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Interview with Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland; iPad Mini is Unveiled; New Book Published about Sandusky Scandal; Documentary Filmmaker Wins Award at Sundance; "Middle of Nowhere"; "Brooklyn Castle"

Aired October 24, 2012 - 08:00   ET



SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT.

The final push to win the battleground states, 13 days to go. President Obama, Governor Romney making their final appeals.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You can choose a foreign policy that's reckless and wrong, or you can choose one that is steady and strong.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: He calls his campaign slogan "Forward". I think forewarned is a better term.


O'BRIEN: We're going to talk this morning with Democratic Ohio governor, former governor, Ted Strickland, whose state is absolutely critical to winning the election.

Outrage over rape comments of a Republican Senate candidate at the center for the controversy for saying pregnancies cause bid rape are intended by God, it's been lighting up my twitter. We'll talk about that, straight ahead.

And bracing for the storm. Tropical storm Sandy barreling through the Caribbean. Is the U.S. in its path? We're going to talk about that.

Steve Jobs once ridiculed small tablets as tweeners. But now, Apple is out with its own version, iPad mini. Will the big gamble pay off?

It's Wednesday, October 24th. STARTING POINT begins right now.


O'BRIEN: Morning, morning, welcome, welcome.

Our team this morning, Roland Martin, host of Washington -- easy for me to say -- "Washington Watch with Roland Martin" is what I'm trying to say.

Dana Bash, CNN senior congressional correspondent.

Will Cain is columnist at

John Berman, host of "EARLY START" along with Zoraida Sambolin, and helping us out with the news this morning.

Thirteen days until Election Day and my guess is, until then, we're going to be talking about every single in politics.


O'BRIEN: How many voter can candidates reach in swing states is what it's really coming down to.

Republican Mitt Romney has campaign events scheduled in Reno, Nevada, and later in the afternoon or this evening, he's going to be in Cedar Rapids in Iowa.

President Barack Obama is going to need lots of caffeine. He's kicking off a two-day, round-the-clock tour through six states, rally in Davenport, Iowa, then he's off to Denver, Colorado, then to L.A. to tape "The Tonight Show", then to Vegas. The tour ends tomorrow in Ohio.

We are joined now by the former governor of this state, state of Ohio, Democrat Ted Strickland. He's a national co-chair for the Obama campaign.

Nice to see you, sir. Thank you for talking to us this morning. I want to start if I may --


O'BRIEN: I want to start with a tracking poll from ABC News. It looks like this between October 19th and 22nd. This is pre-third debate, I should mention.

Governor Romney is winning the tracking poll 49 percent to 48 percent. Of course, the sampling error is plus or minus three points.

If you look at the poll in Virginia, important state, as Dana was just telling us, Governor Romney winning there by one point, sampling error is plus or minus four points there. That's from the American Research Group, I should point out.

Let's go to "New York Times"/CBS Colorado, Quinnipiac, that one in Colorado, Governor Romney winning there 48 percent to President Obama's 47 percent, sampling here or there is plus or minus 3 percent.

In your own state, Ohio, likely choice, look at the numbers. President Obama now at 50 percent pre the debates, first two. He was at 53 percent. So, that's a drop of three points. Governor Romney is now at 45 percent. Pre the debates he was at 43 percent. That's a gain of two points. I could kind of go on and on. Some of these polls have dire numbers in there for you.

How worried are you about this? You're laughing.

STRICKLAND: I think we're in good shape in Ohio. Yes.

You know, early voting is going very well here in Ohio. The President is doing very well in the early voting. We believe we've got a small, but a very meaningful lead. I know of no polls that have ever had Governor Romney leading in Ohio.

The President has been here, will be here Thursday night, back in Cleveland. And there's a wonderful ground operation here for the Obama campaign. I've never seen anything like it.

I think Ohio will stay in the Obama camp. If Ohio does that, then it's going to be really tough for Mitt Romney to win this election.

O'BRIEN: And that's kind of -- that's a decent size if, I think, on that, sir.

Go ahead, Will.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I want to ask Dana the question. The Governor brings up early voting. We just heard recently that President Obama is going to go to Illinois, take time out of his campaign trip to go to Illinois to register an early voting ballot. Does that tell you that the campaign feels good about where they are in early voting process?



O'BRIEN: Hold on. We'll get to you one second, Governor. We'll get to you.

BASH: I actually want to hear what the Governor says. My perspective is that it's show and tell.

CAIN: That's what I'm wondering.

BASH: Remember, I'm voting. Everybody can do it right now. Everybody realizes, oh, well, especially in states like Ohio.

O'BRIEN: Governor Strickland, when you look at those numbers, one in five have voted. And as you pointed out, really good stats for the Democrats there, two-thirds roughly are Democratic votes, 63 percent.

STRICKLAND: Yes. That's right. I'm voting this afternoon, by the way. I urge all Ohioans to get out if they haven't voted to do this. I think this early voting could really make the difference in a state like Ohio, because it gives us time to really communicate with the voter, to urge them to get out, to talk to them about the importance of this vote.

And people are responding. Well over 800,000 people have already voted in Ohio. We expect that number to fellows dramatically during the next couple of weeks. And I think that could very well -- you know, when the final votes are counted, they're all clustered together. I think this early voting effort and the ground operation could really make the difference in Ohio.

As I -- I repeat myself, Soledad. I've never seen anything like this. It is a massive effort. It's well-organized, well coordinated and it's having an effect.

MARTIN: White working class women, that seems to be the target of President Obama as well as Mitt Romney.


MARTIN: And that's the group that seems to be going back and forth trying to decide which way they go. How does the President make the argument to white working middle class women that I'm your guy, when if you look at the numbers, they say Mitt Romney is better on the economy? For the President, the polls, better for fighting for the middle class. That seems to be the tossup.

STRICKLAND: Well, a lot of middle class folks in Ohio that Mitt Romney talked so disparagingly about in that videotape. And especially women have a high stake in this election. And, quite frankly, Mitt Romney has yet to acknowledge that he would support equal pay for equal work. I think that issue -- that single issue should really be the determining factor in whether or not women feel like they can trust this guy.

If he's not willing to say you deserve equal pay for equal work then how can they trust him in the other matter that may affect their lives?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Governor, it's John Berman here. The Obama campaign just released a 19-page booklet called blueprint for America's future. This came out two weeks before Election Day. Pretty late to release a blueprint for the future?

STRICKLAND: Well, a new economic patriotism. That's exactly what this president is stressing -- jobs in America, bringing jobs from offshore back to our shore, giving incentives to companies that will invest and create jobs here rather than offshore.

And I think what we're seeing in this pamphlet that has recently been made available to us is a vision for what the President wants to do going forward: advanced energy, education, infrastructure, investments in critical research. Those are the things that are going to move this country forward.

And I think it's a very doable, practical and the President's math adds up, unlike Mitt Romney's math. The President's math --

(CROSSTALK) BERMAN: -- response to criticism that has come not just from the Republicans, but also some people in the media that the President has not been clear about what his plans are, going forward?

STRICKLAND: Well, I think the President has been clear. But I think what we're seeing in this pamphlet is just an attempt to pull those ideas together and to present them in an organized ma manner, in an organized fashion.

But the President has been talking about advanced energy since the day he took office. He's been talking about infrastructure. He certainly has been talking about making sure we have the best education system in the world. These are things the President has continuously talked about and put before the American people.

And those who say he has no agenda for the future are just simply wrong or haven't been paying attention. But Ohio understands that this president has stood up for us, and I believe Ohio is going to stand up for him. The auto industry bailout or rescue -- we like to use the word rescue, because it was really more of a rescue than a bailout and the infrastructure. You know, there are important construction jobs under way in Ohio right now, major construction jobs that are being partially financed by the stimulus bill.

And so, Ohioans recognize that our unemployment is now 7 percent. That's due in large part to what this president has done in terms of the auto industry and the stimulus bill that has enabled us to continue to build our infrastructure.

We feel optimistic and hopeful in Ohio and we're going to reward the President for what he has done for us.

O'BRIEN: Ted Strickland is a former governor of Ohio. Nice to see you, sir. Thank you for talking with us.

STRICKLAND: Hey, thank you. Thanks for having me.

O'BRIEN: It's our pleasure. We hope to have him back over the next 13 days, of course, because, certainly, Ohio is going to be a critical state.

As you've been pointing out, Dana, it will be one to watch. They're hopeful that those numbers will hold out for them. And optimism that he talked about. That's the message they're certainly spinning.

All right. John has got an update on the other stories making news. What do you got?

BERMAN: Thanks, Soledad.

No comment from the Obama administration so far about the latest information from last month's deadly assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. According to emails obtained by CNN, the White House and State Department were informed a militant Islamist group claimed credit for the attack two hours after it began. U.S. diplomats were informing officials in Washington about the unfolding assault while it was happening.

California surfer killed in a shark attack. The victim was attacked yesterday while surfing with friends off the coast of Surf Beach. That's near Vandenberg Air Force Base. Authorities says he was bitten by the shark in the upper torso. Friends tried to save him but they couldn't.

Tropical storm Sandy is strengthening and approaching Jamaica, is expected to become a hurricane as it bears down on the island later today. A hurricane warning is in effect there and some provinces in central and eastern Cuba as well.

Later this morning, Montego Bay Airport is expected to close. Kingston Airport closed last night. Tropical storm warning is now in effect for the northwestern Bahamas and a tropical storm watch has been issued for southeastern Florida and the Northern Keys.

A data breach at Barnes & Noble to tell you about this morning. The bookseller says credit card information from 63 stores is at risk. The breach was through pin devices in stores in nine different states -- California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. So not all swing states.

Barnes & Noble is advising customers to change their debit card pin numbers and monitor their bank account activity very closely.

The Detroit Tigers are the favorites entering the game one of the World Series against the San Francisco Giants tonight. Tigers give the ball to Justin Verlander, the Detroit ace who has a 100-mile-per- hour fastball, pretty mean curve and changeup also. He surrendered just two runs in three post season starts this fall.

The giants now 6-0.

O'BRIEN: He's on fire. That annoys me.

BERMAN: He's really good.


BERMAN: The Giants are 6-0 in the postseason when facing elimination. They're gong to send lefty Barry Zito to the hill. Has a nice curveball, Mr. Zito does.

First pitch to the Fall Classis is scheduled 8:00 Eastern tonight.

MARTIN: Stunning Zito open the game.

BERMAN: Such a comeback for him. He's such -- that guy was left for dead. Now he's back, pitching game one of the series.


BASH: America loves a comeback.

O'BRIEN: Yes, we do.

Ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, Steve Jobs once ridiculed small tablets as tweeners. But now, Apple is out with its own version, the iPad mini. Will that gamble pay off? We're going to talk to New York editor of "Wired" magazine, straight ahead.


O'BRIEN: Is smaller better? Well, Apple is certainly hoping so. It unveiled its iPad Mini yesterday. Apple's new device has a 7.9 inch screen, front and rear cameras, weighs less than a pound. Starts, though, at $329. It ain't cheap. The comparisons to other smaller competitors is already heating up. Here to give us his take on the new iPad Mini is the New York editor of "Wired" magazine, Jason Tanz. It's nice to have you with us.

JASON TANZ, NY EDITOR, "WIRED": Thanks for having me.

O'BRIEN: So it's getting, like, meh reviews. Why?

TANZ: Well, there are a couple of reasons. The big reason is the price, right? You know, for $200, you can get a Nexus 7, you can get a Kindle Fire, you know, with similar specs. So you're really paying an Apple premium here, which Apple customers can be used to. The computers are usually more expensive. But the iPads have been very price competitive. This is really the first iPad model that's significantly more expensive than similar models.

O'BRIEN: Why do you think? I always feel with Apple it's always like there's something at work when they do that. Why?

TANZ: Well, one of the reasons is because Amazon, for instance, sells its 7 inch tablet at a loss. It's a loss meter (ph) for them. They're trying to sell books; they're trying to sell content. So they're willing to take a hit on the actual hardware. Apple does not do that. Apple doesn't take a hit on the hardware.

MARTIN: What I can't understand though, 7.9, the other tablets are 7 inches. This is the iPad 2. It's not far from it. So you're sitting here going if I'm going to do the pad, just get the extra couple of inches, pay 50 more bucks, if you will, and move on, versus that. And also the resolution is not as sharp on the iPad Mini as well.

TANZ: Right, right. I mean there isn't the strongest use case and Apple didn't really come out - normally, when they introduce a new product, they'll say look at all the new things you can do and thanks to this device you'll be able to do this where you couldn't do it before. They didn't really even try to make that case yesterday. They said here it is.


CAIN: What does the size do? It's smaller. I mean, I haven't held it. I assume you have. Can you fit it in your pocket, carry it around?

TANZ: Not exactly the pocket. Maybe if you have enormous pockets.

MARTIN: Get the saggy pants.

TANZ: Yes, yes. You can put it in a handbag, right? A small handbag, a clutch.


MARTIN: No, he has a man bag. He's got one.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": This is about Apple wanting a piece of the action, right? A piece of this.

TANZ: Right, that's right. Well, and it's actually interestingly, it's sort of the first kind of defensive play we've seen from Apple in a while. This is the first time that there was another product that Apple said, OK, we've got to follow these guys and get in at this size, at this form factor. You know, for the last however many years, Apple has been the one that said here is the new device. It's going to look like this, it's going to work like this. This is the first time they're kind of playing catch-up.

O'BRIEN: OK, so how about the maybe the focus is educational use, right? Because kids, my kids in their school, they give out iPads and they're giant and they break a lot and they wrap them in these massive cases and the kids have textbooks. I got to tell you, if this could do the same thing for my kids at under a pound, I think that would be an amazing thing. They could do all their homework on their iPad. They carry - I think that would be great. Is that a use?

TANZ: I think the best comparison, which you just made, is between the iPad Mini and regular iPad. I think if you're saying I want an iPad, which one should I get? Maybe, you know, it's $70 cheaper than the iPad 2, but $170 cheaper than the new iPad 4 they just announced yesterday. So maybe in that case you say, all right, I'd rather get a cheaper iPad and still have that iPad experience. But if you're looking at, you know, I want a 7 inch tablet, I don't really care about it being Apple or anybody else, that may be a harder sell.

MARTIN: On the education front, the reality is folks are not buying them really for education. It's adult users. I mean, I call these adult toys, if you will.

O'BRIEN: No, I don't think so.

CAIN: You obviously don't have a 4-year-old.

MARTIN: Excuse me. I bought multiple iPads for nine nieces and four nephews but my point is that's the market you're still targeting because that's the price point as well.

TANZ: Well, Apple's made a lot of talk about making inroads into the education market, about using iPads as sort of textbook replacements eventually. I know they work with a lot of textbook publishers. So I do think that is something that they're trying to explore and trying to develop. BASH: We have conversations about that all the time at our school. I'm telling you.


BERMAN: What about Steve Jobs? Steve Jobs was not a big fan of this.

TANZ: You know, it's hard to say. Steve Jobs did refer to them as tweeners, these not quite iPhones, they're not quite laptops. But there's a history of Steve Jobs talking trash, let's say, about new devices, that they would never build a television, for instance. You find, oh, they were kind of working on that the whole time.

BERMAN: Is this a sign, though, of some kind a corporate shift since his death?

TANZ: I don't want to read those kind of tea leaves. I'm not sure. It's possible that they've been working on this before he got sick. You don't really know. I wouldn't say it's a great turning away from his legacy in building this.

O'BRIEN: Jason Tanz, the New York editor for "Wired" magazine. It's nice to have you with us. We appreciate it.

TANZ: Thanks for having me.

O'BRIEN: You bet.

Ahead this morning, here's a young man who's growing his hair for a good cause. School says, though, this ponytail right there, impressive? Well, it's against school policy. Should they bend the rules? It's our tough call and it's up next.


O'BRIEN: OK so I think is an interesting tough call today. Ohio teenager is getting in trouble at school because of his long hair. H's growing it with the best intentions. He's 17 years old, his name is Zachary Aufderhide and he's trying to get this ponytail right there long enough so that he can donate it to Locks of Love, which provides wigs to kids who've lost their hair because of medical issues. They require that that hair is at least 10 inches long, you know, you have to cut off your ponytail. So Zachary is an inch away from his goal, 10 inches. The Canton Ohio School Board says long hair violates the school dress code and they will not grant him an exemption. So when he didn't cut his hair, he was punished with a two-day in-school suspension.


MARTIN: One word: stupid. Please show me how growing your hair somehow is going to interfere with an educational process?

O'BRIEN: OK, Next?

BASH: You know, I'm kind of -- tend to subscribe to the rules are meant to be broken.

O'BRIEN: Really? Look what we're learning about Dana. Really?


BASH: But especially in cases like this. I mean, come on. If it's true that he's not just like wanting to grow a ponytail and using this as an excuse, let him do it. Who cares?

CAIN: OK, we can debate whether or not the rule is stupid. That's one debate. The other question is, is applying the rule stupid? Applying it is not stupid.

O'BRIEN: Oh god, we agree. I agree with Will Cain this morning, oh my god.

CAIN: Because he wants to grow it for Locks of Love. We can come up with 100 different great reasons to break a rule, but he broke the rule.

O'BRIEN: I agree.

CAIN: So have a debate about changing the rule but I'm sorry, buddy, you got to cut your hair, because the rule say you can't grow it that long.


O'BRIEN: Wait, I would also say maybe he doesn't have to cut his hair, right? He got a two-day suspension. It looks like he served it. Grow your hair. When you're ready, cut it off. You have paid the price for breaking the rule. That was a dress code rule. Everybody should be happy, right?

MARTIN: So what's next? No afros, no cornrows, no braids, whatever. So who's the person --

O'BRIEN: You've suddenly veered --

MARTIN: No, no, no. Who is the person deciding to be the hair police?

O'BRIEN: I don't think he's going to get an afro, that guy. He doesn't look like he could grow an afro.

MARTIN: Who's being the hair police?

BASH: I don't think so.

O'BRIEN: OK, go ahead, John.

BERMAN: No, being that I have nothing much to add here. I'm not particularly comfortable with telling people how to grow their hair. I think you all have very nice hair. I don't want to tell you how to style it.

MARTIN: We know Will loves his hair. He loves to flip it and you know.



O'BRIEN: I think it's great. He's going to cut it off and it will all be settled and it will go back to whatever.

MARTIN: Idiotic rule. Idiotic.

O'BRIEN: Ahead on STARTING POINT, despite earning the same degree and doing the same work to get the job, the numbers still show women earn less than men at work. By how much? Might shock you or might just shock me and Dana. We're going to talk about that.

Plus he's breaking his silence, Victim No. 1 in the Jerry Sandusky case has a new book out. We've got some details about his firsthand account. That's coming up next.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. Let's get right to John Berman for a look at the day's top stories. What're you starting with?

BERMAN: Thanks, Soledad. New video of President Obama boarding air force one this morning. He is in Davenport, Iowa is his destination, battleground states with a stop at "The Tonight Show" in Los Angeles thrown in the middle. Mitt Romney picks up campaign events in Nevada and Iowa.

Convicted murderer Michael Schiff will be pleading for his freedom when he goes before a parole board in Connecticut today. The nephew of Robert and Ethel Kennedy have served 10 years of a 20-year sentence for the 1975 bludgeoning death of his teenage neighbor, Martha Moxley.

Robert Kennedy's son on trial in suburban New York. Three nurses testifying yesterday they were trying to protect Douglas Kennedy's newborn baby last January when they tried to take the infant outside the hospital. Kennedy is facing harassment and child endangerment charges for allegedly kicking one nurse and twisting the arm of another when they attempted to stop him.

A new reality show featuring Whitney Houston's family on lifetime. It's called "The Houstons -- On Our Own.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What her mother would want for her.


BERMAN: The show stars the late singer's daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown, her grandmother, Cissy Houston, and aunt Pat Houston, who was also Whitney Houston's manager. A new study by the American Association of Women says among recent college graduates full-time working women earn 82 percent of what their male peers do. One year after college, average salary for men is $42,918, for women, $35,296, nearly an $8,000 a year difference.

O'BRIEN: Wow! What do you think that's from?

BASH: If you look at the study, I was reading about this. First of all they said part of the issue is that women aren't going into more lucrative jobs, like engineering, which is a whole new issue that girls need to be better educated and pushed -- that should be opened up to them more frequently. But also women just aren't as active negotiating their salaries as men are, which I think is true.

CAIN: So what you're are talking about, Dana, when you control for major and degree and number of hours work, it's still a seven percent difference men and women. What accounts for that? Some of it, as you said, maybe negotiating, and some of it, is there gender discrimination?

O'BRIEN: I've seen evidence of both. A ton of women who will take whatever the first offer is and don't negotiate at all and don't necessarily know their value and women, I don't think, like to talk about how much money they're getting paid.

BERMAN: Absolutely.

O'BRIEN: There's hard to get a comparison. But also to this day it was stunning to me. Listen, he's got a family. You're the wife. I've heard that many times. He's got a family. He needs to get paid a little bit more.

CAIN: That doesn't explain it out of college, though, necessarily.

O'BRIEN: But sometimes out of it's you're going to go have a kid. We don't need to invest all this money in you. The guy will have a long track record. I heard that.

CAIN: Really?

O'BRIEN: Yes. I've heard that in the last three weeks.

BASH: I think it's important for women, especially girls coming out of college, to know that they can talk about this and they should talk about this, because I definitely think it is a gender thing, that women just don't --


ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: For all the men that have sisters, go out there and be mercenaries. I have nine nieces. They will be tough negotiators.

O'BRIEN: That scares me.

MARTIN: It scares the employer. O'BRIEN: This new chapter that's unfolding now in the Jerry Sandusky case, a firsthand account from a young man previously known only as victim number one now public in a new book that's coming out this week called "Silent No More" written with the help of his mom and his psychologist. And 18-year-old Aaron Fisher, that's his name, he recalls years of abuse before he finally spoke out against the disgraced former Penn State coach. He spoke out in an interview with ABC.


AARON FISHER, SANDUSKY VICTIM NUMBER ONE: Probably there are still people out there that don't believe that Jerry Sandusky can do this and they might think I'm a horrible person for it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know that you're good?

FISHER: I do. But the emotions and effects of other people and actions of other people are kind of shying me away from that.


O'BRIEN: Sara Ganim is a CNN contributor, a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter with the "Patriot News," helped to first break the Penn State scandal story and is referenced in this new book several times. Sara, nice to have you back with us. We certainly appreciate it. Give me your initial gut take on it.

SARA GANIM, REPORTER, "PATRIOT NEWS": My initial gut take, Soledad, the first few chapters was that from the beginning I've been seeing victims unrelated to this case really showing that they were inspired by victim one, by Aaron Fisher coming forward, launching this investigation and openly talking about what happened to him and really I've seen him come a long way in the last three years of what he was willing to say publicly and how much he was willing to go into detail even at the trial, he was really emotional on the stand. So it was really inspiring to read how open he was about his abuse. Not just about the abuse, about his struggles to get to the point where he is, where he could actually write a book with his face on the cover of it.

And I think that this book and what he says in the book will continue to do just that. And it is inspire other victims who are silent and who are unwilling to come forward to maybe start speaking about this. We've seen that do a great deal of good over the last year.

O'BRIEN: I would imagine so. A lot of the book is not written by him. I think 21 of the 30 chapters really are written by other people, much of it by his psychologist, Michael Gillam. You have said that there are some inconsistencies in Mr. Gillam's recounting of the story. Can you walk us through some of those?

GANIM: Absolutely. That was kind of the disappointment for me, that 21 of the 30 chapters are written by the psychologist and most of it is just his speculation about -- based on his experience, walking through the investigation with Aaron. But it's all speculation about why the investigation took three years. And, of course, this has been a huge topic of conversation in Pennsylvania, whether or not the Governor, who was running for election at the time and was the attorney general prosecuting this case, whether or not he delayed the investigation until after he was elected governor, didn't want to charge Sandusky over fear of this being a hot topic. A lot of the book is devoted to that topic.

And I thought, you know, this is a guy that was right there, who witnessed a lot of conversations. And, you know, this is fascinating, what he has to say. But the problem with it was he lost a lot of credibility for me, because there are a lot of things that over the last year and beyond have been public information that he got wrong in the book. Now, this came out only about four months after the verdict. So it makes me wonder a little bit as a reporter if they were rushing to get it out quickly. I don't know. I did talk with Mike Gillam yesterday and he said that he believed there were fact checkers, but I haven't heard back from the publishing company.

O'BRIEN: I don't think it would be a big surprise if they're trying to get it out as fast as they possibly could, tied to the case, of course.

Six chapters Fisher wrote on his own. I thought he wrote very emotionally when he was talking about when he first heard about Sandusky's conviction. I'm going to read a little bit. He said "I didn't pump my fist in the air or let out a cheer. Instead I pulled my car on to the shoulder of the highway. I couldn't see the road in front of me anymore through the tears. I just put my head down on the steering wheel and cried. Happy tears, but I was crying." You know, I just thought -- I know he had a lot of help with this, but that, to me, seemed very genuine and emotional. I thought a lot of his personality came out in this.

GANIM: Absolutely. You know, this is a kid who reported this in late 2008 and kind of watched for three years as people made promises, he'll be arrested this month. He'll be arrested this summer. He'll be arrested next week. And it didn't happen over and over again. In the book he writes there was a point where they went to the FBI, the family went to the FBI, trying to get some help, thinking maybe the federal investigators could help them, but couldn't. Then they considered actually going to the media and getting their story out that way because they didn't have faith he was going to be arrested.

That night of the verdict, shortly after that conversation that he writes about, I talked to his mom and she said this is just a big relief. We really had no idea until this moment one way or another, we thought -- you know, we had lost so much faith and trust in people, that it could go either way. So I think that's what you're seeing in those words, is that accumulation of losing a lot of trust and finally seeing the verdict.

O'BRIEN: Sarah Gannon, she's a reporter for the "Patriot News." Thanks for talking with us this morning. She won a Pulitzer Prize. And she's wearing the same color I am today.

(CROSSTALK) O'BRIEN: And she won -- maybe I'm dressing like her, actually. I'll change that.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, imagine a junior high school where the geeks rule, chess players are cool. It is the subject of a new documentary called "Brooklyn Castle." We'll talk with the director and one of the students in the film coming up in a moment.


O'BRIEN: For the first time ever an African-American woman is the winner of the director award at the Sundance festival. "Duvernay's" film "The Middle of Nowhere" hit theaters this week. It's the gripping story of a wife whose world is shattered when her husband is sent off to prison. Here is the story of how she got there.


AVA DUVERNAY, FILMMAKER: My name is Ava Duvernay, and I'm a black woman filmmaker.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't believe it. Ten months early.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Great news. Baby, you've got everything going for you. You're coming home.

DUVERNAY: At this point I've made firms that I've written. It takes a lot to make a film. It's a lot of brain power, a lot of heart. A lot of your spirit goes into these films, the framing of the shots in my films, the choices of music, the cadence and rhythm of the editing. All of that, I'm very aware, is coming through who I am. And I'm a sister. So, I wear that very proudly.

I made a career change from publicist to filmmaker. I had a really great job as a publicist. I would be on these film sets in pain, wanting to make my own. I would be asked to work on movies that were caricatures of us, as women of color. So for me it was just really about pushing through all of that fear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is like blowing my mind.

DUVERNAY: I think the only thing that drove me was this just idea of forward moving, never stay still. I think there's something very powerful and something amazing to be said for momentum.

My next film "Middle of Nowhere" we are pushing that out and excited about the life that it's having since we debuted at Sundance. The fact that it's touching people and changing things, so I'm really excited about that right now.

I think it's really been a beautiful journey. It's a hit in the bat (ph). It's all gotten me to where I am right now, which is a place that feels really beautiful and supportive and comfortable and fulfilled.


O'BRIEN: "WHO IS BLACK IN AMERICA", is being black determined by the color of your skin, by your family or what society says or something else all together? We're going to examine that provocative question about skin color, discrimination and race in my upcoming documentary. "WHO IS BLACK IN AMERICA?" That's "BLACK IN AMERICA 5", by the way. That's Sunday December 9th at 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.

MARTIN: It's a great topic.

O'BRIEN: I know.

MARTIN: And the (inaudible) who passed for white their entire life in Louisiana.

O'BRIEN: So many interesting stories on both sides of that color line.


O'BRIEN: They are called the Yankees of chess. Ahead a new documentary examines a junior high school where chess kids are the cool kids. We're going to meet the director and one of the students in that movie just ahead.


BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, a quick check of the headlines right now. The city of Auburn Hills, Michigan is working with the U.S. Postal Service to figure out why about -- 18 -- about 800 rather absentee ballots never reached their intended recipients. The officials say they are not concerned about election fraud because the missing ballots are individually numbered for security purposes.

There is a run on Big Bird costumes for Halloween. The company licensed to sell Big Bird get-ups says demand has been so great the entire stock has sold out. Following Mitt Romney's mention of Big Bird in the Presidential debate earlier this month Google searches for the phrase "Big Bird costume" soared 600 percent.

All right, a very big congratulations to Soledad. Last night her foundation the Soledad O'Brien and Brad Raymond Foundation was honored at New York Women's Foundation 25th anniversary event. So congratulations to you.

O'BRIEN: Where I deserve real congratulations is my children did not misbehave. They were on the stage for about four minutes. It all went fine.

MARTIN: You get credit for that and not them?

O'BRIEN: Yes I get credit for that and Brad. That's called being --

BASH: Good parenting.

O'BRIEN: Yes, good parenting.

MARTIN: And congratulations to you and Brad.

O'BRIEN: You will be in big trouble if you make a scene at this event. Thank you. Thank you.

All right, I want to introduce to you a very special junior high school in Brooklyn, New York, where the geeks kind of rule and the nerds are considered very cool. It's IS 318, it's known around the United States as the Yankees of chess. The school's chess team has won 26 national titles, that's more any other middle school in the country. And this year the school won first place in the National High School competition.

A new documentary on IS 318 chess team it's called "Brooklyn Castle". It's playing in New York theaters right now it will open on Friday in Los Angeles.

The director is Katie Dellamaggiore and one of the students featured in this film is Alex Paredes. He is one of the best players in the nation. It's nice to have you both with us.


O'BRIEN: Alex I'm going to start with you if I can. You were when they were shooting, Katie was shooting this, you were the number two ranked junior high school player in the United States. Before you got to school -- before you were at IS 318, how much chess did you play? Or what did you know about chess?

ALEX PAREDES, FEATURED IN "BROOKLYN CASTLE": Well in elementary school I had a program, I had chess as a class. I would have it one day a week. And my coach, Eric Hutchens, he first started working with me when I was in first grade. And just the communication between the student and teacher was just amazing there. And turned out he lived a block away from me. So it was just -- he became part of my family. So it became a subject more easier to grasp upon.

O'BRIEN: So Katie, tell me about why you felt this was a great subject for a documentary? Part of the reason, I know, is because of the stunning poverty of this school.

DELLAMAGGIORE: Yes. When I discovered that 318 has the best junior high chess program in the nation, that was surprising to me. I'm from Brooklyn. I didn't know that. The school does have a high percentage of poverty. It's a title one school so 70 percent of kids are from families below the poverty level.

And I just thought this is a story a lot of people probably don't know about. Beyond just the chess program, at the school there are tons of after-school programs that are doing really incredible things for the student body. It just seemed like this is like a little a gem of a school in a neighborhood, doing things that people -- you know doing unexpected, positive things. I thought this is a positive example of public education that people might want to hear about.

O'BRIEN: And confronts I think those expectations that many people have about kids in poverty. I think people think, you know, poor kids, they can't be successful, certainly, at chess. And poor kids, they can't necessarily be smart kids.

I think people have a lot of stereotypical misconceptions about poverty and children.

MARTIN: This is a perfect example of having chess, whether it's drama, whether it is arts, and the value it brings to the education process. We often talk about just reading, writing, arithmetic, social studies -- those things. This is also valuable to education.


O'BRIEN: Do you see that, Alex?

PAREDES: Clearly because I mean personally for me it's helped me do much better in school. It doesn't have to be just through chess. I see it in kids every day in my school. It doesn't have to be through chess. They can do it through art, music, dance -- just these extracurricular activities help these kids progress.

CAIN: So, Soledad said there are certain stereotypes that accompany the concept of poverty. Let me ask you this. Aren't there certain stereotypes that accompany chess? They call you a nerd. Is it true? Are the people playing chess -- are you nerds, dorks, geeks or is that a misconception?

PAREDES: Well, I feel that in the film, the principal, Fred Rubino, he says that usually people who play chess are seen as a social pariah which no one wants to deal with but in reality, it's nothing like that. I mean personally chess is praised for me because they see it as a great success and not that many kids play chess, which is a shame. But it's just an amazing feeling to know that you do something that will eventually help you in the future and benefit you.

CAIN: Being smart was always cool, right. And chess is a manifestation of being smart of being someone, strategy wise with this. I don't see how it's uncool.


BASH: In some schools it's not cool. To be honest where I went to school, I went to a public school in New Jersey. And it wasn't cool to be smart.

O'BRIEN: Is the culture different at IS 318? Is being a chess master really cool in ways that in other schools it would not be?

BERMAN: You're big man on campus, huh?

MARTIN: That's the deal. Big man on campus. That's it.

DELLAMAGGIORE: I think the school does a good job of celebrating chess and, like you said, being smart. Like when you walk into the school, there's all banners and trophies covering the hallways. And it's the chess banners, you know, and they're right there with the sports teams and I think the school creates that culture. And so it makes it cool to take a different path and do something a little different.

O'BRIEN: The big central conflict in your film is about budget cuts. I want to play a little clip about what was happening at the school.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The school has been hit hard by the budget cuts. And people down here in Brooklyn have disagreed with the budget cuts that has affected the New York City school system.

You guys are going to write to Lentol. You guys are going to write to Lopez. This is your opportunity to have your voice heard.


O'BRIEN: Talk to me about how that played out in your film.

DELLAMAGGIORE: Yes. So when we started making the film, the school didn't have the kind of budget problems that it has that you see in the movie. I only found out a couple of months into shooting that the school had been hit with really bad budget cuts and that perhaps the chess team didn't have enough money to go to their national competitions. That just didn't seem fair to me and it seems like obviously a story point that we wanted to pursue because it was happening in schools all across the nation.

And so, you know, throughout the course of the film we follow the team kind of fight for funding and we follow the school kind of come together and rally around this cause because it's really important, you know, that this team that is the best in the nation is working so hard, be able to compete at the highest level.

O'BRIEN: I don't want to give away the ending but clearly, you were able to go, right?

BASH: Spoiler alert.


MARTIN: I don't want to speed over what you just said earlier when you said, look, they put them on par with sports teams. That's part of the problem I think with these schools. We celebrate football and basketball but we don't celebrate the academic achievement. I think make them academic all-stars.

O'BRIEN: Here on "STARTING POINT" we celebrate the academic achievement. Congratulations to you. Nice to have you with us. "Brooklyn Castle."


MARTIN: Big man on campus.

O'BRIEN: "Brooklyn Castle" is the name of the documentary. It's going to open on Friday in L.A.

Congratulations. Thank you so much.

"End Point" is up next everybody. Back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: Dana Bash is going to kick off our "End Point" this morning.

BASH: Well, I'm going to actually say what we were just talking about during the break, which is that Will and Roland were discussing the e- mails that Elliott (inaudible) reported on this morning from the first e-mails talking about the fact that it was potentially terrorism in Libya.

O'BRIEN: Congressman (inaudible) said that this morning.

Interesting. But there's still so much more confusion when you look at the "Wall Street Journal" and the "L.A. Times". We're going to talk about that as the week continues.

We are out of time. We're going to send it right to "CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello. It begins right now. Hey Carol, good morning.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: I appreciate that. Thank you Soledad.