tv CNN Newsroom CNN January 17, 2015 2:00pm-3:01pm PST
hi everyone. thanks for joining me here in the cnn news room. i'm poppy harlow in new york. in europe right now troops are again being mobilized to guard potentially vulnerable locations the meanwhile, the terror investigation has now extended as far as greece. let's go straight to pamela brown live in paris. pamela when you were with us
last hour i asked you about the situation in paris. i want to know what you're hearing from your sources about what is going on in greece tied to this string of terror that we've seen. >> reporter: well this is still a developing situation, poppy. and we're hoping to learn more. but at this point, greek authorities are saying that they have launched an investigation in connection with the belgium terrorists. i can tell you what we know. sources tell us that other people that were a part of that cell were on the loose and that the ring leader someone who is a belgian isis operative, was believed to be in greece. but at this point authorities are not confirming whether the people that they may have arrested in greece are those people who we have been reporting on who have been on the run including the ring leader. we are still trying to nail that down. but we know that authorities have been working around the clock since this ring this cell was busted in belgium trying to find those open peer on the run. we know authorities in belgium had enlisted the help of
americans, the cia as well, to try to track down these suspects. so it has been a top priority. of course we'll let you know as soon as we learn more on that front. >> i know pamela french counterterrorism intelligence is broadly seen as very very strong. we know they work very closely with the u.s. also. in terms of those 12 people who remain in custody in paris after this sweep of potential terror suspects do we know if they are saying anything to the authorities, if the authorities have brought formal charges against them? what's the latest on that? >> reporter: well at last check with u.s. authorities, the french had not handed over information that these were in fact suspects taken at another level here in france you can take people in for questioning. you have a 96-hour window. but normal lit french authorities aren't going to share information with their law enforcement counterparts in the u.s. unless they find probable cause and elevate those people to suspect status. at last check with sources they had not been. so they're still trying to question these people to see if in fact they were complicit in
the plot here in paris. of course that is the big concern that there were others beyond the coulibaly and kouachi brothers who helped them execute their attack. >> right. pamela brown joining us live from paris. thank you for your excellent reporting throughout. i want to discuss this with cnn analyst dr. ahma conta ahmed author of the book "in the land of invisible woman a female doctor's journey in saudi arabia" i've been watching you all week on cnn with your excellent commentary on this. thank you for being with me. >> thank you, poppy. >> you just wrote this article today "islam is in choking freedom everywhere." you said we need a modern comprehensive understanding of the religion of islam rather than relying on a discourse that has not changed for 800 years. to get to the root of this what needs to be done? >> those words you quoted aren't mine. those are the words of egyptian president al sisi. i think what he's pointing to is the fact that not so much the
800 years that i focused up on but in recent ages within the last 30 years being able to have this dialogue is becoming increasingly contracted even in our free world where we exchange information and we think about things and we debate things. that's come from a very explicitly islamist ideology. what we're seeing in paris now is an expression of violent islamist ideology. jihadism evolved as terrorism is an islamist value. but equally there's a nonviolent ideology which means shielding an idea my faith, islam, and privileging it above the rights of an individual for instance a moslem. that pseudoprotection of a belief system which we don't need particularly in the united states where i as an individual am protected is what's stifling this discussion. and this stifling of discussion prevents us from exposing islamism for what it is. islamism is a political totalitarian ideology.
it is not a religion. but in the united states currently we privilege discussion about it rather like it was a religion. a great example is in 2008 the homeland security -- the department of homeland security here in the united states eliminated certain words from its professional discourse. >> right. >> cal iphate jihadist. these words we're using. nearby in the united nations for over 12 years, each year resolutions were passed pushed by the o.i.c. to criminalize what was perceived as criticism of islam. and that has been so broadly adopted not to be stopped until two pakistani politicians lost their lives to saying the blast blasphemy laws are inhumane and norn islamic. >> you quote the egyptian president calling a spade a spade and saying we need to do
that more. i'd also like your perspective on zainib salabi had to say earlier. that is you have to create other opportunities. you have to give especially these young disenfranchised, unemployed young men in particular also young women something else to live for to strive for so they will not take this route. she said the opportunities are broader than the limitations are. do you agree with that? >> i saw that segment. i think that's an interesting observation that certainly there needs to be room for alternatives. however, for someone like me i've never been lacking for alternatives. that may be because of my privileged opportunities in western democracies. >> i think that's her point is that when people don't have that background don't have that privilege. >> but also there is the seduction of islamist ideology is based on a fictional narrative to participate in a restoration of what is a fictional islam. there is not even historic
validity to what islamists are seeking. so partly i agree. broadening social opportunity and relieving economic distress could alleviate this. but that's not the only reason. economically privileged and powerful people are also seduced into this narrative. >> sure. but what can be done by western nations? she brought up the fact that so many millions billions are spent on bombing for example, right, in fighting this war. at the same time her point was that western nations do have the ability to help create more opportunity there. i think a lot of people would say but how? how would you do that for example right now in syria? >> syria is almost insurmountable problem that we are confronting. but perhaps something they could offer that's more practical is opportunity and engagement with civil islam, which is for instance so-called progressive islam conferences are held in indonesia and morocco facilitating this where muslims observing muslims recognize they can be true islam and there can
be separation of mosque and state. those type of dialogues through economic exchange. i came to america on an exchange to further my career. one of the first things that happened after september 11th was a curtailment of academic visas to come to the united states. there has to be more engagement of ideas. >> great to have you on the program. thank you for joining us doctor. we appreciate it. we're going to talk about this next. je suis charlie, a very powerful statement against the terrorists. it was also an opportunity for some people as we've seen play out to cash in ahead we're going to talk about how some are trying to turn tragedy and that slogan into profit.
that's because there have been long lines in newsstand, not just in paris but all over france. and in germany as well. the magazine came out in germany today and it sold out very quickly. i asked a spokesman for the distributor how much money has been made over all these copies. he said it is too early to say. here in the united states a few copies have reached the states. a few on display at book stores in new york. now waiting lists for those who want to buy copies of their own. distributors in the u.s. say they'll be donating any of the proceeds to the families of the victims. but there has not been universal support for this new issue. as you know the cover depicts a tearful image of the prophet mohammed with a sign that reads "i am charlie" and has caused protests in middle eastern and african countries. yesterday in pakistan a photographer was wounded by gunfire. an investigation into what's happening there is ongoing. in the african country of niger there have been churches burned
and people killed. the french embassy is warning citizens in that country to stay indoors and remain vigilant. back to you. >> thank you for that report. it is one thing for "charlie hebdo" to profit from its own magazine. it is quite another for merchants and marketing firms to try to cash in on the tragedies transpired in paris. we've seen it before after eric garner's choke hold death in new york city. after the 9/11 attacks so many people trying to trademark "i can't breathe" saw a lot of the merchandise after the 9/11 attacks. let's bring in martha pease, a p.r. specialist. brian brought us really interesting reporting. we'll get to those numbers in a moment. what is your reaction when we see someone trying to trademark je suis charlie or someone tried to trademark "i can't breathe" after eric garner's death in new york estimate where's the line? >> it's a great question. there's a natural inclination for a market to move to where there's opportunity. so it's not surprising that there's going to be a move to try to trademark something that
everyone can identify with. there is an emotional need for people to kind of come together around a shorthand handle for how people are feeling and to share that feeling. but i think what's really interesting about this situation that we've seen over and over and over again is that there is a difference between exploitation and elevation. >> i think that's an important point. because as we got to your segment we pulled up this picture of lebron james wearing "i can't breathe" shirt. he's not trying to sell it or trademark it. that's sending a message he wants to send. people did try to trademark "i can't breathe" for profit for selling. and that's the line you're saying. >> right. i'm saying that's the line. you'll see some exchange of dollars against the merchant part of it. what you'll see sustaining is how you can elevate this opportunity to take a crisis and turn it into a real positive potential way to create a community discussion. and some of that will be through selling merchandise, some of it will be through allowing people
who can't get their hands on the "charlie hebdo" issue, having it sent to them by volunteers in paris, which is a really extraordinary kind of action. i think we saw something this summer with the a.l.s. effort. >> the ice bucket challenge. >> the ice bucket challenge. which could have come off as a very kind of thin and superficial challenge. it raised $60 million. >> it was incredible. some of these numbers that our brian salters has gone the for example the graphic designer of "charlie hebdo" saying there have been 120 attempts to trademark this slogan for things like hats and t-shirts even guns. and of course saying the graphic designer it is horrible. it's a slogan of free speech. it has nothing to do with a brand. at the same time if people get a legal trademark people get a legal trademark. >> they get a legal trademark. they can pursue it and do with it what they want. if you look at it from a consumer perspective, you have
to believe and history would prove that sustaining a real interest in purchasing merchandise just because you have a trademark for it is going to wane over time and what will stay with people is the meaning of the event and how they can continue to come together arn it. you saw it with 9/11. we've seen it over and over again. >> that's a very good point. someone who did make some of those t-shirts je suis charlie, they did not mean to profit off it therefore donating money to a cause which is also something you can do. thank you martha. a quick break and we appreciate it as always. coming up next we're going to talk about saudi arabia. one of america's closest allies in the middle east. many appalled seeing things happening. a blogger sentenced to punishment with lashes. our odd relationship and whether it should change. that's coming up. the aches. the chills. the fever.
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years in prison and flogging with a cane. for writing this blog. >> his wife and kids fearing for their own safety have now fled to canada. >> raif did not do anything. he did not carry a weapon. his only weapon was his pen. >> convicted of insulting islam, this his fate every friday. handcuffed put on public display, and hit 50 times with a cane. his first round last friday 19 fridays to go. 950 lashes ahead. the shock here the lashes carried out the same week the saudi ambassador to france marched along with millions of others in the name of free speech. mecca in medina says in its system of sharia law the punishment fits the crime. >> translator: the kingdom will not back down on the issue of
justice. >> madawi's case sharply criticized by human rights groups the u.n. and governments worldwide. >> the united states government calls on saudi authorities to cancel this brutal punishment. >> we've been here before. saudi arabia long criticized for its dismal record on free speech women's issues death penalty by beheading and cutting off of body parts for crimes such as theft. >> the saudis play to their own tune. they don't care. >> reporter: former cia operative robert bair has written extensively about saudi arabia arabia. he says the country in large part gets a pass because it can control the price of oil and it is america's best friend in a tough neighborhood. >> i think the way we look at it is the saudi royal family keeps a lid on a country that could come apart if it weren't for them. and it could be something much worse. >> reporter: american presidents whether bush sr., clinton, bush jr. or obama, have
forged close relations with the saudis. that relationship tested like never before after the september 11th 2001 terror attack. 15 of the 19 terrorists from saudi arabia. >> we still haven't seen the 9/11 report related to saudi arabia and the financing. >> the kingdom has made reforms aimed at curbing terror financing. but classification of 28 of the 9/11 reports pages still hotly debated. it was highlighted in the 2004 michael moore film "fahrenheit 911". >> when congress did complete its own investigation, the bush white house censored 28 pages of the report. >> a sharp reminder of the dual nature of the u.s.-saudi relationship. a relationship being questioned again because of this man, raif madawi and his 1,000 lashes. miguel marcus cnn, new york. >> miguel thank you for that report. let's talk about this complex relationship between the u.s.
and saudi arabia. dr. qanta aman joins me again "the author of "the invisible woman" let's take the case of the blogger that miguel just reported. should the united states have come out more strongly condemning this? >> absolutely. and there's still opportunity for our leaderships in every sector to seek the release and i would say protection into the united just as his wife has been protected in canada to retrieve him. because fundamental to islamic belief first thing it's the words of the koran. let there be no compulsion in belief. in saudi arabia under their legislation, they deny the right to freedom of thought. because they say if you're free to think you could be free to question islam or leave islam. god gives us the right to do that but the human leadership of saudi arabia denies the right. it also shows you, his wife said he doesn't carry any weapon. all he did was wield a pen.
so this gives us exactly the battle that is going on the war within islam, which is on the one hand we have the jihad of the sword, so to speak, which is what isis would like to portray, what's happening in paris. and on the other hand muslims like me anti-islamist muslims who believe it islam, recognize its values but are absolutely opposed to islamism can use our pen. the reason this person is being punished so severely and so definitively is because writing and thinking and exposing these ideas is a dire threat. the united states would fail its founding fathers -- its founding fathers, the third president of the united states president jefferson, enshrined human rights for all of us to have religious identity based on the theoretical muslims who might live here. >> look at the fight that has been going on. that march, that unity march we saw in paris, all for freedom. freedom of speech with leaders from around the world joining
together. you lived in saudi arabia as a female. and i just wonder your perspective on that. >> so it's important to say that saudi arabia provided me a living a wonderful career and i had magnificent friends who were saudi muslims also opposed to these practices. so we must be careful not to vilify an entire nation. but the conditions under which they live and the way they interpret what they say is sharia is fundamentally un-islamic. number one, the denial of an expression of an alternative religious identity. the koran teaches us to recognize christians jews even other believers that we might not know what their beliefs are. but in saudi arabia the right to even demonstrate a christian symbol a bible or a crucifix let alone a place of worship, is banned. >> some have been saying look if you look at saudi arabia ruled by sharia law this is also the same philosophy that isis and al qaeda say they are guided by. do you see a difference there, though? >> there is a difference.
i understand that simplification. but again we are in times which require great nuance. saudi arabia is a theocracy. a religious theocracy in partnership with the monarchy and the wahabi clerics that help shore up its power. isis is seeking the downfall of secular democracy as one of its goals. >> one caliphate, entire islamic state. >> they're not the same but saudi arabia could be fairly described as subscribing to islamist ideologies in some respects. >> thank you for the perspective. it's wonderful to have you on the program. fascinating reports as well. thank you. we have heard a lot this week about threats from sleep cells, especially those emerging across europe terrorists waiting to lash out when we least expect it. let's talk more next about those cells, how do they work, how are they begun next? [container door opening] ♪ what makes it an suv is what you can get into it.
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it is now extended as far south as greece. police officials there say they are in the midst of an investigation. they are not saying how much or if they have taken anyone into custody, but they are confirming they are working leads connected to the sweep of terror suspects in belgium two days ago. already security officials are checking reports of so-called sleeper cells that may be poised to strike at any time anywhere across europe specifically france germany, belgium and the netherlands. as for the attack that triggered the growing terror alert, one of the brothers who shot up and murdered people at the offices of the magazine "charlie hebdo" was buried overnight. said kouachi is now in an unmarked grave in his hometown of rural france. the town said they had no choice. they were required by law to bury him there since he was indeed a resident. also security officials all over europe are still trying to get a handle on how many extremists may be preparing violent
attacks. intelligence sources tell cnn that terrorist sleeper cells may now be activated in belgium and in holland. right now counterterrorism officials are scrambling to determine the extent of the sleeper cell threat but how exactly does a sleeper cell work? our brian todd has more on that. >> reporter: a western official with knowledge of the paris investigation tells cnn there is huge concern over the danger from sleeper cells in europe and elsewhere. the worry is over the unknown. when, where and how they'll strike. a terror cell disrupted, but europe is still bracing for more attacks. a western intelligence source tells cnn there could be several sleeper cells ready to strike in france germany belgium and the netherlands. now, new concerns about their planning and timing. >> the worry is how and when will they be activated. >> reporter: former jihadist and intelligence officers tell cnn a sleeper cell is usually made up
of a few operatives either acting on behalf of a foreign country or a terror group, taking instructions from it or are simply inspired by a group and acting on their own, as paris gunman amedy coulibaly appeared to do. they're living in the city where they want to strike selecting targets. >> they are there and they have that ability to cross borders, to live without being on the radar screen. >> reporter: they're highly skilled at blending in appearing like the guy next door. >> they'll have regular jobs. you might see them at the strip joint, drinking alcohol. anything to take off the claim or suspicion that they might be extremist muslim terrorists. >> reporter: the 9/11 hijackers did that reportedly drinking hechly in bars some even going to strip clubs. mobim sheik is a former jihadist who almost went to iraq to fight. he went undercover for canadian intelligence and helped bust a terror cell in toronto. he says many sleeper operatives don't communicate with their
handlers by phone or over the internet. some are told don't go to mosques. don't give a hint of your religion. >> could be shave your beard. remove your religious garb. anything to blend in. that will be determined by the handler or sometimes even the operatives in the cell itself. >> reporter: sleeper operatives stay isolated experts say, sometimes lie dormant for years. >> they wait for an opportune moment when the world attention is turned away when their planning phase is over to strike. >> reporter: and the sleeper cell dynamic is always changing. a u.s. counterterrorism official told me these days terror cells do a lot less sleeping. they actively plot hope to avoid suspicion, and they very often direct the terror strike themselves rather than wait for a signal. >> brian todd thank you for that. coming up we're going to talk about this. is the key to stopping terror plots across europe dependent on bringing muslims into mainstream
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the paris attacks and alerts across europe were among the topics president obama discussed on friday with prime minister david cameron. let's talk about europe's response to its growing immigrant population with cnn political commentators mark lamond hill and -- mark let me start with you, the president and also prime minister cameron talked about the need to better assimilate the immigrant population muslims into european society. and it is key. we've been talking about it throughout the program that when you have these young, unemployed disenfranchised people they are more likely to turn towards radicalization. obviously not in the majority of cases. but do you think we will see progress on this front in europe? >> i hope that we see progress on this front. if you look at tunisiaens in
france for example, they never fully integrated into society. most people who are considered ethnic minorities and religious minorities in europe don't become radicalized or terrorists at least. but we do know the recipe for making terrorists is to marginalize people to engage in acts of state violence to deprive people of jobs. it is to really fail to have a multicultural view of society. so yes we need to do that in europe to help prevent terrorism but there are a lot of other things we can do as well. >> ben, i want your response to that. president obama has said that the u.s. has an advantage over europe and that muslims here feel like americans. liston this and then i want your response on the other side. >> sure. >> our muslim populations, they feel themselves to be americans. and there is this incredible process of immigration and
assimilation that is part of our tradition. >> i think, ben, it's one thing to be an american right, to be a citizen, to be a green card holder et cetera. it's another to really feel like it to feel like this is your country and you are welcome. >> well i think certainly america is an incredible melting pot of ideas and freedom of speech and religion and so many other things that many parts of the world do not have. and so it's easy to feel proud of this country i think very quickly, whether you were born here or you assimilate here you come here through student visa then become an american citizen or even if you live here and now not an american citizen. but i also think we have to be not so naive to think the reason why we don't have as much terrorism here compared to these other countries is because people feel more connected with this nation. the reality is geographically there are some issues in europe. it's a lot closer to these terrorists. terrorists have become much more active in europe to recruit people in europe or even to transplant terrorists to europe.
so i think part of our biggest perk is really it's a lot harder to get in and out of america. we've done an incredible job since 9/11 of keeping us safe and keeping a lot of radicals out. and unfortunately for -- look at how many countries we're talking about in the last 24 hours that have been going after these terrorist cells. i mean it just shows you how much easier it is to get in and out of countries. even this one woman they're looking for in the paris attack. she was able to get out of that country and move around very quickly. a lot of it i think is an issue of demographics. i'm not near as hard on the u.k. as even it seemed like president obama was kind of saying hey, you guys need to kind of do a better job of assimilating. europe is a pretty cool place and there's a lot of people that love it. i think it's just demographics. >> i do want to get your take if i can, mark on this other story before we get to a break that is fascinating what we've seen play out at duke university. so this week the school cited security threats, a number of
threats they said unspecified threats and concerns as part of the reason for reversing their decision to allow a muslim call to prayer on campus right, from the chapel bell tower. mark first what is your take on that? >> duke university which i love. i'm a huge duke fan. duke should be ashamed of itself right now. to not allow the event to be called is extremely disappointing. it gives into the very thing we're supposed to be standing up to. it's amazing. when people want to -- when terrorists get outraged about a movie, where they're going to allegedly kill kim jong-un they say we have to stand up for terrorism. free speech must prevail. when it comes to defending islam and not making a movie about killing another standing leader suddenly we back down and say we can't do it because of potential terrorists. go ahead. >> i just want to clarify here a reporting on this time university although they haven't specified the threats, and ben you can weigh in on this as well. they said the number and tone of
the calls were pretty loud and nasty. so don't you have to weigh any potential danger here? >> no. i think that's the easy thing to say from duke university to say well these phone calls were nasty and ugly. you're always going to get phone calls when you have any sort of major issue in society that people don't always all agree on. i think, though what this really boils down to is that you had a lot of people that donated a lot of money at duke that said we don't want this to happen in our chapel. and we don't think that this is appropriate. we think this is political correctness maybe going too far. and i think more than likely what you really had was you had the president of that university taking a lot of heat from their alumni that said this is a bad move and we want you to reverse it. so if you reverse that decision under the name of security you don't take near as much heat than if you do it because you said a bunch of alumni said they didn't like this. >> i wish we had much more time to discuss this. it's fascinating.
we have to take a break. franklin graham son of evangelist billy graham calling for that not to be allowed to happen. we're going to be back on the other side with the two of these fine gentlemen to talk about the race to 2016. he's once twice, could it be three times a presidential candidate? mitt romney speaks out. nutrition...i'm no expert. that would be my daughter -- hi dad. she's a dietitian. and back when i wasn't eating right, she got me drinking boost. it's got a great taste and it helps give me the nutrition i was missing. helping me stay more like me. [ female announcer ] boost complete nutritional drink has 26 essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium and vitamin d to support strong bones and 10 grams of protein to help maintain muscle. all with a delicious taste. grandpa! [ female announcer ] stay strong, stay active with boost.
are you kind of feeling like it's 2012 all over again? at least when it comes to politics? mitt romney telling a gop meeting this week he's thinking hard about another run for president. he tried in 2008 no luck. got the nomination but lost to president obama in 2012. is 2016 his time to shine in let's bring back in ben ferguson and mark lamond hill. what do you think, ben? third time's the charm? >> i think it's third time a charm back in the good old days only a couple channels covering the debates. we weren't a 24-hour news cycle. ronald reagan was a third time the charm guy. i think you get fatigue of voters when you run three times with a 24-hour news cycle with the constant number of debates
you have. i think people get just tired of hearing your name. i think you lost a couple of times and people say move on. but there's also the politics of it. and if you're mitt romney this actually may be his best chance. you have a lot of really conservative candidates that are going to be splitting up votes in primaries. he obviously was able to grab a lot of states last time even when he had a weak start. he's got the money and the financial backing. so for him he may say hey, i got more people dividing the pie. i might be able to pull this sucker off and get the nomination yet again. >> mark, what do you think? if he does go for a run, which a lot of indications are pointing that he may very well, do you think he'll get the nomination? >> i think he can get the nomination. i agree with ben that voters get fatigued of hearing the same name over again. the frontrunner right now aside from romney is jeb bush. the bush name has been prominent in american politics for the last three decades. if it comes down to another bush or romney people may say another romney. if anyone should be doing back
flips right now a certain governor in wisconsin saying look if those are my competition i have a real good shot here. i guarantee the democratic party is doing somersalts if romney runs again. he's the person you dream of marrying. when you get in the house go on the date no it's just not it. >> he said a lot of people ask what his wife thinks of it. it's not just one person that runs it's the entire family. he said she thinks things get better with experience. we'll see. guys coming up tuesday night big night here for the nation big night on cnn. we'll be covering the obama state-of-the-union address. let me start with you, ben, first. what is the one thing that you would like to hear from the president? >> i would love for him to come out and say that we're going to change the work week in obama care from 30 hours to 40 hours for full-time employees. because the idea was one that's been a failure. and it's hurt a lot of hourly workers and low paid workers who
need those extra nine hours back. and this was an idea that was passed. it did not work. and to help people that are trying to grab extra nine hours at another job, this would be a great way to help the average american worker. there's a lot of them that want it bad. i hope he does it. >> is the idea to say look even if you're not a 40-hour employee your employer has to provide health care for you. what you're saying ben, a lot of employers arguably cut hours down. >> they cut hours. they did. >> people may fall into that -- mark to you what is the one thing you'd like to hear from the president? >> can i just say i love ben? ben's been deliberately asking for things he knows the president won't say so he'll say see he won't say it. i'm going to ask for something i know the president will talk about. cyber security and the global threat of terror. the president needs to speak to this he needs to talk about this past week and past weekend ho the united states is going to guard itself against global terror and engage in cyber security that will allay some of the society that's emerged
against hackgate. >> poppy, i hope he says paris, france my bad. we should have showed up. that would be a good way to start the whole sucker off. >> i don't know if that's going to happen. >> oh, ben. >> we will be watching. >> it won't. >> ben and mark thank you very much. you're going to join me after a quick break of course. cnn's state-of-the-union coverage starts tuesday night, 7:00 p.m. eastern right here on cnn. join us for complete coverage of the president's speech to the nation. the republican response. we will have it coming up. "selma" got nomination ss, but it was still snubbed.
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>> "selma," a movie that was supposed to by many accounts win all of the awards. instead it sparked a debate over diversity in hollywood. it tells the story of martin luther king's leadership and the civil rights movement and was nominated for an oscar for best picture. but some are saying its stars and its director were snubbed. ben, what do you make of this? what do you think is going on here in terms of what the critics are saying? some are saying racism is behind this voting. i'd like your thoughts on that. >> i don't think it's racism. i mean look at the past nominations recently. you had "the help," which had an incredible amount of awards includeing best supporting actress. you have other movies that have a lot of awards including django in chains including "12 years a slave. "to act as if african-american movies are not getting -- >> i think you're kidding. >> -- what they deserve, look at past nominations. i think biggest thing that hurt
this movie was when there was the debate over the historical ayn inaccuracies between martin luther king and the president of the united states of america. when people saw there were historical inaccuracy there was so much debate around it i think that hurt this movie nor than anything else, do you really award it when you didn't have to change that relationship you could tell the story perfectly historically and it would have been amazing. so why make those changes? there was a lot of criticism for that and it hurt the movie. >> mark? >> ben just -- ben said that hollywood is not racist because they rewarded movies where black people played slaves and maids. >> the stories -- >> evidence to the contrary. >> those are credible stories. >> wait. i want mark to finish. ben, you can weigh in next. >> i'll let you finish ben. my point is that hollywood allows for certain types of representations of black people. black people as maids is not shocking to white people not shocking to white america and those types of movies often
prevail. black people are slaves. that's something america is quite familiar with. they allow those movies to do well. denzel washington is an extraordinary actor. he played malcolm x, for god's sake, a masterful performance. he got no award. but when he plays a drug dealer he gets the award. there are certain representations hollywood allows for. as far as the historical representation issue, many historians push back against the argument that lb j was as connected to king and the voting rights act as his opponents suggest. i'm not a historian of that time period so i won't debate that issue. but "the godfather ii" won an award and some cuban expert who is say what happened when fray doe gets lost from michael is not what happened according to bautista and castro. >> mark you and i know that this was a movie that was about true genuine history that should be told historically in context i would say perfectly. when you're talking act the
godfather, you're not talking about a historical film about actual events. let's be honest about that. and here's the other thing. you and i both know -- >> did you see the movie? >> i've seen about 30 minutes of it. >> then there you go. >> but my point is this mark and i think you know this -- in 10 years, 20 years, are people going to be rupping the godfather every holiday season because it's an incredible series or will they be getting "selma"? oprah winfrey is a zeent actress. she's not incredible. she's a decent actress. just because you're oprah doesn't mean you should get nominated. >> mark i want you guys to weigh in on this. an interesting article about this in "the wall street journal" today. it notes the fact that according to a "los angeles times" investigation, 94% of the academy, 6,000-plus voting members were white atz of 2012s of 2012. after the investigation came
out, the academy made an effort to be more diverse in terms of those that vote on the videos. it also notes that an african-american has been president of the academy since 2013. mark are these things that should be considered in the debate? >> they should be considered but again, certain forms of representation don't make the problem resolve. there's a president of the united states doesn't mean that race isn't still an issue. hollywood has a diversity problem. hollywood has a diversity problem at the production level in terms of who gets green lighted for films and who gets remitted on screen. that's something we have to work through. just because a black person doesn't get an award doesn't mean hollywood is racist but let's be clear, hollywood is racist. >> you just contradicted yourself. you're saying unless we give out -- >> there's no contradiction. >> -- certain types of award at the oscars then automatically hollywood is racist? are we going to -- >> i said the opposite of that. you misheard me. ben. >> here's a black nominee -- >> ben, ben, ben no no no
hold on. you completely misremitted what i just said. i said just because a black perp does not win an award does not mean hollywood is racist. white people can win all the awards. it doesn't mean hollywood is racist. but that point aside, hollywood for other reasons, who gets green lit, who has production money, represented on screen hollywood is racist independent of the award issue. the opposite of what you said i said. please continue. >> look at denzel washington some of the highest paid actors in hollywood are african-american. can you really say hollywood is racist when some of the top paid actors are, in fact african-american? >> very quickly. >> oprah is one of the richest people in america. doesn't mean there isn't racism in the economy on the job. >> hollywood is genuinely racist how is it right now that some of the highest paid actors and actresses are, in fact african-american if they do not like african-americans? >> let me -- >> we have to leave it there.
>> let me answer the question. because there's like three of them, ben. >> we have to leave it there. for one, i can not pate waite to see the film "selma." thank you, gentlemen. back here at 7:00 eastern. in the meantime michael smerconish begins right now. good morning. i'm michael smerconish. breaking news this morning one week after the terror attacks in france thousands of police and soldiers are spread out across neighboring belgium garden government sites, school and synagogues. that high alert extend all over europe among the news terrorist attacks are planned across the continent. new information on suspects in those cells we'll get to with cnn's deborah feyerick. but first this map shows some of the country's americans to visit when they travel abroad but intelligence sources tell cnn these are the nation where is terror cells could be ready