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Wildfires burn through Colorado causing thousands to evacuate, and protests in Turkey are in 13th day. Tune in at 7am ET.
March 11th, 2013
10:08 AM ET

VIDEO: Will Cardinals who are active in social media lead pack in choice for pope?

Father Edward Beck & Msr. Richard Hilgartner on how cardinals who embrace social media could lead pack for pope.

Filed under: Social media • Vatican
January 4th, 2013
08:55 AM ET

Attorney for alleged Steubenville rapist: 'Anyone's right to a fair trial is being hijacked'

An alleged rape case from last August involving two high school football players accused of sexually assaulting an underage teenage girl from Steubenville High School in Ohio is drawing national attention this morning.

The chilling images, videos and social media messages related to the case have attracted the attention of bloggers and even Anonymous, a group of of activist hackers. The group has released information about the town and the football team and posted a picture purporting to show the alleged victim dressed in a T-shirt and blue shorts, her body limp, being held hand and foot by two males who appear to be teenagers.

On Starting Point this morning, Walter Madison, the attorney for one of the accused rapists Ma’lik Richmond, confirms that his client is in the picture and responds Brooke Baldwin's question about the girl appearing "seemingly unconscious."

"The photo is out of context and that young lady is not unconscious," Richmond says. "That young lady is capable of walking and her friends are individuals who indicated that information to the police."

Madison also discusses the now viral video posted by Anonymous that shows one teenager making joke after joke about the girl's condition, asserting that his client was not present in the video and had "nothing to do with it."

January 3rd, 2013
10:31 AM ET

Blogger on her findings regarding the Steubenville rape case she brought to light using social media

Two high school football players in Steubenville, Ohio are under arrest for the sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl. The case has received national attention after evidence of the alleged attack first surfaced on social media. Alexandra Goddard blogs at and has been posting on this developing story. This morning she joins “Starting Point” to discuss her findings including a 12-minute video posted on YouTube showing several teens making jokes about the alleged rape.

Goddard says after becoming aware of the story she felt compelled to research it further because she “felt like because it was involving football players and there’s a culture [in Steubenville] that football is very important that there was probably a little more to the story than local media was reporting.” Goddard says she proceeded to sift through various twitter accounts where she found disturbing messages that laid out a timeline regarding the events that reportedly transpired on August 22, 2012. In particular Goddard says she came across the cache of a YouTube video that many people claimed did not exist. She adds the release of the 12-minute video which has garnered a response from both Steubenville Police Chief Bill McCafferty and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine proves that the video existed all along. She goes on to say that “some of the commentary that was going on by the person in it tells the horrific things that happened that night.”

On the topic of verification and authenticity of the tweets and videos posted on social media Goddard says the “person has identified themselves in the video. They’ve also identified others in the room who were allegedly involved and through the twitter accounts most of these kids were using their full names.”

Recently a defamation suit against Goddard by a football player and his parents regarding the case was dismissed. Goddard says however her investigation in Steubenville has “been for the most part very positive.” She adds that she has not been the recipient of any hate mail but admits there are some who are very “upset” by her pursuance of the case. Goddard says there are others however who have thanked her for bringing the case to light “because their local media just wasn’t providing enough coverage and they were coming to my blog for information.”

Filed under: Crime • Lawsuit • Rape • School • Social media
Fired for defending her hairstyle on Facebook; Ex-KTBS meteorologist Rhonda Lee: 'Other people are given platforms, I was given a pink slip'
December 12th, 2012
09:42 AM ET

Fired for defending her hairstyle on Facebook; Ex-KTBS meteorologist Rhonda Lee: 'Other people are given platforms, I was given a pink slip'

Could you lose your job for defending yourself on Facebook? Rhonda Lee says she was fired from her job as meteorologist for KTBS in Shreveport, Louisiana because she responded to a racial remark posted by a viewer on the station's Facebook page. Lee, who keeps her hair short and natural, received a comment on the page from a viewer who didn’t like her hairstyle. Lee’s response was followed by her termination. Lee joins “Starting Point” live from Dallas to talk more about it.

This was the first time Lee says someone has commented on her looks on a Facebook page, but it isn’t the first time that she’s heard ever a comment on her hair. “I’ve even had a news director once say that my hair was too aggressive for Sacramento, so I wasn’t even allowed to interview at that point” she says. “It’s been an interesting journey with my hair.”

According to KTBS, Lee violated the social media procedure of the station by responding to the viewer's comment. Lee says she was not even aware of the policy at the time. She simply thought she needed to respond to the remark that was addressed to her in particular. "Racial comments can be very sensitive," she says, but she didn't consider her topic controvercial at all.

Soledad O'Brien relates Lee's experience to that of Wisconsin reporter Jennifer Livingston, who was criticized about her weight by a viewer earlier this year. She responded to it on air and her station rallied around her while others cheered her on. O'Brien asks whether Lee could have used this opportunity to launch a similar conversation. Lee says Livingston's experience came to mind, but her "first response was education." "I feel like I was being punished for defending myself," Lee says. "Whereas other people are given platforms, I was given a pink slip instead."

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Filed under: Jobs • Media • Social media
September 19th, 2012
10:50 AM ET

Winklevoss twins explain why they invested in new social network SumZero

The Winklevoss twins, who's fight with Mark Zuckerberg over the Facebook idea was chronicled in the 2010 movie "The Social Network," are getting back into social networking.

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss have invested a million dollars in Divya Narendra's network for professional investors, SumZero.

The three men sit down with Soledad on Starting Point this morning to discuss the venture.

Filed under: Social media
September 17th, 2012
11:06 AM ET

The myth of social media? It won't make you rich, says 'Social Media is Bull****' author

With nearly 800,000 Twitter followers and a career as a viral marketer, B.J. Mendelson has made a name for himself on the internet. But, the author of the new book “Social Media is Bull****” says social networking sites from Twitter to Facebook are overrated and over hyped.

“The myth is where the problem is,” Mendelson argues about social media. “The myth is that you have to be on these platforms, that this is the thing that’s going to make you rich... that this is the all powerful, all consuming social media.”

Mendelson sits down with Soledad O’Brien and the Starting Point panel to discuss his new book and the artificial promise of social media.

Filed under: Book • Social media
April 25th, 2012
01:54 PM ET

Teen uses social media to raise awareness about drunk driving – The Camacho family explains

On the morning of April 13, Kirk Camacho was driving his two teenage daughters Bree Ann and Kaely to their mother's home when he was hit by an alleged drunk driver Sandor Guillen.

Kaely was killed in the crash and Guillen is being charged with five felonies in connection with the accident, including vehicular homicide, drunk driving, leaving the scene of an accident and driving with a suspended license. After his arrest, a judge initially held Guillen on a record $1 million bond, even though the standard amount for his charges is $45,000.

Kaely's sister Bree Ann used Facebook to garner community support in order to prevent the judge from lowering the bond. Bree Ann joins Starting Point today with her family to discuss the use of social media in raising awareness about important issues like drunk driving.

Filed under: Social media
March 22nd, 2012
02:20 PM ET

A conversation on race and perception:’s Michael Skolnik on 'Million Hoodie March,' racial issues surrounding Trayvon Martin shooting

As the Trayvon Martin case continues to evolve, each day comes with more fallout in the story.

The latest: The Sanford community is turning on Police Chief Bill Lee, after 17-year-old Martin was killed by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman. Overnight, after a rising tide of criticism, the Sanford City Commissioners voted 3 to 2 that they had no confidence in Lee, who has been on the job less than a year. At the same time, that national outcry of anger over the shooting is growing. Yesterday in Sanford, the NAACP held a forum for residents to complain about alleged abuse by the Sanford Police. Last night in New York City, Trayvon's parents joined a "Million Hoodie March" demanding that shooter George Zimmerman be arrested.

Today, Rev. Al Sharpton will lead a rally in Sanford, the Orlando suburb where Martin was shot. Later this afternoon, Justice Department officials will meet with the family of Trayvon Martin. And affiliate reports in Florida say school kids in Carroll City Senior High School in Miami have staged a walkout over the Trayvon Martin shooting.

This morning on Starting Point,'s Michael Skolnik talks about harnessing the power of social media to organize the 'Million Hoodie March.' He also had a frank discussion with our panelists Will Cain, Ryan Lizza and John Fugelsang about the racial issues surrounding the shooting.

"What's inspiring about our generation is that we now have the ability to organize ourselves," Skolnik says. "We can go to Twitter. We go to Facebook. We can go to YouTube. And we can start talking to each other and saying, look, we want to talk about this issue now. We don't have to wait for traditional media to talk about it. We don't have to wait for other folks to talk about it. We want to talk about it."

The conversation quickly turned to the racial issues surrounding the Trayvon Martin shooting, and whether it was a motivator behind Zimmerman's actions. Skolnik asserts that there's a perception problem in the U.S., where if an African-American male is seen in a hoodie, he may be immediately perceived as a threat.

Will Cain chimed in on the conversation, mentioning that another CNN contributor, Roland Martin, wondered off-air why white commentators aren't speaking out on the race issue in the Trayvon case. Cain asks, "I'm white. I'm a commentator, what do you want me to say right now?"

"What I want you to say is there is a problem in this country," Skolnik said. "It's an epidemic that young black men and young Latino men are being killed at a record rate. So, let's first recognize the problem. They say there is a problem."

In response to the conversation, CNN anchor Don Lemon wrote to the "Starting Point" staff, saying the message of the conversation resonated with him, and said it's not just young black men who are the subject of misperception.

"I'm 46 and it still happens to me," Lemon writes. "Headed to the gym now wearing sweats and a hoodie and people will flinch and grab their purses as I walk by. And that fear carries over into the workplace with perceived 'angry black man' syndrome. My frankness means I'm angry. Will Cain's frankness means he tells it like it is. It's real folks."

"Regardless of what happens with the Martin case, profiling is a very real, uncomfortable problem for America," Lemon adds. "Honestly many whites don't see it because they don't have to. They don't live it."

Join the conversation and share in the comments below.

Filed under: Race • Social media • Trayvon Martin