CNN TALKBACK LIVE
What Would Jesus Drive?; Has Michael Jackson Gone Over the Edge?
Aired November 20, 2002 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ARTHEL NEVILLE, HOST: Hello, everybody. Welcome to TALKBACK LIVE. I'm Arthel Neville.
Earlier this week, comedian Bill Maher was here explaining why good citizens should dump their SUVs and save gas. Well, now some religious leaders are pushing that same message with a campaign titled "What Would Jesus Drive?" the idea being, what you drive is a moral decision and SUVs are not a good choice. Would you give up your SUV and should you have to?
Then stay tuned to hear what Michael Jackson has to say about this dangerous balcony thriller.
And later, attorney Johnnie Cochran joins us. He once represented Jackson, so he knows something about the eccentric pop star. We'll ask him if he thinks Michael should face child- endangerment charges, among other things.
OK, back to the "What Would Jesus Drive?" campaign, religious leaders are meeting with top officials at Ford and General Motors today. They're trying to convince automakers, as well as the rest of us, that driving those gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles is just not morally right. The National Religious Partnership for the Environment includes a broad coalition of religious groups. However, one member of the coalition, the -- hello -- evangelism group -- can you read this, Jo Beth?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Evangelical (OFF-MIKE)
NEVILLE: Thank you very much -- network has taken the campaign to the air with "What Would Jesus Drive?" ads.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
NARRATOR: God saw that it was good. And Jesus says love thy neighbor as thyself. Yet too many of the cars, trucks and SUVs that are made that we choose to drive are polluting our air, increasing global warming, changing the weather, and endangering our health, especially the health of our children. So, if we love our neighbor and we cherish God's creation, maybe we should ask: What would Jesus drive?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
The head of that group, the Reverend Jim Ball, will be joining us shortly.
And right now with us is Jacob Sullum, editor of "Reason" magazine; and Ian Punnett, a radio talk show host in St. Paul, Minnesota. He's also a seminary student.
And I want to welcome both of you gentlemen to the show.
By the way, we're going to start now with a little sound bite from what the reverend, Reverend Ball, had to say this morning. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. JIM BALL, EVANGELICAL ENVIRONMENTAL NETWORK: What would Jesus drive? We're asking the question, "What would Jesus drive?" because we confess Jesus as savior and lord. And we want folks to understand that transportation choices are moral choices.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEVILLE: All right, Ian, I'm going to start with you on this one.
Does if make you a better person to drive a fuel-efficient car? And does God care if you drive an SUV?
IAN PUNNETT, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, I think all religious leaders would agree that God cares what we do. And I think religious leaders, particularly of a Christian stripe, would agree that it's good for the church to challenge its followers on the ways in which they are spending their money.
It's always been a role of the church. It certainly was a role that we see Jesus taking in the New Testament. But the question that Reverend Ball is asking begs an answer. And so, if you're to give an honest appraisal of the question, "What would Jesus drive?" or "Would Jesus drive an SUV?" you'd have to answer that, in many cases, you'd have to say yes.
If the answer was that Jesus would have been fuel-efficient and if he were traveling with many others, if he had a large family, if any of these things were true, you certainly would have to say that would be the right choice for him to make.
NEVILLE: And Jesus does have a large family. We're all his family.
PUNNETT: Well, I mean, if you were even just to look at it in terms of Jesus in a business context, traveling with the 12 disciples, if they were traveling from Galilee to Jerusalem, an SUV makes the most sense.
NEVILLE: Maybe they have dinner plans, Ian?
PUNNETT: Pardon me?
NEVILLE: Maybe they have dinner plans?
PUNNETT: Well, whatever the context is...
NEVILLE: The last supper. You go it.
PUNNETT: ... he would be carpooling. So, I mean, I think that these are all fair ways. If Jesus had a family of four and two of them were in hockey, he'd be driving an SUV. And there's just no shame in saying that.
NEVILLE: OK, listen, we're having fun with this campaign, but I want to go on record and make sure that anybody watching, I am certainly not being blasphemous. I want to make you realize that, OK, coming from a good Christian girl like me.
Listen, everybody, let's see. Bring in Jacob.
When you first see this campaign, though, you kind of start to pull out the jokes. I mean, is this going to be an effective campaign?
JACOB SULLUM, "REASON": I do want to weigh in on this issue of "What would Jesus drive?"
I think, since Jesus was a carpenter, he probably would be driving a pickup truck to haul around his lumber and his tools. And that actually falls into the same category, in terms of emissions and mileage, as the SUVs do, which raises the question that your other guests raised, which is, "What do you mean when you say that you should drive the most fuel-efficient car that truly meets your needs?" which is what one of the leaders of this campaign is urging us to do.
Well, what are your needs? And what does it mean to truly meet them? Obviously, if you're a carpenter and you need to haul around a lot of stuff, then a pickup truck or perhaps a van makes sense. If you have a big family, a minivan or an SUV might makes sense.
SULLUM: I'm sorry?
NEVILLE: Or you live some place where it snows really badly all the time.
SULLUM: And the focus on SUVs is rather puzzling, not just because people tend to forget about the pickup trucks and the minivans, which also fall into this category, but also because, if you look at the whole category of passenger cars and light trucks, they contribute only about 1.5 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.
So, you're really talking about a very small part of that problem. And then, if you just look at pollution that comes out of cars, the lion's share of that actually comes from older, poorly maintained cars. The research done by Donald Stedman, who is a chemist at the University of Denver, shows that about 5, 10 percent of cars on the road contribute about half of all the pollution.
So, if these groups really wanted to do something about reducing pollution, they should be urging people to buy new cars, which pollute considerably less than older models, or to fix their current cars. And they be collecting money to help people who have trouble buying new cars or fixing their cars do that, because that's really what you need do if you're serious about making a dent in pollution.
NEVILLE: Well, Jacob, you know what? Reverend Ball is ready. He's joining us now.
And, Reverend, I want to welcome you to the show, first of all.
BALL: Arthel, it's really great to be with you and your guests.
NEVILLE: That's good.
And we have been speaking about your campaign here. And Jacob Sullum just said that he believes that, if you really wanted to get Americans to do the right thing and help the environment, then you would encourage them to drive new cars, purchase new cars that have better emissions controls, etcetera. But why did you focus on SUVs?
BALL: Well, we're asking the question, "What would Jesus drive?" because we want to help folks understand that transportation is a moral issue.
The impacts of transportation pollution are serious in terms of how they affect our health, especially the health of children, their contribution to global warming, which will have a serious impact on the poor -- and the Bible calls for us to care for the poor -- and our dependence on foreign oil from unstable regions. So, these are all strong, all important moral issues, and so our transportation choices are moral choices.
NEVILLE: Now, Reverend, I'm very familiar with the phrase, "What would Jesus do?," which you're playing off of that, "What would Jesus drive?" But I have to ask you, why this campaign? Because, honestly, sometimes, people who are not inside the circles and who don't understand the reference, it just seems a little bit over the top.
BALL: Well, as evangelical Christians, we are to be asking -- we think that Jesus is alive in our hearts right now. He's not some historical figure. He's alive in our hearts right now. He is our lord. And all of our choices need to be made in terms of his lordship.
BALL: He is the lord of our transportation choices.
NEVILLE: All right, let me get Victor, sir, in here. He's an audience member. And I want to get some everyday folks to chime in.
Go ahead, Victor. VICTOR: Jesus wouldn't drive at all if he was on this earth today. He would be walking. It doesn't make a difference what he would be driving at all. They're making it a religious thing, rather than what it should be.
NEVILLE: Which is?
VICTOR: You know, the right thing, the ethical thing. They're just playing a religion into it, rather than making it a moral thing.
PUNNETT: Well, if I can, Arthel, I had a professor last year in seminary who did make the moral choice to give up her SUV. And I had a couple of conversations with her about it.
She rather liked her SUV. But she came to the conclusion that she was the only person that was driving it. It was a lot of car. She loved being up that high. She felt much more comfortable on the road. But she felt like she needed to give that up. That was a choice that she made to do that.
Yet, there are plenty of people out there with large families. And I think you would have to say both Jesus and God would call us all to be in communities with our family. You would want them to be in one car. You'd want them to be safe. Minivans are not as safe as SUVs. Smaller cars compacted in are not as safe as SUVs. So it only makes sense.
NEVILLE: OK, Ian, you make some interesting points there.
And I want to go to the streets of New York City, because you know folks in New York, they always have an opinion. Mark Perez (ph) is standing by to share his thoughts on this story.
Mark, can you hear me? Good afternoon. What are you thinking?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I can hear you.
What I'm thinking is, when Jesus isn't taking mass transit, he's probably driving a blue Mazda Miata. It's economical and sporty. And he probably doesn't have any kids, anyway. So...
NEVILLE: All right, Mark Perez, thank you very much. Stay bundled up there in New York City. Thanks for playing with us here on TALKBACK LIVE today.
Listen, we have to take a break right now.
Are you a gas-guzzling sinner who is ready to reform? Let me know. Give me a call at 1-800-310-4CNN. I know a lot of you are standing by on the phone, so hold on. I will talk to you after the break. Or, of course, you can e-mail me at TALKBACK@CNN.com.
Also: Michael Jackson is a thrill a minute. Is this harmless hijinks or should he be punished? Our "Question of the Day": What should happen to Michael Jackson? Give us a call right now.
We're back in a moment. We'll talk to you soon.
NEVILLE (voice-over): Right now on TALKBACK LIVE: Does driving an SUV make you a sinner? These people think gas-guzzling is wrong. Will using less save your soul?
Then, later, we're talking to attorney Johnnie Cochran about his new book and some of his most famous clients.
The talk continues after this.
NEVILLE: And welcome back, everybody.
We are talking about a new campaign to get people out of their SUVs and into heaven. This ad campaign comes as the administration is talking about requiring SUVs and other light trucks to get better gas mileage. According to "The Wall Street Journal," they say -- or they may be adding 1.5 miles a gallon by 2007.
And, Reverend Ball, so this kind of plays into what your campaign is. Do you wonder, though, if this is too little too late? Or is it about time that Americans start focusing on their oil consumption?
BALL: Well, it's certainly about time for us to consider these issues, especially in light of September 11 and our situation with Iraq.
I think all of us need to reassess in terms of our dependence upon foreign oil from unstable regions. And I think the administration is starting to pay attention to that, that we need to be more energy independent. And a big part of that is to be more fuel-efficient with our cars, trucks and SUVs.
Now, what is reported -- I don't know if the administration has actually formally announced it yet -- is 1.5 miles per gallon for a couple of years.
BALL: If they did it for 15 years, then we would be talking about an important announcement. But what we've heard so far in "The Wall Street Journal," we think there needs to be more done.
NEVILLE: All right, Reverend, thank you.
I'm going to let Beth from Illinois join in on this conversation.
You say what, Beth? BETH: Well, I'd like to know how much money is being spent on this campaign, because I feel, definitely, the money would be much better spent in our schools educating children about how to take care of the Earth. So I really would like to know how much is being spent on this campaign.
BALL: Well, you'll be -- it's an interesting question. Thank you for it.
In terms of -- now, everybody needs to know that this is a much broader effort than just our, "What Would Jesus Drive?" campaign, that folks from many other religious traditions were here today in Detroit meeting with Mr. Ford. And I don't know the figures in terms of how much money is being spent from the -- with these other traditions in terms of their efforts.
But with our "What Would Jesus Drive?" campaign, in terms of the ads we're running in four states, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri and North Carolina, we've got a big, huge budget of $65,000.
NEVILLE: OK, $65,000. All right, Reverend.
SULLUM: I wonder if I could make a point about raising the fuel- efficiency standards.
NEVILLE: Go ahead.
SULLUM: It's important to recognize that there's a tradeoff in terms of human lives every time you raise fuel-efficiency standards, because what happens is, you make cars lighter. Lighter cars are less safe in crashes. And, in fact...
BALL: That's not true. That's not true at all.
SULLUM: Excuse me.
A study that was done by the Brookings Institution and researchers at Harvard estimated that thousands of people die every year as a result of the current fuel-efficiency standards. So, when you talk about raising fuel-efficiency, you're often talking about making cars less safe.
SULLUM: And that's, of course, one of the things that attracts people to SUVs to begin with...
BALL: That's absolutely not true.
SULLUM: ... is the fact that they're safer in crashes than lighter vehicles are.
BALL: As a matter of fact, SUVs are less safe than other vehicles. If you compare the top four-selling cars to the top four- selling SUVs, SUVs are 25 percent less safe than cars.
SULLUM: Heavier vehicles are safer for the occupants in crashes.
BALL: Yes, and loving our neighbor as ourself means you don't -- you've got to be concerned about the people in the other car.
BALL: Thank you. Sorry.
NEVILLE: Thank you.
I just wanted to comment that you don't need to waste your $65,000, because the economy is going to dictate that probably fewer people are going to buy SUVs. They're expensive and they do get less gas mileage. So I'm with my fellow person...
NEVILLE: Audience member.
EILEEN: Audience member.
NEVILLE: OK. Thank you, Eileen.
I'm going to go to California now, where Marcilene (ph) is standing by on the telephone.
Go ahead, Marcilene. You're live.
CALLER: Yes, hello.
First of all, all cars and airplanes contribute to the pollution. Secondly, if these were true Christians, they would be preaching on women who have careers and work...
NEVILLE: Excuse me? Wait, wait, wait.
CALLER: .. because if they were more frugal and stayed home, we'd have less cars on the road.
NEVILLE: Marcilene, can you hear me? Apparently, you cannot hear me. What did you just say, ma'am? What did you say, that women who work are what?
CALLER: And have careers. If they were more frugal and stayed at home, we'd have less trouble...
NEVILLE: Marcilene, Marcilene, Marcilene, Marcilene, Marcilene?
NEVILLE: With all due respect, could you do me one favor and check your calendar? You'll see that we are living in 2002.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
NEVILLE: Dwayne is speaking up next.
DWAYNE: I think it should come to the automobile manufacturers. I think they spend a lot of money on their lobbyists to make sure that the fuel-efficiency of cars stays where it's at, instead of being raised. There is technology is out that would make SUVs more fuel- efficient. I don't think that people should take a congregation's money and spend it on something that could be kind of frivolous, when they could be putting it on something better.
NEVILLE: I understand your point.
NEVILLE: Go ahead, Reverend.
BALL: Well, if I could speak to that, our money comes from the Energy Foundation. And any time we can get money from other foundations to talk about Jesus, we're going to do that.
SULLUM: Well if I can, I'm certainly not going to agree with the caller's position on women. But I do think there are bigger issues here that we could be talking about than SUVs.
NEVILLE: OK, listen, we will talk about those later.
Right now, we have to take a pause. And we've talked about the pros and cons of linking morality to what you drive. Apparently, we've been getting lots of e-mails and phone calls loaded with opinions of what Jesus would really be driving. So I'll share those opinions with you when we come back.
And stay right there, because Johnnie Cochran joins us to talk about his new book. We're going to ask him about the most important case of his career. And his answer just might surprise you.
Don't go anywhere. TALKBACK LIVE continues in a moment.
NEVILLE: Welcome back, everybody. I'm Arthel Neville.
We are talking about moral consequences of driving gas-guzzlers. And right now, we want to know what you think Jesus would drive.
JUSTIN: I'd just like to say I think the campaign is a little absurd. And how far are going to they go, to the point: What would Jesus mow his lawn with, a push mower or gas-operated one? I just find it absurd.
NEVILLE: Thank you very much, Justin. And I want to go back to the streets of New York, where Anna Castillo (ph) is standing.
Anna, I want to hear your thoughts.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he would like a Civic.
NEVILLE: A Honda Civic?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A Honda Civic.
NEVILLE: What? OK, Anna, thank you very much.
BALL: I'd like to address the question from the audience.
For us, as evangelical Christians, Jesus Christ is our savior and lord. He's lord over all our lives, all our choices. If certain choices are impacting the health of others, including what we mow our lawn with -- I have an electric mower. We bought that because it creates less pollution. So, yes, I think all of our choices in our lives as Christians should be under the lordship of Christ.
NEVILLE: OK, Reverend, so, may I ask you what kind of car you drive?
BALL: Well, I have a 60-mile commute one way. And I take public transportation the whole way. We bought a house so that it was an easy walk to the train. And then I can take the metro system.
BALL: And when we need a car, we have a Toyota Prius. It gets over 50 miles per gallon.
BALL: And it's what called a
NEVILLE: A hybrid.
BALL: Yes, it's a hybrid. And it's called a SULEV, super ultra low emission vehicle.
NEVILLE: OK, well, that's good.
And Gail (ph) from Pennsylvania says what?
GAIL: Well, I think people who buy SUVs and say they're safer are pretty selfish, because it might be safer for them, but it's certainly not going to be safer for the person they hit in a regular car.
NEVILLE: Thank you, Gail.
BALL: And it's not even safer for them.
NEVILLE: I want to go back to the streets of New York. I have -- who is standing by there? Brandon.
Brandon, what do you say about all of this?
BRANDON: If Jesus were alive today, I guess he would have to drive a really, really, really long limo, because he's Jesus, after all. So I guess he'd have to travel in style.
NEVILLE: Thank you very much.
And let's see what Ed has to say.
ED: I think you ought to change the name to WWJR, "What would Jesus ride?," because Jesus would ride the transport that the majority of the masses ride, which is public transportation. And it's been proven to be effective in reducing ozone levels and other related environmental hazards in cities with effective mass transportation plans.
BALL: Amen, brother.
NEVILLE: Thank you very much.
OK, listen, Reverend Ball, thank you very much for being here with us today.
BALL: Arthel, it's been great to be with you and your viewers and your guests. Thank you for having us.
NEVILLE: Of course.
And, Jacob Sullum, Ian Punnett, thank you both.
Ian, you have some fans out here who went to seminary school with you. They're here saying hello to you.
PUNNETT: Give my love to them.
When we come back, attorney Johnnie Cochran talks to us about his new book and some very famous court cases. Also, we'll ask him our "Question of the Day": After dangling a baby over a balcony, what should happen to Michael Jackson?
Johnnie Cochran is standing by. Don't go anywhere.
NEVILLE: And welcome back, everybody. Joining me right here in Atlanta is attorney Johnnie Cochran. He's the author of a new book titled "A Lawyer's Life," which looks at some of his most famous court cases -- his court cases, that is. And of course we are so glad to have Mr. Cochran with us here on the set. Welcome, sir.
JOHNNIE COCHRAN, ATTORNEY: My pleasure to be here.
NEVILLE: Nice to see you. Listen, I want to get right to this, because most Americans remember you or know you from the O.J. Simpson case. But I ask you, what would you say is the most significant case of your career?
COCHRAN: Clearly, the battle to free a man named Geronimo Pratt. It took almost 27 years, we fought pro bono for that period of time. Wrongly convicted, and we ultimately freed him and then we turned around and sued the federal government and the city of Los Angeles and recovered a record amount. So that's the battle by far that's most important to me.
NEVILLE: Anybody in this audience surprised about that answer? Let me hear an applause if you think so. You thought he was going say O.J. Simpson? Well read the book and find out more about this Geronimo Pratt story. A very fascinating story.
But here is the book that -- this is why you're here. You've had such a long and successful career. But I ask you, why the book and why now?
COCHRAN: Well, you know I've practiced law for almost 40 years. In January, it will be 40 years. I thought this would be a good time -- kind of a bookmark, if you will -- to talk about all the battles and to put things in perspective. I was here before Simpson, I'm here after Simpson. And hopefully, at the end of the day, I'll be remembered for more than just that one case.
NEVILLE: How was that case for you? Since I have you here, I have to ask you.
COCHRAN: Well, it was quite an experience. I mean you wouldn't want to go through that every year, I must say that. They call it the trial of the century. And it was a difficult process, because there were a lot of pressures. It was very complex.
You know, imagine this, you go work every day and everybody in America is looking at you making judgments on your decision for that day. It's your job.
NEVILLE: I do that every day. I do that.
COCHRAN: You know how that is, don't you?
NEVILLE: I do know how that is. Sometimes they can be brutal.
COCHRAN: Right, right.
NEVILLE: You know, one major issue for you has been police brutality. Why have you dedicated so much of your career fighting that issue?
COCHRAN: Well I thought it was an issue. When I first started out, it was very difficult to have people understand that police brutality actually existed. So I spent a lot of time trying to educate the public this existed.
Once we did that, and we started winning these cases, there were things to do. For instance, the choke hold in Los Angeles. You know, over a two-year period, 17 young men lost their lives; 15 were black, two were bron. And they lost in the hands of police officers who were choking them.
And the police officers were improperly trained. We showed that. Got a moratorium, and in the last 20 years there have been no more deaths. So we were able to use the law to change things and make it safer for everybody.
Issues of racial profiling, where a person stopped by virtue of their race. That's wrong. And we had a case in New Jersey, where these four young boys were stopped by the New Jersey troopers, and we got the state of New Jersey to admit that they were racially profiling. And hopefully those kind of things will change things for the better, I hope.
NEVILLE: All right. Speaking of profiling, I want to bring it to a current issue, and that is the administration is perhaps suggesting that we profile Iraqi Americans, considering the state of the economy -- I mean, not the economy, the environment. The environment of war, impending war here with Iraq. What's your thoughts on that?
COCHRAN: I'd be opposed to profiling somebody just because of where their from or because of their racial or ethnicity or whatever. I think that would be wrong. I think if you had more information -- the person paid cash for a ticket, if they're acting in a furtive manner, that would be something else again.
I remind you of the time -- and you're much too young to know about this -- in World War II, we rounded up all the Japanese and put them in (UNINTELLIGIBLE) camps on the West Coast. Very few people spoke out about that. was wrong.
We had to pay reparations for that. So I think it's wrong to do that about anybody. I mean there are loyal Iraqi citizens, I'm sure. There are some that probably don't mean us any good, and you've got to sort those out.
But I don't think you solve the problem by picking everybody out. You make a lot of mistakes by doing that, it seems to me.
NEVILLE: You touched on reparations. That's the focus of yours now, and I wanted to know if you could expound on your concerns?
COCHRAN: Right. My concerns are these. I mean it's not -- it's a hot button issue, and not the most popular in America.
But I think what has to happen is that one has to look at it. Reparations comes from the verb to repair. And I think it can be a healing process, if one understands why we have an economic and educational gap in this country, brought on primarily because, on one side, there's been unearned privilege. On the other side, there's been unearned suffering.
And so, between the two, there have been a lot of problems. There have been 300 years of basically free labor in this country. And what I think we need is, for those who are bottom stuck, to have an opportunity to get an education, passed to descendants of people who haven't had an education to improve their lives.
NEVILLE: What do you say, sir, of to people who will not accept that story, that fact, that information, however you wish to look at it, that, in fact, slavery still has repercussions that are being felt today?
COCHRAN: I think we have to demonstrate that. And that's one of the reasons why it may take a lawsuit to demonstrate it through expert witnesses. The effect it's had on generations of people who haven't had an opportunity. And I think that's what it's about.
It's about opportunity in America. And I think nobody wants to be handed a check or whatever. But I think through education, you can help bridge this gap. Otherwise, we'll never bridge it. And it doesn't help to say we're not going to talk about it, because it's still there, it's still will be there. And that's one of problems, I think.
NEVILLE: I'm going to go back to the LAPD for a moment, because your son is a member of the LAPD.
COCHRAN: Well he's a CHP, highway patrolman.
NEVILLE: Oh, he's a CHIPS (ph).
COCHRAN: Yes, he's a CHIPS (ph), right. But my son is a police officer, yes.
NEVILLE: But I understand the story goes that he pulled someone over for speeding or something and they said, "Oh, you're profiling me. I know Johnnie Cochran."
COCHRAN: Yes they did say it. And they didn't look at his name when he said that. And he said, "Dad, I wasn't profiling. I couldn't see inside the car." And I believe him.
COCHRAN: I believe him.
NEVILLE: Listen, I'm enjoying this conversation so much with you. So if you could hang around for me, I have to take a break right now.
COCHRAN: I'd love to. Thanks, Arthel.
NEVILLE: OK. Listen, when we come back, our weekly CNN contributor, Charles Barkley, will join us. Oh, boy. And we are going to ask him and Mr. Johnnie Cochran the question of our day, which is, what should happen to Michael Jackson after that stunt he pulled with the baby on the balcony? We're back in a moment. Don't go anywhere. TALKBACK LIVE continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES BARKLEY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I like Johnnie Cochran. I know if I ever kill anybody I can call him and he'll get me off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEVILLE: Welcome back, everybody. We're talking with Johnnie Cochran, and joining us now is CNN contributor and TNT talk show host Charles Barkley. Well, Mr. Barkley, here is Mr. Cochran. If you need to go and exchange cards, go right ahead.
BARKLEY: Right. He knows that I admire him and respect him. I like to give him a hard time about the O.J. thing, but he's terrific at what he does. Hopefully it will never get to that extreme.
COCHRAN: And I'm sure it won't, Charles. And I admire and respect you, Charles.
BARKLEY: You never know.
NEVILLE: OK. Listen, let's go on and move on to Michael Jackson now. Michael Jackson admits he made a terrible mistake when he held his youngest son over a hotel balcony in Berlin. Jackson says he got caught up in the excitement of the moment and carried away by fans who wanted to see the baby.
He says he would never intentionally endanger the lives of his children. And today Jackson appeared at the same window with one of his older children. But this time, he stayed inside the railing. And Mr. Cochran, I want to ask you, the prosecutors in Germany say that they would investigate only after receiving a complaint. And I want to know if you feel the videotape is enough evidence to pursue child endangerment charges?
COCHRAN: No, I don't think so. I think it's in the absence or lapse of judgment momentarily. I don't think he meant anything by it. He loves these kids, clearly. I would like to see it end there. We're making much to do about nothing on it.
BARKLEY: I completely -- first of all, Michael Jackson, I'm biased. He's my favorite entertainer ever. I think he's the greatest entertainer who lived during my generation. He made a mistake, he apologized, let's get on something serious.
NEVILLE: All right. Well I think you're going to have the same reaction to this next story regarding 76ers guard Allen Iverson, who says he is convinced that the Philadelphia police are out to get him. Iverson told reporters there could be a crooked cop out there who wants him dead. And he says he's so afraid, he might want to leave the city.
Iverson and his wife spoke out in anticipation of what is expected to be an unflattering TV report on their personal lives. And, Charles, you would like to say what on this?
BARKLEY: Allen Iverson is a really good basketball player. I don't know him as a person. But I think he's way off base with this one.
I mean, come on now, they don't want to kill him. He probably has some people he's hanging out with that want to kill him. I think the majority of police are really good people. He's obviously seen his share of bad cops, but if it weren't for the cops, we'd all be dead.
Now we bitch and complain about the cops all the time, they do all the hard and dirty work. But there are some bad apples. But Allen Iverson is just way off base with this thing.
NEVILLE: Mr. Cochran?
COCHRAN: I find myself agreeing with Charles. I think he's off base on this. I think he had some problems with the police before, and there are bad cops out there. But there's a great majority of good cops out there. And I would think that maybe he feels by saying this it will give him some protection. Maybe that's what will happen.
BARKLEY: I've got some advice for him. Stay out of trouble. He won't see the cops.
NEVILLE: OK. I want to go to the phones now. I think James (ph) is standing by. James (ph), what do you say?
JAMES: Yes, I'd like to say to Johnnie and Charles, I'm just thrilled to be saying hi to you all. I'm looking at you on TV, and I really appreciate the work you've done over the years, Johnnie, for the black community and the white community. It's not only the blacks.
I hope you all understand that Johnnie's a man of all colors. He appreciates and respects everybody. And I just appreciate the work you've done.
And Charles, I just have to say to you, man, you don't need a ring. You are the ring. And I appreciate your work. And you are one of the most respected basketball players in my lifetime, as you say about Mike. And I love you, man. The player that you are. The big, round man of rebounds.
NEVILLE: Thanks, James (ph).
BARKLEY: Thank you very much.
COCHRAN: That was his brother. NEVILLE: I know. Right. Is that your cousin, James (ph), Charles?
BARKLEY: It could have been one of my brothers.
NEVILLE: Let's see what Ed (ph) has to say.
ED: Well, I'm originally from Philadelphia. And back in college at Temple University I've had some run-ins with the Philadelphia police. And I will tell you, I agree with Charles that you have good and bad in all cases. There was a time when Philadelphia police were notoriously corrupt, just like L.A. and Chicago and other big cities.
But I agree, again, with both of the guests, that you get what you sow, you reap what you sow. And Allen has been known to hang with nefarious characters, he beat his wife supposedly, and some other things. And you know I just think that it is paranoia and not an exact representation of what's going on.
BARKLEY: And the one thing, you know, I've been arrested five or six times. And I realize that -- number one, I was found not guilty all the time, before you all snicker -- but unless you do something wrong, there's really never an opportunity for -- in most people's cases, for the cops to come into your life, to be honest with you.
NEVILLE: OK. Listen, I have to take a break right now. And coming up next, the question everyone is asking today, will sir Charles make good on his crazy bet and really put his lips together on Kenny Smith's behind in front of everybody? This is going to be good. Don't go anywhere. TALKBACK LIVE continues.
NEVILLE: And welcome back, everybody. I'm Arthel Neville. We're talking with Charles Barkley and attorney Johnnie Cochran.
And Charles, you recently lost a bet with TNT commentator, Kenny Smith. The bet had to do with Chinese basketball sensation Yao Ming. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARKLEY: Are we going to make the bet? He says Yao Ming is going to get 19 points.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On Saturday night?
BARKLEY: If he gets 19 points in the game, I'll kiss his (UNINTELLIGIBLE) right here if he gets 19 points in the game.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't score, Yao Ming, that's all right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEVILLE: Oh. Well, guess what? The Houston rookie scored 20 on Sunday. So, do you need a little bit of my Chapstick?
BARKLEY: Hey, you know what? I will pay up tomorrow night. Because, you know, you make a bet, you pay up. And, number one, I'm happy the kid played well. But he's only averaging two points a game.
NEVILLE: Yes, but you gave him incentive. Are you kidding me? They knew all about it in Houston. Apparently when he made his 20th point, the announcer of the game says, OK Charles, are you going to pucker up?
BARKLEY: Hey, you know what? Tomorrow night -- I just told Kenny to make sure he takes a shower before the show, because I made the bet and I'm going to stick by it. You know but there should be an asterisk, because Shaq didn't play. But you know what, I made the bet and I'm going to stay by my word.
NEVILLE: You're trying to get out of this?
BARKLEY: No, no. I gave my word I will do it.
NEVILLE: OK. Mr. Cochran, are you going to watch this tomorrow night?
COCHRAN: I'm going to watch this. I'll watch anyway, but I'm going to watch tomorrow night for sure.
NEVILLE: OK. Where can we see it, Charles?
BARKLEY: TNT tomorrow night, 7:00.
NEVILLE: And you know we will play that tape when you come back next Wednesday, of course.
I want to move on to something now, the Victoria's Secret controversy. Tonight, CBS is broadcasting the Victoria's Secret fashion show despite complaints from women's groups and media watchdog organizations who says it's nothing more than a soft porn infomercial. I don't know. I mean, do you have a problem with that, Charles?
BARKLEY: Well, it is. But hey, if they are going to put it on, men are going to watch. Men are definitely going to watch. I'm not going to be one of those men watching, but, man, people complain about everything.
I mean, nobody's forcing those ladies to do that. Nobody's forcing us to watch. We got a lot of crappy stuff on TV. We got "The Osbournes, we've got the chubby chick Anna Nicole got a show. We've got the guy who got 25 girls. There's a lot of crap.
NEVILLE: "The Bachelor."
BARKLEY: Yeah. That's stupid. We've got a lot of crap on television.
NEVILLE: OK. I'm sorry. I'm just getting a hard rap. Mr. Cochran, thank you so much for being with us here today. We do appreciate your presence.
COCHRNAN: It's my pleasure.
NEVILLE: And, Sir Charles, it's always good to see you as well. And I'll see you next Wednesday.
BARKLEY: Well sure.
NEVILLE: OK. And see you tomorrow night, actually. I'm going to watch that.
Up next, I'm going to take your calls and e-mails. What do you think should happen to Michael Jackson? TALKBACK LIVE continues after this break. We'll see you then.
NEVILLE: Welcome back, everybody. I'm Arthel Neville. It is time for our question of date. You've seen the video, now what do you think should happen to Michael Jackson? And Beth (ph) here from our audience will get first crack at this.
BETH: Well, I want to thank you for having me. And I think it probably was a lapse in judgment, but wouldn't it be kind of cool to dangle Michael over the side just for a minute? You know? What an opportunity.
NEVILLE: OK. Beth (ph), thank you very much for your answer. And I'm going go to Nevada now, where Diana (ph) is standing by on the phone. Go ahead.
DIANA: Hi. I think Michael Jackson ought to be charged with child endangerment, just like Martha Toogood. If that was one of us and we were caught on camera, I think we would be charged with something. And just because Michael Jackson is Michael Jackson, they probably won't do anything to him.
NEVILLE: OK. Diana (ph), thank you very much for calling in. And thanks to everyone for watching. We are out of time.
I'm Arthel Neville. I will be gone for the rest of the week, but I will be back here on Monday. So tune in tomorrow, though, for another edition of TALKBACK LIVE with Arthel Neville, even though she won't be here, but still.
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