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Imus Comeback?; Toxic Toys; Imus Outrage; Tropical Trouble

Aired August 14, 2007 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. Just four months ago, Don Imus was a pariah in many Americans' eyes. Tonight, he is one step closer to a comeback and a big paycheck. Today, we learned the radio talk show host has reached a settlement with CBS, his former employer. The deal clears the way for Imus to take a new job. He may need it.
Today, one of the college basketball players he insulted filed a lawsuit against him. We will talk with her attorney in a moment. And we're going to take your calls later in the hour.

Plus, the latest on the major storm that is hurdling toward the big island of Hawaii. Hurricane Flossie is bearing down. The island is now under a state of emergency. We will take you there live.

And new pictures from deep inside the Utah mine where six miners are trapped. The video shows what rescue workers are up against as the grueling search, now in its ninth day, continues.

We begin with Don Imus and the deal that makes him a free agent and tens of millions of dollars richer. Sources confirmed to us that CBS has agreed to pay Don Imus $20 million. Why so much? Well, because, when CBS fired him, Imus had $40 million remaining on a multiyear contract.

Until today's deal, he had been threatening CBS with a $120 million breach of contract lawsuit, and he had a strong case. His contract included a clause saying CBS wanted him to be irreverent and controversial. And, as we all know by now, he certainly was.

Also today, another development, another lawsuit. There is late word tonight a member of the Rutgers University basketball team is suing Imus for defamation of character. That is her. The lawsuit on behalf of Kia Vaughn was filed today. In just a moment, we will talk exclusively to her attorney.

But first, a look back at the comments that started all of this.


COOPER (voice-over): It all began with what seemed like an offhanded and off-color comment by Don Imus against a most unlikely target, the Rutgers University women's basketball team.


DON IMUS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos and some hard-core hos. That's some nappy- headed hos there, I'm going to tell you that now.


COOPER: That was April 4. It became the cheap shot heard around the world, as civil rights leaders took to the television screen to call for Imus' head.

REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Don Imus should be fired and taken off the airwaves.

REV. JESSE JACKSON, FOUNDER, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: We want to challenge NBC and MSNBC to make a -- choose, us or Imus.

COOPER: CBS Radio, which broadcast "Imus in the Morning" and MSNBC, the NBC-owned cable channel that simulcast the show, were faced with a dilemma, how to punish the highly rated, if highly controversial, host who had clearly crossed the line. CBS suspended him for two weeks without pay. Imus apologized repeatedly for his racist remarks.


IMUS: I'm sorry I did that. I'm embarrassed that I did that. I did a bad thing.


COOPER: He even agreed to meet with the Rutgers's women and apologize in person, but it was too late for the embattled deejay.

NBC was the first to fall, removing Imus' show from their schedule on April 11. The next day, CBS followed, canceling "Imus in the Morning" and his $10-million-a-year contract.


COOPER: And we don't take sides on 360. That's not our job. But a lot of people have very strong opinions about Don Imus and whether he should be on radio again.

Joining me now are CNN Contributor and Radio Host Roland Martin, Radio Host and Author Michael Medved, and Court TV Anchor Lisa Bloom.

Appreciate all of you being with us.

Lisa, first of all, let's start with you.

Twenty million dollars, on the face of it, sounds like a lot for a settlement with CBS. But when you think about the potential they could have lost, Don Imus had a good very case.

LISA BLOOM, COURT TV ANCHOR: Well, here's the key. His contract said that he was supposed to make controversial, provocative statements. That's what he did as a radio talk show host. It was smart of him and his agents to put that in his contract. And they were probably in breach, CBS and MSNBC were, for firing him for doing exactly what he was supposed to do under the contract.

COOPER: But he had like $40 million left on his contract.

BLOOM: Right. Right.

COOPER: Why settle for $20 million?

BLOOM: Well, I guess they decided to split the baby. He wanted $120 million. So, I guess the parties -- you know what they say? A bad settlement is better than a good litigation. Everybody wanted to move on. They agreed on $20 million.

COOPER: Michael, should Don Imus be on the radio again?

MICHAEL MEDVED, SYNDICATED RADIO HOST: Well, if I were running a radio station -- I'm not a particular fan of the Don Imus show, but I don't think that this whole idea of making one ridiculous, disgusting off-color comment ruining a guy's entire career and his ability to earn a living, I don't think that's fair at all.

I mean, if some program director decides that I want a show like the Don Imus show, I don't think the fact that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have been indignant in the past should stop them from hiring him.


A couple of things, OK? This was not a one-time incident. It's not as if Don Imus made one comment and it's being blown out of proportion.

Michael, secondly, it was the National Association of Black Journalists that led the fight. So, it's very cute to all of a sudden say, well, it was Sharpton and Jackson.


COOPER: Well, they started it off. But it was -- it did end up being Sharpton on the TV a lot.


MARTIN: No, no, no. They started it off, but they were on television.

Sharpton gives credit to them. Plus, they met with NBC and CBS. And so again, it's always interesting how you want to twist it by saying, well, it's Sharpton and Jackson.

The point is, Don Imus consistently made offensive comments. That's why he was fired, not a isolated, one-time incident.

COOPER: Do you think he should be allowed on the radio again?

MARTIN: Well, there's no surprise they're going to put him back on the air. I said on this show previously they were going to settle; he's going to come back on the radio.

But he is going to be the most watched man on radio. And trust me, I'm quite sure, whoever hires them, they're going to make sure that -- they're going to have some kind of language where he's not going to offend someone, because trust me, they're going to go after the advertiser of that station. And that's where the real issue is going to be.

CBS was smart to give him $20 million, because they could have lost $100 million by going after the other advertisers.

COOPER: Michael?

MEDVED: OK. My entire point is, how can you say you're not going to offend anyone doing a radio show? I do a radio show every day. I offend people every day. It's a given. It comes with the territory.


MEDVED: The question is, who is going to...

MARTIN: Well, Michael, did you didn't call folks nappy-headed hos?

MEDVED: God forbid.

The question is, who is going to draw the line? And it seems to me that this particular line -- clearly, Imus was wrong. He has said that he was wrong. He has acknowledged that he was wrong. Should this be the one crime, the one media crime for which there is no redemption in American journalism?

I mean, it just seems to me a bit absurd to hold Imus up, especially given the kind of material that is on the air every single day on satellite radio. To try to focus on Don Imus because he's on a slightly different medium seems unfair.

COOPER: Joining us right now on the phone is Richard Ancowitz, who is the attorney for Kia Vaughn, who has filed a lawsuit today against Don Imus.

Thanks for being with us, Richard.

What is your lawsuit basically alleging?

RICHARD ANCOWITZ, ATTORNEY FOR RUTGERS PLAYER: The lawsuit is basically alleging that my...

COOPER: Obviously, we just had a lost connection. We will try to get back in touch with Richard.

Your take on this lawsuit. I mean, this lawsuit is basically alleging defamation of character of Kia Vaughn.

BLOOM: That's right. That's right. I have read the lawsuit. I think it's a long shot, frankly. And the lawsuit essentially says that she should get damages, money damages, for the names that were called, the Rutgers women's basketball team, of which she is a member. I think it's a long shot.

COOPER: A long shot. I mean it's -- clearly, they're hoping to get some sort of financial settlement, don't you think?

BLOOM: Well, they are.


MARTIN: Hey, he got one.

BLOOM: But, you know, under the law you have to -- under the law you have to falsely make a statement of fact about somebody that holds them up in disrepute.

Did anybody really think that Imus was saying that these women were prostitutes when he called them nappy-headed hos? It's a disgusting, offensive, racist comment, but I don't think it's legally actionable.

COOPER: Michael, do you think the Don Imus who gets back on the radio -- because, I mean, it seems like there's very little doubt he will get another radio program somewhere -- do you he will be a different Don Imus?

MEDVED: To some extent, I think he will, particularly if he goes on to WABC, which is what people are reporting. WABC is a serious, politically-oriented station. Don Imus can do that kind of show. I think he could do that kind of show very well.

I happen to believe that this lawsuit by the Rutgers women's basketball team, or one member of the team, actually could be a blessing in disguise for Don Imus. If he went forward and offered some kind of settlement, not billions of dollars, but a generous settlement to every one of those young women, that might be a way of creating a certain amount of goodwill, detoxifying this entire thing, and allowing him to go on with his career.

COOPER: We are joined now by Richard Ancowitz. Actually, we have -- the satellite link-up is now working, so he's actually joining us on television.

Richard, it's good to actually see you in person.

You're claiming defamation of character of Kia Vaughn. In what way? What are you -- what are you saying Don Imus' comments did to her?

ANCOWITZ: His -- he had impugned the chastity of my client and otherwise defamed her reputation. It's really that simple.

COOPER: But to say defamation of character, don't you have to basically prove that people -- I mean, it was a satirical comment, offensive, yes, but do you really think he was -- that people believed your client -- that he meant your client was a whore?

ANCOWITZ: I don't see this as a satirical comment.

Imus is an important media figure. He's a serious and respected individual. He has Senators, governors, presidents of -- intellectuals, authors, all kinds of serious people on his show. And he's a serious person who I believe people take seriously.

COOPER: So, do you -- you believe he was really saying that your client and others on the basketball team were prostitutes?

ANCOWITZ: His words speak for themselves.

COOPER: Lisa, what about that?

BLOOM: Yes, I think -- but, you know, look at the context, not just Imus, but his sidekicks. They seemed to be saying that the women were ugly, that they were manly, that they were, like Grizzlies, which is a male sports team.

I don't think anybody takes the phrase nappy-headed hos to mean that they were actually prostitutes. That's the weakness of the lawsuit.

COOPER: Richard, do you -- I mean, do you really believe this is going to see the inside of a courtroom, or are you hoping for some sort of settlement for your client and/or for the whole basketball team?

ANCOWITZ: I would hope that this sees the inside of a courtroom, and my client hopes that, as well, because she would like to have her good name cleared.

This is not something that she ever asked for. She never asked to be involved in this. She would be very happy if her life was as it existed before April 4 of this year. But unfortunately, that can't be done. She's just looking to get her good name back.

COOPER: How has her good name been ruined? There was certainly a lot of sympathy for the team in the wake of this.

ANCOWITZ: Millions of people heard what Mr. Imus and Mr. McGuirk said. I think the words speak for themselves.

COOPER: Was your lawsuit, which was filed today, timed to the announcement of the settlement with CBS? Did you have this ready to go and then just launch it?

ANCOWITZ: No, it's purely a coincidence. I spent weeks drafting this 49-page complaint and finished it yesterday, and it was ready to go today.

COOPER: Have you approached Don Imus or his representatives to talk about some sort of a settlement?

ANCOWITZ: Not at all. COOPER: Do you plan to?

ANCOWITZ: Not at all.

COOPER: Are you...


ANCOWITZ: We will see them in court.

COOPER: Are you open to them approaching you?

ANCOWITZ: We'll see them in court. The litigation process will -- will -- will be effective in that regard.

COOPER: Roland, do you think -- it doesn't come as any surprise to you that Don Imus will be back on the radio. It doesn't surprise you that CBS settled?

MARTIN: No, it doesn't surprise me at all, because again, the contract was very clear. CBS stood to lose a lot more money than $20 million had they kept Don Imus.

Remember, CBS is the number-one network in entertainment. And so, therefore, you know, Les Moonves did not act on Don Imus. Those who were protesting were. They're going to go after those shows. So, Les Moonves said, wait a minute. I have got to cut my ties as quickly as I can, because I do not want to cause any further damage to the network.

Plus, you also had the CBS board of directors who also was going to weigh in. I mean, again, you had a board member, former head of the NAACP, who also was saying, wait a minute, you must act on this. He had no choice but to cut Don Imus loose.

COOPER: Richard, are you -- did you approach Kia Vaughn? Did she approach you to represent her?

ANCOWITZ: I was asked to represent her. And I accepted.

COOPER: How long have you been representing her?

ANCOWITZ: The past several weeks or so.

One thing I would like to mention, very often in this business, and in other businesses, you hear the phrase, it's not about the money. Well, in this case, it kind of is about the money.


ANCOWITZ: Kia would like to set up a scholarship fund that would share research and study of the issue of bad speech, of foul speech, of evil and malevolent speech in society, especially racist and misogynistic and sexist speech.

(CROSSTALK) ANCOWITZ: And that's what we intend to do.

COOPER: Have you put a dollar sign on it? I mean, I didn't see it in the filing.

ANCOWITZ: No, there's no dollar sign in complaints in New York.

MARTIN: How about $20 million?

COOPER: Well, does she -- does she -- does she also want something for herself, or would she be happy with something that is -- you know, sets up this scholarship that you talked about?

ANCOWITZ: Remains to be seen, but -- but she wants to do the right thing very much.

COOPER: What is she currently doing?

ANCOWITZ: She is in the middle of taking finals, actually, in -- for her classes in the summer.

COOPER: And what was her reaction to this $20 million settlement with CBS?

ANCOWITZ: We didn't discuss it. It just happened, apparently.

COOPER: Richard, we appreciate you being on the program -- Richard Ancowitz, who is the attorney for -- for Kia Vaughn, filing this lawsuit today.

Lisa, where do you think this is going to go? I mean...



One interesting point about this lawsuit is, it's not just against, of course, Imus, but CBS and MSNBC, for not having or not using a kill switch. That's a pretty common thing in radio. Somebody pushes the button and kills offensive speech, especially racist speech, defamatory speech. And the fact that it wasn't done in this case is a good point, I think, for the plaintiffs.

And I wonder if this will lead to the use of the kill switch in the future.

COOPER: Roland.

MARTIN: Anderson, we also did not know how many previous times Imus was reprimanded by CBS for his comments.

BLOOM: If ever.

MARTIN: And, so, a lawsuit -- well, again, but a lawsuit could potentially bring that out. So, if CBS never reprimanded him, that could also help their case by saying, wait a minute. You guys allowed this guy to just keep doing it over and over and over again, without any repercussions.

COOPER: There's a lot...


MEDVED: You know, I -- this...

COOPER: Michael, go ahead.

MEDVED: This is one of those -- this is one of those things where this will, of course, never come to trial. The trial would be a circus almost beyond imagining, because of course, they would go on to trying to do the semiotics of what does it mean to be a nappy-headed ho.

And then you examine the personal lives of every single one of these basketball players to see if you conform to that. I mean, the entire thing -- I think, as Lisa said, is there malice aforethought here with Imus' stupid offhand remark? I think that's going to be very, very tough to prove.

They are going to settle, and it will actually help Imus, particularly if they establish some scholarship fund. It will help Imus go ahead with his career and be forgiven by mainstream America.

COOPER: I think we all agree there's going to be a settlement, and not going to actually see a trial.

There's a lot more to talk about this. Roland, Michael and Lisa are going to stick around.

And, in our next half-hour, in about -- well, about 15 minutes or so from now, they are going to answer your calls and e-mails.

Let us know what you think about this -- about this $20 million settlement. Is this justice? Is it right? Should Don Imus be back on the radio? Call us, toll free, 877-648-3639. Want to hear your opinion, 877-648-3639. Or go to Click on the instant feedback link. Send us an e-mail, why don't you?

So, Don Imus isn't certainly the first public figure to use offensive language that crosses a line. And if he makes a comeback, well, that won't be a first either.

Here's CNN's Gary Tuchman.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Spring 2007, ABC fires actor Isaiah Washington for allegedly making an anti- gay slur about a co-star on "Grey's Anatomy."

With his career crashing, it's time for CPR. Washington enters counseling, meets with gay and lesbian groups, even makes a PSA.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ISAIAH WASHINGTON, ACTOR: When you use words that demean a person because of their sexual orientation, race or gender, you send a message of hate.


TUCHMAN: The image first aid apparently worked. NBC recently signed Washington as a guest star for five episodes of its new prime- time series "The Bionic Woman," and may also give the actor his own action series.

Another survivor, Rush Limbaugh. He was forced to resign from ESPN because of his remarks about black quarterback Donovan McNabb. The outspoken radio host wasn't overly apologetic.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I offered an opinion. In my opinion, it was not a racial opinion. It was an opinion about the media.

TUCHMAN: He's also still on the airwaves.

It's unclear if actor Mel Gibson is still a lethal weapon or damaged goods. After his anti-Semitic tirade during a DUI arrest, Gibson apologized, blaming his rant on booze. He also entered rehab. Then he decided he had moved on.

MEL GIBSON, ACTOR: I move on. I have moved on.

TUCHMAN: His fans may have moved on as well. When "Apocalypto" premiered five months after the controversy, it made $51 million, just a fraction of the $371 million that "The Passion of the Christ" pulled in two years earlier.

For Michael Richards, this tape of his racist rant at a comedy club could be the last time we will see him on stage. The former "Seinfeld" star signed up for anger-management classes and said he was sorry.

MICHAEL RICHARDS, COMEDIAN: I'm sorry. I'm very, very sorry to the African-American community for -- for the upset.

TUCHMAN: But, sometimes, sorry isn't enough. Some words can kill a career. Jimmy "The Greek" was fired for offering his opinions on race in sports.

And then there's former Senator George Allen. Remember this from his failed reelection campaign?


SEN. GEORGE ALLEN (R), VIRGINIA: This fellow here, over here, with the yellow shirt, macaca (ph), or whatever his name is.


TUCHMAN: As for Richards, he recently told "The Los Angeles Times" he's quit comedy and is Cambodian with his fiancee, seeking spiritual healing.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Atlanta.


COOPER: Spiritual healing.

Well, a reminder. Coming up, we're taking your calls on the Don Imus settlement. Call us toll free, 877-648-3639. Or e-mail your questions to Roland or Lisa or Michael Medved by going to Click on the instant feedback link.

Plus, these stories ahead:


COOPER (voice-over): Toy trouble, millions of them recalled, all made in China. But just how exactly are they getting past American inspectors? We're "Keeping them Honest."

Plus, Dr. Sanjay Gupta on what to look for if your child's been exposed.

Also tonight, Hawaii takes a hit. Hurricane Flossie hammers the Big Island -- a live report coming up.

And we're tracking another storm in the Atlantic with Florida in its sights -- when 360 continues.



COOPER (on camera): Well, there is another massive recall from Mattel tonight affecting nine million more toys in America.

Most of the toys being recalled, like Polly Pocket dolls, contain small magnets that can be swallowed by children. Others have lead paint. All of them were made in China.

This is Mattel's second recall this month and the latest in a series of recalls of defective products that were made in China.

And here's what Mattel's CEO said today about this latest recall.


ROBERT ECKERT, CEO, MATTEL INC.: I'm disappointed. I'm upset, but I can ensure your viewers that we are doing everything we can about the situation. Every production batch of toys is being tested and we will continue to enforce the highest quality standards in the industry.


COOPER: Well, "Keeping them Honest," how did these toys even make it to store shelves? We discovered the Consumer Product Safety Commission, or CPSC, which is supposed to protect all of us from bad products, has been gradually scaled back by recent administrations, although the CPSC claims its staff size isn't an issue.

Before the blame goes to China, the CPSC says the magnet issue was the result of a design flaw, suggesting the problem may have started on the drawing board and not in China's factories.

As for the lead paint problem, Mattel says it caught the problem, brought it to the attention of government regulators.

All of this, of course, has many parents concerned about the health of their kids.

I talked about the possible dangers earlier with 360 M.D. Dr. Sanjay Gupta.


COOPER: Sanjay, you know, we have been talking about this toy recall all day and the risk of lead poisoning. What exactly is lead poisoning? How do you get it?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, first of all, Anderson, as you know, I just returned from China, where people are talking about the contamination issue quite a bit over there, including lead poisoning, which basically means exactly what you might think, that you're getting too much lead, which normally doesn't exist in your body.

You're getting those levels too high in your body for some reason. It can affect adults and it can affect children. What's interesting here is that children seem to be more affected, for two reasons. One is that they absorb it more readily. They absorb the lead more readily. But also a developing body and a developing nervous system seems to be more susceptible to it.

You can get it by eating it. You can get it by breathing it in or you can get it by chewing on a toy, which is the big concern here.

COOPER: And it's difficult to detect lead poisoning, right?

GUPTA: Well, this is the interesting thing as well. I mean, you can detect it, you know, doing a blood test. If you take your kid to the doctor, they will do a little pin prick test, take some blood. If that comes back too high, they will take more blood and confirm that in fact there is lead poisoning, and then there are certain therapies that can be instituted.

What's difficult sometimes is knowing if somebody actually has lead poisoning. There may be no symptoms in the early part, so you may not even suspect it. By the time they develop symptoms, it's much harder to treat. So, really figuring out who to test, that is the key.

COOPER: You say it's much harder to treat. If it's left untreated, what happens? Is this a lethal condition?

GUPTA: It certainly can be. And there have been cases of people who have died from lead poisoning. In adults and kids, you can have different sorts of symptoms.

In adults, you can have hormonal problems, reproductive problems, high blood pressure, for example, nervous system problems.

In kids, it's more an effect on the central nervous system, so developmental delays, brain damage, ADHD even, Anderson, interestingly, linked to this. But, in certain cases, it can lead to coma, seizures, and even death. It doesn't happen that much anymore, because we know better how to treat it, but it's still a possibility.

COOPER: Now, some of these toys also had magnets that were coming off of the toys. What's the problem with magnets?

GUPTA: Yes, you know, I was sort of curious about that as well. We talked to a few people about that.

What happens is, if you get a couple of magnets that actually go down into the intestines, they're both inside the intestine, they can actually, you know, come together, as magnets do, and pinch some of the intestine between it. What can happen then is, that piece of intestine actually dies or gets a little hole in it, and bacteria that is normally inside your intestine suddenly finds its way into your abdominal cavity. And that can be a potentially lethal problem. Those bacteria are not supposed be in your abdominal cavity. They're supposed to be just inside your intestine.

And that's what potentially could happen here. Again, haven't heard any cases of that, but that's the concern.

COOPER: All right, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks.

GUPTA: Thank you.


COOPER: You can get more information from Dr. Sanjay Gupta on the 360 blog. Today, he kicked off our new feature on the blog, "Five Questions." He answered five questions about lead and its effect on kids. You can check it out at

Still ahead on 360, what do you think about Don Imus' reported $20 million settlement with CBS? We want to hear from you. Call 877- 648-3639 for your questions or comments to our panel. Or you can go to, click on the instant feedback link.

Also ahead, a live report from Hawaii, as Hurricane Flossie gets closer.


COOPER: Coming up, we're taking your calls and your e-mails on the Don Imus settlement and the new lawsuit he's facing from a Rutgers women's basketball player. Call us toll-free, 877-648-3639, for our panel. Or e-mail us by going to, clicking on the instant feedback link.

First, we turn to the '08 presidential race. We all know the political punches can often get down and dirty. But tonight's "Raw Politics" is taking on superhero proportions.

Here's Joe Johns.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, bad news for Bat fans. The caped crusader's been sidelined in the Mattel toy recall, leaving a pair of big-city mayors to defend themselves all on their own.

(voice-over): Gotham's dynamic duo is taking on Massachusetts Mitt, fighting his charge they have turned their fair city into a haven for illegal immigrants.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to shut down the magnet of these sanctuary cities.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (R), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: This city and this country were built by immigrants, thrived with immigrants. And -- and, without more immigrants, we don't have a future.

JOHNS: Mayor Rudy says he's tougher than tough. He wants tighter border patrols, tamper-proof I.D. cards for foreign workers, a national database to monitor non-citizens, and a high-tech/low-tech border barrier.

RUDOLPH GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Think of it this way: physical fence, technological fence, physical fence, technological fence, physical fence.

JOHNS: Zounds. How to pay for it all?


BURT WARD, ACTOR: Holy taxation. You're right again, Batman.


JOHNS: Not so fast, Boy Wonder. Rudy says, no tax hikes needed.

The shrinking violet strikes again. Elizabeth Edwards, not one to hold her tongue anymore, is blasting what she calls Barack Obama's -- quote -- "holier-than-thou approach to the Iraq war."

Team Obama says, their man's been proudly anti-war from the start.

Finally, riddle me this: which mild-mannered Senator scored a part in next summer's blockbuster-to-be "The Dark Knight"? Yes, it's Vermont's Patrick Leahy. No, he didn't get that part. He hints he'll play a distinguished gentlemen. Alfred, anyone?

(on camera): Anderson, tune in tomorrow for more "Raw Politics." Same bat time, same bat channel.


COOPER: Patrick Leahy as Alfred. I could see that.

Erica Hill joins us now with the "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, three suicide bombings in northern Iraq have left up to 175 people dead, 200 others wounded. Three bombers loaded explosives onto trucks and targeted a residential area in a town which is about 60 miles west of Mosul. It's where an ancient Kurdish minority sect lives.

The attack comes just the day after the U.S. military said bombings were down nearly 50 percent in Iraq. The so-called surge in troop levels began about six months ago.

In Tennessee the woman convicted of manslaughter for shooting her preacher husband to death last year has been released from the mental health facility. Mary Winkler spent two months getting treatment and now plans to return to her dry cleaning job.

She still faces a $2 million civil suit filed by the parents of her husband -- her late husband. She's also trying to win custody of her daughters.

And check out this video from Arlington, Texas. Twenty school playgrounds closed down after one of them caught fire last week. This is just wild. But it wasn't arson. School officials say it's spontaneous combustion of decomposing wood fiber on the surface of the playground.

Basically, there were heavy rain. It began to decompose in the hot weather and then caught on fire. Thankfully, no one was hurt. But apparently, Anderson, they're going to get rid of the wood chips at these different playgrounds and replace it with gravel.

COOPER: That's incredible. I never heard of that.

HILL: It's wild. Totally wild. Another thing that's wild, tonight it's not really what were they thinking. It's what was he thinking. Yesterday in L.A. on the UCLA campus.

COOPER: Oh, this guy.

HILL: Yes, this guy. We shouldn't even say his name. He's one of those people. Self-proclaimed pedophile arrested twice.

First, he was put in handcuffs when he was spotted near a day care center on campus. Held for six hours on suspicion of violating a statewide restraining order, which prohibits him from coming within 10 yards of any kid. After the release, though, he didn't leave campus. Instead, he did a live TV interview at a parking lot, claiming he didn't know there were kids nearby. Take a listen.


JACK MCCLELLAN, SELF-PROCLAIMED PEDOPHILE: Honestly, I didn't know it was there.

The reason I was on UCLA was because I didn't think there would be virtually any minors there and I thought I could kind of blend in as a student.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you attracted to children?

MCCLELLAN: Yes, sure, girls. I mean, I've admitted that many times, but I've never done anything criminal.


HILL: Yes. McClellan, recently moved to California from Washington state, where he ran a Web site with pictures of little girls, or "L.G.'s", as he called them. And on the site he would discuss good locations to find little girls.

The site was shut down, but Anderson, he was also -- when he was arrested he had a camera on him. But he said he didn't have any batteries in it. Yes.

COOPER: Yikes.

HILL: Um-hum. There you go.

COOPER: Erica, thanks.

COOPER: Well, here's Kiran Chetry right now with what's coming up tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING."



Tomorrow we bring you the most news in the morning, including a potential new danger for your kids playing on a hot summer day. Just how hot is it on the equipment at your neighborhood playground? Well, some disturbing new tape has come to light. We're going to show it to you and have some advice for parents tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING."

It all begins at 6 a.m., Eastern.

Anderson, back to you.


COOPER: Up next we're taking your calls and e-mails on the Don Imus settlement and the new lawsuit he's facing from a Rutgers women's basketball player.

Also ahead, these stories.


COOPER (voice-over): Hawaii takes a hit. Hurricane Flossie hammers the big island. A live report coming up. And we're tracking another storm in the Atlantic with Florida in its sights.

Plus, deep underground.


COOPER: A new look at the effort to save six trapped miners. See what rescue teams are up against, when 360 continues.



COOPER (on camera): So is it really true that everyone loves a comeback kid? We're about to find out. We're going to take your calls about Don Imus and his $20 million deal with CBS that clears the way for him to return to the airwaves.

Our panel is standing by: CNN Contributor and Radio Host Roland Martin, Radio Host and Author Michael Medved, and Court TV Anchor Lisa Bloom.

Our first call is from Joan in Arkansas. Joan, thanks for calling. What's your call -- comment or question?

CALLER: I just think it's ridiculous that -- what has happened to Imus. I've watched him for years. Never took anything serious or anybody I've ever known.

We always got up in the morning. We always listened to Imus. We talked about Imus. I think that Sharpton and Jackson should put their anger toward something that would help our country.

COOPER: So you're looking forward to seeing him back, or hearing him back on the radio?

CALLER: Oh, yes.

COOPER: Michael, there are a lot of people out there who certainly want to -- want to have Don Imus -- Don Imus back on.

MEDVED: Well, I think that's true, because in his own way, he's obviously a lovable individual. He has done a lot of charitable work, which -- come on, the truth of the matter is that anyone in this business who is as much of a survivor as Don Imus is and who has done the kind of charitable work that he's done, and a very notable basis -- he was doing a charity telethon or radio-a-thon right in the midst of this controversy. I think that was actually his last appearance on the radio before he went off. COOPER: Roland, you're rolling your eyes and playing your violin. But I mean, he has done -- he has raised millions and millions of dollars for a whole host of charities.

MARTIN: Wow! The sexist raised lots of money for kids. That's just not a way to say, well, you know what? Just keep doing what you're doing.

The guy is a sexist. You know, he plays on racial issues and sexism. So I'm not going to excuse it because he raised money for kids. So should that be the out for any of us? Hey, let me denigrate women. Let me -- but guess what? I raise a lot of money for charity. Come on.

LISA BLOOM, COURT TV ANCHOR: Anderson, the caller puts her finger on an important point in the lawsuit. Did he have a shock jock kind of show or was it a more serious show where he interviewed newsmakers, even presidents? And the plaintiff says it was the latter. It was a more serious show, and that's why people are more likely to take his comments seriously.


MARTIN: He wants to straddle the line. I'm a shock jock, but I'm also serious. Come on.

COOPER: Debbie in New York is on the line -- Debbie.

CALLER: Hi, how are you?

COOPER: Good, how are you? Thanks for calling.

CALLER: Good. Yes, I'm wondering, what does this tell future radio personalities, that there are no limits? That you have a free license, carte blanche, that you won't lose anything?

COOPER: That's a good question.

CALLER: You'll get your job back and publicity on top of it?

COOPER: It's a good -- it's a good question, Michael. I mean, does he suffer anything from all of this?

MEDVED: Well, the truth is, he is much better known than he was before the controversy. His show did not have towering ratings before the controversy, by any means. And it probably will when he comes back, because he's so much better known.

The truth is that there are very clear rules, and you know them on the radio. There are FCC words that we can't say even now, that you're not allowed to say. That's when they press the dump button. And the truth is that there's always this shifting line. And my question for Roland really would be, he says that Imus shouldn't have a show because he's a sexist, because he's a racist.

Roland, would you also like to see Rush Limbaugh off the air? Would you like to see me off the air? Would you like to see Michael Savage (ph) off the air? Right now, he has the San Francisco Board of Supervisors going after him.

I think that this desire to censor the speech of others...

MARTIN: I'll be happy to answer that.

MEDVED: ... really should be resisted. And if you don't like what other people are saying don't listen to them.

MARTIN: You know what? But Mike, it's not a matter of you don't like what someone says. When you are consistently offensive -- and again, what Imus has to recognize is when his show was on MSNBC, he was not just sort of out there in the woods. He was competing against "AMERICAN MORNING" on this network, "Today Show," "FOX and Friends," CBS "Early Show," ABC "Good Morning America." You can't play this game by saying, well, he's a shock jock but he's also serious.

MEDVED: I'm not playing the game.


MARTIN: If the three of you guys would love to get off the radio, I can find three people who would love to do your shows.

MEDVED: Yes, but you see, the question is will people listen? People listen to Don Imus, and they did listen because the combination of being a serious journalist and...


COOPER: And I think you're right. A lot of people who maybe didn't listen before would certainly listen to any new program he did, at least initially.

We're going to take more of your calls coming up right after the break.

Also ahead, we're tracking a hurricane that has its eye on Hawaii. We'll have a live report from the island, ahead on 360.


COOPER: We're back with our panel. CNN Contributor and Radio Host Roland Martin, Radio Host and Author Michael Medved and Court TV anchor Lisa Bloom. They're taking your calls on Don Imus.

We have a call from Debbie in Ontario.

Debbie, thanks for calling.

CALLER: Yes, good evening. My comment was my son was walking by as your show was on, and he heard Lisa Bloom repeat what was said on the radio, and he said like, what's the big deal? He said, you hear that all the time in rap tapes, in rap music. He says, I would never consider that he was referring to the team as prostitutes. BLOOM: One big difference is, this is referring to specific, actual living, breathing women. When you hear it in rap music or other music, it's just a general statement.

And these women say it really harmed them. They really had a success and achievement, and they were belittled. That's the difference.

COOPER: But, I mean, to your point -- to your point earlier, there's very few people listening who would really believe that Don Imus was saying those women are actually prostitutes.

BLOOM: Right. Right, and that's the point.

COOPER: Which is what you have to prove.

BLOOM: In a defamation case you have to prove a false statement of fact. Like, if I said, Anderson Cooper is a liar, that would hold you up to disrepute because you're a journalist. That's your profession. That would be a serious negative statement.

If I said, Anderson Cooper is ugly, which nobody, of course, would ever say, it's a statement of opinion, and nobody would take it seriously. It wouldn't be defamation.

MARTIN: And Anderson, it also goes to the insulting of women basketball players. See, that's the broader issue, not necessarily the whole issue of race. It's also the matter of sexism. And so when they, you know, hey, they look like the Toronto Raptors or the Memphis Grizzlies. I mean, so -- you're saying these are women basketball players, as opposed to saying, look, they're women. Why are you comparing them to men? So -- so also it's an insult, as well.

COOPER: Michael.

MEDVED: But part of the whole idea is that these athletes are tough. They're serious. We've gotten new respect for women's athletics, not based upon the idea that women are shrinking violets and are so delicate that a few casual words on a national radio show are going to ruin them for lives.


BLOOM: So -- so you think, Michael, these were respectful comments? You think these were respectful comments then, huh?

MEDVED: No, they were terrible comments. But the point about it is that, given the fact that women have been trying to win respect for their toughness and their formidability, it seems to me a bit ironic that now they're launching lawsuits based on the fact that they'll never recover from these harsh words.

COOPER: Andrew in California is on the line -- Andrew.

CALLER: Hi, how are you, Anderson?

COOPER: Good, thanks for calling.

CALLER: Well, one of the reasons I called is you have always had credibility, and this is a really important issue.

Don Imus is a red-neck racist. It was a Freudian slip. He said, these are nappy-headed hos. He didn't say they looked like them. He said, these are nappy-headed hos. OK? That's hate speech.

This whole degradation, it just shows how we devalue blacks and the Mexicans in America.

And my final comment is that, you know, you sort of brought the news up a notch. I've noticed, and what do you think about this hype news, you know? It's just -- it's all about ratings. It's all about the money. Even this show, it's about, you know you're going to get people fired up, you know, so that will bring people on and that will bring you more money from investors.

I want your answer on that. What do you think -- what do you think? Yes, go ahead.


COOPER: Well, no, I mean, I appreciate your call. I mean, one, on this show we try not to, frankly, have people yelling all the time, which is, frankly, what just about every other cable show traffics in. And we try to have people with different viewpoints, which is what we're trying to have now.

But to his point, I mean, do you think he -- Don Imus is a racist?

MARTIN: Well, I think when you have a consistent pattern of making racial jokes, when you call Gwen Ifill (ph) a cleaning lady, when you make all -- it's consistent, not just once or twice but over a period of time. I mean, bottom line is, the racist bone in your body is jumping a heck of a whole lot.

COOPER: Lisa, your final thoughts on this?

BLOOM: Yes. And I think the sexist part is not to be overlooked, as well...

MARTIN: Absolutely.

BLOOM: ... which got less attention. That these women, who were serious athletes, who worked very hard, who did everything that we want college women to do, ended up degraded for not being feminine enough. I mean, that's really a deep insult to them.

COOPER: Michael, I want to give you the final thought.

MEDVED: Well, when you say that they ended up being degraded, the truth of the matter is that I'm on the radio 15 hours every week. And what people did here with Imus -- I think he was on the radio for 20 hours every week. It's a huge amount. They took out of context a really stupid, loathsome comment that he happened to let slip.

BLOOM: What's the context...


MARTIN: No, no, no, Mike, no we didn't...


MEDVED: No, no. The important thing is that Imus apologized, and he apologized repeatedly. And he acknowledged that he crossed a line.

MARTIN: Michael...


MEDVED: It's time to let go.

MARTIN: Anderson, he apologized. He apologized to Clarence Page that he would not use the racial comments again, and he did it again.

COOPER: We got to go.

BLOOM: If it was out of context, why did he apologize?

COOPER: We got to go. We got to go.

Michael's point was it's time to let it go.

Michael Medved, appreciate your perspective on the program.

Roland, as well.

Lisa Bloom, as well.

Thank you very much.

Up next on 360, a new look inside the mine where six workers are still trapped, let's not forget.

Plus we'll take to you Hawaii for the latest on Hurricane Flossie. We'll tell you about another storm brewing off Texas, next. 360 continues.


COOPER: That is what Hurricane Flossie looks like from outer space. This is what the powerful storm looks like from the International Space Station. Flossie is hitting Hawaii as a Category 2 storm, a powerful but glancing blow.

CNN meteorologist Reynolds Wolf is live on the south shore of the big island.

Reynolds, what's the situation? REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, the latest we have for you, Anderson, is in the state of Hawaii, at least in this part, we currently have a hurricane watch and a tropical storm warning in effect for the big island.

Now, just over the last couple of hours, the biggest thing we've been dealing has been just the wind. It's really been picking up in intensity, had very little in terms of rainfall and just incredible footage of some waves.

In fact, take a look at this video that we have for you. We shot this just about an hour or so ago. These immense waves making contact with these rocks right along the southern shore have just been tremendous. They've been anywhere from, say, 10 to 15 feet high as they roar onshore. And we're expecting more around the midnight hour of these waves to be even bigger, possibly anywhere from 20 to 25 feet.

Now, let's take a look at the weather computer. And on the weather computer you'll get another bird's eye view of this -- this storm, some 240 miles in diameter.

The storm is still -- still chugging its way to the west. As it does the rain -- the rain is about 50 miles away from my vantage point. The storm is a Cat 2, Category 2. The winds are about 105, sustained gusts at 125.

Look where it's headed, the storm veering south of the island and by, let's see, it should be passing just south of us. And by the time we get into Thursday morning the storm should be downgraded to a tropical storm.

Now, let's switch gears. Keep in mind, Anderson, this is not the only show in town. We've got more happening over in the Atlantic. Here's a satellite view of Tropical Storm Dean that is also moving due west. It has winds right around 40 miles an hour sustained with some gusts up to 50.

Now, as you look at the path of this storm, this is where it gets very, very interesting. The storm is expected to strengthen into a hurricane by Friday, and then it's going to move towards Puerto Rico on Sunday.

At this point, there's the possibility the storm could move -- veering back farther toward the east, kind of in a bending shape and just go back into the Atlantic, or it could move more into the Gulf of Mexico. Either way it's going to run into warmer water, and there's the chance that it could strengthen even more. We're going to watch that for you.

Also, the latest information, the disturbance we were watching in the Gulf of Mexico is now Tropical Depression 5, and it could make landfall along the Texas coastline.

We've got to keep a very close eye on this, especially for Texas. Texas, as you know, has had quite a bit of rainfall over the last couple of months. The last thing they need, Anderson, is rain, and that certainly looks like that's in the cards for them.

Back to you.

COOPER: All right.

A new look inside the Utah mine where six miners are trapped. Mine Owner Bob Murray recorded a video tour to show families what rescue teams are facing as they clear coal to reach the men. A slow process, no doubt about it. They are still at least 1,200 feet from where the miners are believed to be.

Now, a look at a different mine operation. Kayford Peak (ph) soars 300 feet above West Virginia coal country. The mining industry believes one area on the mountain has $50 million in coal. But for the CNN hero you're about to meet, it is worth much more than that.


LARRY GIBSON, CNN HERO: In his hands are the depths of the earth and the mountain peaks belong to him. But you won't find no mountain picture around here. They've been taken.


Over the last 50 years, the American coal industry has transitioned its primary mining method from deep mining to surface mining.

Mountaintop removal, a type of surface mining, accounts for one- third of today's Appalachian coal production.


GIBSON: And instead of extracting the coal out of the mountain, their extracting the mountain off the coal.

My name is Larry Gibson. I am the keeper of the mountain.

Laying right here and was 300 feet higher than this. Now, this cemetery is the tallest point.

Around 1993, one vice president of coal (UNINTELLIGIBLE) productions told me that my 50 acres are worth $1 million an acre. I said you can have my right arm, but you'll never get my mountain.

I've locked the land into a land trust never to be sold. Never.


By 2005, mountaintop removal mining had leveled 474 southern and central Appalachian Mountains.

Source: Appalachian Voices.

(END GRAPHIC) GIBSON: I've been shout at numerous million times. I've had my cabins burned and I had my dog shot. I'm just trying to make people in West Virginia stand up and be counted instead of being a part of something that's destroying it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Larry's such an inspiration of trying to get the communities to put pressure on the elected officials and stop mountaintop removal. He's not doing it for himself. He's making a point, don't let this happen to your communities.

GIBSON: That's why I put myself in the positions I've put myself in. Sometimes you have to stand up in harm's way whether you know it's coming or not.


In 2006, Larry created Keeper of the Mountains Foundation which fights for the preservation of Appalachia through lobbying and lecturing.


GIBSON: The young people should be crying and screaming because they're going to pay for what these people are doing.

I'm here. My feet are planted. I'm not giving up nothing. I'm not backing up nowhere. And I can't imagine not fighting.


COOPER: For more on Larry Gibson's campaign, you can go to That's where you can also nominate a hero you know.

Up next, a look at what's "On the Radar" on the 360 blog. Your thoughts on the massive toy recall and Karl Rove's resignation.


COOPER: Let's check what's "On the Radar" on the 360 blog. A lot of you commenting on the massive recall of toys made in China.

Liz in Milwaukee says: Maybe the words "NOT MADE IN AMERICA" should be required on all product labels. This would be to warn American consumers to purchase "AT THEIR OWN RISK."

Joanne in Quebec writes: We all know that some of the companies in China will cut corners, the big corporations hiring them should be more cautious, especially, when their products will find their way into children's hands. Ah yeah, sorry, I forgot! Profits above anything else!

David Gergen's posting on the blog on the resignation of Karl Rove is also getting a lot of comments.

Stacy in St. Louis, Missouri, says: I say good riddance. I hope to never see that man again, unless he's in handcuffs. Tammy has a different viewpoint. She writes: I wish Karl Rove a good life whether he chooses to stay in politics or not. She says George W. Bush, as much as I dislike some of his policies, is not a stupid man. I highly doubt he was Karl Rove's string puppet or they had some evil plot to take over the world or make Iraq turn into the disaster it has become.

You can weigh in any time. We appreciate all viewpoints at

For our international viewers, "CNN TODAY" is coming up next. Here in America, "LARRY KING" is coming up.

I'll see you tomorrow night.