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CNN NEWSROOM

Rep. Boehner Meets with House GOP Today; Costas Clarifies Halftime Gun Remarks; Police Arrest a Man in Subway Death; Citigroup to Cut 11,000 Jobs Worldwide; American, Russian to Spend Year in Orbit

Aired December 5, 2012 - 09:00   ET

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


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: The sportscaster responds to critics calling for his job.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB COSTAS, NBC SPORTS JOURNALIST: This is simply the case of some people don't agree with it or they don't agree with what they think I was saying and, therefore, it would be OK if I was booted off the air.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: He explains exactly what he meant to say at his half-time commentary on gun control.

The image that shocked and created so much outrage. This morning we hear from the man who snapped the photo and asked him why?

Always low prices. What about your mortgage? Would you let Wal-Mart finance your home loan?

And imagine spending an entire year away from your family and your friends, everything that you love, all in the name of science.

NEWSROOM starts now.

And good morning. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Carol Costello.

This should be interesting. Speaker John Boehner meets this morning with House Republicans who are angry at his new pitch to raise $800 billion in tax revenue in the fiscal cliff negotiations. President Obama has said there will be no deal unless taxes are raised on the wealthiest America Americans. But staunch conservatives don't want any kind of new taxes.

And that's where Speaker Boehner's job gets really tough. On CNN's "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" Newt Gingrich said if all else fails, go over the cliff.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that no deal is better than a bad deal. I think going off this cliff is less dangerous than letting things build up for a year or two years to an even bigger cliff. I think that the president clearly has staked out a position of non-seriousness. And I think that it's very difficult for the House Republicans right now to find any practical way to get his attention. So he just won an election. He is feeling very good about himself. He is posturing brilliantly, he's putting the Republicans in a corner. They need to relax. They don't have an election until November 2014.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash joins me now.

So, Dana, can we expect fireworks at the meeting this morning?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Possibly, Carol. You know, one thing that has been interesting with regard to John Boehner's leadership of the Republican conference, which certainly is very conservative and he has had to balance that with negotiations with the White House on a number of occasions, one thing that's interesting is that he until now really has been able to maintain their loyalty.

And their confidence that whatever he does, he's going -- he's doing for a reason because the alternative would be worse. And one thing that he did in a very deliberate way on this particular counteroffer, which they sent to the White House earlier this week, was it wasn't just a letter from Boehner to the president. It was a letter from the entire Republican leadership, including Paul Ryan, including the budget chair.

Not just the budget chair but the former vice presidential candidate who went across the country, campaigning and promising not to raise taxes. So he's trying to have his bases covered. Certainly he could get questions about it but at this point from my reporting, while there is some anger inside his own House caucus, a lot of it is coming from outside groups. And that is really -- that really is real, sending e-mails, sending alerts, saying call your congressman.

There's no question they're upset about that. But unclear how much he's going to really hear about it in this meeting today. But we'll watch.

COSTELLO: Yes. You'll be there. We'll get back to you. Dana Bash, reporting live from Capitol Hill this morning.

Also on Capitol Hill, we're watching a members only closed door briefing on Libya. The head of the intelligence community James Clapper will give a multimedia presentation to a bipartisan group of representatives. Officials are trying to answer lingering questions over the attack that took place at the Benghazi U.S. Consulate in September that killed four Americans including U.S. Ambassador Stevens.

New twist this morning in the case of Internet mogul, John McAfee. The American millionaire is on the run from police in Belize and now says he's seeking asylum in Guatemala. McAfee spoke exclusively with CNN Espanol in Guatemala City.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN MCAFEE, U.S. TECH MULTI-MILLIONAIRE: No one has blamed me for the murder. I have not been charged. I am not a suspect. They merely want to question me about the murder. I am not concerned. I have not been charged with a crime, there is no basis for extradition. I like Guatemala. I think the legal system in Guatemala is superior to the legal system in Belize.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Police in Belize say they want to question McAfee about the shooting of this man, Gregory Faull, but they say McAfee is not a suspect.

NBC sportscaster Bob Costas now explaining what exactly he meant to say about guns during half time, you know, during "Sunday Night Football." Costas was speaking about the weekend murder-suicide by a Kansas City Chiefs player.

In case you missed it, here's part of what Costas said Sunday night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COSTAS: Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it. In the coming days, Jovan Belcher's actions and their possible connection to football will be analyzed. Who knows but here, wrote Jason Whitlock, is what I believe. If Jovan Belcher did not possess a gun he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: As you probably know by now, that commentary ignited a Twitter firestorm with some critics saying Costas picked the wrong time and place and others critics blasting him for trying to take away their Second Amendment rights.

Now the blogosphere is lighting up with calls for Costas to be fired. Lars Larsen said this on CNSNEWS.com, quote, "NBC should show Bob Costas the door." And then there's this Facebook page. "Fire Bob Costas for his un-American comments on gun control."

HLN sports reporter Joe Carter is here to talk about all of this.

So, what did Bob Costas say in his own defense?

JOE CARTER, HLN SPORTS: You know, I found several, as a matter of fact, fire Bob Costas Facebook pages with thousands of likes. So there are a lot of people out there, obviously they're very angry. But yes, he went on the "Dan Patrick Show" yesterday morning and he basically defended himself and Bob Costas said that he did admit that he made a mistake, that he used the wrong forum to take on such a heavy-handed topic, that he should have listened to his own rule which was, when you take on a topic as politically charged as gun control, leave yourself enough time to fully flush out that topic.

And as we know in television, you only have so much time to talk about a certain topic. He only had only about 90 seconds to discuss that topic. So he broke his own broadcasting rule in taking on that topic in that type of forum. So he wished he would have chosen a different forum.

He also said that he doesn't disagree with the Second Amendment, that he believes that people should have the right to bear arms but he believes that we should change the gun culture in your country, like grabbing your keys, grabbing your wallet, and grabbing your gun before you leave the house is where the discussion needs to openly change.

And then he obviously addressed the issue and responded to the amount of people out there that want him to be fired for what he said on Sunday night, and here's his response to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COSTAS: Someone compared this as a fireable offense to situations in which people have made blatantly racist comments or comments that had no place whatsoever. This is simply a case of some people don't agree with it or they don't agree with what they think I was saying and, therefore, it would be OK if I was booted off the air.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARTER: Obviously there's a lot of people who are upset. But there are just as many people out there I believe that are standing up and applauding for him -- applauding him for what he had to say Sunday night, opening that discussion, getting us to talk about guns in the wrong people's hands.

COSTELLO: Well, it's just -- I don't know. It's just sad to me that you can't have a rational conversation about gun control in America. You can't, without the extremes on both sides coming forward and expressing their extreme opinions. Like, why can't we sit down and have an intelligent discussion about gun control?

CARTER: It's a -- it's a politically charged topic that people have such strong opinions and beliefs on, it's just the same topic, I think, as domestic violence or abortion. And, you know, it's like talking politics with your family on Thanksgiving. It's a bad idea. Just doesn't -- nothing gets solved from it. But you're right. That's where it needs to change. And we need to have an educated, open discussion about how we can get guns out of the wrong hands.

COSTELLO: OK. So you're going to be back at 10:00.

CARTER: Yes.

COSTELLO: One hour from now. Joe Carter, thanks so much.

CARTER: You bet.

COSTELLO: For the first time we're hearing from the man who took this picture of a 58-year-old father pushed on to the subway tracks as the train was speeding toward him. That man died after the impact. The photographer, Umar Abbasi, says there was nothing he could do to save the man.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

R. UMAR ABBASI, FREELANCE PHOTOGRAPHER: I was on assignment. It's not that, you know, I ran to the post and said hey, guys, I have a photograph that you might be interested in. If this thing happen again with the same circumstances, whether I had a camera or not, and I was running towards it, there is no way I could have rescued Mr. Han.

What really surprises me is the people who were maybe 100 feet or 150 feet away from Mr. Han, they did not reach out to help him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Police are now questioning another man. They say he implicated himself in the incident.

Mary Snow has been following this story from New York.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on. Take your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) over there.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Why exactly these men were fighting is unclear. But moments after this video obtained by the New York police was recorded, 58-year-old Ki-Suck Han, whose face is obscured, was pushed on to the tracks, police say, by the man yelling at him. A subway barreling through the station killed Han with horrified onlookers unable to save him.

NIGEL GRANT, MTA WORKER: I know they was arguing with each other. I see people trying to flag the train down before the train get to him.

SNOW (on camera): The fight happened around 12:30 in the afternoon on this platform that is only about 10 feet wide. A doctor who was on the platform says that the victim was trying to protect people that he didn't know and she says that many people tried to help him by alerting subway personnel.

The victim was struck and she says she performed three to four minutes of chest compressions on him, but it was too late.

(Voice-over): One eyewitness describes the train coming to an abrupt stop three-quarters into the station.

PATRICK GOMEZ, EYEWITNESS: People are just standing in fear and shock, not knowing what's really going on. Some people started running out to the platform. You know, other people just stood there and really didn't know what was going on.

SNOW: The suspect, meantime, was able to slip out of the station into Times Square. And police canvassed the area with his image placed on wanted posters in the streets.

But it was another image in this cruel killing that has sparked an uproar. This is one of several photographs published by the "New York Post" of Han facing the train seconds before his death. The "Post" quotes the photographer saying he tried to warn the train operator by running towards him, firing off his camera flash. But online there were public comments of disgust.

"Wow. Enough time to take a few pictures. Why didn't the person help? What an age we live in, when getting the picture is more important. I am appalled."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: And, Carol, we should point out that on Tuesday we did reach out to that freelance photographer and the "New York Post." Both declined our request for comment. But as you pointed out the photographer is speaking out. In addition to that interview, he writes in the "New York Post" today about what he calls a snap decision, saying that the armchair critics are wrong. He said it's unclear how he timed this, that there was 22 seconds between the time he heard screams and the time that man was struck by the train.

But certainly creating so much controversy. And many people asking, you know, what would you do in that situation? And also, obviously, what else could have been done to help that man?

COSTELLO: Well, he also said it was sort of an accidental picture because when what he was actually doing, according to him, was he was trying to alert the conductor to stop the train using his flash, and as he was, like, clicking his camera, he snapped all these pictures.

SNOW: Right. And you know, it's hard to know exactly how much time had passed. And what else could have been done. It's just -- the whole story has so many people, though, speaking out and reacting to it in this senseless act.

COSTELLO: Yes. We're going to talk more about this a little later in the NEWSROOM.

Thanks so much. Mary Snow reporting live from New York.

It's a bold, long mission for one American astronaut who's going to spend a full year in space, all in the name of science.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

COSTELLO: We have some breaking news to share with you right now.

Citigroup has announced it plans to cut 11,000 jobs worldwide as part of a cost-cutting measure.

Maribel Aber is at the New York Stock Exchange to tell us more.

Good morning.

MARIBEL ABER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol.

Yes, just a few minutes ago, we heard Citigroup, indeed, announcing 11,000 job cuts. So, Carol, the goal is to cut about $1 billion in expenses through next year. This is all part of a broader restructuring effort.

I want to tell you what Michael Corbett, he's the Citi's CEO what has said. He says, this actions are logical next steps from Citi's transformation.

You know, Carol, Citi has struggled more than some of its rivals, I should say, after this financial crisis. They took one of the biggest government bailouts at the time. So, this is really part of the process of getting Citigroup back on its feet.

I should say those Citigroup shares are up 3 percent before the open. And the other thing, Carol, this time right now -- we're talking about the end of the year, is kind of the time a lot of financial companies as well start really looking at, you know, their books and, you know, it's not surprising to see some layoffs.

But big news here on Citigroup -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Maribel Aber reporting live from the New York Stock Exchange.

Other top stories we're following this hour:

President Hillary Clinton? I say that because the majority of New Yorkers want to hear that in four years. A new poll from the Siena College Research Institute also finds three-quarters of those asked have a favorable view of the secretary of state, who was once a senator from New York. Former first lady said that running again for political office is not in her future.

A big win for Netflix. The Internet movie provider inks a deal to become the exclusive U.S. television provider for Disney's new releases, including titles from studios like Pixar and Marvel. One analyst said the deal could cost Netflix $300 million a year. But don't load up your cue just yet, the deal won't send films your way until 2016.

And days of rain across the West Coast are taking a toll in western Washington state. The National Weather Service says there's a risk of landslides, like that one, in Everett. The ground could also slide in Seattle, Tacoma and Bremerton.

One year, 365 days, that's how long American Scott Kelly and a Russian will spend on the International Space Station. Their 2015 mission: to see how the human body adapts to space. Kelly's trip will be the longest for an American in orbit in a single mission.

John Zarrella is with us now.

So, tell us more, John.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Carol, right now, in Houston, at the Johnson Space Center, NASA mission managers are holding a briefing about the mission now and what to expect. In about an hour or so, maybe a little less, Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko, his Russian counterpart, will also hold a press briefing and talk about, you know, how they were selected, the process. And what they expect.

You know, this is a huge, huge step, if you want to do a deep space mission, because so little is known about the long-term effects of weightlessness on the body. If you're talking about going to an asteroid or Mars, you're talking about round trip missions of a year or two years if you're going to go to Mars.

And weightlessness affects the blood pressure. It affects eyesight. It affects bone density. It affects muscle mass.

So many different things beyond just the technical issues that have to be understood about the human body and how weightlessness affects it before we would ever be able to undertake such a trip -- Carol.

COSTELLO: So how do you train for something like this?

ZARRELLA: Well, you know, it's year long. And quite frankly, a lot of it is building baselines about that particular person's body. They'll build baselines about the blood pressure of the astronaut and cosmonaut. They'll build baselines about their muscle mass, do all of those things.

And then, of course, there's just the intensive training about what they will be expected to do during the course of that year, all the tests they'll be put through. And not just the testing, but the responsibilities they'll have as part of the crew of that particular space station mission, that year-long mission they'll be on.

So, it is pretty intense. And a lot of exercising, a lot of working out to build up the body for that much time in space. So, it is a huge, huge mission.

I think it says one other thing, Carol, that we've expected for a long time. That any mission to Mars, because of how cost prohibitive it would, would clearly be an international mission.

So, here you have the Russian and the American training side by side, you know, another indication that that's probably the direction that the world is going to go as far as going to Mars.

COSTELLO: Fascinating. John Zarrella, reporting live for us this morning.

ZARRELLA: Sure.

COSTELLO: This picture sparked outrage and horror. A man trapped -- he's trapped in the path of an oncoming subway train. A lot of outrage is directed at the man who took that picture. So, is it ethical for that photographer to sell his photos? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: We've been talking about it all morning, about this picture. It ran in "The New York Post". You see the man in the photo moments before the train hit and killed him. He had been pushed on to the tracks by another man.

People are outraged at the person who snapped this photo. They're outraged because the photographer didn't try to help the man. So, let's talk about the photographer's responsibility in all of this.

Joining us now via Skype from Arlington, Massachusetts, Peter Southwick, a member of the ethics committee for the National Press Photographers association.

Welcome.

PETER SOUTHWICK, MEMBER, ETHICS CMTE., NATL. PRESS PHOTOGARHPER ASSN.: Good morning.

COSTELLO: Thank you for being here.

The photographer in this case, Umar Abbasi says he just happen to be in the subway station. He didn't mean to snap the picture. He was simply flashing the camera at the conductor, trying to get the conductor to stop the train.

Does that sound credible to you?

SOUTHWICK: Well, it's really hard for me to pass judgment on the actions of the photographer when I wasn't there. If I didn't see the other frames that he took, whether they looked random, I couldn't really pass judgment on that.

COSTELLO: He also says he was too far away to help. As a professional photographer, your instinct is to shoot things that are happening. That's what you do for a living.

Now, if Abbasi was too far away, was it still proper for him to take the photo or should he have tried anyway?

SOUTHWICK: Well, it depends on your opinion on whether it was even possible to help. Once again, we have to step back for a moment and realize these are decisions that have to be made in fractions of a second. It's not as though you have a long time to stand there and say, now, what are the ethical standards involved here? What should I do?

This is a situation where it was a crowded platform. There were lots of other people around. I'm sure there were people screaming. There was a lot of noise.

I have to take the photographer at his word that what he was trying to do, by flashing the camera, was to alert the driver of the train and if that's credible, if that's believable and that's what he did, then he acted properly. The fact that he got a picture is part of his work. That's what he does. Photographers take photographs in situations like this.

COSTELLO: So as a photographer who has probably been in that sort of situation, you know, how -- I mean, is your first instinct to take the picture or to save the person?

SOUTHWICK: I think the first instinct of the vast majority of photographer is to help first. I have been reading the blog posts all morning about how people feel about these situations, about people who have been in comparable these situations, Pulitzer Prize winners -- there's almost unanimity of wanting to help, then you offer help. In this situation again, without seeing an extended video of the whole situation and how it played out, I can't really pass judgment on the photographer's actions.

But I think in the heart and soul of every photojournalist, we believe what we do is very important. But none of us feel that our humanity takes second place to what we do as a profession.

COSTELLO: OK. So here is a tough question. Abbasi, he sold the picture. Other organizations have asked him for more photos that he apparently has. He is a freelance photographer.

This is how he makes his living. As a pro, how does that sit with you?

SOUTHWICK: I think without being flippant, I think you just answered your own question. This is how he makes his living. He took news pictures.

And the fact that people are appalled by these pictures, the fact that people are shocked by them that, unfortunately, is part of the business. It's not a part that any of us celebrates. This is how he makes his living. He takes photographs. If there are people willing to pay to use those photographs, he is well within his rights to do that.

I think his own moral compass, he would have to answer those questions for himself. If I can be a little bit defensive about photojournalists in these situations, people have a tendency to shoot the messenger. They have a tendency to blame the person who saw it and recorded it.

There were many, many more people -- I don't know if it runs into the dozens or hundreds of people on that platform. The fact that they didn't take photographs doesn't make them any less liable to the criticism that they should have helped as well.

COSTELLO: Peter Southwick, thanks so much for being with us this morning. We appreciate it.

SOUTHWICK: Thank you very much for asking.

COSTELLO: Paul Ryan is speaking out about his failed bid for the White House alongside Mitt Romney. What he had to say, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)