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Not Standing By Her Man?; Friendly Fire; Vandals Hurl Paint At Lincoln; The Year Of The Black Film

Aired July 26, 2013 - 16:30   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD. In political news, we all watched with an uncomfortable sort of awe this week when Huma Abedin stood by her man after her husband, Anthony, "Danger" Weiner once again found himself the subject of unflattering headlines.


HUMA ABEDIN, ANTHONY WEINER'S WIFE: I made that it was worth staying --


KEILAR: But Page 6 is now reporting that the wife of New York's other tabloid twin, Eliot Spitzer, may be ready to call it quits. Silda Spitzer is already reportedly living in a separate apartment from the New York Democratic comptroller nominee. Now the "New York Post" is firing off the rumor that Spitzer's wife who famously stood stone faced by her man as he admitted to visiting prostitutes is waiting until after the election to file for divorce.

While CNN can't confirm that allegation, Jake Tapper asked Eliot Spitzer if his wife would be by his side election night if the race goes his way.


ELIOT SPITZER (D), NEW YORK COMPTROLLER CANDIDATE: My family is supportive. I expect, yes, she will be -- the family will be out there. She signed a petition, gathered petitions, my daughter is out there, gathered petitions for me and I'm proud of that, but I also have said, you know, our private lives are our private lives.


KEILAR: Let's bring in our political panel now to talk about it, Republican strategist Jim -- I'm sorry, that was a bad slip, Jim Geraghty, Democratic strategist, Jamal Simons and CNN political reporter, Peter Hamby. Peter, so whether the rumors are true or not, we haven't seen Silda out on the campaign trail. Today, if we listen to this, Spitzer was trying to tamp down these rumors.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SPITZER: I think it's fair I'm running for office. No other member of my family is running for office and I think the public is going to judge me not who else is with me or not with me.


KEILAR: How politically damaging is this for him to not have her by his side?

PETER HAMBY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Look, if you're comparing this to Anthony Weiner, it's actually probably less damaging to have her out of the spotlight because she's not constantly in the glare. She's not getting shouted questions at her all the time. Huma being out there with Anthony Weiner has really shown a spotlight and has been a constant reminder of the sort of like froth, curious relationship that they have.

Unless Silda goes out into the media and starts attacking Eliot Spitzer I think it's actually OK. You know, it's out of sight. This scandal is not going to be completely out of mind ever for Eliot Spitzer, but if she's kind of you know hanging out at her apartment in Manhattan and not on the campaign trail. I think that's OK for him.

KEILAR: And also if he doesn't have new details coming out his old scandal as well. But Jim, I imagine Republicans are just looking at this, kind of in a way salivating or at least chuckling to themselves as these campaigns implode.

JIM GERAGHTY, CONTRIBUTOR, "NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE": There's been a little bit of giggling this week, yes. One thing that's intriguing is this is not automatically making New York City that much closer to a Republican pickup. It's kind of ironic this is a city that actually hasn't had a Democratic mayor since David Dinkins. But post-Giuliani and post-Michael Bloomberg who ran as a Republican just because nobody else was running that year and it was an easier path, there hasn't been a cultivated Republican Party in the city. They really haven't been much of a bench there. Don't count them out in the general election, but the problems of Democrats don't automatically mean Republicans benefit.

KEILAR: They wish perhaps this was happening in a different state I imagine. So Jamal, yesterday Nancy Pelosi told Weiner to get a clue. Today, Debbie Wasserman Schultz came out and said or actually, no, she said that about Filner. I'm getting my scandals completely confused here. What do Democrats do to insulate themselves from this scandal, the Filner scandal? They're all rolling together.

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: We're trying to read about politics at work right now. It's like trying to watch a Robin Thicke video. Some of it is not safe for work. You got to be careful what sites to click on that might get in trouble. Democrats can distance themselves pretty well from this because first of all, it's a New York City race. It's a San Diego mayor. It's not like it's a congressional campaign that's happening right now. It's going to be lots of fun for everybody to watch for the rest of the year from afar, but I don't think it will have an impact on what happens here a lot. KEILAR: Let's talk now about a little friendly fire. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie taking aim at the growing libertarian wing of the GOP last night in Aspen when asked about the government surveillance program.


GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: This strain of libertarianism that's going through both parties right now and making big headlines, I think it's a very dangerous thought.


KEILAR: Now Rand Paul, his PAC fired back in a tweet, Chris Christie, it says, should hear from more Americans who value both security and privacy. Peter, can you explain why I guess it says Crist, not Christie. Why is that highlighted there?

HAMBY: The Rand Paul people, this is a fight they want to pick. They love comparing Chris Christie, of course, to Charlie Crist, who used to be a Republican then became an independent and is probably going to run for Florida governor as a Democrat.

Look, this is a big deal that's not getting a ton of national attention today because of the New York stories. This is I think the big first open skirmish on the record between two likely presidential candidates, and Chris Christie is taking -- you know, making a very serious bet that he's going to be the establishment guy in this race.

These comments about libertarianism are appealing to the foreign policy establishment, appealing to Republican donors. They're out in Aspen raising money with Republican donors right now. He's aggravated a lot of conservatives over the last year, but not since 1964 have Republicans nominated for president a grass roots insurgence so why not that on being the establishment.

KEILAR: Let me ask you about this. You we're seeing a bit of a fracture, this vote in the house on the NSA program and trying to limit the NSA's reach on looking at phone records. You had liberal Democrats joining conservative Republicans. Is that a concern?

GERAGHTY: It doesn't split on the traditional right/left line. If you have a security clearance you think the program is pretty OK. If you're in the outside, you're a little more wary about the whole thing. It's a great fight to have. I don't think either one of them is taking the high road in the way they assault the other, though.

KEILAR: Jamal, more from you next time. I had to give Jim the last word since I accidentally insulted him.

SIMMONS: I actually agree with Rand Paul right now.

KEILAR: That is so bizarre. Jamal, Jim, Peter, thank you so much for that.

Next on THE LEAD, who would want to mess with one of America's most beloved presidents? Green paint thrown on the Lincoln Memorial and it's caught on surveillance video. So who did it?

Plus, if you haven't noticed, we are at the lead a bit obsessed about killer sharks raining down on Los Angeles. That's why we can't wait to tell you about the latest news on the "Sharknado" front. We've got that ahead.


KEILAR: Welcome back to THE LEAD. In politics, if they'd paint Lincoln, imagine what they would hurl at James Buchanan. Washington woke up to reports that vandals had splattered green paint on the Lincoln Memorial shutting down the site where Martin Luther King famously delivered his "I Have A Dream" speech.

Erin McPike is on the scene there. So Erin, this is a symbol of American unity. You have lots of tourists that come there. They're probably wondering who these jerks are that tried to trash it.

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we don't know yet, but there is a surveillance video and the park police say they will release this video to the public if they need help catching the culprit, but we don't have the culprit just yet -- Bri.


CAROL JOHNSON, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE: Of course, the National Park Service is really disappointed this national icon is damaged. It has paint splatter on it. It is not permanent damage. It can be cleaned. We have very good historic preservation crews up there now cleaning it as we speak and it will be back in the shape that it was.


MCPIKE: Bri, I just ran up the stairs. There are suds all over Abe and a little green paint, but I think he's going to make it.

KEILAR: All right, Erin McPike, for us there in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Good to know that everything is going to work out for Abe. Disappointed to hear that.

Breaking news in our "Buried Lead," those are the stories we think aren't getting enough attention elsewhere. In the last few minutes, the White House just announced that Army Staff Sergeant Ty Carter will receive the Medal of Honor in August for his actions in combat outpost Keating in Afghanistan back on October 3, 2009.

Now earlier, former Army Staff Sergeant Clinton Romeshea received the Medal of Honor for his actions that same night. The usual host of THE LEAD, Jake Tapper profiled Carter and Romeshea in his book, "The Outpost" and he explains how these two men earned our military's highest honor in the same battle.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): It was a devastating Taliban attack, captured in this insurgent-made video. Launched in an Eastern Afghanistan outpost positioned so poorly, it was nearly indefensible. Combat Outpost Keating, tucked in a valley surrounded by towering mountains. Up to 400 insurgents used the high ground to stage an overwhelming assault on just 53 U.S. troops.

SGT. THOMAS RASMUSSEN, U.S. ARMY: Every kind of weapon they could get their hands on they were throwing us. We hadn't seen that before.

TAPPER: Eight U.S. soldiers were killed that day, the deadliest day for the U.S. in Afghanistan that year. But there were heart stopping heroics to defend the base. One, Staff Sergeant Clint Romeshea, has already been given the nation's highest honor for his bravery in the face of overwhelming odds.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: COP Keating, the investigation found it was tactically indefensible and that's what these soldiers were asked to do, defend the indefensible.

TAPPER: Now there will be a second White House ceremony for the same battle, this time for Sergeant Ty Carter, a member of B Troop Third Platoon, nicknamed "The Bastards." That morning Carter had been risking his life running ammo to troops when a sniper pinned down him in his Humvee. As the picture shows the roof mount weapon was destroyed by an RPG. The men inside sitting ducks.

CLINTON ROMESHA, MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT: They had no more ammo left. They were getting hit from every which way.

TAPPER: Sergeant Josh Hart led two other soldiers to try and provide cover for their trapped comrades with their own Humvee. It was a suicide mission.

ROMESHA: Hart came across the net and said they got an RPG pointed right at me and that was the last we heard from Hart.

TAPPER: Bad went from worse. Rounds began penetrating the Humvee. The enemy was now inside the base. The five men trapped inside decided they needed to get out of there. Three tried to make a run for it while Carter and Sergeant Brad Larson provided cover, but enemy fire killed Sergeant Justin Gallegos as he tried to help Specialist Stephen Mace who was badly wounded. Mace was left lying trapped in open ground.

Carter sprung into action, rescuing Mace, bringing him back to the Humvee, but they needed to get him help. Carter once again braved the bullets and ran and retrieved Gallegos's radio. "Is anyone still alive?" the man radiod, a response came "what's going on"? And the tide began turning.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Over the radio they heard comrades pinned down in a Humvee so Clinton's team unloaded everything they had into the enemy positions and with that cover, three wounded Americans made their escape.

TAPPER: Mace ultimately would not have survived, but Carter's bravery among the brave now deserving the Medal of Honor. Jake Tapper, CNN, Washington. (END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: Two medals of honor for the same battle are very rare. It marks the first time in almost half a century that one battle resulted in two living service members being awarded the highest honor that a troop can receive. Two service members who were killed in the Black Hawk down attack in Somalia were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for that battle, which was on October 3, 1993, 16 years to the day before the attack on Combat Outpost Keating.

And coming up, it is what some are calling a modern day Harlem renaissance, but it's happening in Hollywood. We'll tell you what's helping to fuel a big year for black filmmakers at the box office.


KEILAR: Welcome back to THE LEAD. The Pop Culture Lead, she has a media empire enough Emmys to collapse a mantle and the opinions of housewives everywhere in the palm of her hand, yet there is one thing that Oprah Winfrey doesn't have, an Oscar. There is already buzz that the academy should start engraving her statue right now for Oprah's rare acting turn in Lee Daniels' "The Butler."

It's a movie coming out next month also starring Force Whitaker as Cecil Gains, the head White House butler who served eight presidents. It's just one of several films with African-American filmmakers and stars that is garnering a whole lot of critical acclaim this year.

And as Jake Tapper reports, we could be looking at a renaissance of black entertainment in Hollywood.


TAPPER (voice-over): As the story of Trayvon Martin sparks yet another debate about race in America, dramatic tales of young black men will play out in theatres as a new era of African-American cinema emerges. Over the next months audiences will see slavery, segregation, poverty and yes, racial profiling portrayed in theatres nationwide.

"Fruitvale Station" released over the weekend strikes close to home as it depicts the fatal shooting of a young, unarmed black man.

RYAN COOGLER, DIRECTOR, "FRUITVALE STATION": It was about this man's life and the people that he mattered to and what his relationship was at the time and why it mattered to him.

TAPPER: Some of the life stories that will resonate the most this year are those untold in their time. This August we'll see Forest Whitaker portraying the butler at the White House serving from before the civil rights movement through the Reagan years.

And later this year, an ensemble cast will show us what it's like to live 12 years a slave. I sat down with my friend, Neil Drumming, whose film "Big Words" is among the new group of movies gaining recognition. (on camera): Is this another renaissance of African-American cinema?

NEIL DRUMMING, DIRECTOR, "BIG WORDS": I definitely feel there's a movement for independent black film makers to get their projects out and pursue more unique projects than they've been willing to chase down before.

TAPPER (voice-over): Drumming's movie, a "New York Times" critics pick, reflects the struggles not just of a group of a black men, but of a frustrated nation, Circa 2008.

(on camera): Now your film "Big Words" is about three guys who used to be in a hip hop group together kind of coming to terms with the failure of that group.


TAPPER: And it takes place significantly, I think, from the night at that Barack Obama is elected. Why?

DRUMMING: Well, I wanted to write about three characters who had sort of lost their optimism and the best way to really outline them was to cast them against this evening when it felt like everyone in New York City was looking forward with positivity, with optimism.

TAPPER (voice-over): Optimism and strength are at the heart of this renewed push for influential films. As this American debate over race relations continues, the movies, too, depict a country divided and the characters portrayed in these films are of those who have often been unheard.


KEILAR: Independent film festivals have also been credited with launching black films. The 2009 Academy award winning movie "Precious" was launched at Sundance and the festival this year awarded a prize to "Fruitvale Station."

A multimillionaire dying of cancer trying to give away as much as money as he can in the time that he's got left, Sam Simon helped create "The Simpsons" and gets millions of dollars in royalties every year. Doctors diagnosed Simon with terminal colon cancer earlier this year and gave him just a few months to live. Simon was known as a philanthropist, but he's been on a huge donation spree giving money to animal rights groups and to feed the hungry. He told the "Hollywood Reporter" that he doesn't even know how much he's given away.

And if you didn't get sucked into that "Sharknado" frenzy the first around, well, no worries, because it's might be coming to a big screen near you. Regal will show it on about 200 screens one week from tonight for one night only. "Sharknado" was made for TV, shown earlier this month on the Sci-Fi Channel.

But when Twitter user got wind of it, it blew "Sharknado" out of the water and people apparently wanted more sharks falling from tornadoes. A sequel is in the works, set in Manhattan. And today's royal baby update is our "World Lead." You know we may have gotten bump down a peg in the line of succession by a five-day old, but Prince Harry seems pretty ecstatic to be a new uncle to his brother's new baby boy, Prince George Alexander Louis.


PRINCE HARRY: It's fantastic to have another addition to our family. I only hope my brother knows how expensive my baby-sitting charges are.


KEILAR: So funny, right, to hear a royal joke about doing commoners work. You have to wonder what kind of influence Uncle Harry would have on Prince George. This is, after all, the heir who was photographed playing strip billiards in Las Vegas just last year. Don't let him babysit maybe, right?

That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Brianna Keilar. Jake Tapper will be back on Monday. I turn you over to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."