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Louisville Celebrates NCAA Victory; Heavy Snow, Hail, Possible Tornado; Artists Show Support for DEMS, GOP; "Accidental Racist" Sparks Firestorm; Jackie Robinson Film Opens Friday

Aired April 9, 2013 - 10:30   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for being with me. Checking our "Top Stories" at 30 minutes past the hour.

Bonded in grief, united by cause these Newtown families visit Capitol Hill today. Each person lost a loved one at Sandy Hook. They'll make a personal plea to senators who have not yet committed on stricter gun control legislation.

Two boys abducted from their grandmother's home in Florida last week are believed to be in Cuba with their parents. A Florida sheriff's deputy says it received -- he's received information the family fled the United States possibly in a sailboat. Joshua and Sharyn Hakken who are from Louisiana lost custody of their boys last year and then lost their parental rights a week ago. A State Department official tells CNN that US officials in Cuba are aware of the situation.

Star wars on the open sea. The U.S. Navy unveiling a laser it says can bring drone aircraft and sink small boats. Take a look at that. The first deployment for the new weapons slated for next year. The Navy says a blast from the laser costs about a box compared to hundreds of thousands of dollars for an actual missile.

Their dreams could have been broken when Kevin Ware broke his leg, but this morning, the Louisville Cardinals are national champions, they beat Michigan in dramatic fashion at the Georgia Dome and that's where we find Joe Carter this morning. What a celebration.

JOE CARTER, BLEACHER REPORT: Yes, Carol, it was. And what a game we had. What a thrilling national championship. You know the big story this week obviously is how we followed Kevin Ware, the injured guard from Louisville.

But last night for a moment -- for a moment a freshman named Spike really stole the show -- a lot of people talking about him today. Spike Albrecht had averaged one point per game coming in last night. But he scored 17, which gave Michigan a big lead. But then the momentum shifted over to Louisville and that's when the MVP got hot. Luke Hancock made four threes in a row in the rally Louisville finished strong in the second half. They won the game, 82-76.

Pitino now the first coach to win a title with two different schools. Then after the game a really nice moment when they lowered the basket so injured guard Kevin Ware could cut down the net. And it was an emotional moment for this team and then afterwards, Rick Pitino, you could just hear the emotion in his voice when he spoke with our Rachel Nichols about how proud he is of this squad.


RICK PITINO, HEAD COACH, LOUISVILLE CARDINALS: You don't know sometimes, you know, we have a lot of discipline in our program. And anytime you struggle and you have to fight for things in your life, you become very close. And the spontaneous emotion from that event today makes me as proud as any moment I've ever had in coaching.

To see the love of my players for an injured player, to see the courage of the injured player to say forget me. It's not about me we have to win. Just as a teacher of the game, it's just the most special moment anyone could ever have.


CARTER: All right. So now it is the women's turn. They'll play UConn tonight for the national championship. If you haven't heard of the Schimmel sisters it's a great story. They are making unique history, Shoni and Jude grew up on the Umatilla Indian reservation in eastern Oregon.

Now put this in perspective out of the more than 10,000 men and women basketball players at the Division 1 level only two dozen are native- American. It's not only aren't two native-Americans playing on the same team. They're also sisters. And they're a big reason why this Louisville team is just one win away from winning a championship at the sport's highest level.

Now if Louisville does manage to win tonight. That means the both the men's and women's programs will have championships. They'll be the first team to do that Carol since UConn did it back in 2004.

So all things are good for the Louisville Cardinals right now -- Carol.

COSTELLO: All things are good for the State of Kentucky. Thanks so much Joe Carter reporting live.

The "Fab Five", by the way, were also at the Georgia Dome and we're talking all five: Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Ray Jackson, Jimmy King, they all sat together. Missing in that seating arrangement, though, Chris Weber, but he was in the building. Weber even tweeted a picture of himself sporting his wolverine colors last night back in 1993. You might remember especially if you're from Michigan, Weber's time-out call ended Michigan's chances of winning the title.

Schools closed. Hundreds of flights canceled. And the worst may be still ahead. A spring storm, we'll tell you about it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COSTELLO: Let's head to northwest Kansas now where a camera crew is chasing severe thunderstorms. They got caught up in a huge -- this huge cloud of dust. This was actually near the Colorado state lines. At times those storm chasers could hardly see what was in front of them. The strong winds also triggered tornado warnings.

It's spring, parts of the playing to the Rockies could see wild weather as well today. We're talking heavy snow, tornados and hail. Take a look some of the hail that's already rained down in Kansas, you can hear it's hitting the ground in Colorado. Storm chasers capture what appeared to be a possible tornado touching down last night.

Jim Spellman is lucky enough to be in Golden Colorado this morning. Oh it looks beautiful there Jim.

JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's spring break in Colorado, right? Take a look this is golden, just outside of Denver. It's been snowing for hours here. The plows go up and down, trying to keep the roads clear. It's about 470 plows out across the state. We already know almost 500 flights have been cancelled at Denver airport, they're probably get a lot as the afternoon goes on here Carol.

But there really is a silver lining, because we need this moisture. We need this water. Last year terrible wildfire season, terrible drought. We had a pretty good snow fall in March and now this sort of unexpected possibly up to a foot of snow really could be helpful for that. So that's good.

Plus kids get the day off, this is the first snow day in Denver the whole year in April of all things. So they're enjoying it. So if they can stay safe on the roads, stay safe in the air and parents can keep from going crazy with the kids at home, the snow is a good thing for Colorado.

COSTELLO: OK oh that's a good way to looking at it. I like glass half full people. Jim Spellman thanks so much.

SPELLMAN: You bet.

COSTELLO: Question for you this morning. "What is accidental racism?"

The country music star Brad Paisley well he wrote a song about it and it's causing quite a bit of controversy. We'll explore the issue next.


COSTELLO: To the politics of music. Rock stars usually stump for Democrats, country stars usually stump for Republicans, and sometimes it gets ugly. Hanks Williams Jr., remember during the last election?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When John Boehner played golf with President Obama? HANK WILLIAMS JR., MUSICIAN: Oh, yes, yes and Biden and Kasich, yes, uh-huh.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you not like about it? It seems to be a really pivotal moment for you.

WILLIAMS: Come on. Come on that would be like Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu.

They're the enemy, they're the enemy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who is the enemy?

WILLIAMS: Obama and Biden.


COSTELLO: Enter Brad Paisley, a country music star who tries his best to be inclusive. Paisley performed at President Obama's inauguration, although he did not endorse Mr. Obama for president. Paisley's next step, a song performed with LL Cool J. Paisley calls it "Accidental Racist". Listen.


BRAD PAISLEY, MUSICIAN: I'm just a white man coming to you from the southland trying to understand what it's like not to be. I'm proud of where I'm from but not everything we've done and it aren't like you and me can rewrite history --


LEMON: LL Cool J then responds with a rap about how certain clothing can also lead to stereotypes, not just of white men, but black men as well.


LL COOL J, RAPPER: Dear Mr. White Man, I wish you understood what the world is really like when you're living in the hood. Just because my pants are sagging doesn't mean I'm up to no good --


COSTELLO: OK. So let's just say "Accidental Racist" has become controversial.

With me now to discuss Jason Johnson, Hiram College political science professor and chief political correspondent for Politic365, and Ross Douthat, a CNN contributor and op-ed columnist for "The New York Times". Welcome to you both.

COSTELLO: OK. So let's just say "Accidental Racist" has become controversial. With me now to discuss: Jason Johnson, Hiram College political science profession and chief political correspondent for Politic365; and Ross Douthat, a CNN contributor and op-ed columnist for the "New York Times". Welcome to you both.



Good morning and thanks for being willing to talk about this, because it's kind of a --

DOUBTHAT: It's a pivotal moment in race relations. Oh yes, how can we not talk about it? It's a breakthrough on every level.

See, You Scoff, and LL Cool J really meant that it should be that Ross. I'd like to start though with Jason Johnson. So the song begins with Brad Paisley walking into a Starbucks with a tee shirt with a confederate flag on it. And he says that's an example of being an accidental racist. Does that make sense to you?

JOHNSON: No, it doesn't make any sense to me. And I hadn't heard of Brad Paisley before this happened. So I just think that I don't have enough criticism he's receiving. I think his part of the song was perfectly fine. It was very sincere. If you wear a shirt that's got a confederate flag on it, a lot of people somehow are going to associate that with racism and violence and rape and abuse of black people for 700 years. That's crazy of them.

But I think he is sincere in saying he wants to open up a dialog. It's L.L. Cool J's part that is really something that's driving people crazy. It's the most idiotic rap I've heard in about 25 Years. Ridiculous. Do you mean because he started with Dear Mr. Might. Not just that -- because he says things like If you forgive my gold chains, I'll forgive the iron chains. I've got to think Abraham Lincoln for free. I mean He's obviously of auditioning for a role at CPAC next year. It was some of the most asinine things I've heard from a rapper. It sounds like a 14 year old's Black History Month project.

COSTELLO: Ross I just want to read you some more lyrics and we'll read some of LL Cook J's heart of the song since Jason criticized it pretty much.

He said "Dear Mr. Whiteman, now my chains are gold. But I'm still misunderstood. I wasn't there when Sherman's march turned the South to firewood. I want you to get paid, I guess for reconstruction. But being a slave, I never could. Really? I'd love to buy you a beer and conversate." Ross I leave it to you

DOUTHAT: Should I speak up for L.L. Cool J.

I think that, I guess I would just say this. I think that it is, the song is not a great work of art. I agree that it includes many ridiculous and borderline offensive phrases, particularly in the L.L. Cool J portion. On the other hand, I do sort of agree particularly for Brad Paisley the line about I'm proud of where I'm from but not everything we've done. Race is a very fraught topic in American life.

And the fact that this seems sort of stupid and dumb and ridiculous and so on to a lot of people. It also probably just reflects where a lot of people are, you know. They're not most people are not steeped in the historical literature about the civil war and reconstruction and slavery. They have sort of vague and general ideas about the subject.

You have a lot of white people whose attitude was basically, that was what my great, great grand parents did and I shouldn't be blamed for it. And you have a lot of black people whose attitude is understandably that, you know, this is a huge shadow over America Life even now. And the fact that the conversation seems sort of clunky and doesn't mean it's a bad conversation to have.

COSTELLO: Well, I sort of agree with Ross there Jason because I think Brad Paisley's heart was in the right place.

DOUTHAT: Well, (INAUDIBLE) speaking out for Brad.

COSTELLO: But I think LL Cool J's heart was in the right place too. The two men are friends.

JOHNSON: Yes, think the LL Cool J's heart was in the right place. Look, I'm a fan of his musing. And I just wish his brain was in the right place. I think he should stay out of politics.

The problem with it is the false dichotomy. This suggestion that wearing a do rag is the same thing as wearing you're confederate flag. There's just so many bad lines that are -- I think Brad was sincere. I think LL was sincere. He's just sincerely wrong.

COSTELLO: OK, last --

DOUBTHAT: I would just say, you know, if you're LL and you're dealing with, you know, what do you say to a guy who comes up to you and says, man, I just wore this confederate flag because I'm a huge Skynyrd fan. And I'm trying to be proud of the southland. Is he best reaction to that to say well, you're just a racist?

I mean look, again, I'm not trying to defend the specific content of the L.L. Cool rap. I'm just saying, you know, the attitude towards that kind of thing, I don't think anybody when brad paisley wore whatever he wore into Starbucks, he was actually trying to make ha statement about bringing back the confederacy, right?

DOUTHAT: Well, you know, maybe a little dialogue isn't the worst thing in the world.

COSTELLO: OK. Well, I'm sure this conversation will continue online, off and on entertainment tonight. Thank you very much Jason Johnson and Ross Douthat.

Breaking major league color barrier.

Up next Jackie Robinson's son and daughter joins me live to talk about their dad and the new movie about him, 42.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COSTELLO: It took 30 long years to bring his story to film. But this Friday, the movie about Jackie Robinson breaking Major League baseball's color barrier will open at theaters nationwide. "42" depicts the courage and bravery it took for Robinson to suit up in a Brooklyn Uniform, shows the bravery it took for him to suit up in a uniform during the time when segregation was the norm.

Here's a clip from the film. Showing is how Robinson reacts when he's injured on purpose.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next guy up, you hit him right in the head.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get me up. Just get him out. Just get him out. Understand? Game's too important.


COSTELLO: I'm joined now by Robinson's two surviving children; daughter Sharon Robinson and his son David Robinson. Welcome to you both.



So Sharon I'll start with you. I assume you've seen the film. What did you think?

S. ROBINSON: Six times. I love it. It's a powerful film. The acting is great. There's many special moments in it. You laugh. You, you're silent, stunned, silent at points. It moves very quickly. You know, it's great.

COSTELLO: Does it capture your dad?

S. ROBINSON: I feel it does. You know, he comes off strong and very determined. And you know, you see his character, the full strength of his character in the film. Chadwick Boseman just does an amazing job.

COSTELLO: David, your father in this movie is depicted as a hero. Many people in this country think of him as a hero. Would he consider himself a hero?

D. ROBINSON: He had a challenge. And an opportunity that was presented to him. And stepped-up to that challenge in a courageous way. Succeeded in the objectives that he and the game had set forth. And that has to be considered heroic. He was not a man to, to enhance his own thought about himself or other people's thought about himself but an honest evaluation and reflection would have to say it was a heroic challenge that was successful.

He would be the first to say that the film is excellent in terms of portraying a year and some of the dynamics and success, but that he would hope, I believe, the film to be inspirational for people to challenge the more complex social problems that exist today that are the not as easy to see as the "white only" sign on the bathroom as depicted in the film. But are equally holding back human potential today.

So that's really the challenge, and hopefully the film can inspire people today to become Branch Rickies and Jackie Robinsons of this era.

COSTELLO: And Sharon, none of us know what it was like for Jackie Robinson. None of us could know what that was like. Did he ever come to peace, do you think, with all that he endured in his baseball career?

S. ROBINSON: You know, he moved, as he retired from baseball, he moved very smoothly into the civil rights movement, and felt, was always surprised -- I remember when the little rock nine called and we were having dinner. And he was surprised that they said that he inspired them, because he thought they were so courageous.

So as David said, he was a humble man. He didn't focus so much on what he accomplished, more on what he could continue to do to move the, to move us forward.

COSTELLO: And just a last question, Sharon, for you. I think that many people would be surprised to know that your dad was a Republican. I've seen a lot of articles written about it.

S. ROBINSON: Well, actually, he was independent. He supported the candidate he felt was strongest. He made some mistakes. 1960 -- it was a big mistake. But he, he wasn't a Republican. He was an independent. And he felt that African-Americans had to have a voice in both parties.

Yes, because we always read that he supported Richard Nixon. Is that what you're talking about when you say a mistake.

S. ROBINSON: That's what I was talking about. I was ten years old. And I begged him to change. I had to go to school and say my dad was supporting Nixon. And it wasn't pleasant. But, you know, later acknowledged that he read the signs wrong.

COSTELLO: Thank you both for being with us. Jackie Robinson's kids -- Sharon and David. We'll be right back. This is my family. This is Joe.