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Oprah Winfrey Announces She Will End Program in 2011; Do Senate Democrats Have Votes to Begin Debate on Health Reform Bill?; Your E- Mails Answered

Aired November 20, 2009 - 11:00   ET

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


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: There has been some debate about whether the proper word is "unfriend" or "defriend," but an Oxford Dictionary spokesman said researchers found that "unfriend" used more often than "defriend."

So now you know.

I'm Don Lemon.

CNN NEWSROOM continues right now with Mr. Tony Harris.

Tony, take it away.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Don, appreciate it. Have a great weekend.

It is Friday, November 20th, and here are faces of the stories driving the headlines today.

Oprah Winfrey -- afternoons just won't be the same without her. The billionaire says the time for talk is coming to an end.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pushing for a Saturday night vote on his health care reform bill.

And University of California students outraged over a colossal hike in tuition that may force many to be college dropouts.

Good morning, everyone. I'm Tony Harris. And you are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

An entire generation has never known life without the daily counsel of Oprah Winfrey. Her talk show made her one of the world's richest and most influential women.

Oprah Winfrey announced -- boy, that's pretty emotional stuff -- just moments ago that she will end the program in 2011.

CNN's Betty Nguyen is here with exactly what Oprah said to her audience just moments ago. And we also have Kareen Wynter standing by in Chicago.

And, ladies -- Betty, let's start with you.

You watched Oprah make the statement just moments ago. I watched as much as I could. Maybe you can share a little bit of what she said emotionally to her audience.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it was really emotional. And wish we could show it to you, but it doesn't air until particular time zones later this afternoon.

HARRIS: And this evening, yes.

NGUYEN: But it was very tearful at a specific point when she talked about how much the audience meant to her.

HARRIS: Absolutely. That personal connection, yes.

NGUYEN: Yes. Her whole point was to say that, I love my show enough to love it enough to say good-bye.

HARRIS: That the time is now.

NGUYEN: And at this point -- yes. At 25 years, which is next season -- actually, I've just been handed the exact statement, so I'm going to read it to you.

She says, "After much prayer and months of careful thought, I thought that next season, 25, would be the last season of the "Oprah Winfrey Show." She says, "You may hear a lot of speculation in the press about why I'm making this decision now."

She said, "Twenty-four years ago, on September 8, 1986, I went live from Chicago to launch the first show. I was beyond excited, a little nervous."

HARRIS: Yes. Yes.

NGUYEN: "I knew what a miraculous opportunity it would be." Now, she goes on to say, "It still means as much to me to spend an hour with you as it did in 1986."

And this is where you really felt the emotion. She says, "Here's the real reason. I love this show. This show is my life. I love it enough to know when it is time to say good-bye."

"It is the perfect number, the exact right time. I hope you will take this 18-month ride with me through the show" -- that being from now until when it ends next September. "My team and I will brainstorming new ways that I can lift you up when we return in January. And season 25, we will knock your socks off."

And I have no doubt that she will.

But I think the point where she really got tearful, not only talking about the 25 years, but, well, like we mentioned, that audience connection.

HARRIS: The personal connection that she -- yes.

NGUYEN: She said that so many people had grown up watching her. I mean, she's been on the air with this show for 25 years. She says, "Viewers grew up with me. We've grown together. It is a relationship that I hold dearly."

And you could feel it and you could see it as she made that statement today. Obviously, she's put a lot of thought into this, Tony, and it's a difficult one. But 25 years is a pretty good number.

HARRIS: Wow. It has ramifications for this industry. It has ramifications for everything that she stamps with the Oprah brand. It has huge implications moving forward in the cable world. We'll talk about that with Tom O'Neil in just a couple of minutes.

Betty, I'm going to give you a moment to work through more of that statement. We want to share eventually here, at least in the first hour of this show, as much of that statement as we can, as quickly as we can.

NGUYEN: OK.

HARRIS: But let's do this -- let's get to Kareen Wynter. She is in Chicago, the home of "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

And Kareen, let's talk to you about the reaction of the news that Oprah was ending her show, first from people heading into see today's taping.

KAREEN WYNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Tony, we're excited to get that reaction as soon as we leave our position here from the many fans who lined up. We spoke with them this morning, Tony, the early morning hours, braving the cold.

And they say, you know what? It's worth it. It's for Oprah. We grew up watching her. We loved her many years ago and we love her now.

But, of course, we're going to miss her. We're going to miss tuning her on every day.

HARRIS: Sure. Sure.

WYNTER: But they're also excited about what the future holds for this iconic media mogul. And so one person we spoke with said, "If she moves to another network, we're going to follow her. We're going to be right there with her." So they are also excited, Tony, about what the next chapter could bring.

And Betty was alluding to the fact also, Tony -- just want to get this in -- that Oprah was so emotional inside her studio, where we're stand right now, Harpo Studios, where her show was just taped. But you know what? She was also emotional last night.

We have some exclusive details about that, about how she broke the news to her staffers, Tony. Listen to this.

She actually began playing a tape of some of landmark TV's most compelling shows, everything from "Cosby" to "Cheers" to Johnny Carson. So, she opened up with that, a tape of some of the landmark shows on television.

And at that point, Tony, we're told everyone just broke down. They got so incredibly emotional, and it was described as an emotional meeting from that point on.

And Oprah said that she would most likely be doing a show on her new network, the Oprah Winfrey Network, that, again, will be launching next year, her partnership with Discovery, and that she needed to do this, she said, because she was being advised that this was necessary for the growth of her new brand, the new direction that she was taking her empire into. And that she was crying at the end of this meeting.

So, again, an emotional time for everyone from fans to the people who have worked with her, from the onset to the queen of talk herself -- Kareen.

HARRIS: Well, Kareen, help me with the logistics here. Will you start to see something of a stream of fans who were there for the taping this morning to be leaving the studio soon?

WYNTER: Well, that's what we're awaiting. And it's a little tricky, our position.

They're right around the corner, Tony. And you can imagine the media camped out here. There are tons of cameras. And again, we're anxious to bolt in that direction and to find out, but they're going to have a lot to say.

This was an historic taping, an historic show. And that's what people who, again, were out here in the early morning hours said, that's why we're here. We want to hear from the queen herself to find out what her next step will be. And, you know, her final farewell.

HARRIS: Well, Kareen, do this -- when you start to talk to some of those folks, let us know. We'll get back to you as soon as we can.

Appreciate it.

WYNTER: Absolutely, Tony.

HARRIS: Kareen Wynter for us in Chicago.

Got to tell you, celebrity fans are reacting to the news that the queen of talk is stepping down from the thrown. "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest and Oprah show special correspondent Lisa Ling weighed in on the decision.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LISA LING, JOURNALIST: I don't think anyone can fill Oprah's shoes. I mean, really, she's someone who has maintained such incredible integrity throughout her career, and that's the thing that I admire most about her. She really hasn't allowed herself to deviate. And I'm really proud of her for that.

(END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN SEACREST, HOST, "AMERICAN IDOL": Well, I think this is something that she's obviously been thinking about and hinting about for a while. And I think when do you a show every day like this, it's something that you probably go back and forth on for a while, and then you make up your mind that you're going to stop, but stop at the right time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Oprah Winfrey brought us 25 years of TV moments.

CNN's Alina Cho is going to share just a few of them now.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Tony.

Oprah made the announcement today on a special live show. Now, the last day of her show is slated for September 9, 2011. By then, she'll have been on the air 25 seasons, a quarter century, as the highest rated talk show, the end of an era.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: You get a car! You get a car! You get a car!

CHO (voice-over): She's as iconic as you can get.

WINFREY: I've never seen you like this.

CHO: And for a show that started in Chicago with this in 1986...

WINFREY: Welcome to the very first national "Oprah Winfrey Show!"

CHO: ... along the way, the queen of daytime built an empire worth nearly $2.5 billion, hosting some of our generation's biggest names -- Hollywood, politicians, even other icons.

WINFREY: This is the most exciting interview I had ever done, and certainly was going to be the most watched.

CHO: The queen even crowned some kings, giving us Dr. Phil...

DR. PHIL: Now, let's just calm down here.

CHO: ... and Dr. Oz, turning an appearance or mere mention on the show into a life-changing experience.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": And this is not just a mere television personality. She's a brand, she's a destination.

CHO: But it was her connection to everyday people that took Oprah to the top, guiding viewers through life's challenges, and bearing her own for the world to see. WINFREY: I am mad at myself. I am embarrassed. I can't believe I'm still talking about weight.

CHO: Her ups and downs went beyond just her weight and hair. There was an unexpected PR hit when the real reveal came on those free cars, a $7,000 tax bill.

Then there was the dirty work of picking up the "Million Little Pieces" left behind by James Frey and a memoir that turned out to be mostly fiction.

WINFREY: It is difficult for me to talk to you, because I really feel duped. I feel duped.

CHO: When she endorsed then-candidate Obama, her popularity took a hit, but her candidate won.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How does it feel tonight?

WINFREY: It feels like hope won.

CHO: And when she teamed up with the first family to bring the Olympics home to Chicago, Oprah's golden touch failed.

Yet, Oprah now leaves the daytime throne open. So from the woman who could be next in line...

ELLEN DEGENERES, TALK SHOW HOST: I don't think I could be here without her. I think she has blazed a trail that is -- she's an amazing woman.

(APPLAUSE)

She will always be the queen of daytime television, and she also said she's leaving me all of her money.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHO: So, the big question is what will Oprah do next? Well, she's starting her own cable channel. OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, will launch in January of 2011.

Now, Oprah is expected to appear on the channel, but, Tony, just how much and in what capacity nobody knows. Maybe not even Oprah -- Tony.

HARRIS: Man. We want answers to that question.

Alina, appreciate it. Thank you.

So what's next for Oprah Winfrey? As just heard from Alina, she's launching OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, as part of a joint venture with Discovery Communications.

Tom O'Neil is with us, senior editor of "In Touch Weekly" magazine, and he's joining us from New York. Tom, great to see you, as always. Thanks for the time this morning.

TOM O'NEIL, SENIOR EDITOR, "IN TOUCH WEEKLY": Thanks.

HARRIS: With that, I've got to ask you just a wide open question. All right? How big a deal is this?

O'NEIL: Well, it's mega-billions of dollars if you aggregate it over a decade or more. But she's got to look to the future, Tony.

You know, right now, if she were to actually renew the next contract beyond 2011, she would be looking at cuts in her license fee of about 50 percent in some cases, because that's the dwindling viewership of daytime TV on the big channel. So, here she is launching her own channel, and she has to think strategically, how do I make that work in a dramatic way?

Well, you pull a Howard Stern. Remember when satellite radio was launching? They took somebody who had a fanatical following, they moved him over at a $100 million fee, and it worked. Now, here, it's her network. You've got to move her over with it.

HARRIS: Does this say something significant about the landscape -- and I think the answer is yes on this -- the landscape of television, period? I'm talking broadcast and cable, where she's moving. The biggest star in daytime television is moving to cable.

O'NEIL: Yes, because that's where media is moving. It's moving there and it's moving to the Internet while we see the continued collapse of broadcast TV. So, she's smart to do this.

But remember, earlier in her career she was involved in a very similar cable deal that didn't quite work out. She was part of the Oxygen Network launch and she backed out of it because it wasn't going the way she wanted. And then NBC took it over, et cetera. So, she's been down this road before.

But this time she's calling the shots. And look, she has her own magazine. She's had her own brand out there and every other extension. Why not a TV network?

HARRIS: Yes.

How big a deal is this for Discovery Communications and building anticipation for OWN? I mean, come on. Is it time to buy some Discovery stock?

O'NEIL: It might be. It might be. You know, they have not been able to make the Discovery Health Network work on its own, so they had to do something, either shut it down or recreate it. So, this was really a smart, strategic move.

HARRIS: Is she going to be given carte blanche to essentially do what she wants to do with this channel? O'NEIL: Absolutely. You know, I was working at Hearst Magazines when Oprah Winfrey's magazine launched. And I can tell you from internally, we had to face the decision, of course, how much power to give Oprah, which we normally -- there were other celebrity-branded magazines we did where the celebrity didn't have much power. You give Oprah the complete checkbook and say, just run this thing the way you want to, of course.

HARRIS: No kidding.

So, look, Tom, what happens for station groups around the country? I'm talking local stations here, because this will obviously leave a huge hole in their broadcast wheel.

O'NEIL: I know. It airs in New York, for example, at 4:00 in the evenings, in the late afternoons on ABC. That's a great lead-in to the news channels, et cetera, and that, of course, guides viewers there.

HARRIS: Right.

O'NEIL: This is going to have a devastating impact, because you can't fill Oprah's shoes. She's one of those important people in pop culture, period.

HARRIS: Yes. Tom, it's great to see you. Thanks for your time this morning.

O'NEIL: Thanks.

HARRIS: We want to hear from you, of course, following Oprah's bombshell announcement. The queen of talk says she will end her weekly television program in 2011. The truth is she's been a part of our lives for 25 years.

So, we want to know -- well, even longer, if you're like me, growing up in Baltimore -- what's your favorite Oprah moment?

Post your comments on my blog at CNN.com/Tony. We'll share some of them on the air right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: OK. Let's talk health care here now.

Do Senate Democrats have the votes to begin debate on their health reform bill? I guess we'll find out tomorrow. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to give it a try.

Senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash live from Capitol Hill with us. And she has a preview of the Senate showdown.

Dana, good to see you.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You too.

HARRIS: Senate Democrats' news conference on health care last hour. Are the votes there to open debate on this Senate bill?

BASH: The number two Democrat in the Senate, the man actually in charge, officially, of counting the votes, he actually opened that press conference by saying he's been asked probably 30 or 40 times, maybe, a day about that question. And he wouldn't say for sure, but certainly indicated, as Democratic leaders have been all along, that they do feel cautiously optimistic about it.

But just to be even more specific about what we're talking about here, I want to put up on the screen pictures of three Democrats that -- this is the focus at this point, three Democrats. And these are the three Democrats that had been the most questionable, if you will, about whether or not the Democratic leadership can get all senators who align with Democrats, all 60 of them, to vote yes.

Because if they don't, if any one of those three or any one of the 60 vote no because they can't rely on any Republican support, this bill could go down even before it starts. But of the three, I want to talk about one specifically, because Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu have been giving pretty positive statements about the need to at least begin debate.

Blanche Lincoln, she's a Democrat from Arkansas, she is up for reelection next year. She has, I believe, seven or eight Republican opponents vying for her seat.

Now, she is somebody whose favorability ratings have gone down at home. Arkansas, Tony, is a state that went for John McCain, not Barack Obama, by 20 points. And she's under a lot of pressure not to be the Democrat who gives President Obama the support that he needs, at least even to start debate.

And so, with that said, because she is such a focus, Dick Durbin, the number two in the Senate, did talk about her, and what his message is for her and why she should vote yes, at least to start debate.

Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: I would say to Senator Lincoln that I believe most of the people in Arkansas will be relieved and happy to see health care reform that gives them the peace of mind about the cost of health insurance and its protection, and their ability to fight these health insurance companies. I think the failure to pass a bill is not good for America, it isn't good for any of us in Congress or those standing for reelection.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: So that's the argument that is going on behind closed doors. It is not a secret with the Democrats who are waffling about whether even to start debate.

The political argument that they are hearing from their leadership, from the vice president, who was here a couple of days ago lobbying, and probably even from the president himself -- if he hasn't made the call, he certainly is expected to in the next 24 hours -- to say, look, their political argument is that they believe it will be worse off for -- Democrats who are in tough reelection battles will be worse off if they don't support health care, because they will anger the people that they absolutely can rely on in these elections, and that is the Democratic base -- Tony.

HARRIS: OK. Our senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash for us.

Dana, appreciate it. Thank you.

Let's get you caught up on our top stories now.

A security expert tells CNN she did a report on radicalization for the Pentagon in 2008. Shannen Rossmiller says her recommendations could have headed off the Fort Hood shooting. Instead, she says her findings were apparently shelved because officials were concerned with political correctness.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHANNEN ROSSMILLER, AUTHORED PENTAGON REPORT ON RADICALIZATION: The report was written from the military perspective. It was entitled "Radicalization of Members of the DOD." And what it was for was for them to have tools to look within their ranks to spot different criteria that showed signs and red flags of radicalization and how to spot those, identify them, and then from there be able to head the problem off.

The Defense Department report was intended to prevent something like this. And it's just astonishing that this even had to happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: The Senate Homeland Security Committee has opened an investigation into Fort Hood. Maine Senator Susan Collins says there were "red flags galore" about accused shooter Major Nidal Hasan.

First, it was mammograms. Now another change in health screening guidelines.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says most women in their 20s don't need to have a pap smear every year, but, instead, ,every two years. Pap smears detect the HPV virus which can lead to cervical cancer.

Oprah Winfrey says she'll call it quits after 25 seasons on the air. She made the announcement at the end of a live broadcast of her show just minutes ago. The last show will be in 2011, but she is starting a new venture on cable, the Oprah Winfrey Network.

What are the details of the first-time homebuyer tax credit? Parents, do you get a tax credit for your kids in college? Those are just a couple of the questions that you want answers to. Our personal finance editor, Gerri Willis, is going to do just that for you in just a couple of minutes. But first, a check of the Big Board.

We are selling today. As you can see, the Dow is down 51 points.

We will check these numbers throughout the morning for you and afternoon with Susan Lisovicz, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: All right. Gerri Willis time. Yeah.

Curious about the first-time homebuyer tax credit? How about a tax credit for parents with kids in college? Like the sound of that. And will modifying a mortgage affect your credit score?

You sent us the questions. CNN's personal finance editor, Gerri Willis, is here with the answers.

Good Friday to you, Gerri. Are you ready for the first question?

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Happy Friday. Let's get down to it.

HARRIS: All right. This comes from "Anonymous."

"I wanted to know if you could tell me how much longer the tax credit for first-time homebuyers will be available? I'm a U.S. citizen living abroad and plan to purchase a condominium in Texas. Would this tax credit apply to me for that?"

WILLIS: Well, great question. You know, the first-time homebuyer tax credit was recently extended. To qualify, though, buyers have to sign purchase agreements before May 1st and close before July 1st.

As long as you haven't owned a home within the past three years, and as long as you plan on living in the home as a primary residence, you should still be able to get the credit. For more eligibility requirements, go to this Web site: FederalHousingTaxCredit.com -- Tony.

HARRIS: Good stuff.

All right. Our next question is from Blake, who writes, "I'm a student in New York City and I'm wondering about the $2,500 tax credit for parents of students. I researched a bit online and came up dry. Could you please, Gerri, let me know how I can take advantage of this tax credit?"

WILLIS: Well, you're talking about the Hope Scholarship tax credit. And this is a credit that can be applied to college tuition, fees, course materials, you name it.

For most folks, this is going to be one of the best benefits. With a tax credit, you can deduct your tax bill dollar for dollar.

So, as it works with the Hope Scholarship, $2,500 will be subtracted from your tax bill. There are income phase-out, $80,000 for single filers and $160,000 for couples.

Keep in mind, you can't use the deduction on 529 plan money. This tax credit will end at the end of next year unless it's extended by Congress.

For more info, go to FinAid.org.

HARRIS: Terrific. All right. I've got one more for you, Gerri.

Loan writes, "I'm trying to confirm whether or not participation in the highly-touted mortgage modification program will negatively affect my credit report. A friend indicated that she asked her bank this question and they said that it could."

WILLIS: Your friend is right. Your credit score might suffer depending on how your mortgage lender decides to report it to the credit bureaus.

Many lenders are reporting loan modifications as what they call partial payment plans, which is considered negative by the FICO score. Now, this is supposed to change soon, when lenders will start reporting them as loan modification under a government program, and that's not considered a negative by FICO. So, if you want to modify your mortgage loan, then it might be a good idea to find out from your lender how it's going to impact your FICO score.

And don't forget, coming up this weekend, "YOUR BOTTOM LINE." No one likes to talk taxes, but there are some smart moves you can make right now that will save you a whole lot of money come April.

Get ready. Get set. Shop. You thought last year's deals were steals? We'll tell you which retailers are planning to go all out this holiday season.

Get ready, get set, shop. You thought last year's deals were steals. We'll tell you which retailers are planning to go all out this holiday season. That's "YOUR BOTTOM LINE," Saturday at 9:30 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

HARRIS: Gerri, good to see you. Have a great weekend and we'll be there for the show this weekend.

WILLIS: You as well.

HARRIS: It is official. An emotional Oprah Winfrey announced just last hour that she's ending her TV talk show after an incredible 25-year run. Who gets that in television these days? She is calling it the right time.

Betty is standing by with more on the big announcement. And yes, emotional indeed.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We knew it would be. You're on a show for almost 25 years and we know how passionate Oprah is about her talk show. So as we watched this morning as the show -- the live portion of the show was coming to an end and many of you won't see it until later this afternoon, she was very emotional and teary eyed at moments.

And let's show you exactly what she said today, especially during that emotional part. This is when she really started to choke up a little bit. She said, "You, the viewers, have enriched my life beyond measure. You have graciously invited me into your kitchens, living rooms, and lives."

So she really feels that connection with her viewer, but she went on to say, "Here is the real reason," that she is ending the show in 2011 after 25 years. She says, "I love the show, this show is my life, and I love it enough to know when it's time to say goodbye."

And she went on to say, "It's the perfect number, the exact right time," talking about 25 years. "I hope you will take this 18-month ride with me through this show," meaning between now and 2011. And she went on to say that they are preparing -- here it is, "My team and I will be brainstorming new ways that I can uplift you when we return in January. In season 25, we will knock your socks off."

And you know, she has been doing this for many, many years. Her talk show has been the highest rated talk show for 23 consecutive seasons. Who else can say that? I mean, this is a woman who made so much history on television and today again she makes it by saying that she's ending her show.

Now, the speculation, Tony, is what is she going to do after that? Is she just really going to stay off the air and work behind the scenes?

HARRIS: I don't think so, no one thinks she'll do that.

NGUYEN: Yes, she has the Oprah Winfrey Network and that's launching, so maybe we'll see her in a similar format on her very own network.

HARRIS: Well, that would be terrific. It makes all of the sense in the world. Betty, appreciate it. Good information there. You're right, it was emotional.

We, of course, want to hear from you following this announcement from Oprah Winfrey. The queen of talk says she'll end her wildly popular television show in 2011, seen in 145 countries -- can you believe that. She has been a part of our lives for 25 years, so we want to know what is your favorite Oprah moment? Why don't you do this for us, post a comment on our blog, CNN.com/Tony, and we will share a few of your comments as many as we can, actually, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: This just into CNN, a Senate Ethics Committee making some news this morning. Let's get you quickly now to our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, who is following this story -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, and this has to do with Roland Burris, the democratic senator from Illinois who, of course, took Barack Obama's seat under a lot of controversy. The Senate Ethics Committee just issued a report on their investigation, and basically what they have said is that they do not believe that he violated the law. However, the Ethics Committee issued a statement and concluded that he actually said, wrote a letter, with a qualified admonition of Senator Burris.

And here is the reason why, the reason why is because, if our viewers can go back to the end of last year, the question was whether or not Roland Burris was honest about statements that he made saying that he never had any conversations with anybody in former-Governor Rod Blagojevich's land about whether or not he wanted this Senate seat. He initially had said even under sworn testimony back in Illinois that he had not, and it turned out there was a tape, which the Ethics Committee notes. There is specifically an audiotape of a conversation that Roland Burris had with the former governor's brother on November 13, 2008, where he was talking about raising money for the former governor and also making pretty clear he would like that Senate seat.

Now the Ethics Committee concluded that that was, again, not a violation of the law, but was pretty harsh in saying it was inappropriate, it does not reflect well on the Senate and that's why they issued a letter of qualified admonition for those actions for Roland Burris.

HARRIS: OK, our senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash for us. Dana, appreciate it. Thank you.

BASH: Thank you.

HARRIS: So earlier this month we learned the nation's unemployment rate hit double digits. Today, a new report shows how your state is faring. Susan Lisovicz is at the New York Stock Exchange for us with details.

Susan, great to see you. Is Michigan still getting the worst of it?

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Michigan, Tony, afraid so. It's still getting the worst of it with an unemployment rate of 15.1 percent in October. But that rate, as bad as it is, actually declined just a tad from September.

And get this, Tony, Michigan was number two of all 50 states in job creation. It added nearly 40,000 jobs in one month. Why is that? Well, we've been seeing that automakers have increased production due to rising demand and Michigan has been piling on tax incentives to lure businesses there. Some cases, of course, it's worked. Quicken Loans has moved its headquarters to downtown Detroit. It beat out Ohio because of tax credits.

Also, movies. They are welcoming Hollywood, big-time. Clint Eastwood's "Gran Torino" shot in Michigan. Portions of "Dream Girls" with your girl, Beyonce, shot in Michigan.

HARRIS: Hey, now.

(LAUGHTER)

LISOVICZ: Drew Barrymore, probably another girl, he movie, "Whip It," portions shot there. So it's working. Not enough to make up for the losses, but you are seeing job creation and those are sizable numbers in one month, Tony.

HARRIS: And what are you seeing in the other 49 states?

LISOVICZ: Well, we're seeing, unfortunately, that job picture darkened. The unemployment rate rose in 29 states in October. Behind Michigan, some of the usual suspects, Nevada, Rhode Island, California.

On the other hand, the lowest unemployment rates, again, the usual suspects, the Plains States. North and South Dakota, Nebraska, all with an unemployment rate of 5 percent or less. The housing crisis didn't see as much speculation and they're not as dependent on one industry, like say, the automobile industry or the casino industry. It's really helped them out in these tough times.

It's also tough sledding on Wall Street today. Stocks are down the third day in a row. The Dow, Nasdaq, the S&P 500 each down about half a percent right now, Tony, but coming off from some nice gains.

HARRIS: Have a great weekend. I think I'm going to see you next hour...

LISOVICZ: Hope so.

HARRIS: ... but if I don't, have a great weekend, Susan. Thanks.

Senior administration official telling CNN President Obama will not announce a new war strategy for Afghanistan until after thanksgiving. Meanwhile, more bloodshed there today. Police say 13 people killed in a suicide bombing. It happened outside of the governor's home in the largely desert Farah Province. That region near Iran's border has seen an increase in violence as Taliban militants have spread west from their strongholds.

We have been asking you, what do you think the U.S. should do next in Afghanistan? Let's hear some of your responses right now.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

CALLER: Hi. High name is Deborah calling from southeastern Virginia. I've lived in the Middle East and several countries and you have to understand the culture of the people. They do not bode well with new things and it takes time. I vote that you stay out of Afghanistan. Don't send anymore troops.

CALLER: I just think, unless Barack Obama has a clear view of what he's going to do, how much money he's going to be spending, what the exact mission is, we should just go ahead and pull out because I don't see that area getting any better or worse with or without us being there.

CALLER: Hi, Tony. My name is Rick from San Antonio. I'm retired military. I think that we should, if in fact if it requires more troops and that's what generals are requesting, that we take politics out of the picture, listen to our generals who are there on the ground and know what's going on firsthand and do what we need to do to try to resolve the current threat to our troops in those areas and go ahead and do what we have to do so that, hopefully, we can get out of there sooner.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

HARRIS: Love the calls, keep them coming, please. You can still voice your comments and there's the phone number for you, 1-877-742- 5760. Let us know what you think the U.S. should do next in Afghanistan.

Let's do this, let's get you caught up on top stories. A gunman went on the shooting spree on the Pacific resort island of Saipan. He killed four people and wounded six others before fatally shooting himself. The attacks happened at a shooting range and a World War II historical site.

This was the scene today at a television station in India. Hindu right-wing activists are suspected of this attack in Mumbai. They beat employees and smashed furniture. Pretty dramatic stuff here. The station is IBN Lokmat (ph), a sister channel of CNN IBN. Police say, seven men have been arrested and more arrests are likely.

It is official. An emotional Oprah Winfrey announced just last hour that she's ending her TV talk show after an incredible run of 25 years. She calls it the right time. Oprah plans to launch a cable television network, OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, in 2011.

Even if you're not a sports fan, you may have heard about this. A controversial call -- make that a no call -- has ignited a country. See that there. Movement in just the last couple of hours on what might be done to sort of calm the masses here. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS: Next week, we will honor our top ten CNN HEROES and announce 2009's Hero of the Year. But what does being the CNN Hero of the Year really mean? Last year's winner, Liz McCartney, shows us what a difference a year can make.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN HEROES.

TERRENCE HOWARD, ACTOR: Hello. I'm Terrence Howard. During last year's "CNN HEROES, AN ALL-STAR TRIBUTE" I had the honor of recognizing CNN's Hero of the Year Liz McCartney for her extraordinary work in helping survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Since then, her organization has built 50 more homes in New Orleans and nearly another 60 are under construction.

As we approach this year's tribute show, Thanksgiving night, let us look back at last year's CNN Hero of the Year, Liz McCartney.

LIZ MCCARTNEY: The HEROES Award was like a shot in the arm for the region. It reinvigorated people. It made them feel like across the country and around the world people still care. All sorts of doors have been opened for the project as a result of the award. Volunteers, clients, donors. I think every week people say I heard about the St. Bernard project on CNN HEROES.

In the greater New Orleans area, there are over 10,000 households that ate still struggling to secure permanent, stable housing. To date we've had over 16,000 volunteers. We are going to be celebrating the 240th home that we've completed. We've expanded our capacity. We're also building homes in New Orleans. But it also helped us start our center for wellness and mental health. So it helped us rebuild homes and also rebuild people's lives.

We're getting there, but there's still work to be done. A couple more years and we'll be there.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: Our 2009 CNN Hero of the Year and all of our amazing top ten CNN HEROES will be honored at an all-star tribute hosted by Anderson Cooper from the Kodak Theater in Hollywood on Thanksgiving night. It's a very special event that you will see only on CNN.

It is like a scene out of the 1960s, college students protesting. We will tell you what they're all fired up about this time.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: You know, dozens of college students in California made a trip to jail last night. They were arrested during an angry protest of state tuition fee hikes. They refused to vacate the University of California Davis administration building. The state's Board of Regents approved a 32 percent fee increase for the state university system. A year of undergraduate education will cost students more than $10,000 a year by next fall. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you pass this fee increase today, when I go home tonight to San Diego, I will have to drop all my classes because I cannot afford this anymore. You are not making this university affordable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Board members say they had no other option but to raise fees after years of state budget cuts.

An exclusive "AC360" investigation reveals how the Army's own rules on evidence gathering may have led to the murders of four Iraqis in 2007. Three decorated Army sergeants were convicted of premeditated murder, but now questions are being raised about the rules they had to follow for taking in detainees.

Special Investigations Unit correspondent Abbie Boudreau has a preview of tonight's story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ABBIE BOUDREAU, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT CORRESPONDENT: Many critics tell us the rules for gathering evidence put too much pressure on soldiers to be like police officers. I asked Brigadier General David Quantock, who oversees detainee operations in Iraq, about the training soldiers received before going to war.

BRIG. GEN. DAVID QUANTOCK, U.S. ARMY: We're asking them to take basic evidence, which they've been trained to do. Again, we've got the greatest soldiers in the world and I don't accept that they can't take basic evidence off of a -- off of a crime scene.

BOUDREAU: General, though, if it's so easy to collect this basic type of evidence, then why were so many detainees let out because of lack of evidence?

QUANTOCK: You know, we were -- we're trying to make the fight fit the Army as opposed to have the Army fit the fight. I think a lot of times we thought the insurgency would dissipate. We were working closely with the government of Iraq. We were trying to improve the Iraqi security forces. But at the end of the day, it didn't work out very well, we had to get better at taking evidence off the crime scene.

BOUDREAU: During our investigation we also obtained 23.5 hours of Army interrogation tapes, tapes you'll only see on CNN.

We'll have more on what's on those tapes, in our investigation in to the detainee policy tonight on "AC360."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: Abbie appreciate it, thank you. Next HOUR in the CNN NEWSROOM, "Class is in Session," how much does racism factor in to criticism of President Obama? It sparked a pretty heated debate between students from Georgia State.

Plus, I will talk with comedian, actress, and talk show host Sherri Shepherd about her experiences with diabetes. It is "What Matters," and it is coming up in the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: A new study says the amount of exercise our kids are getting hasn't changed much in the last 17 years, but they're still gaining weight. Why? Well, it comes down to calories.

Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, explains in our "Fit Nation" report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR, SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: While in many ways there's some logical conclusion to be drawn here, it is a case of good news and bad news.

First of all, the good news is that contrary to popular belief, teens and adolescents are actually not more sedentary than they were in years past. In fact, they might be getting slightly more physical activity and watching television slightly less. They might be spending more time on the computer and video games, but overall physical activity is slightly higher.

But the bad news is that, as we know, the obesity epidemic continues to grow. In fact, about a third of kids in this country are either overweight or obese now.

So what gives here? Well, as you might guess, it really has much more to do with diet. Diet may play a much bigger role when it comes to the obesity epidemic than activity than previously thought. A lot might have to do specifically with portion sizes.

For example, take a look here. When you talk about portions sizes for spaghetti, back in 1990, 500 calories, that was a typical portion, one cup of pasta and three meatballs. Go to 2010, 20 years later, it's more than doubled in terms of calories. Two cups of pasta now, lots of meatballs and a lot more calories as well.

Something else that's commonly eaten, cheeseburgers here. Back in 1990, 333 calories and then we've all seen these cheeseburgers almost 20 years later, almost double the number of calories. Again, the problem becoming a little bit more apparent.

Really quickly here, breakfast food as well is not immune to all this. Bagels, back in 1990 they are about three inches in size, 140 calories; they are 6 inches in size now, double, and again, more than twice as many calories.

Here is the problem, when you look at the obesity epidemic and you are trying to confirm is this more activity, is this more diet related, diet seems to be playing a bigger role.

Now it doesn't mean that the teenagers and the adolescents are getting enough activity. In fact, only about a third of teenagers and adolescents get the recommended amount activity as things stand now. And that's based on where things stand now. And that's based on self- reporting, that's where people actual report how much activity they're getting. It may overestimate overall.

We know that activity has a lot of benefits. It can reduce, obviously, some of the weight issues that we have, but also decrease the risk of developing early heart disease and early diabetes as well.

Message to parents and kids out there, though, even if your child is getting enough activity, really watch those portion sizes and watch those calories in and calories out.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: OK. Soccer's governing body, FIFA, says no to ire land's request for a replay of Wednesday's contentious World Cup playoff against France. TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: The French captain admits handling the ball as he set up the winning goal, but he blames the referee for missing it. Well, that's sportsmanship.

The Irish, as you can imagine, are livid, as are many other soccer fans across the global. FIFA insists that decisions by the referees are final. Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen wants to take it up with French President Sarkozy at an EU summit.

Could this come to blows?