American Morning

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July 24th, 2009
06:23 AM ET

Who is to blame for what happened to Erin Andrews?

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="ESPN commentator Erin Andrews reports as the Pittsburgh Panthers upset the University of South Florida Bulls on October 2, 2008 in Tampa, Florida."]

By Carol Costello and Ronni Berke

A horrific invasion of privacy. Sexual assault. Even rape.

That's how some women have described the nude pictures secretly taken of ESPN reporter Erin Andrews. And some sports bloggers are issuing mea culpas for having promoted Andrews as a "sports hottie."

Andrews was videotaped by a peeping tom in her hotel room without her knowledge and the blogosphere has been buzzing about it for days. Andrews' attorney is threatening legal action if anyone continues to post the videos online, but some, like the site "," persist.

And while her lawyer wants whoever took the pictures to be criminally prosecuted, others say many more are guilty. "I do think we're all complicit in a culture that objectifies women, that is interested in seeing titillating videos of women who don't know they're filmed," says Jessica Valenti of

Indeed, Google says searches for "Erin Andrews" and "Erin Andrews video" have risen more than five-thousand percent in the past few days. The blog "Sports Media Watch" says for years there's been a "...national stalking of Andrews.." online by those who turned her into "a body that exists...for...leering at."

Even an inadvertent ESPN shot of Andrews' behind got half a million hits on YouTube. ESPN calls Andrews one of the premier sports reporters in the business; but some charge the network stoked the fire too, by playing up Andrews' looks. "Anyone who's watched our coverage would know otherwise," says ESPN's Josh Krulewitz.

And some of those she covered didn't help either. She was hugged during an interview on air; a college football player danced lewdly behind her at a game. Through it all, by many accounts, Andrews dealt good-naturedly with those who objectified her.

Christine Brennan, who covers sports for USA Today, says she supports Andrews 100 percent. But Brennan cautions all women broadcasters: "Play to the 12-year-old girl and her mom and dad on the couch. Don't play to the frat house. Do everything you can to make sure that those wackos do not interfere in my life."

Some sports bloggers are showing remorse over the incident. A blogger on "," which was linked to the months-old video last week, put it this way: "Was I ever over the line? Was (COACH) Bruce Pearl when he hugged her?...Was ESPN....when they realized that attractive women on the sideline helped ratings? Did I contribute to this awful thing that happened? Did all of us? I don't think so...But...if I ran into her on the street today ... I'm not sure I could look her in the eye. I'm not sure anybody could."

What do you think? Who is to blame for what happened to Erin Andrews?

Filed under: Just Sayin'
July 17th, 2009
06:38 AM ET

Is affirmative action still necessary?

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="President Barack Obama walks onto stage to speak at the NAACP annual convention July 16, 2009 in New York City."]

With the election Barack Obama, some people are taking a second look at affirmative action. After all, they say, if an African-American can become president, does the nation still need a government policy to address the effects of past discrimination?

“We’ve come a long way in this country,” says the Family Research Council’s Ken Blackwell. “It is time that we say no to quotas and racial operate on racial preferences and quotas is idiotic and counterproductive.”

He’s not alone.

A recent Quinnipiac poll found that by a 55–36 margin that Americans believe it’s time to abolish affirmative action.

“American Morning” sent producers to the streets of New York and Los Angeles, two of the most liberal voting big cities in the nation, to get reaction. Just as in the poll, most people were not fans of affirmative action.


Filed under: Just Sayin'
June 29th, 2009
06:05 AM ET

Feeling over-taxed?

Editor's Note: CNN’s Carol Costello reports on hot topics stirring debate across the country. Just Sayin’ aims to be provocative and encourage thoughtful discussion. Join the conversation.

September 12, 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama made this pledge:

"No family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes."

But, what's up with this?

February 5, 2009, President Barack Obama signed a health insurance bill for children funded almost entirely by boosting the federal tax on cigarettes by nearly 300 percent.

And this:

June 24, 2009, the president said he'd be open to the idea of taxing employee health care benefits.

Does this mean that President Obama has changed his mind?

Not necessarily. He did give middle-class Americans a break by making the Bush tax cuts permanent and by distributing millions in tax credits.

So why do some Americans feel over-taxed? Well, it turns out there's more than one way to tax a taxpayer.


Filed under: Just Sayin'
June 19th, 2009
06:10 AM ET

Is feminism obsolete?

Editor's Note: Every Friday we touch on a hot button issue that, we hope, generates strong opinion from you. The segment is called "Just Sayin'" – and this week Carol Costello ponders the question: Is feminism obsolete? Tell us what you think!

From CNN's Carol Costello and Ronni Berke

It seems every time the media spotlight shines on Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, there's another debate about feminism. Some conservative women were upset feminists didn't protest loudly when late night host David Letterman initially refused to apologize for his off-color joke about Palin's daughter.

Is that because Sarah Palin isn't a feminist? Can a conservative woman be a feminist these days?

Not really, says Republican Strategist and CNN Commentator Mary Matalin. "No conservative woman would choose to call herself a feminist as it's described by liberals today," she says.

Matalin says feminism used to be about the freedom to choose the life you wanted. Now it's an exclusive club, closed off to women like Sarah Palin.


Filed under: Just Sayin'
June 12th, 2009
06:25 AM ET

Is "bad" parenting in?

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Donna Reed starred in 'The Donna Reed Show'."]

From CNN's Carol Costello and Ronni Berke

Back in the day, it was a cinch to know what a good mom was: the ideal TV mom, Donna Reed. Reed embodied 1950's motherhood. Always there, wise and involved from afar. And exceedingly well-dressed. Today it's difficult to define what exactly an "ideal mother is."

It's as if we've taken Donna Reed's image and put it on steroids. Carl Honoré, who wrote the book “Under Pressure: Rescuing Our Children From the Culture of Hyper-parenting," says this generation has “kind of professionalized parenting. There’s a feeling now that on the frontline of child rearing, that raising a kid now is all or nothing."

For Melissa Chapman, a woman from Staten Island who works at home to care for her two children, it was time to get off the parental fast track. Shuttling her daughter back and forth to activities every day of the week, the family was stressed out and exhausted.

“Monday was dance. Tuesday was art. Wednesday was piano. Thursday was gymnastics,” she said. The family had little time to talk and [her daughter] was often too tired to finish her homework.

“My whole schedule was revolving around, you know, where I was taking her, when I was picking her up,” Chapman adds. “There was no quality family time, just getting in the car, getting out of the car, packing up the car, unpacking the car."

So this year, Chapman cut back. Now her daughter, 8, has only one after school activity a week.

Yet she still wondered whether she was a good mother. And she's not alone. So many mothers feel her pain. Blogs like “Her Bad Mother,” and “Real Bad Mommies” have started popping up, rebelling against the notion moms have to be perfect to raise perfect children. On “Her Bad Mother,” one mom writes: "...I have left my children alone in the bathtub. I have spanked my daughter. I drink. I curse..."

But Ayelet Waldman, author of “Bad Mother,” says over-parenting is certainly not over. “We're not going to turn on the dime here but I do think there's a backlash to over-parenting.”


Filed under: Just Sayin'
June 5th, 2009
06:17 AM ET

Is the middle class dead?

From CNN's Carol Costello and Ronni Berke

Danny Borden has been a steelworker in Cleveland, Ohio, for the past 32 years. But last month, he was laid off from his job at the Arcelor Mittal plant. It wasn’t the first time he was furloughed. This time, he has a feeling he won't be going back to work.

“Angry?” he asks. “I'm very angry, you know, but I just can't let the anger get to me.” Along with his job, Borden lost his his way of life – the daily freeway drive, the banter with co-workers he’s known for decades, and of course, his economic status.

“I don't see no middle class. Is there a middle class now? I don't see it,” Borden says. “I see myself as fortunate, but I really don't see myself as middle class.”

Is Borden right? Is the middle class extinct?

“What you have is real fear,” says Paul Sracic, head of the Political Science Department at Youngstown State University. “You’re in a point of transition. The manufacturing jobs that have traditionally been here and been available to people, everyone knows they’re not going to be there anymore. I think people would be a bit more secure though if they had some confidence that something was going to be there to replace it.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 1980, 21-percent of the nation's jobs were in manufacturing - the bulk of good-paying middle class jobs. Today, just 9-percent of jobs are in manufacturing. As some economists say, that puts the middle class in a massive economic black hole.

Lawrence Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute, says, “we have to start creating jobs and we have to work on creating good jobs for people so they can start earning good family paychecks and increase their consumption based on that.”

But, Borden doesn't see that happening in Cleveland. He says it will be hard for a fellow coming out of high school these days to find a job that would enable him to buy a car, a home and raise two college-bound kids.

“I hear everybody talk about jobs but where are they at? Because they're not up here, so I don't know where they would go,” Borden says.

He’s been hearing about "green jobs" replacing manufacturing jobs one day. But, those jobs pay around 12 bucks an hour-60 per cent less than what someone like Borden would make in the plant. It may be too late, he adds.

“The blue collar jobs are gone, and they’re gone overseas. And we’re giving the people that take the jobs overseas, we’re giving them tax breaks and all kinds of money to ruin America. That’s the way I look at it, so we’re rewarding everybody for taking American jobs away.”

Filed under: Just Sayin'
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