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American Morning

White House Press Secretary Gibbs Interview; Was Critical Clinton Movie Censored?; Plans to Keep Cartels Out; Red Meat, Red Flag?; Renters Kicked to Curb

Aired March 24, 2009 - 07:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: First, a story that was breaking while you were sleeping and we're going to try to get you some more details on it now.

Lawmakers, some lawmakers are calling for him to go. We're talking about Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, but he is staying put and he's actually going to be back on Capitol Hill this morning asking for even more power to deal with the financial crisis.

So is this something that you should be worried about? It's certain to come up during the president's primetime news conference also scheduled for tonight.

And joining us right now from the White House press briefing room is Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

Thanks for being with us this morning.


CHETRY: I want to ask you first of all about this plan that your treasury secretary is going to be talking to Congress about today, this new regulatory powers to deal with the financial institutions such as large insurers like AIG, also investment firms and hedge funds.

This legislation would basically give treasury secretary regulatory powers over them. So if Congress approves these new powers, how -- give us an example of how your administration would use them.

GIBBS: Well, what this is is that the authority for the treasury secretary to basically unwind something like AIG that you've heard people say -- provides, is too big to fail and would create a systemic risk for our financial industry if it indeed did fail.

If you're a business, you have bankruptcy. If you're a bank and you fail, the FDIC can come in, lock the doors and change what it needs to, but an insurance company such as AIG, which is so big, we need resolution authority to go in and be able to change contracts, be able to rework the business model, unwind what doesn't work, like a hedge fund on top of largely successful insurance company but instead put the insurance company back out doing what it does well. This is the exact type of authority that would allow to us deal with the problems in AIG that don't exist in the law right now, but will be able to address the systemic risk without having to put it in bankruptcy and causing financial instability.

CHETRY: Two senior administration officials talking a little bit about this plan say that one of the things would be to determine what, quote, "appropriate constraints on risk taking at these different financial firms."

How would the government be more qualified than, say, the financial experts or the risk management people within these -- particular companies themselves?

GIBBS: Well, look, I think we've seen it and I'm sure your network has done many stories on Wall Street firms and AIG that took risk that was much in excess of what is necessary.

In AIG's case, you had an insurance company that a hedge fund got put on top of, that has caused great financial instability, and what resolution authority will do will allow the president and the secretary of Treasury to unwind that and do this in a way that protects taxpayers.

CHETRY: Can you understand why perhaps the American public may be a little skeptical about it and say, wait a minute, why doesn't Washington, why doesn't the administration worry about the -- you know the regulation they already have and try to enforce them?

And for example since 1992, people have been sounding the alarm bell with the SEC about Bernie Madoff and nothing was done. Here we are in 2009, the biggest Ponzi scheme.

GIBBS: Well, look, let's not confuse the two issues. Look, there's two ways to deal with AIG, right? We can keep going along and getting along and I think everybody recognizes over the past week that's not going to work.

Or we can provide the legal tools for the secretary of treasury to be able to deal with financial institutions whose failure would greatly affect the financial stability of our markets each day.

CHETRY: Right.

GIBBS: So we can decide whether we're going to do that or just continue to get along.


CHETRY: Is AIG the best example though?

GIBBS: I don't think anybody thinks that's a good idea.

CHETRY: Well, we own it.

GIBBS: Say again? CHETRY: Well, the taxpayer now owns, technically, right, 80 percent of AIG.

GIBBS: Yes. But Kiran...

CHETRY: So is that the best example? What are we talking about in the future? Could you give us another example?

GIBBS: Well, let's -- any financial institution that would cause systemic risk by putting it into bankruptcy, if you can't do that, there's no legal mechanism by which to unwind this.

You know, if the Treasury had resolution authority on AIG, you wouldn't have to put it in bankruptcy to change executive compensation. You could do that automatically. This would give the Treasury secretary the tools to deal with AIG, to deal with other large financial institutions whose failure would cause systemic risk, and I think this is common sense, Kiran.

This isn't anything crazy. This is exactly what the Treasury Department needs to deal with things like AIG.

CHETRY: You know your treasury secretary certainly had a fair share of criticism lobbed his way lately, and in fact, one Republican congressman from Florida, Connie Mack, calling for him to step down.

What is the president's view right now on Timothy Geithner?

GIBBS: Well, the president has great confidence in Secretary Geithner and I think we feel good about the way the plan was rolled out yesterday, and the reaction that we've seen.

I think what Secretary Geithner has had to do in nine weeks, in dealing with financial recovery, a home foreclosure crisis, financial stability, re-regulation of the economy, AIG, all of these things, he's had to deal with more in nine weeks than most people probably deal with in nine months or nine years serving in the Treasury Department.

So we have great confidence in Secretary Geithner. He's doing a wonderful job and he's putting in place the pillars that we need to get our economy moving again and I think people can and should feel confident about that.

CHETRY: Robert Gibbs, great to talk to you. Thanks for being with us this morning.

GIBBS: Thank you.

CHETRY: And the best political team will be here for special coverage of President Obama's primetime news conference. You can see it live, 7:45 Eastern on CNN and

And we also want you to think about the president's news conference when you're watching it tonight. Call the show, 877-MY- AMFIX. We're going to air some of your comments tomorrow morning. JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we're taking an in-depth look at Geithner's plans and the administration's reasons for them. Could the extra muster really stop another financial collapse?

Our Christine Romans is here "Minding Your Business" this morning. So you heard what Robert Gibbs had to say.


ROBERTS: The resolution authority will help protect the taxpayer. But this really is extraordinary government intervention in private enterprise. And one of the things we were talking about this morning was, how do you determine when a company is actually in trouble? When do the triggers fall that allow the government to jump in?

ROMANS: And that's the trick. Because all along the way all of these risk managers and these firms themselves didn't see those triggers, that things were going to fall down. How can the government do a better job than the people who do this all the time? It was the point Kiran was getting to.

But it's obvious that more regulation is coming and it's obvious that the government needs more powers for something that's too big to fail.

Look, these are the new powers that they want. They want the authority to seize failing firms. They want to be able to renegotiate or dissolve executive pay. This is the AIG bonus controversy. If they had this resolution authority this problem would have been solved.

CHETRY: But wait, there wasn't...

ROMANS: They also want to scrutinize risky portfolios. For 10 years now, a decade of reckless investments on the street, where the biggest, brightest minds in the room making hundreds of millions of dollars couldn't see it. So the government wants the ability to be able to step in on those firms that could take down the world economy and be able to solve these problems.

CHETRY: I'm confused about the pay thing, though.


CHETRY: Because wasn't it -- I mean didn't Chris Dodd, Senator Chris Dodd eventually say that it was the treasury that was leery about trying to cap AIG's bonuses because of contractual concerns?

ROMANS: Right. And so -- exactly. If they had resolution trust, however, they would be able -- liken a bankruptcy...

ROBERTS: Resolution authority.

ROMANS: Resolution authority. Resolution trust is from before.

ROBERTS: That's an old story.

ROMANS: Right. Another banking crisis. No, they would be able to step in and dissolve that. As he pointed out, Robert Gibbs pointed out that a company had a bankruptcy process where a judge can change those contracts and then you've got the FDIC can step in and take over a bank, where the FDIC can take care of those.

But there's nothing out there for AIGs of the world, for the Lehmans of the world, the things that could take down the global economy, and the government needs to get in there and "unwind" as Robert Gibbs said.

ROBERTS: Basically, Dodd said the law was not on his side. The last time around this would put the law on their side.

ROMANS: That's right. That's right.

ROBERTS: OK. Got you. Thanks, Christine.


CHETRY: It's time now, eight minutes after the hour. We're watching other developing stories this morning.

The plane that crashed and burned in a Montana cemetery killing all 14 people on board was only designed to hold 10. The NTSB is trying to find out whether the plane was over its weight limit when it went down but warns it's too soon to pinpoint overloading as the cause. Seven of the 14 passengers were under 10 years old.

And Congressman Barney Frank calling Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia a, quote, "homophobe." Frank, who is openly gay, was talking about why he doesn't want the issue of same-sex marriage to go before the high court.


REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I do think this argument that it is unconstitutional for the federal government to pick and choose as to which marriages it will accept is a good one. At some point that has to go to the United States Supreme Court. I wouldn't want it to go to the United States Supreme Court now because that homophobe Antonin Scalia has got too many votes on this current court.


CHETRY: Well, we got in touch with the Supreme Court spokesperson who declined to comment on Frank's statement.

The octuplet mom, Nadya Suleman, has fired a group of nurses who offered up to 24/7 care for free for her kids. Suleman has been seen here in the video from Radar Online, accused of -- the nurses were actually spying on her and reporting her to Child Welfare Services.

The nonprofit group Angels in Waiting has been training these nannies to help the unemployed mother of 14 care for all of her children.

And the documentary highly critical of Hillary Clinton was released during an election year. But was it a movie or a 90-minute attack ad? The Supreme Court will decide today. We'll bring you both sides of the argument.

Ten minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: Was a movie critical of Hillary Clinton wrongfully censored during the 2008 elections? The Supreme Court is going to decide that today. Critics say "Hillary the Movie" amounted to a political attack ad and should have been regulated like one. And in a real case of irony, a law with John McCain's name attached to it is at the center of the debate.

Joining us now to talk all about this is CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

Good morning to you, Jeffrey.


ROBERTS: So this was a group called Citizens United, it's a conservative organization, produced this unflattering documentary about Hillary Clinton. Wanted to sell it on Pay-Per-View. Was told by the FEC, Federal Election Commission, no, you can't.

What was the FEC's argument?

TOOBIN: Well, this is part of a struggle that's been going on at the Supreme Court and in Congress for a long time. Because on the one hand you have the desire to regulate campaign finance to bring some order and fairness to that system. On the other hand you have the risk of censorship.

And what the FEC said, interpreting the McCain-Feingold law, is they said look, this is like a political commercial. So if you want to put it on between 30 -- within 30 days of any election, a primary or a general election, you have to disclose where the money came from.

Citizens United said no, we don't have to do that. This is free speech. We want to put on a clearly political documentary. The heart of the First Amendment is about political expression. We want to do that regardless of whether we disclose our contributors.

ROBERTS: So what's their argument then to the Supreme Court, that this was unconstitutional censorship?

TOOBIN: Exactly. That the argument is that if you forbid this kind of political speech, if you attach strings like disclosing the financial support for the documentary, or you can't broadcast it, that kind of choice is something you can't put a political person to and so it's unconstitutional. ROBERTS: Now in their brief to the court that they present today, they present an interesting argument, that the First Amendment is not just all about protecting free speech but also protecting the person's right to listen and watch?

TOOBIN: That's right. Well, that's actually -- the court has said that in various ways over the years that the First Amendment is not just to benefit the speakers. It's to benefit the society. We all benefit by having a free exchange of ideas and any kind of censorship doesn't just penalize the speaker. It penalizes all of us who might want to listen.

ROBERTS: So who's got the strongest case here?

TOOBIN: This is really hard. You know, the new Supreme Court with the two new Bush appointees, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito are pretty skeptical of McCain-Feingold and any attempts at regulation of speech.

I would guess, I think it's probably going to be a close case, but I think Citizens United has a pretty good case here and I think they may well win and the court will either say you have to come up with another way to regulate or this kind of regulation is just simply unconstitutional.

ROBERTS: So if the court were to rule in Citizens United favor what are the broader implications for McCain-Feingold? Could they just strike down that part of the law or would they struck down the entire law?

TOOBIN: They would only struck down that part of the law but they have already struck down bits and pieces of McCain-Feingold and this chipping away process may continue but, again, it all depends on who else gets appointed to the court.

ROBERTS: Fascinating.

TOOBIN: No vacancies at the moment.

ROBERTS: Fascinating case. And you'll continue to watch it closely for us.

Jeffrey, thanks so much. Good to see you.

CHETRY: Well, a hardcore blizzard in the north, a tornado threat further south. We've got some extreme weather ripping through the nation's midsection right now. We're going to take a look at where the threat is headed next.

Also Treasury Secretary Geithner heading to Capitol Hill today. He's armed with a new plan to buy up bank's toxic assets. He's also expected to ask for greater power over some of these companies but will his message be heard? We're live from Washington.

It's 15 1/2 minutes after the hour.


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

We've been taking your calls and hearing what you have to say on the economy. You've answered by the thousands.

Here's one viewer sharing her thoughts about Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.


JOYCE, NORTH CAROLINA: Joyce from Greensboro, North Carolina.

Geithner needs to be left alone. He's doing a good job. People don't want Geithner and all the Obama representatives to succeed.


CHETRY: All right. And today Wall Street appears to be singing Geithner's praises after a bulls rally. But in Washington, it could be a different secretary. The Treasury secretary and Fed chief Ben Bernanke head to Capitol Hill in just hours.

They're going to be answering questions about the AIG mess and also the administration's new plan to buy up toxic bank assets. And you can bet lawmakers are already testing their zingers as we saw last week as well.

Carol Costello is live on the story from Washington and as you saw, I had a chance to speak to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs who said that the president has full faith in his treasury secretary, thinks he's doing a good job, and has a lot on his plate.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He certainly does. And later today, you're right, Kiran, it would be Tim Geithner's turn to testify before lawmakers once again and it is certain by the end he will feel like a human pinata.

It's the way congressional hearings are run now, especially if AIG is on the agenda.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is so outrageous.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's all the rage on Capitol Hill, the vilification of AIG.

REP. PAUL W. HODES (D), NEW HAMPSHIRE: AIG now stands for arrogance, incompetence and greed.

REP. GARY ACKERMAN (D), NEW YORK: It's like snake oil salesmen selling you jars of snake oil and they don't even have the oil in the jar.

COSTELLO: Those lines are not spontaneous, but carefully crafted.

JONATHAN ALLEN, CQPOLITICS.COM: That's the way you let your constituents know you're looking out for them. There is some value to holding up officials or even private executives to public scorn sometimes. The question is how much is too much?

COSTELLO: Some political observers say Congress has already crossed the line. Jonathan Allen compares the AIG hearings to the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s. Back then, Senator Joe McCarthy used his power to brand more than 200 government workers as card-carrying communists.

Today, Allen says Congress is branding all AIG employees robber barons even though no one broke the law.

ELIOT SPITZER, FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR: The outrage is legitimate. But it is being fomented by a sort of a faux populism by many on Capitol Hill who saw this coming; who knew this was going on.

I look at them and I say, "Come on, guys. You're supposed to be more mature." Express the anger but then say how do we solve it? Don't just throw more oil on the fire.

COSTELLO: And the fire is intense, so hot that some AIG employees live in fear.

EDWARD LIDDY, CEO & CHAIRMAN, AIG: I'm just really concerned about the safety of our people, so let me just read two things to you, "All the executives and their families should be executed with piano wire around their necks."

COSTELLO: On Tuesday, it will be Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's turn in the hot seat again. He'll testify for an eighth time, even though he's been on the job less than two months. On the agenda? When Geithner knew about those AIG bonuses; and while lawmakers say his testimony will provide important information, there are many who wonder.

LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Think back over the hearings that we've had since the start of the Obama administration. Has anything major been revealed that wasn't already in the newspapers or wasn't already known by Congressmen and the administration behind the scenes?


COSTELLO: And Larry Sabato says we expect our lawmakers to be grownups. But with Congress's low approval ratings maybe they feel added pressure to demonstrate they feel as angry as their constituents do.

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

ROBERTS: Lance Armstrong hits a rough patch during his racing comeback, taking a tumble in the race in Spain. We'll have the latest on his condition just ahead. It's 22 1/2 minutes now after the hour.

CHETRY: Red meat, red flag? See what a new report says about your age, eating red meat and your risk of heart disease. Life expectancy and diet, important news for meat eaters coming up in the Most News in the Morning.


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

Well, did you see us on Leno last night? Jay was a bit, shall we say, intrigued by our layout here in the studio. Check this out.


JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": I was watching CNN the other day and they tried something new by putting two sets of news anchors in the same shot? You know it's a lot about -- we have all this in the actual CNN.

Look at this. Here's the news. Look. Now, doesn't it look like two guys at an airport bar getting ready to hit on two other chicks? Hey, Bob, what do you think? I'm going to go for the blonde. Jim, you take the brunette.


LENO: Look at the gams on that one. Yes. No, no, I mean just a weird setup. Kind of a weird setup.


CHETRY: There you go. That's what happens when you take off, you know?

ROBERTS: It did kind of look a little bit like that, didn't it?

CHETRY: Well, it was funny. Behind Christine and me were Jim -- John Avalon and Errol Lewis, who were, you know, getting ready -- they were our political contributors and so they were back there discussing the news of the day and Christine and I are here discussing the news of the day. We weren't certainly talking about...

ROBERTS: But didn't John at one point ask you if you had a mirror so that you're looking in the rear view mirror like this?


CHETRY: No, he didn't ask.


But I'm glad that Jay Leno is watching.

ROBERTS: (INAUDIBLE) check out back there. CHETRY: You know? He's up so late and then he's up so early.

ROBERTS: Up so early, yes. Because the show airs between 3:00 and 6:00 on the west coast.

So thanks, Jay, for watching.

It's -- coming up at 27 minutes after the hour, we're breaking down these stories coming up in our next half hour here on the Most News in the Morning.

First a story breaking overnight that you need to know about. The Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner will be back on Capitol Hill this morning. CNN has learned that he's asking for even more power to deal with the financial crisis so that we never deal with an AIG ever again.

The race to hold back what could be a record flood. High school and college students were let out of class yesterday in Fargo, North Dakota to help stack two million sandbags along the Red River. The National Weather Service says the river is expected to crest at 22 feet above flood stage. Other parts of the state are seeing up to 40 inches of snow.

An about face for the New York senator Chuck Schumer. He now says, listen to this, he now says he supports gay marriage and his state is ready to take the lead on the issue. Schumer had previously supported civil unions which give same-sex couples some of the same rights as married men and women but stopped short of a full endorsement of same-sex marriage.

CHETRY: All right. Well, we are about 12 hours away now from President Obama's second news conference in primetime, the first one since the AIG bonus outrage. And it's a chance for the American people to hear it right from the president how he's planning to spend trillions of dollars of their money over the next couple of years.

Joining me now, Tara Wall of "The Washington Times" and CNN contributor, also Melissa Harris-Lacewell, associate professor at Princeton University.

Great to see both of you.

Melissa, let me start with you. So, President Obama is going to be talking about his $3.6 trillion plan in tonight's address. The Congressional Budget Office is estimating, though, that perhaps the Obama administration is giving a far rosier assessment of the economic recovery and gave the administration pretty much a failing grade when it comes to figuring out how to pay for all of this.

So what does he need to do tonight to convince the American public that this is the best way forward?

MELISSA HARRIS-LACEWELL, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, POLITICS & AFRICAN- AMERICAN STUDIES, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: I think he's got to do two things. The first most important thing is he's got to convince the American public that the long-term investments that he wants to make in infrastructure, in education, in health, those things are so important that it would actually be more expensive for us not to do them.

So I think he's got to make the analogy to families who, even when times are tough, find a way to pay for the best education for their children, find a way to care for themselves in terms of their physical health, try to find a way to stay in their homes. That's really what we're facing as a nation.

I think the second thing he's got to do is suggest that although he may have a rosy picture about where we're going to be in terms of our economy, he's also been more honest by putting everything on the balance sheets, most importantly the wars.

CHETRY: All right. And I want to ask you about this, Tara, because I know you're against the president's proposed budget. He said before when referring to health care, there's going to be no sacred cows here, that everybody has to give up something. He's talked about a grand bargain.

You don't believe that the budget reflects that sentiment?

TARA WALL, WASHINGTON TIMES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's not just me. I mean there are many conservatives. There are many in the public who he -- he just won't sell on this because -- and some degrees it's just not palatable. I mean this will add $1 trillion a year for 10 years to the budget. This is not -- or to the deficit.

This is not just my assessment, this is the Congressional Budget Office's assessment who said that this rate -- at that rate after 10 years it'd be at $9.3 trillion which is unsustainable and will bankrupt the country.

So again, those aren't my words.

But it does raise concerns among conservatives who are looking for ways, who are asking the President to look for ways to reduce spending overall and to reduce the budget deficit which Democrats, in fact, railed against President Bush for, for many, many years. We've got to find a way to chip away at that.

CHETRY: Melissa, I want to ask you about this because some of the criticism is certainly not even coming from the right or from conservatives. It's Frank Rich of "The New York Times" is calling this potentially President Obama's "Katrina Moment" saying that he's failed to address the full depth of the anger that Americans have, referring to AIG.

But also you have Paul Krugman, who is a Nobel Prize winning economist, saying that the bank plan filled him with despair and he says that went on to say that the President seemed determined to confirm the growing perception that he and his economic team are out of touch.

These aren't the people that usually attack President Obama when it comes to budget issues.

HARRIS-LACEWELL: Sure and I think that it's reasonable to point to the criticisms here. One of the things the Obama administration promised us is that they would be open to criticism so we don't want to be silencing, particularly the media at a time when newspapers are closing. We want to listen to what media sources are offering in terms of criticism.

On the other hand, there is something very ugly about Republicans in Congress making suggestions that we need to be budget hawks when it's really their massive budget problems over the course of the past eight years that have put us in our current situation.

With all due respect to my colleague, Paul Krugman, I think his anxiety is exactly the thing that actually rebounded the markets yesterday, which was sort of an enormous amount of assistance for the private investors coming back into Wall Street, which seemed to have made Wall Street, in fact, quite happy yesterday when those markets rebounded.

So I think we've got to listen to the criticisms but we also have to watch that the American people are showing a great deal of confidence and at the moment the markets are showing confidence, too.

CHETRY: Tara, I want to ask you about the AIG bonus backlash as sort of that we've been talking about this morning is that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is going to be talking at Congress today, asking for these unprecedented regulatory powers to be able to seize control of a company like AIG and much like the FDIC can do for banks or other things like investment banks, hedge funds and huge insurers in case they start to get into trouble.

Does the Obama administration have the political gain to get this?

WALL: This is quite chilling, actually. This power [AUDIO GAP] powers of government continually, I think it ought to raise concerns and not just raise concerns among Republicans or conservatives, and even folks in the mainstream but among an administration who wants to work with some of these investment firms and organizations and banks.

I mean it was President Obama who cautioned against penalizing or over-penalizing these banks in these new deal because he realized that they were going to have to draw in -- they were going to have to draw in these companies to get them to participate in the program. And you can't ask for them to participate when you're ganging up on them.

And so expanding government powers to essentially control the capital markets I think is a dangerous road to go on, and not just for the President himself, but for the country. And he should be cautioned against that, and I think he's got to keep an eye on that.

And absolutely, I think that the political capital part of it, well, that's for others to decide but I think he is starting to cash in some of those chips real early.

CHETRY: So we're going to see what members of Congress say when Tim Geithner goes before them today.

I want to thank both of you for being with us. And we're going to have to leave it there. Melissa Harris-Lacewell and Tara Wall, thanks.

WALL: You bet.

ROBERTS: Thirty-four minutes after the hour.

And here's a look at the news stories that we're tracking this morning. A federal judge in New York is ordering the government to give 17-year-olds access to plan B, also known as the morning after pill. The judge says, when it comes to the birth control product, the FDA was guided by politics during the Bush administration.

Seven-time Tour de France champion, Lance Armstrong says, he going to need surgery to repair a broken collarbone. He updated fans with news on his Twitter feed after crashing in a bike race in Spain. His last tweets, he was in the airport waiting to fly back, he also said, it's difficult to tweet with his left hand. Asked what he's doing or how he's doing, rather, Armstrong says he just needs some R&R.


LANCE ARMSTRONG, SEVEN-TIME TOUR DE FRANCE WINNER: I'm miserable right now, so now is not the time to ask, but you know, I need to just relax for a couple of days and fix the problem and then make a plan.


ROBERTS: And late night talk show titan David Letterman making news. Instead of making fun of the news the 61-year-old announcing that he's married his long time girlfriend and mother to his son, Regina Lasko. Of course he couldn't resist making the whole thing a punch line.


DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": On Thursday, at 3:00 p.m., March 19th, 2009, at the Teatime County Courthouse in Choteau, Montana, I was married to Regina Lasko.


LETTERMAN: Regina and I began dating February of 1986.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what I mean, that's what I mean.

LETTERMAN: And I said well things are going pretty good. Let's just see what happens in about ten years.


LETTERMAN: And people say, geez, Dave, you were together so long. Does it feel any different, and I say, yes. It does, it does.


CHETRY: He also went on to say that he felt that secretly married men were really proud of him that he wasn't married and then he felt like the last of the gunslingers, but in the end, he did it.

ROBERTS: Good for him, making the whole thing, sanctifying it with the bond of marriage.

CHETRY: That's right.

ROBERTS: I think that's a great thing.

CHETRY: All right, well can eating red meat shorten your life. We're going to talk about an important study. You've heard many studies back and forth about whether or not it's dangerous to eat too much red meat. Well, there's a new one out on your diet and your heart.

Also, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is headed to Mexico City, pushing President Obama's plan to fight the drug war next door. We're looking at a plan to keep the cartel violence out of the U.S.

It's 36 minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: All right, this one you're going to love. Have you ever said something that you wish you could take back or do you wish that you had said something that you didn't do? Or did you wish that you had done something that you didn't? Or wish that you hadn't done something that you did?

I'm getting all confused this morning.

Well, now it seems that your computer and cell phone can actually stop you from doing all of that nuttiness. Our Alina Cho is here to tell you just how it all works. Boy, I tell you, I could use that.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, who hasn't made an e-mail mistake, John? Good morning, everybody. We're talking about some new tech applications that will actually save you from your own stupid self.

How many of you have hit the "send" button on an personal e-mail when you suddenly realize it's headed to the wrong recipient or worse the entire staff at your office or maybe you'd had a couple of drinks or had a weak moment on the phone and making a late night call to an ex that you later regretted.

That's called drunk dialing folks and it's happened to the best of us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I've definitely sent e-mails I regret. I was just really annoyed at a friend. You know, you regret it afterwards.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once I sent a message to my ex-girlfriend that I still love her and I wanted to be with her, but that wasn't really, really true and then I got into lots of trouble because of that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll think that it's good in the moment and then I'll be like I shouldn't have said that.


CHO: Who hasn't done that. What if you could undo your mistake? Now you can. Gmail recently introduced a panic button of sorts. It allows users, listen carefully, to opt out of an e-mail transmission after you've hit the send button. The "Undo" option can be found next to the line confirming that your message has been sent. The only catch is you only have five seconds to undo your mistake.


CHO: Yes, but you know, the Google designer who came up with the idea says five seconds is usually enough time.

So what about those ill-advised phone calls? Apple's latest application is aptly called the "bad decision blocker." How it works is that you block the phone number in your iPhone address book of the person you know you shouldn't be calling. If you feel you need a week to cool off from a fight you had with a friend you can block that person in your address book for that period of time.

Maybe you need a month, you can do it for that period of time, too. And if you start dialing that number out of habit, your phone will not allow you to make the call. Unfortunately, though, you're going need some willpower because the bad decision blocker will not stop incoming calls from the person you're blocking -- but get this, Google also introduced something called mail goggles a rip of beer goggles where they ask to you do some simple math problems within 60 seconds and if you're able to complete the math problems you can send the e-mail and if you can't, you have to have some water and go right to bed.

ROBERTS: Yes, you could do that for phone calls too. That would stop the drunk dialing. Is five seconds long enough?

CHO: Well, they say -- the guy who came one the idea says five seconds is usually enough time. I mean, think about it. if you've done this before, I haven't but you know, others have.

ROBERTS: You would never do anything untoward, would you?

CHO: Never do anything like that. But you know...

ROBERTS: You are the epitome of... CHO: You flatter me. That's because I've been on vacation for ten days and just coming back.

ROBERTS: How many times you hit an e-mail and you said, "I sent it to the wrong person."

CHO: Maybe you meant to forward an e-mail and hit reply instead. Everybody's done that. Or you've hit reply all on an e-mail. They do say five seconds is often enough time to catch your mistakes. I don't know.

ROBERTS: Maybe mom's advice was the best. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

CHO: That's right.

ROBERTS: Alina, thanks so much.

CHO: You bet.

ROBERTS: Forty-three minutes now after the hour.

CHETRY: Falling through the cracks, tenants who pay their rent on time are getting tossed out anyway.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She knew that this house was foreclosing on her.


CHETRY: Housing crisis victims and they don't even own a house.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She needs to be out in two weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have to be out in two weeks.


CHETRY: Ahead on the Most News in the Morning.


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

To a developing story now we've been following here on the show, Mexico's government turning to cold, hard cash to fight back against deadly drug lords and their cartels. Mexican officials are now offering $2 million each for tips leading to the arrest of the country's top 24 drug lords.

Mexico's drug war has huge implications here at home as well. The violence spilling over the border and Americans guns and cash are fueling the drug lords' greed and violence.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is taking President Obama's plan to improve border safety to Mexico tomorrow. Foreign affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty has a preview this morning.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: John and Kiran, on her third mission outside of the United States as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton takes with her to Mexico specific proposals on how to improve relations, accept responsibility on both sides of the border, and how to fight narcotics traffickers.


DOUGHERTY (voice-over): Secretary of state Hillary Clinton will say the U.S. plans to crack down on weapons and money flowing south, fueling the drug cartels' war with Mexico.

A show of support from Mexico's President Felipe Calderon who says the U.S. bears some blame as what he calls the biggest consumer of drugs and biggest manufacturer of arms in the world. President Obama acknowledges it's a two-way street. His homeland security chief says it's time the U.S. takes responsibility.

JANET NAPOLITANO, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Who is supplying the big bulkloads -- we're talking carloads of cash and mega weapons going into Mexico.

DOUGHERTY: A new Pentagon report warns any dissent by Mexico into chaos would demand an American response based on the serious implications for homeland security.

To keep the drug war from spreading, the Obama administration will propose moving U.S. federal agents, equipment and resources to the border, more intelligence sharing and military cooperation with Mexico, and tighter legal enforcement to go after drug trafficking money and money laundering.

Clinton also was trying to prevent a trade war with Mexico slapping tariffs on U.S. exports affecting some $2.4 billion in goods across 40 states, payback for Congress banning some Mexican trucks from using U.S. highways.


DOUGHERTY: Clinton is one of three cabinet secretaries who will fly to Mexico before President Obama visits there next month. One issue not as hot button as usual, and that's illegal immigration. The numbers are going down as the U.S. economy worsens -- John, Kiran.

CHETRY: Jill Dougherty for us, thanks so much.

On the next hour of AMERICAN MORNING, we'll be talking to one economist who says that the answer to our drug problem is to legalize it. Legalize it all. We're going to hear his reasons why and question him of course about it ahead on the Most News in the Morning.

ROBERTS: A substantially controversial position, I would say.

CHETRY: A little bit.

ROBERTS: Renters kicked at the curb. What happens when your landlord drowns in debt and pulls you under, too? We'll find out.

It's 49 minutes after the hour.


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

There is important medical news today for anyone who eats red meat; a new link between your diet and how long you'll live. Our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, joins us now more on that. Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, and a sesame seed bun -- is it the best thing for us to be eating every day?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: John, I'm impressed. You watched a lot of TV in the '80s or '90s and whenever that was on.

ROBERTS: I've been watching it since the late '50s so I have a leg up on everybody here.

COHEN: That's a terrific job, terrific job.

About this study; it's very interesting. What the researchers did is that they polled more than 500,000 people about their diets. These were people who were older, they were between the ages of -- they were like in their 50s and 60s. Then they watched them for ten years to see what happened. And what they found is that the folks who had the highest amount of meat consumption had a 30 percent greater risk of dying during this ten-year period, compared to the lowest red meat consumers. As you can see, that's a pretty dramatic number.

We asked the meat industry, what do you think about this? It certainly doesn't make your product look very good and here is what they had to say.

They said, "consumers should take this latest -- set this latest study of the week aside or else they may experience another case of nutritional whiplash." What the American Meat Institute people went on to say this is self-reported data. They would ask someone and say, "John, how much meat do you eat on a regular basis?" And people would report what they ate. That's not always the most reliable information -- John.

ROBERTS: All right. So all things in moderation. Again, we learn.

COHEN: That's right.

ROBERTS: Elizabeth, thanks for that.

COHEN: Thanks.

ROBERTS: Fifty-three minutes now after the hour.

CHETRY: The president's prime time pitch. So important they even moved "American Idol." Now his press secretary has your exclusive preview.


GIBBS: This isn't anything crazy. This is common sense.


CHETRY: Plus, hidden victims of the housing crisis. Paying on time, but getting tossed out anyway.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You need to be out in two weeks?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have to be out in two weeks.


CHETRY: You're watching the Most News in the Morning.


CHETRY: Fifty-five minutes past the hour.

Here are the big stories we're watching for you. New developments this morning: investigators are looking into whether icing on the wings of a small plane may have caused that deadly crash in Butte, Montana. Safety officials say that the plane flew through a frigid humid air mass before nose-diving into a cemetery Sunday. All 14 people were killed, half were children. The NTSB says that the plane was only designed to hold ten people.

Congressman Barney Frank calling Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia a, quote, "homophobe." Frank, who's openly gay, was talking about - says why he doesn't want the issue of same-sex marriage to go before the high court.


FRANK: I do think this argument it is unconstitutional for the federal government to pick and choose as to which marriages it will accept as a good one. At some point, that is going to have to go to the United States Supreme Court. I wouldn't want it to go to United States Supreme Court now because that homophobe Antonin Scalia has got too many votes on this current court.


CHETRY: We reached out to a Supreme Court spokesperson who declined to comment on frank' words. Well, the octuplet mom Nadya Suleman has fired a group of nurses who had offered free 24/7 care for her kids. Suleman, seen here in the video from RadarOnline has accused the nurses of spying on her and reporting to the Child Welfare Services. The non-profit group Angels in Waiting has been training nannies to help the unemployed mother of 14 care for all of her kids.

Well, you don't have to own to get kicked to the curb in this foreclosure crisis. There are many renters being evicted even though they've always paid their rent on time.

Here's CNN's Deb Feyerick.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, Kiran, in this foreclosure fiasco, there's a whole group of people who have largely been ignored. Renters who are playing by the book only to find out their landlord was in trouble and never said a word.


FEYERICK (voice-over): When Lisa Brown moved into this rental house on Long Island last summer with her three daughters, she said it felt like a new beginning.

LISA BROWN, EVICTED RENTER: Once you got out in the park. I wanted to come here and I wanted to see my kids graduate from this school district.

FEYERICK: Instead...

(on camera): You need to be out in two weeks?

BROWN: I have to be out in two weeks.

FEYERICK (voice-over): Brown and her family are being evicted not because of anything they did, but because the landlord defaulted on the mortgage and the house was recently sold at auction.

(on camera): Did you ever think that somebody would actually rent you a home that was about to be sold to somebody else?

BROWN: She knew that this house was foreclosing on her. And she did nothing about it.

FEYERICK: Except take your money?

BROWN: That's it. Take my money.

FEYERICK (voice-over): Not to mention the upfront cost.

(on camera): It's $5,700 basically just to secure this?

BROWN: Yes. And she would not give me my deposit back.

FEYERICK: Nothing?

BROWN: Nothing.

FEYERICK (voice-over): It happens more often than you think. According to the Center for Housing Policy, nearly 20 percent of all foreclosures are on rental properties. While the owners know what is going on, renters are usually kept in the dark.

JEFFREY KLEIN (D), NEW YORK STATE SENATOR: In many instances, they are actually paying their rent on time and the owner of the property, who is in foreclosure is pocketing the money.

FEYERICK: New York State Senator Jeff Klein is working on a law already in place in a handful of states to warn renters of foreclosure proceedings ahead of time and thereby keep them from losing their security deposit and being evicted with nowhere to go.

KLEIN: What we're facing here is sort of the new homeless population, unless we do something about it.

FEYERICK: Eviction papers trump the lease. The renters have no legal right to stay.

BROWN: If it was me, yes, I can move out, I can go on my own. But it's my family you're talking about, you know? My three daughters, and my pets that I brought in thinking that we're going to stay and be, you know, happy, but, now, what am I going to do?


FEYERICK: Lisa Brown paid the broker $1,900. We spoke to him. He said he didn't know the house was in foreclosure when he rented it to her. We tried to reach the owner and the owner's phone has been disconnected. As for Brown, she is now looking for new place to live -- John, Kiran.