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CAMPBELL BROWN

President Obama Speaks Out Again on Harvard Arrest

Aired July 24, 2009 - 20:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Tonight, here the questions we want answered. The president shocks the press corps with a surprise appearance to back off his earlier comment that a white police officer acted stupidly in arresting a black Harvard professor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cambridge police are not stupid.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I could have calibrated those words differently.

SANCHEZ: Is that enough? And who really prejudged who? Did the cop prejudge the black professor, or did the black professor prejudge the white cop? And what about the president? Is it enough to calm these angry Cambridge police officers? We will ask them.

And the sergeant in the middle of it all speaks again.

SERGEANT JAMES CROWLEY, CAMBRIDGE POLICE DEPARTMENT: I really didn't want to have to take such a drastic action.

SANCHEZ: Is it even fair to suggest that America's new surgeon general is overweight? Late-night comics think it is.

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": Her food pyramid does call for three to five servings of McRibs.

(LAUGHTER)

SANCHEZ: Who's to judge who is fit for a job? You will hear from both sides.

SANCHEZ: They are cheering in the streets because evangelist Tony Alamo is found guilty after women say they were forced to marry him as young as age 8 -- what I learned from my conversation with this guy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This is your only source for news. CNN prime time begins now.

In for Campbell Brown, Rick Sanchez.

SANCHEZ: And hello again, everybody. I'm Rick Sanchez. Those are our big questions tonight, but we start, as always, with our "Mash-Up," a look at the stories that are making an impact right now and the moments that you may have missed. We're watching it all, so you don't have to.

And we're going to begin with this. The president of the United States, did you see what he did today? He shows up at a White House briefing and makes a comment that's completely different from what he had said Wednesday night. Remember that? All right, here's what he said then.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: All right, now, here's what he said today. It almost sounds -- you decide, but it almost sounds an awful like a mea culpa. Here's the crib sheet.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: In my choice of words, I think, I unfortunately, I think, gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge Police Department or Sergeant Crowley specifically. And I could have calibrated those words differently.

I continue to believe, based on what I have heard, that there was an overreaction in pulling Professor Gates out of his home to the station. I also continue to believe, based on what I heard, that Professor Gates probably overreacted as well.

My hope is, is that as a consequence of this event, this ends up being what's called a teachable moment, where all of us, instead of pumping up the volume, spend a little more time listening to each other.

There are some who say that as president I shouldn't have stepped into this at all, because it's a local issue.

I have to tell you that that thing -- that part of it, I disagree with.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: And why does he disagree? Well, this is a fact. This is a story that has detoured his health plan, and you are going to be hearing more about what he said in a just a moment.

This question, though. Was it right for the president to pick sides, period? It depends on who you ask.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": I wasn't at the press conference last night. And I also don't have all the facts, but I think it's fair to say that Obama handled that question -- Oh, what's the word I'm looking for?

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: Stupidly?

(LAUGHTER)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Let's face it. President Obama's black, and I think he's got a chip on his shoulder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He views these kind of incidents out of the glasses of an African-American man, who knows what it's like probably to go through some misunderstood circumstances.

QUESTION: Do you think he had an unfortunate choice of words there?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, that would be up to him to decide. But the fact is, is that it was an unfortunate incident.

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Look, he made a mistake. It took him two days to realize it was a big mistake.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": I don't know why people thought that suddenly because we had a black president, it was going to suddenly make everything OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Well, we're also going to have this reaction, the man in the middle of it all, that sergeant right there. That's Crowley. My colleague Don Lemon has talked to those who were there the night of the arrest. You will hear from Crowley. You will hear from other officers. And you may be surprised, in fact, from what you hear tonight.

Also this. There's amazing pictures that have been coming out of Honduras, ousted President Manuel Zelaya brazenly trying to cross back into the country that just kicked him out about a month ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC News: We have got some intriguing news that is breaking in Honduras. Just moments ago, ousted President Manuel Zelaya defiantly marched up to the immigration office at the Honduran border with Nicaragua today in an attempt to reenter the country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is high drama and a surreal situation if I have ever seen one. The ousted president of Honduras has made his way to the border area between Nicaragua and Honduras. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President of Honduras Manuel Zelaya, who was recently deposed in the bloody coup and today briefly crossed the border back into Honduras, then reversed course and returned to Nicaragua.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: President's Zelaya's effort to reach the border is reckless. It does not contribute to the broader efforts to restore democratic and constitutional order in the Honduras crisis.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: It was bizarre to watch. Zelaya is now saying he hopes to negotiate an understanding that respects the will of -- quote -- "all the people involved."

Now, all week, we have been bringing you powerful reporting from CNN's Ivan Watson. He's embedded with the Marines in Afghanistan. Have you seen some of this stuff? Well, today, he filed a real moving story of sacrifice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In an all-but-forgotten corner of Afghanistan, U.S. Marines have taken residence in a centuries-old mud brick fort they call the castle. They captured the fortress from the Taliban earlier this month, but the insurgents have not given up. On Thursday, they attacked the castle with mortars, mortally wounding this man, Sergeant Ryan Lane.

GUNNERY SGT. CHRISTOPHER KEISLER, U.S. MARINE CORPS: We nicknamed Sergeant Lane the little guy. He's a little guy. He was always talking about his height.

WATSON: Before shipping out on this tour, Lane studied Dari and Pashto to better communicate with the locals.

It's been a bloody summer for Delta Company. Sergeant Lane is the third Marine from the castle to be killed in just two weeks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: What great reporting from CNN's Ivan Watson in Afghanistan.

Worlds away now in Los Angeles, a blazing collision, a good Samaritan, and one hell of a story. Check this out. It's from ABC's "Good Morning America."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you jump into a burning car to save a child? That's exactly what a man did on the freeway outside Los Angeles. You can John McDonald -- look at this -- climbs into an SUV engulfed in flames and carries out a 3-year-old little girl after her grandmother couldn't get her out. McDonald said instincts just took over, but he admitted he did think they were both were going to die.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's kind of embarrassing. The attention is nice, but that's obviously not why anybody does this. And it could have been a lot worse, obviously, for both of us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: That little girl, by the way, called the whole ordeal -- quote -- "pretty scary."

Yeah.

Over in Jackson world now, a crazy story tonight. Crazy? Get this. A few years ago, Michael Jackson, under siege by the media, stops at a Safeway for a snack. He spots a magazine cover that's highlighting great places to live, including the Virginia home of a television anchor named Del Walters, who covered Jackson's Victory tour.

Before you know it, the king of pop had moved his family into Walters' house. Unbelievable report now from our affiliate WUSA.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Michael Jackson had run of the whole house while the Walters stayed in a hotel -- 14 people in all, including Jackson's three children, stayed here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Each had a nanny, had a personal assistant, two chefs, his bodyguards.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And they definitely made themselves at home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he took a liking to Bill's cologne.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jackson stayed in their master bedroom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, he slept in my bed.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you deal with Michael Jackson, they referred to him as the client and the principal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we called him Michael.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we called him Michael.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Michael signed various C.D.s for them. The couple witnessed odd behavior. The windows were taped up, and says Jackson slept during the day and roamed the house at night. We asked if they suspected drug use back then. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Something was helping him sleep during the day. I don't know if it was sleeping pills or drugs or whatever. But something was helping him to just kind of get off the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Wow. A little bizarre, huh? The Walters say they just wanted to give the pop star a moment of peace.

Well, here's another one. It brings us to our punchline, Conan O'Brien poking fun at President Obama. He's kind of hard to miss these days. Check it out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O'BRIEN": Political experts are now saying that President Obama is giving so many interviews and appearing on so many television shows, that he's starting to dilute his own message.

That's what they're saying, yes, which I think is unfair, because I thought Obama was pretty convincing last night on "Ice Road Truckers."

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: He was good. He was very good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Conan O'Brien, everybody.

And that is the "Mash-Up."

All right, I would like to hear what you are talking about. Chat now on the live blog at CNN.com/Campbell. And, by the way, we are going to be checking our Twitter page as well, and I'm going to be telling you throughout the show what's going on there, what you have to say.

What happened in the White House Briefing Room today? It was nothing short of stunning. At least everyone who was there is describing it as such. We heard a little bit of it just moments ago. After the break, here's what I want you to do.

I want you to hear the rest of the president's comments, when he all but freaked out reporters by showing up at the Briefing Room.

We're also going to be hearing from the policeman who arrested Professor Gates. He's a sergeant. There he is. CNN's Don Lemon is in Cambridge. He has talked to Sergeant James Crowley as well today -- all this, and a whole lot more, as this thing heats up on a Friday night.

Stay with us. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: I want to welcome you back. I'm Rick Sanchez, filling in for Campbell Brown.

I want you to listen now to what the president of the United States said today when he all but shocked reporters in the press room with a surprise visit. Now, he originally said that Cambridge Sergeant James Crowley acted stupidly in arresting his friend, Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Then, last night, when asked about it again -- that's last night -- he did not back down, essentially said the same thing. But, today, surprisingly, he did.

What happened?

Now, I want you to listen to this, and then you tell me as you hear it if you think it's an apology. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I wanted to address you guys directly, because over the last day and a half, obviously, there's been all sorts of controversy around the incident that happened in Cambridge with Professor Gates and the police department there.

I actually just had a conversation with Sergeant Jim Crowley, the officer involved. And I have to tell you that, as I said yesterday, my impression of him was that he was a outstanding police officer and a good man, and that was confirmed in the phone conversation. And I told him that.

And I -- because this has been ratcheting up and I obviously helped to contribute ratcheting it up, I want to make clear that in my choice of words, I think, I unfortunately, I think, gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge Police Department or Sergeant Crowley specifically. And I could have calibrated those words differently. And I told this to Sergeant Crowley.

I continue to believe, based on what I have heard, that there was an overreaction in pulling Professor Gates out of his home to the station. I also continue to believe, based on what I heard, that Professor Gates probably overreacted as well.

My sense is you've got two good people in a circumstance in which neither of them were able to resolve the incident in the way that it should have been resolved and the way they would have liked it to be resolved.

The fact that it has garnered so much attention, I think, is a testimony to the fact that these are issues that are still very sensitive here in America. And, you know, so to the extent that my choice of words didn't illuminate, but rather contributed to more media frenzy, I think that was unfortunate.

What I would like to do then is make sure that everybody steps back for a moment, recognizes that these are two decent people, not extrapolate too much from the facts, but, as I said at the press conference, be mindful of the fact that because of our history, because of the difficulties of the past, you know, African-Americans are sensitive to these issues.

And even when you've got a police officer who has a fine track record on racial sensitivity, interactions between police officers and the African-American community can sometimes be fraught with misunderstanding.

My hope is is that as a consequence of this event, this ends up being what's called a teachable moment, where all of us, instead of pumping up the volume, spend a little more time listening to each other and try to focus on how we can generally improve relations between police officers and minority communities, and that instead of flinging accusations, we can all be a little more reflective in terms of what we can do to contribute to more unity.

At the end of the conversation, there was discussion about -- my conversation with Sergeant Crowley, there was a discussion about he and I and Professor Gates having a beer here in the White House. We don't know if that's scheduled yet, but...

(LAUGHTER)

... but we may put that together.

He also did say he wanted to find out if there was a way of getting the press off his lawn.

(LAUGHTER)

I -- I informed him that I can't get the press off my lawn.

(LAUGHTER)

He pointed out that my lawn is bigger than his lawn.

(LAUGHTER)

But if anybody has any connections to the Boston press as well as national press, Sergeant Crowley would be happy for you to stop trampling his grass.

All right?

Thank you guys.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: The president just then talked about his phone call with Sergeant Crowley. He also called Professor Gates this afternoon, we understand, and Gates told CNN he's -- quote -- "pleased the president proposed a meeting with Sergeant Crowley as well at the White House. So, the president might actually share that beer, after all, that he talked about, not with just one guy, but with both men. We will let you know.

All right, we have heard a lot of talk about what happened in Professor Gates' Harvard house. Only two men really know. We're going to hear from them, in their own words, later.

Have you heard about this one? President Obama's pick for surgeon general, there are critics. They're not saying her credentials necessarily disqualify her. They're saying it's her weight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: And I welcome you back. I'm Rick Sanchez, sitting in for Campbell Brown.

Maybe it's because it was drowning out -- no, it was really more like inundating his health care push. Or maybe it's because he just realized that he jumped to a conclusion that he probably shouldn't have reached.

But to watch a president of the United States just suddenly pop up on TV to do what many would describe as a mea culpa was extremely, if nothing else, humanizing.

But he's still left with the fact that he originally took sides in this case. He did. And, by the way, many would argue this was not really an apology.

So, listen. There's plenty of grist for the mill on this.

Bay Buchanan is a Republican strategist who is good enough to join us. Roland Martin is a CNN analyst, political analyst. He and I went around and around on this yesterday. And I think maybe he owes me an apology, but we will leave it at that.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, no I don't. You won't get one.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

SANCHEZ: And here in -- here in New York is Michael Crowley who, by the way, is a senior editor for "New Republic." He's not related to Sergeant Crowley.

Look at Roland.

I got you riled up before this whole thing has even started.

All right, let me start with this, guys. And, hey, any one of you wants to jump, I would like -- maybe you could even just raise your hand and say yes or no. Was this an adequate apology today from the president of the United States?

Bay, start us off.

BAY BUCHANAN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: You know, I'm going to tell you, I think it was, because he said he spoke to the officer.

And I'm absolutely certain that he probably apologized to the officer for any type of demeaning of his reputation whatsoever. And then he publicly walked away from the statement, saying that he misspoke, he really was out of line to have done what he would done.

I don't think the president has to apologize to us. I think he has to apologize to the man that was offended and to that police department, and he did so.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: But he is the one that really escalated this thing, Roland.

BUCHANAN: No question.

SANCHEZ: So, he did have to say something, right?

MARTIN: No. First of all, let me correct your question. You said, was it an adequate apology?

It was not an apology. So, even saying it's adequate is erroneous.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Oh, interesting. So, you don't even think it was an apology?

MARTIN: No, it wasn't. It wasn't, because, first of all, he reiterated his original position in terms of Gates being arrested.

Part of the problem here is that so many people, including Rick -- and I had to correct you on the air.

SANCHEZ: Yes.

MARTIN: ... when people talked about stupidly, he never called the officer stupid.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Hold on.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: I never once said that he called any -- that he called the officer stupid.

MARTIN: Oh, no, no. (CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: He said he acted, the key word, acted there, acted stupidly.

MARTIN: No, no, no. See, but you left again the other half, in arresting Gates after he established proof.

Look, here's the reality that we also are ignoring.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: You're parsing words.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: No, no. I'm not parsing words.

SANCHEZ: Oh, yes, you are.

MARTIN: I'm stating fact. And that's the problem, Rick. If you don't do the second half, don't ignore -- just have the first half.

Here's the other piece.

SANCHEZ: Yes.

MARTIN: If this was a just arrest, why were charges dropped?

SANCHEZ: So, you're still thinking the president shouldn't even have...

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: You're still thinking that the officer was wrong and Gates was completely right?

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: I'm asking you a question. I'm asking you a question.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: If it was a just -- hold on. If it was a just arrest, why were charges dropped?

SANCHEZ: Politics and media.

MARTIN: No, answer the question.

SANCHEZ: I just did, politics and media.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Well, if he was just -- if it was a just arrest, they would not have been dropped. SANCHEZ: Roland, Roland, I got to tell you...

(CROSSTALK)

MICHAEL CROWLEY, SENIOR EDITOR, "THE NEW REPUBLIC": Can I jump in and...

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: All right, go ahead. Go ahead, Crowley.

M. CROWLEY: Well, I think this -- first of all, I would like to say it's about time that Crowley was invited to the White House for beers, all right? No relation. But I have been trying to get my own invite for beers to the White House.

(LAUGHTER)

M. CROWLEY: But I think the argument we're seeing and the emotions this is raising is exactly why Obama felt like he had to take control, because this story was spiraling out and becoming a whole bunch of things that the White House doesn't want the national conversation to be about right now.

And I think he's played it really well. I think he's essentially saying, I went a little too far. I admitted I didn't know all the facts. I judged this guy a little harshly.

But he's also not saying, I think appropriately, it's a total apology, because I think it's pretty clear this officer overreacted, at the end of the day.

SANCHEZ: But we're still left with a president of the United States who it seems at this point -- and maybe even admittedly -- prejudged a case without the facts.

MARTIN: He didn't prejudge. He offered an opinion.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Listen -- no, this is what many officers' opinion is. Listen to this.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: But that's the officers.

SANCHEZ: This is -- this is one of the officers in Cambridge. Let's hear what he has to say, Roland, and then you can perhaps dispute him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE KILLION, PRESIDENT, CAMBRIDGE POLICE OFFICERS ASSOCIATION: As far as the president's comments, the governor's comments, and comments that I did not hear that our mayor made, I think, when the time is right, they should make an apology to us.

I think the president should make an apology to all law enforcement personnel throughout the entire country who took offense to this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARTIN: Oh, please. Get a grip.

BUCHANAN: He's absolutely right.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: He does not know owe all law enforcement an apology. He spoke specifically about the Cambridge police who arrested Gates. That is nonsense.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: You don't think the president of the United States prejudged this case before having the facts?

MARTIN: Rick, the president of the United States gave his opinion in terms of Gates being arrested.

BUCHANAN: Yes.

MARTIN: And he simply said he should not have been arrested after he established he was the owner of the home. That's what he said.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: You know what is key here is, the president really was wrong, Roland. And it's time for you to be half the class that the president had.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Bay, don't talk about class with the Buchanan family now. Come on.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: You know, I will stand on that class any day of the week and take you on.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: He offended the law enforcement officers because he immediately -- he rashly judged.

He said, OK, here's an incident. We will say immediately it's the fault of the policemen. These guys are fighting and trying to protect Americans across the country.

(CROSSTALK)

M. CROWLEY: Bay, if you know the facts, what did you think Gates did to deserve being arrested on his own porch? He got loud with the police officer? That is not an arrestable offense.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Actually, if a police officer decides that...

BUCHANAN: Yes.

SANCHEZ: If a police officer decides that you have conducted disorderly conduct, it's the vaguest, most opaque thing in the world.

M. CROWLEY: It's absurd. That's like...

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: It's unfortunately on the books.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: So, why were the charges dropped?

SANCHEZ: He makes his argument. Either way, when you look at this, we're still looking at a situation where -- what I'm arguing now is because we hear a lot about prejudice. And maybe what this is pointing out is that in some measure we're all a little prejudiced sometimes, aren't we, Roland?

MARTIN: Yes, people have prejudices. People have views based upon how they have grown up.

People also have different interactions. Bay can sit here on television and talk about, oh, how officers protect us. And we do.

But, also, from when where I come from, I also know officers who have beaten us down unnecessarily.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: That's not fair. We all know cases, anecdotes that we could bring in.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: But that doesn't mean...

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Here's the point. Here's the point.

And this, I think, is important. Is racial profiling so rooted in us, as Latinos and as African-Americans, that it can even cause a president to prejudge? I mean, that's actually an interesting question. (CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: I'm sorry. No. Is racial profiling so prevalent that it can cause a president who happens to be black who probably has experienced it who sponsored a bill to confront it?

SANCHEZ: Yes, to do what?

MARTIN: Maybe he's also experienced it, Rick. You have to add that in as well.

(CROSSTALK)

M. CROWLEY: Remember that he was also talking about a friend. He was friends with Gates, which adds an extra layer of complication. He is going to have automatic sympathies. But, listen...

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: It doesn't make it right.

MARTIN: It doesn't make it wrong.

M. CROWLEY: I think it's probably true there's some level of prejudice that everyone has. But this goes back to the race speech that Obama gave during the campaign, that beautiful speech in Philadelphia, where he tried to say that.

SANCHEZ: That was one of the greatest speeches I have ever heard.

M. CROWLEY: I understand that there's a lot of good reason why black Americans have frustrations, but white Americans do, too. And this is the dialogue he promised in the campaign.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Well, you're right.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Bay, take us out. You get the last word.

BUCHANAN: Yes. All right.

The key here is, when a police officer does abuse his power, all of us, white, black, Hispanic...

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Nail him.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: ... say outrage, outrage.

But when the white policeman...

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Very rare.

BUCHANAN: ... does exactly what -- oh, come on, now. That's an outrageous statement.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: When the policeman does what is right, as in this case, it's time for black America to step back and say, you know, this time, that police officer did everything correct, and maybe the black professor really made some mistakes here.

MARTIN: Why were charges dropped.

(CROSSTALK)

M. CROWLEY: Write him a ticket. Don't arrest him. Write him a ticket.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: ... is going to yell at me in my ear again. He's already told me three times we have got to end this thing.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Roland, you and I are still best friends, OK?

MARTIN: Oh, I'm good. But, if the arrest was just, they wouldn't have dropped charges.

SANCHEZ: All right, everybody's entitled.

Thanks, guys. Great stuff.

M. CROWLEY: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Excellent conversation.

Remember a couple of days ago, when we saw the picture of an angry Professor Gates being arrested on his front porch? Now, remember this picture? Keep looking, keep looking, keep looking, keep looking. That guy right there. Remember, there was a black police officer there?

And a lot of you were wondering and Twittering me and saying, I wonder what he said. I wonder what he saw, and I wonder what he's now saying.

Well, guess what? Don Lemon has just talked to him, and he's going to share with us what he had to say about this case when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: President Obama admits he didn't know all the facts surrounding the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates. So the story has, for the most part, been told to us as a he said and he said. The two people who were there, the two people who were principally involved, a renowned professor and a very serious-minded cop.

I want to examine both of their stories for you now. Here's how we have prepared it for you. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY LOUIS GATES JR., HARVARD UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: I came from New York to Boston, and my driver picked me up. We got to my house in Harvard Square, and the door was jammed. The door wouldn't open. And to make a long story short, I asked my driver just sort of to push the door through. I gave him his tip. He left.

SGT. JAMES CROWLEY, CAMBRIDGE POLICE DEPARTMENT (via telephone): When I first encountered the professor, I really wasn't sure exactly what I was dealing with.

GATES: He said I'm investigating a breaking-in and entering charge. I said, this is my house. I'm a Harvard professor. I live here. He said, can you prove it?

I said just a minute. And I turned my back. I walked into the kitchen to get my Harvard I.D. and my Massachusetts driver's license. He followed me without my permission. I gave him the two I.D.s, and I demanded to know his name and his badge number.

CROWLEY: He said, I live here. When I asked for I.D., to verify that because I'd be irresponsible if I didn't, he asked for my I.D. But he walked into his kitchen and did supply me with a Harvard University I.D., not a driver's license that had his stated address.

GATES: He wouldn't say anything. He was just very upset. He was trying to figure out who I was. He was looking at the I.D. He didn't say anything. And I said, why are you not responding to me? Are you not responding to me because you are a white police officer and I'm a black man?

SGT. JAMES CROWLEY, CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS POLICE: I was continuously telling him to calm down during this whole exchange because I really didn't want this either. Nonetheless, that's how far Professor Gates pushed it and provoked and just wouldn't stop.

GATES: And this officer said thank you for accommodating my earlier request. You are under arrest. And he slapped handcuffs on me, and they took me to jail.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: All right, now I want you to take look at this image, all right? You've probably seen it a few times this week. But take a closer look. It's one of the officers who was there when Gates was led away, himself African-American. He is one of two African-American officers, we've learned, who have talked, by the way, to our Don Lemon this afternoon. I want you to take a listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SGT. LEON LESHLEY, CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS POLICE: From what I've seen -- and I was there -- he did nothing wrong. This situation right here was not a racial motivated situation.

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And, you know people, obviously, they're going to pay closer attention to you because you're an African-American man, I'm just being honest. You're supporting this white officer that has been put out there by some that he was, you know, racially profiling Dr. Gates. They're going to pay attention to you.

LESHLEY: I hope they would. They called him -- I heard one of the comments, a rogue cop. There's nothing rogue about him. He was doing his job.

KELLY KING, CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS POLICE: There has been a tremendous rush to judgment. And I think the thing to be learned first and foremost from this is to look at all of the evidence. To consider all, to weigh all. I think Professor Gates has done a very good job of throwing up a very effective smokescreen, calling race into this. It had nothing to do with it.

LEMON: And the president?

KING: It's unfortunate. I supported him. I voted for him. I will not again.

LEMON: What do you want people around the country to know, who may have already made up their mind about Sergeant Jim Crowley?

KING: Keep their minds open. And realize that we would not support someone that we felt wronged someone else. We took this job to do the right thing. We all took this job to do the right thing. We would not support anyone in blue doing the wrong thing.

LEMON: I know you can't respond. You can't talk. You can --

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: That's good stuff. Don lemon joining us now live. You know what is interesting about this case as we watch it, in the past when you and I have covered these kind of cases, we're lucky if we can get the cop who's accused, we're lucky if we can get his attorney to talk to us. It's impossible to get the cop to talk to us and usually his peers don't come forward like this.

So there is something extraordinary about this case where they're all standing shoulder to shoulder and the officer himself is out there visibly talking to the media. That does count for something, doesn't it?

LEMON: It does. You know, I was going to say, what do you say after that? I mean, do you and I really need to have a conversation that those words are so powerful, especially coming from two African- American officers. The first gentleman you saw there, Leon Leshley, 26-year veteran of this department. The young lady that you saw there, Miss King, Kelly King, she is an 11-year veteran of the department. So, she's been there for a long time. Nine years, I should say. She's been at the department for a long time.

But, yes, it's tough. And, you know, it was tough to get those guys and girls or, you know, men and women, to talk. I had to earn their confidence. I had to talk to them, you know, tell them I'm going to be fair. I'm going to listen to your side.

And they said to me, you know what, Don, we've heard a lot about what Professor Gates had to say. We've heard a lot about him. But we want our story out.

And as you heard, Rick, they said we would not be supporting someone who we think would harm someone, and they said that Sergeant Crowley would never do that. And, by the way, I have to say this, Sergeant Crowley was handpicked by a former African-American police commissioner here who is now retired, to teach classes on how not to racial -- racially profile suspects and a lot of Hispanic people.

SANCHEZ: And he's been -- yes, and he's been --

LEMON: So, you know, it's tough. And I have to tell you, I did speak with the attorney, Ogletree, tonight. And he said that he is happy the president intervened, and, again, I e-mailed Professor Gates and he says he's happy and they all want to work this out.

SANCHEZ: It's amazing he's been teaching the class for five years. There's something about a story like this. I think we all get so tuned in on it. I think in the end it will probably make us all a little bit better if it really opens up a discussion. Don Lemon has been all over this thing.

LEMON: It's good. Good will come out of this, Rick. Good will come out of this.

SANCHEZ: You know, I think so. I think so. All right. Thanks a lot, my friend.

We're getting some disturbing images out of Iran. You're not going to believe this. But this time, it's not from political evil.

Look at this -- look at that picture. It's a deadly jetliner crash and the sad coincidence that comes with it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Prominent evangelist Tony Alamo guilty of sex charges in a big way. That's the guy right there. The jury in Arkansas today convicted him on ten counts of transporting minors across state lines for sexual purposes.

Alamo, who calls himself a minister, claims he has a biblical right to cohabitate with any girl who has begun menstruating, whatever her age. Even 8, he once told me.

Oh men, I talked to this guy a while back. Listen to what he said. Listen to what he calls me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: You told "The Associated Press" that you're not guilty, but then you went on to say that according to you the age of consent is puberty. Puberty.

TONY ALAMO, EVANGELIST (via telephone): Yes, Rick.

SANCHEZ: What do you mean by that?

ALAMO: It's not according to me. That's according to bible. That means when a woman is able to conceive and have a child, she is an adult and she could be married. But we don't do that at our church, we never have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Well, guess what, he does do that. Tony Alamo in 2008, as of today, though, he has been convicted of doing just what he told me he didn't do. Ten counts, each one carries a maximum sentence of ten years in prison.

One woman stood in there in front of the judge and said when I was 8 years old, I was forced to marry him. He's 74 years old. Yuck.

All right. A look at some of the must-see stories of the day, and here's Erica Hill to bring them to you.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's nice to see, my friend, oh, in a little while.

SANCHEZ: Always good to see you.

HILL: We begin in Iran with a second deadly plane crash in just over two weeks. At least 17 people killed today when a plane carrying 150 passengers skidded off a runway and burst into flames. It happened in a northeastern city of Mashad. One hundred sixty-eight passengers aboard a Caspian Airlines flight were killed when that plane went down on July 15th.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano vowing to hunt down the killers of a U.S. border patrol agent. Robert Rosas' body was discovered by the border fence near San Diego last night. He had been shot several times.

Today, authorities say it's actually likely than more than one person was involved in the killing and one of them may have been injured as well. Rosas is the ninth border patrol agent killed on duty since 2006.

And President Obama will soon perform one of the most solemn duties a president faces, awarding the Medal of Honor to the family of a soldier killed in combat. The parents of 33-year-old Army Staff Sergeant Jared Monti to receive the medal at a White House ceremony on September 17th.

The White House says in 2006, Monti, a native of Raynham, Massachusetts, sacrificed his own life in Afghanistan to save another wounded soldier.

SANCHEZ: Some assignments are too tough, huh? Unbelievable. Thanks so much.

HILL: Thanks, Rick.

SANCHEZ: Appreciate it. Always good to see you.

Here's a question that I've never thought I'd be asking, but lots of others are asking it. Is the woman nominated to be the surgeon general of the United States too big to do the job?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: This is a bit of jaw-dropper. President Obama's nominee for surgeon general is cranking up the heat over the problem of fat Americans, and not just because obesity has been called the nation's number one health crisis. Oh, no, this is all about her, or at least other people's take on her. Take a listen to some of the chatter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": Anyway, Dr. Regina M. Benjamin has been picked as our new surgeon general, but critics are saying the fact that she's slightly overweight sends the wrong message.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's cute.

GOLDBERG: Now, you do remember C. Everett Koop? He was also our surgeon general. This is not a skinny man.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. Absolutely.

GOLDBERG: But no one mentioned that he had a little waistline.

JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": What about that beard could get caught in there --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": Did you see the announcement? Here, we have it right here. Take a look. NARRATOR: President Obama is being criticized by those who say his pick for surgeon general is overweight. The president is ignoring the controversy, however, and instead focusing his energies on getting congressional approval for his new drug czar.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: And joining me now to talk about this is Melissa Johnson, who is director -- was the director, I should say, of the President's Council on Physical Fitness in the Bush administration. She believes weight should not be a factor in the selection of a surgeon general. And Meme Roth is here with us. She's the president of the group National Action Against Obesity. She said the Obama administration made a mistake by hiring Regina Benjamin.

Is that a fair argument to make, Meme, I mean, given the fact that we really don't know whether she's fit or not? All we're looking at is somebody who is perhaps genetically predisposed to be a little bigger than the rest of us.

MEME ROTH, PRES., NATIONAL ACTION AGAINST OBESITY: Well, genetics does not explain obesity. Actually, it's mostly nine times out of 10 it's the result of lifestyle choices. I'm sure that you're aware of that. And it's been a big blunder on behalf of the Obama administration. If it simply checked with the surgeon general's office, they would know there actually is a weight requirement before you can even apply to work in the surgeon general's office. So, it's really unfortunate.

SANCHEZ: Melissa, isn't Meme talking like one of these skinny people who can probably eat all day long and never gain a pound, and then she looks at somebody like me who probably is a little bit barrel-chested, I'll admit, and says, you know what, you're being irresponsible?

MELISSA JOHNSON, FMR. EXEC. DIR., PRES. COUNCIL ON FITNESS: Well, actually weight issues --

SANCHEZ: Did I (INAUDIBLE) properly, by the way?

JOHNSON: Well, actually, weight should just be one issue. I think we need to look at the whole picture of her qualifications, her background, her experience. I mean, weight is important. I mean, we are facing an epidemic in our country. Two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese. But in terms of the office of the surgeon general --

SANCHEZ: Well, shouldn't be -- but my argument is, and I think what I want you, guys, to focus on is, should this even be talked about at all? I mean, no, seriously.

ROTH: Rick, how can it not be? The number one health crisis --

SANCHEZ: Because it wasn't talked about with C. Everett Koop.

ROTH: It should have been. But we have to look at the now. Right now, we're faced with one of the biggest public health crises of our time, which is the twin crises of diabetes and obesity. We have a prospective surgeon general and you absolutely must question her ability to make --

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: But what a coincidence, though, when a man -- what a coincidence --

ROTH: And she does -- she has no track record.

SANCHEZ: But let's be fair. What a coincidence, when a man is big, oh, he's just -- he's proper.

ROTH: Oh, we would be saying --

SANCHEZ: He's the right guy.

ROTH: No, no. No.

SANCHEZ: You know what? He looks stately. He looks grandfatherly. When a woman maybe is a little big, oh, well, forget it, she can't handle the job.

ROTH: No, this isn't --

JOHNSON: No, I think this is -- I think this is gender neutral.

SANCHEZ: You do?

JOHNSON: I really don't think that this is an issue of male versus female. No.

ROTH: No.

JOHNSON: I really don't. But I really do think we need to focus on her qualifications.

SANCHEZ: You know, I've got to tell you guys -- I've got to tell you -- I'm sorry I interrupted you. Finish that, Melissa.

JOHNSON: I was just saying I really think we need to look at the whole picture of her qualifications and her background. She's an M.D. She's an MBA.

SANCHEZ: Well, that's true.

JOHNSON: She's worked in a small town in Alabama.

SANCHEZ: But everybody knows that. Let me tell you --

ROTH: Well, unfortunately, she has no professional track record with reducing obesity or diabetes in her community or in the state of Alabama.

SANCHEZ: That's true. That's true. ROTH: We know she has no professional track record and no personal track record. And you look at the state of Alabama -- and I'd like to say --

SANCHEZ: And maybe that's a fair argument to be mentioned against her.

But let me tell you about my old friend, Henry Maldonado. Henry Maldonado has a kid who moved in to our neighborhood in Hialeah when I was a little kid. He was chubby, he was big. Everybody assumed that he was slower than everybody in the block.

It turned out that Henry Maldonado, that big kid who was bigger than all of us, some even called him fat, was faster, could jump higher and had more endurance than every single one of us. But we looked at him and assumed he was something but it turned out he wasn't.

JOHNSON: Right. Rick, I think that's a fabulous point because a lot of people who are overweight, we don't know how fit they are. We need to look at the levels of physical activity. We need to look at metabolic health, cholesterol levels, glucose levels.

ROTH: OK. She's gone ahead --

SANCHEZ: All right.

ROTH: She's gone ahead and made jokes that the reason she's overweight is because her patients pay her in food and she likes fried food. This is not an innate problem. This is something due to lifestyle choices.

SANCHEZ: OK. That's a good point.

ROTH: This is the surgeon general. This is one of the biggest health crises that we're facing. We're talking about $700 billion in unnecessary medical costs. We need to drive down those costs in health care.

SANCHEZ: Got it.

ROTH: We've got to do something -- we've got to have a surgeon general who can demonstrate decent lifestyle choices.

SANCHEZ: Point well made, Meme. Touche. We got it.

JOHNSON: I have to say I actually agree with Meme. I agree with Meme on that wholeheartedly.

SANCHEZ: But we're out of time. Melissa --

JOHNSON: But anyway -- but the office of the surgeon general will focus -- always has focused on prevention and healthy lifestyle.

SANCHEZ: And I appreciate both of you and your points. And this was a really good conversation, I'm so glad we had it. My thanks to both of you.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: I want you to meet now a man who's challenging inner city kids to dream big. He's a Hollywood director who is giving youngsters a shot at big time filmmaking. You're going to hear from the maker of "Training Day," appropriate for the segment, when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: There are no doubt a million excuses for failure, and you've probably heard just about every single one of them. So what happens when somebody comes along and tries to work with kids who, by the way, kids who really could have legitimate excuses, maybe more than you and me. These are kids from the projects that we're talking about. The man you're about to meet gave them a camera, and then gave them a task and then told them, tell a story. And whatever you do, don't quit. Check this out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTOINE FUQUA, FILMMAKER: This is your camera. But no more excuses. Go make your movie.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.

FUQUA: All right? You got a camera. You got film?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

FUQUA: Video? And you got video.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. Thanks a lot.

FUQUA: What else you need? Congratulations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Joining us now is film director Antoine Fuqua who directed the award-winning "Training Day" among other outstanding movies. So here you are, a guy who's already been given -- bestowed with this -- and cherished with all these awards and being told -- and you can just continue to build yourself, but instead, you decided to do what, go back to the projects, find kids and teach them what you know?

FUQUA: Yes. I wanted to give them a chance to, you know, take their destiny into their own hands and make a film and learn.

SANCHEZ: But that's so selfless. That's, you know -- I mean, what you're doing is a wonderful thing because it's selfless and we don't see a lot of that in our society these days.

FUQUA: Yes. Well, you know, when I go and make a movie, the worst thing to do is to leave and not leave anything behind that gives them a chance or gives them a tool to, you know, continue on with everything they experienced in the filmmaking process.

SANCHEZ: Well, you're giving them a tool. You're giving them a task. You're giving them a job. You're giving them a tool.

FUQUA: Right.

SANCHEZ: That's a great way to start. I don't think there's anything else you could do better. But then on top of that you're teaching them that this is the real deal. You can't quit.

I mean, that's your big pitch, is don't quit, don't quit, don't quit. That really is not just about the project, right? It's about life.

FUQUA: This is about life. You can't give up. You have to keep going. You know, like Einstein said, you got to stay on the bike and keep pedaling. You know, you can't give up. No matter what happens, you know, you got to keep living. And if you have a specific task, you can achieve it if you keep moving forward, if you keep going at it. And that's what I try to teach these kids.

SANCHEZ: Yes. It's like an idle mind is the devil's workshop which we've all heard so many times.

FUQUA: Exactly.

SANCHEZ: A lot of folks say, look, don't retire whatever you do.

Here's another clip from what you were doing. We want to take a look at this. Let's see it now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm doing movies. I'm doing music. I'm going to school.

Within, like, two years I want to be out of here. I should have my bachelor's degree already, so if that's the first way I can get out of here, then that would be my way out. I want to get out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: The camera makes you cool, but there may be a lot of other people out there who want to do something like you. What would you say to them in ten seconds that we got left?

FUQUA: What would I say to them if they want to do something else other than filmmaking?

SANCHEZ: Yes. Other people may want to help kids the way you do.

FUQUA: Well, you just got to -- you got to roll up your sleeves and get out there with the kids and find out what their interests are and put it in front of them and help them achieve their goal. You can't just talk about it. You got to get out there and do something. SANCHEZ: I'll tell you what, man. You're a hell of a guy. Well done. Bravo.

FUQUA: Thank you. Thank you, Rick.

SANCHEZ: Well done.

FUQUA: Thank you, sir.

SANCHEZ: I salute you.

FUQUA: Thank you, sir.

SANCHEZ: That's one snapshots of life in black America but there are so many more. Across the country people are talking about CNN's "Black in America 2." And, oh, so many are watching. If you missed even a minute of this remarkable documentary, you can see it again in its entirety.

This weekend, we'll play the whole darn thing for you. CNN presents "Black in America 2," airing Saturday and Sunday nights at 8:00 Eastern.

That's it for us. Campbell will be back on Monday.

I'm Rick Sanchez. Here is the King.