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Video: O’Donnell: CNN host asked ‘creepy’ questions

  1. Transcript of: O’Donnell: CNN host asked ‘creepy’ questions

    SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, co-host: And now we move on to former US Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell . What made her walk out of that interview on CNN ? We're going to talk to her about that in a moment, but first, NBC 's Kelly O'Donnell has the latest on this story. Kelly , good morning.

    KELLY O'DONNELL reporting: Good morning, Savannah . Well, you'll remember that after Christine O'Donnell had that upset victory in the primary season last year, a whole bunch of TV clips from the '90s surfaced when she was an advocate for abstinence then and she said some controversial and even unusual things. Well, apparently all of that has followed her as an author, too.

    Ms. CHRISTINE O'DONNELL (Author, "Troublemaker"): Thank you for being a part of this. This is exciting.

    O'DONNELL: Getting buzz that money can't buy.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Thank you.

    RANDY: Thanks so much. A pleasure.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: God bless you , Randy .

    RANDY: God bless you .

    O'DONNELL: The former Senate candidate and tea party star...

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Don't ever underestimate the power of we the people.

    O'DONNELL: ...who gave us the most memorable line of campaign 2010 .

    Ms. O'DONNELL: I'm not a witch.

    O'DONNELL: Christine O'Donnell is back.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: I'm not being weird, you're being a little rude.

    O'DONNELL: Her just released book is titled " Troublemaker ." Her publicity tour may live up to that name.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Yeah, OK, I'm being pulled away. You know, we turned down another interview for this.

    O'DONNELL: Wednesday O'Donnell pulled the plug.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Well...

    Mr. PIERS MORGAN: It would appear that the interview has just been ended.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Yeah.

    O'DONNELL: During the taping of an interview to be aired later on CNN 's " Piers Morgan Tonight."

    Mr. MORGAN: Right now I'm curious about whether you support gay marriage .

    Ms. O'DONNELL: You're getting -- you're borderline being a little bit rude, you know? I obviously...

    Mr. MORGAN: Really?

    Ms. O'DONNELL: ...I obviously want to talk about the issues that I choose to talk about in the book.

    O'DONNELL: Twenty-three minutes into the interview , O'Donnell walked out after a series of questions she called embarrassing and creepy.

    Mr. MORGAN: I'm about to ask you a question I don't ask most of my guests, I have to be honest with you. Do you still think masturbation is wrong?

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Oh, let's not even go there.

    Mr. MORGAN: Can I ask you, have you -- have you -- have you committed lust in your heart and therefore adultery since then?

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Oh, let's not -- let's not even go there. Let's get the conversation back to the book, that's why I'm here.

    O'DONNELL: Morgan defended his questions, saying they were about political issues and topics in her book.

    Mr. MORGAN: I don't -- I'm baffled as to why you think I'm being -- I think I'm being rather charming and respectful.

    O'DONNELL: Morgan showed clips from the '90s when O'Donnell appeared on an MTV documentary about sexuality. She says her views on sex relate to her Christian beliefs . Morgan also mentioned he had seen her make the sign of the cross before the interview began and asked her why.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: I just pray. You know, ask for God's blessing on what I'm about to say.

    Mr. MORGAN: Well I was quite relieved. I was expecting some kind of devil worshipping sign at one stage.

    O'DONNELL: At her book signing , O'Donnell claimed a double standard, that a man would not have been treated that way.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: His line of questioning was beyond inappropriate and borderline creepy.

    O'DONNELL: And, of course, Piers Morgan talked about it more on his show last night and invited O'Donnell to come back. She responded to him in a tweet saying, "no hard feelings," but referring to his British background, called

    him a cheeky bugger. Savannah: All right, Kelly O'Donnell , thank you. Christine O'Donnell joins us now this morning from Philadelphia . Christine , good morning. It's good to see you.

    GUTHRIE: Good morning, Savannah . Thank you for having me.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: All right, so why did you do it? Why did you walk out of this interview ?

    GUTHRIE: Well, you know, first of all I want to thank you and I want to thank Kelly O'Donnell because it was not about the questions of gay marriages , as the producer very dishonestly tried to portray it, it was, like I said, the very inappropriate, creepy line of questioning leading up to that. And I think that I was a very good sport for the first 20 minutes of the interview as he replayed the old clips and talked about...

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Well wait a minute, let me...

    GUTHRIE: Yeah.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: ...yeah, let me ask you about that just a little bit , though, because it...

    GUTHRIE: Yeah.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: ...you walked out of an interview actually at the moment he asked you about gay marriage . There was that line of questioning and we did show it.

    GUTHRIE: Well...

    Ms. O'DONNELL: But you didn't walk out then.

    GUTHRIE: Right. Well, if you are sitting in an interview and they're berating you with these questions about your personal sex life , you know, as I -- as I said to another -- well, let me -- as I said to another -- I'm sorry, I'm hearing. I'm having problems with my audio. Oh, I thought you were talking. I'm sorry.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: That's OK.

    GUTHRIE: It was a very -- no, as I said in another interview , when they're sitting there pressing you on personal intimate questions and you're saying I don't want to go there, he could have said, you know, 'What's your mother's name,' and I would have been like, 'Come on, let's stop.' I wanted to stop that borderline sexual harassment that was going on.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Oh I -- OK, I think that what people are...

    GUTHRIE: You know, it was inappropriate and he wasn't stopping.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: OK, but the point is, is that he asked a whole line of those questions and you did attempt in one way or another to answer those questions...

    GUTHRIE: Yeah.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: ...but it was only at the moment he asked you about gay marriage , which in fairness is an issue you raise in your book and you were there to talk about that book.

    GUTHRIE: Well -- sure. Yeah, yeah. Actually I have answered that question. I talked to the Huffington Post about it last night. I'll tell you right now my position is the same as Barack Obama , Hillary Clinton , Rudy Giuliani and Michele Bachmann , that I believe in states' right, but I also think that the church has the right, the First Amendment right to define marriage as it wishes. So it really is not about that question. It was about, you know, he put me in a position that was very awkward and very uncomfortable and we were late. I'm getting the wrap-up signal off camera because we had a room full of Republican women and C-Span waiting for me and it -- the interview was over and he wasn't letting go because he needs the ratings which is why he's exaggerating what happened. I didn't storm off. His sound person is the one who took off my mike. So, you know, this is what happened.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: So the person -- was it not one of your staffers that stood in front of the camera -- I mean, you may not have actually physically got up and walked out...

    GUTHRIE: Well...

    Ms. O'DONNELL: ...but I mean, you stopped the interview .

    GUTHRIE: Exactly. They're exaggerating. Right, because they're trying to say, 'Come on, we have to go. C-span is waiting.' The Republican women in Manhattan were waiting for me. And Piers , for whatever reason, perhaps desperate for ratings, was not letting up in his creepy line of questioning because...

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Well, let's talk about that. Yeah.

    GUTHRIE: ...again he threw the -- he throws it in there in the middle of these sex questions that he would not ask with a man.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Well, OK, let's talk about that because you've said flat out you think this line of questioning was sexist. But how do you get to that? I mean, the fact of the matter is you have had -- you've made these comments about masturbation in your past, in the '90s, and then you write about this in the book you are currently promoting.

    GUTHRIE: Right.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: How is that not fair game? I mean, it is common practice to ask any politician, male or female, about their views. How is this sexist?

    GUTHRIE: Right, and I addressed -- OK, and I addressed the questions and I put it in context that no, I would not do that interview again. I explained why I did the MTV interview in the '90s. But then he goes into a personal nature and starts prying. Imagine if Bill Clinton were there. Would he -- would he ask him, 'Do you still hang out with Monica Lewinsky ? Come on, we talked about it in the '90s? Do you still have that fascination with cigars, Bill ? Come on, what's wrong with this?' No! And if he did ask a male former candidate that, the outcry would be that it belonged on pay-per-view, not supposedly a reputable network like CNN . So it really was an inappropriate line of questioning. I addressed it the way that I do in my book. And you know what's the shame about this, Savannah , is the reviews that I've gotten, the people who have read the book, even if they disagree with me politically, they tell me that they're finding it surprising and motivational story, that they really are enjoying the book.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Well...

    GUTHRIE: And all of this, you know, just like what happened in the campaign. The real message is being overshadowed and that's a shame...

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Well, I mean, you...

    GUTHRIE: ...because he's doing it for ratings.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Yeah, you say he's doing it for ratings. Let's be honest, you want to sell books.

    GUTHRIE: Yes.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Some people think this is a publicity stunt on your part. Your response?

    GUTHRIE: Oh, please. I didn't even want to do the Piers Morgan show, quite honestly because I knew that he resorts to these dirty tricks. But, no, I mean, it was certainly not a publicity stunt .

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Let's talk about a couple of other issues. In your book...

    GUTHRIE: Sure.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: ...you talk about that now famous ad where you say "I am not a witch." This, of course, was your response in the heat of the campaign to old video that surfaced...

    GUTHRIE: Right.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: ...of you saying you had dabbled with witchcraft when you were a younger woman. You say in your book you didn't want to do that ad. My question to you is you were the candidate, you're in charge of your own campaign. If you didn't want to do it, why did you do it?

    GUTHRIE: Right. And I talk about that in great detail because what happened was, you know, what propelled us to victory in September was the sheer gut and instincts of the disenfranchised but very passionate Delaware voters who were giving their blood, sweat and tears and then after the primary we needed the strength that comes from a united party because we had the White House , Barack Obama. ..

    Ms. O'DONNELL: What does that have to do with the witch ad though?

    GUTHRIE: Well, because what I was trying to do was use the vendors that the so-called experts had recommended and I ignored my gut. So I share the story in such an honest way, owning up to my mistake, you know, that at this one moment where it's my gut and the instincts and the passion of we the people that got us this far, I chose then to listen to the experts and ignore my gut and there's a lesson there.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: OK.

    GUTHRIE: And that's why I start the book right off with what most readers are picking it up, where they want to hear all the nitty-gritty about that ad, and I give it to them. I explain that now infamous blind date that I went on and why I shared all that with Bill Maher .

    Ms. O'DONNELL: All right. And before I let you go, you've been a candidate three times. Are you likely to run for political office again?

    GUTHRIE: You know, I honestly don't know. But what I do hope is that I can -- going into 2012 , continue to remain a voice. I've been honored that some people have called me a leader in this movement, and I want to hopefully continue that and I hope that the book will be a rallying cry to everyday Americans to get involved in the political process.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: All right. Christine O'Donnell , we made it all of the way to the end. Thank you for your time today. Appreciate it.

    GUTHRIE: Thank you, Savannah .

    Ms. O'DONNELL:

TODAY staff and wire
updated 8/19/2011 9:00:18 AM ET 2011-08-19T13:00:18

Former U.S. Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell says she walked off Piers Morgan's CNN show because of what she described as his "very inappropriate, creepy line of questioning."

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The Delaware Republican said Friday morning on TODAY that she wanted to stop the "borderline sexual harassment that was going on."

Story: Piers Morgan: I wasn't rude to Christine O'Donnell

O'Donnell had been invited to appear on Morgan's show Wednesday to promote her new book, "Troublemaker." Morgan asked her during the interview whether she still believes masturbation is wrong and supports total abstinence. O'Donnell has made comments in the past about opposing masturbation.

Afterward, O'Donnell appeared to become angry when Morgan asked her if she supported gay marriage. She said Morgan was "borderline being a little bit rude."

O'Donnell told TODAY's Savannah Guthrie that her reaction was "not about gay marriage," saying that she held the same position as "Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani and Michele Bachmann" on the issue and that it was a states' rights matter but that churches have rights to define marriage as they wish.

O'Donnell said that at that point, the Morgan interview was running late and she was "getting the wrap-up signal off-camera" to end things so she could attend an event for Republican women.

"[Morgan] needs the ratings which is why he's exaggerating what happened," she told TODAY. "I didn't storm off. His sound person is the one who took off my mike."

Guthrie pointed out that it was one of O'Donnell's staffers who blocked the camera so the former candidate could no longer be seen. O'Donnell said the reason for the interview's abrupt end was the timing issue combined with what she called Morgan's "creepy line of questioning" that featured "sex questions that he would not ask of a man."

When asked by Guthrie why such questions were not fair game since they are discussed in the book she was promoting, O'Donnell said she did address them but that Morgan's questions "then went into a personal nature and start prying."

"Imagine if Bill Clinton were there," O'Donnell said. "Would he ask him, 'Do you still hang out with Monica Lewinsky? C'mon, we talked about it in the '90s, c'mon, do you still have that fascination with cigars, Bill?'"

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"I didn't even want to do the Piers Morgan show quite honestly because I knew that he resorts to these dirty tricks," she told Guthrie.

Guthrie also asked O'Donnell about her controversial campaign ad in which she says "I am not a witch" and why she appeared in the ad that she later disavowed.

"What I was trying to do was use the vendors that the so-called experts had recommended and I ignored my gut ... There's a lesson there," she said.

Story: Christine O'Donnell walks out of 'Piers Morgan'

O'Donnell told Guthrie she didn't know if she'd run for office again.

After the CNN appearance, Morgan invited O'Donnell back on the show, but she declined, calling the British host a "cheeky bugger" in a tweet.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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