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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

A&E Lifts "Duck Dynasty" Suspension; Debit Pin Numbers Stolen In Target Hack; Ship Stuck In Ice Near Antarctica; Freezing Weather's Deadly Impact; Federal Judge: NSA Phone Surveillance Legal; Giant Python Kills Security Guard In Bali; Bail Denied For "Knockout" Suspect

Aired December 27, 2013 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Next, breaking news on "Duck Dynasty." A&E makes a major announcement tonight.

Plus, a man charged with a federal hate crime for a so-called knockout assault. His attorney come OUTFRONT.

And the massive hack of 40 million Target customers, debit card, PIN data also stolen. How can you protect yourself?

Let's go OUTFRONT.

(MUSIC)

LEMON: Good evening, everyone. I'm Don Lemon, in tonight for Erin Burnett.

And OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news. A&E caves. The network just announced it is lifting its suspension of the "Duck Dynasty" patriarch Phil Robertson. The company suspended the reality star just nine days ago after controversial anti-gay comments he made were made public. Robertson stood by his comments and his fans stood by him.

One online petition to have Phil Robertson reinstated surpassed its goal of gathering 250,000 signatures and A&E ran an 11-hour "Duck Dynasty" marathon on Christmas Day. Joining me now to talk about this breaking news, Brian Stelter, our senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES," of course, this is a big topic on your show last Sunday. We've been talking about this. This is more than just a television show. This particular story, Brian, struck a cultural nerve. How is A&E justifying its decision here?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIAL CORRESPONDENT: They are trying to do that with a five paragraph statement that said, well, well, the family acknowledged some of Phil Robertson's words were coarse and well, we're going to put on a PSA campaign with commercial that's promote tolerance. The truth is, Don, there is not a lot they can say. They say "Duck Dynasty" is not a show about one man's views. It resonates to a large audience and is for family. But I think you said the word at the top that everybody else is going to agree with, it feels like A&E is caving by doing this.

LEMON: Yes, this announcement comes on a Friday during Washington. You know as well as I do, when Washington wants to dump anything and even people in public relations, what do they do? They do it on a Friday, the week of Christmas, you know, just a few days from New Years. In the news industry, we call it Friday news dump. Do you think they were hoping this would get brushed under the rug?

STELTER: This is the shortest ever. People arguing with their relatives about whether to suspend him, now they can spend New Year's fighting with their relatives and friends about whether it was right to unsuspend him, to lift the suspension. You know, A&E has been talking with the family ever since the suspension was announced. The focus at A&E that I've talked to say we don't really have any big feud with the Robertson family. Everybody needs to catch their breath and decide what to do next.

The truth is "Duck Dynasty" was never going away. It is too valuable to A&E and it's too valuable to the Robertson's. But they had on figure out a way forward. And it sounds like that is to lift the suspension. Bring him back for new episodes next year and to have this PSA campaign promoting tolerance that will be broadcast on A&E and other channels. What I don't know is whether Phil Robertson is willing to appear in those public service commercials. I guess we'll find out.

LEMON: Now we'll talk a little more about this. Political commentator, Marc Lamont Hill joins me and columnist with "The Blaze," Will Cain. Mark, in this to Brian, this is more than just a reality show. This particular story about Phil Robertson, his views with free speech, it touched a cultural nerve here so lots of reaction on this decision already.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal just released a statement says, "I am glad to hear the folks at A&E came to their senses and recognized that tolerance of religious views is more important than political correctness. Today is a good day for the freedoms of speech and religious liberty." Is today a good day for that, Marc?

MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Any day that you have religious freedom or religious liberty, it is a good day. I don't think that's what this is about and I sort of giggle when I their conservatives claim this as a victory, as if free speech won. Some conservative value triumphed. This wasn't about liberal or conservative values. This was about money. The truth is when 14 million people watch the show, it is worth a lot of money to a network and A&E decided to go with the money. They gave a fake suspension.

A Friday news dump that the suspension was over, they never stopped taping. This is nothing because charade from the beginning. But let me be clear. They have every right to do this. This was a market based decision and the market dictated to keep the show. On I think it is a shame, morally reprehensible. Everybody who is upset about this as I am, we have a responsibility to protest. We have a responsibility to vote with our feet and our eyeballs by not watching the show.

LEMON: Well, when A&E first made this announcement, they said Phil Robertson was suspended indefinitely. Usually it lasts a lot longer than nine days, usually indefinite suspensions last a lot longer than that.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTO: It is no surprise that A&E caved. The rating were too high, the dollars were too enticing. The surprise was they caved so quickly and I'll tell you they caved so quickly. How they got this so wrong, the answer to that is why would a guy like me who has advocated for gay rights, supported marriage equality side on the side of Phil Robertson? The answer to that is because he made two statements.

One, he stated a preference. You have a preference. Marc has a preference as to who we have sex with and how we have sex with them. That's one. The second is he made a theological judgment. And the truth is, he made a statement that is within the main stream of Christian and for that matter most world religions belief.

It is not one I agree with but when they suspended him for that, they essentially said main stream Christian thought is outside the recommend of proper debate. That's what made people so mad. That's what upset fans and free speech advocates like myself.

LAMONT: Well, that's not what they were saying. They were saying we have a particular value system at the network and the person we hired doesn't represent this. If this with a Christian network and he gave GQ interview saying he is an atheist works they say we won't have one --

CAIN: But Marc, here's the deal. Your two statements tonight contradict themselves. You said this was not some moral principle A&E was standing on. They did it because the ratings were too great. They lied when they said -- they lied when them this does not reflect their beliefs. What they found out was the market was not in the direction they thought it would be. They thought taking a stand against Phil Robertson would be, would please their audience box please the public. What they found out was starkly different.

LAMONT: I don't disagree with that. We both agree they were making a market driven, money driven decision. My point is that them deciding to make a different decision and suspend him would not be putting a damper on free speech. It wouldn't be stopping religious liberty. You could say I don't like what you just said and I don't want to pay you to say the anymore. That's well within their rights.

LEMON: What people are forgetting here is that when you have a platform. When you're on a cable network, whether it object a news program or a reality show or whatever it is, there are, there are certain standards that go along with that and you have to realize your platform. You can have kitchen table talk and you can say whatever you want around the kitchen table. When you say it publicly, that makes a huge difference. Do you disagree with that?

CAIN: What are those standards? Marc is right. There is a legal right. We're not arguing about the legality about whether or not they can suspend Phil Robertson. He has no constitutional right to that job. We do have a culture of free speech in addition to the legal rights of free speech. When A&E, when he said that, they ostracize ad great deal of the American public. Fans, religious people and people who simply want to see free and fair debate like myself. That's the standard they got on the right side of.

LAMONT: It is not a debate network, it is an entertainment network. And they have the right to say we don't like this person.

CAIN: Of course they have the right.

LAMON: I don't just mean a legal right. I mean it is well within even the cultural argument you're making to say in this culture, we don't want this representation being the dominant --

LEMON: Listen, I've got one more question. It appears that we're having trouble with your Skype there. I want to say this. A&E goes on to talk about the interview and they don't agree with what Phil Robertson said. Here's what they said this time. They said his family said it. They regret coarse language he used and the misinterpretation of his core beliefs based only on the article. So now they're saying, that the public as a whole and maybe even themselves misinterpreted what Phil Robertson said and what he believes, Marc. No Marc? All right, well --

CAIN: Can I say this, Don? No matter if you think A&E made the wrong decision the first time like I think, or you think they made the wrong decision had time in the second decision like Marc thinks, the truth is this. A&E will pay no price. The ratings will go up. They had a month of marketing. There will be no price for anyone who disagrees with them.

LEMON: All right, thank you very much, Marc Lamont Hill and Will Cain.

Still to come tonight, new details about the massive hack of 40 million Target customers, the retailer now says debit card PIN data was also stolen.

Plus a desperate race against time to save a ship stranded in Antarctica. The icebreaker is just six miles away. We'll bring you the latest and a dramatic decision from a federal judge about the NSA spying program. It's the reason why the agency will continue to collect information from every phone call.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Target has confirmed that its customers' debit card PIN data was also stolen during a recent breach that affected 40 million customers. That's a turn-around from what the company said yesterday that there were no indications that PIN data had been stolen. In a statement today, Target said the data was strongly encrypted and, quote, "The most important thing for our guests to know is that their debit card accounts have not been compromised."

David Kennedy is the CEO of TrustedSec and a so-called "White Hat Hacker," who looks for security flaws. Thank you for joining us, David. How secure are those encryption numbers?

DAVID KENNEDY, CEO, TRUSTEDSEC: Well, the encryption itself is actually an industry grade standard. They use something called triple, which allows it to be protected. Unfortunately, the problem with PIN numbers is they're only four characters. There are only about 10,000 different combinations that you can do in order to get it. Altogether, it is not going to hold up. Hackers can brute force to grab it those PIN numbers itself.

LEMON: We've seen story after story, I've been in a couple different cities since this all happened and seen the local news reports of people whose numbers have been hacked, whose debit cards have been hacked. What should customers be doing if they used a debit card at Target during the time of the breach, which was from Black Friday to December 15th?

KENNEDY: Yes, I've had a lot of family members impacted. Everybody shops at Target and my recommendation to them has always been, listen, I know it is a pain but change your pin number, call your bank and get a new card. They say you have fraud monitoring and monitoring detection that you put in place. As a peace of mind, just change it so you don't have to deal with it. That's my best recommendation.

LEMON: The wording is very important. I'm going to read. This they've done some tricky PR juggling. Yesterday, they issued a statement saying, quote, "To date there's no evidence that unencrypted PIN data has been compromised. In addition, based on our communications with financial institutions, they have also seen no indications that any PIN data was compromised." So they didn't really say anything that wasn't true. Why did that statement change today? Is it possible they didn't know or was it an attempt to hide the extent of the damage?

KENNEDY: What happens in these situations is you learn as you go. When they find out their point of sale systems had been compromised, they assumed it was what we call track data or track two data, which come off the back of the magnetic strip. What we learned is the sophistication the hackers used at the point of sale systems, they started grabbing the devices, the information from the devices, which is the debit card PINs.

As these response scenarios come out, they learn more and more. They're saying one thing and then next day they're changing the issue. They need to find the facts out before they release these statements. Confirm what type of data has been compromise asked then release that to the public. It does seem a bit sloppy on the side of Target.

LEMON: David Kennedy, thank you very much.

KENNEDY: Thank you. Appreciate it.

LEMON: The race is on to save a stranded ship in Antarctica, the expedition ship carrying mostly scientists trapped by ice near the bottom of the world. Help is within sight and an icebreaker ship called the "Ice Dragon" is only six miles away.

But even the Dragon is having trouble smashing through the ice. Here's the latest on this rescue mission. Sunlen Serfaty has the latest on this rescue mission.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The end is in sight but not within reach.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the icebreaker coming to rescue us.

SERFATY: That tiny dot out there. That's the Snow Dragon. The Chinese rescue icebreaker seen from aboard the stranded Russian ship. An icebreaker that uses the ship's weight as much as 10,000 tons to break through heavy ice, but the Chinese ship is still six nautical mile away, itself blocked by ice, up to 10 feet thick.

The Chinese captain telling CNN, the current ice condition is exceeding our capabilities to break through further. It has been nearly 100 hours since the Russian vessel first ran into trouble between Antarctica and New Zealand. The temperatures dropped quickly freezing the ship in place.

CHRIS TURNEY, EXPEDITION LEADER: We moved as quick as we could, but the ship could not get through.

SERFATY: Seventy four researchers are on board on a mission to study climate change. The ship and crew are safe and surprisingly in good spirits, posing for photos, tweeting and even collecting data while they wait to be rescued. But they endured a blizzard Thursday.

TURNEY: The vessel hasn't moved the last two days and we're surrounded by sea ice. We can't get through.

SERFATY: Now ice is building, closing in.

TURNEY: We've got two to three meters, maybe four vowing us. And at one point, the ship was tilting a little bit because of the pressure on one side because of the strong winds.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SERFATY: In a short time ago we heard an update from the ship, a tweet from Chris Turney who says the Snow Dragon is standing by and waiting on another vessel to help. Everyone is well, he says. And Don, that other vessel is a French icebreaker on its way now to help rescue the rescue ship.

LEMON: Fingers crossed, Sunlen. Thank you very much for your reporting tonight.

Still to come here on CNN, 2013 was a tough year for a number of people in the public eye. Who had the biggest implosion of the year, the biggest one. Our panel weighs in later in the show. But first, hundreds of thousands are without power and over 20 people are dead due to ice storms in the United States also in Canada. We'll tell you about one state's unconventional approach to battling the weather.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: Very cold out there in a lot of places, subfreezing temperatures, and severe ice storms still paralyzing parts of the U.S. and Canada tonight. The frigid weather has killed over 20 people and left hundreds of thousands without power. Misery doesn't look to be letting up any time soon either. As you can see here, more storms are expected over the weekend and many of those already hard hit areas.

One state is gearing up to battle the latest round of agonizing winter weather with an unconventional weapon. Ted Rowlands tells us about it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Moe Norby's job is to get snow and ice off the roads in Polk County, Wisconsin. A few years ago, he had a brilliant classic Wisconsin idea.

MOE NORBY, ICE MELTING CHEESE LOVER: Why couldn't we use brine water made from a cheese factory.

ROWLANDS: Brine water is what these bricks of mozzarella are floating in. It is basically salt and a little product. Moe tested some brine from F&A Dairy, the local cheese factory and found out that it works great for clearing roads.

NORBY: Got the green light to go and now we're running it in all of our trucks.

ROWLANDS (on camera): Here's how it works. The cheese brine here is mix in with the salt, which goes on to the road. It helps keep the salt actually on the highway and it is a perfect thing to mix with the salt because cheese brine doesn't freeze at low temperatures. It does, however, have a little bit of an odor to it.

NORBY: The roads smell like Wisconsin. They smell like cheese.

ROWLANDS (voice-over): Actually that is just a joke. Brine water does have a cheese smell to it, but doesn't stink up the roads. It does, however, save money.

NORBY: The first year we figure we saved $40,000.

ROWLANDS: And the snow plow drivers like it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It burned the ice way faster than using dry salt. Even the most hardened skeptics said I'm a believer.

ROWLANDS: At F&A Dairy, they couldn't be happier. They normally have to pay someone about $25,000 a year to get rid of their brine. Now since Moe's great idea, other counties are also taking it away for free.

MIKE BREAULT, F&A DAIRY: I'm thinking we should be able to get rid of almost all of it. We're heading to Milwaukee.

ROWLANDS: If they run out, finding more brine shouldn't be a problem in this state.

NORBY: There is no shortage of winter in Wisconsin. Definitely need it. There's no shortage of cheese.

ROWLANDS: Ted Rowlands, CNN, Balsam Lake, Wisconsin.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: The roads smell like Wisconsin, like cheese or like feet either one.

Still to come tonight here on CNN, a man is charged with a federal hate crime in Texas. He was raised behind his knockout attack of an elderly man.

Plus we look back at the worst of 2013. What was the biggest implosion of the year? Our panel weighs in later in the show.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Welcome back, everyone to the second half of OUTFRONT. A federal judge ruled it is legal for NSA to check data on almost every phone call made in the U.S. New York District Judge William Pauley says phone surveillance could have help prevent the September 11th attacks. He argues the program represents the government's counter punch to terrorism and doesn't violate Americans' rights to privacy. But just last week, another federal judge said the NSA tactics are probably unconstitutional calling the program, quote, "almost Orwellian technology."

Watch out, tourists, police in Bali say a giant murderous python is on the loose. It looks like this one. A security guard at a luxury hotel tried to catch the 15 foot snake. He grabbed it by the head and tail, but it tightened around his neck, suffocating him. The python escaped into the bushes. Police are still searching for it.

Now a story we've been following. A court appearance today for a man charged with a federal hate crime in connection with a so called "knockout assault." His bail was denied. The 27-year-old Conrad Alvin Barrett was charged with punching a 79-year-old black man in the face. Authorities say the assault was racially motivated. The victim suffered two jaw fractures and was hospitalized several days. Barrett's lawyer will be joining us exclusively. But first, CNN's Margaret Conley has more on this story for you.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARGARET CONLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The 27-year-old Conrad Barrett has been charged with a hate crime for knocking out a 79-year-old African-American man. A Houston judge said that crime was vicious and Barrett, quote, "stalk his victim." There is strong evidence he committed this offense. It is a hate crime.

According to the federal complaint, Barrett attacked because of the man's race and color. And he made a video of the attack where he allegedly said, quote, "The plan is to see if I were to hit a black person, would this be nationally televised?"

In a separate video, Barrett allegedly uses the "n" word and says that African-Americans, quote, "haven't fully experienced the blessing of evolution." The brutal attack happened here in Katy, Texas, in November. The victim who does not want to be identified suffered two jaw fractures and was in the hospital for several days, according to the federal complaint.

Barrett's attorney claims he is bipolar, but was off his medicine the night of the attack. Later, he went to this bar and showed off the video to bystanders, one of them, an off-duty police officer. "Knockout" incidents has dated as far back as 1992 according to the Justice Department, but a string of cases over the last year has garnered more national attention, with video that has gone viral from states like Illinois to Washington to New York.

The purpose of the so-called game is to knock unsuspecting pedestrians out cold with a single punch.

The Barrett case has prompted lawmakers to reexamine state versus federal hate crimes.

DANNY CEVALLOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: State law just enhances hate crimes. In other words, your sentence is enhanced if it is proved that you committed a hate crime. However that's defined in a particular state.

But under federal law, hate crimes are a separate crime, which again raises some questions about the constitutionality, about the Equal Protection Clause.

CONLEY: Barrett's attorney says he is sorry. He will now await trial and if convicted could face a $250,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison.

Margaret Conley, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you very much.

Earlier, I spoke exclusively with Conrad Barrett's attorney, George Parnham. The charge here is a hate crime, and part of the defense is bipolar disorder. So, I asked him if he was arguing that bipolar disorder could cause racism.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE PARNHAM, ATTORNEY FOR "KNOCKOUT" SUSPECT: Not at all. What I'm saying is that one must take a look at the mindset of people that do bizarre, sometimes brutal actions, and if in fact a person has been diagnosed before as having a bipolar disorder, not on his medication at the time this occurred, that this could have a factor on his mindset at the time this happened.

I'm not using it as an excuse. It is a fact. And every psychiatrist will tell you that the middle component is very important in making a determination of what actually occurred here.

LEMON: OK.

PARNHAM: This is not figuratively a black and white issue.

LEMON: Yes, but your client was a functioning member of society. Had the wherewithal --

PARNHAM: Correct.

LEMON: -- to plan this, to pick out a victim, an elderly man who could not defend himself. And then now since he has been caught doing it, it appears to most people that using bipolar disorder as a defense is an excuse for racist behavior.

PARNHAM: Well, I think the bipolar disorder is a mitigation, if you will. It can be viewed as such. I don't think that there is an insanity defense in the works in this particular case, and certainly I think that the federal definition of insanity precludes using that particular type of defense in this case.

LEMON: It seems to me the criminal complaint that it was premeditated. And here's how that reads. It says on the video, described by the officer, the off-duty investigator Barrett.

Here's what he said, he says, "The plan is to see if I were to hit a black person, would this be nationally televised? In another video Barrett states he is trying to work up the courage to play the knockout game. And he can be heard in the video saying that he has found the perfect African-American suspect but then appears to change his mind."

It seems like he planned this out every single detail. He could have gone and stolen a car. He could have gone and shoplifted. He could have gone and done a number of things but he planned this out in a manner that used race as the focus.

And you don't see that as a federal hate crime?

PARNHAM: Well, what happens, first of all, people that are mentally make rational decisions all the time. Premeditate matters all the time.

Secondly, this individual did something very bizarre. After the action, he brags about it. He shows the video around to individuals saying that, hey, look what I've done. I have hit a knockout. Not being aware of how severely injured the individual was that he hit.

And again, that all has to be proven, I'm sure you understand that.

But I'm saying that you've got to take into consideration the Supreme Court has said, whether it's a hate crime or not a hate crime, that you take into consideration the mental, all in mitigation, the mental aspects of the individual that did the action in question. And that's all we're saying here. LEMON: I have to be quite honest with you. I don't really understand what your defense is. I really don't.

PARNHAM: Well, I hope, certainly hope you're not on my jury.

LEMON: I hope. Listen, people like me who are not experts in the law will be on the jury. And if I work in television and I've done a number of cases that have involved hate crimes, involved insanity, if I'm not understanding, why do you think a jury is going to understand?

PARNHAM: Well, my question is what is there not to understand when I tell you that mitigation includes evidence of the mindset of the individual that performs the act. The Supreme Court has said so.

We know this person has been diagnosed as being bipolar. That is not an insanity defense in this particular case.

I do know of cases where bipolar can develop into a person being psychotic. And that would and could qualify as an insanity defense.

That's not the issue here. As far as I know.

Now I've not talked to his doctors. I've not had a chance to talk to his doctors. I've had this case since 7:30 yesterday morning. I haven't seen the medical records. But I am told by credible individuals that he is and has been diagnosed as being bipolar as well as being an alcohol addict. And those are matters taken into mitigation.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: I want to bring in now CNN legal analyst Paul Callan.

I'm a little thick sometimes but can you translate?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Wow. Yes, I think I can.

(CROSSTALK)

CALLAN: Let me try. No, he's a very distinguished looking guy, I must say. If I had his head of hair, I'd be a lot more successful than I am now.

But in translating, the whole interview, what he was trying to say was he kept saying it has to do with mitigation. Well, mitigation has to do with the sentencing part of the trial.

My read on that is, he is saying, do you know something? My client is guilty. But at the time of sentencing the judge might be a little merciful because he's got a mental illness and an alcohol problem. That would be how I would translate all of that, because mitigation has nothing to do with guilt or innocence. It only has to do with should you have mercy at sentencing.

LEMON: So when you say he has a mental illness and he's an alcoholic, mental illness does not necessarily mean insanity, correct?

CALLAN: No. And that's there's a difference between legal insanity which is extremely difficult to prove and the lawyer says quite rightfully so, I'm not saying that and I can't prove that here, as opposed to mental illness. A lot of criminals have mental illness.

I mean, the jails are filled with criminals who have mental illness. They're psychotics, they're sociopaths, they're serious sickos.

LEMON: OK.

CALLAN: That's how they get to prison.

LEMON: People are wondering and I did in the beginning as well, why this is a federal hate crime and all the other knockout games -- there have been one or two that have been prosecuted under the hate crime statute. Why aren't they hate crimes? Isn't it because of the way he planned it and the language he used?

CALLAN: No, they are hate crimes. I mean, we've seen a lot of reports of hate crime in New York. There probably have been 20 or 30 of them. I was looking at the stats today. California has brought 200 cases in one year, hate crimes. They all have local statutes.

LEMON: So the knockout game.

CALLAN: No, not the knockout game. I'm just talking about hate crime in general. So, they get prosecuted.

Why did they pick this case? Well, a prosecutor, a federal prosecutor in a district, he is in Texas, he can pick any case he wants. He looks at this case and he sees a guy who videotapes his intent to attack an African-American and then he sees the guy go out and do it and that's also on tape.

LEMON: And the language, he used the N-word.

CALLAN: Right. And then he brags about it afterwards to his friends.

Now, what could be a stronger case to bring than that case?

So, the prosecutor says, hey, I'm bringing this case. Now, just because a prosecutor in New York or Colorado or some place else didn't bring a similar case doesn't prove anything except that maybe their cases weren't as strong.

LEMON: So, it's not because in this case, which people are saying, is because the victim is black and the suspect is white.

CALLAN: I don't think there was a secret meeting in the White House saying, let's do this Texas case because the white guy is the defendant. I'm not buying that.

But some people think it. They can think what they want. I think a local prosecutor saw a good case and he said let's go with it.

LEMON: Conspiracy theories. Maybe we should have done the best conspiracy theories of 2013.

CALLAN: We should have. And Mr. Parnham can be one of the experts in the field.

LEMON: Thank you, sir. Always a pleasure.

CALLAN: Thank you. OK.

LEMON: Speaking of that, still to come, it was a year of missteps, miscalculations and mistakes. But which one was the biggest implosion of the year? Look at that guy. My goodness.

And New Year's Eve is just days away. We're going to show you how the world will be celebrating later in the show.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: All week, we're taking a look at the highs and the lows, the good and the bad of the past 12 months. And sure, everybody has their opinion but tonight I'm getting the final word of the biggest implosion of 2013. That was very Thurston Howell of me.

I'm going to make my pick based on the opinions of my panel.

And here to make their case is our senior media correspondent, the smartest guy I know, Brian Stelter. The dapper Joe Concha of Mediaite. Founder of Inspire52.com, the ever lovely and gorgeous Mel Robbins, and then the guy who is like, on Gilligan's Island before they had professor and Mary Ann, when they would go, and the rest, Dean Obeidallah.

DEAN OBEIDALLAH, THE DAILY BEAST. Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Columnist for "The Daily Beast".

I have a name for everyone except Dean. And there's Dean.

OK, let's start with the lady this time. What do you think the biggest implosion of 2013 was, Melle Mel?

MEL ROBBINS, INSPIRE52.COM: Well, it's actually good news. Check out this clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: This is a landmark ruling.

Jeff, it seem like the court has said, the court -- the federal government does not have a right to not recognize these marriages.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: DOMA is gone. This is a major broadly written opinion, which strikes down the law on the ground that it discriminates against gay people. LEMON: People are thrilled, Wolf. I mean, this is -- I'm standing in front of the birth place of the modern gay rights movement, Stonewall Inn.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a really, really amazing day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: I was so young then.

ROBBINS: And it was an amazing day. June 26th when DOMA imploded. It changed the lives of Americans today and for future generations to come and nine states have since legalized gay marriage and it's now as far as I'm concerned inevitable and really terrific news that DOMA imploded.

LEMON: Mr. Stelter, whether you agree or not with her, I'm sure you think yours is obviously is the biggest implosion, it was as Joe Biden would say, it was a big blanking deal.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: It was. And I'm glad you bring it up, because I think, you know, it happened in the earlier part of the year. I think people have forgotten the importance of that story. You know, I just think it's a little strange to pick such a big and for many people positive story as an implosion. I'm going more negative with mine.

LEMON: OK. Well, Mr. Negativity, go on.

STELTER: I've got to bring up a media person. Someone who has been -- you know, someone we always see on television but not anymore. Let's roll the clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAULA DEEN, CELEBRITY CHEF: I want to apologize to everybody for the wrong that I've done. I want to learn and grow from this inappropriate, hurtful language. It is totally, totally unacceptable.

I was invited this morning to speak with Matt Lauer about a subject that has been very hurtful for a lot of people. And, Matt, I have to say, I was physically not able this morning.

The day I used that word, it was a world ago. It was 30 years ago. I had had a gun put to my head, a shaking gun.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: Let me borrow from Matt Lauer. Where in the world is Paula Deen now? I think you can give never trophy, judge.

LEMON: Oh! That is confidence. I do like that in contestants. But I have -- where did they shoot that? In the break room of a -- I don't know. A Kinko's? When the heck was that --

STELTER: Every PR manual is going to lead with Paula Deen, about what not to do.

LEMON: Look how pink she was. Mel, did you do her make-up?

(LAUGHTER)

ROBBINS: You know, when I do my own make-up, it does turn out looking like that.

You know, it is just one person's career that imploded. It is not like it is a civil rights kind of moment for the history of the United States.

I also have to say, I have a hard time with that story because I just feel -- you know, Don, I've heard you say this. You tried to be curious, not judgmental. And when you dig into that story and find out the context of what happened to her 30 years ago, and where she had said those hurtful words and to whom, I just felt like the way that she was roasted and the way her career imploded was completely unfair.

So maybe I'm making an argument for you, Brian, because that was a sad story to watch.

JOE CONCHA, MEDIAITE: Yes. And, Mel, you know, that wasn't a fun implosion, you know? I mean, I kind of felt a little sorry for this. It clearly affected her emotionally.

If you put that up side by side with Alec Baldwin and that implosion, that was so much more entertaining.

So, in terms of ill motion, I've got to go with capital one.

LEMON: Dean, I'm going on let you join in. But I hate to see bad things to anybody, anyone. But it appeared and we haven't heard from Paula Deen in a while, that she really didn't understand why she was being criticized and that only made matters worse.

Go ahead, Dean.

OBEIDALLAH: I agree. And the big question here is why can't Brian forgive people? I mean, that's what's really about, Brian. She asked for forgiveness. You just can't forgive this poor lady who wants a little compassion and you have to mock her again. Come on, Brian!

STELTER: If could I find her, if I could find her, I'd love to talk with her. Where is she?

LEMON: Amen, Mr. Stelter. And, Brian, don't be such a meany, OK?

ODEIDALLAH: I know. Really, Brian, that's what we're learning about you.

LEMON: All right, Concha. State your case. CONCHA: OK. Look, how we even -- how is this even a debate right now? I'm glad you saved me for one of the last, because, clearly, watch this guy and tell me if you can find anybody who imploded more than our supple friend here. Roll it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROB FORD, TORONTO MAYOR: These allegations are ridiculous.

Absolutely. I'm not sure I don't, it's ridiculous.

I don't smoke crack and I'm not a crack addict. Have I? Yes, I have.

There is only one person to blame for this and that is myself.

(EXPLETIVE DELETED)

I was sick and tired of all these allegations and all the (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Sorry, kids -- I shouldn't have sworn in front of the kids.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Oh! I attempted, I attempted to make you can't that's unfair.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: You might lose -- the only reason you may lose is because you did not put the favorite clip in there about having enough to eat at home. That's all I'll say. Does everyone understand what I'm saying?

OBEIDALLAH: Yes, I --

CONCHA: No, explain. I don't edit these things, by the way. I come here for the coffee.

LEMON: Who disagrees, who disagrees?

OBEIDALLAH: I do, I do. Nice try, Joe Concha. I really give you a lot for that. But still, that's the best you got, buddy, come on?

CONCHA: Yes, that's the best I got.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBBINS: Pretty good --

OBEIDALLAH: All Rob Ford wants is attention. He's like the Miley Cyrus of politics up there, and he has a higher approval rating right now, I'm not kidding, than President Obama -- (CROSSTALK)

OBEIDALLAH: He's still in office. He's --

(CROSSTALK)

CONCHA: Are you smoking crack over there.

LEMON: Hang on. Did you just ask if he was smoking crack?

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Oh my God.

CONCHA: He's completely incoherent right now.

LEMON: This segment is imploding, by the way.

OK. Brian Stelter makes up a good point that I made up when we were talking about this. The antics of Rob Ford, yes, it's funny, it's interesting, you laugh at him, but he's still in office. Has he really imploded, Brian?

CONCHA: Yes, because they stripped him of all his power. He can't actually legislate --

LEMON: Oh, so he's the mayor --

ROBBINS: He's in Canada, does he?

LEMON: He gets his salary and he shows up and he doesn't really have to do anything.

All right. Dean, last but certainly not least, go ahead.

OBEIDALLAH: Thank you. I was going to say, it was very nice to allow the others to amuse you. Now comes the meat -- now comes the winner, my friend.

ROBBINS: Oh, no. Oh, no, you didn't say meat.

OBEIDALLAH: It's Anthony Weiner's implosion.

ROBBINS: Did you say meat?

OBEIDALLAH: I did. I'm the red meat. You guys are appetizers.

Here common sense the entree.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Roll the darn clip. Roll the clip.

OBEIDALLAH: Roll the clip. Anthony Weiner, here we go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANTHONY WEINER (D-NY), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: This behavior that I did was problematic to say the least, destructive to say the most.

These things are in my past and I think the citizens understand that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're a real scum bag. You have the nerve to walk around --

WEINER: Oh, yes. Are you a perfect person? Are you my judge? What rabbi taught you that?

I don't have any anger issues. But you do, grandpa.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oooh, OK.

WEINER: I did these things. I know what did this to me, I did this to me. I made these mistakes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is wrong with you? Anthony, I think there is something wrong with you.

WEINER: I know you just said that.

(CROSSTALK)

WEINER: Chillax, buddy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Chillax, did he say chillax?

Talk about self-awareness or self-unawareness, right, Concha?

CONCHA: Look, the wife is still with him. So a complete implosion, she's out the door. But unlike Hillary, she --

(CROSSTALK)

ROBBINS: I think Rob Ford and Weiner wipe each other out. Those two cancel each other out.

CONCHA: This isn't algebra.

ROBBINS: Yes, totally, absolutely. So, it's just me and Brian, baby, that's all that's left.

LEMON: You found amusement in that clip, Mr. Stelter. Why?

STELTER: Well, I was just, you know, thinking back to the good old days when we thought he actually had a chance to win.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK) LEMON: He was the front runner, remember?

OBEIDALLAH: Exactly, 25 percent. He was ahead of Bill de Blasio who won by 15 points. And in one month, imploded because we found out his name was Carlos Danger on Twitter, remember that?

LEMON: Yes.

OBEIDALLAH: And he was hanging out with Cindy Leathers and sending more pictures of himself. So, bingo, you can't get more -- just unbelievable, almost redemption, implosion. Bingo, it's perfect.

LEMON: Hmm.

OK. Time to make the choice.

CONCHA: It's like listening to judge --

(DRUM ROLL)

LEMON: Paula Deen was the biggest implosion this year because -- and here is why I saw Paula Deen has a multi, multi, multimillion dollar empire, and she should have had better people around her and it was a lawsuit, Brian, what was the lawsuit -- wasn't -- was like $2 million. I forget what it is.

STELTER: You know, the lawsuit has been forgotten.

LEMON: Yes, the lawsuit was dismissed and had she settled the lawsuit for whatever million dollars it was or whatever it would be to settle, she would have still been around and probably would not have come to light. You would still see her multi million dollar empire --

STELTER: Be on the Food Network, yes.

LEMON: Now the only people you see are her sons trying to keep the brand going.

OBEIDALLAH: Can I just say --

STELTER: We love more than implosion, though, Don, a come back. Maybe that's 2014 for Paula Deen, we'll see.

LEMON: Amen.

Dean --

OBEIDALLAH: I just want to say, quickly, I can't tell you how much I miss Erin Burnett right now, just so you understand that.

LEMON: Yes, I can't tell you, either, because I have to sit here and work with you.

OBEIDALLAH: Thank you.

LEMON: Yes, love you guys. This is to you, Dean. OBEIDALLAH: Good-bye.

CONCHA: Thank you, judge.

LEMON: Thank you, guys.

And still to come, what will you be doing on New Year's Eve? We'll tell you about the strangest New Years' customs, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: So, the old song asks, what are you doing New Year's Eve? And with Christmas behind us, it's time to consider that question. What are you doing New Year's Eve?

Many of us in the U.S. will probably attend a party or watch the ball drop in Time Square or watch Anderson and Kathy Griffin.

But, you know, the more adventurous should look outside America for some ideas.

Badoo.com recently conducted a survey to find the world's strangest New Year's traditions. And while things like firing guns into the air, Thailand's three-day water fight, Scotland's spinning balls of fire, and Germany's odd obsession with an old British movie scored high marks.

Well, they didn't top this year's list. We're going to tell you what they are right now.

According to Badoo, the three countries with the strangest New Year's traditions are number three, Ireland where people bang bread on doors and walls to frighten evil spirits, OK?

So number two is Romania where people try to hear animals talk, and if they don't, it's good luck. They don't care what the fox says. All right?

And then number one is Chile or Chile, what some people call it, where people spend the holiday in a cemetery to be with dead relatives.

But we want to hear from you. What is the strangest tradition you know about, and what do you plan to do on New Year's Eve. Let us know on Twitter @DonLemon and then also @OutFront.

Here's what I want to know. I think I have most of it. What exactly are the lyrics do "Auld Lang Syne"? Do you guys know the lyrics of "Auld Lang Syne"?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no.

LEMON: Can you sing it for me? Should all the --

(INAUDIBLE) LEMON: There you go. That's exactly how people sing it on New Year's Eve. Learn the words to "Auld Lang Syne". By the way, it's Scottish tradition.

I'm Don Lemon. Thanks for watching.

"AC360" starts right now.