Skip to main content


Return to Transcripts main page


Insults Fly in Battle Over War Funding; Hip-Hop Hypocrisy and Hillary Clinton; Should Handguns Be Banned?

Aired April 24, 2007 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody. Glad to have you with us tonight.
Here's what we're bringing out in the open tonight: Why are two of the nation's most powerful men trading insults inside the Capitol?

Hillary Clinton denounced Don Imus for his racist and sexist language. So, what about the $800,000 a foul-mouthed rapper raised for her?

And would you want a convicted sex offender living out in the open under a bridge near your neighborhood?

Out in the open first tonight: venom in Washington. It was a dramatic, tense scene in the Capitol today when Vice President Cheney and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, one after the other, exchanged insults. The backdrop is the debate over paying for the war in Iraq and whether to set a deadline to get U.S. forces out.

Congressional correspondent Dana Bash has the story for us tonight.


DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was an unprecedented moment. The vice president stepped up to the Senate microphones to blast the Democratic majority leader on Iraq.

RICHARD B. CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The timetable legislation that he is now pursuing would guarantee defeat. Senator Reid himself has said that the war in Iraq will bring his party more seats in the next election. It is cynical to declare that the war is lost because you believe it gives you political advantage.

BASH: Dick Cheney stood where Harry Reid usually talks to the press and accused him of inconsistent and irresponsible statements about the war.

Moments later, Reid reclaimed his turf and shot right back.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: The president sends out his attack dog often. That's also known as Dick Cheney. And he was here again today, attacking not only me, but the Democratic Caucus.

BASH: That intensely personal war of words over Iraq was just part of the day's dizzying back-and-forth up and down Pennsylvania Avenue over a Democratic bill to fund the war, but force troops to start coming home.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Instead of fashioning a bill I could sign, the Democratic leaders chose to further delay funding our troops, and they chose to make a political statement.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is an ethical issue. This isn't a political issue. I respect where the president is coming from on this. I wish he would respect where we are coming from, which is a reflection of where the American people are coming from.

BUSH: A precipitous withdrawal from Iraq is not a plan to bring peace to the region or to make our people safer at home. Instead, it would embolden own enemies and confirm their belief that America is weak.

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This president, divorced from reality, is accusing us of emboldening the enemy and undermining our troops.

Well, Mr. President, I have a message for you: The only thing that's emboldening the enemy is your failed policy.

BASH (on camera): All this white-hot rhetoric is especially remarkable because the outcome is a foregone conclusion. Congressional Democrats will send their plan to the president, and the president will veto it. So, this is about positioning for what happens after the veto, whether Democrats can convince Mr. Bush to sign any bill that forces change in his Iraq policy.

Dana Bash, CNN, Capitol Hill.


ZAHN: Let's go straight to tonight's "Out in the Open" panel, Air America Radio host Rachel Maddow, Niger Innis, a political consultant and national spokesman for CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality, and CNN contributor Roland Martin.

Welcome, all.

So, Rachel, it seems the vice president has gotten very comfortable playing the role of the bad cop. But where does this confrontation really go from here, when we know the president's going to veto this bill, and he's not going to allow the Democrats to force change in his Iraq policy?

RACHEL MADDOW, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, the president has said that he was going to veto it, almost no matter what was in it. He hadn't seen a final bill before he started giving those veto threats.

The Democrats, I think, were right not to back down and say, well, if you're going to veto it, we are going to ask for exactly what we want at the same time. The Democrats, I think, are playing a very hard hand here. They're pushing him as hard as they possibly can. The president just wants to keep staying the course.

ZAHN: You don't -- you don't think...

MADDOW: And he's going to have to play the price for it.

ZAHN: ... any part of this is theatrics?

MADDOW: Well, I mean, what is the -- what is the Congress supposed to do? The Congress can pass legislation, tell the president what they want. The president has the right to veto that legislation. They're both doing what they're constitutionally capable of doing.

The problem is that it is not two sides of the same coin. It's not just a tit-for-tat fight. Nancy Pelosi is right when she says that the Democrats have put forward what the American people have said they want to do on Iraq. It's the White House that is holding firm.

ZAHN: Are the Democrats emboldening the enemy by suggesting the withdrawal of the troops on this very specific timetable?

NIGER INNIS, NATIONAL SPOKESMAN, THE CONGRESS OF RACIAL EQUALITY: Well, there are two losers in this or -- probably even more than that.

ZAHN: But answer the question.

INNIS: The troops are losing, because they're not getting the funding that they need. Republicans are losing. And Democrats are losing.

The only one winner here are the enemies, exactly right. Al Qaeda plays -- important to understand this. This is a front in the global war on terror. It's not just one war in Iraq. It is not like, we leave tomorrow, and everything is peachy keen. We're still at war with Islamic extremists that want to kill us.

So, the question is, are we giving them the propaganda fuel for their fire to rally...


ZAHN: ... answer the question. You're saying they are.

INNIS: Absolutely, yes.

ZAHN: You are saying the Democrats...

INNIS: And Rachel is wrong, by the way.


INNIS: The president said that, when you give a timetable, I will veto this bill.

Timetable is the problem, Rachel.

(CROSSTALK) ZAHN: Roland, is this an ethical issue, as Nancy Pelosi suggested, or just a political stunt?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it is a political issue, but also keep in mind, there are thousands of U.S. soldiers that have been killed.

We have seen a number just, what, nine yesterday. And so people are very concerned about their sons and daughters coming back home alive. So, that is the critical issue. This is not political theater. Remember, when Newt Gingrich, speaker of the House, and Bill Clinton, when he was president, when they squared off over the budget, that was a war of wills. Bill Clinton won, had an impact. Democrats were able to regain Congress.

And, so, this is what you have going on here. Now, what I find to be interesting is, Dick Cheney wants to criticize Senator Harry Reid by saying, well, you're using the -- using this troop pullout for political purposes, when Karl Rove used the war on terror and spoke of it for two consecutive elections as a way to aid the Republicans. And, so, both sides are trying to use the war for political purposes.


ZAHN: Quickly here, Niger.

INNIS: You have got some points here. It is not a question of how we got into this war. And we can say that it was not correct, the way we got into this war.

But we're at war with al Qaeda right now, the people that attacked us. And we're giving them fuel for their propaganda fire right now.


ZAHN: And Congressman Dennis Kucinich today said, not only...


MARTIN: Iraq didn't attack us.

ZAHN: Hang on Roland -- did they get this wrong, that this administration out-and-outright lied and misled the American public, and he called for the impeachment of the vice president today.

Let's listen to what he had to say.


REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: These articles are filed in response to the question of, who are we as a nation that we can let high public officials violate the law with impunity, take us into war that are based on lies?

(END VIDEO CLIP) ZAHN: We know that one of the harshest critics of this war, John Murtha, thinks this isn't a very good idea on Mr. Kucinich's part.


ZAHN: What's the point of this exercise?

MADDOW: The point of this is that there should be an inquiry. The point is -- the point of this -- I agree with Dennis Kucinich for doing this. And I don't agree with him on everything, but I agree with him on this, because what he's done by filing these articles of impeachment is telling the Judiciary Committee, decide if you think there ought to be an inquiry into this.

We know the Dick Cheney played a central role in the outing of a CIA officer for political reasons.


ZAHN: ... issue of Iraq?

MADDOW: Yes. And he continues -- he continues to maintain, to lie, to misrepresent what we know about the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda, Iraq and 9/11. Those are big things. I think that we ought to look into whether they're...


ZAHN: Isn't it fair to attack Dick Cheney, when people perceive him as the chief architect of this war? Doesn't he deserve some criticism in the prosecution of this war?

INNIS: For me, what is much more relevant...

ZAHN: No, but answer the question. I don't care whether you think it's relevant.

INNIS: I think time and place is important.

And I think the relevance of what we're fighting right now in Iraq is 10 times more important than scoring politics points against Dick Cheney.

ZAHN: Roland Martin, you get the last word.

MARTIN: Look, very simply, we should have an inquiry. And the bottom line is, Dick Cheney wants to maintain that Iraq was involved in 9/11. And we simply know that is not the truth.

ZAHN: Stay right there. We have got a lot more to talk about tonight.

When we come back: Don Imus and his sexist and racist insults and how that got Hillary Clinton's attention.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: Really shouldn't be a place for that kind of outrageous commentary on the public airwaves.


ZAHN: Oh, yeah? So, why did her presidential campaign take nearly $1 million from a rapper known for his vulgar lyrics? We will bring that out in the open next.

Also, less than two weeks after C.B.s -- S, that is -- canned Imus -- I used to work for them.


ZAHN: CBS. Yes. Yes. I remember that network.



ZAHN: They did for a very long time.

Two more of the company's shock jocks are off the air for insulting Asians. You are not going to believe what they said.

And, after Virginia Tech, could the U.S. learn a lesson from Britain, which actually banned handguns after 16 schoolchildren were gunned down?

We will be right back.


ZAHN: Out in the open tonight: hip-hop hypocrisy and Hillary Clinton.

After Don Imus insulted the Rutgers women's basketball team, calling them nappy-headed hos, Senator Hillary Clinton was one of the biggest political names to come down hard on Imus for his racist and sexist language.

But now that we know that a rap star whose lyrics are filled with vulgar slurs has raised a lot of money for Clinton's presidential campaign, we asked Deborah Feyerick to look into that.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Hillary Clinton, the African-American vote is one she badly wants and badly needs. So, when Don Imus verbally attacked the Rutgers female basketball team...


DON IMUS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Why isn't there the same kind of outrage, let me ask you, in the black community when rappers and other people in the black community, athletes in the black community defame and demean black women...

AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: I am one of them that is outraged.

IMUS: ... and call them worse names than I ever did?


FEYERICK: Clinton quickly fired back.

CLINTON: That there really shouldn't be a place for that kind of outrageous commentary on the public airwaves.

FEYERICK: She even sent this letter to her supporters, calling the shock jock's degrading remarks about the team's looks and morals -- quote -- "small-minded bigotry and coarse sexism."

What she failed to mention is, days before the Imus controversy, she was guest of honor at a campaign fund-raiser hosted by this man. In the industry, he's known as Timbaland, a major hip-hop artist and music producer who collaborates with A-list artists like Justin Timberlake, Missy Elliott, and Nelly Furtado.

And, yet, Timbaland's own rap lyrics are just as bad as anything Don Imus said.

Just take a listen to a few of the words from Timbaland's latest album, shock value.


TIMBALAND, RAPPER (singing): Kill your self, kill your self. If I was you, I wouldn't feel myself. I'm tired of niggas. Niggas is tired. You ain't a G. I see bitch in your eyes. If you're close to me, you're supposed to be. But most of you rap niggas is hos to me.


FEYERICK (on camera): He uses hateful, degrading words. And, yet, Hillary Clinton's campaign walked away several hundred thousand dollars richer, which begs the question, did Hillary Clinton not know or not care about the lyrics when she agreed to the fund-raiser? Her campaign did not return our calls for comment.

LARRY ELDER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: It's completely hypocritical, completely inconsistent. And I think that it's just bizarre for her to criticize Don Imus for the language, when she is sitting there with a fund-raiser by somebody who is using the very same language.

FEYERICK (voice-over): But hip-hop Russell Simmons says the real hypocrisy would be not taking rap money and not meeting with the power base considered heroes by young African-Americans.

RUSSELL SIMMONS, CHAIRMAN, HIP-HOP SUMMIT ACTION NETWORK: You meet with oil companies. You take money from dirt all the time. Don't accuse a rapper of giving you dirt, when you take all that corporate dirt to meet with these -- please.

FEYERICK (on camera): Is she a hypocrite for taking the money or is she a hypocrite for giving it back?

MELISSA HARRIS-LACEWELL, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF POLITICS AND AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: I don't think she's a hypocrite in any way. I think she's a politician running for office, who is recognizing that hip-hop is one of the powerful money-making corporate machines, which can help produce the kind of money that a political candidate needs to run in America.

FEYERICK (voice-over): So, why is Hillary courting the hip-hop vote, when it could be a political liability?

FRANK LUNTZ, AUTHOR, "WORDS THAT WORK: IT'S NOT WHAT YOU SAY, IT'S WHAT PEOPLE HEAR": When you appear at a rapper's house, particularly one this popular and well known, it is instant street cred. However, it is also instant hostility for those who are against the language, against the music, against the essence of what hip-hop, to some people, seems to represent.

FEYERICK: But winning over that vote may cost Clinton another, that of the young women who look up to her.

Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.


ZAHN: We tried contacting both Timbaland and Senator Clinton, but neither returned our calls, nor our e-mails.

But the question remains, is this a case of political hypocrisy?

Let's put that to our "Out in the Open" panel right now, Air America Radio host Rachel Maddow, Niger Innis, a political consultant, national spokesman for CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality, and CNN contributor Roland Martin.

Roland, I am going to start with you. Let's play a little bit more from one of Timbaland's songs to give our audience an idea of the kind of language he routinely uses.


TIMBALAND (singing): All the hos love a nigga. They be backing it up. But, me, I love money. I be stacking it up. When my bandwagon pull up, they hop on board. They hop right on mine. They hop right off yours.


ZAHN: All right. So, we just heard Senator Clinton's critics bash her for accepting money from Timbaland, because of what they say is hypocrisy, at the same time she was attacking Don Imus.

Should she give that money back? MARTIN: Well, I think she should give it back, because it's a matter of being honest about it.

I mean, Russell Simmons is correct in terms of, you accept dirty money left and right. But what -- look, it is not like she had Timbaland in her iPod. I mean, let's just be honest here. She probably had to explain -- somebody had to explain to her exactly who Timbaland is.

But it's not just that. Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, in the last election, was involved in a major get-out-the-vote campaign. And you have not only that. How many record executives have given money to Clinton? I also want to know that as well.

ZAHN: All right.


ZAHN: Well, we know that -- we know that Barack Obama's campaign has also taken money from...

MARTIN: David Geffen.

ZAHN: Rapper Ludacris' label.

MARTIN: David Geffen.

ZAHN: But let's come back to Hillary Clinton's campaign.

They will not tell us exactly how much she accepted, nor will they tell us if she really knew of the extent of the vulgarity in his lyrics.

INNIS: I don't think she cares.

ZAHN: Do you buy that?

INNIS: I don't buy it.

ZAHN: Is it a case of not knowing or not caring?

INNIS: It's a case of not caring. It's a case of, let's just make sure that the check clears, so I can spend this money for my campaign and my war against Barack Obama.


INNIS: Look, the fact of the matter, Roland's dead right. It is more than just these rappers. It is the whole entertainment -- I say this again and again -- entertainment industrial complex.

I mean, you have got these rappers that go across and star in movies; 50 Cent, a former unrepentant drug dealer, is about to play an Iraq war veteran in a movie. Rapper Ice-T, that used to do videos about cop-killing cops, plays a cop, and has for 10 years. Hollywood has these guys and are promoting these images of young black men that has a detrimental impact in the black community, a definite, specific impact on young black males and young black females. And that's what we need to be outraged about.


ZAHN: And, Rachel, you are not going to tell me tonight it is just Obama and Clinton that are guilty of taking so-called dirty money.

MADDOW: Well, no. I mean, your outrage on this is unbelievable to me, the idea that you would be so outraged about Timbaland giving money. But Exxon giving money and then seeking...

INNIS: I'm outraged about the industry...

MADDOW: Exxon -- the...

INNIS: ... and what it's doing to black young people.

MADDOW: ... entertainment industrial complex?


MADDOW: Literally, the oil company buying politicians wholesale in order to get what they want, in terms of environmental policy and energy policy, agribusiness buying what they want, in terms of food safety going down the toilet in this country.

We have got big pharma buying the worst health care system that is the most profitable system in the world. And what we're upset about -- what we're upset is Timbaland.


INNIS: And you at Air America, you guys talk about that every day, five days a week.


INNIS: I'm glad that you're finally, and that media, mainstream media, is finally talking about the entertainment industrial complex.


INNIS: And I hope we hold them to the same standard that we have these big -- big pharma, big oil, all these negative industries.


MADDOW: What do you think Timbaland thinks he's getting for his money? Do you think they're trying to...


INNIS: Influence and credit and political leverage and power, absolutely.


ZAHN: Hang on.

MADDOW: Come on. Get real.

ZAHN: Let's get Roland to jump in here.

MARTIN: Paula, I think -- also, this is not just about Timbaland.

And, again, I made the point -- and we have to also look at it. How many of the record execs, the people who get their bonuses, who are making more money than Timbaland, how much money have they contributed?

INNIS: Lots.

MARTIN: If you're going to just target the rappers, you also have to target those who are also making their money off it as well.

Look, in the last election -- Joe Lieberman, in the last election, he was criticizing Hollywood, but they were raising money from the same producers producing violent films. That is the reality of politics. It is not a question of what is right and what's wrong.

I do think, though, she is probably going to get some pressure, have to return some of the money, maybe the money directly that came from him, as opposed to the entire fund-raiser. But she is going to have to stand up. When you criticize Imus, you are going to have to be equally critical of people you accept money from.

ZAHN: All right. Quickly here.

INNIS: She should learn a lesson -- she should learn a lesson from her husband, who really came to the fore. His campaign was compelled by criticizing Sister Souljah, and Jesse Jackson for having her at his convention.

ZAHN: All right. Stay right there.


ZAHN: A lot more ahead tonight.

MARTIN: But I bet Bill has got Timbaland on his iPod.


ZAHN: Save it. Save it, Roland. Save it.


ZAHN: Under intense pressure -- I'm going to finally get the name of the network, a place where I worked for 10 years straight -- CBS finally fired Don Imus. But now two more of the company's shock jocks are under fire.

Out in the open next: Things may never be the same for their -- those two shock jocks.

Also ahead: Britain banned handguns after 16 schoolchildren were killed in a massacre 11 years ago. Could a ban here in the U.S. prevent another Virginia Tech tragedy? We will debate that as well.


ZAHN: Tonight: two more shock jocks off the air because of vulgar, racist and sexist language. We're bringing this story out in the open tonight because they work for CBS, the same company that fired Don Imus less than two weeks ago for his offensive language.

This time, the target of the insults were Asians. And CBS let the insults air twice before yanking the jocks off the air.

Dan Lothian has that story for us tonight.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are a very nice Chinese man.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably. Can't drive for (EXPLETIVE DELETED), but who cares?


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF: What was your initial reaction when you heard what was said?


LOTHIAN (voice-over): Vicki Shu Smolin, who runs an Asian- American advocacy group, is still angry about an offensive stunt by two New York City radio hosts, racial and sexual slurs that she says crossed the line.

SMOLIN: You get numb. You just -- you sit there and you wonder -- and I was wondering, you know, as an Asian-American and as a woman, I'm completely offended.

LOTHIAN: It was a six-minute phone prank called into a Chinese restaurant by J.V. and Elvis of CBS-owned New York radio station WFNY.

It first aired in early April, the day after Don Imus made his controversial comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team. What's even more shocking, it was aired again a week after Imus was fired.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need shrimp flied lice.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. A large order or small?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very large shrimp flied lice.



LOTHIAN: The seemingly unsuspecting employee's accent is mocked. There are sexual innuendoes, like hot and spicy references to Asian women, and jokes about kung fu.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have very good kung fu skills.


SMOLIN: To crack jokes on our behalf, no matter what ethnicity, it doesn't -- it will not get you ratings.

LOTHIAN: In a short statement, the radio station says -- quote -- "Following their recent on-air comments, WFNY-FM has suspended J.V. and Elvis without pay until further notice" -- no comment yet from the radio personalities.

(on camera): The radio station is located on the 14th floor of this building on West 57th Street. Officials denied us access. But, in addition to that short statement, they say that the radio hosts have apologized.

For some Asian-American leaders, an apology and a suspension are not enough.

SMOLIN: They have a history of mimicking Asian accents, of making fun of Asian-Americans. It has to be a firing, because they're just going to come back and do the same thing again.

LOTHIAN: You want them to be fired?

SMOLIN: I want them fired, yes.

LOTHIAN (voice-over): But experts say that, in shock radio, controversy is just what stations are selling.

MICHAEL HARRISON, EDITOR AND PUBLISHER, "TALKERS": The fact of the matter is, these are carefully selected paid and hired agents of these corporations to do a premeditated type of entertainment. So, that's really the story here, not, what are we going to do about these shock jocks who are out of control? They're willing to take the risk because they know it gets ratings.

LOTHIAN: Smolin hopes to put pressure on advertisers and plans to protest, until, she says, what happened to Don Imus happens to J.V. and Elvis.

Dan Lothian, CNN, New York.


ZAHN: Let's go straight back to tonight's out in the open panel, Rachel Maddow, Niger Innis, Roland Martin.

All right. We know this was a radio comedy show, a show that routinely made fun of Asian-Americans. Why are they going to get suspended now?

INNIS: Well...

ZAHN: And why did CBS air this particular program, which people find vile, twice?

INNIS: Because you guys didn't expose it, like you are now.


INNIS: And the fact that you have now, in this era, in this atmosphere that exists, there's no way these guys can survive it.


ZAHN: So, you were insulted by this language?

INNIS: It was a little offensive.

ZAHN: You didn't get the joke? There was no joke, as far as...


INNIS: I didn't get the joke. It was offensive to me.

But I have to also say, though, to balance things, I'm a little bit apprehensive about this era that we're in. And I'm a little nervous about when -- when is it going to cross the line to political speech that you don't find -- that you don't agree with, and when are people going to start protesting that? That's what I'm waiting for.


ZAHN: You got Rachel laughing.


MADDOW: You're the guy who was just screaming about the entertainment industrial complex and how we need to crack down on people's bad language in music.


MADDOW: And now we need to -- now we need to worry about the free speech rights, now that it's racist speech. Unbelievable.


ZAHN: Are you concerned there's a slippery slope here?

MADDOW: Well, listen, I'm a radio host. And I play with this line every single day. It's an occupational hazard of being a radio host.

You have free speech rights as a citizen. You do not have a right to be broadcast to America or to any media market. And, if your stock and trade -- if the way you get ratings and the way you entertain people is by playing with how offensive you can be without getting fired...

ZAHN: Well, that's what these guys have done for years.

MADDOW: ... that's what you -- that's what these guys have done. And they will get hired by somebody else. And they will get fired from there. And they will get hired by somebody else. And they will get fired from there. That's what this...


MADDOW: ... of radio is.

ZAHN: You're talking about the reality.


ZAHN: Do you think that's right? Or do you think these guys should just be fired and never be hired again?

MADDOW: Am I disgusted, as an American, that what we find amusing as a people is utterly mean, viciously -- viciously nasty humor that puts other people down in a racist and sexist way? Yes.

Do I think there are free speech implications for this? No.

ZAHN: All right, Roland, you do a radio show, too. Were you insulted by this?


MARTIN: Well, I mean, obviously -- first of all, it wasn't that funny. And, so, they were making fun of them. That's what shock jocks do.

As Michael Harris has said, this is why they get hired. Look, they were suspended because they were stupid. OK? They were dumb. In this climate, you don't do it. After Janet Jackson, or her boob came out, you didn't see anybody acting the fool on the Grammys, any awards show, because everybody was on high alert. And then what happens is, everybody calms down. It gets relaxed.

You are going to see a time when shock jocks are able to push the envelope to continue to do it.

ZAHN: All right.


MARTIN: But, right now, in the wake of Don Imus, they're not going to be able to do it.

ZAHN: But, Roland, Niger is very concerned about that envelope being pushed and pushed further, at the same time this criticism grows, and how, ultimately, you might try to get someone to try to censor what people consider offensive political speech.


MARTIN: They already try to do that. They already try to do it, Paula.

And the bottom line is, it's a matter of platform, OK? That's the difference. These guys are shock jocks. Like I said before, Don Imus was no longer a shock jock. He had crossed the line to more of the establishment kind of guy. That's what you have.

We look at entertainment different. When we see Denzel Washington on the screen and he says ho, we don't go, oh my God! Denzel Washington called a woman a ho!

No, it's like, he was acting. When we see a comedian on stage, we hear a shock jock, we hear a radio talk show host who is in politics...

INNIS: But do you know what is the problem with that, Roland?

MARTIN: ... people understand different levels. And that's the whole key thing.

INNIS: But the problem that, Roland, is that there is now a real thin line between entertainment and politics. You said it, P. Diddy did a get-out-the-vote campaign.

MARTIN: Very true.

INNIS: People like Russell Simmons used 50 Cent, an unrepentant drug dealer, and Eminem to actually get -- inspire people to get out the vote. So these guys actually...


INNIS: Entertainment actually now leverages political power.

ZAHN: The lovely lady gets the last word to that. Rachael Maddow, 10 seconds. MADDOW: The standards of offensiveness evolve over time. People who play with that line of what is too offensive are playing with fire all the time. It's an occupational hazard.

ZAHN: Niger Innis, Rachael Maddow, Roland Martin, thanks.

After the Virginia Tech massacre, should the U.S. look to Britain for a lesson on gun laws? Handguns were banned there after 16 school children died in a bloodbath. I'll put that question to one of this country's most famous gun rights backers, rock 'n' roll legend Ted Nugent.

Also ahead...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're desperate, they're angry. And who do they hang around, but other sex offenders. And they feed off each other's anger and their desperation.


ZAHN: So how did a bunch of convicted sex offenders end up living together "Out in the Open" under a bridge?


ZAHN: There were some remarks from President Bush about his growing concern about school shootings. We're bringing that "Out in the Open" tonight. The president was speaking about last week's shootings at Virginia Tech. Here's what he told students at a New York school just a few hours ago.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Schools should be places of safety. They should be a sanctuary of learning. And when that sanctuary is violated, the impact is felt all across the country. It is felt in every classroom.


ZAHN: And that classroom sanctuary has been repeatedly violated in places such as Columbine High School, a small Amish school in Pennsylvania, and now the latest in Blacksburg, Virginia. This latest massacre is once again sparking calls to ban handguns.

As Paula Hancocks reports, that's what the British government did after an horrific shooting rampage in a school 11 years ago.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 9:30 a.m., March 13th, 1996, a man named Thomas Hamilton walked into this elementary school in the small Scottish town of Dunblane, armed with two semiautomatic pistols and two Smith & Wesson revolvers. He entered the gymnasium where this class of 5- and 6-year-olds were starting their day. Within three minutes he had fired 105 bullets, killing 16 children and their teacher, then turned the gun on himself.

This sleepy town of Dunblane gained instant notoriety. The site Britain's worst modern gun-related massacre. Ten-year-old George Bundy (ph) was in a nearby classroom during the attack.

GEORGE BUNDY, DUNBLANE SURVIVOR: Most of our class were crying. Then I heard gunshots in the gym and bullet shots in the windows.

HANCOCKS: Britain was in shock. Politicians came to pay their respects. The queen came to lay a wreath and visit a dozen more children who had escaped death but not injury. Parents had repeatedly complained about Thomas Hamilton. The police had investigated him.

But it was perfectly legal to purchase and own the guns he fired that day. Anger and grief fueled an immense anti-gun campaign. Petitions were handed to the then-opposition leader, Tony Blair, and Diana Princess of Wales.

Indeed, Blair ran his campaign for prime minister partly on a platform of banning handguns. And, of course, he won. A year-and-a- half later, private ownership of all handguns was banned in Britain. Citizens are not allowed to have them for sport shooting or protection or any reason at all.

Dr. Mick North helped the campaign in memory of his 5-year-old daughter Sophie.

DR. MICK NORTH, DUNBLANE PARENT: No one ever said that this would completely end all gun crime. What we haven't had in Britain since 1996 is a mass shooting.

HANCOCKS: North wishes America would react to the Virginia shootings the way Britain reacted to Dunblane, but he knows that's unlikely.

NORTH: I think that's very sad. And I think America needs to rethink its relationship with the gun.

HANCOCKS: Paula Hancocks, CNN, London.


ZAHN: So is banning handguns the way to prevent future massacres, like the one at Virginia Tech? Let's debate that now with rock guitarist and outspoken gun rights activist Ted Nugent, and constitutional lawyer Michael Gross, who wants semiautomatic weapons banned.

Good to see both of you. Ted, I'm going to start with you tonight by comparing some statistics between the United States and the U.K. going back to 2004. That's when 75 people were killed in the U.K. compared to 11,000 people killed in the U.S. So based on the population of the two countries, that means there are 30 times as many Americans at risk of dying from gunshots. So why not ban handguns here if there hasn't been a massacre in Great Britain since they were banned?

TED NUGENT, GUN RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Well, you're really comparing apples and grenades, Paula. Greetings to you. But I think what the argument is about is my right to defend myself versus people who don't think I have the right to defend myself.

Every one of these mass shooting have taken place in gun-free zones, which is the gun control -- the gun banners' dream scenario. But most importantly, I've just recently discussed the Scotland Yard report over in England. And in fact, since they've banned the private ownership of self-defense weapons, including handguns and shotguns and rifles, that the violent crime rate in England, most notably, the violent crime rate with the use of firearms in England, is at an all- time high.

We've got a different society over there. But as soon as you guarantee the unarmed helplessness of civilians, you have a red carpet welcome mat for the most violent, evil amongst us. And those of us in America who know that we have a God-given right to defend ourselves, we will not let that happen here.

ZAHN: All right. Michael, he's not buying into these statistic at all about how Americans are at much greater risk of dying because of all these handguns on the street. Why shouldn't I have -- or Ted have the right to defend themselves?

MICHAEL GROSS, SUPPORTS BAN ON SEMIAUTOMATIC WEAPONS: Because we're killing each other with these guns. It is not just that we are at greater risk. Innocent people are dying by the hundreds every week in this country compared to down to one a week in those countries where they are banned.

And the statistics that the Nuge talks about are hogwash. The facts are simple. We're not in Deadwood anymore. Get rid of the guns. That time is over. And when the Second Amendment was written, which is being contorted by these people who say they have an absolute right to carry guns, there weren't even police forces.

Ask the cops whether we should have guns or not, whether vigilantes -- trigger-happy vigilantes should be out on the street. It is tough enough for cops to kill the right people when they're in a gun fight.

ZAHN: All right. Ted, I would like to read you something that the governor of Virginia had today when he acknowledged there was a loophole in the law which allowed someone like Cho, who had a history of mental illness, to get his hands on at least two guns.

Let's listen to what he had to say.


GOV. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA: ... was not committed to an institution. That information wasn't given to the database. And that's one of the things that we're looking at very immediately.

Less than half of the states currently share information about mental health adjudications with the national database.


ZAHN: All right. While you so fiercely believe that every American has a right to defend herself or himself, will you concede tonight that there are cracks, that there are problems in this background checking process that would allow someone like Cho to get guns?

NUGENT: That makes my point exactly, Paula. What Michael Gross...


ZAHN: But should he have been able to get a gun?

NUGENT: What Michael would like to do is he would like to implement the bureaucracies that are failing us, to continue to fail us, and increase their failures so that they think they can protect us while the loopholes that they create won't allow me to defend myself. That's bizarro world.

ZAHN: All right. Now hang on a second. So you're saying there shouldn't be any change in the laws, that it was fine for his mental history not to have been revealed because...


NUGENT: No, not at all. No. That's not...

ZAHN: ... committed?

NUGENT: That is not what I'm saying at all. This guy was known to be a nutcase. In every instance, these people are known to be nutjobs from the academia to the mental health system, to law enforcement, to their own peers. Everybody was sounding an alarm.

This guy slipped through a bureaucratic crack that I'm not going to allow me to become helpless because they can't protect me.

ZAHN: Right. But how would you catch that bureaucratic crack?

GROSS: With his insane suggestion that students be allowed to have guns on campus to defend themselves against other students who are going to kill them. Talk about nutcases. That's insane.

NUGENT: I think good people should be able to defend themselves. You don't think people should defend themselves. But the ACLU that Michael represents thinks that men should have sex with underage children.

Michael, you're a nutcase. And I don't trust you to protect anybody, much less the... (CROSSTALK)

GROSS: I'm sorry that I don't speak for the ACLU. I certainly respect their organization.

NUGENT: You should be sorry.

GROSS: But you've got it wrong.

NUGENT: Because they're the problem.

GROSS: What you're doing is simply supporting the NRA. Everybody...


NUGENT: No, I'm supporting self-defense...


GROSS: ... knows that the era of guns are over...


NUGENT: Everybody in this country knows we have the right...


GROSS: ... since the sheriff took them, since the bartender took them.

NUGENT: ... to defend ourselves.

GROSS: Get out of here with these guns. We don't you want you killing innocent people anymore.


NUGENT: If you don't want to defend yourself, have at it. I'm defending myself.


GROSS: Our legislature is in the hands of the NRA.


NUGENT: Here's the bottom line, hey, Michael, we have the right to defend ourselves. Case closed.

GROSS: Bought and paid for. Otherwise, we would have laws that would prohibit the use of guns.

ZAHN: All right. You two...

NUGENT: I'm defending myself. ZAHN: ... I've got to cut this off.

GROSS: Well, then let's have a duel.

ZAHN: I'll bring you back for another duel. This one has got to end right now. Michael Gross, Ted Nugent, thank you both.

When we come back, why are a bunch of sex offenders living "Out in the Open" under a bridge? A bizarre story that is causing plenty of route outrage in Miami.


ZAHN: All right. Now I've got a little work for you to do right now. I want you to try to imagine this bizarre scene. A convicted sex offender asked a judge to put him back in prison and the judge says no. Well, it happens to be the latest twist in a story we've been following about several sex offenders who are now living "Out in the Open" under a bridge in Miami.

Here's John Zarrella with more.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kevin Morales (ph) is a registered sex offender. For more than a month now, he has been living here, along with three other offenders, under a bridge. Now he's about to ask a judge to throw him back in jail.

KEVIN MORALES, CONVICTED SEX OFFENDER: When I was in, I would only dream about the day when I would get out. And now I can only dream about the day when they take me in.

ZARRELLA: Morales and the others live under the bridge that separates Miami from Miami Beach because state corrections officers have nowhere else to put them. Laws in both cities prohibit sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of schools, playgrounds and anywhere children congregate.

MORALES: In jail, I'm able to sleep. You know, they provide me with a mattress to lay my head down at night.

ZARRELLA: Morales has come here, to the Dade County courthouse. In courtroom 6-2, Morales pleads his case before Judge Ellen Venzer. He's allowed to address the court. Morales asked Judge Venzer to convert his probation time to jail time.

MORALES: But you do have the power to review my case, and I plead with you to please.

JUDGE ELLEN SUE VENZER, DADE CO. CIRCUIT COURT: I do not wish for you or anyone else to be living under a bridge. OK? I don't. Having said that, I don't have the authority to, A, change the laws. I understand that you are between a rock and a hard place.

MORALES: How am I going to find a job? Live a productive life so I can get myself out of homelessness?

ZARRELLA: In the end, Kevin Morales didn't get what he asked for. But there is one person who stays in touch with Morales and believes forcing him to live under a bridge is wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's cruel. It's cruel.

ZARRELLA: We're hiding this woman's face because she is related to the family, and she is Kevin Morales' victim.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is not an ideal situation for somebody to live under a bridge and wake up in the morning and say, hey, you know what? I'm going to continue with my life because I'm not a bad person. You know, it kind of beats down on the soul of a person.

ZARRELLA: Few officials would talk with us about how Morales and the others are living. The mayor of Miami Beach wouldn't agree to an interview, nor would the Miami mayor, or the city's police chief or Miami state attorney. Miami-Dade County Commissioner Pepe Diaz, who voted for and supports the laws that keep sex offenders 2,500 feet from where children congregate and live, has no sympathy.

COMMISSIONER PEPE DIAZ, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY: As a human being, I don't want anybody living in conditions like that. As a father of three and a lawmaker in this county, I can't have sympathy for somebody that is willing to do a crime against a child of that level or that magnitude.

ZARRELLA: Back at the courthouse, Kevin Morales is a beaten man.

MORALES: I go back to the bridge, and live a -- you know, my days as I have been. What I consider that they had a productive person contributing to society they've pretty much handicapped him and made him homeless.

ZARRELLA: For now, there is no alternative to life under the highway.

John Zarrella, CNN, Miami.


ZAHN: We're going to move along now. "LARRY KING LIVE" coming up in just a few minutes.

Hi, Larry. Who is joining you tonight?

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Hi. We're going to look at the whole Alec Baldwin matter. We're going to replay a recent interview that I did with Alec in which he fully discusses his relationship with his wife and his child. We'll also have his brother Stephen on. And then a panel that includes Dr. Phil McGraw -- our own Dr. Phil, two divorce lawyers, the managing editor of the blog that broke the story, and a family law judge as well. All that ahead. The saga of Alec Baldwin at the top of the hour.

ZAHN: Sounds like it could be pretty interesting, Larry. We'll be watching.

KING: Thank you.

ZAHN: Hey, sorry, I missed all of your celebrations last week. Happy 50 years in the business.

KING: Well, we're only doing part of them. We've got more coming this week because of the Virginia Tech story. But I'm sorry that you weren't at the gala party, it was quite an event.

ZAHN: Yes, we were unfortunately on campus where things were very, very depressing. But we'll look forward to toasting you next week. We're going to let the anniversary party roll on.

KING: I'll see you in New York.

ZAHN: OK. Thanks, Larry.


ZAHN: When we come back, an American woman in Iraq. She's a major in the Army. Her latest mission is teaching Iraqi women how to be leaders. She's one of the people you should know. Be right back.


ZAHN: This week's deadly attack on U.S. soldiers in Iraq reminds us of the constant dangers our troops face while serving on the front lines. But you're about to meet a soldier that is taking on the mission that goes far beyond the call of duty. Here's Kyra Phillips with tonight's "People You Should Know."


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): For the past 10 months, U.S. Army Major Michele Spencer has been in Iraq serving her country.

MAJOR MICHELE SPENCER, U.S. ARMY RESERVE: We support the global vision.

PHILLIPS: But now she's engaged in another battle, one for the women of Baghdad.

SPENCER: They have so much hope. They laugh, they love, they are beautiful. These women, they are us.

PHILLIPS: Spencer says although Iraqi females face severe oppression...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, yes, yes, women!

PHILLIPS: ... they are motivated and intelligent women who crave an outlet for their voices to be heard.

SPENCER: They want peace and they want to strive to build a better country and for a better nation, a better world. PHILLIPS: To help do this, Spencer has formed an organization called the Journey of Courage. The group holds forums in secured Baghdad locations to inspire and educate both American military and Iraqi women. Spencer teaches them leadership skills and arms them with the tools to tackle issues and make a change.

Spencer, who also teaches yoga in Baghdad, is returning to the United States soon. But she plans on using the power of the Internet to continue her efforts worldwide.

SPENCER: It's really going to take a lot of energy from the Iraqi women that are in the organization to create a network and build a place so other women can come together, use the Internet and start connecting with women all over the world.

PHILLIPS: Kyra Phillips, CNN, Baghdad.


ZAHN: And we are just minutes away from the top of the hour. "LARRY KING LIVE," the controversy over Alec Baldwin's disturbing voicemail to his daughter. What made him so upset? We'll be right back.


ZAHN: And that wraps it up for all of us here tonight. Thanks so much for joining us. We hope you have a good rest of the night. We'll be back same time, same place tomorrow night. Until then, have a good night.


© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines