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Boston Could Get Up To 14 Inches of Snow; Snowstorm Set To Slam NYC; Criticism Of Bloomberg At NYC Inauguration; Netflix Testing New Pricing Plans; "The Wolf Of Wall Street" Backlash

Aired January 2, 2014 - 16:30   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Continuing with our National Lead and the huge winter storm that is impacting millions and millions of people across 20 states, let's go again to one of the worst hit areas, Boston, where it continues to come down.

Fred Pleitgen is there braving the elements. Should people in Boston just hide indoors with their snuggies and cocoa?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I would say now is about the time that if you're going to go inside, it's probably a good time to do that. We can look down the street here. As you can see right now, the road conditions aren't too bad at the moment. That's because a lot of roads were actually pre-treated with salt beforehand. There have been snow plows going past here a lot, but now it's really the time when things are beginning to intensify.

We can feel the snow getting worse. We can also feel the winds getting a little stronger. It is going to be more and more difficult to actually keep these roads clear. The other thing that's going to happen in the overnight hours, Jake, is that the temperatures are going to drop here considerably. It's one of the things the governor of Massachusetts said is going to be very, very dangerous for people who are outside, these freezing arctic temperatures that will happen.

Also of course, as we have been saying, flights are going to be impacted a lot. Right now we are still hearing planes take off from Logan Airport just around the corner from us. We do expect that airport to shut down its operations starting at 8:30 p.m. So as you say, for many people around here. Now is the time to get inside. Then when you wake up in the morning, you can only hope you will be able to get out of your driveway because it could be a lot of snow coming down the next couple hours -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Fred, stay warm. Thanks so much.

In the Politics Lead, snow will barrel down today on New York City, just as former Mayor Bloomberg handed the reins of the nation's largest city over to new Mayor Bill De Blasio. It was an inauguration that struck some observers as not particularly respectful towards the outgoing three-term mayor who left office according to a "New York Times"/CNN poll with a 53 percent approval rating. Joining me now from New York is Howard Wolfson who served as deputy mayor under Bloomberg and who for years was Bloomberg's eyes and ears. Howard, thanks for being here. Let's start off with the snow. Snow can trip up a mayor's approval rating in the blink of an eye. Is De Blasio's administration ready to deal with this major storm on your city?

HOWARD WOLFSON, FORMER NYC DEPUTY MAYOR UNDER BLOOMBERG: The day before the general election, then Mayor Bloomberg called all of his senior staff in and said I want to run the world's greatest transition and make sure that we do everything we can to help prepare then mayor- elect De Blasio for coming in on day one. He said you know, look, they may have to face an enormous snowstorm on his first or second day in office, and we want to make sure they handle it as well as they can.

So that premonition has come true. The fact is that New York City has the world's greatest snow fighting force. We've got sanitation department that eats storms for breakfast, eats blizzards for breakfast. These guys are prepared. The sanitation commissioner is a pro. He's been there a very long time. He knows what to do. I saw Mayor De Blasio on TV today. He looked very mayoral instructing New Yorkers what to do about the snow. So I think the city is in very good shape.

TAPPER: All right, well, let's hope so. Let's turn to the inaugural of the new Mayor De Blasio. Often inaugurations are about reaching out to critics, reminding everyone we are one people, one community. Fair to say this was not that? There was a lot of criticism of outgoing Mayor Bloomberg from the inaugural platform. Let's take a listen.


HARRY BELAFONTE, SINGER: Changing the stop and frisk law is as important as it is the change of the law is only the tip of the iceberg in fixing our deeply Dickensian justice system.

REVEREND FRED LUCAS, BROOKLYN COMMUNITY CHURCH: The plantation called New York City should be the city of God, the city set upon the hill.

TISH JAMES, NEW YORK PUBLIC ADVOCATE: We live in a gilded age of inequality where stop and frisk abuses and warrantless surveillance have been touted as success stories as if crime can only be reduced by infringing on the civil liberties of people of color.


TAPPER: That is very tough talk for an inauguration and many of these criticisms were aimed squarely at Mayor Bloomberg, his policies. What did the mayor think of it? What did you think of it?

WOLFSON: Well, the mayor has heard worse. You're the mayor of New York for 12 years. You hear a fair amount of criticism. The rhetoric is not particularly troublesome. I think what is important is to make sure that the facts are out there and to correct the record around much of what we accomplished in the last 12 years in particular around criminal justice. People know that crime in New York City is at record lows. We have the lowest murders in our history past year.

It's the safest big city in America, under Mayor Bloomberg crime was down about 33 percent. What people don't know is we didn't accomplish that by locking people up. In fact, incarceration rates were down over the last 12 years 30 percent. So while we drove crime down, enormous credit goes to Ray Kelly and the NYPD. While they drove crime down by a third, they also were locking fewer people up, 33 percent fewer people, at the same time that incarceration rates nationally were up by 5 percent.

So that's an important fact and I want to make sure that those facts are out there. I worked for a very data-driven mayor. He wasn't big on rhetoric, but he believed in facts and data. Those are important facts and data. When we talk about a Dickensian city, it's important to note we have today more private sector jobs in New York than any time in the city's history, and while poverty rose over the last decade in most other cities in the country, it remained flat here. That's not good enough.

We have a lot of work to do. We're all pulling for the new mayor to do even better than we did. Mayor Bloomberg said very clearly we want to make sure that the next mayor succeeds, builds on our successes and makes this an even better city, but let's make sure we're discussing a common set of facts around the Bloomberg record, which was a great record and which as you said, enabled him to leave office after 12 years with the majority of New Yorkers thinking he had done a good job.

TAPPER: I don't want to read too much into your tweets but you did retweet some criticisms of the tenor of the inaugural from other journalists complaining about the bitter tone. Did it bother you personally given your relationship with the mayor and the facts you just presented?

WOLFSON: You know, I have been around New York politics a long time, too. The rhetoric was not bothersome. The misrepresentation around the criminal justice record in particular was troublesome because this was a tremendous accomplishment for Mayor Bloomberg, a tremendous accomplishment for the NYPD, a tremendous accomplishment for everyone who had been working on these issues over the last 12 years. To bring crime down not by locking more people up, but by making sure that we provided alternatives to sentencing when appropriate.

So as I said, incarceration rates down 30 percent over the last decade while they were up 5 percent nationally at the same time driving crime down to record lows. It's my job to correct the record. Mayor's made it clear, Mayor Bloomberg made it clear he doesn't want any criticism of Mayor De blasio and I'm not going to criticize him. We're rooting for him to do well and to build on our successes, but let's make sure the facts are out there.

TAPPER: I would be remiss if I didn't ask at least one Hillary question given that you worked for her in 2008. She was a very visible presence at the inauguration along with her husband, Bill Clinton, who swore in De Blasio yesterday. He worked for the Clinton administration. He managed Hillary's 2000 run for Senate. You were Hillary's spokesman during the 2008 presidential campaign, which she'd lost in some ways because the progressives and anyone else who thought she was not progressive enough.

And now we're in this era of Democratic politics and De Blasio, and Elizabeth Warren and Jerry Brown. Is Hillary going to be able to get the De Blasio Democrats on her side should she ever need them?

WOLFSON: Well, Bill De Blasio worked as you know for both Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton. I worked with Bill when we were on Hillary Clinton's first Senate campaign in 1999 and 2000, then Bill De Blasio, now Mayor De Blasio, and there is a long history of friendship and mutual respect between Secretary Clinton and Mayor De Blasio, and it's I think very appropriate that the Clintons were there yesterday.

They have really become a part of New York's fabric, a part of our civic life, and they wanted to show their support for the new mayor. They were both very supportive of Mayor Bloomberg. We did a lot of work with both Clintons during the last 12 years and I suspect that the Clintons will have and maintain an excellent relationship with Mayor De Blasio going forward.

TAPPER: I'm talking about De Blasio supporters, Elizabeth Warren supporters, the progressive wing that De Blasio was speaking to in his speech. Will Hillary be able to appeal to them?

WOLFSON: Look, if Hillary Clinton decides to run for president, which I have no idea whether or not she will, I suspect she will run a world class campaign and will reach out to Democrats and with a very appealing message. I am very confident that should she decide to run, she will reach out very successfully.

TAPPER: Howard Wolfson, thank you so much. Best to your family.

Coming up next on THE LEAD, if you value your Netflix subscription as much as your firstborn child, you may want to sit down. Changes are coming to how the company offers plans. That's in our Money Lead coming up next.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Now it's time for the Money Lead, the reassurance is as follows, if you like your Netflix plan, you can keep your Netflix plan, period, sound familiar? Well, a Netflix spokesperson said there really is no need for customers to get antsy about some pricing packages being rolled out this year. Several new plans are being tested by the streaming service to try and attract new subscribers.

One of them would let you pay $6.99 a month to watch just one video stream with lower quality video. Another plan for $9.99 would let you stream three videos at once on different devices, but the company says these new plans are only being tested. They may never be available to everyone, which should mean the old plans are here to stay, right? Joining me now live from New York is the assistant managing editor of "Fortune" magazine, Leigh Gallagher. Leigh, great to see you. Happy New Year. Netflix coming off a monster year, stocks reaching record highs, original programming such as "House of Cards" going over huge with viewers, why change what seems to be working?

LEIGH GALLAGHER, ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Well, a couple different reasons, and as you said, this is just a test, this is only a test. But you know, for one thing, Netflix is facing higher content costs as it both creates original programming, all the wonderful things people really like cost a lot of money to produce, then secondly, Netflix also has to license the content that it just makes available so it has a lot of fees, those costs are going to grow.

At the same time, it has Amazon, who is going -- is offering more and more video via Amazon Prime, and Hulu, who is chasing at Netflix's heels for streaming video as well, original content as well. So the competitive landscape is heating up. Netflix obviously has gone great guns. It was the top performing stock in the S&P last year. But this is partially to defray costs and also to bring in new customers.

You wouldn't think the difference between $6.99 and $7.99 would open the flood gates, but in many cases, there is kind of a watershed marker that is a prohibitor for many more people to come in and join the party. So there are a couple different reasons.

TAPPER: Netflix says these new plans will not be offered to everyone. Is there a risk that current Netflix customers will just drop their service, sign up as new customers to get these cheaper plans being offered?

GALLAGHER: That's a risk. But I think Netflix has probably done that math and calculated that the potential upside would compensate for that risk and that the chance for many more consumers outweighs the chance that people are going to quit and re-sign up for $1 less. They also really want to do away with the moochers, people that are sharing passwords. That's already inhibiting a lot of revenue to some degree, too.

When you have houses of roommates or large families that are using one password or just friends who are sharing, that's always been a problem in any kind of business where content is protected by a password. But they are really trying to unlock more revenue by kicking people off of that kind of freeloading plan.

TAPPER: Netflix keeps stressing this is just a test, nothing to see here, but I'm a current customer. Should I be worried that my $7.99 plan is going to eventually go away?

GALLAGHER: That's a good question. I mean, I think it depends on how the test goes. They might not know the answer to that question even now or they might rather have you do, you know, would you rather have the $6.99 plan or they might introduce an interim. This is all very malleable. A lot of it will depend on what the response is to this new pricing plan. I think, though, that one thing we've seen over the past couple years is that people are really willing to pay a lot for their content. My cable bill is north of $200 a month now and I will pay almost anything they tell me, like I need -- you need access to the content and the stickier the content becomes, the more likely it is that people will pay more.

TAPPER: My God, is there a channel you don't subscribe to?

GALLAGHER: I just added Showtime for Homeland and now it will be more than that. They have us.

TAPPER: You need to send me your bill. I will line item that. Leigh Gallagher, thank you so much.

GALLAGHER: Thank you.

TAPPER: Coming up on THE LEAD, Leonardo Dicaprio defends his character in "Wolf Of Wall Street," but is the film's access keeping movie goers away? That's coming up.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Time for our Pop Culture Lead, it's not the first movie we've seen about Wall Street greed, nor is it the first to seemingly glamorize or even find humor in a criminal lifestyle, but for one reason or another, the new flick "The Wolf Of Wall Street," which tells the story of real life con artist, Jordan Belfort has got some people so upset they're calling for boycotts. The movie stars Leonardo Dicaprio as the stockbroker and viewers are constantly reminded of how much fun he and his cohorts had living the high life on the backs of their victims.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A $430,000 in one month?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're business expenses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look what you got here. Look at this, $26,000 for one dinner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, this can be explained. We had the clients.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Porterhouse from Argentina.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had to buy champagne.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We ordered the sides.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sides, $26,000 worth of sides? What are the sides, they cure cancer?

(END VIDEOTAPE) TAPPER: Of course, not everyone is in on the joke. Christina McDowell, the daughter of one of the men involved in the scheme, wrote an open letter to the filmmakers accusing of glorifying psychopathic behavior. Beyond that, some bloggers have been calling for moviegoers to boycott the film. Martin Scorsese responded to the criticism, saying, quote, "This is not something that's going to go away if you don't talk about it."

And Dicaprio told the web site ultimately, I think if anyone watches the movie, they will see we're not at all condoning this behavior. What we're saying is this is something in our very culture and needs to be looked and talked about.

For more on this controversy, let's bring in Sharon Waxman, editor in chief and CEO of "" Sharon, good to see you. Are you surprised at all by this backlash?

SHARON WAXMAN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF AND CEO, THEWRAP.COM: Not really. Martin Scorsese's movies always push the envelope. His movies are very extreme. They like to show extreme behavior. The difference here is it's not a criminal underworld of the mob that he's showing. It's the financial behavior on Wall Street and the margins of Wall Street that goes on, that's part of the daily lives of America.

I think that we are still smarting from the economic collapse that many people have suffered from, not from the period depicted in the movies, which is the 1980s but it's mirroring what's going on in this country recently. I think emotions are pretty raw about it. The movie does not clearly come down on -- in judgment of Belfort.

He gets off in this movie, spoiler alert, with three years in prison, a slap on the wrist. At the end of the movie, he's teaching seminars to people and teaching that behavior for money, which is what he's doing today, I believe.

TAPPER: That might be one of the problems, these people not being sufficiently punished. You knew at the end of "Casino," another movie about bad guys, they were either dead, or in prison or living in the witness relocation program. Leonardo is taking heat beyond the film for this video making the rounds, shows him seemingly praising Jordan Belfort as a motivator. Let's take a listen.


LEONARDO DICAPRIO, ACTOR: What separates Jordan's story from others like it is the brutal honesty in which he talks about the mistakes he's made in his life. I have been in his company many times, but there is nothing quite like Jordan's public speaking and his ability to train and empower young entrepreneurs. Jordan stands as a shining example of the transformative qualities of ambition and hard work, and in that regard, he is a true motivator.


TAPPER: Sharon, you say this clip has incensed some of your readers. WAXMAN: Ouch. Yeah. We've had very angry comments on our site. Look, we are very much about people who understand the film industry so there are people who are defending Scorsese saying if you expected something other than what you're getting, which is lots of sex, lots of drugs, usually you get violence, but extreme behavior, and it's a movie. On the other hand, you do have people saying there's a lot of it, it's a three hour movie so there's an excess of the excess, and also, the fact that it's not really what Dicaprio says there. There's not a lot of recognition of his behavior in the movie.

TAPPER: He doesn't really judge his characters. That's one of the things that marks his work. In "Raging Bull" he would beat up his wife.

WAXMAN: He's an artist, one of the great cinematic talents of our era. I think what people are angry about, they feel there isn't more of a message here. I think it's connecting to the pain people have been feeling through the economic collapse we have gone through.

TAPPER: This film has already earned two Golden Globe nominations. Does this controversy help or hurt the Globes and Oscar chances?

WAXMAN: We broke a story that when this film was shown at the academy, the motion picture academy, there was a little bit of a situation when Scorsese was confronted by a member of the academy. There are some who feel this is too much, they don't like this. This is not the first time it's been the case. What I will say is movies that are divisive, and this is one of those movies. Some people like it, some aren't comfortable with it, those movies do not tend to win best picture.

TAPPER: Interesting. Of course, there was "The Passion of The Christ" as well perhaps his most controversial picture. Sharon Waxman, thank you so much.

We leave you with the biggest news of our day here at THE LEAD. Our producer, Ed Marr and his wife welcomed their second son just a few hours ago. George is as handsome as his princely name would suggest. Congratulations to Ed, Mara and new big brother, Henry. Here is to no sleep for any of you in 2014 and a lot of wonderful times.

Check out our show page at That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I'll be back at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Now I turn you over to Jim Acosta in "THE SITUATION ROOM."