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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Imus' Contract With CBS Revealed; Oprah's Choice For President?

Aired May 2, 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.
We begin tonight with explosive news about Don Imus. This is a copy of part of his contract with CBS Radio. We obtained it exclusively. Somebody believe what it says could give the former radio host a golden parachute, forcing CBS to pay him tens of millions of dollars. Why? Because, although he was fired for racially charged remarks, Imus may argue he was only doing what his bosses wanted him to do.

CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin actually has the details of the contract and the words in it that you may find shocking. We will talk with him a moment.

But, first, here's CNN's Randi Kaye.

And we caution you that some viewers may be offended by the language in her report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You didn't really expect this guy to keep his mouth shut, did you? Don Imus apparently has something he would like to say about the $40 million remaining on his CBS contract, left on the table when he was shown the door.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "IMUS IN THE MORNING")

DON IMUS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos and...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAYE: That was Imus April 4, 6:14 in the morning, the beginning of the end.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "IMUS IN THE MORNING")

BERNARD MCGUIRK, PRODUCER: Some hard-core hos.

IMUS: That's some nappy-headed hos there, I'm going to tell you that now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAYE: Hours later, his racially-fused comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team appeared online. By the next afternoon, top brass at CBS, and MSNBC, which simulcasts his radio show, were logging complaints.

But now it's Imus who is complaining, and, according to a source, is planning to sue. He's hired attorney Martin Garbus, who successfully represented comedian Lenny Bruce against obscenity charges and has been called legendary, one of the best trial lawyers in the country by "TIME" magazine.

Will he be able to put $40 million back in Imus' pocket?

CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin was shown part of the contract.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: What stands out in the contract is that Imus is supposed to be controversial and irreverent. That's what his statement about the Rutgers basketball team was. How is CBS going to argue that what he said was so controversial and so offensive, that it isn't what they asked for in the contract?

KAYE: The contract reads -- quote -- "Services to be rendered are of a unique, extraordinary, irreverent, intellectual, topical, controversial, and personal character. These components are desired by and are consistent with company rules and policies."

CBS would have to prove Imus' statements were outside the realm of what his contract allows.

TOOBIN: This is a very simple case. It's not about the First Amendment. It's not about the Constitution. It's all about his contract. Did Imus breach his contract by saying what he did about the Rutgers basketball team?

KAYE (on camera): The contract is a five-year deal that began in 2006 and pays $8 million a year. The deal stipulates the radio host must be given a warning before being fired for making off-color jokes. A source tells CNN, Imus was never warned in this case.

(voice-over): CBS would not comment. Calls to Imus and his attorney were not returned.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "IMUS IN THE MORNING")

IMUS: And I'm not a bad person. I'm a good person. But I said a bad thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAYE: A bad thing that's already cost him a job, but maybe not the millions of dollars that came along with it.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And the language in Imus' contract is certainly unique and controversial. As we said, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin was the first to get ahold of part of it. He joins us now.

Have you seen any language like this in contracts?

TOOBIN: I have never seen anything like this.

What's so interesting is that it's as if Imus' representatives knew something could blow up with this show, so, they wanted to protect themselves in advance, and they put in this provision. And it seems awfully helpful to him in these circumstances.

COOPER: Let's read that provision.

It says: "CBS Radio acknowledges that Imus' services are to be -- to be rendered are of a unique, extraordinary, irreverent, intellectual, topical, controversial, and personal character, and that programs of the same general type and nature containing these components are desired by CBS Radio, and are consistent with company rules and policies."

TOOBIN: So, what that contract means, in plain English, is that CBS is hiring him to be controversial. They desire that he's controversial, that he's irreverent.

Now, CBS may argue that his comments about the Rutgers basketball team were so outside the pale, that they were not controversial or irreverent.

COOPER: But what a lot of people said about those comments is the personal nature of them. But this contract says personal character of the shock jock Imus...

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: I mean, that -- and the other thing is, was what he said about the Rutgers team so different from some of the other controversial, frankly, ugly things he said before? Now, it will be in Imus' benefit, if this ever goes trial, to say, look, look at all this other stuff. You had no complaints about that. How can you say that this is that much different?

COOPER: They also knew how some people felt about his show, that there's other language in this which basically indicates they knew of the controversial nature.

TOOBIN: That's right.

They say that, we are familiar with what has been written about you in the past, that you have been criticized in the press, and that's not a grounds for firing.

So, again, CBS can't say, if this ever comes to litigation, well, we got bad press, so you had to be fired. That's explicitly ruled out as a possible grounds for firing. COOPER: So, this certainly backs up a case. I mean, they -- they fired him without paying him what's estimated to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $40 million.

TOOBIN: Correct. He was near the beginning of a five-year contract at $8 million a year.

Imus has not filed a lawsuit yet. Even if a lawsuit is hired -- filed, I think it's overwhelmingly likely that it will be settled. But this contract gives Imus tremendous leverage in a settlement.

COOPER: Why would Imus settle, though, I mean, if he has got such a good case?

TOOBIN: Well, because, you know, lawsuits are ugly and expensive and time-consuming.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: And he -- probably -- there would probably be some mitigated damages that he would have had some expenses incurred. So, he wasn't going to get a check for $40 million, under any circumstances.

But he could certainly drive a much more favorable settlement because this contract has this bizarre and favorable provision in it.

COOPER: He has hired a well-known First Amendment attorney. But is this really a First Amendment issue?

TOOBIN: I don't -- Martin Garbus is a well-known attorney. He doesn't just do First Amendment cases. I don't think First Amendment has anything to do with this. This is simply a breach-of-contract case. Was CBS within its rights, under the contract, to get rid of Imus?

Imus can point to this paragraph we have been talking about and say, no.

COOPER: And he can basically point to any other uses of the -- those words that he used and that -- and say, well, why was it OK back then, but, suddenly, in this formulation, not OK?

TOOBIN: He could not only say it was OK, but this has this remarkable word in here, "desired." CBS desires that he be controversial. It's not that, well, we will accept it now and then. It's part of your job requirement. It's part of Imus' job requirement to be controversial and irreverent.

And, you know, so, I think CBS is going to have some difficult explaining to do when they say they're so shocked, shocked by what Imus said, when, in fact, they have a contract that instructed him to be controversial.

COOPER: It's a fascinating document. Jeffrey, thanks. Appreciate that. (CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Stick around, though.

If CBS explicitly wanted Imus to be irreverent, should the company bear responsibility for what he said?

Joining us now, the Reverend Al Sharpton, who obviously led the call for Imus' firing.

Reverend Sharpton, CBS, we now know, desired Imus to be controversial, irreverent, and personal. What's your reaction to the contract?

AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Well, the question is whether or not CBS or any other company puts in contracts where people are protected to say things that are sexist and racist.

First of all, when the National Association of Black Journalists put the flag up, and we at National Action Network and other civil rights groups came in, it was not to deal with Imus one way or another. Whether he gets money or not is really irrelevant.

It was the sexist and racist nature that he was using the airways. So, whatever happens here is of no moment to many of us in civil rights. But, if there is in fact contracts that say that you are permitted, by the company, to be racist and sexist, which some could argue is different than irreverent and personal, that would be of concern.

I think that that's the only interest that I would have here, is, in fact, is there an institutional agreement to promote racism? And I think that would be argued either way by the lawyers. And we will have to wait and see that.

COOPER: Do you think he has been racist in the past, though? If you're saying these comments were racist, were they racist in the past, when he made comments based on people's ethnicity or their gender or whatever his comments were based on? Because, if so, CBS seems to have encouraged that by resigning a contract and saying they desired those comments.

SHARPTON: Well, he certainly said things that one could say was biased. I don't know that -- if he said anything as blatant as calling women hos and calling people nappy-headed.

He certainly said things that was biased. I think that, what he said, there was no room for wiggle. You must remember, even Imus went and apologized to the young ladies at Rutgers himself. So, one side of the argument could be, what the contract appears to read -- I have not seen the contract, and all of it -- but on -- the other side of the argument is, he, himself, despite the contract, went and apologized, and said he was wrong.

And they claimed, at the time, they were firing him based on cause. He seemed to have conceded that cause when he went, even after the firing, and apologized to the girls.

COOPER: You met and others met with Leslie Moonves, the president and CEO of CBS. Imus was fired.

What was your impression of Moonves at the time? I think you said that you felt he really understood the human side of this issue. Do you still that -- believe that to be true?

SHARPTON: I think he understood the human side.

I think he also understood the gender and race insult.

Again, we were not talking about a personal attack. We were talking about a sexist and racist attack that, again, fellow journalists brought up.

What this issue that now has come to light brings up is, what kind of contracts are people given? Are people given the right to be provocative and controversial? Well, that's one thing. Are they given the right to then take that to where they can be blatantly against a race and against a gender? I think that that's going to be the thing that we would watch.

Whether he gets money or not is really no concern to me.

COOPER: As you look back on your actions in the last couple of weeks regarding Don Imus, do you have any regrets?

Don Imus' former producer, Bernard McGuirk, said about you recently -- and I quote -- "It seemed like he terrorized some broadcast executives, that they were, you know, sort of in a fetal position, under their desk, desks, sucking their thumbs on their BlackBerrys, trying to coordinate their response to him. I mean, they appeased, really, this terrorist here" -- essentially, saying you're a terrorist.

SHARPTON: Well, first of all, a man that would call some honor students in a basketball team that had done what they did for that school some nappy-headed hos, how could I think seriously what he thinks of me or anybody else?

Look at what he thought of some honor students. So, believe me, I don't spend any time worrying about what he said. Look at who's talking.

COOPER: Tomorrow, you're marching against some record companies, the parent companies behind some of these artists. Is CBS on your list of companies you...

(CROSSTALK)

SHARPTON: CBS is not in the record business.

We will march tomorrow afternoon from Sony to Warner Records to Universal. What we're saying, again, is, the words ho and the B-word and the N -word should not be used by anyone, and that we want to make it clear that people in the marketplace have an objection.

People have a right to free speech, but corporations have standards. And you cannot go into these record companies and do records against some groups and some people based on their preferences in life. Why is it allowed to be done against women and against blacks?

So, on James Brown's birthday -- tomorrow is James Brown's birthday -- his daughters will join Tamika Mallory and Councilwoman Mealy and I and others in this march through Midtown. It will begin a series of our initiatives, to say to the record business that, you have standards. Ho and B and N ought to be part of those standards. You don't allow them to asylum anything on records.

We have seen artists silenced in other areas when they said things. Why are these standards not upheld when it comes to those three words?

COOPER: Reverend Sharpton, appreciate your comments. Thank you.

SHARPTON: Thank you.

COOPER: More now with Jeffrey Toobin -- joining us, also, syndicated columnist and CNN contributor Roland Martin, along with "Washington Post" media reporter Howard Kurtz, who is also the host of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES."

Roland, are -- first of all, are you surprised by the excerpts of this contract that you have seen?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I'm surprised in terms of that kind of language -- clearly, very smart attorneys, as Jeffrey said.

Look, this is why CBS is settling. They CBS cut Don Imus loose because it was a business decision. They did not want the protests to spill over to their prime-time programming, to have advertisers pulling those dollars away from their shows.

Paying him $8 million a year, even if they settle for $20 million, that won't even -- won't even compare to how much money they could have lost by other advertisers pulling out from the network and radio, television and radio.

COOPER: So, you have no doubt they are going to settle?

MARTIN: No doubt. No doubt.

COOPER: Howie, you say that any lawsuit wouldn't just be about money. How so?

HOWARD KURTZ, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, that may sound strange, because nobody walks away from $40 million.

But I think what Imus is primarily interested in right now, in hiring a lawyer and considering this lawsuit, is vindication. Look, he said something that was terribly racist and offensive. He understands that. That's why he apologized 47 times.

But he wants to make the point that CBS encouraged this, that they made lots and lots of money over the years with a show that was built, in part -- because he also did good interviews with politicians and journalists -- it was built in part on this sort of insult humor. It was often racial and sexist and gender -- excuse me -- and ethnic in nature.

COOPER: It's interesting, Roland, though. I remember you saying a lot during the height of this, you know, he's not a shock jock. In this contract, it specifically terms him as a shock jock. And they note, they desire the personal character of the shock jock.

MARTIN: This is a CBS Radio contract. They saw him as a shock jock. The context that I put it in, by simulcasting his show on MSNBC, he is now being perceived as competing against CNN "AMERICAN MORNING," "Today Show," "Good Morning America," "The Early Show." And, so, that was a whole different context.

The issue, also, that jumps out, in terms of Imus suing, no doubt, he's trying to go after money. The guy is 66 years old. Ain't that many $40 million jobs out there that he can actually get. So, it's wise to go after the money.

COOPER: Any time anybody says, it's not about the money, I'm always saying, it's about the money.

MARTIN: Right. Right.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: I was shocked to here Howie say that.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: I mean, I think Howie is right that Imus wants the vindication of CBS saying -- of a court acknowledging, or CBS acknowledging, hey, we hired you to do this stuff. This isn't some astonishing thing you just did.

But I think he would like a very big check, as well.

COOPER: Howie, is what he said any different -- I mean, I don't listen to the show, but is it much different than what he had said for years and years that, clearly, CBS desired?

KURTZ: Well, certainly, you know, that term, nappy-headed hos, was way over the line, and it was different.

But he used to toss around words like hos all the time in little skits that he did. And let's remember for just a moment -- because CBS obviously is going to get on its high horse here and say, this was such a terrible breach, that we had to cut him loose -- when this controversy first erupted, CBS Radio and MSNBC said: Imus said something wrong. We are going to give him a two-week suspension.

It was only after the media and the pressure from employees at those two companies and outside pressure from people like Reverend Sharpton turned Imus into kind of a symbol of everything that was wrong in our toxic popular culture that both companies decided to cut him loose.

So, Imus, obviously, feels like he wants to get a piece of his reputation back.

MARTIN: And, Anderson, that was the problem that I had during this whole deal. CBS is trying to take a very high-profile position. And I raised the point. We talked about it. Had they suspended him before? Had that reprimanded him before?

And, so, therefore, they sanctioned that kind of conduct. He made them lots of money. The bottom line is, these companies, they want the irreverent personalities. But, when they cross the line, and then public pressure rises to a certain level, then they take action.

TOOBIN: They not only didn't suspend him before. They put in the contract...

MARTIN: They gave him a raise.

TOOBIN: They put in the contract, we want you to be like that.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: A new contract.

MARTIN: Right.

TOOBIN: A new contract. This is -- so, I mean, that's why CBS' position is really awkward.

MARTIN: Right.

COOPER: I want to read this other graph from the contract.

It says: "CBS acknowledges its familiarity with the program conducted by Imus and its familiarity with the reviews and comments, both favorable and unfavorable, concerning Imus and his material by critics, reviewers and writers of the various media, both in New York and nationally."

MARTIN: Look, it's simple. A good comedian will tell you, how far can I push the envelope before I get in trouble?

And that's -- CBS knew what they were getting. And, so, to say that, well, this violated any of our standards, we know what the real deal is. And, so, they got rid of him because they knew he was going to cost them with advertisers.

(CROSSTALK) COOPER: Jeffrey, how -- legally, can CBS -- if the FCC weighed in on this, and said that it violated FCC rules, which is one of the things Reverend Sharpton was early on was talking about, could they then say, OK, well, that's cause for termination?

TOOBIN: They might. That might. There would certainly be helpful to CBS' provision.

I -- and I haven't seen the whole contract. There may be some provision regarding the government. But the FCC hasn't said anything like that. I don't think they will. I don't think the FCC has gotten involved with this whole -- with this whole matter.

MARTIN: They have actually been saying, we're not going to get involved.

TOOBIN: Well, that's right. As far as I'm aware, they don't even have an open investigation.

MARTIN: Yes.

TOOBIN: No, it's all about what he said. And the interesting thing about that passage you just read, there, they're basically acknowledging, Imus is going to get some bad press sometimes. There is going to be criticism. And that's not grounds for firing.

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: And, Anderson, I think Imus wants to get back on the air. And one of the ways he can help himself to do that is by getting some kind of settlement with CBS, which kind of gives him a piece of his respectability back.

Look, this guy said he was sorry, said he was sorry many times. But, in the firestorm that surrounded him, that proved not to be enough.

MARTIN: I just have one issue, Anderson. Who was his lawyer, so we all can try to hire him to negotiate our deals?

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: I have got a radio show. I will call him in a minute.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Roland, Jeff, appreciate it.

And Jeff -- Jeff actually got the contracts, some great reporting there.

And, Howard Kurtz, thanks very much. Straight ahead tonight: something Don Imus would surely be talking about, the war in Iraq, and the showdown over bringing the troops home.

Also tonight: the biggest name in talk TV, Oprah Winfrey, and who she wants to be president.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): When Oprah talks, millions listen. Now she's talking presidential politics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LARRY KING LIVE")

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Have you endorsed a candidate before?

OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW": Never.

KING: What made you do so now?

WINFREY: I haven't done it in the past because I haven't felt that anybody -- I didn't know anybody well enough to be able to say, I believe in this person.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So, who is it? And what else is Oprah saying about her own future? You will only hear it on CNN.

Also: Joan Baez and the controversy at Walter Reed. Did her anti-war message get her banned from the hospital? We will talk with Joan Baez -- ahead on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yesterday was a day that highlighted differences. Today is a day where we can work together to find common ground.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, President Bush today, just after the House Democrats failed to override his veto of a war spending bill containing a timetable for bringing U.S. troops home.

A short time later, he sat down with House leaders, trying, as he said, and they said, and just about everybody said today, to find common ground, but no success today, not yet.

There were, however, some fascinating signs of how things may end up playing out.

The insight tonight comes from Democratic political strategist Paul Begala and his Republican counterpart Ed Rollins.

We spoke earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: This funding bill, it's only good through the end of the fiscal year, which is the fall. Does that mean there could be another battle like this -- whatever bill is passed, there would be another battle come fall?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely.

We're -- this thing is not going to go away. As long as there are soldiers dying in Iraq, there are going to be Democrats trying to pull them out and more and more Republicans as time goes on.

This is just -- it's such a terrible issue for President Bush, in part, frankly, because of the arrogance with which he's handled it. We're in the fifth year of this war now, and he's still pretending that it should be funded as an emergency that we couldn't have predicted when we wrote the budget a few months ago.

Come on, Mr. -- as we say back home in Texas, Mr. President, don't pee on my boots and tell me it's raining, right? Just don't lie to me. Tell us the truth. Put it in your real budget.

He wouldn't have this special fight over this special supplemental appropriations if he had just been candid when he produced his budget and say, "Look, we are at war; here's what I need for the war," put it in the budget, along with everything else, from the National Park Service to the FBI, and they wouldn't have this separate, segregated fight over Iraq policy. So, he's hoisted on his own petard here.

(CROSSTALK)

ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I totally agree with Paul.

I mean, I think this should be -- we're in our fifth year of this thing. I mean, the first year, maybe we didn't know what it was going to cost. We clearly know what the costs are. The costs are exorbitant, both in manpower and resources. And I think it should be a part of the budget process. And the president ought to basically put in there what he think he needs.

I think the reality is that this president is bound and determined he is not going to pull the troops out until he's finished, either his term or -- or they're finished. And I think, to a certain extent, we have a long, hard battle ahead, and this is the first round. And I think the first round is a draw.

COOPER: But, Paul, you see room for compromise?

BEGALA: I do. I do, Anderson.

And this is going to -- it's going to annoy some, I think, on the left of my party, the Democrats who are the not-one-dime caucus. They don't want to spend another nickel on this war. And it will disappointment some on the right of the Republican Party, who don't want -- who would say not one string, right, not one benchmark, no requirements, give unfettered and unlimited funding to this war.

It will be somewhere in the middle. And I think -- my sources who were in the meeting today with the president suggested that the president seemed conciliatory. Probably, just as important, Senator McConnell seemed conciliatory.

So, I think they will. And my guess is, if I had to pick, by Memorial Day, we will probably have some sort of a compromise on this.

COOPER: Compromise along -- talking about benchmarks, but not necessarily benchmarks with troop withdrawals?

BEGALA: Yes.

It's going to go, actually, one of two ways. And I'm not wise enough to predict which way. One theory is what people on the Hill are calling the short leash, that is, no restrictions, but less money. So, we will only fund it for two months, three months, four months. I think that's less likely, frankly, although it has got its supporters.

I think more likely is some kinds of benchmarks and reporting requirements, so the president of the United States will have to tell the country, for example, whether and why he's sending troops into combat without the proper amount of rest and training and repair work on their equipment. So, I think those sorts of strictures will be applied to the president. And I think that's probably where the compromise will be found.

COOPER: Ed, do you see compromise as possible or -- and even politically advisable?

ROLLINS: I don't see the president compromising on anything that ties his hands or his generals' hands on how to fight this war. And I don't think he should.

I think the bottom line is that this is a determination that he's made, as the commander in chief. And this is the best counsel he can get out of the Pentagon today. And I think he has got to have an opportunity to try and make it work.

Obviously, if we're down six or eight months from now, and it hasn't worked, then, I think there's going to be a lot of Republicans who are going to be very unhappy. A lot of Republicans are very unhappy today. I don't think this is about being pro-war. I think this is about being pro our troops.

And I think, to a certain extent, that's what we -- we can't lose sight of that, and we can't basically be sending them a mixed message: We want you to go there, put your life on the line every day, but we're not sure we're going fund you.

COOPER: Interesting. Paul Begala, Ed Rollins, thanks.

ROLLINS: Thank you very much.

BEGALA: Thanks. Anderson.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, still ahead on 360: Oprah Winfrey explaining who is getting her vote in 2008, and why.

Also ahead: our exclusive interview with folk singer and anti-war activist Joan Baez. Was she really banned from performing for troops at Walter Reed Medical Center? Her answer and what the Army says happened -- you decide, next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOAN BAEZ, ANTI-WAR ACTIVIST: Kids who are in -- I love the euphemism -- harm's way, meaning sitting ducks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, folk singer Joan Baez has made no secret she vehemently opposes the war in Iraq, just like her friend the rocker John Mellencamp. Both have performed at anti-war rallies.

The question tonight is why Baez wasn't allowed to perform with Mellencamp last Friday at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Mellencamp invited her. She said yes. The Army said no.

In a letter to "The Washington Post," Baez wrote -- quote -- "Four days before the concert, I was not approved by the Army to take part. Strange irony."

Baez says she was suddenly told she wasn't in the program. Walter Reed says Mellencamp's managers didn't give them enough notice to include her. They said they just approached them a couple days before the concert.

I talked with Joan Baez earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Walter Reed Medical Center has put out a statement today explaining why you weren't allowed to perform. They are saying, basically, this was a live televised event, and there was an intricate contract with HDTV, and, therefore, they couldn't change it just two or three days or four days before the concert.

Do you buy that?

BAEZ: I came back on April 7, and negotiations were already started. My manager himself was dealing with Mellencamp's manager. So, Mellencamp's manager, it all had to go through him. And it was on, off, on, off. And then it was an on, and then it was a definite on. And that was about five days before the concert, and then about three days before it was off.

COOPER: The Mellencamp press representative, Bob Merlis, they say that the main details of the performance weren't firmed up until Monday, April 23. The intonation is that they really only suggested you be there around this April 23 date.

Is that your understanding?

BAEZ: No. It's not.

COOPER: So you think they knew all along that-- the Walter Reed knew all along that you were going to be part of it, and then they just changed their mind at a later date?

BAEZ: You know, I would assume the bureaucracy in the Army is the toughest in the world, so I have no idea what was going on there. All I know, that for us at this end, my end, it was do you want to do this? Yes. And that was a very long time ago.

COOPER: Obviously, during the Vietnam War, you were very outspoken against that. You said you would not have performed, and you did not perform for troops then. How is it different now, in your opinion?

BAEZ: Well, there are two things. One is I still would not feel comfortable performing for the troops who are in battle. And that has to do with my position on non-violence, which is against war, period. And I would feel that I was condoning this war, which I do not, as I'm sure you know.

And I think there's a difference between singing in the middle of the war and singing for people who have come home, because I feel as though many of us did not give proper regard to the people who came home from Vietnam.

And I'm sure that that's why I instinctively said yes to performing for people who are already home.

COOPER: Would you have said anything at the concert to -- about the war?

BAEZ: If I had a chance to speak with these people. At a concert is not -- in this situation is not the right place. I was only going to do only two songs, one with Mellencamp and one by myself. So it wasn't a huge platform for me to be holding forth. It was just two songs.

So generally, after a concert anywhere, you meet with people. I guess John went the day before and met with people. So that's more what I'm talking about. If I had a chance for a discourse, not just to lecture people or tell them my point of view but to, you know, listen to what they had to say.

COOPER: We appreciate you coming on the program. Thank you very much.

BAEZ: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: I should point out the spokesman for Walter Reed says nobody is banned from Walter Reed and she would be welcome.

Thousands of soldiers wounded in the war zone have been treated at Walter Reed, of course. Here's the raw data. So far 5,796 Walter Reed patients were hurt in Iraq. At least 523 sustained injuries in Afghanistan.

Just today, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he supports plans to close the aging facility in 2011. Walter Reed is one of eight Army medical centers around the world.

Still to come, Ronald Reagan's secret diaries, John Edwards' tough message on Iraq, Adam Sandler and more, all ingredients in "Raw Politics" tonight. That's right, even Adam Sandler in "Raw Politics".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER (voice-over): When Oprah talks, millions listen. Now she's talking presidential politics.

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Have you endorsed a candidate before?

OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: Never.

KING: What made you do so now?

WINFREY: I haven't done it in the past, because I haven't felt that anybody -- I didn't know anybody well enough to be able to say I believe in this person.

BECK: So who is it? And what else is Oprah saying about her own future? You'll only hear it on CNN.

Also, a journey to the top of the world.

JEFF CORWIN, WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST: Hey, Anderson, this is what it's all about. We're in the middle of the Arctic on this vast table of ice. I'm warmed with this thrill and exciting moments of this ultimate capture.

COOPER: Jeff Corwin in the Arctic, a piece of a "Planet in Peril" that's literally melting away, only on 360.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Our next hour of 360, they may have hit bottom, but now they're living it up in rehab. For those who can afford it, the road to recovery is paved with gold. Take a look at what CNN's Brooke Anderson found out at celebrity rehabs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a massive bathroom, and it is by far one of the biggest bathrooms I've ever stepped my foot in

BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wow. It is enormous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's views. You know, I come over here and I brush my teeth every morning, and I get to look at the ocean. So I mean, it just doesn't get any better than this. It doesn't.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That's rehab. Ocean views are just the beginning. The story is coming up in the next hour of 360.

First, though, Oprah Winfrey, there is no question she's got clout when it comes to, well, everything from books to television to education in Africa. But what about politics? We're about to find out.

Recently and for the first time, Oprah endorsed a candidate for president, Barack Obama. She talked about it last night on "LARRY KING LIVE".

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KING: You endorsed Barack Obama for the president. That still sticks, right?

WINFREY: Yes, of course.

KING: Can a black man be elected president of the United States?

WINFREY: I believe he can. I believe a black man can, and I believe he can.

KING: Do you think he's going to win the nomination?

WINFREY: I'm not here to say whether he will win or not, but I believe you asked me do I believe that he can. I believe that he can. Is it possible? Yes, I do believe that it's possible.

This is my senator, my favorite senator!

KING: Have you endorsed a candidate before?

WINFREY: Never.

KING: What made you do so now? WINFREY: Because I know him personally. I think that what he, you know, stands for, what he has proven that he can stand for, what he's shown was worth me going out on a limb for. And I haven't done it in the past because I haven't felt that anybody -- I didn't know anybody well enough to be able to say, "I believe in this person."

KING: Is there a side of you, the woman side, that would lean toward a Hillary?

WINFREY: Well, I have great respect for Hillary Clinton. I have -- and I think I said this -- I've said this before, and it's true. But because I am for Barack does not mean that I am against Hillary or anybody else.

So the fact that I would endorse Barack Obama and the fact that I would support Barack Obama, I have not one negative thing to say about Hillary Clinton.

KING: Just you like Barack Obama?

WINFREY: I just like Barack Obama.

KING: Have you contributed to him?

WINFREY: I haven't contributed.

KING: Would you?

WINFREY: Well, the truth of the matter is, whether I contribute or not contribute, you're limited how much you can contribute. So you know, my money isn't going to make any difference to him. I think that my value to him, my support of him is probably worth more than any check I could write, yes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Oprah also told Larry that when her current contract runs out, that will be it for the show. "When I'm done, I'm done," she said.

As for Larry, he's been doing it 50 years. Tomorrow night, I'll be hosting a very special event, 50 years of pop culture as seen through Larry's eyes. It gets under way tomorrow night, 9 p.m. Eastern, followed at 11 by 360. It's a two-hour Larry special.

New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani rose to national attention, of course, during -- after 9/11. He's hoping it's going to help him his party's presidential nomination. Giuliani and other presidential candidates are getting ready for their first debate.

CNN's Joe Johns has more on that and other topics in "Raw Politics".

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Republican presidential candidates are going back to Cali -- California, that is -- getting ready for the first presidential debate at yes, the Reagan Presidential Library.

Perfect timing, too. The Reagan diaries are about to come out, the daily musings of the country's 40th president, yet another book people in Washington will surely be scouring through the index of to see if their names appear.

In case you hadn't noticed, Hollywood is starting to get its GOP on. Rudy Giuliani has picked up support from some real stars like Adam Sandler and Kelsey Grammer.

But then, everybody is wondering if a Hollywood star in his own right is going to upstage the entire field by jumping into the race. Former Tennessee senator and "Law & Order" cast member Fred Thompson is now the subject of a draft Thompson video on YouTube.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Another thing I like is Fred Thompson is a straight shooter. Tells you what he thinks.

JOHNS: The Democrats haven't exactly been neglecting the Hollywood crowd. Over the weekend, Illinois Senator Barack Obama was out there and got treated to a little musical improvisation from none other than Stevie Wonder himself.

(MUSIC)

JOHNS: And put this in the category of "it's easy for him to say." In his new TV ads, presidential hopeful John Edwards is urging the Senate to stand up to President Bush on the just vetoed Iraq spending bill, though Edwards uses everyday Americans to relay the message.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't back down to President Bush.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Send him the same bill again and again.

JOHNS: Edwards, of course, is a former -- in other words, used to be -- U.S. senator from North Carolina and doesn't have to stand for reelection in his home state, which just happens to have huge military bases, including Fort Bragg, Camp Lejeune and Polk Air Force Base. Folks there might not like the idea of a showdown over military spending.

And that's "Raw Politics" -- Anderson.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: It certainly is.

Don't forget, you can catch "Raw Politics" and the day's headlines 24/7 with the new 360 daily podcast. You don't need an iPod. You can watch it on your computer: CNN.com/AC360podcast. Or get it from the iTunes store where it is a top download.

Up next on 360, we're going to take you to the top of the world, and up close and personal with some amazing polar bears. Wildlife biologist Jeff Corwin tracking polar bears and seeing how they're under threat, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: The scientific community agrees that the earth is warming, and the effects are most dramatic at the north and the south poles. The warming trends have researchers most concerned about one animal in particular that calls the Arctic home, the polar bear.

The thinning, and in some cases, disappearing ice is having a profound impact on the behavior of the world's largest carnivore. And for tonight's "Planet in Peril" report, we sent our partner in this series, wildlife biologist Jeff Corwin, up there to chase some bears and see for himself what's going on.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CORWIN: Hey, Anderson.

This is what it's all about. We're in the middle of the Arctic on this vast table of ice. The temperature is hovering around zero degrees Fahrenheit. But when you throw in the wind chill factor, it's more like 15, maybe 20 degrees below zero. But I've got to tell you, I'm warmed with this thrill and exciting moments of this ultimate capture.

We're traveling with Steve Amstrup and Jeff York. They're wildlife biologists. They work with USGS. And we've been tracking this polar bear along this -- this plain of ice and snow. And see -- as you saw, landed a perfect shot, and it's delivered that anesthesia that's knocked down this bear perfectly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One-seven-eight.

CORWIN: So what we're doing right now is we're gathering data from this animal as they measure, for example, what we have right here is we have a total body length. Do a tail length. We do various measurements to sort of ascertain the length of the bear. We do sort of this one in the prone position and then we'll do one sort of in the fetal position.

Girth length?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 98.5.

CORWIN: 98.5.

STEVE AMSTRUP, USGS POLAR BEAR PROJECT: Polar bears feed on seals. They feed on fish. They feed on crustaceans, which feed on smaller organisms than that. And so the polar bear is on the top of the system, and it reflects everything, sort of integrates everything underneath it to give us an understanding of what the health of this ecosystem is.

CORWIN: So what we have, Anderson, are incredible projects like this. These scientists spend a lot of their lives up here studying these bears. Steve has been here for over 26 years. And that data is contributing to us sort of re-exploring the world of the polar bear.

Today, we're -- we quite possibly could put them in the endangered species list. And of course, what that tells us is that global warming or climate change is no longer a situation of conjecture, that it's really taking place.

And of course, if the polar bear is affected by this change in the environment, by the loss of this ice, so will all other life forms and, ultimately, human beings, as well.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, Jeff made mention of the endangered species listing for the polar bear. The listing recommendation was made last December, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has one year from then to study the science and make their decision.

Now, if it is listed, it would be the first time an animal would receive protection under the act, based on future climate projections.

Still ahead on 360, more on our Imus exclusive. He is suing -- he may be suing CBS, and we have part of his contract.

Also ahead, new information about a story we brought to you as it was developing last night, what the Los Angeles police chief is now saying about his officers firing rubber bullets and injuring protesters during yesterday's immigration rally. Next on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BECK: In a moment, she's back. In San Diego last night, Britney Spears gave what's believed to be her first public concert in nearly three years. It is the "Shot of the Day".

But first, Erica Hill from Headline News has the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Anderson, Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton said today some of the police tactics used to clear immigration protesters from a park in L.A. yesterday were inappropriate, and he launched two investigations.

News video showed officers striking people with batons and firing rubber bullets into crowds, including children.

And take a look at this. This is a bank heist, caught on a surveillance tape outside Miami. The two robbers targeted an armored truck as it was making a delivery to a check cashing store and got away with more than a million.

On Wall Street today, stocks rallying the Dow, gaining 75 points to close at 13,211. Yes, that is another record high. The S&P rose nearly ten points. The NASDAQ climbed 26. Robust profits and a flurry of buy-outs helped to fuel all those gains. And with Mother's Day approaching, listen up to this one. According to an annual survey by a Boston consulting firm, the cold cash value of all the work performed by stay at home moms now stands at $138,095. That's what stay-at-home moms would earn if they were paid the same as workers who do all the jobs moms do on any given day.

You might want to factor that in when you're shopping for a Mother's Day gift.

COOPER: I think that's a little low. I think that's a low estimate.

HILL: It is a little low. I think you're right.

COOPER: Time for "The Shot" now. Talking about moms, Britney Spears, she knows how to keep her fans guessing. Here she is, back on stage last night at the House of Blues in San Diego.

Her comeback, very clandestine. The club advertised the show as the M&M's. Word got out that Spears would be there. Her last concert was all the way back in 2004. Since then, of course, we all know what happened. She's got two kids. She had the divorce. She shaved her head. She's gone to rehab.

HILL: She's got a lot going on

COOPER: There's a lot going on in Ms. Spears' world. The performance lasted about 15 minutes last night.

One concert goer complained it looked like she lip-synced the whole thing. But I think they're just griping. I say we should give her a break.

HILL: I heard, too, that all the songs were old.

COOPER: Look, she -- you know, she hasn't had time to be writing new songs. Stuff's going on in her life.

HILL: OK. I mean, sure, it's material she knew well. And she has been busy. You're right. I'm just saying.

COOPER: She's trying to make a comeback. I think everyone should be supportive.

HILL: We wish her all the best.

COOPER: That's right.

She was wearing a wig, by the way. Just in case you're wondering.

HILL: Her hair didn't grow back that quickly?

COOPER: Apparently not.

HILL: OK. COOPER: All right. We want you to send us your "Shot" ideas. If you see some amazing video of Britney Spears, I guess, tell us about it: CNN.com/360. We'll put some of your best clips on the air.

Actually, if you see Britney Spears, just keep that one to yourself. We don't really need know about it.

Up next on 360, exclusive new information on the Don Imus controversy. We have part of the contract that some say could force CBS to pay him tens of millions of dollars. Jeffrey Toobin has got it. He'll join us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Was it crowd control or police brutality? An immigration rally ends in beatings and rubber bullets. Did L.A. cops go too far? Tonight, new developments in the investigation. That's coming up.

But first, an exclusive report you won't see anywhere else. It is about the deal that could make Don Imus tens of millions of dollars. We all know he was fired for those racially-charged comments of the Rutgers women's basketball team. But tonight, Imus is reportedly considering suing his former employer, CBS Radio, for breach of contract.

Considering what he said on the air, his case may seem laughable to some, but then we got our hands on a portion of the contract between Imus and CBS Radio. And what it says may surprise you.

CNN's senior legal analyst was the first to get hold of the terms in question and joins us now.

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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