Return to Transcripts main page


DJs Yanked Off Air after Royal Prank; Obama, Boehner Secret Meeting; Unions Brace for Crippling Blow; Cowboys Player Free After Deadly Crash; McAfee to Stay in Guatemala for Now

Aired December 10, 2012 - 09:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Javier Palimares is the president and CEO of United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel, will be our guest as well. That's our lineup for tomorrow.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Ted Rowlands begins now. We'll see you back here tomorrow morning.

Hey, Ted.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad.

Stories we're watching right now in the CNN NEWSROOM. Off the air and under siege.


MEL GREIG, 2DAYFM DJ: There's not a minute that goes by that we don't think about their family and what they must be going through, and the thought that we may have played a part in that is gut-wrenching.


ROWLANDS: For the first time, we're hearing from two radio deejays blamed for the nurse's suicide after that royal prank phone call.

Plus this. A plane crash cut short the life of popular Mexican- American singer Jenni Rivera. Now investigators look into what brought down that plane that killed everyone on board.

South Korean rapper Psy receives a warm welcome in Washington despite his past anti-American comments, and President Obama getting some flack for attending that performance.

Plus, the bizarre saga continues. American tech mogul John McAfee fighting deportation to Belize. He holds a news conference from behind bars. You'll hear what he has to say.

CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

And good morning, everybody. I'm Ted Rowlands sitting in for Carol Costello. We begin this hour with new fallout from that radio prank played on the hospital caring for Prince William's pregnant wife. Just days after the apparent suicide of the nurse who was duped by the call, the bosses of those deejays have canceled their show, and for the first time, those deejays are speaking out.


GREIG: There is nothing that can make me feel worse than what I feel right now and for what I feel for the family. We're so sorry that this has happened to them.


ROWLANDS: CNN's Matthew Chance is outside the London hospital with the very latest -- Matthew.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ted, thanks very much. Well, you heard just a snapshot there of the kind of raw emotion that was expressed in that interview with these two deejays, Mel Grieg and Michael Christian, gave to two Australian television networks earlier today.

Absolutely beside themselves, it seems, with regret about what happened and talking at length about how they felt when it emerged that what was meant as sort of light-hearted gag to sort of, you know, get through to the room of Duchess of Cambridge here turned into something much more tragic. Take a listen to what they had to say.


GREIG: Unfortunately, I remember that moment very well because I haven't stopped thinking about it since it happened.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: When you found out that she was the mother of two children.

GREIG: I'm very sorry and saddened for the family. And I can't imagine what they've been going through.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What about you, Michael?

MICHAEL CHRISTINA, DJ, AUSTRALIAN RADIO STATION, 2DAYFM: I'm gutted. You know. Shattered. Heartbroken.


CHANCE: Well, the two are themselves receiving counseling for the trauma that they've undergone. A lot of the social media pages like Facebook have been taken down because of abusive messages that have been posted on them. Some of them accusing the two deejays of having blood on their hands. And so a great deal of concern, obviously, but also some defense from the radio station that employs them, saying that even though it's investigating what exactly happened, it doesn't think its staff actually violated any laws and that too much emphasis has been put on the prank call and not enough emphasis on other factors that may have contributed to the apparent suicide of this nurse.

ROWLANDS: OK. Matthew Chance for us this morning in London.

In Washington all eyes are on the fiscal cliff, now just 22 days away. With the White House and Republican leaders at a stalemate, President Obama is hitting the road to rally support for his plan, which would raise taxes for the wealthiest Americans. He met yesterday with House Speaker John Boehner, their first face to face meeting in more than three weeks.

Today the president will visit a Detroit engine factory to rally support from auto workers.

The president's meeting with Speaker Boehner didn't yield a big breakthrough, but the men did agree to manage -- managed to agree on one thing, and that is that they will keep their negotiations behind closed doors. The men released this identical statement, saying, "This afternoon the president and Speaker Boehner met at the White House to discuss efforts to resolve the fiscal cliff. We're not reading out details of the conversation, but the lines of communication remain open."

CNN's Dan Lothian is at the White House this morning.

And, Dan, I guess the fact that the lines of communication are open is a good sign.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It is a good sign. It was just about a week ago that we were reporting about how nothing was going on, not in public and not in private. Aides up on the hill, Republican aides telling us that there were no phone calls, no e-mails, no communication whatsoever. So this is encouraging in that the president sat down face to face with Speaker Boehner, but I -- I think it's telling that both the speaker's office and White House put out these identical statements.

I mean, what it shows here is that they've agreed to negotiate in private. There's a strategy here not to make this play out in public but rather happen behind closed doors so they can hash this out, hammer this out. It's unclear whether this will continue at that level. I did communicate with a senior administration official this morning, trying to find out if there are additional meetings planned or phone calls, and this official telling me that they have nothing to preview at this point.

But we do expect, since they did sit down and, you know, speak face to face yesterday, although we don't know all the details of that meeting, that we could expect something like that happening in the near future -- Ted.

ROWLANDS: And, Dan, I think a lot of Americans sort of have this image of not necessarily people with their sleeves rolled up actually hammering out a problem, but rather people on each side plotting against the other.

Did this meeting -- was it -- was it done in earnest? Do you get the feeling that they actually were negotiating, and do you think this is the first of many, hopefully late meetings between these two? LOTHIAN: Well, you have to believe that it was done in earnest for it to take place here at the White House. But, you know, we have to look back to what has happened over the last four years when this White House has been embattled with House Republicans, and it plays out like this. Initially when it starts out, there's a lot of optimism that the negotiations will get resolved, that there will be compromise. And then they start really in public exchanging harsh rhetoric, and then a deal gets done.

So we've gone through those phases where initially after the president met here at the White House with congressional leaders, that they came out. They were very optimistic and then began those sort of harsh exchanges. And now we're seeing -- we're hearing people talk about compromise. We're hearing Senator Corker of Tennessee talking about how, you know, they might be warming up to this idea of upper income Americans getting taxed at a higher level, not getting the tax extension -- tax cut extension from the Bush administration days.

And so you've seen them warm up to that. And so there is this air in Washington now that perhaps compromise will happen, and we'll be able to avoid that fiscal cliff.

ROWLANDS: All right. Let's hope so. Dan Lothian for us this morning at the White House.

Thanks, Dan.

In Michigan unions are bracing for what could be a crippling blow to organized labor.


UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Ho ho, right to work has got to go.


ROWLANDS: Michigan, of course, is home to the United Auto Workers. It is one of the most heavily unionized states in the country. Now a lame duck session of the legislature is preparing to pass a sweeping new right-to-work bill that would severely undermine union power.

CNN's Alison Kosik joins us live from Lansing, Michigan.

Alison, Alison, I know this was a surprise to some people in Michigan because Governor Rick Snyder did a bit of an about face on this issue.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. And some are accusing the governor of really pushing this issue through the state house, and clearly they're not happy with it. I mean, you can see how unhappy those opposed to this bill are, just looking at the sheer number of demonstrators who came out last week and are expected to come out this week. Thousands are expected to come out between today and tomorrow.

You know, a president of one teachers union, you know, we spoke with put it this way. She said, you know what, never in a million years did I ever think that Michigan would ever become a right-to-work state, that Michigan was built on unions, and you know what, she has a point there.

Unions have really been the backbone for workers in this state, especially when you look at the auto industry, 17.5 percent of the workers in this state are unionized. It's one of the highest rates in the country. And if this law passes, Ted, politically it could be a huge blow to unions, not just here in Michigan, but across the country as well.

Also, if the law passes, it could also make unions in the private sector obsolete. So what you're essentially seeing are these union members coming out, demonstrating and protesting because they're fighting for their lives. They're fighting for survival and -- relevance at this point -- Ted.

ROWLANDS: What's the timetable? Republican Governor Rick Snyder says he'll sign it as soon as it reaches his desk. When's the final vote expected?

KOSIK: Well, tomorrow around 10:00 a.m. here at the state house, where I am standing in front of, around 10:00 a.m. the Senate and the House are going to take up the final measures. The governor is expected to sign it. He's already made clear he's ready to. Here's what he said last week.


GOV. RICK SNYDER (R), MICHIGAN: To be pro-worker, to give freedom of choice to our workplace, and that legislators move promptly and efficiently moving it through the legislature. And when it arrives on my desk, I plan on signing it.


KOSIK: And so he is expected to rubber stamp it, to sign it, by tomorrow -- Ted.

ROWLANDS: All right. Moving very quickly. Alison Kosik for us this morning in Lansing, Michigan.

Investigators in Mexico are looking into what brought down the plane that killed popular Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera.

Rivera and at least five others died when their plane crashed in northern Mexico on Sunday. She had just finished performing before boarding the plane. Rivera, a mother of five, was recently named one of the 25 most powerful people by "People Espanol." According to Billboard, the 43-year-old Latin Grammy nominee had sold 15 million records.

It looks like a stomach virus is delaying an overseas trip for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Clinton will now leave tomorrow for Morocco. She was in Ireland last week. This trip will include a meeting with a group aimed at supporting Syria's rebel opposition to the government.

More than 100 same-sex couples have officially married in Washington state. Marriage licenses became available on Thursday, but because of a three-day waiting period, the first weddings didn't take place until Sunday. The couples are hoping that the Supreme Court will issue favorable rulings on same-sex marriages when it hears arguments on the matter next year.

And NFL team grieves on the field as the Dallas Cowboys play a day after learning a teammate died in a car crash. And another teammate is facing charges.


ROWLANDS: Checking top stories.

North Korea says it may take a little longer to launch a controversial long-range rocket. State media reports Pyongyang has extended its launch window until December 29th because of technical problems with an engine. The U.S. and South Korea are condemning the North's second launch attempt this year. An earlier one failed in April. The U.S. and South Korea say the launch is a cover for ballistic missile testing.

Barriers are going up outside the presidential palace in Egypt as the nation moves closer to Saturday's planned constitutional referendum. The palace has been the site of clashes between those for and against President Mohamed Morsi after he gave himself unchecked powers last month. The opposition is calling for new nationwide protests ahead of the vote.

And the Nobel Peace Prize has been given to the European Union. The three presidents of the E.U.'s main bodies accepted the prestigious award this morning at a ceremony in Oslo, Norway. But this year's choice was not without controversy. Three former Nobel laureates wrote a letter of protest saying the Union doesn't qualify as a peace maker.

For the second time in two weeks, an NFL team overcomes the death of a teammate with a victory on the field. This time, it was the Dallas Cowboys. On the sidelines Sunday, the jersey of Jerry Brown Jr. was draped over the team bench. A member of the practice squad, Brown died Saturday in a car crash driven by a teammate, the car was.

The Cowboys came back from a nine-point deficit to beat the Cincinnati Bengals on a dramatic last second field goal. Brown's jersey was held up after the emotional win, and following the game, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett talked about the focus his team showed during this tragedy.


JASON GARRETT, COWBOYS HEAD COACH: All we asked our team last night was to understand as best they could what happened and somehow, some way, try to channel the emotions they have into honoring Jerry today in their performance, and that's a hard thing to do. I think everyone in our organization who knew him is completely numb and has been numb for the last couple days.


ROWLANDS: Ed Lavandera joins us from Dallas.

Ed, this morning Brown's teammate, Cowboys nose tackle Josh Brent is out of jail.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He is, Ted. As that team is dealing with the death of a beloved teammate, they're also struggling with the fact that one of their teammates and close friends as well is also facing some very serious legal charges as well. Josh Brent facing intoxication, manslaughter, but he did post a half million dollar bond yesterday, just shortly after the Cowboys had won that game and left jail there in Irving, Texas, which is a suburb here of the Dallas area.

In a statement, he said that he was devastated over the accident and filled with grief for the loss of my close friend and teammate, Jerry Brown. He also went on to say that he was grief stricken for his family, friends, and all who were blessed enough to know him.

"I will live with this horrific and tragic loss every day for the rest of my life." That is a statement that Josh Brent put out yesterday after leaving the jail here in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.

Not a lot of details as to what led up to that accident, but through the police affidavit report, we understand that Brent and Jerry Brown Jr. had left a club here in the Dallas area, presumably on their way home. It was early Saturday morning when this accident happened.

It was a single car accident. No other cars were involved in this accident. And according to that police affidavit report that, when police showed up, it was Brent who was trying to pull Jerry Brown Jr. out of the car. And police say they detected the smell of alcohol on him, and because Jerry Brown Jr. died in this car accident, that's why they did the blood alcohol test on him, and they say that alcohol was a contributing factor in this accident.

What is crazy about all of this is the team did not know about the accident and the death until they had boarded the team plane, the team charter to fly to Cincinnati Saturday morning. And that's when the team that was on board the plane, head coach Jason Garrett told everybody who wasn't a part of the team to get off of the plane, and that's when the announcement was made to everyone and told about this horrific news -- Ted.

ROWLANDS: What a tragic story. All right. Ed Lavandera for us this morning in Dallas. Thanks, Ed.

Tech Guru John McAfee is still fighting deportation to Belize. He's speaking out from behind bars in another bizarre news conference he released on the web.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROWLANDS: A judge in Guatemala has for now stopped the deportation of Internet software pioneer John McAfee to Belize, but that's just until his immigration case is heard in a Guatemalan court. McAfee held a news conference from behind bars on Sunday and even answered some reporters' e-mail questions.


JOHN MCAFEE, ANTI-VIRUS SOFTWARE PIONEER: The odyssey that Samantha and I have been on did not begin after the death of Mr. Faull. It began on the 15th of October of this year after an aborted raid by the police of San Pedro in Belize City. The press has portrayed me as paranoid, schizophrenic perhaps, that the government of Belize is with good intentions, merely asking me to answer questions.


ROWLANDS: CNN's Martin Savidge has been chasing McAfee for portions of this odyssey from Belize to Guatemala City. He talked with McAfee about the possibility of his deportation back to Belize.



(voice-over): In the darkness outside of a Guatemala City detention center, John McAfee's dinner arrives in a paper bag, a reminder of how far the wealthy security software inventor is from his home in Belize and his lifestyle of money, guns, and girls.

The spiral started last month when 52-year-old American Greg Faull was found shot to death in his home 200 yards from McAfee's place.

The two men had a well-known feud in part over McAfee's dogs.

Police came to question McAfee, but he had already taken off.

(on camera): You are John McAfee?

MCAFEE: I think so. Yes. I am John McAfee.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): I found him three weeks later hiding in a rundown part of Belize City, convinced police would kill him if they found him, even though he had not been named a suspect.

(on camera): Are you afraid?

MCAFEE: Wouldn't you be, sir?

SAVIDGE (voice-over): He denied any involvement in his neighbor's death and said the Belize government was trying to pin Faull's murder on him because McAfee had refused to pay money to a local politician.

(on camera): Do you really believe this say vendetta by the government of Belize to take you down and kill you?

MCAFEE: Absolutely, sir.

SAVIDGE: McAfee escaped to here, Guatemala City. He hired himself a powerful attorney and even felt secure enough to go out in public.

MCAFEE: They have attempted to charge me.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): It was a mistake. Guatemala wasn't the safe haven McAfee thought. Authorities arrested him for entering the country illegally and planned to deport him back to Belize.

McAfee asked for asylum. When the government turned him down, he suddenly fell ill and was rushed to hospital. Doctors diagnosed the 67-year-old as suffering from stress and returned him to detention.

While his attorney says that at least for now he's been able to stop McAfee's deportation back to Belize, where police are still waiting to question him.

(on camera): So a judge has given you a stay?


SAVIDGE (voice-over): Just what comes next in this murder-turned- soap-opera, no one can say.

McAfee's saga shares something in common with the software he helped to create, staying current requires constant updates.


ROWLANDS: And Martin joins us now from Guatemala City.

Martin, were you able to ask him about now? I heard now he wants to return to the U.S.

SAVIDGE: That's right, Ted, yes. He held that very bizarre kind of news conference over the internet last night. It was the classic, you can put me in jail, but my news will break out. It shows he's still the master when it comes to self-promotion.

And so, since he had this news conference, he allowed us to e-mail questions, and I asked him that very thing. Would he consider going to the U.S.? Could it be another option besides being deported back to Belize?

That apparently is one of the great strategies that his attorney is working on, trying to negotiate with the government here in Guatemala, that no, don't send him back to Belize, instead send him back to where he has citizenship, which is the United States, and that's something John says he very much wants to do - Ted.

ROWLANDS: All right. Martin Savidge, continuing to follow the bizarre saga for us in Guatemala City. Martin, thank you.

Well, Newt Gingrich says the Republicans won't stand a chance in the presidential race in 2016 against one Democratic challenger. We'll have that coming up. Stay with us.


ROWLANDS: Hey. Good morning, everybody. I'm Ted Rowlands, in for Carol Costello.

Stories we're watching for you now in THE NEWSROOM.

We're about 30 seconds away from the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. You expect cautious investors today when Wall Street kicks off the trading for the week. Fiscal cliff talks and a reserve meeting midweek could shift the markets.

Ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange, the financial services company BlackRock.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez returns to Cuba to undergo another cancer operation. Chavez left in the middle of the night just a day after telling his country his cancer was back. This will be Chavez's fourth surgery since being diagnosed with cancer last year.

Today in South Africa, former President Nelson Mandela is facing a third day of medical tests in a hospital.