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AMERICAN MORNING

New Body Raise Privacy Issues; Cold Snap Hurts Florida Citrus Growers; Secrets of the 2008 Campaign Revealed in New Book; Big Bonuses: Big Fury; Ben Stiller Launches Charity for Haiti Schools

Aired January 11, 2010 - 07:00   ET

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


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome. Glad you're with us on this Monday. It's January 11th. I'm Kiran Chetry.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Roberts. Thanks for being with us this morning, and here are this morning's top stories.

New concerns about privacy with those full-body scanners at airports. The TSA saying all along, the machines would not, could not store your private images. It turns out that's apparently not the case. A CNN exclusive straight ahead.

CHETRY: And the deep south still in a deep freeze, and record cold in Miami and other parts of Florida threatening the state's citrus crops. We're digging deeper on the damage. A live report from Ft. Lauderdale just ahead.

ROBERTS: And key players from the 2008 presidential election in the cross fire, a new book revealing nasty moments from the historic race, and this morning, Republicans are calling for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to step down after just one of those secrets was revealed. We're live with the fallout today.

CHETRY: But first a CNN exclusive. It turns out those full body airport scanners are capable of saving and storing those very personal images that they'll be taking of you. The TSA has been insisting all along that that's not the case, claiming the machines had no ability to save anything.

Our Jeanne Meserve is live in Washington this morning. So Jeanne, a letter that was written by and obtained from the TSA has some people now questioning the honesty, especially, of this program that some people were concerned about when it comes to privacy.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: This document set out the guidelines that manufacturers had to use to make the machines, and a privacy group says the government has misled the public about what the imaging machines can do.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE: The images produced by whole body scanners don't leave much to the imagination. But the Transportation Security Administration has said repeatedly, even on its own Web site, your privacy will be protected. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The system has no way to save, transmit, or print the image.

MESERVE: A 2008 press release says the machines have zero storage capability, but a TSA document written just three months earlier spelling out requirements for potential manufacturers said the machines had to have the capability to capture images of non- passengers for training and evaluation purposes.

The procurement document was recently obtained by EPIC, the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

MARC ROTENBERG, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, EPIC: We think it's obvious the machines are designed to restore and record images.

MESERVE (on camera): The TSA's been lying?

ROTENBERG: Yes. I would use a more polite word if I could but it would be less accurate.

MESERVE (voice-over): The document specifies that to protect privacy during passenger screening there will be no storage or exporting of images, but EPIC fears that the ability to save images during the test mode leaves open the potential for abuse by insiders and outsiders.

The document says the machines must have hard drives for storage, and USB ports and Ethernet connectivity that could allow downloading of images. An unspecified number of users, including TSA headquarters, maintenance contractors, and so called super users, have the ability to export raw image test data and can also change the ten privacy settings built into the machines.

ROTENBERG: I don't think the TSA has been forthcoming with the American public about the true capability of these devices.

MESERVE: TSA officials tell CNN, yes, the machines can retain and export images when they are at TSA testing facilities. But it says those functions are disabled by the manufacturer and machines are delivered to the airports without the capability to store, print, or transmit images.

The TSA says there is no way for someone in the airport environment to put the machine into the test mode or change the privacy filters. The TSA says all images are deleted from the system after they're reviewed by a remotely-located operator, and it says the machines are not networked and cannot be hacked.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE: But EPIC isn't satisfied. It wants to see the documents that prove these steps are being taken, that they're effective and that privacy is fully and completely protected. Until those questions are answered, the group says, the deployment of the machines should be halted. Kiran, back to you.

CHETRY: All right. Certainly not the last of this we'll be hearing about. Jeanne Meserve for us this morning. Thanks.

Scanner privacy is not the only controversy dogging the TSA these days. Last week's security breech at Newark Liberty shut down an entire terminal for six hours. Also just a week ago, sensitive TSA airport information found on the Internet about screening procedures for bombs and explosives residue in baggage.

That follows last month's breach when the TSA posted its entire operations manual online accidentally, and the inspector general of homeland security found the TSA failed for years to track security passes and uniforms of former employees which created widespread opportunities to terrorists. That was back in October of 2008.

ROBERTS: At four minutes after the hour, other stories new this morning. An emergency landing shuts down Newark Liberty International Airport. United flight 634 from Chicago skidded to a safe stop on the runway yesterday after the right side main landing gear failed to deploy properly.

No one was injured in the incident and passengers praised the pilot and crew for keeping everyone on board calm. United is offering full refunds for all 48 passengers on board.

CHETRY: And a warning for parents, some Chinese manufacturers are putting the dangerous metal cadmium in children's jewelry. The Associated Press conducted lab tests on more than 100 items purchased in New York, Ohio, California, and Texas and found levels of cadmium as high as 91 percent.

Cadmium is linked to some cancers and also has been known to affect brain development in younger children even more than lead. The consumer products safety commission says it's opening an investigation and will take action "as quickly as possible to protect the safety of children."

ROBERTS: The January thaw is coming, but that's cold comfort to Florida now, enduring frigid temperatures that have threatened the citrus crop there. Most of the country in fact is an icebox. This map showing all the states with below freezing temperatures in blue, that's an appropriate color.

So most Americans are as cold as the Rockies or even colder. Meantime, Florida citrus growers are scrambling to try to contain the crop damage. Our Martin Savidge is live at a very chilly Fort Lauderdale beach this morning, and those are not temperatures, Martin, you want to see while standing on Fort Lauderdale Beach.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Morning, John. How about this for beach attire? And yet I am told down here, and I actually know this, it is all the rage in south Florida, at least this week, mainly because, as you point out, the thermometer.

Take a look at that, it's 35 degrees here on the beach. In many other places down here it's a lot colder than that. We have a freeze warning and wind chill advisory that's in effect and will be at least until mid-morning. But when you get away from the beaches and get farther inland to the orchards and into the fields, it's been another nervous night.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAVIDGE: The prolonged, brutal cold is taking a toll on the sunshine state, and John Arnold is paying it. He's surveying the impact nights of below freezing temperatures have had on his family's citrus orchards in central Florida. A slice with a knife delivers the news.

JOHN ARNOLD, CITRUS FARMER: This is ruined. It's all ice there.

SAVIDGE: Arnold puts his loss at $500,000. Statewide, according to those who monitor the citrus industry, the damage is substantial, but so far not catastrophic. It will take weeks to determine what it may mean for consumers.

Florida is also the nation's second-largest producer of strawberries, which were close to their peak.

KEN ANDREWS, PARKSDALE FARMS: There's been very little harvesting because nothing can ripen in this type of weather.

SAVIDGE: Like the citrus crop, it's still too soon to tell.

And the cost of the cold adds up in other ways, like this fire that swept through 20 units of an apartment building in Jacksonville, blamed on a fireplace being used for heat.

Floridians will also pay for the cold in the next electric bill. Saturday night Florida power and light set an all-time record for consumption, shattering the previous one set in the summer of 2005.

And then there's the impact on tourism. One week is not a season, but many tourists will go home with less than warm memories, like Lisa and Brian Greg from Wisconsin.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Palm trees is the only reason I'm here, and the ocean.

SAVIDGE: But not everyone is unhappy with the cold. Scientist Frank Mazony is downright excited by it.

FRANK MAZZOTTI, SCIENTIST: This could be a game changer.

SAVIDGE: For years he has battled the python, which is upsetting the balance of nature in the Everglades. The cold may not kill them off, but could set the snake back quite a bit.

MAZZOTTI: What nature has done with this extended cold snap and with the rainy weather we've had is providing us with an experiment. There's no way we could have created this on our own.

SAVIDGE: You could call it the "slither lining" to an otherwise bitter cold. (END VIDEOTAPE)

SAVIDGE: And we want to show you one more unusual scene, take a look at this. This is a vessel sailing just off the coast amidst a steamy sea. Yesterday we saw surfers that were in the water, even though the wind chill of that particular time was about 25 degrees.

It will get warmer, they say, today. Hopefully the worst is behind us. But measuring the damage will still take time. John?

ROBERTS: I've never seen steam rising off the Atlantic before. That's pretty incredible. Martin Savidge for us in Ft. Lauderdale. Martin, thanks so much.

CHETRY: It's eight minutes past the hour.

(WEATHER BREAK)

ROBERTS: Coming up next, our Carol Costello reports on a brand- new book that's coming out this week. It's called, "Game change." It's moments from the 2008 election campaign that you might not have known about, along with some others that you did. It goes into much more detail and a lot of it is causing quite a stir in Washington.

And who better to stir up the pot than our Carol Costello this morning. She's just ahead. It's 10 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Hi, good morning, 12 minutes pa past the hour. Right now in Jacksonville it's clear and 31 degrees, so just a degree under freezing. It's going to be sunny and 51, so not bad compared to many parts of the country, but still, not Jacksonville weather.

ROBERTS: Martin Savidge was saying just a few moments ago it's 35 degrees on Ft. Lauderdale beach. So all those snowbirds down there for the good weather could have stayed home and saved some money.

As president Obama nears the end of his first term, a new book about the 2008 election campaign called "Game Change" could indeed be a game changer. Our Carol Costello is live in Washington, and Carol, Republicans seizing on remarks that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made about then-Senator Obama's race.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're smelling blood in the water, John. This is all about Senator Reid trying to dig himself out of a hole. He made a racially insensitive comment about the president, but, sorries aside, it isn't enough for Republicans. They're calling for the majority leader to step down, as in right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL STEEL, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: There's a big double standard here. And the thing about it that's interesting is that when Democrats get caught saying racist things, you know, an apology is enough. COSTELLO: The uproar stems from "Game Change," a book due out today. Senator Majority Leader Reid is quoted as saying then-Senator Obama would do well in the 2008 presidential election because "he's a light-skinned African-American and has no negro dialect unless he wanted to have one."

STEELE: Whether he steps down today or I retire him in November, either way he will not be the leader in 2011.

COSTELLO: Senator Reid immediately made a public apology, including one to President Obama for the comments leaked on Friday. Tim Kaine, Chairman of the DNC, says Democrats have put the issue behind them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The comments were unfortunate, and they were insensitive. I think Senator Reid stepped up, acknowledged that they were wrong, apologized to the president. He's accepted the apology and we're moving on.

COSTELLO: Senator Reid's comments about the president and race drew comparisons to those made by then Senator Joe Biden in 2007 when he said Obama is, quote, "The first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy." Biden apologized.

And there were more controversial revelations in "Game Change." Then-Senator Hillary Clinton initially refused the secretary of state job because of Bill Clinton. The authors told "60 Minutes" last night...

JOHN HEILEMANN, "NEW YORK MAGAZINE": At that point she says "There's one last thing that's a problem, which is my husband. You've seen what this is like. It will be a circus if I take this job. There will be a new controversy every day that you'll have to deal with."

MARK HALPERIN, "TIME" MAGAZINE: You have Hillary Clinton saying something she says to almost no one, admitting that her husband is a problem. In the same time, Obama comes back and shows vulnerability to her. He says to her, given the economic crisis, given all I have to deal with, I need your help.

COSTELLO (voice-over): The authors also say according to unnamed sources, then vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin was ill-prepared when prepping for network interviews.

HEILEMANN: She still didn't really understand why there was a North Korea and South Korea. She was still regularly saying that Saddam Hussein had been behind 9/11.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO: Oh, this book has Washington talking and it's likely the chatter will get louder today. The book is full of all sorts of juicy revelations. We did contact Governor Palin's people. They told us the governor described these events in her own book "Going Rogue" and that her descriptions were accurate, not these authors' descriptions. And she ought to know because she was there and they weren't there.

As for Senator Reid's comments, the Congressional Black Caucus, this is from the chairwoman. She said this, John. "There is a deep unease about race which cannot be swept under the rug. I appreciate Senator Reid's apology and look forward to our continuing work." So I guess if you want to boil it down, the Democrats have accepted Senator Reid's apology and the Republicans have not.

ROBERTS: But speaking to the accuracy of this book, and I know both of the authors here, I mean, Harry Reid came forward and pretty much said, yes, what they said in the book was absolutely accurate. So if one part of the book is accurate, could we logically assume that they probably applied the same standard to the rest of the information they got?

COSTELLO: I guess we'll have to leave that up to the readers.

ROBERTS: All right. Carol Costello for us this morning. Carol, thanks.

COSTELLO: Sure.

CHETRY: Alina Cho with her big stars, big giving series. She features Ben Stiller and his "Stillerstrong" campaign and he's trying to use his comedy to really help a serious cause.

Sixteen minutes past the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're not in Kansas anymore. You're on Pandora.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You should see your faces.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have an indigenous population called the Navi. They are very hard to kill.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: And I found myself eating my words after saying I wasn't going to see it, because I saw it and it was really amazing, actually.

James Cameron's 3D sci-fi epic "Avatar" is still flying high at the box office. The film stayed number one this weekend for the fourth week in a row. It's now pulled in $429 million just here in the U.S. and $1.3 billion worldwide. "Sherlock Holmes" was second in ticket sales, followed by "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel."

All right. I'm sticking by I'm not seeing that one. But, you know, "Avatar" is expensive when you go see it in 3D. I mean, it's 16 bucks.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: Wow.

CHETRY: Yes. So I mean...

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS: CORRESPONDENT: It's expensive but it was really good.

ROBERTS: Yes.

CHETRY: You saw it, too.

ELAM: Yes.

CHETRY: There you go.

ROBERTS: Hey, just before we go any further, a quick correction. In introducing Carol Costello, I said that President Obama was nearing the end of his first term. That would be his first year. Monday, Monday.

ELAM: It's Monday.

ROBERTS: Oh, yes.

Stephanie Elam here "Minding Your Business." I've got the case of the Monday blues when we think about the amount of money that some people are going to be taking home.

ELAM: There are some unhappy people all over. There's unhappy on Main Street. There's unhappy people on Wall Street. There's unhappy people on the capitol. A lot of people unhappy about the bonus season that is upon us now. And really, if you take a look at it, you've got the banks, who, some of which have had record revenue years.

Believe it or not, I know it's just a year ago that we had all that drama. And now they're looking at paying their employees. And some people are saying that this is just too much and that Wall Street just does not get it, after being bailed out, that they need to do something about how they're handing out these bonuses.

So Christina Romer was on "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JOHN KING." This is what she had to say about the situation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINA ROMER, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: No one wanted to bail out the banks just for the banks' sake. It's because we know that credit is the life blood of a modern economy and without it families can't get loans to buy cars or send their kids to school and small businesses can't get loans. So we know that the financial sector matters. But at the same time, right, we have had to take these extraordinary actions, and you would certainly think that financial institutions that are now doing a little bit better would have some sense. And this big bonus season, of course, is going to offend the American people. It offends me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ELAM: So you have two sides of the story. You've got the banks which are saying, hey, our bonus pool is the smallest ever based on the percentage of revenues that it makes up. But as the same time, a lot of people are poised to get bonuses that will rival pre-meltdown numbers of 2007. Their actual dollar amount would be huge, so the banks are trying to counter this with a couple of ways.

One thing they're trying to do is race base salaries for a lot of these employees because for most people on Wall Street they get most of the money through bonuses, so they're trying to change that structure there a bit. And for a lot of these employees, they're also going to get more stock than they're going to get in cash and that also has employees sort of upset. So no one is really going to be happy this bonus season.

ROBERTS: Describing it sort of sounds like the same logic the White House used to use in describing the deficit. Sure, it's $450 billion. Hey, but it's only 3.5 percent of GDP.

ELAM: Right. If you break it down by percentage though, most people don't think of it that way. They're just looking at how many hundreds of thousands of dollars it is.

ROBERTS: Of course now with White House doesn't even talk about the deficit anymore.

ELAM: Any more, yes. That sense it would help, though.

ROBERTS: Why would they?

ELAM: Yes.

ROBERTS: Stephanie "Minding Your Business" this morning, thanks.

ELAM: Sure.

CHETRY: Still ahead, Proposition 8 in California, another major test today and major backing from an unlikely source. Dan Simon reports.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: So what have we learned about Lady Gaga?

CHETRY: She can sing.

ROBERTS: She was born in New York City.

CHETRY: Yes, great musician. ROBERTS: Not hawking for Direct TV. I'm getting it. I'm getting it.

Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Twenty-five minutes after the hour. Top stories just about five minutes away.

But first an "A.M. Original," something that you'll see only on AMERICAN MORNING. And this week we are highlighting celebrities who do more than just talk the talk when it comes to giving back.

CHETRY: That's right. Today, it's actor Ben Stiller, and only he can pull this off. He watched a parody of a charity. It's actually raising a lot of money.

Our Alina Cho is here to explain right now. It's part of her series "Big Stars, Big Giving." Still have my "Stillerstrong" headband. Thank you.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's good. "Stillerstrong" anyone? Sounds familiar?

Guys, good morning. You know Ben Stiller, as many people know, one of the funniest people on the planet. So when he started to think about philanthropy, he wondered why not use comedy to try to make a difference? Guess what? It's working.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHO (voice-over): He makes a living making people laugh.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "ZOOLANDER")

BEN STILLER, ACTOR: Well, I guess the look I'm best known for is "blue steel."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: But talk about philanthropy and suddenly a side of Ben Stiller few see.

(on camera): You were actually skeptical about philanthropy.

BEN STILLER, ACTOR: Yes. I think I've always come at it from a pretty cynical point of view, maybe just charity fund-raisers and the whole show business aspect of it. I've made fun of it in the past, but I think as you see what's going on in our world, it's kind of hard to sit back and not do anything.

CHO (voice-over): It all began in summer. The actor traveled to Haiti with the charity Save the Children. He saw how kids didn't have access to clean water, how they weren't going to school, and he wanted to help.

STILLER: It's really sort of overwhelming when you see the level of poverty that these people are living with every day. It's just a different reality. CHO (on camera): They know who you are.

STILLER: Not, not really. Some do, most don't, though. I mean, it's --

CHO: Most don't.

STILLER: Yes.

CHO: Really?

STILLER: Yes, it's not about me. I think these people are more focused on just getting through their day.

CHO (voice-over): The problem is serious. But Stiller, by nature, is not. So when he thought about how to raise money, he turned to what he does best. Comedy.

STILLER: And basically I'm going to --

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHO: Well, as you can see, that's a "Stillerstrong" headband, a parody of Lance Armstrong's Live Strong Foundation. Live Strong, of course, sells those wristbands that they sold about 80,000 -- 80 million of those, rather.

"Stillerstrong" launched just about six weeks ago. We're sorry, by the way, for that technical difficulty but we'll try to get to the whole story later.

Already the charity has raised $200,000. That's thanks to one big donation from the luxury goods company Bulgari. Several small donations, and guys that's about two-thirds of the money needed to build one school in Haiti.

Right now, I'm pretty glad that we first brought you that story, the entire story about three weeks ago. So some viewers were able to see. We'll bring you the full story again in about an hour. But it's incredible, guys, just in three weeks he's raised $50,000 more. And so if he stays on this pace, they'll be building a lot more than just one school in Haiti.

ROBERTS: That's terrific though.

CHO: They'll be building a lot.

CHETRY: It sure is. And he's using, as you said, I mean he tried to find a way -- what am I good at? And he used comedy to end up raising money for his charity.

CHO: And not just that, guys. People who watch philanthropy say that what he's doing with Twitter and social media, Facebook and the like...

CHETRY: Right. CHO: ... is really the future of philanthropy. And you don't think about Ben Stiller as being groundbreaking, but he is groundbreaking in the philanthropy world. That's really incredible.

CHETRY: No one thought that about with Ashton Kutcher either. Nobody did. All right.

CHO: Look at how many followers he has.

CHETRY: Alina Cho, thanks so much.

CHO: You bet.

CHETRY: If you like more on Alina's interview with Ben Stiller, including why he has a beef with Matt Damon, head to our blog, CNN.com/amFIX.

ROBERTS: Coming up now in the half hour. In fact, it is almost exactly 7:30 Eastern. That means it's time for this morning's top stories.

The U.S. military reportedly drowning in information that's pouring in from unmanned drones. "The New York Times" says that they collected so much video over Iraq and Afghanistan last year that U.S. intelligence is having trouble keeping up with it all. It reportedly adds up to 24 years of surveillance if you were to watch all of the tapes back to back.

Northern California hit with its strongest earthquake in six years, a magnitude 6.5. The surveillance video shows the panic at a store at Humboldt County on Saturday as shelves and light fixtures sway and people hurry out.

It caused few injuries and little major damage for a quake this size. Experts say it could have been much worse but the quake was centered about 25 miles off shore.

Politically power labor leaders will be at the White House today. They want President Obama to get rid of a piece of the Senate health care bill that would tax so-called Cadillac insurance plans. The tax would help pay for the overall plan to cover 34 million American who currently do not have health insurance.

Critics say it could hit the middle class hard, and many unions fought for and have these high-end plans. So obviously a point of some controversy here.

And now let's hand it over to Kiran.

CHETRY: John, thanks.

As Democrats try to hammer out a final version of the health care bill, you have a lot of critics complaining about the lack of transparency. As a candidate you'll remember that President Obama promised health care negotiations would be open to the American public to see for themselves. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: But what we will do is we'll have the negotiations televised on C-Span so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents and who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: That was a very popular promise at the time. So are the politics as usual going to damage President Obama's promise to be different? I'm joined by "New York Times" Nicholas Kristof. He supports the health care bill as it stands now.

And also with us from Washington, "Time" magazine national political correspondent Karen Tumulty. Great to see both of you this morning. Thanks for being with us.

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Great to be here.

KAREN TUMULTY, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Thank you.

CHETRY: So the transparency pledge, it was very popular at the time to say let's see some of this out in the open, because we are a little bit jaded when it comes to things being hammered out in back room deals and in the end no one's really sure why things were decided on the way they were.

Does this hurt the president if indeed Congress goes forward with doing this behind the scenes?

KRISTOF: I think to some degree it hurts him politically. I think he shouldn't have actually made that promise. One of the things you learn as a journalist whether you're covering a negotiation over health care, a negotiation over nuclear weapons with North Korea or Iran, is that when people talk to you, that means they're not serious.

When they actually are quiet and they are really negotiating behind closed doors and it's not transparent, that's an indication that they're actually serious and are willing to make the kinds of compromises to get a deal done.

So I think the only way you're going to get these compromises to get a health care package worked out is to have it be a nontransparent process.

CHETRY: But isn't it cynical, then, Karen, to say nothing's going to get done and the American people really shouldn't see how our laws are made?

TUMULTY: Well, I mean, that promise, that campaign promise was a bit of demagoguery, and it's certainly something that a sitting U.S. senator should have known better that that couldn't happen. But the fact is this deal is not going to get done unless it goes behind closed doors. That's one of the reasons, for instance, that the house and Senate leaders have decided to avoid the textbook process of even going to a conference committee. They know that they need momentum on this deal, they need to get it done as quickly as possible.

So I think at this point they are picking expedience over transparency just in hopes of getting this thing to the finish line some time soon.

CHETRY: And why is it, explain Nicholas why it is so critical right now for some health care reform bill to pass. I know that the state of the union is one of the markers, but then you're also looking at the 2010 elections, the midterm elections, where there is a lot of fear over whether or not they are going to continue to have the 60 seats needed in the Senate to make something happen.

KRISTOF: It's certainly crucial for the future of the Democratic Party to have something to show for it, but more importantly, this is crucial for the American public.

There was a Harvard study that was published in December that showed more than 40,000 Americans each year die prematurely because of lack of access to health care. We've got a huge problem with lack of access, and we have a huge problem with the rising health care costs.

I'd say that the Obama care proposal certainly doesn't resolve either problem, but it does begin to make some serious steps in both directions.

CHETRY: And Karen, one of the other questions though is at what cost. You have Senator Ben Nelson, he took a lot of heat basically because some are saying, you know, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California, is basically saying you're almost paying for a vote here. You're agreeing he'll get extra Medicaid funding to support this bill.

And now Senator Ben Nelson is saying whatever Nebraska gets every state's going to get it. How can that really happen in practical terms?

TUMULTY: Well, it can't. But the fact is the governors do have a legitimate complaint here. A number of them are on the phone last week with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid because, as this gets implemented, and Nick is right, it's a big monumental change, but it's not going to happen, most of it, for about four years.

And it's going to happen on a state level. The states are going to have a lot of responsibility and a lost additional financial burden. And I think they have a legitimate beef here, that if Washington is going to put this on them, then Washington has to do a better job of helping them pay for it, because they're budgets are all underwater at the moment.

CHETRY: And so how do they pay for it? Many promises are being made, as we talked about the backroom deals. If it's good enough for Nebraska, why isn't it good for everybody else, to have the federal government take in a greater share to pay for Medicare?

KRISTOF: I think they'll have to move in that direction. The question is how far and how you define the new entrants, which are issues that they're debating about, and the House bill has been more generous than the Senate. Large states come out differently than small.

And there's going to be political compromise here, hashed out, there will be new charges. But states I think at the end of the day are going to have to -- they're not going to get a Nebraska deal, they are going to end up with a greater burden than they have now.

CHETRY: It's one of the things Governor Schwarzenegger was crying about yesterday, or he was lamenting is a good way to put it, on "Meet the Press" saying we're getting punished for being a big state, a prosperous state, and it's not fair.

Karen, how much sway do state governors have over what ends up happening behind the scenes in Congress?

TUMULTY: Yes, I think they have a lot of sway, because they can go to their congressional delegations.

And again, this plan is not going to work unless the states are able to implement it. One of the versions of the bill, they have to set up these purchasing exchanges.

One of the reasons that so many people are being moved on to the Medicaid program in, especially in the House bill, is that this is the cheapest and most efficient way to cover people of modest means. That has to be done by the states.

CHETRY: A couple of other issues sure to come up, Nick, is one of them, "The Wall Street Journal" did an article a couple days ago talking about the, quote, "marriage penalty," showing that basically if you stay unmarried and you're making a lower income salary you're better off.

If you had a combined income, meaning two people making $25,000 and living together pay less for their health care if they have to buy it on the open exchange than lets' say them being married and bringing in $50,000 for their household. A marriage penalty is not something that the Democrats really want to be associated with.

KRISTOF: Right, absolutely. As with the tax code, you have a real problem creating neutrality for a couple. And so you tend to have either a marriage penalty at some moments or a widow penalty at others, where a single person -- it's really hard to achieve that neutrality. They've got to do better on that.

But I also think that we need some perspective. If you think back to when Medicare was brought in 1965, there were all these kinds of real problems with it, and there were legitimate criticisms. But at the end of the day, when we looked back, the real achievement was the fact that we hugely expanded health care for Americans over 65 and made a dramatic transformation in the state of American health care.

CHETRY: And you think that will still happen.

KRISTOF: Yes, I think that this is going to make real strides that will benefit Americans. We will look back on it with pride.

CHETRY: Karen, do you think it's going to happen by the State of the Union address or before?

TUMULTY: I doubt it by the State of the Union address. I think it's probably going to drag into February. But I do think there will be a bill, and I do think that it's going to get a lot of people covered who don't have coverage now. The real question is how effective it's going to be in containing these health care costs.

CHETRY: All right, Karen Tumulty, Nicholas Kristof, great to talk to both of you, as always. Thanks.

KRISTOF: Thank you.

CHETRY: John?

ROBERTS: Coming up on 38 minutes after the hour. A big court case in California today revolving around Proposition 8 and whether or not the ban against same-sex marriage is constitutional. Well, supporters of same-sex marriage are getting support from an unlikely person. Our Dan Simon tells you who that is coming right up. Stay with us.

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ROBERTS: Coming up on 42 minutes after the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

America's first trial to decide whether same-sex couples have the right to get married begins in a federal courtroom in San Francisco. And taking up the case for gay marriage, two unlikely former political foes. That story now from our Dan Simon.

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DAN SIMON, CORRESPONDENT: John and Kiran, good morning.

The plaintiffs in this case are going to be arguing inside this federal courthouse that the constitution prevents states from restricting marriage to a man and a woman, and making the case is someone you would least expect.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SIMON: He's a staunch conservative who backs same-sex marriage, yet Ted Olson says there's nothing inconsistent about that. TED OLSON, FORMER SOLICITOR GENERAL: This gives us an opportunity, they call it a teaching moment these days.

SIMON: Ted Olson's teaching moment will take place on the 17th floor of the federal courthouse in San Francisco. It's where the former solicitor general will argue to a judge that Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage, violates the U.S. constitution.

California voters narrowly approved the ban in November, 2008. Though the California Supreme Court upheld the vote, it said those who had already gotten married, 18,000 couples, could remain so in the eyes of the state, little consolation to backers of gay rights.

SIMON (on camera): Why do you feel so many of your fellow conservatives are still on the other side of this issue?

OLSON: Because I haven't had a chance to talk to them all yet.

SIMON (voice-over): He jokes, but Olson has made it a goal to try to convince more conservatives.

OLSON: The first thing to think about is the right to marry is a fundamental right in the United States. It's a right that's protected by the constitution. The Supreme Court has held over and over again that it may be one of our most fundamental rights, to unite with the person that you love, to form a partnership.

ANDREW PUGNO, "PROTECT MARRIAGE": I think it's bewildering for conservatives to see Ted Olson do this, but that's a decision he's made.

SIMON: Andrew Pugno is the lawyer for an organization called "Protect Marriage," the group that came up with Prop 8.

PUGNO: And 7 million Californians voted to preserve or restore what marriage has meant since the beginning of time. And if they're not permitted to do something as basic as that, then there's something really wrong with our system.

SIMON: The fiery case has attracted even more attention because of Ted Olson's co-counsel, his onetime adversary David Boies. Does the case Bush versus Gore ring a bell? Olson represented Bush, Boies represented Gore.

For those against Prop 8, the partnership represents something of a dream team. The two appeared together last year on "LARRY KING LIVE."

DAVID BOIES, PLAINTIFFS' ATTORNEY: We both believe and both recognize that this is a critical civil rights issue.

SIMON: Olson, now in private practice in Washington, represents CNN's parent company Turner Broadcasting in an ongoing legal matter.

Whatever the judge decides in San Francisco, both sides believe this is just one of a few stops before the case ultimately reaches the Supreme Court.

This case is also notable because it's believed to be the first time a judge has allowed in cameras. It won't be broadcast live, though, instead under a project pilot the testimony will be uploaded to YouTube. The trial is expected to last two to three weeks.

John and Kiran, back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: Dan Simon for us this morning. Dan, thanks.

CHETRY: Meanwhile, it's 45 minutes past the hour. Rob's going to have this morning's travel forecast right after the break.

ROBERTS: And in 10 minutes' time, time for an "AM House Call". Is your child's favorite movie setting a bad example? Elizabeth Cohen joins us with a startling new study out this morning that you'll want to hear about.

You're watching the Most News in the Morning. Stay with us.

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CHETRY: Chicago, it's (INAUDIBLE) this morning, where it is clear. It's 20 degrees. Flurries, a high of 25. That's fine for Chicago, it's just not supposed to be like that in Fort Lauderdale, right?

ROBERTS: Exactly. Chicagoans know how to handle that sort of weather.

CHETRY: They sure do.

ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

Pickpocketers were, oh, somewhat out of luck yesterday because there weren't a lot of pockets or pants for that matter on the subway. It was the Ninth Annual No Pants Day here in New York. There were subway riders with nothing but overcoats and Speedos, and girls in business coats and booty shorts, despite temperatures being in the 20s. Here in AMERICAN MORNING, we call this a typical Friday.

CHETRY: Exactly. That's why we have a desk, because you can never tell.

It's 48 minutes past the hour. You get a check of this morning's weather headlines. Rob Marciano is in the Extreme Weather Center this morning for us.

Hey, Rob. You might want to head to Chicago to get some nice sun and warmth.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, that's -- yes. Temperatures there not as cold as they have been, I guess you'd say, but not entirely warm. We're starting this very, very slow process of warming things up.

We have a little bit of snow heading across the Great Lakes. This isn't going to amount to a whole lot, maybe a couple of inches in spots. Notice temperatures across the I-95 corridor still in the 20s and teens in spots, but behind this weak front, to tell you how weak it is, it's not a whole lot of cold there. So that's the good news. We're not getting a re-enforcing shot of cold air.

Still, across the South, temperatures are -- are slow to moderate, teens and 20s in some cases, records, again, across parts of the Southeast. And in Florida, they'll probably set a few records again today. These are from yesterday, Gainesville, 19; Apalachicola, 23. Right now, in Tallahassee, it's 15 degrees, so that dangerous cold air for the crops down there and in some cases critters and people, will continue.

There's your next reinforcing shot of cool air, but not all that cold, so we'll start to see temperatures get a little bit close to what we expect this time of year, right about Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Meantime, daytime (ph) highs in New York will be 33, 41 in Atlanta and eventually getting to 60 in Miami. Right now, they are shivering in the mid-30s.

John and Kiran, back up to you.

ROBERTS: Comparatively speaking, 60 is a beach day, no question about that.

MARCIANO: Yes.

CHETRY: There you go. Great job.

ROBERTS: Rob, thanks.

This morning's top stories just minutes away, including, top of the hour, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid apologizing for a quote about race that could cost him his seat if Republicans have their way. We'll go inside a book of the '08 election that is shaking up Washington this morning.

CHETRY: And at 8:10 Eastern, the next front in the war against al Qaeda. Christiane Amanpour goes one-on-one with the commander of US forces in the Middle East about whether troops could be called to Yemen.

ROBERTS: And at 8:38, a CNN Exclusive, is the TSA saving information that comes from body scanners that can see, well, as you can see, pretty much everything. Why we may have been mislead about what these machines can do and why it may not be worth it anyways.

Those stories and more coming your way at the top of the hour.

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ROBERTS: Fifty-three and a half minutes after the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Time now for an "AM House Call", and a new study shows that Hollywood is doing more to send the right message about safety to your kids, but they could sill be doing a whole lot better.

Let's bring in our Senior Medical Correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen. So the study looked at movie scenes that depict potentially dangerous scenarios. What were some of the improvements here, Elizabeth, that Hollywood has been making?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, what's interesting is that Hollywood really hasn't done a great job in the past. I know, as a parent, I watch movies with my kids, and I see they're showing, for example, children in a car not wearing a seatbelt and I -- I want to yell at the screen and say what are you doing? Kids copy what they see in the movie.

But this new study by the Centers for Disease control shows that movies are actually doing better, that there are more movies like this one. This is a 2005 movie called "Yours, Mine and Ours" with Dennis Quaid and Renee Russo. They depict the family on a boat, and all the children on the boat, as you can see, are wearing life vests. So that's a great improvement.

And, in general, this study looked at 67 movies, and here's what they found. They found that more and more people are being depicted using things like personal flotation devices, seatbelts, crossing in crosswalks rather than in random places along the street, and also wearing bicycle helmets. So that definitely is good news for parents and for kids.

ROBERTS: So are most -- are most movies doing it right now? Did most movies have good safety messages?

COHEN: You know, John, unfortunately not. Unfortunately, it is just 50/50, according to the study. Fifty percent do it right, like we just saw, 50 percent still aren't doing it right.

ROBERTS: So, if a parent is watching a movie with their children and they noticed that the safety messages aren't exactly as good as they could be, what should a parent do to counsel the child about what they're seeing on the screen?

COHEN: All right. Well, John, I'm going to give you an example. This is a movie that Ice Cube was in where there was not such a great safety message. What happened is that the character in this movie, "Are We There Yet?" was riding in a horse, and, at some point you'll see -- he's not wearing a helmet. He's wearing a little hat, but not a helmet. He is about to get thrown from this horse, and later he walks away. That's quite a fall, but he walks away. So what you can do is you can say to your child, you know, Ice Cube walked away, but in real life, if that happened to you or me, we could be paralyzed, or even worse.

So you want to talk about what's happened in the movie and talk about the difference between movies and real life.

ROBERTS: You could also say don't ride your horse close to a train, either, but that would be too obvious.

COHEN: That would be another good piece of advice.

ROBERTS: Elizabeth Cohen for us this morning. Elizabeth, thanks so much.

COHEN: Thanks.

ROBERTS: Kiran.

CHETRY: John, thanks.

Well, your top stories are coming up in just 90 seconds.

Fifty-six minutes past the hour.

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