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IndyMac Bank Goes Under; Tony Snow Dies; Free Flights May Not Be Free
Aired July 12, 2008 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Hi, Dan and Randi. You guys have a great day, today. Of course, folks are waking up this morning and fining out about what? A bank collapsing and certainly making them very worried about the money in their bank. A major player in the mortgage industry, California's IndyMac Bank has been driven out of business by the credit crisis and is now in the hands of federal regulators. And many of you are wondering what is going to happen to your money.
Regulators say it is the second largest bank failure in U.S. history and customers could lose up to a half billion dollars in uninsured deposits. So, how did it get to this point? Our Ali Velshi lays it all out.
ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): IndyMac Bank Corp. had been on the brink of collapse for months. In June, New York Senator Charles Schumer wrote the banking regulators saying, quote, "I am concerned that IndyMac's financial deterioration poses significant risks to both taxpayers and borrowers." Within days, customers closed accounts and withdrew $1.3 billion from the bank.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I guess I did panic just a little bit.
VELSHI: On Monday, IndyMac reported massive losses and warned of bigger ones to come. On Tuesday, the bank told its government regulators that it was "no longer well capitalized." It fired more than half its staff and said it was getting out of the mortgage business.
By Friday, investors had given up. With the stock closing at just 28 cents, the government moved in, seizing the bank and putting the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in charge.
IndyMac specialized in mortgages for people who provided little or no documentation of their income or assets. The idea was that the property financed is worth or will be worth enough that the borrowers' finances are less important, but as property values dropped, the borrowers defaulted and the bank lost money.
For IndyMac borrowers, the shut-down will have little impact; they'll still have to make their mortgage payments, but for people with bank accounts or individual retirement accounts at IndyMac, it's a different story.
Most bank accounts in the United States are automatically insured by the FDIC for up to $100,000. IRA's are insured for up to a $250,000.
DAVID BARR, FDIC SPOKESMAN: If you have less than $100,000, there's nothing to worry about. If you need access to your money, you know, use your checks, ATM or debit cards over the weekend. And come Monday morning, it will be business as usual.
VELSHI: But the FDIC says that up to 10,000 IndyMac customers have more than the insured amount with the bank. Those customers can claim the insured amount, plus half of the uninsured remainder. They may get more later depending on how much the FDIC gets when it sells the bank. The total loss to customers could be as much as half a billion dollars.
For now, people with IndyMac accounts can still get money out of ATMs, but they can't bank at a branch by phone or online until Monday morning.
WHITFIELD: Ali Velshi joining us now on the phone.
So, Ali, this is really unsettling. This is now the fifth bank in this country this year that has failed. What's next? Should we all be worried about our money in our banks?
VELSHI: And it's the largest one and in almost 24 years, so it is serious. But IndyMac had its own specific set of problems. Here's the bottom line. For people who have mortgages, it's relatively irrelevant if your mortgage company goes out of business. You will continue to have to pay your mortgage as is. People at Countrywide know that and Countrywide was on the brink of bankruptcy, it got bought out by Bank of America. Your mortgage still has to get paid. One day you will get a notice to pay it to somebody else.
Where you have money in a deposit account or an IRA that's what you have to be very careful about. You have to understand that your deposits are only insured to $100,000 per account, for institution, and it $250,000 for an IRA. So, you want to be very clear about that, check the FDIC Web site if you're not sure. As far as other banks failing there is a watch list that the FDIC keeps. Got about 90 names on it right now, we don't know what those names are, they don't release them because they don't want people taking out their money and making those banks fail. But the bottom line is, other banks could fail, they have failed in the last year, Fred, so...
WHITFIELD: Wow, 90 names on this watch list. But IndyMac was likely on it, right? Because wasn't it Senator Chuck Schumer who had warnings about this bank, not long ago, saying wait a minute we've got make sure this bank does not fail.
VELSHI: It was just a few weeks ago, IndyMac -- Chuck Schumer wrote a letter to regulators to say he's concerned that the banks might fail. He's concerned that the affects of the people withdrawing their money will be panicked will be disastrous for the bank and that's exactly what happen, people did withdraw their money. The fact is if you have $100,000 or less this is not even a process that you have to go through. If the bank fails the federal government gives you back your money, tit's immediate.
As I reported, for those people who had more than the insured limits in those accounts, there's a little bit of a problem there. In this case, they'll get half of the amount that was in exserves the insured amount. Just make sure in any of your banks that you're not keeping more than those amounts. Sometimes you get better interest rates for doing that. Spread your money out, just like when you invest. Diversify even where your savings are, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, interesting stuff, Ali. Thanks so much. That probably explains in part where they don't want to release those 90 names because folks will be -- all of those customers will be running to those banks and withdrawing all their funds, hence, possibly leading to another failure. All right, Ali Velshi, thanks so much, I appreciate it.
Well, Indymac's customers were caught off guard yesterday, Imagine that, when the banks shut its doors, just completely. Many, right now, are very anxious to get their money. Kara Finnstrom has been talking with nervous customers in Pasadena.
And you also saw that kind of run of all the customers to the bank to find out where's my money, how do I get it.
KARA FINNSTROM, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: A lot of customers yesterday showing up at this bank. Right now we've been seeing a trickle, folks waking up, some of them realizing for the first time that IndyMac has been seized and coming here with lots of questions. Now, those customers will not be able to perform any major bank activity until Monday when this bank reopens under the FDIC. What they will be able to do is take out some money through their bank or debit cards or also to write some checks, but the customers we spoke with say they have bigger concerns right now than getting some weekend cash.
RACHEL SACRAMENTO, BANK CUSTOMER: I saw all of the news you crews parked in the Ralph's parking lot and so I'm about to read the notice.
FINNSTROM (voice over): Rachel Sacramento just found out the bank that claimed, "you can count on us," wasn't so reliable after all.
SACRAMENTO: It is disconcerting that you believe that your bank is very strong.
FINNSTROM: Sacramento had watched IndyMac's financial struggles detailed on the news for weeks. She had acted.
SACRAMENTO: Investor panic, and so I decided to close my accounts and, but I did leave my checking account here.
FINNSTROM: Customer Alan Sands waited.
ALAN SANDS, BANK CUSTOMER: I have been thinking about doing this. I've been thinking about taking my money out and I'm just kind of kicking myself for not doing it earlier. FINNSTROM: Sands simply did not believe it would all lead to this, the federal government shutting down his bank.
SANDS: We have quite a bit of -- our funds, my wife and I and my mom. So, I knew the headquarters was down here, so I rushed down here and now they're closed, so I guess I have to wait until Monday.
FINNSTROM: FDIC officials say customers who have less than $100,000 in the bank, the majority of customers are fully insured and could have full access to their money on Monday, but if customers have savings of more than $100,000 in a single account the FDIC will only provide 50 percent of that money up front. It hope to make more payments as it sells off the bank's assets. So which customers could take the hit?
BARR: It runs the whole gambit. We had fairly young people, we had older people with their life savings here, there are there businesses, non-profit organizations.
FINNSTROM: Alan Sands thinks his mom may have saved more than is fully insured.
SANDS: My mom -- she's a little worried, she's, you know been around longer and has a little more saved up.
FINNSTROM: The fine print is especially confusing to customers like Jean Poulin who never heard the rumors of IndyMac's downfall.
JEANNE POULIN, BANK CUSTOMER: They wouldn't open the doors.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not even for you to give them money?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ma'am. Ma'am. Come here.
FINNSTROM: Poulin just came to make her house payment.
POULIN: Got to go.
FINNSTROM: She left, like so many others questioning, who can she trust with her money now?
FINNSTROM: And joining us live now is David Barr with the FDIC. He's out here again to try and answer some of these folk's questions. What kind of response have you all been getting overnight and this morning?
BARR: Well, yesterday during the toll-free number that we set up for the first six hours, we've received more than 9,000 calls. A lot of the customers just want to call to find out what happened, you know, is their money safe and we'd like to tell them that if you had less than $100,000 your money is completely safe, completely protected and it'll be business as usual for you.
FINNSTROM: What is going to happen next, for customers who may be wondering, what happens to my bank?
BARR: Well, when we reopen Monday, after we reopen Monday, we will begin the process of marketing this bank to try to get it back into the private sector. We expect that to take about 90 days, so sometime in the fall we expect a private bank on come in and take this off of our hands.
FINNSTROM: All right, thanks so much for joining us. Fredricka, we've seen a couple of people, this morning, coming up and actually grabbing the door, expecting it to open. Kind of gives you an idea that the folks just expected these banks to stick around, they didn't think they could go away.
WHITFIELD: Yeah, everyone thinks that, you know, especially on a Saturday morning when you finally want to get your weekend going and yikes what a rude awakening this weekend morning for them. All right, thanks you very much, Kara, I appreciate it.
So, I know this is certainly provoking the question, what should you do if anything? Well, for one, get informed, go to cnnmoney.com for a special report: "Inside the Mortgage Meltdown." And hopefully we'll guide you from there.
For a time his job was to represent the president of the United States to the public. Well today, President Bush is among those expressing their condolences over the death of former White House press secretary, Tony Snow.
WHITFIELD: Former White House press secretary, Tony Snow, has lost his battle with colon cancer. He died earlier today, he was just 53. A short while ago President Bush released this statement saying: "He brought wit, grace, and a great love of his country to his work. His colleagues will cherish memories of his energetic personality and relentless good humor. All of us here at the White House will miss Tony, as will the millions of Americans he inspired with is brave struggle against cancer."
That statement President Bush and we're joined right now by CNN White House correspondent, Ed Henry. You had the honor and pleasure of working with him while at the White House for a long time. And I know this really is a tough day for you, as well.
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It really is, Fred. I knew, as many reporters in town, as well as White House staffers, knew for months that Tony Snow was once again battling cancer. It was kept private out of respect for his family, frankly, because there was no need to really make a big deal out of it then we wanted him to have that time with his family, but it did make the news any easier when it finally came. Very earlier this morning I spoke by phone with his Dana Perino, his successor, as White House press secretary, she told me she was reeling from this. You mentioned the reaction from President Bush at Camp David. Just a little earlier, here on CNN, I had the honor of interviewing former President Bush who told me that he had talked by phone to his son, the current president, who's at Camp David this weekend, and he said his son was devastated.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GEORGE HW BUSH, FMR U.S. PRESIDENT: He, of course, is very stricken because he shares the same feeling of emotion about Tony that Barbara and I do and Laura feels the same way. So, in this case it isn't a press secretary, it isn't a speechwriter, he was a dear, valued friend that went on to heaven.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HENRY: Now, the former president has a phrase he's always used, "kinder, gentler" and I think that is an ap (ph) phrase to describe Tony Snow. I, and many reporters, had a lot of battles with him in that White House press briefing room, but he was, while tough, he was always fair, and when the cameras went off he talked about how what happened in the briefing room was business, but personal was separate and I think that's why so many people miss him already because they realize that he's someone who really had that personal touch.
TONY SNOW, FRM PRESS SECRETARY: And let me say back at you.
HENRY (voice over): On his final day at the podium, Tony Snow reflected on you how much he enjoyed serving as President Bush's press secretary.
SNOW: I love these briefings and I'm really going to miss them.
HENRY: A former broadcaster, Snow had an affinity for the media. His background with Fox News and as a conservative radio talk show host, prepped him for hand to hand combat.
SNOW: You're jumping topics, here. Well, let me finish -- let me finish the answer and then you can come back, OK?
HENRY: he was in his element, battling reporters in what quickly became known as the "Tony Snow Show," full of theatrics.
SNOW: All right, I give up.
HENRY: Ups and downs in Iraq dominated his time at podium with liberals pouncing on missteps such as when he was asked about bungled prewar planning.
SNOW: I'm not sure anything went wrong.
HENRY: But compared to his predecessor, Scott McClellan conservatives felt Snow was far more effective at delivering the president's message.
BUSH: It's been a joy to watch his spar with you.
HENRY: His tenure however was overshadowed by a bigger value, his valiant fight against cancer. When he started at the White House in the spring of 2006, Snow spoke movingly about his first bout with colon cancer.
SNOW: And I'll be personal here, but no, no, just having gone through this last year, and I said this to Chris Wallace, was the best thing that ever happened to me. It's my Ed Musky (ph) moment.
HENRY: Robert Anthony "Tony" Snow, grew up in Cincinnati. He was devastated when his mother, a nurse, died of colon cancer while he was in high school. He first made his mark as a conservative Editorial writer for various newspapers, cut his teeth in politics as a speechwriter for the first President Bush, then made the transition to broadcaster, first at CNN, later at Fox.
BUSH: Tony already knows most of you. And he's agreed to take the job anyway.
HENRY: But laughter slowed in March 2007, when Snow needed surgery to remove a growth in his stomach. It seemed routine at first, but then Snow called the White House with stunning news.
BUSH: He told me that when he went in and operated on him, they found cancer.
HENRY: Snow came back, but the strain was clear. He kept a positive attitude, playing with his band, "Beats Workin'," and sticking it out until September 2007, reveling in being part of a select few to hold this historic post.
SNOW: This job has been the most fun I've ever had. I'm sorry I have to leave it.
HENRY: He had to leave to make more money for his family. He was popular on the lecture circuit and had just returned to CNN as a contributor.
SNOW: Thank you, Larry. Good to be here.
HENRY: He leaves behind his wife Jill and three children. In his final days, Snow told those closest to him, he felt like he had been hoisted on the shoulders of friends, which helped him see life from a wonderful new perspective. Tony Snow was only 53.
And it's hard to watch those pictures. I remember standing there on the White House driveway when Tony Snow in his final day, what you were saying were about 300, 400 White House staffers who had gathered outside to give him a standing ovation as he walked to his car to drive away from the White House for the last time. And he was pumping his fists like that to say, you know, basically I feel it, I know you're behind me and I want to make it through this battle. And that's what makes today so painful. And one of the many people who knew Tony Snow well is Bill Bennett, a CNN contributor. Bill is joining us now by phone.
And Bill, you worked for the man we call "Bush 41," the former President Bush, and he had that phrase, "kinder, gentler" and I think it really applies well to Tony.
WILLIAM BENNETT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It does and let me tell you I've been watching you all morning and you've been doing a great job, very generous, generous and kind yourself despite the fact that he told you to zip it on a couple of occasions, right?
HENRY: True, that is true.
BENNETT: No, that back and forth, that play, really, I mean, he had the geniality of the world's great men. He was always genial, always up. He had a very positive attitude. What maybe hadn't been said enough about it was his total devotion to his family, his deep, religious faith. I think this is what got him -- partly got him through this thing in terms of keeping his attitude, but he had -- he had just -- he had just bounce, you know? He was just, each day, he seemed happy. When he had the job, you know what a tough job that was.
BENNETT: Defending stuff that didn't look, you know, all that defensible at that time. And he did a very, very good job. Believe me, he's much loved by those of us in this conservative tribe.
HENRY: Now you mentioned the briefing room was a tough environment, he came on in early 2006 when President Bush was really reeling at the time, the war in Iraq was not going well. Things have picked up, obviously, since then, but Tony had a very difficult hand to play and you mentioned the sparring.
I remember one time one of his deputies telling me, I ought to buy you guys some boxing gloves because you're always going at it. And Tony -- this was off camera -- threw his arm around me and said: No, what happens in there is business, you know, it's not personal. He really could separate that out. But you both also both share the fact that he was a conservative radio talk show host and he really used those skills he developed in the briefing room and sort of changed the press secretary job, brought it into a new century. Talk about that a little.
BENNETT: Well, I think he was very skillful. It wouldn't be appropriate to compare Tony with Scott McClellan, let's just put the two people together. They say the way to show a crooked stick is to show a straight stick next to it. Tony was, I think, just, well maybe almost was unparalleled in doing of his job. And I got to say this, Ed, I mean, great respect for the press, the job that you all do, but Tony regarded this as the fulfillment, working for his government, working in the White House for a president whom he admired and respected, in some ways that's a tougher job. You know, he was under fire, you know, that's a lot of smart people sitting in front of you throwing stuff at you. But again, he kept -- he kept his poise, he kept his balance, his buoyance (ph) and his optimism and I think did a terrific job.
HENRY: Bill, we really appreciate you joining us today to offer those thoughts. I think everything you said, especially about his devotion of family and faith, this death coming so close on the heels of Tim Russert's death where many people said similar things about him, that's what makes this one so difficult, Bill.
BENNETT: Well, your testimony is sometimes adversary, it's pretty eloquent, too. Ed, you're very welcome.
HENRY: Thanks much, Bill. And back to you in Fred in Atlanta. I mean, that is what we're hearing from friend and foe a like. As a fellow conservative in Bill Bennett, who had great respect for Tony Snow, but I can tell you a lot of people, not just me, a lot of people in the White House, press briefing room, that challenged Tony Snow, that's our job day in and day out, but they'd tell you the same thing, that he knew how to separate business, and what was personal and was very, very devoted to his family and that is what's so difficult of him being taken at such a young age -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: And he also seemed to really relish those challenges that you speak of. I mean, he clearly loved his job and had a great pep in his step about doing it every day -- Ed.
HENRY: He did and, you know, when he came into that job, as Bill was talking about, he had a very tough hand to play. We were hitting him every day about the situation on the ground in Iraq. He had -- it was a tough situation, the president was down in the polls. This was heading into the 2006 midterms where the president, by his own estimation, took a thumping and the Democrats took over, but he handled it with grace and humor and a lot of people here remember that as one of his many legacies -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: Well Ed, thanks so much. You got know him well as did our Rick Dibella, he's a senior CNN political producer for THE SITUATION ROOM. Well, he was a friend of Tony Snow and a senior producer for him back when they both worked at Fox News. He's with us now.
Rick, so, what was that like, you think, for Tony Snow, that you know you worked with him, alongside him as a journalist and then suddenly he became the face of the White House. What was that like for you to see your friend kind of in this juxtaposition and what was it like for him in that transition?
RICK DIBELLA, SNOW FRIEND AND COLLEAGUE: I think he relished the challenge. I think he saw his job as a way to communicating to the president -- for the president. And what he -- he understood the arguments as well as the people who are asking their questions and he had a job to convey his information in such a way that it translated to the people. For me to see that on television, when I saw him going back and forth with the likes of Ed Henry, it reminded me a little bit of our editorial meetings behind the scenes at "Fox News Sunday" when I use to produce for him, because he and I was get into it pretty good some esoteric topic about some policy. We'd go back and forth for a while and more than once he would say, "Rick, zip it" and that was the end of the conversation and we'd move on. But, his passion, his engagement on the issues could never be distinguished.
WHITFIELD: Yeah, and these are the things that would happen in an editorial meeting, which is why, in part, he was such a good fit for this position to be taking on a journalist. He kind of had a clear understanding of how they think and what kind of material they would need or in order to turn a story. He could anticipate, sometimes, a question.
DIBELLA: Yeah, he understood that, he understood that better than most because he had bon both sides of the aisle, both sides of the issue. And he knew exactly how far he could take a question when he was interviewing somebody and he knew exactly how far a reporter could take a question with him before he got crossed and sort of out of bounds.
But the thing about Tony that I want to underscore while I'm here, he's such a genuine guy. He was always there for you, and what you saw with him is what you got. You know, he was relish time, he was with his wife and kids. And you know a lot of folks in Washington, D.C. that do the cocktail circuit and all of that kind of stuff but Tony, when the job was over, he would go home, he'd be with his wife and kids and that was when he was the happiest. And I just hope they -- I hope they know what a -- what a -- how much an inspiration Tony was to everybody.
WHITFIELD: Well, that's a beautiful tribute to your friend, Tony Snow. Rick Dibella, thanks much for your time and your honesty about really painting a picture of who Tony Snow was as a private person, and as well as a very public person, indeed.
DIBELLA: Thanks for having me.
WHITFIELD: Thanks so much, Rick.
And we'll be right back with more of the NEWSROOM, right after this.
WHITFIELD: President Bush plans to travel to California next week to get a firsthand look at the destruction left by the state's numerous wildfires. Crews in Butte County have found a badly burned body in the ashes of one home, it's one of 50 houses that burned this week in the town Concow. The area was under a mandatory evacuation order, but some apparently chose to ignore it. The victim would be the first directly killed by those fires.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is what can happen if you don't listen to the sheriff's department, listen to Cal Fire, the other fire agencies. It's time to get out when we say it's time to get out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And tired firefighters are getting more help from overseas, actually. Australia, New Zealand, Greece, Canada and Mexico all sending in crews and equipment, soon.
And we're still watching Hurricane Bertha. It's expected to hit Bermuda with a glancing blow tonight, dumping about two inches of rain with tropical storm-like winds. This hour, Bertha is a couple hundred miles southeast of Bermuda. Top winds have dropped to 85 miles-an- hour and it's down from 120 miles-an-hour earlier in the week.
And Sherlock Holmes had to rely on his wits and his magnifying glass, but times have certainly changed. Our legal experts will talk about new technology and the law.
VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: Summer is considered to be the busiest season to travel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are now ready to begin our boarding process.
DE LA CRUZ: And that means overbooked flights. But when a gate agent offers you that voucher in exchange for your seat, you better know what you're getting into.
ERIK TORKELLS, BUDGET TRAVEL: There is such a thing as a free flight. But you have to read the fine print closely to make sure you don't lose it. For all airlines, be sure to check the expiration date. For most airlines, it's a book by date not a fly by date. Some U.S. airlines offer round trip tickets, while others offer credit toward future flights. Credit is better because you can split up the amount except on United.
DE LA CRUZ: Torkells also says that most airlines let you redeem your tickets online. Others will allow you to do so over the phone, by mail or at the airport.
WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back to the NEWSROOM.
A quick look at what's happening right now. Former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow died this morning after a long battle with colon cancer. Snow was just 53. President Bush says he and First Lady Laura Bush are deeply saddened by Snow's death. He said the Snow family has lost a beloved husband and father and America has lost a devoted public servant.
And the mortgage meltdown claims one of its largest corporate casualties. So far, the Federal Office of Thrift Supervision closed down California-based IndyMac Bank. It's operations are being transferred to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, FDIC as most of you know it. IndyMac's demise marks the second largest bank failure in U.S. history.
Well, thousands of IndyMac bank customers are obviously pretty nervous today and maybe mad, too. About 95 percent of the $19 billion in deposits in the bank are insured. But that leaves about $1 billion not covered by the FDIC guarantees. Customers who found their local IndyMac branch closed are quite worried.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN SANDS, BANNK CUSTOMER: It's a bit nerve-wracking and I just don't like -- it's going to be a long weekend. I just don't like feeling -- feeling like this. I can't wait for Monday to at least get some resolution. Some sort of -- I want to get my money out as soon as possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Yes, I bet he does. Well, the bank's 33 branches are closed, in fact for the weekend. But FDIC will reopen all of them, they say, on Monday, along with normal branch hours, online banking and phone banking services as well. A little bit of comfort for some of the customers.
All right, onto politics, Senator Barack Obama plans to visit Iraq later on this month, along with two of his Senate colleagues. Obama last visited Iraq two years ago. Sources familiar with the upcoming trip say Republican Senator Chuck Hagel and Democratic Senator Jack Reed will travel with Obama. The official Congressional delegation's visit to Iraq will happen around the time Obama begins a previously announced overseas trip.
Meantime, John McCain is keeping his focus at home for now, speaking to a mostly female audience in Wisconsin. McCain said his plans to cut income, business and estate taxes would help them. And he pointedly added that Obama's proposals would only create new economic obstacles for them.
John McCain prides himself on being a straight talker, but he was almost speechless this week when asked if he had voted in a Senate against a proposal to require insurance companies to cover contraceptive even though some do cover Viagra.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I don't know enough about it to give you a informed answer because I don't recall the vote. I passed thousands of votes in the Senate, but I will respond to this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Awkward, even pretty uncomfortable watching him try to answer that question.
So, joining us with more on this, CNN's senior political analyst Bill Schneider joining us from Washington. This had to be the moment where John McCain said can we just erase this day altogether?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, you think?
WHITFIELD: Oh, gosh.
SCHNEIDER: He was clearly uncomfortable. His response was that when he voted against requiring insurance to cover birth control or contraception, he said it was a personal matter best left to individuals not to the government. So, he was confronted with the issue. Then why are they covering Viagra, a personal matter, and not birth control or contraception. And he got a very puzzled answer.
Good question. I'd like to hear the answer. And we'll be waiting.
WHITFIELD: Yes, I mean -- and that question kept going on and on and he just was waiting for maybe someone to change the subject and it just didn't happen. But at some point, he does have to come clean, does he not? He's got to say something about it.
SCHNEIDER: Sure, he -- well, I assume he and his campaign will come up with an answer, but it is a puzzling question. Why are the insurance companies cover Viagra but they don't cover birth control. That seems to be a matter of basic inequity on two issues that are both the matter of personal choice, but for some people a matter that's far more important than that.
WHITFIELD: Yes, and let's talk about Barack Obama now and the new word flip-flopper, kind of new word in recent campaign, seems to be attached to him a lot lately and this over FISA, in what way and why?
SCHNEIDER: Well, because he supported a compromise that he said he thought was reasonable even though he didn't entirely agree with it, allowing the government to do warrantless wiretapping and giving immunity to some telecommunications companies for invasions of privacy that a lot of people find outrageous. And he supported the Bush administration on this. This has angered a lot of his supporters. Some of them are even threatening to withhold contributions.
There are now a series of issues on which he's backtracked a bit and angered a lot of his more progressive supporters, but I should add that the charge of flip-flop is really being laid at the feet of both candidates.
SCHNEIDER: Because both McCain and Barack Obama seem to be shifting position on issues. McCain, most conspicuously on the issue of offshore oil drilling, which he once deposed and now he supports. Both of them are being charged with flip-flopping. This often happens in a general election campaign. It was a very serious matter in 2004 ...
SCHNEIDER: ...when it was -- when John Kerry was accused of being a flip-flopper. Now, I think the issue may not be as hot as it was then because after eight years of George Bush, whose resolve seemed to transition into stubbornness, a little pragmatism, a little flexibility may be welcomed.
WHITFIELD: Gosh, but bottom line, flip-flopper still seems to be a dirty word, you know, that a lot of candidates want to avoid being named.
Meantime, let's talk about Tony Snow and his longtime battle with colon cancer. You know, he lost that battle early this morning and perhaps he may have become one of the most well-known, well-respected, maybe you know best embraced White House spokesperson of modern-day, you think?
SCHNEIDER: Yes, I do think so. He was -- you rarely heard a word of criticism and he of course did serve a president who was intensely controversial and divisive. Tony Snow was, at least in the media community here in Washington, he was regarded as -- as decent and honorable man in a very difficult job. There's a tremendous outpouring of grief and sympathy over his loss today here in Washington.
The only issue that sometimes came up was his transition from the news media to government. Seemed a little bit awkward. A lot of people think that's a barrier that people shouldn't cross quite so easily. A lot of people have done that going back and forth.
But as far as his doing his job and doing it honorably, he was always widely respected for that.
WHITFIELD: Wow. And you know, his public fight against cancer, I mean extraordinary and so courageous. Just some of the words that kind of comes to mind.
SCHNEIDER: It certainly was and it was very public.
WHITFIELD: Yes, it really was.
All right, Bill Schneider, thanks so much. Always good to see you. Have a great weekend. Tell your mother I said hello.
SCHNEIDER: I will.
WHITFIELD: I always like to ask because I know you always spend a lot of time with your mom on weekends and I love that.
All right, thanks a lot, Bill.
WHITFIELD: All right, well, two high-profile court cases, two that has kept a lot of people talking all this week and two very surprised endings. Our legal guys are ready to go. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WHITFIELD: All right, in the courts this week, two surprises, the parents of a murdered child beauty queen suddenly cleared after nearly 12 years. And Christie Brinkley's ugly divorce cut short out of court. What happened?
For answers, we turn to our legal guys. Avery Friedman is a civil rights attorney and law professor. Good to see you.
AVERY FRIEDMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Hi, welcome back.
WHITFIELD: Thank you so much.
FRIEDMAN: Good to see you too, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: Glad to be back with you guys. And Richard Herman is a New York criminal defense attorney and law professor. Good to see you, as well, Richard.
OK, Richard, let me begin with you. You can hear me, Richard, right?
RICHARD HERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I can hear you.
WHITFIELD: OK, good. Let me begin with you. You know, let's talk about the JonBenet Ramsey case and how this new DNA discovery can exonerate as well as provoke new suspicions after all of this time. How, why?
HERMAN: Well, it's a new type of DNA testing called Touch DNA which reveals invisible skin cells and once that was decoded by the district attorney's office, I tip my to Mary Lacey because I have not seen this done in 25 years where a district attorney has stood up and apologized for continuing to basically keep the Ramsey family as targets.
This -- Patricia -- Patsy Ramsey died as a target in this particular investigation. You know, fortunate the DA had enough courage to stand up, exonerate the family, say they're not involved. They now know there's an unidentified male DNA at the scene. That's who their target is, but 12 years down the road, Fred, this is going to be an extremely difficult case to prove.
WHITFIELD: Unbelievable, and Avery, my gosh, this family really went through it so many times over. But as we talk about now this potential suspect, this male, somewhere out there, how in the world do they now go from this discovery of the DNA to actually apprehending, finding this suspect?
FRIEDMAN: Well, that's actually -- that's a very big question, Fredricka. But the good news here is that because of Touch DNA, this refinement of the use to prove innocence, that evidence or that DNA information is going to go into a data bank. Sooner or later, they're going to get this guy, but the good news --
WHITFIELD: Meaning he would have to commit another crime? FRIEDMAN: -- the good news -- well, that's right, but the fact is that without that information, without that DNA, sooner or later that stuff is going to surface in the bank. More importantly I think for Mr. Ramsey, again, Patsy is gone. But the prosecutor indeed did the right thing. The DA, by writing that letter saying, you're innocent.
WHITFIELD: Wow, and so, when this case is closed, if this case is closed, OK, huge, extraordinary, but I wonder what this discovery and this type of technology and this Touch DNA, how this might impact other cases that have perhaps ...
FRIEDMAN: Oh yes.
WHITFIELD: ...I still have the veil of suspicion over it, cases that were -- that should have been dismissed but weren't, et cetera?
FRIEDMAN: 218 people have been found innocent as a result of this technology and more to come. And you know, the wonderful thing about this philosophically is that a lot of people have trust in guesswork, there's nothing like science and science will facilitate, making sure people are cleared when they're innocent. But get in the bad guys when they're guilty.
HERMAN: Carr was exonerated by this finding, too, so.
WHITFIELD: Yes, that's right. That's right.
FRIEDMAN: That's right, sure.
WHITFIELD: All right, even though he kind of injected himself from the whole thing. Why, we still don't know.
WHITFIELD: Hey, but let's move on to the other case that has a lot of jaw-dropping going on. This taking place in Long Island, beauty Christie Brinkley along with her husband, Peter Cook. I don't get this. How does this work? I mean, he was essentially caught red- handed, right?
WHITFIELD: And now, she's the one who's got to pay him $2.1 million for his transgressions?
FRIEDMAN: Yes, this is --
WHITFIELD: Huh, how does this work?
FRIEDMAN: This is how it works, bad guy uses custody of the kids to bang money out of the innocent wife and that's the way I look at it. The good news though is the judge kept everybody there until 6:15 in the morning. They finally got it worked out. I think justice prevailed. It should have never gone to court, but the court did the right thing in pressing the parties to get it done.
WHITFIELD: Really, justice prevails? That's the way you see it, too, Richard --
FRIEDMAN: Oh, yes, I absolutely think it was --
WHITFIELD: -- even though she's had to like, dig into her pockets for him?
HERMAN: Fred --
FRIEDMAN: It was a principle move. I think it was the right thing to do.
HERMAN: Fred, I don't think my esteemed colleague is watching the same case. This case was not about custody, because unless you're a train wreck like Britney Spears there's a presumption that --
WHITFIELD: There was no way homie was going to get custody, no way.
HERMAN: -- every mother gets presumed custody in the United States and ultimate decision-making in these cases. It was not about money because there was a prenuptial agreement signed by the parties ...
FRIEDMAN: Exactly right.
HERMAN: ...and made no contributions. This was about her revenge against him for cheating on her.
HERMAN: That's all this case was about.
HERMAN: She went public with it ...
HERMAN: ...to the complete and utter ...
WHITFIELD: So, you think she wanted to endure this kind of pain ...
FRIEDMAN: She never paid him for it.
WHITFIELD: ...and drag her kids through it too just to get back at him?
HERMAN: Yes, yes. Revenge, revenge. This was her fourth marriage.
FRIEDMAN: So what?
FRIEDMAN: So what? You're going to blame her because she's been married to four ...
WHITFIELD: But he's wronged her.
HERMAN: Those kids, those kids, all of the kids' friends, their families, everyone's going to know about this part.
WHITFIELD: Oh, but you guys, isn't New York very unique? Unique that New York as well as California have very interesting kind of avenues when it comes down to divorce law. It's not like everybody else, the other states, right, Richard?
HERMAN: It's broken. It's broken in New York. The system is broken.
WHITFIELD: Meaning you are going to pay, somebody is going to pay.
HERMAN: Now, the country could see how it's broken ...
FRIEDMAN: I don't agree, I don't agree.
HERMAN: Look, Fred, for 10 years, Christie Brinkley has been telling magazines and going on TV, he's the greatest father, the greatest person in the world. Now, when he cheated on her, all of a sudden, he's a bad father. He's horrible, he shouldn't have --
FRIEDMAN: Well, you want to know something, maybe that's why he is because he did cheat on her. Holy smokes.
HERMAN: Nothing to do with his parenting ...
WHITFIELD: You guys kill me.
HERMAN: Nothing to do with his ability as a father.
FRIEDMAN: That guy's out.
WHITFIELD: Oh, interesting. All right, well, we learned a lot even though some of us are still pretty outraged over all of this. That is blasphemous it seems to me.
FRIEDMAN: For sure.
WHITFIELD: Huh, all right, thanks so much ...
WHITFIELD: Yes, that's my word of the day.
FRIEDMAN: See you guys soon.
WHITFIELD: Avery, Richard, thanks so much. Good to see you guys.
HERMAN: Bye, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, well, something else that's going to be just so intriguing to you, everybody, we know it. Ali, King, Portier, you know those names. Well, now you're going to get know their daughters. A conversation with the daughters of these legends that you'll only see on CNN.
WHITFIELD: Five legendary African-American men and the daughters who are their legacy. CNN's Don Lemon joins us today.
You have spent weeks -- so good to see you on the weekend.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I know. How are you?
WHITFIELD: You have spent weeks, if not months, really, reaching out to these young ladies talking to them and they poured their heart out.
LEMON: Over a year, Fred.
LEMON: This is over a year in the making. And you're going to love it ...
LEMON: ...because I know you're a daughter of legacy. Few people know that.
LEMON: And we'll share -- why don't we share that little story after we finish this story, but ...
WHITFIELD: Yes, let's stay on focus.
LEMON: Let's stay on focus now. But I have to tell you, this story changed my life. It really did.
WHITFIELD: Did it?
WHITFIELD: That's huge.
LEMON: It's so powerful. It was huge and it's like a sneaker, you know, it's like one of those things that just sort of --
WHITFIELD: You didn't expect it to do that.
LEMON: -- didn't expect it. I didn't -- I knew it was a great project ...
WHITFIELD: Oh, I can't wait now. LEMON: ...but I didn't expect it and we've been talking about all these daughters of legacies ...
LEMON: ...with these huge last names, iconic last names. Ali, Cochran, Portier, King, Shabazz, they are the daughters of legacy and we're airing an hour-long portion of our conversation this weekend.
Take a look at part of it.
LEMON (voice-over): Daughters tend to idolize their fathers, that's one of the happier facts of life. In the Portier family, it's an understatement.
SHERRI POITIER, DAUGHTER OF SIDNEY POITIER: He is amazing when he speaks and we would ask certain questions, you know, where did the moon come from? Or why do we have stars? And he would literally answer every one of those questions and we would be in awe.
LEMON (on camera): What do you want people to know about your father?
TIFFANY COCHRAN, DAUGHTER OF JOHNNIE COCHRAN: He was a fighter. I've never seen anyone fight except for Muhammad Ali. He was a fighter because he fought brain cancer to the very end. When I think about him walking me down the aisle, he wasn't able to walk.
The tumor was -- it took away his ability to walk on one side of his leg was not operational, but he went to therapy three times a day before my wedding to regain the use of that side of his leg to walk me down the aisle for my wedding and it was just -- I'd never seen anyone work that hard for any one thing.
ATTALLAH SHABAZZ, DAUGHTER OF MALCOLM X: Many people don't know that I watched my father's funeral from her parents' master bedroom because in the chaos of such trauma, they helped my mother out, a young widow, pregnant, and a lot was on us.
LEMON: You don't have that many memories of your dad because you were so young when he died.
BERNICE KING, DAUGHTER OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: Well, there are a couple of things that I can share about my father. One, this great orator who was very charismatic and commanded his audience and many times when he had to speak, he would tell my mom, I don't have anything to say. I just don't know what I'm -- I don't know what to say to people and that's interesting because that's the same way I feel.
LEMON: That's a small part.
WHITFIELD: Oh my gosh, that's so incredibly moving. LEMON: Are you OK?
WHITFIELD: Yes. That really is very moving and it's just so nice to hear, I mean because it's really thoughtful.
WHITFIELD: And it seems like they're really pulling this from deep.
LEMON: I let them talk.
LEMON: And I was just -- you know, a camera and of course the microphone with the conduits, but I just let them have a conversation and so -- I'm going to almost cry, but this is an honor to women for me. And especially all women, but African-American women and for me it's an honor to my sisters and my mother who raised me and made me the person that I am.
And I hope that this comes out in this documentary that you're going to see, 6:00 and 11:00 tonight. I can't tell you ...
WHITFIELD: Oh, that's so nice.
LEMON: ...this is the best thing that I've ever done.
LEMON: And since you're a daughter of legacy too ...
LEMON: ...because you're dad is a famous track star. Went to the Olympics and people should know that you are taking him to the Olympics. It's coming full circle in just a few weeks.
WHITFIELD: Yes, yes, my dad is a '48 and '52 Olympian and it's just going to be so extraordinary because I am taking him -- well, he and I are going together to the Beijing Games and this is the 60th anniversary of his first gold medal and of course, he's going to be meeting up with a lot of his other former Olympians as well. It's just going to be so extraordinary. Just a great reunion. And I feel privileged to be able to witness that and to be along with him.
But anyway, but we'll be watching this evening.
LEMON: That's how I felt with that.
WHITFIELD: Because this is about your special this evening.
WHITFIELD: "Daughters of Legacy" which is so extraordinary.
LEMON: That's how -- exactly how I feel ... WHITFIELD: I can't wait to learn.
LEMON: ...with -- about these women. I'm honored to have met them and to sit in the room with them.
WHITFIELD: Yes, fantastic.
LEMON: Thank you, I hope everybody watches.
WHITFIELD: Oh, we loved it. Thanks so much and come on the weekends a little more often.
LEMON: I will, I'll come hang out with you.
WHITFIELD: Don't be shy.
LEMON: All right, I will.
WHITFIELD: All right, thanks, Don. Appreciate it.
OK, of course tonight, the "Daughters of Legacy." Do not miss this. Tonight 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 Eastern. And again tomorrow just in case you got plans tonight. You didn't set the TiVo or something, you get another shot at it tomorrow at 6:00 and 11:00.