EDITOR’S NOTE: Watch Soledad O'Brien's interview with Sheryl Sandberg on "Starting Point" at 7 a.m. ET on Monday, March 18th and Tuesday, March 19th.
By Soledad O'Brien, "Starting Point" anchor
When you walk into Facebook’s New York City office, you get a sweeping loft-like feeling from a beautiful courtyard with big open windows in the very modern Bank of America building on Madison Ave. You’re also faced with a message in massive red letters that you can only read at a distance:
“PROCEED AND BE BOLD.”
I was there for my sit-down interview with Sheryl Sandberg, the company’s chief operating officer. She walks me over to the wall of windows with red letters to make it clear that the message is the ethos of the social media company.
Sandberg is wearing a navy and red dress, with a dark navy cardigan, and comes across as professional and personable. She had just rushed from another interview with CNN sister company Fortune magazine. You may have also seen her in one of her other zillion interviews this week, with CBS’s “60 Minutes,” or on the cover of “TIME” magazine.
As we prepare for the interview, she tells me she doesn’t enjoy the process of talking about herself, and admits she finds it to be a bit of a struggle. But the struggle must be worth it, because Sandberg’s message is gaining traction as a result of her book “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” which was released on Monday.
The advice in “Lean In” is best when used to guide young women. In the book, Sandberg writes that women should strive to close the ambition gap with men, and to become leaders early in their careers to allow them flexibility later on.
“ 'Lean In' is not about fixing women,” she tells me. “'Lean In' is about all of us coming together to understand the stereotypes that are holding women back and fix them.”
However, that’s not how many have interpreted Sandberg’s points.
Editor's note: Soledad will talk with Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. this morning live on "Starting Point" at 8:30amET. The original package on the story aired on AC360°.
The call for help was not unusual. A 68-year-old veteran with a heart condition had tripped a medical alert device he keeps around his neck in the early hours of a winter morning. The company that services the device informed a 911 operator the device had been triggered and asked for an ambulance to go to the address.
But police arrived at Kenneth Chamberlain's apartment first. And hours later Chamberlain was dead, not from his heart condition, but from two bullets fired by White Plains, NY police officer Anthony Carelli.
Now Kenneth Chamberlain’s family has joined civil rights activists alleging this case raises similar questions to that of Trayvon Martin who was shot dead by a neighborhood watch volunteer: Do police or civilians trying to enforce the law shoot first and ask questions later when they are dealing with African Americans?
I started the morning chugging diet Snapple that bought from the 24-hour deli around the corner from my apartment. I love that lots of places are open in the middle of the night in NYC.
I came in extra early today - 2am - to sift through the exit polls from the overnight voting in the Super Tuesday primaries, especially in Ohio since that was the squeaker.
My 7-year-old Jackson left the cutest note outside my bedroom door last night. He's was psyched to watch Anderson and Wolf and the magic wall (I think this is odd, he's seven). He treats these primaries like football games: there are clear winners and losers and he doesn't care all that much about the analysis. We will focus on analysis though:
CNN declared Mitt Romney the winner in Ohio at 12:33am today, with 99% of precincts reporting. Ultimately about 12,000 votes stand between Romney and Rick Santorum.
For clues to Romney's victory, look to the same categories that have consistently supported him. He wins with liberal and moderate Republicans. And with people earning more than 100k. For Santorum, he too seals the deal with people he's already sealed the deal with–look at exit polls among those who describe themselves as extremely conservative and those who are Evangelical.
There seems to lie the problem: As Ron Brownstein points out in his excellent summation at the National Journal both candidates need to expand into a broader pool for definitive front-runner status.
This morning we'll talk to former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and RNC chairman Reince Priebus, who surely will highlight the tremendous lead Mitt Romney has in delegates. But the energy of the voters is a critical measure in a general election, and harder to measure too. GOP turnout so far is down 9% - thats a number we'll discuss today too.
I'm sitting typing this while in hair and makeup. (An aside, hard to type on the blackberry while someone is trying to do your eyeliner. Would one day be fun to do a show with no makeup and in sweats with hair in a scrunchy, but I digress) Our panel is terrific this morning: Newark Mayor Cory Booker will join me, former Romney debate coach Brett O'Donnell and National Journal's Ron Brownstein. Maybe hizzoner Booker wants to give up politics and co-anchor the morning show with me? The hours are bad and the coffee's terrible, so what's not to love?
Music this morning, chosen by my 11-year-old Sofia: The Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar"! We're live at 7am. Tune in.
I overslept this morning and I hopped in my car–late! At 3:04am. My driver Miguel says "I have a surprise for you"...which is sort of a terrifying thought at 3 in the morning. But he hits play on his iPhone and suddenly I'm listening to the Cuban singer Rolando Laserie singing "Hola Soledad." Think we'll feature THAT this morning on Starting Point's Playlist!
Last night was a late one. I got home at 7p after an all-day shoot on kids and race for Anderson. (Yes, hello, 16 hour day!) It was an amazing story, but I was tired and I had a mound of 5th grade homework to eyeball.
Monday was a crazy day: My daughter had a fever while I was on the air, so I was emailing to try to get her pediatrician Dr. Edie to see her. Today of course is all about Super Tuesday. Talk of a brokered convention has died down, and now it's about looking at the other guys. What's the Gingrich strategy for Super Tuesday? Does it all rest with Georgia? Santorum had a rough weekend, struggling through an interview on Fox and backed off of his "snob" comments. Will it hurt him?
This morning, Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) are back and will talk about Mitt Romney's efforts today, since they are both Romney supporters. We'll also shake our heads at Rep. Chaffetz's dusty old cd collection (or is it a record collection?). Devo? Seriously? I owned that in 9th grade.
Today, we'll also dig into what exactly happened in Cairo to Sam LaHood, who was among 19 Americans and 43 NGO employees facing criminal charges of using illegally obtained funds to stir up unrest. He's now out of Egypt and safe in Washington D.C.
Also we're talking football (me talking sports usually makes my husband cringe) because I find this bounty for injuring players fascinating. Players seem to think it's part of playing hard. I'll talk with former Buffalo Bills safety Izell Reese around 8:15am. He says hitting hard is part of his job and it's a physical game, but it's hard to draw a line between an intentional hit and a hit as part of the game. Should be pretty interesting.
I'm off to do some more reading before the top of the show. Join me 7am Eastern on CNN.
Editor's note: CNN's Soledad O'Brien and Rose Marie Arce traveled to Harrisburg, Illinois, Wednesday night to survey damage from the devastating EF4 tornado that killed six people there. Here is what they saw:
We headed into the disaster area, driving northeast from St. Louis, where you could feel the pockets of hot and cold air buffeting each other. Early reports are that six people died in Harrisburg, Illinois, so that's where we are headed.
The storm hit Harrisburg, with winds as high as 170 miles per hour, cutting a swath through the city. The mayor described the path as "three or four football fields wide."
The greatest damage was in southern Harrisburg, in the southern part of the state. About 200 to 300 homes are estimated to be damaged or destroyed, and the Harrisburg Medical Center was also hit. The tornado tore through a wall and left several patients' room open to the elements.
Tornado winds are incredibly powerful and affect every part of the globe. But the United States has historically experienced the worst of them. The rains that come with these storms make the ground fertile and rich, which means they tend to hit the breadbasket of any country – and the United States is no exception. The great irony is they tend to hit at the most beautiful time of year.
In Harrisburg the first sign of the severe damage is the flashing lights from police cars. Along Commercial Street we see a mini-mall, a medium sized strip mall that's collapsed in a tangle of metal and concrete. A massive yellow "Cash Store" sign has collapsed and leans backward into the rubble. Steel supporting beams are the only structures left standing.
Ringed in a semi-circle is a half dozen reporters, along with satellite trucks. The shopping mall has become a center of sorts. We meet the town's mayor, Eric Gregg, in the parking lot, along with the sheriff.
We make our way along the backside of the mall, along a residential road. A lone police car with a flashing light blocks the way into a small street. It's quaint cream-colored duplex apartments have been shattered by the strength of the tornado. Some apartments are standing, their windows intact. But others look like they've exploded, crushed cars still in the garages.
At the heart of the worst damage, where five people died on this street, there is nothing left of their homes. The foundations are empty, not even walls remain. Under curfew the street is dark and empty. Only the brisk wind blows down the road.
Danny Morse owns this housing development. Of the 10 identical homes, about half of them were built in 2005, but the rest were newly built in November. Many of those who died lived in these new homes. He points to the rubble of the farthest house.
"A girl lived there. She was young, 22," Morse said. "She had just moved in in November."
He is a large man, wearing a button-down work shirt and boots. He looks around anxiously, but he's calm: "I just cant believe it."