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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Interview With Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal; President Obama Pushes Gun Control; North Korean Crisis; Margaret Thatcher, 1925-2013; WhatsApp with Google?; Protecting A Lead Source; Risking It All For The Facts; Christie Calls Coach An "Animal"

Aired April 8, 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: It's make-or-break time for the president's gun control push. I'm Jake Tapper and this is THE LEAD.

The national lead. In a matter of moments, President Obama will touch down in Connecticut. He will speak just 50 miles from the site of the horrific massacre in Newtown. But has he already been outmaneuvered on gun control?

The world lead. If North Korea is trying to scare Americans, well, mission accomplished. Our brand-new poll finds a big jump in the number of people who say North Korea is an immediate threat, while optimism for a peaceful solution is fading.

And the politics lead. Add this to Jay-Z's 99 problems, congressional scrutiny over his getaway with Beyonce to Fidel Castro's backyard.

Good afternoon. We begin with the national lead. At this moment, President Obama is in the skies aboard Air Force One planning to touch down this hour in Hartford, Connecticut, where he's making a last-ditch effort to keep his gun control agenda alive.

The president will speak about 50 miles away from Newtown where 26 people including 20 children were gunned down in December, as if you could forget. Now nearly four months later, the shock has faded and so has the support for tougher gun laws. The Senate will begin debating new gun control legislation as early as this week, but the president doesn't even have enough support within his own party for his fondest wish, a new ban on some types of semiautomatic rifles sometimes called assault weapons.

And Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, joins us right now.

Senator, thanks for joining us.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Senator, I wanted to ask you about this emphasis on so- called assault weapons, these types of semiautomatic rifles being that are banned -- more numbers of them are being banned in Connecticut and then also of course there's a push to do the same on a federal level. According to a University of Pennsylvania study, assault weapons are only used in 2 percent to 8 percent of gun crimes. Mostly, it's handguns. So can you explain why the emphasis legislatively on assault weapons?

BLUMENTHAL: There's an emphasis on assault weapons because of mass killings that involve assault weapons, the AR-15 in Newtown, but also because of the use of high-capacity magazines which are also involved in the effort that we are undertaking to bring that amendment to the floor as part of the effort to control violence in this country, gun violence.

Keep in mind that this bill also goes against illegal trafficking and straw purchases. School safety is an objective, as well as our mental health initiatives and, of course, a national criminal background check. So the important point here is that the gun violence effort has to be a comprehensive strategy. And the assault weapon ban is simply one part of it.

TAPPER: Right, but, Senator, you mentioned large-capacity magazines. Those are used according to the same Penn study in up to 25 percent of gun crimes.

It seems to me that you are, and your colleagues in the gun control effort are focusing on areas where most of the killings do not take place, as horrific as the large massacres are.

BLUMENTHAL: Well, the large massacres have rightly ripped and riveted public attention, and the reason is that they involve slaughter of innocent human beings on a mass scale, made possible by the use of military-style weapons.

That is weapons designed to kill and maim human beings. They have no real purpose or less so in hunting and recreation. Taking away other kinds of guns from people would be problematic, and there is an effort to stop the illegal trafficking of stolen guns and other forms of weapons that are the predominant source of gun violence on our streets.

TAPPER: Several Newtown family members were on "60 Minutes" last night. They talked about what was important to them. Obviously, a lot of them are in favor of stricter gun regulation, though not all of them, but they were also asked about things that mattered to them beyond gun control. I want to play one sound bite for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK BARDEN, FATHER OF NEWTOWN VICTIM: Mental health, brain health is paramount. It's just as important as everything else. It's just that at this particular time, the focus on legislation is about the gun part of the issue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: That was Mark Barden talking to "60 Minutes." How come we haven't heard much about the mental health component of all of this? When President Obama originally started talking about this, he said this had to be a holistic approach, not just gun regulations, but also mental health, also violence in the culture.

BLUMENTHAL: Well, Jake, Mark Barden, who I have had the privilege of coming to know, is absolutely right that mental health is an essential part of this effort.

I have sponsored a bill called the Mental Health First Aid initiative or act and certainly recognizing problems, detecting them, diagnosing them and then treating them when they involve particularly children in the classroom or others who may be deeply troubled as Adam Lanza was has to be a priority.

And the reason that you may not have heard all that much about them is that they are less glamorous or dramatic than assault weapons which can be easily displayed.

TAPPER: Could you support a bill with background check that's does not have any record keeping?

BLUMENTHAL: Record keeping is essential, and record keeping can be combined with confidentiality and the reassurance that people will not be prosecuted for losing those records when they have no purpose in losing them, when it may be a mistake.

There are ways to avoid either frivolous or other kinds of prosecutions that shouldn't being done. So I think record keeping can be done and must be done, but consistent with the Second Amendment and other constitutional guarantee.

The majority of the American people and in their states, including responsible gun owners, favor national background checks, a ban on illegal trafficking, strengthening school safety, and other initiatives that are critical to assuring that we stop gun violence, which has claimed the lives of more than 3,000 people since Newtown.

The president's message tonight in Connecticut, with the picture -- and a picture is often worth 1,000 words, as you know -- will be with those families who have endured that absolutely unspeakable, unimaginable grief that the whole country has experienced. At the time when elections are held, that majority will make its views known. It may be silent now, but it will be a lot less silent when election time comes.

TAPPER: All right. Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, thank you so much for joining us.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Eleven family members who lost children in the Newtown shootings will catch a ride with the president back to D.C. after his speech. They will spend the next two days lobbying senators to support gun control legislation.

A study released just minutes ago is sure to stir up even more debate over what is on your kids' lunch plate. Researchers say despite all the criticism, and there was plenty, healthier school lunches are working to fight childhood obesity. The study compared states with stricter school lunch standards vs. those that follow looser guidelines. Not only do kids with healthier lunches have healthier weights, but they also were not buying other snacks to fill up.

That's sure to get some pushback by those who say tougher guidelines deprive kids of calories and leave them feeling hungry by the end of the day. Do you remember this parody against the school lunch program that went viral last year?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): So if I have the time go to the practice and you feel like falling down, I will carry you home tonight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: In response to criticism of school lunch guidelines, Congress helped the U.S. Agriculture Department loosen some of the rules for the first year of the program by letting things such as pizza sauce count as a vegetable.

Our world lead is next. She was his political soul mate. He was the second most important man in her life. Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, their friendship spanned decades. We will look back next.

Plus, long hair, weed and free love. The '60s are in full swing on the new season of "Mad Men." My interview with some members of the critically acclaimed cast is our pop lead, and that's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: The world lead. Locked, loaded, and possibly ready to fire. North Korea could have a test missile in the air as early as Wednesday, according to the office of South Korea's president. The North today also dissolved its last vestige of cooperation with the South, pulling its workers out of an industrial park that it runs jointly with South Korea.

Now, it's easy to laugh off Kim Jong-un when he does stuff like hanging out with Dennis Rodman, and some of his launches in the past have gone the way of Wile E. Coyote and Acme.

But he would only have to get lucky once to kill Americans in the Pacific, as Guam's governor told me last Thursday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. EDDIE CALVO (R), GUAM: There is a defensive umbrella that has been set up from the Korean Peninsula all the way to the Western Pacific.

And, of course, you have heard recently about the THAAD system. That will be deployed to Guam. But the concern we have is all you need is that one lucky shot. And that one lucky shot from a North Korean missile could do a lot of damage to our island home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: This is the potential range of North Korea's missiles. They'd plunk in the water long before hitting the U.S. mainland, but American military bases in Guam, South Korea and Japan could all be targets along with the nearly 90,000 U.S. troops stationed in the region.

Many experts don't believe that the communist region would risk aiming at U.S. targets. But if it is all a bluff -- and it may very well be -- the North Koreans are certainly committing to it.

And this breaking news. More Americans are taking the threat from North Korea seriously. Just this minute, THE LEAD is releasing these brand-new CNN/ORC polls. When asked whether North Korea is an immediate threat to the U.S., 41 percent of people said yes. That's a 13-point jump from just three weeks ago, when 28 percent said yes. And for the first time, most Americans do not see a very peaceful end to all of this.

When asked whether the situation with North Korea can be resolved through economic efforts, 51 percent said no. Only 46 percent said yes.

She was known as England's Iron Lady, a nickname she earned through her in indomitable will and her uncompromising style. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is dead at the age of 87. She suffered a stroke after years of ailing health.

Thatcher's policies came to define life in Great Britain in the 1980s. She found a kindred spirit in former President Ronald Reagan, the keepers of the special relationship between Britain and the U.S. And together they became the architects of a golden age of conservatism.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER (voice-over): He called her the best man in England. She called will him the second most important man in my life. Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, the former movie star and the grocer's daughter, the odd couple who formed one of the most important political marriages of the 20th century.

MARGARET THATCHER, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Mr. President, Henry David Thoreau once said that it takes two to speak the truth, one to speak and another to hear. Well, sometimes, one of us has spoken and sometimes the other. But, together, Mr. President, I would like to think that we have spoken the truth.

TAPPER (voice-over): Thatcher's words in 1981 when she was President Reagan's first foreign guest to the White House. But the mutual admiration began long before that, when Thatcher's late husband Dennis Thatcher caught a speech by Reagan years before. In 1975, Thatcher welcomed Reagan to London after she was elected head of the Conservative Party. In 1980, when Reagan was picking his vice presidential nominee, he wrote in a letter to a supporter, quote, "I have thought about the idea of a woman for vice president, but I have to tell you, polls we've taken indicate that the people aren't quite ready for that. I don't understand it because I'm a big fan of Margaret Thatcher."

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: She has been a staunch ally, my political soul mate, a great visionary, and a dear, dear friend.

TAPPER: Both were resolute anti-communists who rose to power in the heart of the Cold War. Both were beacons of the political right, whose economic policies cause division even today, what Americans call Reaganomics -- fewer regulations, smaller government, lower taxes -- was virtually synonymous with another word among the Brits, Thatcherism.

GEOFFREY SMITH, AUTHOR, "THATCHER & REAGAN": It was (INAUDIBLE) ideologically and warmer personally than any relationship between any other British Prime minister and any other American president.

TAPPER: Jeffrey Smith who wrote a joint biography on Thatcher and Reagan recalls that it was Thatcher who convinced Reagan that Mikhail Gorbachev was a Soviet leader with whom they could finally do business.

SMITH: She phoned Reagan and said, I have just met this new leader of Soviet Union. He is unlike any other leader of the Soviet Union.

TAPPER: Still, Thatcher ended up sitting next to Gorbachev at Reagan's funeral in 2004. By then, she was suffering health problems of her own, but she would not be denied the chance to eulogize her friend and counterpart on videotape.

THATCHER: We have lost a great president, a great American and a great man, and I have lost a dear friend.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Incidentally, WikiLeaks released 1.7 million records from the 1970s today and among them is a purported 1975 cable from the U.S. State Department that describes Margaret Thatcher this way, quote, "She has a quick if not profound mind and works hard to master the most complicated brief. She fights her corner with skill and toughness but can be flexible when pressed. In dealing with the media or with subordinates, she tends to be crisp and a trifle patronizing. With colleagues, she's an honest and straightforward if not excessively considerate of their vanities."

When asked about it today, the State Department declined to authenticate that cable. For more on Margaret Thatcher, Nancy Reagan will be a guest with Anderson Cooper on "A.C. 360" tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

While the world knows Thatcher for her public persona, we're left wondering what she was like in private life. And for that, we're lucky enough to be joined today by Nile Gardiner. He's director of the Heritage Foundation Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom. And he served as an aide to Margaret Thatcher from 2000 to 2002. You helped her write her book "Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World."

Nile, thanks for being here.

NILE GARDINER, DIR., MARGARET THATCHER CENTER FOR FREEDOM: My pleasure.

TAPPER: We are hearing all these wonderful things about her and her legacy, and also things about -- things in her legacy that aren't necessarily the greatest thing in the world, that don't stand up.

But you actually knew her. Tell me about the last time you saw her and what you saw there that those of us who didn't know her might find surprising.

GARDINER: Well, actually, the last time I saw Lady Thatcher was in December in London at her house in Belgravia, near Victoria Station. She was actually very cheerful. She was in a remarkably good, cheerful mood.

She was very tranquil, very, very content. At the age of 87, no doubt she was looking back upon an extremely successful career, the most successful British politician of the 20th century. And I have to say that the Margaret Thatcher -- despite the public persona --

TAPPER: Very imperious and --

GARDINER: Called the Iron Lady.

TAPPER: Yes.

GARDINER: In person, she was extremely warmhearted, very, very compassionate, someone who enjoyed making people laugh as well, actually.

TAPPER: Really? Did she have a good sense of humor?

GARDINER: She had a very good sense of humor. In fact, a lot of her best speeches in the House of Commons are the speeches where she tore into her opponents but resorting in roars of laughter from the assembled MPs. But this is certainly a very, very harsh environment, the House of Commons, but she succeeded in winning over not only her own side but, of course, many on the other side of the political aisle as well who admired her political skill and tenacity and above all her conviction.

TAPPER: And how much did she keep up with what was going on here in the U.S.?

GARDINER: She's always maintained a very close interest in U.S. affairs. When I saw her in December, she had been keeping an eye on the U.S. elections. And the United States has no greater supporter than Margaret Thatcher. TAPPER: What did she think? Was she happy with how we're doing? Was she concerned? What was her take on us?

GARDINER: I think she certainly had a concern about U.S. decline. In her view, the United States must lead on the world stage. Without American leadership, the world is a far more dangerous place, and she was very, very concerned that the United States, because of the economic situation, because of cuts in defense spending, that the United States would not be able to live up to that global role.

So she was someone who had a huge amount of faith in the American spirit, in the spirit of this great nation, and her wish was that the United States would continue leading on the world stage.

TAPPER: Nile, thank you so much. And our deepest condolences on the loss of your friend.

GARDINER: Thank you very much.

TAPPER: Still ahead, our political panel joins. They're cooling their heels in the green room. Michael, Amy, Maria, show of hands for anybody who thought that we would be talking about a Clinton not named Hillary running for office in 2016? Well, we'll talk about that, coming up, because the former first daughter told NBC she's not ruling out a future run. That's coming up in our "Politics Lead".

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: "The Money Lead". Our obsession with text messaging could soon help one start-up close a billion-dollar deal with Google. According to the tech site Digital Trends, that's the current offer to buy the WhatsApp mobile messaging service. The app lets users send text messages for free across different smartphone platforms. No comments so far from Google or WhatsApp on the rumored deal.

Americans will no longer corner the market on sending creepy Facebook messages to strangers. The social media site is going global with a trial program that lets users send direct messages outside of their network of friends and family. The program got started in the U.S. last year but is now expanding to 40 countries around the world.

The price for sending a message depends on the popularity of the recipient. But users can only receive one paid message per week, so I suppose that's bad news for all those Nigerian princes out there.

#tag you're it. What service would you happily pay Facebook for? Me, I'd pay, say, $100 to block all those random postings challenging me with quizzes. Come up with the name of a band that doesn't include the letter "B." You know what? That's exactly not that difficult, The Who, OK? The Clash, the Stones. Enough. No more stupid quizzes.

What would you pay to have Facebook do? Tweet your ideas to @TheLeadCNN, use #facebookgetspaid.

The politics of pain. Raw emotion is front and center as President Obama brings Newtown families to Washington, but will that be enough to make any real changes to gun laws? That's our political lead, and that's coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

"The Politics Lead": They toured Havana last week. But only now are they starting to feel the heat. Lawmakers are slamming Jay-Z and Beyonce for their vacation to Cuba and demanding to know who pulled the strings for the power couple. The bigger issue, does it still make sense to have a ban on travel to Cuba?

"The Buried Lead": A reporter facing jail time for protecting her sources. And somehow, that's going underreported. Why is this being ignored? And what is at stake?

And "The Pop Culture Lead": The days of three martini lunches and ash trays in the office are back. Everyone is talking about the return of "Mad Men." After last night's premiere, the cast takes us behind the scenes.

"The Politics Lead": what better way to say I love you than violating the embargo with Cuba? Rapper Jay-Z and his wife Beyonce spent their fifth wedding anniversary in Havana. Now they are facing a backlash for breaching the travel ban. Wait a second. They didn't take that boat to Havana.

Nobody, not even the pop power couple and not the White House is answering the question what type of trouble they might be in. I'm now going to bring in our special correspondent on the Jay-Z/Beyonce beat, Erin McPike. What's going on? What's the deal with this dust-up?

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are a couple of Republicans in Congress from South Florida -- very anti-Castro area -- and they're upset because the pictures of Jay-Z and Beyonce in Cuba make it look like they were vacationing, which U.S. law strictly prohibits tourism in Cuba.

So, the thing they might have done is obtain a license from the Treasury Department, which allows you to go on trips for cultural exchange. Now, if you violate that, you can be fined about $65,000, which to them might be a drop in the bucket, but

TAPPER; That's in the couch. That's behind the seats of the couch at the Beyonce house. I know. I've been there.

I have not been there. I'm just joking. Go on, go on.

MCPIKE: Well, they just haven't answered. The White House directed reporters to treasury today. Treasury is saying that they don't comment on individual cases. And CNN has reached out to representatives for Jay-Z and Beyonce, and they're not saying anything, either.

TAPPER: But this has become something of a skirmish because of people who are upset with them being here. Then also, Senator Jeff Flake, Republican from Arizona, he tweeted that he thought it was fine. He doesn't think there should be a ban at all. So in a way, this has become a way of discussing a much bigger, more important issue.

MCPIKE: Not just him. Kathy Castor, a Democratic Congresswoman from Tampa told "The Tampa Bay Times" today that after she got back from a trip on Saturday that she thinks the travel ban should be lifted, too.

But Marco Rubio, very influential Republican senator from Florida does not think so. The Obama administration loosened some restrictions on Cuba a few years ago. He took to the Senate floor and made some very ascorbic remarks about that. So that's still an issue.

TAPPER: Very important. I mean, it is legitimately, even though it's silly because of the pop stars. Still, travel to Cuba an interesting issue. Thank you very much, Erin McPike.

Ladies and gentlemen, there's a new head of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Senate confirmed Mary Jo White to the position today. White is a former federal prosecutor. Her new gig will include policing Wall Street and keeping financial markets honest. That just happened this afternoon.

It an intersection point between politics and unfathomable emotion. In just a few hours, President Obama will give a speech on gun control in Connecticut. About an hour's drive from the scene of the Newtown massacre. And afterwards, a group of parents who lost children in that horrific shooting will climb aboard Air Force One and head to Washington to lobby lawmakers on gun control.

We'll now talk to our political panel about this and some other issues. Michael Warren is a reporter for "The Weekly Standard." Amy Walter is national editor for The Cook Political Report. And CNN contributor and Democratic strategist Maria Cardona is also here.

So, Michael, is this in your view the president playing politics with a tragedy?

MICHAEL WARREN, REPORTER, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Well, he's got to walk a fine line here because the real issue of what is actually going to come out of Congress with regard to gun control is pretty narrow. It's universal background checks.

And the problem here for the president is that universal background checks might not have stopped what happened in Newtown. So, there seems to be a disconnect from the policy that he's proposing or that he's pushing that will actually come from this, and sort of the story or the narrative that he's trying to tell that, listen, we've got to pass this for the sake of what happened in Newtown. And people may not react to that if they find that disconnect --

TAPPER: Because there is a disconnect. Because what would have potentially stopped Newtown -- at least this shooter with these weapons -- is a ban on high-capacity magazines and a ban on certain times of semiautomatic rifles. AMY WALTER, NATIONAL EDITOR, THE COOK POLITICAL REPORT: But the bigger issue in the Senate right now is the filibuster, and that there might not actually be a vote on anything, even on something that may not actually address this issue. And that's a good point.

So it seems as if what the president is trying to do more than anything is to say to Republicans, you guys, just let this happen. Let this vote occur. We've already seen the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, say the same thing. The president taking a much more emotional push to do this.

MARIA CARDONA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: And while I think that the president certainly has to walk a fine line and there will absolutely be his critics, as there always are, this is something the president has talked about since the day that Newtown happened. He has kind of acted as the consoler-in-chief, if you will.

And if from day one the only thing he had talked about were background checks, then I think you're right, that disconnect would be there. But from the very beginning he's talked about want all of these things. The comprehensive piece. The assault weapons, the magazine clips, the gun trafficking.

So he has pushed all of those big ideas, understanding that the politics are a lot more complicated than that, and understanding that at the end of the day, what he will get is going to be a lot smaller than what he's advocated for. But it doesn't take away from his showing Republicans and showing the American people that he is still absolutely behind this issue and supporting every change that we can get.

TAPPER: And viewers right now should know they're watching live pictures of President Obama arriving in Hartford, Connecticut. Being greeted by dignitaries there, public officials for the speech he will give later this evening.

Michael, is there any risk for Republicans to filibuster? I mean, you say there's no direct relationship, but polling on universal background checks, regardless of the relationship to the Newtown shooting, polling is like 90 percent. Majority even of gun owners and Republicans, I believe. Is there a risk for Republicans to oppose that, to stand in the way of it?

WARREN: I think there is if they don't explain what the purpose of this filibuster is, which is -- there's actually debate about what kind of universal background checks the federal government is going to actually require. Are they going to require records of gun sales? How deep are those records going to go?

And the purpose of the filibuster, you can believe whether the Republicans want to do this, but the purpose of the filibuster would be to actually have a national debate about how far these universal background checks ought to go. If they make that case that's why they're doing this, it could be a winner, but it's a risk.

TAPPER: Amy? WALTER: I think in places -- suburban America and others where we know that Republicans really need to make some inroads among women voters --

TAPPER: (INAUDIBLE) Ohio, Philadelphia.

WALTER: Exactly. These are the kind of issues that really cut that way.

Now, the reality, though, today is that it's still economy and jobs are on the top of most people's minds, most voters' minds much. But as we move into 2014 and 2016, if you are a candidate that's up for reelection, I would expect this may come up.

TAPPER: I have to end it right there. I'm sorry. We'll have a lot more on this absolutely.

Did you see "Mad Men" last night? Don't worry, I won't give away the secrets of the season premiere of the smash cable hit. But I'll take you on a behind-the-scenes tour with the cast. That's our Pop Lead, and that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: The Pop Culture Lead. After a 10-month break, how did it feel to have Don Draper back in your living room? Last night's premiere of "Mad Men" was supposed to temper our obsession for the highs and lows of life at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, but the methodical pace of the season opener likely left you longing for more.

But what is it about these characters that keep so many Americans captivated week after week, season after season? I went straight to some of the cast members for answers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER (on camera): So it must be cool reporting to work at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.

JAY FERGUSON, ACTOR: It's not a bummer.

TAPPER (voice-over): Just another day at the office for actors Aaron Staton, Ben Feldman and Jay Ferguson. The trio play Ken Cosgrove, Michael Ginsberg and Stan Rizzo on the hit AMC show "Mad Men." Their characters are hustling at an ad agency in the 1960s in the middle of social upheaval.

Until last night, the hit show had been off the air for 10 months. Plot twists and spoilers regarded like state secrets during our visit.

TAPPER (on camera): Even by having those two with your things on your faces, these are spoilers. We know now that your characters will have this facial hair --

AARON STATON, ACTOR: Perhaps. TAPPER: -- unless you grew it over the weekend.

(voice-over): The new looks are part of the new direction of the show and a deeper dive into '60s culture.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINA HENDRICKS, ACTRESS: I don't know if it's the photographers or the writers, but it really smells like reefer in here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER (on camera): I'm just wondering what you're actually smoking on set.

FERGUSON: It is an herbal blend of disgusting, terrible things.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People will do anything to alleviate their anxiety.

TAPPER (voice-over): As season six kicked off last night, the show took a dark twist. The lead character, ad man Don Draper, continued his long search for happiness.

FERGUSON: This is where the magic happens.

TAPPER: So to explore this existential quest, we sat in the creative lounge.

(on camera): What is "Mad Men" about?

STATON: It's a group of people trying to find happiness by creating it for themselves. Sometimes it's really funny to watch people fail at trying to create happiness because you see it unfold, and you're like no, no, no, that's not going to make you happy.

BEN FELDMAN, ACTOR: The 60s were a time when America was kind of reevaluating who they were and what their identity was, what our identity was. And how we fit into things and what we believed. And I think that says a lot about what's happening to the characters in the show, specifically Don Draper, I guess.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FERGUSON: I'm going to go grab some coffee. You want some?

ELISABETH MOSS, ACTRESS: Very funny.

FERGUSON: Hey, I'm not hanging up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FERGUSON: Everybody is striving for success, happiness, love. Everybody gets their heart broken. People die. You take a place like this, and you shove all these crazy characters into it, and they've all got to work together. And some socialize, some don't. Some like each other, some don't. It's kind of the wheels that the show spins on, I think.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Last night's two-hour premiere drew more than 3 million viewers, me among them. Our thanks to the cast for showing us around.

The sequel to the blockbuster fantasy film Avatar is taking on a Titanic twist, so to speak. It's been revealed some parts of the movie will be shot 36,000 feet below sea level. It's no secret that director James Cameron has a fascination with aquatic adventures. After all, this is the guy who went on a record-setting dive just for fun. A producer for "Avatar 2" says the movie will be a combination of special effects and actual footage from the bottom of the ocean floor.

She endeared herself to generation to generation with her bright smile, bubbly personality and undeniabale talent. Today, we learned of the passing of one of Disney's original triple threats, Annette Funicello.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

ANNOUNCER: Mousketeers roll call, count off now.

ANNETTE FUNICELLO, FORMER MOUSKETEER: (INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Funicello got her start as one of the original Mousketeers back in the 1950s. She went on to star in the popular beach party films alongside Frankie Avalon. The Walt Disney Company today said she lost a 25-year battle today with multiple sclerosis. Funicello was 70 years old.

And now Wolf Blitzer is here with a preview of THE SITUATION. Wolf, welcome back to Washington. I know you were in New York. Now, I know also you're good friends with Ben Feldman, the nice young gentleman from "Mad Men."

WOLF BLTIZER, HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": You saw it last night. It's great. Don Draper. He's a --

TAPPER: He's a dark fellow.

BLITZER: Very dark. You look a little bit like Don Draper. Do people tell you that?

TAPPER: No one thinks that.

BLITZER: No one has ever told you that?

TAPPER: No one -

BLITZER: I think we should do a split screen, see if Don Draper and Jake Tapper -

TAPPER: Before and after?

BLITZER: He has a little thing.

TAPPER: This is the only thing maybe.

BLITZER: That looks like a Don Draper move. When you meet with your staff --

TAPPER: You're like the Roger Sterling. This is exactly it right here.

BLITZER: Martinis at lunch.

TAPPER: I get it. No, I'm fine.

BLITZER: Smoke a cigarette. We're talking about North Korea. We got big stuff coming up. There's a crisis going on with North Korea. This week could be pretty important. The North Koreans telling all these foreign diplomats in Pyongyang get out by Wednesday. Otherwise, we can't guarantee your safety. We'll go in depth on that, also the president getting ready to speak on guns.

TAPPER: All right, thank you, Wolf Blitzer.

Snitch or go to prison? That's the option that one reporter is facing after refusing to give up a confidential source. Is the judge criminalizing good journalism? Our "Buried Lead" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: It's time for our "Buried Lead." That's what we call stories we don't think are getting enough attention. Journalism 101, you don't give up a source. But Jonna Winter, an investigative journalist for Fox News, is facing hard time for refusing to do just that.

Here's the background. In July 2012 anonymous law enforcement sources told Jonna Winter that before he went on a shooting spree Aurora movie theatre shooter James Holmes gave his psychiatrist a notebook detailing how he planned to, quote, "kill people."

This was a huge scoop and clearly of public interest. It raised key questions. Did the system fail the victims of the Aurora shooting? What exactly happen? Winter's scoop helped provide a check on those in power, who it will not surprise you, do not always like to talk about ways in which the system and they failed.

In fact, last Thursday court documents revealed that more than a month before the attack the same psychiatrist had told campus police that Holmes was homicidal. Yet instead of a focus on how the system failed we're here now talking about whether Winter should go to jail for reporting on Holmes' journal, which was found in a mail room after the attack. Why? It's because Holmes' lawyers say whoever leaked the information to Winter violated a gag rule and they want her to say who it was. Now, this has nothing to do with whether Holmes should go to jail or be sentenced to death or whether he's insane or anything having to do with the sick and evil mind that wreaked havoc on the 12 poor souls who were killed in the Aurora shooting.

But a Colorado judge has said he could rule this Wednesday whether Winter has to reveal her source or face six months in prison. So why should you care about this? Because Jonna was doing her job so you can judge how well the judicial and mental health and other systems are working.

I'm now joined by Matthew Cooper from the "National Journal." He knows a lot about this. He faced similar pressure to reveal his source during the Valerie Plame Wilson scandal, God, so many years ago.

You were working at "Time" magazine, just to remind people and you refused to give up your source, Karl Rove, after he led you to believe he was a covert agent for the CIA. You were just doing your job. Where is the public outrage about this type of thing? Does the public not understand or see us as a check on people in power?

MATTHEW COOPER, "NATIONAL JOURNAL": Well, I think, as you know, Jake, the media is not always the most popular institution in America, and I think people worry about other things, other than whether reporters are getting along with their work.

But the problem is, if people are going to find out stuff, know what their politicians are doing, what other institutions are doing, a lot of that depends on journalists using confidential sources. If they can't protect those sources, they can't do their job.

TAPPER: And I understand that there are some exceptions, for instance, you wouldn't want a reporter reporting recklessly, you know, the nuclear codes or something like that that could harm national security.

COOPER: Exactly.

TAPPER: But that wasn't the case with you, and it's not the case with this woman Jonna Winter. She had a legitimate scoop.

COOPER: No, it sure wasn't. I mean, what she was violating was not some troop movements in the night or things that would risk the lives of people. She was trying to expose how those people in Aurora got killed. She violated a gag order and unless she ponies up her source, she does face the possibility of jail as I did.

TAPPER: I spoke to a friend of hers. The friend says that she is ready to go to jail if need be, does not want to but will not give up her sources. You were facing a potential 18 months in prison. She's facing potentially six months in prison. What is she feeling right now? COOPER: Well, there's a lot of anxiety, a lot of antacids getting consumed. I don't even like bad hotels. So the idea of going to prison was not a happy thought, but it is something you're prepared to do because it's an important principle.

You realize that if you give up your source, it's going to make other potential whistle-blowers stay mum. I'm sure she's going through a lot of anxiety and hopefully at the last minute there will be a way to sort of deal with this with honor for all sides because it is crazy situation.

TAPPER: And then, lastly, what's at stake here. What do people need to understand? People like her, if it weren't for her, who knows if we would even know that the Aurora shooter had -- that there had been warnings that had been missed, that somehow the system had failed. What is at stake if she is thrown in prison?

COOPER: Well, I think what's at stake is people getting to know stuff. You know, it's not about us, the journalists, it's about the public. You wouldn't have known about a lot of the Watergate scandal. You wouldn't have known a lot about corporate malfeasance and other stuff unless journalists are able to use and protect confidential sources.

TAPPER: Is there anything you want to say to her if she's watching right now?

COOPER: I would say stay strong, have a good lawyer, and protect your source and see if reason will come to prevail in the end, as it did in my case.

TAPPER: Thank heaven for that, Matthew Cooper. Thanks so much for your time.

COOPER: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: NASA playing space cowboys. The agency is planning to lasso an asteroid and park it near the moon. Senator Bill Nelson of Florida who is a former astronaut and chairman of the Senate Science and Space Subcommittee, says $100 million of start-up money will be included in President Obama's budget, which comes out this week.

That will be used to capture a 500-ton, 25-foot asteroid in 2019. That's the goal anyway with a space capsule. That's how they want to do it and they want to put astronauts on the rock. It's also considered a key stepping stone to Mars and its moons.

For anyone who has ever wished chocolate was a diet food, well, some good news. You're halfway there. Researchers from the University of Warrick say they've found a way to cut the fat in chocolate in half by injecting it with fruit juice.

Most dark chocolate has about 13 grams of fat. The texture of this healthier chocolate is supposedly the same and so is the taste. Researchers hope the food industry will follow their lead to create healthier chocolate treats. Next in our "Sports Lead," just a day with the guys for the former secretary of state. Condoleezza Rice hits the links sporting a look most men would kill for.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: And our "Sports Lead," by the sound of it, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie never wants ex-Rutgers Coach Mike Rice near another student athlete ever again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: What parent would let this animal back into their living room to try to recruit their son after this video?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: I wish Governor Christie wouldn't mince words. That was Chris Christie commenting on a video that showed Rice hurling basketballs and homophobic slurs. Christie also defended the university president saying the right people were removed from their jobs and now it's time to move on. Rutgers president, Robert Barchi, said he didn't see the video until hours after it went viral even though the university knew about it months ago.

Suck in the guts, guys, there's a lady in the house. It's Masters week and for the first time former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was spotted in her green jacket at Augusta National.

Rice sported the green yesterday as she played around with Phil Nicholson and chatted at other golfers. Back in August, Rice and South Carolina businesswoman Darla Moore became the first female members in the club's 80-year history. Welcome to the 21st century.

Hash tag you're it. We asked you earlier what services you would pay Facebook for. At Lol George tweeted I'd pay to have Facebook draw snidely whiplash-like mustaches on kid pics of over sharing helicopter parents.

And at cjmcdonald tweeted, set a limit of ten grainy cell phone cam portraits per user. They'd lose half their members overnight.

That's all the time we have and now I put you in the able hands of Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM" -- Mr. Blitzer.

BLITZER: Jake, thanks very much.