V. Stiviano: Donald Sterling Isn’t a Racist, Is Being Tested by a Higher Power

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 3 2014 10:58 AM

V. Stiviano: Donald Sterling Isn’t a Racist, Is Being Tested by a Higher Power

V. Stiviano took off the oversized visor and sat down with ABC’s Barbara Walters on Friday for an interview in which she opens up about Donald Sterling for the first time since the NBA banned the Clippers owner for life and fined him $2.5 million. Walters apparently talked to Sterling on Friday as well but he ultimately decided not to appear on camera. Why Sterling backed away is anyone’s guess. But Stiviano emphasizes right off the bat that Sterling is not a happy man right now. "I think he feels very alone. Not truly supported by those around him," the 31-year-old woman said. She went on to say that she thinks Sterling “is being tested right now by a higher power or being and I’m forced to come to his rescue because he can’t rescue himself.”

Stiviano insisted that she doesn’t believe Sterling is a racist. But when Walters asked whether she had “heard him say derogatory things about other races,” Stiviano said yes. “Don’t those sound racist to you?” asked Walters. “I think the things he says are not what he feels. Anyone can say anything in the heat of the moment.” Asked to elaborate, Stiviano says Sterling “is from a different generation” and “was brought up to believe these things” but “through his actions he’s shown that he’s not a racist.” Still, she said Sterling should apologize for what he said although “God only knows” if he will.

Probably the most frustrating part of the interview is when Walters dances around asking about the nature of Stiviano’s relationship with Sterling. Stiviano said that it was a “misconception” she was a mistress, but Walters doesn’t follow up. At one point of the interview Stiviano describes herself as “Mr. Sterling’s right-hand arm/man. I’m Mr. Sterling’s everything. I’m his confidant, his best friend, his silly rabbit.” Apparently she calls herself his “silly rabbit” because she makes him laugh. Walters kept dancing around the question:

Are you in love with Donald Sterling?
I love him.
I'm not sure that's what I asked. Are you in love?
No, I’m not in love.
You love him, what, like a friend?
I love him like a father figure.
Like a father...
I love him like—just like a father figure.
So, I'm not sure that I understand the relationship…
Well, I'm Mr. Sterling’s personal assistant. Like I said, I'm his right hand. I'm his wingman. What isn’t there to understand?
Let me ask this: Do you and Donald Sterling have a financial arrangement … does he pay you?
Yes … he at first started paying me as an employee, and then off the books.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.