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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Florida Girl Bullied after Sexting; Bullying: No Escape; Interview With Dr. Phil; Subpoenas Issued in John Edwards Probe
Aired October 6, 2010 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And thanks for watching, everyone.
Tonight, a 360 exclusive: a college student who is living through what you would probably a nightmare, targeted online and up close for attacks, called a Nazi, and, worse, singled out for his sexuality, not by an ordinary bully either, by a state law enforcement official, an assistant attorney general in Michigan.
He's kept quiet for months, but now he's speaking out tonight, only on 360, and you will hear why he's breaking his silence. We're "Keeping Them Honest."
Later: our continuing look at bullying and the kids who fall victim to it. We're going to profile a case of sexting turned bullying turned suicide.
And what you should know about your kids' online life, we will talk about that with Dr. Phil McGraw.
Also tonight, breaking news involving John Edwards, two-time presidential candidate who fathered a child out of wedlock with a woman he hired in his campaign, Rielle Hunter. Well, now there appears to be new legal action under way, subpoenas issued trying to find out if he used campaign money to cover up the affair. We have the latest on that.
We begin, though, tonight "Keeping Them Honest," as we always do, with a new development in what is one of the strangest stories we have ever covered.
Tonight, the target of that assistant attorney general in Michigan is breaking his silence, only on 360. His name is Chris Armstrong. He's a University of Michigan college senior. He's for months been targeted online and in person by this guy, Andrew Shirvell, an assistant attorney general for the state of Michigan.
Now, ever since Armstrong became Michigan's first gay student body president, Shirvell has been on the warpath, protesting at events where Armstrong appears, picketing outside of nightclubs that Armstrong has gone to, even videotaping outside his home.
Online, Shirvell set up an entire blog making unfounded allegations against Armstrong. He's labeled him a Nazi, a liar. He's even called Armstrong -- quote -- "Satan's representative on the student assembly." Now, after days of pressure on the attorney general to do something about his assistant attorney general, Andrew Shirvell took a voluntary leave, though he still has a job.
Campus police at the University of Michigan have barred him from setting foot on campus. Chris Armstrong has applied for an order of protection against Shirvell, and a hearing is set for the 25th of October.
Now, before you hear from Chris Armstrong, I want you to hear how Andrew Shirvell defends his own actions, as well as what his own boss, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, had to say about it when they both were on 360.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I have got to ask you, I mean, you're a state official. This is a college student. What are you doing?
ANDREW SHIRVELL, MICHIGAN ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, Anderson, basically, if you have been involved in political campaigns before, you know all sorts of stuff happens, and this is just another tactic bringing awareness to what Chris really stands for.
COOPER: This is not some national figure. This is a guy who's running a student council.
SHIRVELL: Well -- well, Anderson, as a private citizen, and as a University of Michigan alum, I care, because this is my university. And I wasn't the only first person to criticize Chris.
In fact, long before I started the blog, a couple of weeks before that, the Alliance Defense Fund, a well-known legal Christian foundation, put out an alert about Chris. So, I'm not the only person that has criticized Chris, and I'm not the first person to criticize Chris.
COOPER: But you are the only person -- you are the only person running this blog, which is putting Nazi swastikas on this guy. You're -- you're a grown adult. Does that seem appropriate to you?
SHIRVELL: Well, like I said, this is a political campaign. This is nothing personal against Chris. I don't know Chris.
COOPER: What do you mean it's nothing personal? You're outside his house. You're videotaping his house. You're shouting him down at public events. You're calling him Satan's representative on the student council. You're attacking his -- his parents, his friends' parents. I mean, you can't say it's not personal.
SHIRVELL: Well, Chris -- in any political campaign, you have to raise awareness and issues, and that's one way of doing it, is by protesting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, that's Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell, who, by the way, is not part of a political campaign. Neither is Chris Armstrong. He's already won.
Now, here is Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox on why he won't fire Shirvell, who we should also point out was a paid consultant on Cox's campaign in 2002, and also worked for the campaign in 2006.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Why is he still employed?
MIKE COX, MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, for a number of reasons.
Here in America, we have this thing called the First Amendment, which allows people to express what they think and -- and -- and engage in political and social speech.
And, more on point, the Supreme Court, both the United States Supreme Court in 1995 in a case called the U.S. vs. Treasury Employees said that civil service employees in the federal system, and, by extension, in the state system, have free First Amendment rights outside of the work, as long as it doesn't impact their performance of -- of -- at their job.
And Mr. Shirvell is sort of a front-line grunt assistant prosecutor in my office. He -- he does satisfactory work. And off-hours, he's free to engage, under both our civil service rules, Michigan Supreme Court rulings, and the United States Supreme Court rule -- interestingly enough, by -- Justice Stevens wrote the opinion -- to engage in free speech.
COOPER: But -- but aren't you empowered by the state civil service rules to discipline him for -- for conduct unbecoming a state employee? I mean, do you think his actions are unbecoming of a state employee?
COX: Well, his actions are offensive. But, you know, conduct unbecoming is one of those empty-vessel statements. What it means has never really been fleshed out.
COOPER: Do you think this is unbecoming?
COX: Certainly, it's unbecoming of civil discourse. It's unbecoming of common courtesy. And, you know, I -- quite frankly, I -- I -- I feel embarrassed for Mr. Armstrong, you know, that he has this unwanted attention.
But, again, Anderson, this is speech put on a blog. Now, if there's conduct that's verified, for instance, if a personal protection order was sought by Mr. Armstrong and granted in the Michigan civil service or a disciplinary code, we could start looking at things in terms of perhaps sending to an employee assistance program. (END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: What's interesting about that statement is that he, apparently, when he did that interview, was unaware that Chris Armstrong had sought a personal protection order back in mid- September. And he also unaware that the university had banned Mr. Shirvell from setting foot on campus in mid-September.
Also, two former attorney generals, including Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, who used to be an attorney general, says Mike Cox has ample discretion to discipline or fire Andrew Shirvell. But neither Governor Granholm, Mr. Cox or Andrew Shirvell would agree to come on the program tonight -- only Chris Armstrong.
And he came on really to talk not so much about himself, but about his concerns for all the young kids who have recently been committing suicide after being bullied.
I spoke to Chris earlier tonight.
COOPER: How are you holding up?
CHRIS ARMSTRONG, STUDENT ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: I think -- I have obviously been better. It's obviously been, like, a really big strain on, like, myself and my -- my friends and family.
COOPER: This has been going on for -- for months now.
ARMSTRONG: Yes. Yes, since -- since -- since March.
And I think, like, what's been really great is that, like, the University of Michigan and, like, a lot of my friends and family have been, like, really supportive the entire way through.
COOPER: When you first heard that this blog had been set up, I mean, what did you think?
ARMSTRONG: You know, obviously, it was -- it was hurtful.
COOPER: How did you hear about it? Someone told you about it?
ARMSTRONG: Yes. I had heard through friends. And some of my -- some individuals knew Mr. Shirvell and knew who he was. So, I had heard about it through them.
COOPER: Had you ever met him before?
ARMSTRONG: No. I had never spoken to him, never interacted with him, and still haven't really.
COOPER: How -- how do you hope this resolves?
ARMSTRONG: I think this is really just an opportunity. Like, I think this chance to really speak out and -- and say something, give a message to other kids who might be me -- be facing something, obviously not -- not as extreme, but, like, something you know, just, like -- like being heckled in a classroom, I think that, like, honestly I think that that's really what I -- I -- really, the most positive thing I can make out of the situation.
COOPER: When I talked to this man Mr. Shirvell, the assistant attorney general, he -- he kept saying that you were a radical activist.
So, I want to ask you about what your campaign was to get to be president of the student body at the University of Michigan. My understanding from my research was, you were talking about longer cafeteria hours. You were talking about gender-neutral housing, and I think maybe lower pay for -- for -- lower -- lower tuition costs.
ARMSTRONG: Yes. Those were a lot of the issues that we talked about.
COOPER: Hardly seems like a radical agenda.
ARMSTRONG: Yes, I guess so.
But I -- honestly, like, a lot of these issues really were, you know, like, I didn't start them. They had a lot of support and a lot of momentum behind them, and, you know, they had been longstanding issues on campus.
And I think I have been really happy to be able to serve as a voice for those issues.
Well, why are you speaking out now? I mean, you have been silent for a long time on this. And, obviously, you know, you have filed for an order of personal protection. That's still ongoing. Maybe you're contemplating a legal action. I'm not sure. But -- but why speak out now?
ARMSTRONG: I think, as I kind of mentioned, it's really been a personal issue in a lot of ways. You know, I have dealt with it.
Given what's happened in the past week, and given the suicides that have happened in the past, like, few weeks, it's been -- it's been -- I think it's hard not to say something. And...
COOPER: That's really what's motivating you to speak out now, the -- the suicides we have all been witnessing and reporting on?
ARMSTRONG: Mm-hmm. Right.
Yes. And I think -- like, I -- honestly, I didn't really ask to be put in this position in a lot of ways. And I didn't really...
COOPER: In just about all ways, you didn't ask to be put in this position.
But, you know, I felt that, like, seeing these kids, you know, like, feel they need to take their life, it's important to understand that things can get better, and it's important to know that you can reach out in your community. You can reach out to friends, and they can support you.
COOPER: What's happened to you has resonated, I mean, around the country. People have been following the story for a long time, but particularly the last couple of weeks.
And I have had people come up to me on the street. And the fact that it can happen not just to kids who are in high school, but also to -- to a young person in college or even to an adult or by an adult I think sort of stunned a lot of people.
Did it -- did it surprise you that you're out of high school, and yet you're suddenly in a position where, you know, you're being bullied in a completely unusual way by someone in a position of power?
ARMSTRONG: I think -- yes, I mean, I think it was certainly surprising.
And I honestly can't speak for a lot of the things that were said, because, you know, they weren't my words. And I -- again, like, I understand that, like, the things said about me are not my issues. Like, they're not things that sort of...
COOPER: You think it says more about the person doing it?
I think it's sort of the issue of bullying at large. Like, the things being said by -- about someone usually says more about the person who's saying them, rather than themselves.
COOPER: Well, you're remarkably strong, and I appreciate you speaking.
ARMSTRONG: Thank you.
COOPER: Chris Armstrong, student body president at the University of Michigan.
Let us know what you think about all this. Join the live chat. It's up and running right now at AC360.com.
Up next: breaking news, some new legal complications for John Edwards, new subpoenas issued -- the question apparently being investigated, did he use campaign money to pay off his mistress and hide the baby that he was lying about fathering with her?
Also tonight: leaked angry e-mails from Todd Palin to Joe Miller, a fascinating look at some bare-knuckle politics and a possible hint about Sarah Palin's presidential ambitions.
And, later: Dr. Phil on why cyber-bullies are often more harmful than bullies in schools.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. PHIL MCGRAW, HOST, "DR. PHIL": They don't see the pain in their victims' eyes. They don't see them cry. They don't see them hang their head or hurt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We have got breaking news tonight: new subpoenas from the North Carolina grand jury believed to be investigating former presidential candidate John Edwards.
Wade Smith, who is Mr. Edwards' attorney, told us -- quote -- "There have been a sizable number of subpoenas issued." He says, however, he does not know who issued subpoenas or to whom they were issued.
John Edwards, you will recall, hasn't been seen much since revealing first that he had had an affair with campaign videographer Rielle Hunter, and then earlier this year admitting that he had lied about not having fathered a child with her, and admitted he in fact did father a child with her.
Former aide Andrew Young has already talked to the grand jury. He tells the Associated Press that he testified about vast sums of money that changed hands to keep Ms. Hunter in hiding. Now, grand jury proceedings are supposed to be secret, of course, but, in practice, they're never airtight.
Joining us now, CNN producer Raelyn Johnson, who was embedded with the Edwards campaign, and legal analyst Sunny Hostin, an "In Session" anchor from our sister network truTV.
Raelyn, what do we know about what this investigation is? It's -- it's basically following the money trail that -- that may or may not have gone to Rielle Hunter.
RAELYN JOHNSON, CNN PRODUCER: Right.
So, the issue here with John Edwards is that he's -- he's still in trouble. And that's because his political action committee, One America, you know, because it's a PAC, it's -- it has to adhere to very strict federal regulations. And some of that involves what money goes in and out of those accounts. And it is illegal -- he illegally gave money, funneled money from his campaign through those PAC into payments to Rielle Hunter for her videographer services, which some say are -- were very expensive and not sort of not worth of quality of those videos.
COOPER: Right. I think there was a payment of $100,000 from his PAC to Rielle Hunter, and then later I think another payment of some $18,000 that they said were some -- were for some -- some old tapes.
JOHNSON: That's right.
COOPER: Andrew Young has said that a lot more money was funneled from other sources and from other donors...
COOPER: ... to -- to basically put Rielle Hunter in hiding and -- and her child in hiding. I think the child at that point was -- was unborn and then later was born.
I want to show one of the -- the Webisodes that Rielle Hunter was allegedly hired to -- to put together, because, I mean, they're sort of fascinating, because, clearly, there's a lot of chemistry between the two.
COOPER: And it's a side of John Edwards you don't normally see. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN EDWARDS (D), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: That is a great speech.
RIELLE HUNTER, VIDEOGRAPHER: I'm so glad you like it.
EDWARDS: I like it. Wait until you hear me give it live.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, that's all we have of it.
But, I mean, it's a beaming John Edwards. It's not the traditional John Edwards. Clearly, there's, you know, some sort of chemistry between these two.
Why now are we just hearing about these subpoenas? And why do we know so little about it, Sunny?
SUNNY HOSTIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, because the grand jury is secret, and it's supposed to be protected.
But we now know that there are subpoenas being issued. And -- and that's one of the things, Anderson, that I miss about being a prosecutor. I can't force anybody to talk to me now. But grand jury subpoena power is very serious. A prosecutor can force someone to -- to talk.
COOPER: And John Edwards himself cannot be subpoenaed for this?
HOSTIN: No, because you can't be really compelled to testify against yourself, because he's clearly the target of this investigation.
But these things take a long time. It's quite possible that these prosecutors are digging and digging and digging. They need to know the who, the what, the where, the when, not necessarily the why, and they need to find that out, and it's very difficult to prove a campaign fraud case, but they're obviously still on the case.
COOPER: Allegations were that two big donors to John Edwards had given money at -- I guess at his request to Rielle Hunter through -- through Andrew Young.
JOHNSON: Yes. Mm-hmm. Bonnie Mellon, and she's one of them, an old famous New York socialite and philanthropist.
COOPER: Right, I think wife or daughter of Paul -- of Paul Mellon...
COOPER: ... very, very rich man.
JOHNSON: Right. And then another prominent lawyer, a Fred Baron from Texas, who...
COOPER: And he passed away last year.
JOHNSON: Passed away literally -- to talk about the drama about this story, he literally passed away in the heat of, like, the Democratic Convention, just as John Edwards was being nailed again and on the cover of "The National Enquirer."
COOPER: And we see Rielle Hunter here with her team of attorneys going into -- I guess to the grand jury.
COOPER: This was probably last year.
JOHNSON: The first grand jury investigation.
Andrew Young has said there -- there was also a sex tape of these two that is now in the hands of the grand jury, that the grand jury had requested, that he -- I guess Rielle Hunter had, and then he got hold of.
And, I mean, it's such a bizarre story, that this man who was so close to running for president -- or who ran for president, was so -- could have theoretically gotten it, was at the time having an affair, and not only that he lied to the American public. When he made his confessional interview, he said that the child wasn't his. He basically lied in that confessional interview...
COOPER: ... and then later on said it was his.
Where does he -- do we know much about his life now?
JOHNSON: I think he lives a secluded life in North Carolina. He and Elizabeth -- Elizabeth Edwards do have a relationship with their children.
COOPER: They have separated, though.
JOHNSON: They have separated.
COOPER: After 30 years.
JOHNSON: And there's even been a -- you know, I talked to some sources tonight who even said that there's been a recent family vacation to Japan.
So, clearly, they're co-parenting. And I hear that Elizabeth Edwards is doing really strong, and has come to -- come to some sort of peace, whatever peace you can get.
JOHNSON: I don't know what you can -- about sort of the dissolution of her marriage.
We're going to continue to follow it.
Raelyn Johnson, appreciate it, Sunny Hostin as well. Thanks for coming in.
Still ahead on 360: We knew the Obama administration had underestimated the BP oil spill. We have been talking about that for months this summer. Well, today, the panel appointed by the president to investigate blasted the administration. We have details on that ahead.
Also, a fascinating e-mail sent by Sarah Palin's husband, Todd, blasting Joe Miller, the Republican -- the -- the Tea Party candidate she had supported for -- for Senate from Alaska for allegedly not endorsing Sarah Palin for president in a TV appearance. It's a leaked e-mail. It may provide a hint about Sarah Palin's presidential ambitions.
We will show you the e-mail and also the television appearance which prompted it. And, also, we continue our weeklong series on bullying -- tonight, cyber-bullying and text-bullying, how it led a Florida girl to take her own life.
We will also hear from Dr. Phil McGraw on what parents should know about kids' lives online.
COOPER: There is a really interesting story about leaked e-mails I want to talk about with you.
They involve the Senate candidate from Alaska Joe Miller and Todd Palin. Now, Mr. Palin says there's no story here, there's nothing to see, folks, just kind of move along.
But a leaked e-mail that he sent to Joe Miller and others hints at his sharp political teeth, and perhaps -- perhaps -- Sarah Palin's presidential ambitions.
The e-mail and one from Miller to his campaign associates followed a television appearance on "FOX News Sunday" where Miller, the Palin- supported nominee, obviously, was asked -- quote -- "Would you support her," meaning Palin, "for president?"
Take a look at his answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "YOUR WORLD WITH NEIL CAVUTO")
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Would you support her for president?
JOE MILLER (R), ALASKA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: You know, we have been asked that question before.
CAVUTO: Really? I'm surprised.
MILLER: There are a number of great candidates out there, including -- I have been, actually.
MILLER: But -- but we have had, you know, a number of people that have introduced their names as potential candidates in 2012.
Certainly, Palin is on the top of that ticket. You have got a number of folk that any one of which would be better than President Obama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, here's the e-mail that that appearance apparently triggered from Todd Palin to Joe Miller and others.
Quote: "Sarah put her ass on the line for Joe, and yet he can't answer a simple question: Is Sarah Palin qualified to be president? I DON'T KNOW IF SHE IS." The caps are his. Now, we should mention that, in the interview, as you saw, Joe Miller did not say those words, "I don't know if she is." Todd Palin later said that he had just been told that is what she said -- he said.
The e-mail goes on: "Joe, please explain how this endorsement stuff works. Is it to be completely one-sided? Sarah spent all morning working on a Facebook post for Joe. She won't use it, not now. Put yourself in her shoes, Joe, for one day."
So, three days later, Miller forwards this to his associates, adding -- quote -- "Just found this in my inbox. This is what we're dealing with." He goes on: "Note the date and the complete misconstruction of what I said. Holy cow."
So two things, it's a pretty rare look inside the Palin political operation, which appears to work, at least in this case, on a bit of a hair trigger at times, and a hint of perhaps Palin's presidential aspirations.
Let's talk about it with Tea Party supporter Dana Loesch, and Marc Lamont Hill, blogger, contributor to "The Root" online magazine and host of "Our World With Black Enterprise" on AOL.
Dana, it's interesting. One of the other interesting things about this is, it really does show Todd Palin's role kind of as enforcer, or close role, at least, with Sarah Palin.
DANA LOESCH, ORGANIZER, ST. LOUIS TEA PARTY COALITION: It does.
It's a really interesting tone that he takes, too, because I thought one of the narratives about the Palins was that they were supposed to have this really frosty marriage, and that they didn't care for each other, and that they weren't close.
And I think Todd Palin coming to his wife's defense kind of blows that out of the water a little bit.
COOPER: Marc, what do you make of this -- of this e-mail?
MARC LAMONT HILL, PROFESSOR OF URBAN EDUCATION AND AMERICAN STUDIES, TEMPLE UNIVERSITY: Well, first, it doesn't necessarily mean that. I mean, we have seen, with the Clintons, who are also reported to have this frosty sort of political relationships, they're also political assassins. And when they see their political dynasty in jeopardy, you know, they -- they -- they act on it.
I think what you see here with the Palins is a very similar kind of thing. I think they have a sense of entitlement. I think Sarah Palin strongly believes that she's the new leader of the Republican Party, and anyone who doesn't fall in line, she's going to check hard. And that's what we just saw here.
(CROSSTALK) COOPER: But, Marc, isn't it -- isn't it fair if -- if -- for -- to the extent to which Sarah Palin, you know, really put Joe Miller on the map and got the Tea Party Express to -- to put $600,000 behind him, and she appeared in an ad for him, isn't it fair in the world of kind of, you know, sharp-elbow politics to expect a little love in return?
And if -- if Joe had actually said that "I can't say that she's qualified to be president," that would be a very hard blow. But what was actually said is something far more ordinary in politics, which is that, "I'm not going to endorse a Republican nominee right now or a candidate right now, this early in the race, because I have a lot of dogs in the fight."
I think that was fairly ordinary. I think it was fine.
COOPER: Dana, what -- what else -- do you think this does indicate that Sarah Palin is, you know, at least seriously considering running for president?
LOESCH: Oh, definitely.
I think she's kind of tossing it around back and forth, deciding if she -- if she wants to run or not. But I also don't think we can pass judgment on what the Palins, what they were or were not thinking, because we don't know into what context these remarks were delivered to Todd Palin.
If he says that he was told that he heard Joe Miller disparaging Sarah Palin, then, of course. I mean, anyone in his right mind is going to come to their defense of their wife. I -- I just think it shows Todd Palin being kind of a stand-up guy. But I definitely do think that she's...
HILL: Not if you're doing...
LOESCH: ... she's considering something.
HILL: You know, I think, if you're doing big-league politics at this level, I mean, you do -- you don't just send an e-mail like that out. You have you a team. You have advisers.
LOESCH: Oh, yes. Everybody does it.
HILL: You actually investigate. You find out if it's true or not.
LOESCH: Oh, no.
COOPER: But the fact that it leaked out...
LOESCH: Well, no one -- no one -- no one even called Todd -- no one even called Todd Palin to say, hey, Todd, what -- did you -- what did you mean by this? What was behind this e-mail?
Nobody called Todd Palin. Everyone sort of like speculated, until he came out after the fact and said, "Hey, I had heard that there was a really disparaging remark," because if you look at the -- if you look at his remarks, he doesn't even quote Joe Miller accurately.
So, it does lend...
LOESCH: You have to admit, it does lend a little bit of -- of validity to that.
COOPER: Very briefly, I want to ask you about this other story.
Last night, on "JOHN KING, USA," Bob Woodward hinted that an Obama- Hillary Clinton ticket in 2012 was on the table. The White House batted it down today. So did -- so did sources close to Clinton.
What do you -- what do you think? Do you think it's possible, Marc?
HILL: No. I think it wreaks of desperation. Do I think it will be a stronger ticket? Absolutely. But I think that it wreaks of desperation. I think what the Democrats need to do instead of trying to replace the vice presidential slot, what they need to do is trumpet their victories. They need to do more on the domestic agenda to push what they've done successfully, which is a lot.
Otherwise they won't energize their base.
DANA LOESCH, ORGANIZER, NATIONWIDE TEA PARTY COALITION: Yes.
HILL: I think this move doesn't work.
COOPER: Dana, do you think it would energize the base? Do think it will get all those independents who may be looking at -- you know, the folks you like, the Tea Party?
LOESCH: Hmm, I don't know. I mean the Clintons do have a little bit more of a history of being a little bit more moderate than Obama does, but I totally agree with Mark. I want the Democrats to run on everything that they've passed. I think that does -- I think that would be a wonderful campaign strategy, especially considering how well health care has been polling lately.
COOPER: Mark, are you worried that Dana is agreeing on this?
HILL: Not that -- no, because Dana's thinking about the Tea Party spin on what the Democrats have done. I'm talking about a -- I'm talking about progress on jobs.
LOESCH: No, that's just the polls. HILL: I'm talking about a great HIV/AIDS agenda, I'm talking about education reform. There are a host of Democratic victories that people on the right don't acknowledge.
LOESCH: Oh, yes, I desperately --
HILL: What they do is they spin it, which is politically wise but it's just not accurate.
LOESCH: I desperately want to hear Democrats talk about vouchers.
HILL: You want the Tea Party re-mix to what the Democrats have done.
LOESCH: No, that's mainstream America. You can't just say it's like the Tea Party anymore. This is mainstream America.
HILL: People keep saying --
LOESCH: I desperately want Democrats to explain their stance on the voucher system.
COOPER: All right.
LOESCH: Please, let's run on that. I love it.
COOPER: We've got to go. Mark Lamont Hill, appreciate it. Dana Loesch, always good to have you on. Thanks.
LOESCH: Thank you.
COOPER: One other political note, with polling continuing to show the Democrats heading into a buzz saw at the ballot box next month, and critics are putting some of the blame obviously on President Obama -- a lot of the blame -- it was the topic A tonight on "PARKER/SPITZER." Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIMON SCHAMA, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY HISTORY PROFESSOR: He should have started firing people. He's loyal to a fault, doesn't understand that Americans actually respect people that have the guts to fire people. And he should have done that then. Michael is quite right about the --
ELIOT SPITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Who would you fire? Who do you fire?
SCHAMA: I'd fire Axelrod, who's a sweet guy. Wonderful, straight away. I would have said to Rahm Emanuel, let's all agree to --
SPITZER: The ax is coming down.
SCHAMA: Yes. (CROSSTALK)
KATHLEEN PARKER, CNN ANCHOR: Yesterday they fired Geithner, now Axelrod.
SCHAMA: Rahm Emanuel, they have a mistake about when are you going to be tough, when are you going to be -- you know, when the machine is really going to work? And it works in Congress. It eventually did the job it was supposed to.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You can see more tomorrow night, "PARKER/SPITZER" 8:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN.
Still ahead tonight, our in-depth look at bullying continues all weeklong. We're really devoting a lot of resources to this. As you know on Friday we're going to have a big town hall meeting.
This is Hope Witsell. Her story is just heartbreaking. She made a mistake that a lot of kids make. She's 13 years old, she texted a picture she shouldn't have texted, not expecting that this topless photo that she sent out meant only for her boyfriend would go viral.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHIL MCGRAW, HOST OF "THE DR. PHIL SHOW": Twenty-two percent of teenage girls say that they have e-mailed or texted a compromising picture of themselves. Most of them say they do it out of pressure from a boyfriend. But that once it's out there, you cannot unring that bell.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: All this week as you know we're partnering with "People" magazine, taking an in-depth look at bullying. It's -- in a moment we're going to talk with Dr. Phil McGraw about how bullying is happening not just in schools but online, and on cell phones, and kids are dying because of it.
And you know we've -- there's been a lot of focus on kids who are gay or perceived to be gay getting bullied, and that's important. But it's also important to point out that the problem goes far beyond just one group. I mean kids these days are bullied for all sorts of reasons -- being overweight, having a speech impediment, the clothes they wear, a hair cut -- anything.
Anyone can become a target and technology has really raised the stakes. I think that's what a lot of adults don't get. Technology today, being online, gives bullies new ammunition and also a way to torment their victims outside school of grounds, away from adults.
A text made a 13-year-old girl named Hope Witsell, a target for bullies at her Florida school, and the humiliation that her family says she felt made her think there was no other way out.
Here's Randi Kaye.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hope Witsell was a good student, but about a year ago Hope did something so unexpected, so out of character, it changed everything.
(On camera): Friends and family say this all started in the spring of 2009 at the end of the school year when Hope sexted a picture of her breasts to her boyfriend. Another girl at school they say got her hands on that photo and sent it to students at six different schools in the area.
Before Hope could do anything about it, that photo had gone viral.
DONNA WITSELL, HOPE'S MOTHER: And I just loved everybody.
KAYE (voice-over): Hope's mother, Donna, says she warned her many times about the dark side of cell phones and computers.
(On camera): So after all those conversations, you'd never imagine that she would sext a photo of herself to someone.
WITSELL: No. No. No. Absolutely not.
KAYE (voice-over): The photo made Hope a target. She was in middle school, 11, 12 and 13-year-olds, and suddenly bullies everywhere.
KAYLA STITCH, HOPE'S FRIEND: They would walk up to her and call her like a big slut and whore, and my -- they would -- sometimes they would like call her skank and like, just be really, like, cruel to her.
KAYE: Hope hid her pain from her family and school officials. They knew about the photo but she never told them about the ridicule. And she couldn't escape it. Online, friends say bullies wrote horrible things about Hope.
On a MySpace page called "The Shields Middle School Burn Book," anonymous bullies created a "Hope Hater" page to taunt her.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every time I see it I think back to Hope and what people were saying about her.
KAYE: And it got worse. In school friends formed a human shield for her.
LEXI LEBER, HOPE'S FRIEND: People would try to come by and like hit her or push her into a locker or something.
KAYE (on camera): So you walked as a -- like a crowd?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
KAYE: Protecting her.
LEBER: She was, like, afraid to walk alone because she was afraid that somebody was going to do something to her, or like verbally attack her, so we always -- so she'd always have somebody come with her.
KAYE (voice-over): Her parents did not know what was going on.
(On camera): Did you see a change in her behavior? Could you tell something wasn't quite right?
WITSELL: I could tell that she was struggling to overcome this mistake that she made.
KAYE (voice-over): On a Saturday, as school was starting last year, Hope helped her dad mow the lawn, ate dinner with her parents and then went upstairs to her room. Her parents turned on a TV show.
WITSELL: When we had finished watching the program, and I went upstairs to go in her room and kiss her good night, like I always do, is when I found her.
KAYE (on camera): What happened when you walked in her bedroom?
WITSELL: I -- I screamed for my husband as I was putting her on the bed. And doing CPR.
KAYE (voice-over): It was too late. Hope was already dead. The 13- year-old hanged herself from her canopy bed. She used her favorite scarves.
(On camera): The day before she died Hope met with a social worker at school. A spokesperson for the school said the social worker was concerned that Hope may have been trying to harm herself, so she had her sign what's called a "no harm" contract in which Hope promised to speak to an adult if she was considering hurting herself.
Her mother told me she was never told about that contract. She found it crumpled in the garbage in Hope's bedroom after she had died.
(Voice-over): The school told us that the social worker had tried calling Hope's parents, but the parents say the school dropped the ball. And still, incredibly, the bullying was not over.
After Hope's suicide, her sister Samantha found more cruel comments posted on Hope's MySpace page.
SAMANTHA BEATTIE, HOPE'S SISTER: There was people putting comments on there like, oh, my god, did Hope really kill herself, I can't believe that whore did that, you know, just obscene things that I would never expect from a 12-year-old or a 13-year-old.
KAYE: Obscene things written by children. So terrible, Hope Witsell thought there was only one way to escape.
Randi Kaye, CNN, Tampa, Florida. (END VIDEOTAPE)
COOPER: And only one way to escape. You can see how she might have felt that way, especially to a young person experiencing what she did.
Earlier I talked to Dr. Phil McGraw about how all pervasive bullying has become as a result of the way kids live online.
COOPER: Dr. Phil, I don't think parents understand just how accessible kids are now to being bullied. I mean it's not just in schools now, it's online, it's -- you know, it's on their mobile devices. And with physical or verbal bullying, there's -- you know, there's someone around. There's a witness. Maybe even adults or somebody who can help.
But if a kid is being bullied on the Internet, in their bedroom, you know, they're unprotected. They're alone.
MCGRAW: Well, they truly are alone, Anderson and, of course, we know that the number one tool of the abuser is isolation. If they can isolate their victim, their power goes up so much.
And one of the things about Internet that we don't think about is one kid can take on 10 identifies and bombard another child, and the child thinks that it's everybody at school that's after them when in fact it may just be one kid that's picking on them and taking on all these false identities on the Internet.
COOPER: Yes. There's a lot of Web sites I think adults don't even know about. I just learned about this one Form Spring, which a lot of kids tell me is a place where a lot of kids get bullied because there's a lot of anonymous postings.
There also seems to be just a level of cruelty and sort of lack of empathy that we're seeing with cyber bullying that's even worse in some cases than face to face.
MCGRAW: It is worse, and I tell you, I call them keyboard bullies because they are able to get anonymously on the Internet. They don't have to look their victim in the face, so they don't get any cues. They don't see the pain in their victim's eyes, they don't see them cry, they don't see them hang their head or hurt.
And so that feeds into a lack of empathy. And by doing this digitally, they just don't have the brake that the might be pumping if they saw what it was doing to the kid that they were victimizing here.
So I'm not only concerned about the lack of empathy and anonymity that the Internet offers, I'm also concerned about the fact that it can follow the child home.
You know, if you're at school, you get away from your bully and go home, you're safe, right? That's not the case. They can be back there in their bedroom at 10:00 and somebody is pounding on them through a chat room, whether it's Form Spring, MySpace, Facebook. They can be pounding on them at home and their parents don't even know it.
COOPER: And I mean I think about Hope Witsell, you know, this girl who killed herself after texting a boy a naked photograph of herself, or at least a topless photograph of herself. And even on -- even in death she was bullied on a memorial page.
And we've heard that in numerous cases of kids who -- you know there has been a Facebook memorial page and people post just horrible things on the memorial page.
MCGRAW: How terrible is that? Because you know that the parents go to a memorial page because they want to share, they want to have this bond, this union with the people that loved their child. And then they have these people on there that are doing this sort thing. They're saying these horrible things that they're glad they're dead. And that's just got to break a parent's heart.
And you know, you brought up something so important, Anderson. Twenty-two percent of teenage girls say that they have e-mailed or texted a compromising picture of themselves. Now most of them say they do it out of pressure from a boyfriend. But that -- once it's out there, you cannot unring that bell.
And as part of controlling this Internet bullying and Internet exploitation, we have to teach our kids, look, don't do this stuff. Because once you do that, you can't get it back, and you lose control of it.
COOPER: Yes. That's really when the bullying with Hope began, after that picture, which she sent to one boy, was widely distributed.
You know, I guess for parents, though, where do you draw the line between virtual spying on your kids, you know, reading all their online posts and trying to read their texts, and being vigilant and watchful? You know, there's nothing -- you can't -- you can't do it all.
MCGRAW: Well, no, you can't, but look. We do have to get involved. It's not just a matter of spying, it's a matter of protection.
And here's the thing. Children have the knowledge to use the Internet. They know how to navigate around. They know how to get into chat rooms. They know how to make pictures, images and send them. They have the knowledge.
What they don't have is the wisdom.
COOPER: The other component of this is of course is schools, and some schools are kind of unsure how to get involved if cyber bullying is involved because it's not happening necessarily, you know, on school campus.
What do you think they can do to try to monitor or help stop the problem? MCGRAW: Well, you know, first off, I think that what the schools have to do is not worry about jurisdictional lines. I mean these are their kids. They're the members of their school community.
I think the first thing they need to do is make it part of the curriculum. We need to not just have a talk, it needs to be an ongoing dialogue. It needs to be made part of their curriculum where they teach kids, here's the downside of sexting, here's the downside of sending out photos, here's the downside of bullying someone, and here's what to do if it's happening to you.
We cannot expect these kids to just know this stuff by osmosis. We have to tell them, then we have to tell them again then we have to tell them again.
COOPER: Dr. Phil McGraw, appreciate it. Thanks.
MCGRAW: Anderson, thank you so much.
COOPER: Well, tomorrow our "Bullying, No Escape" series continues with a complicated case. You've probably heard about the case of Phoebe Prince. Her suicide has gotten a lot of attention. Phoebe was 15 when she hanged herself. She was from Ireland. She'd recently moved to Massachusetts and she was allegedly bullied relentlessly.
New details suggest that what happened to Phoebe may have been more nuance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMILY BAZELON, SENIOR WRITER, SLATE.COM: A narrative had emerged of a pack of mean kids who had really tormented Phoebe Prince for months, and that reality doesn't match.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The truth is much more complicated.
BAZELON: It's much more complicated. Exactly.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, Massachusetts has one of the toughest anti-bullying laws in the country, six students from Phoebe's school are about to go on trial on charges related to her death. So are those charges warranted? We're going to take a look at that tomorrow.
Phoebe's case raises complex questions about the line between behavior that's bad and behavior that's criminal. We'll take an in-depth look tomorrow.
And on Friday, our hour-long special "Bullying, No Escape" done in partnership with "People" magazine and Cartoon Network. Hope you'll join us for that.
Up next, dangerous weather in the west. I don't know if you saw this. At least two tornadoes hit Arizona, causing injuries, derailing of train, damaging more than 100 homes. We've got some remarkable pictures.
And a man attacked by a bear. His wife made a desperate call to 911 for help.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is curled up and -- he's -- oh, god, his head is all bashed in.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Let's update you on some other stories we're following. Randi Kaye joins us with the "360 News and Business Bulletin". Randi?
KAYE: Anderson, tornadoes struck near Flagstaff, Arizona, today. At least two touched down and caused a lot of havoc. A local sheriff said more than 100 homes and RVs sustained damages.
And 28 cars on a freight train were knocked off the tracks. At least seven people were injured, although none seriously.
Hungary is cleaning up what one official calls an ecological catastrophe. A wall burst at a chemical storage reservoir on Monday releasing a flood of toxic red sludge into three communities and a nearby river. At least four people are dead, six missing. More than 100 injured.
A report by a panel investigating the BP oil spill accuses the White House of severely underestimating the amount of oil that spilled into the Gulf of Mexico and refusing back in April to publicly release the possible worst-case scenario of more than 100,000 barrels leaking every day.
In response, the Obama administration says the public was adequately warned of worse-case scenarios.
A Washington state man has survived a black bare attack. Bellevue City councilman John Chelminiak was walking the family dog when he was mauled in the face and upper body last month at his vacation home. He lost his left eye in that attack. A relative called 911. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is curled up, and -- he's -- oh, god, his head is all bashed in.
UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: Where's the bear now?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he's -- John? John? Wait.
UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: Where is the bear now?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't see him. He was at the door and I scooted him away.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: Incredible story there. The bear was tracked down in the end and killed, Anderson, by Fish and Wildlife agents.
COOPER: Wow. That's such a bizarre story.
Tonight's shot, beside those tornadoes we told you about, there was another rough weather -- there's other rough weather in Arizona, including a freak hailstorm. Mike Watkis from CNN affiliate KTVK reported from the thick of it. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE WATKIS, KTVK REPORTER: Look at this, look at this. Those pellets of hail are falling like bullets now. This is painful to be out here. And you could see -- look at all the water. That's just in a matter of minutes.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: You know --
COOPER: Makes you glad you're not out there, doesn't it?
KAYE: Yes. There are some reporter that would cover that story from the car, but not -- not Mike Watkis. A pretty good showing by Mike Watkis. We'll give him that.
COOPER: Yes. Absolutely.
KAYE: But, Anderson, you've done your share of stormy live shots. Does this bring back some memories? Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Even during that piece it's very almost difficult to stand at times. You really have to push yourself into the wind. I definitely think the winds are a little bit stronger right now. We -- I've got some videos to show -- man.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I was standing (ph). What was I doing? Just get out of the wind.
KAYE: Yes, Mike Watkis. He didn't got nothing on you, A.C.
COOPER: Yes. I know. That was -- that was that one summer there were, like, so many hurricanes I feel like we were just doing it all the time.
KAYE: You were.
KAYE: You absolutely were, you were everywhere. That was Hurricane Ivan, if you're keeping track, hitting Florida back in 2004, and a year later, I'm sure you recall Hurricane Wilma.
COOPER: I remember this one. Yes.
KAYE: Remember Wilma?
KAYE: She blew into Florida.
COOPER: With John Zarrella.
KAYE: You and John Zarrella were in the thick of it. You can't forget this one.
COOPER: All right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: This is probably the worst that we have seen, really in the last minute or so. The -- this is really bad.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This sand will just peel the skin off you.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's one of those things like you're on for 12 hours and you're left with nothing left to say like, remember when 10 hours ago when I said it was really windy? Well now it's really windy.
KAYE: It's really windy. I love how -- if you look at that video, John is holding on to something.
KAYE: And you're just standing there --
COOPER: Well, later I don't remember --
KAYE: Blowing in the wind.
COOPER: But like a sign or something flew off and John, like, grabbed me and pulled me out. I'll never forget that. It was -- yes. That was --
KAYE: Saved you.
COOPER: Yes. I know. Do I still have to do that kind of stuff?
KAYE: You do. COOPER: I think I do. Yes.
KAYE: You do.
COOPER: We've just been lucky, we haven't -- we haven't had those.
KAYE: I'd like to get you and Watkis out there together. The kind of magic you can create.
COOPER: For hail, I don't go out in hail. That hurts. Hail hurts.
KAYE: Yes. That's true.
COOPER: Wind, I can deal with.
All right, Randi, that was a really moving piece also on Hope Witsell. I appreciate you doing that.
KAYE: Thank you.
COOPER: It couldn't have been an easier report to do. Appreciate it.
A lot more ahead at the top of the hour starting with the "360" exclusive. Chris Armstrong speaking out for the first time about being targeted, singled out for attack by a state law enforcement official. An assistant attorney general in Michigan. He didn't even know why when it began.