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@THISHOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Hollande Goes Solo to State Dinner; Power Outages Sweep Southeast; Clarence Thomas: Americans Too Race Sensitive; New Late- Night Wars Raging; Wire Fox Terrier Wins Westminster Dog Show

Aired February 12, 2014 - 11:30   ET

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


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: You might have heard that the White House threw kind of a big party. But the guest of honor came alone.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, 350 guests attended last night's state dinner in honor of the French president, Francois Hollande. But Mr. Hollande did not bring a date, because you know, he's on the rebound.

PEREIRA: He just broke up with his long-time lover -- partner, over allegations that he has been having an affair with a younger French actress.

BERMAN: People in France are sort of shrugging off this whole thing, because, you know, they're French. But in the U.S., it's a different story.

PEREIRA: Joining us from Los Angeles is entertainment journalist Robin Leach. You know and love him from "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous."

What a pleasure to speak with you. And he's in a sunny West Coat. Robin, let's talk about this. You know, there's this whole conversation about maybe we're prudish, we Americans, that we're a little more uptight about this kind of thing, and the French are much more -- how do you say? -- laissez-faire.

BERMAN: I think you say it "laissez-faire."

PEREIRA: Is it true?

ROBIN LEACH, ENTERTAINMENT JOURNALIST: You pronounced it perfectly, by the way. And yes, nobody in -- nobody in Europe or even Canada, you remember the scandal with Pierre Trudeau. Nobody pays attention to this kind of thing. Although, my only question is, how does he find the time to do this when he's supposed to be running one of the largest countries in Europe?

BERMAN: My only question is, you know, forgive me, but Francois Hollande, he's got, you know, the girlfriend after girlfriend after girlfriend.

PEREIRA: Right.

BERMAN: Have you seen him? I don't understand that. It's a disconnect there.

There's a poll here, Robin. It says it all. In France, just 47 percent of people say that affairs are morally unacceptable. In the U.S., that number is 84 percent. Now we brought you in. We know you're not French, but you're international. You're an international man of intrigue and mystery. As you travel the world, what do people think about Americans' view of morality?

LEACH: I think that in Europe, they regard Americans as parochial and uptight about the affairs of the heart and the affairs of the body. Sex in the United States for long -- forever has been, you know, sort of cloaked in mystery, whereas topless beaches and wild behavior in Europe is sort of commonplace.

You have to remember, as well, in France it's the leading country in the world for cohabitation without marriage. I think there was a recent poll a couple of weeks ago that said there were more than 60 percent of couples living together in France were not married. I don't know whether that's because of economic tax reasons, because you know France is a heavily taxed country. And so the only thing they can do, other than paying taxes, is to have affairs.

BERMAN: They can eat food.

PEREIRA: Drink a nice wine. So I'm thinking about the state dinner. I'm thinking about the inside the room, if we could be -- could have been a fly on the wall. So he arrives. Hollande arrives solo, sits next to the president and the first lady. He's there stag. Do you think it's more uncomfortable for him or more uncomfortable for the Americans that are not used to this kind of protocol? Because this is a change in protocol.

LEACH: I don't think really anybody really cares about this except our media mobs. You know, he was the man in the middle last night. I have no doubt that the protocol department at the White House went into the ultimate tizzy about what they'd do with a single guy. I'd be more concerned about his height, because he was towered over by the president and the first lady.

The thing I was interested in more out of last night was the number of single ladies that happened to be in the White House.

PEREIRA: They just happened to be there.

LEACH: I think -- I think President Obama was playing Valentine and trying to fix him up.

PEREIRA: Thank you.

LEACH: You had Julia Louis-Dreyfus was there, Mary J. Blige.

PEREIRA: She's married. Yes, she is married. That's true.

LEACH: Well, it wouldn't matter to Francois Hollande.

BERMAN: That doesn't matter in France. Robin Leach, it's great to have you on. Please come back and visit us at this hour any time. We really appreciate you having -- having you here.

I do want to say, though, the American view has changed a little bit. We keep electing politicians -- Mark Sanford, who acknowledged he had an affair.

PEREIRA: Are we going to make a whole list?

BERMAN: Bill Clinton -- Bill Clinton, you know, one of the most popular politicians in America, of course, something went on there.

PEREIRA: And it's not just politicians.

BERMAN: No.

PEREIRA: I mean, men in positions of power have been known to do this in America. We'll just leave it at that. OK, we'll leave it at that.

BERMAN: There is some big news affecting a huge swath of the country right now. The power outages climbing throughout the South as this historic -- we've been calling it catastrophic -- ice storm hits the regions. Tens of thousands of people, they have no power -- 143,000 as of this moment -- because of ice-covered trees and limbs that are knocking down these power lines.

PEREIRA: Imagine that as you're sitting at home, if you're not in one of the areas affected. That's awful. It's brutally cold outside and then your power goes out. So you're in the dark and cold.

The good news is very few people are actually trying to get out on these icy roads, unlike last time when the snowstorm hit the South.

George Howell is one that is hitting the road. And I'm glad to know that he's not in front of the wheel. He's on a highway in Atlanta. How is it looking out there? What are conditions like right there? Are you even seeing some sun?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. You know, Michaela, right now we are driving, really, on a bed of slush. We've seen sleet come in overnight and through the morning.

William, if we could switch over and show the camera here. Driving here on Langford over to 285 right along the perimeter. And what you're seeing right now, no one on the roads. That is great news. Think about what we saw two weeks ago, you know, when so many people got caught by surprise when the storm came in during the rush hour.

This time, the storm came in overnight. There was a lot of preparation, and people were told to stay off the roads. That's what they're doing.

And again, so what we're on the hunt for right now, we're going through one of these areas where the power is out, looking to see if we can find power crews doing their job. Keep in mind: so many people are coming from so many different states to basically help restore power. Many of these power lines just weren't prepared for -- many of the trees were not prepared for all of the ice, all of the snow that will accumulate over the next several days. So you know, the big concern right now again, guys, is the power being out and more snow, more sleet coming.

BERMAN: All right. George Howell for us on the roads down South. Be careful there, George. I appreciate it.

PEREIRA: Watch yourself (ph).

He is the only -- is only, rather, the second black justice ever to serve on the Supreme Court. Now Clarence Thomas raising all sorts of eyebrows with some of his latest comments about race in America.

BERMAN: Right. Thomas said this yesterday at Palm Beach Atlantic University. He said, "My sadness is that we are probably today more race- and difference-conscious than it was in the 1960s when I went to school. Rarely did the issue of race come up. Now name a day it doesn't come up. Differences in race, differences in sex, somebody doesn't look at you right, somebody says something. Everybody is sensitive. If I had been as sensitive as that in the 1960s, I'd still be in Savannah."

PEREIRA: Joining us now, CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and political commentator Marc Lamont Hill, two gentlemen that I think will have a lot of things to say about the topic.

Jeffrey, let's start with you, because we know that you have written extensively in your book, "The Oath," about these -- the justices and you have a better sense of these people than anybody else. Give a sense of where you think he might be coming from and if -- it clearly is in line with how he's felt before.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: This is very consistent with how he's expressed himself about race throughout his entire career, which is that race is something to be overcome by individual initiatives. That any problems you might have can be overcome by hard work and not collective action.

I mean, what's so remarkable about this statement, of course, is that it neglects the fact that, you know, in the mid-60s when he was a kid, you could get killed if you were a black person for speaking about race. So that might be one reason people didn't talk about it a lot.

And also in the -- in that period, that was the time of Martin Luther King and Medgar Evers and John -- a lot of people were talking about race. So it isn't like people didn't talk about race in the -- John Lewis, that's the name I was thinking of -- was -- so the idea that race was not a factor in the '60s is pretty hard to grasp (ph).

BERMAN: Marc, talk about that. When you hear someone like Clarence Thomas, and let's -- you know, he is a justice of the Supreme Court. There are not many who've ever reached that status. He's a leader in this country. When you hear a black leader in this country speak like that, what's it mean to you? MARC LAMONT HILL, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's severely disturbing. I won't call it disappointing, because I didn't expect anything different from Justice Thomas. He's had a long history of walking through doors and closing them behind him.

He acknowledges no part that affirmative action, other things like that, played in his own life; yet he wants to close the door for others. He suggested race doesn't matter, that race shouldn't matter, should not be a factor in any decision-making processes. This simply ignores realities that race persist -- of race that persist today.

And seeing him as a Supreme Court justice, it's even more disturbing, because courts have the power to make decisions. And if they make the decisions based on premise of color blindness -- that is we don't see color; we don't acknowledge color; we pretend difference doesn't matter -- that's very disturbing. The goal of our nation shouldn't be to be post-racial; it should be to be post-racist.

So for him to even lament the fact that the country acknowledges difference, to me is problematic, because we should acknowledge difference. We should acknowledge race. It just shouldn't be a social demerit. And in the 1960s, the time that he's referring to, it was a social demerit. It's always been a social demerit, through Jim Crow, through slavery. And to pretend that people weren't talking about it, as Jeffrey said, is simply ahistorical.

PEREIRA: You know, it's so funny. I think about this. And it makes me crazy, because this is one of those instances where I have so many questions for him.

Jeffrey, I wonder, is this just -- we're all guilty of this on occasion -- a little revisionist history? You know, we tend to look back and say things were better back then. He knows, and the history books tell us, things were not good in 1966.

TOOBIN: But this is his -- this is his take.

PEREIRA: And he's allowed to have that.

TOOBIN: I mean, you know, and also, there is a historical divide in -- even within the African-American community. The tradition of Booker T. Washington, which is, you know, self-help; don't rely on the government; don't rely on anyone besides yourself, versus the broader tradition of W.E.B. DuBois, of you know, collective action, Martin Luther King. That, you know, the society, not just individuals, have to overcome these problems.

But you know, this is why Clarence Thomas is such a deeply unpopular figure within the black community, because his views are very much out of step with the broader black community.

BERMAN: He says almost nothing from the bench, yet off the bench saying a lot that has a lot of people right now talking. All right.

PEREIRA: It's not just upsetting. It's because so many people's realities are so very different from what he is -- is saying it is. So gentlemen, always a pleasure.

TOOBIN: All right.

PEREIRA: Jeffrey Toobin, Marc Lamont Hill, good to see you. Thanks for joining us @THISHOUR.

Ahead, late-night wars are intensifying. They're upping their game. They're stepping up their strategy, and it's intensifying now that Jay Leno has bowed out. We're going to look at the landscape, see how crowded it is, try to figure out who is in the pole position, if you will.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PEREIRA: A little breaking news at this hour. Senator Rand Paul is talking about a lawsuit that he's filing against the Obama administration. It is over NSA surveillance programs. The Kentucky Republican has been a long-time critic of the spy agency's mass collection of personal data, calling it unconstitutional, because it infringes on civil liberties.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: We think it may well be the largest class action lawsuit ever filed on behalf of the Bill of Rights. We've had 386,026 people show an interest in having their records protected. We believe that this lawsuit could conceivably represent hundreds of millions of people who have phone lines in this country or cell phones.

We think this is an important first step. We don't do this out of disrespect to anyone. We do this out of respect to the Constitution and out of the belief that these decisions cannot be made in secret by a secret court, but they need to be made in open by the Supreme Court.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PEREIRA: CNN will have much more about this during the course of the day.

On to a bit of a war that's brewing in late-night television. Five days from now, Jimmy Fallon is going to take over as NBC's TONIGHT SHOW host after Jay Leno's really emotional farewell last week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY LENO, FORMER HOST, NBC'S "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": I want to thank you, the audience. You folks have been just incredibly loyal. This is tricky. We wouldn't be on the air without you people. Secondly, this has been the greatest 22 years of my life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: That was a great moment, but now, on to the future. We've got some big news this week. Seth Myers is taking over the "Late Night" franchise at NBC. He announced that his former "SNL" colleague, Fred Armisen...

PEREIRA: Big band.

BERMAN: He's going to be the band leader. He's going to run the band there. That's Seth Myers. There's Jimmy Fallon. There's Jimmy Kimmel, and of course, there's everything going on on cable.

PEREIRA: "Chelsea Lately," "Conan."

BERMAN: "Chelsea Lately."

PEREIRA: Oh, my goodness. It's a busy, busy hour of the night. So let's bring in our senior media correspondent, Brian Stelter, host of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES."

I guess first, Brian, talk me through next week. Jimmy Fallon is the news right now. The new "Tonight Show," what are we going to see?

BRIAN STELTER, HOST, CNN'S "RELIABLE SOURCES": We're going to see Michelle Obama. We're going to see Justin Timberlake. He's got this great line-up for the first week.

And he's moving the show to New York. You know, "The Tonight Show" has been in Los Angeles for decades. He's bringing it back to New York, which I think will be special for people in this city.

But you know, Leno was No. 1 for so many years. He was dominant. And I don't think Fallon, at least as first, will be able to be as dominant as that.

PEREIRA: We talked a lot about how the whole TV landscape is changing because of these devices that we're watching things on: smart TVs, Netflix, et cetera, et cetera. Is it what it used to be? Is the game what it used to be? And is the field too crowded now?

STELTER: It is very crowded. It's not too crowded, because viewers have all these shows that they get to choose from. In fact, it's never been better to be a TV viewer at home.

But there will be no one dominant guy like Jay Leno in the future. I think Kimmel will fight for audience. I think Letterman will fight for his audience. Jon Stewart, of course, will fight for his audience. And Leno will come back at some other channel at some other point, and I'm sure he'll compete with all of these guys, too, which will make it even more interesting.

But what's really important is we're able to watch the clips the next morning online.

PEREIRA: Sure.

STELTER: I mean, you guys aren't staying up for the late-night shows, are you?

PEREIRA: We are, though.

BERMAN: I'm actually awake for the next day already by the time the late-night shows are on.

STELTER: Fallon is the next-generation comic who is made for YouTube. And that's one of the reasons why NBC is installing him.

BERMAN: Let's talk about the next generation right now. For at least another few minutes, we're in the sort of young-ish...

PEREIRA: Minutes? I thought I had at least a week.

BERMAN: Young-ish demo. You have Jimmy Kimmel now and Jimmy Fallon. You have two younger guys in that 11:30 time slot.

STELTER: Yes, yes.

BERMAN: Are they going to split the young people out there?

STELTER: I think they may. Did you see what "Sports Illustrated" announced this week? They always do a big reveal for the swimsuit cover on David Letterman's show. Well, this year, they're going over to Jimmy Kimmel's show, and tomorrow they're going to reveal it on Kimmel's show instead.

It just goes to show you that celebrities and brands are going to have lots of shows to choose from. And I do think they will aim for Fallon and Kimmel, in some cases, if they're aiming for a younger demo.

But Jon Stewart is -- is really the key here. He's the guy that owns that younger, younger demo, 18- to 34-year-olds. And I think that's why Seth Myers is going to take some pages from Jon Stewart. "Late Night," you know, 1 in the morning, we're going to see Seth Myers maybe act a little bit like Jon Stewart and kind of take some pages from both "The Daily Show" as well as from his old "Weekend Update."

BERMAN: It's interesting.

PEREIRA: Right.

BERMAN: Of course, the younger demo loves @THISHOUR also, so far from what we see.

PEREIRA: No. 1 in America.

BERMAN: Right.

STELTER: It's a great time to be a TV viewer. There's so much to watch.

BERMAN: Right. Great to see you. Thanks so much.

PEREIRA: We should point out that, if you're a fan of the late-night laughs, obviously, Piers Morgan has quite a great guest...

BERMAN: Yes.

PEREIRA: ... Arsenio Hall. As Jay exits, stage left, and Jimmy gets ready for the battle of late-night TV. All coming up 9 p.m. Eastern here on CNN. Tune in.

BERMAN: Arsenio has been through this once already and now through it again.

PEREIRA: I love Arsenio.

BERMAN: It would be very interesting to get his perspective.

PEREIRA: Absolutely.

BERMAN: All right. Ahead at this hour, Westminster. The shame, the shame of the dog show. This was the winner. A terrier again.

PEREIRA: She's beautiful.

BERMAN: Why were Labs robbed? Why this injustice?

PEREIRA: This guy is gorgeous.

BERMAN: We'll have that ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: All right. Welcome back, everyone. Time now for cable outrage. And I'm talking about you, Westminster Dog Show.

PEREIRA: OK, Berman is an objective journalist. I'm kidding. Except when it comes to Labs. They were all skunked, he says, at the biggest of dog shows by one foxy little beast named Sky.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Best in Show this evening is the wire fox terrier.

PEREIRA (voice-over): Thousands of chomp-petitors from nearly 100 breeds were primped, preened and paraded on the iconic green carpet at the Westminster Kennel Club's 138th annual dog show in New York City. But in the end, only one ferocious victor nabbed the highly coveted title of Best in Show at America's most famous pooch pageant.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a look at our Best in Show for 2014, Sky.

PEREIRA: Crowd favorite and veteran show dog, Sky, a female wire fox terrier, deemed worthy of the show's prestigious top award. Terriers have taken 46 of the 105 Best in Show ribbons of the nation's doggie Super Bowl, most recently in 2010.

Veteran judge Betty Regina Leininger handed out the honor, draped in distinct Westminster purple.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's overwhelming. So proud of her. And I can't say -- I mean, there's no words to describe this.

PEREIRA: Sky, the best of the terrier group, beat out canine contenders in the other six categories, including Ally, a standard poodle named runner up in what would be her retirement show.

While some wear their hearts on their sleeve, others on their cummerbund, in the end, it was this terrier who stole the judges' heart. The champions don't win a cash prize. Best in Show dogs are awarded a ribbon and a pup-size silver-plated bowl, perfect for holding a celebratory steak dinner.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: All right. So that's the terrier. You know, 46 terriers have won at Westminster. Zero Labs. I want to know what you think about this, especially if you agree with me. And really, you're compelled to agree with me. So tweet us at our new Twitter handle. It is @ThisHour.

PEREIRA: There are retriever and Lab associations around America that are getting on Twitter right now.

BERMAN: Yes, but there are terrier people who are, like, burning up my phone line.

PEREIRA: Yes, I didn't want you to leave it at that (ph).

Anyway, time for our final thought at this hour. We're kind of rethinking what Luke Skywalker said about his dad in "Return of the Jedi."

BERMAN: All right. So here is the situation. This happened in Hollywood. It was on the street there. A guy breaks into a police car. We have some video of this. I want you to see this.

PEREIRA: Broad daylight.

BERMAN: So this is in broad daylight, right? A guy walks over, smashes the window of a police car, he pulls out some stuff inside. This is a robbery in broad daylight.

But look -- look who's on the screen there. It's Darth Vader, and he's armed. He's got a light saber. Luke said there's still good in him. If there's still good in him, would not he step in and try to help here? He does nothing.

By the way, Superman was there, too. You can see him right there. Superman did not help at all either.

PEREIRA: Well, he's sort of lackadaisical there.

BERMAN: Luckily, there was an arrest made. The guy is being held on $20,000 bond. He's being held for felony vandalism and burglary from a motor vehicle. No thanks to Darth Vader or Superman.

PEREIRA: Susan Lucci's star was unharmed in the filming of that crime.

BERMAN: Yes, Susan Lucci came out looking great in this. Not so much Darth Vader and Superman. PEREIRA: That's it for us at this hour. So glad you could join us for our third show.

BERMAN: "LEGAL VIEW" with Ashleigh Banfield starts right after this.

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