Return to Transcripts main page
Debby Drowning Florida in Rain; Justice Scalia Rips Obama Policies; Mac Users Get Pricier Options; Gay Service Members Recognized; Mormons' Growing Influence in U.S.; Ann Curry Could Be Paid Millions to Leave; Turkey Blasts Syria for Shootdown; Fox News Anchor Going to Vatican; Human-Powered Helicopter Breaks Record
Aired June 26, 2012 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Soledad.
Happening right now in the NEWSROOM, drama and emotion this morning as rescue teams race to find a person believed to be under this mall roof that collapsed over the weekend. Officials fear the whole thing might come down. One person telling police we can't just let them die.
Gay pride at the Pentagon. Less than a year after "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was repealed, the Pentagon hosts its very first gay pride event. And we're going to talk to an openly gay military officer about what this day means to him.
Discount bias. Orbitz admits steering Mac users to more expensive hotels and showing PC users rooms that are $30 a night cheaper. Targeted marketing or computer discount discrimination?
The chemistry is not just there. "Today" show's Ann Curry and Matt Lauer may be splitting up. Where and when will Curry go and who will take her place?
NEWSROOM begins right now.
And good morning to you. Happy Tuesday. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me.
We begin this morning in Florida. Much of that state is under water, including parts of Interstate 10, east of Tallahassee. Tropical storm Debby is clinging to Florida's Gulf Coast, dumping more than a foot of rain on some areas and threatening to wipe out another 12 inches before it moves on. Many lifelong Floridians are seeing their worst flooding in a generation.
And George Howell is in Wakulla County in the Panhandle, south of Tallahassee.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carol, good morning. I'm standing in about a foot of water right now, just outside this convenience store. And I'll ask -- Stew (ph), if you pan over here, you can see this is the situation. A lot of water fell very quickly. A lot of rain fell very quickly in a very short amount of time. And this is what people are dealing with.
I can tell you that this water here at this convenience store, it has been receding very quickly. In fact, when we got here, it was a lot higher. In fact, it got into the store overnight. Came up to about right here. When we got here. But now it's been dropping substantially. So that is good news for people.
People dealing with these flooding conditions in the low-lying areas. And now, this county, Wakulla County, was the hardest hit, one of the hardest hits so far in the storm. The county has seen at least 25 inches of rain in the last several days. Again also the winds associated with the storm knocked down trees, knocked down power lines. And right now crews are restoring that.
We did talk with a few people with emergency management, with the sheriff's office. Officials have been going around surveying the damage. Here is what one person had to say about what he's seen. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEITH BLACKMAR, WAKULLA COUNTY, FLORIDA SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: If you're not prepared, you can really get caught and pushes up in a real bind. In my own personal case, it came up on my house, got within three feet of my front of my house, and I'm not in any kind of flood zone or anything. So you can see it coming, and it comes fast. It was amazing from about 5:00 to about 10:00 or 11:00 last night how quickly it came up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: A live picture here back at this convenience store where the owner there, the owner did put sand bags out in preparation for what she expected to happen overnight. Still the water did get inside the store. Caused some damage. But again, she says at least, you know, she can start over. The damage not so bad. So she will start over.
COSTELLO: Yes. Our best to her. George Howell reporting from Wakulla County, Florida.
In Colorado, the conditions are hot, dry and dangerous. A dozen wildfires are sweeping across the state. More than 140,000 acres have burned. The "Denver Post" reporting military planes are now dropping flame retardant on the Waldo Canyon. That fire is burning out of control just north of Colorado Springs, and is now within 10 miles of the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Fire officials have backed off earlier warnings that the academy could be in danger. Evacuation orders have been lifted for about half the 11,000 people chased out of their homes. For those still in shelters, well, the wait is agonizing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DENIS WILDERMUTH, EVACUEE: I know where the fire was. I've seen it up close, close to my home. And I'm thinking there's no way we don't have structures damaged unless some miracle happened. And that's what I keep praying for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: More than 200 homes have been lost around the state. Fire crews warned that hot, windy conditions will give them problems for at least a couple more days.
As you know by now, Arizona's immigration law was gutted by the U.S. Supreme Court. Yes, the "show me your papers" part of Arizona's law stands, but only because it has not been enforced. Once it is, you can bet someone will file a lawsuit, and then it may again wind up in the Supreme Court.
But in some people's minds, the bigger story here is Justin Antonin Scalia, now accused of being a, quote, "politician in a robe," and that's not a compliment. Here's why. Justice Scalia voted against the majority. He believed all of Arizona's law was constitutional since states have the right to protect their borders. But Scalia went one step farther and criticized President Obama in his written dissent.
Here's the quote. "But to say, as the court does, that Arizona contradicts federal law by enforcing applications of the Immigration Act that the president declines to enforce boggles the mind." End quote.
Our expert on the U.S. Supreme Court is here, Jeffrey Toobin.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Hi, Carol.
COSTELLO: So when you read this dissent, did your eyes bug out?
TOOBIN: Well, it was even better than that. Because, you know, when the justices are very agitated about a decision of their colleagues that they disagree with, they read their opinion from the bench. They don't just file the written dissent. So Justice Scalia dissented from the bench, and even his colleagues were sort of looking up at the vehemence of his rhetoric.
At another point in his dissenting opinion, he said, you know, if this decision had come about in the 18th century, the entire United States would never have been formed. The states would never have agreed to join. And I'm thinking to myself, there can't be another of the 300 million people in America who think this decision is that big a deal that it would have cancelled the entire United States of America. But that's the way Justice Scalia talks. He is a very enthusiastic person.
COSTELLO: Well, specifically, when he was criticizing President Obama, he was talking about Obama's executive directive allowing some young illegals to stay if they came here through no fault of their own. TOOBIN: Right.
COSTELLO: Would you consider that partisan?
TOOBIN: Well, I don't know about partisan. It is legally irrelevant to this case. I mean this case was argued in the Supreme Court well before President Obama even issued that order. So it's not evidence in the case. It was not part of the case. It was obviously just something Justice Scalia wanted to get of his chest.
You know, this is the way Justice Scalia is. He is very engaged in the politics of the day. You may remember in the health care case, he asked a question about, you know, could the federal government force you to eat broccoli? That's a question that had come up on a lot of conservative Web sites. Something he is obviously very much in touch with.
I don't think it's improper, but I think it tells you a lot about Justice Scalia's orientation.
COSTELLO: Well, yes, but justices -- justices aren't supposed to insert themselves politically into issues that linked -- could wind up at the U.S. Supreme Court. Right? But that's exactly what he did because -- President Obama's, you know, executive elective decision or directive, rather, could wind up in the U.S. Supreme Court, couldn't it?
TOOBIN: It could. But I think justices have some flexibility in acknowledging what's going on in the world. They -- you know, they are allowed to cite newspaper articles, and they recognize that the political context of what's happening.
Look, there is no doubt what's going on here. Justice Scalia is a very conservative man. He is very much opposed to President Obama. There is no mystery about that. You know, whether it's judicially improper, I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. But it is worth all of us taking note of just how conservative and just how anti-President Obama Justice Scalia is.
COSTELLO: So Thursday should be a mighty interesting day.
TOOBIN: Oh, I can't wait. I think even though I have a seat in the courtroom, I may camp out in advance just to kind of soak up the vibe.
COSTELLO: I would not be surprised. Jeffrey Toobin, many thanks.
TOOBIN: OK. Thank you, Carol.
COSTELLO: Thursday, of course, the U.S. Supreme Court is supposed to hand down its decision on President Obama's health care law.
Now let's cross the border to southern Ontario. Rescuers are venturing back into the ruins of a collapsed shopping mall where at least two people remain trapped. Search and rescue teams say they've heard possibly sounds of breathing, but crews are moving cautiously because they fear the entire structure could collapse. We'll have a live report for you in just a few minutes.
Also this morning, tensions are ratcheting up after Syria shoots down a warplane. Turkey says it will now treat any future approach from Syria's military as a threat and will take action accordingly.
Also new this morning, NATO condemned Syria's attack. The military alliance met to discuss the danger flare-up between the two armed regional powers.
There's a new chapter in the showdown in the government's controversial "Fast and Furious" gun running sting. House Oversight Committee chair Darrell Issa has fired off a letter to President Obama. Issa is asking the president to reconsider his decision to cite executive privilege in that investigation.
This comes just days before the House gets ready to vote whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for not turning over documents related to the case. A source tells us the vote will happen on Thursday.
Two veteran Capitol Hill lawmakers face bruising primary challenges today as they try to hold on to their seats. Six-term Senator Orrin Hatch appears poised to win against Dan Liljenquist. Hatch has Mitt Romney's support.
And Harlem Congressman Charlie Rangel is hoping to be re-elected to his 22nd term. Rangel thinks voters will come out and support him despite being found guilty of ethics violations in 2010 by fellow lawmakers. Here's what he told our Soledad O'Brien a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CHARLIE RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: I got 83 percent of the vote the last time out. But the most important thing, if people would read the Web site of the Ethics Committee, read "The New York Times" about a month ago, where Sam Roberts put an expose out against the conduct of the committee that right now, as you and I talk, that committee is under investigation by private counsel for wrongdoing. Now that's behind us. I have been elected overwhelmingly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: We'll see. The former House Ways and Means chairman is in a locked five-way race in a newly drawn district.
If you use a Mac and search Orbitz for the cheapest travel, you may not be getting it. In fact, the site is actually showing you a more expensive hotel.
Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange.
So Mac users are being taken advantage of just because they use Macs?
ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, from looking out from the outside in, it certainly seems that way. So travel Web site Orbitz, Carol, says it's found that Mac users spend as much as 30 percent more a night on accommodations versus if you're maybe a PC user. So the "Wall Street Journal" says that Orbitz is actually steering Mac users to more expensive hotels.
What the "Journal" found is that depending on the city, the results interestingly enough come up very different between PC and Mac users. So as you can imagine, this is not sitting very well with many people. Some are actually accusing Orbitz of charging Mac users more. But Orbitz tells CNN no, no, no. This is not the case. Prices are the same. Results are just displayed differently.
Orbitz goes on to say that the, "story grew out of our observation that Mac users tend to like four to five star hotels more than PC users. We make recommendations about hotels along a number of variables, like traveling with or without children."
But I have to note here for you that regardless of whatever type of computer you're using at home, you can still sort your results by price -- Carol.
COSTELLO: So how common is it for Web sites to do this?
KOSIK: Well, rival sites, Expedia, Priceline, and Travelocity say no, no. We don't base hotel suggestions on a type of a computer -- a computer a customer is using. But the CEO of Rue-la-la, that's a fashion Web site, tells the "Journal" that they actually pay very close attention to iPhone and iPad users because what they find is that they account for such a huge chunk of mobile sales. And analysts say that's likely to become more common.
And you think about, Carol. It makes sense. You know? If someone, let's say, is willing to spend 600 bucks on an iPad, probably a lot more likely that they're going to have extra money to spend elsewhere -- Carol.
COSTELLO: Alison Kosik, thank you.
Gas prices, they keep falling. They're already down 14 cents in a year. How low will they go, though?
COSTELLO: It is 15 minutes past the hour. Checking our top stories now this morning:
Parts of Interstate 10, east of Tallahassee, closed due to flooding from tropical storm Debby. Debby could dump nearly a foot, another foot of rain on Florida's Gulf Coast. Torrential rains have already flooded many areas, trapping some people in their homes since Sunday.
Several Colorado wildfires are still raging out of control. Hot, dry, windy weather are fuelling the flames that will last through midweek. The fire has already destroyed 250 homes. Another fire has forced 11,000 people out of their homes.
In money news, the national average gas price drops to $3.40 a gallon. AAA says that's a plunge of 10 cents in a week, and down 14 cents from a year ago. We can expect even lower prices in the coming weeks as oil prices fall.
In weather, extreme heat in south central Texas. Austin and San Antonio could see afternoon highs of 102 to 107, and it will feel more like 110 in some spots. Rolling power outages might be necessary if demand for electricity gets too high.
In sports, it was Florida's Ryan Lochte locking up the first spot on the U.S. swim team. Lochte edged Michael Phelps in the 400- meter individual medley at the Olympic swimming trials in Omaha. Both swimmers, though, are headed to London.
In Canada this morning, a painstaking, gut-wrenching search is underway. Crews are meticulously picking through the debris of a collapsed shopping mall in southern Ontario. At least two people are believed to be trapped underneath the rubble. But officials fear that if they probe too deeply, the entire structure could collapse.
Let's get the latest from CTV reporter Jon Vennavally-Rao.
Good morning, Jon.
Rescue workers say they hear breathing. Is that right?
JON VENNAVALLY-RAO, CTV REPORTER: Yes. That was yesterday morning at 4:00 a.m. They have some specialized equipment that can monitor whether or not somebody may be buried underneath the rubble. And they detected signs of breathing by someone underneath giant concrete slabs inside of this mall.
I mean, when the roof came crashing down, and this was Saturday afternoon at 2:00, you know, big concrete slabs and metal came crashing into the mall. They are not sure how many people were trapped underneath that rubble. But they have detected signs of life yesterday morning of at least one person.
They also say that one other person is now confirmed dead in that disaster. And we still don't know, there may be many other people trapped underneath the rubble. And the rescue yesterday temporarily, at least at one point was called off because of safety concerns. However, they decided late last night after people in this town reacted very angrily to that decision, they are going to try again using another method, heavy machinery, and they're going to try and dismantle sections of the building to get to where people may be trapped.
COSTELLO: Yes, I was going to ask you what kind of equipment they're using because, you know, the whole thing could go down.
VENNAVALLY-RAO: Yes. I mean, and the hope was yesterday at least earlier in the day that the rescuers could sort of pick their way through the rubble and get to where the signs of life were detected. But at one point, the engineers just looked at the situation and said, look, guys, this whole thing could come down on these rescuers. We just got to pull out.
So last night, the decision was made by officials that we're going to try again, but perhaps using some unconventional methods here. So they are going to bring in some heavy equipment. They're not sure how long this is all going to play out and how long this is going to take, but they say they're going to try and get in from the outside and dismantle the building to the point where maybe they can get rescuers in. Maybe they can look through that rubble and determine how many people may have been buried under there and whether anybody is still alive three days later.
COSTELLO: Wow. Jon Vennavally-Rao, reporting live for us -- thanks so much.
In Washington, the Pentagon is making history today, their first-ever gay pride event.
COSTELLO: The Pentagon hosting a gay pride event. That would be history making. And history will be made today.
It was just last year don't ask don't tell went away. The controversy remains, though, but the Pentagon is moving on.
Today, gay and lesbian service members will be recognized for their commitment to the gay community and their service to this country. The Pentagon is hosting its first-ever pride event since the repeal. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had this message.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEON E. PANETTA, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I want to personally thank all of our gay and lesbian service members, LGBT civilians and their families for their dedicated service to our country. And now after repeal, you can be proud of serving your country and be proud of who you are when in uniform.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: Serving openly in the Coast Guard is Lieutenant Commander Zac Mathews.
LT. CMDR. ZAC MATHEWS, COAST GUARD: Carol, good morning. Thank you for having me.
COSTELLO: Good morning. Thanks for being here.
So, Lieutenant, this must be an exciting day for you. Did you ever think you would see this day?
MATHEWS: Well, it certainly is. And I think there are quite a few of gay and lesbian service members who are very excited to see this day come.
COSTELLO: It's a rather subdued event, including a roundtable discussion. Certainly not the festive raucous street parties we usually associate with gay pride evens.
Why do you suppose that is?
MATHEWS: Well, I think it's important to focus on the service of gay and lesbian service members around the world today. The -- like the -- even before the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," gays and lesbians came to work every day and did their job. They did what they were trained to do.
And now that "don't ask, don't tell" has been repealed, they do the same thing. Nothing has changed. They continue to come to work every day. They drive tanks. They fly helicopters. They protect this nation's freedoms.
And it's -- it's important because it shows that gays and lesbian -- gay and lesbian service members serve with the same enthusiasm as any other service member, regardless of sexual orientation.
COSTELLO: You say it hasn't changed, but, of course, it's changed. Tell me how it's changed for you.
MATHEWS: Well, it's a big change. It's a big change because I can be open and honest with my co-workers. Integrity is important to me. And as a leader in the military, that honesty and that communication that I have is important.
And that is the biggest change. But other than that, it's -- all in a day's work, so to speak. I continue to come to work and do my job.
COSTELLO: So, I'm just curious -- your fellow service members are -- if they're gay, are they coming forward now? Do they feel comfortable enough to do that already?
MATHEWS: I think that each service member -- or each gay and lesbian service member's to come out is their own individual decision. But I think it's important that as leaders in the military, we stand up and give a good example to others that gay and lesbians serve in the military and also to dispel any negative stereotypes as well.
COSTELLO: And as far as gay people signing up, is there an increase? Do you know?
MATHEWS: Well, I don't know. That's a good question. And hopefully events like today at the Pentagon may inspire some gay or lesbian person who is interested in military service to join.
COSTELLO: Lieutenant Commander Zac Mathews, thanks so much for being with us this morning.
MATHEWS: Great. Thank you, Carol.
COSTELLO: He has written about the face of our current and immediate past presidents. Now, a "New York Times" best selling author goes in depth about the religion of the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. I'll talk to him about how it's hip to be Mormon.
COSTELLO: Opening bell on Wall Street just about to ring. Stocks are pointing to a higher start as investors are keeping a close eye on Europe, of course. Leaders are holding a summit this Thursday to address the euro debt crisis. To ring the bell this morning, members of the Synnex Corporation that's based in California.
This morning, parts of Interstate 10, east of Tallahassee, closed due to flooding from tropical storm Debby. Debby could dump nearly a foot, another foot of rain on Florida's south coast. Some areas have already seen 20 inches of rain. Floodwaters have trapped some people in their home since Sunday.
The House is set to vote this Thursday on whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. Last week, Holder refused to give all of the requested documents in the government's controversial Fast and Furious gun-running sting.
President Obama used his executive privilege, allowing the Justice Department to withhold some of those documents.
It is hip to be Mormon. Really? Maybe you've seen one of these billboards while driving around town which reads, "I'm a Mormon." Or maybe you bought a Broadway ticket to see Tony Award-winning musical, "The Book of Mormon."
Whatever the case, "The New York Times" best selling author who wrote books about the faith of former President George W. Bush and President Obama is out with a new book. This one is called, "The Mormonizing of America: How the Mormon Religion Became a Dominant Force in Politics, Entertainment and Pop Culture."
Stephen Mansfield, welcome.
STEPHEN MANSFIELD, AUTHOR, "THE MORMONIZING OF AMERICA": Thank you. Good morning, Carol.
COSTELLO: Good morning.
You say Mormonism has emerged as one of the fastest-growing religions. How do you explain it?
MANSFIELD: Well, I think that even if you don't accept, like, or believe in their supernatural doctrines, the fact is they just have a dynamic of society, of investment, of family, of social impact that has just increased their numbers. There were only 1 million of them in 1950 in America. Now, there are 7 million. That's phenomenal growth, and faster than almost any other religion in America.
COSTELLO: So, what's attracting people to the Mormon faith?
MANSFIELD: Well, in an unfathered generation, with the breakdown of the family, they promise a Heavenly Father. They have unbelievable community. They ooze around people. They know how to have a big porch so to speak on their religion and invite people in.
And then there's just that tight community, belonging. The community and the family are eternal things. And they believe in everybody having gifts, and everybody -- all the males having an office in the religion.
So there's a tremendous amount of belonging, connection, Heavenly Father orientation in a society that's very fragmented and relationally broken.
COSTELLO: OK. So why isn't Mitt Romney talking more about his religion if Mormonism has become so popular so quickly?
MANSFIELD: I think both campaigns are staying away from it right now. And Mitt Romney, the scuttle but the politically as you may know is that he has been urged by senior advisers not to talk about it in this campaign. They think he talked about it too much in 2008, that it hurt him. And now they are sort of holding him back.
I don't think that's going to work. I think we're still heading towards what I call a Mormon moment in this election, where there's going to be a conflict. Somebody is going to make an allegation, and we're going to have to air it.
COSTELLO: You said there could be a collision in this election between Romney and Obama over their faiths. What might it be like? What would it look like?
MANSFIELD: Well, you know, you have to realize 20 percent of Republicans say they will not vote for a Mormon, 27 percent of Democrats say they won't. You have Mr. Obama with his nontraditional brand of Christianity many people think. The polls show us they think that. And then you have Mr. Romney who is a Mormon.
So, it's only going to take an outlier, it's only going to take some harsh criticism when the race gets tight for both of their faiths to come center stage. I think that's yet ahead of us.
COSTELLO: OK. Let's say that doesn't happen. If it doesn't happen, you know, then we always believe during the primaries that religion is an important factor when it comes to politicians we choose. But if religion doesn't come up in the general election, does that show us that religion is not so important anymore in electing the president of the United States?
MANSFIELD: Well, we might conclude that except the polls show otherwise. The number of people who won't vote for a Mormon, the number of people who tonight believe it's Christianity, according to Pew surveys. The number of people who think it's in conflict with the American mainstream.
I mean, if we go silent on religion during the final phase, it will belie everything the polls are telling us, which means people are intentionally going silent on the subject. I don't think that's healthy for the country.
COSTELLO: Well, the book sounds fascinating and thanks for sharing some of it with us this morning. Steven Mansfield -- thanks so much.
MANSFIELD: Good to be with you. Thank you very much. Good to be with you.
COSTELLO: You're welcome.
As the morning show wars heat up, the "Today" show's co-host could be in for a multimillion dollar paycheck to leave. We have the scoop.
COSTELLO: You've probably heard the rumors about "Today" show host Ann Curry. She could be paid up to $10 million to leave the show.
CNN's Alina Cho has more on the morning show wars that could force Curry from her job.
ANNOUNCER: This is "Today."
ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the set of the "Today" show, it's business as usual.
MATT LAUER, "TODAY": And good morning, everyone.
CHO: Matt Lauer and Ann Curry co-hosting the show as they have for the past year. But if you believe all the recent media reports, there could soon be a change.
BRIAN STELTER, MEDIA REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Now there's this very strange situation going on where she is on the show every morning acting like nothing is going on.
CHO: Behind the scenes, amidst declining ratings, reports are rampant that Curry is negotiating her exit and that she could leave the "Today" show as early as this week. Why? Insiders say it all comes down to chemistry.
ANN CURRY, "TODAY": If it does rain, we're going to be dancing, you and I, both of us outside.
LAUER: Well, let's just make that you, OK?
STELTER: Morning TV anchors are like husbands and wives on TV, and the research showed that Ann was great on her own and the viewers love her. But being paired with Matt may have not been the right thing.
CHO: "New York Times" media reporter Brian Stelter broke the news that Curry could be leaving. Why now? And so soon? For one, the competition.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Hello, everyone. Everyone is stepping up their game.
CHO: The numbers don't lie. Though the "Today" show has been number one for 16 years and still is, in April, ABC's "Good Morning America" took the lead and has won the ratings battle several more weeks since then.
STELTER: Maybe that's because those people on "GMA" now are people you want to hang out with, people you want to spend more time with. Right now, "GMA" which is always the number tow, feels fresher.
CHO (on camera): And the "Today" show?
STELTER: And the "Today" show feels stale.
LAUER: I'm Matt Lauer, alongside Ann Curry.
CHO (voice-over): NBC isn't commenting on the reports. But in a recent CNN interview, Matt Lauer said this.
LAUER: When people start to write articles about what might be wrong with the "Today" show, do you know where you should point the finger? Point it at me, because I've been there the longest and it's my responsibility.
CHO: As for Curry, in an interview for the August cover of "Ladies Home Journal," when asked about the ratings decline, she said, "It's hard not to take it personally. You worry. Am I not good enough? Am I not what people need?"
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This isn't nonprofit theater. It's advertiser-supported television. You know that, right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd rather do a good show for 100 people than a bad one for 1 million, if that's what you're saying.
CHO: The problem is viewers count. The more people watch, the more money TV morning shows make, which is why who sits in that anchor chair is so closely watched.
Alina Cho, CNN, New York.
COSTELLO: Actually, we have Alina Cho with us live.
And I know she makes a lot of money. But she is still a human being. And to sit there day after day while rumors are swirling around, that cannot be easy.
CHO: You're absolutely right. In fact, I happen to speak with somebody over at "Good Morning America" over the weekend, and congratulated this person. And said, you know, congratulations on your ratings wins recently. And this person said to me, "Yes, thank you." And in the same breath said, "I feel very badly for Ann Curry."
Having said that, Carol, as you know, this is about the news. This is about chemistry when you're talking about co-anchors. But it really is about money, and a lot of money. The "Today" show generates an estimated $300 million a year for NBC in profits, a year. And that makes it one of the most profitable shows, not just in the news business, Carol, but in the television industry as a whole. And that underscores why we are paying so much attention to who sits in that anchor chair.
COSTELLO: OK. So, I'm going to say this. It's just -- it's just amazing that NBC allowed these rumors to leak out, because there had to be a way to put a lid on it. And to make Ann Curry go through this.
I know it's a business decision and all, but still. Why -- where did the leak come from, I wonder?
CHO: Well, that's a very good question, Carol. But, you know, I mean, we work in the news business. It is quite possible that --
COSTELLO: It's cold, and cruel, and who cares.
CHO: No. It's possible, you know, that someone wanted to float this as an idea and to see how people would react. I can tell you that we've been watching the blogs, we've been watching Twitter, and there's been a lot of support there for Ann Curry.
COSTELLO: She's been there a long time.
Alina Cho, thank you very much.
One of Wimbledon's legends fell hard and fell early. We'll look at Venus' eclipse at Wimbledon.
COSTELLO: Forty-three minutes past the hour. Checking your top stories now:
Several Colorado wildfires are raging out of control this morning. Hot, dry, windy weather is expected to last through midweek. The largest fire has already destroyed nearly 250 homes. Another fire has forced 11,000 people to evacuate.
Tropical storm Debby still drowning parts of Florida in rain. I-10, east of Tallahassee, closed because of flooding. Debby could dump another foot of rain on Florida's Gulf Coast. Some people have been trapped in their homes since Sunday.
In money news, some states are considering higher fines for those caught texting and driving or calling and driving. AAA says seat belt studies show more drivers obey laws when fines go up. But the president of a drivers' rights group says higher fees for distracted driving won't do the trick. He says education is the solution.
In the world of entertainment, the prop head of former President George W. Bush that appears on "The Game of Thrones" has been removed -- well, at least it's been altered.
This is what viewers saw when the video aired. OK. So, now this they stream it online, they will see this image, all blurry. The show's creators say they did not mean this as a political statement. They just used props that were at their disposal.
This morning, there are rising tensions between two heavily armed neighbors, just days after Syria shot down one of its warplanes, Turkey responds with a threat of its own. The Turkish prime minister wants any future brush with Syria's military could turn violent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKISH PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The engagement rules for the Turkish armed forces have been changed. Any military approach deemed to be a risk at the Turkish border from the Syrian side will be perceived as a threat and would be dealt with accordingly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: CNN's Ivan Watson is in Istanbul.
So, what's Syria saying about this?
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We haven't really heard a formal response from Syria yet, Carol. But this is a warning, a stern warning from Turkey, in light of the fact that the Turks have really tried to play down past problems that have erupted along this troubled and turbulent border between Turkey and Syria.
Turkish officials are telling me, "Listen, we've had a number of Syrian aircraft violate our air space in recent times. At least five Syrian helicopters have done that in recent months," the Turkish officials tell me, "and we didn't choose to shoot any of them down without any warning fire." That approach will change now in light of the fact that the Syrians shot down this Turkish warplane without any warning message, without any warning shots.
And the fact that the two Turkish pilots of this Reconnaissance jet are still missing and it's feared that they will not survive now some five days after their aircraft was shot down -- Carol.
COSTELLO: So -- so what could be the big worry here, Ivan?
WATSON: Well, I mean this is already a -- a tinder box in the region. We have a conflict inside Syria that has claimed the lives of probably more than 10,000 people at this point, and shows no signs of ending. A civil war, some people are arguing. And the fear is it could draw in neighboring countries.
Turkey has provided a safe haven to the Syrian opposition, to rebels. The Syrian government has accused the Turks of arming the rebels; charges that the Turks have denied. The Turks clearly don't want to engage in a war with their neighbor, but they are under pressure to respond to the loss of their plane and to the loss -- potential loss of two of their pilots as well.
Syria has very powerful supporters. Iran and Russia and this would put Turkey directly at odds with those two countries. As Turkey has tried to build its international case in the world court of opinion on this shooting down of its plane, it has also reached out to Syria's foreign patrons, Russia and Iran to try to share with them their argument where the coordinates of the plane were when it was shot down to explain to them, listen, Syria is in the wrong here.
The Syrians of course, they have been saying they shot this plane down in self-defense -- Carol.
COSTELLO: Ivan Watson reporting live from Istanbul, Turkey this morning.
The Vatican tapping a very unusual person to be its new public face. Who is it and why it's raising eyebrows.
COSTELLO: The Vatican is hoping a fresh face will help its image and the person it's bringing is actually an outsider to the church and he's not even a priest.
Here is CNN's Lisa Sylvester.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In an unprecedented move, the Pope has hired a new public relations guru from a most unlikely place. Fox News reporter Greg Burke who covers Rome is switching sides, becoming the Vatican senior advisor for communications.
Burke told us his role will be to contribute as outsider's perspective to Vatican meetings, to shake strategies once decisions are made and to help the Vatican avoid some PR problems. And experts say he'll have his hands full.
DAVID GIBSON, RELIGIONS NEWS SERVICE: It's the best move the Vatican has made in a long time. But whether it's going to be enough, I don't know. They've got a lot of problems internally with their communications strategy and also presentation.
SYLVESTER: Unlike most top Vatican officials Burke is not a clergyman, but he is a member of the influential conservative lay group known as Opus Dei depicted in Dan Brown's popular book in the movie "The Da Vinci Code" as a powerful and secretive group of fixers within the Catholic Church.
Burke told us he is a dedicated numerary in the organization, committed to staying celibate and unmarried and it's a big part of his life.
GIBSON: You've got the Vatican hiring a guy from Opus Dei less than a week after the Pope's number two Cardinal Bertone said, look, "The media is turning this all into a Dan Brown novel, all this leak scandal and everything.
Well, Cardinal, if it's not a Dan Brown novel, you went and turned around and hired a man from Opus Dei, how is that going to play out?
SYLVESTER: Gibson does say while Opus Dei is highly effective and influential in the Vatican it is not sinister organization like the popular depiction.
Burke will start his new job amid an unfolding Vatican scandal involving the leak of internal documents and the arrest of the Pope's butler.
Also causing controversy the recent crackdown on American nuns, the censure of a nun's writings; and over the past few years the Pope's handling of the pedophilia scandal. Burke says he will not work from the press office but instead will be based in the powerful office of the Secretary of State.
JOHN ALLEN, CNN VATICAN ANALYST: The place where the ultimate insiders, the power brokers, and movers and shakers are located. So the fact that Burke is going to be working out of that space indicates they mean him to be a real insider, somebody who is going to be sitting at the table when the sausage is ground.
SYLVESTER (on camera): It also represents another American in a Vatican inner circle that now has several.
Lisa Sylvester, CNN, Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: We're following a lot of developments in the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM. Let's just check in first with Alexandra Steele.
ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well Carol you know tropical storm Debby has dropped anywhere between and two and 22 inches of rain. Where is it now and when will it exit? I've got all the details coming up.
JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jim Spellman in Colorado Springs where a wildfire has forced thousands to evacuate. I've got all the details at the top of the hour.
ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Alison Kosik at the New York Stock Exchange. Are you trying to sell your home? Well, I've got a rare piece of good news. A new report shows home prices made a nice bounce in April. I'll tell you which cities got the biggest increases. Carol that's coming up in the next hour.
COSTELLO: All right Alison.
And a man is kicked out of a bar in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. He claims the bar kicked him out because he's African- American. Attorneys for the bar dispute that claim. They say the bar is a private club with a membership and a dress code. In about 40 minutes I'll talk with Jonathan Gwall (ph) his attorney and ask him exactly what happened and why he's alleging racism?
COSTELLO: It was a long time coming for the University of Arizona. The Wildcats won their first national baseball championship since 1986 with a 4-1 defeat of the defending champs, South Carolina. Arizona finishes its college World Series one with a perfect record of 10-0.
Venus Williams was ousted in straight sets by Russian Alana Vesnia, in first round play at Wimbledon, Monday. It was the earliest exit for Williams since her Wimbledon debut in 1997.
Wasn't Michael Phelps looking up at first spot on the USA swim team. It was Ryan Lochte, Lochte and Phelps finished first and second in the 400-meter individual medley at the Olympics swimming trials in Omaha. Both swimmers though, will represent team USA in London.
Tony Parker may not suit up for team France at the Olympics. Hip Hop wired says the eye injury Parker suffered from a flying glass at a New York night club earlier this month is severe enough to possibly keep him out of the summer games. Parker is suing the night club for $20 million. But says on his Web site he'll meet with an eye specialist on July 5th.
That's a look at your sports for your Tuesday morning.
Actually let's -- it's time for Jeanne Moos -- a human powered helicopter breaks a world record, but don't expect to use one any time soon. CNN's Jeanne Moos explains.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sure liftoff is easy with engines, but a quest to build a human-powered helicopter is littered with letdown. Though this Japanese craft may not look like a helicopter, and now Americans using rotors powered by pedalling have broken the world's record, a whopping 50 seconds.
Engineering students at the University of Maryland have been chasing the $250,000 Sikorsky price for 3 1/2 years. It doesn't sound that hard to win the prize, the flight just has to last ten seconds and reach an altitude of ten feet. After all Pippy Longstocking can do it with a plane-chopper hybrid. But for more than three decades, no one's been able to win the Sikorsky prize offered by the American Helicopter Society.
In 1989, California Polytechnic students were airborne for 7 seconds. The Japanese made it to 19 seconds. And now the University of Maryland team got within ten seconds of the goal with Kyle Gluesenkamp in the cockpit.
KYLE GLUESENKAMP, PILOT: At the end of the 50-second flight, I was definitely burned out.
MOOS: Pilots have to be light yet powerful, they use their arms and their legs. Kyle answered an ad he saw posted.
GLUESENKAMP: Are you strong but lightweight and do you want to break a world record.
MOOS: Now, he's done that but the 50-second flight only made it a foot and a half or so in altitude. Still Kyle says --
GLUESENKAMP: It feels like funny when I was in the air.
MOOS: Maybe it not as dramatic as the flight of bird man a few months ago, he was an Internet sensation. Until the Dutch filmmaker admitted flying by flapping his arms was all a hoax. The University of Maryland team calls it's craft Gamera 2 after the Japanese movie monster, a giant flying hurtle. At least no one has had to duck from this Gamera.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So far no one's been hurt by it. So far.
MOOS: what do you guys want to be when you grow up?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: World record holders.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos CNN, New York.
COSTELLO: The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM begins right now.