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Obama Blasts House Republicans; An Olive Branch from Iran?; Saying Goodbye to "Dexter"; The Minds Behind "Dexter"

Aired September 20, 2013 - 16:30   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Anderson Cooper and Piers Morgan with some must-see stories coming up on CNN primetime, take a look.


ANNOUNCER: CNN tonight, at 8:00 on "ANDERSON COOPER 360," a new resident of a small North Dakota town wants to make it all white.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not hate. It's the first amendment.

ANNOUNCER: But see how some long-time locals are fighting back. And on "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" at 9:00, who's really to blame in the death of Michael Jackson, as the defense rests in the wrongful death trial. What does it mean for the doctor already behind bars for his death? Piers gets Conrad Murray's side of the argument.

It's all on CNN tonight starting with "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" at 7:00, "ANDERSON COOPER 360" at 8:00, and "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" at 9:00, tonight on CNN.


TAPPER: Coming up next in the World Lead, first it was Putin, now Iran's president is harnessing the greatest media tool of 19th Century to talk to Americans with a newspaper op-ed.

And the "Money Lead," you get to the front of the line and the iPhone color you want is sold out. The hardships you have to face as a loyal Apple customer. Let me get the world's smallest violin ready.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. In our World Lead, who says newspapers are dead? Apparently not the presidents of countries that still block internet content from their citizens. First, we had Russian President Vladimir Putin's open letter to the American people in the "New York Times" where he told us to get over ourselves because we're not that exceptional.

Now we have an op-ed in the "Washington Post" from new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, but his tone is much more conciliatory than Putin. He writes about the need for constructive dialogue and that quote, "We must join hands to constructively work towards national dialogue whether in Syria or Bahrain. As part of this I announce my government's readiness to help facilitate dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition."

The White House said no meeting between Obama and Rouhani is currently planned, but will we see a handshake? Let's bring in Jim Sciutto, CNN chief national security correspondent, David Sanger is a "New York Times" chief Washington correspondent and Vali Nasr is dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a former senior adviser at the State Department.

David, I am going to start with you. You just came from New York. Tell us what is the Iranian government thinking these days?

DAVID SANGER, "NEW YORK TIMES": Well, they think they've got a new era. They clearly have a new president. None of the facts have changed. In fact, at this point, the Iranians have built more centrifuges in the past couple years than they built at any time previously. They have about 18,000. I think the hard question now, Jake, is can you get what the Iranians want, which is a recognition of their right to enrich.

And at the same time what the Americans want, which is a reduction in the size of the production capability so that Iran couldn't run for a bomb without giving such long lead notice to U.S. intelligence that they would see that this breakout was happening.

TAPPER: Val, what do you think, is it possible? Can there be an arrival at some sort of agreement there? Are the sanctions hurting Iran enough that they're willing to give on the nuclear weapon capability?

VALI NASR, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: I think we are far from that sort of deal right now. That's going to take some time to sort out and as David says, it's not easy to arrive at. What might happen in the short run is that Iran will get some sanction relief, which is what they're really after, and in exchange for that, we will get some of the things that we're asking for. I think the best thing that can happen is that a diplomatic track would actually be established. Ending in the kind of result we want is not going to be done in the near future.

TAPPER: So Jim, Rouhani also wrote in his op-ed, "We must work together to end the unhealthy rivalries and interferences that fuel violence and drive us apart." We haven't had official diplomatic relations with Iran as a country since 1980, when 52 U.S. hostages were taken hostage at the U.S. Embassy. Is there real change happening here or is this just public relations?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: There's definitely unique and unprecedented outreach. We haven't seen something like this since 1979. Letters, the invitation to meet directly, some of the outreach of the people, this digital outreach via Twitter, et cetera, although they don't allow their own people to go on Twitter.

TAPPER: They have their own internet.

SCIUTTO: Exactly, their own intranet. But taken together, it's at least an opening in the White House and U.S. officials I have spoken to are at least listening, but they repeat what is the consistent administration position on this, which is that actions speak louder than words. Until they see Iran do exactly what you say, which is establish that their nuclear program is peaceful and figure out a way to reduce uranium enrichment to a point where we're comfortable, they won't treat this seriously.

TAPPER: I want to play a clip about something President Rouhani of Iran said in an interview with NBC.


PRESIDENT HASSAN ROUHANI, IRAN (through translator): We have never pursued or sought a nuclear bomb and we are not going to do so. We are solely seeking peaceful nuclear technology.


TAPPER: So David, Netanyahu's office issued a statement saying the Iranians are spinning in the media so the centrifuges can keep spinning. Is Iran serious? It's a huge public relations push, sit- down with Ann Curry, letters to President Obama. Are they willing to give up nuclear weapon capability?

SANGER: As Jim said, they are serious about wanting to get those sanctions off. Now, the next question is, do they understand the sticker shock that will come about to get that done. There are really three big components of that. One is the production capability that I discussed before. The second is that they have never answered the questions at the IEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency put to them years ago about evidence that there was work on bomb designs, videos of bombs detonating or detonations of warheads at certain heights.

All of those pieces of evidence that this program might have a peaceful and non-peaceful component. Then the third question is the one that you raise, which is how much of a capability is the United States willing to go live with, and is Israel willing to live with that same capability.

TAPPER: In other words, can they build a bomb within a year, can the U.S. live with that?

SANGER: Or six months or three months or three weeks. And it's hard to get certainty on that, because as Donald Rumsfeld used to say, you don't know what you don't know. In this case, you don't know what facilities you might be missing.

TAPPER: Vali, last question, which is I want to acknowledge that tomorrow is a big deadline for Syria. They are supposed to give an accounting for what chemical weapons they have. You have been critical of the Obama administration in terms of not getting more involved until they ultimately got more involved. You wrote in the "New York Times" that Americans are justifiably weary of war. Is this a delaying tactic? Is this ultimately going to hurt the United States position more than it helps? NASR: Of course, it's a delaying tactic. Assad does not clearly want to give up these weapons and Assad wants to win the civil war and he's trying to game it so that he can have both of it. But if the administration's objective was not to go to war with Syria, not have to strike Syria, not have to get involved, it has found a way at least of not doing that, yet exploring getting some of what it wants from Syria.

But again, this was only a first step in diplomacy. The Russians provided a path. This is going to be difficult. It's going to be long. It requires sustained pressure and it may take some time for it to bear fruit.

TAPPER: All right, Jim Sciutto, David Sanger and Vali Nasr, thanks so much for coming in.

Coming up on THE LEAD, the lights go out on Dexter this weekend. We talk to the actors and crew behind Showtime's hit series, that's coming up next.


TAPPER: After eight seasons, Showtime is sticking a fork or maybe more accurately a knife into its series "Dexter." So how will it end? I'll dig around for spoilers with the star and the creative team behind the hit show in our Pop Culture Lead coming up next.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. It's time now for our Pop Culture Lead. It's usually not difficult to say good-bye to a serial killer, but for six million weekly viewers, the end of Showtime's "Dexter" is like a death in the family. After eight seasons, the series about a charming psychopath airs its last episode this Sunday.

Spoiler alert, if you're still catching up on the show, we're about to reveal some big plot twists from over the years and if you have never seen "Dexter" here's what you've been missing.


TAPPER (voice-over): All good things must come to an end, but "Dexter" fans know that bad things can be hard to say goodbye to as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no, no. I know I'm a monster.

TAPPER: After eight seasons, Michael C. Hall has perfected this antihero, playing a vigilante serial killer who only tries to go after bad guys and who only grows more beloved as the death toll rises.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to kill you tonight for what you did to my mother.

TAPPER: Dexter has faced a wide array of nemeses, both law enforcement trying to track him down and fellow murderers such as the ice truck killer, and perhaps most sinister, Trinity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, Dexter Morgan.

TAPPER: Much of the tension in the show has focused on whether Dexter's sister Deb would ever find out the truth but she did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you doing?

TAPPER: So now the big question is, how will it all end?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn't work that way!

TAPPER: Will Dexter and his new love Hannah pretty poison McKay escape with his son before either one of them is caught?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm thinking the three of us could leave together.

TAPPER: Dexter Morgan's judgment day is this Sunday night and despite his gruesome past, millions of loyal fans are split over how he will spend his future.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will be packed into a few neatly wrapped hefties.

TAPPER: How could we not empathize with this handsome devil? He's organized. He cares for his family and Showtime has even provided this online body bag game so we can better understand just how hard it is to dispose of evidence. In addition to millions of fans, Dexter has also won over critics, earning more than 100 award nominations and several wins.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not so much doing this to you as I'm doing it for me.

TAPPER: So how will Showtime choose to kill off its most successful show?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm moving to Argentina.

TAPPER: An Argentinean retirement for a blood-spattered homicide enthusiast or perhaps something more vengeful?


TAPPER: It's not often you get to interview a serial killer or at least a guy who plays one on TV. But I recently interviewed Michael C. Hall along with Dexter's executive producer, Sarah Colton and show runner, Scott Buck. I asked Hall if he thought the show was put on a clock the second his character was exposed as a killer to his sister.


MICHAEL C. HALL, ACTOR, "DEXTER": I think so. I mean, the show has spent all kinds of storytelling capital over the years, but once that happened, I think we knew that there was an end game as far as the context in which all these characters are living. It was understood going into making that decision and telling that part of the story that we were headed to some sort of conclusion once we did that.

TAPPER: Scott and Sarah, I want you to be honest. How much fun was it coming up with grosser and grosser and more horrific serial killers and ways for people to be killed? It must have been on a level as creators and writers. You have to admit that you had some fun with it.

SCOTT BUCK, SHOWRUNNER, "DEXTER": I think it was always the simpler ones that I appreciated. Dexter quickly reaching behind his back for a hammer that we didn't even know was there and hitting someone over the head with a hammer to me was more impressive and more fun than perhaps something much more complicated. I think for Dexter, it wasn't -- it wasn't so much about the violence, it was about --

SARA COLLETON, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "DEXTER": About the justice. And them understanding why they need to do what they do. And also, it was always, what I loved about the process in the room was Dexter trying to figure out from that person why they did -- why they did what they did and did they understand the responsibility and the moral implication. And it somehow was always something that he was trying to process and understand for himself, and occasionally, he would learn something in the kill room that he could take into his personal life.

TAPPER: So Michael, you have obviously shed the gay persona from "Six Feet Under." Are you at all concerned about the macabre character that you have been known as for the last decade or so when it comes to your next part?

HALL: Well, I don't know if I'm concerned. I don't know how much concern about that would undo the eight seasons I've done on "Dexter." I'm aware that people's association with me at this point has a lot to do with this serial killer who is arguably justifiable in his behavior but yes, I don't know.

I definitely have flied into the face of the typecasting thing. I just did a movie that was gay themed in some ways, "Kill Your Darlings" and also starts with my character dead. So it was sort of a mash-up of homosexuality and murder. I'm not looking to play another serial killer. I'll admit that.

TAPPER: Last question for Michael. Does Dexter deserve to live and have happiness?

HALL: You tell me. I don't know.

COLLETON: That was a very clever question.

HALL: The world that Dexter has created as a show is one in which someone's appetite to be human, not appetite to kill, has gotten his most loved friends and family into trouble.

TAPPER: Interesting.

HALL: As tragic as it is, I think Dexter does deserve in his own mind or heart of hearts some sort of punishment. I don't know exactly how that's going to pan out.

TAPPER: You know exactly, but you're not telling us. But I appreciate that. I appreciate that. Scott, Sara and Michael, thank you so much. Congratulations on an amazing eight seasons as a loyal viewer and best of luck to you in your future projects.


TAPPER: Coming up, it's not a bird or a plane, but it's looking like the must-have toy for the holiday season. Your kid might want it. I think I might want it. That's coming up in the Money Lead.


TAPPER: I'll be with you in a second. I got the finish this tweet. Stood in line for the new gold iPhone today, told it won't be in stock for several more weeks. Hash tag, fall is ruined. Hurry up, Apple, so I can start using this ancient relic as a paperweight. THE LEAD returns next.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD." Now it's time for the Money Lead. There might be gold in Demzar Hills but don't go looking in the Apple store. People who absolutely positively had to have their shiny new iPhone 5S today when they first became available literally went for the gold, but if you want one in that color now, Apple says you'll have to wait all the way until, brace yourself, October. The cheaper candy-colored plastic ones, there's plenty of those left behind. Apple shares finished the day down by a percent.

Sunday is the first day of fall, when the leaves change, suddenly pumpkin is in everything and we're pressured to start holiday shopping way too early. Industry experts say the early leader for this year's must-have toy is the Iron Man Extreme Hero, a remote control Tony Stark that supposedly flies as high as 200 feet. You can buy it now for $70 or on eBay in December for five times as much. Batteries and snarky Robert Downey Jr. attitude sold separately.

Make sure to follow me on Twitter @jaketapper and also @theleadcnn. Check out our show page at for video, blogs, extras. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jack Tapper. I turn you over to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."