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SMERCONISH

Billionaires Behaving Badly; Clippers Owner In Hot Water After Alleged Racist Comments Released; Putin's Possible Riches; Monitoring Tornadic Weather In The Southeast; New Sanctions Against Russia

Aired April 28, 2014 - 21:00   ET

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


MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: Good evening. I'm Michael Smerconish.

We begin tonight with these words, billionaires behaving badly. Sounds like a newspaper headline about cavalier Wall Street cowboys during the height of the financial crisis a few years back. But I'm not talking about them. Topping tonight's list is Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling allegedly caught on audio tape making racist comments, disparaging remarks about blacks chastising his young mistress for posting an Instragram photo of himself, herself, and basketball legend Magic Johnson and saying a lot of other things. The reaction has been searing, even President Obama has weighed in.

But I'm not taking only about Don Sterling. There's news that Russian President Vladimir Putin may be rich, really rich as in super rich. On the front page of Sunday's New York Times, a report about the rumors, speculations, theories, maybe even some guesses that Putin may control assets worth $40 to $70 billion, assets so extensive that if true, he would the richest world leader in history.

Why should people care? Well, two reasons actually, many Russians believe their country is controlled by a political and financial elite that critics accuse of stealing the country's wealth for itself, the so called oligarchs, who move money out of the country and buy apartment in cities like New York for tens of millions of dollars.

Sitting atop that elite, Vladimir Putin. But ordinary Russians need to know that the credit rating of their country's sluggish economy has been cut to just about junk status by standard and poors. So, I want to ask White House Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken if these new sanctions announced today are designed to squeeze Putin's inner circle and expose his secret billions. How much does the U.S. really know about Putin's rumored wealth? And are these latest sanctions which would result of a continued threats to Ukraine's sovereignty really designed to hit him and his cronies in their own wallets?

As for that other billionaire behaving badly, Donald Sterling sure sounds like a jerk. I think we can all put that one to bed. But does his being a jerk mean that he should be kicked out of the NBA and force to sell the Clippers, a team that he's owned for more than three decades, for things that he may have said that he thought were private? That is, do we have a right to be stupid, and ignorant, and racist in our own private life without repercussions? I have a great lineup of guests. As we look at the story from numerous angles including talk show host Larry King, who's not only a basketball fan but knows Donald Sterling very well. So let's get started.

Let's get right to the comments allegedly made by Clippers owner Donald Sterling and what the NBA needs to do about this toxic situation for professional basketball. I'm joined by Tavis Smiley, PBS broadcaster and best selling author. And I want to start by playing some of the offending audio obtained by TMZ sports for those viewers who have yet to hear it.

(BEGIN AUDIO TAPE)

DONALD STERLING, OWNER, LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS: Yes. It bothers me a lot that you want to -- broadcast that you're associating with black people. Do you have to?

V. STIVIANO, DONALD STERLING'S GIRLFRIEND: You associate with black people.

STERLING: I'm not you, and you're not me. You're supposed to be a delicate white or a delicate Latina girl.

STIVIANO: I'm a mixed girl.

(END AUDIO TAPE)

SMERCONISH: Tavis thanks for being here. Is there any outcome, any acceptable outcome to this situation shy of him getting out of the NBA and relinquishing, selling control of the Clippers?

TAVIS SMILEY, PBS BROADCASTER AND AUTHOR: Always Michael, I want to leave some space for grace because we're all cracked vessels, none of is human and divine, we're just human. And I believe -- and I think most black people believe there's always room for redemption. Having said that, you know, the old ad is that is not the crime but it's the cover up. In this instance, it's not the slur, it's the spin. I don't know how Donald Sterling can hear this tape and still not come out and say it was him and offer an apology, a sincere apology.

How does his wife hear this tape and not know whether it's Donald Sterling. How do the Clipper organization listen to this tape and put out a press release suggesting that these are comments attributed to Donald Sterling. I don't get that. It's what some folks (ph) we've got to get to a place of having an admission, having a sincere apology, but I want to leave space again for people to be redeemed from their sins. I believe that if Donald Sterling wants to be made a better person, again, I don't believe in ever throwing (ph) any human being away but it has to start with an acknowledgment, an apology.

And the fact that we are days into this and he has not even acknowledged this, much less apologize for is quite frankly unacceptable.

SMERCONISH: Beyond an apology and shy of relinquishing control of the Clippers would be a fine. And even though a sum like $5 million would be unprecedented in the world of the NBA. For him to have -- it would be chump change.

SMILEY: It would in fact be chump change, and I believe that the only thing that a racial arsonist and a slumlord like Donald Sterling asking response to is being hit in his pocket, and that's why with all due respect to Doc Rivers and the Clippers, and I love these guys, I watch them, I'm rooting for them right now in the playoffs. I was a bit disappointed that the best they could do was to turn some jerseys inside out and put them at the half court.

SMERCONISH: Should they not have played?

SMILEY: Well, I think I would not have been in pity (ph) if they didn't play. Look at what Muhammad Ali did, look at what Bill Russell did, look at what, you know, what Curt Flood did, we could run the list of people who made a sacrifice. And again, when you're talking about a guy like Donald Sterling, that the only thing he response to is being hit in his pocket. And so, were the NBA tomorrow to announce that they're forcing him into selling, I suspect there might be some lawsuit on his part that he can't be forced to do that, I don't know all of their leeway that the NBA has, but I can tell you that this is one person who would not be offended necessarily if they forced him to selling that team.

This does not belong in our society and especially in a league. And there's as many African-American players as the NBA does and are supported by so many African-American consumers.

SMERCONISH: Tavis, stay right where you are and thank you for being here. I want to bring into the conversation Alice Hoffman, President of the California NAACP. And Alice, as you know, many people are scratching their heads wondering how is it that he was recognized for achievements in the past by the NAACP. And next month was set to be designated with yet another award.

ALICE HOFFMAN, PRESIDENT, CALIFORNIA NAACP: Well, let me set the record straight. First of all, it's the local branch, L.A. branch of the NAACP. It's not the entire family, not national, and not the state conference which I'm on and on the national board. We have 50 local branches or more here and 30 used units. And they have a lot of economy and they have relationships that we don't even know who was those relationships are and they make decisions, they all of our units that have these events give awards to various people that they have relationships with.

In my opinion, they did it in -- once before, that should have been enough because it was controversial then, but it didn't have the magnitude of visibility that this event has that we're all responding to. I said, we think it's a just poor judgment that they should have known not to do it again, that's a second time around. We all live from contributions in grant corporate American. That's how we survive, but we have to be careful about the money we take and we have to make sure that the color of the money does not taint us. And that we could still carry out our mission, we cannot sell out just to get the money. We have to have integrity in what we do and I think this was just a very poor judgment on my local branches we have. And I'm glad to say, finally made a statement that they're resenting (ph) the award.

SMERCONISH: And Alice Hoffman, you've anticipated my next question but I'm going ask it anyway. And I respect the fact that it was not the state wide entity but rather the Los Angeles Chapter. Is it your understanding that he became a major benefactor after his brushes with the law? We're now all familiar with the fact that in 2009 he paid $2.73 million to settle a civil suit that was brought by the Justice Department for alleged discrimination.

HOFFMAN: I can't believe that he didn't do it for some other reason then to contribute to the betterment of society after I've listened to his tapes. There is not way he was doing it to help African-Americans out because he doesn't like African-Americans. And we are a 104-year -- f105-year organization that we focus primarily on eliminating racism and discrimination. So it has have been for some other reasons because he doesn't even want black people coming into the game. So, I think -- I can't get inside of his head and know what's really going on. My best friends might know him better than I do, I don't know him at all. Don't care to know him, now. And so, I can't prejudge but I can just simply say, it's a mistake, that's money we should not take. SMERCONISH: And Tavis Smiley. Weigh in on this financial question because I know a lot of people -- and I think that Alice Hoffman has just set the records straight for all of us and I'm glad that she did that this was the Los Angeles Chapter, it was not the state wide entity, what do you think went on here?

SMILEY: I think Alice is right. It's poor judgment. He should never been honored in the first place particularly given this history that Alice has laid already. But she has brought about the fact that these organizations survived under contributions not of just the members. And I'm proud to be a lifetime member of the NAACP.

But they also survived on these contributions in corporate America. I quite frankly don't have a problem with that. There's so much money that corporate America makes off of the consumers spending of African- Americans that they ought to put money back in these organizations to help them do the kind of reparative work that needs to be done in our country around the most interactive issue that we know, the issue of racism, but Donald Sterling should never have been on the list to be added in the first place. He should not have taken all of this Michael.

SMERCONISH: Alice Hoffman, Tavis Smiley, thank you so much for joining us tonight.

Donald Sterling is not a household name to most Americans at least not before this weekend. One person who does know him personally, is Larry King, talk show host, extraordinaire, and NBA fan. Larry, it's a little odd for me to interview you, but it's a privilege for me to have you here. Does this comport with your knowledge or understanding of the man. I know that you've been in his company on many occasions.

LARRY KING, TALK SHOW HOST: First, Michael, you were always a great guest when I hosted in this time period for so many years. So it's good being on the other side.

SMERCONISH: Thank you.

KING: I know Donald Sterling for many years, I moved to Los Angeles 17 years ago. I guess I've known him all that time. I've been at his Malibu home. I've socialized with him at the games. I've seen him at breakfast and nothing surprises me although this was really over the top. You know, I'm -- I think it's aberrant to tape someone against their knowledge and it's a crime in California. That woman could be charged with a crime because you can't tape someone without them knowing it. However, once this came out, it's aberrant, there's no excuse for it, it's unforgiving, I wouldn't take a phone call from him. Doc Rivers refused to talk to him today, his own coach.

The league will make some decision tomorrow. I don't know the bylaws of the league, Michael. I don't know what they can do and can't do. I'm told that they can't find anyone for over a million dollars that will be, as you said, meaningless to Donald Sterling. It's just so sad and it comes in middle of the playoffs. I disagree with Tavis Smiley (inaudible) great deal. The Clippers should have played that game. You can't leave the NBA playoffs in the middle of -- with all these teams involved and having a great playoffs season. And all the fans of the Clippers, my kids has scheduled to go to the game tomorrow night, they may or may not go.

They may wear black. They don't know what to do. It's horrendous situation, terrible for the team, I'm a big fan of the team. Others like Billy Crystal has been a fan of the Clippers. Ever since they moved to Los Angeles from San Diego, will Billy go to the game tomorrow night? It's all in the quandary, it so just sad, I'm really sickened by it.

SMERCONISH: Larry, I want to make clear both of us. You speak for both of us when you say that the man apparently said something despicable for which there is zero defense. However, I'm glad you've brought up the woman and we don't know if she's the one who roll the taped. But I found it odd. I printed out the entire transcript and at the end of at least that portion which was revealed, she says, "I'm sorry. Is there anything that I can do to make you feel you better?" And I listening to this and I'm saying, you know, she is of some kind of mixed race and after what purports to be an hour long conversation where he says one ugly thing after another. Would she be apologizing to him and asking may I do anything to make you feel better? Read those T leaves for me if you can.

KING: Well, I guess is -- no one is very -- no one comes out good at this, she does not come out very good either. First, to the whole way she acted, obviously, she's setting him up. It would be stupid not to think that TMZ didn't pay for these tapes, that's what TMZ does. That's what these gossip mongers do. I don't have great respect for them either. But I think the sum in substance (ph) there have -- there's not a lot to be said for her. I don't understand the whole -- well, I assume it was in her house or in his house. That is Donald Sterling, I mean, the league will acknowledge that tomorrow. I know Donald Sterling, of course that's him. We have to keep saying alleged, but that's him. And -- but beyond that -- beyond her, beyond anything else. What he said overwhelms me. There's nothing I could imagine that could be -- I don't know where Donald Sterling -- I'll tell you Michael, where would Donald Sterling, could he go to dinner tonight? Can you go out? What's left of him that he has to sell -- the league has to take some action. Other leagues have taken action, the Dodgers, hey, the baseball -- Major League Baseball sent in someone to run the Dodgers, but the owner of the Dodgers was kept out, he was forced to sell, he did sell, he got over $2 billion, Frank McCourt didn't come up bad and anything McCourt did tales, tales in comparison to this story, tales (ph).

SMERCONISH: Larry, a treat for me to have you here, you look well and thank you.

KING: Thank you Michael. Thanks for the couple of minute (ph). You continue and good luck.

SMERCONISH: Thank you sir.

Is President Putin the richest world leader in history? That's what some reports are suggesting. And the newest sanctions maybe an effort to squeeze the associates keeping his money. We'll also go live to Mississippi where tornadoes are rocking that state just one day after twisters killed 16 in the Midwest. And more when we return on the fall out from the Clipper scandal, yes, Donald Sterling sounds like an ass, but if he sounded like jerk because he was being illegally recorded, who's in more trouble? Him or the person who taped him?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAGIC JOHNSON, NBA LEGEND: We are all upset. We have to (inaudible) because if you're going to be like this, why you own a team in NBA which quite is over 70 percent African-American basketball players? So I think he should step down.

LEBRON JAMES, NBA PLAYER: For comments like that, it taints our game and we can't have that. We can't have it from a player, we can't have it from the owner, we can't have it from a fan, and so on and so on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMERCONISH: Take a look at this Twitter photo under the banner, good thing the Clippers owner isn't here to witness that. A black fan and a white fan standing together mocking the racist comments allegedly made by the L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling who appears to have told his girlfriend after she posted an Instagram photo of herself and basketball legend Magic Jackson, quote, "and don't bring him to my games."

Despite the shock of it, there are a lot of legal questions involved in this case. We're joined by Judge Alex Ferrer, he's the host of Judge Alex, and by noted California Defense Attorney Tom Mesereau. Judge Alex, let me begin with you. Legally speaking, my -- whomever recorded this conversation be in more trouble than the voice that is drawing all the ire?

ALEX FERRER, HOST, JEDGE ALEX: Yeah. If you're speaking about criminal court, absolutely. And the reason for that is because it's not illegal to be a racist, I mean, it is illegal to do things like not hire somebody based on their race, but as far as expressing your racist views, the first amendment protects you from government action in that regard. That's why (inaudible) like the Westboro Baptist Church that does the despicable act of protesting in funerals of military soldiers who died are able to get away with the some of the horrible things they do.

That being said, it doesn't protect you from private action which is why we're seeing sponsors dropping like flies out of Clippers support and maybe fans who won't go to the game which I hope they do because obviously the players have put a lot into this not just the owner. On the other side of the coin, however, the one who recorded this, there are -- out of our States, 38 states are what are called one-party state which means anybody who's a party to the phone call can record the phone call.

The other 12 which includes California are two-party which really means all parties state. Everybody who's on the phone call has to get consent for a phone call to be recorded. Violating that law by recording somebody without their consent in California can lead you up to a $2,500 fine and up to a year in jail. Although I doubt being a first offense that she would get any jail time in all likelihood.

SMERCONISH: And Tom Mesereau, to the extent that there's legal action forthcoming civil, I would imagine more than criminal in connection with this case. It's not his first rodeo, so to speak. This is one of those instances where all of a sudden now, people are going back and reading the clips and saying "there's a laundry list of things that have been alleged or asserted against the speaker."

TOM MESEREAU, CALIFORNIA DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I mean there's a question, number one, what is theoretically possible? The judge is correct. It's a misdemeanor to sue surreptitiously recorded someone like this. By statute, there's also a civil cause of action if someone surreptitiously recorded you. Now, does he want to file a lawsuit about this and have depositions taken and have them leaked to the press and have this be an ongoing process, I doubt it. I don't think he'll sue over this at all.

Will the City Attorney or the District Attorney go after him on a misdemeanor? Again, I don't know. They might or they might not. The more important issue is why did someone at this level of society allowed themselves to be recorded making scurrilous racist statements like this. I'm not surprised if these kinds of racism exist. A lot of people harbor these kinds of views. They do it subconsciously, or they do it consciously. But for this guy, to be this stupid to talk to someone in broadcast, he's absolutely virulent, unacceptable racism is surprising demand (ph).

SMERCONISH: Alex, on a prior instance in 2009, a claim that was asserted by the Justice Department for housing discrimination was resolved by Sterling's payment of $2.73 million, the largest of its kind at that moment. That's not nuisance money, that's not 25 or 50K to go away, that's real money.

FERRER: It is real money, but let's put it in perspective Michael like you pointed out. The NBA, I believe that Larry is right. The maximum fine they can oppose is a million dollars. This is a man who's worth $1.9 billion purportedly. A fine of a million dollars to him is the same ratio as finding somebody who makes a $100,000, $52 that is the ratio we're talking about. So, $2.7 million was huge payment to get out of some allegations that were very similar to this, that he was preventing blacks and Hispanics from renting his properties because of derogatory feelings he had towards them bringing property values down.

I don't think it hurt him much to pay that money to get rid of it, but that should've been the red flag to the NBA that we have a problem here and should've been taken care of back then.

SMERCONISH: Judge Alex Ferrer and Tom Mesereau, I wish we had more time but we thank you both for having been here.

FERRER: Thank you (inaudible).

SMERCONISH: If you were broke and your economy was in shambles, how would you feel if your president had $40 billion hidden away? That maybe the reality a lot of Russians are facing despite new U.S. sanctions.

And tonight, the search for missing Flight 370 enters a new phase, so, where the last 50 days offer not. And if the search came up empty in a small radius, what's the hope for surveying the whole Indian Ocean? Plus, tornadoes ripped through Mississippi just a day after 16 deaths in the Midwest from other twisters. Martin Savage is live in Tupelo. Martin, go ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMERCONISH: Tornadoes touchdown in parts of the South tonight. There are reports that two people were killed in Alabama. Parts of Mississippi sustained severe damage today. And millions of people across the South and Midwest are warned to be on alert for more possible twisters. Violent storms yesterday killed at least 16 people in three states. Let's check in with Martin Savidge in Tupelo, Mississippi.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Michael. Yeah. It have been quiet spring tornado wise until just this past few days. And take a look behind me here because this is the only light people see, north of Tupelo. Well, for as far as I can see from this particular vanished (ph) point, it is of course because so many brought in some portable generators and illuminated the back, but otherwise, it's just red and blue emergency lighting. And look closely of what that is, you've recognize that almost every street corner has one. It's the local gas station, the kind that has the big honing over the top. And imagine what have been like to either been inside working, buying something, or pulling up to the gas tanks there to fill up, because that's exactly what was going on with the storm strike about maybe 2:30 in the afternoon. Other devastation, but amazingly, nobody seriously injured inside there. And in fact, for all of the state of Mississippi, despite the extensive damage, there is only one fatality that's been reported. It seems primarily this storm went North of town, went through business districts. The heaviest damage you see in suburban areas are trees that are down (inaudible), houses that is -- didn't suffer like this. That's a good news. But the worst is, there's more bad weather still to come.

So right now, they are still sifting through the ravel to see what could be salvaged and to begin to think about what tomorrow could bring. Michael.

SMERCONISH: Martin Savage, thank you for your report. We'll continue to monitor the storms in the South all evening.

President Obama today imposed additional sanctions on Russia for its actions in Ukraine. The sanctions target members of President Vladimir Putin's inner circle who are now subject to a U.S. visa ban and an asset freeze.

The Russian government quickly denounced the move calling it meaningless, shameful, and disgusting. Earlier today, I tried three times to ask Tony Blinken, the Deputy National Security Adviser, if these sanctions where aimed at Putin himself through his associates since there are reports that he has billions stashed in the companies of those associates. But I couldn't get a straight answer.

I read that story in the New York Times about estimates of Vladimir Putin's fortune, his personal wealth and I'm looking at sanctions in a whole new way. Is it possible that U.S. policy with regard to sanctioning individuals in Russia are designed to go after Putin personally?

TONY BLINKEN, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: What we're doing is going after the people who are closest to him, the core of the Russian economy and really his support structure, the two individuals who were designated today, Mr. Sechin and Mr. Timchenko, control a very large companies. One, an industrial holding company, the other a large energy company that are right at the heart of the Russian economy. We've already had a dramatic impacts on Russia through the course of the sanctions that we've done in coordination with the Europeans over the last month.

We see financial markets down 22 percent. We've seen then rowel (ph) at all time lows, investment trying up, capital fleeing the country. What we did today will accelerate an increase that impacted.

SMERCONISH: But as part of your hope that you're going to squeeze him personally, not just those who were in his orbit but Putin himself.

BLINKEN: President said today, we're not trying to target President Putin. What we're trying to do is get him to change the course that his taking in Ukraine.

SMERCONISH: Let me try one more time from a different angle, does the possibility exist that Putin's name, that Vladimir Putin's name itself will go on the list of those Russian individuals who were subject to American sanctions?

BLINKEN: Again, the purpose is not to target President Putin personally, it's to increase the pressure on him by going after key actors in the Russian system, in the Russian economy and to get him to take the steps his already committed too, in Geneva through the diplomatic process. That's the objective and the pressure is being increased deliberately, systematically, working coordination with the Europeans.

SMERCONISH: Let's talk more about the expanded sanctions and these alleged hidden billion with Andrew Lehren, a reporter for the New York Times. So you could see I struck out when I tried to ask the White House, is Putin himself the target? Do you think that Putin himself is the target of the sanctions?

ANDREW LEHREN, NEW YORK TIMES: There's no doubt that the sanctions are designed to close the circle around the Russian President. And the people who've been targeted so far are the people closest to him, among the people closest to him.

SMERCONISH: How vast is his personal wealth?

LEHREN: It's like a parlor game that's being played, it's been played by both the Obama Administration, Bush Administration. But it's a parlor game that no one quite knows the right answer too. Finding hard facts on this is difficult, but it's clear that there are government documents that show the estimations running from $10 to $40 to $70 billion.

SMERCONISH: And in your Times reported, you noted that Gunvor Group is one of the entities in which the treasury department has said, they believe he has holdings.

LEHREN: Right. And Gunvor is very interesting because it's actually a Swiss based company, doing a lot of work in oil and in mining, a lot of commodities. Gunvor has had a principal owner, long associated, being close with Putin. He is since said he's relinquished his holdings in the company. And at the same time, the company itself is denying any kind of investments or holding (inaudible) of Putin.

SMERCONISH: Does he live like a man with expensive tastes and the ability to afford them? I guess that's hard to ask of a world leader because its lifestyle is paid for. But I read in your report is that his earnings are I think $102,000 the equivalent there of per year.

LEHREN: On paper, on paper, right, right.

SMERCONISH: Is he a man of lavish tastes?

LEHREN: And then it's very clear that he lives large. I don't think anyone will dispute that.

SMERCONISH: So if it were revealed that his much like the oligarchs with whom he has surrounded himself and that at a time when the Russian economy is struggling and we had to report tonight about standard in poor saying they are at junk banned level. What might that do to his standing, if anything among the Russian populous?

LEHREN: Well that would be a real -- that's the key question. So if the oligarchs starts feeling to squeeze and as my colleague Peter Baker and others who I work with on the story show, shown that if they start feeling to squeeze then the question is, "How soon will Putin start feeling that squeeze?

SMERCONISH: Is there a chance in Andy that his name personally will go on the list of those who are now on double secret probation?

LEHREN: Right. Well it seems that's like the new killer option. And whether that happens that's seems far down the road at this point.

SMERCONISH: There's a CIA report of some kind that addresses this issue but it's not been made public. Do you think there'll be more information forth coming about this?

LEHREN: I think that there'll be more information coming out. I think when you saw some of the information coming out just in the sanction reports themselves, they were articulating publicly views that previous administrations have been keeping privately.

SMERCONISH: I know that you were personally knee-deep in the Wiki leagues documents that speak to Putin and Russia generally. Did you learn anything of significance from that treasure trove?

LEHREN: That certainly where I spent a lot of time going through for the story, looking at material. And you see companies like Gunvor. You see assertions that he has connection, financial connections with Gazprom and with other major energy and financial concerns inside Russia. So the question is how long will the pressure be applied to those companies and how deep those pressures will go.

SMERCONISH: Your reporting makes me look at the sanctions in a whole new light, raising the possibility that maybe, you know, people and some people are saying, "Oh Obama, he needs to get tough with Putin." If this is all true, maybe that's exactly what he is doing from a financial perspective and in a very personal perspective. Andy Lehren, thank you so much for your report.

LEHREN: Thank you so much Michael.

SMERCONISH: It's good to see you. I have some questions recently about whether John Kerry is forced to run for President in the next few years. Well I think he just secretly telegraph me his answer. And the Malaysian Prime Minister promised that he would release the report this week on missing Flight 370. But can we be sure that we're getting all the information.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMERCONISH: Time now for headlines redefined. The headlines that got the story half right, first up from the hill, "Will popular vote elect president in 2020?" Boy, this one brought back a lot of memories. Of course it was in the year 2000 that W lost the popular vote and won the presidency. And there's a hue and cry from certain quarters there after, people said, "We got to change this system."

And then you didn't hear anything about the issue. Who knew that 11 states have enacted the national popular vote bill and those states represents 61 percent of the 270 electoral votes that are needed to win the White House. Among other things, the advocates were making this change say, "Hey in 2012, two-thirds of all the campaign spending for the presidential raise was concentrated in just four states.

What occurs to me is that if we change the system to a popular vote system it won't be just a handful of states, it will be just a handful of urban areas that control the vote. In other words, there's not a clean solution to this. And I'm disappointed but not surprise by the fact that people are putting on their partisan jerseys before they decide eligibly based on principle, which way they think this thing oath to go.

Anyway, you remember that old headline, it said this, the old headline read, "Will popular vote elect president in 2020?" What I would have written, there's a reason. They called it a popularity contest. Onto number two, from my hometown Philadelphia Inquirer, hey, it was my column. And the column headline said, "Special court helps veterans with addiction."

This is me telling the story of an army specialist who gets injured in Iraq and then is prescribed prescription pain meds, Percocet it graduates the OxyContin then oxycodone. When he can't get any more prescriptions he turns to heroine, gets on the wrong side of the law and his case is not an aberration.

One and six of our Iraq and Afghanistan vets have some kind of issue with substance abuse. So the message is that heroine is permeating all sorts of communities where it didn't used to be including in the military ranks. You remember the old headline? The old headline on this one said special court helps veterans with addiction.

What I would have written, heroin addiction knows no bounds. And the last headline is from the Daily Beast, "Kerry warns Israel could become an apartheid state." You know, where at that point where people are starting to speculate what the 2016 field is going to consist of.

As a matter of fact, yesterday, Bob Schieffer said that he has it on good authority that Mitt Romney is considering now getting into the Republican presidential raise in certain circumstances. I've been wondering about John Kerry. John Kerry who had big shoes to fill as he followed Secretary Clinton into the role of secretary of the state, I think he work hard and he has done a pretty decent job.

But, you know, presidential candidates running in this country, they don't put Israel in the apartheid in the same sentence. And so, you remember the old headline on this story? The headline said, "Kerry warns Israel could become an apartheid state." My headline, Kerry closes the door on 2016. A multinational search effort is expanding more than 50 days. So how is it possible? We don't know more about that missing plane. And just how far does the long arm of the law reach? Perhaps into your pocket and onto your cell phone. It's up to the Supreme Court.

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JOHN NANCE, FMR. BOEING 737 CAPTAIN, ALASKA AIRLINES: It is hardly unlikely at this stage that we will find any aircraft debris on the ocean surface. Therefore, we are moving from the current phase to phase which is focused on searching the ocean floor over a much larger area.

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SMERCONISH: While the search for Flight 370 has turned up nothing at all. The families of those on board are demanding answers from the Malaysian government. Last week, it promised that it would release a preliminary report on the search this week. Will the families be satisfied? We're joined by aviation expert John Nance, a former Boeing 737 captain for Alaska Airlines.

John, it occurs to me that if the search area has now been expanded, maybe doubt is being cast on what we're believed to have been pings from the black boxes. And you know what I'm referring to when I make reference to that triangulated picture that we showed so many times on CNN. Does this mean while those sounds were provided by something other than pings from the black boxes?

JOHN NANCE, FORMER BOEING 737 CAPTAIN: I seriously doubted Michael. I really do. I think those where the valid sounds, especially because we picked up two separate pingers at a period of time and then went on from many hours. That's very telling, unless there are some other situations down there with fishing equipment, there would be no other explanation in that part of the ocean. But the other thing is, they ran the elements on this or we don't know the level of silt down there at the bottom and there's a lot of it, we're sure.

The second thing, we don't know how this airplane entered the water. In one way if it hit been very vertical and high speed, there maybe just confetti down there, no big pieces that the Bluefin-21 would have seen.

SMERCONISH: You know, I'm glad you raise you the issue of how it would have hit the water because lacking your expertise maybe naively, I keep saying, "By now, wouldn't debris have washed up on some shore somewhere?"

NANCE: Not necessarily. I mean, we've got a situation where the things in that part of the ocean may wash up on the Eastern African shores in about a year, but it's not necessarily going to be the case that it gets to Western Australia. On top of that, if it's small pieces that came about because the airplane hit it at high speed then those are probably going to sink overtime. We really just to have no idea whether this airplane went in as I say under control vertically, which is the only way I can go in high speed or whether it went in as a result of running out of gas, both engines and then kind of coming down on what we call phugoid motion. That would have left larger chunks.

SMERCONISH: Christina Symons, let me bring you into the conversation if I might. You heard me asked John Nance about the expanded search area and whether that means that perhaps those pings didn't come from the black boxes the way that we had hoped. This is your area of expertise, underwater exploration. What do you make of it?

CHRISTINA SYMONS, GEOLOGIST AND SCIENCE COORDINATOR, DEEPSEA CHALLENGE EXPEDITION: Well, I think he is right on, they are very confident and those pings having been from the black boxes. And what they'll do now is they done a very thorough search in an area of very great confidence. But they have other areas where they've heard pings, where it lasted for longer duration and I'll move a search over.

There a lot of other resources at their disposal to in terms of instruments that it can fly a little higher above the sea floor to cover more area in a less amount of time. And then even if they're tattered to a ship, then those on board ship can interpret what they're seeing on the fly and make decisions as they are actually mapping and exploring the sea floor with the same side scan on our technology that the Bluefin-21 has used.

SMERCONISH: Christina, do you worry that the rugged gets pulled out of this exploration and investigation for financial reasons? I mean, I know from your involvement with James Cameron's exploration, you must have to handle on what this all cost. And at some point, do we run the risk that whatever that entity might be or whomever it is says, "we just can't afford to pay any longer"?

SYMONS: Yeah, I mean, I think it's a real problem. It's a challenge we faced in the scientific community today in terms of getting funding to do just some basic research in the oceans. It's not cheap to be out at the sea, as the one the ships from Mauna Loa Scripps Institution of Oceanography is on the order $50,000 a day just to operate. And that doesn't mean bringing an instrumentation and working on interpreting the data that's collected.

SMERCONISH: John Nance, (inaudible) Richard Quest was told by the Malaysian Prime Minister that a report would be forthcoming this week. What do you anticipate when in fact it's made public?

NANCE: I don't really anticipate any bomb shells because it would be very detrimental for the Malaysian if they've been holding something back. I do anticipate that it will be a rather thorough recitation of what they know and when they knew it. And maybe will give us a little bit more insight onto the backgrounds of the captain, because that's one thing that we -- I'm not sure that we've heard enough about. And there were no question in my mind about the fact that a pilot have to -- have done this, either one of the two crew members or somebody else. SMERCONISH: I have just 30 seconds left with you John. I'm glad you raise that subject because an attorney who's also a pilot, Arthur Wolk has put the idea in my head, "What do we know about the jump seat and whether it was occupied?

NANCE: And that is the question. We don't know. And we do know that these crews had in the past then a little bit loose about letting people in the cockpit, at least on one occasion. I don't want to cast this versions on the whole airline. But the fact is if there was somebody known to the pilots, maybe they were up there in the cockpit. I just don't see there's a clear track of the pilot and the co-pilot being suicidal and homicidal.

SMERCONISH: Well let's hope we get some information in the form of that report this week. Thank you so much Christina Symons and John Nance.

SMERCONISH: One last thing ...

NANCE: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: ... how much does your Smartphone say about you? The Supreme Court is going to weigh in soon about whether those secrets in your cell phone maybe off limits to cops without a warrant.

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SMERCONISH: One last thing, let me start here with the jeopardy asked question. This would be in the category of list for say $800. Candid photos of family including four kids, passwords to all social media and retail accounts, medical history personal and family, birthdates of all the immediate family, detailed calendar appointments and cell phone numbers and addresses of family and acquaintances. And the question is, "What could you find out about Michael if you had my iPhone?"

I raise this, because tomorrow the Supreme Court is going to hear argument on a privacy debate that extends into your purse and into your pocket. That issue is whether law enforcement first needs a warrant before examining your Smartphone. This debate arises from two cases, one of which involves a California man named David Raley. Raley was arrested in August of 2009 after a traffic stop resulted into the discovered of loaded guns in his car.

Now, the officers seizes Raley's phone without a warrant, then they search through his messages, his contacts, his videos, his photographs and based and part on what they found in the phone, the officers charged him within unrelated shooting that had taken place several weeks prior to the arrest.

Look, our 18th century framers could never have anticipated that their words would apply to this 21st century conundrum. But still they left us with adequate guidance as to how it should be handled. The fourth amendment says the right of the people to be secure in their person's houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated and no warrants shall issue but upon probably cost. The question with regard to Smartphone is not whether they can ultimately be search, but whether their inspection should first require a warrant.

There is a fourth amendment exception for searches incident to an arrest. And the issue now was whether Smartphone oath to be on that category. The argument and the outcome are going to be interesting to watch because this one might be one of those rare Supreme Court cases that defies defied before ideological breakdown. Me? I'm hoping that the justices bland on the side of privacy protection.

My iPhone is a window into every aspect of my day to day existence. And the only way that law enforcement should gain access is by convincing a judge that they got probable cost to take a look. As the New York Times noted in their lead editorial this morning, "Smartphone is misnomer. They are personal computers that happen to include a phone function."

Thanks for watching. I'm Michael Smerconish. I'll see you back here tomorrow night. CNN's SPECIAL REPORT with Don Lemon is now.