tv CNN Newsroom CNN June 22, 2013 4:00pm-5:01pm PDT
is just very well deserved. we're very proud of our wolf blitzer. congratulations. i'm jim acosta in "the situation room." the news continues next on cnn. welcome everyone. i promise you you're going to enjoy this hour of news. you're going to get the news here on cnn this hour but i ask that you sit down and i want you to watch without distraction especially the first half hour of this program. we're going to discuss what's garnering the attention of most of the country right now and that is celebrity chef paula deen accused of being a racist. can she recover from it? can anyone in her position recover from it? she is a million dollar empire, $20 million empire. but as you and i know this story goes far beyond paula deen. she is just the catalyst for
what is sometimes uncomfortable and sometimes painful conversation that we all need to have whether we think we need to have it or not. we've assembled a group of people who know a lot about all of this who are going to help drive this conversation tonight including the reporter who broke the story. a crisis management specialist and a culture and race expert. first i want to give you a little bit of background before we start to talk about this. paula deen is a southern fried superstar known for her butter laden recipes and sugar sweet vocal twang. >> take a look. look at all the butter in this kitchen. i've probably got about four pounds of butter. we are going to poach our lobster tails in -- >> so here is where that $20 million empire comes from. it includes cookware, a magazine, restaurants, in savannah, georgia called the lady & sons and uncle bubba's oyster house. in march of 2012, a former
restaurant manager filed a lawsuit against deen and her brother bubba alleging discrimination and racial harassment. the 66-year-old deen testified on may 17th of this year. she admitted she had used the "n" word in the past, but she added, quote, that's just not a word that we use as time has gone on. things have changed since the 1960s in the south. well, wednesday deen's testimony went public, erupting in a firestorm of controversy. thursday deen's camp released a statement saying, in part, to be clear, ms. deen does not find acceptable the use of this term under any circumstances by anyone nor condone any form of racism nor discrimination. friday was bewildering. deen was scheduled to appear on nbc's "today" show to talk about the controversy. then at the last minute deen backed out and canceled the interview. hours later, she released a polished, edited video in which
she apologized and apparently unsatisfied deen then released a more casual video. here is a clip of it. >> your color of your skin, your religion, your sexual preference does not matter to me, but it's what's in the heart and my family and i try to live by that. >> okay. so, you know, that was not enough to save her tv show because late friday food network canned deen announcing it would not renew her contract. deen quickly released a statement thanking food network for 11 great years and then today paula deen's fans and her critics are serving up huge portions of outrage. so let's talk about this now. alexis is in los angeles tonight. she is the person who broke the story on radar online. she is the reason we're talking about it. howard bragman also in los
angeles. tonight he is the chairman of reputation.com. then we'll go to nashville very shortly and talk to tim wise an author and antiracism writer and activist. good to see all of you. alexis, i want to start with you. when you first reported this story, did you have any idea there would be so much outrage around it? >> absolutely. this is paula deen. she has probably had one of the worst years of her life. she's already brewing controversy over her diabetes and not telling the truth about that for three years. when we learned about this we knew it was going to be huge. she is probably one of the most well known chefs in the world because of her charm. but when that charm turns ugly, hardly anybody can forgive that. we realize this was a big story. this is not something that anybody could brush under the rug. this is something that is insulting. it's outrageous. and the fact that she admitted that she did it and said, well yes. you know, 20 years ago i did say this word, was shocking.
it was stunning somebody could be so honest about being so blatantly racist. >> everything in context, though. she did say she was asked in depositions, you're supposed to be as honest as possible. you're supposed to be honest. you are not supposed to lie. so if someone asked her a question, she answered it. she said it was years ago. she did it in the privacy of her own home. she said she did it to her husband after a man went into the bank and robbed the bank at gun point and stuck a gun to her head. now, listen. it's a derogatory term but you're not going to be calling that guy honey after he sticks a gun to your head. >> that is absolutely true. that's what she said, too. she said, i've learned my lesson all these years later. the thing was we also reported on radar online was that she was found in contempt of court by this judge. this was not a happy court case by any means. she was actually ordered to turn over a bloopers reel from food
network where she is doing all sorts of very racy things and making sexual comments and actually using pretty foul language. and so again she refused to do this and this judge found her in contempt of court. she was doing everything in her power to stall this lawsuit and do absolutely nothing to settle it or pay for it. >> do we have the longer version of the apology? i want to play it first and then get howard to respond to see if he thinks she responded correctly. >> your color of your skin, your religion, your sexual preference does not matter to me. but it's what in the heart -- what's in the heart and my family and i try to live by that. and i am here to say i am so sorry. i was wrong, yes. i worked hard and i've made
mistakes. >> okay. howard dean, you're used to dealing with crisis management. there was a more polished video before and then this one was after as you watched it unfold yesterday what were you thinking? >> well, i was -- that's all right. i didn't run for president yet. i was on an airplane and i'm watching, you know, first i saw the first -- the one i called the pink faced version, right? and my mouth was agog. then i'm thinking, this is a professional tv person who can't give us 44 seconds of copy without 58ed its during the middle of it looking inauthentic? then the other one came out. you got towns the big picture strategy. the big picture strategy is you want this story to go away. every time you apologize which to my best count has been four times her lawyer's apology and the three videotapes you continue to make a bigger story. this has been a disaster from
the start. what alexis talked about, the whole deposition was a disaster. not just because she admitted using the "n" word but because she talked about how she wanted to have a plantation theme wedding for her brother. i mean, it's shocking. okay. it's shocking. in 2013 that somebody would be that naive to admit that. that she tells antisemitic jokes and black jokes and, you know, that she would do this. and it's really not up to her to decide what's going to offend other people. i think today she knows what is going to offend other people. yes, don, we have to tell the truth when we go to court and do a deposition. but there is nothing to stop you from solving the case. i have a client with a $20 million a year business empire. i am going to pay a million dollars to make this go away.
we knew where this was going to go and she was getting bad counsel if she wasn't told this was an eimportant moment for th paula deen business. >> when you said that yesterday, howard, i heard you and i immediately texted you on i think it was "the situation room" and you said how can you let a $20 million brand go under for a million dollars? usually lawsuits like this you settle them and you get rid of them because you realize the bigger picture, the larger picture here. that's not happening. >> no. i'm sure there is a bit of anger and you go it's not true and i'm not going to be held blackmail and i'm not going to do this, pay this out. i'm just going to open the doors to other people. but there comes a point when you really have to put your ego aside and say, i got to do what is a smart business decision. if i have to give up a million dollars for $20 million a year it's a pretty good biness decision. bad business decisions.
and interestingly, one media outlet reported today the reason the food network eventually let her go yesterday was because she was handling it so badly. not just what she did but the pr spin or lack thereof. you know, we had a lot of time paula deen, not we, paula deen had a lot of time to clean this up. this is the case that still has to go to court. right, don? it hasn't been settled and now it is going to cost her $5 million to settle as opposed to a million dollars to settle because she certainly doesn't want to go to court and have to recant this testimony and go through this again. so you have weeks, you have days. what you should not do when you're in a crisis is rush. what you should do is take your ti time, decide on your strategy. you asked about this 44-second video. i think she did fair the second time, obviously better than the
first time. there is something about sitting down with a journalist and answering their questions that has a power that putting in your own video and youtube never will have. >> and reaching people, reaching her clients, reaching her fans because many of her friends watch the "today" show and watch morning television and it is all about cooking segments at least a large part of it and a perfect venue, but listen. alexis, i want to get back to you. howard brings up a point. we talked about contempt here. she is being asked these questions in deposition. many times we don't know what happened in this lawsuit that alleges discrimination. it could well be a shakedown and now here you go, paula deen is on the verge of losing everything that she has worked for. >> but here's the thing. this is not a custody battle with a minor child. this is a lawsuit with grown-ups. these are public records. we are going to find out about it. i'm going to find out about it. i will call everyone that i know. i will call everybody that's involved in this. and the news will break. there is no such thing as a
secret anymore. if you have something this damaging out there, you need to be ahead of it. i agree with howard. this was handled so poorly especially because there is somebody who was wronged here. this woman that has sued paula, she wants her case in the public eye. she knows it is going to do even more damage. this is how she is going to get her money. it's news. there is not a secret, paula. this is something that is public record and something that you had to know people were going to find out about. to also wait a week or even, you know, now almost two months to handle it, this is something that is an easy news get for people. >> stand by, guys. lots more to talk about this and again we're waiting for tim wise to speak about the cultural significance of this. and also, you've heard people say, black people say the word. rappers say it. guess what? many african-americans are defending her. some in her own restaurant last night. you'll hear from them as well. ♪ [ slap! ] [ male announcer ] your favorite foods fighting you?
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well, everything but palm trees, sunshine and fruity drinks, that is. okay. welcome back. we were talking about the paula deen story tonight really about race in america. alexis is in los angeles and broke the story at radar online. howard bragman is in l.a. there he is. by the way, howard is the chairman of reputation.com. sorry for calling you howard dean a little earlier. in nashville, tennessee there is my friend tim wise. we were trying to get you up and had a little technical issue. tim is an author and antiracism writer and activist. let's talk about, before we talk
about the reaction from african-americans, if you can roll the sound -- this is one of the best conversations i saw, one of the most articulate conversations on 360 last night with anderson and his guest. i want to roll this sound bite and then we'll talk about it. listen. >> southern cuisine and black culture are intricately combined, right? so she has benefited and participated and elevated a big part of african-american and american culture that she has not acknowledged. she could have done this without jeopardizing her case like really be clear. i understand the culture in which i have been participating and benefited and i am sorry and giving some historic context to the triggers that she has touched. she made no mention of the civil war and what a horror the institution of slavery is. she made no reference that jim crow is homeland terrorism. she has no compassion and comprehension for what she -- >> not just the apology.
>> okay. so listen. people talk about the first thing people say, no one wants to be accused of being a racist. right? that's like the worst thing you can do is accuse someone of being a racist. but you can have racist thoughts. you can have racist actions and not be a full racist and i think many people don't realize that. someone saying the "n" word or not noticing cultural references as she has all of this time. those are racist qualities. am i wrong? >> no. that is absolutely right. it's really about the blindness of white america to not only the history of that word and its meaning but also the history that she nostalgiaizes when she talks about wanting to have a plantation wedding for her relative and what not. about a year ago she was over at the "new york times" doing a conversation with a reporter there that's on video where she says back in those days blacks were like our family. we didn't think of ourselves as prejudiced. now here is what is troubling about that to me. putting aside paula deen. i got to be honest i don't
really care what paula deen thinks about matters of race but what i do care about is the fact that folks are defending what she says and believes based on her age and that she is southern. here is the problem with that. my mother is two weeks older to the day than paula deen. she was born two weeks before paula deen and yet she raised me to know that not only are those kinds of words unacceptable, but that in fact the history of the antebellum south is not something to glorify. it is not something to wax nostalgic about. it is something to be horrified by. so when paula deen discovered on that show "who do you think you are" that she had a distant relative that owned 30 some odd other human beings instead of being horrified by that she sort of acted, i mean the way i saw it when i watched the show shall it was almost like, wow. we were important people. when my family found out or when i found out when my mom found out that we had also owned other human beings in our family we were horrified. there have always been white southerners, whether paula deen knows it or not and whether her defenders do who have stood up and said this kind of thing is wrong even going back to the
colonies when georgia was a colony before the revolution. there were whites in the georgia colony who petitioned king george to end slavery because it was an evil institution. so i'm less concerned with paula deen than with the ahistorical way in which people have defended her. oh, she is 66. she's from the south. what do you expect? what i expect is that she and other white southerners step up and be instead of that person be bob zellner, be ann braden. be virginia foster. >> or be tim wise. >> women and men who have stood up and done the right thing. >> or be tim wise who is also a southerner and speaking like this. tim, this encapsulates what you are sort of talking about from "time" magazine. it says deen made a pile of money off a certain idea of old school southern culture. in return she had an obligation not to embody that culture's worst most shameful history and attitudes. instead, in one swool she single-handedly affirmed people's worst suspicions of
people who talk and eat like her. along with glibly insulting minorities she slurred many of the very fans who made her successful. she made it much harder to say that confederate bean soup is just a recipe. >> right. there is nothing that we ought to remember nostalgically about that era. the food is wonderful. the food is also heavily influenced by african culture. so recognizing that, recognizing that in order to be a member of the new south, one needs to take back from that old south the positive areas rather than putting forth the negative view. what disturbs me as a white southerner who knows that antiracist tradition, who remembers my father's mother born in 1920 stood up to her own father who was in the klan and convinced him to leave the klan said basically you either burn your robes tonight or i'm going to do it, if she could do that in 1937 then paula deen can certainly be horrified by her own language and by things like
plantation themed weddings in 2011-2012-2013. >> okay. one more sound bite from ac 360 last night. >> she is profiting off southern culture today. so to say that she was born at a time when that was okay, i don't buy that. i feel like her fried chicken has come home to roost and that she has to make a real effort and get uncomfortable to make an historic connection to where she is living and how she's living. >> so then how -- you said there's one thing i have to disagree with you on. when you said i don't care what paula deen says about or feels about race. i do because of that quote because of what was said last night on 360 because there are a lot of people who think like that, who think just because, i say this in private or because i said it years ago or i happened to not think that it's bad that i'm not a racist. she reaches those people. that's her audience.
i care what she says because she can make a big difference. >> it is not that i don't care. i want to make the point this is far bigger than paula deen and the issue is really the way in which so many white folks are blind to the way racism historically and even today continues to do real damage and how we are often complicit in it even if we're not at our core evil people because we've internalized a lot of those biases which she may very well internalized and which a lot of other people have. >> okay. stand by. as i said, a lot of people are supporting her including african-americans, many at her restaurant. we'll hear from them and we'll talk about can she recover? can she recover from this $20 million a year business from this crisis? we'll talk about that right after the break.
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online. howard bragman is in l.a., the vice chairman of reputation.com. in nashville, tennessee my friend tim wise an author and antiracism writer and activist. so let's talk about people supporting her. there have been women outside her restaurant, people in her restaurants, many african-americans, supporting her. and she is being supported by a pastor in her hometown as well. first let's listen to the ladies supporting her outside the restaurant. >> just because you said the word, the "n" word doesn't make you a racist. i believe to be a racist it has to be some type of action shown toward the opposite race in a hate or negative way. to say she is a racist because she admitted to verbally saying the word, the "n" word doesn't make her a racist.
does it? >> okay. then the women outside her restaurant. >> was it right? no. i mean, she could have used another term. but, hey, it was a mistake that she made. >> she made a mistake and she probably shouldn't have said that but she has apologized and i think maybe we all take it for what it's worth. it sounded sincere i think it is a learning lesson for her and for the people that do forgive. i would forgive her. >> all right. right up your alley howard bragman, tim wise. first of all the pastor said because she does all of these great things that does not make her a racist. tim? >> well, go ahead, howard. >> oh, me. okay. i don't think it's about is she a racist, is she not a racist.
i mean, look. most of the research says we've all internalized a certain degree of racial bias. that just becomes a boring argument and a boring discussion. what i think we want to be clear about is that the use of that word, especially in the context where she admits using it, which was in an angry, hateful way -- those who want to say rappers use it. okay. paula deen ain't a rapper. she is not using that word to say hey, my n word let's go down to mickey d's and get a coke. that wouldn't even be appropriate. she used it in anger after a black man held her up. when you say it's not hateful if someone says that, the way she used it, the way she has confessed to using it actually was sort of hateful. so whether she is a racist or not the use of the term was racist and her nostalgia for the old south is incredibly problematic in that context. >> okay. so now to you howard. you heard those women. they said hey, i would forgive her. the pastor is saying, forgive
her. you think she'll be okay? >> you know what? don, words hurt. words damage people. i have been involved in the gay and lesbian community too long. i've seen kids kill themselves because of words because of bullying because of what people have said. the pastor is wrong. words do hurt. words reinforce the worst of us. paula deen is better than this. as a pure business entity they should be smarter than this. it's wrong on so many levels. the callousness with which she went into the deposition and talked about jewish jokes and black jokes and let people decide themselves. just callousness. and i don't think she's an uncaring, insensitive woman. we can forgive her. i believe in this society as we look back save for o.j. simpson and bernie madoff we've forgiven almost everybody, okay, who's made huge transgressions.
we will forgive her but she is never coming back whole. her empire will never be as big and robust as it was. she will never make as much money. she will never have as much respect and the day she dies this will be in her obituary. she has to wear the stain the rest of her life and she's earned it. >> what should she do now, howard? what she should do is a couple things. she should circle the wagons with her team. she should go to, you know, paula has a huge empire. she has mattresses, furniture, ham, restaurants, food. she should go to every person that's there, make a specific, personal apology, a trip if she needs to, say i'm there. talk about what she's willing to do going forward. the second strategy is probably take some of the empire and shift it over to her sons. when the food network let her go they didn't let her sons go. so you change it from paula deen
empire to the deen family empire. let her sons be the face of some of the endorsements, be the face of the tv show, and try and keep as much as you can. you have to stop the bleeding. you have to stop the attrition, don. >> okay. alexis, you know, we've been talking a lot about race here but this story goes on even beyond race. this is only really the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this particular story. >> you're exactly right. what the woman who is suing paula is alleging is that she was also forced to watch, well, not watch but the men were playing pornography during working hours. she would see that. and she was sexually harassed. so three terrible things. there is a lot more to come from this. this is not just going to go away because paula apologized for using the "n" word 20 years ago. she has to face all of the details of this particular lawsuit and it is an ugly one. >> okay. tim, you always come, whenever you come on you blow up our twitter feed, my twitter feed, cnn's twitter feed. there are people saying this is exactly what is wrong with
america. what don lemon and tim wise are talking about now. it is reverse racism. why are you guys, you seem giddy. why are you vilifying paula deen? >> well, i mean, vilifying? i said at the outset i didn't even care that much about paula deen. what i'm trying to say is that i think, and this is the irony of this, i think that white folks are better than this. i think that we are capable of better than this. i think that white southerners are capable of better than using our region and our past as an excuse for racist behavior. if anything i'm saying the white folks don't fall into this stereotype of white southerners which is what people who make excuses for her are doing. they are putting on those of us who are white and from the south the idea that, well, we just can't help it because we're from down here and we eat grits and we learned to use the "n" word on our mother's knee. i mean, this is foolishness. you know, the reality is we are capable of better. we have proven that that there have been whites in the civil rights struggle, in the
abolition struggle going back hundreds of years. let's aspire to that rather than making excuses for the history of the region and its racism and people who still seem somewhat trapped in it. >> those are our closing thoughts. tim wise, thank you. alexis and of course howard. we appreciate you guys and we'll see you real soon. straight ahead in the newsroom for the second time in days police search the home of the new england patriots tight end aaron hernandez walking away from the house with about a dozen evidence bags. jurors in the george zimmerman trial will hear 911 calls from the trayvon martin killing but not any expert testimony about it. just who is screaming in the background. and lawmakers say he is a traitor and they are pushing hard to have hong kong send edward snowden home to face espionage charges. [ driver ] today, my ambulance knew all about a bike accident, just by talking to a helmet. it grabbed the patient's record before we even picked him up.
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let's take a look at the headlines right now just half past the hour. the daring and dangerous world of professional wing walking is a small one and there's not many of those performers left and tonight there's one fewer. look carefully. that is a woman standing on the wing of that stunt plane looping and diving and thrilling an air show crowd today in dayton, ohio. she is jane wicker one of the most well known wing walkers in america. just a few minutes after this video was recorded something awful happened.
>> i'm jane. >> i'm charlie. watch this. jane wicker sitting on top of the world. oh, no. >> well, we froze the video because we don't show the moment when someone dies. jane wicker and her stunt pilot both were killed in that crash today. it happened at the dayton air show. one of the biebiggest in americ with thousands of people watching. no word on what caused the plane to crash. a big step in the george zimmerman case today that could change the course of the trial. the judge ruled the testimony from two prosecution witnesses who analyzed screams of 911 calls cannot be used. those calls were from neighbors who heard a fight the night trayvon martin died. the analysts' testimony is out but the judge said the audio can be played during the trial and witnesses familiar with the voices of zimmerman or martin can still be called to testify.
opening statements begin monday morning 9:00 a.m. eastern. >> there it is. deadly floods devastating homes near calgary, canada. at least 10,000 people have been evacuated. some leaving in boats and canoes. gas and power have been cut off. heavy rains soaked calgary and nearby areas in brown waters, flood waters. authorities say two people were killed and a third person now missing. the u.s. wants hong kong to hand over edward snowden. an administration source says that u.s. officials have contacted hong kong authorities about extraditing the man who admitted to leaking details of u.s. surveillance programs. an extradition battle could be lengthy. federal prosecutors have filed espionage charges against snoweden, including theft of government property, leaking classified information, and leaking national defense information. we'll be right back.
it's one focus in a murder investigation tonight. this is a massachusetts home of aaron hernandez, a tight end for the new england patriots. a friend of his was found shot to death this week a half mile away. police visited the hernandez home yesterday and then again today. they searched it twice. so live right now cnn's susan candiotti. susan, how long were police there today and what did they take out of there? >> reporter: hi, don. they carried out at least a dozen evidence bags, medium sized paper bags, after spending four hours inside the home. and of course the key question is, what was inside those evidence bags? no one has the answer to that right now and another key question is, will all of this
ultimately result in an arrest warrant for aaron hernandez? no one has the answer to that question at this time. we can tell you this. detectives wearing protective gloves were inside the house today carrying all kinds of equipment. we also saw at least two police dogs inside. and as well a lock smith was in there carrying equipment in and out of the house before ultimately everybody pulled out. we did not see aaron hernandez at all today. however, at this hour his attorney is still inside the home with him and as you indicated, this isn't the first time investigators searched the home. they were also here on tuesday and spent a lot of time at that moment also. >> so, susan, yeah. is that just some crazy person yelling? nothing official right snncht apparently some passersby right now, i don't know, at first i thought it might be the lawyer leaving the house but no. >> all right. we'll move on. is the hernandez home the only
place police are searching right now? >> reporter: no, you know, also detectives executed a search warrant on thursday. we learned about it today. and that was at a strip club in providence, rhode island. we went there today and police confirmed to us that search was part of the ongoing murder investigati investigation. the victim's body was found less than a mile from here. down at that strip club we know that authorities took away a copy of surveillance camera video from inside that club and that it consisted of more than a couple of days' worth of video. now, exactly what they were looking for, evidence that perhaps aaron hernandez was there, perhaps that oden lloyd was there. we don't know. we don't have those answers yet. >> okay. again, we want to say, he has not -- aaron hernandez has not been named a suspect, not been charged in anything, but i do
want to know, because yesterday when -- when i was on the air he had not really been seen in public for about a day and he hasn't said anything. has he been seen, has he said anything? >> no. we haven't seen him at all today. we saw him return home after being away from home for several hours. he had left there the day before and only returned yesterday. so he spent a night away from home. but no sightings of him, no statements from him. only one from his lawyer who said that they're not going to comment about any of this because of the ongoing process as they call it, the ongoing investigation. at the end of it. that's when the lawyer said he would have something to say. >> ah. this is an intriguing story. i wonder how it is going to end up. thank you, susan. appreciate it. >> right. from the trial of whitey bulger to another search for jimmy hoffa to the death of television's most famous mobster, it's been a mob heavy week in the news. we'll hit the highlights and
funny how, like i'm a clown? >> once you enter this family, there's no getting out. >> america has long been captivated by all things mafia. this week we've seen a number of stories that have brought the mob frenzy back in full force. it all starts with a trial of reputed boss and mob boss james "whitey" bulger.
>> he is the lowest of the low. he's a mass murderer, like i said before. he's destroyed hundreds of families. >> his top associate and confessed killer john monarato took the stand revealing grisly details about murders in which bulger was allegedly involved. we would follow that car and pulled upside and gave it what you called a broadside. both guns shooting at once. near detroit the fbi acting on a tip spent days digging up a michigan field trying to find the remains of former teamsters boss jimmy hoffa. >> my fondest hope that we can give that closure not just to the hoffa family but also to the community to stop tearing that scab off with every new lead and bring some conclusion. >> this lead came from a convicted mafia captain. hoffa vanished in 1975 and was legally declared dead seven years later. while hoffa's legacy may have resurfaced, his body did not. in new york, another dig.
this time investigators unearthed human remains in the former home of the late jimmy "the genett" burke. you may not recognize that name but he was the real life >> always keep your mouth shut. >> reporter: then came the sudden death of james gandolfini, who died of a heart attack in rome. >> are you in the mafia? >> am i in the what? >> whatever you want to call it. organized crime. >> that's total crap. >> reporter: gandolfini is best known for his role as mob boss tony soprano in the hbo series "the sopranos." >> tony, i'm sorry. i'm sorry. i'm just having some bad luck. >> it just got worse. >> there was never a character as dark and complicated as tony soprano on american television. gandolfini sort of created an archetype. tony soprano would become the catalyst for so many other dark,
secretive characters. >> well, there is no question the mob mystique has long fascinated americans. but do the movies and books tell the real story of organized crime? we're going to talk with a former mafioso. next on cnn. where we switched their fruits brosand veggiestand with produce from walmart. it's a fresh-over. that's great. tastes like you just picked them. so far it's about the best strawberry i've had this year. walmart works directly with growers to get you the best quality of produce
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okay. from the whitey bulger trial to the death of james gandolfini, this week has been packed with things about the mob. we've become obsessed with it. and i want to bring in now michael francisi, a former mobster who was once listed as number 18 on "fortune" magazine's list of the 50 most wealthy and powerful mafia bosses. wow, that's some claim to fame. so we've been talking to whitey bulger, jimmy hoffa, jimmy burke. during your time in the business did you run across these characters or these guys? >> i knew jimmy burke pretty well. as a matter of fact, the last time i saw jimmy was in
lewisburg penitentiary. he did me a few favors when i first got in there. so i knew him well. i didn't know whitey, although i think i ran into him at the 3rd street promenade because i live around there. that's where they picked him up and he was hanging out and i could have sworn i saw him. but never met him. and of course hoffa was a bit before my time. >> yeah. so you know, for decades the mob ruled major cities like new york, detroit, las vegas, chicago, all of them. but i mean, they've been pretty much stamped out. what's the status now on organized crime? >> you know, it's still there. i mean, juliani led the charge in the '80s and they did a job on all five families, put a lot of guys away, myself included. but back then, you know, they had 1,400 fbi agents on all five families. today i believe they have less than 100. and what happens, don, these things kind of run, you know, in phases. and every ten years or so there's this big -- you know,
big strike against the mob, and then they let up a little bit and the mob builds up. and i think that's what's going to happen now. you're going to see it building up again because these guys are pretty resourceful. i wouldn't count them out. >> okay. so i've already told you that my favorite movie, one of my favorite movies is "goodfellas." but how real "goodfellas," "the godfather," "sopranos," "scarface." how real are they? >> well, "godfather" was a great movie but it was fictional. it edit probably did more for the image of the mob than anything out there. it was terrific. godfather 1 and 2. the third one they lost it. goodfellas, probably the most accurate depiction of the mob. i knew all of those guys very well. i knew henry hill. they actually mentioned my name in "goodfellas." but very realistic. same with "donnie brasco." very well done. as fares "the sopranos" was concerned, it was entertaining, the characters were good, but let me tell you this, if a mob
boss was ever visiting a psychiatrist, he'd be in the trunk of the car by the end of the week along with the psychiatrist. so that's about how real that was as far as the story was concerned. but the intriguing part was really the relationship that tony soprano had with his family. that's what was interesting to me. and i think that's what interested most people. >> michael franzese, good stuff. got to come back. thank you, sir. >> will do. okay. >> i'm don lemon in new york. thank you so much for watching us. "nancy grace: behind bars" next. s story. working for a company where over seventy-five percent of store management started as hourly associates. there's opportunity here. i can use walmart's education benefits to get a degree, maybe work in it, or be an engineer, helping walmart conserve energy. even today, when our store does well, i earn quarterly bonuses. when people look at me, i hope they see someone working their way up. vo: opportunity, that's the real walmart.
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offers strategies that can help. ♪ have you heard of this jodi arias woman? >> she's getting everything that she has coming to her. she needs to get -- let her burn. >> you see so much manipulation, so many lies and so many con artists in here, this is just like a snake pit. >> i've been doing this so long, you'd think i would learn. you know? >> it's the same old thing every day. it's aw hard way to live. jail is terrible. it's no place to be. but you know, we keep making the decisions to come back.