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CNN NEWSROOM

BET Cartoon Sparks Controversy; Democratic Fundraiser Surrenders to Police; Reflection on Senator Craig's Resignation; Subculture Cruising for Sex; D.C. Firefighters Under Spotlight

Aired September 1, 2007 - 22:00   ET

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


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: A few minutes in a men's room has now cost a United States senator his career. So what's next for Larry Craig and what does his resignation mean for the balance of power in Washington? We look for answers.
It's a long way from "Sesame Street." A new animated cartoon on Black Entertainment Television. Is it satire, education, or just plain offensive? BET says one thing, many parents say another.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To the producer, kill yourself. To the one that green lit this and say we need to get it on the air, hold hands with the producer and kill yourself, too.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: How far is too far? We'll talk to the cartoon's creators and to people who say they should be ashamed of themselves.

Who is this man? Many Democratic presidential candidates know him as a gifted fund-raiser but authorities know him as a fugitive, a rain maker on the run from the law.

And it looks like the work of a Hollywood special effects whiz, but this midair collision was all too real. We've got the tragic details. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

And good evening, everyone. I'm Tony Harris in tonight for Rick Sanchez.

Sex, scandal and gossip spark a United States senator to remove himself from office. Calls for Senator Larry Craig to resign started several days ago. They got louder from more directions and today the Idaho Republican announced he will leave Congress. It's not even a week since news emerged of his June arrest in a Minneapolis airport bathroom his guilty pleas and the rumors, denial and insinuation. Senator Craig says the emotion he feels most strongly is regret.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LARRY CRAIG (R), IDAHO: To Idahoans I represent, to my staff, my Senate colleagues but most importantly to my wife and my family, I apologize for what I have caused. I am deeply sorry. I have little control over what people choose to believe but clearly my name is important to me and my family is, so very important, also.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Well, the senator says he has his family and the people of Idaho in mind. Let's find out how those words are resounding tonight in his home state. CNN's Kara Finnstrom is live in Boise. Kara, good evening.

KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Tony. Well, the senator served the state in Congress for more than a quarter of a century. So a sudden fall from grace this week has left many in Idaho in shock.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FINNSTROM (voice-over): From applause of support for the embattled senator making his entrance ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I hope people today will stand up and fight for him.

FINNSTROM: ... to jeers during his resignation speech.

CRAIG: I announce that it is my intent to resign from the Senate effective September 30th. In doing so ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.

(CHEERS)

CRAIG: In doing so ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We love you, Larry!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he really needs to step forward, and I really think he needs to come out and say what he really did and not try to hide it.

FINNSTROM: Rocked by a week of tabloid-like scandal are speaking out.

Crystal White (ph) and her neighbors came with signs, one referring to the senator's statements on "Meet the Press" on the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

CRAIG: Bad boy, Bill Clinton. You're a naughty boy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He can be gay all he wants. My aunt's gay. I don't care. I just wish he would be truthful and honest.

FINNSTROM: Charges of hypocrisy resonated in Boise's farmer's market. Lifetime Idahoan, Lee Rice (ph) runs a farm. He says Craig's guilty plea to even a reduced charge contradicts the senator's clearly voiced conservative social values.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just looks like a double standard to, you know, those of us here in Idaho and I'm sure to the rest of the country and even some -- a lot of his colleagues.

FINNSTROM: Greg Smith, who used to work for the senator, says there had been whispers of Craig having a gay lifestyle for years, but he believes the senator is telling the truth.

GREG SMITH, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: You hear the little rumors, but there's never been any kind of substantiation to that. I know. I used to travel with him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think Larry Craig is one of the most honorable men that I have ever met in my life. And I have had the privilege of working with him for the last -- throughout the last 25 or 26 years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Quite frankly, I hope the next senator is a Democrat.

FINNSTROM: You won't hear much of that in this staunchly Republican state. But many here say, regardless of their personal opinions of the senator, they agree with his decision to step down.

CRAIG: I apologize for what I have caused.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just shocked and stunned. I mean, we just don't expect that out of our leaders. And hoping for the best for Idaho to move on.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FINNSTROM: And what many in the state are now waiting to hear is who will fill his seat at least temporarily until that 2008 election and you'll have to wait to hear that from the governor. Tony?

HARRIS: Kara if you would, tell us about that moment at the end of that press conference where the senator made that statement, when you had a bit of a moment to talk to him.

FINNSTROM: Yeah. You know, during the press conference, he didn't refer to the incident at all, which has caused all of this. So as he left, I was able to ask him very briefly is he continuing to deny the accusations, and he said, of course. And he actually looked frustrated, of course, absolutely. And then he went to say, and these are his words, "We will fight this like hell." So we know there's a legal battle that is coming from his counsel but we haven't heard anything further on that yet.

HARRIS: OK CNN's Kara Finnstrom for us in Boise, Idaho - Kara appreciate it, thank you.

Is he or isn't he is not a new topic of discussion about Senator Craig. He has been battling rumors about his private life nearly as long as he's been a public figure. Here's CNN congressional correspondent Dana Bash.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ironically, Craig gained national attention soon after his Washington career started during a sex scandal. In 1982 the freshman congressman issued a statement adamantly denying he had sex with congressional pages even though no one had publicly accused him. Here on NBC.

CRAIG: I have people telling me that a whole series of false accusations were made against my character. Frankly, it makes me mad at hell.

BASH: Despite that, Craig served 25 more years elected to the House, then the Senate by huge margins. He stayed popular fighting for gun rights and tax cuts. The red state Republican who voted against gay rights has been plagued by rumors he is gay for years.

After news broke of his bathroom bust, Craig's local paper reported on a six-month investigation into those rumors. He called it a witch hunt.

CRAIG: I am not gay. I never have been gay.

BASH: Craig's Senate salary was the only income and despite pleading guilty to a misdemeanor and leaving in disgrace, Senate rules allow him to walk away with a $130,000 a year pension, paid for by taxpayers.

(on camera): Craig says he'll focus the time now on trying to overturn a guilty plea he signed admitting to misconduct in an airport men's room. He says he intends to clear his name but that will be extremely hard to do, both legally and politically. Dana Bash, CNN, Boise, Idaho.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: So let's more on the last point there. So we know since we're no longer talking about if Senator Craig will resign, what now? End of this month, Larry Craig will be a former senator with an arrest record. He says he is going to, quote, "fight like hell to clear his name." But our senior legal analyst doubts that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST (on phone): The only thing that goes away is Senator Craig's political career. As a legal matter, this is over. He pled guilty. He got a very minor sentence. The case is over.

I would be very surprised if he actually pursues any legal remedy to try to reopen it. I think he is going to try to rebuild his life as a retired person and I think the best way to preserve his dignity is to talk about this case as little as possible and move on to something else. There's nothing for him to do anymore.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: It is a secretive subculture playing out in the darkest of corners, but now the Larry Craig scandal is giving us all a glimpse into that corner, a world where men cruise for gay sex in bathrooms. Our Dan Lothian has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's not the primary function of public parks, rest rooms and rest areas. But for men in search of anonymous same-sex partners, they are popular destinations.

PROF. RICHARD TEWKSBURY, UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE: There's also the idea that there is sort of a thrill to the hunt, to the excitement of sex in a public place, of doing something that potentially does have negative consequences for you.

LOTHIAN: Web sites like this one offer a kind of adult travel guide, including rules of the game and secret signals to make a connection in a public rest room, like waiting in a stall at the farthest end of the bathroom. And when someone approaches next door, quote, move your foot so that you know the other person can see it and slowly start tapping it.

Professor Richard Tewksbury at the University of Louisville has published several studies on this subculture. He has documented about 9,000 locations across the country where he says this public behavior often referred to as cruising takes place merely because of opportunity and convenience.

TEWKSBURY: There's all kinds of places. Many times that most of us walk by or walk into in our daily lives and never realize are cruising locations.

LOTHIAN: Anonymous gay sex in public areas certainly isn't new. Remember pop singer George Michael almost ten years ago? He was busted for engaging in a lewd act in a park rest room in Beverly Hills.

GEORGE MICHAEL, POP SINGER: I can only apologize. I can -- I can try to fathom why I did it.

LOTHIAN: But law enforcement agencies across the country have been cracking down in recent months, sometimes using undercover stings to catch men in the act like in rest rooms at Atlanta's Hartsfield- Jackson's International Airport where more than 40 men were picked up recently for indecent exposure and public sex acts.

MAJ. DARRYL TOLLESON, ATLANTA POLICE: We have arrested college professors, bank presidents, other CEOs. So we -- it ranges.

LOTHIAN: And here's another surprise.

TEWKSBURY: The research tells us that for the most part, we're talking about men who are involved in some kind of long-term heterosexual relationship frequently married, frequently with children.

LOTHIAN: Investigators say critics who argue police should be focusing on more serious crimes are missing the point, that this public behavior is illegal.

TOLLESON: We're there to enforce all crime -- enforce all laws. LOTHIAN: And they're finding suspects in the bathroom.

Dan Lothian, CNN, Boston.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: And coming up in the CNN NEWSROOM, misunderstood satire or blatant ignorance? Oh boy. This will be hot. That is the question surrounding a new animated video on Black Entertainment Television. Parents are shocked. But the creators say they just don't get the joke.

Plus, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton: one world leader says it would be an invincible ticket but this is one endorsement neither candidate wants. We will tell you about it in dogbone politics.

But next:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An allegation of prostitution has been conducted as a D.C. fire house is front page news.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Firefighters, EMTs and prostitution? That's the rumor in Washington. They come to your aid when you call 911 but what are they doing in their down time? That's next in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: It is a long way from "Sesame Street," a new animated cartoon on black entertainment television. Is it satire, education or just plain offensive? BET says one thing. Many parents say another.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The producer, kill yourself. To the one that green lit this and said we need to get this on the air, hold hands where the producer and kill yourself, too.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: How far is too far? We'll talk to the cartoon's creators and to people who say they should be ashamed of themselves.

Who is this man? Many Democratic presidential candidates know him as a gifted fund-raiser, but authorities know him as something else. A fugitive -- a rain maker on the run from the law.

And it looks like the work of a Hollywood special effects whiz, but this midair collision was all too real. We have got the tragic details.

D.C. firefighters are in the business of taking the heat but not like this. There's now an investigation under way into allegations employees were running a prostitution ring within the department. CNN's Gary Nurenberg reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY NURENBERG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The police department in Washington, D.C., has begun an investigation of alleged sexual improprieties within the city's Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department. An allegation that prostitution has been conducted at a D.C. firehouse is front page news in the "Washington Times." We asked the fire department spokesman if the allegations that a "sex ring" is operating at a D.C. firehouse is part of the criminal probe.

ALAN ETTER, D.C. FIRE DEPT SPOKESMAN: The allegations involved alleged sexual impropriety, and that is true. The minute Chief Ruben found out about the allegations, he immediately engaged in an investigation with the Metropolitan Police Department. They are now engaged in a criminal investigation.

NURENBERG: When asked about the allegations, the president of the Firefighters Union told CNN "If they turn out to be true we naturally find that to be absolutely disgusting...we will have to wait and see what the truth is."

Spokesman Etter, says legal constraints prevent him from being specific, but he says there will be a full accounting.

ETTER: The reason that we're even saying this much about the allegations -- about this investigation is because we want the public to know that we are as up front and honest and transparent about this and we want people to know that if this activity is proven to be true, it is never, ever tolerated in our agency. Chief Ruben has been adamant about that. Again, we don't know if these allegations are true, but they are serious and we want them investigated.

NURENBERG (on camera): Etter says the city plans to assess its investigation at the beginning of the week and currently plans a public statement on the potential scandal on Wednesday.

Gary Nurenberg, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: We have a horrible piece of video to show you now. An exciting air show, right, with daredevil pilots and then the unthinkable happens. Watch and listen. Two, one-man stunt planes smash into each other and both are just obliterated. It happened in Poland not far from Warsaw. The two planes were supposed to pass very closely but they collided instead as you saw there. Man oh man, to the absolute horror of the crowd watching below. Both pilots were killed. Fortunately no one on the ground was hurt.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM this evening, we all want your kids to read books but is this the way to make it happen? So coming up, the fiery controversy around the new animated video running on Black Entertainment Television. We dig into the issues. Plus, he is the highest profile non-candidate in this year's presidential race but that's about to change. Fred Thompson and his journey toward the campaign trail. That is coming up for you in dogbone politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Welcome back, everyone to the CNN NEWSROOM. As you know, we get video from all over the world into the NEWSROOM all the time. Some of it absolutely off the world. A couple of clips to share with you. Let's take you to Greensboro, North Carolina. A little class a baseball. The pitch inside. It should be the end of it. You saw the pitcher was thrown out. The batter should be going to first base now. No, no, no. We have time for a good baseball brawl, right?

Take a look at this. The fans in the coliseum cheering it on. Are you not entertained? We give a little gladiator moment here. Separate fights breaking out all over the place. So finally, they separate the sides. Throw everybody out. But no one called time out. No one called time out. So the game continues. The runner continues to run the bases, safe at second base.

Let's take you to Maine now where police are investigating just a crazy incident involving a couple of knucklehead kids. Here it is, caught on surveillance cameras, so they'll probably catch these kids. Watch them here as they're destroying part of a 15-foot tall sand castle. Crazy about this is that the sandcastle was being used to raise money for a camp for terminally ill children and their families. Absolutely ridiculous.

Let's take you to downtown Atlanta, happened earlier today. Freaks, geeks, mutants, my great aunt. Everybody out in downtown Atlanta today on parade. This is at that Dragon Con Parade for real life cartoon characters. Something I want you to think about. These people that you are seeing here have day jobs. They prepare your taxes. They teach your kids. They also work in restaurants preparing your meals. Something to keep in mind.

Coming up in 90 seconds, dogbone politics and a rapping send off for the brain, Karl Rove.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: OK, time now to chew on some dogbone politics. He is a top Democratic Party fund-raiser but he had to cough up $2 million in bail money. Norman Hsu turned himself in to California police on a 15-year-old charge of felony grand theft. Hsu was a top donor to Hillary Clinton and he's also given money to Barack Obama and other Democrats in the past. Clinton, Obama and others say they're going to donate Hsu's money to charity.

Democrat Joe Biden got a little dirty this week in his quest to win some labor union votes. Biden spent the day on the job with Marshall Clemmons, the head custodian at Iowa's Harding Middle School. The senator cleaned up trash, swept the floors, he did it all. This was part of the Service Employees' Union walk a day in my shoes program.

Everyone has an opinion about the presidential race. Now even Cuba's Fidel Castro is weighing. He's even offered his picks for next year's winning White House ticket. El presidente's prediction? Can you guess? Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Castro told Cuba's Communist Party newspaper that a Clinton/Obama ticket would be, quote, "invincible." He's not much of a fan, though. He went out of the way to criticize both candidates for the support of Democratic reforms in Cuba.

Republicans love him. Democrats love to hate him. But now Karl Rove is packed up and has headed home saying good-bye to his days as White House adviser. But Rove couldn't leave without a proper send off from his staff, including a complete plastic wrapped job on the car while it was parked outside of the White House. Extra touches included lots of Post-It notes, stuffed eagles on the trunk and a bumper sticker that read, "I Love Obama."

And from the it's about time file, Republican Fred Thompson is finally going to make it official. He plans to use a midnight Web cast next Wednesday night to join the field of candidates running for president. The actor and former senator will then head out on a five- day campaign swing through Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida.

Someone tries to steal from your store, the store where you work. You stop them and then you're fired. It will make you say "you've got to be kidding."

Stick around for this one. Curse words, violence, sexual images and more. Is this what it takes to get a message across to young people today? A new video stirring things up in more ways than one. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: What is going on here? What's that? Read a book is the message. How it's being packaged is the issue tonight. We're talking about this, a so-called satirical cartoon video running right now on Black Entertainment Television. Let me give you a little background and see if you get the joke.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: Remember this? How about this? How to get to "Sesame Street" TV shows like "Electric Company," "Sesame Street," "Schoolhouse Rock" sang children into their ABCs and 123s. Fast forward some 30 years later. Viacom-owned Black Entertainment Television created this so-called satirical public service announcement, but who's laughing?

PROF. CHARLES E. JONES, GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY: I wasn't and I don't think many of the black parents would be laughing.

HARRIS: BET's head of animation says the video was not part of any literacy campaign or "Schoolhouse Rock" alternative, but was intended for BET's demographic of 18-to-34-year-olds. But listen to this. They said in the past that their "diversity and appeal attracts viewers as young as 12."

JONES: It's not just whites or people looking at this video. And then think about black people. It's about what are the messages black people are receiving.

HARRIS: Cory Condrey is the founder of a nationally syndicated radio show "Spirit of Hip Hop."

CORY CONDREY, SPIRIT OF HIP HOP: Just take the cuss words out and don't even have a video and play it - play it just like that. The truth of the matter is we do need to drink water. The truth is we need to pay the rent and we need to buy land. I think that there's a message in it. I do believe there's a way that they could actually deliver the message in a better way.

HARRIS: Part of BET's mission statement, to broadcast the culture, genius, beauty and talent of the black race. Is this that? The answer may be buried deep, but a widening cultural and generational gap.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: BET released this statement. It says, quote, "We feel that the best way to reach our core demo isn't through lecturing but instead through entertaining discourse that addresses important issues and ideas and at the same time respects their intelligence."

With that in mind, we want to know if this is something parents want their children watching, so we asked some of them. Here's what they say.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STACY POPE, PARENT: We don't take a stand as parents, if we don't say no. This is not satire, it's not funny, it's not educating anyone. We are not going to allow this to be played especially during these times then this will be our children's after school special.

ADRIENNE HARRIS, PARENT: It's hard enough as it is that, you know, my son, I have to watch everything he watches, you know, just to make sure that there's no negative messages and now you're put this stuff in cartoons and say you're marketing it for an adult, you know, an older crowd but at the same time who watches cartoons? Kids.

KEMBO TOM, PARENT: First and foremost, our children are sacred. And If eel like there is no dividing line on programming specific to BET that shows that children are sacred.

GREG FORDE, PARENT: The thing with satire, really clever satire is that it speaks to a point but you still realize it's satire. People who are not in our community are not going to see this as satire.

HARRIS: It is supposed to market toward 18 and 34 -- they have it playing during this countdown where mostly teens and, you know, younger kids watch. I mean, this is a cartoon for Adult Swim more than so --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right, right.

HARRIS: Than regular television.

CARA CLARK, PARENT: I think the initial opportunity was great. I just think what the producer did with it was just hideous. I'm really afraid for my child to see this, you know, because when it comes on, it's like another episode of class of 3000 and then goes on, it is like oh my gosh, this is exactly opposite of that. This is sick. This is like, you know, this is something that is for adults. OK? So then play it at an adult time.

EDDIE MEEKS, PARENT: I just -- they totally miss the point. It's garbage. It's 100 percent garbage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Garbage.

TERRELL WILLIAMS, PARENT: Inherently it was an entertainment network which tried to gain some credibility in news and in other areas, sports, what have you. But there's really not a lot of education. There used to be something called teen summit, you know? Events that just helped promote, you know, young people and, you know, young people doing great things but, you know, what it's turned into is a farce, really.

MEEKS: A regular old -- a joke.

WILLIAMS: It is a farce.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: Great. All right, you've seen it. You've heard what parent haves to say. You have heard what BET has to say. Next, we talk to two of the people involved in creating the video. Bomani, Tyree, strap it on. You know what's coming.

As well as one person who says, well, they should be ashamed of themselves. That is straight ahead for you in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: OK. We have shown you the cartoon. You have heard from parents who have responded. Now let's hear from a couple of people who are involved in creating BET's satirical "Read a Book" video and a man who says they should be ashamed of themselves.

Joining me now is Bomani Armah, musician who created the song for "Read a Book." Also Tyree Dillihay, the director of the project. And rounding out our discussion, media critic Paul Porter.

Paul, good to see you. Why don't you get us started here? I know you don't care much for the video, but you know what? That's because you are a fuddy duddy. You don't get it. You are not tuned in. You are not tuned into youth culture, hip hop culture. What's the problem with this?

PAUL PORTER, MEDIA CRITIC: Tony, first, let's get it right. The video, I have no problems with the video.

HARRIS: You don't have a problem with the video?

PORTER: No, no, no. It is when and where. That's my problem.

HARRIS: All right. Tell me the story here. What's the when and where problem for you?

PORTER: Well, the satire -- the problem and it's much bigger than this one video. I think so many things that happened on BET in general, it is funny this video has got so much attention when there's human beings doing this and all different types of ways all the time on the network.

HARRIS: So wait. You know what?

PORTER: Ten years.

HARRIS: Hey, hey, Paul. Let me stop you for a second. You are really telling me you're OK with the images in this video?

PORTER: No, no, no, no. I'm not OK. It all depends when and where and it is not the right place.

HARRIS: So there are occasions and places and times you would be OK with this? This presentation --

PORTER: Of course, for adults who can understand satire, 12- year-olds can't. You know, there's places for everything.

HARRIS: Right.

PORTER: And I don't think, you know, BET is the place for this.

HARRIS: BET and by extension Viacom, don't leave that out, as well, all right?

PORTER: Viacom is the big bandit here.

HARRIS: Let me get back to you in jut a second. Tyree, you are the director of this project.

TYREE DILLIHAY, READ A BOOK DIRECTOR: Yes, I am.

HARRIS: You proud of this?

DILLIHAY: Very much so.

HARRIS: Why?

DILLIHAY: Because it sends a message. It's a reflection of hip hop culture today. Like he is saying, there's grown human beings doing this and all it is just parodying that. HARRIS: This is satire? This is funny to you? Holding up human vices to ridicule and scorn, that is the definition of satire. Is that what you are doing, holding up the vices of black people to ridicule --

DILLIHAY: No, not at all - what we're holding up is hip hop. We're skewering the hip hop. We're not skewering the black community at all. This is something that you see and her every day on television and the radio. All I did was take those same images, just like Bomani took the same beat except we put a message to it.

HARRIS: I'm sorry. There are white folks in hip hop. Are there white folks are in the video?

DILLIHAY: No. No, actually, there is, the referee.

HARRIS: There is?

DILLIHAY: Yeah, the football referee.

HARRIS: OK. Bomani, where did this come from? This concept and why the language? Why the language?

BOMANI ARMAH, READ A BOOK CREATOR: Oh, the language is absolutely necessary.

HARRIS: why?

ARMAH: Y'all juxtapose against the wrong thing. I saw the tease and I'm listening to it and you juxtapose --

HARRIS: Where do we have it wrong?

ARMAH: You juxtapose this against public service announcement. You should juxtapose this against all the other videos playing the same time.

HARRIS: How do we juxtapose it against the public service announcement? Explain that to me.

ARMAH: What I'm saying is, the idea is all I do for a living is listen to hip hop songs and talk to young people about how hip hop and song writing and creative writing affects their lives. OK?

HARRIS: But I get a story that you don't even know what -- you didn't know what crunk is, that somebody had to tell you what crunk music was.

ARMAH: You need to check your sources, bro.

HARRIS: Really?

ARMAH: This is what I do for a living.

HARRIS: Really? ARMAH: This is what I do for a living, man. Basically the idea was Lil' John was real popular when I made the song and so I was like, man, if crunk is what's in, I'll do crunk.

If students respond to that type of stuff, then I'll do it, I'll put my message to it. Like I said, y'all you're comparing this to "Sesame Street." You should compare it to "Hey Baby" and you should compare to Pliers (ph) or somebody like that. Like you're getting the wrong -- and I was really - I want to watch this.

HARRIS: Am I going to see those pieces that you just named --

ARMAH: If you're watching it --

HARRIS: 3:00, 4:00, 5:00 in the afternoon when my kids are coming from school?

ARMAH: Yes, yes.

HARRIS: Really? All right. Now, where would I find these pieces? Are these online?

ARMAH: BET.

HARRIS: BET again.

ARMAH: They literally played "Hey Baby" before they played that song. And I would have loved what you showed with the parents talking to each other about how television and music affecting their children.

HARRIS: Right.

ARMAH: I love that. That was great. I'm jealous I wasn't there.

ARMAH: So you did this. You did this purposely to get under people's skin, to start this. You are a provocateur. That's what you set out to do and Tyree, that's what you set out to do, because as a director, you control the imaging here. You se out to be purposely provocative so we would be sitting on - see, we have given you exactly what you wanted.

ARMAH: See, the thing is I didn't think that the idea of reading and hygiene and all these things were controversial. My idea was to pick the most simplest ideas --

HARRIS: Wrapped in this packaging, this imagery?

DILLIHAY: Definitely, definitely.

HARRIS: With the big booty female black woman cartoon bouncing up and down?

ARMAH: Do you watch BET?

HARRIS: Yes, I watch BET. ARMAH: So you understand the context that we're working with. If your 11-year-old is watching "Rap City," the fact that your 11- year-old is watching "Rap City" is a bigger problem than then seeing them this video.

HARRIS: I'm just saying -- oh come on. Is that really -- you got really --

ARMAH: You can't understand satire outside of its context.

HARRIS: I understand that satire needs to be funny.

DILLIHAY: No. It definitely is funny. That's why people are attacking the booty joke so hard.

HARRIS: Paul, jump in here.

PORTER: First thing, the point that -- absolutely right. Kids don't understand satire.

ARMAH: Stop insulting my children, please.

PORTER: BET for example --

DILLIHAY: Kids understand satire.

PORTER: What kids have you talked to, 11, 12-year-old?

DILLIHAY: I was raised on "Mad" magazine.

HARRIS: One at a time. Paul, go ahead.

DILLIHAY: I read "Mad" magazine. That was satire, 30-years-old and I fully understand satire.

HARRIS: Tyree, I can turn the mike off. Let me get one at a time here. Paul, go ahead.

PORTER: Yeah. See the point that we're missing is the images for the kids and BET is claiming 18 to 34-year-olds but their most popular show "106 and Park" is a bunch of teens from high school and lower than that.

HARRIS: Yeah, OK. Let me stop you. I got to go. I'm way long in the segment. I have to go. Tyree, give me something quickly.

PORTER: This is more than one video, this is a network.

HARRIS: I got you. I got you. Paul, Tyree, very quickly, last word, go ahead.

DILLIHAY: Last word is, just look at it for what it is. If you extract some truth from it, that's fine. But at the same, just realize it is a cartoon and the problem is bigger than just the cartoon. Fix the problem.

HARRIS: Maybe this is part of the problem. Bomani, last word, very quickly.

ARMAH: I'm excited. I was surprised that BET was willing to parody their bread and butter and hopefully it's the beginning of something where we really have more parents getting together like y'all did. I applaud you. Have parents get together and talk about what our children are watching.

HARRIS: OK, gentlemen, appreciate your time. I'm way long in the segment, got to go. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

ARMAH: Thank you.

HARRIS: All right. We'll talk about this more. We called BET and asked for a representative to be on with us tonight to discuss the animated video, but both the senior vice president for animation Denys Cowan as well as network president Reginald Hudland declined to appear, so we're going to continue trying to get one of these top- level decision makers from BET on with us, we'd like to hear from them. They OK'ed it. We hope to bring that to you in the days ahead.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM tonight, vets just back from war and wounded, but not helpless. One man's mission to help, it's what makes him a CNN hero. His story coming up in the NEWSROOM.

But next, you are not it. Some schools are actually banning tag. It's enough to make you say "you got to be kidding."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: OK. A high school senior's dream come true. It was the ultimate prank on a rival school. And of course, the results ended up on YouTube. Take a look. It will make you say you got to be kidding. A kid in Ohio tricked students and parents at a football game into holding up individual signs that was supposed to spell out the rival school's name. And instead, it spelled "We suck." OK. The kid says it took days to map it all out and prepare the signs and result, bragging rights, a three-day suspension and getting banned from extracurricular activities? Was it worth it? I think so.

Next up, the man in the orange apron gets a pink slip. How about this? Dustin Chester was once Home Depot's employee of the year. This week he was fired. Why? Because the 24-year-old tackled a crowbar wielding thief trying to pry money from the store's outdoor soda machine and restraining a shoplifter is against company policy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DUSTIN CHESTER, FORMER HOME DEPOT EMPLOYEE: It's disappointing. It's discouraging.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: OK. Was that it? That's all he had to say. OK. Come to find out, sounds like Home Depot is not going to press charges against the alleged thief. And tag, you're it, three words you won't hear on an elementary school playground in Colorado Springs. The game's been banned. Guess it stopped being kids' play when kids started complaining that they were being chased or harassed against their will. I see here, same thing at other schools. Red Rover may be next.

A couple of big storms are definitely on the radar tonight but our focus right now is on what's happening to travelers this holiday weekend. And for that, we go to CNN meteorologist Jacqui Jeras in the Weather Center. Good to see you Jacqui.

(WEATHER REPORT)

HARRIS: Still to come in the NEWSROOM tonight, martial arts can help build discipline, confidence and more. But tonight's CNN Hero is using it to help wounded soldiers returning from the battlefield. His story is coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: He was wounded in war, now he is helping dozens of his comrades heal and he is doing it in a way that very few people can. Bob Kunkel is tonight's CNN Hero.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did this start?

BOB KUNKEL, CNN HERO: The new injured have no idea how dramatic their lives have been impacted. And I have experience in that area. And I knew I had to do something.

I was with the 9th Infantry Division. My knee joint was blown out. So they took the bottom part and welded it to the top.

I did not cope well. You name the self-destructive behavior, I did it. Times 10. Now I view all that experience as training for what I'm doing now.

My name is Bob Kunkel. I have the privilege and honor of being allowed to interact with the new injured at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

I function as a friend. I teach jujitsu so that an injured person can become empowered in protecting themselves.

He went that way, so you step here.

There's a connection. Been in combat? I've been in combat.

You're laughing, they know.

My purpose is to steer someone to make better choices in their life.

If you're injured, you're still the same person.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For me, I feel fortunate to have met somebody like Bob. You know, someone that can kind of understand the disability, but that can also teach me a skill that I can pass on to other people.

KUNKEL: I've taken soldiers out for coffee, out for a drive, and dinner.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you?

KUNKEL: And you can just see people relaxing. It's my way of showing my true appreciation for their sacrifice.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: What a guy, huh? Bob Kunkel.

Thanks for joining us tonight. I'm Tony Harris in for Rick Sanchez. Stay with CNN.

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