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Will Google's E-Commerce Erase Paypal?; Apple Losing Its Cool?; Bad Press, Worse Metaphors; "Fleeting Issues"; Will The Scandals Stick?; Mystery Of The $1 Million Jewelry Heist; Mayor's Crack Scandal

Aired May 17, 2013 - 16:30   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. The "Money Lead," it's been a whole seven months since Apple's last big product launch and since then Google, Samsung, Amazon, and more have generated a ton of buzz. Is Apple still the coolest kid on the block?

The "Pop Lead," the plot sounds way too Hollywood for a movie playing at Cannes, but this wasn't a movie at all. Police say a million dollars in jewels were stolen from a hotel room in the middle of the world's most glamorous film festival.

And the "World Lead," whatever could have given this alleged American spy away? Could it have been the wig that looks like a bleached badger on top of his head? It turns out that hair piece may have a wild back story all its own.

Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Now it's time for the "Money Lead." If you want to know the next phase in Google's plan for world domination look no further than your wallet. The internet giant unveiled an exciting new update to old technology to make it faster and easier for you to exchange money using a virtual wallet. That could spell big trouble for one of the founding fathers of the online payment game. Our Erin McPike has the story.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Western Union the fastest way to send money.

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That used to be true, but these days we've upgraded. Google says its new program will let you send money without ever looking up from your e-mail. The search giant introduced Google Wallet in 2011.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Google Wallet, tap, pay, and save.

MCPIKE: To store credit cards and other methods of payment for use when you're standing at a checkout counter or you see something online and want it right away. Just scan your phone and the product is yours.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, thank you very much. MCPIKE: But now Google is upping the ante and taking on Paypal, which was once the only secure way to pay online. It's dominated for about a decade now, but you needed a Paypal account. With Google Wallet you don't need a separate account just an e-mail address and you can send money to a friend over that bet you lost last night just as easily as you can attach a photo from the experience.

SAM BIDDLE, VALLEYWAG BLOG, GAWKER.COM: It absolutely is a step ahead of Paypal simply because Paypal is an extra step with the company that not a lot of ordinary people are familiar with.

MCPIKE: Of course more money changing hands, more problems.

BIDDLE: It's important for everyone to stop and think, one company to have all of my conversations, but also a complete record of everyone I've sent money to and when and maybe why.

MCPIKE: Still, if you want to rush out and sign up, hold your horses. Google is rolling out the new feature the same way it did Gmail. So if you have an enterprising friend who already has it, she can send it to you sooner. Otherwise, it's coming out over the next few months. You just have to be 18 to place your bets and Gmail the money.


TAPPER: That was our Erin McPike reporting. So while Google is going gangbusters, Apple, remember them, the tech giant that once led the pack? Well, Apple is suddenly finding itself accused of losing its innovative edge.

Here to talk about it is our friend, Rocco Pendola, columnist for Rocco, thanks so much for being here. Wall Street's love affair with Apple has cooled. The stock is down 40 percent from last year's high. Is Apple in trouble? Honestly, like where are the new gadgets?

ROCCO PENDOLA, COLUMNIST, THESTREET.COM: Well, I'll tell you this, just right off the bat. I love Apple. I've spent more money on Apple products in the last year than I have on my wife and my kid, OK? So there is no question right now today this moment in time. They dominate. They're number one.

Nobody gets excited about Apple products -- get excited about Samsung products or even Google stuff like they do Apple. They don't line up for them. There isn't that intensity or anticipation for what's next. You know, if you look historically it really actually hasn't been a whole lot of time between new products.

There was a long, long wait between iPod and iPhones. So to me that's neither here nor there. I'm all about the future. I don't want them to rush out products like their competitors or change something about the iPhone that works. I love my iPhone. I don't want it to be different.

Why? Why mess with it if it isn't broken? But they do need a new product. They need it inside the next year and the question for me is really is Tim Cook the guy who can lead Apple to replicate the things that Steve Jobs accomplished?

TAPPER: That is the big question right now is whether or not Tim Cook is that guy. If not Tim Cook, who do you think should be running the show?

PENDOLA: Well, I don't think it should be Cook first of all. I think Apple should just own up and admit a mistake. They went all in Tim Cook, it was a bad idea. They should fire him. It's simple as that. He is an MBA. He is a manager. He is a fantastic businessman. He can tell you how to manage a supply chain like he did under Steve Jobs.

He can tell you how many iPhones should be built for next quarter. That's the kind of the stuff he does. He is a textbook guy. He is running Apple in many ways by the textbook now. They need a visionary. Not necessarily somebody with Steve Jobs' personality. You don't need to clone the guy.

But look at some names like Jack Dorsey, the guy who founded Twitter and now when he was done with Twitter, he is devising Square, the mobile payment system before, now you're talking about mobile payments right? That's Google Wallet and everything else. Dorsey has been on this for a few years.

Guys like Howard Shultz at Starbucks, Jeff Bezos at Amazon. They may not be the particular names who would be perfect for Apple's CEO, but those types of individuals -- visionaries. People that know what you want before you even know it exists, people that run their companies like tech companies not by their grad school, MBA textbook.

TAPPER: All right, Rocco Pendola, thanks so much for your views. As always, see you soon.

Speaking of companies trying to find their cool, Yahoo is reportedly in talks to close a billion dollar deal with the social blogging site, Tumbler. The deal could help Yahoo get back on the radar.

Next on THE LEAD, I'm sure you're looking forward to the weekend, but you can't possibly want this week to end more than the president. Is the damage done?

Plus, a gossip website is asking for donations to buy a compromising video of one mayor that allegedly involves Somali drug dealers and a crack pipe. That story is coming up.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Now it's time for the "Politics Lead." TGIF White House says I would think. When the week began everyone was talking about the perfect storm. Three scandals or controversies whatever you want to call them, spiralling toward the oval office, a deluge. The bad weather metaphors really erupted when this shot of the president emerged.

President Obama hiding under an umbrella hit the airwaves yesterday. Look at that Marine standing so erect, but soggy puns aside, how bad was the damage to the president actually? Let's ask our political panel. Yahoo! news chief correspondent, chief Washington correspondent, I should say, Olivier Knox, CNN contributor and Republican strategist Ana Navarro, and CNN contributor and Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen.

Olivier, President Obama earlier today seemed to be trying to shrug off these controversies, these scandals. Take a listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I know it can seem frustrating sometimes when it seems like Washington's priorities aren't the same as your priorities. I know it often seems like folks down there are more concerned with their jobs than with yours. Others may get distracted by chasing every fleeting issue that passes by, but the middle class will always be my number one focus period.


TAPPER: This seems to be what we're going to hear from Democrats is a focus on what matters to people and also that the scandals have gone away. Do you think that's going to work?

OLIVIER KNOX, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO! NEWS: Well, they're clearly not going to go away if only because chairman of various House committees are saying they're not going to go away. As long as you have people being pulled before panels on the Hill, this is going to keep going on. But you are going to hear from the White House as you heard for the last couple years actually that this isn't about jobs and this isn't about the future of the country and this isn't about families. This is purely inside the beltway obsession.

TAPPER: Hilary, I mean, every Democrat agrees that this IRS thing is ugly.

HILARY ROSEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. I think the president actually didn't avoid it. They've been dealing with it the last couple days and he put Jack Lew on it, the secretary of the treasury and the inspector general's report is fully out there. So I don't think they've tried to avoid it. I think they've kind of owned it.

You know, Benghazi is a little different because there is nothing there really. The more information that comes out, the more it looks like this is just a Republican, you know, circus. But I think the IRS thing is one that actually real Americans care about.

But real Americans really mostly care about jobs. I don't actually think the president is wrong when he says things like that. That's probably what he hears on the receiving line from real folks saying, you know, what's wrong with people in Washington? Why aren't they talking about us?

TAPPER: Ana, I know that there is a divide right now in the Republican Party with some Republicans starting to express concerns of Republicans in the House, a third of the committees there investigating the Obama administration in one facet or another. Even if all the investigations are nonpartisan and just part of congressional oversight, is there a risk for the Republican House in being seen as too obsessed with the scandals and not devoted enough to jobs and the economy?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I frankly think the House can't worry about how they're perceived. They've got a job to do, government oversight. Regardless of what party may be in power in the House, it is their job. That's why we have a democracy where there are three different branches of government and there are checks and balances.

If it weren't for investigative committees we wouldn't have known that Benghazi wasn't a video. We wouldn't have known some of the things that have come out recently. They have their job to do. There are a lot of people outside of the House that may be doing things like fundraising off of Benghazi, which I think is not the right thing to do.

I was speaking to Lindsay Graham, Senator Graham, the other day, who was one of the people that has most pushed this issue of Benghazi and he said, you know, you will never see me fundraise off of Benghazi. I think it dishonors the memory of the people who died there. I agree with him. I think there is a time for politics. I think there is a time for investigation. This is a time for getting to the facts and the truth.

ROSEN: Well, you know, Paul Ryan in the interview that you did, Jake, with him before said, you know what? We can still do immigration. We can still do the budget. We can -- while we do these other things. Kind of the onus is on them to prove that now. That, you know, they really have an agenda to go forward on some of these other issues that Congress --

NAVARRO: But they have been.

ROSEN: No, they haven't.

NAVARRO: Much to my pleasant surprise the immigration bill has been chugging along --


NAVARRO: They completed another day of mark up yesterday and it has been going along.

ROSEN: Yes. We'll see if it makes some progress.

NAVARRO: The House group announced last night they finally reached a deal. You know why because it is not the White House's bill. Because it is one of the sole instances where Congress has actually birthed their own idea and is cooperating.

KNOX: Until this week, though, what we were hearing from people in the White House and on Capitol Hill, Republicans, was that things like Benghazi were actually helpful to getting this sort of thing done because they can say yes I'm working with the president on immigration reform, but look, I'm holding him to account all these other things.


KNOX: We're hearing a slightly different message now where Republicans on the Hill are wondering whether the accumulation of the problems might make the president really just too toxic to work with. Not that they've shown signs of working with him on things like, you know, entitlement reform or his economic package, but the idea that things like immigration reform might now be in the balance.

ROSEN: That's where the over reach will come is if they use these as an excuse. Look, you know, say what you will about Benghazi it's been looked at to death. The IRS is going to be ongoing and nobody is going to have much control over how those results come. But if the Republicans and the Democrats on the Hill start working together, you know, when push comes to shove they still need the president. He is still at the table. Immigration has been a huge priority. It is an opportunity for big victory for the Republicans and the president.

NAVARRO: Hilary, thank God for immigration. He is not on the field. He's clapping from the bleachers and that's what's going to save immigration.

TAPPER: All right, we'll see what happens and we'll have you guys back.

NAVARRO: He'd be happy if that was the case. I'd be ecstatic. I'd be happy for him.

TAPPER: Thank you very much.

Coming up, it sounds like the plot line to a movie but a million dollar jewel heist just went down at the Cannes Film Festival. We'll tell you how the crooks pulled it off.

Plus the villains on "Scooby Doo" had better disguises than the alleged American spy the Russians just picked up. Now it turns out the ridiculous wig he was wearing may have a history going back as far as the Cold War. We'll explain after this.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Now it's time for the "Pop Culture" lead, a jewelry heist in the south of France. Everyone is beautiful. There is an ironic plot twist. Sounds like a Hollywood script. You'd want to roll your eyes at it, right?

Well, this whodunit is real and it has yet to be solved. Thieves made off with close to a million dollars worth of jewelry at the Cannes Film Festival. It was being kept inside the hotel room safe of an employee of Showpard Jewels. If you've seen one too many movies not to think it was an inside job, well, you're not alone.


TAPPER (voice-over): This week they're the most riveting sight on the Riviera, their bodies bejewelled by the biggest bubbles. All that bling and irresistible target for Paparazzi and it turns out for thieves. As the celebs at the Cannes Film Festival discovered last night when under cover of darkness those diamonds disappeared.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Diamonds, the only thing in the world you can't resist.

TAPPER: A jewelry heist in the luxurious location? Sounds like a plot of Hitchcock's 1955 classic "To Catch A Thief."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Filmed on the beautiful French Riviera.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A very strong grip the kind a burglar needs.

TAPPER: But the jewelry company Showpard says this thief is no Carey Grant, managing to make off with less than a million dollars worth of bling, small potatoes when talking diamonds in 2013.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Has been the victim of a robbery last night. There is currently an investigation under way.

TAPPER: But a bigger question for us, why are all these jewelers bringing their wares to Cannes? I mean, what's in it for them? Well, it turns out, big bucks.

WENDY ADELER, VP MARKETING PHILANTROPY, ADELER JEWELERS: They're definitely not passing through a lot of hands along the way so they're very, very secure as they travel. We make sure that we have accountability every step of the way.

TAPPER: Wendy Adeler says once her father started loaning his pieces to celebrities to wear on the red carpet, sales to real people, well, they spiked.

ADELER: Sort of helps to show case your designs on a larger scale and a larger audience.

TAPPER: While the investigation in Cannes continues, French police say the thieves swiped the safe, unscrewed from the wall in a hotel room, sometime between 8:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. prime party time during the week-long film festival. Perhaps the thief was taking advantage of that night's hot premiere "The Bling Ring" by director Sophia Copola.

That film is about, you guessed it, a jewelry heist. And it debuted within hours of the real life lift, life imitating art imitating life on the movie world's most glamorous stage.


TAPPER: Police say whoever did it had to have had inside information about where the jewels were being stored and that there was likely more than one person involved.

In the TV biz it's the equivalent of not just liking it but putting a ring on it. Amazon has decided to pick up the pilot for the online political drama "Alpha House." Earlier this week, we first told you about Amazon's jaunt into the original content game.

Amazon rolled out 14 pilots as part of a new plan to directly compete with internet content providers like Netflix and Hulu. "Alpha House" is the first show to get the green light. It stars John Goodman and is written by Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Gary Trudeau. Congratulations.

Sure President Obama had a bad week, but at least he's not this mayor who allegedly just got caught on video smoking crack as first reported by That story straight ahead when THE LEAD continues.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Now it's time for the "World Lead." Despite reports of extreme suffering and death and at times total barbarism coming out from Syria's civil war Russia says, a deal is a deal. The country has downplayed yet another Russian shipment of missiles to the Syrian regime today saying they were just fulfilling a contract and that the media should not get all worked up about it.

The "New York Times" reports that Russia sent a shipment of advanced anti-ship cruise missiles to the regime. Analysts say unlike scud missiles, which Syria has fired upon its own people these missiles would be and could be fired at ships, possibly ones trying to rearm the rebels.

Of all the things you've seen crowd funded on Kickstarter, this has got to be a first. The web site Gawker is trying to raise $200,000 to buy a video that allegedly shows Toronto's mayor smoking crack. I couldn't make this up if I tried.

Two reporters for the "Toronto Star" say they saw video of Rob Ford with two Somali drug dealers smoking out of a crack pipe. John Cook from says the same thing. While they have no way of verifying whether the video is real, the Toronto reporters say it appears to be un-doctored. Mayor of Toronto Rob ford responded to the story a few hours ago.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The allegations of this video?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely -- it's ridiculous.


TAPPER: Absolutely not true he says. The video is supposedly being shopped around and Gawker hopes to raise enough cash to buy it and post it online.

When you think of international espionage you think 007, the gadgets, the guns. Not really obvious wigs. But it turns out Ryan Fogle, the accused American spy in Russia may have had his cover blown by a really awful rug. Russia's Interfax news agency says the unconvincing wig that Fogle was wearing when he was arrested matched a wig taken from another U.S. Embassy employee who was kicked out of the Soviet Union for allegedly spying back in 1986 still in the Cold War days.

It turns out according to "The Washington Post" that the CIA has been using the same wig supplier for decades and apparently there is a specialty there they have in duplicating Billy Zabka's hair from the karate kid. Sweep the leg, Billy.

Hash tag you're it. We asked you earlier which sports fans deserve a reality TV show and in addition to the Cheeseheads and what you would name it, agony. It sums up the Lakers, Clippers, Angels, and Dodgers this year. Crash landing that's a show for Jets fans. SD says Philadelphia Eagles fans need a reality show called flipping the birds. Indeed.

That's it for THE LEAD. I am Jake Tapper. Have a great weekend. I leave you now in the capable hands of Mr. Wolf Blitzer. He is right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Jake, thanks very much.