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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Don Imus Fired By CBS; Imus Meets with Rutgers Women's Basketball Team; Interview With Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Reverend Al Sharpton
Aired April 12, 2007 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
This morning, he said he was done apologizing. This afternoon, CBS said he was done.
Tonight, breaking news: Don Imus right now standing face to face with the young women he once called "nappy-headed hos." Imus is meeting with the Rutgers University woman's basketball team came just hours after CBS dumped him -- more on that shortly.
First, though, tonight's meeting at the New Jersey governor's mansion in Princeton, where CNN's Deborah Feyerick joins us now -- Deborah.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, what we can tell you is that Rutgers basketball players are inside the governor's mansion. And they are listening to what Don Imus has to say. We have been in contact with somebody who is in that meeting, who says it is a long way from being over.
Don Imus has said he wanted to apologize to these women. Now he has his chance. They are listening. They are hearing him out to see whether, in fact, his apology is sincere, or whether the apology comes after what has been an onslaught of public criticism and the loss of both his television and his radio jobs.
Now, the women and the coach and some family members arrived here at the governor's mansion about 7:45 this evening. Don Imus had arrived about half-an-hour earlier. He had been at his apartment. And he actually tried to give reporters who were following him the slip -- one of his security details actually blocking the cars of one of the reporters. He was trying to keep this secret -- this meeting secret.
And he got here. And it doesn't seem as if he was followed until word got out. Now, the meeting began at about 8:00. It's been going on for two hours. Our source inside is telling us that it is a long way from being over.
Jon Corzine, the governor, had offered the mansion as sort of neutral territory. It is unclear exactly when the meeting was set. But, in a weird turn of events, the governor, who was on his way here from Atlantic City after a series of public meetings, got into a big car accident. His injuries are not life-threatening. However, he is in surgery. He suffered fractures to his leg and also to his ribs. So, right now, the head of the state Senate is actually the acting governor, as Jon Corzine is in surgery -- this meeting, however, taking place inside the governor's mansion, and, again, don't know what is being said or whether Don Imus' apology will be accepted -- Anderson.
COOPER: At this point, are there plans for any kind of press conference afterward? And how many reporters right now are on the scene?
FEYERICK: Well, right now, there are a lot of reporters on the scene. A lot of the local press is here. And the -- the -- the road out in front of the governor's mansion is just lined with cars.
The basketball players are going to consider whether, in fact, they do want to make some sort of a public statement. But this is a meeting that could go on for a couple of hours yet. It's just unclear -- Anderson.
COOPER: Well, we're on the air for the next two hours. We will continue to follow it live, bring you any breaking developments as warranted.
Deborah, thanks very much. We will be talking to you again shortly.
The Reverend Al Sharpton has been front and center, calling for Imus' firing, of course.
Former Texas Congressman Tom DeLay, on the other hand, sees the Imus affair as part of a larger political strategy, and liberals as the real bad guys.
He's the author of "No Retreat, No Surrender: One American's Fight."
I spoke with both gentlemen earlier this evening.
COOPER: Congressman DeLay, CBS, obviously, fired Imus today from his radio show. What's your reaction?
REP. TOM DELAY (R), FORMER HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Well, I think this is a bigger issue here.
It's amazing to me that the left are treating verbal offenses as if they were crimes. Where is the public outcry? Who made Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton judge and jury? I guess, now that we're into this political correctness police, and Al Sharpton is the chief of that police, then conservatives can join the battle.
And that's what I'm saying. Let's join the battle now. Let's take on -- and I'm calling for conservatives to take on Rosie O'Donnell. And she called Christians, compared them to Islamofascists. She criticized and ridiculed Chinese Americans. She accused the president of being responsible for 9/11.
Let's now start calling for her resignation, and start writing Barbara Walters. You can go to Townhall.com and look at my action items to now take on Rosie O'Donnell, if that's where we're going.
COOPER: Reverend Sharpton, is this political correctness gone amok? Do you have any business being the police of political correctness?
AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: First of all, we're not the police. I'm not the police.
And what Congressman DeLay is saying really doesn't address the point. Right-wingers and left-wingers went after the racism and sexism in Don Imus' statements. This was not a left-wing or right- wing fight. This was about people that said that All-American young ladies, who had excelled academically and athletically, should not be called, on the public airwaves, some nappy-headed hos.
So, I don't know where politics on either side comes. If Rosie O'Donnell or anyone else had said that, there should be and would be the same reaction. And none of what he's quoted is attacking anyone because of their gender or because of their race. It has nothing to do with political correctness or anyone being the police.
The advertisers, some of them right-wing, some of them left-wing, withdrew their money. So, I think that let's talk about what the actual case against Mr. Imus was that was decided there. It had nothing to do with his political views.
COOPER: Congressman DeLay, you said in your writing that this stems from -- and I quote -- "the political strategy of the left, unite to destroy."
How do -- why do you see this as a left-right debate?
DELAY: Well, it's not a left-right debate. It's the way left operates. It's not good enough to defeat somebody politically or to vilify them publicly. You have got to carpet-bomb them. You have got to destroy them.
Now, I'm no fan of Don Imus. I have no use for him. I never watch him. I do what the market ought to do in these cases. I turn the dial. I don't have to go out and destroy a person.
Now, Don Imus should have gone straight to the Rutgers team and apologized straight to them.
Al Sharpton, you and I are both Christians. Where is the forgiveness in your heart? We're supposed to love our enemies, not destroy them.
SHARPTON: And we're supposed to...
DELAY: If I could finish -- if I may finish...
SHARPTON: Yes, you can. Yes, sir.
COOPER: Wait. Sorry. Let the congressman finish.
DELAY: Well, my point is, is that we now are -- and you're seeing it up front and personal. This is what I have been going through for 11 years, this criminalization of free speech, and let's just destroy people, bankrupt them, destroy their character, in order to get rid of them, rather than look at the right way to do this. And that's just turn off the -- turn off the -- the radio.
SHARPTON: I think that...
COOPER: Reverend Sharpton...
SHARPTON: I think where I disagree with that, first of all, Christians forgive, but Christians do not give amnesty, because you pay for your sins.
He violated the job he was entrusted with on the airwaves. He lost his job. No one criminalized it. Nobody said put him in jail. No one said don't ever let him work again. He lost the job he abused. And he abused it consistently.
If anyone -- if you, Anderson Cooper, got on the air and said that, you would lose your job. If the CEO of -- of this station said it, they would lose their job. He's not above being penalized for abusing his job.
COOPER: Reverend Sharpton, Congressman DeLay, a really interesting discussion, gentlemen. Appreciate it.
DELAY: Thank you, Anderson.
SHARPTON: Thank you.
Thank you, Congressman DeLay.
DELAY: Thank you, Al.
COOPER: We will have more of their conversation, which got heated later on, in the next hour of 360.
In a written statement announcing Imus' firing, CBS chief executive Les Moonves pointed to the damage that words can do to young women of color trying to get ahead in society.
"That consideration has weighed most heavily on our minds," he said, "as we made our decision, as have the many e-mails, phone calls and personal discussions we have had with our colleagues across the CBS Corporation and our many other constituencies."
Bruce Gordon is a CBS board member. And, until recently, he was also the president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. We spoke a short time ago.
COOPER: Bruce, earlier this week, you said you hoped CBS would make the smart decision by firing Imus. Were -- were you a part of the discussions about canceling Don Imus' radio show?
BRUCE GORDON, DIRECTOR, CBS CORPORATION: I had frequent discussions with Leslie Moonves multiple times a day.
Clearly, I think I said from the outset that I believed it was Les' call, as the CEO. But he needed as many inputs as he could get. And I was one of those inputs, and was glad that we had the exchanges that we did. He listened. I think he needed to get to a number of audiences. And he did that thoroughly. He did that quickly. And he reached the right conclusion, I'm sure.
COOPER: How do you think the conclusion reached? In the end, what did it boil down to?
GORDON: I think that those who felt that this was purely a dollars-and-cents decision had far too simplistic a point of view.
It was a complex issue. It had to do with the power of the brand and the image of the brand. It had to do with company reputation. As Les pointed out, he listened to employees. And employees were very outspoken about their concerns about their company and their company's image.
I think that Les looked across the board. And there's not a single factor that drove it. Ultimately, though, this was all about principle. This was a matter of principle. Don Imus crossed the line. It violated any decent person's view of what's just and what's fair and what's right. And Les took the right action.
COOPER: Had this been on your radar personally before, or, to your knowledge, on CBS' radar before? I mean, he has a history of making derogatory comments against a lot of people. He would say it's part of the comedy that he does. Why is it now that, all of a sudden, people started to -- to take notice at CBS?
GORDON: Well, I think that this was one of those tipping-point moments. This was one of those rare situations where the words, the language just infuriated, incensed those people who listened to them, and then had the opportunity to look at these women from Rutgers and compare the comments with the character of the people, and said, this is wrong, and it has to be addressed.
So, I think that America has a chance to use this tipping point event to begin to examine a lot of the complexities around race in media and entertainment and broadly in the country. COOPER: Do you feel -- I mean, there are some people are listening to this and say, do these media companies know the stuff that they are putting out there, that they are having children listen to?
I mean, if people on a company board are surprised by the language Don Imus used, are they listening to the music that their own companies are making millions of dollars supporting?
GORDON: I worry about at least two things, one, that there is so much content in the media, that no one person can begin to absorb all of that -- that is out there.
But, secondly, I also think that each of us know enough about that content to begin to challenge our tolerance. I think we're too tolerant. I think that, over the years, we have allowed too much vulgarity to slip in, too much of just degrading commentary about women to slip in. And I think we have been tolerant.
And I have used the phrase during the course of the week. I think we need to develop a zero-tolerance approach to content that ads no value to our community, no value to the minds of young people, who too often have their images shaped by what they see on television, what they hear in lyrics and so forth.
COOPER: Bruce Gordon, appreciate it. Thank you.
GORDON: My pleasure.
COOPER: Imus had more than two million listeners a day. That's a lot, but it's not even close to the competition. Here's the "Raw Data" on some numbers.
The top three talk show hosts with the largest audiences on radio, Michael Savage, more than eight million listeners, number two, Sean Hannity -- he has a base of at least 12.5 million -- and, number one, Rush Limbaugh, with more than 13.5 million listeners.
And, as we said at the top of the program, this story is unfolding literally as we speak. Take a look. We're going to show you the New Jersey governor's mansion, where Don Imus is meeting with the players and the coach, as well. The meeting has been going on for several hours now.
We have Deb Feyerick outside and crews outside as well, bringing you any developments.
We're getting some word from people inside who have access to this meeting that's been going on, as I said, for several hours. The word they are telling us is that it is a very emotional meeting. There are tears. Don Imus is there with his wife, according to several sources, inside the building. It is a very somber meeting.
And, repeatedly, players are asking Don Imus: Why us? Why us? That is what we're being told by several people inside. They also -- I'm just getting word now, they also are saying to him: We want you to feel the words. We don't want you to just hear them.
These are quotes that we're getting from several people inside the New Jersey governor's mansion who have access to this meeting that is going on. We will continue to follow what's happening behind those closed doors.
And, if the players come out and make any statement, as we are expecting they will, because there's a large media presence there right now, we will bring that, of course, to you live.
Up next: Imus has claimed that he's not saying anything about African-Americans that African-Americans aren't saying about one another.
COOPER (voice-over): The lyrics are raunchy, the images raw -- up next, rap, Imus, double standards, and soul-searching.
SHARPTON: How did we go from black and proud to calling ourselves niggers, hos, and bitches?
COOPER: Also, they moved back to help save New Orleans. But New Orleans could not protect them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I woke to the sound of her voice struggling and screaming: "Get out. Don't hurt my child. Get away from my baby."
His wife murdered, himself wounded. Now, only on 360, he talks for the first time about the killing that destroyed his family and shocked this city.
From New Orleans, this is 360.
COOPER: And we continue to follow developments inside the governor's mansion in Princeton, New Jersey -- Don Imus, apparently his wife by his side, meeting with the Rutgers women basketball team, as well as their coach.
We're told from sources inside tears have been shed; it is a very somber, very serious meeting, repeatedly, players, we are told, asking Don Imus: Why us? Why us? Asking him -- saying that they want him to feel the words, not just speak the words.
We continue to try to get any developments we can about what's going on inside that meeting. And we will bring them to you as these next two hours unfold. The fall of Don Imus has rekindled the debate about hip-hop music. In just a moment, we're going to talk to a columnist who thinks the problem isn't with Imus, necessarily; it's how some in the African-American community, they have a double standard for rappers who demean women.
Here's a look at the controversy.
COOPER (voice-over): In this explicit X-rated music video, women are objects for sex and for show, put on display, put down, and humiliated. The rapper is Nelly, one of the biggest stars in the multibillion-dollar hip-hop industry.
Many hip-hop artists are African-American. Some use lyrics laced with sexist words aimed at fellow African-Americans, words that Imus says didn't start with him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TODAY SHOW")
DON IMUS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I know that phrase didn't originate in a white community. That phrase originated in the black community.
And I -- I'm not stupid. I may be a white man, but I know that these young women, and young black women all through that society, are demeaned and disparaged and disrespected by -- by their own black men.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: His argument has supporters in the African-American community. They believe their own culture has fostered and fueled an anti-black, anti-woman lifestyle.
SHARPTON: I remember, my last conversation with James Brown, which hip-hop started out of. He said, how did we go from "Black and Proud," which was his song, to calling ourselves niggers, hos and bitches?
BYRON HURT, DIRECTOR, "HIP-HOP: BEYOND BEATS & RHYMES": What you're seeing mostly, though, is you're seeing repetitive images of women as boy toy, as sex kitten, as sex objects. And I think that's a problem.
COOPER: While many agree it's a problem, some think this form of expression is a reflection of the times.
Russell Simmons is a successful record executive and entrepreneur.
RUSSELL SIMMONS, CHAIRMAN, HIP-HOP SUMMIT ACTION NETWORK: We're a violent and oversexed country. That's our sad truth, you know? And rappers are reflections of -- sometimes, reflections of our sad truth.
COOPER: As the influence of hip-hop spreads, so do the questions about its message and who it's hurting.
COOPER: So, is hip-hop, a bigger -- and gangster culture, some are calling it, a bigger problem for African-Americans than Don Imus?
Joining me now is Jason Whitlock, a columnist with "The Kansas City Star." With us again tonight, conservative analyst Amy Holmes.
Appreciate both of you being with us.
Amy, do you think Don Imus should have been fired?
AMY HOLMES, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I do. And I think the correct decision was made by NBC and also by CBS.
I think That he way crossed the line in using that racial slur, that vulgarity -- I can't even repeat it, it's so distasteful to me -- and that, as I have said before, being a radio show host is a privilege. It's not a right. And I think that Don Imus abused that privilege.
We know that, back in 2000, he promised Clarence Page on the air that he would cease and desist using these remarks. It turned out his promise was pretty hollow, because here we -- here we go again. So, I think the correct decision was made.
COOPER: Jason, I want to read you something from your op-ed article today that -- that caught our attention.
You say: "Thank you, Don Imus. You've given us, black people, an excuse to avoid our real problems."
What are those real problems you think that are being avoided?
JASON WHITLOCK, COLUMNIST, "THE KANSAS CITY STAR": Well, I think hip-hop culture, which is really just prison culture, is the problem in the black community. It's something we need to address.
We have young people embracing prison values, a prison style of dress, a prison style of carrying themselves with this hostile manner. Hip-hop is nothing but prison culture. Too many of our young black men are incarcerated. That pain has created a culture and a form of music that is self-destructive for us.
And, if we don't wean ourselves off of it, we're going to continue with our own genocide that we're doing to ourselves, that Don Imus has nothing at all to do with.
This whole thing -- and I'm sorry to filibuster here, but this whole thing has made nearly physically ill. Listening to this fact that this man is having a meeting at the governor's mansion, and women are crying about a man they probably didn't even know two weeks ago, who said some words they didn't even hear -- someone had to repeat to him -- who has no relevancy in the sports world, and he's having a meeting in the governor's office, with tears being shed, as if he is so powerful, one white man that they don't know is so powerful, he can destroy their dreams, their happiness?
That is just a falsehood that has to be rejected by the black community. Don Imus, nor is any white man so powerful -- the white man is not God. He is not that powerful that he can steal your happiness and your joy and your ability to be successful here in America. It's a terrible message we're sending, these kids all over the country: Play the victim. We will put you on "Oprah." We will celebrate you. Give you all this media attention. And we will make people come to the governor's office to apologize to you.
It's repulsive to me. I'm nearly physically ill listening to this.
HOLMES: But, Jason, I think you can agree that Don Imus...
HOLMES: ... is a powerful media figure.
WHITLOCK: No. Oh, my God.
HOLMES: This is a man who, as we saw over the past week, was being defended by the media elite, had two presidential candidates saying they would continue to go on the show.
And I can tell you, I, for one, if I heard that being said about me by a man with two million listeners, about my complexion and my hair, I am certain that I would be upset, being in the middle of this media firestorm.
But the larger issue here is the hip-hop culture.
And, Anderson, you just played tape of these hip-hop videos.
WHITLOCK: No, no, we have a lot of larger issues here.
HOLMES: Hold on. Hold on.
And you played this -- the video of these hip-hop videos. And what we saw was pornography. What we saw was the most disgusting, denigrating depictions of African-American women.
And I hope that this is a watershed moment. It seems that people all across the spectrum, of all different age groups, are saying, we need to -- we need to really examine this and put a stop to it.
You -- Jason, you were saying that this is a reflection of prison culture. It's also, I think, cheap, cynical pornography, meant to get young boys, most of whom are actually Caucasian -- 80 percent of hip- hop music is bought by Caucasian teens. (CROSSTALK)
COOPER: And -- but the people who are paying the price for it, as Jason points out, are not the Caucasian kids in the suburbs who are listening to it. It's African-American kids...
HOLMES: It's all of us.
COOPER: ... who are being inundated with this message that...
WHITLOCK: There's a huge difference from listening to the music...
HOLMES: And, Anderson, I would add...
COOPER: I want Jason -- go ahead.
WHITLOCK: There's a huge difference from listening to the music and living the lifestyle.
And people are living this hip-hop, prison lifestyle, out here on the streets, in their white T's, their tattoos, their pants hanging off their butt, tattoos all over them, cornrows. It's all straight out of prison. The whole hostile attitude is straight out of prison. You have to be hostile to survive in prison.
There's a difference between listening to the music in your little suburban home with your mommy and daddy and out here living this lifestyle. And too many of us are living it.
COOPER: And, Jason, I think the point you raise is a fascinating one. But, also, it goes deeper, in that it is large-scale corporations which are marketing this message, and this message is killing African-Americans.
WHITLOCK: I understand that. I'm not going to let us off the hook. We don't have to participate in it. We don't have to create the music. We don't have to revel in it. We don't have to live this lifestyle. We don't have to do it.
And we must reject this notion that, somehow, Don Imus or someone is so powerful, he can steal your joy. President Bush could call me a name today, and I will wake up tomorrow morning happy, because I -- I'm just a -- he just doesn't have that kind of power.
HOLMES: Jason, you know that the hip-hop culture, with all of these ugly, disgusting words, have mainstreamed this, so now that a 66-year-old man thinks that he can say this on national television? And, as far as our broader culture, I think this denigrates all of us, our broader culture, that, if you have these young boys in their basement in the suburbs listening to this music, and then they think that is what black women, that's what we're about? That is what -- that is how we live, that we want to be in these videos and behave that way?
This whole Rutgers -- this whole situation showed us these honorable, dignified, classy women, and how far away this imagery on television is from the reality, the truth of these women, who are working hard, and achieving, and getting a bachelor's degree, and going on to become professionals.
WHITLOCK: And that's not on Don Imus.
COOPER: Jason, I want to give you final thought.
WHITLOCK: That's on Russell Simmons. That's on Russell Simmons and all the other people making millions of dollars off of this.
They need to be at the governor's office right now, answering to all of us. But, no, we have got Don Imus, who's an idiot, who's irrelevant and insignificant, and needs to be ignored. We have him there on trial, not the people profiting, promoting, and producing this garbage.
HOLMES: Well, I would suggest that the two are not mutually exclusive. And Russell Simmons, when he says this is a reflection of our lives, that's a cop-out. Our lives are more interesting, rich, and dynamic than pornography on television.
COOPER: Also, last I checked, I think Russell Simmons lives in a mansion in New Jersey. So, I'm not sure what life...
HOLMES: Yes, he does.
COOPER: ... he is living right now.
But, Amy Holmes, Jason Whitlock, a fascinating discussion. We hope you guys will stick around. Want to talk more about this.
Just ahead on 360: a crime that has left many here in New Orleans reeling. For the first time, the husband of Helen Hill speaks publicly about the awful night his wife was murdered.
Plus: In Iraq, it is the ultimate gated community, Baghdad's Green Zone. So, how did a suicide bomber get in today? And what happened when he did? -- when 360 continues.
COOPER: And welcome back. We are live in New Orleans, tonight. We continue to follow this breaking news out of New Jersey, at the governor' mansion in Princeton. A rather remarkable meeting in many respects.
Don Imus, inside the governor's mansion, meeting with student athletes, the student athletes that he insulted on the radio.
CNN's Deborah Feyerick is outside the governor's mansion. Deborah, what are you hearing?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, there's no sense that this meeting is even close to being over. It's taken so far 2 1/2 hours that Don Imus has been inside meeting with the Rutgers University basketball team.
They had accused Don Imus of snatching their moment of victory. Here they were, conference champions, accomplished students. And then he made racist, hateful remarks. And that moment, they say, was snatched from them.
They want an apology. They want to hear him out to see whether in fact the apology is sincere, or whether it's something he's saying because of the public outcry that followed those nasty remarks.
The grandfather of one of the players says it is OK if he apologizes. He's willing to accept the apology. However, the fact that he was fired from both his radio and his television jobs, that is the right punishment for the words that he used against these players.
Now, Governor Jon Corzine had offered his mansion as sort of a neutral territory. It's not clear when they set the meeting. The Governor was going to be the host of this private meeting. However, on his way here, he actually got into a car accident. He is now in surgery for injuries he sustained to both his legs and his ribs. So, right now, he's not even the governor. There's an acting governor.
But the meeting's still inside, still taking place. It is described as emotional. Some of the basketball players have been crying, demanding to know why Don Imus would even think of saying such things -- Anderson.
COOPER: Deborah, I'm just getting some word that the meeting is wrapping up as we speak and that the athletic director is said to be making some remarks inside the governor's mansion at this point.
We're hearing some information in dribs and drabs from people who are actually inside this meeting. Earlier, we heard that there were tears. Have you been hearing stuff from inside the house, Deb?
FEYERICK: We have. What we were hearing from the person who we have inside, is that, in fact, they were talking that it was a useful meeting. And that it's unclear whether, in fact, they're going to come out and say anything. But there is a mic stand set up in case the coach or even Don Imus himself wants to reveal the nature of this.
Don Imus not happy that, in fact, some of the members of the media following him here to the governor's mansion.
So that is wrapping up. That is -- that's -- good news, I suppose. That means that at least they've resolved what they need to resolve.
COOPER: Deborah Feyerick, thanks very much. We're going to continue to follow this situation.
As we said, we're getting some word that the meeting may be wrapping up. And if there is any kind of press conference, we will, of course, bring that to you live. We're on the air for the next -- all for this hour and the next hour, as well.
We're in the Gentilly section in New Orleans. And just to give you a little sense, there are a number of homes on this block that you can see behind me. All of them are still -- not been rebuilt or renovated. People still not moving back into this neighborhood.
There's one house on this block that a family has rebuilt. We're going to talk to them a little later on in the next hour of 360. But it is just one community, one street that we sort of randomly selected to give you a sense -- it really eerie to be out here.
This is a beautiful evening in New Orleans. Normally, there would be people playing on the streets, kids and families. There is silence and there is darkness. And it is a very strange feeling. You see that in many communities across New Orleans.
Already this year, there has been a big problem with crime that we've been covering throughout the last couple of months. Fifty-nine people have been murdered in the city of New Orleans. Some killings so random, so senseless, like the murder of Helen Hill. She was a filmmaker and a mother.
Tonight only on 360, her husband talks for the first time publicly about what happen inside their home that terrifying morning.
This is a couple, this is a family who had come back to New Orleans because they wanted to make a difference here. The husband worked in a clinic, working with poor people. He was a doctor. Helen Hill was a filmmaker. And they had an infant son.
Here's Randi Kaye's report.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): January, only the fourth day of the new year, 5:30 in the morning. Still dark out.
PAUL GAILIUNAS, WIFE KILLED BY INTRUDER: I woke to the sound of her voice, struggling and screaming, "Don't. Get out. Don't hurt my child. Get away from my child. Get away from my baby."
KAYE: Three months later, the bullet wounds are healing.
GAILIUNAS: That's where the bullet went in.
KAYE: But the grief, the sense of overwhelming loss, still raw.
Helen Hill and Paul Gailiunas had been married 11 years, until the day she was gunned down in their New Orleans home.
GAILIUNAS: I'm very, very numb about everything that happened. KAYE: Paul now lives in Canada with their little boy, 2-year-old Francis. This is the first time he's agreed to speak about what happened that day.
Helen Hill sparkled, an award-winning filmmaker, her heart as big as her smile. Paul is a family doctor who caters to the poor. The couple met at Harvard, fell in love, and after graduating, headed south. They found the Big Easy enchanting.
GAILIUNAS: It's a very romantic city. You kind of soak in the atmosphere there.
KAYE: They made lots of friends, helped feed the homeless, had neighborhood tea parties.
GAILIUNAS: One thing that Helen really felt strongly about was bringing people together from all different walks of life.
KAYE: After Hurricane Katrina, like many others, they fled the city. But they'd made a home and a life in New Orleans. Helen pushed to rebuild.
GAILIUNAS: She really wanted to go back to be part of this reconstruction of New Orleans. She thought it was going to be an exciting time to be there.
KAYE (on camera): Were you concerned about your own safety or Helen's safety?
GAILIUNAS: Yes. And I was very concerned about the crime there in New Orleans. And I had seen how poverty and drugs together played a really -- a dangerous, toxic mix.
KAYE (voice-over): Looking back now, Paul's worries seem all the more ominous.
GAILIUNAS: She was lying next to the front door. And there was blood next to her head. And she wasn't moving.
KAYE: That January day, Paul had fallen asleep in their son's room.
GAILIUNAS: When I went into the doorway, I saw Helen and a man struggling at the front door. And she -- and she must have seen me, because she yelled, "Call 911."
KAYE (on camera): Could you see if he had a weapon at the time?
GAILIUNAS: I couldn't. But -- but I ran to the back of the house with Francis in my arm. And -- and I heard a shot.
KAYE (voice-over): Paul had no idea if his wife was still alive. He had to protect their baby. So he crouched over him to shield him in the bathroom.
GAILIUNAS: In a few seconds, a man walked towards me through the house. And I saw him walk through the kitchen, holding a gun towards me. And he stopped about four feet away or so from me. And -- and there were about three gunshots. And I had no idea where I was shot. But I knew my hand started to hurt ad saw blood pouring on the ground beside us.
KAYE: Bullet holes still mark the bathroom cabinets, just above where Paul huddled to protect his son, a desperate attempt to survive.
GAILIUNAS: At some point, I just decided the best thing to do was to play dead or pretend I was dead. I was hoping that Helen was OK and hoping that he would leave and that he doesn't reloading his gun.
KAYE: The chilling attack was over in minutes. The gunman slipped out the same way he got in: the back door.
(on camera) So, when you got to Helen, were you too late?
GAILIUNAS: As I understand it, she died instantly. My hand was throbbing at this point, and I dialed 911. And while I was dialing 911, I was walking towards Helen.
KAYE: Could you see where she had been shot?
GAILIUNAS: I couldn't, although I knew there was a pool of blood near her head or neck.
KAYE: The attacker never said a word, never took anything. No clues, no answers as to why he killed Helen Hill. Hers was the 12th murder in New Orleans that week, the sixth in a 24-hour period.
(on camera) Paul was surprised by how quickly police arrived. Turns out, they were just around the corner investigating an attempted armed robbery by a man they say resembles Helen's killer. Was it the same guy? Police don't know. Whoever murdered Helen is still on the run.
(voice-over) Helen was buried in South Carolina, where she grew up. But in the city she loved, she was remembered in true New Orleans fashion.
Her last act on earth, her husband says, was saving her family, fighting off the gunman so they had a chance. Paul tells Francis his mom is in heaven. And at bed time, when he shows his son these pictures, Francis kisses his mom's face.
One day, Paul hopes he'll understand that his mom died trying to save a city...
GAILIUNAS: Resolving poverty and social injustice, that has to be the top priority.
KAYE: ... seemingly incapable of saving itself.
Randi Kaye, CNN, New Orleans.
COOPER: There were a number of killings around the time that Helen Hill was killed. Thousands of citizens joined together for a march. We were here. We were covering it for 360. Thousands of people here marched on city hall, demanding change, demanding accountability, demanding something be done to stop the killings. But the killings continue, the crime still very much a problem.
Just ahead, we're going to have more from New Orleans. The situation, people looking for homes and how bad it is. How hard it is to find homes.
And also the ways that the city has bounced back. Progress has been made, slow to be sure. But little by little.
We're going to check back in also with the Imus story unfolding now at the New Jersey governor's mansion.
Plus, in Iraq, it is the ultimate gated community, Baghdad's Green Zone. How is it possible that a suicide bomber got in today? We'll have that story when 360 continues.
COOPER: You're watching a stunning breach of security, a suicide bombing in the Iraqi parliament, in the heart of Baghdad's Green Zone. Eight people were killed, including at least two Iraqi lawmakers. It was the equivalent of someone blowing up the Capitol building in Washington.
Television cameras that you saw were rolling for an interview when it happened.
The Green Zone that we're talking about is home to the U.S. embassy and the Iraqi government. It has the tightest security in all of Iraq. And that's what makes the attack so stunning.
And it wasn't the only suicide bombing today. CNN's Kyra Phillips joins us now from Baghdad -- Kyra.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, it was absolutely unprecedented. The fact that a suicide bomber could get into the fortified Green Zone.
I mean, you have to go through at least six checkpoints in order to get into that convention center to where the Iraqi parliament was. And now, my source is telling me they believe it was infiltration, possibly, through the kitchen help.
That's exactly what happened -- you may remember, Anderson -- when the deputy prime minister, when that assassination attempt happened on him. Al Qaeda had infiltrated his posse, so to speak, through the kitchen help.
So we're seeing these tactics on the rise and this infiltration through al Qaeda, other type of extremists, through working parts of the entourage, whether it's bodyguards or kitchen help.
COOPER: That is -- that is new information. I had not heard that before. The Iraqis were responsible for the security around the perimeter. Any sense that that is going to change?
PHILLIPS: Absolutely. And Major General William Caldwell said they're going to have to look once again at the checkpoints and security and what you have to go through in order to get to the fortified Green Zone.
When you go through those checkpoints, Anderson, you used to have a lot of U.S. troops checking you. And there were bomb-sniffing dogs, and they'd check your car. And they'd question you, and they'd frisk you.
Now, when you go through -- and usually when I make my way to the convention center, where this explosion happened, you go through four or five checkpoints. But it's Iraqis that are doing the checking. It's civilians that have been hired. It's Iraqi police. It's Iraqi army. And it's a local security company called Triple Canopy, where they have workers from Peru. So it's a totally different dynamic.
And now, the major general saying we're going to have to take a look once again at the security operations.
COOPER: And I understand that there were more explosives found. What can you tell us about that?
PHILLIPS: And that is -- that seems to be a standing operating procedure when something like this happens. Because if a suicide bomber -- if something goes wrong, if he or she are not able to blow themselves up, Anderson, a lot of times you will find additional car bombs close to the location. You'll see extra explosives close to the location.
And that's what we're being told. Possibly two briefcases with additional explosives, not far from where that man blew himself up. Right there, as you're seeing in the pictures, in the cafeteria, right next to where the Iraqi parliament was holding its session.
COOPER: Kyra Phillips, with new information on the bombing. Kyra, thanks very much. Stay safe.
Again, we are monitoring the news out of the governor's mansion in New Jersey, where the meeting between Don Imus and the Rutgers team has been going on.
We understand that it has just ended. It looks like some vehicles are pulling up. We are seeing the cars there pulling up. We are not sure if there is going to be some sort of a press conference. There are a large number of reporters outside, awaiting to see if the Rutgers team or the Rutgers coach or Rutgers representative are going to be making any kind of comments. Not sure who that vehicle is for.
Don Imus was said to be inside with his wife. We were getting reports from inside the governor's mansion, during the meeting, the meeting which lasted for several hours, that it was a somber meeting, that there were tears, that players repeatedly asking, "Why us? Why us?"
We'll continue to follow this situation from the governor's mansion.
Plus, we're going to look at a treatment that promises to turn your body clock back. How far would you be willing to go to be young again? It's part of Dr. Sanjay Gupta's special series, "Chasing Life", when 360 continues.
COOPER: And that is what we believe is the players' bus outside the governor's mansion in New Jersey. The meeting apparently has ended. We have not seen any players leaving yet or boarding that bus.
And again, we're not sure if they are going to be holding any kind of a press conference. There's certainly a large number of reporters waiting.
We have -- Don Imus left just a few moments ago while we were in commercial break. Let's take a look at that. We're going to roll that tape. There you see him in that long, black coat. His car waiting outside.
We are told his wife was at the meeting. I assume that is her on the right as they get into their limousine to take off. This happened just a few minutes ago.
And then, as we have seen, the players' bus came up, and we are waiting. The players are getting in that. Again, it is not clear if anyone will be stopping or anyone will be making any sort of public statement.
This meeting began around 8 p.m. East Coast time, a meeting which was attended by the team, by the coach, as well, by officials from Rutgers, by Don Imus. We were told by sources inside the meeting that his wife was also there and that this meeting was somber. And that tears were shed. It was an emotional meeting. Many questions were asked by the players to Don Imus.
We're also hearing that the meeting ended on a good note. Imus' wife hugged every player at the end. This is word we're getting from inside, from someone who was inside the meeting. That again, the meeting ended on a good note. Not sure exactly what that means.
There had been talk whether or not this team would accept Don Imus' apology. We do not have word on that. But clearly, one person saying that the meeting has ended on a good note.
And we will try to find out more as this evening progresses. We will no doubt learn more in the next few minutes and in the next hour and ten minutes that we're on the air.
We're going to take a short break. We'll have more coverage when we return.
COOPER: Living longer and stronger certainly an appealing prospect and the subject of our three-part series, "Chasing Life" by 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta.
Tonight part two, a look at a controversial approach to better living. HGH, human growth hormone treatments. Now, the drug's approved to help children with growth problems and prevent very sick adults from wasting away. But it is not approved to fight aging.
The couple you're about to meet are being treated by HGH for hormone deficiency. They're not complaining about the potential risk.
Here's Dr. Gupta.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Approaching retirement age, Ed and Beth Lothamer were starting to feel less energetic than they once did. Until Beth decided to try a controversial and increasingly popular treatment, human growth hormone.
ED LOTHAMER, HUMAN GROWTH HORMONE USER: And she kept telling me how good she was feeling. And you know, I was getting a little sluggish. I didn't have the vitality I had. And I just wrote it off, as being -- you know, I was getting older. But she said, you know, why don't you at least come and take a shot at this?
BETH LOTHAMER, HUMAN GROWTH HORMONE USER: You just stick it there.
GUPTA: He did. And now, every day, they take his and hers injections. Ed Lothamer says he felt the effects within a month.
E. LOTHAMER: When I woke up, I wasn't fatigued. I noticed in the gym, I had more endurance. My memory was sharper.
GUPTA: Click on the Internet, you'll find countless pitches for human growth hormone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, by dramatically supporting healthy endocrine function, research suggests that we can increase energy and stamina.
GUPTA: Not everyone shares the enthusiasm. Dr. Thomas Perls is an outspoken critic.
DR. THOMAS PERLS, CENTENARIAN PROJECT, BOSTON UNIVERSITY: No one sends me any scientific articles indicating that growth hormone works for combating aging, simply because they don't exist.
GUPTA: But that depends who you ask. Multiple studies has found that growth hormone reduces fat while building up bones and muscle. But those studies also found a lot of side effects, like joint pain and swelling. And to Perls, that's not even the worst of it.
PERLS: It shortens life span, and it probably increases people's risk for cancer.
GUPTA: Perls says the risk is just too big to take. But to others, the tangible and almost immediate gains seem worth it.
E. LOTHAMER: I'm sure it's not for everybody in the world. For us, we think it works. And so, we do it.
GUPTA: To be clear, the Lothamers are taking human growth hormone with a doctor's prescription. He diagnosed them with a deficiency. Human growth hormone for anti-aging treatment is illegal.
COOPER: Illegal, but certainly, a lot of people using it.
Next up, new developments in the breaking Don Imus story, his meeting with Rutgers student athletes just now breaking up. We'll have a live update at the top of the hour. We'll be right back.
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