On Tuesday morning, Dennis Rodman's crew of less-than-stellar former NBA players went on CNN for an interview with Chris Cuomo. The players wanted to talk about basketball diplomacy, but Rodman was more than happy to defend North Korean leader Kim Jong Un against Cuomo's questions.
Charles Smith spoke with Cuomo first, but Rodman seemed eager to jump in. While Smith explained that Rodman's team was on a “cultural exchange” with the North Koreans, Rodman tried to interject, “No, I got this,” before letting Smith continue.
Then Cuomo asked Rodman about Kenneth Bae, the 44-year-old Korean-American man who was arrested in North Korea for “[seeking] to establish a subversive base” in the country, and whose health is deteriorating while serving a 15-year prison sentence.
Cuomo: Dennis, let me end on this. You do have a relationship with this man ... Are you going to take the opportunity, if you get it, to speak up for the family of Kenneth Bae, and to say “let us know why this man is being held,” that this is wrong? That he is sick. If you can help, Dennis, will you take the opportunity?
Rodman: The one thing about politics. Kenneth Bae did one thing — if you understand — if you understand what Kenneth Bae did. Do you understand what Kenneth Bae did in this country?
Cuomo: What did he do? You tell me.
Rodman: No, no, no, no. You tell me! Why is he held captive in this country?
Cuomo: They haven't released any charges. They haven't released any reason.
In May, Rodman had asked Kim Jong Un via Twitter, to “do me a solid and cut Kenneth Bae Loose”
Rodman then changed the subject back to the basketball players, asking if anyone understood that they went to North Korea “to help this country as a sports venture.”
UPDATE (10:12 a.m.): The Associated Press reports that Charles Smith “feels remorse for coming to Pyongyang with Dennis Rodman for a game on the North Korean leader's birthday because the event has been dwarfed by politics and tainted by Rodman's own comments.”