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Forty Seven Million People In Path Of Severe Storms; Fifty to 60 U.S. Team Members In Nigeria; Shelly Sterling Wants To Keep The Clippers; Sterling: "I'm Not A Racist"

Aired May 8, 2014 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Next breaking news, tornadoes on the ground in the Midwest. More on the way tonight. We have the live pictures of those storms. The forecast coming up.

And Clippers owner, Donald Sterling breaking his silence. He says he is not a racist. Meanwhile his wife says she is going to keep the Clippers.

And HGTV suddenly cancels a new show. What does the host's religion have to do with it? Those hosts are our guests. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett OUTFRONT tonight. We begin with the breaking news. More than 47 million Americans right now in the path of severe weather that is going right through the central U.S. and the Midwest. Tornado touching just moments ago near St. James, Minnesota, which is a city about 100 miles southwest of Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Meanwhile, more tornadoes are expected to strike in the Midwest. Tonight, we begin our coverage with Chad Myers. And Chad, where is the biggest threat right now, as these pictures start to come in. These storms look so severe.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Really close to Shakopee in the Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Even though 30 to 45 minutes away, the storm is still a very stout storm. And Erin, what we don't like about this storm that it's all by itself. We would love to see a big line of weather with all these storms fighting each other for power.

But this is the powerful storm and it is still moving up towards the northeast at about 30 to 35 miles per hour. So Shakopee, Eden Prairie here, you would be the first suburbs to witness this. And maybe even toward Bloomington as it moves up toward Minneapolis. Whether you get a tornado with this storm or not, Minneapolis/St. Paul, you are going to see wind. You're going see hail damage probably with this.

Get the cars, the pets, the kids inside. You have about 30 minutes to prepare. But this storm has been on and off the ground many hours now, all the way -- this is the one you were talking about, way down near St. James on the ground, off the ground, up and down, up and down all afternoon long -- Erin. BURNETT: All right, Chad, thank you very much. Tim Purington is a storm chaser. He is on the phone tracking this dangerous line of storms live. Tim, obviously, I know you've been tracking several tornadoes over just a past few moments. Where is this storm going?

TIM PURINGTON, STORM CHASER, SEVERE STUDIOS (via telephone): The super cell that chad was talking about is moving into the metro now. We weren't able to keep up with it any longer. It's moving pretty fast. It did drop two tornadoes down by the St. James area. We're currently watching new supercells form off to our west about 45 miles and we're waiting for those now.

BURNETT: How serious do you think they'll be?

PURINGTON: Well, it's a pretty dynamic system. So the one that dropped by St. James, it tightened up pretty quick and it spawned a tornado rapidly. So these are very dynamic storms, and they can drop a tornado at any time.

BURNETT: And when you say drop a tornado at any time, and you heard Chad talking about the size of the funnels, how we talk about the speed, the EF range, the scale that we measure these on. What are you looking at?

PURINGTON: These are pretty small. I'm putting ef-0 to ef-1 range, and briefs. They're not on the ground very long. One to five minutes at most. The ones that we tracked earlier today, you know. We'll see with these ones that are coming up from the southwest.

BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Tim. We appreciate your time.

And now to our other top story tonight, the breaking news we now know how many Americans are in Nigeria to help find the missing girls there. Approximately 50 to 60 interagency team members on the ground. And a team of seven U.S. military personnel from U.S. Africa command are scheduled to arrive in Nigeria tomorrow. This is a rising brutal terror threat and right now there is a desperate fight to stop it before it reaches American soil.

We're talking about Boko Haram. The tactics so vile that the headline from "The New York Times" today read abduction of girls, an act not even al Qaeda can condone. Tonight more than 200 girls are still missing. Thousands of people slaughtered this year, hundreds just this week. Bodies are burned, throats slit and we are talking about civilians. The leader of this group warned America could be next, but Nigeria's president today said the end of Boko is near.


GOODLUCK JONATHAN, PRESIDENT OF NIGERIA: I believe that the kidnap of these girls will be the beginning of end of terror in Nigeria.


BURNETT: Many, though, believe boko haram is just getting started. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPRESENTATIVE PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: For whatever reason, the secretary of state and the State Department did not declare them a foreign terrorist organization until about six months ago. So we lost valuable time and a number of years. And for life of me I cannot understand why.


BURNETT: That was time that didn't have to be lost. The administration was warned about the grave threat of Boko Haram two years ago by this man, the former commander of all American forces and operations in Africa, General Carter Hamm. He is going to be our guest in just one moment. But first, I want to go to the capital of Nigeria, Abuja, where Vlad Duthiers has been talking to sources on the ground. Vlad, what do they think is happening to those girls tonight? This group of course known for its horrific brutality.

VLADIMIR DUTHIERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Erin. The parents of these young girls that we've been speaking to ever since the story first broke fear that their daughters may be sold as sex slaves. They fear that their children may end up pregnant or even forced into marrying their captors. As you say, Boko Haram a vicious group.

Just this past Monday, they attack a marketplace. Classic Boko Haram modus operandi. They came dressed in army fatigues and armored personnel carriers wielding RPGs as they mowed down residents and shop owners. Several of those people tried to flee into their shops. These militants burned people alive whilst they were in their shops, Erin.

The president of Nigeria today at the World Economic Forum saying that he believes that the abduction of these girls is the beginning of the end of terror in Nigeria. That's what he said. But for a lot of people, it seems as if the government and the military has been unable to control Boko Haram.

They seem to attack at will with impunity at any moment, at any time. And so a lot of people are saying that in fact what may be ending is the Nigerian government's fog when it comes to dealing with this issue because this has been going on since 2009, Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Vlad, thank you very much. As he points out, happening since 2009, now what is happening to those kidnapped girls right now? And just how evil, this is the word so many use for Boko Haram, is that group? Well, we spoke to one man who survived being a Boko Haram hostage.


BURNETT (voice-over): Father Vandenbeusch served as a priest in a remote town on Nigeria's border. He knew the evil of Boko Haram.

FATHER GEORGES VANDENBEUSCH, HELD HOSTAGE BY BOKO HARAM (through translator): A large number of families that we had welcomed, they killed the parents in front of the children.

BURNETT: And then one night they came for him.

VANDENBEUSCH (through translator): During the night, ten men with guns came on motor bikes to get me. They broke the doors.

BURNETT: Boko Haram's brutal violence includes burning people alive in mosques and churches and slitting the throats of students.

VANDENBEUSCH (through translator): They had disdain in their eyes especially on the women.

BURNETT: Even among extremist groups, their tactics are vile.

GENERAL JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, U.S. ARMY (RETIRED): Could describe it as the Taliban that have taken it to the next level, maybe a Taliban on steroids.

BURNETT: Father Vandenbeusch spent seven weeks as a hostage. His parishioners were sure he would never return. He fought to keep his dignity.

VANDENBEUSCH (through translator): To continue to be a man, you have to worship. You have to eat the can of food they bring you in the morning and I would divide it into three meals.

BURNETT: Boko militants led by the charismatic, Abubakar Shekau. Nigerians describe him to me as a psychopath. He is a relative unknown, only in charge since 2009 when Nigerian security forces killed the group's founder, Mohammed Yusuf. The question tonight, is one man's responsible for Boko's increased exposure or it is something much bigger?

A warning experts say the United States needs to take seriously.

MARKS: There is no talking logic to them there is no negotiating with them. This is an absolutely horrible beyond definition horrible organization that clearly needs to go away completely. And we have to facilitate their departure.


BURNETT: Clearly Father Vandenbeusch was one of the lucky ones. He was actually sent home as part of a hostage swap. Joining me now is Retired General Carter Ham, the former commander of United State Africa command, the man who oversaw all of America's actions on the continent. General, great to have you with us. The priest obviously survived this. But how dangerous is this group Boko Haram? Obviously, you're very familiar with them.

GENERAL CARTER HAM, FORMER AFRICOM COMMANDER (RETIRED): Well, Erin, they certainly present a very, very significant risk in Nigeria, more broadly across the region. And the leaders of Boko Haram have been very clear over the past couple of years that they aspire to attacking westerners and specifically the United States and its people and its interests. I don't think they yet have the capability to strike significantly in the homeland, but the fact that they want to do that is worrisome.

BURNETT: And obviously now there is now all these direct flights between Nigeria and the United States there is a lot of ties between the countries. Do you think they need to be stopped now that the United States needs to somehow become more involved more actively to stop them from striking?

HAM: I do think we should continue our actives and increase our activities to help the Nigerians deal with Boko Haram. And I think that's an important concept because this is first and foremost a Nigerian challenge. They obviously require some help, and I think it's very encouraging that they have asked for the international community for some help. But we should not forget that this is the Nigerian government's responsibility.

BURNETT: Right. Of course, until something more significant would happen obviously. But here is what the president and the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have said about Boko Haram just in the past couple days.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Boko Haram has been one of the worst regional or local terrorist organizations in the world.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: The seizure of these young women by this radical extremist group, Boko Haram, is abominable. It's criminal. It's an act of terrorism and it really merits the fullest response possible.


BURNETT: All things you agree with because you actually said this yourself about almost two years exactly to the day. Here is you in June of 2012.


HAM: Most notably, I would say that the linkages between al Qaeda and the lands of the Islamic Maghreb and Boko Haram are probably the most worrisome in terms of the indications we have that they are likely sharing funds, training, and explosive materials, which can be quite dangerous.


BURNETT: That was two years ago. You were the man in charge. You were saying those things. Yet it took until John Kerry was secretary of state in December for the United States to designate Boko Haram a terrorist organization. Why did it take so long?

HAM: Well, there is lots of factors that go into designation. There was a broad discussion across the government, the Africa command and the department of defense was one component of that. But I think that it was just -- BURNETT: You got overruled?

HAM: Well, I think the fundamental concern at the time was does Boko Haram present a threat to the United States. And that was the gist of the conversation. I think it's much clearer now that Boko Haram is -- has gained strength. They certainly present a greater threat now than they did before.

BURNETT: And let's talk about where they operate. We're looking here the Sambisa Forest, which is where they have refuge right now. In terms of the size of people hear forest, they think it's some regional thing. I have three states of New Jersey. That the size of this forest. And I read Nigerian descriptions today, it's an evil forest. It's full of all sorts of poisonous snakes. It's not a very hospitable place. What do you know about where they are?

HAM: It's an extraordinarily remote part of the country in the far north eastern portion of Nigeria, close to the border with Cameroon, and not far from Lake Chad.


HAM: About 600 miles or maybe even more from the capital of Abuja. And Erin, the infrastructure is so poor that it's exceedingly difficult for the government or for anyone else to get resources into the area. That's why -- one of the reasons Boko Haram acts with impunity.

BURNETT: So they have refuge there, and obviously, you know, Nigerian sources have been telling me for about a week they think that the girls were broken up into smaller groups, some in Chad, some in Cameroon. Do you think all the girls are still alive?

HAM: Well, we don't really know, but certainly as long as there is hope that they are, then I think the effort has to continue. And I am, again, personally I'm really happy to see the United States at the request of the Nigerians offering assistance.

BURNETT: They've been very clear, though, no special forces. Lives could be at risk. You could lose American lives if you were to go into that forest and try to find this group. Do you think that that's the right decision, or should the United States end up putting Special Forces commandos on the ground?

HAM: Well, first and foremost, again, we should remember this is Nigeria's responsibility. We should seek to help them in ways that they want to be helped. My sense is on the military side, probably intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, logistical support is probably the -- are probably the capabilities that would help the Nigerians the most.

And it's also important to remember that there is a much more than the U.S. military. This is a whole of government. So the FBI is there and many others who have expertise in this area to provide advice to the Nigerians. And again, as I do agree with you, I believe that more than likely that several of the girls have been moved across the borders. So this will require Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and I think the African Union and its regional economic communities to work together on a regional basis to address this problem.

BURNETT: All right, General Ham, thank you very much.

OUTFRONT next, Donald Sterling caught on tape again. He had another conversation. We're going to play it.

Plus, breaking news, the home of former tennis pro, James Blake, intentionally set on fire, four people dead inside. And we're just learning at this moment some new information about how they died. We have that special report on the ground.

And reporters gone wild, breaking a studio set on live television. That is a real set. We'll tell you what they're fighting over.


BURNETT: Breaking news, the Sterlings are not about to go down without a fight. Donald sterling's wife, Shelly, telling CNN she owns 50 percent of the Clippers, so back off, world. She is adamant there is no way the NBA is going to strip her of her share after her estranged husband's rant was caught on tape.

Now tonight, we have another secret conversation. It's incredible this man would have another conversation about this issue but he did. Radar Online was able to obtain it. Here is Donald Sterling.


DONALD STERLING: You think I'm a racist? You think I have anything in the world but love for everybody? You don't think that. You know I'm not a racist. I grew up in east L.A. East L.A., you die to get out of there. I got out of east L.A. I was the president of the high school there. I mean, and I'm a Jew. And 50 percent of the people there were black and 40 percent were Hispanic.


BURNETT: All right, Jason Carroll, is OUTFRONT now along with Don Lemon, and psychotherapist, Robi Ludwig. You have been reviewing all of the tape today. What else have you heard?

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's really incredible considering he has been caught on tape once. You would think he would be very mindful who he was talking to. We should be clear we have not identified the person he was talking to, only that this is a long-time friend.

BURNETT: Who decided to roll tape? CARROLL: Who decided to roll -- well, someone did. Someone did. But we should also mention he made mention of Magic Johnson. You remember in the original audio recording that was released, he was critical of V. Stiviano, saying how dare you post a picture of a black man, even if it was Magic Johnson, on your Instagram account? So listen to what he also had to say than today. That was interesting.


STERLING: It breaks my heart that Magic Johnson, you know, a guy that I respect so much wouldn't stand up and say well, let's get the facts. Let's get him and talk to him. Nobody tried. Nobody.


BURNETT: Everybody tried.

CARROLL: They did try.


BURNETT: We did try.

CARROLL: Shortly after that original recording came out and said he would not attend any Clippers games so long as Sterling was still there. So Magic Johnson did weigh in.

LEMON: There is no remorse. I'm so upset that Magic Johnson, a guy I admire and respect now has these feelings about me and my words are wrong or I'm sorry that I said that about -- how about that instead of Magic Johnson didn't stand up for me or try to call me. It's bizarre.

ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: He has made himself a victim.

LEMON: He is the victim.

LUDWIG: Right. And I think what we need to know here is that Donald Sterling is not the only person who has these ideas. When any one person speaks out, there is other people in a group who feel the same way and people justify it because they make exceptions. So it is in some ways we don't like to think about it, but natural to stereotype, which can lead to prestigious, because we need to categorize people. And so people make themselves good by saying well I'm good to black people. I hire black people. I pay them a good salary. I say nice things.

BURNETT: Don, do you buy any of it, he sounds so perplexed and truly shocked. I'm a Jew and I went to high school with blacks and Hispanics.

CARROLL: Sixty years ago.

BURNETT: I'm not racist.

LEMON: That he can't be racist because --

BURNETT: I mean, do you buy that he believes he isn't a racist?

LEMON: I think he believes he isn't a racist, but that doesn't mean that you're not a racist.

LUDWIG: That's right.

LEMON: I wrote a column, and I have said this a number of times that the new racism is not knowing that you're racist. Look at Cliven Bundy. He said I'm not a racist. If you can't say boy, if you can't say these things then I'm not racist. People should just get over it and him saying I'm not a racist, but don't bring black people.

LUDWIG: How many people do you think would identify themselves as being prejudiced and racist? They would say I'm justified, right? No one would say that's what I am.

BURNETT: People succeed in making it unacceptable to be those things. That's an achievement by society. So people will never admit they are. It doesn't mean that they aren't. You haven't yet changed the feelings.

LEMON: I might have some bias and some bias about something is a better way to look at it, or maybe I need to re-examine that is probably a better way to look at it than to say I'm not this, correct?

LUDWIG: Right.

CARROLL: But it also makes you wonder, who has really tried to challenge him on this? I mean, we heard when V. Stiviano tried to do that. Remember that? Why it is wrong that I have black people here? You know that I'm part black and he just never really seemed to be able to acknowledge that.

LUDWIG: He chooses his girlfriend because he respected the group she came from.

BURNETT: His girlfriend is Hispanic and black. She is a person of color. So he is dating her, whatever they were doing. Then of course we know that he talked about his players. That he liked to go in the locker room and look at their beautiful black bodies.

LUDWIG: It almost sounds like a slave owner. Look at this body, look at that body.

LEMON: I have no idea what is going on there.

BURNETT: Sort of an obsession -- homo erotic.

LUDWIG: Or these players became an extension of him. I own them. Look how beautiful they are and they are superior. Look at those bodies. So it could be a statement more about himself, really.

CARROLL: We should point out that the players had complained that it was demeaning. And I think what it is he is not looking at the players as people.

LUDWIG: Right.

CARROLL: He is looking at the players as objects and I think that's what is so -- what is so offensive to those who had heard about it.

LEMONS: And when he says you can't -- you can't take someone's property. I know that he is the owner of the team, but to refer to people as -- essentially he is referring to the people on the team as his property when he says that.

LUDWIG: A very vintage mind-set.

BURNETT: Whatever he was doing, again, dating, sleeping with whatever, a person of color, that was very common, right? I give you Thomas Jefferson.

LEMON: You mean among the slave owners? That concept of, you're beneath me, but I'll have sex with you was the way it worked in the American south.

LEMON: You wanted to sleep with, and that was the one you kept. And you didn't talk about it. And the wife knew about it, but no one really said anything. But that was yours and she was the good one, so to speak.

LUDWIG: And in Donald's mind, that may make him not racist. My lover black and Hispanic. So that means that I'm a good person, and I'm not prejudiced. And that's simply not true because people who have racist and prejudiced ideas always can make an exception for one person, but that doesn't change their general feeling about the group.

BURNETT: That's an interesting point. All right, thanks to all of you.

And still to come, did HGTV pull the plug on a new series over anti-gay comments made by one of the hosts? That host and his co-host brother speak exclusively to us OUTFRONT.

And breaking news, more tornadoes hitting the Midwest. We have a live report coming up that the twisters are touching down.

And a bizarre story surrounding a former tennis player's house. A massive fire at this mansion, four people are dead and we have some new breaking details coming in at this hour.


BURNETT: We want to get back to our breaking news and a dangerous line of storms that has spawned at least one tornado in Minnesota, touching down near St. James. Forty seven million people now in the path of the severe weather. Tornado watches in effect across much of the Midwest. I'm going to go to meteorologist, Chad Myers OUTFRONT. So Chad, where is the biggest threat right now? I know we were talking to a storm chaser a few moments ago, talking about how quickly these storms are moving.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You bet, 35, 40 miles per hour, even some spots 45 miles per hour.

The threat all the way from western Minnesota, all the way back down even toward Texas. But biggest threat right here southwestern Minnesota. This is where the storms are all by themselves. They're called super cells.

They go all by themselves. They spin if they want to and that's what we've seen with the past several hours with a cell here not that far from Chanhason, moving up towards Eden Prairie.

Now, the good news, the warning has expired. There were other sales, one red cell there, another one there, another one there. Notice, Erin, they're not lined up like we like them, because that makes them die. Sure they'll make wind if they're lined up, but they can't really make big tornadoes. So, we'll catch them to see if anything else happens with these.

The other area that I'm really concern about, at least a little bit, is farther to the south here, and that's going to be into Des Moines. There is a cell developing just to the south of Des Moines. Warned on it with a severe thunderstorm warning, but it could also begin to rotate there. Notice how there is just one little, two little, all by themselves.

And so, Des Moines, I want you to pay attention to this cell to your southwest, moving your way -- Erin.

BURNETT: And, Chad, so when you're talk about the -- I know we saw pretty dramatic footage of some of the storms that had touched down. Is there the possibility of bigger twisters coming overnight?

MYER: There is, and I think that maybe even moves a little farther to the South, into parts of Oklahoma-Texas, because it's still going to be warm there. But as the cell continues to move in one direction, if it doesn't bump into another cell, it can get bigger all the way to sunset. And out there, that's still another two and a half hours away.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Chad Myers.

And our breaking news coverage continues. Capitol Hill tonight with some big news on Benghazi. The Republican-led House has voted to create a special committee to investigate the Obama administration's response to the attack in Benghazi. That attack, of course, as we reported in our documentary here on this program killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Tensions are high over the panel's division of power. So, here is what it consists of right now: seven Republicans and five Democrats. House Speaker John Boehner calls that separation fair. Democrats, though, say it is not. They have been threatening a boycott, saying they're not going to have equal access to witnesses.

House Democrats will meet in the morning to decide if they will participate. Again, one of the most important things to emphasize in this story is the fact that no one has yet been held accountable for this attack in Benghazi, something that should cause anger on both sides of the aisle.

We also have breaking news in the deadly fire of the million dollar home of former tennis pro James Blake. Authority says a family of four that was renting Blake's Tampa mansion was found dead in the house on Wednesday. All four victims, though, had been shot.

Alina Machado is OUTFRONT.


CALLER: Oh my God. This is so bad. I was walking my dogs, and the house just exploded.

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was this frantic call for help early Wednesday morning that alerted police that something was horribly wrong.

DISPATCHER: OK, do you see flames and smoke?

CALLER: Yes. The house is engulfed in flames, ma'am.

DISPATCHER: Inside this Florida mansion that is owned by tennis great James Blake, authorities found a family of four, dead. Two adults in a room and two teens in two separate rooms, all had been shot. Authorities say Darrin and Kimberly Campbell lived in the house with their children, Megan and Collin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Collin, my grandson was a pretty good ballplayer, and his dad was very active in his support.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The son I was really good friend with him, he hasn't done anything wrong ever. And the daughter, she was beautiful. And their parents were great people. It's just so bad that this happens.

MACHADO: The Campbells had been renting the 5,800-square-foot house from Blake for the past two years, located in the exclusive Avila gated community, a neighborhood where celebrities, including New York Yankee great Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera have owned property.

Police say fireworks were found throughout the home. And this in this surveillance video obtained by CNN, you can see a man believed to be Darrin Campbell inside a Phantom Fireworks Store in Tampa, Florida, on Sunday, buying about $600 worth of fireworks. He walks out of the store with one cart and an employee seems to help him out with the second.

COL. DONNA LUSCZYNSKI, HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: We can also confirm he purchased several gas cans at a local home improvement store that same day. A firearm was recovered in the residence that was registered to Mr. Campbell. MACHADO (on camera): The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office would not elaborate on what they believe may have happen or on a possible motive, but they are saying they are not searching for a suspect.

Alina Machado, CNN, Miami.


BURNETT: Thanks, Alina.

Well, OUTFRONT next, HGTV is suddenly cancelling one of its new shows. Were the hosts' religious beliefs the reason?

And journalists gone wild. Jeanne Moos has the story.


BURENTT: All right. Let's check with Anderson Cooper with a look what's coming up on "AC360".


Yes, we're keeping them honest tonight on the program. It appears the V.A. health care scandal is widening. It's a story our Drew Griffin has been on since the very beginning. Now, a House panel has subpoenaed V.A. Secretary Shinseki for documents. Plus, Drew has uncovered new allegations of delays in care at another V.A. hospital. A whistle-blower in that case coming forward for the very first time. We'll have the latest on that.

Plus, more on the Donald Sterling controversy. With the first time, we hear how his estranged wife Shelly plans to keep the team. You've been reporting on this, Erin.

I'll speak with NBA Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor who says he experienced Sterling's racist behavior firsthand, even suing Sterling for his, quote, "plantation-type mentality."

Those stories tonight and today's "Ridiculist" and a whole lot more at the top of the hour, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Anderson, we'll look forward to it. Seeing you in just a few minutes.

Well, tonight HGTV is cancelling a new reality TV series. The hosts are brothers David and Jason Benham. And they say that their faith cost them the job. They're both my exclusive tonight. And I'm going to talk to them in just a moment.

But, first, we want to explain the situation. HGTV pulled the plug on their home renovation series "Flip It Forward", most likely because of a controversial report on the Web site Right Wing Watch. That labeled David Benham as an anti-gay, anti-choice extremist. It included video of David protesting outside an abortion clinics, and comments where he likened the fight against marriage equality to opposing Nazi Germany.

Earlier, we spoke with Drew Courtney, who edits the Right Wing Watch blog and asked him why his organization thought it was relevant to release this information about the Benham family.


DREW COURTNEY, RIGHT WING WATCH: They've made a career of actively opposing in really ugly language and ugly rhetoric a lot of issues that Americans care about. There is a debate in this country about how we talk about gay people and marriage equality in this country.

But I don't think that people believe that people -- that those who believe in marriage equality are like the Nazis. There is a debate about how we talk about choice. And yet I don't think people believe, as the Benham brothers do, that Roe v. Wade is a tool of the devil.

Those are really disturbing things. And I think that those are relevant when we consider whether someone deserves a giant platform like a show on HGTV or any major network.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT tonight, the brothers who were supposed to host "Flip It Forward" on HGTV, Jason and David Benham. This is their first interview since finding out their show was canceled.

All right. David, let me come straight to you. What's your reaction to what you just heard?

DAVID BENHAM, HOST OF SHOW HGTV CANCELLED: Well, my initial reaction is that, you know, I'm just thankful that we live in a country where a gentleman like this can write this on Right Wing Watch and say what he wants to say. But the problem is you've got to tell the truth. The comments, I've never talked about Nazi Germany. The comments that he brought on to his Web site, he pulled in quotes from my dad and quotes from other places, and basically, ran a smear campaign.

But the real issue at hand here is that there is an agenda that seeks to silence men and women of faith who if we want to voice our beliefs or voice our views, then, you know, we shouldn't be -- we shouldn't be afraid of losing our livelihood and other things like this.

So, you know, I'm so thankful for the fact that HGTV did give us an opportunity. Have I never said anything specifically about homosexuals as people, Muslims or anything like this. We love all people. I love homosexuals, I love Islam, Muslims. And my brother and I would never discriminate, never have and we never would be.

BURNETT: All right. I want to play in just a moment one thing that you did say yourself, David. But first, let me ask you, Jason. Why do you think, did HGTV tell you why they canceled the show? Did they say we're cancelling because of this blog posted this, and we think that you guys are anti-homosexual and so, we don't want you on the channel?

JASON BENHAM, HOST OF SHOW HGTV CANCELLED: Well, when I heard you say that we said that our faith is what cost us this show, that's just not the truth. HG never said that.

We actually felt really bad for hg that they were pushed into this position. They simply said that we need to part ways.

BURNETT: But did they tell you why?

J. BENHAM: They did not.

BURNETT: They didn't. So, obviously, we're all -- we all know it's this blog.

OK. So, let's get to what exactly they said because, David, I heard you point. Some of those things, the Nazi Germany reference came from your father. I think most people would say no one should be judged by what their parents do. They should be judged by what they themselves say.

So, let me play something that you said back in September of 2012.


D. BENHAM: If 87 percent of Americans are Christians, and yet we have abortion on demand, we have no-fault divorce, we have pornography and perversion, we have a homosexuality agenda that is attacking the nation --


BURNETT: Do you still stand by that? The homosexuality and the agenda that is attacking the nation?

D. BENHAM: If you continue to play that out, you will see that I talked about all of these other things, and that the church has remained silent and just sat and built big churches. And one of the things that's important is that never have I ever spoken against homosexuals as individuals and gone against them. I speak about an agenda.

And that's really what the point of this, is that there is an agenda that is seeking to silence the voices of men and women of faith. And that's what -- and that's what all this is about.

Absolutely I believe that any sex outside of marriage, no matter what kind of sex it is, is just not healthy for human flourishing and before God. I think it's just a very important thing that we just set the record straight. I'm grateful for the opportunity to say directly to the camera that we love homosexuals, and we love Muslims, and we have absolutely nothing against the people.

BURNETT: Well, I don't want to get into --

D. BENHAM: But we will not stand there is a difference between the people and an agenda.

BURNETT: All right. But let me ask you about that, so people can understand exactly where you stand on this because, you know, you say you love homosexuals. But if they -- a homosexual told you I want to get married to the person that I love, and that person is a man, and I'm a man, are you then OK with that?

D. BENHAM: I would not be OK with that type of action because in the Scripture it's very clear that that would honor God, nor is it good for human flourishing. It does not mean that I hate the person at all.

As a matter of fact, I have very many times Jason has called me out on some things that I haven't done that he felt was right and I thought were wrong or I thought was right and vice versa.

J. BENHAM: I actually has to do that more than he has to do that to me.

D. BENHAM: But just because we say that an action is not right does not mean we do not love the person. And that's what this is really all about. Is do we have the right to say that certain actions are right or wrong?

BURNETT: Well, some people, of course, might say if you love the person, you wouldn't deny them the right to be fulfilled as a human being. That's the other side of the view here, of course, as you know.

But, Jason, let me ask you this question. Hold on, David. I want to ask Jason about this, because HGTV, the network, right, is a network that has several openly gay personalities on the air. It often features gay and lesbian families in its programming. I'm showing the openly gay, David Bromstad, Vern Yip and John Gidding.

Are you surprise that they would act this way given what your brother said?

J. BENHAM: No, absolutely not. And we wouldn't expect them to do otherwise. HG had an opportunity to vet us and when they a year and a half ago saw some of the footage where my brother was saying the things he was saying, they spoke with us. They got to know us a little better, and then they made a judgment call recognizing that David and I had no hate in our heart for anyone.

And we'd been running a successful real estate company for the last 11 years. And we help all people there is no discrimination. And we love all people.

BURNETT: So, you're saying they knew -- they knew that you had had a conversation, HGTV, you do a Google search, you can find the background of what you said, David. It's not hard.

So, you're saying that you had a conversation, HGTV knew, and it was this blog making it public that made them cancel the show.

J. BENHAM: Sure.

D. BENHAM: My comments came at a prayer service where I was calling the church to repent of our own sins in the church at a local event in 2012.

And HGTV is a very smart network. They vetted us very well. They saw the comments. They spoke to us. We met with one of the executives in person.

And after they saw that there was no hate in our heart toward anyone, there is no ill intent in our heart toward anyone, they said --

BURNETT: So, aren't you angry? Because HGTV, we (AUDIO GAP) should your show be canceled because of this? And our viewers are really split down the middle, 52 percent said yes, your show should have been cancelled, 48 percent said no.

Aren't you angry at HGTV, you had a heart to heart with them, you got through this, and then the blog comes out and then they run for cover?

J. BENHAM: Not at all. Our heart breaks for HGTV. We had such a great relationship with them, and we still do with several of folks there. Our heart breaks for them.

The same thing that happens all the time when one view is able to be put out there but then if you represent what we believe would be pro-family, the pro-family view, you're not allowed to have that anymore. And I believe that HG was pushed into this.

But we have nothing but love and admiration for the folks at HG.

D. BENHAM: We felt like HG was bullied. We felt that HG knew who we were, they believed in us, they believed in our show and our expertise in real estate. They were willing to take a chance with us and we were putting out some great footage. We're half way through filming and it got cut off.

But when this -- all of this media firestorm happened around some of my comments, it was too much for them to bear and they had to make a decision. But we absolutely respect HGTV and we love really those folks and admire them.

BURNETT: David --

J. BENHAM: They had programming. And the only regret that I would have -- I'm sorry.

BURNETT: I'm sorry. I was just thanking you very much for coming, both of you. We appreciate your time.

D. BENHAM: All right, thank you for having us.

BURNETT: All right. And still to come, the latest in the fast food wars. What Burger King thinks you want for breakfast for real.

And journalists brawling on TV for real. I can't wait to tell you what this fight was about.


BURNETT: A lot can happen on live television. Here is Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Why is it always the furniture that has to suffer -- take the latest brawl.

Two guests arguing about Syria on Jordanian TV.

(on camera): Whoa! First thing, what a cheap set. That would never happen on one of our sets.

OK, continue.

(voice-over): Each man saying, you started it. One guy even tried to kick the other. It was like "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" -- minus the place settings and cutlery.

When (INAUDIBLE) on Adam Corolla's old show, it was the coffee table that took the brunt of brute force.

Although the coffee table got its revenge by cutting Stevo's leg.

But more often with on-set brawls, the chairs are in danger.

From Al Sharpton to Russian oligarchs -- one billionaire punching out another. Then the poor chair ends up as collateral damage.

Like the time sportscaster Jim Rome kept referring to quarterback Jim Everett as a girl, calling him Chris Everett.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You probably won't say it again.




MOOS: Occasionally, the chair gets the final word, for instance, when Roy Innis, the same one who decked Al Sharpton, went after a white supremacist on the Geraldo show, chairs went flying and one of them broke Geraldo's nose.

Slaps probably cause the least damage to man and furniture. The slap causes cultural lines from Letterman to Indian TV. Watch the combatants grapple as they pass the hapless host.

The least on set weapons? Water -- though since convicted murderer Joran van der Sloot once threw wine and hit a reporter's eyes. Throwing a shoe doesn't hurt anyone, just the desk.

Then, this Jordanian lawmaker pull a gun, give us a break. But instead, they usually just go to one.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BURNETT: It began and ended with Jordan.

All right. OUFRONT next, beef -- oh, for breakfast.


BURNETT: Fast food breakfast wars are heating up. All the major chains trying to get you in their stores in the morning. McDonald's with free coffee, saying it's going to extend the breakfast hours. Taco Bell has introduced a waffle taco.

And Burger King has something more dramatic in mind, which brings me to tonight's number -- 5,000 the number of Burger Kings that will now offer, quote, "burgers at breakfast." The chain's new early morning breakfast menu will include whoppers, cheeseburgers, French fries and apple pie.

That's right, you don't have to wait until 11:00 a.m. to have it your way now. I'm not really sure we need to have burgers at 6:00 a.m. I mean, there's always a college contingent who want late night, or what we call early morning burgers. But for the rest of us, we don't need fast food burgers, if we want to have a long life, never mind, at 6:00 a.m.

Anderson Cooper starts now.