American Morning

Tune in at 6am Eastern for all the news you need to start your day.
May 5th, 2009
07:18 PM ET

American Morning invades late night!

Inside the Late Show with David Letterman!

Ok so it wasn't exactly late night... the show tapes at 4:30 in the afternoon. But there's definitely a late night vibe they manage to create at the famed Ed Sullivan Theater.

AM's Executive Producer (and my good buddy) Janelle and I sat in the audience and cheered on our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta.  He is a guest on the show that airs tonight.

Sanjay was booked to talk about the swine flu.  Dave joked that now that it appeared the scare was waning he would just ask Sanjay for a physical. Ha! (Although I've asked Sanjay a ton of medical questions myself.)

So Janelle and I waited in the line along with many other excited visitors. Many from out of town. We were given "the rules" about making sure to laugh and clap – no wolf whistling, no cameras or phones and no "shout-outs to your favorite sports teams!"

Then we filed in and took our seats. By the way, the pages were not the friendliest. I wish, especially for the excited out of towners, that they would've been a little let's say 'warmer.'  Speaking of cold – we were warned that Dave likes the studio very cold and dressed in pants and wool coats. (In May!) Thank God.

We watched from the top level as the band warmed up – then a comedian came out to warm up the audience. 
Then, out comes the band, Paul Shaffer and finally Dave comes bursting out. No jacket. Says hello talks a little to audience. And then walks backstage and the show begins.

It's fascinating as someone who anchors  a live three hour news show to watch the taped late-night format. 
There are a lot of similarities. Dave goes "live to tape" meaning his interviews and monologue are left as is. So he doesn't redo anything.

I marvel at these guys like Dave and Conan and Jay who have an ability to be funny on cue. It can't be easy.  But I do know what it's like to interview people and try to coax the best out of them at times. Dave is great at that.

We cheered when Sanjay came out – he was great during the interview! 
I'm so proud of him as a CNNer and a South Asian.

Production-wise the whole show ran like a well-oiled machine. The band rocked. 
It was really an interesting experience. Now if only we could tape at 4:30pm... 😉 

See you in the morning,


Filed under: Behind the scenes • Entertainment
May 5th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

We Listen!

On Tuesday, American Morning viewers passionately responded to the Texas “Highway Robbery” segment. Many shared stories of corruption in Texas, while others felt the piece was assaulting the reputation of Texas lawmen.

  • Richard: I am a lawyer in Central Texas. I testified to the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee last spring about asset forfeiture fund abuses. The D.A. in Kimble County, about 100 miles NW of San Antonio, on Interstate 10, gave thousands of dollars to the judge that hears the forfeiture and criminal cases. The judge and his wife also went to Hawaii several times gratis, compliments of the DA. The judge is still there. John Burnett at NPR has been investigating this; he ran a series of stories last year.
  • David: The highway patrol in Louisiana and Texas have been doing this for years. They look for minorities as well as people with out of state license plates. The highway patrol finds them to be easy prey. The law that allows the police to do this is ridiculous. The cops are very corrupt and it will only end if Federal authorities step in. Years ago Stone Phillips did an investigation and interviewed quite a number of people. More recently, Howard Witt performed another investigation. I really don't think anything will be done about this until Federal authorities take over.
  • James: Shame on Gary Tuchman, and Shame on CNN! While I certainly appreciate the newsworthiness of such a story (law enforcement officers ripping off minority drivers), SHAME on both of you for airing the snippet/preview at 8:50 AM EST on Tuesday 5 May **WITHOUT** identifying the location where this was taking place!! There will be many people who see this report, in which the bad behavior was attributed to Texas, yet the video showed what was obviously a small-town cop and a small-town DA. However, many people will NOT be able to tune into the full report at 10:00 PM on AC 360. Effect? These people have "Texas" in their mind, and you have just smeared the reputations of THOUSANDS of reputable law enforcement officers in a state currently engaged in a front-line border war, a drug war, and under the assault of a wave of illegal immigration. I cannot believe such a "sweeps week" type of stunt would be pulled by a network of CNN's stature. Disappointing, very disappointing.

How do you feel about the story alleging corruption in the Texas highway patrol?  How would you like to see this situation investigated? Tell us your thoughts on this heated topic and be sure to tune in tonight on AC360 for the investigation by Gary Tuchman.


Filed under: We Listen
May 5th, 2009
12:53 PM ET

Obama’s Recent Market Rally

John P. Avlon is the author of Independent Nation: How Centrists Can Change American Politics and he writes a weekly column for The Daily Beast. Previously, he served as Chief Speechwriter for New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and was a columnist and associate editor for The New York Sun.
[cnn-photo-caption image= caption= "John Avlon writes that Obamanomics is starting to look pretty good these days."]

By John Avlon
Special to CNN

Despite all the recent screaming about socialism, Barack Obama’s past month and a half has quietly been pretty good for capitalists.

Yesterday, the stock market picked up more than 200 points, capping weeks of rallies that have erased almost all of 2009’s losses to date. The market hit its low on Obama’s 50th day in office – March 9th – but since that early crisis of confidence, the Obama administration’s economic plans have started to solidify and begun to take hold. Perhaps the most important measure is polls that show the American people feel our country is moving in the right direction again.

The acid test of yesterday’s rally was the fact that it continued after President Obama announced plans to close corporate tax loopholes and offshore tax-havens. If the market was feeling myopic there might been an immediate negative impact – some Wall Street commentators still reflexively tried to paint it as anti-big business class warfare. But it was accompanied by a plan to make the research and development tax credit a permanent tax cut, incentivizing long-term economic competitiveness. And the plan was carefully framed with Main Street common sense (despite the odd intro of Treasury Secretary Geithner, castigating individuals who don’t pay all their taxes): “I want to see our companies remain the most competitive in the world,” said the president. “But the way to make sure that happens is not to reward our companies for moving jobs off our shores.”

A bit of springtime optimism may be influencing this market rally. The absence of deepening crisis may be mistaken for good news. There will likely be additional bumps on the road to recovery – this week’s bank stress test might be one such bump. Some economists will argue that these closed loopholes should be accompanied by a reduction in the U.S. corporate tax rate, which is the second highest in the world. The long-term economic impact of the unprecedented stimulus spending still remains to be seen. Our deficit and debt have ballooned and, if unaddressed, represent a new degree of generational irresponsibility. Remember, reckless spending got us into this mess in the first place.

But if President Obama was blamed by some partisans for the market’s decline in his first 50 days, then its only fair that he receive some credit for the rebound now. We’re not out of the woods – there’s plenty of anger left for both big government and big business – but at least compared to Bushonomics, Obamanomics is starting to look pretty good these days. And that’s good news for everyone who’s invested in America’s success.

Filed under: Economy • John Avlon • Politics
May 5th, 2009
11:25 AM ET
May 5th, 2009
10:43 AM ET

More people smiling for mug shots

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption= "Carol Costello says some newspapers are publishing arrest photos - and it's paying off."]

From CNN's Bob Ruff

There was a time when a mug shot was, well, just a mug shot.

Remember the Watergate arrestees? H.R. Haldeman was Richard Nixon’s chief of staff. He was arrested for, and later convicted of, conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Haldeman’s mug shot was typical of the times. His pose was expressionless and the photo was fairly grainy and totally unremarkable.

The chances of anyone actually seeing a mug shot back then were pretty slim, unless the arrested person was famous, or infamous, and authorities passed on the photo to the newspapers or TV.

And today? Welcome to the wide world of mug shots.

Topping the list may well be, the web site of the St. Petersburg Times. At any given moment they show online the mug shots of latest three people booked in the four counties in the Tampa Bay area. “As this technology has emerged,” says Hillsborough County, Florida Lieutenant Jim Previtera, “when a crime occurs they’re pretty quick to want to get the mug shot and they’ve been able to do it off our public web site.”


Filed under: American Morning
May 5th, 2009
10:14 AM ET

John Edwards faces campaign fund investigation

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption= "Federal investigators are looking into payments from former presidential candidate John Edwards' campaign to his mistress."]

A sex scandal helped ruin his reputation and now former presidential candidate John Edwards could be in serious legal hot water. Federal investigators want to know more about over $100,000 his campaign paid to his former mistress’s company.

CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin joined John Roberts on CNN’s “American Morning” Tuesday to talk about the investigation.

John Roberts: $114,000 was paid by Edwards’ campaign to Rielle Hunter, his mistress, for video production services. If that's what the money was going toward, is there a problem here?

Jeffrey Toobin: There is no scandal if that's the case. The good news for John Edwards legally is that Rielle Hunter did in fact work for the campaign. So payments to her might have a legitimate explanation. There is a certain pattern in the payments and the amount is such that there are certain suspicions, but, if it's simply payment for video services, there's no scandal.


Filed under: Politics
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