tv CNN Newsroom CNN September 7, 2014 11:00am-12:01pm PDT
last last goes to guinea. the study warned about the uneven face of change around the world. thank you for being part of my program this week. i'll see you next week. hello, everyone. i'm fredricka whitfield. these are stories topping our news this hour. tears shed today for a woman who made the world laugh. joan rivers is remembered during a private funeral as a loving mother, grandmother, and good friend who was never afraid to poke fun at anyone including herself. >> i do not cook. i hate to cook. cooking is boring and it's stupid. flies come to my kitchen have to brown bag it. the last time my husband had a hot meal the house was on fire. >> we'll have details on rivers' funeral and hear from a close
friend who knew her for decades. legendary comedian and actress carol burnett will join us live and owner of the nba atlanta hawks announces he's selling the team after what he called "inappropriate and offensive" language he used in an e-mail to his co-owners. why he decided to voluntarily give up the team. we begin in new york where family and friends of the late joan rivers are bidding a final farewell to theled legendary co. joan rivers wanted her funeral to be a huge showbiz event with lights, cameras, action and it seemed as though that happened
including a red carpet, right? >> reporter: i think the only regret of the entire day really was that joan rivers wasn't here to see it because so many friends came out saying it was exactly what joan rivers would have wanted and what she had planned. a signature sendoff from new york city police department's pipes and drums band. they played "new york, new york" right out in the middle of the street for the crowd to see and they played "send my regards to broadway" and hugh jackman performed "smile." we know that audra mcdonald performed a song. a ceremony and service filled with a-list stars. something that joan rivers expected and wanted to have at her memorial service. everyone from howard stern who spoke inside cracking some
inappropriate off colored jokes that had the crowd laughing. kathy griffin was inside. lots of media stars from barbara walters to diane sawyer, kathie lee gifford, barbara walters. a lot of people inside say there were plenty of opportunities to laugh which is what a lot of them believe joan rivers would have wanted during this service. she was spoken about by her longtime friends and columnist. she was spoken about by deborah norville and her daughter spoke about her mother as well. we asked people here what it was like for melissa inside. a sad and sourful day for her and her family but they said that she was really very composed. stoic in some senses. she spoke and she was able to make people laugh, which shows
that she's every bit her mother's daughter. so i think that a lot of people came here looking for something that would be upbeat and uplifting. the way fitting to remember joan and it sounds like that is what they got. one more note here, fred. the new york city gay men's chorus also performed inside. we're told the hit number was "hey big spender." all of it joan rivers' style. >> fantastic. thank you so much. we've got much more about this legend because we'll be joined by another comic legend and close friend of joan rivers. carol burnett joining us live to reflect on their longtime friendship. a conversation with carol burnett just 15 minutes away. let's turn now to the fight against isis. president barack obama says he's ready to outline his plan to defeat the terror organization.
he hannounced that he'll have a speech on wednesday where he'll explain to the nation what he calls his game plan going forward. this morning on "meet the press" the president gave a preview of what we should expect. >> we're not looking at sending in hundred thousand american troops. we're going to be part of an international coalition carrying out air strikes in support of work on the ground by iraqi troops, kurdish troops. we are going to be helping to put together a plan for them so that they can start retaking territory that isil had taken over. what i want people to understand is that over the course of months we are going to be able to not just blunt the momentum of isil, we're going to systematically degrade their capabilities and shrink the territory that they control and ultimately we're going to defeat them.
>> as president obama said there, the u.s. will continue to use air strikes against isis and today it is doing just that. the latest round was launched near the dam, iraq's second largest. defense secretary chuck hagel talked about why the dam is so critical. >> if that dam would fall into isil's hands or if that dam would be destroyed, the damage that that would cause would be very significant and it would put a significant additional and big risk into the mix in iraq which would also risk our interests as well. >> we go to baghdad now. who is in control of the area around that dam right now? >> reporter: well, fredricka, this is an ongoing operation. this offensive that began at
5:00 this morning with iraqi ground troops backed by u.s. air cover is still ongoing. officials say here that they are making progress. they have managed to push back isis in certain areas around the dam. to give you some background, the haditha dam is in anbar province bordering syria. as you probably recall back in january is where we saw isis begin those breathtaking advances taking control of most of anbar province including fallujah. the city of haditha and the dam has been under control of iraqi security forces and sunny tribes in the area. over recent weeks and months there have been several attempts by isis to try and capture that dam and officials here tell us they have been really concerned about the attacks by isis. they've been targeting the dam and they have been using mortars
and they worry about the dam being damaged that could have impacted baghdad. this is why they requested the support of the u.s. military providing them with this air cover. they focus this offensive today on an area that is six miles west of haditha and it enabled them to make some advances but still an ongoing operation and again, fredricka, an expansion of the u.s. military air strikes now moving from northern iraq now into the west of the country. >> all right. keep us posted there from baghdad. thanks so much. and a surprise move from an nba owner. the atlanta hawks owner announces he is selling the team after using what he called inappropriate and offensive language in an e-mail that he brought to the attention of the nba. details on that coming up.
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another nba owner will lose his franchise because of comments involving race. in a pro-active move, atlanta hawks controlling owner announced he's voluntarily selling his team. he says he made inappropriate and offensive comments. his words. in an e-mail he sent to his co-eners back in 2012. we have that e-mail and here's part of what he said saying this. i start looking around our arena during our games and notice the following. it's 70% black. cheerleaders are black. music is hip-hop. at the bars it's 90% black. there are few fathers and sons
at the game. my theory is the black crowd scared away the whites and there are not enough affluent enough black fans to build a significant season ticket base. southern whites weren't comfortable being in an arena or a bar where they were in the minority. nba commissioner adam silver commended levenson for self-reporting this e-mail to the league. silver said in a statement "prior to completion of the investigation, mr. levenson notified me last evening that he decided to sell his controlling interest in the atlanta hawks. as mr. levenson acknowledged the views he expressed or entirely unacceptable and in stark contrast to the core principles of the national basketball association. i commend mr. levenston for self-reporting to the league office, for being fully
cooperative with the league and its independent investigator and putting the best interest of the hawks, the atlanta community and the nba first." this is very unusual, you know. especially in this post-donald sterling kind of nba culture now. you have an nba owner who elects to remove himself from the process and who elects to say what i have said is inappropriate. >> clearly he was very frustrated owner. if you read the full e-mail, he was very frustrated about the fact that they couldn't build a more affluent fan base and he explored some of the reasons in the e-mail or at least his perspective and what he felt about it. but it's interesting because earlier this year he was very vocal about the whole donald sterling thing. in fact, he even appeared on this network speaking to wolf blitzer about his views. let's have a quick listen. >> donald sterling, what he
said, i'm his partner. i can't be partners with somebody who shares those views. i was voted into this league by my partners. i can be voted out of this league by my partners. i think i speak for all my partners when i say we were all deeply offended and we quickly spoke out against these words that we heard on that tape. >> so this e-mail sent to two co-owners was sent two years ago in august 2012. it was this july that he decided to self-report himself to the nba and before they even finished their investigation, he announced that he was selling his controlling interest in the team anyway. the whole thing is a bit strange for sure. >> the question remains, what precipitated this epiphany two years after the e-mail and two years after his comments about donald sterling on our air and on the record condemning those kinds of remarks that donald sterling articulated.
>> maybe he just wants to sell the team? a cynic would argue that he got more publicity for this this way and this is just a theory. you look at the l.a. clippers, they were not a particularly valuable franchise. they were valued at $575 million. they were sold for $2 billion after we had all been talking about them and nothing else for two months. the hawks are not a valuable franchise. $425 million is their estimated value. thy are the 27th most valuable team out of 30 in the league. perhaps this is, for example, just a way of putting a bit of interest around and letting everyone know the hawks are up for sale. >> so if that were the case, would something like this help increase the value. 425 million atlanta hawks. that a team owner removes himself, does that help raise the value? if that were his strategy since a lot of people as you say are
trying to kind of figure this one out, you know -- >> we are just trying to figure it out. you wouldn't have thought being a businessman that being in a position where you are forced to make a sale would be a strong negotiating position to be in. yet it clearly worked in the case of donald sterling and the clippers. we just don't know. >> maybe he knows something possibly about what interest there may be somewhere some potential bidders out there for a stake in the team. >> maybe. we'll see. >> yeah. okay. lots of unanswered questions. it's the most perplexing thing, isn't it? quite the contrast from trying to drive an owner out and now you have one that's voluntarily removing himself from the equation and it's so confusing. >> i don't know how often you've watched the hawks. it's an odd atmosphere in the arena. they're not a well supported team. the fans do arrive late. >> it's always been a full house when i've been there.
>> you picked the good games. atlanta is a strange city. a lot of people are transplants here. away team is better supported than the home team. perhaps there are things they can do with the team to get better support. i don't know how they go about it. >> all right. i know you continue to dig on the why trying to get the answers and rachel nichols is as well joining us later to talk about this very odd, odd situation with this nba team. all right. thanks so much. appreciate it. joan rivers is being remembered today as a genius comic but also a very loyal friend. we'll hear from one of her dearest friends, fellow comedian carol burnett. she joins us live when we come right back. ... ...which eyes? eyes that pivot with the road... ...that can see what light misses... ...eyes designed to warn when yours wander...
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a lot of admiration and respect being felt today by joan rivers. we're lucky enough to be joined right now on the phone by carol burnett. good to have you with us. >> thanks, fredricka. how are you doing today? >> i'm doing great. you two were close. >> we were. >> how do you describe your relationship? >> we had not seen each other for a long time because joan mainly was in new york, and i am
in california. i've known joan -- she was on my show back in the day three times and killed every time. i mean, the audience just loved her and we loved having her on. we did also on my show when we would have a standup comedian or a singer or a dancer, we would incorporate them into some of our sketches so it wasn't just like, okay, they're going to go do their thing. we put them to work and joan was terrific in the sketches and very funny because she was a good actress. >> my goodness. what was that like? you are a trailblazer and you were still one of very few women driving the comedy machine and then to have joan rivers in your company also a trailblazer. did you look at one another and
feel like you had that common denominator that you were both trail blablazers and it would b natural that you would become friends. >> joan nor i ever thought we were blazing any trails. >> really? >> we were just doing what we loved to do. and that was it. and lucy was a trailblazer in sitcom. i don't think when she did it, she would know that would be her legacy. nor did i feel that way as far as being -- i got my show on a fluke because it was a contract that i had that cbs had to put me on the air doing a variety show. had to. at my discretion. that was something in a contract that was never done before and certainly wouldn't be done since and when i said, okay, that's what i want to do, cbs tried to
talk me out of it by saying it's a man's game. variety is not for women, you know. it's dean martin and so forth but because i had that in the contract, i did it. i never would have had the show if i hadn't had that crazy little clause in the contract. now, joan coming up, i guess you could say she's a poster child for the energizer bunny. she never stopped. she loved -- because she loved what she was doing and that's the key. we weren't setting out to set examples or anything like that. luckily we got work. >> you know, i know you don't want to consider yourself a trailblazer but you know you are as is joan rivers and even with this variety show, you know, you
being the first woman to have this variety show so then when you fast forward and hear that joan rivers is going to have her own late-night show. the first woman to do it. at the time, what were your thoughts? what do you think she was feeling about that opportunity? we know that caused a rift between she and johnny carson. what were your feelings watching that? >> i'm not privy to what went on between them. only what i heard. i heard what joan said and so forth. i'm not involved with that. but when she got that job, i thought, terrific. because she was so great on carson's show she guest hosted and so why not? that would have been the next obvious step for her. >> yeah. >> i thought it was terrific. i thought it was great she would have that opportunity. >> what are you going to miss
about your friend? >> well, the last time i actually saw joan was when she asked me to do a bit on her reality show. and in the bit -- we both wrote it. we improvised it. i'm supposed to get mad at her. and just stalk off. leave like i'm really ticked off at you, joan, and i left. unknown to joan and me it went viral and there are a lot of people that thought i was actually angry with her. we wrote the bit. it really wasn't a true reality. it was a whole thing that was a put on. any way, that was the last time i saw her. the last time i spoke with her and this will tell you that joan off camera or off stage, she was the opposite of the persona she
presented. i had to put my little pet cat down. she was 15 years old. losing a pet is like losing part of your family. >> that is your child. >> joan heard about it and she called me and she was so sweet and darling over the phone. she said, carol, carol, now, take it from me. i had to put -- >> wow. carol burnett. >> i'm sorry. i think you dropped off a bit there. you're back with us. >> i'll tell you why. this is funny. joan says you have to get a new kitten. you must, carol. you have to have another one. it won't take the place of mabel who was my cat. she said i had to put one of my dogs down and what saved my life was that i got another little
critter to love. and that's what you need. you need another little critter to love. so i got another little critter and she is now eight months old. and she just now stepped on the phone and cut us off. >> she wanted to be a part of this tribute as well. very cute. carol burnett, what a great honor to talk with you as you remember your dear friend, joan rivers. of course all of us loved watching your variety show and all that you represent as well. thank you for your time. thank you. straight ahead, president barack obama delaying action on immigration reform. is it a strategic move or political gamble before the crucial november election?
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bottom of the hour. i'm fredricka whitfield. here are stories crossing the cnn news desk right now. parents in the denver area are on the alert. hundreds of children are getting sick with a rare respiratory virus. some are landing in intensive care. colorado is the latest state with doctors are seeing signs of what resemble a virus. there are suspected outbreaks in other states. children with asthma are hit hard. earlier today cnn spoke with dr. william schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine at vanderbilt and asked what makes this virus so dangerous? >> what makes it dangerous is that it is spread so readily and it's spread in a widespread fashion late in the summer. and then although it makes only a mild respiratory illness for
many, many children, occasionally it can set off an asthma attack or cause divvy breathing that requires the child to be admitted to a hospital and perhaps even an intensive care unit. >> wow. alarming. cnn's elizabeth cohen will join me next hour at 3:45 eastern time with the latest on this fast moving virus and what parents need to know. president barack obama is putting immigration reform on hold until after the midterm elections. critics on both sides of the aisle accuse the president of playing politics. he defended his decision on nbc's "meet the press." >> looks like election year politics. >> i want to make sure ts are crossed and is are dotted. here's the other thing, chuck, and i'm being honest now, about the politics of it. the problem with unaccompanied children where you had a surge of kids showing up at the border, got a lot of attention.
and a lot of americans started thinking we've got this immigration crisis on our hands. what i want to do is when i take executive action, i want to make sure that it's sustainable. >> so will it be sustainable? that's the big question cnn's erin mcpike is at the white house. executive action can only go so far but legislation because universal law of the land and usually has more teeth. what is the reaction from lawmakers on the president's decision? >> reporter: to some extent republicans are viewing it as an opportunity because they can portray the president as playing politics on the issue. of course there's more resentment on the left particularly with pro-immigration reform groups and illinois congressman luis gutierrez, a democrat leading the charge on immigration reform in the house was on abc this morning and here's how he put it. >> it's clear that playing it safe is what is going on at the white house and among democratic
circles and playing it safe means walking away from our values and our principles. >> reporter: what he means by safe is that in a number of states where the most competitive senate races are this midterm election cycle, there are smaller populations of latino voters so movement on immigration reform wouldn't necessarily help the democrats in those races. in fact, it could hurt by inflaming voters on the right. now, as a policy matter, some democrats are saying this may be more practical like california senator dianne feinstein on cnn's "state of the union" this morning. listen to what she said. >> i'm of the opinion the way this should be done is legislatively because anything else will be challenged and probably will not be nearly the bill that's actually needed to solve the problems. >> part of the calculation there from the white house is that if democrats are able to hold on to the senate this fall in the midterm elections, then perhaps
republicans would come to the table and try to tackle comprehensive immigration reform after the election. >> thanks so much. is the president's decision strategic or a gamble? ron brownstein is editorial director of "the national journal" joining me now from los angeles. good to see you. the president seems willing to gamble his promised word on midterm elections because this decision to delay is nothing but politics. isn't that the case? >> the decision to delay to borrow a tennis analogy is a huge unforced error because it antagonizes his allies and looks amateurish. it has landed him in the right place. the question was why they were promising to do this before the election to begin with. the political benefits are almost all for the 2016
presidential race. in the 2014 race, it's going to turn on democrats' ability to hold senate seats in states that lean toward the right. it's hard to see this being a benefit in almost any of those states except colorado. more likely a problem. they've got to the right place politically but breaking a lot of crockery along the way. >> clearly there is a feeling in the white house that any executive order on immigration would have been a turnoff perhaps to voters but in june the president seemed very confident that this is what he and this is what america wanted. what did change? >> i think a couple things change. one is as the president himself noted in the interview, the crisis on the border of unaccompanied minors changed dynamics of the immigration discussion. he has had a consistent strategy of toughening enforcement and having more deportation as a means of trying to defang the argument that we don't have control of the border and we can
move ahead dealing with 11 million people here undocumented. that alienated allies all of the way through but not sufficient to get house republicans to pass comprehensive immigration reform bill after the senate did in 2013. so what happened this summer upset that calculation by reintroducing the issue of border security and from that sense as well politically it makes more sense to wait. the biggest factor is simply the playing field. this election is going to be decided in places like arkansas, west virginia, south dakota, louisiana, et cetera, where there is little upside in this. the challenge for republicans is if the president does act, it could have a greater political benefit for democrats in 2016 when there will be larger hispanic turnout. >> on that playing field is the case that the nation is so consumed with isis and u.s. military action is next that perhaps immigration just isn't a natural segue into that. >> i think that's right. i think clearly the focus is elsewhere. this is something that could be an enormously consequential
action. the president could provide legal status and not citizenship, that can only come through legislation, but some kind of legal status for up to maybe 6 million people and if he does that, i think every republican presidential candidate will feel irresistible pressure to promise to repeal it and it will be very challenging for republicans to improve on their performance among hispanic. if they don't improve among hispanics, that's going to complicate their task of getting back to the white house in 2016. different politics in 2014 and 2016. >> all right. thanks so much. >> thank you, fred. a big surprise from the atlanta hawks owner. he is selling the team voluntarily after using what he called inappropriate and offensive language in an e-mail to his co-owners. cnn's rachel nichols joins me with details next. did someone say burn? try alka seltzer reliefchews.
atlanta hawks owner bruce levenson announced that he's voluntarily selling his controlling stake in the team. levenson self-reported an e-mail he sent to co-owners in 2012 saying he was grappling with low attendance in hawks games and needed to attract more season ticket holders and corporate sponsors. we have that e-mail. here's what it says in part.
"i start looking around our arena during games and notice the following. it's 70% black. the cheerleaders are black. the music is hip-hop. at the bars it's 90% black. there are few fathers and sons at the game. the black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a significant fan base. there was nothing threatening going on in the arena back then. i never felt uncomfortable but southern whites were not comfortable being in an arena or at a bar where they were in the minority." levenson said he sent an unintentional and hurtful message that hawks white fans are more valuable during the black fans but during the donald sterling scandal in may, levenson told our own wolf blitzer he cannot be partners with someone who shares views like his. listen. >> donald sterling, what he
said, i'm his partner. i can't be partners with somebody who shares those views. i was voted into this league by my partners. i can be voted out of this league by my partners. i think i speak for all of my partners when i say we were all deeply offended. we all quickly spoke out against these words that we heard on that tape. >> and now fast forward. he didn't even wait for his partners to vote him out. he elected to vote himself out. rachel nichols, host of "unguarded" joining me from new york. this is a remarkable turn of events. the nba commended levenson and his decision. tell us about the league's response to all of this and why he kind of preemptively is disciplining himself. >> first there was a lot of shock around many corners of the nba. this wasn't expected. you showed him on with wolf blitzer. he was one of the loudest voices among owners condemning donald
sterling so you wouldn't expect this kind of scandal with him just a few months later. along with that shock, there's some relief and some admiration for the way he has handled it since then. i'm not going to get into comparing racism. any racism is bad and damaging to the league. the only conversation is now what happens after that initial racism and bruce levenson decided first to self-report the e-mail that he sent and then in the course of an independent investigation that the nba launched that they took this outside so it would be impartial and independent, he decided to step down basically communicating to people around the league he didn't want to put his family through any kind of public scandal. he didn't think he could possibly remain owner of the hawks in a black market with this kind of scandal regardless of what the investigation ended up finding out and he decided it's in his interest and the nba's best interest to sell the team and really that is the post donald sterling world that we're in right now.
>> but then at the same time i guess there are some who express suspicion about his actions that he wouldn't even wait for the nba's investigation like you said perhaps to avoid embarrassment for him or his family but that perhaps he was looking for a reason to sell this team. what do we know about maybe the financial history or whether this was a real drain for him to continue to own and he was anxious to give it up and this was an easy out. >> i don't know if it's ever an easy out to be publicly branded a racist. if he wanted to sell the team, he could announce he wanted to sell the team and sell the team. we've seen in recent months and in the last year and a half there's a tremendous market of people who would like to own an nba franchise and are willing to pay millions if not a couple billion dollars for it. if you want to sell the team, you announce you want to sell the team and wait for people to line up at your door and you wake away with change in your pocket and in good graces.
he's publicly branding himself a racist and getting out the door that way. >> i don't know if he's branding himself a racist. he said he has made inappropriate comments. it's to be disputed whether those are considered racist comments. certainly inappropriate or certainly comments that make some people very uncomfortable. >> absolutely. there's a question too about the players on the atlanta hawks team. we definitely saw with the clippers players saying that they couldn't play for donald sterling and considered boycotting playoff games and talked about boycotting upcoming season's games. by going this route, the nba doesn't have to deal with those questions and the team can just move forward. >> all right. rachel nichols, thank you so much. we'll see you a bit later. appreciate it. let's talk u.s. open.
some big upsets there. >> find out why these japanese tennis fans are so excited. and speaking of tennis, serena williams has been crushing her competition. if she keeps that up, she could make history today. we find out how serena got this renewed surge in power in this edition of "open court." >> serena williams started working with a french tennis coach just days after crashing out in 2012. >> for me to lose in paris was completely disappointing. i was completely shattered. >> we went on the tennis court and she was hitting and i watched her hit for 45 minutes. then she sat down and turned to me and said talk to me. i think there are things we need to work on and i explained what it was. she said okay. let's do it. >> serena and patrick have been working together ever since and he has the trophy cabinets to prove it. serena agreed to store all of
the trophies that they won together inside his academy. >> we have the wimbledon trophy, u.s. open trophy, and all of the other tournaments that she won. >> reporter: that's 20 trophies and now patrick is focused on adding to that total at the u.s. open where a win would give serena 18 grand slam single titles. [ female announcer ] we help make secure financial tomorrows a reality
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or visit goxarelto.com major upsets that have set up battle of the underdogs. we go to the open in flushing meadows, new york. you have a really great showdown that is expected and then i understand you have a few other cool things that happened with those twin brothers winning yet again the doubles. >> reporter: yes. that's the news that just came down. the brothers have won the men's
doubles here. it's their 100th championship tournament together. 16 grand slam title. they haven't won since last year. in danger of not winning one since 2004. they got it done here today at the u.s. open. pretty cool deal. 100th championship for them. >> i like that. and then women's final. that starts later on this afternoon. these are two good friends that are going to be across the net from each other. >> yeah. interesting dynamic in the women's final match. you've got serena williams taking on caroline. they'll be enemies on the court but in real life they're good friends. back in may when golf superstar rory mcilroy ended the engagement with caroline, serena was in the middle of planning her bachelorette party. she had to scrap those plans. that's where their friendship
really blossomed. both said no hard feelings and best of friends when the match is over. >> thank you so much. we'll see you later. much more straight ahead in the "newsroom" and it all starts right after this. so factors like diet can negatively impact good bacteria? even if you're healthy and active. phillips digestive health support is a duo-probiotic that helps supplement good bacteria found in two parts of your digestive tract. i'm doubly impressed! phillips' digestive health. a daily probiotic.
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