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Amazon CEO: Put The Focus On The Customers; The Day The Music Took A Hiatus

Aired September 25, 2013 - 16:30   ET


TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: In this situation, again, why is he attacking fellow workers at the Navy Yard who, even if he is under some kind of bombardment, you think he would attribute that to an enemy country or somebody else, not his colleagues at the Navy Yard.

TAPPER: All right. Tom Fuentes, thanks. Some chilling images there released by the FBI public today.

Coming up on THE LEAD, a doctor convicted of horrific crimes. Now he is talking from his prison cell. Hear how he is explaining what he did.

And in the Money Lead, he helped send bookstores the way of the phone booth. What does Amazon's CEO have in store for the next generation of Kindles? Jeff Bezos will give us a sneak peek, next.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. It is time now for our Buried Lead. Those are stories we think are not getting enough attention.

You may recall horrific trial full of evidence that shocked the very soul. Now Dr. Kermit Gosnell, an abortion provider from Philadelphia, is spending life in prison after being convicted among other crimes, of first-degree murder in the deaths of three babies. A case that stoked the fires of the abortion debate.

Gosnell was called a monster for what he did and how he did it. Ending the lives of fetuses way past the legal limit in Pennsylvania. But so much of his case, who he is, why he did what he did, and how he got away with it for so long, well, that all remains a mystery.

"Philadelphia Magazine"'s Steve Volk tries to shed some light on this story. Volk is the only journalist who Gosnell has spoken with while in prison. Volk compiled the dozens of letters, e-mails and phone conversations in an article for "Philadelphia Magazine" and an e- book, "Gosnell's Babies." It tells Gosnell's chilling account of what happened at his Philadelphia clinic. It is a must-read for anybody who followed this case.

And Steve Volk joins me now from Philadelphia. Steve, thanks for joining us. How did Gosnell defend himself to you? I don't fully understand where he is coming from. STEVE VOLK, AUTHOR, "GOSNELL'S BABIES": I don't think anyone really will. His legal defense, such as it was, was not very credible. For instance, in the manner of performing abortions past 24 weeks, he admitted to using the most subjective assessment that you can use. (AUDIO GAP) You know, manually by touch, assessing the size of the uterus and judging the pregnancy from that, Rather than ultrasound which would be more objective means that leaves a clear record.

And then if he needed to, he would actually fake the ultrasound and tilt it to try to make the fetus appear smaller and get a reading, you know, under 24 weeks, at legal limit. And he thinks that somehow this should add up to a not guilty verdict. But I mean, that clearly is not going to wash.

TAPPER: After reading your story, I am even more under the impression than I was before that in addition to his being a murderer, that this would be a failure of the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania medical establishment. As you point out, there were serious complaints Gosnell in 1996, in 2001. In 2000, one of his patients died, apparently due to some complications after an abortion. And you have this incredibly fascinating anecdote about 1972 when he fled the country after a horrific abortion experiment that he was part of.

Do you feel like anyone in Philadelphia or Pennsylvania in the medical community bear any responsibility?

VOLK: I think that we will never know how many people do bear responsibility, but certainly there are a lot of them. There are a few people who tried to do the right thing along the way. And then above them, it seems there was always somebody who was willing to look the other way. And we ended up with this.

TAPPER: One of the most interesting parts of the story -- I don't want to ruin it, people should read it. It's on the "Philadelphia Magazine" website. And of course, you have you your e-book as well. But one of the most fascinating parts of the story comes when you realize while talking to Gosnell that he considers fetuses that have been removed and are still alive, he considers them to be essentially dead because they have no hope for survival. And it's just this very disturbing peek into his soul of -- and the way the -- vile way he views life and death.

VOLK: He talked to me about this concept he called "fatal blighting" whereby if he had injected the fetus with didoxin or the baby with didoxin -- and there is some dispute about whether or not he actually used didoxin all the time. But this is a drug that's intended to stop the baby's heart - that once he had done that the baby was fatally blighted, and therefore any movement it might have shown at that point would not be what he would consider a real movement.

And I think -- you know, he sort of retreated behind this position a lot when we talked. And that was one of the most disturbing parts of our conversation.

TAPPER: Very well written in your article. Lastly, I have to say, Gosnell -- obviously, something is seriously wrong this person. But even if in your conversations and how you write about him, he seems off. He answers some of your questions in -- in poetry. Simply put, is he a madman?

VOLK: Well, look, I think that there was a lot of conjecture about what motivated Gosnell. And people said he was greedy, crazy, he is a monster. I think at bottom, he was a true believer in -- abortion rights. You know, whatever else he might be. And he professed to be a deeply religious man, and I believe that the depth of those beliefs enabled him to rationalize all of the other choices he made along the way. For me, that's ultimately what the story is about. What can happen when a self-righteous belief in yourself and -- your own authority spirals out of control.

TAPPER: All right. Steve Volk, thank you so much for your time and your excellent reporting. Good luck with the e-book.

VOLK: Hey, thanks for having me.

TAPPER: And in other buried news, he was 6'4 and had an affinity for stove type pets. Yet, it has been tricky over the years to spot Abraham Lincoln in photographs of crowds. But now, a former Disney animator, professor and Civil War buff named Christopher Oakley claims he's spotted Abraham Lincoln in a blurry photo taken moments before he delivered the Gettysburg Address 150 years ago.

A few years ago, another historian, John Ritchter, claimed he spotted Lincoln in the same photo, only his Lincoln was few feet to the left and on a horse. Experts also say his hair and beard appeared a bit too long. So, we may never know which of these Abes is the Honest Abe.

Sports Lead now. Big-time college football programs generate tens of millions of dollar as year. It seems everyone involves gets a piece of that except, of course, for the players who are one big hit away from becoming just students, not student athletes or maybe not even there.

Now those in favor of paying college players have some eye-popping numbers on their side. The average player of the top 25 money school is worth more than $190,000. That's according to "Business Insider," which calculated the fair market value for players in each of the top 25 cash collecting colleges. Now, the average football player at the University of Texas is worth the most in the country. $578,000 per player, followed by Michigan, then Alabama, Auburn, and Georgia. "Business Insider" says it came up with the numbers by using the same formula the NFL uses in its most recent collective bargaining agreement.

We reached out to the NCAA for reaction this afternoon but have not heard back from them yet. Hope everything is okay with our phones.

Coming up, the latest technology at bargain-basement prices. Could that formula put Amazon's new tablet on top? We will hear from the company's CEO, Jeff Bezos. And our Pop Culture lead. People spend their entire lives trying to make it as musicians. So why are these Grammy winners hanging up their suspenders and going on hiatus? That mystery, next.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. In our "Money Lead," Amazon's CEO, Jeff Bezos, says it is all about the customer, sell them premium products at non-premium prices, he says.

In other words, sell tablets at low prices and reap the rewards when a late night TV binger buys all five seasons of "Breaking Bad" at once. This week Amazon unveiled its new Kindle Fire tablet. It is a sleeker model with some new technology, but perhaps its best feature, $139 price tag.

CNN's Dan Simon sat down with Bezos to hear more on the Amazon philosophy and where it may take the CEO's newest company, "The Washington Post."


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When you meet Amazon's CEO, Jeff Bezos, you are immediately struck by two things, that legendary laugh and his nearly unmatched focus on customer service.

JEFF BEZOS, CEO, AMAZON: We know customers like low prices. We know customers like big selection and we know that customers like fast delivery. Those things are going to be true ten years from now. They are going to be true 20 years from now. So you can count on those things and we can put energy into them.

SIMON: He met with us at Amazon's Seattle Headquarters to personally show off the company's new line of soup-up lightweight Kindle Fire tablets. One of them is priced at only $139. Apple's cheapest iPad is nearly $200 more.

(on camera): One of the things have you done so well at Amazon is you undercut all of your rivals by keeping the prices low. Does that same strategy apply to tablets?

BEZOS: Yes. Our approach is premium products at non-premium prices. So we sell the hardware at break even. So we don't try to make any money when we sell the hardware. We hope to make money when people use the devices, not when they buy the devices. So that's a very different approach from most companies. Most companies are building quite a bit of profit into the sale of these devices.

SIMON (voice-over): The approach this time also includes a feature never seen before on any kind of device. It is called "May Day, 24/7 tech support."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How can I help you today?

BEZOS: You can tap the "May Day" button. At the top of the menu system and a tech support adviser will appear our screen and can draw your screen and guide you through things and teach you how to do things.

SIMON (on camera): I remember when Steve Jobs introduced the iPad. One thing he said --

STEVE JOBS: Stand on their holders and go a bit further.

BEZOS: He was talking about the Kindle because we had launched the Kindle. Dedicated reader today, latest generation, Kindle Paper White and that's what Steve was talking about.

SIMON: My question now is, are you -- have you taken it up another notch? Are you standing on Apple's shoulders?

BEZOS: I don't know. The way what I would think about this is that there's room for a lot of companies to do well in this arena, these tablets, mobile devices, very big market arena, room for companies pursuing different strategies and different product features. All -- you know, for their -- multiple winners.

SIMON (voice-over): But in the smartphone arena that may not be the case as we have seen with Blackberry.

(on camera): How do they stumble so badly?

BEZOS: You know, I don't know. It is a very -- it is a very reasonable question. And I am sure it will be -- you know, probably many, many case studies on the history of the company and many ways it is -- still very innovative company. My guesses are there aren't any easy answers to the questions you posed.

SIMON (voice-over): But what about the questions about Bezos in his latest move, his $250 million purchase of "The Washington Post"? These are among his first public comments on the acquisition?

(on camera): Why didn't you get into the newspaper business?

BEZOS: For me, and -- I thought "The Washington Post" is an important institution and I -- am optimistic about its future. It is a personal investment. I'm -- hopeful I can help from a dissonance part by providing runway for them to do a series of experiments and in part through bringing the -- some of the philosophy that we have used at Amazon to -- to "The Post."

SIMON (voice-over): That philosophy, he says, comes down to this.

BEZOS: What has worked at Amazon is focusing on the customer, being very -- putting the customer first, which is easy to say, but difficult to do. If you really are customer centric, it is like being the host of a party. You are holding the party for your guests. Sometime the host of the party is holding the party for the host of the party. That's -- that leads to a different kind of party.

SIMON: For Amazon the party could not be much better now as its stock recently hit an all-time high. The company is poised to become even more relevant in people's lives as it works to expand its popular same-day delivery throughout the country. BEZOS: Our view on this is we know customers like their products fast and so we work on things that we know customers like. That's not going to change.

SIMON: Dan Simon, CNN, Seattle.


TAPPER: The new Kindle Fire HD will start shipping on October 2nd.

The "Pop Culture Lead" now, they angered every hipster from here to Williamsburg when they started popping up on the iPads of soccer moms and achieved worldwide success. But now Mumford & Sons is doing the most hipster thing ever. They are giving it all up. Live free for a while.


TAPPER (voice-over): This is the sound of success. British folk rockers, Mumford & Sons have taken the music world by storm. Scooping up Grammys, selling out arenas and scoring more Billboard Hot 100 hits in one week than any band since the Beatles. So why are they suddenly calling it quits?

The band just announced they are going on a break for the foreseeable future. Telling "Rolling Stone," they are, quote, "going the take a considerable amount of time off and just go back to hanging out." Hanging out not quite as thrilling as a worldwide tour that earns almost $500,000 at each stop.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've toured and toured this country out of pure passion for playing gigs.

TAPPER: But Mumford & Sons say, well, they are tired. Turns out being a rock star is hard work.

BRIAN HIATT, SENIOR WRITER, "ROLLING STONE": For the first time in a while they are going to take time where they are not immediately recording another album and not touring. They are not doing awards show. They are just living their lives. I think that's as simple as that.

TAPPER: But a hiatus does not necessarily mean the end.

HIATT: What happens is it both creates more of a fan demand because you are not over touring and also, you know, it makes for better music hopefully in the long run.

TAPPER: Just ask Flea from the "Red Hot Chili Peppers."

FLEA, "RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS": We decided to take a two-year break which was outstanding. I had the privilege of playing with lots of great people, going to college for a year, working on my music school.

TAPPER: His constantly evolving band used their 2007 break to regroup literally by replacing their guitar player. FLEA: It sounds great. It sounds vibrant. It sounds alive.

TAPPER: Another group pleased with their choice, the "Eagles." The Hotel California group has been around for more than 40 years minus, of course, that 14-year break they took to re-magine themselves.

GLENN FREY, "EAGLES": One of the things that's interesting is we have not overexposed in the last 42 years. I think there's -- I think will is a lot that has been left to people's imagination, which is wonderful because imagination is a -- powerful ally for many artists.

TAPPER: But not everyone can follow through. Adelle told "Vogue" she wanted to take about five years off. Only to pop up at the Brit Awards while the magazine was still on the stands. We could hope the same fate will befall Mumford's sabbatical. Mr. Mumford is expected to be performing at a concert in New York City this weekend.


TAPPER: At that concert this weekend, lead singer, Marcus Mumford, will be playing a song from the soundtrack of an upcoming Cohen brothers movie starring his wife, actress, Carrie Mulligan. The song's title (inaudible).

Coming up on CNN, what's it like standing and talking for 21 hours straight? We caught up with Senator Ted Cruz and asked him. That's coming up.


TAPPER: That is just about it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I'm joined by the one and only Wolf Blitzer. Wolf, today we talked a lot about Mr. Ted Cruz, Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas and his -- not really a filibuster, right? Short of -- it is kind after -- wasn't really technically a filibuster, a marathon talking session on the Senate floor, but you have a guest on your show who he knows from filibusters.

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN'S "THE SITUATION ROOM": Rand Paul, he is very good at that kind of stuff, too. So he's going to be joining us. We are going to talk about Obamacare, shutting the government down, raising the debt ceiling, a lot of good stuff coming up. This weekend, it is going to be -- a little edgy for all of us, whether or not Monday at midnight, no more money for the federal government or big chunks of it.

TAPPER: I have a lot much friends in the military and they are asking me now what is going to happen. Are we going to get paid, et cetera? Lot of people are very scared

BLITZER: I don't know the answer.

TAPPER: I don't have an answer either. Wolf, thanks so much. He will be right back with "THE SITUATION ROOM" in just a moment. Stay with us.