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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Rating the Oscars; Tomorrow Marks One Year Anniversary of Killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida

Aired February 25, 2013 - 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: Tonight, the winners, the losers, and the moments you just had to see to believe.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JENNIFER LAWRENCE, BEST ACTRESS WINNER, "SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK": What went through my mind when I fell down?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

LAWRENCE: A bad word that I can't say. That starts with "F."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Plus Michelle Obama's hush-hush Oscar appearance shocks a jaded Hollywood crowd.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN AFFLECK, DIRECTOR, BEST PICTURE "ARGO": I was just asking these two guys outside, like, was that Michelle Obama?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Has the first lady jumped at political showbiz shock. And last night's unexpected star. Now my exclusive with a man who has named checked more than anyone except maybe a little called Oscar.

Plus the case who got this country talking about. Guns and stand your ground. Trayvon Martin one year later.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's dead, been shot. The person is dead, laying on the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just because he's laying on the ground --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Tonight, my exclusive with Trayvon's parents.

And keeping the faith with rumors and scandals swirling at the Vatican. Can a new Pope revive a church in crisis?

This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT."

Good evening. You're looking at one of the most iconic spots in this town and of the world. The famous Hollywood sign. What a weekend it's been in the movie capital of the world, Los Angeles. I'll also tell you of course about the experience of being on the red carpet with the biggest stars in the world.

Suddenly as -- in showbiz, really, I mean, (INAUDIBLE) but talking to them as they head into the Oscars with panic in their eyes, with hope and expectation. It was one of those great unscripted moments that you just can never repeat, until the next year.

The Oscar moment that really everyone was talking about afterwards was Michelle Obama announcing the winner of Best Picture. It even surprised "Argo" director Ben Affleck. Take a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AFFLECK: The whole thing kind of overwhelmed me at the time, but in retrospect, you know, the fact that it was the first lady who was an enormous honor and the fact that she clearly surrounded herself by service men and women was, you know, special, and I thought appropriate. Myself, anyway, it was very cool.

GEORGE CLOONEY, CO-PRODUCER, "ARGO": It was really cool.

GRANT HESLOV, CO-PRODUCER, "ARGO": I am a big fan of the bangs, so --

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: We'll talk more about the first lady's controversial appearance in a few moments. We want to bring in now Nancy O'Dell, the tireless host of "Entertainment Tonight, Krista Smith, the senior West Coast editor at "Vanity Fair."

Nancy, Let's start with you. I say tireless. You've just told me you've been up for 36 hours straight without a break.

NANCY O'DELL, HOST, "ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT": This is true. I literally have not gone to bed. I was there --

MORGAN: And yet you still look flawless.

(LAUGHTER)

O'DELL: Bless you. And this is why I love to come visit you.

(LAUGHTER)

Now I was told you were going to sing "Happy Birthday" because it is my birthday. MORGAN: I -- you know what, I'm so tired from the weekend's festivities.

(LAUGHTER)

O'DELL: I got so sleep and -- so there is no excuse for you. I think he's going to do it by the end of the show.

MORGAN: Now what about you? I loved the Oscars last night because I thought it was unpredictable in terms of the award winners. Seth MacFarlane unpredictable. All of it seemed to be unpredictable. And this morning I woke up to half people saying I loved it. The other half, it was the worst we've ever had. Perfect show.

O'DELL: Yes, you know, there was a mixed reaction from our viewers as well at "Entertainment Tonight." We have people who said they loved Seth MacFarlane as the host. Other people said that, you know, they wanted him to be a little more risque, a little more edgy. Other people said they thought that he was a little too much that way.

So it's such mixed reaction. I thought he did a great job. I love the fact that he took this ceremony and he made fun of a lot of things and he did it, you know, where the Oscars are the ceremony that's known as being the one that is the stiffest and the most formal. And so --

MORGAN: And so predictable.

O'DELL: Yes.

MORGAN: The thing about Seth I liked, and the thing is if you know Seth MacFarlane -- you know him from "Family Guy," from "Ted" the movie, and so on, you know what you're going to get. If you don't know about him very much, I can imagine he's a bit of a culture shock. But what I liked was it was unpredictable. I was just tuning in waiting to say what the hell is -- well, he did an early song called "Show Us Your Boobs" or whatever it was, and everyone was going, what, you can't do that at the Oscars. He just did it, everyone.

O'DELL: No. It was a great thing, and I loved the ending, too, where they paid tribute to the losers as they call them. I mean, who would ever predicted that song in the end. And it was something different and unusual, and I remember as I was watching that thinking, I wonder how the Academy is going to react, the people who had been nominated, not the Academy, obviously. They knew he was going to do that. But to -- and everybody seemed to love it. You know, being at the "Vanity Fair" party last night, I was talking to a lot of the celebrities who were there. You know, of course, everybody goes there.

MORGAN: Well, we'll come to Krista in a moment.

O'DELL: Yes.

MORGAN: It is the party, obviously.

O'DELL: And is the party.

(CROSSTALK)

One reason I was out so late.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Yes. Exactly.

(LAUGHTER)

O'DELL: But they were saying that they really liked him. They hope that he comes back for a second time because they really enjoyed it. So they got the thumbs up from the celebrities from what I saw.

MORGAN: What was -- what was your most memorable moment of the whole day, do you think?

O'DELL: I think -- well, I think probably it's going to be the memory that everybody is going to remember, and that's Jennifer Lawrence, you know, tripping as she goes up. And the reason I say that is not because you know, oh my gosh, this is a big moment in this woman's life and here, this happened to her. I think because of her recovery, and it is what makes her so charming, and what you want -- why you want to pull for her.

MORGAN: Let's take a -- let's take a look at the famous Jennifer Lawrence tumble here. We've got a little clip of this, I think.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAWRENCE: What went through my mind when I fell down? A bad word that I can't say.

(LAUGHTER)

That starts with "F."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That's her talking about her tumble. There's a still picture of the tumble because she nearly had her dress ripped off, I think, at the Globes. Isn't it? One of her other awards. So she's really on a roll now of complete chaos. I had her on the show. She was chaotic on that in a really delightful way.

Krista, somebody like her comes along, not very often, I think, in movies. She's really sincere, she's great fun, she's a smart cookie, and she's a great actress.

KRISTA SMITH, SENIOR WEST COAST EDITOR, VANITY FAIR: Well, I think that moment when she tripped, obviously, it wasn't planned, but it only made her more relatable. It's every girl who sees "Hunger Games" and loves it, and people that -- it's the kind of -- she's like a freight train. People just fall in love with her every step more and more and more and more and more. And I think that moment, she was so human. It's like oh my god, she's in this gorgeous gown and she trips at her biggest moment in her career. She --

O'DELL: Then she calls them out on it.

SMITH: Yes.

O'DELL: And said, you know, here, you're giving me a standing ovation. I know why you're doing it, it's because I tripped and I'm so embarrassed. And she's so honest about it.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: The press conference was just classic. I mean she just (INAUDIBLE) to everybody. It was also a brilliant clip of her being jumped by Jack Nicholson in an interview, where she's so delightful again, oh, my god, he's Jack Nicholson. I think she's terrific.

Let's talk Anne Hathaway for a moment because there's another wonderful actress at the top of her game, won an Oscar, and yet inspiring a kind of slight resentment. Why is this? Why is she getting a bit of a kicking?

SMITH: Well, I think it's a little unfair. Everyone wants to say, like the Web and the Twitter, everybody hits up about her being annoying and then not liking her speeches. It is so hard. I mean they are on this circuit from the time they're promoting this movie and she's doing speech after speech, after speech -- dress after dress after dress. But I think at the end of the day, Anne Hathaway has an Oscar. She's supremely talented. She's Hollywood's it girl, and whoever is commenting on the Web, they're still going to go see her movies. She's a big star.

MORGAN: Nancy, what is it? Why are we so bitchy about Anne Hathaway?

O'DELL: You know, it's funny because we have this conversation at the show all the time because I'm always in defense of her because I have loved interviewing her and I think she's very sweet ad she --

MORGAN: I (INAUDIBLE) on the red carpet. She was --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Showed me her naked back. I was all for it.

O'DELL: But the general public has this view that I think -- that she's affected. And I think it's just sometimes the way she does her speeches, but she's really not that way, but I think it's the way she had done it, kind of in a whisper and the way that she -- she should talk --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: She's an actress. I mean, I said look --

O'DELL: Yes. And she's very theatrical, that's how she is.

MORGAN: -- you can't expect actresses to be that sincere.

O'DELL: Yes.

MORGAN: I mean, I think Jennifer Lawrence is an exception. But most of them came up there --

SMITH: Well, she's also 22. You have to remember she is --

MORGAN: Right.

SMITH: She's just brand new. Anne Hathaway has been at this for a decade.

MORGAN: Right.

SMITH: They understand this, they understand the ceremony of it. I mean, the reason why everyone loves Jennifer Lawrence is because she is all kind of youth and this giant cult coming at you. And --

O'DELL: And that's why we pray she won't change.

SMITH: Right.

O'DELL: You know, because they do, after a while. They start changing and they become very formalized.

SMITH: And more guarded.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Let's turn to the "Vanity Fair" party because it was a great moment when Ben Affleck came in with his Oscar and everyone began cheering and clapping. It's a real kind of affirmation of greatness. Because I think everyone is in that room. Ben Affleck is a great comeback story, isn't it? Really, it's a classic comeback Hollywood success story.

SMITH: Well, I remember it was 15 years ago maybe, I can't -- or even longer when he came in and there was this great shot of him and Matt in hour party, like, yes, with these little fresh faces. And so for him I thought in his speech, it really who could top Daniel Day- Lewis? Ben Affleck.

I mean, when he came on, it was just like, when you're down, you've got to get up because he is the Bennifer, the "Gigli," all of that, and here he is with this Oscar. He's basically anointed as the next Clint Eastwood. He can act, he can direct. It's not about Boston. It's about a whole -- a whole entirely different subject matter.

MORGAN: And he thanked Canada, which was a big moment for me.

SMITH: Yes.

(LAUGHTER) MORGAN: Because I interviewed President Jimmy Carter last week, who obviously was the president when "Argo" was the real live story, and he was moaning that the Canadians got no credit in this movie and that the CIA guy, of course, who Affleck plays only was there in Iran for a day and a half, and yet the movie is also skewed to the heroic CIA, which they were to a point, lord (INAUDIBLE), but actually it was mainly the Canadians. So I think that a little side note is there. Thank you, Canada. A big moment for the Canadians.

O'DELL: And thanked his wife, (INAUDIBLE). And the fact that he got teared up. I kind of think is a human moment. I was cheering for him, and I think more people were cheering for him because he didn't get the nomination.

MORGAN: I think the Academy getting that wrong played right into his hands.

O'DELL: Yes, I think --

MORGAN: But let's turn to the biggest star of the night. Because other than Oscar, Stephen Battaglio, the name we did not imagine we would be talking about as the star of the show but he joins me now.

Stephen, what a moment. So there I am watching, everyone is watching. Seth MacFarlane comes up with this fake review of his show, worst I have ever seen, with your name, we're like, what a moment to see. And then he does it twice more.

STEPHEN BATTAGLIO, TV GUIDE MAGAZINE: Yes.

MORGAN: By now you're becoming like this legend. What were you thinking? Where were you?

(CROSSTALK)

BATTAGLIO: I was apparently --

MORGAN: And what were you thinking?

BATTAGLIO: I was apparently trending worldwide on Twitter, I was told momentarily.

MORGAN: You were.

(LAUGHTER)

BATTAGLIO: You know, I was at home watching as a viewer. And -- by the way, I was actually looking forward to the broadcast because I wanted to see what Seth MacFarlane does. You know, sometimes I'll put the Oscars on the DVR and start them late so I can go through some of the boring stuff, but I was right there at 8:30 because I wanted to see him.

And into the show that comes up, and I'm sort of staring at it and watching the routine, and I think, well, that's my name, and then it came up again. And I'm at home watching with my wife, and then every single electronic device in the house was either buzzing, worrying vibrating, ringing --

MORGAN: And be honest. Be honest. And are you thinking -- are you thinking basically you've won a TV critique version of an Oscar? Are you -- are you leaping around the room, are you making acceptance speeches?

BATTAGLIO: No, not really. I mean it was -- but I have to say, you know, you get that sort of rush that you get.

MORGAN: Yes.

BATTAGLIO: And I said, well this is -- this must be what it's like to be really famous because and it really was almost like a drug- like effect. It was -- and I felt kind of sad later when it was over, you know. There's no --

MORGAN: Yes?

BATTAGLIO: It was very unusual. And I -- and I just did not know it was coming. I mean, apparently, the Academy was going to contact me to ask permission. I -- they never reached me, and it was a tremendous surprise.

MORGAN: And the reason we're told that he may have chosen you is you have apparently been very supportive of him, particularly in the "Family Guy" early years when most critics savaged it, you were right behind him. Is there any truth to that?

BATTAGLIO: I did a cover story about Seth in 2005 for "TV Guide" and look, I've always, always found him to be a very interesting character. He's a maverick who does what he wants. The show is very personal and express his tastes. He does very crude humor on it, and does this very traditional show business stuff on it.

He loves musical comedies and movie musicals and he hires real musicians or full orchestras to play at his house so he could Sinatra songs. I mean he's a really interesting character so he's been always been fun to write about. And I've liked the show. It's something different. It upsets people a little bit. It's disturbing. You don't have that many people like that in television anymore. So when you find them, you want to write about them.

MORGAN: I totally agree. I mean, Krista, are you a fan of Seth MacFarlane last night?

SMITH: Yes, I'm a big fan of Seth's. I mean, I thought that I love the way he incorporated the talent in the show. I thought when Charlize and Channing starting dancing, it was a wonderful moment, the same thing with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and -- I'm forgetting his name right now.

MORGAN: Don't worry, none of us could remember --

SMITH: OK. Anyway -- MORGAN: It's not the same as the --

(CROSSTALK)

SMITH: But I do think -- I do think that --

MORGAN: Daniel Radcliffe.

SMITH: Daniel Radcliffe. Sorry, Daniel.

MORGAN: How could you forget him?

SMITH: I know, it's a lack of sleep. I did find that the opening number, "Show Me Your Boobs," I did feel bad for Naomi Watts and Charlize Theron sitting in the audience. I thought maybe that was a little too too early for that number. Makes them feel a little uncomfortable.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: That's why I enjoyed it so much.

SMITH: Yes. That's the whole point of Seth MacFarlane.

SMITH: You like to see people uncomfortable?

O'DELL: Yes.

MORGAN: Yes, of course. I like a little mixture of, you know, they call it cozy stuff you'd expect at the Oscars but with a little bit of bite to it. And what was great was how they all reacted. It was very telling. The one again I loved, Jennifer Lawrence. Couldn't wait, burst out laughing and punched the air when he got to her. That's how you have to react to these things, isn't it?

O'DELL: Yes, it is kind of true. I mean, all I want to say, I mean, there was one part it began -- I thought he did a tremendous job. There's one part where I thought, I don't know if that pushed it a little bit too much, but it was when he after Adele performed and he said that Rex Reed was going to come and critique her performance.

And I didn't know if there was -- I think the criticism was meant for Rex Reed, but I didn't, you know, it just made it come out a little bit as if it was for Adele. And that was a little bit -- you know -- bothered me a little bit.

(CROSSTALK)

SMITH: I will say it is a thankless job because --

MORGAN: Yes.

SMITH: You're either are going to -- you know --

MORGAN: And the bottom line is, the bottom line, Steve, unless I'm mistaken, the bottom line is ratings with these things. And the ratings particularly in the younger demographic, were significantly up on last year.

BATTAGLIO: It were. You have to look, I mean, look, the Academy Awards is a 3 1/2 hour infomercial for the movie industry. And from that standpoint, this show was a tremendous success. They wanted a younger audience and they got it. Among men 18 to 34, the show was up 34 percent from a year ago. Overall, 18 to 49-year-olds which is what advertisers like to reach, it was up 11 percent.

So they got what they wanted here. And you're going to have to give people the kind of humor that's going to attract that young audience if you're going to deliver it. So I think it was a very big success from that standpoint.

MORGAN: Well, a success for the ratings. Success for Seth MacFarlane, and a big success to you, Stephen Battaglio. So (INAUDIBLE) but many congratulations on your TV critic version of the Oscar last night.

BATTAGLIO: Thank you. Thank you very much.

MORGAN: And to you ladies, thank you both very much. Nancy and Krista will be back up the break talking -- well, actually, tomorrow, it'll plug for that first. We'll talk to the real-life "Argo hero, played by Ben Affleck in the movie. The CIA here. That will be tomorrow night.

When we come back after this, Hollywood's biggest stars outshone by First Lady Michelle Obama. Perhaps that big moment backfired and certainly tarnished her brand. I'll ask ad (INAUDIBLE) extraordinaire Donny Deutsch and Obama's author Jody Kantor, but first what happens on the red carpet when I asked some of the world's biggest stars what will you do if I ask them to show their loser face?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MORGAN: Now you tell me you don't think you're going to win, I want to see your best loser face.

JESSICA CHASTAIN, ACTRESS: My best loser face? It'll just be normal! Like me expecting, like, mm-hmm. That's right.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Let me give you the bad news. You just lost.

AMY ADAMS, ACTRESS: I just lost. No, I'm kidding. Can you imagine if I actually did that?

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Yes, that's why I got you to do it.

What's your loser face?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SMILING)

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: What are you going to do if you lose? Give me your loser face? No, give me a big loser face.

(LAUGHTER)

JENNIFER LAWRENCE, ACTRESS: No, I'm just going to go, what?

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Do you practice your loser face just in case the camera pans straight to you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, that I haven't.

MORGAN: Do you think it's bad luck?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I just didn't think of it, but I'll start right now.

MORGAN: Give me the loser one.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: I have been getting people to give me their best loser face for that moment when it doesn't work out. Have you got one?

HELEN HUNT, ACTRESS: Just kind of a glazed smile, you know, yes, followed by some kind of protein bar.

MORGAN: I imagine you're hearing the words right now, "And the winner is Meryl Streep." Give me the face?

NICOLE KIDMAN, ACTRESS: Then I giggle.

MORGAN: Give me a loser face so I can compare it to the real one.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Give me the loser face.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: And now for the moment we have all been waiting for. And the Oscar goes to -- Argo. Congratulations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Of course, Michelle Obama. Surprise appearance at the Oscars. The first lady is the talk of the town, but some are saying she may have slightly jumped the shark. Joining me now, a man who knows more, but mostly about the value of a brand, and indeed, shark jumping. Donny Deutsch, the chairman of Deutsch Inc. Donny, How are you?

DONNY DEUTSCH, CHAIRMAN, DEUTSCH INC.: How are you, buddy? You looked very, very suave out there on the red carpet last night.

MORGAN: Well, you know, just making a little bit of effort. A slash of Dolce and a little dash of Prada. I was just trying to keep up with the Joneses.

DEUTSCH: Before we get to the first lady, who was the most beautiful on the red carpet? Who was the Piers Morgan choice?

MORGAN: You know what, very interesting. I think it was down to me personally, it came down to Jennifer Lawrence, who really is beautiful in the flesh. Had a lovely dress. But also, I thought Jessica Chastain has that kind of '50s, '60s Hollywood glamour. She looked really stunning, I thought, with her red hair and the beautiful-colored peach flavored dress. I thought those two to me were, it was like watching a couple of movie stars in the '50s. That's why I liked the look and what they were wearing. So I'm not a great fashion expert, as you know, Donny, but since you put me on the spot there, they would be my favorites.

Now, let's turn to something I'm more comfortable with. Politics. Michelle Obama. She was a very big surprise, no one was expecting it. Up pops the first lady to talk about the fact that Argo has won best picture. Should she have been there at all?

DEUTSCH: From my vantage point, absolutely not. This is not a horrible crime in the scheme of things, but as far as I'm concerned, she was an uninvited guest. Now what I mean by that is if, you have the give the consumer, the viewer, the ultimate respect. They have tuned in to watch movie stars, to watch movies. And all of a sudden, politics is thrown at them. I mean, obviously, she was very sweet and very kind, but it's not what I signed up for.

We see a lot of the blurring of politics and news in entertainment, but the viewer get to choose. If I want to watch Jimmy Fallon, if I know she's on, that's okay. But that was an intrusion. I have a feeling three out of four Americans - forget politics, whether you're a Democrat or Republican -- don't want to see the first lady at that point. I wanted more jack Nicholson. And I think you have to respect your audience enough to not impose -- once again, she's the first lady, but that's not a moment we're looking for the president and the first lady. I want more from Nicholson.

So that's where I think she missed. And also on top of that, the tone of it, there was almost a monarch quality. She was sitting there, and it was an elitist flavor to it that I was watching as a viewer and going, huh? And I'm a Democrat. I just thought it was very, very, very tone deaf. I was really surprised they did it.

MORGAN: Okay, let's bring in somebody who may or may not agree with you. Jodi Kantor, the Washington correspondent for "The New York Times" and author of "The Obamas." So, there you have it, Jodi. Donny, pretty furious there.

DEUTSCH: No, no, no --

MORGAN: Fairly furious, but no place for the first lady at the Oscars. What do you say to that?

JODI KANTOR, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Let me fill you in on what the first lady's strategy has been on this kind of thing. She has actually done this again and again. She popped up on iCarly, on Nickelodeon Awards for kids. Part of what the White House has tried to do is keep her out of politics and insert her into other kinds of media that lots of people watch. That's why she does push-ups on Ellen Degeneres, why she did the mom dancing skit on Jimmy Fallon the other night.

And it's almost like this sort of Michelle Obama charm offensive strategy. Like what they're trying to do is portray this woman who is disconnected from politics, because of course the paradox of being first lady is that you are most politically powerful when you appear in some way nonpolitical.

DEUTSCH: Jodi, I completely get the strategy, and when I was working on the Clinton campaign when he appeared on Arsenio, and that was the first instance of a politician understanding I can step out of the Beltway and talk to consumers as a person in an entertainment venue.

My point is the consumer still has the choice on all of those shows. This was, I'll call, an intrusion. Where you're watching Nicholson, and first of all, half the country did not vote for her. Did not vote for her husband. And I think there's a little bit of an entitlement, for lack of a better word. Like I said, I love Michelle Obama. I think she's a fantastic first lady. She's obviously a dynamic, great woman, great mom, but time and a place. It would be like Barack Obama, when he does the Super Bowl interview, he does it earlier in the day, and you choose to watch. They don't at the two- minute warning, say now a message from our president.

KANTOR: Well, I guess what surprised me the most as an observer of this White House was the fact that in the first term, they were so worried about anything that looked too Hollywood and too --

DEUTSCH: Because they had to run for re-election, of course.

KANTOR: But the president still needs the public's support. He's going to have a really hard time passing his agenda. And the thinking back then was during a time of economic suffering, you don't want the president and first lady hobnobbing with movie stars. You don't want anything looking too glamorous. I think re-election has changed. I think this White House owes a serious debt to Hollywood when it comes to fundraising --

MORGAN: OK, Jodi, let me jump in here because I have heard you both talking now. Here is my view. I was watching it. I thought it was a great surprise. I thought, wow, doesn't the first lady look great? I love the fact she was announcing the best movie. I didn't give a damn that it seemed a bit of politicking. She was asked to do it. And why not? Why can't the first lady come to the Academy Awards like that and give us all a bit of light entertainment? Why are we getting so exercised about it, Donny?

DEUTSCH: Obviously, she can, Piers. My point is I have a feeling if you asked the majority of the country, do you want at that moment, do you want to see more Jack Nicholson or do want the first lady to do it, I have a feeling the majority of people would say no, not at that point.

MORGAN: You say that, you say that, but her approval rating is now 73 percent. The more she's doing this stuff, the more popular she's getting.

DEUTSCH: So was Laura Bush's. The same exact approval rating as Laura Bush. Laura Bush had the identical approval rating, and She was fairly invisible for lack of a better word. Very, very low key.

So, first ladies usually have 20- to 25 -point bumps above their husband. My point is all that stuff is great. To me, that was intrusive versus additive. At that moment, I'm talking as a viewer and as a Democrat. Huh, and standing there regally with the Marines behind her, I don't know. I just thought it was --

MORGAN: She wasn't standing there regally. Donny, she's not a queen -

DEUTSCH: Exactly, exactly.

MORGAN: She's standing in the White House with the Marines who work in the White House. It's not regal, is it?

DEUTSCH: Well, I thought that was very -- when did you become such a crazy liberal? What's going on here?

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: No, I'm just -- I'm trying to cut the first lady a bit of slack. You can't blame her for having the Marines in the back. If there's a party in the White House, the Marines are there.

DEUTSCH: Everybody I talked to today, random people, all kind of said, huh? Like, they love Michelle Obama. It's not about that. It's a moment. I'm tuning in for entertainment. I'm along on the ride. Jack Nicholson, the greatest iconic performer of our time, I would have loved to have seen -

MORGAN: I agree.

DEUTSCH: -- what was coming out of his mouth. I see Michelle Obama all over the place.

KANTOR: Well, there's a mystery, which is what Michelle Obama wants to do with all this, right? She keeps doing these sort of charming appearances. A lot of people do find them very endearing and entertaining. Where does she want to take this? She is somebody who believes that political capital should be spent, according to her aides. So, is this all about childhood obesity and military families? Is she going to become a more visible spokesperson for the administration? I believe the sort power and popularity she's accumulating, she wants to spend somehow during the rest of the administration. So for me --

MORGAN: Well, it may be a miracle, Jody. It may of course be been bigger than that. She may have her own political aspirations. I could quite easily see in five, ten years time, Michelle Obama, if this carries on, might be dipping her own toe into political waters. Why not?

KANTOR: If she ever does that, I will come back on your show and I will physically eat my book one page at a time.

(LAUGHTER)

KANTOR: If the first lady is watching, that is something to bear in mind. Let's take a break. Take a break. Let's take a break, Donny. You're not anchoring my show tonight. I know you were last week.

(LAUGHTER)

DEUTSCH: I was in your dressing room before just trying on your suits.

MORGAN: I'm in charge tonight, all right? So, just back off.

Let's take a break. So, when we come back, we'll talk about more of the hot stories of the day.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Unfortunately, in just four days, Congress is poised to allow a series of arbitrary automatic budget cuts to kick in that will slow our economy, eliminate good jobs, and leave a lot of folks who are already pretty thinly stretched scrambling to figure out what to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: President Obama earlier today, warning about the looming forced budget cuts set to hit on Friday. Back with me now, Donny Deutsch and Jodi Kantor. Let's talk to you, Jodi, first about this. I mean, we're heading to another cliff. Ever since I have been at CNN the last two years, we have been headed toward some cliff, some crisis, some turmoil. At the last minute, they do a deal.

It's all very child-like, it seems to me, in terms of adult politics. What is going to happen this week? Are we actually going to fall off again?

KANTOR: Well, you know, the problem with reporting the story is -- you have experienced, too -- is there's a Groundhog Day quality to it, right? It does seem to follow the same pattern again and again. What we have seen in the past is that there have been last-minute deals, sometimes with hours to go, to avert the worst. That does seem to happen, that at the very, very last minute, almost as if we were watching a movie, at the Oscars, something happens to postpone the crisis.

But then really, we just face the sort of next subsequent round of budget battles. So one of the questions we're keeping our eye on is, you know, is the president's second term really turning into a long, depressing series of budget battles. The White House so clearly wants to move past this, yet it's not clear they're going to get the chance to.

MORGAN: Yeah. And Donny, it is Groundhog Day, but, of course, the victims here, of course, are the American people who have to see this constant nonsense going on in Washington. No decisions being taken by anybody, and an apparent intransigent war between both sides. How do they get the message?

If you were advising them, Washington Incorporated, about their brand, how do they get the message that America is sick and tired of this kind of behavior?

DEUTSCH: I actually don't think Americans are victims here. I think they're co-conspirators. And the problem is -- because politicians reflect back, obviously. They want to get reelected. Nobody in this country wants to sacrifice. I'm not getting on a soap box here, but everybody wants deficit reduction, and everybody wants the debt cut down, but yet, as long as it's not Medicare, as long as it's not Medicaid, as long as it's not defense, as long as it's not me.

So we are a generation and we are a populous today, versus the Greatest Generation before us, that is like no, no, no, don't touch it. And the politics are reflecting that back.

So we're looking for this magic fairy dust to come from them, where we are the problems, whether it's rich people saying no, I'm not paying another four percent in tax, whether it's on Social Security saying no, I'm not going to work another two years, til I'm 67. Nobody wants to give anything.

And the politicians are merely a reflection of that. So I think we are as much to blame as the politicians.

MORGAN: Jodi, there is a point, isn't there -- there is a point, Jodi, that- - take defense for example, there's quite a good argument to be made that there should be quite Draconian cuts in the defense budget, that it's massively been overspending since 9/11, and the budgets have dramatically increased. The threat is no longer quite what it was then, many would argue.

Why does America need to have this astronomical ongoing defense budget when you have more pressing things at home to worry about?

KANTOR: Absolutely. One of the reasons you have seen this administration really stand behind Chuck Hagel as a nominee is that the president nominated him in part because, as a war hero, he has the credibility to make some of the really difficult cuts and choices.

But I think there's some truth to what Donny is saying, which is that the only fair and workable solution here is really one in which everybody is unhappy. That is so contrary to the nature of politics. We have heard the president say in the past, the truth is in the future, everybody is going to have to pay more and get less. He said that a little bit, but it's never been his main message because it is not a winning message. And it will probably never be a winning message for any politician.

DEUTSCH: That's a great point, Jodi. They all say the other side has got to give more, but nobody comes out -- no politician comes and says, you know what, guys, we're all going to have to put skin in the game, whether you're a hedge fund guy, whether you're a minimum wage worker, whether you're a Democrat, whether a Republican, whether you're an NRA guy. Wherever you are, it's all -- we're all going into our pockets in some form.

And nobody wants to do it. It's OK as long as it's the other guy. And this is not Democrat or Republican. This is what is wrong with our generation, frankly.

MORGAN: Well, we have to leave it there, with what's wrong with our generation. Thank you for bringing your handsome skin to my game tonight, Donny, and to you, Jodi, as well. Always good to have both of you. Thank you so much.

DEUTSCH: Great to see you, buddy.

KANTOR: Thank you.

MORGAN: Coming up next, the shooting that started the national conversation about Stand Your Ground. Trayvon Martin's parents talk to me exclusively one year after their son's death.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Tomorrow marks one year since the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, the unnamed 17-year-old killed by neighborhood watch leader George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida. Martin's death threw the spotlight on the state's Stand Your Ground Law, which is heavily backed by the NRA.

Joining me now exclusively is Trayvon's mother, Sybrina Fulton, his father, Tracy Martin, and family attorney Benjamin Crump. Welcome back to you all.

Let me start, Sybrina and Tracy, by again offering you my very sincere condolences on the death of your son. It must be a very difficult time for you now, a year later. Sybrina, how are you planning to commemorate Trayvon's life and death tomorrow?

SYBRINA FULTON, MOTHER OF TRAYVON MARTIN: We're going to attend a candlelight ceremony here in New York. We have already done something in Miami. We have done a peace walk to let teenagers know that they have a right to walk in peace. We also did a benefit dinner to help our foundation, so that we can try to do some of the things that we need to do so that we can make sure that no other parents have to go through what we have gone through in the last year.

MORGAN: Tracy, obviously, when your son was killed, your first thought would have been just devastation at losing a child. As things went on, you and Sybrina and your legal counsel, you became these kind of national advocates to many people against gun violence. Where do you see the gun debate going in America now? There have been so many things that happened in the last year, from Aurora to Sandy Hook and so on. Where do you see it right now?

TRACY MARTIN, FATHER OF TRAYVON MARTIN: From all the senseless gun violence that's been happening since our son's tragic loss, it's -- it's time for America to take a look at our gun laws, do something with the gun laws, take a look at the people that are purchasing guns, people that they are giving gun licenses to, because it's just too much senseless violence, just overwhelming the homes right now.

We as parents certainly feel the pain for the children and the parents from Sandy Hook, the parents of the children that are being killed in Chicago, and parents that are dealing with loss all over this country. We certainly empathize with them.

MORGAN: Ben Crump, when this trial begins later in the summer, it will be a huge, I guess, test of the Stand Your Ground Law. However either side frames it, that's how people will see this. Wayne LaPierre from the NRA says "the only means of security is the Second Amendment. When the glass breaks in the middle of the night, we have a right to defend ourselves." He was wildly applauded.

"You all know that," he said. "You aren't free if you can't defend yourselves." That was him speaking at an event on Saturday night. How do you tackle that kind of mentality in light of this debate about Stand Your Ground?

BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR TRAYVON MARTIN FAMILY: Well, Piers, you try to be very open and honest about them. And ask them -- as Sybrina and Tracy have said so many times, it's not personal until it comes to your doorstep when you lose your child to senseless violence. Last year, before Trayvon was tragically killed, there were many people who knew little about the Stand Your Ground Law until it came out that his killer was not arrested because this Stand Your Ground Law. And that's important, that we realize what this movement was about.

His killer was only part of the symptom of the problem. The problem is that we had the Stand Your Ground Law that encouraged vigilante justice. If he would have just waited in the car, Trayvon would be living. He wouldn't be facing prison. And, you know, truly, the message is going to be sent after this trial, where are we at in equal justice? Where are we at with the Stand Your Ground Law?

Because if he's not held accountable, what message does that send to the next child that's killed, unarmed, on the ground?

MORGAN: A difficult question for you, Sybrina, but I want to put it to you anyway. There are obviously going to be huge candlelight vigils all around the country tomorrow, I've been told, in New York, D.C., Los Angeles, Orlando, and other places. Are you ready to let justice take its course, however that turns out?

In other words, if at the end of this trial George Zimmerman is exonerated of illegally killing your son, would you be prepared to publicly accept that verdict?

FULTON: Well, that's something that we have always asked for. We have always asked for an arrest. We always asked for just it to come to a trial. We just want to have that trial and let the jury decide. And whatever decision comes out of that, we're going to accept that. We may not like it, but we're going to accept it.

MORGAN: Sybrina, again, and to you, Tracy, I do pass on my very deepest condolences. It's a year afterwards. It seems an extraordinary year in many ways, for what happened in the aftermath of Trayvon's death and for gun violence indeed in America. I hope tomorrow is not too unbearable for both of you.

And to you, Ben Crump, thank you as always for joining me.

(CROSS TALK)

MORGAN: When we come back, scandal at the Vatican. Two priests with very different views debate what it will all mean for Pope Benedict's legacy and for the next Pope.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Pope Benedict XVI in his final Angeles (ph) prayer. He retires on Thursday amid scandal, including the resignation of Britain's top Catholic archbishop and reports in two Italian newspapers about the alleged blackmail of gay priests by male prostitute in Rome, allegations the Vatican emphatically denies.

Joining me now is Father Albert Cutie. He's an Episcopal priest and author of "Dilemma," also Father Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest, senior fellow of the Woodstock (ph) Political Center, and author of "Inside the Vatican."

Welcome to you both. Let me start with you, Father Cutie. It is a pretty rough time for the Catholic Church. I speak as a Catholic myself. A pretty turbulent time, to have a Pope stand down, apart from everything else, after 600 years without anyone resigning from the post. What did you make of that, first of all?

FATHER ALBERT CUTIE, AUTHOR "DILEMMA": I think it is interesting, Piers, that we heard the official statement that says the Holy Father is sick, that the Holy Father is frail. And some of that definitely is true. He is an older man. But I don't believe that that is 100 percent the reason why he is stepping down.

I think that many of the things that we have been seeing in the church in the last several years and especially coming out of the Vatican have a lot to do with why the Pope is stepping down. And honestly, we're never going to know 100 percent the reason. I can't judge the Pope. Only the Pope and God really know why he is stepping down.

But certainly a lot of the things that we're seeing that are published now in the European press and even here in the U.S. are confirming that there is a lot more to the story than just someone who is elderly and sick.

MORGAN: Father Thomas Reese, it does seem there must be more to this than meets the eye, because the Pope was looking perfectly OK yesterday to me. His predecessor Pope John Paul survived two assassination attempts, various cancer scares, crippling arthritis, and you had Parkinson's as well. Yet he battled on for 27 years.

It does seem, on the face of it, very strange that Pope Benedict would just walk away from his post amid all these scandals being reported now, particularly in the Italian media, of apparently a secret gay network of clergy inside the Vatican, financial mismanagement. Now we have the firing effectively of Britain's top Catholic, Archbishop Cardinal Keith O'Brien, of inappropriate behavior towards priests in the '80s.

When you put it all together, where are we left here, do you think?

FATHER THOMAS REESE, AUTHOR, "INSIDE THE VATICAN": Well, I take the Pope on his word. He is 85 years of age. His health is declining. He knows his health is going to continue to decline. I am not surprised. Modern medicine can keep us physically alive long after we can do the kind of job that it requires to be Pope, to have the strength, the mental ability to do that kind of job.

So it was inevitable that sometime during the 21st century we have a Pope resign for a reason like this. Now, you know, with regards to all of these scandals and stories that are in the Italian press, you have to realize that the Italian press is like the blogosphere. Sometimes they get it right. Often they don't get it right. They don't have the kind of journalistic standards that are recognized and observed in the United States and Canada and Great Britain.

They're more -- it is more opera than news reporting. And so I take it all with a grain of salt. If they have facts, let's see them. If they have a report, let's publish it and see it. Until they do that, I think we have to take what is said in the Italian press with a grain of salt.

MORGAN: Let's take a look at the clip from Christian Amanpour, my colleague, who spoke today with Mark Dowd, who is a former Dominican Friar. Let's hear what he told her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK DOWD, FORMER DOMINICAN FRIAR: Homosexuality is the ticking time bomb in the Catholic Church. About half if not more of all the people attracted into seminaries and the priest hood are gay themselves.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: I mean, Father Cutie, you yourself fell in love after struggling to live as a celibate priest. Is celibacy really any longer a sensible thing for the Catholic church to enforce upon the priesthood?

CUTIE: I think it is for those who are called to be monks, to be religious. I honor and respect the vows that Father Reese has taken, poverty, chastity, obedience. But most of us as secular priests may not be called to lifelong celibacy. And I think it's -- on the issue of homosexuality, it is horrible to see that homosexual persons are being told that their sexuality is intrinsically disordered, while we know that homosexuality is alive and well among many of the clergy.

So how is it that this institution condemns homosexual persons and their sexual expressions, yet they allow or cover up homosexuality within their own ranks? That's a big problem.

MORGAN: Father Reese, it is a problem. It is a problem also I think of changing times. I mean, young people in particular have very little problem with the concept of gay marriage, for example. It seems to be a very generational debate. Is it time for a younger, more progressive thinking Pope?

Is it time that they looked to, for example, condoms in Africa and said, you know what, if you use them to prevent disease and not as a contraception, I can live with that? I mean, is it time, in short, we had a more modern thinking Pope for the modern era?

REESE: Well, let me respond to the statement about homosexuals in the clergy. Of course there are homosexuals in the Catholic clergy. To deny it is to deny facts and deny reality. To make the statement that homosexuals cannot observe the promise of celibacy and that somehow heterosexuals can't -- you know, homosexuals cannot and heterosexuals can't, I think that it is slanderous towards the gay community.

I think there are a -- there are -- the vast majority of homosexual priests that are in the priesthood observe their vows. They respect their vows. They have been branded as the cause of the sexual abuse crisis. And I think that is absolutely slanderous.

MORGAN: Well, it is a debate that will continue to rage, as will indeed the nature of the type of Pope that we may see coming forward. Gentlemen, thank you very much for now. I am sure we will do this again sometime. Thank you.

REESE: Thank you.

CUTIE: Thank you.

MORGAN: We'll be right back after this short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Unfortunately, in just four days, Congress is poised to allow a series of arbitrary automatic budget cuts to kick in that will slow our economy, eliminate good jobs, and leave a lot of folks who are already pretty thinly stretched scrambling to figure out what to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: President Obama earlier today, warning about the looming forced budget cuts set to hit on Friday. Back with me now, Donny Deutsch and Jodi Kantor. Let's talk to you, Jodi, first about this. I mean, we're heading to another cliff. Ever since I have been at CNN the last two years, we have been headed toward some cliff, some crisis, some turmoil. At the last minute, they do a deal.

It's all very child-like, it seems to me, in terms of adult politics. What is going to happen this week? Are we actually going to fall off again?

KANTOR: Well, you know, the problem with reporting the story is -- you have experienced, too -- is there's a Groundhog Day quality to it, right? It does seem to follow the same pattern again and again. What we have seen in the past is that there have been last-minute deals, sometimes with hours to go, to avert the worst. That does seem to happen, that at the very, very last minute, almost as if we were watching a movie, at the Oscars, something happens to postpone the crisis.

But then really, we just face the sort of next subsequent round of budget battles. So one of the questions we're keeping our eye on is, you know, is the president's second term really turning into a long, depressing series of budget battles. The White House so clearly wants to move past this, yet it's not clear they're going to get the chance to.

MORGAN: Yeah. And Donny, it is Groundhog Day, but, of course, the victims here, of course, are the American people who have to see this constant nonsense going on in Washington. No decisions being taken by anybody, and an apparent intransigent war between both sides. How do they get the message?

If you were advising them, Washington Incorporated, about their brand, how do they get the message that America is sick and tired of this kind of behavior?

DEUTSCH: I actually don't think Americans are victims here. I think they're co-conspirators. And the problem is -- because politicians reflect back, obviously. They want to get reelected. Nobody in this country wants to sacrifice. I'm not getting on a soap box here, but everybody wants deficit reduction, and everybody wants the debt cut down, but yet, as long as it's not Medicare, as long as it's not Medicaid, as long as it's not defense, as long as it's not me. So we are a generation and we are a populous today, versus the Greatest Generation before us, that is like no, no, no, don't touch it. And the politics are reflecting that back.

So we're looking for this magic fairy dust to come from them, where we are the problems, whether it's rich people saying no, I'm not paying another four percent in tax, whether it's on Social Security saying no, I'm not going to work another two years, til I'm 67. Nobody wants to give anything.

And the politicians are merely a reflection of that. So I think we are as much to blame as the politicians.

MORGAN: Jodi, there is a point, isn't there -- there is a point, Jodi, that- - take defense for example, there's quite a good argument to be made that there should be quite Draconian cuts in the defense budget, that it's massively been overspending since 9/11, and the budgets have dramatically increased. The threat is no longer quite what it was then, many would argue.

Why does America need to have this astronomical ongoing defense budget when you have more pressing things at home to worry about?

KANTOR: Absolutely. One of the reasons you have seen this administration really stand behind Chuck Hagel as a nominee is that the president nominated him in part because, as a war hero, he has the credibility to make some of the really difficult cuts and choices.

But I think there's some truth to what Donny is saying, which is that the only fair and workable solution here is really one in which everybody is unhappy. That is so contrary to the nature of politics. We have heard the president say in the past, the truth is in the future, everybody is going to have to pay more and get less. He said that a little bit, but it's never been his main message because it is not a winning message. And it will probably never be a winning message for any politician.

DEUTSCH: That's a great point, Jodi. They all say the other side has got to give more, but nobody comes out -- no politician comes and says, you know what, guys, we're all going to have to put skin in the game, whether you're a hedge fund guy, whether you're a minimum wage worker, whether you're a Democrat, whether a Republican, whether you're an NRA guy. Wherever you are, it's all -- we're all going into our pockets in some form.

And nobody wants to do it. It's OK as long as it's the other guy. And this is not Democrat or Republican. This is what is wrong with our generation, frankly.

MORGAN: Well, we have to leave it there, with what's wrong with our generation. Thank you for bringing your handsome skin to my game tonight, Donny, and to you, Jodi, as well. Always good to have both of you. Thank you so much.

DEUTSCH: Great to see you, buddy.

KANTOR: Thank you.

MORGAN: Coming up next, the shooting that started the national conversation about Stand Your Ground. Trayvon Martin's parents talk to me exclusively one year after their son's death.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Tomorrow marks one year since the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, the unnamed 17-year-old killed by neighborhood watch leader George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida. Martin's death threw the spotlight on the state's Stand Your Ground Law, which is heavily backed by the NRA.

Joining me now exclusively is Trayvon's mother, Sybrina Fulton, his father, Tracy Martin, and family attorney Benjamin Crump. Welcome back to you all.

Let me start, Sybrina and Tracy, by again offering you my very sincere condolences on the death of your son. It must be a very difficult time for you now, a year later. Sybrina, how are you planning to commemorate Trayvon's life and death tomorrow?

SYBRINA FULTON, MOTHER OF TRAYVON MARTIN: We're going to attend a candlelight ceremony here in New York. We have already done something in Miami. We have done a peace walk to let teenagers know that they have a right to walk in peace. We also did a benefit dinner to help our foundation, so that we can try to do some of the things that we need to do so that we can make sure that no other parents have to go through what we have gone through in the last year.

MORGAN: Tracy, obviously, when your son was killed, your first thought would have been just devastation at losing a child. As things went on, you and Sybrina and your legal counsel, you became these kind of national advocates to many people against gun violence. Where do you see the gun debate going in America now? There have been so many things that happened in the last year, from Aurora to Sandy Hook and so on. Where do you see it right now?

TRACY MARTIN, FATHER OF TRAYVON MARTIN: From all the senseless gun violence that's been happening since our son's tragic loss, it's -- it's time for America to take a look at our gun laws, do something with the gun laws, take a look at the people that are purchasing guns, people that they are giving gun licenses to, because it's just too much senseless violence, just overwhelming the homes right now.

We as parents certainly feel the pain for the children and the parents from Sandy Hook, the parents of the children that are being killed in Chicago, and parents that are dealing with loss all over this country. We certainly empathize with them.

MORGAN: Ben Crump, when this trial begins later in the summer, it will be a huge, I guess, test of the Stand Your Ground Law. However either side frames it, that's how people will see this. Wayne LaPierre from the NRA says "the only means of security is the Second Amendment. When the glass breaks in the middle of the night, we have a right to defend ourselves." He was wildly applauded. "You all know that," he said. "You aren't free if you can't defend yourselves." That was him speaking at an event on Saturday night. How do you tackle that kind of mentality in light of this debate about Stand Your Ground?

BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR TRAYVON MARTIN FAMILY: Well, Piers, you try to be very open and honest about them. And ask them -- as Sybrina and Tracy have said so many times, it's not personal until it comes to your doorstep when you lose your child to senseless violence. Last year, before Trayvon was tragically killed, there were many people who knew little about the Stand Your Ground Law until it came out that his killer was not arrested because this Stand Your Ground Law. And that's important, that we realize what this movement was about.

His killer was only part of the symptom of the problem. The problem is that we had the Stand Your Ground Law that encouraged vigilante justice. If he would have just waited in the car, Trayvon would be living. He wouldn't be facing prison. And, you know, truly, the message is going to be sent after this trial, where are we at in equal justice? Where are we at with the Stand Your Ground Law?

Because if he's not held accountable, what message does that send to the next child that's killed, unarmed, on the ground?

MORGAN: A difficult question for you, Sybrina, but I want to put it to you anyway. There are obviously going to be huge candlelight vigils all around the country tomorrow, I've been told, in New York, D.C., Los Angeles, Orlando, and other places. Are you ready to let justice take its course, however that turns out?

In other words, if at the end of this trial George Zimmerman is exonerated of illegally killing your son, would you be prepared to publicly accept that verdict?

FULTON: Well, that's something that we have always asked for. We have always asked for an arrest. We always asked for just it to come to a trial. We just want to have that trial and let the jury decide. And whatever decision comes out of that, we're going to accept that. We may not like it, but we're going to accept it.

MORGAN: Sybrina, again, and to you, Tracy, I do pass on my very deepest condolences. It's a year afterwards. It seems an extraordinary year in many ways, for what happened in the aftermath of Trayvon's death and for gun violence indeed in America. I hope tomorrow is not too unbearable for both of you.

And to you, Ben Crump, thank you as always for joining me.

(CROSS TALK)

MORGAN: When we come back, scandal at the Vatican. Two priests with very different views debate what it will all mean for Pope Benedict's legacy and for the next Pope.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MORGAN: Pope Benedict XVI in his final Angeles (ph) prayer. He retires on Thursday amid scandal, including the resignation of Britain's top Catholic archbishop and reports in two Italian newspapers about the alleged blackmail of gay priests by male prostitute in Rome, allegations the Vatican emphatically denies.

Joining me now is Father Albert Cutie. He's an Episcopal priest and author of "Dilemma," also Father Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest, senior fellow of the Woodstock (ph) Political Center, and author of "Inside the Vatican."

Welcome to you both. Let me start with you, Father Cutie. It is a pretty rough time for the Catholic Church. I speak as a Catholic myself. A pretty turbulent time, to have a Pope stand down, apart from everything else, after 600 years without anyone resigning from the post. What did you make of that, first of all?

FATHER ALBERT CUTIE, AUTHOR "DILEMMA": I think it is interesting, Piers, that we heard the official statement that says the Holy Father is sick, that the Holy Father is frail. And some of that definitely is true. He is an older man. But I don't believe that that is 100 percent the reason why he is stepping down.

I think that many of the things that we have been seeing in the church in the last several years and especially coming out of the Vatican have a lot to do with why the Pope is stepping down. And honestly, we're never going to know 100 percent the reason. I can't judge the Pope. Only the Pope and God really know why he is stepping down.

But certainly a lot of the things that we're seeing that are published now in the European press and even here in the U.S. are confirming that there is a lot more to the story than just someone who is elderly and sick.

MORGAN: Father Thomas Reese, it does seem there must be more to this than meets the eye, because the Pope was looking perfectly OK yesterday to me. His predecessor Pope John Paul survived two assassination attempts, various cancer scares, crippling arthritis, and you had Parkinson's as well. Yet he battled on for 27 years.

It does seem, on the face of it, very strange that Pope Benedict would just walk away from his post amid all these scandals being reported now, particularly in the Italian media, of apparently a secret gay network of clergy inside the Vatican, financial mismanagement. Now we have the firing effectively of Britain's top Catholic, Archbishop Cardinal Keith O'Brien, of inappropriate behavior towards priests in the '80s.

When you put it all together, where are we left here, do you think?

FATHER THOMAS REESE, AUTHOR, "INSIDE THE VATICAN": Well, I take the Pope on his word. He is 85 years of age. His health is declining. He knows his health is going to continue to decline. I am not surprised. Modern medicine can keep us physically alive long after we can do the kind of job that it requires to be Pope, to have the strength, the mental ability to do that kind of job.

So it was inevitable that sometime during the 21st century we have a Pope resign for a reason like this. Now, you know, with regards to all of these scandals and stories that are in the Italian press, you have to realize that the Italian press is like the blogosphere. Sometimes they get it right. Often they don't get it right. They don't have the kind of journalistic standards that are recognized and observed in the United States and Canada and Great Britain.

They're more -- it is more opera than news reporting. And so I take it all with a grain of salt. If they have facts, let's see them. If they have a report, let's publish it and see it. Until they do that, I think we have to take what is said in the Italian press with a grain of salt.

MORGAN: Let's take a look at the clip from Christian Amanpour, my colleague, who spoke today with Mark Dowd, who is a former Dominican Friar. Let's hear what he told her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK DOWD, FORMER DOMINICAN FRIAR: Homosexuality is the ticking time bomb in the Catholic Church. About half if not more of all the people attracted into seminaries and the priest hood are gay themselves.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: I mean, Father Cutie, you yourself fell in love after struggling to live as a celibate priest. Is celibacy really any longer a sensible thing for the Catholic church to enforce upon the priesthood?

CUTIE: I think it is for those who are called to be monks, to be religious. I honor and respect the vows that Father Reese has taken, poverty, chastity, obedience. But most of us as secular priests may not be called to lifelong celibacy. And I think it's -- on the issue of homosexuality, it is horrible to see that homosexual persons are being told that their sexuality is intrinsically disordered, while we know that homosexuality is alive and well among many of the clergy.

So how is it that this institution condemns homosexual persons and their sexual expressions, yet they allow or cover up homosexuality within their own ranks? That's a big problem.

MORGAN: Father Reese, it is a problem. It is a problem also I think of changing times. I mean, young people in particular have very little problem with the concept of gay marriage, for example. It seems to be a very generational debate. Is it time for a younger, more progressive thinking Pope?

Is it time that they looked to, for example, condoms in Africa and said, you know what, if you use them to prevent disease and not as a contraception, I can live with that? I mean, is it time, in short, we had a more modern thinking Pope for the modern era? REESE: Well, let me respond to the statement about homosexuals in the clergy. Of course there are homosexuals in the Catholic clergy. To deny it is to deny facts and deny reality. To make the statement that homosexuals cannot observe the promise of celibacy and that somehow heterosexuals can't -- you know, homosexuals cannot and heterosexuals can't, I think that it is slanderous towards the gay community.

I think there are a -- there are -- the vast majority of homosexual priests that are in the priesthood observe their vows. They respect their vows. They have been branded as the cause of the sexual abuse crisis. And I think that is absolutely slanderous.

MORGAN: Well, it is a debate that will continue to rage, as will indeed the nature of the type of Pope that we may see coming forward. Gentlemen, thank you very much for now. I am sure we will do this again sometime. Thank you.

REESE: Thank you.

CUTIE: Thank you.

MORGAN: We'll be right back after this short break.

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MORGAN: That's all for us tonight. Time now for Anderson Cooper.