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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Biden's "Gun Violence Project"; ESPN Apologizes; Chilling 911 Calls Played in Court

Aired January 9, 2013 - 05:00   ET

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


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Gun control on the table. The vice president's task force gets down to business, bringing in the NRA for the meeting.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Responding to the backlash. Brent Musburger's bosses apologizing for his on-air comments about a football star's beauty queen girlfriend.

SAMBOLIN: But will we hear from him?

Balloon ride from hell, folks. A camera is rolling as a wedding party's sky high tour takes a terrifying turn. Oh, my! They crashed on their wedding day.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. Happy to have you with us. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. Good morning, everyone. It is January 9th, 5:00 a.m. in the East.

And up first -- at the White House today, the National Rifle Association face-to-face on guns and gun control. Actually, that happens tomorrow. The NRA confirming it will meet with vice president and his gun violence project tomorrow. But they don't sound excited about it.

The gun rights group putting out a statement that reads, "We're sending a rep to hear what they have to say."

Listen to the response from the president's spokesman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We look forward to hearing from a variety of organizations and civic groups and others who have insights into this problem.

REPORTER: The NRA says it's here to hear what the White House has to say. So, if you guys are here to listen to them, they're here to listen to you.

CARNEY: Well, the process is designed to get input.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: Obviously, both sides overflowing with excitement.

White House correspondent Dan Lothian is live from Washington this morning. Dan, this is shaping up to be one chilly meeting. That's tomorrow. What's happening today? You have details as to what the vice president is proposing.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Well, first of all first of all, the vice president will be meeting with gun safety organizations and also victims groups. And this is an ongoing process that the president put into play, getting the vice president to meet with a whole assortment of groups to try to put together policy proposals, as the president sees it, to try to put an end to gun violence.

And so, some of the things that the White House is pushing is really putting pressure on Congress as they're looking for other policy proposals, they say there are things that Congress can do right now, such as reinstating the ban on assault weapons or closing loopholes around background checks, and in addition, limiting high capacity magazines.

These are things again that the president, the vice president, and others in the administration have said, look, let Congress take care of these things that they have in front of them right now and then, this Biden group is trying to come up with other policy proposals, as well.

And in addition, as you pointed, the vice president, his group, cabinet members, will be meeting with other gun groups. The NRA, as you pointed out, will be meeting with them on Thursday. White House officials are saying that this group will also meet with representatives from the entertainment industry, the videogame industry, to deal with this issue.

BERMAN: So, Dan, how are the gun rights group and gun control groups reacting to these proposals?

LOTHIAN: Well, you know, as you can tell -- a lot of them are not happy at all. They say that the focus really is in the wrong direction. They want to make sure that their rights are protected to bear arms.

And they're saying things -- and you heard this from the NRA a few weeks back -- saying that the focus should be on a whole host of things, such as putting guns at every school to protect schoolchildren, that there should be this focus on mental health issues, as well. And that there also should be more focus on video games because there's a lot of violence in the entertainment industry, and a lot of people will go after gun owners and not look at these kinds of other issues that they believe influences violence, as well.

So that's really been the push back from gun owners and gun organizations, John.

BERMAN: So the White House has invited people from all parts of the spectrum that comes to this discussion over two days. What's interesting is who is not coming -- Wal-Mart, who's a major seller of firearms. They're not coming.

LOTHIAN: That's right. And I think that's raising a few eyebrows because a lot of these organizations, NRA in particular, when they get the invitation, they have said they will show up. Wal-Mart saying that it's a scheduling issue, releasing a statement in part that said, quote, "Unfortunately, we are unable to attend but we have been ongoing conversations with the White House and reaching out to lots of groups and organizations on this topic and sharing our experience. We take the sale of firearms very seriously and are committed to the responsible sale of firearms. Again, Wal-Mart, a big company that sells a lot of firearms, not at this point sending a representative to these meetings, saying that it's a scheduling matter -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Dan Lothian in Washington -- there will be two very interesting days of discussions at the White House ahead. Thank you very much.

LOTHIAN: That's right.

SAMBOLIN: Four minutes past the hour. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is about to announce a plan for sweeping new gun laws in his state. This is in the wake of the Newtown school massacre. It will reportedly include one of the nation's most restrictive bans on assault weapons.

New York is one of seven states that already ban some assault weapons, but the governor says existing laws has more holes than Swiss cheese and he wants to tighten those laws and broaden the number of weapons and magazines that it covers.

And it's this comment by Cuomo to a radio station that has gun rights activists or advocates up in arms. The governor confirming confiscation could be an option when he announces his new proposals later today in his State of the State Address.

BERMAN: He said that once. He hasn't said it again. So a lot of people thinking he may be backing off that initial statement he made there.

Five minutes after the hour right now. All U.S. troops could be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014. According to White House officials, the administration was considering leaving up to 15,000 troops behind to fight insurgents and train Afghan security forces. But now, the president is said to be open to a scenario that involves a total pull out.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and President Obama are scheduled to meet on Friday to discuss all this in Washington.

Three of the men -- of the five men charged in that rape and murder case in India have been advised to plead not guilty. They were brought into court on Monday under heavy security. The case has sparked angry protests across India about the treatment of women and it has put a spotlight on laws against sexual assaults. The victim was attacked and beaten on a bus last month. He later died from her injury.

BERMAN: Medical treatment in Cuba will keep Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez from being sworn in for a new term this week. Now, the question is: does the Constitution there allow the inauguration to be delayed. Who's going to be in charge?

Venezuela's vice president says the inauguration should happen at a, quote, "later date," but an opposition leader is asking the country's high court to decide if that's even possible. The 58-year-old Venezuelan president has been undergoing cancer treatment in Cuba for the past month.

SAMBOLIN: A newly married couple has quite a story to tell. They took their vows in a hot air balloon. But when the pilot tried to land, winds apparently blew the balloon off course and things got a little bumpy. A member of the wedding party recorded the crash on her cell phone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Brace. Hold on.

(SCREAMING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: So there were 13 people in the basket. Amazingly, only one person suffered a minor back injury.

BERMAN: You know, they say like rain on your wedding day is good luck. If that's the case, this is going to be the best luck ever. They're going to be married for 10,000 years, you know? You have nowhere to go but up from here, right?

BERMAN: Literally and figuratively.

All right. ESPN apologizing for remarks made by announcer Brent Musburger during Monday night's BCS title game. Musburger got a little carried away when he spotted Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron's girlfriend who is a beauty queen Katherine Webb in the stands. Here's how it went down in case you missed it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRENT MUSBURGER, ESPN COMMENTATOR: You quarterbacks, you get all the good looking women. What a beautiful woman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow. A.J. is doing some things right.

MUSBURGER: So you youngster in Alabama, start getting the football out and throw it around the backyard.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: So, ESPN put out this statement saying, quote, "We always try to capture interesting story lines in the relationship between an Auburn grad who is Miss Alabama and current Alabama quarterback certainly met that test. However, we apologize that the commentary in this instant went too far and Brent understands that.

You know, it's not the first time that Musburger has done something sort of like this on air. At 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time, Soledad is going to be talking to actress and model and former New York Jets employee Jenn Sterger. She says a comment by Musburger years ago helped launch her career.

SAMBOLIN: Wow. Helped launch her career.

All right. The Baseball Hall of Fame announced that its newest inductees this afternoon has some insiders say we could see a shutout because of steroids.

Here are the headliners on the ballot. Big names. Barry Bond, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, all tainted by baseball's performance-enhancing drug scandal. Catcher Mike Piazza and pitcher Curt Schilling also topping the list.

In the 7:00 hour, "Boston Globe" sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy joins Soledad. He's going to tell us who he couldn't vote for on this year's ballot.

It's -- I love this day, almost every year when they have the hall of fame balloting. This year, you know has a sour taste because of all the steroids connected people who are coming up. And it will be fascinating to see who gets in.

The people connected to steroids like Bonds and Clemens almost definitely will not get into this ballot, and again it's a mystery if anyone will get in. I think Craig Biggio who play his whole career of Houston Astros second base in the center-fielder who had 3,000 hits. I think he's getting in.

SAMBOLIN: And that's it. Wow.

BERMAN: Jack Morris, a Detroit Tiger pitcher also pitched for the Blue Jays. I think he has a shot, but that's it.

SAMBOLIN: That's a shame.

BERMAN: Well, you don't have to get someone in every year.

SAMBOLIN: No, I know that. But just a shame that it's tainted the way that it is.

BERMAN: Well, you're not going to have to deal with it for years to come.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

BERMAN: So just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water. Coming up: a close encounter with a shark near a Florida beach.

And, at a Will Ferrell movie set, find out what they stole.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. Thirteen minutes past the hour. Prosecutors continue to build their case against James Holmes, suspected of killing 12 in a massacre at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater. This is last July. It's day three of preliminary hearings to determine if the state's case against Holmes is strong enough to go to trial.

And among the graphic evidence presented in court yesterday, a 911 call where more than 30 gunshots can be heard in the background.

CNN's Casey Wian has been covering this for us. He's live in Centennial, Colorado. Good morning to you.

Casey, yesterday, prosecutors played never before released 911 calls from the day of the shooting. We just mentioned that you could -- you could hear 30 gunshots fired. What else do those tapes show us?

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Zoraida, there were 41 911 calls made the night of the shooting and prosecutors, as you mentioned, they played two of those calls.

The first one was perhaps the most dramatic moment of this preliminary hearing up until this date. The call only lasted 27 seconds. You could not really understand what the caller and the 911 dispatcher were saying to each other, but what was unmistakable was the sound of gunfire. Pop, pop, pop, pop -- 30 shots, more than 30 shots in the 27 seconds that that call lasted.

Here is what the father of one victim had to say about sitting in court and listening to this call.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM TEVES, FATHER OF THE SHOOTING VICTIM: Any one of those shots could have been the one that killed Alex. And if it wasn't, it hurt somebody else or killed one of the other people who we've become friends with. So it was horrific.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WIAN: The second call played in the court was by a 13-year-old girl who was at the movie theater with her cousins. She was calling 911. The call lasted for four minutes. It was heart-wrenching because she was having a difficult time hearing the 911 operator, the 911 operator was having a difficult time understanding her because of all the chaos.

The 911 operator tried to have her perform CPR on her young cousin who was sitting next to her shot not breathing. It was frustrating and heart-wrenching for the family members and victims in the courtroom. While listening to that call, they held hands, had the hands on each other's shoulders, were fighting back tears, very, very dramatic testimony yesterday in court, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: So sad. I can't imagine what they're going through and just the pain of reliving that. So, the detectives also described how Holmes had booby-trapped his apartment to explode using a toy car and frying pan. How did that work? Did they share some more details?

WIAN: Well, fortunately, they did. And fortunately they didn't work.

The plan according to detectives who interviewed Holmes and went to the scene was that this apartment would explode and drain resources away from first responders instead of having them go to the movie theater.

There was fishing lines strung across the inside of the apartment attached to a canister of an explosive liquid over a frying pan that contained another explosive liquid. If someone walked into that fishing line, it would trip that, cause the two to mix, create flames. Also napalm in the apartment, canisters of other explosives, diversionary smoke powder. And the floor was soak with gasoline.

If that wasn't enough, there was a remote control set that up thankfully never went off, a boom box outside playing loud music with a remote controlled car that was not really set up to control the car, the remote control was set up to blow up the apartment. Investigators say they never actually recovered that car, but they did recover the boom box and fortunately none of those devices worked -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: The brain behind all of that planning. I just have one last question for you because we're running out of time. Did we get any reaction from him as he's sitting there listening to all of this?

WIAN: No, his demeanor continues to be expressionless. Some family members say they see reaction, but, frankly, we haven't. He's remained expressionless throughout the preliminary hearing.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Casey Wian, live in Centennial, Colorado -- thank you.

BERMAN: Seventeen minutes after the hour right now. A lot of news out there.

Christine Romans here with the headlines.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning you two.

The NRA and the Obama administration are one day away from a face to face showdown on gun control. Vice President Biden's gun violence project gets down to business today, meeting with victims' rights and gun safety groups. Tomorrow, representatives of sportsmen and gun owners groups, including the National Rifle Association, get their turn.

Bad news for the Redskins rookie phenom Robert Griffin III. "The Washington Post" reports that Griffin will have surgery in the torn knee ligament in the next few days and may miss the start of next season. RG3 was hurt and left the game in Saturday's playoff loss to Seattle. One sports doctor says the LCL tear could possibly keep Griffin out for eight to 12 months and he may have an ACL tear, as well.

Way to stay classy, thieves. Someone actually robbed Ron Burgundy, $300,000 worth of copper wire and four computers were swiped from the Atlanta set of "Anchorman 2" late last month. The sequel which stars Will Ferrell is scheduled to come out at the end of the year.

Wes Mantooth, lead anchor of the Channel 9 Evening news team, has denied any involvement.

BERMAN: Shame.

ROMANS: In this caper.

Great white shark alert. Police in Jacksonville Beach tell swimmers and surfers, hey, don't go in the water.

SAMBOLIN: Really?

ROMANS: Shark researchers advised them spotted a great white shark they named Mary Lee. Just a benign name for such a big thing, just 200 yards offshore yesterday. The researchers say when the shark was tagged in September off Cape Cod, it was 16 feet long and weighed almost 3,500 pounds. They're tracking her using GPS technology. And, no, I won't go in the water.

BERMAN: You know, we're actually going to be talking to the scientist later on who helped track Mary Lee and I'll ask him how he will keep me safe for the rest of time because I'm so scared of sharks. It sounds like great technology.

SAMBOLIN: Don't go in the water. Very simple.

BERMAN: Or has scientists tracking all the sharks, keeping track of --

ROMANS: Your risk of a shark attack is almost nothing, John, especially since you're in New York in a suit in the studio.

BERMAN: But I'm standing next to -- well, never mind.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: Hey.

BERMAN: Nineteen minutes after the hour. Time for "Early Read," your local news making national headlines.

First, from the LehighValleyLive.com, a spike in flu cases taking its toll on Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley. An emergency tent has been set up to see patients with flu-like symptoms outside of the regular emergency room. There is widespread flu activity in more than 40 states across the country, 18 deaths have been reported so far.

Flu season came much, much earlier than usual and is creating all kinds of problems.

SAMBOLIN: All right. TheDenverPost.com has a story of a young man who cannot remember who he is. Police in Aurora, Colorado, hope someone can help identify this person.

BERMAN: Take a look.

SAMBOLIN: Appears to be in his 20s. Take a close look at him. He turned up at a McDonald's on Saturday. He's unable to identify himself.

He wasn't carrying an ID, he has no phone, no driver's license. Absolutely nothing. He's now in a hospital, but police say he shows no signs of injury or trauma. They ran his finger prints through a national database, but no matches turned up.

Take a close look there if you can identify him, call. Can you imagine?

BERMAN: I can't imagine. Anything can help, so if you know him, give a call.

For expanded look at all of our top stories, head to our blog CNN.com/EarlyStart. You also follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Just search for EarlyStartCNN.

SAMBOLIN: And coming up, why the company that brings you Mickey Mouse wants you to wear a magic bracelet.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Minding your business this morning. U.S. stock futures are flat ahead of the opening bell after the markets closed lower yesterday.

SAMBOLIN: And we get our first taste of earnings, after the closing bell last night. Christine has that story.

ROMANS: We're going to be looking for all these reports to see what they're saying about the economy and global growth and how they can squeeze more profit out of a year that has been at least a little tough. Stocks two days down, but futures kind of flat. Yesterday, you can see the S&P 500 is now up 2.2 percent so far for the year.

Wow, let's book it and go home. Oh, we've got a long year to go. That's where we stand. And, you know, we're thinking that quarterly earnings are going to be probably 3.3 percent growth. You know, not great, not terrible -- considering all of the headwinds we've been talking about and compared with the fourth quarter of last year.

The outrage story of the last couple of days is that there's a lawsuit. Today, AIG, the board will consider whether to join a lawsuit to sue the government for being bailed out. Remember how we had to go in and save this company, taxpayers had to save this company, it was on the verge of taking down the global economy with it because of stupid, stupid derivatives bets they made. Well, now, there's this lawsuit that the AIG board is going to consider, a lawsuit brought by the former CEO of the company, Hank Greenberg, somebody who left the company in 2005, and they'll talk today about whether they want to be a part of it. This happening as AIG is actually in a public relations campaign to say thank you to American taxpayers for saving them.

Look a little bit here for this, you know, public relations bid that they're doing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joplin, Missouri, comes back from the devastating tornado.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And now, we're helping the East Coast recover from hurricane Sandy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're a leading global insurance company --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Anyway, the timing is a little bit tough here and the current CEO of the company saying, no, we want to remind that you we do thank taxpayers for helping us.

So, I mean, it's really -- the board of directors as a fiduciary, has legal obligations to the company and shareholders to consider the demands, and respond in a timely manner. It will be making the decision in the next several weeks, basically a long way of saying maybe.

BERMAN: Shocking if they sue. It will be a worst P.R. move ever.

SAMBOLIN: They say the government forced it down their throat. It says that it was unconstitutional, and that, you know, they got a really bad deal. Fed was a loan shark, 14 percent interest. Listen, let me tell you a fun story.

If you believe in big brother, not a fun story. Disney, you could, look at these magic bands, Disney is rolling out this thing, a wrist band that you can book a guaranteed ride time, dinner reservation, a show. You do all this before leaving him.

It's tied to your credit card. It's your room key. It's your everything at Disney. Your kid for example, you go to a booth where there's a character, the character knows, Snow White knows your little kid's name is Johnny.

It's so personalized and, of course, what does Disney get in return? They know what you spent, how many times you went to something. They can tailor an experience. It's all about information and knowing how to make more money out of information from customers. Really fascinating.

And if it would cut down on the wait in line, I would do it. BERMAN: Yes. If it cuts down the waiting line, if the kids still have fun, then maybe it's a good thing. All right.

SAMBOLIN: I don't know.

BERMAN: All right. Christine Romans, thank very much.

And we will be right back. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)