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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Did Powerful Anesthetic Kill Michael Jackson?; Sarah Palin Officially Steps Down

Aired July 27, 2009 - 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: Tonight: a dramatic turn in the investigation of Michael Jackson's death.

At the center of this breaking story, Dr. Conrad Murray. Tonight, for the first time, he is being directly connected to the drug that may have killed Michael Jackson. We know Murray was in Jackson's house. We know he was on the scene when the 911 call was made. We know his office in Texas was raided. And, tonight, we know a lot more.

Randi Kaye joins us with the details -- Randi.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the headline tonight: A source close to Michael Jackson's family with knowledge of the investigation tells CNN that Jackson's personal physician administered the powerful drug that investigators believe killed him.

The drug is known by the brand name Diprivan. It's also known as propofol. And we're told Jackson's doctor gave it to him within 24 hours of his death.

This is incredibly significant, because Conrad Murray's lawyer has never commented on that drug. All the lawyer has told us in the past was -- quote -- "Dr. Conrad Murray did not prescribe or administer anything that should have killed Michael Jackson."

So, this, Anderson, is the very first time Dr. Murray has been connected to propofol. We know he was Jackson's home the day he suffered cardiac arrest. That was June 25. And his lawyer has said he gave him CPR and tried to revive him.

COOPER: There were -- there were some reports that propofol was found at Jackson's home, as well.

KAYE: Absolutely, numerous reports, in fact, of propofol at his home. And his sister LaToya even said she saw an I.V. stand in his bedroom. Propofol, we know, is delivered through an I.V. drip.

This all really put investigators on alert, because the drug is only supposed to be used in a hospital setting, as you know. It's a very powerful sedative used during surgeries. But Jackson apparently liked it. A nurse who once worked for him had told 360 he begged her for the drug to help him sleep.

So, if this drug was inside Jackson's home and if Dr. Conrad Murray provided it, this could mean big trouble. Dr. Murray is already at the center of a manslaughter investigation related to Jackson's death.

And when I asked Dr. Murray's office about this, I was told -- quote -- "We will not be responding to rumors, innuendo or unnamed sources."

COOPER: So, wasn't Dr. Murray supposed to meet with investigators again last week?

KAYE: He was. Last we had heard, a meeting was tentatively scheduled for his lawyer to meet with investigators first. That was supposed to happen last Friday, but never panned out. This, by the way, would be the doctor's third meeting with authorities.

He was questioned twice, as you know, after Jackson died and his car was seized and examined. It is curious that, last week, they announced they wanted to speak to him again, then, suddenly, out of nowhere, raided his clinic and his storage facility in Houston.

And now the third meeting has yet to be scheduled. Dr. Murray's lawyer's office told me tonight he is -- quote -- "understandably concerned" and feels he is being made the scapegoat here -- Anderson.

COOPER: You mentioned the storage facility. You some got new information also about a couple of visitors to that facility during what appears to have been Jackson's final hours.

What do you know?

KAYE: Yes. This really raises questions about the timeline of Michael Jackson's death.

We know, from the 911 tapes, that the call for an ambulance came in at about 12:20 in the afternoon, Los Angeles time. But now we have also learned two unidentified women were hauling items away from Dr. Conrad Murray's rented storage unit in Houston hours earlier, hours earlier.

The woman who runs the storage place said two women came by. She said they appeared to be employees of Dr. Murray's. And she said they put what she called piles of paper in small boxes. She said, they went in and out about six times or so. It took them about half-an- hour, she said.

And then she said Dr. Murray never came, but she says her record book shows the women came by at 11:22 a.m. Houston time, which, if you do the math, is 9:22 a.m. Los Angeles time. That is three hours before the 911 call was placed for Michael Jackson. What were these women doing there? Who sent them? We don't know. Could this all be a coincidence? Sure.

Or is it possible Jackson was in trouble, maybe even not even breathing anymore, long before that 911 call was made? His lawyer isn't commenting. But it is curious simply because it took place the day Michael Jackson died and within hours of his death being reported all at the same storage facility, Anderson, that, just last week, was suddenly raided by investigators looking for evidence of manslaughter. COOPER: It's fascinating stuff.

Randi, appreciate it.

Where will this new development take the investigation? That's the question tonight.

Let's dig deeper with legal analysts Lisa Bloom and Jeffrey Toobin.

Jeffrey, what do you think?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: I think it is potentially significant. But I think that we should have a lot of caution about this first -- this report.

First of all, we don't know how Michael Jackson died. We don't know what the cause of death is. The autopsy report hasn't come out yet. Also, it's important to remember Diprivan is not an illegal drug. It's not a controlled substance. So, the -- the fact that he was giving it to him, it might not have been medicated indicate, but there's nothing, per se, wrong with it.

Also, who else was involved in giving him this drug? And was Michael Jackson himself involved with giving him this drug? I just think the -- the inclination to make him a scapegoat is strong here. And we have to be careful to say that it is not clear that a crime took place, much less that -- that Dr. Murray committed one.

COOPER: No doubt to be careful.

Lisa, if, though, this doctor Michael Jackson Diprivan, or propofol, what does that mean? I mean, it -- it is not illegal. You talk to any other doctor, who says this is completely inappropriate to be given this drug outside a hospital setting.

LISA BLOOM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, there are certain guidelines, and there are written instructions on the packaging or propofol that say that a patient must be continuously monitored. There must be artificial ventilation available, in the event that the patient stops breathing.

And it is not clear whether any of this happened. And I think, if Dr. Murray did administer propofol outside of a hospital, without the proper safety precautions, as required by the manufacturer, as required -- required by guidelines, I think he is in trouble and probably looking at manslaughter charges.

COOPER: Do you agree with that?

TOOBIN: I think that's -- I'm not ready to go that far.

I think malpractice is certainly a possibility, civil liability. It could be some sort of professional conduct, medical disciplinary. But a -- the criminal offense of manslaughter, that doesn't seem -- I -- the -- let's find out how Michael Jackson died, what killed him, before we talk about who killed him.

COOPER: We're going to talk more with Jeffrey and Lisa in just a moment. Stay with us. We're going to continue the conversation.

Also, in the meantime, join the live chat happening right now at AC360.com. Let us know what you think of the breaking news.

Also ahead tonight, much more on the man at the center of this investigation right now, Dr. Conrad Murray. Sure, there will others that are being investigated, but, clearly, right now, he appears to be front and center. What did he do before he became Michael Jackson's personal physician? You might be surprised.

Plus, the newly released 911 tape that shines new light on the story dividing the nation, the arrest of prominent Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. Is race even mentioned on the tape? We will play for your -- for you.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just have an elder woman standing here, and she had noticed two gentlemen trying to get in a house at that number, 17 Ware Street, and they kind of had to barge in. And they broke the screen door. And they finally got in.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

COOPER: We will play you more of the tape that led police to the house.

And Sarah Palin stepping down officially as Alaska's governor, and taking a couple of parting shots at one of her favorite targets. You will hear for yourself -- ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: The breaking news tonight: For the first time, Michael Jackson's personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, is being connected to the drug that may have killed the pop star.

A source close to the Jackson family, someone familiar with the investigation, tells CNN that Dr. Murray gave Jackson the powerful anesthetic that authorities believe killed him last month.

Joining me again, legal analysts Lisa Bloom and Jeffrey Toobin.

So, Jeffrey, Lisa says possible manslaughter. You think that is premature?

TOOBIN: Well, I certainly think it is possible that there's manslaughter, but...

COOPER: What -- what is the difference between manslaughter -- I mean, why -- what would qualify for manslaughter?

TOOBIN: Well, the definition -- the legal definition of manslaughter is unintentional homicide, killing someone unintentionally.

And, you know, prosecutors have an enormous amount of discretion here. Yes, that could be malpractice that -- that goes terribly wrong. And it could be professional misconduct. But good-faith medical mistakes tend not to be prosecuted as manslaughter. They tend to lead to civil judgments. They tend to lead to, you know, people losing their medical license.

COOPER: Good-faith medical mistakes.

TOOBIN: Correct.

COOPER: Is -- is this -- would this be good faith, if a doctor is -- I mean, there is off-label use of medicine, but -- but, you know, intravenous use of this drug in someone's home by -- by someone who is not an anesthesiologist.

TOOBIN: You would have to know so much more. Has he taken it before? Have other doctors prescribed it? Or were other doctors involved?

You know, Dr. Murray was only involved in Michael Jackson's life, as I understand it, for about two months.

BLOOM: Anderson...

TOOBIN: Michael Jackson had an enormous history with doctors.

And the idea that Murray invented the idea of using this, I think, is -- is implausible.

COOPER: Clearly, we know -- we know from the nurse, Lisa, that Michael Jackson was at least aware of the drug Diprivan before.

BLOOM: And, look, every doctor who has commented on propofol has said it would be outrageous to administer this to Michael Jackson simply for pain medication or to help him sleep.

Propofol is a very heavy-duty anesthetic that is used to knock people out for surgery. And it has to be in a hospital setting, because it is known to lower heart -- heart pressure, blood pressure, and, occasionally, to stop breathing. So, it would clearly be negligent, even if Michael Jackson was begging for it -- and he probably was -- to be administering it in a home, without all of the safety precautions.

And manslaughter here in California is a dangerous act that causes the death of another person. Well, what could be more obviously dangerous, foreseeably dangerous than giving this kind of drug by a doctor, who should know better, as apparently all doctors do, than to administer it in a private home, without those safety precautions that are required right there on the label of the medication?

COOPER: Would there be pressure to go for -- I mean, in a case like this, to go for a manslaughter? TOOBIN: Well, this is always the issue with celebrity cases.

You -- you try to treat them like everyone else, but prosecutors have a hard time doing this. And this is, of course, in Los Angeles County, O.J. Simpson, Robert Blake.

COOPER: But, also...

TOOBIN: These -- these are cases that are sometimes brought that maybe -- that -- that are treated differently.

COOPER: Given, though, the -- the chain-of-evidence problems which could be brought up at a trial -- I mean, basically, police went to the house and then left, and it wasn't -- they didn't collect evidence until the next day, after family -- Jackson family members had been through the house, a moving truck had been at the house.

TOOBIN: And...

COOPER: Who knows had been in the house.

TOOBIN: And -- and, remember, this is -- if you try to put Dr. Murray on trial, the defense will be to put Michael Jackson on trial, to point out his history of drug use, and his history of getting doctors to help him out, so -- in ways that are perhaps inappropriate.

So, the idea that Murray is going to be made the scapegoat for all of this, even if he acted irresponsibly, even if he committed malpractice, the idea that you are trying to put him in prison, I think, is -- is a big step, based on the evidence we know.

COOPER: And, Lisa...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: ... all they're going to -- and, to do that, it is not hard. I mean, we -- we tracked down an anesthesiologist who was on tour with Michael Jackson. We don't know what -- what drugs, if any, he gave Michael Jackson. But the very fact that Michael Jackson had a traveling anesthesiologist with him on tour sort of raises a lot of questions.

BLOOM: Well, look, every medical professional has an independent obligation to follow the law. It doesn't matter what the patient begs for. Doctors are supposed to be more than glorified drug dealers.

And California, in particular, has gotten increasingly...

COOPER: We are talking about L.A., Lisa.

(LAUGHTER)

BLOOM: ... aggressive about going after medical professionals, like in the Anna Nicole case, giving drugs to a known addict, when it's contraindicated.

TOOBIN: Well, and -- and, in the Anna Nicole case, it was not a manslaughter that ultimately was -- you...

BLOOM: No, because they couldn't connect it. Here, I think the connection will be revealed.

COOPER: We're going to have to leave it there.

Lisa Bloom, Jeffrey Toobin, thanks.

A lot of will be revealed toward the end of this week, when we believe the toxicology report will be released.

Up next: Dr. Conrad Murray is the one person who may know what really happened in the final moments of Michael Jackson's life. But what do we know about him? We're going to take an "Up Close" look at the man who became Jackson's private physician.

Also ahead, police releasing the 911 call that started the whole mess with Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates. Did the caller mention race? Hear for yourself -- coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: As we told you before the break, CNN has learned the authorities believe Jackson's personal physician gave him a powerful anesthetic that may have killed him.

We're getting this information from a source close to the family and with knowledge of the investigation. This is a photo of Jackson's physician, Dr. Conrad Murray. His Houston office was raided last week. We told you that. Law enforcement officers with search warrants were looking for evidence that may lead to a manslaughter charge against him.

With Dr. Conrad Murray now known to be at the center of the investigation, we thought we should tell you what we know about him.

Erica Hill takes us "Up Close."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dr. Conrad Murray was one of the last people to see Michael Jackson alive, a man the pop star insisted on having by his side, telling concert promoter AEG Live only Dr. Murray would do for his upcoming London shows.

RANDY PHILLIPS, PRESIDENT & CEO, AEG LIVE: "See, but you don't understand. My body is the machine that fuels this whole business. OK? I need that kind of attention."

And you know what? When Michael Jackson says that to you, and there is this much at stake, you don't argue.

HILL: Murray became Jackson's personal physician in May, and explained his leave to current patients as a -- quote -- "once-in-a- lifetime opportunity," an opportunity with a salary of $150,000 a month, plus travel, hotel and per diem expenses. But how did he get to the singer's side in the first place? The two met in Las Vegas in 2006, when Dr. Murray treated one of Jackson's children, on the recommendation of a Jackson bodyguard.

Murray's attorney told CNN's Larry King their relationship went beyond a doctor and patient.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LARRY KING LIVE")

EDWARD CHERNOFF, ATTORNEY FOR DR. CONRAD MURRAY: Let me clear up something. He -- make sure we understand. Dr. Murray was not a doctor first. He was a -- he was a friend first. They were close personal friends. And Michael Jackson really treated him as -- as -- as a -- as family.

HILL: Conrad Murray is 56. He graduated from Meharry Medical College in Nashville and spent his internship and residency years in California. He operates clinics in both Nevada and Texas. Until signing on with Jackson, most of his time was spent in Las Vegas.

In a statement, his attorney said the cost to maintain Murray's Texas clinic -- quote -- "exceeds any collection." And documents obtained by CNN show his Nevada practice also suffered financially, with some $400,000 in judgments or debt over the last couple of years.

Since his famous client's death, Murray has not spoken publicly, except through his lawyer, though everyone is waiting to hear what the man who found Michael Jackson unconscious has to say.

Erica Hill, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: A lot of questions tonight about the doctor and the drug he allegedly gave Jackson, the drug which may have stopped his heart.

Joining me now, Dr. Michael Rodriguez, professor at the UCLA Department of Family Medicine. Also with us, addiction specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky.

Dr. Rodriguez, so, how serious of a doctoring is propofol?

DR. MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, UCLA DEPARTMENT OF FAMILY MEDICINE: Propofol is a very serious, very potent sedative. It is used primarily in the operating room, as well as intensive care unit, and in a few select other monitored circumstances.

It's very serious. And the reason is because it can make you stop breathing. And, as we could see, it makes people die as well.

COOPER: So, if -- if a patient says, "I would like to take it to help me sleep" -- although we know it doesn't help somebody sleep; it actually just sort of puts them under -- if they said they wanted this done in their own home by someone who is not a trained anesthesiologist, does that make sense to you?

RODRIGUEZ: Insomnia is a very common problem. Many people suffer it -- from it.

And this medication, it's not a medication -- it's not a medication that is commonly used for insomnia. There's many different ways to treat it. It wouldn't make sense for most physicians, for any physician, to use this in someone's home.

COOPER: Dr. Drew, have you ever heard of a situation where this drug was administered outside of a medical facility in someone's home?

DR. DREW PINSKY, AUTHOR, "CRACKED: PUTTING BROKEN LIVES TOGETHER AGAIN": I have never heard of such a thing, A.

B, I have seen propofol addiction before in anesthesiologists and physicians. That's the only time I have seen that, because they are the only ones who are aware of this medication. It doesn't exist outside of a hospital. It is a dangerous medicine that requires very careful -- careful monitoring.

And, Anderson, there just isn't a protocol for the treatment of insomnia on this planet that includes propofol, A. And, B, it is specifically a very serious problem for an addict, because, when it's combined with other things, it is likely to cause breathing problems.

And it's even been associated with very severe cardiac rhythm disturbances. We hear stories about Michael taking other medicines. The combination may have been the thing that really did him in.

COOPER: Are there people who -- I mean, these people who do take it and who get addicted to it who are anesthesiologists, you're talking about, I mean, do they like the feeling it gives them? Does it make them feel high? Or they like, what, a woozy feeling?

PINSKY: Yes. They like to feel high. They also like to feel disconnected.

People that are trauma survivors very often don't like to feel the pain that they walk around in day in and day out. There's also been a report of Michael Jackson having been a pain patient. And he may have sleep problems related to pain, related opiate withdrawal, God knows what. And this may have been a desperate attempt for relief, but not a safe one, and not an appropriate one, and certainly never appropriate for someone with a history of addiction.

COOPER: How delicate, Dr. Rodriguez, is -- is the dosing of this?

RODRIGUEZ: Oh, it's extremely delicate and very dangerous, as was -- as just said. In fact, in some individuals, people can overdose and people can start -- can have significant impact on their ability to breathe.

And, so, it really is something that can only be done under a monitored situation by experienced physicians, primarily anesthesiologists.

COOPER: Dr. Drew, when you heard that Michael Jackson had an anesthesiologist on tour with him back in -- on -- during the HIStory tour, did that make any sense to you?

PINSKY: No. What I thought was, uh-oh, this is a very serious problem.

Look, even an anesthesiologist should not be prescribing this medicine outside of a hospital, and certainly not for insomnia, and certainly not with an addict history. It's really just something that is just, unfortunately, really outlandish.

I'm beginning to formulate a theory that there may have been -- there's a medicine called methadone that pain patients get on all the time these days. And there has been a rash of sudden deaths from that, with very serious cardiac rhythm disturbances. It has been reported with the combo with propofol. And a -- even a cardiologist wouldn't be able to bring a patient back from that.

My just -- myself -- it's pure speculation, but I have a feeling, when we get the toxicology report, you may hear about another medicine called methadone.

COOPER: Dr. Drew, what do you make of -- you know, there had been report that -- that, at one point, Jackson was taking dozens of -- of Xanax. Is that even possible? I mean, I know Xanax is highly...

PINSKY: Yes. Yes.

COOPER: ... can be highly addictive...

PINSKY: Oh, yes.

COOPER: ... but dozens? I took half a Xanax one time after some operation, and, I mean, was knocked out. I couldn't -- you know, it's incredibly strong stuff.

Taking dozens?

PINSKY: Well, Anderson, you are what my patients call a lightweight.

But, that being said...

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Well, I -- believe me...

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Yes, in more ways than one.

PINSKY: That being said, my patients take 10, 12, 15 milligrams of Xanax a day. They take up to -- I have seen up to 100 Vicodin a day. So, addicts build a tolerance and they're able to tolerate a lot.

When they get into trouble is, A, if they stop for a while and then start back up with their customary doses, or, B, combine it with something that it really doesn't belong with, like, in this case, something like propofol. That is where they get into very serious trouble quickly.

COOPER: Unbelievable.

Dr. Rodriguez, good to have you on.

Dr. Pinsky, as well, thank you very much.

Tomorrow night on 360, "Crime and Punishment" and a case that is anything but clear-cut.

Joe Johns reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, this man was accused of killing a man. He stabbed him 61 times. He said it was self-defense, and a jury believed him. Joe Biedermann was acquitted. It began, he says, with an invitation. The victim asked him to come here to his apartment for a late-night drink.

JOSEPH BIEDERMANN, ACQUITTED OF MURDER: I thought he was a nice guy in there. And it seemed like -- you know, he's my neighbor. So, I just didn't think anything that -- you know, that he was the devil.

JOHNS: Biedermann said he had passed out, and, when he woke up, he was terrified, afraid he would be raped and killed.

BIEDERMANN: He didn't just make a pass at me. He had a -- a medieval sword and dagger up to my throat.

JOHNS: For two minutes, he says, they fought to the death, and now he worries why some still don't believe him.

BIEDERMANN: All they hear is, 61 stab wounds, how could that be self-defense?

JOHNS: Anderson, it is one of those cases. The jury did vote unanimously to acquit Joe Biedermann, and, yet, for many, so answers are still unanswered.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Joe Biedermann, did he get away with murder? Sixty-one stab wounds, does that sound like self-defense to you? We will bring you both sides of the explosive case tomorrow night, so you can decide for yourself.

Coming up next on 360: the Harvard professor, the cop, and now the 911 tape. Did race play a factor in the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, in the initial call, even? Was it mentioned in that 911 call? We will play you the tape.

And, later, Sarah Palin's long, strange goodbye -- stepping down from office, the governor taking aim at the media, in a big way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), ALASKA: Don't underestimate the wisdom of the people.

And one other thing for the media. Our new governor has a very nice family alone, so leave his kids alone.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Coming up: Sarah Palin says goodbye to the governor's office, but what is she really saying about her own future? We have the "Raw Politics."

But, first, Erica Hill has a 360 bulletin -- Erica.

HILL: Anderson, high-level talks between U.S. and Chinese officials began in Washington today, President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Tim Geithner all addressing the opening session of the two-day meeting. The talks will cover a range of issues -- among them, the global financial crisis, climate change, nuclear proliferation, and human rights.

One of the most important figures in modern dance is dead at the age of 90. Merce Cunningham choreographed more than 200 works in his career, and received an incredible amount of awards.

A fourth Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee says he will vote against Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. Senator Jeff Sessions joins Senators Jon Kyl, Orrin Hatch, and John Cornyn in the no column. The committee will vote tomorrow.

And "Princeton Review" releasing its annual review of top party schools. Get your pencils ready. Coming in at number five, Ohio University-Athens, number four, also in Athens, but in a different state, the University of Georgia, go dogs. Number three, Ole Miss, the University of Mississippi. Last year's winner, the University of Florida, drops to second place. I'm sure officials are heartbroken.

COOPER: Oh, no.

HILL: Well, the new number-one party school, according to "Princeton Review," is Penn State.

COOPER: Really?

HILL: There you go. I believe it is the alma mater of one of our senior producers, Jill (ph).

COOPER: Oh, really?

HILL: It may explain a few things. I'm just saying.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: All right, Erica and I are, of course, blogging tonight. You can join the live chat happening now at AC360.com. Let us know about some party schools that maybe missed the list.

Sarah Palin -- coming up, her parting words, a parting shot at the media. But is this really goodbye? I don't think so. We have the "Raw Politics" on that.

And the call that sparked the controversy. Hear what happened before police showed up at Harvard Professor Henry Gates' home.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know if they live there and they just had a hard time with their key, but I did notice that they kind of used their shoulder to try to barge in. And they got in. I don't know if they had a key or not, because I couldn't see from my angle. But, you know, when I looked a little closely, that's when I saw...

(END AUDIO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LUCIA WHALEN, CALLED 911 ABOUT HENRY LOUIS GATES HOME: ... I couldn't see from my angle, but when I looked a little closely that's when I saw...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Tonight a new development in the story that is still dividing the nation ten days after it broke. The arrest of distinguished Harvard professor Henry Gates Jr. at his Cambridge home has reignited a bitter debate about racial profiling by police.

The professor and the police officer at the center of the story have two very different takes on what happened after police showed up to investigate a report of a possible home invasion.

Well, tonight some new insight from a new source. The actual 911 tape of the phone call that set the whole story in motion. Police released the tape today.

Tom Foreman has details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you mean, "barged in"? Did they kick the door in?

WHALEN: They were pushing the door in.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the first time we can hear the conversation that started it all. A midday call to police from a Boston area resident, Lucia Whalen, describing two men with suitcases pushing on the door of a house.

WHALEN: I don't know if they live there and they just had a hard time with their key. But I did notice that they kind of used their shoulder to try to barge in. And they got in. I don't know if they had a key or not, because I couldn't see from my angle. But, you know, when I looked a little closely, that's when I saw...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)... white, black or Hispanic?

WHALEN: Um...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are they still in the house?

WHALEN: They are still in the house, I believe. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are they white, black or Hispanic?

WHALEN: Well, there were two larger men. One looked kind of Hispanic, but I'm not really sure. And the other entered, and I didn't see what he looked like at all.

FOREMAN: The operator tells Sergeant James Crowley, patrolling nearby, of a possible break in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Both S-P's are still in the house. Unknown on race. One may be Hispanic male. I'm not sure.

FOREMAN: According to Crowley's report, in front of the house Lucia Whalen tells him two black men with backpacks are involved. Her attorney insists Whalen never spoke to Crowley at the scene and said nothing about black men.

Nonetheless, as Crowley waits for backup, he says he sees a person inside the house and goes to question him. When Crowley learns it is a Harvard professor, he radios headquarters again.

SGT. JAMES CROWLEY, CAMBRIDGE POLICE: I'm up with a gentleman says he resides here. A little uncooperative, but keep the cars coming. Can you also send the Harvard University police this way? I have an I.D. of Henry Louis Gates.

FOREMAN: And that's about it. The calls are notable as much for what you don't hear as what you do. No sharp words, no raised voices, no indication that this routine police call would turn into a national debate on race, police and who, if anyone, went too far -- Anderson.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: All right. Moments ago, a senior White House official confirmed to CNN that Professor Gates and Sergeant Crowley will visit the White House at Thursday at 6 p.m. Eastern. President Obama extended the invitation late last week after Sergeant Crowley suggested it, saying he'd like both men to meet with him over a beer.

To dig deeper now into the 911 tape you just heard. The woman who made the call, Lucia Whalen, has taken a lot of heat since this story broke. Earlier reports said she described the men on Professor Gates' porch as two black men. On the tape released today clearly she says nothing of the sort.

Joining me now is Wendy Murphy, a former prosecutor and spokesman for Ms. Whalen. Also, Boyce Watkins, a finance professor at Syracuse University and author of "What if George Bush Were a Black Man?" And senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin joins us again, as well.

So Wendy, the Cambridge police report said that Ms. Whalen, your client, told Sgt. Crowley on the scene that she observed two black males with backpacks on the porch of Gates' house. You say she didn't talk to Sergeant Crowley on the scene and never said anything about anyone being black. As we just heard, she didn't say anything about that in the 911 call. So what accounts for the police report?

WENDY MURPHY, SPOKESPERSON FOR LUCIA WHALEN: You know, Anderson, that's a question I can't answer. All I can tell you is that when Sergeant Crowley arrived, my client was standing there. She gestured to Sergeant Crowley, "I'm the one who called 911."

He said, "Stay right there," and he walked into the house. That was the entirety of their conversation. So I think you have to ask the Cambridge police where they came up with that quote. But I think they basically agreed at this point she never uttered those words. She never said "black men." She never said the word "black." She never mentioned backpacks. And that's good. Her name has been cleared. The police have helped with that to some extent.

Professor Gates has said he thinks she acted responsibly and did nothing wrong. So she's feeling very good today that people now know she wasn't the racist spark that fueled this fire.

COOPER: Professor Watkins, is there anything that you take away from these tapes?

BOYCE WATKINS, AUTHOR, "WHAT IF GEORGE BUSH WERE A BLACK MAN?": Well, I didn't get the sense that she was trying to do anything other than help out a neighbor and to be a good citizen. She sounds about as innocent as you can sound on this tape.

Now, the issue with the police report, I mean, that's a serious issue. If the police report mentions black men and she says she didn't mention black men, then you have to find out, well, how did the words "black men" get into the police report? And if it turns out that there was police misconduct, that needs to be investigated.

The other day I talked to Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Charles Ogletree. And one of the things that they brought up, and that is race neutral, is the abuse of police power. And we know that that's a serious problem. And so if there was an abuse, I'm hopeful that it will be investigated, because that's a serious problem.

COOPER: What do you make of it?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know...

COOPER: You know Professor Gates.

TOOBIN: We were colleagues at "The New Yorker." I just think, you know, we're trying to slot this into various legal categories.

This was a misunderstanding. Everybody just didn't understand the facts. Everyone acted, I think, understandable, given the circumstances. You know, Skip Gates, he's arrested in his own house for breaking into his own house. No wonder he's upset. Crowley gets yelled at by Skip Gates, apparently. He gets upset.

Now they're working it out and having a beer. Nobody is arrested. Nobody is suing. Nobody is going to jail. This seems like an appropriate resolution of an unfortunate situation but something that's nothing more than that.

COOPER: Wendy, has your client met the professor now?

MURPHY: She has not. All she has -- in terms of contact with him, she's read that he said he thinks she did nothing wrong. She acted as a responsible citizen should.

And that's good. She has not met him. She didn't know him previously. She doesn't live in the area. She has worked in the area for 15 years for Harvard. And she -- you know, she felt terrible, frankly, that it became the explosive racial story that it did. But she's really pleased, in a sense, that things are moving ahead amicably.

COOPER: Did she...

MURPHY: She doesn't want this controversy with her and the police report and the disparity. She doesn't want that to change the fact that things are moving in a good direction.

COOPER: And did she hear anything while standing outside, the interaction between Professor Gates and the officer?

MURPHY: ell, I'll tell you this much. She heard loud yelling, and she told me the only voice she could hear that was loud and that was yelling was Professor Gates.

COOPER: Jeff, you were saying this is just a misunderstanding. I mean, from the get-go, though, Professor Gates said that the tone that Officer Crowley had made the hairs on the back of his head -- on the back of his neck stand up.

TOOBIN: Well, you can understand how, independent of race, the fact that Professor Gates is arrested for breaking into his own home, that would make...

COOPER: But at that point, they were just discuss -- they were -- the arrest had not occurred at that point. TOOBIN: But the interaction was such that it was leading that way. The idea of being investigated, even, for breaking into your own home, it would piss most people off. And it undoubtedly pissed him off. He probably reacted in a way that was not as temperate as it should have been. But whether that should have led to an arrest, I don't know.

What was Crowley's ultimate motivation? What was in his head? I don't know that either. I don't think there's any way to know at this point. But the fact is nobody is -- the resolution, the only person here who really acted inappropriately was Barack Obama sounding off about something that he really just didn't know the facts.

COOPER: You don't -- Professor -- just go ahead, Professor.

WATKINS: Well, what I was saying is that there's a bigger point here. I mean, you know, having a beer is great. And I'm sure after all the stress of the situation, a beer sounds like a good idea. Maybe even some vodka. But the truth is that beer isn't going to solve this problem.

What we have to do is look at the fact that, when things like this happen, when you look at the O.J. trial, when you go back to Rodney King, you go back to Hurricane Katrina and you see that rage, you don't necessarily need to just look at the situation. You need to look at the source of the rage.

Racism is a virus that has infected our political body, our national body. And that virus must be attacked with precision and determination. And if we have a beer every time this kind of thing happens, then we're going to continue to have the same problem for the next 100 years.

TOOBIN: Wait a second. That is a completely unfair analogy. There is a terrible history of official racism in this country. Whether it's Rodney King or driving while black. But to tie this event to those -- to those when Crowley may have done absolutely nothing wrong, I think that's just an unfair comparison.

MURPHY: Can I be the voice of reason between you guys? Two things can both be true. Two things can both be true. Professor Gates felt discriminated against, and Sergeant Crowley was doing no discrimination. Those things can both be true.

And I think, you know, if we do move forward, it could -- it could possibly be along the lines of each of them trying to understand the other one's state of mind better. But I also want to add at the end here that, if we should point out anyone who acted truly responsibly here, it was my client. You listen to her on that tape. Boy, she says everything right.

COOPER: Professor -- Professor Watkins, I want to give you -- I want to give you the final thought.

WATKINS: Well, look, here's the deal. I don't know if Crowley is racist or not. I don't -- I honestly don't believe that he was. I don't know what was going through Skip Gates' mind when this happened.

But I want us to move past Skip Gates and Sergeant Crowley and get to this teachable moment. Because when we got this opportunity in our nation to address a serious problem, we've got to look at the big picture and not worry about the nitpicking of whether or not Sergeant Crowley was right or Professor Gates was right.

We know that police sometimes abuse their power, but we know there are a lot of good cops in America. And one thing I don't want is I don't want every good cop to be afraid to do his job because he's going to be accused of being a racist. But at the same time, I don't want officers abusing their power, because we shouldn't be afraid of the police.

COOPER: Jeff Toobin, Boyce Watkins, Wendy Murphy, appreciate your perspective. Thanks very much.

You can listen to the 911 tape, released today by the Cambridge police, on our Web site at AC360.com.

Coming up next, Sarah Palin saying goodbye and taking some shots at the media.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: Democracy depends on you, and that is why -- that's why our troops are willing to die for you. So how about, in honor of the American soldier, you quit making things up?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: What is she talking about and what lies ahead for Palin? Candy Crowley has the "Raw Politics."

And survivor story. A brave dog, Daizy, reunited with her family after ten months. We'll tell you what happened. An amazing story.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Sarah Palin is a private citizen tonight, but she won't be out of the spotlight for long. The former vice-presidential candidate said goodbye to the governor's office with a three-day rolling picnic that took her from Wasilla to Anchorage to Fairbanks.

Palin ended her farewell tour before a crowd of supporters with a speech that took shots at everyone from the media to Hollywood starlets. Candy Crowley has the "Raw Politics."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Goodbye Palin style, sarcasm with a smile for the media.

PALIN: So how about in honor of the American soldier, you quit making things up?

C. CROWLEY: She was not complaining 11 months ago.

PALIN: And with your vote we're going to Washington to shake things up.

C. CROWLEY: She was the toast of the political world, the fixation of the media, and Barack Obama was in her sights.

PALIN: I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities.

C. CROWLEY: Sarah Palin was the yin to John McCain's yang. A fresh face, a no-questions-asked conservative way, way outside the Beltway and oh, so quotable.

PALIN: You know, they say the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull, lipstick.

C. CROWLEY: Republicans were wild for her. The moose hunting, fish catching governor of Alaska was a huge draw, giving John McCain the biggest crowds and the best two weeks of his campaign.

Then the interviews started. CBS's Katie Couric asked Palin what newspapers she read.

PALIN: All of them. Any of them that have been in front of me over all these years.

KATIE COURIC, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: Can you name a few?

PALIN: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news.

C. CROWLEY: Charlie Gibson with ABC pressed on foreign policy issues.

PALIN: And you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska.

C. CROWLEY: She got chewed up late-night TV.

AMY POEHLER, COMEDIAN: I believe that diplomacy should be the cornerstone of any foreign policy.

TINA FEY, COMEDIAN: And I can see Russia from my house.

C. CROWLEY: Complaints ranged from the serious to the silly: from foreign policy to her $150,000 wardrobe, paid for by the Republican Party.

PALIN: I'm not taking them with me. I'm back to wearing my own clothes from my favorite consignment shop in Anchorage, Alaska.

C. CROWLEY: The Republican supernova flamed out. But the klieg lights are seductive. As Palin left the governor's office for parts unknown, it's evident a flicker remains. PALIN: Now, with this decision now, I will be able to fight even harder for you, for what is right and for truth.

CROWLEY: She will write a book, help other like-minded candidates give speeches. And it's no coincidence her first appearance is in California, at the Ronald Reagan Library, Mecca to conservatives.

Palin could make good money and some friends with that agenda. She could also be on a path that leads to 2012. Exit stage right but definitely don't fade to black.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Candy, can she really be on a path to 2012, having quit the biggest and most important job she's had midway through the term?

CROWLEY: It hasn't helped her among Republicans. That's for sure. But let's face it: anybody can run for president. She may have it in her mind, or she may simply, literally be keeping her options open.

You know, Anderson, all the people that I've known that have run for president at some point have always believed they could be president, even when you looked at them and thought, no, that couldn't possibly happen. They are surrounded by people who think they're wonderful. And people tell them, "You know what you ought to do? You ought to run for president."

So all kinds of people run for president. We don't really know if she's thinking about it. But what we do know is that a lot of the things she's doing would help her if she decides to run for president.

COOPER: Has the quitting, although she calls it leadership in a new, more stronger form -- has the quitting -- I mean, you said some Republicans haven't liked it, but has it lessened the interest in her, I mean, to speak at places? I imagine she would be a popular speaker all around the country.

CROWLEY: Yes. And she's -- certainly there are some places she is wildly popular. There are other candidates who have said already, "Listen, I don't really want her coming into my district."

But she has a 70 percent approval rating still in the Republican Party. It is particularly high among conservatives and evangelicals. She will be a huge draw on the speaking circuit, where you can make a lot of money, at the Ronald Reagan Library.

So she -- the fact is that she's still a hot commodity right now. And that's when you can make money, and that's when you can make headlines. And I imagine that she will do both over the course of the next year.

COOPER: Candy, thanks very much. I love the ending of your piece. Great writing. Thank you.

CROWLEY: Thanks.

COOPER: Coming up next, Michael Vick allowed back in the NFL but still on thin ice. We'll tell you what conditions he has to meet, if a team will take him.

Plus, when mascots take one for the team. It's our "Shot of the Day."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Update on our breaking news. We've received a statement from Ed Chernoff, an attorney for Dr. Conrad Murray. Murray was Michael Jackson's personal doctor. Tonight for the first time, he's being directly connected to the drug that may have killed Jackson.

In his statement, Mr. Chernoff said, and I quote, "It's a waste of time responding to all these timed leaks from anonymous sources. I feel like a horse swatting flies. Everyone needs to take a breath, wait for these long delayed toxicology results. I have no doubt they want to make a case -- for goodness sakes, it's Michael Jackson! -- but things tend to shake out when all the facts are made known, and I'm sure that will happen here, as well.

Erica Hill joins us with the "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, Michael Vick welcomed back to the NFL, if he can find a team that will sign him. The league reinstated the former Atlanta Q.B. with conditions. Vick can participate in all preseason practices and two preseason games, but he won't be eligible to play in the regular season until October, pending full reinstatement by the league.

Vick, of course, was recently released from prison after serving two years in prison for bankrolling a dog-fighting operation.

Texting and driving makes you 23 percent more likely to be involved in an accident. Those numbers from researchers at Virginia Tech's Transportation Institute, who studied truck drivers on the road over an 18-month period. And it is nearly three times higher than findings from the University of Utah. That study involved students texting on a driving simulator.

A Texas pooch is home tonight more than 10 months after Hurricane Ike. The story, you see, damaged the family's home, and while their fence was being repaired for the dog, Daizy's family decided to board this little one. But then she escaped, and thought she was gone forever. Until last week, when a family friend saw Daizy wondering around in a nearby town.

COOPER: Ten months?

HILL: Isn't it crazy? Apparently she'd been living in the woods. People kept seeing her come out, and they would leave food, but she was a little skittish. But Daizy's mom went to the scene, did the family whistle.

COOPER: Aw.

HILL: Daizy came running and then lifted her paw for a handshake, which is apparently her signature move.

COOPER: Aw, Daizy.

"The Shot" is next. A mascot named Bingo the Bee gets a big sting during a celebration dance. Do we have the tape? We'll show you what happens.

And at the top of the hour, the breaking news: a source close to the Jackson family says his personal physician gave him the powerful drug that authorities believe played a role in his death. The latest on the breaking story, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tonight's "Shot" is from the "don't try this at home" file. Check it out. Binghamton Mets mascot during a celebration dance gets a little overconfident and -- oh! Yes, the grand slam.

HILL: Forgot he was in the bee costume.

COOPER: Apparently, Bingo the bee does a dance after every run scored at home. I think he's learned his lesson.

HILL: I don't think he'll be doing that same dance again.

COOPER: Ouch.

HILL: It's a fine bit of video. But you remember this one? Turns out Bingo the Bee is not the only wily mascot.

COOPER: Oh, here we go.

HILL: Yes, a 360 favorite. I forget the year, but it was a good one. A sausage race in Milwaukee takes a strange turn when the Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman hits one of the contestants, the one dressed as an Italian sausage, with a bat as she ran by. She wasn't seriously hurt. He was cited for disorderly conduct, paid a fine. How about that?

COOPER: I could watch this 100 times.

HILL: I'm so sick of you and your sausage races.

COOPER: It makes me giggle every time.

HILL: I noticed that.

COOPER: Yes. All right. There you go. Boom.

HILL: Makes you laugh because you weren't the one being hit with a bat, cooper.

COOPER: I know. No one was injured. Thank goodness. All right. You can see all the most recent "Shots" on AC360.com. Just ahead at the top of the hour, the serious stuff. The breaking news in the Michael Jackson investigation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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