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Rice Meeting with Critics About Benghazi; Actor Calls His Hit Comedy "Filth"; Obama Meets with Business Owners; Ndamukong Suh Not Suspended

Aired November 27, 2012 - 09:30   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you very much for being with us. It's 30 minutes past the hour.

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, is on Capitol Hill right now for a meeting with three of her biggest critics. She's been mentioned as the possible successor to Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. But first, Rice has to address her initial handling of the Benghazi attacks that, as you know, killed four Americans.

So, what is she likely to say to Senators Lindsey Graham, Kelly Ayotte and John McCain?

Let's talk about this with our senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash and CNN contributors -- Democratic strategist Maria Cardona and Republican strategist Ana Navarro.

Do we have Dana's microphone problem worked out? Here's walking into the meeting.


COSTELLO: Oh, good.

So, Dana, we caught McCain before he headed into this meeting right here. You heard what he had to say. What do you think?

BASH: I think this is going to be a real test of Susan Rice's diplomatic skills, that's what I think, because these are three Republican senators who, of course, have been among her harshest critics. I can tell you -- I'll play a sound bite. He -- John McCain has definitely softened his rhetoric when it comes to Susan Rice but he has not when it comes to the administration and Benghazi in general.

Listen to what he told our Eric Fiegel exclusively this morning.


ERIC FIEGEL, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: What do you have to learn about Benghazi? Do you think there's still unanswered questions? SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: About 50 unanswered questions, including why the president would continue to say two weeks later that there was a hateful video that sparked a spontaneous demonstration, why the FBI investigators questioned people who were survivors of the consulate who told them there was no demonstration, and that was not -- we learned by Ambassador Rice and not learned by the president.

FIEGEL: Do you put more blame on the president or Ms. Rice?

MCCAIN: The president is the one that's ultimately responsible.


BASH: So that was all about the president. That's what John McCain is emphasizing right now.

But here is what we understand they're really going to press Susan Rice on behind closed doors, Carol. And that is we know after -- the big issue has been after the attack in September, on the Sunday shows, Susan Rice did not mention the fact that there was a possibility that an al Qaeda affiliate was behind the attack.

In the past two weeks, we were told by the intelligence community the reason is because they wanted that to remain classified. They didn't want it to be out there because they didn't want to compromise sources and methods.

What's going to happen behind closed doors this morning and probably starting as we speak is the acting CIA director is going with Susan Rice to talk about why she didn't mention it, because what really gets these Republicans going is not only that she didn't mention it, but that she went beyond that and said during the course of these interviews that the Obama administration has decimated al Qaeda.

The point these Republican senators have been making is that that was a political statement because that served the White House well, to say that kind of thing before the election, because this was a big part of the president's campaign.

COSTELLO: Interesting.

BASH: That he got rid of bin Laden.

So, that is going to be the question: did she know the classified information? And if so, why did she say that publicly about al Qaeda when she may not have been able to talk about al Qaeda with regard to this attack, which she might have known about it? Of course, she was misleading.

COSTELLO: OK. So, let's go to Ana Navarro, our Republican strategist.

So McCain said Rice asked for this meeting. In light of what Dana just said, how can Rice win him over?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Look, I don't think it's about Rice winning him over. I don't think this is about Susan Rice as much as it is about the unanswered questions of Benghazi.

And we must understand something. There's very little leverage that senators in the minority have. One of the few things they can do is really make nominations and confirmations difficult. It's part of our system of checks and balances. I've seen it happen with Democrats and Republicans in the past.

There are unanswered questions. I think John McCain, Lindsay Graham, Kelly Ayotte understand it was not Susan Rice's responsibility. But she was the one -- even though she had nothing to do with it, the administration sent her out to parrot talking points that were inaccurate.

This is what we know: there were breaches of security, there were pleas for help that went unanswered, there were breaches of protocol and there are four dead Americans that were representing all of us.

What McCain wants, what Lindsey Graham wants is answers. And I think today is a good path, a good step towards getting some answers and it's a step in the right direction.

COSTELLO: So, Maria Cardona, our Democratic strategist, we just had an election. People want Democrats and Republicans to get along. Susan Rice clearly is embattled. She's the source of controversy.

So, should President Obama still nominate her as his secretary of state?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think he should, if that's what he believes is the best thing for the country. Look, she has been an outstanding public servant both at the U.N. and serving under the Clinton administration in a national security role. There's no question about that.

And I think what -- I actually applaud Susan Rice for going to these meetings. She asked for them when Senator McCain actually gave her the opening, as he softened his criticism of her. And so I think what these meetings will do and what they should do -- and I agree with Ana on this. There are a lot of unanswered questions. This will give Ambassador Rice the opportunity to walk through what she was asked to do, what she was given in terms of talking points.

And what I think is critical here is that there's no question that these senators now understand that their first politicization of this has hurt -- has possible repercussions for the GOP in terms of going after Susan Rice. And that's why you're seeing them walk back the criticism and frankly point it at the White House and at President Obama, which President Obama himself invited, because if you know -- if you understand the way that security -- that security levels work, John McCain knows that you do not go beyond what you are told you can say or not say.

And so by attacking her, he understands that that is actual politics. So, this will go beyond the politics to get to the real answers hopefully.

COSTELLO: We'll see. Dana Bash, you'll be standing by. Maybe the meeting will end soon but I doubt it.

Dana Bash, Maria Cardona, Ana Navarro -- thanks to all of you for being with us this morning.

CARDONA: Thank you.

COSTELLO: An actor from the TV comedy "Two and a Half Men" is calling that show, his own show, filth. He's asking you not to watch. Find out more, next.


COSTELLO: The hit comedy "Two and a Half Men" can't seem to stay out of the headlines. First, we had the public meltdown of the former star, Charlie Sheen. And now, the young actor who plays Jake Harper, he wants off the show. He calls it filth.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is nice, like old times.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You and me sitting here, watching TV, while the good looking owner of the house is out on the deck, swapping spit with a hot chick.


COSTELLO: That's what the actor, Angus Jones, is talking about. He's saying that this type of acting, this type of dialogue, offends his Christian values.

Nischelle Turner is in Los Angeles.

This sounds so Kirk Cameron to me.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: You know, just when you think nothing in Hollywood can shock you anymore, something shocks me again. We have yet another controversy for "Two and a Half Men." although, as you said in this case, the half of the show is Angus T. Jones.

He's kind of doing the opposite of what we've seen Charlie Sheen doing. He is getting attention for complaining about the behavior that got Charlie Sheen in trouble in the first place.

You know, Jones plays Jake Harper on the show and, by the way, he is one of the highest paid child actors on television. He makes $300,000 an episode. He is telling people not to watch the show, because -- well, like you said, he calls it filth.

He appeared in this video to talk about his religious faith and denounce the show that's made him rich and famous. Look at this with me.


ANGUS JONES, "JAKE" ON "TWO AND A HALF MEN": Jake on "Two and a Half Men" means nothing. He is a nonexistent character.

If you watch "Two and a Half Men", please stop watching "Two and a Half Men." I'm on "Two and a Half Men" -- I don't want to be on it. Please stop watching it.

Please stop filling your head with filth. Please. It's -- people say it's just entertainment. The fact that it's entertainment, it's -- do some research on the effects of television and your brain and I promise you, you'll have a decision to make when it comes to television and especially with what you watch on television.


TURNER: You know, Jones says in the video that he doesn't want to contribute to, quote, "the enemy's plan" by being on this show and he doesn't think he can be a Christian and be on a show like "Two and a Half Men."

Now, of course, Carol, we reached out to the people behind "Two and a Half Men" for reaction and maybe to see if they could give us some sort of hint on what the show was going to do. They didn't have any comment on all of this.

But his character, if this gives you a hint, is in the Army now on the show. If some fallout does happen, there is an out there. Maybe Jake Harper could, you know --

COSTELLO: Be shipped off to Afghanistan or something.

TURNER: Yes, something.

COSTELLO: Why does he remain on the show?

TURNER: I mean, that's a good question. Back in 2010, he did sign a guaranteed contract for 26 episodes which in part means two seasons because there's 13 episodes a season. He signed this big -- it was $8 million, $7.9 million he is getting guaranteed. He also got a $500,000 signing bonus during this deal.

So, you know, maybe he's trying to fulfill his contract or he may have just kind of found his faith and he's pretty conflicted. We talked about this on "STARTING POINT" and "EARLY START" this morning. Sometimes when you find a new faith, you're conflicted about what you're doing. He could just be at that point where he's not sure if he should be doing this type of acting anymore.

COSTELLO: How old is he? I didn't catch that. Is he 15 maybe?

TURNER: He is a teenager. I'm not exactly sure, to be honest with you, how old he is. I think he might be around 17, 18 years old.

So, he is getting up there. I think he is about to go to college. So I think he's around 18-year-old and just becoming an adult. COSTELLO: Well, he's confused. He's 19 years old, I think. A producer just said in my ear. I didn't know either.

TURNER: OK. Thank you, producer, for making that clear for us.

COSTELLO: Thank you, producer Pam. We appreciate it.

Michelle Turner, thanks so much. We appreciate it.

TURNER: Absolutely.

COSTELLO: Recognize this face? She's the daughter of the model who helped put Guess Jeans on the map. We'll tell you who she is.

Plus --


SIRI: Let me think. OK. Here you go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Set my timer for 30 minutes.


COSTELLO: How would you like to hear from Siri while you're driving your car? One automaker is putting her inside infotainment systems.


COSTELLO: Forty-eight minutes past the hour. Time to check our "Top Stories". More fallout at Long Island Power Authority, heavily criticized by consumers for its response to Superstorm Sandy. The company's vice president of customer service will step down at the end of the year and a board member has quit. These moves comes just weeks after LIPA's Chief Operating Officer announced he was leaving.

In the heart of Sydney, Australia, the arm of a construction crane falls on to a building, barely missing a busy street. The collapse happened after fire engulfed the cab -- after a fire engulfed the cab of the crane. Just two weeks ago the construction site was shut down when workers walked off the job because of a gas leak.

Now "Sydney Morning Herald" says the crane is operated by Lend Lease, the very same company whose crane on a Manhattan Skyscraper buckled during Superstorm Sandy.

Automakers are moving to -- are moving to incorporate smart phone links into new models. GM says the Chevrolet Spark and the Sonic will have Siri on its infotainment systems. You know Siri the (inaudible) electronic assistant from the newer Apple iPhones. Ford also plans smart phone access in its 2014 version of the Fiesta.

Whether or not we reach the fiscal cliff small businesses are going to be affected. So the President wants to hear from them. Today he's inviting more than a dozen executives of small businesses to the White House. CNN political director Mark Preston is in Washington to tell us more. Good morning, Mark.


You know you're absolutely right. The President today will be meeting with small business owners here in Washington, D.C., the beginning of what has become or what seems to be becoming a public relations offensive by the White House as he tries to build support for some of his ideas that he wants incorporated into the negotiations on the fiscal cliff.

Now he will be having these discussions today, but we should be very careful. They won't necessarily be listening sessions as they will be rah-rah sessions to try to get support for President Obama's proposal to have the tax cuts extended for folks who are making less than $250,000 a year. But for them to be sun-setted for those who are making over $250,000 a year -- Carol.

COSTELLO: The President had a similar meeting with heads of several large companies. Will he hear anything different in this meeting or will it be, as you said, just a "rah-rah session"?

PRESTON: I think it's going to be a rah-rah session. He did hold some of the meetings in the past and in fact he will hold a meeting with other business leaders tomorrow as well as holding a separate meeting with folks who are middle class income who will be hurt by the fiscal cliff if in fact it is not resolved here in Washington, D.C.

But on Friday, he's going to leave Washington, D.C. He's going to go up to Pennsylvania. When he's in Pennsylvania he's going to visit a manufacturer that builds toys, specifically they build the Tinker -- Tinker Toys as well as the K'Nex building sets.

So what's he's trying to do is he's trying to get support from all corners of the middle class to support him as they go through these negotiations on the fiscal cliff -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Mark Preston in Washington for us -- thanks.

The NFL will not suspend Ndamukong Suh for kicking a quarterback in the groin, but the Lions' defensive tackle may not get off scot-free.


COSTELLO: All right, "Talk Back" question today, "Should Susan Rice be considered for Secretary of State?"

This from Debbie, "No, it would be a stupid distraction while we have so many other issues facing our country. Fiscal cliff, anyone? Oh, that's right, that's how politics works."

This from Jason, "Senator McCain served honorably in Vietnam, surviving what many could not. But I believe he is exhausting the credibility he has with the American people through his nasty, unfounded remarks on Ambassador Rice." This from Rick, "I have a better question -- what makes her unqualified?"

And from Michael, "If she simply repeated talking points that were provided to her, she should not be faulted. On the other hand, if facts come out that she deliberately misstated known facts she should be disqualified for higher office."

Keep the conversation going, Thanks as always for your comment. I'll be right back.


COSTELLO: A Panthers/Eagles Monday night match-up may have looked great a few months back, but that was before Michael Vick's was concussed and the team is (inaudible) with a combined tie win.

Carolina quarterback Cam Newton though had his best game of the season throwing -- throwing for two touchdowns, running for two more. And he had no turnovers. The Eagles though they could not hold on to the ball they lost three fumbles and went on to lose the game 30-22. The Eagles haven't won since September. Head coach Andy Reid say owner Jeffrey Lurie has been quote "supportive".

The NFL will not suspend Detroit Lions' defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh for kicking Houston quarterback Matt Schaub in the groin. The league is still considering a possible fine for the Thanksgiving Day game kick. On Monday Schaub told a Houston radio station the Texans would never have someone like Suh on their team.

A rivalry born in the NBA the Brooklyn Nets hosting the New York Knicks for the very first time. Jay-Z and Beyonce in the house. The game was rescheduled for last night after Superstorm Sandy hit. There they are. A sell-out crowd, more Nets than Knicks fans showed up. The new kids on the block won this battle in New York in overtime, 96- 89. The two teams are tied atop the Atlantic division.

That's a look at sports this morning.

The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

Happening now in the NEWSROOM, U.S. soldier Bradley Manning charged with document dumping on WikiLeaks is now accusing the United States military of torture, and it could be his get-out-of-jail free card.

Walking out on Wal-Mart; a congressman-elect from Florida joins the protest. He joins us in 15 minutes to explain why he wants to put the union in Wal Mart.