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Bode Miller Defends Reporter after Interview; Banks Cleared to Accept Pot Businesses; Banks Cleaned to Accept Pot Business; Avalanche Kills Two Skiers in Colorado; Jimmy Fallon Debuts as "Tonight Show" Host

Aired February 17, 2014 - 09:30   ET



UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: When you're looking up in the sky at the start we see you there and it just looks like you're talking to somebody. What's going on there?


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: NBC is getting a lot of heat for this interview.

Rachel Nichols joins us live from Sochi.

Rachel, some people say that the NBC reporter went too far.

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, the person who isn't saying that is Bode Miller. Bode Miller actually tweeted when he woke up here in Sochi this morning finding out that while he was sleeping all of this furor has been happening, this defense, on his behalf.

And this is what he said. He said that he appreciates everyone sticking up for him but he tweeted, being gentle with Christin Cooper, he said, it was crazy emotional and not her fault. He said my emotions were very raw. And then he went on to say that she wasn't trying to cause any pain.

You have to remember, Christin Cooper is not a longtime journalist. She's actually a former Olympic downhill skier herself. So she and Bode have a friendship that goes beyond this one interview. Bode obviously tried to defend her there.

You know, there were people who felt that it was too far. Mike Eruzione, of all people, the hockey hero from the "Miracle on Ice", was one of the people who tweeted that it was very insensitive. In fact he then went on to tweet Bode Miller directly, saying, I'm sorry for that insensitive journalist.

And he spoke for a lot of people who are watching. He -- Bode had sort of a tear going down his face before she asked that last question that you showed and there was a thought that she should have stopped there or even if she didn't stop there, maybe the people at NBC who had all of that edit time in between when the interview took place and when they showed it on TV, we're talking 10, 12, 14 hours, that they maybe should have pulled out or back from the interview.

It's a matter of controversy which of course doesn't hurt NBC's ratings at all, right?

COSTELLO: Right. Well, it was just strange to see Bode Miller showing that emotion. He's such a brash guy. It's just unusual to see him crying.

NICHOLS: Yes. Absolutely. And he is pretty stoic. And I think that's perhaps why it took three or four questions for her to get that emotion out of him. But his brother's death really affected him as of course it would. His younger brother was a snowboarder and had talked about trying to be in this Olympics as a competitor along with Bode.

They talked about it for a while. That this Olympics was the one where he really had quite a good shot of making the team. But he had a motorcycle accident, actually about a dozen years ago. He had some seizure problems ever since there and he died of apparent seizures about a year ago.

Very emotional for Bode knowing that his brother could have been with him here and that he of course has not -- was not able to be.

COSTELLO: Rachel Nichols, many thanks.

Coming up in the NEWSROOM, if you're sick of the snow and the bitter cold you're certainly not alone. A bit of bad news for you, though. It's about to get worse again. Up next the latest on another winter storm set to slam into the Midwest and northeast.


COSTELLO: Checking our top stories at 36 minutes past the hour this morning.

More than 200 people aboard an Ethiopian airline flight are safe after their plane was hijacked by the flight's co-pilot. That co-pilot rerouted the plane from Rome to Geneva where he requested asylum. Swiss authorities are questioning him but say the passengers were never in danger.

A 19-year-old Pennsylvania woman facing murder charges along with her husband for killing a man they met on Craigslist. She's now saying she'd killed at least 22 other people. On Friday, Miranda Barbour was interviewed by a reporter from the "Daily Item" newspaper in Sunbury, Pennsylvania. That reporter Francis Scarcella says Barbour's story seems legit.


FRANCIS SCARCELLA, REPORTER, DAILY ITEM: She's very meek, very mild, very low voiced. She never hesitated once. She never gave the impression of it was a rehearsal.

I said, Miranda, as you sit here, do you have any remorse whatsoever and she said none. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Barbour said she, quote, "stopped counting once she reached 22 killings." The Sunbury Police Department has been in contact with the FBI and law enforcement in places where Barbour has previously lived while they investigate her claims.

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and his fiancee were arrested over the weekend after a fight in an Atlantic City casino. Police say Rice and Janay Palmer were caught on surveillance cameras hitting each other. Both were charged with simple assault and released a few hours later. Rice's attorney describes the situation as, quote, very -- "a very minor physical altercation."

Just days after parts of the northeast got hammered by a foot of snow another round of winter weather is on the way.

Let's bring in meteorologist Indra Petersons because she has to tell us more whether we want to hear it or not.

Good morning.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning. I mean, let's talk about this season so far. Look at these numbers. New York City seeing about 55 inches of snow. That means that they're eighth snowiest since we've been taking records. And Philadelphia and Indianapolis, same thing, this is the third snowiest since we've been keeping records.

Unbelievable season. And yes, you know by now, more snow already out there. Minneapolis seeing the snow threats of freezing rain around St. Louis and all of this expected to dump some pretty good amounts. I mean, here we go again. Minneapolis looking for four to six inches. Chicago same thing. Then as you go through late evening around Pittsburgh about two to five inches.

We're still recovering on the East Coast. It looks like New York City tonight and Boston in through tomorrow still looking for several inches of snow. Key, though, on the back side they could see some rain.

So that's how the picture kind of looks like right now. Then through the evening. Notice in the morning commute tomorrow that's when we're going to start talking about some snow right around the mid-Atlantic and New York City. And then kind of pushing off towards New England by late evening tomorrow.

But then, yes, this is where I want some gifts, guys. Things are changing, finally. Jet stream lifting to the north. The cold air, retreating to the north. So we're going to be talking about a warm up and it's a good one. I mean, look at this. These are the departures from normal. So highs today, D.C. looking for 36, that's 12 degrees below normal.

You might want to check out Atlanta there, Carol?

COSTELLO: Yes, baby.

PETERSONS: Look at this. By Wednesday, it's not 70 but I'm going to say it's close enough. Right?


PETERSONS: Temperatures look amazing. And long waiting for this. So definitely a lot better by Wednesday, guys.

COSTELLO: I love the jet stream.

PETERSONS: Right? Depends on where it is.



Thank you, Indra.


COSTELLO: Still to come in the NEWSROOM, new rules are going into a place -- going into place for banks trying to do business with marijuana dispensaries.

CNN's chief business correspondent Christine Romans has more for us.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Carol. And it doesn't mean that the big banks in this country are rushing in to the pot business. I'm going to tell you what's holding them back right after the break.


COSTELLO: Marijuana dispensaries getting more backing from the federal government. Pot dispensaries can now legally open bank accounts to deposit money from pot sales.

Let's bring in CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans.

A good thing because those business owners were having to carry these large amounts of cash because the banks wouldn't accept the cash.

ROMANS: Look, and when you think about the product they have that's so valuable and prone to theft and you think about the cash nature of the business this is becoming, according to Eric Holder, the attorney general of the United States, a public safety issue for some of these companies.

So the Treasury Department has issued some guidelines for how the banks can legally provide savings accounts, do banking service, even loans for these legal pot businesses. And this is really, really a big deal in states like Colorado and Washington but also for the other states that are using -- doing medicinal marijuana businesses. But here's the interesting thing. Bankers remain reluctant here. The American Banking Association's Frank Keating, saying, look, they still have an underlying challenge for banks, quote, "Possession or distribution of marijuana violates federal law and banks that provide support for those activities face the risk of prosecution and assorted sanctions."

We talked to Wells Fargo this morning. That's a big bank. Their policy they say is not to bank marijuana businesses, they are reviewing these new guidelines but for the time being their policies remain the same.

So you're seeing the big banks cautious on this even though there are new guidelines from the government Carol. Analysts telling us they think small and mid-size community banks might be the best bet for legal pot businesses to do business in the banking industry.

COSTELLO: So what are -- what are people who own pot businesses doing with the money they make? Where do they put it?

ROMANS: Well their safes. They are -- they are hiring armed guards at the doors. They are essentially operating a cash business here. Now one of the interesting things that the Justice Department has told U.S. attorneys not to pursue banks that do business with legal marijuana dispensaries as long as they -- they follow some rules, they can't do any trafficking to children, any business whatsoever with the illegal drug cartels, the international drug cartels. No trafficking into states where it is not legal.

So some of these hurdles that the big banks are saying look, you know, can you really guarantee if you give a loan to a legal pot business that somewhere down the line one of those rules are being violated they are just not so sure they want to do business quite yet with legal pot businesses -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Christine Romans reporting live from New York, thank you.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

COSTELLO: All new in the next hour of NEWSROOM. It's been called a widespread natural disaster caused by the brutal winter weather; the cost of propane skyrocketing so high many people paying three times what they did last year.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I worry about the people that don't have the money to pay for a tank fill up, the same people on fixed incomes, the people that work for lower wages.


COSTELLO: I'll talk to a federal lawmaker who thinks the situation is so desperate he's appealing to the White House for help. That's all new for you at 10:00.


COSTELLO: A search and rescue mission in Colorado turns into a search and recovery mission, after two skiers were killed over the weekend by an avalanche. Officials say the two were part of an experienced group of skiers who got caught in the back country snow slide. This morning teams are battling steep and rugged terrain to try and find their bodies to get them off the mountain.

CNN's Stephanie Elam has more for you.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The Special Avalanche Advisory says it all. Back country avalanche conditions are very dangerous. We are in the midst of a historic avalanche cycle.

TOM HURST, CDOT AVALANCHE MITIGATION TEAM: As long as the winter is here and as long as it's snowing, we're going to be concerned and we're going to continue our mitigation efforts.

ELAM: Those efforts have now come with tragic circumstances. Sunday afternoon after an extensive search in the Colorado Mountains search and rescue workers found two bodies beneath the snow. The two were part of a team of seven that triggered an avalanche outside of Aspen.

SUSAN MATTHEWS, LAKE COUNTY OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT: The two persons that were missing were wearing beacons. And the ground crew was able to find the signals for them. The first -- the first team, however, that went up had to wait for safety clearance. And they found one body and then the safety team went to find a safe traversing path for the second team to go.

ELAM: The thrill of the back country is alluring but it can also kill. This deadly incident follows a string of avalanches that took the lives of six people in the past week alone from Colorado to as far West as Oregon.


ELAM: CNN's Gary Tuchman recently hit the back country with an avalanche and safety expert highlighting the three must haves before you head out on the mountain.


TUCHMAN: Beacon, probe, shovel those are the three things you have to have?

GREENE: That's right.

ELAM: Avalanche officials say unusual conditions in the mountains can lead to surprising avalanches.

SUSAN MATTHEWS, LAKE COUNTY OFFICE OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: The problem we have in the state of Colorado and other states is that we have had a lot of snow this year. It is record snowfall through this time of year -- very deep snow, very unstable conditions.

TRACY LECLAIR, SUMMIT COUNTY SHERIFF'S: People are always going for deeper and untracked areas. And you know, unfortunately the snow pack right now is not conducive to taking risks like that.

ELAM: Stephanie Elam, CNN, Los Angeles.


COSTELLO: Still to come in the NEWSROOM, we lighten the mood. Jimmy Fallon makes his debut as host of "The Tonight Show" tonight. How will he set himself apart and keep the show on topic. Nischelle Turner has the scoop.



COSTELLO: Oh, Harry, Hermione and Ron -- say it isn't so. True to her word, J.K. Rowling will not be whisking us away to another version of Diagon Alley anytime soon. This morning Rowling's publisher announced on Twitter she will be releasing her second book under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. The new book is called "The Silkworm" and it tells the story of a novelist who had murdered after horrible tell- all portraits of everyone he knows. It is J.K. Rowling's second in a series featuring Detective Cormoran Strike. It comes out in June.

Jimmy Fallon officially takes over as host of "The Tonight Show" tonight. But he's got some big shoes to fill. Jay Leno managed to keep the show at number one for most of his 22 years as the show's host. But in this environment of more competition, including Internet, streaming, cable TV and broadcast networks, what does Fallon need to do to distinguish himself and still keep the show number one.

Nischelle Turner has the answers to every single one of those questions. Good morning.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Everything and more Carol. First of all NBC wants him to skew younger -- that's what they want because they want to grab the audience that they have had trouble getting and grow that audience with Jimmy, keep them along so he can continue that run at number one.

He does have big shoes to fill, like you said though. He debuts tonight. "The Tonight Show" is a 60-year tradition. It has launched so many careers. While this is probably the most prestigious of the jobs in late night, it is also the most scrutinized.

Now Jimmy is taking over for Jay Leno. You mentioned that as well. He was the host for 22 years and he was a convincing number one for most of those. He also has to follow the 2009 debacle where NBC took Jay off the air in favor of Conan O'Brien and well, we all remember how that turned out. This time though, his departure -- Jay's departure and Jimmy's arrival scene to be a bit more harmonious. They did that whole passing of the torch duet together, they've done interviews together. We are looking at him on "The Tonight Show" right there.

And Jay Leno said in an interview that they did together that of anyone on the air in late night right now, Jimmy Fallon is the closest to Johnny Carson and that is high praise since Jay says Carson is the best to have ever done it.

By the way Carol, for the past 22 years, the show has been called "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno". Jimmy is going back to the Carson days and calling it "The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon".

Will Smith is his first guest tonight. U2 is the first musical guest. So it's going to be a good show.

COSTELLO: Awesome.

TURNER: He gets the first lady this week, too. Yes.

COSTELLO: I will set my alarm and I'll wake up and watch. Thanks so much, Nischelle Turner.


COSTELLO: The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts now.

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

There is extra heartache for the family of Jordan Davis. Sunday would have been Jordan's 19th birthday. This weekend, the jury could not reach a verdict against the man who admitted to killing him. Davis was gunned down outside of a gas station Thanksgiving weekend of 2012.

On Saturday, a Florida jury convicted Michael Dunn on three counts of attempted second-degree murder for shooting at the three other teenagers in Davis' car. But the jury was deadlocked on that first- degree murder charge in Davis' death.

For the first time since the verdict was read, Michael Dunn's family reacted to the news that Dunn could still spend the rest of his life behind bars.


REBECCA DUNN, MICHAEL DUNN'S DAUGHTER: I love him so much. Like, I can't imagine life without him. He is going to protect himself if he sees no other way -- that's what he is going to do.


COSTELLO: The Dunn case stirred strong echoes of the Trayvon Martin case, the unarmed teenager who was shot to death by a neighborhood watch volunteer. In fact Trayvon's mother Sybrina Fulton shared this hug with the mother of Jordan Davis. Both of Trayvon Martin's parents have voiced their support and sympathy for Lucia McBath and her family.