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Carrie Prejean, Billy Bush, Nadine Velazquez
Eric Jamison  /  AP
Then-Miss California USA Carrie Prejean answers a question about same-sex marriage during the Miss USA Pageant last April. On Tuesday Prejean alleged a campaign “to try to silence me for the answer that I gave at the pageant.”
By
TODAY contributor
updated 11/10/2009 10:05:37 AM ET 2009-11-10T15:05:37

Former Miss California Carrie Prejean on Tuesday defended a recently surfaced erotic video of her as a youthful indiscretion and questioned whether it could actually be called a “sex tape” since no one else appears in it.

“It was me by myself. There was no one else with me. I was not having sex,” the controversial beauty queen told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira in New York.

Prejean admitted to making the video of herself and sending it to her boyfriend when she was 17 years old. The tape surfaced during a negotiating session with the Miss California pageant officials over a lawsuit Prejean filed against the organization for stripping her of her crown earlier this year. When the tape’s existence was revealed, Prejean dropped her suit and settled with the officials, who reportedly paid her $100,000 to go toward her legal expenses.

‘Nothing is private’
“You can call it whatever you want to call it. If you want to call it a sex tape, that’s fine,” Prejean told Vieira. “I sent it to my boyfriend at the time. I was a teenager. I cared about him. I trusted him,” she added. “I think now they call it ‘sexting.’

“Did I think it would come back now and haunt me? No. But I think that a lot of young people can learn from this. Nothing is private anymore. Nothing is private.”

Prejean, dressed in a deep blue blouse, black skirt and spike heels and wearing a small silver cross around her neck, also said that pageant owner Donald Trump conducted a sort of private pageant with contestants, hand-picking the best-looking women to go into the finals, even before the judges made their decisions.

Prejean admitted that making the video of herself and sending it — an act that other teens have been prosecuted as sex offenders for doing — was a bad decision.

“It was the biggest mistake of my life,” she told Vieira.

‘Campaign against me’
Prejean was on TODAY to talk about her just-published book , “Still Standing: The Untold Story of My Fight Against Gossip, Hate and Political Attacks.” And even before admitting that making the video was a mistake, she accused her enemies of using it to attempt to silence her.

“The main point is there has been a campaign against me to try to silence me for the past seven months for the answer that I gave at the pageant,” she said.

She was referring to April 19 and the finals of the Miss USA pageant, when celebrity blogger Perez Hilton asked her opinion of same-sex marriage. Prejean cited her Christian beliefs in saying she believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman. Hilton responded later by calling her a “dumb b---h.”

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Video: Miss California blames photographer Prejean would finish second in the pageant, and she said she was punished for exercising her right to free speech. She cited the same enemies when racy photos of her later emerged: one showing her dressed in just panties with her back to the camera, another showing her with her breasts exposed.

Donald Trump, the owner of the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, saved Prejean’s Miss California crown. But she soon lost that, too, when pageant officials accused her of not meeting her contractual obligations. Prejean then sued, accusing pageant officials of libel, slander and religious discrimination, alleging that she was dismissed for her religious beliefs. The pageant countersued, demanding that she pay them back for the breast enhancement surgery they paid for.

‘I’m still standing’
Prejean told Vieira she remains convinced that everything that’s happened to her is because of her beliefs.

“The biggest thing and the reason I wrote this book is Americans believe their beliefs are under attack, and this is proof,” she told Vieira, adding that the sex tape is another example of what her enemies will do to attack her. Video: Miss California speaks out

“All I know is there is a campaign against me trying to silence me,” Prejean said. “They tried to embarrass me. They tried to humiliate me. They tried to attack me. And I’m still standing.”

The book, she said, is her way of telling her side of the story.

“Americans heard only bits and pieces of what really happened,” Prejean said. “I think that there is a liberal bias in the media, and it’s unfortunate that conservative women are attacked for their beliefs. It’s unacceptable and it shouldn’t happen. So many Americans are frustrated. So many Americans believe that their beliefs are under attack, and they should be silent and free speech doesn’t exist.”

Prejean specifically mentioned Keith Olbermann, host of MSNBC’s “Countdown,” who has recently criticized her for what he calls her hypocrisy.

“There is an extreme double standard that conservative women are under attack for whatever it is,” Prejean told Vieira. “If Sean Hannity went out there and said some of the things that Keith Olbermann has said about me, if he says anything about [Sonia] Sotomayor, Michelle Obama, he would be off the air. Why is there this double standard? That’s the reason why I wrote this book.”

‘No one is perfect’
In the book, Prejean talks about her Christian beliefs and condemns the ubiquity of pornography. Young women should resist the pressures of popular culture, of sex, she said, writing, “Our bodies are temples of the Lord. We should earn respect and admiration for our hearts, not for showing skin to look sexy.”

Video: Miss California: ‘I wouldn’t change’ Vieira said that Prejean has been accused of hypocrisy for that statement in light of the racy photos and the video she made.

“I’m a model. I was in a beauty pageant. If people want to call me a hypocrite, that’s their prerogative. But I’ve learned from my mistakes. No one is perfect,” Prejean replied.

Vieira also asked about Trump’s doing his own prejudging of the contestants.

Prejean said that Trump chose the hottest contestants and sent them to one side of the stage. Her story confirms an August report by Miss Universe choreographer Michael Schwandt, who told the Web site Guanabee that Trump hand-picked six of the 15 finalists in that pageant.

“We were so excited to meet The Donald,” Prejean said. “He shook our hands. He asked us, ‘How do you feel about so-and-so?’ or ‘Who do you think is the most beautiful woman up here?’ Some of the girls were on the right side and some of the girls were on the left, and those that were on the left were devastated. There’s a lot in this book that a lot of people don’t know goes on behind the scenes in pageants. It’s not all what it seems to be.”

Slideshow: Beauty queen scandals Trump declined to comment on Prejean’s allegations.

Despite all that has happened, Prejean would not condemn beauty pageants, nor would she advise other young women not to enter them.

“I have learned so much and I’ve grown so much. There have been so many great experiences,” she told Vieira. “I wouldn’t be here today had it not been for the pageant.”

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Video: Prejean on sex tape: ‘Nothing is private anymore’

  1. Closed captioning of: Prejean on sex tape: ‘Nothing is private anymore’

    >>> real eerie woods, coming up.

    >>> but we begin with that surprising admission from carrie prejean . she now says she did make a sex tape . we're going to talk to her about it in a moment, but first, her story. there was a time when carrie prejean was well on her way to being the next miss usa .

    >> carrie prejean , you are our new miss california !

    >> and then the question and answer heard around the pageant .

    >> vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage. do you think every state should follow suit? why or why not?

    >> i believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. no offense to anybody out there.

    >> well, people did take offense.

    >> she lost not because she doesn't believe in gay marriage . miss california lost because she's a dumb .

    >> if you read that miss california 's been murdered, you'll know it was me, wouldn't you?

    >> she's dumb and twisted. kind of like a barbie doll .

    >> she not only lost the crown, but her job as miss california .

    >> on april 19th on that stage i exercised my freedom of speech and i was punished for doing so.

    >> and then, dueling lawsuits. prejean suing miss california organizers for libel, slander and religious discrimination . the pageant countersuing for the money which helped her buy breast implants . it all had the makings of a showdown until the warring factions abruptly made peace a week ago, amid rumors the pageant had obtained a previously undisclosed sex tape . carrie prejean has now written a

    still standing: the untold story of my fight against gossip, hate and political attacks." carrie, good morning to you.

    >> good morning.

    >> before we get to the book, obviously, everybody wants to know about this sex tape that surfaced last week. there is one, correct?

    >> you could call it whatever you want to call it. if you want to call it a sex tape , that's fine, but --

    >> well, what do you call it?

    >> it was me by myself. there was no one else with me. i was not having sex . i sent it to my boyfriend at the time. i was a teenager. i cared about him. i trusted him. and you know, but the main point is that there has been a campaign against me to try and silence me for the past seven months for the answer that i gave at the pageant .

    >> so, you made this tape when you were 17 years old. is it basically an example of sexting, something you sent?

    >> um, yeah. i think now they call it sexting, but you know, it was me in the tape. you can call it whatever you want to call it. if you want to call it a sex tape , that's fine, but you know, i was by myself. i sent it to a boyfriend. it was for, you know, private use. but does that justify what i did? no. it was the biggest mistake of my life. and did i think it would come out now and haunt me? no. but i think a lot of young people can learn from this. and you know, nothing is private anymore. nothing is private. but the biggest thing, and the reason why i wrote this book is because americans believe that their beliefs are under attack, and this is proof. this is proof that their beliefs --

    >> so, you believe that somebody sent -- pageant officials got their hands on this tape. how did they get it?

    >> i have no idea. all i know is there has been a campaign against me to try to silence me. they tried to embarrass me. they've tried to humiliate me. they've tried to attack me and i'm still standing . and they can't take that.

    >> so, carrie, why did you drop the lawsuit against campaign officials? you charge them with libel and slander and religious discrimination . if you feel that strongly about it, why drop the lawsuit? were you worried about this tape becoming public?

    >> well, everything that happened in mediation is completely confidential. i made a promise, you know, not to discuss anything that was discussed in there, and if i'm the only one that's holding up to that agreement, then i stand by that.

    >> but did the tape trigger it? because you were going to sue them and then suddenly, the suit is dropped.

    >> like i said, everything that's discussed in mediation, i'm not allowed to discuss it.

    >> this book doesn't take on the sex scandal , but it takes on what happened to you during the pageant . why did you feel the need to write it? what hadn't you said that you needed to say?

    >> well, i think it's important for people to understand, i think americans only heard bits and pieces of what really happened, and i think there is a liberal bias in the media, and it's unfortunate that, you know, conservative women are attacked. they are attacked for their beliefs, you know? and it's unacceptable and it shouldn't happen. and so many americans are frustrated. so many americans believe that their beliefs, you know, are under attack and they should be silent, and free speech doesn't exist. since when does free speech not exist? since when is someone able to go on national tv and call someone the most awful names you could ever call a woman and get away with it?

    >> and you have been called absolutely terrible names, but there are people who say they want to call you out when they feel you're being a hypocrite. you write "our bodies are temples of the lord. we should earn admiration for our hearts, not for being sexy."

    >> absolutely.

    >> now people see this tape and say she's a hypocrite. she writes a novel that says one thing --

    >> well, i'm a model. i was in a beauty pageant . if people call me ihypocrite, that's their prerogative. but i've learned from my mistakes. no one's perfect. i'm not perfect. everybody makes mistakes and i think it's about taking responsibility for their mistakes. and it just so happens that seven months -- it's been seven months since i gave that answer and they have done nothing but attack me and try to silence me and keep me from spreading that message that free speech still exists, and that's the reason why i wrote this book.

    >> you say in the book you've been palinized, referencing sarah palin . what do you mean by that?

    >> you know of the attacks sarah palin 's under, don't you?

    >> but do you think as a conservative woman dprks.

    >> do you think sarah palin has been attacked?

    >> i think sarah palin 's been criticized by many people, as have many politicians.

    >> right, and there is a double standard , there is an extreme double standard that conservative women are under attack for whatever it is. if sean hannity went out there and said some of the things that keith olbermann has said about me -- you know, if he said anything about sonia sotomayor or michelle obama , he would be off the air. why is there this double standard ? that's the reason why i wrote this book.

    >> you also take on beauty pageants . you say that you owe a lot to them, so you're not taking away from that.

    >> right.

    >> but there's a part of the book where you recount what happened at the miss usa pageant before, in the days leading up to it, where donald trump , who owns the pageant , looked over the girls and held his own version of an elimination round. what did he do?

    >> well, i talk about it in my book. basically, he just went out there, and we were so excited to meet, you know, the donald at the time. and he just came out there and meeted us and shook our hands and we were so excited to meet him, but there were a lot of feelings that were hurt by some of the girls. they felt as though they weren't chosen by him, and --

    >> you say in the book he divided the girls into the ones he thought were hot and the ones who were not.

    >> right. well, he asked us, you know, how do you feel about so and so or who do you think's the most beautiful woman out here? and some of the girls were on the right side and some of the girls were on the left side, and those that were on the left were devastated. and so, i mean, there's a lot in this book that a lot of people don't know that goes on, you know, behind the scenes of pageants. it's not always what it seems to be.

    >> would you advise young women not to get involved in pageants?

    >> you know, i have learned so much and i have grown so much. there has been so many great experiences. you know, i wouldn't be here today had it not been for the pageant . in my book, i talk about a story how the pageant officials accidentally sent me to the wrong address and i ended up at a children's hospital, and it was the most amazing experience i have ever had, just being able to visit with children, and that was by accident. and so, i stayed at the hospital for about two hours and it was just, it was unforgettable. so, some of the most amazing things have happened to me since the pageant , but you know, people need to know what really happened and the truth.

    >> all right. carrie prejean , thank you so much.

    >> thank you.

    >> and the book is called, again, " still standing ." i want to say, by the way, donald trump had no comment about what you said in your book. now, let's get

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