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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Don Imus Under Fire Again; Politics of Fear
Aired June 23, 2008 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight: Don Imus, has he done it again? He's back in the hot seat, and, yes, it is his mouth that got him there. This time, he was talking about a single black athlete, not a whole team. He says he was defending the guy. We have the tape. We will play his comments, and you can judge for yourself.
Also, we're live following the floods. We will take you to the disaster zone, where parts of the Mississippi are still rising, people packing up homes that soon may be unlivable, and neighbors helping neighbors, fighting to keep disaster from their doors. We will have the latest.
And Barack Obama, also, and John McCain and the politics of fear -- the outcry after a top McCain aide says a terror attack on America would be good for McCain. The reaction fast and furious -- you will hear what McCain is saying about it now.
And is Hillary on board the Obama express? New information tonight about her phone call with the man who beat her and the joint appearance they will make this week.
Plus, the high school pregnancy pact, was it a hoax? The mayor of Gloucester, Massachusetts, where it allegedly happened, is skeptical. He held a news conference today -- all the latest tonight.
We start off in the flood zone, really two disasters unfolding at once, the massive damage where the Mississippi River is receding and the disaster yet to come where water levels still have not peaked -- volunteers filling 50,000 sandbags in Lincoln County, Missouri, where a local official compared being on one of the levees to walking on a waterbed.
Residents in Winfield, Missouri, and Grafton, Illinois, bracing for near record water levels, others moving out, some for good.
Following the flooding for us tonight, David Mattingly in Gulfport, Illinois, and Gary Tuchman in Grafton -- Gary?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, just a couple of days ago, this sign had a great connotation, now not so good. This riverfront property has become in-river property. This used to be a backyard. Now there's a canoe here, river waters, and a house. And this is what's happening all throughout the town of Grafton, Illinois.
This is Main Street in downtown Grafton. Many of the businesses, most of the businesses, are now under water. It's very quiet here. This city is right next to the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers, but both those rivers have not crested yet. So, there's a lot of anxiety here in Grafton.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): A tractor trailer is parked next to Jimbo's General Store in Grafton, Illinois.
JIM TOLLEY, RESIDENT OF GRAFTON, ILLINOIS: We have got to get everything out of here.
TUCHMAN: Jim Tolley and his wife, Linda, are packing up the inventory, getting ready to load all the groceries and hardware on the truck and drive it away if the floodwaters keep rising, which they don't want to do until the last minute, because of the overwhelming nature of the task. But the river still isn't expected to crest for two days, so they know they might have to.
(on camera): Jim and Linda, you live up the street.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we do.
J. TOLLEY: Across the street.
TUCHMAN: You have your store here, and you are surrounded by water.
J. TOLLEY: Yes.
LINDA TOLLEY, RESIDENT OF GRAFTON, ILLINOIS: We are.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): The floodwaters are lapping at the back of the store to the south. They are also rising less than 20 feet away from the store on the east and the west, the only escape route, a small, hilly road to the north just past their house, their home and their livelihood now in jeopardy.
(on camera): Is it tense waiting for two days to see what happens?
J. TOLLEY: Oh, real tense.
L. TOLLEY: Mm-hmm, especially when they're predicting rain north of us.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Keeping an eye on the flood forecast is now Jim Tolley's main job.
J. TOLLEY: First thing I do when I get up is turn the computer on, check out the water level. And that's the last thing I'm looking at before I go to bed.
TUCHMAN: Fifteen years ago, the store was deluged with 6-and-a- half feet of floodwater. The owner then eventually sold it to Jim Tolley. Like almost every other business along the river in Grafton, the Tolleys' store is out of business for now. The water is very high. Basketball backboards are submerged. Water Street is a street with 10 feet of water.
(on camera): There is certainly a feeling of deja vu in Grafton. During the floods of 1993, about 150 homes were destroyed from floodwaters. There are about 30 percent fewer residents here today than then.
(voice-over): Even if Jimbo's isn't devastated by floodwaters, the store has been closed for a week and will likely be shut for a minimum of two weeks more in its busiest season.
J. TOLLEY: It's pretty much a disaster as far as that, the financial part of it. Money is still going out, but none is coming in.
TUCHMAN: Homes on hilltops are doing fine. But anything in Grafton at the river's level either is or could soon be underwater. The river is bringing trouble, but it's also an indelible part of these people's lives.
L. TOLLEY: I have lived here all my life. So, I know it can happen. So...
TUCHMAN (on camera): So, you're not cursing the river?
L. TOLLEY: No, I'm not, no. I like the river, not this high. I like it in its banks.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): But, in Grafton, at least for now, the river and many of the streets are one.
COOPER: Gary, have the residents left? I mean, is there a mandatory evacuation order?
TUCHMAN: Most of the people seem to have left, Anderson. It's very quiet here. But there's no mandatory evacuation order. And the main reason for that seems to be, there are no levees here in Grafton. Now, levees may protect you from flooding, so, in this case, floodwaters may be coming in because there are no levees.
But, because you don't have levees, you don't have to worry about the flash flooding. When the levees break, you have the flash flooding. And then, if you haven't left, you may be stuck. Here, it's so gradual that people feel it's safe to stay. If the water starts coming in too much, then they will literally head for the hills.
COOPER: All right, Gary Tuchman, thanks, from Grafton.
Just upriver in Gulfport, Illinois, the damage is done. And some people there are blaming the federal government for making it worse long before the water even started to rise. Their gripe is with FEMA over flood insurance and the message they say they were getting or not getting about the need to buy it.
CNN's David Mattingly is "Keeping Them Honest."
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When the levee crumbled and the river came crashing in, the village of Gulfport, Illinois, never had a chance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It almost looked like a tidal wave coming across the road. Almost like the end of the world is what it looked like.
MATTINGLY: And, for Gulfport, it may well be the end. Only 28 people out of this river town of about 200 had federal flood insurance. The rest trusted the levee. Residents like Rick and Gina (ph) Gerstel lost everything.
(on camera): Did anyone ever suggest to you that you were taking a risk, your bank, any city officials, any federal officials?
RICK GERSTEL, RESIDENT OF GULFPORT, ILLINOIS: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
MATTINGLY: Did FEMA ever approach you saying, maybe you ought to have flood insurance?
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Gulfport was protected by a levee that wasn't strong enough to hold back the catastrophic 500-year flood that hit. But it was rated to withstand a 100-year flood. That was enough that FEMA did not require homeowners to purchase flood insurance.
(on camera): Is that tacitly sending a message to people that they might be safe there?
(voice-over): "Keeping Them Honest," I called FEMA, wanting to know if mistakes were made.
TERRY REUSS FELL, FEMA FLOODPLAIN MANAGEMENT: We do our best to -- to advertise the availability of flood insurance and encourage people to purchase it.
MATTINGLY (on camera): I'm looking at the town right now. It's completely under the river. Most of this town may not be able to be salvaged. At what point was this town failed by this system, that only 28 people had flood insurance?
FELL: We implement the laws that are given to us. And the laws right now deal with the -- the floodplain management regulations within that 100-year floodplain and the insurance purchase requirements in that area also. MATTINGLY (voice-over): But changes may be coming. Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut wants a law requiring flood insurance for everyone living in levee-protected areas.
SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: I don't know how you define protected, but I don't know how you call that protected, when you're telling people they don't have to have this, they don't need it.
MATTINGLY (on camera): As bad as this looks, FEMA says its risk analysis for Gulfport was accurate. The agency is now working on a billion-dollar upgrade to outdated maps, as well as a reassessment of flood dangers all over the country. Some say that can't be finished soon enough because of climate change.
STEPHEN FLYNN, SENIOR FELLOW IN NATIONAL SECURITY STUDIES, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Some estimates are, by 2050, the 100- year storm will become the 10-year storm.
GERSTEL: See how much city hall has moved.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): This police video from inside Gulfport shows the village hall pushed off its foundation, the flag flying in a swirl of muddy water. This is all that's left of the house the Gerstels left behind.
(on camera): Will you ever go back to that house?
GERSTEL: No, sir. No, sir. I would not go back to the town. I would never live there again.
COOPER: David, what did FEMA actually do to inform people in Gulfport that they should have flood insurance?
MATTINGLY: All of this information is on FEMA's Web site. But I was told today they do not have an advertising budget, so they weren't being able to go out aggressively to approach people in places like this and say, hey, you need this flood insurance.
The couple we talked to just a moment ago, you heard from them. At that critical point, when they got that loan, when they signed on the dotted line for their new house, that's when they needed that information. And that's not when they got that. It's the too-late sort of situation, where you have all this water coming in. And that's when they realized, wow, we really should have had that flood insurance.
COOPER: All right, David Mattingly covering it for us -- David, thanks.
As always, I'm blogging throughout the hour. You can join the conversation. Go to our new Web site, AC360.com.
Up next, our political panel weighs in. A top McCain campaign aide says a terror attack on America would help John McCain. The reaction has been fast and furious. We have the latest "Raw Politics."
And later, on the trail, Barack Obama wooing women and Hillary Clinton -- new details about Obama's phone call with Clinton last night and the joint appearance they will make later this week.
Plus, the so-called pregnancy pact at a Massachusetts high school. Was it a hoax? And, if it's real, would handing out birth control at school have made a difference? Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council is here, along with Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood -- tonight on 360.
COOPER: John McCain's heat campaign took major heat today when it was revealed a senior adviser suggested that a terror attack on America would benefit McCain's presidential run.
In an interview with "Fortune" magazine, he said the assassination of Benazir Bhutto last December helped John McCain win New Hampshire by showcasing his national security credentials. The adviser said that, while Bhutto's death was unfortunate, Senator McCain -- quote -- "knowledge and ability to talk about it reemphasized that this is the guy who is ready to be commander in chief. And it helped us."
When asked if another terror attack on America would have the same effect, Black told "Fortune" -- quote -- "Certainly, it would be a big advantage to him."
The adviser apologized. Senator McCain rejected the comments. The Obama campaign, however, was quick to jump on the remarks.
CNN's Dana Bash joins me now with the "Raw Politics," along with "TIME" columnist and author Joe Klein, and CNN senior political analyst and former presidential adviser David Gergen.
So, Dana, how did McCain himself respond to -- to Charlie Black's comments?
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Senator McCain, Anderson, was told by reporters before he was told by his own staff about what Charlie Black said. So, he was caught off guard a little bit.
But it was very clear from his response this afternoon he was not happy. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I cannot imagine why he would say it. It's not true. It's -- I have worked tirelessly since 9/11 to prevent another attack on the United States of America. My record is very clear. If he said that -- and I do not know the context -- I strenuously disagree. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Now, we should not that Charlie Black issued a statement saying that he regretted his comments and that that has nothing to do with how John McCain has led his campaign.
But he also said that he didn't necessarily mean that in general. What he was trying to say, Anderson, was that he was talking about the fact that John McCain, they believe, would benefit any time this -- the narrative in this campaign is about national security. That's something that Charlie Black and so many other McCain officials have said to me and I'm sure lots of other reporters.
But, as you can imagine, what I'm hearing from inside the McCain campaign is palpable frustrated. They thought that they had a message today about energy. They thought they had some headline-grabbing new ideas. And we're talking about this.
COOPER: Joe, you see a pattern in this. Is it true what he says? I mean, is it accurate, what he says? Would this actually benefit John McCain? And should he have said it?
JOE KLEIN, COLUMNIST, "TIME": Well, first of all, he absolutely should not have said it.
It is perfectly fine to talk about your candidate's national security credentials. And John McCain certainly has a ton of those. But there's been a pattern in the Republican Party, going back to Karl Rove briefing the Republican National Committee in 2003 on the fact that the war in Iraq was going to be good for Republicans. This is another step along that -- that same path.
As to whether it would help McCain, who would want to speculate on that? But I will tell you one thing. The Obama camp would have a great comeback. And it's this. The war in Iraq, which McCain has supported, you know, vociferously, is believed by a good chunk of our intelligence community and the military to have been a diversion from the real battle against al Qaeda, the real battle in Pakistan against Osama bin Laden.
And, you know, I think that Barack Obama really does want to have that national security debate, whether we have been focusing on the right things.
COOPER: David, the Obama campaign responded very quickly with this statement. I want to read it out.
"The fact that John McCain's top adviser says that a terror attack on American soil would be a big advantage for their political campaign is a complete disgrace and exactly the kind of politics that needs to change."
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Charlie Black's comments are not in the same league as those of Don Imus today. But, nonetheless, I think the Obama campaign has seen this was a serious mistake. He went way over the line. It was a dumb mistake, too, I mean, especially dumb coming -- and surprising coming from Charlie Black, who is an experienced campaign veteran of many, many campaigns, and is usually very cautious in what he says.
In this case, he gives offense because it appears that perhaps there are those within the McCain campaign, who, unlike the senator, would actually welcome an attack because it may help them win.
I actually think that John McCain was -- had a point today when he said, it's not necessarily true that such an attack would help him. After all, one of the only claims that -- with which John McCain wants to be associated with regard to George Bush is, we haven't had an attack since 9/11, that (AUDIO GAP) believe they can claim some credit for that.
So, if there were another attack, that rips away that -- one of the last arguments about how successful or a lack of success the Republicans have had in fighting terror, as Joe Klein just said.
COOPER: Do you agree with that, Joe, that it might actually hurt?
KLEIN: Yes. Yes, I do.
And to double-down on McCain, the first thing that comes to John McCain's mind when he hears about a terrorist attack is the sort of violence and brutality associated with it, the kind of violence and brutality that he saw during the Vietnam War.
And, so, I think he was legitimately horrified by this remark. But, still, this has been a pattern. Jim Webb, the Democratic senator from Virginia, who is a straight shooter on military stuff, in his new book, he talks about how the Republicans have used the military, have politicized national security issues, to the detriment of national unity.
COOPER: Dana, you were with John McCain when he was talking about Benazir Bhutto and reacting to her assassination back in December. What did he say then?
BASH: It was really interesting. I was with him that day where Benazir Bhutto was assassinated. We were in Iowa. And he scrapped his entire town hall, what he had planned to say on the stump, and he started out talking about the fact that he knew Benazir Bhutto, he knows the region, he's been to Pakistan, been to Waziristan.
So, despite what everybody is talking about here, the reality is, he knew right then and there, back during the primaries, when he was running against what he thought were other Republican candidates who didn't have the same experience as he did on the national stage, that that could benefit him.
And in fact I asked him at that -- at that meeting whether he thought it would politically benefit him. I think we have the sound bite. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: I'm the one with the experience, the knowledge and the judgment. So, perhaps it may serve to enhance those credentials.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: So, there, it was pretty clear, even from back in December, that, obviously, John McCain doesn't necessarily want to be encouraging a terrorist attack right now. But when it comes to outside events, things that no campaign can control on the world stage, John McCain is very aggressive at making the point that he has the experience to deal with it.
COOPER: We are going to have to leave it there.
Dana, Joe Klein, David Gergen, guys, thanks very much.
David Gergen blogged about Barack Obama's decision to reject public financing. You can read his post at AC360.com.
Still to come tonight: a lot ahead. Obama and Clinton -- new details on a phone conversation they had just last night before they hit the trail together later this week.
Also tonight, was that pregnancy pact at a Massachusetts high school some sort of a hoax? We have the latest developments and the question of should contraceptives be handed out at that school and others. It's been a key issue in the story -- the debate up close.
And later, Don Imus back on the radio and back causing a stir -- what he said today about a black athlete. Did he cross the line again? We will let you decide. You will hear the tape -- when 360 continues.
COOPER: Don Imus once again causing an uproar on the airwaves -- what he said this time that has people talking. That's later on 360.
First, Randi Kaye joins us with a 360 bulletin -- Randi.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Anderson.
Searching for survivors in the Philippines. At least 34 people have been found alive after their ferry capsized in a typhoon on Saturday. At least 11 others were killed, but that number is expected to rise -- 864 people were on board that vessel.
Conflicting reports about singer Amy Winehouse. Her father told the "Sunday Mirror" newspaper that his daughter has early-stage emphysema caused by smoking crack cocaine and cigarettes. But a publicist later told the Associated Press Winehouse has only has early signs of what could lead to emphysema. And remember these photos released last month of a so-called lost tribe in the Amazon forest? Well, the tribe is real, but it turns out it was actually first discovered back in 1910. The group that claimed it was a -- quote -- "undiscovered tribe" now admits it had been tracking it via GPS.
Anderson, I know, you called that. I'm going to give you credit, because you called it early on.
COOPER: I don't want to say I told you so.
KAYE: But you did.
COOPER: I got a lost of nasty e-mails the night that aired. I said something about it. I just don't buy it. It's from an advocacy group that wants...
KAYE: I know. I remember. I was watching.
COOPER: And I got a lot of nasty e-mails from people all across the world, saying, you know, there are lost tribes. There are indigenous people who need protection, all of which may be true, but I didn't think this photo was accurate. And I was right.
But I -- I'm not going to gloat.
KAYE: Take some credit. Take a bow.
COOPER: I think I have gloated enough.
COOPER: Here's tonight's "Beat 360" photo, Randi. Take a look.
Lola, a Chihuahua that took part in Lynn University's first annual Take Your Dog to Work Today in Boca Raton, Florida, last week.
Here's the caption from our staff winner, Van, a summer intern: "Yo quiero that mike out of my face."
I like that one.
KAYE: Very cute.
COOPER: Think you can do better?
COOPER: I know.
Go to our new Web site, AC360.com. Click on the "Beat 360" link. Send us your entry. We will announce the winner at the end of the program. You have got about 30 minutes left. And starting tonight, the "Beat 360" winner gets a nifty T-shirt.
All right, up next, Senator Obama today pushing to win over female voters. Candy Crowley joins us with new information about a phone call last night between Obama and Hillary Clinton.
We also have new details about their joint appearance later this week and what it may mean for her chances to be on the ticket, and the latest on what Don Imus said about a black athlete.
We will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want my daughters to grow up in an America where they have the exact same opportunities as the boys have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Senator Barack Obama campaigning today in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he met with working women and talked about the economic challenges they face, including equal pay.
Now, a lot has been made of the fact that Obama needs to work hard to win over Hillary Clinton's die-heard supporters, many of them women. And tonight, there are new details about this week's joint appearance Obama and Clinton are going to make.
CNN's Candy Crowley is on the trail -- Candy.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson.
The latest, I spoke to a source within the past couple of hours who tells me -- who confirms to me that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, Sunday night, last night, did have a phone call. It was described to me as friendly.
Another source tells me that one of the outstanding issues between these two campaigns is the issue of how to retire Hillary Clinton's debts -- debt. She has about $20 million in debt. She is willing to swallow about $10 million to $12 million of that. That's what she loaned herself. But there's another $10 million. So, they're still trying to work that out. And, as yet, according to this source, there has been no agreement on how the two would approach that.
This is all starting off what's going to be a very busy week for the two of them as they come closer and closer together, first at a fund-raiser, and then in front of voters.
CROWLEY (voice-over): Apparently, there's no time for subtlety.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How's it going, New Hampshire?
CROWLEY: Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will campaign together for at a Unite for Change rally in Unity, New Hampshire, a town where each won 107 primary votes.
OBAMA: Is this all low-fat?
CROWLEY: The details of the joint Obama-Clinton appearance came on a female-focused day, as Obama toured a bakery in New Mexico owned by women.
OBAMA: These are beautiful.
CROWLEY: He was introduced by a state official and former Clinton supporter now in camp Obama.
LT. GOV. DIANE DENISH (D), NEW MEXICO: We are angry. We haven't made any progress in the last eight years. And we might be angry, but we're really smart, too.
CROWLEY: Obama spent over an hour outlining a litany of proposals aimed at home-and-hearth issues, including his $1,000 middle-class tax cut, up to a 50 percent tax credit for child care, double the funding for after-school programs, $10 billion more after early childhood education programs, and a requirement that employers provide seven paid six days a year.
OBAMA: What we spend a week in Iraq would fund all this stuff for a year, or two years, or three years, I mean, the magnitude, the scale of what we're spending at the federal government and what we're short-changing that would make a real difference in the lives of women on a day-to-day basis.
CROWLEY: As Obama spoke, his campaign put out a press release celebrating the 36th anniversary of Title IX, which, among other things, opened up college sports programs to women.
Despite the full-court press and the "Clinton women won't vote for Obama" chatter, the numbers tell a different story. "USA Today"/Gallup found Obama with a healthy 55 percent of the female vote. That is more support from women than exit polls showed for John Kerry and on a par with Al Gore and Bill Clinton.
In fact, Obama's more significant problem is among another key Clinton well of support, seniors. Obama draws about 43 percent of voters over 65 in a recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll. That is well below that of previous Democratic contenders.
It's not small item. About one in five voters is over 65. And in the past quarter-century, every nominee who won seniors also won the popular vote.
COOPER: Candy, if Obama and Clinton are holding unity events, where is Bill Clinton in all of this? Publicly, I don't think he's endorsed Obama, has he?
CROWLEY: He has not. He did have an event talking to mayors where he had -- faint praise is really going a little far for what he had to say about one of Barack Obama's programs.
Nonetheless, look, this is still Hillary Clinton's show here. And you can imagine that she would like him to be quiet for a little while they work this out. But I did talk to somebody today who said, of course he's going to endorse him.
The question, of course, is going to be when and how long he holds out, because, as we all know, and as we all saw in the final days of that campaign, Bill Clinton was very angry about how the campaign turned out. He was angry at the media. He was angry at some of the Obama people.
So, it may take him a bit longer than it will take Hillary Clinton, because, in fact, the onus was really on her as far as the party was concerned to step up and bring this unity to the forefront for the party. So, you will hear from Bill Clinton, but I suspect it will be later, rather than sooner.
COOPER: All right. We will be waiting.
Thanks very much, Candy. Appreciate it.
Still to come; that possible pregnancy pact in Massachusetts. Seventeen girls from one school are pregnant. We know that's a fact. But, today, the mayor of Gloucester, Mass., cast doubt on the idea of their being a pact, basically blamed budget cuts for the school's problems. We will have the latest on the controversy that has America talking.
But, first, Don Imus in hot water again for new comments about race -- could this be the end of his career? We will talk about his latest comments coming up, and you can judge for yourself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON IMUS, FORMER RADIO SHOW HOST: There's some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they've got some tattoos. That's some nappy-headed hos there, I'm going to tell you that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Has Don Imus done it again? Those were his comments back in April 2007, when he referred, as you'll remember, to the Rutgers women's basketball team as nappy-headed hoes. Imus later apologized. He also lost his job.
But he was quickly given another lucrative radio contract, hired that time by ABC Radio, whom he now works for.
Tonight, he is once again facing more trouble for something he said about race. New comments, new controversy. It happened on air this morning, when Imus and sportscaster Warner Wolf were talking about Adam "Pacman" Jones, a football player for the Dallas Cowboys. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARNER WOLF, SPORTSCASTER: Defensive back Adam "Pacman" Jones recently signed by the Cowboys. Here's a guy suspended all of 2007, following the shooting in a Vegas nightclub.
IMUS: Well, stuff happens. You're in a nightclub, for God's sake. What do you think is going to happen in a nightclub? People are drinking. They're doing drugs. There are women there, and people have guns. So there, go ahead.
WOLF: He's also -- he's been arrested six times since being drafted by Tennessee in 2005.
IMUS: What color is he?
WOLF: He's African-American.
IMUS: There you go. OK. Now we know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We repeatedly attempted to contact Don Imus, his attorney and the radio station. But our calls have gone unanswered.
However, Imus did tell "The New York Times" that he made that remark because, and I quote, "I meant he was being picked on because he's black."
We're "Digging Deeper" with syndicated radio host Michael Medved, who defended Don Imus in 2007, saying one stupid comment should not ruin his career. And CNN analyst and radio talk show host Roland Martin, who did not defend him.
Roland, what do you think now? Do you think Imus -- do believe him when he says that he meant Adam "Pacman" Jones was being picked on because he's black?
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN ANALYST: Well, to believe that is you have to hear exactly what he said and understand the context. And I don't quite see that.
Not only that, Adam "Pacman" Jones didn't get picked on because he's black. It's because he's an idiot. OK, that's what he is. He's gotten himself into trouble. But I don't understand how Imus came up with that. I didn't hear any of that in his statement. So maybe he's pulling that out of thin air.
COOPER: Michael, what do you think?
MICHAEL MEDVED, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Look, I think that this is the second time I cannot believe what I just heard. Actually hearing that segment, for Imus to all of a sudden say, "What color is he?"
What's outrageous about this, Anderson, is that Americans, if there's one area we don't want race to be a big factor, it's sports. A lot of white kids like me grew up rooting for black sports heroes. Why would he -- and he did it before. That's what he did with Rutgers. Why bring race into that one arena where we should, beyond any other, being past it, which is professional sports?
It really is sad. I feel sorry for Imus, but this is it. There's no defense for this.
COOPER: So you don't -- you don't buy his excuse, Michael?
MEDVED: Look, I haven't heard the entire discussion. His excuse sounds very, very implausible. First of all, can there be anything more irrelevant than his question, "What color is he?" I mean, that to me is offensive.
MARTIN: Anderson, just out of us (ph) here, as Warner read the story, what he said was, Pacman Jones wants to change his name because of the bad publicity. Jones never said that he got in trouble because he's black.
So if that's the point that Imus was trying to make, you would think that the athlete himself would say, "Well, I want to do this because the cops are picking on me." No. Somehow Imus brings that into the conversation. So it makes no sense whatsoever. They simply don't fit together.
COOPER: Do you think he should -- go ahead, Michael.
MEDVED: Yes, if there is one thing -- if you're Don Imus right now -- and, again, he was in total disgrace. It was a national discussion. The one thing you're going to be careful of -- you have this big news show. He even has two African-American regulars on his show to try to deal with this problem.
I don't know what he could have been thinking. You would try to be so careful if you're Don Imus. This kind of recklessness, this kind of crudeness. It's inexplicable to me.
COOPER: Two things. Roland, the vice president of WABC and Citadel Broadcasting Corporation, which I guess is Imus' boss, says it's unlikely they would take disciplinary action against him.
Al Sharpton called Imus' remarks disturbing. He said he's going to determine in the next day or so whether or not the remark warrants direct action by his National Action Network.
Imus has said he's going to talk more about this tomorrow with Dick Gregory, an African-American comedian, who was originally booked on to talk about George Carlin.
What do you think should happen, Roland? MARTIN: I think Imus needs to somehow get a brain and say, "Why do you even bring it up?" It just makes so sense whatsoever. Of course, Citadel and WABC aren't going to do anything. They've invested a whole lot of money into this guy.
And frankly, Don Imus is probably getting more attention right now than he's gotten since his show came back on the air, because, look, he's not a big deal any more. He no longer has his TV show on a major network. And so they're probably happy he's getting all the publicity.
COOPER: I'm sorry to be talking about this again on this particular subject. Michael Medved, it's good to have you on again. Roland Martin, as well. Thank you very much.
MEDVED: Thank you.
COOPER: If you wanted to see a discussion of this here on 360, be sure to check out our new AC 360 Web site. There's a blog going on, people talking about it right now. It's an extension of what we do here, but you can get it all day long. The blog, blog posts from people like Roland and other guests, behind-the-scenes reports from our team of correspondents and producers, links to video from the programs you may have missed. Twenty-four hours a day at AC360.com, if you want to weigh in on the Imus controversy. You can check out our blog right now.
Up next, kids having kids. It's the other controversy America is talking about: the alleged pregnancy pact at one high school. Tonight the mayor weighs in on the shocking story. Latest developments ahead.
And a bizarre day at the beach for actor Matthew McConnaughey. Fellow surfers come to his defense in a paparazzi smack-down. What's up (ph)? Ahead on 360
COOPER: The principal called it a teen pregnancy pact, the story we first told you about on Friday, a story that shocked America. At least 17 girls at Gloucester in Massachusetts became pregnant this year. Seventeen. One of the fathers is reportedly a homeless man.
Officials at the school say some of the teens may have made an agreement between themselves to become mothers, intentionally getting themselves pregnant.
Tonight, some major new developments. Gloucester's mayor is speaking out, saying there's absolutely no evidence the kids made a pact to get pregnant.
So let's get the latest. Here's CNN's Randi Kaye, up close.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Damage control in Gloucester, Massachusetts. MAYOR CAROLYN KIRK, GLOUCESTER, MASSACHUSETTS: Any planned blood oath bond to become pregnant, there is absolutely no evidence of.
KAYE: Suddenly, the mayor and school officials questioning reports of a pregnancy pact at Gloucester High School. This school year, 17 girls got pregnant, more than four times the school's average. Most are sophomores, some as young as 15.
KIRK: There has been no independent verification beyond what the principal has stated, as one person, that there was a pact.
KAYE: Just last week, school principal Dr. Joseph Sullivan told "TIME" magazine the girls were part of a pact. Now says the mayor...
KIRK: He was foggy in his memory of how he heard about the information. When we pressed him for specifics about who told him, when was he told, his memory failed.
KAYE: Still, on Friday, Superintendent Christopher Farmer told me when the girls found out they were pregnant...
CHRISTOPHER FARMER, SUPERINTENDENT, MASSACHUSETTS HIGH SCHOOL: There's talk of high fives.
KAYE: High fives to celebrate they were expecting. And this Gloucester resident told us he knew of a pact.
TED SORENSON, STEPDAUGHTER PRESSURED TO GET PREGNANT: There was a tremendous amount of peer pressure, negative peer pressure for as many girls as possible to join in this pact. And luckily my stepdaughter was smart enough or scared enough to say no.
KAYE (on camera): But today, no pact, no principal. He wasn't invited to the press conference. We tried reaching him. No luck. The mayor used the time to point fingers as to why she thinks so many girls from Gloucester High are expecting.
(voice-over) Meeting the underfunded demands of No Child Left Behind and state budget cuts, she says, make it impossible for sex education to be taught beyond freshman year.
KIRK: Budget cuts over the last six years have forced the elimination of almost 100 teachers and staff.
KAYE: Parents were also on the receiving end.
KIRK: Parents and guardians are the primary educators of their children. They are ultimately responsible for the health and well- being of their children.
KAYE: Still up for debate is whether the school should dispense contraceptives on site. Only five districts in the state do. This isn't one of them. In fact, Gloucester High's doctor recently resigned after coming under fire for giving out birth control.
DR. BRIAN ORR, DIRECTOR, CLINIC MEDICAL: We were on our way to trying to do things that any parent, any adult, any community would want. Decreasing the initiation of having sex and decreasing the number of sexual partners.
KAYE: For Gloucester, it's a PR nightmare with no end in sight and still no clear beginning.
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
COOPER: So the kids, the parents, the school officials, who's the blame and who should be held responsible? And should they be handing out birth control in a high school? The debate, pro and con, with our guests, coming up.
And later, wildfires hit the West Coast. We'll take you to the front lines.
And a police helicopter has a close encounter over the UK. The crew says it was an alien spacecraft. We'll show you the pictures and let you decide when 360 continues.
COOPER: Kids having kids. That is the reality at Gloucester High School in Massachusetts. And we've been telling you 17 teens have become pregnant this year. And they are not alone.
According to the CDC, for the first time in 14 years, the teen birthrate is up across America. In 2006, more than 400,000 babies were born to girls 15 to 19 years old. More than 400,000.
At Gloucester High, they don't give out birth control, and one doctor affiliated with the school actually resigned after he was criticized for doing so. So should school -- school officials give out contraceptives? The question has our nation divided and two very different viewpoints.
Now joining me are Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood of America, and Tony Perkins, Family Research Council president and author of "Personal Faith, Personal Policy."
Tony, if 17 kids get pregnant in one school in one year, why shouldn't they give out, you know, contraceptives to kids who want them?
TONY PERKINS, AUTHOR, "PERSONAL FAITH, PERSONAL POLICY": Well, Anderson, that's a good question, because there obviously is a problem in that community. And zeroing in on what the mayor said, complaining about they did not have any money, really needs to talk to Governor Patrick, who refused the federal funding for abstinence.
I mean, clearly, while there may not have been a pact, clearly it's -- we can presume that these girls felt that it was OK to be sexually active and become pregnant to the point that they celebrate it. So there's some -- there's messages that are being sent to these young girls that are very dangerous and inappropriate.
COOPER: Are you saying abstinence alone, abstinence education alone will stop the teen pregnancy rate or grassroots...?
PERKINS: These girls -- these girls had sex education. According to the curriculum in this school, in ninth grade, they had sex education. Apparently, they applied what they learned in that class, and they became pregnant.
The abstinence message, which tells kids that it's -- it's not appropriate for them to engage in sexual behavior, is a message that will prevent pregnancy. And that's not a = a message that this school gad embraced. This school on its site has a free daycare for children or for students to bring their babies to school. I mean, what kind of message is that sending to the students?
COOPER: Cecile, would -- is eight grade -- is ninth grade sex education enough? You know, one class in ninth grade, is that enough? And does abstinence education work?
CECILE RICHARDS, PRESIDENT, PLANNED PARENTHOOD OF AMERICA: Absolutely not. Congress's own study shows that abstinence-only education has been a complete failure, either in preventing unintended pregnancy or teen pregnancy or giving information to kids to help them be responsible.
And I think that's what we all want. I'm a parent of two teenagers, and I know I want my kids to be responsible. But they can't be responsible unless we give them information they need.
It's interesting that Tony mentions that Massachusetts has refused abstinence-only education money. Seventeen governors this year did, precisely for this reason. Because they said, "Look, we've got to get serious about teen pregnancy in this -- in this country, do something about it, provide young people information and guidance."
COOPER: Tony, I'm always skeptical to bring up Europe as an example, but in Europe there is a much smaller teen pregnancy rate, and sex education is a lot more -- a lot more thorough. Kids aren't just taught just abstinence-only. Why shouldn't America do the same?
PERKINS: You know, Anderson, I find this amazing. We don't hesitate to tell kids to say no when it comes to drugs or alcohol. And we even tell them, you know, "Don't smoke. Just say no to smoking." We don't hand them filters to put on their cigarettes and say, "Smoke -- smoke safety."
I mean, what's wrong with telling kids, with the abstinence message, not to engage in sexual behavior? I mean, it is a message that is -- not only prevents pregnancy. It prevents sexually transmitted diseases and also the emotional scarring that comes with young children being involved in behavior that is just not appropriate for them.
RICHARDS: You know, I think, honestly, people would like to think that works, but that's been the policy for the last eight years. And we've seen, you know, $1.5 billion spent on abstinence-only programming, and yet we see, as you said, the teen birthrate going up in this country. I think it's time we get serious.
COOPER: So you're not against abstinence...
RICHARDS: Absolutely not.
COOPER: ... programs at all? You're just saying in conjunction with others?
RICHARDS: Absolutely. In fact, Planned Parenthood is a big supporter of abstinence-based comprehensive sex education in schools.
Although I'd also say one thing that Tony mentions is important. It's not -- the schools can't do it all. You know, parents are the most important sex educator for a teen. I think it's really important that, as parents and as communities, we get much more serious about talking openly and honestly about sex and helping kids make responsible decisions when it comes to sexual behavior.
COOPER: Tony, what about that? Do you see parents to blame in this?
PERKINS: Absolutely. I mean, that's one thing the mayor said that I agree with, that the parents have a role to play here. But it has to be backed up by the school.
You know, for the school to promote on-site daycare for students sends a message that is just -- it is in contradiction with the message that, "Look, we want you to go through school. We don't want you to get pregnant. We don't want you to be sexually active. We want you to finish your education and go pursue a successful career."
But yet you have girls. You have a culture that's being created where girls celebrate getting pregnant at 16.
COOPER: A response for that from you?
RICHARDS: Well, I think the thing that's important to understand why teen pregnancy and having -- we estimate 750,000 teenagers will get pregnant this year in America.
COOPER: Seven hundred fifty thousand?
RICHARDS: Which is incredible and totally unacceptable.
COOPER: I had no idea it was that high.
RICHARDS: It's phenomenally high. And it's higher, as you said, than other western -- western countries. And I think the problem is, teenage girls who get pregnant, are much less likely to finish high school, very unlikely to ever be financially self-sufficient. And unfortunately, too, their own children pay the price: much more likely to have developmental difficulties.
And so I think this is something as a country we need to take very seriously. And I think this particular story maybe is helping give us the attention that it needs.
COOPER: We're going to -- Tony, very quickly.
PERKINS: That's very true. That is absolutely true. We are giving these girls a harder start in life by allowing them to get pregnant and encouraging that with the messages that we're sending. So I agree with that. We need to encourage them to remain chaste until marriage and stay in a monogamous relationship. Better for them and their children.
COOPER: We've got to leave it there. I'm sorry. Tony Perkins, appreciate your comments.
Cecile Richards, as well. Thanks. Good to have you on the program.
RICHARDS: Thanks a lot. Thanks for having me.
COOPER: Good to have you, both of you (ph).
Let us know what you think on our blog at AC360.com.
Coming up, are space aliens buzzing Great Britain? A new tape has been released, and we'll tell you the bizarre story, I guess, behind it.
But first, Randi Kaye has our "360 News and Business Bulletin."
KAYE: Hi there, Anderson. Let's start out in Northern California wine country. Cooler weather there, helping crews get a handle on hundreds of wildfires. This one in Napa County covered more than six square miles. It's now about 40 percent contained.
The price of oil rising again. Markets apparently responding to Saudi Arabia's decision to pump more oil, but not enough to meet rising demand. Light sweet crude settled at $136.74 a barrel. In New York, stocks were mixed.
Actor and comedian George Carlin being remembered tonight. He died of heart failure over the weekend at a hospital in California. He was 71.
Just recently, when he found out he would be receiving the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor this fall, he said, "Thank you, Mr. Twain. Have your people call my people."
And now watch this. A mob of surfers attacking a paparazzo who'd been taking pictures of Matthew McConnaughey while the actor was out on the waves. The photographer says they tossed his camera in the water. Local detectives are investigating.
COOPER: Hasn't Matthew McConnaughey, like, made an entire career of appearing shirtless on beaches?
KAYE: Yes, he has.
COOPER: Right, so...
KAYE: He does it well.
COOPER: Well, I guess now -- I guess he no longer wants to be seen shirtless on beaches.
COOPER: Anyway, all right. Now just up to Mario Lopez.
Our "Beat 360" winner, it's our daily challenge to viewers. A chance to show up our staffers by coming up with a better caption for the picture we post in our blog every day. And now the stakes are higher than ever. Starting tonight, our viewer winner will receive a prize.
Tonight's picture, take a look. Where is the picture? In a minute. There we go. Lola, a Chihuahua, that took part in Lynn University's first annual Take Your Dog to Work Day in Boca Raton, Florida, last week.
Our staff winner was Van, our intern. Her caption: "You quiero that mike out of my face."
(SOUND EFFECT: dogs barking)
COOPER: Our viewer winner is Joe from San Diego. His caption: "OK, I admit it. My visa's expired! Now tell Lou Dobbs to stop hounding me."
KAYE: Very nice.
COOPER: Joe, you're going to receive our special prize T-shirt. It's going to be a very hot item on eBay. I think I've got one right here. It says "I Won the Beat 360 Challenge." There you go.
All right. To play along, you can go to our new Web site, AC360.com.
Stay right there, Randi. Up next, strange sightings from the country that brought you crop circles. Blimey.
And later, serious stuff, flood waters still rising. We'll take you where it's happening in the Midwest. Ahead on 360.
COOPER: Time for "The Shot." Check this out. A police helicopter tracking an unidentified flying object over the skies of the UK. It's bright and seems to emit flashing lights. The nighttime video was shot earlier this month in South Wales.
Authorities deny reports the mysterious moving shape tried to attack the helicopter. I don't know where those reports came from.
UFO believers will say this is absolutely proof -- proof, I tell you -- that aliens are watching us, studying us. Skeptics argue, of course, that it's hogwash and there is a simple explanation.
KAYE: I admit, Anderson, I had a little time to read the blogs on this today.
KAYE: A lot of believers out there.
COOPER: No doubt, no doubt.
KAYE: A lot of people paying attention.
Coming up at the top of the hour, racing the river. We're back on the frontlines where the Mississippi just keeps rising, and sandbaggers are rising to the occasion.
Also, Barack Obama in pursuit of female voters. We'll look at his new alliance with Hillary Clinton and the issue he thinks can win over the gender divide, that could make him president. That and more when 360 continues.