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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT
Portrait of a President; Zimmerman Jailhouse Calls; Interview with Arsenio Hall
Aired June 18, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, who's the real Barack Obama? What you don't know about the leader of the free world. I'll talk to David Maraniss, the best selling author of the definitive look at Barack Obama's early life. What's different from the stories the president told in his own book?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID MARANISS, AUTHOR, "BARACK OBAMA: THE STORY": He said, David, you called my book fiction. And I said no, Mr. President, I actually complimented you, I called it literature.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Plus, bulletproof vest, money transfers, revelations from George Zimmerman's jailhouse calls. Will he make bail or stay behind bars? His attorney is here exclusively.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK O'MARA, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: He may spend the rest of his time in jail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: So remembering Rodney King. Arsenio Hall on what's changed and what hasn't since the L.A. riots 20 years ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARSENIO HALL: We became a better society through what Rodney King went through.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Plus, a big announcement about what's next for Arsenio.
And "Only in America," the family feud to end all fields.
This is "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT."
Good evening. Our big story tonight. Portrait of a president. President Obama is at the G-20 summit in Mexico. We also learned today that former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has been chosen to play Mitt Romney in an upcoming debate preparations.
Joining me now the man who wrote the book on President Obama -- is it truly? This is not the story the president told in his best- seller "Dreams from My Father." Pulitzer Prize winner David Marannis' book differs from that account in significant ways. He writes about Barack Obama's early years, his friends, his classmates, even his drug use. And eventually he found himself face-to-face with the president in the Oval office to talk about what he's written.
MARANISS: Thank you, Piers.
MORGAN: It's a fascinating book. Not least of which because it ends in 1998 as Barack Obama's driving to Harvard. Barack Obama doesn't even appear in the first seven chapters. And it's very -- I guess the confrontation isn't quite the right word. What it is, is a fascinating book to read next to the "Dreams" book. Because there are at least, I think, someone counted, 38 significant parts of Barack Obama's version of events that you take issue with.
The Republicans have jumped all over this, as you'd expect, saying, you know, this is evidence Barack Obama's a fantasist, a liar, he's made up half of his story. What is the reality about your findings in totality? In terms of the veracity of Barack Obama's story?
MARANISS: Thanks for asking it that way.
MARANISS: There are several mythologies that are -- true of almost anyone that one would study. But in this case, there's the mythology that Barack Obama himself portrayed in his memoir. And there's the mythology that his opponents have created to try to portray him as someone un-American.
As an historian, my goal is not to fact-check all of that but to tell the truth. And where -- let the chips fall where they may. So in the case of Barack and his -- and his memoir, the mythologies range from early on when, for instance, in high school, in his memoir, he says that he wasn't a starter on his basketball team because he played black and the coach coached white.
And I -- of course I discovered that in fact Barack Obama was about the eighth or ninth best player on that team. That he was one of the few players who couldn't dunk the ball. You know, and so it had nothing to do with race. Everything in his book is seen through the lens of race and that sometimes distorts things. Like the girlfriend that he writes about in his memoir in New York City. He sort of defines her through the lens of race. As a white woman who didn't understand his -- the anger of black people. The real girlfriend who is Genevieve Cook had a completely different perspective on race. And it was the one that he portrayed in the book. The other mythology of the -- of the right-wing birthers and so on is equally preposterous. I mean the fact that he was born in Honolulu on August 4th, 1961 is indisputable by the fact that any historian would look at.
MORGAN: And you have a lot of detail on that. I mean you've spoken to people who were actually in the hospital.
MARANISS: In the hospital who said that the remarkable thing was Stanley had a baby. Now that's the name of his mother. Stanley Ann Dunham. So the fact that someone named Stanley would have a little baby is what people remember from that.
There's one other document that's been completely ignored, which is the Immigration and Naturalization Service was watching Barack Obama senior during that whole period. He was on visa from Kenya. He was trouble for the INS because of various things that he was doing. So they were watching him every step of the way before and after young Barry was born. There's no way he could have left Hawaii and had a baby somewhere else and then come back. It just -- it doesn't fit with the documents.
MORGAN: To be fair to Barack Obama, when he wrote his huge selling book, he did have a little piece of the stars.
MORGAN: Saying, look, this is not 100 percent accurate book. I have morphed various parts together. Various characters and so on. It's very much a memoir done in that way. Not historical record.
How much should we factor that in to perhaps some of the things you've unearthed that aren't quite right?
MARANISS: He did say that in his introduction to his book. And you know --
MORGAN: Does that give you license, though, to --
MARANNIS: No, there's a fine line.
MORGAN: To retrain is the narrative?
MARANNIS: Well, he says he only changed the narrative -- used composite characters and compressed chronology in order to make the story smoother but in fact he did it for other reasons. And that's what I point out. When he, for example, would use -- exaggerate or enhance the role of a black figure in his life just to advance the story when, in fact, that person really wasn't much of a figure in his life, that sort of thing.
MORGAN: How significant is it that he has done that, though? Because --
MARANNIS: Well -- MORGAN: Opponents will say, come on, this is actually quite interesting. Because Barack Obama certainly portrayed himself as coming through quite a struggle when he was young. Your book makes it clear that actually it wasn't a struggle at all.
MARANNIS: Piers, we live in a really sick modern political culture. So what happens is the Obama opponents will dismiss my book as hagiography and then cherry pick every single thing in it that's negative about Barack Obama. I can't control that. I'm just trying to write the truth about it.
When I -- when I walked into the Oval Office to interview the president, he -- I gave him the introduction of my book to read and it talks about sort of those issues. And he said, David, you know, it's an interesting introduction you called my book fiction. And I said no, Mr. President, I actually complimented you, I called it literature. But there's a big difference between accurate rigorous historical biography and memoir. And that's all I'm doing.
MORGAN: What is the real Barack Obama like from what you discovered from 350 separate interviews with people who knew him very well?
MARANNIS: He's introspective, he's cautious, he's what I call a partisan observer in his own life. His mother was an anthropologist. He has some of that characteristic where you're both participating in life but you're observing it from above or somewhere else at the same time. It makes life seem sort of surreal in some instances for him. And you know he's even president and observing.
He also has a writer's sensibility which is much the same thing. That you're participating in life but also observing it. And that makes him cautious. It makes him a little bit -- seem a little bit cool at times, all of which comes across in his presidency.
MORGAN: Did you find him basically an honest man?
MARANNIS: I did. I found that, you know with the caveat of when in his memoir he would took license, in terms of my interview with him, he dealt with the questions honestly. He was not afraid of the truth. And if I presented him with something, he didn't try to -- he didn't try to say no, that's not the way it was, he said, you're probably right.
MORGAN: He talked about his drug abuse which he's admitted to himself.
MORGAN: Would you think he's got a bit of a free pass on that to some degree?
MARANNIS: Well, it's a different generation. I mean certainly the -- you know, the Bill Clinton generation had it a little bit tougher with that. And Clinton said you know, that he didn't inhale which actually from my reporting of that book he really didn't inhale. He's --
MORGAN: Because you wrote a (INAUDIBLE) --
MARANNIS: And Barack Obama's response, you know, a generation later, is that was the point, wasn't it, so I think that the country has moved on that. Although interestingly when the details of Obama's marijuana use came out in my book, people who support legalization were sort of upset with him that he's done so much dope smoking and now so hard on that issue.
MORGAN: How did you find the comparison between President Obama and President Clinton, having now immersed yourself in their lives?
MARANNIS: Yes. So --
MORGAN: There are all parallels. Both come from largely dysfunctional families.
MORGAN: Without fathers.
MORGAN: Clinton know how his own politics, it seems, from a much younger age than Obama.
MARANNIS: Completely. Clinton ran for every possible office in high school to the point where the principal had to go tell him you can't run for any more offices.
MARANNIS: When he was in college at Georgetown, he ran for class president so often that his classmates got sick of him.
Obama never ran for anything as -- until he got to Harvard Law School. In high school and in college at Occidental Columbia, you didn't see any political involvement at all. Finally, he's president of Harvard Law School. So it came much later.
But what I found most fascinating in contrasting them was, as you said, they both came out of dysfunctional situations. Bill Clinton dealt with that by just plowing forward. Forgiving himself every day and the world around him. Not dealing with the contradictions of his own life and those dysfunctions. That ability to survive and go on got him to the White House, got him in trouble in the White House, as we all know. And then he had the survival mechanism to get out of it.
Obama by contrast spent 10 years of his young life, from the time he got to college through Chicago, going to Harvard Law School, those 10 years intensively introspectively trying to resolve his own contradictions. He was pretty good at it. He worked it out. MORGAN: What is the single biggest negative that you think you unearthed in this book about Barack Obama? If you were thinking about whether to vote for him or not in November, what is the one thing where you thought, you know what, that isn't good?
MARANNIS: Well, I didn't see anything venal. So it's all relative. But what I did see was an extraordinary caution, and --
MORGAN: A timidity?
MARANNIS: Well, and a little bit -- you know, it's interesting because he always dismissed his mother as being naive but he came into the presidency with a little bit of naivete in terms of thinking that that grand speech he gave in 2004 bringing the whole country together, which in my book, in my interview, he said that he couldn't find a reason to exist if not for that universality.
MORGAN: But that caution you identified --
MARANNIS: But that gets him in trouble in the White House.
MORGAN: -- did you see that now in the presidency?
MARANNIS: With an occasional bold action which is also what everybody saw --
MORGAN: Like the bin Laden killing --
MARANNIS: Like bin Laden and like health care. But he sort of holds back quite a bit and then takes action. And that frustrates his supporters.
MORGAN: Conversely, what are the big positives that you found are consistent then to what he is now?
MARANNIS: What I've found that's positive largely is that he is a human being who's growing and learning. You know so -- I've run across a lot of politicians who just become more so of whatever they are. And I've seen that Barack Obama has the capacity to react and learn and grow. It's a slower process with him but I've seen it take place.
MORGAN: Mitt Romney is accused of being very secretive with his life. Interesting thing about Barack Obama is that you could level the same charge of him in some ways. He is actually not quite the open book you may assume from somebody who's written a parody of a book --
MARANNIS: No, that's kind of an interesting paradox with him. He's written this long memoir, revealing so much about himself. And yet in some ways not really. He's a very cool character. And his White House has been fairly closed. It's not an easy operation to get in and see what's really going on in there. And in so many ways that creates, you know, sort of frustrations for journalists. MORGAN: How normal is Barack Obama would you say? I mean, people sort of pick out all the headline grab -- the (INAUDIBLE) gang, the basketball, pot smoking group and so on in Hawaii. But actually these are all the little bombshells which leap out of the page.
MARANNIS: Well --
MORGAN: But in terms of his overall persona, he's always struck me as a fairly regular kind of guy.
MARANNIS: You know, I wouldn't put those in the outrageous category either. I mean growing up in Honolulu in the 1970s, playing basketball --
MORGAN: It's (INAUDIBLE)
MARANNIS: Pretty normal. Yes. So his opponents are the people who hate him. And there's a significant group that do for various reasons, try to portray him as sort of abnormal, un-American. There couldn't be a more American life in so many ways. I mean it is an immigrant country. He has -- he does represent all of the different strands of American life. And of the globe.
And, you know, I think that his family is -- you know, his life is an arc for a home. He started with a dysfunctional family. Without knowing his father. With his mother often gone. And you can see in this book the gradual arc toward finding his home, which is Chicago, personally, Michelle. She's sort of not even in this book and yet she's the magnet of his whole life. You can see him leading in that direction. Very normal.
MORGAN: The obvious -- the obvious question when you get to the end is, is there going to be volume two?
MARANNIS: There will be but I don't do quickie books and I want to wait until the documents are out and I can do it right.
MORGAN: Well, it's one to be researched, I have to say. It's an amazing piece of work because it just takes you to Harvard. And the fact you've managed to find so much fascinating material about him is extraordinary given all the attention he's had. So I congratulate you. It's a great read. "Barack Obama: The Story" by David Maraniss.
Thank you very much.
MARANNIS: Thank you, Piers.
MORGAN: Come back for the next one in four years time.
MARANNIS: I will. OK.
MORGAN: Coming up next, George Zimmerman's jailhouse phone calls revealed. I'll ask his attorney if the man who shot Trayvon Martin still has a chance of getting bailed.
MORGAN: New developments today in the Trayvon Martin case. Transcript of jailhouse phone calls and accused shooter George Zimmerman and his wife were released. In these calls Zimmerman instructs his wife to transfer money between bank accounts and tells her to buy a bulletproof vest.
Mark O'Mara is George Zimmerman's defense attorney. He joins us now exclusively at his first national TV interview since Zimmerman's wife was arrested and since the phone calls were released.
Mark, welcome back to the show. Obviously, a pretty significant --
O'MARA: (INAUDIBLE). Piers, how are you?
MORGAN: Yes, it's good to talk to you again. A significant day, I would say, in this case because the transcripts are either very significant or they're not. And you're maybe the man who can clear this up. Because the prosecution clearly think they are. That is why George Zimmerman is back in jail. That's why his wife is in hot water.
What is your reaction to these transcripts and to the prosecution's position over them?
O'MARA: Well, they are certainly significant to the one minor issue, if you will, of whether or not Shellie new about the amount of money that was in the accounts because clearly they show that she did. And we acknowledge that literally four days after the bond hearing, so by the 27th of May, we had acknowledged that.
MORGAN: Right. I mean the prosecution say that when they talk, as they do, let's play a bit of the -- one of the transcripts and I'll come to you after this, because we may as well hear this and I'll talk to you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, TRAYVON MARTIN SHOOTER: I thought you said there was something like 300 total.
SHELLIE ZIMMERMAN, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S WIFE: Huh-uh, no. Ken inflated it.
G. ZIMMERMAN: OK, so total everything, how much are we looking at?
S. ZIMMERMAN: Like $155.
(END VIDEO CLIP) MORGAN: Clearly, when they talk about $300 or $155, the prosecutions say you can add three naughts here. We're talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars. Do you dispute that? I mean is it -- is the reality that they do have hundreds of thousands of dollars?
O'MARA: There's no question that they were talking in this sort of simplistic kind of code where they were talking about $155 when, without question, they were talking about $155,000.
MORGAN: Right. So would you --
O'MARA: We've never contested that.
MORGAN: Right. Are they deliberately talking in code to hide the truth as the prosecution clearly believe?
O'MARA: Well, if you really want to look into it, I would ask the question, who are they hiding the truth from? They may well have been hiding from the jail, or the people next to him in the cell. Maybe Shellie had her own reason to be hiding from the people as she was talking to are around them.
But the reality is, in those 30 hours of tapes, 154 phone calls, there's not one phone call that evidences their intent to deceive the judge. Now, granted, they do not tell the judge the absolute truth. But if you listen to the tapes, there's not one tape there that suggests anything. As a matter of fact, there's one tape that we're going to bring out that shows that George said before you testify, pray first and tell the truth.
Now obviously the full truth didn't come out that day, though again it came out four days later. We'll deal with the fallout from that. But it truly has so little to do with what counts in this case, which is what happened the night that Trayvon Martin passed away.
MORGAN: I guess the problem that you have with your clients here is that it does matter the sense it's about their integrity as witnesses, as people telling the truth or otherwise. And there's no doubt that, you know, I watched that the live hearings, when they were asked about their earnings and so on, and the amount of money they had, and clearly, you were not given the impression they had much money at all. Which may have factored into the judge's behavior that day.
So I mean if you were putting a prosecutorial hat on, rather your current defense hat, you can see why the prosecution would be pretty agitated, can you?
O'MARA: No question, they did not tell a complete truth to the judge. And that attacks their credibility. And credibility is always an issue in a case like this. Grant you, credibility only deals with those subjective issues and the objective issue, the forensic evidence, the witness statements, the (INAUDIBLE) witness statements, the injuries, are more objective. They're not as susceptible to interpretation based upon credibility. But there is no doubt, Piers, as you say, that they did a great blow to their credibility in this case by being as frightened as they were and not trusting the judge and not trusting the system.
MORGAN: I mean it doesn't help you, to be brutally frank, does it not, that they appear to have lied in this, because when it comes to George Zimmerman defending himself and saying X, Y, Z, about what happened with Trayvon Martin, there will be critics now, understandably, saying, why should we believe you?
O'MARA: Absolutely true. I only hope that those critics give it a more global perspective which is what he was going through and what his family was going through, as to why they may not have been completely honest about the money, one, and sort of what they were facing. I mean after all the state was attempting to keep George Zimmerman in jail for the entire year leading up to trial. His mom and dad had been homeless virtually, thrown out of their house. Shellie thrown out of school. He's thrown out of his job.
So, again, it sounds like I'm excusing his behavior. I'm not trying to, but maybe an explanation and literally four days later, the first time that I spoke to him about the money, he owned up to it right away and transferred the money without question. So I think that sort of lends some rehabilitation, if you will, to his credibility as to why he did what he did.
MORGAN: How confident do you feel, Mark, that he clearly -- they lied to you as well for a period of time. They didn't tell you the truth. How confident are you --
O'MARA: Well --
MORGAN: -- that you can believe now what George Zimmerman has told you about, as you say, the more serious issue of what happened that night with Trayvon Martin?
O'MARA: I would tell you that as we know the conversation between client and lawyer are so privileged, but I will tell you this, that I had never asked him a question about that fund because I wasn't aware of it. So that when the first time I did ask him that question four days later, when we were closing down his Internet presence, the very first time I asked him he was immediately straight forward with it. He was actually only acknowledged the PayPal account existed before I asked about it and told me about it and transferred the money.
So, do I think that he's being straightforward with me? All the evidence and all the statements that I've had support that.
MORGAN: Do you fear now that he will not be let out on bail? That he could just be now in jail for possibly up to two years before this come to trial?
O'MARA: Judge Lester put his neck out for George Zimmerman. There's no question about that. He let him out on bond, he allowed him to stay basically in secrecy. He allowed him some additional freedoms upon his release. And George and Shellie maybe didn't realize that that favor was coming. Didn't trust that it would come. They might have believed the state more and their attempt to keep him in. But certainly they have know affected George's ability to be free. We now know that the earliest he may be released is the 29th. So he'd spent a month in jail. And you're right, he may spend the rest of his time in jail if Judge Lester decides he can no longer trust him.
MORGAN: Let's take a short break, Mark. Want to come back and talk to you about other parts of the transcript. Particularly the revelation that George Zimmerman suggests to his wife, have you got the bulletproof vest? Not just for them, but also for you, because of all the threats that are coming in. Want to get your reaction to that. And also your reaction to the other case going on, the Jerry Sandusky case, some big developments there today. I'm interested in your reaction to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
G. ZIMMERMAN: Get on it ASAP, because you know the -- first of all, I want you wearing one.
S. ZIMMERMAN: OK.
G. ZIMMERMAN: As uncomfortable as it is, I want you wearing one. Second of all, I want O'Mara having one.
S. ZIMMERMAN: OK.
G. ZIMMERMAN: And third, I would like to have one at least here.
S. ZIMMERMAN: Absolutely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: So, Mark, we just listened to that tape there. Obviously pretty concerning, that George Zimmerman believes he needed to have bulletproof vest not just for him and his wife, but also for you. What was your reaction when you saw the transcript?
O'MARA: Well, Piers, they truly take this very, very seriously. There have been a number of threats both by e-mail, television messages to them. And they're concerned about it. And I understand that they want to protect those they care about. I'm in that category now as well.
MORGAN: Are you concerned about serious threats to your life?
O'MARA: This is what I do for a living. I've represented people much, much more nasty than George Zimmerman ever has been or even considered by those who don't know him. I just hope -- I believe in the process. George now does as well. I can't ignore the fact that I have a heightened level of concern for some of the security. But we're just going to keep doing our job, get all facts out and let a good jury decide.
MORGAN: One thing that comes over in the transcripts, in the six lengthy transcripts released today, they clearly have a pretty solid marriage still, George and Shelly. How would you describe their relationship?
O'MARA: To the extent that I know about, they are good. It's funny, but trauma brings people even closer together. I know in my own life, when I've had trauma in family and deaths and what not, it brings you closer together. So I think that may have a common goal of trying to show George who he is and not who people have said he was. I think that will bring them closer together.
MORGAN: Let's move to the other big story, which is the Jerry Sandusky case. You've obviously been watching this from afar. You're not personally involved in it. But the prosecution rested. The defense got up today and have begun trying to pick holes in the witness' testimony and their time lines and so on. Also trying to play out this -- this affliction they claim Jerry Sandusky that suffers from, histrionic personality disorder.
What do you think of that strategy by the defense?
O'MARA: It may be the one strategy they have. It's a very difficult one, because you've got to convince a jury that all of these behaviors by him are now explained away by some personality trait. Quite honestly, I think it's -- juries have a tough time with that. We have a standard of insanity. And if you don't have a standard of insanity, something less than that to try to explain away that type of behavior, it's going to be very, very difficult for a jury to believe.
MORGAN: How credible have you found the witnesses so far?
O'MARA: The witnesses for the prosecution I found them to be very credible. Even if there are some inconstancies or some failings in what they testified to, the core testimony has been very believable, and of course very consistent with other witnesses' testimony. So that gives it an extra level of credibility.
MORGAN: The prosecutors have apparently asked for the unaired portions of the infamous interview that Jerry Sandusky gave to NBC's Bob Costas. When I read what hadn't aired, many people are saying -- I mean, it's hard to disagree. It borders on a confession what he is saying there. How relevant do you think that could be?
O'MARA: I think it's very relevant. I think it's probably going to come in. We need to question whether or not he's going to testify. But if that happens, then I think it will come in. And I think that type of off-hand, almost ad hoc statement is going to be -- or could be very devastating to him because, like you say, it is very close to saying, I didn't do it to everyone.
MORGAN: Yeah, he basically implies that he didn't touch all the boys. But the implication is he did touch some of them in an inappropriate way. O'MARA: The prosecution is certainly going bring that implication to a jury. And I think a jury can consider that. And it's one of those statements out there that the defense I'm sure never wanted out.
MORGAN: The, I'm sure, defense are weighing up now the possibility of putting him on the stand. Would you, if you were defending Jerry Sandusky, risk him on the stand?
O'MARA: These are very difficult cases generically to have a client or defendant testifying, because there are so many land mines that are going to occur with the numerous witness who testified. My gut would be that I would not put a client on the stand in a case like this unless there was some reason why it absolutely had to happen, realizing the enormity of the risk. And there is just too much risk in this case.
MORGAN: Yes, I think you're absolutely right. Mark O'Mara, as always, thank you very much for your time.
O'MARA: Sure thing. Great seeing you again. Thank you.
MORGAN: Thanks to Mark O'Mara. Coming up, Rodney King and the L.A. riots. Arsenio Hall remembers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Have you forgiven in your mind the policeman that did what they did to you?
RODNEY KING, VICTIM OF POLICE BRUTALITY: Oh yes, I have forgiven them, because America has forgiven me for so many things And gave me so many chances. I've been in the country all my life. And it's one of the -- one of the wonderful things about it is you get to have a second chance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: That was Rodney King on this show just two months ago. He died at his Los Angeles home over the weekend. He was the man at the center of the L.A. 20 years ago. My next guest remembers that time very well. Arsenio Hall joins me now exclusively.
Arsenio, great to have you on the show. We're going to come to a major announcement about you and your career a little while later. But first, let's talk about Rodney King, because I felt very sad when I heard the news over the weekend about his death. I spoke to him very recently. In many ways, he was this iconic symbol, wasn't he, for race in modern America?
ARSENIO HALL, FORMER TV TALK SHOW HOST: Not only an iconic symbol, but I think he actually, unbeknownst to him when he was doing it -- I think he changed this city. You know, I'm involved with the police force and the community. And that whole collaboration came about through the problems created that night when he was being beaten on that street. We became a better society through what Rodney King went through.
And it's interesting because he got a lot of criticism back in the day for saying, "can't we all getting along?" I know a lot of brothers like me was like, forget getting along. They just whipped your ass. But you know what, that will be his legacy, the legacy of peace, the legacy of people getting along. It sounded corny then, but I'm glad he said it.
MORGAN: I spoke earlier to George Zimmerman's lawyers, Mark O'Mara. There's a case I guess where people have try to make it about race. Do you believe that in the end it will be seen as a race case, that case, the Trayvon Martin killing?
HALL: Well, I think in this country, it's hard to escape race whenever you have a child who's killed by a man who is not an African- American. Race works its way into things you would never, ever believe, Piers. But I love the direction that it's going, because we're starting to get the truth. And that's what's important ultimately, that we get the truth, and we make sure that our children don't continue dying senselessly.
MORGAN: You knew Rodney King well. You took part in a VH1 documentary with him. Let's take a look at this. It was from "Uprising, Hip Hop and the L.A. Riots." Let's watch a clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HALL: You could see smoke and you realize, OK, it's on. Those people in Beverly Hills that were nervous. There's people in the big pink hotel on Sunset that were nervous, because the riot wasn't confining itself just to the ghetto, you know. Black people were starting to say, hey, suppose we don't just (EXPLETIVE DELETED) up our neighborhood.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: As you say, times have changed a lot. One of the crucial parts of the Rodney King thing was it was captured on video, which was relatively new at the time, wasn't it? I think that's played a huge part in tackling blatant racism in the streets, because now there are CCTV cameras everywhere. Everyone has a cell phone which has a camera or a video.
HALL: Yeah, those little phones have changed our lives. I remember when this happened. And I thought to myself, oh, we got them now. We finally have something on video that is impossible to capture on video, because then it was -- it was rare that a man named Holiday had a camera charged and ready. And then I think this concept of cameras contributed to the anger and the unrest. Because the fact that we had it on video and this man was still -- these men were still set free created a big problem.
MORGAN: Rodney King, I mean, he was quite a sad character in many ways. I definitely got that feeling. His book was very moving. I think he didn't want to be famous. He didn't want to be notorious. He didn't want to be involved in that incident at all. He certainly wasn't blameless. By his own admission, he had lots of problems with substance abuse and alcohol and run ins with the law and so on.
You said his legacy will be that things -- people did get along better. What do you think of the way his wife unfolded in the end? How much was it affected by what happened that day, do you think?
HALL: You know, I felt bad for Rodney. I even felt bad the way he died. I remember B roll, or footage as we call it in the business. I remember B roll of him in a pool that was circulating a while back. I remember hearing that he loved to swim and he was comfortable in the water. The most shocking thing would be to find out that he drowned.
So I guess we know all the facts. But the whole back half of his life was kind of sad. I don't think this was a bad guy, Piers. I think this was a good guy. This is a guy who actually I've heard apologize to the people and happy that people forgave him for what he did. And this is a guy who got beat, you know. He was a sweet guy. He had a good heart.
MORGAN: I Tweeted about him to that effect, saying he seemed a very nice, unassuming man to me. I was quite shocked by some of the vitriol that spilled out actually from other people on Twitter, all saying he wasn't a nice guy. He almost deserved what happened to him. That's why I'm not so sure how far we've moved. I was like, wow, this is not good.
HALL: Piers, let's keep in mind -- because I heard a man on the news say that this morning. This is a guy who was driving too fast. He was probably avoiding apprehension or being apprehended, because he had priors and he didn't want to go back to jail. But what he got is not justified. That's not what speeders get.
And I don't understand people who hated him, because, hey, driving too fast and -- obviously had a substance abuse problem. The bottom line is, he didn't deserve that. I think deep down inside, there was a sweet warm heart, because a lot of brothers when given a microphone and a lot of cameras wouldn't say "can't we all get along."
MORGAN: I think that's absolutely right. I think that if that is his legacy, it's a very powerful one. May God rest his soul, Rodney King. I enjoyed meeting him. It's a real tragedy that his life has ended so early.
Let's take a break, Arsenio. I want to come back, happier news. You have a massive announcement to make. I couldn't be happier. I just want to know whether it's more down to me or Donald Trump. Don't give it away. We'll come back after the break. I like the way your finger's pointing.
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HALL: There are people out there like Jones Rivers and Piers Morgan. All of their success shines a light on the banner that you gave them. And I'll be out there too giving it 100 percent, fighting. I'm a guy who's been on the cover of "Time Magazine" and "Rolling Stone." But not only that, I've been on the cover of "Wall Street Journal." I have lived the life of "The Apprentice." I just need the title now.
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MORGAN: Arsenio Hall there making his bid for glory as the winner of "Celebrity Apprentice." something which I know all about, obviously. I was the first. Let's just discuss this big announcement, because I'm very excited about this. I had you on the show before you won "The Apprentice," and again briefly afterwards. You lit up the screen. It reminded me of the glory days when you had this amazing, edgy, fast, funny talk show.
All I kept thinking as I watched you talking to me was this guy should be back doing this. I believe you have an announcement for us?
HALL: Yes. I am going home, Mr. Morgan. I am returning to CBS, to the exact place I did "The Arsenio Hall Show." And I'm doing "The Arsenio Hall Show" again.
MORGAN: That's absolutely brilliant news. And I'm so thrilled because I know what it means to you. I've had the pleasure of getting to know you. You're a great guy. I know that you've just been itching for a chance to go back, but do it in a new way, right?
HALL: Yes. And I want to thank you, not only for letting me come here and tell the world that I'm coming back. But I want to thank you for all your help during "The Apprentice." I don't know if I'm supposed to say something like this. But I called you and asked for advice. You gave me a piece of advice. You said read everything about Mr. Trump. And I did.
You have no idea how many times in the board room or in a situation of business crisis I was able to throw a quote of his at him. When you look at Donald Trump and you say, sir, "never sit on the tarmac without a flight plan, be ready, know what you want to do." And he would look at me and say, this brother is ready. And I had my birth certificate too. So I was ready for anything. You told me to do that.
MORGAN: When did you get the offer? When did it all start to happen?
HALL: Well, I actually went to CBS about two years ago and told them that I wanted to come home. And it took a while. I had to host your show, for instance, to let people see me do that again. You allowed me to interview Magic Johnson and Cookie Johnson, to talk about his 20 year announcement. It was a lot of fun, but it let people see me do it, and be reminded that I can.
Little things like sitting in for a week when Billy Bush went away at "Access Hollywood." Finally I got the call and they said, we're ready. We think we can sell this to stations. Then I went away to do "Apprentice." That could have been the kiss of death, because if you're fired the second week, maybe that tarnishes what you're creating and these building blocks that you're putting in place.
But you know what, the stars were aligned, and God was in the boardroom, because I won that thing, or at least I got to the end with my friend Clay Aiken. And the bottom line, that was the icing on the cake. At that point, all my stations signed on. I think after "Apprentice," 52 percent of all my stations in America reupped and they were ready to bring me back.
So I'm excited. I thank you, I thank Mr. Trump. And I think America, because I had a lot of love and support during that. I'm having a lot of support to come back. I'm on cloud nine right now. This is the best. This is better than the first night of the show, because it's all good right now.
MORGAN: What is amazing is you were last on air with a talk show in 1994. You don't look a day older. What is the secret to you avoiding the aging process?
HALL: I drink my own urine. No. I don't know. I saw a boxer do that, it came to mind. You know what? I live clean. There's a part of me that thinks that going away for a while kind of keeps you young. I think if I had stayed, I would have Jay Leno's hair right now.
MORGAN: Arsenio, I couldn't be more thrilled for you. I think it happened to a genuinely nice guy. I think America is ready for Arsenio part two. When will you hit the airwaves?
HALL: I will hit in 2013, the fall. I got a little time to write a theme song, get the set ready and book Jay-Z and Beyonce's baby for the first night.
MORGAN: This is what worries me, because I wish you luck but not too much, because otherwise I'll be talking myself out of a job. I'll have created a monster.
HALL: No, no, no, because I'm on earlier than you. Plus, you're on like 50 times all over the world. You have no problem. And you're doing a great job, by the way. I love to watch you.
MORGAN: Thank you, Arsenio. I really congratulate you. It's an amazing story. Everyone will be thrilled to see you back. I look forward to that. Thanks for coming on and sharing the news.
HALL: Thank you, sir.
MORGAN: Take care. Arsenio Hall, great guy. Coming up next, Only in America, the biggest family feud in this country's history.
MORGAN: Tonight's Only in America, family feud. In fact, it's the most famous family feud in the history of this country, the battle between the Hatfields and the McCoys. It began on the West Virginia/Kentucky border after the Civil War. The clans fought over land, over timber rights, even over a stolen hog. Over a dozen people were killed, eight jailed and one hanged. And the grudge match got the Hollywood treatment recently when the History Channel aired it as a mini series starring Kevin Costner. Let's take a look.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You two don't mend what's wrong between you, hellfire's going to certain rise up, consume both our families.
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MORGAN: The finale of that mini series drew a stunning 14.3 million viewers. Now the descendants of the warring clans are turning tragedy into tourism, with bus tours, reenactments, even a marathon run pitting Hatfields against McCoys. IN the only true mark of success these days, producers are casting descendents of the once mortal enemies to star in a proposed reality TV show together.
The story of the Hatfields and McCoys is a story of honor, justice, blood and vengeance. It's also a story of opponents who finally found a way to bury the hatchet and not in each other's heads.
Today's politicians could perhaps take heed. If the Hatfields and McCoys could finally find peace, I reckon the Republicans and the Democrats could give it a go too. That's all for us tonight. "AC 360" starts now.