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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Hate Radio & Martin Luther King Jr.; Interview With Stevie Wonder; Sarah Palin Speaks Out on Arizona Shootings; Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' Condition Improving
Aired January 17, 2011 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. Thanks for watching.
Tonight, "Keeping Them Honest": Why is a school board member in Colorado broadcasting attacks on a radio station against Martin Luther King Jr. on today, of all days? He's been doing it for weeks, several times a day. Did he know the words he's been using come directly from a white supremacist? We're "Keeping Them Honest."
Also tonight: Sarah Palin speaking out, her first TV interview since the shooting in Tucson. She was attacked for her rhetoric -- now what she's saying in response.
And tonight's "Big 360 Interview," Stevie Wonder joins me. I'm going to talk to Stevie about how he helped turn Martin Luther King Jr. -- Jr. Day into a reality and what he thinks Dr. King would say about the state of this country today.
We begin, though, as we do every night, "Keeping Them Honest," with a Colorado school board member who seems intent on attacking Martin Luther King Jr. on this, the very day we all pause to honor him and his achievements. It's happening in the town of Greeley, Colorado.
For the last two weeks, twice a day, an elected official, a school board member, no less, who also owns a small radio station has been broadcasting attacks on Martin Luther King Jr., calling him everything from a degenerate to a communist.
The school board official's name is Brett Reese. That's him. And he insists he's repeatedly broadcasting the rant against Martin Luther King because he believes in free speech and wants to promote critical thinking and debate. He's reading what he says is a letter he received three years ago.
Now, we're not going to play you all of the rambling details of what this letter says. Some of it is true, but a lot of it is just unsubstantiated claims and false charges.
But we are going to play you just a few sentences just to give you an idea what Mr. Reese is broadcasting about Martin Luther King Jr.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) BRETT REESE, GREELEY, COLORADO, SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER: He's not a legitimate reverend. He's not a bona fide Ph.D. And his name is not really Martin Luther King Jr.
What's left? Just a sexual degenerate, an American-hating communist, and a criminal betrayer of even the interests of his own people.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: So, what's pretty interesting about this broadcast is where the content of the letter comes from, those words that he's speaking.
You see, it turns out that the letter that Reese has been reading on air was taken directly from the writings of a white supremacist, or a Western racial nationalist, as he calls himself. His name is Kevin Alfred Strom. That's a picture of him. According to a local newspaper, he's also a man convicted of one count of child pornography, for which he served time in prison.
Now, Mr. Reese told the same local paper he's never met Strom or talked with him, and that he was unaware he was broadcasting the rants of a white supremacist. But the end of the letter directs listeners to a Web site sponsored by a white supremacist group. And Mr. Reese was reading that to his listeners. Now he says he didn't realize that's what the Web site was, and, once he did, he took that part of the letter out of the broadcast.
Now, if Mr. Reese was just a shock jock, a guy on the radio trying to get attention, we wouldn't even mention any of this. But let's remember, he's an elected school board member.
The board has issued a statement saying Reese doesn't reflect the beliefs of the board or the school district and that the board finds his actions to be inflammatory.
Reese says he has received threats and started carrying a gun, but, according to the local paper, his concealed weapons permit has now been revoked after he left the general manager of a rival radio station this voice-mail. Listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REESE: I give you by the end of the day today to pull all of these salespeople off of my sponsors, or we're going to have a -- a shoot-out. Uh, got off then after that, Justin. I wanted to let you know a shoot-out for the sponsors.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: A shoot-out for the sponsors, he said.
Now, the local paper reports the radio station manager got a temporary restraining order against Reese because of that voice-mail. Now, none of the attacks Mr. Reese is broadcasting about Martin Luther King Jr. are new, frankly. There's nothing original here. Remember, the FBI, under J. Edgar Hoover, devoted huge resources to bugging and tracking Dr. King in attempts to discredit him. They failed.
When the federal holiday for King was being debated in 1983 -- in 1983, Republican Senator Jesse Helms handed out a 300-page document about King's alleged communist connections.
Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan threw it on the ground and called it filth. Jesse Helms, J. Edgar Hoover, this guy Brett Reese, they all attacked the man, Dr. Martin Luther King.
What none of them seemed to understand is that -- that -- that what made Dr. King's accomplishments so remarkable is that he was just a man, an all-too-human being, he made mistakes, he had personal failings, and yet he was able to do what so many other men and women could not do. He helped give a movement its direction. He helped give a people its voice.
Mr. Reese agreed to come on the program tonight, but, the more we thought about it, frankly, we decided not to give him any more airtime, dredging up the same old points about Martin Luther King Jr.'s flaw as a human being.
And some of them are true, some of them not. It doesn't change who he was in our history. It doesn't change what he gave us all. It doesn't change the dream.
Just moments ago, I spoke to Bryan Wright, the principal of the Greeley West High School, and Professor Eddie Glaude Jr., chair of African-American studies at Princeton University.
COOPER: Principal Wright, when you first heard Mr. Reese reading this letter over and over on the radio, what did you think?
BRYAN WRIGHT, PRINCIPAL, GREELEY WEST HIGH SCHOOL: Well, I first thought that this can't be real. I thought, wow, that's a surprise...
COOPER: You have met him, right?
WRIGHT: ... in this day and age to see -- hear that response.
COOPER: I mean, you know him?
WRIGHT: Yes, sir, I do know him. And the meetings we had were -- were pleasant at that time. So, needless to say, it was -- it caught me by surprise to see Mr. Reese speaking about Dr. King in -- in his messages.
COOPER: Professor Glaude, none of these things are new. These are smears which have been said for years.
EDDIE GLAUDE JR., AFRICAN-AMERICAN STUDIES CHAIR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Yes, we have heard them before. We heard them during King's lifetime, and we them -- heard these sorts of argument in the context of the debate around the legislation to establish the holiday.
We see it in the congressional record. That's all we have to do, is look at the October 3, 1983, remarks of Senator -- the late Senator Jesse Helms, where he sought to establish King as a communist sympathizer through his liaisons or relationships with Stanley Levison and Bayard Rustin. So, this is kind of an old argument that we -- we have encountered before.
COOPER: It's also something -- I mean, when you look at the resources that the FBI, under J. Edgar Hoover devoted to tracking King, to -- to tape-recording and bugging rooms, it's extraordinary what -- the -- the amount of resources they put into this.
I mean, one of the things we do know that came out of the civil rights movement, that came out of Watergate was the extent of civilian, shall we say, FBI involvement in -- in -- in -- in channeling, in -- in -- in covering everyday ordinary citizens.
And so what we see is the counterintelligence program that led to an enormous amount of surveillance of everyday ordinary people in their efforts to, shall we say, struggle for freedom. So, King bore the brunt of -- of -- of J. Edgar Hoover's, shall we say, paranoia in this regard.
COOPER: Mr. Wright, have -- have students come up to you? I mean, I know you don't have a large African-American student population, but have students come up to you about these broadcasts, said anything?
WRIGHT: Students have asked me questions regarding, what's my opinion on this? And my opinion is still the same. Every American has a right to form their opinion, whatever that opinion may be.
However, even though every American has shortcomings, we all have an opportunity to be great in whatever we do. So, there's no reason to lessen the impact of Dr. King, even though he may have had one or two shortcomings.
Some Americans will be successful because of their shortcomings. So, when I hear my students, we talk about some of the positive things that we can continue doing, such as like an ethnic festival performing in our school in a couple of weeks to celebrate all cultures.
COOPER: Professor Glaude, it's interesting, because, I mean, to me, what's so remarkable about Dr. King is the fact that he was a human being and a man and with failings, as everybody has, and yet he was able to accomplish things that others couldn't.
So, I mean, it seems to miss the larger point here. Focusing on, you know, some foibles he might have had or personal failings he might have had, it -- it doesn't -- it -- it fails to -- to really capture -- in fact, I mean, that's what makes him such an extraordinary person.
GLAUDE: Right. We never know when history's going to choose us to exhibit courage, to exhibit the virtues of a willingness to sacrifice ourselves in the name of justice.
I mean, one of the things we need to ask ourselves is, what was communist-inspired about what Dr. King was doing? Is equality under the law for African-Americans communist-inspired? Was the fact that we didn't want separate but equal communist-inspired? Was the fact that we wanted the nation to live up to its ideals to become a more perfected union, was that communist-inspired?
So, we need to begin to interrogate, shall we say, the motivation behind these notions. And one of the things that Dr. King insisted was that we expand our moral imaginations. We heard President Obama invoke our moral imaginations in the context of the Tucson tragedy.
And what -- what Dr. King insisted that we do was to expand our horizons, to think beyond ourselves. And what we have to resist in these moments in which there's so much insecurity, so much uncertainty around us, we have to resist those efforts to drag us down to our baser selves, and we have to reach for a higher self. And I think Dr. King represents that example for us.
COOPER: Principal Wright, to -- to -- I mean, do you agree with that?
WRIGHT: Not only do I agree with it, but I echo his sentiments entirely.
The best way to -- for us to -- to lead our children is to -- through education. You asked the question earlier, what do my students believe, what's happening? The best thing for us to do is to educate our children on what is right and what is wrong and what we -- what we feel, and let them to express their own opinions, get their own beliefs, and get them started.
COOPER: Principal Wright, what's been the reaction in the community to -- to these radio broadcasts?
WRIGHT: In the community, it's been one of outrage.
You know, Greeley -- Greeley, Colorado is a fine city. For my family and I, we're one of the 3 percent to 4 percent of the population that's African-American, yet my family has felt nothing but warmth and kindness from the people there.
They are opposed, quite frankly, that they have to be generalized in some way that they are -- something wrong with the city itself because of a -- a single man's opinion.
Now, Mr. Reese is entitled to his opinion. However, if it misleads others to believe that this city is in some way wrong, then I think that's -- I think that is -- itself is a problem that we need to face. I just think that's inappropriate in -- in itself.
But the bottom line is that he's entitled to his opinion, but it should not reflect the opinions of all those fine people in that city.
COOPER: A local paper, I know, suggested he step down from the school board. He can't be removed from the school board. He -- he actually -- I mean, he has a vote on whether you keep your job or not, right, Principal?
WRIGHT: Well, that's where the uncomfort -- the discomfort lies.
As an African-American male, I can accept his opinion and say, oh, that's fine; Mr. Reese is entitled to that opinion. As an African-American principal who is in that district, there is a discomfort, that this gentleman has a -- a say-so on whether I keep my position or not, not based on merit, based on the -- my race or the color of my skin. And that does cause me some concern.
COOPER: Principle Bryan Wright, I appreciate you being with us, and -- and Professor Eddie Glaude as well. Thank you so much.
GLAUDE: Thank you.
WRIGHT: Thank you very much.
COOPER: Well, coming up later, Stevie Wonder is tonight's "Big 360 Interview." He talks extensively about his role in helping to establish today's holiday. But I also asked him specifically about the radio broadcasts against Dr. King.
And here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVIE WONDER, MUSICIAN: Everyone has a right to their opinion.
But, if you -- truly believe that you want to see a better world, a better place, a coming together of people, you cannot have that place in your spirit where you have to -- to do that. I mean, how can you, in one breath, talk about your love for God and understand that God made us all in his image, and, with another breath, talk about hating somebody?
You know, but, then again, we know that God takes care of babies and fools.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: "Babies and fools."
More from Stevie Wonder later in the program.
You can join the chat right now at AC360.com. Still ahead tonight: Eight days after she was shot through the heat, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords continues to amaze her doctors. They're now talking about when she could leave the hospital -- those details on that ahead.
And Sarah Palin's interview first interview since the Tucson shootings -- a new poll showing her response to the tragedy isn't getting good marks from Americans. Did she help her case tonight? We will play you parts of her interview ahead.
COOPER: Well, there's more good news tonight about Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Her condition has been upgraded from critical to serious just eight days after she was shot.
What's more, her doctors say she could be released from the hospital, sent to a rehabilitation center in a matter of days or weeks. They're not clear yet.
Six people, of course, were killed in the Tucson shootings. Just a short time ago, Sarah Palin gave her first interview since the shootings. In a moment, we're going to show you what she told Sean Hannity on FOX News.
But, first, I just want to remind you of the backstory here. Almost as soon as the shootings were reported, even before anyone had a clear idea of the alleged shooter's motivations, the accusations started flying online. And, remember, there was no evidence at the time about a political motive for the shooter, other than some Internet postings he made about currency.
On The Huffington Post, Gary Hart wrote about overheated attacks on liberals and concluded that -- quote -- "Today, we have seen the results of this rhetoric."
The founder of the liberal blog Daily Kos went further. He tweeted: "Mission accomplished, Sarah Palin" -- his tweet linked to this map that Palin posted on her Facebook page during the midterm elections, crosshair marks marking districts where Democratic seats were in play, including Congresswoman Giffords' district.
So, criticism was flying. Just hours after the Tucson shooting, Palin wrote this in a Facebook post -- quote -- "My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today's tragic shooting in Arizona. On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for their victims and their families and for peace and justice" -- Sarah Palin.
That message didn't stop her critics, though. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "COUNTDOWN WITH KEITH OLBERMANN")
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST, "COUNTDOWN WITH KEITH OLBERMANN": And if Sarah Palin, whose Web site put and today's scrubbed bullseye targets on 20 representatives, including Gabby Giffords, does not repudiate her own part, however tangential, in amplifying violence and violent imagery in American politics, she must be dismissed from politics. She must be repudiated by the members of her own party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And here was Senator Dick Durbin a day later.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: The phrase don't retreat, reload,, putting crosshairs on congressional districts as targets, these sorts of things, I think, invite the kind of toxic rhetoric that can lead unstable people to believe this is an acceptable response.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, over the next couple of days, Palin kept silent. But four days after the shooting, she struck back at her critics. Through Facebook, in an eight-minute-long video, she presented herself as a victim and then threw this punch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits shouldn't manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence that they purport to condemn.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, Palin's choice of words, using the historically anti-Semitic term blood libel, set off a new round of criticism. As you might imagine, even some Republicans who felt Palin had been unfairly bashed expressed dismay over the tone.
And here's what a new ABC News/"Washington Post" poll found. Just 30 percent of Americans approve of the way Palin responded to the Tucson shootings, compared with 78 percent who approved of how President Obama responded.
Now, those numbers may explain why Sarah Palin sat down tonight with Sean Hannity.
Again, let's just point out there is no evidence that Ms. Palin had any influence on alleged shooter Jared Loughner.
Joining me now, Democratic strategist Cornell Belcher, who was a pollster for the Obama campaign, also Dana Loesch, Tea Party organizer and Saint Louis radio host.
Cornell, I want to play you some of the -- the -- the -- the conversation between Sarah Palin and Sean Hannity. It's her first questions since -- since the Tucson shooting tonight. Let's just play part of what she had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FOX NEWS CHANNEL) PALIN: Knowing that that had absolutely nothing to do with an apolitical...
SEAN HANNITY, HOST, "HANNITY": Yes.
PALIN: ... or perhaps even left-leaning criminal who killed these innocents and -- and injured so many, I didn't have a problem with it being taken down, if, in fact, it actually has been taken down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Has she been unfairly painted here?
CORNELL BELCHER, FORMER OBAMA CAMPAIGN POLLSTER: Well, I don't know if she's been unfairly painted. I know that this has not been a good couple of weeks for her.
I mean, she has shrunk herself -- she's shrunken herself as -- as -- sort of as a national political leader after this incident. I mean, and the -- and the "Washington Post" poll shows that. The problem, I think, for Republicans now is this, is that the most vocal, you know, well-known voice in the Republican Party right now is a reality TV host star who continues to shrink in the eye -- in the eyes of -- in the eyes of the public.
And I think what you're going to see over the next, you know, couple months here is -- and you are already starting to see some of it -- is the Republican establishment lining up trying to put her in a box.
And I think sort of the contrast between her and Barack Obama over the Tucson incident sort of, you know, really puts front and center some of the contrast here. And it's not a good contrast for the GOP.
I think you're going to continue to see the GOP establishment try to put her in a box, because this woman cannot be the most vocal, most familiar face of the Republican Party, because she's clearly not someone who's trying to be a national leader. She's speaking to a very specific constituency of her -- of -- of her base.
This was an opportunity for Sarah Palin to be bigger and for her to broaden her base. And she's not doing that by going on "Hannity." She is not -- she didn't -- she didn't turn 15 people who work for her for her by going on "Hannity."
If you're going to be a national, broad-based leader, you have got to reach out, and you have got to reach out to that middle swathe of America. And she's -- and she's -- and she's just not doing that.
COOPER: Dana, I want to play for you the -- the -- the -- what she said about the whole blood libel thing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FOX NEWS CHANNEL)
PALIN: That term has been used for eons, Sean. So...
PALIN: ... again, it was part of that double standard thing, and goes back to, if it weren't for those double standards, what standards would they have, I suppose.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I mean, she -- she seems unwilling to -- to apologize or back off about -- of anything. Do you think she's fair on that?
DANA LOESCH, EDITOR, BIGJOURNALISM.COM: I do think that she's fair on that, Anderson, because it's -- this is exactly what you have.
We have a Tea Party organizer that received a death threat because of all -- you want to talk about rhetoric -- because of all of the things that are being said about conservatives and being said about Tea Partiers and Sarah Palin.
And I don't think that she applied the term incorrectly. And I don't think that it is just inherent to one particular group of people. This term is a common term. I have seen it used exponentially. In fact, she cited in this interview that it was used in a "Wall Street Journal" article just two days prior to this incident.
So, Alan Dershowitz himself has admitted that he's used this term many times. So, it's not as though this is like a -- a newfangled term that she used, and it's -- it's causing offense. This is a common term.
COOPER: Cornell, do you agree with that?
BELCHER: Dana, I just can't -- I can't let her off the hook that easily. I mean, I have got to think that, strategically, she knew what she was doing.
I mean, she comes in with her grievance politics and then she plays the victim, and then she sort of wraps it all up in -- in...
LOESCH: She was defending...
BELCHER: ... in what we know as an anti-Semitic slur. I mean, I -- I just have a hard time letting her off...
LOESCH: This wasn't anti-Semitic. What she was talking about...
BELCHER: ... off the hook on that.
LOESCH: ... is saying that there was -- there was the use of a term that says that people have blood on her -- on their hands. Did you listen to the interview? She laid it out clearly. I don't know how anyone in their right mind can say that this term was inaccurately used. I honestly don't. I -- I question whether we heard the same interview.
BELCHER: Well -- well -- well, there's -- there's -- there's plenty of people -- there's plenty of people of the Jewish faith who tend to think differently and understand this as a historical...
LOESCH: Who defended her using that term.
BELCHER: ... as a historical slur again -- against -- against their people. And I -- and I take their word on it. I think this was strategic on her part.
LOESCH: It wasn't a slur against Jews.
And I find interesting that a lot of people who have -- who have actually been against Israel and who have been against Jewish settlements are suddenly finding themselves sympathetic to the Jews.
BELCHER: Here's -- here's the bottom line. When -- when the -- Jewish organization after Jewish organization comes out and say, this is a -- this is a slur, a -- a racial slur against -- against Jewish people...
LOESCH: And there's been a ton of Jewish organizations that have defended her.
BELCHER: You know what? I'm -- I'm -- I'm going to...
LOESCH: Why do you discount those?
BELCHER: Dana, I don't think there's been a ton of Jewish organizations that have been defending her.
LOESCH: No, no, no. I think that's disingenuous, Cornell. That's disingenuous,
COOPER: Wait. Wait. Not -- not both at the same time.
Cornell, just finish your thought.
LOESCH: No, no, no.
BELCHER: Well -- well, OK, OK. Anderson, you're -- you're keeping everyone honest.
Let's line up the people, the Jewish organizations that have come out and said this is a racial slur, and let's line up the Jewish organizations that say that -- that this is not a racial slur, and let's see where that falls. Let's keep -- let's keep us honest on this. LOESCH: If it means that much to you, instead of actually focusing attention on those who were shot and focusing on the -- the lack of discussion surrounding the fact that we have...
COOPER: But -- but, Dana, couldn't -- I mean, wouldn't...
BELCHER: No, you can't play that. That's -- that's a -- that's a nice little spin game, but the question...
LOESCH: Oh, wait a minute, so, standard...
BELCHER: ... but the question was about -- well, the question was about this...
LOESCH: ... for thee, but not for me?
BELCHER: ... the -- the question about this -- but the question was about this racial -- about this racial slur. Of course this is about -- about...
BELCHER: ... who was shot.
LOESCH: The question is about you cherry-picking which Jewish groups you're going to listen to.
COOPER: But -- but why...
BELCHER: Well, no, you say all these Jewish groups are lining up and supporting her. Let's line them up and let's take a look at them. Let's keep them honest.
COOPER: Dana, why not -- why not just say, well, look, if people are offended by this, I -- I'm sorry, you know, that -- that this is not how I meant the term, I -- I -- I didn't think it should be used in this?
It -- it -- I mean, she rarely -- I have never -- I don't think I have really heard her ever back off of anything she's done, and whether it's the -- you know, the -- the crosshairs on the districts, whether or not you believe they're surveyor symbols, as -- as her campaign is now saying.
I mean, do -- do you think she should be -- say at -- at some point, just, you know, I'm sorry about this, if somebody interpreted it that way, or do you think she has nothing to be apologetic about?
LOESCH: I really side -- and I -- and I side with Alan Dershowitz and many others who have come out saying that this was -- they don't find this to be an incendiary term. And -- and neither do I.
The true test of an analogy isn't how colorful the language is, but whether or not it's accurate. And, in this case, it was accurately applied. And I -- I think it's just a little bit ironic that people would find offense over the fact that this term was used, and not be offended over the fact that you have hundreds of thousands, if not over a million, private citizens who were absolutely persecuted without any evidence because of this tragedy.
I still have yet to hear any apology from anyone who came out saying that, oh, well, it was a Tea Party person, or it was Sarah Palin who did it, or it was Glenn Beck or any number of people. But, instead, they're trying to get Sarah Palin on a term that, really, I think they're trying to scrounge offense for.
BELCHER: Dana, I don't think -- Dana, I don't think -- you know, that term aside, you -- you know, just trying to be all -- in all -- all fairness and all...
LOESCH: Cornell, have you been called a murderer because of Arizona? Because I have.
BELCHER: ... and -- and all honesty -- in all fairness and...
BELCHER: ... all honesty, I -- I -- you know, that -- that term aside, the way Sarah -- Sarah Palin had an opportunity to come out and be bigger this -- this past week, and she didn't. And I think the polling shows that she didn't. She got stuck in grievance, victimization politics...
LOESCH: Yes, let's talk about polling, HCD Research.
BELCHER: ... which is -- which is -- which is not something that you want from your national leaders. She got smaller this week, as opposed -- as opposed to bigger. And I think a lot of people, including...
LOESCH: Oh, no, no, no, no.
BELCHER: ... inside of your party, are going to have a hard time taking her seriously...
BELCHER: ... as a national leader.
COOPER: Dana, I want to give you the final thought, but briefly, because we have got to go.
LOESCH: Media Curves just came out with a study that shows that, actually, the majority of Americans found Sarah Palin to be more sympathetic after her remarks over the -- the -- her remarks over the Tucson shootings.
So, I mean, people can take that for what it's worth. But bottom line is, no one's going to be happy with anything Sarah Palin says, until she puts her head on a platter and offers it -- and offers it up. That's the bottom line.
BELCHER: That's ridiculous.
COOPER: Dana Loesch, Cornell Belcher, difference of opinion. I appreciate your discussing it. Thanks very much.
Still ahead tonight: Apple CEO Steve Jobs making a shocking announcement. We will tell you that in a moment.
And the one and only Stevie Wonder joins me for tonight's "Big 360 Interview." We talk about why it was so important for him to be involved in the creation of the federal holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WONDER: ... felt it was appropriate for us to have a national holiday to acknowledge the lives of -- of Dr. King and those like him that really represented the fabric of what the United States is all about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Still to come, the one and only Stevie Wonder, tonight's "Big 360 Interview." We talked to him about the importance of celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Stevie Wonder helped make this national holiday happen. But first, here are some other of tonight's big other stories. Isha Sesay joins us tonight and, I'm happy to announce, every night with the "360 Bulletin."
Isha, thanks so much for being with us.
ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Anderson.
Now, Apple CEO Steve Jobs is taking another medical leave of absence. He announced his move in a letter to Apple employees, but did not reveal his condition. Jobs battled pancreatic cancer in 2003, and he had a liver transplant during a leave of absence in 2009.
One of the victims of the Tucson shootings has apologized for shouting to a Tea Party leader, quote, "You are dead." James Eric Fuller's outburst came at a town-hall meeting on Saturday when the Tea Party rep was speaking about gun control. Fuller was taken to a mental-health facility for evaluation.
Today, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was given about 2,000 secret Swiss banking records by a Swiss banker who calls himself an activist and a reformer. The records are on two disks and may contain information about possible illegal banking activity. Assange said he expects to post them on WikiLeaks in a matter of weeks.
And Anderson, police in Missouri spent Sunday afternoon picking up mail along an interstate. The back door of a tractor-trailer carrying mail for the U.S. Postal Service popped open, scattering hundreds of pieces along a 17-mile stretch.
SESAY: I think I can safely say, there were folks hoping that their bills from their Christmas shopping had flown out, never to be seen again.
COOPER: Probably so. Yes, probably so.
I don't know if you saw this over the weekend, Isha. But I was on "Saturday Night Live" this weekend. I had a small role in an "SNL" digital short, which is created by Andy Samberg and Pee-wee Herman. We thought it might give you folks something to smile about. So here it is in tonight's "Shot."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDY SAMBERG, CAST MEMBER, NBC'S "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Can I have a beer, please?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got it.
SAMBERG: Excuse me. You know what time it is?
PAUL REUBENS, PLAYING PEE-WEE HERMAN: Time for you to get a watch.
SAMBERG: Pee-wee Herman, awesome. Oh, my gosh. I'm such a big fan.
REUBENS: I know you are, but what am I?
SAMBERG: You got to let me buy you a drink.
REUBENS: Well, I usually stick with milk. But I guess just this once.
SAMBERG: Awesome. Excuse me, bartender, shots.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drink, drink, drink, drink.
REUBENS: Two more, please.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drink, drink, drink.
REUBENS: Two more!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More drink, more drink, more drink.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tequila!
(MUSIC: "TEQUILA") REUBENS: This is the best night of my life, Andy.
SAMBERG: Hey, look, it's Anderson Cooper.
REUBENS: You want to play a prank on him?
COOPER: Hey, Andy. How's it going?
SAMBERG: Hey, can I ask you a question? Do you know Barbara Walters?
SAMBERG: You guys ever hook up or...
COOPER: Is that a joke?
REUBENS: Oh, Anderson, here's a headline.
REUBENS: What seems to be the problem, ocifer?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You boys been drinking tonight?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to have to give you a breathalyzer test, when I say blow...
SAMBERG: I had one drink.
REUBENS: Oh, Ocifer, here's a headline.
Did you see the look on that pig's face?
SAMBERG: He got wrecked.
Hey, what are you guys doing here?
FRED ARMISEN, CAST MEMBER, NBC'S "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": This is an intervention, Andy.
REUBENS: What's the big problem? He's just trying to have some fun.
KRISTEN WIIG, CAST MEMBER, NBC'S "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": He's not the only one with a problem, Pee-wee. Your friends are here too.
REUBENS: Chairy? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pee-wee.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're a b-b-b-b-bad influence on each other.
SAMBERG: We're not.
COOPER: Oh, really?
REUBENS: Hey, Anderson.
COOPER: You almost hit me in the eye. Do you know what would happen if I lost these eyes? They're a national treasure.
SAMBERG: They are.
REUBENS: You'd be blind. That would be terrible.
ARMISEN: You guys can't hang out together any more. Why don't you take a moment and say good-bye?
Good-bye, Andy. It was fun while it lasted. And even though you're a bad influence, you're a great friend.
SAMBERG: I know you are. But what am I?
REUBENS: The son of a bitch stole my line.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're cured.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hooray!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's celebrate by doing some shots.
This is great.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) off of me.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: There you go.
SESAY: Now, what's this I hear about you and Pee-pee Herman being BFF's?
COOPER: Yes, he's really cool. It was really fun to hang out with him, and I think he suggested I'm the one -- that I be in this digital short, so I was really excited.
SESAY: No bow ties.
COOPER: I'm not going to go there. So Isha, it's good to have you on the program every night from now on. So we're happy to have you. Thank you.
SESAY: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: Up next, in the "Big 360 Interview," I asked Stevie Wonder how he thinks Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would feel about the deep social and political divisions in the country today.
And the former dictator of Haiti, Jean-Paul Duvalier, known as Baby Doc, has returned to Haiti after 25 years in exile. No one's exactly clear why. John Zarrella is there. We'll try to get some answers.
COOPER: January 1986, 25 years ago this month, was the first time there was a federal holiday marking the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Supporters and opponents fought over the legislation for years. After all, Dr. King was assassinated back in 1968.
President Jimmy Carter favored the creation of the holiday, but it was President Ronald Reagan who signed it into law in 1983.
One man who actively pushed for MLK Day is Stevie Wonder. In 1980, he created a song called "Happy Birthday" which had an immediate impact on supporters and sort of became an anthem for them. Here's part of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVIE WONDER, SINGER (singing): And we all know everything that he stood for in time would bring for in peace our hearts will sing thanks to Martin Luther King. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Earlier I had a chance to talk to Stevie Wonder for tonight's "Big 360 Interview."
COOPER: Stevie, you were instrumental in getting Martin Luther King Jr. Day observed as a federal holiday. It wasn't observed until 25 years ago. Why was it so important for you to get that passed?
WONDER: First of all, happy King Day to you and to all of America.
My reason for wanting this to become a reality is because, for the most part, all of the people throughout the state of Michigan, even before it was -- even before a national holiday, acknowledged the day as being a day that we celebrated and honored Dr. King. Along with that, we honored all of those who lived and those who -- who lived and died for those principles.
And so I just felt it was appropriate for us to have a national holiday to acknowledge the lives of Dr. King and those like him that really represented the fabric of what the United States was all about, the Constitution.
COOPER: I think a lot of people don't -- maybe -- a kind of new generation of kids don't realize how difficult it was to get this passed as a federal holiday. I mean, you and Coretta Scott King, I mean, you fought for this for years.
WONDER: I said to her, you know, "I had a dream about this song. And I imagined in this dream I was doing this song. We were marching to -- with petition signs to make for Dr. King's birthday to become a national holiday."
And she was excited about it. And she said, you know, "I wish you luck, you know. We're in a time where I don't think it's going to happen."
I said, "Well, no, I really believe it will." And so our first march was in 1981, and we had another one in '82, '83. And then ultimately the bill was signed by President Reagan.
COOPER: For you, what do you want young people to know about Dr. King, about what he was trying to get across about his message?
WONDER: I think -- first of all, that he was for economic, social and civil justice for everyone. He spoke of finding solutions nonviolently, and as well, he believed in a place of peace that had to exist between all people of this country. We can disagree without feeling that we have to spew words of bitterness, of hatred. I mean, that doesn't represent a place of unity.
COOPER: Even on this day, though, you know, we're seeing signs of disunity, I guess you could say. We started off this program tonight with a story about an elected member of a Colorado school board who also has a radio station. And he's been reading a letter or writings of an alleged neo-Nazi today against Dr. King, calling him an American-hating communist and other stuff that, frankly, folks have called Dr. King for years.
What does -- what does it tell you about, that even in this day and age on this day there's folks spreading that kind of message?
WONDER: I think that everyone has a right to their opinion. But if you -- if you truly believe that you want to see a better world, a better place, a coming together of people, you cannot have that place in your spirit where you have to do that.
I mean, how can you in one breath talk about your love for God and understand that God made us all in his image, and with another breath talk about hating somebody? We know -- then again, we know that God takes care of babies and fools.
COOPER: God takes care of babies and fools? That's nice.
I want to switch gears just a little bit and ask you about President Obama and the first lady. It's actually Michelle Obama's birthday today. And the president...
WONDER (singing): Happy birthday to you.
COOPER: Go ahead. I don't want to interrupt Stevie Wonder. Are you kidding?
WONDER: No, no. That's OK.
COOPER: Well, the president...
WONDER: Happy birthday to you.
COOPER: The president, Sasha and Malia honored her by singing your version of "Happy Birthday." I just want to play some of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(MUSIC: STEVIE WONDER'S "HAPPY BIRTHDAY")
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I think they could have used a little of your help today singing that.
WONDER: No, they sounded far better than Stevie Wonder.
COOPER: It's funny, though. The president's actually said, were he not a Stevie Wonder fan, he said, and I quote, "Michelle might not have dated me."
WONDER: Well, I'm glad that he was a Stevie Wonder fan -- is a Stevie Wonder fan, and I'm glad that she dated him. She's a very wonderful woman, and they both have great spirits.
COOPER: What do you think Dr. King would make of the divisions that we see in this country today? Political divisions, social divisions, economic divisions?
WONDER: I believe that obviously he would acknowledge the things that have happened for the good, but obviously, in a time where so much more could have happened, there would be a place of disappointment. I think that when you have a situation where guns are far too accessible to people and people make the excuse that, listen, because they have a gun I need a gun, and all the crazy people have guns, so therefore it just goes on and on and on. That's a very sad definition of moving forward.
I'm hoping that people who are communicators will use their voices more to lift people up than bring them down.
COOPER: Stevie Wonder, I appreciate you being with us tonight. I look forward to seeing you again.
WONDER: I thank you very much.
COOPER: Programming note we're excited about here at 360. Over the coming months, we're going to be working with Stevie Wonder on a project that's going to culminate in a special that we're going to air around the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington in August. We'll have more details on that down the road.
Still ahead tonight, last night's Golden Globes awards, there were winners, losers, and there was host Ricky Gervais. Some people think he was hilarious. Others thought he went too far. I personally thought it was hilarious.
And if you're in need of a caffeine fix but a large cup of iced coffee isn't enough, fear not. Starbucks is adding a whole new super- sized drink to their menu. It's also serving up the latest edition to our "RidicuList." We'll tell you ahead.
COOPER: Tonight a "360 Follow-up" in Haiti. A surprise that's making a lot of people uneasy. After 25 years in exile, Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier has returned to Haiti. The former dictator arrived yesterday. It's unclear what he hopes to accomplish now that he's back in Port-au-Prince. This is the man whose family faced allegations of corruption, accusations they stole hundreds of millions of dollars from one of the neediest countries in the world.
His father was the brutal dictator known as Papa Doc Duvalier. Under their reign more than 60,000 Haitians were killed. Death squads roamed the country. After his father's death, Baby Doc and his glamorous wife Michelle basically used Haiti as their personal piggybank. A popular uprising forced the couple to flee to France in 1986.
Today Duvalier kept a low profile. A scheduled press conference was canceled at the last minute. John Zarrella is in Haiti. He joins us now.
John, he's been living in exile for the past 25 years. Do we know why he's back? JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, and that was the answer we had hoped to get today at that press conference. There were at least a hundred members of the press corps outside the hotel where he was holed up all day today. And then, of course, they came out and said, "Sorry, it's cancelled."
They're saying that tomorrow now, at 10 a.m. local time, Eastern Time, that he will hold a press conference, and we will get the answers to why he came back.
Now, I did talk to one of his political allies, long-time political allies, a man who says he grew up with Duvalier. He told me that Duvalier finally decided, after seeing all the horrible images of the earthquake damage and the aftermath, particularly this anniversary, that he decided he had to make a trip back. It was in his heart to come and talk to the people.
When I pressed him and I said how many days is he going to be here, this man would only say, "Well, you're going to have to leave that to Duvalier to tell you." Maybe only three days and he would leave.
COOPER: Seems questionable, though. I mean, obviously, there's huge turmoil there now with presidential elections. A number of candidates up for that. It seems, of all the times for his to return, this is a particularly volatile time for him. I don't know if that's a coincidence or not. Maybe we'll see more tomorrow.
But I mean, President Preval had said in the past that if Duvalier ever returned to Haiti, he'd be arrested for crimes he allegedly committed. Any indication that the state may try to arrest him?
ZARRELLA: You know, it's exactly right. And that statement was made back in 2007. We have it from a very reliable source that meetings were going on today, tonight, perhaps involving some government leaders, to try and figure out what their options might be. We assume that includes arrests. Although no one here seems to be wanting to use that word "arrest" right now.
But people did tell us that there are some in the country that are prepared now to go ahead and move ahead with trying to file some sort of charges against him.
The question is, can they get those charges filed in time before what he says is his scheduled departure in two or three days?
COOPER: John, you were on the ground when -- when Duvalier left back in '86. We're going to have more from you tomorrow once this press conference happens. John, appreciate it.
Still to come, Starbucks brewing up a new option for those who need a bigger caffeine kick. Like we all need more caffeine. First, Isha Sesay joins us again with another update, "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Isha. SESAY: Anderson, violence protests in the streets of Tunisia's capital again today, three days after that country's longtime ruler fled to Saudi Arabia. Tunisians are angry over poor living conditions, lack of jobs, government corruption, and repression.
Tunisia's prime minister is trying to form a new government.
The city with the second highest crime rate in the nation is laying off nearly half of its cops. Camden, New Jersey, officials say 163 police officers and 60 firefighters will lose their jobs to help to close a $26.5 million budget gap.
The wooly mammoth, extinct for thousands of years, could be brought back to life in six years. That's what a group of scientists from Japan, Russia and the U.S. hope to do, using cloning technology. They say they'll extract DNA from a mammoth carcass that's been preserved at a Russian lab and insert it into the egg cell of an African elephant in hopes of producing a baby mammoth.
And the big question in Hollywood: did Ricky Gervais go too far as host of last night's Golden Globes award. Nobody was safe from his jokes, which bordered on barbed. Anderson, some of you said he was too mean-spirited. Others, including some stars, thought he was hilarious. I...
COOPER: Some of the stars were -- I think some of the stars were annoyed, as well. He was pretty tough on some of them.
SESAY: You know what? I think it was too much.
COOPER: You do? You do?
SESAY: Yes, no. I prayed for Pee-wee Herman to put me out of my misery. Just knock me out, take away the pain.
COOPER: You thought he was too mean?
SESAY: I thought it was too mean. I thought you should know your audience. I felt that it was clear that right from the opening words he said, people weren't comfortable.
SESAY: And people don't want that kind of nastiness.
COOPER: I don't know.
SESAY: So he gets a thumbs down from me.
COOPER: I think the stars were uncomfortable. I think the folks at home maybe got more of a kick out of it. I don't know. We'll see.
SESAY: We'll see.
COOPER: We'll see if he's asked back. Time now for the "RidicuList." Tonight, who's thirsty? Because we're adding the trenta to the "RidicuList." The trenta is Starbucks' new super-sized drink, 31 -- count them -- 31 ounces of caffeine-y fun.
The giant cup of excess known as the trenta arrives in parts of the south tomorrow. Starbucks says it's going to be everywhere by May. Apparently, it's only for cold drinks like iced tea. You can't get the hot drinks in the new size, which is fine by me, frankly, because who wants a guy next to you in the subway spilling almost a quart of boiling hot coffee on you? And it's a trenta.
In any event, it's good news, because if there's one thing you can say about the coffee-ordering experience, it's that we really, really needed more options. You know what Paul Rudd said about it best in the new movie "Role Models."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I take your order?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I get a tall chai?
PAUL RUDD, ACTOR: And a large black coffee.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A what?
RUDD: A large black coffee.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you mean a venti?
RUDD: No, I mean large.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He means a venti. The biggest one you've got.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The venti is a large coffee.
RUDD: No, venti is venti. Large is large. In fact, tall is large, and grande is Spanish for large. Venti is the only one that doesn't mean large. It's also the only one that's Italian. Congratulations, you're stupid in three languages.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The (EXPLETIVE DELETED) venti is a large coffee.
RUDD: Really? Says who, Fellini?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here's the ten.
RUDD: Do you pay in lira?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Keep the change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's good.
It's not like Starbucks is alone in plus-sizing its products. Seven-eleven has the Big Gulp. And I guess every fast-food chain offers super-sized sodas. But does anyone really need 31 ounces of iced coffee at one time?
A Web site called the National Post points out that the trenta actually exceeds the capacity of the average stomach of an adult. The good news is, after you're done with your 31 ounces of iced coffee, you can use the empty trenta cup to do all kinds of fun projects. You can put thousands of sea monkeys in it. You can turn it into a terrarium. You can string two empty trenta cups together to make a phone. The possibility is really pretty much endless, kind of like the endless of iced coffee you just drank.
So I say bring on the trenta. It's the perfect size to quench the thirst of everyone who is so far on "The RidicuList."
Coming up, why a school-board member in Colorado is broadcasting attacks on the radio against Martin Luther King Jr. "Keeping Them Honest."