Return to Transcripts main page


Obamacare Website Back Up After Crashing; Kendrick Johnson Death Case; Losing Faith in Government; GoDaddy Shakes it up for Super Bowl; Red Sox Win World Series Title

Aired October 31, 2013 - 09:30   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead in the NEWSROOM, are you kidding me?, after being down all day yesterday, is back up this morning, but it was down for a time earlier. Seriously, why hasn't anyone been fired over this?

Plus, gouged at the gate. We all know airlines nickel and dime you for almost everything. We now know how much they're making off you. Trust me, you'll want to sit down for this one.

(INAUDIBLE) music with that one, right? And what would Halloween be complete - what Halloween would be complete without "Thriller"? And, boy, do these kids in Washington know how to do a mean Michael Jackson.

NEWSROOM continues now.

Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me.

Sadly, the Obamacare website was down again this morning. It's back up now, but it certainly leaves you scratching your head. Even after that contentious hearing last night, they just can't seem to get it together. And what makes matters worse, Democrats keep saying how proud they are of Obamacare and its website.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: And on the subject of the Affordable Care Act, I just want to say every chance I get how proud we are of it.


COSTELLO: Laurie Segall is our CNN Money technology correspondent.

So the site was down again earlier this morning. It's back up now. But why do we keep seeing this kind of thing happen?

LAURIE SEGALL, CNN MONEY TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: I'm definitely happy to report that it is up, but I'm coming to you telling you the good news which it's finally up. But, you know, this was an unexpected outage. And we keep hearing more and more about them.

Let me read you -- I just got a statement from CMS. Let me read you -- they confirm that the site is up and running. They say that "Verizon Terremark has successfully resolved their issue with the networking component overnight and and the Data Services Hub are now working normally. Consumers can again access the online application and enrollment tools via," or they can call a number to apply and enroll and get coverage.

Now, I mean, Carol, both you and I know that seeing this technical error sign has gotten all too real for all of us. So people are very, very frustrated. But what happened in this scenario was that there was a partial outage at Verizon's data center. Now I'll tell you, Verizon runs part of the technology behind So that, in turn, made the website go down.

Now, we heard Secretary Sebelius say yesterday in the hearing, well, this one's not on us, this one's on Verizon. You have Verizon respond and say, well, they asked for plan maintenance, but obviously something went wrong because the site just when down for a very long time this go round and this, obviously as we all know, this wasn't the first time it's happened.

COSTELLO: So it does make you wonder how secure the site is. Because there's a lot of financial information on there, right? So is it secure? Should we be worried?

SEGALL: I mean, absolutely. I think right now the conversation we've been having has been, why is this site going down? But the conversation we're really going to start having is, what are the security flaws or vulnerabilities on this site? Because you want to trust that a site, built like this, is very, very secure. But what we're beginning to see are security analysts going in and saying, oh, hey, there's a vulnerability here and here. I mean at CNN Money, we actually just put out an article showing that a string of vulnerabilities would enable someone to go in and potentially reset your password.

Now, they've been fixed, but that's just the beginning of this. I've been speaking with a lot of folks in the hacker community who have said, you know, we're scared to go in and play around on the kind of thing because we see that -- one guy I spoke to said that he saw that the code seems to be riddled with vulnerabilities. So, again, you know, this is the next phase of what we should be looking at and what we should be focusing on, Carol.

COSTELLO: And I'm sure you'll be doing that. Laurie Segall, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

Checking other top stories at 34 minutes past the hour. The head of the NSA denies a "Washington Post" report that the agency broke into overseas servers belonging to Google and Yahoo!. General Keith Alexander says the spy agency does not illegally access servers, but rather works with the two tech companies. A Yahoo! spokesman denies the NSA was ever given access to its data centers and Google's chief legal officer says the company will continue beefing up encryption security to keep hackers out.

Syria has destroyed all of its declared facilities used to make chemical weapons and all chemical weapons have been placed under seal. Now that's according to an international watchdog group. Weapons inspectors had been sent to Syria following claims government forces used sarin gas to kill hundreds of civilians in August. The Syrian government denies the allegation and blames rebel forces.

A teenager is found dead rolled up in a gym mat at his high school. Seems suspicious, right? Still, no arrests have been made and his death has been ruled an accident. But the parents of 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson don't believe that and they are demanding answers. Today, we will learn if a federal prosecutor is going to launch an investigation to find those answers. We're also learning that surveillance video -- you see it here - it shows Kendrick inside the gym. It will be released to his parents later today. It's already been released to us.

CNN anchor Victor Blackwell has been all over the story. He joins us live from Macon, Georgia.

Good morning, Victor.


And we're at the center of a very crucial 24-hour period for the parents of Kendrick Johnson. And here's why. In January, when the sheriff of Lowndes County told Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson that their 17-year-old son, in the middle of a school day, ran into a gym, climbed on top of a six-foot gym mat and reached into the center for his shoe, got stuck and died, they did not believe that. They think the story about the shoe is a cover-up. That their son was beaten to death and rolled in that mat and put in the corner.

Now, the sheriff's office says that they've done nothing wrong here. So the family sued for access to the full file, including the surveillance video. And we are getting the first few glimpses of what is being released.

First we have video of Kendrick on the day that he died, according to the sheriff's office, going into that gym. Now, he's following another student. CNN has decided to blur the faces of all the other students in this video.

We can also show you the next piece of video. It's Kendrick inside that gym, running in - and you see him run out of frame, but there are also other students there playing basketball near half of that gym. We cannot see what's happening on the other half of the gym, but it's a great possibility we'll see more, because the sheriff's office requested from the school 40 cameras, 48 hours each, nearly 2,000 hours of surveillance will be released to the family, and also to CNN. CNN joined the lawsuit that the family won as part of our public open records request.

Also, the back end of this crucial 24 hours, Carol, the announcement at 1:00 p.m. Eastern today, the U.S. attorney, Michael Moore, has been reviewing this case for four months now. He will announce whether or not he will open a federal investigation into the death of Kendrick Johnson.


COSTELLO: How did Kendrick die? What did the autopsy show?

BLACKWELL: Well, the autopsy shows that his death was officially positional asphyxia. Meaning, in layman's terms, he was suffocated by his own body weight being upside down stuck in this mat. However, the family hired an independent pathologist and in June he completed an autopsy. His report in September said that it was blunt force trauma. Essentially they -- he says that Kendrick took a blow to the neck on the right side. In fact, the paramedics, when they arrived on the scene the day he was found, noted bruising to the right side jaw. However, that bruising was not noted in any other state or local document.

COSTELLO: All right. Well, we'll wait for further release of those videotapes. Thank you so much. Victor Blackwell reporting live from Macon, Georgia.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM, the fiasco with the Obamacare website. If the government can't get its act together on that, what can we trust the government to do right? We're going to talk about that next.


COSTELLO: The Obamacare website is fast becoming the ultimate symbol of bureaucratic failure. Queue the apologies.







COSTELLO: Of course it might be a little too late to say I'm sorry. As Congressman Fred Upton said, the failures of Obamacare is causing people to lose faith in our government. Of course you could argue it's more than Obamacare that's causing us to lose faith in our government. Joining us to talk about that is Professor Drew Westen from Emory University. He's also the author of "The Political Brain: The Roll of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of a Nation."

Welcome, Drew.


COSTELLO: I wish you could be here on a happier topic, but - but you're here on are Americans losing faith in our government? And I think they have lost faith. So, members of the Obama administration, including the president, now saying they're sorry. Does that restore faith in government? I mean what does that really mean to the people of America?

WESTEN: You know, at this point, I think we've gone from the Eisenhower era 50 years ago where 85 percent of Americans said when they were asked, do you believe in the government will do the right thing most of the time or all of the time, 85 percent said most of the time or all of the time. Now it's over 85 percent say none of the time or little of the time. So even before this debacle with the website it was really at such a low ebb.

COSTELLO: Well, you know, the thing that really struck me yesterday, here's Kathleen Sebelius getting her butt kicked in Congress, right, and then you have President Obama in Boston holding an Obamacare rally. He's smiling. He's saying go team. We're going to get it done. And you look at that as a citizen of this country, and you really don't know what to believe. Isn't that just blending or isn't that -- isn't that garnering more distrust in government because we don't know what to believe?

WESTEN: I think - I think you're very right. I think, you know, the way you would really roll something like this out is you'd roll it out first in a couple of small states. Test that. Anyone who's ever developed a website knows that there are going to be glitches. So you roll it out in a couple of states, you see how it works, and then you - then you fix the glitches and you're always going to - I mean you think about your iPhone. You get these updates all the time. Well, it's the same thing with a website. So, you try it out on a couple of states. The problem was, the president was playing defense. You know, the Republicans were saying, Obamacare's bad, Obamacare's bad and he wanted to show Obamacare is good. And that's the problem.

COSTELLO: OK, you're a political psychologist. Might it not be better that the president fires somebody for this, because at least it would send a message to the American people that I got your back, I got this under control, I'm going to demand that something be done?


COSTELLO: Why doesn't he fire someone?

WESTEN: I don't think it's in his nature. I don't think he likes to do it. And he hasn't done it very much. But in a case like this, sure it would be a good, symbolic gesture. And, frankly, it would also be useful to say, hey, look, we screwed up, we put up the website too early and what we're going to do now is we're going to back up and we're going to try it in a couple of states. We're going to get the glitches out. But, don't worry, the glitches are going to be out and 30 million people are going to end up getting coverage (INAUDIBLE).

COSTELLO: In other words, he should ignore politics and just do what makes the thing work, right?

WESTEN: I would think that's exactly right.

COSTELLO: OK. WESTEN: And, you know, the president didn't write the code for this thing. It's not like he was sitting there saying, hmm, you know, let me - let me figure out which html code to write for this thing and all the interactive stuff. Anyone who's ever developed a website knows, and anyone who's ever seen one knows, that these things have glitches and they fix them over time.

COSTELLO: But don't the American people want to see more from the president than, I'm really upset about this.


COSTELLO: Don't they want him to scream and yell and stomp his feet and - I mean don't they - don't they need that?

WESTIN: Yes, they do. And it - you know, for what I understand from inside Washington, the president is furious. The problem is, he doesn't do fury on television. And I think the American people need to see some fury from him and they do need to see, as you're saying, they need to see some head roll to say, all right, I'm going to hold somebody accountable. And that word accountability right now is something that people don't feel - they don't see it in government, they don't see it in big business and they want to see it.

COSTELLO: Right. Drew Westen thanks so much for coming in.

WESTEN: A pleasure being here.

COSTELLO: I appreciate it. Nice to see you again.

Here's what's all new with the next hour of the NEWSROOM.

Food stamps smack down. Massive cuts for SNAP have begun. Food banks are standing by as millions of Americans find another way to buy food.

Plus in California, a sting over chilies.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It smells more like pepper. It's very like steamy?


COSTELLO: Anger turns from a slow boil to a burn over a hot sauce plant.

And techno ticket -- a woman busted for wearing Google glass behind the wheel. Unwise certainly, but illegal?

That's all new in the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM.


COSTELLO: Checking our "Top Stories" at 50 minutes past the hour, a new report tells us just how much money airlines are going to make off all those fees they tack on -- more than $42 billion this year alone. You can thank check bag seats for that.

In about 15 minutes we're going to be learning about some potentially big changes for your cell phone while you're on an airplane. The FAA is holding a news conference at Reagan National Airport as we speak. And we could see a statement regarding recommendations that restrictions on using devices like cell phones, and iPads and Readers should be eased from your way in just a few minutes.

Practically a Super Bowl tradition -- those scandalous ads from GoDaddy with Danica Patrick and bevy of busty ladies.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This sure is a crazy way to drive attention to .co domain names from GoDaddy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who would notice a hot model in body paint?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: True. She's stands out like a hot new .co. They definitely get you noticed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's why smart businesses go with .cos from GoDaddy.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow. I think we missed a spot.


COSTELLO: Oh, my goodness. But now GoDaddy says the days of Danica as sex kitten are over. Don't worry, Danica will still be there but the theme will be a little more giggles and less jiggles.

Nischelle Turner is in New York to tell us why? I can't believe like that entire jiggle?


NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: That is fantastic. You know, Carol, it's funny because for the longest time, I didn't know what the company did. I didn't know what GoDaddy was. Exactly but they do sell Web domains and they sell Web site services, but you know the first thing and really the only thing that most of us think about when it comes to this company are those racy ads. The one from last year I remember was Bar Rafaeli making out with a kind of nerdy guy.


TURNER: Still has shock value to me. But yes you're right in the "USA Today" interview the new CEO says no more sex. Because he said they need to move onto the next phase. So they've announced that this year they're going to have two Super Bowl ads but they say the ads will be funny and not racy. And as you noticed Danica will still be there. Danica Patrick we're talking about this is the eighth year in a row that she is a spokesperson for

Now some brand experts are saying you may want to watch out though. Because it may not make much sense to step away from what's worked so well for them in the past. Because according to some reports the company went from a $100 million -- for a $100 million business to a $1.4 billion business and that's partially because of those Super Bowl ads.

But you know they still have a pretty good grasp on how to get publicity because it is October and we're talking Super Bowl ads that are going to run in February. So they may know something that we don't -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Maybe so. Nischelle Turner -- thanks as always.

TURNER: Absolutely darling.

COSTELLO: Still to come in the NEWSROOM Big Papi hoists the trophy and raises the champagne bottle. David Ortiz, MVP of the World Series and king of Boston.


COSTELLO: After rallying the city in the wake of the marathon bombings, the Boston Red Sox rallied to beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. Andy Scholes is here to tell us more.

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: You know, Carol, what a game, what a night for the city of Boston. They hadn't won a World Series at home at Fenway Park since what 1918.


SCHOLES: It's so long so clearly all of the Red Sox fans have been waiting their whole lives for a night like last night. In the game the Cardinals, they were determined not to let Big Papi hurt them as he had all series. They walked him four times and it came back to bite them in the third inning. After intentionally whacking Ortiz, they hit Jonny Gomes with a pitch and the bases were loaded for Shane Victorino. He launched this one off the green monster -- all three runners would come in to score.

The Fenway faithful were going nuts and the Sox ended up scoring six runs off Cardinal's rookie ace, Michael Wacha. That was plenty for John Lackey. He pitched six and two-thirds innings in one run baseball. Red Sox win, 6-1, to claim their third world series title in the last nine years. And the only player that has been with the team for all three of them is Big Papi.

And what he did for the Red Sox in the city of Boston this year has truly been amazing. He's not only carried the team at the plate, putting up ridiculous stats, he was also their emotional leader. That moment when he rallied the team in the dugout during game four when things were looking grim, it was a turning point in this series. The Red Sox didn't lose a game after that. Big Papi, the World Series MVP and he's arguably the MVP of the entire city of Boston.

All right. Change of scenery turns out to be just what the doctor ordered for Dwight Howard. Super Man making his debut for the Houston Rockets last night, hey, he looks like his old dominant self. Howard scored 17 points and grabbed a career-high-tying 26 rebounds. The Rockets beat the Bobcats, 96-83.

All right, turning on, today is another amazing spoof by the Dallas Mavericks. This time they tackled "What does the fox say?" check it out.


COSTELLO: You have to be a confident man to do that Andy.

SCHOLES: It's so funny. I can't -- the Mavs, they do this right, these spoofs. They do it all the time and Carol, you know it's Halloween. I bet a lot of people are dressing up like a fox this year. It's a trendy outfit.

COSTELLO: I think it's Miley Cyrus is the big thing this year, but I could be wrong.

SCHOLES: You could be a Miley Cyrus fox -- how about that? Combine the two.

COSTELLO: That's true. Yes. Thank you, Andy.

The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts now.

Happening now in the "CNN NEWSROOM", seat belts on, iPods off -- we all know the drill when we get on an airplane. Well, the FAA is now considering a change. We'll hear from the FAA in minutes.

Plus, Kathleen Sebelius on the hot seat and it's not cooling off. Is it time for her to go?

And more Americans are on food stamps than the entire population of Spain. Now massive cuts are coming and millions will be forced to find another way to get food. The second hour of NEWSROOM starts now.

Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me this morning. A bit of breaking news this morning. We have a story about your money. In -- just into the NEWSROOM, minutes ago we learned that 30-year fixed rate mortgage rates hit the lowest points in months.

Let's go to our CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans. This is surprising to me. I thought they were going up.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I know. and we've all been waiting for them to keep moving higher and moving higher.