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A-Rod Suspended for 2014 Baseball Season; Accenture to Improve Obamacare Site

Aired January 12, 2014 - 07:00   ET


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: A-Rod banished to an island.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: They are so clever all the time.

A-Rod has been shut out of major baseball's entire 2014 season -- if you haven't heard -- 162 games. Not going to be eligible for any post-season games. Now, Rodriguez continues, though, to deny claims of drug use and he vows he's going to keep fighting this thing.

Andy Scholes is here with more. So, nobody was really surprised by this decision. Were they surprised that he's going to keep fighting it?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS: You know, that might come as a surprise, because it's Taking it to federal court is the extreme circumstance. A-Rod has been expecting this decision the whole time, ever since A-Rod, he stormed out of the first day of the arbitration hearing, where he kicked over a brief case. He went off mad and went on to a New York radio show and just went off on the Yankees, Major League Baseball and everybody. A-Rod will continue to fight this thing. He'll take to it federal court.

In a statement, he released yesterday he said, "The deck has been stacked against me from day one. This was one man's decision. That was not put before a fair and impartial jury, does not involve me having failed a single drug test, is at odds with the facts and is inconsistent with the terms of the join drug agreement and the basic agreement."

And I think that's a big part of the reason A-Rod is fighting this so hard, is because everyone else that went down with the biogenesis got 50 games. Ryan Broun got 65 games and all of them, you got it.

PAUL: Yes, I'll take it.

SCHOLES: I'm going to go ahead and take it. And I think that major league baseball would have gone to A-Rod with 50 game suspension or even just all the rest of last season, he would say, OK, I'll take it. He doesn't want to sit out a whole season because he makes about $25 million a year.

BLACKWELL: OK. So, let's talk about the money. Will the Yankees have to pay?

SCHOLES: No, they're not going to have to pay at all next season. That saves them about roughly $24 million and they were planning for that. You know, they made some big splashes this offseason, signing Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran. So, they kind of envisioned they were not going to have to pay A-Rod this season.

Now, after this season, they still owe A-Rod for three more seasons, 2015, '16 and '17. They owe him about $61 million, plus home run bonuses if he gets those.

It would be interesting to see if A-Rod ever comes back. You know, he'll be 39 this year. He'll be 40 when he comes back and plays. He's already on the decline.


SCHOLES: So, the question will be whether the Yankees -- Yankees could end up saying let's cut our loss, $61 million, what they owe. We're going to pay you to go away, A-Rod.

PAUL: Wow.

SCHOLES: I can see that happening.

PAUL: Really?

SCHOLES: Because not only, you know, do they have to deal with the circus that is A-Rod --

PAUL: Sure.

SCHOLES: -- he's a 40-year-old declining third baseman.

BLACKWELL: Yes, they want to fill that spot with someone else.

SCHOLES: A younger, more talented player at this point.

PAUL: All right. Andy Scholes, thank you so much.

SCHOLES: You're welcome.

PAUL: Yes.

Well, boy, if you looked out your window this weekend, I know you've probably seen some storms, high winds. They are really getting nasty out there.

BLACKWELL: Yes, especially across the south. Let's go to North Carolina. One of the hardest hit areas. The wind gusts hit 85 miles per hour, the trees ripped down, power lines snatched and left thousands of people without power.

PAUL: We know at least one person died and that death being blamed on the storm itself. Meteorologist Jennifer Gray in the CNN weather center.

Is this -- we're going to see a pattern like this continue, Jennifer, or does the danger seem to past?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, this storm definitely past. We had a lot of wind reports, though. You can see all across the Deep South and even the East Coast, 151, and we also had some very impressive rain totals as we go through Georgia, almost four inches of rain.

And this is from the past three days and then in North Carolina about three inches, and then South Carolina almost three inches.

So, all in all, it was a wild day across the nation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The windows -- oh, no, look at that.

GRAY (voice-over): High winds blow down this condo under construction in North Carolina leaving behind a pile of rubble during a day of wild weather across the U.S.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw my neighbor's patio furniture flying across the parking lot. So, then, I went down into the garage and waited.

GRAY: In the Raleigh-Durham area, wind gusts reached 85 miles per hour, knocking down trees and power lines. Along with that wind, heavy rain, tornado watches and flood warnings across region.

In Georgia, firefighters successfully rescued a teenager from a mobile home after she was trapped by a fallen tree.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They actually used an airbag to place underneath the tree to pick it up with air so they could get her out.

GRAY: High winds were a big problem in the west, too. Here's a report from Montana.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could see how strong they are. They are blowing around the light posts in Browning and causing damage across the area. It's so windy it is hard to stand up.

GRAY: Check out some of the damage KRTV meteorologist Mike Rollins (ph) was talking about. Trucks blown over Interstate 15.

Meanwhile, some welcome relief for parts of the Midwest, with temperatures higher than normal. In St. Louis, all they needed were sweat shirts for a visit to the zoo.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Last week, I had to wear bib overalls, hat, gloves, face shield, scarf, all sorts of stuff to keep bundled up. So, quite a difference.


GRAY: Yes, a much better picture across the nation. Look at this, mainly quiet. That storm system long gone.

We're looking at a couple of showers, ,mainly lake-effect snow across portions of upstate New York and then out in the west, very, very stormy for the pacific northwest with higher elevations getting a great deal of snowfall.

Look at these temperatures, though. We're actually 11 degrees above-normal. In Nashville, what a different scene. Chicago 11 degrees above-normal. New York City, seven. Tomorrow New York will be at 52 degrees. That's 14 degrees above-normal and then by Tuesday dropping back down to 48.

So, we do have another system on the way. Doesn't look like it will be quite as strong but we could see showers and storms late Monday night into Tuesday morning along the East Coast and the temperature fall behind this front definitely not as bad as we saw last week, guys.

PAUL: Thank goodness, no more single digits for some of us anyway.

Jennifer Gray, thank you.

GRAY: All right.

BLACKWELL: The White House is teaming up with the world's largest consulting firm to fix its troubled Obamacare Web site. Accenture will be in charge of improving Of course, it's after the troubled launch in October.

Now, the improvements will include 24/7 customer support and improved eligibility and enrollment functions. The administration fired the original contractor, CGI Federal, that was on Friday.

PAUL: Well, hundreds of people lined up for free flu shots, this was in Dallas over the weekend and this, of course, after at least six Texans they know died last week from the virus. The CDC says 35 states and you see them there in brown just so you know, have widespread flu activity now and the season soon could reach its peak.

Now, one big change from previous flu seasons -- the most typical strain this year has been H1N1. You might remember that because it's also known as the swine flu.

BLACKWELL: Yes, huge in 2009.

The water crisis which we've been talking about this weekend in West Virginia, hundreds f thousands of people could be without water for days.

PAUL: Now, there's concerns it could lead to even more flu cases.


BLACKWELL: It is a beautiful day. This is the beautiful city of Atlanta, from Centennial Olympic Park. You can see the Ferris wheel there.

PAUL: You think it's still Christmas. They still have the Christmas lights up, which I'm excited about that. I love.

BLACKWELL: And, you know, the lights on the Ferris wheel are year round, which I love.

So, good morning, Atlanta.

PAUL: Sunny and a high of 57.

BLACKWELL: Very nice.

PAUL: Go for a run.

I would hope it would be this way for the folks in West Virginia because they need something. They may not, believe it or not, have water in nine West Virginia counties again. Today, we don't know when they might.

BLACKWELL: It could go on for days. But for the time being, the Department of Homeland Security is trucking bottled water for them to use.


GOV. EARL RAY TOMBLIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: The water use ban is still in place. If you're in an affected area, do not use tap water for drinking, bathing, cooking or cleaning. We'll let you know as soon as the water company lifts the ban.


BLACKWELL: So that's tough enough, but today, there are new concerns that the lack of clean water could contribute to the spread of the flu because people can't easily wash their hands.

PAUL: So, CNN's Alina Machado is live in Charleston, West Virginia, right now.

And, Alina, I just -- we keep thinking about these people and how they are holding up. What are they saying to you -- I'm wondering if anybody is going out of town to stay with family for a while. Have you heard of that?

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have, Christi. We certainly have heard of people who left the area to go to other areas where they can use the tap water. It is a difficult situation here. People are holding up as best as they can and stay calm and hope for a very quick resolution to this situation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As soon as we can, fresh water, clean water.

MACHADO: That's the plea from more than 300,000 people waiting to learn their tap water is safe. It's been more than 48 hours since they were told to stop using the water. The end is still unknown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would expect that we're talking days.

MACHADO (on camera): To think the city would be this slow for so many days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you feel hopeless. And you think about the -- what it's going to cost all these businesses.

MACHADO (voice-over): That's the mayor in downtown Charleston, where every restaurant has been closed since Thursday when the chemical leak was detected.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I almost forgot it was a weekend because, you know, it's always so busy.

MACHADO: Lisa Crouch (ph) manages this chili's. She says they are one of the few restaurants preparing to open sometime Sunday after getting the green light from the health department and taking special precautions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Make sure that we have a three pot sink with certain water. It's going to be bottled water only for sanitizing. We have to have all of our bathrooms and sink, hand washing sink set up with sanitizers and set up for the water station, set up with paper towels. Make sure if you cook, we use gloves.

MACHADO: Authorities continue to test the water for the chemical, which is typically used to clean coal. In the meantime, the main priority for thousands is finding water that's safe to drink and use.

FEMA has already sent truck loads of water to help residents with that task.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are anxious because they don't have certainty about what's going on. We are too in the sense we don't know how long this is going on. It doesn't make sense to panic right now. We still have options.


MACHADO: Now, in addition to not knowing how long this situation will go, a lot of the uncertainty is due because a lot of people don't know what are the health risks. There's still an unknown sense of anxiety about just what does this chemical cause and, again, health officials are urging people to stay calm, avoid using the water, emergency rooms here in the area have reported a lot of people showing up. Not necessarily showing the symptoms but they are just concerned, they are worried, they want to know if things are going to be safe -- Christi and Victor.

BLACKWELL: You know, I'm glad you brought up that ambiguity because I wonder if there are people -- now, we understand it's a do not use warning but I wonder if there are people who say fine I won't drink the water and I won't wash my dishes with it but I will wash my clothes because they really don't know what the concerns are.

Are people defying parts of this ban or is everyone saying, we're going to stay away until we know?

MACHADO: We have found people. We have talked to people who say that they have used the water to take a shower, to wash their clothes. Not necessarily to drink it, but we have found people, Victor, who have bathed in this and that's what authorities are asking people not to do because we don't know what are the effects of this chemical.

PAUL: And, you know, we were just talking about the numbers and the flu, six people have died, they believe because of the flu already this year. What concerns are there, there when it comes to the flu or other common colds or anything that could really, especially the flu take people down?

MACHADO: Well, your best line of defense when it comes to protecting yourself against the flu and against other diseases is really just simple hand washing and that's something people are still doing. I mean, we've been washing our hands using water bottles. But, again, it's a challenge when you can't just walk up to a sink and wash your hands. So, you know, those are concerns that health officials are hoping won't turn into something bigger.

PAUL: Hand sanitizer, obviously, probably going to be off the store shelves like the bottled water is.

Alina Machado, take good care of yourself, you and the crew there. Thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: Thanks, Alina.

So, the New Jersey Democrat leading the investigation into the bridge scandal that's rocked Republican Governor Chris Christie's administration tells CNN he thinks a crime may have been committed.


STATE ASSEMBLYMAN JOHN WISNIEWSKI (D), NEW JERSEY: I'm not a prosecutor, but do I think laws have been broken. Clearly it was said on September 13th. Public resource, the bridge, the police officers, the people who move the cones all were used for a political purpose, for some type of retribution. And that violates the law.

So I think law enforcement ought to be looking at this as well to make sure that any violations of law are addressed.


BLACKWELL: Well, that was John Wisniewski from an interview with us, Saturday. He also says he finds it hard to believe that Christi was kept in the dark. Of course, this comes after investigators released more than 2,000 pages of documents on the scandal. Christi's allies are accused of manufacturing a traffic jam at the world's busiest bridge, you see it here live, a former political retaliation.

Well, Christie has denied any wrongdoing and the new documents do not seem to show that he had a role in the plot. Well this week, New Jersey lawmakers will have a special session to try to extend the subpoena power of the legislative investigators.

PAUL: So there's a new book on media mogul Roger Ailes that stirred up some controversy. They haven't people are already talking about it.

Why it's getting so much attention and why FOX News say the book's author has his agenda.


BLACKWELL: It is a book everyone is talking about. It's an unauthorized biography of FOX News chief Roger Ailes. It's called "The Loudest Voice in the Room" and it hit shelves in a few days.

PAUL: And in it, there are controversial claims here, such as the media mogul offered an employee a higher salary if she had sex with him. That Ailes was so eager to influence politics, he reported told executives he wanted to elect the next president in 2012.

Now, we should point out, FOX News says, look, these claims are false.


CNN senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES", Brian Stelter, joins us now from Washington.

So, you're going to talk this morning to the author, Gabriel Sherman. Of course, as we've said, FOX is pushing back on this, understandably.

What is Sherman saying about this?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Well, he spent the last three years writing this book. I got a hard copy of it this morning. It's kind of nice to hold up.

It's a big fat book. It's 560 pages long and for me, someone who's covered FOX News for a decade, there were startling new revelations about Roger Ailes and how much of a genius he is.

You know, he's both a television producer for decades as well as a political strategist for decades and what Gabriel Sherman, the author, suggests or really asserts that those two are intertwined and all of his life has been building up to this point where he runs FOX News, as a political machine as well as a cable news channel. PAUL: OK. So, here's the thing -- FOX has been around for nearly 20 years. One, I'm wondering how the author says that has changed over the years how it's evolved? But, two, some of these claims are so unsavory -- Victor and I were just talking -- I don't know how anybody could get away with what they're claiming for this long.

STELTER: Well, in some of the claims are dated. For example the allegation about, you know, offering to pay for sex, which, of course, never actually happened but it was allegedly offered was many decades ago. There are a couple of other claims in the book also about sexual harassment, or flirtations. But these claims do have actual people's names attached to them, which means that the author actually interviewed the women were involved.

But as you pointed, FOX News does deny these allegations. The core of the book is not about that. The core of the book is really about how FOX operates and how Ailes operates.

And to your point about also how the channel has changed. That's what I thought was the most interesting, and that's what I want to Sherman about today on "RELIABLE SOURCES". He says, I'm going to quote him here, "Obama's victory in 2008 and 2009 changed the mission of FOX News," and then he quotes a former senior FOX producer who says, when he started the channel, it was about a campaign against CNN. But it's now less about the competition and more about the administration.

The book really presents Roger Ailes feeling like tsunami lie one who can defeat Barack Obama. That was a real change in FOX News. You could see in 2009 how it went, seem to become more conservative and more polarizing. So, I'll ask him about that at 11:00 today.

BLACKWELL: That's going to be on lighting conversation.

One other thing I want to talk to you about, Brian, the Supreme Court taking up this case of Aereo, it's a tiny antenna that streams the broadcast networks, CBS, ABC, the broadcasters say we should get some money from this. They are doing something wrong here. What do you think? Do you think this is going to change the way that people view television and if they are going be paid?

STELTER: This is a fascinating case because right now, a broadcast network like ABC and CBS and NBC, they make money from every person who is watching CNN right now. Every person who pays for cable and satellite ends paying for all those broadcast networks.

But as Aereo recognizes you can get those networks for free over the public air waves. So, Aero is a start up that has a bunch of antennas. It pulls the signals down for free and sends it over networks to paying customers. And the broadcast networks are up in arms because they don't get a fee. The Supreme Court decided on Friday to take up this case against Aereo.

This is the biggest media case before the Supreme Court since the Betamax case back in the '80s. Now, of course, is the case that allowed everyone at home to have a VCR and record television shows. This is a new innovation and we'll see what the court ends up deciding. If it allows Aereo to go forward, it might mean that you won't have to pay for NBC, ABC or CBS in your cable bill anymore, and that could ramifications for the whole business.

PAUL: Interesting. Brian Stelter, host of "RELIABLE SOURCES" -- we so appreciate you being here, Brian. Thank you.

STELTER: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Haven't heard a beta max reference in a long time?

PAUL: Again, "RELIABLE SOURCES" coming up at 11:00. Do not miss it. We know we will not.

BLACKWELL: This is going to make you feel good. Blind eighth grader never thought that he would get to play on his school's basketball team.

PAUL: Well, then, his coach made him an offer that he just could not refuse. Oh, this incredible story is next. But first -- let's check in with Dr. Sanjay Gupta what is coming up on "SGMD" at the bottom of the hour.

Hey, Sanjay.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Christi, you know, I always talk about foods you shouldn't be eating. Instead, we're going to take a turn on the show and talk about foods that may be your favorites that can actually help you lose weight. The author of "Eat It To Beat It" is going to stop by. We've got at 7:30 this morning.



BLACKWELL: This is the time of the morning when we bring you stories that make us feel pretty good.

PAUL: We all need that, especially in the morning to get us going here and what an incredible story we have out of Saint Albans, Vermont, right now. An eighth grader Alex Wolf (ph) never thought he would play for his high school's basketball team. He's blind.

Well, last week, his coach made him an offer, really a chance to play here.

Alex describes what happened next.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So he comes over, and he said, "Would that be awesome?" I looked at him and I said, "Yes". And he told me you're going to be in the books if you score a point this place is going to go absolute nuts.


BLACKWELL: OK. So watch this. Alex got the ball. He made one shot, tried it, it missed. He gets a second attempt. It misses.

Now, check out what happened on the third attempt. It went in.

Alex says he will remember that moment forever.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was awesome. Electrifying. I have to say, it was one of the best moments of my career. I want to thank everybody that was there last night. It was a night that I'm never going to forget.


PAUL: How about that? By the way, he also competes in cross country and does color commentary for the basketball games.

BLACKWELL: Imagine the feeling when you hear the cheers.

PAUL: That's awesome.

BLACKWELL: To know it went in.

Hey. So, you know, you think you're a pretty big football fan. Everybody was cheering about the games last night.

Well, would you name your newborn son after your favorite team.

PAUL: Really, people? Really?

Well, believe it or not these University of Alabama football fans named their baby Crimson Tide.

BLACKWELL: I'm surprised it took so long. What's more, the parents let their 5 and 4-year-olds take the lead on that decision.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We all-big Alabama fans and he'll be the next one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My 5 and 4-year-old, they really had the main part in it. That's what they wanted to name him, so that's what we stuck with.


PAUL: The parents have gotten a lot of criticism for the name. They don't let it bother them. You know? Hey, it's your kid, your name, all the power to you.

BLACKWELL: Nothing bad of the name either.

PAUL: Yes. OK, coming up at the top of the hour, it's an exclusive interview right here on NEW DAY. You don't want to miss it.

BLACKWELL: Former NBA star Charles Smith will join us. He'll talk to us about the controversial trip he made to North Korea with Dennis Rodman and other former NBA players. We'll ask him about the media firestorm that erupted over the visit, and what he hoped to accomplish in North Korea.

PAUL: That's coming up at 8:00 right here and you can stay tuned for Sanjay Gupta right now.

BLACKWELL: See you at 8:00.