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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
No Debating It; Scholarship Scandal; Interview with Andre Agassi; Killer Water
Aired September 3, 2010 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hello, everyone. I'm CNN meteorologist Karen McGinnis. We have the very latest information regarding Hurricane Earl. Earl has now been downgraded to tropical storm intensity. The winds associated with it now at 70 miles an hour. There are some gusts that are a little bit higher.
And just to kind of give you where the position on this is, it is about 90 miles south-southeast of Nantucket. Already, they are seeing some wind gusts between about 25 and around 45 miles an hour.
Now it's going to continue its trek more towards the Northeast as we go into the next 24 hours. But this system has had a very long life. It battered the coast of North Carolina in the past 24 hours. We did see some damage there. Reports are most of that minor to moderate damage along some of those coastal barrier islands.
But now this is enough offshore we're going to see some of that wall of water make its way onshore. But this being at tropical storm strength now, we're looking at maybe some light to moderate beach erosion across this region, maybe some power outages. Although right now these tropical storm force winds are not as intense as we were looking at across the mid-Atlantic, just about 24 hours or so ago.
So, it is at tropical storm intensity, moving off fairly rapidly towards the Northeast now at just about 25 miles an hour. Here is kind of the view as we take a look at what's happening. New York looks fine. Just a few isolated showers. It's going to be a little bit breezy. And across the cape region, as I mentioned, tropical storm force winds having been reported there.
We'll keep you updated throughout the evening and overnight hours, top and bottom of the hour. I'm CNN meteorologist Karen Maginnis.
Now "AC 360" begins right now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening, again, and thanks very much for joining us tonight.
Can a politician simply refuse to debate her opponents and refuse to answer questions from reporters and still get elected? We will soon find out. Fresh from her debate disaster, Arizona's governor today says never again, no more debates, period.
And wait until you hear the reason she says she took part in that one disastrous debate on Wednesday. According to her, it wasn't to talk to voters. It was money, $1.7 million.
We're "Keeping Them Honest".
Also tonight, another politician who seems to be dodging questions and responsibility: Democratic Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson. She's now blaming her top staffer for a scholarship scandal, giving thousands in charity scholarship money to her relatives and her staffer's relatives -- new developments in the scandal tonight.
And breaking news: we're tracking Earl roaring up the East Coast, though nowhere near as strong as many had feared. It's now closing in on New England. We'll tell you where, when and how badly it could affect your Labor Day weekend.
Plus, Andre Agassi tonight -- he dominated tennis and, for much of his life, hated every single minute of it. We'll go in-depth with him tonight about his hard-driving dad and the life he says was foisted on him -- the "Big 360 Interview".
We begin, though, tonight, as always, "Keeping Them Honest" with a surprise announcement from Arizona Governor Jan Brewer today. First came the debate meltdown and then she dodged the media. Now she's saying that her discombobulated debate was her last. She's refusing to participate in any more debates and goes on to say that she only took part in the one debate to get money.
That is what she told "The Arizona Star" today. She says the reason, the only reason she took part in the debate was to qualify for $1.7 million in public funding for her campaign. She won't do it again, she tells the paper, because debates help her opponent more than they benefit her.
What about her obligation to the voters and, because she's the sitting governor, her obligation to the people of Arizona? Well, we will talk about that shortly.
But, first, let's take a look at what happened in the one debate she did participate in. And it was Wednesday night. You have probably seen her opening statement, which candidates traditionally practice over and over. It was pretty much a complete meltdown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: It's great to be here with Larry, Barry and Terry.
And thank you all for watching tonight.
I have -- done so much. And I just cannot believe that we have changed everything since I have become your governor in the last 600 days.
Arizona has been brought back from its abyss. We have cut the budget. We have balanced the budget. And we are moving forward. We have done everything that we could possibly do.
We have -- did what was right for Arizona.
I will tell you that I have really -- did the very best that anyone could do. And we have pushed back had hard against the federal government. We have filed suit against Obama health care. And -- and we have passed Senate Bill 1070. And we will continue to do what's right for Arizona. I ask for your vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, painful to watch, no doubt about it. You might say everyone has a brain freeze every now and then.
But what the governor went on to do later during the debate and especially afterwards with reporters was almost as embarrassing. And we're seeing this tactic more and more used by candidates.
I want to show you what happened later on during that same debate. The governor's chief opponent, a Democrat, Arizona's attorney general, Terry Goddard, repeatedly called on the governor to retract a false statement she made in June in which she said that Arizona law enforcement have found decapitated bodies in the desert.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TERRY GODDARD (D), ARIZONA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: But what is hurting us right now economically are statements, false statements, made by Jan Brewer about how Arizona has become so violent, that we are a place of fear, that we have beheadings in the desert.
Those are false statements that cause people to think that Arizona is a dangerous place. And they don't come here and they don't invest here because our governor has said such negative things about our state.
And Jan, I call upon you today to say that there are no beheadings. That was a false statement and it needs to be cleared up right now.
BREWER: And, you know, Terry, I will call you out. I think that you ought to renounce your support and endorsement of the unions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, now, the governor didn't answer the question there, instead tried to turn the question on Goddard. It's a debate tactic. But look at what happened immediately after the debate, when the governor was confronted with the same questions by a group of reporters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor, why wouldn't you recant the comment you've made earlier about the beheadings in the desert?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seriously, that's a serious question, Governor.
BREWER: Well, this was an interesting evening tonight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, please answer the question --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About the headless bodies. Why won't you recant that? Do you still believe that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, Governor.
BREWER: Ok, thank you, all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, Governor, what do you make --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, she totally ignores their questions and just tries to give her prepared talking points, and then walks out.
By the way, no law enforcement agencies have reported finding decapitated people in the desert in the U.S. -- in Mexico, absolutely, not in America.
Amazingly, the governor claimed that she never actually said that decapitated bodies were being found in the desert in Arizona. "I never said Arizona," she insisted.
Again, "Keeping Them Honest," take a look at a local TV interview she did back in June shortly after first raising the beheading issue on FOX News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which beheadings in Arizona would -- were you referring to?
BREWER: Oh, our law enforcement agencies have found bodies in the desert either buried or just lying out there that have been beheaded.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: All right. She didn't actually say the word Arizona, but she didn't say the anchor was wrong when he said Arizona. And she was talking about American law enforcement finding beheaded people in the desert.
It sounds like she was talking about Arizona.
And that wasn't the first time she had actually raised the issue. Sure enough, today, Brewer finally did speak about the beheadings, admitting to the Associated Press that she had misspoke. And she went on to say: "Let me be clear. I'm concerned about the border region because it continues to be reported in Mexico that there's a lot of violence going on, and we don't want that going into Arizona."
So, now the government won't take part in any more debates. It remains to be seen if she will continue to refuse to answer questions and simply give out prepared statements, like she did on Wednesday.
Joining us now is Steve Kornacki. He's a political columnist for Salon.com.
I mean, it seems like the way she is dealing with giving embarrassing answers is just to stop taking questions at all.
STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: Yes. I mean, that's the strategy. And the gamble she is taking here basically is, look, it's Labor Day now. We've got two months until the election. She's 20 points ahead in the latest poll. Now Arizona is a Republican-friendly state that's going to be particularly friendly to Republicans because of the national climate.
So, she's -- she's basically gambling that the damage she'll get from all of the sort of free media attention, segments like this tonight in Arizona and nationally, over the next two months will be offset by two things. One, the national climate, which will make voters inclined to vote for Republicans just because they don't want to vote for Democrats; two, the climate in Arizona on the issue of immigration. No matter how in --
COOPER: Right. She's popular on that issue.
COOPER: So, why -- so why try to answer questions that are just going to get her in trouble?
KORNACKI: Right. So, you're just -- you're betting on, no matter how incompetent she seems, the one thing besides of this that voters -- every voter in Arizona knows about her is that she's the governor who signed the immigration law.
And if immigration is a huge issue to you in Arizona -- and it is a big issue to a big chunk of the electorate -- that may offset any concerns they have about her temperament.
It's a big gamble, though, because there's two months between now and Election Day. And if this is the kind of story that people are focusing on, that's a lot of time for damage to kind of set in.
And, you know, there's a famous story of 1990, when a guy name Paul Wellstone, the late senator from Minnesota --
KORNACKI: How did he win? It was one of the biggest upsets of the year. He won because his opponent ducked debates.
And he put this ad up, very clever ad, trying to track his opponent down, couldn't find him in Minnesota, couldn't find him willing to debate. And there was a popular revolt. And you could see -- you could see it.
COOPER: But there is such -- there is also such anti-media sentiment right now, particularly among, you know, conservatives, and she could use that to her advantage. She could say, well, look, all the -- and she has been.
COOPER: She's been saying, all the media is talking about is beheadings, beheadings, beheadings. She could start to look like a victim of an overzealous media --
KORNACKI: Oh, absolutely.
COOPER: -- which is, frankly, also being used by this Democrat in Texas. I mean, it's the same strategy by Representative Johnson, who is now saying, on the scholarship scandal -- I mean, she said I was trying to create the scandal. Then she -- she is now accusing the "Dallas Morning News" reporter who broke it of having a vendetta against her, politically motivated.
KORNACKI: Well, the one common bond between, you know, whether you're talking about somebody on the left in the Democratic Party or somebody on the right in the Republican Party, is the -- the base of support for every politician always believes that the media is out to get that politician.
You know, George W. Bush's supporters thought they -- it was out to get him. Barack Obama's supporters think it's out to get him.
So, Jan Brewer's base, you know, will absolutely respond that way. The question is, you know, in every election, there's -- you know, I don't know -- 10 percent, 15 percent of the electorate that you can actually call swing voters, who really jump from one party to the other.
You know, what is going to be more important to them in Arizona this fall? Is it going to be their -- their inclination nationally to vote against Democrats and their views on the immigration issue? If that's more important, Brewer gets their votes. If -- if the -- sort of the issues about her temperament, her personality and her competence that this raises --
KORNACKI: -- if that becomes more important, she loses those votes and only then can the Democrat win.
COOPER: And -- and she wasn't even supposed to win her primary, I mean, months and months ago.
KORNACKI: Right. It's because of this issue.
KORNACKI: And that's why -- that's one of the reasons --
COOPER: Because of the immigration issue.
And you talk about how the base, you know, responds and thinks the media is out to get her. The base had -- the base of the Republican Party had no particular affection for Jan Brewer. She was probably going to lose her primary. She signed this bill. She became an instant hero to them.
Then, with the media, basically, in Arizona and nationally saying what a draconian bill this was, that sort of cemented what you're talking about --
KORNACKI: -- where the base said, not only do we like her for signing this; we like her for sticking up to the media, which is calling her all these terrible names; you know, because they're calling her these names, they're calling us these names.
COOPER: We'll see what -- what her opponent uses -- if he tries to use this -- this debate performance against her to try to get her to debate like Wellstone did, and also if she continues to stonewall reporters on questions. We'll continue to follow it.
Steve Kornacki, I appreciate it.
COOPER: Thanks very much, from Salon.
Up next, "Keeping Them Honest": she said she was unaware of rules against awarding scholarship money to members of her own family. We were just talking about her, Representative Johnson. Then she said the rules were unclear. Then she blamed a staffer -- the latest from Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and the reporter who broke the story. We'll talk to him tonight with some new information.
Also tonight: the 911 tapes when the Discovery gunman was holding hostages. They've just been released tonight, and as expected, they are chilling.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am almost directly behind the suspect, behind a wall. I have visual on his apparatus. I am losing battery on my portable. If somebody else comes in via the garden, there will be a security officer standing by to walk you where I am.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Vega, he's looking at you to see where you're going.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest" tonight: the nine-term Dallas congresswoman embroiled in a scandal over scholarships worth thousands of dollars that she awarded to family members and the family members of a staffer.
Her name is Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson. We have been reporting on this throughout the week. She's also the former head of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Now, you're going to hear the interview we did with her last night in just a moment. She tries several explanations -- some might say excuses, before ultimately saying that the responsibility for the scholarship problems lay with her top aide.
This week, she said she repaid $31,000 in scholarship money to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.
I just want to recap how all of this came to be, in case you haven't been following it. Now, according to "The Dallas Morning News," which has been at the front of this story and broke this they, she gave out 23 scholarships over five years to two relatives, two of her grandchildren and two great nephews.
She also gave money to the children of a top staffer. That's more than a third of all the scholarships that she awarded during that period.
Now, you don't even have to see the rules of the CBC Foundation to know that this is completely inappropriate. But we checked anyway. Kids are eligible for these scholarships if they have a 2.5 grade- point average, letters of recommendation, if they write an essay. Also, they have to be a student in the district of the member of the Congressional Black Caucus. And they cannot be a relative of anyone affiliated with the Congressional Black Caucus.
Now, the rules are clearly stated in the scholarship application. The kids all signed it, promising that they weren't related to anyone connected with the Congressional Black Caucus.
Not only did the congresswoman violate the CBC Foundation rule about awarding her own relatives, but according to "The Dallas Morning News", none of these kids even lived in her district, none of her relatives, or went to the school in -- schools in her district.
So, "Keeping Them Honest", we wanted to know how someone, anyone, could either be unaware of or confused by such clear-cut rules or basic ethics.
I spoke with Congresswoman Johnson. Listen to it.
COOPER: Representative Johnson, thanks for joining us.
You've said that you didn't know the rules for this scholarship and -- and didn't know that you couldn't give the money to your grandson and other relatives of yours and a member of your staff.
How is that possible that -- that you didn't know that not only was this against the rules of the scholarship, but -- but simply unethical?
REP. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON (D), TEXAS (via telephone): Well, let me just say this.
I was not aware of the rules. The rules have been very ambiguous. There were some rules to come out last year.
But, you know, I have acknowledged that I made a mistake. I have tried to make everything whole. I have paid all the money out of my personal funds, and I'm ready to move on.
COOPER: You say the rules were ambiguous prior to last year and that you didn't know what the rules were -- were.
We found the 2008 scholarship application. And -- and on it, it says -- quote -- "Employees and/or relatives of CBC members, CBC spouses, the CBC Foundation, the board of directors are ineligible for the scholarship program."
We also went back and found the 2006 guidelines from four years ago and it says the exact same thing. "Employees and/or relatives of CBC members, CBC spouses, CBC Foundation, board of directors are ineligible for the scholarship program."
That seems not ambiguous.
JOHNSON: I didn't realize they were even in print, as I indicated. I -- I don't have any reason not to tell the truth. I did not know they were in print.
COOPER: But you say you didn't know it was in print. But, clearly, members of your staff knew that those were printed in the rules, because when your grandsons and grandnephews and the members of -- of -- the family members of your staff who got this -- this money for several years in a row, every time they sent in an application, they had to promise that they weren't a relative of you or anyone connected with the CBC.
So, people on your staff --
JOHNSON: Well, I admit -- I admit I made a mistake. I did not realize that. I didn't read the form.
COOPER: No, no, but -- but the point is that people on your staff knew the rules.
COOPER: So, are you -- have you looked into who on your staff knew the rules?
JOHNSON: Anderson, I have acknowledged that I was negligent. I have acknowledged that I made a mistake. When it was called to my attention, I tried to correct it.
I know you want you to make a scandal out of this, and I -- but I can't help you. All I can do is tell you the truth.
COOPER: Well, I think you've done enough in terms of making it a scandal. I'm trying to figure out how it happened. And you say you take responsibility.
I'm asking, specifically, who on your staff reviewed these applications? Because, whoever did that, for several years, saw that these kids were promising that they weren't your relatives.
JOHNSON: The responsibility rests with my chief of staff.
JOHNSON: My chief of staff had the responsibility. I can't tell you who always did, because to be quite honest with you, I work pretty hard.
We have a lot to do. And it really has not gotten all of my attention, I regret to say. It's a minor part of what we do on a daily basis.
COOPER: It does seem, though, to strain --
JOHNSON: And I have indicated to you --
JOHNSON: -- that I was negligent. I made a mistake. I have tried to right it. And that's all I can do.
COOPER: Because it does seem to strain credibility to say that you, as a public official, didn't understand that it's just, ethically -- and whether or not you read the rules -- that ethically, there would be a problem with giving money to your grandsons for several years, when there are other kids out there who could have gotten that money.
JOHNSON: Other kids --
COOPER: Who weren't -- by the way -- your grandkids weren't even living in your district or going to school in your district.
JOHNSON: How do you want me to answer that? I have answered to the best of my ability. I made a mistake. I tried to correct it. What else would you want me to tell you?
COOPER: I guess my question is, as a public official, how do you know that that's not ethically right?
JOHNSON: Say what?
COOPER: As a public official, who has been in Congress for a long time, how do you know that that is not ethically right, whether or not you have read the rules, just at basic ethics?
JOHNSON: Yes, I have been here 18 years, and you're talking about the last three or four years.
COOPER: Well, I'm talking about five years that you have been doing this that we know about.
JOHNSON: Well, the only thing I can tell you is what I have said. And I will keep repeating it. I made a mistake.
COOPER: So -- but you never understood, you never heard that, ethically, there might be a problem with awarding money --
JOHNSON: I did not hear it, no.
COOPER: It never occurred to you? No member of your staff ever, over the course of five years, said it to you?
(CROSSTALK) JOHNSON: I didn't really think about it that much because, you know, I'm -- I'm trying to make sure it doesn't -- I know it won't happen again. I'm initiating a new committee in place.
I -- I'm the last one that they send these things to. And, usually, they go right to my chief of staff. I have not dwelled on trying to figure out a way to give my grandchildren $1,000 a year. I have not done that.
I have a lot of things to do. And I'm not saying that I didn't do right by not dwelling on it, but this is just one scholarship out of hundreds of scholarships that are offered to kids that I steer them to within my district.
Did you or any member of your staff tell your grandsons, your grandnephews or the children of the other member of your staff to lie on the forms?
JOHNSON: No. I have had no conversation about lying on anything.
COOPER: So -- so, they just lied on their own?
COOPER: Did they just lie on their own, or were they coached by members of your staff?
JOHNSON: I don't -- I don't consider them having lied --
COOPER: Well, they said they weren't your relatives.
JOHNSON: -- because I don't even know if they have even seen those forms.
COOPER: Well, they signed those forms. They said they -- as part of the application process, they got essays, they had to write --
JOHNSON: Well, you've seen more than I have, Anderson.
COOPER: You haven't looked into this at all?
JOHNSON: I don't have the -- I don't have the forms, the records.
COOPER: You --
JOHNSON: The records are missing from my office.
COOPER: The records are missing from your office?
JOHNSON: Yes. We've looked for them. They're not there. And --
COOPER: But what -- the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation has --
JOHNSON: The first thing I thought about is try to correct the mistake.
COOPER: Right. But the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation has told us -- we had them on the other night -- they told us that, yes, each of these -- each of your relatives said they were not your relative on the form. They -- they -- they signed off that everything was true on their application.
JOHNSON: I'm sorry that happened. I don't -- I'm not even aware of it. And I know that my grandkids didn't do this intentionally. I don't even know if they have seen the forms, because I hadn't seen the forms until this year.
COOPER: Well, they signed the forms. So, they --
JOHNSON: But let me assure you that I have repaid all of the money. I'm not blaming anybody but myself. I'm taking full responsibility. And I'm going to move forward.
COOPER: Well, Representative Johnson, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.
JOHNSON: Thank you very much.
COOPER: Well, that's Congresswoman Johnson's take on the scandal.
Joining me now is Todd Gillman of "The Dallas Morning News," who broke this story, has been following it, and has new developments in the story tonight.
Todd, thanks for being with us.
First of all, what did you make of -- of that interview? That happened last night. What did you make of it?
TODD GILLMAN, "THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS": You -- you got a lot of answers out of her. And you asked a lot of really terrific questions.
She -- she changed her story substantially last night. It was the first time she had ever said that it was the responsibility of her chief of staff to review these applications and enforce the rules.
We had no idea that -- that these records were lost. She -- the -- the fact that she says that she did not coach and no one coached her -- her relatives to lie on these forms was very interesting.
It really strains credibility for a lot of people that nobody had any idea, that she had no idea that there were such rules in place.
In 2005, the very first year that she awarded scholarships to some of her -- to some of her relatives, she was a member of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation board. And there is not a major philanthropic organization in America that doesn't have rules against self-dealing.
COOPER: It's -- it's in -- I mean, even if she didn't know the rules of this particular scholarship, which again strains -- strains credibility, I mean, basic ethics for anybody in public office, in public life -- I mean, you know that giving things, money to your relative who doesn't even live in the district, that's just -- I mean, that's got to raise questions.
And if it doesn't raise questions for her, which I find impossible to believe for a sitting -- a person who has been in Congress for nine terms, it's got to raise questions for people on her staff.
And this didn't just happen once. I mean, this happened year after year after year. There would have to be a big turnover of her staff, and they -- new people had to come in and say, wait a minute, we're giving money to her grandkids?
GILLMAN: Well, I suppose you could argue that, once the mistake was made in 2005, it might have been easier to make the same mistake year after year after year.
But I think you're also touching on an issue that has disturbed a lot of voters and a lot of our readers in the Dallas area, which is that there is a distinction between what you can get away with technically, and what you ought to do. And that -- that is a question of ethics.
COOPER: You are still digging on this story. And, as I said, I mean, "The Dallas Morning News" has done remarkable work on this. You have now found other scholarships that were improperly awarded by Representative Johnson to others who weren't in her district. They weren't relatives, but they just were not in her district.
But also now others, it seems, have come forward, saying that they tried to contact Johnson's office years ago about scholarships, but were never told about these scholarships.
It seems unclear, at least to me, if she -- how she ever really informed people in her district or if she did inform schools in her district about the scholarships, or simply used them for her relatives and others who in one way or another came into her orbit.
GILLMAN: Well, she definitely did get the word out to some degree.
We canvassed many high schools and many high school counselors in her congressional district. Some were aware of the scholarship. Some were not aware of the scholarship. We spoke with a number of -- of the recipients or their parents who had actually received the scholarship who were not among her relatives, who were eligible for this. And they found out about it typically through to dealing to guidance counselors or doing their own sort of scholarship search --
COOPER: Well, that's good to know.
GILLMAN: -- search -- to go to college and find financial aid.
What you're referring to, we did uncover -- in reviewing all of the recipients, the 60 or so scholarships that she has awarded in the past five years under the Black Caucus Foundation program, we found another five students who lived outside of her congressional district who had applied.
And this actually, in some way, supports her story, which is that she did not consider the residency requirement to be a hard-and-fast requirement. She felt that it was a goal, that it was a guideline, but that it was not a -- you know, a must kind of thing.
And these students -- as far as we can tell, none of the other students were related. There was no conflict of interests, per se --
GILLMAN: -- but they didn't live -- and so they weren't eligible.
But many of the students that she did help were scholar athletes, were outstanding academically, and deserved scholarships. They just weren't eligible because they didn't live or go to school in her district.
We're out of time, but I've got to ask you just very briefly, she is now using this tactic, saying -- well, she says I'm trying to create a scandal, which, frankly, I mean I think she did enough -- you know, she created this thing.
She is now saying you have a vendetta against her, that you're ideologically motivated, and that therefore, your reporting is biased. Again, you're reporting facts on what she has done.
But -- but tell the story of the first time you reported on her in a column you wrote.
GILLMAN: Well, I suppose there's a little bit of bad blood going back, in her mind, perhaps.
I -- I wrote a story when I became a local political columnist from Dallas. I found out that she was going to do a -- a local public television show where she would take questions from voters. And I went to cover it and thinking it was just an ordinary congressman interaction with voters.
Nobody showed up, except for her staff, who then proceeded to act the part of ordinary citizens in her district who were posing questions. Some of them even called in. Her press secretary called in, pretending to just be a regular voter.
And I called her on it.
So, this was a rather embarrassing -- the headline was something like, "Congresswoman's TV Show Fills an Hour, but it's No 60 Minutes."
So, that was about 15 years ago. If she still remembers it, I imagine that was us getting off on the wrong foot.
But -- but the allegation that we have a vendetta or that a disgruntled ex-employee spread this about her and that's why this all came about is like saying that people were spreading a vicious truth about her.
GILLMAN: There's nothing untrue, that whoever the tipster was and whatever we put in the paper, it's all true.
COOPER: Right. It seems to your -- you're doing your job.
GILLMAN: And that's why she paid back the $31,000.
COOPER: Yes. You're doing your job, I mean uncovering facts.
Todd Gillman, I appreciate it. I appreciate the reporting. We'll continue to follow it and talk to you again. Thank you.
GILLMAN: It's great to be here.
COOPER: Up next: the latest on Hurricane Earl and new 911 tapes just released from the Discovery Channel hostage crisis, the drama inside and outside the building.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need snipers in the windows surrounding where the suspect is. And he does have what appears to be a pressure release device.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MAGINNIS: Hello, everyone. I'm CNN meteorologist Karen MaGinnis. We are watching the progress of what is now Tropical Storm Earl as it lashes the coast of New England. Now, stay here on CNN all throughout the overnight hours. We'll be bringing you live updates at the top and the bottom of every hour.
Right now, Tropical Storm Earl supporting winds of 70 miles an hour. We're seeing tropical storm force winds lash the coast of Massachusetts. Some of the highest wind peaks we've seen so far, right around 45 miles an hour.
We'll continue to bring you updates. Another update coming up in about 30 minutes at the top of the hour.
ANDERSON COOPER 360 continues right now.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (AUDIO GAP) snipers in the windows surrounding where the suspect is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a full description of apparatus around the suspect.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 15-20, go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like a mini backpack, looks like two canisters on the outside, looks like a propane bottle on the inside, but like two coffee cans surrounded by the propane canister. Flashing light in his left hand, almost like a death grip, red luminous light continuously flashing; same thing on the front, strapped around his waist.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Confirm that the suspect has something in his hand? Like a grip, he said, or a button?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, and suspect is carrying the grip in his left hand, like a death grip.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there a wire or batteries or anything associated with that that you can see?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like a red LED light, like a release button that is continuously flashing. He has a microphone, like a Janet Jackson microphone to his mouth, and he is protesting verbally the security guard, who is the hostage at this point.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks like he's trying to affix something to one of the security guards in the lobby.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He fired two shots so he can make entry into the building on the other side.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's got one of the hostages that was laying on the floor. He's got him up, talking to him. Looks like he's giving him instructions and, hopefully, he'll be coming out this front door in just a minute.
COOPER: Well, police recovered two starter pistols and four explosive devices at the scene.
Let's go next to Tom Foreman with an update on some of the other news -- "360 News & Business Bulletin".
Tom, what do you got?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson.
A powerful earthquake in New Zealand; the magnitude 7.0 quake struck Saturday morning local time near Christchurch. A state of emergency has been declared there at Christchurch. Some buildings collapsed. Many vehicles damaged. At least two people treated for serious injuries.
A 360 follow-up: federal investigators now say a fire last weekend at a site in Tennessee where a mosque is being built was deliberately set. Accelerants were used to damage vehicles there.
A big day on Wall Street: the Dow gained 128 points. Investors liked the August jobs report, which showed fewer job losses than July. The Dow is now back in the black for the first time in the year.
And action off the court at the U.S. Open in New York. We found this on Break.com. Three fans arguing, apparently, over one man's foul mouth. The argument escalated into a brawl that actually stopped the match. All three were escorted out of the stadium. The final score, Anderson -- not love-love.
COOPER: Yes. I watched this earlier. It was disturbing to see. The guy seemed like kind of a jerk, who was kind of just talking a lot.
FOREMAN: Yes. Out of control.
COOPER: I hate it when people talk at games or movies. It just drives me nuts. Anyway, I digress.
Next up on 360, talking about tennis, Andre Agassi. What you don't know about the tennis legend, the secrets he kept for years, and why he says he hated the sport for years, the sport that made him famous. The "Big 360 Interview" ahead.
COOPER: Tonight's "Big 360 Interview," Andre Agassi. With the U.S. Open now under way, it's easy to see the enormous impact the tennis champion has had on the sport. The game obviously made him rich, made him a household name; but at the same time and for a long time left him very, very unhappy.
In his brutally honest autobiography "Open", Agassi bares his soul, revealing some extraordinary details about a life he says was a lie. As you'll see for this superstar, image masked everything back then. I spoke to Andre Agassi earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: One of the things I was really struck by in the book is just the loneliness that you experienced, especially as a child and through the teenage years, playing -- you know, basically being forced to play tennis.
ANDRE AGASSI, TENNIS PRO: It was definitely a life I didn't choose. You've got to be very clear about that. My father sort of impressed upon all of his children that that's what we're going to do, and that's how we're going to have the quickest road to the American dream.
COOPER: But I mean, what comes across in the book is clearly there were a lot of times and a lot of years that you just hated it.
AGASSI: For sure. I always say I went from not a love/hate. It wasn't a love/hate; it was a hate/love. I didn't learn to love --
COOPER: Did you hate it from the -- I mean at 7, I think, is when you started -- your dad started you playing?
AGASSI: Yes. I started playing when -- as soon as I was in diapers playing tennis. I mean, my dad taped a ping-pong racket to my hand. You know, put a ball over the crib where I could just sit there and work on my hand --
COOPER: Really? Literally taped it to your hand?
AGASSI: Literally -- literally taped it to my hand. But, you know, do you really hate tennis? I think you misdirect it. I think you hate what tennis does to your family. I think you hate what tennis makes you feel.
COOPER: What did it make you feel when you were a kid?
AGASSI: Winning or losing, practicing well or not, changed the mood in our house. You know, my dad was convinced we all should be champions. I was the last. I was the baby of four. So it fell on my shoulders, and I had more -- the most talent in the house.
So I sort of internalized, as I watched the relationship between my father and I watched the relationship between my family change over the years. And it was, for me, the only way to make it right was to succeed at this. I have to be -- I used to be introduced as the future No. 1 tennis player in the world. So --
COOPER: That's how he would introduce you to people?
AGASSI: That's how he would introduce me to people. And, you know -- and the truth is when you're 7 years old, things are bigger than life. And I write this book in first person. I'm talking about what a 7-year-old feels when they feel like their life is on the line; their family, dinner at the dinner table, or everybody eating separately because today was a good day or today wasn't a bad day.
COOPER: So if it was a bad day, people would eat separately? If you had a bad practice, that would ruin the day?
AGASSI: Yes, it would ruin the day. In my mind, at least what I was hoping for; but not that my father was abusive, just phenomenally intense. So when you lost or when you weren't at your best, it ate at him. And he was a perfectionist. And that means we're getting up in the morning extra early. And that means we're doing this, and we're doing that, which means we're going to bed earlier, which means homework is less of a priority.
COOPER: You talked about the school you went to at 13, the Nick Bolettieri Tennis Academy --
COOPER: -- I think it's called. In the book, it -- and you write about this, but it really does sound like "Lord of the Flies." I mean it's incredibly unsupervised where you were living and it's very much, you know, sink or swim. It was dog eat dog.
AGASSI: Well, there's no question. You eat what you kill. You know, you raise each other --
COOPER: You eat what you kill?
AGASSI: You eat what you kill, you know.
COOPER: Is that the slogan of the school?
AGASSI: I mean, at the time, you know -- you've got to remember, I'm actually writing it as a felt-abandoned 13-year-old. So this isn't a fair assessment of where it stands now --
AGASSI: -- or what this academy is. But for me being there, you have to know -- people knew where we were at all times of the day. But the truth is you're raising each other as teenagers. And you stick some teenagers together I refer to as "Lord of the Flies of the Forehands" is how I refer to it.
COOPER: Was there a fantasy that you had of getting out? At that age?
AGASSI: Yes. I did. I had fantasies of quitting. I had fantasies of running. I had fantasies of actually succeeding. But I did it -- I did it tortured. I did it rebelling -- rebelling all at the same time. I did it painting my hair, and putting on Mohawks, and piercing my body and just anything I could, drinking Jack Daniels.
COOPER: When you see now pictures of yourself as a pro with the long hair and, you know, the denim pants and shorts, what do you see?
AGASSI: I see somebody struggling for identity, struggling to understand themselves. I see somebody exploring who they are. It was always treated as self expression when, really, it was my exploration. I didn't know who I was. COOPER: Did your dad read this book?
COOPER: He didn't?
AGASSI: No. And I talked to him about it, because I wanted to talk to him about it.
COOPER: It's kind of amazing.
AGASSI: It is but, you know, he said to me straight out -- he's an immigrant from Iran. He said to me straight out, "What the hell do I need your book for? I was there, I was there."
And I said, "Yes, dad, but you're hearing things about it, and that bothers me because I describe you -- an honest, loving portrayal of you."
COOPER: Right. Yes, I mean, it's a complex portrayal.
COOPER: It's not something that you're going to see on a TV show in a headline.
AGASSI: Exactly. He's seeing all these sensationalized bits. So I said to him, "Are you OK with that, Dad? Do we need to go over it?"
And he said, "You know what? If I had to do this all over again, I would do the same exact thing, except it wouldn't be tennis. I wouldn't let you play tennis. It would be golf or baseball."
So I said to him, "Why golf or baseball?"
"Because you can play longer, and you can make more money."
And I said, "You know what? God bless you, man. God bless you."
And he was clear then. He's clear now. And we all should be so lucky to know ourselves so well that we can rationalize other things. For my father, he knows where he stands.
COOPER: But, I mean, doesn't that -- I mean, A, to put the effort into something that you spent three years working on. I mean, it's got to hurt to not have -- I wrote a book and my mom was the first person to read it and, you know, said nothing but nice things about it, which you know, is kind of what you want to hear from your parent, no?
AGASSI: Yes. You do. There's a lot of things that I would have probably wanted with that. But at the same time, you know, there comes a time in your life when you stop wanting and you start wanting to understand.
AGASSI: You know? And I've spent a lot of time understanding.
COOPER: The paperback for his book is now out. My "Big 360 Interview" with Andre Agassi continues after the break. Confessions off the court: more of the secrets he kept from his fans, coming up.
COOPER: We're back with more of our conversation with Andre Agassi. The tennis great won 60 titles and earned tens of millions of dollars. He played the sport professionally since he was 16 years old, and for a long time he just hated it.
Agassi says it was a life that was imposed on him, just one of the fascinating details from his autobiography "Open," which is now out in paperback.
Here's part two of the "Big 360 Interview" with Andre Agassi.
COOPER: Just want to show our viewers very quickly, there was a shot just recently -- Roger Federer made an amazing shot. I just want to show that to our viewers, and then it show a shot you made.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Between the legs. He does it again. He does it again, everybody. Hello.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 1995, Andre Agassi.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From 1995.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That was a better shot.
AGASSI: I actually had a breeze on my back. This was actually an easier shot. I didn't think I could generate that kind of pace from over my shoulder. But as far as Roger Federer, he's been lucky for the last ten years. I don't -- I don't believe that.
COOPER: How could you be so good at something that you hated? I mean, when you hate something every day, day in, day out, most people, it affects the way they perform.
AGASSI: It does. And I could have been better; there's no question about it. But I didn't --
COOPER: No. But you were -- you're a great tennis player. You were able to, you know -- you were far and above the vast majority of people playing tennis. AGASSI: No. But I didn't really succeed until I did take that ownership. I won more Grand Slams after the age of 29 than I did before. And I think what I would say to the everyday person, the person that hates what it is they do, I think there's one of the things you take away from this book is, you know, your life might not be -- you might find yourself in the life that you're in, but you can find reasons for why you connect to it and how you connect to it.
COOPER: A lot of people are trapped in jobs that they hate.
COOPER: So your recommendation to people who are doing something they hate is what, and feel trapped in it?
AGASSI: To sum up what somebody's life experience is, is hard to do, you know. You can't give broad, you know, platitudes about how to handle your life. What I can do is share with you what I did with mine.
COOPER: Do you watch tennis now?
AGASSI: I love watching tennis. I actually love it, because I'm not -- I'm not attached to the dramas of it, you know. And I have this real appreciation for what it takes.
And I -- and guys are just better now. You know, you sit there and watch the athleticism and you watch what they're doing and you marvel at their journey. You see somebody young, and you see so much journey ahead of them. At the same time you don't envy it. You know? I have no desire to re-live it.
COOPER: There was obviously a lot of attention to a very tiny portion. I think maybe it was a page or two in your book about experimenting with crystal meth at one point in your life.
When you see athletes now and all the accusations of doping, can you be a professional athlete now and not be using something?
AGASSI: Well, if you're talking -- let's make -- let's separate the categories here.
COOPER: Well, obviously what you were doing was completely different, you know.
AGASSI: There's performance-enhancing drugs, and then there's just -- there's just recreational drugs that destroy who you are.
COOPER: Right. Crystal meth is not something which, obviously, an athlete would use to enhance.
AGASSI: Yes, yes. As it relates to performance-enhancing drugs, I think every sport needs to step up and be accountable. And any industry in life, any business in life and any possible opportunity in life, you're going to have a lot of people trying to take short cuts. You have a lot of people cheating. You can't control what people do. But what you can control is your governing body. One thing I've been very impressed with over the years, including when I tested positive for crystal meth, a recreational performance inhibitor, is a fact that our sport has pushed to be on the cutting edge of that.
COOPER: You built yourself a life beyond just playing the game.
AGASSI: I built myself something that tennis facilitated. I built myself a school that started to educate children and give them choices in their own life. You know, I raised awareness and the money necessary to educate these kids. I felt a lack of education in my own life. I was -- you know, I was a ninth-grade dropout. With education comes choices, comes options.
COOPER: Your school is in Las Vegas. How many kids go to your school?
AGASSI: It's a K through 12 public charter school and we have 653 kids in this year. We probably have the capacity of about --
COOPER: Free tuition for them?
AGASSI: Free tuition for them. It's a free education for them. My goal is to give resources. My goal is to be accountable with those resources. My goal was to take that and give it to those children that society says we should write off, that don't have a chance.
And we've had two graduating classes. I've been doing this for 12 or 13 years, and every single one of them are off to college and I'm really proud of that. Through most of the last part of my career, that's one of the things that I was fighting for.
COOPER: The book is fascinating -- "Open". I'm reading it now. Thank you so much for coming.
AGASSI: It was a pleasure, Anderson. Thank you.
COOPER: Up next, killer water. First came the massive flooding. Now survivors are dealing with a second wave of life-threatening illness. Dr. Sanjay Gupta's "360 Dispatch" from Pakistan coming up.
COOPER: In Pakistan, the humanitarian disaster from the devastating floods shows no signs of easing. Tonight, at least 17 million people have been affected by the catastrophe. Hundreds of thousands have been left homeless, and the threat from water-borne disease is growing.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been in the flood zone, reporting on the massive tragedy. Here's tonight's report.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Electrolytes --
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fayez Awi (ph) is now getting something millions across Pakistan cannot: medical care. It's amazing, because up until a couple of days ago, his life looked like this. Then he got sick -- very sick.
A parent's love for their son took over. Knowing he would die, they took a gamble, left everything they had behind, and just started moving: somewhere, anywhere.
(on camera): We've probably never seen a line like this before, but this is a line for people waiting to get into the hospital. You see garbage all around the place. They stay here, all day long, waiting.
A lot of people have infectious diseases that are associated with drinking contaminated water. It's what we've been talking about. This is a diarrheal treatment center specifically for children. Let's go take a look.
(voice-over): Fayez (ph) finally made it inside.
(on camera): Your town is completely covered in water?
He's been sick for some time. He was saying that he was sick even before the flood and it just became much worse during the flooding.
(voice-over): Three years old, he weighs just 10 pounds. He's so small. For comparison, I have a 3-year-old daughter. She weighs closer to 30 pounds. And Fayez (ph) is so fragile.
Young children have weaker immune systems. They become more easily dehydrated. And like millions of people around the country, he didn't have a choice when he got thirsty. Killer water or none at all -- imagine drinking that.
I've covered so many natural disasters. There's always fear of a second wave of disease. But access to clean water helped control that risk after the Haiti quake.
In Pakistan, though, the second wave, it's already here.
(on camera): It's so hard to see these little kids so sick on these dusty, dirty tables, IVs hanging. This baby is so small all you see is her little foot hanging out with an IV, again.
Another child here -- and these children are sick. This is a diarrheal treatment center to take care of them. Some of these kids have come from a flood. Some of them are just citizens of Pakistan dealing with these issues on a pretty regular basis.
(voice-over): Killer water -- just consider the impact: already a million people with crippling diarrhea or respiratory infections; malaria, 65,000 cases. And the World Health Organization projecting hundreds of thousands of patients with cholera, dysentery and typhoid.
Pakistan could literally be held hostage by killer water, and all of this disproportionately affecting Pakistan's next generation, like little 3-year-old Fayez (ph).
(on camera): Check little things to see how dehydrated they are. Push on the tips of their fingers, and blood doesn't really come back very quickly -- so dehydrated. He has a very weak pulse, as well. His poor little mouth is so dry. But he's in the right place. He's one of the lucky ones.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Karachi, Pakistan.
COOPER: And that's our report tonight. Thanks for watching. Have a safe holiday weekend. We'll see you back on Monday, on Labor Day. See you then.