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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Rebranding The Republican Party; Gingrich: "Go Over The Cliff"; Mystery Of John McAfee, Internet Pioneer; Dashcam Of Kidnapped Clerk's Rescue; Aussie DJs Prank Call Duchess' Hospital; NYC Subway Pushing Death Stirs Anger; Bin Laden Film Stirs Controversy; North Korea Busy At Launch Site; Ashton Kutcher As Steve Jobs; "The Human Face Of Big Data"

Aired December 5, 2012 - 07:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: We're back. Welcome back. Morning back. We had a late night screening last night for a doc, kind of throwing me a little bit.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back is what I was trying to say. In just a couple minutes, we're going to be talking about the picture that was on the front page of "The New York Post," absolutely horrifying picture.

Because you can see a man that's on the train tracks and then you see the subway train about to hit him. We're going to talk to Howard Kurtz of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES." Loren Ashburn from the "Daily Beast" will discuss that picture straight ahead.

First though, the re-branding of the Republican Party, is it underway? Two of the GOP's brightest start, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin made a joint appearance last night at the Jack Kemp Foundation awards dinner in Washington, D.C.

Both men you can tell by their remarks were trying hard to broaden their message and soften their tone. CNN political editor Paul Steinhauser is in Washington, D.C., this morning.

Paul, it's nice to talk to you. We know that Ryan really got clobbered during the presidential campaign when he talk about makers and takers, and now it seems like they're flipping the script on that.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes. This was Ryan's first (inaudible), Soledad, since the election and his message was a bit different than what the Republican running mate was saying during -- on the campaign trail a few months ago.

You know, while Ryan said he was proud of what he and Mitt Romney did on the campaign trail, both he and Rubio seemed to be pushing back a little bit against Mitt Romney's controversial comments that 47 percent of Americans are dependent on the government and feel they're victims.

Both he and Rubio laid out a vision for the party that includes helping all Americans raise their economic standing. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: Both parties tend to divide Americans into our voters and their voters. Let's be really clear. Republicans must steer far clear of that trap. We must speak to the aspirations and anxieties of every American.

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I've heard it suggested that the problem is that the American people have changed. That too many people want things from government. But I'm still convinced that the overwhelming majority of our people, they just want what my parents had, a chance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEINHAUSER: Soledad, the Kemp Foundation, of course, named after the late congressman, cabinet secretary and Republican running mate who was a hero to conservatives. You know, Ryan won the award. He was given the award last year. Rubio got it this year.

Of course, as you mentioned, both guys may be thinking about running for the 2016 Republican nomination and both guys joked about it at the beginning of their speeches last night saying maybe they should have lunch in Iowa or New Hampshire or South Carolina.

A lot more attention on these two gentlemen as we move towards 2016, but that's still a long way away -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: It's a long way and yet not, right. We're discussing it. All right, Paul Steinhauser for us this morning. Thanks, Paul.

Let's turn to Zoraida Sambolin. She has got a look at some of the other stories making news. Good morning again.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, ANCHOR, CNN'S "EARLY START": Good morning to you. With 27 days left before we come face to face with the fiscal cliff, former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has some advice for his fellow Republicans.

Let the country go over it. Gingrich telling CNN's Piers Morgan the president is using his newfound political capital to pressure the opposition and Republicans should stand their ground.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think he's putting the Republicans in a corner. They need to relax. They don't have an election until November of 2014. They need to settle up. You want to negotiate seriously we'll sit down and talk.

You don't want to negotiate seriously, we'll survive going off this cliff. No deal is better than a bad deal. I think going off this cliff is less dangerous than letting things build up for a year or two years to have a bigger cliff.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Gingrich went on to say he doesn't sense any mutual respect right now between the president and House Speaker John Boehner and that troubles him.

A lawyer says John McAfee will request asylum today in Guatemala. The computer security pioneer reemerged from weeks of hiding yesterday. He disappeared from his home in Belize after his neighbor was murdered. Police in Belize say McAfee is not a suspect and they just want to talk to him. McAfee said he feared persecution by police so he left Belize.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN MCAFEE, U.S. TECH MULTI-MILLIONAIRE: I like Guatemala. I think the legal system in Guatemala is superior to the legal system in Belize.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: One official in Belize said that if McAfee is innocent as he says, he should just talk to them and then he can move on.

Dash cam individual of police intuition and action, officers pull over a car for an expired plate and hear something coming from the trunk. Inside they discovered 22-year-old Shawn Bloomer. The gas station clerk had been kidnapped and stuffed into the trunk.

The incident happened in August, but this video is only now being released. Two men and a woman who were in the car are charged with robbery, kidnapping and wanton endangerment.

O'BRIEN: My God.

SAMBOLIN: My God is true there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Work at a convenience store.

SAMBOLIN: All right, so the hospital where Katherine, the Duchess of Cambridge is staying, is reviewing its procedures after admitting it fell for a prank call. Two Australian DJs were able to get an update on her condition.

Can you believe it? Claiming to be the Queen and Prince Philip, the Duchess of Cambridge is said to be feeling better, but she isn't out of the hospital. Prince William spending hours at her bedside as she recovers from what the palace says is extreme morning sickness. Their laws are not strong out there.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: How are you doing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a good impression.

O'BRIEN: You sound just like -- my gosh, incredible. MARTIN: A whole lot of flow, absolutely.

O'BRIEN: So this morning police say a man has implicated himself in the death of that New Yorker who was pushed on to the subway tracks. Video released by police. The 58-year-old victim, his name is Ki-Suck Han standing casually as the alleged suspect argues with him just moments before he pushes him on to the path of an oncoming train.

Onlookers tried to wave down the train operator as Han tried to climb back on the platform. The train's emergency breaks did not activate in time. Han was struck and killed and many are asking if more could have been done to prevent this tragedy.

It turned into outrage though after "The New York Post" published this picture. Look at this for a moment. It shows Han in the seconds before he was killed. The photographer who captured the image was really beaten up yesterday in the media about why he didn't help and whether "The Post" should have published this picture at all on the cover.

The photographer says he wasn't close enough to help. We want to turn to Howard Kurtz who is the host of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES" and the Washington Bureau chief of "Newsweek" and the "Daily Beast." And Lauren Ashburn, she is a contributor to the "Daily Beast," editor in chief of the "Daily Download." It's nice to talk to both of you.

So Howard, let's start with you, the photographer is being blamed. He says it's unfair. He said this, "I can't let the armchair critics bother me. They were not there. They have no idea how quickly it happened." Do you think it's unfair that people have turned now on the photographer?

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, CNN'S "RELIABLE SOURCES": If he had no way of getting there in time then I suppose it's a little unfair. What's not unfair is to look at the decision to take this picture and publish it.

Look, this picture is cheap, it's sensational, it's stomach churning but it's also news. This is what tabloids do. They exploit tragedy wringing the emotion from it and the reason we're gripped and horrified by it, it's precisely because it is news.

O'BRIEN: So you're arguing, Lauren, you shouldn't publish it or almost arguing in the second part of your sentence that you should go ahead and publish it?

LAUREN ASHBURN, CONTRIBUTOR, "THE DAILY BEAST": No. It's insensitive, it's inappropriate, it's sickening, rubbernecking and Howie, with all due respect as the dean of the media, I completely disagree. Would "The Post" have published this if it were a white woman? I mean, that's just something I'm putting out there that hasn't been discussed.

O'BRIEN: I think they would have, yes. They would have. I do. I think -- what's shocking a about that has nothing to could with the race or gender of the individual. They would have -- I mean, the fact that the train is in the same shot as a human being and by extrapolation we know he's about to die, which is horrifying, that's why it's published.

ASHBURN: But it's profit motive journalism at its worst.

KURTZ: No question "The Post" is trying to sell newspapers on the stands. Here's my question, if this photograph is so over the pale and so horrifying and so unfit for human consumption why is it on every web site, why has CNN shown it five or six times in the last hour?

O'BRIEN: Well, the question -- yes. I guess the question is, you know, could he have done more and maybe that's a completely separate question.

ASHBURN: I think it is a separate question. And I think that nobody, as the photographer has now said, can know what happened in those 22 seconds. And the Pointer Institute, which is a journalism education group, has said that he has an obligation to help.

Now by flashing those pictures I think that he has made the case that he did try to help. And in the larger picture, you see people huddled in the corner. No one is running forward to help.

O'BRIEN: I don't know how I feel about it. Because on one hand it is so disturbing, yesterday, I thought if that were my father or dad and you see a picture -- people taking a picture and not help them, I would never sleep again. It's heartbreaking.

ASHBURN: It's also very sensationalistic. What is the public good by seeing this picture?

KURTZ: Because this is every New Yorker's nightmare. Anybody who's been on a crowded platform fears being groped or mugged or pushed on to the tracks and this captured that. You know, do I like looking at this? No.

Would I have made the decision as the editor of "The Post" to publish this? No. But I do think if you're a tabloid in New York City, it's not the picture that's obscene, it's capturing that horrifying moment before death. I do still wonder why the photographer's first instinct was to take pictures. I still do wonder.

O'BRIEN: Howard Kurtz and Lauren Ashburn, nice to see you guys. Thank you.

KURTZ: Thanks.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, it's a new movie getting lots of Oscar buzz, but was national security compromised to make this movie? We'll take a look at how the filmmakers got all the information behind "Zero Dark Thirty," that's coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Morning. Welcome back, everybody. You're STARTING POINT. So much buzz about a new film "Zero Dark Thirty," which tells the story of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Also a lot of controversy around the film even before its released later this month. Republicans are claiming that they had undeserved access to classified information about Bin Laden. The filmmakers say their story is based on firsthand accounts. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATHRYN BIGELOW, DIRECTOR/PRODUCER "ZERO DARK THIRTY": I certainly tried to be as faithful to the research as possible and make a good movie and make a film that was timely.

REPRESENTATIVE PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: My understanding is that the Hollywood people got access to CIA operatives, to CIA locations, that they had access to the Navy SEALs, which they should not have had. I can't really go beyond that over to say the investigation has gone on an expanded.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: So ahead on STARTING POINT, we're going to talk a little bit about this movie and whether or not that's the case. You know, I wonder if national security was really compromised.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's been a consistent conversation. Not just about this movie, right? We've had it several times. Is there information coming from the administration that constantly seems to be in a positive light and does that information go beyond and risk national security issues? I think it's a legitimate debate.

MARTIN: OK, fine, what is it then? Like what? I mean, we keep saying it's possible, possible national security. Like what?

CAIN: We've covered it extensively.

MARTIN: Like what?

CAIN: The kill list, we've talked about the details of the operation to kill Anwar Al Awlaki. We talked about the cyber attack on Iran and you put this together. It seems to be that whenever it's positive, we get to hear a lot about it.

MARTIN: The kill list was reported during the administration of President George W. Bush when you had Seemor Hersh who was saying that came out of Vice President Dick Cheney's office.

CAIN: The one that Barack Obama has similar to baseball cards put in front of him.

MARTIN: I'm just saying -- you're sitting here, there are reporters out there that provide information leaked by administrations and not like this is somehow a different administration than previous ones.

MCKAY COPPINS, REPORTER, BUZZFEED.COM: Let's just remember that this movie isn't the first one to pull the veil back on the killing of Osama Bin Laden. There was extensive coverage right after it happened. "The New Yorker" had like a 20-page sit-down interview with several different administration sources. The administration didn't go straight to these filmmakers and say, let us give you the inside scoop. I doubt there are new details in this movie that haven't already emerged.

O'BRIEN: You guys, want to see this movie?

SAMBOLIN: Absolutely. Yes, absolutely.

COPPINS: The best buzz this movie could have gotten.

O'BRIEN: I do. Even watching Kathryn Bigelow, you know she says controversy always very, very good for your movie.

MARTIN: I still remember the night it happened. So I saw the real thing.

SAMBOLIN: Earlier when Barbara Starr was talking about this, she had the package in the interview. She said that the Navy SEAL was pressured into giving up the information. I never quite understood that why the Navy SEALs would feel pressure.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT, constantly surrounded by data. A new book proposes we could study all that data and find patterns in it and change lives by exploiting those patterns. One of the authors is going to join us to explain.

The highest paid actor on TV is tackling one of the most innovative men of our time. Can Ashton Kutcher live up to the Steve Jobs' legacy? You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: It's 49 minutes past the hour. Welcome back. A quick check of your top stories. A new satellite image provided to CNN by GOI shows increased activity by workers at a launch pad in North Korea.

The activity shown in yesterday's photo was not seen in a satellite image taken only three days earlier. North Korea says it intends to launch a rocket. It claims it's for science and research purposes sometime between December 10th and December 22nd.

This morning, we're getting our first look at Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs. The first image from the film is now out. You're taking a look at it and the resemblance to a young Jobs right out of the garage is striking. The film "Jobs" will premiere at Sundance Film Festival in January.

O'BRIEN: It really works.

SAMBOLIN: It does work.

O'BRIEN: So the average person today will process more data in a single day than a person did -- internet, computer and make it visual to show all the patterns within it and turn those patterns into some kind of an action because you can really change lives.

That is the premise of a new concept called big data. In a new book called, "The Human Face Of Big Data," Rick Smolan and Jennifer Earth illustrates some of the example of how big data is already giving us a brand new way to see things.

Rick Smolan is a veteran photographer, book producer, whose credits include "A Day in the Life" book series. He is with us this morning. It's nice to have you with us.

RICK SMOLAN, AUTHOR, "THE HUMAN FACE OF BIG DATA": Thanks for having me here.

O'BRIEN: You know, I'm curious, you said data is the new oil and you look for patterns. Explain to me why that is and how patterns have a value.

SMOLAN: My 10-year-old son has heard me on the phone a lot recently talking about big data and he said what is it? I said, just imagine if you're looking through one eye and all of a sudden for the first time you can open up the second eye. You're not only getting more information, but a new dimension of understanding.

So all over the world, people are now -- all of our smart devices, ATM passes, credit cards, browser histories, these are being overlapped and we're starting to see patterns we've never actually been able to perceive before. This is affecting health, transportation, entertainment.

O'BRIEN: National security. Let's start with the first picture.

SMOLAN: Everything.

O'BRIEN: This is a great shot that shows people going through the containers. We have a still of it. And the CPB, which I guess they're doing investigations -- they only check one out of 33 containers.

SMOLAN: If you actually think that Osama Bin Laden is big in container shipping around the world.

O'BRIEN: This book, by the way, weighs 562 pounds.

MARTIN: Paperback version.

O'BRIEN: You see right there checking the container and what you write about is how if they were to use smart technology. It's less about what's in the container and more about where the container has been.

SMOLAN: And what's happened to it, who opened it, what temperature it's been in. What we're looking right now in 2012 is almost like where the internet was in 1992. We're watching a new world. It's being born. It's almost like we're watching the planet develop a nervous system.

O'BRIEN: That, of course, could have implications to national security.

SMOLAN: Yes.

MARTIN: We saw this in both campaigns, definitely the Obama campaign, how it took all this data and information to figure out, were you 60 percent or 70 percent likely to vote for a person, could they flip you and how they were targeting information based upon all this stuff.

SMOLAN: The people that you could actually influence and don't waste your time on the people that will never change their mind or vote for you.

O'BRIEN: By the way, this is a great picture. These are the Aqua Suns Phoenix synchronized swim team. It's a retirement community. But the point of this is they talk about something called a magic carpet.

SMOLAN: Right. So this is really interesting. A lot of health -- we're spending 18 percent of our GDP on health care right now. We all know our bills go up and our coverage goes down every month.

One of the things that Intel and GE has been working on is a magic carpet you install in the home of your loved one. My mom is 90 and has fallen three times in the last few years.

And we tried getting people to live with her. That wasn't a great solution. So Intel is looking an idea of -- and GE putting in a carpet that measures how your mom walks on a good day. This is Rick's mom when things are fine.

O'BRIEN: Amazing, right?

SMOLAN: When her balance is off, it can actually predict two days before it falls. This product is not out yet. I wear this, a jaw bone band.

O'BRIEN: Nike fuel --

SMOLAN: Instead of it being for ill people, three years before you're in an ambulance, your body has been giving off signals of something that's not right, but we've not been paying attention.

CAIN: I'm sorry, Soledad. This concept of big data, your eye analogy is interesting. With all this information, we just have the ability to understand not only each other and our behaviors, but ourselves at a deeper level.

SMOLAN: Yes.

CAIN: What we want, our sexuality, everything at a deeper level?

SMOLAN: Right. And right now everyone walking around with our smart phones are walking around with this constant data exhaust. A lot of people think of this as big brother. There's a company up in Boston, for example, that can tell you two days before you get depressed.

O'BRIEN: What?

SMOLAN: You have a --

SAMBOLIN: I don't know that I want to know.

SMOLAN: I have to mention that the company that funded this is called EMC. They give us complete freedom as a group of 200 journalists to look at this product. Not that it will solve our problems but that this is a brand new world that's being born. It shouldn't just be companies and governments but individuals.

MARTIN: In two days, my husband is going to be really upset.

O'BRIEN: "Human Face of Big Data" is the name of this book. It's a beautiful book. Thank you for bringing this. Appreciate it.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, it's 27 days before we hit the fiscal cliff. Some Republicans are suggesting maybe we should just go over it. We'll talk about that and any prospects of a deal, Republican Congressman Jeb Henserling of Texas.

If lawyers have to pass a bar exam, maybe a teacher has to pass a test before they're able to teach in a classroom. We'll examine that new proposal. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Morning. Welcome, everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning, no deal in sight. President Obama digging in over raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans as Republicans lashes out at Speaker Boehner over his deficit reduction plan.

And a new poll shows that Hillary Clinton is the lead candidate for 2016. She keeps saying no, no, no. But will she heed the call?

MARTIN: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

SAMBOLIN: All right, we have new details on the murder murder/suicide involving Kansas City Chief's player Jovan Belcher. What the 911 tapes reveal about the final moments of his slain girlfriend.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And it's holiday shopping time. I'm going to tell you what you should absolutely stay away from.

O'BRIEN: A packed show this morning for you. Republican Texas Congressman Jeb Henserling is joining us. Randy Winegarten is the president of the American Federation of Teachers, our guest as well.