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Romney Booed at NAACP Convention; Penn State Review to be Released Today; Rep. Jesse Jackson Treated For Mood Disorder; Biden To Speak before NAAC

Aired July 12, 2012 - 05:00   ET


ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: Mitt Romney's not backing down after getting booed at the NAACP conference. New this morning, his defiant response.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: And more questions and answers about Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s health this morning as his office tries to explain his mysterious absence from Congress.

VELSHI: A fishing trip takes a thrilling turn when a bull shark suddenly decides to crash the party. We'll show you more about that.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Ali Velshi. Zoraida Sambolin has the day off.

BANFIELD: I was going to say that video was so picking --

VELSHI: Yes, that shark. Yes, I could watch that all day.

BANFIELD: Is that about shark videos? That is awesome. It's caught on camera.

I'm Ashleigh Banfield. It's nice to have you with us every morning. It is 5:00 a.m. on the East Coast. Good time to get started.

And let's get started with this. Go vote for someone else. How about that for a campaign pitch? Fighting words for Mitt Romney after a pretty rough reception at the NAACP convention.

It was a tough sell to begin with though anyway, because, you know, Governor Romney's really trying to convince African-Americans that they'd be better served with him in the White House than with President Obama.

The problem is, President Obama has about 95-ish percent support among African-Americans. But Romney really misstepped when he referred to the president's health care forms as Obamacare.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm going to eliminate every non-essential expensive program I can find. That includes Obama care, and I'm going to work to reform and save --



BANFIELD: Yes, those are the sound of boos. You might say ouch or maybe not. Romney is getting beat up by NAACP, though.

Listen to Akosua Tyus, the president of the Washington, D.C., branch, explaining that describe that chorus of boos.


AKOSUA TYUS, NAACP PRESIDENT OF THE WASHINGTON, D.C. BRANCH: He literally came to our house and attacked the issues that are important to us on our turf.


BANFIELD: Ad there you have it. That was the wrap up, at least from that president.

CNN's political reporter Shannon Travis is live from Washington, D.C., this morning.

Shannon, it really looks like Mitt Romney's just not backing down at all from this, and there are all sorts of people weighing in on all sorts of different reasons for why he may have gone to the NAACP annual conference.

Wrap it up for me to start with whether this is going to have a residual effect in the negative or in the positive.

SHANNON TRAVIS, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, we're still trying to weigh that, Ashleigh. I have to tell you, when I was watching it, it felt like one of those reality TV shows where the candidate on stage either lives or dies by boos or applause.

But as you just saw there, I mean, Mitt Romney was booed when he mentioned Obamacare, which was a little surprising, because the people at NAACP, it's not breaking news that he is opposed to Obamacare. He also got booed when he said he was a better president for African- Americans than President Obama is.

But, last night, take a listen at something that I'm about to read you. Last night, at a fundraiser in Montana, Governor Romney basically played up the fact that he was booed. I'm going to read you this quote from a report that we have. I'm quoting here.

This is Governor Romney, quote, "When I mention I am going to get rid of Obamacare, they weren't happy. That's OK," he says.

"I want people to know what I stand for and if I don't stand for what they want, go vote for someone else. But I hope people understand this, your friends who like Obamacare, you remind them of this, if they want more stuff from government, tell them to go vote for the other guy -- more free stuff. But don't forget, nothing is really free. It has to be paid for by people in the private sector."

So, to your question about whether this will have residual effect, you know what? In the African-American community, given the fact that the polls, the 2008 exit polls show that 95 percent of voters voted for Obama versus McCain and that currently, in a current Gallup poll, that about 87 percent of African-Americans support President Obama versus 5 percent for Romney probably won't hurt him any more than it already is with African-Americans.

But in terms of conservatives, this could shore up Romney's conservative bona fide that he went into the political lions den and took on some supporters of Obama.

BANFIELD: Yes. I mean, the conspiracy theorists were out in force within moments of him walking off stage, saying he wasn't there to talk to people in the auditorium. He was there to talk to the people outside of the auditorium, the supreme conservatives out there.

But here's where that didn't wash with me. It kind of is at odds with what you just showed us, that comment that he made at the fundraising event last night. One of his surrogates -- this is not to suggest for a minute, Shannon, that the surrogates are always on the same page and they all follow the memo.


BANFIELD: But one named of his surrogates named Tara Wall was on TV talking about the thunderous -- and these are her words -- the thunderous applause that Governor Romney got at the NAACP con fence. When pushed she had to back down a little bit and say, maybe not thunderous applause, applause in general.

It looked as though she was trying to play up this reception at the NAACP, whereas, what you're saying is that Mitt Romney was suggesting, you know what? Never expected to do well there anyway.

TRAVIS: But you almost have to wonder what conference Tara Wall was at yesterday when she was talking about that he got thunderous applause.

Look, there were moments of applause for Governor Romney to be sure. There were some things -- some points of agreement that he expressed right there and that those in attendance applauded him for. It wasn't thunderous, but there were moments of applause.

On the other hand, again, this is something that yesterday after Governor Romney got booed, I saw on the Twitterverse and conservative blogosphere, a lot of conservatives saying, you know what? Good for you, Governor Romney, for going into, again, this political lions den and taking on some of these issues.

Governor Romney himself is saying, I'm going to say the same message wherever I go. So this is a pretty -- he feels like this is a pretty winning issue for him.

BANFIELD: All right. Shannon Travis, good to see you. Thank you so much for that this morning live for us.

And, by the way, we're also learning some final details now about a medical condition that caused Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. to virtually disappear from Capitol Hill a month ago.

His office is releasing a statement that says, Jackson is being treated for a, quote, "mood disorder," end quote, at a residential facility. The statement quotes Jackson's doctor saying that the congressman is responding well to treatment and is expected to make a full recovery.

VELSHI: Florida state attorney plans to release FBI reports later today that could explain whether race played a role in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Now, that includes federal interviews with 30 people, including members of the Sanford Police Department and friends of the shooting suspect, George Zimmerman. We're also expecting details of email exchanges between Zimmerman and the fired Sanford police chief, Bill Lee.

BANFIELD: Drama in a Detroit backyard.

Take a look at these images. Firefighters are helping to dig out a man who's buried right up to his chest in about eight feet of dirt. Rescuers digging the holes with shovels, buckets, even using their bare hands desperately trying to get him out.

Police say that the trench collapsed during an illegal operation to lay down a sewer pipe. The men who were doing the work were apparently hired off of the street.

VELSHI: illegal I suppose means unpermitted.

BANFIELD: Hired off the street.

VELSHI: Just as gas prices are ticking up, now $3.38, up .10 percent, marking I guess that's a tenth of a cent really than a tenth of a percent, marking a second consecutive increase. They've been out, they've been, because the oil prices have been up and down. The average price is down 73 cents from the record which was $4.11. That was back in July of 2008.

The highest gas prices right now are in Hawaii, $4.21. Lowest gas prices are in South Carolina, just $3.04 a gallon.

BANFIELD: Eight minutes now past 5:00 in the morning, on the East Coast.

People in the Southeast are really on guard today for some serious storms and even the potential for some flash flooding.

Our Rob Marciano is watching it from our severe weather center.

So, Rob, can anybody get a break this summer from either awful heat, terrible fire, nasty storms that knock out their power that knock out their power for a week?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. We've kind of seen a little bit of both across the Southeast. But, you know, you would argue that it's better than the record breaking heat that we saw the past two weeks.

This is an area showing the last 48 hours of rainfall. It's just kind of peppered the Southeast, all the way from Houston, and Dallas, back through Atlanta. And in some cases, just in the last 24 hours, four to six inches across parts of Carolina, six to 10 across parts of the southeast Texas.

And that part of the world are seeing some flash flood watch and warning posted for the rest of the day today. Another line of thunderstorms already begin to pop just north of Houston.

If you're traveling through Houston today, just be aware that there certainly could be some delays at the airports there. As they begin to fire up, as they're already doing, two plus inches of rainfall per hour, a good possibility.

All this stationary front happens in July. These things hit the brakes as soon as they get close to the Gulf of Mexico, steamy down to the South, but also along this front is where you'll see thunderstorms pop up and some of them will be torrential rainfall like we saw again for the third night in a row and across Atlanta, and also some thunder and lightening.

North of that, not too bad. But South and West of that, record breaking temperatures across the Southwest yesterday. It will be a little bit cooler today. Ninety degrees only in Albuquerque, 88 degrees and warming up in New York City and 90 degrees expected in Chicago -- Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: All right. Rob Marciano, thank you, sir. Appreciate that.

VELSHI: I'll take the 80.

BANFIELD: I'll take the 80.


Listen, this is what Ashleigh was talking about. A great video.

A woman fishing of a dock in South Carolina. Reeling it in. Another one comes along. Take a look.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, Jesus Christ. It's all mine. It's all mine. Get it.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a shark. A shark! It's a big (EXPLETIVE DELETED) shark.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go, baby. Keep reeling. Keep reeling.


VELSHI: I love when you can fill in the beeps. Bam, shark bait.

They were about to land it obviously when a huge bull shark, there it goes, swooped in and stole the little fishy.

BANFIELD: That is some serious Nat Geo video right there.

VELSHI: I love the video. I love the audio almost as much -- the shark!

BANFIELD: The beeps, you know what's behind those beeps.


BANFIELD: All right. So we've got a lot more ahead.

It's 10 past 5:00 on the East Coast. We're waiting down now a couple of hours until a new report is expected out on the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse trial and the case in general and the coach and his higher ups. A letter from the late coach Joe Paterno has also surfaced about all of this.

Find out what he said about the scandal and what he did not say about the scandal, coming up.


VELSHI: In less than four hours, we're going to know more about just how much Penn State knew about the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal while it was going on. At 9:0 a.m., former FBI chief Louis Freeh will release a report commissioned by the university, describing exactly what university administrators did or did not do when accusations against Jerry Sandusky arose.

The report will also likely take a look at the university's culture and the relationship between the football program and the administration.

The Freeh report is coming a day after an op-ed was released from the late head football coach, Joe Paterno, who defended the integrity of Penn State, his program, and his players saying, quote, "This is not a football scandal."

Susan Candiotti is live in Philadelphia.

Susan, is the Paterno family worried that Freeh's report may show that Joe Paterno and others knew that Sandusky was abusing children? And more importantly, that they covered it up?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ali, of course, we don't know for sure what's going to be in the Freeh report. But certainly, it's a possibility that the Paterno family would be worried about this.

We can tell you this, the Paterno family is not at all happy that the Freeh investigators did not allow them to get an advance look at that report, saying that Paterno didn't ever get a chance to defend themselves before them.

Here's one reason why the Paterno family might be worried. Remember, Ali, that CNN had purported e-mails that were leaked to us involving an exchange among Penn State officials, and in one of those e-mails, they discuss a plan after that 2001 shower incident to notify Jerry Sandusky and, among other things, to notify outside authorities, child welfare. But in another email, there's a reference from the athletic director that he spoke to Joe Paterno and then the director changes his mind about contacting child welfare authorities.

Now the Paterno family just yesterday issued this statement that reads in part, "Joe Paterno did not cover up for Jerry Sandusky. Joe Paterno did not know Jerry Sandusky was a pedophile. Joe Paterno did not act in any way to prevent a proper investigation of Jerry Sandusky. To claim otherwise is a distortion of the truth."

So, Ali, we'll see how the Freeh report may address all of this.

VELSHI: All right. One of the big problems, it's interesting, it apparently didn't really affect university's fundraising last year, but also denying any knowledge of the sex abuse is former Penn State president Graham Spanier. You reported on some leaked e-mails that might suggest otherwise, like this one. I just want to let our viewers know, from Spanier.

And it says, quote, "The only down side from us is if the message isn't, quote, 'heard' and acted upon and then we become vulnerable for not having reported it. But that can be assessed down the road."

What is that supposed to mean?

CANDIOTTI: Well, Ali, certainly, many people have said we are down the road. Let's see whether the Freeh report addresses that.

We do know, prosecutors said, that no outside authorities were ever notified after the 2001 shower incident, so did any procedures that Penn State may have had in place completely collapse and not work.

We do know that some people who will be here today are victims' attorneys. They will be listening very closely to this Freeh report because it might provide them ammunition for expected lawsuits against Penn State.

VELSHI: All right. Susan, thanks very much -- Susan Candiotti following this case very closely.

And those attorneys, Ashleigh, are going to be very interested in this op-ed that Joe Paterno wrote before he died.

I must say, as I read it, I found myself getting angrier and angrier and angrier that he wrote this entire thing about the great culture of Penn State and the great culture of their football program and don't taint the football program by calling this a football scandal.

That was top of his mind before he died, that you're going to ruin the reputation of the football program, not that there were victims.

BANFIELD: Not a mention, 700 plus words and not a mention of the kids who were raped.


BANFIELD: The kids --

VELSHI: It was all about don't wreck the reputation. Don't call this a football scandal.

BANFIELD: Listen, that's what lawyers look for. It's what you evidence, especially in a civil lawsuit of this magnitude if there are going to be. And I guarantee you, Ali, there are going to be civil lawsuits.

VELSHI: Absolutely.

BANFIELD: It's 18 minutes now past 5:00.

Time to get you up-to-date on some of the top stories. Christine Romans now doing that job for us -- Christine.


Vice President Biden will represent the White House today at the NAACP convention in Houston. The administration insists that scheduling conflicts prevented the president from being there himself, even though his calendar appears to be open today. But it will be Joe Biden today.

Mitt Romney was roundly booed at the convention yesterday when he told the crowd he'd eliminate Obamacare if he wins the presidency.

The car can see what you can't. New crash warning equipment installed in cars showing some promise. A new study by the insurance industry says that accident reports were down 14 percent in cars that were equipped with the technology that automatically brakes when a rear end crash is imminent and also in cars with headlights that can swivel, that are on a swivel, that can see around curves. The systems were installed on some new Acura, Mercedes Benz and Volvo cars.

Pluto's new moon. NASA says images from the Hubble space telescope have revealed a fifth moon orbiting the dwarf planet. For now, this new moon is being called P-5. It appears as small white dots.

Just last year, astronomers discovered Pluto's fourth moon. A NAS spacecraft is on its way to Pluto. It's expected to arrive in 2015. So put it on the calendar.

BANFIELD: That fourth moon didn't get a chance to be named before a fifth moon pull us asunder.

VELSHI: I'm just glad there were no Hubble telescope when I was a kid, because it was hard for me to memorize it, like this. The few planets that were out there. Now they all have extra moons, and we subtracted a planet and we gain on.

BANFIELD: I'm giving Pluto its due. I'm sorry.

ROMANS: P-5, baby.

BANFIELD: I'm not letting it go.

VELSHI: We're going to name the fourth moon.

All right, thanks, Christine.

BANFIELD: Thank you.

VELSHI: It is 20 1/2 minutes after the hour this morning. We're getting an early read on your local news that's going national.

Now, from the "Hartford Courant," a Connecticut group home employee has been put on leave without pay after she was caught on tape kicking and beating and dragging a disabled and defenseless adult by the hair, by the way.

We want to warn you the video we're about to show you is tough to watch.

The caretaker caught kicking the woman in the gut, whipping her with a belt and dragging her as I said by the hair. The victim suffers from an intellectual disorder. State staff went to check on other people -- that's tough to watch.

BANFIELD: That's by the hair, Ali. She grabbed her by the hair and pulled her.

VELSHI: They say -- the state said they didn't find any other signs of abuse. They're trying to find out who shot the video. That person could face charges too. It's unclear whether this was a good Samaritan shooting it or someone was shooting it as part of the video.

BANFIELD: What's amazing is whoever did shoot that video dropped off three different copies. One to the TV station --

VELSHI: One to the state, one to the TV station, one to the agency where this happened.

So they're taking action on it. It is tough video to watch.

BANFIELD: Pictures don't lie.

All right. So, from the "San Francisco Chronicle" this morning, city officials are saying the Apple is no longer green enough. With very few exceptions, San Francisco's 50 city departments say they're no longer going to be allowed to buy Apple laptops, desktop computers or monitors, all because they say the tech giant withdrew from an international electronics green certification program last month.

San Francisco's mayor is saying that rules are rules, says that Apple is at odds with the city and its purchasing policy that mandates every product has to meet strict environmental standards. I never thought I'd hear the day that Apple isn't green enough for San Francisco.

VELSHI: A little counterintuitive, isn't it?

All right. Anxious times on Wall Street, amid more signs that the economy is slowing instead of growing. There are storm clouds on the economic horizon. We're going to tell you what it would mean for you, your money, coming up.

You're watching EARLY START. Twenty-three minutes after the hour.


BANFIELD: It is 25 minutes now past 5:00 this morning. We're minding your business.

European stocks down. It could be a rough day in the market as well here.

VELSHI: U.S. stock futures are trading lower across the board this morning after minutes from the last Federal Reserve meeting saying that the Fed is trying to figure out how to put more stimulus into the economy. It's not ready to act.

I have a smile on my face, because Christine Romans is here. That always makes smile even if the market sucks.

ROMANS: Well, you know, the market is a reflection of what's happening in the overall economy, right? Or at least the conditions for corporate America. And the issue here is that the Fed is still concerned about things. These are Fed minutes. Concerned about the economy overall.

We know that growth is slowing, that the Fed is not ready to step in and do anything else. You've got investors fleeing stocks meanwhile as Europe's problems worsen.

We've seen withdrawal from stock mutual funds, 19 of the past 20 weeks, $50 billion withdrawn out of stock mutual funds so far in 2012. It's going into bonds. It's going into cash. It's going into hybrid mutual funds that are stocks and bonds. But people have been -- investors have been coming out of stock mutual funds.

Meantime, economists are forecasting slower growth in the U.S. downshifting their growth forecast. This is a survey yesterday, quite difficult to look at, 1.2 to 1.7 economic growth. That's the forecast for the second quarter. Think that can make you feel better.

You're barely preserving your standard of living.

BANFIELD: What should it be?

ROMANS: We would like to see 2 percent to 3 percent economic growth.

VELSHI: Two is what we were thinking it would be. We'd love to have three. China is seven.


ROMANS: That's going down. There you go.


ROMANS: Anyway, this is the storm clouds you and I keep talking about. We do know that expectations now are for slower growth. That's one of the reasons why investors have been pulling money out of stock.

VELSHI: Come back so we can talk more about this.

ROMANS: I'll be back in an hour.

BANFIELD: That's another campaign bullet point there, too.

All right. Christine Romans, thank you.

The images, absolutely unforgettable. Hurricane Katrina has just been cited as one of the most powerful moments on television and there are many others as well. So, find out what other major events made that list, coming up.



ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): What is wrong with Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.? Statement from his office not doing a whole lot to clear up a mystery this morning.

ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Thousands of FBI cases are under review. The agency wants to know if faulty forensics helped put people, the wrong people, behind bars.

BANFIELD: Robert Blake in your face. The actor angry and combative in an interview you'll see only on CNN. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI (on-camera): Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Ali Velshi. Zoraida is off today.

BANFIELD (on-camera): Nice to have you with us, everybody. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. Thirty-one minutes now past 5:00 in the morning on the east coast.

VELSHI: Well, a message from Mitt Romney to everyone who booed him at yesterday's NAACP convention, quote, "go vote for someone else." Now, this was a tough sell to begin with. Romney was trying to convince African-Americans that they'd be better off with him in the White House, but it was this remark about Obamacare specifically that set the crowd off.


MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I'm going to eliminate every non-essential expensive program I can find. That includes Obamacare. And I'm going to work to reform and save --



VELSHI: CNN political reporter, Shannon Travis, is live from Washington this morning. Shannon, Romney's not apologizing for what he told the crowd. Here's a question for you. What got them going? I mean, Obamacare used to be a pejorative term. It's not now. The Obama administration, the White House used it itself. What was the thing? Because I didn't think anybody thought Romney liked healthcare reform in the way that it's passed.

SHANNON TRAVIS, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: I mean, you're absolutely right, Ali. No breaking news that Mitt Romney does not like the nation's healthcare law. He's been campaigning against it for month, but a number of attendees that we spoke to said, you know what, essentially how dare he come into our house, meaning the house of supporters of the nation's healthcare law and of Obama, and say that he doesn't like Obamacare?

At least those are some of the words that they used. But in every cloud, there's a silver lining. Although Romney got booed, he's not crying the blues about it. In fact, instead, last night, he was in Montana talking about, playing up the fact that he got booed, and I have a little bit of a quote that he said to some of his supporters at this fundraiser last night.

I'm going to read it to you, Ali, quote, "When I mentioned I am going to get rid of Obamacare, they weren't happy. That's OK. I want people to know what I stand for and if I don't stand for what they want, go vote for someone else, but I hope people understand this, your friends who like Obamacare, you remind them of this, if they want more stuff from government, tell them to go vote for the other guy, more free stuff. But don't forget nothing is really free. It has to be paid for by people in the private sector."

So, that's from Mitt Romney at this fundraiser last night. One other thing of note, we've been playing up the fact that he was booed a few times.


TRAVIS: But there were moments of applause for Romney at the NAACP Convention. One moment, he was talking about his defense of traditional marriage. Let's take a listen at the reception to that.


ROMNEY: Any policy that lifts up and honors the family is going to be good for the country and that must be our goal. As president, I will promote strong families, and I will defend traditional marriage.



TRAVIS: Now, light applause there but you know, Ali, of course that that's one area that a lot of African-Americans are opposed to, the idea of gay marriage -- Ali.

VELSHI: Tara Wall (ph) sort of mentioned that there was pretty enthusiastic applause for Romney at some points.

TRAVIS: Yes. Tara Wall is one of his high profile African- American advisors. Apparently, immediately afterwards, she said that there was thunderous applause. We didn't get any of that, but then, she later backtracked those words.

VELSHI: There might have been thunder going on at the same time.

TRAVIS: Could have been. Could have been.

VELSHI: You know, Romney talks about stuff not being free. We've got a great report out on right now about -- which analyzes the type of tax cuts that Romney would like to put into place if he became president and pointing out that they, too, are not free. Nothing is actually free.

TRAVIS: No such thing.

VELSHI: Shannon, good to see you, my friend. Shannon Travis for us covering that story. At 6:30 eastern, we're going to talk about Romney's appearance at the NAACP convention and the fallout. We're joined by our CNN contributor, Roland Martin, who's got a lot to say about this, Ashleigh

BANFIELD: Roland Martin does? Really?

VELSHI: Yes. Believe it or not. Believe it or not.

(LAUGHTER) BANFIELD: I love Roland Martin.

All right. It's 35 minutes now past 5:00 on the east coast. More finger pointing and a whole lot more posturing, you can rest assure this morning, after House Republicans voted to repeal President Obama's healthcare reforms yesterday. Repeal.

VELSHI: Oh, my God! It's gone?

BANFIELD: It went through. It went through the House which means DOA at the Senate. So, Democrats, of course, because of that, are calling this a whole waste of time since there is no way this thing's going any further than here. And even if it did miraculously pass the Senate, do you think the president would sign a repeal of his own healthcare initiative?

VELSHI: Nah. We'll talk about that. The justice department and the FBI reviewing thousands of criminal cases to find out if faulty forensics may have led to wrongful convictions. "The Washington Post" reported in April the justice officials have known for years that questionable evidence in some trials led to guilty verdicts but no reviews of the cases had occurred.

The ongoing reviews involve files that relied heavily on FBI lab evidence. I feel like I've seen this on "CSI."

BANFIELD: Yes. And you know what, you're going to see a whole lot more of it in some courtrooms, because those who've been imprisoned are going to sue. Guaranteed

Ali, were you watching TV last night?

VELSHI: I was.

BANFIELD: Were you watching CNN?

VELSHI: I loved the Robert Blake interview.


BANFIELD: That was some serious drama. TV (ph) folks, Piers Morgan one-on-one with Robert Blake in a CNN exclusive. You will remember, I'm hoping you'll remember, this actor acquitted of murder back in 2005. That was because of the murder of his wife, Bonnie Lee Blakely.

He got away on that one. The trial was a huge headline forever, and there was a whole lot of speculation that he might have actually gotten away with murder criminally anyway. There was a civil trial. That didn't go so well. He (INAUDIBLE) responsible for her murder -- for her death, rather. Last night, that reclusive actor was feisty.


BANFIELD: That would be the word, "feisty," especially when he was questioned about the events surrounding his wife's death. You need to see this.


ROBERT BLAKE, ACTOR: Tell me where I'm lying because if you don't know I'm telling you the truth, then you must have a little scratch in the back of your head about where I'm lying.


BLAKE: Tell me where I'm lying.

MORGAN: I'm not saying you're lying.

BLAKE: But you say you don't know if I'm telling the truth. What the hell is the difference?

MORGAN: I'm saying I met you for, what, 20 minutes.

BLAKE: I don't care about that. You put me on the stand. I'm telling the truth. You're saying you're scratching your head.

MORGAN: Why are you being so defensive?

BLAKE: Because you just insulted me.

MORGAN: I didn't insult you.

BLAKE: Yes, you did. Nobody tells me I'm a liar.

MORGAN: I didn't call you a liar.

BLAKE: You said I might not be telling the truth, what the hell is the difference? I don't want to take this anyplace special. All I want -- OK, let me say it this way. My skin is a little bit thin.


BLAKE: Which is why I stay away from people mostly. I've never allowed anybody to ask me the questions that you're asking. I allowed you to do that because I trust you, and I would have assumed that you and that guy in your ear would trust me. And if you don't, then we better start talking about the little rascals.



VELSHI: There's even more of that. It was pretty good.


VELSHI: Little rascals obviously the fact that he was on our gang (INAUDIBLE). There he was.

BANFIELD: The thing is, for him -- look, he's out selling his book. He's got a book called "Tales of a Rascal," and that's why he's on a book tour. But to suggest I've (ph) never allowed anyone to ask questions, well, you can't accept an interview on primetime television with Piers Morgan and suggest that he's not allowed to ask questions. So, for that part alone, there's debate. There you have it.

VELSHI: It was an interesting interview.

BANFIELD: There you go. And again, years as a child star. The book -- you can read it for yourself if you want to see what you can see, but not a lot of answers in terms of what happened to Bonnie Lee Blakely.

VELSHI: Some good images to show you. Some real life tragedy and drama topping a list of the most powerful TV moments of the past 50 years. You'll remember, most of them, Nielsen and Sony Electronics conducted the survey.

The September 11th terrorist attacks topped the list, Hurricane Katrina, the O.J. Simpson verdict, the challenger space shuttle explosion, and the death of Osama Bin Laden.

BANFIELD: You know what I'm surprised is not in that top five?


BANFIELD: JFK assassination when Cronkite died.

VELSHI: Less exposure to TV. I don't know. That's a good question.

BANFIELD: I feel that's iconic.

VELSHI: It's a survey. So, maybe the people who remember it aren't as many of them. And maybe as a fresher images. Number six, by the way, was tied in two things, who was in the white bronco?

BANFIELD: Al Cowan, wasn't it? Was it Al Cowan?

VELSHI: It was, wasn't it?

BANFIELD: Al Cowan, yes. Gosh! That's amazing, because I have a terrible memory and just sort of come up with that out of the blue. That's how iconic --

VELSHI: I was actually surprised that that didn't rate higher than the verdict, but that's what people were saying about the most iconic images.

BANFIELD: That's number six?

VELSHI: Number six, yes.

BANFIELD: And what about walking on the moon? Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. The whole world was watching that.

VELSHI: Did you wake up in a different generation this morning?


VELSHI: Kennedy and walking down the moon.



VELSHI: And the World War II --

BANFIELD: But, boy, do I look good.


VELSHI: You are the best looking 70 I have seen in a long time.

BANFIELD: Oh, my mom's going to love that. All right. So, it's 40 minutes past. Let's move on. I'm really only 22. Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.'s office talking, coming clean, so to speak, but well, hold on. Trying to explain why he's been absent from Congress for over a month and raising a lot of questions in the process. We're going to get to the bottom of this in a moment.


BANFIELD: Welcome back, everybody. Nice to have you with us on EARLY START. Forty-four minutes now past 5:00 on the east coast. Illinois congressman, Jesse Jackson Jr., he's been MIA from Capital Hill for a couple of weeks now. And this morning, we may, may have an explanation for why.

His office is releasing a statement from the congressman's doctor saying that, quote, "he is receiving intense medical treatment as a resident -- at a residential facility for a mood disorder," end quote. Jackson took a leave of absence last month. The statement says that he's responding positively to treatment and expected to make a full recovery, but it doesn't go far enough according to some people.

And CNN's Ted Rowlands is live for us in Chicago this morning. Doesn't go far enough for some lawmakers, and I'm not talking about Republican lawmakers, I'm talking about his fellow congressman, fellow Democratic congressmen, who are saying, come on, we need more information here.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's interesting, Ashleigh. There seems to be two camps on this. One camp wants more information saying that constituents deserve more information, and the other camp is saying, hey, let the congressman deal with his medical issues.

And at the proper time, we'll find out what the specifics are, but we don't need to rush them. Take a listen to Steny Hoyer and Nancy Pelosi and you get a feel for both sides of this equation.


REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) MINORITY LEADER: The time is right when Mr. Jackson -- Congressman Jackson has an evaluation of what his situation is and I'm sure then he will share it with his constituents. Our prayers are with his family. I hope that we will hear soon that he's on the way to recovery.

REP. STENY HOYER, (D) MINORITY WHIP: I think Congressman Jackson and his office and his family would be well advised to advise the constituents of his condition. He's obviously facing a health problem.


ROWLANDS: Now, the question is the extent of that health problem. Mood disorders, there are many of them. They include depressive disorders, bipolar disorders, extreme highs, extreme lows. This doctor who wasn't named in the statement doesn't go into any specifics around that.

What we do know, Ashleigh, though, is that according to his office, he is not receiving rehab for drugs and alcohol which was previously reported. And he did not apparently commit suicide, that, according to Jesse Jackson Sr. Still though, a lot of questions as to exactly what is dealing with and how long he'll be out.

BANFIELD: Ted, I'm curious if the questions are, perhaps, more numerous because there is the speculation amongst some that there may have -- I don't know, this may have something to do with the possibility that he's being investigated, and certainly, he's being investigated by the House Ethics Committee for what ties he might have had to the whole Rod Blagojevich scandal, who's the governor of that state who was jailed for ostensibly trying to sell President Obama's vacated Senate seat.

And there is this talk that, perhaps, the congressman may have been part of this. So, does this have anything to do with this extensive leave?

ROWLANDS: Well, again, you know, you can add it to the list of things that possibly may have been causing him stress. I mean, there's -- the rumor mill's rampant. And here in Chicago, a lot of people believe that there could be an indictment coming his way, specifically because in what you referenced, a fund racer back during the Blago scam came out and told the federal government that Jesse Jackson Jr. tried to buy Barack Obama's Senate seat for $6 million.

He told investigators that he was recently indicted. The connection here might be that he is singing. And that there could be some legal trouble. But again, there are no specifics there. What we do know is that this is a very serious problem. Mental illness, in general, is, and he seems to be suffering from something here according to this statement that we received last night from this doctor.

BANFIELD: Well, one thing is for sure. If there's a current mental illness, you don't get to retroactively apply it to 2008. So, if there's any consideration that this could be setting the scene for a defense, this is now and that was then. Ted Rowlands in Chicago for us live. Thank you, sir.

VELSHI: Can you use that? I mean, can you set up a defense?

BANFIELD: Heck no.

VELSHI: That may be for a condition that wasn't in place when you were doing whatever you were doing.

BANFIELD: You need the records at the time.

VELSHI: Right.

BANFIELD: Make no mistake, if you're ever trying to suggest that you had some kind of mental incapacity for a crime that was committed, that mental incapacity had to exist during the committing --


VELSHI: -- diagnosed at that time. So, now I can say that --

BANFIELD: You don't get the paperwork. By the way, competency is a different issue.

VELSHI: Right.

BANFIELD: You want to go before a judge, they've got to determine first that you're OK --

VELSHI: You're competent to stand trial. Got it.

BANFIELD: You know what the weird thing is? You could be competent and legally insane.

VELSHI: Interesting.

BANFIELD: How do you like that?

VELSHI: This is what you bring, some great, great knowledge to us. And somebody else --

BANFIELD: I don't know a thing about money.


VELSHI: All this complimentary skills.


VELSHI: You're a very young looking 70, as you pointed out.

BANFIELD: Seventy-three.

VELSHI: I'm a very old looking 24.


VELSHI: It is 49 minutes after the hour. Christine is standing there wondering what on earth are you two talking about?



ROMANS: Let me give you the top stories here, folks.


ROMANS (voice-over): Joe Biden standing in for the president today at the NAACP Convention in Houston. The White House insists a scheduling conflict prevented president from being there even though his calendar appears to be open today. Mitt Romney, of course, roundly booed at the convention yesterday when he told the crowd he'd cut Obamacare if he wins the presidency.

More fallout from the hazing death of Florida A&M band member, Robert Champion. The university's president, James Ammons, is stepping down. His resignation comes as Champion's parents sue the school claiming the administrators failed to do enough to end student hazing. Robert Champion was beaten by members of the university's marching band during a hazing ritual on the band bus last fall. The suit also names the bus company and the bus driver.

A chilling text message in the case of the missing social worker from Queens, New York. Twenty-six-year-old (INAUDIBLE) was last seen Sunday night. She was on her way to work at a shelter in Brooklyn. Her sister said she received a text message from (INAUDIBLE) phone reading, "the girl with this phone is dead, was smiling."

A New Mexico woman has a message for all parents. Stop leaving your kids alone in a car for even just a second. Check out what happened in an Albuquerque strip mall parking lot. There you see Lezlie Bicknell in the white pick-up truck. She's opening the door to get out when she says she saw a young child behind the wheel of a mini-van.


LEZLIE BICKNELL, SAVED KIDS IN RUNAWAY VAN: There was a small child in the driver's seat. And I scanned the vehicle very quickly to see that she seemed to be alone and I literally watched her shift the gear into gear, and I knew what was going to happen.


ROMANS: Wow. The van starts rolling backward toward the street. She jumps from her truck to help, tries to pry the van door open, but it's locked. It turned out by sheer luck, Lezlie somehow knocked her own pick-up truck into neutral when she jumped out and her truck rolled behind the van and blocked it from barreling into oncoming traffic. Luckily, no one was hurt.

In your face. New close-up, hi-def, deafening video posted on YouTube of July 4th San Diego fireworks fail. A computer glitch caused all of the city's fireworks to go off once. Twenty minutes worth in just over, I think 20 seconds. A giant mushroom cloud nearly blowing away spectators, some running away. One saying best fireworks show ever. And everyone got home a lot earlier that night than they did last year.


VELSHI: I like fireworks, but there's never a moment when I don't think to myself, time is standing still. Like, this could have ended a few minutes ago.

ROMANS (on-camera): In so many city budgets, I mean, there are little towns across America who's ended their fireworks displays because they don't have the money. And then, you see all of that in San Diego go off in one second. Just like wow.

VELSHI: I don't know whether that's more fascinating.

BANFIELD: Or the dancing girl in the front

VELSHI: Yes. She went nuts about the whole thing, but that pickup truck where that woman stopped the mini-van and her truck. I mean, what an interesting -- lots of interesting video this morning, Christine.

ROMANS: Yes. You got it.

BANFIELD: Remarkable. All right. Thank you, Christine Romans. Appreciate that.

It's 52 minutes now past 5:00 on the east coast. So, what is it about Facebook and Skype that has a whole bunch of people making appointments with their plastic surgeons? You're going to find out in a moment.


VELSHI: All right. Time to look at what's trending.

BANFIELD: What are you smiling at?

VELSHI: I'm happy to be with you. I'm smiling. LeBron James of the world champion Miami Heat the big winner at last night's Espy Awards. He picked up three Espys, including Male Athlete of the Year. The King misses coronation, though. He was in Las Vegas with the U.S. Olympic basketball team.

BANFIELD: That is some success all in that one package right there. Holy cow.

All right. Plastic surgeons. They're reporting a huge increase in what they're calling facetime face lift. No joke. They say certain types of cosmetic surgeries are on the rise because of the pressure to look good in your Facebook.

VELSHI: Really? As opposed to the pressure to look good in real life?

BANFIELD: Real life. I know. You want to look good on facetime and Facebook, and apparently, that's got people rushing to the doctor.


BANFIELD: Apparently, technologies like Skype also on your iPhone causing this. One of the most popular procedures that the doctors are reporting, and this is a bit weird, chin implants. They're increasing apparently by 71 percent between 2010 and 2011.

VELSHI: I'm wondering if other people need extra parts of chins, because I have available extras.


VELSHI: Like is there a black market --


VELSHI: There's a little bit of chin I can donate.

BANFIELD: I love that. Well, they're also looking for chin lipo.

VELSHI: I can do that.

BANFIELD: They need to put those two people --

VELSHI: That's what you call a market. That's a market.


VELSHI: All right. I left my heart and my lunch in San Francisco.




VELSHI: Strap in, folks. This is extreme racer, Ken Block (ph), taking us on a high-speed, high flying, high-risk joyride in a video called "Ultimate Urban Playground San Francisco." The video has more than 10 million hits in four days. It was actually filmed in the empty streets of San Francisco over the course of four days featuring some incredible stunts, some precision driving, including some monster hill jumps like this one.

BANFIELD: Whoa. What days were traffic --

VELSHI: I don't know.

BANFIELD: Four days in San Francisco, broad daylight. VELSHI: This guy is doing circles around cable cars. I'm curious as to what four days? I imagine they weren't four consecutive days.


VELSHI: Last I checked, San Francisco's pretty busy.

BANFIELD: I met Mario Andretti, and I asked him if he'd ever gotten a speeding ticket.


BANFIELD: He said, he got pulled over one time. I'm not going to say how fast he was doing, but when the state trooper came in and asked him for his license and then read it.


BANFIELD: He said, oh, you know what, and gave him back the license. Sorry, Mr. Andretti. Can you imagine pulling Mario Andretti over for speeding? Be the guy to give him a ticket.

VELSHI: I would be, oh, you know what as well.



BANFIELD: All right. Talk about calm. In the face of danger, watch two drivers very carefully deal with -- divers, excuse me, dealing with a circling great white. How would you like to be in the water?

VELSHI: I wonder what it is about sharks. We've been talking about sharks every single day on this show.

BANFIELD: It's officially CNN shark week. Didn't you get the memo?


VELSHI: We're coming right back. It's 58 minutes after the hour.