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Millions Brace for Arctic Blast; Congress Back to Reality; MSNBC Host Apologizes

Aired January 5, 2014 - 07:00   ET


ALISON KOSIK, CO-HOST: Thanks for starting your morning with us.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CO-HOST: We've got much more ahead on our next hour of your NEW DAY. It starts right now.

KOSIK: And good morning. I'm Alison Kosik.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell.

7:00 here on the East Coast, 4:00 out West. It's NEW DAY SUNDAY.And you know what?

KOSIK: What?

BLACKWELL: It's cold.

KOSIK: I had no idea.

BLACKWELL: It is cold, cold, cold.

KOSIK: The temperatures today and in the days ahead are going to be among the coldest that we've seen in decades. Already, winter weather is responsible for 13 deaths in the past week.

BLACKWELL: And parts of North Dakota already slippery and buried in snow could see temperatures drop to 30 below zero. And with the wind chill, it's going to feel like minus 50. In that kind of weather, your skin can freeze in five minutes.

And if you live in the Midwest, get ready for more snow.

KOSIK: Oh, boy.

BLACKWELL: We've got live pictures here, I think. This is Woodstock -- yes, Woodstock, Illinois, where it feels like 14 degrees this morning.

KOSIK: And the National Weather Service has already issued a winter storm warning for at least five states. Chicago could get up to a foot of snow by the end of today.

BLACKWELL: And if you think it's cold now, just wait. It's about to get even colder.

Let's bring in meteorologist Alexandra Steele in the CNN Severe Weather Center.

And I guess people who are on the plus side of that zero are pretty fortunate.

ALEXANDRA STEELE, ATS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, but they won't be for long, OK?

About a half of the U.S. will feel temperatures at zero or below between now and Wednesday. So here's this Arctic push. It's kind of a piece of the polar vortex, so the coldest air in the Northern Hemisphere, which haven't seen here in the U.S. in about two decades. It's going to drop south and drop east.

So brutally cold temperatures are expected. So the coldest of the air will drop south and drop east. It will kind of moderate. But Monday and Tuesday are the coldest time frames.

All right, so for today, I'll give you a little perspective of where these numbers go. The high temperature in Duluth will be 15 below zero, 30 degrees colder than average. In Minneapolis, the high will be nine; Marquette, 2. And then by the time we get to Monday, you can see it drops south a bit, moderating, not as intensely cold. But Indianapolis, 13 below; Cincy, 2, almost 40 degrees colder than where they should be; St. Louis almost 40 degrees colder.

And then, as we head toward Tuesday. Look at Atlanta, almost 30 degrees colder than where they should be. So kind of that is the aspect, that dropping south and east. Even in Atlanta, Atlanta could see the single digits for the first time since 2003. So watch also what happens into the Northeast, because this does move east, as well, and into the Northeast. And what's going to happen is it's going to drop like a bomb.

Monday, the temperature will be 50. That's when it could have been a snow maker, but it's rain that will be there then. But then, the moisture moves out and temperatures drop almost 40 degrees, to 19. So that's what we're going to see in the Northeast, as well, just dramatic temperature drops, from 50 in New York to a high of 13 for the day on Tuesday.

And then we kind of begin to move up a little bit. But we really bottom out Monday and Tuesday. So that's one aspect of the story.

But there's also the snow that's coming in. It's snowing from Chicago to Detroit -- 8 to 12 inches today and into tonight in areas of the Midwest.


More to come.

Alexandra Steele, thank you.


KOSIK: And in temperatures this low, water pipes burst, cars don't start and you know when you sit near the window, you can still feel that draft coming into your house?

BLACKWELL: Yes, and right by the door, too.

KOSIK: Oh, yes.

BLACKWELL: Time to tackle those problems.

Let's go to CNN's Alexandra Field in New York for some answers -- help us out, Alexandra.

Good morning.


Good morning, Victor, Alison.

If you're not feeling those freezing or below freezing temperatures right now, then usual have a little bit of time to prepare yourself. Doctors are warning that when the temperatures fall as low as they are predicted to, we're all at risk for hypothermia and frostbite.

So there are a few things that you can do if you're going to stay home to prepare yourself and make yourself a little more comfortable and certainly a lot more safe.


FIELD: We're not just talking about cold, we're talking about very cold.

What are issues that people might start to see in the next couple of days?

ROBERT LEOPOLDI, LEOPOLDI HARDWARE: Well, we've been dealing with frozen pipes. That's always an issue. This morning, a lady called saying her pipe was frozen.

FIELD (voice-over): Below freezing temperatures can lead you to big problems.

LEOPOLDI: So this is insulation you can put around the pipe just to keep the cold out.

FIELD: So do a little planning. Robert Leopoldi at Leopoldi Hardware in Brooklyn suggests running your water frequently as temperatures fall and protecting pipes beforehand.

LEOPOLDI: We have this, these electric cables that you plug in. And you run it along the pipe. And then you can insulate the pipe. And what it does is it keeps the heat right on the pipe.

FIELD: Electric heaters are being scooped up at hardware stores in New York City. They can add some warmth to your house without overworking your furnace.

(on camera): Give me your best insider tip. What's the thing that we're not thinking to do that could really help?

LEOPOLDI: Well, the best thing to do is insulation. Insulation is the best thing. That will save energy and you'll save money.

FIELD (voice-over): Spray foams get the job done quickly.

LEOPOLDI: This is just to fill up any gap. It could go in doorways, around molding, around pipes just to fill up any little space.

FIELD: And plastic sheets for drafty windows come in all sizes.

(on camera): We're looking at 140 million people...


FIELD: -- who will be in subzero temperatures.

How big of a concern is this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the Red Cross has activated our tens of thousands of volunteers across the country to be ready for this event. And we're working really hard to get out messaging about people can stay safe during this cold stuff.

FIELD (voice-over): With historic lows setting in in the Midwest and subzero temperatures forecast for the South and Northeast, the Red Cross is focused on the dangers of driving. A few tips. Pack a shovel to dig yourself out. Also, have sand on hand. Bring a blanket and avoid driving without a fully charged cell phone. Don't forget extra anti-freeze. And to get your driveway fit for record lows, Leopoldi says skip the rock salt. Calcium chloride is worth paying more for.

LEOPOLDI: It melts at lower temperatures and it doesn't crack the sidewalk. It doesn't leave white marks all over it.


FIELD: All right. And given the temperatures that are in the forecast right now, the Red Cross is also reminding people that should you find yourself in trouble, should you find yourself stranded in that car, you are going to be safer just hunkering down. You don't want to go out and look for help -- Victor, Alison.

KOSIK: So I'm curious, Alexandra, how are you staying warm without the hat?

FIELD: I'm actually enjoying this weather right now, if you can imagine...


FIELD: -- because over the last few days here in New York City, we have seen those really low temperatures and we're up to almost 30 degrees here. We want to keep it in perspective and think about the people in the Midwest, who are already feeling temperatures that are 30 below. Well, you know, you've got to make the most of it.

BLACKWELL: That's true. Thirty degrees is quite fortunate today, considering what we're seeing across the country.

Alexandra Field, thank you.

KOSIK: And she's just -- you know, she's been out in this weather for days now, so I guess her blood is getting thicker. She's getting hardier and used to it.

BLACKWELL: Getting hardier.

Three people very fortunate to be alive this morning after crash landing on a busy highway in New York City.

KOSIK: It really sounds like this is a scene right out of a movie. But somehow, the pilot of a small single engine plane actually avoided hitting any motorists, to crash right down safely close to the snowy edges of the expressway.

BLACKWELL: The pilot remained calm while radioing for help before the crash. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: May day. We're -- May Day. 09-Juliette. We're losing engine. Tower, tower, 09-Juliette. We're losing engine power.


KOSIK: Authorities are still investigating why exactly the plane's engine failed.

BLACKWELL: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected this week to loosen his state's restrictions on the use of marijuana. The Democratic governor has, in the past, been against legalizing marijuana. But in a surprise move, Cuomo is expected to bypass the legislature altogether and make medical marijuana legal.

"The New York Times" reports the governor's plan will allow just 20 hospitals in New York to distribute medical marijuana, and only to patients with cancer, glaucoma and other serious ailments.

KOSIK: To the White House right now, where the Obama family is back home after almost two weeks in Hawaii. But Mrs. Obama isn't with them. Sasha and Malia had to be back for school tomorrow.

BLACKWELL: But Michelle Obama will stay behind in the warm weather with friends to celebrate her birthday early. According to the White House, it's part of her birthday president from the president. The first lady turns 50 January 30th.

Congress is coming back to a new year with a long to-do list.

KOSIK: Are they rested and ready to get down to business?

Or will 2014 look a lot like 2013?

Sunlen Serfaty looks -- joins us now live -- Sunlen, good morning to you.

How much do you think Congress is actually going to be able to get done?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, Alison, your guess is as good as mine. But one good note is last year did end on a high note with the compromise over the budget deal. And the White House hopes that will give Congress some momentum for this year.

But there is a lot to do. And many of these issues are ones that have started fights in the past.


SERFATY: (voice-over): The president's vacation is over. He faces a colder reality now, Congress.


JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST: If you're a glass half full kind of person, like I am, they're the number one most unproductive Congress in modern history.

SERFATY: Get ready for possible deja vu.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: I wish I had a magic wand to say I know things will be better.

SERFATY: This year Congress has a full plate. Right off the bat, a potentially easy one for the Senate -- confirming Janet Yellen as the first woman to head the Federal Reserve.

But next, a real battle over long-term unemployment benefits.

Even before vacation was over, President Obama pressed this weekend to extend the payments.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When Congress comes back to work this week, their first order of business should be making this right.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We would clearly consider it, as long as it's paid for.

SERFATY: On January 15th, a major deadline to fund the government. A deal was reached last year, but it needs to be finalized.

As early as February, a deadline to raise the debt ceiling again, with both sides already dug in. SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: I can't imagine it being done clean.

OBAMA: No, we're not going to negotiate for Congress to pay bills that it has accrued.

SERFATY: And an even heavier lift for a deal on immigration reform, which has escaped Congress for years.

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: It can't be my way or the highway on such a big issue.

SERFATY: Not to mention continued attempts by Republicans to change ObamaCare.

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: This has been a failed launch, a flawed law and it needs real change.

SERFATY: Don't hold your breath for all of this to be crossed off the list. According to a CNN/orc poll released last year, two-thirds of Americans called Congress the worst ever. And the midterm elections will suck up much desire this year to compromise.

THOMAS MANN, CONGRESSIONAL SCHOLAR: These are not likely to be times of large, fruitful legislative harvest.


SERFATY: And the president will also lay out all his priorities during his State of the Union Address later this month -- Alison and Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right.

Sunlen Serfaty, thank you very much.

Within two days, a critical change could come for the family of a teenager who is brain dead.

KOSIK: Because that's when a hospital could pull the plug on her ventilator.


BLACKWELL: Twelve minutes after the hour now.

A judge has ruled that in just two days, a 13-year-old girl who was declared brain dead can be removed from her ventilator. Jahi McMath has been in a state since -- or this state since December 9th, when she suffered complications from surgery to remove her tonsils at Children's Hospital of Oakland, California.

KOSIK: Now the family is in a vicious legal battle against the hospital, which wants to remove her from the ventilator. So the family wants to move Jahi to another facility to care for her. And on Friday, the hospital agreed to a protocol to do that. The hospital had refused to help since it considers her to be dead.

But the family insists their daughter is very much alive and argues it's against their Christian beliefs to let her heart stop beating.


MAILAH WINKFIELD, JAHI MCMATH'S MOTHER: How can she be dead and her heart beats, she has blood flowing through her system and she responds to my touch and my voice?

How can she -- how can a dead person do that?

BLACKWELL: Well, joining us to talk about it, criminal defense attorney and constitutional attorney, Page Pate.

Page, good to have you.


BLACKWELL: So many legal issues to talk about.

But after the announcement that the hospital in California is going to cooperate to allow Jahi to be moved to another facility, likely out of California...

PATE: Right.

BLACKWELL: -- the first question that pops up in my mind, is there or are there any legal concerns when transporting a legally deceased person from one state to another with no intentions of burial or cremation?

PATE: Well, that can happen. Most states have laws ands regulations governing the movement of dead bodies. But in this case, remember, everything is being done pursuant to court order. So as long as there's a court order in place, I think both here, from the superior court in California, as well as from the federal judge, I think they should be fine.


KOSIK: What's the conflict of interest here for the hospital?

Is there anything to gain by taking her off the ventilator?

PATE: Well, that's what's interesting to me. In this case, I think it's clear that there's a question as to why she died. And so if there's an eventual medical malpractice suit against the hospital, it's in their best interests to go ahead, declare her dead, limit any potential damages and also potentially prevent someone from finding out what really happened.

BLACKWELL: We've got a statement from the family. I'm going to read it here. It's fairly long. "We have our strong religious convictions and set of beliefs. We believe, in this country, a parent has the right to make decisions concerning the existence of their child, not a doctor who looks only at lines on a paper or reads the code black and white words on law that says "brain dead" and definitely not a doctor who runs the facility that caused the brain death in the first place.

How does religious beliefs, moral belief, play into this?

PATE: Unfortunately, not at all under the law. California is like many states. And since 1980, everyone has basically said that uniformly, we can determine death if there's irreversible cessation of all brain activity. And that determination is left up to doctors, to science. There is nothing in the law that allows for any sort of variation depending upon religion.

BLACKWELL: But what happens after that, I would imagine, is where the religious and the moral beliefs come in, not to the declaration of death.

PATE: Well, I think there's still an issue there. Apparently, the family has talked to another physician, who doesn't disagree with brain dead, but disagrees that brain dead means true death. And that's always been a debate around this country. Once everyone adopted this uniform act, we've kind of moved toward science and away from religion.

KOSIK: What about cost for her medical treatment to just continue?

I mean...

PATE: Right.

KOSIK: For how long?

PATE: And that's the interest of the state. And that's why we have these laws, to put some finality to it. Otherwise, if we can never say -- if someone is always going to disagree with when the child is dead, I mean that could cost a lot of money. And it wouldn't just happen in this case. It obviously happens in other cases, as well.

BLACKWELL: And if Jahi were being moved to, we've heard, this facility in New York...

PATE: Right.

BLACKWELL: -- are there any requirements legally for them to continue the intubation, the feeding tube, the ventilation for a minimum of time?

Or how long could this go?

PATE: Well, most states, again, adopted the uniform law. And I think New York is one of them, as well. So they would make the same determination, their physicians could, that she's brain dead. And they should not have any more medical treatment of a person who is legally deceased.

But if they agree to it and they -- the family wants to do it and everyone is willing to participate, then I suppose they can do it. But they would not be required to do it.

BLACKWELL: As long as somebody is paying for it?

PATE: Yes, that's right.

BLACKWELL: All right, Page Pate, thanks for helping us unpack all this.

PATE: Yes.

BLACKWELL: There's a lot in this story.

KOSIK: A TV host under fire for poking fun at the Romney family.

Up next, her tearful apology and why she says she broke the ground rules.


KOSIK: An MSNBC anchor has offered a tearful apology to the Romney family. It came over comments made about the former presidential candidate's adopted grandson, who is African-American.

BLACKWELL: Melissa Harris-Perry, along with her on-air guests, poked fun at a family picture, saying the little boy stood out among his adopted white relatives.

Here's what Harris-Perry had to say on Saturday.


MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, HOST: My intention was not malicious, but I broke the ground rule that families are off limits. And for that, I am sorry.

Also, allow me to apologize to other families formed through transracial adoption, because I am deeply

Sorry that we suggested that interracial families are in any way funny or deserving of ridicule.

On this program, we are dedicated to advocating for a wide diversity of families. And it's one of our core principles. And I am reminded that when we are doing so, it must always be with the utmost respect.


KOSIK: Now, the Romney family has not commented on the situation. A representative said they're on vacation.

BLACKWELL: Well, this is not the first time a host on MSNBC has come under fire. Last month, anchor Martin Bashir left the network over comments he made about Sarah Palin.

KOSIK: So here's the question -- does the network have a personality problem? CNN's senior media correspondent and anchor of "RELIABLE SOURCES," Brian Stelter, joins us now from Washington -- good morning, Brian.


KOSIK: So let's go ahead and listen to what the panel originally said about this family photo.


HARRIS-PERRY: And, of course, there on Governor Romney's knee is his adopted grandson, who is an African-American -- an adopted African- American child, Kieran Romney.

Any captions for this one?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of these things is...



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- the same as that little baby front and center would be the one.


HARRIS-PERRY: And isn't he the most gorgeous?

Why -- my goal is that in 2040, the biggest thing of the year will be the wedding between Kieren Romney and Northwest.


KOSIK: OK, Brian, so how surprised were you that this conversation even happened?

To me, it looks like it was pre-produced.

STELTER: It does. You know, this is one of those television segments that seems to run off the rails. It was an attempt at the year in review segment. It was an attempt at humor. But if they had had a conversation that wasn't personal but was more about policy or more about the substance of things, it wouldn't have gone off the rails.

If they had been trying to make a point about the lack of diversity in the GOP, then the segment would have been more legitimate.

But by going after Mitt Romney's family, even in the sideways way that they did it, the segment went off the rails. And, unstable, on Monday, after it aired, when conservative bloggers and commentators noticed it and picked it up, there was outrage online for days following.

BLACKWELL: So it would have been OK to include the photograph as part of a conversation about the lack of diversity in the party? STELTER: Well, I'm not even sure if that would have been appropriate.


STELTER: I'm just suggesting that if they tried to stay on politics...


STELTER: -- and not make it personal, then it would have been a really interesting conversation. You know, she had a bunch of comedians with her and satirists. And when you're bringing those people on and then going after people's families, you know, that's a very risky place to be.

And, in retrospect, it's surprising they did it, because Melissa Harris-Perry tries to be above this. She tries to have intellectual, substantial discussions on her program. In fact, I think she stands out for doing that, which is why this segment was so surprising to people and maybe why she came out and apologized so strongly.

KOSIK: Do you think her -- that apology was sincere, was genuine?

Can she move on from this?

STELTER: I think it was a model for how to apologize on television. You know, first, of course, she put out Twitter messages apologizing on Tuesday, before New Year's. Then she came on her show yesterday and did it. You saw how emotional she was during the apology. I know some of her critics are going to believe those were crocodile tears.

I don't think they were, though. I think she holds herself up, understandably, to be someone who is above all of this, you know, silly personal partisan stuff. And because she fell short of her own standards, she felt truly sorry.

After all, this woman is a professor. She's the only professor that has a television show on cable news that I'm aware of. She is unique in that way. And I think she wanted to come out and apologize as honestly and as hard and as strongly as she could, in order to get past it.

KOSIK: All right, tell us what's coming up on your show.

STELTER: Well, we're going to talk about this, because like you mentioned, you know, Martin Bashir ran into problems at MSNBC a little over a month ago. It makes people wonder if there is a personality problem at MSNBC. It makes people wonder if the network is too accepting of harsh personal attacks. So we'll talk about that.

And we've got a lot of technology stories to talk about. We have Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg on the show, two pioneering technology journalists, who just went out and started their own Web site. So they're becoming entrepreneurs just like the people they cover. We'll interview them. And a man known as a viral genius. He's a 32-year-old who works for Gawker. He gets 30 million page views a month. And he just quit his job to go off to a startup. And I want to talk to him about what makes stories viral and what that says about the Internet these days.

KOSIK: All right. Brian Stelter, thank you.

STELTER: Thank you.

KOSIK: We'll be right back.


KOSIK: Now for your daily dose of cuteness. The Chicago Zoological Society is announcing birth of this adorable little gray seal pup at the Brookfield Zoo. This little guy was born at 7:00 in the morning on New Year's Day. He's not only the zoo's first animal birth of the year, but also the first of his species to be born there. The pup weighed in at just over 25 pounds at birth, but will likely triple his weight in the next month or so. And zoo officials are saying he's going to stay off exhibit for a few weeks, you know, to allow him to bond with his mama.

BLACKWELL: That's nice.


BLACKWELL: And look at this. You've got to see this to believe it. A huge sinkhole here in Hawaii triggered by heavy rains.

And you see where the camera moves?

KOSIK: I see it.

BLACKWELL: Move again here. A white pickup...

KOSIK: Whoa.

BLACKWELL: -- has collapsed inside. Amazingly, the driver was able to climb out of that and was hospitalized with only minor injuries. She says the road just swallowed her up.

KOSIK: It's strange when that happens.

BLACKWELL: It is. I mean when you pass it the first time, you don't see it. And then you -- can you imagine, though?

I mean that's part of the reason why people say do not drive through standing water because you think...

KOSIK: Yes. You don't know what's going on underneath.

BLACKWELL: Yes. You think you know what's there. You think you know the road because you've driven over it many times.

KOSIK: Yes. BLACKWELL: But Mother Nature can rip some of that right out from under you.

KOSIK: All right, let's go to our must-see moment here. An intruder caught on camera.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Somehow, this goat got loose in Oklahoma City, in a neighborhood there. And after trying to head butt its way into someone's home, it turned its giant horns on police and tried to ram a cruiser.

KOSIK: Thankfully, everybody is OK. The goat is back with its owner. (INAUDIBLE).

BLACKWELL: Oh, and we've got actual nets. Excellent.


KOSIK: He's singing.

BLACKWELL: This is great. So, all right. Thank you for the net for the goat.

KOSIK: All right. We're going to see you right back here at the top of the hour, 8:00 Eastern, for another hour of NEW DAY SUNDAY.

BLACKWELL: I've never actually said that out loud thanks for the net of the goat, but we crossed that line this morning.



Right now, we're going to go to Sanjay Gupta for SGMD.

See you back here at the top of the hour.


Welcome to SGMD.

New Year's time is a great time to hit the reset button, with your health and a lot of other things, as well