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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Man Confesses to Killing Etan Patz; Some Newspapers Reducing Circulation; Donald Trump Recommends Himself For Romney's Cabinet; History In The Heavens; Etan Patz Murder Suspect To Appear In Court; "I'll Have Another" Trainer Suspended; Texas Man Gets Maximum 20 Years In Prison; Ban Ki-Moon Is "Vogue's" New Cover Star; Egypt's Brotherhood Claims Lead; Obama and The Middle East; Girl Power At The Indy 500

Aired May 25, 2012 - 07:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Our STARTING POINT, case closed in the Etan Patz kidnapping case, a 51-year-old New Jersey man confessing to killing the 6-year-old boy exactly 33 years ago today, may 25th, 1979. This is the man "Inside Edition" identifies as pay to Pedro Hernandez. He's expected to appear in court today to face charges of second-degree murder. Hernandez was 19 years old the year Etan disappeared working at a corner store blocks from the little boy's home.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAYMOND W. KELLY, NYPD COMMISSIONER: Hernandez described to the detectives how he lured young Etan from the school bus stop at West Broadway and Prince Street, with the promise of a soda. He then led him into the basement of the bodega, choked him there, and disposed of the body by putting it into a plastic bag and placing it into the trash.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: We're going to be joined in just a moment by the Emmy Award winning producer Lisa Cohen, who's 2009 book "After Etan" is considered the definitive work on this case. And it's 33 years to the day, this is a day, May 25th, that is the national missing children's day, it was named this day by President Ronald Reagan, the first day really that a national movement of awareness about missing children began, and it's 33 years ago to the day that this little boy disappeared, presumed killed, and now finally an arrest in this case, a case that honestly, obsessed the nation. When you think about it, this is a little boy, 6 years old, who walked to school, for the first time allowed to walk to the bus stop. Because of this case, another case, Johnny Gosh in the Midwest, cases like these in the late '70s and early 1980s, really frightened a nation, quite frankly, and those days of letting a little kid walk to a bus stop are over because a whole generation of parents and their children were afraid of stranger abductions.

We get to Alina Cho for the rest of the day's top stories. Good morning, Alina. ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine. Hurricane Bud the first major hurricane of the 2012 season strengthening into a major category three, now threatening Mexico's pacific coast. Here is a look at the storm from space. Bud with maximum sustained winds of 115 miles per hour, and could slam into some very popular tourist spots. We want to get to meteorologist Rob Marciano who is tracking the storm for us. Rob, good morning.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning. We'll start with bud, which was a hurricane of category three strength last night, has weakened just a little bit. This is the strongest hurricane in the eastern pacific this early in the season so we're off to a quick start. Movements to the north-northeast towards Manzillo and Puerto Vallarta. It is weakening somewhat. The original forecast yesterday was for it to weaken and not make it to the coastline.

Now, the forecast is for it to make landfall later on tonight as a category 1 storm. So we're going to see waves and winds with this. We already see heavy rains in the mountainous areas just of the beach, that could create some flash floods and mudslides. The other issue is this closer to home, southeast coastline this has a chance of developing into the second tropical storm of the season that hasn't begun yet. June 1st is the first day of hurricane season. Probably won't get that strong but to affect the shorelines of the southeast coast over the Memorial Day weekend but the area needs the rainfall. So that might not be a bad thing. Either way we're off to a quick start.

CHO: Busy hurricane season or looking like it will be.

A week after the stock's disastrous debut the legal fallout from Facebook's IPO is being sorted out, lawyers, regulators and shareholders are looking into allegations of misuse of privileged information by Morgan Stanley and others in the run-up to the IPO. Facebook stock closed Thursday just above $33 a share, that's $5 below its debut price, one week ago today.

Meanwhile, U.S. stocks finished mixed on Thursday, due to ongoing concerns over Europe's debt crisis and the threat of Greece exiting the Eurozone. The Dow Jones industrial average closed higher as did the S&P 500, but the NASDAQ closed lower down 11 points. Right now stock futures in all three indexes are trading in positive territory ahead of today's market open.

A Senate committee vote to cut a symbolic $33 million in aid to Pakistan has outraged over the Pakistani doctor in prison leading to the death of Usama bin Laden. He was sentenced to 33 years for treason, ran a vaccination program for the CIA and helped the U.S. verify bin Laden's presence at a compound. The U.S. is calling for Afridi's release, saying he was acting in the interests of America and Pakistan.

The GSA official who helped organized the $800,000 conference in Las Vegas fired. Jeff Neely was placed on administrative leave in March when news of the lavish 2010 conference went public. Now he's out and officials want him to pay for a private party he hosted in his Vegas hotel room. Officials say the justice department could also slap him with criminal charges. Had to know that was coming. Christine, back to you.

ROMANS: Alina, thank you. Let's get back to our top story in the arrest in the Etan Patz case. Lisa Cohen is now us, she literally wrote the book on this story. You followed it for some time and know this family, Emmy-award winning producer, actually. Look, you researched this case for decades. There doesn't seem to be a motive yet in this arrest. Still a lot of questions, but this is the most conclusive we have seen in 33 years trying to solve this.

LISA COHEN, AUTHOR "AFTER ETAN": I think my issue with it at the moment, it's astonishing and if they've got a just confession and if this is the man who did it, then bravo. I just think it's been a very short amount of time that this person has jumped onto the horizon and, I think there are a lot of questions to be answered.

ROMANS: The police were skeptical but now telling us, there's a videotaped confession, and still trying to -- again, still trying to figure out motive. Let's walk through, I guess, what happened here. You did write in your book that Etan told his parents he planned to stop at a store to buy a soda. This man was a store clerk, a stock checker really at a store right there by the bus stop.

COHEN: Right. So he says that that's the moment when he took Etan and killed him. And I just think that at this point, we have his confession, and that's pretty much what we have. And I don't understand exactly what the motive was. I don't understand exactly what the time frame was right, how he could have escaped unnoticed.

ROMANS: Police say he was never questioned but his name had come up, when they were canvassing the neighborhood they knew everyone who worked at one of the stores. You look at the bodega where he was working it was a few blocks away from where Etan lived and disappeared, it was right next to where he was supposed to go on the bus on West Broadway and Prince in the Soho neighborhood of New York. There was a search in a nearby building. The trail which has been cold for some time has recently thawed a bit. I wonder if that had anything to play into this new revelation.

COHEN: That's typically in this case, and I'm sure other cases, that's typically the chain of events. Something happens, there's a development and may be completely unrelated to what subsequently happens but it causes there to be a lot of publicity. People take notice. People remember things or decide that they're going to come forward with things that aren't necessarily true, and that's often how new developments occur.

ROMANS: They've had false confessions in this case before, haven't there?

COHEN: I've been trying to think of actual moments. Certainly there have been hundreds and hundreds of false leads and there have been really moments when they knew that the case was solved and then it wasn't.

ROMANS: Right.

COHEN: I certainly know there have been false confessions in other cases.

ROMANS: Commissioner Kelly says there's no body, no physical evidence to link Hernandez to the disappearance. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is it about this confession that makes you believe this is a credible story?

KELLY: Well, the fact that he had told the story to others in the past, and the specificity of what he said in the confession.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Are you concerned at all that they have a confession and that's basically it, in a 33-year-old case?

COHEN: I think when you have a 33-year-old case it's hard to find other circumstantial or forensic evidence, so I'm not sure what more they are going to find. Yes, I'm concerned. I think you have to understand exactly who this person is, what their history is, what their mental history is. He's never had a lawyer before, so --

ROMANS: You're not convinced this guy did it?

COHEN: No, I'm not but that's not necessarily that he didn't do it. It's because this just happened. I never heard his name before today so you know.

ROMANS: Did they search the garbage during this initial, when he disappeared? They had bloodhounds canvassing the evening his mother said she didn't come home from school.

COHEN: And for days afterwards.

ROMANS: Did they not search the garbage?

COHEN: I think they did. One of the things I think he said, he went back to find this bag or this box that the body was in and had disappeared. I guess that's the way you would get around the fact that they were searching everything, basements, elevator shafts, rooftops, yes.

ROMANS: His family lives in the same neighborhood and he has siblings or other children. How do they handle stuff like this? I mean this is the biggest development there's been. This is a family that has lived 33 years since this horrible day for them.

COHEN: I think one of the things that has drawn me to this case over the years is how incredible this family is, exactly. I mean they have lived through all of this, and they have done it with grace and they have lived the rest of their lives. They have focused on their other children. I don't think they ever forget this. I think these kinds of days are particularly trying and difficult for lots of reasons. Every year is a difficult this is a difficult day for them, but they, they've got a life and they have moved on to a certain extent. You never forget this, you never quite get over it.

ROMANS: Thank you so much, Lisa Cohen. We'll talk to you again as developments unfold and as the case moves forward. Thank you.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, the trainer for the horse that won the first two legs of the Triple Crown in major trouble. Will it stop "I'll Have Another's" run at history?

ROMANS: One of the oldest daily newspapers now going to cut back, going part-time after 175 years. Is this a sign of things to come across the entire country in the newspaper business? We'll talk about that with this morning's all-star cast headed in. Hi guys. Here is a track from Ryan's playlist, White Stripes. Good morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Will Cain's playlist, Tom Petty.

Is it a sign of things to come? After 175 year "The Times- Picayune," the New Orleans paper that won a pair of Pulitzer Prizes for its coverage of hurricane Katrina, announced it's only going to print three days a week. It will merge into its Internet counterpart. "New York Times" staff reporter Christine Haughney joins us now. And full disclosure, I got into wires and then television because I was afraid watching my friends lose their jobs in newspapers where I started because the newspaper trend for 20 years has been, look, this is going to be a hard way to make business in a digital world, and that's proven to be true.

CHRISTINE HAUGHNEY, "NEW YORK TIMES" STAFF REPORTER: Absolutely. When something similar happened to the Ann Arbor paper, went to a few days a week, they hired back a fraction of the staff so we're talking about massive cuts in the newspaper stray for jobs. It is huge.

ROMANS: When you look at the brands of local newspapers, "the Washington Post," "The New York Times" and "The Wall Street Journal" and the big national local papers but "The Times-Picayune" have a brand that is really unmatched. How come they can't do a better job figuring out how to make money for their brand for the local news that people are so hungry for?

HAUGHNEY: They're competing with so many other types of media, dealing with online and television and their websites so you have a local market and it's expensive to produce news as you know. So in a national level it almost works more simply than at a local level where you have to get people in bureaus. I think one of the papers I spoke with had four bureaus, six to eight reporters staffed, fanning through the suburbs. It's difficult and costly work.

ROMANS: It used to be there was a morning paper and afternoon paper in a lot of the towns and then they merged and the morning paper and afternoon paper were the same company and then it was like in my town "The Argus" and "The Dispatch" and then it was the "Argus Dispatch." How will we see them survive?

HAUGHNEY: When I spoke to analysts, the actual online advertise something not at the place of newspapers print advertising, so you're still better off as they say milking the cow of print advertising over online advertising. That definitely seems to be where the market is heading.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Everyone wants to talk about the death knell of newspapers, they're going away.

ROMANS: It's like the death knell of the American dream, they've been talking about that all the time.

CAIN: Right. Warren Buffett bought 120 newspapers last week. In the future we're not going to cut down dead trees and have 13-year- old boys print this on our doorsteps, these things still have a life to them. People are still going to take their local newspapers.

ALICIA MENENDEZ, CO-HOST, "POWER PLAY" SIRIUS XM RADIO: For those of us who worked in communications and need to bring reporters out to events, there's also the reality that as newspapers cut stuff it's harder to have local events covered, to have community events covered. And I do believe there's that consequence as well.

HAUGHNEY: Yes, you're not going to have the resources to cover every local event, every school board meeting. That's been happening for years and years but yes.

ROMANS: "The Huffington Post" thought local news is something people are hungry for online, patch.com online, super, super local but people still want the brand of their local newspaper.

CAIN: It's trusted.

ROMANS: Yes. So how do they make money from that? Will says they are.

RYAN LIZZA, "NEW YORKER": First of all, I should say advanced publications which own this is newspaper also owns my magazine "The New Yorker," just to get that out on the table. The new houses tried this with other regional newspapers. Has it worked? In Ann Arbor and other places where they've cut down the number of issues they are publishing each week and moved online? What has the story been there?

HAUGHNEY: It's unclear with Newhouse because it's a privately held company but it stems the red ink, stems the losses that were happening when you had staff of hundreds and hundreds of people in newsrooms and didn't have the ad revenue coming in.

LIZZA: What about the quality of the journalism and quality of the product?

HAUGHNEY: As we know, everyone is more stretched today than they were five years ago, ten years ago and as you say you don't have people covering every board meeting. You just don't have the breadth of reporting. ROMANS: By some prediction about a quarter of daily newspaper will have some sort of pay wall by the end of the year and there was some excitement earlier this month when your own "New York Times" which has a pay wall saw a circulation jump over the previous year so people were buying subscriptions and some were buying them because of the pay wall. Can that work on a local level?

In New Orleans you have a market that has a very low penetration of people with internet access, 36 percent of homes in New Orleans area have internet. So how many are going to go to, go online and go through a pay wall? It's not clear if that's going to work in that market. Other markets where everyone's wired n you might have a different situation.

ROMANS: Christine Haughney, thank you. Have a nice weekend.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood says it is in the lead in historic presidential elections. Should the U.S. be afraid of that?

New signs Donald Trump may be jumping back into the race for the White House. Did we just read that? Donald Trump getting back in? We'll explain on the other side. You're watching STARTING POINT."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: That's nice, I like it. Salt n Pepa "None of Your Business." Who is going to start with the newspapers?

LIZZA: I want to start because any time Donald Trump is in the news I can't resist.

ROMANS: He's banking on that. This is serious because Trump genuinely helped Romney in the primaries, the endorsement was taken seriously, Romney embraced him and he's turning into a bit of a liability. Trump says "probably the best choice of all for V.P. for Romney would be Donald Trump." and there's talk he wants a speaking role at the convention. He has mused about if he doesn't get the V.P. nod, maybe being a treasury secretary or secretary of state.

ROMANS: Secretary of State Donald Trump.

LIZZA: Romney has a Trump problem.

MENENDEZ: Didn't he learn from Oprah this is not necessarily good for ratings to become more politically active?

LIZZA: That's true, this is hurting his brand because partisans on the left don't want to watch the show.

CAIN: One beneficiary out of the process is Trump, brand and exposure and publicity, and I love to imagine him across the negotiating table from Ahmadinejad or somebody like that.

LIZZA: Imagine what Romney really thinks about Donald Trump? I'm super serious. MENENDEZ: I'm going to be lighter than you, lots of brides wearing Uggs at their wedding. This caused outrage among my Facebook friends. There's a picture here you can see, I guess it makes sense if you have a cold wedding that you'd put on the furry, fuzzy boots. But I think it's a fad we hope to see go away. Ryan wanted to deliver the story but I took it out from under him.

CAIN: This is good news for free speech lovers all across America that it is apparently cording to a judge in Florida protected First Amendment speech to go down the highway flashing your headlights at oncoming traffic to warn them, hey, speed trap, cops ahead.

ROMANS: Someone had to go to court for that?

CAIN: That's right, because apparently a sheriff's department in Florida said you're interfering with speed traps, we're going to ticket you for the violation. He's like hey I got First Amendment speech. This was a devoted activist, he would see speed traps, get out of his office couch, get in his car, get a cup of coffee and flash people as they came as kind of entertainment. But apparently that's protected by the first amendment.

ROMANS: Who knew? Stick with us. The Space-X Dragon space shuttle is creeping close to the international space station.

Plus, should supermodel Kate Moss be worried about how U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon caught the eye of "Vogue" staffers?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: History being made in the heavens, the Dragon space capsule about to become the first private spacecraft to link up with the International Space Station, the connection marking a new era in commercial space travel.

CNN's John Zarrella is live in Miami marking the era with us. How is everything progressing up there so far, John?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine, it's painfully slow how this is going. You know, they've fallen a little bit behind the time line, but there's a good reason for that.

As you mentioned this is the first time that a commercial company has ever attempted to actually hook up with the International Space Station so NASA is going through all the steps, they're doing lots of demonstrations, and lots of tests.

At one point they brought Dragon in closer to the station then backed it away to test Dragon's braking system. They are, again, moving it in closer, and now so they're running behind the time line.

We thought it would be right around 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time that they would go ahead and have to capture where they'll use the space station's robotic arm and reach out and grab Dragon.

But now it looks like that's going to be sliding in, you know, beyond 8:00, between 8:00 and perhaps 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time, when that will take place.

But again, it is critical that they run through all of these steps very carefully and very slowly, because again, it is the first time, and remember, Christine, both of these vehicles are traveling at 17,500 miles an hour.

People don't realize that, when you look at these images, and then for the astronauts to reach out with the robotic arm to grab something that's flying at that same speed it's not easy.

ROMANS: Wow, all right, painfully slow. We'll keep watching and have a lot of fun with it. All right, John Zarrella, thanks.

ZARRELLA: Sure.

ROMANS: Let's go to Alina Cho for the rest of the day's headlines. Good morning again, Alina.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Christine. Good morning to you. The man who police say confessed to killing Etan Patz on this day 33 years ago is scheduled to make his first court appearance later today and we are getting a first look at the suspect.

Look at that picture there. "Inside Edition" is identifying this man as Pedro Hernandez. Prosecutors are expected to formally charge Hernandez with murder.

Patz went missing a block from his home on May 25th, 1979. Police say Hernandez admitted to luring the 6-year-old boy to the basement of a store by promising him a soda, before strangling him and disposing his body in the trash.

New trouble for the trainer of the horse that won the first two legs of the Triple Crown, we're talking about California State Racing Board, and they have suspended trainer Doug O'Neill for 45 days for high levels of carbon dioxide in a horse's blood.

Now O'Neil was charged -- cleared of charges he gave horses something called a milkshake, that's an illegal performance-enhancing substance. This won't have any effect, by the way, on "I'll Have Another's" run at history.

The horse was never implicated in anything and O'Neil's suspension doesn't even begin until July 1st, which means he will be at the Belmont Stakes on June 9th.

An American man who tried to give al Qaeda restricted Army documents sentenced to 20 years in prison. The court also ordered Texas man Barry Walter Bohold to pay a $10,000 fine.

They say he wanted to join al Qaeda and provide the organization with money and two restricted access Army manuals related to U.S. drones and GPS equipment.

Bohold was arrested some two years ago after using a fake ID to sneak into a Houston port and board a ship that was headed to the Middle East.

Listen to this story, "Vogue's" latest cover boy will probably surprise you. He's definitely not known for fashion. Talking about U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and he has snagged this month's cover of "Vogue's" Italian men's version.

It's titled "Re-branding Africa" and it's promoting positive images of the continent. Ban Ki-moon has made Africa his number one priority.

I spoke to him just yesterday about his cover spot and he told me, quote, "I don't have much passion for fashion, but I do have a passion for Africa."

His goal, by the way, is to save 16 million lives on the African continent by 2015. You know, it was quite an intense photo shoot, Christine, as these things go, but he said he was very, very happy with the photos.

ROMANS: As all international cover men and women say.

CHO: I'll have the story in the 10:00 hour.

CAIN: A passion for fashion you have, Alina.

ROMANS: Thanks, Alina.

Voting in Egypt's historic election maybe over, but tension in Egypt is still high and the country's consulate here in New York, an Egyptian reporter and diplomat got into a physical altercation when ex--pats went to vote last week.

The newspaper reporter says he was targeted by the consul general acclaimed the diplomat denies saying they wanted the reporter to stop filming so they could count ballots.

In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is now claiming a lead in the presidential election. No one is expected to win outright. If no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote in the first round, a runoff happens between the top two.

Joining us is Fawaz Gerges, director of the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He's also the author of a new book "Obama and The Middle East: The End of America's Moment."

I should say that you were right here in the front seat with us at CNN all last year while we covered the Arab spring and the implications for what was happening there.

And a year on, I'm wondering what you think are the prospects for a democracy that looks anything like an American style. Will we see anything that we recognize in democracy in the Middle East?

FAWAZ GERGES, AUTHOR, "OBAMA AND THE MIDDLE EAST": Well, you're going to see a pluralistic society as opposed to liberal based democracies. I think Muslims, Egyptians, Tunisians have to find their own way, their own models.

It will not look like democracy in America, but the reality is, I mean, I think these societies are moving on. The transition is moving on, slower than many of us had hoped.

There's a great deal of dust. There's a great deal of turmoil, but we should not be blinded by the dust because once the dust settles. I believe a new world will emerge in that part of the world. Probably it's going to take about a decade or so.

ROMANS: Talk about the Muslim Brotherhood, they say -- it says its candidate has the lead. In your book you write this, throughout his 33-year rule, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak played on western fears that the promotion of democracy in the Arab world would empower extremists and terrorists."

His right hand man, Vice President Omar Salim echoed that Egypt was not ready for democracy because democracy would unleash the forces of religious fundamentalism.

And bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power implying it is extremists of the al Qaeda variety. What does Egypt look like with the Muslim Brotherhood having a leadership role? What does that mean to the U.S.?

GERGES: Well, let's be, I mean, clear about one point. Even though the Islamists, the religious based activists did not really play a major role in the uprisings we've seen in the last 16 months.

They are taking ownership of the revolts in Egypt and Tunisia and Morocco, most likely in Libya and Jordan are the places. Why? The reason you're absolutely correct. Mubarak and his company played on the fears of the Islamists.

Because if you don't invest in us you'll end up with the Islamists, but first of all, two points. The Arab authoritarian leaders played a key role in decimating the progressive liberal forces.

Because they basically -- I mean, crackdown and suppressed all kind of progressive opposition that's why the Arab world in the last 15 months was really polarized between autocrats and Islamists.

The second point, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the Islamists in Tunisia and Morocco, they are not al Qaeda type. They are what I call Islamic centrists.

They believe in the political game, they believe in citizenship as the foundation of society. They have come a long way. The United States has very little to fear from these Islamists.

But again another major point before I said that the world that will emerge in that part of the world will not be the same that the United States had dealt with in the last 60 years. It will be assertive. It will be independent.

It will be authentic and that's why in my book I say the end of America's moment. It's the beginning of the end of America's hegemony using the Mubaraks as basically cronies --

CAIN: is it the risk not that these countries like Egypt and Tunisia will follow an al Qaeda model, but by embracing the Muslim Brotherhood or some kind of Islamist movement.

Whatever the country maybe that they follow an Iranian model, that they do embrace democracy once and then you have some kind of theocratic regime that takes over from there?

GERGES: Thank you for the question. This is really the fear, Iran is a failed model. The Islamic, the Arab Islamists do not look for Iran as a model.

They look for Turkey as an example and inspiration and the reason why Turkey because Turkey has been able to marry democracy with authenticity, Islam identity. This is really what we're talking about.

CAIN: Heavy, heavy handed secularism through a military controlled imposed secularism.

GERGES: But it has evolved. I mean, look at the way -- take it today's rule by Islamist, the Muslim Brotherhood. This tells you a great deal how far Islamists have emerged.

Let me qualify what I said. Egyptians, 50 percent of Arabs are terrified. Look at the results of the election, the partial elections.

Egypt is deeply divided between an Islamist constituency and a middle way constituency that says we cannot trust you. We cannot trust you as Islamists because once you're in power you basically force your own regressive interpretations on us.

ROMANS: I want to bring it back because in the book, it's called "Obama and the Middle East: The End of America's Moment." You say the president has failed to pursue a transformational policy. Has he disappointed new his reaction to the Arab spring, President Obama?

GERGES: I'm glad you asked this particular question. This book is not just about Barack Obama. This is an indictment of American foreign policy in the last six years.

ROMANS: An indictment of American foreign policy.

GERGES: You cannot talk about Barack Obama without talking about what I call the bitter inheritance, about these new challenges he inherited. What did he inherit?

He inherited multiple wars on multiple fronts, Iraq, Afghanistan, other places, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of American troops battling in Muslim lands, economic decline.

The image of the United States reached a low point when George Bush left it. So what Barack Obama has been trying to do is really overcome what I call the bitter inheritance, which he received when he came to the office.

Unfortunately, there are some major shortcomings and there are some major successes. And the book really, you see, I was on a station, I'm not going to use the station tried to use my book to turn it against Barack Obama, far from it.

ROMANS: A station tried to do that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't imagine what station that would be.

GERGES: Saying it ended America's moment. In fact, he has gone out of his way to basically try to repair some of the damage that has taken place and the reality is that part of the world has moved on.

And also what we don't understand about Barack Obama, Barack Obama does not represent change with the dominant U.S. approach. In fact, left and the right of Barack Obama, Barack Obama is deeply anchored in the dominant narrative. He believes in what most presidents in the United States believed, realism as opposed to liberalism.

ROMANS: Fawaz Gerges, thank you so much. The book is called "Obama and The Middle East." Thank you for all the help you gave us throughout the whole Arab spring and again now a year later. Thank you, sir.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, the very first in-depth interview on U.S. soil, our own Anderson Cooper snares what Chinese human rights activist shares what he has to say, Chen Guangcheng on his first five days now in the United States.

And it's a drive by Indianapolis 500 racer and rookie Katherine Legge stops by with her all female racing team and what does she think about Danica Patrick? You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: That's from my playlist. It's really a fun song especially for a Friday before a holiday weekend, right?

It's known as the greatest spectacle in racing. This Sunday, 33 drivers are going to start their engines at the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500.

It's 200 laps of pure adrenalin and no brakes for a total distance of 500 miles and competing this year, Indy car rookie Katherine Legge.

She joins me now from Indianapolis live. She's the ninth woman ever to qualify for the Indy 500 and she's surrounded by her whole team, as you can see they're all women. Congratulations, welcome and how do you feel? KATHERINE LEGGE, INDY 500 RACE CAR DRIVER: Thank you very much. I feel very good. Actually, I got a good night's sleep last night for the first time in about two weeks so I feel good really today.

ROMANS: Do you feel ready for the race? I mean, do you feel ready for it?

LEGGE: Yes and no. I think ready as I'll ever be. We didn't get as much testing as we would have liked, but yes, I'm ready. I think I've asked enough questions of my whole team and everybody around so I'm really looking forward to just getting it started now.

ROMANS: There was a little bit of a scramble to qualify. You weren't quite sure you'd make it to the starting line, right?

LEGGE: Right, we didn't have engines until two days before and I had to pass rookie orientation practice. So we're just very grateful that we now have a Chevrolet in the back of my true car machine because it makes all the difference.

ROMANS: Yes, an engine makes all the difference in the world. You're one of seven rookies in the race. How does it feel to be a rookie? I mean, what does that mean for you in terms of getting your head around all those laps?

LEGGE: It's definitely more of a challenge, because more of the ceremony and everything else that's going on, I mean, it's just -- you don't know where you're supposed to be, when you're supposed to be there.

You don't know how the race is going to go so you have to rely heavily on other people's knowledge and ask a ton of questions, but next year when I come back I won't be a rookie anymore.

ROMANS: There you go. You only have to be a rookie once.

LEGGE: I hope things move as smoothly as possible.

ROMANS: Take me through what you're thinking at these kinds of speeds. You know, I mean, this is why we all watch because it is so incredibly fast and thrilling.

And we have video from the 2006 grand prix where a broken rear wing causes your car to flip over and into a wall, catching fire, and breaking into countless pieces. You walked away unscathed, thankfully, but when -- what are you thinking at these kinds of speeds?

LEGGE: Well you're not thinking about the accident, that's for sure. You're not thinking, the whole way around either. You're very focused, you're thinking maybe a lap or two ahead. You've got your team in your ear, your spotters in your ear.

And you just kind of strategizing and thinking about the car and how you're going to make it back there and how you're going to pass the next person and how it's going to go next. ROMANS: On your helmet you're going to have a Girl Scout logo. You're sort of racing as a STEM ambassador, science, technology, engineering and math.

And getting girls more excited about the engineering and technology to build a car, race a car, to anchor a team. Tell me about that.

LEGGE: Yes, it's really something that's very close to my heart. I think that they are the careers that you'll need to be in, in the future and I just want the girls to follow their dreams.

You know, anything that they want to know, they have to know that it's possible now. I grew up, I was very fortunate, you know, my parents said you can be anything that you put your mind to.

I wanted to be a race car driver and I think it's important they don't necessarily have to go into racing or anything like that, but they have to follow whatever they want to be. And they have to pursue that with 110 percent knowledge that they can get there if they really, really want to.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Katherine, what is it like being in a sport that has been historically dominated by men and do you hope that showing the world that women can be wonderful drivers, wonderful racers, will help women with this misperception that we're all bad drivers?

LEGGE: Absolutely. I think the statistics, try saying that this time in the morning, proved that we are actually not bad drivers but I think men started that rumor a long time ago.

Actually what True Car has done is sponsored all six of us. It is the only sport where women can compete equally and can compete equally and absolutely no reason we can't be winning races. I hope we can change that opinion.

Obviously we need more girls at grassroots efforts starting racing and going through, but I really think that it's not a novelty anymore and it is changing.

ROMANS: It's Danica Patrick and all of those women behind you.

LEGGE: Exactly.

ROMANS: All right, nice to see you. Good luck to you. Katherine Legge and your team.

Fast, very fast driver. I think women pay lower insurance rates. Doesn't it prove that women are better drivers?

CAIN: Did you break news women are not bad drivers?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just because she is doesn't mean that you are a good driver.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a terrible driver that's why I need Katherine Legge.

ROMANS: All right, ahead on STARTING POINT, a spy story unfolding one tweet at a time. How you can unravel the mystery.

And coming up next hour, online porn, graphic video games, and cell phones constantly buzzing, is today's technology need for constant stimulation ruining an entire generation of men?

CAIN: I think this show might be a little slanted. One segment we do about how good driver women are and now we're going to talk about how men are slaves to porn and video games?

ROMANS: Will is very thin skinned this morning. So don't go away.

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ROMANS: Would you read your favorite author's latest story one tweet at a time. Pulitzer Prize winning author Jennifer Eagan is doing just that.

Her latest work of fiction is called "Black Box." It's about a spy keeping a log of her current mission. She started last night with tweets like necessary ingredients for a successful projection, giggles, bare legs, and shyness. The full story in "The New Yorker."

LIZZA: This is really cool. She's an amazing author. She won a Pulitzer Prize for a visit from the goon squad, her novel.

This takes one of the characters from that novel and she's a futuristic female spy in the 2030s and each tweet is a sort of mental note.

And so the entire stream is just her sort of stream of consciousness as she goes on this mission to infiltrate terrorists. I read the whole thing.

I'm reading it as everyone else is as we post it. Each night at 8:00 for an hour, "The New Yorker" is tweeting 140 character tweet at a time until this entire thing runs its course over 10 days and it's interesting.

ROMANS: Is it building followers make you tell how many people are reading it?

LIZZA: Jennifer herself I understand isn't really a big Twitter user. She spent a year writing the story and she submitted to our fiction editor. You know, the first criteria was, is it a good story and they loved it and decided to tweet it out.

CAIN: I was skeptical, Ryan. I'll be honest. I'm not going to read a book on Twitter. That's a terrible idea, but you won me over. You won me over with this detail. I think it's cool, 10 straight nights from 8:00 to 9:00 a tweet per minute. You're serializing the concept of a novel. I think it's pretty cool. People tune in each night for one hour like you would a show and read --

ROMANS: Isn't this what we did a long time ago? Isn't this what newspapers did and you bought your local newspaper every night from the guy or the kid on the corner because you wanted the next instalment.

LIZZA: A lot of great literature that we read in high school and college was serialized. People would wait by the shore to get the next instalment of Dickens work and that's how novels were done and Jennifer was very influenced by that kind of serialization.

ALICIA MENENDEZ, DEMOCRATIC COMMENTATOR: It works because she was the one who came up with the concept. I think if an editor forced on her let's take this story and apply it to Twitter, it would not have worked. It works because it was written for the medium.

ROMANS: Interesting. Thanks for bringing that, Ryan.

All right, ahead on STARTING POINT, a Chinese human rights activist, Cheng Guangcheng, gives his first in-depth TV interview to CNN since his dramatic escape. Anderson cooper tells us what he had to say.

Plus President Obama narrowly leads presumed Republican challenger Mitt Romney, but Romney is closing the gap. What will this race come down to? We'll ask DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. You're watching STARTING POINT.

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