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@THISHOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Initial Flight 370 Search Delayed Four Hours; Toronto's Mayor To Seek Help for Alcohol Abuse; Flooding in Florida; Malaysia Releases Preliminary Report

Aired May 1, 2014 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: The breaking news, Malaysia's official report on the disappearance of Flight 370 released at long last. So the jet had vanished for 17 minutes before ground control even noticed. And another four hours before a rescue operation was first launched. The big question this morning, why so slow to react?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN HOST: After a years of questionable behavior, drunken rants and admitted crack use, Toronto mayor Rob Ford finally taking a break and getting help.

BERMAN: So the "Queen of Talk," now talking hoops, Oprah Winfrey wants to buy the Los Angeles clippers. And you know what? She's not the only one.

The question is, is the team really even for sale, or will its banished owner decide to play hardball?

Hello there, everyone, I'm John Berman.

PEREIRA: And I'm Michaela Pereira.

It's 11:00 a.m. in the East. That means it's 8:00 a.m., bright and early, out West.

Those stories and much more @ THIS HOUR.

We begin with breaking news. Malaysia has finally released that preliminary report that's been long awaited on the disappearance of Flight 370. Families had pressed for it to be made public, and now 55 days after the plane vanished, that report is out.

BERMAN: Some of the details are frankly shocking, so let's get straight to it. Will Ripley joins us from Kuala Lumpur with the details.

So, Will, tell us what is in the report.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's not just what's in this five-page report, John, but it's the time line attached to it, some of these supplemental documents.

And you asked the question, what took so long? That's the question that I can bet a lot of these families are going to be asking as well. because, you know, the plane disappeared from radar at 1:21 a.m.

It wasn't until 1:38 a.m., a full 17 minutes later, that air traffic control in another country, Vietnam, reached out to Kuala Lumpur and said hey, have you heard anything from Flight 370?

OK, so had that not happened, K.L. air traffic control may have taken longer than 17 minutes to notice that a plane with 239 people suddenly disappeared from radar.

Investigators think it was just minutes after those last cockpit voice recordings that someone started switching off the transponders, the tracking equipment on the plane that allows it to talk to computers on the ground.

And then we know that there was four hours that followed of utter confusion. Where Kuala Lumpur air traffic control was saying they thought the plane was in Cambodia even though there was no clear evidence to show that it was.

But that confused Cambodia. Cambodia started looking. You know, air traffic control in K.L. really didn't know what was going on.

In the meantime, we also know, as confirmed to CNN by the Malaysian prime minister, that military radar was tracking this plane for at least some of that time and nothing was done for hours.

So for four hours of confusion after 17 minutes of not even noticing the plane had disappeared, we have this plane with 239 people on board veering off course, going somewhere.

We don't know where because still nearly eight weeks into this, John and Michaela, we have yet to find one piece of physical evidence from this plane.

You can bet the families are going to be asking a lot of questions after reading this.

PEREIRA: Yeah. And all of us have been looking over these documents.

Will Ripley, we're going to say thank you to you. We're going to bring in aviation expert Richard Quest who's been going over this with a five-piece -- fine-tooth comb.

Five pages, lots of important documents and it's interesting that 17 minutes that the plane's gone off radar.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION EXPERT: Right. I'm not so concerned --

PEREIRA: You're not so concerned about that, are you?

QUEST: Not so concerned about that. It's not unusual for planes to veer off a bit, to be out of touch for a while, international flights. This happens.

It shouldn't, but any pilot will tell you there are those moments, particularly on the handover, one says goodbye; it might be five minutes before the next.

PEREIRA: Fair enough.

QUEST: Seventeen minutes is long. It's not disastrous.

PEREIRA: OK.

QUEST: What I'm much more concerned about is further on. Let's allow an hour, an hour and a half grace period for communications, where is this plane?

We have two very unhelpful contributions from Malaysia Airlines, one suggesting the plane is in Cambodia, the other saying everything's normal.

BERMAN: Neither were true, by the way.

QUEST: Neither is true.

But then after an hour, an hour and a half, you get some exceptionally long periods --

PEREIRA: How long?

QUEST: OK. In one case, 16 minutes; the next case, 37 minutes; next case, 29 minutes; next one, 44 minutes, when nobody seems to be contacting, trying to find the plane.

So were they misled by Malaysia Airlines saying with he know where it is? Clearly nobody knew where this plane was.

BERMAN: Richard, the length of time here goes beyond or does it go beyond negligence into the realm of malfeasance here?

This is a shocking length of time here, especially when you take it in conjunction with the fact that the Malaysian military now apparently was tracking it on radar during that time.

QUEST: Worse than that, after Air France 447, which took six hours before the rescue began, after that, it was very much recognized that it needed to be speeded up before the rescue control center was alerted. And there are definite protocols in place.

Now, again, let's be charitable. Let's allow an hour, an hour and a half because you just don't know where the plane is, it's late at night, different controllers going off to the bathroom, having lunch, whatever.

Ultimately, the long and short of it is four hours is too long.

PEREIRA: So let me speak to you about that. The protocols you say are in place --

QUEST: Yeah.

PEREIRA: Are they generally followed in that part of the world on flights at that time of day? This was in the middle of the night.

Or was this a case of bungling? What are you putting it in the category of?

QUEST: I'm not putting it -- I'm not putting it in the category of incompetence.

PEREIRA: OK.

QUEST: I'm not putting it in the category of malfeasance. I think we need to know more about why nobody -- no government spokesman has actually said, this is why they didn't do anything sooner.

We've really got the tick-tock of who did what, but from my reading -- and look, I'm not a pilot, but I've read more than my fair share of air traffic control reports after accidents.

And I'm telling you, I'm not surprised it took four hours. But it is still a disgrace it took four hours.

BERMAN: I am surprised it took four hours. The length of time when you read the communications here, the confusion, the level of confusion is clear.

Let me ask you this --

QUEST: It's not confusion. It's not confusion.

BERMAN: Is it indifference?

QUEST: No, it's just simply uncertainty. It's not like one person doesn't -- it's me asking you, have you got this? And then you say, I'm not sure. I'm going to ask you.

But then you ask me, and that's -- it's not --

BERMAN: It's uncertainty about a 777 with 239 souls on board.

QUEST: I agree. I agree.

BERMAN: That's a gross level of uncertainty to be dealing with there for as long as they were, again, give them the grace period that they have.

Richard, what is not in this report? Because there is a lot that is not in here.

QUEST: OK. That's the biggest one that's not in the report. I mean, that is the single biggest issue.

We could do it a few more details about the Inmarsat data. We've got more information -- the report doesn't have it.

The report is a fairly standard tedious report that you expect after an event. It's a pro forma-type of event. Now, if this is all we've got, I would be saying it wasn't enough. But I believe very late last night, the prime minister of Malaysia intervened and said, whoa, enough.

PEREIRA: Do you think there will be more documents in the coming days?

QUEST: The prime minister has given the determination of transparency, and unless it's going to conflict with the needs of an investigation, criminal or otherwise, I believe what we've seen today is the first example of the p.m. saying get on with it.

BERMAN: This is the first stages of the transparency we might see more of in the days ahead.

QUEST: I would hope so.

BERMAN: Richard Quest, great to have you here with us. Thanks very much.

PEREIRA: Let's look at some of the other headlines making news today.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said he's tried to tackle his alcohol problem himself, but he's admitted he can't do it alone. He's headed to rehab, and he's taking a leave from campaigning and from his mayoral duties.

This comes just hours after a local -- actually a newspaper in Toronto reported on a new video that allegedly shows him smoking crack.

These are pictures from "The Globe and Mail" showing him holding some sort of pipe.

He issued a statement that says, quote, "I have a problem with alcohol and I've struggled with this for some time."

We're going to have much more on this story, coming up, this hour.

BERMAN: Two inmates were killed and more than 150 other inmates and officers hurt when an apparent gas explosion triggered a collapse of part of a county jail in Florida.

Authorities in Escambia County say three inmates, still unaccounted for.

Some 600 prisoners were in the building at the time. This explosion happened several hours after significant flooding swept through that area.

PEREIRA: Speaking of flooding and rain, record rainfall hammering parts of Florida.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

INDRA PARADIS, PENSACOLA RESIDENT: In an hour, everything just gushed in. It was the strangest thing. It was weird.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PEREIRA: The streets of Pensacola look more like raging rivers. Floodwaters have destroyed homes, businesses and roads.

We're going to take a look at the weather a little later and show you where the weather is headed later @ THIS HOUR.

Ahead, so Rob Ford says he has a drinking problem. He is seeking professional help for it. But Toronto's troubled mayor is not resigning.

Next, we're going to talk to Jane Velez-Mitchell about addiction and why Ford didn't get help months ago.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PEREIRA: I think it's safe to say that we've seen Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in more than a few uncompromising positions over the last year, from slurring in a bad Jamaican accent in a fast food restaurant to cell-phone video appearing to show him smoking crack cocaine.

Now this, pictures of the embattled mayor holding a metallic pipe of some sort from the Toronto newspaper, "The Globe and Mail," national newspaper there in Canada, allegedly taken by a drug dealer while he smoked crack in Ford's sister's basement just last Saturday.

BERMAN: And now after all this, and I mean all of it, Ford is admitting he's got a problem. He says he's going to rehab.

He says he's taking a break from his mayoral duties. He's taking a pause from his re-election campaign after all of this.

PEREIRA: After all of this.

BERMAN: Big questions about why it possibly took this long, joining us now to talk about all this, our national correspondent Susan Candiotti and HLN's Jane Velez-Mitchell.

Susan, let's start with you. What is the mayor saying about this decision?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's asking people to stand by him and to pray for him as he tries to get some help.

But here's how his statement reads in part. Here's a quote from it. He says, "It's not easy to be vulnerable -- and this is one of the most difficult times in my life.

"I have a problem with alcohol, and the choices I have made while under the influence. I have struggled with this for some time."

Now, remember, everyone, it's been over a year since a drug dealer first tried to sell a video of him smoking crack, and at the time first he denied it and then said, well, you know, I try it had once, but I was drunk at the time.

And so we've seen him acting erratically, certainly, time and time again. It's very painful to look at all of this.

But once again, here's the thing. He is not dropping out of the race. And a lot of people are saying it is time for you to do that if you're serious about getting help.

PEREIRA: Aside from the politics, it's interesting because we've seen him be defiant, right? That's sort of -- he does something --

BERMAN: All we've seen from him.

PEREIRA: Right. He has this behavior. He's defiant. He has this behavior. He's defiant. Won't admit to things.

So now he's admitting something, but still is being defiant in a lot of respects.

CANDIOTTI: That's right.

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN HOST, HLN'S "JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL": Defiance is the hallmark of alcoholism and addiction, and I speak as somebody who's 19 years sober from alcohol addiction, but there's no cure.

The question here is, did he really hit bottom this time, or is this a cynical p.r. move because he got caught with his pants down, or as it were, holding what appears to be a crack pipe?

Now, if it were a real heartfelt move, I would think he would have done some other things.

One, said, I resign, because I'm going to devote myself 100 percent to getting sober.

B, not just say I'm seeking professional help, that could mean anything. I could go to a shrink.

BERMAN: That's what he said before, right?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yeah, exactly. Last time he said I had a come-to- jesus moment. I'm going to rehab. Here's where it is. This is how long I'm going to stay. Needs a better game plan.

CANDIOTTI: Remember as his lawyer said to our CNN Paula Newton, he said some people are calling it rehab, and he wasn't specific about what kind of help he is getting, as you point out. What kind of professional help.

BERMAN: Let me read the statement. I have tried to deal with these issues by myself over the past year. That in and of itself is an open question. He says that I know that I need professional help, but I'm now 100 percent committed to getting myself right. So Jane, you know, you've had battles over the years with alcoholism, you were just telling us right now about that. The part of this that is so stunning to me is this has been happening in plain view of all Canada, not to mention all of America, the entire world. We have all been watching this man over the last year make a fool of himself in some ways and battle addiction in another way. Shouldn't someone have stepped in? How could this have come to this?

VALEZ-MITCHELL: Well, there's evidence that he has a codefendant family that justifies, rationalizes, minimizes and otherwise enables him to continue his behavior by saying oh, you're ignoring the good things he's done and things of that nature. But the bottom line is, when you're in the throes of this disease, you are essentially held hostage by the drug or the drink. Telling somebody who is in their disease of alcoholism or drug addiction just, just give it up. It's like telling you, John or Michaela, stop breathing. If you could only stop breathing, then everything would be okay. So essentially, it's an obsession of the mind coupled with a physical craving that is so overpowering that that's, for example, the reason I don't even gargle with mouthwash that has alcohol in it because if I get a taste, it could run up my body and trigger a craving that I have no power to stop. The dichotomy of addiction is the only power you have is the power to surrender to your powerlessness.

PEREIRA: Yes.

CANDIOTTI: And look, if he's successful, and we all hope that he is in getting help. If he is successful, the election isn't until the end of October.

PEREIRA: Well, it makes you wonder.

CANDIOTTI: Theoretically, he could come back. But for now, he's not. Dropping out.

PEREIRA: Part of his campaign has been about second chances and forgiveness. It makes you wonder if Torontonians, how many second chances they are going to allow.

BERMAN: It would have to be third of fourth by the time election day rolls along.

PEREIRA: I say second chances, in quotation marks.

BERMAN: Susan Candiotti, Jane Valez-Mitchell, great to have you here.

PEREIRA: Passionate conversation, ladies. Thank you very much.

VALEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you.

CANDIOTTI: Thank you.

BERMAN: Ahead for us @ THIS HOUR, it has been pouring. We're talking torrential downpours in Florida. Parts of that state inundated right now. The question is when will the weather improve? We'll have the details next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRADEN BALL, FLOOD VICTIM: Water was coming in through our garage and then through the back doors and flowing in out this door. So we just have water in the house. We have little kids. We were getting a chair to perhaps get in the attic. We didn't know exactly what was going to happen. And it was a pretty frightening evening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Water just flowing right through the house there. So many homes under water, cars submerged, water just flowing through the streets. Florida is seeing record flooding.

PEREIRA: Yes, the rainfall at the Pensacola airport was record breaking, soaking it with more than 15 1/2 inches in a single day. The government has declared a state of emergency. Chad Myers is in Pensacola. Let's talk about the conditions for today, how are they looking and is there hope that things are going to get better here very soon?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I think so. There may be a shower or two but not the rain that they had. In fact, that Pensacola airport, only about a mile from here. Every time a plane takes off, we can hear it. This is a street. I am not standing on the beach. I am standing on a street.

PEREIRA: You are kidding.

MYERS: I am standing on Piedmont Road. Under this road was sand. The sand eroded. And let me show you here. I'm about maybe a foot and a half where the road grade would have been. This is the truck. This is where the truck was sitting parked on the road. This, guys, is not going to buff out. All the way down and into the engine. Here's the waterline from the inside of the truck all the way through because see still the water inside. Here's where the road should be. There's the storm sewer in the middle of the roadway. It's all gone. The water came from up here from up here, from up a little reservoir. They call it kind of a retention pond. Came straight down. All the neighbors here walking around, looking at the damage. A lot of insurance adjusters already here. The water coming straight down this road and right on down there, washing all of this away. Now, yesterday we were here with the governor. And there was a lot of gas in the air. Natural gas was everywhere. It's been shut off now, I think, because I don't have any whiffs of that. This is going to take a long time. This is like rebuilding or building an entire neighborhood from scratch. Because the sewers are gone, the waterlines are gone. Gas lines are gone.

PEREIRA: Wow!

MYERS: This is what some parts of Pensacola look like.

BERMAN: Chad, that is crazy.

PEREIRA: Unbelievable.

BERMAN: That is just crazy. And the shot just disappeared.

PEREIRA: We saw the video of the water rushing by. But you don't think about what it looks like after the water is gone. There you have it.

BERMAN: You talk about rebuilding or how are people coping. There's no road there.

PEREIRA: How do you clean up?

BERMAN: You can't pull out of your driveway.

PEREIRA: Yeah like he said that's not going to buff out. There's the video of the water. You can see how high it was. But when that water goes away, you're left with all of that dirt and debris and sand and mud. My goodness.

BERMAN: My goodness exactly.

Ahead for us at this hour, the minutes, the hours, in fact, ticked by without anyone looking for flight 370. We'll examine the Malaysian government's long-awaited report on that flight's disappearance.

PEREIRA: And later, could L.A. Clippers' owner Donald Sterling be the next -- well, no, could L.A. Clippers' owner be the next entry on Oprah's remarkable resume? We'll talk about that coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Breaking news @ THIS HOUR, Malaysia's government has finally made public its first report on flight 370. It says the Boeing 777 had vanished from radar for a full 17 minutes before ground control even took notice. Plus it took another four hours before an effectual rescue operation was launched. Those seem to be critical hours lost.

Also today Malaysia airlines announced it is closing support centers for families of the 239 people who disappeared on that flight. Family members being urged to return home where they will receive regular updates and an advanced compensation package.

PEREIRA: Sarah Bajc, one of the passengers' partners was saying that's difficult for some of the families who live in rural parts of China and don't have Internet access at home..

The botched execution of an Oklahoma inmate is raising a lot of questions about the death penalty, once again. Clayton Lockette was convicted of a terrible crime, raping and killing a teen in 1999. But the White House says his execution, quote, fell short of humane standards. Take a listen to what an eyewitness had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COURTNEY FRANCISCO, KFOR REPORTER: 6:38, he was moving even more. He was almost trying to move off the gurney. He was talking, not words you could understand, but he was mumbling something. At 6:39, he was struggling to breathe. He was struggling to move. He said the word man. We all agreed he said the word man.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PEREIRA: The inmate, Lockette, died of a heart attack 43 minutes after his injection of a lethal cocktail of three drugs went wrong. Legal analysts say courts must decide whether using such drugs in executions constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

BERMAN: Fifty thousand gallons of crude oil unaccounted for in Lynchburg, Virginia. It is not clear how much of that crude burned up and just how much spilled into the James River right there. Witnesses describe a dog pile of wreckage. At least a dozen cars off the rails and three in the water. No injuries reported. The cause of the derailment not yet known.

Former president George W. Bush is on a bike ride this morning with wounded veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. This is the fourth year he's hosted the three-day event.