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Ben Carson's Controversial Comments on Racism; Man Exonerated After 43 Years in Prison; Abusive Coach Caught on Tape; Darvish Almost Perfect

Aired April 3, 2013 - 09:30   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you for being with me. Story we're watching in the NEWSROOM, 32 past the hour. The Dow begins the day at all-time high. That could change with several new reports coming out this morning. One reports on the U.S. private sector added 158,000 jobs last month that number, below prediction.

On to politics now. Dr. Ben Carson, the world renowned John Hopkins neurosurgeon turned conservative darling, after slapping Obamacare at the National Prayer Breakfast in front of the president. Up next, a star turn at the annual conference of conservatives, CPAC, where Carson drew cheers when he hinted about a possible White House run. But Carson stumbled in a Fox News interview where he seemed to link homosexuality to bestiality and pedophilia. He later apologized during an appearance on CNN.


DR. BEN CARSON, NEUROSURGEON, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: As a Christian we have a duty to love everyone as ourselves. I love gay people, I love straight people. This was really, I think on my behalf, somewhat insensitive and I certainly apologize if I offended anyone, because I was not in any way comparing gays with people who engage in bestiality or sexual child abuse.


COSTELLO: But now Carson is focusing on a different target. White liberals.


MARK LEVIN, HOST, THE MARK LEVIN SHOW: You're attacked also, in many respects, because of your race. Because you're not supposed to think like this and talk like this. A lot of white liberals just don't like it, do they?

CARSON: Well, you know, they are the most racist people there are, because they put you in a little category, a little box. You have to think this way. How could you dare come off the plantation?

(END AUDIO CLIP) COSTELLO: Joining me now, Democratic strategist Robert Zimmerman and former special assistant to President George W. Bush and Republican strategist, Ron Christie. Welcome to you, both.


COSTELLO: Robert, you are a liberal elitist, I say that lovingly.


COSTELLO: So you know a lot of intellectual white elitists, right? So is Dr. Carson right?

ZIMMERMAN: We have conference calls every couple of days and work up our list. I must tell you, I deplore, when I see anyone, from any category, use racism as a political punchline or racism as an excuse. Let's be realistic. Bigotry, racism, it exists in every segment of our society and every part of the political spectrum. But the issue for Dr. Carson, is that he's trying to engage in these attacks on white liberals as he calls them, because he's under attack for bigoted behavior himself. It took him several days to get to his apology at CNN. First he tried to claim his bigoted comments about the gay community were just out of context. I can't imagine the right context those statements would be acceptable in.

COSTELLO: Okay, so Ron, I want to try to take the politics out of it because it's an interesting and important issue. You know, I mean there are racists of every political persuasion, right? We can all agree, right?


ZIMMERMAN: Absolutely.

COSTELLO: Absolutely. So this is from the blog And this man blogs, "Pointing out liberal racism, while failing and refusing to attack the blatant racism in his own party just means that Dr. Carson is not serious with his concern over the racism that African Americans face. He is only the latest voice to be a shill for the Republican party, desperate to re-brand themselves."

Does he have a point, Ron?

CHRISTIE: No, absolutely not. In fact, I think when you listen to the Mark Levine's show when he interviewed Dr. Carson a few days back, he absolutely was spot-on in his criticism of keeping blacks in a box, who are conservative, and wanting to keep them on the liberal plantation. Every week, every day, I get notes saying that you are an Uncle Yom, you're a sellout. I was called that by a representative of Maxine Waters' from California, for being a conservative Republican. All the time, if you are out in the public view and you are black, and you are conservative and you dare not to vote Democratic, you dare not to be a liberal, are you accused of being a sellout, an Uncle Tom.

I think what Dr. Carson said on Dr. Levine's radio show the other day was absolutely correct. I like Robert Zimmerman a lot, he's my friend and a white elitist. But, again the underlying sentiment that we have here in this country where we have re-elected the first African American president, we have so many areas of progress in this country in areas of race and it seems to me that the liberal establishment can't stomach having African American conservatives.

COSTELLO: I've heard that from more than one person, Robert, that liberals are among the most racist, it's not politically correct to say it.

ZIMMERMAN: It's also -- it's a dumb stereotype. I mean, let me be clear. Ron Christie -- Ron is not just a man who I have enormous respect for, he's also a personal friend. He gives elitism a good name actually. But the point here is these kinds of stereotypes and name- calling is really not productive. But I think the issue you raised before, Carol, is very important.

We have a responsibility to attack racism, not in the partisan context, but when we see it in the own party. I have not seen Dr. Carson stand up to the racist comments that Donald Trump has engaged in, or the bigoted behavior I've witnessed in the Republican party, or their attitude toward women or the gay community. I think that's really the standard by which we have to judges our ability to attack these issues. Whether we're prepared to look at ourselves, to look at our own party and hold our own parties accountable.

COSTELLO: All right, Ron Christie, Robert Zimmerman, thank you for tackling such a tough subject this morning. We appreciate it.

CHRISTIE: Thank you, Carol.

COSTELLO: Coming up in the NEWSROOM, a hover craft or a bubba craft? Bubba Watson with a new way to hit the links (ph).


COSTELLO: Forty-one minutes past the hour, time to check our top stories. After almost 43 years behind bars, Louis Taylor is a free man. He was convicted for setting a fire at a hotel in Arizona that killed nearly 30 people. There's very little evidence against Taylor, and he has adamantly maintained his innocence for nearly half a century behind bars.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, how does it feel to be out, sir, after 40- some years?

LOUIS TAYLOR, FREED AFTER ALMOST 43 YEARS IN PRISON: It feels good to feel mother Earth under my feet - free mother Earth. That's only part of the story. They don't know the whole story. Our story still out there, but it's unfortunate, the tale of two tragedies, the tiny hotel fire and me getting convicted for it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COSTELLO: He went to prison when he was 16 years old. Modern experts call the evidence against Taylor into question, but he accepted a deal for his release, and pleaded no contest to the charges. Taylor is now 59 years old.

We're getting a new look at the sinkhole that took the life of a Florida man on February 28th. Ithat sink hole opened up under a home and swallowed Jeff Bush. He was sleeping in his bedroom. This video was shot by a government contract worker using a video camera on a pole. You can see how deep that sinkhole is. Bush's body was never recovered and the house had to be demolished.

Jay-Z, adding another line to his resume. Sports agent. The entertainment mogul is launching a management company called Rock Nation Sports. First client? New York Yankee superstar Robinson Cano. Cano broke ties with longtime mega-agent Scott Boyer (ph).

Just ahead in the NEWSROOM, Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice captured on video abusing his players, yelling homophobic slurs. So why wasn't he fired? We'll talk about that.


COSTELLO: It's the athlete's buzz of the sports world today. Rutgers University men's head basketball coach Mike Rice going over the line. ESPN aired this video from a team practice -- the team practice last November where Rice grabbed, pushed, shoved players, he threw basketballs at them, he yelled homophobic slurs and other kinds of slurs I can't say on TV.

Rutgers suspended the coach in December, but it's now facing pressure to fire Rice. Our affiliate, News 12 New Jersey interviewed Tim Pernetti. He's the athletic director at Rutgers.


JON WERTHEIM, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "SPORTS ILLUSTRATED": The first question would be when did you hear about it? And what was your reaction?

TIM PERNETTI, RUTGERS DIRECTOR OF INTERCOLLEGIATE ATHLETICS: Well, you know, we were made aware of some things last summer that we looked in to and then I was presented with a tape of some of the issues of practice in November and we immediately commenced an investigation. We hired somebody independent of the university to do. It talked to everybody in the program. We looked at hundreds of hours of practice film to put it in context.

But needless to say, there was a lot of behavior here that was unacceptable and it's not to the Rutgers standard. That's why we handed out a significant amount of suspension that we did and all the things that came along with that. It's an unfortunate situation, you know, definitely it was not an instance where I had a lot of people at my door concerned about the matter.

But as soon as we were made aware of the fact, we dealt with it and Mike obviously paid a significant price for that.

WERTHEIM: Now the video we're seeing today, I think the way the media works, is you think it just happened. Is this the video that happened before the suspension? These are incidents that you have seen happen beforehand?

PERNETTI: Yes, everything -- we've looking at practice film in full every single day since and this is all things that occurred before and needless to say, helped us set the parameters on a going forward basis for what our expectations were. Every coach at Rutgers understand what the Rutgers standard is and it this case, that coach varied from that and paid a significant penalty for it. Tut we're taking this -- this first offense as an opportunity to re-educate Mike Rice on the Rutgers standard.

WERTHEIM: Now this video came out -- I'm driving up here from Trenton to get here and I hear Francesa saying who leaked the video and apparently it wasn't leaked at all. How did the video become public? And ESPN get their hands on it?

PERNETTI: Eric Murdoch and his attorneys, who have been in discussion with the university about his employment, produced and obviously provided the video. Because that's what ESPN possesses which is fine. You know all along through this whole process being a public university and we operate in a transparent on matter, we expected the video to be produced at some point.

We didn't produce it ourselves in December. Because we're always concerned about the welfare of our student athletes and there's a lot of kids that are on that film that might not like to be in the spotlight of something like this.

But we are fully prepared, you know, for this to happen. And had we not dealt with the issue -- we've dealt with the issue in a significant way, I think if you look at what's been done in college basketball over the last five to ten years. And we're comfortable on a moving forward basis that we all understand each other. And there will be no margin for error on the going forward basis as it relates to people's behavior.

WERTHEIM: Well I understand that you know you think the fire is put out. And this sort of starts the fire again. Like the ashes were still smouldering. How does what happened today affect Mike Rice's tenure at Rutgers going forward?

PERNETTI: I think it will affect Mike Rice wherever he goes. It certainly affects his tenure. We are trying to do everything we can do to support him. But we also have to penalize him in the process too. Because there are certain words that are said and actions that are taken that are not acceptable no matter who you are, where you work, and certainly not at Rutgers. So it's going to have an effect and it's a difficult thing to climb out of, but everybody has got to try to do their part to make that happen.

WERTHEIM: Is his job safe today? Or are we are going to have see how this thing all shakes out? PERNETTI: Yes again we dealt with issue four months or four and a half months ago, five months ago and it's clear at the end of the season about where we were on a going forward basis. That's still where we are.


COSTELLO: All right that's "Sports Illustrated" executive editor Jon Wertheim joins us now. Jon did you hear that -- did catch all that?

WERTHEIM (via telephone): I caught all of that, I did.

COSTELLO: Ok he seems to be intimating, the athletic director, that this Mike Rice abusive incident was an isolated one. Did it seem that way to you?

WERTHEIM: Well I mean there were -- the tapes speak for itself. I mean there were multiple, multiple instances and I just, I don't know how this becomes a matter of degree. I mean, this is so far over the line and you hear athletes and coaches talk sometimes about how it goes on in practice. It's a huge environment and people don't understand unless they're part of a team.

But this so far beyond the pale and the response from the sports community I think is really telling. I mean even other athletes in other sports say I've never seen anything like this. And for an athletic director to sort of talk about this being a first offense and we're dealing with this and there was a three-game suspension, it's fairly ludicrous, it's fairly appalling. And you do wonder if Mike Rice is going to survive this.

COSTELLO: Well -- well, the NCAA has ruled, right. The NCAA could be involved because one of the seven NCAA operating principles is student athletes' well-being. So could the NCAA come in and say, "Rutgers, you're not taking care of your students well enough by letting this guy continue to coach?"

WERTHEIM: Yes, I mean the NCAA tends not to get involved in affairs like this. They leave them to the school but I don't see how anyone sees this tape and says that this is not a case of -- of student athletes getting abused. I mean the other irony that people have pointed out, if one of the students or these athletes have said, you know enough is enough, I don't need to subject myself to this, I'm going to transfer, they would have had to sit out a year as a penalty.

So the system is very much rigged in favor of the schools and the administrators and the fact that you can treat your players like this and come away with a three-game suspension and have your boss you know then assert that this was adequate, it's pretty ludicrous and I think that the fallout from this is just beginning.

And I can't imagine that any coach that Rutgers is competing against for a recruit isn't going to air this video. It's very tough to see how the coach survive this and then frankly I have to think the athletic director is imperilled as well. COSTELLO: My last question to you, Bobby Knight -- and I bring that up because I was in Indianapolis. I was working there at the time when Bobby Knight put his hands, you know, around the throat of that player. He survived for a very long time but he had a winning basketball program, Rutgers doesn't. So, I mean I don't know what that says but I just want your thoughts on this.

WERTHEIM: Yes, I mean that shouldn't be -- but I mean you're right. Bobby Knight has a national title and that probably led to some tolerance of behavior that would have gotten him fired elsewhere. Rutgers does not have that success. But you would have to think that any coach under any circumstances, physically abusing his players like this, the homophobic remarks and, again, I mean there are dozens and dozens of instances.

I mean this wasn't, you know, this wasn't one bad day of practice that people are taking out of context. This was clearly a pattern of bad behavior. Again, I don't see how a coach survives this, he shouldn't survive this and frankly I'm not sure how the administrator who permits this to go on and tell us that a three-game suspension is adequate survives this either.

COSTELLO: All right. Jon Wertheim from "Sports Illustrated". Thank you so much for being with us.

We'll be right back.

WERTHEIM: Thank you.


COSTELLO: Just one out is all that separated the Rangers Yu Darvish from baseball immortality but that last out was always the hardest one, isn't it. Andy Scholes joins us with today's "Bleacher Report". Good morning.

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: And good morning Carol. Is there anything worst than getting to one out away from a perfect game and then giving up that hit. Well, that's what happened to the Rangers' Yu Darvish last night in Houston.

He was cruising up and down after his line-up all night. He struck out 14. Batter is (inaudible) Astro's nine-hole hitter Marwin Gonzales to complete the perfect game but Gonzalez right here hits it right between Yu's legs. The perfect is no more. Yu's great night ends in heartbreak but the Rangers still won 7-0.

Well, and Brittney Griner's stellar college career has come to an end but could the NBA be next. Well, the Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban said he would draft the 6-foot-8 Griner if she's the best available player on the board. Even he doesn't draft her, Cuban he would give Griner a try out.

After dominating the game of college basketball for the last four years, Griner said hey, he's ready. She tweeted at Cuban, I would hold my own, let's do it. Well, finally, are you tired of having to drive around all those pesky water hazards while playing golfing? Well, Masters champ Bubba Watson has a solution for you. A hover craft -- now this is not an April's Fools' joke.

BUBBA WATSON, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: We teamed up and we came up with this idea that you do a -- to do a hover craft. Let's change the game of golf a little bit. Let's make it crazy. So it's fun to do. It was scary to drive it. I only had a five-minute lesson but then I figured out how to drive it.


SCHOLES: This new hovercraft golf cart dubbed the BW1 can go anywhere on a golf course leaving relatively no trace behind.

To see everything that Bubba-craft can do, you can head over to

Carol, I don't get to the golf course very often but if they had hovercrafts out there, I think I would go every weekend.

COSTELLO: I'm one of those rare people who think golf is unbelievably boring. But maybe if I was riding in a hover craft --

SCHOLES: You got to drive that?

COSTELLO: Exactly. Maybe Bubba's right. Bring some excitement to the game. Although I hear it costs $32,000 for one of those puppies.

SCHOLES: Yes, one drawback.

COSTELLO: Andy, thank you.


COSTELLO: The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM after a break.