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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Three Shootings In Three Days; Source: Job Created For Christie Ally; NTSB Investigates Wrong Runway Landings; Quake Jolts California 29 Years After North Ridge; Newtown Killer In His Own Words?
Aired January 16, 2014 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
STEPHANIE CUTTER, CNN ANCHOR: The debate continues online at cnn.com/crossfire as well as on Facebook and Twitter. From left, I'm Stephanie Cutter.
NEWT GINGRICH: From the right, I'm Newt Gingrich. Join us tomorrow for another edition of "CROSSFIRE." "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Next, are three shootings in three days, a movie theatre, a middle school and a grocery store. Places we go every day. What is happening in America?
Plus, how did an Asiana passenger get run over by emergency responders? The nation's top transportation investigator joins us.
And is "How I Met Your Mother" racist? The hit is sitcom under fire tonight. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, everyone. I'm Don Lemon in for Erin Burnett. Tonight America's on edge, three shooting's in just three days. Last night two women were shot to death at an Indiana grocery store. On Tuesday, two students were wounded when a 12-year-old allegedly entered his New Mexico middle school with a sawed-off shotgun and began shooting.
And Monday night, a father was shot to death at a Florida movie theater. Police say it's because he was texting with his young daughter's babysitter. What's causing America to snap? David Mattingly has our report.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Wednesday night inside a supermarket in Elk Hart, Indiana, a 22-year-old gunman kills two women before he's shot and killed by police. His motive is so far unknown.
SGT. TRENT SMITH INDIANA STATE POLICE: People are depressed. People do things that aren't rational. You can't really explain it a lot of the times.
MATTINGLY: It's the third act of violence in three days making national headlines. Monday, a 71-year-old ex-cop shoots and kills a man in a movie theater north of Tampa. Police say the shooter got into an argument with the victim because he was texting. He's claiming self-defense.
Tuesday, a 12-year-old boy wounds two students with a sawed-off shotgun inside a Roswell, New Mexico, middle school. No motive has been reported. All three events share a disturbing theme. Unsuspecting victims is at the mercy of a gunman in a place accessible and familiar to everyone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is horrible. I mean, nobody wants this to happen so close to home. I mean, this is a reality check and a sign of the world we live in. This is a scary place.
MATTINGLY: It's a frightening scenario that could give anyone pause, regardless of where you live.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is 10 percent of me that's always looking around for some nut here on the train or something, to push you on the train tracks. You've got to look out for that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to own a gun. I want to have a licensed gun because people crazy.
MATTINGLY: And if you're looking for comfort, it might seem like nowhere is safe. Pennsylvania police hunt for a road rage killer who chased his victim across state lines. An Oregon woman is the victim of a deliberate hit and run while walking at a public park. The driver said she had mistaken her for someone else. And a Florida man is arrested, deputies say after allegedly attacking another Wal-Mart shopper with too many items in the express checkout.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People aren't able to control themselves anymore. I just don't understand it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe there's just too much pressure on people these days. I really don't know. I mean, I don't know. I think we're just out of touch. We're just out of touch with reality.
MATTINGLY: And almost everyone we spoke to today have a question about what is reality today, Don. They have that question, that nagging question is our everyday world getting even more dangerous.
LEMON: Absolutely, afraid to leave your own home sometimes. Thank you, David Mattingly, appreciate that.
Joining me now, Mel Robbins, a radio host and a founder of Inspire 52, a company she created so people could start their day with positive stories, and Dr. William Pollack, an associate clinical professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School.
Doctor, it's not just shootings. I mean, it seems like we are seeing explosive anger more often, everyday life, you heard about the road rage incident, the Wal-Mart incident for buying too many items, this elderly gentleman gets attacked for trying to buy too many items in an express line? Are we seeing a genuine increase in anger in our society? DR. WILLIAM POLLACK, ASSOCIATE CLINICAL PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL: Well, what we're seeing is a genuine increase of the expression of anger in more violent ways. We heard one person say people are out of touch with reality. I don't know about that. They're out of touch with each other. We live in this connected society.
When you're in pain, when you're young, when you're old, when you're feeling sick or feeling angry, we don't know who to talk to or how to change things. And that can build up in some people to the point where it looks like they're snapping, but it's been building for a long time and they express it in a rage full way, sometimes with guns.
LEMON: But it does seem like people have gotten more rude in my time here on earth. Certain behaviours that once were unacceptable in public have become more common place. Is rudeness a possible cause of this anger?
POLLACK: I think rudeness is sort of an earlier symptom of the anger. We've let everything hang out. We don't have strict rules, which I think is good. But we've reached a point where we don't respect each other's feelings and maybe our other guests will talk about this, but we have social media, but we've become asocial. So we feel we can do anything we want, and that can build up. Some people when they're very frustrated, to causing harm without realizing what the consequences will be.
LEMON: My question is from the supermarket to the movie theatre, on and on and on, I'm always looking over my shoulder. Are we living under a false sense of security, do you think?
MEL ROBBINS, RADIO HOST: Totally! Look, I have three kids. I think what scared me about this week, Don, and it scared so many of us about the three stories in a row is these are all places where you're just living your day-to-day life. It's a school, a grocery store, a movie theatre. I was in the movie theatre a couple of weeks ago seeing "The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty" which is fantastic, by the way, very positive movie to see, but the jerk in front of me was texting. And I felt this rage.
LEMON: This anger!
LEMON: But you didn't pull out a gun or you didn't go punch the guy.
ROBBINS: But to the doctor's point, I think one of the things that he said is exactly right. When somebody snaps, Don, it's because they have had a lifetime of having so much crap build up over and over and over again and then they snap.
LEMON: That's why they're acting you think we're seeing more instances where people are acting out their anger?
ROBBINS: No doubt, no doubt. Part of the thing the doctor said I think is right, he said something about the fact we're not connected. Completely disagree. We're only connected to our own tiny little world. Walk around tomorrow and notice something. Notice how few people look you in the eye.
LEMON: Well, that's everyone does it, right? Doctor, I'm sitting here. I have my phone between the commercial break, and I'm looking. But seriously, I think it's because people are almost like objects now.
ROBBINS: And this is the thing, that what happens is it makes you think that there's no anybody else on the planet, that it's all there for you.
LEMON: Go ahead, Doctor.
POLLACK: Well, we're not genuinely emotionally connected. Social connections are wonderful on the internet or tweeting or whatever, but that's not a genuine, human, interpersonal connection. We're actually hard wired. Our neurology is hard wired to emotionally connect to large numbers of people and to small numbers of people, but actually, really in a caring way, not in a distant way through the media.
LEMON: OK, but remember we would always say when I was a kid growing up, it's about home training, right? That child wasn't trained at home. You have poor home training. You saved your best behaviour for strangers, right?
LEMON: But now it seems like people are snapping at people they don't even know. We talked a lot about the so-called knockout game. You guys have seen this video where the goal is allegedly to take out a stranger with a single punch.
ROBBINS: It's terrifying. These are kids that have a sense of injustice and entitlement. And it builds and it builds and they also don't see other people as human beings.
LEMON: But that's just bad kids.
ROBBINS: One of the things I worry about a lot is the fact we see this over and over on television.
LEMON: There's nobody at home going get your butt in the house, stop doing that, you're going to be grounded.
ROBBINS: Absolutely! Absolutely. There are a number of things, don that happen, right, that have somebody go off the rails and one of them has to do with the environment that you're raised in. However, I have a huge concern about the fact that when you see things in the news, in the media, you read about the fact that people do this, what happens is somewhere in the back of your subconscious in some sicko's head gets filed the idea of one option when I'm really angry is to grab a gun.
LEMON: Go ahead, Doctor, you're the expert. POLLACK: It's not it's not either/or, it's both. You're absolutely right. If you have a parent in the home as a child or caretaker who loves you and cares about you and shows you what's right, you're less likely to do these things. On the other hand, as we've just heard, if you're watching the big screen, the small screen, you're playing games where people are being shot over and over again and that's OK, you get points for it, what are you learning? And dare I say this, no matter whether you're a Democrat or Republican or independent.
ROBBINS: Say it.
POLLACK: If you watch TV and you watch our leaders of our country treat each other like bullies, what kind of message is that to the kids of our country?
LEMON: But also I think he has a point there and I think it's also with social media. Because people are just handles on Twitter on Facebook. They aren't real people so you can go on there and say whatever you want.
ROBBINS: When you're anonymous, you tend to say thing that are way more aggressive.
LEMON: Great conversation, I appreciate both of you. Doctor, come back. Mel, of course, come back as well. Still to come, a Southwest plane landed at the wrong airport. Tonight we ask America's top transportation investigator how it happened.
Plus breaking news involving Chris Christie, critical information just in about the relationship between the governor and one of the men at the centre of the bridge scandal.
And more than a year after the Sandy Hook massacre, we could be hearing the voice of Adam Lanza for the first time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This attack can be seen entirely parallel to the attacks and random acts of violence that you bring up on your show every week, committed by humans whom the mainstream also has no explanation for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: More of the chilling radio interview and what it could possibly tell us?
LEMON: Breaking news here is on CNN, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's bridge scandal. CNN has just learned more about the connection between the governor and one of the men at the centre of that scandal. David Wildstein is the man at the Port Authority that documents show started the traffic jam that has now blown up into a federal investigation. Let's get to the bottom of this right now. Chris Frates broke the news. He tells us more about how David Wildstein ended up at the Port Authority.
CHRIS FRATES, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: So, Don, what we're learning about David Wildstein is that the governor's office instructed Port Authority officials to give Wildstein a job at the highest levels of that organization. They wanted to see him inside the executive suite. And we're told that the top official inside the Port Authority would introduce Wildstein to his new co-workers by telling him, you know, this is David Wildstein, a good friend of the governor.
So what we're learning right now is that Governor Christie publicly has distanced himself from Wildstein. The two went to high school together. Christie had said we weren't friends in high school. I've only talked to this guy a couple of times since he's been at the Port Authority. But what we're hearing from sources inside Port Authority is that he was seen as a guy who was Governor Christie's eyes and ears.
LEMON: Tonight, more fallout's from the Southwest flight that landed at the wrong Missouri Airport this week. Senator Roy Blunt says the pilots are to blame for the potentially deadly landing in his state. He insists the air traffic controllers did nothing wrong. The pilots appear to have mistaken a small airport in Taney County, Missouri, for the larger Branson Airport just seven miles away.
Today accident investigators interviewed the pilots. Joining us now is National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman. Thank you for joining us, Ms. Hersman. You know, this was the second time in two months that a plane has landed at the wrong airport. Is this an easy mistake to make?
DEBORAH HERSMAN, CHAIRWOMAN, NTSB: Well, we're certainly looking into that. We want to make sure those pilots and air traffic controllers are communicating with each other and that things are well understood. We want to understand how technology can aid pilots in the cockpit and make sure that mistakes like this don't happen.
LEMON: Miss Hersman, we have been following this story very closely here on CNN and we even sent our very own David Mattingly to retrace the last moments of the flight. You could see the cars below. The pilots could have easily gone right onto that expressway. How lucky were these pilots to stop that big plane with that amount of runway?
HERSMAN: Well, I think we'll take obviously take a look at what the challenges were for these pilots in this environment, but really at the core of this we want to make sure that mistakes like this don't happen in the first place.
LEMON: Let's talk about mistakes like this not happening because today you released the NTSB's 2014 most wanted list. And one of your main priorities here is distraction. On this Southwest flight there were three people in the cockpit. Is distraction something you're looking into with this particular investigation? HERSMAN: Well, we look at all of the factors involved in our investigations and I think when we talk about two people in the cockpit, three people in the Cockpit; very often we find that another pair of eyes can be helpful. But in some situations, people may be talking about things that are no pertinent. We need to really understand what happens in any environment. But generally it's about people working together, having good discipline, having good procedures and knowing what their assigned roles and duties are.
LEMON: The last time I spoke to you was about Asiana Flight 214 and there was new video out this week from that flight and it shows a teenager -- a teenager made it out of the wreckage alive, only to be killed by first responders. The video shows how firefighters at the scene identified her body before she was struck. A person actually warns a driver, listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Stop, stop, and stop. There's a body right there's a body right there. It's Right in front of you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: I know this was a chaotic scene, but how does something like this happen?
HERSMAN: Well, that's exactly what our investigations seek to understand. When things happen that are difficult to understand or explain, there's often more to the story and we certainly have a chaotic environment here, but it's just a tragic, tragic outcome. No one certainly involved in the response efforts could envision something like this happening. But we need to understand what happened, why it happened, and make sure that we prevent it from happening not just in San Francisco, but anywhere in the U.S. and in fact around the world.
LEMON: Wasn't it the first responders' responsibility to stay with that teenager until she could be moved to a safe area?
HERSMAN: Well, our investigation actually had a public hearing last month where we had two different panels. We did hear from the firefighters in San Francisco about some of the post-accident evaluations and actions and certainly what we want to understand is triage environments and how they identify both the injured and the deceased in a very chaotic potentially mass casualty environment like this.
LEMON: Deborah Herman, thank you.
HERSMAN: Thank you.
LEMON: And still to come, 20 years ago one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history shook Los Angeles. Tonight, an incredible story of hope, how two lives came together amid the rubble?
Plus "Duck Dynasty" and its controversial star, Phil Robertson, back on the air, the ratings are in. Did A&E's gamble pay off?
And the creators of the hit CBS sitcom "How I Met Your Mother" under fire. Was this week's episode racist?
LEMON: When you live in California, the threat of an earthquake is a part of daily life. Just yesterday, a small 3.8 magnitude quake hit Southern California, but it has been 20 years since the last big one and 38 million Californians are wondering not if, but when the next major will strike. In 1994, a 6.7 magnitude quake hit North Ridge, killing 57 people.
Our Kyung Lah spoke to a survivor of that quake and she has a remarkable story of how it changed his life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At 4:31 the earth started shaking, rumbling.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Twenty years later, he still hears it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was really busy, pitched rumbling.
LAH: Mike Kubeisy was in his third floor unit of the North Ridge Meadows apartment on January 17th, 1994. This would become ground zero. It's near the Epicentre of the 6.7 magnitude quake.
MIKE KUBEISY, EARTHQUAKE SURVIVOR: I got out of bed. Just didn't feel right. I wasn't walking on a level ground. That's when I realized, crap, the building fell. It collapsed.
LAH (on camera): How many people died?
KUBEISY: About 16, 16 died. Six were my friends. Three of them were around me. Yes! Horrific!
LAH (voice-over): The site of the most casualties of one of America's most costly natural disasters. Amid aftershocks at the crumbling apartment complex, he kept pulling people out. Among them, a shell- shocked woman in Apartment 341 named Trish, who he coaxed step by step down a flimsy ladder.
KUBEISY: I got her leg over the balcony on the rung of the ladder. Next leg over, I got her supported, you're OK.
LAH: Kubeisy saved five lives, which is why President Clinton wanted to meet him.
KUBEISY: The president of the United States shakes your hand, looks you in the eye and says America is proud of you and you're a hero. I wasn't ready for that. That's not me.
LAH (on camera): Why is that not you?
KUBEISY: I'm a knucklehead. I was just helping my neighbours out.
LAH: What does that day mean for you?
KUBEISY: It changed my life. It changed my life forever. I mean, hindsight only to the better.
LAH (voice-over): Remember Trish, the neighbour Kubeisy rescued?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: God, you look great.
KUBEISY: She's just amazing and I'm the lucky guy she's married to.
LAH: Because of an earthquake?
KUBEISY: Because of an earthquake. Yes, a lot of friends said the Lord shook the world to get you two together.
LAH: In 20 years, they have built a life, two children who are now teenage boys.
KUBEISY: It's weird to think how something catastrophic would create us.
LAH: Their mom, like many survivors, prefers to not talk about that day, but her more gregarious husband says for him this anniversary is a lesson not about endings but beginnings.
KUBEISY: Through the tragedy, good will come out of it. We just need to be patient.
LAH: Fast forward to today, 20 years later, this is what the area looks like. The North Ridge Meadows Apartment address itself doesn't exist anymore. You can see that the buildings have been replaced by a more modern structure and there is virtually no sign of the disaster that is a remnant here. There are 16 trees, though, Don, marking where those people lost their lives here at this was the North Ridge Meadows Apartment complex -- Don.
LEMON: Amazing, Kyung Lah, what the passage of time will do. Thank you, Kyung Lah.
Still to come, are we hearing the voice of Sandy Hook shooter, Adam Lanza, for the first time? We'll play you the chilling radio interview and talk to the man who took the call.
Plus the creators of "How I Met Your Mother" criticized for this week's episode, was there a portrayal of agents racist?
And long forgotten photos of the Challenger space shuttle explosion unearthed. The man who found them is next.
LEMON: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT. The scandal involving "Duck Dynasty's" patriarch appears to have affected ratings. Eight-point-five million viewers reported tuned in for the season five premiere. But that's down 28 percent from its previous season debut of 11.8 million viewers. Last month, "Dynasty" star Phil Robertson was temporarily suspended after making controversial comments about gays and blacks.
And an amazing discovery. Michael Hindes was at his grandparents' house in Massachusetts when he found a series of pictures of the 1986 space shuttle "Challenger" disaster. Hindes' grandfather has a contractor for NASA at the time.
Nearly years after that memorable day, I asked him about this incredible find.
(BEGIN VIDE OCLIP)
MICHAEL HINDES, DISCOVERED CHALLENGER DISASTER PHOTOS: It's absolutely extraordinary. It's hard to put it in words. I mean, just the fact that I found the pictures, it was really nice because we were going through pictures of my grandmother for her memorial and we found those pictures. So, after that, me and my grandfather really got to connect about his old days at NASA. You know, he discovered how much I really appreciated the fact that he worked there.
We spent the night reminiscing about -- I told him how much I appreciated the fact that he worked there. He even gave me some -- looked for and gave me some keepsakes from when he worked there, some gifts that were given to him. He's really -- thinks what's special is the overwhelming, outpouring and support and the fact that this still resonates with people after all these years. The fact that it still resonates so strongly with them after all these years is really what's special to him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Hindes tells us he has reached out to NASA about the photos but hasn't heard back from them.
Disturbing new audio tapes out tonight of what may be the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter, Adam Lanza. According to "The New York Daily News", Lanza called into an Oregon radio show almost a year before he massacred 26 people. The recordings, if they are Lanza, may give some insight into what motivated the 20-year-old.
The 2011 call was made to the Anarchy Radio show and the caller who identified himself as Greg spoke mostly about a chimpanzee that had mauled its owner's neighbor. Take a listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CALLER: Look what civilization did to him. It had the same effect on him as it has on humans. He was profoundly sick in every sense of the term and he had to resort to these surrogate activities like watching baseball and looking at pictures on the computer screen, taking Xanax. He was a complete mess. And his attack wasn't simply because he was a senselessly violent, impulsive chimp.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
LEMON: John Zerzan was radio host who took that call and he is with us OUTFRONT tonight.
When you heard it may be the voice of Adam Lanza, what did you think?
JOHN ZERZAN, HOST, ANARCHY RADIO: Well, it's really chilling. It was -- it was a shock to realize that's who we were speaking with two years ago. Just that. I mean, it was so -- it was so horrendous a thing that then you hear a voice of the person who killed all those young children.
LEMON: Yes. You know, we talk to people all the time and we don't realize what's going on. Do you think of that conversation any differently now or would you have handled it any differently?
ZERZAN: Well, you know, looking back at it and reviewing what he said, you know what's really bizarre, to put it mildly, is when you consider the source. This guy was beyond the pale and yet I think he made a rather accurate point. That we're seeing these flip-outs, we're seeing these shootings and he mentioned sniper and stuff like that.
Well, at this stage of man's society, that seems valid. Anyone could have said that. Anyone who reads the paper now and then would have noticed that is happening. And maybe we should try to find out why.
But it's telling us about the society, it's something people don't want to hear, don't want to have discussed.
LEMON: And that is?
ZERZAN: Well, that we're now at the stage of apparently of mass society in the technological or even hyper-tech age where people are so isolated and cut off, where there's no community. You know, the whole picture -- the whole picture of people having fewer friends, living more and more alone, being isolated, despite what the ads for technology say. It's a very bereft place.
LEMON: We appreciate your candor, John Zerzan. Thank you.
ZERZAN: You're welcome.
LEMON: I want to bring in now, Jeff Gardere, a clinical psychologist.
You just heard one clip of these recordings and I want to play another in which the caller compares the chimp attack to a teenager shooter in a mall. Take a listen to this, Jeff.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CALLER: This attack can be seen entirely parallel to the attacks of random acts of violence that you bring up on your show every week committed by humans, which the mainstream also has no explanation for. An actual human I don't think it would have been a stretch to say it could have been a teenage mall shooter or something like that.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
LEMON: What do you make of these statements when you hear this?
GARDERE: It sounds like this is a mirror of Adam Lanza's own soul in his mind, looking at society as forcing that chimp to create that havoc and how he likens that to humans doing that to other people within society.
This is Adam Lanza saying, hey, listen, there's going to be another shooting. There's going to be another dangerous outbreak of violence, but it's not as random as you think it is. There's a reason that these things happen.
LEMON: If this is Adam Lanza, we couldn't confirm it but friends tell "The Daily News" that it was him. Was this a conversation that should have raised a red flag here? It seems pretty innocuous.
GARDERE: Well, I think for John Zerzan, certainly what he says is true. This is about a conversation, people talking about why these things happen. It is an Anarchy radio show, so you're going counter to society.
But I think perhaps a psychologist, like myself, listening to this, the person's voice is very robotic. He refers to society. He calls them just humans acting out or acting in a certain way. The fact that it's so controlled, his conversation, and likening this to mall shootings I think would have raised red flags certainly in my mind.
LEMON: Jeff Gardere, thank you very much. Appreciate that.
GARDERE: Thank you.
LEMON: "How I Met Your Mother", very popular television show, has met the wrath of viewers after a Kung Fu tribute gone wrong. Throughout Monday's show, the all white cast played a role of marshal art teachers dressing in Asian attire and speaking with stereotypical accents.
Well, the gag quickly led viewers to create the hashtag "how I met your racism."
Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT with more on the backlash.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is the sound of one hand slapping?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry, I don't understand.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "How I Met Your Mother" clearly thought it would be hilarious to spoof Kung Fu movies by portraying white characters as Asian.
But some in the Asian community are lighting up the Internet with complaints. One wrote, "Yellow face? Orientalism? Fu Manchu. Not OK."
Another called it, "Casual racism?"
And yet another, "How does CBS not have anyone who is remotely knowledgeable of Asian culture or do they just not give an F?"
The show creators rushed to respond. "We're deeply sorry. We try to make a show that's universal, that anyone can watch and enjoy. We fell short of that this week and feel terrible about it. To everyone we offended, I hope we can regain your friendship."
But that's not good enough for Suey Park, an Asian rights activist.
SUEY PARK, ACTIVIST: I think what we're trying to say is that we are a culture and not a costume, right? So, to truly pay tribute to these Kung Fu movies, why don't you pay tribute to the people being hurt by his representations?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, sexy girlfriend!
FOREMAN: Entertainment has long exploited Asian stereotypes for laughs. Exchange student in "16 Candles".
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Automobile?
FOREMAN: John Belushi's samurai on "Saturday Night Live."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Samurai TV repairman.
FOREMAN: More recently, Mr. Chow in "The Hangover."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Funny, that guy.
FOREMAN: And on another current sitcom, "Modern Family."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The only way she'll be happy is if I'm some Asian stereotype, but that just isn't me.
I didn't see those.
FOREMAN: Against that backdrop it's perhaps no surprise there are many defenders of the show who are saying, look, this is all good- natured fun, it's not meant to ridicule people, it's just the way it works.
But it's also very clear -- if you think with the "Duck Dynasty" episode and you think about this, there are simply things happening out there where people are sensitive and shows like this, particularly comedy shows, that want to go up to the edge are sometimes unintentionally perhaps stepping over the line -- Don. LEMON: You have to admit, though, that "Modern Family" car driving thing was pretty funny.
FOREMAN: This is the thing, though. It depends on which group is being skewered by it. That's why people are so sensitive. It's a difficult topic for people to talk about because one minute you say it's funny you got to admit, and other people say, that's the problem, people accept it. It's a tough road to hoe.
LEMON: Thank you, Tom Foreman. We're going to talk a little more about what Tom just said.
I want to bring in now comedian Dat Phan.
Dat, I mean, the personal comedy is that it has to be funny. "The Modern Family" thing I thought was really funny. You don't think the creator should have apologized to "How I Met Your Mother." Why is that?
DAT PHAN, COMEDIAN: First of all, Don, I want to thank you for not introducing me as William Hung, who sings "She Bangs" on "American Idol". Thank your not missing this.
PHAN: I don't think the producers owed an apology at all. Are you kidding me? I just watched the entire episode, though, I believe there was nothing offensive about it. I think America has become hypersensitive about this stuff.
I don't want to give away my age but basically I grew up during a time where I watched Tom & Jerry, and there's episodes where the cat is blowing his brains out. No offense, but I'm not -- a lot of my generation is not going around shooting up schools. It's the younger generation with the censored cartoons that's doing that.
And I'm not saying that the younger generation is bad, I'm just saying where they censored the cartoons and yet the crime is still climbing.
LEMON: Yes, if you were here, I would hug you because I think people are so sensitive nowadays. The thing that used to happen in television. I did something on the N-word where Richard Pryor and Chevy Chase said the N-word so many times you could not put that on television now because people are so sensitive.
PHAN: Right. No, it's ridiculous. The thing is I was watching the episode and I'm a huge fan of the show. But putting that aside, I was waiting and I was talking to the producers over in New York, I was like, where is the offensive part? I don't know where it's offensive. At the end when they showed the mustache.
Here's the deal -- if the guy had a regular mustache like a regular Americanized mustache, you wouldn't even be able to tell that he's playing an Asian guy at that point.
LEMON: Yes. PHAN: And they're talking about ancient martial arts, that's an ancient mustache. Now, I think it would be too far if he starts speaking with a terrible Asian accent, a terrible Asian accent, and they start eating a dog in front of everybody. I think that would be really offensive.
LEMON: The whole crew is laughing. I'm trying to conduct a serious interview and you have the entire studio laughing.
PHAN: Oh, really?
LEMON: Listen, does it bother you at all -- when I read the introduction, I said the all-white cast. Does it bother you there is no diversity on a show that's popular in 2014 when you look at the demographics of America?
PHAN: First of all, there were some Asian cast members. There's a little Asian kid and the Asian martial arts instructor. I believe they're Asian.
LEMON: Yes, they're not full cast members, though. I mean, they're not --
PHAN: Yes, I understand. But the thing is they have to show the actual cast members portraying these roles of the hand, the weapon hand. Now, if you compare it to "Breakfast at Tiffany's" where Mickey Rooney was playing an Asian guy, with the buck teeth and the cotton on his mouth, like, ho, ho, ho, like -- yes, I believe that's extremely offensive.
PHAN: But I think we came -- yes?
LEMON: I want to play this from one of your shows on comedy central real quick and get your reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHAN: I'm Vietnamese. Vietnamese people and beauty salons, how in the heck does this happen here, folks? What was our plan of attack on the American job market there, before we left Vietnam? What was it, Vietnam, this is the final meeting? I've been thinking about it. I know the perfect job for us. Vietnam, we take over by doing pedicure. That's how we take over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So you can make fun of your own culture, but others can't? Is it a double standard?
PHAN: Well, here's what I have to say. There's Angela Johnson, who does the beauty salon bit as well. She's Caucasian, she's not Vietnamese. I don't find it offensive that she does it. She's white. I do it because my sisters really do own a salon and it really was called Angie's Nails, which I mention in the joke. It's based on the truth. It's not like we are pulling it in a rickshaw and eating these animals we shouldn't be eating and we drive so bad that we kill everybody on the road and we're all terrorists.
I mean, that's not my joke. The joke is we do white people's nails and we speak Vietnamese in front of you. Which if people think that's offensive, then they believe that the Asian culture is offensive and it's offensive that we have people that are from another country trying to make a living doing pedicures.
LEMON: William Hung, you bang -- thank you.
PHAN: She bang, (INAUDIBLE). Some people say they're offended by my accents. My parents have an Asian accent. That would mean that they're offended -- I feel like I'm Reverend Jesse Jackson. You want to be offended by my people? I mean, but they really do have an accent, which means -- you know, if people are offended by the accent, they're offended by the presence of my ancestors, which I'm very proud of.
LEMON: I've got to go. I can talk to you all night, though. Come back on, will you?
PHAN: And I date white girls, how do you like that?
LEMON: Oh, my gosh. Oh, my gosh.
PHAN: Yes, take that, America.
LEMON: Thanks, Dat. Thanks, Dat.
Check out datphan.com for Dat's tour schedule.
And still to come, the Academy Award nominations are out. Actress Mo'Nique, an Oscar winner herself, tells us what to expect.
And every dog has its day for real this time. Jeanne Moos has more later in the show.
LEMON: The money and power of Hollywood. The Academy Award nominations were announced today and three actors of color picked up nominations. Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong'o for "12 Years A Slave", and Barkhad Abdi for "Captain Phillips". They are vying to join a very exclusive club that's just 13 black performers have won an Oscar for acting, including actress and comedienne Mo'Nique, who won the best supporting actress Oscar in 2009 for her portrayal of Mary Lee Johnson in "Precious."
And we're lucky enough to have her with us tonight.
Hey, boo, how are you doing?
MO'NIQUE, ACTRESS: Hey, Don, how are you doing?
LEMON: I'm great, I'm great. Mo'Nique and I go way back. I was on her talk show back when my book came out and she was very sweet to me.
And I want to -- what do you remember from the night you won, Mo'Nique?
MO'NIQUE: The night that I won?
MO'NIQUE: I have to say that that whole day was -- I would say surreal almost because I was watching videos of Hattie McDaniel receiving her award when she won the Oscar, while I was getting ready to come to the Oscar.
So, you know, I think that that night, it was to say to Hattie McDaniel -- here we go, sister, and I appreciate all that you had to endure so that I wouldn't have to. I was having feelings of also saying to the academy, I appreciated that they didn't buy into all that the media was saying.
You know, that I was being this diva and I was being difficult because I didn't campaign for an award, that I felt like, guys, the award is -- the performance is on the screen.
MO'NIQUE: I don't know what else I can do, so I was appreciative that the Academy said we won't buy into that. We're going to buy into the performance, which I think that that's what it should be and when they called my name, it was a feeling of, OK, Ms. Hattie McDaniel, here we go.
LEMON: I know. I mean, you had the long breath and it was amazing. Let's -- I want to talk to you -- get deeper with this. There have been 2,809 Oscars awarded since 1929, but just 33 of them have gone to black filmmakers.
Why do you think African-Americans are so underrepresented during award season?
MO'NIQUE: You know, when we get to the award season, I think it's unfair to put it on the awards season. Because if we turn on TVs right now from channel 1 to channel 1,000, you'll see just how underrepresented we are. So to just put it on the awards season, it happens far longer than the award season.
If you go to the movie theaters and you see, maybe one or two of our movies or three or four a year. It's not the awards season, it's just what it is and how it's been that we're underrepresented.
LEMON: Only 13 actors including yourself have won for acting. On the men's side, it's pretty evenly distributed, with four men winning for lead and four for supporting. But on the women's side, it's very different story. Five winning for supporting, just one for lead. Is it harder for women of color to get and win for lead performances, do you think?
MO'NIQUE: You know, Don, if we really think about it to say is it hard for women of color to win for lead performances, how many opportunities are there for women of color to have a lead performance to begin with?
And again, if we look at the history of our industry, this is nothing new at all to say, well, are we underrepresented or what do we do? This has been going on for a long time. And I'm really glad now that we're starting to have open and honest dialogue to say, let's pay attention to it. And bring more diversity. Not just in front of the camera, we have to also bring diversity in those board rooms for the people that are make the decisions so that we can then see how the diversity happens for real America.
LEMON: I've got a couple more things that I want to talk to you about. I thought of you immediately and I've been trying to get you on here for two weeks to talk about "SNL" recently hiring its first female black fee cast member in seven years and two new black writers. Jimmy Fallon just hired the first black female late night writer in TV history, in TV history.
You try as a stand up comedian, did you have trouble getting hired as a female comedian, and do you think black actors and comedians support each other enough?
MO'NIQUE: Well, Don, because I love you so much I will not allow you to have the wrong information. Because she's not the first black female writer in TV history.
LEMON: Go, girl.
MO'NIQUE: Her name was Vanessa Fraction (ph) on the Mo'Nique show. Where that show? It was a late night talk show.
LEMON: Amen. I was on that show.
MO'NIQUE: Yes. So her name was Vanessa Fraction to be the first black female writer. But there was also Ocantune (ph), Warnock (ph), I'm sorry, gosh, she's going to strangle me, Marshawn (ph). There was Rodney Perry, Anthony Belcher, all this great black writers that were brilliant. But when you say she's the first one, was that show overlooked and are those writers overlooked because they are black?
LEMON: Yes. Hey, listen, I want to move on real quickly. A short time with you and I hate that.
Your co-star Precious recently went to the golden globe awards. People criticized her about her dress. She got on twitter and fired right back and said I'm really upset about all the haters when I got on my private plane and went to my dream job.
What do you make of the criticism for women who are bigger?
MO'NIQUE: Did you see the smile on my face, Don? I was so proud of Gabby. And she looked so beautiful. And you know, for her to come back like that she was saying, listen, guys, I'm having a good time with life. I'm not even going to fool with it.
LEMON: Very good. Mo'Nique, thank you. I want to talk to you soon about this new film you have coming out. I find it very interesting. I appreciate you coming CNN. I'll see you soon, OK?
MO'NIQUE: Thank you so much, Don.
LEMON: Thank you.
Still to come, for years, dog owners had a bone to pick with the Westminster dog show. But now, a major change to how it's run. Jeanne Moos has more and that's next.
LEMON: A Westminster dog show mixing things up for the first time in its history, the club known for its purebred pups will allow mutts to compete alongside its prized canines. But just don't call them best in show.
Here's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You know the song --
MOOS: Well, now it's who let the mutts in. And the answer is that upper crust bastion of purebreds, the dog show where pooches get better treatment than people.
(on camera): Did you hear that mutts are allowed in the Westminster dog show?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did not know that.
MOOS: Is that anything you care about?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, not really.
MOOS (voice-over): Says the guy walking Dakota, the purebred English setter. But if mutts got no respect at Westminster, now they're going to get a little. They'll be allowed into an agility competition that takes place two days before the main event.
DAVID FREI, WESTMINSTER KENNEL CLUB: It involves dogs that might not normally be seen at Westminster including mixed breed dogs. We're excited to have them be part of the family.
MOOS: Agility competitions are booming in popularity.
I mean, which would you rather watch, a dog getting picked up by his private for judging or dogs madly dashing? Around an agility course over teeter totters and through tunnels. It's even more fun when they just stop, or when a lot of dog has to fit through a little space. Competition like this is what will be open for mixed breeds at Westminster next month.
(on camera): So while they won't yet be allowed into the main event, at least mutts now have a paw in the door. Henry, give me your paw. Paw. Yes.
Do you think mutts should be in Westminster?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course. But a dog is a dog, right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So what if they're mutts?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why not have mutts?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd watch that.
MOOS: As for purebreds like this Spinone.
(on camera): You sound like an entree.
(voice-over): How will purebreds react to mutts running amuck?
(on camera): It's not like these guys are going to care.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
MOOS: They're not going to say, hey, that's a mutt. I don't want him in the show.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
MOOS (voice-over): Can't we all just get along?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The idea that you can be a mutt and still have a life.
MOOS (on camera): Doggy diversity.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, exactly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right, for all.
MOOS (voice-over): And though inclusivity won't extend to mutts competing for best in show, maybe having your hair done.
(on camera): What's the hair style called?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Snooki.
MOOS (voice-over): Isn't all it's cracked up to be. I mean, mutts, do you really want your tail tickled to make it stand up?
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York. (END VIDEOTAPE)
LEMON: Very cute. I'm Don Lemon.
"AC360" starts right now.