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Manti Te'o Interviewed by Katie Couric; Hillary Clinton Testifies on Capitol Hill; Pentagon Announces Women Will Take Combat Roles in Military

Aired January 24, 2013 - 07:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome, everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning: a deadly and dangerous arctic blast. Bone-chilling temperatures wreak havoc from the south to New England and it's only getting worse. We've got live team coverage ahead this morning.

And new this morning, nuclear threats from North Korea against the United States. We'll tell you what the defiant nation is saying now it will do.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": And today is the day former Notre Dame star Manti Te'o speaking out about his fake girlfriend and why he didn't come forward sooner. This morning, we're going to bring you part of that interview.

Plus, a soccer player kicks the ball boy. You know, it was all caught on camera. Cheap shot or cheap trick?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And Super Bowl ads now getting their own ads. Yes, you heard me right. I'll have the details on the sneak peeks starting to leak out.

O'BRIEN: Lots to talk about this morning. We're also going to talk about women being allowed to join the infantry and artillery in the military. Talking to Senator Ron Johnson about that feisty exchange he had yesterday with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

It's Thursday, January 24th, and STARTING POINT begins right now.

Good morning, welcome, everybody. Our starting pointing this morning is the cold. So cold you might not believe it. The bitter cold blast gripping much of the country and it's not expected to go away anytime soon. In New York people looked like little mummies out on the street there with the temperatures plunging into the single digits. Street cart vendors and crews braved those temperatures, stayed on the job, kind of had to. New England, car doors were frozen shut. In northern Maine the temperature dipped as low as 36 below zero. And ski resorts in New Hampshire feeling like 84 below, 84 below. The deep freeze is expected to last through the weekend. Authorities say three people have already died from exposure to the deep cold.

Let's get right to Jennifer Delgado. She's got first the forecast for us. We also have Susan Candiotti who's live at Columbus Circle in New York City. Susan, let's start with you. How cold is it? SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is bitterly cold, like you said. Not too many people out here in Columbus Circle at this hour, but we can tell you that it is 13 degrees and by this particular gauge, 18 degrees. It degrees what sign your looking at. Wind chill factor, five. Your best bet always is to dress in layers or, if you can, stay inside. These biting temperatures have been difficult to deal with and can be dangerous.


CANDIOTTI: Talk about a double whammy. New Yorkers who made minimum home repairs after super-storm sandy may not have enough heat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we are just freezing here.

CANDIOTTI: One reason warming centers are springing up in cold weather cities, giving the most vulnerable, young and old, some relief.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I haven't had hot water and heat for three days. Yesterday a little bit of heat came on. The only heat that we got was in the bathroom.

CANDIOTTI: In Syracuse, a heavy downfall lowering visibility, giving snow blowers a workout, making it tough for postal carriers to get from house to house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hopefully the driveway will already be plowed when I get back.

CANDIOTTI: In Iowa City, Iowa, just one degree above zero. A dog shelter begging for help after a heater broke down. Extra blankets need to keep the cement floors warm for man's best friend.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a stressful environment. We're trying to keep them as comfortable as we can.

CANDIOTTI: Outside Pittsburgh, when a water main broke in the middle of the night, single digit temperatures turned gushing water into a sheet of ice. Subzero temps aren't all bad if you like ice boating. Skimming across the ice at speeds up to 60 miles-an-hour in what looks like a mini kayak with a sail.

For those who have to work outside --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As long as I bundle up really like double bundle, I'm good. I have a lot of clothes on.

CANDIOTTI: Maybe the best way to get by is thinking hot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Key Largo is a great place this time of year.


CANDIOTTI: And the forecast high there today, 77 degrees. Now, by contrast, in Gaithersburg, Maryland, yesterday dangerous for a cellphone worker who was up on a tower about 200 feet high when all of a sudden his hands went numb, his legs cramped up and a co-worker had to climb up to rescue him. He was treated at the hospital for hypothermia, but he'll be OK. So be careful out there. Soledad.

O'BRIEN: My goodness. Susan Candiotti for us, thanks, Susan, for that. Let's get right to Jennifer Delgado. First, how bad is it going to be across the nation and when does it all end?

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It is still going to be bad out there as we go through the day. I want to show you some impressive numbers. Look at this wind-chill value of minus 85. That was registered at Mt. Washington, New Hampshire. Of course that's the higher elevation, 6300 feet. They had wind gusts up to 115 miles per hour. For today, we're going to be still seeing those windy conditions. Now, our current wind-chill outside showing various areas, Green Bay, minus 13, minus 19 in Minneapolis, but it's not just the upper Midwest, might be minus four in Portland, and it feels like one degree in New York.

As we go through the next couple days, temperatures are still going to be 10 degrees below average for this time of year. Look at the average high. It should be 38 in Pittsburgh, 44 in Washington, D.C. a lot of people have been asking us what is causing this arctic outbreak? We are called in a negative phase. All this cold air is spilling down towards the south affecting parts of the northeast as well as the upper Midwest.

Now, when we're in a positive phase, I'll help you visualize this, just imagine you have a belt and tighten it up. That locks up all that polar air in the northern region. Now it looks like we could be going through these periods for the next couple of weeks ahead as we look at this arctic oscillation pattern.

O'BRIEN: Jennifer Delgado for us this morning. Thanks, Jennifer, appreciate it.

Today is the day that Manti Te'o goes on camera for the very first time to tell his story. He is the Notre Dame football player whose fake girlfriend became international news. He's going to speak to ABC's Katie Couric about the controversy surrounding his internet love affair that turned out to be a big hoax. He's admitted to lying a little bit about the relationship. Here's what he told Katie.


MANTI TE'O, COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYER: My story I felt was a guy who in times of hardship and in times of trial really, you know, held strong to his faith, held strong to his family. And I felt that that was my story.

KATIE COURIC, ABC NEWS SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Even if that hardship was perhaps exaggerated?

TE'O: No, it was -- what I went through is real. You know, the feelings, the pain, the sorrow. That was all real.


O'BRIEN: George Howell is with us this morning. George, lots of questions remain, of course, even with at least the parts of the interview that we've seen. We're going to see the full interview today.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Soledad, definitely. Fair to say Te'o has his doubters. A lot of people wanting to see what he had to say to Katie Couric but he insists he had nothing to do with this internet hoax. Te'o says his feelings were real. He claims he really believed that his online girlfriend, who he had never met, died of cancer in September.

Now, fast forward to December. Just two days before he attended the Heisman trophy ceremony, he got a call from a woman saying that she was alive or a person he thought was a woman. When faced with the media that day he kept talking about her as if she was alive. Later the sports blog, "Deadspin," broke the deception, uncovered that. But here's what Te'o told Katie.


COURIC: You stuck to the script and you knew that something was amiss, Manti.

TE'O: Correct.


TE'O: Well, if anybody put yourself in my position. Katie, put yourself in my position. This girl who I committed myself to died on September 12th. Now I get a phone call on December 6th saying that she's alive. And then I'm going to be put on national TV two days later and to ask me the same question. You know, what would you do?


HOWELL: Manti Te'o's father, Brian Te'o, stuck up for the football player saying that he's adamant his son is not a liar. Listen.


BRIAN TE'O, FATHER OF MANTI TE'O: People can speculate about what they think he is. I've known him 21 years of his life. And he's not a liar. He's a kid.


HOWELL: Then, of course, there is the real-life woman whose pictures were used to create the fake online image of Lennay Kekua. Her real name, Diane O'Meara. She said she had nothing to do with the plot and knew the mastermind, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo from high school, but tells Anderson Cooper, again, she had nothing to do with this. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DIANE O'MEARA, IDENTITY STOLEN IN MANTI TE'O HOAX: He reached out to me a day or two days before the story broke and relayed to me that he in fact was stalking my profile for five years, taking my photos and he created --

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: For five years he was doing this?

O'MEARA: He created this identity that was not me. It was this Lennay Kekua with my face on it.


HOWELL: So Soledad, there's this internet phenomena called cat- phishing where you create a fake online image and draw people in. So the question, was Te'o a victim of cat-phishing? We'll hear more from him later today when he talks to Katie Couric in that exclusive interview.

I can't wait to watch that interview. George Howell for us this morning. Thank you, George, appreciate it. So the question is do you believe Manti Te'o? Was it cat-phishing? Dawn Ricci says it's pretty easy to be duped by something like this. She's a private investigator, the president of All State Investigation, and lots of her investigations are, I would imagine, involve cat-phishing.

DAWN RICCI, PRESIDENT, ALL STATE INVESTIGATION: Yes, we get calls every day about people who meet people online, have relationships and then it obviously turns sour because a lot of them really do.

O'BRIEN: So you believe Manti Te'o?

RICCI: Oh, without a doubt. I think that there's -- I think that there's a lot more blame and background to research on Tuiasosopo.

BERMAN: Tuiasosopo.

RICCI: Yes, you got it. I think that's more -- they should really investigate more on that because he's actually done it a few times as has been reported.

O'BRIEN: I thought it was so interesting when Anderson was interviewing Diane O'Meara, who is the -- Lennay, when she said for five years Tuiasosopo was trolling her Facebook and stealing those images to create this person. Is that what you've seen in your investigations?

RICCI: Yes. I think that they take -- yes and no. But they do take one particular person and use that image time and time again. However -- yes. But also, too, a lot of my clients end up sending pictures to their online boyfriend, so you often wonder where those pictures end up and if they become the next girlfriend/boyfriend.

O'BRIEN: Oh, I see what you're saying.

RICCI: That's why there's really no way of catching the real bottom line of what is happening. In this particular case there is a culprit, there is somebody who has a background. But normally you really just can't find out who it is because everybody is fake. It's all fake.

O'BRIEN: But to what end? If you listen to Manti Te'o, he says he was asked for a checking account number. He never gave a checking account number. He went to the school to make sure his checking account couldn't be accessed.

RICCI: In his particular case because he was so wrapped up into it, and I think that the guy that was involved in it, it was -- he's the one that has the evil stem in him, because he's done it so many times. So I think he gets a kick out of it. The thing is, is that I can't figure out why he ended up picking up on Manti. I don't know why he ended up doing that to him.

O'BRIEN: What you're saying is it's Tuiasosopo that we need to sit down there and find out what happened.

RICCI: Oh, without a doubt. I think the kid is just a young kid. He fell in love and, you know, online and he fell in love with the dream and he got really hurt.

O'BRIEN: Dawn Ricci, nice to have you. Thanks for being with us.

RICCI: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Private investigator on cat-phishing.

John Berman has a look at some of the other stories making news today.

BERMAN: Good morning, Soledad. New overnight, tough talk from North Korea, maybe the toughest we've heard since Kim Jong-il's death. The defense commission calls North Korea "the sworn enemy of the United States" and plans to carry out further long-range rocket launches all part of a "new phase of confrontation with the United States." Do they actually have this nuclear capability? Here's what the South Korean defense minister says. Listen. .


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We consider that North Korea is ready to conduct a nuclear test at any time if its leadership decides to go ahead. Regarding this, we're closely regarding the North's nuclear test preparations and its military movement based on our firm and combined defense position.


BERMAN: Reaction coming in this morning to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's grilling on the hill. At one point while answering tough questions about the deadly terror attack on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, her voice cracked as she described consoling family members of the four Americans who died there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I stood next to President Obama as the marines carried those flag-draped caskets off the plane at Andrews. I put my arms around the mothers and fathers, the sisters and brothers, the sons and daughters and the wives left alone to raise their children.


BERMAN: During five and a half hours of testimony, there was also intense criticism of her and the Obama administration, like this from Republican Senator Rand Paul.


SEN. RAND PAUL, (R) KENTUCKY: Had I been president at the time and I found that you did not read the cables from Benghazi, you did not read the cables from Ambassador Stevens, I would have relieved you of your post. I think it's inexcusable.


BERMAN: And now some people are implying that the emotion you saw from Secretary Clinton was preplanned. So coming up in our next half hour, we're going to talk about that with Senator Ron Johnson, who was one-half of the most heated exchange with the secretary.

Of course less than three hours from now, Senator John Kerry will be in a nomination hearing for secretary of state. Hillary Clinton is expected to introduce Kerry to the Senate committee. President Obama picked Kerry to succeed Clinton after Susan Rice withdrew her name. Soledad.

O'BRIEN: John, thanks.

An historic announcement happening later today. Women will be allowed on the front lines of war. Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey are set to make the announcement at 1:30 this afternoon. Many former service members support the move and say women in support missions have already been drawn into battles in places like Iraq and Afghanistan and they don't have physical front lines anymore. Some serve as military police, others have gone on patrols with ground troops in order to talk to Afghan women and children.

Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is following these developments for us this morning. Where is the major opposition to this coming from, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Soledad. There are some groups that are opposing it because they have concerns about women serving in the military, frankly, and have had those concerns for years. But in the case of this, bipartisan support largely. Once the joint chiefs endorsed the idea, hard to oppose them.

Nonetheless, Senator John McCain is one of the senators articulating his view, his concern that rigorous physical standards be maintained if women are going to serve in dangerous units like infantry, special forces, then he is saying the rigorous standards must apply to them as well for everyone's safety in those types of situations. You know it's going to raise a really interesting prospect the next time the military goes on a raid to get somebody like usama bin Laden, will women be along. Soledad.

O'BRIEN: So what do women think about this -- overall about lifting its ban?

STARR: You know, from the vast majority of women who have served, you're seeing a lot of support for it. Look, the reality is hundreds of women have been injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. More than 100 women have been killed. And that is combat by any measure. So women are already serving in some very dangerous areas. This has been going on for years and it is the reality of military service in this country.

The question on the table is can they make the next step, can they be allowed to make the next step into special forces, infantry, dangerous flying missions, that sort of thing, and the Pentagon is saying yes. Soledad?

O'BRIEN: All right, Barbara Starr for us this morning. Thanks, Barbara.

Up next we'll talk to Hawaii congressman Tulsi Gabbard, one of the first female combat veterans to serve in Congress. We'll talk about that ahead.

Christine, business news.

ROMANS: Taking a bite out of the Apple out of the market. Apple boasts a record quarter, but investors say, so why is the stock down eight percent, nine percent now in premarket. I'll tell you what's not to like.


O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody. We've been telling you about a major development from the Pentagon this morning. The military will lift its combat ban on women today, and that includes women who are serving in certain sectors, including infantry and other front-line combat positions that are currently of limits. Tulsi Gabbard is one of the first female combat veterans to serve this congress. Appreciate your time this morning. So what's your reaction to the news? Do you feel like this is a major step?

REP. TULSI GABBARD, (D) HAWAII: Aloha, good morning, thanks for having me here, and yes, that is a major step that is long overdue. It is a great recognition not only of all the women who are currently serving overseas, many of them in these combat type situations already, but for women who have ever served. We have over 1.8 million women veterans across the country, countless others who have served our country over generations and this is an official recognition of the sacrifices women have been making for this country. O'BRIEN: You say "combat-type positions" and you're a combat veteran yourself. So is this to some degree semantics with the shifting of the front line or the disappearing of front lines, that women have actually really been in combat?

GABBARD: Well, I think so. You know, I think that when we look at, for example, two women, the first two women who earned silver stars since World War II, one was a military police sergeant. Another was a medic. And they both were operating on the front lines per se under fire, under extreme duress, shoulder to shoulder with their male and female counterparts. And exhibiting great courage and heroism and saving the lives of their brothers and sisters.

O'BRIEN: Ryan Smith writes in the "Wall Street Journal" this morning and he says this, "It would be distracting and potentially traumatizing to be forced to be naked in fronting of the opposite sex, particularly when your body has been ravaged by lack of hygiene. In reverse, it would be painful to witness a member of the opposite sex in such an uncomfortable and awkward position." He's obviously arguing against this. Does he have a point?

GABBARD: You know, I respectfully disagree. I think that in these situations we're talking about highly trained professionals, people who build our strong military because they place the mission first and they're there to fight as a member of a team. All of the other things that differentiate us, make us unique, whether it be gender or race or religion, all of these things fall aside when you're there putting the mission first and selflessly serving as that member of a team.

I can tell you from my own firs firsthand experience as well as the many, many people I've had the honor of serving with, whether in training or in a deployed setting, those things are not what's crossing your mind when you're operating.

O'BRIEN: Should there be jobs that are not open to women? I mean are there some positions that really women cannot do?

GABBARD: I don't think so. I think that really you have to look at what are the qualifications, what are the standards necessary for a specific job that are already in place, and opening those doors to anyone who has volunteered to serve our country. If they meet those standards, that should be the setting. I think we've heard from John McCain, for example. His concern about making sure that the high physical fitness standards are kept, and I agree. I think in some of these jobs that do require a great amount of physical fitness those standards should not be compromised. If women are in an ability to meet those standards, they should be allowed to serve.

O'BRIEN: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, Democrat from the state of Hawaii, thank you for being with us this morning. Aloha, as you say. I appreciate it the time.

GABBARD: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: We're going to obviously keep talking about the Pentagon, they're going to make that announcement this afternoon at 1:30. Ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, we're going to get some insight on it from the General "Spider" Marks. Also Victoria Clarke is former assistant secretary of defense and public affairs. She'll join us as well.

Then we'll take a sneak peek at football commercials and also tell you the story of a baby born with her heart outside the chest, an amazing story of survival. You're not going to want to miss that. We're back in just a moment.


ROMANS: Good morning. Welcome back to STARTING POINT. I'm Christine Romans minding your business this morning. Stock futures open to a mixed open. Stocks have been moving higher because of upbeat corporate earnings. Today we've got 3M, Nokia, Microsoft, Starbucks, those are all on deck before the opening bell. But we could see the NASDAQ lower and this is why. Apple shares tumbling. Apple shares are down nine percent in the premarket.

Now, look, it had a great earnings report. The company made $13 billion last quarter. That's the second biggest profit in American history behind ExxonMobil in 2008 when gas prices were at record highs. Apple also posted record iPad sales. Profit margins are getting squeezed because of older, cheaper iPhones, and lower costs of the iPad mini are growing in popularity. Investors look forward, they don't look back. They are look ahead and say is apple going to continue to deliver like this? They don't think so. Stocks down nine percent in the premarket.

You know a commercial is popular when it gets its own commercial. That's right, some companies are putting out teasers on their Super Bowl ads. Volkswagen posted part of its get happy commercial today on its YouTube channel. Toyota, taco bell, other big names are doing the same. It's a trend that started last year as companies try to drum up social media buzz ahead of the game. That Volkswagen ad so interesting, it got a lot of attention for its Darth Vader kid. Last year it had dogs barking at cars. They're trying to drum up sort of a viral sensation. Ten days to go before the Super Bowl.

BERMAN: As they were doing their Super Bowl campaign, it can't just be one day anymore, they have to pitch the whole week when they're trying to get a company to buy their ad. It has to be like the 12 days of the Super Bowl.

ROMANS: They're trying to get word of mouth and trying to get us to decide something is cool and tweet it and spread it.

O'BRIEN: Get that on social media, make it go viral. That is success.

ROMANS: That's the holy grail.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, a heated exchange, did you see this, between Secretary Clinton and Senator Ron Johnson over what the American people were told about the Benghazi attack. Senator Johnson will join us to talk about that straight ahead.

And a ball boy kicked hard on the field. Was it a cheap shot or did he deserve it? You be the judge. Back in a moment.