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L.A. Clippers Owner in Hot Water for Racial Comments; Obama Visits Malaysia; Severe Weather Predicted for Southeast U.S.

Aired April 27, 2014 - 06:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But stay with us here at CNN. Our coverage continues after this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're looking at live pictures.

CHRISTI PAUL, CO-HOST: You're looking at live pictures of the Vatican. A million people plus expected there to be watching what you are seeing is an unprecedented situation, the canonization of two new popes, two new popes -- well, two former popes. Now we have two new saints in the world.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CO-HOST: While there are two popes living there present there at Vatican City. We're following this big story all throughout the hour, but first, we're going to start NEW DAY with this controversy in the NBA that's caught the attention of not only athletes and fans and people here across the country but President Obama.

He's in the middle of his week-long trip to Asia. Today he spoke out on the firestorm surrounding Donald Sterling, the owner of one of the league's south teams, the L.A. Clippers. Sterling is dominating headlines this morning. He's accused of making racist remarks.

PAUL: This conversation between Sterling and his girlfriend all recorded and apparently sparked by a photo of that girlfriend with Magic Johnson that she posted on Instagram.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I saw someone I admire. I admire Magic Johnson.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sorry. He's made a lot of changes for his community, for the world, for the people, for the minorities. He's helped a lot of people.

STERLING: Why you forcing this down my throat? I'm finished talking to you. I have nothing more are to say.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I took a picture with someone I admired.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he happens to be black, and I'm sorry.

STERLING: I think it's nice that you admire him. I know him well, and he should be admired. And I'm just saying that it's too bad you can't admire him privately, and during your entire (EXPLETIVE DELETED) life, your whole life admired him, bring him here, feed him, (EXPLETIVE DELETED) him, I don't care. You can do anything, but don't put him on Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don't bring him into my games, OK?


BLACKWELL: The tape which was made public by TMZ, is sparking reaction not only from the sports world but, as we told you, from the president. He had this to say during the stop in Malaysia, during his Asia tour.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don't really have to do anything. You just let them talk, and that's -- that's what happened here.


PAUL: Now, Magic Johnson, the subject of at least part of Sterling's rant, airing his thoughts on Twitter, calling the remarks, quote, "a black eye for the NBA" and adding, quote, "My wife and I will never go to a Clippers game again as long as Donald Sterling is the owner."

BLACKWELL: We're also hearing from NBA hall of famer and TNT Sports host Charles Barkley, who says that NBA commissioner Adam Silver must take swift action regarding Sterling.


CHARLES BARKLEY, NBA HALL OF FAMER: This is the first test of Adam Silver. He's got to suspend him right now.


BLACKWELL: Well, for his part, Silver, who has only been in the top job for a few months now, denounced the remarks but also called for patience as the league investigates.


ADAM SILVER, NBA COMMISSIONER: The audio recording posted by TMZ is truly offensive and disturbing. And we intend to get to the bottom of it as quickly as possible.

All members of the NBA family should be afforded due process and a fair opportunity to present their side of any controversy. Which is why I'm not yet prepared to discuss any potential sanctions against Donald Sterling. (END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: So let's dig a little deeper into this with CNN's Andy Scholes, who's joining us, along with Jason Johnson, HLN contributor and professor of political science at Hiram College. Thank you both for being here. We appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: So Andy, the commissioner talked about the process, but there are a number of things that the league can do. Let's talk about those.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS: Yes. The most likely thing to happen is a fine and a suspension. You know, an NBA owner has never been suspended before, so that would be a big step in itself. And a fine, Donald Sterling is worth, according to "Forbes," about $1.9 billion, so it's going to be irrelevant to fine the man. But a suspension, if you suspend him indefinitely, maybe for a year. You know, he is 80 years old, so he's getting up there in age. That's the most likely scenario to happen.

Now, people are saying, well, can they take the NBA team away from them? Now of course, that's never happened. Now, the NBA Constitutional, it's confidential. We really don't know what's in there, but according to reports, there's no -- there's no bylaws or anything that say a team can be taken away from an owner just based on, you know, reprehensible language or actions such as we're hearing from Sterling, if that is, in fact, him on the tape. So that's unlikely to happen.

It's also unlikely to happen because NBA owners will probably be reluctant to set a precedent like that, that if they have actions or language that, you know, such as Sterling that their team can be taken away from them.

So the most likely thing to happen is a fine and suspension. We'll have to see how the investigation plays out, as Adam Silver said last night during his press conference. But he did say he has broad powers in place to hand down a range of sanctions.

PAUL: OK, Jason, let me ask you. First of all, we need to be clear, they haven't -- Don Sterling's team has not denied this, nor have they confirmed it.


PAUL: We need to be clear about that, for one thing. But when it comes to Don Sterling, OK, that's him. What about the players? There was, I think, the former Clipper guard Ron Harper in a phone interview said that "Sterling took care of me when I played there, but if I had known then what I know now, there's no way I would have ever played for him." Some people are saying the players should take a stand.

How likely is it that a player who's making seven figures and this is his livelihood is going to say, "I'm going to give it up. I'm not playing for this guy"? JOHNSON: Yes, they're not going to do that, because there's money involved. And also because they don't know what the consequences could be for them. You can't just not show up at work because your boss is a jerk. I think that could any of us in trouble.

So what they're looking at right now is they're looking at Chris Paul, and they're trying to see, since he's the head of the players union, what can they actually do to show their disdain and dislike for this guy?

And really, this is a failure of leadership on so many levels: on Adam Silver's part, on David [SIC] Sterling's part. This is not the first time we've had an owner get in trouble, and they should have had rules to deal with these kind of situations.

BLACKWELL: You know, I was reading some of the tweets from the coaches, some of the players, Andy. And there's one that stood out to me. Baron Davis, former Clippers guard, now retired. And the tweet is "That's the way it is. He's honest about what he believes in. Been going on for a long time. Hats off to the team for playing above it all."

It seems like that is probably an anomaly, compared to all the other comments from -- you know, you've got Kobe Bryant saying, "I couldn't play for him." What are you seeing?

SCHOLES: Well, yes, LeBron said there's basically just no room for Donald Sterling in the NBA, and Adam Silver was asked, "What do you think about LeBron's comments?" Of course he said we're, you know, in the due process, in the investigation, we have to see how it plays out.

But there's a lot of players out there saying, "We wouldn't play for him. There's no room for this in the NBA." You have guys like Magic Johnson, who is, of course, the subject of that conversation, saying, "I'm never going to a Clippers game again." You have Jalen Rose saying the same thing, "I'm never going to a Clippers game again."

And this is going to be a big issue going forward, if Donald Sterling, in terms of, like, free agency and NBA players. You go back just to last year when Chris Paul was a free agent, if this was out there and he was getting, you know, similar offers -- of course, the Clippers could offer him a little more money -- but if he was getting similar money and knew this, would you got play for the Clippers or would you go play somewhere else?

BLACKWELL: Yes. And that's a serious conversation we had about, do you make that decision based on money? Seven million dollars, would you turn it down to say, "I can't work for the guy."

JOHNSON: That's not going to happen. Look, this isn't new. Let's be honest. Everybody knew.

PAUL: That's what I wanted to ask you about. I mean, since '09 there have been issues. JOHNSON: This guy has gotten in trouble. He was talking to a Villanova coach, saying, I want you to coach a team of 'N' words" back in the '90s. OK, every single person knows what kind of guy Donald Sterling is. Magic Johnson knows what kind of person. You think Elgin Baylor didn't tell Magic the kind of things that were going on in the organization?

So I think a lot of this is people feeling comfortable now expressing disdain that they've always had for him. But dollars are going to make people go for the team. The bigger issue is the NBA's black eye and what do they do about this?

BLACKWELL: You know, what really stood out to me is this nomination for the lifetime achievement award from the L.A. chapter of the NAACP. Now, the state president put out this statement. I'm going to read just one sentence. "We urge the L.A. branch of the NAACP to withdraw Donald Sterling from the honorary list at its upcoming gala, also that we suggest African-Americans and Latinos should honor his request and not attend the games."

But I was conversing with a friend last night, and I have the tweet. I'm not going to read his name, but he says about that potential boycott, "What happens to all the hard-working people who really represent that brand? This man is just the money behind it. Make him suffer, but how do you know -- how do you do that, rather, without making the person who needs that next check to pay for rent suffer?"

JOHNSON: Well, there's a lot of ways you can do it. And this is where the league failed. They should have rules in place for how you can financially and politically and publicly embarrass and suspend an owner. And they don't have that right now.

This is why this is a bigger issue. You have Chris Paul, Cliff Paul. You have, you know, you have the two most marketable guys in the NBA who happen to be on this team and, like, the second largest market in the country. How could David Stern and Adam Silver not already have a plan in place? They had an owner before who was in trouble for sleeping with a secretary. An owner got in trouble for sleeping with a babysitter. They've had problems in the past. They should have a better way to do this. And, no, regular people don't need to suffer for David Stern's [SIC] -- for David [SIC] Sterling's bigotry.

SCHOLES: You've got to feel bad for the Clippers' coaches and players. You know, Doc Rivers and Chris Paul. These guys did nothing wrong. The fans did nothing wrong.

BLACKWELL: And it's a big moment.

SCHOLES: They have a big game today against the Warriors in game four of their series. So you know, people are saying they shouldn't play. Well, these guys worked all year for this. If you're a fan of the team, like, if you're a fan, Victor, and you're waiting for this game, why should you suffer because this guy...?

PAUL: You don't punish the players.

SCHOLES: Exactly. You know, you need to find a way to punish Donald Sterling, but the Clippers organization from him down, you know, should not see something happen to them because of this. Like I said, all the fans have been looking for it. This is the playoffs. It's been great so far. It's a shame that we have to talk about this with the great first round of NBA playoffs we're having so far.

BLACKWELL: We're going to continue this conversation. We'll have you back at 7. We'll see you back at 8. Thank you both for joining this conversation, our conversation.

People are talking about this, not just in the sports world.

PAUL: I know.

BLACKWELL: And with the president in Malaysia having a conversation, we certainly had to start with it this morning.

PAUL: That definitely brings it into the headlines. No doubt about it. Thank you both so much for being here.

All righty. We have now, what, more than 50 days.

BLACKWELL: Yes, day 51 in the search for Flight 370. President Obama is promising more aid to the search effort.

BLACKWELL: Plus, as tensions in Ukraine escalate the president is pushing for an international solution. Why he says countries have to be united if sanctions against Russia are going to work at all.



OBAMA: I can't speak for all the countries in the region, but I can say that the United States and other partners have found the Malaysian government eager for assistance, have been fully forthcoming with us in terms of the information that they have, and this is a joint effort. It's not easy.


BLACKWELL: Not easy at all. New this morning, President Obama is standing by the Malaysian government in its handling of the Flight 370 investigation.

PAUL: During a joint news conference with the country's prime minister, the president said the U.S. is still committed to the search and will provide whatever assistance is necessary.

BLACKWELL: Now, his comments come as the high-tech underwater robot begins its 15th mission to scour the ocean floor for wreckage. That's the Bluefin-21 you see zooming by there. So far, not a single piece of debris has been found.

PAUL: Let's bring in CNN White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski, who's in Kuala Lumpur.

Good morning, Michelle.


There were certain subjects that we just knew were going to come up. The search for Flight 370 was absolutely one of them.

And it was interesting to hear this press conference today. It started out on this really light-hearted note, with the prime minister of Malaysia saying that it was 1966 the last time the U.S. president visited. He said that they were looking at rubber trees instead of towering skyscrapers and the band the Monkees were the top of the charts.

But it quickly turned extremely serious in the questions, and President Obama was asked something that he has been asked before, but he answered it in a little bit more depth. It was why doesn't the U.S. just act alone to sanction Russia right now in this crisis in Ukraine.

And the president agreed that, yes, in his words, Russia has not lifted a finger to deescalate the situation, but he said that the U.S. would be in a much stronger position to act with Europe instead of alone. And he gave an example, saying in the instance of arms dealing, if the U.S. cut off all of those deals, what good would it be really if Europe then backfills all of those orders? Here's part of his statement from today.


OBAMA: The notion that, for us to go forward with sectorial sanctions on our own without the Europeans, would be the most effective deterrent to Mr. Putin I think it is factually wrong. The issue is, can the Ukrainians make their own decisions about how they govern themselves and who they have international relations with?


KOSINSKI: Another really tough question for President Obama here was the issue of human rights, because while he's meeting with the prime minister, there are these opposition leaders who have been charged with crimes here, widely considered to be trumped-up charges, sort of a method to get them out of the political play here. And the president was asked, well, why do you not meet with those people? Do you not have a strong commitment to human rights? How really can you not meet with them or even address that directly.

And President Obama defended himself, really, saying, "Just because I'm not meeting with them doesn't mean I'm not committed." And in fact, his national security adviser, Susan Rice, did meet with those opposition leaders. And the president insisted that he did encourage the Malaysian prime minister to address those issues, and the prime minister of Malaysia agreed that he had done so. But it's hard on this trip to really pinpoint progress in terms of what some are calling deliverables. What can the president really take home and said, "We accomplished this while we were here," this transpacific partnership that could involve 12 Asian countries. It hasn't really come to fruition, and the administration knew that this is going to take a long time in coming. It wasn't necessarily a guarantee that that would happen.

But today, while the president was in Malaysia, the U.S. and the Philippines did sign a ten-year deal to expand the U.S. military presence in the region -- Christi and Victor.

BLACKWELL: So some progress. Still work to do. Michelle Kosinski for us in Kuala Lumpur, thank you.

PAUL: Thanks, Michelle.

Meanwhile, oh, what a celebration for Catholics around the globe today. Less than two hours ago a pair of the church's most beloved modern popes were installed as saints.

BLACKWELL: Pope Francis presided over the half-hour canonization ceremony, and beyond the pageantry and the solemnity, it was a moment of firsts.

PAUL: Before today, two popes had never been made saints simultaneously on the same day. And in an extraordinary display, two popes, Francis and Benedict stood together before as many as 100,000 pilgrims in St. Peter's square.

BLACKWELL: Now, the celebration is still going on. We'll have a live report and talk with the papal historian in just about ten minutes.

PAUL: But we do want to, you know, kind of forewarn you about what's going on this year with these tornadoes that are just ripping across North Carolina. Trees are down. We understand some homes are flipped. Look at the pictures we're getting in here. And the threat isn't over. You're going to have your severe weather forecast coming at you next.


BLACKWELL: Another day of rough weather for the folks in the Carolinas. North Carolina cleaning up this morning after powerful tornadoes ripped across that state.

PAUL: We'll tell you multiple twisters toppled trees, knocked out power to thousands of people. Look at -- look at the latest pictures we're getting in here. As many as 200 homes were either damaged or destroyed. Beaufort County felt it the most. But friends and neighbors -- and you'll see some of them there -- are promising to help rebuild.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We understand we got barely OK. As you can see his house isn't, but it's heartbreaking. I feel for him. And...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just glad he wasn't in it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll do everything we can to help him. He's a part of our family.


PAUL: Good people there.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Meteorologist Karen Maginnis here with the look at the threat that still lies ahead, now going into a third day here, or more.

KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: All right. We've got several more days ahead. But I want to read something to you. The National Weather Service office out of Kansas City, they write these discussions so meteorologists can see look at them, and this was what they topped their discussion with.

If there was any day to be weather aware, today is that day. All modes of severe weather possible, meaning high winds, large hail and tornadoes possible.

And watch this progression over the next several days. Here's Sunday, Monday a little bit further to the east and Tuesday across the southeast. What can we expect?

Well, this morning, already big storms rumbling around across North and South Dakota, winds coming up from the southeast and east between 35 and close to 50 miles an hour, but it is this moderate risk of severe weather. We don't see that too often. I mean, it happens.

But for today, it looks like Missouri into Arkansas into Louisiana and right around that Arklatex region, what can you expect? The thunderstorms. And the thunderstorms are capable of producing deadly weather. And we're expecting -- expecting some heavy downpours as we go into the next several days, especially across the deep south. Some areas could see six-plus inches of rainfall.

All of this is thanks to a deep area of low pressure that's try to eject out of the interior west. That pushes into the central U.S. This will be around for a few days, and Christi and Victor, this is going to be very problematic moving ahead.

PAUL: Wow. All right. Karen Maginnis, thank you for the heads up.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Karen.

A major event happening at Vatican City. Catholics around the globe also watching the celebration of two popes turned saints on the same day. We're going to talk about the historic relevance and just the pomp and circumstance -- the image is so strong here -- with the papal historian, just ahead.

PAUL: And interesting little tidbits...


PAUL: We're going to get here that we need to talk about with the papal historian, just ahead.


PAUL: We have your mortgage update. Rates were down this past week. Take a look.


PAUL: Twenty-nine minutes past the hour right now. Hope you're feeling some Sunday sunshine, unless it's just too early and you're still waiting. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: You should only feel the sunshine. I don't know if the sun's actually up anywhere. Yes.

PAUL: That's what I mean. It might be a little too early in some places.

BLACKWELL: In your spirits. I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you.