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Monica Lewinsky is Back; Benghazi, Lewinsky Connected to Clinton; Update on MH370 Search; Mother Talks About Kevin Durant.

Aired May 8, 2014 - 11:30   ET



MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Great conversation about Donald Sterling. Great conversation to be had now. Monica Lewinsky's name is back in the news. A new article in "Vanity Fair" is out there for everybody to see and read. About 10 years of reclusive silence on her part, officially broken. She says in the article she's trying to, quote, "Take back her narrative." But could it change the narrative also for Hillary Clinton's political prospects?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Monica Lewinsky writes that her essay isn't about her and the Clintons. She writes, "Their lives have moved on. I wish them no ill, and I fully understand that what has happened to me and the issue of my future do not matter to either of them." Let that sink in for a moment.

We're joined by our Suzanne Malveaux from Washington. Also Eric Dezenhall, crisis management consultant.

PEREIRA: Have you needed him before?

BERMAN: Confidentiality is a big part of Eric's business.

Suzanne, people have been critical a little says bit of this essay from Lewinsky, also those who praise it. This is a well thought-out piece, and she's writing about more than just her and the Clintons. She writes about society, to an extent. She says we may not have become a crueler society, although it sure feels as if we have, but the internet has seismically shifted the tone of our interactions. You covered her forever when this was breaking. Is it interesting to hear her be introspective now?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I appreciated this article for a number of reasons because first of all she brings up the point about the internet and says thank god she was spared from Facebook and Twitter and how fast the news cycle is. It would have been harder in this day and age. I take you back 16 years ago, why did it even become a story in the first place? We're sitting in the White House, and we get a fax of the drudge report that comes across. John Palmer and I at the time. We debated whether or not it was a story to begin with because you had Paula Jones, Gennifer Flowers. You didn't really even know if this was going to stick. The reason it did was because she was an intern. And we had a bet over steak dinner whether or not it would turn into anything. Well, fast forward, the House impeaches the president, and John Palmer says you owe me a steak dinner. I mean, we were back in the day where it was not necessarily clear whether or not this was going to be something that anyone was interested in. The reason why? Because you had the independent counsel, the Starr report, that made it a legitimate story. Now she has the opportunity to tell her own side, her own story, and not be a stereotype or a caricature the way she was made some 16 years ago.

PEREIRA: Yeah. And I think taking back her narrative, I think, is resonating with some people. It's interesting, you know, I was thinking back, Suzanne, 16 years ago doesn't really feel like that long ago, but in a way it was forever ago. An intern and a president. I want to read this other part that she writes. Quote, "It was an authentic connection with emotional intimacy. Frequent visits, plans made, phone calls and gifts exchanged." She really wanted people to understand what she felt, it seems, of that relationship because I think there are people who felt she was taken advantage of or that she sought this out.

MALVEAUX: If you read the Starr report, I mean, this was a thing that was really like about three or four books the size of telephone books. You stacked them up one on top of the other. When we got that Starr report 16 years ago, I sat there and I read through this thing. And we all tried to digest it as quickly as possible here. But it was a sad and pathetic story. I mean, it really was. And it was interdependent because you had had the e-mails, you had the phone calls, you had the recordings. You heard the president and Monica Lewinsky. And it seemed like it was a mutual dependent relationship. The both of them, the two of them. So you could understand why in a way as a young 20-something-year-old that she would think it was a mutual consensual relationship. It was sad to me that the president was very much engaged in this relationship, and that's what her takeaway was.

BERMAN: Eric, the question is to what end now she wants to reclaim her narrative. Can she?

ERIC DEZENHALL, CRISIS MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT: Not really. I mean, look. Every scandal figure wants to be embraced as the truly multidimensional people that they really are. The fact is the rest of us have no interest in that type of complexity. We are interested in cast characters. So the idea of taking back your narrative is a wish. It's not a strategy. That said, she did say something in the article, and Suzanne points this out correctly, that we are in this vicious climate where internet shaming and media cascades run away, and you can't get them back. So if you can't change your narrative, what you can do is embrace it. And one of the things that I think that she can do is because it's dodge city out there with all of this -- this media cycle, I think that she can probably begin to do something in terms of the laws that are now being passed in this area. So to me, that would be her future. But she's not going to get people to unthink she was the woman in the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal.

PEREIRA: It reminds me of when you apologize to somebody, you can't guarantee that they're going to accept that apology, right? You might feel like you got something off the chest. You can't necessarily control how they react to it. DEZENHALL: Well, you know, it's funny. I had this argument with my students at Georgetown's business school. We were talking about Michael Milken who had the trouble in the late 1980s with junk bonds and fraud. He's done some extraordinary things in the last 30 years. That have redeemed him in many respects. And one of my students said, but I haven't forgotten that he was convicted of stock-related fraud. So this idea that it's like "men in black" that you could zap people and get them to un-remember things is simply not going to happen. I think what's going to be interesting is what this does and doesn't mean for the political campaign that may be coming.

BERMAN: Aha. And thank you for helping me with my tease, Eric.

Suzanne Malveaux, also great to have you here.

As Eric was saying, so much for Lewinsky. What does this mean for, let's say --


BERMAN: -- the Clintons, Hillary Clinton, if she runs for president. What does her future now hold? Also, there's the issue of Benghazi in the news today. We'll discuss that just ahead.



HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: With all due respect, the fact is, we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided to go kill some Americans? At this point, what difference does it make?


BERMAN: That, of course, the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talking about Benghazi. Right now AT THIS HOUR, there are two issues very much connected to Clinton and the news. Benghazi you saw there and we've been talking about Monica Lewinsky and her new essay in "Vanity Fair."

PEREIRA: The House of Representatives are preparing to vote on a Republican plan for a special panel regarding Benghazi. Would investigate those 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate that claimed four American lives when Clinton was secretary of state. Clinton is suggesting this is all about partisan politics.


CLINTON: Despite all of the hearings, all of the information that's been provided, some choose not to be satisfied and choose to continue to move forward. That's their choice. And I do not believe there is any reason for it to continue in this way.


PEREIRA: Our political commentators, Marc Lamont Hill and Will Cane, are here.

And fellows, we'll get to Benghazi in a moment to find out if you think this is a partisan witch hunt or show trial as some Democrats say. I want to talk about "Vanity Fair."


And the Monica Lewinsky essay, is this a thorn in her side for Hillary Clinton that Monica Lewinsky has come out with this essay, or is it better to get this out of the way now?

WILL CAIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: A thorn in her side for now. The question is will it last? Will it be a thorn in her side two years from now? I think it issue could stick around. Lewinsky is certainly worried about that. She's terrified of a Clinton run in 2016. She says that in the article. She knows all this will come back. So that means it will be coming back to Hillary as well.

LAMONT HILL: I think it will linger but I don't think it's a thorn in Hillary's side. I think it helps Hillary. As we're reminded of the affair, we're also reminded of her as a long-suffering wife. And in the midst of Benghazi, she needs as much sympathy as possible.

BERMAN: No group better to talk about feminism than two other guys and me.


PEREIRA: Oh, let me sit back and watch this happen.


BERMAN: But Lewinsky does talk about this essay, she talks about where were the feminists at defending me, and to a certain extent she groups Hillary in with that. Is that a criticism that could stick?

CAIN: No. I don't think the jilted wife has to be the one that has to come to the defense of the mistress.


CAIN: However, the question being about how much did Hillary participate in Monica's destruction? Calling her, what, a narcissistic looney tune. Those are legitimate questions.

LAMONT HILL: Yeah, but they're questions people will understand. No one is not going to sympathize with Hillary on this. The feminists should have come to Monica's defense. People are continuing to shame her and make her the villain and Bill Clinton the sanctified hero.

PEREIRA: There's a double standard there certainly.

BERMAN: Benghazi, Will Cane, Benghazi insofar as it relates to Hillary, there are people in the arena now who say that Benghazi would not be the issue it is. We would not be talking about this select committee in the House, were Hillary Clinton not thinking about a run for the presidency.

CAIN: Well, you know, and I heard you guys ask, is this a politicized witch hunt? What I would say is does it matter? At some point politics help drive the quest for the truth as long as we are looking for the truth. Not mutually exclusive. Just because it's not partisan --


LAMONT HILL: If Joe Biden were running as the front-runner, this wouldn't be a conversation.

CAIN: Just the fact that it's partisan, though, doesn't mean you dismiss it. As long as it's advancing a search for the truth. There is a question about this. Why amidst all the confusion when the CIA was emphasizing, deemphasizing, al Qaeda, they were certain based upon the talking points we know now this was due to a video which we also know is false. So why did they have that certainty?

LAMONT HILL: This is the problem with me is there's always this famed obsession with the truth. We must find the truth. That's not the case. They've been asking the same fundamental questions for the last two years, which is what about security? Why did we ignore previous requests? Why wasn't there a traveling security team and why were the words terror and attack omitted from the president's remarks?

CAIN: And video included.

LAMONT HILL: A report came out acknowledging there were security mistakes, that the State Department didn't act responsibly. No one is suggesting that Hillary Clinton is blameless here, but to act as if there is this moment where there was a conspiracy, that's the problem. It's almost like people want this "a few good men" moment. That's not going to happen.

CAIN: Look, there is a cost that we continue to ignore. There's a reason why the folks put on the video. Free speech was impugned, and don't forget this, a man went to jail. The maker of that video did go do jail. The only person. He's the only person in connection with Benghazi.

BERMAN: And four people have died.


BERMAN: And for people have died.

Will Cain, Marc Lamont Hill, great to have you with us AT THIS HOUR. Please come back again.

PEREIRA: I love it when you guys talk. So cute. Did I really just say that? Another story, it has been two months now since flight 370 vanished. Still we don't know if this missing plane will ever be found. We'll take a look at the search effort and where it stands right now.


PEREIRA: Well, it has been two months now since flight 370 vanished. An international team is now reexamining all of the data they've gathered so far to make sure the search is focused in the right place.

BERMAN: The effort to find the plane with its 239 passengers is getting deeper, broader and more expensive by the day. A big question, obviously, are officials getting any closer to solving the mystery?

We're joined today by aviation analyst, Mary Schiavo; and safety analyst, David Soucie.

So great to have you.

Mary, I want to talk about the future in a more global sense. In these two months since the flight disappeared, a lot of people have been talking about the technology to track planes, the live streaming of black box data. It looks like finally we're learning this week, a Canadian airline is set to take the lead on this. What can you tell us about it?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: That's right. The Canadian airline that flies arctic circles and really remote areas, called Firstair, has been working with Flightstream and working a couple years to develop a black box and will cost 100 thousand a plane and will work three-way live stream. The pilot can flip a switch and cause the black box data to stream to his or her company to get help with a problem on board. The company can flip a switch and stream the data to track what's going on with its planes or set the black box so it down downloads it every three minutes and very important because if it goes down like in the arctic circle, they have to get there.

PEREIRA: And they won't last long if it crashes on land at all. It's been two months, the search has been going on, frustrating but agonizing for the family members. I know you've been hearing directly from some of them. They've been putting to get more information on the investigation and the search. Are they having any luck? What kind of data are they saying they would like to hear?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: A group called voice 370 and getting very good at communicating. I looked at the letter. It's directed to the prime minister and JACC. It's a very good letter. This letter talks about things we'd be more comfortable with. We would like to have this information. Because you have no physical evidence we'd like the Inmarsat data looked at and raw data. We want new eyes and out of the box thinking. They want to make sure, as Mary said, if you have a conclusion, the data tends to support that conclusion. They're wanting to look at this from a set of new eyes and want a nonprofit organization involved not just simply the profit organization. I think they have a little kern about the type of tools being used, are they the right one because they're more profitable for someone or right ones because they need to be there. They're asking for a nonprofit and a few others.

BERMAN: I want to ask you about the issue of time, Mary. In the first 35 days of this search, time was of the essence and the Bluefin did its search. They seem to be stepping back and not take their time but doing it in a more deliberate fashion. Is time in any way against them other than trying to satisfy the families and their curiosity, is there anything they might do different at this point?

SCHIAVO: No. One of the issues on time is money. They're looking at that very carefully. A lot of clues they have put restrictions so Malaysia doesn't spend all their money and they're looking at it very carefully for the families.

BERMAN: Thank you, Mary Schiavo, David Soucie.

PEREIRA: A turn here. Kevin Durant got the Sabres MVP title last night. As much as it kills me as a clippers fan they tied up their Western Conference series last night against the Los Angeles Clippers.

BERMAN: In accepting the honor, Kevin made emotional comments about his more. People are still talking about it.


KEVIN DURANT, OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER PLAYER: We weren't supposed to be here. You made us believe. You kept us off the street, put clothes on our backs, food on the table. When you didn't eat, you made sure we ate. You went to sleep hungry. You sacrificed for us. You're the real MVP.


PEREIRA: That real MVP is still basking in the joy of that moment. I had a chance to speak with her this morning.


PEREIRA: Talk about a Mother's Day present.

WANDA PRATT, MOTHER OF KEVIN DURANT: What a wonderful Mother's Day present. Every time I hear that, I just start to cry. I've literally been crying for 24 -- 48 hours. It's been surreal.

PEREIRA: You know, sometimes our son, our fellows are men of few words. Have you ever seen your son speak this way? Is this out of character for him?

PRATT: Yes. I mean, he's very quiet. He's very reserved and observant. He spoke so wonderfully the other day. I really didn't know he would say those things about me. I knew he would mention me and my family but I didn't know he would do it so immensely. I was a little shocked and surprised, pleasantly, of course.

PEREIRA: Of course, we all loved seeing your reaction hearing those words. What many of us appreciate he thanked each and every member of his team, coaches, players, trainers, by name. I want to know what you did to raise your boys in such a fashion to show such gratitude.

PRATT: I always told them that whatever successes that they had in life, it did not have to be them, it just happened to be them and they always had to remember that. I really believe that remembering that, it just leaves you in a place of humility, knowing that you are blessed to be in the situation that you are. I really believe that's where it comes from him.

PEREIRA: I love, too, that he says, he's still my baby. I don't know how tall that young man is and an MVP and a star making all that money and still her baby.

PRATT: He's very good at basketball and also a very good son probably more important.


PEREIRA: I love when she says, he's still my baby.

BERMAN: He's good at basketball and a very good son.

PEREIRA: Mother's Day this weekend, step up, fellows. Thanks for joining us. I'm Michaela Pereira.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman.

"LEGAL VIEW" with Ashleigh Banfield starts after this very short break.