Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Peddling Pedophilia; Double Talk?
Aired November 11, 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: Good evening, everyone. Thanks for watching.
Tonight, profiting from pedophilia. Amazon.com, after our report last night, they pulled a guide for pedophiles that they've been peddling. But as we will show you, today, they were still selling other pro-pedophile books and they're ducking our calls for answers.
John Walsh with "America's Most Wanted" joins us. We're keeping them honest.
Also tonight, new and troubling revelations in President Bush's memoir: Senator Mitch McConnell requesting a one-on-one with the president in 2006, allegedly asking him to pull troops out of Iraq to save the elections for Republicans. But publicly, McConnell was very much behind the war efforts.
Was he playing politics with war? We're keeping them honest.
And later: how much say should the government have over what you feed your kids? McDonald's in San Francisco are being told to take the toys out of Happy Meals that don't meet new nutritional guidelines.
Dr. Phil joins us on that. He says it's up to parents, not politicians, to police kids' diets. What do you think? We'll talk about it.
We begin, though, as always "Keeping Them Honest" -- with Amazon.com profiting from pedophilia. Now, last night we told you about a book being sold by Amazon.com, a guide for pedophiles. It's a disgusting self-published e-book that Amazon had been offering since late October. Now, around the time our broadcast was done last night, we checked and Amazon had suddenly pulled the book from their Web site. We thought, OK, the story is over.
But then today, we looked closer at what else Amazon.com is selling. We were amazed at what we found. We're going to tell you about in a second.
First, this is the book that we told you about last night. It's called "The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: A Child Lover's Code of Conduct." It's hard to even say all these words. It's written by a man named Phillip Greaves. And on Amazon, he described it this way, the misspellings by the way are his, quote, "This is my attempt to make pedophile situations safer for those juveniles that find themselves involved in them, by establishing certain rules for these adults to follow. I hope to achieve this by appealing to the better nature of pedosexuals with hope that their doing so will result in less hatred, and perhaps liter -- spelled wrong -- sentences should they ever be caught."
Now, I read the book and it's incredibly disturbing. Mr. Greaves gives advice to pedophiles about what kind of touching and kissing and fondling of children is legal, how far they can go without getting arrested. He also tells pedophiles that if they're disease-free, they don't have to use a condom with a child.
Mr. Greaves was clearly thrilled to be in business with Amazon.com and wants his book to not only help pedophiles but also change people's attitudes about them.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP GREAVES II, AUTHOR, "THE PEDOPHILE'S GUIDE": Every time you see them on televisions they're either murders, rapists or kidnappers, and, you know, that's not an accurate presentation of the -- that particular sexuality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, plenty of people had complained to Amazon.com. Plenty of customers sent angry e-mails for days, for weeks, saying they shouldn't sell this book. But for days, Amazon refused to budge. They said they don't believe in censorship. They clearly changed their mind last night. And as we said, the company removed that book from its Web site.
But this morning, we discovered that Amazon.com was still selling another pro-pedophilia book by that same guy, Phillip Greaves. It's called "Our Gardens of Flesh: From the Seeds of Lust to the Harvest of Love." Harvest is spelled is wrong. Clearly, he's not a great speller, among other things.
The book has similar content as the other book. And, in fact, some of it is exactly the same content as his guide for pedophiles. It even has a section called "Consensual Pedophilia."
Now, all day long, we tried to contact Amazon.com, and tell them about this other book. They thought, look, maybe they didn't know about it. But they refused to take our calls and they refused to call us back.
And it turns out Mr. Greaves isn't the only person selling pro- pedophilia-related books on Amazon.com. There's also a book we found called "Understanding Loved Boy and Boy Lovers" by somebody named David Riegel. Now, I haven't read this one, but it describes itself as containing stories of adults who loved boys, arguing that these interactions can actually be good for the children.
They also sell another book by the same guy, the guy named David Riegel, and that one is titled, "We Were Not Abused!" -- exclamation mark. It also claims an adult having a sexual experience with a child can be good for the child. Quote, "Children exposed to premature sexual experiences with adults," the author writes, "frequently turn out to be is distinguished and unusually charming and attractive in their outward personalities," he writes, citing what he claims was a scientific study from 1937.
So, why are these books still for sale?
Now, originally, Amazon said they didn't want to censor. And we can all understand that. A freedom of speech is vital in this country. I mean, who wants some company deciding what we can and cannot read.
However, Amazon does censor some things. We checked their own policy. Here's their content guidelines for digital publishing that we found on their Web site.
The policy says, "Pornography, X-rated movies, home porn and hard-core material that depict graphic sexual acts and amateur porn are not permitted."
They also say they won't offensive material and they defined that as, quote, "What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect. This includes items such as crime scene videos, videos of cruelty to animals, and extremely disturbing materials." So, let me repeat that, extremely disturbing materials they say they won't publish.
Now, we wanted to talk to Amazon about their policy and tell them about these books. So, we started calling them last night around 6:00 p.m. We made a bunch of phone calls asking for a statement, an explanation. We just wanted to talk to some human being. We left lots of messages last night. They never called us back.
Now, remember, the only statement Amazon has ever made about this was to the Web site "Business Insider," and they were talking about that first book. In read in part, that statement read, "Amazon believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable. Amazon does not promote or support hatred or criminal acts, however, we do support the right of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions."
So, they clearly have now reversed themselves on Mr. Greaves' book. And as I mentioned, they took it down last night. But what about those other books?
As I said, all day today -- not just last night -- all day today, we tried to talk to someone at Amazon. We literally made dozens of phone calls, and we kept being directed to the media hotline which no one answers. So, then, we just continued to leave messages.
Then we decided to actually send our Seattle reporter, Patrick Oppmann, to Amazon headquarters, hoping, all right, maybe someone would talk to us on camera.
Here's what happened:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN ALL PLATFORM JOURNALIST: I'm looking for Amazon.com?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You what?
OPPMANN: Looking for Amazon.com.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, this is it.
OPPMANN: I'm in the right place? Here's m name, I'm with CNN. I was trying to reach somebody in your guys' media relations department?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we're not allowed to have media in here.
OPPMANN: I'm in the lobby of the Amazon.com head quarters in Seattle. It's been about an hour. I got here. They wouldn't let me past security. They did send up my business card to the media relations department.
I haven't heard any word back. I'm going to check again before I leave. But really, I've just been waiting here for someone to come out and talk to us.
Yes, it's been about an hour. Is there a way to check with them again to see if, you know, they'll talk to me or not?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I left the message with my boss and that's the only thing that I can do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: All right. So, Patrick waited two hours, never saw anyone from the Amazon PR office. But just after that, after he left, after 6:00 -- about 6:00 p.m. tonight, we finally got a call from Amazon.com, a guy named Drew Herdener, a spokesman for the company.
And all he would say on the record was that Mr. Greaves' guide book for pedophiles was pulled from the site. That's the book we were talking about last night. The book we knew was pulled from the site because we checked it after our show. We asked him, what about the other book written by Mr. Greaves with similar content? He said no comment.
We also asked him about their guidelines for what books they will sell. He had no comment.
We wanted to know who actually screens these books, who looks at them. No comment.
And we asked him, what about all the people who now want to boycott Amazon? As you might have guessed, he said no comment.
So, 24 hours after we tried to get a statement from Amazon, we finally hear from them, from one guy and they didn't really have much to say.
Now, in case you might think that Amazon just doesn't have many people in their PR office, when it's a story they want to talk about, they seem very able to get their message out. Their PR office isn't this slow when they want to promote something.
Take a look at this stuff. When they want to sell you something -- earlier this month, they sent out six press releases in one single day, announcing everything from launching a sports and outdoors store to the hiring of holiday workers.
By the way, an hour after we talked to that Amazon PR guy at 6:00 p.m., we noticed that they suddenly stopped selling Mr. Greaves' other book, "Gardens of Flesh," the one we asked them about. As for the other books that we've also discovered, they're still for sale.
John Walsh, the host of "America's Most Wanted," has made it his mission to change the way America protects kids. His own son Adam, of course, was abducted and murdered in 1981. I spoke to him moments ago about the Amazon controversy.
COOPER: No one wants censorship in this country, but to be selling a book, a pro-pedophilia book, numerous numbers of these books that give encouragement to pedophiles, that justify pedophilia, doesn't that endanger kids?
JOHN WALSH, HOST, "AMERICA'S MOST WANTED": It absolutely endangers kids. What makes this country great are our freedoms -- freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of press. We're all about freedom of press.
But when you give someone a platform to talk to other pedophiles, to teach them how to exploit children, how to hurt children, and how to mitigate the punishments, how to get away with it, that would be encouraging the guy who kidnapped Elizabeth Smart and, you know, here's how you can get away with it and keep a 14-year-old girl out on the streets longer.
COOPER: This one book by this guy, Greaves, which they've now pulled, basically said, look, you don't have to use a condom. If you're disease-free, you don't have to use a condom with a child. It also went on to explain what kind of touching, fondling and even kissing of a child would not get you arrested.
WALSH: It's disgusting. And I'm really, really appalled that Amazon didn't saddle up and make that moral decision. It's not about freedom of press, it's about not giving other pedophiles the ability to learn how to avoid enforcement and exploit a child.
I know that they took it off probably because people did the right thing and said, we're going to boycott Amazon. There will be a financial penalty here for publishing -- or selling this book.
COOPER: And we found this other book by the same author that was on the Web site all day today. They only removed it an hour after we told them about it, when they finally called us back after 24 hours of trying to reach them, and there's still other books out there on this -- on this Web site which are encouraging pedophiles, which are stories of, you know, adult/child -- they call them relationships but I mean, it's rape.
WALSH: It's illegal. It's illegal. It's immoral. It is a judgment call by someone as big as Amazon to say -- even if they just said this, what if someone buys this book, they molest a child, the cops find this book in the house, and then the parents decide to sue the pedophile and Amazon.
All of those financial reasons are an incentive enough not to do it. But why didn't they do it just for the right reasons? The right reasons.
COOPER: Right. They had hundreds of e-mails for days from customers saying, look, this is outrageous, you can't do this. They only pulled this thing last night an hour -- basically by the end of our broadcast last night, suddenly they pulled it. Who knows what they'll do tonight.
But, you know, we wanted to ask them, what is the screening process? Because these are -- in a lot of cases, self-published books. These aren't great works of literature by an author. These are just guys who have written these creepy books.
WALSH: Not credible research, not something that is productive to society. And again, it is nothing to do with the rights or civil rights or freedom of speech or anything.
COOPER: You have a right to write whatever book you want to write. A company, though, doesn't necessarily have to sell it.
WALSH: Or facilitate --
COOPER: It's a choice, or make money, profit off it.
WALSH: Or make money off of it.
COOPER: They're profiting off these books by about pedophilia. I'm amazed, too, that they are staying completely silent on this.
This is a company which is very good at getting their CEO on television. You know, I think he's been on "Oprah" and other shows. They sent us six press releases in one day recently promoting various things. It's not like they don't have a lot of people in their PR department.
WALSH: Yes, the PR machine. Absolutely. And why not respond to you and say, why did it take you so long?
COOPER: The author of this book talked to a reporter yesterday. I just want to play you what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREAVES: Every time you see them on television, they're either murderers, rapists or kidnappers. And, you know, that's just not an accurate presentation of the -- such -- that particular sexuality.
(END VIDEO CLIP0
COOPER: He's basically, you know, saying that pedophiles are misunderstood.
WALSH: Somebody explain to me how it's right or an equal power base between a 50, 45, or 25-year-old man and a 5-year-old boy or 6- year-old or 5-year-old little girl. Where is the equal power base?
COOPER: And in all these books, which I've now read several of them today, I mean, they're disgusting. But they al justify this. They all say that the child wants it or is initiating it, or in many cases, some of these books that are just still on the site are saying it is good for the child.
WALSH: How could that possibly be? Recently, over 100,000 victims of pedophilia of Catholic priests tried to get an audience with the Pope and to a person they said, that exploitation by that pedophile priest destroyed my life -- suicide, alcoholism, inability to have a sexual relationship with a man or a woman. It is a devastating, no-equal power base crime. And how anybody can justify it.
But I've been catching these guys for years. This narcissistic attitude that they are a victim of society, there's only one victim here. It's the child.
COOPER: John Walsh. Thanks.
COOPER: Well, let us know what you think about this. Join the live chat right now at AC360.com.
Ahead: another online controversy. We hear about kids being trafficked for sex in this country -- well, tonight, what happened to one young girl, a teen sold for sex. Her own mom found ads for her on the Internet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They showed her face, it was in a hotel room. And she had on lingerie and a wig. She was in very sexual positions.
AMBER LYON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And how old was your daughter?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was 14.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Fourteen years old.
Plus, the bombshell in former President Bush's new memoir. He says Senator Mitch McConnell asked him to withdraw some troops from Iraq for political gain before the 2006 elections.
Tonight, though, we checked the record. We'll show you what the senator was actually saying publicly at the time, we can compare the two. Is it hypocrisy? You can decide for yourself.
We're keeping them honest.
COOPER: All right. Another "Keeping Them Honest" report tonight. This one is about a United States senator who seemed to say one thing publicly, but privately may have been saying something completely different.
Now, I know you may be saying, yes, so what? This is what politicians do all the time, right? And that's probably true. But rarely do you have a senator being accused of double-speak by a former president of the United States from the same political party. That's what's happening right now.
The senator in question is Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
Now, back in 2006, before President Bush started the so-called "surge" in Iraq, McConnell was accusing Democrats of endangering America because some of them were calling for withdrawal of U.S. troops in Iraq.
Listen to what he was saying publicly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: The Dean Democrats were in charge, Saddam would still be in power, murdering his own people like he used to.
I think this is a particularly bad time to be sending the message to the terrorists in Iraq that we might be thinking of running just when they're running. And we're having considerable success in catching them and killing many of them.
If we cut and run in Iraq, they'll follow us here. And we need to remind the American people that the terrorists were at war with us before 9/11.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
COOPER: So, publicly saying no so-called cut and run, that's Senator McConnell's public message in 2006. And now, former President George W. Bush claims in his memoir "Decision Points," that McConnell actually asked him to pull some troops out of Iraq to boost the GOP's chances in the 2006 chances.
Here's what he writes about a meeting he had with McConnell in September of 2006, the same month the last quote was from, by the way -- two months before the midterm election. "'Mr. President,' he said, 'your unpopularity is going to cost us control of the Congress.' 'Well, Mitch,' I asked, 'what do you want me to do about it?' 'Mr. President,' he said, 'bring some troops home from Iraq.'"
Bring some troops home. That is clearly much different message that what McConnell was saying on TV months earlier and even that same month, and now, at the time, he spoke with President Bush privately, he reportedly did not know Mr. Bush was considering the surge.
A little more context about the debate: as you may recall, the troop surge began in January of 2007. That announcement came four months after McConnell have this talk with President Bush.
Now, later in his memoir, the former president talks about a confession of sorts from the Kentucky Republican. Mr. Bush writes, "Led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who supported the surge after I announced it and graciously later admitted to me he had been wrong to suggest a withdrawal."
Well, we reached out to McConnell's office, of course, to see if he would be on the program tonight, he declined. His press secretary did release a statement saying, "The senator does not comment on any political advice he may have to give -- or he may have given the president." He goes on to say, quote, "But the public record is clear on his unwavering support for ensuring that our troops in the field were fully funded and that General Petraeus was able to execute our counterinsurgency strategy on the ground in Iraq free of arbitrary deadlines for withdrawal even when it was politically unpopular to do so."
So, keeping them honest, that statement doesn't really address why McConnell may have been saying one thing publicly and according to president, was saying something completely differently, privately -- if President Bush is correct in his book -- advising the opposite. Not just for strategic reasons at all but for political reasons.
Senator McConnell now finds himself under fire in his home state of Kentucky. The "Courier Journal" newspaper published an editorial titled, "McConnell's True Colors." In it, the editor has asked, "Why does he place greater value on that purely political goal than on American citizens' well being?"
Joining me now is Cornell Belcher, Democratic strategist and campaign pollster in 2008, and Dana Loesch, Tea Party organizer, as well as editor of BigJournalism.com, and radio host in Louis, at KFTK 97.1 FM.
You have a busy schedule, Dana.
DANA LOESCH, TEA PARTY ORGANIZER: I do.
COOPER: Cornell, if President Bush's account of what happened is accurate and Senator McConnell, you know, but his office basically isn't denying that -- what does that say about him?
CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It's really an amazing story. I mean, only the story you just covered as troublesome as this story is -- I mean, because at the same time he was attacking Democrats, he was, you know, he was behind the scenes talking -- telling Bush that we need to cut troops for political purposes. Apparently, it's OK to cut and run for political purposes.
I mean, it really is kind of -- it really is kind of outrageous and it is sort of the sum of all voters' fears that in Washington, people really are cutting deals for purely political purposes that have life and death consequences. I mean, voters always fear this sort of thing is going on, but this is the first time we've got a president coming out and sort of saying it as a first account that this is actually what happened. I mean, it is the sum of all voters' fears and why they're so cynical about politicians in Washington.
COOPER: Dana, Democratic Kentucky Congressman John Yarmuth says and I quote, and again, this is from a Democrat -- so, he says, "If the story is true, Senator McConnell will have to explain to the families of all the men and women who sacrificed in Iraq why he was willing to play politics with their lives." Is that fair?
LOESCH: Well, yes and no. First of all, I think that there are several things at play here. I think Mitch McConnell has heinous, heinous political instincts. I don't think that he should ever ascend beyond the office which he is lucky enough to currently hold.
But aside from that, there's a big difference with saying that you're going to withdraw a few troops, and then to wave the flag and call for a full-on retreat. He didn't call for retreat. He didn't say let's just withdraw entirely. He said let's pull out a few troops.
And I don't think that it's any different than what any other politician in Washington, D.C. has done. I think that they -- quite honestly, I think that our men and women in uniform are regularly used as political pawned by both members of both parties, and it's one reason I just don't like either party.
But the bottom line is that we've seen -- with the defense appropriation bill, the one that was in December of 2009, you had -- you had congressional members add tons of earmarks to a defensive appropriation bill that needed to pass, but then, of course, if anyone tried to stand up to it, then the opposition could say, well, you're not wanting to fund the men and women overseas. I mean, they constantly play games.
COOPER: I hear what you're saying, but it seem there is something different in this, because number one, we've heard time and time again from Republicans -- frankly both politicians on both sides accusing the other side of playing politics with U.S. troops and of not listening to commanders in the field and making decisions based purely on politics. This seems -- if it's true -- a clear cut example of that, I mean, in a most Machiavellian sense, a few months before a midterm election, that you worry you're going to lose, say, you know what, just pull out a few troops, not for any strategic military reason, purely just to help your party.
BELCHER: Well, no, it's not the same. I mean, to sort of say that they're playing politics with an appropriation bill as opposed to saying that, you know, pull out troops for political purposes, you know, when there's literally a life and death situation is very different. He crossed the line here.
COOPER: But this is strategic implications.
LOESCH: No, it's not. It's not.
BELCHER: It is different. You were talking about life and death of soldiers. He's making a political calculation --
LOESCH: It's not life and death.
COOPER: One time. Cornell finish your thought.
LOESCH: You're talking.
COOPER: Go ahead, Dana.
LOESCH: Go ahead, Cornell.
BELCHER: My main point is you cross the line -- whether Republican or Democrat, you cross the line when you're making political calculations with literally what is life and death situations in war time.
LOESCH: Right, life and death situations. Let's talk about how we had Democrats in Congress that were looting military funding out of specific accounts that went towards ammunition, that went towards fuel, that went towards troop training -- and you know what they did with this money? They packed it into earmarks.
We have a museum in Louisiana. We had an Edward Kennedy Policy Institute in Massachusetts. There was a visitors' center in San Francisco. Twenty-six-some-odd billion dollars that was used for this.
BELCHER: This is -- this is --
LOESCH: That you could argue very well is life and death.
BELCHER: This is why -- this is why politics is broken because you have someone right now who won't even come out and say, you know what? This was wrong. This crosses the line. Instead, we're going to pivot and try to attack the Republicans. This happens -- the Democrats.
This happens way too often. I'm not going to pivot and try to attack Republicans. I think --
LOESCH: I'm not pivoting anything.
BELCHER: You did.
LOESCH: I know. I think it's disingenuous for you to point to one side and not admit any false on the other side. I'm just calling you out on it.
BELCHER: Listen, I said take Democrat, Republican head off. For a U.S. senator to tell the president, let's pull out troops because it's going to help us politically, is outrageous whether you're a Democrat or Republican. I'm not going to pivot and try to attack the Republican Party.
LOESCH: Oh, no and I agree with that. I agree with that. But we also have to realize that this has been done a lot -- for a very long time, and it's interesting that just now it's coming to light just because it's Mitch McConnell, who I'm not a fan of.
But at the same time I think that while it is disingenuous, I think also -- he was very kind of smart in that he followed Reagan's 11th with this, if you notice. The first time that we're hearing about it is in Bush's book, and he kept it very under wraps, and then he also publicly supported the surge, which was quite successful when Bush announced that he was going to do the surge and Congress supported it.
So, I think there's something to be said --
COOPER: His statement today was basically a non-denial denial, though. I mean, it's basically, you know, if you read between the lines, it doesn't contradict what the president is saying and I think it's a story now because have you President Bush coming out and saying it, and it's -- you know, many politicians may think this. I don't know of many examples where we've heard them actually say it. And according to President Bush he actually said this.
BELCHER: It's like a movie. It's -- it is unbelievable. And I've got to push back again. Look, to say defense appropriations is the same as pulling out troops for political purpose is not equal.
COOPER: We got to live it there. Cornell Belcher and Dana Loesch, appreciate both of you. Thank you.
BELCHER: Thank you.
COOPER: Up next: Should the government get to decide what kind of meals are served to your kids? City officials of San Francisco -- they voted to ban toys from Happy Meal that don't meet new nutritional standards. Is that the right way to curb child obesity or maybe the government going too far? Dr. Phil McGraw joins me ahead. And more than 3,000 people aboard that cruise ship, well, that cruise ship, they probably would have enjoyed a Happy Meal. Instead, some of them had settled for mayonnaise sandwiches. We'll tell you why.
COOPER: A lot more news we're covering tonight, Randi Kaye joins us for the 360 bulletin -- Randi.
KAYE: Anderson, it is the 11th day of the 11th month, Americans pay tribute today to veterans. Vice President Joe Biden laid a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery and called veterans the heart and soul of the nation.
A potential power-sharing agreement in Iraq appeared to fall apart late today, when the Sunni-backed group walked out of the parliamentary session. The deal was cobbled together after eight months of bickering.
The Pakistani Taliban is claiming responsibility for a suicide car bomb attack in Karachi. Police say at least 15 people were killed, more than 100 injured.
And in San Diego, more than 3,000 passengers are finally back on dry land after their Carnival cruise ship was towed to port. It lost power earlier this week following an engine-room fire. Passengers spent three days without air conditioning, hot showers, hot meals and, in some cases, no working toilets.
One passenger said that before the Navy provided relief supplies, Anderson, the ship ran out of food, and then the crew started making those yummy mayonnaise sandwiches.
COOPER: Just what you want when you've been out at sea for many days.
KAYE: Yes. And as if they haven't had enough, apparently, they get a refund and then invited back for another cruise, as well, for maybe more mayonnaise sandwiches.
COOPER: Yes. I think that would -- that would -- yes.
KAYE: I think they've probably had it.
COOPER: Yes. All right, Randi, we'll check in with you a little bit later on.
Still ahead, fast food certainly helping make America's kids fat, making all of us fat, but are the toys that are served with the fast food, are they part of the problem? Should they be banned? We'll talk to Dr. Phil McGraw about what's being done in San Francisco where they are outlawing toys with Happy Meals that don't meet new nutritional deadlines, regulating what fast food restaurants can serve. Is that the government's role? We'll talk to Dr. Phil about it.
And later "Crime & Punishment," sending kids -- selling kids and teens for sex. Wait until you hear where it is happening in the United States, and who's been caught doing it. We'll be right back.
COOPER: So I've got a question for you: should the government police what you feed your kids? Now, 'm not talking about the government publishing recommended dietary guidelines. I'm talking about the government telling restaurants what kind of meals they can serve.
City officials in San Francisco clearly think the answer is yes. They voted to ban fast food restaurants from offering toys with meals that don't meet certain nutritional standards, new standards.
McDonald's Happy Meals are one of the primary targets. They can still sell the Happy Meal but not with a toy, unless the meal is under 600 calories, contains fewer than 640 milligrams of sodium. It also has to have half a cup of fruit and three quarters cup of vegetables. That ain't a Happy Meal.
As you can guess, McDonald's is not happy about it at all. Take a look. What they've said, they've said, "We're extremely disappointed with the decision. It's not what our customers want; nor is it something they asked for." They went on to say that "Parents tell us it's their right and responsibility, not the government's, to make their own decisions and to choose what's right for their kids." So that's McDonald's statement.
It turns out the mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, also opposes the ban, which he says is an unprecedented governmental intrusion into parental responsibility. He said, "Parents, not politicians, should decide what their kids eat, especially when it comes to spending their own money."
Mayor Newsom says he's going to veto the ban, but the board that passed it, they have enough votes to override the veto. Reaction from the public has been kind of mixed. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NELSON KNUTH, CITIZEN: I think it's ridiculous. I think that it's another case of San Francisco going over board.
ANNA RICHARDS, CITIZEN: I think that it's probably a good thing. I know that a lot of kids are incented by the toy more than the food.
JOSH FREEZE, CITIZEN: The toys aren't -- aren't the issue. I mean, my kid wants the hamburger. It's just an extra bonus that it has the toy. So it's not -- you know, not having the toy and they're still going to have the Happy Meal.
KNUTH: Let the parents make that decision, then. I mean, that's the bottom line. I mean, across the country everybody gets to have Happy Meals if they want to have it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We're talk to Dr. Phil McGraw about what this in a moment, what he thinks, but let me just give you some background. Because this is -- it's a difficult issue for some people to decide on.
The number of obese kids in the U.S. has actually tripled since 1980, and a new study from researchers at Yale shows that kids are being bombarded with more fast food ads than ever. Take a look at this.
In 2009, according to this Yale study, preschoolers saw 21 percent more ads for fast food than they did in 2003. Twenty-one percent. And older kids saw 34 percent more fast-food ads.
Now, last year the fast-food industry, they spent more than $4 billion on marketing, and they're even targeting toddlers. I want to show you something over here. According to the Yale researchers, McDonald's directs Web-based advertising to kids as young as 2 years old through Web sites like this one. I've never seen this one before. It's Ronald.com. It's full of games, a lot of images of Ronald McDonald and other branding.
It's interesting. At the very top of the screen, there's a disclaimer. It says, "Hey, kids! This is advertising." I'm not sure a 2-year-old really appreciates transparency like that. But all this marketing does seem to be working.
Researchers found one third of American kids and adolescents eat fast food every day. They also beg their parents for it.
Take a look what else this Yale study found. They found that 40 percent of parents reported that their kids ask them to go to McDonald's at least once a week. Fifteen percent of preschoolers ask to go every single day. And parents often give in. Eighty-four percent reported taking their child to fast-food restaurants at least once a week.
Parents are under tons of pressure from their kids and their own busy schedules, but does that mean that the government should start policing this stuff? I talked to Dr. Phil McGraw about the ban earlier.
COOPER: So Dr. Phil, what do you think about this? I mean, this law doesn't ban Happy Meals. It bans the toys that go with the Happy Meals if the meals don't meet certain health requirements. Does that make sense?
DR. PHIL MCGRAW, TALK SHOW HOST: Well, you know, I think it's along the same line of thinking when they banned Joe the Camel, which was considered to be a cartoon, which would appeal to children. And I think they know that kids want those toys, and so by putting the toy in there, they're enticing these children to buy these non-nutritious meals. And so they're saying, "Look, do we want to do that?"
And I agree that's not a good business practice. And I've got to say, 25 percent of Caucasian children are considered overweight, and 33 percent of African-American and Hispanic children. So this is an epidemic-level problem. Make no mistake.
I really applaud the fact that somebody's paying attention to this, but, Anderson, this is the parents' job. I mean, it's the parents' job. They're the ones that buy the food, present the food, put food in the house, take kids to buy these things. This is the parents' job. And you don't turn that over to the government. You cannot abdicate. You can't even delegate this decision to the government. This gets back to the core level of parenting, and I think it is dangerous if we get the government involved in this way.
COOPER: You're saying it's an over reach; it's getting the government too involved in this sort of decision making which should be left up to parents.
MCGRAW: I think it is an overreach. I mean, if the government wants to be active in trying to do something about this epidemic of childhood obesity, then get involved with education. Change the school lunch programs. My God, so many of the school lunches that are delivered around the country are so high in carbohydrates and so low in protein and so high in sugar and so high in sodium, that's contributing to the obesity. What are they worried about putting a toy in a Happy Meal? They need to be focused on the things they now fund. Because this is a serious problem in America.
But look. This is the parents' job. It's the parents' job to say no. It's the parents' job to say, "This is not nutritious." It's the parents' job to decide where they take the children and what kind of eating patterns they develop. If we turn this over to the government, what else are we going to turn over to them? This seems to me to be way overreach.
COOPER: But you know, there are a lot of parents who, just to play devil's advocate here, there are a lot of parents out there who say, "Look, we don't have a fighting chance against some of these huge companies and all the advertising dollars they pour in."
I read that the food industry spends $4.2 billion on advertising and marketing, that the average preschooler -- these are a couple of facts. The average preschooler saw 2.8 TV ads every day for fast food. Kids aged 6 to 11 saw 3.5 ads, and 15 percent of preschoolers asked to go to McDonald's every single day.
I guess there will be some parents out there who are saying, "Look, this isn't a fair fight."
MCGRAW: Well, it may not be a fair fight, because the marketing machine is huge. It is powerful. But if we're trading numbers, let me trade this one with you. Seventy percent of overweight children are going to become overweight adults. And for every 40 pounds you're over, your likelihood of heart attack, cancer, type two diabetes goes through the ceiling. This is one of the battles parents need to pick. COOPER: I was watching this documentary, "Food Inc.," which is a really fascinating look at food in the United States around the world, and it gave the example of Wal-Mart, which was pressured by customers to start offering healthier choices in some of their outlets, you know, healthier yogurt and stuff like that. And they actually did, and that's been a huge deal for -- you know, when Wal-Mart chooses to do something, it's got a huge impact on the marketplace. And that was based on consumers demanding something.
MCGRAW: We've got the real power here. And believe me, this turf war is fought at the local level. You get moms and dads talking to those managers and saying, "We're going to drive right down the street, and we're going to go somewhere else. We're simply not going to come here." Then that franchise will start doing something different. Don't ever think we don't have the power of the dollar.
Because where we go and where we choose to spend it, particularly during these tough economic times, is something they pay attention to. And the reason they're selling us what they're selling us is because that's what we've showed the willingness to buy.
COOPER: That's true. I must say I've switched to buying salads at McDonald's, although it's hard passing up those Big Macs, but I force myself to do it.
MCGRAW: They look and smell good, and once in a while they're OK. Seriously. But you just -- you have to understand these kids, they get -- they get so focused on this, and your eating habits are learned. People aren't born with a palate for this. They learn it across time. If it's learned it can be unlearned and relearned. So parents, don't give up the fight.
COOPER: Dr. Phil, thanks.
COOPER: Well, still ahead tonight, tracking a sex trafficker in America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMBER LYON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just what kind of a person would drug, then sell a 14-year-old for sex? We went looking. And what we found isn't what you might expect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, what's even more surprising than who the person is, is the punishment received. Our investigation, next.
COOPER: "Crime & Punishment" report, we've all heard some statistics of kids being sold for sex in America. We wanted to find out who these kids are and how it's happening. The Justice Department estimates that 300,000 American kids are at risk of being pushed into prostitution. Although the -- how the majority of victims are being trafficked isn't new -- most are runaways or have been kicked out of their homes -- the Internet is becoming a bigger component of child prostitution. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Kids says the number of American kids that it sees being sold for sex on the Internet is astounding.
Amber Lyon tonight investigates one horrifying story.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come here, honey. Come here, baby.
LYON: What was your first reaction when you went on the Internet and went onto BackPage.com and saw the ads with your daughter?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was heartbroken. I was scared.
They showed her face. It was in a hotel room. And she had on lingerie and a wig. She was in very sexual positions.
LYON: How old was your daughter?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was 14.
LYON (voice-over): Fourteen years old, missing for nine months before her mother saw an ad selling her daughter for sex on the online classified site, BackPage.com, giving police the break they needed to find the girl and bring her home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's her name?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cookie.
LYON: We're not naming the 14-year-old nor her mother, to protect the family. But we can tell you that she loves to draw and has brothers and a sister.
One night last year the girl ran away from home. She was angry that her parents had forbidden her from going to a party.
(on camera) The mother tells us the 14-year-old ran away from home and not only a day later was in this fast-food restaurant. And that's where a woman picked her up and found out she was a runaway and said, "Hey, I have a friend you can stay with. Come with me. She'll buy you clothes, give you a place to stay." And everything went downhill from there.
(voice-over) According to court documents and the mother's account, a trafficker got the 14-year-old hooked on drugs. Marijuana, codeine, ecstasy, then sold her to men who would literally line up to take advantage of the girl.
When she was finally rescued, she was physically scarred and told her mother she'd been abused. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Once I got her home and, you know, got her in the tub and stuff and, you know, I was trying to get her to take the wig off of her head. And she had those burns in her scalp.
LYON (on camera): She had burns on her head?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In her scalp. All her hair was gone. And maybe about six burn marks on the back of her scalp. She just said that "I don't want to talk about it. Ma, I don't want to talk about it."
LYON: We're driving right now through the area where this 14- year-old girl lives and where some of the sex trafficking took place. I grew up in St. Louis, and I was very surprised to find out that this was going on in this area of town. Middle-class families live here. There's nice neighborhoods.
And I think when a lot of people think of the sex trafficking of our youth, they think this is only happening to poor kids in the city, and that's just not the case.
(voice-over) Just what kind of a person would drug and sell a 14- year-old for sex? We went looking. And what we found isn't what you might expect.
She was a 27-year-old woman. Latasha McFarland, free at home with a daughter of her own. McFarland admitted in court to selling the 14-year-old on BackPage but denies knowing that she was a minor. She was originally charged with three counts, including two of trafficking a minor for prostitution, a potential life sentence.
But those more serious charges were dropped when she pled guilty to a separate prostitution charge that did not involve trafficking a minor. The maximum sentence on that charge? Five years.
And until her December sentencing date, this woman remains free at home, caring for her child.
(on camera) The last thing she said to me was "I don't know anything about sex-trafficking minors on the Internet," and then she started crying and slammed the door in my face.
(voice-over) Rich Callahan is the United States attorney for St. Louis. We asked him about the five-year maximum under this plea deal. It's the same sentence someone could get for trafficking a single marijuana joint across state lines.
(on camera) So it seems to me -- I just -- I can't believe how, in the United States, someone can traffic a 14-year-old girl, sex trafficker, sell her like a slave, profit off of it, and get an equal punishment as someone who's trafficking a joint of marijuana. How is this possible?
RICH CALLAHAN, U.S. ATTORNEY FOR ST. LOUIS: Well, it's going to depend on witnesses. And when you're dealing with runaway victims...
LYON: But she's not a runaway. The (UNINTELLIGIBLE) she would testify.
CALLAHAN: I understand you keep saying that. But she wasn't always living with the mother.
LYON (voice-over): Callahan said that, because prosecutors couldn't count on the girl's testimony, they took the deal instead.
CALLAHAN: ... under the circumstances. And -- and five years in prison is by some lights, is better than getting nothing at all. And sometimes you have to do things which you don't think are -- you're not wild about doing. You'd like to get more time, but you can't always do that.
LYON: You can't always do that. That's the reality this girl's family is left with, struggling to help their daughter salvage what's left of her childhood.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I said, "Well, why didn't you come back home?"
And she said, "Well, Mama, once I had -- got to taking those drugs and having all the sex, then I didn't think that you would want me any more." And she was wrong. She was so wrong.
COOPER: It's so fascinating to see. I mean, you walk up to that house, and it's so not what you expect to be the person who's, you know, trafficking an underaged girl online.
What now for this family?
LYON: Well, this family is really upset, as you can tell. They're worried that the trafficker got -- is facing five years or less in prison.
In addition to this, they're very upset with BackPage.com. They say that this Web site aided and abetted the sale of their daughter, and they actually hired a lawyer, Robert Fagioli (ph), out of St. Louis who is suing BackPage now for this family. And...
COOPER: It's going to be tough, though, because the argument that a lot of these Web sites make is, like, "We're like the phone company. We're just offering the service. We're not responsible for what's being sold."
LYON: And that's what's unique about this case, too. BackPage, if you talk to them, Anderson, they say that this lawsuit is just riddled with errors, and including the protection by the Communications Decency Act. But this family is saying that, you know what? Bottom line here, we don't care about First Amendment rights, anything else. This -- our daughter was sold on your Web site, and you profited off of it. And this is child abuse, and you're profiting off of it.
And they believe that they have a case in the court of law. And if this does go through, this could open a floodgate for other lawsuits against sites like Craigslist and BackPage.
COOPER: A tough case to make. Craigslist has always said they're very different than BackPage. At least they had -- they claim that they had some screening procedures, though they always pointed at BackPage and said, "They don't have any."
LYON: Yes. Exactly. BackPage has kind of been the black sheep in all of this. But they did respond to us, and they said that they "can't comment on this ongoing litigation," but they say that they've "been working diligently to build a holistic safety and security program to better protect our community."
COOPER: Not sure what a holistic program is.
LYON: Yes. That's an interesting thing. We're working on a documentary now on sex trafficking of America's youth. As you know, it's happening to children here in America who are being trafficked by Americans, and we're definitely looking into BackPage and what that holistic program is.
COOPER: We'll have a lot more of this coming up in the months ahead.
COOPER: Amber Lyon, appreciate it.
Up next, three high-school basketball players striking back at their coach for striking them. We'll tell you what this is all about.
COOPER: Got a number of other stories we're following. Randi Kaye again has the "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Randi.
KAYE: Anderson, three high-school basketball players in Mississippi have sued their coach for whipping them when they failed to run their plays correctly. The coach says he paddled them, basically to make them better young men. An attorney for the students says the coach has been suspended. The school won't confirm that.
Nissan drivers take note: the company is recalling nearly 605,000 Centras, Xterras SUVs and Frontiers. Problems with steering columns and battery cables need to be fixed.
Google has fired the employee who it says leaked information about big raises at the company. Google employees were notified by memo late Tuesday of across-the-board pay hikes of 10 percent. The company says it won't discuss internal matters.
And Anderson, you probably didn't see this. Tonight you got a shout out from Jon Stewart on MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show." Yes, you did. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JON STEWART, HOST, COMEDY CENTRAL'S "THE DAILY SHOW": It's really the -- one of my favorite things, Anderson Cooper. I think he does a really nice job; he's fun to watch. And you, as well, and I like, on an individual basis, a lot of this stuff.
Again, I watch way too much of it. I really do. And that is, in itself, corrupting.
But he's got a bit on his show that I love called "Keeping Them Honest."
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: Yes.
STEWART: Which is just so funny to me, because isn't that the subtext of -- it'd be like me introducing, I've got a new segment called, "Telling Jokes to an Audience."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: True, you would think, yes, it is basically the subtext for what we're all supposed to be doing, although frankly, we don't do enough of.
KAYE: Well, we're doing it right here.
COOPER: It's nice that he said that.
Randi, time for tonight's "Shot." Now, we all know Wolf Blitzer's a renaissance man: anchor, reporter, husband, father, former Monkey, which was the name of his band as a teen. Tonight we learned he's a dance machine.
Wolf Blitzer was a presenter at the taping of the Soul Train Awards last night in Atlanta, which is a sentence I never thought I would actually say. Wolf says he loved watching the -- "Soul Train" when he was growing up. The crowd loved him last night. He was performing -- the former Doug E. Fresh showed him the moves to his hip hop dance, the Doug E.
KAYE: Love it.
COOPER: Which I guess is popular right now. And, yes, oh, goodness.
KAYE: Look at him go.
COOPER: They showed the tight shot. We want to see him bust a move. Wow.
KAYE: He looked pretty at home with that.
COOPER: I love that Wolf Blitzer was at the Soul Train Awards. I mean, because when you think of Soul Train Awards, the first thing I think of is Wolf Blitzer.
KAYE: Yes. Me too. Right away. How about you, have you ever Doug E.-ed?
COOPER: Have I ever what?
KAYE: Doug E.-ed.
COOPER: Doug E.-ed? No, I don't. Yes. And even if I had, I wouldn't do it on TV.
KAYE: It's a verb, you know, to Doug E.
COOPER: It is?
COOPER: I'll take your word for it.
KAYE: I did a little research on the Doug E., though.
KAYE: From our crack -- our crack Doug E.'s...
KAYE: ... who are on the staff. Two of our producers, Elise (ph) and Leah (ph). And they told me it's not really a dance; it's a vibe. It's a feeling.
COOPER: It's a way of being. A lifestyle. All right. We'll try it. Randi, thanks.
Up next, a lot more serious. Amazon.com, what are they doing? What is up with them? They pulled two books, pro-pedophilia books off their Web site. They're still selling others. They're not returning our phone calls for 24 hours. We'll talk about it with John Walsh. We'll be right back.