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@THISHOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Donald Sterling Interview With Anderson Cooper; Shelly Sterling Speaks About Her Husband; Karl Rove Suggests Hillary Clinton Has Brain Injury
Aired May 13, 2014 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN HOST: It is the interview that has thrown lighter fluid on the Donald Sterling controversy. His mea culpa morphed into an attack on Magic Johnson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD STERLING, L.A. CLIPPERS OWNER: What has he done?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, "AC 360": He's a business person. He --
D. STERLING: He's got AIDS.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Then this video shows the girls abducted in Nigeria last month, right? Well, not according to some of the parents looking for their children.
PEREIRA: Plus, Jay-Z has 99 problems and it looks like his sister-in- law might be one.
BERMAN: Hello, everyone. I'm John Berman.
PEREIRA: And I'm Michaela Pereira, those stories and much more, right now, @ THIS HOUR.
BERMAN: So Donald Sterling had a chance to ask forgiveness when he talked to CNN and maybe at least attempt to salvage his reputation.
He might have been trying to do that. Frankly it's hard to tell because the exact opposite has happened.
PEREIRA: How can you trash Magic Johnson, I think, could be the most shocking part to many people.
It moved the NBA commissioner to apologize on behalf of the league and promise to fast track Sterling's removal. Even shocked Los Angelinos who are saying don't judge us by this guy.
Steve Lopez from "The L.A. Times" writes, quote, "L.A. can't afford to have a silly rabbit and a couple of daffy ducks on the loose making national headlines like this. Here's more now from that interview with Anderson Cooper.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
D. STERLING: What has he done? Can you tell me? Big Magic Johnson, what has he done?
COOPER: He's a business person. He --
D. STERLING: He's got AIDS. Did he do any business -- I'd like -- did he help anybody in South L.A.?
COOPER: I think he has HIV. He doesn't actually have fun-blown AIDS.
D. STERLING: What kind of guy goes to every city, has sex with every girl, then catches HIV? Is that someone we want to respect and tell our kids about?
I think he should be ashamed of himself. I think he should go into the background.
But what does he do for the black people? Doesn't do anything. You call up and say --
COOPER: He's opened a lot of businesses in inner-city neighborhoods.
D. STERLING: The Jewish people have a company, and it's for people who want to borrow money at no interest. They want to give them a fishing pole.
We want to help people. If they don't have money, we'll loan it to you. You don't have interest? One day you'll pay us back.
I'm just telling you. He does nothing. It's all talk.
COOPER: So you're saying that African-Americans don't contribute to African-American communities as much as Jewish people?
D. STERLING: There's no African-American -- never mind. I'm sorry. You know, they all want to play golf with me. Everybody wants to be with me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PEREIRA: Sports attorney David Cornwell is here along with our Stephanie Elam in Los Angeles. Good to have you both here.
David, I've got to talk to you about this, because I think it was so mind-boggling. I was talking to the screen. I don't know if you were, but I was talking to the television screen last night.
If his goal was to improve his image, hash tag fail.
DAVID CORNWELL, SPORTS ATTORNEY: Big fail. You can't dig yourself out of a hole. His comments were just outrageous. While Donald Sterling has been taking out look-at-me ads in "The L.A. Times," Magic Johnson -- Earvin Johnson -- has been making a difference, 150 kids on scholarship because of his foundation, countless entrepreneurs, professional athletes and other professionals motivated by him.
Magic walk across the room at a restaurant once, came over, shook my hand and said you're doing a good job. I tell you what, he made a difference for this black attorney.
BERMAN: But apparently blacks want to play golf with Donald Sterling.
CORNWELL: Donald Sterling can't be a spokesperson for the black community, the Jewish community or anyone. This man is delusional.
BERMAN: Stephanie, let's talk more about that, because you are in L.A. You have been looking into this.
Magic Johnson, he's done a lot for a lot of people over a lot of years.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And he is very well loved.
The day that Magic Johnson announced that he had HIV, I will never forget. I was in college in swim practice, so I was literally underwater when the news broke.
When I came out on campus at Howard University, it was silent across campus in a packed ding hall. It was silent. People were moved by this.
What Magic could have done is crawled into a hole and disappeared and just gone and acted like that was it. Instead what he did is he started his foundation.
He became a very savvy businessman, and he's worth $500 million but he's had such big dealings bringing businesses to areas that were underserved and saying there's money here to be made.
Let me show you. You can put a business in South L.A. You can put a business in Harlem. He's made it work for him.
Why he is the target from Donald Sterling? I would imagine is because he's a larger-than-life person and also he was a part owner of the Lakers for a while and just the fact that people love him.
He seemed very bothered to find out that Magic was at that game that night that afternoon when Anderson interviewed him.
PEREIRA: Well, and we know that he's going to be sitting down with Anderson. Magic's going to be sitting down with Anderson tonight. We'll tell you more about that coming up.
But it's so interesting, David, Stephanie talking about remembering that moment. I think many of us do. That was gigantic news. And what he has done since then for HIV and AIDS, yet what Sterling does is take us back 25 years to an outdated idea, an outdated version, of what AIDS and HIV means.
CORNWELL: Donald Sterling sees the HIV that the man carries and not the man who carries HIV.
I see dignity and hope. Every day that Magic wakes up, he gives hope to other carriers of the virus because of the way that he's carried himself.
He has been part of the process of taking that from a death sentence to a chronic illness. It's just amazing.
BERMAN: And let's just be clear. If Sterling's goal was rehabilitation, the commissioner of the NBA, who you would think he would want to curry favor with, has now said I feel compelled on behalf of the NBA family to apologize to Magic Johnson that he continues to be dragged into this situation and degraded by such a malicious and personal attack.
It's not working, whatever Sterling is trying to do here.
CORNWELL: It's a wrap, game, set, match. It's over.
ELAM: And also when you take a look at it, he's targeted Magic in each of the recordings that we've heard, right? So we have the sit-down interview with Anderson. We have that first tape that came out that he's admitted was him.
The second one that we don't know who he's talking about but he somehow implies that Magic is somehow behind it, although it doesn't sound like Magic on the tape.
All three times that we heard from Donald Sterling, he has talked about Magic. Now, Magic to, I guess -- it almost feels like he needs to defend himself, because he did make some lofty claims, Donald Sterling did, about Magic, that he basically told him to wait for a week. Don't worry. I'm going to help you.
So these are interesting things. So I'm sure Magic wants to clear up his name here.
But he keeps bringing him up into this conversation when really this isn't about him. It's about Donald Sterling's behavior.
So I'm sure Magic feels like, look, I need to clear it up. In fact, he had two tweets during this interview while it was going on, I'm sure he was getting inundated with tweets, where Magic did say, I'd rather be focusing on these playoffs game than a Donald Sterling interview.
And he said after tomorrow -- meaning, today -- this interview with Anderson Cooper, that he's going back to playoffs. He is done talking about Donald Sterling. So it'll be interesting to hear what he has to tell Anderson tonight.
PEREIRA: We're looking forward to that. That's tonight, Steph.
And, David, we ask you to both stick around, because there's more to talk about. We want to talk about aspect of ownership, Sterling's wife, how the NBA is responding.
Shelly Sterling for her part is actually weighing in this morning with new comments you'll want to hear. She says she thinks her husband has dementia.
And don't forget Magic will sit down with Anderson Cooper tonight, "AC 360," at 8:00 Eastern.
Want to give you a look at some other headlines that are happening @ THIS HOUR.
Really an unbelievable scene in New Hampshire, a house literally explodes in a fireball on live TV. Just moments before that massive explosion, police say a man in the home shot and killed a police officer.
The officer was responding to a domestic disturbance call. The man who shot the officer is believed to have died in that fire. The officer who was killed leaves behind a wife and two teenage daughters.
BERMAN: Two miners in West Virginia are dead this morning after getting trapped inside a mine. The federal government now conducting an investigation, at this point they say it was a ground failure, which means there was some type of small earthquake or landslide. The Boone County mine has a history of safety violations.
PEREIRA: Sad and bizarre story to tell you, former American Idol Clay Aiken's opponent in North Carolina, the congressional race primary, has died. The local paper reports that Keith Crisco died after a fall at his home.
Aiken led Crisco by fewer than 400 votes after last week's Democratic primary, deemed too close to call. Aiken released a statement calling his 71-year-old opponent a good and honorable man and an extraordinary public servant.
BERMAN: So a big, odd question at this hour, where is Casey Kasem? The legendary deejay and actor is missing. His daughter Kerri says a judge has ordered an investigation into his whereabouts.
She's afraid her stepmother Jean took her father and left the country after a judge put Kerri in charge of his health care. Casey Kasem has Parkinson's disease and his wife and children have been feuding over visitation.
Our Bill Weir speaks with Kasem's children tonight at 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN.
All right, coming up for us, wait until you hear what Shelly Sterling is now saying about her perhaps estranged husband, his stunning interview on CNN.
He's not a racist, she says. He's got dementia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: For a lot of people, these comments that were caught on tape do echo other charges made in past, as you know, by Elgin Baylor, in other lawsuits
D. STERLING: No, no, no, no, no. You're trying to connect them.
COOPER: No, I'm not.
D. STERLING: Elgin Baylor has nothing to do with what the things I said 20 years later. What did it have to do?
COOPER: Elgin Baylor made a claim that you had a plantation mentality, and now in this thing you're saying you feed these guys, you --
D. STERLING: I think you have more of a plantation mentality than I do. You know what? I think you're more of a racist than I am --
COOPER: How so?
D. STERLING: -- because I am not a racist. And I have never been a racist and I'll never be a racist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: That was L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling talking to our own Anderson Cooper who, by the way, is not a racist.
Sterling's perhaps estranged wife, Shelly, is also speaking out on this. Listen to her new reaction to this interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHELLY STERLING, DONALD STERLING'S WIFE: I felt bad for him.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS: Really?
S. STERLING: Yeah, because he's not the man I know, or I knew. There's something wrong.
GUTHRIE: What do you think is wrong with him? Do you think there's something wrong with his mental faculties or is there something wrong with the sentiments he has in his heart?
S. STERLING: I really think, personally, he has dementia.
GUTHRIE: I think some people have a hard time understanding, did this happen overnight?
S. STERLING: No, I don't think it happened overnight. I think it's been happening, but nobody really knew the reason.
I mean, he gets crazy and yells and screams and hollers one moment. The next moment, he'll be talking about something else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PEREIRA: Sports attorney David Cornwell is back with us, along with our Stephanie Elam in Los Angeles.
So, David, Shelly Sterling thinks her husband has dementia. Is this something that could even be a defense, and to that end, does Shelly have a case here in terms of keeping the team?
CORNWELL: She really doesn't. Even before the interview she had no hope in keeping the team because of the constitution and bylaws for the NBA.
But whatever is more hopeless than no hope, that's what she has now based on Sterling's comments last night.
There will not be a Sterling affiliated with the Los Angeles Clippers when ...
BERMAN: But, Stephanie Elam, Donald Sterling insists the L.A. Clippers, the players, they say they love him. This seems to me, demonstrably, false at this point. Doc Rivers is already out as saying not so fast on that.
ELAM: What you just said made lights go out in L.A. didn't even know how to react for a second. Crazy. To answer your question, I have not seen that. I was taking a look at their Twitter feeds for the players. A few of them have tweeted about basketball. No one is touching this story. They are leaving it alone. I'm sure that has a lot to do with the guidance of Doc Rivers. If you look at how they reacted that first game, in golden state in Oakland. I was there. They were all there with their jerseys with the logo's against their chests, not showing how they felt about this. I think for a lot of them dealing with this while dealing with playoffs has been the side show that they did not need. You take a look at the way the fans have come out really making it clear, holding up signs, they are there for the team and not for Donald Sterling. That they are rallying behind them while they make it through the playoffs. And when you take a look at all of this situation with Magic going to the game the other night. A lot of support for him, a lot of love. People embrace him and I think all of this together shows they're not putting support behind Donald Sterling in this way, but one way I have seen they support Donald Sterling is they don't think he should have to sell the team. I've heard people say that. Haven't heard anyone say they support Donald Sterling as a whole.
BERMAN: OK we are going to talk more about the issue of selling the team coming up. We'll have much more from the Sterling interview. Thank you, David and Stephanie. We are going to also talk about, what we are going to call the so-called love struck defense. We are going to talk to a guest who says on at least some issues Donald Sterling has a point. Just a reminder, you can watch Magic Johnson's sit-down interview, this is going to be an important discussion, with Anderson Cooper tonight on AC 360 at 8 o'clock eastern.
PEREIRA: Also ahead, did Karl Rove suggest that Hillary Clinton may have had brain injury? How her health is under attack. Next @ THIS HOUR.
PEREIRA: Did Republican strategist Karl Rove say Hillary Clinton may have brain damage?
BERMAN: During a conference last week, Karl Rove said voters need to know the truth about Mrs. Clinton's health if she decides to run for president. "The New York Post" is reporting that Rove was talking about Clinton's treatment after she suffered a fall and concussion in 2012. The Post reports that Rove said, 30 days in the hospital? And when she reappears she's wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury. We need to know what's up with that.
PEREIRA: Quick fact check for you. Hillary Clinton spent three days in the hospital, not 30. She did wear glasses with special lenses for a short time after she had that concussion. A spokesman said they helped her temporary vision problems. A couple hours ago, Rove seemed to walk it back a bit saying he never used the words brain damage and was asking overall questions about Clinton's health.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARL ROVE, REPULICAN STRATEGIST: I never used -- I never used that phrase. I never used that phrase. But look, she had a serious health episode. And I don't know about you, but if you go through a serious health episode, it causes you to look at life a little bit differently. This was a serious deal. She basically is out of action. She's in and out of the office starting on the 7th of December after she returns. She returns on a Friday from the Czech Republic but then it begins over a month-long period where she's got a serious illness ending up putting her in the hospital. We don't know what the doctor said about what does she have to be concerned about. We don't know. She's hidden a lot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: That hardly seems to qualify as walking things back. Let's talk about this with Lanny Davis, he is a lawyer and crisis manager and former White House special counsel for former president Bill Clinton. Also with us are senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar who covers all things Hillary Clinton for us and Brianna, let me ask off the bat. What does the Clinton team, can't call it the Clinton campaign, but what does the Clinton team say about all of this right now?
BRIANNA KEILER, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: They're knocking Karl Rove very hard on this, I would say from a spokesperson for Hillary Clinton. He says Karl Rove has deceived the country for years but there are no words for this level of lying. As to her health, she is 100 percent. Period. And I've heard that from many people in her camp, that while this was a serious episode at the time of concern that at this moment her health is very good.
PEREIRA: A backtrack but not really. Stuck by his original comments. The question is did he go too far with his original comments or is it fair to bring up health concerns?
LANNY DAVIS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SPECIAL COUNCIL: First of all, he didn't step it back. If anything, he made it worse by not apologizing for something that is so uncharacteristic. Karl Rove is a tough political warrior. Full disclosure, I went to college with President Bush and I have had a friendship with Karl Rove, including when he was in criminal difficulty, almost indicted, I defended him that he wasn't guilty until proven to be so. What he's done is shameful. Using innuendo when we see by conduct what the truth is. Three months after her hospitalization she was at my book party. She never looked so good and I went to law school with her when her last name was Rodham. She is traveling all over and she just finished a book. Doesn't sound like an injured person to me. For Karl to say something without a shred of evidence, the pure innuendo of it belongs on page 6 journalism. Not Karl Rove, even as a tough political warrior he has never stooped so low. I bet he'll regret doing this. It doesn't sound right coming from Karl Rove to be this low and this sleazy. He's tough but he's not sleazy. This was sleazy.
BERMAN: He's tough. He's also careful. I have covered Karl for a long time. You call this page 6 journalism. It is in fact page 6 journalism where this appeared in the "New York Post". Karl knows what he's saying. Traumatic brain injury set off this firestorm, we are covering it now. As you well know health is an issue that comes up in campaigns. Age is an issue that comes up in campaigns. People you know from Clinton team in 1996 talked about Bob Dole. We're not concerned about his age, it's the age of his ideas which is another way of saying he's old. The question again, what Rove is saying is qualitatively different than that.
DAVIS: Ideas are okay to attack. Age isn't. Ronald Reagan made use of that very effectively against Walter Mondale when he said he was concerned about Mondale's inexperience and he was a lot older than Hillary Clinton will be if she runs for president. There are boundaries that all politicians believe in. No matter how dirty and rotten politics is, there are certain boundaries. Everybody knows that Karl Rove crossed the boundary. Knowing Rove as I do, as I said he's a tough political warrior but not a sleazebag. This is sleazy for him to raise the question. He might as well say there might be martians under Hillary Clinton's bed. She needs to address that. So this is sleazy, raising an innuendo without a fact. But I can tell you factually that she's healthy, she is vigorous, she has finished her book and traveling all over. What your eyes see is what is exactly the truth.
KEILER: I do think this kind of is a lot of Republicans who are maybe looking to compete against Hillary Clinton wouldn't like to see how this was done in this way. In any campaign, I think that health can be fair game. It's a way for maybe some opponents to get at the age issue. She is -- if you look at this purely through the political lens, if she decides to run, she will be older than many of her Republican opponents and that's something certainly that they're going to look at raising this ageist argument. At the same time, it's something politically that opponents would have to be very careful about. In this case it appears that Rove wasn't. It kind of taints this argument for Republicans who might want to use it in a different way in the future.
BERMAN: Using a phrase like traumatic brain injury, if in fact he used it, is ridiculous and absurd and probably helps the Clinton team more than it hurts them. All right Lanny Davis stick around because we are going to talk about Donald Sterling some more and his shocking comments about Magic Johnson. Is this just some generational thing. Are we making too much of these statements or not?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STERLING: What kind of a guy goes to every city, and has sex with every girl and then catches HIV. Is that someone we want to respect and tell our kids about?