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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT
Special Coverage: Jerry Sandusky Found Guilty; Andrew Sorkin and Jeff Daniels Talk about "The Newsroom"
Aired June 22, 2012 - 23:59 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN'S "ANDERSON COOPER 360": That's it for this edition of "360". Thanks very much for watching.
PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT starts now.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
PIERS MORGAN, ANCHOR: Breaking news tonight, Jerry Sandusky is guilty behind bars and destined to die in prison. Sandusky, the former assistant to football coach Joe Paterno, was convicted of 45 of 48 counts of abuse. The jury deliberated for nearly 21 hours before reaching that verdict.
And this was the reaction the moment when the public learned his fate.
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MORGAN: A short time later, a remarkable sight outside the courthouse as Jerry Sandusky was led away in handcuffs expressing no emotion. It's an extraordinary moment.
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MORGAN: I want to get to one of the man who defended Jerry Sandusky, his attorney, Karl Rominger.
Mr. Rominger, what is your reaction to the conviction?
KARL ROMINGER, ATTORNEY FOR JERRY SANDUSKY: Well, obviously, I'm a little am disappointed. I will take a little solace in the fact that the witness I cross-examined, Mike McQueary, did not sustain the count of sodomy that the government had promised which cost Joe Paterno his job. But, overall, obviously, we didn't do as well as we would have liked.
But we were rushed and underprepared based on the back discovery was given to us thousands of pages right before the trial started. But Joe Amendola rose to the occasion and gave a great closing, and we presented some key evidence and I believe that's part of the reason we've got the few acquittals we did in the 20 some our deliberation.
MORGAN: People have been raising a few eyebrows on Joe Amendola's conduct over the last couple of days. He seems to be taking a strangely frivolous view of what has been going on, laughing, joking, cracking jokes, saying today he'd have a heart attack if his client was acquitted. What was all that about?
ROMINGER: Well, you know, you have to understand, Joe has worked tirelessly. I mean, literally, the man has worked 17-hour days, dinner brought in to him at his home. I've seen the work he's done. He's one of the guys that has vetted all the tapes. He's one of the persons that found the silver bullet, so to speak, that we thought we had that showed the police misconduct.
So, if he appears frivolous on the surface, he has worked this case harder than any attorney I have ever seen.
MORGAN: Is your intention not to appeal?
ROMINGER: We will appeal. We have several technical legal issues, one of which involves an accuser eight and the use of a hearsay statement, the janitor. It invokes a confrontation issue. The judge clearly ruled against us but acknowledged that the law was very tight in the area and it may be a novel argument that the government brought forward.
The danger for the government going forward with eight, is if we are successful on the appeal, the entire set of charges is likely to come back for a trial.
MORGAN: Most legal experts are saying there's no chance of a successful appeal tonight. That has been the reaction so far.
ROMINGER: Well, I understand that. And what I will say to those experts are, I agree with them that an appeal is not going to be easy. What I would tell them, though, is they weren't in the closed sessions. They didn't hear everything that was put on the record and unaware of the actual record as it exists, because, frankly, a lot of it is in public.
MORGAN: It's been suggested that Jerry Sandusky wanted to testify ,wanted to get on the stand. But in the end, he didn't. Why was that?
ROMINGER: Jerry did want to testify but we never made a commitment in the sense we were 100 percent positive. I think at the beginning of the trial, we thought he would need to testify. After the trial was underway and when the government made known they had certain witnesses, and also based on the fact that the government was unable or unwilling to put in the entire NBC "Rock Center" interview, we made a strategic decision based on what we felt was a good punch against the investigation not to bring him to the stand.
So, no one thing that comes to mind, but I thought it was a wise decision because a good prosecutor can make an innocent man look pretty guilty on cross exam. So, Mr. Sandusky probably would have some trouble with Joe McGettigan.
MORGAN: Karl Rominger, thank you very much.
A dramatic resolution to a highly charged emotional trial. I want to play for you what Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly said tonight. She spoke outside the courthouse shortly after the verdict.
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LINDA KELLY, PENNSYLVANIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: One of the recurrent themes of the witness's testimony which came from the voices of the victims themselves in this case was: who would believe a kid? And the answer to that question is, we here in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, would believe a kid.
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MORGAN: We're going to look at the breaking news photograph. This is Jerry Sandusky in prison, his booking photo. A man behind bars where he is likely to stay for the rest of his life.
We want to go to Justine Andronici. She's the attorney for victims number three and seven.
What is your reaction -- perhaps more perfectly the reaction of your clients -- to Jerry Sandusky's conviction?
JUSTINE ANDRONICI, ATTORNEY FOR VICTIM #3 AND #7: I spoke with my clients as soon as I was able to leave the courthouse this evening, after hearing the verdict. I described the scene to them. And truthfully, in many ways, I think there is an element of disbelief, extremely relieved.
My client both expressed a great deal of relief that this has finally occurred. One of them said, thank God he is in jail. Another one said, it has been a long time coming.
So, a great deal of relief and I think gratitude to the jury for hearing what the adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse had to say in this courthouse.
MORGAN: It took a lot of courage for your clients to take the stand. And you can tell how emotional and painful it was to relive the experiences that they had to endure at the hands of Jerry Sandusky. What is your feeling about Sandusky?
ANDRONICI: My personal feeling about Jerry Sandusky is that this is the first time that he has ever been held accountable for what he has done. He got what he deserved tonight.
I believe that is how all my clients feel. I know that's how they feel. I believe this jury saw the courage of my clients and the other victims to testify in this case and responded. They got up there and they told the truth about something that many, many of those survivors and childhood sexual abuse victims keep all their lives. They told the truth in front of the world, frankly, and took a great deal of courage to do so.
MORGAN: Will they be pursuing civil action, either of your clients?
ANDRONICI: No, at this point, the facts are still developing. I have no doubt there will be civil actions. We have a dual justice system in this country. The civil system, I believe, will uncover even more information about who needs to be held accountable in these cases.
And at this point, we are just focused on this evening and tonight it is the victims' night. It's the night that Jerry Sandusky goes to jail, after many, many, many years.
MORGAN: It certainly is and my congratulations to you and your team. And also my very best wishes to your clients. You have had to endure this for a long time in their lives and tonight, at least, has seen the monster responsible and up or he should be behind bars.
Thank you very much for joining me.
ANDRONICI: Thank you. Thank you very much.
MORGAN: Joining me to respond to all this is attorney and author, Lisa Bloom.
Lisa, pretty dramatic scenes tonight. What is your sense of what should happen next?
LISA BLOOM, ATTORNEY: I'll tell you what should happen next.
You know, you talk about the monster of Jerry Sandusky. There are other monsters in the story. The adults to for the last 14 years knew there was a child rapist in their best and failed to act to protect children. Why? Because they wanted to protect the football team -- a football team over children that they actually saw being raped or they heard reports of being raped. I'm talking about local law enforcement, the campus police, the university administrators -- Piers, all of these people have reports and they failed to act.
And we hear tonight the children will be believed from law enforcement and Pennsylvania. And they were believed in 2012 and 2011, thank goodness.
But what about the last 14 years? You know, what about all of these adults who failed to act? Let's see them charged with child endangerment. There were child endangerment charges brought successfully in Philadelphia today against a priest to saw there was molestation and failed to act and failed to protect. You know, that's an important.
I'd like to see these adults who knew as much as 14 years ago this was going on and they failed to protect the children. I'd like to see them charge, too.
MORGAN: I think a lot of people feel that. And, also, one of the issues is here has been the hero worship towards Joe Paterno, one of the great coaches of all time has almost blurred the lines, I think about how this should be viewed. You know, I have never joined -- I did not hero worship him not because I look at them and he had clearly been aware of what was happening, and clearly either turned a blind eye or had willfully covered up with Jerry Sandusky was doing. And as a result, other young boys were abused.
You know, one of the witnesses in this case who said that he saw -- he actually saw with his own two is a child being raped in the shower by Sandusky said it was one of the most difficult decisions of his life whether he was going to go to the police or not. He didn't go the police.
Why is that a difficult decision? You see a child being raped and you think it's difficult whether to go to the police or not? What is wrong with this? Sports above the child being raped?
MORGAN: Also, putting aside the rape, which was witnessed, which people have contested about, the mere fact that he concedes and admits that he was regularly having naked showers with these boys --
BLOOM: Of course.
MORGAN: -- is abuse in itself. That's what I couldn't understand about this case in the start. He is already admitting a form of child abuse.
BLOOM: But there's a janitor who says he saw oral sex being performed by Sandusky. He told another employee, another adult. Neither of them went to the police because football is more important?
I mean, this is astounding to me and we have to call this what it is. It's child endangerment when an adult sees a child being assaulted or has good reason to believe that a child is being molested and doesn't report it. The time has come to round up those people and accused them of child endangerment, because that's what it is.
MORGAN: I certainly think the investigation should be carried on at a faster rate to get to the bottom of who knew what when and who cover up.
BLOOM: Not to mention law enforcement.
BLOOM: I mean, what are they afraid of? Are they so blinded by the aura of bib sports in this country that they did not do anything?
MORGAN: Let me go to Sara Ganim, who is the Harrisburg "Patriot News" reporter who broke the story.
Sara, you've been involved with this right from the start. You heard a highly charged Lisa Bloom there saying that others scouts should now be taken for what's been going on. What do you make of that?
SARA GANIM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's not about what I think, Piers. But I think that this is -- no matter what anyone says about what happened tonight, this is not a case that's over. And maybe with Jerry Sandusky, maybe he won't be charged again, something the prosecutors will have to decide.
But within this community, this isn't over. This is something that has affected Penn State. This is a very big case in a very small town. That's the bottom line. A very closed down.
Penn State University still has two officials who are charged with perjury and failing to report an incident, the one that you guys were just talking about. There is a potential for more charges. The A.G. was walking around, the attorney general was walking around tonight giving interviews and saying that there's an ongoing investigation. They are still interviewing people, people going before the grand jury.
We have heard from men who are coming forward as soon as this week saying that they, too, are victims. One of them was Jerry Sandusky's adopted son.
So, even though I think there was a sense that you could feel just because of the sheer amount of people who ended up coming to the courthouse to hear the verdict that they wanted some kind of closure, some kind of answers. I really don't think that this is something that's going to stop.
It's a story that we won't be talking about in this community. I think it's something that is ongoing. And it is going to be several years before it is resolved or we know really what happened, or who knew what exactly and when they knew it.
MORGAN: I mean, do you feel, Sara, that the conviction of Jerry Sandusky may open the floodgates now to a proper investigation in which people are far more forthcoming in the sense of Sandusky was a well-respected figure for a long time to this period despite what he was doing? Obviously worked closely with Paterno who was a legend and as I was saying, it just blurred the lines of how people have viewed all this. Now that he has been convicted of 45 different forms of child abuse, it may be that the conspiracy of silence has been operating and it may evaporate. What do you think?
GANIM: Well, I know that Jerry Sandusky's attorney got up on the podium behind and said that he is still innocent, that he intends to fight this on appeal. I know that many members of the community believe that he had no chance at a fair trial because of the massive amount of attention the case got.
And I know that, you know, as far back as 2011, early 2011, when we first broke the story at the "Patriot News", that he was under investigation, we were hearing the same kinds of things that you just said. When he is charged, people will start coming forward, the floodgates will open, and that didn't happen this time. You know, it didn't happen when he was charged.
So, I'm not quite sure. You know, this is a tricky situation because he was a high-profile figure. You've got a lot of the motion connected with Penn State. And you have a crime where historically, people don't want to come forward and don't want to talk about it.
So, it's a trifecta of a really tricky situation. Hard to predict.
MORGAN: So, you have done some terrific journalism on this. I congratulate you on that. Today is not a day for celebration for anybody, everyone is a loser in this awful case. But I do salute you and your journalism for bringing Jerry Sandusky to book. So, well done on that.
GNANIM: Thank you, Piers.
MORGAN: When we come back, the impact on the victims, the community, and what's next for Jerry Sandusky and Penn State.
MORGAN: He showed no emotion when the jury found him guilty and he showed no emotion when he's left from the courthouse.
That's Jerry Sandusky a short time after being convicted of 45 counts of child sex abuse. The verdict announced late Friday night.
With me now, Dr. Drew Pinsky, and, Michael Reagan, the son of the president, Ronald Reagan, who was abused himself as a child. Welcome to you both.
Dr. Drew, let me start with you. What's your reaction to the culmination of this trial?
DR. DREW PINKSY, HLN HOST: Well, I tend to think in terms of how victims and people who have been through this experience, how they're going to respond to it because I deal with that so much. And for people that are themselves victims, this could be a day of vindication. Not just for those that testified and who were victimized by Jerry Sandusky, but for other kids out there whose quietly suffer in silence.
MORGAN: Is Sandusky a classic pedophile predator?
PINSKY: He is, you know, in the extent that -- it depends on how you interpret what he is saying. I don't know that man. I haven't had a chance to evaluate him.
But certainly, there's tons about him that I just think about it this way. If you have a son or daughter and you find a grown man with that child in a shower, that's enough. That's all I need to know. You've got somebody who was in serious trouble at that point and probably does other things.
MORGAN: That to me was already a form of pedophilia.
PINSKY: Absolutely, 100 percent.
MORGAN: I have three sports mad sons. If any of them had any time -- they're all heading toward their teenage years, or about now, if any of them said to me, one of my older teachers is having naked showers with me --
PINSKY: Taking showers --
MORGAN: We would head straight to the head teacher.
PINSKY: We soap each other up once in while, what's the big deal?
It's a massive deal. It's a massive violation of personal body boundaries. It is somebody who is in serious trouble. If you notice, one of the psychiatrists who evaluated him said, well, I don't see histrionic personality disorder, which the defense claimed. But I do see the possibility of real serious psychosexual problems, which I think we know is the case.
Michael, you and I had an emotional conversation a few days ago about this. You yourself suffered abuse when you were 8 years old at a camp, and when you were reliving it with me, you got very emotional, understandably, because this kind of case that anyone has been through, this must bring back the sharpest of emotions.
What is your feeling seeing somebody like Sandusky be convicted, be brought to book?
MICHAEL REAGAN, WAS SEXUALLY ABUSED AS A CHILD AT CAMP: You feel vindicated. You feel, finally, they get it. Finally.
What happened (INAUDIBLE), he becomes our abuser, because we see Sandusky is the person who was never brought to trial, never in fact put behind bars. We have been the ones carrying the burden of our sexual abuse all these many, many years. And I so worried if he was found not guilty, you would find another generation of children who had been sexually abused remain silent for fear if they said anything, no one would believe them.
This is what the vindication is about.
MORGAN: Having been through it, what kind of courage did it take for these victims to get on the stand, do you think?
REAGAN: It is the most unbelievable amount of courage you could ever imagine, you see what I go through right now. I mean, this happened to me in 1953. And we are now in 2012. It is a closer time frame for them but it's like yesterday. You are reliving what happened to you yesterday afternoon, and helping people believe you.
MORGAN: And, Drew, Michael's reaction shows the depth of the scarring from these things.
PINSKY: It's unbelievable. I want to help people understand exactly sort of the two areas which become so powerful. One is kids that age when terrorizing experiences happened to them feel responsible. This is my fault, and the victimizers, the perpetrators play on that. They just, they groom them and let them believe they are in control of this.
This has nothing to do with the children obviously, but they believe they caused it, that something wrong with them, that's why it happened them. And then me as my core self, my sexual self, my self as a man, I have this horrible secret there is something wrong with me. These are tremendous burdens which stay with them the rest of their lives. They're wasting a lot.
Michael is obviously great, but this, it never fully goes away.
MORGAN: And, Michael, what are your feelings toward a man like Sandusky?
REAGAN: Evil, just pure, pure evil. That's what these people are, and people need to understand. You know, like you say, he didn't do anything, walking out of the trial did not smile, no emotion at all.
These people don't show emotion. They don't really think they're guilty of anything. This is their life.
PINSKY: They sort of believe the kids do want this. They want to participate.
REAGAN: In fact, we can on to them. We cause them to be in this situation.
MORGAN: And what they do is they -- these pedophiles very cleverly constructed relationship. We saw a lot of these boys saying when they were young, they would receive gifts from them, special notes and all this stuff.
PINSKY: You have special abilities. You are a special person. I see things nobody else sees, and then brings that end in a way that just --
REAGAN: My parents broke up when I was 3 years of age. Don (ph) taught me how to throw a football, taught me how to throw a baseball, taught me how to trampoline.
And when I took second place with a yo-yo, I did not think I could be a Reagan and be second to anybody. That's how I was raised. He traded in my second place for a first-place. My parents took that, framed it, and put it above my bed at the ranch. And that's where it was.
He used that to begin the process of taking me home and sexually abusing me that night he took some pictures.
MORGAN: Michael, thank you very much.
Dr. Drew, thank you very much.
Next, the sentencing phase for Jerry Sandusky and what this case means for America.
MORGAN: Jerry Sandusky, guilty of 45 of 48 counts, after the jury deliberated for nearly 21 hours.
With me now, psychiatrist, Dr. Janet Taylor, and Lisa Friel, the former chief of the Manhattan D.A.'s sex crimes unit.
Welcome back to both of you.
We talk a lot about this case in the last few weeks. Let me ask you, Lisa, first of all, you dealt with many sex cases like this in the past. What do you think of Jerry Sandusky? Is he a classic sexual predator?
LISA FRIEL, FORMER CHIEF OF MANHATTAN DA'S SEX CRIMES UNIT: Oh, absolutely. We are just talking, he is a sociopath. It is not that he does not get it. He has no emotions. He tells nothing about this.
He thinks that they betrayed him if he feels anything. He -- we've talked about this before with you. He groomed them like the classic child sexual predators, with all of the things we have talked about, the gifts and the places he took them.
But there's also a real emotional component to that Michael Reagan was talking earlier where they make -- the classic predator makes the child feel special and I'm the only one who recognizes how special you are. And you need me for that reason. And that becomes part of why these kids can't let go.
And there is the guilt that they know they took those guests and the predator place on that, please on the guilt.
MORGAN: Dr. Janet, you have had to cancel his that go to this kind of thing. Obviously the victims here are now adults. But what do you say to them to get over the experience they have had at the hands of this monster?
DR. JANET TAYLOR, PYSCHIATRIST: Truly is an experience that you can't necessarily get over, even reliving and the courage that they had to testify is retraumatization. But I think they should get help, professional help, lose the guilt, and take solace in the fact that they finally brought this monster to justice. And start there, and give themselves time.
I mean, it happened almost 14 years ago. Their recovery is not going to be overnight, but it is a huge start and for them and for their families. They just need to take it all in and get professional help and just step by step.
LISA FRIEL, FMR. CHIEF OF MANHATTAN D.A.'S SEX CRIME UNIT : And you know one thing, Piers, the fact that when they first came forward, they were believed by the authorities that this jury very, very quickly, in 20 hours, said, we believe all of you. That is going to help them heal.
I know Janet will say this, that victims who are believed when they first reveal what happened to them heal much better than victims who were disbelieved. TAYLOR: They do. But, you know, there are layers of trauma, many victims of sexual abuse, because of the silence, may turn to drugs, they may be depressed, they may have pent-up anxiety. There have been many ways that their lives have been upended.
So it is about putting it back together without the guilt and understanding that they are really now standing on a source of power. And that is the truth and justice and to move forward from there.
MORGAN: And, Lisa, you have been involved in the serious sex crime area for a long time. Clearly other people were culpable here in different degrees of severity. I think that you have a number of people around Penn State, around the sporting set up, whether it is Joe Paterno or others, who either turned a blind eye or deliberately covered up what was going on with Sandusky.
Also I guess there is a question of parental responsibility. We have had parents who were kind of aware that it was not quite right but didn't do anything. What do we do about that, do you think, looking forward, what do we do?
FRIEL: Well, I think this is an enormous opportunity for everyone has anything to do with children, whether its schools, whether its camps, any program that deals with children, to start educating the staff, the children, the parents.
It is the work that I am doing now. That we have to be proactive and get out there and tell the world about these predators, how they behave, talk to children from the time they are young in age- appropriate language.
But we really have to get out there and dispel the myth and tell people the truth. There is too much. Often people think it will never happen here. I am telling you right now there are schools, there are camps, there are places that are going, this could never happen here.
It can happen everywhere. And unless people are vigilant, unless they know the signs, and then they have the moral wherewithal to come forward when they suspect something and see something, this is going to continue.
And I think we have an enormous opportunity here because this case has been so publicized really all over the world, to finally do something really important to change this.
MORGAN: Dr. Janet, very quickly, about a Dottie Sandusky, who did take the stand, unlike Jerry Sandusky, and defended her husband, sort of practicing the "see no, hear no, speak no evil" philosophy of defense, I did not see anything, I didn't hear anything, do you think that she lied or is she just in some denial about all of this?
TAYLOR: Well, it is hard to say that she lied. I think there certainly is an element of denial, and possibly another aspect of her personality, maybe she is not the warm, caring individual that she portrayed herself to be, but someone who, in fact, is cold and maybe even colder than Jerry Sandusky in the fact that she could take in all of this information.
Probably, as much as we're talking about parents being aware, she lived in a household, she had to be aware of some inappropriate behavior. But she was able to put it away to a point that she couldn't bring up any questions.
So I think there is more to her personality as well, and the fact that she really was an enabler in some way to the heinous acts that he committed.
MORGAN: Dr. Janet, Lisa Friel, for now thank you both very much.
FRIEL: Thank you.
TAYLOR: Thank you.
MORGAN: We'll be back for more on the Sandusky case later in the hour. Up next, Aaron Sorkin and Jeff Daniels take on cable news and stars in the new HBO series "The Newsroom."
MORGAN: Truth, power, and the media colliding like never before in "The Newsroom." Aaron Sorkin gave us "The West Wing" and "The Social Network." Now he's taking on cable news. With me now, the show's writer and creator, Aaron Sorkin, and star Jeff Daniels.
Welcome to you both. So I was at the premiere of "The Newsroom" in New York. A very grandiose affair with all the great and good of the media there. Lots of cable news anchors racing to see how accurate this was.
And I think it's fair to say the general consensus was it was pretty darn accurate. People really enjoyed it. I found it a very sort of prescient thrilling reality check for me for what it's. To see it through the prism of your character, Jeff.
But I'm curious about your motives here. I'm an unashamed "West Wing" fan. I've said this many times on the show. It's a great privilege to have you here. But what are you trying to achieve with the cable news genre, if anything?
AARON SORKIN, WRITER & CREATOR, "THE NEWSROOM": I'm only trying to achieve one thing. I've got one goal. And that's to entertain the audience for an hour. We shoot our show on stage 7 at Sunset Gower Studios, that's the same stage where they shot "The Monkees." And we are going for the exact same thing.
MORGAN: But are you though? Because I always see underneath all this -- you say all this stuff. But I think underneath you do like to make a point. Some of the criticism in the reviews I've seen is not centered really around the show or Jeff or anything else, it's always about what they call "Sorkinisms." As if somehow this is some offensive new term for some of the more polemic stuff that you put in these shows, which I really enjoy. But I suspect some people don't. But tell me about that. Tell me about that criticism you get.
SORKIN: Well, I do enjoy it. First of all, I enjoy language very much. It sounds like music to me. And I enjoy oratory, and that's the reason for the long speeches. I grew up in a family where anyone who said one word when they could have used 10 just wasn't trying hard enough.
And I was the dumbest kid in my family. So I'd sit at the dinner table just listening to fantastic arguments like I was watching a tennis match. And I grew to really like that. I love the sound of a point really well made, of somebody saying, but you haven't thought about it this way, but think about that, but what if this were to happen.
As a writer, I grew up just wanting to imitate that sound.
MORGAN: There's a fantastic speech right at the start of episode one your character Will makes, Jeff. It's a real tour de force. He's trapped in this boring convention hall with students, and then he is goaded by the moderator into finally letting rip what he really thinks. Let's watch a bit of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE NEWSROOM")
JEFF DANIELS, ACTOR, "WILL MCAVOY": We didn't identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election. And we didn't scare so easy. We were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed by great men. Men who were revered.
First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: It was fascinating watching the room reaction. All these hard-edged newsmen. Actually, a lot of them sort of nodding along with that. Because it was a great speech. A classic, if you don't mind me saying, "Sorkinism"...
SORKIN: I don't mind.
MORGAN: ... at its very best. Because it really made you think, because you rattled off all these statistics about where America is not number one anymore. Made the point, it used to be a great country and it could be a great country again. But right now, it's not the greatest country in the world.
Let me ask you a difficult question. When you said it, did you believe it yourself?
DANIELS: It was interesting to do the speech, to work on the speech. That came late. There were some drafts where it wasn't there. There was something that happened at Northwestern that was referred to. And then I think it was one of the last couple of drafts before the pilot.
SORKIN: It was the last thing written.
DANIELS: Here comes the speech. Let's see it. I remember reading it going, you may not like it, you may disagree with it, you know, for those who are patriotic and wave the flag and don't want to hear it. But there's nothing in it that's not true.
And that went all the way -- each phrase, each thing that Aaron has will say, it's all true. Sorry to tell you, but it's true. So that really resonated with me. And to be able to say that. To be able to take words like the way this guy can put them together and throw it at the lens, throw it at an audience, it's -- for an actor, it's gold.
MORGAN: I mean, Aaron, you said, "I feel like a lot of news outlets have abdicated their responsibility, I've met people who want to carry that torch of Edward R. Murrow."
I suppose critics will say, look, you've got to live in the real world here a little bit in the sense that if you go to highfalutin with your news coverage, if you try and do it in the purest sense what your character does in this show, it doesn't rate. Especially if it's not big breaking news.
And I can tell you for a hard, unpalatable fact, that that is true.
SORKIN: No, I know it's true. But the good news is...
MORGAN: And it's hard. So how do you tackle that. Now you've had your toes dipped in our waters for a while. If you were running a news network, what would you do?
SORKIN: Well, first of all, let me just back up a little bit and say, I don't have to live in the real world. I'm a fiction writer. I get to write. So I get to write a Democratic administration that can get things done. And I get to write about a very idealistic newsroom where these guys reach unrealistically high so they fall down a lot, but we're still rooting for them anyway.
But there's no question that the antagonist in this show is -- doesn't come so much in the form of a person, although that's the role Jane Fonda plays and that's the role that Chris Messina plays. It's ratings. That if we have a problem in this country with the news, it's at least as much the consumer's fault as it is the provider's fault.
But the show doesn't live in the real world. It seems like it does because it's set against the backdrop of real news events. We never do fictional news on the show. It's all real. The characters are all fictional and not based on anybody. I know you were going to get to that question.
But it's -- they're constantly referencing "Don Quixote," "Brigadoon," and "Camelot." And the name of the cable station is Atlantis, and its parent company is Atlantis. And these are all imaginary lost cities.
MORGAN: Let's take a short break, come back and talk more about Will the (expletive deleted), and Aaron the genius.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People don't come here looking for handouts. We are a nation of strivers and climbers and entrepreneurs, the hardest-working people on earth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: President Obama speaking in Florida today. I'm back now with Jeff Daniels and "The Newsroom's" creator Aaron Sorkin. Hardest people on earth. Is he slightly deluded, President Obama? I mean, just talking up from your character's speech at the start of the first episode, are Americans still the hardest-working people on earth?
SORKIN: Well, I have no idea. I've never tested how hard other people in the world work. But it's good oratory.
MORGAN: You didn't write that speech?
SORKIN: No, I didn't. But Jon Favreau, not the actor, but the president's speechwriter, would tell you that Barack Obama is the best writer in any room that Barack Obama is in. I always smile when people have a problem with the teleprompter. He's the guy who wrote what's on the teleprompter.
MORGAN: Yes. Let's watch how this speech goes on. Because it's quite interesting what he then says.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: And nobody personifies these American values, these American traits, more than the Latino community.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Fairly shameless, I mean, I would have thought. Again, you could expect that to pop up in "The West Wing" at some stage as a campaign message. But I mean, for a president to be standing there today, deliberately pandering like that to the Latino community at a Latino conference.
MORGAN: Am I being too cynical here?
SORKIN: No, no, of course you're not. Listen, he's at a Latino conference. Governor Romney spoke there yesterday, I think. And they both need the Latino vote. But I will say that I -- it's nicer hearing that than hearing about the lazy Mexicans who come here who are draining our resources, selling drugs, and shooting guns.
You get up at 6:00 in the morning and see who's waiting at the bus stops. Any time a new hotel opens in town, see who's snaking around the block three times waiting for a job.
MORGAN: Have you ruined it basically for every American president by making Bartlett so likable, principled, and everything else that he was? Have you basically ruined -- do all of them now get unfairly compared to Bartlett? I've seen polls that Bartlett would have made president time and again.
SORKIN: Again, I have the benefit of fiction. I don't just get to decide what Bartlett says. I get to decide what everybody else says and does too. So it's a lot easier for Bartlett than for a real president.
MORGAN: Jeff, what is it like to work as an actor with someone like Aaron's words? Because he famously -- he strives over everything himself. This is absolutely his stamp on almost every word that you will be in the end acting.
DANIELS: Every word, yes. You memorize every word. That's the drill. I was doing a movie with Meryl Streep once, "The Hours." And we were going to walk through a doorway. The director, Stephen Daldry, said -- we had David Hare was the screenwriter, and they said, Meryl, just say a couple things coming through the door. She goes, what, I have to write it too?
DANIELS: And I've never heard an actor say that. And you had David Hare sitting over there. And David came up with two lines. She was thrilled. Why do I have to write it? And that's how you feel. You've got Aaron Sorkin. You've got a singular voice. You don't have a committee. You don't have executives noting him to death and you feel like somebody -- you don't have three or four writers on it. He's got every word on it.
SORKIN: By the same token, when I'm writing it, I get to know that Jeff is going to be playing it. That Emily's going to be playing it. That Tom Sadoski, John Gallagher, Sam Waterston, that these people are going to be playing it. So I can say, you know what, you don't need a half page speech here, it's going to happen on Jeff's face when he lights the cigarette.
MORGAN: I read an interview with you a few years ago and it was after the drugs bust thing that happened to you. And you were talking about, you liked to just disappear on your own. At the time, it would be with drugs. But you wanted to go to Vegas on your own, rather than go with other people, and just have a night in a clean hotel room, as you put it.
I mean, that is a strange thing to do. But why do you like that solitude?
SORKIN: Well, I liked it then because of the drug use. I didn't party with other people. I never did drugs with other people. I only did it by myself. Now solitude is about writing. Because so much of that process is thinking about what you're going to write before you write it. And I'm also a father now. So, you know, when I'm not working, I like to spend my time with my daughter.
MORGAN: And did you, like the Beatles, do your best stuff on the drugs?
SORKIN: You know what, I don't -- the last thing I want to do is make drugs sound good to anybody. But Bill Maher once said that drugs sure haven't hurt his record collection. And I don't think I did do my best stuff while I was high. But even if I had, if I was writing at Shakespeare level high and the hackiest hack level straight, I'll take not being high and a hack.
MORGAN: Have you arrived at a good place in your life now do you think?
SORKIN: Yes, I...
MORGAN: The hard way maybe, but you have?
SORKIN: I'm the luckiest guy in the world. Like I said, I love being a father. I get paid to do exactly what I love doing. Exactly what i love to do for free. And i get to work with the greatest people in my industry.
MORGAN: And without wishing to be too intrusive here, according to the photographs I saw after the premiere, you are dating a beautiful woman from "Sex in the City," is this true?
SORKIN: Every so often -- I am a single man. But every so often an otherwise brilliant woman will have a short lapse of judgment and agree to go out on a date with me and that's what happened with Kristin Davis, who was nice enough to be my date for the L.A. premiere the other night. That's where we are.
MORGAN: You make a very nice couple.
SORKIN: Thanks. We'll see what happens.
MORGAN: Aaron Sorkin, thank you so much.
SORKIN: A pleasure, thank you.
MORGAN: Jeff Daniels, thank you very much.
DANIELS: Thank you, Piers.
MORGAN: That's "The Newsroom," Sunday, on HBO, time?
SORKIN: 10:00 p.m.
MORGAN: 10:00 p.m. It's a terrific show, thoroughly enjoyed it, worried about my own feature, obviously, worried that Will is going to come and sit in this chair and most people going, yes, he's better than the real thing. But for now I'm prepared to help you promote it. Thank you, gentlemen. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
MORGAN: Let's recap our breaking news tonight. Jerry Sandusky is guilty. The former assistant football coach was convicted of 45 of 48 counts of child abuse. The jury deliberated for nearly 21 hours before reaching their verdict. A huge cheer went up from the crowd outside the courthouse when they heard the news and a short time later, Jerry Sandusky was led away in handcuffs.
It was a remarkable sight. He showed no emotion when he walked by the cameras, he is now in jail and will more likely to spend the rest of is life in prison. His sentencing is expected to be about 90 days away, he faces at least 60 years behind bars.
His attorney spoke out tonight, said he respected the jury's decision. He also said he plans to appeal the verdict. The jury chose not to speak tonight. Again former Penn State assistant football coach convicted of 45 of 48 counts. Jerry Sandusky is guilty as charged.
That is all for us tonight. "AC 360" starts right now.