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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Baltimore Ravens Win Super Bowl; Cheating Scandal Exposed at Harvard; Chuck Hagel's Confirmation as Defense Secretary in Question; Interview with Senator James Inhofe; Stars of Super Bowl Ads

Aired February 4, 2013 - 08:30   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 back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. Just ahead this morning, former senator Chuck Hagel's confirmation vote could come this week. We'll talk with Republican Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe about just how far opponents will go to keep Hagel from being confirmed.

First, though, let's talk Super Bowl, Super Bowl 47, the amazing, the kind of off. The Ravens survived a Super Bowl blackout. That was the odd part. Late game surge by the San Francisco 49ers, but they survived it to win their second Super Bowl in franchise history. A blackout halted play for 34 minutes and really took a lot of momentum away from Baltimore. When the game resumed, the Niners found their stride. They closed the lead to two points and had a chance to win the game, four chances, in fact, to win the game inside the 10 yard line, they couldn't get a touchdown.

Here's what the Ravens coach John Harbaugh had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN HARBAUGH, BALTIMORE RAVENS HEAD COACH: It was incredibly hard, but I was really proud. Just looking across the field and seeing Jim over there and watching him coach and watching him compete and watching him bring his team roaring back after the lights went out like I kind of knew he would because that's what he's done his whole life, I just couldn't be more proud of him.

FEMALE REPORTER: You can appreciate that while they're roaring back against you?

HARBAUGH: I wasn't real happy about it. I didn't feel really good about some of the things we were doing and the way we were playing, but I just knew they would be there because they reflect his personality.

FEMALE REPORTER: What did your parents say to you after?

HARBAUGH: They were really happy and really thrilled, and they were really disappointed and really devastated at the same time.

(END VIDEO CLIP) O'BRIEN: Mix of emotions from the thrilled and happy to the disappointed and sad. Also, of course, the halftime show. Beyonce rocked it. Many people looking back at Prince's halftime show, Michael Jackson's halftime show. I thought she was great. She was absolutely amazing. When you think of it, not only is it three powerful women responsible for the entertainment but it was three black women. Jennifer Hudson.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": Alicia Keys.

O'BRIEN: And Beyonce doing it.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: A lot of people were shocked to see that Beyonce had an all-female band.

O'BRIEN: Right, 150 background singers.

MARTIN: At her concert, you realize her drummer, her guitarist, the entire female band, they were rocking.

O'BRIEN: I was crying when Jennifer Hudson was singing "America the Beautiful" with the Sandy Hook Elementary School students. Oh, my god.

CHRIS JOHN FARLEY, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Especially because Jennifer Hudson herself has experienced violence in her family, family members killed in gun violence. So there really was a connection between her story and the story of these kids.

O'BRIEN: They didn't say it on the air, but something that was definitely there, knowing what we know about her life and the tragedy in her life. Incredible.

Still ahead, we're also going to talk about the Super Bowl ads. Meet some of the stars from the hilarious Taco Bell ad and the disgusting Go Daddy ad, too. First, John has a look at the day's top stories.

BERMAN: Thanks, Soledad. Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak all but confirming Israel's role in last week's airstrike against Syria. Barak telling reporters that no one should be allowed to bring advanced weapon systems into Lebanon, saying, quote, "When we say something, we mean it." The Syrians are calling it an act of aggression under the pretense of targeting a weapons shipment.

President Obama is traveling to Minneapolis to promote his 35-point plan to curb gun violence. He'll meet with local political leaders and law enforcement and will then deliver a speech scheduled for 2:30 p.m. eastern time.

Major match fixing allegations in soccer. European law enforcement is saying investigators have identified close to 400 suspicious soccer games, almost $200,000 worth of bribes. And Reuters reports at euro- poll identified some 425 corrupt officials, players, and suspected criminals. The suspicious matches do include qualifying matches for Euro 2012 and the World Cup.

O'BRIEN: Is it bribing the referees, bribing the players, all of the above?

BERMAN: All of the above. We still need to learn more details about this, but the fact that Euro 2012 and the World Cup is involved, that is colossal in the world of soccer.

On the subject of cheating, Harvard has forced dozens of students to leave after the largest cheating scandal in that school's recent memory. This has sent shock waves through the Cambridge campus. Harvard would not say how many students have been disciplined, but statements from the school indicate the number forced out is somewhere around 70. CNN's Poppy Harlow is live in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with more this morning. Good morning, Poppy.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. The dean of undergraduate education here calling this unprecedented in anyone's living memory. Obviously, this school, the most prestigious in the country. It's the headline of the "Harvard Crimson." The students, estimated at about 70, had to withdraw.

About half of this class, the class is reportedly Government 1310, Introduction to Congress, about half of the class, 125 students came under review, investigation after this scandal broke in August, and then late Friday the findings came out. If you look at the perspective here, this is one percent of the Harvard undergraduate body that has had to withdraw because of this.

The big question is, what happened on this take home final exam? It was open book, open note, open Internet, but students were told specifically they could not collaborate. However, what we've heard from multiple sources is that collaboration was accepted within this class over and over, that it was a class that gave out many, many A's, that it was a class known for easy grading. The professor told them, look, you don't always have to come to these lectures and this class.

So there was a lot of confusion among students, but clearly they were not supposed to collaborate at all on this exam, but some did. And there was even some plagiarism according to the university. I want you to take a listen to what one Harvard student told us about how this is all impacting the school.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAMERON KOOSHESH, HARVARD STUDENT: Well, obviously, cheating should never happen in any class, but I just think the class is very hard, and sometimes some students may be pressured to cheat. But it really should never happen. You can always get help here at Harvard. The community is very supportive. There are a bunch of friends that will always be willing to help. And the teachers and TFs are always fantastic. And so I really think it's a terrible thing to have happened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Here's what Harvard is saying. I'll pull up part of their statement for you. They say "The administrative board took the time necessary during the fall to guarantee that every student's case was reviewed and resolved individually under the rules and procedures approved by faculty." Harvard went on to say, "This is a time for communal reflection and action. We are responsible for creating the community in which our students study and we all thrive as scholars."

I did this morning talk here in person with a lawyer representing two of the students in this case. One has been put on probation. One is an athlete who's been forced to withdraw for a year. He told me, yes, there was some cheating. There was also collaboration. He told me some of these answers went viral, students e-mailing answers to one another, and clearly that's not acceptable. John?

BERMAN: Not acceptable indeed, 70 students. Poppy Harlow in Cambridge. Thanks very much.

O'BRIEN: We've got three Harvard grads here. I find this stunning. How do you cheat on a take home final?

FARLEY: An open book final.

O'BRIEN: That you can use the Internet for.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: This is like Poppy said. This was a class where there is frequent collaboration. There are often classes where people share notes. There's one copy of notes.

O'BRIEN: John.

MARTIN: John, it's an insult to Congress.

BERMAN: I'm not defending them. They obviously cheated. I'm just telling you how it happened. If they're all working off the same notes, and it's a take home exam, you can see how it happens.

MARTIN: And this is where most of the people in D.C. are hired to go to these schools. Thank you, Texas A&M, I appreciate it. I can't recall a take home final at Texas A&M.

O'BRIEN: Intro to Congress, forgive me, congresswoman.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: And don't tell me the students are confused because there's been collaboration in the past. Give me a break.

BERMAN: Do you think Congress would pass this class?

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: I have no comment.

The Senate is expected to vote this week on the nomination of former Nebraska senator Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense. You might remember Hagel faced some very sharp questioning from his former Republicans colleagues last week. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JAMES INHOFE, (R) OKLAHOMA: The question I would like to ask you and you can answer it for the record if you like is why do you think the Iranian foreign ministry so strongly supports your nomination to be secretary of defense.

CHUCK HAGEL, DEFENSE SECRETARY NOMINEE: I have a difficult enough time in American politics, senator. I have no idea, but thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: We're going to be talking to Senator James Inhofe in just a moment. We're having a little difficulty with his shop. Most people think the votes are there to confirm him, correct?

MARTIN: I don't understand, Soledad, how you could be so awful in a hearing and folks will say, he'll go ahead and pass. He'll be confirmed.

O'BRIEN: Mary, how can you be so awful in one hearing?

MARY BONO MACK (R-CA), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: I don't know. You have to be so well-prepared to go in. He seemed to have woken up and decided he was going to testify before the Senate and try to get his job. I think he hurt himself pretty badly. Maybe he will get confirmed.

O'BRIEN: Is there a sense that those things are a little bit of show and so it doesn't really matter if you do well or don't do well, if people are going to confirm you or not going to confirm you?

MACK: Usually, the senators up on the dais who try to make their own marks by asking questions, but if you fall flat on your face in front of the American people, especially for a job as important as this one, you can't come back.

MARTIN: And you serve in the U.S. Senate. It's not like you're not familiar with these issues.

O'BRIEN: Let's get right to Senator James Inhofe. He's with us. He's the ranking -- he's not with us because our shot has problems still. Do we have his shot or no? His shot just died again. We'll see if we can get Senator Inhofe. Senator Inhofe has said we'll see if we can vote against any confirmation. He's one of three senators who voted against the confirmation of Senator Kerry, who was sworn in as secretary of state. So I don't think the votes -- I don't think he's going to be able to block that confirmation.

BERMAN: There's a numbers game right now. There are 55 Democrats in the Senate for people who vote with the Senate, and two Republicans who say they will vote for Chuck Hagel, including a Nebraska senator. That's big.

O'BRIEN: It's a good question to put to Senator Inhofe, who I believe for the third time, maybe our technical problems are fixed. Senator Inhofe joining us this morning. Nice to see you, sir. My apologies for technical problems. Quick question. You've said you're going to vote against any kind of confirmation for Chuck Hagel. Are there the votes to keep him from ultimately being confirmed?

SEN. JAMES INHOFE, (R) OKLAHOMA: I think that you can't count all the votes right now, Soledad. I heard you say there are two Republicans committed to vote for him. That's not very many. And there are a lot of Democrats that have to be concerned with some of the Israeli friends and concern they have had consistently with Senator Hagel in terms of things he has said.

When Senator Cruz came out on the program, on the interview, or had an interview, recorded an interview, and it was really bad, because he agreed with the interviewer that the United States is the world's bully. He agreed that Israel is not a friend. The words they used were sickeningly "slaughter" and all these insulting things to Israel. I can't help but think there are a lot of people having a hard time on the Democrat side confirming Chuck Hagel.

After all, he is the one who has said over and over again that he's been supporting of the Iranians. He is one of only two in the entire Senate that voted against the sanctions for Iranians, and one of four that didn't sign the letter, because I carried the letter around for solidarity with Israel. So these things are concerning. I think that they're going to have a hard time standing up and voting for someone who has demonstrated to be so anti-Israel for so many years.

O'BRIEN: Senator James Inhofe joining us this morning. It's nice to have you, sir. And our apologies for the technical difficulties this morning. Appreciate your time.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT, he is one of the luckiest nerds on earth. That's a famous supermodel that he's making out with. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. It's one of the most controversial -- it might be the most controversial ad of the Super Bowl. This ad from Go Daddy, called "Perfect Match" where supermodel Bar Rafaeli locks lips with a geeky-looking engineer. That guy is Jesse Heiman and he's with us this morning.

It's all about this kiss between you, the engineer and this beautiful super model.

JESSE HEIMAN, GO DADDY'S AD ACTOR: Yes.

O'BRIEN: We're watching it right now. And this was people were tweeting how much they hated this ad, which I guess was kind of a home run. What did you think?

HEIMAN: Well, I know it was -- we had record sales and new customers on Go Daddy. And I've been blown away by the support, positive support. A lot of my friends, a lot of family giving me a thumbs-up and wishing they were me. And I just -- you know, a lot of people saying that I just -- that I was the MVP of the game besides Joe Flacco, you know. So it's just been overwhelming. And I really, really appreciate it.

FARLEY: I read it took 45 takes. Did it really take 45 takes? What was wrong with Take 44?

HEIMAN: It was -- it was somewhere between 45 and 65. And I know the rumors online that -- that I was the one asking for more takes, but it was actually give and take. She actually wanted some more too.

FARLEY: She asked for some more takes.

HEIMAN: Yes.

FARLEY: After the camera stopped rolling, she asked for more takes.

HEIMAN: Yes and I'm like she wanted --

BERMAN: Rehearsal must have been great.

MACK: Where was the microphone, Jesse? Because it seemed awfully slobbery loud that was --

HEIMAN: You know I think it just --

MACK: The microphone wasn't in your mouth, right? That's hard.

HEIMAN: No I think it was -- they have enough microphones on us that they caught all that action.

MACK: Yes.

HEIMAN: But it's great working with an iconic Go Daddy. Their commercials have been on all the time, and I'm glad to be a part of this.

MARTIN: Yes at this point in time you're on the morning show, Tom said you are the hero to all fat guys across the country. He said being a fat guy, he said, you are their hero.

HEIMAN: Well, I'm glad to represent the fat guy or the nerd guy or people out there who get you know -- all these stories about people getting bullied, I'm glad to represent the children that you can accomplish anything if you dream big or the door opens for that opportunity.

MARTIN: And she's a super model.

HEIMAN: Yes.

O'BRIEN: So someone thought that -- I guess a lot of people who felt -- I mean on Twitter, people hated this ad. And I guess in some ways people hating it must love it because people thought it was inappropriate. And the word inappropriate music to the ears of Go Daddy's executive chairman, Bob Parsons, who says, "Inappropriate? Hearing that word, I absolutely knew we were in for a record Super Bowl ad campaign."

HEIMAN: Well you know like I said, it worked. You know people talked about it, and it's led to record sales and new customers. And if you are interested in seeing the versions that CBS couldn't play, you can go on --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Because that's really inappropriate.

HEIMAN: You can go on GoDaddy.com and the unedited versions are up there now.

O'BRIEN: We like the plug you just threw in there.

BERMAN: Some of your best work actually.

HEIMAN: Yes well I, you know I thought, I actually thought that the wilder version is funnier so.

O'BRIEN: Jesse Heiman, nice to have you with us. Congratulations on a very successful ad.

HEIMAN: Thank you for having me.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning, the stars of another big Super Bowl ad. Senior citizens living it up in the Taco Bell ad. We're going to talk with them that's coming up right after this short break.

MARTIN: Look ahead for Jesse.

O'BRIEN: Thanks Jesse great to see you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody.

We're talking Super Bowl ads. This one came from Taco Bell, it's "Viva Young" where a group of senior citizens channel their youth for a night of partying. Two of the stars are Ernie Misko and Beverly Polcyn let's play a little bit.

(TACO BELL AD PLAYING)

O'BRIEN: This ad was hilarious. So why don't you walk us through how it -- how -- how it was done. Did the director just say go to town and act like 20-year-olds?

ERNIE MISKO, TACO BELL SUPER BOWL AD ACTOR: Well, to a point, really just let us do what we wanted to do. And it was quite wonderful.

BEVERLY POLCYN, TACO BELL SUPER BOWN AD ACTOR: They let us just do what comes naturally.

MARTIN: Really? You do this kind of thing.

O'BRIEN: Really?

POLCYN: Oh yes we're no stick in the mud people. We're full of life. Yes we like to eat Taco Bell and we like to dance, you know and fool around a little bit.

MARTIN: I've got to ask you, surely your friends are asking you, man, why couldn't I get called for this commercial?

POLCYN: Pardon me? What did you say?

MARTIN: Did any of your friends say, man, I want to be you. I would have loved to have been called for this commercial.

POLCYN: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. All our friends, oh, yes. They loved it. They would have liked to have been in our spot.

O'BRIEN: We were showing an ad from Go Daddy, which a lot of people thought was very inappropriate yesterday in the Super Bowl, and I think the exact opposite of your ad. People loved it. They thought it sent a wonderful message.

My kids are watching the Super Bowl. I love when this ad came on because I didn't have to cover their eyes and worry about what was going to happen next. They just thought it was great. That must be part of what you enjoyed about being part of it, or I would assume, right?

POLCYN: Yes. It shows grandmas and grandpas are still full of life you know and have a family and the respect and still be good in life.

MISKO: It was very natural.

POLCYN: Yes.

MISKO: For the two of us to be able to do that kind of stuff because they're just so dear, so nice.

BERMAN: I know you guys are actors, and you guys do this all the time. Are the kissing scenes hard?

POLCYN: No, because we've had some experience, you know.

MARTIN: Beverly I've got to ask you are you getting one of those outfits Beyonce had on?

POLCYN: Oh, yes.

FARLEY: That's the source of the power outage. They drained all the power from the Super Bowl right there. You guys were great. What was the toughest thing to do in this commercial? What was the toughest scene to film?

POLCYN: Oh the toughest scene, well, I think to get on the diving board, the swimming pool scene. MISKO: Yes, you know it was very cold. It was about 30 degrees and I stood there, not even a goose bump. And then you jump in that water, and it's nice and warm, and then you come out, and you go ooh.

POLCYN: That was cold, but I loved doing the chicken. The chicken that was fun in the dance.

O'BRIEN: Beverly Polcyn and Ernie Misko, congratulations on a fantastic ad. We look forward to seeing you in more.

POLCYN: Oh, thank you.

MISKO: Oh thank you.

O'BRIEN: You're welcome.

(CROSSTALK)

FARLEY: They should be on the panel.

O'BRIEN: We've got to take a short break. We're back in just a moment. Oh my gosh they're hysterical.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: That's it for STARTING POINT. We'll see you back here tomorrow morning.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now.