Return to Transcripts main page
ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Donald Sterling Banned From NBA And Fined $2.5M; Company Claims It Has Found Plane Wreckage
Aired April 29, 2014 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Next, breaking news, a lifetime ban for L.A. Clippers owner, Donald Sterling. Tonight, he is already talking about fighting back.
Plus, the woman heard on Sterling's racist rant. An OUTFRONT investigation, who is V. Stiviano?
And one company says it has found a plane in the Indian Ocean. Could it be that plane? Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, we begin with the breaking news, banned for life. It was a swift and historic move. The NBA announcing today, Los Angeles Clippers owner, Donald Sterling, barred from having any association with the league after audio recordings of Sterling going on a racist rant to his ex- mistress were made public.
In addition to the ban, Sterling could be forced to sell the team he has owned for 33 years. Tonight, Sterling remains defiant, telling a veteran broadcaster that his team is not for sale. In a moment, I'm going to be speaking to former NBA all-star and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. He has been speaking on behalf of the NBA players. First, though, here is Jason Carroll with more.
ADAM SILVER, NBA COMMISSIONER: Effective immediately, I am banning Mr. Sterling for life from any association with the Clippers organization or the NBA.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The punishment, the harshest in the history of the National Basketball Association. Donald Sterling stripped of his team and his affiliation with the NBA. He is now banned from attending NBA games, banned from the clippers facility, prohibited from participating in clippers business, fined $2.5 million, the maximum allowed under the NBA constitution.
SILVER: I will urge the Board of Governors to exercise its authority to force a sale of the team, and will do everything in my power to ensure that that happens.
CARROLL: Words of support coming in for the decision. More than a dozen teams releasing statements backing Silver including the Chicago Bulls, the Detroit Pistons, and the Boston Celtics. Tweets from players like Magic Johnson. Commissioner Silver showed great leadership in banning L.A. Clippers owner, Donald Sterling for life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We may be a two-team town, but today we are behind one team.
CARROLL: Sterling's wife defended him as the couple left an L.A. restaurant Sunday night.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you a racist, Mr. Sterling?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, of course, not.
CARROLL: But Sterling's racist words heard on a recorded conversation with his mistress. He was allegedly upset with her after she posted pictures with African-Americans like Magic johnson on Instagram.
DONALD STERLING: I'm just saying it's too bad you can't admire him privately and during your entire -- life, your whole life admired 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 to my games, OK?
SILVER: Mr. Sterling acknowledged it was his voice on the tape and he has not expressed to me directly any other views.
CARROLL (on camera): I've wondered if you have spoken to Mr. Sterling about this ban or any of his representatives, and if so, what has Mr. Sterling's reaction been to the punishment?
SILVER: I did not speak directly to his representatives about this ban. They were informed shortly before this press conference. I did not hear precisely what their reaction was.
CARROLL (voice-over): CNN calls to Sterling's representatives not returned. Silver says he personally felt the need to send a strong message.
SILVER: I think this is regardless of anyone's religion, ethnicity, nationality, I think this is incredibly hurtful.
CARROLL: And I think the question that a lot of people have, Erin, is how in the world can the commissioner force Sterling to sell his team? Well, apparently there is some sort of a provision in the NBA constitution, which allows just that under certain situations. Specifically, NBA owners have the right, according to this provision by a 3/4 vote to revoke ownership if that ownership has done something to adversely affect either players or the NBA. And Silver has made it very clear that he has this 3/4 vote.
BURNETT: And you were saying, you and I were talking just before this. You grew up in L.A.
CARROLL: Sure did.
BURNETT: He has obviously owned this team since the early '80s. This was an open secret.
CARROLL: It was the dirty open secret that everyone knew about in L.A. who went to games, who were familiar with the Clippers that at the very least this guy was odd. And at the worst, that he was not friendly towards people of color. It was something that we heard over and over again. It was the dirty open secret. So not surprised actually when I heard some of these racist recordings. What was surprising to a lot of people in that room today was the ban.
BURNETT: Was the ban. But after essentially sort of looking the other way or not listening to things for a long time that they would come out so aggressively. Jason, thank you very much.
And I want to bring in Sacramento mayor and former NBA all-star, Kevin Johnson OUTFRONT. He has been leading the NBA players' response to these remarks. Mayor, good to have you on again. You called this a defining moment when you spoke today.
Sterling, though, still the team's owner, obviously. You to get 3/4 of the league's owners to vote to terminate him. They have indicated that they support what happened today. But, you know, we don't know how this vote will go. Do you know how the earliest we could see the vote?
MAYOR KEVIN JOHNSON, SACRAMENTO: I think Commissioner Silver did a great job. And when I say defining moment, he defined the moment. His action was swift. It was decisive. It was exactly what the players were hoping for. You know, the players said to Commissioner Silver they wanted an immediate investigation. Number two, they wanted to make sure that their voices were heard collectively. And number three, whatever that maximum penalty was, they wanted the commissioner to execute that, which would lead to no ownership involvement by Mr. Sterling.
I do think when listening to Commissioner Silver today, he said he is going to move quickly. He said he is not going to wait. He has talked to a number of owners. They're very supportive. Typically, the NBA has a kind of Board of Governors meeting in July, mid-July in Vegas. But I don't think he is going to wait. He is going to assemble a team immediately.
BURNETT: All right, so you think that will happen immediately. What about though what Mr. Sterling is going to do. I mean, veteran sportscaster, Jim Gray this afternoon was on Fox. He spoke to Sterling before the announcement, and Sterling told Jim he was adamant the team is not for sale. And that is a guy who sued the league for $100 million in '84 and got his fine reduced. Are you -- are you worried this guy is going to fight?
JOHNSON: I think everyone expects him to fight. But I think Commissioner Silver clearly said today I do have the power and the authority to give somebody a lifetime ban. And when that lifetime ban happens, when that reality sits in, you're not going to be involved. Then he didn't stop there. He said I'm also going to fine you the maximum, which is $2.5 million. We're going to have the NBA and the players' association figure out how to spend those dollars in productive ways. Then he said you're going to be barred from any association with basketball. And lastly, I'm going to force a sale and I know how to get 3/4 vote to make that happen.
BURNETT: So, Mayor, it's interesting. You said everyone expects him to fight, because I think a lot of people watching that today said all right, this guy cannot fight. But it's interesting that there is that expectation. But when we talk about a sale, as you know, 76 percent of the players in the NBA are African-American, 43 percent of the coaches. There is only one majority black owner, Michael Jordan. They're saying Magic Johnson might be interested in buying the Clippers. Should it be someone who is black who buys this team or do you care?
JOHNSON: No. We just want -- we want it in the hands of somebody who espouses the values of the NBA. It's about respect. It's about loyalty. It's about realizing that you're part of one family and that's an NBA family. We're not a family of owners or a family of players. We are one family, and we speak in one voice. You cannot have one person tarnish the NBA and that's unfortunately what happened.
BURNETT: So today we were actually at our show meeting when you were speaking, and everybody was watching you. And you said something that caught our attention. I wanted to play it back for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: I hope that every bigot in this country sees what happened to Mr. Sterling and recognizes that if he can fall, so can you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And, you know, it got this conversation going, Mayor. The Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, as you know, talked about it being a slippery slope. If you force Sterling out over comments he made in private, what kind of precedent might that set. I'm wondering what you think about that. Are you worried about the precedent this sets?
JOHNSON: I'm not worried about a bad precedent being set. This was a perfect precedent. This is -- I felt like collectively, this country gasped when he said we completed the investigation. It was Mr. Sterling's voice on it and there will be a lifetime ban. At that point, the country was able to exhale and said you know what? When we say a defining moment, we're now able to move forward.
And with all due respect to Mark Cuban who ultimately I think will support Commissioner Silver in this fine and ultimately these sanctions is, this is not a slippery slope. This is a cliff and this man has fallen off a cliff. And that's just a reality.
BURNETT: All right, Mayor Johnson, thank you very much again for taking the time.
And OUTFRONT next, Donald Sterling now banned from the NBA. But what about his estranged wife? Is she going take over the team? And how much money could he make from this? And who is V. Stiviano, Donald Sterling's former mistress and the woman on the audiotape revealed, and I mean, in all ways tonight.
Plus new developments in the search for Flight 370, one company says it has found a plane, their proof coming up.
BURNETT: Breaking news on the NBA decision, to ban Clippers owner, Donald Sterling for life over his racist rant. Michael Jordan, the only principal team owner who is black issued a rare public statement today saying, quote, "NBA Commissioner Adam Silver sent a powerful message that there can be zero tolerance for racism and hatred in the NBA. I'm confident that the league, our players and our fans will move forward from the stronger and more unified."
But whether the other team owners will ban together and force sterling to sell team still remains to be seen and could he just give the team to his estranged wife? There is a solution. OUTFRONT tonight, Don Lemon, Detroit Free Press columnist, Mitch Album and sports attorney, David Cornwell.
David, let me start with, Sterling, as you heard, told veteran sportscaster, Jim Gray, his team is not for sale. You just heard Kevin Johnson saying everyone expects him to fight. And Commissioner Silver said this ban applies only to Sterling. Let me play how he phrased it. I know phrasing is everything.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SILVER: There had been no decisions about other members of the Sterling family and I should say that this ruling applies specifically to Donald Sterling and Donald Sterling's conduct only.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: That seem to be very specifically and carefully phrased. His wife obviously co-owns, the estranged wife, but they are still married in some way. His real estate and the team with him, could she just assume control?
DAVID CORNWELL, SPORTS ATTORNEY: No, she cannot. So there are really two pieces to this. What Adam did today was banned Sterling and impose the fine on him. The next step will be whether three-fourths of the owner's decide to terminate the franchise. Now, what that means is, there is essentially no longer in a membership interest who are in ownership interest in the league through the Clippers. The Clippers was essentially be looking at the end of their existence. That won't happen.
The commissioner will then take control of the Clippers,. Allow them to continue to play and conduct their business, put them up for sale and give Sterling the proceeds from the sale.
Sterling says that it is not up for sale. That is not an issue for him. He is going to lose his franchise. BURNETT: Well, you know, and it is interesting what you say there, Don. Let me just bring you in here because the proceeds from the sale, Donald Sterling got his team for $12 million in 1981. It is now worth, I'm just (INAUDIBLE) numbers I have today, anywhere up to $700 million, some say a billion dollars. That's not a bad punishment.
DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is not. But you got a ego the size of Donald Sterling --
BURNETT: It wasn't about the money?
LEMON: It is. It is not about money.
LEMON: What's a billion dollars seriously between you have two billion already, right? So you know, yes, I think he is going to profit from it and we can't, you know, really govern how people profit. But I would not like, David, I do not want to see this, and this is me talking, I don't want to see this family having any part of the scene.
And I think most of America feels the same way. Because the wife went to the game this weekend. You saw the bad response that they had. The team lost. She was a destruction. Then she says, you know, I don't want anything to do with this guy. He is a racist. And then she turns around and says, he is not a racist. She has got 1.9 billion reasons to, you know, say he is not racist. But I don't the team even wants her. And I don't think it will be fair to the team nor the fans.
BURNETT: That's an interesting point that she went. That at least it is the judgment call of going on.
Mitch, you know, you just heard Kevin Johnson speak just a moment ago. You know, he said look, if the racist remarks can bring down Sterling, they can bring down anyone. And I ask him about whether he was worried about what kind of president that would create. You tape someone in secret. They say something inappropriate. You can bring someone down and he said no. He thinks he is perfect president. It is not a slippery slope. It is a clip. This was the right thing to do.
I mean, do you think that this has change the game, though, that everyone would need to worry now. That is getting ban for life for some kind of a remark that could be offensive, whether it is racist or homophobic or I don't know what it might be.
MITCH ALBOM, COLUMNIST, DETROIT FREE PRESS: I certainly think amongst team owners and rich individuals that they are thinking twice about who they are having conversations with and who might be taping them. Because Donald Sterling has been this person for years. And you can go study documents that show racist comments from him far worse than what he was reported for saying. What was the difference with this, there was an audio tape that couldn't be control that it was all over the internet. So I think most certainly, people are going to watch out for the new got you form that there is to get yourself in trouble with comment. I think it would be naive to think that he is the only person who is ever made a racist comment in private, whether they'd be NBA owners or business owners of other kind.
But I think it is good warning that people should have watch what they say, no matter where they are.
LEMON: Mitch is right. I had, you know, that is going to note to my team saying this is the perfect intersection of race entitlement and privilege because I had no more no less than 10,15 people say and these are people of a certain age of a certain demographic of a certain income would say, Don, I hear it all the time in the boardroom. I hear it in the locker room. I hear it at the country club. People who say thing similar to Donald Sterling and no one ever says anything. And then when you try to intervene to no avail.
So, you are right, Mitch. He is not the only one. But this is the window into something that we rarely we get a window where we rarely get to see.
BURNETT: And David, this is kind of amazing that this is what it tool. There, Jason Carroll say, this has been going on for decades. It was an open secret. He grew up in L.A. Everybody knew that this guy didn't like people of color as Jason phrase it.
CORNWELL: It's not a surprise with this man. But what has happened today is that racism has been added to the list of kryptonite issues in professional sports. Gambling is one, because it goes to the integrity of the game. Over the last couple of decades, steroids has become a kryptonite issue because it goes to the integrity of the game. And now racism as well because you just cannot justify having black men with their excellence and commitment generating billions of dollars of revenue and then have an owner say yes, but they belong in the field, in the shacks. They can't come in the big house.
BURNETT: Mitch, do you think --
ALBOM: That's not new at all. I mean, Marge Schott (ph) made awful comments, worse than these kind of comments a long time ago. Fuzzy Zeller got in trouble for comments about Tiger Woods. Sergio Garcia not too long ago. I mean, anyone who thinks that sports is some kind of a haven against racism doesn't understand that sports is just part of society. It has pockets that are racist, just like the rest of society.
But it's not new. This isn't like I don't agree that it's a new issue that is suddenly explosive. I think in the day and age of the internet and audio tapes, videotapes, cell phone cameras, where people can catch you saying things that you thought were a joke, private, or just were never going to get out, suddenly that's what has become the new tinder. But racism has long been an issue in sports.
LEMON: Yes. But sports can move the culture. You look at Jackie Robinson, you look at Jason Colin, sports can make a difference in culture. We should not underestimate the power of sports.
BURNETT: All right, thanks very much to all three of you.
And OUTFRONT next, the woman that you heard during the racist rant, who is she? Donald Sterling's former mistress OUTFRONT.
And one company says it has found a plane in the Indian Ocean. Could it be that plane?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had a moral obligation to get our findings out to the authorities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Breaking news. Los Angeles clippers owner Donald Sterling banned for life. And the woman who may have brought him down, his 31- year-old ex-mistress. You see there to the right of him, she there to the left. She is heard with Sterling in audio recordings.
But who is V. Stiviano, as she calls herself? Since the taped conversations were leaked, Stiviano has been traveling incognito wearing this visor in public today and yesterday. In a lawsuits, Sterling's wife wants Stiviano romantically pursued her husband in exchange for gift that included this red Ferrari.
Deborah Feyerick is OUTFRONT.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As she left her Los Angeles home Tuesday V. Stiviano's intuition proved correct. The 31-year-old woman posting online, quote "one day I will look back in Instagram and say, I've been there and I have done that. It was her Instagram page and this photo with Magic Johnson that reportedly sent her boyfriend, Donald Sterling over the edge.
DONALD STERLING, L.A. CLIPPERS OWNER: All you ever wanted to do was fight. You're a born fighter.
FEYERICK: Stiviano was president of the company bearing her name. It was suspended in 2008 by the California franchise tax board. Though it's unclear what the company did, Stiviano describes herself as artist, lover, writer, chef, poet, stylist, philanthropist, saying I do it all.
HARVEY LEVIN, REPORTER: She definitely likes the rap world, because she has tried to kind of, you know, get close to various people in the rap game in L.A. I know that she knows some rappers.
FEYERICK: Court crowds and public records shows Stiviano used at least five names. They include Vanessa Marry Perez, Monica Gallegos and Maria Valdez. During the now famous recorded argument, Sterling seems at a loss for words when his girlfriend lays out her ethnicity.
V. STIVIANO, DONALD STERLING'S EX-MISTRESS: I'm a mixed girl. And you're in love with me. And I'm black and Mexican. Whether you like it or not. Whether the world accepts it or not.
FEYERICK: Born October 1982, Stiviano is almost 50 years younger than the 80-year-old billionaire. She met the mogul about four years ago. He apparently began supporting her almost immediately. In a lawsuit filed before the tapes went public, Sterling's wife alleges Stiviano targeted her husband and initiated an participated in a sexual relationship with him in exchange for gifts, allegedly worth more than $2.5 million.
Those gifts include a $1.8 million L.A. duplex and two Bentleys and a Ferrari, with license plates on Instagram that read I heart you V, and v hearts you.
According to TMZ sports, Stiviano said she was archiving Sterling's conversations at his request.
EVAN ROSENBILUM, TMZ: Yet she claims she is not his girlfriend, just an employee, an archivist who is tasked with recording conversations and working with the clippers related charity.
FEYERICK: team spokesman says Stiviano did not work for the clippers organization. Sterling had several other family charities.
FEYERICK: Now, Stiviano's lawyer says he plans to respond in the next several days there is a new piece of video out actually that shows Stiviano in a car with a friend. It's taken by a friend. A friend says -- and she basically says you don't want to know how much this costs. So, it's kind of interesting to see her, actually. Now you're seeing a little more of the car than you are of her. But anyway, there she is. So a little bit of live --
BURNETT: He gave her classic cars?
FEYERICK: It's unclear when the relationship ended or ever did. But Sterling's wife, this is what is so interesting, she is suing Stiviano saying he had no right to give you any of this property north, apartment, not the cars, not the jewelry if he gave jewelry because this was our community property. And right now it belongs to me, and you don't get to keep it. So she wants it all back.
BURNETT: Wow. All right, thank you very much to deb. This story is incredible.
On so many levels. OUTFRONT next, a company says it has found a plane in the Bay of Bengal. It that plane?
Plus, a deadly Sars like virus spreads to another country. Dr. Sanjay Gupta OUTFRONT. And a college graduate celebration falls flat. Jeanne Moos has the story.
BURNETT: An Australian company says it's found a plane wreckage that could be Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. The location? The Bay of Bengal, thousands of miles from the current underwater search area, a location search officials ruled out weeks ago.
But this company, GeoResonance, says they have proof there is a plane under the water. These images, they say they gave the location information to Malaysian officials on march 31st. Malaysian officials say they're still assessing the information. Also today, we heard for the first time the audio of the plane's final conversation with the control tower.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TOWER: Malaysia 370 contact Ho Chi Minh 120 decimal 9, good night.
PLANE: Good night Malaysian 370.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: Miguel Marquez is in Perth tonight.
Miguel, officials called off the air search today. Are they still confident they're searching in the right place, now we have these new images and allegations?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they are, is the simple answer. They believe that the Inmarsat data and the pings they heard, two of them of high quality, two of them of lower quality are certainly good.
Australian officials are discounting what GeoResonance is saying, that the area where they are looking isn't even on the northern arc, and it is not something that they are concerning themselves with, although the nations are.
All of this as the Bluefin continues to search here. It did not go down yesterday because of weather. Maybe back down today. We'll find that out shortly.
But it will continue to search north from where it was previously, the site of the second ping. And it will move toward the area of the first ping, which was picked up on April 1st. It has until about May 15th before that ship that it's on, the Ocean Shield, has to come back into port for refueling.
Back to you.
BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much, Miguel.
And now, let's go to Tom Foreman.
Tom, what is the science behind these images and this claim by this private company, this Australian company GeoResonance? TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We don't know the details of the science, Erin, and that's what has people so troubled. What we do know is that all of the search above the water, so far, has been about visible light, what you can see.
What this company is talking about is the things that go beyond that in the electromagnetic spectrum, things that have a shorter wavelength or longer wavelength. Everything out there is emitting energy all the time. They're saying by scrutinizing images they've captured of this other energy, that's how they came up with these images, something they say would send out the signature of aluminum, and a lot of it in this sort of configuration under the water -- something that sent off the signature of titanium in this configuration.
These are things you would find a lot of in an airplane out there. And there is more than just that, for example. They said there is also an indication of copper in the configuration that you might find in the wiring. And even something that might indicate the engine alloys also in the same configuration.
So, basically, what they're doing is a looking at natural environment and saying we're getting some unnatural readings there that weren't there before that suggests all of these things are at the bottom of the water there -- Erin.
BURNETT: Tom, why wouldn't they just go investigate it, even if they don't think that's what it is, go check it out?
FOREMAN: Because those very questions that Miguel raised a little while ago. Think about this. If this in fact happened, you have to be able to believe that this plane not only landed here, but that it also maintained largely its shape, because most of these fit the configuration of where a plane would be. If that were the case, Erin, then how come there are no life rafts? How come nobody tried to get off? How come nobody tried to go anywhere else?
And yet, they're standing this saying, our science is good and we want people to go check it out. With no other leads, a lot of people say they ought to -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Tom Foreman, thank you very much. Obviously, that fits in with the theory some have put out there about an intact plane.
Joining me now: Arthur Rosenberg, Les Abend and Jeff Wise, all pilots. Of course, Les, 777 pilot.
OK. What do you think, Jeff?
JEFF WISE, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: You know, it's very interesting of the timing of this coming out, because the Australians' underwater search seems to have hit more or less of a dead-end. And now, there has always been theories that people have. I get a lot of e-mails and comments on my blog about oh, I saw this picture from a satellite photo. I have this reason to think it's over here. Lots of people have lots of theories. Now, there is an explosion. And this is just one of hundreds.
BURNETT: Right. I mean, although they do have these images.
Let me, Arthur, play for you what the CEO of this company said as to why they released these images to the public at this time.
ARTHUR ROSENBERG, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Sure, sure.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DAVID POPE, GEORESONANCE: We're a large group of scientists, and we were being ignored. And we thought we had a moral obligation to get the findings out into the authorities.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ROSENBERG: Well, look. Here is the bottom line. He said that to add gravitas to his analysis. This analysis, spectral analysis, is really nothing new. The way this company is using this technology, from what I've been told, it's based on the demilitarized Russian military which has had success on land.
BURNETT: They use this to learn whether there is chemical weapons or nuclear weapons under water. That's why it has this specialty in detecting these certain types of isotopes.
ROSENBERG: Right. It's also been used to find metals for miners and things like that. But I am skeptically cautious about this. I'm still saying the plane is in the south Indian Ocean. But what is important here is they claim -- if you buy into the technology, they claim that they found titanium. They found aluminum. They found chromium, which is used in steel, possibly molybdenum which is also used.
It's in an area which I think should be looked at. There are other ways that those metals could get there. It could have come out of the Ganges River, one of the most polluted rivers on the planet, these toxic elements, these metals -- heavy metals. So, but even though it's inconsistent with the Inmarsat data or the plane flew for another six hours that this puts this (INAUDIBLE), I think it's worth a look.
BURNETT: Right. We've seen that way. I mean, certainly, you know, we've never gotten the full Inmarsat data, Les. I know you had a lot of confidence in that particular data. But you expressed recently skepticism about the pings. So, do you think we should look?
LES ABEND, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: I've expressed, Erin, skepticism about the pings underwater, not the handshakes from the Inmarsat data.
BURNETT: Right, the pings underwater, the black box pings.
ABEND: There are some of our analysts that have expressed the same skepticism and we have discussed that together. But this data to me seems -- I won't pretend to even know the science or be familiar with this particular science be. The bottom line is they claim to have sent this out two weeks prior to the battery life going dead on the black box pingers.
OK. If it was sent to all these experts, the NTSB, Rolls-Royce, Boeing, you can go on down the list.
ABEND: They probably got this information and said not so much. And we would like our Inmarsat data. I'm sure this was not done in a vacuum. And none of this matches up with any of the handshake situation. It just -- it makes no sense to me.
BURNETT: It is incredible, Jeff, the reliance on the Inmarsat data. And look, it may end up being completely vindicated. No one has come up with anything better. And everybody who seems to be involved in this buys into it.
But yet, we've never been given the full backup to where this data comes from. All we know is it's an unprecedented use of technology.
WISE: Well, Inmarsat pings, absolutely. And interestingly, just last night, the Malaysians did release to the families a chart that showed what looked like ping distances, which is a piece of the puzzle that we've really been hankering for.
It was very fuzzy. It was hard --
BURNETT: Or handshakes from the plane to the satellite, those connections.
WISE: Which could be a huge piece of the puzzle. But it's hard to know what you're looking at.
ABEND: But I don't believe, Jeff, they said anything with reference to a dead-end, I don't think we have reached a dead-end. We're still searching.
BURNETT: Except for they're now searching a 21,000 square -- they went from little a little area --
ABEND: Tactical to strategic.
ROSENBERG: I think that's the whole point. The Inmarsat data together with the radar and the sonar pings put us in an area. It's a large area.
I think it was overly optimistic to think they were ever going go to the area --
BURNETT: But you all agree they should go check this out? Look, if they have a location.
WISE: I don't think they should look at it. There are hundreds -- if you went chasing after every person who was a thousand percent convinced.
BURNETT: This isn't every person. This isn't a random civilian looking at the digital globe suddenly.
WISE: It kind of is. It's just a website. We don't know who these people are.
BURNETT: No, it is a company. I mean, they came on CNN. It's a company that does this. But that's what they do.
ROSENBERG: It's not that expensive. I think more importantly, this report was kind of deep-sixed. It was hid from the public. And now it came out.
I think we owe to it the families to go take a look.
BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much to all three of you.
And OUTFRONT next, the recordings of the pilots' final words. The partner of an American on board Flight 370 is OUTFRONT.
And just weeks after a deadly Ebola outbreak, another super virus on the rise. Dr. Sanjay Gupta will be OUTFRONT.
BURNETT: Tonight, the final words from Malaysia Flight 370. After weeks of pleading with Malaysian officials to release more information, family members of Flight 370 passengers started to get some answers. For the first time, they heard what investigators say were Captain Zaharie Shah's last words to ground control before the flight vanished.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
PLANE: Malaysian 370 maintaining level three five zero.
TOWER: Malaysian 370.
PLANE: Malaysian 370 maintaining level three five zero.
TOWER: Malaysian 370.
Malaysian 370 contact Ho Chi Minh 120 decimal 9, good night.
PLANE: Good night Malaysian 370.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: One of the family members that pushed for the release of that audiotape is Sarah Bajc. Her partner, Philip Wood, was on that flight.
And Sarah joins me this morning from Beijing.
Sarah, you know, hearing that audio, I'm just wondering how that made you feel. You've been asking for it. I mean, this takes you inside the plane where your partner Philip was, a voice he may have heard. How did you feel when you heard those words from the pilot?
SARAH BAJC, PARTNER OF PHILIP WOOD: Well, it's a touch back to help me make this feel like it's real, as opposed to just a story someone else is telling. And I think part of the request of families or the request by families for this kind of information also things like the video clips from the airport helps us to make this feel more factual, I guess.
So, it's great progress that Malaysian Airlines has released this to us now, and we're very thankful they have done it.
BURNETT: And, Sarah, the air search, as you know, they say is now over. Do you think that they're giving up?
BAJC: Well, it does feel that way. But I also understand it. I mean, the likelihood of there still be floating debris is pretty small. And I would rather see those assets used in some other way.
However, the pullback in general on a global level of pursuing finding this plane is troublesome, because this is still a very serious security concern for every single person who gets on an airplane.
BURNETT: It is. And do you think at this point, Sarah, that there -- we talk about whether they're looking in the right place, you and I have. Be you know that private Australian company has put out the images of what it says could be wreckage from the plane you. You actually had a chance to talk to the director of that company.
What did he tell you? And do you think that actually could be the plane that they're looking 3,000 miles in the wrong place?
BAJC: Well, I hope it is not the plane, but I do believe it's worth looking into. I mean, we're talking about either an Indian or a Chinese navy vessel with some sort of sonar capability to go to that spot. It is only about a two-hour distance from the coast of Bengal, it is not a huge leverage of assets.
But it would confirm or deny a reasonably possible lead. I mean, this company identifies concentrations of metal for their business. And if indeed it's a boat -- well, then we know that their technology works, right? And we can perhaps leverage their technology to find other concentrations of metal.
So, we don't want it to be the plane, but we do believe it is worth following up on.
BURNETT: I mean, Sarah, when you talk about you don't want this to be the plane, at this point -- I mean, have you been able to get your heart around the fact that the plane may have crashed?
BAJC: Well, both of my head and my heart have realized since day one that that was the likely outcome. But you know, as long as there is that tiny chance that there could be any survivors we owe it to them to continue to look, and beyond the ability to find the plane. So, whether it's to be reunited with our family members or so say good-bye to them properly, we still have to find the plane. And you know then, we can start to understand what happened. Because you know we don't ever want another plane to vanish like this. We don't ever want anybody else to have to walk in our shoes.
BURNETT: Do you think that they may never find the plane? I mean, that is a possibility. I mean, a few weeks ago, I wouldn't have thought that I would ask you that question. But do you realize that could be the fact now?
BAJC: It could be. And that probably is the scariest possible outcome at this point. Because I mean, what do the families do at that point except for continue to push.
And I think we're quite united at this point. We have more than 300 family members signed onto our organization. And we will leverage every resource we have to continue the investigation and to continue to try to find that plane.
BURNETT: All right. Sarah, thank you.
First, Ebola, and now, MERS. Tonight, doctors are struggling to contain a deadly virus in the Middle East. In just the past weekend, 26 new cases. MERS stands for Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome. It's in the same family as SARS, fever, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal distress, pneumonia, and in severe cases, kidney failure are what it does. It sickened over 330 people in Saudi Arabia alone, nearly a third of them dead.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta is OUTFRONT.
And, Sanjay, you were just in Africa covering the Ebola outbreak. Now, we're hearing about MERS. What is causing this to suddenly become an outbreak and to spike?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, all of these viruses, if you look at the history, they all are what are called genoses (ph) viruses. Meaning, they make the jump from animals to humans.
Sometimes, it is easier to figure out as you and I talked about. We don't know for sure where it comes from with Ebola. But we get an idea of where it is coming from, for MERS, and that is single hump camels, known as dromedaries. These are the type of camel that could be harboring this virus. It could be living in these camels, you know, it could have been there for a long time.
But for some reason, it makes the jump. It makes the jump from animals to humans. It is a fascinating process, Erin. They screen all sorts of animals, sheep, cattle, pigs, birds, eventually figure this out. It's a real medical mystery, but they think they've got it solved.
BURNETT: Wow. I know, you know, obviously, we sometimes make jokes on the show. We said why are they blaming camels? I know they say they have done the studies to determine that is where it comes from.
How, Sanjay, does it spread from a camel to a person? And why is this a Saudi Arabia specific situation?
GUPTA: You know, a lot of times these viruses will start in a certain part of the world. As you mentioned SARS earlier, but then it could spread in other places. You know, they don't know exactly how it's getting from camels to humans. And while they found the virus, the actual virus in camels, there could be other animals, as well, as part of this whole mix.
They think it could be camel meat. It could be drinking unpasteurized camel milk, which I guess both of those things are common in Saudi Arabia. It could be droplets for people who are around camels. It could be even the camel spit or some fluids from camels that gets on someone's skin and is transmitted that way.
You remember, Erin, that's how Ebola transmitted, fluids actually getting on one's skin. So, they haven't figured that out. They have shown that it can spread from human to human as well, but very difficult for that to happen.
BURNETT: Could someone have this virus, get on an airplane, and all of a sudden the infection become something significant, huge?
GUPTA: I think that is a real concern. And you know, you know me well enough to know that I don't like to be alarmist about these things. But there's two things -- one is that there's an incubation period. You could be exposed, you could have the virus, you're not yet sick, and you can get on a plane. And that can just happen, it's going to happen.
In fact, it has already happened where you have people in Europe who have had the MERS virus in their body that they got from Saudi Arabia. These had already happened. The other concern is obviously these are now places where there's international airports. Some type of travel can happen much more quickly.
BURNETT: All right. Sanjay Gupta, thank you so much.
GUPTA: You got it, Erin. Thank you.
BURNETT: OUTFRONT next, the college student tries to spice up his college graduation with a back flip. It did not go well. Jeanne Moos is next.
BURNETT: There is so many ways to celebrate a college graduation, a back flip usually not on that list. Jeanne Moos will show you why.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was pomp and unfortunate circumstance. Graduation at Davenport University in Michigan, grads dealing with these pesky tussles, the litany of hard- to-pronounce names, a sea of caps from which --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Robert Jeffrey Blank. MOOS: Bobby Blank tried to stand out with a back flip that backfired.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, OK. I don't know. I don't know. We're just going to give it a -- going to give it a minute.
MOOS: Instead of landing on his feet he landed on his face.
BOBBY BLANK, DAVENPORT UNIVERSITY ALUMNI: My hands were holding my diploma and my cap, so they didn't do a great job of catching me, hence, the loud thud, but I'm OK, I'm still standing.
MOOS (on camera): Now, Bobby, here is what you meant it to look like --
(voice-over): Off comes the cap. This guy got a pat on the back, while all Bobby got was startled stares.
(on camera): By blowing his back flip, Bobby graduated to Internet immortality. If he had stuck his landing, it would have been just another stunt.
(voice-over): Like the grad who stripped off his gown to reveal a Superman outfit, or the guy who did the worm. Or the NYU grad who took off his pants and ran onto the field when the graduation was held at Yankees Stadium. At least Bobby didn't end up in handcuffs or pull up patch Adams.
Wearing a graduation gown like a hospital gown, Davenport University had no comment on Bobby's back flip, but they didn't seem overly concerned.
BLANK: It was kind of a spur of the moment thing, so I apologized to the people behind me that it may have taken away from their shining light.
MOOS: Bobby says his gown and having his hands out holding things prevented him from getting the full rotation. But just to prove that he can do it.
Take it from a pre-school graduate. Grads will be grads.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know you're going to be successful in everything you do.
MOOS: Well, maybe not everything.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BURNETT: And he just had to show us he actually could do one.
"AC360" starts now.