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Magic Johnson Addresses Donald Sterling Controversy With Anderson Cooper; MERS Spreads Worldwide; Wildfire Evacuation Order Lifted in California; Fed Judge Declares Idaho Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional; Race to Rescue Turkey's Trapped Coal Miners; Boys Recover From Bouncy House Flight

Aired May 14, 2014 - 11:00   ET


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CO-ANCHOR: Donald Sterling launched the attack. Now Magic responds, saying the Clippers' owner rant was beyond personal.


MAGIC JOHNSON, FORMER NBA PLAYER: He's a man who's upset, and he's reaching. He's reaching. He's trying to find something that he can grab onto to help him save his team. And it's not going happen.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN CO-ANCHOR: Plus, a dangerous deadly virus is spreading. It's now in the United States, airports posting warnings like this one right here.

What you need to look out for, next.

PEREIRA: And that? That is not a balloon you're looking at. That's a bounce house. It broke loose and flew up into the air, taking two children with it.

Our question, are these fun houses safe?

Good morning, and welcome to Wednesday. I'm Michaela Pereira.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. 11:00 a.m. in the East, 8:00 a.m. out West, those stories and a whole lot more, right now, @ THIS HOUR.

PEREIRA: Magic speaks. He gave his side of the story after Donald Sterling made startling allegations this week about the NBA legend, once again dragging him into the mess that is swirling around the embattled Clippers owner.

Earvin Magic Johnson sat down with our Anderson Cooper. Boy, he had a lot to say.

BERMAN: You know, really, a lot of us were hanging on these words. What's the right way to respond to someone who essentially trashes the last 23 years of your life?

Magic Johnson says it is more than personal for him. He felt like he needed to defend not just himself but the African-American community.

So let's play you some of this exclusive CNN interview.


DONALD STERLING, L.A. CLIPPERS OWNER: Here's a man who -- I don't know if I should say this. He acts so holy.

He made love to every girl in every city in America, and he had AIDS. And when he had those AIDS, I went to my synagogue and I prayed for him. I hoped he could live and be well.

I didn't criticize him. I could have. Is he an example for children?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR,. "AC 360": COOPER: I'm embarrassed to even play this in front of you.

JOHNSON: Yes, yes, yes

Well, you know, here is a man who we would think would be educated and a man who would -- is smart enough to build this type of wealth and own a team that has an incredible platform to change the world, but he is doing it in a negative way.

You know, first of all, 22 years ago, I announced that I did have HIV. And I came out like a man. You know, I told the world.

JOHNSON: Because of the HIV virus that I have obtained, I will have to retire from the Lakers today.

JOHNSON: I didn't blame nobody else. I understood what I did was wrong, OK

So I announced that to the world, and I hope that I was able to help people in doing that. And I think I did.

COOPER: You helped countless numbers of people.

JOHNSON: Yes. Yes. And I have been to hospices. I have been to hospitals, hugging people with HIV and AIDS, you know, before they were dying or people who had -- didn't know if they could live a long time.

I hugged them. I counseled them. I talked to them. I talked to them about taking their meds and not -- making sure that they stay on their regimen, which is the key.

I talked to a lot of young people who just got HIV and was thinking about, you know, committing suicide, you see? And I tried to talk them out of that.

And then we have given away over $15 million, my foundation.


BERMAN: So sports attorney David Cornwell is here along with radio host Mo Ivory.

So, David, let's talk about this. Such an interesting place that Magic Johnson found himself in last night going into this interview, having to respond to comments that were both outrageous but also really completely unprovoked.

What did he need to do you think?

DAVID CORNWELL, SPORTS ATTORNEY: What he did is what he needed to do. He protected or defended himself as well as the African-American community.

But white people respect Magic Johnson, as well, and I think he was an incredibly effective rebuttal to the racist rant that Donald Sterling made just by sitting there, Earvin Johnson, the dignified successful businessman after his career.

So I think he was very effective in rebutting everything that Donald Sterling said.

PEREIRA: A lot of folks that I heard is like it's a shame that it even had to get to the point that he had to defend himself, like you said, unprovoked.

It's interesting that when you listen, Mo, throughout that hour, Magic repeatedly kind of said this isn't about me. That was between Sterling and this love interest, if you will.

He kept pushing that. Do you think he achieved it? Do you think he sufficiently put that to bed? To take himself out of the fray of this?

MO IVORY, RADIO HOST, "THE MO IVORY SHOW": Sure, I think he did. He did an incredible job in building his own credibility last night.

I thought the only extra thing he could have done that would have made it better was if he would have had his wife with him. sitting there sort of like this complete united -- because some issues, obviously, the HIV and things like that came up, and you know, that's very personal.

So I thought that would have really put icing on the cake.

PEREIRA: I bet he didn't because he -- he didn't because he thought, this is about me. I don't want to drag --

IVORY: And why drag her in?

PEREIRA: Because he already got dragged into it.

IVORY: I just thought it would have been, wow, look at how united we were as a family.

But he did a great job, and he was distancing himself from it.

I was talking to John earlier. There were certain trigger things that Magic said that made me want to kind of respond because of the journalist in me, but then I pulled back and I thought, this really isn't about Magic Johnson.

This is really about him just coming back and making the comments about Sterling pulling him into this conversation and not really about like some of the things he said like I'm a leader in the black community.

You know I had some things that I wanted to comment on, but I thought, you know what? It's not really the time, and it's not about attacking Magic or even breaking down every word that he says.

BERMAN: But conspicuously absent from the conversation were some of the most scurrilous charges leveled by Sterling, that he went to every city and had whatever with every woman in every city.

Magic didn't touch that. Anderson didn't touch that. Do you think that needed to come up or was it better that it didn't come up?

IVORY: I'm going to say this. It was a pro-Magic interview. I'm going to say that.

It was clear that Anderson was a fan of Magic and that it was a very comfortable place to be and he wasn't going to push too hard, because I even thought there was a time when the press conference when he announced that he HIV came up that a little bit more could have gone into that.

Because the truth is what Donald Sterling said about it is still true. He did do those things, and he did recover from it. So I'm not trying to attack Magic, but I'm saying let's deal with the truth, too.

CORNWELL: Magic didn't do anything wrong. To your point, why should he dignify what Sterling said by responding to --

IVORY: What do you mean he didn't do anything wrong? He's made mistakes like anybody else has.

CORNWELL: Exactly.


CORNWELL: Which is not wrong.

IVORY: But that doesn't say --

CORNWELL: Which is not wrong.

IVORY: But you can't say just because he's Magic Johnson that those things go be ignored.

CORNWELL: I'm not saying that, but he de-stigmatized having HIV, right? He de-stigmatized the notion that black people can't be successful. He did it all just sitting there by the way he presented himself and being dignified.

BERMAN: You know what? This is clearly a fight and a discussion we need to have more of. You guys stick around. We're going to let this stir for a bit and come back and talk more about it.

PEREIRA: We're going to have more from Anderson Cooper's interview with Magic, but we also want to talk about the Clipper brand, about what kind of residual effect this could have on the Clipper brand.

Reminder, also, to you at home, Anderson is going to actually air more sound and more from his exclusive sit-down with Donald Sterling that hasn't aired yet. That's going to come on at 8:00 Eastern here on CNN.

Let's take a look at some other stories in the headlines @ THIS HOUR.

The deadly MERS virus that causes respiratory and kidney problems is spreading worldwide. There are two cases here in the U.S. We just learned that the Netherlands has reported its first case. This has now spread to 18 countries.

Two U.S. healthcare workers who were exposed to one of the patients who is sick with MERS in Orlando, they have tested negative for MERS.

We'll have more with the CDC scientist who's leading the effort to stop this in just a little bit. Stay with us here.

BERMAN: Hot, dry, windy conditions that fed fires in California this week forecast to return today, but right now, the more than 20,000 people who were evacuated from the wildfire areas around San Diego, they are returning home.

All evacuation orders related to the 800-acre Bernardo Fire have been lifted. Fire officials say the wildfire is only five-percent contained, but it is no longer an imminent threat to homes.

PEREIRA: A federal judge has declared Idaho's ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional. The judge's order will take effect from Friday morning unless the state appeals. The order will knock down Idaho state laws and a state constitutional amendment that was passed in 2006.

Same-sex marriage is legal in 17 states and in the District of Columbia.

BERMAN: A desperate race against time under way to save more than 100 coal miners in Turkey. Authorities say they are trapped in a shaft about two-thirds of a mile underground.

You're looking at live pictures right now from Turkey. Hundreds of other miners are confirmed dead in this disaster.

What a disaster, it is. A transformer blew deep inside this mine, igniting a fire, that fire still burning right now and getting in the way of this rescue.

But look at all those people gathered around that disaster right now.

PEREIRA: Shaping up to be the worst mining disaster in Turkey's history.

BERMAN: All right, two little boys recovering after a terrifying flight inside their backyard bouncy house. Look at that.

That inflatable trampoline rose more than 15 feet after a gust of wind uprooted its stakes. The boys, ages 5 and 6, tumbled on a street into a parking lot. They were taken to a hospital in serious condition.

A neighbor said, the incident, it was like a horror movie, police calling it an accident.

PEREIRA: It's a parents' worst nightmare.

BERMAN: Bouncy houses are my worst nightmare already, even on the ground, but that's a different story.

PEREIRA: Ahead @ THIS HOUR, Magic Johnson has this to say to Donald Sterling. Sell the team, take the money and enjoy your life.

So should and will Sterling take his advice?


JOHNSON: You're fighting a battle that you can't win.


BERMAN: Magic Johnson says he was blown away by the comments Donald Sterling made about his health, those AIDS, as Donald Sterling said, and his involvement in the black community.

And Magic said he thought he and Donald Sterling were friends which made these comments even more disappointing for him.

PEREIRA: We'll play more for you of his exclusive interview with Anderson Cooper.


COOPER: Do you have any advice to Donald Sterling? I mean, what would you say to him?

JOHNSON: I would say -- he has finally apologized, but he still has not apologized to me personally. But that's OK. Even if I don't get it, I'm fine with that.

I would just -- look, you -- you're 80-years-old. You have had a tremendous life, right? And you're going to benefit whatever the price tag is from this team selling

Just go ahead and enjoy the rest of your life. You know, you're fighting a battle that you can't win.

And then you're -- you're putting your family in a tough situation, as well. It is not just him. He is making his family members look bad by going out, saying these things about myself, African-Americans, on and on.

So if I was him, I would just, you know, benefit from the fruits of my labor and just take the money, go and enjoy your life.


PEREIRA: Let's continue our conversation here with sports attorney David Cornwell and radio host Mo Ivory.

David, so there's his advice for Magic. Take your money. Go enjoy retirement. Enjoy life. Do you think that's likely that Sterling is actually going to do that?

CORNELL: Absolutely. He's out.

PEREIRA: You do think that.

CORNWELL: He's out.

PEREIRA: But do you think he won't put up a fight?

CORNWELL: Even if he puts up a fight, he's out. I think that by the beginning of next season, Donald Sterling will no longer be the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. If he's involved in a lawsuit, that's something else. It's collateral. The NBA is committed to getting him out.

BERMAN: Especially now. Mo, I get the sense that you're not satisfied here. You've been saying that this whole issue has brought up some discussions we need to be having. Are we having them do you think?

IVORY: I don't really think we are. I think that this whole conversation has focused so much around saving the image of the NBA, protecting the players and the way they feel about their owner and it's really about business. This is really to say -- like I said yesterday. I don't think this conversation should be shocking to anybody but that we talk about all of those conversations that are going on behind the scenes that are just of the same exact nature. I don't think we have those conversations. I think Donald Sterling brought something out just the same way any time there's a racial issue it brings it out. Trayvon, I sat at this desk and we talked about Trayvon in that way. And now what?

PEREIRA: I was saying to John earlier that it doesn't seem like we can have this conversation unless it is something egregious.

CORNWELL: That's a great point. One thing that's being missed in this discussion is the response of the players. What we saw was the exact opposite of what Donald Sterling said. Players went from being property in his mind to partners in this business that demanded that the business kick him out. I think that's a significant development for what unions and players have represented in professional sports over the years.

IVORY: I thought it was interesting how Magic Johnson said he would never go to another Clippers game and then a few days later there he was at the Clippers game. So I think that we -- When something interests us enough, we can put the things aside and we can go ahead -- I wanted to support Doc Rivers and players. You're a basketball guy. You wanted to go. What you said wasn't really relevant anymore.

BERMAN: There are no hero's in this to you, in this sense.

IVORY: No, I think there are a lot of bigger issues and I think we're brushing -- I got on you a little bit because you're so pro-magic. There are a lot of different issues, and maybe not to bring up right now, but this is a doorway to start a conversation that we constantly, constantly do not have. And we try to pretend like we want to have it. But like you said Michaela, it only comes up and then the door closes.

CORNWELL: That's only half of the story. I'm not just pro-Irvin. I'm anti-Donald Sterling.

IVORY: But then you have to be anti-everybody that has these conversations that are going on in private that we're just not privy to which is many, many.

BERMAN: We did hear this one and we can't unhear it.

PEREIRA: You say that because it was in the public space, it became part of the public consciousness.

CORNWELL: I disagree with Mo that one size fits all. What happened here is that his private conversation was made public. Now he has to deal with the consequences. No question others are having private conversations of the same type we don't hear about. We'll deal with it in some other way. One size does not fit all.

PEREIRA: I don't know. I feel like you two will be back with us and we'll be talking more about this.

IVORY: I would like that. I know you two would.

PEREIRA: I would love it, and I know John would as well. Can we do that? Can we have you back to the station? We'll continue the conversation. That would be great. A reminder that tonight Anderson Cooper we will air more of this exclusive sit down conversation with Donald Sterling. Some other pieces that haven't yet aired at 8:00 eastern right here on CNN. Mo, David, thank you.

Ahead @ THIS HOUR, an explosion and fire in Turkey killing hundreds of miners leaving more than 100 others still trapped underground. Are they still alive? A desperate search for survivors continues.

BERMAN: Then an extremely deadly virus is spreading and is now in the U.S. Airports now posting warning signs. What you need to look out for ahead @ THIS HOUR.


PEREIRA: A rising death toll in Turkey. Officials now saying that at least 238 coal miners are dead, as many as 120 others are trapped deep underground.

BERMAN: Managers believe 787 people were inside that mine when a transformer blew up yesterday. Now, two people were rescued just hours ago. Our Ivan Watson is on the scene Near Soma Turkey.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Throughout the afternoon rescue workers have been bringing workers out of the coal mine on stretchers carrying them down these small steps. On occasion we can hear members of the crowd there gathered around the ambulance at the entrance to the mine shaft yelling as the workers are brought out. And from this vantage point it's very difficult to tell the health condition of the people as they're being brought out. Sadly, tragically, four more people have died as a result of this mine disaster than survivors have been brought out.

Turkish government estimating a bit over 90 survivors brought out while the death toll has steadily increased to at least 238 people killed as a result of what authorities say was an electrical fire that broke out on Tuesday, reportedly during a shift change when you would have many, many hundreds more coal miners down at the bottom of the shaft. I talked to some of the rescue workers. They say that there are up to five miles of alleyways and galleries down there. The rescue workers that I talked to who were down in the mines overnight, who recovered the bodies of six coal miners. They say there was a vast amount of smoke down there as a result of the fire. They could only operate there with oxygen tanks and that the temperatures were high as well.

The Turkish prime minister has paid a visit to this location. He's come out -- his government has called for three days of mourning. He also promised an investigation into this mine. And did say that last March health and safety inspectors had come here and declared it free and clean and safe. However, a local lawmaker on April 29th submitted a motion to investigate the mine amid reports of safety problems and that motion was overturned in the Turkish parliament. There's already debate and controversy brewing even as this desperate rescue effort continues as people try to save some of the more than 100 coal miners who are still believed to be trapped deep beneath the mountain here at this mine outside of the western Turkish city of Soma. John and Michaela.

BERMAN: Thanks to Ivan Watson in Soma, Turkey. I can't get over that picture with all those people gathered outside that mine in what could be a disaster as it only grows dramatically over the next few hours.

PEREIRA: The way it is, they have had another disaster at a mine several years ago. They are saying this will be the worst one in history. 238 dead already. As many as 120 still trapped underground. This death toll is going to rise.

BERMAN: Let's hope there's some kind of miracle still out there.

PEREIRA: Coming up, a deadly virus is spreading now in the U.S. airports are posting warnings. What you need to look out for ahead @ THIS HOUR.


BERMAN: There is serious concern this morning about an extremely deadly virus that might be making inroads here in the United States. Scientists here, and abroad on high alert this morning. Why? MERS, which stands for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, it attacks the respiratory system and can lead to pneumonia or kidney failure.