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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Emotional Meeting at Governor's Mansion; Starting over; The Wrong Way Home; The Optimists
Aired April 12, 2007 - 23:00 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. We are live in New Orleans tonight, but we begin with breaking news out of New Jersey at the governor's mansion.
Don Imus, leaving the mansion just moments ago. There you see the video. His wife leaving, after, we are told, hugging each one of the players on the Rutgers basketball team. The meeting broke up as I said just a few minutes ago. A meeting that lasted some three hours. Somber at times.
We've been getting some reports from inside the governor's mansion during that meeting.
CNN's Deborah Feyerick is outside the governor's mansion right now, getting some more information.
Deborah, what's going on?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we can tell you that sources tell us that it was a very emotional meeting. The big question for many of the female basketball players was why us? They couldn't understand why Don Imus would make such hateful comments about them, especially at a time in their lives that was supposed to be happy, having won this conference championship.
Now, the meeting lasted about 2-1/2 hours. It began at about 8:00, wrapped up at 10:30.
Don Imus left not more than 15 minutes ago. He stepped into his limousine, along with his wife, pulled out without saying anything. A rush of photographs raced to try to get a picture of him. There was a security car with him as well.
The bus, which is going to take the Rutgers female basketball players back to their dorms, that is outside of the governor's mansion right at this moment. We have not seen anybody board that bus. We are waiting for the players to come out.
The host of this meeting, the Governor Jon Corzine, he was supposed to be here, but on his way here he got into a serious car accident, actually is in surgery and will be in intensive care. He broke several bones in his leg and also his ribs. So he's in surgery. He was not here. But the meeting did go on as scheduled.
Don Imus, leaving without saying a word. We are hoping that perhaps the coach of the team may come out and say a few words. She's been very outspoken on this, very vocal. They wanted an apology. Don Imus apologized. The question is, was it sufficient -- Anderson.
COOPER: Deborah Feyerick, I should tell you that I've just received some more information. We've been getting information from someone inside the mansion who was present at this meeting. Been getting some information from them over the past several hours.
I am just being told the latest information we have is that the team is still inside. They are now discussing whether or not they want to formally accept Don Imus's apology.
That bus that you see out there is the team bus. Theoretically, it will take the players away from the mansion. But at this point no one has boarded the bus. The team is still trying to decide whether or not to accept Don Imus's apology.
Still no word on if they do accept it, whether they will come out and make some statement. It would seem to follow -- it would seem to follow that if they did accept it, they would want people to know about it, so I would assume that they would make some sort of a statement. But at this point we simply don't know.
Deb, at this point, how many reporters are there still outside the mansion?
FEYERICK: There are probably -- just looking, there are probably about half a dozen television reporters and about twice the number of still photographers. They're waiting to get a picture.
It's not clear whether they were able to get a picture of Don Imus. He was in a large stretch limousine, and the windows were dark. So whether they got a picture of him, we don't know. And again, clearly, they would like to get some sort of reaction from the players who are inside the house -- Anderson.
COOPER: Deb Feyerick, we're going to continue to monitor the situation. We'll bring any events to you live, as we always do.
Some reaction now. An explosive essay Kansas City Columnist Jason Whitlock called Imus an excuse for what he calls the real problem for African-Americans, gangster culture, gangster rap, hip-hop music and the exploitation of women.
Jason Whitlock joins us again tonight, as does Conservative Analyst Amy Holmes.
Jason, in your op-ed you criticize the Rutgers Coach Vivian Stringer for holding this press conference. How do you think she should have handled things?
JASON WHITLOCK, COLUMNIST, "KANSAS CITY STAR": I think that she should have met with her team in private and explained to them that Don Imus does not define who they are. Don Imus has nothing to do -- Don Imus has nothing to do with their happiness. The joyful ride they went on to the national championship and that they know who they are, that they are proud, black and white women, educated women, competitive women, and there's no outsider who can steal our joy and our accomplishment from us.
Then she should have issued a statement calling Don Imus an idiot, expressing that he needs to apologize, and that his employers need to deal with him and then that should have been the end of it.
There's no way this called for an hour-long press conference with everyone climbing onto a cross and saying, look at me, I'm a victim here. There's no way there should have been a meeting at the governor's mansion about this Mickey Mouse B.S. No way this should have happened.
This is an embarrassment. I have listened to this entire thing and I'm embarrassed that our leadership in our community -- and I'm speaking mostly about -- has failed. We have failed.
We haven't defined for young people who they are. And that no one can define for you who you are. You define for yourself, not Don Imus, not someone who has no input into your life. There's no magical white, evil man who can utter a few words on a radio show and steal your joy and take away your accomplishment. That's a joke.
Black kids are waking up every day being beaten into their head, you can't make it in this world. There's a magical white man out there that will get in your way and screw things up for you.
White kids wake up every day going, you can conquer the world, accomplish whatever you want.
We have to instill that in our kids because that's the reality that we live in. We are in control of our destiny, us, not Don Imus.
COOPER: And Jason, what do you say -- what do you say the message -- what do you say the message that is being instilled in young African-American kids is? I mean, what is the message that they're hearing from rappers, hip-hop music...
WHITLOCK: You can't make it in this world. You can't make it in this world. Don't educate yourself. Come out here and deal dope and be violent with each other. Let's call each other a bunch of names and let's celebrate hating each other because you can't make it in this world.
COOPER: So how does that change? How do you -- how does one change that?
WHITLOCK: It has to start with leadership and people like Vivian Stringer telling this to young people. It has to start there. And then we have to challenge this culture and redefine this prison culture that has taken over our young people and tell them what they're doing. They think this is a little harmless hip-hop culture. It's not. They're embracing values that are appropriate for prison, not for living. You're embracing death, not life.
AMY HOLMES, POLITICAL ANALYST: Anderson, if I could jump in here.
COOPER: Amy, I want to bring you in.
HOLMES: Yes, I agree with what Jason's saying about what we need to be telling young African-Americans. It was told to me every day that I was growing up that I could succeed and that there is no, you know, magical white person who could ever get in my way.
I was told the entire time that I was growing up that black is beautiful and that my job in this world is to try to be successful as I possibly can.
But where I disagree with Jason is I think that Coach Stringer was saying those things about those young ladies. I saw a protective lioness who said, we will not be defined by Don Imus's horrible hateful remarks. And in fact when those women came forward, they could not have been a more devastating reputation of what Don Imus or hip-hop artists or anyone else who uses these types of words against them.
I was incredibly proud of them. And I would also add, I'm very proud that they would have the graciousness to meet with Mr. Imus.
And unlike Jason, I do not disdain that they are meeting in the governor's mansion. The governor's mansion is the people's mansion and those young ladies are constituents of Governor Corzine. They go to university in New Jersey. I think it was a perfectly appropriate place for them to deal with this national media personality and star.
Jason wants to diminish his import in the media world. We know that he's important partly because we're talking about it right now, because MSNBC and CBS had to be put on the hot seat to make a real decision here. We had presidential candidates weighing in.
I think the right decision about Don Imus was made. I hope this opens up the conversation, though, for a broader discussion of what we are trying to say about ourselves as African-Americans and what we're trying to say about our culture in general.
COOPER: Let's move the conversation past Don Imus. Where do we go from here? Where does this conversation go? Because, I mean, I think everybody agrees this is a crucial conversation to have. There are in many communities across the country people listening to a message that is literally killing them.
WHITLOCK: Well I think it's twofold. I think it's twofold.
COOPER: Jason, go ahead. WHITLOCK: We're going to have to have a conversation in America about the war on drugs that's putting too many nonviolent people in prison, most of them either black or brown.
When you start incarcerating a bunch of people over nonviolent offenses, this war on drugs, war on poor people, when you start shipping them all off to prison and then they come back out with this prison culture, we're going to have to have a conversation about that and maybe changing up this war on drugs, war on poor people and offering them some freedom and an opportunity to educate themselves.
And then we have to change the black culture that is too anti- education. When black kids go to school and they start excelling in school, they start hearing, oh, you're selling out. You're acting white. We have to change that. That is -- we're embracing death when we do that. We have to change that.
It's not -- you must -- embracing education is embracing God and I don't want to get all religious on people. But you -- we just have -- we have to change things in our culture, and then we have to look at our laws that are going to war on poor people, black and brown, and throwing them in jail when they're not violent and then they're sending them back out to us violent.
HOLMES: Anderson, I would also...
COOPER: Amy, I heard -- let me jump in on this, though, Amy. I heard a remarkable statistic, and I haven't double checked it, but one-third of African-American males in this country have had experience in the criminal justice system. It if that is true, that is an astounding figure.
HOLMES: It is. And I've heard a statistic that at any one time one-third of African-American males are in prison. That's an astonishing and very disturbing statistic, very depressing statistic. I'm going back to what Jason was saying about education.
Literacy in the black community is criminally low. Our schools have been failing African-American kids from the day that they get into kindergarten. And they just keep promoting -- socially promoting them up. And these kids are -- if they get to graduate from high school at all, they're not learning to read, write or do arithmetic. That needs to change.
And I think what this moment that happened with Don Imus, what this can teach us is that we need to start by having respect for ourselves. If we have respect for ourselves, then we will be trying to get those good grades. We will be having our eye set on the prize of going to college, as these young women did, to be student athletes.
I agree completely with Jason that this is a moment for us as African-Americans to try to define who we are and who we want to be. And I personally don't want to be one of those women in one of those music videos and I wouldn't want my future children, my son or daughter, to believe that that is representative of the black community.
WHITLOCK: I don't want...
COOPER: We're going to have to leave it there.
Jason, go ahead.
WHITLOCK: I'm sorry. I just don't want young people to believe that there's some man out there that can utter some words on radio or TV that can steal their joy or happiness. We have to stop that. We have to stop believing that white people are out to get us in that regard, that they have that power over us. They just don't have that power over us. No one does. We have the power to control our own destiny.
HOLMES: I would agree.
COOPER: Jason Whitlock and Amy Holmes, a great discussion. Want to have you both back on the program soon and often. Thank you both very much.
COOPER: Still to come, we're going to continue to wait to see -- we have a report that Rutgers team is considering making some sort of a statement. We, of course, are going to bring that to you live.
Also tonight, a pastor killed. His wife on trial for his murder. Was it an accident?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (voice-over): Living in New Orleans, but without a home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long have you been living out in the street?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About three months, maybe 3-1/2.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's this like for you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hell.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And he's not the only one.
Tonight, a look at New Orleans' housing nightmare.
Plus, the White House says it screwed up and lost e-mails it should have saved. Democrats aren't buying it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't erase e-mails. Not today. They can't say they have been lost. That's like saying the dog ate my homework.
And now the White House is in the dog house. That's raw politics, when 360 continues.
COOPER (on camera): We're in the Gentilly (ph) neighborhood here in New Orleans. And if you look, on this block, house after house is empty, empty for months now. Ever since Hurricane Katrina hit.
This is a neighborhood where the homes are still standing, but inside many of the homes are completely destroyed.
There is one house on this block, however, that is occupied. It's the home of Alfred and Lois Vance. I'm just walking inside the house right now. They fled the storm. Alfred came back to help rebuild, to literally rebuild his home by himself. He joins me now.
Alfred, thanks for having us in. You've been living in this neighborhood 27 years.
ALFRED VANCE, NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT: Twenty-seven years.
COOPER: What's it like being the only people left in this neighborhood?
VANCE: Well, you know, it's lonely for the present time. But I think it's going to come back. It will take a few years to come back.
COOPER: You're optimistic though?
VANCE: Oh yes, I'm very optimistic.
COOPER: What's it been like, you know, basically rebuilding this thing by yourself?
VANCE: Well, we had to do it. I mean, either you jump in and you did it or you prolong and prolong and of course, it just -- it just won't happen. I mean, if you don't jump in and do it in the very first stages of it, you're just going to procrastinate.
COOPER: Waiting for help from the government and waiting for help from local individuals.
VANCE: No help from FEMA, no help from the local (UNINTELLIGIBLE). None of these things can, really. You know, the road to home, none of that has come true. We took our life savings and everything and you know, put this house back together.
COOPER: Yes, all of these people are still waiting for this road to home money that they keep talking about.
Does it surprise you how long it's been taking?
VANCE: Well, yes it has. It surprised me very much. I mean, we thought it was government's great thing that would help the people and things like that, and it really hasn't materialized.
COOPER: Do you feel like a lot of people in the rest of the country have forgotten about what's continued to happen here?
VANCE: I think so. I think the people has forgotten what's happened. And you know, if you don't make it known and things like that, what's going on in the country, you know, it's just -- you have to -- you have to sound your own whistles. You know, this is a country that nobody looks out for you, you know? You have to look out for yourself really.
COOPER: Well, I'm glad you made it back and I'm glad you're here. And it's been a lot of hard work.
VANCE: Well, yes, it has been.
COOPER: And I hope the neighborhood comes back as well.
VANCE: Would you like to see our kitchen?
COOPER: It looks great. It's -- wow! You did this by yourself? That's pretty impressive there.
VANCE: Yes. We did the kitchen, and we did everything. I mean, I had my sons and my daughter and my wife. We had support here. We're working on my brother-in-law houses now. We're getting them together.
VANCE: So we have a family deal that we're working each one of the houses and getting them.
COOPER: Well, it's great that you have that family support.
COOPER: Appreciate you letting us into your house.
VANCE: You're quite welcome.
COOPER: There are a lot of people here in New Orleans who have come back, who have not been able to rebuild their homes, not able to even afford homes to rent and they're homeless on the streets of New Orleans.
Gary Tuchman spent time with them over the last several days.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You like those colors?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Thousands of New Orleans tourists have met Larry Lawler (ph). He delights the young and young at heart as a balloon man outside the city's famous Cafe Du Monde.
But after the sun sets and night falls in the crescent city...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm taking a can opener.
TUCHMAN: Larry and his wife, Theresa, eat sardines out of a can and sleep in a box under a bridge in downtown New Orleans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every seven days a week.
TUCHMAN: Larry may work every day, but he says he doesn't make enough to afford the low-cost residential hotel they lived in before Katrina.
(on camera): How much more expensive is New Orleans now than it was before Katrina?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh my God.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would say triple amount as much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were paying $35 a night in the hotel, and now it's $75.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): New Orleans is full of homeless people who had places to live before the hurricane, but cannot afford post- Katrina prices.
(on camera): How long have you been living out in the street?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About three months, maybe 3-1/2.
TUCHMAN: What's this like for you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hell.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Thurston James (ph) lived in the lower Ninth Ward. His home was destroyed.
(on camera): Are you depressed?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very. I think I'm losing my damn mind.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): He can't find a steady construction job. And also lives under a bridge.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A $400 house now will cost you anywhere from $800 to a $1,000 a month or more.
TUCHMAN (on camera): Can't afford it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can't.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): A consulting firm has estimated about 58 percent of the city's housing supply suffered major damage from the storm.
Inside this abandoned flood-ravaged church, squatters. Two men who came from Texas who quickly realized they could afford nothing.
(on camera): Are you scared to be here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I'm scared to be here because I don't know what's going on.
TUCHMAN: The conditions in the buildings where these squatters sleep are less than abysmal. Not only the building's falling apart, but they're full of nails and garbage and waste and rodents. And if you're not careful here on the second floor, you'll fall 15 feet to the first floor.
(voice-over): And even for the more fortunate who have homes, life Kewanna Starks, life has become much more difficult.
You had a bigger apartment and better neighborhood before?
KEWANNA STARKS, RENTER: Yes.
TUCHMAN: And you paid how much?
TUCHMAN: And now in a smaller apartment you pay?
TUCHMAN: Experts say the homeless population has doubled since Katrina, from about 6,000 to 12,000. Even though more than half of the people who lived here have not come back. So what should New Orleanians do who want to come back home, but don't have jobs?
BRENNAN RHODES, HOMELESS ADVOCATE: I would tell them straight out, this is the situation right now, you know. Things are rough. We have a lack of resources and if you do come back, you may not have somewhere to stay.
TUCHMAN: Larry and Theresa don't want to leave New Orleans. So she prepares the balloons and he entertains as many people as possible. And then they go back under the bridge, hoping the relatively carefree days before Katrina will somehow come back.
COOPER: So is there anything authorities are doing for them?
TUCHMAN (on camera): Authorities here in New Orleans and the state authorities in Baton Rouge and in Washington the federal authorities know the answers are more housing.
But public housing is the big problem. Five thousand one hundred public housing units were utilized before Katrina. Now it's 1,300 -- 25 percent.
But HUD officials are saying that they expect over the next few weeks or months another 1,000 units will be occupied. So they hope that alleviates the problem a little bit.
But you know what, Anderson? As you well know, nothing will be easy in this city for a long time.
COOPER: Well, good report and well shot as well.
Gary, thanks very much.
Stories like -- and there are plenty of them -- make you wonder if New Orleans can ever get back on its feet. But there are other stories, fewer perhaps in number, but speak to hope, even in the face of so much bitter experience.
Details from CNN's Gulf Coast Correspondent Susan Roesgen.
SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sharrita Bishop came all the way from New Mexico to be a cop in New Orleans. Why?
SHARRITA BISHOP, NEW ORLEANS POLICE DEPARTMENT: I feel like I just fit in here. I feel like this is my niche, this is where I need to be.
The idea of helping somebody, the idea of trying to make a community better I think is what drives me.
ROESGEN: These are the first new recruits to graduate since Hurricane Katrina. Just 30 cops to fill more than 300 openings.
The help wanted signs are up all over New Orleans. A city that lost half its population after the hurricane needs new blood to stay alive.
(on camera): But some of the newcomers are among the best and brightest in the country. And if the hurricane had not hit New Orleans, they might never have come here.
(voice-over) John Alforfd is originally from New York. With an MBA from Harvard, he could work anywhere. But he chose to reopen a school in New Orleans.
JOHN ALFORFD, PRINCIPAL: If I thought in the back of my head that this wouldn't work, I don't know if I would have dropped everything and moved here. But I really do believe it can and will work.
ROESGEN: And New Orleans needs the help. Unopened schools, ungutted houses. To some, what's happened here is a disaster. To others, it's a calling.
PASTOR RAY CANNATTA, REDEEMER PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH: The Lord loves this city. I know he does. And it belongs to him. And that's why we're involved in the rebuild effort because, you know, we're doing it for him. We really believe that he smiled on the city, despite all the heartbreak and brokenness and pain and anguish that this city's experienced.
ROESGEN: Ray Cannatta and his family moved here from New Jersey. He turned down a cushy job in San Diego to be the pastor of a New Orleans church with just 15 members after the storm. New people driven to make New Orleans better. Locals call them the city's new Vanguard.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They believe that New Orleans is one of the greatest challenges in their lifetimes. How could they sit back and go to New York, Boston, Atlanta, when they had this grand opportunity in New Orleans?
ROESGEN: And these new New Orleanians may be Hurricane Katrina's silver lining, rebuilding the city's security, schools, and soul.
COOPER: You know, you do come across these people, and there's an awful lot of them. And they really are part of the hope of this great city. And it remains a great city.
ROESGEN (on camera): The key, though, I think, Anderson, is will they stay? You know, this is a southern city, set in its ways, deeply entrenched social strata, long-time political system in place here. If these people are not rebuffed, if they're actually welcomed here, then I think they'll stay.
But also you know, Anderson, we're about a month and a half away from the start of hurricane season, and God forbid if we have another hurricane, I think all bets are off for everybody.
COOPER: Yes. There really has been a grassroots though energy in trying to help rebuild. And that's the great reason for optimism, I think.
ROESGEN: And I think it's really true, we need this new blood. I mean, so many people here, locals as myself are tired. We're tired of fighting with the SBA, with FEMA, with the insurance. And so it's nice to have these people come in, bring new energy and a new spirit and say, you know what? We love this city. It sort of reminds the locals of why we fell in love with New Orleans in the first place.
COOPER: Yes. And there's still a lot of reasons, as I said, to love New Orleans.
Susan, appreciate it. Thanks very much.
You know, the difference between New Orleans pre-Katrina and now in many ways is staggering. Here's the raw data. Here are some numbers for you. About 484,000 people lived here before the storm. According to the most recent census report, the number now hovers around 223,000. The labor force in New Orleans dropped from 637,000 to 492,000. And for public schools, before the hurricane, there were 128 in the metro New Orleans area. And as of last month, just 57 public schools were open.
Still to come this evening, Rocker Sheryl Crow with a message she says is crucial you hear. She is in New Orleans. We'll talk to her.
Plus, new poll numbers on who has the edge in the race for the White House. That's raw politics, when 360 continues.
COOPER: You know, with all that's still wrong in New Orleans, Washington and politics has a way of making things here look somewhat normal.
One poll in the race for the White House has Dennis Kucinich ahead of Hillary Clinton, while another put John McCain behind someone who's not even running yet.
I won't even mention the missing White House e-mails, but Candy Crowley will. She's got tonight's "Raw Politics" -- Candy.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In "Raw Politics" tonight, Anderson, high tension on the Hill.
Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy thinks the White House is lying about losing e-mails related to the firing of eight U.S. prosecutors.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: I don't believe that. I don't believe that. You can't erase e-mails. Not today.
CROWLEY: The White house says it screwed up by not saving the e- mails and is doing everything it can to find them, including contacting forensic experts. "CSI, the White House."
A virtual and unscientific straw poll of liberal activists, moveon.org asked members which Democratic presidential candidate has best plan for getting out of Iraq. Answer, Barack Obama. Big loser, Hillary Clinton who came in fifth. Virtual ouch.
Self-confessed long shot and anti-war candidate Dennis Kucinich placed third in the poll. He tells the A.P. the other Democrats in the race are waging a fake debate. You cannot, says Kucinich, claim you are for peace and then vote to fund the war.
A new poll shows John McCain running third behind Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson, a guy who isn't even in the race yet. Another ouch.
Truly polls don't say much about who will win but they can make it hard to fundraise. Polls beget money and money begets more money.
Whose party is this, anyway? Democratic committee Chairman Howard Dean is trying to calm union leaders upset that Democrats will hold their convention in Denver in a convention arena that is nonunion. A quarter of the delegates to 2004 convention belonged to a union.
YouTube, the video Web site, is offering presidential wannabes a week of virtual face time for online discussion. The YouTube political honcho tells the A.P. that video peels back the political veneer. Republican Mitt Romney is first up, asking YouTubers what they think is the biggest problem facing the U.S. and what they would do about it. Peeling back the veneer may not be as fun as it sounds.
And that, Anderson, is Thursday's "Raw Politics."
COOPER: Candy, thanks.
Still to come, we catch up with a friend of ours here in New Orleans, a man who at age 83 has rebuild his home here. A home where he raised nine children. And now he wants his wife to come back home.
Also tonight -- these stories.
A pastor and his wife, they seemed like the perfect couple.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know of a couple who are from the very start of their relationship loved each other more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That image was shattered.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mary Winkler confessed to the murder of her husband.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now she is on trial. Is she a shrewd killer or did she snap after years of a loveless and abusive marriage?
Plus rocker Sheryl Crow.
Touring and jamming against global warming. We'll talk to her when 360 continues.
COOPER: In Tennessee, the high profile trial of a woman charged with murdering her preacher husband is underway. Opening statements began with the jury given two very different pictures of the excused. Before going any further we want to caution that the pictures that are in our report and were presented as evidence in court are graphic.
CNN's David Mattingly has the story.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is a case of small town secrets and murder. No one in Selmer, Tennessee saw any problems in the apparent loving marriage between local preacher Matthew Winkler and his wife Mary.
But behind closed door defense attorneys say Mary's life was filled with abuse. And that's why she shot him.
STEVE FARESE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Mary was his whipping boy. He didn't like the way she talked. He didn't like it because she was too fat. She wasn't perfect. And she had to be perfect to be a preacher's wife and not only did she have to be perfect, her children had to be perfect.
MATTINGLY: In March a year ago, church members found Matthew Winkler in the family's home, dead of a shotgun blast to the back. Mary Winkler was arrested in Alabama, after taking her three young daughters on the run.
ROGER RICKMAN, SELMER POLICE DEPT.: Mary Winkler has confessed to the murder of her husband, Matthew Winkler, shooting him on March 22, 2006, leaving Selmer with her three daughters.
MATTINGLY: Prosecutors believe the murder of Matthew Winkler was premeditated with evidence of a motive that had its roots outside the home. Mary Winkler was brought to tears as jurors heard how she shot her husband in the back as he laid in bed. A police photograph showed the jury where he fell onto the floor, wounded and bleeding. His last word asking his wife, "Why?"
WALT FREELAND, ASST. DISTRICT ATTORNEY: A shotgun blast blew apart his ribs. It perforated his ribs, his lung, his diaphragm, his stomach, his spleen, his pancreas, and his adrenal gland.
MATTINGLY: The prosecution says the night before the murder, Mary Winkler and her husband argued about finances, after she tried to cover up how she lost thousands of dollars in a check writing scam, telling the jury she had opened multiple accounts and was juggling money between them.
(on camera): But the defense says Matthew Winkler was in charge, that Mary did nothing without his direction. And that she had no intention of killing him the morning she picked up his shotgun.
FARESE: Mary had been threatened before. She had had that shotgun pointed at her before. She was going to get his attention and there was only one way to get his attention, with the very thing that he had always threatened her with.
The proof will show the gun discharged. Was an accident? She'll tell the truth as to what happened.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): The jury will have to decide. Was it an accident? The tragic end of a secretly abusive marriage? Or did Mary Winkler intend to end her money problems by ending the life of her husband? David Mattingly, CNN, Atlanta.
COOPER: Well, my next guest is praying for her. Vivian Berryhill is the wife of a pastor and she's the president of the National Coalition of Pastor Spouses. She joins me now. Vivian, thanks for being with us. What is your reaction and the reaction of the rest of your organization to this trial?
VIVIAN BERRYHILL, PRES., NATIONAL COALITION OF PASTOR SPOUSES: Well, when the incident happened last spring, of course, we as everybody else in the nation, we were shocked. We were trying to find out what would push this woman to do such a dastardly act. So it's just been shock. And then of course we move now to praying for her and we're just trying to lift her up.
COOPER: And of course, we all want to reserve judgment until all the facts are in and the jury gets to decide on the evidence. As a pastor's wife, and the spouses of the pastors that you deal with, it's got to be a unique form of pressure, a unique situation they find themselves in. What are some of the difficulties that comes with the position?
BERRYHILL: Some of the challenges that come with being a pastor's spouse, first of all, you live in a fish bowl. People expect, the community expects, your church members expect you to look perfect, to be perfect, to act perfect at all times.
And then of course, we have our own self-imposed high expectations, high standards that we put on ourselves, trying to live that myth that we are perfect. And so can we debunk the myth tonight, Anderson? We're not perfect. Our spouses aren't perfect. Our children aren't perfect.
We just are people like everybody else, we just have an additional responsibility and that is to love the congregation and help them to fine their way on a spiritual path.
COOPER: You're also I guess the spouse of a pastor, is also sharing that pastor with a huge congregation so that you -- they must spend a lot of time alone.
BERRYHILL: You have faced loneliness, isolation a lot of times because if the pastor is worth his weight in salt, he should be busy visiting the members, taking care of the parishioners and so pastors' spouses understand when they marry the pastor that you're going to sometimes be a single mom because if he's busy visiting the congregants and the children have to go to basketball practice, cheerleading practice, ballet classes, then it's the responsibility often of the wife of the spouse to take that role, to take on that added responsibility.
COOPER: There was a survey of pastors' wives that was conducted in 2005 and found beyond financial stress one of the biggest frustrations 45 percent said they had been angry, 39 percent reported feeling depressed, five percent had suicidal thoughts. Some of the numbers sound extreme. You say those stats sound accurate?
BERRYHILL: I say the stats are quite accurate. It's across the board, different denominations, black and white. As pastors' spouses we have unique situations, unique circumstances, unique issues that we face and I just look at the spouses who are in our network.
We have 2,598 pastor spouses in our network across the country and I hear from them. We e-mail. We talk. And a lot of them, the issues that we face in the South, they face out West, they face them up North, because it's just a unique challenge being the spouse of a pastor.
COOPER: It's a unique perspective and a difficult position. Vivian Berryhill, appreciate you talking about it. Thank you, Vivian.
BERRYHILL: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: I want to take you back now to the governor's mansion in New Jersey where we are seeing developments. As you know earlier there was a meeting between Don Imus and the team, the Rutgers women's basketball team. That bus, the team bus, has been sitting out there for much of this last hour.
The last report we had from inside, probably 40 minutes ago said the team was still inside. They were discussing whether or not to accept Don Imus' apology, whether or not to make a statement tonight. It is now almost a quarter to midnight on the East Coast. We see some motions at the front door, not sure if that meeting is over. We haven't gotten any new reports from inside as we have been getting but that meeting began around 8:00 p.m.
Don Imus left probably 45 minutes ago or so. The team as of the last report we had, is still inside. And certainly that's the shot earlier of Don Imus leaving, his wife hugging someone at the front door. We had a report from someone inside saying his wife hugged each of the players before leaving.
We're going to continue to follow the story. We'll be right back with more also from New Orleans.
COOPER: Every time we come back to New Orleans we like to check in with people that we've met over the last well, 15, 16 months or so since Hurricane Katrina. One of the people we were looking forward to seeing on this trip is a man we've brought to you before. His name is Herbert Gettridge. He is 83. He is a life long resident of the Lower 9th Ward.
And after the storm, he returned to rebuild the home that he, himself, built 50 years ago. He and his wife raised nine kids in their home and when we last saw him back in January he was still working on the house. His wife was living in Wisconsin waiting for him to finish. I talked to Mr. Gettridge just a short time ago.
COOPER: How long now have you been working on your house?
HERBERT GETTRIDGE, 9TH WARD RESIDENT: I've been working here since March 2006. COOPER: And has anyone moved back in your neighborhood?
GETTRIDGE: There is a few people back there, I'd say about six or seven trailers I see back there. Other than that, ain't too many people back there, not yet.
COOPER: Does it make you sad when you are looking around?
GETTRIDGE: The truth is, no, I don't feel sad because I'm used to being alone. I've been by myself for many days. A spent many long night aboard the ship in World War II.
COOPER: Yeah. It's real important for you to get your wife back.
GETTRIDGE: Positively. Strictly because she wants to come back. And I know she does. I've been way from home lots of times and I know how it is to be homesick. I know what it means to want to come home and can't get there. So that's why I'm scuffling so hard to try to get her back home.
COOPER: What's the first thing you're going to do when you get her home?
GETTRIDGE: Throw a party.
COOPER: Throw a party?
GETTRIDGE: Yeah, man. We're going to throw a party for that. Everybody that's worked there supposed to come. I know they all can't get there.
COOPER: You've had a lot of help, a lot of volunteers.
GETTRIDGE: Man, I've had some wonderful people come over there and work by my house.
COOPER: Does it surprise you how - the outpouring of people want to help you?
GETTRIDGE: In a sense it does because I never had nothing like this happen to me before. Seeing Hurricane Betsy I had to do everything myself. And it took me about a year and a half, close to two years to put that house back in shape.
COOPER: When you look around New Orleans, when you see the way it used to be the way it is now ...
GETTRIDGE: It's sad. It pretty rough, you know. Just looking at some of the places I used to go. That's not only downtown, that's the whole city of New Orleans. There is nothing the same as it was before the storm.
COOPER: Still a great city, though.
GETTRIDGE: It's a great city. And going to be put back. But we need some help here.
COOPER: You're optimistic, you think it's going to come back?
GETTRIDGE: I'm quite sure it will be back. Everybody's not coming back. I don't think everybody will be able to make it back, see?
There is some people that's interested to get back and haven't got the means to get back. And others again say, well, I'm not going back. They just made up their minds to stay away.
COOPER: Well, it's great to see you again. I'm glad you say you're 88 percent done?
GETTRIDGE: Eighty-eight, just about.
COOPER: Some curtains?
GETTRIDGE: Some curtains, I need some curtains and some screen wires, put some screens at my windows. But guess what, she don't have to have all of that to move in. I'll move in tomorrow if she says she's ready. If she's ready to come on, she can move in tomorrow, I'll put them screens up later.
COOPER: What's your wife's name?
COOPER: All right, Lydia, you heard it yourself. He's almost ready for you.
GETTRIDGE: L-Y-D-I-A. Lydia.
COOPER: You're little girl.
GETTRIDGE: Yes, indeed, that's my little girl.
COOPER: Herbert, great to see you again.
GETTRIDGE: Same here. Same here.
COOPER: All right. God bless you.
GETTRIDGE: God bless you, likewise. Thank you.
COOPER: You can stay here for a second.
COOPER: What a party that's going to be. Hopefully she gets back soon. We'll bring you that party if we can. We are continuing to follow, we have gotten word there is going to be a press conference outside the governor's mansion in New Jersey by the Rutgers team or a representative from the team. We of course are going to bring that to you. We're monitoring developments.
We saw Don Imus leaving the house a short time ago. That is the video. Don Imus' wife Deirdre hugging someone outside. We heard a report that she hugged each of the players inside. That the meeting ended on a positive note. We're waiting to see if the team has accepted the apology and what sort of public statement they're going to make and what, if any, the difference any of this is going to make.
We'll be right back.
COOPER: We are awaiting a press conference from the Rutgers women's basketball team. This is video taken about 45 -- well, about 50 minutes ago. Don Imus and his wife leaving the New Jersey governor's mansion. Deborah Feyerick joins us on the phone. Deb, what can you tell us?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on phone): Well, Anderson, they came out about an hour after Don Imus' stretch limousine pulled away. I don't know if you can hear the sound of the buses revving up.
The women basketball players are now boarding the bus. The coach came out followed by all of the players, said she was very, very proud of how they handled the entire situation. She said they were all very, very tired and they would not be making a statement this evening.
I yelled out a question, did they accept Don Imus' apology. She said that right now they weren't in a position to say. They were very tired and they just wanted to go home.
So right now they are boarding that bus. They did look a bit drawn, a bit tired. It's very late at night. It's been a very emotional time for them. They were busy doing national TV today. So it's unclear at this moment whether what Don Imus had to say actually resonated and whether they accepted his apology.
It may be too late for him, he's out of both his radio and his TV job. Anderson?
COOPER: And from what we know about what went on in the meeting, we were told that from one source inside the meeting that it had ended on an upbeat note. We were told by that source that Don Imus' wife had hugged each of the players. Do we know many other details of what went on inside the meeting?
FEYERICK: We really don't. We had a source inside who we were communicating with. They weren't giving us a lot of information. They did say that it was very emotional, that they had been crying. The women couldn't understand why they had been targeted for this hate speech. So again it may have ended on an upbeat note but team, when they came out governor's mansion they weren't willing to say that everything's OK, they didn't want to say that we accept the apology. Right now the bus is just pulling away. It's just moving right out in front of me there.
Standing just in front of the governor's mansion. And they're back on their way home. They're going to get some sleep. I see one of the players on the bus has a cell phone up. So they're clearly communicating with outside. But they're not willing to say it's all right. At least tonight.
COOPER: How long did the meeting go on for, Deb?
FEYERICK: Well, Anderson, our understanding is that it lasted for about two and a half hours. The team got here just before 8:00. The meeting started shortly thereafter. And then as you reported, at about 10:30 is when it started ending up. Don Imus left in his stretch limousine about 10 minutes after that.
And again, they did stay inside for almost an hour. So it's very clear that they were mulling over what had happened and what had been said and the coach, very soft-spoken, praising how her players handled them themselves and what was done. But answering absolutely no questions saying they would decide what to say publicly tomorrow. Anderson?
COOPER: Deb Feyerick, appreciate your reporting.
I want to bring in Amy Holmes, columnist, writer, former speechwriter for former Senator Bill Frist. Amy, what are your thoughts as you hear about the team departing this meeting?
AMY HOLMES, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Anderson, I have to imagine that it's been an incredibly emotional week for them to be in the center of this firestorm, to be getting all of the phone calls and having all the pressure what do you think, will you be forgiving Don Imus?
It can't be easy. Tease are 17, 18, 19-year-old girls. They are young. They are not public figures. They are not public personalities. I said earlier I think it was very gracious of them to agree to meet with Don Imus.
That's what should have happened in the very first place, I think, that Don Imus should have been able -- he should have sought a meeting with them immediately. If they are able to forgive him, I think that would be a terrific tribute to them.
As the phrase goes, to err is human, but to forgive divine. But that's completely, entirely up to them. I think it's a good idea to sleep on it, let their emotions settle just a little bit, mull it over and then maybe we'll hear from them tomorrow.
COOPER: You know we're getting a lot of e-mails from people who are saying, look, enough is enough already, that this is a man who has been publicly broken, whose livelihood has been take an way from him now. Has this gone too far, do you think? Does it become at some point overkill based on the context of what he said?
HOMLES: I think where we are now is exactly where we needed to arrive. That there are two different issues here. There's the personal forgiveness for Don Imus the man, but also the professional repercussions for what he said on air intentionally about these young ladies and it turns out that he has a long history of making these slurs. I don't think anybody has been trying to bring down Don Imus a human being. But certainly saying on our airwaves, from media professionals, from people who hold this public trust we expect more and we expect better.
COOPER: Do you think if there hadn't been prior comments, if there hadn't been this history, it would be a different situation? If this was one comment he had made that he apologized for and said, look, I don't know where that came from, do you think it would have been a different story?
HOLMES: I think that's so hard to say because the slurs that he did use against the women were out of bounds and so extreme.
But clearly the fact that this was after a series of remarks he's made over the course of years, let's name two (ph), Steve Capus, president of NBC News and then Les Moonves, the president at CBS, that they were looking at the whole body of Don Imus' work and they said there had been some really stellar moments in terms of interviewing politicians and being a media star but there have been some really low points and enough was enough.
COOPER: Amy Holmes. Appreciate your comments this evening, as we have all week long.
Larry King is coming up next. That's it for us from New Orleans tonight. Thanks very much for watching. Larry King is now.
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