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Inaugural Address Criticism; First Lady Making a Fashion Statement; British Royal on the Front Line "Going Clear" Controversy

Aired January 22, 2013 - 09:00   ET



Happening now in the "NEWSROOM", Obama unbound the most liberal speech every -- missed opportunity? Reaction pouring in sharp and swift this morning to the president's inaugural speech.

Then a night to remember.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ladies and gentlemen, my better half, and my dance partner, Michelle Obama.


COSTELLO: The first lady stepping out in ravishing red, a dashing dress by designer Jason Wu. We'll talk to him live later this hour.

Arctic blast. Dangerously cold air plunging south, bringing with it heavy snow and bone-chilling winds. This deadly 86-car pile-up, a scene of absolute chaos.

Combat ready. Prince Harry on the front lines in Afghanistan.


PRINCE HARRY, UNITED KINGDOM: Our job is to make sure the guys are safe on the ground. And if that means -- if that means shooting someone who's shooting at them, that will do it.


COSTELLO: Royalty coming home after gunning down Taliban insurgents.


Remember this? Asteroids on Atari? A video game original and all its low definition, muted audio splendor. This morning, word that it may be game over for the arcade pioneer.

And heads up. A high school wrestler pinned under a ceiling light. Amazingly the kid is all right.

NEWSROOM starts now. Good morning, thank you so much for joining us. I'm Carol Costello. Depending on what side of the aisle you're on, you probably either loved the president's inaugural address or you absolutely hated it.

For all the people who praised the 19-minute speech, just as many are criticizing it. It hit on some controversial topics like gay marriage, immigration reform and climate change, and the president brought up the end of war.


OBAMA: This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steel our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending.


An economic recovery has begun. America's possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands. Youth and drive, diversity and openness.


COSTELLO: Criticism of that speech doesn't just come from Republicans, James Fallows, national correspondent for "The Atlantic," a former speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter, writes, quote, "Now, well, it's almost as if he has won re-election and knows he will never have to run again, and hears the clock ticking on his last chance to use the power of the president -- the power of the presidency on the causes he cares about."

Dan Lothian joins us from the National Cathedral where the National Prayer Service will begin in the next hour.

So the president's liberal tone, I'm thinking it won't smooth things over with Republicans.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it could present a challenge for the president. Some Republicans had looked at yesterday's remarks as a chance to essentially start over with a clean slate looking forward to the next four years, but there was sort of this criticism pushed back on the president's tone, you heard from Senator John McCain saying that, quote, he would have like to have seen some outreach in the president's marks.

Senator John Thune of South Dakota calling it, quote, "mostly 30,000 foot stuff. He," referring to the president, "wasn't doing the kind of outreach that he needs to do if he wants to get things accomplished in the second term." And Senator Susan Collins, a Republican of Maine, also chiming in, saying that she had hoped that the president's speech would be a little less partisan than it was at times.

And we heard a lot of this pushback out there in social media particular attention to a comment, a line that the president used about the nation of takers, an apparent swipe at his former GOP opponent Mitt Romney. So while a lot of people out there are celebrating the president's remarks and where the president plans to take the country over the next four years, some concern as well especially from Republicans -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Well, Dan, this was also the first time a sitting president addressed the topic of gay marriage in an inaugural address. Listen to what the president said.


OBAMA: Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law. For if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.


COSTELLO: It's interesting the president chose this time to make his strongest stand, because as you know, Dan, the Supreme Court will take up same-sex marriage in March.

LOTHIAN: That's right. You know, Carol, I don't think it should be too much of a surprise because recall over the first term, much of the first term, the president was evolving on this issue of gay marriage. Only in May that the president finally come out in support of same-sex marriage and so, you know, I don't think we should be too surprised by that.

This apparently is a continuation of that evolution. And one, you know, interesting point is that we're here at the Washington National Cathedral here in Washington for the prayer service, as you pointed out. This is a church that less than two weeks ago came out saying that they would support same-sex marriages and taking part in the service today an openly gay pastor, Reverend Nancy Wilson. She will be, along with others, offering prayers for the president and the vice president, as they look to push their agenda forward here in the next four years.

COSTELLO: Dan Lothian reporting live from the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., this morning.

Michelle Obama's style is evolving right along with the economy, social issues and government spending. She'll have four more years in her high profile position as first lady to promote the president's agenda and accomplish her own. All while making a fashion statement doing it.


It sounds so shallow, doesn't it? Let's ask Pulitzer Prize-winning fashion expert and journalist Robin Givhan.

Good morning. Thank you so much for being here.


COSTELLO: It always sounds -- it always sounds so silly when you talk about the first lady's fashion but there is meaning behind it. Please expound on that.

GIVHAN: Yes, you know, I think it's one of the things that frustrates people within the fashion industry and probably a good deal of people who cover it. There seems to be this idea that, you know, these dresses, these suits that people wear and that they buy somehow just sort of drop out of the sky, that they're made by elves or something.

You know, we're talking about a $350 billion industry, an industry made up of a tremendous number of small businesses who -- that employ actual live people. So to have a conversation about the impact of a first lady really underscoring the American fashion industry is really a conversation about a first lady who is celebrating American business.

COSTELLO: Well, besides the money she makes for the fashion industry her choices this time around, some are saying, even you were saying, because I read your article in "The Washington Post," that she sort of, through our fashion choices, is setting her second term agenda.

What do you mean by that?

GIVHAN: Well, you know, she would, I am quite sure, be loathed to describe fashion as a priority in the sense that it's something that she spends an inordinate amount of time -- an inordinate amount of time thinking about. But I do think that what she's been able to do in those situations that are high profiled, in which she doesn't actually have any speaking role. That she uses fashion to make a statement about the tone of the administration. I mean, I think for instance her style for this inauguration was far more subdued, far more pragmatic, far more I think mature in a way than what she wore the first time around.

And I think that's an indication that this administration has gone from this kind of fizzy hope and optimism to a real sense of pragmatism that still has glamour and shine to it.

COSTELLO: Yes. And just a last question. You know, some say, and you're right about her fashion choices because in the first inaugural, her fashion choices were very feminine, and the second, sometimes not so much. There are a lot of people who wish that Michelle Obama would -- I don't know, grab some more substantive measures. I mean, it's nice to say children shouldn't be overweight because they shouldn't.

It's nice to stand up for military families, and that's politically correct and correct to say, but some want her to go farther than that, and get into something controversial, like for example suicides within the militaries. Why not talk about that problem?

GIVHAN: Well, you know, I think that oftentimes people, particularly in this sort of media tweeting Instagraming age that people confuse substance with controversy, simply because something does not spark this kind of battle of pundits and talking heads and, you know, partisanship, doesn't mean that it's without substance, that it's not significant, and that it won't have a lasting impact on American lives.

COSTELLO: Robin Givhan, thank you so much for joining us this morning. We appreciate it.

GIVHAN: My pleasure.

COSTELLO: Coming up in a few minutes, one on one with Jason Wu on his dress design for Michelle Obama. Alina Cho has our live interview. That's at 9:30 Eastern. Just about 25 minutes from now.

To the weather now and a wintry blast is causing problems all over the United States. Authorities say one person was killed during this massive accident in Ohio, down near Cincinnati. It involved 86 vehicles.

The deadly pile-up was just one of many multiple crashes in Ohio due to the blinding snow. More frigid temperatures are on the way, too.

Meteorologist Jennifer Delgado is here to tell us how much worse this weather may get.

Because, man, I saw the temperature in Minnesota and I was afraid.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, you should be afraid, and Carol, it really is a serious matter. We're talking some of these wind chill values have dropped down to minus 51 and if you're in the outdoor air and say if you're in a wind chill minus 30, you know it only takes 10 minutes to develop frost bite with light winds and right now the current wind chill values are still well below freezing, minus 23 in Minneapolis.

Yes, Carol, we're scared there, but we're also talking in Green Bay as well as into Milwaukee bitterly cold and the cold conditions are going to stick around really for a good portion of the week.

Now we are going to see those wind chill values starting to come up just a bit but we still have advisories in place that looks like through about noon local times for parts of the Midwest and of course that spreads all the way over towards parts of New England. The other part of the story you just showed this video, a lot of snow has been coming down in some of these parts right along Lake Erie, Ontario.

We could see three feet of snow, Carol. Of course that is a whopper. They've been dealing with dry conditions over the last several months but it's a return.

COSTELLO: Jennifer Delgado, thank you so much.

DELGADO: People need to be safe.

COSTELLO: Absolutely.

It's not the image you might immediately think of when hearing the name Prince Harry, you know, William's brother, third in line to the British throne, perhaps more commonly known for drunken antics than a soldier on the front lines in the war in Afghanistan. But Max Foster shows us a more serious side of the British royal. One we rarely get to see.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They call this VHR, very high readiness. It might look like downtime but the call to fly can come at any time. It happened once in the middle of an interview.

PRINCE HARRY: It wasn't done in the wrong way but it was just --

FOSTER: It wasn't just being able to do his job that made Harry value his deployment to Afghanistan so highly. It was the simplicity of his life out here.

(On camera): Prince Harry stayed in these simple containers when he was here in Camp Bastian. It's a far cry from the palaces he grew up in.

(Voice-over): And when he was working overnights, things were even more basic.

PRINCE HARRY: This is my bed, I don't really make it when I'm down here which is a joy. That's it, made. Paradigm phone so this is as much privacy as one would get.

FOSTER: It was while he was out here that Harry received news that his sister-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge, was expecting a baby.

PRINCE HARRY: Can't wait to be uncle. Seems very unfair they were forced to publicize it when they were, but that's just the media for you. Well, I just only hope that she gets the necessary protection to allow her, as a mother, mother-to-be to enjoy the privacy that that comes with. Too much light there, that's the thing.

FOSTER: Harry's own privacy is clearly a concern for the prince as well, and he made little attempt to hide it.

PRINCE HARRY: I never wanted you guys to be out here, but there was an agreement made to invite you out on a deal that you -- that the media didn't speculate before my deployment. That's the only reason you guys are out here.

FOSTER: Back home, the media glare will inevitably be brighter and the pressure back on to find a partner.

PRINCE HARRY: You feel like you find the right person and everything feels right then it takes time especially for myself and my brother. You're never going to find someone who's going to jump into the position it would -- that it would hold, as simple as that.

FOSTER: Perhaps Harry's main interests himself will be getting back out to the front line as soon as he can.

Max Foster, CNN, Camp Bastian, Afghanistan.


COSTELLO: Atari, ah, the memories, remember that? It might be game over, though, for the '80s video game icon. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: Sixteen minutes past the hour. Checking our top stories now:

Florida socialite Jill Kelley says Paula Broadwell, the mistress of former CIA chief David Petraeus tried to blackmail her. That's according to CNN host and "Newsweek/Daily Beast" bureau chief Howie Kurtz, who spoke to Kelley in her first interview since the scandal broke. Kelley also tells Kurtz that her life is now a nightmare.

The iconic videogame maker Atari has filed for bankruptcy. The move intended to allow the U.S. company to break away from its unprofitable French parent company. Atari U.S. is now looking for buyers for some of its assets, including the company's games catalogue.

And take a look at this -- yes, that's exactly what it looks like, a massive boulder that has crashed into a home, happened in St. George, Utah. The woman who was at home at the time was injured and she was taken to the hospital. She's since checked out but understandably, she decided to check into a motel to recover fully. It's not known what caused this boulder to come loose.

Some in Hollywood may want to censor a new book that claims to give an inside look at Scientology from the perspective of one of its most famous defectors, the Academy Award-winning director Paul Haggis.

CNN's Miguel Marquez explains.


NARRATOR: You are a being, an intelligence, a consciousness.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Going clear in scientology is reaching a higher level of consciousness, and clearing one's self of past subconscious events. Scientologists believe going clear gives them access to a life force and they become what they call O.T.s or "Operating Thetans".

NARRATOR: You have a body. You have a mind. You are a Thetan.

MARQUEZ: Lawrence Wright, in his new book, "Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & the Prison of Belief", the author puts Scientology and its status as a religion under a microscope. Among other things, Wright focuses on Scientology's obsession with celebrity, through its most famous defector, writer/director Paul Haggis.

He won two Oscars for his film "Crash."

Haggis says he left the church after his daughters coming out as lesbian forced him to take a hard look at Scientology. He discovered accounts on anti-Scientologists Web sites about children working for hours on end, this from NBC's "Rock Center."

PAUL HAGGIS, FORMER SCIENTOLOGIST: It's horrible treatment these kids had, terrible, they're made to work so often and all day long and these terrible conditions. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) them for that. Yes, they should be taken down for that.

MARQUEZ: In a statement, the church says it "diligently followed and continues to follow all child labor laws in every state or country in which it operates." The church says complaints about children being "forced to perform chores for long hours are unfounded."

In Wright's book, Haggis says he found himself in trouble with the church when he crossed its biggest celebrity, Tom Cruise, who had worked for years to recruit director Steven Spielberg into the church. Haggis says Cruise blamed him for foiling his efforts.

The book delves into the tight relationship between Cruise and David Miscavige, the organization's leader. In 2004, Miscavige awarded the actor Scientology's freedom medal of valor.

TOM CRUISE, ACTOR: These are the times now, people, OK? These are the times we will all remember. Were you there? What did do you?

MARQUEZ: Karen Pressley worked in Hollywood's Celebrity Center in the 1980s and was part of Scientology's vanguard or Sea Org.

KAREN PRESSLEY, FORMER SCIENTOLOGIST: When David Miscavige took over the leadership of the church, he decided to focus on celebrities because the name of Scientology had lost so much power. He felt that bringing big names into Scientology was the way to build credibility back.

MARQUEZ: Before Cruise, John Travolta was Scientology's biggest star -- joining the church before his breakout role as Vinny Barbarino.

JOHN TRAVOLTA, ACTOR: You made that up.

MARQUEZ: In the 1970s sitcom "Welcome Back, Kotter." Researching and writing the book over three years, Wright found Travolta had a troubled relationship with the church, threatening to be outed as gay if he didn't fall into line. In the book, Miscavige is quoted as using a gay slur when speaking privately of Travolta.

The church calls that "a scurrilous lie from an unreliable source." Travolta has never publicly addressed his sexual orientation. He's been married to Kelly Preston since 1991.

The church's lawyer told CNN it "adamantly denies it has, or would ever disclose or threaten to disclose a member's private information."

But Pressley says she experienced it itself. She left the church in 1998 after being deemed as S.P. or suppressive person. She says she had been sent for punishment in 1990 at the church's sprawling gold base in the desert east of Los Angeles.

PRESSLEY: We were made to do hard labor, half of every day, and then the other half of the day, we were spent on our rehabilitation program, where we were to confront our treasonous actions to Scientology.

MARQUEZ: In a statement, the church said the rehabilitation workforce "is a completely voluntary program of spiritual rehabilitation and the claims of abuse while participating in the programs are false." It even included a waiver that Karen Pressley then Karen Schless signed in 1990, including she entered the program voluntarily. She told CNN she signed the document under duress.

Wright follows Miscavige's rise to Scientology's top spot, after the death of its founder L. Ron Hubbard in 1986. Miscavige is portrayed as a ruthless and cruel leader, at time using physical violence to get his way and punish subordinates -- claims again church leaders vigorously denied in the book and to CNN in 2009.

TOMMY DAVIS, SPOKESPERSON, SCIENTOLOGY: The allegations are untrue, there is nothing of the sort as they're describing by Mr. Miscavige.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: He's never kicked somebody?

DAVIS: Absolutely not.

COOPER: Never punched somebody?

DAVIS: Absolutely not.

COOPER: Never strangled somebody?

DAVIS: Absolutely not, never, never, never.

MARQUEZ: The church says Wright's book "is full of many mistake, unfounded statements, and utterly false facts, it is infused with religious bigotry." The church says it is evaluating all its legal options. So far, publishers in the U.K. and Canada have shied away from publishing the book.

The church has launched this Web site, a point for point rebuttal to each chapter. Still, sales are soaring. Today, "Going Clear" is in its second printing.


COSTELLO: Wow. Miguel Marquez is with us now from Los Angeles.

So, Miguel, this book names names of major players in the Hollywood. What's the reaction been?

MARQUEZ: Well, the reaction has been swift and furious from the Church of Scientology, both to Mr. Wright and his publisher and even to CNN at this point. Mr. Wright does say, Lawrence Wright, who wrote that book, says that he has been threatened with legal action, that several of the people he spoke to have been harassed and threatened with legal action and Random House says it, too, has been threatened with legal action.

CNN sent off a number of questions to the Church of Scientology as we were developing the story, the church got back to us with several different statements, both from lawyers and from the church itself. We're going to put these up online later, so that the church's response, their full response to all of our questions can be seen, but it is a full throttled response -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Miguel Marquez, reporting live from Los Angeles.

Anderson Cooper, by the way, will have more on Scientology tonight on "A.C 360". He'll be joined by the book's author, Lawrence Wright. The embattled author, I should say. That's 8:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

Still ahead, talk back question today, Obama's speech, what was your takeaway?,, or tweet me @carolCNN.


COSTELLO: Now is your chance to talk back on one of the big stories of the day. The question for you this morning -- Obama's speech, what was your takeaway?

Conservatives are saying, I told you so. With no election to lose, President Obama in the eyes of some Republicans declared the end of Reaganism.


CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST: This was really Obama unbound. This speech today was an ode to big government. It was a hymn to big government.


COSTELLO: In other words, Reagan's famous "government is not the solution, government is the problem" is dead, dead, dead. What's alive now, government regulations on just about every facet of American life.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce, schools and colleges to train our workers. Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play. Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable and protect its people from life's worst hazards and misfortune.


COSTELLO: Progressives are over the moon. MSNBC's Chris Matthews gushed there's so much of Lincoln in Obama's speech, with one exception. Lincoln's second inaugural speech included this famous line, quote, "With malice toward none, with charity for all, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds."

Arguably, there was little of that in Obama's speech. No extended talk of working together, of bipartisanship, but there was a not so veiled slam at Republican Paul Ryan, congressional budget chairman and former vice presidential candidate who once said 60 percent of Americans are takers because they take more in government benefits than they pay in.

And about those benefits, Mr. President?


OBAMA: They do not make us a nation of takers. They free us to take the risks that make this country great.


COSTELLO: So the talkback question for you this morning, Obama's speech, what was your takeaway?,, or tweet me @carolCNN. Your responses later this hour.

I'll be right back.