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Conversation with Oprah & Whittaker; RNC, Television Networks Debate Hillary Clinton; Crash Tests for Dogs; Instant Reply Expanded in MLB; New Mammal Discovered.

Aired August 16, 2013 - 13:30   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Oprah Winfrey returns to the big screen after a 15 year gap. She stars with Forest Whitaker and Lee Daniels' "The Butler" which opens nationwide today. The film profiles a man who served American presidents over three decades. It's based on a true story and traces the dramatic upheavals of America during that period. Here's a little clip.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What was the name of that movie, honey?

FOREST WHITAKER, ACTOR: In the Heat of the Night with Sydney Portier.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: He's a white man's fantasy of what he wants us to be.

WHITAKER: What are you talking about? He just won the Academy Award. He's breaking down barriers for all of us.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Oprah and Whitaker sat down with Anderson Cooper. They spoke about the civil rights movement, Trayvon Martin, race and other issues. Here is the first part of that interview.


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, A.C. 360: You talked about that coming at this important time and there has been, in the Trayvon Martin case, there's been a discussion. I saw a Gallop poll that the majority says this is a discussion that needs to be had. Majority of whites say too much is being made of this discussion.


COOPER: How do you -- where do you --

WINFREY: That's why I love the film in light of this discussion is because it brings context to the discussion. When you look at the film, beginning with that lynching scene and walking into Obama's office, look at what has happened in the span of one man's lifetime.

WHITAKER: This movie reminds that the circle and motion of things still trying to work themselves out is still going on, as in the film. Now it's moving in and we're looking at Trayvon and Oscar Grant and all these situations and recognizing that we have to move ourselves forward in this chain in order for us to achieve our potential on what we said we were going to do.

WINFREY: And the truth of the matter is Emmett Till is a symbol for those times as Trayvon Martin has become a symbol for these times. There are multiple Trayvon Martin's whose name never make the newspapers or headlines. The circumstances surrounding that allow it to be. There were multiple Emmett Tills. There were multiple lynches. There were multiple young black boys --


COOPER: Whose names are not remembered?

WINFREY: Whose names are not remembered and often not even reported.

COOPER: It's interesting how people from different backgrounds see this. I talked to a juror on the Trayvon Martin case who clearly did not understand or did not feel linked to Trayvon Martin. Felt connected to George Zimmerman in a way but not Trayvon Martin. I wonder if she felt race was not a part of this at all. I'm just wondering --

WINFREY: People feel it's race because they don't call it race. That's not what they call it. They don't say, oh -- what I found, too, is a lot of people, if they think they're not using the "N" word themselves and not using it themselves and do not harbor ill-will towards black people, that it's not racist. To me, it's ridiculous to look at that case and not to think race was involved.

COOPER: You talk about the "N" word. In the film, it's used very early on. It's not just used by the guys on the plantation. It's used by LBJ, and in those recordings you hear him. In the films, people in the kitchen are saying Negro, and somebody says, when did he --


COOPER: -- when did he start to use that word. He always uses the "N" word.

WINFREY: The "N" word, yes, yes.

COOPER: Was that hard for you? I know you've spoken publicly about the importance of not using that word.

WINFREY: Yes. I think it depends on the context of the time in which you were raised. I was raised in the '60s.


WINFREY: Yes. And not only am I a student of history, it's not part of who I am to use that word. I understand why other people do. It's impossible for me to do it because I know the history. I know that for so many of my relatives, whom I don't know, who I don't know by name, people I'm connected to, my ancestors, that was the last word they heard as they were being strung up by a tree. That was the last sense of degradation that they experienced. Out of respect to those who have come before and the price that they paid to rid themselves of being relegated to that word, I just don't use it.


BLITZER: More of Anderson's interview will air later tonight with Oprah and Whittaker, 8:00 a.m. eastern here on CNN. Check it out.

She hasn't announced she's running for president in 2016 but she's causing quite a stir. Why Hillary Clinton is at the center of a debate between the RNC and some television networks, including CNN.


BLITZER: The Republican National Committee approved a resolution vowing to exclude CNN in the debates in the 2016 election. The RNC is upset over plans by both networks to produce programs about Hillary Clinton.

Here's what the RNC chairman, Reince Priebus, said at the meeting when the resolution was approved.



REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: For the first time -- for the first time, our party rules allow us to take action on these debates. It's is time that we do what's right for our party and our candidates. And by the way, it's the right thing to do for our voters.


BLITZER: Let's bring in our chief political correspondent, Candy Crowley, the host of CNN's "State of the Union."

Candy, explain why the RNC is so upset over these Hillary Clinton projects.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Because they think they will be infomercials. They perceive that she's the front-runner if she wants to be. They believe this is merely a way to set up her run for the presidency.

There's also a sort of a deeper problem for the Republicans and that is they didn't like the debates. They didn't like the number of debates in the last primary season, 20 of them. They didn't like the tone of some of the debates and they didn't like some of the answers.

What happened, there were many pivotal moments in those primaries that both affected the primaries but also affected the general race, in particular, when Mitt Romney talked about self-deportation, that came back again and again and again. So it's the desire of the Republican National Committee to limit the number of the debates because they think the candidates should be out on the trial and it's the desire of them to put in front of these candidates someone that they say will talk about substance more than the other moderators did. We could argue all day about whether that's so or not. But that's how the RNC perceives it. It's also true that the Republicans have little use for what they call the mainstream media or the lamesteam media because they think everyone is against them. It's a good way to get the party kind of revved up for the midterms as well.

BLITZER: CNN, by the way, just released a statement responding to this resolution passed by the RNC. Let me read it in part. "This documentary will be a non-fiction look at the life of a former first lady and secretary of the state. The project is in the very early stages of development, months from completion, with most of the reporting and the interviewing still to be done. Therefore, speculation about the final program is just that." The statement adds, "We encouraged all interested parties to wait until the program premiers before judgments are made. Unfortunately, the RNC was not willing to do that."

You make a good point. This negative response does touch a bigger issue about news coverage of politics in general.

CROWLEY: Yes. And there are two things, Wolf -- when you're out on the campaign trail, there are two common themes -- and this has been true from any of the campaigns I've covered and that's been quite a few -- that the two things that tend to rev up Republicans are the complaint of a liberal media that's not being fair and who will appoint Supreme Court justices, as strange as that may seem. Two very separate issues. But they tend to really get the base excited. Do not rule out, and I certainly don't, that they certainly believe there's a bias against them, that they were made to talk about trivial issues during the debates, that it didn't serve them well. But and I know that part of what those debates do is give an even platform to those who don't have the money to campaign in the way that front runners do.

It will be interesting. They say they will punish candidates who agree to debates that are outside what the Republican Party agrees to. They also know -- because I've talked to some Republicans about this -- that you can not have it become a convention, like a convention, because the public is going to tune out conventions. They see them as infomercials. So you can have debates that are seen as infomercials either. And they're very aware of that.

BLITZER: Candy Crowley, thanks very much.

We'll have more on this later today in "The Situation Room." Also, Candy will have more on "State of the Union" Sunday morning, 9:00 a.m. eastern. Among other guests, she has invited Senator John McCain, who is back from Egypt.

9:00 a.m., we'll see you then. Thank you.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Coming up, protecting your little dog from getting injured in car accident may be a little bit more difficult than you think. How pet safety belts may not necessarily keep that dog safe.


BLITZER: A safety focus group is working to make sure everyone survives an accident, even your dog. The Center for Pet Safety tested a bunch of car belts and found that most of them are not, not very helpful in a crash.

Just a note about this report. The dogs in the crash test look real but they're not.

Here is CNN's Renee Marsh.


LINDSEY WOLKO, CENTER FOR PET SAFETY: When I slammed on the breaks to avoid an accident, Maggie went flying.

RENEE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lindsey Wolko's English cocker spaniel was injured when she got tangled in the restraint. Test video using stuff animals shows what can happen when a dog is launched off the seat during a crash. Her organization, the Center for Pet Safety, started testing dog harnesses in 2011. All four tested failed.

WOLKO: What we're seeing is that even though the dog is attached, the dog continues to launch off the seat.

MARSH (on camera): Crash tests done by the Center for Pet Safety found the majority of the restraints on the market don't keep your pet on the seat at the point of impact. But manufacturers for restraints say this could save your pet's life.

GORDIE SPATER, OWNER, KURGO: There's been a lot of innovation that continues. We keep on every day continuing to improve these.

MARSH: His company's video shows a brown dog restrained and a black and white dog untethered that goes flying. The owner says any dog harness that keeps the dog from becoming a distraction to the driver makes things safer.

SPATER: 85 percent of people are doing nothing to restrain their dogs. The dog is running around in the car. They're a distraction.

MARSH: Wolko says not every manufacturer does adequate testing and wants an industry standard as well as cars with sturdier connections points to harness your pet.

But for now, she says it's up to owners to educate themselves.

WOLKO: You want to first look for the crash video posted by the manufacturer to their website. If the dog launches off the seat, there's a risk there.


MARSH: The group says that this isn't just a concern for the animal's safety but if the dog launches from the seat during a crash, that could injure the people in the car -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Good report. Thanks very much.

A huge change is coming to baseball. It will expand instant replays. Managers will be able to challenge all plays except balls and strikes. Umpires won't have a say. We'll explain after this quick break.


BLITZER: Major League Baseball as we know it is about to change. Starting the 2014 season, instant replay will be allowed for nearly every umpire call. That's a huge change of heart for the Commissioner Bud Selig, who, for years, has resisted calls to allow replay reviews. The shift will be significant. Managers will be able to challenge every play except balls and strikes.

Joining us by Skype from New Jersey, "Bleacher Report's" national lead writer, Dan Levy.

Dan, explain, first of all, how this is supposed to work.

DAN LEVY, BLEACHERREPORT.COM: Well, the umpires will be able to challenge once within the first six innings, then twice in the final three innings, which can help them. And then the challenge will go up to baseball's offices if it's approved. It won't be in the hands of the umpires on the field, which has been a big problem because egos get involved. Umpires don't want to admit that they're wrong. They're sort of taking it out of the hands of the local umpires and putting it into a system in Major League Baseball's offices much like the NHL does right now, which can only help.

BLITZER: First of all, why did Bud Selig change his mind?

LEVY: Well, that's an unbelievable question. Who knows? It's great that he did finally. Bud Selig has been a renowned technophobe. Finally, he's admitting that technology can actually help his game, not hurt it.

BLITZER: The concern has been that baseball is a relatively slow game. This will make it even slower if they have to hit a pause while there's a review of the play, right?

LEVY: They actually say that it's going to make the game faster. Because they've done research that the average argument between a manager and an umpire takes three minutes. They suggest the average replay is only going to take about 90 seconds. If you think about that over the course of the game it could shorten it, not lengthen it. I don't think that's going to happen. I think for the first year or two it's probably going to lengthen it. Ultimately, this is a thing that could help four or five years down the line. It's going to be good for the game and I do think eventually it could speed up the game.

BLITZER: If there are really brutal calls this will clarify it. Sometimes a brutal call can cost you a win, maybe a pennant or World Series or whatever. So it's probably very, very important.

Explain also in the first six innings, you can have one challenge. And in the last few innings, seventh, eighth and ninth innings, if you go into extra innings, you can have two more. What's the theory behind that?

LEVY: It allows the umpires a little bit of leeway early on if they miss a challenge. They give them the challenges later in the games. The essence is they don't -- they want to get every call right but they don't want to bog the game down with challenges on every play. They limit it to three challenges per umpire hoping they'll use them judiciously when they matter most. It's sort of like the NFL does with their challenges. If the umpire gets it right, they're able to retain it. There could be situations where they challenge even more than three in a game.

BLITZER: Explain that. I didn't follow exactly that last point. Go ahead and elaborate.

LEVY: If they challenge a play and the challenge is upheld, they'll maintain that challenge to use it in another inning later in the game. If a call is overturned because the umpire -- because the manager challenged, they'll save that for later. And that's smart because, look, a lot of this is going to put the onus on getting the calls right on the manager, which I think is what baseball wants. They don't want it to be on the umpires. They don't want all of us going on Twitter and yelling about the umpires. They want us yelling about the managers making the bad decisions.

BLITZER: Dan Levy explaining what's going to be a huge, huge change in Major League Baseball for all of us to watch starting next season.

Thanks very much, Dan, for that report.

LEVY: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Dan is with "Bleacher Report." You can also follow him on

It's considered a rare find. A new mammal has been discovered. It's being considered a cross between a cat and a bear. We're going to show you. Stay with us.


BLITZER: It's considered a rare find. A new mammal has been discovered in the rain forest in Ecuador and Colombia.

John Berman introduces us to a fuzzy creature that lives in the tree tops.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A grumpy cat might be gripping. Cute dogs, captivating. Now there's a ground-breaking development in the world of adorable. Meet the olinguito. It's new, brand-new, to us, at least. We didn't know it existed. Researchers announced the rare discovery Thursday. It was long thought to be its sister species, the olingo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have not ever seen an animal anything quite like this.

BERMAN: Weighing in at only two pounds, with wide, big brown eyes. Even the claws are cute.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is not dangerous. This creature, the olinguito, belongs to a group of mammals that we call the carnivores. It's primarily a fruit eater, or eating nectar.

BERMAN: The cross between a house cat and teddy bear has been hidden all this time. Finally spotted in the high tree tops of the Andean Cloud Forests through Colombia and Ecuador. It's active only at night in trees so high, they're surrounded by a dense fog. You can barely see this one leaping across the rain forest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So it's to a place like a rain forest or an ocean habitat where we often find new species. We have discovered new species in the United States every year.

BERMAN: Back in 2010, the brusera (ph), a catlike carnivore belonging to a family of mongoose-like animals, was discovered in Madagascar. That was so 2010. We are now clearly in the reign of the olinguito.


BLITZER: Some researchers, by the way, consider it to be the smallest member of the raccoon family.

Thanks to John Berman for that report.

I want to end this hour on this. Something pretty cool that's happening above our heads right now. I'm talking way above our heads, in space. A couple of Russian cosmonauts are outside the international space station right now on a space walk. They're running power and communication cables, getting ready for a science module due to arrive in the coming months. We wish them only the best.

That does it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'll be back in "The Situation Room," 5:00 p.m. eastern later today. Lots of news happening here on CNN.

In the meantime, Brooke Baldwin picks up our coverage right now.