Return to Transcripts main page

American Morning

Coach's Wife: "I Know Everything"; Syracuse Fires Bernie Fine; More "Occupy" Protesters Out of Time; Angry Pakistan Shuts Supply Lines; Afghans Taking Greater Security Role; Aruba Suspect Headed to U.S.; Shoppers Log on for Savings; Egyptian Elections Begin; NH Newspaper Endorses Gingrich; A Royal Rescue; Sirhan Sirhan Seeks Prison Release; Shortened NBA Schedule Takes Shape

Aired November 28, 2011 - 05:59   ET



ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR: Another child sex abuse scandal exploding this morning. Syracuse has now fired associate basketball coach, Bernie Fine, after a new phone conversation surfaced between the accuser and Mrs. Fine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: What they fought for. Egypt heading to the polls today for the first time since protesters toppled Hosni Mubarak.

CHO: And who needs to work? It's time to shop. After a record Black Friday, it's Cyber Monday and we're on pace for one of the biggest holiday shopping seasons ever on this "American Morning."


ROMANS: Good morning, everybody. It's Monday, November 28th. Ali and Carol are both off. I'm Christine Romans along with Alina Cho here on this AMERICAN MORNING.

CHO: Welcome back. Did you have a nice weekend? Did you sleep?

ROMANS: I did.

ROMANS: I slept like 10 hours.

CHO: I'm sure you did. It's good to have you back. In case, you missed the news over the weekend, we begin this morning with a developing story.

Syracuse University associate head basketball coach Bernie Fine has now been fired, this after explosive allegations of sexually abusing two former ball boys. After the firing, head coach, Jim Boeheim who earlier defended Fine issued the following statement.

The allegations that have come forth today are disturbing and deeply troubling. I am personally very shocked because I have never witnessed any of the activities that have been alleged. I believe the university took the appropriate step tonight.

What is most important is that this matter be fully investigated and that anyone with information be supported to come forward so that the truth can be found.

He went on to say, I deeply regret any statements I made that might have inhibited that from occurring or been insensitive to victims of the abuse.

ESPN first reported the story. It has released a secretly recorded a conversation in 2002 between Fine's wife, Laurie Fine and one of the coach's accusers.

CNN's Deb Feyerick is live in Syracuse this morning. Deb, good morning.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alina. Good morning, Christine. Well, the accuser is Bobby Davis and lived in the Fine house for a period of time. He made the recording shortly after what he calls a decade of abuse.

That recording was never turned over to police, never turned over to investigators here at the university, but it does suggest that the coach's wife, Laurie Fine, not only knew about the alleged abuse, but also allowed it. Take a listen to the statement on the tape.


FINE: I know everything that went on, you know. I know everything that went on with him. Bernie has issues, maybe that he's not aware of, but he has issues. And you trusted somebody you should have.


FINE: Bernie is also in denial. I think that he did the things he did, but he's somehow through his own mental telepathy has erased them but out of his mind.

You know what, go to a place where there are gay boys. Find yourself a gay boy, you know, get your rocks off, have it be over with.

DAVIS: Yes, but --

FINE: You know, he needs -- that male companionship that I can't give him nor is he interested in me, and vice versa.

Because I care about you and I didn't want to see you being treated that way. It is like another girl like I told you it would be easy for me to step in because you know what you're up against, you're, when it's someone, it's another guy, you can't compete with that. It's just wrong and you were a kid. You're a man now, but you were a kid then.


FEYERICK: Davis made that tape after he'd approach Syracuse police who told him that statute of limitations was up, but he never pursued an invitation to come down and talk personally face to face to those police officers.

Laurie Fine, on the other hand, once those tapes were made -- once those tapes became public, a couple of years ago, she told a local paper that, in fact, she knew about the recordings, but believes that Bobby Davis edited them to make them appear more inflammatory.

Now, a third accuser has stepped forward. He is a 23-year-old man, Zach Tomasele. He says that 10 years ago, Coach Fine abused him in Pittsburgh, the night before a game. There are questions about this man's story. Police are indeed vetting it.

However, he says that, in fact, there was molestation. The father saying, nope, it never happened and in fact, the boy is facing his own teen sex abuse charges. As I said, the case was never investigated. Reaction here on campus, very strong. A lot of people did not believe this about Coach Fine.

Because they said he has always been outstanding, he is beloved by players and people here in the sports program, many of whom came to his defense. But it really appears that this tape is a game changer. That's why the university last night made the decision to fire him -- Alina.

CHO: All right, you'll be watching it all for us. Deb Feyerick live for us in Syracuse. Deb, thank you.

ROMANS: Time running out now for more Wall Street protesters. Hundreds of "Occupy Los Angeles" protesters were told to take their tents and leave their camp outside city hall by midnight on the West Coast.

But more showed up overnight and many of them haven't budged planning instead to hold a so-called eviction block party. No violence reported so far.

In Philadelphia, the deadline also came and went for "Occupy Philly" protesters to dismantle their camp. Hundreds of protesters gathered outside city hall with their arms locked at the 5:00 p.m. deadline yesterday brazing for a police fleet.

CHO: Pakistan choking of vital supply lines into Afghanistan this morning. The U.S. military bracing for revenge attacks. An air strike by a NATO helicopter killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

They were buried yesterday as anger on the streets erupted, but there's confusion over who fired the first shots. Our Reza Sayah is live in Islamabad this morning. Reza, good morning to you. REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Over the past 24 hours, there have been some reports out of Afghanistan that it was Pakistani soldiers who fired the first shots and provoked this NATO air strike.

This is a claim that Pakistani military officials are vehemently denying saying this was an unprovoked attack. In the meantime, in an exclusive interview with CNN today, Pakistan's prime minister called this the lowest point in U.S./Pakistani relations during his administration.

He said no longer is this going to be business as usual with Washington. He said the partnership cannot continue without public support and said after this incident, there's very little public support left.


YOUSUF RAZA GILANI, PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER: You cannot win any war without the support of the masses, and we need the people with us, and such sort of incidents are making people move away from this situation.

SAYAH: A lot of Pakistanis are fed up saying enough is enough. Has Pakistan reached a point of no return with its relationship with the U.S.?

GILANI: Business as usual will not be there. Therefore, we have to have something bigger so that to satisfy my nation and the entire country.

SAYAH: And what will satisfy your nation? What do you want?

GILANI: Exactly, therefore, to the leadership of my entire country who are the members of the parliamentary committee on the national security they will deliberate and give recommendations soon.

SAYAH: Is your prediction that this relationship will continue with Washington?

GILANI: That can continue on mutual respect and mutual interests.

SAYAH: Are you getting that respect?

GILANI: At the moment, not.

SAYAH: You're not getting that respect?

GILANI: If I can't protect the serenity of my country, how can we have mutual respect and mutual interests?


SAYAH: Even though the prime minister was clearly angry with this incident, it points out he was also very diplomatic, using some very measured statement. He said, look, I want U.S./Pakistani relations to continue, but there must be some changes.

As you heard, it's not clear what those changes are going to be. He's leaving it up to parliament to decide clearly. A lot of people eager to see how Washington and Islamabad resolve this potentially messy situation.

CHO: Reza, live for us from Islamabad. Reza, thank you very much.

And the president of Afghanistan is announcing a second group of locations in his country where security operations will be handed off from NATO to Afghan forces.

It's a key development in the draw drawdown of U.S. troops in the region and a key test for the Afghan military, which will soon be responsible for security in more than half the country including an area, which has been considered one of the most dangerous insurgent strongholds in Afghanistan.

ROMANS: In Aruba, the Maryland manifest, the center of a missing person's case is heading back to the U.S. Gary Giordano will be set free on Tuesday. A judge ordered his release after prosecutors fail to charge him with a crime.

Prosecutors say they are still in investigating. They'll head to court Wednesday to fight for his return. Giordano is linked to the disappearance of his travel companion, Robyn Gardner also from Maryland.

CHO: And if you plan to go to work today, well, today is the day to point your -- and click your to savings. It's Cyber Monday. A day dedicated to online deals and free shipping. It's estimated sales could hit a record $1.2 billion this year according to one online tracking firm.

And the steep discounts are also helping retailers this Black Friday. The National Retail Federation reports shoppers spent $52.4 billion over the four-day weekend. That's up 16 percent from last year.

ROMANS: I wonder where all of that money's coming from, but that's another question altogether.

All right, still to come, elections in Egypt under way all while thousands of protesters continue their occupation of Tahrir Square. We'll talk about what's at stake in Egypt for Egyptians and the U.S. when we're joined by Middle East expert.

CHO: And a big endorsement in New Hampshire for Newt Gingrich, but that's in Mitt Romney's backyard. So can he actually hope to knock off Romney in the granite state? We'll tell you. It's 10 minutes after the hour. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. We're back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROMANS: All right. Welcome back this morning. Egypt is at a crossroads this morning with thousands of protesters occupying Tahrir Square. Egyptians are heading to the polls.

It's the first stage of an election scheduled that's to last into March and comes on the heels of violent demonstrations that have killed at least 42 people.

Fawaz Gerges is with us live from London, he's the director of the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics and the author of the book "The Rise and Fall of Al Qaeda."

You know, Ben Wedeman reported to us earlier that it was calm, relatively well organized. There were no evidence of the thuggery that had been the highlight of the prior regime, and that people felt that they were doing their duty.

I mean, whatever happens in the end will happen, but at least the process seems to be going well.

FAWAZ GERGES, AUTHOR, "THE RISE AND FALL OF AL QAEDA": Well, I think it's a very important day for Egyptians. I think it's the first time, as you know, in decades, where Egyptians now are freely casting their votes, to elect their representative.

It's truly a historic moment. It's a moment of empowerment, but let me qualify here and say that the elections are being overshadowed by very dark clouds, the recent uprising in particular against Egypt military generals who basically refused to relinquish power as they had promised 10 months ago.

Secondly, you have deep divisions among oppositional groups, particularly divisions between religious activists whom we call Islamist liberals and finally, the voting system is designed to confuse, not to really facilitate voting by your average Egyptian.

So while it's an historic day for Egyptians, there are some major challenges facing Egypt in the next few weeks and next few months ahead.

ROMANS: Let's talk about the military, the consolidation of power from the military right now, something that concerns people who are in line who are voting.

Some of whom worry whoever is elected, you still have a military in control. How is this going to play out?

GERGES: Well, the reality is really, this is one of the biggest challenges facing Egypt. As you well know, after Mubarak was ousted ten months ago, the military generals pledged to basically relinquish power in 10 months or actually in six months.

ROMANS: Right.

GERGES: Now, they're talking about a year or two. And they would not really submit their authority to a civilian leadership. They are trying to postpone the inevitable that is basically relinquishing power to civilian authority. They will not really accept any kind of civilian oversight of the military budget and the military authority.

And what they have done in the last 10 months truly is extremely dangerous. They have manipulated the political promise -- process. They have driven a wedge among the political opposition groups, and that's why, in fact, we cannot understand the current crisis in Egypt without understanding the new cleavages and divides that exist among opposition groups.

ROMANS: Because this also had long been an ally of the United States that was seen as a secular haven in -- in a very volatile region and yet you have a lot of analysis that says the Muslim brotherhood could be poised to win a big -- a big chunk of the Parliament. Tell me about that.

GERGES: Well, I think the reality is the Muslim brotherhood and other religious activists, Islamists, will likely win a big chunk of the new parliament, many seats in the Parliament. That the new parliament will likely have a coalition group of Islamists who will likely be a majority along with some liberals and members of the old guard.

I know it's probably you'll be (ph) surprised that some of the Mubarak allies will likely win seats in the parliament. And this Parliament, the basic task of the Parliament is to basically nominate a committee to draw up the new constitution. But the reality is I think the Muslim brotherhood has evolved a great deal.

The Muslim brotherhood of today is not the same that existed in 1928 when the organization was built. It accepts the rules of the political game. It renounced violence in the late 1960s. It says that it will basically perform a coalition government with other groups, including liberals and seculars.

So the reality is even though the Muslim brotherhood remains, there are many question marks about the Muslim brotherhood. What most Egyptians would like the military to do is to basically relinquish power to civilian authority.

Because remember, I mean, again for your viewers in the United States and overseas, for the last 52 years since 1952, the Egyptian military has basically been in charge of Egyptian politics. That is 1952 to 2011. And that's why when we talk about Egypt and we talk about politics, we do not really focus on the abysmal social and economic contacts in Egypt. How many Americans know that out of 85 million Egyptians, 43 percent of the 85 million Egyptians live on less than $2 a day, either in poverty or below the poverty line?

The country is bankrupt. It's broken. Fragile institutions. This is the military's inhabitants since 1952. So even though many Egyptians are anxious about the role of the Muslim brotherhood, they would like a new era of civilian leadership to take over from the military because the military has only brought ruin to Egyptian civil society and Egyptian institutions, in particular. ROMANS: And certainly, Fawaz, an exciting day for all of those people who are casting a vote and for all of us watching as well. Fawaz Gerges, thank you so much.

GERGES: Pleasure.

CHO: Three American college students are back in the United States this morning, a few days after an Egyptian court ordered their release. They were accused of throwing Molotov cocktails during an uprising in Tahrir Square.

Georgetown University student Derrik Sweeney denies they did anything wrong telling CNN that Egyptian authorities beat them and threatened to shoot them, and that he actually fainted when he was confronted.

Stay with CNN all morning long because at 7:30 Eastern Time, we'll be joined live by Derrik Sweeney and his mother, Joy. Christine will be talking to them. Derrik says he would consider going back to Egypt some day. We're going to ask his mom what she thinks about that. Maybe not so fast, Derrik. His mom has anything to say.

ROMANS: You know, he was watching history and he's so darn lucky he wasn't a part of history. You know, I certainly doubt (ph).

CHO: Oh, wow.

ROMANS: OK. Somehow the travelers are still making their way home this morning. Jacqui Jeras is in the Extreme Weather Center. Good morning, Jacqui.

JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hey. Good morning, ladies.

It's going to be a little rough going for some of those travelers especially across parts of the southeast. And that's going to be our big focus today. We have an area of low pressure in the upper levels of the atmosphere. So this is a really slow-moving system.

Look at the showers from the Panhandle of Florida, stretching all the way up towards Canada. We're looking at heavier rain in North Georgia, up into Louisville, Kentucky, and we do have some flash flood watches which are in effect here, because we could see as much as two to five inches of rainfall before all is said and done. So be aware that there could be some water on the roadways. You don't want to drive through any of that, that's for sure.

All right. Let's watch this as it progresses into tomorrow, and I want to you pay close attention on what's going to happen on the back side of that system. Yes. See that white stuff moving in? That's a little snow for places like Memphis, into Tupelo, over towards Birmingham and even Atlanta. This is for tomorrow morning. Some of it will be mixing in, but the ground temperature, very warm. So a lot of it is going to be melting off immediately.

If you're traveling today, looking for delays in Atlanta, also Charlotte, Memphis, Nashville and Cincinnati. And out west, we're expecting some delays in San Francisco. We've got fog advisories in effect for the San Joaquin Valley. Nation's midsection looks very good. Nice, clear conditions, but the temperatures certainly on the chilly side. Take a look at your high today in Memphis, only 41 degrees, chilly.

Back to you guys.

CHO: What a spectacular week in the New York area. So, Jacqui, we thank you for that. I'm giving you full credit.

JERAS: Your rain will come tomorrow, Alina.

ROMANS: Giving you all the credit and all the blame.

CHO: All right.

ROMANS: Thanks, Jacqui.

All right. He's the second in line to the British throne and he's a real-life hero. Details on Prince William's weekend rescues straight ahead.

It's 21 minutes after the hour.


ROMANS: Welcome back. "Minding Your Business."

Shoppers start your search engines. It's Cyber Monday. According to the National Retail Federation, 123 million bargain hunters are expected to log on looking for deals today and the one day shopping event is projected to bring in a record $1.2 billion.

Those bargains today follow a record-breaking Black Friday and holiday weekend. Retailers took in a total $52.4 billion from Thursday through Sunday, that's up from $45 billion from last year. This is according to the National Retail Federation. And, you know, incomes are down. I don't know where everybody's getting all of this money.

Retailers seem to be pretty optimistic this holiday season. Investors, though, bracing for more uncertainty. Today the markets will be watching the E.U./U.S. Summit in Washington where leaders are expected to discuss ways to stop the credit crisis in Greece and the credit crisis in Italy from spreading to more countries in the region.

Right now, world markets are -- are up. So our U.S. stock futures, there's optimism this morning that Europe is moving forward to fix its -- its critical debt problems. This after a report in an Italian newspaper says that Italy and the IMF are in talks for a bailout. So far the IMF is denying reports of a bailout. The health of Italy's economy is crucial to the European Union. It's the region's third largest economy and, of course, the eurozone is America's biggest destination for the goods made here.

This week, we're also getting key readings on the housing market and the manufacturing attention then turns to the all-important November jobs report that comes out Friday. This year the U.S. economy is averaging 125,000 job gains a month. It's not enough to bring down the unemployment rate, though, which stands at about nine percent.

And "Twilight" trumps "The Muppets." The "Twilight" saga, "Breaking Dawn Part I" raked in $42 million over the weekend. Debuting at number two was Disney's family flick "The Muppets" with sales of $29.5 million.

AMERICAN MORNING will be back right after this quick break.


CHO (voice-over): Newt Gingrich winning a huge endorsement in New Hampshire, Mitt Romney's backyard. Another big boost to his surging campaign over the holiday weekend on this AMERICAN MORNING.

ROMANS (on camera): Good morning. Welcome back this Monday. It is 30 minutes after the hour. Time for the morning's top stories.

Syracuse University has fired associate men's basketball coach Bernie Fine. He's accused of abusing -- sexually abusing two former ball boys. The announcement coming amid reports now that a third accuser and it's after ESPN aired a secretly recorded conversation between the coach's wife and his initial accuser. On it, potentially damning evidence suggesting she knew about the abuse.

CHO: Egyptians are heading to the polls this morning. Many for the first time, as thousands of demonstrators continue their occupation of Cairo's Tahrir Square. It's Election Day.

The process of picking a new parliament is scheduled to last into March. And the head of Egypt's military council is warning there will be, quote, "dire consequences" if the country can't overcome its current political crisis.

ROMANS: And keeping our eye on occupy. Wall Street protesters in Los Angeles facing a deadline to clear out just a few hours ago, but many are refusing to budge. They're blocking a street and bracing for a police sweep this morning. So far, no violence or arrests reported there.

CHO: Back to our top story now. A big endorsement this morning for GOP front-runner Newt Gingrich. New Hampshire's largest newspaper, "The Union Leader," says Newt Gingrich is by no means the perfect candidate, but calls him the best candidate who's actually running.

CNN deputy political director Paul Steinhauser is live in Washington for us.

So, Paul, good morning. How big of a deal is this?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: You know, Alina, we talk about whether these endorsements, whether they matter or not. I think in this case, yes, this one actually matters. We're talking about New Hampshire, the first in the nation primary state that votes just after Iowa, the second state to vote.

And "The Union Leader" up in the Granite State is pretty influential on the Republican side. So, yes, that could change minds. It could influence some voters up there for Newt Gingrich.

And "The Union Leader" doesn't always get it right. Let's date back in 1980 when they endorse Ronald Reagan. They got that one right. He went on to win the primary, the nomination and the presidency.

But since then, only one other time, just four years ago, they endorsed John McCain who won out the nomination. Other than that, the people they've endorsed haven't always going on to win the nomination.

What about New Hampshire? This is Romney country. So, this is a big deal for Gingrich. Mitt Romney was former governor of Massachusetts and neighboring Massachusetts is right next door to the south of New Hampshire.

And right now, you look at every opinion poll up there, public opinion poll on the Republican side, and Mitt Romney is way on top. But Gingrich, Alina, he is starting to rise in the Granite State.

CHO: Yes, the big question, though, is, you know, we've seen Herman Cain on top. We've seen Rick Perry on top only to fall in the polls. You know, the big question is, does Newt Gingrich's campaign have legs?

I mean, I heard somewhere that one in three Romney supporters has chosen Gingrich as their second choice. So, really, this could be a very big deal, this endorsement, right? In terms of swaying people?

STEINHAUSER: It could. A lot of Republicans are not crazy about Mitt Romney and they're looking for the anti-Romney candidate. At one time, it was Michele Bachmann. She went up and down, and then it was Rick Perry, the Texas governor. And recently, it's been Herman Cain. Now, maybe Newt Gingrich.

Remember, the clock is ticking. Tomorrow, only five weeks until the first contest, the Iowa caucuses. So, not a lot of time left for Republican voters to make up their minds, Alina.

CHIO: All right. Paul Steinhauser, live for us in Washington -- Paul, thank you very much.

And we have this programming note. Stay with us. Newt Gingrich on "JOHN KING, USA," live at 6:00 p.m. Eastern tonight, right here on CNN.

ROMANS: All right, also new this morning -- in Ohio, three bodies turning up in shallow graves. They may all be the victims of a new Craigslist serial killer or killers. Police say the victims all answered an ad on Craigslist to be a caretaker for a cattle farm. Police say three men were lured in by the job posting and then they were killed after being robbed. The local sheriff says there are two suspects in custody connected to these killings.

A professor at the University of Utah arrested for allegedly watching child pornography on his laptop while onboard a flight to Boston. Police say another passenger actually took a cell phone photo of 47-year-old Grant Smith watching the video then told the crew. Smith has been charged with possession of child porn. He's expected to be arraigned today.

A terrifying moment caught on tape. A man walks into a jewelry store in London, pulls a knife out of his pocket, grabs the sales woman and holds the knife to her throat. The shopkeeper manages to free the woman by beating the would-be robber with a broom. Police still looking for that suspect.

CHO: Geez.

Well, he's not just second in line to the throne. He's also a hero. Plus, he's cute. A daring rescue mission in the Irish Sea involving Prince William.

The Royal Air Force pilot help saved two Russians from their sinking ship.

CNN's Dan Rivers is live in London for us.

So, Dan, good morning. What happened?


It was a huge storm in the Irish Sea that led this vessel into real trouble. The Swanland, the cargo ship with a Russian crew -- the hull of the ship broke, then, it capsized.

And basically Prince William, in his role as a search and rescue pilot, was scrambled from RAF Valley in North Wales, in Anglesey, out to help with the rescue, along with coast guard as well. He and his fellow crew pilot plucked two members of the crew to safety. Five are still missing, though. One body has, sadly, been found already, but they are still looking for five crew members.

And we're told that the search is resumed again this morning here in London, 8:00 a.m. London time. So, they're out again with another helicopter from RAF Valley. We haven't gotten confirmation whether Prince William is still involved at this point or whether he's off shift and it's another crew member.

But, certainly, this just underlines the fact that he's got an incredibly important job up there, being up there at RAF Valley. And it certainly is wild and wet and windy right on the Irish Sea. And that's the area of coastline and sea that he is involved with, with patrolling and helping to rescue people from.

CHO: And he'll be on assignment in the Falkland Islands I know later this year.

Meanwhile, I know this is all people are talking about in London. What's the reaction been from there, Dan?

RIVERS: Well, I think certainly a lot of coverage here in the newspapers, in the press. The Russian ambassador has even posted a letter of thanks to Prince William on the Russian embassy's Web site here in London. They're very grateful. All eight members of the crew are Russian. But people have gotten used to the idea of him being at the search and rescue pilot, and at the role of generally having a very active life in the military. Prince Harry, of course, deployed to Afghanistan.

But I think this is the first time we've got a real sense of them being involved in what is actually quite a dangerous situation, a really vicious storm out there, and not easy navigating these helicopters around in the strong winds of the Irish Sea. So I've been up there myself and seen them coming and going in pretty windy and wet conditions. So I know what it's like up there.

It's very remote, very isolated, and pretty hazardous to fly a helicopter around.

CHO: CNN's Dan Rivers, live for us in London -- Dan, thank you very much.

ROMANS: All right. Up next on AMERICAN MORNING: first, there was Black Friday. Then, Small Business Saturday. Now, it's Cyber Monday. And there are a lot of great deals out there.

Do you have any money? Where's all this money coming from? We're going to tell you about the deals.

It's 37 minutes after the hour.


ROMANS: All right. Welcome back.

More than six hours now into Cyber Monday here on the East Coast. It's another one of those retail hallmark holidays. It's the biggest, most critical online shopping day of the year. And almost every major retailer plans to take advantage of the hottest day, they hope, to shop online.

Joining me now to talk about the deals to be had and how Black Friday turned out for retailers, retailing analyst Marshal Cohen. He's the chief industry analyst for the NPD Group.

Welcome to the program.


ROMANS: Where's all this money coming from? I mean, it's a record weekend for sales but we know that discretionary, the money people have the last two quarters have been shrinking. So, where's the money coming from?

COHEN: It's what I call frugal fatigue. The consumers are tired of actually not spending. So, they've really saved up. And many of them have saved up just for this time.

Keep in mind that some consumers, 26 percent of consumers haven't been in stores all year and waiting for just this weekend.

ROMANS: Wow. And buying for themselves, too.

COHEN: There's a lot of -- 44 percent of consumers are actually buying for themselves and haven't even started holiday shopping yet, which is good news for retailers because that means there's still a lot of gifts to be gotten.

ROMANS: So, they're dipping into savings. They're probably using a credit card, if they can. How on the edge are these consumers, these people who are shopping? Because a lot of people want to say, oh, this is good for the economy. We're spending money. But I don't know that there's a lot of money out there to spend.

COHEN: Now, there's clearly an issue here, where the consumer has either tapped out their cash or tapped out their credit, or in most cases both. So, look for that traditional lull that we go into after today, Cyber Monday is over. You know, we're going to go into a two-week lull, and then, you know, they have to pay down on the debt on the card.

ROMANS: Right.

COHEN: Or wait for another paycheck cycle to be able to go out and spend again.

ROMANS: So, this big record week, is it just taking into account sales that could have happened later in the season you think?

COHEN: Excellent question. I call it sizzle or fizzle. Basically, we had a really great-sounding early start.

But as the weekend progressed, the consumer was tapped out and we're also going to see -- just because we had a great start doesn't necessarily translate to a huge success for the whole holiday. It's really going to come down to how much the consumer is now ready to go out and spend on the gifts part of the shopping.

ROMANS: We know that they spend, according to the National Retail Federation, I think almost $400 per person who's out there shopping. Who is out shopping? And you say 44 percent buying for themselves -- who is this shopper who loves this retail machine?

COHEN: You know, this year, we saw a couple of interesting things happen. We saw 12 percent more consumers engage in the Black Friday weekend specials, and it was friends and family. That's the increase in people who just stepped out and tried to go shop that didn't plan on shopping to do this. The others are, the younger generation that is willing to get online two days before --

ROMANS: Right.

COHEN: -- to be able to get some free hat or digital camera.

ROMANS: And not online, but in line, to get online.

COHEN: Exactly. You know, it's really all about, in many cases, it's just the thrill of the hunt, the discovery. Or a planned strategic purchase that they've been waiting for.

ROMANS: You know, so the whole Thanksgiving night thing, more than 200,000 people signed this petition from a guy who worked at Target, saying this is crazy -- you know, this is crazy. Why ask our families to work on the holiday?

Well, they're asking people to work on the holiday because people came. It worked. That's not going away. This moonlight madness is now a new part of the tradition.

COHEN: Open the doors, give them a good deal and they will come. It's what I call a new tradition. You're watching it happen right in front of your eyes. Retailers will not give up on an opportunity to take a national holiday -- this is not a religious holiday. This is a national holiday. Much like they've commercialized Presidents Day and Veterans Day and even Fourth of July and turned it into a sale opportunity, they're going to do this.

So the retailers that did not -- did not -- take advantage of those extended hour, some of them lost up to 8 percent of business. Not because it's bad business for them, but because other stores that did open early took their market share. The average store who opened up during that moonlight hours, you know, the Thursday hour, they actually increased their business by 21 percent.

ROMANS: What kind of deals are people really getting? Because, you know, some prices do get lower later on in the year. They really do. There are other sales. You can do all this online shopping, which some people are doing today.

I mean, what are you really getting if there are only 15 of the TVs at the price that's advertised?

COHEN: What you're getting is a lot of time that you spent on the line. And if you're not the 15th person in there, you know, you're not going to necessarily get it. So, really, what is the --

ROMANS: You'll spend money probably on something else?

COHEN: Well, that's the key. No one is getting on that line. And the conversion rate is 88 percent. That means the number of people who shopped actually bought, 88 percent.

That's a huge conversion rate number. So, it's very successful. So, do retailers want to do this? Yes. Is it worth them to offer you 20 items that they're going to lose money on? Absolutely yes. So that lost leader, the purpose of giving you those door-buster deals works wonders for them. ROMANS: For them, but maybe not for you. So, I guess, my last question, is it good for America that we're spending all this money living, we're living on the edge, and we're kind of feeding a beast that sounds like 2005? Like, we're a country of borrowed money, buying stuff that we don't necessarily need. Is that good?

COHEN: Short term, the answer is, yes. The consumer is the only one who's driving the economy right now. Recognize, the consumer went out this year even with nothing being done by the government. You know, I'm calling it the government that's stole Christmas, not the Grinch that stole Christmas this year.

The reason being, no tax rebates, no incentives to, you know, go out and spend, no credit availability. So many things that could have been done haven't been done, and the consumers are doing it on their own. So, the good news, the consumer is saying, you know what, give me a good deal, I'll go out and buy it.

ROMANS: Bad news is they're using their savings and their credit card to do it.

COHEN: That's the longer term issue.

ROMANS: All right. Marshal Cohen, thanks so much, NPD Group, nice to see you -- Alina.

CHO: All right, Christine. Marshal, thank you.

It is 46 minutes after the hour. The lawyers for the convicted assassin of RFK say they have new evidence now showing Surhan Surhan should be a free man. We'll have details coming up.

And how do the angels get their wings? I'm going to reveal Victoria's Secret a little bit later on in the show. It's 46 minutes after the hour. We're back after this.


CHO: Forty-eight minutes past the hour. Here's what you need to know to start your day.


CHO (voice-over): Syracuse University has fired associate men's basketball coach, Bernie Fine. He's accused of sexually abusing two former ball boys. The announcement coming after ESPN aired a secretly recorded conversation between the coach's wife, Laurie, and his initial accuser, which suggests she knew about the abuse.

It's Election Day in Egypt. Picking a new parliament is scheduled to last until March, and the head of Egypt's military council is warning there will be, quote, "dire consequences" if the country can't overcome its current political crisis.

The Arab league slapping Syria with economic sanctions. It's punishing Syria's government for its violent response to protests. 3,500 Syrians have been killed in recent demonstrations.

Newt Gingrich picking up a critical endorsement from New Hampshire's largest newspaper, "The Union Leader." The conservative publication says Gingrich is, by no means, the perfect candidate but calls him the best candidate who's actually running.

Lawyers for the men convicted in the assassination of presidential candidate senator, Robert F. Kennedy, say their client should be freed, because he's innocent. Surhan Surhan's lawyers claim there's new evidence he was hypnotically influenced to fire shots at Kennedy as a diversion, while the real gunman fired from another spot. Surhan Surhan is 67 and serving a life sentence for the shooting.

NBA owners and players are putting the finishing touches on a deal that ended the lockout on Saturday, finally. The league is planning a shortened 66-game schedule starting on Christmas Day and ending two weeks later than the season ended last year.


CHO: That's the news you need to know to start your day. AMERICAN MORNING is back after this.


ROMANS: Welcome back. "The Next List" is a new CNN program focusing on some of America's most creative minds. Each Sunday, Dr. Sanjay Gupta profiles people on the cutting edge of technology and innovation. This week, Sanjay visits the wacky world of robots.


HEATHER KNIGHT (PH), SOCIAL ROBOTATIST: My name is Heather Knight and I'm a social robotasist. Social robotatist is someone that makes robot that can interact with people in a human way. when I tell people that I make robots, they're usually like, oh, wow, that's really cool. And when I tell people I make social robot, usually, they're a little bit confused at first, and I find the best way to talk about what I actually do is by example.


ROMANS: You can catch "The Next List" each Sunday, 2:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN. Of course, technology innovation is the way the country's going.

CHO: That's right.

ROMANS: And so, we're trying to highlight some of these great moments.

CHO: Sanjay is a busy guy, by the way.

ROMANS: Yes, he is.

CHO: Hey, you know, the Victoria's Secret fashion show is without a doubt the most watched, and perhaps, in some circles, the most anticipated fashion show in the world. And let's be honest, it's not about the underwear. It's a about the models and what they're wearing on their backs.

We're talking about those now those iconic wings. So, what exactly goes into making them? I recently went behind the scenes to have a look.


CHO (voice-over): The Victoria's Secret fashion show may be the only one in the world that celebrates models wearing almost nothing, and the only one that features these -- wings --beautiful wings.

DOUTZEN KROES, MODEL: Every girl that does Victoria's Secret wants the wings. It's a really big deal. I don't think people know how big of a deal it is.

CHO: This is a supermodel, Doutzen Kroes, fifth year walking the show, but only her third as a Victoria Secret angel wearing wings.

KROES: I saw those wings, and they were coming closer and closer, and then, I was like, yes.

CHO (on-camera): Do you every get wings and have them taken away?



THOMAS: That's unacceptable.

CHO: That would be devastating.


CHO (voice-over): Todd Thomas is the man behind the wings.

(on-camera) Not every model gets a wing?

THOMAS: Not everybody does. No. huh-uh.

CHO (voice-over): Thomas gave me a behind-the-scenes tour of this year's wing collection for the latest show.

THOMAS: This year, we've topped ourselves, both in the number of looks and in the number of wings. We have 68 looks and we have 31 wings.

CHO (on-camera): Some people might think every look has a wing. Not true.

THOMAS: No, it's not true.

CHO (voice-over): That's because if every look did, models would have trouble passing each other on the catwalk.

IZABEL GOULART, MODEL: They're beautiful. Very big. The only thing on the runway, it takes all the space of the runway. So, when my girlfriend just crossing me, I have to give a little turn.

CHO: The wings are elaborate.

THOMAS: This is an automated pair of wings.

CHO: Made from everything from feathers to aluminum.

ARMANDO FARFAN, WING DESIGNER: As big as we go or as heavy as we go or as incredibly spectacular as we go, they have to be light.

CHO: To this one, gold plated with Swarovski crystals costing $100,000 and weighing 35 pounds.

(on-camera) Tell me about walking with the wing. That takes practice.

KROES: Yes. Yes. That's why it's good to start small and get bigger.

CHO (voice-over): They're all handmade. The process starts nine months before the show, with sketches, then prototypes, then about three months before, the wing team gets to work.

(on-camera) So, months?

THOMAS: Months. Yes.

CHO: This isn't just slapped together in a week?

THOMAS: It's not like, P.S., by the way, we're doing this wing.

CHO (voice-over): Once it's show time --

(on-camera) Do you get nervous?

KROES: Oh, yes, of course. I have underwear.

CHO: You do?


CHO: That is what Victoria's Secret is selling, after all, underwear, but it's certainly not what everyone is watching when the show is on. That's for sure, particularly, the men in the audience.

ROMANS: I've noticed the wings

CHO: Exactly. And for those, many of you, who might be interested, the Victoria's Secret fashion show airs tomorrow on CBS. And I must tell you, want to feel like a mere mortal, go hang out with those models.

ROMANS: Yes, who were like, what, 6'1" in their bare feet.

CHO: Exactly.


CHO: Exactly. And don't eat.


Ahead next hour, an American student talking about his time in Egyptian custody. Derrik Sweeney (ph) saying he was roughed up by police. He's going to join us live with more on his terrifying ordeal.