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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
He's not a Muslim, Really; Government Scientists Grilled; Dr. Laura's Caller Speaks Out; Internet Drug Ring Probe; Murdered in Afghanistan
Aired August 19, 2010 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight: what as many as one in four Americans believe about the President of the United States that simply isn't so, that President Obama is a Muslim; 18 percent in one poll, 24 percent in another.
You have heard plenty of rumors, innuendo, even supposed confessions from the President himself. Tonight: the facts and how they got so distorted, including firsthand testimony from one of Mr. Obama's pastors. We're "Keeping Them Honest" tonight.
Also, a nation divided: the woman who Dr. Laura Schlessinger dissed on the air, what she says about the racial rant, the N-word, and Dr. Laura's claim that she's the real victim in all of this.
Later on, "Crime & Punishment": We revisit a pharmacy that sold us dangerous prescription drugs online without us ever seeing a doctor. That was two years ago. The FBI launched a major investigation to do what took us just a few weeks. So, why did it take them two years to get results?
Well, we begin tonight "Keeping Them Honest" with a very simple fact: President Barack Obama is not a Muslim. There is no evidence that he is and plenty of evidence that he is not.
We say it right off the bat because 60 percent of the growing number of Americans who believe he is Muslim say they learned it from the media.
Well, you didn't learn it from us.
The numbers come from Pew Research, new polling with this bottom line: just 34 percent of people surveyed believe President Obama is, in fact, Christian. Eighteen percent say he's Muslim -- 18 percent. That's nearly one in five Americans, up from 11 percent in just March of last year.
News of the numbers not interrupting the first family's vacation on Martha's Vineyard, but a White House spokesman did see the need to come forward and tell us this, quote, "President Obama is a committed Christian. He prays every day. He seeks a small circle of Christian pastors to give him spiritual advice and counseling."
Still, the number of Americans who believe he is a Muslim is staggering, especially considering that one of the President's biggest campaign problems, you will recall, was dealing with Reverend Jeremiah Wright, his controversial pastor. Again, that's pastor, not imam.
But the Muslim notion just won't die. We Googled the phrase Obama is a Muslim and got -- listen to this -- nearly 15 million hits. Go to Web sites like this one and you get the headline, "I am a Muslim, Obama tells Egyptian Foreign Minister Gheit. Islamic coup on the White House."
Well, guess who posted that? Pamela Geller, quoting an Israeli magazine quoting the Egyptian foreign minister on Egyptian TV quoting President Obama's supposedly secret confession. You get the idea.
You can believe that, or you can believe the Reverend Kirbyjon Caldwell, spiritual adviser to Presidents Obama and George W. Bush. He's quoted in today's "New York Times" as saying this: "Never in the history of modern-day presidential politics has a president confessed his faith in the lord, and folks basically call him a liar."
But they are on conspiracy theory Web sites, talk radio, nutty newsletters, and yes, on television news, the better outlets merely covering the controversy, the not-so-better ones stoking it.
Either way, the country, as Madge the Palmolive lady once said, is soaking in it.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MICHAEL SAVAGE, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Of course, he had a background, as you well know, in Muslim madrasas in Indonesia. Hussein Obama is his name. He had a Muslim father.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY BLANKLEY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It's not a coincidence that the first president whose father was a Muslim, some Americans think, maybe, like father, like son.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A fist bump, a pound, terrorist fist jab? The gesture everyone seems to interpret differently.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Some think he's a Muslim. I'm just saying there might be reasons why some people think this.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST, "COUNTDOWN WITH KEITH OLBERMANN": In one poll, one out of five Americans thinks the President is a Muslim in secret.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's at least a Marxist and he surely understands the Muslim culture.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KING, HOST, "JOHN KING, USA": A growing number of Americans believe President Obama is a Muslim.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN WILLIAMS, HOST, "NBC NIGHTLY NEWS": Just under 20 percent of the American people believe the President is a Muslim. He is not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
LIMBAUGH: Why can't we call Imam Obama America's first Muslim president? What's wrong with it? Somebody tell me.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ROBERTS: A sampling, for better or worse, of just what's out there.
More of the reasons why now and some other hard facts to debunk the rumors from Tom Foreman who's "Keeping Them Honest."
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I didn't become a Christian until many years later, when I moved to the South Side of Chicago after college.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The poll showing a growing number of Americans believing Barack Obama is Muslim caught even the researchers off guard.
(on camera): Were you surprised by the results of this?
ALAN COOPERMAN, PEW RESEARCH CENTER: Yes, I was. And I -- but I was less surprised by the increase in the percentage of people who think Barack Obama is a Muslim than I was surprised to see that, even among his supporters, groups like Democrats or African-Americans, that the percentage who think he's a Christian has dropped, and it's dropped by substantial numbers.
FOREMAN (voice-over): So, why did that happen? The President has suggested his name, Muslim father and childhood in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country, are part of the problem. And political realities have fanned the fire.
REVEREND JEREMIAH WRIGHT, TRINITY UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST: God (EXPLETIVE DELETED) America -- that's in the Bible -- for killing innocent people.
FOREMAN: First, in the heat of the campaign, even as he successfully courted Christian voters, candidate Obama suffered a very public break from his longtime Christian pastor, Jeremiah Wright, who was denounced by many as a radical.
Then there was his infamous comment about communities devastated by high unemployment --
OBAMA: And it's not surprising then that they get bitter, and they cling to their guns or religion.
FOREMAN: -- suggesting to some that he's never clung to religion and couldn't identify with anyone who has.
Second, as President he reached out to the Muslim world with visits to Egypt and Turkey.
OBAMA: Assalamu alaykum (ph).
FOREMAN: But pundits have suggested he's not been as aggressive about maintaining relations with older, more Christian allies.
(on camera): And, third, a vast majority of people who say the President is a Muslim told Pew they learned that through the media and the Internet. And YouTube is filled with video clips offering alleged proof.
(voice-over): A popular one comes from a campaign interview with ABC News, in which he seemingly confesses.
OBAMA: You're absolutely right that John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith.
FOREMAN: Some sites stop it right there, but the whole clip reveals that's not what he meant at all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christian faith.
OBAMA: My Christian faith.
FOREMAN (on camera): Still, the President and his family are almost never seen anywhere near a church and even though the White House is once again saying that he prays daily, talks with ministers and takes his beliefs very seriously, as the president's political popularity drops, America's faith in his faith is falling, too -- John.
ROBERTS: Tom Foreman tonight -- Tom, thanks so much.
In addition to Pew Research, "Time" magazine also commissioned a poll on Muslims in America, and it too, got some striking results. We will get to that in just a moment.
But, first, more on the Pew poll and the President's religious affiliation.
Joining us now is Professor Akbar Ahmed. He's the chair of Islamic studies at American University. And Joel Hunter, the senior pastor of Northland Church, he's a spiritual adviser to President Obama.
Pastor Hunter, start us out here. How did it ever get to this point?
JOEL HUNTER, SPIRITUAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, the President's decision to keep his faith more private and more personal also has a downside.
While he's very active with several of us, the fact that he is not going very public in a visible way, and therefore, not defining his spiritual life, per se, allows others to step into that vacuum and define it for him. And there are many gullible and many maliciously gullible people around.
ROBERTS: Ambassador Ahmed, the White House has been dealing with this rumor for years now, but, even so, when this poll came out, White House spokes -- spokespeople felt they needed to come out and twice during the day knock it back.
Why does the White House need to even spend one second on this? What's -- what is driving it? What's really behind this?
AKBAR AHMED, ISLAMIC STUDIES CHAIR, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: I think they're being too defensive, John, because it's the environment, the social environment in which we are living. To suggest that President Obama is a Muslim, which he is not -- he is a Christian -- he has said that again and again -- is really to associate him with Islam.
And Islam today has an atmosphere around it of distrust, of hatred, of paranoia. And the tragedy is that that is the real target, the bigger target because that's what we're seeing on the global stage. And we're hearing Islam is evil. It's equated to Nazism and so on.
And the tragedy is that we are not learning from our own founding fathers. President Obama referred to Jefferson at the White House Iftar dinner the other night last week. Jefferson, John Adams, Franklin, again and again, expressed the highest respect for Islam itself, the prophet and the Koran.
I think these Americans who are being so critical of Islam and dismissing it really need to read up on their own founding fathers.
ROBERTS: Ambassador Ahmed, in terms of the suspicion and mistrust of Islam generally across America, that's where we want to bring in this "Time" magazine poll.
First of all, one of the findings in the "Time" magazine poll, almost one in four people believe that President Obama is a Muslim. There it is, 24 percent. But here's some of the other findings. Twenty-eight percent of people asked do not think that a Muslim should be allowed to sit on the Supreme Court.
Thirty-two percent do not think a Muslim should be allowed to run for president. And 25 percent don't think that Muslims are patriotic Americans.
Pastor Hunter, what do these poll numbers tell us about how America in general perceives the Islamic faith?
HUNTER: Well, Americans in general are ignorant of the Islamic faith. And ignorance belies itself to fear.
There are a lot of people -- I -- I get e-mails every week of -- of Christians that are fearful of Muslims and the Islamic faith. And they have a total misunderstanding. And because of that -- again, because it's not well-defined in their mind, they fill in the blanks, or even worse, allow those who are hostile to differences to fill in the blanks for them.
ROBERTS: Ambassador Ahmed, you and I talked via e-mail on this a couple of nights ago, after we had Pam Geller in here, who swears up and down that the 9/11 hijackers were practicing a -- quote -- "true form of Islam," when other people, including White House spokesman Ari Fleischer after the 9/11 attacks, said it was a perversion of Islam.
The type of Islam that the 9/11 hijackers were practicing, how would you characterize it?
AHMED: John, by simply answering that my parents -- my mother is of a descent of aristocracy and nobility. My father is descended from sages and Sufi saints of Islam, and they have a thousand years background of Islam. For them, Islam means the Koran, which is defined -- which defines God as rahman and rahim. That's compassionate and merciful. The prophet is defined as a mercy unto mankind. My father believed in this and practiced it. My grandfather did this. And so do I.
For me, this notion of Islam being evil and hurtful and vicious and violent is rejected, whether Muslims are doing this or whether other people are interpreting Islam in this manner. I really think other people who are defining Islam need to sit back and let Muslims define themselves. Whether they agree with this violence or not, that is the debate. I, for one, would totally reject it.
ROBERTS: And Pastor Hunter, finish us off here, if you would.
Of course, all of this has risen to the surface again because of tensions over the proposed mosque at Ground Zero. It's not the only one, though, that is facing opposition. There's a mosque in Nashville, Tennessee, that has been protested; one in Temecula, California.
You know, the administration, the Bush administration -- and we know that you were a spiritual counselor to President Bush as well -- said again and again and again, this is not a war against Islam; it's a war against terrorists.
Is that message not getting through?
HUNTER: No, it's not.
As a matter of fact, it's a war against our own founding principles when we discriminate in the free expression of a religion. And so we have got to guard our Constitution. We have got to guard who we are as a people. And that's the real focus here. Today, it's Islam. Today, it may be Buddhism. The next day, it may be Christianity.
And so we have to be very, very careful about how we handle our fears and how we address differences.
ROBERTS: Terrific discussion tonight. Gentlemen, thanks so much for being with us. We really appreciate it.
AHMED: Thank you.
HUNTER: You're welcome.
ROBERTS: And let us know what you think tonight. Join the live chat going under way at AC360.com.
Coming up next: new evidence that there could be more oil in the Gulf of Mexico than the government said. And remember when officials said their report had been reviewed extensively by other researchers? Well, maybe not. You will hear from Congressman Ed Markey, who is pretty fired up about all of this.
And later on: both sides of the radio conversation that cost Dr. Laura Schlessinger her job. Dr. Laura and the woman who called with the question about her interracial marriage and got an earful of the N-word in return.
ROBERTS: There's more evidence tonight that government estimates of how little of BP's leaked oil remains in the Gulf of Mexico simply do not add up. You will recall the estimate was just 26 percent.
But, today, scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute said they detected a massive plume of undersea oil back in June, that it's likely still out there and likely has company.
Also, remember when that government estimate came out back on the 5th? Officials bragged about how it had been checked and double- checked by other scientists, in the words of White House adviser Carol Browner, peer review, peer review, peer review.
Well, in the words of Congressman Ed Markey, who held hearings on it today, not so fast, not so fast, not so fast.
We spoke with him earlier.
ROBERTS: You were really concerned about this report that it was released too early before it had been peer-reviewed?
REP. EDWARD MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: My concern is that -- that, while this report was released last week, we have yet to really see the backup work, the homework that was attached to it. And now it will be peer-reviewed.
My view is that the -- the algorithms, the assumptions should be released right now --
MARKEY: -- so that independent scientists can do an evaluation as to whether or not they believe that the assumptions that were made by NOAA and the other agencies were, in fact, valid.
ROBERTS: There's a couple of other studies out there, of course, the one from the University of South Florida that we talked about earlier this week had found there are droplets of oil, dispersed oil, and dispersant widely spread throughout the De Soto Canyon.
And then there's another new one that has just come out from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution -- it's actually being published tomorrow in the "Science" journal -- found a huge plume of oil beneath the surface at a depth of about 3,600 feet, 20 miles long, a mile wide, 600 feet deep in -- some 600 feet thick in some places, with the belief that that's toxic to marine life, another -- another troubling development here.
MARKEY: Well, what Woods Hole Oceanographic has found is that they there were underwater plumes that were created after this spill began.
And again, as you point out, they were 20 miles long, a couple of miles wide; very, very large. In addition, what Woods Hole also found was that, contrary to what the federal government was saying, which is that the water -- that is, the oil was dispersing relatively quickly, they found that the oil was, in fact, dispersing relatively slowly.
MARKEY: And, so, there's a big difference now.
And the Woods Hole study has been peer-reviewed. So, that's why I think it is important for there to be a public dissemination of the assumptions of the federal government, so that the independent scientists can do, in real time, that peer review work.
ROBERTS: The fact that the Woods Hole study was peer-reviewed means that the data is actually older than perhaps some other data. The readings were taken back in June.
But the chief scientist on the project, Dr. Richard Camilli, said, given the amount of oil that we have out there and the slow rate at which it's degrading, this oil could be with us for some time.
What are your concerns about that?
MARKEY: I think that we need to ensure that there is a cop on the beat. We have to make sure that people don't, basically, allow themselves to be lulled to sleep by the ads by BP on every television station.
There is still a massive environmental catastrophe taking place. Yes, perhaps on the surface, the oil has stopped. But there is internal bleeding in the Gulf of Mexico. This toxic combination of dispersants and oil is still there for a large part of the Gulf. We have to make sure that the work is done.
ROBERTS: Well, we know, Mr. Chairman, that you are committed to following until to the end, as are we here at CNN, even if it takes years.
Congressman Ed Markey thanks so much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
MARKEY: Thank you. Thanks for having me on.
ROBERTS: And just ahead tonight: Dr. Laura, the woman she directed her racial rant at, and what Sarah Palin is saying about it all. Yes, it had to happen. She's tweeting again.
Later, "Crime & Punishment" and why it took the FBI so long to get action on pharmacies allegedly selling dangerous drugs online. It's a story that we uncovered two years ago.
ROBERTS: A very full hour here on 360, and a lot more to cover tonight.
Joe Johns here now with a "360 Bulletin" -- hi Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John.
Military officials now say there are now about 52,000 U.S. troops still in Iraq. That is after the last full combat convoy crossed into Kuwait overnight. All combat troops are scheduled to leave Iraq by the end of August. President Obama has vowed that all U.S. forces will be out by 2011.
Officials have deemed a security threat to an American Airlines plane in San Francisco non-credible. Passengers on Flight 24 bound from San Francisco to New York were removed from the plane before it took off after security officials received a telephone threat. No arrests were made.
Flash flood warnings are in effect Thursday for parts of Middle Tennessee, after heavy rains battered the state overnight. The rain comes as some residents are still recovering from devastating floods that hit Tennessee in May, leaving dozens of people dead.
And take a look at this police chase. It started in Central Dallas and ended on an airport runway of Love Field, when a man in a pickup truck was bumped and hemmed in by squad cars chasing him. The airport was shut down for about 10 minutes during the incident. A Dallas television station reported that the police had suspected that truck was stolen.
You know, it's funny. When you watch those things, after a while, a lot of times, it seems like they're not driving very fast at all.
ROBERTS: Well, you know, is it that -- those runways are so long, it probably is all perspective. But he looked like a man desperately in need of a Slater slide in order to escape.
ROBERTS: What was he thinking about?
JOHNS: I know. It's amazing. Surely, you know, if the police don't, the TSA will.
ROBERTS: Yes. Somebody is going to get you.
All right. Joe Johns tonight -- Joe, thanks so much.
Next on 360, we will hear, not only from Dr. Laura on her use of the N-word, but also from the woman who was on the receiving end of her rant.
And tonight's "Crime & Punishment": a suspected Internet drug ring finally taken down by the feds. You will see why we underscore the word "finally."
ROBERTS: In just a moment here you're going to hear from the woman who called in to Dr. Laura Schlessinger's radio show for advice and got an earful of the n-word.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How about the N-word? Now, the N-word has been thrown around -- DR. LAURA SCHLESSINGER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Black guys use it all the time. Turn on HBO and listen to a black comic and all you hear is (EXPLETIVE DELETED), (EXPLETIVE DELETED), (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
I didn't spew out the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) word.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You said (EXPLETIVE DELETED) (EXPLETIVE DELETED) (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
SCHLESSINGER: Right. I said that's what you hear.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody heard it.
SCHLESSINGER: Yes, they did.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hope everybody heard it.
SCHLESSINGER: They did and I'll say it again. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) (EXPLETIVE DELETED) (EXPLETIVE DELETED) is what you hear on HB -- why don't you let me finish a sentence?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ok.
SCHLESSINGER: Don't take things out of context. Don't double N -- NAACP me.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Yesterday, I spoke to Dr. Laura Schlessinger about why she thinks her first amendment rights had been trampled.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: You said that you're leaving your radio show to regain your First Amendment rights. How did you lose them?
SCHLESSINGER: It's the atmosphere in America today where there is very little debate and just the attempt to silence voices that somebody disagrees with.
ROBERTS: But does this go beyond being disagreed with? You said something that was very offensive.
SCHLESSINGER: Well, yes, and I was trying to make a point about the hypersensitivity of racial issues and I made it the wrong way. I instantly realized I had blown it and took myself off the air. I had to finish the hour, which was 15 minutes and took myself off the air for the last hour. Wrote an apology, sent it to L.A. Radio, gave it on my radio show. And so I was about 48 hours in front of the news media bringing it to anybody's attention.
ROBERTS: If you blew it, I know that if I said the N-word once, that would probably be the last thing that I ever said on CNN. You went on to say it 11 times. You said that you blew it, you agree to that. Should you not suffer the consequences for blowing it? SCHLESSINGER: But that was the point. The point was how race relations are in our country today with the sensitivity, but I was certainly not calling anybody --
ROBERTS: We talked --
SCHLESSINGER: Sir, sir.
ROBERTS: We talk about race relations on this program, on our network all the time and I don't think the n-word has ever been said full on in CNN at least not by any of our anchors.
SCHLESSINGER: I said I was wrong for doing it.
ROBERTS: Correct. But you seem to be, and correct me if I'm wrong, Dr. Schlessinger, saying that you have taken yourself off your radio show because other people are not allowing you your First Amendment rights even though you were wrong to have said what you said.
SCHLESSINGER: My decision was not based on this incident. My decision has been percolating for about a year when I realized more and more that, like Nancy Pelosi saying we should investigate people who have a problem with the mosque being built at Ground Zero. Investigating these people?
ROBERTS: That's not what she said. What she said, it would be good to have the same transparency --
SCHLESSINGER: It could be good if I could finish a sentence.
ROBERTS: I'm sorry, but you're being inaccurate in what you're saying and I'm just trying to correct the record here.
SCHLESSINGER: I apologize for being inaccurate.
ROBERTS: She said that in the same way, there should be transparency behind the mosque funding and also similar transparency behind the people who are opposed to the mosque.
SCHLESSINGER: My point is that when I began in radio, there was discussion and debate. Now there are organizations like Media Matters who exist for the sole purpose of silencing voices, not debating. That is my whole point.
ROBERTS: And there are many people here at CNN, myself included, who have been the target of Media Matters, also on the other side, target of Newsbusters if you're talking about the conservative side of things. And every once in a while, they do actually give us props if they agree with something that we've done; is that just not the environment that we're all subject to out there? Do you feel that you're unfairly being singled out?
SCHLESSINGER: No, I never said I was unfairly being singled out. I said there's a growing atmosphere in our country. Media Matters doesn't have me as the focal point of their lives. They're there waiting to pounce to silence voices.
I'm talking about silencing voices rather than debating. And I'm going to bring my voice and my ideas to venues where affiliates and sponsors can't be hurt by people who want to silence voices. That is my total point.
ROBERTS: Much of this controversy is over the N-word but there were some other things that you said during that broadcast that other people found even more troubling than the N-word. Such as when you said, quote, I really thought that once we had a black president the attempt to demonize whites hating blacks would stop, but it seems to have grown and I don't get it." Some people thought that was really a racist point of view.
SCHLESSINGER: I don't. I think that was an observation.
ROBERTS: Another statement that you made, you said, quote, "without giving much thought, a lot of blacks voted for Obama simply because he was half black. It was a black thing."
Lincoln Mitchell of Columbia University took particular with that there was maybe five more points of the black vote that went to President Obama that went to candidate Gore back in 2000. How can you make a statement like that?
SCHLESSINGER: The point that this woman made is her racist statement that whites are afraid of the black man taking over America. I think that was a pretty racist statement. My response to that was that blacks make up about 12 percent of the population, so he was voted in by whites.
ROBERTS: One other point, Dr. Schlessinger, the woman called you asking a personal question. Saying her husband who is white, his friends were saying things that she felt uncomfortable with looking to you for advice. You really kind of came down on her and I'm wondering why you responded to her like that.
SCHLESSINGER: Well, have you listened to the entire call?
ROBERTS: Yes, yes, I have.
SCHLESSINGER: Oh, now, I think if her husband's friends were calling her a horrendous word, she would have led with that. But she didn't. She led with, they asked me a black point of view. So, I'm even wondering if you heard the call why you would think I wasn't trying to help her. I really was trying to help her.
Clearly, if that was her concern that they simply asked her for a black point of view, then it would seem reasonable from a psychotherapist point of view that she is being hypersensitive. That it went askew is my fault and I have taken total responsibility and have apologized for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: That was Dr. Laura's take. Now you're about to hear from the caller who reached out to her for advice. She identified herself as Jade when she called in to Dr. Laura's show, her actual name is Nita Hanson. She joins me now.
Nita, thanks so much for being with us. You heard what Dr. Laura said there just a couple moments ago where she said you thought you said something very racist when you said that whites are afraid of the black man taking over America. Her words, "I think that was a pretty racist statement." What do you say?
NITA HANSON, CALLER ON DR. SCHLESSINGER'S SHOW: I don't believe that was a racist statement at all. I didn't call anyone out of their names. You didn't hear me saying anything about a race. And that was honestly how I felt because of the experience I have had out there in the world.
But, that's how I honestly feel that -- but I went on the show to talk about a problem with that I was having in my relationship. Did I think this was going to end up happening? No. There's nothing wrong with freedom of speech, but when you're disrespectful and you call people out of their names, hurtful names that you know where they came from, you know what they mean and you know how hurtful they are and you're going to say them and you still try to justify what you said is not right.
ROBERTS: Do you think that her First Amendment rights are being denied?
HANSON: No. She could say what she wants to say. The problem is Dr. Laura got caught saying something she shouldn't have said and she didn't expect the backlash.
ROBERTS: So what do you make of this --
HANSON: This woman thought she could say --
ROBERTS: So what do you make of this argument then, Nita? That she is saying, "I was trying to make a point, and there are all of these other organizations who simply exist to try to silence voices like mine, and that's why I'm taking myself off the air." What do you say to that response from her?
HANSON: She doesn't want to take responsibility for her actions, obviously. She said those words. So, why now is she trying to go back and say, "Well, everybody else is blowing it up. Everybody else is blowing it up"?
This woman has been around long enough to know this word hurts. And she continues to say it, not once, 11 times. Even after I questioned her and said, "Why do you think you can say that?" I told her I was offended. She didn't care if I was offended or not. She continued to use this word.
ROBERTS: Now, the way that she set this whole thing up was she said that you called up looking for advice, because your husband's -- your husband, who is white, his friends were asking you about a black point of view. I listened to the call over and over again. I didn't quite hear you explaining that.
So let's play the tape, and then we'll get you to talk about it. Let's listen to how the call started.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHLESSINGER: Can you give me an example of a racist comment? Sometimes people are hypersensitive. So tell me what's -- give me two good examples of racist comments.
HANSON: OK. Last night -- good example. We had a neighbor come over, and this neighbor, every time he comes over it's always a black comment. It's, oh, "How do you black people like doing this and do black people really like doing that?" And for a long time I would ignore it. But last night I got to the point where it --
SCHLESSINGER: I don't think that's racist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: So you've been -- you've been having friends over, and it sounds to me -- and maybe you should probably explain it, because you can, obviously, explain it a lot better than I can. They were saying things that eventually were getting to you.
HANSON: Correct. The stereotypes. We have to stop stereotyping people because of the color of their skin, their sexual orientation. I wanted -- I made a call to find out how I could deal with this type of conversation that continued. Not just in my house, but it continues on television; it continues wherever I go. I wanted to know how to handle that. And that's why I was asking her advice.
ROBERTS: Obviously, they were saying things that were uncomfortable for you. And it's a very individual perspective as to what's uncomfortable versus what's offensive. Did it ever -- did it ever cross over into the realm that you would consider to be offensive?
HANSON: Yes. Very much so. Very much so. And that's why I called her for advice. Because I felt that it was offensive to me, and who is she to tell me whether or not something is offensive or not offensive?
I mean, if you're not a minority, you have no idea what it's like to -- I mean, comments like that just hurt. And I think if you're not a minority, you have no idea what it's like to be discriminated against.
ROBERTS: So Nita, were you surprised? I mean, obviously, you call in to Dr. Laura's show, you're going to get some push back. Were you surprised, though, with the degree that -- to which she pushed back against you?
HANSON: I was very surprised. I mean, you know, it's OK to have an opinion and say -- but when you go on to say hurtful things, words that you know hurt people, and you -- somebody tells you, "OK, I'm offended," and you continue. This woman continued. And you could hear the anger in her voice. I couldn't get a word in edgewise. I was just stunned.
I had been a fan of Dr. Laura's for a long time. And this wasn't the first time I had called in for advice.
ROBERTS: You called in before --
HANSON: But I was completely --
ROBERTS: So you were actually on the air with her prior to this?
HANSON: Well, it had been a while. I called her over a little something, but, yes, I had under the name of Jade.
ROBERTS: What was the first experience like?
HANSON: You know, she's always been a little, you know, rough around the edges, but I respect -- I respected her opinion. I don't always -- I didn't always agree with what she has to say, but I respected her enough to keep on listening to what she had to say.
ROBERTS: And now?
HANSON: Because she wasn't always -- I have no respect for this woman and just how she's trying to say it's somebody else's fault. It's the media's fault. It's this person's fault. It's that. This is the very same thing I am trying to get across now. It's time for us to start respecting one another and start getting along with one another.
ROBERTS: All right. Well, that's a lesson we can all take.
HANSON: And I just called for advice. Thank you very much, sir.
ROBERTS: Nita Hanson thanks so much. Good to see you tonight.
HANSON: Thank you.
ROBERTS: Still ahead, "Crime & Punishment": an 80-year-old doctor who's allegedly been paid to write thousands of illegal prescriptions and the pharmacies that have allegedly been filling those prescriptions. Drew Griffin has the latest on an FBI investigation into a major Internet drug ring.
ROBERTS: In tonight's "Crime & Punishment" report, a major development in a story that we first reported to you two years ago. Back then, Drew Griffin of our special investigations unit traced illegal prescription drugs that he bought online, no questions asked, to a pharmacy in Utah. Remarkably, that pharmacy has stayed in business, but now the FBI has stepped in, and Utah officials are facing some pretty tough questions.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He hardly looks the part of an illegal drug dealer. He drives a run-down Mercedes- Benz, can barely walk, but according to the FBI, 80-year-old Dr. Robert Morrow could be a major player in a nationwide illegal Internet drug trade.
(on camera): Hi, Doctor. Drew Griffin with CNN. How are you?
(voice-over): A drug ring that, according to government documents, spans from Utah across the U.S. and overseas, a drug ring that has been operating for years.
(on camera): We want to find out, you know, it's been alleged you've been signing Internet prescriptions for people who haven't signed --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want to talk about it. Get off my property. Get off my property.
GRIFFIN: Can you explain how that happens?
(voice-over): According to a government investigator, Dr. Morrow's signature appears on thousands and thousands of prescriptions filled this year alone. The government alleges he's paid to write them by the owner of two pharmacies. The Roots Pharmacies in both Utah and suburban Chicago, and those pharmacies are at the heart of the illegal prescription drug investigation.
According to the FBI, Utah pharmacist Kyle Rootsaert is near the top of the operation. On August 5, FBI agents served two search warrants on those pharmacies owned by Rootsaert. One served here in suburban Chicago where agents seized boxes and boxes of records.
The federal government says illegal prescription drug abuse is staggering. Listen to this. It's now a bigger problem than heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine use combined.
JOHN HORTON, PRESIDENT, LEGITSCRIPT.COM: And these rogue Internet pharmacies that say, "All you have to do is fill out a form, you never have to see the doctor and we will approve your order immediately and send you addictive medications," are helping fuel that problem in a big way.
GRIFFIN: No charges have yet been filed. The FBI isn't commenting. The attorney for Roots pharmacy owner Kyle Rootsaert tells CNN he hasn't had a chance to talk to his client about the search warrant affidavits.
"Keeping Them Honest," we wanted to know why and how the operation had been allowed to operate for so long.
Two years ago, as part of a CNN investigation, I bought Prozac and the addictive muscle relaxer Soma online, no questions asked. And I tracked the drugs right back here to Roots Pharmacy in American Fork, Utah.
(on camera): I want to ask you about selling these drugs over the Internet without prescriptions.
(voice-over): We also confronted Kyle Rootsaert. He ran from our cameras and took off in this brown pickup truck.
(on camera): Excuse me, Kyle, we'd like to talk to you about the Internet drug business you're running out of this pharmacy.
(voice-over): But it now appears Roots is on the run.
(on camera): This is where we actually confronted the owner of Roots Pharmacy. You can see just yesterday we're told the sign has been taken off this door.
(voice-over): The state of Utah filed a petition more than a year ago to revoke the pharmacy's license, but a hearing still hasn't been held. Even so, the pharmacy had been operating full blast, filling 200 to 300 prescriptions a day, according to the FBI. This little second-story pharmacy, a half hour south of the Salt Lake City, was a major distributor of dangerous prescriptions.
Which brings us back to Dr. Morrow; he also has a history with the state of Utah. He lost his license to dispense controlled drugs from 1999 to 2002, because he was illegally prescribing drugs. He paid a $1,000 fine. He was part of an operation, experts tell CNN, that was worth close to half a million dollars a month and an untold number of pills.
Drew Griffin, CNN, American Fork, Utah.
ROBERTS: Coming up a health care mission in Afghanistan ends in cold-blooded murder. We have the story of one dentist who was on that mission and whose life ended tragically at the hands of the Taliban.
ROBERTS: What started as a humanitarian mission in Afghanistan ended earlier this month with a shocking tragedy: a group of people from all over the world, including a nurse, an optometrist and a dentist banded together to help those in need. The humanitarians must have known Afghanistan was potentially dangerous; little did they know Taliban gunmen would murder them in cold blood.
Six were Americans, two Afghans and one was German and one was British. A memorial service was held last weekend in Colorado for one of the Americans, Dr. Thomas Grams. We found that he was a man beloved for his selflessness.
ROBERTS (voice-over): Three years ago, Tom Grams walked away from his dental practice in Colorado. He felt he could use his skills for a higher purpose in impoverished and remote parts of the world. It's what took him to Afghanistan.
TOM GRAMS, VOLUNTEERED IN AFGHANISTAN: When you first show up there, they all have the turbans. There's also the (INAUDIBLE) around there, it's fairly intimidating. And then once you walk around with them and you've been there for a while you realize that, hey, they laugh and joke and they pull pranks on each other and do stupid things and it's fun.
ROBERTS: He had already volunteered in Myanmar, Nepal, Guatemala, India and, in many cases, paid his own way.
TRICIA KARPFEN, SHANTA FOUNDATION: Tom traveled with bags of dental tools and supplies because we had no support systems in country for him. We were a fledgling organization and we didn't have infrastructure or staff.
ROBERTS: One aid group says Tom Grams treated over 24,000 needy kids for them alone. But Grams found himself drawn again and again to Afghanistan. His twin brother says it meant a lot to Tom that he was accepted there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Muslim culture is very conservative and they're very protective of their family, particularly their women. For them to trust him enough for him to do dental work on their wives was, perhaps, the biggest compliment he could get from the community.
ROBERTS: On most visits Tom volunteered at a small village west of Kabul. He knew that working in Afghanistan could be dangerous, but the mission to provide medical care to the needy far outweighed the risks.
GRAMS: In Afghanistan, even though it has a perception of being a war zone, I'm not that close to where that's going on. So, I've never felt threatened.
ROBERTS: But this trip was different from the others he had taken.
DYLAN NORTON, TOM GRAMS' BEST FRIEND: He wanted to get in this area of the country because it was so exotic, so fascinating and so underserved, but he did feel that it was very dangerous and he knew, he knew he was risking his life.
ROBERTS: Grams and 10 others, all unarmed, had finished running a medical clinic in the Nuristan Province and were heading north when gunmen stopped their convoy.
One escaped but the rest were all killed methodically. It was a cold-blooded massacre. The Taliban has claimed responsibility saying the victims were spreading Christianity and they were spies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were no such thing. They were selfless volunteers who devoted themselves to providing free health care to Afghans.
ROBERTS: Tom Grams was 51. He friends say he loved the outdoors. A fanatic scrabble player. A guy prone to forgetting his own twin brother's birthday. They say he never settled down or had kids because he didn't want his family to get in the way of helping people and that is what brought so much joy to his life.
ROBERTS: And that does it for this edition of 360. Thanks so much for watching.
"LARRY KING" starts right now.