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Dow Sinks at Open; Obamacare Website Repaired; Obamacare Woes; Miley Cyrus Mocks Govt. Shutdown; Dow Falls 100 Plus Points; SEALs Couldn't Capture Target Alive

Aired October 7, 2013 - 09:30   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me.

The bell just rang on Wall Street, but investors are apparently tired of the slugfest in Washington. You see it there. We're already down, what, almost 145 points and the markets just opened. Let's head to New York and Alison Kosik to talk more about this.

Good morning, Alison.


And you're seeing investors really sweat it out. Now, this is after not really seeing a huge reaction last week when the shutdown actually happened. Those worries over Washington, you know, Wall Street's wondering if Washington can really get it together, those worries expected to dominate Wall Street today. So, yes, it's week two, the dysfunction has dragged on a lot longer than Wall Street ever expected, and we're seeing the sweat really forming on investors' brows because we're about a week and a half away from the debt ceiling deadline and for Wall Street, the way Wall Street sees it, that's the bigger worry because a default could send interest rates skyrocketing and stocks plunging.

Now, Wall Street is listening to what's happening and sending a clear message to Washington, but you wonder, is Washington listening? Hmm, Carol.

COSTELLO: I don't think so.

Alison Kosik, thanks so much.

A slew of website delays and glitches hinder the rollout of Obamacare. You know what. Well, now the White House is hoping the experience for millions of Americans will be a bit more user friendly. A key feature of, where people can sign up for those health care exchanges, was taken down for maintenance over the weekend. Officials say this fix would help more people access the site at the same time. My next guest is one of the people who had problems signing up online last week but was finally able to apply over the phone. Her name is Terry O'Neal. She joins me by phone basically because - oh, Terry, you bent down and you hurt your back and you can barely walk? Is that true? TERRY O'NEAL, HAD PROBLEMS WITH OBAMACARE SITE (via telephone): Yes. Yes. Yes, I did. It was something very simple. I just bent over and got up too fast and, you know, it happens sometimes.

COSTELLO: So let me ask you, I know that you were able to sign up, but you don't have health insurance yet. Are you going to go to the doctor?

O'NEAL: No, probably not. I do my, you know, back exercises and, you know, it's happened before so after a week or two it will get better. I mean when I get health insurance, definitely - I definitely plan on going to the doctor.

COSTELLO: If you had health insurance, yes, I would hope you would.

O'NEAL: Yes.

COSTELLO: So tell us about your experience. You tried last week to get on The system was overwhelmed. You spent three hours trying. And so when did you manage to get a hold of a live person over the phone who could help you?

O'NEAL: After about an hour - hour wait, I was able to get a hold of someone over the phone and they had complications because the system -- they had technical issues with the system, as you mentioned previously, but she was able to take my application over the phone and, unfortunately, due to the overwhelming response and the millions of people that were trying to sign up and the glitches in the system, they were unable to sign people up that day. So (INAUDIBLE) --

COSTELLO: OK. So just to make people understand, you're in California and -

O'NEAL: Correct.

COSTELLO: You were not able to sign up online, but a woman over the phone filled out an application physically for you?

O'NEAL: Correct. Yes. Um-hmm. Yes.

COSTELLO: So that wasn't exactly the way it was supposed to work, right?

O'NEAL: No, not exactly, but with, you know, again, the glitches in the system, you know, that were unforeseen, unfortunately that's what happened and it carried on into the next day and so you have -- they had a backlog from the first day. So it's just, you know, it's carried on to the next day and the next day and, you know, the backlog entering everyone in the system.

COSTELLO: So at what point do you think that you'll know when you qualify?

O'NEAL: I was told about two weeks, maybe sooner, but approximately two weeks.

COSTELLO: OK. Well, hopefully your back will be better in that time.

O'NEAL: Yes.

COSTELLO: Terry O'Neal, thank you so much for the update. We appreciate it.

O'NEAL: Thanks.

COSTELLO: So we wondered about this. We wondered if this is the problem of just too many people overwhelming the Obamacare site or is it something bigger than that? "The Wall Street Journal" is reporting that federal officials now admit that design changes are also needed to make the site run more smoothly. The high profile misstep catching the eye of tech experts, millions of uninsured and even the people at "Saturday Night Live."


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, ACTRESS, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Loser, the Obamacare website, which had technical issues all week because of too much web traffic. You can't campaign on the fact that millions don't have health care and then be surprised that millions don't have health care. How could you not be ready? That's like 1-800-FLOWERS getting caught off guard by Valentine's Day.


COSTELLO: Ouch. Joining me now is Gary Lauer, CEO of eHealth, one of nation's biggest online health insurance brokers.

Welcome back.


COSTELLO: So, Gary, perhaps "SNL" has a point. Surely the federal government knew about the 40 million uninsured in this country. So is it simply a case that it wasn't prepared, even though it knew that millions would try to sign up?

LAUER: Well, it's a good question. I wish I knew the answer. But, you know, it's a big task, Carol. There's actually 48 million uninsured and the promise of Obamacare is to get 32 million of them coverage. And just listening to your previous guest in California, Terry, doing that by hand is not a - not the way to do this. These online sites have got to work. It would be much like going to or eBay and having them tell you, you need to come back because they can't deal with you right now. that's not what the Internet's about. But I'm sure these government sites will work at some point hopefully soon. The question is, once they're working, how effective are they?

COSTELLO: Well, exactly, because "The Wall Street Journal" is also reporting the website is troubled by not just the overwhelming number of people, but coding problems and flaws in the architecture in the system. Is it possible to fix such problems in a short period of time?

LAUER: Well, it's - all those things are fixable, sure, because this has all been done before. In fact, my company, we've done it for 15 years. But you know what this is really about, Carol, is the government going into the world of e-commerce, in (ph) an e-commerce business. And if you look at the failure and the success rate of e- commerce businesses, it's not a very, very good ratio. This is very complex stuff.

I've been in the support of Obamacare right from the beginning, but I have argued right from the beginning as well that this really needs to be a marriage of the best of the private and the public sector to get all these people covered. Now, we operate in all 50 states with the federal government in 36 states where they're operating exchanges, we're helping subsidy eligible individuals. And I think that's going to be a good thing.

California, where the previous guest Terry had some issues, is a state where right now they're still trying to do it on their own. They have not yet agreed to use someone like us to help them out, reach subsidy eligible individuals, which is the big part of the uninsured. And it's just - it's so puzzling to me is why these government people continue to want to try to do this on their own when there's a lot of great help available to them really at no charge.

COSTELLO: Well, and just to be clear, though, but it would be a profitable thing for you if the government would sign on and use private companies like yours?

LAUER: Very much so. We're a profit-making company, but that's how we fund and run it and that's how we hire people. And I, frankly, think that that's a good thing. And I also think that a little competition for these exchanges is only going to make them better. Think if we only had the postal service and there was no other way to send a package, if FedEx or DHL or the United Parcel Service didn't exist. These are all good things that, again, getting all these people enrolled is going to take, I think, the very best of the public and the private sector. And these exchange - these government exchanges are going to have to stabilize and they're going to have to be effective because consumers will vote with their feet. Hopefully they'll work, but we need a lot of ways for people to get into this pool of being insured.

COSTELLO: Gary Lauer, thanks for your insight this morning. We appreciate it.

LAUER: Thanks, Carol.

COSTELLO: Still to come in the NEWSROOM, ever since this, it seems she keeps giving us something to talk about. Did you see Miley Cyrus on "Saturday Night Live"? Oh, if you haven't, you have to see it now. We'll be right back to show you the Miley - Miley Cyrus singing, dancing and making fun of our government.


COSTELLO: Two topics you can't seem to escape these days, the partial government shutdown and, of course, Miley Cyrus. And leave it to "Saturday Night Live" to bring both together in a way that's generating a whole lot of buzz. Here's the 20-year-old pop star mocking the shutdown to the tune of her hit song "We Can't Stop." As I watched this, I was -- I thought it was funny and then I was sort of repulsed, and then I laughed again and then I was repulsed. "Showbiz Tonight" host A.J. Hammer joins me from New York to tell us why I might have that reaction.

Good morning.

A.J. HAMMER, HOST, "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT": Well, I don't think you're alone. But lot of people really seemed to like Miley over the weekend. Carol, good morning to you. And if you were expecting Miley to be twerking her way through "Saturday Night Live" on Saturday, well, you were probably sorely disappointed. In fact, she made it very clear, right in her opening monologue, that it was going to be a twerk free show. She told the world, now that white people are twerking, it's kind of lame. And as we expected, she also took the opportunity to have some fun with all that reaction she got for her twerking performance at the VMAs. They did a skit where that performance was blamed for the end of the world. Let's take a look at that.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, ACTRESS, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Tell me again, Papa Joe, who was it that brought about the destruction of America?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, ACTOR, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Well, most folks say it was the government shutdown. Others blame Obamacare. But I remember the exact day America ended. It was the 2013 Video Music Awards. And I remember it like it was yesterday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, ACTOR, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Miley, you're on in five minutes. Do you need more time to warm up?

MILEY CYRUS, MUSICIAN: No, I think this performance is going to be less about the singing.


HAMMER: I knew it, I knew if the world ever comes to an end, Carol, that was going to be the reason. But the most controversial skit of the night was probably the one you mentioned Miley getting a bit political, performing as Michele Bachmann.

However she did also do a skit as Hillary Clinton so she kept her appearance bipartisan. And I have to say all the hype around her appearance is definitely paying off. The general reaction, again Miley was funny. The ratings really great, the show beating out the season premiere with Tina Fey.

And this is all great news for Miley whose new album is out tomorrow and guess what, Carol, the album is actually really, really good.

COSTELLO: I'm just looking at this, that was actually the video where Miley Cyrus and what Tehran Kiln made fun of John Boehner and Michele Bachmann. And we tried to -- we wanted to play it full for people but it's so foul in some parts we can't play it on air. HAMMER: Yes "Saturday Night" at midnight it works a little better.

COSTELLO: Yes so go online. It's funny but you'll be repulsed. Thanks A.J. Hammer, nice to see you again.

HAMMER: It's good seeing you Carol.

COSTELLO: We'll be right back.


COSTELLO: Here's what's all new in the next hour of NEWSROOM, illegal drugs, guns, even hit men all available with a simple click of the mouse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you just going to hear and you say hey, I want to buy 250 milligrams of this and put buy now thing, and like any other place you're buying something online and you end up in the shopping cart and you click to check out for them.

COSTELLO: A major bust just last week sheds new light on this very dark side of the Web.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They killed the server, they didn't take down, you know the technology that's used to make this happen.

COSTELLO: So will it stop users from going back online to shop on this virtual black market? That's all new in the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM.


COSTELLO: As we told you the markets opened just a few minutes ago. At last check, the Dow was down about 140 points. So what's it looking like now? Let's head to New York to check in Alison Kosik. Hi.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi Carol, it's looking a little better. You're seeing stocks bounce off their lows, now down only about 117 points. You know what this is, this is Wall Street giving Washington a little bit of a nudge, saying listen up. This is just a taste of what can happen if you don't get your act together.

And what Wall Street is really focusing on is the debt ceiling issue. Because the debt ceiling issue as Wall Street sees it is a bigger deal. And that's coming in about a week and a half.

What's worrying investors at this point is the weekend came and went no deal happened in Congress. And what's even worse as far as investors see it is Boehner floating this idea to tie the shutdown discussions to the debt ceiling discussions. And since there's little movement on the shutdown, that is worrying investors and you're seeing stocks fall today 114 points at the moment -- Carol.

COSTELLO: All right Alison Kosik reporting live from New York for us this morning. We're just learning new details now on that failed raid over the weekend with SEAL Team 6 in Somalia. Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon to explain more. Good morning Barbara.


CNN has just learned that the Navy SEAL Team 6 mission, when it went into that al-Shabaab stronghold in Somalia over the weekend their mission was to capture alive the man they were looking for, a man name Ekrima an al-Shabaab senior leader. The Seals were going into the town to try to capture him alive. But they ran into heavy opposition, the firefight that we've been reporting on. And that is when the SEAL Team leader on the ground made the decision that they could not take him alive so they decided to withdraw. We are told the SEALs returned to the beach, counted noses and made sure they had everybody and then returned to their ship.

This is the first time we are hearing that the SEAL Team 6 mission was to capture this al-Shabaab leader alive and that explains an awful lot. Why use SEAL Team 6 and why do such a risky operation with U.S. commandos? It's why they did not send a drone overhead and fire a missile. They weren't out to kill. They were out to capture -- Carol.

COSTELLO: And just to remind our viewers al-Shabaab was responsible for the attack on that mall in Kenya. Why was the United States involved in this?

STARR: Well exactly right Carol. Al-Shabaab is claiming responsibility for the attack on the shopping mall in Nairobi just two weeks ago. Not clear of this man's role in it. But this man Ekrima according to U.S. intelligence has affiliations with other senior al Qaeda leaders in east Africa directly connected to attacks that have killed Americans.

This is still, though -- we must -- we must be candid -- this is still a bit of a fuzzy picture right now as exactly to why they were willing to risk so much to capture this man alive. They wanted to clearly find out what intelligence he had, what he knew about other al-Shabaab operatives and what the group might be up to next.

The al-Shabaab in Africa is a rising al Qaeda affiliate. There's a lot of concern that they may be planning more attacks against Western interest -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Barbara Starr reporting live from the Pentagon. Thanks so much.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM, let's talk a little sports -- the Broncos and the Cowboys. Did you see that game last night? It was incredible. What -- some 900 passing yards. Wow, we'll talk about that next.


COSTELLO: A horrifying wreck at an Indy car race left several fans injured -- 13 to be exact. They sent three of them to the hospital. Joe Carter is here with "Bleacher Report" this morning.

JOE CARTER, BLEACHER REPORT: You know the fans are ok, the spectators and the driver is ok. Dario Franchitti I mean to think that he's going to walk away with some minor injuries and then a concussion, a broken ankle, a fractured vertebrae -- and to think when you see this video that he's going to be ok is a testament to the safety of these vehicles.

And here's how it happened basically is as Franchitti is going around the corner, he basically runs into the back of two slower cars. And that catapults his car into the air and into that protective fencing that separates the fans from the track. And you see the debris there including a wheel and tire assembly fly into the stand, fly towards the spectators.

As you said Carol, 13 people in all were injured. Three spectators taken to the hospital but all are doing well and in good condition today.

Well there seems to be no stopping the Denver Broncos and quarterback Peyton Manning.

COSTELLO: Oh my God.

CARTER: I mean the Dallas Cowboys and Tony Romo played their best games in years yesterday. But it still was not good enough to beat the Broncos. Romo made one mistake and this mistake is going to hunt him for years to come. I mean the guy threw for over 500 yards, five touchdowns. But that interception set up the Broncos game-winning field goal.

And you like points. We have lots of points. 99 points combined the fourth highest-scoring game in NFL history. The Denver Broncos are 5- 0. They won 51-48. And now, next week they play Jacksonville they're 28 point favors against Jacksonville.

COSTELLO: 28 points.

CARTER: The largest point in the history of the NFL. But it just keeps going. The unbelievable continues to be unbelievable.

COSTELLO: Go Peyton Manning.

Next hour "CNN NEWSROOM" after a break.