00 p.m., Eastern, right here on CNN. It should be really interesting.

Up next on 360, an NFL player shot in his own home.

Plus a new message from Osama bin Laden. We're waiting for that.

And if you know what happened to this beauty queen -- well, there she is -- you would not believe that she is still smiling. The ugly details when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: In a moment, a brazen attempt -- a brazen attempt at sabotaging a Miss Universe contender. The old pepper spray in the evening gown trick. Will beauty triumph over beastly tricks?

We'll find out, but first Erica Hill joins us with a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, al Qaeda posted a banner on a radical Islamic Web site today, saying Osama bin Laden will soon release a new message. Now, that banner didn't say just when the message would surface, nor whether it would be on video or audiotape.

Based on past announcements, though, like this one, it's expected we could hear from bin Ladin within 72 hours, although it could be much sooner. Washington Redskins Safety Sean Taylor is in critical condition tonight after being shot at his Miami home early this morning. According to his lawyer, the 24-year-old football player was injured while trying to defend himself during an attempted robbery. His girlfriend and baby were home at the time with him. Police say they are looking now for an unknown suspect.

And the major stock markets tanked today, driven down by worries about the credit and mortgage market. The Dow fell nearly 238 points to 12743. The NASDAQ plunged 55. The S&P dropped 33 points.

Today's sell-off comes as online retailers are marking their official kick-off to the holiday shopping season. Cyber Monday is basically the online equivalent of Black Friday.

Seventy-two million consumers expected to shop online today. Nearly 75 percent of retailers, by the way, are offering special promotions at their Web sites.

Some analysts predict record cyber sales this year, up more than $700 million.

I couldn't shop; I was working.

COOPER: Do you buy a lot of stuff online?

HILL: You know, more and more I do, yes.

COOPER: Yes?

HILL: I like free shipping, though, when I buy online.

COOPER: Oh yes, that's what you go for?

HILL: I do. I go for the free shipping and the no tax, because if certain Web sites don't have a, you know, a base where you lived and you don't have to pay tax, either.

COOPER: Sorry.

HILL: I'm a bargain shopper, Anderson Cooper. I don't like to pay retail.

COOPER: All right. Erica, time for "The Shot." Shows just how ugly beauty pageants can get. We all know this. It's an age-old story.

Ingrid Marie Rivera, she beat 29 rivals to become Miss -- to become Puerto Rico's 2008 Miss Universe contestant. But behind that smile, there's a dark story here. Someone went to great lengths to try to stop her.

You cannot tell from the pictures. She looks amazing there. During the competition, Rivera broke out with hives on her face and her body. That's apparently because someone spiked her evening gowns and makeup with pepper spray. HILL: Nice.

COOPER: She managed to maintain her composure, as a true Miss Universe should...

HILL: Indeed.

COOPER: ... in front of the cameras and judges. But backstage, she had to strip off her clothes and apply ice bags to all the swelling.

HILL: Oh, my goodness.

COOPER: Yes. And in a news conference yesterday, she described the ordeal. She became a bit emotional, teary eyed. But she managed to keep a smile on her face. Today, police said they have opened an investigation.

HILL: Well, that compose, I suppose, is why she is wearing the crown and not...

COOPER: Absolutely.

HILL: ... the mean person who put the pepper spray on. But you know, this reminds me of oh, another beauty queen of days gone by. Tara Connor, Miss USA 2006. Do you remember? Here's a little refresher.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TARA CONNOR, MISS USA: I'm willing to do whatever it takes, not only given a chance to have time to better myself, but to better me as a Miss USA. And I plan on walking out of this the best Miss USA that you've ever seen.

And I promise you that...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Going to be the best darn Miss USA you've ever seen.

HILL: The best one you've ever seen. Of course, that news conference she held was after reports that she had been drinking underaged, dabbling in some other indiscretions.

Donald Trump, the pageant sponsor, though, let her keep that title, which there caused Tara to lose her composure. Now she's got a reality show on MTV. How about that?

COOPER: She does? What does she do on this reality show?

HILL: "Pageant Place," it's called. I don't know. I haven't been lucky enough to catch it. Maybe I can catch a marathon one of these weekends.

COOPER: It's not like that Tia Tequila person? Or Tila Tequila. HILL: I don't think she's looking or love, no. I don't think -- it's not quite as exciting.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: I'm not sure what Tia Tequila is looking for, other than some sort of rash. But -- yes.

HILL: Well then, maybe she should enter a pageant, and she could get a rash backstage. There you go.

COOPER: There you go. It all comes full circle.

Erica, thanks.

We want you to send us your "Shot" ideas or your pageant trauma stories. If you see some ugly beauty queen moments or some other great video, tell us about it: CNN.com/360.

Just ahead, the Republicans face off in Florida. In less than 48 hours, they'll be fielding your questions. I'll be hosting the CNN YouTube Debate. It's what's "On the Radar," when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: "On the Radar" tonight, your thoughts on the CNN YouTube Republican presidential debate, now less than 48 hours away. Set your watches.

Our Associate Producer Jack Ray (ph) is already in sunny St. Petersburg getting ready for the debate or just trying to get out of New York, we're not really sure. You can read about his prep work on the 360 blog.

Kelly in San Francisco, has this message for Jack: Don't rub it in, she says. It's cold here in northern California. I'm watching for how many times the candidates sigh, roll their eyes and look at their watches. OK, I'll listen to the questions too.

Well, Kelly, don't forget the stare down I'll be getting from the candidates wanting more face time. It's one of the special things about being on stage with them.

Pamina says: I think it's great that people have an opportunity to ask the candidates questions directly. It's the first election where I feel that we, the public, actually have to be paid attention by the candidates. Thanks for providing this opportunity and I can't wait for the debate on Wednesday.

Pamina, we cannot wait either. We think this is a great way for the voters to get involved and it's like living in Iowa or New Hampshire where everyone there seems like gets to meet the candidates.

Well, Marianne in Hartford, Connecticut, has a different idea. She writes: hey, maybe a better way of selecting a president would be if they all went on "Dancing with the Stars." The best hoofer gets to spend four years in the White House.

Hmmm. I think not.

To weigh in, go to CNN.com/360 and link to the blog.

For our international viewers, "CNN TODAY" is coming up next. Here in America, "LARRY KING" is coming up.

I'll see you tomorrow night.

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