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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Houston Cause of Death Released; Top Cop in Trayvon Case Steps Aside; The Big Story with Newt Gingrich; Joe Namath Talks Tebow; Maury and Connie Go Back to TV

Aired March 22, 2012 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: The latest from the coroner and the Houston family's reaction.

And what makes Newt Gingrich stay in this presidential race.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was really the wrong thing for him to say and the White House apparently has agreed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: I'll ask the former speaker that and what he thinks of Robert De Niro calling him a hypocrite.

Plus Tim Tebow is bound for the New York Jets. Will he be the new Broadway Joe? Only one guy knows the answer to that, the real Broadway Joe, Joe Namath.

And she made TV news history.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONNIE CHUNG, NEWS ANCHOR: Good evening, I'm Connie Chung.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: He made television's guiltiest guilty pleasures.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAURY POVICH, TV HOST: You are the father.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Tonight the big PIERS MORGAN interview with Connie Chung and Maury Povich on life, love and politics.

And "Only in America," no apologies. None. Why should Americans keep saying sorry? It's got a sense of humor.

This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT. Good evening. Our "Big Story" tonight, with the Louisiana primary just days away Newt Gingrich is on the attack, taking shots at President Obama, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum. Even Robert De Niro. I'll talk to the candidate in just a moment.

Also TV all-stars, Connie Chung and Maury Povich, a power couple with a combined 75 years in the news business. They'll weigh in on everything from the GOP to Whitney Houston.

And my worldwide exclusive with football legend Joe Namath. Does he think New York has faith in Tim Tebow?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He'll be happy here, he'll fit in well here and we're happy to have him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm really psyched up. I'm looking forward to next season.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look what he did for the Broncos last year. So it might push Sanchez to be, you know, tougher and get out there all the time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, he's not going to be a quarterback.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a wild card.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They'll play him as a running back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I think it's dumb.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: I think you'll find Joe Namath doesn't disagree with that last gentleman but we'll find out soon.

We begin with breaking news, the coroner's report on Whitney Houston's death has come in. The medical examiner says the singer died of accidental drowning and that cocaine and heart disease were contributing factors.

Joining me now from Los Angeles, Dr. Drew Pinsky.

Drew, what do you make of this report? I was reading the drugs that were found in Whitney's body. Cocaine, metabolites, marijuana, Xanax, Flexeril, a muscle relaxant, Benadryl, an allergy medicine. Anything massively surprising there?

DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST, HLN'S "DR. DREW": No, really not. Well, actually what I was expecting was more in the pill category. I mean she did have some Xanax and Flexeril but that wasn't directly related to her death. It appears that this was more of a stimulant death, although many people have denied that she was using cocaine. In fact she clearly was.

And what cocaine will do is cause massive cardiac events like a sudden arrhythmia that causes the blood pressure to lower, the individual to go unconscious, and in her case evidently she slipped into the water and then drowned.

MORGAN: I mean her family have come out saying they're very saddened by this report. We can perfectly understand that. They were obviously, I guess, hoping that it wouldn't show that she'd taken illegal drugs.

I would say, Drew, I mean, look, I'm not an expert in this but it seems when you and I have spoken before, this seems like a classic drug addict's death in many ways.

PINSKY: Oh, absolutely. This is -- this is just another addiction death. And the -- you know, I spoke to Bobby Brown's sister this evening and many of Bobbi Kristina's cousins and they believe that everyone around her was aware that she was in serious trouble. So all these denials appear to be sort of empty civilest (ph). They don't seem to be anything truthful going on here. And people are running for cover and trying to, you know, find ways to feel better about this.

It's a very tragic, sad phenomenon. But the fact is she had failed treatment multiple times. She went back to work as -- you know, was treated last spring, back to work in the fall. That already was a recipe for disaster. Everyone around her knows -- knew she was using alcohol. That is a massive relapse. And it was just inevitable that she would get back to more serious drugs.

MORGAN: And the final tipping point would seem to be based on what we have now read that the cocaine induced -- she had a cocaine hit very close to the moment of death. That she had a massive heart attack of some sort and then drowned?

PINSKY: Something like that. Something like that. We actually don't know when the cocaine was consumed. The final report isn't out yet. All we know is that there were cocaine metabolites. If you find cocaine itself, the actual molecule in cocaine that had not been yet metabolized by the body, that means the consumption was probably within a few hours. But cocaine, particularly in somebody her age, can cause various -- through various ways, and I can describe to you the specific ways, but basically increasing oxygen demand causing vessel constriction, increasing platelet. They have clot formation in their heart and directly affecting the heart causing arrhythmias.

So all of these things can have massive, massive effects. Low blood pressure, unconsciousness. And if you're in a bathtub, well, that can lead to drowning. Now again, I said I spoke to Bobby Brown -- Bobby Brown's sister tonight, who had grave -- a lot of questions about why she was in a bathtub. This is a woman that hated bathtubs, particularly hotel bathtubs. And we still have a lot of unanswered questions about why she was unattended. MORGAN: Yes.

PINSKY: And what people were thinking about what was going on in her life.

MORGAN: It does seem pretty strange set of affairs given what the family was saying. In the end, Drew, just a terrible tragedy. We lost one of the great entertainers in the world.

PINSKY: Terrible tragedy.

MORGAN: Another victim of addiction.

PINSKY: That's right.

MORGAN: Drew, thanks very much for joining me.

PINSKY: That's exactly right. Thanks, Piers.

MORGAN: We also have breaking news tonight in the Trayvon Martin case. Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee says he's stepping down temporarily in the wake of the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon by a neighborhood watch volunteer.

A rally in Florida tonight drew close to 1,000 people (INAUDIBLE) the teenager's parents who demanded an arrest and conviction in the murder of their son.

John Zarrella is live for us there in Sanford.

John, a lot of anger, very understandable anger. How would you describe the mood? What do people expect to happen? Is the guy that shot this young boy going to get arrested?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we don't know if he'll get arrested or when he'll get arrested. We don't even know where he is, Piers. Clearly the message at this rally, this massive rally here led by Reverend Al Sharpton who came down, the message from these people was that anything short of the arrest of George Zimmerman is not going to be good enough.

The police chief stepping down today was not good enough. There was news out of Tallahassee today that the governor and the attorney general have appointed a new prosecutor to look into this case, removing the prosecutor here in Seminole County from the equation so there's more complete transparency.

The crowd here saying that's not enough. Again, the only thing these people will be satisfied with is the ultimate arrest, if it happens, of George Zimmerman -- Piers.

MORGAN: I mean it does seem extraordinary given all the details that are now emerging that an arrest is not at least being seriously considered. I mean this whole debate about the "Stand Your Ground" law where this took play, that debate is raging ever more furiously, right? ZARRELLA: No question about it. In fact, part of what the governor announced today was that after this investigation is over here that what he will then do immediately is appoint a task force that is going to look into, among other things, the "Stand Your Ground" law -- Piers.

MORGAN: Well, that family need justice and I hope they get it soon.

John Zarrella, thank you very much indeed.

Now to politics. And our "Big Story," Newt Gingrich, the former speaker, is kicking his flagging campaign into overdrive ahead of the Louisiana primary on Saturday and taking aim at frontrunner Mitt Romney. And he joins me now.

Mr. Speaker, how are you?

GINGRICH: I'm doing well, how are you?

MORGAN: I'm going to come back to the campaign in just a moment. I do want to ask you, though, about this increasingly controversial story involving the shooting of Trayvon Martin. It seems to be -- I wouldn't even say dividing America. America seems to be pretty well on the same page here. That what has happened here is an outrage. What is your view?

GINGRICH: Well, my view is that the local district attorney is doing exactly the right thing. He's taking it to the grand jury. I'm sure he's going to present the evidence and not just the 911 call but the previous 911 calls and the fact that the police have been dealing with this guy apparently for a year. And, you know, I think that I have faith that the American system of justice will in fact work and that this is why you have a balance between the police and the district attorney.

The district attorney has the ability to step in and say, wait a second, let's look at this again. They're clearly doing that. The police chief himself has been suspended. And I think that Americans can recognize that while this is a tragedy, and it is a tragedy, that we are going to relentlessly seek justice and I think that's the right thing to do.

MORGAN: But isn't this "Stand Your Ground" law a load of all nonsense, dangerous nonsense that's now being abused left, right and center, by people who just want to shoot people?

(LAUGHTER)

GINGRICH: I think, Piers, you just took an enormous jump. That's like state cities that have rules that even if somebody breaks into your house you can't defend yourself. Both extremes taken in the wrong direction are false. Clearly you should have a right to defend yourself in your own home and clearly somebody should -- it should not be translating standing their own ground into pushing somebody else. And that's what's it's going to come down to the question here. The young man apparently was not following the person who's being -- who's being investigated. Apparently the man, the shooter, was following the young man. Now that's -- that's not a stand your own ground, that's a chase the other person into their ground. And I think you're going to find that the law as interpreted normally doesn't apply to this case.

But again, you and I are talking, without having heard the grand jury evidence, without having listened to the various experts, without having reviewed the material, that's why I prefer -- let's let the district attorney move forward, let the grand jury reach a decision. If they decide to indict him, it will go to trial and I think we will all see that the system of justice will work.

MORGAN: Let's get back to the campaign. What people are saying is, look, Newt Gingrich cannot win the nomination. He's putting up a great fight. He's been dead and buried and rolled back and dead and buried and rolled back, but right now it looks almost impossible that you can win.

Why are you staying in the race? And secondly, at what point politically does it become damaging to you to continue to stay in the race if the current rate of delegate gains and state wins by Mitt Romney continues at the pace that it's now happening?

GINGRICH: Well, there are three answers. First, I'm staying in the race because I believe we ought to have a conservative who's serious, who's had national achievements, and who doesn't write his policy on an Etch-A-Sketch and zigzag back and forth wildly. I've had a consistent, conservative policy going all the way back to Barry Goldwater in 1964 when I was a college student.

I have been actively involved in the conservative movement. I stand for the same things year after year. I think the most recent comments by Governor Romney's communications director should worry every conservative in the country if they really going to nominate somebody who thinks you can, you know, shake the Etch-A-Sketch and end up with a brand new general election campaign which would be a total disaster in my judgment.

Second, we have 176,000 donors. People walk up to me every single day and beg me to stay in the race. Every single event we go to, people thank me for having the courage to stay in the race. And third, there may be a morning Governor Romney has a majority of the delegates. That morning isn't here. Given mistakes like this week, given the fact that when he did win Illinois with less than a majority of the vote it was the lowest turnout in 70 years.

I mean every Republican who wants to beat Obama should be worried by the fact the Romney victories come by driving down turnout with negative advertising. Drowning his opponents. He will not be able to do this to Obama and it makes me really worried about what kind of a general election candidate he'll be.

MORGAN: Now I want to take a short bleak, Mr. Speaker, and come back and talk to you about the fact that Robert De Niro has this afternoon branded you a hypocrite. I want to get your reaction.

GINGRICH: OK.

MORGAN: He's a raging bull tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT DE NIRO, ACTOR/DIRECTOR: What I am so bothered about is the behavior of people like Gingrich. Gingrich is just a hypocrite. And, you know, and that's a waste of energy for all of us. And he's said publicly that the president shouldn't have to apologize to anybody. Just a few weeks ago. You want me to say something about this. It's just a nonsense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Robert De Niro taking a pot shot at Newt Gingrich today over the first lady joke that's been in the news this week.

Newt Gingrich, how do you respond to the charge from one of Hollywood's great actors that you are a hypocrite?

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, no matter what words go back and forth between us, Callista and I were delighted to be at the Kennedy Center Honors when he was honored. He is one of our greatest actors. I truly admire his professional work even if I don't like him particularly in politics. But he just took two things. This is a classic Hollywood lack of logical thought.

I said the president of the United States should not apologize to our enemies while they are killing young Americans. Now that's a very specific reference to a very specific situation. The commander in chief owes it to the troops under his command to stand with them. And I thought the president made a tremendous mistake during the killings in Afghanistan, because here were people who were killing young Americans and he's apologizing to them.

That has nothing to do with requesting that Robert De Niro, who the White House itself said, said that he said the wrong things. Took three perfectly fine women and compared them to Michelle Obama in a way that basically talked about white first ladies.

And my only point -- I made two points with this. First, it was really the wrong thing for him to say and the White House apparently has agreed. And second, this campaign isn't about First Lady Michelle. I'm not running against Michelle Obama. I'm not running -- you know, and I think that Ann Romney and Karen Santorum and Callista Gingrich are perfectly fine as potential first ladies.

I happen to have a preference for Callista, but the point is, this is about Michelle's husband. This is about the president of the United States. I'm running to be president of the United States. And I just thought that De Niro's quote was in bad taste. If it had been a conservative talk radio show host who said exactly the same thing but reversed the racial reference, the left would have exploded with rage.

But of course if it's one of their own and after all it's only attacking Republicans, that's perfectly appropriate because anybody on the left, as Bill Maher has proven, can say anything they want to about anyone and still give a million dollars and after all who are we to judge those on the left who are so morally superior that their use of language is always correct?

MORGAN: But isn't there slight danger of you being overly pious here, Mr. Speaker? Because I think you knew that he was --

GINGRICH: I'm not being pious.

MORGAN: He was basically coming out with what I would call a reverse racism joke. And the reason I say you may be a little -- a little too serious about this, Ann Romney was on my show last night and she made a point of saying I actually found it funny.

GINGRICH: Right.

MORGAN: I didn't find it offensive. I think that America is getting way too politically correct. And you seem to be leading this charge, Mr. Speaker.

Now, I know you quite well now. You have a great sense of humor. Did you really feel offended by Robert De Niro or was it just a chance to whack a Democrat?

GINGRICH: I really think the use of racism by Democrats is just as bad as the use of racism by Republicans, and I really think it's wrong to use racial references like that, period. I think -- you know, as I said, just try sometimes saying exactly the same phrase but reverse the reference. Imagine that somebody had said in the funniest possible way in 2008 that America wasn't ready for a black first lady, you'd have had an explosion of outrage.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Yes, but that's the whole point. Now hang on, hang on. This is the whole point, though. Because the whole point of De Niro's comment, his joke, was precisely because many people were saying that kind of thing very seriously about Michelle Obama. So he was flipping the racial --

GINGRICH: Oh, OK.

MORGAN: -- thoughts on their side and making --

GINGRICH: So flipping it -- OK, I just want to make clear here, Piers. Flipping it is always OK because it's always the left that is flipping it and therefore when the left says things it's always OK.

Look, one of the reasons that I'm controversial is I'm happy to stand toe to toe with the left. And when they want to engage in cultural fights, I'm happy to. Do you want to explain Bill Maher the same way? That the kind of vicious, nasty things he said are OK? MORGAN: No, I actually -- I actually think --

(CROSSTALK)

GINGRICH: -- vicious, nasty things in the left?

MORGAN: No, but it's interesting you mention Bill Maher because he wrote a very good piece in "The New York Times" today precisely about America's collective sense of humor failure. I actually think that he's right in principle, although I thought he was completely wrong with the language he used about Sarah Palin, for example, in the same way that Rush Limbaugh was totally wrong when he used that language about a law student.

GINGRICH: OK.

MORGAN: But I just wonder -- when you first heard what Robert De Niro said, whether you really were offended, because I'm not sure you would have been.

GINGRICH: I really do think that it's occasionally OK for conservatives to stand up and say, we don't like being smeared, and I really do think the language he was using is typical. Look, I get it. I understand where you're coming from. And it was not a gigantic thing. It was a very specific one-time thing. The White House itself agreed his language was inappropriate. That's what they said.

So maybe you have an argument with the White House over this, because they said he was inappropriate. But I just think it's interesting that if you try to have some level of policing of the left's language, suddenly you're lacking a sense of humor?

Come on, you know me too well, that's baloney. I like -- you know, I just said to you, I like De Niro, I think he's a great actor. I'd much rather have a conversation with him some day about the wonderful things he's done than be involved in this kind of long distance baloney. But his reference to me as a hypocrite took totally out of context, something which was very serious, which is a commander in chief apologizing to people who were killing young Americans.

MORGAN: Let's move to Rick Santorum, because he's like your bone in your (INAUDIBLE) in all this. If Rick Santorum wasn't there, if he was to stand aside, do you think you'd have a better shot now at Mitt Romney? Because everyone is saying that to him about you, but the same applies to you, isn't it?

GINGRICH: Well, it applies both ways. But I also think -- excuse me -- to some extent we've actually, I think, split Romney's attention. He has always had an ability to drown us with negative advertising. What happened to me as you'll remember was I was actually in first place until we got drowned first in Iowa. Then I came back and I was in first place after winning South Carolina, and then they spent $20 million in three weeks in Florida to redrown me.

And that was the process in which Rick emerged because he was the guy running fourth and Romney wasn't paying any attention to him. Rick then got a really good bounce and ran, I think, a very positive campaign for a while. Now he's suffering a similar kind of challenge.

And the question is whether or not between us -- Ron Paul and Rick and I -- can get enough votes to stop Romney from having an absolute majority. If he -- I mean Romney's challenge is simple. If he does not get an absolute majority having run for six years, putting in $40 million of his own money, outraised us by huge amounts in the super PAC, if he doesn't have an absolute majority on the 26th of June, we're going to move towards an open convention and then it's anybody's game.

If he does get an absolute majority, he'll be the Republican nominee and he'll have won it in a very, very hard fought contest.

MORGAN: Critics of that position would say the last thing the Republicans need is to get to the convention and have open season. That that just plays completely into Barack Obama's hands.

GINGRICH: That would be the most exciting 60 days of civic participation in the age of Facebook and YouTube. I mean you would be in hog's heaven. Every night would be exciting. The convention would be the most exciting convention in modern times. And whoever became the nominee would have the highest attendance, the highest viewership in history for their acceptance speech and we would have compressed the Obama attack machine to 60 days.

They would only have 60 -- I mean the danger for the Republicans is if we pick a nominee early enough, that gives Obama's billion dollars a long time to work on defining that candidate. Remember, the Republican nominee was picked much earlier in 2008 and Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton fought it out until mid-June. Didn't seem to hurt Obama.

MORGAN: Speaker Gingrich, I admire your fortitude. Enormous. It's always a pleasure to talk to you. I would make it up for Robert De Niro. He's a big lad.

GINGRICH: Thank you.

MORGAN: He's got a tasty right hook.

GINGRICH: I like him. I like him a lot.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Thanks for joining me.

GINGRICH: Thank you.

MORGAN: When we come back, Tebow mania is headed to the Big Apple. I'll talk to the legendary New York Jets -- quarterback, Joe Namath. He's called it all a publicity stunt. This could be interesting.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": Man, this is huge news. It looks like Tim Tebow might be traded to the New York Jets, you guys. But apparently some Jets players are not happy about it. Yes, they're called wide receivers. No way, I'm never going to see the ball.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That was NBC's "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" last night. And yes, Tim Tebow is headed to the New York Jets, but will America's poster boy for faith and football play win in the Big Apple?

Well, joining me now is probably the perfect person. This is a world exclusive interview with a living legend, the one and only Broadway Joe, Joe Namath.

Joe, welcome.

JOE NAMATH, FORMER QUARTERBACK: Thank you, Piers. Good to be with you, buddy.

MORGAN: I have never known my staff been more excited than when we booked you today, the exclusive on Tim Tebow. So thank you for making all their days and all their dreams come true.

NAMATH: Well, thank you. And my best to your staff.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Now, let's talk Tim Tebow, because I'm getting a sense you're not quite as thrilled about all this as a lot of people in New York are. Tell me why.

NAMATH: Well, I was surprised, first of all. You know, the Jets had recently given Mark Sanchez an extension on his contract and the jets also recently signed a backup quarterback. And being a former quarterback, you know, you'd like to be able to put some trust in what you're being told. And I think this caught Mark Sanchez by surprise, it caught the team by surprise, a lot of us by surprise, with the news that Tebow is coming to town.

Now I want to say something here, Piers, Tebow has wonderful fans because he's a wonderful guy and he can play. I got a report from my home in Pennsylvania that my nephews are very excited that Tebow is going to be a Jet, all right?

(LAUGHTER)

NAMATH: But when I look at it --

MORGAN: Let's get to the but, Joe, come on.

(CROSSTALK)

NAMATH: When I look at it as a quarterback and I put myself in Mark Sanchez's place, I don't like it. MORGAN: Yes.

NAMATH: I do not like it. The only way this wildcat offense comes into play is if you've got a problem with your offense. That's what happened with Miami, that's what happened with the Jets early in Mark's career when they had Brad Smith who could run the wildcat formation, and that's what happened out at Denver.

Tebow, as fine a dude as you want to find, he's just not a good passer. Your quarterback has to be able to pass the ball. Now what are they going to do during practice in the fall? Are they going to tell Sanchez, move over, because now we have to give Tebow and the wildcat formation time to practice?

MORGAN: Yes. This could be a problem --

NAMATH: You've got to understand -- it's going to be a problem.

MORGAN: And the other thing, Joe, the other thing, Joe -- the other thing I want to ask you, you're the perfect guy for this. I mean, traditionally the Jets' famous quarterbacks led by you have always been -- let's been brutally frank here -- naughty boys. I mean that's why you're known as Broadway Joe. You know, you like to work hard, play hard.

Tim Tebow is about as far removed from that as I can possibly imagine. He's a God-fearing, Christian, well-behaved young man. He is not Broadway Joe, is he?

NAMATH: Well, I tell you, the way the Jets have played recently, they need the Good Lord on their side. So this could be a major move, yes.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: So you don't think it will be too much temptation for him coming to a city like New York?

NAMATH: Oh, hey, this young man, I've had had the pleasure of watching him work since he started college in Florida. I know his history with his parents and the kind of guy he is. I don't know anyone that doesn't have a special feeling about Tim Tebow. However, to win a championship in the National Football League, you've got to be able to throw the ball accurately fairly consistently from the pocket.

Now he's got to prove that. He hasn't proven that yet. Otherwise he'd be playing somewhere else on a regular basis. The thing is you don't bring in somebody -- you don't tell your starting quarterback who's played three years and has gradually grown, that he's the man and then you bring in somebody right behind him with an added formation --

MORGAN: Yes, it does --

NAMATH: -- that they're going to give teams trouble with? No. MORGAN: It does seem a pretty bad day to be Mark Sanchez, I must say.

Let me ask you quickly about the other big NFL scandal story. This New York -- New Orleans Saints thing with the bounty. Am I the only person in America that just assumes that everybody used to do this? I assumed there would have been bounties on your head every game you ever played. I mean is this just kind of a dressing room jokey thing that's got completely misreported, misunderstood?

Is it just what lads do in that dressing room? Let's go and get Broadway Joe? I mean isn't that part of the game?

NAMATH: Well, it's part of the game when you don't intentionally want to maim someone, when you don't intentionally say, we need to knock this guy out and you're going to get a bonus if he's carried off the field or you're going to get a different bonus if he has to leave the game. No, it's awful. You do not put bounties on players.

The game is still played by the rules and, Piers, the players are supposed to respect one another, not take cheap shots. And, you know, putting a bounty on Brett Favre, for example, in the 2010 championship game, that stinks. I mean what do the young kids -- what do the kids in high school, junior high, the younger kids and the coaches coaching these guys, are they going to teach these young guys that this is what we do? We're going to knock that star out, you see, and you're going to get an extra milk shake.

No, man, that's wrong. The offensive side of the ball doesn't work that way. Any team I was on, the 12 years with the Jets, the year with the Rams, no. We weren't privy of that. Now was our defense doing it? Not to my knowledge. Never heard about it.

MORGAN: OK, Joe. Well, listen, I feel like I shouldn't cut you off because you're such a legend. I want you to have as much time as you'd like but sadly the clock ticks even for you, Joe. It's been a real pleasure and an honor to have you on the show. Do come back again one time.

NAMATH: I'd love to. Thank you, Piers.

MORGAN: Take care. All the very best.

Legendary Joe Namath, what a privilege that was.

When we come back, another privilege for me. Two of the great TV pioneers, Maury Povich and Connie Chung on their lives on TV news and as husband and wife. Very excited about this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POVICH: This is Maury Povich at Los Angeles International Airport. We'll be reporting on the crash of the big DC-10 today that took two lives and injured more than 50, and we'll have exclusive film of this crash moments after it occurred.

CHUNG: Also tonight, it's been raining throughout Southern California today and a new storm is on the way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: What a shock -- raining in Southern California?

Connie Chung and Maury Povich both worked in L.A. for CBS station KNXT back in 1978. He went on to host "A Current Affair" over the last two decades. He's had his own show and she was the first Asian American to anchor an evening -- a network newscast and only the second woman. And they both join me now.

Welcome. Got to say --

CHUNG: Thank you.

MORGAN: How long have you two been married?

CHUNG: Twenty --

POVICH: Seven.

CHUNG: Seven?

MORGAN: And you're still holding hands.

CHUNG: Well --

POVICH: Well, yes.

CHUNG: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Is this because you're nervous or you still love each other?

POVICH: No, no, no, we're all right. No pulse. We're OK.

(LAUGHTER)

CHUNG: In fact I think I'm going to take a nap right now.

MORGAN: Now, I've got a confession to make. When I was a young newspaperist back in Britain, they used to get the CBS Early Evening News, something you started appearing at midnight.

CHUNG: No.

MORGAN: And it was you and Dan Rather.

CHUNG: No.

MORGAN: (INAUDIBLE) even more on this. CHUNG: Oh, my gosh.

MORGAN: It was a lot more fun when someone said, of course you know they don't get on very well.

CHUNG: No.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Really? I mean after that it became a miserable television.

CHUNG: Now where did they get that?

MORGAN: Was it true?

CHUNG: I mean I can't imagine. Listen, he was so nice to me, really.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Connie.

CHUNG: OK. Well, you know, it was what it was. And --

MORGAN: And is it a reality that Dan was doing it. Then he was sort of basically told you were coming on board.

CHUNG: Yes, exactly. And he had to move over a few inches.

MORGAN: And not mostly in our business you wouldn't have liked that.

CHUNG: You don't want to do that.

MORGAN: Yes, yes.

CHUNG: No, no, no. So I can perfectly understand why he wanted to kill me.

POVICH: Who's going to be your co-host?

MORGAN: Yes, exactly.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: No one would like that, I guess.

CHUNG: No.

MORGAN: If you're used to having your own show like that.

CHUNG: Exactly. So I mean I -- you know, he was usually very, very cordial. (LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Well, I like Dan. He comes on this show, he's a great man. And I don't want to cause any more problems now that it's been clearly a long time since I used to watch this.

POVICH: They're very --

(CROSSTALK)

POVICH: They're friendly towards each other.

CHUNG: Yes.

POVICH: When they see each other.

CHUNG: I saw him once on a train, you know, going to Washington. I was thinking people are going to say, you know, where are they going, what are they doing? What are they doing together? And I thought, I'll just tell them that we're heading to -- we're looking at a home for, you know, retired anchor people.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Now let's talk about news and politics. Because, well, obviously you live in New York. Tim Tebow. Are you --

CHUNG: Oh, my god.

MORGAN: Are you excited about this?

CHUNG: I feel so bad for Mark Sanchez. It's so wrong.

MORGAN: He's got a point, Joe Namath. If you're the quarterback and you just signed this whacking new deal and you've been groomed for, like, the last three years and then suddenly they bring in Tim Tebow. This is not good news, is it?

POVICH: Well, I tell you, I think -- I used to do sports years ago and I love sports. And John Elway is an acquaintance of mine. And I think, you talk about this as a political year, the biggest political winner of all this year is John Elway. Because it was the only way, only possible way that he could get those Denver fans to bid goodbye to Tebow.

MORGAN: Yes.

POVICH: And so, John, what a masterful stroke.

MORGAN: It was a master (INAUDIBLE).

CHUNG: I think the Jets hiring Tebow would be like if Coach Woodson of the New York Knicks took Jeremy Lin out of the --

MORGAN: Yes.

CHUNG: You know, on the starting team.

POVICH: Now you're showing your colors. You're a big fan of Jeremy Lin.

CHUNG: My team.

MORGAN: Look at her Tebow-sanity.

CHUNG: Come on. My team.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Let's move on. This serious story, I think it's a horrible story, the Trayvon Martin case.

CHUNG: Oh, yes.

MORGAN: And I'm sure that, you know, if you were still doing the news broadcast and you feel the same way I do, which is, this whole thing of "Stand Your Ground," allowing someone to just apparently follow after this unarmed kid and kill him and not even be arrested in America today?

CHUNG: Well, you know, I saw Andrea Mitchell on that other cable station.

MORGAN: Yes. The one we don't mention.

CHUNG: Doing a terrific interview with the city manager of Stanford.

POVICH: Sanford.

CHUNG: Sanford, sorry. Thanks, honey. And she was really pressing him regarding the police chief and all that. Now the police chief has stepped down.

POVICH: Yes, but to me, what bothers me more is, how does the Florida Supreme Court allow that law?

MORGAN: Unbelievable.

POVICH: The law is just -- I mean this is frontier justice. This is vigilantism.

MORGAN: And there's been an explosion of cases since the law with more and more people. Gang leaders killing other gang leaders and saying, I was acting in self defense, I was standing my ground.

CHUNG: You know, at the time when it was passed, they had no idea of how far reaching it would be. I mean even I think -- I think Jeb Bush was governor at the time, and correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that even he had supported it and had no idea --

POVICH: Somebody we like.

CHUNG: Yes. Absolutely. I'm astounded. I mean it's really beyond comprehension.

MORGAN: The law hasn't changed. I can't imagine this case is not going to lead to the "Stand Your Ground" law just being repealed or whatever they do in Florida. But I just think it's crazy, crazy, isn't it?

POVICH: Yes. Now of course the way they're going to get around it is the U.S. Justice Department is going to come in and probably find some kind of charge.

MORGAN: Let's take a little break, let's come back and talk politics. I want to ask you whose camp you're in, Gingrich or De Niro. This is the big story of the night.

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POVICH: You are the father.

In the case of 3-year-old Trayvon, Darren, you are not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Maury Povich and his hit daytime show appropriately titled "Maury." That was a signature segment, "Who's the Daddy?" And I'm back with the daddy, Maury Povich and Connie Chung.

This is incredible. You're 73 years old.

CHUNG: Yes.

MORGAN: And you're -- forgive me for being --

CHUNG: Sixty-five.

MORGAN: Sixty-five?.

CHUNG: Sixty-five.

POVICH: It was a good secret. It was -- until now.

MORGAN: Amazing.

CHUNG: No, he's drying up and I'm leaking.

(LAUGHTER)

POVICH: Thank you. Where did you get that from?

CHUNG: Yes.

MORGAN: And Maury, what I like about you, you've done this show for 21 seasons. POVICH: Yes. Yes.

MORGAN: Ratings continue to go up.

POVICH: The best ever.

MORGAN: And you said this. When people attacked you and said, how could a serious news guy go and do this.

POVICH: Right.

MORGAN: You said this. "You just don't know me. I could be like you for the rest of my life. I decided not to be. I could be one of your elite journalist."

POVICH: Right.

MORGAN: "But for Christ sake I was for a long time. It's not the end all and be all."

I've always felt this. I hate the snobbery.

POVICH: Yes.

MORGAN: From serious news people towards anyone who does (INAUDIBLE) and branches out of that.

POVICH: And especially since the both of us grew up in Washington, D.C.

MORGAN: Yes.

POVICH: When, you know, politics and news was in our blood, it was a government town. We did a lot of that back then. And Connie always says to me, you know, you know, nobody --

CHUNG: Why don't you do a talk -- you know, an interview show like Piers Morgan or whatever, and you know, because he's a history buff, he's a political buff. You can ask him anything.

MORGAN: Exactly.

CHUNG: And he knows the answer. And I don't.

POVICH: But I just say --

CHUNG: And I -- he said --

POVICH: As long as Connie knows it --

CHUNG: As long as he knows -- yes. I know it, I'm fine.

MORGAN: Tell me this. You've both had these -- 75 years of experience between you on television. I want to ask you both, what's been the greatest moment of your TV career? Both of you. POVICH: Well, I don't know about you, but I will tell you. I still to this day, because I think I'm a child of the Cold War, a post -- you know, born before World war II but lived mostly after World War II, covering the fall of the Berlin wall --

MORGAN: Yes.

POVICH: -- was the greatest moment I have spent in all story telling of my career.

MORGAN: It was an amazing moment.

POVICH: It was something that, A, I never thought would happen. I wouldn't have thought it would happen in my children's lifetime. And for that thing to come down and the Soviet Union to just evaporate, was remarkable.

MORGAN: And Connie, was it the day you stopped working with Dan Rather or --

(LAUGHTER)

CHUNG: We were going around the dinner table one time and somebody said, what was the roughest, you know, manual labor job or whatever, and we were going around the table, and I said working with Dan Rather.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Well I've heard you say, that he was actually your greatest you'd ever get was Richard Nixon. Is that right?

CHUNG: Yes. That's true. It was right during Watergate, at the height of Watergate, and I was -- actually, I was probably going in to keep the White House seat warm for Dan. Because I was a cub reporter. And I was walking into the White House on the West Wing, where the press entrance is. And he's there. And there's Secret Service around him, you know, so I approach slowly and all the press starts pouring out of the press room. And I started asking him questions. It was fascinating because the Secret Service kept everybody else back.

MORGAN: And you got the scoop?

POVICH: Well, no.

CHUNG: No, no. You know what he said to me? I kept asking him Watergate questions and he wouldn't answer. The only thing he said to me was, how much money do you make?

(LAUGHTER)

CHUNG: And I said, $25,000? And he said, you should try to get more money.

(LAUGHTER)

CHUNG: Isn't that strange?

MORGAN: That was President Nixon for you.

CHUNG: Perhaps Watergate was a big one for me. And then if you take this case in Florida, one of the -- one of the stories that really did my heart good was it was a 1960s murder. Civil rights murder. We found out that the men who -- a black farm hand was killed and the man who was charged with his murder got off. We found out that it was -- that the murder occurred on federal land, so the FBI arrested him. He was indicted --

POVICH: Forty years later.

CHUNG: Forty years later.

MORGAN: Wow.

CHUNG: Convicted and sent to prison.

MORGAN: Great story.

CHUNG: And it was just -- you know to affect some kind of change --

MORGAN: Proper journalism.

CHUNG: Exactly. It's very --

(CROSSTALK)

CHUNG: That's what turned me on.

MORGAN: Now talking of turning you on, whose side are you on, Newt Gingrich or Robert de Niro?

(LAUGHTER)

POVICH: Well, we have -- first of all, Robert De Niro's partner is our neighbor in New York, so, Jane Rosenthal is a friend of ours. You know I don't know. I mean I just -- I'm so -- I'm upset at the year. I just don't think -- I think it could have been so much better, the political year. I just think it -- there are so many issues, and I just think one of the reasons why I'm kind of glad I'm not doing news is it's just -- there's too much venom. I mean I --

MORGAN: It's vicious, isn't it?

POVICH: It's -- I mean, I really believe -- I mean, Reagan -- Ronald Reagan believed in the 11th amendment. You don't go around calling your opponents lightweights. You just don't do that.

MORGAN: I could talk to you two a lot more than unfortunately we have time for. Will you come back?

POVICH: Absolutely.

CHUNG: I'd love to.

MORGAN: I'd love to talk to you more about America and politics and all that kind of thing.

CHUNG: Love to.

MORGAN: We just didn't have enough tonight, but please come back.

POVICH: Good to see you, Piers.

MORGAN: It's been a real pleasure.

POVICH: Nice to see you.

CHUNG: Likewise.

MORGAN: Nice to meet you.

CHUNG: I -- I broke my wrist. I'll give you --

MORGAN: I know. Give me a fist pump.

POVICH: Gosh.

CHUNG: Yes. I'm sorry.

MORGAN: Thank you both very much indeed.

POVICH: You're so cool.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: They still love each other. And "Only in America."

CHUNG: Where did you get that?

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Dan Rather.

CHUNG: No.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: We'll talk "Only in America" in a moment and silly jokes and apologies.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Well, tonight's "Only in America," I'm sorry. I'm really, really, really sorry about everything. Because one thing for sure. I'm going to offend somebody in the next couple of minutes. Somewhere out there someone is going to be really upset.

When did a harmless joke become a criminal offense? On the left, on the right, or on the GOP campaign trail, any attempt at humor is now met with instant ferocious condemnation and gaffes of (INAUDIBLE) outrage. Into the groveling apologies and desperate pleas for forgiveness.

Look at poor old Robert De Niro. Introducing Michelle Obama at a fundraiser, he had some fun with a joke about the wives of Republican candidates. Asking the crowd, do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady? May not have been the funniest joke in the world, but what it was quite obviously was a joke.

A light hearted flip on the type of remark that Mrs. Obama had to put up with in reverse from certain quarters in deadly seriousness for the most of the last election campaign. It was not as some have tried to portray an offensive racial slur by De Niro. Yet this didn't stop one of my guests tonight, Newt Gingrich, yesterday labeled the remarks inexcusable and divisive, almost compelling Michelle Obama's office to then call them inappropriate.

Now given this hideously politically correct overreaction, I confidently expected Mitt Romney's wife Ann, one of the three targets in De Niro's joke to have a similar sense of humor failure. This is politics after all. And an easy chance to make Democrats squirm. But then she said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANN ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY'S WIFE: I took it for what it was, a joke. And, you know, again, we take everything so seriously, we have to be so correct and everyone has got to apologize. We're all overreacting to so many things and making things so difficult. Which means we have to watch every single word that comes out of our mouth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Hallelujah. In one fell swoop of common sense, the whole indignant balloon popped. If Ann Romney, the supposed victim of De Niro's joke can laugh, why the hell can't everybody else?

Bill Maher, in a brilliant op-ed piece in the "New York Times" today cut to the heart of this nonsense. He is the one who (INAUDIBLE) said, in a country where nobody can say anything offensive ever again. He's pleading to stop all the apologizing. He said this.

"Let's have an amnesty on every made-up, fake, totally insincere, playacted, hurt, insults, slight and affront. Let's make this Sunday the National Day of No Outrage."

I couldn't agree more. Now this doesn't mean that people should be free to be homophobic or sexist or bigoted or racist. Well, that's a Rush Limbaugh or Kirk Cameron, even Maher himself with that ugly profanity about Sarah Palin, should be held to account for unnecessary inflammatory language, but with regard to all the innocuous asides of politicians, pundits, co-workers, your neighbors, let's just get a grip, shall we? Instead of pretending to take imaginary offense. Have a laugh. Go on. Robert De Niro, as Ann Romney said, was being funny. That's it. And that is it for us tonight. "AC 360" starts now.