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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Former Governor Accused Of Accepting Illegal Gifts; Snow Slams Northeast And Midwest; New Trail Sought for Executed 14-Year-Old
Aired January 21, 2014 - 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, a former Virginia governor once a star in the Republican Party just moments away from speaking publicly for the first time since he and his wife were indicted on federal charges.
Plus, the rising stock of Richard Sherman, could the post-game rant by the Seattle Seahawks cornerback mean millions of dollars for him.
And a new video emerges of a rambling and incoherent Rob Ford. What the crack smoking mayor of Toronto says happened. Let's go OUTFRONT.
We're going to begin with breaking news. I'm Don Lemon in for Erin Burnett. Tonight, former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is expected to speak at any moment now the in Richmond, Virginia about today's indictment by the a federal grand jury against him and his wife.
McDonnell once considered a rising star in the Republican Party and a potential presidential contender is now accused of accepting illegal gifts valued at a minimum of $140,000. Among the items listed on the 14-count indictment are a Rolex watch engraved with 71st governor of Virginia, Louis Viton shoes and other designer clothes, two sets of golf clubs, two iPhones and 30 boxes of an expensive anti- inflammatory.
In a statement earlier today, McDonnell admitted to poor judgment, but was emphatic that he did nothing illegal. We're going to keep an eye on the story for you and an eye on the podium to see when the governor comes up. Bob McDonnell about to speak at any moment in Virginia about the charges against him and his wife.
Our other breaking news story tonight, snow slamming the northeast and the mid Midwest. If you thought the last big storm was bad, what's about to hit is much, much worse. Up to a foot of snow is expected in some areas of Rhode Island and Massachusetts tonight, 8 to 10 inches right here in New York City. Governors across the northeast have the already declared states of emergency. And we'll get to that story in just a moment.
We're going to get now to the former governor of Virginia. Let's listen.
BOB MCDONNELL, FORMER VIRGINIA GOVERNOR: I am here with my wife, Maureen and my daughter, Kalin and my son-in-law, Chris. I really appreciate this opportunity to address the people of Virginia here tonight. I come before you this evening as someone who has been falsely and wrongfully accused and whose is public service has been wrongfully attacked. Earlier today, federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against me and my wife, Maureen alleging that we violated federal law by accepting gifts and loans from Johnny Williams, the former CEO of Star Scientific.
While I deeply regret accepting these legal gifts and loans from Mr. Williams, all of these now have been returned or repaid with interest. I have apologized for my poor judgment and I accept full responsibility for accepting these legal gifts and loans. However, I repeat again emphatically that I did nothing illegal for Mr. Williams in exchange for what I believed was his personal friendship and his generosity.
I never promised and Mr. Williams and his company never received any government benefit of any kind from me or from my administration. No contract, loan, grant, funding, legislation, budget appropriation, regulation, border commission assignment, or any other official state benefit.
I never promised or attempted to influence anyone to give Mr. Williams or his company any official state benefits. I did not try to hide or deceive anyone about my friendship with Mr. Williams. Two independent and non-political investigations have confirmed that Mr. Williams and Star Scientific received nothing from the state.
And not one penny of taxpayer money went to him or to Star Scientific during our administration. Not one penny. Star Scientific themselves publicly confirmed just last spring that it neither sought nor received any special benefits from any public official.
The federal government's case rests entirely on a misguided legal theory, and that is that facilitating an introduction or a meeting, appearing at a reception or expressing support for a Virginia business is a erious federal crime if it involves a political donor or someone who gave an official a gift.
The United States Supreme Court has already rejected this radical idea and for good reason because if it were applied as the law of the land, then nearly every elected official from President Obama on down, would have to be charged for providing tangible benefits to donors.
My administration provided Mr. Williams the same routine courtesies and access to state government that I and every other governor before me afforded to thousands of individuals, companies, charities and other organizations whether they were donors or not. No other elected official has been successfully prosecuted for such conduct yet, federal --
LEMON: Former governor of Virginia, Robert McDonnell, speaking there with his family at his side, denyiny any wrongdoing in this investigation. Federal indictments handed down today, 14 federal charges that he and his wife accepted gifts of more than $140,000, including expensive watches and clothing, as well. Our Joe Johns joins us now in Washington. Joe, this is a very big deal. He is very influential in the Republican Party, even presidential material they thought at one point.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I was told his name was even floated as a possible potential vice presidential nominee to go along with Mitt Romney, but I was also told he was never vetted. You're right. He was a very big deal and he's fighting for his political life right now.
And it's also pretty clear that he's going to try to go to the mat with the Justice Department. Holding this news conference he put out a statement just a couple hours ago that included some of this.
And we also have this. This is a document that just came out from his lawyers, and it makes the case essentially that his lawyers are concerned that they're not getting all the information from the government they need to properly defend him and obviously, the critical question here is whether he and his wife exchanged a thing of value with this Johnny Williams character in exchange for an official act.
So a big deal and is probably going to take a long time to fight in the courts. He just left office as governor of Virginia on January 11th. So he is new to private life as a citizen, and he's fighting for his political life right now.
LEMON: Absolutely. He said again he's denied any wrongdoing and said he paid everything back, everything went repaid with interest. We'll continue to follow this developing story for you on CNN, the former governor of Virginia speaking now about a 14-count indictment handed down.
Now back to the big storm that polar vortex that is hitting the northeast and the Midwest, up to a foot of snow expected in some areas of Rhode Island and Massachusetts tonight, 8 to ten inches right here in New York City. Governors across the northeast already declared states of emergency and nearly 3,000 flights already cancelled, stopped landing all together at New York's LaGuardia airport nearly three hours ago.
Deep freeze threatens the entire eastern half of the nation. Temperatures are expected to drop 10 to 25 degrees below average this week, likely bringing a whole host of other weather related problems and making clean-up from this storm even more difficult.
Poppy Harlow out in it in Port Washington, Long Island tonight. Poppy, how are the conditions where you are?
POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They've been nice. The streets are completely empty. A few people trying to get back home in Long Island. They can deal with snow. They've got 4 to 5 inches of it snow already. They're going to get 8 to 12 tonight. But the real story here is the freezing temperatures. Look at Main Street. No one's out because it is frigid out here. They're going to get to the about 8 degrees tonight. The real concern, it's not going to get warmer. It's going to stay cold here overnight and in the morning. All the ice on roads will make them more treacherous. Just to give you a sense of what it was like getting here today from New York City.
We left New York City 12:30 p.m., took us four hours for a drive that should have taken less than an hour. We didn't go more than 10 miles an hour the entire time on the Long Island Expressway. That's what you're dealing with, bad driving conditions. Hundreds of schools are closed for tomorrow, frigid, frigid temperatures.
There are a few people, a few people out on the street at all. I'll show you them tonight, but not many because they frankly don't want to be out with this. But Don, we thought we'd bring you one. We thought we would bring you one.
This is lucky. Lucky and Andy are about the only ones dealing with this weather and the only places that are open are the pizza shop and the liquor store. The liquor store owner telling me people are coming in for wine, single malt scotch. They want to warm up. But everything else is closed.
LEMON: That is not faux fur. He was born with that. Thank you very much, Poppy Harlow. Appreciate it. Let's head out to Plymouth, Mass now. That's where we'll find our Chad Meyers, a foot of snow, freezing temperatures, what else do we have to look forward to on the weather front, Chad?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: A ground blizzard, Don. I look down here to the ground probably six inches of snow on the ground already. The deal is it's so light. We call this 20 to 1 snow. There's a difference. Typically when you get one inch of water to fall out of the sky, you can get seven inches of snow at 32 degrees.
We're at like 10. That's a 20 do 1, one inch makes 20 inches of snow, not seven to one so 20 to one. As it blows around, it moves around with you. So here five, six inches here absolutely zero, it's completely bare here because the wind has just scoured this away.
I'm going to show you what we've seen so far because it has been snowing all the way from Washington, D.C. through Baltimore through Philadelphia right through New Jersey, Long Island for sure. Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, that's where the snow has been coming down so far today.
Here are some numbers. Making a run at 10 inches and it's still snowing in many, many cities right now. So we are easily going to get to the one foot. Although you may never see one foot, you may see zero to two feet. So that's kind of the range because of the way the scouring, the wind is going to blow these drifts shire and higher tonight.
There will be more snow, probably another 4 to 6 inches. Philadelphia you have six more hours of snow. New York City probably 12. Here still 18 inches of snow before the storm finally pulls away tomorrow morning. We're still going to have snow copping down in many major cities.
If you have travel plans tomorrow, especially through the airports, 3,000 planes are cancelled today. There will be more cancelled tomorrow for sure. This is going to be another multiday storm with multiday travel problems. At least we are not talking about a holiday season or holiday day here.
This is a big cold storm. Some of the locals here though, to be honest, they're calling this a nuisance. That's what they think. They don't think this is a big thing. I think they'll find this more than a nuisance tomorrow morning when they wake up with this much of a drift and can't get out of their front door.
LEMON: That's what you call bloom where you're planted. Stay where you are and have a good time. No need to go anywhere else. Thank you, Chad Myers. Appreciate it.
Still to come, breaking news, the wife of an American being held in Iran speaks for the first time since we learned he was working for the CIA.
An influential leader of the NAACP compares Senator Tim Scott, the only black Republican in the Senate to a ventriloquist dummy. Reverend William Barber is here to defend that statement.
And the sports world still talking about Richard Sherman's post-game comments, was it the smartest business decision he's ever made?
LEMON: More breaking news to tell you about.
The family of the longest-held American hostage is speaking out. Bob Levinson went missing in Iran seven years ago, and it was publicly revealed just last month that he was doing undercover contract work for the CIA at the time.
Christine Levinson and her son Dan are now speaking out to our Susan Candiotti.
CHRISTINE LEVINSON, WIFE OF MISSING AMERICAN: He was doing what he always did, which is working for the United States government and investigating criminal activities. And the United States government has not taken ownership of it yet.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The wife and son of retired FBI agent Bob Levinson speaking out for the first time since it was publicly revealed her husband was arrested in Iran, doing undercover contract work for the CIA. He disappeared in 2007.
DAN LEVINSON, SON OF MISSING AMERICAN: I have just kept thinking, like, this can't actually be happening. This is such a nightmare.
CANDIOTTI: To this day, the government denies Levinson was a government employee. The State Department says it's doing everything it can to bring him home.
But the family is outraged, saying the CIA lost eight months after he varnished, lying about his spy work to them and the Senate Intelligence Committee, until the family turned up crucial records to prove it. The agency has now apologized and paid a $2.5 million settlement. The CIA won't comment publicly, but fired three people and disciplined seven others.
DAVID MCGEE, FAMILY ATTORNEY: It's immoral. They denied Bob's relationship with them not out of any matter of principle. They denied Bob's relationship to protect themselves and not to protect Bob.
(on camera): Do you feel he was abandoned?
C. LEVINSON: I feel he was left there. He was the man left behind.
CANDIOTTI (voice-over): To bolster their case, the family is now sharing with CNN documents they received from a source in Iran that appear to prove Levinson's arrest.
Neither the family nor CNN can verify whether they're authentic and his name is only partially right, but according to a translation given the family by the FBI, it reads: "A member of the U.S. federal investigation or maybe CIA, Robert Anderson, is here as an undercover tourist taking pictures and gathering information. Since his spying activities have been established, arrest him immediately."
CNN has also obtained an e-mail intercepted by the family's lawyer between Levinson and his CIA handlers just before he left for Iran. It reads: "An individual has agreed to meet with me. This meeting will take place either in Dubai or on an island nearby."
(on camera): Why didn't you say what you knew at the very start?
C. LEVINSON: The risks to Bob. I didn't know the what the risk would be.
D. LEVINSON: We were told by the U.S. government that by revealing what he was actually doing over there would have been harmful to his safety.
CANDIOTTI: Now, the family is certainly grateful about ongoing efforts to try to bring Levinson home, but the fact of the matter is, no one really knows exactly where is he or how he is. The family wants to be able to go to Iran. They're asking for permission to go back there, Don, so that they can push for answers.
They were there once before in 2007.
LEMON: Yes. Is there any chance -- I have to ask you, any chance that Bob Levinson and others being held there might be used sort of as bargaining chips to help with the nuclear enrichment agreement?
LEVINSON: Well, he's certainly not the only one there. There are two others.
The family would like to see that happen, but the U.S. government has made it clear that those talks are completely separate from the Americans who are being held in Iran right now.
LEMON: Good reporting.
Susan Candiotti, thank you very much.
Still to come, new details in a bizarre story we brought you yesterday -- why a mother charged with killing her two children during an exorcism formed a group called the Devil's Assassins.
Plus, a brand-new video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford slurring words and making obscene comments.
And first lady Michelle Obama schools members of the Miami Heat. That's later in the show.
LEMON: Rob Ford, Toronto's crack-smoking mayor, is back in the spotlight today after a new video showed him incoherently ranting about his city's chief of police at a Toronto area restaurant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROB FORD, MAYOR OF TORONTO, CANADA: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) The guy's five (INAUDIBLE) and trying to tell me -- well, we're (INAUDIBLE) you know what I mean? He's hiding here. I'm hiding here. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) How much money that cost him?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The entire rant included a reference to oral sex and a number of curse words in both English and Jamaican Creole. There was some question about when the video was filmed until earlier today. Mayor Rob Ford himself confirmed it was shot just last night.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
QUESTION: Were you drinking last night?
FORD: A little bit, yes.
QUESTION: Do you think that video was offensive to people?
FORD: No, I was with some friends. And what I do with my personal life and my personal friends, that's up to me. It really has nothing to do with -- has nothing to do with you guys. It's my own time. It's my own friend. And --
QUESTION: Did you use drugs last night?
FORD: No, no.
QUESTION: How did you get there?
FORD: No, no.
QUESTION: When did you start drinking again, Mr. Mayor?
QUESTION: Did you ever stop drinking?
QUESTION: Don't you need help, Mayor Ford?
FORD: I have answered all the questions.
QUESTION: No, you didn't.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
LEMON: For more on the story, we're joined now by "The Toronto Star"'s acting city hall bureau chief, Daniel Dale.
Listen, it's easy to make fun of him, Daniel. This guy needs help.
DANIEL DALE, "THE TORONTO STAR": Yes, well, you know, he and his family say that or have said that he doesn't need help, that he needs to lose weight and just get himself on the right track, but that he doesn't have a serious medical problem.
LEMON: In this video -- I listened to it over and over, and I know he's speaking in Jamaican Creole as they say in some -- but he doesn't make sense. It's incoherent. Is he drunk? Is he on something? Do we know?
DALE: We don't know for sure. He has acknowledged that he was drinking. He says he had a little bit to drink. We have no evidence that he was on drugs. So all we know at this point is that he was consuming alcohol.
LEMON: You have your own history with the mayor, filing a lawsuit against him after he made a crude comment about you. So when you saw this video, what was your initial reaction to it?
DALE: Well, my reaction is that this story -- this story continues.
A lot of people had remarked how the mayor had been on excellent behavior over the last several weeks. You know, he has told everyone about his frequent workouts. He lost a lot of weight.
He was generally seen to have performed at least adequately during his management of the ice storm. We had an ice storm here, and he was part of the response. So people thought that, you know, maybe he was perhaps turning things around. And now we're back to some extent to where we were.
LEMON: Let's talk a little bit more, because we mentioned his family.
Shortly before the mayor's press scrum today, his brother, Toronto Councillor Doug Ford, was asked about the video, and this is what he had to say. He said: "I'm sure it was him, but it wasn't yesterday. I haven't seen the video. I know it wasn't yesterday, because I was talking to him last night at 10:30 p.m. He's given up drinking 100 percent" -- Doug Ford.
And, then, of course, it was yesterday. Do you think the Ford family is totally unaware of the mayor's actions, or his brother is lying for him, or is there -- I don't know. Is it time for his family and his friends to step in and say OK, look, we need to do something about this?
DALE: Yes, well, a lot of people, from city councillors to members of the public, have called for Councillor Ford and other members of the Ford family, you know, to tell their brother and their son, frankly, that he does need to step away, take some time, go to rehab.
But it just doesn't seem like something that they believe, that they're not going to do it. As for Doug's comments today, I don't know. There have been several previous times in the past where Councillor Doug Ford has said something, and it has -- his brother has contradicted it quite soon after. And that happened again today.
Whether Doug Ford was lying or didn't know and was just trying to -- you know, reverting to his instinctive habit of trying to cover for his brother in some way, I'm really not sure.
LEMON: Daniel Dale with "The Toronto Star," thank you, Daniel.
Still to come: Almost 70 years ago, a 14-year-old black boy was put to death for the murder of two young white girls. Now there are questions about whether he was wrongfully convicted.
And the sports world is still buzzing about Richard Sherman's post- game rant. He apologized, but was it a brilliant business decision?
LEMON: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT.
Snow and scandal. That's what Chris Christie was dealt with -- was dealt with as he took his oath of office in New Jersey as the governor for the second term today. Christie didn't directly tackle the elephant in the room, the so-called bridgegate and Superstorm Sandy scandals, but he did offer up a hint as he addressed the snowstorm in the Northeast.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: It's only fitting that in this administration, with more hurricanes, snowstorms, flooding, and disaster of the natural sort, that of any administration I can remember in my lifetime, that we begin the second term in the same way.
(LAUGHTER & APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: A new national poll shows Christie is trailing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a hypothetical 2016 match-up with Christie at 38 percent to Clinton's 46 percent.
And an update on a disturbing story out of Maryland we brought you yesterday. A mother, police say, attempted an exorcism on her children by stabbing two to death and injuring two others. Now, CNN has learned from the police that the woman Zakieya Avery allegedly put together an organization out of her church she dubbed "devil's assassins". Its purpose: to get rid of the devil.
Police say Avery was the commander of the group and another woman also arrested was a sergeant. Both were being held without bond and were ordered today to have mental evaluations to see if they are competent to the stand trial.
And watch out. You might get schooled by the first lady of the United States in basketball. Michelle Obama stars in a new video with last year's NBA champs, the Miami Heat, to the promote her Let's Move campaign against obesity. Check it out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could take it from me, eating the right foods can help make you a better athlete.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh.
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: Oh.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And the team stopped by the White House last week to receive well wishes from the president for winning two championships in a row.
Was it a rush to judgment or just justice served? Nearly 70 years ago, a 14-year-old boy became one of the youngest convicted murderers to be execute the in the United States. And today, a South Carolina judge began hearing evidence to reopen his case.
George Stinney Junior, who's African-American, was found guilty by an all-white jury of murdering two white girls in 1944. Now, his family says the teen was wrongfully convicted and they want to clear his name.
David Mattingly is OUTFRONT with this story.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In 1944, George Stinney Jr. was just 14 when a rush to judgment sent him to his death in the South Carolina's electric chair. Convicted in the murders of two little white girls, Stinney's trial reportedly took just three hours. The all-white jury deliberated just 10 minutes.
Now, seven decades later, attorneys for the Stinney family asked for a new trial to clear his name.
RAY CHANDLER, STEINNEY FAMILY ATTORNEY: George Stinney could not have committed these murders. I think George Stinney saw those children, but I don't think George Stinney was the last person to see those children.
MATTINGLY: The bodies of 11-year-old Betty June Binnicker and an-7- year-old Mary Emma Thames were found in a ditch in a small town of Alcolu. A coroner's report at the time described a brutal beating, multiple severe head injuries suggested the killer used a blunt instrument about the size of a hammer.
Family of the victims still believe Stinney was guilty.
FRANKIE BAILEY DYCHES, BETTY JUNE BINNICKER'S NIECE: They had no choice on how they died and he did and I think justice was served according to the laws of 1944 when this happened.
MATTINGLY: In the few records that still exist, Stinney allegedly confessed, even told police where to find the murder weapon. During the trial, his attorney called no witnesses, be asked no questions and filed no appeal after the young boy was sentenced to death.
Today, Stinney's siblings testified the teen was innocent, with them the entire time.
AMIE RUFFNER, GEORGE STINNEY'S SISTER: I want to clear the air. We are not allowed to go any place without my mother's permission. They were very strict with us. We could not go no place nowhere.
MATTINGLY: And listening to the family on the stand today, they draw a picture of a case in which critical evidence seemed to be completely overlooked in this rush to judgment. They pointed out in a crime like this, there would have been a great deal of blood, and yet they found no blood anywhere on their brother's clothing -- Don.
LEMON: The obvious question, why did it take 70 years for this case to go back to court?
MATTINGLY: This was a very slow-moving thing but it continued to build over the decades. At first, the family was afraid to speak out and actually had to leave their home. The siblings were talk on the stand today about how they had to leave in fear a mob might show up to do them all harm after their brother was arrested.
So they left in fear and didn't talk about it for a while, but they continued to keep the conversation going. It took decades for them to find people to listen, to start doing research on this. They actually came up with some potential witnesses to bolster their case, including one man who was the cell mate of their brother who said the young man at the time said he did not do this and that he was forced into a confession.
LEMON: David Mattingly, 14 years old, thank you very much. I appreciate that.
In the NFL, a big personality oftentimes brings big business. Interest in Richard Sherman is sky high right now two days after the Seattle Seahawks star cornerback unleashed this epic post-game rant aimed at his opponent Michael Crabtree.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD SHERMAN, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: Well, I'm the best corner in the game. When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that's the result you're going to get. Don't you ever talk about me.
REPORTER: Who was talking about you?
SHERMAN: Crabtree, don't you open your mouth about the best, or I'm going to shut it for you real quick.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: My favorite part, that just gives me life, by the way. My favorite part is Erin Andrews when she goes, who was talking? I wish we could play it over again.
Since that rant, Sherman has been at the center of the pre-Super Bowl conversation. His Twitter followers exploding by more than 360,000. But does all of this attention help or hurt Sherman's brand?
Joining me now is Jamie Fritz, who manages Sherman's marketing deals, and CNN political commentator Marc Lamont Hill.
I mean, come on, Marc, doesn't that just give you life, when you --
MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is my favorite post- game interview ever.
HILL: It is awesome.
Jamie, you know, Sherman has become almost a household name because of that rant. Is that emotion what's driving the attention among advertisers right now? JAMIE FRITZ, FRITZ MANAGEMENT CEO: Well, I think his play on the field this whole season but certainly has grabbed a lot of attention since Sunday night's game.
LEMON: Yes. Well, to say the least.
FRITZ: It's the only thing anybody's talking about.
LEMON: Yes, it is.
Marc, listen, I want you to listen, let's talk about the marketing angle of the story. This weekend Beats by Dr. Dre released a new commercial featuring Sherman. I want to play just a portion for you. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Do you have a problem with aggression?
SHERMAN: Not off the field.
REPORTER: He thinks he's so (EXPLETIVE DELETED) untouchable.
REPORTER: Did you fight a lot as a kid?
SHERMAN: Not everyone in Compton is a gang member.
REPORTER: Richard, have gone downhill since college?
REPORTER: As an athlete, do you feel you're untouchable?
SHERMAN: I'm not afraid of anything.
REPORTER: What do you think about your reputation as a thug?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And Sunday, Nike tweeting this out. "Keep playing until there's nothing left to say. He has a right to make money."
But do you think marketing agencies will misuse this? Marc?
HILL: That's what I'm worried about. Again, I think he's an amazing player. He's one of my favorite players. I think he's certainly not the best in the game, top three absolutely. He deserves all the marketing money he gets, he's all pro.
My concern though is when they use this image, will they see him as an extraordinary athlete or has a knack for talking trash or will they frame him as another angry violent, disrespectful athlete.
I think they missed a point on how special, how smart, how talented he is if they misused him in the marketing, and advertisers and corporations don't care how he gets represented. They just want the money.
LEMON: Jamie, does he have a point?
FRITZ: Absolutely. You know, corporate America knows who Richard Sherman is and while you look at that interview, what did you say when you started this? It was one of the best interviews you've ever seen. And that's the difference.
I've talked to brand managers this week. They're fired up and love it. They say this is real. This is true. In a world so full of media training and everybody's so politically correct, we finally have a player who's willing to speak his mind and wear his emotions on his shoulder.
LEMON: Yes, I like it when people speak their mind and they say it like they mean it. Go ahead, Marc.
HILL: I was about to say you can enter Terrell Owens-ville, too,where for the first five years they love you, they love your outspokenness, until you ask for a contract and talk about inequality in the league. Until you say something those same people don't like and suddenly that outspokenness comes back to bite.
And the other thing is part of what made Sherman a household name in the last 24 hours, because he aroused such a negative response from some people. Look at all at hatred he got on Twitter, look at all the people who called him violent names, ill names, racist names.
I'm worried they'll play on those anxieties and misuse his reputation.
LEMON: Yes. Well, come on, Marc. He shouldn't have to worry about Twitter, just if people are buying his products and if he can play on the field. If the teams are going to hire him, they continue to use him.
But, you're right. Listen, remember we were just talking about Chris Kluwe last week who said he was not picked up after he spoke out inequality among gay people in the league. So, I think you do have a point there.
Jamie, my question to you is, because you handle Sherman's marketing deals, what is the deal now? How many calls are you getting? Is it astronomical now? Are more people interested in him because of this?
FRITZ: Well, we've been making noise all season. The brand managers out there have been aware of Richard. So, we've been in those conversations.
There have been a few more that have come to the table.
But I think what you guys have to understand is, you know, these guys play this game at a very high level. The adrenaline, the competitive DNA that is flowing in a game like this, I've said this a couple times. If you take a stopwatch and record from the moment he makes the play to the put his team in the Super Bowl to the moment Erin Andrews shows up with a camera in his face, it's like 60 seconds. You know, the amount of adrenaline, the amount of emotion -- anybody who's played a competitive sport in a championship level knows what it's like to have those emotions running.
You know, still here's a guy who's never been arrested. He never said a curse word in a post-game interview. And when you look at his body of work off the field and what he does for the community and charity, it's two completely different people.
The person that you guys --
LEMON: I think many people get that. Mark and I both argued that point, that this man is not a thug. He was hopped up on adrenaline. And I think most people who were talking smack in sports bars more smack than him and have never set foot on a football field. So, you can't really hold that against him.
But not everybody thinks that way. Not everybody knows that. And sometimes perception unfortunately is reality. I hate to say that.
HILL: That's what I'm worried about.
FRITZ: You're referring to the guys that are all drinking beer, rooting these guys to knock each other's heads off, right?
FRITZ: And now they have a problem with how he responded, the fact that he was that passionate and his emotions took over.
HILL: And they have a problem when certain people do it. You know, Jayson Williams, the white one, they used to call him white chocolate. Larry Bird talked more trash than perhaps anybody in NBA history in his era.
LEMON: John McEnroe, he used to talk smack right to all the refs right there alive on camera in every match.
Thank you very much, guys. Appreciate it.
FRITZ: Appreciate it. Thank you for having me on.
LEMON: All right. I want to tell you that Sherman is speaking with Rachel Nichols tonight. And you can hear part of her interview tonight on "PIERS MORGAN LIVE," 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
Make sure you tune in.
Still to come, an influential leader of the NAACP compares Senator Tim Scott, the only black Republican in the Senate, to a ventriloquist's dummy. Reverend William Barber is here to defend that statement.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: Tonight, an influential leader of the NAACP is comparing Senator Tim Scott, the lone black Republican in the Senate, to a ventriloquist's dummy.
Reverend William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP slammed Scott, saying, quote, "The extreme right wing down here finds a black guy to be senator and claims he is the first black senator since Reconstruction, and then he goes to Washington, D.C., and articulates the agenda of the Tea Party."
Reverend Barber joins me now by phone.
Niger Innis also joins me. He is a national spokesman for the Congress of Racial Equality and we should also mention that he is running for Congress.
Thank you, gentlemen.
Reverend Barber, Senator Scott dismissed your comments saying, quote, "to reflect seriously on the comments, a person, a pastor that is filled with baseless and meaningless rhetoric would be to do a disservice to the very people who have sacrificed so much and paved a way. Reverend barber will remind me and others of what not to do."
What's your response to that, Reverend?
REV. WILLIAM BARBER, NORTH CAROLINA NAACP (via telephone): The fact of the matter is in South Carolina where 250,000 people r going to be denied Medicaid, where we have the corridor of shame in education, where we have attempts to oppress the vote we should not have elected leader who are articulating and echoing the positions of the far right and the extreme.
The fact of the matter is that Senator Scott has applauded the decision of the Supreme Court to on -- on unpack and undue Voting Rights Acts, Section 5 and 4 the formula. Has even proposed taking kids off of food stamps and other programs and has not spoken out clearly against the attempts that will undermine people's right to health care.
LEMON: I want Mr. Innis to get in. What's your reaction to this, Mr. Innis?
NIGER INNIS, CONGRESS OF RACIAL EQUALITY: I'm offended. I'm deeply offended. And I believe that the statements that were uttered by Reverend Barber were beneath him, beneath his ministry and beneath the fine tradition of the NAACP.
Who the heck do you think you are, Reverend Barber, to say how someone should be thinking?
Actually, it is the very racists that your organization and my organization fought that felt that they could take away the right of our brethren to vote, to exercise their freedom of thought. That's the same type of freedom of thought that you would take away from Senator Scott because he disagrees with you. LEMON: What's wrong with African-Americans being conservative? Why can't he be conservative and not be called names?
BARBER: Right. Well, the issue is not so much being conservative. The issue is the character of the policies and how they impact people.
The fact is, in our movement that we built, 16 percent of the people are Republican but they don't agree with extremism. They don't agree with policies that go after voting rights, the policies that undermine education, and policies that undermine health care for all people.
That's not about liberal. That's not about conservative. It's about what's right and what's wrong. It's about what's moral and immoral. It's about what's constitutional or unconstitutional.
Sure, there is to be a broadness of thought. But our ultimate public policy's focus should be how we treat the least of these
LEMON: I get your point about the policies.
BARBER: Yes, sir. Right.
LEMON: But that is not an excuse to call people names. Why would you call someone -- if you -- you're essentially calling him a ventriloquist dummy, you're calling him a dummy, and you're basically saying that he can't articulate for himself, that he can't think for himself, someone -- he is mouthing someone else's words.
He could say the same about you.
BARBER: Well, the question -- the question you would -- I think you're legitimate when you raise it. Who are you speaking for when you seek to deny people --
INNIS: He's speaking for the people of South Carolina.
BARBER: -- when you applaud the voting rights --
INNIS: With whom he represents.
BARBER: -- (INAUDIBLE), who are you speaking for when you do not stand up and deal with the issue of the poverty and education in your state? Who are you speaking for?
INNIS: Reverend Barber, have you critiqued this administration that has been in power for five years, while income inequality has increased, while our people and your church, people that you say that you are a leader of, have lost wealth? Have you critiqued this administration, or is your critique only reserved for conservative Republicans?
BARBER: You have asked me a question. That's a good one.
So, you are right. In a sense, we should all be critiquing the attention of violence. We should be standing up against anybody who tries to undermine voting rights.
INNIS: We have a point of an agreement.
BARBER: That is in fact something we should be doing.
LEMON: Reverend and Mr. Innis, thank you --
INNIS: Your critique should be bipartisan.
LEMON: That's going to have to be it. I thank you both of you. I appreciate you joining us here on CNN. Thanks.
INNIS: Thank you.
BARBER: God bless you. Thank you so much. Thank you, Niger.
LEMON: As part of our special look at kids in crisis, the story of 4- year-old Myls Dobson has struck with all of us. Tonight, a funeral is being held here in New York for the 4-year-old who was found dead early this month after police say he suffered horrific abuse at the hands of his caretaker. His death, as we are now learning, the result of a system and family that time and time again failed to care for that little boy.
Margaret Conley is OUTFRONT with more.
MARGARET CONLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Four-year-old Myls Dobson was found starved beaten and burned on the bathroom floor of a luxury high rise apartment in New York City. He died in part because a system designed to protect neglected kids like him had failed time and again.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered a review of Dobson's case, and called for changes in hopes something like this never happens again.
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK CITY: It is very, very painful to know that this child went through such agony. And that a child was lost that we believe there were more than one opportunity to save. And we want to, going forward, learn from this tragedy and make changes as a result.
CONLEY: For most of his life, Dobson was moved from one caretaker to another. His mother, Ashley Dobson, lost custody of her son in 2011 for failing to care for him. She says she lost custody for financial reasons.
Dobson was placed with his father, Okie Wade. Wade has an extensive criminal record.
Over the period of a year, children's services visited Dobson's home nine times. But never discovered Wade was in jail during each of those visits. GLADYS CARRION, ADMINISTRATION FOR CHILDREN'S SERVICES: Every time we went to visit our workers went, we were told that the father was working, and was working very long hours, 16 hours a day, and that's why he wasn't available. Should we have done something differently? Yes, we should have.
CONLEY: Last month, police say Wade left his son in the care of 27- year-old Chrissy King (ph). Wade was arrested a few days later for bank fraud. He pleaded guilty and remains in jail.
According to a criminal report, the final weeks of Dobson's short life were filled with acts of neglect and violence at the hands of caretaker King. The criminal complaint says he suffered burns on his face, head and body, and bruises consistent with being restrained.
King is charged with first degree assault and unlawful imprisonment and is being investigated on suspicion of murder.
King's attorney says his client is to be presumed innocent.
Myls Dobson will be laid to rest in a family plot in his native South Carolina.
Margaret Conley, CNN, New York.
LEMON: Thank you, Margaret.
Still to come here on CNN, a speed skater gives new meaning to the term "sore loser".
Jeanne Moos introduces us to the world's angriest athlete, next.
LEMON: We've all seen sore losers in the past. But one Dutch speed skater has taken unsportsmanlike behavior to a whole new level.
Tonight, CNN's Jeanne Moos introduces us to the world's first finger skater.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): How not to lose a race. Meet the finger skater.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's disgraceful.
MOOS: He's a Dutch skater whose team lost a championship relay race to the Russians.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's pretty sad.
MOOS: That's the Russian in blue, making the we're number one gesture, while Dutch skater, Sjinkie Knegt, makes a double barrel single finger salute.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's ripping him off. That's something I would do.
MOOS (on camera): You would?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
MOOS (voice-over): And as if that weren't enough, first the upraised middle fingers. Then a pretend kick.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very unsportsmanlike. You know, I'm a sportsman. I wouldn't do that. I would shake the man's hand, say congratulations and say who I hope you do very well, you know?
MOOS (on camera): You would be shaking his finger.
(voice-over): And here we thought the Dutch tradition was for a little boy to stick his finger in a dike to stop the leak. Not raise two fingers at a competitor. Is he sorry?
SJINKIE KNEGT, DUTCH SPEED SKATER (through translator): Of course, I regret it. It happens out of emotion and not actually conviction. It just sucks.
MOOS: Skating officials disqualified Knegt for his behavior, but that won't prevent him from facing his Russian rival next at the Olympics in Sochi. Netherlands broadcasting played old video of the skater, saying he has a history of losing his temper.
Knegt had at least one New York defender.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the spirit of competition. I can understand the guy throwing the finger.
MOOS: This guy has thrown fingers of his own.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A cab was trying to cut me off.
MOOS: Some are making comparisons. Sports grid joked, Sjinkie Knegt is Dutch for Richard Sherman.
RICHARD SHERMAN, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: Don't you ever talk about me!
MOOS: Sore winners, sore losers.
(on camera): When is the last time you flipped someone off. For what?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It might be you, because you keep me here in the snow.
MOOS (voice-over): Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
LEMON: I have to say, that's my favorite gesture.
I'm Don Lemon. Thanks for watching.
"AC360" starts right now.