Return to Transcripts main page


Obama's Push to Name ATF Director; Costa Captain Faces Criminal Charges; Facebook Announces Graph Search; Scandal Could Doom Olympics Cycling; Sox Owners: We Need Some "Sexy Guys"

Aired January 16, 2013 - 09:30   ET


MICHAEL BOUCHARD, FORMER ASST. DIR., BUREAU OF ALCOHOL, TOBACCO AND FIREARMS: And I just don't know why, you know, the president's nominee and other people who have been nominated including the first person that the president, President Bush, put forward had been confirmed as a U.S. attorney and was in the Republican Party and they opposed him quite frankly because they said ATF was too tough on gun dealers. So, no matter who they put forward.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Right. There was an article in the "Washington Post" that said it's really -- it's not the federal government running the ATF, it's the NRA. Would you agree with that?

BOUCHARD: No, I don't think the NRA is running ATF. I think they have a say in who will run it, and quite frankly, having acting people rotate through every year or every two years, no one's running it.

We're fortunate that career people, the civil service employees of ATF, are the stable force in that agency. They've been able to keep the lid on things and trying to keep people on mission, but, again, they need a leader. They need somebody's who's connected to the administration who can stand out front and deal with the issues so they can go out and fight violent crime.

COSTELLO: And I know many people in our audience are saying, what happened about Fast and Furious? It's a terrible that happened within the ATF. It's one messed up organization. Maybe it doesn't need to be, you know, run by the government.

BOUCHARD: Well, again, "Fast and Furious", obviously, people made mistakes. But quite frankly, I think a lot of them were honest mistakes. People were trying to stop the flow of guns into Mexico. They had tried a number of different tactics.

Quite frankly, they were criticized for every tactic they used. I'm not defending what they did, but I can tell you that they were honest mistakes. People were trying to legitimately stop guns flowing to Mexico. How they did it is in question, but, again, if they had a true leader, somebody who was in there looking at a vision, looking at it from the 30,000-foot view, you might not have had something like that happen.

COSTELLO: Well, it is interesting that throughout this debate, gun control in this country and, you know, whether gun-running is a big problem in this country, which, of course, it is, the ATF has pretty much been left out of the conversation.

BOUCHARD: That's true. You know, I'm part of a small group of former ATF executives that have sent some recommendations to the vice president early on in his study. But it is odd, you know, we see directors of other agencies, police chiefs, other things, but there's no one representing ATF at the table.


BOUCHARD: And a lot of the things that went on --

COSTELLO: Go ahead.

BOUCHARD: A lot of the things that went on in the '94 assault weapon ban are going to come to fruition again, and a lot of people who had the experience dealing with it, in '94, until 2004, have a lot to say and have a lot of history about the difficulties in trying to enforce some of those regulations.

COSTELLO: So, the federal agency, the gun police if you will, it just seems really odd. And it's a big problem and there's no permanent director and there doesn't seem to be any interest in really, like, pushing for one.

BOUCHARD: It is odd. And quite frankly, you know, most of the former ATF executives were pretty much offended that no senior ATF person, perhaps they feel that would be a lightning rod in the room, but there's a lot of experience there, and if they're going to be charged with enforcing these regulations, they should sure as hell have a say in what's going to be proposed.

COSTELLO: Mike Bouchard, thanks so much for joining us this morning. We appreciate it.

BOUCHARD: Thanks for having me.

COSTELLO: A former captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship said he has no regrets, none whatsoever. He tells NBC News he understands why some people hate him for his role a year ago in the shipwreck in Italy. Remember? That killed 32 people, but he said it's wrong to think that he did not try to help after the luxury liner drifted of course.

Here's some of what he had to say here -- quoting here -- "People don't understand the ship is 58 meters wide so you don't have a chance to see who else is left on the other side. And in the moment the floor started to become steeper, you have no other option: To die or to swim. So, I regret nothing."

I'm joined now from London by CNN senior international correspondent Dan Rivers.

Are people -- well, are people angry about these comments? They must be.

DAN RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's going to inevitably inflame opinion in Italy. There have been comments from him in the Italian media, now on NBC.

We here in CNN have certainly done extensive interviews with his lawyer several months ago, in line with what he said here, that he vehemently denies that it was his fault, that as he said in this, he took over from an officer who was in -- who was piloting the cruise liner, really just seconds before it hit the rock that he couldn't do anything.

He denies fleeing the boat knowing that people were left on board. He says he didn't know how many people were left on board. And as you say there, you know, he says, "I regret nothing." The option was to die or to swim, and so he swam. He talked about sharing in the pain of the families of the victims.

But this is going to be really tough to hear for the people whose loved ones died on that ship and for those who profoundly traumatized by their experience, who survived. But -- people that we interviewed who just have the most awful, awful experience swimming for their lives, watching other people drown around them.

COSTELLO: So, he's up on charges. So, where do the court proceedings stand right now?

RIVERS: Well, probably the same as in America. It's a very lengthy process. He's facing charges not only of manslaughter but of various sort of navigation infractions and breaking the rules of the sea, if you like.

It's been reported if he's found guilty on all of them, total sentencing could be 2,500 years in jail. So, he's facing some really serious charges. The ultimate trial could be a long way off still.

Meanwhile, Costa Concordia's corporate position has been to try to distance themselves from this, to say that he was effectively a sort of rogue captain. We interviewed the CEO of the parent company, and that was very much the corporate position, was this was a -- this was a one-off. He was, you know, completely reckless in disregard for human life, and they believe that they have now put in reforms that would mean this could never happen again, including technology to track the position of the ship.

So, if it veers off course, if they try to go close to an island, like they did here to salute it, to wave to people on shore, immediately, they would be alerted in their H.Q. and they'd be able to tell them to get back out to sea.

COSTELLO: Dan Rivers reporting live for us this morning, thanks.

Ratings on Oprah Winfrey's cable network haven't been so hot since they launched in 2011, but the Queen of Talk's two-part special this week with Lance Armstrong could change all that. Find out who stands to profit the most.


COSTELLO: Since Oprah Winfrey launched her own cable TV network in 2011, she's only managed to draw a few really big audiences. There was her 2011 interview with Rihanna, that drew 2.5 million viewers. And last year, 3.5 million viewers watch her conversation with Whitney Houston's daughter.

Now, it's looking like the Queen of Talk may draw a huge audience with her exclusive sit-down with Lance Armstrong airs on Thursday and Friday nights.

So, we're wondering, how big could that audience be?

A.J. Hammer is the man to ask.

Good morning.


Yes, this is nothing but good news for Oprah Winfrey, the ratings for her network have been steadily improving across the board over the last couple of years. So, signs are pretty good for the network, and she's clearly proven she can still get the big interview that draws all those people even though she's moved her show to cable.

Now, this interview is going to attract such a big audience Oprah decided to make the most of it, turned it into a two-part interview spread over Thursday and Friday nights. They are charging a premium for ad time, which is reportedly nearly sold-out. So, that's the really good news for her.

And the speculation is she'll draw even more than the 3.5 million viewers than she did with the interview with Whitney Houston's daughter Bobbi Kristina.

But let's keep in mind, Carol, that as big as the audience maybe for these specials, Oprah's old syndicated show used to average a much bigger audience. In her last year in daytime TV, she averaged something like 6 million viewers a day.

So, it's not the same, but it's still really good. And it's a great trajectory for her network to be on right now.

COSTELLO: That's true. I guess you could look at the ad sales and try to figure it out, too. Is there an uptick in them?

HAMMER: Well, yes, as I mentioned, at least in terms of the special. It's nearly sold out for this thing. And they are getting bigger dollars for the time on this interview because, as you know, there's going to be huge, huge interest. It will garner a huge audience. And quite frankly, it could be one of the biggest audiences she's ever seen come to her network for a special interview.

COSTELLO: A.J. Hammer, many thanks.

The future of Facebook may look a lot more like Google. Why some people think Facebook's new Graph Search could change the way you use the Internet.


SKIP RIZZO, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: I think there's no more higher purpose right now than to take care of the folks that put themselves in harm's way to protect our freedoms.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More than half a million folks have done more than one tour. So, that's a tremendous emotional and physical burden we put on our folks that's totally unprecedented.

RIZZO: For acknowledging that, people are always going to have some effect. We just want them to be able to be better at making that transition back to civilized society and not carrying around that pain of war for the rest of their life.

Hi. I'm Skip Rizzo, clinical psychologist at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies.



COSTELLO: Forty-five minutes past the hour. Time to check our "Top Stories".

An Oregon sheriff says he will not enforce any new federal gun control laws. Sheriff Tim Mueller of Linn County that's outside of Eugene sent a letter to Vice President Joe Biden informing him of that. The Sheriff says thousands support his position though on Facebook. As you know, President Obama has now -- has not announced any new laws yet. He won't announce any ideas for new laws for about two hours yet.

World Bank is backing off its prediction the global economy will grow by three percent this year. The revised figure is two percent to four percent. Officials largely blame the U.S. and Europe for the drop. They say political squabbling over the fiscal cliff and the upcoming debt ceiling debate pose big risks to the worldwide economy, the ongoing recession in the Eurozone also a factor.

In Tennessee winter weather prompts a state of emergency. Salt trucks ran all night long to prevent sleet and rain from freezing on the roadways. In the meantime as much as a quarter inch of ice could form on power lines. In the eastern part of the state heavy rain is now causing flooding.

Facebook's new search tool is surrounded by hype, but others think it might be a dud. It's called "Graph Search" and it's a way to search through your Facebook network for answers, information Google cannot access. You could look for restaurants your friends like, kind of like Yelp or look for job connections like on LinkedIn or you could even use it to find singles in your area like the dating sites "Ok Cupid".

Steven Levy is the senior writer for "Wired" magazine. Steven, welcome.


COSTELLO: Ok so you went to the Facebook campus, experimented with "Graph Search". You interviewed Mark Zuckerberg. So is this really as revolutionary as we're led to believe?

LEVY: Well, it's very big for Facebook. You know Facebook has a couple of things that people do all the time. They share photos and other things with friends. They have their own little personal scrapbook called a "Timeline" which tracks where they are and Facebook thinks this is going to be the third big pillar and potentially it's the most lucrative of those three pillars because search advertising is the most, you know, successful form of revenue on the Internet.

COSTELLO: So to be clear, this is designed, though, for very specific searches. I tried to explain it, but I'm sure you can do it better.

LEVY: Right. Well, essentially what you're doing when you use Graph Search, you know, because it's sort of a somewhat obscure title is you're searching what Facebook calls your social graph. But really what you're doing is you're doing a search for all -- in all the information that Facebook has about you and the billion other people who have signed up for Facebook.

And there's all sorts of gems in that information you couldn't get at before and Facebook is giving you access to it, then, so you can make the most of your connections on Facebook and maybe connections you haven't made yet.

COSTELLO: You know, I'm just thinking the last time a big announcement was made by Facebook and Timeline and you mentioned that and Facebook people really weren't into that for a long time.

LEVY: Well, what happens typically in Facebook is they announce something and people resist it. They say, well, what's this going to do to my privacy and then some people start using it and before you know it, it becomes part of the whole system there.

Now, some people say, oh, this is like the frog, you know, in the hot water, you know, it doesn't notice when it's boiling and before you know it, look what's happened to our privacy, but Facebook tries to keep up with that by giving people more controls to control what other people can see about them in terms of the things they share there.

And this is going to be another challenge for Facebook users to say, well, wait a minute, what does this new way of exposing information mean in the terms of the way I've chosen to share it. So I think everyone who uses Facebook should take another look at their privacy settings and Facebook's tried to make it easier for them to do that.

COSTELLO: Ok. So, you interviewed Mark Zuckerberg.

LEVY: Yes.

COSTELLO: Is there any gem you want to share.

LEVY: Well I think he's incredibly excited about this. He wants to emphasize this isn't a direct competition with Google. Both Facebook and Google have their individual missions. And it just so happens that search works in different ways for each of those companies to fulfill their missions.

But on the other hand, the search you make on Google isn't a search on Facebook and vice versa. And what Facebook has is some information that Google doesn't and that makes Google insane.

COSTELLO: And I'm sure Mark Zuckerberg isn't -- is serious about that. Steven Levy, senior writer for "Wired" magazine thank you so much.

LEVY: Thank you.

COSTELLO: Our "Talk Back" question today, "Is the NRA leadership on target or out of touch?" or tweet me @CarolCNN.


COSTELLO: Oh my Facebook page is on fire. Thank you so much. "Talk Back" question today, "Is the NRA leadership on target or out of touch?"

This from John. "Out of touch. This is 2013 not 1776."

This from Sheen, "Would I feel better knowing a trained professional is guarding my child in her school? Yes, I would. Isn't that why the President's children are guarded in the same manner? Hypocrisy."

This from Christine. "Maybe most Americans should answer this question, 'How many death threats do your children get on a daily basis?' Because I'm sure the President and his family get plenty."

This from Dave, "I'm an NRA member and support them but I think they've been a bit tone deaf. They're right that guarding the schools would have been the only solution for school shootings, but they could also support better background checks and going after straw- purchasers."

Please keep the conversation going, or tweet me @CarolCNN.

Oh I love this story -- this next story I should say. Sexy guys needed on the field. A new book by former Red Sox manager Terry Francona says team owners are way too focused on who's sexy, you know, like Derek Jeter and Justin Verlander. We'll discuss next.


COSTELLO: While we wait for the next shoe to drop in the Lance Armstrong story, there's some concern today about dropping cycling from the Olympics. There is speculation that Armstrong could implicate top officials from the International Cycling Union in its doping program. If that were to happen, a member of the International Olympic Committee suggest a strong response. Dick Pound tell Reuters he gives this message to cycling officials. Quote, "We could say, look you've clearly got a problem and why don't we give you four years, eight years to sort it out. And when you think you're ready to come back, we'll see whether it would be a good idea to put you back on the program" end quote.

The San Antonio Spurs had a different kind of court opponent. A fan is actually suing the Spurs for sending star players home before the team took on the Heat in Miami in November. Coach Gregg Popovich wanted to rest four key players since the team was playing its fourth game in five days. According to ESPN the class action suit claims fans suffered economic damage for paying premium price for a ticket that should have -- that should not have cost as much.

Cam Newton was won and done at a play at Auburn, but now he plans on spending a lot more time on campus. The Carolinas Panthers quarterback who makes like $22 million a year, he returned to the university this week to enroll in classes. He'll work during his off season to get a sociology degree.

Who doesn't like a hottie on the baseball field, especially if you're a team owner? Terry Francona is revealing behind the scenes details of his time as manager of the Boston Red Sox in a new book called "Francona: the Red Sox Years". It comes out next week.

An excerpt just released by "Sports Illustrated" shows a divide between team owners and Francona and his general manager. Then Red Sox GM Theo Epstein is quoted as saying "They told us we didn't have any marketable players. We need some sexy guys that." That owner's message reportedly delivered in a meeting is said to have led to the Red Sox acquiring Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez for a total of $296 million. Hotties, sure. But both players were traded last season.

We don't make this up. And I can't wait to read the books.

"USA Today" reporting on a wide financial disparity on how Universities treat athletes compared to other students. The newspaper says, "Public universities playing Division 1 sports spend up to six times more per athlete than they spend to educate other students.

"USA Today" also cited research that "Between 2005 and 2010 spending by athletic departments rose more than twice as academic spending on a per student basis."

And that's a look at sports this morning.

The next hour of "CNN Newsroom" starts now.

Stories we're watching right now. A fiery explosion pierces the London fog and debris from an exploding helicopter showers commuters below.