Return to Transcripts main page


Coca Cola Joins Obesity Fight; US Credit Rating in Danger; Recording Basketball Game Talk; Lance Armstrong Admits Doping

Aired January 15, 2013 - 15:30   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Now this. Bottom of the hour. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

We have to talk about this, this new ad from Coca-Cola, this new Coca- Cola ad getting all kinds of attention. Basically, the crux of the message is that obesity in America is a complex issue. It concerns everyone. And the ad also says all calories count, whether they come from sugary fruits, drinks, vegetables.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, CSPI, is not at all impressed by the new Coca-Cola ad. This group is a consumer advocacy organization for better public health and nutrition.

And I want to welcome Michael Jacobson. He's executive director of the CSPI. Michael, welcome to you. Good to have you on.


BALDWIN: It seems like one perspective, Michael, Coke is stepping up. They're acknowledging this obesity issue, so what does your group have -- what is the problem with this?

JACOBSON: Well, I think this is just a typical p.r. campaign from a beleaguered company. You know, the basic issue for Coke is that sales of Coca-Cola have been declining for the last 10 years or so.

The company is being attacked from all different directions. Scientists who are doing studies showing that beverages are more conducive to weight gain than solid foods.

That schools are throwing out high-calorie drinks. Diet doctors are saying, whatever you do, avoid full calorie soft drinks. We have asked the FDA for warning labels. State legislators are saying, let's put excise taxes on soft drinks and, with sales declining, Coca-Cola feels it's got to do something.

BALDWIN: Ergo, the ad.

But I have to jump in because, you know -- and you're right. Yes, you know, obesity rates, while those are on the increase, soda consumption is on the decrease.

And I was talking to Sanjay Gupta and he said, really, just overall we're just all eating more. But, you know, look, Coke is doing pretty well. I read a quote where you basically were saying the soda industry is under siege, but reading -- what was I reading? Business Week. Business Week says Coke raked in $48 billion in profits last year and they're thinking it will be $50 billion this year.

So, do you really think they're under the attack? They seem to be doing pretty well.

JACOBSON: Well, they may be doing pretty well, but they're doing much better overseas than they are in the United States.

And -- but they see a decaying business. And with all the criticism is repositioning soft drinks from fun and happiness to disease and death. And that's not a good place for industry to be.

BALDWIN: So, then, what do you want from Coke? Because, obviously, they want to make money. They sell all kinds of things.

Short of stopping selling these sugary drinks, is there anything they can do to make a group like yours happy?

JACOBSON: Yes. There are a number of things.

Soft drinks are different from cigarettes and guns. Those products are totally -- there is no way to make them harmless. But soft drinks, coca-cola for one, could cut the calories from all of their beverages. They could mix a little bit of sugar with a little bit of an artificial sweetener and dramatically lower the calorie content.

BALDWIN: But they would say they have diet drinks.

JACOBSON: That's right. They do, but we still have a huge obesity problem. That hasn't been sufficient.

I think industry has to do more, government needs to step in and do more and people. You know, we've got to take more responsibility, also.

You know, I do believe in the personal responsibility, but when you have a company like Coca-Cola, that spends $2 billion a year marketing its sugary drinks in this country, that's a huge pressure to make people think this is a great product, no problems with it, drink away.

BALDWIN: OK. And that is -- that's not what you would like them to say, Michael Jacobson, CSPI. Michael, thank you. We appreciate you coming on.

Just a quick heads up to all of you, Ali Velshi will be interviewing the CEO of Coca-Cola this weekend, certainly asking him about this ad on "Your Money." So, watch out for that.

A little breaking news come in to me. We are getting word -- as we look at the pictures together for the first time, we're getting word of a shooting at a college in Missouri. We are told the suspect is in custody. No word yet whether anyone's been hurt. This is all happening at the Stevens Institute of Business and Arts in St. Louis.

We're making calls. We're getting more information. More on this in just a moment.


ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: From the CNNMoney Newsroom in New York, I'm Ali Velshi and this is "Your Money."

The U.S. could get its credit rating downgraded again. Holiday sales weren't as bad as we expected them to be, but there is a catch. And Dell could be ready to go private.

Let's start with credit. Ratings agency Fitch warns that Washington's dysfunction could cost the U.S. the AAA credit rating it still has with them. That is if Congress doesn't come up with what it calls a credible medium-term deficit reduction plan.

Understand that Fitch is not just looking for an eleventh hour debt ceiling deal that sets the table for another mini-crisis down the road.

The federal government hit the debt limit, as you know, on December 31st, but the Treasury is using so-called "extraordinary measures" to pay its bills through mid-February or early March.

Now, Fitch predicts that Washington will extend the debt ceiling despite the current war of words between President Obama and Republicans in Congress.

So, what happens if we get downgraded? Well, it's happened before. Remember 2011, when Standard & Poor's did it. That hit markets and the wider economy hard, though it didn't cause interest rates to increase.

This time could be different, however, because the rest of the world is getting its act together.

Even successful businesses like Ford are worried. Here's what CEO Alan Mulally told me today.


ALAN MULALLY, CEO, FORD: I think the most important thing, to your point, is that we come together around a solution that allows us to live within our means, to reduce our budget deficits and also to deal with our trade deficits and create an environment where the businesses can grow in the United States.

The most important thing is we come together with a comprehensive solution, not just working one piece or the other, but a comprehensive solution where we can start to grow the economy again for everybody.


VELSHI: But the order in which we do things matters. First, raise the debt ceiling, allowing America to pay for its bills that it's already racked up. Then come up with a longer term plan that could put us back in fiscal good health.

America's ability to meet its obligations should not be held hostage to an agreement on spending cuts.

On the money menu, retail sales went up by half a percentage point in December. That's higher than expected. Cars saw the biggest gains with sales jumping 1.8 percent at dealerships.

But other stores that see normally sales go up during the holiday season, think clothing and electronics, barely saw gains.

Now, while sales are expected to increase in 2013, it is slow going for now. For one thing, Americans are getting a little less in their paycheck now that the payroll tax holiday has ended. And a little less money means a little less shopping for now.

Dude, did you hear about Dell? Shares of the computer-maker have jumped about 15 percent in the last two days after a Bloomberg report said that it is in buyout talks with a couple of private equity firms.

The company, founded in CEO Michael Dell's dorm room in Texas back in the '80s, has been struggling lately as p.c. sales drop off.

Now, going private would allow Dell to concentrate on new opportunities like mobile computing and other areas without seeking approval from shareholders.

Dell isn't commenting on the rumors.

Well, America's economy could be poised for a comeback in 2013. I want to admit to being biased, not partisan, but definitely biased against the stupidity of politicians who are willing to put your economy at risk.

I am worried that these battles over the debt ceiling, these ridiculous sequester cuts that are coming up next and the refusal to agree to a budget could derail an economic renaissance here in the United States.

But investors don't seem all that worried, at least for now. While some of you asked me whether you should wait until the debt and budget stuff is worked out to get back into the stock market, investors have put $19.8 billion back into U.S. stocks and stockholding funds since January 1st.

Markets are doing well, too. The S&P 500, which may look like your 401(k) or your IRA investments is already up about 3 percent for the year and hit a five-year high last week.

Now, in a low interest environment, like the one we're in now, you're not going to make money without being in stocks, but be careful. A recent CNNMoney survey of money managers and investment strategists predicted that the S&P would only go up about 4.5 percent this year. That's after gaining 13 percent in 2012.

What they're afraid of Washington's unending partisan warfare getting in the way of economic growth. As I said, 2013 could be the year that America cruises back into prosperity.

There is a domestic energy boom. There is a return of manufacturing. They're going to create job opportunities for Americans, but businesses hate uncertainty and, as Washington battles over issues that are important to America's economy, debt spending and budgets, businesses will continue to hold back on investment and on hiring.

I'm glad investors are so confident right now. Let's hope Washington doesn't mess it up for you.

That's it for me, from the CNNMoney Newsroom in New York. I'm out. Same time tomorrow.


BALDWIN: We are getting a little bit more on our breaking news, so just a heads up, if you're in this area in St. Louis, there is word of a shooting at this college in Missouri. We are told the suspect is in custody.

Still no word yet as to whether anyone has been injured. This is all happening at the Stevens Institute of Business and Arts in St. Louis. Obviously, any updates we'll pass them along to you live on CNN.

His managers are really bugging New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony here, but it is not exactly what you think. Let me explain.

The "Star-Ledger" newspaper is reporting that Knicks management put extra microphones on the court in Chicago and get this. The New Jersey paper is reporting, quote, "These guys had one directive from Knicks owner James Dolan -- record every syllable Carmelo Anthony utters and absorbs while he's on the court and on the bench," end quote.

"Ledger" goes on to say the move was reaction to Anthony's face-off with Boston Celtic Kevin Garnett who reportedly taunted Anthony about his wife.

The Knicks are telling CNN, no comment, but we all know who will talk here, CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin. She joins me from New York.


BALDWIN: You're going to talk. We got a microphone on you. But, seriously, Sunny, putting microphone on the courts, is this even legal?

HOSTIN: It isn't legal, but it really feels icky, doesn't it? It feels sort of Big Brother-ish, a bit like "spy-gate." But there's no expectation of privation on a basketball court. I mean, these are public guys playing a very public game in front of millions of people that may be watching and, certainly, a lot of people in whatever venue they're playing in.

And so it isn't illegal. I think it just feels bad to most. What people should note is, typically, if you're on the phone or in your office or in a certain place, there is an expectation of privacy and so it depends on which state you're in.

For the Knicks, if they're in New York and they try to bug, let's say, his telephone, that would be a problem because New York is a one-party consent state. And that really means, hey, if one party consents to it, then it is OK. Both parties to the conversation don't have to consent.

BALDWIN: But if they're looking -- OK, so, back to Carmelo Anthony, specifically. If they're looking to get his audio and if you have this microphone, you and I know how microphones work, right? It doesn't necessarily just catch which I'm saying or what you're saying. It could catch any kind of ambient noise around us.

So, wouldn't management then be exposing themselves to potential trouble with that?

HOSTIN: Yeah. That's an interesting question because I think that's the question everyone is asking. Well, what if the conversations of other players are picked up?

But, again, this is a very public venue, Brooke, so I'm not really troubled by it. I think the players are going to feel like, well, what is the next step?

If management is going to now start bugging the court, are they going to bug practices? Are they also going to bug my car? Are they going to bug my office?

Then it becomes a slippery slope. I mean, when do you stop?

But, right now, I think it is probably OK.


Let me get to this other case, this 12-year-old boy in California has now been convicted, just convicted of second-degree murder in the death of his father, neo-Nazi leader Jeff Hall.

The boy did commit the killing when he was 10-years-old. A judge in this juvenile court said the child knew what he was doing, knew that it was wrong, sentencing will be held next month.

And we're not saying his name here because of his age, but, Sunny this young man could be put away in this juvenile facility until he's 23. His lawyer says he will appeal. Appeal on what grounds?

HOSTIN: You know, he hasn't indicated what grounds he's will appeal. Typically, when you have a case like this involving such a young person -- he was 10-years-old, Brooke, when this crime was committed -- you sort of attack on that ground. I mean, this is an unusual type of case.

But I've got to tell you this was a case tried in front of a judge in juvenile court, significant evidence that this was an abused child, his father, a neo-Nazi, who allegedly beat him and sort of also mentally and emotionally abused him, so I suspect, if you're his lawyer, you're going to try to attack the conviction on those grounds, as well.

When this story first broke a couple of years ago, people were talking about an insanity defense, that this kid was just so abused that he wasn't responsible, so I suspect perhaps that angle will be explored on appeal.

But this is a very, very sad case. Can you imagine a 10-year-old committing a crime like this? I have a 10-year-old myself and that's just really a very young, young child. That's a baby.

BALDWIN: And because he's a baby, he was a baby when he did this, it's a juvenile murder conviction, so the slate is wiped clean when he's an adult, correct?

HOSTIN: See, a lot of people think that and that's really not necessarily the case.

It is a serious, violent felony and the rules change, Brooke, from state to state, but typically in my experience, you know, that doesn't happen when you have a serious felony. The case isn't just expunged. That means, it is as if the crime never happened.

Sealed? May be a different story. Maybe removed from public record, but you can still find it, but an expungement of a second-degree murder conviction, I don't think that's going to happen.

And many people, Brooke, believe that these things automatically happen in a juvenile case, sealed or expunged, automatically. That's not true either. It's a slow, painful process to try to get records sealed or expunged.

BALDWIN: OK. Sunny Hostin, "On the Case." Sunny, I appreciate it today.

HOSTIN: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: I do want to take you back to St. Louis and let's throw those pictures back up, Michael. You see all these police cars, a huge police presence responding to the shooting at this college in St. Louis.

If you know the area, this is at the Stevens Institute of Business and Arts. Again, apparently, the suspect is in custody but we are getting word that two adult men have been sent to the hospital. They are in critical condition. More updates in just a moment.


BALDWIN: After years and years lying to the world, Lance Armstrong is finally coming clean. Oprah Winfrey sitting down with a man who was once called America's greatest sporting hero.

In that interview, lasted some two-and-a-half hours on tape, basically blows the lid on Armstrong's doping.

And, earlier today, I spoke with one of his former teammates. His name is Paul Willerton and he told me what part Lance Armstrong played in cycling's culture of drug use.


PAUL WILLERTON, NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP TEAMMATE OF LANCE ARMSTRONG: At the time that it all started happening with the blood products and EPO and blood doping and that sort of thing, we were very confused by what was happening.

So, when the sports started to change and the speed started to go up so dramatically, there were actually quite a few who got pushed out just because we were confused and didn't do research and didn't -- it never occurred to us that we actually had to do these types of products to compete.

BALDWIN: Did you know some of these teammates who felt that they were forced into juicing or else they were off the team?

WILLERTON: Yeah. Lots of them are my friends and they are still friends. So, we talk about it. We talked about it back then and it's not a very large community.

A lot of us tried to tell this story to the world over a decade ago and the ones who did just got annihilated by Lance Armstrong.

BALDWIN: Annihilated. That's a strong word and you talk about apologies for you or your teammates, members of the bicycling community.

So, I mean, Paul, forget about the cheating, the lying, the duping the world for years. What about you and these other cyclists and the teammates? Because Lance Armstrong for years, basically, calling you all liars, daring to blow the whistle, daring to defame him.

Is his confession good enough for you?

WILLERTON: No. No, it was never going to be about a confession. I think the confession now is really just a starting point for him to help the sport of cycling.

There are a lot of people out there who are still lying. There's his former doctor, Michele Ferrari. There's his former team director, Johan Bruyneel. These guys are still perpetrating the lies that -- and deception that Lance ruled over.

And Lance holds the keys. He wants his control back and he desperately wants to be liked by the American public and you can't have it all.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: Again, my thanks to Paul Willerton, former teammate of Lance Armstrong. Oprah Winfrey's interview with Armstrong airs on the Oprah Winfrey Network. That happens Thursday.

Back to St. Louis. Back to these pictures. We're getting new pictures here of clearly an upped police presence in St. Louis.

If you know the area, this is Washington Avenue in St. Louis. There has been a shooting.

Here's some new video. This is video on the ground. You can see -- at least, I spy at least one ambulance, possibly more.

The big question is injuries. Police are telling us at least two adult men being taken to the hospital in critical condition.

Is one of those adult men the shooter who is in custody? We do not know.

This is all still coming into us. We're going to talk more about this on the other side of the break. Stay right here.


BALDWIN: Back to our breaking news, back to these aerial pictures over St. Louis. There's been a shooting in this college.

It's called the Stevens Institute of Business and Arts. Again, if you're familiar with this area, it's Washington Avenue.

We now know, according to the police, a suspect is in custody. A police officer wouldn't tell us if anyone was dead, but we can tell you as far as injuries go, two people are injured.

This is according to Captain Dan Sutter with the St. Louis Fire Department. Says that there are two adult males. They are in critical condition, but he wouldn't say if one of the victims was the shooter, wouldn't talk details with either of those injuries and that's what we have so far in St. Louis.

Thanks so much for being with me. Joe Johns in "The Situation Room" today. Hey, Joe.