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CNN NEWSROOM

Troubled Tiara; Mt. Hood Search

Aired December 19, 2006 - 11:00   ET

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


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning everyone, you're with CNN, you're informed. I'm Tony Harris.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Heidi Collins. Developments keep coming into the NEWSROOM on this Tuesday, the 19th of December. Here's what's on the rundown now.

Troubled tiara, Miss USA could get shoved off her throne today, the charge, drinking while beautiful. Donald Trump's announcement, live in just minutes.

HARRIS: Mt. Hood search, a new storm arriving soon, precious minutes slipping away for two stranded climbers.

COLLINS: And people having the time of two lives. Meet the supercentareans, folks over 110, under no obligation to father time in the NEWSROOM.

Big time trouble under the tiara. We'll soon find out if Miss USA gets to keep her crown.

HARRIS: Reports linking Kentucky's Tara Conner to behavior unbecoming a beauty queen. Now pageant guru Donald Trump announces Conner's fates just minutes from now, but first now to our entertainment correspondent Brooke Anderson in New York. And Brooke we've heard some of the allegations, you outlined them for us a moment ago. For folks who are just joining us, maybe you could do that again. But I am curious, one of the allegations is of drinking, in particularly underage drinking. Is there any suggestion here that Tara Conner might have a serious problem with drinking?

BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's just pure speculation at this point. She hasn't responded to CNN's requests for an interview, and of course, Donald Trump nor the Miss USA organization has commented specifically on that. But it's a great point, Tony because some people say that hey, if Donald Trump keeps her as Miss USA, maybe if she does have a problem, they could get her some sort of help that a lot of young people go through these same sort of pressures and issues and that she could be a role model on the back end for overcoming such issues and problems and obstacles. But that remains to be seen. We are awaiting the press conference to happen inside Trump Tower in just a few minutes. It may be a few more minutes before Donald Trump takes the podium and announces his decision. But the allegations to run through them once again are drinking, underage drinking. Tara Conner just turned 21 yesterday. Also there are allegations of drugs, specifically cocaine use. "The New York Daily News" and "The New York Post" both reported that Tara Conner failed a drug test. Also allegations of sexual escapades, reports that she wasn't showing up for appearances, for obligations that under -- in her contract, she signed on and agreed to fulfill those obligations. And those appearances are really the bread and butter of the Miss USA organization. So if she's not showing up, then there's bound to be some sort of a problem. But it's pure speculation at this point if she does indeed have a problem.

HARRIS: Ok.

ANDERSON: She did arrive about 45 minutes ago here at the Trump Tower to have a meeting with Trump prior to this press conference.

COLLINS: Hey Brooke, I've had an opportunity to look at some of the prizes that Miss USA gets, just looking at some of the things here. If in fact she loses this title, this crown and it's handed off to the runner-up, do you have any idea what happens with all of these things? To be specific, I'm talking about a $200,000 crown, another $17,500 crown. That's the official Miss USA pearl tiara that I think we have seen. There's a New York City apartment, there's a two-year scholarship for the school for film and television. These are some pretty hefty prizes.

ANDERSON: Pretty hefty prizes and there may be something in the contract that says, hey, if you're not able to fulfill your duty, if the first runner-up does have to take over, you have to forfeit the prizes. I'm not exactly sure, that's a great question. If Tamiko Nash does take over, I'm sure she'll get her very own beautiful tiara to wear for the final -- the remaining four months that Tara did have on her reign. But she has a lot of prizes, vacations -- she had the world at her feet, living in Trump Place Apartments with Miss Universe, Miss Teen USA, pretty much everything paid for. And you know a lot of people have said someone that young moving from small town Kentucky to New York City, just thrust into the limelight, receiving a lot of flattery, someone that young may not be mature enough to handle it in a responsible way.

COLLINS: Isn't this the age, though, of most contestants? Or is she particularly young for this title?

ANDERSON: No, it's pretty much the average age. You know, it goes into the mid-20s. But you know a lot of beauty queens of today are 20 and 21 years old, so fairly young. And it's not unlike college, you know you move out of your parents' house, no parental supervision for the first time, you have all this independence. But like I say, are you mature enough to handle it in a responsible way? That's what a lot of people are asking.

COLLINS: Hey Brooke?

ANDERSON: Yes.

HARRIS: You have some experience with this pageant business, correct? Is that correct?

ANDERSON: Here we go. It is correct, Tony. HARRIS: You knew it had to start. But here's what I'm getting at here. I want to learn from your experience in the whole pageant arena, how tough, how strict is this contract language as to what it is you can and probably more importantly, what you shouldn't be doing?

ANDERSON: Right. Well I didn't reach the level that Tara Conner has reached, obviously. And I competed in the Miss America organization. It's totally different from the Miss USA system. But at the state and national level, they do sign contracts. And I spoke with two former Miss USA finalists in the pageant over the past few years yesterday and they told me that it is very specific, very clear cut on your duties, on the rules, on the regulations, the requirements. But it's not so clear on what you shouldn't do. Yes, it's very clear they want you to be a role model, they want you to set a good example but everybody's definition of a role model is different these days. So it's subjective, it's a gray area, but they said, hey, she knew what she was in for and it was only 12 months, why shouldn't she --

COLLINS: Pardon the interruption Brooke, but we have Donald Trump at the microphones now, so we want to go ahead and listen in, ok?

ANDERSON: Yes.

DONALD TRUMP, CO-OWNER, MISS UNIVERSE ORG.: This has been a very difficult time for the Miss USA pageant, and especially for our current Miss USA, Tara Conner. It's not been easy. Paulis Eugard, all of the representatives of Miss Universe and Miss USA have been working very, very hard on a very, very difficult problem. In 2002 I fired Oxana Fedarova who was Miss Universe because quite frankly she did a terrible job, she didn't do her job. She was a very beautiful woman, did not do her job. And it was an easy thing for me to do. In the case of Tara, she made some very, very bad choices, some foolish choices. And she will readily admit she made some mistakes. Some of those mistakes were bad mistakes. I've just met for a pretty long period of time with Tara. We talked about a lot of things. And to be honest, I expected fairly routinely that we would be terminating Tara as Miss USA. After speaking to her, I saw not only a beautiful young woman that was obvious, I saw somebody that had a good heart that really, really tried. She left a small town in Kentucky and she was telling me that she got caught up in the whirlwind that's New York, that we all know is New York. It's a story that's happened many times before, to many women and to many men that came to the big apple. They wanted their slice of the big apple and they found out it wasn't so easy.

I've always been a believer in second chances. I've always been. Tara is a good person. Tara has tried hard. Tara is going to be given a second chance. Young people today have a tough road. There's no question about it. Alcohol, drugs, life, and especially in this city and a couple of other cities, it's tough. It's not easy. I believe, after speaking with Tara, I believe that she can do a tremendous service to young people. She's agreed to go into rehab. She knows that if she makes even the slightest mistake from here on, she will be immediately replaced. I believe that Tara can serve as somebody actually even more important than being Miss USA. I believe she can be a great example for troubled people. And she's troubled. For troubled people, throughout this country, throughout lots of countries, that have problems with alcohol that have problems with life. I believe she will be an amazing -- an amazing example. And with that, I'd like to have Tara say a few words, please. Tara?

TARA CONNER, MISS USA: Ok, I want to start off by saying that walking into this tower this morning in no way did I think it would be possible for a second chance to be given to me. I've had a very big blessing bestowed upon me. And you will never know how much I appreciate Mr. Trump for saving me on this one. It truly takes someone with a wonderful heart, a heart of gold, and a blessed soul to take something that -- he doesn't have to keep me around, you heard about the other things he could have said. You know, you're fired and I think that's what everyone expected, especially me. But he's a very, very compassionate person and, obviously I've learned that today. And I'm so happy that I'm being given this opportunity because I know that when I do my job, I'm very passionate about it. And I guess one of the good things about having some kind of little troubles here and there is you're able to reach out to far more people. And I'm willing to do whatever it takes, not only given a chance to have time to better myself but to better me as Miss USA and I plan on walking out of this the best Miss USA that you've ever seen. And I promise you that. And I want to thank all of the people that have been behind me. I want to apologize to my family if I've put any disgrace upon you, but know that, thank God, I have the chance to make it right.

So Mr. Trump, I want to thank you. You'll never know what this means to me and I swear I will not let you down. And I want to thank -- I want to thank Miss Paula Shugard and the Miss Universe Organization because they've had to put up with me. We've had some battles but they're right. I've learned so much from this woman. She's amazing. And I'm so happy that I have her. And I'm so happy to have my mother because she has made me the person that I am. And trust in this, that I do have a very solid heart. And then when I love, I love dearly. I love this job, I love the people that I work for and that I work with. And I love all of the causes that I have put forth so much effort here, especially in New York. And even after this reign is over, I want to continue to work for these causes. I don't want to let this part go of my life. I've wanted this since I was 13 years old. And you know what, I almost let it get away. But this time, it's not going to happen.

So I want to thank you for hearing me out. I want to thank all of the people that have been behind me. And I want to thank Mr. Trump and I want to thank Miss Paula Shugard and the Miss Universe Organization for doing what they said they would do, because their goal is to empower women and to make us the best women that we can possibly be. And I've learned so much in these eight months that I've been Miss USA and I have so much more to learn. But I'm open and I have an open heart. I'm willing it with open arms. I can't wait just to get back to work and just do my job. So thank you all for coming out, thank you Mr. Trump again and thank you Miss Paula.

TRUMP: If you want, a few questions for Tara. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was it like to be (INAUDIBLE) in the media over the past two weeks? And also, can you confirm or deny whether or not you failed a drug test?

CONNER: You know, there are so many allegations that were put up against me. But in order to be a Miss USA and in order to be any public figure, you have to realize that you have to watch what you do. You're being watched like a hawk, not to mention, people can say whatever they want. They can say anything about a drug, they can say anything about alcohol, they can say anything about a club. You know, I was so many different places this weekend and I was tucked away in Columbus, Ohio with my cousin Raven. You know, that's the thing about allegations. Some things, yes, I went out. I had a couple of nights where yes I did drink and that was stupid. It was under age, it's strictly prohibited. And you know that's why coming into this, I thought there's no way that I'm going to be allowed a second chance for this. But anything, like with a drug issue, things of that nature, I don't have a comment on anything like that.

(INAUDIBLE)

CONNER: Yeah, I realize my role as a role model. And I can say with an honest heart that with some of the people I've worked with, and some of the organizations that I've worked with, one of which being Project Sunshine, I worked with a couple of mothers and we had a spa day. And their children had some kind of a disability or they had some kind of an ailment or they were just at risk. And to be able to sit down with these women, we had the best time and we had the best conversation. And they thought that it was great that I wasn't ashamed to go to Target and go buy something to wear. You know, but that's me. I come from a very, very small town.

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

CONNER: This is what I do want to clear up, if anything, Katie Blair is a wonderful Miss Teen USA, I hate that she got dragged into all of this. She's a good girl, she has a good heart. And I have every confidence in the world that she's going to be a very, very successful Miss Teen USA and I'm proud to call her my friend.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tara are you an alcoholic?

CONNER: I wouldn't say that I'm an alcoholic. I think that that would be pushing the envelope just a little, but I'm willing. I mean any time that any one gives you free anything, let's talk about therapy or let's talk about any kind of rehab. We all have personal demons that we have to face at some point or another. And -- you know, my personal demons are my personal demons. That's the good thing.

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

CONNER: It's under the discretion of the Miss Universe Organization to tell me when and where.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will be meeting with Tara after this. There are certain issues here, she's been under media scrutiny for quite some time. This is a personal time for Tara and the organization. And there are certain things that we will be meeting with privately and discuss what's going to happen over the next few weeks with her.

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

TRUMP: Yes, Tara will be back in the apartment. How about today? Ok?

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

TRUMP: Well, the young women have chaperons but they don't have chaperons at all times such as their personal time, but I don't think we'll make any changes. We've never had a problem before and I think Tara is going to be the great comeback kid. Andrea?

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

TRUMP: They will be doing drug testing, yes. They'll be doing drug testing, yes.

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

TRUMP: Well, until this morning, I didn't know exactly which way it was going to go. And I had a lot of people on both sides of the equation. I mean, a lot of people thought she should go and a lot of people thought she should be given a second chance. When Tara came into my office at 10:00 this morning, and told me about not only her life but different things that have happened, while she came into a very fast life in New York City. I felt then and there that she should be entitled to a second chance. And the people that represent me at Miss Universe/Miss USA, have felt very strongly about Tara as a person. She's a good person. If she weren't a good person, I wouldn't have done this, believe me. Yes?

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

TRUMP: Because we wanted to get to the bottom of a lot of the allegations. And many of the allegations were false.

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

TRUMP: We don't want to comment on drug tests. We don't want to comment -- well you know, let me ask you, would you want a second chance if you did something wrong?

(INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: No, that's for sure. Say it again.

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

TRUMP: I don't want to comment on that. But many of the allegations about Tara were false. Yes? Say it?

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

TRUMP: Ok, any other questions?

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

TRUMP: You're never going to prevent it. The question is, Tara got caught up in the whirlwind of New York and that happens to many. And the question is how do we prevent that? Again, for people -- I'm not talking Miss USA, Miss Universe, for people, and the answer is, you're never going to prevent it. It's New York City, it's a fast place. And it's hard for people to come in and enter this zone. There's no question about it. Andrea?

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

TRUMP: Well, they have chaperons almost all the time and it didn't help. Yes?

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

TRUMP: Well, I don't think she denies she's an alcoholic. My impression of that was she's probably not very sure. And usually when you're not sure of something, that's not a good --

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

TRUMP: How lucky is Tara?

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

TRUMP: No, I think I give a lot of second chances on "The Apprentice," actually. I think I do. I don't love firing people. You know I have this reputation like I love -- I do not like firing people, believe me.

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

TRUMP: We're giving Tara a second chance. Ok, yes, one more question? Yes?

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

TRUMP: It won't change, it's a great process. It's a great and very successful pageant system. Everybody agrees to that. We're on NBC, it's a network, it's a big thing. It does terrifically well and we're not going to change a thing in that respect. Thank you all very much. Appreciate it.

HARRIS: Man.

COLLINS: So there you have it. Donald Trump, the owner of the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageant gives Tara Conner a second chance. He's always believed in second chances.

HARRIS: Yes, he's been married three times. Of course he believes in second chances. Hey, look, we could feast on this. COLLINS: I wish the folks at home could hear the newsroom behind us.

HARRIS: This essentially, we could feast on this for hours, correct?

COLLINS: We could.

HARRIS: We could. All right, it is the bright lights, big city story, right?

COLLINS: It is.

HARRIS: All right. So maybe we'll talk about it a little more. We have to get to the break.

COLLINS: Stick around. We have a lot more on this story. We'll be back, the CNN NEWSROOM in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: So just may well be the press conference of all press conferences.

HARRIS: Come on.

COLLINS: Donald Trump just announcing moments ago that Miss USA, Tara Conner will get a second chance after some inappropriate behavior that he didn't talk too much about. But he did say that she did a terrible job but he believed in second chances.

HARRIS: And made some very, very bad choices. Did we not just watch the birth of the next reality show star? Did we not just watch that, tears and everything?

COLLINS: Could be possible the best moment by far, as they stood together, she answered some questions, he came up to her defense, she leaves, goes and gets the sash, puts the sash on, comes back to the microphone with the sash around her shoulders.

HARRIS: Ok, I just want to make sure that we're covering all the bases here. Brooke Anderson, is Brooke with us now, is she with us? Hey Brooke?

ANDERSON: I'm here and you guys, most press conferences aren't this dramatic, are they?

COLLINS: Oh, this is good stuff.

HARRIS: Well here's my question to you, Brooke. Now the serious part of this, I guess, I want to gauge this properly, is that she is, Tara Conner is going into rehab to treat what is not -- is a problem but not really a problem, according to her. She didn't want to make too big a deal of it.

ANDERSON: No, she didn't. Donald Trump is the first one who said she will be going into rehab. And then when she was asked about, she said she's not an alcoholic, that that would be pushing the envelope. And also neither wanted to comment about the allegations of drugs and the allegations of failing a drug test. You know, she said that her personal demons are her personal demons and that everybody has problems. But like you say, it may be the birth of a new reality show. Donald Trump said he thinks she may be the greatest comeback kid. So, she has four more months to prove herself.

COLLINS: I wonder, Brooke, if it's a bit of a PR move possibly to, to go straight to the talk of rehab and so forth.

ANDERSON: Probably. You know, we're talking about this, a week ago, two weeks ago, was anybody talking about the Miss USA pageant? Did we know who Tara Conner was? Most of us, the answer is no. But now we are talking about it. And to be honest, I had a sneaking suspicion that he would give her a second chance because think what this could do for ratings for the next Miss USA pageant telecast. And you know, as well as I do, that popularity for pageants has been waning over the years. It's been on the decline. Telecast numbers are down. So they had to be thinking about that as well as giving her a second chance because as he said, she is a good person.

COLLINS: Sure, and I guess you can look at it both ways, too Brooke. Either it sort of damages the name and the credibility for Miss USA, which as you very clearly pointed out earlier, a much, much different pageant than Miss America, more of a scholarship pageant there.

ANDERSON: I paid off all of my student loans by the way.

COLLINS: Yeah, with the scholarship money, understood. You know we want to go ahead and show a little bit of this press conference. Here now is Tara Conner as she first came to the microphone moments ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONNER: I wouldn't say that I'm an alcoholic. I think that that would be pushing the envelope just a little, but I'm willing. I mean any time that any one gives you free anything, let's talk about therapy or let's talk about any kind of rehab. We all have personal demons that we have to face at some point or another.

I've had a very big blessing bestowed upon me and you will never know how much I appreciate Mr. Trump for saving me on this one.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Ok. All right, so, Brooke, there are the tears and everything else. You could have predicted that, you knew that was coming. But isn't this essentially, oh, I'm from a small town and I'm caught up. This is the bright lights, big city defense, isn't it?

ANDERSON: It seems to be that way, Tony and Donald Trump himself said that this morning, he didn't know which way this was going to go until he met with Tara Conner and basically he said, she really opened up about, hey, she is from small town Kentucky and she got up in the whirlwind, got caught up in the fast track here in New York City.

He did say going forward there will be drug testing. He said there are chaperons, yes, but there aren't chaperons all of the time. And that she will be moving back into her apartment at Trump Place on the Upper West Side.

HARRIS: But ...

COLLINS: Like today.

HARRIS: But here is the question. Do your actions reveal character? Again, let's go through some of the allegations here.

ANDERSON: Well, some of the allegations were drinking under age, which she admitted to in the press conference. She just turned 21 yesterday. And she said you know, that was wrong. It was a mistake.

Also, allegations of drug use. Neither would talk about that, but Donald did say going forward, yes, there will be drug testing. Also, allegations of sexual escapades. Also allegations that she made out with Miss Teen USA, Katie Blair.

She was actually thrown that question in the press conference. She said she hated that Katie was dragged into this. She's a good person. But she specifically didn't answer the questions. So, we'll see what happens going forward.

COLLINS: We will. Really quickly before we go, does Miss USA have a platform? I mean, she mentioned working with children. I just kind of wonder about that whole role model thing and what she'll be working toward for the rest of her year.

ANDERSON: Working with children. I've also heard a little bit about Mothers Against Drunk Driving. I do need to confirm a little bit more about what she was talking about when she said she is still passionate about her community service. But each Miss USA does have a platform, indeed.

COLLINS: All right. We will look into that, certainly. Brooke Anderson, so glad you were there for us today to break it all down. All right.

In New York, Brooke Anderson, we'll keep in touch with you as the story develops.

On Oregon's Mt. Hood, the clock is ticking and a storm is approaching. Rescue crews know the last hopes of finding two missing climbers may now be entering the final hours.

Joining us to discuss today's efforts, Steve Rollins of the Portland Mountain Rescue Team. Steve, can you go ahead and give us an update on what type of weather conditions you're looking at around you at this time?

STEVE ROLLINS, PORTLAND MOUNTAIN RESCUE: Well, I'm actually down in town. The search effort today is significantly scaled back. All the helicopters have been sent down. Really the search effort primarily a River County Sheriff (INAUDIBLE) and a ground team checking the lower glacier for any evidence of the climbers walking out.

COLLINS: What's your instinct about this mountain and about this search? I know you have been on Mt. Hood yourself.

ROLLINS: Yes. Just personally, I do subscribe to the theory that these two other climbers may have fallen off the north face of the mountain. I base that personally off the ice axes that were found. An ice ax is the last thing a mountaineer is ever going to get rid of, particularity on terrain like that where it's critical. So, the fact that those were found without the climbers is certainly alarming.

COLLINS: Remind us really, quickly if you could, Steve, we learned from Sheriff Wampler yesterday that they believe that that snow cave was dug about 300 feet below the summit and then directly below the snow cave is this area that we know of now to be called the Gullies, a 2,500 foot drop. And that is the area that he said is just too dangerous to get crews in and is worried about a falling accident.

ROLLINS: Yes. I mean it's dangerous for rescue crews to be in there. I believe we've had 13 fatalities off that area in the last 40 years. It is a common place to have climbing accidents. (INAUDIBLE) degrees on average. You can check the base of them. There's so much avalanche, rock fall, ice fall. It is hazardous to get climbers in there right now.

COLLINS: As we mentioned, this search has been scaled down quite a bit. How difficult will it be to find them, specifically if they are in that area we just talked about?

ROLLINS: Quite difficult. If we get another storm, (INAUDIBLE) kick a lot of snow up on the mountain, it will probably be something that will have to wait until spring or summertime when the glacier opens up to see if any evidence melts out at that time. There's just not a lot that we can do.

COLLINS: It must be terribly frustrating. And as we mentioned bringing you in, you're from the Portland Mountain Rescue. Tell us, if you would, what your group in particular is doing in all of this.

ROLLINS: Well, now we're just simply on the standby mode. If any major clues materialize, we can certainly go back up on the mountain. Our role, primarily we have teams on the north side, but most of our work was on the south side.

Supporting the helicopter teams, setting fixed ropes, and then also searching the south side of the mountain because prior to the cave being discovered we didn't know whether they'd be on the north or south side of the mountain.

COLLINS: Right. Well, Steve Rollins, it's a pleasure talking with you at the Portland Mountain Rescue. Everyone so appreciates your efforts and the efforts of the rest of the search and rescuers. Thanks again, Steve.

Also want to remind everybody that there will be a news conference coming up. We've been having these for the past couple of days now at noon on the very latest with the two remaining missing climbers on Mt. Hood.

HARRIS: Another desperate search, two top American climbers lost in the remote mountains of China. What's being done to find them, find out next in the NEWSROOM.

And some health news straight ahead for you. What's the secret to a long and healthy life? Dr. Sanjay Gupta introduces us to a 112- year-old woman. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Living longer and staying healthy. Some people are actually making it happen.

COLLINS: Doctors want to know their secret. So do we. Here is CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I didn't smoke and I didn't drink. Work, go home.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Those are words to live by, and she should know. Gertrude Baines is 112 years old, and except for the arthritis in her knee, she's never been seriously sick a day in her life.

GERTRUDE BAINES, SUPERCENTENARIAN: I've taken care of myself, that's all.

GUPTA: She belongs to an exclusive group of people over the age of 110 called supercentenarians and researchers believe they might be the key to finding the fountain of youth.

DR. DOROS PLATIKA, CEO SUPERCENTENARIAN RESEARCH FOUNDATION: These people at every stage of their lives -- they look younger, but not only look younger, they function much younger.

GUPTA: So how can we live longer and healthier lives like Gertrude Baines? That's the question the Supercentenarian Research Foundation is trying to answer.

PLATIKA: People who live longer primarily live longer because they have genes that protect them from disease. They don't get Alzheimer's. They don't get heart attacks.

GUPTA: The foundation is compiling a database of supercentenarians worldwide, detailing their family history, as well as blood and tissue information.

DR. STEPHEN COLES, SUPERCENTENARIAN RESEARCH FOUNDATION: So we can sample their tissues before they die and get an analysis of their DNA.

PLATIKA: That will give us insights into how they're living longer and how we can create products and interventions that would allow the rest of us to live longer.

GUPTA: So what does eventually cause supercentenarians to die? Dr. Stephen Coles has performed several autopsies. He says they die of a substance in their bodies called amaloid that builds up in the veins causing organ failure..

COLES: And then you have total system collapse.

GUPTA: Amaloid builds up in all of us, yet, we usually die of something else first. The supercentenarians, the substance doesn't seem to affect them until much later in life.

It could be years before the foundation uncovers the clues behind longevity. In the meantime, supercentenarians like Mrs. Baines are happy providing living proof.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: To get your daily dose of health news online, log on to our We bsite. You'll find the latest medical news -- there's a little picture of Sanjay -- a health library and information on diet and fitness. That address is CNN.com/health.

HARRIS: Another desperate search. Two top American climbers lost in the remote mountains of China. What's being done to find them? Find out next in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: OK. Just another reminder that at noon -- it's 11:44 eastern -- in about 15 minutes or so, we will be going back to Oregon for another news conference where we will get an update on the search for the two remaining missing climbers. That's at noon Eastern Time. We will watch those dramatic events unfold. Yesterday we saw the helicopters come in and the searchers as they made their way to continue the search. That news conference at noon today.

But a half a world away, there was another desperate search going on for two missing Americans.

CNN's Anderson Cooper has that story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Christine Boskoff is known among the world's top mountain climbers as a star, even though she didn't start until her late 20s.

DAVID C. JONES, FRIEND OF LOST CLIMBERS: Christine was unique in that she got started in climbing pretty late in life. But she picked it up with an extraordinary passion and started climbing peaks that few people ever make it to.

COOPER: She made it up Mt. Everest not once, but twice. She's tackled six of the 14 highest peaks in the world, peaks over 20,000 feet high, making her one of the top female mountaineers in the world.

SHANNON CALLIES, FRIEND AND FELLOW CLIMBER: Christine is just a phenomenal climber. She's so strong. She's got a lot of passion for the sport.

COOPER: So no one was surprised or worried when Boskoff announced her next adventure, a trip this fall to the peaks of China's Sichuan Province. She planned the trip with boyfriend, Charlie Fowler, a top mountaineer in his own right, with long experience climbing in China.

GINNY HICKS, SISTER OF CHARLIE FOWLER: Charlie's always had a fascination and love of big mountains and climbing and he's pursued his passion throughout his life.

COOPER: Friends say it was the challenge of climbing sensational peaks that no one in the world had tried that drew them to southwest China.

MARK GUNLOGSON, CLIMBED WITH BOSKOFF: And the peaks there, often you'd look on a map, they'd have no names, no elevations. And you can walk into these remote areas and pick a peak and climb it.

COOPER: On November 7, Boskoff sent an upbeat e-mail to other climbers. "I'm having a great time," she wrote, "and love the country and mountains and people here."

On November 8, she sent another e-mail, outlining their next climb. "Anyway, we have one last 2-week peak bagging excursion to the Genyen area," she wrote, "I'll be in Internet contact after that and headed back to the U.S."

But no emails came two weeks later on the eve of Thanksgiving. And friends and family began to worry when the couple missed their December 4 flight home.

JONES: The area is remote enough that it could be avalanche, it could be injury, it could be crevasse.

COOPER: Whatever happened, David Jones, a fellow climber and colleague of Boskoff's is determined to find out. He set up a makeshift search and rescue center at his office, filled with maps of the region, lists of contacts and Tibetan prayer flags for good luck.

He's reached out to the American embassy and the Chinese authorities for help, and joint rescue teams have been searching for about a week. But these are some of the toughest climbs in the world. And so far, no sign of the American couple.

The biggest obstacle, no one knows where the couple even began their climb.

JONES: We've got conflicting information. We're trying to reconcile those differences.

COOPER: Unlike Christine's last e-mail, pointing to the Genyen Massif, Charlie's last e-mail said, "Now off to one more different area to try a 6,000 peak." That area may be south of the Genyen Massif, in Nuyen (ph) Province.

As the search continues, friends and family stay hopeful.

JONES: I am hopeful with all my heart and prayers that she is still alive.

HICKS: If anybody can make it out of there, Christine and Charlie can.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: In custody, a second man arrested early this morning, suspected in all five prostitute murders in eastern England. Those women killed and left naked.

CNN's Alphonso Van Marsh joins us now live from Ipswich this morning.

Alphonso, good morning to you.

ALPHONSO VAN MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.

As you mentioned, it's the second significant development in little over 24 hours here. Suffolk Police announcing that about 12 hours ago, as you mentioned, they did arrest a second suspect on suspicion of the murder of these Ipswich-area women, as you mentioned. All of them known prostitutes.

Now police are not naming names. However, where I'm standing, you can see behind me, police have cordoned off the area. There are police officers down there. That's because this is believed to be the neighborhood where the second suspect lives. Earlier on today, we saw police investigators in their trademark forensic team of white jumpsuits combing this property, presumably looking for clues, clues in a neighborhood that's taken people living here by surprise. This neighborhood is a little bit more diverse than some of the others we've been to here in Ispwich. There are people here of Vietnamese descent, there are people here of Kurdish descent, people here of Turkish descent.

In fact, we talked to one person, a Kurdish man, who just moved here two days ago. Now it looks like he's living, quite literally, around the corner of what could be a murder scene -- or a crime scene, I should say.

You know, what's very, very interesting about these people coming from so many different places, is that they're united on one point, that this street right here, they say that there are prostitutes working these streets, that there is drug dealing on these streets, and they want an end to it. One last thing to mention to you is that we're expecting to hear from police that tomorrow an inquest could be opened for four of the five murder victims. Now an inquest is something that the coroner here orders whenever any death is considered suspicious.

COLLINS: All right, Alfonso, we know you'll be watching that for us. Thank you.

HARRIS: "Time's" person of the year, it's an honor we can all share.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're person of the year.

CROWD: Hi!

MOOS: You're person of the year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a good looking guy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, this is so cute. I look pretty here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Instant fame, straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: I want to remind you that we are awaiting a press conference from Hood River County. That's the Mt. Hood situation with two remaining and missing climbers. We will be hearing from Sheriff Joe Wampler, who we've been hearing from over the past couple of days, and also Captain Mike Braidish (ph). He is from the Oregon National Guard. He'll talk a little bit more about the logistics of the search and what kind of aircraft and searchers they will be using today as they continue to look for those two missing men.

HARRIS: So what do you have in common with Bill Clinton, Bono and a computer? Your own "Time."

Our Jeanne Moos spreads the news.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Person of the Year could have been this guy or this guy or this guy.

(on camera): But oh, no, this year's Person of the Year is me. And you. It's us!

(voice-over): And just to drive home the point, "Time's" cover features a Mylar screen that acts like fun house mirror.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do I look? Yes, I am the Man of the Year

MOOS (on camera): You're Person of the Year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALES: Hi!

MOOS: You're Person of the Year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a good looking guy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is so cute. I look pretty!

MUSIC: You are so beautiful...

MOOS (voice-over): Just based on the vanity factor alone, this should be a best selling issue. Polishes up everybody's image.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's me. They finally found out about me.

MOOS: But who is this "me" the editors of "Time" had in mind?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You, me, everyone. Everyone who is transforming the information age by creating and consuming content.

MOOS: That would be you, as in YouTube.

This is far from the first time that "Person of the Year" hasn't been an individual. The computer was Machine of the Year in 1982. G.I. Joe got it in 1950. In 1988, the entire endangered Earth was Planet of the Year.

And now that "You" has been picked, some of you think it's a wimpy cop-out not to actually pick a person.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's a cop-out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, lucky me...

MOOS: From the street to "the View", it provoked a view that got booed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you have put, like, a Hitler-type, like, you put Donald Rumsfeld there or something. Somebody's who's like...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: See the reaction?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes

MOOS: Web sites like gawker were snarky: "You can't be serious."

Those who posted comments were even more blunt: "I am so over You."

(on camera): You're Person of the Year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, no! UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The selection of me was a good one. I can't speak for everybody else.

MOOS: Do you think you deserve it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I deserve everything in life, yes.

MOOS: But don't you think you deserve to be "Person of the Year"?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

MOOS (voice-over): For that honest answer, we name her Person of the Year.

On YouTube, the dubious acceptance videos were already piling up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were chosen over Ahmadinejad and Kim Yong-Il (ph) -- Kim Jong-Il, whatever it is. That's just awesome.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm so excited about this. I really, really am. I'm psyched. Happy dance, happy dance.

MOOS: Tell that to Bossley (ph) here.

(on camera): Now what has Bossley done?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He has the nature of the Dalai Llama.

MOOS (voice-over): Border Terrier of the Year? Bossley.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: You are back in the NEWSROOM an hour from now. Kyra Phillips is here.

Hi, Kyra.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, guys.

Well, we've got a serious story and we've got kind of a fun story. Of course the serious one is the search area shrinks, but the fear factor ramps way up in the desperate search for those two missing climbers. we're going to continue to follow the story on Mt. Hood as rescuers venture into a rugged and avalanche-prone section of that mountain. We're going to talk live to one of Brian Hall's friends, who's gone to that mountain to wait for the news.

And then, something completely different, girls gone wild, pageant queen edition. But no crowning blow for Miss USA.

Is it Tara or Tara?

Tara Conner. All right, she's hot. She's gorgeous. she's hot. Instead of telling her you're fired, pageant co-owner Donald Trump gives her a second chance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TARA CONNER, MISS USA: And you'll never know how much I appreciate Mr. Trump for saving me on this one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Tony, not a dry eye in the NEWSROOM. Tears, rehab and redemption. That's what it's about on CNN NEWSROOM, coming up 1:00 Eastern.

HARRIS: We're all about that.

PHILLIPS: You had the line of the day, Tony. He's believes in second chances, Trump does, he's been married three times.

HARRIS: Come on.

Kyra an hour from now in the NEWSROOM.

PHILLIPS: See you soon.

COLLINS: We'll be watching, no question.

HARRIS: All right, we are standing by. In just a couple minutes we will take you back to Hood River, Oregon for the daily news conference. That's what it's turned into, Heidi, a daily news conference where we will get some kind of an update on the search effort to find the two missing climbers right now. Chris Lawrence is there for us.

And, Chris, it seems like we're running out of days. We're running out of area to search on the mountain. What are you expecting to hear today in terms of an update on the search?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I would expect to hear that they are perhaps narrowing the search, perhaps scaling down a bit. I can only contrast it to yesterday when there was a lot of activity. We saw, you know, 10, 12, 15 of the rescue climbers out here, gearing up, getting their stuff ready. We saw the Chinook unloading and loading stuff getting ready to go up. The Chinook's been quiet now, haven't seen rescue climbers out here. So it may be a quieter day than yesterday. Today expected to be really the last real, full push up on the mountain, because tomorrow we're expecting the bad weather to come in again, and that would curtail their efforts somewhat.

HARRIS: And, Chris, you talk about a narrow wing of the search area. Remind us, again, of the area that the searchers have actually sort of gone over with a fine tooth comb and what is left and how difficult that area that, search area actually is.

LAWRENCE: Well, it began last week when we were having that incredible storm that was there. What they did there, because they couldn't get up to the higher elevations, they started eliminating the areas at the lower elevation, so by the time the weather did clear, they were focused on that higher point. Once they got there and took a look, the point where they're at now is looking at the area where they found the two caves, you know, a few hundred feet from the summit, where they believe that they found the body of Kelly James, where they believe that area two climbers left his cave looking to go get help. They're looking at that area, and the area just below it, called the gullies. It's a very steep area, very sharp incline, and it's got a drop-off of about 2,500 feet. Not only that, but there has been a lot of avalanche activity in that area. So a lot of the tracks have been covered up by 10, 12 feet of snow. And because of that avalanche activity, it's too dangerous to actually set the ground crews down there. So they'll be eyeballing that area more so from the planes than actual ground crews.

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