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CNN SPECIAL REPORTS
New Audio Recording of Donald Sterling?; 20 Years Since O.J.; Your Questions Answered on Donald Sterling Scandal; Did O.J. Trial Fuel Appetite for Reality TV?
Aired May 8, 2014 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN SPECIAL REPORT. I'm Don Lemon.
Tonight, Sterling strikes again. Another audio recording surfaces allegedly featuring Clippers owner Donald Sterling, and according to him, what, me, racist? Ridiculous. I have expert attorneys and figures from the sports world debating the issue of race in America and the impact of the Donald Sterling saga, and they will be answering your questions as well.
Plus, this infamous moment, the birth of reality TV. Remember this, everyone? I certainly do. It's 20 years since O.J. Simpson's riveting slow-speed Bronco chase down the San Diego Freeway; 95 million people tuned in to watch. You probably did, too. And we're going to tell you why this may be the moment that kicked off a binge of unscripted reality TV that is still going strong.
Look, we're going to start with Donald Sterling. I'm not an audio expert, but a new recording that you're about to be purported to be Donald Sterling talking to a friend denying he's a racist certainly could be the same voice on the first recording with V. Stiviano, the one that surfaced a couple of weeks ago, the one with the racist statements.
So let's just assume that it is him. Then why is he talking again to another -- quote -- "confidant" about the same subject that got him in this mess in the first place? Why? As an attorney, he should know better, shouldn't he? Unless it's a P.R. stunt, all right, a P.R. stunt intended to sway public opinion about him being racist.
When you hear the recordings in just a moment, pay close attention to how carefully he goes over his background and defends himself. Just listen to his own words and decide for yourself, P.R. strategy or real?
In this new tape, Donald Sterling asks -- and I quote -- "How can you be in this business and be a racist?"
That's a good question, Donald Sterling, a good question that only you can answer.
Now to the tape. Nick Valencia has the story now.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think I'm a racist? You think I have anything in the world but love for everybody? You don't think that. You know I'm not a racist.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a new recording purportedly of Donald Sterling talking on the phone with a friend, the Los Angeles Clippers owner defends himself.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think I tell the coach to get white players or to get the best player he can get?
VALENCIA: CNN cannot independently confirm it's Sterling's voice on the tape released Thursday by Radar Online. But if it is the real deal, the embattled owner is not going down without a fight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't force someone to sell property in America. Well, I'm a lawyer. That's my opinion.
VALENCIA: But today in an interview with CNN, Shelly Sterling's lawyer says she's the real boss.
PIERCE O'DONNELL, ATTORNEY FOR SHELLY STERLING: They have been estranged and not living together for over a year. OK? And while they share business, business properties, he's out of the team, has nothing to do with it, and she's the owner in charge.
VALENCIA: Shelly Sterling maintains her estranged husband's lifetime ban does not apply to her. A co-owner since 1981, she says -- quote -- "The team is the most important thing to my family" and believes she's legally entitled to the Clippers.
(on camera): If Shelly Sterling gets full ownership of the team, it could give her husband a big break. If he is forced to sell the Clippers, he would be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars in capital gains taxes, that according to "Sports Illustrated."
If the controversial owner's latest purported audio recording is a reflection of what he plans to do, Donald Sterling is preparing to fight.
Nick Valencia, CNN.
LEMON: Nick Valencia, thank you very much.
I want to bring in now my guest. Cedric Maxwell is a former NBA player who played for the L.A. Clippers. He is also a sports radio host for the Sports Hub in Boston. Kenneth Shropshire is a sports attorney director at the Wharton Sports Business Initiative. And Judge Glenda Hatchett of Court TV's "Judge Hatchett." Jeffrey Toobin is CNN's senior legal analyst.
And in the hot seat tonight is Sunny Hostin, CNN legal analyst and a former federal prosecutor. My first question goes to the person in the shot seat and that is Sunny Hostin. The voice on that tape is supposedly Donald Sterling. He says she's not a racist. But then the man on the tape says, well, what about what I heard on the tape, Donald?
I want you to listen to what Donald Sterling says about that.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I grew up in east L.A. East L.A., you die to get out of there. I got out of east L.A. I was the president of the high school there. I mean -- you see, and I'm a Jew and 50 percent of the people there were black and 40 percent were Hispanic.
You ever been to Boyle Heights?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I have been to Boyle Heights.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, I mean, people must have a good feeling for me.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
LEMON: Is that it? It's settled? Case closed?
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think there's no question at least for me in my mind that he is leaking this.
He is a very savvy businessman. They say he's one of the best in the business. He's a lawyer. He makes that very, very clear. And our own Anderson Cooper went to meet with him and he wouldn't go on camera. So the suggestion that he's somehow surreptitiously being recorded and he doesn't know just isn't true.
I think this is a P.R. stunt. He's trying to change the narrative from bigot and racist to octogenarian victim who was at the hands of V. Stiviano and who is not a racist. So, I think this was a planned thing. Maybe not by Olivia Pope, but certainly by Donald Sterling, right?
LEMON: Ken, what do you think about this and these comments?
KENNETH SHROPSHIRE, DIRECTOR, WHARTON SPORTS BUSINESS INSTITUTE, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: Well, it's an interesting path.
I thought that we'd get a whole different direction here. But this is surprising. I thought he was going to remain silent. In the end, the whole focus is on who the fellow owners want to have as a partner.
It's a big business, but it's a small business at the same time. You have got 30 other men, women in this partnership. If they don't want him in, all this talk about what courts will do in America about taking property, one thing the courts won't do is force you to associate people you don't want to associate with.
LEMON: But still, legally, Sunny has been saying this man is going to fight tooth and nail to keep this team with his wife.
HOSTIN: That's right.
SHROPSHIRE: No question about it.
HOSTIN: Yes. We're getting ready for a battle. There's no question about that.
And I also think, as I have saying all along, the real player here,the boss...
LEMON: Is Shelly, the wife.
LEMON: The estranged wife.
HOSTIN: The estranged wife, allegedly. We now know she owns 50 percent of the team.
LEMON: All right.
Let's bet back to this.
Jeffrey, Shelly Sterling, through her attorney, is now saying that she will fight to keep the Clippers, as we have been saying, and one "L.A. Times" columnist referred to her past involvement in some of her husband's housing discrimination cases and called her Cruella De Sterling.
Is she complicit with her husband?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I don't know if she's complicit, but I do think the NBA is going to try to get rid of her as well as get rid of Donald Sterling. I think Donald Sterling is gone.
He can leak all the phone calls he wants. He's too toxic. If he is still involved with this team, the players will not play, and the NBA can't have that. Sterling is gone. It's a more interesting and closer question whether the league can get rid of his wife, or estranged wife, whatever she is at this point.
I do think that, given the way the constitution of the NBA is written, they probably can get rid of her, too. But if that goes into court, that could be a tougher case for the NBA to make, to get rid of her 50 percent. But, Don, he's gone. He's history.
LEMON: It seems like there's some a consensus here among the panel that this tape was somehow leaked.
HOSTIN: I think it was definitely leaked.
LEMON: But can I get just a show of hands? Who thinks it was leaked?
LEMON: The people in the studio are also raising their hands. Is it because -- OK, does it sound to you -- and I don't know if -- it just sounds like it. It just saying it sounds like -- you said the guy is reading off of a script. Does it sound like he goes, and why would you say those things?
HOSTIN: It sounds like that to me. And again this is a very savvy guy.
LEMON: Go ahead, Judge, Judge Hatchett.
GLENDA HATCHETT, HOST, "THE JUDGE HATCHETT SHOW": Yes, I absolutely think it was scripted.
Why all now do we have this tape leaked? You have a mysterious person on the other end. We don't know who that person is. It was contrived and it is so transparent and so, I mean, scripted. It's a poor scriptwriter on top of it.
LEMON: But here's the weird thing, though. It doesn't seem to help him, Cedric. It doesn't seem to help him case at all, even if he put it out there as a P.R. ploy.
CEDRIC MAXWELL, FORMER NBA PLAYER: Well, here's the thing. I'm not calling him a racist anymore. I am just calling him confused, because over and over again, it seems the same thing kind of happens.
He kind of hits himself in the head. Then he backs away again and tells people different things. I don't care what happens in this whole situation. Donald Sterling cannot be in the NBA.
But, as the panelists said, he will not go down without a fight. It's going to be the scorched earth. He's not going down. The NBA is not going to get rid of Donald Sterling that easy.
HATCHETT: I think so. I think so. If I could just say too quickly, I think, given the constitution, given the constitution, I think Sterling's out.
LEMON: I want to get Ken in quickly.
HATCHETT: I think I agree with Jeffrey. The matter with Shelly is a little bit more complicated, but at the end of the day, regardless of what happens with the vote of the owners, the leverage really is with the players in this league, the fans, the sponsors, and ultimately with the players. And they will both be gone is what I predict.
LEMON: Ken, do you agree with that?
SHROPSHIRE: Oh, I agree.
And, again, I can't express more strongly there's a long history of sports law cases where the league, the fellow owners have the right to select and work with people they want to work with. So there's a lot that hasn't really been looked at in terms of the legal strength on that side.
I fully agree. Part of the constitution will give strength to this whole concept that the business can't operate without players, and the players have spoken and said they don't want to be a part of this organization with this man in charge. And we don't know yet about Shelly, but I'm assuming that, as information leaks about her further, there will be a stronger stance against her as well.
LEMON: So, Cedric, if he has a new strategy, then, is it working, this sort of P.R. strategy to try to -- in my estimation, it doesn't appear that putting this tape out, but this may be part of a strategy to try to come to try to stem the tide from the V. Stiviano tape.
MAXWELL: Well, one thing you guys had on CNN, you had a poll, and it registered with America, and they said that Donald Sterling, most people, over 50 percent said he should not be forced to sell his team.
So part of it, he's trying to work the whole system. It isn't just the NBA, but he's trying to work the system. And, obviously, I'm not a lawyer. And there's a lot of lawyers and people who are lawyers on your panel. But I look at all these things. He's going to go to court over and over again. I'm not sure if you get rid of Donald Sterling until he's dead and gone. .
HATCHETT: The constitution says that he has to abide by the three- fourths decision. And I would suggest that there would be some preliminary motions filed that would point to that and say that he is barred from bringing legal action on this.
HATCHETT: I think he's gone.
LEMON: All right. I have to get to a break. But you're right, Cedric. They are not only lawyers, but they play lawyers on television as well, so they are both.
MAXWELL: Yes, they do.
HOSTIN: And I disagree with Judge Hatchett, even though she's a friend.
LEMON: We will talk about that. We will talk about that.
LEMON: We have plenty of time.
All right, stand by.
Coming up, an NFL Super Bowl winner known for his strong words shares his opinion on Donald Sterling. You might be surprised what he had to say. That's next.
And later, 20 years after the O.J. Simpson white Bronco chase, some call it the birth of reality TV -- more on that coming up.
LEMON: It's a story of power, money, and race, and its reach goes way beyond basketball. Everyone has a strong opinion when it comes to Donald Sterling.
I'm back now with my expert guests.
OK. So, I want you guys to listen to this, because I want you all to weigh in.
"TIME" magazine asked Seattle Seahawks star Richard Sherman if an NFL owner similar comments to the ones that Sterling made, would Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, ban them for life?
And here's what Sherman said. This is his quote. He said: "No, I don't think so. No, I don't, because we have an NFL team called the Redskins. I don't think the NFL really is as concerned as they show. The NFL is more of a bottom line league. If I it doesn't affect their bottom line, they are not as concerned."
Cedric, do you think Sherman is right?
MAXWELL: No, I really don't, because you're talking about the Redskins and then you're talking about what he said about black people.
So it's completely two different things. I think if Donald -- if the commissioner of the NFL heard any racist comments like this, I think he would be on the same kind of line. If he's already talking about banning the N-word when guys tackle each other, I'm sure that he would be up front and really want to go at a guy if an owner did the same thing.
LEMON: I don't need to go around the horn unless someone disagrees.
TOOBIN: No, I disagree.
LEMON: Go ahead.
TOOBIN: I think Sherman is right.
I think it's unconscionable that the Washington football team is called what it is called. It's a bigoted term. It's not something that is accepted to use in polite or impolite company. And the fact that the NFL has not cracked down on Dan Snyder, who is, by the way, nearly as awful an owner as Don Sterling, I think is a disgrace.
LEMON: OK. So, I understand what you're saying. But if someone -- let's just say the same situation, and it was an NFL owner, you don't think that Roger Goodell would move to get rid of him?
TOOBIN: It's very hard to -- if he said precisely the same thing in precisely the same way, probably. But the NFL is a very conservative league in every sense of the word.
LEMON: OK. Let's move on now.
Ken, could Adam Silver's ruling and the way that owners come down influence other sports leagues, do you think, like the NFL?
SHROPSHIRE: Well, I think so.
The public reaction, the way that there was this great support for the move and the way that people were in some ways shocked that he moved so aggressively against Sterling, I think it's a watershed movement in terms of seeing how sport can have a greater influence on society and how accepted it will be.
And that's why I think on this Redskins issue, this is a good moment for Goodell to really step back and think about, there's not going to be the negative reaction he might anticipate there could be. There's going to be a groundswell of support if that action is ever taken, which I think it should be.
HOSTIN: And I agree. I think this is a seminal moment. I think that it's widespread -- it has widespread implications.
LEMON: What about league precedents, though? Because everyone is going to be looking at this.
HOSTIN: Well, I think that's a little bit different, because we do have this NBA constitution that was always sort of under seal and now we know a little bit more about it.
So I don't think so in that respect, but I think it definitely sort of opens up this discussion about race, not only in sports, but just all over the country again and again and again. We're seeing that there are people that don't perceive themselves as being racist, but certainly have racial bias. And I think that is the discussion that we're going to see over and over and over again now. (CROSSTALK)
MAXWELL: Mark Cuban made a great, great statement, the Mavericks' owner, when he said, this is a slippery slope, and for everybody in everything you do right now.
I think it's going to take on the agenda in all sports, basketball, football, baseball. I'm not sure if anybody right now is immune to what could come out eventually in a tape.
HOSTIN: That's right.
TOOBIN: But you know what? But that's good. That's good. That's not bad.
Mark Cuban made it sound like, oh, Big Brother is watching you.
TOOBIN: If we live in a society where it is so socially unacceptable to say, don't bring black people to my games, that's a society I want to live in.
HOSTIN: I agree.
LEMON: You want to live in a polite society where people like Judge Hatchett raise their hand.
LEMON: Go ahead, Judge.
HATCHETT: Oh, no, I was going to point my finger and then I remembered I shouldn't point my finger. That's what that was about.
But let me just say to you that I think that it changes the conversation, hopefully, in this country and I hope that it will change the level of sensitivity. Now, I had issues with Mark's comments about the slippery slope, because I didn't see that as necessarily being positive, so much as I thought it was concern about, well, we're just going to have to do some CYA here.
And that's not what this is about here. This is about some openness and transparency and honest discussions about...
HOSTIN: And what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.
HATCHETT: Right. LEMON: Here's what I have noticed throughout this whole process. The people that need to hear this conversation the most are the people who are most adverse to hearing it.
LEMON: Like Donald Sterling, like people, you have been on social media, who call you racist just for talking about this.
HOSTIN: Right. Right. It's interesting that I become the racist and the race baiter for talking about race. It's pretty remarkable.
LEMON: So, how do you -- what do you do? If people don't want to talk about it, that people don't want to change. They can't see their own racism.
HOSTIN: And you have to talk about it.
But I do think people don't see their own racism. I really believe, I really believe that Donald Sterling does not believe he is a racist. I have never met anyone who is a racist who agrees that they are a racist.
HATCHETT: I have.
LEMON: But, see, here's the thing, though, when people say -- yes.
But I have -- here's the thing. Throughout this whole process in every story that I do on race, I check myself. I reexamine myself and I say, maybe I do have some biases.
I don't think that everyone else does that. I think people immediately jump to the conclusion and say, I'm not racist. I'm not biased. And so I figure, well, maybe I'm not, because every time I do a story, every time someone says something to me on Twitter, if I do happen to read it, I will go, I wonder, and I will check myself. And then sometimes I go...
LEMON: ... maybe I need to work on that or maybe I don't.
MAXWELL: But, Don, don't you think everybody is biased, though?
LEMON: Of course everyone in biased.
MAXWELL: And the more we look at it and the way the information was gathered, we're not letting off Sterling at all, but also people are also talking about the way this information was gathered.
If I brought a tape to you, and I had a tape recorder while you and I were talking, and then I put that conversation out there, how upset would you be?
LEMON: Well, I don't think...
HOSTIN: I'm not troubled by that.
LEMON: I'm not because I would never say that. I would never say that.
HOSTIN: Yes, I'm not troubled by that.
HOSTIN: Everyone is sort of talking about that piece, that it was surreptitiously recorded. Who cares? He hasn't disavowed. He hasn't said that those are not his views.
LEMON: I had a conversation with some -- that got very heated on television today. And someone called me and said, that guy is racist or whatever. And I said, no, he's not. Don't say that. But most -- many people -- so I would never have a conversation like that.
LEMON: So I would not ever be in my life, 100 percent, would never be worried about a conversation.
HATCHETT: And we have to be careful how we use the word racism and racist, that we not just do this broad brush of people. And we have got to be really more responsible.
LEMON: Right. Amen.
HATCHETT: ... in those conversations.
LEMON: Hold that thought.
When we come right back, my expert panel weighs in on your questions. They will answer them for you.
LEMON: So everyone seems to have an opinion as to how the NBA should deal with Donald Sterling. Now my experts will answer your questions. All right, so this is our lightning round of questions. All right? We have a lot of tweets now from viewers about Donald Sterling, the case.
Jeffrey, this one is for you. OK? And this is from Chad. I think that's the first one we're going to do. Yes, that's it.
Chad says, "If you have to try and prove black people like you, you're probably racist, Donald Sterling."
TOOBIN: Good point.
LEMON: That's your answer?
TOOBIN: I think he's right.
LEMON: OK. All right. That's easy. I like it when you're quick like that.
Sunny, a lot of questions about Shelly Sterling's future role. "If the wife gets to run the Clippers, it will just be the same as if Donald Sterling was still running the team."
He still gets to profit from it.
HOSTIN: Yes, that's absolutely true because of how...
LEMON: And her misdeeds, will that come in?
HOSTIN: I think so. I think that will be brought up.
What is interesting to me while she's 50 percent owner, she's indicated that she wants to be a passive owner, that she's not going to have any operating duties, she's not going to deal with day-to-day management. But she still wants to retain ownership.
And absolutely true, even if she owns only 50 percent, that means, in California community property, Donald Sterling still owns 25 percent.
LEMON: Judge, isn't it a case to be made that a spouse should not be held accountable for the comments or the misdeeds of their partner?
HATCHETT: And I don't argue with that, Don.
But, basically, this is an elite club and they can decide who they want in the club is my position. And so if they decide that all of them have to go, they can fight, scream, holler, fight in court, but ultimately I think that she's going to be gone.
Ken, we have this tweet and it says, "Everybody has the right to be racist. However, they must be prepared to face the consequences of that racism." What do you know about how the NBA owners and where they're going to apply those consequences?
SHROPSHIRE: In terms of?
LEMON: What do you know how they are going to apply those consequences?
SHROPSHIRE: Well, by saying this is not somebody that we want to be associated with.
This whole idea of free speech and being able to say what you want to say, that's against a governmental entity, on college campuses, that's OK. But in terms of a business partnership and the consequence of racist language can be, we don't want to be your partner anymore.
LEMON: And meaning, how soon will it happen? Will it be unanimous? Do you know anything about that?
SHROPSHIRE: Well, I think Adam Silver was appropriate in saying he's going to give take the right court and he's going to him due process and that sort of thing.
But what you don't want to do is have your actions fall apart. I mean, in the end, my view is, of course, Sterling wants to hold on to the franchise, but, ultimately, too, all of this play has to do about money as well to make sure that he gets the full value if it does go south.
HOSTIN: But, Ken, I just have a quick question. Is the vote going to be transparent? Will we know who voted for what?
TOOBIN: You know what?
SHROPSHIRE: I don't think we know that yet.
TOOBIN: We don't know that because -- but I bet you anything it's going to be unanimous, so you will know how everybody voted.
Adam Silver has bet his commissionership on keeping these owners together on this issue. There's no owner who has come out publicly for Sterling. I think, at least as far as Don Sterling is concerned, it will be unanimous.
LEMON: Ken, why are you shaking your head? You are disagreeing?
SHROPSHIRE: No, no, I'm agreeing.
LEMON: OK. OK.
SHROPSHIRE: There's a great Supreme Court case involving Muhammad Ali where the same sort of issue came up. All the justices didn't believe.
But nobody wanted to be the justice that said, I'm a racist and I'm going to vote against Ali. So, you get a unanimous opinion in these kind of settings, when race is in play.
LEMON: All right.
HATCHETT: And I would suggest to you, if it's not unanimous, we will never know who the players -- who the owners were who didn't vote to support this. They seal that. That's my guess.
SHROPSHIRE: There's no way. There's no way.
TOOBIN: It's journalists -- journalists will know in 10 minutes who...
SHROPSHIRE: That's right.
HATCHETT: Well, I'm just saying the NBA will not put it out.
TOOBIN: They won't put it out. We will know.
HATCHETT: So everybody will vote then.
LEMON: Go ahead, Cedric. What were you saying?
MAXWELL: No, no, I totally agree. I think it's going to be transparent. Because if anybody lines up right now with Donald Sterling as an owner, that's political suicide.
MAXWELL: You can't do that. And if the vote is one person goes the other way, it will be a matter of seconds before somebody else is going to know it.
MAXWELL: And it's all over the world about who made the vote and which way they went.
LEMON: OK, I'm raising my hand, because I have a question. So with Sunny, when Sunny and I were talking about it, someone tweeted and said, "Isn't there a mob mentality surrounding -- don't you think there's a mob mentality surrounding this case?" What do you think?
HOSTIN: I think it's interesting, because it's very easy to get onto -- inside of the outrage bubble. LEMON: OK.
HOSTIN: And people are outraged, and no one wants to be on the other side. But if you look at our poll, it is very clear that 50 percent believe that you can't -- that you shouldn't be able to take someone's property because of their views. So I think we're not necessarily hearing from those people that feel that way.
LEMON: All right. Thanks, everyone. Jeff, Sunny, Judge Glenda, stay with me.
Coming up, it was 20 years ago that O.J. Simpson was charged with killing his ex-wife and her friend. Now an article in "Vanity Fair" claims his murder trial changed America; it created the phenomenon of reality TV. We're going to talk about it next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "... the children and then I will surrender," so that is also a point for speculation, too.
ERIC SPILLMAN, KTLA: It's hard to say what in the world is on his mind at this point.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right.
SPILLMAN: But he is getting very close to Rockingham. We're getting very close. He's going to be making that turn very soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Boy does that bring back memories like it was yesterday. Was this, though -- this is a question. Was this the original spectacle of the birth of reality TV?
Twenty years ago, June 1994, white Ford Bronco, three police cars and TV news helicopters. A friend of O.J. Simpson drives while Simpson himself, a fugitive from the law, sits in the back with a gun to his head.
The slow-speed chase ends at his house. Remember, it was on Rockingham.
O.J. Simpson was arrested and booked on charges of murdering his ex- wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.
O.J.'s subsequent trial not only captivated the nation but, according to an article in "Vanity Fair's" June issue, killed popular culture and replaced it with reality TV. So let's talk about it now with Steve Battaglio, business editor at "TV Guide"; Judge Larry Seidlin, who presided over part of the Anna Nicole Smith case; and back with me is Judge Glenda Hatchett; Jeffrey Toobin, who's the author of "The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson"; and Sunny Hostin.
Jeffrey, is there anything you have not written about?
TOOBIN: Just boring things. I write about all the interesting things.
LEMON: My goodness. We'll get to that. Let's go to -- let's go now to the "Vanity Fair." They've written an article in the June -- it's called, "It Began" -- "It All Began with O.J. and the Bronco Chase."
Ok. So here's what it says: "It had a narrative sense that was second to none opening, bam, a climax, a literal cut to the chase, an SUV burning rubber on the Santa Ana Freeway. It was a bona fide phenomenon, a national obsession. Ninety-five million Americans had tuned in to some portion of the chase. By comparison, a mere 90 million had tuned into that year's Super Bowl. Though nobody knew at the time out of that horrifying crime something new was born or maybe spawned is a better word: reality TV."
LEMON: Take us back to that moment. Was it the birth of reality TV, Miss Hostin?
HOSTIN: I think so. No question about it. I mean, who can't remember where they were when they saw the Bronco? I was eating dinner out in the East Village. Who can't remember where they were when the verdict came back. I was in a law office in a conference room. Everyone remembers it.
LEMON: I remember I was watching -- watching with -- I was working in a newsroom, and we were doing the noon show, right? And so we had left, and usually the anchor in the afternoon would come and we'd maybe have a cocktail or two and ten we'd go home and go about our business.
We kept waiting for the anchor. She never showed up. And because he was missing, and then she finally came -- where -- he ran. We said, "Where is he?"
"We don't know. Nobody knows."
Went back to the station and then all of a sudden the Bronco shows up on television, and there's the chase and we get to work, and we carried it live.
HOSTIN: It had everything. Everyone became a star.
LEMON: Yes. Jeffrey, you literally wrote the book about the O.J. celebrity. The trial happened before -- the trials that happened before. Every new big trial is called the trial of the century.
TOOBIN: But they never are. The world was so different then. I mean, you know, there was no Internet. There was no e-mail. There were two cable stations that showed the O.J. case. There was CNN, and there was Court TV, which doesn't exist in that form anymore.
What about FOX News? Didn't exist. What about MSNBC, didn't exist. I mean, the media world was much smaller. And so when you had one thing capture people's imaginations, there was no -- there were no other choices out there.
LEMON: Jeffrey, we killed all of our programming -- I worked for a FOX station, right, FOX ONO (ph) station right here in New York. We killed all of our dayside programming. We cared it all day. We had panel shows. We started a show called "O.J. Today".
HOSTIN: Of course.
LEMON: And it was just like this, sitting around with a panel show. We covered the trial. We covered the pre-motion. We covered what people were talking about, the news in L.A. covering it.
HOSTIN: It had everything. It was like a soap opera. It had celebrity.
HOSTIN: It had sports. It had lawyers. It had love. It had lust. It had murder.
HOSTIN: It was better than anything that was scripted on television.
LEMON: And judge you had a show coming out of this. One thing every reality TV show has, it has to have a good cast. And the "Vanity Fair" article makes the point that you could not cast a better group than this trial had. A former football star, his beautiful wife, the steely prosecutor, Marcia Clark; the flamboyant defense attorney, Johnnie Cochran...
HOSTIN: And everyone was good-looking.
LEMON: ... Larry Furman; Kato Kaolin, Judge Seidlin and on and on and on. A director could not have cast this any better.
HATCHETT: I absolutely agree. I mean, this is so -- you could not have come up with this. And I do agree. Sunny, I know exactly where I was when that chase.
HATCHETT: I was at a reception and everybody stopped at the reception and sat there watching this, you know, wondering whether he was going to kill himself. There was a gun to his head. And so we all got caught up in it.
And you know, just gavel-to-gavel coverage in a way that the public has never seen before. And so not only, you know, does Jeffrey have this great book, but then you have a lot of careers that came out of this. I mean, think about people who were doing commentary for this trial who then went on to have television shows. I mean, it was really an interesting time for us. TOOBIN: Here at CNN, play-by-play was by Greta Van Susteren, now famous on FOX. And my great friend Roger Cossack, who is still doing commentary for ESPN and was at CNN for a while.
LEMON: I think Star Jones became famous out of this.
HOSTIN: Star Jones.
LEMON: I remember working with Katie Couric's late husband, Jay Monahan, as well.
STEVE BATTAGLIO, BUSINESS EDITOR, "TV GUIDE": I think we're -- I think we're trivializing this a little bit by saying it's the beginning of reality television.
LEMON: Go ahead.
BATTAGLIO: This trial -- and Jeffrey touched on it -- this trial really had -- the coverage of the trial had a far greater impact on the media culture, certainly in television news than entertainment.
I mean, in the mid-1990s, broadcast network news was still dominant. CNN was still growing and there was a real debate inside news divisions about how much they should cover this story because of its tawdry nature.
"The NBC Nightly News" with Tom Brokaw was in third place. It was the third-place evening newscast. They started covering O.J. more than anyone else, and the program shot to No. 1. The other two shows had to follow it. There were about ten hours of news magazine programs on broadcast networks.
LEMON: Let me tell you, I know this, because I know it, "In Depth" on "NBC Nightly News" was started because of the O.J. Simpson trial. We're going to go in depth, which really, they would go back on the show. They'd do it as a lead and they'd say, "Then a little bit later, we'll go in depth on blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." That was really so that they could go back and get more.
BATTAGLIO: It really made tabloid culture a part of network news, which was still pretty buttoned up at that time.
LEMON: Can he read this, Steve, because I want you to weigh in on this. They weren't too happy about the soap operas being canceled. I mentioned that we canceled all of our dayside programming when I worked at the station.
It says, "When it began, all the networks were getting these hate mail letters because people's soap operas were being interrupted for the Simpson trial, but then what happened was the people who liked soap operas got addicted to the Simpson trial and they got really upset when the Simpson trial was over." And people would come up to me on the street and say, "God, I loved your show." Right. That was Marcia Clark. That was a quote from Marcia Clark.
BATTAGLIO: Well, you know, there was a joke that used to go around the TV industry that, you know, O.J. was found not guilty of killing his wife, but he was guilty of killing the daytime television market. Soap operas never recovered from that interruption. It broke the habit for a lot of viewers for a long time, and the ratings started going down. There were ten then. Now there are four.
HOSTIN: You know what strikes me, though, about the verdict? The way it sort of broke down on racial lines. It's still shocking to me that, when I was actually at a law firm...
LEMON: Can you hold that?
LEMON: Because I want to wait to talk about the verdict.
LEMON: Because that's a moment for everyone.
HOSTIN: Yes. It's remarkable.
LEMON: And I want to poll the folks here. Because I want to talk about the trial. OK, Sunny?
And Jeffrey, every reality show has a moment that goes viral in addition to the Bronco chase. It would have to be the glove. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He seems to be having a problem putting the glove on his hand.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Objection.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sustained.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And Jeffrey...
TOOBIN: Oh, God.
LEMON: ... what's the statement that goes with that? If it what...
TOOBIN: If it doesn't fit, you must acquit.
LEMON: You must acquit.
TOOBIN: Absolutely. But it was such a great courtroom...
LEMON: Did that wipe out basically the testimony, though, before? Everything that happened before? Go ahead.
LEMON: Did that wipe out -- basically wipe out the testimony before?
TOOBIN: Well, I don't know. I mean, when you look back, the prosecution lost this case in jury selection. So it was all done by that point.
TOOBIN: But the -- it was such a great courtroom moment, because you could see Chris Darden, who was the prosecutor, thinking about "Should I ask him to put on the glove?" And you have the experienced trial lawyers saying to themselves, don't do it, don't do it, don't do it and then it happened.
LEMON: I remember that.
HOSTIN: I thought it fit pretty well. I've got to tell you, I looked at it and I thought, it kind of fits.
LEMON: I was in the control room and everybody was like "Ooh, here we go."
LEMON: Quickly, quickly.
HATCHETT: ... he has on these gloves underneath it and you have to wonder whether that kept it from coming up.
HOSTIN: Yes. It fit.
LEMON: Not according to Johnnie Cochran. Because if it didn't fit...
HATCHETT: Not according to Johnnie Cochran. You're right.
LEMON: ... you had to acquit.
HATCHETT: If it doesn't -- yes.
LEMON: All right. Everyone, stay right there. When we come right back, the reading of the verdict. The O.J. trial. That was the ultimate reality TV. Was it? We're going to talk about that next.
LEMON: OK, everybody, I want you to watch this. All right? O.J. Simpson's murder trial made for a blockbuster television viewing. In the moment the verdict was read, tens of millions were tuned in. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the matter of the people of the state of California versus Orenthal J. Simpson, case No. BA-097211, we the jury in the above entitled action find the defendant, Orenthal J. Simpson, not guilty of the crime of murder in violation of penal code section 187-A, a felony upon Nicole Brown Simpson, a human being, as charged in count one of the information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: We, the jury, in the above-entitled action. Every time there's a trial in L.A., you remember that, and it brings you back to that trial.
I think everyone can remember where they were when that verdict came down. An estimated 150 million people watched it live. Unfathomable.
Jeff, you were in the courtroom.
TOOBIN: I sure was.
LEMON: We have video of you in the courtroom. What did people think of the impact at the time? There you are sitting with the glasses right there, a blue suit, right behind the family, next to the lady in white. There's Jeffrey Toobin right there in the courtroom. What about the impact here?
TOOBIN: Well, I mean, you have to remember the setting. They -- the jury came back in one day.
TOOBIN: After all that testimony, months and months of testimony, the jury didn't even deliberate for a single day. And continuing my string of great predictions, which has continued to this day, I went on all sorts of TV saying, well, that means they obviously found him guilty.
TOOBIN: So I was as shocked as anybody. And you know, to this day -- let me put my cards on the table -- I think he's completely guilty. But the stunning nature of the verdict was even made exacerbated by the fact that jury was out for such a short time.
LEMON: Yes. Steve, I want to ask you. You had such profound things to say about how this changed television news. What about the verdict and the way -- and coverage of television trials. What about the impact after that? After the reading of this verdict?
BATTAGLIO: Well, that verdict became sort of a defining moment for the country to start a whole national conversation about race. A lot of the news footage that you saw of that day, you saw people sitting in bars, sitting in restaurants. If they were in minority neighborhoods, they were cheering. There was outrage, if you saw the people watching it in a white country club. I mean, it was just a mirror of all these things that were simmering in the country.
JUDGE LARRY SEIDLIN, PRESIDED OVER ANNA NICOLE SMITH TRIAL: Don...
BATTAGLIO: And it ignited that discussion. LEMON: Go ahead, Judge.
HATCHETT: Well, I don't...
HATCHETT: I'm sorry.
SEIDLIN: What a trial does -- what a trial does, it captures the geographic area of the country and to it also captures the moods of people. Their state of mind. How they feel about race and religion. That's what a trial does. It's reality.
LEMON: And this has done that. This verdict definitely did that, Judge.
SEIDLIN: Yes. Yes. But what we don't talk about the jury is the D.A. in L.A. was up for election. And he didn't try the case where the killing took place. He went into a different area to make sure he'd get re-elected. And no one talks about that. He wanted to get re-elected. And that's why the trial should have been in Brentwood. That's where the jury pool should have been. That's never mentioned.
BATTAGLIO: You know, the coverage of the trial -- the coverage of the trial did sort of create this infrastructure where you have, all of a sudden you have all of these legal experts, as you mentioned earlier, who were well-known to the television public. People were used to -- were getting used to the idea of watching cameras in the courtroom, even though visually it's not too spectacular. But it beats, you know, sketches and reporting. It was in the moment. And from that point on...
LEMON: Steve, you just stole my question to Judge Seidlin.
BATTAGLIO: Excuse me?
LEMON: You just stole my question to Judge Seidlin. With the cameras in the courtroom. Judge, I was going to ask you about cameras in the courtroom, some of the other big trials after this. This really impacted that, as Steve was saying.
SEIDLIN: I like having these cameras in a courtroom. Because you now get to see what's happening behind the curtain.
LEMON: Right. Because behind the curtain, we saw you crying in the courtroom because of those cameras during the Anna Nicole Smith trial.
SEIDLIN: Yes. And what it is, is when you put on a black robe, you don't remove your emotion.
I was like a short-order cook in a New York restaurant. I was trying to decide where Dannielynn, who was going to take care of her the rest of her life.
I also had a potential manslaughter going on. And then the key issue at that moment was also to decide where to bury Anna Nicole. So many things were going on.
TOOBIN: You know what, Don?
SEIDLIN: It was emotionally exhausting.
LEMON: Jeffrey and then Sunny.
SEIDLIN: And I think at the end of the trial, when I announced my verdict, I guess all my emotion just spilled right out of there.
LEMON: Yes. And we saw it. We all saw it because of those cameras. Quickly Jeffrey.
TOOBIN: And it was weird. The...
LEMON: Wait. Expand on that. What do you mean, it was weird?
TOOBIN: It was weird watching the judge cry, I'm telling you. I'm sorry. I just thought it was weird. But you know, he's a human being.
But anyway, the point I wanted to make was the momentum for cameras in the courtroom, which had been building before O.J., stopped on a dime. Judges didn't want to be embarrassed like Lance Ito was. And to this day, there are not cameras in the courtroom in most states, and it's largely because of the O.J. case. And I think that's too bad.
HOSTIN: Jeff said exactly what I was going to say. I mean, it's like we got to sort of pull the curtain back, but people, I think, were uncomfortable with the exposure.
TOOBIN: Well, the judges -- the judges were uncomfortable.
LEMON: What was the bit -- there a big televised trial. What was her name, the one that got off?
HOSTIN: Casey Anthony.
LEMON: Casey Anthony. Casey Anthony got off.
HOSTIN: Casey Anthony. And I think that was the next big one. But what is interesting, also, for me about the O.J. Simpson case, is I'm interviewing Kim Goldman tomorrow, and when I spoke to her this week, it was as if it just happened. And I think you can see, from our panel and from you, it's almost as if it just happened, and it's been 20 years.
LEMON: Especially when you look at the video. It brings you back. And you hear the sound bites.
Up next, we're going to read some of the answers to some of your tweets.
LEMON: In our final moments, we're going to look at some of your tweets. Steve, I just got this one in, and it's from Julian, and he says, "Remember" -- to Sunny and Don, it says, "Remember, without the O.J. trial, you would not have The Kardashians today!"
HOSTIN: People forget that.
BATTAGLIO: Yes, well, I have kind of mixed feelings about that.
LEMON: Go on.
BATTAGLIO: But look, reality television would have happened anyway. There were a lot of things going on in the TV business at the time. You had cable. You had a desire for -- you needed a desire and you had a demand for low-cost programming. And you had a new celebrity culture that made it easy to turn people into stars.
And so, it's -- there are a lot of factors here. I don't think it was just this that sort of lit the fuse for it.
LEMON: Judge Seidlin.
SEIDLIN: But it's more -- it's more than reality TV. The American public, they love -- they love the justice system. And now they're finally seeing, are we getting justice? Is there a fair balance of justice? Or is it what the textbooks say and reality, it's not occurring?
Because we've seen a lot of high-profile trials where the defendant was either found guilty or not guilty based on race or some other bias or prejudice.
LEMON: Right. Right.
Well, thank you, Sunny Hostin, always appreciate it. Sunny Hostin in the hot seat tonight.
Jeffrey Toobin, of course, we saw his young self there in the courtroom 20 years ago. Steve Battaglio, Judge Larry Seidlin and Judge Glenda Hatchett, of course.
I'm Don Lemon. Thanks for watching. "AC 360" starts right now.