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CNN NEWSROOM

Alex Rodriguez Admits to Steroid Use; Obama's Road Show; Whitney Houston's "Triumph?"; Chris Brown's No Show

Aired February 9, 2009 - 15:00   ET

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


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Couple things you need to know as we get ready on this newscast right now are the following. Harry Reid within the next couple hours is actually going to have a very important vote to test and see if there are enough Democrats and Republicans that are going to be going along with this stimulus package.

The other thing that's going on that we want you to know about is that there seem to be at least the undercurrents of a citizen revolt that's taking place in this country right now. In fact, we're going to show it to you. Let's get it started, Dan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Cutting to the change.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Folks here in Elkhart and all across America need help right now.

SANCHEZ: Now he's taking it to the people directly, President Obama on tour.

Angry Americans show up uninvited at the doorstep of CEOs. Did I mention unwelcomed, to which they say, tough.

Three big names in the news accused of cheating, the GOP's Michael Steele, the New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, and the far- right-wing's Ann Coulter. We will tell you what they're accused of.

WHITNEY HOUSTON, MUSICIAN: I knew I should have worn my boots.

SANCHEZ: The Internet buzzing about Whitney's appearance and about the pair who didn't appear.

And a senator who cheated on his wife with a prostitute is now being called out by a porn star.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Politics can't be any dirtier of a job than the one I'm already in.

SANCHEZ: Maybe dirtier? You tell us, as you join in our national conversation. This is participatory journalism, only on CNN right here, right now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: All right, here's what we want to establish as we begin this newscast. There's a lot of citizen anger out there that is all over America, but directed at whom?

First, we're going to show you some graphics that I want you to see. This is a poll that was requisitioned by CNN, as well as Opinion Research. Now, here's what you're going to see in these polls, how people feel about whom at this point, A, the president of the United States, B, the Democrats, and, C, the Republicans.

Let's start first with the president of the United States. This is the Barack Obama approval numbers as they stand right now. They're at 76 percent. OK. Let's go down the next rung. These are the Democrats. How do the Democrats in Congress stand with the American people? They're at 60 percent. Now let's go to the third rung, the Republicans in Congress. How do they stand with the American people? They are at 44 percent.

But the real action being taken against Americans is not so much at the politicians, but at some of the people who have been reaping the benefits of what's been going on, specifically the CEOs and on Wall Street, for example.

So, now there's a report I want you to see. It's been put together by Mark Raposki (ph). He's with News 12. This is essentially a citizens revolt against some of the wealthiest executives. They even dumped furniture on their front door. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Alex and Ann (ph) Alicea expected to find themselves on this kind of home tour.

ALEX ALICEA, PROTESTER: These are mansions compared to our home. I got laid off from work for about two months. I found another job. And my wife got laid off of work.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: That set the couple back two months on their mortgage, costing more than $24,000. He says he tried to work it out with his lender.

ALICEA: I feel like they have been taking me like a sucker.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Now he's sitting next to hundreds just like him, headed to the homes of big bank CEOs, who NACA CEO Bruce Marks says aren't helping keep homeowners out of foreclosure.

BRUCE MARKS, NEIGHBORHOOD ASSISTANCE CORPORATION OF AMERICA: We are here to say, we're personalizing it. We're not going to allow you to stop these modifications from happening.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: At Bill Frey's house on Glenvale (ph) Road in Greenwich, couches and living room furniture fill the front yard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Me as a person that has sued Bank of America to stop the modifications from going on.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: No one appeared to be home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, everybody. Come on. We're going.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: But a different story on the front steps of Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack's (INAUDIBLE) estate.

Pushing past police...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep the line going.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: ... may not get the Aliceas out of foreclosure, but now they feel they have been heard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have seen who we are now. They know who we are. That's right. They know who we are right now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: They have seen who we are. They know who we are. It's almost like, take a look at me. I'm your problem now.

Bruce Marks is a public advocate. He is one of the guys who has put this thing together.

Mr. Marks, thanks so much for being with us.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: What's the message here? What's the message you're trying to send?

MARKS: Well, look, we're doing the accountability campaign. We're holding these CEOs personally responsible for their actions.

And when you look at it, John Mack, he is the CEO of Morgan Stanley. He has a net worth of $400 million. We went to his home and to his private estates and we exposed his predatory lending practices, and, he owns Sachs and -- mortgage. And they have refused to provide long-term solutions to the homeowners. It's outrageous.

SANCHEZ: How did people react to you?

MARKS: Well, it's the work -- people want to go. People want to demonstrate. People want a voice out there to be heard.

And you know what? When we went there, we went to his wrong house. A neighbor said the house that you went to, while it's very nice, that was a servant's quarters. His neighbors said the house up on the hill, that's where he lives. And we went...

(LAUGHTER) SANCHEZ: So you ended up at what you thought was his house and actually that's where his servants live?

MARKS: Absolutely.

And then it was his neighbor who outed him who said, no, that's his house. And you go to that house, it's extravagant. It's the lap of luxury. He thinks that he can live there peacefully on a Sunday. Well, homeowners who are losing their home are going to his home. And not only that. If you go to our Web site at NACA.com, you can see him, his wife, his whole family. And the fact is, we have got to hold them personally accountable.

SANCHEZ: This is like the rise of the proletariat. We have seen this before historically, but certainly not recently in our country.

Hey, I have got to ask you, I keep looking at that. What's with the couch?

MARKS: Well, the couch is -- here's a guy, William Frey, he has -- he wants to stay out of the public eye.

He owns a hedge fund. And he has sued Bank of America to say stop the modifications, as if he doesn't have enough money. So, what we do is we took the couches and we said -- we got them, we dumped them on his front lawn. We said, this is to symbolize all the foreclosures that you're doing out there.

And we want to highlight that with him. And you know what? It's interesting. The Greenwich Police, you know what they said? First thing, they just -- they blocked the streets for us and they said -- one of the cops said, my sister lost a house. The other police person said, you know, I have got a predatory loan. Can you help me?

And, as we left, they gave us a thumbs up. The fact of the matter is, these CEOs, they can't hide, because our membership are the people who have access to all their personal information. We will expose them.

SANCHEZ: Let me ask you a question.

MARKS: Absolutely.

SANCHEZ: Is this the kind of thing that you think is going to get legs all over the country? Are we going to see -- are we going to be seeing more of this type of thing?

MARKS: Absolutely, because people are angry out there, Rick. And you know what? But we also have a solution for people. We have got virtually every servicer on board where what we did this weekend, we can do around the country for 3,000 homeowners, restructure their mortgages based on what they can afford.

So we counsel people for free. We determine a mortgage payment that they can afford based on their budget. And we reduce their interest rates to 5 percent, 4 percent and 3 percent and even reduce the outstanding principal, and lock that in for the whole term of the loan.

There is an answer for this. But to CEOs who say, no, we're going after them personally in a nonviolent, but aggressive manner.

SANCHEZ: Yes, but are they -- let me ask you a question. Are these guys really fair game? I mean, look, they're not public officials. These are private characters for the most part, right?

And it's not like -- you know, the Supreme Court says somebody's fair game when they -- quote -- "thrust" themselves into the vortex of a controversial situation. Have they done that?

MARKS: Oh, but by them being engaged, by them putting us in this crisis out there, they have made themselves fair game, and by them refusing to make these mortgages affordable, they're fair game.

SANCHEZ: Yes.

MARKS: And, remember, you know, while you have got Merrill Lynch out of business, Bear Stearns out of business, Lehman out of business, Countrywide out of business, not -- for all those executives who made hundreds of millions of dollars, we have not gotten back one dollar.

And when people see the lap of luxury that they live in and their arrogance, well, we should go to their homes. We're saying to everybody, this is not a one-shot deal. Keep going to their homes. Keep going to where they socialize until they do the right thing.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: And you know what? You did. Bruce Marks, public advocate, we thank you for sharing that story with us.

The information, we will continue to follow it.

MARKS: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: And, by the way, it's going over well. At least it is from the social media as far as we can tell.

Let's go to the Twitter board, as we wrap this thing up.

This is what Allison is saying. She's watching us now. She says: "Look, it's about time that the people have stopped being scared of those in power. This is democracy at work."

We will continue to follow it no matter what end it comes from. My thanks again to Mr. Marks.

President Obama might have thought that he was done campaigning, but not so fast. Now he's out on the stump for the stimulus bill.

And did you see Whitney Houston last night at the Grammys? Some call it a comeback. Others are calling it a bit of a mess. Your reaction has been amazing on this story about Whitney Houston. And it started, not here, not today, but last night. We will share. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: We were just talking just a little while ago about people in this country being upset about some sense of citizen anger that the folks are feeling out there.

There's something else that they're feeling. They're feeling a sense of frustration and not being able to get jobs, even though they are looking for those jobs.

Three pieces of video I want to share with you right now. Let's start with this one, if we can, Dan. This is Wrigley Field in Chicago. In Wrigley Field or just outside Wrigley Field, as you see in some of these pictures, they had a job fair. Hundreds of people lined up even before it began. It went around and around and around the block.

Same situation, let me take you to Qwest stadium. This is another job fair. This is in Seattle, obviously enough, and there you see the people waiting, no matter how long it takes, to be able to get in there.

And did you know that, in Georgia, they're starting up a new car plant? It's a Kia plant. It's starting in west Georgia. And the lines have been forming there as well.

Barack Obama knows that there is some anger out there. And, today, he tried to confront that anger. Going to do so again tonight at 8:00 with a news conference. The president is basically putting himself in a free-fire zone. He went to a town hall meeting today, where he tried to take some questions from people who were listening to him.

Patricia Murphy joining us from CitizenJanePolitics.com.

I guess if you're going to put yourself in a free-fire zone, you really have to understand just how angry people are and what they're angry about. Does he?

PATRICIA MURPHY, EDITOR, CITIZENJANEPOLITICS.COM: He does.

And he is trying right now to harness the anger and the fear out there among Americans about the economy. And he's trying to use that to sell the stimulus bill. And so, what he's saying when he had his speech today, he said I know that you are suffering. I know that you are afraid. If this bill is delayed any further, things will get worse.

So, he's using that anger and fear to his best advantage. He has really been a little bit losing the argument on the stimulus bill recently, so he's trying to get out, get away from the argument about whether there's a cloture vote, do you have 50, 53, or 60 votes. He wants to change that conversation entirely and say, I know you're hurting. I have a way to solve your problem.

SANCHEZ: It still seems like, if he's really going to connect with the average joe out there, he really needs to make it make sense to them. It can't sound like, whew, it's going over their heads.

Professor Jeffrey Miron is with Harvard. He's an economist.

Professor, let me just ask you. I know you're used to dealing with these issues from a very intellectual standpoint. Do you think that Barack Obama is making the average joe understand this sufficiently?

JEFFREY MIRON, ECONOMICS PROFESSOR, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: I would say he's not, and it's because it's a very messy issue.

In particular, I think they're trying to accomplish something which is close to impossible to accomplish. They're trying to resuscitate the banks without putting too much taxpayer money into it, although they're putting a lot into it, and without making the shareholders and the equity credit holders of these banks take the pain. So, they're trying to pull off something which is just not doable.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Yes. It sounds like you're saying the plan's not going to work. Is that what I'm hearing you say?

MIRON: I think it's unlikely to work in the same way that the previous one didn't.

In order to give them enough money that they would really be well-capitalized again would probably be trillions of dollars, not hundreds of billions.

Secondly, I think they're not lending because they don't perceive there to be good things to lend out there. It's in a recession, so they're not going to want to lend even if they were very well- capitalized. So, these attempts are probably not going to work very well.

SANCHEZ: Let me ask you a political question. And I'm going to turn this and ask this of Patricia Murphy as well.

Let me read what Richard Shelby says. He says this plan as it stands could lead to a disaster. Larry Summers essentially shot back saying, look, you guys made this problem. You have forfeited the right to complain about it, referring to the Republicans.

Professor, first you and then Patricia. Is he right?

MIRON: I think he's misstating the case.

The Republicans are not by themselves and certainly not the main ones that contributed to the problem. It's been generations of bad policies that have contributed to the problem. And several Democrats were crucial by fostering all of this subprime lending on the mortgage industry.

And I think, more importantly, the question's not who caused it, but whether these new proposals will fix it. And I think that there's extreme doubt as to whether they are going to be effective.

SANCHEZ: Are we going to see a lot more finger-pointing, Murph, or is this turn going to more of an appeal to the American people?

MURPHY: There will be nothing but finger-pointing from here on out on Capitol Hill. And that's why Barack Obama has removed himself from Capitol Hill.

He got a great deal of criticism last week that he wasn't out selling this package to the American people. He was in the East Wing of the White house. He was going up to Capitol Hill. He got really bogged down in a lot of the details of this.

Now he's getting away from Washington. He will be in Florida tomorrow. He is trying to sell this directly to the American people. And the finger-pointing will continue. But he is pointing his own finger at Washington and saying that they need to get this passed. That's really his message.

SANCHEZ: That's amazing what's going on with this thing, especially if you look at that triad of the different polls, the way different Americans see the problem and who they're blaming at this point for what.

My thanks to both of you.

Professor and Murph, my thanks to you as well.

MIRON: Thank you.

MURPHY: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Isn't that amazing? Take a look at this video. It almost sounds like a battlefield. This came in to us just a couple of hours ago. It's a spectacular fire. A hotel is going up in flames. Now, let me ask you a question. How's it possible that no one there realized that there was something wrong as they were taking this picture? They didn't know it.

And then later, we have an exclusive live interview with a woman who's taking on a U.S. senator, or planning to. He's famous for getting caught up in a prostitution ring. She is famous for being an adult entertainer. Some would call her a porn star. Is she trying to embarrass him? Most would say yes. I am going to ask her that question, live, on camera. Her name is Stormy Daniels -- the interview.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back.

There's a lot of moving parts to this newscast today, a lot of new information that we're going to be sharing with you in just a little bit.

But there's some incredible video as well that I want you to take a look at here. This is Beijing. You see this? Imagine you show up for a fireworks exhibit and the show is even bigger than you ever could have possibly imagined or expected.

You see the size of that glow there? I mean, look at how it's consumed the entire frame. You know why it's so huge? It's not a fireworks exhibit. That's actually a fire. But the guy who was taking the picture, he didn't know. These are I-Reporters. They have sent us this video. They actually thought this was part of a New Year's celebration there in Beijing.

And then they looked closely and they figured out it was the new Mandarin Oriental hotel that was on fire. You see from time to time the fireworks are going up on the right. In the middle of the screen, you actually see the hotel on fire.

There is good news about this story. It wasn't a towering inferno, because the hotel had not opened yet. So, as a result, there were no injuries.

But, in Australia, people are dying. And it's happening with them trapped in cars, trapped in their homes, because there's no way to get away. This is a bush fire. That's what they call them there. On the East Coast here in the United States, we call them brushfires. Out West, they call them wildfires. Well, there, they're bush fires, and they're fast.

Here's the problem. The fire is so fast, they can't outrun it, not even in a car. Some people say it exceeds up to 100 miles an hour when it gets moving because of the wind. So far, it's killed 800 -- killed 170 people and destroyed 800 homes.

And, no, it's not yet under control. We will be watching this for you. And as we get more information, we will be sharing it with you, and your comments on it. Apparently a lot of folks all over the world have been Twittering this fire.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez here in the world headquarters of CNN.

I want to show you now some video of a senator, a U.S. senator with a problem. This is back to 2007, not really too far along ago. This is Louisiana Senator David Vitter. He's -- you're going to see him here with his wife, Wendy. He had been caught up at the time in the D.C. madam prostitution scandal. And, here, he tries to own up to it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DAVID VITTER (R), LOUISIANA: I want to again offer my deep, sincere apologies to all those I have let down and disappointed with these actions from my past. I am completely responsible. And I'm so very, very sorry. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: And now I would like to introduce you to somebody who may be taking the senator on. She is considering the possibility. Some would say there's a whole lot of people who want her to do just that. This is Stormy Daniels. She's joining us now.

Stormy, thanks so much for being with us.

STORMY DANIELS, ADULT ENTERTAINER: Thank you for having me.

SANCHEZ: You are referred to by some as an adult entertainer. Some of the news stories are saying you're a porn star. How would you describe yourself?

DANIELS: All of the above, exotic dancer, porn star, adult film director, Wicked Pictures contract star. Whatever you want to call me is fine with me.

SANCHEZ: Have you been recruited to run against David Vitter?

DANIELS: I have. This is not something that I asked for. Apparently, I'm being drafted.

SANCHEZ: By whom?

DANIELS: A group of politicians -- I'm sorry -- a political group down in Louisiana.

SANCHEZ: Are they doing this to embarrass him?

DANIELS: Perhaps. I'm not really sure.

These are people that I have not met, was not affiliated with before this happened. But I don't see how I could possibly embarrass him more than he's already embarrassed himself.

SANCHEZ: You know, I guess, to be fair, because we understand the Democrats have put out a statement saying, look, they're not the ones behind this. This is not coming from the Democratic Party officially.

Do you know otherwise?

DANIELS: As far as I know, this is not the Democratic Party. It's a grassroots movement, independent, although, once again, I'm not really sure who it is.

SANCHEZ: OK. You're a porn star, and you're taking on a senator who has been caught in a very scandalous prostitution story. Is there a direct link there?

DANIELS: No, there's not a direct link. I have never met David Vitter or the madam that he's associated with. So, if that's the question, then no.

SANCHEZ: No, I don't necessarily mean that. But I appreciate you tackling that. The fact that...

(LAUGHTER)

DANIELS: Oh, I would like to tackle him, all right.

(LAUGHTER)

SANCHEZ: The fact that you are a porn star, it's almost as if people are recruiting you because of your background and going up against him because of his background.

DANIELS: This could be true. There is a -- a relation there.

I guess the biggest difference is, I'm open with my sexual activities. And I might be a porn star, but I haven't done anything illegal. And I guess the big question is not just why is David Vitter in office, but why is he not in jail?

SANCHEZ: That's a good question.

Governor Spitzer lasted about a cup of coffee after his scandal broke. And he was out of there. And yet some would wonder why David Vitter is still in office. Yet, he did, to his credit, come clean and talk about it. His wife was at his side. What's your take?

(CROSSTALK)

DANIELS: I think that he's setting a horrible example. He preached family values and this and that. And not only did he go against everything that he preached and everything he believed in, he broke the law.

And, apparently, there's a lot of people in Louisiana and across the nation, actually, that are not happy with that because, if they think that I'm a better choice, what does that say?

SANCHEZ: Well, let me ask you.

This thing could get serious for you. People are drafting you. They might get behind you. Are you prepared to actually make a serious political run for this office? Do you have the background for something like this? What do you know about politics, for example?

DANIELS: Honestly speaking, not very much.

I follow politics. I haven't had any sort of formal training whatsoever. Am I prepared to take on the challenge? Absolutely. I think anyone that knows me knows I'm always up for a good fight.

But the biggest difference -- I mean, the biggest thing is, honestly, I'm not sure if I'm willing to take the pay cut that comes with being a senator. I'm kind of happy with what I do. I think taking tips on stage might translate to taking bribes if I was in office.

SNOW: Did you say -- you said -- you did say pay cut, right? DANIELS: Right. Everybody knows the adult industry is pretty lucrative. And I think I'm pretty happy.

But I haven't made my final decision yet. If I'm called to duty, I guess it's, you know, my duty to step up.

SANCHEZ: You will report to duty?

DANIELS: Absolutely.

SANCHEZ: As called.

Stormy Daniels, our thanks to you for taking time to take us through this today, a story that a lot of people have been talking about and no doubt will be talking about after this interview.

DANIELS: Thank you very much.

SANCHEZ: You have been wanting someone from the Obama administration to help you understand what they're doing. There he is. They're sending us someone today to the rescue. I guess the cavalry has arrived. You got it.

That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back.

We have a follow-up I want to share with you now.

Do you remember last week on this newscast -- and then it caught fire, by the way, after this newscast -- I showed you really a literal scolding that was being given by New York Congressman Gary Ackerman to the woman who is in charge of enforcement at the SEC, the Securities and Exchange Commission. And many of you Twittered and wrote to us and talked about this story.

As a result, she looked frightened, she looked scared. She looked like she really took a beating from him. In fact, look, there's the picture right there.

Do you remember that?

Well, look at this. This is information we've just gotten in right now. In fact, I'll read it to you: "The Securities and Exchange Commission has announced today that Linda Chatman Thomsen, the director of the Division of Enforcement for the SEC, plans to return to the private sector."

So she is she's up and leaving the SEC.

Is there a direct correlation between that and the literal tongue-lashing that she got last week from the New York congressman?

We don't know. But obviously, we'll continue to follow that story. We thought we'd bring that to your attention.

Joining us now is Jared Bernstein.

He is the vice president's chief economist.

He joins us now to give us a perspective on what the administration is facing right now, what they need to do and what they're going to try to do.

Mr. Bernstein, it's very nice of you to join us, sir.

We appreciate it.

JARED BERNSTEIN, BIDEN ECONOMIC POLICY ADVISER: My pleasure.

It's nice to get outside for a couple of minutes.

SANCHEZ: Yes. You. And the president, by the way.

The stimulus package, in and of itself, is being referred to this way by Americans. In fact, we just recently took a poll here at CNN and here's what we found. I think we can put that, up if you've got it, Dan.

Fifty-five percent of the American people are saying it's too much money. Thirteen -- only 13, I should say, it's not enough money. And about 30 percent say it's about the right amount of money.

You like those numbers?

BERNSTEIN: Well, I think that poll is slightly misrepresentative of some of the other polls I've seen, that show majorities of the American public, A, behind the stimulus package, and, B -- and I guess this is, to my mind, more important -- really understanding the need for the urgency for us to get to work and get this economy humming again, especially on the jobs front.

Folks know better than any economist or newscaster -- folks know that this economy has shed jobs at a really alarming rate. We're looking at an unemployment rate that's 7.6 percent in the nation, but where the president was today, high double digits.

And so that's really the urgency that's lighting the fire underneath our efforts here.

SANCHEZ: Let me ask you a question about connecting with the American people. And there we see the president today trying to do just that. He went to Elkhart, Indiana. He's going to be holding a news conference today.

Because you've got two things going on, Mr. Bernstein. You have the TARP program and then you have the economic stimulus program. One gives money to bankers and CEOs -- who Americans, by the way, tell us every single day they don't like that part of the plan. And then the other one is trying to generate some stimulus to the American economy.

Do you have a problem with the former vis-a-vis the latter, if you know what I mean?

BERNSTEIN: Yes. I know what you mean. And I certainly understand the sentiments around the financial package. But really, from an economic standpoint, it's pretty straightforward. And the president and the vice president are going to be out there. And they're excellent communicators on these points.

The two go hand in hand.

Here's the way I look at it. With the stimulus, you get the heart of the economy beating again. And that's critically important to get this patient back up and running. But once you get the heart beating, you've got to get the blood flowing through the veins.

I mean, let's face it, the veins of American credit lines are corroded a little bit with some junk food in terms of bad debt that we've been consuming for the past decade or so.

SANCHEZ: That's fair.

BERNSTEIN: So once we -- once we get that stimulus working, pumping the economic activity through the system and the lines of credit are cleared out, I'm confident that that one-two punch is going to be really -- really quite effective.

SANCHEZ: Give us an explanation. You have the White House there as a backdrop. You represent the presidency, if not the vice president of the United States. So we can say here's a guy who speaks for them.

And now let me try and be the guy who speaks for the American people, because this is what they're saying to me every day. I mean, you know, 50,000 people on Twitter and MySpace and Facebook. And this is a question they ultimately always ask -- why are you guys giving the money to the people at the top and not directly giving us the money?

Why are you doing trickle-down rather than trickle up?

Hammer away at that.

BERNSTEIN: Well, you see, the stimulus package is eight -- it may end up being somewhere in the $800 billion range. That's certainly the magnitude of the plans in the House and Senate. And there's no way you could characterize that as trickle-down economics.

We have a tax cut in there the "Making Work Pay" Tax Cut -- a signature issue of President Obama -- that delivers tax relief to 95 percent of working Americans. We have jobs for folks right there in the middle of the income scale -- construction jobs, roads, school weatherization. You know, these are -- these are the kinds of economic activities that are lacking in the economy that we're trying to generate through this package.

SANCHEZ: Well, how are you going to...

BERNSTEIN: And it's not trickle-down by any stretch of the imagination.

SANCHEZ: No, listen -- and I get that. And I think you make a sound argument.

But how are you going to get the American people to get that?

Because I can tell you right now, if you were to go out and ask the average American what's going on, are you happy with this plan, they'd say, you know, the problem I've got with it I is they're giving too many of those fat cats who created the problem in the first place too much of the money.

BERNSTEIN: Again -- again...

SANCHEZ: How do you change that mentality?

BERNSTEIN: Again, Rick, my read of the polls is that if you're talking about a recovery package, the American people are closer to the kinds of explanations I'm sharing with you right now than maybe you think.

For example, if I -- if I look at one of the polls today, 67 percent of the respondents said they -- they actually are behind the way Obama is talking about this plan.

And so remember, this is not really rocket science. If you let a federal contract to weatherize a school, to weatherize a home, to fix a road or a bridge, to actually make that school that you've been driving by every day that needs some work -- to improve that, you know, I think folks will get that.

I think it's part of our responsibility to explain it to them, just like I'm trying to do right now.

SANCHEZ: Exactly. You represent the administration very well, Mr. Bernstein.

BERNSTEIN: I thank you.

SANCHEZ: It's been great to have you on. And, obviously, maybe we'll get a chance to do this again, as we continue on this process.

BERNSTEIN: I hope so.

It's a nice dalliance. I'm happy to come out and talk to you.

SANCHEZ: All right. I appreciate it.

Thanks again.

Jared Bernstein, the vice president's chief economist.

And now this -- Ann Coulter, Michael Steele A-Rod -- what do they all have in common on this day?

All being accused of cheating outright. We've got all their stories.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: All right. You caught me. Look, I -- I've never done an interview with a porn star before -- at least not in my long career. So a lot of you are making comments about the last couple of stories that we just did here.

Whoooo.

Let's go over here to Facebook, if we can. Monty is watching. He says: "Rick, that was the longest display of blushing in the history of television. LOL."

And Christina says: "Rick, did I see you blush during your interview with Stormy?"

Maybe you did, gang. Maybe you did.

Oh, by the way, let's go over to our Twitter board, by the way. Comments are coming in right away, as well. This is having to do with our interview with the gentleman at the White House, who says -- Mr. Bernstein: "I'm not buying it, Rick. Wow! The trickle-down and trickle up question, awesome. Why can't the fat cats in Washington just shut up before we remove them and make Obama our dictator for a while?"

Wow!

OK, swiftjetsum626 has a very interesting opinion on that.

We thank you for sharing.

Something else to take note of today. Let me begin with some examples from Web sites of how to define the word cheat.

Are you ready?

This is what Webster said when I looked it up this afternoon: "To influence by deceit, to trick, to violate rules dishonestly."

Here now are three people accused -- mind you -- of doing this today.

First, Ann Coulter -- "The New York Daily News" that says she's under investigation by the State of Connecticut for breaking election laws. The allegation is that she lived in New York, but voted in Connecticut. It's not the first time that she's been accused of voter fraud. She was investigated in Florida in 2006. And she was cleared, to be fair.

Her take?

Well, she calls her accusers on this one "stalkers."

Now, let me take you to Michael Steele. He is the brand new chairman of the Republican Party, but he's being already accused of campaign malfeasance. The accusation, that he paid his sister's company $37,000 in 2006 for work that was never done. The accusation comes from a pretty good source -- his campaign finance chairman -- who gave police the goods to try and avoid prison time for himself in an unrelated case.

Now, Steele admits the payments were made -- says, in fact, he had to make them or else he would have been breaking campaign finance laws. It's complicated, he explains. We'll keep an eye on it for you and be fair to Mr. Steele.

And then, finally, there's Alex Rodriguez. He is the highest paid player in all of baseball -- a three time MVP. Now, ESPN has reported that he has admitted using performance enhancing drugs for three years, starting in 2001 and into 2003, the year that he was the most valuable player in baseball.

Here's a quote, by the way, that may apply to all of the above, as we follow these stories. Ken Hubbard (ph) wrote: "Honesty pays, but it doesn't seem to pay enough to suit some people."

What do you think?

You can tell me, by the way, on the air or at my blog, at CNN.com/ricksanchez.

And I'll be talking more about A-Rod in just a couple of minutes.

In fact, we've just booked -- invited -- yes, we got it booked, right?

We booked "Sports Illustrated's" Jon Wertheim, who has written the story. He has new information about A-Rod that we're going to be sharing with you right here on CNN.

Stay with us.

We'll be right back,

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "31ST GRAMMY AWARDS," COURTESY CBS)

WHITNEY HOUSTON: Thank you so much.

Thanks, Bono.

I knew I should have worn my boots.

Now, before I open the envelope, I want to acknowledge the man who last night was honored with the Recording Academy's Industry Icon Award -- a man I consider to be my industry father, a visionary executive, a great man of music. Please, Mr. Clive Davis.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: All right. Welcome back. I want to cut to the chase on this one.

I'm Rick Sanchez.

HLN has a show called "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT." Brooke Anderson hosts it -- or co-hosts it. It's on at 11 00 p.m. There's the smiling face. I've got to bring you into this conversation, because here's what's going on.

If you watch most of the news -- or many of the news reports on this today, including on our own network -- it's being described by many as a comeback by Whitney Houston.

And yet when I go on the Internet, when I go on Twitter, when I go on Facebook, when I go on MySpace, all I read is people believed -- watching her last night, the American people believe she was a wreck, that she was a mess while she was talking.

BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Oh.

SANCHEZ: All right?

In fact, here. I'll give you some examples.

Let's go to DJMerritt on my Twitter board right here: "That was a comeback? To quote Whitney, hellz to tha no.'"

(LAUGHTER)

SANCHEZ: MakeWavesBonnie says: "She could have looked better, but I was glad just to see her up there."

ANDERSON: Yes.

SANCHEZ: "MSM=clueless. But let's not trash Whitney for that."

OK: "Whitney looked nice. Her words did seem to slur a little bit, but it was good to see her. She looked good. But as soon as she opened her mouth, you knew things haven't changed for her."

All right, what -- what gives?

What's the real buzz?

ANDERSON: Well, Rick, she did seem to ramble a bit. But I think we need to give her the benefit of the doubt. I think -- I think some of it was off-the-cuff, it wasn't scripted, it wasn't on the teleprompter for her and she lost her way a little bit.

But I agree with the person who said just glad to see her up there. And the night before she had performed at music mogul Clive Davis' pre-Grammy party and the people who were there raved about what she did, Rick.

They said that she may not be what she used to be, but she's close. She could be getting there. And people are optimistic for a big future for Whitney Houston.

SANCHEZ: All right. Well, you're giving her the benefit of the doubt. Folks on the Internet are being not so nice about it.

There's something else I want to show you. This is also, by the way, a Grammys-related story.

Last night, Chris Brown apparently was supposed to be there.

ANDERSON: Yes.

SANCHEZ: He didn't show up. Instead, had an incident with police.

And here's -- there's Rihanna, right?

Now, if you look at Rihanna, she didn't show up either. And some people are putting two and two together.

Any evidence yet that she may have been related to his police incident?

ANDERSON: Yes. In fact, we do have that. Police -- OK, Chris Brown is under investigation on an allegation of domestic abuse. We were at the Grammys. We got word he wasn't going to show up -- a double nominee, a performer.

And then we got word from the Recording Academy that his girlfriend, Rihanna, wasn't going to show up, either.

The LAPD tells us, yes, there was an incident just hours after the party we were seeing video from -- Clive Davis' party. About 12:30 a.m. Sunday morning, Chris and a woman were in a car, had an argument, got out of the car. It escalated. Police received a 911 call.

When they arrived, Chris Brown had taken off. And the woman showed visible injuries and identified Chris Brown as her attacker.

Now, authorities are not naming Rihanna as the alleged victim. But sources close to the couple tell us that, indeed, Rihanna was the one who was allegedly abused here.

SANCHEZ: Wow!

ANDERSON: It's very, very sad, especially because Chris Brown is known as squeaky clean, a nice kid, 19 years old.

SANCHEZ: And great timing, by the way...

ANDERSON: Oh, terrible timing.

SANCHEZ: I mean with the Grammys. I mean, you knew it was going to be in the news.

Thanks so much.

Brooke Anderson. Tonight at 11:00 p.m. On HLN, "SHOW BIZ TONIGHT".

Here's another story everybody is talking about -- and especially in New York -- but, heck, anybody who follows sports or particularly baseball. Another steroid scandal claiming a baseball player -- this time, the highest paid of them all. It's A-Rod, Alex Rodriguez. And we -- just five minutes before we went on the air, we were told that he's now admitted it, according to "Sports Illustrated" and ESPN. So we're going to talk to one of those writers when we come back.

Stay with us.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Fifty-three minutes past the hour.

Let's check in with Wolf Blitzer and see what he's got coming up for us on "THE SITUATION ROOM" -- Wolf, you're in New York today, huh?

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": In New York.

A lot's coming up right at the top of the hour, Rick.

A day of presidential firsts -- President Obama travels out for his first campaign-style sales pitch to pitch the economic plan. And we're awaiting his first news conference. We're going to carry that live.

We're also in Indiana, where the president made his case today.

When an economic plan is passed, how soon might you feel the benefits?

I'll ask Lawrence Summers. He's the head of the White House Economic Council.

And a key Democrat wants the truth. He wants a wide-ranging investigation into alleged wrongdoings during the Bush administration. All that and a lot more, Rick, coming up right here in "THE SITUATION ROOM".

SANCHEZ: Wolf Blitzer, thanks so much.

We'll look forward to it.

"Sports Illustrated" broke the story that, in fact, in 2003, A- Rod had -- according to reports -- used steroids. This, after he denied it throughout most of his career.

Now, even more information. ESPN is now reporting that they have gotten an interview with A-Rod where he admits to taking steroids. This will be a big story in the sports world. And certainly, it goes beyond that, as well.

Joining us now is Jon Wertheim with "Sports Illustrated" to bring us up to date on this.

Jon, what do you know?

JON WERTHEIM, "SPORTS ILLUSTRATED": Well, you -- you pretty much hit it. Two of my colleagues broke this weekend that A-Rod had tested positive for steroids several years ago. Part of this is a terrific player, the highest paid player in baseball. But, also, this is a guy who goes on "60 Minutes" and explicitly denies steroid used. And now it seems that he's confirming the report and confirming that several years ago he did use steroids.

So this is...

SANCHEZ: How j

WERTHEIM: ...this is really a tremendous story.

SANCHEZ: How do you succeed in baseball if you don't use steroids?

If it seems now, if you add his name to the list, that just about every superstar does?

WERTHEIM: Yes. No, I mean, I think that's part of this story, that I think we now -- you just assume athletes in baseball from a certain era were using performance enhancing drugs...

SANCHEZ: Yes.

WERTHEIM: ...and, really, this was one of the last holdouts. This was the squeaky clean guy, meticulous about his image, who explicitly denied this. Now -- now he's another domino to fall. And I think you just make the assumption now, anyone from a certain era -- sadly enough, you just work on the assumption that it was performance enhanced.

SANCHEZ: You know, I mean, obviously, people are going to look at these players and say, look, you messed up.

But isn't it really more important for Major League baseball to come out and say we messed up -- we not only condoned this, we were setting up an atmosphere where if they didn't do it, they'd be fools -- or they'd make no money or not have jobs?

WERTHEIM: That's a big part of the story, the whole marketing of these feats where you knew, statistically, they were wildly improbable and everybody turned a blind eye. I mean, I think when we rewrite this -- this chapter, it's going to go a lot further than individual culpability for the ball players.

In this case of A-Rod, there's now stories...

SANCHEZ: Yes.

WERTHEIM: ...that they were tipped off to a test. So this really is a cultural thing, not necessarily specific to the individual players.

SANCHEZ: I think you're right. I think that's why we're doing this. There's a bigger story out there. And it has a lot to do with not just sports, but, you know, just cheating in our society in general.

And we thank you, Jon Wertheim, from "Sports Illustrated," for bringing us up to date on this.

WERTHEIM: Thanks.

Thank you.

SANCHEZ: You know, we all watch a lot of television around here, most of it serious. But some of it is not. The Fix -- you decide. We'll share good stuff with you when we come back, especially from this weekend.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Did you see "Saturday Night Live" this weekend?

Hilarious.

Here's The Fix.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE," COURTESY SNL/BROADWAY VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He teaches ladies how to walk like a supermodel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, look out, Hoko (ph). He's cute. Hoda say me saw hoho (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Noshenote (ph).

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, please welcome Mr. Beak (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you need to do is you just need to walk like -- like your panties are filled with hot grits.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Scratch (INAUDIBLE). You need to work it. You need to twerk it. You need to frig it. And you need to tweak it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tweak it. Now (INAUDIBLE), Hoda.

Hoda Cutlin (ph), everyone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. OK, girls. All right, look...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes. No. All right. Just shake your butt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shake your butt like you're just -- like you're just -- like you're trying to make (INAUDIBLE)...

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oops. Oh, oops.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hoda's down. We've got a ho down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, James, talk us through the play.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Talk you through it?

Can't you just -- excuse me?

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can't you just show the tape?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I mean, I think people want to know what you were thinking during the play.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was mostly thinking oh God, no.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody tackle me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Phelps apologized Sunday after pictures were printed of him smoking marijuana from a bong last fall -- though suddenly the Michael Phelps diet makes a lot more sense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: That's interesting.

"SNL" seemed like it was in repose for a long time, if not in a coma. Lately, I'll tell you, they are back.

A lot of your comments have been coming in throughout the day, as well.

And one of them says: "You know, Whitney will always be Whitney, the diva. It was great to see. And trust me, looking better than in the past."

So there you go. One good one for Whitney. Let's go to Wolf Blitzer now.

Here he is with "THE SITUATION ROOM".

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Rick.