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Doubt About "American Idol: Singer; Tuiasosopo Says He's in Love with Te'o; Senator Menendez Accused of Partying with Prostitutes; Interactive Ads Keep Viewers Involved During Super Bowl; Former WNBA Star Shifts Focus to Education.

Aired February 1, 2013 - 13:30   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: And there's a question as to whether or not this is true, right?

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Yes. There's definitely a lot of questions, Suzanne. Right now, it looks like he was hurt while serving in the military, but the question is whether he was wounded by an IED. At first, it was a typical "American Idol" contestant story. And he had a young daughter with him, and telling of his service in Iraq. Take a look at that.


MATT FARMER, AMERICAN IDOL CONTESTANT: We were on a mission in Iraq, and we came across an IED, and it exploded. I just remember waking up in the hospital in Kuwait. I was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury. It's when your brain goes through, like, a severe concussion.


TURNER: So he sang for the judges. You heard him earlier. He was very good. He was given a ticket to go to Hollywood. But after the episode aired, a web site, called Guardian of Valor, which aims to unmask people who lie about their military service, claimed Farmer was not injured by an IED. They printed allegations from men that served with him, who say he was hurt in an accident and that he embellished his story during his "Idol" appearance.

I should point out, like so many things on the allegations, it came with the names of the men that were making them. And when you put a face to the allegations, they lend a little more credibility.

MALVEAUX: Is he saying he made this up? Initially he said there was editing done by the producers.

TURNER: Yes. Guardian of Valor is running a response they say is from him. And it's the second response they say they got from him. This latest response is where he admits that he was not wounded by an IED, but it's not the statement that is blaming the show for changing his story. The statement we are still working on right now and trying to confirm says the show took some of his statements out of context, but that he says he has had a problem with lying from a long time ago. He also says he is no longer affiliated with the show.


TURNER: He was advised not to talk, but felt he needed to get this out and says in fact the story was not true.

MALVEAUX: Any reactions from the judges to all this?

TURNER: Not yet. I put in a call to Randy Jackson and have not heard from him. We reached out to FOX for a response. They have not gotten back to us yet. This is not the first time a contestant on one of the shows tried this. We have seen it time and time again. And it seems like these stories, in the end, always gets found out.

MALVEAUX: Thank you, Nischelle. Appreciate it.

Aerosmith singer, Steven Tyler, is fighting for the celebrity rights. How he can become the face of the paparazzi bill.

And the man who says he is behind the hoax that broke Manti Te'o's heart, he's now speaking out. He tells Dr. Phil he is in love with Te'o.


MALVEAUX: Two popular cold medicines being recalled now. The drug maker says caps on bottles of Triaminic and Theraflu. The company says it's received four reports of accident ingestion, kids just ingesting all of this. You can get more information about it at

And the man that pretended to be Manti Te'o's girlfriend for months is now speaking out. He told Dr. Phil why he wanted to kill the fake girlfriend off. He says partly because he was in love with Te'o.

Casey Wian has the story.


RONAIAH TUIASOSOPO, CREATED TE'O HOAX: I tried every other way to end this. I tried this lie and this lie and this lie. But nothing would work.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the self- proclaimed master mind of the Manti Te'o fake girlfriend hoax, telling dr. Phil why he decided to kill of the persona he created, Lennay Kakua. Tuiasosopo said he was in love with Te'o and ended the relationship out of revenge when he said he was in contact with other women over Skype.

TUIASOSOPO: Me, Ronaiah, I was hurting. It hurt me. Like it hit me like a brick wall. I was like, whoa. You know, I've given so much into this. And I realized right then in that moment that I poured so much into Lennay that I, myself, wasn't getting nothing, and look what I was left with. I made the decision, I can't do this Lennay thing anymore.

WIAN: That started a national scandal. The well-publicized story of the tragic death of Te'o's girlfriend on the same day his grandmother died was revealed as a hoax by the sports web site, Deadspin.

TIMOTHY BURKE, REPORTER, DEADSPIN.COM: It's important to remember this is a compulsive liar who pretended to be another person for several years. That he would suddenly open up and become honest with Dr. Phil, I'm not sure how much we can trust out of Tuiasosopo's mouth.

WIAN: Tuiasosopo backed up his claim about his role in the hoax.

TUIASOSOPO: Truthfully, honestly, he had no involvement.

WIAN: The Heisman Trophy runner up admitted on Katie Couric's show he lied about his relationship but only after realizing he was a victim of deception.

MANTI TE'O, BALTIMORE RAVENS RUNNING BACK: What I went through was real. The feelings, the pain, the sorrow, that was all real.

WIAN: Questions remain about Tuiasosopo's claim that it was his voice on phone messages released by Te'o.


UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: I'm going to say good night. I love you, I know you're probably with the boys, but I do love you and good night and I'll be OK tonight.


WIAN: Dr. Phil asked Tuiasosopo to recreate the voice. He initially refused, but then agreed. The show held that portion of the interview for part two on Friday.

WIAN (on camera): A spokeswoman for the "Dr. Phil" show tells CNN absolutely no payment was made to Tuiasosopo for interview or to license any imagines used by the show.

Casey Wian, CNN, Los Angeles.


MALVEAUX: You know, Steven Tyler is the lead singer of Aerosmith. But he could become the front man for celebrity rights. That's according to our affiliate, KITV in Honolulu. A Hawaii state Senator is now introducing legislation called the Steven Tyler Act. It would provide celebrities protection while vacationing there. Tyler, other celebrities have been complaining about the paparazzi invading their person space. The lawmaker tells our affiliate that he looked at laws in New York and California to get a sense of guidance here, and he says the bill considers the celebrities' and paparazzi's needs. The paparazzi bill has the support of 17 Senators. No doubt, all eyes will be on that hearing is Tyler shows up to testify.

And Senator Robert Menendez is in line to become the new chairman of the Senator of the Foreign Relations Committee. But he's facing allegations he took luxurious trips to the Dominican Republic on a campaign donor's dime. And critics say he took trips and parties with prostitutes. Menendez says none of that is true, but the FBI was spotted at the offices of that donor.


MALVEAUX: A U.S. Senator denies taking free trips, says he never partied with prostitutes. And we are talking about New Jersey Democrat, Robert Menendez. He insists online accusations against him are political attacks.

Susan Candiotti, she has the story.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Was it more than a warm Caribbean breeze that brought Senator Bob Menendez to this Dominican Republic resort? A mysterious tipster, who calls himself Peter Williams, claims Menendez was doing much more, partying with prostitutes.

A conservative website, the Daily Caller, published interviews in October with unidentified women who alleged they were with the Senator. This week, the story added cat-and-mouse e-mails reported to be between Williams and an FBI agent between last August and December. The agent never appears to get a meeting with Williams.

At one point the FBI agent allegedly writes, "As far as the information you have provided, we have been able to confirm most of it, however it's unknown what the information is."

Last April, a Washington, D.C, watchdog group was contacted by the elusive Mr. Williams but never could substantiate his claims and referred the matter to the FBI in July.

In a statement, Menendez denies he has been with prostitutions in the Caribbean and calls the accusations politically motivated.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid strongly defended Menendez on Tuesday and attacked the online story.

SEN. HARRY REID, (D), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: I have told you how I feel about the source of this stuff. It's really very, very typical for the --

CANDIOTTI: After Reid's aide says Menendez failed to tell Reid about those reimbursed trips to the Caribbean, Senator Reid distanced himself a bit.

REID: He is an outstanding Senator. He's now the new chair of the Foreign Relations Committee. Any questions in this regard, direct to him. I don't know anything about it.

CANDIOTTI: But the FBI is asking about the senator's wealthy friend and big campaign donor, Dr. Salomon Melgen, who corporate his jet, like this, the Senator used to fly to the doctor's home in the Dominican Republic. The FBI and federal investigators raided the doctor's office this week, and carried away boxes. The FBI would only call it law enforcement activity.

In an e-mail statement, Melgen's lawyer says, "The government has not informed Dr. Melgen what concerns it may have. We are confident that Dr. Melgen has acted appropriately at all times."

(on camera): Along with a watchdog group in Washington, who said it was unable to verify his information, CNN reached also out to Peter Williams, if that's his real name. We received one reply offering more information but have not heard back since.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, New York.


MALVEAUX: If you watch the Super Bowl for the commercials, like me, you will love this. This is a look at interactive ads that will keep you involved during the big game.






MALVEAUX: Just watching that gets you excited, right? Super Bowl Sunday promising, of course, to be more than just a single-screen experience because the promoters have social media and interactive stuff going on. Not my specialty, but it's Mario Armstrong's specialty, who knows all things techie.

And you are a big Ravens' fan, yes?



MALVEAUX: You are all decked out, huh?

ARMSTRONG: We are in serious Ravens fever. Baltimore loves our team and we are proud they are in the Super Bowl and want to see them bring the Super Bowl trophy home.

MALVEAUX: I will be rooting for the Ravens as well. My family is in that area so I'll be rooting for the Ravens as well.

What do you have there?

ARMSTRONG: A lot of things are going on. Used to be only you would watch ads and things like that on tv and now the whole second screen experience, many fans will be using devices to watch the game and interact with it as well. One quick app I want to show you, and this one is called Like Bowl. And so people can go on and like their favorite team or share their favorite team and it scores points and the challenge is social media, is Baltimore a more social media town than San Francisco or vice versa, and that's hot.

And another one is Vine Bowl. It's cool because it enables you to shoot six-second videos that you can run on a clip of your -- of rooting for your team.

So the most videos out there is the challenge. Who can show the most support through these six-second video on vine. Lots of cool activity that is happening online for sure, especially when it comes to not only the ads, but also the game and also social media.

MALVEAUX: Is it true you can watch the game on your phone, for the first time ever? How does that work?

ARMSTRONG: Yes, and so as you can see this now, at, they're streaming the football game on their -- on the mobile devices, tablets, phones, laptop devices. You can see the halftime show and you'll also -- here is another really neat thing. You can pick your own camera view. So there will be several cameras on the field. A sideline camera, a coach's view, an aerial view, different cameras you can choose to see the game from different perspectives.

MALVEAUX: Really? That is really cool. That is really, really cool. So I'm one of those people that will be watching the ads, watch the halftime show, that's going to be my focus. Even the ads, right, you can interact with the ads as well?

ARMSTRONG: That's right. Coca-cola, several ads you'll be able to interact with, just about all of them. At this point, you have to interact with. The ads use to lead the marketing campaign. The ads would lead a marketing campaign, now with all the stuff online, first to build a buzz. And Coca-Cola has an interesting one where you can choose the ending, go to to their web site. You get to choose the ending that will appear in the Super Bowl.

MALVEAUX: And so you choose the ending and then does it air? Will it air on television, that ending?

ARMSTRONG: Yes. Well, you're choosing it now. People need to go to and start liking which ending they prefer, and then that is the ending that will air. One other interactive thing you can do during the game is download a free app called Shazzam. Shazzam is the app you download when you can't figure out who the artist is or what the name of a song is. With the tv commercials, you'll see the little blue logo come up on the ads, download the app, and you'll get coupons and offer and other content.

MALVEAUX: That's smart stuff. I'm excited. You've convinced me, Mario. You convinced me to get involved in all of this.

ARMSTRONG: It is a new way to explore the game. A new way to check it out. I think even if you're not a football fan this is one way for you to get engaged in the moment that is going to be 100 million people watching.

MALVEAUX: That's going to be cool.

All right. Mario, thanks. I'll check it out and try it out. We know that there -- oh, there you go! That's the real deal. That's a Ravens fan, a Baltimore Ravens fan. You guys are crazy.

Thank you, Mario.

More than 12,000 football fans are now petitioning the White House to make Monday after the Super Bowl a national holiday. That sounds pretty cool, right? Sleep in after the game, after the party. the petition now is up on the White site. So far, no response. No response from the White House. I think the president wouldn't mind.

And sibling rivalry at its best. The coach of the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers, they're brothers. This Sunday, they face off in the Super Bowl. The two, they held a news conference earlier today and John talked about how great his brother, Jim, was.


JOHN HARBAUGH, HEAD COACH, BALTIMORE RAVENS: I would love to work for Jim. I'd love it. It would be the greatest thing in the world. We almost made it happen at Stanford at one time. And it would be an honor to have him on the staff. A great coach. You always try to get great coaches and there is none better than Jim Harbaugh. I mean that seriously. There is no better coach in the National Football League than this guy sitting right here.


MALVEAUX: That's nice.

Before you watch the Super Bowl on Sunday, find out what happens in New Orleans. Watch our CNN Bleacher Report special, with Rachel Nichols (ph), "Kickoff in New Orleans," airing Saturday at 4:00 p.m. eastern.

In the United States, where you live could determine your education, right? But there is a campaign to try to change that. Former WNBA star, Lisa Leslie, is leading the way. Why she's shifting her way from basketball, her focus here, on to education.


MALVEAUX: If you don't live in a good school district in the country, your kids are at risk of getting a poor education. Well, some parents, they actually move to get their kids into a better school system. Others enter their kids into a lottery, hoping to get them into good schools.

Well, former WNBA player, Lisa Leslie, says that is a gamble and she's trying to change it. I sat down with her to talk about that as well as much more, and her mission to give kids better education very personal.


LISA LESLIE, WNBA PLAYER: I think being in the inner city with a single parent, I went to school, I had a 3.7 GPA and really struggled with the SAT, and thought, why am I struggling if I'm such a great student. Something must be wrong with our educational system or I'm just not really getting the best education I thought.

Then it came back around with my kids. I have a 5-year-old daughter in kindergarten and we looked at the schools all around us, which school are we going to choose? So we picked up and moved. Every family didn't have that opportunity to do that.

My fight and my efforts now are for all the kids left behind who don't necessarily have the finances to move. Shouldn't they get the same education as my daughter?

MALVEAUX: Some say why not focus on putting more money and more resources into public education in the schools that are in your own neighborhood?

LESLIE: Is more money really going to change the curriculum and what kids are learning? I'm not saying that there is one way is the right way, but we should have the choice. We choose our food, whether we want to have organic food or not, we choose our churches, we choose what car we drive, why can't we choose the education for our children?

MALVEAUX: All right. I can't resist. Because I have you here, I want to talk about everything. Let's talk about sports. There's some pretty bizarre sports stories out there.


LESLIE: There are. Which one you want to start with?

MALVEAUX: I want to ask you about Manti Te'o. Do you think athletes are susceptible to this kind of catfishing?

LESLIE: You have to be very protective of who you're talking to on social media, just like our children have to be protected, adults now have to be protected.

MALVEAUX: What do you make of this story now about steroid use? Is there really that much of an urge to win and to cheat?

LESLIE: It is hard to answer that because I have never had the urge to cheat and win. I barely took my Tylenol when I had a pain, and it is amazing to see athletes that do that. It is really a loser's mentality. I have to say that, because, for example, for Lance, for him to be so cocky and deceiving of everybody, for so many years, and to only really admit because you got caught, I think it is really sad. I forgive him, though, just because that's what you should do. But it is really sad.

A lot of us, we work hard, we lift weights, we take our vitamins, eat right, sacrifice, passing on junk food when you really want some. You don't eat the doughnut.

MALVEAUX: You've been to the White House a couple of times. You're part of the Let's Move campaign. Have you ever played hoops with the president?

LESLIE: I've been invited two occasions and missed it. Sorry. Sorry, Mr. President. But I hope to get a chance to block his shot soon.

MALVEAUX: Oh! Trash talking!

LESLIE: And at least then we'll have a chance to talk about school choice. I look forward to that. And hopefully, getting the president to move for our nation.


MALVEAUX: Lisa Leslie, a great interview. A lot of fun with her.

That's it for me.

Brooke Baldwin, take it away.