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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Lights Out: Ravens Beat 49ers; Deadly Bus Crash Kills 8, Dozens Injured; Revered Sniper Killed On The Homefront; Big Winners Behind Doritos Ads

Aired February 4, 2013 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome, everybody. Our STARTING POINT is Super Bowl XLVII -- kind of a nail-biting win after the power eventually returned to the Super Bowl and it was a girl power halftime show.

It was a girl power halftime show. It was a great half time show. Beyonce rocking the stage, Destiny's Child reunion and, yes, she did not lip sync although many people were joking that's the reason the power went out.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": All right, an Ivy League shocker: students at Harvard connected to a widespread cheating scandal learned their fate and how deep did this go?

And why did a U.S. veteran turn his gun on a fellow veteran at a shooting range? The bizarre details plus we're going to talk to two former Navy SEALs who knew Chris Kyle.

O'BRIEN: Ahead this hour, we're going to talk to Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg of ESPN's "Mike and Mike in the Morning." Also Oklahoma Senator James Inhoff is with us. We're going to talk to the geeky star of the Go Daddy ad that really has grossed so many people out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You need to stop it.

O'BRIEN: And, of course, the stars of the very cute Taco Bell ad. The oldies will join us.

It's Monday, February 4th -- STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC)

O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody.

Our team this morning: Christopher John Farley joins us. He's a senior editorial director of digital features for "The Wall Street Journal". Former California Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack is with us. Roland Martin is CNN political analyst and the host of "Washington Watch with Roland Martin."

And STARTING POINT -- John Berman with us as well.

BERMAN: It's like a beauty pageant.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Did the little nod. Something different. Namaste, something.

O'BRIEN: You could do that.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: That is correct.

Our STARTING POINT this morning is the blackout bowl, Super Bowl XLVII won by the Baltimore Ravens.

Kind of dramatic point, the Ravens had this big, big lead, 22 points early in the third quarter. Then the lights went out in the Superdome. Play halted, of course, for 34 minutes. When the lights finally came back on, the 49ers were kind of back on too.

Their comeback was a little bit short. They lost 34-31. But it was close.

CNN's Rachel Nichols is live for us in New Orleans. If they had been able to come back, Rachel, wow, that would have been the story -- but they couldn't.

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Huge momentum swings in this game, Soledad. And for anyone who's been following the Ravens' season, they've seen this all year. They had two of their best players injured for quite some time in the middle of the season. They actually had to fire their offensive coordinator.

So, when they were all in these back-and-forths during this game, they really took it in stride. In fact, I talked to the MVP of this game, quarterback Joe Flacco, afterward. And he showed why he's earned his nickname Joe Cool. He said, eh, no big deal.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE FLACCO, SUPER BOWL XLVII MVP: We've been through games like that. We understand that's probably going to happen. I mean, these guys are a good football team. So, you know, it's tough to look at it like that. I mean, when they made it 28-20, it's like, OK, yes. It's not really what we wanted, but we still have the lead, and we've got to go out there and execute.

And that's what we were able to do. We were able to put a couple good drives together at the end. We weren't able to put the ball in the end zone, which I would have wished that we did, but we were able to good drives again and put points on the board, which end up being big.

NICHOLS: Talk about the blackout, one of the strangest things to happen in Super Bowl history.

FLACCO: Unbelievable. But just one of those things you have to deal with. I'm sure down the road it will make for a little bit better story.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NICHOLS: So, you can see, they're OK with it, since it did turn out OK.

But a little bit more about the power outage. The power company here said it wasn't a grid issue. It's instead about a piece of machinery that monitors how much power is feeding into the stadium.

The Superdome says that registered a, quote, "abnormality", which is going to become the phrase of the week around here, I am sure. And that kicked off an auto shutdown, opened a breaker, and it's just like the breaker in the basement where you got to go flip it back open. That's what officials had to do. Flip back on the light. They were able to resume the game.

But certainly, a strange occurrence for 34 minutes here in New Orleans.

O'BRIEN: And all of us watching at home, too. All right, Rachel. Thanks, Rachel. Appreciate it.

Nobody can deny, though, the whole thing was riveting. This morning I spoke with Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg. They're, of course, the hosts of "Mike and Mike in the Morning" on ESPN2 and ESPN radio. Here's what they told me.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: I think the big thing was this power outage for, what, like, 35 minutes. I guess big because really it was more about the momentum more than the power going out, right?

MIKE GREENBERG, "MIKE & MIKE IN THE MORNING" ON ESPN RADIO & ESPN2: That's exactly right. What we've been saying on our show this morning, Soledad, is if the 49ers had come all the way back and won that game, the team down 22 points at the time the lights went out, then I think the power outage would be the only thing remembered about this Super Bowl because it felt so clear, that momentum change there.

The fact that the Ravens wind up holding on by the skin of their teeth and winning the game means, Mike, that I think ultimately the power outage, while obviously a huge part of the story, will ultimately be forgotten.

MIKE GOLIC, "MIKE & MIKE IN THE MORNING" ON ESPN RADIO & ESPN2: But you could sense so much -- when the power went out, you saw there was going to be a delay because the one thing players do know in stadiums like that, it takes a little while for the lights to come back on. You could just sense Baltimore saying, oh, no. And you could sense San Francisco saying, thank you for this delay.

And we saw the momentum did switch a little bit. But as they say, the lights went out for both teams. So I wouldn't want to use it as an excuse. O'BRIEN: OK. A big play was Jacoby Jones, 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. I want to play that first and talk to you on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPORTSCASTER: Out to the Raiders. This could be a runback from 19 for Jacoby Jones. Look at him go. Jones is past the 50. And he is flying! Inside the 20, and a kickoff return, 109 yards and a touchdown for the all time record.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: A new dance -- a new dance has been entered into the books. I saw a little bit of that. Also, he's a New Orleans native, right, I mean, playing really for his hometown team in a way?

GREENBERG: Absolutely. He had a sensational night. He also made a great catch and a run for another touchdown. Those are the two biggest plays of the game for the Ravens last night. It's interesting -- and, Mike, we were talking about it -- the way the NFL works with salary caps and such, he may very well have played his last game for the Ravens yesterday and he easily could have been MVP of the Super Bowl with it.

GOLIC: Yes, and Anquan Boldin may not be with Ravens next year because of money. That will be interesting. But that touchdown return could have been a dagger against the 49ers. But give credit to them for coming back.

GREENBERG: And, by the way, Soledad, he stole that dance from Golic. He does that whole move. He's actually got it. No question.

O'BRIEN: Duly noted, duly noted. I'm going to give you credit for that in the history books if anybody ever asks me.

OK. Joe Flacco was MVP of the Super Bowl. What's his future look like, do you think?

GOLIC: His future looks bright. They're going to back up a Brinks truck to his house. He made a bet on himself before the season began. They offered him a very nice contract extension. He turned it down and chose to play out his contract, essentially betting that he would have a big year.

And, Mike, could he have come up bigger?

GREENBERG: You can't play any better in the postseason. Also, 63 wins in his first five years, regular and postseason, that's a record. The 11 touchdowns, no interceptions. He stood tall in the pocket, scrambled out of the pocket, audible calls to runs, to passes, and was completing it.

He's going to earn every cent that he's going to now make.

O'BRIEN: I like that, the Brinks truck, back it up. Thanks, guys. Always nice to have you in the morning. Appreciate it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: One of the Super Bowl's biggest stars, of course, was the halftime headliner, Beyonce, bringing down the house with her big show, which included surprise Destiny's Child reunion.

Earlier, we spoke to Rubin Singer. He was the guy that designed that fabulous and fierce outfit that she's wearing. Also, Michelle's outfit as well. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUBIN SINGER, DESIGNED BEYONCE'S OUTFIT: Developing this kind of a piece for a woman who's such a fierce performer and such an amazing, amazing show woman, I couldn't make anything that was constricting in any way. So, the range of motion needed to be maintained at all times. That was a really challenging aspect to it as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: One fan was Michelle Obama, who tweeted this, "I'm watching the Super Bowl with family and friends. Beyonce was phenomenal. I am so proud of her."

Super Bowl spotlight was given the Ravens' Michael Oher a chance to show the world he's very different he was depicted in the movie "The Blind Side." You remember he was very annoyed about how they made him seem like he didn't know a lot about football when he was first playing, in the movie, it is. When, in fact, he's a pretty good student of the game, an excellent student from the way he played yesterday.

His adoptive mother Ann Tuohy attended the game. She was a guest on the show. She said, it's a movie, not about you. He played well.

CHRISTOPHER JOHN FARLEY, WALL STREET JOURNAL: We definitely well, too.

MARTIN: Yes, the movie was about him. So, people think about you based on the character in the movie. I understand his concern.

O'BRIEN: Of course. They made it seem like somehow they taught him how to play football and he never really --

MARTIN: They told him how to dress and how to walk and talk. So --

FARLEY: People should read the original book, because the original book is much more detailed. It goes more in depth about football, him, the family. It tells you it all.

O'BRIEN: Yes, I thought Mrs. Tuohy was kind of like, they make stuff up in the movies. Michael, move on.

MARTIN: She's so matter of fact in the movie and the book, so it's no shock she would say that in real life.

O'BRIEN: Besides football, of course, there's the ads. Later this hour, we're going to the winner of the Doritos Super Bowl contest. Plus, the stars of the hilarious ad that featured the senior citizens and the Taco Bell ad.

And the happiest nerd in the world is right there.

MARTIN: Just keep the volume down.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Yes. We'll talk to him ahead, too.

John Berman has a look at other stories making news for us. Hey, John.

BERMAN: Thanks, Soledad. At least eight people are dead after a deadly bus crash on a narrow mountain highway in California. The authorities believe the bus first rear-ended the sedan and then crashed with a pickup truck and rolled over. This happened in San Bernardino County, about 80 miles east of Los Angeles. Several ambulances were called to the scene.

The road there is so narrow that rescue workers have had a really difficult time of reaching the victims.

We want to bring in now CNN's Paul Vercammen. He is live from San Bernardino County. And, Paul, we understand the crews are still out there trying to recover the bodies.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, indeed they are, John. And that's really complicated efforts because you've described this road as being very narrow. They've had to keep a lot of rescue personnel up the road. Right now, they're saying that at least eight people are dead. They expect that number to change, meaning many more will be found to be dead.

Right now, as they comb through the wreckage of both the bus, the pickup truck that was rolled over on, and another car, the investigators are trying to get an accurate body count. That's been complicated because in some cases, you have multiple bodies under one tarp.

Here's a sound bite from the CHP, who was looking at the scene firsthand and said it's one of the worst things he's seen in his career.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARIO LOPEZ, PIO, CALIFORNIA HWY PATROL: We had several victims that were ejected from the bus. We have victims that are inside the bus. As you stated earlier, some victims are very close to each other. So the coroner is up there right now actually trying to identify the bodies and hopefully be able to give us an accurate number.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VERCAMMEN: And, right now, we are hearing that a lot of the investigation is focusing on the bus' brakes. We have heard that some witnesses reporting that they saw the back of the bus smoking as it came down this hill, Highway 38, from the Big Bear area. Now back to you.

BERMAN: Paul Vercammen in California, thanks very much. Some awful pictures out there.

In Texas, investigators still don't know why a 25-year-old Iraq war veteran shot and killed former Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield at a Texas gun range this weekend. Eddie Ray Routh was arrested Saturday night on two counts of capital murder.

Kyle served four combat tours in Iraq. He had more than 150 confirmed kills. After retiring, he wrote a best-selling memoir called "American Sniper."

In just a few moments, we're going to be joined by Bill Harden (ph) and Eric Davis (ph). They're both former Navy SEALs who knew Kyle.

The standoff between police in Alabama and the gunman holding a hostage in a bunker enters its seventh day. Neighbors describe 65- year-old suspect Jimmy Lee Dykes as a survivalist with anti-government views. Meanwhile, the bus driver who shielded the other children, Chuck Poland, honored at a memorial service yesterday. Friends and family calling him a hero. He Indeed, he was.

One of the nation's biggest control groups bought some ad time yesterday during the Super Bowl. They want to push Congress to pass universal gun checks on all firearms sales. The 30-second spot by Mayors Against Illegal Guns run just in Washington, D.C, during halftime. The officials of the group did not want to say specifically how much they spent on the ad. But they said around six figures -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: I wonder if it's worth it for a message like that. What do you think? I mean --

MARY BONO MACK (R), FORMER CALIFORNIA CONGRESSWOMAN: Well, in the Washington market, politicians do hear these messages. They see them. I think sometimes the rest of the country is seeing them as well. So, they're pretty effective.

BERMAN: Just like a political campaign, they do it so we show it. It's on the news and talked about for the days after.

MARTIN: Well, also, I wish they'd also realize that you have to bring the rest of the country as well as Congress to get the job done.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Maybe not D.C., maybe outside of D.C.

MARTIN: Precisely.

O'BRIEN: But probably the cost is prohibitive there.

MARTIN: Yes, $4 million for a 30-second ad. I don't think so.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, it was one of the funniest commercials of the Super Bowl. We're going to meet the makers of the fashion daddy, Doritos ad chosen from thousands of contestants. That's straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Back to one of our top stories this morning. Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield were gunned down at a Texas gun range, happened over the weekend. Kyle, you might remember, was the most lethal sniper in U.S. history. I want to bring in a couple people who knew Chris Kyle well.

Bill Hart is a retired Navy SEAL who served with Kyle during the Iraq invasion and Eric Davis is a former master training specialist at the SEAL school in Coronado, California. He trained Chris Kyle. Nice to have you both with us. Appreciate it. Eric, I'm going to start with you. What did you first think when you learned about the circumstances of the shooting?

ERIC DAVIS, FMR. MASTER TRAINING SPECIALIST: That's the -- I mean, every time we hear about one of our own going down or losing him, I think you have a mix of emotions. And, you know, this time, you know, just so recent after Glen Doherty in Benghazi just a few weeks ago, it's just another one of those moments where I think all you can do is put your head in your hands and just say not another one, just like my God, how could this happen, especially at home.

O'BRIEN: It was so surprising. You know, I thought, bill, what was really sad about this was that Mr. Kyle had really been incredibly successful in his career as a sniper, and part of that was he didn't really frame it as killing people. He framed it as saving people. If he was able to do his job effectively, it was the people that he could save, and I think that really helped him transition from war into mentoring people who had some challenges. Am I right about that?

BILL HART, DEPLOYED WITH CHRIS KYLE: Yes, I think so. That's the attitude a lot of us take is that we're not out there to hurt anybody else. We're actually out there to help our countrymen and to do what we can for the homeland, you know? And I think he really carried that over with all the things he was involved in back here, helping out as many people as he could. And it's such a huge shame to lose him.

O'BRIEN: Oh, such a sad thing. Here's what he told "Time" magazine. They were doing an interview for the magazine and they ran a clip of it, I think, online too. Let me play a little bit of that first.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS KYLE, AUTHOR, "AMERICAN SNIPER": I don't have to kill to live.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you were good at it?

KYLE: I was decent at it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What if killing people turns out to be the thing that you were better at than anything?

KYLE: I know that's not true. I'm a better husband and father than I was a killer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: I love that answer. He leaves behind two children. I mean, it's such an incredible tragedy.

DAVIS: Absolutely. And, you know, when you have a loss, there's a certain way we experience it and grieve it, but when it's a violent loss like this, when there's no meaning behind it, you know, like with a war or at least a disease, you know, the kind of suffering and grief the family, his wife and kids will feel is beyond anything any one of us could possibly conceive if we haven't been through that ourselves.

And I think it's one of those times that we really need to make sure his family is in all of our prayers, and we just don't ever forget them, and what they're going to be dealing with for a very long time is just a very tough place they must be in. And our hearts have to go out to them and just keep them on our mind.

O'BRIEN: He really died doing what he loved to do. He was a tremendous mentor for younger people and people who needed some help. Eric Davis joining us this morning and Bill Hart, too. Thanks, gentlemen. We appreciate your time, and our condolences to both of you.

HART: Thanks.

DAVIS: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning, students at Harvard now connected to a widespread cheating ring and the ties, apparently, ran very deep. We'll have an in depth report straight ahead.

And a big contest where fans come up with their own Super Bowl ads for Doritos. Up next, we'll show you two of the big winners, including the guy behind this ad.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Trending this morning, for the seventh year, Doritos fans come up with their own Super Bowl ads. Thousands of submissions and two were picked to run during the game. Doritos picked one, and fans picked the second one. Mark Freiburger and Ben Callner were the lucky winners yesterday.

Nice to have you both with us. Appreciate your time. I'm going to run Mark's ad first because we thought it was terrific. Let's play that first.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED KID: Daddy, can you be a princess with me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sweetheart, I'd love to, but the guys, they're outside waiting for me.

UNIDENTIFIED KID: I've got Doritos.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Steve, what is the hold up?

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(CHANTING) Go Neil, Go Neil, Go Neil.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that my wedding dress?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: That is so funny. You are the winner in terms of the Doritos choice, the company choice. $300 is what I read, is what it cost to make that ad. Tell me a little bit about the inspiration and how you did it.

MARK FREIBURGER, WINNER, DORITOS SUPER BOWL AD CONTEST: Yes. Well, my friends and I, you know, we wanted to make something that was very family friendly and do kind of a father-daughter piece since we haven't seen that in the Super Bowl before. And so, originally, we were thinking maybe we'll do to a tea party sort of scene and have the father come and his friends catch him in the makeup and everything.

And it just wasn't quite funny enough yet, so it eventually grew and grew until what you guys saw last night and today which is a full blown princess fashion show.

O'BRIEN: Now, I want to play Ben's ad which is the goat for sale ad. This ad was hilarious last night, too.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(SCREAMING)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: The viewer's choice ad. So, Ben, tell us a little bit about your ad. It cost $5,000 to make, and I heard that your entire family was involved in the project.

BEN CALLNER, WINNER, DORITOS SUPER BOWL AD CONTEST: That's right. Yes. My mom and my dad, they've supported me, you know, even when I was a little kid running around with the home video camera. So, they came out. My mom was -- we made her script supervisor, and my dad was the craft service manager.

(LAUGHTER)

CALLNER: And, we had fun. We had a lot of fun.

O'BRIEN: You guys --

FARLEY: Well, my question is, you know, super bowl ads can cost millions of dollars to produce. You guys managed to break through the clutter with just a few thousand dollars in some cases. I mean, what does that say about the ad establishment, do you think?

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

FARLEY: You versus the ad establishment. Let's hear it.

O'BRIEN: Tread carefully, gentlemen, as they're going to get into the ad establishment very soon.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: They're like, we're going to raise some money.

(LAUGHTER)

CALLNER: We won't turn down those big budgets.

(LAUGHTER)

CALLNER: Yes, yes. Exactly. I don't know if i want to criticize the ad establishment. It seems to be working pretty well.

FARLEY: You guys are basically --

O'BRIEN: Yes. He doesn't want to do a $300 ad. Let me ask you a question, though, because I know, mark, that because of where you came in in the rankings, you'll now get to work with Michael Bay who was an inspiration for you.

FREIBURGER: Yes.

O'BRIEN: You must be so tremendously excited.

FREIBURGER: I am. I am. It's a dream come true, you know, because he was one of three filmmakers when i was in high school that inspired me to get into the business to begin with. And, it's very surreal. You know, we met him last night at the game. He was in the sky box with us and gave both Ben and I, you know, big hugs when our commercials aired.

And it was just such a surreal, wonderful experience. So, I'm really looking forward to working on "Transformers" for a few months and seeing, you know, what I'm going to learn. Yes.

BERMAN: He was exploding when he met Michael Bay.

O'BRIEN: Yes, exactly. Mark and Ben, thank you, gentlemen. Congratulations. Let us know when you get that $1 million, $2 million budget. We'll have you back to talk about that, Guys, appreciate it.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Instant celebrities, overnight wonders.

BERMANS: Three hundred bucks.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning, Senate voting on the former senator, Chuck Hagel's confirmation could happen this week. Of course, he's trying to be secretary of defense. After the bruising that he took on Capitol Hill, does he stand a chance? We're going to talk with Oklahoma senator, James Inhofe, who's very much against Hagel taking the post.

Then, major match fixing allegations in soccer again. Could it affect the World Cup? We'll talk about that straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)