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PAULA ZAHN NOW

Race and Presidential Politics; Cancer Vaccine Controversy

Aired February 5, 2007 - 20:00   ET

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


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, everybody. Thank you all for being with us tonight.
Here are some of the stories we're bringing out in the open tonight.

Race and presidential politics -- why is bad to call a black person articulate?

Also, if you criticize Israel, are you an anti-Semite?

And you have got to see this one to believe it. Some Ku Klux Klansman have a brand-new friend who just happens to be black.

We start tonight, though, with the hottest A-word in politics. Are you ready? That's right. The word articulate, does that surprise you, or offend you? Well, it's had people fuming all weekend long. And the outrage seems to be growing, as we speak, all because Senator Joe Biden used the A-word to describe fellow Senator and possible presidential candidate Barack Obama.

But what is it about "articulate" that offends so many people of color?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: We don't want another election where voters are simply holding their noses and feel like they're choosing the lesser of two evils.

ZAHN (voice-over): The dictionary defines an articulate person as someone who can express themselves readily, clearly or effectively. A good thing, right?

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: It's been a hell of a week.

ZAHN: Well, Senator Biden is still apologizing for calling Senator Barack Obama the first mainstream African-American who is bright, clean, and, well, articulate.

BIDEN: I want to say that I truly regret that the words I spoke offended people I admire very much.

ZAHN: The controversy overshadowed Biden's formal entry into the 2008 presidential race last week. And, in a TV interview the same day, President Bush also described Obama as attractive and articulate. The repeated use of the word "articulate" to describe a black senator sparked a national debate about the meaning of the word as it applies to African-Americans.

OBAMA: Thank you, Mr. President.

ZAHN: So, exactly what's wrong with being called articulate?

Actress Whoopi Goldberg put it to me this way during an interview a few weeks ago.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, ACTRESS: People will say to me, you are so articulate.

ZAHN: And, to that, that's a code word for, man, you have got a brain and the rest of them don't?

GOLDBERG: Well, yes. It's like, why wouldn't...

ZAHN: Is that what they're telling you?

GOLDBERG: I'm not sure what they're telling me. I'm not sure what that means.

(LAUGHTER)

ZAHN: But you think that's what they're telling you?

GOLDBERG: I think that they're telling me they don't know any black people that they can talk to.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN POWELL, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: It's a great pleasure for me to be here this afternoon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: A decade ago, when General Colin Powell was considering whether to run for president, he was often described as well-spoken.

Fast-forward to today. "Washington Post" columnist Eugene Robinson calls articulate -- quote -- "a word that's like fingernails on a blackboard." He goes on to say, "Articulate is really a shorthand way of describing a black person who isn't too black, or, rather, who comports with white America's notion of how a black person should come across."

A posting on a blog called Racialicious puts it more bluntly: "Barack Obama is AWB, articulate while black."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: We're going to turn to tonight's -- or at least part of tonight's "Out in the Open" panel. Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Clarence Page is here. He raced all the way here from Chicago. He's getting miked up. He will join us in just a second. He happens to be a member of "The Chicago Tribune"'s editorial board and author of "Showing My Color: Impolite Essays on Race and Identity." Tara Wall is a senior adviser to the Republican National Committee. Rachel Maddow is a talk show host on the Air America Radio Network.

Glad to have two-thirds of you with us tonight.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: So, Tara, what is wrong with saying to a black person, "You're articulate"?

TARA WALL, SENIOR ADVISER, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, nothing, really.

ZAHN: Is it racist?

WALL: I have been called articulate. And I think it's in the context in which you say it. And I think but it -- you also have to keep in mind the person to whom it came from. And, in Senator Biden's case, I mean, he has a history of making racially charged remarks. So, I think, in that context, it could seem offensive to some, but, generally speaking, not necessarily.

ZAHN: But I have heard African-American after African-American, particularly over the weekend, sounding off, saying that this is absolutely an insensitive and outrageous thing to call them.

RACHEL MADDOW, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I think -- I was insulted by it from Joe Biden. I think it was inappropriate for Joe Biden to say it.

I was also insulted by it when the president make the same comment in an interview the day after this -- this whole storm blew up around Joe Biden. It's insulting, because it implies that it's a remarkable trait, for an African-American to be articulate, in the same way that, you know, in meeting -- if you met -- in -- in meeting a gay man, for example, you would say, you know, I didn't feel threatened by him at all. I would allow him to be near my children.

That's only remarkable if you think that, general, that group is not represented by that comment.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Does it depend on who is using the word articulate?

WALL: Yes.

You have to look at the context in which it's said. Biden didn't say anything about how Obama -- you know, how his record was, or how he would contribute to being, you know, the president of the United States. He talked about, he was clean and articulate. But to say someone is articulate -- I have been described that way, and people say, you did a great job. You got your message across. You're articulate.

That's not offensive. How is that offensive? What is more offensive, to me, is when -- you know, I have grown up and -- I have been called by other kids, African-American kids, I have been called white, because they say I speak white. That's more offensive. What does that mean?

But to say someone is articulate, if you're talking about someone getting their point across, that's different than just saying, gee, you're awfully articulate.

ZAHN: Let's...

WALL: Then, that -- that could be offensive, yes.

ZAHN: Let's welcome to our panel Clarence Page.

CLARENCE PAGE, COLUMNIST, "THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE": Hi.

ZAHN: Sorry about that slight delay there.

(CROSSTALK)

PAGE: The articulate Clarence Page.

ZAHN: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

ZAHN: Well, I think you are.

PAGE: Thank you very much.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Now, if I were to call you that, would you view that as a racist comment?

PAGE: Well, it sounds like...

ZAHN: You're a guy who is well-spoken.

PAGE: It sounds like -- like, yes, you're so articulate, dot, dot, dot, for a black man. You know, that is what it sounds like.

ZAHN: That isn't the way I would mean it, though.

PAGE: No, but the way I hear it.

And that's why we have divisions about race and ethnicity in the country. My Jewish friends don't like hearing, geez, well, some -- some of my best friends are Jewish.

My Native Americans friends don't like hearing, gee, you know, I have got some Indian in the family.

Or my -- my Asian friends, you know, gee, how long have you been in the country? Your English is so good.

You know, these are the kind of lines that are like fingernails on a blackboard for -- for various people.

ZAHN: Let me put up something on the screen that comedian D.L. Hughley said about the word articulate: "subtle words like this are more insidious. It's the last vestiges of racism that are hard to get rid of."

What am I allowed to say to you if I think you are facile, quick on your feet...

PAGE: Well, that's the sad thing.

ZAHN: ... didn't panic when you didn't have a mike, and you know you were going to have to...

(CROSSTALK)

PAGE: You know, that's the sad thing about this, because we need more racial dialogue in the country.

WALL: That's right.

PAGE: We need more honest conversations, candid conversations.

And, if people are going to be afraid of speaking out, then -- then, we just have the same kind of problem that we have now.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: ... speaking out.

PAGE: So...

ZAHN: What if I want to compliment you?

PAGE: Well, you know...

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: What is off-limits? What is OK?

PAGE: If Joe Biden hadn't been running for office, we wouldn't be having this conversation right now.

(CROSSTALK)

WALL: And that -- but that is where the absurdity comes in, is, I mean, what -- where do the -- I mean, where do we end and begin on words that are banned and words that are not banned?

You have to use some common sense, yes, but are we going to ban the entire English language, because some folks are offended by certain words?

MADDOW: We're not going to ban anything.

But I do think that, when our language reflects our prejudices, when we don't talk about our prejudices, and our language reflects it, it's a point that draws people -- people's attention.

It did bother me when President Bush said it. It did bother me when Joe Biden said it. And it's not that I don't like the word articulate. They could have said Barack Obama is wicked smart, and I wouldn't have batted an eye.

But there's something about that speaking to our prejudices that we need to acknowledge and get out in the open, instead of doing it on the sly.

ZAHN: All right.

So, I'm not going to be comfortable using the A-word anymore.

(LAUGHTER)

ZAHN: But what can I...

(CROSSTALK)

WALL: Paula, but it's not offensive when it comes from you...

(CROSSTALK)

WALL: ... because the intent is not there.

(CROSSTALK)

WALL: It is offensive when someone is sitting there and, out of the blue, say -- would say to me -- look at me and say, boy, you're awfully articulate.

Now, you have -- this is the first time you have heard me speak. You don't know anything about me. What are you saying? Then, it becomes an issue of, yes, there's some sensitivity there.

But coming from, you know, generally you speaking, saying, this is an articulate person -- I describe my father as articulate. I -- in fact, I'm very -- when I describe him to people, I talk about a lot of things, but the one thing I'm most proud of him is because he prides himself on how articulate he is. And he is very articulate.

ZAHN: But help us better understand what we're allowed to say that won't offend blacks.

PAGE: You know, just think about, you know, would I be saying this if this person were white?

I remember back when Alan Keyes was running for president.

(CROSSTALK)

PAGE: And a lot of white conservatives I know were saying: I like that Alan Keyes. He's so articulate, meaning, he's not Jesse Jackson.

WALL: Yes.

PAGE: It was coded language.

WALL: Yes.

PAGE: And that's what we have too much of.

WALL: And if that's all I have got to say about him, yes, absolutely.

PAGE: Exactly. Exactly.

The same thing with Condoleezza Rice -- I hear it all the time, you know? And it seems rather transparent and insincere. You know, I always try to think about not what somebody is saying, but how are they saying it, and is there any hidden meaning here, you know?

MADDOW: Hidden meaning, yes, exactly.

ZAHN: Let's move on to another controversy, this one also involving Senator Obama, this time over something one of his longtime supporters is saying.

Emil Jones Jr., the president of the Illinois State Senate and one of Obama's political mentors, is questioning whether black Democrats still owe Bill and Hillary Clinton their support.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EMIL JONES JR., PRESIDENT, ILLINOIS STATE SENATE: I do not feel that I would have to go year after year being supportive of an individual or their spouse or their daughter, when I have my own son who is equally qualified to be president. I'm going to support my son.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Back to our panel now.

Do blacks have an obligation to support what some consider their son, Barack Obama?

PAGE: Well, I think -- I think that -- I think that's the wrong question.

The question people are really asking is, is my vote going to be wasted or is it going to count if I vote for Obama? The same thing happened when Harold Washington ran in Chicago, speaking of Illinois, back -- back in '83, when I made my bones as a political reporter on TV, Paula, back at a little station you used to work at, in fact.

ZAHN: I remember it well.

PAGE: And, you know, Harold Washington had to convince black voters first that -- that he could beat the Chicago machine, a tall order. He had been trounced by them in '77. That was the first thing he had to do. Then, he moved out and reached out to white voters, and was able to eventually win.

Obama's people -- I have talked to him, talked to his folks and all. And they understand this as well. You know, half the country doesn't know enough about Barack Obama to answer whether -- up or down to a pollster right now.

So, a lot of opinions are still being formed. And I think that's the real question to ask.

ZAHN: What obligation do you think some blacks feel to pay back a debt of gratitude to Bill and Hillary Clinton?

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: A lot of -- a lot of African-Americans I speak to think that he and his presidency vastly improved their lives.

WALL: Well, you know, talking about wasted votes, I, frankly, think that, if -- if they vote Democrat, that's a wasted vote. I would prefer they vote Republican.

But...

(LAUGHTER)

PAGE: OK. Your prejudices are out.

(CROSSTALK)

WALL: Are out there.

(CROSSTALK)

PAGE: That's OK. Very good.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

WALL: But, given that, I would say, listen, no -- you know, this -- I think, actually, this is -- this is good for Democrats. It gives an opportunity to not take the black vote for granted, as they have done year after year after year, over and over again.

Obama doesn't have a lock on the black vote. Hillary Clinton doesn't have a lock on the black vote. No one -- I think people -- you can -- you can't vote for a person based on race. You have to vote on the issues and where they lie -- where your..

(CROSSTALK)

PAGE: But don't you wish Colin Powell had run in '95, '96? Don't you?

WALL: Well, I wish Condoleezza Rice would run now.

(LAUGHTER)

PAGE: Right. Right. I mean, you know...

(CROSSTALK)

PAGE: The Republicans wished they had this kind of a candidate, just like Democrats have wished all along. That's part of the thrill that Democrats have about Obama.

WALL: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

WALL: And I think it will be a good challenge for them, absolutely.

ZAHN: But will America ever move beyond voting along the color of people's skin?

MADDOW: Well, for president, we have never really had the opportunity, other than Alan Keyes' candidacy.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: But you certainly have on the state level, on the national level for Senate races.

(CROSSTALK)

PAGE: Al Sharpton.

(CROSSTALK)

MADDOW: When it comes down to it, this -- the fact is that minority groups -- there is a value to minority groups to seeing a member of your minority in a position of leadership. There is a value to that. There is a value to seeing Colin Powell as secretary of -- as -- as secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice as national security adviser and secretary of state.

Those things matter. It matters that there's a woman speaker of the House in Nancy Pelosi right now. It matters for what kids of that minority group -- or, in the case of Nancy Pelosi, girls -- can imagine themselves being. It matters. It's not everything, though. And if -- I think, if Condoleezza Rice ran this year, ran in 2008, I actually think she probably wouldn't get a large part of the black vote, because I don't think she has shown herself to represent black interests very well.

ZAHN: Well...

MADDOW: But it is enough to make people pay attention to her. And her candidacy would be important.

ZAHN: All right, panel, stay right there. We have got a lot more to talk about tonight.

A lot of people furious with former President Jimmy Carter right now, because his new book accuses Israel of practicing apartheid against the Palestinians.

It has brought a larger controversy out in the open. Still ahead: Can anyone criticizes Israel without being called anti- Semitic?

And next:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sixth-grade girls in Texas will soon be required to receive a vaccine that prevents cervical cancer. But not all parents are happy about it.

I will get into the controversy -- when PAULA ZAHN NOW continues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Still ahead tonight: the tapes that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger didn't want you to hear. No wonder. Just wait until you hear what he says on them.

Now, if there were a vaccine that would protect your child from a kind of cancer that kills thousands of people every year, chances are, you would make sure your child gets it.

But the next story we're bringing out in the open is not that simple, because it involves sex, parents' rights, and women's health. The governor of Texas has just signed an order to require girls in sixth grade to get the vaccine for HPV, the virus that causes cervical cancer. And 18 other states are considering doing the same thing.

Ed Lavandera has story tonight from Dallas.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JULIANNE JACOBS, STUDENT: You should do it before you're sexually active. LAVANDERA (voice-over): Julianne Jacobs is ahead of the class, one of the first young girls in Texas to receive a vaccine against the human papillomavirus. HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that can cause cervical cancer.

The federal government says, the recently approved vaccine can prevent most types of cervical cancer. Julianne's parents have told her it's not a free pass to start having sex.

JACOBS: And, because, you know, that vaccine doesn't guarantee -- guarantee safety. It can still -- you can still get past it, and you could get that disease, even if you have the vaccination.

LAVANDERA: But, when Texas Governor Rick Perry signed an executive order, making it mandatory starting in September of 2008 for sixth-grade girls to receive the vaccine, many parents were angry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The government should let parents make their own decisions for things like this.

LAVANDERA: Dawn Richardson is lobbying Texas lawmakers against making the vaccine mandatory, and also has a daughter of her own.

DAWN RICHARDSON, LOBBYIST AND PARENT: There's no proof that this vaccine is going to affect the rates of cervical cancer, because the vaccine is being administered to 11-year-old girls. It's only been tested for four years.

LAVANDERA: The FDA says, the vaccine is safe and effective, requiring three shots over a six-month period. But some critics worry that making the vaccine mandatory will promote premarital sex, instead of abstinence.

PETER SPRIGG, VICE PRESIDENT FOR POLICY, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: We feel it's very important that people not be told that this is a vaccine that will make it safe to have sex.

LAVANDERA (on camera): Governor Perry is a staunch conservative. And he says this idea protects life and promotes women's health. And he says parents will ultimately be allowed to decide whether or not their daughters get this vaccine. They can apply to opt out of if they object to it for religious or moral reasons.

(voice-over): The Republican governor is receiving support from unlikely places, Planned Parenthood and even many Democrats, who see this strictly as a public health issue.

JESSICA FARRAR (D), TEXAS STATE REPRESENTATIVE: What's disturbing to me is, if it were for a vaccine for any other type of cancer, there would be no -- there would be no objection. And it's bothersome to me that women's health continues to be politicized.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The only cervical cancer vaccine, Gardasil.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gardasil.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAVANDERA: Lisa Jacobs learned about the vaccine several months ago, when commercials started promoting the drug. She doesn't understand how parents could be opposed to a vaccine that could save a daughter's life.

LISA JACOBS, PARENT: I think they're hiding their heads in the sand. I mean, I think you have to face reality. Unless you live -- your children never leave your house, and you have got total control over them, I think you're doing them a disservice, absolutely.

LAVANDERA: Lisa Jacobs says, getting this vaccine will help prepare her daughter for the dangers lurking in the real world.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Dallas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: So, are parents jeopardizing their children's health by refusing to let them get the shots? I will ask our panel that in just a minute.

And, then, a little bit later on: When does criticism of Israel cross the line and become anti-Semitic? We're going to debate whether Israel is just too sensitive to any criticism.

Then, a little bit later on: what Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has to say when the cameras aren't on. You're not going to want to miss this one. I don't think the governor is going to be too crazy about you hearing it. But we will dip in on that conversation a little bit later on tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: There are 10,000 cases of cervical cancel -- cancer, that is, every year, 4,000 deaths.

Out in the open tonight: the controversy over requiring sixth- grade girls to get the HPV vaccine to prevent the sexually transmitted disease that can lead to cervical cancer.

Texas has just started requiring the shots -- 18 other states also considering it.

Let's go back to tonight's "Out in the Open," panel, Clarence Page, with his mike on -- yes -- Tara Wall, Rachel Maddow.

(LAUGHTER)

ZAHN: So, Clarence, should this be mandatory...

PAGE: I think...

ZAHN: ... and made mandatory by state government? PAGE: You know, what troubles me is making it mandatory before the public is adequately educated, because I saw what happened with Roe vs. Wade, which I personally support as a decision.

But I saw the backlash, which we're still feeling politically across the country, because it was imposed on the country. This is a very personal thing. Whenever government gets into something as personal as, say, 12-year-olds, like -- like, my 12-year-old niece, mandating that she has got to get a shot that many people think is connected to sexual promiscuity -- I don't think it is.

ZAHN: Sure.

PAGE: But so many people think that, we obviously need a lot of public educating out there. So, it troubles me to do it do it too quickly.

ZAHN: But, even with public education...

MADDOW: Yes.

ZAHN: ... there is a strong view that you're promoting promiscuity. There are people think, since this vaccine has been around only for four years, that it really won't convincingly reduce rates of cervical cancer. So, what difference is it going to make if there's a time lag before you make it mandatory?

MADDOW: It's -- well, here's the thing.

If we were talking about a vaccine for any other kind of cancer, as a person in your previous segment described, we would be singing hallelujah right now. But the fact that this is a disease that is spread by sexual contact, human papillomavirus, which leads to cervical cancer, all of a sudden, we get hysterical and lose the ability to think reasonably about this.

(LAUGHTER)

MADDOW: Once you bring up sex, we lose all public health rationality about this.

And, so, I think that, really, what you need to consider is whether or not this going to be treated as a public health and safety issue, or whether this is going to be another thing about which we have a hysterical sex conversation involving teenagers, because we can't -- we have that debate.

ZAHN: But you know it will be a little bit of both of them.

(CROSSTALK)

WALL: Listen -- listen, you talk not having the buy-in, and the public not having the buy-in of the legislature. The governor did this on his won.

The governor, whom I respect -- and, actually, he's my governor. I voted for him. But he's wrong.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: He's a conservative governor. He is your governor.

WALL: He is. He has been a very good conservative governor.

But he's wrong on this issue. As my mother says, a person can be sincere, but they can be sincerely wrong.

(CROSSTALK)

MADDOW: How can a vaccine for cancer be wrong?

WALL: There's -- there's no -- there's no -- there was no parental -- you're usurping parental rights. You're usurping the legislature.

(CROSSTALK)

WALL: Make it an opt-in, as opposed to an opt-out. There is an opt-out provision, of course.

ZAHN: Sure.

WALL: But why not make it an opt-in, as opposed to an opt-out.

(CROSSTALK)

MADDOW: Would you do that for measles? Would you do that for rubella? Would you do that for polio? Would you do that for...

(CROSSTALK)

WALL: This has to do with a very sensitive...

(CROSSTALK)

MADDOW: With sex.

WALL: Absolutely -- issue...

MADDOW: Right.

WALL: ... that is a family issue, that parents need to discuss with their children amongst themselves, and not to have the government impose upon them.

MADDOW: How has that been working so far?

(CROSSTALK)

WALL: That's not for the government to decide.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: If you want to see how it's working so far, I want you all to look at the screen right now...

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: ... because this is a staggering statistic.

This is the incidence of HPV hitting young kids in this 14- to 19-year-old age group. We know that about a third of kids that are 13 to 16 are sexually active.

So, do you think parents have their heads in the sand?

(CROSSTALK)

PAGE: Well, of course, yes. Parents do have their head in the sands about sex and drugs. We know that.

But there's also the question about, do parents who want to take responsibility for their kids, should they be entitled to have opt-out or opt-in choices? I think that is really what at issue here.

(CROSSTALK)

PAGE: You talk about rubella and several other contagious diseases which you can catch without having sex, I mean, there's a reason to want to control a contagion that travels in the air, and -- and to mandate that.

MADDOW: But look at that figure.

(CROSSTALK)

PAGE: When you're talking about something that is more personal -- well, look at the figures...

MADDOW: This is -- it's endemic.

(CROSSTALK)

MADDOW: If you're a teenager having sex, basically, you're going to get HPV.

(CROSSTALK)

PAGE: Just to play devil's advocate, which I'm very good at...

WALL: But what if you're not having sex?

(CROSSTALK)

WALL: What if you're not having sex?

(CROSSTALK)

WALL: There are plenty of teenagers out there who -- who -- who have had discussion with their parents who choose to remain abstinent or virgins until they're married, until... (CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: But you know what the manufacturers...

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Hang on one second. The manufacturers of the vaccine say, that's a good thing...

MADDOW: Yes.

ZAHN: ... because they said that the vaccine is more effective when you're inoculated before you start having sex.

(CROSSTALK)

WALL: Well, the other factor is -- and my mother is a nurse as well. And some of the issues that are being raised is how new this is. It hasn't been tested and tried. It needs to be given some time.

The other portion, again, opt-in, not make an opt-out. Let parents decide. This is the government assuming parents don't know what's best for their children. I think that's a little bit elitist.

ZAHN: OK, gang. Tara Wall, Rachel Maddow, Clarence Page, thanks for all your perspectives.

We have got a really hot topic coming up as well. Next: Can anyone criticize Israel without being accused of anti-Semitism?

And a little bit later on: outrage over the sentences handed down today to black teenagers who beat up three white women on Halloween.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Coming up in this half hour, black teens face justice in the beatings of three white women. Some people say the sentences handed down today are outrageously unfair.

Here's a story you've got to see to believe, a black man making friends with white Ku Klux Klansmen.

Plus, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger opens up on tape. That one's got to be good. I don't think he wants you to be listening to it tonight. You'll see. He'll be here with us a little bit later on tonight.

But first, we're going to bring out in the open something so sensitive many people are just afraid to talk about it publicly. It is criticizing Israel and what many people say is the risk of being labeled anti-Semitic if you speak out against the Jewish state. We ask special correspondent Frank Sesno to look into this explosive controversy for us tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) FRANK SESNO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been dubbed anti-Semitic, Jew hating, nutty or paranoid and it's the kind of reaction that often breeds criticism of Israel or American foreign policy toward Israel. Former President Jimmy Carter felt it firsthand when he began his book tour last fall. The title and contents of his books outraged some Jewish Americans and suddenly the Nobel Prize winner who brokered peace between Israel and Egypt found himself accused of anti-Semitism.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're an anti-Semite and let me explain why I think you're a bigot and racist and an anti-Semite.

SESNO: President Carter later apologized for a passage that appeared to justify Palestinian terror attacks.

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is the first time that I've ever been called a liar and a bigot and an anti- Semite. This has hurt me.

SESNO: Another person who hit a raw nerve, former General Wesley Clark, who was accused of an anti-Semitic smear last month for saying the U.S. was being pushed toward war in Iran by quote, New York money people, meaning wealthy Jewish New Yorkers. The Republican Jewish coalition lashed out at Clark, saying old stereotypes about Jews feed into anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about Jewish power and in a full page newspaper ad, demanded Clark publicly apologize. Clark wrote the Anti-Defamation League explaining his position, saying his comments should not be misinterpreted. Accusations like these are hitting uncomfortably close to home for some American Jews as well. Recently the American Jewish Committee, a staunch defender of Israel posted an essay on its web site accusing dozens of liberal Jewish Americans of fueling anti-Semitism with their critical publications.

KEN JACOBSON, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: Will they demonize Israel? They don't just criticize Israel. They definitely fall into the category of every problem that has arisen since 1948 in the Middle East is related to the quote, unquote terrible policies of Israel.

SESNO: Those who criticize Israel and U.S. policy toward it, may confront the wrath of the American Israel lobby. One of the most influential groups is APAC, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, a major presence on Capitol Hill. It monitors lawmakers' votes and taps the billions it helps secure for Israel.

For years, the U.S. and Israel shared a special relationship built on history, shared values and Israel's strategic importance in an unstable part of the world. But the increasingly lethal mix in the Mideast, led by the war in Iraq, has sparked new debate among some Americans. A hard look at Israel's role and responsibilities in the Middle East seems reasonable enough. The question is, where does legitimate criticism leave off and anti-Semitism begin? Frank Sesno, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And joining me now, Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of "Tikkun" magazine and author of "The Left Hand of God, Taking our Country back from the Religious Right." Also with me tonight, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, author of many books, including "Preemption, a Knife That Cuts Both Ways." Great to have both of you with us tonight. Professor, I'm going to start with you first. What is the fine line between legitimately criticizing Israel or saying something that's considered anti-Semitic?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: I think criticism of Israel is not only legitimate. It's desirable. I criticize Israel all the time. I criticize many aspects of its war in Lebanon. I criticize its settlement policy. I criticize the occupation. Nobody has ever called me an anti-Semite. In fact, several years ago I offered a reward, a large reward for anybody who could find any prominent Jewish leader, not somebody who calls in a talk show, but any prominent Jewish leader, who has ever equated legitimate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.

It's just a canard. It's doesn't -- it's made up by people who want to somehow receive sympathetic looks because they say, oh my God. We're being called anti-Semitic. It just doesn't happen. There are critics of Israel who are anti Semites. David Duke is a critic of Israel and an anti-Semite. But one of the people who publishes in Michael Lerner's magazine has written, for example, that Jews, Israel should be flattered by a comparison with the Gestapo, the Nazi Gestapo. That goes over the line to anti-Semitism, but I think generally you should avoid using the term anti-Semitism. Criticism of Israel is good.

ZAHN: Professor, you didn't have the benefit of seeing Rabbi Lerner's face while you were talking and for the last 30 seconds or so, he is rolling his eyes and chuckling. What proof do you have that this isn't made up, Rabbi Lerner?

RABBI MICHAEL LERNER, ED, TIKKUN MAGAZINE: I think many Americans already know and almost every Jew knows that when they criticize Israel, they face a torrent of attack both in the organized Jewish community where many, many, many young Jews have left our community because they are labeled either self-hating Jews or really explicitly anti-Semitic. And I myself with "Tikkun" magazine which I formed some 20 years ago, which is the largest liberal Jewish magazine in the world, "Tikkun" has articulated a critique of Israel. And it has, although we're strong supporters of Israel, but critiquing its policies and has consistently been attacked and labeled in the organized Jewish community.

ZAHN: Rabbi, give me an example of something that you have published you have been immediately assaulted with charges that you're anti-Semitic, briefly here because I want to give the professor a chance to jump in.

LERNER: Well, let me say that we brought hundreds of people to Washington, DC each year to try to create an alternative to APAC and each time we meet with our elected representatives, they tell us privately that they feel entirely agreeing with our middle path that is both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine, but that they dare not say it in public because they know that they will be insulted as anti-Israel and anti-Semitic and this is a reality of peoples' experience. When you go and speak to your congress people and try to put forward a view that encourages them to criticize --

ZAHN: Professor, if you think defenders of Israel are too quick to label someone anti-Semitic, if that criticism goes a little too far.

DERSHOWITZ: It just doesn't happen. Again, the best evidence of it is Michael Lerner. You asked him a direct question and his answer was, well, the people who come to Washington feel that maybe they'll be called anti-Semitic. It just doesn't happen. If it happened, it would be very easy. People could go on Google, could go to the web site and could find the many instances where Jewish leaders have allegedly called mere critics of Israel anti-Semitic and they can come to me and collect the reward. It just hasn't happened. You talked in your set up piece you talked about APAC counting and monitoring the votes. Every lobbying group in America monitors the vote. Let me tell you what is anti-Semitism. When Israel is singled out and only Israel is singled out for divestiture, for criticism, when people say that it's OK for China and Cuba and the Palestinian authority but and only single out Israel, that crosses lines. When Israel is compared to Nazi, Germany, that crosses lines.

ZAHN: And Rabbi Lerner, that has happened. You know that has happened.

LERNER: Israel is engaged in a policy that is immoral and a violation of the highest values of our Jewish people. And yet many, many Jews feel that they cannot say that without being labeled an anti Semite.

DERSHOWITZ: Say it, just say it. If you say it, nobody is going to call you an anti-Semite. Only you are saying that.

LERNER: No, no, no. That's not true. In fact...

DERSHOWITZ: It's just not happening.

LERNER: The leadership of the ADL has called Carter a bigot and you yourself --

DERSHOWITZ: Have they ever called you an anti-Semite? They haven't called you an anti-Semite. You're one of Israel's most virulent critics. Come on. I've never called you -- I've never called Carter an anti-Semite. Nobody has ever called me an anti-Semite and I'm critical of Israel. Why don't they criticize me if I'm a critic of Israel?

ZAHN: Gentlemen, we can't hear both of you talking. Let me give you both 10 seconds for closing, Rabbi Lerner and we'll let Alan Dershowitz close it up.

LERNER: I think that the silencing of debate is a new kind of Jewish political correctness that is destructive to the Jewish people and destructive to American political debate.

ZAHN: And Alan, you won't acknowledge the debate is ever silenced by the popular and prestigious and --

DERSHOWITZ: No. Go on college campuses all over the United States. There is no country more criticized, more openly criticized than Israel. In fact supporting Israel on college campuses today is rather difficult to do but opposing it, everybody is free to do it and open to do it. This is an open society. Criticize anybody you want but don't accuse others of calling you an anti-Semite when it doesn't happen.

ZAHN: Alan Dershowitz, Rabbi Michael Lerner, out in the open tonight. Thank you. Appreciate you both dropping by.

Coming up next, some outrage in Long Beach. Has the justice system failed three white victims of a vicious hate crime or wrongfully convicted nine black teens? The details coming up next.

A little bit later on, a black man looks racism in the face and finds friends in the Ku Klux Klan. You got that one right. You got to see it to believe it. Plus, some unguarded moments with the "governator" and a tape recorder. Moments he probably wishes you weren't going to hear tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: And welcome back. Tonight there is growing outrage in a California town over the punishment given to several young blacks in a racially charged hate crime. Today a Long Beach, California judge sentenced four black teenage girls to probation, house arrest and community service for a vicious Halloween night beating of three white women. Last Friday, four other black teens were also involved, got the same sentence, avoiding any detention at all. And as Peter Viles reports, the victims and their families are outraged.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA SCHNEIDER, BEATING VICTIM'S MOTHER: If these nine were tried in an adult court, which some of them should have been, they would have gotten 13 years for what they did.

PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A mother's anger that four of the teenagers convicted of beating her daughter were released, sent home to serve 60 days of house arrest. One of them, an 18-year-old black male found guilty of a hate crime.

DOUG OTTO, BEATING VICTIM'S ATTORNEY: They were sent home on probation. At the same time that one of the victims in this case is literally currently undergoing facial reconstruction surgery for her face being completely repositioned.

SCHNEIDER: They're repositioning her eyeball and her face. She has to have bone grafts out of other places on her face to build a new eye socket for her eye.

VILES: In late January, nine black teenagers, eight of them girls, were convicted in juvenile court of beating three white women on Halloween night. Witnesses said the attackers shouted racial insults during the beating. The judge, Gibson Lee ruled that eight of the nine had acted out of racial hatred. While the victims' families questioned the sentences, black activists who gathered in Los Angeles Saturday saw something completely different, a judicial system that treated the teenagers unfairly.

LETA HERRON, LA URBAN POLICY ROUNDTABLE: They were being convicted in the press before they had even been in front of the judge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A middle age white judge. That's not a jury of your peers.

EARL OFARI HUTCHINSON, LA URBAN POLICY ROUNDTABLE: The white girls perjured themselves. They said that they weren't drinking. The medical doctor who testified stated that they were drinking.

HERRON: Many of us are unhappy that the incident happened at all. But at the same time we want to know what sparked it. We believe there was a spark and we want to know where that spark came from.

VILES: Conservative radio talk show host John Ziegler says that kind of talk is absurd.

JOHN ZIEGLER, KFI RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: These judge gave these defendants may more justice than they deserved and these two-bit, class A or even rookie league bogus civil rights leaders that represent nobody are flat out lying to protect people of their own race which to me is racist.

VILES: Despite prosecutors' efforts to sentence the guilty youths to nine months in a juvenile lock up, the 14 sentenced Friday got 60 days of house arrest and were ordered into anger management and racial tolerance programs. One prosecutor called the sentence an abomination.

SCHNEIDER: So Long Beach, lock your doors and don't go on your front lawns because it's not safe.

VILES: Peter Viles for CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: There's another thing to add. One more convicted teenager is expected to be sentenced tomorrow.

Coming up, the eye-opening results when a black man tries to make friends in the Ku Klux Klan. Yeah, that's right. You're going to see it unfold here with us.

And a little bit later on, tapes that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger never thought you'd hear. That coming up in a moment. Please stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ZAHN: Welcome back. We are about to bring you an almost unbelievable story out into the open. Ask yourself how willing would you be to make friends with someone who hates you because of your skin color. That's exactly why this man you're about to meet caught our attention. We have seen many stories about the Ku Klux Klan and black people persecuted by the Klan. And we were amazed to hear about a black man who reached out to Klansmen and even made friends with some of them. Don't believe it? Neither did we. Here's Thelma Gutierrez with the proof.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DARRYL DAVIS: I think church bombings, church burnings.

BOB WHITE, FORMER KLANSMEN: People (INAUDIBLE) say the Klan preaches, it thrives on violence. I think it's wrong to mix the races.

DAVIS: Racism is like a cancer. If you choose to ignore cancer, it metastasizes.

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bob White was a Ku Klux Klan leader for 20 years.

WHITE: I'm respected in the Klan.

GUTIERREZ: Darryl Davis has been a victim of racism.

DAVIS: I remember going to a public swimming pool with some friends of mine, some white guys and when I got in, everybody got out. A guy in the dressing room called me a --

GUTIERREZ: Davis has gone on to play with some of the biggest names in music. Somehow Bob White, the Klansman and Darryl Davis, the musician ended up like this.

DAVIS: I never set out to convert anybody. I simply set out to get information for my book.

GUTIERREZ: Davis wanted to understand the roots of racism so he sought out KKK leaders. They didn't know he was black until he showed up for the interviews.

DAVIS: Some cases some wouldn't talk to me. In other cases, I was attacked.

GUTIERREZ: But other Klan leaders opened their doors and sat down and talked with Davis.

DAVIS: The more you find things in common, the less you have in contrast.

GUTIERREZ: Amazingly, Davis even began attending Klan rallies. He says it was all in the name of research for his book, "Klan Destine Relationships."

WHITE: At least respects me to sit down and listen to me.

GUTIERREZ: Davis said he didn't set out to befriend any Klansmen, but over the years it happened.

DAVIS: This is Roger Kelly.

GUTIERREZ: Kelly was the imperial wizard of Maryland.

DAVIS: Today Roger Kelly is out of the Klan.

GUTIERREZ: Do you think that you had something to do with Roger Kelly leaving the Klan?

DAVIS: Oh, I know I did. It was an exchange of information. It made him rethink his ideology.

GUTIERREZ: In all, 13 Klansmen and women who got to know Davis left the Klan, giving him their Klan medallions, T-shirts, robes and hoods.

DAVIS: People say to me Darryl, how can you have this stuff? I will never burn this. It means they no longer believe in the ideology and philosophy behind these things.

GUTIERREZ: There is one retired Klansman who has not given up his robes but Davis still considers him one of his closest friends. It's Bob White, the former Maryland grand dragon who Davis has known for 15 years.

WHITE: I saw that Darryl was an honest man. He can carry a message. And I think it's proven that the blacks and whites can communicate.

GUTIERREZ: Their friendship runs so deep that when Davis was attacked by Klansmen 12 years ago, White broke the Klan oath and went to court and testified against them. Once Davis testified on behalf of Klansman he says were wrongly accused of crimes, an odd alliance that has been criticized by both sides.

DAVIS: I've been called Uncle Tom, an Oreo. I've been called all kinds of names. (INAUDIBLE) said to me, we have worked hard to get 10 steps forward and you're putting us 20 steps back by sitting down with the enemy.

WHITE: What do I say when everybody (INAUDIBLE) and the younger ones don't know me and they say he's a -- lover. I've seen him on television, sitting right next to this guy. As they get older, they realize that shooting and cutting and killing is not going to get the job accomplished. You're going to have to have some rapport between everybody to sit down and talk these things over.

GUTIERREZ: Advice that's led to an unexpected life-long friendship.

DAVIS: Will you come to my wedding?

WHITE: Sure, I'll be at your wedding if you want me there.

GUTIERREZ: Why would you go to his wedding if you don't believe in the mixing of races?

WHITE: I will attend his wedding if he wants me there just because it's Darryl.

GUTIERREZ: Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Baltimore, Maryland.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: We all got a lot to learn don't we? Right now we're going to take a quick biz break. On Wall Street today the Dow gained 8 points. The Nasdaq lost 5. The S&P was slightly lower. Some analysts say airlines are having a tough time trying to boost low fares. Last Friday, Delta Airlines raised fares by $5 to make up for higher fuel prices. Today the airline canceled the fare increase and so did other airlines that had matched it.

Direction of the housing market still anyone's guess. Today Merrill Lynch said a glut of one million mostly vacant homes could mean another downturn in real estate. But December home sales jumped nearly 5 percent and that was higher than expected. Go figure.

Coming up at the top of the hour, "Larry King Live," Miss USA, Tara Conner, speaks out about her stint in rehab. She's back.

But first, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, unscripted, unplugged, all caught on tape. Wait until you hear what he has to say.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: So what does California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger really think? Well, tonight that is out in the open because it is all on tape. His speech writer made the recordings last year to get used to the way the governor talks. Oh, boy, did the governor talk. Here's Carol Costello.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The recordings are very much Arnold unplugged, back room conversations, a window into what he really thinks. Listen to what he says about his famous wife's tinkering with his speeches.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOVERNOR ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: She is relentless. She will not stop. I like to lock it in, even if it's not perfect. But she goes until the last day. I said Maria, it's over. It's locked in. It's in the teleprompter.

COSTELLO: Schwarzenegger, who is also heard talking with his aides about his political opponent, dishes about Democratic State Senator Don Perata.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Perata is a really sick man.

AIDE: Really?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Oh yeah, absolutely.

COSTELLO: Quite a revelation for a politician who prides himself on his bipartisanship. The question is, will that bipartisan cooperation continue?

The governor's staff told me last night that Schwarzenegger had apologized but I spoke to Senator Perata's office this morning and they said the senator had gotten no apology from the governor and described the senator as being not in a particularly happy mood this morning.

COSTELLO: The governor also discusses another hot button issue, immigration. He calls the idea of a fence between Mexico and the United States ridiculous. And when it comes to the subject of assimilation, he says Mexican immigrants do need to work harder to assimilate in the United States.

SCHWARZENEGGER: We love Mexico. We go there on vacation. We love to hear the mariachi music and all that stuff. But up here, for us to feel sympathetic towards you, you have to carry the American flag and you have to say we want to be part of you. We love you.

COSTELLO: It is difficult to say what impact Governor Schwarzenegger's not for prime time conversations will have on his political future. But according to Senator Perata, he's not upset by the governor's comments. He says he's been called worse. Carol Costello, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: That was pretty generous of him. Those unguarded moments with Governor Schwarzenegger first showed up apparently by accident on the governor's web site. When the "LA Times" got a hold of them, the governor's office decided to let everyone have them.

That wraps it up for all of us here tonight. Thanks so much for joining us. Tomorrow night, fashionable intolerance. Inside the world of the super skinny fashion models. The pressure to be a size zero and the debate about banning thin ones from the American runways. That's out in the open tomorrow night. Hope you join us then.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com

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