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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Manti Te'o's Girlfriend Mystery Deepens; Gun Control Fight; All Eyes On Armstrong; Algerian Military Raid To Free Hostages

Aired January 17, 2013 - 20:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. A big night on many fronts. A very scary, very fluid situation right now in the North African country of Algeria. Conflicting reports of the Americans held hostage there and the status of a recent rescue operation that took place today by Algerian forces.

We'll have all the latest on that coming up.

Also, tonight, according to reports, Lance Armstrong admitting he used performance enhancing drugs. His interview tonight with Oprah. We'll talk to people who say their lives were destroyed by Armstrong's lies and ask them what they will be listening for.

We begin, though, tonight, "Keeping Them Honest" with a story that is frankly beyond bizarre. The Manti Te'o hoax. Here's a football hero. His dying girlfriend. A team that's counting on him. A team, Notre dame, where Hollywood endings are almost a birthright. Where back in September linebacker Manti Te'o makes 12 tackles, powering the Irish to victory over Michigan State, even though he said he just lost his grandmother and his devoted girlfriend, Lennay Kekua.

Now Notre Dame would go on to play in the National Championship Game. Te'o would nearly win a Heisman trophy. Queue the credits, grab a hanky. Call "Sports Illustrated," put him on the cover. But just like the feel-good hit of the summer, the Manti Te'o story isn't real. The girlfriend didn't die. She didn't even exist.

Now, Te'o, his family and Notre Dame say he was simply the victim of a hoax. But "Keeping Them Honest," the record including Te'o's own statements cast doubt on the notion that it's just that simple, and whether or not he was duped. Virtually everyone who covered the story was.

Did they see what they wanted to see and not look any closer than that. They saw the girlfriend, Lennay, and her storybook meeting with Te'o. "Their stares got pleasantly tangled," writes Eric Hanson in Notre Dame's hometown paper. "Then Te'o extended his hand to the stranger with a warm smile and soulful eyes." That's from the "South Bend Indiana Tribune" describing how Te'o and Lennay met three years ago. Allegedly.

The article quotes the father, Brian Te'o's, who says, she would travel to Hawaii to see Manti first as friends and then romantically. But "Keeping Them Honest," though Te'o's own statement yesterday says nothing about any face-to-face encounters. Quote, "We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her."

So is Brian Te'o, his father, lying to the reporter, Eric Hanson, or was Manti lying to his father about her visits?

Manti's recent statements only muddy the waters. Listen once again to Te'o speaking to ESPN back on September 15th. He talks about being reunited with his grandmother and his girlfriend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MANTI T'EO, NOTRE DAME LINEBACKER: I miss them, I miss them. But I know that I'll see them again one day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Not "I'll finally meet her one day" but "I'll finally see her again." If, as Manti now says, he was the victim of a hoax that the relationship only existed online, why was he saying back then he had seen her at all?

Also we do know that Manti says he found out Lennay was a fake on December 6th when he got a call from someone with her number and her voice who told him she wasn't dead.

So why does he wait until the 26th, 20 days later, to tell his coaches? Notre Dame investigates and gets a report on January 4th. So why does it wait -- the school wait until yesterday, until after reporters at Deadspin.com run an expose to go public?

And crucially getting back to Manti, if he knew on December 6th that he'd been scammed, why two days later did he once again talk about the girlfriend he is now supposed to know is fake as if she were real. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TE'O: I don't like cancer at all. You know, cancer -- I lost both my grandparents and my girlfriend to cancer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So, again, he made that statement two days after he supposedly was informed of the hoax. Did he not understand? Was he confused? Was he embarrassed or was he in on it and trying to hide it?

We have learned more about the timeline of events today. Here's what we know right from Gary Tuchman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You didn't have to be a big college football fan to hop on the Manti Te'o bandwagon this year. A star linebacker with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who nearly won the Heisman Trophy. Hard-hitting, but soft spoken, and in love, with a girlfriend he said he met three years ago after a game.

Listen to how he described her to ESPN.

TE'O: I see the most beautiful girl I've ever met, not because of her physical beauty, but the beauty of her character, and who she is. She was just that person that I turned to.

TUCHMAN: In the same interview, Te'o talked about learning that his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, had died from leukemia.

TE'O: I cried. I yelled. I never felt that way before. This is six hours ago, I just found out my grandma passed away. And you take, you know, the love of my life. Last thing she said to me was, I love you. And that was it.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Te'o's grandmother did indeed pass away. But the woman he described as the most beautiful girl he'd ever met, the love of his life, never died. She also never lived.

(Voice-over): Te'o's version of the story goes like this. He says he met Lennay in 2009 after a football game at Stanford. He described her as being his soul mate. They were together when they could be, he would say.

Te'o's father also declared the couple spent time together in Hawaii. Te'o says his grandmother died last year on September 11th and his girlfriend a few hours later.

On September 22nd, Te'o says his girlfriend was buried, but he plays that day anyway against rival Michigan. It was at the time a heartbreaking and inspiration moment. After Notre Dame's victory, the coach honored the memory of Te'o's girlfriend with a game ball.

BRIAN KELLY, NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL COACH: And I'd like Manti to have this ball to take back to Hawaii to her.

TUCHMAN: Two months later, he told a Chicago interviewer this.

TE'O: The Michigan game. You know, when I lost my girlfriend and my grandmother, that was -- that was possibly the hardest time of my life. And to see the Notre Dame community just rally around one person, you know, not the team, just a certain individual, and to see the whole stadium both Notre Dame and Michigan fans wearing leis. You know, that (INAUDIBLE), I looked up and said, oh, heavenly father, you're the man. Like, four years ago, I couldn't see this. And all this stuff. Now you fight on. National championships, and now I'm sitting here, about to play Michigan. After losing two of the people -- two women whom I truly love.

TUCHMAN: Then on December 6th, less than three months after Lennay had supposedly died, Te'o's phone rings. He says on the other end is a voice that sounded like Lennay, who was supposed to be dead. The voice says, I'm not dead. It was all a hoax.

But then just two days later, at the Heisman Trophy ceremony, Te'o talks about Lennay as if he never got the call.

TE'O: I don't like cancer at all. You know, cancer -- I lost both my grandparents and my girlfriend to cancer.

TUCHMAN: Then three weeks later on December 26th Te'o tells Notre Dame his version of events. University officials believe him but say nothing publicly until this week.

JACK SWARBRICK, ATHLETIC DIRECTOR, NOTRE DAME: Manti was the victim of that hoax. Manti is the victim of that hoax. And he will carry that with him for a while.

TUCHMAN: But many are now wondering why the university and Te'o stayed silent for so long. Was it to preserve the integrity of an investigation or to preserve an inspirational myth in the lead-up to the National Championship Game?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And Gary Tuchman joins me now.

Where is Te'o right now? Do you know what he's doing?

TUCHMAN: Te'o is right across the street from me right now, Anderson, here in Bradenton, Florida. This is the IMG Academy, at the sports training facility. Heavily secured. We can't get in. But he's with 35 college players right now. They're training for the very important NFL Combine, which is held next month in Indianapolis. And that's the event where NFL coaches and scouts go and decide who they're going to draft in April.

So Te'o is inside there. He's had every chance to talk today. He knows there's media across the street. He's made the conscious decision not to talk, at least yet.

A truly bizarre story -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Gary Tuchman, appreciate all the latest. Thanks.

There's plenty to talk about right now with Tim Burke who broke the story on Deadspin. Also "Sports Illustrated" senior writer, Michael Rosenberg.

Tim, let's start with what we know. We know we haven't heard from him today. We know Notre Dame is still sticking by its claim he was the victim of the scam or an online identity deception. What we don't know seems endless at this point. Have you been able to fill in any blanks since we spoke last night?

TIMOTHY BURKE, EDITOR, DEADSPIN.COM: Well, we have a couple -- sort of fill in the blanks. With what we've been exposed to through journalists who have sort of shared their process in reporting the stories that we've now, you know, shown to be bunk, we know at least where some of those words were coming from. We know that Brian Te'o, Manti's dad, was the source of that origin story, if you will, the 2009 meeting at Stanford. So it sort of shifts where attention goes to the answers we want. We started off wanting to know, you know, when Manti found out. And now we really want to know who came up with that story because that's really important. That's part of the romance here. And we have all been -- once you introduce this story of Manti and Lennay with that -- with that scene, you know, it is a lens through which we view the rest of their tragic story.

And, you know, that -- those are the answers that we really want. And I suspect that if Manti puts out, you know, a conversation which, you know, he was rumored to have one scheduled with Jeremy Schaap at ESPN today that was later canceled.

Whoever he talks to, I have a feeling that he's probably not going to answer that question for us.

COOPER: So, Tim, also, I mean, do we know now who is -- I mean, who is running this hoax? Whether or not Manti was in on it, who the other players are?

BURKE: Well, our original reporting said that it was this Tuiasosopo character and two of his cousins. We weren't told if -- you know, who -- what the cousins names were. But when we asked if one of them had to have been female, if he was going to be using this to actually hoax Manti Te'o, we were told yes.

So we believe that there were three people who were part of this. But we know that Tuiasosopo, Lennay Kekua portrayal online has gone an for a long time. And now we've heard some rumors from alleged uncle of the Tuiasosopo's that says that he has done this leukemia scam other times before and in other places. No, he was on a local radio show out west, and we can't really prove that it was actually, you know, one of -- one of his uncles.

But we're hearing lots of these stories from other people who know of this, you know, this get sick from leukemia and die, and they wonder if they had designed to gain donations or something like that. We're hearing more and more that this guy has been doing this for long time.

COOPER: Michael, I know you want to be very clear. You don't know what happened. None of us really know what's -- what's happened, I guess, until Manti Te'o speaks or until there's more information that comes forward. I mean, in your gut, do you think he was a victim in this? Do you think he wasn't a victim? Do you think the truth lies somewhere in between?

MICHAEL ROSENBERG, SENIOR WRITER, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: I think it's somewhere in between. And first of all, congrats on Deadspin on outstanding work on the story. There is no reasonable explanation to any of this. I mean, it's all bizarre. So the question is among the bizarre possibilities what's the most reasonable. It seems more likely to me that maybe three people tricked Manti Te'o, duped him into believing this girl was -- existed and then he then exaggerated the relationship for whatever reason, whether it was publicity or it just got out of hand or something else. That strikes me as more reasonable than him being in on it and knowing she was fictional and fooling his entire team for a long period of time and starting it two years ago. I find that difficult to believe, but let's face it, it's all difficult to believe.

COOPER: Well, also, Michael, I don't understand, you know, if on December 6th he gets this call from her phone or a number he associates with her, and it's her voice saying it was a hoax, I'm not dead, and I'm not, you know, Lennay, then why two days later does he volunteer on a -- you know, on a panel that his girlfriend has died?

ROSENBERG: Well, there is certainly no good explanation for that. I do think if he did exaggerate the relationship and did believe she was real, all of a sudden, among other things he's thinking, oh my goodness, what have I done here? This person wasn't even real, and you panic and you cover for yourself. But you can also turn around and say, why would he turn around and tell Notre Dame officials that this was all a hoax if nobody had reason to suspect it before?

On top of that, why would he say he was not involved? Wouldn't the co-conspirator in this case, Tuiasosopo, be able to point to a bunch of evidence, e-mails, phone calls, whatever it is, that he was in on it? So the beauty of the story and the reason so many people are talking about it is that it's still a mystery, even after it's out there, and there's enough evidence on either side to make you believe what you want to believe.

COOPER: Yes. And we should say he waited 20 days to talk to university officials. I read that he wanted to tell his parents face- to-face, which, I mean, again it's -- a lot of it just doesn't seem to add up.

Tim, do you think -- I mean, if he didn't talk to ESPN today, do you think he actually will do an interview at some point, or do you think he can kind of ride this out or will try to ride it out?

BURKE: I hope for his sake that he does try to ride it out. Because I don't think there's a single thing that Manti Te'o can say right now that will improve his situation. He can either create new questions for us to ask, give us more evidence to work against him, or make him sound like even more of a naive, gullible person than he already had in the previous statement.

His best bet, if I were -- if I were his publicist, would be to tell him to answer no comment to every question about Lennay Kekua for the rest of his career.

COOPER: But, Tim, if you hadn't broken the story, Deadspin hadn't broken the story, would we even know about this? I mean, because the university didn't come forward. He hadn't come forward. Was there -- is there any evidence they had ever intended to come forward?

BURKE: Well, Yahoo's Pat Forde released something today that said the university wanted to release news about it on Monday and that Te'o and his family stepped in and told them not to. And that, you know, ESPN claims that they had been working on this for a considerable amount of time. And that they could have been close to publish. So, you know, it's very convenient that both Notre Dame says they have the private investigation and ESPN, oh, yes, we knew all about that after we published our story. But if you take them at face value, sure.

As we illustrated in some posts today on Deadspin.com, there are so many contradictory statements in the -- in the story that as people would talk about Manti Te'o and the draft, they would go back to those stories and eventually somebody, I think, would have found them.

COOPER: Right. Tim Burke, I appreciate it. Again, you guys broke the story.

Michael Rosenberg, appreciate you joining us. Thank you very much.

Let us know what you think. Follow me on Twitter right now @AndersonCooper. I've been tweeting about this. What do you think about this? Does this make any sense to you? Is there an explanation? Let me know what you think?

Up next, a filmmaker who fell for a woman online. His experience became the movie "Catfish." That movie became a verb, getting catfish, they now have a series on MTV. I'll ask the filmmaker (INAUDIBLE) whether he thinks Manti Te'o got catfished, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, we talked a bit at the top about how Manti Te'o's story, how it played out like one of those feel-good movies about Notre Dame. In retrospect, it all sounds to good to be true, which obviously it was.

The question is, was it just as obvious to reporters at the time or were they so swept up in the story that they forgot to do what no one until Deadspin did and actually check it out.

Jake Simpson has been writing about the Te'o affair on Atlantic.com. He joins me now.

First of all, Jake, what do you make of this? I mean, what's your take on it?

JAKE SIMPSON, WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Well, I have to say, it's very hard to say, you know, what exactly to make of it. As a journalist, what it seems to me is that what we have here is a story that starts as a narrative, starts as a single news story and then becomes taken as gospel, and then spirals out of control. Like, for example, you have a -- you have a cake with seven layers of frosting on top and the cake is the story.

And the first story is the "South Bend" paper that reports about this woman. The second story maybe is an ESPN story that cites this story. Then "SI" cites ESPN. COOPER: Right.

SIMPSON: And each time you get a little bit farther away from the truth. Meanwhile, nobody goes back to that cake. And maybe it's not a cake. Maybe there's nothing actually there.

COOPER: So instead of doing actual fact-checking back to the source, they're just looking at other articles and says, well, OK, if there's three other articles all of which have the spin of the story, and so they kind of just led it slide?

SIMPSON: Well, I mean, absolutely. The best thing about the Internet for journalists is that of the information is available at your fingertips. The worst thing about the Internet is the exact same thing.

COOPER: Right.

SIMPSON: So here you have journalists who may or may not have simply copied and pasted it or linked back to the original article, without -- taking the 30 minutes or 45 minutes that it would have taken to call Stanford and say, is there a Lennay Kekua ever come here? You know, call the coroner's offices in Carson, California. Did you ever bury a Lennay Kekua?

COOPER: Right.

SIMPSON: Nobody took the time to do that because they just accepted it was true.

COOPER: I heard one reporter today saying that, you know, they had asked for photographs of her from him, and Manti said, well, her family doesn't want to do that. They don't want to be contacted. And the reporter kind of backed off. I guess not wanting to kind of upset his -- the possibility of doing an interview.

If Manti does not talk -- and we were talking about before we came on air -- it really then becomes a story about the guy who allegedly perpetrated this and whether or not he talks.

SIMPSON: Well, look, if what is in the Deadspin story is true, then the person that is really going to have the answers is Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the person who's allegedly behind this. Nobody -- I have not seen that anybody has been able to contact him. We have a report that maybe an uncle was on a talk show.

COOPER: Right.

SIMPSON: But we don't really know. And if Manti Te'o, if Tim is right, and Manti Te'o's publicist tells him to say no comment for the rest of his career, then the answers are going to be with Ronaiah Tuiasosopo. What's more, he may have committed a crime when he stole this young woman's picture, identified in a Deadspin article as Riva, when she (INAUDIBLE) to him and then he used it as Lennay Kekua's picture. If that is the case, then he may have to talk to the police. He may resurface, and it seems like the answers are going to come from him, not Manti Te'o.

COOPER: It also seem there's got to be other people in his circle -- I mean, if there were more than one person involved with this, if there were two other people, and whoever this woman who was involved, because they would also be able to talk at some point.

SIMPSON: Well, they would be able to, but it's an open question whether they would. Whether they will circle the wagon to protect this person. And at this point, we don't even know where this person lives. You know, we don't know whether he is now in hiding. We really don't know anything.

And since as journalists, you know, we really did drop the ball on the story. It's really incumbent on somebody to go out and find this guy and ask him some questions.

COOPER: Yes. We'll see.

Jake Simpson, appreciate you being on. Thank you very much.

SIMPSON: Thank you.

COOPER: A strange day.

If in fact Manti Te'o was a victim of a hoax, what happened to him has a name, being catfished, as in the movie "Catfish." There's a TV show on MTV also. Boy meets girl online, boy falls in love, boy suspects girl may not be who she claims to be, boy and other documentary filmmakers set to find her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Megan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, how are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your voice is not at all what I expected.

She must be pretty awesome, at least from Facebook. Megan is a dancer. She sings. Her sister (INAUDIBLE). This is the painting of (INAUDIBLE) that she did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her mom?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow. She's hot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Facebook family. That's what we call them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what's the next move?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we drive up to Megan's farm in Michigan. This is it. Just pull up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want to drive into the driveway?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Are you crazy?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That's Nev Schulman. He and Max Joseph now produce "Catfish," the TV show, which explores dating in a digital world. That was scenes from the film. We spoke earlier tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So, I mean -- you have a lot of experience in this realm. You yourself were duped. That's what the original movie "Catfish" was about. Are you giving Manti Te'o the benefit of the doubt on this? Do you believe him? I mean, you know firsthand online dating scams happen. What do you think?

NEV SCHULMAN, STAR OF "CATFISH": I'm simply extending somewhat of an olive branch to Manti Te'o merely to say that whatever we discover to be the truth, I have been through this sort of thing. I have had my heart broken, sort of, publicly. I have been embarrassed on a global scale. So if in fact it's true and he was catfished, I want him to know that I understand. And more importantly, that I'd like to help. Whether that's in potentially getting to the bottom of all this and discovering the truth or merely offering him some advice on best ways to deal with this strange and unusual situation.

COOPER: Max, I'm curious to know what you think about this because new information has been coming out even since yesterday, and one of the things is that apparently Manti Te'o after he got a call from a number which he associated with his allegedly dead girlfriend, from that number, he then did an interview several days later in which he again talked about the death of his girlfriend, even though he had already apparently had been made aware that there was some kind of a hoax going on, according to his own story, so the question is why is he continuing to do interviews talking about his dead girlfriend if he had already been informed she wasn't?

I'm just curious, what do you believe?

MAX JOSEPH, STAR OF "CATFISH": It's hard to say. There are obviously a lot of holes in the story and things that don't add up. I think just to be safe, I err on the side of believing that Manti Te'o was duped. And that even if he received a suspicious phone call from that number, which would definitely kind of alarm anyone, he stuck to the story he believed to be true.

COOPER: Here's the other thing I don't understand, and I mean, you guys have a lot more experience in this realm than I do, certainly, but I also don't understand, he gave multiple interviews talking about this woman, and never saying that he had never met her, because you would think that that would actually be part of the story. I mean, if you had a -- somebody -- I mean, Nev, in the movie "Catfish," you know, you talked a lot about having not met this person and wanting to meet this person.

In all of these interviews that he gave over the course of their alleged relationship after her death, he never said, you know what, the most tragic thing is, I never actually even saw her face-to-face. You would think if that was part of the narrative, why wouldn't he have mentioned it?

SCHULMAN: I think once you establish yourself as in a relationship with someone publicly, and it's someone that you're dating online, there is a little bit of a stigma, and something of an embarrassment factor to admitting that you are in fact in a committed relationship with someone you've never met.

JOSEPH: There's definitely a lot of secrecy involved, which is oftentimes how things become so serious so quickly between two people because there aren't other people around to raise the flags.

COOPER: It's fascinating, Max Joseph and Nev Schulman. Guys, I appreciate you talking about it. Thank you so much.

SCHULMAN: Thank you, Anderson.

JOSEPH: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Just ahead, we're going to talk to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He's weighing in the "Raw Politics" of gun control. Does he agree with those who say that nothing President Obama has proposed would have stopped the Newtown tragedy? His answer might surprise you, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tonight, in "Raw Politics," gun control is again front and center at the annual Conference of Mayors today. Vice President Joe Biden lobbied for the White House's plan to prevent gun violence. He said the need is urgent and called for action.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT: I know we don't have absolute unanimity in this -- in this ballroom nor do we in any ballroom, but we all know, everyone acknowledges, we have to -- we have to do something. We have to act. And I hope we all agree there's a need to respond to the carnage on our streets and in our schools.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Yesterday President Obama, as you know, laid out a number of proposals and steps he's has taken on gun control including 23 executive actions that don't require congressional approval. Few Republicans are outright hostile to his plans with one Texas congressman threatening articles of impeachment over those executive orders dealing with guns. The NRA, the National Rifle Association, has denounced the proposals, but it's taking heat over a controversial ad it launched this week. The ad mentions President Obama's daughters and the security they have at their private school. The White House called it repugnant and cowardly. That's for you to decide.

New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie blasted the NRA. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: And to talk about the president's children or any public officer's children who have not by their own choice, but by requirement to have protection, and to use that somehow, to try to make a political point, I think is reprehensible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been pushing obviously for stricter gun laws for years. In our prime time exclusive, I spoke to him earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: First of all, your impressions of the president's proposals on gun control. Are you happy with them?

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK: Yes. You're never going to have everything you want, but I thought it was comprehensive. It outlined things that he can do by executive order and it outlined things that he has now got to with help from the vice president and help from lots of other people, convince Congress to do. There are two kinds of problems and he addressed both of them.

COOPER: You said earlier today that there are some things that he's not going to be able to get legislation on. He's not going to be able to get through --

BLOOMBERG: Well, I think some things are tougher than others. I think there's a general consensus in the country that background checks before you buy a gun should apply to everyone. Right now, it applies only to gun shows. I'm sorry, to gun dealers.

COOPER: Right, licensed dealers.

BLOOMBERB: Gun licensed dealers, but most people would be in favor, and I think that's easier for Congress to get done. You have to explain it to them, they have got to hear from their constituents.

And I think they will do that rather easily, compared to getting rid of assault weapons. That is a tougher sell and that's what we really have to work on. I'm optimistic, but it's tougher.

COOPER: You know, there is a school of thought of why try to go for so much? Why not go for something that has so much support, like background checks rather than try to throw in assault weapons as well?

BLOOMBERG: Look, there are lives involved here. And if you can stop -- if you can save one life, isn't that worth trying? And I always thought you should address issues when they're on the public's conscience, when they're covered by the press, and you should try to do a complete job so you don't have to come back again and again and again for the same thing.

COOPER: Marco Rubio was quoted saying, nothing that the president is proposing would have stopped the massacre at Sandy Hook. Do you agree?

BLOOMBERG: That's probably true. A woman had guns, I don't know if she went through a background check, but her son certainly didn't. He took his mother's guns and killed people. But that doesn't mean having fewer guns around isn't a bad idea.

It's like, you know, there are people who run through traffic lights, does that mean we should get rid of traffic lights? No, in macro sense, these laws do work. And there's an awful lot of evidence that if you have fewer guns, things are better.

In New York State, have very good or strong gun laws, so we have fewer guns on the streets. Our murder rate is one of the lowest murder rates of any big city.

COOPER: You look at -- Newt Gingrich brought this up on the show the other day. You look at a city like Chicago that has very tough gun legislation. It also has a very high murder rate.

BLOOMBERG: Yes, New York has tough gun legislation and a low murder rate. It's not a panacea for everything. You still have to have a very good police department, have it well funded, have it well led, have it diversified, deploy it where the problems are.

You have to be very aggressive with the kids who are most likely to carry guns to make sure they think they're going to be stopped and if they have a gun on them, they'll be arrested. That keeps them from carrying guns.

Otherwise it's a macho thing. There's no one solution this. This is however a very important step. Fewer guns means fewer murders, fewer guns means fewer suicides. Fewer guns it means you and your children are safer.

COOPER: What do you think of the NRA of how they have been fighting this?

BLOOMBERG: I don't think their strategy makes any sense at all. The other day, to bring in the president's kids was just bad PR. It was also an outrage, it really was. You don't do that. They made a big deal back, a few days after the Connecticut shooting, that the cause of all this wasn't guns.

It was the video games that are so violent, and one month later, they came up with their own video game, which was violent. I mean, you know, you're shooting at the shape of a coffin, for goodness sakes. What are we trying to teach our kids? The original thing that happened would be right on that.

These games, I think, are teaching your kids, you know, you hit a button. You can blow somebody away. You hit the reset button and they come back. That's not the real world. I know a lot of parent who don't let their kids play these games, but to have the NRA criticize, blame it on them and then do their own is ridiculous.

COOPER: They say more security in schools, security in every school. Is that something --

BLOOMBERG: You really want your kids to go to school in an armed camp, number one? Number two, more guns means more murders. How do you know some kid doesn't get the gun into school? Bringing guns into school where there are a bunch of kids isn't a smart thing to do. I have said to our police officers, everyone I talk to all the time don't take your guns home at night.

COOPER: The problem isn't just Republicans in Congress who are opposed to this. There are a lot of Democrats who are opposed --

BLOOMBERG: This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. You go back in the first two years of the Obama administration. The Democrats have the White House, the Senate and Congress, and they did nothing.

I blame both of them, and I went during the presidential campaign, I pointed out that Mitt Romney had championed an assault weapon ban in Massachusetts when he was governor, signed the bill, got it passed and signed it.

President Obama, when he was running four years ago, he championed an assault weapons ban, said he would put it in if he got elected, and neither did anything. I criticized both of them. This is not a partisan thing.

Somehow or another, Connecticut children, you know, suburban, nice, normal roan Rockwell kind of image in your mind. Somehow or other, that has touched the American public's heart.

COOPER: Mr. Mayor, thank you.

BLOOMBERG: You're welcome. Thank you for having me.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Still ahead, the interview people have been waiting for, for decades. Tonight, what will Lance Armstrong say to Oprah Winfrey? How far will he go in his reported admission of doping and will he apologize to many people whose lives that he tore apart. We're going to ask one of them, Betsy Andreu, what she will be watching for.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tonight, Lance Armstrong will speak for the first time publicly since his fall from grace. His interview with Oprah Winfrey was taped a few days ago. At least one thing has changed since then.

Tonight, Armstrong is no longer an Olympic medallist. Today, the International Olympic Committee has stripped him of the bronze medal he won at the 2000 games in Sydney. They've asked him to give it back. Armstrong has already been stripped of his seven Tour De France titles and banned from cycling.

It's the fallout from an exhaustive report by the U.S. Anti- Doping Agency to put him at the center of a team-wide doping conspiracy. In his interview with Oprah, he is expected to admit to doping and lying about it after years of flat out denials.

There's word he maybe in negotiations to return some of the sponsorship money he got from the U.S. Postal Service. He's apologized to the staff of Livestrong. Betsy Andreu think she and her husband, Frankie, a former teammate of Armstrong deserve an apology as well.

They said they told the truth and they felt Armstrong's wrath. I talked to her earlier and to Daniel Coyle, co-author of "The Secret Race, Inside the Hidden World of Tour De France Doping Cover Ups and Winning at All Cost."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So Betsy, is there anything Lance Armstrong can say tonight that will make you forgive him?

BETSY ANDREU, WIFE OF ARMSTRONG'S FORMER TEAMMATE FRANKIE ANDREU: Well, this is the thing, forgiveness isn't a switch. It really is a process. There has been so much damage done to us personally.

We do remember the good times we had with Lance, but when somebody tries to destroy your livelihood, tries to destroy your reputation for a decade, it's really difficult. And if Lance will come right out and admit to the hospital room, that's a first step.

COOPER: Admit to the hospital room, what do you mean?

ANDREU: The hospital incident. My husband, Frank and I were visiting him when he was recovering from cancer in October 1996. He had a scheduled visit with doctors and a couple of the doctors, two of the doctors came into a conference room where we were there.

With some other friends of Lance's, Frankie and I and Lance, and asked a few banal questions and then, boom, have you ever used any performance enhancing drugs. And Lance rattled off EPO, cortisone, steroids, testosterone, growth hormones.

COOPER: Do you believe he is going to say, because at the time, he indicated he may not say that he was the guy in charge of this, that he was the guy running the operation. He was just one of, you know, many teammates who did this. Can you see a scenario where he would try to make that claim?

ANDREU: The thing with Lance is he was co-owner of the team. He decided who was hired, who was fired, who got paid what. For example, when Frankie was fired in 2000, he rode the tour clean, refused to get on a comprehensive doping program seeing the doctor. He was fired from the team. For Lance to say he wasn't the ring leader there wasn't one other cyclist who owned the team like he did.

COOPER: And no one had the power he had. Dan, what are you anticipating hearing tonight? What are you going to be listening for?

DANIEL COYLE, CO-AUTHOR, "THE SECRET RACE": I'm going to be listening for two things. First, I'm going to be listening for truth and the truth is really in the details. You know, they put blood bags underneath dog kennels and smuggled them into the tour. They did transfusions on the bus.

They hired a gardener to follow the tour on a motorcycle and deliver the EPO in 1999, Lance's first tour. This whole world exists. It's real. I'm wondering if Lance who was the king pin of this world. He was the most powerful guy economically, the most connected guy, the most powerful guy, the wealthiest guy, is going to come clean in the details.

To me, that's number one. Number two is what is he going to say to Betsy Andreu. What's he's going to say to Greg Lemond? What's he's going to say o Tyler Hamilton, people who he tried to destroy. Lance is a very powerful guy, and he spent many years trying to hide people whose only crime was really telling the truth.

Travis Tiger was the guy who got the report together and is the president of the organization that is effectively banning Lance. They had a meeting to see if they could come to some agreement where Lance would cooperate.

The meeting ended very poorly with Lance walking out and saying you don't hold the keys to my redemption, I do. That's when the Oprah engine started churning.

COOPER: What are you going to be listening for?

ANDREU: I would like for him to admit that the hospital incident happened. I would like the question to be asked, did it happen? The problem is presumably there are people who went before the grand jury and said it didn't. If Lance now says it did, the same people who are protecting him can get in trouble.

Lance is going to have to go and talk to USADA, which is something that is going to be extremely difficult for him. He's going to have to tell them the detail of everything because there is no way he did this on his own. It was way too big.

COOPER: He's going to have to testify against other people?

COYLE: That's right.

COOPER: And point the finger at other people?

COYLE: That's right. This is bigger than Lance. I mean, it's funny, we get wrapped up in this Lance/Oprah drama, but the story is actually a lot bigger than Lance. It's good that the truth is coming out. It's basically a good thing there will be truth and transparency in the sport.

There's an opportunity for some truth and reconciliation because the problem here is a cultural one, really. This was a very, very dirty culture. Lance came along in a perfectly good storm, and built it into an empire.

COOPER: Do you think he can be completely honest?

ANDREU: I think this is the first step in trying to. I think being completely honest is an absolutely new concept to him, and he's doing it in such a public manner. OK, sure, there's a reason why he chose Oprah and not to go on "60 Minutes." That in and of itself speaks volumes, it's the first step. But like I said, if he drops the ball, he's going to be called on it and then nobody is going to believe him.

COOPER: It's going to be a fascinating night, the beginning of two nights. Betsy Andreu, appreciate it and Daniel Coyle, thank you very much.

ANDREU: You're welcome.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: We're going to be live at 10:00, too, so after the interview is done, join us. We'll be talking about it with Betsy and a whole panel of folks who have been following Lance for a long time.

A massive military raid to tell you about on a gas plan where Islamic terrorists kidnapped hundreds of hostages including Americans, some are free tonight, questions remain about the faith of others. The latest developments ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Fast moving story in Algeria today, an effort to free hostages, including some Americans being held by Islamic militants. Here's what we know. There's a lot we don't know. Some Americans have been freed and are out of the country, but others are still unaccounted for.

Algerians and foreign workers were taken hostage yesterday at a gas plant apparently in response to France's offensive near Mali, and tonight, we're getting word about what the hostages have been going through. The brother of an Irish hostage who escaped said his brother was forced to sleep with explosives tied around his neck at night.

And that he had duct tape over his mouth and his hands were tied. The brother said his brother he escaped when the Algerian army bombed the convoy of jeeps. The jeep's brother was in crashed, but he survived and he was able to make a break for it. There are reports of casualties in the raid to rescue the hostages, although the exact number frankly isn't known. What we do know the crisis seems far from over.

Foreign affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty joins me now live with the latest. This has been a fluid story all day long. What is the latest? What are you hearing?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: You know, the latest, Anderson, is it's not over. They apparently have taken some type of break, they being the Algerian military, for the night, but there, a senior U.S. official tells us there are still terrorists and still hostages.

It's not clear exactly how many people might have been -- might have escaped, might have been killed. You know, we understand from Defense Secretary Panetta there were probably about seven or eight Americans initially, and some, as you said, have gotten out. They talked to their families, but it is still really unclear what has happened to them.

COOPER: It surprises me there's so little information. Early this morning, you know, this raid had already begun. So the fact that information has been so slow to come out surprises me, I guess because it's a remote region. Did the Algerians give the U.S. a heads up before they conducted the raid, do we know?

DOUGHERTY: They did not. That's what we're told by U.S. officials, they didn't. That's one of the growing frustrations here. Everybody understands, of course, it was a very difficult operation and remains a difficult operation.

But without that heads up, the U.S. and I have been talking to some European countries that are expressing some frustration with a lack of information, conflicting information, not enough information on the U.S. hostages. So that is a problem.

COOPER: We're also learning from defense officials, the U.S. is increasing its role in the conflict in Mali. How so, because the French were the ones on the ground?

DOUGHERTY: Yes, they were. Well, the French are positioned there because they do have bases and they have a history in Algeria. But the United States has now agreed they will help with air lifts. That means bringing in French troops into, not necessarily directly into Mali, but into some of the surrounding areas.

Right now in Mali, they actually have -- it's difficult to get everyone who needs to get in there. There will be, we understand, some 2,500 French forces. There are some African forces that are going to go in, but the French still want other things. They want some refuelling capability and some intelligence and the U.S. is talking about that right now.

COOPER: All right, Jill Dougherty, appreciate the update. I want to get you caught up on some of the other stories we're following. Susan Hendricks is here with the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Susan. SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, FBI Director Robert Mueller met with Libyan officials today in Tripoli about the deadly attack at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi last September. A law enforcement official said there has been significant progress in the investigation and charges against suspects are expected.

Stocks surging on Wall Street, the S & P closed at a five-year high. The Dow just missed that same mark, upbeat housing numbers help boost the market.

Pauline Philips, better known as the original "Dear Abby" columnist has died after battling Alzheimer's disease. For more than 40 years, she gave out advice to millions of newspaper readers. Her daughter took over the column full time in 2002. Pauline Phillips was 94.

Got to see this one, in Slidell, Louisiana, police say a burglar forgot his mask and decided to improvise by putting a bucket over his head. Problem is, police say he broke into a seafood business where he used to work and part of his face was captured on the surveillance cameras, which helped police track them their suspect -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, you can't see out of a bucket. Anyway, Susan, thanks very much.

Coming up, dry legs, maybe? We found the genes for you. The "Ridiculist" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Time for the "Ridiculist." Tonight, I have two words for you, moisturizing jeans. Wrangler is coming out with jeans infused with natural oils and butters to protect your legs from, according to Vogue U.K, the dehydrating effects of denim.

Listen, why not? Skinny jeans, acid washed jeans, why not oily, buttery jeans? They come in three types, aloe vera, olive extract, and smooth legs, which is supposed to prevent cellulite. And yes, there is a promotional video.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you first put them on, it's cool like aloe vera, cooler than regular jeans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: The denim spa jeans will be on sale online later this month. The moisturizing effects are said to last up to 15 days, but Vogue U.K. said you'll also be able to buy a reload spray that will last up to 95 wears. Listen, I got to say, this doesn't really sound like my thing. I'm pretty particular about my jeans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: I wear a t-shirt and -- gray or white, same pair of jeans, literally the same pair of jeans every day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Also interesting.

COOPER: Because they have these jeans you don't have to wash now, or so they say. You know what I mean? No, it's true. It's true. The person says to me, like, don't wash them for a long time, meaning like a week. No, no, no. They mean like six months.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Luckily for me, no one noticed that moment on my daytime talk show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's talk about jeans because this is really nasty. Anderson cooper, as you know, was sort of outed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He admitted that he never washes his jeans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was co-hosting with Stacey London who is a fashion person, and she took his jeans and took them to get them tested at a lab. They found out there were biohazardous materials on them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had a little something about you, that you wear the same jeans every day, you never wash them. You're very particular.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you do decide to wash the dirty denim, what is your --

COOPER: This is getting blown out of proportion?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: I felt very lonely on "The View." You know you have made it when Barbara Walters casually slides away from you. I was not aware that people were suffering from the dehydrating effects of denim. But they feel the need, a very esoteric need, but a need just the same, kind of like another type of jean from SNL.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mom jeans fit mom just the way she likes it. She'll love the nine-inch zipper and casual front pleat. Cut generously to fit a mom's body. She'll want to wear them to everything from a soccer game to a night on the town.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Look, I think we're far too quick to judge each other's jean-based choices in this country. Let's get back to the true meaning of denimocracy. Wear your mom jeans. Even your moisturizing jeans and wear them proudly. They're a perfect fit on the "Ridiculist."

That's it for us. We'll be back in one hour from now. Join us on the latest of what Lance Armstrong said tonight, and also a panel of folks who knew him and wrote about him, what they have to say about the interview if he really did come clean. "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts right now.