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PAULA ZAHN NOW
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Meets With Syrian Officials; Slavery and the Queen
Aired May 3, 2007 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice now talking with officials from Syria and Iran -- is that a sign of desperation over the chaos in Iraq?
Plus, what is my colleague Glenn Beck doing in the middle of a protest march? The answer involves some really raunchy language.
And, 400 years after Jamestown, should Queen Elizabeth apologize because the British brought in slaves?
A few months ago, the Bush administration pointedly ignored advice to reach out to Iran and Syria to help stop the bloody chaos in Iraq. Well, today, that changed. At a conference in Egypt, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with her counterpart from Syria, and at least exchanged pleasantries with an official from Iran.
So, what's out in the open, progress or desperation?
To find out, we sent State Department correspondent Zain Verjee, and she sat down with the secretary of state just a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Talks with the enemy for Iraq's sake.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: They were substantive. They were professional and businesslike.
VERJEE: After a two year deep freeze, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke with Syria's foreign minister to get Damascus to stop turning a blind eye to insurgents crossing its borders into Iraq.
RICE: He said that he understands that Syria has no interest in an unstable Iraq. But, of course, actions speak louder than words. And I'm hoping that they will carry through.
VERJEE: The Bush administration bashed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for reaching out to Syria last month, saying she was rewarding bad behavior. (on camera): Did you just do that?
RICE: OK, it's one thing to go to Damascus and to have those pictures that suggests a relationship that doesn't exist with Syria. This was really very, very limited to Iraq.
VERJEE (voice-over): And despite the hype over a possible Iran- U.S., officials say Rice just exchanged smiles and hellos when she ran into Iran's foreign minister over lunch.
(on camera): Do you want to have more candid discussions, potential one-on-one, in this context with...
RICE: We're not...
RICE: We're not seeking a bilateral with Iran, nor are they seeking one with us. But the real breakthrough is that we are all here together at this conference to support Iraq.
VERJEE (voice-over): Disappointing to many here, hoping the thaw between the U.S. and Iran could ease tensions in the region. Rice admitted that the Shia-led government of Prime Minister Nouri Al- Maliki is not delivering on promises to include Sunnis into the political process to ease sectarian tensions.
But the Bush administration is reluctant to threaten the Iraqi government with consequences, if they don't live up to their word.
RICE: They do need to deliver, and they do need to deliver more urgently. Our concern has been that we don't want to limit our own flexibility.
VERJEE: Iraq's Sunni neighbors are not as patient.
(on camera): The message that you have been sending to Iraq's Arab neighbors is that look, there has been progress in Iraq. But many Arab leaders are saying, we just don't see it.
RICE: I talked with Prince Saud, the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, and with others about the fact that we are seeing a reduction in sectarian violence. We are seeing greater even-handedness.
VERJEE (voice-over): And she told Arab leaders here stability in the Middle East depends on a secure Iraq.
RICE: It is really in their self-interest to have an Iraq that is stable, an Iraq that can be a force for fighting terrorism in the region. It's not going to do anybody any good if Iraq is in chaos.
VERJEE: She says the situation in Iraq is not perfect, but:
RICE: The fact is that we have no choice, for our own security, as well as for the security of the region, to support this government and to help them make it work. VERJEE (on camera): Secretary Rice says, it's important to reach out to those who have a hand in Iraq's future, even if it means sitting down with countries the U.S. considers trouble.
Zain Verjee, CNN, Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
ZAHN: So, is talking with the enemies like Syria and Iran really the way to peace?
P.J. Crowley was a special assistant for national security under President Clinton. Jed Babbin worked in the Defense Department during the elder President Bush's term.
Glad to have both of you back with us tonight.
P.J. CROWLEY, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL DEFENSE AND HOMELAND SECURITY, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Hello, Paula.
JED BABBIN, FORMER DEPUTY UNDERSECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Hi.
ZAHN: Jed, I'm going to start with you.
You heard the secretary of state fiercely defend her meeting with the Syrian foreign minister. Do you think it will yield anything positive in Iraq?
BABBIN: No, not hardly.
I mean, we have been trying things like this long before the Iraq operation. I mean, Warren Christopher was going on his hands and knees to beg Father Assad back in 1993 to do something positive. We have been having back-channel discussions with them all along. They do not have the interests we have.
Mrs. Rice -- Ms. Rice is making a very fundamental mistake in thinking that the Syrians have any interest in a stable Iraq. It's just flat wrong. And she's making a big mistake by approaching it that way. Talking to these folks is probably not a bad idea. But you need the mailed fist in the velvet glove. And she's not it.
ZAHN: All right. I see you have got P.J. laughing with that one.
Has she made a fundamental mistake here, in thinking that the Syrians are looking for a stable Iraq?
P.J. CROWLEY, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL DEFENSE AND HOMELAND SECURITY, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well, look, it's very nice to see that either Condi Rice is being allowed to or is actually now doing her job. She is the senior diplomat for the United Nations of America.
We need more days like this, if we're going to dig ourselves out of the hole that we find ourselves in, in Iraq and the Middle East. I mean, four years ago, Jed and his neocon crowd thought that the Middle East would be self-ordering. We knock off Saddam Hussein, and everything would fall neatly into place.
Now we understand that we have to work hard at this. Condi Rice did the right thing today. We need -- but this has to be not just a one-off opportunity. We need to have a larger conversation with all of the neighbors to Iraq, including Syria, including Iran, over months, if not years, to try to find a way out of Iraq in the short term, and to resolve some of the larger issues that we face in the long term.
ZAHN: Jed, you said you didn't specifically have a problem with her talking with the Syrian foreign minister, but she might -- made a fundamental error in believing that he would do anything -- make Iraq any better.
I want to play something that President Bush had to say when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi traveled to Damascus to talk to the Syrians.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have made it clear to high-ranking officials, whether they be Republicans or Democrats, that going to Syria sends mixed signals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: So, the secretary of state didn't travel to Syria, but she certainly reached out to the Syrians today.
BABBIN: Well, but the point, Paula, really is that the secretary of state is the authorized representative. Ms. Pelosi was playing at diplomacy. And her excellent adventure in Damascus did nothing but demean the United States.
Ms. Rice is making a fundamental mistake here. And, as much as P.J. wants to hope that something good is going to come out of this, hope is not a policy. We're making a fundamental mistake by just talking to these people this way. We should talk to them, but not this way. We are admitting weakness. And Ms. Rice is essentially pleading for Syrian help. You're absolutely not going to get it that way.
ZAHN: And, P.J., Syria being a state sponsor of terror...
CROWLEY: Of course, yes.
ZAHN: Poke -- poke some holes in what Jed is just saying here.
CROWLEY: Well, look, I mean, you know, Condi Rice has been allowed, because you have had some removal of hard-liners and obstructionists, like Donald Rumsfeld, John Bolton. Now you're seeing that, for example, we engaged North Korea, and now you have at least a piece of paper that -- and a process. It doesn't guarantee success, but at least now the situation, arguably, is not going to get worse.
BABBIN: Another piece of a paper, another piece in our time. (CROSSTALK)
CROWLEY: And, Jed, through his means, we have focused on regime change for six years. It's got us absolutely nothing. We're spending $9 billion a month in Iraq. We have lost more money and more people than we did on 9/11.
If we're going to resolve the situation in the Middle East, it's not going to be done by occupation. It's not going to be done by military means. It's going to be done through diplomatic means, political means, economic means. And, so, the kinds of things that Condi Rice is doing, we need more days like today. But it needs to be sustained, with a clear message over an extended period of time, if we're going to succeed.
BABBIN: We have been doing this...
ZAHN: Gentlemen, we have got to leave it there.
You ruined Jed Babbin's day with that, but we will bring you back to debate more on another night.
P.J. Crowley and Jed Babbin, appreciate your time.
What does Condoleezza Rice have in common with Rosie O'Donnell and Osama bin Laden, but not President Bush? Here's a hint. It has everything to do with influence, or lack of it, according to a magazine.
And a little bit later on: why the Reverend Al Sharpton led a protest through New York, and why my colleague Glenn Beck joined him.
Plus, look who's on our side of the big pond tonight. There he is, our man from London in person, Richard Quest himself.
Welcome back, Richard. Welcome home.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening to you, Paula.
In just a moment: When does an apology not involve saying the words "I'm sorry"? When it comes from Queen Elizabeth II. I will tell you all about the state visit. The first day, it's under way.
PAULA ZAHN NOW continues.
ZAHN: Out in the open tonight; outrage over hip-hop. Coming up in a little bit, will marches like this that you're going to see shortly get rappers to clean up their acts?
But, first, why would Justin Timberlake make anyone's list of the world's most influential people, when President Bush doesn't? Is it because the president is a lame duck or this is a lame list?
Well, the list is the annual "TIME" 100, and it hit newsstands -- or will hit newsstands tomorrow.
To bring the selection process out in the open, here's "TIME" magazine's deputy managing editor, Adi Ignatius.
Welcome. Good to see you.
ADI IGNATIUS, DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR, "TIME": Hi, Paula.
ZAHN: So, how do you decide who makes the list, Adi?
IGNATIUS: Well, you know, several months ago, I asked for nominations from all our correspondents around the world -- we also talked to experts in various fields -- for who they think -- remember, this is a list of the most influential people in the world. So, you can't -- you can't quantify the way you would with, say, a Fortune 500 list.
We got lots of nominations, had a list of maybe 1,000 people, you know, all worthy, and then whittled that down over the past several months to the 100.
ZAHN: All right.
So, was President Bush in the original 1,000?
IGNATIUS: Yes, he was in the original 1,000.
ZAHN: All right.
And was there any debate not -- about not having him last until you hit 100?
IGNATIUS: Sure. There was plenty.
I mean, the office of the presidency carries a lot of influence just by itself, the bully pulpit. You know, Bush has squandered a lot of that built-in influence. He had no coattails in the national election. There are prominent Republicans who are moving away from him. He's down in the opinion polls.
People are -- are moving away from him on Iraq. So, you know, we thought, even for a lame-duck president, this is a low ebb for influence in the presidency.
ZAHN: We're going to put some of the latest approval ratings up to -- to bear out the point you were making about some of his personal negatives.
But, when you look at these numbers, and then take a look at some of the other people -- and we're going to move to that graphic now -- who made your list, we're having trouble understanding why, despite all those things you have just said, Condoleezza Rice and General David Petraeus would make the list, and -- and Roger Federer, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and still not the president.
IGNATIUS: Well, I think the point is that you define influence a lot of different ways.
Sure, we could have put 100 heads of state on the list. But influence is more than just whether you're the leader of a country or a dictator. It's -- there's also soft influence. And that's from artists. That's from entrepreneurs. That's from entertainers.
And, you know, in terms of how our lives are affected and transformed, it's not just from -- from sort of top leaders. So, I -- I have no problem having examples of sort of soft influence on a list that does include, you know, big leaders as well.
ZAHN: How much heat are you taking because the president didn't make this 100?
IGNATIUS: Well, it's funny. Well, it's a good question, because, every day, in the press, there's a piece that says, you know, the president has -- has lost influence, is down in the polls, you know, can't get this done, can't get that done.
And, then, we do this list that says he's not among the most influential, and everybody says, hey, what are you doing? You know, in fact, I think our list reflects what -- what is happening in the world and what all of us are seeing and reading every day.
ZAHN: Adi Ignatius, our audience will get to see your magazine tomorrow, when it hits the newsstands. Thanks so much for your time tonight.
IGNATIUS: OK. Thank you.
ZAHN: The members of my "Out in the Open" panel influence plenty of people, even though they didn't make the -- "TIME'"s list this time.
ZAHN: Darrell Ankarlo hosts a radio talk show in Phoenix, Arizona's KTAR-FM. Crystal McCrary Anthony co-hosts the BET cable network's program "My Two Cents." And Michael Eric Dyson teaches humanities at the University of Pennsylvania.
And, Crystal, I'm going to start with you tonight.
You heard what Adi just said about the reasons why President Bush did not make the list, waning influence because his -- his personal approval number is down, doesn't have coattails...
CRYSTAL MCCRARY ANTHONY, AUTHOR & COMMENTATOR: Sure. Sure.
ZAHN: ... many members of the Republican Party running away from him. Do you buy that?
ANTHONY: Well, two things kept going through my mind, rather dismal. But I don't think his publicists are as good as those other folks, number one.
ANTHONY: Number two...
ANTHONY: Number two, I really don't think that anyone is taking him very seriously now. Are we viewing him really as the president now, going to the lame-duck argument?
I just don't think that -- you know, part of me feels this was -- what was going on with "TIME" magazine? What were they trying to tell us by this serious dis, which it cannot be taken as anything other than that by the -- by the White House.
ZAHN: Is that how you read it, Darrell?
DARRELL ANKARLO, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Absolutely. Stop and think about it for a minute.
Osama bin Laden makes the list. Barack Obama makes the list. Hillary Clinton makes the list. And the president of the United States, who can decide, oh, I don't know, a little thing called the Supreme Court and what will happen there, the Iraq timetable, the Afghanistan timetable, whether we go to war or not, he doesn't make the list?
Popularity numbers down, we all get that, but he's still one of the most influential men, not just in this country, but the world. And I see it as an agenda to marginalize the president. And it just proves to me that "TIME" magazine simply doesn't matter anymore.
ZAHN: Is that what you -- the way you see it, Michael...
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: No, I don't.
ZAHN: ... the irrelevance to the magazine, or do you see this as the irrelevance of the president, as some see it?
I don't "TIME" magazine is irrelevant. Since you're going to deal with hip-hop later, one late rapper said, I went from ashy to classy. I guess the president has gone from classy to ashy here.
The reality is, popularity is not influence. Influence is critical. It's determined by what you're able to impose upon another human being, a situation or an institution. And I must agree. Even though I think I, in spirit, agree with "TIME" magazine's dis of the president, which is long overdue, the reality is, he is an awfully influential person.
I had a tete-a-tete with the president, so to speak. He called me out on national television. I have been audited this year. He has tremendous influence in my life and, I suspect, in the lives of millions of others.
ZAHN: Oh, you are really respecting him tonight.
ZAHN: Oh, we get that, Darrell.
DYSON: Oh, listen here. Oh, no, no. The influence is deep on me.
The reality is, he's not very popular, but he is extraordinarily influential, because even his crass indifference to the claims and cause of so many people who suffer means that he has tremendous influence over the lives of millions of people.
ANTHONY: I think this is a continuation of a message being sent.
ANKARLO: And I think that's the problem, Paula.
It's turned into -- it's turned into a popularity contest. And, as your editor just explained, well, it's not supposed to be about popularity. It's supposed to be about influence.
And that is the point here. You may be upset with the president. He may be having problems in the ratings, but he's still a very powerful man. And I'm just amazed that he doesn't make the list. It is a major disrespect to our commander in chief.
ZAHN: Do you find is disrespectful? We heard what you said at the top. I'm not clear on where you fall on that.
ANTHONY: Well, I do find it to be disrespectful, but I also think that it's a sign of how disenchanted the country is with President Bush.
ZAHN: But these are journalists. These aren't magazine editors making these decisions.
ANTHONY: I know. But they're citizens. They're -- they're angry. They're upset about Iraq. They're upset about health care. They're upset about poverty and education, lack of educational opportunities. And look who is in office. And just -- he's going to get blamed for that. And he hasn't done a whole lot to put himself in a situation to get out of that blame.
DYSON: And that disrespect that they ostensibly showed him is no greater than or not nearly equal to the disrespect he's shown to the political process and the ability to...
ANKARLO: Yes, but it doesn't count.
DYSON: ... forge coalitions.
DYSON: Let me finish -- forge coalitions and connections between Americans, the way the president should do.
So, he's wasted and squandered his influence.
ZAHN: Darrell, a quick final thought, 10 seconds.
ANKARLO: Yes, but -- yes, real quick.
He says he talked to thousands of people. He had 1,000 people on the list. And here, we're -- we're hearing that he hasn't made the list because he hasn't been influential in these areas. Most definitely he has. And, if they're reporters, as they claim to be, they have to report the facts.
And, "TIME" magazine, you blew it this time.
ZAHN: And we need to report the fact that "TIME" magazine happens to be owned by our parent company of CNN.
DYSON: You're very influential.
ZAHN: That would be the Time Warner Corporation, right?
DYSON: Very influential.
ZAHN: Darrell Ankarlo, Crystal McCrary Anthony, Michael Eric Dyson, thanks.
ANKARLO: But, Paula, you matter.
DYSON: Thank you.
ZAHN: We will keep our fingers crossed for the three of you next year.
ZAHN: Well, maybe the 200 list.
ZAHN: Britain's Queen Elizabeth is also on "TIME"'s list of the world's most influential people. She just happens to be here in the colonies tonight to celebrate the town that started it all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUEEN ELIZABETH II, UNITED KINGDOM: We are now in a position to reflect more candidly on the Jamestown legacy. Human progress rarely comes...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Out in the open next: Did she or didn't she apologize for the British bringing slaves to Jamestown?
ZAHN: Well, tonight, Britain's Queen Elizabeth is in our country, her fifth visit here as queen -- her first stop, Virginia.
ZAHN: Whew. That music just blasted my eardrum out.
First stop was in Virginia to mark the 400th anniversary of the first English settlement in the New World. But what we're bringing out in the open now is what some African-American leaders were hoping to hear from the queen, an apology for slavery.
In case you missed high school history, or don't remember much of it, the British started the slave trade in Virginia.
And Richard Quest is at the Jamestown Memorial Church tonight. Always good to have him here in our country.
So, the big question tonight, did she or didn't she, Richard?
QUEST: If only it were that simple, Paula.
The truth is, whether it's aboriginals in Australia, Maori in New Zealand, Native Americans in the United States, everybody wants the queen to apologize for colonial wrongdoings.
And, as she made clear today, there's more than one way to say, well, maybe we're sorry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUEEN ELIZABETH II: Human progress rarely comes without cost. And those early years in Jamestown, when three great civilizations came together for the first time, Western European, Native American, and African, released a train of events, which continues to have a profound social impact, not only in the United States, but also in the United Kingdom and Europe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: You have to read between the lines.
Just listen, Paula. She got in Western Europe, Native Americans, Africans. She talked about human progress without cost. So, yes, she apologized, as much as you're ever going to hear from Queen Elizabeth II.
ZAHN: It sounds like there was an awful lot of political correctness on display here today, as well as all of the obvious pomp and circumstance.
QUEST: Paula, let me tell you, there are few stories that are more difficult than this. You can't call Native Americans Indians, so she has to be careful. We can't talk about the first settlement in the New World, because it was the old world, because the indigenous populations were here already.
She can't be seen to forget about changes and about slavery and the abolition of slavery. So, the whole -- the whole visit is a mine field of difficulty, political correctness, not offending anybody.
In the last two or three days, Paula, several organizations have contacted CNN to protest about this or that or the other, what the queen will say, won't say, will do, won't do. And that, perhaps, is why this visit is so important.
ZAHN: Hey, did you get to shake her hand today?
QUEST: No. I have shaken it in the past. And, as you know, Paula, she shakes your hand, not you shake hers.
ZAHN: Oh, I do remember that pesky little rule of protocol.
Richard Quest, thanks so much. Have fun with the queen in the days to come.
QUEST: Thank you. Thank you.
ZAHN: All right.
So, back to our question of the night: Should the queen apologize for slavery?
Let's ask a couple of guests now, Dwight Billingsly, a columnist for "The Saint Louis Post-Dispatch" -- he's also a Republican committeeman in Missouri" -- and delegate Dwight Clinton Jones, a Democrat who is chairman of Virginia's Legislative Black Caucus.
Delegate Jones, are you disappointed the queen didn't apologize? DWIGHT CLINTON JONES (D), VIRGINIA STATE LEGISLATOR: It would have been extremely nice and gracious of the queen to have said a kind word or to have specified an apology.
But I guess your previous speaker was right, when she -- when he said that she came as close as he possibly could to making an apology.
ZAHN: Mr. Billingsly, you said that slavery wasn't personal. It was history. And, yet, there was a lot of flak back in January when Delegate Frank Hargrove said that blacks should just get over it.
And although he went on to say that's not exactly what he really meant to say, we have Delegate Donald McEachin saying this: "Leaders and heads of state have a responsibility to set the tone. And it would be a welcome move for the queen to express regret."
Wouldn't that have set the proper tone on this trip?
DWIGHT BILLINGSLY, COLUMNIST, "THE SAINT LOUIS POST-DISPATCH": Well, Paula, I don't think it would have at all. There's nothing to apologize for.
America has evolved into the kind -- has evolved into the kind of country that all of us who live here can be proud of, offering unparalleled opportunity to all people. And black people benefit from that as well.
There's nothing she has to apologize for. Perhaps maybe some of the formed -- the newly-formed Western African nations might want to apologize for having sold their people into slavery, if you want to go back that far. You can take this thing into the realm of ridiculousness.
ZAHN: Well, what about that, Delegate Jones? A lot of people are saying that this is just pointless that people were demanding this of the queen. You have had Tony Blair, President Clinton, lots of heads of state, -- or at least say on the record slavery was wrong. What more do you want?
JONES: Well, that's kind of a short view.
If you had been there today, it was a wonderful panoramic view of the vastness of our culture. The Indian tribesmen and the chiefs were there. Seventeen members of the Legislative Black Caucus, that I'm the chairman of, were there, along with the other members of the General Assembly.
And it's important for us to recognize that slavery did happen. It is a part of our history. It does not mean that we're celebrating it. It does not mean that we are overemphasizing it.
But, in order for us to know where we're going, we have to know where we have come from.
ZAHN: But, Mr. Billingsly, isn't that the charge here tonight, that this is exactly what has happened, that, yes, this was a horrible scourge, but folks have to move on?
BILLINGSLY: Look, look, Paula, everybody -- everybody who has gotten past maybe the third grade knows slavery happened. It did happen. I don't think anybody would deny that.
But I brought with me tonight a copy of America's apology to black people. And it's called Amendment 13 to the United States Constitution, that says neither slavery nor involuntary servitude except as punishment shall ever exist within the United States or any place subject to their jurisdiction. They passed -- that was an apology --
JONES: That was an -- that was not an apology for slavery. That's an amendment to the constitution.
BILLINGSLY: That was the apology of people who went through slavery who were slave owners to people who were slaves. For -- you know, maybe --
JONES: That's not an apology for slavery.
BILLINGSLY: Why don't you ask the building and trades unions to apologize to black people for keeping them out of good-paying jobs so your children won't have to debase themselves by begging white people of their generation for an apology.
JONES: It's important I think, Paula, for African-Americans as well as America to recognize that we have a balanced approach to how we proceed as a culture.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR, PAULA ZAHN NOW: All right.
JONES: We need to proceed as...
BILLINGSLY: That doesn't mean anything. We proceed to be the greatest culture in the history of the world. You interrupted me in my last set of comments.
ZAHN: Unfortunately, I got to proceed to a commercial break, but I appreciate both of you joining us tonight. Dwight Billingsly, thank you, Delegate Dwight Clinton Jones, thank you as well.
Tonight is outrages over hip-hop and some of the raunchy lyrics. That is not only out in the open tonight. He is marching through the streets.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. AL SHARPTON: Can't have standards for some and when it comes to women and African-Americans, you don't have standards.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: We'll ask headline prime colleague Glenn Beck why he was marching right alongside Reverend Al Sharpton. We'll be right back.
ZAHN: The controversy of rap music back out in the open tonight. And I want to warn you, whenever we cover stories about this, the language and images that you're going to see may offend some of you. The Rev. Al Sharpton has just wrapped up a protest march through Manhattan. He's calling on the huge corporations that own the major recording companies to ban racist and sexist language. Jim Acosta now joins us live from New York's Columbus Circle with the very latest. He's about 175 yards from this very studio. Jim, what's going on out there?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, not much right now, Paula. But to those who ask why Al Sharpton goes after Don Imus. but does not go after the rap music industry, the reverend responded today. Earlier this afternoon, he held what he billed was a decency, a march for decency here on the streets of New York and he organized this protest to coincide with James Brown's birthday, yes James Brown the entertainer. So Sharpton, along with some of Brown's family members and about several hundred other protesters took to the streets of Manhattan, taking their march past the headquarters of some major music companies here in the city starting with Sony music and heading past Universal music and Warner Music. The reverend did not pull any punches, using some very strong language to call on those companies to crack down on offensive lyrics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Nigger, ho and bitch should be a standard just like anti-Semitic terms, just like homophobic terms, just like any other terms. You can't have standards for some and when it comes to women and African-Americans, you don't have standards.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: And one of the protesters out here this evening was rap pioneer Kurtis Blow. Blow told us in a quick interview that we did this afternoon that if he can have a successful career in rap music, then so can today's generation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KURTIS BLOW, RAPPER: I'm one of the oldest hip-hoppers you probably will meet, and I've recorded over 150 rap songs. And I've never used profanity. So I'm -- I'm living proof that there is the responsibility. That it is possible that you can have a career in rap music and totally, totally have some integrity with your music.
ACOSTA: And not to be forgotten, also in the crowd this evening were dozens of school-aged girls who also joined the call for the hip- hop world to clean up its act.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm out here because I'm tired of being called names in music and I don't like it at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: And we should mention that Al Sharpton did conclude his march out here in front of the Time Warner center in New York, thinking that Time Warner still owns part of Warner Music Group. In fact, we checked with the folks here at Time Warner today and the company no longer owns any part of Warner music. Paula?
ZAHN: He certainly got an audience in front of our building tonight. Jim Acosta, thanks so much. One of the people marching with Reverend Sharpton tonight is Headline Prime's Glenn Beck. You know him. And I spoke with him about that a little bit earlier on today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Let me get this straight. Reverend Al Sharpton is the same guy who as recently as 10 years ago, told record executives not to cave in to the right-wing pressure to censor lyrics. It was their first amendment right to say what they want, to sing what they want. Does he have the credibility to have any impact of removing this language from hip hop?
GLENN BECK, CNN ANCHOR: You're asking a guy who 12 years ago was a flaming alcoholic. Do I have any credibility to even answer that question? I do believe he believes as well as I do that rap is a poison in our society and it doesn't matter what color you are. I think it's important for all of us, however, to start to unite and stop looking for people we completely agree with on everything. We're not going to find those people. Those people are plastic. Let's find the people who say, you know what? I may not agree on your policies, but I agree on your principles on this, this, and this. And on those principles I'll unite with you.
ZAHN: You're going to have to target a much broader audience if you're going to make any dent at all in this battle. Let's --
ZAHN: Let's show our audience a concert from Trinidad, "Billboard" charts number one rapper, Akon right now where he pretty much simulates having sex. Akon is backed by Universal Studios. He was a guy who was featured on "American Idol," one of the most watched television shows in American history. What does that tell you about what you're up against in changing public opinion?
BECK This is where I think Al Sharpton is wrong. He's going after the record companies. He says I'm not going to go after the artists. First, here's the first step wrong. You're not going to go after the artist, but you went after Don Imus, I mean artist as well. So that doesn't make sense to me. But going after the record companies, the problems lie in the families. The problem lies in me allowing my kids to witness that, to watch that, to consume that. We've got to target the families. We have to -- we have to wake each other up and say this stuff is poison. It is poison. When we stop wanting to consume it, it will go away. ZAHN: What does that say about the American public, that (INAUDIBLE) guys like Akon?
BECK: I think it says frightening things. I says a couple of things. It says that either parents are completely disconnected from what their kids are watching. Either that or it's says that the parents don't think it's a problem, and that's an even bigger problem.
ZAHN: Well, what about the opinion of someone like Russell Simmons that has been marketing this stuff for years? Let me put up on the screen what he had to say about what you consider highly offensive lyrics. Quote, the difference between those words coming out of a rapper's mouth and his mouth is that when a rapper says them, they are not racial. If I walk to a black man on the street and say, N with a blank expression, nine times out of 10 he would hug me. That is a fact. How do you counter that message?
BECK: You have to counter it with this. Bull crap. You as a news reporter, you're a journalist. You couldn't even use that word on a news program, not because of some journalistic standards, but because it's wrong. Don't tell me that you as a journalist can't use that word, but you can use it in everyday conversation. It's either right or it's wrong. Let's stop with the grays. There are a lot of things in life that are black and white and this is one of them.
ZAHN: Glenn Beck. Good luck. And he's done. He's resting his tired feet at this hour.
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ZAHN: Tonight, we're going to bring some disturbing news about pro basketball out in the open. Coming up next, are the referees showing racial bias?
Plus a little bit later on, a CNN hero who takes old computer parts and recycles hope.
ZAHN: Tonight, the possibility that racial bias is influencing the outcome of NBA games is out in the open. It's an explosive debate started by researchers who studied 14 years of box scores. They say their numbers prove that referees have an unconscious racial bias. CNN sports correspondent Larry Smith has more.
LARRY SMITH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The NBA prides itself on being the most progressive league in the country. Seventy percent of its players are African-American. It has more minority head coaches and team and league executives than any other sport. But that harmony is being questioned by an academic study done by a University of Pennsylvania professor and a graduate student from Cornell University. It claims white referees call more fouls on black players than white players. And black refs blow the whistle more on white players. JUSTIN WOLFERS, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: The effects are reasonably subtle. It took us 14 years of data and 600,000 foul calls to be really comfortable with our results. These are referees who undergo tremendous training and tremendous feedback and have incredible incentives to get rid of any of these biases. Yet we still find something here.
SMITH: The study examined box scores of NBA games from 1991 to 2004 and showed that black players got up to 4.5 percent more fouls than white players and that teams that had the most black players won slightly fewer games. Current and former players say that while racism may still be a fact of life in America, they don't see that on the court.
CHARLES BARKLEY, FMR NBA PLAYER: Racism does exist in our society, but there are always going to be more calls against black players because there are more of them.
KENNY SMITH, FMR NBA PLAYER: I think the one thing that most players would say inside that box, that's probably the court, so to speak, is the only place and the only sanctity where you feel that your teammates don't look at your color, your referees. Maybe the fans do, but the players and everyone else don't.
SMITH: The NBA saw the study before it was released. The league itself examined the play from November 2004 to last January and says it found no racial bias. But an NBA executive said the academic study quote, only looked at calls made be three-man crews. Our experts were able to analyze calls made be individual referees. This is a fundamental flaw in their analysis making it nearly impossible to determine if, in fact, race affects play-calling. Wolfers contends that regardless of if it was a white or a black referee making the calls, players were affected differently each night depending on the racial make-up of the entire officiating team.
WOLFERS: I think a more reasonable response from the NBA would be to be to say this is very interesting analysis and it shows how far we've come and that really as to other context (ph), we're doing really well.
JASON KIDD, NEW JERSEY NETS: The game is so fast, I don't think they have time to see who is, you know, what color they just called a foul on, I mean, of the person. They just are calling what they see.
SMITH: The NBA says that it will not release the details of its study due to reasons of confidentiality. Paula, it should be noted that 38 percent of the NBA's referees are black. That's up from 34 percent a couple of years ago, an increase that took place long before this issue became black and white. Let's go back to you.
ZAHN: Lots of numbers to absorb and create that picture. Larry Smith, thanks so much.
Right now we're going to move on and take a quick biz break. The Dow closed up 29 points setting yet another record. The Nasdaq gained seven, the S&P earned six, closing above 1,500 for the first time since the dotcom boom. General Motors feeling the pain from the sub- prime mortgage meltdown. First quarter profits were down 90 percent compared to last year. GM owns 49 percent of mortgage lender GMAC.
With the average price of gas nearing $3 a gallon, some Democrats in Congress say it's time to pass a Federal law against gas price gouging. Most states already ban it. We'll be right back with more.
ZAHN: And welcome back. This week, Larry King is celebrating his 50th year in broadcasting. He's got a special show coming up for all of us in just a few minutes. He's got a great week going this week Larry.
LARRY KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thank you. I'm very proud of it with George Tenet and Katie Couric hosting me. And having Oprah on on Tuesday night. And then tomorrow night, Bill Maher is going to host the special toast with a lot of surprise guests. They surprise me. But tonight I guess is the creme de la creme. It's the CNN presents production that's -- I'm just a hired hand. And Ryan Seacrest and Anderson Cooper are the co-hosts and it's two hours. And what they've done, a very unique idea, they've taken pop culture in the 50 years and combined it with -- as seen through my eyes the pop culture of the United States and world through those 50 years of broadcasting. I started in 1957. And then in conjunction with that, they've released the DVD called the greatest interviews, which is available on Amazon and lots of places and on my show, they give you a phone number you can call to get it and this is over 300 interviews, tin types of interviews that we've conducted throughout the years. So it's been quite a week and I can't believe it.
ZAHN: Well, congratulations. You don't look like you've been at this 50 years, Lar.
KING: Thank you. In fact, I don't feel it. The funny thing is, I remember the first day I was on like yesterday. Where did it all go? Where did time go? Don't you feel time just --
ZAHN: It just marches by so quickly.
KING: What happened? What happened?
ZAHN: What happened? We'll have to revisit it all on videotape, Larry. Look forward to your show tonight.
KING: Thank you. Enjoy it.
ZAHN: We'll put up that number for your videotape as well.
KING: You're a doll. Thank you, dear.
ZAHN: Have a good show. We'll put that number up.
We're turning our focus now to the weekend and Saturday's 133rd running of the Kentucky Derby. Twenty horses will be in the race and for one owner, Churchill Downs is a really long way from his first career. Ali Velshi has tonight's life after work.
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Kentucky Derby, the run for the roses. It's the horse race of horse races. Jim Scatuorchio is betting on Scat Daddy, a horse he co-owns. Jim says investing in horses is as risky if not more so than trading stocks.
JIM SCATUORCHIO, CO-OWNS RACE HORSES: I worked on Wall Street for over 30 years in one particular firm, Donaldson, Lufkin, Jenrette, and all of those years I had some involvement in horse racing.
VELSHI: While he worked on Wall Street, Jim invested in race horses with small groups of people. He liked it and made enough money off of it that she decided to spend more time and more money on the ponies after he retired in 1998.
SCATUORCHIO: I was fortunate enough to get involved with a horse called TelltheCat (ph) that was successful in the partnership I was in. After that, went on my own. And then right about the time I retired, came up with a horse called More Than Ready that ran the 2000 derby and finished fourth and now it's more of a business.
VELSHI: Scatuorchio now owns about 30 horses and he says that can be more unruly than the traders he used to manage on Wall Street. Despite it being a business, don't think Scatuorchio is immune to the emotions of race day.
Owning a race horse is an experience like nothing you've ever experienced. When you stop getting cotton mouthed two minutes before they go into the gate, then you probably shouldn't own any race horse any more. I still get it. It's quite a thrill.
VELSHI: Ali Velshi, CNN, New York.
ZAHN: Saturday is going to be quite a race.
The man I want you to meet next hasn't retired. He's found a way to help people by actually using computer parts that no one else wants. You've got to see this guy's story. It's next.
ZAHN: This week and all this year, we're shining a spotlight on some very special people. Each one of them has a remarkable story. We call them CNN heroes. James Burgett was once a homeless addict. Now he's helping others on the road to recovery, while trying to save the environment.
JAMES BURGETT: This is tape two. The corporate motto is obsolescence is a lack of imagination. If we don't reuse our waste now it's all that future generations will have.
My name is James Burgett. I have been collecting electronic waste and giving away computers for the last 13 years. I hire people that are outside of the normal employment stream. I teach them how to build the computers. I have been pretty much on my own since the age of 14. I slept on people's floors. I slept in various places. I started pulling computers out of dumpsters, refurbishing them and trying to sell them. The objective was to fund my drug habit. Every time I made any money I immediately stuck it up my nose or in my arm. I quit doing drugs because I found that giving away computers gave me a self-image that made it so I didn't need to do so.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's very adamant to giving away for free. This is one of the things that he wants to do, he can do and he will do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're not going to ruin it. This is your computer. If you ruin it we'll give you another one.
BURGETT: We hire convicts. We hire people with psychiatric histories. We hire people with drug histories. All you really need to do is give them something that they can say, I'm not a parasite today. These are the best feelings we've had since we did drugs.
Just checking in Aaron. Got anything I need to know?
It's all gravy. OK. We take things that are considered broken and we then repurpose, refurbish. This applies to me. This applies to my staff. This applies to every computer we give away. Every single thing you see here, somebody, somewhere, decided it no longer had value and they were wrong.
ZAHN: We know a hero. That wraps it up for all of us here tonight. Thank you so much for joining us. We'll be back tomorrow night for a special hour on rehab for the rich and famous and not so famous. Hope you join us then.
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