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Donald Sterling Breaks His Silence; Escaped Nigerian Schoolgirl Speaks Out

Aired May 12, 2014 - 08:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. It's Monday, May 12th, 8:00 in the East.

We have a CNN exclusive for you. The owner of the L.A. Clippers says he's sorry but it isn't all his fault. Donald Sterling sat down only with CNN, specifically Anderson Cooper, to discussion the racist comments that got him banned from the NBA. He says he can't believe he said it and his only explanation really is that the woman who recorded those comments made him do it.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson is here and he's going to talk about the sit-down in just a moment. But, first, here is some of what sterling had to say, including another controversial swipe at Magic Johnson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD STERLING, L.A. CLIPPERS OWNER: I'm a good member who made a mistake, and I'm apologizing and I'm asking for forgiveness. Am I entitled to one mistake after 35 years? I mean, I love my league, my partners. Am I entitled to one mistake? It's a terrible mistake and I'll never do it again.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, AC360: The vice president of the NBA Players Association, Roger Mason, he said that the players won't accept anyone in the Sterling family owning the Clippers. Not you, not your wife, not your son-in-law, not your daughter. Do you believe that?

STERLING: I really don't know that people that are going to decide my fate I think are -- not the media, not the players, but the NBA.

COOPER: The owners?

STERLING: Pardon me?

COOPER: The owners?

STERLING: The owners. If the owners feel I deserve another chance, then they'll give it to me.

COOPER: But there is a path for you to fight their decision, isn't there?

STERLING: Of course, but if you fight with my partners. What at the end of the -- at the end of the road, what do I benefit? Especially at my age. If they fight with me and they spend millions and I spend millions, let's say I win or they win, I just don't know if that's important.

COOPER: Why wait so long to apologize? It's been a couple weeks, you could have come out --

STERLING: Well, that's a very good question, I just -- I'm so emotional distraught. And the reason it's hard for me, very hard for me, is that I'm wrong. I caused the problem. I don't know how to correct it.

COOPER: Do you trust people? I mean --

STERLING: I do.

COOPER: There are a couple phone recordings just in the past week of people who talked to you on the phone who seems to be your voice who sold it to Radar Online or TMZ? And I hear that, and I think, do you have anyone you trust around you?

STERLING: I don't give interviews. The only one that I know that I talked to was Magic Johnson.

COOPER: You have talked to him?

STERLING: Twice.

COOPER: Did you apologize?

STERLING: He knew the girl, he said. He knew the girl well.

COOPER: Did you apologize to him?

STERLING: Well, if I said anything wrong, I'm sorry. He's a good person, and he -- what am I going to say?

Has he done everything he can do to help minorities? I don't think so. I'll say it. I'll say it. You know, he's great. But I just don't think is a good example for the children of Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CUOMO: Wow. Let's bring in Anderson Cooper, and we have Greg Anthony who's going to join us in a little bit, also.

Anderson, people will want to know, do you believe he's fully aware of what he's saying? These are his words. It's not what his wife is talking about, like early onset dementia. What was your take?

COOPER: He's fully aware of what he was saying. I don't know him obviously as well as Shelly Sterling does. He seems totally competent. I mean, he's -- you can have conversations with him. He makes complete sense.

You know, do things ramble sometimes? Sure, but as they do in any conversation. I didn't notice anything that would indicate -- I mean, nothing that made me give pause to having this interview with him to putting him on the air certainly.

BOLDUAN: One of the many surprising things in this interview is what he says about Magic Johnson. I mean, I know you followed up about what he's said and why he's saying it. What does he seek to gain by taking on Magic Johnson in this interview?

COOPER: You know, he -- he has a lot more to say about Magic Johnson. I will say that, a lot more to say. That caught me by surprise. He said that he had had two conversations with Magic Johnson. I think he feels Magic wanted to buy the team or had an interest in buying the team which is publicly known.

I think he -- there is some resentment there for that. I mean, the reason I initially brought up Magic Johnson was obviously because Donald Sterling brought him up in the first tape. I hadn't realized that according to him they had had the conversations, and I think what he says is the content of those conversations led him to kind of have a negative impression.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: It surprised me, Anderson, and wonder if it did you, he seems sort of shocked that people would think -- he thinks he's misunderstood.

COOPER: Well, he does. I mean, look, he is -- he says repeatedly how apologetic he is. That was a huge thrust obviously of this interview. That's clearly something he wanted to get across.

He says he's not making excuses for himself, that he blames himself. He said these things, they were stupid things to say. He claims that they are not things that he would normally say, they're not things he said in the past.

Obviously, this is a guy who does have a track record. We talked a lot about it, the lawsuit Elgin Baylor filed against him, some of the claims that Elgin Baylor made in the lawsuit, the plantation mentality are echoed in the conversation with V. Stiviano. He certainly things he was goaded by V. Stiviano. He feels betrayed by her.

You know, I had met them together a week ago. They were in the same room together. He said that was the last time they had seen each other.

He clearly feels she was not there -- I think he clearly feels she had some involvement in getting out this tape.

CUOMO: Just a huge qualifier on the apology, also. I mean, let's be honest.

Let's bring in Greg Anthony, CNN political commentator and former NBA great, Turner Sports analyst. When you say you're sorry, you already have deep water to travel because of the kinds of things he says. Then to say you're baited into it, does it completely erase the value?

GREG ANTHONY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it does in this case. First and foremost, it's hard to apologize for what's going to be perceived to be what you feel in your heart. You know, that -- a lot of people are going to look at this and being disingenuous, in part because he's only apologizing because most people feel he has to.

You know, I think, also, fascinating, watching the excerpt of the interview is that (AUDIO GAP) also tell he's not a person that's really comfortable with the media. He talked about that in your interview where he said I don't give interviews. I think that came across, that's why his comment about the apology and the swipe at Magic and all those other things --

CUOMO: How about the swipe at Magic? Obviously, intrigue going on in Donald Sterling's mind about Magic. What's your sense, Anderson, about how many different roads lead to Magic Johnson in his life?

COOPER: Yes, it seems -- I mean, I think -- I'm not quite clear on exactly what his beef is. I mean, I know what he will say tonight and tomorrow, I can guarantee people are going to be talking a lot more about what he says about Magic Johnson.

BOLDUAN: To say the very least.

Now, what -- where do you think Shelly Sterling plays into this? She speaks with Barbara Walters. She says that she believes he's suffering from early onset of dementia, also says she's been trying to divorce him, working to divorce him for 20 years.

COOPER: He refers to her as his ex-wife.

BOLDUAN: He does?

COOPER: Yes.

BOLDUAN: But she's still producing papers --

COOPER: Well, they're still married. But he acknowledges they're going to get divorced.

BOLDUAN: What role does she play in this?

ANTHONY: That's a fascinating one. I'm not really sure. I think her angle to some extent is she wants to have ownership of the team.

BOLDUAN: At the expense of him? Is she ready to toss --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: You know what I mean?

ANTHONY: Yes, but I think also -- CUOMO: She's not recognized as an owner.

ANTHONY: No, she's not. That's going to be a big sticking point for her moving forward.

COOPER: It's a trust that owns the team, she's in, two of his kids are in. It's a family owned trust. There are sticky issues about kind of what's -- if they end up in divorce court and their property is separated, she could get 50 percent of the value of that.

ANTHONY: That's what's important. We lose sight -- remember, this is a franchise. As is the case with any kind of franchise, there are certain guidelines and bylaws you have to adhere to. It has nothing to do with it. She may want to.

But the reality, because of the public perception, because this has been a PR nightmare both for the Sterlings, for the Clippers and for our league, there's no way that's going to happen. Plus, we're also in an era where the players are partners with the league.

I was vice president of our players association as well. We worked hard to create that kind of environment. Adam Silver has also done a terrific job in bolstering that. So, they're not going to do anything from an owners' standpoint that's in essence tick off the players and put them in a situation where they had to become combatants --

PEREIRA: Well, to that end, Anderson, did you talk about the players as individuals? Because he keeps saying I love these people, I love these men, et cetera, et cetera. Do you have any -- were you able to get anything out of him about that?

COOPER: Yes, we talked for an hour, an hour or 20 minutes or so. So, we covered pretty much everything.

You k now, look, this is a very smart guy in a lot of ways who has a track record of going up against the NBA and getting his way. He brought the team from San Diego to Los Angeles as I understand against the wishes of the NBA. He was sued by the NBA before, he countersued, a deal was struck.

So, I think he feels -- we heard him say it's up to the owners to decide my fate. I think he still believes he has a hand in his fate.

BOLDUAN: Do you think he did himself more harm than good in the interview?

COOPER: I think it's important for him -- I'm very up front with anyone I interview, I think it's important for him to get his voice out there, to have V. Stiviano be the person representing you in the public sphere is not what I would recommend for anybody. So -- or to have people who are selling tapes to TMZ and Radar Online be the people who are giving your voice to the public? What I said to him is, look, I think you need 20 sit down and just speak from your heart and tell us what you feel.

ANTHONY: Isn't it odd that no one has come to his defense in terms of his character? No one of color, no women, no other religious backgrounds, no one has come out and defended his character. I find that to be a little odd as well in terms of someone trying to make the case that he's not a racist. Isn't that a bit ironic that no one stood up and really said that for him?

COOPER: I will say, I was surprised there wasn't more people around him. Oftentimes we go to situations, there's a media team, there's lawyers. There's not a lot of people I mean --

CUOMO: He said won't I be forgiven this one mistake. I think what we're seeing is the straw on the camel's back metaphor than it is this first flash point of behavior.

And I think that probably feeds in to what you found or didn't find when you went to see who is around him?

COOPER: Yes, I think the reason this has become such a big thing is it certainly -- if this was the first time anybody at heard this or thought this of Donald Sterling, that would be one thing. The Elgin Baylor lawsuit, we talked about plantation mentality. I talked to him about that, and the housing discrimination lawsuits which were settled which he never admitted any guilt to.

CUOMO: But, look, I think this is a great conversation because it's about so much more than Donald Sterling. Yes, he's an interesting character. No question. Gives a lot of satisfaction that you brought this to us --

BOLDUAN: But finally hearing his voice.

CUOMO: It will be important, because this is a culture flash point moment that we're going through right now. This is something that happens a lot, gets dealt with very rarely in any real way. We're seeing it play out in real time. You brought us the main voice at the center of it.

Thank you very much to you, Anderson Cooper.

BOLDUAN: Good turnaround for you. So, thank you.

CUOMO: And the best news, this is only the beginning. They spoke for over an hour and 20 minutes. There's so much in here for you to unpack if you care about the situation.

And please tonight watch Anderson's full exclusive interview with that man, Donald Sterling, 8:00 p.m. on "AC360," of course, only here on the CNN.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, guys.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, we're learning of new video of the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls as CNN hears from one of the girls who managed to escape the kidnapping. What a story she has to tell. We're going to talk with CNN's correspondent about how dangerous it was just getting there to speak to her to make sure the world can hear her story. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PERIERA: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

We are following breaking news. New video from the militant group Boko Haram reportedly showing dozens of the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls converting to Islam. The leader of the group says in the video he's willing to exchange those school girls for Boko Haram prisoners.

This development comes amid a CNN exclusive interview with one of the young girls who managed to escape during the mass abduction.

CNN's Nima Elbagir, her pronounced Lillian Leposo and cameraman Nick Midway traveled for four days through dangerous back roads where just a day before gunfire was exchanged between police and the terror group. Nima is the first international reporter to reach the town where those girls were kidnapped.

Nima Elbagir is in Abuja, Nigeria, to tell us about this harrowing order and what she knows -- Nima.

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Michaela, I think what we took away from the trip, it was a tough one, I'm not going to lie, is how difficult the reality must be for those -- for whom they cede their little daily existence. It was tough, tough terrain, extraordinarily insecure.

The people who were supposed to be guarding us, the police, the military who were supposed to be escorting us, even they didn't want to go, which only gives you a sense of what it must be like for the people on the ground, if they're supposed to be guiding, if they're unwilling to go into that Boko Haram heartland where Chibok is entered.

Stepping toe girls, they are still very much living with the terror of that night, Michaela.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is that road few are now willing to travel. Attacks by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram are constant in this part of Nigeria, but what happened in Chibok put the world on notice.

(on camera): In here, in these rooms are where the girls were sleeping when armed men in what they described as military uniforms came to their dormitory gate and told that they've come to protect them. The girls started to assemble in the yard as order to, and they realized who the men really were and it was too late.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said, OK, we enter this lawn.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): This girl managed to escape. She's now too fearful to show her face. Too fearful to go back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A big lorry.

ELBAGIR: A big lorry?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

ELBAGIR: They came with a big lorry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

ELBAGIR: Was it one or more?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seven.

ELBAGIR: Seven lorries?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Trucks, motor bikes, residents here tell us this was effectively a shopping trip for Boko Haram. Over 200 girls dragged from their beds to be sold off as bounty -- a message that the edicts on female education must be heeded. But a way also for big men with guns to make money off of terrified girls.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If it it's in Chibok, I'll never go back.

ELBAGIR (on camera): You'll never go back to school?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

ELBAGIR: Because they made you afraid?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Before the militants left, they destroyed everything they could -- textbooks, the library, the laboratory, their attempt to forever shutter this school.

Elizabeth Mary (ph) and friends, members of the same church, their daughters were also friends, hoping to one day study medicine. They and many of their classmates never made it home from school.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are pleading with them to leave our daughters. We don't have power to do anything that requires power.

ELBAGIR: They say they still feel powerless, no closer to finding their daughters, nearly a month after they were taken.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ELBAGIR: The details that we heard were extraordinarily chilling. It sounded like this convoy, seven lorries, pickup trucks, motorcycle riders, to round up any girls that pick up girls that crossed country, openly, brazenly. No wonder people are still so terrified, Michaela.

PEREIRA: That girl managing to escape, you can hear the fear in her voice.

Nima, so this video that we believe is from Boko Haram saying they have these girls, it looks like there's a group of 100 or more of them, what are we able to learn or is there anything we're able to learn from that new video?

ELBAGIR: Well, again, it speaks to the comfort of Boko Haram in this territory. You can see these girls are not herded away under ground, they're not hidden away. They're somewhere outdoors openly. And they're together.

A lot of people were speculating, a lot of Nigerian intelligence was speculating there was no way Boko Haram could pull this off, they would have to break the girls up into little girls. There are over 100 girls in that picture.

I can't even imagine what they're going through. Even speaking to the girl that we interviewed when she describes being herded like cattle onto that lorry and now being hided (ph) and watch over him, forcibly converted, forced to recite the Koranic verses. And you can tell from the tenor of their voice that they have the force to say that they where they're supposed to be.

It's just unthinkable for their families. We know family members are watching that video very closely, Michaela, hoping their daughters will show up.

PEREIRA: Absolutely. Nima, I know this was a difficult story for you to get to, you, your producer and cameraman faced very dangerous conditions going in to tell this very, very important story. Give us an idea. I mean, you even said some from the security guys didn't want to go in there with you.

ELBAGIR: Security guards, drivers, military police, nobody wants to go into that epicenter. I think that's why people there feel so abandoned. For those of us outside of this, you see all these pledges of support from the U.S., from the U.K., from the U.N., you think something must have been being done and you get there under this specter that any moment in that fixed scrub, the savanna that surrounds those dirt tracts, you don't know who is out there.

I think that's why all of us on the team really felt it was important to go, because until we got there, you wouldn't believe that so little help is reaching these people, so little is being done.

PEREIRA: You've been doing so much to bring faces and voices to this story for us, Nima, and I know you put your own life and your crew -- you've all put your lives in danger by telling this story. We appreciate the reporting. Thank you so much.

Chris, Kate?

CUOMO: All right, Mick.

Coming up on NEW DAY, the Donald Sterling exclusive. He says he's sorry. He says he won't fight losing the team, kind of. But is talk cheap? We're going to ask legal experts what will really happen next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Welcome back.

Turning now to that big CNN exclusive, Clippers owner Donald Sterling says he and his team are family.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STERLING: They are Clippers in their mind and I'm theirs. That's how I feel. I would do anything for them. I made a mistake.

I hope it's in their heart to forgive me for that mistake. I don't know why the girl had me say those things.

COOPER: You're saying you were set up.

STERLING: Well, yes, I was baited. That's not the way I talk.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: I was baited. It's not the way I talk. Laying the blame for the racist remarks on the woman who recorded them, V. Stiviano.

All right. What does this all mean for what's going to happen with the team? That's the real issue.

Let's bring in David Cornwell. He's a sports attorney and a partner from Gordon & Reese LLP.