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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Interview With Derek Jeter; North Korean Threat; Is North Korea Bluffing?; Derek Jeter the Next Steinbrenner?

Aired March 29, 2013 - 16:00   ET

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


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Dennis Rodman, call your office.

I'm Jake Tapper, and this is THE LEAD.

North Korea says it's aiming missiles at U.S. cities and while many are laughing it off, the Pentagon isn't. And it is sending a message of its own with stealth bombers. How scared should we be? In national, a disabled man trapped on the It's a Small World ride and forced to listen to the song over and over. He called it torture and Disney had to pay. He will join us exclusively.

The sports lead, he's had over 3,000 hits and a World Series ring for the thumb. What could Derek Jeter possibly do to top that?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEREK JETER, NEW YORK YANKEES: I want to own a team one day. That is my next goal.

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Would you be like George as an owner?

JETER: In some ways, I would.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Rachel Nichols talks to the Yankee captain.

But we begin on this Good Friday with our national lead.

One pastor who will have a very busy Easter weekend, Joel Osteen. He oversees a congregation far larger than the thousands who fit into his Houston church. He is a TV mega-pastor whose message reaches millions of households weekly and every year he takes the show on the road with his Night of Hope event, filling stadiums for an evening of music and a message of faith.

Joining me now is Joel Osteen, pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas.

Pastor Osteen, thanks so much for joining us and happy Easter.

JOEL OSTEEN, PASTOR, LAKEWOOD CHURCH: Same to you, Jake. Great to be with you. TAPPER: So this weekend at your church, you will be speaking to an average of 40,000, 45,000 people. You also reach 10 million through television. How do you create a message for such a wide audience as opposed to the one-on-one ministering you do?

OSTEEN: Well, you know, a lot of it is, Jake, is acting like you're talking to one person. When I prepare my messages, I think, OK, how am I going to talk to people about how to live the Christian life, how to forgive, how to overcome, how to keep a good attitude.

So, I think the beauty of talking to the masses is you got to act like you're just talking to one. Even though I'm standing in a large auditorium, I do my best to make it as personable as can be.

TAPPER: This week in the news, obviously, the Supreme Court took up arguments about same-sex marriage and same-sex couples. Where do you draw the line? Do you think that it's important for those individuals who are in same-sex relationships to at least have the same rights as people in more traditional couples?

OSTEEN: You know, Jake, it's a fine line.

We're for everybody, but, of course, as a Christian pastor, you know, my basis is off what I believe the Scripture says. And it's between -- you know, marriage between a male and a female. But, again, we're for everybody, and -- but that's where I draw the line.

TAPPER: But even if you don't call it marriage, should people in same-sex couples be able to have the same rights to visit a sick loved one in the hospital, that sort of thing?

OSTEEN: I think so. I think we have to be compassionate about it all. We're not against everybody and there are certainly people that love each other and I believe they should have those rights.

I just -- you know, when I have come back to the Scripture, as much as I'm for everybody, I see that, you know, I don't see that in -- I don't see same-sex in the Scripture.

TAPPER: You're a consultant on The History Channel's series "The Bible." Your friend Mark Burnett produces it. It is an unbelievable success. More than 10 million people watched last week's episode. Nearly 14 million watched the debut.

Why do you think it's been so successful?

OSTEEN: Well, I think, Jake, a lot of people, there are a lot of people of faith still in our country. And when somebody takes a step of faith like Mark and Roma did, people want to get behind it and see good, quality, you know, production of something that's, you know, so true to -- dear to all of our hearts and that is the Scripture and the Bible.

TAPPER: Did you hear about this kerfuffle about the actor who was cast as Satan bearing a resemblance in some people's minds to President Obama? I'm not sure what you made of that. OSTEEN: Yes, I did.

I kind of feel like when I was talking to Mark and Roma, I felt it was nonsense as well. People can draw funny conclusions, but, you know, there's no more kind people than Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. I think it was just the fact, you know, the fact that he played Satan before in other series kind of shows you it wasn't something that they have singled out.

TAPPER: You have 1.5 million followers on Twitter. How big a role do you think social media plays in religion today?

OSTEEN: You know, I think it plays a big role, Jake.

I think it's the greatest day to be alive to have a message to get out. You know, to think about, you know, when I was growing up, it was you watched television or listened to the radio, but nowadays to be able to touch people instantly, to -- you know, through podcasts, through the Internet, I don't know. It's just an amazing day to use the technology that I believe God has given us to, you know, inspire people and to get your message out.

TAPPER: There are a lot of people out there who are suffering, people in war, people who have lost loved ones in war, whether it's in Syria or Afghanistan or in Africa, people who don't imagine that there can be a loving God, anybody who would put them through what they're going through. How do you reconcile that to them?

OSTEEN: You know, the way I reconcile it, Jake, is life is not always fair.

But I believe that God has each one of us in the palm of our hand, and when we believe, when we trust, doesn't mean we won't have difficulties and unfair things happen. But I believe God will give you the faith to make it through. And so our hearts go out to these people that are hurting and suffering and so we just believe in the power of prayer and that when you turn your trust to him, God will take you through some very, very difficult situations.

TAPPER: All right, Pastor Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church, happy Easter and best wishes to you and your congregation.

OSTEEN: Thank you so much. And same you to. God bless, Jake.

TAPPER: Here is a playground taunt you probably never thought you would hear. My state is freer than yours. But according to a libertarian think tank based out of George Mason University, some states do not live up to the land of the free guarantee as much as they should.

At the top of the list of the most free states, North Dakota. The rankings take into account economic and personal freedoms, but in keeping with libertarian values, government regulations carry the most weight. That means New Yorkers can partially thank their rent control apartments and soda bans for coming in dead last. And now it's time for the Small World challenge, where I see how long I can listen to the theme from Disneyland's "It's a Small World." OK. Reza (ph), cue the music.

(MUSIC)

TAPPER: That's enough. That's enough. Please stop.

I love Walt Disney and I love Disneyland and I love the Disney organization, but I cannot stand that song. And I don't think I'm alone. Luckily, I can kill the music any time, like just now. But those trapped on the ride back in 2009 for a half-an-hour, they didn't have that option.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, lord.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Sure, it sounds funny stuck on the ride, those creepy robot people dancing all around you, but it turned serious for one man, Jose Martinez. He is disabled. He suffers from panic attacks, meaning he could not get off the ride, like everyone else.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you want, we can call medical to get them down here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I think that would be a good idea.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Martinez sued Disney. He was awarded $8,000 this week. He and his lawyer, David Geffen, join me from Los Angeles.

First of all, Mr. Martinez, explain exactly what exactly dysreflexia is. In addition to being quadriplegic during this event, you experienced dysreflexia. What is it and why did that make the ride so traumatic for you?

JOSE MARTINEZ, PLAINTIFF: Very good question.

It is a condition that people like myself with chronic spinal cord injuries suffer when your bladder extends to incredible amounts. I normally have a bladder capacity of about 500 ccs. In this case, I was way over 1,600 ccs. And that really triggered the dysreflexia, which skyrocketed my blood pressure to over 210 to 190.

TAPPER: Talk us through the experience. Do you think Disneyland was responsive to your needs?

MARTINEZ: I believe that the eventual course of action was very lengthy. And, you know, to answer your direct question, I would say, no, not initially. TAPPER: Mr. Geffen, what did you think when you heard about this case?

DAVID GEFFEN, ATTORNEY: I thought about whether or not Disney was prepared for emergencies for people with disabilities like Mr. Martinez, and I thought perhaps there were warnings that they should have given him in anticipation of this problem that would have prevented the problem in the first place. And that is what the court found to be true is that they were aware of the Small World ride breaking down.

They had developed a policy to warn people of the ride breaking down, especially people with disabilities who can't evacuate, and they were not following their own policy.

TAPPER: And, lastly, Mr. Martinez, have you been back to Disneyland since? And what do you think that theme park should do for disabled people that they're not already doing?

MARTINEZ: Well, that again, Jake, is a very good question.

Yes, the answer is we -- my wife and I went back again a day before the trial. And, ironically, the same ride prior to just to check out and see if everything was working fine, the ride was completely down and had a major breakdown.

TAPPER: All right. Jose Martinez and David Geffen, thank you so much. I appreciate your time.

GEFFEN: Thank you.

TAPPER: He is the cherub-faced dictator of the world's most secretive nation and his plan to destroy America just came out publicly. So is it finally time to take Kim Jong-un seriously? Our world lead is next.

Plus, ever thought I really want to look at my phone, but I don't want to take it out of my pocket? Well, now you don't have to. Our money lead is coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: The world lead.

Is it time to stop laughing and take North Korea at its word? After a full month of tough talk, photo-ops and hilariously bad Photoshops, North Korea took it to another new level today, announcing that Kim Jong-un has signed off on a plan to aim rockets at U.S. targets, including American cities like Washington and Los Angeles, and Austin, Texas.

Overnight, these photos were released of Kim inside his war room as he went over the strike plan. And while most military analysts say there is no way he could pull it off, there are tens of thousands of U.S. troops probably within range in the Pacific. And a defense official now tells CNN that no increased activity has been spotted around missile sites.

Still, the new threat comes a day after the U.S. responded with an attention-getter of its own. Maybe history's most intimidating combat aircraft, B-2 stealth bombers, two B-2s, were deployed from Missouri to make a mock 6,000 mile bombing run over South Korea, the Pentagon's way of saying, hey, we're not playing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHUCK HAGEL, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: I don't think we're poking back or responding. The North Koreans have to understand that what they're doing is very dangerous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: So, who is the real Kim Jong-un, the chubby, chuckling, disco-dancing basketball fanatic who is BFFs with Dennis Rodman, or a reckless, unhinged dictator who worries some in our national security establishment more than al Qaeda does?

Here to talk about it former defense secretary and senator from Maine, William Cohen.

Senator, when you see the crazy propaganda ads out of north Korea lately, for example, this one showing New York City in flames while "We Are the World" plays in the background, it becomes a little hard to take Kim Jung Un seriously.

But let's be honest -- this guy and his father before him. They come off as clownish but national security experts are not laughing. They're concerned about what Kim Jung Un might do. Three years ago, North Korea attacked a South Korean sea vessel, killing 46 sailors. That same year, they shelled an island killing four South Koreans.

So, this is a very serious thing. They're testing weapons. They're talking smack.

How scared should we be?

WILLIAM COHEN, CHAIRMAN & CEO, THE COHEN GROUP: Well, I think we should be concerned. This has been going on for sometime but you have a young man who was promoted to a four-star general before becoming president, who has very little worldly experience, who has no other show of capability other than his military, and I think he is under enormous pressure to demonstrate that his metal as such.

And so, what they're doing now is quite dangerous in terms of a possible miscalculation. There is very little flexibility on the part of the South Korean president. I was in Seoul in early January and because of what you mentioned before, the taking down of the ship and killing 46 sailors, another four killed on the island, she as a new person has very little flexibility. If he does something that is at all provocative and results in a loss of life or puts them in jeopardy, then she is going to be required to respond and rather vigorously. So it's dangerous and I think this show of force, Secretary Hagel mentioned that we're not responding. We're trying to send a signal to four countries. To North Korea to be sure but also to Japan, South Korea, because they have shown some concern recently that perhaps our commitment to that security of the region is not as strong as it needs to be. Even some talk about South Korea and Japan possibly turning to nuclear weapons which would be a big mistake. It's not really a solid position now. But they're talking about it.

And the fourth country is China.

TAPPER: Well, let's talk about China, because, obviously, China does not want a unified Korea. They don't want a U.S. presence and U.S. ally that big. But they can't be happy with that.

You were in China earlier this week. What do they think?

COHEN: They are not happy with the North Koreans. They are very worried that this thing could get out of hand. And so they want the rhetoric to be lowered to be sure, but also to try to reduce the notion that we're headed inevitably toward any kind of conflict. It's very bad for them, for us. You mentioned before that we have some troops who are within range of the North Korean missiles. We have 28,500 troops in South Korea.

So, yes, we have thousands of troops at risk and we want to make sure that the North understands that they, if we had to respond, we can do it by air, land, or sea. So, it's a very strong message. Some question whether it's too aggressive. I think it is better to be a little more aggressive so that by showing less aggression, you may be inviting even more provocation coming from them.

So I think with just the right message we want all the countries in the region to know number one we're prepared to defend ourselves and our allies in the region.

TAPPER: And lastly, sir, the big fear I guess is something along the lines of North Korea starts shelling downtown Seoul and that would be the worst thing. South Korea would have to respond. And the U.S. would have to help South Korea.

COHEN: Absolutely.

TAPPER: What happens then?

COHEN: That would result in the destruction of the North. That is exactly the message that is being sent. If you, in fact, start shelling South, Korea you are attacking an ally, you're attacking us. It means we made -- met with a very vigorous response from air, land, and sea.

So, this is the message that is going forward. And hopefully we talk softly, carry a big stick, and I hope that the Chinese can exercise even more influence over their North Korean clients state because they provide the food and the fuel. And if that is reduced, then North Korea is in very big trouble. They're already in big trouble, but that would be big trouble for them and possibly result in a regime change.

TAPPER: All right. Defense Secretary William Cohen, thank you so much. Hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend.

COHEN: Good to be with you.

TAPPER: And tragic news out of Arizona. A U.S. Navy SEAL was killed and another injured in a parachute training accident. This news according to the U.S. Department of Defense. This accident happened at the U.S. Special Operations Command parachute testing and training facility at Pinal Airpark. An investigation is under way.

The news comes just a month after seven U.S. Marines were killed during a training exercise in Arizona when two helicopters collided.

He just became pope a few weeks ago and already it's the main event. Pope Francis presiding over his first Good Friday service as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church. Holy Week will conclude on Easter Sunday as Pope Francis celebrates mass and bestows blessings on tens of thousands of pilgrims in St. Peter's Square.

When you think of Christianity, communists and the One Child Policy are probably not the first things that come to, but it turns out on this Good Friday that China, a nation more well-known for religious oppression, may be the largest Bible producer in the world. Only one company called Amity is authorized to print Bibles in China. "The Economist" reports Amity printed 12 million bibles last year alone.

The Pew Research Center says today, Christians make up only 5 percent of the Chinese population. But, of course, that's about 67 million people. Hey, Yankee fans, your beloved Derek Jeter is already thinking about retirement and his second act could hit him against his Bronx Bombers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN SPORTS: You've been shopping? Or are you looking through the --

DEREK JETER, NEW YORK YANKEES: I haven't. No, I haven't yet. I don't know if you really pull out a catalog and pick your team and buy it. But only time -- yes, only time will tell.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Will Derek Jeter have a permanent seat in another team's owner's box? Our "Sports Lead" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: "The Sports Lead". Don't hate the player. Just hate the Yankees. Derek Jeter is now 38 and coming back from a broken ankle he suffered in last year's playoffs. And while fans of other teams just want him to go away, he is not going anywhere. In fact, he may be around for a long time after he hangs up the pinstripes, not as a Yankee captain but as the boss. Our superstar Rachel Nichols explains. You caught up with the Yankee.

NICHOLS: I did. And this is his first major injury. So having to sit while everybody else plays was tough for him during the playoffs. It's tough for him now that he is going to miss opening day and it's tough for him because it is begging a lot of questions about, well, Derek, how much more time do you have left?

So, we talked to him about that and a little bit more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICHOLS (voice-over): During Derek Jeter's historic 17-year run as shortstop for the New York Yankees, he has racked up five world championships and more than 3,300 hits and that's just on the field.

He's also got all star status on the red carpet.

But with the season delaying ankle injury upon him, and many of his closest friends retiring from the game, the 38-year-old is starting to plan for when he also eventually steps away from the diamond.

(on camera): What's scary about the idea of not being in the game whenever down the road it does happen?

JETER: You know, I don't know if there is anything scary about it. I'm pretty sure I'll be involved in the game in some facet. You know, I want to own a team one day. You know, that's my next goal.

NICHOLS (voice-over): Becoming a player-turned-owner would put him in pretty good company. Basketball legend Michael Jordan is the majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats. Magic Johnson owns part of the L.A. Dodgers.

(on camera): You think the Yankees are for sale? You could buy this team.

JETER: Too expensive, unless you give me some of your money.

NICHOLS: What are you thinking of? You've been shopping? Or are you looking through the --

JETER: I haven't. No, I haven't yet. I don't know if you really pull out a catalog and pick your team and buy it. But only time -- yes, only time will tell.

NICHOLS (voice-over): The Yankees, of course, will likely remain in the late George Steinbrenner's family, but Jeter says he'd like to bring a little bit of the boss' touch to whatever team he does eventually buy.

JETER: I'm a little biased but I think I played for the greatest owner in all of sports in Mr. Steinbrenner and I think I've learned a lot from him. We may have different styles of ownership, but I would look forward to it. That's something I think would be challenging. I think it would be very interesting and educational to say the least. NICHOLS (on camera): Would you be like George as an owner?

JETER: In some ways, I would.

NICHOLS: The yelling, the firing?

JETER: I don't know. I don't want to -- I still got to hire people so I don't want to tell you how bad I'm going to be before I hire anyone.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: All right. So the big question, Rachel, and I say this as somebody who proudly roots against the Yankees.

NICHOLS: I haven't picked that up from this segment at all.

TAPPER: How is his ankle?

NICHOLS: Are you thinking of going Tanya Harding on him? Why are you asking --

TAPPER: No, I'm not going to Lillehammer (ph). I'm just wondering how is his ankle?

NICHOLS: OK, his ankle is in flux. He said that he was trying to fake it for a while he told me. He said I was trying to fake it, convince myself, convince everyone else around me I could make it to opening day. That was certainly his goal.

But he said at some point he said, you can't do that anymore and he said he is getting older and wiser. He said there was a point where he would have tried to push it in his career but now he knows it's smarter for him to layoff for at least another week, see how he feels, not ruin himself for the rest of the season, which maybe you would want him to do. I don't know.

TAPPER: That is what I want to do. Of course, Rachel is a sideline reporter for the NCAA tournament. Syracuse and Marquette tomorrow here in D.C. and the Elite 8, and Florida Gulf Coast. We'll try to join them tonight.

Do you think Florida Gulf Coast can pull off another upset, or they've just -- you know, they've run their luck out?

NICHOLS: It's possible.

TAPPER: It's possible.

NICHOLS: The same way what happened last weekend is possible. But it is a very different circumstance. You go into the tournament as an unknown. You knock off the team that's not expecting you. Maybe there's 36 hours, 48 hours of hype, but still, so many other games going on and other teams that are sort of in the same position.

You knock off the other team and all of a sudden, everybody is watching you. The national media descends. They're doing all these interviews. The kids are given pep rallies on campus. They're getting free meals. They're getting swarmed in the school cafeteria.

You go into that third game a completely different player. Your head's been spinning around. You're not preparing in the same way.

By the way, Florida? They know they're coming. So, we'll see what happens tonight.

TAPPER: Yes. I know you stay objective about these things but I think I picked up what you think might happen.

But in any case, #tag you're it. What team would you want to buy and why? Me, I'd want to buy the 1993 Philadelphia Phillies. I would not send Mitch Williams out to the mound. Philly fans know what I'm talking about.

But you should tweet your answers to @TheLeadCNN, use the #buymeateam.

This story just in: Justin Verlander eats Taco Bell before every game he starts. This could buy a lot of Mexican pizzas. The Detroit Tigers ace became today the highest paid pitcher in the history of baseball, Major League Baseball, tweeted a photo of him signing the historic deal.

ESPN says it's a contract extension through 2020 that could make him the first $200 million pitcher and 2011, of course, Verlander pulled off a rare sweep of the Cy Young and most Valuable Player Awards in the American League.

Does the $600 million settlement with the U.S. government mean a ticket to freedom? Not necessarily for one billionaire whose firm is linked to insider trading. Why Steven Cohen is not out of the woods yet? Our "Money Lead" is coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)