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Imus Fallout: Rutgers Women to Meet Imus
Aired April 11, 2007 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Jumping ship. Major sponsors pulling their advertising dollars from "Imus in the Morning," as the women from Rutgers prepare to meet Don Imus maybe next week.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Case dismissed. Reports that sexual assault charges against three Duke lacrosse players could be dropped today.
S. O'BRIEN: New this morning, North Korea promising to shut down its nuclear program as soon as it receives frozen funds. Will high- stakes diplomacy overnight lead to a deal?
M. O'BRIEN: And evidence unveiled. Police showcase the weapons taken from love-sick astronaut Lisa Nowak. But wait until you hear what they found on a computer disk.
We're live from the Bahamas, the Rutgers campus in New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and New York City on this AMERICAN MORNING.
S. O'BRIEN: And good morning, everybody. It is Wednesday, April 11th. I'm Soledad O'Brien.
M. O'BRIEN: And I'm Miles O'Brien. We're glad you're with us this day. We begin in Raleigh, North Carolina, this morning where it is decision day on the Duke lacrosse sex scandal. Three former members of the Duke University lacrosse team converging on Raleigh today, there to learn whether remaining charges against them will, in fact, be dropped. And sources are telling CNN, the trio will, in fact, be exonerated. No official confirmation from the North Carolina attorney general's office just yet, however.
In March 2006, you'll recall, a stripper claimed she was raped by members of the lacrosse team at an off-campus party. She later changed her story and the charges were reduced. The district attorney, who pushed the charges against the three, faces possible disbarment.
S. O'BRIEN: Turning to the Bahamas now. The DNA evidence is in and there is no longer any doubt as to who fathered the late Anna Nicole Smith's baby, a little girl, Dannielynn. Smith's one-time boyfriend, his name is Larry Birkhead, emerged from the courthouse yesterday and what he said was this -- "I told you so." CNN's Rusty Dornin is live for us in Nassau in the Bahamas.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): When the moment came, Larry Birkhead emerged from the courthouse in Nassau and played the crowd.
LARRY BIRKHEAD, SMITH'S FORMER BOYFRIEND: I hate to be the one that told you this, but I told you so.
DORNIN: A DNA expert in court confirmed Birkhead, Smith's former boyfriend, is Dannielynn's father. At least four men had made the claim. Among them, Howard K. Stern, Smith's long-time companion and attorney, who filed an appeal to stop the DNA results from being revealed. But that battle was lost. Stern was fined $10,000 for his effort. Now the paternity is final. No more fighting says a disappointing Stern.
HOWARD K. STERN, ANNA NICOLE SMITH'S COMPANION: I am not going to fight Larry Birkhead on custody. We're going to do what we can to make sure the best interests of Dannielynn are carried out.
DORNIN: Then there is Virgie Arthur, Anna Nicole's estranged mother. She's lost nearly every court battle since her daughter died. Following this revelation, she put on a brave face.
VIRGIE ARTHUR, ANNA NICOLE SMITH'S MOTHER: I'm happy that Dannielynn will know her who real father is.
DORNIN: Before the announcement, the tension mounted. There were plenty of tourists, gawkers and a full-scale international media scramble to catch the major players. In the court of public opinion, Birkhead was the undisputed winner, especially here in the Bahamas. For local resident, Silver Wood, it was a piece of tabloid history.
Were you surprised?
SILVER WOOD, NASSAU, BAHAMAS, RESIDENT: No, not at all. Not at all.
DORNIN: Are you happy about it?
WOOD: I'm very happy. For me it was a very emotional moment.
DORNIN: For tourist Lori Logan, forget the feature shopping.
LORI LOGAN, TOURIST: I'm glad it's Larry.
LOGAN: I just think he presents a little more wholesome character on the outside.
S. O'BRIEN: Well, we're going to continue to watch that as that fight clearly is not quite over yet.
There's more fallout this morning to tell you about from the Don Imus affair. A two-week suspension is only part of the price that he is paying for those racially offensive remarks. It's now effecting the bottom line. Two major sponsors, Staples and Procter & Gamble, are pulling their ads from MSNBC's simulcast of Imus' radio show.
Here's what Procter & Gamble said. "Effective Friday, April 6th, P&G pulled all of our brand advertising from the MSNBC daytime rotation. That is until we can evaluate the situation fully." This is the word from office supply firm Staples. "Staples is pulling ads from Imus's program on MSNBC. Recent comments made on the program prompted us to revise our decision to advertise, and as of now, we are not advertising on the program." Bigelow Tea, which has sponsored Imus' show in the past, says the incident puts their future sponsorship in jeopardy.
The Rutgers coach, C. Vivian Stringer, the team captain, Essence Carson, they're going to be talking to us live at 7:15 a.m. right here on AMERICAN MORNING.
M. O'BRIEN: A potential breakthrough in the standoff with North Korea over its nuclear program. The North Koreans had refused to shut down a key nuclear reactor before receiving money frozen in an overseas bank account. This morning, authorities in the Chinese territory of Macao said North Korea should have those funds sometime today or tomorrow. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, part of a U.S. delegation trying to broker the deal, says North Korea has agreed to nuclear inspections as soon as the money is in hand.
In Washington this morning, the politicians are posturing over how to pay for the Iraq War and whether there will be any deadlines for bringing the troops home. Yesterday President Bush invited Democratic leaders for a ten and tat (ph) in the Oval Office to discuss the matter. And then the White House insisted there would be no negotiating over timetables.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can discuss the way forward on a bill that is a clean bill. A bill that funds our troops without artificial timetables for withdraw and without handcuffing our generals on the ground.
SEN. HARRY REID, (D) MAJORITY LEADER: The president is inviting us down to the White House with preconditions. That's not the way things should operate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
M. O'BRIEN: The president says he will veto any war funding bill that includes deadlines or withdraws for troops. Democrats do not have the votes to override a veto.
Amid the political squabbling, the Pentagon is drafting marching orders that would extend tours of duty for nearly every service man and woman who serves in Iraq. The typical 12-month stint would become 15 months. No decisions made just yet, but the military is scrambling to keep enough boots on the ground in Iraq.
And you would think with a title like czar, people would jump at the chance. But the White House is having a hard time finding a general to fill a proposed war czar slot. This from today's "Washington Post." The paper says three retired four-star generals have turned the job down. Marine General John Jack Sheehan, Army General Jack Keane, and Air Force General Joseph Ralston. Now Sheehan tells the paper, "they," referring to the White House, "don't know where the hell they're going. Rather than go over there, develop an ulcer and eventually leave, I said, no, thanks." The article says the White House was hoping to create the post to better oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
S. O'BRIEN: A report out today shows that sex abuse claims against the catholic church have dropped for a second year in a row. The report was compiled by the U.S. bishops. It says 714 claims were made last year, 69 fewer than the year before, 2005. The church paid out almost $400 million in settlements. In 2006, that was down by $68 million. And since the year 1950, the church has paid $1.5 billion to settle thousands of molestation claims.
Before you feed your cat or dog this morning, we have another pet food recall to tell you about. Menu Foods again recalling even more pet food. This time it comes from a plant in Streetsville, Ontario, Canada. You'll want to log on to cnn.com for a complete list now of all the recalled pet food.
M. O'BRIEN: Another delay for the next space shuttle launch. NASA now says Atlantis will not launch before June 8th. Technicians needs more time to repair thousands of dings in the insulation on the shuttle's fuel tank. There you see them. Damaged in a hail storm in February. The delay likely means the NASA astronaut on the Space Station, Sunny Williams, will get an extra month in space.
And some weird evidence out this morning in the case of former astronaut Lisa Nowak, made public by Orlando police. Some of the items she was carrying when she was arrested two months ago include a computer disk with photos and drawings of a woman in bondage and some Chinese fortunes. There you see the weaponry that she had with her allegedly. Nowak pleaded innocent to a number of charges, including attempted kidnapping after she drove from Houston to Orlando to confront a woman she suspected of being a romantic rival.
S. O'BRIEN: Whoopi Goldberg will be speaking out on the Don Imus controversy. You'll hear what she has to say coming up in just a moment.
Plus, those young women playing basketball for Rutgers, now looking to their coach for inspiration. We'll take a closer look this morning at Coach Stringer, a woman clearly guided by her faith. We'll tell you why religious convictions play such a big role in sports at every level.
Plus, the buyer's market. How much house can you afford? Some answers as our series "You're American Home" continues.
You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is right here on CNN.
M. O'BRIEN: Welcome back. About 10 minutes past the hour. Chad Myers at the CNN Weather Center watching the weather for you.
Good morning, Chad.
S. O'BRIEN: A coach who wanted to win. That is how Rutgers Vivian Stringer describes herself. That's happened (ph) yesterday. It's not all about winning, though. Coach Stringer clearly a woman of faith. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
C. VIVIAN STRINGER, RUTGERS WOMEN'S BASKETBALL COACH: And God knows I love basketball, but I would love to make a change, a positive change for this world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
S. O'BRIEN: How much has Coach Stringer's faith been tested in the last week? AMERICAN MORNING's faith and values correspondent Delia Gallagher is with us this morning.
I mean talk about a woman who's been tested, really.
DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, not just in the last week either. I mean you heard her story, which is amazing. Her father -- she lost her father when he was in his early 40s. He was a coal miner. Lost his life to diabetes. So she started right when she was young. And her husband died of a heart attack the night before Thanksgiving.
S. O'BRIEN: The love of her life.
GALLAGHER: Her daughter suffered brain damage from meningitis. Still is taking care of her at age 22. Her son also suffered brain damage in a car accident. Her nephew died (ph). It's a litany of a tough, tough life and a woman in the face of adversity. So I think that's where that came from yesterday, all of that talk about faith. And then, of course, the experience that she's had with this great joy of winning this basketball championship and yet the great difficulty of having to confront (INAUDIBLE).
S. O'BRIEN: Great anger, really, and in the wake of Don Imus' comments against the team. I mean she definitely said that -- she was talking at the press conference, and then later as well, how disappointing the comments were but how her faith was carrying her through.
GALLAGHER: Right. Well, she's a coach. And this is the point about coaches and sports. I mean, sports is a metaphor for life and coaches are sort of the pastor of that. And so she needs, not only for herself but for her team, to bring that to the fore and say, hey, you know, these comments were nasty, we didn't like them, but there's something greater and this is how we get through it. And she kind of put it into that, you know, this is a part of God's plan. I think we have some of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STRINGER: You know, our team is a reflection of real family, real unity, you know, of real -- of coming from the same fiber and I think that's really what life is all about. God, I think, really believed and intended for all of this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
S. O'BRIEN: "God intended for all of this." And it's been an unpleasant week, certainly, for the team. You know the question I have is, forgiving -- forgiveness is such a big part of faith, Christian faith.
GALLAGHER: Yes. Yes.
S. O'BRIEN: She's a Christian. They had this meeting with Don Imus who said some very horrible things. Do you think forgiveness is in the cards or no?
GALLAGHER: Well, that was asked yesterday, too. And, you know, that's a hard question I think for each of those girls to answer until they really are confronted, like they said, with the personal apology. Because forgiveness is always a personal thing and it has to be from the person who's been injured to the other person. The coach also said something about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STRINGER: I've prayed about this. I really want to receive him. I want to hear what he has to say. And I want to feel good about the judgment that I make after I've heard him speak, which is far more than what he did for these young women.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
S. O'BRIEN: It's kind of unclear if the answer is, yes, I'll forgive him.
GALLAGHER: Yes. Of course, the overriding rule in Christianity is, you do forgive. But maybe it takes some time to get there.
S. O'BRIEN: And (ph) you can forgive someone and still want them to lose their job.
Delia Gallagher is AMERICAN MORNING's faith . . .
GALLAGHER: That's not very nice forgiveness.
S. O'BRIEN: I never was very good at the forgiveness thing, but that's me personally. Delia, our faith and values correspondent. Thanks, as always.
GALLAGHER: You're welcome.
S. O'BRIEN: Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: You know, amid his numerous mea culpas, Don Imus is trying to remind people he does a comedy show. A woman who knows a few things about comedy and the bounds of it, Whoopi Goldberg, shared some thoughts on that with Anderson Cooper last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHOOPI GOLDBERG, ACTRESS: So I didn't know he was a comic. But here's the point of the comedy. If you're a comic, then you know that there is a line that you walk. And every now and then you go, whoop, and you're over the line and consequences happen. All comics know there are consequences for the things they do, particularly if they're timely comics or they're edgy comics. There's always that price. And it is unfortunate, if he is a comic, that he forgot the number one rule -- be prepared for something you said that really pissed somebody off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
M. O'BRIEN: And you can catch "Anderson Cooper 360" every night at 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
S. O'BRIEN: The deputy secretary of state, John Negroponte, plans to meet with officials in Lybia this week to discuss the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region. Violence there has killed 200,000 people, displaced 2.5 million other people. State Department correspondent Zain Verjee has more now on a new effort by Google and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to bring some attention to the crisis.
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): It's like taking a magic carpet ride into a place no one wants to fly into. But one click on Google Earth, the online mapping service, will transport you to the war torn region of Darfur in western Sudan. Become a witness looking down on burned villages, like this one called Kubar (ph). Click on it and see the number of structures destroyed. Out of more than 1,000, fewer than 100 remain here. Google, working with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, wants to raise awareness about the genocide.
ELLIOT SCHRAGE, GOOGLE VICE-PRESIDENT: The situation in Darfur is a global catastrophe and because we believe technology can be a catalyst for education.
VERJEE: Rights groups say more than 200,000 people have been killed in the civil war there by a deadly militia group backed by the government. Since 2003, rebels have been fighting for a share of oil money and political power. More than 2.5 million people have fled their homes. Google Earth loads up on details, breaking down how many refugees are in camps.
DAOWD SALIH, DARFUR REFUGEE: It's not about numbers, it's about people. People like my brothers and sister who are still in Darfur in eternally (ph) displaced camps.
VERJEE: Click on cameras to see pictures of the war and link to videos that have been taken by eyewitnesses. Darfur refugees say there's only one way to end their tragedy.
SALIH: We need U.N. peacekeeper on the ground to stop the killing. We need United States government and its partners.
VERJEE: Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte is visiting Sudan this week. He's expected to deliver a tough message from Washington, essentially asking the Sudanese government to allow an international peacekeeping force on the ground, otherwise Sudan faces the threat of more sanctions.
Zain Verjee, CNN, Washington.
M. O'BRIEN: Coming up on the program, it's a buyer's market out there in many parts of the country. Some tips you can't afford to miss if you're looking to move, as our series, "Your American Home" continues.
You're watching AMERICAN MORNING.
M. O'BRIEN: Looking for a new home? Well, you may be in luck. They say it's a buyer's market out there in much of the country. Where exactly and what should you be looking for? CNN's Gerri Willis reports on our latest installment in our series "Your American Home."
LISA GRECO, HOMEBUYER: What character. This is unbelievable.
GERRI WILLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): Lisa Greco is looking for a new home. She's touring this house north of New York City hoping it's the one.
GRECO: We're looking for that one special home that we can raise our family in and we'll live in for a long time.
WILLIS: It's a buyer's market for the first time in years. Home buyers are in control because most markets around the country are in a slump. So what should buyers like Lisa consider before they get that new home?
First, figure out how much you can spend before you start your search. The best bet, earmark no more than 28 percent of your monthly gross income for housing. That should be enough to cover your mortgage, home repairs, insurance and taxes. And get your financial house in order. Make sure your credit is in good shape before you start shopping for a loan.
Next, choose your neighborhood carefully. One where prices are steady. Also, your new home should be close to major lines of transportation and services like grocery stores and shopping malls.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The size of the community is important, the school, what the community offers.
WILLIS: Third, make sure your home isn't a potential money pit. If it's going need endless repairs, it could be more than you bargained for. Hire a competent inspector to investigate every nook and crany. Finally, choose a loan that's right for you. If you plan on staying for a long time, get a 30-year fixed mortgage. If you're on the move in a new career-wise and you think you might be moving again in the next five years, think about an adjustable rate mortgage, but be sure to check out caps on rate increases in case you stay longer than expected.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your family could have a great time in here.
GRECO: A good time in here, yes. Oh, yes. Big enough for everyone.
WILLIS: Keep these in mind and you'll be on your way to the home of your dreams.
Gerri Willis, CNN, New York.
S. O'BRIEN: That looks like a pretty nice house there. I like that one.
Turning back to the backlash against Don Imus. It's now extending to the corporate world. At least two major sponsors are pulling their ads off "Imus in the Morning," his program. It's 23 minutes past the hour. Ali Velshi is "Minding Your Business."
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to both of you.
Those ratings don't matter if the advertisers start pulling out. And as you reported earlier, two major ones have pulled out. Let me tell you what it looks like.
Proctor & Gamble, which reportedly spent an estimated $562,000 advertising on the show in 2006, has withdrawn all of its advertising for its products from MSNBC's entire daytime rotation. Procter & Gamble was the eighth biggest advertiser on the show and says it won't reinstate that advertising until it can evaluate the Imus situation a little further. Staples, which is the world's largest office supplies retailer, has also pulled its advertising. And Bigelow Tea, which was an advertiser, says its future sponsorship of the show and the network is now in question.
An agency that buys ad time for clients says a number of its advertising clients are also either asking about or in the process of pulling ads from the show and the network.
Now it's April, which means we start getting earnings results for the first three months of the year. And it always kicks off with Alcoa, the world's largest aluminum producer. It beat Wall Street's expectations, increasing its revenue by 11 percent. The increases were driven by higher metal prices, demand in aerospace building, construction and industrial products. We'll expect more earnings over the next couple of weeks.
And Levi Straus, which is a private company, so you can't buy its stock, also reported its earnings. The jeans maker has a 61 percent rise in quarterly profit because it has shifted to higher price denim and other clothes. The company made $87 million in the first three months of this year because now it's cool to buy Levi jeans again.
S. O'BRIEN: Well, you know, you used to be able to get jeans for $25.
M. O'BRIEN: Good luck.
S. O'BRIEN: Now it's like you can buy them for $100 and something a pair of Levis.
VELSHI: That's right.
M. O'BRIEN: Why would you do that?
S. O'BRIEN: I know because I own one pair.
M. O'BRIEN: Really? You spent more than $100 on jeans?
S. O'BRIEN: Because they're cute. I know, I'm embarrassed to say.
M. O'BRIEN: Wow. Wow.
S. O'BRIEN: But they're cute. They're all right.
M. O'BRIEN: Well, I'm sure they are.
Top stories of the morning are coming up next. Could those sexual assault charges against those Duke lacrosse players be dropped? We're awaiting possible developments today.
Also, a crash that could have been avoided. An air traffic controller who need more sleep. They're connected and now the federal government is taking some action.
And the pet food recall expanding again. We'll have details for you.
You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is on CNN.
S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back. It's Wednesday, April 11th. I'm Soledad O'Brien.
M. O'BRIEN: And I'm Miles O'Brien. We're glad you're with us this morning.
S. O'BRIEN: There is more trouble to tell you about for radio host Don Imus this morning. Major corporate sponsors now pulling their advertising dollars from his show. We'll tell you about that. And when a meeting will take place between Imus and the young women from Rutgers that he insulted.
M. O'BRIEN: Oh, to be a fly on the wall in that one.
Could it even get weirder? You bet. The latest wrinkle in the case of the love-lorn astronaut who wore diapers.
S. O'BRIEN: Plus, Americans love bottled water, but is it really worth the money? Take a guess at what percentage of bottled water is actually tap water in a bottle.
M. O'BRIEN: I bet 100 percent -- 70 percent.
S. O'BRIEN: I'll give you the numbers in just a little bit.
M. O'BRIEN: All right.
Topping the half hour, in Raleigh, North Carolina, it looks like it may be decision day in the Duke lacrosse sex scandal. Three former members of the Duke University lacrosse team expected to converge on Raleigh today. There you see one of them. Defense sources are telling CNN, they expect the charges against them to be dropped. No official confirmation from the North Carolina Attorney General's Office just yet.
In March of 2006, you'll recall a stripper claimed she was raped by members of the lacrosse team at an off-campus party. She later changed her story. The charge is reduced. The district attorney who pushed the case faces possible disbarment.
S. O'BRIEN: A potential breakthrough in the standoff with North Korea over its nuclear program. The North Koreans have refused to shut down a key nuclear reactor before receiving money that was frozen in overseas bank accounts. Well, this morning, authorities in the Chinese territory of Macau say North Korea should have those funds sometime today or tomorrow.
New Mexico's governor, Bill Richardson, who's part of a U.S. delegation trying to broker the deal, says North Korea has agreed to nuclear inspections just as soon as the money is in hand.
M. O'BRIEN: In Washington this morning, the politicians are posturing over how to pay for the Iraq war and whether there will be any deadlines for bringing the troops home. Yesterday, President Bush invited Democratic leaders for a tete a tete in the Oval Office to discuss the matter, and then insisted there will be no negotiating over timetables.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can discuss the way forward on a -- on a bill that is a clean bill, a bill that funds our troops without artificial timetables for withdrawal and without handcuffing our generals on the ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: The president is inviting us down to the White House with preconditions. That's not the way things should operate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
M. O'BRIEN: The president says he will veto any war funding bill that includes deadlines for troop withdrawals. Democrats do not have the votes to override a veto.
Amid the political squabbling, the Pentagon is drafting marching orders that would extend tours of duty for nearly every serviceman and woman who serves in Iraq. The typical 12-month stint will become 15 months. No decision made just yet, but the military is scrambling to keep enough boots on the ground in Iraq.
And you would think with a title like "czar," people would jump at the chance, but the White House is having a hard time finding a general to fill a proposed war czar slot. This comes from "The Washington Post" today.
The paper says three retired four-star generals have turned down the job -- Marine General Jack Sheehan, Army General Jack Keane, and Air Force General Joseph Ralston. Sheehan telling the paper, "They don't know where the heck they're going. Rather than go over, develop an ulcer and eventually leave, I said no thanks."
The article says the White House was hoping to create the post to better oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
S. O'BRIEN: Another pet food recall to tell you about this morning. Menu Foods, again in the news, recalling pet food made in Streetsville, Ontario, Canada. The company previously recalled cat and dog food that was made in its plants in New Jersey and Kansas because of contamination from an industrial chemical.
You'll wan to log on to CNN.com for a complete list of those recalled foods.
M. O'BRIEN: More fallout from the Don Imus affair. A two-week suspension is only part of the price he's paying for racially-offensive remarks. It's now affecting the bottom line.
Two major sponsors, Staples and Procter & Gamble, pulling their ads from MSNBC's simulcast of the Imus radio show. Procter & Gamble said this: "Effective Friday, April 6th, P&G pulled all of our brand advertising from the MSNBC daytime rotation. That is until we can evaluate the situation fully."
And this from office supply company Staples. "Staples is pulling ads from the Imus program on MSNBC. Recent comments made on the program prompted us to revise our decision to advertise. And as of now, we're not advertising on the program."
Bigelow Tea, which has sponsored the Imus show in the past, says the incident puts future sponsorship in jeopardy.
S. O'BRIEN: And while they haven't yet decided whether to forgive him, the women's basketball team at Rutgers University has agreed to privately meet with Imus. It was originally scheduled maybe for next week. It could actually happen this week.
Coach C. Vivian Stringer and her players spoke publicly Tuesday for the first time about Imus's comments.
AMERICAN MORNING'S Alina Cho taking a closer look at these proud young women who have been really caught up in what has become a firestorm on their campus.
Alina's at the Rutgers campus in Piscataway, New Jersey. Hey, Alina. Good morning.
ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Soledad. Good morning to you.
The Rutgers women's basketball team always wanted recognition, but certainly not like this. They wanted to be noticed for their accomplishments, for making it to the championship game of the Final Four, which has never been done in Rutgers' history.
So we wanted to know, exactly who are these young women?
CHO (voice over): As a team, these 10 women achieved what few thought they could. Individually, they're remarkable, too.
C. VIVIAN STRINGER, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY WOMEN'S BASKETBALL COACH: ... valedictorians of their class, future doctors, musical prodigies. And yes, even Girl Scouts.
CHO: Myia "The Fire" McCurdy is still a Girl Scout, and a tough cookie on the court.
Brittany "The Brain" Ray wants to be an orthopedic surgeon, and has basketball is in her blood. Her brother plays for the Boston Celtics.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good morning, everyone.
CHO: Kia Vaughn didn't start playing until high school. She grew up not far from Yankee Stadium with seven younger brothers.
HEATHER ZURICH, RUTGERS GUARD: Kia is the big sister you never had but always wanted, and Piph will make an unbelievable lawyer one day.
CHO: In fact, Piph Prince is such an inspiration, her mother and grandmother decided to enroll in college after she did.
Dee Dee Jernigan recently lost her mother. Her dream is to be a dentist.
And Matee Ajavon, she's the team clown, otherwise known as "The Ice Breaker".
ESSENCE CARSON, RUTGERS WOMEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM CAPTAIN: She can just spit out a joke, and it just breaks the ice.
CHO: That's team captain Essence Carson, a gifted musician who plays four instruments. Carson calls her teammates her sisters, a family that is colorblind.
CARSON: Just as much as I was hurt, Heather Zurich, she was just as hurt. Katie Adams was just as hurt. They cried just like we cried.
CHO: And around campus...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're well respected and they're a great team.
CHO: A great team that wants to be remembered for what they do and not what someone said.
CHO: Now, the Rutgers women's basketball team, the coaching staff, and Don Imus will meet face to face for the first time sometime later this week. The time and place to be determined. Now, as for whether the team believes Imus should resign, the team captain, Essence Carson, told me, that will depend on what Imus says to them during their meeting.
Now, as for now, Don Imus will begin serving his two-week suspension on Monday -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: It will be very interesting to be a fly on the wall in that meeting, wouldn't it?
CHO: That's right.
S. O'BRIEN: I'd pay money for that, Alina. I know you would, too.
All right. Alina Cho for us this morning.
Rutgers coach, C. Vivian Stringer, and the team captain, Essence Carson, they're going to be talking to us live at 7:15 a.m. this morning on AMERICAN MORNING.
M. O'BRIEN: Another delay for the next space shuttle launch. NASA now says Atlantis will not launch before June 8th. Technicians need more time to repair thousands of dings in the insulation on the shuttle's fuel tank. It was damaged in a hail storm in February. The delay likely means the NASA astronaut on the space station, Sunny Williams, will get an extra month in space.
The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending air traffic controllers get more sleep in between shifts. Investigators say tired air traffic controllers contributed to at least four aviation mishaps since 2001. Investigators say fatigue may have been a factor in last year's Comair crash that killed 49 in Lexington, Kentucky.
The loan air traffic controller was working on only two hours of sleep. The National Transportation Safety Board calls on the Federal Aviation Administration to revise control of work schedules and take other actions to prevent controllers from becoming sleepy on the job.
S. O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, some strange new evidence is now surfacing in the case of astronaut Lisa Nowak. We're going to have details.
And then, water, water, everywhere, as they say. But which is better to drink, bottled water or tap water? The answer might surprise you.
The most news in the morning is right here on CNN. We're back in a moment.
S. O'BRIEN: What are the '08 presidential candidates now saying about the Imus firestorm? Well, some are frequent Imus guests. Are they going to now avoid the show?
On the Democratic side, Barack Obama issued a written statement saying this: "The comments of Don Imus were divisive and hurtful and offensive to Americans of all backgrounds."
Chris Dodd, who announced his candidacy on Imus's show, said this: "As the father of two young girls, I can imagine how hurtful these comments were to these young women and their parents. The comments were wrong and they're unacceptable."
Hillary Clinton has been a frequent Imus target, and she had a little chance to shoot back yesterday. Here's what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: I certainly understand the outrage at his remarks. Those young women did not deserve those hateful and hurtful comments.
You know, I've been on the receiving end of a lot of his barbs, so I -- you know, I understand, I'm a public figure. But it just went way over the line. And I think that, you know, the reaction is well deserved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
S. O'BRIEN: Imus is getting support from two leading Republicans, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. Here is what they're saying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: He has apologized. He said that he's deeply sorry. I'm a great believer in redemption.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would appear on his program again. Sure, I would. I think that I take him at his word. I take Don at his word that he understands the gravity of what he did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
S. O'BRIEN: Take him at his word and, hey, I'm running for president, so good to have a forum.
Even the White House has weighed in. The press secretary saying that the president believes that Imus's apology was the absolute right thing to do -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Also on the political ticker this morning, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson crossing the border into South Korea, where he announced the North will start shutting down its main nuclear reactor a day after it receives money which had been frozen in a Macau bank. Richardson, of course, running for president.
Senator John Edwards is on the clock at this hour. He's working at a nursing home in a New York suburb. He's working alongside a nursing assistant. It's part of "Walk a Day in My Shoes" campaign sponsored by the Service Employees Union.
All the '08 presidential candidates were invited. Senator...
S. O'BRIEN: I was a nursing assistant once.
M. O'BRIEN: Were you a nursing assistant?
S. O'BRIEN: That's a tough job.
M. O'BRIEN: It is a tough job.
S. O'BRIEN: Yes, I was.
M. O'BRIEN: I was a candy striper, too. I did that once. That's tough.
Anyway, Senator John McCain still trying to get his campaign on the offensive. He's planning today a major speech on Iraq at the Virginia Military Institute. He's expected to reiterate his support for the war and the president's troop surge.
McCain is just back from Iraq. You see the pictures there. He said he was encouraged by signs of progress he witnessed there. Critics say he was glossing over reality.
Rudy Giuliani slated for a fund-raiser in Atlanta today. He'll also hold a news conference in Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airport.
Democrats candidates debated Iraq online last night. The virtual town hall meeting was hosted by the powerful activist group moveon.org. Or just MoveOn, right? Members will vote on the candidates' positions and the results will be revealed a little later today.
And, of course, all the day's political news available any time of the day or night -- CNN.com/ticker.
S. O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, the Duke lacrosse scandal. Will charges against three formers place be dropped today? We have a live report straight ahead.
And the coach and the team (INAUDIBLE) the Rutgers women's basketball team. Live guests for us. Their words yesterday, gracious and remarkable. We'll hear more from them.
Plus this, an amazing story of survival. A 70-year-old man survives a mountain lion attack after his wife fights off the animal. We're going to talk to both of them live this morning.
You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is right here on CNN.
M. O'BRIEN: We are moments away from a massive layoff announcement, and this time, it's not coming out of Detroit. Imagine that. Citigroup expected to announce thousands of job cuts.
About five minutes before the top of the hour. Ali Velshi "Minding Your Business".
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.
We are waiting for an announcement, a restructuring announcement from Citigroup at 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time. And it's going to be big.
The estimates are all over the map. But here's the best look that we think it's going to be.
We're looking at 15,000 jobs cut worldwide and 10,000 U.S. jobs possibly moved overseas to cheaper locations. The cuts are going to be across the board at Citibank's divisions and the consumer business.
The consumer business is lagging, so you might see some branch closures. There are a thousand branches across the United States. There are 2,500 Citi Financial branches.
The credit card business needs some work. You'll see trading -- closures in the investment banking area, or layoffs. You'll also see closures most likely of Smith Barney retail brokerages across the country.
The biggest problems at Citigroup are what you'd expect from a bank that's been a combination of other things. It's overlap in different areas, not the best use of its real estate. Again, that's why you'll see branch closures.
Some of the high-end customer business has been usurped by other companies like HSBC. Citibank is the biggest bank worldwide by market cap. It has 8,000 branches worldwide and 200 million customers.
We'll bring that to you when it happens.
M. O'BRIEN: All right. Thank you, Ali. Appreciate that.
S. O'BRIEN: All right. Just a few minutes away.
Thank you, Ali.
S. O'BRIEN: Jumping ship. Major sponsors pulling their advertising dollars from "Imus in the Morning". And there are plans for a meeting now between Imus and the players he insulted last week.
M. O'BRIEN: Case dismissed. Reports that charges against three Duke lacrosse players could be dropped today.
S. O'BRIEN: New this morning, North Korea promising to shut down its nuclear program just as soon as it receives frozen funds. Will high-stakes diplomacy overnight lead to a deal?
M. O'BRIEN: And animal owners beware. Another batch of pet food is being recalled this morning. Another batch.
We're live from Raleigh, North Carolina; Washington, D.C.; and New York City on this AMERICAN MORNING.
S. O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome back, everybody. It's Wednesday, April 11th.
I'm Soledad O'Brien.
M. O'BRIEN: And I'm Miles O'Brien.
We're glad you're with us.
S. O'BRIEN: Let's begin with more fallout this morning from the Don Imus affair. A two-week suspension is only part of the price that he's paying for those racially-offensive remarks that he made. It's now affecting the bottom line, two. Two major sponsors are pulling their ads from MSBNC's simulcast of the Imus radio show.
AMERICAN MORNING'S Alina Cho is on the Rutgers campus in Piscataway, New Jersey, for us this morning.
Hey, Alina. Good morning.
CHO: Hey, Soledad. Good morning to you.
And those two major sponsors are household names, Procter & Gamble and Staples. Both companies have released statements.
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