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@THISHOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

NFL May Impose Penalties for Slurs; Is U.S. Fighting New Cold War with Russia?; Man Wanted for Running Over Elderly Man; Struggles with Dr. Drew's Daughter.

Aired February 24, 2014 - 11:30   ET

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


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: What did they say about that?

L.Z. GRANDERSON, CNN COMMENTATOR & ESPN COLUMNIST: What do they say about the Seattle home team, right? What do they say about the fans there? We talked about the decibel level and how difficult it was to hear. Can you imagine trying to hear a player in the middle of a scrum that said the "N" word when the players are cheering? It will be difficult to enforce, between the speed, the number of people on the field, and the crowd, the crowd size and noise, it will be difficult to determine who said what and difficult to enforce.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: It does seem like a "he said, she said and then another person said."

Cyd, it was interesting listening to you talk about these are the roles that you put in place in high school. I though, that's high school. These are grown men. The NFL is trying to do what it can to clean up its image. Is this the way to start? We all agree this is something they shouldn't be doing but is this the place to start?

CYD ZEIGLER, CO-FOUNDER, OUTSPORTS.COM: First of all, yes, there is no wrong place to start to remove hateful language. As far as the enforce ability, the argument, I don't buy it. I have officiated games with 10,000 people in a stadium, screaming, cities, championships. It is very loud. You can hear what people say. There are plenty of officials. Officials don't catch every call.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

ZEIGLER: There is a holding call almost every single play. You call what you see and what you hear. If you don't hear it or know who said it, you don't call it.

(CROSSTALK)

ZEIGLER: This idea, oh, because it is so hard and unenforceable because you can't lose it is ludicrous.

(CROSSTALK)

PEREIRA: I am not even a football widow. I am, actually. Because I lose the love of my life every Sunday during football season. BERMAN: As it should be.

PEREIRA: Is it too much to ask of the refs? Isn't it something the coach should be setting the tone?

BERMAN: They miss so many calls anyway, what's a few more missed calls if they don't get it? No.

(LAUGHTER)

But it does get to the question, you know, is what's on the field the real issue here? Does it get to the issue in the locker room and at practice where a lot of this stuff is happening? Look what happened to the Dolphins.

PEREIRA: Right, exactly. Incognito.

(CROSSTALK)

GRANDERSON: Rich Incognito as well as Rodney Cooper during the summer was the fact that these were white players that uttered the "N" word. That brought the wrath of the public on to the NFL. The nuance is that you have African-American players predominantly the ones saying this word. You have a cultural nuance in addition to the fact that it is going to be difficult to enforce. That's the reason why I think it is a worthwhile effort but there are going to be some difficulties.

If you want to change the image of the NFL, you deal more aggressively with the players who get DUIs and those accused of domestic violence. We have video of a player dragging a woman's limp body out of an elevator. Do something about that. That's a lot easier to enforce than somebody using the N" word on the field during a game.

PEREIRA: Cyd, L.Z., thanks for joining us.

GRANDERSON: Thank you.

ZEIGLER: Thank you.

BERMAN: Ahead for us @ THE HOUR, is the U.S. fighting a new Cold War with Russia? How dangerous is it? Ukraine and Syria bringing up old wounds. How much should the U.S. be getting involved?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PEREIRA: Beginning to look a lot like a Cold War standoff. Ukrainian officials issued an arrest warrant for Victor Yanukovych, someone Russia has been backing for months, despite months of protests. Over the weekend, Yanukovych cleared out the massive presidential complex and essentially disappeared.

BERMAN: Now, all eyes are on Vladimir Putin. What will the Russian leader do now with his close ally on the run? Will he use the Russian military to suppress Ukrainians who threw him out of office? How far is the White House willing to go to keep President Putin in check? President Obama says he rejects that the West is engaged in a Cold War game of chess. Senator John McCain says the president is naive for that kind of thinking.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our approach, as the United States, is not to see these as some Cold War chest board in which we are in competition with Russia. Our goal is to make sure that the people of Ukraine are able to make decisions for themselves about their future?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R), ARIZONA: The president said that this had nothing to do with the Cold War, the issues of a situation in the Ukraine. In the eyes of Vladimir Putin, it does. He wants to restore the Russian empire.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Joining us now, CNN political commentator Will Cain; and "News Day" columnist, Ellis Henican.

Will, let me ask you, Vladimir Putin has had quite a year, the Olympics, he dictated the policy to a certain extent in Syria. But this seems like a defeat for him. A close ally is on the run. How do you think he'll react to this? And how scared should the U.S. be about how he reacts?

WILL CAIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Certainly, this is a defeat for him. May I respond to the president of the United States? The president seems to think if he says it so, it will be so. We have been involved in an emerging Cold War with Russia for several years, from Georgia to Syria to Ukraine. When Mitt Romney ran for president and he said that Russia was our number-one geopolitical threat, he was scoffed at, he was snarked at, by the president of the United States and people like Rachel Maddow. No one goes back to correct the record. Was Mitt Romney correct? Are they the number-one geopolitical threat? Clearly, they are. What should we do about it, John? We have to ask ourselves a difficult question: Does the United States have a national security interest in the Ukraine? I'm not sure we do.

PEREIRA: The president's national security advisor, Susan Rice, told NBC's "Meet the Press," the U.S. is not wanting to see the country split apart. We have some sound. Let's listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUSAN RICE, PRESIDENTIAL NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: It is not in the interest of Ukraine or Russia or Europe or the United States to see the country split. It is in nobody's interest to see violence return and the situation escalate. There is not an inherent contradiction, David, between a Ukraine that has long-standing historic and cultural ties to Russia and a modern Ukraine that wants to integrate more closely with Europe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PEREIRA: Ellis, she goes on to say, "It is not in our interest to turn a Cold War construct, which is long out of date and doesn't reflect the reality of the 21st century." What do you say to that?

ELLIS HENICAN, NEWS DAY COLUMNIST: Here's the reality. The people of the Ukraine are doing great. They have this rat on the run. We like that. They are actually making the Soviet's delay. You know Putin is itching to act. He wants to rebuild some kind of Soviet glory. Sochi didn't go as well as he had hoped. We have to find that kind of middle ground, Will, between the muscularity that John McCain wants and this "don't do anything." We have to walk down, push our allies and try to create some support.

CAIN: Let me read you something in the "don't do nothing" camp. Because Ron Paul -- he gave us a history lesson with Mitt Romney.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Let me bring up another former presidential candidate, Ron Paul. He was speaking out about this. He does not think the U.S. should be involved at all in the Ukraine.

Let me read you a quote here: "If you asked most Americans how they feel, my bet is that you would discover, they are sick and tired of the U.S. government getting involved in every crisis that arises. Certainly, the American people want none of this intervention in Ukraine."

You come down on that side?

CAIN: I tend to agree with Ron Paul on this. Your first question to me was to me, what will Vladimir Putin do? We need to understand, in this historical lesson, if Vladimir Putin -- Ukraine is critically important to Russia. It's provides a geopolitical boundary, a captive market for their products. Vladimir Putin needs the Ukraine. We do not. Our only national interest is to stand on the side of Western values or push back in this geopolitical game. We have to ask ourselves, is that worth the cost?

BERMAN: Can I ask a basic contradiction of what you are saying?

CAIN: Sure.

BERMAN: You were saying everyone ignored the fact when Mitt Romney called Russia the greatest strategic threat but, on the other hand, you are saying the United States should do nothing.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: Marry those two thoughts.

CAIN: I will. I will. I appreciate your attempt to catch me in a contradiction. However, what I'm suggesting is this. You, first, must recognize reality. That's what President Obama is denying to do. Now, whether or not that is in Syria, Ukraine or Georgia, you can't pretend the world exists the way you want it. You have to understand the way it is working in reality.

Second, you have to deal with that reality. It doesn't demand action. The Ukraine or Syria does not demand action. It doesn't mean you get to pretend the world is a different way than it is.

HENICAN: Nobody is for that. Let's look at the reality. You have the Russians trying to make these aggressive moves, the people of the Ukraine doing exactly what we admire, the things we did that formed our country. The answer isn't some slogan. It isn't total isolationism. It isn't invasion.

PEREIRA: So what is the answer?

CAIN: What is it?

HENICAN: It is a job for grown-ups to build international coalitions --

CAIN: But what is it?

HENICAN: -- to put pressure on and use the U.N. and encourage the democratic forces there.

CAIN: Let me translate that.

HENICAN: This is not a day for slogans, Will.

CAIN: I will translate -- I will translate those slogans.

HENICAN: No slogans. Stop the slogans.

CAIN: The translation is, it gives them money. That's the alternative. Give them money --

(CROSSTALK)

CAIN: -- the IMF. I would tell you is, fine, show us our national security interest.

PEREIRA: Do you guys ever agree on anything?

CAIN: Sometimes. Sometimes.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

PEREIRA: That's going to be my goal is to find things the two of you can find common ground on.

Love having you here, Ellis, Will.

CAIN: Thank you. HENICAN: Thanks.

PEREIRA: Always a pleasure. Thanks so much.

BERMAN: Where are we going next? Police in Las Vegas are searching for the driver that ran down an elderly man in an apparent act of road rage. This is caught on surveillance footage. Now, the driver is wanted for attempted murder.

Rosa Flores has our story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The video is shocking. Las Vegas police are calling this case of road rage attempted murder. Watch as an elderly man walked through a Vegas service station to pay for his gas and, moments later, he is run down by another motorist. Take a closer look at the driver pauses just inches away from the man's knees and then floors it, running him over, leaving him writhing in pain.

Police have turned to YouTube asking for the public's help finding the driver of this gray Honda Accord.

LOU PALUMBO, ELITE INTELLIGENCE AND PROTECTION AGENCY: The YouTube component is rearing its head more and more.

FLORES: YouTube video led to several arrests following this frightening ordeal on New York's Westside Highway last fall. The driver of this SUV was surrounded by a group of bikers after bumping one of their tires. He ran over three of them trying to get away, critically injury one. After being chased and cornered, the driver was dragged out of his car and beaten.

This enraged motorist, a U.S. Marine, went ballistic, caught on tape screaming profanities at another driver outside of Camp Pendleton in California.

PALUMBO: There are these incidents more and more frequently being captured on camera. Your loss of patience and your aggression could translate to your arrest.

FLORES: Rosa Flores, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PEREIRA: It's so aggressive. Luckily, they have that footage and a lot of witnesses. Hopefully, they will be able to get an identity.

BERMAN: There is never a fight that should end that way.

PEREIRA: Ever.

BERMAN: I don't care what they were discussing, what they were fighting about.

PEREIRA: My goodness.

Let's take a short break, shall we?

BERMAN: Ahead @ THE HOUR, Dr. Drew has helped celebrities with all kinds of struggles. His own daughter is talking about her long battle with eating disorders. The question is, was this going on inside that family? Did people notice?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: There is another winter storm on the horizon, more arctic air coming in.

PEREIRA: We just had nice weather for a nanosecond. Temperatures are expected to plunge from the Midwest all the way to the northeast. Yeah, we've told you this before.

BERMAN: So h ere is what folks in parts of Washington State are dealing with. They got a foot of snow in a 24-hour period over the weekend. It is supposed to hit 40 degrees there today. It is all going to melt. There could be some flooding. At least there will be a warm-up.

PEREIRA: But it also means maybe some winter resorts are getting snow in the mountains for skiers and snowboarders, which is something they certainly need.

BERMAN: You do need snow if you want to ski.

New data on the physical and emotional health of Americans across the country. A Gallup study finds that high unemployment, mainly in the south, is resulting in poor access to basic necessities such as health, food, clean water, education and medicine.

PEREIRA: The study looked at 176,000 people from all 50 states to determine the most miserable states in the nation. Are you ready to see the list? Here is the most miserable list: Ohio, Alabama, Mississippi, followed by Kentucky. And the number one, West Virginia, remains at the bottom of the well-being list or number one on the misery list, depending on how you look at it, for the fifth straight year.

BERMAN: This is no joke. Basic human needs and things people want to live. It talks about quality of life.

PEREIRA: You add to it, West Virginia has been dealing with contaminated water. You can't wash, bathe of drink it. Things are tough there right now, to be sure. Hopefully, things get better and we can reverse that trend.

BERMAN: Absolutely.

PEREIRA: We want to talk about something that has come to light today over the weekend. Addiction specialist, Dr. Drew Pinsky -- we know him well, part of our family at Turner and CNN. He spent his career dealing with celebrities' addiction problems. This addiction hits very close to home. His own daughter, Paulina, has revealed to the public that she has battled an eating disorder for years.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAULINA PINSKY, DAUGHTER OF DR. DREW: Obviously, my father works in mental health. And so I knew what I needed to do to take care of myself. And it got to the point where I didn't want to live like that anymore. And I put myself in therapy. And I've been in therapy ever since. And I'm two years recovered. Talking about it has been really helpful in my recovery.

UNIDENTIFIED ANCHOR: Has it?

PINSKY: Yes. A lot of people have reached out, and talking about it gives me more clarity. And I'm comfortable talking about it. I'm not ashamed of it. And I think it's really important to talk about, because it's such a stigmatized issue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Dr. Drew issued a statement saying, quote, "We are so proud of Paulina and her outreach to help others, and particularly empower women. When she recognized she needed help, she sought treatment and actively engaged in the process, and now she is using her insights to help others."

Joining us now is CNN entertainment reporter, Nischelle Turner.

Nischelle, what strikes me, she grows up in a family with Dr. Drew. This just shows how difficult, even when you know there are these problems out there, even when you know addiction is an issue, even when you know the warning signs.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Even when you know you have a specialist in your own home that can help.

BERMAN: It can also happen.

TURNER: Yeah. You know, what I found so interesting about this, too, she was really revealing in this piece that she wrote, which, by the way, she wrote back in November, several months ago. And it's just now coming to light, because a publication picked it up. And published it. But she was saying that a lot of this stemmed from her relationship with her mother. And as -- yes. And the fact that she always felt this pressure from her mother to be perfect. And she was an ice skater. You know, she trained, so she had this thing. And I wrote this down. She said, "Thinness became my entire identity." And that was so kind of profound to me. Because, these days, I mean, so many of us are obsessed with thin. Myself included. About working out and trying to be thin, trying to, you know, look good. And I just thought it was really interesting, because she said she kind of blurted this out when they were just in the car one day and her mother was talking about how the people in her gym, the owners of her gym, and what they were doing. And she said, you know, I would rather be an overeater than an under eater. And her mother said no, and she said yes, and I've been for seven years, I've been throwing up since seventh grade. So interesting to me. PEREIRA: It's interesting. A lot of people say the most intimate conversations happen like that, in the car. When you're both facing forward, nobody is making eye contact. That sometimes these nuggets come out like that. It also points, Nischelle, made me realize when you were saying that, that it shows what a personal struggle and battle this is. And you see your parent -- doesn't matter if they're a police officer, the president of the United States, or an addiction specialist -- you don't see them as that. You see them first and foremost as mom or dad.

TURNER: Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, I think one of the real positives that has come out of this, and she was talking about, and that can teach other people, is the fact she said not only did she rebuild her life and self esteem and body image, she also rebuilt that relationship with her mother.

PEREIRA: Good for her.

TURNER: And they started from scratch. And now there's no judgment. There's just love. And I think that's really, really wonderful.

PEREIRA: And acceptance too.

TURNER: Exactly.

PEREIRA: We come in different shapes and sizes, ergo, the two ladies sitting beside you.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: Lord knows, I love the two ladies sitting beside me. Worked out very well for me.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Before I get too uncomfortable or start to sweat, change of subject. Can we talk about Alec Baldwin?

TURNER: Can we?

BERMAN: This man who wants no publicity, wants to shy away from the public spotlight, has written a very, very big public article that thrust him right in the middle of the public spotlight. In "New York" magazine, he writes this piece where he says he's threatening to leave New York because of all of the paparazzi, all of the public focus on him. He says, quote, "I just can't live in New York anymore. Everything I hated about L.A. I'm beginning to crave. I want my newest child to have a normal and decent a life as I can provide. New York doesn't seem the place for that anymore."

I found this interesting and perplexing all at the same time.

PEREIRA: Perplexing, is the word.

TURNER: Yeah, me too. You know, it's interesting, because the question is, does he have a point? Is the paparazzi way too overboard? I think he does have a point. But at the same time, I mean, Alec Baldwin has exhibited some pretty sketchy behavior in different times. And some people say he brings a lot of it on himself.

Now the question is, does Alec Baldwin really want to say goodbye to public life? I'm not sure I buy that. I'm not sure I buy that at all. Because number one, he is a brilliant actor. Number two, I think some part of him likes the limelight. I thought this was a really interesting piece, though, because he chronicled and laid out all of these incidents that we have been seeing lately. Whether what happened with his MSNBC talk show or --

PEREIRA: Almost everything that went wrong in his life he kind of highlighted. How do you think it's going to be received? Will people say, see, yeah, he is a mess? Or just give him another shot.

TURNER: To be honest, if I'm honest, when I read it, I felt like he was placing a lot of blame elsewhere, and not on himself. So I'm not sure how positively it will be received, because, you know, I didn't think he was taking a lot of ownership for things that happened.

PEREIRA: Look, if you want to read it, give yourself a minute.

(LAUGHTER)

Nischelle Turner, always a pleasure.

You're getting that bug.

TURNER: I know, you can hear it, right?

PEREIRA: You still look great.

To a story that I think will pique your interest. There are at least 250,000 words -- I counted them -- in the English language. Apparently, that still wasn't enough. At a spelling bee in Kansas City, what happened? 11-year-old Sophia Hoffman and 13-year-old Chris Sharma were the last two spellers. They went 66 rounds without a winner, to the point where organizers had to stop because they ran out of words.

BERMAN: How can you blow out of words?

PEREIRA: They blew through five hours of words, J.B. Organizers didn't want to pull anymore words from the dictionary, because they were concerned that one child might get a harder word than the other. It wouldn't be fair. So they just declared a tie. Don't worry. They'll meet again for a spell-off, March 8th, to decide another that will go on to the big national bee in D.C. Let's hope those folks in D.C. will have plenty of words.

BERMAN: They should both go. They exploded the spelling bee.

PEREIRA: They broke it. BERMAN: They broke the dictionary.

PEREIRA: They broke the dictionary.

(LAUGHTER)

That is it for us @ THE HOUR. Thank you so much for joining us.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)