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CNN Saturday Morning News

President Names New FDA Chief; Brazilian Leader To Visit White House; Stocks May Be Historic Bargain; Interview With Charles Barkley

Aired March 14, 2009 - 06:00   ET


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hey there, everybody. From the CNN Center, this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING. 6:00 a.m. -- 6:00 a.m. here.

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, I know. 5:00 -- 5:00 -- 5:00 a.m. where I'm from.

HOLMES: Where you're from, in Chicago. Yes, but it's 3:00 out West for you folks that are dragging in from the clubs this morning.

But hello to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes.

ROESGEN: And I'm Susie Roesgen, filling in for Betty Nguyen today.

You know, it's St. Patrick's Day.

HOLMES: Is -- is it?

ROESGEN: Your eyes are green. Because you're not wearing -- you're not wearing anything green.

HOLMES: But that counts, right? That -- so does this count?

ROESGEN: Yes, St. Patrick's Day. Yes, that counts.

Anyway, filling in today for Betty Nguyen.

HOLMES: Good to have you here.

ROESGEN: Thanks.

HOLMES: Welcome. Haven't been here in awhile with us.

ROESGEN: Glad to be here. Been a long time, yes.

HOLMES: Yes, we start an hour earlier now.

ROESGEN: And it's supposed to be warmer in Atlanta than it is in Chicago.

HOLMES: In Chicago.

ROESGEN: I'm kind of surprised though today. I mean, it's cold...

(CROSSTALK) ROESGEN: Cold for the St. Patrick's Day parades, anyway.

In the news today, President Barack Obama is trying to create tougher food-safety standards. We'll be talking about his new people that he wants to lead the FDA, the Food and Drug Administration.

HOLMES: Yes, that's coming up.

Also this morning, folks in Michigan got a bit of a mess going on there. They are mopping up in a major way. They got floodwaters that really caused a state of emergency there. We're going to be checking in with our Reynolds Wolf to see what the weather is like in that part of the country.

Also coming up, you cannot miss this interview -- a lot of people have been waiting to see. Take a listen:


CHARLES BRAKLEY, FMR. NBA PLAYER: Never do it again. Never. I'm going to get a taxi or a car. Never going to do that again.


HOLMES: Yes, Sir Charles. He is going to be talking about the DUI he got. Also, his time in jail and a lot of other things, and why he says he will never, ever drink and drive again. He gave his first television interview since -- since that arrest, and since getting out of jail. That will be along this morning. So stay with us for that.

But new this morning, want to tell you about first here: the president has a new head of the FDA. Her name is Margaret Hamburg. There she is; you're seeing her picture there.

Now, the FDA, as you know, has been really in a mess lately. A lot of scrutiny, a lot of criticism of that agency given. What we saw with the tainted peanut butter, also some issues with -- with tainted medicines, unsafe medicines.

But Hamburg, she is now going to be in charge of getting that agency back on track. She is currently with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. That's a group founded by Ted Turner to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons and biological and chemical weapons as well. She has also served in the Department of Health and Human Services in the Clinton administration.

Also, the president, Obama, he is picking Baltimore's health commissioner as the FDA's second in command.

ROESGEN: And President Obama will start the day with his usual briefing in the Oval Office, and then later this morning he's going to welcome Brazilian President Lula da Silva to the White House. They're going to be talking about a lot of issues: the upcoming G-20 meeting of the world's leading economic advisers, the financial ministers; and the Summit of the Americas. HOLMES: Also, a good week on Wall Street. It was Friday the 13th yesterday, but still, turned out to be a good day. Four straight days of gains. That's after hitting the lowest point in 12 years. That happened on Monday. Stocks saw their biggest weekly gain since November.

But despite the rally that we saw, Wall Street still far from being in the clear right about now.

ROESGEN: So are -- so are the rest of our bank accounts.

HOLMES: Yes, it's no reason to start celebrating just yet.

But our -- our White House correspondent Dan Lothian, he has the upside now to a down market. He's telling you now might be the right time to go get yourself a deal.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With stocks, housing, and jobs in the tank, the president's top economic adviser suggested some may consider this crisis the sale of the century.

And Larry Summers is advising companies sitting on the sidelines to jump in.

LAWRENCE SUMMERS, DIR., NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: Those who have sound longterm strategies, who have investments that they want to make, who see productive opportunity. are going to find this a very good moment. There are a very large number of things that are on sale today.

LOTHIAN: President Obama made a similar endorsement of the stock market last week.

BARACK H. OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Profit and earning ratios are starting to get to the point where buying stocks is a potentially good deal if you've got a longterm perspective on it.

LOTHIAN: The White House was quick to knock down suggestions that Mr. Obama was encouraging Americans to buy.

Spokesman Robert Gibbs was at it again.

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't think today's speech was -- was designed to provide stock tips for the American people. But instead, to demonstrate a road map forward that the administration and the economic team have developed to get our economy moving again.

LOTHIAN: And one of the cylinders to get the economic engine moving again appears to be confidence. In recent days, the administration has made a clear shift with more positive talk.

From the president: OBAMA: We're going to get through this. And I'm very confident about that.

LOTHIAN: And those around him.

SUMMERS: What we need today is more optimism and more confidence.


HOLMES: Our Dan Lothian there reporting.

As you hear, more confidence coming from the administration. Still, they're saying, not time to go pop the champagne corks just yet. They are encouraged by a few small signs that they are seeing, however. Playing on that "Mission Accomplished" banner, that contentious moment that the Bush administration had about their war in Iraq, Robert Gibbs, a spokesman for the White House says, "We haven't flown any 'Mission Accomplished' banners."


ROESGEN: Well, in the meantime, financial leaders from the world's top 20 economies are meeting outside London this morning. The G-20, as they're called, are divided over whether to use government spending and tax cuts or better regulations and better enforcement to try to boost the world's economy.

Switzerland's leaders say it will begin cooperating with international investigations of tax evaders. And that's breaking with the tradition of protecting wealthy foreigners who hide billions of dollars in Swiss banks.

And OPEC members are meeting in Vienna tomorrow. The organization of oil-producing nations could cut oil output to boost prices and risk worsening the recession, or they might do nothing. A barrel of crude oil today costs less than one-third of last summer's record-high price.

And long delays on the way to a job fair in Independence, Ohio. These pictures were taken by one of our iReporters, Miguel Spivey. He says despite a traffic jam and then the long line that you see circling around the building, there was no pushing, no shoving. People were polite. A lot of unemployed folks just trying to stay calm in the face of our national adversity.

HOLMES: All right. Stay with me here. A black man and a white man walk into the bank, both going for a mortgage loan. But the black man and the white man have the same qualifications, but the black man ends up with a higher interest rate.

Well, the NAACP says that is happening, happening a lot, calling it "institutionalized racism." And now they are going after the banks, suing two of the biggest: HSBC as well as Wells Fargo. They're going after them for these practices. Want to open it up and look at their books, saying that African-Americans are getting expensive subprime mortgages. And they got them during that housing boom. Again, saying that the whites with the same credit scores got better deals.

Now, black home buyers, according to the NAACP, were three-and-a- half times more likely to receive a subprime loan than white borrowers.

Just yesterday, sat down here with in the "CNN NEWSROOM," with the president of the NAACP, talking about those lawsuits.


BENJAMIN TODD JEALOUS, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NAACP: You know, we have targeted these banks because we have gone through what we can get our hands on and it seems like there's a real problem here.

With that said, what we want is transparency. You know, we -we want to see the -- the books. We -- we are not seeking damages. We just want them to fix the problem.

HOLMES: How widespread do you think -- like you said, this is going to be up to a dozen, now, banks that you have this suit against. So I guess how widespread -- you only have 12 banks here -- but do you think this is a systemwide problem?

JEALOUS: This is certainly a very common problem.

And you got to remember that the banking industry has been very consolidated. So when you're talking about going from 12 banks or 14 banks, that's actually -- and you're talking about big -you know, big banks like Wells Fargo...


JEALOUS: ...that's a big chunk of the industry.

And what we're seeing is time and time again, black people with assets -- you know, so they already owned their home, they had good credit, they had a job, they had the same qualifications as a white counterpart. And yet, when they walked out of the bank, they were being charged more.

If it was a -- if it was a conventional loan, it was 1.3 percent more. If they had been pushed into a subprime loan, it was 2.75 percent more. And we all know -- you know, the difference between paying 6 percent and 7.85 percent is huge. That could -- that often decides whether or not you can hold on to your house.

HOLMES: To your house or not.

And do you all believe that there are actual policies in place that people and -- people who are out there, these mortgage brokers, are actually saying and actually pushing a policy against blacks and against minorities? Or do you just think there are just some leftover attitudes that continue to permeate this whole system?

JEALOUS: You know, it's probably, you know -- the -- the second option. You know, the reality is -- and this is a great country. We've - we've made a lot of changes. But there's some old patterns and problems that continue to persist.


HOLMES: And again, that was the NAACP president, Mr. Ben Jealous.

Meanwhile, HSBC did issue a statement, saying, "We do not comment on litigation. HSBC stands by its fair lending and consumer-protection practices and we are confident that we are treating our customers fairly and with integrity" -- end quote there.

Also, Wells Fargo, calls the lawsuits "unfounded and reckless." Their statement goes on to say, "We have never tolerated and will never tolerate discrimination in any way, shape or form."

Now as always here, we're asking you to participate in our newscast. And we'd like your comments about this story and the others of the day. What do you think about the NAACP lawsuits?

And also, you can sound off about just about anything going out there if you'd like to, but specifically on this, we've been asking for your comments. And Betty and I, as always, we like to bring you into this conversation via our Facebook and our Twitter pages. Susan Roesgen here, this weekend, she is going to have a Facebook page before the end of this...

ROESGEN: No. No, no, no. I'm just to read your Facebook page, OK? That's another way not to deal face-to-face with anybody yet (ph).

HOLMES: And that's unfortunate. That's unfortunate.

ROESGEN: But OK, you can teach me.

HOLMES: Let's do (ph). No, no, no. We just learned ourselves. We're just getting on this bandwagon. Our viewers know that. Betty and I are quite the novices at this thing.

But a couple of comments I'll share with you here.

Carol (ph) commenting about Wells Fargo and also HSBC saying, "Wells Fargo should have been sued long ago." She actually claims that she and her husband were wrongly accused of filing fraudulent loan applications back in 1993 because they're in a mixed marriage: "No loan, no apology, took all our money out of their bank and will never bank there again." Again, that was from Carol.

Got another one I want to make my way down to here on the Facebook page that came to me from Cheryl (ph): "For that lawsuit, while I don't know of anyone directly affected these claims, I must say, I would not be surprised if they are found to be true. Our presumption would be that it is a case of only a handful of brokers abusing power. But whatever the case, hope that fairness prevails." Again, keep your comments coming in to us at our Facebook pages...

ROESGEN: It's a good question.

HOLMES: It is a good question.


HOLMES: It gets people talking, because...

ROESGEN: It really does.

HOLMES: And NAACP is trying to figure out -- they want to look at the books. That's the big thing; they want this lawsuit -- they want the banks to have to open up their books so they really can examine some of these practices.

ROESGEN: Well, you know, we're going to have a story next week, T.J., on -- on a couple that's trying to buy black. They call it the "ebony experiment" -- an African-American couple in Chicago. And one of the problems they're having is finding black-owned banks or black brokers.


ROESGEN: They -- they find a black-owned grocery store, a black- owned gas station. But it's the financial industry that they're really having trouble cracking.

HOLMES: And next week, of course, CNN dedicating ourselves to nothing but the economy next week. That will be part of one of the stories I'm sure we'll see next week.

ROESGEN: And you want to be inside watching -- or inside today...


ROESGEN: ...because it's going to be rainy, rainy for much of the country for those St. Patrick's Day parades, huh Reynolds?


You know, and speaking of St. Patrick's Day and speaking of green, we got plenty of it on the map right behind me, showing you flood watches and warnings still in effect for parts of the Midwest, areas that have been just jack hammered by heavy rain.

Check out this video -- we're going to show you how long the -- the flooding is going to last, when it's going to get better and we're going to show you where the heavy rain is expected later on today.

That's coming up in a few moments.

HOLMES: All right, Renny. We appreciate you, buddy. See you shortly.

And also, you'll want to stick around for this: Charles Barkley, been in the news a lot lately, some for the wrong reasons. But he always speaks his mind. But he's speaking it again. His first television interview since he got out of jail last weekend for that DUI. He is not blaming anyone for his situation but himself.



CHARLES BARKLEY, TNT/NBA ANALYST: The arrest was 100 percent my fault. It's unacceptable for me to get a DUI. And I can't ever do that again. That's the bottom line of that.

A hundred percent my fault. It ain't the cops. It ain't my friends. A hundred percent my fault. That can't happen again.

OK, now let's go forward.



HOLMES: All right, Reynolds. Take it away. Tell me what we're -- what we're looking at here.

WOLF: What you're seeing here, T.J. -- this is parts of southeastern Michigan. This is not far from Dundee, Michigan, near the Raisin River.

Now the issue that you've had here is, you've had plenty of rainfall in this area, this particular area. About 4 inches of rain. And when you have so much rain that falls at a given time, I -- you know, you're going to have some runoff. With the runoff, you're going to have some flooding. And that was the situation.

Even the boat -- the boat got swamped there.

HOLMES: Too much water for the boat.

WOLF: Yes. Yes. When that happens, you know you're in some -- some big trouble. I'll -- I'll tell you that the rivers are receding, so great news for them. Bad news, the cleanup begins.

And let me tell you, man: when it comes to weather phenomena, floods are disgusting. Nasty, nasty stuff. I mean, you have got sewage that's backed up, chemicals go everywhere. I mean, it is just -- it's a tremendous mess (INAUDIBLE).

HOLMES: But you said it's receding quickly.

WOLF: It is going to start receding. When I say quickly, we're talking -- it's going to be just dropping a little bit. Tomorrow, it's going to look much better than it did yesterday, and then -- by the time I'd say we get into Wednesday or so next week, river levels should remain -- should drop a little bit.

They're not going to have a drop of rain in that area for probably the next week or so. So ...

HOLMES: Good news.

WOLF: Things are looking good.

In fact, let me show you back over here on the map, we've got -- got a bunch of places still where you have a lot of warnings (INAUDIBLE) and watches (INAUDIBLE). And in fact, everything shaded in green, just in time for Saints Pat -- St. Patrick's Day, you've got all these issues.

Thing is though, the rain, as I mentioned, is moving out of the region. This is your top weather story, the conditions that you have out here on many of these rivers, especially in parts of southeastern Michigan and into portions of the Midwest, back into Indiana and even along the Mississippi River.

Now, as we make our way to the south though, that's where all your rain is going to be today, limited along some of the Gulf Coast, back into, say, portions of -- of , say, the Bluegrass region, back into portions of, say, Georgia, then back into Tennessee, Alabama, even into Mississippi.

Now if you have anything planned today, for your weekend, you're going to be dealing with those scattered showers in the Southeast. In parts of the Northeast, in New York, some partly cloudy skies can be expected, back down into the nation's midsection, pretty dry for you.

Pacific Northwest, rain is likely. In the higher elevations, we're talking about that possibility of snow, with highs mainly in the 40s. Fifty-four in Salt Lake City; 49 in Chicago, 50 in Nashville and 51 Atlanta. Eighty-three your high in Tampa.

Now, we know spring break is taking place for a lot of folks. If you're headed to Padre Island, showers and 65 degrees can be expected. As we make our way a little bit more to the East, for Destin, 66; still, the rain continues back into Florida. Conditions get a little bit better, sunny skies, 81 degrees -- rather, 80 degrees in Fort Lauderdale. And if you're lucky enough to head over to the Bahamas, 80 at Nassau. Looking pretty good. Good times.

You know, if it's raining, it's spring break -- just hang out. Do something else.

Don't get -- don't let me give you some ideas. I mean, come on.

HOLMES: (INAUDIBLE) What do you got? What -- what your ideas?


ROESGEN: Besides the Bahamas, yes.

WOLF: Again, it's a family show. The memories are blurred, come on. I -- I yes, I was in ATO (ph).

HOLMES: I don't know what you did on your spring breaks, Reynolds.

ROESGEN: But you studied, right?


WOLF: I studied like you wouldn't believe.


WOLF: Yes, and I've got that -- I've got that 2.0 average to prove it.


ROESGEN: Scholar, man.

WOLF: That's right. Good times.

HOLMES All right. Thank you, Reynolds. We appreciate you.

Everybody's been trying to keep up -- how are you doing about keeping up with these numbers, how much money we're trying to spend right now to save the economy. Can you...

ROESGEN: I'm just trying to stay awake, T.J.

HOLMES: Trying to -- yes, it's 6:00.

ROESGEN: But beyond that, the numbers just keep spinning, you know?

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She's not used to our schedule yet, T.J.

ROESGEN: Yes, what's a trillion? What's a billion? What's a million?

HOLMES: What's it all?

ROESGEN: I mean, we don't know anymore.

HOLMES: Josh Levs again with the big calculator. He's trying to figure this thing out for us.

Josh, good morning to you, sir.

LEVS: They should get me a big calculator.

Good morning to you, guys. And we'll get Susan Roesgen some of my Red Bull during the break.

So here's the thing: every week we're hearing about another trillion dollars, right? A new trillion-dollar plan. So the real question: how big a hole are we digging in order to get out of the hole that we're in?

Well, we have stunning new numbers for you.



HOLMES: You know, it's an inspiring song even.

ROESGEN: Yes. It's kind of Bruce Springsteen-esque.

HOLMES: Esque.

ROESGEN: John Mellencamp-esque.

HOLMES: But this is inspired by the economy. This is Tom Henry, one of our I-Reporters -- sent this into us. And the band -- what else? -- they're called the Bailouts.

ROESGEN: That's pretty good.

HOLMES: That is pretty good.


HOLMES: Hey, you do what you got to do in these times. He's got the shades; got the backup singer there and everything.

ROESGEN: He's got that and the baseball camp kind of -- no, that's the -- oh God, now I'm drawing a blank.

HOLMES: Uh oh.

ROESGEN: Jimmy Buffett.

HOLMES: Jimmy Buffett, I can do that (ph).


HOLMES: Jimmy Buffett.

All right. We're talking about the money now on the economy and on this bailout stuff, how much money are we going to have to spend to get out of a recession? We've already been funneling billions and billions to the banks, mortgage lenders, stimulus projects. How much? We're probably in the trillions.

ROESGEN: You're sounding like a Republican today.


ROESGEN: Yes, you are.

HOLMES: Don't -- don't say that now.

ROESGEN: But I'm not saying -- I'm just saying -- I'm just saying -- anyways, a lot of big numbers. And I think it's gotten to the point where -- you can kind of envision a million maybe, but what's a billion? What's a zillion? What's a trillion?

HOLMES: Don't know how many zeroes that is.

ROESGEN: Well, Josh Levs does, and he's got his eye on how much debt we are accruing...

LEVS: Yes.

ROESGEN: a nation, is that right?

LEVS: Yes. Yes, we're going to take a look at -- I wish someone could set this to music, make it a little bit happier.

This will definitely wake you up when you guys see this -- are you ready for this? Take a look; we're going to zoom in. The -- the CNN Money Team has put this together. Keep in mind, the recession has been going on for more than a year, right?

I just want to show you what they've put together because this is astounding: They have listed all of the programs together over the past year. Everything combined, going back to December 2007. We got the checks later, we got the TARP, we got all that money. Look at that:

You have two figures here: $11.6 trillion is how much the nation has promised so far, has allocated for our economic-rescue packages; $2.3 trillion spent so far.

And actually, I'll show you one more thing, because this is a cool feature. We can actually break it down within that. So, $11.6 trillion allocated, right? But if you hear, let's say -- oh, how much is AIG getting? You can go click on this right here, and it'll trace you through where that money is going, how much of it has been spent.

If you want to follow the figures, guys, that is a really good way to do it. So keep in mind, we are obviously accruing a whole bunch more debt when we're in the process of trying to rescue the economy there.

ROESGEN: Can I ask, Josh, real -- real quick -- what -- what was that Web site again? Because I'll -- I'll check it.

LEVS: Yes, this is from This is ours.

ROESGEN: OK. This is OK.

LEVS: Yes.

ROESGEN: Well, you know, the national debt...

LEVS: Yes.

ROESGEN: ...and I -- sometimes I think, well, is that our debt to other nations, or our debt when we spend ourselves? What is it? LEVS: I can show you that, actually. Let's zoom in on the board. I'll show you the breakdown on that.

We have that right here from Basically, our -- this is our total debt right here, $10.9 trillion as a nation, our debt right now, before we shrunk (that). And of that $4.3 trillion we -- belongs -- go -- belongs to other countries. So we're talking about approximately $4 trillion that belongs to foreign countries. And then the rest is people who own bonds in U.S. government.

HOLMES: All right, Josh. So much about the recovery...

LEVS: Yes.

HOLMES: is not just about what the markets do, not just about numbers that come out, it's about people's confidence.

LEVS: Right.

HOLMES: Well how confident are our viewers right now that the government is doing what needs to be done, is going to be able to turn this thing around?

LEVS: Yes, and that's kind of the plus side here. Actually, it's good we're talking about that. Because you can see the huge numbers, it can be kind of depressing, a little bit scary.

But I'll show you, we have -- I think two weeks ago, we started this discussion on my Facebook page, joshlevscnn. Take a look at this: We asked people what they think -- Are you more confident -- and this is what people have been saying, even this week "I'm definitely more confident than before." This is Agreena (ph). "I think a big part of it is desensitization to dire economic news. There's a feeling in the air that there's no place to go but up at this point."

And I'll show you another one from Nick (ph). It came after the stock market did well this week: "I'm feeling a little more confident with the economy. I feel though even though President Obama is making an attempt to improve the economy as a whole, it's still going to take quite a bit of time."

So people can keep weighing in there. But guys, you know? I have been seeing, by far, more positive sentiment about the way things are heading. So maybe that's a sign that people are feeling pretty good.

ROESGEN: Well, we are just trying to think positive because maybe we'll think our way out of this thing.

LEVS: Yes, right. Right. Cross your fingers and hope.

HOLMES: Whatever works.

LEVS: Yes.


HOLMES: All right, Josh. We appreciate you.

LEVS: Thanks, guys.

HOLMES: Well, he's only been in charge for a few weeks, and he's involved in a controversy again. The Republican Party chief, Michael Steele, he is making some enemies.

Also, we've got this to show you:


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't attribute any sincerity or honesty to anything he said.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not enough just to say, 'OK, I'm guilty. Put me away.' What about all the other people involved? What about his family? I want to know, what about the money?


ROESGEN: Yes, how do you apologize for destroying people's savings?

Bernie Madoff, you know he was convicted. He plead guilty. Victims of the Ponzi scheme showing up at court to give him a piece of their mind, because that seems to be all they can do.


HOLMES: Good morning, again, everybody. Welcome back to CNN SATURDAY MORNING. I'm. T.J. Holmes.

ROESGEN: And I'm Susie Roesgen. I'm filling in for Betty Nguyen.

HOLMES: Good to have you here.

ROESGEN: I think you're either an insomniac if you're up at this hour, or you're stocking shelves at Wal-Mart.

HOLMES: No, there are a lot of people just wake up because they just love this show.

ROESGEN: Greet the day. OK, OK.

Well, we're going to get straight to some of the top stories that we're working on today.

New leadership for the Food and Drug Administration. President Obama has chosen Margaret Hamburg --you see her there -- to be the commissioner of the FDA. Hamburg has held a number of positions in public health. And for the second in command there at the FDA the president has picked Baltimore's health commissioner. Chris Hill is President Obama's nominee for ambassador to Iraq and he faces one of his toughest critics next week, Senator McCain. McCain has questioned Hill's qualifications because Hill doesn't have any experience in Iraq. He has, however, been involved in North Korea and Bosnia. Lots of foreign affairs experience, but not in Iraq. In any case, McCain and South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham released a statement last Thursday saying that the next ambassador to Iraq should have experience in the Middle East.

HOLMES: All right. It has been a rough go for the Republican National Committee Chairman. He's had to backpedal now on another controversial comment he's made. Michael Steele is his name. He came under fire again this week for these comments he made to "GQ" magazine about abortion.

And this is what he said, quote, "The choice issue cuts two ways. You can choose life or you can choose abortion. You know, my mother chose life, so, you know, I think the power of argument of choice boils down to stating a case for one or the other." Now when he was asked if he was saying women have the right to choose, he did reply, quote, "Yeah. I mean, again, I think it's an individual choice," end quote.

And you know that got the attention of some Republicans. They say he either needs to get his act together or he needs to get out of the way. CNN's Senior Producer Sasha Johnson joins us now from Washington, D.C.

Sasha, good to see you. Haven't see you here in a while, with us on the weekend. But good to have you back.

Tell us, is this a case, many people think he is just new to the job and he's making some adjustments, or maybe he is not the right guy for the job?

SASHA JOHNSON, CNN SR. POLITICAL PRODUCER: It depends on who you talk to, but I can tell you the sentiment is out there on both sides of what you just said. Michael Steele did have to come out and say, of course I'm pro-life, of course I agree with the tenements of the Republican Party platform, which do not agree with the choice to have an abortion. They are pro-life.

He got some blowback pretty quickly from other conservatives. Ken Blackwell, in particular, who's the former secretary of state of Ohio and the guy who ran against him for RNC chair, who threw his support behind Steele.

And he said, let me read this, "Chairman Steele is the leader of America's Pro life conservative party, he needs to reread the Bible, the U.S. Constitution, and the 2008 GOP platform. "


JOHNSON: "He then needs to get to work or get out of the way."

HOLMES: Whoa! JOHNSON: So, conservatives are not happy with Michael Steele right now. They haven't been happy with the Republican Party for a while. So we spoke with one who said, look, I'm used to this. I'm used to the Republican Party not agreeing with me, but Michael Steele is just sort of out of control at this point.

HOLMES: Out of control at this point. Again, is a lot of this a learning curve right now? He used to be a pundit.


HOLMES: He's so used to giving his opinion and saying what he wants and sometimes being controversial, but he's forgetting he's not that guy anymore. And sometimes he's still adjusting what he's saying, depending on the audience he's talking to.

JOHNSON: Exactly. We saw him here on CNN criticize Rush Limbaugh, when he was speaking to D.L. Hughley. And say, you know, of course, what Rush Limbaugh says is hateful and it's wrong. Then he had to go and apologize to Rush Limbaugh because so many Republicans were upset.

But look, it's sort of -- people are talking about whether he can actually keep his job at this point. It would be hard for him to be unseated as RNC chair, it would take a two-thirds vote of RNC members. But the bigger question right now is again, whether he has control of the party.

Whether he can fundraise, whether he has the credibility to do the, quote, "blocking and tackling" the party chairs need to do. And that we still need to wait and see, if that happens. He's finally hired a chief of staff, he's got a communications director. He's kind of gone underground and hasn't done too many interviews. So they're trying to regroup, but this is not a headline the party needs right now.

HOLMES: Sasha Johnson, CNN senior political producer, we'll be back with you in about an hour. I think we're talking about the president and the economy next. Is that right?

JOHNSON: Exactly.

HOLMES: All right. Sasha, good to have you back. Good to see you. We'll see you soon.

JOHNSON: See you soon.

HOLMES: All right. Susan.

ROESGEN: Now we've got an update on this unbelievable story we had yesterday about a day care worker who's just given up her license, turned it in. She's not going to do it anymore, after 10 children accidentally drank windshield washer fluid.

It happened at a day care in Little Rock, Arkansas, on Thursday. The children were given windshield wiper fluid to drink after the day care worker thought it was blue Kool-Aid. It was in the refrigerator. Apparently, what happened was someone had gone to the store and gotten a lot of different things. And windshield wiper fluid wound up in the refrigerator. They say what you've got to take away from this is don't have any kind of car products or washer products of any kind in your kitchen. That's how mistakes happen.

One child is still recovering in the hospital. The good news is, you know, nobody died, but a day care worker is just about out of the business now because of a terrible mistake that could have been really bad.

HOLMES: That's unbelievable.

ROESGEN: They're blue and they're in a plastic jug. That's a good warning. A good warning.

HOLMES: Parents know not to do that. Of all places, not to do that is a day care.

ROESGEN: Kids are distracting entities.

HOLMES: Goodness. You're right.

ROESGEN: If someone stole all of your money, you'd probably give them more than a piece of your mind, but that's all the victims of convicted swindler Bernie Madoff are able to do. You'll hear how angry they are.

HOLMES: And also our Josh Levs. He is getting behind the wheel for you. Which are the best used car in this market? Stay with us.


ROESGEN: Every single day, those job cuts. Every day.

You know, some people don't work for a living, they steal for a living. And even this guy admits it. Bernie Madoff, the money guy, was sent to jail this week, he pled guilty. He said he never invested anybody's money, he just kind of hung on to it, in what was supposed to be some kind of return on your investment and turned out to be billions in a Ponzi scheme.

HOLMES: A Ponzi -- $65 billion in a Ponzi scheme. Now, in court, some of the victims, they cheered. But as our Jason Carroll now reports, as the saying goes, revenge is bittersweet.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Outside federal court, a gathering of angry voices.

CYNTHIA FRIEDMAN, MADOFF VICTIM: I think he should rot in hell. He's evil.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a sick man. And his going to jail, I don't even think that's really just punishment. CARROLL: The victims from what may be the biggest scam in Wall Street history unable to contain their bitterness towards Bernard Madoff, the man who in some cases took everything they had.

DEBRA SCHWARTZ, MADOFF VICTIM: It just sickens me. The whole thing sickens me.

FRIEDMAN: He's way up there with all the evil people in the world.

CARROLL: Madoff pled guilty to 11 felony counts and told the court he was ashamed and sorry. Saying, "I am painfully aware that I have deeply hurt many, many people, including members of my family and the thousands of client who is gave me their money."

Clients like New Jersey State Senator Loretta Weinberg.

LORRETTA WEINBERG, MADOFF VICTIM: To me Bernie Madoff is a sociopath. He's a man with no morals, no standards, no set of values whatsoever.

CARROLL: Feelings of betrayal are deep. Many of Madoff's victims saying neither his guilty plea nor his apology make up for the billions he stole.

HELEN DAVIS CHAITMAN, MADOFF VICTIMS: I don't attribute any sincerity or honesty to anything he says.

RICHARD FRIEDMAN, MADOFF VICTIM: It's not enough just to say, OK, I'm guilty, put me away. What about the other people involved? What about his family? I want to know, what about the money?

CARROLL: Prosecutors say Madoff's fraud may have totaled close to $65 billion, money taken from modest investors, wealthy celebrities, even noble laureate and holocaust survivor Eli Wiesel, leading to public fury so intense Madoff wore a bulletproof vest to court. His attorney received death threats. Seeing Madoff taken from court in handcuffs for some is not justice.

DR. GAIL SALTZ, PSYCHIATRIST: For some people, that's not even going to be close to enough. Because at the end of the day, him sitting in jail, doesn't bring you back your money.

CARROLL: Victims like Miriam Siegman, who came to court, are still trying to comprehend it all. Her life savings gone. She showed me the food stamp card she now needs.

(On camera): Why did you come down today? What did you hope to ...

MIRIAM SIEGMAN, MADOFF VICTIM: I came down, you know, damned if I know. I came down because I need to feel connected to what -- I'm feeling the result of what's happened, but it's like living in a bubble of nothingness.

CARROLL (On camera): The anger from many of the victims I spoke to also directed at the U.S. government, which they say should have seen the signs of Madoff's scam along ago. Madoff will be sentenced on June 16th. He's likely to spend the rest of his life in jail. His victims say prosecutors also need to pursue other people they suspect may have helped Madoff with his financial scheme.

Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


ROESGEN: You know, I was thinking about that story, T.J. So many people on either coast, but so many people in the middle of the country never even had enough to know who this guy was and they get ripped off by people locally.

HOLMES: Hopefully not on that scale.

ROESGEN: T.J. has said he's going to show me how to get set up on Facebook, at last.

HOLMES: This is the blind leading the blind.

ROESGEN: OK, well.

HOLMES: It really is.

ROESGEN: By the time I figure out Facebook, you'll have to teach me Twittering.


ROESGEN: That's the other big thing.

HOLMES: She's laughing. Our floor director here is laughing, because she knows, every weekend, we struggle with this thing, Betty and I. We don't know what we're doing.

ROESGEN: OK, for the people who do Twitter.


ROESGEN: Here's a list. They've come out now with the list of the top cities for Twittering, in case you're curious. And Chicago, my home base, is number three on that list, according to It starts with London, LA, Chicago, New York, and San Francisco.

Once again, I say, T.J., it's another way for people not to have any face-to-face conversations. To send dumb, dimwitted Twittering


ROESGEN: OK, now, I know some people -- but look, look, look.


ROESGEN: The producers always provide us with some good things. There is some guy, the biggest guy in Chicago, who's supposed to be -- he does like 12,000 people, get his updates on everything, including an update on how the cab smelled when he got in it.

Dim, dim, dumb!

HOLMES: There are other updates you could give people. Like I said, there was a plane crash not along ago. A guy was actually Twittering, let his friends know he was OK.

ROESGEN: Instead of Twittering he should be just getting out of the plane!

HOLMES: He didn't have to swim. It wasn't on water.

ROESGEN: Get in front of the other guy and get out. I'm just razzing you. We'll try to get to both.

HOLMES: Maybe we won't get you on Twitter.


ROESGEN: I'm too much of a cynic. Anyway ...

HOLMES: Angry tweets from Susan.

ROESGEN: Angry tweets.

You know, it's bound to happen with a stimulus bill, there's bound to be some cynics in that, too. So if we're getting all this money out there, why do we still have crumbling classrooms? That's what some people want to know. They feel that they've been left out of the stimulus package. Not getting the money they need because of a feud between the state and the federal government. We'll tell you about that.

HOLMES: Also, speaking of Twitter, I sent a tweet, when I was sitting down with an interview this week with Charles Barkley.

ROESGEN: Oh, really?

HOLMES: Yes, I said, hey, sitting down with Charles Barkley.

ROESGEN: I'm with Charles Barkley. Aren't you envious?

HOLMES: Sitting down with Sir Charles.

But that was an update that I did give. I wouldn't dare go one on one with this guy on a court, but in an interview room, not so bad. Check it out.


BARKLEY: I don't think I have a drinking problem, but it's something I need to give serious consideration to. And that's what these classes really have helped me. Because just because you don't by yourself, just because you don't drink in the morning, just because you don't drink every day doesn't mean you don't have a drinking problem.



HOLMES: All right. Sir Charles, Charles Barkley did something not along ago that you don't see a lot of celebrities do when they get in trouble. He came out and took full responsibility for what he did. But that's not the end of the story. Of course, you're familiar with the DUI arrest and you know he just got out of jail last weekend serving time for that DUI.

But I get the rest of the story. This week he sat down here, with me, for his first interview since getting out of jail. Take a listen.


HOLMES: (On camera): I don't want to relive and go through everything what happened the night of the arrest. What I want you to do now is ...

BARKLEY: Let me just say this ...

HOLMES: Well, you want to go say something? All right, go ahead.

BARKLEY: I to say something. The arrest was 100 percent my fault. It's unacceptable for me to get a DUI. And I can't ever do that again. That's the bottom line on that.

HOLMES: You actually said to me that, that might have been one of the best things that ever happened to you was to get a DUI.

BARKLEY: It was.


BARKLEY: Well, you think about this. I've been in the NBA since 1984. And everybody wants to make a big deal out of me going to jail and everything. That was the best thing that ever happened to me, because I got lucky. I just got a weekend in jail. I could be a hypocrite and tell people not to drink and drive, but most people when they go out, they drink and drive. But I want them to really think hard about it.

Clearly, it attracts a lot of attention if it's me, but I really do think I'm lucky. I mean, I could have killed somebody, or myself.

HOLMES: You'd never do it again?

BARKLEY: Never do it again. Never. I'm going to get a taxi or a car. I'm never going to do that again. Think about it, everybody says, oh, Charles Barkley is going to jail. I'm like, first of all -- when you go to jail, that's serious stuff, but, you know, when you're in jail, you sit there and are like, wow, this is the penance I've got to pay. HOLMES: You are finishing up -- I know you've got to go to a few classes -- I mean, you've done the jail sentence and you have to go to classes.

BARKLEY: Classes have been great.

HOLMES: Classes have been great. Now, you had to go through these, would you say, at any point, have you had, do you have now, a drinking problem?

BARKLEY: You know, T.J., that's a great question. I'm trying to figure out the answer. Because you ask yourself, I drink a lot. I probably drink too much. But then, you know, you're like, but I don't drink every day. That's why the classes have been helpful for me.

HOLMES: When you got pulled over that night, a bunch of things could have gone through your mind, your daughter, your family, TNT.


HOLMES: T-Mobile, your future career, all kinds of things. What was actually the first thing? When you knew it was getting real and you were in trouble.


HOLMES: What was the first thing, would you say, that went through your mind, honestly?

BARKLEY: This is going to embarrass a lot of people. Because I understand now, we live in -- if you're famous now, you do anything wrong, it's going to explode. I mean, it's going to -- that's just the thing we live in now. I just felt bad for my family and friends. I never felt bad for myself, to be honest with you.

HOLMES: What was the conversation like with your daughter?

BARKLEY: She understands that anything dad does is going to be local, national. And I said, hey -- she said, dad, you made a mistake, you really screwed up. And I said, you're right.

HOLMES: What did you learn about fans? About friends? About your bosses through this whole thing?

BARKLEY: When complete strangers come up to you and say, hey, man, hang in there, I can't tell you what it meant to me. It meant, I mean, really want to get emotional. For complete strangers to walk up to me and say, hey, hang in there, you'll get through this. It meant the greatest -- it was the best thing in the world.

HOLMES: Let's move on to talk about role models. Let's talk about Alex Rodriguez and Michael Phelps. These two guys around the same time, not too long ago, done some things out in public they had to come out and apologize for publicly. They did it a lot differently from the way you did it. BARKLEY: Kids aren't smoking dope because Michael Phelps would do it. That's one of the biggest myths in the world. Kids are not getting DUIs because Charles Barkley did it. Kids aren't doing steroids because A-Rod did it. That's what the public wants you to believe.


HOLMES: There was a lot more to that conversation, guys. I'm going to add, again, so much is out there and just gave him an opportunity to clear a lot of things up that a lot of people are ...

ROESGEN: Like ...

HOLMES: Yeah, go ahead.

ROESGEN: Well, I have two questions.


ROESGEN: Kind of dimwitted Twitter questions.


ROESGEN: But why didn't he wear the stripes and everything, they didn't have one tall enough for him?

HOLMES: No. No, actually he went in, of course, that press conference that he had right before he went in ...

ROESGEN: That was weird, too.

HOLMES: That was very strange.

HOLMES: That was very strange. That was one of the first questions I asked. But the sheriff out there, he said, when the sheriff asks you, I could have been out there and had a tough time in jail for a lot longer. So he said he didn't feel like he was in the position where he could really demand anything. So he said, whatever you need, Sheriff, I'll do what you need to do. And Sheriff Joe Arpaio, we know he's not one to necessarily duff the limelight and sometimes seeks that spotlight.

ROESGEN: The sheriff does, yes.

HOLMES: So, the sheriff does. So he asked him to do it. And he said, just fine. And he wanted to do whatever he should have been doing.

But he also didn't stay in his -- prisoners in tents there right?

HOLMES: Tent city.

ROESGEN: Outside, and he didn't stay there either.

HOLMES: Well, he stayed in the tent, yes. ROESGEN: I heard he didn't stay in a tent?

HOLMES: Yes, he did.

ROESGEN: He had his own tent or something?

HOLMES: He had a tent. He had to be separated at some level, at least, from a lot of the other prisoners there. But yes, he kind joked about, you know, a jail cell you are used to hearing it clank or something, a jail cell. But it was kind of zzzzzz, where you kind of zip up the ...


REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Like a camp, basically, is what happened.


HOLMES: The flap of a tent.

WOLF: One thing I noticed about your interview, you know, Charles, not an outside shooter. He's the type of guy who drove the lane. He basically didn't shy away from any question you had. He answered. Seemed straight up, was very up front with you.

HOLMES: That's something else about him. And I know, Diana (ph) is telling me to wrap here. But still the last thing, here, I want to say is that, yes, in fact, that's something he did throughout his career, it has gotten him in trouble sometimes. But he sticks with it. He's not hiring a PR person. He doesn't want a publicist to put out a statement for him. You have a question, ask me, and I'll answer it. And that's end of story.

ROESGEN: And he did.

HOLMES: And he did.

ROESGEN: You asked him the questions and he answered them.

HOLMES: We'll have a lot more on that interview throughout the morning, longer form of it. You'll see a whole lot more of it this morning. Also, it's one of the top stories on, right now. You can still see it. That's on our front page, You can see that.

Also, going to be talking about A student is drawing some attention to her crumbling school. And lawmakers are listening. They should be. It landed her a seat next to Michelle Obama, even.


ROESGEN: Well, you know, it was bound to happen. In all the debate over the stimulus package, some students now are stuck in the middle of a stimulus squabble. It's in Dillon, South Carolina, where one special guest of the president is not going to get the support she thought she would.

CNN's Jessica Yellin has the story from Dillon.


TYSHEOMA BETHEA, STUDENT, J.V. MARTIN JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL: The second floor has been condemned.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tysheoma Bethea felt she had to speak up. Her school was crumbling and Congress was not going to approve money that could be used to rebuild it. She wrote a letter to lawmakers, begging for help.

BETHEA: I said that we are not quitters. And we, as students from Dillon, can make a change in that we're just students trying to become lawyers, doctors, congressmen, and also presidents.

YELLIN: The letter made its way to the Oval Office and brought an extraordinary invitation. The White House sat Tysheoma right next to Michelle Obama at the president's address to Congress. It seemed help was on the way. New stimulus money was coming from Washington and Tysheoma thought her school, J.V. Martin, would finally be rebuilt.

Now she doesn't know what to think. Her governor, Mark Sanford, just announced he won't use his share of the stimulus money on projects like rebuilding Tysheoma's school.

GOV. MARK SANFORD, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: It's easy to fall into the trap of, we need to fix this one school. But the hat that I wear is to look as best I can, and it will be imperfect, at the state in its entirety.

YELLIN: Taking a stand against government spending, Sanford says he'd only be willing to use the $700 million to pay down the state debt. That means Tysheoma's community is left with its crumbling school. She gave us a tour. It is astonishing. The auditorium has been condemned. They use the stage for storage.

BETHEA: It's been condemned for a while. And the walls are starting to peel off and stuff is starting to fall off the ceiling.

YELLIN: She says the coach cancels basketball games when it rains.

BETHEA: The roof leaks water through the small cracks in the top of the roof.

YELLIN: And the old trailers have walls so thin the teacher has to pause whenever a train rolls by.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The train is coming, so I have to stop.

YELLIN: That happens about five times a day.

(On camera): The school is in an area that's called the corridor of shame. A stretch of highway which neighborhoods that are enormously poor and largely African-American. Some critics say that quite simply the state does not want to spend money educating black kids.

(voice over): South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn is outraged the governor won't spend stimulus money in this community.

REP. JAMES CLYBURN, (D) SOUTH CAROLINA: It is a slap in the face of the people who live in those counties. Now, if the majority of the people who live in those counties happen to be African-American, it's a slam in their face as well.

YELLIN: Sanford flatly rejects the charge.

SANFORD: Spending money that you don't have, I think, is a horrible idea.

YELLIN: His office points out state lawmakers could rebuild J.V. Martin with their own funds.

Ty'Sheoma says she just wants the squabbling to end.

BETHEA: The politicians should be giving advice to me as a student, instead of me giving advice to a politician as just a little girl from Dillon.


HOLMES: From the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia, this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING. It's 7:00 Eastern Time, 4:00 out in Los Angeles, California. I'm T.J. Holmes.

ROESGEN: And I'm Susan Roesgen, always complaining about filling in for Betty Nguyen. I love Betty, but this shift is incredible. How do you do it?


ROESGEN: OK. So, we're here. We're here.

HOLMES: We're good now.

ROESGEN: We say: tanks for starting your day with us.


ROESGEN: And I'm going to also say today, before you eat breakfast, think about this, who is really watching out for the safety of your food? We're going to have so much about that, about possible, you know, environmental terrorism and this kind of thing.


ROESGEN: So, it's really important who's going to be the new head of the FDA. And as of this morning, President Obama has a new choice. We'll tell you why he's turning his focus from the economy to your meals. HOLMES: Also this morning -- racism possibly the cause of part of the housing foreclosure crisis. Well, the NAACP certainly thinks it's contributing. I talked to the NAACP President Ben Jealous. You'll hear from him in just a few minutes.

ROESGEN: And, first this morning, though, a gathering of finance ministers from the world's wealthiest nations in England. It's a prelude to the G-20 Summit scheduled to be hosted in London in April. The number one issue, of course, is getting the global economy out of the tailspin. Washington and some European nations are divided about whether spending more money is the right way to go or whether getting tougher on economic rules is the right way to go.

President Obama says he is confident that our nation will get over its economic troubles. He says his administration is working nonstop on a campaign to increase credit flow and build the long-term recovery. The president's economic advisers say people are too afraid right now to trust the markets and, you know, the investors seem as if they're afraid every day. It goes up and down. But the administration says folks need to get out of the worried mindset if the economy is ever really going to get back on track.

And here's what we were talking about: the new leadership for the Food and Drug Administration. President Obama has nominated this woman, Margaret Hamburg, to be the commissioner. She has held a number of positions in public health.

The president says Americans have to be able to trust the government to make sure that our food and medicine is safe.


OBAMA: As part of our commitment to public health, our Agriculture Department is closing a loophole in the system to ensure that diseased cows don't find their way into the food supply. And we're also strengthening our food safety system and modernizing our labs with a $1 billion investment, a portion of which will go towards significantly increasing the number of food inspectors helping ensure that the FDA has the staff and support they need to protect the food we eat.

In the end, food safety is something I take seriously. Not just as your president, but as a parent. When I heard peanut products were being contaminated earlier this year, I immediately thought of my 7- year-old daughter, Sasha, who has peanut butter sandwiches for lunch probably three times a week.

No parent should have to worry that their child is going to get sick from their lunch, just as no family should have to worry that the medicines they buy will cause them harm. Protecting the safety of our food and drugs is one of the most fundamental responsibilities government has and with the outstanding team I am announcing today, it is a responsibility that I intend to uphold in the months and years to come.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROESGEN: So, again, we've got Margaret Hamburg. She's going to be the leader of the FDA. The second in command is going to be Baltimore's health commissioner -- T.J.?

HOLMES: All right, Susan.

Well, some major banks are reporting some improvement this week. Citi, among them, said they were in the black the first couple months out of this year. Also, Wall Street is ending the week on an up swing. Whoohoo!

So, armed with some apparently good news for a change, President Obama is taking a different tone on the economy. Our senior political producer, Sasha Johnson, following everything from Washington, joins us again.

Well, Sasha, I was scared to go outside because it sounded like the sky was falling when all of this whole stimulus debate was going on.


HOLMES: But now, there is a new positive and confident tone coming out of the White House.

JOHNSON: Yes, there definitely was a tonal shift, especially this week. Remember, about a week ago, we started hearing the president talk about, it might actually be a good time to buy stocks. Yesterday, he started talking about how he was confident in America. He started talking about a post-bubble economy, kind of how the economy would be after the recession, how people should live their lives when it came to how they dealt with their money after the recession was over.

You know, remember that the White House really got criticized roundly that they were too dour about the economy, that they weren't instilling people with the confidence that the economy needed. They weren't encouraging people to either go out and buy or telling people that it was going to be OK You know, Larry Summers yesterday was talking about how there's an excess of fear.

So, the Obama administration is really trying to find that sweet spot when it comes to being realistic about the hardships that Americans are facing, people are out of work, but they also need people to be confident that this will get better, their plan will work. And so, we really saw them towards the end of the week talking optimistically and very positively.

HOLMES: All right. I was -- being kind of tongue-and-cheek there as I was coming to you about the sky falling on how they were talking.


HOLMES: But you know that's the criticism now. The same folks who are saying, you're being too negative are now saying he's playing politics. He was talking so bad about the economy when he was trying to get his legislation passed, but now things and we had a good week, and now, he wants to maybe start taking credit for things getting a little better.

JOHNSON: Well, you know, I think what the administration probably realized this week and they've actually been, you know, sort of realizing it for the last couple of weeks is that they really didn't have -- the only messenger they had on the economy was Barack Obama. And so, you know, they started addressing that criticism that they were being too dour and they also started realizing that what's really missing from this market is people buying -- you know, again, that confidence.

But one other thing this week that was really interesting was the amount of criticism that the administration was getting over the fact that they were taking on too much.


JOHNSON: We just talked about the FDA that Obama was out talking about education and health care this week, and actually, the president addressed that on Thursday.


OBAMA: I think there's some people, when we issued the budget, they said, boy, these Obama people, they're really ambitious -- they're taking on health care, they're taking on energy, they're taking on education -- don't they know that there's this bank crisis right now, we've got to do one thing at a time.


JOHNSON: What President Obama and his advisers, the point that they were making this week was: the economy is really bad, even though we're hoping that it's going to get better, but we can't to deal with education and all these other things until after the recession ends. That if we do that, America's not going to move forward.

One thing they tried too this week was actually get Tim Geithner and Larry Summers and some of the other economic folks that are sort of have been more behind the scenes and have had some PR issues, frankly, they tried to get them out front, to tell everybody that we can handle more than one thing at once. Things will get better.

So, you know, we're sort of covering this economy as if it's got to change tomorrow. And, you know, the Obama people are saying, give us some time -- and we'll see if people actually do that.

HOLMES: Yes. This is walking and chewing gum on a whole another level.


HOLMES: Sasha Johnson, our senior political producer, good to see you as always. Thanks so much. JOHNSON: Thanks.

HOLMES: All right, Susan?

ROESGEN: Well, way to maybe, you know, stretch your own dollars, take it down to the personal level. If you're looking for a way to cut back, there is a supermarket solution. We'll be talking about that.

And if you can't keep the clunker going anymore and you need a used car, then Josh Levs is going looking for some inexpensive wheels.


LEVS: This used car may be more reliable than some of the newer ones. We have the list: the best, the worst, and why -- coming up.



ROESGEN: You know, when you're talking about things you got to have ...

HOLMES: Got to have.

ROESGEN: Yes, not the things that you could live without. Things you got to have -- probably the one purchase in your life, if you think about it, that you rely on every day ...

HOLMES: You've got to get to work.

ROESGEN: Your car.

HOLMES: You've got to get to work.


HOLMES: How many miles do you have on your vehicle?

ROESGEN: I walk to work.

HOLMES: Well, that's another way to do it.

ROESGEN: I have a small footprint.

HOLMES: A small ...


ROESGEN: Yes, a small carbon footprint. I walk to work, I'm a bad driver, but work's like a 10 minute walk.


ROESGEN: So, I'm not typical. But, of course, most people do. HOLMES: They need their cars.

ROESGEN: I have cars, yes.

HOLMES: Some people are holding on to them longer and longer these days. A research group, it's all about reliability, says, some used cars may be better than the newest models out there.

Our Josh Levs rolls out.


LEVS: All right. Well, in this economy, you still need to get around, right? As you can imagine, more and more people are looking for used cars. You got to save where you can.

So, which used car do you get? How do you know if it's going to be a good one? How do you know you're getting a good deal? How do you know it's going to last for you?

We have the answers because there's one place in America that knows better than anyone else, "Consumer Reports," and the man is right here -- Jon Linkov of "Consumer Reports."

Thanks for doing this.

JON LINKOV, CONSUMER REPORTS: Thank you, Josh. Thanks for having us.

LEVS: Now, I want to see how incredibly specific you guys get with these. This is their section on used cars here. but as you go through, what you see is they start to look at every single model, and even within that, which years are good, which years are bad -- all sorts of specifics.

LINKOV: Right here we have a Nissan Maxima.


LINKOV: This is one of the vehicles that we recommended throughout because it's had really good reliability. So, you can pretty much pick up a Nissan Maxima ...


LINKOV: ... that's within the last eight to 10 years, they've had still ...

LEVS: Even 10 years old?

LINKOV: Yes, a 10-year-old call can be good. But what you need to know is the history of the vehicle. This is called the vehicle identification number. If you're buying a car from a private individual, you can take that VIN number and go to the dealership of that brand. So, you go to a Nissan dealer and say, look, I'm looking at buying this car, can you at least tell me of the service history, what the service history is?

LEVS: Oh, that's great advice. I didn't realize you can take the VIN number to the dealer.

LINKOV: You can. They may not feel comfortable doing it. It's a hit in this type of thing. But it's better than nothing.

LEVS: It's a worth the shot.

LINKOV: It's definitely worth a shot.

LEVS: So, what is the -- what's the biggest mistake people make when going to buy a new car?

LINKOV: They go out to the dealership and they get in the car and they do a test drive. They really don't pay attention to the vehicle and they kind of get taking in by what the salesperson wants. You know, they're lowering the windows, they're talking a lot, they make a real short test drive. Instead of taking it on a road that they're used to doing, they take it on a route that the dealer likes because it really shows off the attributes of the car but it hides all of the negative aspects.

LEVS: If you're buying a new car or a used car, should you be looking at the doors for something? Should you be looking at these sections?

LINKOV: If you really looking at it, you want to wonder why a car that might be three or four years old is going to have four brand new tires on it, because that might hide an alignment problem.

LEVS: Sounds a little bit of CSI?

LINKOV: Well, you know, it's doing your investigation, you know, it's taking that weekend of doing research and thinking about what you want to ask. And, actually, on our Web site, we have a checklist for used and new vehicles.

And you want to go through and look at certain things. You actually want to bring your iPod or bring your mp3 player with you, plug it in and try the stereo out, because you don't want to get home and find out that the jack doesn't work.


HOLMES: Well, all right. Levs, a lot of people need to hold on to their cars -- a lot of people looking for cars and the better deals.

LEVS: Yes.

HOLMES: So, this will be very helpful for them. So, where should they go? I mean, that piece may have been helpful for them there, but they're looking for some more information. Where can they get it? LEVS: Yes. They're going to need a real breakdown. Absolutely. In fact, let's zoom in on the board behind me. I'll show you. He mentioned the "Consumer Reports" Web site.

I want to show you guys how ultra-specific they get. Take a look at this. I mean, this is what they are saying is one of the best deals, the 2006 Honda CR-V, one of the best used car dealers in America. But look what they do, they tell you the model, mileage, how much it would be worth getting it at, and then they compare it to Blue Book rates. It's really impressive.

All of this is really easy to find at But, there's something that's actually a little easier and is to look at right here, which is at Check this out. We have a spread on this, best resell cars. You can see some nice pictures, up and down (ph), the price ranges, what works out well, and guys all of this is really easy to find because it's here at -- very memorable --

Also, I'll take everything I just showed you and I'll post it on my Facebook page right here at Josh Levs CNN. So, if you're on Facebook, you'll have direct links to all that stuff, guys.

ROESGEN: And, Josh, you talked about, you know, "Consumer Reports." We've got the, I guess, the current "Consumer Reports," April 2009 getting ahead of us here.

LEVS: That's it.

ROESGEN: It says, you know, on front it says the top value is the 2009 Honda Fit. What's that?

LEVS: Yes. Well, that -- I mean, this is -- and that's also explained on the Web site. Basically, when they take a look at the best used cars and the best new cars, how much it's worth paying for any one of them -- they basically determine that if you're going to go that way, that is the best one. But, you know, you need to say the whole breakdown based on mileage and based on how much you're ready to spend, based of what types of car you need. Yes, it has a lot of factors.

So, that's best in general overall, but not necessarily for your pocketbook. And speaking of that, next hour, guys, I'll be back. And we're going to take a look at the biggest mechanic scams in America and how to avoid them.


HOLMES: All right. Josh, we'll see you in a little bit.

ROESGEN: I'll be reading this. Yes.

LEVS: Thanks, guys.

HOLMES: All right. Thanks, buddy. Well, institutionalized racism. That's what to banking giants are being accused of, also, being accused of mortgage discrimination according to the NAACP, suing now Wells Fargo and HSBC. The NAACP says the banks steered blacks into expensive subprime mortgages during the housing boom. Meanwhile, white, with the same credit scores, the same qualifications, got better deals. According to the NAACP, black homeowners were 3 1/2 times more likely to receive a subprime loan than white borrowers.

Just yesterday, I talked to the president of the NAACP, Ben Jealous, as how all this could happen.


BENJAMIN TODD JEALOUS, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NAACP: Some of this just has to do with where the banks are and where the banks aren't.


JEALOUS: And how disempowered people feel going across town to go to the bank. Or how, you know, the fact that walking down their street, they're going to be roped in by some broker. It also has to do with just the art of the deal. You know, you see similar things often in the car industry, where people just look at a black consumer and they say, "Do you know what, I think this person just feels less empowered. And I'm going to be able to roll them better than I could roll a white person." I mean, it's a -- you know?

HOLMES: So, it sounds there that maybe there needs to be a change in policy. Maybe some different things put in place.

JEALOUS: Exactly right.

HOLMES: But how big of an issue here, as well, is just you need to find a way here to change attitudes? That's as much of what this lawsuit is about as changing policies.

JEALOUS: That's exactly right. I mean, you know, what this is about is we need to let in the sunshine. We need to be able to see what's going on. We need to sit down with the banks and say, hey, you know, the stats don't lie. If these people had the same qualifications, they should have gotten the same rate.

So, let's put in some sort of warning system so that this doesn't happen again. And let's just move beyond this bad chapter.


HOLMES: Again, that was the president of the NAACP, Ben Jealous.

Well, the banks issued a couple of statements here. First from HSBC, saying, "We do not comment on litigation. HSBC stands by its fair lending and consumer protection practices, and we are confident that we are treating our customers fairly and with integrity."

Wells Fargo put a statement out as well. They actually called the lawsuit unfounded and reckless. Their statement saying, "We have never tolerated, and will never tolerate, discrimination in any way, shape, or form."

ROESGEN: It's hard to believe it still goes on.

HOLMES: Still happens, still combating it.

ROESGEN: Unbelievable.

HOLMES: But also, I should note, that even those two banks are the most recent to be named, they say it's part of a larger lawsuit, that they have another at least 12 banks ...

ROESGEN: Oh, yes. I'm sure.

HOLMES: ... that they're going after as well.

ROESGEN: OK. Well, you know, some people call them Wacko Jacko, the gloved one. (INAUDIBLE).

HOLMES: Called him the "King of Pop" still.

ROESGEN: King of Pop, OK. You know, Michael Jackson, and believe it or not, you know, people are still willing to pay to go see a Michael Jackson concert. I don't know -- should I people are still willing to pay -- I mean, he hasn't been ...

HOLMES: He just hasn't been in the spotlight in a while and most of his press has been negative.

ROESGEN: Not for 20 years. I mean, although he's been in the spotlight for the wrong thing.

HOLMES: For the wrong reasons past several years. But people are still wanting to see this man in concert.

ROESGEN: Yes, I guess so.

HOLMES: But I'll tell you what, people are willing to pay for tickets to see Michael Jackson.

ROESGEN: Wacko Jacko.



ROESGEN: Is this what they call music in elevators?

HOLMES: Oh, is that what that is?


HOLMES: This is the legend, this is Michael Jackson.

ROESGEN: OK. HOLMES: It just makes you feel good. That old music. Yes. (INAUDIBLE).

ROESGEN: I'm not in the elevator, man, I thought it was like elevator music. But, you know, he's still really, really popular. I don't have any of his C.D.s, but ...

HOLMES: he's still popular, but let's how popular he is. This is how people react to getting Michael Jackson's tickets. Look at this.




HOLMES: She is the first to get her ticket to a series of Michael Jackson concerts. Yes, if you haven't heard, the man will be moonwalking at 50. He is having a series of concerts that are going to start on July 8th. Tickets went on sale yesterday morning. First fans were in line, they camped out over night.

How much should they have to pay? You guys, how much would you all pay for Michael Jackson?

WOLF: $3.

ROESGEN: Oh. No, I think somebody big like that, you know, $60, $70?


ROESGEN: Yes, kind of like, not U2 numbers but big.

HOLMES: But it's Michael Jackson, guys.

WOLF: General admission to up $105.

HOLMES: $105, that's general admission.

WOLF: Wow!

HOLMES: Now, there are some VIP tickets available, which I'm sure, Reynolds, you ...

ROESGEN: Oh, yes.

WOLF: Oh, yes.


ROESGEN: Talking about luxury purchases in this economy.

WOLF: I still have his entire collection.


WOLF: I do.

HOLMES: But those tickets went for as much as $1,100.


HOLMES: OK. You all know that feels good.


WOLF: He may be the king of pop and he's also the king of guy, a dude who makes up words like -- what does he-hee (ph), or ha-whoa (ph), or, you know, mamasi, mamasa.


WOLF: What does that mean, Michael?

ROESGEN: Come on. You know what? You're starting to sound like my mother who doesn't know the lyrics, you know, so you kind of make them up.

WOLF: Yes.

ROESGEN: It means something, man, where have you been?

WOLF: I feel it, I just don't know it. That's all what I'm saying.

HOLMES: Nobody knows it, but you know that, you can sing it though.

WOLF: He-hee.


ROESGEN: I can dance to it.

WOLF: Yes, mamasi, mamasa, mama makusa (INAUDIBLE).

HOLMES: And for our viewers, we actually planned on doing weather, but after that, they just dropped it.

ROESGEN: Yes, that's right.

HOLMES: So, we're not going to do weather now.

WOLF: So, we're getting what Michael will do for your credibility.

HOLMES: Yes, we have to go into the tease now.

WOLF: Here you go.

ROESGEN: All right. HOLMES: Good to have you, Reynolds.

WOLF: Good to be here, I think.

ROESGEN: OK. So, we're talking about lots of different things today, mostly the economy.


ROESGEN: And things like who can afford $105 Michael Jackson tickets. Not this woman. She has a way to cut back. It's a supermarket solution and, yes, it involves coupons, but it's more than that.



UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER (voice-over): Teri Gault learned to stretch a dollar when she was 12 years old.

TERI GAULT, FOUNDER, THE GROCERY GAME: My dad would give me $10 or $20 and, say, go to the grocery store. And that would be all that we had for whatever we needed. And so, I started using grocery coupons, looking for sales.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: That sparked a life-long passion. Even when her husband, Greg, was earning six figures as a Hollywood stunt man, Teri clipped coupons. But when her husband's work dried up, bargain hunting became a necessity.

GAULT: All that's Ed (ph) and I realized, we are down to rolling our coins, to pay our grocery bill and to survive.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Teri cut her supermarket bills in half by finding unadvertised sales using coupons and stockpiling discounted items.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You saved $203.38.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Believing other shoppers might pay for those saving strategies, she launched

GAULT: During these hard times, you learn to move. And you learn to make it happened. You got to. If you want to eat, you got to do it.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The Web site provides subscribers with a weekly list of bargains at local stores so they know when to shop and what to buy. Nine years after launching the site, Teri's $12 million business has some over 150,000 members and about 60 employees.

GAULT: It feels good when we get to know that we're helping people. I mean, let's face it, in this economy, everybody needs to save money.


ROESGEN: Well, you've got to do something.

And this coming week, CNN is going to take an in-depth look at the money meltdown, but not just how things are going bad, what you can do to make things right, at least for your own family. What do the numbers mean? What can we do to get out of this mess? Where are the jobs?

We call it "Road to Rescue: The CNN Survival Guide" and you'll see it all next week right here on CNN.


HOLMES: OK. And you know I'm fascinated by this. I've been asking the question.


HOLMES: Explain this thing to me.

ROESGEN: This looks like a cigarette, it's called an "E-Cig," new thing out there. It's got liquid nicotine inside it, but it won't give you cancer because this doesn't have a tobacco. If you wanted to try it ...

HOLMES: No, I'm OK. I'm not a smoker.

ROESGEN: Neither am I.


ROESGEN: You kind of puff on this and this little tip lights up red.


ROESGEN: So you can kind of fake it in a bar, you know, if you want to kind of fake it.

HOLMES: But no smoke.

ROESGEN: It's a hot thing. No real smoke, no tobacco ...

HOLMES: But you'll get the nicotine high.

ROESGEN: ... no cancer, but you do get the nicotine high.

HOLMES: And I'm told it's 100 bucks.

ROESGEN: A hundred bucks and they're already selling it at kiosks, at malls.

HOLMES: Wow. ROESGEN: And you heard it here first.

HOLMES: We are going to get into the "E-Cig" a little more.

ROESGEN: Can you put it behind your ear?

HOLMES: Because I'm fascinated by it.


HOLMES: But right now, "HOUSE CALL" with Dr. Sanjay Gupta is up next.

ROESGEN: I think he talks about this, too.


All right, Susan and I will be back at the top of the hour.