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PAULA ZAHN NOW
Imus Fallout Creating Climate of Fear on Talk Radio?; Muslims in America; Falwell's Legacy
Aired May 22, 2007 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: And thanks for joining us. Paula has the night off.
Here are the stories that we're bringing out in the open tonight. Why does one out of every four young Muslims in America think that suicide bombing is OK?
On the day of Reverend Jerry Falwell's funeral, I will talk to a man who says he wishes there were a place in hell for the reverend's soul to burn in.
And is the Don Imus fallout creating a climate of fear on talk radio? Would that really be so bad?
But, before we get to that, there's important breaking news out of Washington right now that outlines a new deal to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Well, they're now out in the open. This could end the veto fight between President Bush and congressional Democrats.
Let's get straight to correspondent Andrea Koppel on the Hill -- Andrea.
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, that's right.
As part of a compromise hammered out between Democrats and the White House on that emergency war spending bill, there would be two votes on two different measures. They would include one on the $94 billion that President Bush said he needs to keep those wars going in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as political and economic benchmarks the Iraqi government would be required to meet. And, if it didn't, the U.S. would withhold much needed Iraqi reconstruction aid.
The other vote would be on whether to increase the minimum wage for the first time in about 10 years, as well as in about $20 billion in domestic spending for post-Katrina cleanup and veterans health care.
But, in a big concession to the White House, neither one of these votes would include a timeline for U.S. troops to withdraw. Now, sensitive to criticism that Democrats caved to White House demands, a top House Democrat said that President Bush won't be getting everything he wants either.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. RAHM EMANUEL (D), ILLINOIS: It ends the blank check on more troops, more money, more time and more of the same. And it begins the notion that we have to have a new direction to Iraq that has accountability, standards that you can measure progress or not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOPPEL: Now, the House is expected to vote on these measures on Thursday. The Senate could be voting on Thursday or Friday, which means, Kyra, the president could get a bill on his desk by the end of the week -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: So, Andrea, just because there are no timelines for withdrawing troops in this bill, I'm guessing this doesn't end the Democrats' drive to force the president to bring troops home. What are you hearing?
KOPPEL: You -- you better believe it.
In fact, they were saying that at tonight's press conference over and over again, the fact that there are a couple of bills coming down the pike that have to do with defense spending for next year's budget for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the rest of the Pentagon budget.
They are going to plan to attach language to bring U.S. troops home to both measures in July and in September -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Andrea Koppel, thanks.
Also out in the open tonight: some fascinating new numbers about Muslims in America. A first-of-its-kind Pew Research Center poll shows that, while a vast majority of Muslims in America, 78 percent, are happy with their lives, the shadow of 9/11 is ever-present.
Fifty-three percent say their lives have been more difficult since then. Thirty-three percent say one in three, well, they have run into some kind of intolerance, from being treated with suspicion and called names, to actual violence.
And here is where it really starts to get disturbing. While 78 percent of Muslims in the U.S. say suicide bombings of civilian targets is never justified, 13 percent say, sometimes, it is. Most disturbing, support for suicide bombings is greatest among Muslims under 30. Twenty-six percent say suicide bombing could be justified.
We asked Ted Rowlands to check out opinions among Muslims in the Los Angeles area.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Outside the Tripoli Bakery in Anaheim, California, Arab-Americans we talked to say they understood why the Pew Research study has produced some results that many other Americans may think are shocking. On top of the list is the finding that 25 percent of Muslims in the United States under the age of 30 think suicide bombing is sometimes or at least rarely justified.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can put themselves in those people's shoes. The Americans cannot do that. They don't know what's going on out there.
ROWLANDS: Another surprising result for many Americans is how few Muslims living in this country, only about 40 percent, think that Arab men carried out the attacks on September 11. But in neighborhoods like this one in Orange County, where you find thousands of Muslim-Americans, it comes as no surprise.
RASHID ALAM, MUSLIM-AMERICAN: How the family of bin Laden could escape from the United States after the 9/11?
ROWLANDS: Ahmad Alam and Ray Sayeed (ph) say most Arab-Americans think the hijackers must have had help from the U.S. government.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cannot deny that they were on these five planes. Nineteen Arabs were there.
ROWLANDS: Haitham Bundakji, vice chairman of the Islamic Society of Orange County, says he thinks the numbers from the Pew study are actually low, especially when it comes to September 11.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can tell you a good 80 percent believe that it was not the work of the Arabs, that there is a conspiracy, and, also, that it might be an excuse for someone, probably in the administration itself, to give them the excuse to go to Afghanistan and Iraq.
ROWLANDS: The war in Iraq and deaths there of thousands of Muslims have a big effect in American Islamic communities. But, overall, people we spoke to here describe themselves as American first.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's why we're here.
ALAM: We came here by choice.
PHILLIPS: Now, Ted, did the people you talk with give you any specific reasons why they think that the 9/11 was not carried out by a group of Arabs?
ROWLANDS: Yes, a number of reasons.
First off, they don't truly believe that these Arabs would be able to do it, you know, physically do it. They wouldn't be able to, you know, carry out this plan and be successful. They said there's no way that they believe that bin Laden would still be on the run if he wasn't getting any help. And, finally, most importantly, there's a sense that the biggest losers from 9/11 are Arab-Americans and Arabs around the world. And they say, it just doesn't make sense, to them, that Arabs could be behind this. As crazy as it sounds to many other Americans, they truly believe they had nothing to do with 9/11.
PHILLIPS: Ted Rowlands, thanks.
Well, the Pew poll shows that most Muslims are happily assimilating into American culture. So, is it their responsibility to calm down the young hotheads?
With me now, Edina Lekovic, who is a member of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, and Imam Husham Al-Husainy of the Karbalaa Islamic Center in Dearborn, Michigan.
Great to have you both with me.
Edina, I want to start with you.
Does it surprise you that 26 percent of Muslims here in the U.S. under the age of 30 believe that suicide bombings are justified?
EDINA LEKOVIC, MUSLIM PUBLIC AFFAIRS COUNCIL: Well, let me tell you what doesn't surprise me.
It doesn't surprise me that at least three-quarters oppose suicide bombing in all forms and see no justification for it whatsoever. The fact that there are, potentially, disenfranchised youth who express these viewpoints is a cause for concern.
And it's the very reason that the mainstream Muslim community is working actively, on a day-to-day basis. And there's nobody who is working harder to fight extremism than the mainstream Muslim community and Muslim organizations across the country, because we know that the way to bring youth from the margins to the mainstream is by creating opportunities.
And that is exactly what we are aiming to do by working with Muslim youth, in order to -- for example, my organization, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, is holding a youth summit with Muslim student leaders from across the country in Washington, D.C. this summer to show them that they have access to -- to mainstream channels, and to give them opportunities for inclusion and for integration, because that's the real story behind this poll.
The real story is in the headline, which is the mainstream middle class.
PHILLIPS: Absolutely. And whether it's here in the U.S. or overseas, obviously, the -- the future generation is what is so important about changing the stereotype, this mind-set.
Imam, it's a small number. Even though you don't want anyone to think that you could justify a suicide bombing, this does look good for the future, correct, because it's a small number? IMAM HUSHAM AL-HUSAINY, KARBALAA ISLAMIC CENTER: Well, actually, even this small number is not fair, and it is not true, because they survey as the Muslim in America only 2.5 million. And, actually, there are around eight million. So, the number would go much lower.
Besides, most of these people who answered positively, I believe they come from Middle East with the war syndrome, with the effects just like you are asking the American and -- to make a survey after Pearl Harbor or after 9/11 or after the World War II.
So, you have got to see the -- the mentality of the suffer people who are victimized in Middle East. And the only thing they speak out of, you know, oppression and occupation and things like this.
I -- I believe most of the Muslims believe -- and I'm one of them -- suicide is a sin, and we cannot -- no -- no believer can kill innocent people. And I can show you verses and verses and chapters of Koran against the killing of innocent or suicide.
Even when they said yes, actually, they don't mean just come and kill an innocent. I believe they mean to liberate their country, for example, or to fight some kind of colonialism.
PHILLIPS: So, you're saying those under 30 -- you're saying those under 30 are not in your mosque saying, Imam, I believe that...
AL-HUSAINY: No. No.
Edina, what how about you? Those under 30, in your organization, in Los Angeles, is anyone saying to you, well, now and then, I think suicide bombing is OK? And, if, indeed, that has happened, even looking at this survey, should we worry about our malls, our schools? If indeed one of these individuals under the age of 30 does believe in this, are we at risk here in the U.S.?
LEKOVIC: My experience in the Muslim-American community -- and I travel across the country, going to college campuses, going to conferences, interacting with communities in mosques and community centers.
I'm out there. And I talk to people across this country. I don't see the support for the statistics in -- that are represented in the survey. That's not to say that -- that there they're necessarily -- that they're distorted or anything along those lines.
You know, as the imam said, you know, any support for suicide bombing has to be addressed head on by our community. We know that we are the ones that have the most to gain and the most to lose when it comes to fighting extremism. And it's a task we take very seriously.
PHILLIPS: And I know...
PHILLIPS: Go ahead.
LEKOVIC: Well, I mean, what -- what I wanted to say is that it -- this can only be done by working directly with Muslim youth.
We have to recognize and reinforce the vast majority of those who are seeking inclusion and opportunity and who believe in the American dream, which is also what this survey shows, is that Muslim-Americans, by and large, are -- you know, have higher income levels, higher educational levels than the national average. And they believe that hard work pays off in this country.
So, given the opportunity to succeed, we -- you know, the future can be -- can be even better. And it's -- you know, it's -- it's within our grasp.
PHILLIPS: And I know both of you are doing that and relaying that message.
Edina Lekovic, and Imam Al-Husainy, thank you both so much.
AL-HUSAINY: Thank you and God bless you.
LEKOVIC: Thank you.
PHILLIPS: We're going to move on to the Reverend Jerry Falwell's funeral. You won't believe what one of my next guests is saying about his legacy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "VANITY FAIR": It shows how much vulgarity and fraud and bigotry you can get away with on mainstream airways in this country, as long as you have the word "reverend" in front of your name.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Atheist Christopher Hitchens takes on Jerry Falwell's legacy, as well as one of the reverend's admirers, next.
We are also going to check out what some shock jocks say is a climate of fear that's descended on talk radio.
And, while Rudy Giuliani likes to boast about his record as a crime-fighting prosecutor, the part we're bringing out in the open tonight may really shock you.
PHILLIPS: Out in the open tonight: a story that critics of presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani say exposes his ruthless side.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) PHILLIPS: Out in the open tonight: the controversy over the legacy of the Reverend Jerry Falwell. Falwell died last week of heart trouble at the age of 73. At his funeral today, thousands of mourners packed the Virginia church Falwell founded 50 years ago, the church he built into an evangelical empire.
Falwell was a polarizing figure in American politics for decades, thanks to the Moral Majority, the organization he founded to promote his vision of American values. At the service today, the Reverend Franklin Graham said those values are what made him controversial.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REVEREND FRANKLIN GRAHAM, SAMARITAN'S PURSE: He believed in inerrancy of Scripture. That's controversial. He believed in the sanctity of life, was against abortion. That's controversial. He believed in the family. And who would have ever thought that would be controversial?
He believed in marriage was -- was the union between a man and a woman. He believed that the moral decay weakened the fabric of America. That's controversial.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Joining me now -- joining me now, rather, to debate Falwell's legacy, writer Christopher Hitchens, who says Falwell was a fraud. Hitchens' latest book is "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything."
Also with me, someone who sees Falwell's legacy much differently, writer Eric Metaxas, author of "Everything Else You Always Wanted to Know About God (But Were Afraid to Ask)."
Gentlemen, glad to have you both.
Christopher, let me start with you.
Falwell was controversial. You heard the Reverend Graham say it right there. Isn't that a good thing? You're controversial. It get people thinking and discussing and debating.
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "VANITY FAIR": To be sure. And I wouldn't be on this show if you weren't giving me the opportunity to be rude about a man on the day he's buried. Get over it.
PHILLIPS: You have called Reverend Falwell a horrible little person, a vulgar fraud, and a crook. You have also said it's a pity there...
PHILLIPS: ... isn't a hell for him to go to. HITCHENS: Do you want to just spend all your time whimpering about what I have said? Or do you have any comments...
ERIC METAXAS, AUTHOR, "EVERYTHING ELSE YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT GOD (BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK)": Whimpering.
PHILLIPS: Well, no.
PHILLIPS: I'm curious -- I'm curious why you think he -- he was such an idiot. I mean, there were -- there were thousands and thousands of people that followed him and believed in him.
PHILLIPS: Are you saying that everybody that believed in him...
HITCHENS: That's been true -- that's been true of every fraud in history.
He was -- I will tell you why I think so. First, he believed in the rapture, in the idea that we -- people like him were going to be snatched up specially by Jesus, leaving the rest of us to die...
METAXAS: No. Excuse -- no, no, no. But hold on.
METAXAS: Didn't you say that you don't think he believed in those things?
HITCHENS: He believed in creation -- he believed in creationism.
METAXAS: You said he didn't believe in those things.
HITCHENS: He believed in the Antichrist. He believed that the Antichrist was a Jewish male who was already amongst us.
METAXAS: Excuse me. The Christ was also a Jewish male.
METAXAS: The Christ was a Jewish male, if you believe he existed. I'm not sure that you do.
But -- but the point is that I get confused...
HITCHENS: I'm not sure that he did, no.
Well, you're not sure he did.
HITCHENS: I'm not at all sure that he did.
METAXAS: But the point is, to say something like that, you are -- you are. You're being merely incendiary, because, the other day, you said you didn't believe that...
HITCHENS: Whine, whine, whine again.
METAXAS: Well, you said whimper earlier. You have to pick your pejorative verb.
METAXAS: But the point is that you -- you can't have it both ways.
And I'm not trying to be incendiary, but I'm trying to figure out what your actual criticism is, because you can't say that somebody believed these things, and that's why he's a crackpot and an idiot, and then say that he only was in it for the money, because that's what you were saying the other day.
HITCHENS: I didn't say only for the money, but he -- he used it as a fund-raiser, certainly.
METAXAS: You said he didn't believe these things.
HITCHENS: He did very well out of it.
I can't be sure. He may have been both a hypocrite and a bigot.
PHILLIPS: Eric, what does he leave behind?
METAXAS: Division, obviously, in some ways.
I mean, I think his -- his legacy is -- is certainly mixed.
METAXAS: The things that Falwell believed in as a Christian are the things that any Christian believes in.
And I think he -- he, in some ways, very helpfully, brought people who felt that they were out of the political process into the political process. And I think, in some ways, that was wonderful.
I think it also contributed to a misunderstanding about what faith is. And I think that a lot of people confuse having faith as a Christian or a Jew, particularly, with morality.
HITCHENS: I think that, if you want to -- an encapsulation of his legacy, it shows how much vulgarity and fraud and bigotry you can get away with on mainstream airwaves in this country, as long as you have the word "reverend" in front of your name.
PHILLIPS: You don't think Falwell had -- had an ounce of genuine...
PHILLIPS: You don't think Falwell was genuine at all, in any way, shape or form?
HITCHENS: No, I think he was a genuine bigot. But I also think it is quite compatible with him being a huckster, a fund-raiser, a friend of the Jim and Tammy Bakkers, for example, and other ripoff artists, and a fraud.
Yes, he was -- he was amply both of those things.
METAXAS: But the things that you said only hours after he had been pronounced dead, I -- I thought, were very unhelpful and exceedingly...
HITCHENS: I said them all the time he was alive.
METAXAS: Well, exactly.
HITCHENS: I said them every day he was alive, as well.
METAXAS: But that's the point.
PHILLIPS: Final thought.
METAXAS: I think that, again, here's the point, at least, is that, if you have legitimate criticisms -- and, of course, you do -- I would be the first to say that you do -- you don't help your argument by saying them in the way that you did.
HITCHENS: Oh, I will be the judge of that. Leave that to me, Mr. Metaxas.
HITCHENS: I will make my own case, thanks.
PHILLIPS: Eric Metaxas, Christopher Hitchens...
HITCHENS: I didn't ask your advice.
METAXAS: Why? Well...
HITCHENS: And I really don't think I would profit from it.
METAXAS: Well, here I am to offer it.
PHILLIPS: ... we must -- we must leave it there. I appreciate you both and the debate. Thank you.
HITCHENS: Any time.
PHILLIPS: Well, tune in to the rude, crude world of talk radio these days, and you may hear something new, a backlash.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SADIKI KAMBON, BLACK COMMUNITY INFORMATION CENTER: ... make it very clear that we do not want this Bernard person here in an audition, guest, or any capacity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Well, that's Don Imus' old sidekick that he's talking about.
What's gotten into talk radio, a new McCarthyism, or is it more like a little healthy respect?
Also out in the open: a part of Rudy Giuliani's record you have probably never heard about. Could it chase away some of his support?
PHILLIPS: Tonight, the backlash against radio shock jocks is out in the open.
You might have thought it had all died down in the month since Don Imus was fired over that racist and sexist comment about the Rutgers women's basketball team. But, just yesterday, a Boston radio station withdrew an offer it made to one of Don Imus' sidekicks who was fired along with the radio legend.
Boston bureau chief Dan Lothian has more tonight on the fallout and the fear spreading throughout talk radio.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Some of the people involved called it an on-air audition, others just a guess appearance. Either way, Don Imus' controversial sidekick, Bernard McGuirk, won't be co-hosting a morning show this week on Boston radio station WRKO.
SADIKI KAMBON, DIRECTOR, BLACK COMMUNITY INFORMATION CENTER: We do not want this Bernard person here in an audition, guest, or any capacity whatsoever, because we consider it to be an insult to the black community, and particularly to black women. LOTHIAN: Sadiki Kambon, an activist in the black community, says he was concerned about McGuirk's role in the infamous Imus broadcast, in which racist and sexist comments were made against female Rutgers University athletes. Kambon told the station he planned to protest if his concern was ignored.
(on camera): Are you pleased by the decision?
KAMBON: I wouldn't say pleased. I would say essentially that they made the right decision.
LOTHIAN (voice-over): A spokesman for Entercom, WRKO'S parent company, says it didn't bow to measure. Instead, after careful deliberation, the company felt that putting McGuirk on the air was just not appropriate at this time.
(on camera): Nonetheless, this latest action raises an important question: Has the Imus flap created a climate of fear, where radio executives are taking a harder line, worried about how the public and, more importantly, advertisers, will react to controversial material?
(voice-over): Dan Kennedy is a professor at Northeastern University and blogs about the media.
DAN KENNEDY, PROFESSOR, NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY: Radio was always a business decision, and it could be that the business calculation is changing in response to changes in the broader culture.
LOTHIAN: Just weeks after Imus and McGuirk were fired for their remarks, New York radio jocks J.V. and Elvis made offensive comments about Asians. Activists complained, and CBS fired them, too.
Just a short while later, controversial duo Opie and Anthony did a sexual skit on their XM Satellite Radio show about raping Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. They were suspended for 30 days.
(on camera): They're not just pushing the envelope now.
JERRY GOODWIN, NEW ENGLAND INSTITUTE OF ART: Oh, no. They're ripping it over and scattering the contents all over the place. And there's no way of getting it back into the envelope.
LOTHIAN (voice-over): Jerry Goodwin, who was on the radio for decades as the Duke of Madness, says it's time to get shock jocks under control.
GOODWIN: There's a freedom that comes along with being on the air for four or five hours a day. The other side of that coin is responsibility.
LOTHIAN (on camera): But some are concerned that, in the race to erase controversial voices, something else may be lost.
MICHAEL HARRISON, EDITOR AND PUBLISHER, "TALKERS": It's very repressive. It stands in the way of art. It stands in the way of free expression. And, the next thing you know, it is against the law to do anything controversial.
LOTHIAN (voice-over): A new climate on the airwaves, where pushing entertainment to its limits could cost you your career.
Dan Lothian, CNN, Boston.
PHILLIPS: Well, McGuirk's Boston attorney tells CNN his client will not comment publicly on the matter. He says that the decision against co-hosting the show was mutual, and that McGuirk will pull back from doing any guest appearances for now.
Well, my next guest lost his job less than a month after Imus. Donnell Rawlings was part of a morning team on a New York City radio station, until he said this on May 3. It started out with an innocent question about what album he was looking forward to hearing.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONNELL RAWLINGS, COMEDIAN: Nickel-Black.
ED LOVER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Nickelback?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maroon 5.
LOVER: That's a cheap black man, Nickel-Black.
RAWLINGS: That's a Jewish black guy.
PHILLIPS: Oh, Jewish black guy.
Are you really -- you really don't -- you like Jews, right?
RAWLINGS: I love Jews.
I mean, I'm -- I'm an entertainer. I'm a comic and an actor. And this is not the profession to be in if you are going to decide that you're going to be anti-Semitic somewhere down the rest of your career.
PHILLIPS: But it kind of -- it just slipped out so casually. It wasn't like it was this forceful comment. But it just kind of came out natural.
RAWLINGS: Yes. Well, I mean, the comment, I mean, I definitely don't think that that's a comment like worthy of somebody being terminated.
And, you know, I didn't say it with any ill will. I wasn't malicious about it or anything. And I thought that it was a joke. And it was a joke that I tagged with one of my co-hosts. So, I never felt like that would have people marching outside of the studios or any of that.
PHILLIPS: Well, you know what is interesting?
If -- and we were talking about this in the newsroom. It's a term -- I will just be blunt. We have heard terms about, don't be such a Jew. Don't Jew me down.
I mean, but, nowadays, you hear those terms, and you cringe. And, so, I think that's what caught everybody's attention, is that you just don't say those things anymore. There was a time where everybody sort of joked around and had their racial slurs. But it is a totally different era.
I mean, but I do think that, like, a lot of people are, like, overly sensitive. In this situation, in my case, it was one person that sent an e-mail. Now, if one person can be outraged to determine if somebody is going to be on air or not or suspended, I don't think that's fair.
Now, when you start getting groups involved, when somebody said something with ill will and there was malicious intent, then I think that, in that case, then you can investigate it. And then you can come to say, this guy's a racist or something.
But something as casual as that joke and the way I said it, I don't think anybody could get the impression that, you know, I was coming from the ill-will place.
PHILLIPS: Why do you think that you lost your job? Is this about advertising dollars, that owners are afraid they're going to lose money? I mean, you look at the Don Imus situation, you -- I mean, we laid it out in the piece there about all the people that have gotten in trouble.
RAWLINGS: Well, I think today's -- I think today's program directors have their hands tied, or whatever, because the situation, that could have been that small.
But, if they feel that a client could be -- potentially be liable for some other things, then I think that they would try to nip it in the bud, like, right then.
I don't think that the situation with that that joke I just told, where everybody just heard, was like, OK, we have got to get rid of him; he's crazy. But they may have felt like, well, we're not too secure. We don't know what direction this guy is going to go in the future, and we might as well protect our interests right now.
PHILLIPS: So, let me ask you this.
Black-on-black jokes, like "Chappelle's Show," OK?
PHILLIPS: Even Jeff Foxworthy, white guy, makes fun of rednecks.
PHILLIPS: They never get criticized, no big deal.
But, yet, you make this comment on the radio, and, kaboom, you're out of there.
RAWLINGS: I mean, I think, you know, like you said, it was just a timing issue.
I think, if I would have made that joke three months ago, people would have said it was funny, and would have kept moving. One of the things that the Don Imus situation has brought on is, like, everybody is a police on the airwaves now.
And you don't know whoever is making these complaints, what feelings they have towards you. It could be somebody they didn't like what you said three months ago but because of Don Imus, they can say now, what I can do is I can complain and this guy will be suspended and he will lose his job.
PHILLIPS: But do you think that it's fair that blacks can make jokes about blacks and whites can make jokes about whites yet if you're black you can't criticize a Jew if you're a Jew you can't criticize a black? Does that seem fair? Or should all racial slurs, no matter what, just be taken out of humor, be taking out of standup, be taken off the radio waves?
RAWLINGS: I don't think that you're ever going to have like where ethnic jokes aren't funny. You can come back and have a million Don Imus situations and a million shock jocks that get fired is the bottom line is there are some people who thing that this is funny. When we did the "Chappelle Show," one thing I said, and a lot of people didn't know how to take it, we're bringing humor into racism. And I think that ...
PHILLIPS: Do you think that's important, humor into racism?
RAWLINGS: I thing to be able to create some type of dialogue where it's not so angry. Because when different ethnicities talk about racial issues, you don't necessarily have to be fight the power, we're going to march, it can be a thing where we can talk about it and we can have fun with it. We had a town hall meeting on "Chappelle Show" and it went well where we had Jewish people, Jamaicans, Asian people, and they spoke on it. Nobody was overly offended.
But they said it did bring this to my attention. We can talk about this at the water cooler and nobody has to be offended. Everything does not have to be offensive. PHILLIPS: I know you want to throw to break and make fun of me. You want to give a little coming up next.
RAWLINGS: I just want to say "back to you" and hit my earpiece.
PHILLIPS: Do the earpiece. Thank you, Donnell.
Donnell Rawlings, thanks.
Well, now that voters are really focusing on Republican frontrunner Rudy Giuliani, well some potentially dangerous parts of his record coming out in the open.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It shows a quality of harshness and it demonstrated a quality of ruthlessness.
PHILLIPS: Stay with us for a long forgotten case from Giuliani's days as a government prosecutor. It made a big splash. Ruined lives. And went nowhere.
PHILLIPS: Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani is trying to paint himself as the only Republican with a chance to beat Democrat Hillary Clinton in New York. Today Giuliani was in familiar territory, New York City, to pick up endorsements from New York State Republicans. But their support doesn't tell the whole story about his past in New York.
Before he was mayor, he was a federal prosecutor known for battling corruption. But critics say there were times when he went too far in his pursuit of crime. Allan Chernoff brings that part of Giuliani's career "Out in the Open."
ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As U.S. attorney in New York in the '80s, Rudy Giuliani took down mobster, politicians and Wall Street traders. His aggressive application of the law brought high profile indictments, but some mistakes as well.
That's what happened to Richard Wigton, a mild mannered trading executive at the now defunct investment firm Kidder Peabody. In February of 1987, Giuliani went after him.
(on camera): Officers arrested and handcuffed Richard Wigton at Kidder Peabody's Wall Street headquarters. Wigton recently told CNN he was in a state of utter shock and disbelief. With tears flowing down his face, Wigton was marched through the firm's trading floor in front of his colleagues, charged with insider trading.
(voice-over): Wigton's attorney insisted there was no basis for Giuliani's charges. STANLEY ARKIN, RICHARD WIGTON'S ATTORNEY: ... did not make any use of inside information. These charges, again are without basis in fact.
CHERNOFF: Giuliani charged several other people that day. Among them Tim Tabor, a Merrill Lynch trader and former colleague of Wigton. Taber's attorney also said Giuliani was off base.
ANDREW LAWLER, TIM TABOR'S ATTORNEY: Mr. Tabor will be fully vindicated.
CHERNOFF: Indeed, U.S. attorney Giuliani dropped the charges against Wigton and Tabor three months later, promising to bring an expanded indictment.
RUDY GIULIANI, U.S. ATTORNEY: We're not going to go to trial with just the tip of the iceberg.
CHERNOFF: There was no iceberg. For more than two years Giuliani's threat hung over Richard Wigton and Tim Tabor, yet new charges were never filed. Only after Giuliani stepped down as U.S. attorney in 1989 did his successor finally end the investigation.
ARKIN: There was no reason for that arrest, no justification for it. There was nothing to it. They never were able to try that case that man went through torture and hell for a while.
CHERNOFF: Richard Wigton's career was destroyed. Unable to get his job back, at age 57, he was forced into retirement. Wigton declined to speak on camera about Giuliani but did tell CNN, "I was a victim. I was a victim of his ambition.
Tim Tabor, who never regained his job, also refused to speak on camera saying simply, "I wouldn't count myself as a fan" of Rudy Giuliani.
A third person arrested that day in 1987, Robert Freeman of Goldman Sachs eventually did plead guilty to making an illegal stock trade and was sentenced to four months in prison. When CNN asked Giuliani about Wigton and Tabor he didn't answer directly but conceded he had some made some missteps among his many cases.
GIULIANI: Some of them were great successes, some were moderate successes and some of them were mistakes which is what happens when you bring lots of cases.
CHERNOFF: Wigton's attorney Stanley Arkin says the case tells Americans a lot about Rudolph Giuliani.
ARKIN: It shows the quality of harshness and it demonstrated a quality of ruthlessness. I could not see a man such as he being president of this country. I don't think that would be something which would be good for our people.
CHERNOFF: Rudolph Giuliani never apologized to Wigton or Tabor. Allan Chernoff, CNN, New York. PHILLIPS: Let's go to tonight's "Out in the Open" panel, Jonah Goldberg, editor at large of the National Review Online, Crystal McCrary Anthony, best selling author and attorney, also with us Ben Ferguson, a nationally syndicated radio talk show host. Crystal, let's start with you. We heard people criticizing Giuliani's mistakes, but then again this is a man who took on mob bosses as a U.S. attorney.
That may be something we want in a president that has that type of strength.
CRYSTAL MCCRARY ANTHONY, AUTHOR: Well, sure. No one would dispute that Giuliani certainly had cowboy tactics in going after folks as a federal prosecutor. The issue with Giuliani is he left a lot of enemies behind. I mean, he left -- in the case of the Kidder Peabody situation, I mean, this is a gentleman who had a reputation as a mild mannered guy.
He got this from an informant. The information on him. And it turned out to -- he never -- most of his cases were overturned on appeal. When he was federal prosecutor. On the mob case, sure, what people do like about Giuliani is the fact that they say he was a great leader. And he was. No one can refute that. But what I think the real issue here is, is he electable?
PHILLIPS: And you mentioned cowboy tactics. Ben, cowboy tactics, ruthlessness, will that hurt him or help him?
BEN FERGUSON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I think it will help him with the American people. You have to understand as a prosecutor he had other people that gave him information and know about about these certain individuals. He wasn't watching them all the time, he wasn't tracking them. He wasn't the only person that was setting these cases up against these individuals.
And I think that most Americans understand that. But they want someone who is a powerful leader, they want someone who is willing to take on the mob. That's a pretty dangerous job when you go after the mob and you know they may come after you or your family. And that's exactly why they love him. 9/11, people remember Giuliani as a man who stood on the rubble and said, we're going to be OK, we're going to make it through this. That's what they want. And he's the type to go after terrorists around the world. And that's what people want in a president of the United States of America.
PHILLIPS: And Jonah, Ben brings up good point. If you look at a poll, before 9/11, his approval ratings 37 percent. After 9/11, Giuliani's approval rating, 79 percent. Let me ask you this, is it important to remember why he was at 37 percent before 9/11?
JONAH GOLDBERG, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: Oh, sure. I think all of this stuff is worthwhile. I actually think you guys should be congratulated for revisiting some of this. I do think that Giuliani was an overzealous prosecutor in the late '80s and early '90s. I think some of those case are a real black mark against him. I don't think that that should disqualify him for president, but we should look into these things.
And the irony is I think Ben has it right about what a lot of people in the primaries are looking for in Giuliani. I think he has it wrong when he says that Americans understand what Giuliani was doing. Most Americans have no clue that Giuliani was ever really a prosecutor. They're not paying attention. They don't know this stuff.
And -- but the irony here is what the Republican base of the party wants from Giuliani is precisely this guy, this hard charging SOB, take no prisoners kind of guy. And if he's going to get the nomination, that's what they look for.
PHILLIPS: Let me ask you this, Crystal, what about his character? He's been married three times. Does that matter?
MCCRARY ANTHONY: Yes, it matters.
PHILLIPS: It does?
MCCRARY ANTHONY: It absolutely matters and particularly matters to women. Despite the fact that we live in a society where sex sells and we're still based on religious fundamentalist Christian -- no.
PHILLIPS: But Bill Clinton had an affair in the White House and he's still a rock star.
MCCRARY ANTHONY: But there are three wives. There's the way he exited out of marriage number two via a press release. There's the fact that his children are not speaking to him. That is not going to bode well with women voters. And as a mother myself, having children, you have to look at why a man's children are not even speaking to him. And I think that that is going to hurt him.
And I also think it's going to hurt him that this is his third wife. The American public, no matter how much we may say we're liberal is not ready for a president on his third wife.
FERGUSON: I don't think it matters as much as -- I think it matters more in the primaries. You look at Rudy Giuliani, he has to go after the conservatives and the conservative Christian right. And that's where three wives kills him. In the general election, I don't think it would hurt him.
In fact he has a better chance of becoming president in a general election than he does in the primaries because of things like abortion, about the three wives and being for gay marriage. Those things are going to kill him as a Republican because those issues matter to republican voters more than anything else. And that's what is probably going to kill him in the election.
PHILLIPS: Ben Ferguson, Jonah Goldberg, Crystal McCrary - I know we'll be talking about this a lot more. Thank you all three of you.
FERGUSON: Thanks. PHILLIPS: Did you know that out of every five homeless people in this country, two are teenagers or younger? Next we're going to meet a CNN hero who is rescuing kids from life on the streets.
PHILLIPS: All year we're bringing you the story of incredible people who are devoting their lives to helping others. We call them "CNN Heroes." Right now you're about to meet a man who is taking his medical practice to the streets, giving free health care to homeless teens in Tempe, Arizona. That's why Dr. Randy Christensen is tonight's CNN hero.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I was 10 years old I decided to run away from home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've been on the streets from 12 till 20.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know it's scary to live on the streets. There's so many drugs and there's violence.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I sleep in an abandoned house.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was taken away from my parents when I was like 10 years old.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My dad dropped me off at a dumpster. He told me don't even think about coming back home.
DR. RANDY CHRISTENSEN, There's as many as 5,000 to 10,000 kids on the streets of Arizona. We turned our heads, we don't look at them in the eyes. Many of the kids are truly forgotten.
I'm Dr. Randy Christensen. I'm the medical director for the Cruisin' Healthmobile. We take care of kids on the streets through a medical mobile van. Everything that would be in a regular doctor office is on the van. All the kids that are seen by us are seen free of charge.
Did you need anything? A new backpack?
I've never really been about the money. I went to medical school thinking that I would be a surgeon, but everything that made me stop and think had to do with children and adolescents. I chose to come out on the streets.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dr. Christensen, he helps people who actually want to get help.
CHRISTENSEN: I pull up in the van. Within 15 minutes there's kids coming out of every different alley or different street. You get out there and see some of these kids. And you talk to them and you give them a little dignity and respect and all of a sudden they open up. It is like a light bulb goes on and they want to talk and they want tell you their story.
I think you might have is a pneumonia. Take a deep breath.
They still have that gleam of hope in their eyes. It's that hope that gives you hope.
High five. Yeah.
And at the very end, they give you a big hug and they say, thank you, and that means the most to me.
PHILLIPS: And there's more about Dr. Christensen on cnn.com/heroes. That's where you can also nominate your hero for special recognition later this year.
LARRY KING LIVE is coming up in a few minutes. Larry, who will be with you tonight.
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Kyra, coming up, you may know him, Al Gore. He made ...
PHILLIPS: We're Best friends. We had dinner last night as a matter of fact.
KING: He made global warming a hot topic. And now those who see him saving the planet kind of wish he'd run for president again. Will he or won't he? Maybe we'll find out at the top of the hour on LARRY KING LIVE.
PHILLIPS: Maybe? You're supposed to get the yes or the no, Larry.
KING: I'll get it for you, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: OK. Very good. And I wish I would have had dinner with him. He's an interesting guy. I've never met him.
KING: He sure is.
PHILLIPS: Thanks, Larry. We'll see you at 9:00.
Well, let's take a "Biz Break." The Dow lost about three, the NASDAQ gained nine and the S&P 500 lost a point. A new birth control pill will soon be on the market. The FDA has just approved Wyeth's Lybrel contraceptive. It's the first birth control pill that completely stops the menstrual cycle.
Oil prices fell just below $65 a barrel today despite news from B.P. that it's shutting down 100,000 barrels a day of production in Alaska. B.P. blames a leak in a water pipeline.
Meanwhile, AAA says gas prices have hit a new record, $3.20 per gallon. You're about to meet a person you should know. He made history by helping to integrate the L.A. Fire Department, you won't believe what he went through.
PHILLIPS: Tonight the country's largest fire department is defending itself against charges of discrimination against minority recruits. The allegations come in a federal lawsuit filed this week against New York's Fire Department, similar complaints have been made against the fire departments across the country, including Los Angeles where black firefighters say they've been struggling to gain acceptance. Ted Rowlands has one firefighter's story in tonight's "People You Should Know."
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In February 1950, Reynaldo Lopez became a Los Angeles firefighter and the only African American at station 46.
REYNALDO LOPEZ, FORMER L.A. FIREFIGHTER: The first day I was very well received.
ROWLANDS: But then the fire department sent in a new crew of white firefighters whose sole purpose, according to Lopez, was to force him out and put an end to the integration efforts.
LOPEZ: They wanted to prove that black and white firemen couldn't work together, that it would cause some friction.
ROWLANDS: Lopez says he suffered severe harassment from what he calls the goon squad, a group of white firefighters that he says ransacked his locker, forced him to scrub the shower, and left him to eat meals in solitude.
Finally, Lopez says he had enough. In 1955, he took a picture of a "white adults" sign posted on the station's kitchen door, which got picked up by local media and shed light on the racism within the department. And even though the community supported him, Lopez says the abuse continued for years to come.
LOPEZ: I stayed to prove that I was capable as a black fireman, to do the job. I see myself as just a fellow that stood up for his rights and did a job that he swore to do.
ROWLANDS: And while African Americans like Chief Douglas Barry have ascended the ranks since Lopez retired, many, including Lopez himself, say racism is a battle that black firefighters are still fighting today in cities across America. Ted Rowlands, CNN, Los Angeles.
PHILLIPS: There are now 60 African-American captains and 13 chiefs in the L.A. Fire Department including the new chief of the entire department.
Just ahead, on LARRY KING LIVE, you won't want to miss former vice president al gore, will he drop any hints about 2008? You know Larry will get the answers.
PHILLIPS: That's all for tonight and according to my crew, the Red Sox are beating the Yankees right now. They're not very happy. LARRY KING LIVE starts right now.
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