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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN
Al Qaeda Unmasked; Interview with Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana; "Apprentice" Attitude; Junior Seau Found Dead; Interview with Former NFL Player Tiki Barber; President Obama's Old Flames; YouTube Launches New Shows
Aired May 3, 2012 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome, everybody.
Our STARTING POINT this morning: Inside bin Laden's head. In one hour, the terror leaders personal files will go online for all of the public to see -- audio files, video files and handwritten notes, including his plans to brand al Qaeda -- change the brand and go bigger and blowing planes.
Also, NFL great Junior Seau gone too soon in an apparent suicide. His mother overcome with grief.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LUISA MAUGA SEAU, MOTHER: He never said something for me. Junior!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: The question today is: whether the game that he loved led to his death. We're going to be joined by former Giants player Tiki Barber.
And a super model Dayana Mendoza fired off of "Celebrity Apprentice" this week. We'll tell you why she's more fired up though about a fellow contestant that even getting act.
It's Thursday, May 3rd. And STARTING POINT begins right now.
O'BRIEN: Daddy Yankee's "Lumumba." That's off the Dayana's playlist. She's going to be joining us in a few moments.
Have you been watching "Celebrity Apprentice"? It's been a harsh, harsh, harsh, harsh season of "Celebrity Apprentice".
MARC LAMONT HILL, COLOMBIA UNIVERSITY: Yes.
O'BRIEN: And she took a lot of barbs I think probably because she's ridiculously, insanely gorgeous.
WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Would you go on "Celebrity Apprentice" if Donald Trump invites you?
O'BRIEN: In a hot second.
CAIN: Yes, really?
O'BRIEN: Sure. I would win by the way.
ABBY HUNTSMAN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Do you even have to ask?
O'BRIEN: I have four kids and a full-time job, I can run stuff. Let me tell you.
CAIN: You told me.
All right. Let me introduce you to our panel. That would be Will Cain doubting my powers.
Marc Lamont Hill is with us as well. He's a professor at Columbia University, also the host of "Our World with Black Enterprise."
And Abby Huntsman is with us. political commentator, also, the daughter of Jon Huntsman.
Nice to have you back with us.
Al Qaeda is about to be unmasked, really literally. I think it's in about 58 minutes they're going to be posting online all of this information. We'll have an opportunity to see what intelligence officials have been analyzing for the better part of a year. Some of the 6,000 documents that were seized last year from Osama bin Laden's compound.
Now, we're told the information includes digital and audio and video files, and includes printed materials. There's information that was gleaned off recording devices. Information that's taking off of handwritten documents.
Nic Robertson is live in London for us this morning. He's got more details.
Nic, what else can we expect?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well,: we can expect insight into the state of al Qaeda and the state of bin Laden's mind. You get a picture that emerges here.
We certainly are aware of some of the details here from CNN's national security analyst Peter Bergen who's seen some of the documents. And he says bin Laden comes across in some cases as a micromanager, also afraid for his organization under drone attack in the training camps in western Pakistan, someone as well who is concerned about al Qaeda's image, sending messages to al Qaeda in Somalia saying don't al Qaeda right now, don't announce you're joining them by name because that will make it harder for you. You'll get more enemies, finding it harder to raise fund.
So, this is a man concerned about the organization that he built, Soledad.
O'BRIEN: It's really stunning stuff. I cannot wait to see it. So, I'm sure the rest of the public as well, Nic. Thank you, Nic, for that update.
We should remind everybody, also, this Saturday, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, "CNN PRESENTS: In the Footsteps of Bin Laden," hosted by Christiane Amanpour.
First, though, I want to get Christine Romans. She's got a look at some of the other stories making news today.
Hey, Christine. Good morning.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad.
A cry for help from Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng. He's now pleading with President Obama to get him out of China. Chen says that a deal between the United States and China will not protect him or his family and that he feels abandoned by America after spending six days hiding in the U.S. embassy in Beijing.
Chen says that his phone is being monitored. His wife is being threatened by Chinese authorities. He spoke to CNN's Stan Grant from his hospital room yesterday.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CHEN GUANGCHENG, ACTIVIST (through translator): I would like to say to him, please do everything you can to get our whole family out.
I'm very disappointed with the U.S. government. The embassy kept lobbying me to leave, he says, and promised to be with me at the hospital. But this afternoon, soon after we got here, they were all gone.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ROMANS: The U.S. ambassador to China Gary Locke tells CNN, "At all points, we were intent on carrying out his wishes and ensure we could put together something that met his needs. He made it clear from the beginning he wanted to stay in China. We asked if he wanted to go to the United States. He said no."
Questions this morning about whether the game is to blame for death of a future NFL Hall of Famer this morning. Former NFL linebacker Junior Seau was found dead yesterday in his home from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. He was only 43 years old, leaves behind four kids. His grieving mother overwhelmed at a news conference yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LUISA MAUGA SEAU: He never said something for me. Junior! Why you never telling me? I pray to God. Take me, take me, leave my son alone.
Thank you. Thank you so much for everybody. God bless you guys.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: It is still not clear whether any possible brain trauma played a role. This may have been the second time Seau tried to kill himself. Back in 2010, he drove his car off a cliff and survived. There was suspicions back then, but police later concluded it was an accident caused by a lack of sleep.
A college student from San Diego is suing the Drug Enforcement Agency for $20 million after being left handcuffed without food or water for almost five days in a cell. Twenty-three-year-old Daniel Chong was one of nine people detained last month after DEA agents raided a suspected drug house. He was never charged with a crime and his attorney says he nearly died.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GENE IREDALE, CHONG'S ATTORNEY: He screamed hundreds of times for help. He began to dig into the walls, thinking he could get water that way.
DANIEL CHONG, LEFT HANDCUFFED IN CELL WITHOUT FOOD OR WATER: I had to do what I had to do to survive. (INAUDIBLE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: The San Diego DEA's office apologized to Chong and ordered an investigation.
Here's your chance to go to Harvard or MIT for free, sort of. Beginning this fall, the facilities and faculties of both schools there will be a variety of courses online. It's the start of a $60 million partnership between the two schools to offer education to millions around the world through the Internet. Certificates will be given to students who pass the online courses. The purpose of the initiative is to research how students learn and which teaching methods and tools are the most successful.
There you go.
O'BRIEN: I love this idea for two reasons. One, I already look at the classes that I didn't take at Harvard. I take them online. I watch classes. You can watch them on iTunes.
ROMANS: In your spare time, Soledad?
O'BRIEN: On the treadmill. Yes, absolutely. You can get a lot of work done.
And also, imagine what could happen for kids who are in poor neighborhoods and what kind of teaching tools you could bring to people who couldn't otherwise afford it. You really could level the playing field when it comes to education.
It has tremendous potential. I'm excited about it. I love that.
Christine, thank you for that.
Let's get to the polls this morning, politically, showing a tight race in some battleground states. Quinnipiac University shows Mitt Romney with a one-point lead in the battleground state of Florida. President Obama with a two-point lead in the battleground state of Ohio. Both of those of course within the margin of error of those polls.
And then if you look at the battleground state of Pennsylvania, the president has a more commanding lead of eight points.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is with us this morning to talk about this and much more.
Nice to see you, sir. Thanks for being with us. Appreciate it.
What do you make of those polls? We know that's three of what we consider there at CNN 11 battleground states look like.
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: Good morning. It's great to be with you.
O'BRIEN: Thank you.
JINDAL: Look, I think this is going to be a very important race, a very tight race. I think this election is not going to be about who speaks better, who looks better on TV. This is about two different visions for America.
Under President Obama you now have seen the government spending 24 percent of our GDP, record high unemployment. Four years in a row of trillion dollar plus deficits, $15 trillion of accumulated debt. He obviously can't run on his record. He's been running a very negative attack type campaign, trying to go after Mitt Romney.
In contrast, Mitt Romney is offering not only his experience running a state, running a business, also offering a different vision for the role of the federal government, also presenting detailed plans about getting our economy growing again with a lower, flatter tax code.
So, I think this is going to be a very important election where voters won't be going to the polls deciding who looked best on TV or who is more charismatic. It really is two very contrasting views of the future, not only of our country, but role of the federal government in growing the economy and securing important entitlement programs.
O'BRIEN: Before we talk about the economy, I just want to mention to everybody, you supported the challenger, Rick Perry, and then eventually in April, gave your support to Governor Romney. So you are obviously a Romney supporter.
When you look at the economy, we've had this conversation and I can bring the panel in on this as well, a couple of time, as the economy does better, doesn't that undercut the strategy for Mitt Romney if that's going to be his strategy as you've outlined it moving forward?
JINDAL: Well, two things. Certainly, we all want the economy to grow again. We all want people to go back to work. We want people to afford their mortgages, their homes.
The reality is this is a tepid recovery. It's very slow compared to previous recoveries. The president simply can't ask Americans to answer the question, are you they better off than four years ago?
He can't run on his record. The reality he promises he'd have a plan to reduce the deficit in half by end of the first four years to balance the budgets. He hasn't done that.
He promised us the economy would be growing again or he should be a first term president. Hasn't put people back to work.
You remember the claims unemployment would be below 8 percent if we pass the stimulus bill. That hasn't happened. Promised a plan to reform the entitlement programs -- he hasn't presented that yet. He promised to change climate in Washington, D.C., to unify the parties. That hasn't happened yet.
O'BRIEN: And yet, in those battleground states, I just showed you, you know, neck and neck and in one Pennsylvania, he's ahead significantly at those very numbers might undermine your point.
Let me ask you a question, sir. David Frum has a new column out and if you get the Google alerts about your name, as I get about mine, you would know he's pitching you to be vice president.
Here's what he wrote. "Bobby Jindal is a brilliant policy mind with an inspirational life story who's run an effective government in corruption tainted Louisiana. He can talk data with Romney and credibly sit at the kitchen table of the struggling middle class. Which lead to this though, Bobby Jindal for vice president."
Yes or no?
JINDAL: Look, I've got the job that I want. We've just passed the most comprehensive education reform in Louisiana's history. Now, we're in middle of a legislative session, focused on pension reforms so we're not mortgaging our children's future.
So, I've got the job that I want. But I'm definitely going to be supporting Mitt Romney and whoever he selects as his running mate. I think this is a very important election for America.
The other point I make about the economy, again, this is not only an election about current state of the economy. It's also about do we want the federal government running a sixth of our health care, do we the federal government running car companies, bailing out banks, really it is about the proper role for the federal government.
So, I think it is also going to be an election not only about the latest GDP statistics or unemployment statistics. It's also an election about what's the proper role of the federal government.
O'BRIEN: So, let me get back to the first part of that. Sounds like a no.
If he called you up and asked you, that would be a no?
JINDAL: Look, I've got the job that I want. I know pundits will be speculating on who he's going to pick. At the end of the day, I think he's going to pick the person. He's going to do the best job as president and make that decision not based on political or other grounds, and whoever he picks I'm going to support that ticket, because I think it's that important not only for Louisiana but our country.
O'BRIEN: Even if it's you who he is picking.
Let's move on. I want to ask you about this New Jersey, this National Children's Summit being held in New Jersey. I know you'll come in later to speak.
What's your message at this summit?
JINDAL: This is the most important issue I've tackled and I think one of the most important issues that faces us as a country, which is K through 12 education reform, pre-K through 12 education reform.
The reality is, here in America, we believe that every child should have the opportunity to pursue their dreams. That your last name, your gender, your race, your income, your zip code shouldn't determine your life outcomes.
The key to that is giving every child a great education. I was born and raised here, went to public schools. Have had a great opportunity to pursue my dreams.
We don't want this generation to be the first generation that has fewer opportunities than their parents. Yet here's a startling statistic: for our 55 year olds, we rank number one in the world for educational achievement. For our 20 year olds, we're now in the middle of the pack. We're like 16th compared to other industrialized countries when it comes to educational achievement.
That's why in Louisiana, we've done many things. Two of the most important things we've done is number one, to make sure that we've got a great teacher in every classroom. We reformed our tenure laws. We reform our compensation laws. So, we're not just paying based on seniority but rewarding teachers for being effective in the classroom.
Secondly, I'll also be talking today in New Jersey about the importance of allowing the dollars to follow the child, so that children aren't trapped in failing schools. The reality is that in America, we have doubled -- even adjusting for inflation, double what we spent on education since the 1970s and yet we have not seen real gains especially compared to other countries.
If we want to continue to be the number one world leader when it comes to our economy, national security, if we want to be aspirational society, we have to fix this. In Louisiana, we're allowing the dollars to follow students -- so whether they go to parochial school, private school, independent school, public school, charter school, online courses, technical courses, they have the resources to get the best education that meets their needs.
O'BRIEN: Bobby Jindal is the governor of the state of Louisiana -- nice to see you, sir. Thank you for talking with us.
JINDAL: Great to be back with you. I look forward to doing it again. Thanks, Soledad.
O'BRIEN: Appreciate that, sir.
Still ahead on STARTING POINT: the space shuttle Challenger disaster. This is how we remember it all.
Now there's amateur video that surfaced from that day. We're going to show you the new tapes and hear from a woman who found those tapes many years later.
And beauty queen Dayana Mendoza was fired off "Celebrity Apprentice" this week. But she's more angry with that woman there, yes, a fellow contestant. And what she said. Dayana is going to join us, next.
Her playlist, "Glad You Came," The Wanted.
You're watching STARTING POINT: There you go.
CAIN: Oh, yes.
O'BRIEN: She's gorgeous when she dances.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAYANA MENDOZA, FORMER CONTESTANT, "THE CELEBRITY APPRENTICE": When you're not in stage, Lisa, when you're working on business, you should have also the same respect for people that are trying to work with you.
LISA LAMPANELLI, COMEDIAN: Here's the deal. Why don't you write up a memo, and I'll try to become a huge failure by listening to how you work?
MENDOZA: I'm never insulting you.
LAMPANELLI: Because I would never come up with a joke again. MENDOZA: This is what I'm talking about.
DONALD TRUMP, HOST, "CELEBRITY APPRENTICE": You're a fabulous woman. You're a beautiful woman. You have an amazing career. Dayana, you're fired.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: That would be the Venezuelan supermodel and former Miss Universe, Dayana Mendoza. She's the latest to get fired off of "Celebrity Apprentice" that happened this week, but she might be more angry about a comment that was made by the fellow contestant. You saw her buttheads with on the show, Lisa Lampanelli.
They were always, always going at it or really Lisa was kind of attacking her. But Lisa used a racial slur to describe Mendoza on Sirius radio back in March. Here's what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAMPANELLI: I actually would love to see her giving birth. She's a (EXPLETIVE DELETED). She's going to (EXPLETIVE DELETED) do pretty soon any way. She'll be knocked up before the end of the week.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Nice. Nice. What a lovely co-worker to have with you. Dayana Mendoza joins us from Los Angeles. Nice to see you. Thanks for talking with us. We bleeped out the slur, but what did you think --
MENDOZA: Good morning. Thank you for having me.
O'BRIEN: It's my pleasure. What did you think when you first heard it, Dayana? You were still working together, obviously, as co- workers on the show and then also on projects as well. When you heard what she had called you which is a word I'm not going to repeat, what did you think?
MENDOZA: Well, the show already filmed before. So, that was -- when I heard it, that was totally new for me. And, actually, I had to go to the work because I had no idea what it meant, and when I understood the meaning of it, I was surprised. I had no idea that at this time of age, especially in the United States, we are having so much diversity of cultures.
This word was still used. And, it's a language of ignorance, language that people have been used for years to put people down and is unacceptable.
O'BRIEN: It's a language word used to put Latinos down, specifically. She also then went on to comment about -- I, guess, it sounded to me like Latinos in the high birth rate, because she was saying, you know, you'll be pregnant by the end of the week. You'd be knocked up by the end of the week which was also, I though, fairly inappropriate. What was your relationship like on the show? We saw clips where you're just, you know, butting heads. She was often attacking you. What was that like?
MENDOZA: Listen, I understand that she's a comedian, and she needs to, you know, be funny and make jokes and that's the way she does it. During the show, she was definitely not making jokes. She was extremely just mean toward me. So, when she comes out and she said things like this, she's not trying to be more than mean in just continuing her abuse.
So, you know, it's sad. It's disappointing. She's a grown-up woman. She has a career. And, she chooses to show herself the way that she's being, you know, portrayed on the show. You choose to be who you want to be, and you know, it's a shame.
O'BRIEN: She said when she's been asked, listen, the issue is not that you're gorgeous, which you are. She said her issue was that you weren't smart. That was her big thing. She's not smart. You can even see that back and forth, sort of like, you know, write up a memo so that I can, you know, not do what you say or whatever. Why do you think she really disliked you so intensely?
MENDOZA: You know, I think we will never know. I would like for her to have a concise idea of why it is that she's so against everything I was doing or thinking or suggesting. It was just hard to work with people that didn't want to work with you. And, in general, if she has any personal issues or not, that will be her problem.
I was just there to do my best. And, I'm happy that I did. I went to the show, and I ended up doing what I went to do.
O'BRIEN: You raised $30,000.
MENDOZA: I helped other -- yes, yes. And I helped other charities as well from my team players I worked as well. And, that said, that was what I was there for.
O'BRIEN: So, you don't regret it at all? Because it seems so unpleasant at times. Do you regret going on the show at all?
MENDOZA: No. No. No. Not at all. Not at all. I think it was a great opportunity for the Latino Commission on AIDS. We raise awareness. They are more well known now in the country and all over the world the show has shown, and especially now that Latinos are breaking in mainstream. I think the representation that we're having there is great.
O'BRIEN: Dayana Mendoza, nice to see you. Thanks for talking with us this morning. Congratulations on the money you were able to raise for your charity and for helping others, as well. And sorry that you had to deal with -- that seemed very stressful all the time. Thank you. Appreciate it.
MENDOZA: Thank you. O'BRIEN: You know, and I think that she really handled it well. If you were watching the show, every single time that Lisa would come after her, she'd sort of feel like, well, you know, I just feel that people should really --
CAIN: You know, ongoing debate among people is how real is reality television. Well, I'll tell you this, her feelings about Lisa Lampanelli, and Lisa Lampanelli's feelings about her seemed pretty real. I don't know what that says about the show.
O'BRIEN: That was very, very real.
HILL: -- Lisa Lampanelli
O'BRIEN: And sort of hostile. You know, she always took the high road which I thought was very nice all the time. And she's gorgeous.
O'BRIEN: That's a winning formula.
LIVINGSTON: And you know, that's probably intimidating for a lot of people on the show. So, of course, they're going to say mean things.
O'BRIEN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, new view of the "Challenger" disaster. We're going to show you some amateur videotape that's just been discovered.
And a look inside the diary. This is sort of everybody's nightmare. Your ex-girlfriend says I'd love to share my diary entries from when we were dating to the press. And this happens to be President Obama's former girlfriend.
LIVINGSTON: I can't wait to read this.
O'BRIEN: Oh, yes. This is Abby's playlist. Maroon 5, "Wont Go Home Without You." You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.
O'BRIEN: On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle "Challenger" disaster devastated the nation. Just 73 seconds after it launched, it exploded. And now, 26 years later, "Huffington Post" obtained new exclusive amateur video of that historic day. What we're about to show you could be tough for some viewers to watch because it shows very clearly the destruction. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one, and liftoff.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go, Chris! Go! Beautiful, oh, beautiful, Chris. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, no! Oh, no! Something went wrong. They're coming back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: My gosh. You know it's terrible to hear that not just to see those pictures, but of course, when you can hear sort of everyone around realizing that something has gone horribly awry, and they can't quite want figure it out.
The woman heard in the video saying they're coming back was a school nurse who had attended every launch and felt a very special bond with teacher Christa McAuliffe, who was on board that day, and of course, they didn't come back. All seven astronauts on board the "Challenger" died that day. Crazy. Listening to that audio is really horrific.
Still ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, the apparent suicide of a future NFL hall of famer comes at a time when players are taking the league to court over vicious hits and concussions and what the league is doing about it. We're going to talk to former giants star, Tiki Barber, who also knew Junior Seau.
And Obama, the bachelor. Some juicy details about the president's life before the first lady straight from the diary of his ex-girlfriend.
Will Cain's playlist. Bob Schneider, "Big Blue Sea." Does he have a banjo?
O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. This just into CNN, a look at the jobless numbers is going to be coming into you in just a moment. First, we want to get to Christine Romans with an update on some of the stories making headlines this morning. Hey, Christine.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Soledad. We know the jobless claims dropped about 27,000. We'll see how the market reacts to that, the 27,000 fewer jobless claims this week than the week before. We'll watch that for you in the markets.
Other headlines this morning, emotions running very high at the John Edwards trial, the former senator's daughter abruptly leaving the courtroom in tears yesterday. She became upset when a former research director for Edwards' campaign testified about a fight that the candidate had with his wife, Elizabeth, an ugly fight that took place in 2007 at a North Carolina airport. Elizabeth Edwards was battling breast cancer at the time. A tabloid had just reported that her husband, John Edwards, was having an extra marital affair with Rielle Hunter. Now we have the jobless numbers tell you about, 365,000 unemployment claims filed for the first time last week, 27,000 less as we said than economists had been expecting the previous week's number was revised up slightly to 391,000 claims filed. We'll see this number coming in below 400,000 showing a labor market that's improving. The big jobs report of course comes tomorrow.
She says she loves to tan. You think? She says she didn't burn her daughter though. The mother accused of causing burns to her young daughter by taking her into a tanning booth pleaded not guilty to a child endangerment charge. Patricia Krentcil claims this whole story is a lie and that her five-year-old daughter got sunburned outside on a very warm day. Krentcil admits she took the girl to the tanning salon but she waited outside of the booth. She compared it to taking your daughter along on errands like going to the grocery store. She could face a decade in prison.
Check this out, an Iraq war veteran throwing an NFL caliber tackle in a Wal-Mart parking lot. The man named Sean Cox totally leveled a woman who stole a lady's purse and took off. But the suspect had a knife. She stabbed him in the neck as they scuffled on the ground. She got away. The next day the victim showed up at the hero's door to say thanks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really, really appreciate you helping me. Not many people would do that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I served a tour in Iraq. I guess that made things right in my head to help people like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Police say the thief took off in a dodge pickup and is still at large.
O'BRIEN: Wow. Wow. Good for him. All right, Christine, thank you.
ROMANS: You're welcome.
O'BRIEN: The Death of NFL legend Junior Seau is raising new questions about long-term brain injury in the sport. The 43-year-old was found dead with a gunshot wound to the chest yesterday. Investigators believe it was suicide. Seau's ex-wife told a local paper that he had texted her and each of their children separate messages of "I love you." When Seau's mother spoke, she was at a loss to explain just why her son would take his own life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Junior, why you never tell me you're going? Take me. Take me. Leave my son alone.
(END VIDEO CLIP) O'BRIEN: The former Giants superstar Tiki Barber is with us this morning. Nice to have you.
TIKI BARBER, FORMER NFL PLAYER: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
O'BRIEN: Are you shocked by this?
BARBER: You're shocked because of the sudden nature of the death but you're not shocked that you see these things happen. There's a lot of factors that contribute to depression. One is stress, money stress, family stress. And we're still trying to understand this chronic traumatic injury that Dr. Sanjay Gupta has done a great job of exploring but problem is you don't know if you have that. You can't determine that unless you have passed away and do a biopsy of your brain. You're surprised but you're not surprised because there are so many factors that lead toward athletes falling into deep, deep depressions and not having a way to get out of it.
O'BRIEN: Let's talk about some of those factors. As you point out they are family issues as well. When you left the game, were you wildly depressed?
BARBER: No, I wasn't. I was propped up. I went and worked right away over at NBC doing sports and news, and things felt fine. Three years later I'm going through a divorce, I'm no longer working at NBC, I'm sitting on my couch really trying to figure out what my life is going to be, and I started to feel like I was depressed. Very fortunately I had great friends who lifted me up and got me back into the workforce and doing things and finding meaning for myself. But a lot of guys don't have that.
And the other factors that I talked about are widely documented. So 78 percent of former football players after three or four years are broke, filing for bankruptcy. They go through divorces. They don't have a steady job. They are so far behind that professional learning curve because their peers came out of college and walked up the corporate ladder. They played sports. And once they're done, they're not celebrities anymore. The relevancy period falls away.
HILL: Does the league have a mechanism for providing mental health service during your career or after your career?
BARBER: They do but think about this. That is an indication that you're weak, right? And we saw this with Ricky Williams. Remember when Ricky Williams went through his deep depression with social anxiety disorder, no one wanted to hear that. No one wanted to hear I'm having mental problems. Get back up and go out there. Be tough.
O'BRIEN: Your agents are, like, hello, this is not a way to move you into some great and leverage your brand.
BARBER: There is a thing that we are emotionally strong powerful beings when in fact we are just human beings. We have the same problems emotionally and physically, personally that everyone else in the world does. They get masked because we perform on a stage and do it well. Behind the scenes you go home and lay down at bed in night is when those problems surface. And if no one is there to catch them, bad things happen.
LIVINGSTON: Does there needs to be a change in the actual game?
O'BRIEN: You're talking about the traumatic injuries.
LIVINGSTON: Athletes suffer from concussions every year. In hockey league they have made changes over the years.
BARBER: You are starting to see Roger Goodell really come down hard. The reason these four saints players got suspensions, all of these penalties are because safety is becoming the number one issue. It will be Roger Goodell's selling point for his legacy as he goes on. They are taking steps to cure the violent impact on athletes.
However, this is deeper than just violence, the damage that's caused by that violence. These are emotional issues like I said before that are masked. The percentages of people in this country who have depression are high. I'm not talking about depression like I feel sad today but a clinical depression that's masked because you're an athlete and you have to have that bravado, otherwise you're not successful.
LIVINGSTON: Did you have a lot of concussions?
BARBER: I had two or three in my playing career. You really don't know. The science isn't exact. Some people may have a greater resistance to concussion effects than others. But there's a worry that falls into your head as a former athlete and one that played a violent sport. Will I go crazy in ten years?
O'BRIEN: You know a lot about CTE more than most people?
BARBER: I spoke down when they had congressional hearings a couple years ago and one of the things I wanted to talk about was effect that we as professional athletes have on kids, because everything that we do trickles down to the colleges and high schools. If we get a concussion and get nailed and you can see it on television when someone has it on a concussion. We get up and go back on the field. A kid does that same thing.
BARBER: Kids are more susceptible to these things. Next aren't as strong. They can't handle the reverberation which causes your brain to hit the skull. Kids feel they have to be tough because favorite athlete was tough. But the long-term effect can be dangerous and we need to talk about it. These types of stories, as tragic as they are, are learning examples for everyone in the sport professionally and lower because you have to pay attention to these. You have to show your sensitive side at times and not be afraid to say that you have a problem emotionally or physically.
O'BRIEN: We're completely out of time. I have to ask you this quick question. We talked earlier with Jamal Anderson about this lawsuit that 114 people have signed onto this lawsuit. Is that something you would do?
BARBER: I don't know if I would. There are reasons NFL players are doing that. For a long time the NFL ignored the fact that concussions were part of the game and were a result of the game. And guys are hurting and they need a way to get their word out there and obviously take care of themselves.
O'BRIEN: Tiki Barber, always nice to have you.
BARBER: Thank you. Good to see you guys.
O'BRIEN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT, a lot of you remember her from "Sideways." Now actress Virginia Madsen has a new series on YouTube made specifically for women. And it's good.
Also, Obama's ex-girlfriends speak, and they're dishing. It's not really dirt. It's more like 20-year-old angst.
O'BRIEN: We'll share the pros of 20 year olds in love straight ahead.
O'BRIEN: I've got some juicy new details about President Obama's love life before he met his wife, Michelle. "Vanity Fair" publishing an excerpt from a new biography on the President, the author, David Moranis tracked down -- this is everybody's nightmare isn't it -- tracked down two of the President's former girlfriends from back in the 1980s.
Here's a passage from the diary of Genevieve Cook who lived with Obama here in New York.
She writes this, "The sexual warmth is definitely there but the rest of it has sharp edges. And I'm finding it all unsettling and finding myself want to -- wanting to withdraw from it. I have to admit that I'm feeling anger at him for some reason, multi-stranded reasons." Oh the over writing, "His warmth can be deceptive though he speaks sweet words and can be open and trusting there is also that coolness. And I begin to have an inkling of some things about him that could get to me".
O'BRIEN: The angst of love, of 20-year-olds.
LIVINGSTON: I'm sure Michelle is loving that.
O'BRIEN: I'm sure she's like -- wow that girl is a bad writer.
HILL: That's right, but this is the best part, this is nothing for the First Lady to be worried about. You know your biggest fear is that some letter or some old girlfriend will come out with letters detailing some sordid details. He just wrote about his existential angst that he like --
O'BRIEN: Oh and wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote.
HILL: Right at 22.
O'BRIEN: Yes, yes and you can imagine --
LIVINGSTON: And he comes out clean after these. And I think he's -- I think he's good.
CAIN: I think he comes out clean and actually reinforces a lot of the perception we have of him that that he's cool as you just removed, as you just read from his ex-girlfriend but also a guy who is seeking to find his identity that he lived between so many worlds between black and white between Kansas and Kenya which he never lived in either but where his families have come from seeking to find his identity. Who am I, I think that's really interesting.
O'BRIEN: They write back and forth about who they are reading and poets.
HILL: Can't you guys just make out already? You're 22. God.
O'BRIEN: Ok, here's another quote from Genevieve -- Genevieve Cook's her -- from her diaries. "I can't help thinking that what he would really want, be powerfully drawn to was a woman very strong, very upright, a fighter, a laugher, well experienced. A black woman I keep seeing her as."
O'BRIEN: You know what's interesting is that it's a really good description of Michelle Obama.
HILL: That's exactly right. That's why Michelle should be so happy about this.
HILL: I mean this is a perfect pathway to Michelle Obama. That he wasn't -- she wasn't the right one. He needed Michelle and he got his own Michelle.
CAIN: If somebody says hey we got some letters from you between you and your old ex-girlfriends, this is about as good as it gets. I mean, you get nervous.
O'BRIEN: Oh you.
LIVINGSTON: I have a feeling yours would not be this good.
CAIN: You don't know.
O'BRIEN: I definitely was not writing over -- over --, over written poetry stuff.
HILL: I wasn't writing at all.
O'BRIEN: And now it would just be e-mails right and texts.
LIVINGSTON: Right exactly.
HILL: Yes now that's scary stuff.
CAIN: That is scary stuff.
O'BRIEN: Right using numbers instead of letters.
HILL: Right, right exactly.
O'BRIEN: People have to decipher it for days.
O'BRIEN: I thought that's cute.
All right, still ahead on STARTING POINT, we're going to be chatting with the actress Virginia Madsen. She's going to tell us why she's putting her star power behind a new YouTube channel and she's doing it with lots of other A-Listers. It's all going online. You're watching STARTING POINT.
Hey nice to have you, great to see you again. Come and join us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VIRGINIA MADSEN, ACTRESS: I think I -- I originally got into wine through my ex-husband. You know we had this big -- first show- off cellar you know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
MADSEN: But then I discovered that I had a really sharp palate and the more I drank, the more I liked what it made me think about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like what?
MADSEN: Like what a fraud he was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Hence the marriage ended. That's Virginia Madsen in her Oscar nominated role for the movie "Sideways."
MADSEN: It was nice to see that again.
O'BRIEN: It's great and you look exactly the same. MADSEN: Thank you.
O'BRIEN: Her new project is an online project. It's called the -- it's in a Web series it's called "Jan". And it's the first to debut on YouTube's new "Wigs" channel. Watch a little bit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADSEN: I'm not nice. It's not that I don't want to be nice. I've tried it a few times. But it doesn't work. And you know why? Because I'm not nice - I am effective.
And as a matter of fact, whenever I've tried to be nice, I end up being less effective. And the select few who like me, like me because I get things done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Yes people like me because I get things done, Will Cain. Nice to have Virginia Madsen --
O'BRIEN: Can you imagine -- I love "Jan", I love "Jan" that's such a great character.
MADSEN: Yes I love playing that character. My character of Mel who is a -- you know real powerhouse photographer and super talent and you know just no bull. Just efficient.
O'BRIEN: You're the boss.
MADSEN: Effective. Yes I'm the boss.
O'BRIEN: And it's a series and you can find it on YouTube.
MADSEN: And you can watch it you know as an entire film. You can watch it in pieces. And we've made a whole bunch of these with the most extraordinary talent. I mean, we've got Jennifer Beals, Julia Stiles, Dakota Fanning, Alison Jenny I mean and a lot of great men too. But all of the stories are about women.
O'BRIEN: Yes so tell me why. I mean, clearly you hear over the years --
MADSEN: Women are more interesting.
O'BRIEN: I know that. Come on; tell me something I don't know, Virginia. Is it something about the roles sort of not having as many great roles? Because you know --
MADSEN: Well, you know, that's certainly part of it. I mean you go where the work is. And but -- this is -- it's more than that. I mean this is sort of a new me and that none of us are really sure kind of what to do with it.
O'BRIEN: Kind of a new platform. It's a subscription service.
MADSEN: Yes. It's really fresh and you can subscribe to the YouTube channel and to the Google channel and then you'll see all of this. You can do sort of -- you can program your own TV essentially.
CAIN: There's no doubt you're at the front end -- this is the future. This is how content will be distributed.
CAIN: Was this a hard decision for you? Look, you're big-time, Virginia. You're a movie star. I heard that movie stars don't go to the small screen. This is small screen. Was this a hard decision?
MADSEN: No. I was -- I think I might have even been the first one to sign up. My managers were describing this thing that John (inaudible) was doing and, yes, before they even finished describing it I was like "Yes, I am in."
O'BRIEN: What opportunities does it give you that's different than --
MADSEN: Creative freedom, number one. It was like it's a really high quality of film making so we get great directors and producers, writers and everyone behind the camera is playing just as much as we are. We had total creative freedom.
So all day long it was just about the story. It was just about story-telling and nobody had big trailers. We all had dressing rooms in the studio. And so there was a level playing ground. I loved that. Nobody had egos about anything. And it was just like come to work and play and make up characters.
HUNTSMAN: It sounds very low key and exactly what people I think love about reality today it's because it's just kind of natural and just fun environment and it allows you to be a lot more creative probably than you would be able to on just a normal TV show.
MADSEN: But, you know, I have to say, we know that reality TV isn't reality.
HUNTSMAN: Right. Scripted.
MADSEN: This is, you know, scripted TV. It's story-telling revived.
O'BRIEN: How many different stories are in your -- because you're launching the series with Jan.
MADSEN: Well, there's like eight or nine different ones. Jan is just one. There is Dakota Fanning. That one is really amazing. That's so surprising because she's so grown up and so lovely. And so it's just a real forum for women.
O'BRIEN: It really is the future. I agree with you on that. It's going to change everything.
MADSEN: Great stories about our complex personalities and situations that we're in. And we explore them fearlessly.
CAIN: Real quick, "Sideways", "A Prairie Home Companion", several movies (ph). What's your favorite you've been in?
O'BRIEN: Real quick.
MADSEN: It's going to sound like a shameless plug. But besides "Sideways" I have a movie that I made with Morgan Freeman called "The Magic of Belle Isle". It's coming out in July. And I love this movie, you guys.
O'BRIEN: Great, we'd love shameless plugs --
MADSEN: I love this movie.
O'BRIEN: Coming up in July?
O'BRIEN: So then, yes. You've just committed to coming back.
O'BRIEN: In July, we'll have you back to talk about your new movie.
MADSEN: Thank you.
O'BRIEN: It's so great to have you here. Appreciate it.
We're going to do "End Point" with our panel up next. Stay with us.
O'BRIEN: "End Point". Ten seconds a piece. Will Cain, you get to start.
CAIN: I am really interested in these bin Laden documents that are going to come out. We're going to find out what he thought of his fellow al Qaeda members, news organizations, everybody.
O'BRIEN: 30 seconds away from that.
All right. What do you think -- Abby?
HUNTSMAN: You know this China story with Mr. Chen really just makes you so grateful for our freedom of speech and the freedoms that we have in our country.
O'BRIEN: No question about that.
You get the last word Marc.
LAMONT-HILL: For me it comes down to mental health whether it's Junior Seau, whether it's Don Cornelius earlier, or whether it's even Whitney Houston. In every story we heard depression, depression, depression. We need to take more care and think about mental health in this country.
O'BRIEN: We really have to treat depression maybe more effectively.
Thank you guys. Big thank you to our panelists.
Coming up tomorrow on STARTING POINT we're going to be talking to Newark Mayor, Corey Booker will join us. Also Grammy Award winning R & B soul singer jazz icon Anita Baker as well. That's all on STARTING POINT tomorrow.
Let's get right to CNN NEWSROOM. Carol Costello's there for us this morning. Hey Carol.