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@THISHOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

The Noises in the Sea; Bombing Survivor Walks Tall, Dances; Obama Takes Action on Equal Pay

Aired April 8, 2014 - 11:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: @ THIS HOUR, search crews coming up empty as they try desperately to relocate those pinging sounds that they hoped would lead them to flight 370's black boxes deep in the Indian Ocean. Now, this setback comes as the search enters its second month.

Right now, the search zone is drastically scaled back, reduced to about 30,000 square miles. One expert says instead of looking at an area the size of Texas, crews are now searching an area about the size of Houston.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Smaller area, still slow, meticulous work. Fourteen ships, 14 aircraft were involved in today's search. They're on borrowed time now with the 30-day batteries on the plane's flight recorders either dead or dying.

Australia's defense minister says they are holding nothing back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID JOHNSTON, AUSTRALIAN DEFENSE MINISTER: You can be assured that we are throwing everything at this difficult, complex task in at least these next several days while we believe the two pingers involved are still active.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PEREIRA: One of the many reasons searchers might not hearing pings is because the ocean is a noisy place under the surface. Other sounds could be drowning out any signals coming from the data recorders. Our Rosa Flores has become a bit of an oceanographer herself. She got a chance to take a look.

What is all going on under there that's causing the sort of competing noises?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, I talked to several ocean engineers. And they tell me, we can't say is a loud place, but we can definitely say that it's a noisy place. And there are a lot of noises, several levels of noises. And they're competing against each other.

They gave me examples. For example, sea life. And in this particular case, in the Indian Ocean, there is a species of dolphins, for example, that sounds very much like the pinger. So remember the pings that we had heard from the Chinese. Several ocean engineers from around the country told me the same thing, that's what they thought that probably is, because there is a species of dolphins in this particular place that sounds like that.

And then think about this. Just ships and ship noise -- at any point in time -- and let's be conservative here -- there's about 15,000 ships in the world's oceans.

PEREIRA: And sound travels through water differently.

FLORES: And so it creates not only this noise, but they describe it as a rumble. So there's a rumble in the ocean just because of ship noise.

And then they said the most intense noise is rain. And it sounds more like static underwater.

PEREIRA: That's funny.

FLORES: That is. That is. So it's the -- think of -- remember the black and white TVs?

When you...

PEREIRA: You remember that, don't you?

FLORES: -- when you were -- you remember that, John. When you heard -- or when you saw snow, that static, you know, that's what it sounds like. That's what rain sounds like under water, so it can be very confusing.

PEREIRA: That's very interesting.

BERMAN: Thanks, grandma, black and white TVs.

Let me ask you about the distance now, though, because these black boxes, because if they are where they're looking right now, could be three miles under the surface of the ocean.

How does noise travel from that far away from that depth?

FLORES: Now, this is one of the fascinating questions that I had, too, because I thought, OK, so how does noise travel, right?

So here is the easiest way to put it. They said low pitch sounds travel farther. So that's why you hear whales, you know, at far distances.

High pitch sounds travel very -- they don't travel as far.

PEREIRA: OK.

FLORES: And the pinger is a high pitched noise.

PEREIRA: Right. FLORES: So that's why we hear experts say, oh, it's a two mile radius.

PEREIRA: And they talked about the fact that they chose a frequency for the pinger because it wasn't like other sounds found in nature.

FLORES: And then I -- and you're probably thinking about this, too, because you mentioned the ocean perhaps three miles deep, right?

So I asked -- I posed this question. I said, OK, so if the pinger is at the bottom of the ocean and it's three -- or two miles deep and this radius is two miles, what does that mean at the surface?

You see what I'm saying?

What does that mean?

And then he put it like this. This is like going to Vegas and winning the lottery, because if you're at the surface, you'd have to be on top of the pinger.

BERMAN: Are they encouraged at all about -- the experts that you're talking to -- that they detected these things, the regularity, the frequency?

Any of that give them reason to be encouraged?

FLORES: Well, they are encouraged about the longer periods of time. Whenever we hear searchers say, OK, it's an extended period of time...

PEREIRA: Sure.

FLORES: -- then they said yes, that's a lot more credible. These individual pings...

PEREIRA: Not so much.

FLORES: -- there's sea life that sounds very much like it in this particular part of the Indian Ocean.

PEREIRA: We talked about the currents. Now we're talking about how noise is affected under -- under sea. Of course, really fascinating.

BERMAN: Yes. And tomorrow, nuclear physics...

(CROSSTALK)

FLORES: OK. Yes, I'll be back.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Thank you very much.

FLORES: You've got it.

PEREIRA: Oh, John, I love it. Ahead on this hour, what a tremendous story we have to share with you. Dance instructor Adrian Haslet-Davis, she lost part of her leg in the Boston Marathon bombing almost a year ago. She didn't just fulfill her vow to walk again, she got back to doing what is he loves to do -- dancing.

BERMAN: And even more than that, she taught Anderson Cooper how to dance. Maybe the most impressive feat of all.

We'll have that when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So stand up for me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does it hurt?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. She's standing on her own.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So what do you feel?

So what I need you to differentiate -- are you OK?

ADRIAN HASLET-DAVIS, BOSTON MARATHON SURVIVOR: Doing good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're doing good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PEREIRA: Doing good, indeed.

That was Boston Marathon bombing survivor, Adrian Haslet-Davis, standing for the first time on a prosthetic leg after losing part of her leg in the Boston Marathon bombing.

BERMAN: You know, that's just one of the many powerful scenes in tonight's raw, honest and, at times, I do have to say, heartbreaking documentary, "The Survivor Diaries."

It airs at 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

It is riveting. I cannot tell you enough, it is riveting television. You will not want to miss this. It follows the ups and downs of Adrian's recovery.

PEREIRA: And let's tell you, her mission wasn't just to walk again. She had a goal to get back to her job and her passion, dancing.

She joins us now.

And it's such a delight to see you again.

HASLET-DAVIS: Thank you so much.

It's wonderful to see you, too.

PEREIRA: You told me a little earlier that this -- when I asked you how you're doing, you said you have more good days than bad. We know that it's an emotional journey and we know it's a physical journey.

How are you doing almost a year out?

HASLET-DAVIS: I'm doing -- I'm doing well. I can't believe I hear you say a year out and I want to correct you, as if it was last week. It's very -- it's very hard to wrap my head around the fact that it's been a year.

BERMAN: Can we talk about the fact (INAUDIBLE) a year, the anniversary, because the marathon is, I guess, two weeks away, two weeks from yesterday.

When you look at that date on the calendar, what does mean to you right now?

HASLET-DAVIS: You know, it's -- it's tough. I think it means -- it means a lot. I am not quite sure how I'm going to feel that day. I think having it be a year is a significant milestone. However, other people that were a little bit more separated from the attacks can think, wow, I can't believe it's been a year. But for me, I live it every day. So I can tell you, it's been this many days or it's been this many days since Adam had returned last year from Afghanistan, or, yes. And so it -- it's tough. It's tough.

PEREIRA: I want to talk about your husband a little bit.

HASLET-DAVIS: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

PEREIRA: He's amazing.

HASLET-DAVIS: He's pretty amazing. He is.

PEREIRA: He was injured, as well.

HASLET-DAVIS: He was very badly injured.

PEREIRA: And he has been by your side and the two of you have been together in your healing. And that probably has been a pretty powerful thing to do together.

HASLET-DAVIS: It really is...

PEREIRA: And also very difficult.

HASLET-DAVIS: It is really powerful and -- and really difficult at the same time. You know, I have said many times there's no one I would ever wish this upon. And yet I am so thankful that it's him, if someone else had to be by my side and to go through something so deep.

PEREIRA: And a certain level of irony that he returned from a dangerous place in the world to come home to be by your side at a -- what's supposed to be a fun gathering...

HASLET-DAVIS: Yes.

PEREIRA: And this happens.

HASLET-DAVIS: Absolutely. We were just out enjoying the day on a date. Of course, we wanted to watch the marathon, but we more wanted to hold each other's hand and just be together.

And, you know, all of a sudden, we were holding hands and, you know, our entire world changed. It was horrific.

BERMAN: I want to talk about the film, because it really -- it -- it got to me. And I didn't live it. You lived it.

PEREIRA: Yes.

BERMAN: When you look at some of these moments -- and they're raw. I mean when the fireworks are going off -- there's a fireworks display, I need to tell you, I'm not -- it's a spoiler alert. But it's terrifying for you.

And then there are tragic moments when you realize, you know, your leg is gone.

When you look at that now, what does that feel like?

HASLET-DAVIS: You know, it's still really fresh. You know, fireworks still get me every time. Those, in particular, were not near the Fourth of July and we thought that we were going to die. We were on the phone with the police and the fire department.

It's -- looking back now, I feel like -- I feel like I've -- I've come a long way, but I still have -- I still have work to do.

BERMAN: Can you watch the documentary?

Can you watch it and not get...

HASLET-DAVIS: I haven't seen it yet, so I'll be watching with everyone tonight for the first time. And I'll sure it will be an emotional journey.

PEREIRA: We want folks to watch this. I cannot urge you enough. Because there's a whole thing. Some magic happens at MIT with a bionic limb. It's just so great. I don't want to give that away.

But I know there's folks at home right now, we know there has been too many tragedies in our nation. There are people at home watching that are surviving something themselves right now.

What would you say to them that might help them...

HASLET-DAVIS: I would say...

PEREIRA: -- in their moment of darkness? HASLET-DAVIS: -- I would say that it's OK to be as emotionally honest with yourself as you need to be and to let yourself have those moments, so that when you are having a great day, you can celebrate that instead of burying that. And have some really good friends that tell you to change out of your sweatpants when it's time and bring you tissues when it's not.

PEREIRA: Run a little bit, right?

HASLET-DAVIS: Yes. Absolutely.

PEREIRA: Yes. BERMAN: I was just with a survivor over the weekend who lost a leg. And he talked to me about how frustrating and how hard it was to walk again, to learn to walk.

How do you do that?

How did you you find the strength?

HASLET-DAVIS: Oh, my gosh, it's the most -- that was the most frustrating part, was the

Fact that I thought -- a wrong assumption -- that would just put on the prosthetic and go. And that's not the case.

You get frustrated and you don't wear it for days. I know I didn't wear it for days, just because I was so mad at it and the situation.

But you just press through. And eventually, your PT will force you to do things that maybe you didn't think you could do and that improves to your self (INAUDIBLE)...

PEREIRA: You mean like dancing with Anderson Cooper?

HASLET-DAVIS: Yes, I mean like dancing with Anderson Cooper.

(CROSSTALK)

PEREIRA: And -- and not only that, so you'll see this. You...

(CROSSTALK)

PEREIRA: -- you got Mr. -- he describes himself as Mr.

Two Left Feet. You got him to dance with you.

HASLET-DAVIS: Yes. Yes. We made a pact early on. He and I really bonded. He's an incredible guy and...

BERMAN: An incredible guy, not an incredible dancer.

PEREIRA: That's not true.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: He would say that. He's a reporter. He would agree with me.

PEREIRA: I...

(CROSSTALK)

HASLET-DAVIS: He's only had one lesson, so...

PEREIRA: That's pretty great.

BERMAN: You are impressive in many, many ways.

HASLET-DAVIS: Thank you.

BERMAN: Thank you so much...

HASLET-DAVIS: Thank you.

BERMAN: -- for sharing this story with us and showing us, really, the strength to pull through something like this.

PEREIRA: A survivor...

(CROSSTALK)

PEREIRA: -- not a victim, that's what we keep saying, right, Berman?

HASLET-DAVIS: Thank you. Yes.

PEREIRA: All right. Don't forget. Please mark the time in your calendar. Turn on CNN for a special report, "The Survivor Diaries," tonight at 10:00 Eastern, only right here on CNN. I promise you will be moved.

BERMAN: And ahead for us at this hour, President Obama taking executive action on equal pay for women. He's minutes away from signing two new orders. We will take you live to the White House.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PEREIRA: You and I are equal, right?

What's -- we're paid at the same amount.

BERMAN: You're way more equal than I am. I think is the truth of the matter.

PEREIRA: Well, pardon me. Now I get to make you laugh and cry.

BERMAN: Maybe not.

PEREIRA: I wonder...

BERMAN: Equal pay for women is the big focus at this hour at the White House.

PEREIRA: President Obama is about to sign two executive orders to help ensure that women earn as much as men for doing the same job.

BERMAN: And the issue of equal pay for women is something the president highlighted during the State of the Union Address. It's something that he's done from the minute he walked into office.

And at this point, Democrats hope it will give them a boost in the mid-terms.

So let's bring in our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta -- Jim, lay it out for us.

What exactly is the president doing today and what will this event that we're looking at right now, looking at the setup, what will this entail?

JIM ACOSTA, HOST: Well, we're going to see the president sign a couple executive of orders, John and Michaela, basically targeting this problem that the White House has identified as an issue that they would like to tackle, and that being equal pay for equal work, equal pay for women.

They're saying that 77 -- women earn 77 cents on every dollar that a man makes and so what the president wants to do is sign an executive order that basically instructs federal contractors that they cannot tell their employees that they cannot discuss what they make.

And so this is an issue of pay secrecy that goes on in the workplace. Some employers basically tell employees, listen, you can't talk about what you're making, we're just not going to allow that.

The president is going to sign an executive order at least addressing the federal contractor side of the issue. Not every employer around the country are just federal contractors.

And then he's also going to instruct the Labor Department that they need to study this issue so the -- basically, so the federal government has data on this going forward.

But a couple of things we want to point out. One is that fact checkers out there, independent fact checkers have taken issue with the 77 cent statistic, saying that the -- the discrepancy is actually not as great as that.

And one other thing we should point out is that the White House has its own gender pay issue. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked about this yesterday. There was a conservative think tank study that came out in January saying that women at the White House make 88 cents on the dollar, for every dollar that a man makes. So these are employees of the White House.

And the press secretary, Jay Carney, yesterday basically confirmed that, did not deny it, but also pointed out that there are women in very high positions serving the president, people like the National Security Agency, the White House counsel and so forth.

So they are acknowledging that this is an issue that hits close to home for them, as well. But it's one that the president wants to address. And we'll hear him do that in just a few moments.

PEREIRA: Yes.

BERMAN: That's a two minute warning right there.

PEREIRA: That's the two minute.

BERMAN: For those of you who do not know...

PEREIRA: I read that.

BERMAN: -- what that thing on the TV...

PEREIRA: That signal is not familiar to me.

BERMAN: Those two fingers mean two minutes until the president is starting to talk.

ACOSTA: The ultimate (INAUDIBLE).

PEREIRA: We do it the old-fashioned way.

No, it's interesting, because you talk about the fact that this will, you know, not impacting all Americans. But certainly, the president is hoping it's going to influence others to follow suit. And, really, it's all he can do...

ACOSTA: Right.

PEREIRA: -- without legislative action.

ACOSTA: That's right. I mean he's been talking about this pen and a phone, you know, he's got a pen and he's got a phone. But that is also an acknowledgement that his legislative agenda is stalled, to some extent, up on Capitol Hill. There is a -- a pay equity act that they would like to see passed. And this is something that the president...

BERMAN: Jim, hang on one second.

ACOSTA: (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: We're going to take a...

ACOSTA: (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: -- I mean, we're going to take a quick break...

ACOSTA: (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: -- we're going to take a quick break, Jim, and then when we come back, we're going to listen to the president of the United States.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PEREIRA: Welcome back.

At this hour, the president is in the East Room of the White House, about to sign two executive orders aimed at strengthening current laws about pay equality. And today is the day because it's being called National Equal Pay Day. It's the date that symbolizes how far into the new year a woman would have to work to earn what the average man would make doing the same job in the previous year.

Now, a lot of people are asking, is this move that the president is about to sign into executive order, is it politics or is it about policy?

BERMAN: Well, it can be both. But it is not absent of politics right now.

The fact of the matter is, that in 2012, the Democrats and President Obama won women overwhelmingly. In 2008, they won women overwhelmingly.

You know what year they did not win women?

2010, in which they took an old-fashioned shellacking at the polls there.

So they need women to turn out, particularly Democratic women, to turn out in big numbers.

There are also huge Senate races where a lot of the candidates...

PEREIRA: Sure.

BERMAN: -- are women -- Kay Hagen, Mary Landrieu, Alison, you know, Lundergan Grimes -- a lot of women on the ballot for Senate right now. I think the White House is making the calculation that this issue will be strong for them on the campaign trail.

PEREIRA: Now, it's interesting, too, because, you know, people wonder what the GOP is going to have to say about this. Obviously, they are for equal pay, as well. But they're calling this a political ploy. They're saying that this is just a maneuver on the part of the Democrats, that it's not about the -- the policy, if you will.

BERMAN: In an election year, nothing is absent of politics.

All right. Jim Acosta is at the White House, where it is a nonstop cornucopia of politics and policy all in one place -- and, Jim, the person introducing the president today is Lilly Ledbetter...

PEREIRA: A Republican.

BERMAN: -- who is, you know, a pioneer and a key figure in the fight for equal pay.

ACOSTA: That she is. And, actually, the very first bill that the president signed into law when he became president back in 2009 was the Lilly Ledbetter Act, which makes it easier for a woman to seek pay -- back pay from issues stemming from discrimination.

And so she will be there, on hand, as well as many other female leaders here in Washington. Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, is there.

And, you know, let's just -- as you were saying just a few moments ago, just to back up, this is a key political issue for the White House, for Democrats heading into mid-terms, make no mistake, about it, as the Republicans would like to talk about ObamaCare and the stumbling recovery. The White House and Democrats have been moving to some of these domestic issues that have served them well in the past -- women's issues first among them -- maybe not first among them, but pretty close to the top of the list.

You will remember, John and Michaela, back in the 2012 campaign, binders full of women...

PEREIRA: Sure.

ACOSTA: -- the issue that Mitt Romney had with women voters. And then there were several candidates for the Senate and the House that had their own gaffes, on the Republican side, dealing with women's issues. Democrats exploited that.

And so, you know, the White House has dismissed this as being crass partisan politics, but there is an element of that going into this mid-term cycle -- guys.

PEREIRA: Well, Lilly Ledbetter is at the microphone right now.

She is set to introduce the president.

Let's listen in.

(BEGIN LIVE FEED)

LILLY LEDBETTER, PLAINTIFF, "LEDBETTER V. GOODYEAR TIRE & RUBBER COMPANY": Folks often refer to me as the face of fair pay. But for today at least, that title belongs to President Barack Obama.

(CHEERING & APPLAUSE)

LEDBETTER: Today, President Obama will sign an executive order that will ban federal contractors from retaliating against workers who discuss their pay and their salaries. Not only is this a critical piece of the stalled Paycheck Fairness Act, but this action also gets at what was my largest barrier for all those years ago. I didn't know I was being paid unfairly and I had no way to find out.

I was told in no uncertain terms that Goodyear, then and still a government contractor, fired employees who shared their salary information. It was against company policy.

Whoever left me that anonymous note did so bravely, knowing that he or she could face retaliation if they were found out.

From my namesake bill through today's executive orders, President Obama has been the outspoken leader women and families need on fair pay. I urge Congress to join the president on the right side of history by passing the Paycheck Fairness Act.

(APPLAUSE)

LEDBETTER: I thank President Obama for his continued courage and vision and I am deeply moved to be the one to introduce him today.

Please join me in a very warm welcome of President Barack Obama.

Thank you.

(CHEERING & APPLAUSE)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you, everybody.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Thank you, everybody.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: All right.

Well, thanks to my friend, Lilly Ledbetter, not only for that introduction, but for fighting for a simple principle -- equal pay for equal work. It's not that complicated.

And, Lilly, I assure you, you remain the face of fair pay.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: People don't want my mug on there, they want your face.

You know, as Lilly mentioned, she did not set out to be a trailblazer. She was just somebody who was waking up every day, going to work, doing her job the best that she could. And then one day she finds out, after years, that she earned less than her male colleagues for doing the same job. I want to make that point again -- doing the same job.

You know, sometimes when you -- when you -- when we discuss this issue of fair pay, equal pay for equal work, and the pay gap between men and women, you'll hear all sorts of excuses. Oh, well, they're child bearing and they're choosing to do this and they're this and they're that and the other. She was doing the same job, probably doing it better.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: The same job.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Working just as hard, probably putting in more hours. But she was getting systematically paid less.