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Laura Coates Live

Trump Shares Article Comparing Him To Navalny; Laura Coates Interviews Enes Kanter Freedom; Will Nikki Haley Stays In The Race?; How Will Trump Pay His Legal Bills?; WNBA Versus NBA Shootout Sparks Sexist Commentary; Beyonce Dives Into Country Music With Two New Singles. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired February 19, 2024 - 23:00   ET



LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Hundreds of people reportedly detained across Russia for attending vigils and rallies that are mourning the sudden death of Putin's most feared and most fearless critic, Alexei Navalny, in prison.

Navalny's widow posting a video today saying Vladimir Putin -- quote -- "killed the father of my children. Putin took away the most precious thing that was my closest and most beloved person."

And as world leaders condemn the death of a man who knew he was risking his life for the sake of his country, Donald Trump apparently just couldn't resist making it all about, well, you know who, sharing an article on his social media comparing himself to Navalny and going on a rant claiming that Navalny's death made him -- quote -- "aware of what is happening in our country" -- unquote.

Take a look at a couple of key words there, words that may tell you what's really getting underneath Donald Trump's skin. Judges. Grossly unfair courtroom decisions. Hmm. Could that possibly have anything to do with the 35 -- sorry, $355 million fine that he was hit with in the New York fraud case, combined with the $83 million judgment against him for defaming E. Jean Carroll? Only in Trump world could the former president make Navalny's death about him.

I'm going to be talking to the perfect person to weigh in on Navalny and what it's like to speak truth to power or speak the truth about power as well. I want to bring in NBA player Enes Kanter Freedom. He is an outspoken critic of human rights abuses and a big defender of democracy. He has called out Vladimir Putin as well as other leaders around the world, including the president of Turkey, the country where he was raised, and has faced backlash for speaking out.

Enes, thank you so much for joining us this evening. Just thinking about what you must be feeling when you hear about Navalny's death. He repeatedly stood up to Putin, never gave up his fight for democracy, and his wife is vowing to continue that fight. What is your reaction to his death and his legacy moving forward?

ENES KANTER FREEDOM, NBA PLAYER: You know, first of all, thank you for having me. Navalny spoke truth to power. I mean, he returned to Russia after Putin tried to poison him. And he knew he will be arrested, but he wanted to set an example for millions of Russians and others who are fighting for freedom.

And the most important thing we can do to honor Navalny's legacy is to support Ukraine because victory for Ukraine can lead to freedom for Russia.

COATES: When you look at this, Enes, and think about, you know, how people are reacting, not just in terms of other foreign policy decisions and beyond, but there are those who are protesting, who have been trying to speak out through the powers that be. Looking at the screen right now, people getting arrested in the snow, violently apprehended and taken into custody.

According to an independent Russian human rights group, nearly 400 people have been detained reportedly across Russia for attending vigils and rallies in honor of him. And the protests themselves, I'm wondering, from your perspective, are these feeling futile if Putin is not held accountable?

KANTER: You know, we need to hold dictators and wannabe dictators accountable. And, you know, condemning this kind of dictatorship is not enough. We have to take concrete actions. And so, I'm calling on all the Western countries, NATO allies, and democratic countries to actually start taking actions against these dictatorships because they do not care about our condemning. So, we have to take concrete actions.

COATES: I wonder what those actions look like. Have you given any thought to what that means? Because some who protest might say, well, I do the speaking out, I stand here, and I protest because I can't have the weight of another government behind me. What does the concrete movement look like?

KANTER: You know, we need to actually -- when I say concrete actions, you know, we need to put sanctions on individuals. Maybe we can use some sanctions to individuals around Putin. And we can use Magnitsky Act, you know, to put pressure on some of these people around Putin.

COATES: You know, in a recent couple of days now, you've probably heard former President Trump sharing an opinion piece on social media. He actually compared himself to Navalny. I don't know if you saw that. He also shared a video of Hungary's authoritarian leader, Viktor Orban, saying that he wants Trump to be president.

When you think about the impact of that, just having the rubbing of elbows or having those statements be made, what comes to mind for you?


KANTER: I think the first thing that comes to my mind is we need democracy around the world. And we need democracy, we need freedom all around the world. So, we cannot give those dictators any voice anymore.

COATES: You know, I'm wondering from a personal standpoint, because I know -- I really started to follow your career all the more because of how outspoken you had become. You faced opposition. You faced threats for taking a stand against anti-democratic governments, even turning you into someone who, you know, was not welcomed by the government in a country where you were raised.

KANTER: Right.

COATES: I wonder personally what it feels like to speak up, knowing the consequences could be either being banned, so to speak, or even hurt, let alone injured and killed.

KANTER: You know, freedom is not free and it definitely comes with the consequences. And just because I talk about the problems that are happening in my home country, Turkey, they revoked my passport, they put my name on the Interpol list, and now I have 12 arrest warning for me in the last nine years.

And just recently, Turkish government put a bounty on my head and my family had to publicly disown me so they will leave them alone. But my dad was in jail, but huge thanks to American government that put so much pressure from here to Turkey, they had to let him go.

You know, there are a lot of people out there struggling, so we need to be their voice. So, what I'm trying to do is I'm trying to be the voice of all those innocent people out there who don't have a voice. The one thing that I think, the one word -- one word our world is missing is empathy, so we need to definitely put our word more.

COATES: How have you kept yourself safe? Because just describing it, you can't go to many countries, like 20 or so countries you're able to even visit.


COATES: You have Interpol, you said, arrest warrants, a bounty on your head at one point in time.


COATES: I mean, how do you keep yourself safe?

KANTER: Yeah, well, I have to actually be in touch with the FBI every day. And every country I go to, I have to let them know where I'm going. Every city, every state I visit, you know, I had to let FBI know where I'm going. Actually, the FBI came to my house and they set up this thing called panic button, and they said, whenever you feel uncomfortable, push that button, we'll be there in two or three minutes.

I mean, like I said, again, you know, it comes with, you know, some consequences, but we have to stand up for these authoritarian regimes out there.

COATES: I mean, just thinking about what you have to go through -- I mean, checking in with the FBI, panic buttons. You've spoken out against corruption. You've spoken out in favor of democracy. I can only imagine the consequences for others who have spoken out with regimes who are intending on really harming someone as well.

What word of advice would you give to Navalny's now widow who has been continuously speaking up and also identifying Putin as the reason for her husband's death?

KANTER: You know, first, to his family, I feel terrible, I feel terrible because the hardest thing about going against a dictator is the pain you know your family has to go through. And to all his kids, you know, Daria, Zakhar, and his wife, Yulia, I cannot imagine what you're going through.

But you need to understand that the whole world is with you and praying for you, guys. And your dad's bravery, his strength, were unique in this world. And so, he inspired millions of people. And we're just praying for you, guys, for sure.

COATES: I mean, the inspiration, as you see from those who are showing out for protests and vigils, but I wonder if the inspiration is enough for you to not feel afraid for her safety.

KANTER: Yeah. I mean, like I said, again, you know, all we have to do is just keep standing up against the dictatorships because freedom comes with consequences. So, whatever happens, we can never, ever give up.

COATES: Enes Kanter Freedom, thank you so much for joining. I can't imagine what it is like for you. We talk about speaking truth to power. I wonder if anyone anticipates the risks and the sustained ones that you've experienced and so many others. Thank you so much.

KANTER: No, thank you to CNN family for giving me the platform to talk about human rights violations. I appreciate that.

COATES: Thank you. And in the midst of all of this, let's not forget we've actually got an election going on. We talk about democracy abroad, democracy in action here in the United States and what it means, particularly after a former president has claimed that we don't have free and fair elections.

Well, he is going to be a part of a primary in a state called South Carolina on Saturday. The big question, will Nikki Haley stay in the race even if she loses in her home state?


What she's saying about all that tonight, we're going to talk about next.


COATES: Nikki Haley taking aim at Donald Trump in the lead up to the South Carolina primary happening this Tuesday, where polls suggest that she trails, well, by an overwhelming margin.


NIKKI HALEY, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think Trump is mentally diminished.

Everything he touches, we lose.

We're seeing all of these things happen and Trump is doing late night rants about his court cases? He's going to be in court for the rest of the year. We can't be distracted.

I don't know why he keeps getting weak in the knees when it comes to Russia. How many more times do we have to lose before we say maybe he's the problem?


COATES: Well, that primary is coming this Saturday, this Saturday.


I want to bring in Republican strategist Shermichael Singleton, former deputy chief of staff of Housing and Urban Development under President Trump. Also here, CNN political commentator Ashley Allison, who served as the National Coalition's director for the Biden-Harris 2020 campaign.

Okay, everyone, it's Monday. Saturday is the big day. The real question, of course, she waited until now in the last month or so to really ramp up all of her attacks against Trump. Of course, you've got to wonder what took so long. She has said in the past, well, now he's my focus, everyone is out of the race. She's going to deliver a state of the race speech tomorrow.

You've been talking to activists in South Carolina. What's happening on the ground? Is there support for her?

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: There's not a lot of support at all. I mean, almost all of the elected officials statewide, locally, federal, have all endorsed Trump. Most of the senior recognized pastors of mega churches in South Carolina have also sort of instructed their parishioners to get behind the former president.

COATES: But why is that? Why not Haley?

SINGLETON: Nikki Haley, for many of those conservatives, don't speak the type of language in terms of politics, traditionally speaking, that they want. And by that, I mean they want someone to take a complete wrecking ball to the political establishment, and they see Trump as being that individual.

They recognize that Trump has some faults on a whole host of issues, if you really talk to many of the evangelicals, but they will say, I don't particularly care about those things because I am relevant again because of Donald Trump. And there is a level of truth to that, if you will.

And so, Nikki Haley, she's viewed, as one person said, she's a globalist, and those of us in South Carolina, we're tired of Republican globalists, so we're just not getting behind her. COATES: You know, it's interesting. I've always kind of chuckled thinking about who would be the quintessential establishment person. It's the president of the United -- how much more establishment can you get than being the president? He's the former president and yet it doesn't seem to stick on him for whatever reason.

But if you're wondering if Nikki Haley actually is going to step down after Saturday if she doesn't win, she is vowing tonight to stay in the race through Super Tuesday. Listen to this.


HALEY: I promise you this: On Sunday, I'm headed to Michigan, and then we're going to Super Tuesday states, and we're going to keep on going.


COATES: Well, she's promising you this. What do you make of that promise?

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't intend to hold Nikki Haley accountable for any --


-- of her promises because I don't really think that's her track record. Um, look, if Nikki Haley's donors stay behind her through Super Tuesday, then she'll probably stay in the race. Most folks who can't win primary or caucus drop out because their funding dries up and they can't afford their staff and the apparatus to actually win.

But that's not the case for Nikki Haley right now. Most donors would have bailed at this point. But they're still supporting her, and they're still, so stay in the race.

COATES: But what's behind that? That's what I keep trying to understand. Is it because -- is she in the race because she thinks that -- look, she's kind of the alternative Olympian here and maybe somebody, I don't know, might have a doping thing, they might have an issue, they might break a leg, and then you've got her in the actual Olympics again. Is that what's happening?

ALLISON: Perhaps, but I think that there is a portion, probably not the majority, but a portion of Republicans who really do want to walk away from Donald Trump, and Nikki Haley is their best shot.

Now, as a Democrat looking at this, I want to see what happens in Michigan then if she's still in the race for that primary or what happens in Super Tuesday because it can give a tell a little bit of where the republican electorate is, and for the general, then what Democrats need to do to speak to folks in particular battleground states.

But if the money is there, Nikki is probably going to stay. It doesn't seem like she's throwing more blows now than she ever has before, so she's not really focused on party unity in the Republican Party right now.

COATES: Does it compromise her chances for the future? If she were -- I know everyone is always thinking about the next race.


COATES: They talk about get out now while you have some level of political respect if you're not really winning because maybe in 2028, you got a better deal going on. Is that her issue?

SINGLETON: I mean, what leverage would she have going into 2028? I mean, I think someone should pinch Nikki Haley and say, wake up from your dream and live in reality. And the reality is there isn't a path for you.

Most of her mega donors have already pulled away from her. I believe there's only two or three, from my understanding, that are remaining, and at least two out of those three are saying, after South Carolina, they're moving on to Donald Trump because they recognize it's a waste of money.

In the eyes of many GOP likely primary voters, she has become a nuisance candidate. They see her as someone who is standing in the way from the guy that they want to give another opportunity.

And if I were advising her, I would say, look, we should start focusing on 2028, go ahead and do what we have to do to start building up the apparatus, write some books, get on the speaking circuit, join some boards, do whatever we can to best position you because it's going to be a very competitive field on the republican side. She's not thinking about those things.

ALLISON: That's hard, though. That is really hard to stay in the limelight if you are a Republican candidate who is not in office. And that is what Nikki Haley is right now. So, she is trying to -- I understand maybe the nuisance right now.


But there are still some Republicans who want an alternative and could give her the benefit of the doubt when Donald Trump can no longer be a candidate because he's behind bars, because he has won and is not able to have a second term or because the Republican Party has thrown him to the wayside eventually.

And that she could -- they could say, well, she stood in there, she held her weight, and I'm going to now fall behind her. Four years is a long way to tell.

SINGLETON: I bet if Donald Trump were to call her and say, after South Carolina, I'm willing to consider you to be my running mate, I bet Nikki Haley would say, okay. I'd put money on it.

ALLISON: Yeah, but she would probably say --

COATES: How much money are we talking about? Because I got cash. (LAUGHTER)

ALLISON: I would say, she would say, I got a lot of dollars.

COATES: We all carry cash.

ALLISON: I'm only putting a dollar on these Republicans right now. But what I will say is, she would probably say, I need a guarantee. I need a public guarantee, not even contention.


ALLISON: I -- you know, why would I do that?

COATES: All right, well, we're going to take a commercial break and we're going to count up how much money we're talking about right now. Not that I would bet anything on politics. Shermichael, Ashley, thank you both so much.

Look, former President Trump is facing a hefty legal bill, speaking about a lot of cash, after his New York civil fraud trial, to the tune of $355 million plus interest. How is he going to foot it all? You've got Harry Enten at the magic wall to explain next.



COATES: Well, to the surprise of precisely no one, Donald Trump is vowing to appeal. This after a New York judge ordered him to pay $355 million plus interest for fraudulently inflating the value of his properties. Now, he is also barred from serving in a top role in any New York company over the next three years.

So, what exactly does he owe? And maybe the big question, how will he pay for all of it? CNN's Harry Enten is at the magic wall, hoping you'll answer that question for him. It's a huge financial penalty. So, break this down for us. I mean, where is it coming out of? Whose pocket? Who's going to have to pay? Is it really Trump?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Well, you know, Laura, you mentioned that, you know, interest, and you mentioned the recent ruling, of course, against Trump in New York, but also add in the E. Jean Carroll, and now you're looking at recent legal judgments that Trump may have to pay $500 million or more.

Now, you look at his net worth per Forbes, it's $2.6 billion with a B. Now, $500 million is less than $2.6 billion. But even for somebody like Donald Trump, that is a pretty significant chunk of change. And it comes at a time, I've been looking at the Forbes list, where in fact his net worth is down a little bit less than a billion dollars from where it was a year ago.

So, the fact is, he's been losing wealth, and now it looks like he may lose even more wealth. COATES: So, will he be able to raise this money? I mean, there's no requirement he has to be the person to be the supplier exclusively of this money. Could he raise it? Because every time he has a legal issue, he seems to raise money.

ENTEN: That's exactly right. I mean, take a look at during the campaign. All right, what do we see here? Trump's two biggest fundraising days, he raised about $4 million on each day, when Trump was arraigned in Manhattan court and also when Trump was booked in Fulton County Jail. Remember that infamous mugshot over there?

So, the fact is, Trump has been able to raise a lot of money during his campaign when he has been in legal problems. We'll see if this is the latest example of that or perhaps he has run out, the well has run a little bit dry. We'll just have to wait and see. But he has raised a lot of money before from his donors when he's in legal trouble.

COATES: Had you not said, well, I was going to quote Boyz II Men and not wait for that water to run dry. It's a heck of a song. But there is something else in his future right now. I hear that he has, dare I say, a new venture. I mean, forget real estate. He now has sneakers.

ENTEN: Yeah, he has sneakers, Laura. So, you know, you mentioned the idea essentially, okay, how is Trump going to raise all of this money? How about selling some Never Surrender high tops? Golden, $399, compared to Nikes which sell on average for $80. So, this seems like a lot more money.

And this is just generally in line with what Trump has done, historically speaking. Other merchandise Trump has sold, remember Trump steaks? I'm raising the steaks, Trump cologne, "Trump ice" water, Trump mattresses, and "Trump Vooka," which after this segment I might need a little bit of. So, he has done a lot of fundraising and a lot of raising of wealth through perhaps some untraditional means for a former president.

COATES: I would like to know which pair of Nikes that my son keeps buying only costs $80. I'm curious to find those Nikes. But we'll see what happened. Maybe I'm missing a sale rack of some kind when 11- year-old got a size of an 11-1/2 shoe. So maybe I'm just bitter.

Harry Enten, thank you so much.

ENTEN: My pleasure. It ain't the Air Jordan.

COATES: It sure is not. Tell you that right now. Harry, as always, nice talking to you.



COATES: Well, let's bring in the chairman of O'Leary Ventures, "Shark Tank," Judge Kevin O'Leary. Kevin, so good to see you this evening. I mean, let me just jump right in here. Last time, you and I spoke about the possibility of what the fine could be in this case. We now know what it is. It's more than $350 million bucks. That's a huge financial hit. And I'm wondering, where is he going to get this money?

KEVIN O'LEARY, CHAIRMAN, O'LEARY VENTURES: Actually, it's closer to half a billion with a 9% interest, assuming --


O'LEARY: -- it'll take 18 to two years to actually settle this in an appeal, which I think it should be appealed. He'll work hard to raise it. I think he can do it.

But I don't think this case is about Trump anymore at all because you heard the governor of New York come out yesterday and say, look, everybody, don't be scared about doing a business in New York because the only people we prosecute are people like Donald Trump who don't behave well.


That didn't go over very well with the investment community because we're all asking each other, who's next? This was a victimless crime. Nobody lost any money. And a judge out of nowhere put on a $355 million penalty. I mean, who's next? So, if you think --

COATES: Well, Kevin, before -- I don't want to cut you off, but I hear about the so-called victimless crimes. But the laws on the books, falsification of business records in second degree, issuing false financial statements, insurance fraud, conspiracy, and all these different aspects of it, those are actual crimes. I take it your point is that these should not have been prosecuted?

O'LEARY: Well, my point is there has never been a case like this in 75 years. Everything you just listed off is done by every real estate developer everywhere on earth in every city. This has never, ever been prosecuted.

But here's the real point that people in New York should concern themselves with. You can put your money anywhere. I'm a real estate developer. Do you think there's a chance I would ever take a chance on New York again? New York is turning itself into a flyover state. I have to build data centers now.

I'm not going to go to New York. New York has power. It has got fiber optics. It has got Niagara Falls. But no, we're not even thinking about it. We're going to places that have the exact same thing, where we have rational governors that have never done this to investors.

This is about New York and its people. If I were in New York today, and I was living there, I would ask myself, maybe we should hire better management. Why is this happening to us? Why are we becoming a flyover state? Why are --

COATES: Well, Kevin --

O'LEARY: -- investors concerned about putting their money there?

COATES: But shouldn't you ask -- wouldn't those people also be saying -- first of all, I do wonder how many people take issue with the idea that every investor is engaged in falsifying business records, that every investor is engaged in what has been accused of Donald Trump and the Trump Organization, because there's probably a lot who are saying to themselves, I've never falsified my business records, I know what a square foot looks like, I know what I can ask for and what I have the money to support. So, I wonder to what extent that really is true.

But on the second point, wouldn't there be many companies who would not want to do business or loan money to people like yourself or investors if they know that they can get away with fraud and there's no recourse to protect them?

O'LEARY: Excuse me, what fraud? This is not about Trump anymore.

COATES: I know.

O'LEARY: When you get a developer, when you get a developer that builds a building and he says it's worth $400 million and he wants to borrow $200 million from a bank, which happens every day, everywhere on earth, including every American city, every developer is an entrepreneur, they shine the light on their building and they say it's worth $400, he bank does its own due diligence, as was done in this case, because they're very good at it, the banks are very good, and they say, no, it's worth $300, we're only going to loan you $150 million.

That haggling has gone on for decades. That's how it works. And then in this case, even the bank that was supposedly defrauded, testified and said, we didn't lose anything, we want to do business with this guy again, we'd like to. But the judge said, no, no, no, let's penalize this developer for $355 million, and we're going to do that.

Let's penalize all the developers all across America. They've all done the same thing. All of them should go to jail and we should stop building buildings. That's what the message is from New York.

Even the governor herself is concerned about what this looks like to investors all around the world. It's not just U.S. domestic.

COATES: Well --

O'LEARY: All around the world, people are talking about what happened here. You really think people want to invest money in New York after this? How about we go somewhere else?

COATES: Well, I think --

O'LEARY: How about --

COATES: I think there are people who would -- I don't want to cut you off, but I want to converse with you instead.

O'LEARY: Well, you just did.

COATES: It's only because I want to have a conversation, Kevin, as opposed to just having you tell me. O'LEARY: You know what? I respect you -- I respect you because you're a lawyer. You're a lawyer. You understand --

COATES: Well --

O'LEARY: -- exactly what I'm talking about.

COATES: I got to tell you, I'm respectable for a number of reasons, Kevin O'Leary, but being a lawyer is one of those issues. But I'll tell you, when I hear your conversation, and I do want to converse with you about this point, I understand that there are legitimate concerns that were raised during the trial and will continue to be raised about who the quote, unquote, who is actually bringing the suit.

It wasn't the banks who were saying that we as consumers are unsophisticated, feel this way. But Letitia James, the attorney general, and I know you want to expand beyond Trump, has suggested, well, it's about making the playing field level for those who are not the major and billionaire investors.

But for those who are supposed to put business records out there, want to get a loan, the idea of making sure that they have to have the same true statements included as those who have a lot more money. Is there any weight to that for you?


O'LEARY: Well, I ask you, who lost money? And I'll make it even clearer. You and I, we're developing a data center together, and I say to you, we can go to New York where this just happened, it's your money now, you're now an investor and you're taking risk, you're an entrepreneur with me, right beside me, we're together on the deal, or I can show you Oklahoma, North Dakota, West Virginia where the governors actually run businesses, let's go there where this never happened before, they have power, they have permits, they've got legislation that's supportive of entrepreneurship. Why would we go to New York? Why take the risk?

My only point is, did we just diminish the great state of New York and the great people of New York? And shouldn't they ask for better management so they don't become a flyover state? Remember, New York has the highest taxes in the country, the worst regulatory environment, and it's incredibly mismanaged. And I'm pointing out now on top of that, you get this insanity, a victimless crime.

And forget about Trump. It's not about Trump. I don't care about Trump in this. I care about America, I care about entrepreneurship, I care about democracy and the fairness. The judicial system is now being criticized.

People are asking themselves, the bar of New York, is this judge rational to charge $355 million in a case where no one lost any money? Is that good for the people of New York? Should the people of New York wake up to this and say, what's happening to us? Why is this becoming so perverse? Why are we the focus of this injustice? And nothing to do with Trump. I'm not supporting Trump. I'm supporting American entrepreneurship. And New York is slowly becoming the number one loser state in America. I'm sorry, but that's what's happening.

COATES: Well, that's news to the city that doesn't sleep. But I'll tell you what, the governor has said that legitimate business operations have nothing to worry about. I, as an attorney, am looking at this issue, wondering what the appeals process will look like because they're going to delve into that very topic that you have raised.

They're going to talk about perhaps the novelty of this being, as you described, not brought on behalf of, you know, unsophisticated consumers who may have been duped. But decisions made by lone entities who wanted to engage in business with this particular organization --

O'LEARY: Let me put up my hand.

COATES: -- that will be very important. Go ahead. Put your hand up.

O'LEARY: I want to put up my hand. I want to put up my hand and ask, governor, who's next? Who are you going after next?

COATES: You want your hand up for that, Kevin? Put your hand down if that's the question.

O'LEARY: I want to know who is next.

COATES: What do you mean?

O'LEARY: Every entrepreneur in New York is saying, am I next? Who's next?

COATES: Well, let me ask you this because I -- you don't want to talk about Trump, but I have to ask you because you're a businessman who likes to talk about licensing. Do you currently own or will you be buying one of these gold sneakers?


O'LEARY: Thank you. No.


It's very expensive. Very expensive. But you have to add (ph) it to the branding.

COATES: That's expensive. Okay.

O'LEARY: You have to add (ph) it. I collect watches. Two of them right here. I'd rather buy a watch.

COATES: Do you have two watches? Okay. Well, you know what time it is. All right. Fine. Kevin O'Leary, I'll let you and your two watches go. We'll talk again. There'll be other times for us to speak. Thanks, Kevin. O'LEARY: Take care. Bye-bye.

COATES: Next, an intense 3.7 shootout. I should have mentioned Dame time, Dame Lillard time, like this. That's the next connection here between Seth Curry and Sabrina Ionescu, who during the All-Star weekend had a bit of the battle of the sexes. But it's these comments from sports commentator Kenny Smith that are sparking a whole lot of controversy.


KENNY SMITH, TNT COMMENTATOR (voice-over): She should have shot it from the three-point line that the women shoot on.

REGGIE MILLER, FORMER BASKETBALL PLAYER (voice-over): Why are you putting those boundaries on her?

SMITH: That's not a boundary. That's what the game is.




COATES: Well, it was a record-setting NBA All-Star game this weekend, but controversy is following the historic three-point contest between NBA star Seth Curry and WNBA star Sabrina Ionescu, who Curry, of course, won with 29 points after she set the bar very high with 26 points.

It was moments after the contest that are sparking some outrage. Listen to TNT commentator Kenny Smith.


SMITH (voice-over): She should have shot from the women's line. That would have been a fair contest. I still root for Sabrina. I still root for Sabrina.

MILLER (voice-over): We all are rooting for Sabrina.

SMITH (voice-over): No. She should have shot from the three-point line that the women shoot from.

MILLER (voice-over): Why are you putting those boundaries on her?

SMITH (voice-over): That's not a boundary. That's what the game is.

MILLER (voice-over): She wanted to shoot --

SMITH (voice-over): They have a smaller ball, don't they?


MILLER (voice-over): She shot with her WNBA ball. SMITH (voice-over): WNBA ball is smaller.

MILLER (voice-over): She shot with the WNBA ball.

SMITH (voice-over): She should have shot from the line. There's a women's tee in golf, and there's a men's tee.


COATES: I should note that TNT and CNN share the same parent company. Let's talk about it now with Jemele Hill, contributing writer at "The Atlantic" and host of the "Jemele Hill is Unbothered" podcast. So, Jemele, were you bothered by the comments or unbothered by them?

JEMELE HILL, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Great to be with you. Listen, I know Kenny a little bit, and he doesn't have the reputation, as far as I'm aware, being some raging or undercover sexist.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

HILL: But just like any broadcaster, sometimes, you can say things that are thoughtless. I thought what he said was pretty thoughtless. And I think for it immediately to pivot to this point of automatically and maybe this wasn't his intention, of undermining what she did right there and what should have been a celebratory moment.

I also couldn't really follow the logic. Sabrina, by her own admission, when she practices, she practices from the men's three- point line, okay? And a lot of women's players who play in the WNBA, they practice against men.

So, shooting is shooting, and this was her opportunity on a relatively level playing field to show how she measured up against one of the best -- excuse me, let me correct myself, the greatest shooter in NBA history. And as we see, she came pretty close.


Now, here's the thing. Had she done what Kenny said and been at the WNBA line, and let's say she beat Steph, everybody would have undermined that, or even with her coming within a few points, a lot of people would have said, well, she only came within a couple of points because she was playing from a different line.

It's like sometimes, women can't win from losing. It's like you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

HILL: But I thought she represented the WNBA and women's players and women's basketball overall very, very well.

COATES: I thought she did, too. And again, she set that bar pretty high. And wasn't that around the same points that Dame also got? I mean, Lillard, in terms of how he won the competition, obviously, it was a different set of events there, but still, it's a significant number.

But I do wonder, especially given the whole point, Jemele, was to really showcase, and I thought Steph was deferential to her, she is deferential to him, they had a mutual level of respect. It was jarring not to hear that coming through the commentary as well. So, what happens now? What should happen now?

HILL: Well, I think we also have to remember, I mean, not only was her score easily equal, you know, or in the territory of what Dame Lillard did to win the three-point contest this year, I believe it was last year where she set a record for a man, a male or a female player with 37 points in the WNBA three-point contest.

I just think going into the commentary, as we get to a point, we see the popularity of women's basketball continue to explode, a star like Caitlin Clark is taking the game in a new direction, is that we have to get more commentators. And this is no disrespect to Kenny Smith. But Candace Parker, celebrated WNBA player, Hall of Fame level player, NCAA champion, is right there and is a TNT broadcaster. There has to be more women if we're going to continue to have these events.

And Steph and Sabrina talked about doing this again next year when the NBA All-Star game is in San Francisco. I think it would be in their best interest if they had a women's player there who played in the WNBA, who is able to offer analysis and critique of what we're seeing.

COATES: Or maybe just a commentator who appreciated the expertise, skill, and athleticism of everyone on the court at each moment. Jemele, I nominate you, of course.

HILL: And listen, I will gladly take that job. I'm volunteering right now, right here on your show.


COATES: I volunteer as tribute. I'm kidding.


HILL: I volunteer as tribute. If they all want me at the NBA All-Star game next year, if they run it back, I will happily -- I mean, volunteer is kind of a strong word, but I'll happily offer my services.


COATES: Well, something tells me we would have heard a very different comment. And again, you and I are in this business. We know full well that when the mic is on, there are going to be moments that you're proud of and moments that you're not as proud of. I hope at any point, though, it's a learning opportunity.

I had my daughter and my son listening, and they had questions about the commentary. I wanted them to focus on what happened on the court, and that was the problem.

Jemele Hill, thank you so much. We'll be right back.

HILL: Appreciate you.






COATES: You may have seen Beyonce rocking a cowboy hat for a while now, and this could be why. Queen B has released two singles now from her new album, "Act II," that have a bit of, well, twang to them.

Yep, Beyonce is going country. Some would say she's going back to country, and it has not come without some controversy. A radio station in Oklahoma initially denying a fan's request to play her new song, "Texas Hold'Em," saying, well, they're a country music station. "The New York Times" reports the station manager ended up playing the song after backlash on social media.

Joining me now is Michael Eric Dyson. He's a professor of African American and Diaspora Studies at Vanderbilt University and has even taught a few Beyonce classes.

So, Michael, so good to see you tonight. I'm glad you're here. Look, Black artists have been sidelined from country for years, which is interesting given the history of country music. Will this move the needle in some way?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, PROFESSOR, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: It's great to be here, Laura. I think so. You know, I'm a big country music fan. Karla Winfrey and Henri Giles 20 years ago made a documentary, "Waiting in the Wings," and I participated in that. My dad is from Albany, Georgia, mother from Hissop, Alabama. There was country music all in our home.

And there have been many country musicians. Think about Ray Charles, who really transformed country music, modern sounds of country and western. They would refuse to play him on the country music stations, and yet he articulated to the broader society the noble aesthetic at the heart of what used to be called hillbilly music.

So, there are many other Black artists who deserve to be heard, Rissi Palmer, or think about the great group, the duo "War and the Treaty." I think those figures will be served well by Beyonce being played on these country music stations, most of which are playing her. Only a few have decided not to.

But I think she'll open up a huge wall and create an opportunity for other artists who have been doing this for years and decades to be heard. COATES: I got to create a playlist based on all the people you just mentioned just now. A lot of people will. But Michael, when you look at all this and think about how there are other artists who go from country to say other genres with fluidity, Taylor Swift comes to mind as but one example. Why do you think the other way around seems to be so difficult?


Is it because it is a Black woman who's doing it?

DYSON: Well, yeah. I mean, her husband, Jay-Z, stood up and reprimanded the Academy of Recording Music for not awarding her the ultimate prize. Now, the irony is, the paradox is that she has been the most awarded person in the history of the Grammys, but it has been kind of ghettoized. You can do dance, you can do other kinds of things, but you can't really be rewarded for the great prize of great artistic achievement. So, yeah, that's to a degree true.

But, you know, the great Mia McNeal, who is the director of Industry Relations and Diversity at the Country Music Association, invited me to a black excellence brunch for Country Music Association, and the Country Music Fest had a bunch of Black artists who white audiences were clamoring to hear.

So, I think, yeah, some of the prejudice, some of the bias, and some of the not being used to the fact that this is old black music, the fiddle, the banjo, deriving from African antecedents, this is black music.

And, look, I used to listen to the old Hank Williams, hey, good looking, what you got cooking, how's about cooking something up with me, Patsy Cline. You know, I went to see George Strait and almost got an electric storm here in Nashville.

So, yes, I think it will open up some minds, some eyes, and some hearts to the fact that this is American music at its best, and an artist should be able to go from jazz, to pop, to blues, to hip hop, and to country music. After all, Black folk are the heart and soul of that music as well.

COATES: Let me find out. Michael Eric Dyson has got a whole cowboy boot collection in this house. Okay. I love it.

DYSON: I got it, babe. I got it. I got it.


COATES: Michael Eric Dyson, always a pleasure.

DYSON: Thank you so much for having me.

COATES: Well, thank you all for watching. I'll be live on Instagram at "The Laura Coates" just a couple of minutes after the show. I will not be singing country, but be sure to tune in nonetheless. And we have more of Beyonce's new sound. Do you hear it? As our coverage continues.