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Unemployment Drops to 7 Percent; Nelson Mandela Dead at 95

Aired December 6, 2013 - 11:00   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: It is official, the United States job market is now the healthiest that it has been in five years. short time ago, the Labor Department reported this, that the economy added 203,000 new jobs last month.

That was better than they expected. So far, some 2 million new jobs have been added this year. Crunch the numbers and you get a 7 percent jobless rate. It hasn't been that low since 2008. And if the December job figures are as good as expected, 2013 will mark the strongest economic growth in five years.

Let's go right to Zain Asher who is on Wall Street. I always wonder how Wall Street's going to react, because good jobs news sometimes means taper news might be coming. But I don't know if that's the case today.

How are the markets doing?

ZAIN ASHER, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely not. You never can tell what the market is going to done, but the market is liking what this job report means in terms of what it represents in terms of the strength of the overall economy.

It's clear that if you want to get in on this economic recovery, if you want to, I guess, profit from it, the place to be is really stocks, and that's why you're seeing the Dow -- I'm just checking -- up by about 120 points.

But what the market particularly liked about this jobs report, Ashleigh, yes the payroll numbers were good, but it was really the unemployment rate. That was the key surprise, down to 7 percent. You know, the fed has said consistently that they want to see an unemployment rate as low as 6.5 percent.

And so we know that with this kind of jobs report that we're probably going to be seeing tapering at some point soon, even though the markets are reacting negatively to it, because long-term investors are certainly buying in at this level.

But we do know that tapering is probably an inevitability, coming up in the next few months. But I just quickly want to add that what traders are saying is that at these levels we're seeing low volume, as well, which can mean volatility, so the big question is can the market sustain this bull run we're seeing?

What's going to happen when the markets close later today? Are we still going to be sitting at these levels?


BANFIELD: All right, Zain, thank you for that.

I want to get the political reaction as well. Our senior White House correspondent Brianna Keilar is live at the White House right now. I can only imagine this is great news, coming down point-three in the jobless rate's got to feel good.

But the jobless rate is still 7 percent. So how are they framing this today?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I think they're sort of trying to take a measured approach here, Ashleigh, as they normally do.

But I will tell you White House officials really do welcome this news, definitely. But they're also saying in addition to the fact that, look, this shows that the economy has some resilience, it's bouncing back.

They're also saying there's a lot of work to be done. And they're taking aim, one of the president's top economic advisers, at Congress, saying, hey, the shutdown, the debt limit showdown, that doesn't help the economy. We need to get past that.

And, also, though, Ashleigh, this certainly gives some fuel to President Obama who tried to pivot and talk about the economy this week. This helps him as far as White House officials are concerned, kind of gives some fuel to that argument.

And one of the things that we're seeing the White House now really push, in addition to education investments, infrastructure, is extending unemployment insurance, which is set to expire at the end of the year, President Obama basically saying, hey, Congress, don't be a Grinch, you need to go ahead and do this.

But at this point, Republicans and the White House at odds on the details there, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Well, if anything, it certainly gives them a short reprieve not to have to answer any questions about the Obamacare, maybe for a nanosecond.

Brianna Keilar, I can hear the rain behind you. I'm sorry you have that assignment today.

KEILAR: Freezing rain.

BANFIELD: I know. We're going to do that story in a little bit, but keep an eye on everything at the White House for us. Brianna, have a good weekend, as well.

KEILAR: Sure. BANFIELD: I'm not done with this topic yet, though. A few more months of positive job growth should erase the massive job losses of the recession, right?

This is what it looked like when the economy was in a free fall and the subsequent recovery, as wall. Always like to see the graph when it goes on the upside of the daisies.

On average, about 189,000 jobs are being added each month. Our Annalyn Kurtz, reporter with CNNMoney is here with me to talk about this.

We've been wringing our hands like mad, saying it's not good enough. It's not good enough. It's not good enough. Is today the time when we change and say, it's good enough, or is today we temper things by saying, we're still at 7 percent.

ANNALYN KURTZ, REPORTER, CNNMONEY.COM: We need more months like this, Ashleigh. That's for sure.

We still haven't gained back all the jobs we lost in the recession, so we still have a while to go. There's 11 million Americans out there who are unemployed. Long-term unemployment, still a big problem. So we just need more strong months like this.

BANFIELD: I seem to remember someone right away, do the holiday jobs affect this number? Is this a phony number? Because, of course, everybody bones up the staff going into the holidays and then they all get axed right after Christmas.

KURTZ: Right. The Labor Department tries to adjust for seasonal trends like that, and we saw in this report that the jobs were really broad- based. It wasn't just in retail. It wasn't just at restaurants and bars.

We had high-wage job growth in manufacturing, in construction, in professional and business services, so this isn't just a low-wage recovery anymore. And that's the really good news in this report.

BANFIELD: So whenever I hear the good news, I always say, just be careful. Don't go jumping in the market right away. Good news can always lead to bad news as, oftentimes, there's this balance. And I was talking about that with Zain. The dreaded taper, does a report like this give more rise to the notion that say, after December, we are headed towards the taper?

KURTZ: You'll see people on Wall Street talking about that, but I'll tell you what. I've talked to Fed officials myself, and I'm not sure they're all convinced. I think they might need a -


KURTZ: Yeah -- a few more months of growth. They might want to wait.

BANFIELD: Is that really dumb of me just to throw that out there and say, the taper, like everyone knows what the taper is? Basically the Fed has been throwing a ton of money at the economy, trying to get things going, and they can't do that forever.

KURTZ: Right. The Fed has been -- they've been stimulating the economy now since 2008. We're talking trillions of dollars here. And they're still doing it.

So people are wondering when are they going to start pulling back on that stimulus? So, a lot hangs on these job growth numbers, but they still might want to see more strong growth before they're ready to pull back.

BANFIELD: Just watch your 401(k). By the way, it's in great shape right now. It's been a really good year.

KURTZ: Yes, it has.

BANFIELD: Annalyn Kurtz, thank you.

KURTZ: Thank you.

BANFIELD: Nice to see you. Thanks so much. Have a good weekend.

Just ahead, of course, the big story of the day, the man, the legend, the myth, South Africa and the world are in mourning today over the death of Nelson Mandela. We're going to look back at his life and talk about his revolution, and maybe a couple of things that might really surprise you about a man you think you know a lot about.


BANFIELD: A life certainly worth talking about and reflecting on today, I've got live pictures up here to the right of the home of Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg. This is what's happening, as people come out to pay their respects, just to be a part of this moment in history.

In fact, this began yesterday. People actually turned out in their pajamas as it was nightfall when many were starting to learn and even many more learning as they awakened to the news that their leader, once president, always leader, had died.

And there's been music and dancing, celebrations out in front. Let's see if we can listen in. They were playing "Free Nelson Mandela" a few moments ago. Let's see if there's anything we can hear at this point.

It's kind of quieting down, but it's been great, just sort of spontaneous moments of dance have erupted. And, oh, to be a moment -- oh, to be a part of that moment out in front of that home.

And so many moments to celebrate in the coming days, because his is going to be a 10-day remembrance for Nelson Mandela. We'll go over a lot of that in a moment.

I want to show you just a couple of things here in little old New York where oftentimes all the main newspapers are varied in their headlines, some featuring critical issues in Washington, others featuring local issues in New York City. And today, everyone is of the same mind. Take a look at these images right here. This is in "The New York Post" with a smiling Nelson Mandela on the cover.

"The Daily News" right here, yep, yet again, "Farewell, Dear Friend." This is great. I like this the best, actually. "USA Today," "Death of a Giant," look at the laughter. We're going to talk a little bit more about the funny man that was Nelson Mandela. Very somber and beautiful cover of "The New York Times" today. Look at that. Really artistic and lovely, just the shadows, emerging from the shadows. And then here "The Wall Street Journal" has a very reflective Nelson Mandela on the cover. And everybody above the fold in bold typeface with that headline. This is everyone's story, today.

It's evening in South Africa right now, and the death of Nelson Mandela, passing at the age of 95, even though expected, has really sort of tugged at a lot of hearts, a dagger to many, difficult to digest for many more.

We're going to hear much more from Johannesburg in a moment, but first, this remembrance from our Robyn Curnow.


ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nelson Mandela's struggle for freedom defined his life.

He was born in the remote hills of South Africa's eastern cape. He was given the name Rolihlahla, which means "troublemaker." He was only given the name Nelson by a school teacher, later on.

After moving to Johannesburg and studying law, Mandela's trouble making politics began. And as a boxer, he became adept at picking fights and sparring with the apartheid authorities, which had increased its oppression against the black population.

It was then that Mandela made the crucial decision to take up an armed struggle, launching the African National Congress's armed wing. He was militant and a firebrand, defiantly burning his passbook, a dreaded document the apartheid authorities used to control the movement of South Africa's black population.

NELSON MANDELA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF SOUTH AFRICA: The Africans require, want, to franchise on the basis of one man, one vote. They want political independence.

CURNOW: That simple demand and the methods Mandela took to fight for democracy eventually saw him and others tried for treason and sabotage by the apartheid government, acts punishable by death. But they got life imprisonment, instead, banished to Robben Island, one of the country's most brutal and isolated prisons.

Another political prisoner, Mac Maharaj, remembers the first time he saw Mandela in the prison yard.

MAC MAHARAJ, FORMER POLITICAL PRISONER: I could see from the way he walked and from his conduct that here was a man already stamping his authority on prison regime.

CURNOW: Mandela was released 27 years later.

MANDELA: I have spoken about freedom in my lifetime. Your commitment and your discipline has released me to stand before you today.

CURNOW: And his lack of bitterness toward the apartheid authorities helped him to lead one of the most remarkable political transitions of the 20th century. Mandela, the trained lawyer and life-long rebel, outmaneuvered the apartheid leaders and he steered South Africa's peaceful transition to democracy.

He won a Nobel Peace Prize, together with his former enemy, the apartheid leader, F.W. de Klerk.

MANDELA: And to devote myself to the well-being of the republic and all its people.

CURNOW: And then he became South Africa's first black president in 1994.

MANDELA: So help me God.

leader F.W. de Klerk.

MANDELA: And to devote myself to the well-being of the republic and all --

CURNOW: And then he became South Africa's first black president in 1994.

MANDELA: So help me God.


MARTIN MEREDITH, MANDELA BIOGRAPHER: What marks Mandela's career as president almost more than anything else, is after five years he stepped down. There have been very few presidents in Africa who have ever given up willingly.

MANDELA: Don't call me.


I'll call you.

CURNOW: His retirement years were busy with fundraising for charities close to his heart. He celebrated his 90th birthday with much fanfare and told CNN in a rare interview that looking back, he wouldn't do anything differently.

MANDELA: I don't regret it. Because the things that have triggered me were things that pleased my soul.

CURNOW: Now, those who loved and respected him look to his legacy. MAHARAJ (voice-over): And if we want to learn from him, learn that life is not made up of straight victories. It's made up of mistakes, zig zags, stumbling, picking yourself up, and dusting off the dirt, treating the bruise, and walking again whole. And that's what Mandela used to do.

CURNOW: Robyn Curnow, CNN, Johannesburg, South Africa.


BANFIELD: To say that Nelson Mandela changed his country would sell this man pretty short. He changed the world, changed the future for generations, and the future generations are going to learn about that in detail through all of the writings of my next guest.

Rick Stengel is former managing editor of "Time Magazine" and collaborator on Mandela's claimed memoir, "Long Walk to Freedom." He wrote "Time's" reflection on Mandela in the current special issue, and it's great. He authored the biography, "Mandela's Way".

And he's live with us now to talk about Nelson Mandela. You know, I just said to you, during that piece that we were watching, that it's hard to do a short interview about Nelson Mandela. I don't even know where to begin. But when I read your piece, the thing that maybe stood out most to me was how you say so much contributed to this man, but maybe above all else, he was a pragmatic politician, which I think a lot of people would find hard to sort of prioritize in his description.

RICHARD STENGEL, CO-AUTHORED NELSON MANDELA AUTOBIROGRAPHY: Yes, Ashleigh, first of all, I want to complement you on the pronunciation of Mandela. You do it in the South African way. You never hear Americans say -- in fact --

BANFIELD: Mandela.

STENGEL: -- one of the things that always amused me, he woke up incredibly early in the morning. We did our interviews in the morning and he would call people at 5:30 or 6:00 a.m. And they didn't know who was calling. And obviously, the person would go, "Who the heck is this?" And there was a long pause, and he would go, "Mandela". I thought, OK.

So yes, one of the things I really want people to understand is that he wasn't a saint. He wasn't a philosopher. He was a very practical, hard-headed politician. He was a politician before he went into prison. And we was a tempestuous and hot headed one in prison, that steeled him. That made him understand restraint. It made him understand the need for reconciliation. But he was a politician. And he was proud to call himself a politician. That wasn't a dirty word in his lexicon.

BANFIELD: I heard you say, I think on NEW DAY this morning, fire -- the same fire that melts the butter solidifies or hardens the egg. And I think a lot of people would find it -- well, look, anybody would find it difficult to believe that you could emerge from the 27 years of hard labor and the rock splitting and the torture from guards and actually stand beside that same guard during your inauguration and preach reconciliation.

STENGEL: Yes, you know, one of the interesting things that very few people know about is when he was at the Rivonia trial when he was sentenced to life in prison, there were eight or nine Rivonia prisoners, ANC members.

The government of South Africa had a decision: we could execute them. They decided not to do that. We can keep them all together and send them to Robben Island, or we could put them in the South African system in different places so they weren't together. They didn't want to do that because they thought it would be like individual germs and infect the whole system.

But by keeping them together on Robben Island, they reinforced each other. They loved each other. They called Robben Island "The University" because they were studying; they were teaching each other. So that helped him keep body and soul together. In a way, that it was much harder for other people, much harder for his wife Winnie who was outside in and out of prison, had to look after the family.

BANFIELD: One of the things I loved hearing -- I don't even know when I heard this anecdote, probably a million years ago -- he said he sneaked one past the guards by getting "The Economist" into the cells because the guards didn't know it was actually a news magazine.. No slight to "Time", but he couldn't get "Time" because they knew that it would be news. But "The Economist", they had no clue, so that's how they were getting their news.

STENGEL: Well, the other story like that that he couldn't get in and he wanted to read it for years and years was "War and Peace," by Tolstoy. And they thought, "Oh no, it's a military manual."

BANFIELD: It's great to talk to you. And you know, I highly recommend reading your piece. It's just great. It's so filled with wisdom and anecdotes. And I can't even begin this interview or end it. I feel like I just scratched the surface. Have a good weekend.

As we've mentioned, Nelson Mandela managed to touch just about every part of the world. And in the entertainment realm, he was what you call a real rock star, a true rock star. Just ahead, the birthday party that helped pave the way to his eventual freedom.


BANFIELD: Trouble maker in the best sense of the word. Nelson Mandela spent more than a quarter of his life in one of the world's most notorious hard labor prison systems. And many would lose hope, insanity and will to live and certainly get angry. Mandela kept all of the good, none of the bad and even held onto his sense of humor, miraculously.

CNN's Robyn Curnow reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CURNOW (voice-over): The broad smile, the floppy shirts, the goofy dance. Nelson Mandela was a cartoonist's dream says satirist Zapiro who documented Mandela's political life on paper, cartoons Mandela so enjoyed that he once phoned up Zapiro to complain when his drawings were no longer printed in the newspaper that Mandela like to read.

ZAPIRO, CARTOONIST: (inaudible) It took quite a long time. I was busy drawing. And then this woman says, "Hold on for President Mandela." So I thought, "No, this is a joke." I wait a bit longer and this voice comes on. "Hello? Is that Zapiro?" I said yes. And I was thinking, "Is it him? Is it him? And he says, "This is President Mandela." "Well, it sounds like you, so it must be you."

CURNOW: He says it was Mandela's next comments during their telephone conversation that said so much about Mandela's leadership style.

ZAPIRA: I just want to say something else now that you have phoned me. I want to say that I'm amazed that you're doing this when you would have seen that cartoons have been getting a lot more critical. I've had to take a critical step back and do things that are critical of the government and of the ANC. And he said, "Oh, but that is your job."

CURNOW: Those who knew him say that Mandela understood the need for satire in society and wasn't threatened by criticism.

MANDELA: What are you going to do -- very good. What are you -- (inaudible)

CURNOW: And he used humor to make people relaxed around him.

MANDELA: I'm going to look like a pickle.


CURNOW: And Mandela was a master of self-deprecating humor. Listen to him tell a story about meeting a child who is questioning him about his time in prison.

MANDELA: And she said, "How long did you remain there?" Again, I said, "Well, I can't remember. But it was a long, long time." And again two years -- and I said, "No. Longer than that." But she insisted, "But how long?" I said, "Well, look, I have already told you that I can't remember." And she said, "You are a stupid old man."


CURNOW: His dead-pan delivery, dry wit and biting one-liners were honed in prison says Cabinet Minister Tokyo Sexwale, who was jailed with Mandela, affectionately known as Madiba on Robben Island.

TOKYO SEXWALE, ANC LEADER: It was key for Nelson Mandela in prison. It carried us throughout. He's a very humorous person. Somebody said, "Madiba, if you're not who you are, you should have been a friend of Bill Cosby." And that was Bill Cosby himself. And he says, "Well, you've taken my profession." CURNOW: Despite all of Mandela's achievements, many will just remember the warmth in his heart and the twinkle in his eye.

Robyn Curnow, CNN, Johannesburg, South Africa.


BANFEILD: Nelson Mandela garnered more international support and admiration than perhaps any world leader in recent memory and maybe in even less recent memory. But that wasn't always the case.

He didn't become a global household name until the 1980s. CNN's Nischelle Turner has the story of the star-studied concert that helped raise awareness from his cause.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is all generating from one man that none of us has ever met, Nelson Mandela.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In 1988, Nelson Mandela was behind bars in South Africa when a collection of musicians and celebrities coming together in London to call for his release, sent a message around the world.

TONY HOLLINGSWORTH, PRODUCER, "NELSON MANDELA: 70TH BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE": Well, it was an 11 1/2 hour broadcast to 600 million people when there are only 5 billion in the world. To get that, we had to not only sell the program to 67 countries, we had to give it away to 30 African countries that wanted to broadcast it.

TURNER: Promoter Tony Hollingsworth organized the all-star 70th birthday tribute for Mandela. His goal was to change the way some referred to the jailed leader.

HOLLINGSORTH: The run-up to the first ever broadcast, it was still possible for Margaret Thatcher as prime minister of England to stand up in the House of Commons and ask the question in public, 'How is it that the BBC can be broadcasting an event for a terrorist?' And that's how powerful that word was. And the apartheid regime knew it, that if they could keep him being labeled as a terrorist, they could keep him in prison.

TRACY CHAPMAN, MUSICIAN (SINGING): Talking about a revolution.

HOLLINGSWORTH: And I said, "You can't get a black terrorist leader out of prison. You can get a black leader out of prison." So we got to get rid of one word, 'terrorist.'

TURNER: With that goal in mind, he recruited stars like Dire Straits, Whitney Houston, and Peter Gabriel, figuring that exposing a global audience to Mandela through music could change the conversation.

HOLLINGSWORTH: At that point in time in 1988, the whole of the music industry was very, very powerful. It was big. It was big on television. And so, by them helping to come onboard, it allowed this instrument that we had to project his image across the world.

TURNER: In the aftermath of the broadcast, as the pressure that would ultimately free Mandela mounted on the South African government, Hollingsworth got a letter from his concert partners.