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Dow Drops 100+ Points at Open; Ravens Overcome Blackout, 49Ers; At Least Eight Killed in Tour Bus Crash; Compromise for Contraceptive Mandate; Super Bowl Becomes a Cultural War

Aired February 4, 2013 - 10:00   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the NEWSROOM, blackout. The 34-minute power outage everyone is talking about this morning. Straight ahead, why it happened? What the energy company is saying and did Beyonce's halftime show have anything whatsoever to do with it?

Gun proposal push, President Obama is leaving this hour to promote his plan to reduce gun violence. We will tell you where he is headed.

Plus, the new controversy over the Obama administration's contraception compromise, why some companies are not so happy about it still. You will hear from one.

And a former Marine is accused of killing the man known as America's deadliest sniper at a resort lodge. We'll have a live update. NEWSROOM starts now.


COSTELLO: Good morning. Thanks for being with me. I'm Carol Costello reporting from Washington. This is just in to CNN. We are keeping our eyes on the stock market as we cross the top of the hour because the Dow is tanking. It has been down around 100 points since the opening bell rang 30 minutes ago.

Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange. Why is this happening, Alison?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Carol, so close, yet so far. Just when the Dow was within striking distance of its all-time high we are seeing this pullback. It was kind of fun on Friday watching the Dow hit 14,000.

In fact, it went past that for first time in five years. But now we are watching the Dow pull further away from that milestone. Now what happened was on Friday, you saw the Dow rally pretty much on an upbeat jobs report from January.

That really was the reason for that rally. But now the question marks are coming out over whether all of that momentum can continue especially since there is not much out there to guide investors as earnings season winds down. So you have a lot of question marks floating around the market and that's one reason you are seeing the pullback today -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Alison Kosik reporting live from the New York Stock Exchange.

On to the Super Bowl now, the Baltimore Ravens might have won Super Bowl XLVII, but the game might be forever known as the blackout Bowl. The power outage hit early in the third quarter plunging the Super Dome into darkness.

The NFL title game grinding to a halt for about 34 minutes, the loss of power frustrated players and coaches and forced to stay on the field. But it proved to be a huge turning point in the game for a time. It is a moment the NFL in the city of New Orleans wants to forget.


COSTELLO (voice-over): The third quarter was off to a roaring start. Baltimore returned the kickoff with a 108-yard Jacoby Jones touchdown. That has put the Ravens ahead at 28-6. San Francisco was on the ropes and then the lights went out, really?

Look at Ravens Coach John Harbaugh point to the darkened section of the Super Dome, the 71,000 fans inside and the millions of TV viewers wondering what the heck just happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't know what to think. I was -- it's just crazy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't want to stay in my seat. I wanted to get close to the door just in case.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wasn't sure if it was a rat that ate the wire or somebody pulled a chip out of the computer.

COSTELLO: The power outage did anger Ravens Coach John Harbaugh but he later admitted --

JOHN HARBAUGH, RAVENS COACH: I made too big a deal about that. It had to do with the phones and -- you know, whether we were going to have communication or we would have to take communication away.

COSTELLO: And finally, more than 33 minutes after the lights went out --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Third down and 13. Let's go.

COSTELLO: -- the Ravens held on and won. Quarterback Joe Flacco, he took tonight stride.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was just one of those things that happens, you have to deal with it.

COSTELLO: The Super Dome said the outage happened when a piece of equipment that is designed to monitor electrical load sensed an abnormality in the system. It evidently flipped a breaker and poof, the Super Dome apologized for the incident. So will this be a bruise to New Orleans' image?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This will be a blip. Everybody has been wonderful, kind, happy and polite. Everybody has been great here.


COSTELLO: The power outage came at a time when the Ravens were running away with the game. The Ravens were leading by 28-6 at the time. When the lights came back on, San Francisco went on a 25-6 run. It wasn't enough for the win.

CNN's Rachel Nichols was at the game. Good morning, Rachel. Were the Niners simply better at managing the blackout?

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You talk to the Ravens after the game and they admitted the 49ers won the blackout. Of course, they won the game to get some solace there. But Ed Reed, the future hall of famer from the Ravens said that they started talking during the blackout amongst themselves.

Is this going to kill our momentum? What's going on here? He said, once you start talking about it. It gets into your head and several guys said that they thought it was part of their problem.

On the 49ers' side, however, well, they had an unusual practice for the moment that happened last night. Had never happened before in a Super Bowl, but last year during the very high-profile "Monday night football" game against Pittsburgh, there had been a power outage and stoppage of play in that game.

They had come out of that power outage like gangbusters. They did it once again last night. They felt more comfortable. It was a worrying few minutes for all of the Ravens, but especially for Ray Lewis who is retiring after this game ending a stellar 17-year career.

Take a listen to what he said once it was all over.


RAY LEWIS, RAVENS' LINEBACKER: I think that's the first time that ever happened in the Super Bowl. You know, for something that strange to happen, this had to keep your focus. You know, we were on a roll. We were on a roll just then.

To stop that momentum the way it did, you know, you saw the way things started to shift, but we finished it. We finished it, man. Again, it just shows what our team is built for, you know.

No matter what we have been faced with. Coach called us up during that break and he said no matter what's go on here, it doesn't matter. We are here to finish this race. We finished it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COSTELLO: Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL, spoke this morning. He says that the NFL is still looking into exactly what happened, abnormality that you referred to although he noted there were no safety issues on the field. The only injury he said at the Super Dome was very minor when an escalator stopped out on the concourse.

COSTELLO: Rachel Nichols, thanks so much, reporting live from New Orleans this morning.

Beyonce may have stolen the show, but Alicia Keys is grabbing headlines of her own after her rendition of the national anthem.

Alicia Keys adding a few extra words to the "Star Spangled Banner." Nischelle Turner joins us now. I thought she was great.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Living in the home of the brave. Yes, she was. She was. Pitch perfect. But Carol, in New Orleans, when you add a little more on to something, they call it land yap. So Alicia Keys added a little land yap on to her take of the national anthem.

She even had as you saw some of the players on the sidelines in tears. She took to her piano and belted out the slower-paced version of the song, a lot slower. She even took brief pauses during her performance.

She stretched the song to a total of 2 minutes, 36 minutes. That, Carol, made her rendition of the national anthem the longest in Super Bowl history.

COSTELLO: She set a record.

TURNER: She set her own record.

COSTELLO: Let's talk about Jennifer Hudson because she performed "America the Beautiful" with the Sandy Hook Elementary School chorus. It was touching.

TURNER: Yes. You know, this has become one of the most touching and talked about moments from the Super Bowl. Just as a viewer, it is the moment that stuck with me, Jennifer Hudson performing with the Sandy Hook's children choir.

It was touching because both Hudson and these children have been affected by gun violence in their lives, a lot of layers to this performance here. Hudson's mother, brother and her 7-year-old nephew were shot and killed back in October of 2008. Remember that, by her sister's estranged husband, William Balfour.

Now ironically Jennifer Hudson's first appearance after that tragedy was singing the national anthem at the Super Bowl in 2009. It was so poignant to see her standing there as someone whose life was forever changed by gun violence with these children who experienced the same type of grief. I don't know anybody who wasn't watching that, my Twitter timeline, exploded last night with people saying I'm sitting here and n a pool of tears because that just really stuck.

COSTELLO: It was really touching. Nischelle Turner, many thanks.

The moment that got everyone talking during the Super Bowl was than about my touchdown. It was actually when the lights went out at the Super Dome then the internet exploded. Some blamed the power outage on Beyonce. Others blamed it on the Batman villain Bain.

Don Lemon is following that part of the story this morning.

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think it was a giant lighted Beyonce that made the lights go out in the Super Dome. Lights just went out here. That was the moment really. That was a moment that everybody -- let's talk about Twitter exploding, really.

People are talking about that. They are talking about the night the lights went out in New Orleans. First let's go to the tweets now. Mo Rock, everyone knows Mo Rock. In the cartoon Super Bowl, they just keep playing during the blackout. All you see are eyes.

Then someone else says, Super Dome I.D. guy smuggling dinosaur DNA samples out of the stadium. Someone else says just plug in a generator to Beyonce's hips and the problem would be solved. This never would have happened if the Super Dome had a gun. People are getting in on the big gun talk here.

And then our very own Van Jones, who knew, Van Jones has a sense of humor. Beyonce sings so well, Carol, I hardly noticed her outfit or dance moves at all. Did she look OK, very funny.

Carol, just quickly a couple of companies getting in, Nabisco said, Oreo cookie said you can still dunk in the dark. Tide said we can't get your black out, but we can get your stains out, Super Bowl tide power. Those were their hash tags.

COSTELLO: Yes, they are taking advantage of the situation, right?

LEMON: How do you like that?

COSTELLO: I like it. I think you should stick to talking, but I like the hand gesture.

LEMON: I haven't had any sleep so a little punch drunk.

COSTELLO: I understand. Don Lemon, thanks so much.

By the way, Don, later today, Super Bowl MVP ravens quarterback Joe Flacco joins Brooke Baldwin to talk about what it was like to be part of one of the most memorable Super Bowls in history. That's today at 2:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

A compromised some say does not go far enough. Why a new White House proposal on the controversial contraception mandate is still angering some.


COSTELLO: Time to check our top stories. Investigators remain at the scene of a tour bus crash in Southern California that killed at least eight people. That number expected to rise, too.

The bus overturned last night after rear ending a car and then crashing with a pickup truck on a narrow sloping road. Witnesses report seeing smoke coming from the back of the bus indicating a possible problem with the brakes.

We're also watching the markets, the Dow backing off from last week's momentum. After the opening bell retreated from the 14,000 mark it hit Friday. That was the highest day of closing for the Dow in more than five years.

In other news this morning, the Obama administration is offering a compromise on a contraceptive mandate that made headlines and angered some religious leaders under the proposal women will get free birth control, but insurance companies will pay for it. Not religious affiliated organizations like, you know, churches.

Finally, birth control will be offered as a separate benefit allowing groups that are opposed to it to distance themselves. Kyle Duncan is with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and lead council for Hobby Lobby, a retailer that filed a lawsuit against the mandate saying it violates religious freedoms. Good morning.

KYLE DUNCAN, BECKET FUND FOR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY: Good morning, Carol. Thanks for having me back.

COSTELLO: Well, thanks for being with us again. We appreciate it. So the Obama administration is trying to compromise here. It is now ex- -- it exempted churches and -- Catholic hospitals and the like from buying their female employees contraception. It doesn't apply to private companies likes yours. So what's your reaction this morning?

DUNCAN: Right, Carol. Well, you know, the accommodation that's being offered and proposed is really quite disappointing. As you point out, the first thing it doesn't do is it doesn't do anything for religious business owners like Hobby Lobby. That's disappointing.

That the administration continues to say business owners don't have any religious rights in connection with their business. Second thing it doesn't do, it doesn't expand the exemption at all.

The administration admits the religious employeyer exemption, which really separate religious organizations from these -- from the drugs and practices, does not expand at all. What the proposal does is propose a bookkeeping arrangement.

Unfortunately, it is still going to leave many religious organizations still tangled up with practices that they oppose. It also seems that the government is not really sure how that is supposed to work especially when an organization insurance itself. It is not clear from this proposal how that is supposed to work. So it leaves really a lot of questions. The main question is -- why not expand the exemption itself to include the religious hospital or the religious charity or the religious university n that's really how our laws have dealt with conscience problems in the past. They have exempted them and allowed the distance.

COSTELLO: It kind of does. It is really complicated. It seems like it is still a work in progress, too, right?

DUNCAN: It does.

COSTELLO: But I wanted to ask you this. The Supreme Court denied Hobby Lobby's claim to avoid this mandate. So where does that leave your company?

DUNCAN: Well, all Justice Sotomayor did was just one justice. All she said was that she would not get involved at this time and that she would let the normal appeals process go forward. Now Lobby Hobby is currently on appeal in Denver in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals as our many other businesses.

Something like, you know, six, seven, eight other business. These appellate courts are going to be weighing in. It is for to realize so far the businesses are winning by a score of 11-3 on these cases. The courts are really saying you have strong claims.

Hobby Lobby is going to get its day in court in the tenth circuit very soon. You have strong claims. It is surprising the administration would leave them completely out of this proposed compromise. It is disappointing and it is surprising since the courts are taking these arguments very, very seriously.

COSTELLO: It is not over yet. Thank you so much.

DUNCAN: Thanks, Carol.

COSTELLO: Joining me, Debra Ness, the president of the National Partnership for Women and Families. Good morning.


COSTELLO: Thank you for being with us. You say it is time for stop politicizing women's health. But those people you just heard say it is a violation of their faith.

NESS: Well, first of all, this issue is really about whether private employers get to make decisions about women's health care. I think the administration has struck a very reasonable compromise. They exempt religious institutions, like churches and houses of worship from being held responsible for providing contraception.

If you are a religious organization that's affiliated in a non-profit way with a religion and against your beliefs, for example if you are a university or if you are a health system, they have made accommodations to ensure that you don't have to be involved in the direct provision the payment, the contracting the referral or any of the arrangements for ensuring that --

COSTELLO: What about -- what about private companies like Hobby Lobby? The owners object on, you know, moral reasons that they don't want to pay for contraception for their employer, employees.

NESS: I know folks have tried to talk about this as a religious liberty issue. That feels a bit like a smoke screen for folks who are really trying to impose their views about birth control on others. There is nothing in this law, which in any way impedes an employer's ability to exercise his or her own religious beliefs.

But there is nothing which says that religious liberty requires you to impose your beliefs on others. And by allowing for these accommodations for religious institutions but ensuring that -- in the private sector, if you are a business that's operating in the public sector, you have to operate by public laws.

We are saying that employers cannot make these decisions about their women's health -- women employees' health care for them. They cannot impose their religious beliefs on their women employees. And really, if you think about other types of health care and other types of religious beliefs, take, for example, blood transfusions.

If you are an employer who happens to believe that blood transfusions are against your religion, we wouldn't say that it would be okay for you to say to your employees, you can't be covered for blood transfusions.

There are lots of things that we ask employers to do that are for the public good, for public safety, for public health reasons and that is part of doing business in the public sphere.

COSTELLO: Debra Ness with the National Partnership for Women and Families, thank you for being with us this morning.

NESS: Thank you for having me.

COSTELLO: We will be right back.


INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Chicago is seeing more snow than it has all season, big story, a pattern change. We will be warming up in the east and cooling off in the west. We wouldn't see an example of the warm up. Take a look at Houston right now, currently above average at 74 degrees expected this afternoon.


COSTELLO: Super Bowl is not longer just a football game. It has become like a platform for the culture wars including gay rights. Don Lemon managed to snag an interview with Brendon Ayanbadejo and he joins us with that interview. Good morning, Don. LEMON: Good morning to you, Carol. Thank you so much. You know, the Super Bowl is no longer just a game of football besides the commercials and the star performances, becoming really a cultural war, a new battlefield for social issues including same-sex marriage.

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendan knows all about this battle and he joins us not from New Orleans. First of all, I want to talk to you about this platform you wanted to talk about so much.

First of all, to the issue at hand, let's talk about that blackout first. You were there at the Super Bowl. You guys had the momentum going into the third quarter. What was -- what went through your mind when the lights went out?

BRENDON AYANBADEJO, BALTIMORE RAVENS' LINEBACKER: I was like, man, they are trying to take the wind out of our sails. They are delaying destiny. We tried to turn it into a positive thing. It definitely helped the 49ers a lot more than it helped us, Don.

LEMON: Yes, so you were -- were you worried, you know, 49ers started to come back and then, you know, ended up being three points separating you and the 49ers?

AYANBADEJ: Yes. I mean, we are definitely concerned. We never lost faith in -- in what we decided to accomplish 54 weeks ago in New England. Nothing was going to stop us from doing that.

LEMON: Brendon, you have been outspoken about marriage equality for a very long time. You grew up around gay people, people thought that you were gay and some still think you are. You are not, but you are still a proponent for gay rights and supporter of gay people.

We are -- we have been Twitter buddies. We have been friends for a little bit chatting by text and you have been wanting to come on CNN, but your schedule has been busy. Why have you chosen this Super Bowl to talk about, make a platform out of marriage equality?

AYANBADEJO: I don't consider it gay rights. It is rights. Everyone deserves to be treated equally. It is a cause I have been really outspoken for since 2009. On the biggest platform in the world and everybody's watching, a billion people watching, everybody hears your voice.

I decided that -- I knew organically it would happen. We were going to talk about equal rights and equality and -- marriage equality and whatnot. But now that I'm a Super Bowl champion, my voice just projects that much further and hopefully we can lead to even more change and more positive things for the LGBT community.

LEMON: You said equal rights. When people equate it to the civil rights movement, some people are offended by that. Others see it as the same thing. What do you make of it?

AYANBADEJO: The thing is if you are educate order the issue and sit down and talk to a gay person, you know, I have been talking to gay people. Everyone has been talking to gay people our entire lives whether we know it or not.

But we really believe that you are born gay and if -- I had plenty of conversation was people that are gay and say they are born gay. No different than me being born this beautiful almond coconut color I am. People are born gay. So why treat them any differently?

It is time we treat everybody fairly and not only are we trying to dictate who people should love. We are also trying to dictate who people should be. If a woman wants to wear a man clothes man wants to wear women's clothes, you feel like you are a woman on the inside and you are really a man, who cares?

Let's just -- let's just treat everybody equally. Let's move on and evolve as a culture, as a people. Especially, I mean, we think it is bad in the United States. I'm half Nigerian. In Nigeria I get so many letters from young Nigerians being persecuted or thrown in jail or murdered for being who they are.

We think we have it bad here. It is not bad here. We can make a change in the United States that can affect the whole world.

LEMON: Brendon, during Super Bowl week, San Francisco 49ers corner back Chris Culliver made controversial remarks over not welcoming gay football players in the locker room. I want you to listen to this. Do we have that? Apparently, we don't have it, Brendon.