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Interview with Rep. Allen West of Florida; Whitney Houston's Doctors to be Questioned; Slaughter In Syria Spreading; Whitney Houston's Funeral Plans Announced; Nick Jonas Stars on Broadway; The Roots of Jazz

Aired February 15, 2012 - 08:00   ET



SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning. Welcome to STARTING POINT this morning.

We start with a tax cut deal that faces another key test day. That deal's going to keep money in our paychecks, but some people say no way to pay for it. Is it going to pass? We're going to talk this morning to Congressman Allen West. He's going to join us live.

Plus, a new video showing the Syrian military using civilians as human shields. Oh, my gosh. These new pictures from Syria is so disturbing. More blasting across more cities in Syria.

CNN is now inside that country and that country is headed toward a full-scale war. Going to bring you up to date what's happening there.

Plus, from packed concert arenas to selling out Broadway theater, Nick Jonas. And actually, his fans have been tweeting me like -- these are his very aggressive fans. I like that. He's going to join us in a little bit.

STARTING POINT begins right now.


O'BRIEN: Simon and Garfunkel, "Cecilia" -- because I have a daughter named Cecelia, who, by the way, for years, this was her favorite song. She's a little bit like mommy on that front. A song about me.

Welcome back, everybody.

Let me introduce you once again to our panel.

Nancy Giles joins us.

It's nice to have you.


O'BRIEN: Don Peebles is back. He said he'd be back when I needed him. Here he is this morning, borrowing my reading glasses. You can't see either.



WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You picked up her reading glasses?

O'BRIEN: No, we gave him my reading glasses. He can't see. He can't see.

Will Cain is back.

CAIN: Good morning.

O'BRIEN: Always nice to have Will. Are you better?

CAIN: I'm great. Yes, feeling much better. Thank you.

O'BRIEN: His two little children who brought home lots of germs.

CAIN: Yes, set us back a couple of days.

O'BRIEN: Yes, but you're back strong. Back strong.

All right. Let's talk about this tentative deal to extend the payroll tax cut. It would save an average family roughly $80 a month. It's become a very big political issue. The deal would also expand on employment benefits and could be voted on by the end of the week.

Turning point, of course, on Monday when House Republican leaders dropped the demand that any extension would have to be paid for by spending cuts. Now, it is not clear if all Republicans are going to go along with that deal.

Republican Congressman Allen West of the great state of Florida joins us this morning. He is also a member of the Tea Party.

You know, you have been on the show so much you might be a co- anchor of the show, sir -- dare I say.

REP. ALLEN WEST (R), FLORIDA: No. I'm getting to be pretty popular on your show.

O'BRIEN: I know. I know.

WEST: But it's great to be with you.

O'BRIEN: Thank you. I appreciate that.

All right. Let's talk a little bit about what's going on here. The big question, of course, is: are you going to support the extending the payroll tax cut or not?

WEST: Well, when I listened to some of the points that were brought out last night, it really does cause me some consternation because one of the things I did not agree on the two-month extension was that we're going to raise the fees on the long guarantees for the government sponsored enterprises, Fannie and Freddie. As a matter of fact, there's an investigative report that's on our Twitter and Facebook link that you can go to our Web site and see, because what we're really talking about is penalizing American homeowners at a time when in the district that I represent we still have a pretty big foreclosure process.

O'BRIEN: And I hear you on all of that but that doesn't answer my question, which is at the end of the day when this thing comes --

WEST: Well --

O'BRIEN: -- to a vote, yes or no?

WEST: Well, not if we're going to do it on the backs of American homeowners, I won't support that. I voted yes for this back in December and we had everything paid for. We were not running a deficit for Social Security, which is exactly what we're talking about doing.

So, it's about time that we get pretty genuine with the American people and not give them some political gimmicks. But let's start doing the things that look out for our future, not just a short term economic band aid.

O'BRIEN: You know, we were talking yesterday, and Will Cain was part of this conversation, that the American people like gimmicks. When you poll them, they'll sort of say that they don't want -- the poll that we were looking at, they say they both want the --

CAIN: They care very much about the government running a deficit. They'd like to see the government take care of that.

O'BRIEN: But they don't actually want to pay for it.

CAIN: They don't want to pay for it. They don't want their Medicare and Social Security touched.

O'BRIEN: Right.

So, back to the congressman -- you know, you run the risk at the end of the day if you're not popular, if people feel like you're literally taking money out of their pockets, that, you know, this could mean very much that you're not going to get re-elected? And you're in a tough redistricting fight, aren't you?

WEST: Well, this is the thing -- I'm not up here worrying about getting reelected. I have to look at myself at the end of the day in the mirror. And I think there are many different ways we could have done this.

You know, we're talking about a 2 percent cut on the employee side. If we really want to stimulate economic growth, we could have done at 2 percent on the employer side, 4.2 percent. Or we just make this permanent at 4.2 percent and explain to the American people the ramifications and detriment to Social Security.

Or we could have just gone back and made this a 2 percent cut across all the income tax brackets and made it retroactive back to the 1st of January last year as people began to file their tax forms.

So I think that, again, I have to be responsible to the American people. I have to be accountable to them, and I'm not the kind of guy that likes political gimmick. When I sit down and I look at the fact that we've got a $15.4 trillion deficit, we are on our fourth straight year of trillion dollar plus -- I mean, debt, and four straight year a trillion dollar-plus deficits, it's about time we get people who are serious and going to work for hard working American taxpayers. And not just tell them lies so we can get re-elected.

O'BRIEN: OK. So, the Obama campaign has been leveraging off this fight the last time around. They have this thing about sort of like what would $40 do for you? And it's been very effective.

They'll say, you know, people will e-mail in or text in, they'll say $40 is three or four days of food, $40 is a tank of gas, $40 is half of my electric bill.

Another person wrote $40 is the paycheck. It's the $160 that we put away for our children's college educations.

Another person wrote, Bill Briggs wrote, "It's eating for four or five days. It's feeding my dog for a month. Doesn't seem like much, but it is when you're hungry."

This is a very effective political tool for the Obama administration. Do you run the risk of losing on that front?

WEST: Well, what you just said is indicative of the problem in Washington, D.C. You said a political tool. That means this is not about good policy. That is -- that means it's not about the future for this country.

As a matter of fact, we're going to accumulate our own list of the top 10 things that $40 does not get you. As a matter of fact, I can't fill up a tank of gas in my vehicle back home with $40 of gas.

But then, again, Soledad, think about what we're doing for our seniors. We're pushing Social Security closer off of a cliff because we're going to run the risk, once again, on the second straight year of the deficit and Social Security, when the actuaries and the trustees have already said that we're looking at about 10 years before we have bankruptcy with Medicare. And then following that, Social Security with probably 25 percent to 30 percent with degradation of benefits.

So, these are the things we need to be saying to the American people and not playing games with them based upon $40.

O'BRIEN: It will be interesting to see if people want to have games played or people want to, you know --

NANCY GILES: Forty dollars.

O'BRIEN: Yes, right. I mean, it is a tough call.

Congressman Allen West joining us. Nice to see you. Thanks for being with us. Appreciate it.

He goes for a run seven miles every morning.

GILES: What?

CAIN: Really? Seven miles?


CAIN: That's no joke.

O'BRIEN: That is no joke.

All right. Other headlines, Christine got those.

Hey, Christine. Seven miles, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad. Yes.

Let's go to Iran this morning -- letting the world know about its nuclear capabilities. You're looking at Iranian state TV where President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claiming that Iran has built homemade nuclear rods, insisting a uranium enrichment facility is now fully operational.

Meantime, Israeli and American security officials in the U.S. are reportedly on high alert. Israeli officials say security for high ranking embassy officials is at its highest level in five year, even though there's no credible evidence of any threat to Israeli interests in the U.S.

Meantime, a busy day for China's president-in-waiting, Vice President Xi Jinping is scheduled to meet with congressional leaders on Capitol Hill today before giving a speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

In meetings yesterday, President Obama told Xi that China has a responsibility to ensure fair and balanced trade policies. Later today, she heads to Iowa for a reunion with farm families he met in 1985.

The trial of an Alabama man accused of drowning his wife is underway in Birmingham. Attorneys for Gabe Watson told jurors yesterday the death of Tina Watson was caused by a perfect storm of events on Australia's Great Barrier Reef eight years ago.

Prosecutors argued Watson is a trained rescue diver. He should have been able to save his bride of just 11 days.

Rick Santorum throwing a hunk of red meat to his supporters in Boise, Idaho. The former Pennsylvania senator blasting the Obama administration for dismissing a Medicare overhaul plan written by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan.


RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don't you see how they see you? How they look down their nose at the average Americans? These elite snobs.


ROMANS: The next GOP primary is coming up next week in Michigan and Arizona.

And we may not have heard the last of Rick Perry. The Texas governor sounding like he plans to run for president again in 2016. When a reporter in Washington asked him if it was possible he said, quote, "Absolutely." Perry called his failed 2012 candidacy, quote, "The most exhilarating thing I've ever done."

All right. Lin-sanity spreading to every corner of the planet. Jeremy Lin continuing his Lin-credible domination of the NBA. Sorry, Soledad.

The Knicks guard scored 27 points and kill-Lin-it to the last second three-pointer to give New York a 90-87 victory over Toronto last night. The Knicks have now won six straight games since Lin got off the bench, and on to the court.

I had to, I had to, I had to, I had to.

O'BRIEN: Too bad. But you know what? Yet better than "The Daily News," which is "Lin and a prayer."

ROMANS: That's not good. Dom-lin-ation.

O'BRIEN: Awkward but better.


O'BRIEN: Too many syllables. All right. Thanks, Christine.

There's a new report out that says that Whitney Houston's doctors will be subpoenaed by police who are investigating the singer's death. "The L.A. Times" says that doctors who prescribed medications and the pharmacies that filled prescriptions will face questions. Coroners have confirmed that various medications were found in Houston's hotel room.

A friend tells CNN she was taking pills for anxiety, to sleep and also to treat her -- I guess she had a throat infection.

Susan Candiotti is live for us this morning. She's in Newark with the very latest on the investigation.

Hey, Susan. Good morning.


Of course, the importance when you think about it of trying to figure out exactly what Whitney Houston's medical history was and what medications she's on is very crucial to this coroner's investigation as he tries to pin down the exact cause of death which remains a mystery. And we know already, as you pointed out, that she was taking at the very least Xanax and something else for a throat infection.

The question is: was she mixing that with alcohol? Did she have some other medical problems or underlying issues that might have led to her death? Did she drown in the bathtub? These are all questions we don't know.

And certainly her drug past is not something that the family wants to dwell on at this time but it's something, of course, the coroners need to concentrate on.

For -- as far as the funeral service goes, this is what the family is concentrating on at this moment. And they want it to be private. They have said that the world has had Whitney Houston for many, many years, over 30 years, and now they want this funeral and for her to be one and her own in that church, a church where she grew up and sang as a child.

We spoke with Reverend Carter who talked about the strength that he is getting from Cissy Houston, Whitney Houston's mother.


PASTOR JOE E. CARTER, THE NEW HOPE BAPTIST CHURCH: Well, she's hurting. She's grieving, of course. But Cissy Houston is a woman of strong faith. She's -- actually was testifying about how God had been so good to her to this point and how she said he's not going to leave her now. And I was there to lift her spirits and she ended uplifting mine. It's just an amazing testimony of the grace of God.


CANDIOTTI: And so we know this will be a 1,500-only invitation list to this private funeral and burial. We don't know who's on the list yet.

And it's possible that they might have a camera on the inside of the church and broadcast what is happening inside on a big jumbo screen outside. But they're still trying to work out those details, Soledad. We know that this will be a ceremony filled with grief but also filled with questions among the many people here as they wait to find out what led to her death.

O'BRIEN: Yes. It's terrible. Really, you can understand, too, the family. They understand she's a celebrity and, yet, they kind of want to have her to her own.

All right. Susan Candiotti with that update -- thanks, Susan. Appreciate it.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT: some new video to show you. The Syrian military using people -- look at these pictures here -- as human shields. And that is for many people a sign that the revolt has reached the point of no return.

Also, this morning Mitt Romney taking a big hit in the likability column. Who is likeable besides Will Cain? We've got the numbers for you straight ahead.

Maybe you should jump in the race. Brokered convention, Will Cain.

Also this morning, why you might be able to sit through a meal soon without being bugged by telemarketers. Remember when they passed that legislation, the do not call list?

GILES: What happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now they're calling your cell phone.

O'BRIEN: They do. They do. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back right after this.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everybody. Let's focus on Syria now edging closer to a full-scale war. The slaughter of civilians is spreading across the country now. According to the opposition, four dead. Forty-nine people killed on Tuesday. Government snipers reportedly on street, corners in Homs, and the attacks are widening.

Homs, of course, is still the target of the heaviest shelling, as you can see from some of that videotape, there. Deaths, though, are now reported in several other cities including Daraa and Damascus. The question today is what should the U.S. do to step up and help. An overwhelming number of Americans say, no, the U.S. should not help.

Have you seen this poll? It's a CNN/ORC poll. And the question was, does the U.S. have the responsibility to do something about the fighting in Syria? Only 25 percent of the people said yes and 73 percent of the people who are polled said no. The reports of Syrian troops who are using civilians as human shields. And you can see -- do we have a videotape? Let's show that.

People marching through the streets. It's amazing. Listen to what Nick Paton Walsh had to say a little bit earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There have been reports the army was using detained civilians as human shields to prevent opposition militants shooting at them. And now, a video, the authenticity of which we can't confirm seems to show that.

Slowly, they crouch then kneel. A child's voice behind the camera muttering, "oh, mom, will they shoot them? Look, look." The soldiers advance down the road. They then lie flat.


O'BRIEN: Oh, my gosh. That's incredible. Nick joins us from Beirut, Lebanon. Those pictures are so difficult to watch. Oh, my goodness.

WALSH (on-camera): Absolutely. It is one of the war crimes, I think, potentially, if that video proofs to be authentic, referred to at the United Nations by high commissioner of human rights there. I should point out that the onslaught this morning continues in Homs. This area opposition strong hold, a particular part of which known as Badama as received really the bronze of this Syrian army onslaught.

In fact, it was just in that area early on a few days ago we heard these initial reports that human shields might be being used by the Syrian army in a way which you saw in that video just earlier, but that's actually in a different part near Damascus inside Syria.

This morning, though, dominated, I think, Homs by this blast that hit a crucial oil pipeline that takes oil towards the capital of Damascus. Black thick smoke billowing out across Badama or I think much of Homs, as well. We're hearing, in fact, of residents there having respiratory difficulties, choking on carbon monoxide fumes.

Because of this, the Syrian military regime saying this was attack by armed terrorists causing the explosion where, of course, one local resident we spoke who said, actually, it was a Syrian war plane that dropped munitions on it. But, those conversations we have regularly with activists inside Homs constantly punctuated by the thud of artillery landing in the building -- near the buildings where they're trying to hide.

O'BRIEN: Oh, my goodness. It's really hard to watch. Nick Paton Walsh for us this morning. Thanks for that update.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT, the Penn State sex abuse scandal has cost the university its reputation. It's cost the university its legendary head coach, but guess how much money it's costing the university? It's in the millions. We'll talk about that on the other side of this commercial break.

And then, tweens about to invade Broadway. Nick Jonas is going to join us to talk about his new role on stage and also why he drinks a ton of coffee. You're watching -- as I do. But I'm sure it's not for my voice. You're watching -- there he is getting ready. Nice to see you, Nick. We're going to talk to him live in just a minute.


O'BRIEN: How do you not love that song? We're having a really good music day, mostly thanks to Nancy.

NANCY GILES, SOCIAL COMMENTATOR: I have exquisite taste.

O'BRIEN: That's James Taylor off of Nancy Giles' playlist. Nicely done.

GILES: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: I love James Taylor, and he's a nice guy. He's wonderful. I interviewed him a couple of times.

Yes. Let's talk politics because, why not. New polls to get to. Really interesting polls, especially this one which is a new poll out in a key battleground state. It's all about the Santorum surge. This is a Quinnipiac University poll, and it shows Rick Santorum with a seven-point lead in the buckeye state, and it confirms that we sought our national polls where Santorum has a two-point lead over Mitt Romney.

And then, this poll, have you seen these favorability numbers. Can we pop those up? Favorability numbers, Mitt Romney's favorable numbers -- I think these polls are kind of hard to read, but if you basely go top row, was 67 percent, has dropped down to 54 percent. That's bad. But then, the unfavorable rating was 25 percent not that long ago, now 40 percent.

All right. So, let's go to Will Cain because he's gearing up to say something.


WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, I'm gearing up with a huge question mark above my head. I don't know what happened other than, perhaps, his interview with you. His one statement in the past couple of weeks that went out there that was something that everyone could seemingly disagree with, "I'm not very concerned about the poor people." What has happened to make his numbers on the unfavorability poll skyrocket?

O'BRIEN: Or is it Rick Santorum seeing possible?

DON PEEBLES, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, THE PEEBLES CORPORATION: Oh, no, no. This is the result of being the frontrunner for a long time. He's being attacked constantly. Gingrich, Santorum, the Republican Party is not totally comfortable with him, because he's more to the center. He's the most electable Republican out here campaigning.

Newt Gingrich will be popping champagne. All of us on the Obama side of Newt Gingrich with the nominee. Santorum couldn't hold his own state of Pennsylvania. Ultimately, this is Romney finding his legs and being bumped around, which is actually good for him. By the way, Obama, Obama --

O'BRIEN: Nancy's like, no.

PEEBLES: Look, Obama came off of the Iowa caucuses and caught Hillary Clinton in the polls in New Hampshire, then Hillary Clinton --

O'BRIEN: Made him a stronger candidate.

PEEBLES: Made him a stronger candidate. That's what's happening with Romney right now.

GILES: I just don't think so. I don't think it's going to make him a stronger candidate. I agree with you. I think that what he said when you interviewed him in this casual way adds up to a number of remarks that just makes him really seem pretty insensitive to what most middle class and working class people have to deal with.

And, although, I completely can't believe Santorum on contraception and some of the other issues and women's place being in the home and whatnot. He has this working class kind of heir about him where he really connects with people in a way that Mitt Romney can't.

O'BRIEN: I think Santorum -- I have follow him a little bit on the campaign trail. I think he has really genuinely gotten stronger. if you could pick a candidate who has used the time well to grow --

GILES: I agree with you.

O'BRIEN: I would say that's Rick Santorum, but if you -- what happens in Michigan? Let's say Mitt Romney loses in Michigan, which some polling suggests that he does?

CAIN: Then, we're going to have a hard time determining who the Republican nominee is going to be. We're going to go all the way to the convention most likely, and at that point, who knows?

But, I would suspect even out of that convention, Mitt Romney would end up being the nominee, I think the best that guys like Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich can do is deny Mitt Romney a clear path. But it doesn't mean deny him an eventual path. Here's what I would ask you guys and here's a difficult conversation, a difficult question.

O'BRIEN: We love difficult conversations. My forte.

CAIN: If you are Mitt Romney, how do you attack Rick Santorum? Your path to attack Newt Gingrich was clear. I'm talking about in a primary. How do you convince Republican voters Rick Santorum is the wrong choice. Newt Gingrich, that was easy.

He had so many -- he had such baggage that it was weighing him down from left to right, but how do you go after Rick Santorum? There is no clear path here to attack Rick Santorum?


O'BRIEN: That's not going to work, but, we're going to have to continue this conversation in a commercial break. Stop.


O'BRIEN: We're going to be talking ahead this morning on STARTING POINT about Republicans who've been slamming the president's defense budget. Deep cuts across the board. Some say it's disconnected from the risks, though. We'll talk about that.

Plus, from Craigslist to Westminster dog show. Why do I always want to do that with a British accent.

CAIN: The Doberman got second or third, right?

O'BRIEN: Oh, you like Doberman?

CAIN: I'm a big fan (ph).

O'BRIEN: We will tell you. This is a great story. This is an American story. An abused pup becomes the nation's top dog. God bless, America. You're watching STARTING POINT. I love that story.



O'BRIEN: The band is called the Airborne Toxic Event. I got a letter Jim Taylor and he said I heard a little snippet. It was Erick Erickson's pick. They sound like a bunch of people in a garage playing. Anyway today I offer my apologies. Here's what Jim Taylor wrote. "I sincerely hope that you will listen to these songs, consider your comment, and consider only making on air amends to the Airborne Toxic Event and their fans. They are not only talented musicians, they're one of the most kindest, gracious, and most accessible groups of entertainment people that you will ever hope to meet."


O'BRIEN: Totally. I feel bad. So what I did, I came in and I listened all morning to the Airborne Toxic Event, which has taken off of a Don Delillo book, "White Noise," so a literary reference of one of my favorite books. And they're good. We in the newsroom decided we liked them.

CAIN: This sounds good.

O'BRIEN: They're good. So I would like to apologize profusely to the band. People should go to YouTube because they're very entertaining. I like them. I stand corrected. Jim Taylor, thank you for the e-mail.

CAIN: See, Soledad, there's room for growth.

O'BRIEN: Oh, god, me more than anybody. Yes. No, I think they're good. I correct myself.

All right, headlines to get to this morning. Christine, I bought you a cd from the Airborne Toxic Event.

ROMANS: Excellent. I can't wait to get it. Thanks, Soledad.

Meantime today, the prosecution expected to wrap up in the University of Virginia lacrosse murder trial. And 24-year-old George Huguely is charged in the beating death of ex-girlfriend Yeardley Love. This week a brain expert testified that Love was hit in the head so hard that it literally twisted the blood vessels in her head. Huguely is facing first degree murder and five other charges.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta defending the Pentagon's proposed military cuts. He testified in front of the Armed Services Committee on the $614 billion. He says the cuts were carefully planned. The cuts would slash the size of the army and the marines and cut back on shipbuilding. Last hour Soledad spoke with two members of the Armed Services Committee, Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter and Democratic Congressman Adam Smith. Here's both sides.


REP. DUNCAN HUNTER, (R) CALIFORNIA: You have to have ships and have you to have airplanes. Those are the waste that we protect our economy. If you control the oceans you control the world. If you control space, you control the oceans.

REP. ADAM SMITH, (D) WASHINGTON: We talk about the cuts over the course of the next 10 years. In those ten years every year except for this one the budget was $530 billion last year. It's going to be $525 this year, and it's going to go up every single year. When they're talking about a cut, they're talking about a decrease in the proposed increase.


ROMANS: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa got another high profile gig. He will chair the 2012 Democratic National Convention where Democrats are expected to nominate President Obama for a second term. That convention will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina, this September.

Penn State says the Jerry Sandusky case has cost the school nearly $3.2 million. Those costs come from legal, consultant, and public relations fees. Penn State says it will not use alumni, student, or taxpayer money to foot the bill. The school will, instead, use money from insurance policies and from low interest loans.

Now tired of robo-calls like this one?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Press one now on your phone to speak with a live operator.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: The FCC is cracking down. Set to approve new rules to make it harder for companies to just dial you or text you like that. Telemarketers will have to get your written consent in order to contact you, and they have to let you opt out of any future calls during their robo-call. The new rules do not apply to companies that hire real people to make those calls and annoy you.

The top dog announced at the Westminster Dog Show.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Best in show at the 136th annual Westminster Kennel Club, America's dog show, is the Pekingese.



ROMANS: That best in show Pekingese is named Malachi. He beat out a German shepherd, a Doberman pincher, and a wire haired dachshund Sunday to capture to the coveted silver bull. I don't know, is he cute? He looks high maintenance.

O'BRIEN: He's completely high maintenance. That's the kind of dog -- you need a dog that doesn't shed if you're going to come to my house.

ROMANS: The top one percent of dogs.


O'BRIEN: Right. The mutts are the 99 percent and that Pekingese is the one percent. Christine, thank you. I like that dog. That's cute.

Let's talk about Whitney Houston. A new report says that her doctors are going to be subpoenaed by police who are investigating Houston's death. The "L.A. Times" is reporting that the doctors who prescribed medications and the pharmacies that filled those prescriptions are going to face some questions.

This weekend family and close friends will say farewell to Whitney Houston. It's a private funeral that will take place in Newark, New Jersey. It will be at New Hope Baptist Church where she grew up. The eulogy will be given by gospel singer and pastor Marvin Winans. He presided over the wedding that between Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown that took place in 1992.

Danyel Smith is back with us. She's an editor at "Billboard" magazine. It's so interesting to see the family, in spite of all of these people who would love this to be a public event, are pushing to make it be a private event.

DANYEL SMITH, EDITOR, "BILLBOARD" MAGAZINE: I don't think anybody can even begin to understand, maybe you can, but it's such a big moment in so many ways but in other ways it's such a private and intimate moment. There's going to be weeping and crying and sadness and regret. There's going to be all these things going on. I don't know if it needs to be fully public.

O'BRIEN: Bernice King was telling me about going to her father's funeral. It angered her that all of these other people got to be part of that moment. "He was my dad," -- she never sort -- it was really interesting all those years later sort of talking about how she felt as a child to see all these people loving him so much when she felt it was her time. You have to imagine that the family would feel the same way. Earlier we were talking to Nicki Gilbert. I thought she was terrific.

SMITH: She was.

O'BRIEN: She said, listen, we've got to do something. One of her suggestions is to have the record companies monitor -- I was going to ask you about that.

SMITH: I don't know about that.

O'BRIEN: Listen, they monitor your weight, hair color.

SMITH: Female artists, they do.

O'BRIEN: Is that unrealistic?

SMITH: I don't know if that's really the way. I think that there is a personal responsibility that we all have to keep ourselves as happy and as healthy as we can be.

O'BRIEN: If she gained 30 pounds and cut her hair of they'd be calling her into the office. They would.

SMITH: But do you really want the people at the record company saying to you, don't do this, don't do that?


SMITH: In terms of drinking or smoking or eating or anything like that?

PEEBLES: But they do with the eating.

SMITH: They can't actually control it even if they do say it. She can still gain weight, lose weight, cut her hair, grow her hair out. It doesn't matter what anyone says to you.

CAIN: That same interview, you asked do celebrities know how many people are rooting from them. I'm a little taken aback by the amount of public attention Whitney Houston has gotten, not because she wasn't great. She was great. But she hadn't been in the public eye for the last 10 years.

SMITH: When you grow up --

CAIN: She's not a celebrity that people felt they knew. That doesn't mean she didn't deserve it. but did Whitney know that this many people were rooting for her, that she had this kind of support in her corner?

O'BRIEN: In her Oprah interview she talked about losing all sense of normalcy. You can't go to the corner and the people didn't know who she was, but they had the sense of who she was. It seemed like it was frustrating and challenging.

CAIN: It's apparent now. I wonder if it was apparent to her a week ago.

SMITH: I don't know that she knew.

PEEBLES: That's part of the cause of addiction. Frankly when you look at substance abuse, the cause is normally insecurities or isolation. I hope that this -- that her death would do something positive, which is to bring attention to the suffering of millions of American women who are dealing with -- who are being prescribed antidepressants, who are drinking, and who are suffering because there's this tremendous burden that society puts on women to be moms, to be wives, to be career women, to be -- maintain this sense of beauty and youth.

And so Whitney Houston is not the only woman in America suffering. And she's certainly not the only woman in this last month that has died from some unusual cause at a young age.

SMITH: She isn't. But at the same time, it is difficult work being a pop star. It is difficult work having to hide who you are every single day.

O'BRIEN: To market who everybody thinks you are.

PEEBLES: But it's a choice made. It's a choice that they seek out.

O'BRIEN: It's got to be a painful choice. Danyel, nice to have you always.

SMITH: Thank you for having me.

O'BRIEN: Ahead on STARTING POINT we're going to talk about a boy band sensation who has made his way to Broadway, Nick Jonas. He's selling out how to succeed. Sophia, come to the TV. Nick Jonas will join us live after this break. Stay with us.


O'BRIEN: "SOS," the hit song. The Jonas Brothers became super stars with their self-titled album back in 2007. Nick's career started well before that. He made his Broadway debut at the age of eight, appeared in "Annie Get your Gun." You were also in "Les Mis."

NICK JONAS, SINGER: I was in "Annie Get your Gun," "Beauty and the Beast," and "The Christmas Carol" as well. O'BRIEN: Now he's back on Broadway, six-month run in the Tony award winning musical "How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying." It's nice to have you.

JONAS: Thank you for having me.

O'BRIEN: Oh, the Twitter going crazy because you're here.

JONAS: Wow, very nice.

O'BRIEN: Let me -- let me start, you know we were talking about Whitney Houston and sort of the pressures of being a pop star. Do you feel that, I mean, do you feel like you have any normal life? You are here with a host of people this morning because that's how you travel now.

JONAS: Just starting with Whitney Houston, I mean, basically I found out, the whole cast of the show found out just before our show and -- and so it was extremely tough for all of us just because she's such an inspiration for all of us as a vocalist. And it was one of those things where we all had to take a minute and kind of center ourselves up again and get ready for the show. Because we knew that the audience out there that night would need a bit of encouragement, and uplifting.

And she's an inspiration for so many people. And so for her and her family, prayers and blessings to all of them but you know it's tough. And when you -- when you sort of are in this for as long as she's been in it, there are -- there are a lot of things that can become difficult. And I'm sure that being surrounded by the wrong people can also play into that.

But I know for me personally, it's just about trying to do -- do the best I can to kind of keep a level head through it all and luckily I've had two brothers with me the whole time which has made it a bit easier.

O'BRIEN: We were talking about the grueling schedule. You're doing eight shows a week now. But it's going -- it's going to -- it's going to grow, right? You just starting two shows on Saturdays and Sundays.

JONAS: That's just one weekend. So one weekend we have -- we have nine shows in a week. And the week before it's seven shows. So it's kind of a little bit of a different schedule. But yes eight shows a week. And you know this show is very intense as far as the dancing and the singing goes and --


O'BRIEN: Are you physically exhausted? Let me show a clip of it first.


O'BRIEN: Because I mean, for everybody in New York who has been to see the show but is it physically exhausting?

JONAS: It is really exhausting. But it's one of those things where I say -- where I've done shows like "Les Mis" in London, 2010 it was summer time. And that's a really big vocal show. And with this one the vocal side of it is amazing and I love singing the show. But the dancing has really become a challenge.

It's a lot of talking as well. I have a softer talking voice. And so I've had to find a place to let it set in so my voice doesn't get tired of the talking side. But the singing is amazing. And I love doing that no problem.

O'BRIEN: You -- you have diabetes.

JONAS: I do. Type one diabetes.

O'BRIEN: You have juvenile diabetes. How does that play a role in -- in your exhaustion and your -- I mean, what does it exactly mean for you health wise when you're doing something that's already physically grueling.

JONAS: It's just about keeping a close eye on it. I have a dresser in the show, someone who helps me get ready and get my costume and all of that and they also kind of help me with this. And give my little, my little pouch with all of my supplies in it. Anything I need during the show I have it. And the thing about diabetes is there are good days and there are in between days and there are some bad days and --

O'BRIEN: What's a bad day feel like?

JONAS: A bad day would be when your blood sugar's high. The thing about -- or when it's low. The thing about diabetes, type I, that is that it's unpredictable. You can do your best to sort of manage it as you hope it's going to end up during the day and take the right amount of insulin, eat the right things, and have some physical activity, but one day it could just decide it's going to be more difficult than others.

And yesterday, for instance, it's was one of those days where it was a bit more difficult but I just kept a close eye on it and made sure I was feeling my best for the show and luckily I'm in the best health I've been in since my diagnosis.

O'BRIEN: With all that dancing, I bet you are.

GILES: Has anything happened to you during a performance with the diabetes that you had to combat really fast?

JONAS: Not during the show.


JONAS: Not during "How to Succeed." I've really tried to keep a close eye on it because it is a really physical show, but on tour with my brothers I've been a diabetic now for going on seven years this year and so, you know, over time there have been moments where I felt low or high blood sugar on stage. And it's just --

O'BRIEN: What does that feel like? Are you dizzy?

JONAS: It's a horrible feeling. High blood sugar, you feel really thirsty, you have to use the restroom. Your attitude can be a bit shaken just because your body's out of sync. And when you're low you feel like you might pass out and feel a bit sick. And so both are a horrible feeling and it's just about dealing with it -- dealing with it in the moments.

DON PEEBLES, CHAIRMAN/CEO, THE PEEBLES CORP: Well, you know my -- my top assistant in Florida, her daughter was diagnosed as type I diabetes a little over a year ago at two years old or so.


DON PEEBLES, CHAIRMAN/CEO, THE PEEBLES CORP: So she's adjusting to that. And the nice thing is with the proper medical treatment and care she's basically living a very normal and productive 3-year-old life.

O'BRIEN: Is that why you're so vocal about it?

JONAS: I think so. I think, the thing that was different about my journey with diabetes, I was at an age where I had an understanding about it. I can't imagine the young people that are diagnosed 2, 3, 4 years old where they're still getting a grip on life and to have to deal with this on top of it.

And maybe it would make things easier if it's something you've dealt with from the time you can remember. But with me, I was at a place where I was kind of you know aware of how to take care of it and it was a bit overwhelming because it was a complete life adjustment. But I was able to deal with it and I've got great tools and a great doctor. And that's what I focus on.

O'BRIEN: So Jordana from Italy says this.


O'BRIEN: "Hi, I'm Jordana. Can you ask Nick to say hi to me and just let him know I'm so proud of him please." Can we show the crazy fans?

JONAS: That's very sweet. Hello, Jordana.

O'BRIEN: All right, Jordana you owe me so big.

JONAS: Hello Jordana, how are you?

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: One of the millions you just pleased --

DON PEEBLES, CHAIRMAN/CEO, THE PEEBLES CORP: I can tell you, I see Nick every morning. My 9-year-old daughter has a picture of Nick and his brothers and her when he performed at the inauguration of President Obama a couple of years ago and so every morning so she asks me to make sure I told you hello.

O'BRIEN: Well, Jordana, you owe me big from Italy. Oh it's nice to have you, Nick. Thanks for being with us this morning we appreciate it.

JONAS: Thanks so much for having me.

O'BRIEN: Your fans have been tweeting all morning. So we love that. Nice to have you.

JONAS: Wow, hello to all of them.

O'BRIEN: We've got to take a short break.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT: We celebrate a truly American passion. Jazz because it's Black History Month. And I'm on the board of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra and it's my show so I'm going to talk about it.

That's straight ahead I'll tell you all about it on STARTING POINT.


O'BRIEN: If it's Wednesday in February we must be celebrating Black History Month. Today's "Reveal" focuses on a truly American art form, jazz. Jazz 101 for folks because I sit on the board of New Orleans Jazz Orchestra and I am talking moderators privilege to educate you all. Jazz is believed to have its roots in the late 1880's when African-Americans began to developed new forms of music, blues from gospel and sad songs from their years in slavery; of course rag time also had a very big influence.

African-American and Creole musicians in New Orleans most likely developed the very first true jazz in the 1900. Musicians like Sally Roe Morten (ph), Sidney Boucher and King Oliver helped spread jazz. In the 1920s Louis Armstrong, of course, became famous for his jazz performances. Other big names to know Dave Brubeck, Charlie Parker, Felonious Monk (ph), John Coltrain, Chick Korea (ph), Herbie Hancock.

Today if you're a jazz fan or if you want to be one you should start with Winton Marcelis.

GILES: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Who now performs in this very building which is connected to jazz at Lincoln Center he is from a jazz royalty family including his father is Ellis and his brothers Branford and Jason.

Davis's bassist. Saw him last night for Valentine's Day dinner. He's about to start his European tour.

Sonny Rollins, the sax player. Do you know in 2011 he was awarded both the Kennedy Center honors and also the National Medal of Art. I think he's 84 years old.

Last but not least Irvin Mayfield Jr., who leads the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra which is helping bring back the city of New Orleans. So little Jazz 101.

GILES: Sonny Rollins played a sound track on one of my favorite movies "Alfie", years ago. He's fantastic.

O'BRIEN: Yes. Yes. All those names, Google that. Buy those albums.

All right, "End Point" up next with our panelists. Stay with us. We're back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: "End Point" -- Will Cain, are you going to start for us?

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'm going to start. It's an amazing poll you have today that 73 percent of Americans don't feel we have an obligation to do anything in Syria. It raises some big questions. Is the United States going to be the police? Can we be? Can we afford to be? When and where will we intervene? These are tough, tough questions to answer. We kind of have to know these because these incidents will not stop.

O'BRIEN: These poll numbers really distress me. Don Peebles, what have you got for us "End Point"?

PEEBLES: I'm hopeful that Whitney Houston's death will bring a greater awareness to the suffering that many Americans suffer and battle with various illnesses, especially substance abuse. And hopefully it will bring greater awareness to that between her death and Michael Jackson death. I'm hopeful.

O'BRIEN: I agree with that.

Nancy, you get to wrap it all up for us. No pressure there.

GILES: You know, I can't tell if I love Jeremy Lin because he's such a fantastic ball player or because he reminds of my freshman year crush at Overland, David Bassett (ph). If you're out there watching -- it was you David. It was always you. He's a doll.

O'BRIEN: That is it. I love it. We're going to head over now to "CNN NEWSROOM." Fredricka Whitfield is in this morning.

We wrap it up here. I'll see everybody back here at 7:00 tomorrow morning for STARTING POINT.

Hey Fred, good morning to you.


All right, look forward to that. Thanks so much, have a great day.