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Using Super Bowl as a Social Platform; Te'o "Far From" Being Gay; Frigid Cold Slaps Eastern Half of U.S.; Obama to Name Next Chief of Staff; Controversial Marijuana Treatment; S.C. Sheriff Won't Enforce New Gun Laws

Aired January 25, 2013 - 10:00   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Stories we're watching right now in the NEWSROOM:

Taking a stand on social issues during Super Bowl week. One Baltimore player is using his time in the spotlight to do just that.

Tough love for Republicans and it's coming from a rising star within the party. He said it's time to change the message.


GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: We must not be the party that simply protects the well off so they can keep their toys. We've got to be the party that shows all Americans how they can thrive.


COSTELLO: And a family desperate to help their severely autistic son is turning to a controversial treatment, medical marijuana. We'll explain.

And the marketing of Manti Te'o after that hoax turned his name into a punch line. We'll talk to an expert who specializes in the selling of athletes and their images. NEWSROOM starts now.

Good morning. Thank you so much for being with us. I'm Carol Costello. It's an endorsement you rarely see in the sports world and now tied to the most watched name of the year. Brandon Ayanbadejo will be on the field with his Baltimore Raven teammates for Super Bowl XLVII against San Francisco.

But while in New Orleans for Super Bowl week, the linebacker has an off-field mission too. He wants to use the media spotlight to bring attention equal marriage, same sex marriage. Ayanbadejo told the "New York Times," he was raised around gay people and it was never allowed. Here's what the linebacker said about marriage equality on WABL radio.


BRANDON AYANBADEJO, LINEBACKER, RAVENS: For me personally I see it as a human rights issue. It's not gay rights. It's human rights. Whether it's suffrage or you know, go back to slavery or segregation, gay rights, all the same to me. I've gotten a lot of scrutiny. I'm known as the gay ambassador.


COSTELLO: Gay ambassador in the Raven's locker room. L.Z. Granderson is here. Good morning, Jay-Z? I like that. One thing, I lip sync. That's a whole other controversial. Let's talk about Ian Bidet Joe and how he might use the video frenzy surrounding the Super Bowl to talk about marriage equality.

L.Z. GRANDERSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, that's all contingent upon us, right? I mean, during media we're going to be talking to the players, highlighting the themes they're talking about. I think it's important to make note that, you know, I really appreciate, am happy with what Brendan is doing.

But he's not the first player to use the Super Bowl to talk about marriage equality and gay rights. Scott Fujita actually did it himself when the New Orleans saints won their Super Bowl. So we're seeing hopefully a good trend in terms of using this platform to talk about not just social issues dealing with gay people but social issues in general.

COSTELLO: Well, you know, some people might say give us a break. It's the Super Bowl. I just want to have fun and I won't leave the culture wars behind just for one weekend.

GRANDERSON: You know what? A lot of people feel that way about sports, period. That they don't want to talk about social issues when they're watching sports, it's supposed to be an escape. I would say to those people, we've escaped too much, over escaped, and we need to talk about these issues when everyone is watching this game in terms of being productive. Ignoring it rarely helps us solve anything.

COSTELLO: As you well know, being gay in the NFL, I don't think there are any openly gay players in the NFL, right?

GRANDERSON: Not open to us. Open to the teammates, yes, but not open to us.

COSTELLO: I was struck when Katie Couric asked Manti Te'o the question everyone was and wanted to ask him. Was this fake girlfriend a front because he was gay so let's listen to that bit and we'll talk about it on the other side.


KATIE COURIC, ABC HOST: One of the theories, many theories, Manti, making rounds is somehow you created the whole scenario to cover up your sexual orientation. Are you gay?

MANTI TE'O, LINEBACKER, NOTRE DAME: No, far from it, far from it.


COSTELLO: Just the way he answered the question. I mean, I'm sure he's not gay. I'm not going to they he's lying about it, but the way he's answering most assuredly I'm not gay.

GRANDERSON: Well, we've been down this road before. I've always found that the more secure someone is, the less arouse that kind of answer bridges and that the more insecure the person is they deny it. That's not to suggest that Manti lied to us or that he's closeted.

But only that he's insecure. What he's insecure about, I'm not really sure. It's been my experience covering politics and sports over the years that the more secure someone is, the less likely they are to be offended or putting up a front answering that question.

COSTELLO: Should she have asked that question? I'm just curious.

GRANDERSON: You know, why not because we're all whispering about it. That's one of the first things that popped out when the story broke out. I'm really glad she did because it takes it out of the shadows. There's nothing wrong with it. The more we openly talk about it and not just whispered about it, the less likely we are to see it as something salacious.

COSTELLO: L.Z. Granderson, thanks so much, and I'll be sure to call you Jay-Z from now on.

Let's turn to that the arctic blast that's plunging cold and snow. This morning many are waking up to plunging temperatures in the hard bite of winter, fountains and much of the Eastern United States frozen this morning.

Right now it's still in the teens across most of Wisconsin, but frigid cold also touching areas that have so far been basking in a mild winter, temperatures in the 20s, reaching as far south as South Carolina and Georgia. Let's check in with meteorologist Alexandra Steele to finding out when we can all get warm again.

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: All right, it's going to be a while. The biggest problem, though, the arctic air, that's there, check. The moisture, less so, so here's the storm system we're watching, a little bit of snow, snow showers through the Chicago/Ohio Valley, but the most dangerous weather right here in Kentucky and Tennessee. That's really where the ice bull's eye is.

Here's where we're seeing ice reports. Take a look at this. I want to show you what I-65 looks like. This is southbound I-65. It's a ten-car pileup. It has not moved in 10 minutes. We've been noting to this. This is just north of Elizabeth Town, Kentucky.

It's just kind of indicated about so that's really kind of the ice bull's eye and the biggest issue. Here's the timeline. Throughout this afternoon at around 3:00 we're going to see the ice will be, but believe it or not, we got a little snow coming up.

But negligible -- the axis moving toward Asheville and Greenville, I- 40 Thwart Charlotte, but believe it or not we got a little snow coming up. That's where the ice will be, . Believe it or not we've got a Little snow coming out. Washington, D.C., we'll see some snow. New York City, less than that, Esther way, Carol, it's a quit hit in or out and it will be a fait accompli tonight and tomorrow smoother sailing. The ice warning is there through Tennessee until 6:00 tomorrow night.

COSTELLO: All right, Alexandra Steel, thanks so much.

Just about two hours from now President Obama expected to announce his new white house chief of staff. Dennis McDonough, one of the president's most trusted advisers. He's been at the White House for four years and currently serves at the deputy national security adviser.

He'll replace Jack Lew who's now the president's treasury secretary. Today is Timothy Geithner's last day of Timothy Geithner's reign as treasury candidate, by the way, over the past four years, he over saw a across the. He saw controversial bailouts to the auto industry, the banging system, and the national economy mired in a deep recession. Geithner's possible selection, as I just told you, Jack Lew is awaiting confirmation hearings.

Two other stories we're following, the next images in this next story, tough to watch. It shows a severely autistic child beating himself until he's bruised and battered. But it's important to show you why his parents felt they had to turn to a controversial treatment to calm him down. Here's Nicole Dol,l our affiliate from KPTV in Portland, Oregon.


NICOLE DOLL, KPTV REPORTER (voice-over): It's difficult to watch, this video of an Oregon child hurting himself in a fit of rage. The 11-year-old Alex is severely autistic. His self destructive behavior your brought on by a genetic disorder that affects about 50,000 people this the U.S.

It causes growth in organs, in Alex's case, primarily in the brain. They can lead to seizures and autism. Alex can't communicate with words making it difficult to understand what's troubling him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Indescribable. It was horrifying. He was able to be acting normal and all of a sudden run himself into a wall.

DOLL: His parents have turned to a controversial treatment, medical marijuana to manage his behavior.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you've got no other options, are you honestly going to say no?

DOLL: It wasn't always this way though.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was actually going to be Jake for the longest time and when he was born and when we saw him we said that's not Jake. That's Alex.

DOLL: The day he was born they were full of hope up until six weeks later when their baby had his first seizure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We didn't know he was going to be autistic at that time. I think he was 3 when he first started hurting himself.

DOLL: By the time Alex was 5 it was intense self-directed rage. Alex headbutted everything he could bruising his forehead so badly he would drain until his entire face was black and blue.

They got a helmet, swaddled him like a newborn and tried mood-altering drugs. His behavior game their new normal. When he was 8, they made a heartbreaking decision to move him into a state funded group home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was like we were throwing him away, like we were just giving him to somebody else and saying, sorry, buddy, you know, you're not part of the family anymore. It was -- it was pretty rough.

DOLL: But was there a way to help him to bring back this smiling boy? Alex's family looked into Oregon's medical marijuana program and the doctor approved Alex. He's now about 1 of 50 children with card like this. While autism is not a qualifying medical condition like cancer or pain, in Alex's case the seizures are and they saw dramatic improvement.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He went from hitting himself, bloodying his face and within an hour and half. He would be playing with toys, using his hands, something at that time that was almost unheard of.

DOLL: The group home won't give him marijuana so about three times week they give it to him. Oregon law does not require a doctor to march or a child's medical marijuana use.


COSTELLO: That was Nicole Doll from our affiliate, KPTV. They do not advocate using it. They're just at their wits' end. That was so difficult to watch. So difficult, you just feel for that child and that family. So why do so many doctors object to treating children like this with medical marijuana?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Because there's no science behind it. There are no good studies out there that say that marijuana works. Marijuana has risks, right? It can shorten attention span.

It does all sorts of things cognitively and they're like do you want something that might have a down side. So the American Academy of Pediatrics is opposing marijuana for kids. We reached out to "Autism Speaks" which is a big advocacy group and they say there currently is not scientific evidence to recommend the use of marijuana for treatment of autisms symptoms.

COSTELLO: When you have a child look this and you're at your wit's end, I can totally understand.

COHEN: You totally get it when you watch that. I actually was just on the phone with a psychiatrist who treats children with autism and he said, look, I get it. I get why these parents do it.

He's in state where marijuana is not legal but he's prescribed something called Marinol, which is a pill that basically contains the same thing. He says I have given it to children because when we try everything else, there needs to be something.

When there are prescription drugs given to children with autism, they have pretty horrific side effects and pretty significant long-term side effects and so why do we think the side effects of marijuana are any worse.

COSTELLO: A South Carolina sheriff taking a public stance on gun control. He says he will not enforce any new laws he finds unconstitutional.


COSTELLO: It's 15 minutes past the hour. Time to check on our top stories. The former mayor of Detroit is going back to jail. Kwame Kilpatrick serving three days after being accused of parole violation. Kilpatrick, who is on parole after a conviction for obstruction of justice is currently on trial for public corruption.

Representatives from mothers against drunk driving meet with the Dallas Cowboys. Two players have been arrested in alcohol-related incidents recently. This week Jay Radcliff was charged with DUI.

Josh Brent faces a manslaughter charge in separate crash that killed Jerry Brown. CNN reached tout the cowboys for comment. We have not gotten a comment.

Andy Murray's advanced to Australia's Open final. He defeated 17-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer today in a tense five-set semi. Murray will now face Novak Djokovic. He is the number ranked player in the world.

Six weeks after the deadly shooting at Newtown, Connecticut, Congress now has a federal assault weapons ban to debate. The president's plan, which was introduced by California Senator Dianne Feinstein, reinstates the ban that expired in 2004. The bill also restricted ammunition magazines to ten rounds or less. The senator admits, though, it's going to be a tough battle.


SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN: If anyone asked today can you win this, the answer is we don't know. It's so uphill. There is one great hope out there, and that is you because you are stronger than the gun lobby.


COSTELLO: It's also another problem, a growing backlash among some members of the law enforcement community. They say they will not uphold any gun control laws they find unconstitutional. South Carolina's sheriff Al Canon is one of those. He joins us live now. Good morning, sir. SHERIFF AL CANNON, CHARLESSTON COMPANY: Good morning, Carol. How are you?

COSTELLO: I'm good. Thank you for joining us. How would you characterize Dianne Feinstein's bill?

CANNON: Scary, very scary.

COSTELLO: Why is that?

CANNON: Well, because -- and she says that over time it's her goal to eliminate certain types of weapons. I think that's very scary and a slippery slope. I've not seen the list of firearms that she has elaborated on, but I think that -- I personally believe that the provision in the second amendment is the final failsafe, if you will.

If you the federal an armed society, if you read the federalist papers and study the constitution, you'll see exactly why that is so important. And I believe that there is a goal to ultimately take as many firearms as possible. The differences between the firearms more often than not are cosmetic as to what is an assault weapon, that sort of thing.

COSTELLO: Well, I think the senator's bill also includes guns that will remain legal, not just guns that will become illegal to own. And these 153 weapons she's talking about she says are assault-type weapons.

CANNON: And one of the reasons I got involved in this is because, you know, I think that to an extent, I'm somewhat of a subject matter expert on this. I've dealt with gun violence, firearms all my life, and -- at least my adult life.

And another element that I strongly disagree with is the idea that somehow this is going to prevent the kind of violence that everybody's concerned about. I think there's some practical problems associated with things like the magazine capacity.

But I will tell you that I think that much of this is taking advantage of our grief and people's general lack of information and understanding about firearms in general lack of information and understanding about firearms in general.

COSTELLO: But here's the thing.

CANNON: I think to an and tent they're taking advantage of it.

COSTELLO: Here's the thing. Law enforcement, you, sir, are responsible for enforcing the laws, not determining whether as constitutional. -- if they're constitutional.

CANNON: What's not exactly right. Police officers -- and that is my opinion, quite frankly. I am an attorney, by the way.

COSTELLO: But you're also -- you're also in charge of enforcing the laws on the books. CANNON: I would be meeting with the attorney general to get guidance on that. So it's not as if I'm making the decision on my own. And think that's an important responsibility we have.

We take much of this for granted, but in the final analysis, police officers who are considered lay persons under the law, make decisions every day as to whether -- on constitutional issues, whether or not probable cause exists to arrest somebody and they actually have discretion.

COSTELLO: This is the law about a certain kind of weapon. If you went to the attorney general and he said, look you have to follow the law, this is constitutional, will you follow the law?

CANNON: Then I will probably follow it, yes. I will probably follow it. But I will look closely at my own understanding of the constitution, my own study, and will put that in the context of what he and others say.

COSTELLO: Well, you seem to be contradicting yourself when you say that, though, sir.

CANNON: No, I'm not. No, I'm not.

COSTELLO: You say you would listen but you'd make your own determination as an attorney. You're a sheriff.

CANNON: As a law enforcement officer, we have an obligation, although it rarely comes into placement, but we have an obligation to follow -- or enforce lawful laws, if you will, constitutional laws. It's very similar to what the military personnel have, to on the one hand obey orders but he's also responsible for not following unlawful orders and it's left to up to an individual.

COSTELLO: It's up to the individual to decide which laws are constitutional and then decide whether to follow them or not?

CANNON: In the final analysis because to say I was following orders or the law does not necessarily protect you from the ramifications of enforcing an unlawful order or in this case enforcing unconstitutional law.

COSTELLO: I don't believe mm generals would agree with you because they want the soldiers to follow their order. That's the way we follow orderly war.

CANNON: They tell them -- I have a military background. You're also obligated not to follow an unlawful order. They will tell you that, any general that you talk to will tell you --

COSTELLO: Any general would say I don't issue unlawful orders, at least I hope not.

CANNON: We've had -- listen, listen. On that point, Carol, there have been a number of allegations of sexual misconduct in the military here recently, and some of those involve giving -- taking advantage of rank and in effect giving orders that were taking advantage of the rank separation. So that occurs. That occurs. That's a serious problem.

COSTELLO: Well, there was also a soldier recently kicked out of the military for not following orders because he found those orders unconstitutional. So there's an example.

CANNON: And there are ramifications.

COSTELLO: That's right.

CANNON: There are obviously ramifications.

COSTELLO: There's a petition out right now calling for your resignation. So what do you say to those who don't agree with what you're saying today?

CANNON: I'm doing what I'm elected to do. I'm elected with a very narrow range of responsibilities that have to do with public safety, law enforcement, and I'm not a robot. I'm supposed to think about what it is I do, and I'd point out to you, you've been talking about the NFL making statements.

I remember then Senator Clinton screaming that she was tired of people saying that it was unpatriotic to criticize the president. All I've done is stood up and expressed my view of this very crucial part of the second amendment.

That I see in an instance of taking advantage of people's grief to pass things that in the final analysis are not in the best interest of the country and the second amendment that is such an important part of protecting this Republican.

COSTELLO: Sheriff Al cannon, Charleston County, South Carolina. Thank you so much for joining us.

CANNON: Thank you, Carol.

COSTELLO: Talk back question. Should the Super Bowl be politicized? I'll be right back.


COSTELLO: Now's your chance to talk back on one of the stories of the day. The question this morning: should the Super Bowl be politicized?

The Super Bowl. That's one of the few events that capture the nation's undivided attention. Last year some 111 million people watched. That's roughly a third of the Americans population.

One of this year's Super Bowl players, Brendan Ayanbedejo, wants to seize the media's attention to push for gay equality, something he's been passionate about for years.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) AYANBADEJO: I see it as a human rights issue. It's equal rights. Whether it's suffrage or segregation, it's all the same to me. I'm known as an ambassador, the gay ambassador.


COSTELLO: Ayanbadejo told "The New York Times" said if Ravens were to win he was to go on Ellen saying, quote, "that's my ultimate goal, to go on the Ellen show and dance with her, bust a move with her."

This isn't the first time the Super Bowl has been used as a political platform. A few years ago Tim Tebow and his mom appeared in an anti- abortion ad at the Super Bowl.


PAMELA TEBOW, TIM TEBOW'S MOTHER: I call him my miracle baby. He almost didn't make it into the world. It was so hard. He's all grown up and I still worry about his health. With all our family's been through, you have to be tough. Timmy, I'm trying to tell a story here.

TIM TEBOW, NFL QUARTERBACK: Sorry about that, Mom.


COSTELLO: There are surely those who say can't we just sit back and watch the game? Take a three-hour break from things like politics and religion and let the biggest controversy about the Super Bowl be something simple like whether Beyonce is lip sinkifr syncing during the Super Bowl. Should the Super Bowl be politicized? Facebook me or tweet me.

"We've got to stop being the stupid party." Strong words from one of the young stars in the GOP. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal says they have to stop insulting the intelligence of voters.