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Paula Deen Does Damage Control; Supreme Court Overturns DOMA; Zimmerman Trial; Alex Rodriguez in Hot Water over Tweet

Aired June 26, 2013 - 12:30   ET



SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it was a tearful apology over using racial slurs, celebrity chef Paula Deen speaking out today about her troubles. Now we know that Caesar's Entertainment has dropped her. The company says it's going to rebrand the four themed restaurants.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Yeah, also, QVC, the shopping network, says it's weighing its options after that deposition revealed that Deen has used racial slurs.

As her business empire crumbles, Dean took on damage control. Have a listen.


PAULA DEEN, CELEBRITY CHEF: If there's anyone out there that has never said something that they wished they could take back, if you're out there, please pick up that stone and throw it so hard at my head that it kills me. Please, I want to meet you.


MALVEAUX: So, Deen insists that she says she only used the "N"-word once, decades ago.

I want to bring in our Alina Machado, who's been following this story.

We were all watching that interview this morning. And what struck me is she contradicted she said in that interviewing, saying that she used the word once, but in her deposition she left it a lot more open- ended that that was possible that she had used it more than once.

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Suzanne, she did that in the interview today. And that was a distinction, an important distinction to make, and when you compare what she said today versus what was in that deposition.

Now you mentioned that Caesar's Entertainment has dropped her. We already know that the Food Network and Smithfield's Foods decision to end their business relationship was made public as well.

And today's interview is the first time that the celebrity has answered questions about last month's deposition in which she admitted having used the "N"-word.

Now in that same deposition, she was asked if using the racial slur in a joke was hurtful. She replied she could not herself determine what offends another person.

Here is what she said today about that.


MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS: Did you have any doubt in your mind that African-Americans are offended by the "N"-word?

DEEN: I don't know, Matt. I have asked myself that so many times because it's very distressing for me to go into my kitchens and I hear what these young people are calling each other. It's very, very distressing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You never joined in on that language?

DEEN: No, absolutely not.


MACHADO: Now Deen also became very emotional. She seemed to break down.

She said she was heartbroken for what has happened. Listen to what she said next.


DEEN: I is what I is and I'm not changing. And I -- there's someone evil out there that saw what I had worked for and they wanted it.


MACHADO: Now in the interviews, Deen mentioned that she had wonderful support from Reverend Jesse Jackson.

I spoke with the reverend this morning. He says Deen called him a few days back and apologized, and even though he does not think anyone is beyond redemption, Reverend Jackson believes Deen's apology should be followed with actions.

Suzanne, Michael?

MALVEAUX: Does she -- I mean, she said somebody was evil out there. Who is she referring to? Do we know? Is that the person filing the lawsuit against her?

MACHADO: It wasn't clear in terms of who she was referring to, but one can assume that she's referring to the woman, the former employee who filed this civil lawsuit.

MALVEAUX: OK. All right.

It will be interesting to see if she can rebrand or regroup and redeem herself.

HOLMES: Yeah, indeed. Everybody is sort of dropping off here, aren't they, all the business links anyway?

All right, coming up, we're going to get reaction to today's Supreme Court decisions from a group that opposes same-sex marriage.

Do stay with us.


MALVEAUX: Supporters of same-sex marriage celebrating two major rulings today by the U.S. Supreme Court.

A five-to-four vote, the justices struck down a key provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. or DOMA. That provision legally denied married same-sex couples from the same federal benefits that straight couples get.

HOLMES: Yeah, the court weighing in on California's Proposition 8. It bans same-sex marriage in that state.

The justices said Prop 8 supporters have no legal standing to defend the law. Now that ruling clears the way for same-sex marriages to resume in California.

MALVEAUX: Joining us from the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court, John Eastman. He is with the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage.

Clearly this was not a winning day for you or your team. What do you make of the decisions from the supreme court? Where do you go next?

JOHN EASTMAN, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF MARRIAGE: We think the court got it wrong in both decisions, but I think it's important to focus on what remains in place. Section 2 of the Defense of Marriage Act remains in place.

Justice Kennedy's opinion in that case specifically recognizes that the state's define marriage policy for their states.

And, oddly, that decision in DOMA suggests that the trial court ruling in the Proposition 8 case, which is technically still on the books, is erroneous, because what Judge Walker did in that is say California can't define marriage for itself.

HOLMES: John, going to jump in here. I'm just curious and it goes to how the decisions were outlined today, too.

The question being, how are you harmed by this decision? How is anyone harmed by this decision?

EASTMAN: Yeah, one has to look at how society had benefitted from traditional marriage to answer be able to answer that, and when you destroy or redefine the institution, all of society is going to be harmed, not any individual, but society which has created, put such stock in the institution as a counter-balance to government in the way that we raise and educate our children, primarily.

HOLMES: But how is that harmed? That still exists.

EASTMAN: How is that harmed? You destroy the institution by making it something about adults and making children irrelevant to the definition. That has a cataclysmic effect on the purpose of the institution.

MALVEAUX: And does it concern you at all that the public opinion, public seems to be in a different place where you are, the latest CNN/ORC poll showing that -- it was back in 2008 you had 44 percent who were in support of same-sex marriage. Now it's at 55 percent.

And you have people like conservative Ted Olson who is leading the charge for marriage equality. Does it concern you might be out of step, lockstep here and on the wrong side of history?

EASTMAN: You know, polls come and go. The fact of the matter is ...

MALVEAUX: Well, no, these are people's opinions. It's clear that people's opinions are changing now.

EASTMAN: You asked me a question. Do you want me to answer or not?

MALVEAUX: Please go.

EASTMAN: OK, the fact of the matter, polls go up. They go down.

The fact of the matter is 37 states have voted to reaffirm traditional marriage in recent times. Ted Olson's efforts to have same-sex marriage imposed on the nation failed.

The supreme court did not accept that argument and said that each state is going to continue to define marriage for its own purposes, and 37 states have done so in defining traditional marriage as a man and a woman.

HOLMES: Yeah, I want to read Antonin Scalia's lengthy dissent or just a bit of it, by the way.

He said the court has cheated both sides, robbing the winners of an honest victory and the losers of the peace that comes from a fair defeat. We owed them better.

Obviously you'd agree with that, but why?

EASTMAN: Well, you know, I'm sorry. I'm having a little trouble hearing you.

But Justice Scalia is obviously miffed at the court weighing in, striking down Defense of Marriage Act, saying that the federal government has no place to define marriage for purposes of its own law.

They're not talking about defining it for purposes of state's law, but for purposes of federal law. So just one example, on immigration, which is a plenary power of the federal government, does that mean the federal government has to defer to the states and we'll have different immigration policies depending on which state that you're in?

That doesn't make any sense. And I think Justice Scalia is rightly frustrated with the incoherence of Justice Kennedy's opinion.

MALVEAUX: All right, John Eastman, thank you so much. We appreciate your perspective and your time as well. Thank you.

EASTMAN: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: We've got big developments. This is the George Zimmerman trial. The judge is deciding that jurors can actually hear Zimmerman's previous 911 calls.

We're going to actually talk, what does that mean for the case?


MALVEAUX: We've actually been hearing emotional testimony and seeing some pretty graphic images. This is from the night George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin.

HOLMES: Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial is moving on pretty quickly really, this in Sanford, Florida, of course.

I want to look closer at some of the proceedings now.

MALVEAUX: Let's bring in CNN legal analyst Paul Callan, joining us from New York.

So, today, Paul, the jurors heard from two women who actually saw part of this altercation between Zimmerman and Martin. Let's, first, listen to what they said.


BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, ASSISTANT STATE ATTORNEY: The yells for help that you heard at that time could you identify whether it was the dominant louder voice or the higher pitched one?

JANE SURDYKA, WITNESS: In my opinion, I truly believe especially the second yell for help that was like a yelp. I really felt it was the boy's voice.

JEANNEE MANALO, WITNESS: One is on top of the other. The one on top was moving his hand, arms.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're describing something with the hands or demonstrating moving something with his hands.

Can you tell what the person was doing on top with his hands?

MANALO: Like he's hitting him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is your opinion as to who was on top? MANALO: I believe it was Zimmerman, comparing the size of their body.


MALVEAUX: Paul, can you explain that. The size of their body? Were they evenly matched? Do we know?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: This is why this is so important, Suzanne. Under Florida law, if George Zimmerman was the aggressor, the initial aggressor, in this fight, he's not allowed to use deadly, physical force to defend himself. He forfeits that right if he started it.

So the whole idea about who's yelling "help," who's on top and who's on the bottom, all very, very important issues. We do know this. Trayvon Martin was -- he was a big kid. I mean he was 17 years old. He was a football player. He was considerably taller than Zimmerman. Zimmerman, I think, in the public mind, is thought to be bigger because he was older. But in truth, Zimmerman is probably the smaller figure.

As the testimony comes in, though, it sounds like the witnesses believe that Trayvon Martin was in sort of the submissive position with Zimmerman on top. So this -- it's not very clear this testimony.

HOLMES: Yes, and a lot of it fairly subjective too in way. You know, another thing that's interesting is Trayvon Martin's mother was in court. We're told she couldn't, you know, hold back her tears today. You see it there. No doubt jurors saw that too. And, of course, yesterday, the father walked out when jurors were shown photos of Trayvon Martin's body. Now, tell us about those shows of emotion, graphic pictures, testimonies and the like, how they impact the jury, potentially the outcome of the trial.

CALLAN: Well, this is part of the building block of a murder case. I mean I've tried a lot of murder cases as a prosecutor myself and there's - I always would sit down with the parents and say, you know, there's going to be some tough moments. We're going to -- you're going to see pictures of your child in court. And a lot of times the parents say, I don't want to be there and they're not in court when the testimony comes out.

The question I have here now is, was this orchestrated by the prosecution? Did they say, you know, we're going to -- we'll let you leave during the testimony. Or it may simply have come up spontaneously. The parents may have said, no, we want to be there for everything and then maybe the emotion of it was just too much and they had to leave. We'll - someday we'll know the back story. We don't know at this point. But it has an impact on the jury. It's a horribly horrible moment and it's very, very sympathetic to lose a child. And, you know, a lot of women on the jury with kids. So, that was a tough -- that's tough evidence for the Zimmerman forces to face.

MALVEAUX: Is that typical that the prosecution - that they would use that as a strategy, to actually have the parents in the room and react? CALLAN: It's not at all unusual. The emotion is used by prosecution in murder cases. A lot of times, for instance, you have big fights about whether autopsy pictures should go into evidence. A lot of times prosecutors want them to go into evidence because they want the jury to see how horrific the killing was. And that's to stir up the emotions of the jurors. This sort of was an attempt to stir up the emotion in that jury panel, I think.

MALVEAUX: All right, Paul Callan. Thank you, Paul. Appreciate it.

CALLAN: OK. Nice being with you.

HOLMES: All right, well, coming up, the Yankees general manager had some pretty choice words for A-Rod, his star third baseman. You won't want to miss this. We'll have it when we come back.


MALVEAUX: Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez in a little bit of hot water with his boss. This is because of a tweet that he posted about his condition following hip surgery.

HOLMES: Yes, he should have had lip surgery. He wrote that his doctor had cleared him to play, but that tweet drew some pretty choice words from the Yankees general manager, Brian Cashman. Rachel Nichols is in New York.

Rachel, goodness me, Alex Rodriguez. What's he doing now?

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN SPORTS: You know, Alex only joined Twitter less than a month ago.


NICHOLS: And at the time there's a lot of people in sports who said, this is not going to be a good idea.

MALVEAUX: Not a good idea.

HOLMES: Twitter side (ph).

NICHOLS: Sure enough, here we are.

This idea of when he was going to be able to come back in full games has been a little bit at odds between Alex's camp and the Yankees. Alex's camp had floated that he might be ready. The Yankees shot it down. So the fact that this tweet thing came out, very frustrating for the Yankees brass.

And Cashman, the GM of the Yankees, well, our friends at "The New York Post," guys, have summed this up in their nice, usual, quiet, reserved, understated way at "The New York Post." This was his quote back. In fact, we can read his exact quote that he delivered to ESPN New York. He talked to them about the idea that, hey, it's the organization that says when Alex gets to come back. And he said, "you know what, when the Yankees want to announce something, we will. Alex should just shut the bleep up," or as "The New York Post" spelled it out for you there.

So he said, "that's it. I'm going to call Alex now." Although apparently, according to reports, he wasn't even able to reach him. He had to e-mail him. so that kind of tells you the state between the Yankees and their star slugger right now, although it's been a difficult road for these two. Alex Rodriguez is not the guy that they signed that $10 million -- 10-year, $275 million contract two years ago. It hasn't been going well.

MALVEAUX: Wow, dropping the f-bomb there.

HOLMES: Yes. Absolutely.

MALVEAUX: Is he going to return to the Yankees? Do we know?


NICHOLS: He will -



NICHOLS: Because they are paying him. I mean this is really why you're getting that frustration from the GM, Brian Cashman, because they are locked into this marriage. There is no divorce. They've given him this incredible amount of money. He's under an investigation for Major League Baseball for performance enhancing drugs. But even if he's found guilty of that, MLB can suspend him for up to 100 games and the Yankees still have to keep him on their roster. There's no out clause even for something like that. So I think this is a frustrated union. You're seeing frustration from the Yankees side. The owner has said he is, quote, "disappointed" in Alex Rodriguez, but he will be back because the checks keep coming.

HOLMES: Yes. That's a lot of money for a guy who hasn't been playing all that well and seems to want to commit twiticide.

Good to see you, Rachel. Appreciate that.

MALVEAUX: Oh, (INAUDIBLE). It's nice to see you, Rachel, as always.

U.S. stocks starting to rebound after two highly volatile days of trading there, up 110 points or so. The Dow up --

HOLMES: Yes, 0.75 percent after a pretty lousy, what, Thursday, Friday, Monday.

MALVEAUX: Yes, a pretty good turnaround there.


MALVEAUX: All right, we'll have more when we get back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HOLMES: Going to take you to Austin, Texas, now. A night of intense drama over a restrictive abortion bill that ended in chaos. Have a listen.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I can't have order, we will suspend the roll call vote until we can get order in the chamber.


MALVEAUX: The Republican dominated senate failed to pass the bill by the midnight deadline because the chamber erupted. You see it there, boos, shouts of shame, shame just drowning out the vote. This lasted for 15 minutes.

HOLMES: Yes. And that's a response to the senate chairman cutting off Democrat Wendy Davis' attempt at a 13th hour filibuster. She'd gone -- the ruling that she had gone off topic. Thirteen hours. The bill would have banned most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and tightened standards on abortion clinics.

MALVEAUX: And critics say it was a move to shut down abortion clinics in Texas.

Well, that's it for us. CNN NEWSROOM starts right after this. Have a great afternoon.

HOLMES: See you tomorrow.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The decision is in. The United States Supreme Court gives supporters of same-sex marriage a huge win, striking down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Another court back in session this hour and controversial 911 tapes will be played during George Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial. We'll bring you the latest from Sanford, Florida.

And Paula Deen calls accusations she's a racist, quote, "horrible lies."

I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington and this is CNN NEWSROOM. Let's get right to all the news.