Return to Transcripts main page


Are Energy Companies Marketing To Children?; Matt Damon Sits Down With Jake; Family: "All He Had To Do Was Call 911"; Praying For The Leader Of The Free World

Aired November 15, 2013 - 16:30   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Let's explain the dangers of this drink. We spoke to a woman named Wendy Crossland earlier today. Her 14-year-old daughter died from cardiac failure, her mother says after her daughter had consumed two Monster drinks in two days, although a heart condition was also involved. She had a heart condition although she wasn't prevented from drinking these things. Listen to what Wendy told us earlier today.


WENDY CROSSLAND, SAYS DAUGHTER DIED AFTER CONSUMING ENERGY DRINKS: Unfortunately, this is bigger than her. She wasn't the first and unfortunately, she hasn't been the last. If you watched any of the kids from high school and middle school, they were all the shirts and the book bags, it's the thing.


TAPPER: She said even her daughter had asked for a shirt with an energy drink logo. She told her no. We reached out to Monster. They did call us back while we were on air. We will post their statement online when they send it to us. But what do you make of them merchandising aspect from these companies aimed at 12, 13, 14 year olds, apparently?

BLUMENTHAL: The merchandising and marketing are really creating a monster, literally, as the name of the drink implies. The reason is quite simply that high levels of caffeine for children taken regularly can be extraordinarily problematic and dangerous, especially given their growth levels, their maturities and other problems, heart conditions, that may make them even more susceptible to these problems.

What we're asking the energy drinks to do is to label so that children know these drinks should not be consumed by people under 18 years old, but also, take ownership about some of these health problems and exercise greater responsibility voluntarily. Otherwise, the government may have a role to play.

I'm reminded a lot of what we went through on the tobacco issue, and I was one of the attorneys general, state attorneys general, who spearheaded that effort, and we found that the tobacco companies were really marketing to children through cartoons and other kinds of ploys.

This marketing is reminiscent of that merchandising, even though the product obviously is very different. Energy drinks are nowhere near as dangerous as tobacco, but for some kids, they may be extremely problematic.

TAPPER: Senator Richard Blumenthal, thank you so much for your time.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

TAPPER: When we come back, we watched him solve one of the world's hardest equations on screen like it was nothing. In the real world, there's a big problem Matt Damon has not solved yet but he might be able to with your help.

Plus, let's hope Matt's friend Ben Affleck is taking notes from this little guy. This is how you become Batman. The wish that transformed San Francisco into Gotham City today.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. The Pop Culture Lead now, sure, he may be an Oscar-winning Hollywood A-lister now, but does anyone remember way back when, when Matt Damon was the one kid in the '80s movie "Mystic Pizza?"


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want my green stuff?


TAPPER: Fast forward 25 years from that riveting performance and Damon is now one of Tinsel Town's biggest players and is using his star power to help solve a global crisis.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you like apples?

TAPPER (voice-over): He's been a genius from Southie in "Good Will Hunting."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you like them apples?

TAPPER: An assassin with amnesia and a brand new conscience in "The Bourne" trilogy and a crooked cop in "The Departed." But to hear Matt Damon tell it, his most compelling role is bringing water and toilets to impoverished villages in developing nations. This isn't just to improve their lives. It's to save them. It's particularly crucial for the young. Water and sanitation issues kill children around the world at a rate equivalent to a jumbo jet crashing every four hours.

(on camera): Let's go meta for a second. Because you attaching yourself to this means I will be sitting here interviewing you, talking about an issue I probably wouldn't, and people at home, viewers, will be paying attention to an issue that they wouldn't otherwise pay attention to.

MATT DAMON, ACTOR: Yes. That's the hope. That's obviously the small part I bring, you know, to Gary's incredible expertise.

TAPPER (voice-over): Damon is the co-founder of His partner, Gary White, is one of the world's foremost experts in the field.

DAMON: I was really looking for the expert in the space, and when I couldn't get that guy --

GARY WHITE, CO-FOUNDER, WATER.ORG: I think we complement each other. Matt certainly has come a long way in water.

TAPPER (on camera): Why water? You're involved in a lot of different groups. We counted at least 30.

DAMON: Really?

TAPPER: Believe it or not.

DAMON: Does that include like the handsome men's club with Jimmy Kimmel?

TAPPER: Real organizations, actual organizations.

(voice-over): Damon lent his time and money to organizations that worked to end AIDS, hunger, poverty and even junk mail.

TAPPER (on camera): This is the one that seems --

DAMON: This is the one, this is what I spend all my time on. I just was shocked by how massive water was, water and sanitation. Water really kind of underpins everything.

TAPPER (voice-over): Worldwide, more than 750 million people live without potable water, making them susceptible to disease. Since 2009, has helped communities connect to clean water supplies through wells and microloans. The founders say their approach isn't just charity but a sustainable solution.

TAPPER: Tell me about the water credit. How does it work?

WHITE: So if you're in a slum in India, you might be spending hours every day walking to a public tap waiting in line, water is sometimes there, sometimes not. You might be paying the water mafia, which is basically people who come around and sell you 20 liters of water for a pretty high price.

DAMON: If you could actually front them the money to connect to the municipality that was piping water right underneath their feet, you would give them their time back so they could work at their job and pay the loan off.

TAPPER (voice-over): CNN traveled with Damon and White to India, where they checked in to see how their water credit loans are working. WHITE: When we were in India we met a woman paying 40 rupees every day for her family to go use the public toilet, they had to pay a fee, and to go and purchase the water that they needed. So with her, in her situation, she was able to get a water credit loan that allowed her to pay her connection fee to get connected to the utility and have a faucet in her home. She will come out way ahead.

TAPPER (on camera): I interviewed George Clooney about Sudan and Ben Affleck about Eastern Congo. Now I'm interviewing you about water in the developing nation. Was there some meeting where you all decided you were going to take on causes that were things that were not getting much coverage that the American people did not know much about? Did you decide to go --

DAMON: There was never like a meeting or anything, or you take this, I'll take that. I think there are a lot of us who think similarly about these issues and just connected personally to different ones.

TAPPER: I'm not trying to be funny about it, but did you try to find the single least sexy cause that you could?

DAMON: I wasn't trying to do that. I think what we were saying before and what you have to keep in mind is it's not just water. It's also toilets.

TAPPER (voice-over): The 1.1 billion world citizens still practice open defecation due to lack of sanitary facilities and the resulting disease kills millions each year. Now, this isn't a glamorous topic to discuss at Hollywood fundraisers, but Matt Damon has not shied away.

DAMON: Until everybody has access to clean water and sanitation, I will not go to the bathroom.

TAPPER: Earlier this year, he launched a spoof campaign with fellow celebrities to bring attention to preventable disease and sanitation issues.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We won't go to the bathroom.

DAMON: When we would speak about this issue, it would go up on YouTube and would get like three hits. That was after -- two of them were, right. So we went OK, this isn't really working. Whereas like some of the viral stuff I've done gets millions of hits. If you can get somebody laughing about something and they can also dive down a little bit on the complexity of this issue, then we're really getting something done.

TAPPER: Damon is big on getting things done. In 2011, he made political headlines when he told "Elle" magazine he was disappointed with President Obama, saying he preferred a quote, "president with some balls who actually got stuff done." Damon's comments did not go unnoticed.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Matt Damon said he was disappointed in my performance. Well, Matt, I just saw "The Adjustment Bureau." So right back at you, buddy.

TAPPER (on camera): I liked that movie.

DAMON: I hope he did, too.

TAPPER: I don't even think he saw it. I'll be honest.

DAMON: He wouldn't be alone.

TAPPER (voice-over): Now, sure, his fame brings need attention to Damon's causes, but that spotlight highlights his comments for naysayers as well.

(on camera): When it comes to getting involved in issues, you're involved in a lot, you have spoken out about teachers unions, and public school, you have spoken out about your disappointment with President Obama, inevitably you have critics.

DAMON: People really blew that up when I said that. In some cases, I have been unfairly. I have kind of chosen my words poorly when talking about him. Look, the truth is I voted for him twice. I campaigned for him. It's humbling to think about that job and how hard it is, particularly in the headwinds that he faces, the kind of historic headwinds that he's facing. I really wish him well, particularly right now.

TAPPER: Do you find it difficult to deal with the criticism? It comes with the territory if you're going to become an activist like this.

DAMON: Yes, I think if you put a megaphone out and say something, it's within any American's right to say something back to you. That's why when I speak out about something like public education. It really means a lot to me. It's also why I'm particularly happy that I spent all my free time working with One of the things I love about it so much is it's totally nonpartisan.


TAPPER: Of course, on Tuesday, that's World Toilet Day. That's one of the reasons why Damon did this interview with us, to bring attention to that day. If you want to see more of my interview with Matt Damon, including backlash from the Bush family, check out our web site, The program again, the charity is called

Coming up next, her family says she was just looking for help after surviving a car accident. So why is a man now charged with her murder?

Plus, it's something he rarely talks about, President Obama's faith. Up ahead, his spiritual advisor will share his personal stories about helping the president through some of his toughest times.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Now it's time for the Buried Lead, stories not getting enough attention in our view. The shooting death of a Michigan woman has stirred up some disturbingly familiar debates over self-defense and racial profiling. The family of 19-year-old Renisha McBride says she was killed while looking for help after a car crash and the man who says he shot her in self-defense is now as of today facing murder charges.

This all happened earlier this month in Dearborn Heights, a Detroit suburb. According to the medical examiner's office, McBride's alcohol level was twice the legal limit at the time of her accident. Witnesses say she appeared disoriented not long before she showed up on Theodore Wafer's front porch.

Wafer says he thought McBride was trying to break in. He accidentally shot her. But according to investigators, there were no signs of forced entry at the home. Questions have been raised about whether the shooting was racially motivated since McBride is black and Wafer is white but prosecutors say race issues did not play a role in their decision to file charges.

In a world often ruled by cynicism and snark, sometimes it takes nothing short of a super hero to save us from ourselves. That's just what we witnessed today in San Francisco, where thousands came together to make a 5-year-old cancer patient's wish to be Batman come true.

For Miles Scott, also known as Bat-kid, this was no longer the city by the bay but Gotham City. He was tasked with the important mission of saving a damsel in distress from the Riddler's evil doing. Miles has been battling leukemia since he was a year old. His cancer is now in remission.

The "Make-A-Wish Foundation decided to celebrate by making his dream of being Bat-kid come true. I for one would like to send a personal message to the Bat-kid, thank you for bringing the Riddler's reign of terror to an end.

To quote Steve Martin, "When I die, don't think I'm a nut, don't want no fancy funeral, just one like old King Tut." The bad news, a limestone figurine of King Tut's sister is missing after a museum heist in Egypt according to UNESCO.

The museum was ransacked by looters in August. Of 400 priceless artifacts unaccounted for, the statue of the king's sister is considered the most significant. Egypt has issued an international alert to try to find her. Keep your eyes peeled. She's 3,500 years old, gray and answers to the name of daughter of the Pharoah, Pocahonta.

When we come back, it's part of his job consoling the nation had its darkest hours, but how does President Obama himself get through tough times like now? My next guest is one of the people the president leans on.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. In the National Lead, Toronto mayor and walking after school special Rob Ford has admitted to smoking crack, buying illegal drugs, drinking himself into stupors and his approval rating is still a touch higher than President Obama's. That's not a joke.

It's a reflection of the nosedive the president is taking as the dismal enrollment numbers for his signature affordable care act roll in. Its times like these that the president can probably use some choice words from a man who has been there for some of his worst moments, his former spiritual advisor.


TAPPER (voice-over): In the midst of a bruising 2008 presidential campaign, a young staffer was quietly praying for his candidate and decided to let him know.

JOSHUA DUBOIS, AUTHOR, "THE PRESIDENT'S DEVOTIONAL": I was thinking I wonder who's looking after his soul, his spirit. So shot him an e- mail, wasn't sure what kind of response I was going to get, if I was going to get fired or what would happen if I sent this note. In a few minutes, he wrote back and said this is exactly what I was looking for.

TAPPER: That message was a short meditation on the 23rd Psalm. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. That started a daily tradition for Joshua Dubois and Barack Obama. About 2,000 devotions later, the e-mails are part of how the president quietly practices his Christian faith. Dubois joined the administration as the director of faith and neighborhood partnerships helping to shape policy and acting as a bridge between faith leaders and President Obama.

(on camera): President Obama is not somebody who wears his spirituality on his sleeve. How important is religion and spirituality and Jesus Christ to President Obama?

DUBOIS: You know, it's very important. I for one would rather have a leader who lives out a sermon than preaches one.

TAPPER: He has been criticized for not picking a church in Washington, D.C.

DUBOIS: We recognized very early on that when you bring the whole package of the presidency, all the Secret Service and all the lines and barricades and so forth a local congregation, there's a lot of burdens there. So instead of picking one congregation, he's decided to visit several.

TAPPER (voice-over): With politics, policy and war, the business of being the president can be all together unholy.

(on camera): How do you as somebody who is so attuned to the president's spiritual needs reconcile the job, which is born out of tough, un-heavenly decisions, and his relationship with God? DUBOIS: As long as, you know, you feel that within your own soul that the moves that you're making are right with God and right with yourself, then that's the best we can ask for. So my job was to help push him towards that relationship with God, where they could have their own conversation about what was right and he makes the best decisions that he can.

TAPPER (voice-over): His job approval ratings are at their lowest points in some polls. The president is in a tough time now. During past periods of doubt and difficulty, Dubois sent a go-to devotional about bouncing back. He quotes 2nd Corinthians, "we are hard pressed on ever side but not crushed, perplexed but not in despair," and he combined it with a story about legendary boxer, Joe Lewis, refusing to take a quick rest on the mat after being knocked down because he didn't want his opponent to get any rest either.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Joshua has been at my side in work and in prayer for years now, despite my pleas tomorrow will be his last day in the White House.

TAPPER: Earlier this year, Dubois left his role in the administration.

DUBOIS: So right after the National Prayer Breakfast he gave me a nice send-off.

TAPPER: There was just one condition, that he continued to send the president his morning devotional.


TAPPER: Dubois has a new book featuring many devotionals he sent to the president. "The President's Devotional" is on sale now.

That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Coming up on "THE SITUATION ROOM," Jim Sciutto is filling in. I will be filling in for Wolf at 6:00 so I will see you in one hour. Mr. Sciutto, take it away.