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Taliban Releases Video of Captured U.S. Soldier Missing Since June 30; Remembering Walter Cronkite; Giant Squids Invade Waters Off San Diego
Aired July 19, 2009 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: A captured U.S. soldier turns up on a Taliban video. We'll hear his words.
And new presidential poll numbers. Is the honeymoon over?
And forget about those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. Why some kids are going to school year-round.
Hello, everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield and you're in the CNN NEWSROOM.
A U.S. soldier missing in Afghanistan since June 30th has turned up as a captive on a Taliban video. He is 23-year-old Bowe Bergdahl of the tiny mountain town of Ketchum, Idaho. The video shows a bearded, emotional soldier turned Taliban prisoner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOWE BERGDAHL, CAPTURE U.S. SOLDIER: Scared I won't be able to go home. And it is very unnerving to be a prisoner.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: CNN Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence is monitoring this developing story from Washington. He is on the phone. Chris, what's the latest from the Pentagon?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (on the phone): Well, Fredricka, right now, they are trying to do all they can to check out whatever information may have come out of this video, you know, trying to go back to sources and through investigation where it may have been made and if the date that was referenced on that which was July 15th, if that is indeed true to give them some idea of where Private Bergdahl may be held now.
This is a statement released by the U.S. Military just recently. Colonel Greg Julian says "we strongly condemn this public exploitation and humiliation of a prisoner. It is a violation of the international law of war and we continue to use all resources available to us to return this soldier to safety." In recent weeks, that has been a real combination of the carrot and the stick.
The U.S. military has been dropping pamphlets over Afghanistan. One pamphlet shows a soldier kicking in a door and saying, "if you do not return our fellow soldier, we will hunt you down." The other is a completely different tack, it shows a soldier with an outstretch hand surrounded by children and that one says "one of guests has gone missing. If you can help at all, please call this number." So, two very different tacks, trying to reach out to the Afghan people and try to pin down exactly where he may be held right now. Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: And what do we know about how he was captured, Chris?
LAWRENCE: We don't know specific details. But we do know that a military source tells us that a military official says that he apparently left his post, his outpost in southeastern Afghanistan, in the Patoka (ph) province on June 30th, that he left without a means to defend himself, and was subsequently captured by what we believe was a local clan and then the U.S. Military believes he has been sold to a larger group and the U.S. Military also believes he was moved to several locations.
Also on that videotape that was released, the captives make reference that he was being held in Kandahar and Private Bergdahl makes reference to it as well but right now we can't verify if that was true or at this point is still true.
WHITFIELD: All right. Chris Lawrence thanks so much, our Pentagon correspondent joining us from Washington.
All right. Another story we are monitoring out of Afghanistan, a civilian helicopter crashed today in Helmand province, killing 16 people. Military officials say there is no indication that militant fire is to blame. No military personnel were killed or injured.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is monitoring the latest in Afghanistan from India. She found more resistance to proposed carbon emission limits in her second day there. India, a growing industrial power will raise such limits which would stifle economic growth. Still, Clinton says she is optimistic about getting a climate change deal that will satisfy India's interests.
Obama administration officials were on the Sunday talk shows this morning defending the president's health care plan. They say the proposed overhaul is a work in progress. They are asking Americans to withhold judgment until there is a final version to consider.
CNN's Elaine Quijano is at the White House.
And Elaine, does the administration still think that it can get Congress to pass something by August?
ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, officials are saying they are hopeful. Officials say that really is still the goal right now to get the House and Senate to pass a respective versions of health care legislation before Congress breaks for its august recess, but that timeframe could certainly slip. Lawmakers from both parties have made clear, look, let's slow this process down. They would like some additional time to really work on this issue.
The big concern, of course, is how to pay for a massive health care overhaul that is estimated to cost around $1 trillion over the next decade. Some are asking does President Obama need to step up his efforts to get legislation done? Well, today on CNN's "State of the Union," John King asked the president's budget chief, Peter Orszag, look, is President Obama too timid to get involved? Orszag said, no, that health care reform is really a tough issue. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER ORSZAG, WHITE HOUSE BUDGET DIRECTOR: Having happened in 50 years for a reason. It is complicated. The legislative process is working. I think people are sort of reaching judgment about who is going to win the marathon based on who's ahead at mile 19. Not a good way of judging things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUIJANO: Nevertheless, the clock is ticking. We are now just weeks away from Congress' August recess. Right now, Fredrick, the White House certainly does not want to lose momentum on this issue. Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: All right. So given there are concerns still about the cost and how quickly Congress should move what is the next step for the president?
QUIJANO: Well, the president is going to continue trying to rally lawmakers, pressure members of Congress. We are going to see him at a news conference, a primetime news conference on Wednesday night where health care, of course, is expected to be a big focus.
At the same time on Thursday then, he will be heading off to Cleveland, Ohio, for a health care event. The overall message here from the Obama administration is, look, the president continues to say this, officials continue to say this, they feel that health care reform is a priority that just cannot wait. Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: All right. Elaine Quijano, thanks so much from the White House. Appreciate that.
All right. President Obama is expected to talk about health care and other issues. When he holds that scheduled news conference Wednesday at 9 p.m. CNN will be covering that live.
Now, earlier, we asked you about what you think about health care reform. Here is what some of you wrote on my blog. Cindy says this may not be the perfect health care plan, but for me it is better than anything that I have right now, which is nothing. My husband is close to having his fourth brain surgery since January and we need any help of any kind. And then JB says having health insurance does help, but it is in a complete mess. I was just told that our company provided insurance is going up 12 percent this year.
And then Julian (ph) writes we need to look at how the top ten healthcare countries are financing their system and make it feasible here. No matter what health care coverage we manage to get, it will matter little when so much of our food supply is poisoned with chemicals that do us no good. And then Cindy back again to respond to Jeremiah saying, I agree with you about getting SSI, social security insurance and disability benefits that don't deserve it. I would like to know how in the world they got it.
All right. Well, that is just some of what you are saying there on my blog. We also are hearing from you by way of a phone message. Take a listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
ANGELA UNGER: Angela Unger (ph), I'm from Florida. And it is a bad, very bad idea for us to have government-run health care, very bad idea. I work in the health field. So I can see where it is not really good for Americans.
NELSON SOLANO: This is Nelson Solano from Stuart, Florida. I believe the more I hear about this issue about the health care reform, the more important it is that we get it through. Too many people are not being covered by health care benefits and we are the only country in the western world. We need to catch up to the rest of the countries in the western world and have a health care plan for all Americans.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. Some of your comments about health care reform. So remember, President Obama will be taking to the air waves Wednesday. You can watch that live here on CNN at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
All right. An unlikely spot to find a shooting suspect. Why police didn't have to travel too far to arrest a man wanted in connection with a two-state killing spree.
WHITFIELD: Let's call this cool breeze July. Jacqui Jeras is in the Weather Center. A lot of folks love it though.
JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Isn't it fantastic?
WHITFIELD: Yes, feels good.
JERAS: You know, and isn't funny how great weather puts you in a fantastic mood? Look at me smiling. Who can't be happy when it is this great, other than our fine friends in the southwest that are dealing with excessive heat here. But it really is the story of the haves and the have (INAUDIBLE) when it comes to temperatures. And you can see how cool things continue to be east of the Rocky Mountains.
In the southwest, yes, it's still extremely warm, 110 degrees in Phoenix yet today, with excessive heat warnings in place, we could be making a run from 116 before all is said and done, and that would be the hottest temperature in Phoenix so far this calendar year. Now, where should you be exactly for those of you enjoying the cool weather in the east. Well, so far today, 80 degrees in Atlanta, you should be around 90 this time of the year. 72 in Chicago, should be 84, 72 in Cinch, 87 is your average high. And 75 degrees in Nashville, you should be around 89 degrees. So really, much, much cooler than average.
Now we do have some showers and thunderstorms. Yes, the cold front that dropped on through is kicking up some showers and thunderstorms on the periphery of this, but where everything kind of meets that cooler air in the warmer air, and parts of the west, we do have some severe weather. There, you can see the thunderstorm watch boxes which are in effect and we have some really nasty thunderstorms on the north and east side of Dallas. In fact, severe thunderstorm warning in effect for parts of Dallas county. Heavy rainfall is just now moving through the Tampa bay area. Nothing severe here, just looking at some real had heavy downpours.
And then I also want to mention, you know it is hurricane season and the tropics are trying to get a little bit more active. We got a tropical wave which has developed here, east of the Leeward Islands but it looks like it is going to be moving into an environment where it is just too strong of a wind for much development. We kind of like it that way. Fred? Back to you.
WHITFIELD: All right. We are going to have much more straight ahead, right after this.
WHITFIELD: Tennessee police are releasing some of the names of the victims killed in a two-state shooting spree. Jacob Shaffer has been connected with the shooting south of Nashville yesterday. Police say he was sitting to on the porch of one of the victims' homes when they arrived. Shaffer's wife, Tracy, her teenaged son, her father and brother are among the victims found in Tennessee, a teenaged neighbor was also killed. A sixth victim, still not identified, was found about 30 miles away in Huntsville, Alabama.
A church gathering to promote nonviolence, the scene of a shooting in Chicago's south side. A prayer vigil was held last night for the two teens wounded in Friday's drive-by shooting. One is hospitalized in stable condition. The other has been released. St. Sabino's Roman Catholic Church is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the shooter's arrest.
California Transit investigators are trying to figure out what caused two light rail trains to collide in San Francisco. At least 48 people were injured in yesterday's crash. Mechanical problems and human errors are being examined as possible causes. Witnesses say one train barreled into another as they emerged from a tunnel.
The Episcopal Church is embracing change but in doing so it's also alienating its conservative membership. At its national conversion last week, leaders voted to give bishops discretion to bless same-sex unions, particularly in states that allow gay marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships. CNN's T.J. Holmes talked to bishops on both sides of the issues.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) T.J. HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Certainly, the argument is that yes, by doing this, by blessing the same sex unions and allowing gay bishops, you maybe welcoming more people in because they are attracted to the inclusiveness of the church but you may be also be turning a lot of people who are in the church now and turning them away. So what do you think? Are you gaining more or losing more people by this?
BISHOP JAMES E. CURRY, EPISCOPAL DISOCESE OF CONNECTICUT: I think that we are gaining and we are gaining a deeper theological understanding about the comprehensive nature of god's love. One of the great things about this discussion at the general convention was that we listened deeply to each other with compassion and great love, across the theological divide and I think that is the great gift that the Episcopal church and the Anglican community has for the world.
HOLMES: People will hear that you voted against it, so that might mean that you are automatically against same-sex unions. So guys, give me your official stance there, are you for or against gay marriage, no matter who might be performing the ceremony?
BISHOP C. ANDREW DOYLE, EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF TEXAS: Well, I think that it doesn't break up for me that easy, I'm sorry. I just think there is an issue with the state and the issues around what people - every person as an American citizen ought to have offered and available to them versus those things which the church blesses or does and I think the conversation not over. We are still in the midst of figuring that out and what these resolutions did do is allow for room for Bishop Curry and myself to continue that conversation and discover what's going to happen. But right now, where we are is pretty clear.
WHITFIELD: All right. The Episcopal church is often seen as a bellwether on social issues for other mainstream Christian denomination.
Tributes are pouring in for Walter Cronkite, even from the International Space Station. We will tell you what they had to say about the late CBS news anchor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEIL ARMSTRONG, NASA ASTRONAUT: That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Millions of Americans watched as Neil Armstrong took those historic steps on the moon 40 years ago, providing commentary, the late CBS News anchorman, Walter Cronkite. Yesterday, the crew of the space shuttle "Endeavour," now linked with the International Space Station, paid tribute to the man many knew as Uncle Walter. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOICE OF MARK POLANSKY, COMMANDER, SPACE SHUTTLE "ENDEAVOUR": We have noticed in the news uplink that a gentleman and a pioneer passed away and that person, of course is Walter Cronkite and we thought that we would be remiss in not recognizing him for what he meant to a bunch of us who happened to grow up in the era where the early astronauts and "Mercury" and "Gemini" and "Apollo" were going off. And I certainly watching television and sitting next to him, providing commentary, from a desk somewhere down in Florida. So we did want to salute Mr. Cronkite and offer our best wishes and condolences to his family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Well, NASA honored Cronkite with its ambassador of exploration award back in 2006. Cronkite died Friday. He was 92.
Well tomorrow, Wolf Blitzer brings you a special hour of the "Situation Room." Buzz Aldrin, who went to the moon with Neil Armstrong will be among Wolf's guest. That is 4:00 Eastern tomorrow. Don't want to miss that.
All right. A tough economy. People are losing jobs. What does that mean for the president's approval rating? Our Bill Schneider has all the numbers.
BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Good afternoon.
WHITFIELD: An update on the top stories now. A new Taliban video shows an American soldier who disappeared in Afghanistan almost three weeks ago. Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl says he is scared that he will never see home again.
Also in Afghanistan, a civilian helicopter crashed and has claimed the lives of 16 people. A Russian-owned helicopter crashed while taking off from Kandahar on a military support mission. The cause is still under investigation but officials say the crash was not the result of enemy fire.
And a Fayetteville, Tennessee, man is suspected of killing one person in Alabama and five in Tennessee, including his wife, her son, her father and her brother. 30-year-old Jacob Shaffer was arrested at home - at the home, rather, of one of the shootings.
Israel will go ahead with a Jewish housing project in predominantly Arab east Jerusalem. That's despite opposition from the United States. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel has sovereignty over all of Jerusalem and Jews have the right to settle anywhere in the city. The Obama administration has warned that new Israeli settlements will hinder the Middle East peace process.
And already under attack from reformers, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is now catching flack from hard liners as well. It is all because of the man that he picked to be his first vice president. Hard line critics say the new vice president is too moderate because he once said Iranians are friends of all people, even Israelis. Iran's state-run Press TV claims the new vice president has already resigned, but that can't be confirmed independently.
All right. Police say may have a new clue in their investigation into Friday's Indonesian hotel explosions. Bombs went off at two Jakarta luxury hotels. Nine people died, including the bombers. Investigators think they have recovered a laptop computer that belonged to one of the bombers. Indonesia's state-run news agency says it had information and codes the attackers may have used to communicate with each other.
The persistence of the troubled economy is hitting President Obama where it hurt. His approval ratings have taken a hit. So, how bad a hit? Here's CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CN N SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Last month, President Obama's job approval held fairly steady at just over 60 percent, according to CNN's poll of polls. This month, an average of 57. The American public is beginning to ask some tough questions about their new president, like is he a good provider? The nation's unemployment rate jumped to 9.5 percent last month, the highest in 26 years.
REP. ERIC CANTOR (R), VIRGINIA: The problem with the stimulus plan that passed back in January, it just wasn't targeted to get people hired again. And we got now a situation where unemployment is nearing 10 percent.
SCHNEIDER: In 16 states, including seven of the nation's 10 largest states, unemployment is over 10 percent. Over 15 in Michigan. In May, according to the CBS news poll, 25 percent of Americans were worried that someone in their household might lose a job. In June that figure climbed to 36 percent. Now, it is up to 40 percent. And they are losing confidence in the president's handling of the economy. Last month, people worried about losing a job still gave President Obama 58 percent approval rating on the economy. This month, their confidence has dropped sharply, to 42 percent. Patience, says the White House economic director.
LAWRENCE SUMMERS, DIR. NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: We were at the brink of catastrophe at the beginning of the year. We have walked some substantial distance back from the abyss.
SCHNEIDER: Do Americans believe this president has a clear plan for solving the nation's economic problems? They did when he first took office. 64 percent. And now? Most still do, but the number is down more than 10 points.
WHITFIELD: And Bill is joining us now from Washington. So Bill, there have been more layoffs as well since President Obama took office than in all of 2008. How is the White House responding to these numbers?
SCHNEIDER: Well, the treasury secretary was asked just about a week ago why isn't the stimulus program working? That was by a republican member of Congress, and he said it is working about as expected. He said given the size of the recession that the administration inherited, that the recovery will take some time. There will be setbacks, but he expressed confidence that things are going about as well as would be expected, maybe a little better. He did say, and is worth reminding people, most of the stimulus money has not yet been spent.
WHITFIELD: And so what is the response, I guess, from the White House on how this bad news, whether it be about the economy or anything else, might be endangering other items that the president wants to push?
SCHNEIDER: Well, you are seeing some critics of the White House emboldened by the slowness of the recovery. Republicans are saying that they - the stimulus plan isn't working. Democrats are talking about yet another stimulus plan.
It may be creating risks for the president's biggest agenda item, which is health care, because more Americans now say they are worried about the deficit. They are wondering if the country can afford health care. And while the president 's job numbers, we just saw, are taking a little bit of a hit. They are still positive but taking a little bit of a hit. Critics are stepping forward to saying we can't afford the rest of this big agenda.
WHITFIELD: All right. Bill Schneider in Washington. Thank you so much. Appreciate that.
Of course, President Obama is expected to talk more about the economy and health care and of course other issues when he holds his press conference Wednesday 9:00 p.m. Eastern, and of course, CNN will be carrying that live. You want to tune in right here on CNN.
Democrats want the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote on Judge Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination next week but some Republicans are saying not so fast. The ranking Republican on the committee, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions says he is still troubled by some of the things Sotomayor has said. He wants to push the vote back a week. Among those still questioning the nomination, anti-abortion groups. I spoke with the president of the Americans United for Life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARMAINE YOEST, AMERICANS UNITED FOR LIFE: Americans United for life looks at a whole host of life issues. There's end of life issues, there's bioethics issues, and there is a whole host of life issues.
WHITFIELD (voice over): Because she doesn't have a legal record, an opinion and decision on anything as it pertains to abortion rights.
YOEST: She had a couple of cases that she decided in which she upheld precedent. And our concern is that as a lower court judge, she is obligated to do that so we believe that when you look at the totality of her record, that she is going to be a reliable and more aggressive than Justice Souter vote for undermining the kinds of regulations and restrictions on abortions that Americans want to pass at the state level.
WHITFIELD: But do you feel like upholding precedent is enough in which to read the totality of a jurist?
YOEST: Frederica that is a good question it is important to understand for people who are not steeped in the Supreme Court and the layering of the courts and how they work, and how court cases come up to the Supreme Court. The job of the Supreme Court is to set precedent.
So, the fact that she upheld precedent on the second circuit court doesn't really tell us what she will do when she gets to the Supreme Court and she has the opportunity to implement the activism that she has pretty clearly demonstrated she is committed to through her speeches.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: An interview taken from yesterday's hour-long focus on judging Sotomayor, the 4:00 hour yesterday.
Meantime, Democrats were hoping for a vote on Sotomayor's confirmation as early as Tuesday. Republicans want it now, again, to be moved a week later, July 28th.
All right. Schools not making the grade could say so long to summer break. A new experiment in education means that some kids in the U.S. are taking classes year-round. Our Kate Bolduan looks at how the experiment is going in Virginia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): While most students are off enjoying summer vacations, schools like Barcroft Elementary in Arlington, Virginia are open and bustling with activity. How is that different from the school calendar that I had growing up and you had growing up?
MIRIAM HUGHEY-GUY, PRINCIPAL, BARCROFT ELEMENTARY: Well we would like to think about our calendar as being the 21st century calendar.
BOLDUAN: Instead of a long summer break, Barcroft keeps students in class year round, with shorter breaks throughout, offering about 20 additional school days.
HUGHEY-GUY: It gives them additional learning opportunities. It gives them learning experiences they might not be able to get over the summertime.
BOLDUAN: It is a strategy school districts across the country are experimenting with, perhaps the most closely watched in Massachusetts, which has extended class time for 26 of its low- performing schools. The idea has even won the endorsement of both President Obama and his education chief.
ARNIE DUNCAN, EDUCATION SECRETARY: The school year is based upon the agrarian economy. Most of our students aren't working the fields in the summers, it doesn't make sense. We have a significantly shorter school year, 20, 25, 30 days versus India, versus other places. Our students are at a competitive disadvantage.
BOLDUAN: The major argument for extending school time is summer learning loss. Researchers have found students can lose about a month's worth of achievement during the summer break.
ELENA SILVA, SENIOR POLICY ANALYST, EDUCATION SECTOR: It is particularly true for low-income kids who don't have the opportune that's other kids have during big breaks.
BOLDUAN: But more time is no silver bullet for reform. Miami- Dade County schools in Florida used an extended day program for three years, but dropped it because they didn't see improvement in test scores. Critics say it disrupts family life and is expensive. The Miami-Dade program cost more than $100 million.
MARTA PEREZ, MIAMI DADE COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD: The teachers were fatigued at the end of the day the students were fatigued and unmotivated.
BOLDUAN: Which is another criticism. It is not just time, but the quality of the extra time that matters.
SILVA: One of the risks, of course is that you end up extending time in schools that aren't working well and that is, I think, goes without saying that no one wants to extend bad time.
BOLDUAN: Test scores at Barcroft Elementary haven't yet shown great improvement, Principal Hughy-Guy is confident it is worth it.
HUGHY-GUY: If you ask any parent whether we are making a difference for their children, they will say yes 100 percent. And it is not about just test scores it is about the whole child.
BOLDUAN: Kate Bolduan, CNN, Arlington, Virginia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Walter Cronkite is being remembered not just by journalists and viewers but by historians, we will hear from a well- known historian who is writing a Cronkite biography.
WHITFIELD: A private funeral service for Walter Cronkite is scheduled Thursday in New York City. After that, he will be buried next to his wife in his home state of New Jersey. The long-time CBS evening news anchor died Friday at the age of 92. Noted historian Douglas Brinkley is writing a Cronkite biography. He says Cronkite was more than just a news leader. He was a war correspondent and an eyewitness to history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, HISTORIAN: As a young boy growing up, he created his own little wire service for himself and then he went to high school and got involved with yearbooks and newspapers. So the time of World War II he was perfectly -- the perfect age, really to embed with the soldiers over there. And his stories, I have read now all of his articles that he wrote during World War II he was an Ernie Pyle-like stuff, he was part of the greatest generation team trying to beat down the Nazis and Europe.
Later, he was at the Nuremburg trials, which was a very dramatic thing for a reporter to be part of. He has that patriotism with him. In the '50s, Joe McCarthy started rearing his head and he started watching Edward R. Murrow, watching how Murrow conducted himself. And so by the time Cronkite is in his prime, by the early '60s, the Kennedy years, he spoke this sort of advocate of space and NASA and the armed forces, yet he also is a product of Murrow descent that a reporter has to tell the truth, no matter what, and that combination, I think, made him absolutely irreplaceable in the 1960s and '70s.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Well it is hard to imagine Walter Cronkite as a young up and coming journalist but that is exactly how our next guest remembers him. Len Gumley is a former manager of CBS News Studios in New York. Len Gumley joins us by phone from Sarasota, Florida. Good you could be with us. Give me an idea what your interaction was like with Walter Cronkite.
LEN GUMLEY, FORMER MANAGER, CBS NEWS STUDIOS (via telephone): Well, it was quite interesting. In fact, the first week that I worked at that studio, I thought he and his production assistant were going to give me a heart attack.
WHITFIELD: Why is that?
GUMLEY: Because, they would go on the air at 6:30 and at 6:20 and 25, they still weren't there. About 6:26 or 27, his production assistant who later became president of CBS, would run in and hand me the rundown of the show. They would go into the studio and I would put it on the director's desk. About the time he would put his seat in the chair, open the mike, take one.
WHITFIELD: What was the explanation?
GUMLEY: The explanation was this. I finally said to Bobby what is going on here? You are going to give us a heart attack? He said, "Len, when I give you the rundown, every now and then you see something that is marked, slashed out?"I said, "Yes." He said that is because we didn't get the second confirmation and we wait by the phone and the ticker and if we don't get the second confirmation, he will not use it.
WHITFIELD: Oh, so he would drop the story?
GUMLEY: Drop the story. I think that he was more interested in accuracy than he was getting first with the story, not that he didn't want to scoop but I think getting the story correct was more important to him because he loved the news and that what he was saying was just so.
WHITFIELD: That would explain why he was a trusted man on television and in news. So what were some of the funny moment because I understand while he was very serious about the business, he had a great sense of humor and even kind of gave you a funny little story about how to cover war, how not to cover it.
GUMLEY: It wasn't until I was there about a year, he found out and I found out, both, he found out that I had been a glider pilot in World War II and I had found out that he had gone into Holland in a glider. And when we both found that out we talked about it and he said to me, Len, I want to tell you this. If we ever have to go to war again, walk, swim but don't go in a glider because it is a sure cure for constipation.
WHITFIELD: That was something funny that you-all could have a really great talk and conversation about. Len Gumley thanks so much, former manager of CBS, joining us from Florida. Our condolence is going out to you and everyone who knew Walter Cronkite personally but have embraced and celebrated his life in a very big way this past weekend. Thanks so much.
WHITFIELD: Many middle class African-Americans can find themselves frustrated when it comes to progressing on the job. In "Black in America Two" Soledad O'Brien reports on an innovative program helping Americans brightest black professional shatter glass ceilings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): By any measure, Mia Jackson is a success. At 26, she owns a home, a car and earns $77,000 a year as an engineer.
MIA JACKSON, MLT FELLOW: I knew that an engineering degree was going to be financially stable when I got out of college. Chemical engineering is the most versatile out of all the engineering disciplines.
O'BRIEN: She is a project manager at ZEP, a chemical manufacturing company with over half a million dollars in revenue.
JACKSON: Step back. I have had a lot of great opportunities.
O'BRIEN: But she has also experienced roadblocks and frustration.
JACKSON: I couldn't see what my next step was and I had no one to help me see it. I didn't want to get pigeon holed as that engineer.
O'BRIEN: In taking charge of her own career, she is about to walk away from everything she has for an 18-month program created by this man, John Rice.
JOHN RICE, FOUNDER AND CEO, MLT: We have under representation of minorities in Corporate America in the nonprofit world, entrepreneurial world. We need to solve that.
O'BRIEN: Rice was an executive with the NBA, but left to serve others in his innovative organization, Management Leadership for Tomorrow. MLT teaches a series of prescribed steps. Step one, know your story.
RICE: Introduce yourself. Talk to us. Who are you? Convince this group that you have the juice.
O'BRIEN: Step two, articulate your goal and passion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm most passionate about empowering others.
O'BRIEN: And step three, build important relationships.
UNIDENTIFED FEMALE: We want to get to know you.
O'BRIEN: That is what Mia Jackson has been doing for the past 18 months in MLT's MBA Prep Program.
JACKSON: I didn't know most of the assignments were going to be grueling and repetitive it is actually another full-time job.
O'BRIEN: One final challenge before Mia's MLT journey ends. Four rigorous days in the rain of around the clock training, crash courses in consulting, entrepreneurship and investment banking, where Mia must quickly digest information she has never studied.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After market liquidity concerns.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Price time volume.
O'BRIEN: Can Mia prove she's got the right stuff for corporate leadership?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And a programming note, Wednesday night on CNN at 7 Eastern, catch "The Moment of Truth" with Steve Harvey and Tom Joiner live from Times Square and then at 8:00, the premier of "Black in America 2" part one.
This week just before his NAACP speech, President Obama hosted a talk with a group of black journalists on board Air Force One. CNN's political contributor Roland Martin was among them and I talked with him about that trip. Here is a bit of the conversation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROLAN MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: They really wanted to have a conversation dealing with the black press, because that is what the audience is. The head of the NAACP saw he had great opportunity to be on Air Force One. You know what Frederica, as journalist we sit here and say, oh, no, we are impartial, we stand back. We all, you know, enthrall with the idea of riding the most famous plane on the world. It was a great experience but more importantly, an opportunity to ask the president some pointed questions.
WHITFIELD: What were some of the questions that you asked?
MARTIN: Well first of all he was asked a question about the case in Philadelphia, where the day care school of most of the minority kids were denied an opportunity at the swimming pool. And he said this is important, because he touched on NAACP speech, he talked about this whole notion that we are really not a post racial world, where people are still experiencing discrimination, yes, it is indeed better.
He also talks about New Orleans and Katrina and the rebuilding effort here. I specifically asked him what is the most important issue in black America and he said, without a doubt it is education and closing the achievement gap and so that is really one of the issues. I'm in New Orleans for the convention and symposium on young black men in education and that is what it boils down to, how do we confront the reality when in Detroit, 25 percent young black men graduate from high school. In Chicago 35 percent graduate from high school. The reality is black parents for decades have been emphasizing education and this generation is falling further and further back and that really has to be the most dominant issue in black America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: There is more on this conversation between me and Roland, and you can check that out on my blog at CNN.com.
A birthday party spanning at least two continents, South African President Nelson Mandela celebrated his 91st birthday yesterday in Johannesburg and it was also the country's first national Mandela Day. In New York, a star-studded celebration marked Mandela's big day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CYNDI LAUPER, SINGER: A great freedom fighter. Transformed his prison sentence into changing people inside and outside in his country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Other entertainers on hand there in New York, Morgan Freeman, as you see here, Aretha Franklin, who performed, and there is Carla Bruni, who is the first lady of France. Of course, right there Lil Kim as well. But Mandela was not in New York. He no longer travels abroad. Instead, he is celebrating his birthday in Johannesburg.
All right. A devastating loss at the British Open today. Details coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WHITFIELD: Our break at the British Open today, 59-year-old Tom Watson was an eight-foot putt away from the history books, but it wasn't to be.
CNN's Justin Armsden is live from Turnbury, Scotland.
Oh, I know he is cringing but at the same time I don't know, pretty impressive to come in second, although I know he wanted first.
JUSTIN ARMSDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was impressive, Frederica. Hello to you. It was one of the most astounding performances all week by Tom Watson. Think about it 58 years of age, Tiger Woods missing the cut, nearly showed up the entire field. But proved a step too far from him, as he lost in a playoff to Stewart Sink.
He led from day one, led going into the final round as well. He spoke about playing spiritual golf. He wowed the fans, he gave himself to the fans, he took a lot of fans down memory lane, remembering, of course he produced one of the greatest performances of all time in open championship golf when he took on Jack Nicholas (ph) and won in 1977. He may have come second, Frederica, but he gave a lot of lasting memories to people here who were lucky enough to witness this.
WHITFIELD: Yeah, he made this open certainly very memorable. This taking place just two months shy of his 60th birthday?
ARMSDEN: Yes, indeed. To give you an idea of the magnitude of his performance, the RNA, a rather ancient authority in golf, decided if he won the open championship, they would change their rules because their rules, at the moment, state that any player over the age of 60 isn't allowed to enter into the open championship but they said, if Tom Watson won, they will extend his allowance another ten years so he could have quite possibly played up until the age of 70. Now whether he did that or not is another question. Tom always said he never wanted to be a ceremonial golfer, he perhaps would have bowed out before then but that gives you some idea of the magnitude of his performance.
WHITFIELD: Quite an accomplishment, he didn't get the title but my producer tells me he still walks away with $700,000 as the runner up. Not so bad. Nice chunk of change. I know he is not in it for the money. You want to win the title. I get it.
WHITFIELD: All right. Justin Armsden thank you so much. We will talk again, sorry we're out of time. I'm getting nudged along. Good to see you.
Our Jacqui Jeras is here; time to have our chat room about something else. Not sports this time, but --
A little bit of foodstuffs and a little bit of record breaking in other ways. Let's talk about --
JACQUI JERAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mortgage cake.
I love this story.
WHITFIELD: A very strange juxtaposition, but a woman in New Jersey who has had her home for about 20 years, trying to make her $2600 mortgage payment. She said, you know what I got a great cake recipe, apple cake, I'm going to make it and I'm going to start to sell it, it became such a hit that it actually helped her garner enough money to keep her home. And now, it is branching off into a business.
JERAS: Isn't that great?
WHITFIELD: She really -- yeah, she really took control.
JERAS: She wanted to make one mortgage payment, $2600, she far exceed that, now she is looking at a whole new career.
WHITFIELD: It is incredible.
WHITFIELD: So that is a heart-warming story of the day. Here is the creepy story of the day.
Yeah, a little bit of both. Absolutely. You may have already heard about it, but when you see this video, you just can't get enough of it. What's been going on there are thousands, yes, literally thousands of giant flying squid that have invaded the waters off San Diego.
JERAS: The squid has a razor-sharp beak, grow up to five feet long and weigh up to a hundred pounds, and scuba divers have been getting roughed up by guys. In the deep waters, so they don't think it will bother swimmers or what ever but it has also been washing up on the beaches.
WHITFIELD: Oh, interesting.
JERAS: And scientists say, you know, they've couple theories why this is happening, they normally live off the coast of Mexico. So much they think it has to do with the warmer waters, maybe global warming and others say they out fished the predators, which are sharks.
WHITFIELD: We are out of time. Very fascinating. Much more on the newsroom coming up. "GPS" right now.