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Sanford Versus Colbert-Busch; Clarence Thomas Speaks Out; Wait The Trailers Get Awards Too?

Aired May 6, 2013 - 16:30   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

The politics lead: he had a sex scandal while in office, was virtually rejected by his own party and recently had a debate with a cardboard cutout of Nancy Pelosi. But if you believe the polls, former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford might just be headed back to Congress.

Plus, Justice Clarence Thomas was once known for a seven-year streak on the bench where he did not utter a single word. But you know what they say, still waters run deep. Hear his not-so-subtle swipe at the media.

And the Pop Culture Lead: they were once considered primetime for bathroom breaks. How is it that movie trailers have emerged as Hollywood's next big thing?

The Money Lead, the one thing that makes Internet shopping so attractive, other than avoiding fights over parking spots, could soon be yanked away by the long arm of Uncle Sam. Within hours, the Senate is expected to approve an online sales tax. But it would still have to clear a big hurdle in the Republican-led House. Until now, online shoppers could typically enjoy tax-free shopping since only businesses with a physical store were required to collect sales tax.

That's not the only online freebie that could soon bite the dust. YouTube may have found a way to put a price tag on something as delightful as watching a guy freak out over a double rainbow. The Web site is reportedly getting ready to launch new premium channels to compete with services like Hulu and Netflix. So brace yourself, fans of those cute kitty videos: soon you might be as to pay to play.


(voice-over): When YouTube first hit the Internet back in 2005, who could have predicted it would become the website where pop culture icons are born? And reborn? Without YouTube we may never have been swept away by the boyish charm of Justin Bieber, discovered the cuter side of cannibalism.



TAPPER: Or laughed, albeit somewhat shamefully, when this happened.

The biggest price we've had to pay thus far for having a world of content at our fingertips is finding the patience to sit through those 30-second ads.

But that may all be about to change. According to a report in the Financial Times, the site that gave us our favorite priceless moments could soon launch a pay-per-view model for some of its channels. As soon be launched as early as this week.

Users would have to fork over as little as $1.99 a month to subscribe. Industry analysts say if it happens, it would open the door for YouTube to offer movie rentals or video-on-demand services. And eventually, it could become the go-to site for watching live sporting events.

We reached out to YouTube for a comment on whether the pay-per-play model is just around the corner, and the company responded with a statement - "We have nothing to announce at this time, but we're looking into creating a subscription platform that could bring even more great content to YouTube for our users to enjoy and provide our partners with another vehicle to generate revenue from their content, beyond the rental and add-supported models we offer." Translation -- soak in all the keyboard cats you can over the next few days. Pretty soon, getting that feline fix on YouTube could cost you.


TAPPER: Joining us now with more insight on how YouTube's pay-per-view system might work is Rocco Pandola, director of social media for TheStreet.

Rocco, what types of videos would fall under this new subscription plan? Not everything, right?

ROCCO PANDOLA, DIRECTOR OF SOCIAL MEDIA, THESTREET.COM: No, I think the cat videos, as popular as they are, probably will be safe for a while. In and of itself, this is not a big deal. It's going to start small, probably just involve a small number of YouTube channels at the beginning.

But in terms of what it means for consumption of video in the industry, online and off, I think this is a really big deal because it could grow and it could put YouTube in a position to start saying, we're going to compete stronger with Netflix and Amazon and we're going to become like they'll aim to be, another cable channel.

TAPPER: Should YouTube users - and I'm one of them - should we worry that eventually, we'll have to pay to subscribe to, let me just say hypothetically, Taylor Swift's music channel?

PANDOLA: In some respects, look at it from Taylor Swift's point of view, the label's point of view, YouTube's point of view. Why shouldn't you have to? There are people I've never heard of before that have millions of subscribers to their YouTube channel. And YouTube is saying, maybe we'll give you the opportunity to charge a subscription fee and make a little bit more money off your content in addition to the ad-based revenue that you're currently able to enjoy.

So, I'm not surprised that this is happening. This is really the trend where if you enjoy content, down the line, you're going to pick and choose a la carte what you want to pay for. And it might be music from Taylor Swift, might be sporting events, it might just be reruns of old television shows.

The big kicker jeer for me is this opens the door for YouTube to get some of these deals that Netflix, for example, can't get. Netflix charges $8 a month. It's all-you-can-eat programming. So, I watched the first two seasons of Louie CK, for example, the FX show on Netflix and I was like, wow, great show. I want to see season three. So, I fired up Netflix, searched for it, they don't have it. I had to go to Voodoo, which is Wal-Mart's streaming service, and pay 30 bucks for the high-definition season of Louie CK.

Why wasn't it on Netflix? Because the people that own that content don't want you to watch every episode in a binge for $8 on Netflix. They want to get more out of their premium content. They don't want to dilute the premium nature of that content. So on demand, pay-per- play, choose what you want to play for. That's the model. I think that's something that YouTube is knocking down the doors on right now.

TAPPER: That's fascinating. You think companies like Netflix and Hulu that we've talked about quite a bit, companies that provide this content but are also creating their own original content, do you think they see what YouTube is doing as a threat?

PANDOLA: Well, they may not say it publicly, but I think they definitely do. The interesting thing about Netflix, they're going to have a lot of trouble trying to raise prices without being very unique and cute about it because of the what happened just a couple of years ago when they tried to do that and split off the DVD service.

They're paying attention, no doubt. You cannot go with an all-you- can-eat mantra unless you become the HBO of original programming, and you have so many original hits that people just absolutely have to subscribe to your service. If you're not in that position, and really few networks and few channels are, then, yes, you're going to have to start saying, we have to diversify and offer a bunch of different options for people to view content through our platform or the platform is going to die.

YouTube realizes this. They're going to open it up. And listen, it's also good from a company standpoint. YouTube generates nearly 100 percent of its revenue through advertising. Now they're saying, hey, let's start toying with some other revenue streams as they start to bring all their different platforms, Google Plus, Google Hangout, YouTube, into a larger ecosystem that honestly, they want to have take over the world.

TAPPER: And Rocco, you'll be happy to hear, I finally did the Netflix thing and started watching House of Cards. It's pretty good, it's pretty good, I have to say.

PANDOLA: Yes! It's not bad. But can they do it? Sopranos, Sex and the City, The Wire, Veep, you know all these things? Can they do it over and over again?

TAPPER: They're not there yet. Coming up - thank you, Rocco. Appreciate it.

Coming up, apparently lying, admitting to an affair and getting caught trespassing on your ex-wife's property -- allegedly -- doesn't mean you're out of the running for a House seat in South Carolina. Can Mark Sanford actually pull off a win? Our Political Lead is next.


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

It's a race with a little bit of everything -- mistresses, celebrity brothers, Bill Clinton comparisons and, of course, cardboard cutouts of Nancy Pelosi. South Carolina's special election battle between Mark Sanford and Elizabeth Colbert-Busch is on the mind of political junkies everywhere. With voters heading to the polls Tuesday, Democrats are slamming the ex-governor. This new mailer from the House Majority PAC is just the latest attack launched on Sanford. The tag line, "Mark Sanford already embarrassed us once, don't let him do it again." Subtle. That's a subtle ad.

Here to talk about the race, former Romney campaign adviser Kevin Madden, CNN political analyst Donna Brazile and USA Today's Washington bureau chief Susan Page.

So, The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza write this morning that Sanford is so susceptible to providing great fodder for Democrats that it might be actually in a world for the Democrats are pursuing - be better for him to win tomorrow because then he's around. And no matter what happens, probably Colbert in that Republican seat can't last much longer because there will be another election in November.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLTICAL ANALYST: This is a ruby-red district, and in ordinary times, there's no question that Governor Sanford would win this in a nanosecond. But it's a close race because many of his personal troubles.

TAPPER: Entirely because of his personal troubles. I mean, there's no other reason.

BRAZILE: His redemption tour might end tomorrow. Then he can get back on the Appalachian Trail.

But I do believe that Colbert-Busch is a different kind of Democrat. She's an independent Democrat. She's someone that resonates in the district. This might be a good opportunity to, for once, and for all to show the Democrats can win red districts. But if he wins, there's no question, we'll have a lot of late-night conversations and some early morning coffees about Mark Sanford back in the House of Representatives. TAPPER: He might win, Kevin.

KEVIN MADDEN, FORMER ROMNEY SENIOR ADVISER: Very much so. He has a good chance. I think when this race first started where it was very competitive, I said the biggest problem that Sanford would have is that if he made this a redemption tour. If he made this a campaign about him. And he struggled when he did do that. And I think he's flourished when he made this campaign more about the anxieties that many of these voters have about what's going on in Washington and some of the things they see going on in Washington. Namely spending and Obamacare. Since he's focused on that, the trend line has been unmistakable and going in his direction. And as we know, when we read polls, that's the most important line, the poll numbers, where is the trend line? Right now, he always has the momentum. And you always want to be the candidate with the momentum in the end.

TAPPER: What do you think, Susan?

SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: You can tell the Democrats think they're going to lose this because they're starting to describe why it is really a good thing if they do. You've got Sanford as the face of the Republican Party. And you also do not have to defend a weak Democratic candidate in a Republican district in two years. That may be true, but I think that tells you where the Democrats think this race is.

TAPPER: Is this one of these races, though, that it's difficult to poll, that people might say something to pollsters and secretly -- it could work either way, I guess, with somebody like Sanford, who has this tortured history. I mean, obviously the fact that Colbert-Busch is female probably helps in this district because she wants to win women voters.

PAGE: Sadly the polls are sometimes wrong.

TAPPER: Right.

PAGE: Stunningly, voters wait and vote and they don't always tell the pollsters the right thing. Or the poll is sometimes flawed. So, I don't think this is a race that it's safe to call one way or the other. But as you say, if you look at the same poll in the PPP, you see a ten-point swing, I guess, in his direction in a couple of weeks. That's pretty significant.

MADDEN: And that's why in a race that shouldn't be this close, there was a good group of people that parked themselves in undecided for a while because they believed the candidate that probably should win was a bit flawed and they've taken their time making this decision. But clearly it looks like they're breaking back towards the more traditional demographics of that district.

TAPPER: I want to change topics a second that is because Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is not exactly known for chatting a lot. He broke his silence on the bench not long ago, back in January and talked to a Duquesne University forum last month. It's really quite interesting just to hear him talk. Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ever expect to see an African-American president during your lifetime? Is that something you thought would happen?

JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS, SUPREME COURT: Yes. Yes, I've always thought there would be black coaches, black heads of universities. Maybe, again, as I said, I'm naive, but I knew it would have to be a black president who was approved by the elites, by the media. Anybody they didn't agree with, they would take apart.


TAPPER: He's still angry.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, got a grudge, a little bitter.

TAPPER: You think so?

BRAZILE: Yes. Look, I agree with Clarence Thomas on one hand. I never thought I would see an African-American president in my lifetime. We're both southerners. But on the other hand, there was talk at one point about Colin Powell possible running, Condoleezza Rice. And clearly Reverend Jesse Jackson paved the way in many ways along with Sherlie Chism for us to have this moment.

African-American voter registration shot up over the last three decades, but you know, Clarence Thomas is a sort of unique individual. He has a position in history as well as the second African-American to serve on the United States Supreme Court. Let's hope that he's not the last African-American to serve on the court.

TAPPER: I don't think he will be.

MADDEN: Look, he was pretty personal there. I think in the sense that he voices a lot of what is a frustration that many conservatives have, which is that someone like Barack Obama when he was coming up, because he was seen as -- he was painted by the liberal media as more of a moderate, as more of a unifier whereas conservatives like him have been painted as divisive. That's the frustration coming out. But when you finally do talk, you build up so much anticipation, that every single statement he makes is itemized and dissected.

TAPPER: Susan.

SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREA CHIEF, "USA TODAY": But if Clarence Thomas thinks the media's preferred candidate always wins elections, not really the case. There has been any number of candidates the media has not been a big fan of that might have won. We might see one tomorrow in South Carolina. Certainly Governor Sanford can't feel the media has been friendly to him.

TAPPER: My neighbor's here, Wolf Blitzer. "THE SITUATION ROOM" is right next door and Mr. Blitzer pops in every now and then. WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN'S "THE SITUATION ROOM": Excellent team over here.

TAPPER: I got them first.

BLITZER: You know what played golf today?

TAPPER: No, I don't.

BLITZER: The president of the United States.

TAPPER: President Obama played golf?

BLITZER: The charm offensive on the golf course, Senator Bob Corker among those he was playing with. Guess who's going to be in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

TAPPER: Bob Corker.

BLITZER: Not the president.

TAPPER: Bob Corker?

BLITZER: Bob Corker.

TAPPER: That's pretty good.

BLITZER: He might be the president in his own situation room, but my "SITUATION ROOM," Bob Corker is coming over from the golf course. We're going to talk about among other things. He is pretty outraged, a lot of people are. The Obama administration is still providing bags of cash, millions and millions of dollars to Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan, millions of dollars --

TAPPER: Corker's mad about that?

BLITZER: He's very mad.

TAPPER: You know, the golf thing makes sense. I always wondered he plays golf at least twice a week. Why doesn't he have Republicans --

BLITZER: Playing golf with him.


BLITZER: Saxby Chambliss has played golf with him too.

TAPPER: Anyway, let me thank you, Wolf Blitzer. Look forward to that on "THE SITUATION ROOM." Kevin Madden, Donna Brazile, Susan Page, thank you.

We all know those Hollywood types like to pat themselves on the back with award show after award show, but one for movie ads? Yes, the Golden Trailer Awards. That's our "Pop Lead" next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) TAPPER: The "Pop Culture Lead," it's part of the movie going experience, one that many of us see as an opportunity to fill up on snacks or send those last-minute texts. But it turns out movie trailers are not just for zoning out anymore. They've not only developed a huge fan following on the internet, but now there's even an awards ceremony where coming attractions are the main event.


TAPPER: In a world where movie theatre trailers compete for glory, only one can come out victorious. OK, I won't do the voice anymore. But the truth is, movie theatre previews are considered their own separate art form. There's even an award for them, much like the Oscars.

(voice-over): In 70 categories and with a shiny trailer statue, previews like these --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told myself I would never come back.

TAPPER: Were recognized Friday night at the Golden Trailer Awards in Hollywood. "Iron Man 3" took home the top prize for this intense entry.

And if their dream was to win for best music, the producers of the "Les Mis" promo, well, they achieved it. And the best voice over went to this unique ad for a film called "John Dies At The End."

SAM THIELMAN, STAFF WRITER, ADWEEK: It helps to have big, bombastic music and helps to show the audience something that they think they've already seen before and liked. And it's great to have a superhero attached to it.

TAPPER: These previews may only last a minute or so, but rest assured, they can make or break a two-hour feature.

THIELMAN: The industry is mammoth. It's huge. I think the average marketing budget for a movie is $30 million. A whole lot of that is trailer.

TAPPER: As with Breakfast at Tiffanys, E.T. and Jaws, movie posters are not just an in theatre afterthought either.

THIELMAN: Movie memorabilia culture has become so huge thing now. You know, people go to movie theatres and beg for those giant one sheet that sit in the window, I think the better those pictures look, the more likely they are to end up where somebody buys the DVDs or goes to see the movie a third time.

TAPPER: The next time you feel like fast-forwarding through the previews, take a second, watch. You might be skipping over an award winner.


TAPPER: Of course, the true measure of a successful trailer is whether it actually convinces people to go see the movie. And in the case of "Iron Man 3," mission accomplished, in historic fashion. The movie dominated the Box Office, raking in more than $175 million in ticket sales.

That makes it the second biggest opening in Hollywood history, just behind another comic book blockbuster, "The Avengers." "Iron Man" has made more than $860 million worldwide already.

Bill Clinton brokered peace deals, trade deals and secured the release of Americans from North Korea. But there's one group he could not get back together, a group of rock legends. The "Buried Lead" coming up next.


TAPPER: The "Buried Lead," that's a story we think should be getting more attention but it's not. Today's buried lead may keep you and everyone else in the world a lot healthier. Doctors may have figured out how to stop the spread of a deadly new strain of bird flu.

A specialist with the World Health Organization tells CNN the virus probably is spread by poultry workers moving to and from wet markets and farms and last month's closing of Shanghai's poultry markets resulted in a sharp drop in human cases.

It turns out there are some things even Bill Clinton cannot accomplish, like get Led Zeppelin back together. We found this story in a "60 Minutes" overtime feature about last December's benefit concert for victims of Superstorm Sandy. The show featured among others Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen. When the former president personally asked the surviving members of Led Zeppelin to reunite and perform, they wouldn't show him a whole lot of love.

A quick heads up what we have a moment tomorrow night, CNN's Chris Cuomo interviews Amanda Knox. Can she convince you she never killed anyone? Watch "Amanda Knox, The Unanswered Question" tomorrow at 10:00 Eastern.

That's it for me. I'm Jake Tapper. I will now turn you over into the able hands of Mr. Wolf Blitzer. He's right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Mr. Blitzer, take it away.